Sunday, November 11, 2012

This blog has now moved to wordpress, not for any particualr reason that i like the editing abilities better..  i was trying to keep up and post to both but that is tricky and as i can't figure out how to make it do that automatically.. *ponders this*.. my blog is now moved..

so you can find it here

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Magical Knowledge Book 1 Foundations, Book Review

Magical Knowledge Book 1 by Josephine McCarthy

Pagans and Magical folk have for years been crying out for advanced texts on magic.  I believe that what they are actually looking for is not so much advanced texts but deeper texts.  Texts that deepen your understanding of your path and practice at whatever level you are at.  Theological type texts that not so much answer your questions but encourage and lead you to ask questions and find your own answers through practice.

Josephine McCarthy’s book Magical Knowledge Book 1 is just such a book. It is the type of book that you will be thinking about long after you have read it and you will be reading it a couple of times.   And it will be well worth the second read.  I have always like to reread certain books after I have had a revelation or period of new understanding and I suspect that Josephine’s books will be some of those that I reach for after such a time.

Magical Knowledge Book 1 is written plainly and accessible while not dumbing down the subject matter which is a rare and wonderful thing.  This book is interesting and thoroughly thought provoking in places and it is obvious that the author is writing from a place of practice and experience, not just research.
I find it interesting that book two was released the year before book one, but having pondered writing a book on things magical and witchy I am also not surprised.  Having seen what is out there in beginner books and knowing Pagans are yammering for more advanced texts it makes sense to write a more advanced text first, so to speak. Also writing the second book first would, in my mind, give a stronger focus for the first book.  It can be difficult to write about stuff you did 20 years go and the balls-ups you made with the clarity needed for people just starting out or for those who take their magical path seriously.  So by writing book two first, in my mind it would be clearer what would be needed for book one.

There are a few typos that I saw and given that I don’t generally notice such things that means that the editor needed to play closer attention. However this does not detract from the content.  And over all I have to say this book is well written.

The first part of the book is essentially about the theology of ceremonial magic, focusing on understanding the practice for navigating the inner worlds, and meeting inner beings safely.  Starting with what Josephine describes as the Void. The Void, as I understand how Josephine has described it, is a safe space between this realm and that of the abyss and other inner realms.

Josephine is certainly thorough while giving simple but valuable exercises that build up your inner muscles in order to be fit, both in mind and body to work magic on the inner planes.

Josephine also warns about becoming too focused on one path or theme.  This I suspect would be because your vision becomes blinkered, like that of a cart horse.  It is my opinion that spending time with and studying other magical practice and theory, gives you good insight and deepens your understanding of your own practice.  It’s a contrast and compare thing, becoming focused too much on one thing can make it difficult to deepen the understanding of your own practice.

Does that make sense?

Chapter 4, Inner Contacts and Inner Beings threw me until it was made clear that it was ritual sex magic that was being discussed. I was having issues imagining the billions of beings popping into existence on this plane when people were engaged in shagging.  It was, to say the least, blowing my mind.  However, once I figured out the book was talking about ritual sex it made much more sense.

In the second half of the book, she writes about the more ceremonial types of magic and practice.  And it is kind of here that the book and I part ways, but not because what she has written is not valuable or incorrect in any way, but more because I am not a ceremonial magician.  Nor am I able to currently dedicate a room to create a temple space, as I live with two other flatmates. However, when I do set up a personal temple space I will certainly be taking into account some of what is discussed in the second half of Magical Knowledge Book 1.

Several times I have read about inner places, aka the Void and the Abyss, to discover these are places I have been before.  Places I have accidentally been or fallen into.  This book teaches how to access these places and their various beings with intent, by conscious choice and how to do so safely, without as Josephine puts it ‘blowing yourself up’.  It could be said that I have a natural talent for such things. This book has given me pause and a way of traveling to these places by choice rather than accidentally. To essentially have more control over my natural abilities despite not being a ceremonial magician in any shape, way or form.

I have the second book and will be purchasing the third one once it is released, however I believe it will be some time before I crack the covers of either, as I intend to fully integrate and study the framework of the first.  This is also one of those books that you will have to read several times, each time gaining new insight and knowledge, and I suspect that a second read will be done more slowly and with note taking.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is wishing to deepen their understanding of magic, how it works and safe ways to traverse the inner planes and meet inner contacts.  This book is not just for ceremonial magical types but also very informative for those, in my opinion who are beginning or interested in spirit work, as it has a very solid framework.  I have been using her void meditation in the mornings, and have found that communication with what I call a guide to be a lot clearer.

Overall I give this book 5 cups of tea out of 5 and recommend it for anyone who is past the beginner stage and looking to deepen and augment their own practice, whatever practice that may be.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kaleidoscope Gathering

This time last year I was in Canada, and I very much wise I was back over there.  You see I went to Canada to go to  a Pagan Festival.  Little did I know that the interesting Pagan festival I heard about via the Podcast Standing Stone and Garden Gate, was organised by a Canadian friend of mine who now lives in New Zealand, friends from when she grew up.  So when I proudly announced that in a years’ time I would be winging my way to Canada to attend a kaleidoscope Gathering Pagan festival of awesome, Bron blithely piped up that her friends organised that and that she could put me in contact with them.  Wow what an excellent start.  The time from that announcement to the arrival in Canada was a bit of a trial, redundancy, temp work decisions about whether or not I should be spending all that money to go over there.  I had saved around $5000, which is a lot of money, and when you don’t have a job.. even more.. decisions decisions decisions..  A lady at work was the one that said I would regret not going cause it was an excellent adventure..  Thus this time last year I was in Canada

And oh what an adventure I had!!  Below are a few photos for you view pleasure, and so I can remember this as KG it starting to gear up and people are arriving at Ravens Knoll and I am missing them..

This is what greeted me as about an hour or so out of Vancouver Airport and wonderful sunrise

So on Canadian Streets, there are wooden lamp posts that have had notices stapled to them for years.. many many years.. I had never seen anything like this before thus I needed to take a picture. 

OMG Squirrels,, so exciting, and this is what made me purchase a fancy camera when I got back to New Zealand.. cause I couldn’t get close enough with my little digital camera  This wee Squirrel had been specially trained by the Canadian Tourist bureau, to preform for nuts, he even posed several different ways.. *grins*..

then it was OMG Snakes!! so very very cool!
I do believe this was a face I pulled a lot during my stay in Canada..

my camp site..that blue tarp to the left is where my wee tent was was wee.. but there was one other smaller tent
So no pictures of campers, or not so many as it was important to get permission, to post pictures on the internets.. also something that i had not considered before.. but i figure a very good thing to do.. *nods* and also i spent most of my time running around meeting people not taking photos of them.. *grins*

This was i beleive the smallest tent at the fest, which got filled up with ballons.. wheee..

this Canadian Pagan rode about on his bicycle with horns.. how cool is that.. he had many wonderful costumes it was awsome!

this is a frog one of the Kids in our camp caught.. it was awsoem and huge.
I loved the wild life in Canada, so different from New Zealand, which is mostly birds, in Canada i got to see squirrels, Ground-hogs, Osprey, and a chipmunk which i saw in a garden on top of a mall thanks to the lovely Juni who i enjoyed spending time with after the fest.. hooray!

This was the lake where i spend many an hour cooling down as it is very warm in Canada this time of year.. there were snapping turtles which i think i saw the head of once..*beams*

the infamous poison Oak, err i think it was we don’t have anything like that in New Zealand either. Anyway went on a nature walk workshop which was very interesting.. next time I will have to take notes and pictures so that I can then post it up here with more details.. *nods*

Drunken Gnoms, Wheee

OMG NOMS the best thing ever, Poutine, chips, cheese curd, and Gravey.. the best thing oh so yummie.
I got to try a bunch of new and good foods in Canada, I beleive apart from Poutine my favourite was Trout, cooked by the lovely people I was staying with.  Most excellent!!

Me at KG

It was wondours spending so much time with my peers, and new friends that I had meet in Canada.  And I am looking forward to going back next year. *nods*

Cross Posted here

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Surrendering to Service

Surrendering to Service has taken me quite some time to come to terms with, to be comfortable enough with to actually see what surrendering to service looks like versus what I thought it looked like.  It is as though, like Perceval, I started out on my journey thinking and believing it was one thing but realising that it was, while something similar, actually quite different to what I originally thought and believed.   This all of course, was one of the things that came about during the workshop on the Grail Quest I did several weeks ago, which I have posted about previously.

So what is Surrendering to Service and for that matter what is this Service, and whom is it service to?  These are quite complex questions to answer, never mind that I had to understand that Service was not servitude.  It was an entirely different view and understanding that I was being encouraged?  asked? to surrender to.

I can remember a friend of mine back when I knew not that much, talking to me about surrendering to the will of the Gods, to which I pulled a funny face at that thought, ‘No Gods are going to be telling me what to do?’  I suspect now that this was a reaction, to a now outdated framework that I had learned from my various accidental interactions with Christianity.   You see I had attended Sunday school as a young child.  At the end of the street where my Nana lived was a Catholic church, and one of the nuns who taught at the school there, which I didn’t go to, was called Sister Pauline, and given that was my name, I thought she was very cool, thus I invariably turned up on Sunday mornings for her Sunday school classes, even though I was not enrolled or Catholic.. but there you go Sister Pauline was pretty awesome.
I also went to an Anglican boarding School during my High School years, while only being nominally Anglican. My family only ever went to church for funerals and as Kiwis were not particularly religious anyway.  I certainly was never christened, and this was brought up by the Father of said Anglican boarding school several times, but I always refused. In many ways the Anglican faith is a lot more ridged than the Catholic faith, sort of *wiggles hand* However the point here is, that while spending time in these strong Christian institutions I apparently learned that surrendering to God was in essence Servitude to God. After all, Nuns had to give up everything, sex, money, possessions, personality, (although Sister Pauline had a truck load of personality from what I remember).  Nuns gave up everything to marry God. Thus surrendering to God, and indeed service to God, in my mind was servitude, in that kneel in front of and tell him how unworthy you are kind of way.

But as it turns out I’m such a Heathen, oh wait, no that’s not right, I’m a Witch *coughs*.   I never had to recite any lords prayers backwards, or have sex in a graveyard, although there was that Convent fire- escape once . . . left funny bruises, and I still grin when I think about it,  *coughs* but that is besides’ the point to.

The point we are talking about here is surrendering to service and how it is nothing like the image I had in my head of Nuns surrendering up themselves to servitude just so they could marry God.  Surrendering to service for a Witch, well for me is nothing like that.  But having said that this Surrender is certainly not easy, nor is it simple or everyone would be doing it.

Also why on earth would the Gods want a simpering subservient submissive sleeping bumpkin when they have spent a lot of time putting things in my path that has caused me to do some very deep personal psychological and magical work on myself which has meant that I have become a very strong, confident and outspoken women who can swear like a pirate when sewing, and stare down the most uptight business man until they yell uncle…  *coughs*..  Actually to put that in a less egotistical seeming nut shell, why would the Gods expect you to be somebody you are not in order to surrender service? This is not to say that being submissive doesn’t have its own power, but that is a whole other kettle of fish, and today the fish is Spiritual Service.

This all brings another thought to mind.  For years I have been telling various people who I have helped in a spiritual sense, be that house cleansing, card reading, or just passing on those messages you sometimes get, that its “part of the job description” or more to the point  “it’s all part of the service” could it be that I have already being unconsciously serving?  And perhaps this time it is about serving more consciously.   About stepping with conscious thought into service, or choosing to Surrender to Service.


Cross Posted here 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Grail Quest Workshop

The Grail Quest Workshop

So the Grail Myth becomes the beginning of a map with which to find our own immortal wounds and how work through them or heal them.  Remember how in the beginning I said, as this was not a workshop that was going to be giving me answers in, the traditional sense of someone giving you answers on a pretty silver platter, or in this case handing you the Grail as it was not the Grail that is important here but the quest itself.  There was about 10 or so people attending this workshop, and while it was wonderful to work with others and here what they had to say about the Grail Myth and its quest, it is difficult to remember just who was there as the work that was being done so internal, reflective and magically strong that the other participants become a part of the tapestry and energy of the workshop, not necessarily individuals?  Did that make sense?

I am not sure that we spent much time looking at one another so much as concentrating on what Nanny Ogg was saying long with what questions and comments were being made by the various attendees..  Needless to say the work shop ran over time, not that I noticed as such.  I know I was quite surprised when one of the attendees said that she had to go as had previous engagement, I was surprised at how much time had passed.  I was certainly engaged with what I was learning, processing and doing.

After we heard a rendition of The Fisher King, Caroline lead us further into understanding our maps, by proving us with helpful handouts to write on and explained some cognitive behaviour therapy, with a candle, or as she explained Candle by The Fire which is less clinical and more about creating our own maps, making our own connections and deepening our understanding of our selves and how we work.  It is about making our own connections, with ourselves, our path and our community, rather than the individualism that so often happens within mainstream psychology, or that is how I saw it. *ponders this*

So why did I do this workshop? Being a Witch and Priestess is not all about spells and rituals, but it is, I am finding, all about magic.  I have herd mutterings about psychology, and self-development being not the focus of magic and Modern Paganism  within certain quarters of the Modern Pagan Movement, but I have to ask how are you supposed to understand what your calling, or quest is without some deep personal work along the way.  How can you get to a place of understanding that Magical work and being a priestess is not all love and light and three times three, with a dash of harm non, but something deeper, something grittier, something dirtier, something, *waves hands* and when you get to that place through a lot of deep personal work realising that it is now your turn to surrender to service, and that surrender is not servitude. *coughs*.. am I over sharing?

What this workshop has taught me is that we are all wounded in some way or other, and like The Fisher King our wounds will not kill us in a physical sense but they can on a personal and emotional sense, render us dead.  Remember the doctors receptionist.. Hi How are you?  And your automatic reply is to say “I’m fine”.  This for me is indicative of a wounding, created in many ways by our society, one where our emotions are subjugated and we are given  a bandage that makes us look happy, even if we don’t feel it, even if we are feeling something else.

These woundings are created by living our lives, the way our parents or lack of parents brought us up, our society and its greedy fear mongering normalisation, remember the Ginshu Knifes.., remember that to be happy you have to purchase more stuff, because according to advertising stuff makes you happy.. and finally remember he who has the most stuff when they die.. Actually they are dead like everybody else, can’t take your stuff with you.  This is not to say that our entire focus should be on feeling sad either, or that we should spend all of our lives poking our immortal wounds as where would the fun be in that?  Its about balance, its about giving yourself to feel what you are feeling, because more often than not you will find that once you have acknowledged what you are feeling that emotion will pass through you.

Finding your quest is not about finding the Grail or being told answers to the ills of your life, but instead it is about asking questions and asking the questions until you find the right question.  If Perceval had stopped the page who had the lance and asked him about it, he would of learned that it was the lance that had caused the Kings mortal wound, and further if he had asked the women or anyone in the procession about the chalice, the Grail and its shinning waters, he would of learned that that was what was needed to heal the King and ultimately the land as the King and land are one.

Too often in this world we are lead to and want to believe what the unhealthy parts of our mainstream society is telling us, via the television and mainstream media.  It is my opinion that mainstream media is now the opiate of the masses.  It is no longer religion as it once was during Marx’s time, but mass mainstream media opiating us, medicating us, with wonderful food and sumptuous clothing, telling us that we are happy in the castle, happy with not rocking the boat, or asking to many questions, to not make a fuss, to keep a stiff upper lip, to follow the script, need I go on?

So we end up on a quest, a Grail quest, which is not about finding the Grail but about finding and understanding yourself, your connections, who you are and what you path is,  through the Quest itself.  Remember Perceval, his quest actually started when he left his mother in order to peruse becoming a Knight, a Knight of the Round Table no less.  Perceval believed that he had completed his quest and was in the process of travelling home to show his mother of the Knight he had become, but this was not his actual quest, not his path, not his service if you will.  I am quite sure that Perceval learned valuable skills and insights while he was learning to become a night, which will help him on his Grail Quest, and perhaps it was a part of this quest to become a Knight, but ultimately Perceval’s quest was the Grail Quest not one to become a Knight, that one was only half of the Story.

Final Thoughts.  

The memories and thoughts and notes I took during this workshop have been milling around in my head for days now with many questions and great food for thought.  I am also coming to the understanding that like most things in life the quest for the Grail to heal the immortal would is a cyclic thing, which is a theme for this year, as you will remember the two books I have been working with Avalon Within ß gosh theme familiar?  And the 13 dark moons, which are both about deep personal work, and ultimately Questing for the Grail, as it is time to heal my immortal wounds once again!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Fisher King

The Fisher King
There are hundreds maybe even thousands of myths, poems, and storeys that are about King Arthur, his royal knights, the quest for the Grail.  In the workshop we used one of the very fist poems that mentions Perceval who is on his quest or thinks he is. (,_the_Story_of_the_Grail)  We were told the myth to start out workshop, loosely as follows.  Or how I remember it..

Perceval who is has become a knight, as he always wanted to be, is on his way home to show his mother what a wonderful knight he has become.  As he is travelling down the road he comes to a lake, which he must cross in order to get home.  He sees a man in a boat fishing on the lake.  He calls out to him, asking if he can have passage across the lake so that he can continue on home to show his mum what a wonderful knight he has become.   The man in the boat tells him that he can’t today, however he can tomorrow morning when there is a bigger boat he should be able to cross.   The man in the boat then informs him if he continues down the road and over the hill he will find lodgings for him and his horse.

Perceval turns his horse and continues down the road and over the hill where he sees a huge stunning castle.  When he arrives at the castle servants come out to attend to his and his horses every need. He is then directed to the feasting hall for as there is a great feast that night.

Once he enters the hall he notices how finely everyone is dress, and the tables full to groaning of amazing looking and smelling food some which he has never seen before.  He sees whole roasted pigs, lambs and geese sitting on beds of vegetables, and the most wondrous deserts.   Women on the dance floor like flocks of pretty butterflies and exotic birds their clothing is so beautifully. Even the servants in their castle livery are richly dressed.   As he wonders around the feasting hall the King who is sitting on a dais sees him and calls him over to dine with him gesturing to the seat next to him.  Perceval sits next to the King and on a closer look sees that it is the same guy who was fishing from the Boat that morning on the lake.  However seeing as Perceval has been told before, during his knightly training  that he talks to much and he is in the presents of a king he wisely, he thinks,  decides to keep his mouth shut and not say anything.  During the evening there are several strange events that nobody else seems to notice.  First there is a page who is carrying a sword, the most beautiful sword that Perceval  has ever seen, it is rendered in the most shiniest golds and silvers with an ornate handle and strong blade.  The page presents it to the King who in turns to Percival telling him that it is only one of three such magical swords in the world, it is said that it can slain anything even dragons, however it will shatter but only when it decides it to and nobody can know when that is.  Perceval is surprised when the King then hands it to him as a gift.  Perceval then after admiring the sword hands it on to a nave to have it taken to his room for the night.

Perceval turns back to the crowd of lords and ladies who are milling about in the hall in their finery eating the fabulous food, dancing and drinking the amazing wines.  A little while later another page enters with beautiful a lance that is dripping blood, this time the king doesn’t notice the lance and the page proceeds to process through the feasting hall winding in and out and round the people who also do not notice.  Perceval is busting a gut not to say anything but remembers his knightly training and the manners his mother installed into him, and seeing as nobody else was saying anything or even noticing he kept his mouth shut and is reactions to this strange sight damped down.

A little while later, and woman appears, carrying a wonderfully golden Chalice, with gemstones surrounding the edges, the Grail, Perceval here’s from whispers in the room, there is incandescent light rising up from the liquid in the Grail, and behind the woman is a possession of people, young old, infirmed, hansom, ugly, sick and well.  All beautifully dressed in golden colours matching that of the woman and the grail.  After the initial whispers however Perceval notices that nobody is paying attention to the woman holding the grail with its incandescent light and procession, so to decides not to say anything as that would seemly be impolite.  Perceval just watches the woman with the grail and procession winding through the room taking a similar path to that of the page who had the dripping lance.
After the procession has passed and left the room the king who has been conversing with people on the other side,  tells Perceval that he is going to retire for the night, even though it is still quite early.  He goes o to tell Perceval that he has a mortal wound that can not be healed which causes him to be tire easily, and he is unable to walk.  Two pages arrive to carry him in his chair out of the feasting hall. 

Perceval stays and watches the people, eats until eventually he tires and retires for the night.  A page shows him to his room with is beautiful and he notices left in his room that his armour has been polished until it is gleaming like when it was new, as to his saddle, and bridle.  He smiles hugely as this will be a most excellent thing for when he arrives home in armour to show his mother was a worthy night he has become.  And with that thought he promptly falls soundly asleep. 

When he gets up in the morning, he sees his armour all shiny and polished, along with his saddle and bridle, so he goes to see if he can find a squire to saddle his horse and help him into his armour.  But alas nobody seems to be around, the castle is quiet still and empty, this concerns Perceval somewhat so he quickly dresses in his armour and grabs his saddle and the sword the King Gave him, and hurries down to the stable, where he finds his horse who has been groomed and looks beautiful, again Perceval feels uneasy about this and decides that it is indeed time to leave and continue on his journey home to show his mother what a wonderful knight he has become.

He mounts his horse and rides through the castle noticing that still nobody is around.  As he nears the drawbridge he sees that it is beginning to draw upwards, this startles Perceval who spurs his horse faster and races towards the drawbridge, with just enough time for his horse to jump across the gap and land across the mote.  Perceval’s heart it racing, it was all very weird, but he tries not to think about it, and so turns his horse towards home.  Along the way he notices that the trees are wilted, and there are no crops in the fields, and in the paddocks, lay sick and dying animals, as he nears the hills, he finds a woman who is cradling a Knight who has a moral wound that will not heal, and she tells him how this knight received this wound from a lance, and the only way to heal it was with the water from the Grail.  And that this is effecting the land and the King and Land are reflective of each other so that while the king is stick so too is the land, and the people who live there.  Perceval there realised that it was the Lance and Grail that he saw in procession the previous evening, and that he should of perhaps spoken out and saved the king and land.  Perceval felt a bit guilty over that, and so started a quest to find the grail as this was the only thing that could heal the land, so he asked himself,  “Which direction to I go in?”

The end

Except that is not so much an ending as a beginning, or if you read the entire poem, it is the middle, as there is bunches of stuff concerning training and trials and the like that happen from when he leaves home and becomes a Knight, the point to ponder here is the symbolism and what connections that it is making for you? Or in this case me as i was the one attending the workshop.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

In the weekend I attended a Grail Workshop fun by my friend and Druid, Caroline aka Nanny Ogg.  This workshop used the fisher King poem as a tool to create a map with which to figure out your own Grail Quest.  Myth is so often more about the symbolism found within the story rather than just the story, and the Fisher King has much excellent symbolism.

Nanny Ogg is in the process of creating something she calls ‘Druid Therapy’, which is a combination of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and deep Druidic Spirituality.  Although it goes with our saying that it is not is not just for Druids, I mean I am a Witch, and got a heap of useful stuff out of the workshop,  so it does have a wider scope that just being for Druids. Anyone with a spiritual connection would fine excellent value in Druid Therapy.   Druid Therapy is something that Caroline likes to call Candle By The Fire therapy or CBTF, as one of the other attendees pointed out,  which is about bring more meaning, connection, magic, spirituality and humanity back into therapy. While at the same time,  keeping it grounded in good sound techniques of CBT and other Psychological modalities, but not to the point of dehumanising it.  Does that make sense?  It is difficult to explain.  At this point I want  to point out that this is and was not a “Therapy” workshop so much as a work shop that explained and provided tools with which to deepen the understanding of the self, using myth, connection and magic.  Druid Therapy is about exploring yourself in a more magical, connected and spiritual way.. Not as flowery as it sounds believe me.  And for those of us on a path that involved magic, deep personal exploration is integral part of how it all works.

For so long psychology has systematically removed spirituality, connection and some could say,  humanity from its process.  It has become more and more clinical relegating  spirituality and magic  in the realm of delusional belief, not significant, or not real.  Psychology, at its worst has become out fixing our broken emotions which are all the ones apart from feeling happy and giving us pills to that we are ‘happy’

It is my belief that it is important that people have a sense of connection with the lives that they live beyond that of clinical behaviour and ‘feeling happy”.   It would seem that our society has deemed feeling emotions as something that is somehow wrong, and indicative of brokenness especially the strong emotions such as sadness, anger, stress, discontent, etc etc.  Because according to society we are meant to be happy all the time and if we are not then we are obviously broken thus need therapy, and or pills to make us happy as is socially acceptable.   Or we are to purchase something in the form of retail therapy as that will make us happy.  Ginsue knifes anyone, second set free for a limited time.  *coughs*

Let me put it another way, how often have you been to your doctors surgery because you are sick and probably feeling quite crappy and when you get there and the receptionist says ‘Hi, How are you do today’, and you answer automatically ‘I’m fine thank you’ or a variation of indicating that you are fine, or happy?  When really you are sick, which is why you are at the doctors, and you are probably feeling like six forms of shit because you are sick. So why are you telling the receptionist at the doctor’s office that you are fine? Think about it.  We have trained, or been trained by the wider society not to acknowledge our feelings, not to feel what it is we are feeling unless we are happy, and so often when we are not happy we tell others that we are without even thinking about it.  How often has a friend asked you how are you? How do you reply? The usal reply that I make is ‘I’m fine, how are you’.  It’s a pretty standard greeting both in face to face and also onlinet.  What would happen if you took a moment and actually told them how you felt?  Actually I am feeling a bit sad today because I am not happy with out something is going? When you ask a friend how they are, do you really want to know or are you just going through the customary greeting call and response?  Think about it.

Druid Therapy uses the Grail story, the quest for the Grail, and is about putting the connection and humanity back not just into therapy, but back into your lives as well.  To acknowledge your mortal wound and the Grail with which you can heal it.  It is not ‘traditional’ therapy and it  doesn’t look it either, as it is not about talking about your feelings  and having a therapist tell you what that means, nor is it about a therapist giving you the answers, as we found out during our workshop, but instead it is about finding our own answer through the medium of myth, and a map which we created during the workshop.  We had to find our own answers.  Druid Therapy is about providing you with a map and tools so that you can find the answers yourself, only those ‘answers’ are actually questions, and to keep on asking questions until we find the right question or series of questions.  So often we want answers so badly, because we believe, or have been lead to believe that the answers will fix us instantly, that we forget or don’t know what the right question is.  So using the Grail myth and Druid Therapy provides us with an invaluable map, tools and connection with which to find the questions.

As this turned into a monster of a post about the Workshop I attended and Druid Therapy, I have decided to split this into three posts, with the first one being explanation of sorts, the second one a rewrite of the Fisher King myth as I remember it, and the third one about the workshop itself.  I will post the second instalment over the next day or so.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Samhain Gate

The Samhain Gate

Its Samhain here in New Zealand and I celebrated over the weekend at the Woolshed, a place here in Wellington where Pagans of all varieties come together to celebrate the seasons.  For Samhain this year the circle space was set up in the second lounge down stairs, with the Samhain gate facing North, other times the gate has been set up in the North West, which if you are using the southern hemisphere Sabbat calendar wheel is actually the Lughnasadh gate, which in some ways can be a very odd place to have the Samhain gate.  The Samhain gate is  that place where the ancestors and those that have died recently enter the circle.  And for the longest time it bugged the hell out of me, that at the woolshed it was place in the North West because it just felt wrong. But this year the gate was North, and for some weird reason this felt much better, which as usual got me to thinking about pagan cosmology and how it is shaped.

Traditionally the Southern hemisphere Seasonal Wheel  goes in a counter clock wise direction, (Sun Wise) starting with the Spring in the East, then Beltane  – North East,  Summer Solstice – North Lughnasadh, North West, Autumn Equinox – West, Samhain – South East and finally Winter Solstice in the south.

Which if you follow the logic through and use the same points from the Seasonal Wheel for your circle casting, it would mean that the Samhain gate would be in the South West, however, given that when casting a circle I teach that pretty much any element can be called from any direction because  it is important to practice magic in the place you live, it would also follow that the Samhain Gate doesn’t have to be in the South West, any more than that the element of air has to be in the east.  But it still bugged me.    I will say however that when it comes to group rituals, it is good to have everybody calling the same element from the one direction. But that is not what this post is about.. *coughdigressioncough*..

So why did having the Samhain Gate in the North feel better this year, than previous years when it has been in the North West?  Well there could be several reason.. first given that for most New Zealanders their ancestors come from Europe, which is North from here, it would make sense that if you are inviting your ancestors to come and join you in your circle, to do it from a Northerly direction.

The Samhain Gate
With Offerings of Salt, Honey and Bread

Secondly here in New Zealand as a part of the Maori believe,  spirits of the dead travel to the tip of the North Island,  where the entrance of the underworld is, guided by a Ruru owl, and once there, they travel down to the underworld where they are meet by Hine-nui-te-pō who then guides them on to Hawaiki, so again that would point to the idea that the spirits of the dead come from the North, and not the South.

Now this is all well and good and make pretty good sense.. but I have an idea that it was something more, than just the ancestors in the North and Hine-nui-te-po, that made this years gate feel right.  And I realised what it was when I went back down after to the ritual was over to see the French doors open.  It was the door, during the ritual we had opened the Samhain gate by opening the French doors.  The fact that these doors faced North fit in with the ritual, but I suspect that It was not the main reason as to why it felt right so to speak.  This door opened to the outside,  and it is a clear indication  when inviting someone in your house to open the door.  

 Doorways have always been considered magical places in myth and folklore.  They are liminal, whether you are entering or exiting, they are a place of magic where the energy flows inwards and outwards.    I can remember seeing pennies concreted into the doorway of the family’s holiday batch, put there by my grandfather, to encourage wealth.    It was a tradition that he carried with him from England where he was born.   Doorways are often gateways to other places, and in this case it was a gateway into the otherworld’s, to where the ancestors and recently departed stood waiting to be invited in.

So it all comes back to that practicing in the place where you live.  I have heard that the traditional correspondences of cardinal direction to elements originated in Greece, where their prevailing wind, the wind that brings the weather comes from the East, thus East became air.  Here in Wellington the prevailing wind comes not from the howling winter southerlies but the Westerlies, which would follow that air, should be in the east.  And when it comes to the seasonal wheel this to should be practiced in the place you live, which can take some figuring out so some contemplating of how the cosmos is created in your area.  So it makes sense to invite the ancestors from the north, and through a physical door, although I do wonder as to what happens if the physical door is in a different direction and if that would work?

So here in new Zealand our magical cosmos is on where the ancestors and the dead hail from the North, not from the South west as the  southern seasonal wheel would dictate nor from the North West as has been practiced before but from the North, a time of midsummers, the traditional element of fire. 

Those crazy Southern Pagans.. *grins*

Samhain Crown made from a New Zealand sea bird whos name escapes me currently but died due to an oil leak from a container ship here.

Presently Centered


This is the first thing I teach anybody who comes to me and is interested in Witchcraft and Magic, and it is the first thing that I teach my students when I run my classes.  The simple explanation for this is that I won’t work with someone who does not how to do this because we live in this world.  Thus when doing magical work we should be centered and grounded in this world, or at least for most of the time.

It is important when learning about magic to be grounded in this world, to understand that you still need to tidy your house, pay your bills, go to work, while also honouring your Gods and making magic.  Paganism in its various forms is by its very nature is very romantic, and has been romanticised throughout the ages.  Even the modern history is kinda romantic, there are heroes and villains and sometimes heroic villains, and more importantly there is magic, which is something real, something that you can feel, and something that you can use.  Fairy Stories, Television, Moves and some anthropological study tells us of a time when the village witch used herbs to heal the sick, used magic and a bit of salt to save the world and told of the humble stable boy, a person with an important destiny written about in prophecy. And let’s face it we all like to be feel special, to feel like our lives have meaning and importance in this, at times very difficult thing we call life, and witchcraft has that in spades.  There is finding your path, your deity and what it is that you are meant to be doing with your life.  There is discovering your true self, stepping away from ugly mainstream culture, standing up for yourself and learning how to do the things that you want to do as opposed to the things that you believe you should be doing or that you have been lead to believe you need to be doing.  Witchcraft and magic in many ways gives you courage and an out of the rat race, to be that special person with that special destiny.

Also books, the several hundred thousand books that have been written on various forms of paganism and how to do and or be a witch or druid or priestess also have a tendency to paint a very romantic picture.  There are powerful visions, rituals and deities that these Authors meet, and seemingly a teacher can be found on every street corner just waiting for you to walk by so they can nab you and show you how to find your destiny and path.  Alas the reality of it is that it is not like this but it is very easy to get swept off your feet,  into the romantic maelstrom and loose touch with reality, to loose touch with this world and all of its wonders.  So this is why I teach Centering and Grounding first to help to keep touch with reality with this world, with this earth and remember that you still have bills to pay and houses to clean. And so that you know how to come back to earth with less of a bump. So that you stay grounded enough that when you hit the deep magic’s you can stay sanely, centered, and come through with an excellent experience and pretty much not go batshit insane.

Right scared yet?  You should be.. ok maybe not.  Perhaps not scared so much as weary, stepping onto this path in a more conscious way can be interesting and sometimes in a Chinese sense of interesting however  it also can be wonderful beyond words, but then if it wasn’t I wouldn’t be teaching classes or writing about it now would I.  So Centering  and Grounding, now that we know why it is important, what is it? and how do you do it?  First I am going to talk about Centering , and in the next post Grounding.


Centering is like gathering your thoughts, so that you can concentrate on what is at hand, and what you are doing.    At times I believe that it is very much like being in the present, in the now, as so many self-help gurus and Buddhists will tell you.  However this ‘being in the now’ is, as is so often the case, not as it is portrayed in books.  I think that to get a point across in writing, so that it doesn’t sound lame,  and  can be understood  the writer embellishes what they are writing, not because they are being mean or dishonest but it is more  give a clearer picture of what they were feeling and what they have experienced.  How this can create an over blown expectation for the reader, or as in my case a miss understanding.  So often in these books that talk about living in the now, and the present,  they are talking in absolutes, ‘you should be in living in the now all the time’ the books say, ‘always be present in your own life’. I often ended up wondering what they were talking about as I am present in my own life? I live it don’t I?  And what’s more Living in the now all the time can be very difficult to achieve, unless you want to be a monk living on a mountain top somewhere.    It took me quite some time to wrap my head around being in the present, in the now.  I did not have any problems understanding centering and grounding. But I did have problems understanding this living in the now.  Until a Student asked me if you could center and ground separately?

Most the time when you are preparing to take part in a ritual, centering and grounding was done together as one exercise.  Centering was about concentrating on the ritual at hand and grounding about being grounded and drawing up energy from the earth.  Seemed simple right?  Little did I realise that centering was very similar to living in the now, so to speak.  And grounding was about staying there.  Always good to learn from your students I say! But it take me while to understand.

It was not until I happened to be walking to catch a train to work one morning that I finally understood what the books were talking about, and what centering and being in the now had to do with one another.  As I was wondering down the hill pondering about being present, and what it meant, I was not paying attention to where I was walking, not that it is difficult to walk down a hill on a paved footpath,*coughs* but alas before I knew what was happening I tripped and landed on my arse on said footpath.  And was very present and in the moment, feeling the sting of concrete on my hands and embarrassment in my face at having fallen over, but more than that I was present, my mind was not wondering about on the either thinking of arcane  things, but it was instead present and I was sitting on the ground.  So I learned that being present is about being aware, not just of what you are thinking about but also aware of where you are physically, what you are doing, what’s going on around you, which when you think about it, is the same of being Centered.  Not only are you focusing yourself, so that interrupting thoughts of ‘must clean bathroom’, are sent on their way, so that you can focus on the working, or ritual at hand.  You are also being aware of where you are and what you are doing, in the present moment.  This also allows you to pay attention when signs and messages are sent.

So clear as mud?

my suggestion is to practice being aware, to practice being centered  and try take note of the times when you are not.  Now this is of course way easier said than done.  I have often equated learning to do magic similar to driving a car, when you first learn there seems to be so much to remember, check mirror, check handbrake, check seatbelt, what gear are you in, which peddle are you using, steering, driving, screaming at the other drivers.. but after a few years, it all becomes second nature to get in your car and drive of without giving it much thought.  The difference with magic though is to keep giving it that thought, sure it will become second nature and your technique  will change and it will become easer like driving a car, but the trick with good magic is to be aware, be present.

Right then now on to the grounding segment of our lesson, which I will discuss in the next  Classes post.

Have at it!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Wheee *glomps StitchwitchCottage*

Recently I won  a tarot deck from Stitchwitch Cottage which was very very exciting as it is the lovely Waking the Wild Tarot by Poppy Paylin, and I was just reading the some reviews on line, when I remembered that I had told a friend I would review the tarot cards I currently have as a practice run for reviewing her oracle card deck when it comes out some time in 2013ish, and I must say that from what I have seen so far  of my friends cards and book are going be an excellent oracle deck with a strong New Zealand focus whee.

However today I will review the Wildwood Tarot as I have been working with them exclusively over the last little while.

A Review of the Wildwood Tarot.

I was always going to love the artwork of these cards as they are by one of my now favourite artists Will Worthington.  He is the artist for the DruidCraft Tarot, Druid Animal Oracle, Druid Plant Oracle (with Philip & Stephanie Carr-Gomm) and the Green Man Tree Oracle (with John Matthews).

The Wildwood Tarot has been done in collaboration with Mark Ryan and John Mathews.  Now, the Wildwood Tarot has a bit of a history despite being only being published last year.  They are the remake of a very popular deck called the Greenwood, by Chesca Potter and Mark Ryan in 1996.  What made the Greenwood deck different from other decks was the replacement of all of the greekoroman/christen imagery with Pre-celtic symbolism from around Europe and Britain, heavily based in the Robin Hood myth.  You see Mark Ryan played Nasir in the Robin of Sherwood Series which screened when I was a teenager and what’s more Nasir  was always my favourite character.. I so wanted to be him when I grew up, there may have been some fangirl squeeing when I found this out! *coughs*..

I so wanted to be Nasir with two swords!

The other thing that I am really enjoying about working with these cards is that they are blunt, honest and at times brutal, it is not a deck for telling fortunes, rather it is a deck to gain perspective and sight at a deep magical level.  I have always had difficulty reading for myself as I have a tendency to shy away from the hard stuff that  or decided that I don’t like what I see therefore don’t see it.  With the Wildwood Tarot this is very hard to do, especially as I read out the passages from the book for each card.  I don’t do this when I read for others but do when I read for myself.  It’s a thing *grins*  Also when I brought the this deck I was told, so to speak that this deck was to be for my personal use only, which is very odd for me as I have always been comfortable with sharing my various oracle and tarot decks with others, but not so for this deck.  They are deeply personal and offer some very personal insights into what is happeneing or how I am feeling.  I have been doing a one card draw every day for a few weeks now, with the intent to get to know the cards more while also getting to understand myself as well.  It has been very very interesting.. remember the aforementioned blunt?  Well they are.

On a more physical level these cards are not huge, like the Druidcraft Tarot so are more easily shuffled, the card stock seems ok, but like most tarot cards will wear with use, they spread nicely and the backs of them are pretty much indistinguishable from each other.  Which is excellent for card reading. And the artwork is done in wonderful bright colours

I have both the Wildwood and Druidcraft which are by the same artists, but different authors, and I have to say that I have noticed a difference, not just in the physical art work which are both lovely, but also with the feel of each deck.  The Druidcraft seem to be lighter in a way that is difficult to explain, especially as the cards themselves are HUGE!, however there is a depth and heaviness to the Greenwood tarot that seems to draw out the secrets out of the dark.  It is in my opinion a very powerful deck.  Every deck of cards I have had over the years has felt different, and I am not just talking about what they are made from and how heavy they are but each deck, despite being bits of inanimate cardboard, have always ended up having different energy about them.  I figure this is to do with the person who owns them and how they use them, and connects with them.  Anyhoo, that may well be a topic for another post.

The artwork of the Wildwood Tarot has been drawn as opposed to painted as with Mr Worthingtons other decks but this does not detract from the beauty of the artwork on the cards themselves.  For the Wildwood Tarot Mr Worthington has stayed with initial theme of the original Greenwood Tarot painted by Chesca Potter, while managing, I believe to enhance the images and meaningful add detail.  So there while there are differences in the art work between the Greenwood and Wildwood they are still very similar.  Those that are more familiar with the Greenwood may not like what Mr Worthington has done but I find it beautiful and evocative.

Over all I would recommend this deck for people, especially if they are looking for a deck for personal work and use, are not looking for fortune telling, and they want to it to be honest.  With one caveat, if these cards and their artwork do not speak to you, do not appeal then these are not the tarot cards you are looking for.  When choosing tarot, it is important to go with a deck where there artwork speaks to you. Mmk.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Magic on Cuba

One man with a guitar, a violin and a loop pedal gadget played a concert in Cuba Mall Wellington today, which is Thursday.  It was like magic, maybe it was magic.  It was magic as he wove the base beat into his loop pedal gadget creating a repeating pattern of tunes like the casting of a circle, calling in the energy of the city to come and join him in his creative endeavour.  On top of this he wove further magic with his electric violin playing a happy folk style jig which invited the city fey to come and gather with the city folk to create an atmosphere of happiness and generosity at his playing.

The energy around where he was playing, creating and casting his magic was palatable with the intent of imparting the gift of music, the gift of happiness on this somewhat gloomy autumn day in Wellington.   And when he had finished playing, this magic dissipated slowing, leaving people reluctant to leave and wonder on.  I wonder if he knew what magic he was weaving.

It turns out that this magical man’s name was Graeme James Crehan and you can experience some of this magic here.  And he is Christian, which for me says that it does not matter what frame work you use, just so long as it sings to you, you can create magic. !

Monday, April 9, 2012

As i have put my back out and am unable to move to much have a  photo instead of words

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Murmer of Starlings

They gather on the tops of buildings in the cities, on aerials and wires, just as the sun falls behind the hills and the sky lights up with dusky pink tones.  They herald the between times, when the sun has set but the sky is not yet night.  It is the first night of the full moon and magic hangs heavy in the air, spirits are gathering for the veil is thin, and Samhain is not far off.  The Starlings are heralding in the night time as the black birds herald the dawn.  Starlings’ keepers of the gates between the worlds.

For me this evening the Starlings that were gathering on the roof tops around Wellington all making their way to the trees in the city where they roost for a moment before they all take of in a murmuration, spoke of the coming season, of the coming Samhain, the beginning of Winter, here in New Zealand.

one of my favourite videos, I love the expression of the girls faces at the end of the video!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

View from my Balcony

Currently I am languishing in an inner city pad in one of my favourite areas of Wellington.  I have often said this is where the freaks, geeks and weirdoes hangout, my type of people really. And given that this inner city pad is owned by a fellow Witch, I figure a post about Spirits that inhabit this house would be appropriate for this week’s post, namely House Spirits.  This inner city apartment has them, I can feel them quite strongly and yesterday was about getting used to each other.  It helps that I have set up an oil burner, as I suspect that incense may well set of the fire alarms off, so instead I am using the afore mentioned oil burner. I have brought with me lavender, sage, basil and Frankincense, essential oils to use, and luckily for me the house spirits have been enjoying this.  I figured a good way of making friends with other witches house spirits would be to give them an offering of some sort, not that I realised this to begin with.
The Teapot of Awsome
When I first arrived and after making a nice cup of tea in the awesome teapot of awesome, I set up my laptop and duly put in the password to connect to the network but alas, not working,pages did not want to come up, you are connected to the internet it said but no pages for you.  EEEEK!  For this Urban Witch having no internet is like a Hedgewitch without her Hedge, so to speak.  But after a bit of fiddling, resetting and imploring that the internet work, it was up and running.. *phew* There may have been a few cups of tea and some chocolate to recover.  So internet done, time to set up the sewing machine.. oh wait why is the light not working.. *frowns*  I have a Janome sewing machine and I have noticed the light on it often stops working after it has travelled from one place to another, well bugger.  Again after imploring that the light magically turned itself on, it did.  It was about then that I noticed the presents of the House Spirits that abided here.  And what’s more these house sprits were helping.

At my house where I usually live there are also house spirits, and given that the flat I am staying in is a was build last year, most of the house spirits that now inhabit this flat came with me, and given that I flat and don’t own the house I live in they pretty much move with me from place to place.  But having said that, they are not something that I always notice because they have been around for what seems like forever.  In other places where I have flatted there have already been some resident house spirits, and given that I was now moving in,  I have always made a point to lay down the rules, ‘My house My rules’ they are pretty basic rules that I would and do expect, not just house spirits to follow but also my friends.  Don’t be a dick or you will be asked to leave.  It has been this way for at least as long as I have been a Witch.  Let’s leave out the current bit where I have hawthorn berries drying in my room cause that would just invite the fey.. *coughstoolateoopscoughs* but that is a different spirit.  Here we are talking about House spirits.

This is the first time I have been house sitting and in a fellow Witches house, so the rules are somewhat different.  It is not my house thus not my rules.  But there are rules and these rules need to be followed, so I spent yesterday making friends with these house spirits.  Given that this is not my house and not my rules, it would do me no good to come in like an elephant on roller skates and roll over all the current rules, in fact it would be downright rude of me to state my house, my rules as it is where I usually lived.  So instead, after getting my computer connected to the internet, with the help of the House Spirits, and setting up my sewing machine, with the help of the House Spirits, and once I had figured out that they were helping, I set about creating an offering.

I set up my Oil burner on a window sill with a coaster, and offered these house spirits the scent and magic of Frankincense and some of my personal energy with the intent to get to know each other, to make friends, rather than make rules.   This has worked well, and my computer and sewing machine is working nicely and it feels very welcoming.  Today we had sage basil and lavender which was ok, but not as accepted as the Frankincense. But hey, dems the breaks.
House spirits in my experience are generally a combination of energy left over from previous tenants and people who used to inhabit the building as well as your own personal energy.  In a way that I don’t as yet understand this energy combines and creates what I call House Spirits.  I generally find these spirits to be helpful, as they are in this inner city apartment, and am figuring out that they need regular attendance, offerings, if you will, which for this inner city pad comes in the form of regular cleaning and tidying.

This inner city pad was built about 10-15 years ago in a building that is well over 100 years old, which is quite old for New Zealand.   These House Spirits are a mixture of the buildings spirits that have been created over the last 100 years ,  a certain amount of spirit of place and several of my fellow witch’s ancestors from her blood family as family is very important as well as I suspect a personal spirit or two . Keeping an eye on the placed.  It is a curious but I suspect somewhat common mix.

For me House Spirits are often the combination of emotional energy, and an action with a dash of spirit of place, as in the land that the building is built on.   You know when you go into a room where two people have been arguing, you can feel the energy in room quite strongly.  You could cut the air with a knife, that is and can create spirit forms, especially if an action and emotion is something that is repeated.  I can remember seeing a glimpse of a woman walking through a gate that was no longer there carrying a basket and dressed in clothing from the early 1900’s while visiting at a friend’s house, I found out that where I had seen that woman had walk was where the original gate was.  It looked like she was carrying the days shopping home in a basket. I suspect that women who have lived in that house have carried shopping home through that gate quite a few times, thus an energy or house spirit has been created.  I have no idea what the mechanics of such a thing is I just know that is how it is created.

It will certainly make me pay closer attention to the house spirits when I go back home in two weeks.  I suspect that my cat will tell me off quiet loudly, but I am also wondering if I will look differently at my usual house spirits, that I have lived with for so long, perhaps I am now taking them for granted.  I will have to make a point of paying them more attention, it is only fair.!

Of course I could just be making this all up with a truck load of wishful thinking.. but I do not believe so.

and finally for you who follow me on blogger, i now have a mirror Blog on Wordpress, which you can find here       I have imported all my posts to over there which included the comments, yay.. so if you would like to follow me there and not here that would be good.  but for the next little while I will be posting the same post to both blogs.  What you will not see here are the Extra two pages I have created on my Wordpress site, to showcase the sewing and Wall Hangings that I am and have been making, but you can see them on the Wordpress site and there will be links here when I have updated.