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

Living in a World Without Magic (Amy Hoffman)

When the world lost its magic and became too cold and serious.

As the energy of the April full moon begins to wane, I begin to turn my attention to the next intake of The Wytch’s Circle that will commence on Thursday, 23 May 2019. Unlike previous years the notes for this intake of students will come in the format of a 158 paged book of the same name. Somewhere along the line I came across the following essay, “Living in a World without Magic” by Amy Hoffman. Instead, it can appear that as we grow older, the “magick” of our world tends to diminish. Things that we once stood in awe as a child no longer hold such wonder and fascination as our conscious mind and life’s reality explains things away …. or maybe not.

I, for one, believe in magick, “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will” as magician Aleister Crowley described it. As an adult, I still find awe and wonder in the world around me, believe in the realms that exist alongside our physical reality, and have even experienced the power of the mighty gods that my distant ancestors revered.

But I also agree with Amy, that somewhere along the road that we call life, we, as a human race, have let the magic die. And in doing so, we have failed. So, I will let Amy take it from here.


“We failed ourselves, and we failed future generations. We made babies grow up too fast and become mini adults because there was nothing left to keep them young. Now we live in a world that is cold and dark and lacking in the magic that once upon a time kept us young and happy.

“Look to the past. Not really the recent past, further back than that, before your grandmothers and into a darker age of time where mobile telephones were not even a thought. Heck, telephones were not even a thought yet. Yes, they were simpler times, but they were times when people still believed. Believed in what? Everything. And it depended on where in the world you were as to what you believed in.

Think about it. Think how many different gods and goddesses different cultures have believed in throughout the years. And how about all the tall tales, and folklore and myths and legends that were passed down through generations and used to teach children lessons, and to explain how things worked in simple ways that children understood.

“Children could laugh and skip through life, believing that elves came out at night to cobble their shoes, instead of facing the harsh reality that the poor cobbler worked until his hands bled to make a pathetic amount of money to keep from starving.

“Today’s children get the truth. The cold, hard, unloving truth. There is no fairies left in the world to believe in, except maybe the Tooth Fairy, who let me tell you, inflation has left me a little peeved at her these days.

“But in all seriousness, when kids want to know what or why something is how it is now, we do not give them a beautifully crafted tale of mystery and wonder that leaves their little eyes glimmering with hope and intrigue and their little hearts pounding with excitement.

“We hand them a computer and show them a YouTube video. Here you go kid, you wanted to know why there are rainbows? Watch this, it will tell you exactly how the light refracts and shines through the raindrops and makes the rainbow. What’s wrong? You were hoping for leprechauns and pots of gold? Not in this world.

“And so there you have it. Everyone asks what’s wrong with today’s youth. There it is. The magic is gone. We stopped letting them believe in it while we rushed around in our busy, mundane lives and we stopped having time for fairies and gnomes.

“We stopped telling these tales and myths to them and they stopped caring. We showed them a world that could be explained by science and their tender little hearts grew cold. The twinkle in their eyes dimmed and they started growing up too fast. Sure, we’ve kept the basics, Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and maybe a few other big wigs were spared, but the rest we forgot.

“We stopped telling them to gaze up into the stars on a clear night and look for the man in the moon, or in the case of my childhood, my Japanese grandmother showed me the rabbit with his wooden mallet, pounding the rice into mochi.

“And by god I believed it. I would look up at that big glowing orb and smile when I could make out the shape of the rabbit. We stopped explaining rainbows with leprechauns and we stopped telling them that gremlins and fairies stole missing items.

“We failed them and then we started to wonder why they had no imagination and why they needed an electronic device to entertain them instead of their own minds. The answer was because of us. Because we stopped giving them things to believe in and to imagine.

“I know that they do grow up. It happens to the best of us sadly. But the magic doesn’t need to die, we can take five minutes and set down our phones and tell them stories about fairies and trolls. We can teach them silly little habits, like leaving an offering in a ring of toadstools for the fairies.

“Why? Because it gets them outside, it gets them to observe nature and see the beauty of the world around them. It gives you an opportunity to explain some heavy stuff or really confusing stuff to them without either confusing them further, or giving them information that their little minds shouldn’t really have to process. Bring back the myths, and the legends, bring back the fables.

“Let them live in their imagined worlds a little longer before they have to face the cold world that we have to brave. Let them battle some dragons and evil spirits and hope that the elves bring back their missing socks for just a little longer, and maybe, just maybe you will find that your world feels just a little more magical too. “

Source:
“Living in a World without Magic” by Amy Hoffman

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.

Experiencing the Power of Ritual and Magick

Every couple of years the Temple of the Dark Moon runs a training circle (in various forms) and commencing on 21 February 2019, The Wytch’s Circle will be held over six Thursday 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.   Beginners to ritual magick are welcome to attend however the design of this course is that it is not a 101 course. Beginners are encouraged to thoroughly read the weekly notes as well as raise queries.

Through the exposure of various magickal and esoteric techniques, the emphasis will be on working ritual and magick within a group format in order to create a magickal egregore that will enable each participant to tap into the true concept of “walking between the worlds”.  

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.

Dark Moons and New Moons

dark_moon

There is often confusion between “Dark Moon” and “New Moon”, with the phrases often being used interchangeably, even on calendars. Yet, as each moon has its own unique energies, understanding the lunar cycle properly can be crucial to the timing of ritual work that focuses on drawing upon those energetic qualities.

Training in Contemporary Wytchcraft and the Magickal Arts

Often I am asked about the training structure within the Temple of the Dark Moon.  So, as applications are currently being considered for the 2019 Outer Court intake, it seems an appropriate time to briefly talk about this.

All training that occurs within the Temple of the Dark Moon is undertaken depending on time constraints and possible vacancies within the Temple’s two circles – these being the Inner Court (a closed circle consisting of dedicants and initiates only) as well as the Outer Court (consisting of students undertaking training with the overall view of gaining access into the Inner Court).

Continue reading “Training in Contemporary Wytchcraft and the Magickal Arts”

Putting things into Practice

Being an avid reader, it is not unusual for me to have not only a number of books on the go at any one time, but also books on various subjects, especially the numerous techniques and/or magickal practices.  One book I read a number of years ago which I thoroughly enjoyed was Abrahadabra: Understanding Aleister’s Thelemic Magick by Rodney Orpheus (Weiser Books, 2005).  A strange choice for someone proclaiming to following contemporary wytchcraft some may say.  However, within it, I came across a passage that, while I have adapted it to having a more witchcraft focus in the posting below, even in its original format within Orpheus’s book, it provides much food for thought regardless of what spiritual path you may follow …

“One of the keys to contemporary witchcraft is personal development. This means you have to do the work yourself. Simply reading books and/or web sites is not good enough. While this may increase your theoretical knowledge (or then again may totally confuse you further), unless you do it, you are wasting your time. Knowledge is not the same thing as understanding.”

Continue reading “Putting things into Practice”

Outer Court Applications Now Open

Applications are now open for the Temple of the Dark Moon‘s Outer Court Training Circle.  This will be the first Outer Court Training Circle that we have held in about four years.  As such places are limited as the end goal for potential neophytes is entry into the Temple’s Inner Court via dedication and initiation (for those suitable).

Desirable applicants would be those who have already undergone some degree of training and study with us, in particular through the Gathering around the Cauldron and The Wytch’s Circle, and as a result of this initial training, have determined that contemporary witchcraft is something they resonate with and which they would like to study and explore more deeply.  Consideration will also be given to those who may have been working as a solitary or as part of another group, and who would like to become a member of the Temple of the Dark Moon.

Prior to contacting our High Priestess to advise her of your desire, we ask all potential neophytes to consider their own desires when it comes to walking a spiritual path that is imbued with magick.  After all, regardless of whether we are a coven member or solitary, an initiate or not, every of us is ultimately responsible for our own spiritual growth and development.  While it may be fun to belong to a group, in order for such membership to be of mutual beneficial for all concerned, we ask that the following questions be considered:

  • What am I interested in at this stage? Is it exploration into the deeper mysteries that esoteric training may provide; religious, spiritual or even paranormal experiences; a better understanding of myself; fellowship with likeminded people; belonging to a group?
  • Is the Temple of the Dark Moon the right group for me?  Do I agree with their philosophies (available on the web page), their teaching methods?  Do I feel comfortable with the High Priestess, and the other people I have met through the Temple of the Dark Moon?
  • Why do I want to join the Temple’s Outer Court?  Am I interested in a more traditional approach to contemporary wytchcraft as opposed to mainstream Wicca, Druidry, Paganism in general?
  • Am I honestly able to make time available for the personal study and training that is involved during the Temple of the Dark Moon’s Outer Court Training Circle?

Having given the above consideration, if you wish to apply for one of the limited places within the Outer Court Training Circle then you are invited to contact the Temple of the Dark Moon by emailing our High Priestess.  As preference is given to previous attendees, those successful will be provided with an application form setting out the requirements for the Outer Court Training Circle.  It is important that these requirements are read thoroughly as applications for the training circle will close Saturday, 15 December 2018.

For anyone interested in commencing their training with the Temple of the Dark Moon, we will be holding an extended version of The Wytch’s Circle, that will commence on Thursday, 21 February 2019 and will be held on a fortnightly basis for a total of six sessions.  As places are strictly limited we have made available a payment plan option.