An Evening with Brian Hoggard – The Use of Bellarmines as Witch-bottles

I’ve never had much cause to visit the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds but on Wednesday 10th April I attended a short lecture delivered by Brian Hoggard on the bellarmine bottles and their uses as witchbottles.

Brian Hoggard is an independent researcher working on the archaeology of counter-witchcraft, running the website Apotropaios and managing an extensive collection of hidden objects associated with counter witchcraft and the occasional curse. His talk fit with the Institutes current display associated with Renee So called Bellarmines and Bootlegs but also in time for the release of Brian’s new book Magical House Protection: The Archaeology of Counter-Witchcraft.

I’m sure Brian could have spend an hour on each aspect of his hidden objects collection, going into detail on the various objects and how they were used and discovered but we didn’t really have that kind of time. Instead he gave us a very quick introduction to the Bellarmine and their use in witchbottles.

Why the Bellarmine?

The Institute had a number of “non-witchbottle” examples of the Bellarmine stoneware and Brian’s presentation also included a number of pictures. They are very anthropomorphic, carrying the face of a lion bearded man on its neck above a rotund body which usually carries a symbol such as a daily wheel. The stoneware was imported from Germany but what made its way to England wasn’t what the creators considered to be the best quality. The best was saved for markets at home, but even the bottled that made their way to England were of a high quality which could be used over and over again.  The Germans perfected the process of stoneware as well as a glaze which was very reminiscent of skin or leather and the combination of form and appearance lent itself perfectly to inclusion in magical operations where a person needed to be represented.

As well as giving us the context of the time period in which the bellarmine witchbottles were most in use Brian outlines the two different ways that witchbottles were used by cunning folk and regular folk alike.

Offensive Witchcraft

Although not as recognisable to modern practitioners this first use of the witchbottle was as a form offensive counter witchcraft to punish a witch for bewitching a loved one. The stoneware bottle was filled with the urine of the afflicted person, which was believed to form a powerful connection between witch and victim because the essence of the witch was contained within the effluence, well-sealed and set to boil for anything up to 9 days and nights. Sounds dangerous? Well most of the written accounts the Brian gave involved the bottle exploding, and if the stoneware fragments weren’t enough there were the other ingredients to be fired around the room.

This form of Witchbottle appears to have been the earliest form of the counter witchcraft and seemed to have been something that could only have been performed by a practitioner of the cunning craft. On the other hand, and something that was more of an everyman spells, was the hidden spirit trap.

Spirit Traps

This will be far more recognisable to modern witches; the urine, the pins, the hair… a spiritual decoy which would draw any malicious witchcraft away from the individual represented by the bottle. This method appears in the record a little later, but seemed to spread further across the country with the spread of the Bellarmine bottle and was a practice which was picked up by different people, leading to interesting alterations in content such as clothing and felt shapes, or even complete variations such as a small bottle found in a parish boundary wall in Dorset which contained spring water and beef tallow, apparently representing a decoy to protect a cattle herd.

This kind of spirit bottle is often found placed inverted, bung down, which carries a couple of different connotations. Firstly, it may have been a practical consideration which ensured that the bung stayed wet and the condense preserved. Just as likely it represents the intent to cast the trapped spirit down into Hell.

Spirit Weapons

I’ve have a degree of familiarity with the archaeology of counter witchcraft for some time, in no small part through Brian’s work, so it was the finer points of Brian’s talk that caught my attention. For example, according to Brian the inclusion of bent pins, broken fork tines and other sharp-edged items that appear broken in Witchbottles wasn’t just a case of opportunistic inclusion but rather a very deliberate act, not unlike the ritual deposition of broken swords in watery contexts in the bronze age.

Like those bronze age swords the nails included in witchbottles had been bent as part of the preparation of the bottle, with the nails in an individual bottle having the same angle of bend indicating that they were all bent at the same time, if not around the same vice or post, which likely meant they were new at the point they went into the bottle. The ritual “death” of the object was a deliberate act, creating spiritual version of the sharp point which would successfully deal with the ethereal thread of the witches spirit/craft.

I don’t think I’ve ever fully made that connection before hearing it from Brian, despite being fully aware of the apparent purpose behind the deposition of bronze swords. Boy, don’t I feel stupid. It was also interesting to hear about Brian’s opinion on Marian and cross hatching marks as a spiritual representation of the human hand or a net ready to catch the evil spirits floating around a house.

I am really looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of Brian’s book, as the lecture was a perfect teaser for the information within. It might not be every witches cup of tea, by his own admission Brian is an academic writing an academic text, but I think it is going to be a very good insight into the practices of cunning and common folk alike.

Posted in Archaeology, History, Witchcraft | Tagged , | Leave a comment

10 Tips for Everyday Witchcraft

Want to bring your craft into your everyday life? Here are ten ways to make your day that little bit more magical.

1 Stir with Intent

To give yourself a little extra energy or emotional resilience stir your hot drink clockwise and charge your drink with the appropriate visualisation. Need to calm down at the end of the day or get the boss to chill out? Stir in the other direction and see everything unwinding. Add a little sugar or honey to keep things sweet, or add a little more coffee than you might need to make this bitter. It’s all in the swish and thinks of the spoon.

2 Leftovers

Use your leftovers from making tea and coffee mindfully. For example, tea bags are great for relaxation, useful as eye pads, compresses and maybe even bath infusers. Coffee grinds can be added to spells to give them a kick start and boost of energy. Some food leftovers, like onion skins, red cabbage etc make great natural dyes which can be made into cute paper for your journal or used to dye natural fibres for spell pouches or tarot bags.

3 Quick Wards

Throw a quick, small banishing pentagram of the earth as you leave the house each day with the intent that only those that live within can enter without an invite.

At the other end of the day when you are packing up for the night do the same, but if you or anyone else in the house have terminal forgetfulness include a clause that helps people remember what it is they are meant to have with them that day.

4 Answer Anything

Have a burning question but left your tarot cards at home? Divination by pendulum is a quick and discreet way to get answers to questions when out and about. You can always have a pendulum to hand if you wear a necklace. It doesn’t need to be crystal, metal and wood can also be used but the pendant/drop should carry a little weight behind it.

5 Always Protected

The same pendant that can be used as a pendulum can also be enchanted as a personal ward. Charge it daily using banishing and invoking techniques or give it a regular ritual boost as part of your regular practice. It doesn’t need to be something as obvious as a piece of jewellery either, a small packet of herbs, a sigil or a crystal can be put in your purse or pocket just as discreetly.

6 Meditate Your Way

Meditation and visualisation are at the core of many Pagan paths and it is a good idea to keep in practice. It doesn’t need to be a deep state or involve complete information or journeys, just five minutes inner reflection somewhere relatively quiet and undisturbed. I am using the Solfeggio App on my smartphone as it has a timer in addition to allowing me to switch between alpha and beta waves. This way I know I am going to get a prompt to come back rather than risk missing my stop.

If you can’t find a quiet moment then try another method called active meditation. This is a process of finding a higher mind state through repetitive activity such as walking. Take a ten-minute break and go for a walk in a safe space (or with as fewer road crossing as possible) and allow your mind to clear and become calm. Remember, meditation isn’t a process of suppressing unwanted thoughts but rather allowing them to pass by unnoticed rather than acknowledging them.

7 Glad Time Glamour

Apply a bit of magical glamour through your regular beauty routines. You could enchant your makeup but if you don’t wear it on a day to day basis (or at all if you’re anything like me) then try doing the same with your daily hair care routine. The best thing is you can use this to enchant for your family if you’re doing your kids hair (and they will sit still long enough).

As you brush your hair say a little rhyme which matches your intent, with a line for each brush if you can manage it. I like to use the pattern of the childhood rhyme “One, two; buckle my shoe” as the base for my spells but if I am wanting to enchant my hair to grow I use an adaptation of the Rapunzel Curse from 10th Kingdom.

8 Keep an eye open

Keep an eye out of interesting bits and bobs from nature as you make your way through the day. You may spot a herb growing wild with could be harvested for spells, an interesting twig could become a wand or a stone a talisman for some magical working. Even in an urban environment there is a lot of potential to find potential spell components.

9 Be Prepared

Try to make it a habit to carry with you some low denomination coins on you when you are out and about, this way you are always ready to make offerings to spirit wherever you are. Low denomination foreign currency is great for this, and a couple of coins tucked away in your purse or handbag aren’t going to weigh you down all that much.

10 Think Magic, Be Magic

Anything you do in your day to day life has the potential to become a magical act should you chose to view it as such. The clothes you wear, your daily hygiene/beauty routines, cleaning your house, washing your car…. All of it can bring an element of magic to your day to day life with a little thought and effort.

Posted in Magick, Musings, Spells, Witchcraft | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Gifts and Secondhand Witchcraft

When we receive gifts from friends and family or pick up bits and pieces off second-hand sales and the internet, we can be left wondering what to do with the object and the energy it carries. Some people will say that everything you acquire should be cleansed and purified as soon as you receive it, regardless of whether it is a working tool, a crystal or a book. Everyone has a slightly different opinion on how to approach this sort of cleansing, or if in fact, they need cleaning at all, and this is just my two penneth on the subject.

The Stories I Could Tell…

In my (not so) humble opinion whether or, not you need to cleanse something is entirely dependent on what the item is and what it’s purpose going forward will be. Does the item have a story? How do I feel about its story? Will that story that helps or hinder its use as a magical tool?

Thinking of objects in terms of stories; my story and the story of the object is something that has come up in conversations regarding grimoire traditions and the creation of ritual tools. In theory, personally engaging with the creation of the object/tool builds a connection between the item and practitioner, lending a sense of presence and power in ritual.

In other occult traditions there is also more scope to purchase and use second-hand items than in a grimouric context. I feel that the concept of stories still applies, particularly when you consider items which you may have been gifted by other practitioners or inherited from others. For this reason, I am always wary of cleansing an object before dedicating it to its purpose.

So what sort of things does this apply to? Well inherited items and second-hand items mainly, particularly items which can be used as magical tools. Knives, plates, candle holders, cauldrons you name it, the story they come with is important to it so I like to try and maintain it, even if the function of the object is somewhat different to its original intended use.

It is rare, in my experience anyway, but I have found it necessary to cleanse objects that have made their way into my possession. Usually, it has been because I was aware that the object came from a conflicted environment, or individual, or I have felt that there was something associated with the object (read attached to) that did not serve my purpose. In these cases, I have energetically levelled the item before dedicating and using them. I suppose i could be accused of a certain level of squeamishness here, but if I feel the story of the item is likely to interfere with my work then I would rather cleanse it and allow it to take on a new purpose and renewed story as my tool. .

Make Me Your Own

There are times where it is absolutely necessary to cleanse objects fully before they can be used. The most obvious example would be crystals intended for use in spells and healing.

Crystals readily absorbed the energies that they encounter around them and whilst this can be desirable it does mean that when you purchase them, first or second hand, they come with a mixture of energies already attached. Cleansing crystals ready for use, though if an item is intended as a display piece this step may be unnecessary if it has no purpose beyond looking pretty.

Maybe I Do, Often I Don’t

I find the same is true tools of divination. Building an energetic relationship with this type of tool is important if it is intended for use and previous use can get in the way of this. Last year I came into a couple of second-hand decks and before cleansing any of then I worked with them a bit to see how well we worked together. Some I had to cleanse before feeling comfortable with them, others I did nothing more than add my own energy into the existing mix. I think it really depends on the person and the deck and doesn’t think that it needs to be assumed that any form of divination tool must be energetically levelled before you can work with it.

The only things I say I’ve never cleansed for spiritual purposes are books. Yes, I’ve occasionally (and carefully) fabreezed a few but only if I can smell they’ve come from the house of a smoker. I really don’t see the need. I suppose if I felt there was something attached to a second-hand book then the option is always open but frankly it’s never come up so why worry…

Ultimately you need to decide for yourself whether or not you need to cleanse your second hand, gifted or inherited items for yourself. There are my rules of thumb, but you can always consider things on a case by case basis. The most important thing to keep front and centre is that unknown origins or energies do not automatically imply bad energies.

Cleansing options

Assuming you do want to cleanse something of its energies what methods are available to you? Everyone loves a bit of sage or salt and water but it isn’t always practical to give your new to your deck of cards a saline bath so what other options are available.

Earth

Pointed objects, like knives and swords, can be grounded energetically by having their blade driven into the earth up to the hilt or by being given a dirt bath. It is important to clean and care for the blade carefully after this to ensure that there is no damage or rust as a result of this treatment.

Crystals can be used to absorb the energies of an object. Place the object with stones such as Jet, Smokey Quartz and Haematite or a period of time before replacing them clear quartz or some other stone which promotes attributes desirable to the objects use. This method can be used on a smaller scale, like with tarot cards, or on the large scale such as furniture or tools.

Air / Fire

Cleansing through the use of smoke is good for most things, though be careful to keep card and paper away from the heat source so as not to cause a fire. Sage, however, is not a one size fits all answer. All though it does level energies it does not replace them so you want to ensure that the sage is either cut with other herbs, such as lavender, rosemary or lemongrass or that other cleansing and energising herbs are used in preference to sage.

20170128_152401-1

Water

Salt and water are very effective and cleansing objects, particularly when both are ceremonially blessed and invoked, however both salt and water can be detrimental to crystals and metals. Crystals which may be made friable, discoloured or even dissolved by water should be cleansed by some other method for example. Vinegar preparations, such as 4 Thieves, or water mixed with herbs, fruits or essential oils can be used to wash furniture and objects such as cups and plates.

Posted in Magick, Musings, Witchcraft | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Full Moon in Libra

This full moon is an ideal time for spells to promote friendship and working with others. If there has been a rift with family or friends, healing spells are appropriate. The sun sign Libra is represented by a set of scales, so rituals to increase balance in your life and in your partnerships are also suitable.

Sun Sign – Aries

Common Names – Worm Moon, Crow Moon, Chaste Moon

Element – Air

Colours – Pink, pale green, light blue.

Insense – Rose, thyme, lavender, mint, benzoin, bergamot

 

Spell / Ritual Themes

  • Harmony
  • Friendships
  • Partnerships
  • Team Building
  • Relationships/ Romance

 

Crystal Grid to Promote Harmony in the Home

I’ve been reading and experimenting with crystal girds in the last few months and decided to create one for promoting harmony within the home making sure to including my favourite stone, Labradorite. All the stones were shock cleansed in water, charged under the Libra full moon and then the grid set with the following intentions;

Master Stone – Rose Quartz

“Our hearts are healed and we are filled with love.”

Intention Stones – 12 small tumbled Labradorite

“We find joy in the calm of our day to day lives.”

Quartz Points – 6 in total

 

20190317_101316.jpg

 

Posted in Magick, Rituals & Rites, Spells | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Birds of Good Omen

As well as playing with the Tarot in the past few months I was passed a pack of Birds of Good Omen oracle deck from the 1980’s Hachette magazine series.

20190317_102552.jpg

Unfortunately I was only passed the cards, no meanings or information about their use, but I was able to get my hands on a full magazine set (and a second set of cards).

The deck is intended to replicate the form of Roman divination auguium or “divinatory observations of birds” but in truth it is an interesting mix of birds ranging from the British back garden, to Australia and America so not entirely true to the original. Some of this variation could be put down to the “historical” explanation that observing birds for the purposes of divination was something used by lots of different ancient civilisations such as the Celts, Gauls, Indians and Chaldean’s. I’m not saying that this isn’t true but I don’t fully trust the woolly 1980’s language and research, which defiantly shows it’s age when you start reading some of the meanings.

Age aside, the artwork has aged well and I love the concept of this desk. This might have something to do with the fact that the Kite appears within it, and the kite doesn’t seem to appear in many bird or animal oracles these days. To make things even better, the Kite is a well aspected card without negative qualities.

The Kite

This open indicates a person who is brave, able to defend themselves where necessary and willing to protect their rights with beak and claw. They are not afraid of struggle and will not avoid confrontation because they recognise they can never escape their responsibilities. They have courage, self-control and confidence in their just cause.
The kite predicts imminent success which can only be attained through efforts, courage and intelligence. This is a success that you have worked hard for. This card can also indicate reaching the end of a period where it has been necessary to strive hard and force through any form of progress. This card indicates that this process is at an end and success has been achieved.
Upright or reversed, the aspect of this card is never altered as there are no negative aspects to this card.

Posted in Birds of Good Omen, Divination, Musings, News | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The High Priestess

The High Priestess

La Papesse, The Teacher

02-high-priestess-meaning-rider-waite-tarot-major-arcana_large.jpg

Upright – intuition, spiritual matters, mysteries traditions.

Reverse – hidden agendas, secrets, a need to listen to ones intuition.

Description of Rider-Waite-Smith

The High Priestess sits serenely upon her throne, between the twin pillars Boaz and Jachin before a curtain decorated with pomegranates. This is the entrance to the Temple of the Mysteries, over which the High Priestess presides and she bids us approach with the same introspection and stillness with which she now sits. At her feet lies a newly formed crescent moon and upon her breast the equal armed cross of harmony of physical versus the metaphysical. She is crowned by a triple moon headdress, proclaiming her power and rulership of the subconscious realm and the mysteries that lie beyond the veil of pomegranates.

Key Symbols

The Twin Pillars

The black and white pillars behind the High Priestess are the twin pillars of the Temple of Solomon, Jachin and Boaz which in Hebrew mean “He Shall Establish” and “In It Is Strength” respectively. These pillars are chosen to represent the temple of the High Priestess in part because of their connection to the western magical tradition but also for the duality that is represented in their respective hue. The two pillars represent opposite principles; light vs darkness, logic vs intuition etc, standing in harmony, a concept echoed with the equal armed cross at the centre of the High Priestesses garments.

Pomegranates

Between the twin pillars hangs a curtain decorated with pomegranates, hiding the entrance to the Temple. The pomegranate has a long standing association with mystery traditions, particularly with Persephone and the Eleusinian Mysteries. This hanging and it’s decoration reminds us that the temple beyond contains mysteries relating to the deeper realms of the subconscious and inner planes of intuition and perception.

Crescent Moons

At the feet of the High Priestess lies a crescent moon, speaking both to her inherent femininity and connection to the mental landscapes of intuition and the subconscious. In this way she is the opposite of the Hierophant, reliant on her insights and feelings rather than form and structure. She is the left hand to the Hierophant right, the feminine principle to his masculine one. The triple moon crown on her brow reinforce this connection and that of the feminine mysteries.

wp-1552159342581.jpg

The High Priestess of the Arcana

In the Arcana deck the High Priestess is represented in the form of a owl. The only symbol from the Rider-Waite-Smith card that remains is the hint of a crescent moon atop her head but the use of the owl imagery draws on associations night time and the subconscious.

Within the game the High Priestess is associated with the Countess Nadia, the second Love Interest which the Main Character can romance. Within the game Nadia is plagued by prophetic dreams and often displays a acute intuition which is in line with the High Priestess’ association with use of intuition to uncover hidden things. Like the Magician the High Priestess is manifested within the game with its own character sprite.

Posted in Divination, Tarot | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Glastonbury Occult Conference 2019

Apologies for the radio silence but I was in Somerset attending the 2019 Glastonbury Occult Conference. It was a great weekend, so here is my round up of my 4 day odyssey to the Isle of Glass and back again.

Friday 22nd February

Friday mostly consisted of dashing for buses and staring into rush hour traffic wondering if I would make my connection. Leeds to Glastonbury by National Express is about an 8-hour trip, consisting of two National Express and local service from Bristol to Glastonbury High Street. Apart from a nail-biting moment where it looked like I would miss my local connection, which would have pushed my landing time back about an hour, it was a smooth journey through the Covenstead was a welcome sight.

20190222_170857.jpg

Wells Cathedral by Bus

At least the weekend was blessed with good weather. You’d have been forgiven for thinking it was high summer in Somerset – bright misty mornings, lunches outdoor in the market square and balmy evenings where you didn’t need a coat straight away. The weather held from Friday to Monday until I got back home which was one of those small beauties.

Having my evening meal in the George and Pilgrim was expensive calories with buying good wine and mutton curry. Yum! After eating I had the opportunity to catch up with some old friends before turning in for the night with good company as Saturday was set to be long, exciting and interesting.

Saturday 23rd February

The conference, like any good occult conference, opened with visualisation and a ritual, drawing on the ancestors of modern paganism and the founding character of Glastonbury as aspects of the cardinal points.

With that uplifting experience, we were then straight into fun stuff as Ronald Hutton gave an overview of the Ancient Mystery traditions. As regular readers of Knot Magic know this was right in my wheelhouse and it was great to hear the good professors position in the mysteries, with particular interest paid to his thoughts on the Eleusinian Mysteries. In particular, I took away his comments on the sacred drink of the rites and what exactly caused the ecstatic mindset, which was very practical of course. Being high on opium was off the cards straight away given, as Prof Hutton rightly pointed out, it would be impractical to supply let alone administer the required dosage to so many participants. Equally, he was dismissive of the ergotism hypothesis on the basis of wheat not being cultivated in the region. I am not sure how true this is but I am not convinced by ergotized wheat simply because the cultivation of ergot wouldn’t have been a process which could have been predicted or controlled and the effects could equally have been anything from extreme to completely negligible. The idea that barley wine (or beer though I myself lean toward wine) may have been consumed in quantity to create that euphoric state those who drink are all familiar with is far more credible and readily available whilst still being in keeping with the themes of harvest at the time.

After a short break came lovely James North and his workshop on Rosicrucian Magic, Elementals and Fairies. After a whistle-stop explanation of how he has been able to blend Rosicrucianism, Alchemy and Hermeticism to create a system which enabled him to work with the various classifications of spirits. At one point we were asked to visualise a time when we were out in nature and asked to see what impressions we consciously remembered. I situated myself stood atop Verbeia’s  Mount, or at least my idealised form. We were then asked to recall those impressions we had been left with we may not have been fully conscious of. At this point I nearly took a trip down Willy Hall’s Spout, or Verbina’s Well as I subconsciously named it, which i realised would take me on a very chthonic journey should i choose to go. I think James was disappointed that i didn’t let myself go there but I was just too aware I was in a timed workshop but it is definitely a tread I intend to pull on once I am home.

James also took the group through a practical ritual to help those present build a better connection with the various spirits associated with the quarters. The workshop space ended up being very busy, with many attendants on both the physical and metaphysical planes. I was aware of all the different types of elementals walking to space which James and his ritual team built. Again, this is a ritual I would like to recreate at a later time if I am able to as I would like to have the chance to stand with each spirit type as he described them.

Next came David Rankine workshop on the Hebrew Alphabet, which included introducing the concept of the letters as three Mothers, seven Doubles and twelve Singles, based on their mean, appearance in hebrew text and pronunciation. David shared with us three visualisations based on these, with the first two forming possible personal praxis which could be built upon with further study.

I skipped the next talk and workshop, having puddled my brain with all that mental exercise, so I indulged myself in some shopping. One cannot visit Glastonbury without doing a little shopping, though my priorities were gifts for friends and family. I’m not saying that I didn’t shop for myself but i didn’t buy anything for myself until everyone else had been bought for.

The final talk of the day was by Robert Anderson Plimer on the subject of the Golem. Covering a wide variety of image magics including blood fetishes, or d’mammu, imiut, ushabti, kolossi, paredrai, homunculi as well as the Golem. Towards the end of his talk, Robert covered modern examples of these thought forms, such as the various AI that have been trained by tech giant and some rather bizarre experiments he had heard about online. As a closing take away Robert explained about the process of making your own Golem / magical servitor.

Saturday Evening

The evening event at the Avalon Club kicked off an hour or so later with Paul Weston launching his new book, the Magical Battle of Britain. In his second talk of the day, his first having coincided with my shopping trip but I did pick up his RuneSoup interview which dropped the same weekend. I’m not going to attempt to provide an a detailed recount but I recommend getting the book and all credit to Paul for birthing a book which clearly came with a seriously intense karmic debt attached. .

Though he was a hard act to follow comedian Donna Scott did a wonderful couple of sets, peppering her anecdotes of life as a Black Country lass with amusing poetry. We were probably not the best crowd going, having had our brains turned to mush during the day, but she persevered. The evening was rounded off with drinks, socialising and crashing hard once back to the B&B.

Sunday 24th February

Sunday kicked off with a talk by Nikki Wyrd on the process of growing older as a magician. Although avoiding topics such as the here after and even the moment of death Nikki focused instead on the ageing process itself and the importance of staying engaged in an enchanted world whilst remembering to stay active and engaged. Nikki pointed out how yoga, ti chi and even ritual poses can maintain mobility, whilst magical crafting in all uses of the phrase keep our minds engaged. As someone who is engaged in older person services as a profession it was something of a realisation to note that although a lot of the events and activities that are provided for the older generation may not appear to be pagan oriented on the surface it would not be a stretch to view them as such so I have no excuses to become isolated in myself as I reach my old age. Nikki also pointed out the importance of ensuring that the stories of items, both personal and magical, are noted and passed on which is something that I have come to realise the importance of in recent years.

Nikki then ran a Spiritual Spring Cleaning workshop with her partner Julian Vayne. Using the mindfulness technique of introspection, though the practices is somewhat older than the modern mindfulness movement, we were take on a tour of our skeletal, digestive, respiratory, circulatory and nervous systems. As we were reflecting on the functionality of each system we were instructed to acknowledge both what worked well and what things, read our general infirmities, had messages for us before they were acknowledged and put aside. The process was presented as being similar to cleansing a working space. As each permanent item is removed, cleaned and set aside we are left with the working debris which are slightly more tattered and more likely to head to deep storage or the bin. The next stage of the process was then a process of redressing the altar, and we were taken back through the five systems inviting appropriate energies back in to enliven them as we went. This could have been colour, deity, elemental… whatever resonated with us, and then we revitalised ourselves by metaphorically splashing our face with water of our choice from our cupped hands.

20190224_131005.jpg

The weather was unseasonably warm over the weekend, very different to 2018’s Beast from the East.

Again, I have to confess to skipping out on a talk, terrible I know but a girl needs to treat herself.

I did make sure I was back in time for Jake Stratton-Kent and his talk on Therio-forms and Conjure Magic. Hearing a little about Jake’s methods and use of the lunar mansions as a method of timing magical working brought a timing method which I have heard min about but not had much call to work with was inspiring. Jake also introduced the concept of overlaying the therio-forms associated with an individual mansion over yourself as the magical practitioner was also an interesting concept which demands exploration. He also dropped the concept that it is possible to overlay the animals of Hekate with the lunar mansions based on various magical papyri. Jake didn’t have the reference with him however I was able to find a post by Nick Farrell which I believes replicates the information Jake was alluding to and I will come to how I will pull on this tread in a moment.

The final talk was given by David Rankine and looked at the similarities and differences between the Grimoires and the Books of Secrets, providing a crash course history to the development of both type of books, primary examples and how they have both experienced their own form of renaissance in their own times. David interspersed his explanation with personal anecdotes from his own magical practices.

I am willing to admit I was mentally flagging by the time we reached the Q&A session with Jake and David. The discussion was enlightening to the differences in practice and opinions on working with grimoires but I did not internalise as much as I would have liked. 

A ritual space opened is a ritual space which needs to be closed. The ritual team took us through another lovely visualisation centred around the Heart of Avalon, our journeys too and from the event and the pearl of wisdom we would we take away with us. In truth I couldn’t settle on a single one thing, realising that there were so many things that resonated with the many threads I have been pulling on in the last year. Instead, I feel like I have acquired a treasure chest to take home and set upon my magical working space.   

Monday 25th February

Although the journey between Glastonbury and Leeds is a long one I wasn’t due to catch my first bus until 11:20 so I was able to have a rather relaxed morning. I had an hours wander around the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey , sharing nods with the local dog walkers, taking a moment to visit the grave of King Arthur, view the holy thorn and light a candle to the memories of love ones.

I also had a little time to brows the vast library scattered around the Covenstead and consider what I would do next when I got home. I had a couple of ideas filtering though my mind, most of which were associated with Hekate and the moon, but no clear final decision. Colour me surprised when the Moon card from the Witches Tarot fell from between the pages. I know a sign when I see one and the imagery here is not too dissimilar to that on Jack Grayle’s new book The Hekatæon so I will begin by undertaking the first 9 day ritual dedication as outlined and use the time to finalise my list of lunary animal and epithets in association with the mansions of the moon to undertake that aspect of working in its own time.

Posted in Hekate, Magick, Musings, News | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment