Monday, December 10, 2012

Aubry's Dog

Now have a publication date for Aubry's Dog - another of the Shaman Pathways series for Moon Books - available from 29th March 2013.

By Spellbook & Candle - more news

My latest book, By Spellbook and Candle seems to have caused a bit of a stir in some Circles – simply because it deals with the subject of cursing.  This not the usual motley collection of superstitions and folklore, but as Michael Howard, editor of The Cauldron observed in his review: “It is refreshing in these days of vanilla-lite witchcraft that someone actually acknowledges that modern witches can and do curse.”

In Traditional British Old Craft we do curse – not very often but when it is necessary to resort to a Higher Law and we have exhausted all other methods of obtaining justice. Like the character in How Green Was My Valley who was dissatisfied with the outcome of a legal dispute saying: “We’ve tried English law, now we’ll try a bit of Welsh law!” before going out to thump a neighbour!  It was also an observation confirmed by Keith Thomas in Religion and the Decline of Magic, concerning a method of obtaining justice for those who did not have a voice in a court of law.

This does not mean, however, that Old Crafters go around cursing with impunity.  There is always a price to pay and any experienced magical practitioner accepts the consequences of their actions. A curse thrown in a fit of rage or jealous pique might be extremely effective, but a knee jerk reaction might also rebound on the sender if the proper procedures aren’t in place.  The old saying about revenge being a dish best served cold suits the witch’s approach to cursing but, more often than not, they will not expend the energy necessary for a successful curse when a bottling or binding can be just as effective.

Research for By Spellbook and Candle revealed that when it comes to the most virulent of curses, you can’t beat Christianity when it comes to throwing examples that can last for generations and make witches appear as rank amateurs in the game!
The Cursing Litany’, translated from the ancient Egyptian by Margaret Murray, however, is probably the most deadly of all, because it is not only aimed at the living, but also the obliteration of a person’s spirit and memory after death  This particular curse requires the participation of two or more people: one to speak the curse, the other(s) to repeat the refrain ‘Mayest thou never exist’.

Mayest thou never exist, may thy ka never exist,
may thy body never exist.
Mayest thou never exist.
May thy limbs never exist.                          Mayest thou never exist.
May thy bones never exist.                         Mayest thou never exist. 
May thy words of power never exist.          Mayest thou never exist. 
Mayest thou never exist.                            Mayest thou never exist.
May thy form never exist.                          Mayest thou never exist.
May thy attributes never exist.                   Mayest thou never exist.
May that which springs from thee never exist.
                                                                   Mayest thou never exist.  
May thy hair never exist.                            Mayest thou never exist.
May thy possessions never exist.                Mayest thou never exist.
May thy emissions never exist.                   Mayest thou never exist.
May the material of thy body never exist.  Mayest thou never exist.
May thy place never exist.                          Mayest thou never exist.
May thy tomb never exist.                          Mayest thou never exist.
May they cavern never exist.                      Mayest thou never exist.
May thy funeral chamber never exist.        Mayest thou never exist.
May thy paths never exit.                           Mayest thou never exist.
May thy seasons never exist.                      Mayest thou never exist.
May thy words never exist.                         Mayest thou never exist.
May thy enterings never exist.                    Mayest thou never exist.
May thy journeying never exist.                  Mayest thou never exist.
May thy advancings never exist.                 Mayest thou never exist.
May thy comings never exist.                     Mayest thou never exist.
May thy sitting down never exist.               Mayest thou never exist.
May thy increase never exist.                     Mayest thou never exist.
May thy body never exist.                           Mayest thou never exist.
May thy prosperity never exist.                   Mayest thou never exist.
Thou art smitten, O enemy. 
Thou shalt die, thou shalt die.
Thou shalt perish, thou shalt perish, thou shalt perish.


By contrast, a more ‘homely’ and user-friendly curse is The Gage, an interesting adaptation from the Walter de la Mare poem of and used in revenge for the killing (or deliberate injuring) of a pet dog, The Gage offers an example of an extremely powerful curse. For example:

“O mark me well!
For what my hound befell
You shall pay twenty-fold,
For every tooth
Of his, i’sooth,
Your life in pawn I’ll hold.”

Here we are bringing down a curse that is twenty times the number of teeth in the dog’s mouth, which for an average healthy, adult dog is around 42.  This means that the magical practitioner must weigh in the balance whether the punishment fits the crime. After all, it would be rather extreme if someone had merely given your dog a clout for attempting to ravish their prize-winning bitch. That said, this curse used against any act of cruelty against a dog - intentional or unintentional - might be seen to be justifiable. Cursing, like most areas of magic, is a question of personal responsibility and/or morality but once thrown cannot be retracted and even the mildest accident magnified 20 x 42 is going to have serious repercussions.

My own personal favourite is the curse of the Hell Hounds, also known as the ‘Curse of Macha’ and adapted from the version in E  A  St  George’s The Book of Ghastly Curses.  This appears to be a very old witches’ curse that calls upon the spectral Hell (or Gabriel) hounds that normally accompany the Wild Hunt.  These ghostly hounds are a widespread and integral part of British native superstition to such a degree that the mournful howl as an omen of death has almost reached the status of cliché in folklore writing. The victim experiences the sensation of being harried and pursued, especially during the hours of darkness, and the fear of being torn apart.

Gather up a magic spell, summon forth the hounds of hell,
Over sea and over land, answer to a witch command,
Changing moon from bright to dim,
the hounds of hell must follow him.

Gather up a magic rite, hounds of hell go forth tonight,
Follow him where he shall go, follow hounds, the witch’s foe,
Where he lies the blood will mark.
Changing moon from bright to dark.

Gather up a magic spell, follow him, O hounds of hell,
He who betrays must bleed, hounds of hell behold the deed,
Changing moon from bright to dim,
hounds of hell shall follow him.


Cursing, however, is not always the answer to an insult or injury and it is important to remember three pertinent points:  (1) Curses once thrown cannot be retracted and may rebound on the sender; (2) there is always a price to pay by the sender; and (3) an effective curse requires a tremendous application of physical and psychic energy and can be extremely debilitating for the sender.  So why go to the bother of cursing when a bottling or binding can be just as effective.


REVIEW: BY SPELLBOOK & CANDLE Cursing, Hexing, Bottling & Binding by Melusine Draco (Moon Books UK£4.99 US$9.95 89pp) “It is refreshing in these days of vanilla-lite witchcraft that someone actually acknowledges that modern witches can and do curse. After all the historical evidence is there in spades and the Church did not make it all up. What is pretty amazing, or will be for some people, is how many of the curses in the book have a Christian origin. As well as cursing charms and rituals the book also covers the magical arts of binding, the use of the witch-bottle and returning hexes to their senders.” Recommended.  Michael Howard, Editor of The Cauldron

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

REVIEWS: By Spellbook & Candle



Lucya | http://www.badwitch.co.ukCurses are a controversial subject among witches. Without doubt, the traditional image of the wicked witch has her cursing all and sundry - curdling the milk, blighting the crops and striking people down with horrible ailments just by muttering an ill-intentioned hex.
It is a depiction modern day witches have worked hard to overcome. Wiccans, and most other neopagans, like to see ourselves primarily as healers and helpers. We cast spells for good, not to cause harm. Many believe that cursing is not only pretty anti-social, it is also dangerous because the bad luck can rebound on the caster...
...Yet there are also those who say that if you can't curse, you can't cure, and that if you are going to master even the whitest of white spells it is useful to have a little knowledge of the darker arts. A new book due out this month, By Spellbook and Candle by Melusine Draco, explores that area of magic.
I'm sure this book will find critics who feel the subject matter is one best left alone - that curses are invariably evil and so it isn't sensible to publish a book on how to do them. Personally, I don't think such censorship is at all helpful. There is plenty of information on curses out there on the internet already for those who want to learn about them. Better to have a responsible book that explains the dangers of cursing and the ethical questions about them. 
Read the rest of this review on http://www.badwitch.co.uk/search?updated-max=2012-10-13T00:44:00-07:00
Personally, I hope I never feel the need to cast a curse on anyone or anything. But if I ever do, I want to know the best way to go about it. And this book would be a good one to turn to for that information.

Nimue Brown | The Druid Network
This is a book as fascinating for the ethical and philosophical questions it raises as for its content. It’s just under 100 pages of intensely delivered information, opening the reader to what is clearly a vast, complex and challenging subject. Melusine Draco puts cursing into its historical context – highlighting the widespread use across times and cultures. She offers examples of private, vengeful cursing, protective cursing, religiously underpinned cursing – as with excommunication, and formal, socially endorsed cursing. The ethical arguments for and against these variations could be discussed in a book several times the length of this one. The author makes clear that cursing has profound consequences and should never be considered lightly, but that there are times when to prevent harm or seek justice, it may be the only path available. The traps of self importance and anger are flagged up, but it does all come down to the judgement of the individual.
It’s good to see someone having the courage to take on this subject. Many writers on the subject of witchcraft prefer to say ‘we don’t go there’ and ‘just don’t and leave it at that. The history of cursing is a fascinating one though, laden with insights into other times and cultures. For that reason alone it is well worth studying. And the history of the topic makes clear that curses have been widely in use for a very long time, pretending they don’t exist won’t make them go away. In terms of how people perceive pagans, curses have always been part of the image. There’s much to be said for tackling that head on.
This is a thoughtful book, well written, full of interesting information and plenty of historical curses, as well as discussions of the context in which you may choose to use them. It’s slightly uneasy reading at times – and given the subject matter, it really should be. It asks some very interesting ethical questions of the reader. Would you? Have you?
I’m not a great user of spells of curses, but aside from wishing back any malice that has been sent, my preferences are as follows: To wish meaningful learning experiences on the person, to wish opportunities to grow and develop as a human being, to wish them insight and understanding, and an awareness of how others perceive them. I have also, at times, sought to invoke the forces of poetic justice. All things considered, the consequences of such wishing could be quite harsh on someone who deserved it, but would hardly touch someone who was doing well. In comparison, the curses in this book are a good deal more complicated, both in terms of method, and possible outcome. This is important work, for what it tells us about magic, history and the human condition. Even if you have no desire to hex anyone, there are a lot of reasons to pick up a copy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Publications dates

I've just been informed that Black Horse, White Horse is due for publication on 22nd February 2013 and The Atum-Re Revival is due on 26th April 2013.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Eternal Quartz

This short extract from Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones was posted on the Axis Mundi blog:


Despite the wide variety of gems and crystals available for magical working, it is the quartz element of granite that reconnects us with the spirit within the landscape.  In Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones, I use the words of my old tutor, Mériém Clay-Egerton, who was an accomplished occultist and, having a doctorate in geology, was fascinated by the fact that for millennia humanity and quartz had interacted with each other. She wrote that our ancestors recognised the qualities of quartz was and used it, not region by region, but over the entire area of the British Isles: “Everywhere there are clear distinct traces. To people who know its potential, it was clearly no accidental employment of any material to hand. It was sought out for use. Why?”

Quartz is solid silica and if it did not crystallise when it solidified it is known as flint, and everyone knows that two flints struck together will produce a spark. What is not generally known is that all quartz pebbles will do the same and often produce bigger and better sparks. Clear quartz, or rock crystal, will produce an orange spark if two pieces are struck together in a darkened room, together with the smell of burning and this can be viewed as magical fire from the very Earth itself

Quartz is the most common constituent of rock, having three molecules arranged in either a right or left-handed spiral form, which has the power of polarising light in more than one direction:When light enters a crystal it splits into two beams, due to the differing speeds of the light’s velocity being refracted back from the different vibration of the crystal’s lattices, and their own individual refracting indices. In certain circumstances, the crystals can act as ‘windows’ to ultra-violet and infra-red wavelengths. In addition to these scientific points, we may also hear quartz crystals hum or ‘sing’. We can also see quartz crystals displaying piezo-electric effects.”

These are scientific terms for what our ancestors knew: “Burial chambers with quartz kerb-stones were commonplace, as were the pits used for inhumations, which were sprinkled with quartz chippings, both whole and broken. There is a school of thought that these were used to either keep the individuals concerned safely at rest, or to permit the living to contact spirit entities when they were in a correctly attuned state.

On a magical level: “Standing stones (some of which are made of quartz, others may contain a high percentage of it), are accepted by psychics [and magical practitioners] as being able to act as conductors of ‘earth-force’, such as that encountered at nodal points for energy lines. If they are acting like natural ‘acupuncture needles’, then it is not surprising that they should be as pure a substance as possible and with natural powers of their own. Many circles in the south-west of England appear to have been originally constructed with a central point; other phases being tacked on afterwards. A quartz stone, or stones with high quartz content, will often appear in such a prominent position, having superseded the original wooden post.

And much closer to home: “Nowadays, we protect our water with chemicals to make it fit for us to drink, but in ancient times folk made offerings to the guardians of holy wells. Some were simple things, others were valuable objects that had been ceremoniously broken; it is strange how often white stones, and quartz in particular, figured highly on the list of offerings. As the wells were quite often used in fertility and healing rites, then I suppose we should naturally expect quartz to be a frequent gift. Today, crystal healing is still practised; and quartz plain or coloured, is one of the principal stones used — yet another relic of our past.

Quartz is one of the most popular of ‘crystals’ and pebbles having quartz as their dominant constituent are to be found on almost every beach, the differences in colour and appearance due to varying amounts of other minerals in each one, and also the way in which the quartz has formed. Despite all the wealth of the world, for the magical practitioner, natural quartz should remain the most precious gift of all.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones

Just received the first advanced copies of this title and very pleased with the results.  It was a long time in the writing and researching but I think it was worth it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Forthcoming titles

Just had the cover designs through for the latest titles in the Moon Books power animals series - Pagan Portals - for Aubry's Dog and Black Horse, White Horse.   These should be available early in 2013.

Monday, August 6, 2012

USA Breakthrough

We have just agreed to provide a regular contribution on traditional British Old Craft for the American Witches and Pagans' blog PaganSquare.   Witches and Pagan is an important US publication with a wide readership and we will be submitting regular updates explaining some of the differences between Old Craft and modern Wicca.  See website www.witchesandpagans.com

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rocks are a girl's best friend


Article published in Brigid’s Fire magazine - Ireland at Lughnasad 2012

Regardless of where we live in the world, some geological formations are better suited for magical or creative working than others, an idea that was mooted by Dion Fortune in her novel, The Goat-Foot God. … “Now the best place to get the kind of experiences you want is on chalk. If you think of it, all the earliest civilisation in these islands was on the chalk … Avebury’s on the chalk; and St Albans is on the chalk …”  Christopher Tilley in A Phenomenology of Landscape, however, gives a wider overview of the topographic features of the prehistoric landscape that attracted our distant ancestors’ attention: an affinity with the coast; mountain escarpments and spurs; the ridges, valleys and chalk downlands. Obviously, the most important aspect of each site being not what is seen above ground, but the geological formation beneath our feet.

There are, of course, many different types of rock that make up the Earth’s surface and each of them will have certain positive or negative magical/creative properties. As an example, we will look at what has been found to be the best and the worst when it comes to drawing from, or stifling magical/creative energy.

The Best: Slate is a widespread, metamorphic rock commonly found inter-layered with sedimentary strata and with rocks of volcanic origin. Once we understand that quartz is very abundant in slate and may form as much as 70% by weight of the rock, it is not difficult to see why this particular material generates so much Earth energy – quartz being one of the most powerful crystals on the planet. Magical, psychic and creative working on slate packs a very distinctive punch, especially if the slate layers are close to the surface.

The Worst: Clay - the name derives from Old English clæg meaning ‘sticky’ - is a widespread sedimentary rock with grains too small to be seen under any but the most powerful microscope, and may form in many different geological environments throughout the world. The most extensive layers are found in both deep and shallow marine deposits, in moraines (piles of debris) left behind by receding glaciers, and in zones of pre-existent rocks (especially granite) that have been altered by hydrothermal fluids.  Try walking through heavy clay and it immediately becomes apparent why Earth energy is often ‘blocked’ or sluggish. Magical working on clay involves a lot of energy-generating techniques by the practitioner, and unless there is a considerable amount of experience (and knowledge) to draw on, things may take a long time to come to fruition.

Here in the Glen of Aherlow, however, the mountains are Old Red Sandstone – a tough enduring rock formed during the ‘Caledonian Foldings’, the mountain-building period of the Earth’s long history.  The pressure caused the underlying softer Silurian rocks to fold into great ridges; and over millions of years the erosion dust compacted to form this magnificent range of Red Sandstone mountains. The Galtees are Ireland’s highest inland mountain range, a high ridge which rises up almost sheer from the surrounding plain.  Two major Ice Age periods have affected the area, and the rounded summits of the Galtees are due to the higher parts being above the ice. This freeze-thaw action on the higher peaks gradually wore them away to form the stony, scree covered summits we see today. This glacial action also formed cirques (or corries) on the higher slopes – amphitheatres or hollows, which are now five gloomy lakes.

Despite being easily weathered, sandstone has been used by builders and sculptors for thousands of years, including the ancient ruins of Petra (Jordan), which has been described poetically as ‘a rose-red city half as old as time’. The disadvantages of sandstone are out-weighted by its natural beauty and the ease with which it can be shaped and carve into outstanding works of art such as the famous bust of Queen, Nefertiti that has survived more or less intact since it was carved during the Egyptian 18th Dynasty.

And as the author observed in Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones and The Hollow Tree: A beginner’s guide to the Tarot and Qabalah, because sandstone is highly susceptible to weathering and decomposition, and ultimately crumbling to dust, we can safely assign it to the Element of Earth. Or more precisely, the ‘Earthy part of Earth’ symbolised by the Princess of Disks in the Tarot, who represents the ‘element of the brink of Transfiguration’. She has been depicted with her sceptre descending into the Earth where the point becomes a diamond, and her shield denoting the ‘twin spiral forces of Creation in perfect equilibrium’.

Which might go a long way in explaining why, in the five years we have lived in the Glen, I’ve managed to complete eight books in quick succession, several of which had been lying dormant for several years.  The energies of the Glen are ‘dark’ – not in any negative sense – but because the primitive history of the place is unchanged and unchanging.  And if, like me, you are someone who is attuned to primitive energies, then the magical/creative urges will be stimulated with a vengeance when living in such a magnificent location.   The mountains are never the same on consecutive days: the summits are either capped with snow, radiating in the mellow tones of sunset, shimmering in a soft blue haze, cloaked by low-lying clouds and soft rain, or (on rare occasions) crystal clear images of a hot summer day when sheep are seen as tiny pin-pricks of white against the green.  And when the river is in high-flood, the Glen turns into a vast lake, just as it was before people came to inhabit this part of Ireland.
The area also has a wealth of prehistoric monuments, the earliest of which, is a passage-tomb at Shrough, on the Slievenamuck Ridge (immediately behind our cottage), and south of Tipperary Town, which dates to Neolithic times (c.4000–2400BC); with many prehistoric monuments, such as standing stones, surviving in upland areas on the slopes of the Knockmealdown and the Galtee mountain ranges. In the western part of the county, around Emly (where we lived before moving to the Glen) and Lattin, there is a dense concentration of barrows, earth-built burial monuments from the Bronze and Iron Ages (c.2400BC–AD400).
In legendary terms, Darby’s Bed, located, like most Irish passage tombs is on a hilltop site, near Galbally on Duntryleague Hill - the westerly end of Slievenamuck Ridge. This great megalith is said to be the grave of Olill Olum, one of the early Kings of Munster. The name Duntryleague is derived from Dún-Trí-Liag, meaning the ‘fort of three pillar stones’, and Diarmuid and Gráinne are also said to have rested there in their flight from the angry Fionn MacCumhaill.  A path through the forest leads to this amazing burial ground where one enormous rock slab rests across a number of upright stones.
But before you respond that this ‘creative stimulus’ is merely wishful thinking on the part of the writer, I would have to add that I experienced similar literary outpourings when living in my homeland of Wales, near the Preseli Mountains.  These hills are also dotted with prehistoric remains, including evidence of Neolithic settlement, and in 1923 the bluestone from the hills was identified with that used to build the inner circle of Stonehenge. Archaeologists have since pinpointed the precise place from where the bluestones were removed in about 2500BC - a small crag-edged enclosure at one of the highest points of the 1,008ft high Carn Menyn mountain. The stones were then moved 240 miles to the famous site at Salisbury Plain. This discovery came a year after scientists proved that the remains of a ‘band of brothers’ found near Stonehenge were Welshmen who transported the stones. The skeletons were found by workmen laying a pipe on Boscombe Down and chemical analysis of their teeth revealed they were brought up in South West Wales. Experts believed the family accompanied the stones on their epic journey from the Preseli Hills to Salisbury Plain.
By contrast, the time between living in Wales and Ireland, was spent in the flat, reclaimed lands of Suffolk and rural Leicestershire, and produced hardly anything at all of a creative nature.  To get any form of inspiration it was necessary to take the dog for a long walk to a spot that proved itself to be particularly strong on magical/creative energies, and that was the granite outcrop at Markfield (Charwood Forest in Leicestershire) that rises up from the Midlands clay plain. These rocks are more closely comparable with those of many parts of Wales and represent some of the oldest known anywhere in England.  On the western side of this central plain, the magical Malvern Hills are also unlike any other outcrop in England and Wales, and may represent a slice of pre-Cambrian base-rock, which is only found at the surface in north-west Scotland.  Weekends spent in the Malverns also produced a surge of creative energy that quickly diminished after returning home on the plain.  The Suffolk sojourn produced absolutely nothing at all, to the point of atrophy.

·        Once you have located what appears be a suitable site, try to pinpoint your own personal energy spot by using a pendulum that contains an element of quartz. Dowse the site thoroughly and calculate where the energy is the strongest from the pendulum’s reaction.

·        If a location seems unsuitable for magical or inspirational working, then a short journey might make all the difference. For example: the short distance between the clay plain levels at Charnwood, and the granite outcrop was only a daily dog’s walk away from each other.

The surrounding landscape does influence the way magical and creative workings come to fruition, and also the amount of effort needed to be put into the ritual or writing project to bring about the desired effect. By understanding what lies beneath our feet will enhance our magical and creative ability, especially if we can learn to plug-in to the natural energy of the place.

An extract from Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones by Melusine Draco to be published by Axis Mundi, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing in October 2012 in paperback and e-book format.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Publishing history:

For a complete publishing history see bottom of page

Friday, July 6, 2012

ignotus books are still in demand!

It's recently come to my notice that ignotus press titles are now fetching silly money on the second-hand market.  Coven of the Scales by Bob Clay-Egerton has an asking price of £40+ - might have to consider releasing this as an e-book at some stage.  Other ignotus titles are also increasing in value on Amazon and ABE Books.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore - Review


Review from Andy Lloyd’s Book Reviews
andy-lloyd@hotmail.com
www.darkstar1.co.uk/traditionalwitchcraft.htm
Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore
I recently heard a presenter on Radio 4 say something like “Of course, there weren't any real witches” as a throw-away line, as if assuming that the whole movement itself was something dreamt up by misogynistic religious nuts with pyres in need of human kindling.  Yes, the genocidal witch-hunters hated the old religion and drove it to extinction.  But there was actually an old religion there to destroy.  Gradually, that movement is re-emerging, mostly in the form of Wicca.  And what a wonderful thing it is - devoid of the dogmatic power-trips of monotheistic religions, immersed in science and folklore, and most of all promoting a tangible connection to the environment.  Surely it is a religion for our times?  Yet it treads warily.  There is still much prejudice - even fear and loathing - aimed at witches, who are generally grossly misunderstood.
The ‘Traditional Witchcraft’ series provides varied information about what it means to be a practising witch in modern times.  In places, it feels like a guide, or self-help book.  But there is much more to it than that.  What strikes me is the amount of science running through the book.  To understand nature is to live as a part of nature, and ultimately to become one with its changing patterns and cycles, to synchronise one’s own psychic or magical energy with natural tidal forces and the elements.  So a witch, like no other religious practitioner that I’m aware of, must study her environment carefully, and attune her life to it.  For a witch devoted to the sea and seashore, that involves learning much about the tides, weather, flora and fauna of the coastline, lunar cycles, as well as the folklore and myths of the sea: 
"The world of the sea-witch is not confined to the shore and the water margin.  It is a multi-dimensional world of light and shadow, of reality and illusion, where we have moved into the subjective world of the spirit - a rich fishing-ground for those who trawl in these inner seas.  The Mystery is now within and around us.  By immersing ourselves in the world of myth and legend to such a degree, it has become as tangible to us as the 'real' world, forming a continual back-ground to our daily life." (p133)
The learning is multi-disciplinary, and feels almost as if one was studying a textbook written by a poet.  Yet the science collated in these pages is interesting, and pragmatic.  Intermingled with the factual information is much about rituals, superstitions, beach treasures to collect for magical means and, of course, spell-casting.  The witchcraft seems real enough - the engagement in the rituals and practice requiring as much faith as any other religion as to its efficacy.  The author warns against the use of black magic, but does not shy away from revealing some of its secrets. 
Each witch finds their own path, and the sense here is mostly of a solitary journey rather than the work of a coven.  Indeed, many times the author cautions the reader about how to conduct her craft in public spaces so as not to draw attention to herself.  That wariness is still very much apparent, and after centuries of religious persecution perhaps that is wise counsel.  Yet, the old religion is never far from the surface even in everyday life - you just have to know where to look.  The book shows how seafarers and those whose lives depend on the sea, cling to superstitions deeply entrenched in the old lore.  The crafts of sailors of yesteryear are closely related to the spells and rituals of the sea-witch e.g. the tying of knots.  Witches, through their personal study and observation of the coastal environment, were able to attune themselves to the weather, and thus predict in-coming storms - very useful for local folk before satellite/computer based forecasting, but this was also a knowledge that created a sense of unease.  Knowledgeable women made the local patriarchs uncomfortable, of course - plus ça change.
Not everyone tuned into the sea can physically live near it, of course, and the book also provides advice for the budding sea-witch who lives inland, even in an urban environment.  Much information is provided on how to build a sea garden sanctuary, away from prying eyes, to conduct ritual and relax in. The tides still extend their reach inland, as science has shown through its study of the remarkable tidal recalculation made by inland oysters (p115-6). 
Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore is like a Radio 4 feature about witches - not that one could ever imagine that happening, or imagine a witch providing ‘Thought for the Day’ on the Today programme!  But it has that sense of quiet wonder about it, supported by education, knowledge and, above all, wisdom.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

New Books Under Contract

This week I've added two more books to my forthcoming titles list in the Moon Books Shaman Pathways series: Black Horse, White Horse and Aubrey's Dog - Power Animals Within Traditional Witchcraft.  A couple of good reader's reports are well worth noting ...


Submitted by Krystina Kellingley (Aubrey's Dog)
I really enjoyed this, a really good read. It starts off with an interesting story and maintains the reader’s interest throughout. I enjoyed the historical and scientific information as well as the charm, amulet and herb lore. The second chapter was a fascinating look at breeds and their characteristics and the bearing this has from a magical perspective and I also really enjoyed the stories of superstition. In fact this book has lots of appealing information on everything and anything you could ever want to know about the dog as a power animal and spiritual companion. It’s written in a very reader friendly manner and I can see dog lovers of all descriptions being hooked by it.



Submitted by Maria Moloney Wilbrink (Black Horse, White Horse)
I like earthy books. Big fan in fact. Also a big horse fan it being one of my own animal companions as it must be for others. Lots of interesting information and research. It's a good reference book but also has rituals and practical exercises



Probably due for publication before the end of the year ... and as we've reached the (very wet) Summer Solstice, I will be taking my customary break from writing until after the Autumn Equinox. MD.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Update ...

Been a hectic couple of months with hardly any internet access but things are now moving on.  The new Coven of the Scales website (www.covenofthescales.com - Email: moonraker369@covenofthescales.com) is now up and running and ToK has a different email address: templeofkhem@covenofthescales.com.  All future contact should be made via this address.

Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones is scheduled for publication in September, with Pagan Portals: By Spellbook and Candle hot on its heels.  The Atum-Re Revival is at the proofing stage and should be in print by the end of the year.  Putting the finishing touches to a couple of 'power animal' books so that the proposals can go in to Moon Books in the next couple of weeks ... then it's a break until September.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book News

The Dictionary of Magic & Mystery is now out and I'm highly delighted with the result. It was originally compiled for my own personal use, but like Topsy, it 'just grew'd'. Also available as an e-book from Moon Books at www.johnhuntpublishing.com.

Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones is in production and should also be available shortly.

The contract has been signed for a small addition to Moon Book's Pagan Portals - By Spellbook and Candle: Cursing, Hexing, Bottling and Binding - which should be published at the end of this year.

The final typescript has been submitted for The Atum-Re Revival, which has has a favourable reaction from the publisher's readers:

Submitted by Krystina Kellingley: A really well written, interesting and knowledgeable book. Having quite an interest in the Egyptian Mystery Tradition, I found this to be an extremely solid and informative text. Well structured, and excellent detail, it does a really good job of explaining a very complex and complicated subject in a reader friendly and accessible way. I like how the author explores the connections and aspects of the Egyptian Mysteries in other belief/mystery systems such as the Kabbalah and Extraterrestrial life. I also like the practical advice, the exercises and the Invocations. There is much here to appeal to anyone at all interested in the Egyptian Mysteries.

Submitted by Maria Moloney Wilbrink: I really like this. Another great book from Melusine. I have studied a little Egyptian magic, but this book is fascinating and goes much further than anything I have previously read. Well written and honest is doesn’t pretend to be the original Egyptian magic, but a modern take on it, based as far as possible on ancient magical principles. This is my favourite approach to magic. I would certainly buy it. Educational but accessible there is plenty in the book for the magical practitioner, but also it is a good grounding for those about to embark on an Egyptian Mysteries based pathway. As usual, there are lots of exercises and tips included.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

BOOK REVIEW

Once again, Melusine Draco has delivered an important contribution to the study and practice of traditional witchcraft. This work contains a wealth of information on harnessing the magical power of the sea and its flora and fauna. As in Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living, the magical theory and practice outlined is solidly grounded in natural phenomena experienced by everyone. The usual neo-pagan and new age fantasies are replaced with solid information on oceanography, meteorology, and nephology in a way that is not only useful to a magical practice but very interesting. A thorough catalog of plants and animals and their magical uses, as well as an extensive selection of spell work and spiritual exercises, make this a valuable resource for beginners and seasoned practitioners.
The book is not just for those of us fortunate to live close to the sea. A person living in any location can benefit from making use of the natural tides that are an important feature in the practice that is thoroughly explained by the author. The writing is accessible, thought provoking, and often humorous. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
Chris G, USA

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ancient Egyptian Wisdom for the Modern World

As Principal of the Temple of Khem, Mélusine Draco has taught the Egyptian Mystery Tradition since the organisation was formed in 1996. This extract is from her latest book, The Atum-Re Revival: Ancient Egyptian Wisdom for the Modern World. Published in the Imbolc issue of Brigid’s Fire magazine.


The interest in the religion and spirituality of the Egyptians is increasing steadily as people begin to realise that it is possible to follow this ancient belief in the 21st century. This religion is the oldest recorded belief system in the world, having just entered its sixth millennia - and can still teach us how to live in both earthly and cosmic harmony. But first, we need to put things into some sort of perspective …

In Egypt, the actual worship of the gods was performed by a professional high priesthood with two main functions: the god’s daily offering ceremony (which was a private affair) and the periodic public festivals. At the next level there were the lower ranks of the priesthood who performed other tasks within the temple precincts at different levels of importance: men and women of letters who maintained the order within the establishment.

On a popular level, the seasonal festivals commemorated various events in which the people could participate, i.e. New Years Day, the sowing and the harvest, and the Inundation of the Nile. Ordinary Egyptians only participated in temple ritual if it linked their destiny or well-being with that of Pharaoh or State (which was one and the same thing), but no doubt they all turned out in force at the great temples when Pharaoh fulfilled his obligations on the principle feast-days. Historical records show that even the poorest were given to celebration and feasting whenever the opportunity allowed, although neither the public nor the lesser priesthood were admitted within the precincts of the inner temple.

To overcome this exclusion ordinary people set up their own sacred areas for worship, which have been found on the periphery of the temples, in their homes and tombs. These rites, whether celebrated in the outer courts of the temple, or in a private personal space, were all considered a divine act of worship in favour of their particular god. If they required a spell casting or a magical talisman made, they went along to the appropriate temple and the priest provided whatever was necessary.

Let’s make no bones about it, today’s Egyptian interpretation belongs to a revivalist tradition and should not claim to be anything else. Nevertheless, the system needs to be as close as it can to the beliefs of ancient Egypt without falling into the trap of lumping all the gods together in one ageless pantheon … and expecting their heka to work! In order to follow the Old Ways, it is easier to understand if we use three separate approaches:

the Stellar Path that deals with the primeval/primordial forces of the universe usually aligned with ritual magic and inner temple working;

the Solar Path that offers a more intellectual, spiritual or mystical approach;

the Lunar Path, which concentrates on the purely devotional aspects and the ability to move between the worlds, i.e. different planes of consciousness.

This three-fold approach needs to be understood from the start, but so does the enormous time span of Egyptian history, which always tends to complicate matters when identifying with a particular deity or Dynasty. For example a pre- or early dynastic Egyptian would probably not have a clue who Isis or Osiris were if they did not live in the particular province or nome, of which these were merely localised deities. Conversely, a New Kingdom priest would look upon Neith as simply a minor funerary goddess, when in her hey-day she was the mighty hunter-warrior goddess of the pre- and early dynastic Egyptians.

A fundamental study is necessary because not everyone works magically or mystically, at the same level. Some take longer to realise that an intimate knowledge of Egyptian myth and its attendant politics is essential for the effective practice of magic/mysticism at a higher level of awareness. A knowledge that has to extend beyond the stereotypical deities of popular Egyptomania to embrace a wider and loftier range of supernatural beings; and to accept that the deities are not real ‘gods’ at the student’s beck and call. This is why it becomes so important to successful magic to be able to differentiate between the different levels of magic, historical influence and religious emphasis that mark the subtle shifts of importance between the different Paths. And to do so safely.

It may appear that this is merely massaging a system that purports to be all things to all men, but this is not the case. The original Egyptian religion was stellar based. Early texts refer to the stairway to heaven and the alignment of the mortuary temples situated toward the north the direction of the circumpolar stars indicate the importance of the Imperishable Stars in the Mysteries. According to Egyptologists, the architectural changes in pyramid design reflect the shift from a stellar cult to one that was fully solar as the religious ideology changed and the newer priesthood gained power. As each new centre became to focus of power, so the religion altered and a new set of myths were created to attest to the local gods’ supremacy over the Old Ones.

These shifting influences on Egyptian history meant that reference texts fell roughly into two separate categories. Firstly, actual magical, religious and mythological sources written by the early native priesthood for the Egyptian people and secondly, later accounts of magic, religion and mythology translated by Greek and Roman historians and philosophers, who recorded information as told to them by latter-day Egyptian priests, since they were unable to read the texts for themselves. And by the time of the Graeco-Roman invasions the priesthood were themselves extremely vague and uncertain about the early dynastic religion of their own country. Subsequent translations indicate that they did not really understand the rudimentary principles of the archaic religious system, the primitive stellar-cult, or the nature of its symbolism.

Unfortunately, many present-day writings on the Egyptian Mystery Tradition make no attempt to unravel the tangled skeins of this magico-religious evolution. Rather, they impose some over-simplified form of order on the chaos created by the multitude of dual-purpose gods from different periods of history. But there is no way of simplifying this complicated tapestry because of the immense time span from pre-dynastic times to the Battle of Actium, which sealed the fate of the last ruling Great House of Egypt. Cleopatra, in terms of dating, was nearer to man landing on the moon than to the building of the Great Pyramid at Giza (Old Kingdom).

In the days of Egyptian antiquity, however, many of the gods were abstract concepts rather than actual anthropomorphic god pictures familiar to us today. Many of the later fully-morphed deities were originally theological concepts represented by a distinctive hieroglyph, very similar to the correspondences used in modern ritual magic. As the need for a controlling religion grew, so did the spiritual need for more tangible forms on which to focus the common people’s devotions.

The common man’s mind dwelt on the concrete, not the abstract and so the gods took on those easily recognisable animal-human shapes to satisfy the religious-teaching-by-pictures demands of less scholarly folk. The images recorded in tomb paintings, bas-relief and statuary were intended to represent living forms of the gods themselves, or Pharaoh as a god. There was a simple reason behind this. Egyptian life, magic and religion were inextricably intertwined, one simply could not, and did not exist, without the other. God, or a male/female/multiple concept of that god, was manifest in everything animate and inanimate.

By the Middle Kingdom, the attributes of the major gods were subsequently extended to create a whole pantheon of relatives and helpers. For example, the concept of Ma’at as the symbolic terminology for cosmic order, and earthly truth and justice, was depicted in the Pyramid Texts by an ostrich feather. This concept later metamorphosed into a beautiful woman, who sat in judgement on those in the Underworld; she was sometimes shown as the wife of Thoth, or the female embodiment of the god himself. In fact, the popular form of Egyptian religion, as most people know it today, is fundamentally a Greek interpretation.

Egyptian religion developed over thousands of years, with each deity assuming many forms under the influence of the many different religious movements and/or foreign invasions. Each form also developed its own positive and negative aspects, which responded in various ways to different people, and so it is impossible to be dogmatic about how the gods of those different theologies relate and blend. It is also important to realise that the original religion was never an earth-bound concept since the priesthood explored mysticism on a cosmic scale: their spirituality extending to the stars and beyond. The Egyptian civilisation took over 3000 years to fully evolve and a further 2000 years to decay, which is why the Egyptian Mystery Tradition cannot be encapsulated into convenient modern packaging.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living

Neighbourhood Witch by Mélusine Draco
An extract from Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living, published in the Lughnasadh 2011 edition of Brigid’s Fire - Ireland's Pagan magazine.

If we are constantly suffering from tiredness, minor health problems and depression it is easy to convince ourselves that we are the victimof psychic attack. We then worry ourselves further by trying to work out who might be responsible. In reality, living among a high density of humanity with all its attendant problems, we are less likely to need protection from psychic attack, and more against the pervading influence of negative energy that is found in concentrated pockets nowadays in urban areas such Dublin or Limerick. Even if we keep ourselves aloof from the increasing crime/drink/drugs culture, any neighbouring social malaise can still seriously affect us on a psychic level.

Over a period of time a build-up of localised negative energy can develop a life force of its own, and the only way for it to ‘feed’ in order to metamorphose is to latch on to an unsuspecting body in much the same way as any earthly parasite. This blanket malaise that often smothers many of our urban environments can be best likened to good, old-fashioned smog that used to per­meate everything in the inner cities. The pollution might be gone but there is a different kind of social ‘smog’ invading our personal space that can have a de­bilitating effect on our lives.

Even if our own particular ‘patch’ is peaceful enough, each time we go shopping, or travel to work, the evi­dence of mindless vandalism and barely suppressed aggression confronts us on all sides. Broken bottles and discarded beer cans litter the streets; the remains of a previous night’s takeaway deposited by the bus stop. Chewing gum, vomit and spittle make walking a hazard. Plants ripped from the municipal beds and trampled under foot. The constant noise of bawling children ac­companied by yelling disgruntled mothers. The 24-7 smell of fast food, and the intrusive sound of passing car stereos, played at full blast …

Unfortunately we cannot always choose where we want to live, but we can learn to live how we choose, and to block out the things that can be psychically dam­aging to our functioning on a spiritual level. To combat this we need to take some simple steps to create a safe haven because each time we come home we bring in negative energy every time we open the door. Starting from scratch, we need to cleanse the whole house or flat using a decoction of fresh bay. Using the whole of the plant where possible (leaves, stalk, flow­ers), prepare sufficient liquid to cleanse every entrance to your home - doors, windows, chimney and even air-bricks! Add a tablespoon of salt to the liquid and wipe round the window and door frames; sprinkling any oth­er area such as the fireplace and threshold as an added precaution. For extra protection, crush a bay leaf into the door and window catches, or place a whole leaf into every crack and crevice where “ill may enter”.

We also need to examine ways of protecting ourselves from all the negative vibes we encounter. To create a protective bubble, so that the flotsam and jetsam of daily living becomes like water off the proverbial duck’s back! In other words, we need to empower ourselves psychically to withstand the outside pressures that threaten our inner calm. There are so many people who really do believe themselves to be the victim of a psy­chic attack because they feel prey to a permanent men­tal, physical and emotional drain. In a way they are cor­rect, but the ‘attack’ is the result of inexperience, rather than anything directed at them from some known or unknown enemy.

Without delving into the domain of ritual magic, there are numerous parasitic entities that inhabit the inner and outer astral realms which feed off all those nega­tive impulses generated by thousands of people con­fined within a less than perfect environment. They have been described as parasitic creatures, or lost souls, seeking to stretch across the abyss and make contact with the warm, constant flow of humanity. Like all para­sites, these astral shells prefer to feed off a healthy host than an enfeebled one, and the unwary who have in­sufficient magical protection will attract such entities like a beacon, especially if they begin to generate psy­chic energy during private ritual working or meditation.

The Pouch and Power Objects
One of the most effective methods of protection is the magical pouch, containing a selection of ‘power ob­jects’ that are yours, and yours alone. The pouch should never be touched or opened by anyone else; otherwise the potency of the contents will be dispersed. This is a universal and age-old shamanic concept but one that is equally as valuable in the twenty-first century.

The pouch can be made from any material, but it is good idea to choose one of a fairly durable nature — if you find something suitable ready-made, this is fine. The pouch itself should be ritually cleansed but the items that go in it should not. This is because you are selecting items that carry a ‘buzz’ of their own, and all you will do is destroy the natural propensities that ac­company each find. Remember that herbs and plants will quickly dry and turn to dust, and the elegant mag­pie’s feather will all too soon become tatty. Choose more enduring items — like the friend who carries a piece of coal in her pouch ... it was once a little carved figure but the constant battering inside the pouch has rendered it unrecognisable. Nevertheless for her it still remains a serious power object.

Don’t be in any rush to acquire these items. Discovery can be quite by accident. Don’t go searching, just learn to keep your eyes open for such treasures but do avoid the expensive polished crystals from the high street shop or pagan fair — a piece of home-growth quartz or pebble can pack just as good a punch. Once assembled, our pouch is our own magical power pack or psychic generator that can be used to channel healing or pro­tective energy, even if we are away from home. It can be recharged now and again by placing it on a window­sill in a patch of sun or moonlight, and will continue to transmit a powerful aura of protection.

Talismans and amulets
The difference between amulets and talismans as pro­tective tools lies in the preparation rather than the pur­pose. Both are ancient forms of magical protection and highly potent tools of power, but we need to under­stand when and how to use them. Most people have a lucky ‘piece’ they carry around and the superstition surrounding amulets goes back to ancient Egypt and is still going strong!

Preparation of the amulet
An amulet is with us at all times, often as a piece of jewellery: i.e. a ring, key fob, pendant, or just carried loose in a bag or pocket. It is worn to deflect trouble and adversity in a very general sense; in other words, a good luck charm to turn away negative influences.

An amulet requires no preparation, particularly if it is something given to us in friendship - like a hagstone. Once we have recognised or accepted its ‘lucky’ or pro­tective powers, it should never be touched by anyone else; unless we choose to give it away as a gesture of friendship. Amulets can be, or made, of almost any­thing, so long as it has some magic significance for you

Preparation of the talisman
A talisman is only carried for a limited period while the ‘spell’ is activated, and is aimed at a specific purpose or outcome. The material it is made from depends on the nature of the ritual used to empower it, and it requires a lengthy operation to set all this magical brouhaha in motion. The exact nature of the talisman’s protective power will be governed by the amount of effort and concentration that goes into the final preparation.

So let’s keep it simple and make a talisman for protec­tion against ... burglary if this is prevalent where we live. An ideal material is heavy-duty silver baking foil, marked out with a blunt pencil so that the engraving can be clearly read. If your drawing skills aren’t up to scratch, use Words of Power and engrave your protec­tor’s name around the outer rim of the circle, because we are unleashing the wrath of the protector against anyone who dares to enter our home uninvited. Place the talisman at the point in the house where you per­ceive the weakness in your defences, i.e. a window or door. Slide it under the threshold, or between the tim­bers of the frame, and leave it in place.

Unfortunately, we live in a hazardous society and we are merely protecting ourselves, requires a lengthy operation to set all this magical brouhaha in motion. The exact nature of the talisman’s protective power will be governed by the amount of effort and concentration that goes into the final preparation.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

BOOK REVIEW

THE DICTIONARY OF MAGIC AND MYSTERY
Compiled by Mélusine Draco

And heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead
Returning lightly dance…

I admit that I don’t normally ‘read’ dictionaries, but this one by Mélusine Draco really is as gripping as any thriller. The proverbial page-turner, with its tantalising introduction and often startling entries. Every fiction or non-fiction writer should give this wonderful reference book space on their desks, not only to show what lies beneath our present day, so-called ‘civilisations,’ but also as a conduit to what may well lie beyond. To step from their comfort zones and give their work ambition, fresh interest. A need to take the reader on more unusual journeys.
I am convinced of a growing fascination with alternative spiritualities. Of other ways of living life and of dying. Melusine Draco, delivers her expert and painstaking research into all this in such a way that will surely ignite further enthusiasm. She takes us from the Argentinium Astrum - the Order of the Great white Brotherhood (Adepts) founded by Aleister Crowley; the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance; Alphitomancy - which will make you look at barley bread in a new light - to the Field of Reeds and Dead Man’s Teeth, to Sea Witches and beyond.
I found myself making excited notes on Podomancy, Cramp Rings and the Angel of Death – and already wondering where these different springboards could lead. Within the dictionary format, the work is helpfully constructed into sections, ie; Black Magic, White Magic, while references for further research are relevant and not too copious.
In a crowded marketplace where the ups and downs in publishing are ever more pronounced, I’m convinced this amazing volume will stir the writer’s imagination and help to get their work noticed. Unique and memorable.
Sally Spedding: Author of Cold Remains, Cloven and Wringland

BOOK REVIEWS

TRADITIONAL WITCHCRAFT FOR URBAN LIVING and TRADITIONAL WITCHCRAFT FOR THE SEASHORE Melusine Draco (Moon Books'/John Hunt Publishing Ltd http://www.moon-books.net/ £9.99/US$16.95 each 143pp and 149pp)

The author of these books was an initiate of the late Bob Clay-Egerton's Coven of the Scales and she has been a practising occultist, magical teacher and writer on esoteric subjects for over twenty years. These two books are the first volumes in a series on modern traditional witchcraft for beginners.

'Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living', as the title suggests, is a guide to being a witch today in a town or city environment and still connect to nature, the elemental forces and the land. The other book is for those who live near or often visit the coast and wish to magically commune with the sea and its energies. You will not find any 'Wiccan Rede' or invocations to Cernunnos and Ceridwen here and the featured charms are mostly Christianised ones as traditionally found in historical witchcraft. Both of the books are written in a down-to-earth style with a refreshing commonsense approach and are rooted in the folk traditions and Old Ways of the British Isles.
Recommended.Michael Howard. Editor The Cauldron

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Book Review for Trad W/C for Urban Living/Means Streets W/C

"This book is for the student of Traditional Witchcraft, not Wicca or other neo-pagan disciplines (although it is certainly useful for all). The distinction is thoroughly explained, much to the reader's benefit. If you're tired of books filled with the usual neo-pagan fluff and are looking for something that gets "right down to it," this is the book for you.

It is accessible, well written, enjoyable, and often humorous. The common sense approach makes the reader the beneficiary of the author's many years of magical experience, and it quickly becomes obvious that she has already done a lot of the trial-and-error work that will save the reader/practitioner a lot of valuable time.

As the title suggests, it is for students and practitioners living in urban areas. Not only does it dispel the myth that one has to live in the middle of the forest to be a "real witch," but offers a lot of valuable advice for a successful practice while living in the city. The book is being republished as Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living, but the contents will be identical, so don't spend the extra money purchasing a used copy. A pleasure to read and a treasure of useful information and techniques!"
Chris Grabarkiewctz, Berkely. USA - Amazon 5-star rating