Are You Ready for Magick?

Already the first month of 2021 is drawing to a close, however the constant changing environment that we have found ourselves in during the last 12 months hasn’t really let up. Maybe this is the new “normal” and we need to get used to the ebbing and flowing chaotic nature around us which, when you think about it, is what our natural world actually is. What has happened is that we humans, who love order and structure, have forgotten how to move with the changing tides.

Some things do need a bit of structure however which is the call for expression of interest in going out for those wishing to gather again with like minded people.

The first offering is Gathering around the Cauldron, which is intended to be a series of specifically designed monthly meetups for witches, as well as other magical practitioners, wishing to explore the various practices and philosophies of magic, ritual and contemporary witchcraft with likeminded people. There will be the opportunity to learn about and explore other styles of magick and witchcraft, to undertake practical crafting, and even an opportunity to honour the seasonal festivals (sabbats) with other people.

Regardless of experience level, each meetup will be combination of theory, discussion and practical application with the emphasis being placed on the Southern Hemisphere. It should be pointed out that Gathering around the Cauldron is not intended to be a “teaching” group (although it may lead into one if there is the interest).

The second expression of interest being sought is for a High Magick study group. This will be a teaching circle where instruction on various techniques and magical formula utilised by organisations such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, including the qabalah, planetary magick and more. As a study group, participants will require to obtain specific texts, keep a journal and undertake their own practice.

Whilst the venue for both groups has yet to be determined, three possible locations are being considered, being North Adelaide, Port Adelaide or the Temple’s covenstead in Parafield Gardens.

If you would like to take part in these monthly meetings then email Frances with “Expression of Interest” in the subject line and indicate which group (or both), preferred location, and a little bit about yourself.

Full Moon Gathering

A special Full Moon Gathering will be taking place on Tuesday, 29 December 2020 on the evening prior to the actual timing of the full moon (1:58pm ACDT on 30 December 2020) at Grange Beach, Adelaide.

Celebrate the closing of what has been a rather challenging year for many of us as the moon resides in its own astrological sign of Cancer, enabling us to contemplate the base upon which we have built our lives, our concept of “family” (biological or chosen), the place we call “home” and the love that comes from deep within.

This Cancer Full Moon is also the time for birthing into the world energy, ideas, projects associated with our own life’s foundations.

Participants to bring:
Something biodegradable to represent what you wish to release from your life (ie, flower, shell, pebble).
Small candle (ie, tee light)
Drums (optional)

Cost: Gold coin donation to charity.

If you would like more information, please email Frances or contact us through the Facebook event.

Chinese Whispers and Black Salt

In this modern age where everyone is offering magical advice, how do you know what is genuine and what has fallen victim of what I classify as “Chinese Whispers Syndrome” (a childhood game where a “secret” was whispered to one person who then whispered it to another which went around the circle to the last person who would vocalised the “secret” hoping it would reflect the original whisper). This year (probably reflecting the global situations and increase in social media usage), I have noticed an increasing about of “sage advice” about magical practices or techniques often gleamed from other spiritual traditions being incorporated into witchcraft practices. While I personally have not issues with adapting such magical practices or techniques, after all this is what my style of contemporary witchcraft is about, my issue is where the adaption is based on a lack of knowledge and understanding of the original magical practice or technique. I will use “black salt” as an example.

In a number of folk magic traditions, black salt (also known as “Sal Negro” and “Drive Away Salt” and should not be confused with the Indian black salt which is a mineral salt used for cooking) is a special salt blend used to drive away evil. It can be sprinkled around your property to keep your home safe from intruders or troublemakers, and even sprinkled in the footprints of someone who is bothering you, to make them go away.

Black salt can also be placed in closets and dark corners in a room to drive away evil or negative spirits. You can even sprinkle it on the floor and then sweep the salt out through the front door for a cleansing of your home or apartment. This protective salt can be added to witch’s bottles and alternatively, sprinkled in a circle around the perimeter of your house for protection, to banish evil and also to cleanse from any negativity.

More traditional recipes instruct that black salt includes salt (preferably sea salt), scrapings from a cast iron skillet or pot, ash from your fire pit (ritual fire), maybe some herbs (such as black pepper) and even powered black food colouring (although black salt is not necessarily black in colour). These ingredients are blended during certain phases of the moon and have specific chants and prayers recited over them for a period of time.

Modern alternatives to making black salt include adding additional protective herbs and even essential oils to the mix, such as rosemary (protection from harmful people or toxic relationships), cayenne pepper (dispel anger or toxic relationships), cinnamon (protection from a broken heart or pain in a romantic relationship) or even lavender (to block invisible ickiness).

I recently came across someone advising their followers to make black salt from Himalayan salt and the left over ashes from burnt incense sticks. This advice I personally consider to be a prime example of “Chinese Whispers Syndrome” in that while Himalayan salt does offer protection, this is more commonly during astral travel or when spiritually travelling between worlds as opposed to protecting your physical space. Sea salt on the other hand is used in purification and cleansing baths, as well as to help release and cleanse negative feelings. Further, I question the use of burnt incense ash as this has little if anything to do with ritual fire ashes or cast iron scrapings.

In this modern age, anything appears to go. While this may be true to a certain level, when you are making products or utilising practices or techniques that come from other spiritual traditions, ensure that you actually have some knowledge of what is required to ensure your success.

Gardnerian Wicca – A Reincarnation Cult

The following article is an abridge version of the one written by Sophia Boann, which can be found from the Cup of Wisdom, a Gardnerian coven residing in East Cork, Ireland. To read the entire article, please visit the above link.

Often Wicca is portrayed as a fertility cult, however, at its core, Gardnerian Wicca is a reincarnation cult.

Gerald Gardner believed in group reincarnation. An early hint is found in the way he concludes his book A Goddess Arrives, a story based on a personal experience: “Do you believe in reincarnation?” he asked, and began to tell her about Rudolph Steiner’s theory of group incarnation.

Gerald Gardner refers to reincarnation immediately in the introduction of Witchcraft Today, where he describes encountering the coven who brought him into the Craft: “and I met some people who claimed to have known me in a past life.” Reincarnation is a frequently recurring theme in the book, and there are such statements as: “The cult god is thought of as the god of the next world, or of death and resurrection, or of reincarnation, the comforter, the consoler. After life you go gladly to his realms for rest and refreshment, becoming young and strong, waiting for the time to be reborn on earth again, and you pray to him to send back the spirits of your beloved dead to rejoice with you at your festivals.” (Chapter III) and “What they wanted was prosperity and fertility for the tribe, a life after death in happy conditions, and reincarnation into their tribe or nation.” (Chapter VI).

Not all initiates believe in reincarnation, and even among those who do, there are varying views on the concept. There is no sense of “Karma” along the lines that you will have a better or worse next incarnation if you haven’t done enough recycling in this life. But all of us have this experience of coming home, a feeling that we belong here, in the greater scheme of things. Additionally, we often have a strong sense of recognition with other initiates when we attend larger gatherings, an instant sense of belonging together, and having known each other before.

The training or “Outer Court” is mostly an excuse to feel out that connection with the group spirit, and if the Seeker will be at home in the coven they are with. And that “feeling out” should go both ways; if the Seeker doesn’t feel like they belong, which isn’t a judgement on the coven, they should move on to find their own place within the greater scheme of our existence.

Contemporary Witchcraft – Pre-orders now being taken

I am delighted to be able to advise that pre-orders for my forthcoming book, Contemporary Witchcraft: Foundational Practices for a Magical Life, will open on Saturday, 5 September 2020, with physical copies expected to be received by the end of the month.

Contemporary Witchcraft: Foundational Practices for a Magical Life aims to set the series of foundational practices that will benefit any neophyte (beginner) interested in contemporary witchcraft (initiatory Wicca) or to magick in general. As I explain, how you design and build your practice is entirely up to you however with solid understanding of some foundational practices, you can be assured that you are effectively set for life, regardless of where your own path takes you.

 My initial instruction into contemporary witchcraft not only focused on the practical application of ritual and magick, but also the “behind the scenes” information, providing an insight into the psychological changes, as well as what is actually happening on the astral level. It is this understanding that enabled me to gain a stronger belief in the magical work that I was undertaking – a belief that also proved to be most beneficial during dark nights of the soul, the times of doubt when the logical mind saw me questioning what I had been dedicating much of my adult life to. 

Times may have changed, as have the needs and desires of people, and whilst spiritual practices also have changed, this does not necessarily mean that all of the original vision Gardner had is outdated and needs to be discarded. As the saying goes, we do not have to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”. When it comes to magick, there are still aspects and techniques that simply can only be learnt over time through the practice of the magical art. Such things cannot really be taught through the pages of a book or the internet. There are other aspects of magick that are best taught under physical instruction of a trained practitioner as opposed to a handful of inexperienced novices boasting about their alleged successes.

You can pre-order your early release copy of Contemporary Witchcraft: Foundational Practices for a Magical Life here for only $35 (includes postage within Australia).

The actual release date for Contemporary Witchcraft: Foundational Practices for a Magical Life is not until July 2021.

The Power of Words

My initial magical training included a number of timeless pearls that I believe still hold relevance today, one of them being the power (or energy) that words have. This belief in the power of words is not one that has been wrapped up in ancient esoteric secrecy that is only disclosed through appropriate hereditary initiations, nor has it been randomly plucked out of all obscurity. All throughout history, the power of word (or language) has been evident, being one of the first things targeted by an invading power (ie, where the conquered is forced to forego their language and adopt that of the conqueror).

In various metaphysical, neuro-linguistic and even new age teachings, students are instructed on the “power of words” and how they shape our perception of things including ourselves. Within the various magical communities it is the carefully chosen words that crafts the spell in order to achieve a desired goal, or expresses our devotion and requests to the Gods.

Even beyond the magical, mystical and metaphysical realms, most of us know the power of words – from a young age we are encouraged to believe that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”.

Why then, are seekers of the Craft insisting on calling themselves “baby witches”?

Apparently this is not a new phenomenon despite me only first coming across someone (an adult) referring themselves as such a month or so ago (clearly I live under a rock). However, since a recent TikTok incident where so-called “baby witches” attempted to “curse” the moon, social media and blogs have go overboard.

Now, I don’t watch TikTok so have no real interest in whether the moon got “cursed” or not, not I have the energy to invest in ascertaining any logic as to why someone would attempt to do that is in the first place, what is getting my goat is the phrase “baby witch”.

There have been some popular bloggers who have openly stated that to call a seeker or novice a “baby witch” is rather insulting because we all had to start somewhere. However, the only people I have come across calling anyone “baby witches” are novices or seekers themselves. And it is this use of the phrase that, for the life of me, I don’t understand.

When I was starting to take my first steps on the path that eventually evolved into contemporary witchcraft, I was a “seeker” for I was seeking knowledge, experience, the answers to my endless questions, and possibly a teacher/guide. I was also a “novice” as I was still relatively inexperienced when it came to the art of magic and the Craft. Another word that was used was that of being a “neophyte”, again referring to someone new and starting out on the path.

The word “baby” conjures up impressions of an infant, someone helpless and totally reliant upon others (adults). Babies are incapable of acting on their own behalf, are unaware of things that are potentially dangerous due to their inexperience with the concept of harm, not to mention having an intellectual awareness of fully understanding what is going on around them.

While calling yourself a “baby witch” may sound cute, it also implies the avoidance of taking responsibility, and that you are simply absorbing whatever you are being told without displaying and discernment about your own education, needs, and desires. The negative use is further highlighted when compared to the term “novice” where the latter, implies having full autonomy of your spiritual path and the direction you wish to follow.

In my forthcoming book, Contemporary Witchcraft: Foundational Practices for a Magical Life, I explain that one of the underlying aspects of this spiritual path is that “it calls upon its followers to engage in active participation as opposed to being merely spectators; and where each individual is ultimately responsible for the development of their own spiritual journey.”

How responsible are you prepared to be when it comes to your own spiritual and magical path?

Ebbing and Flowing with COVID-19

Only last week I was delighted to announce a couple of forthcoming events that I would be running at the Riverdell Spiritual Centre – one to celebrate the gateway of spring, Imbolc, on 1 August 2020, and the second was to celebrate and honour the Goddess of the Crossroads, Hekate, on 15 August 2020. Due the recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases across the border in Victoria, and the increasing risk of a potential resurgence here in South Australia, I have now decided to:

Cancel the Imbolc event at Riverdell Spiritual Centre altogether with much regret. If you have already booked through Riverdell, please contact them for a full refund.

The A Day with Hekate event will still remain at the Riverdell Spiritual Centre. Bookings are essential as there will be a strictly limited number of places available. Details of how you book your place can be found here.

At this stage, the August Gathering Around the Cauldron will also still be going ahead on Thursday, 6 August 2020. Booking are essential as due to social distancing observances, there are only a limited number of places being made available. You can book you place here.

A Little Book of Wicca

The latest offering from TDM Publishing is A Little Book of Wicca.

Consisting of some 60 pages, this short guide to Wicca, contemporary witchcraft, aims to be a perfect introduction to this earth-centric spiritual belief.

Commencing with a brief history of how Wicca came into being, it also covers the common beliefs and ethics found within Wicca, the perception of a dual deity (a God and a Goddess), sacred days and seasonal festivals, as well as information specifically to the Southern Hemisphere that is often overlooked in other books. A glossary containing some of the more commonly used terms is included as well as a recommended reading list.

A Little Book of Wicca is a perfectly priced introduction book for anyone interested in learning more about Wicca, or to being used as a guide to be given to family and friends in order to explain what this earth-centric spiritual belief is truly about.

Details:
ISBN: 9780244863067
Dimensions: A5 (5.83 x 8.27 in / 148 x 210 mm)

Cost: $15.99 (includes postage within Australia) available direct from TDM Publishing.

Some Myths about the Witch Trials

A 1655 pamphlet illustration of witches being hanged
In England witches were hanged, not burned. This illustration is taken from a 1655 pamphlet by Ralph Gardiner© Bettmann/Getty

Today I was rather surprised to be reminded of one of the misconceptions about the witch trials (or the “Burning Times” as it is often referred to within Pagan circles) that I had thought had been debunked by the 20th century – that some nine million people lost their lives after being accused of witchcraft. Apparently not.

As such, I thought I would share four of the more common misconceptions about the witch trials as discovered by Professor Diane Purkiss (Professor of English Literature at Keble College, University of Oxford).

1. Nine million witches died in the years of the witch persecutions: It is estimated that a more accurate figure is from 30,000 to 60,000 people were executed in the whole of the main era of witchcraft persecutions, from the commencement in 1427–36 in Savoy (in the western Alps) to the execution of Anna Goldi in the Swiss canton of Glarus in 1782. These figures include estimates for cases where no records exist.

Colour drawing showing people being burned in a public square as part of the Spanish Inquisition
The Spanish Inquisition persecuted those perceived as heretics by the Catholic Church, but witchcraft was largely regarded as a superstition, and wasn’t pursued as a heresy by officials except in rare cases© Prisma/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

2. Witches were burned at the stake: While people found guilty of practicing witchcraft were burnt at the stake across Europe and in Scotland, they were actually hung in England and America. In Scotland, they were straggled first before being burnt.

3. The Spanish Inquisition and the Catholic Church instigated the witch trials: Four of the major western Christian denominations (the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist and Anglican churches) persecuted witches to some degree, while the Eastern Christian, or Orthodox, churches carried out almost no witch-hunting. In England, Scotland, Scandinavia and Geneva, witch trials were carried out by Protestant states. The Spanish Inquisition executed only two witches in total.

4. King James I was terrified of witches and was responsible for their hunting and execution: More accused witches were executed in the last decade of Elizabeth I’s reign (1558–1603) than under her successor, James I (1603–25). The first Witchcraft Act was passed under Henry VIII, in 1542, and made all pact witchcraft (in which a deal is made with the Devil) or summoning of spirits a capital crime. The 1604 Witchcraft Act under James could be described as a reversion to that status quo rather than an innovation.

In Scotland, where he had ruled as James VI since 1587, James had personally intervened in the 1590 trial of the North Berwick witches, who were accused of attempting to kill him. He wrote the treatise Daemonologie, published in 1597. However, when King of England, James spent some time exposing fraudulent cases of demonic possession, rather than finding and prosecuting witches.

Sources:
Witch: Eight Myths and Misconceptions by Professor Diana Purkiss
“Witch Hunts”: Now and Then, Myths and Realities by Morgan Lamkin
Professor Pavlac’s Witch Hunts by Brian A. Pavlac

Further Reading:
The Witch: A History of Fear, from Ancient Times to the Present by Ronald Hutton (Yale University Press, 2018)
A New History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics and Pagans by Jeffrey B Russell and Brooks Alexander (Thames and Hudson Ltd, 2007)
Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700: A Documentary History by Alan Charles Kors (editor), Edward Peters (editor) (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000)
The Oxford Illustrated History of Witchcraft and Magic by Owen Davies (Oxford University Press, 2017)
The Witch in History: Early Modern and Twentieth-Century by Diane Purkiss (Routledge, 1996)
Witchcraft and Magic in Europe, Volume 4: The Period of the Witch Trials by Bengt Ankarloo (editor), Stuart Clark (editor) (University of Pennsylvania, 2002)

A Witch’s Familiar

In European folklore and folk-belief from the Medieval and Early Modern periods, witches and cunning folk were believed to assisted by certain supernatural entities that were known as “familiars”. These spirits would appear in numerous guises, including as in a humanoid figure, but more commonly as an animal. When they served cunning folk, familiars were often thought to be somewhat benevolent, however when they were in the service of witches, familiars were considered to be rather malevolent.

The role of the familiar is the topic that will be discussed during the July Gathering Around the Cauldron which will be taking place in the format of a Zoom call on Thursday, 2 July 2020 at 7pm ACST.

If you would like to participate, you will need to register through Paypal in order to receive the Zoom meeting code. The meeting cost is $10 AUD.

Alternatively, you can email our High Priestess for the appropriate bank account details. Your payment must be received by 1 July 2020.

All participants will be receive a detailed fact sheet about the topic as well as go into the draw to win a prize.