Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere

The timing of the winter solstice is marked when the sun reaches its furthest north position in the sky and starts to move back towards the south.  As it does, it marks one of the main turning points in the year, the others being the equinoxes as well as the summer solstice (that occurs in December).  The timing for the winter solstice this year is today, Sunday, 21 June at 7:13 am (ACST time).  From this moment onwards, days start becoming longer and night times shorter.  However with the worse of the winter weather yet to arrive, this thought is not often the first that comes to mind.

In ancient Europe the winter solstice (the timing of which in the Northern Hemisphere takes place in December) was seen as a time of celebration.  The Romans had a week-long celebration called Saturnalia during which all wars had to stop and courts did not try criminals.  Later this festival became Dies Natalis of Sol Invicti, or the Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun, celebrated on 25 December each year.

Within the mythos contained within contemporary witchcraft, this is the time when the God is reborn and emerges from the Underworld, where he passed into at Samhain.  His rebirth will bring warmth and fertility back to the land. 

The eve of the winter solstice, however, belongs to the Goddess who is likened to a hibernating animal, residing deep within the Underworld as she readies herself for the pending birth of her son.  The child conceived at the festival of Bealtaine, which marks the commencement of summer, is about to be born. This birth is also the sign that life is about the return to the earth once again after many bleak months of winter.  Just as she labours to bring forth her son, the “Child of Promise”, the young hero, we also wait with much anticipation for the sun to appear.  The rebirth of the sun confirms that darkness will be overcome by light and we step into the waxing half of the year. We are reborn. The year is new.

The following “Solstice Prayer” by Thorn Coyle reflects the anticipation of waiting for the first rays of the sun to appear over the horizon:

We wait in the dark for the light to appear,
Mother, give birth to our brother the Sun.
We wait in the dark for the light to appear,
Mother, give birth to our brother the Sun!
We wait. We watch.
Out of the cold comes the promise of newness.
We wait. We watch.
Out of the cold comes the promise of day!

The Child of Promise is the new sun, which is small and weak at this time of the year, but will grow stronger as the sacred Wheel of the Year turns.  As such, the winter solstice is a time for celebrating new beginnings and to focus on what you wish to bring into your life.

Sources: Sydney Observatory

Cosmic Happenings in June 2020

We are already two weeks into the month of June so the timing of this article may appear somewhat irrelevant. According to many astrologers, however, there are still more pertinent cosmic activity to come, so the following incorporates a reminder of this journey that many of us are undergoing, starting at the lunar eclipse that coincided with the full moon back on 6 June 2020.

As a number of sources were used in the compilation of this article, please refer to these listed at the end of the article.

There is a lot of cosmic activity occurring throughout June 2020, especially with there being a rather powerful solar eclipse taking place at the winter solstice and six planets in retrograde.  It is almost as if the universe is asking us to assess the paths in front of us, for there are many options being presented. As this month progresses we need to keep in mind that each and every one of us has their own route to follow.  As such, this is the month of becoming aware of our own personal path and not to be distracted by what other people are choosing to do.

June is the month where we may feel a pull to judge others or deem things as good or bad. Instead of jumping to conclusions, the astrology of June is like a light turning on that shows all the dust that has been collecting. Many things are coming to light this month. It is important to remain passionate and take action. But it is also important to stay true to the peace that exists in our hearts

Friday, 6 June 2020 (4:42 am ACST) – Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Sagittarius
This full moon lunar eclipse kicked off a month of transformation. It was the beginning of a new journey, and was the first eclipse of a series of three that will occur. This is a time of feeling our limits. Even though we might be ready to expand there are still some things that need tuning. During this full moon eclipse we should allow ourselves to become aware of our limitations and learning from them, instead of ignoring or fighting against them. We have to be willing to expand our opinions or perceptions; while knowing that growth takes commitment and dedication.  The full moon coupled with the lunar eclipse in Sagittarius is a great time to see where you’re at and make an inventory of your assets. 

Friday, 19 June 2020 – Sun Conjunct North Node
With the Sun is our identity and the North Node is our purpose in life, on 19 June the sun will be conjunct the North Node at 29° Gemini.  This event occurs only once a year and as such it is the best time to ask:  “Who am I really?” “What is my true purpose? What is my life path?”

When you ask yourself these questions, become aware of the very first answer that comes to you. Gemini has a curious, open-minded vibe. It is important that you don’t try to seek confirmations or validations to existing assumptions during this time.  Like Gemini, be open minded and welcome new perspectives. Now is the time to also accept that you do not yet have all the answers. 

Friday, 19 June 2020 (2:29 am ACST) to 12 July 2020 – Mercury Retrograde in Cancer
Mercury retrograde is nothing to fear or worry about. It is a time to get in tune with ourselves and our thoughts. This Mercury retrograde will be occurring in the sign of Cancer, which invites us to become kinder with ourselves and others. This cycle will show us where we can nurture ourselves, but also where we need to step up our self care.

With Mercury turning retrograde this means that four out of the five planets visible to us (being Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn) are all now retrograde, which is rather unusual. This is a time of deep introspection.  As a Mercury cycle lasts for 116 days, this means that during the next four months it is a favourable time to start a project that connects the qualities of Mercury (writing, communication, learning, commerce, DIY) with the qualities of Chiron (healing, spirituality, astrology, herbs, alternative healing, shamanism, working on the family/karmic wound).

Sunday, 21 June 2020 (7:14 am ACST) – Cancer Season
As the sun travels through Cancer for 30 days we are all washed with the light of this sensitive sign. It is a time to listen to our feelings and our emotions. This means acknowledging what we are sensing. It is been a massive year of shifts and changes. We are like caterpillars that have transformed into butterflies. This Cancer season is our first chance at spreading these new wings. However, we have had to say goodbye to the caterpillar which can bring up grief. Honouring our emotions and letting them flow like the tides of the ocean is the key.

Sunday, 21 June 2020 (4:11pm ACST) – Solar Eclipse Solstice in Cancer
This solar eclipse is occurring in tandem with the solstice, which sets the scene for the next three months.  (This is something that occurs at each solstice and equinox).  This winter solstice however coincides with what is considered to be the most powerful eclipse for 2020.  The impact of this eclipse will be that the upcoming three months will have a fated flavour. The solar eclipse in Cancer is a North Node eclipse which offers opportunities to rewrite the script of our destiny. South Node eclipses on the other hand tend to have a more karmic flavour.

The North Node is like a vortex and with a North Node eclipse, anything is possible.  Be mindful however of what you do as there is always a reaction – usually occurring at a future South Node eclipse.  We may feel like a crab, with one foot we go in one direction, and with another foot in another.  This push and pull Cancerian approach give s us room and time to assess the environment, to take calculated risks, and still get to our destination. 

Tuesday, 23 June 2020 (2:02pm ACST) until 28 November 2020 – Neptune Retrograde
Outer planets such as Neptune are at their most powerful when they change direction, ie more keen to implement their “agenda”.  As such, Neptune wants to dissolve our ego so we can be at one with the source. Neptune’s message is that separation is an illusion and that we are all one.

This transit is very spiritual and invites us to explore the magic within ourselves. The inner realms are fertile and ripe with miracles. It is when we look outside of ourselves for hope that we might be disappointed. Instead this is about having faith in our inner universes.

When Neptune is direct, we look for experiences of “oneness” outside ourselves. When Neptune is retrograde, we seek oneness within ourselves.  At the Neptune station, you may have some experiences, insights, or intuitive messages (pay attention to your dreams) that will reveal how you can access those Neptunian resources within yourself.

Thursday, 25 June 2020 (4:18pm ACST) – Venus Stations Direct
Venus ends her retrograde which began on 13 May 2020. Even though this cycle is ending, there are ample amounts of wisdom to carry forward. This is the time to walk our talk and make the changes we know we need to make. Venus wants us to stay true to our hearts and not fall back into old patterns. If you have been feeling confused, emotional, divided, torn between different directions, Venus direct will come with the much-needed relief and clarity.

Sunday, 28 June 2020 (11:15am ACST) – Mars in Aries
Mars enters Aries where it will remain for the rest of the year. Usually Mars speeds through a sign, but because of a Mars retrograde occurring from 9 September 2020 to 13 November 2020, the planet of action will have an extended stay in Aries. This means there is no rush or urgency. In fact the lesson is to become patient, calm down and prioritize peace.  Now is a great time to take bold action on any projects you are wanting to undertake.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020 (3:16pm ACST) – Jupiter Conjunct Pluto
This is the sequel to the Pluto and Jupiter conjunction on 4 April 2020. The systems of planet Earth are changing and transforming. We can see it in our individual lives and on a collective level. Things are not the same as they were and there is a lot of room for improvement. Because both Jupiter and Pluto are retrograde during this conjunction it is time for us to make changes within ourselves. The new paradigm is born when we take responsibility for ourselves and the worlds we are creating.

This is the second of three occasions where Jupiter is conjunct with Pluto.  The first conjunction occurred on 4 April 2020 when the Corona virus was in full swing, and the final conjunction will occur on 12 November 2020.

Pluto had been in Capricorn since 2008.  While Pluto has a reputation of being overly secretive and working behind the scenes, Jupiter has the reputation of exposing, magnifying and inflating. We have a conflict of interest. In 2020, Jupiter is asking Pluto to do what he dreads the most: to reveal his hidden agenda.

Both Jupiter and Pluto are known for blowing things out of proportion. However there is always a positive side to everything. This second conjunction will likely come with a solution or alternative route to the problems that have been brought to our attention at the time of the first conjunction.

It is up to us to do our homework and act from our highest selves. Because the third conjunction in November will come with the final outcome. The good news is that Jupiter and Pluto have a reputation of being extremely generous. Now is the time to act wisely in order to reap the rewards later this year.

Source:
Moon Omens
Astrology King
Refinery29
AstrologyZone


Why Samhain is not the “New Year”

The following is adapted from Dancing the Sacred Wheel where I brought to the reader’s attention that the assumption that Samhain was the Celtic “new year” and therefore has been adapted as such into modern paganism.

The “new year” assumption is believed to have originated from an interpretation made by 19th century antiquarian, Sir John Rhys, in his “Hibbert Lectures” presented in 1886. In these lecture, Sir John interpreted comments made by Julius Caesar on Gaulish Druidic timekeeping as Samhain being perceived as the Celtic New Year due to “the Celts reckoned Dis the father of all and regarded darkness and death as taking precedence over light and life.  So in their computation of time, they began with night and winter and not with daylight and summer.  This is probably the key to reckoning years as winter.”

Being the first scholar of Celtic studies at Oxford University, Sir John’s interpretation does not appear to have been questioned, despite P.W. Joyce commenting in A Social History of Ancient Ireland (1903) that “O’Donovan stated in 1847 (Book of Rights 1ii) that the season with which the Pagan Irish began their year could not be (then) determined”.

Sir John’s incorrect interpretation was never challenged resulting it appearing in what today are now considered to be “classical” works, including The Golden Bough where Sir James Frazer recorded that “… the Celts would seem to have dated the beginning of the year from [Samhain] rather than Bealtane.”  Sir James also concluded that “ … we may with some probability infer that [the Celts] reckoned their year from Hallowe’en rather than Beltane.”

By the 1950s, this inaccuracy was considered fact, as pointed out in T.G.E. Powell’s The Celts (1958). 

Jon Bonsing of Caer Australis however has not only queried Sir John’s assertion but also attempts to correct it by pointing out that was no indication whatsoever of Caesar stating that the Celts considered “that winter, death and darkness took any precedence over summer, life or light” as Sir John talked about in his “Hibbert Lectures”.

Caer Australis further indicate that there is a considerable amount of evidence to suggest that Bealtaine was actually considered to be the start of the Celtic year, at least within the Irish tradition.  It was on the eve of Bealtaine that the Tuatha de Danaan arrived on Irish shores, as well as being the time when the great gathering of chiefs occurred at Uisneach, Co. Westmeath.  In 405 CE, during the reign of Dathi, conflict arose between the Pagan Irish and the Christians, resulting in St Patrick lighting his famous Paschal fire at Slane just prior to the lighting of the sacred Bealtaine fires.

Various Celtic heroes were believed to have been born around Bealtaine, providing further evidence of the importance of this festival, and in particular that of the “divine son”.  For example, within the Mabinogian, an entire episode is devoted to the birth of Gwri Golden Hair at Calan Mai (the first day of summer).  Caer Australis indicate that this epithet for Pwyll was given “ … because ‘what hair was on his head was as yellow as gold’.  No wonder his hair is ‘golden’, for no other imagery would be appropriate for the symbolic birth of the sun.”

If that is not evidence enough to at least query the assumption of any historical evidence of Samhain being the Celtic New Year, within the mythos contained within contemporary witchcraft relating to the sabbats do not allow for this. The sabbats, as I explained in Dancing the Sacred Wheel, follow the journey of the God. It is at Samhain when the God descends into the Underworld take up his guise as the Dreaded Lord of the Shadows at Samhain. As his rebirth occurs at the winter solstice coinciding with the renewal of the solar cycle, it makes more sense for the winter solstice to be considered the “new year”.

Weathering the Storm – A Free ebook for Uncertain Times

If this year is really straining your inner reserves, then Weathering the Storm may be just what you need. This free ebook has been complied by a collective of authors (including yours truly) as well as the publishing team behind Moon Books as a “compendium of hope”.

Written in three parts, psychological, spiritual and practical, this unique anthology offers support for anyone interested in Mind, Body Spirit matters, alternative lifestyles and spiritualities, as well as those with a Pagan focus.

Weathering the Storm covers areas from loneliness and anxiety, self-care and gardening, to cooking and crystals. My own contribution, “Bobbing in the Sea of Uncertainty”, is a recount of an extremely sole changing experience that left me feeling as if I was in the deepest pit of disappear, and the lessons gained from that experience.

Described as “A treasure-trove of advice and inspiration for all of us living through difficult times”, Weathering the Storm is available as a free ebook through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, and for £0.99 on Amazon UK.

What is the Shadow? (Debbie Ford)

According to Debbie Ford (best-selling author of The Dark Side of the Light Chasers and The Secret of the Shadow), the shadow contains all the parts of ourselves that we try to hide, deny or suppress.  It is the keeper of all the aspects of ourselves that we dislike and the qualities that we judge as unacceptable.  The shadow wears many faces: angry, critical, fearful, lazy, controlling, selfish, weak, pathetic.  These are the faces we do not want to show the world and the faces we do not want to show ourselves.  

Most of us expend huge amounts of energy trying to get rid of or control these unwanted aspects of ourselves.  We hope that by hiding or fixing our “bad qualities” we will have the peace, success and happiness we desire.  Most of us are convinced that we are flawed and inadequate so we become masters of disguise, and go to great lengths to hide our bad qualities from those around us – even from ourselves.

The result of turning our backs on our dark side?  A life that slips by only half lived.  Dreams that are never realized, or worse, that lay buried under years of resignation and shame.  

Until we make peace with our shadow we will continue to be at war with ourselves and our outer world will mirror our inner struggle.  What we resist persists – and we will create and attract from others that which we most dislike in ourselves.  Until we feel authentic compassion for each and every aspect of ourselves, we will continue to draw forth people and events that will mirror the negative feelings we have about ourselves.  Until we take back our power and forgive ourselves for being human we will attract people who push our buttons and reactivate our emotional wounds.  And until we find the courage to love ourselves completely, we will never truly be able to experience the love from those around us.  

We do not need to guess how we really feel about ourselves at the deepest level, all we have to do is look at how the outer world treats us.

If we are not getting the respect, love and appreciation we desire from the outer world, it is more than likely we are not giving these things to ourselves.  This is the benevolence of the universe in action.  The whole world is a mirror of our own consciousness, and when we make peace with the disowned aspects of ourselves, we make peace with the world.

Registrations are currently open for the online month long sadhana (spiritual journey) that I will be hosting that incorporates exploring the shadow under the guidance of the Dark Goddess. Starting on Saturday, 6 June 2020 (just after the full moon) and concluding just before the following full moon on 4 July 2020 the Encountering the Dark Goddess sadhana journey is specifically designed to take participants into the realm of a chosen “darker” aspect of the divine feminine to explore the various aspects of their own shadow self in order to commence positive change at the deepest level.

Throughout the month long journey you will be provided with detailed information about the various Dark Goddesses, instructions as to how to set up altars and undertake daily devotional work, suitable prayers and a list of offerings for your chosen goddess, weekly emails containing metaphysical and psychoanalytic concepts regarding working with the Dark Goddess and the “Shadow Self”, group rituals and much more.

If the Encountering the Dark Goddess sadhana journey is something that calls to you, ensure that your register prior to Saturday, 6 June 2020. Details as to how you can do that are found here.

In my forthcoming book, Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realms, I share how to utilise the mythologies of specific Goddess whose very nature is about change, destruction, mask removal and much more, in ways designed to accept our own shadow.

Whether you seek healing from past trauma, release from fears or acceptance of the “unacceptable” aspects of your self through the power of meditation, ritual or inner journeying, Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realms offers itself up as a guide to assist you to embrace the ever changing aspects of life.

From my own personal experience (of which I share in this book) I am of the belief that when we connect the Dark Goddess, we are able to find the light within the darkness and our lives are enriched through the integration of all aspects of our soul as a perfect whole.

Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realms is being published by John Hunt Publishing and should be available for pre-order from mid-June 2020 through Amazon US, Amazon UK, Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones and the like, with ebook pre-orders appearing a month or so before its physical release in 26 March 2021.

Exploring the Concept of Deity

The June Gathering Around the Cauldron will once again take place in the form of a discussion that will be live streamed on the Temple of the Dark Moon‘s Facebook page. This month we will be looking at the concept of deity as it appears within contemporary witchcraft, and in respect to the perception held by the Temple.

In my forthcoming book, Contemporary Witchcraft: Foundational Practices for a Magical Life, I explain how the belief in deity is central to contemporary witchcraft. is the belief in deity. 

What sets contemporary witchcraft apart from some other forms of witchcraft is that we believe our gods to be real. They go beyond the concept of “archetypes” and often manifest as entities in their own right.  It is believed that all historical deities are facets of the divine in that they each represent someone’s understanding of divinity, and all are valid in their own way. 

The June Gathering Around the Cauldron will be taking place from 7pm ACST on Thursday, 4 June 2020. If you have any specific questions that you would like be to discuss, these can be left on the Facebook events page.

Southern Samhain and the Halloween Witch

As the Wheel of the Year turns, 30 April marks the time of Samhain here in the Southern Hemisphere, the time of the year when we gather together to remember our ancestors of both kith and kin. What is probably the most sombre of all the seasonal observances, the Southern Samhain falls just after ANZAC Day, the day on which Australia and New Zealand pause to remember those who have given their lives in the many global conflicts.

A number of years ago, the Broadway musical, “Wicked” is in town around the Southern Samhain, complete with all the stereotypes of what witches are often depicted as looking like. As such I thought it might be timing to share a poem that I initially came across about 10 years ago, The Halloween Witch by “Angel”.

Each year they parade her about,
the traditional Halloween Witch.
Misshapen green face, stringy scraps of hair,
a toothless mouth beneath her deformed nose.
Gnarled knobby fingers twisted into a claw’
protracting from a bent and twisted torso
that lurches about on wobbly legs.

Most think this abject image
to be the creation of a prejudiced mind
or merely a Halloween caricature.
I disagree,
I believe this to be how Witches were really seen.

Consider that most Witches:
were women,
were abducted in the night,
and smuggled into dungeons or prisons under the
secrecy of darkness
to be presented by light of day
as a confessed Witch.

Few if any saw a frightened normal looking woman
being dragged into a secret room filled with
instruments of torture,
to be questioned until she confessed to anything
suggested to her
and to give names or what ever would stop the
questions.
Crowds saw the aberration denounced to the world
as a self-proclaimed Witch.
As the Witch was paraded through town
en route to be burned, hanged, drowned, stoned
or disposed of in various other forms of Christian love
all created to free and save her soul from her depraved body

the jeering crowds viewed the results of hours of torture.
The face bruised and broken by countless blows
bore a hue of sickly green.
The once warm and loving smile gone
replaced by a grimace of broken teeth and torn gums
that leers beneath a battered disfigured nose.
The disheveled hair conceals
bleeding gaps of torn scalp from whence
cruel hands had torn away the lovely tresses.
Broken twisted hands clutched the wagon for support,
fractured fingers with nails torn away
locked like groping claws to steady her broken body.
All semblance of humanity gone
this was truly a demon,
a bride of Satan,
a Witch.

I revere this Halloween Crone
and hold her sacred above all.
I honor her courage and listen to her warnings of the
dark side of man.
Each year I shed tears of respect
when the mundane exhibit their symbol of Christian
love.

The Power of Language

Having worked over 60 hours for the last couple of weeks, I find myself with the rarity of having a free weekend, resulting in finally catching up with emails, blog postings and other outstanding projections, including finalising the upcoming Encountering the Dark Goddess month long “sadhana” (spiritual journey) that will be commencing on 6 June 2020.

One of the blog posting that took interest was John Beckett’s The Power of Language and the Dangers of its Misuse. To know what you are doing (which includes the use of language) is one of the four powers of the sphinx which are taught within the Temple of the Dark Moon’s Outer Court training. As Beckett points out in his blog, “there is power in ritual language”, yet increasingly people often mistake what may be foreign to them as being “inherently deep and meaningful” without thinking about what they’re doing.

From a devotional perspective, there tends to be a difference in opinion as to whether you should communicate with deity in their cultural language, ie addressing prayers to Greek Gods in Greek, or mantras to Hindu deities in Sanskrit. While this maybe possible in some cases, as language is a human invention as a means of communication, many have evolved over time so would a devotee address Demeter, Hermes or Zeus in ancient or modern Greek? Surely being divine beings, deity (in whatever guise we mortals attach to them), have the ability to transcend language. Beckett offers examples of his experience as an American devotee of the Celtic God Cernunnos in his aforementioned blog.

Probably one of the more important comments Beckett makes is the reminder that there IS POWER in ritual language, especially if you are using something that taps into the collective unconscious that has been built up since its initial use. For example, the Latin Mass or the Islamic Call to Prayer. At the end of the day, ritual language does not need to be foreign or archaic, but you should know what the words means and when spoken, that your intent is appropriate. If you are going to use non-English words in your rituals, then put some effort into pronouncing them correctly.

Within contemporary witchcraft there is one such chant that debate still ensues today as to its meaning, and that is what is often referred to as “The Bagabi Incantation”:

Bagahi laca bachahé,
Lamac cahi achabahé,

Karrelyos.
Lamac lamec bachalyos,
Cabahagi sabalyos,

Baryolas.
Lagozatha cabyolas,
Samahac et famyolas,

Harrahya.

In the 1970s Michael Harrison allegedly examined the etymology and concluded that the words derived from the old Basque language, and was in effect some kind of witch rallying cry to gather for the work of the slaughter and harvest before feasting. Harrison provided a possible English interpretation:

Kill (or the Feast) in November; kill!
I shall transport thee there myself,
and without the aid of a sieve,
to scour the plates and dishes with sand:
work (which must be done) with those plates and dishes.
(We shall meet our friends) ready for the drinking-cup
if they shall go (to the Feast), their bellies full with
quaffing from the drinking-cup.
O Sons (of the Master) with your Families (shout His praises with the cry)’.
‘HURRAHYA’!

More recently, Sorita d’Este and David Rankine concluded that the Bagabi incantation had no actual linguistic equivalent in any language, barbarous version in grimoires, or old magickal papyri, and as such, “considering the villain in the original tale of Theophilus is a Jewish Magician, it is possible that the Bagabi is in fact a corrupted Hebrew Chant.”

Alternatively, it may have originated from a 13th century French religious drama, Le Miracle de Théophile by the Trouvère Rutebeuf that “refers to the legendary history of St Theophilus of Adana, who according to traditional saints’ legends made a pact with the Devil and repented of it … This play is the original source of an influential invocation to the Devil (in an unknown language) … given to the character Salatin … labelled a sorcerer.” The words that Salatin used to invoke the devil are those of the Bagabi incantation.

For those contemporary witchcraft practitioners who have used the Bagabi incantation in their rites, experiences similar to the Thelemic concept of the Barbarous Names of Power have been recorded. Aleister Crowley advised that “the most potent conjurations are those in an ancient and perhaps forgotten language, or even those couched in a corrupt and possibly meaningless jargon.” When used in evocation, barbarous names serve the purpose of exalting the mind from the vulgar world through a release from rational, discursive thought. They are used as a mechanism for provoking ecstatic consciousness, and therefore further indicating the power that language has within magical ritual.

ANZAC Day – A National Day of Honouring Ancestors

The 25th April is a special day for Australia and New Zealand for this is ANZAC Day (an acronym standing to “Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), the day which marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by these two countries during the First World War.

When the First World War broke out in 1914, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula (Turkey), under a plan by British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill in order to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies.

They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
        (“For the Fallen” by  Laurence Binyon )

The ANZAC force landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish Army commanded by Mustafa Kernal (later known as Atatürk).  What had been planned as a bold strike to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties – some 21,255 British, soldiers, 10,000 French, 8,709 Australian, 2,721 New Zealanders, and 1,358 from India (which was under British rule at the time).
The date, 25th of April, was officially named ANZAC Day in 1916; in that year it was marked by a wide variety of ceremonies and services in Australia and New Zealand, a march through London, and a sports day for the Australian and New Zealand soldiers in Egypt.  The small New Zealand community of Tinui, near Masterton in the Wairarapa, North Island, was apparently the first place in New Zealand to have an ANZAC Day service, when the then vicar led an expedition to place a large wooden cross on the Tinui Taipos (370 metre high large hill/mountain, behind the village) in April 1916 to commemorate the dead. A service was held on 25 April of that year.

With the coming of the Second World War, ANZAC Day became a day on which to commemorate the lives of Australians and New Zealanders lost in that war as well and in subsequent years. The meaning of the day has been further broadened to include those killed in all the military operations in which the countries have been involved.

Erroneously perceived by some as a day that “glorifies” war, ANZAC Day actually represents the opposite – it is a time of remembrance and reflection that, like our ancestors, without the sacrifice of those men and women, our life today could very well be extremely different.  As with the commemorations that are held at Gallipoli are also marked by the Turkish people, ANZAC Day also offers an opportunity to extend the hand of friendship in due respect to those who once were our enemies in an attempt that the lessons from the past are finally learnt.

My great uncle Manuel Vieira, WW1 NZ Rifleman died at Ypres, Belgium in 1971, aged 22 years

For the contemporary witch, it is interesting to note that ANZAC Day falls just prior to the timing of Samhain here in the Southern Hemisphere that marks the gateway to winter and the darker months. Observance of this sabbat, especially within my own teachings and practice, focuses on our ancestors whether they be of direct lineage, magical and/or spiritual lineage, or who have simply influenced us along our journey.

It is a time of showing respect to those who have gone before for it is their influence (both negative and positive) that has shaped us into the person we are today. As we step into the space of inner contemplation, it is our responsibility as to how we will utilise that influence.

For the Fallen
(A poem by the English poet and writer Laurence Binyon and was published in London in the Winnowing Fan; Poems of the Great War in 1914. The verse, which became the League Ode was already used in association with commemoration services in Australia in 1921)

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children
England mourns for her dead across the sea,
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow,
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again,
They sit no more at familiar tables of home,
They have no lot in our labour of the daytime,
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires and hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the night.

As the stars shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are stary in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

The Dark Goddess is Coming

Last week I received the email from my publisher that all authors hang out to receive, the one that contained details as to when their book will actually be published and available. The date scheduled for the release of Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realms is 26 March 2021. While this date seems to be half a lifetime away (some 11 months) apparently that is normal within the publishing world as it gives a lot of the behind the scenes things to be put into process, ie having the book listed in various trade magazines, in order to maximize long-term success of the book.

From the end of June, Encountering the Dark Goddess should appear on the John Hunt Publishing webpage as well as appearing for pre-order through Amazon US, Amazon UK, Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones and the like, with ebook pre-orders appearing a month or so before publication (ie, early in the new year).

“The author presents the reader with a dark gift – a treasure in a sense
– but one not to be accepted lightly. My sense is that once opened,
it will never go back into the box.”
(Jimahl diFiosa, author of A Voice in the Forest, All the King’s Children
and A Coin for the Ferryman)

Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realm

The Dark Goddess is often associated with the Underworld where she leads the uninitiated through a transformative journey of self-discovery, change and soul renewal.  She is connected with the unwanted, the forgotten, the ignored or even ashamed parts of our psyche.  However there is more to her than that. 

Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realms guides you through what this challenging facet of the Divine Feminine, the Dark Goddess, is truly about, and encourages you to step through the veils into her hidden realm to explore 13 aspects of herself.

Whether you seek healing from past trauma, release from fears or acceptance of the “unacceptable” aspects of your self, Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realms offers ways for you to transform and heal your life through the power of meditation, ritual and inner journeying with the Dark Goddess into her shadowy realms.  Use the 13 goddess myths as a guide to discover how to remove the stagnant and unwanted and embrace the ever changing aspects of life that can drag us into the pits of despair.

When we connect the Dark Goddess, we are able to find the light within the darkness and our lives are enriched through the integration of all aspects of our soul as a perfect whole.