Witchcraft Indoors vs Outdoors

One thing about the British Summer is that if the weather is going to be good there is no better place to be than in the out and about in the natural world. The British Isles has an array of beautiful landscapes and types to choose from and each is magical in its own right. It’s no wonder that the modern Witchcraft traditions that have been inspired by this fair isle primarily focus on nature worship and worship within nature.

The ideal is nice and lofty but catch this land on an off day (and weather wise we have more than our fair share throughout the year) and you will either freeze, drown, or disappear down a gully whilst blundering through thick fog. It isn’t always practical, or indeed safe, to engage in the Craft out in nature. Sometimes you have to either make the best of what you’ve got or stay inside.

Practice can be fluid when it is needful. I’m sure most cases people  would acknowledge that whilst they might try to work outside as, where and when they can this represents the exception rather than the rule. The convenience of working in ones home aside, the practice can become a necessity if there is a lack of a safe place, or you suffer severe allergies.

I’ve seen a bit of faux snobbery rearing it’s head recently, with the assertion that your only a “Real Witches™” if you practice outside. So let’s get a couple of things in order.

Not being able to practice outdoor does not stop someone from being a witch.

Practising indoors rather than outdoors does not necessarily weaken or invalidate someone’s praxis.

The “Real Witches…” argument is simply a vapid and transparent way of foisting off personal praxis (and occasionally UPG) off on to the unsuspecting seeker and the assertions don’t usually have much merit beyond the speaker and perhaps their immediate circle. It’s safe to say that most examples of “Real Witch” syndrome can be disregarded out of hand and that external validation of one’s personal situation and praxis is not always helpful.

Bringing the Outdoors In

There are many ways to bring the outside into our homes, and rituals can be adapted to suite your setting.

Need to represent the seasons? They can be brought in with decorations and seasonal flora. Want to work with the fay? Build a little garden on a balcony or window sill or even some other kind of spirit house for them to reside in. Need to scatter ashes on running water? Run a tap or flush the toilet, the later is very useful for baneful workings. Ashes intended to be scattered to the four corners can be thrown out of the window with an invocation to the four winds to garner the same magical operation.  Want to meditate on the meaning of nature? Gaze out of your window at whatever life you can see and guide yourself into the wider natural world through visualisation from there.

Many ritual and magical operations and objects are easily incorporated into either an indoor or outdoor setting, but it is equally possible to account for the limitations of either setting. For example, you may find that it is not possible to represent the element of fire with a live flame because your building has a no candle policy or there is a no fire order for the duration of a dry season. In both cases it is possible to represent the presence and effect of fire in other ways, such as dressing an unlit candle in oils and spicy culinary herbs or placing a bowl of such in the appropriate quarter. Whilst each stage and element is important in an ritual or spell so long as it is included in some symbolic fashion and the intent of the Witch remains strong there is no reason not to change things up a bit to ensure that you remain an effective practitioner in whatever setting you chose to practice in.

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Stir the Cauldron

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Hekate In Ephesus

I am not exactly a seasoned traveller, most of my formative holidays were spent on the east coast of England, with the foreign holidays abroad an exception rather than the rule. I can always wax lyrical about my UK based holidays as I experience them but I thought I would look back my few forays abroad, starting with Turkey; which I visited as a teenager with my family.

Why start with Turkey? Well our holiday destination was the Anatolian region, and region with lots of associations with Hekate. It might seem that a Heketean waxing lyrical about holiday to this area is a little overdone, given the connection between Hekate and Ephesus can be seen in the writings of Greek scholars and the Ephesian Grammata of course forges a link of its own. What stands out for me, and the reason I have chosen to start with this rather than any other trip, is the fact that at the time of my visit I knew little to nothing about Hekate in comparison to now. I had never heard of the Grammata, Cosmic World Soul or anything which could have corrected the the disconnect between the neo-Pagan presentation of Hekate and Her classical forms. I was visiting not as a Heketean devotee but as someone interested in Archaeology and nothing more and it is only in recent years and months, through research and information sharing across the wider community, that I have come to understand the strange sense of connection I had not only with the artifacts on display in the city and the attached museum but also with one specific location within the city itself.

Ephesus

Ephesus is an ancient Greco-Roman settlement, first founded in the 10th century BCE and eventually abandoned in the 6th century CE after the silting up of its harbour and a catastrophic earthquake. During this time the city was in the hands of not only Attic and Ionian Greeks but also the Romans and it is likely that it was the city in which the Gospel of John was written.

There are a number of notable buildings associated with the site, not least the Temple of Artemis which was considered to be one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The site is as big a draw for tourists today as it was back in 550 BCE when it was first completed, and it the site associated with the Artemis of Ephesus statue with sports the famous Ephesian Grammata, as cited by Pausanias the Lexicographer

Askion, Kataskion, Lix, Tetrax, Damnameneus, Aision

Ephesus has its own connection to Hekate beyond the Ephesian Grammata and the Temple of Artemis. In his work Geography the writer Strabo makes reference to the city by saying;

“They [the priests of the temple of Artemis at Ephesos] showed me also some of the works of Thrason, who made the Hekatesion (Shrine of Hekate).”

Strabo, Geography 14. 1. 23

Thrason’s name also appears in a list compiled by Pliny and it appears that Thrason is a sculptor of some note, particularly specialising in works to honour athletes and warriors.

As nice as these written references we do not know where Thrason’s Hekatesion was located. It may have been situated close to the Temple of Artemis, or somewhere else within the city. In either event it is not identified to visitors to the site and it is likely that it had not been identified in the ruins at all. There is however a known representation of Hekate which is to be found in the main complex of the city, and it’s presence and location brings into focus my experiences on that day so many years ago.

Library of Celsus

If you’ve ever visited Ephesus you will know there is quite a bit of walking involved. It’s level and not too daunting but hot Turkish sun glaring off the white stones of the city can be a little overwhelming for some so tour guides make the point of encouraging us weak westerners to take a rest. The best spot of course is in the shade of the massive frontage which is the Library of Celsus.

 

The Library was built as a mausoleum and monument to the memory of one Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, Senator of Rome and one of the few to bear this titles as an ethnic Greek. Competed c 114-117 CE the library was paid for entirely by the Senator and his family and was third largest library of its time next only to the libraries of Alexandria and Pergamum. Unusually for the time, Celsus was buried in the crypt of the building and he was honored in the entrance way in sculptured form.

When building, Celsus and his architects made use of the walls of two flaking buildings so in truth only constructed the front and back of the library and all that remains standing is the monumental frontage, casting a long and welcomed shadow across the courtyard.

Visitations from the Unknown

It was whilst I was sat in this welcome shade a strange feeling came over me, a feeling of Déjà vu but different. It wasn’t just that I felt like I’d been there before; it also felt as if there was something, just out of sight, that I should have been able to name but which was escaping me. If I had felt it whilst visiting the Temple of Artemis or facing one of Her many statues on display I might have said it was a visitation by the Goddess of the place, because it was not unlike something I had experienced in connection with Genius Loci in other locations.  As it was I couldn’t put the feeling into any form of context. The name I felt I should of known was out of reach and I wasn’t as experienced enough to know how to approach it and request a name.

Hindsight is a very powerful tool, and since working more closely with Her I have realised that the presence was Hekate. I’ve known that this was a visitation for some time now but it is only in the last few months that the reason for such an occurrence to take place in the shade of the Library of Celsus.  On the left hand side of the Agora as you look out from the Library itself if the Gate of Mazeus and Mithridates, also sometimes referred to as the Old Triodos Gate. On the north side of the eastern passageway is a small carving, sometimes referred to as graffiti, of a triformis woman bearing torch and rope/snake. There is also an inscription that reads “he who urinates this place will be pursued by the avenging spirit of the  goddess Hecate”. Nice.

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Gate of Mazeus and Mithridates

The carving is badly damaged, and the photos available online not exactly great, but the outline is too dissimilar to other depictions of Hekate from the same time period that the Library was constructed.

Of course now the sensation on that day over ten years ago makes perfect sense. It was perhaps the first time to which I can look back and point to an encounter with Hekate which predates my being called to devotion, although I suspect there may have been other times when I was too young and inexperienced to understand what was occurring.  

You could always put the experience down to the overwhelming heat of the day but I somehow doubt it. I was fine leading up to it, well hydrated and protected from the Sun, and quickly returned to normal as we moved on. As it was our visit then moved to to the Ephesus museum to view the various Artemis statues, one of which was presumably adorned with the Ephesian Grammata, which I found equally captivating and the Turkish equivalent of the Glastonbury’s White and Red Springs.

The Cotton Castle

The White Springs are in fact known as Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” in modern Turkish. The Greco-Roman population of the town built atop the site knew it as Hierapolis. Modern day visitors get the twin treat of visiting the ancient city and the hot springs, which have been a spa since the 2nd century BCE. The site is considered a natural wonder, being awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1988, because of the natural formations left by the hot springs. The white limestone has been enhanced by the water rich in calcium carbonate of the hot springs to create a landscape of pools and waterfalls made out of travertine.

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Cotton Castle © Vicky Newton

Although the hot springs are considered the main attraction to many visitors the town of Hierapolis is interesting in its own right. In the classical period the town doubled as a spa and retirement town, with many people moving to the city to live out their days in proximity to a hot spring, and one of the things it was famous for was its Plutonium. The Plutonium of Hierapolis, also referred to as Pluto’s Gateway, was a cave where carbon dioxide laced water was forced up an out of the ground. Given the cave was entirely enclosed the carbon dioxide would gather, killing anything that would date enter it and thus making the space into an impenetrable ritual entry to the underworld. Priests of Cybele would sell animals to visitors to either test the deadly nature of the site or as a vehicle of obtaining an Oracle from the God. The priests, known as the Galli, would also use the site to evidence the divine protection of their Goddess by entering it, standing within its walls, and then coming out again apparently unscathed. Magical properties aside it is more likely that there were pockets of air to be found within the cave which the priests made use of.

The cave and its associated cave are now in full ruin, with the cave being open to the air after 6th century CE destruction by Christians and subsequent earthquake damage. That doesn’t make the site any less deadly, with many a small bird and mammal straying too close to the cloud of gas being emitted and finding themselves breathing their last.

The Red Spring of Turkey

The “Red” springs were located in a hotel where we stand overnight before returning to our main holiday stay. The hotel had been build over / very close to an iron based hot spring and had created a spa pool into which they piped in the iron rich water.  Unfortunately I have no idea if the spring itself had a name, nor can I remember the name of the hotel and those that would know have sadly passed. It was nearly 20 years ago and my memory has never been all that good.
Still, that doesn’t take away from the utter bliss of an iron hot spring, which well exceeded the temperatures you find at Glastonbury and are probably better compared with the spring at Aqua Sulis. I am notorious for my poor circulation (a genetic trait I inherited from my paternal grandma) so I love nothing better than a boiling hot bath. It was heavenly,and in retrospect it would have been the perfect venue to sit and contemplate my experience, or perhaps the relationship between Hekate and hot springs of this nature. Alas that will have to wait for another visit, when my children are fully grown, because I fully intent to return to Ephesus and locate that graffiti for myself.

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Love Spells

This is another social media inspired post and set of spells, this times on that old chestnut – Love Spells. Everyone wants to feel loved or be loved, which is only natural, and many who are new to Witchcraft wonder exactly what the Craft can do for their love life. Witchcraft can do a great deal in this department but there a difference between can and should.

Obsession vs Love

Straight off the bat, I am not saying you can’t cast for a named individual to fall in love with you. Through sympathetic magic that is entirely within the bounds of possibility and if you want to do it go ahead.

What I am saying is I think this is is a mistake on many levels and entirely disrespectful of the individual you supposedly love and yourself.

Whether someone has fallen out of love with you, rejected you based on a flaw they see/perceive or simply just aren’t that into you using magical compulsion to force them to love you will not end well.

At best you will be building a relationship on a foundation of compulsion and obsession, which is not really a relationship at all because it will be filled with doubt. At worst you are signing on for your very own stalker by forging a link between yourself and another individual that, down the line, may prove a poor choice for a life partner.  

This kind of spell is not about love; they are obsession spells driven either by the obsession of the caster or designed to instil obsession in the target. If this is what you are looking for then you won’t find it here.

 

 

Love Yourself for Who You Are

A step that many people miss, particularly when just coming out of a relationship, is self care. I have friends,  and I have done it myself, where they have reeled from one bad relationship to another without pausing to take breath. Even where magical solution are not being considered this kind of behaviour isn’t always conducive to building a stable relationship second, third and even fourth time around.

It is my observation that allowing yourself to step back and away from the need to define ourselves through the love another allows us the space to become truly ready for love in our lives, giving magic something far more grounded to work with. Time is the ultimate healer, but there are magical and spiritual actions which can help with the process.

Just remember, this process is about you. Never change yourself to fit the perceptions or demands of another. This process is about finding and being true to oneself and the changes you bring to your life should first and foremost benefit yourself. If in doubt speak to a life coach, the opinion of a third and uninvolved party is always a benefit particularly if it is qualified.

Coming out of a relationship can be a good time to review and reflect on where you are in the moment and where you want to be in a year, two years etc. I suggest making a mood board for the recent past/present and crafting a cord cutting ritual around it followed by a vision board for your future self. You can then use the images on the board to craft yourself a visualisation or maybe a sigil shoal a’La Runesoup style from which you can work.

Love Thyself Bath Spell and Synergy Blend

These break up periods are a time to rest, recoup and look after yourself. There are many variations of this theme but I never think they are inclusive enough. The scents are often high note and flowery and half the time that doesn’t even appeal to the girls, never mind everyone else. Whether you are male, female or non-binary you have the right to feel like the personification of Love. Period. 

To make a synergy blend you will need a small 2ml amber bottle and the following essential oils.

  • Rose Oil
  • Lavender Oil
  • Geranium Oil

These are all fairly high note floral blends and there are plenty of alternative oils which will all help build your sense of self confidence and love. For something a bit more woody swap out the rose and geranium for Sandalwood and Cederwood for example. Experiment with scents before making a choice if possible. Proper essential oil shops (ie not Boots) will often have bottles on hand for you to try and mix and match with. Try each scent in turn then all together straight from the bottle for the best indication on if something is going to work for you. 

 If you are looking for alternative suggestions I recommend this website. I recommend using a 5/10/10 drop ratio initially to keep the batch small, you can always make more later.

For more information on blending essential oils check out this website.

You will also need a load of tea lights (remember fire safety), your favourite tipple, your favourite type of relaxation music and anything else you want to pamper yourself with. No one is watching, spoil yourself rotten.

Add up to 5 drops of essential oil blend to a tablespoon of milk which you can then add to a hot bath. Stir the bath in a clockwise direction with your dominant hand as you say;

I am beautiful both inside and out, I am worthy of love.

Get in the bath and pamper. Go for it, you’re worth it.

One of the benefits of creating a synergy blend than needed just for one bath is a) more baths and b) it can be used in diffuses, vapours or with base oils for massage, homemade beauty products and perfumes. Always check the contraindications of the individual oil before using it on your skin.

 

Spells for Signalling Readiness for Love

This kind of spell is the best kind when it comes to looking for love. It doesn’t matter if you have someone in mind or are simply ready to move forward this spell will open you up to the opportunities you need to make it happen without strong arming someone into a relationship. These spells don’t name names, they don’t even include visualisations of other people. They work entirely on the caster in order to signal to the world that they are ready for love.

A Love Charm

You will need –

  • A pink candle
  • Herbal mix – one star anise, two cardamom pods, sprig of rosemary and/or lavender (preferably dried, culinary herb will suffice) and rose petals (also dried).
  • Magnetic Haematite
  • Tin or pouch

Note – magnetic Haematite is the preferred material for this spell because as well as providing an attracting quality it also brings a grounding element with it, which is often of benefit in love spells.

 Being head over heels in love is all well and good but we need to try and make 

sure we land with our feet on the ground rather than barrelling on. This stone is readily available in most crystal and gift shops but if you don’t feel you can acquire any a normal fridge magnet will suffice.

If you have any Love Thyself Synergy Oil to hand you can anoint the candle in a clockwise direction with it otherwise just go ahead and light it.

Combine the ingredients with intent and visualise them pulsing with a rose coloured aura.

Add your magnet and say;

From this moment on I am attracting a loving and supporting soulmate.

Transfer the herbs and magnet into your chosen container, seal it and put it next to the candle. Visualise the charm pulsing with a rose coloured aura. Direct your desire to attract love to yourself towards the charm and visualise them aura growing in intensity. Continue this for as long as you feel is appropriate.

Next, pick up the charm and hold it against your heart and say this affirmation (or something similar);

In the right place and the right moment, my soulmate will be drawn to me.

Carry this charm about your person. Skin contact is preferred if possible but in your pocket or purse if sufficient. Renew the charm once a month until late you feel it is no longer necessary. Do so by lighting a pink candle and repeating the visualisations and affirmation process.  You can use the affirmation at any point where you wish to activate the charm, say ahead of a date. Shake the charm as you repeat the affirmation.

Love Spells for Existing Relationships

It is possible to use love spells to strengthen existing relationships though such spells work best when both parties are on board and participate.

One this I will say, this spell isn’t for the picky eaters. Chicken hearts are a poorly recognised piece of offal which actually taste rather nice and they can be a powerful ingredient in Kitchen Witchcraft. You won’t find chicken hearts in mainstream supermarkets so you will need to locate a quality, old style butcher. I shop in my local indoor market and most of the butchers there carry them.

Eat To Your Hearts Content

Pick your recipe, preferably one where you marinade the hearts for a period of time, and gather your ingredients. Before you get started cooking separate the hearts into two bowls/piles with equal numbers. One pile will represent the you and the other your beloved.

Stir your bowl and say;

“I want our relationship to burn like fire”

Stir your beloveds bowl and say;

“to burn and smoulder and not expire”

Combine both bowls, add marinade and say;

“passions mingle with hearts desire drawing love up ever higher.”

Leave to marinade according to the recipe. As you cook the hearts visualise repeat the phrase “passions mingle with hearts desire drawing love up ever higher.”

Serve up as a romantic candle light dinner for two.

With the two piles well combined in the cooking process there is a high probability that you will both consume each others hearts, sharing in a portion of each other’s heart symbolically just as in a relationship you share each other’s hearts.

Suggested Recipes

These recipes haven’t been selected because of their ingredients but because they contain the marinade step. Of the two the Brazilian recipe may be the most appropriate as the chillies can spice up a relationship gone stale. If you are a confident cook and want to come up with your own marinade appropriate for the purpose please share your recipe.

 

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Pagan Questions – How Many God’s?

As a Pagan you expect to encounter a few things from people when they find out you are pagan. Amusement, disbelief, ridicule; these are just a couple of things you might experience when you bring yourself out of the broom closet for the first, second or even one hundredth time. A think skin is a necessity.

The Scenario

The most amusing experience I ever had was with someone who said they were going away to do their homework. Trust me; it’s never a good sign especially if they refuse to take recommendations from you.

So a few days later said individual came is with a little pile of paper – printouts from various websites. None of those websites had anything to do with modern day paganism… also not a good sign.  

It should be said that this person was a born again Christian so you can imagine the kind of mis-information that dominated the pages. Here in the UK these seem a little less extreme but even then it wouldn’t have been my first choice to announce my chosen path to them. Unfortunately they walked in on a conversation and I have never been one for avoiding the conversation when asked directly.

Anyway, after politely refuting a few point; you know the usual “you’ve sold your soul to the devil” and ” it’s all evil”  malarkey; and them becoming more and more heated over the idea that I was going to Hell in a handbasket they hit upon one point which clearly they thought was going to blow my entire spiritual premise out of the water.

“Well it’s impossible to worship 400 deities at time! Why can’t you pick one and worship God?”

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It took me a while to respond… mainly because I just couldn’t find the words. I also may have laughed a little, which equally didn’t help anyone in a state of righteous indignation.

Even to this day I don’t understand how they arrived at the figure of 400, certainly it wasn’t cited in their pile of oh so reliable notes. I can’t for the life of me find anything now and suspect it was a figure they extrapolated all on their own.  

I think it likely stems from the the way the Roman empire not only had their own set of deities but co-opted local pantheons creating (hybrid) deities like (couple of British examples). Even then that doesn’t entirely get up to 400 but I suspect there was a large element of guesstimation based on their understanding of classical and ancient history.

Unfortunately I compounded my delay in responding by voicing the opinion that 400 seemed a rather conservative estimate given the number of non-Abrahamic cultures that have existed throughout the history of civilisation. What can I say, I was young(er) and I really was thrown by the outburst. As a result most of my response was disregarded for one reason or another.

Obviously now a few years into blogging and having acquired a few more grains of wisdom I would have handled it very differently so after recalling the encounter I thought I would pen a response accordingly.  

But first – a note on definitions. I am going to use the broadest definition of Pagan/ism as possible, basically because it allows me to illustrate my point effectively to the ‘uninformed listener’ receiving my response. Yes I do know the origin of the word, how it should be used so before you flame me, keep in mind who this is addressed to.

How Many Gods do Pagan Worship?

It may be a little confusing to someone approaching modern paganism for the first time, particularly in the meaning and application of the word ‘Pagan’ itself. If we take a broad definition, which is generally understood by people outside of the definition, and apply it to this discussion Pagan refers to ‘cultural and religious / spiritual practices which are not Abrahamic in origin’. Some of these cultural and religions are lived today by countless people around the world such as Buddhism, Sikhism.

There are lived, but threatened and appropriated, indigenous cultures in places such as America, both north and south, Australia and the African continent which would also fall under this broad understanding.

There are the ‘dead’ cultures and religions from classical and ancient history. Whilst there are some which are widely known about thanks to mainstream education and media sources there are many which are lost to use due to the nature of time and preservation of sources.

Taking all this in to account the number of ‘non-Christian’ deities likely far exceeds the number 400, according to our broad understanding of ‘Pagan’ at least.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/241505598740944440/

Detail of Mount Olympus from Fall of the Giants by Giulio Romano — Image by © Alfredo Dagli Orti/The Art Archive/Corbis

It is from the classical and ancient cultures that most people such as myself find deities to approach.The Greek, Roman and Norse cultures are particularly popular, as are the Celtic and Gaelic Cultures of the British Isles. Admittedly, the information available to us is somewhat limited due to the nature of time and preservation of sources. Whilst the term reconstruction is often used in regard to modern Paganism in truth what most practitioners achieve is interpretation and integration rather than true reconstruction. We do not worship as our ancestors but strive to find meaning and value in interpreting the information available to us into our practice and then developing our own practices and meanings through experience. Because of this modern Pagans often develop personalised spiritual and religious practices based on their own gnosis or experience. Whilst many will take direction from authors or people they consider Elders in the community a level of divergence is to be expected.  

Whilst it is impossible to speak definitely for all Pagan, by and large modern Pagans may worship as few as one or two deities. In some cases this may extend to a pantheon this is mainly limited to one group with particular reverence for particular and personal deities. How an individual Pagan comes to the decision as to which deity/ pantheon to work with is a highly personal process based on interest and calling.

One thing that calls many to Paganism is these elements of choice and self determination. Concepts such as individuality and the ability to explore experiences in a personalised rather than prescribed way is more than a little attractive in a society which consistently pushes for conformity. Although it may appear conflicting on the surface the variety that can be seen under the Pagan umbrella shouldn’t be taken as a sign of confusion or lack of sincerity; rather is a sign of individual expression and a striving to reach a spiritual understanding of life, the Universe and everything in a way which is relevant to them.

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Hekate and Corvids

The corvid family contains a number of different birds but this post will will concentrate on the three most commonly associated with Hekate; the Raven, the Crow and the Magpie. 

Raven

On a spiritual level the Raven plays the role of Guardian in the Corvid family. He is a keeper of time and space, letting us know when the time is right time to take action or notice of the world around us. They are the herald rather than the messenger, and to encounter a Raven is notice from the Otherworld that we should be paying attention to the world around us. They are also seen as being messengers of ancestor spirits, carrying messages from the dead as well as guardian spirits. As with Crows they are associated with battlefields and the gallows and as such many view them as omens of great upheaval,  I’ll omens and change. The famous ravens of the Tower of London are reputed to represent the fate of the tower. Should the ravens desert it the Tower, and the Monarchy, would fall which is why the Tower maintains around eight birds and clips their wings to ensure they cannot stray too far.

Crow

As with Ravens this smaller member of the corvid family is also associated with the spirits of the dead and our ancestors. Equally, Crows share the same associations with foreboding, negative omens and death. Crows are, amongst other things, considered to be a trickster spirit, on one hand providing guidance but doing so in a manner which is obscure and obtuse. This is in no small part because of the way they will steal from the nests of other birds or work in tandem with each other to steal food from other birds. Crows are particularly associated with shamans and witchcraft as both a messenger spirit and potential vehicle for the will or mind of the practitioner. A mysterious bird, which is ever watchful of potential dangers thy encourage us to be aware of our surroundings as well the deeper mysteries of life and spirit.

Magpie

Magpies represent all of the above but the difference in their plumage brings an additional dimension to the interpretation. As well as representing magical and spiritual forces they highlight the duality which we experience in our day to day lives. This might be the conflicting emotions of love and hate but it may also be the polarities of life and death, celestial and an chthonic. This is particularly relevant to Hekate as as a deity who transcends realms.

 

Corvids and Hekate

Of the three Ravens are the most commonly found in Greece but they are not historically associated with Hekate. The ancient Greeks associated Ravens, particularly white ravens, with the solar God Apollo and associated them with his prophetic qualities.

So how have they come to be associated with Her?

It appears that the association is a late development, stemming from the late Renaissance association of Witchcraft (and by extension Hekate) with black animals. Both Ravens and Crows are particularly associated with death, battlefield and inauspicious events as a result of their ? As carrion eaters. The image of the black bird haunting the gallows, battlefield and graveyard was consistent with the darker interpretations of Hekate that emerged out of the Renaissance and was then reinforced as she became erroneously associated with Celtic deities such as the Morrigan. As such we cannot say there is an ancient association between Hekate and Corvids.

That is not to say we should throw the baby put with the bathwater; there are some valuable connections to be made which can further enrich Hekatean devotion.

Make Use of What You’ve Got

Ravens, Crows and Magpies are found all over the northern hemisphere in one form or another. Their abundance can be problematic when looking for messages and omens however that does not undermine their value as a familiar spirit or animals associated with Hekate. Hekate is likely to use the animals most abundant in your local area as a messenger. If that is snakes or spiders then she is more likely to work through them. If Corvids of whatever kind abound then those are what she will ride.

Chthonic Messengers of Magic

Corvids are almost universally, irrespective of particular genus, recognised as being messengers of the spirit realm and of the Dead, two things that Hekate is strongly associated with. They are also associated with Witchcraft and Magic, as Hekate is. Bearing in mind what I said about Hekate making use of the animals that are around you, it makes sense that she would associate herself with these black winged messengers of death and magic.

Dance With The One That Brung Ya

Even without the rationalising process outlined above a lot of people associate Hekate with Corvids simply before they felt that the message was from, or about, Her. Whether that is a result of a knowing or a misinterpretation or conflation with other deities, such as the Morriagan, if you feel a connection between Hekate and Corvids then work with it. Ultimately Hekate is a transformative Goddess and this applies to Herself as much as it does Her Devotees and the important thing is to work with those connections to build a deeper and more meaningful connection.

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Venus de Willendorf

Don’t you love it when your favourite things get censored? Whether it is a favourite book being put on a banned list or book to movie adaptation gone wrong nothing bites more than our favourite thing being censored. Facebook was all of a’twitter recently over the very same subject but this issue particularly hit the pagan-sphere because the ‘offending’ image was of the Venus of Willendorf.

Here she is in all her glory.

Like other statues of its type, the Venus of Willendorf is a prehistoric depiction of womanhood in all its glory and she is often identified as representing a feminine godhead. I could wax lyrical about her image and supposed origins but actually I wanted to springboard off into my own ‘the world is too PC, we’re all perpetually offended’ rant.

Facebook, by its own admission, fluffed this as a censorship issue.  They have previously run this gauntlet regarding nudity in art form (including statues) and supposedly made allowances for artistic nudity but their track record speaks for itself. The social media giant did not enact sufficient changes to their algorithms to allow an art news website to publish their advert containing an image of the controversial goddess. Apparently it is easier to apologise and do nothing than actually institute any changes.

The way the Facebook algorithms work is bad enough but for the algorithms to be triggered someone has to actually report the image in the first place!

Who the fluff reported the Venus of Willendorf for nudity?!?

I’m Offended

This is a phrase all to often used to shut down discourse. Sometimes it is said, more often it is implied, but it’s purposes seems to be to an attempt to abdicate involvement in uncomfortable discussions about complex than subjects. It is also used as a cyclical form of insult between opponents like a schoolyard taunt ‘you’re a snowflake… no you’re a snowflake…’

Now I am sure the person (or persons) who decided to report the Venus of Willendorf  felt offended by the image of a prehistoric rock carving of a fecund woman with prominent breasts, vulva and buttocks. I’m sure the thought of scrolling past one of the most notable expressions of prehistoric art celebrating womanhood occurred to them but the offence caused to them was so great they had no other option than to report it as containing nudity and other pornographic content. I’m sure that after each posting was made following the original take down they paused to consider their position or if they should talk to the original poster about it…

Except I’m not sure any of this occurred to them. I don’t believe there was any thought process beyond the initial outburst of ‘I’m Offended!’ which resulted in the sacrifice of an international art treasure to the altar of Offence.

No Warnings Here

Saddle up kiddies, because I love the Venus of Willendorf. As a lady of larger proportions myself I wholly identify with an image that presumably considered an ideal of womanhood and the feminine principle. She represents the fertility of the body and also the land, she is abundance in a society where survival could be a tenuous affair. Without Her we are nothing, for without woman birth could not occur. Without Her survival was a pointless exercise, for there would be no next generation to pass on our knowledge.

It is likely the Venus meant much more to the people who carved Her, and my explanation somewhat limited. Needless to say, the Venus of Willendorf can be interpreted to be many things by many different people, I am not in a position to provide a universal definition of what she is or is not.

What I can do is share how awesome and inspiring she is.

Sadly a replica statue of the Venus is not amongst the list of things I own but she is firmly on the top of the list of things I want. I am currently investigating the cost of a 3-4″ 3D print of Her, depending on the quality of the files available but in the meantime there is always crochet!

There are a couple of crochet patterns which you may want to consider. I am still in the process of finishing off my coastal blanket so I haven’t managed to make any of these up. Once my current project is at an end I will get my hands on the relevant thread weight and have a go of the pattern by Trishagurumi.

Little Venus (free)

Venus of Willendorg by Trishagurumi (free)

Venue of Willendorf by Melbangle (paid for)

For those who knit There is also the Venus de Merino

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