Monday, June 13, 2016

THE SACRED PLACES


Extract from Traditional Witchcraft for  the Woods and Forests
“It is said that the forest knows all and is able to teach all; that the forest listens and holds the secret of every mystery”.   [Lore of the Forest]




Since ancient times, woods have been places of sacred groves and nemorous temples, including those of the Druids and Iceni.  Sir James Frazer refers widely to sacred groves and tree worship in The Golden Bough, while Old Craft teacher, Mériém Clay-Egerton wrote extensively on the subject of trees and produced some highly evocative pieces relating to her experiences:

“To me this was a place that had obviously been held as a sacred area for so very long now that it had in its turn breathed this very atmosphere itself and so projected this onto a mind which was prepared or conditioned to be both sympathetic and empathetic to various woodlands and their forms of existence … it resembled what I might envisage as a naturally constructed ‘cathedral’. Here lived and breathed holiness and beauty …”

The Wild Wood, however, is the dark, untamed part of natural woodland where unearthly and potentially dangerous beings are still to be found. This is not everyone’s favourite place and many urban witches never get over an ‘atavistic fear of Nature uncontrolled’. Historically, the term ‘wildwood’ is the name given to the forests as they were some 5,000 years ago, before human interference, and the pollen records for that time confirm that elms made up a substantial component of the wildwood, along with the oak, birch and lime.

On a magical level, the Wild Wood refers to those strange, eerie places that remain the realm of Nature and untamed by man. Ancient gnarled oaks, festooned with ferns and draped with lichen, carry an air of solitude and remoteness that is deeply unnerving — here birdsong and the trickle of running water are the only sounds to break the stillness. It is the Otherworld of the ‘unearthly and potentially dangerous’. It is the realm of Pan and the Wild Hunt. In modern psychology, it refers to the dark inner recesses of the mind, the wild and tangled undergrowth of the unconscious.

Here, among the trees, we are never sure that what we see is reality or illusion. Mériém Clay-Egerton described the strange half-light that anyone who walks in the Wild Wood will immediately recognise.

I was always glad to go deeper into the apparent gloom because I would be beyond one of the woodland’s outer barriers.

Although it is impossible to describe the sensations of the Wild Wood, no one who has walked there can remain unchanged by the experience. Nevertheless, even witches are not always welcome in this tree-filled wilderness. Hostile forces can physically bar our entrance into the inner sanctum of the wood, just as Philip Heselton describes in Secret Places of the Goddess. The undergrowth is a thick tangle of briar and bramble, giving the aura of a place ‘set apart for mysterious concealment’. Entwined with these almost impenetrable barriers, are tufts of tall ferns, the seeds of which can be used to cast a witch’s cloak of invisibility.

We must learn to heed the signs, however, for Nature does not always allow humans to pass.
Nevertheless, Traditional Witchcraft for the Woods and Forests takes us on journeys of discovery through Nature’s own woodland ‘calendar’ and, hopefully will reawaken the dormant senses that coursed through the veins of those witches who lived long ago in these ancient places. In a series of guided meditations and pathworkings, we will learn how to reconnect with the spirit of the landscape and learn to walk softly through the woodlands of both the physical and the astral realms. We will come to understand the gift of Nature’s bounty, and make use of the materials that will ultimately lead to an intimacy with wild things that can only come about through close contact and familiarity.



Traditional Witchcraft for the Woods and Forests by Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books in paperback and e-book format.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

EXTRACT FROM TRADITIONAL WITCHCRAFT FOR THE SEASHORE

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY




Colour correspondences

The colour of the sea varies from a dull leaden grey in gloomy weather, or from the yellow or brown of a muddy river mouth, to a startling blue or green. Off parts of the coast, it may have a milky appearance from clay deposits and yet seen on a bright summer’s day from the cliff top it may almost be a rich purple – the ‘wine-coloured sea’ of the Greek poets. The colour, however, is controlled by:

• the particles that float in it;
• the angle from which it is viewed;
• the brightness of the day;
• the reflection of clouds or adjacent cliffs;
• and, in the shallows, by the colour of the sea-floor.

Here, light shining through a wave crest gives a momentary glimpse of translucent green, while the billows that break on a reef are coloured by the reflection of the marine life that lives on the rocks. From Sea & Seashore we learn that water has a slightly bluish tint, which intercepts the reds and yellows of daylight much more quickly than the other colours, so that only the blues and greens can penetrate to any depth below the surface; a white object sinking into the water turns blue before passing out of sight. Finely divided drops of water always look intensely white, so that the spray from a breaking wave is literally whiter than snow; compared with the spray, indeed, snow seems almost drab. In the wake left by a moving vessel the white foam contrasts with the colours of the undisturbed water, and still more strikingly with the emerald green or azure blue of the water churned up from below.

So, sea-witches working with the Element of Water can choose whichever colour s/he feels most appropriate for the beach on which they work. The colour correspondences for water can therefore range from pure white to muddy brown, with every shade of blue in between. And if we turn to the Table of Magical Correspondences given in Liber 777 – we find that the colours for Water are also far ranging from deep blue to white, flecked purple, like mother of pearl; deep olive green and sea green.

Similarly, here at the water’s edge the Element of Earth also runs the whole gamut of colour combinations and textures, depending on the type of beach and its location. All around the coastline there are sands and shingle of every imaginable hue purple jasper, green schist and serpentine, red and gold sand, red sandstone, yellow limestone, rock crystal, agate and carnelian far more in fact, than the unadventurous indigo; black rayed with blue, blue-black and black as given in the Table of Correspondences.

To represent the Elemental of Air, what could be more fitting than a sea gull in flight, its white and blue-grey plumage contrasting with the yellow of its bill and legs, against the clear blue of the sky.  Not surprising that the Table of Correspondences gives us bright pale yellow; emerald, flecked with gold; blue, emerald green; and sky blue!

And finally, what can we find on the beach to represent the Elemental of Fire? The Table of Correspondences gives us glowing orange-scarlet; vermilion, flecked crimson and emerald; scarlet flecked with gold, so what else can there be except the fiery sunset that reflects all these colours as the sun sinks down into the sea on the distant horizon.
A single, or combination of any of these colours, can be plaited or woven together to create the only shop-bought ‘tool’ (with the except of a pen-knife) in the sea-witch’s armoury – the Girdle or Cord.


This extract is taken from Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore – published by Moon Books and available from www.moon-books.net or from Amazon in paperback or e-book format.



An Introduction to The Secret People





The Secret People: Parish-pump witchcraft, Wise-women and Cunning-Ways
Melusine Draco

“I’ve so looked forward to this book. It high time our old ways came to light again so that we can all remember and use them. Draco writes in a style that is easy to read and her knowledge of the old ways is enormous. Anyone who wants to get back into the old customs and traditions of Britain will find this book a source to be treasured,” writes Elen Sentier, author of Shaman Pathways: Elen of the Ways, shaman and herself a wise woman

The Secret People is a wander down memory lane and a step back in time; it is that ‘other country’ of the past where parish-pump witches, wise women and cunning folk still travel the highways and byways of a bygone era. Their voices can still be heard in the recipes and remedies handed down via an oral tradition, and now giving new knowledge to the next generation of pagans. It was a world where men went out with a ferret in a box and a long-net, accompanied by a silent long dog for a companion under a ‘poacher’s moon’.

From ‘owl-light’ until dawn these people walked silently in the woods and along the hedgerows, watching and waiting to collect Nature’s bounty to be used for the benefit of themselves and their neighbours. From them came the introduction to spells and charms, divination and fortune-telling; the language of birds and the movement of animals – all grist for the witch’s mill. Mysterious horsemen might share secrets of horseshoe nails and thunder-water; while countrymen lived by weather, the seedtime and the harvest.  It’s a rich tapestry against which I spent my childhood – and already it has become ‘history’.

Nevertheless, few of The Secret People could be called traditional witches by any stretch of the imagination, and many would have been mortally offended to be referred to as a ‘witch’ or ‘pagan’. Few parish-pump witches would have thought about the skills they possessed since these were merely natural abilities, and even fewer wise women and cunning folk would have had any concept of the sombre and often dangerous rituals required for the raising of energy needed in the practice of true witchcraft. Theirs was a knowledge that filtered down in the form of  simple spells, domestic plant medicine and country lore, imparted to offspring, friends and neighbours, who in turn handed it down to their children ... and so on down through the generations. In fact, in his Dialogue Concerning Witches & Witchcraft (1603) George Gifford observed that local wise women ‘doth more good in one year than all these scripture men will do so long as they live’.

In reality, most would live by the Church calendar, inveigling saints to add potency to their healing spells, or to guide a hand in locating missing property; with many of the protective charms being aimed at deflecting malevolent witchcraft! Most old ladies in the parish seemed to have a wide repertoire of fortune-telling tricks to amuse young girls looking for a husband, not to mention the applied psychology of already knowing their neighbours’ business, which made divination with playing cards and tealeaves a push-over, and even up until recent years the village fete always had a fortune-telling tent. And since the early Church calendar had been formed around the agricultural year, the men folk of the village had no problem with presenting themselves, their animals, and produce from the harvest for blessing.

The Secret People would have greatly outnumbered the practitioners of traditional witchcraft since the practical abilities that define a true witch are bred in the bone and not everyone can lay claim to the lineage. The skills of The Secret People can, however, be learned and perfected with practise and for those who struggle to find a label with which to empathise, it is hoped the lessons taught here will help the reader to establish some sort of identity that sits comfortably with them.

Today, under the ubiquitous umbrella of paganism, the parish-pump witch runs the occult shop in the high street, the wise woman dispenses Reiki healing and the cunning man has become a professional tarot reader. The countryman’s world has disappeared under a sprawl of urban housing and ring roads, while the poacher has yielded his domain to the brutal gangs
that slaughter wildlife on a commercial scale – even the poacher’s dog, the lurcher, has found his niche in the ‘fly-ball’ event at Crufts!

And yet...the knowledge of The Secret People is still there for the learning, if only we know how to search for it and rediscover our identity.


“The Secret People is all about the kind of practical folklore our grandmothers and great-grandmothers would have used in their daily lives when planting a cottage garden, foraging for herbs in the hedgerows, treating family ailments and making the most of what was around the house,” writes Lucya Starza, author of Pagan Portals: Candle Magic and herself a witch. “It is also about the secret folklore they would have known, from love charms and fortune-telling to protection spells and magical cures. The book is both really useful and a delight to read. Mélusine said that it would take me on a trip down memory lane, and it certainly did.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Book News continues ...

Just been notified that The Secret People: Parish-pump witchcraft, wise-women and cunning ways will be released 30th September, so watch this space.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Latest book news ...

There are now two new books in the pipeline for Moon Books - The Secret People: Parish-pump witchcraft, wise women and cunning ways and Pan: Dark Lord of the Forest and both due out later this year.  Will keep you posted ...

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY ...


EXTRACT FROM TRADITIONAL WITCHCRAFT FOR FIELDS AND HEDGEROWS

Pathworking Exercise

Within traditional witchcraft one of the most potent times for magical or meditational working is at dawn and dusk. As we have seen, of particular interest to the witch are the boulders, trees and streams that serve to denote the limits of land ownership, and often supplemented by man-made markers,
including banks, ditches, walls, double-hedges and tracks. These boundaries mark the magical division between time and place — the place of time between times, and it is here we will attempt our next exercise. Gone are the days when we could roam the countryside at any time of the day, or we may not have physical access, so we can perform this psychic exercise in the safety of the home.

Firstly, we need to visualise a ‘field margin’ that we can recreate on the astral at any time. It may be a favourite spot a where the field is flanked by a stream; a large boulder in the over-grown margin, moved to its present location by glaciers in the last Ice Age; or the green cave of a double hedge. Our picture book will provide us with images that can focus the mind’s eye like a camera lens as we stand at the edge of a wood, looking out to where mist still lingers over the stubble field; an avenue of beech trees; or a winding cart track between tall banks of wild flowers. This is our ‘jumping off’ point where we can visualise ourselves before embarking on a pathworking.

Pathworking is an astral journey for the purpose of magical/mystical instruction whereby the witch has no control over the outcome or sequence of events. This state is usually reached via visualisation where the witch sets the scene on a conscious level and then allows herself to be drawn into an involuntary journey of discovery and/or revelation. So … at dusk or dawn, make yourself comfortable and set up your Circle according to your own working method, and begin by visualising your chosen ‘field margin’. Concentrate on the images before you and allow yourself to be drawn into the scene …

No one can predict the results of a pathworking, or where the journey will lead, since each individual’s results will be different. Much depends, however, on what we have in our mind prior to the pathworking, and this will influence the direction or outcome. Since we are using the technique in search of magical or mystical instruction, it should not be used for a personal gratification or mere thrill seeking. Remember to ensure you are properly ‘earthed’ when returning from any pathworking by consuming sweet biscuits and a warm drink, since nothing dispels psychic energy like food!

Traditional Witchcraft for Fields And Hedgerows is published by Moon Books
www.moon-books.net



Thursday, March 24, 2016

SYNESTHESIA – by Alex Bay



I am a synesthetic dancer and performer (and Witch). My synaesthesia is that I can `see` music. As clear as day. As different coloured shapes that are full of motion. The deep brown/black round heavy shape of a bass drum,comes into vision as I hear the sound. Then fades away at the same time that the sound stops. The ticks of a high-hat look like white and black quick lines, like a hair clip. Of course, leaving behind any personal experiences you have had with a certain sound, which may effect how you feel about it. We can talk about sound in a synesthetic way.

Everyone knows that repetitive beats that are low, keep you grounded but out of your normal self enough to do the work. Mix grounded low bass with some evocative sound for male energy work (think Wardruna, maybe?).  Whereas flowy, soft, pan pipe sounds can evoke the feminine. Personally I like my Feminine a bit wilder and stronger than a pan pipe. But we're all different.

So, we know that deep, earthy sounds are grounding. Obvious, yes? Grounding to just you? Or do they affect the energy of your working space also? If you are after a highly energetic group working, that involves fast movement and a culmination of a super fast, arms raised blast off. Then probably best not to include any grounded noises at all. You may be able to work with it, or even against it, but your fighting every single atom of energy that has been made heavy and thick by that drum bang.  I can see why Wiccans use a bell (light, high vibrating sound and energy), and why Yogi's use a Singing Bowl (still high energy but so smooth and grounding. Also constant, like meditation). What kind of worker are you? What is your aim for your practise?

I teach dance also, and one of my current classes is a very evocative, deep and sensual practise. The music of which is crucial for the class energy to go smoothly. I see this `line` that has to stay throughout the class as a temper, texture and also a power to it. The music has to have this is in common.

Synesthesia not only counts for music, its the way for all sounds for me. Your voice will have a texture colour and shape. (Something to try with your loved ones; talk to each other, see what you see). You don’t have to have synesthesia to figure out what you need. Although I do believe it can be brought on through attention and practice. And it's going to be different for everyone. Choose the next Solstice/ Equinox. What colour and shape is to YOU. Write down those words. Now what sounds/music corresponds with those words to you? If you have been taught that Beltane is blue and Samhain is Purple then that may be hard to shake off.

The planets have their designated colours, and so do Elements and quarters. As for your personal symbols you need around you to cross the ditch, they have to be personal to you and your environment. To some, Lust is a powerful red, and pulsing, and deep. To others it is gold, like honey. Shimmery. To some, Lust can be a forest green, natural, fertile. You can choose music and scent to accompany how you `see` your aim in your working. If you can `see` your music. And it's not that hard to, once you start listening.

So, we have briefly, without going all quantum, covered that sounds may effect the energy of your working space as well as you. We have covered how to start seeing what you hear (voices I find are best to start working with, then music, then birdsong). Once you find music easy to see, move onto water. What colour, texture and shape is Wind? (That one is a toughie. Sometimes Wind is silent as it thuggishly pushes you down the street.).

Lastly, try shouting out and `seeing` your own voice. This will, funnily enough, be hardest to see, as your emotional state and also confidence may hinder you. You will feel, rather than hear. I am currently sitting by my fire, and feel very silly and embarrassed about shouting out for no reason. And all those colours and textures of my embarrassed voice will come through. Which is a hindrance.

But, if I were to work on, practice and decide on a neutral noise, than I could use. As a comparative, to the noises around me, or even the thickness of the stillness. It would be a great tool to use to sense the energy your surrounding area. Find your neutral noise, practise until it is consistent , see how it `looks` in different locations. Try not to choose something that will draw attention in the Wood at night. For obvious reasons. If you work indoors, something quick that will bounce off the walls will give the most information. If you really wish to increase this sensitivity skill, study kinaesthetic spatial awareness. By way of movement. Primal movement classes are very `in` and easy to find these days. Work with your body and your space, so you can `work` with your body and your space. `




ABOUT ALEX BAY
Alex is a open field and hedgerow kinda gal, and has been working with her local fauna since the late 90`s. She likes to give a wide birth to birds that she passes in the street so as not to interrupt them, but will always interrupt your conversation to reply to your pet