Gathering around the Cauldron Meetups

Gathering around the Cauldron meetups are specifically designed for novices to explore the practices and philosophies of magic, ritual and contemporary wytchcraft, as well as providing those who may have read a few books to gain experience by putting this knowledge into practical application.

The underlying emphasis of what will be shared during the Gathering around the Cauldron meetups will be placed on the Southern Hemisphere.

During the meetups, participants will:
:: Gain personal experience in creating a sacred space.
:: Be guided through magickal pathworkings and visualisations.
:: Work in accordance with the seasonal Southern Wheel of the Year.
:: Raise and work with energy.
:: Connect with Deity.
and much more.

Gathering around the Cauldron will be held on Thursday, 8 and 22 August, 12 September, and 14 and 28 November 2019 (7.30pm to 9.30pm).

Bookings are essential as there are limited places available.  Reserve your place free through Eventbrite.

If you have booked a place then for whatever reason cannot attend, it is considered polite to let us know.

Venue: Temple of the Dark Moon covenstead, Parafield Gardens
Cost: $20 per fortnight (payable on the night)

Herodias and the Queen of Witches (Coby Michael Ward)

Aradia, the Gospel of the Witches. Charles Leland. Ilustrator unknown. Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
Aradia, the Gospel of the Witches. Charles Leland. Ilustrator unknown. Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

The Witch Queen in Traditional Witchcraft

The concept of a Queen of Witches is not new to modern traditional witchcraft.  When investigating this concept from a historical perspective many common themes begin to arise, and we see the fluid stream of polytheistic syncretism.  Certain names and themes circulate around this concept, shedding light on the transformative nature of pagan deities.  They are not fixed in concrete and steel like the gods of modern society, but ever changing and growing like the roots of a tree, branching out above and below.  For me, the Queen of the Witches is the chthonic aspect of the mother goddess embodied in the fertile earth.  She draws her fertility from the dark rich soil, feeding the lifeforms of the surface.  She is one of the elder gods.  A nameless primal archetype of early humanity who has overtime assumed multiple forms, names and identities based on the people perceiving her.

Within the school of Traditional Witchcraft there are a handful of recurring deities that are linked in the historical procession of the primordial witch goddess; such recurring names as: Diana, Herodias, Habondia, Frau Holda and others help us piece together the etymology of the original goddess.  I am generally focused on those figures found within the folklore of the British Isles and Germany via the Holy Roman Empire.  Within this spectrum the earliest sources are traced back to Greece and Rome from which these themes disseminated originally.  Witchcraft scholars seem particularly interested in the goddess Diana.  Historical sources show that her veneration continued well into the Christian era.  Her origins, like many others begin in ancient Greece before making their way to the Roman pantheon.  It was a Roman custom to create composite deity names for various situations for example the Roman Juno-Lucina began as Hera-Diana in Greece.  It is here that historian Carlo Ginzburg, in his famous Ecstacies, points out that the original nomenclature was written and transcribed as Hera-Diana. The Church seeking to associate goddess worship with diabolism used this as an opportunity to distort the original theme.  Hera-Diana was transcribed as Hero-Diana to associate her with the biblical figure Herodias.  This was reinforced at the ironically named Council of Truer in 1310, which set Herodiana next to Diana to perpetuate this distortion.

Herodias, Erodiade, and Aradia

According to the research of Raven Grimassi; “the appearance of Herodias, as a biblical figure, in connection with a goddess of witchcraft is an intentional displacement of deity figures.” (Herodias in Witchcraft)  Initially it seems as though the close spelling between these two different names is what resulted in the distortion, however it played into the goal of the Church to dismiss the validity and reality of Dianic worship.  This allowed church officials to connect the pagan figure Hera-Diana with the Biblical figure Herodiana or Herodias, and the Italian translation of Erodiade into one cohesive idea.  The story of Herodias begins in the New Testament, much like the Old Testament’s Jezebel another wicked woman of the Bible.  Herodias is known for her role in having John the Baptist beheaded for criticizing her marriage.  She is depicted as one of the Bible’s many wicked women, in association with witches.

This depiction of Hera with a Hind is titled Diana of Versailles and is an example of the composite deity Hera-Diana. Louvre. Wikimedia Commons.
This depiction of Hera with a Hind is titled Diana of Versailles and is an example of the composite deity Hera-Diana. Louvre. Wikimedia Commons.

Erodiade (Herodias) remained part of Italian folklore prior to Charles Godfrey Leland and his popularization of the name Aradia.  According to folklorist Sabina Magliocco, Aradia was a supernatural figure of Italian folklore that was widely known prior to the publication of the Gospel of the Witches, which wasn’t published until 1899.  It seems that it is a common trend for the early Church to graft itself onto local folklore by creating Biblical connections with the intention of converting pagans, however in retrospect it seems that this only insured the survival of these entities by facilitating their transition into the new religious paradigm.  Papal proclamations and decisions made in councils would determine the Church’s official stance on these issues.

Diana, as the Queen of Witches

There are a handful of female deities that most fully embody the power of the mother goddess and the craft of the witch.  Diana, and her many counterparts and consorts are known for leading her followers on the winding path of spiritual discovery and personal power.  The Church also recognized this powerful embodiment in the form of Diana, attesting to her connection to the Unseen.  Their goal, after hundreds of years of polytheistic goddess veneration, was to convince people that Diana was an illusion created by the Devil to lead the unsuspecting away from God.  By introducing the concept of deception, Church officials attempt to dismiss the validity of Dianic worship.  They condemn those who believe in such illusions, however those who believe witchcraft itself is an illusion are even more deceived according to the Church.  Church doctrine at the time explicitly warns of women who follow Satan, fly at night and worship Diana as found in the Canon Episcopi.

The four main points of the Canon Episcopi are outlined in the infamous Witch hunter’s manual, the Malleus Maleficarum. The first and most important of these main points is that there is only one true God and no other should be worshipped except for him.  The second point mentions Diana specifically as the goddess of the pagans; it points out that she is actually the devil in disguise using glamour to deceive people.  The third point continues to discuss the devil’s power of illusion, by making followers think that are flying long distances, it is actually another glamour used by the Devil.  The fourth and final point again mentions Diana by name.  It states that real witches make a pact with the Devil and must obey him in word and deed.  The canon also encompasses all and every act of witchcraft which are many and diverse.  It also states that real witches are doing much more than worshipping Diana and flying at night.  It is suggested that the Canon should be extended because, “witches do much more than these women, and are of a very different kind.”  I believe this quote from the Malleus Maleficarum is an example of the distinction between pagan folk practices and actual witchcraft, which was a common nuance at the time.

Her Majesty

The image of the Queen of Witches has taken many forms over the millennia.  The power to assume these cross-cultural forms is unique to the elder gods of our nameless tradition.  Sects of night flying witches were known to ride with various ancestral goddesses.  As the goddess of life, death, and rebirth; she presides over all aspects of our existence.  She is the primordial mother of the Underworld beckoning the souls of the dead back to her embrace.  According to many traditional witches, the Queen of Elfhame or goddess of witchcraft as she is known, is a counterpart to the Master of the Wild Hunt.(Craft of the Horned Piper, 17-20)  During the winter months from Samhain to Yule the Wild Hunt or Furious Horde led by the Horned One and his Queen, are known across Europe for guiding the souls of the dead across the sky.  Both assuming different aspects during the dark and light halves of the year.

Resources:

“Herodias in Witchcraft” by Raven Grimassi

The Goddess Aradia and other subjects

Wikipedia Entry: Herodias

Win a copy of Dancing the Sacred Wheel

I am delighted to announce that the third edition of Dancing the Sacred Wheel is nearing completed due to the need to change publishing platforms.

Dancing the Sacred Wheel is a journey through the traditional eight seasonal festivals (sabbats) and how they relate to the Southern Hemisphere. Incorporating history and traditional Pagan lore with personal experience and ritual insights, invaluable pointers are included as to how to incorporate the localised elements into something that also provides a “traditional” feel.

While the focus of Dancing the Sacred Wheel is for the Southern Hemispheric practitioner, a challenge is set to the reader, regardless of which hemisphere they reside, to draw inspiration from their local environment, and to create a “Wheel of the Year” that is completely unique for them.

To win your own copy of Dancing the Sacred Wheel (3rd edition) simply like and share the post found on the TDM Publishing Facebook pageh.

The winner will be announced at the end of April 2019.

Some of the Biggest Mistakes when Learning Magick

Magick is a strange interest to have and as such, people are often drawn to it for rather high brow reasons:
:: You want to understand the universe and your place in it.
:: You want answers to the questions of life, the universe and everything – not just second-hand faith in somebody else’s proclamations.
:: You want a heightened sense of personal dignity, integrity and power to achieve the goals that matter to you the most.
:: You want enchantment. You want to live an enchanted life – one in which you can immerse yourself in wonders and mysteries, and experience intensity that people who are checked out in front of their phones or TV screens never will.
:: You want a heightened reality, or even to quest for absolute reality itself.

St Patrick, the Snakes and Paschal Fire

The 17th of March each year is St Patrick’s Day, the so-called Irish saint who “banished” the land from snakes, and a time when people find that “mysterious” far-distant relative lurking on some forgotten branch of the family tree to justify why they’ve consumed far too many green dyed pints of beer and wearing some awful hat with a green clover (sorry, shamrock) on it.  I doubt that between swilling their Guiness, Beamish, Murphy’s, Harp, Kilkenny, that they have given much thought about the man whose day they are allegedly celebrating.

Experiencing the Power of Ritual and Magick

Commencing on Thursday, 23 May 2019, the latest version of The Wytch’s Circle, the initial training circle offered by the Temple of the Dark Moon, will be held over six evenings.

The focus of The Wytch’s Circle is on learning and developing the art of ritual and magick as well as providing insight into the workings of the Craft in the modern age.

While designed for those who have had some ritual experience (either solitary or within a group), The Wytch’s Circle can also cater for the practitioner who is seeking more advance and indepth instruction in order to further their own practice.

It is the Autumn Equinox and NOT “Mabon”

It is that time of the year again that despite the ever lingering daylight savings, a definite change can be felt as the earth’s wobbling rotation pulls away from the sun here in the Southern Hemisphere.  The mornings are distinctively darker and the sun lingers longer below the horizon, and there is an ever slight chill in the air.  Yes, the time of the Autumn Equinox draws near (21st of March to be exact for this year).

As such, it appears time again to point out an erroneous association that first appeared in the 1970s and which, despite numerous attempts to rectify over the years, still perpetuates itself within modern Paganism – that being the usage of the term “Mabon” as an alleged alternative name for the Autumn Equinox.

Black Salt for Protection

Within some folk magick traditions, black salt is used as a protective element to drive away negative, or even evil, energies when scattered around your property. It can even be sprinkled into the footprints of people who are bothering you as a way of making them go away and leave you alone. It is said that the salt absorbs and contains negativity.

Illusions, Mind Games and the Pagan Way

When I was younger I recall a teacher warning us that if you try to put yourself out to be something that you are not, you will eventually get caught out. The statement may have been made in relation to cheating on school exams or maybe even the age-old advice as we left the protected life of school and entered the dreaded work force. Regardless of circumstance, there are only a certain about of time that you can “wing it” before you come across people whose eyes you simply cannot pull the wool over.

The Wonders of Frankincense

When the three Magi from the east arrived in Bethlenhem bearing gifts for the new messiah, one of these gifts was the resin frankincense.  As recorded in Matthew 2:11:

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”


Frankincense is a milky white resin extracted from species of the genus Boswellia, which found in the Arabian Peninsula, eastern Africa and India. The finest and most aromatic of this species is a small tree, the Boswellia sacra, found growing in Somalia, Oman and Yemen.