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This is the Blog for Melusine Draco, esoteric author (fact and fiction) and spiritual teacher; dog person and countrywoman; writer and creative writing tutor.  Hopefully, it will make life a lot easier in keeping in touch on social media about work in progress, new titles and books off the back-list.  These are my mountains, my streams and this is my glen … Welsh photographs by Polly Langford

“Mélusine Draco, as her name suggests, has long been plugged into the powerful currents of traditional witchcraft and ritual magic. She is one of the real ones. Her provocative series of Tradition Witchcraft will show you how to move between the inner and outer worlds. Follow along behind her if you dare …” Alan Richardson, author of numerous esoteric titles including Priestess and The Old Sod, biographies of Dion Fortune and W G Gray.

New Release: The Calendar of Ancient Egypt

The Egyptian Book of Days provides an insight into both the religious and everyday aspects of ancient Egyptian life. It also introduces the seeker to genuine religious texts (in the form of prayers or invocations, including prayer times), and offers a general overview of Egyptian belief that makes it possible to see a living, breathing people – not just exhibits in a museum.

For the ancient Egyptians every day was considered to have some magical significance, which caused it to be good, bad, or partly good and partly bad and this calendar was compiled for purposes of religious observance. By consulting the lists of lucky and unlucky days, each individual could protect himself and his family against the danger of the day.

This new 200-page edition of the Calendar has been extended to include mini-biographies of the deities whose feast-days are being celebrated on each particular day, details of ritual offerings, holy places and sacred sites – not to mention the gossip and harem scandals that were recorded on ostraca – fragments of pottery shards – that were scattered the length and breadth of Egypt.

The Egyptian Books of Days has been compiled from the Greek and Demotic Magical Papyri lodged in the British Museum; the Bibliothéque Nationale in Paris; the Staatliche Museum in Berlin; the Rijksmuseum in Leiden; and the Sallier Papyrus IV (No.10184); The Cairo Calendar (No.86637) currently lodged in the British and Cairo Museums and the Temple Festival Calendars of Ancient Egypt by Sherif el-Sabban.

https://www.feedaread.com/books/The-Calendar-of-Ancient-Egypt.aspx

Halloween

We’re coming up to Hallowe’en and all sort of daft imagery is appearing in the shops, supermarkets and on television … For Old Crafters, however, we follow the Old Calendar and for us this sacred time is observed on Old Samhain Eve on the 10th November.    Traditionally Hallowe’en marked the beginning of the ancient Yule rites as this extract from ‘Old Year, Old Calendar, Old Ways’ explains:

31st [OS] Samhain. John Stow in his Survey of London (1603), gives a description of the appointment of the Lord of Misrule: ‘These Lordes beginning their rule on Alhollon Eu  [Halloween], continued the same till the morrow after the Feast of the Purification, commonlie called Candlemas day: In all which space there were fine and subtle disguisinges, Maskes and Mummeries, with playing at Cardes for Counters, Nayles and pointes in euery house, more for pastimes then for gaine.’

 The Lord of Misrule: The historian John Stow wrote: “At the feast of Christmas, in the king’s court, there was always appointed on All-Hallows Eve, a master of mirth and fun, who remained in office till the Feast of Purification [Candlemas]. A similar ‘lord’ was appointed by the lord mayor of London, the sheriffs and the chief nobility. Stubbs tells us that the mock dignitaries, had from twenty to sixty officers under them, and were furnished with hobby-horses, dragons and musicians. They went first to church with such a confused noise that no one could hear his own voice. The Lord of Misrule (called in Scotland ‘Abbot of Unreason’ and L’abbe de Liesse (jollity) in France), was prohibited in 1555.” [The Dictionary of Phrase & Fable]

 31st [NS] Hallowe’en according to the Church calendar was the time when ghosts roamed abroad and is a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed. It is widely believed that many Halloween traditions originated from Celtic harvest festivals with pagan roots, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain, and that this festival was much later Christianised as Halloween. According to Robin Skelton in Earth, Air, Fire, Water the following is one of the many rhymes collected together under the title of ‘Mother Goose’, which are taken from several sources including Halliwell, Chambers, Sharp and Hazlitt. Today: Join in the modern revels or sit at home with the candles burning to welcome in any passing spirits. An ideal opportunity for divining the future

31st [OS] Teanlay Night: The vigil of All Souls, or the last evening of October, when bonfires were lighted and revels held for succouring souls in purgatory. Today: Light the candles or the patio heater and keep Vigil.

1st [NS] Hallowmas (All Saints’ Day) commemorates the faithful departed. In many traditions, All Saints’ Day is part of the triduum of All-hallowtide, which lasts three days from 31st October to 2nd November inclusive. Today: A time for remembering the dead.

2nd [OS] Day of the Dead – the day in the Celtic year when the Festival of the Dead took place. It was once the custom to leave doors open and food on the table to nourish the souls of recently departed family members. Today: In traditional witchcraft this might also involve holding a Dumb Supper, either today or more appropriately at Old Samhain.

 10th [OS] Old Samhain Eve, Lá Samhna, Calan Gaeof. This is the winter season that traditionally runs from is about halfway between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Imbolc, Beltaine and Lughnasadh. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Similar festivals are held at the same time of year in other Celtic lands; for example the Brythonic Calan Gaeaf (in Wales), Kalan Gwav (in Cornwall), and Kalan Goañv (in Brittany). Tonight: Hold the traditional observance for Samhain.

Old Samhain: The Festival is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain. It was the time when cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and when livestock were slaughtered for the winter. As at Beltaine, special bonfires were lit, which were deemed to have protective and cleansing powers and there were rituals involving them. Like Beltaine, Samhain was also seen as a liminal time, when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld could more easily be crossed. This meant the Aos Sí, the ‘spirits’, could more easily come into this world. Most scholars see the Aos Sí as remnants of the pagan gods and nature spirits and at Samhain, it was believed that the Aos Sí needed to be propitiated to ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter. Offerings of food and drink were left outside for them. The souls of the dead were also thought to revisit their homes seeking hospitality. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them at a Dumb Supper. [Britannica]

11th [NS] Better known since 1918 as Armistice Day, it is the time to remember the war dead and the Ancestors on Old Samhain. Today: Wear your poppy with pride.

Extract from Old Year, Old Calendar, Old Ways published by Ignotus Press UK and available direct from the printer, FeedARead, or from Amazon in paperback or e-book format.  https://www.feedaread.com/books/Old-Year-Old-Calendar-Old-Ways-9781788762052.aspx

 

Christmas is coming …

HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE (PAGAN) CHRISTMAS
I was sitting there on the sun lounger under an umbrella during the heat-wave and reading an article by one of the Sunday Independent’s columnist on the subject of all things – Christmas! “The festive season is on my mind,” wrote John Masterson, “because my plans are made … I will be visiting a part of it that I love, with people I love …” and these are sentiments I expressed when compiling Have A Cool Yule in answer to all those complaints that folk make about what should be the most sacred time of the pagan year.

To implement the suggestions made in Have A Cool Yule: How to Survive (and Enjoy) the Mid-Winter Festival it takes a lot of advance planning in order to make the festivities a success.  Why not invest in a copy now and circumnavigate many of the problems caused by leaving things to the last moment, especially when it comes to avoiding causing offence with family and friends. It’s easier to announce there will be changes to your plans for Yule during the summer-autumn months, rather than waiting until Christmas decorations are appearing in the shops. “Make your plans now.  Decide who you want to be with and where you want to be.  Do not make any allowances for toxic people because of the time of the year.  Plan ahead …” concluded John Masterson is his article …

And if, a few months further down the line, you find yourself in the same old rut and bemoaning the fact that you hate Christmas, you’ve only got yourself to blame.

What people are saying about it:

As per usual and in great style, Mélusine Draco presents a wealth of information about this historically proven pagan festival. Whichever way the reader chooses to celebrate…whether it’s a traditional family Christmas or a traditional Yule in the company of pagan friends or as a solitary – there is something for everyone. From a complete festival calendar with some simple rites and symbolism, to carol lyrics, recipes, gift ideas and feasting to the ‘art of using up’ and festive games; everything Yuletide is covered. And with generous doses of light-hearted good cheer and a sprinkling of dark humour, the author strikes a balance that is both useful, informative and entertaining. A charming little book.” Sheena Cundy, Witch Lit author The Madness and the Magic

“This certainly makes a cool yule for me! So much information, such fun too. It puts a whole new slant on our perhaps limited ideas of yuletide.  …turns all preconceptions upside-down. Do read, you’ll enjoy.” Elen Sentier, author of Merlin: The Once and Future WizardElen of the Ways and The Celtic Chakras.

 “Have a Cool Yule is a lovely guide on how to truly enjoy the festive season in the depths of winter, whether you call it Christmas, the Winter Solstice, Yule or any other name. In the pages of this book you will find time-honoured traditions, recipes and sensible advice on how to avoid the worst of the commercialism and make the occasion what you want it to be.” Lucya Starza, author of Pagan Portals – Candle Magic

Pagan Portals: Have A Cool Yule – How ro Survive (and Enjoy) the Mid-Winter Festival is published by Moon Books (www.moon-books.net) and available from Amazon in both paperback and e-book format.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

The Secret People

This was a book I really enjoyed writing because it was an autobiographical journey down memory lane and a step back in time; it is that ‘other country’ of the past where parish-pump witches, wise women and cunning folk still travel the highways and byways of a bygone era. Their voices can still be heard in the recipes and remedies handed down via an oral tradition, and now giving new knowledge to the next generation of pagans. It was a world where men went out with a ferret in a box and a long-net, accompanied by a silent long dog for a companion under a ‘poacher’s moon’.

From ‘owl-light’ until dawn these people walked silently in the woods and along the hedgerows, watching and waiting to collect Nature’s bounty to be used for the benefit of themselves and their neighbours. From them came the introduction to spells and charms, divination and fortune-telling; the language of birds and the movement of animals – all grist for the witch’s mill. Mysterious horsemen might share secrets of horseshoe nails and thunder-water; while countrymen lived by weather, the seedtime and the harvest.  It was a world I grew up in … but it was breathing its last.

Few of The Secret People could be called traditional witches by any stretch of the imagination, and many would have been mortally offended to be referred to as a ‘witch’ or ‘pagan’. Few parish-pump witches would have thought about the skills they possessed since these were natural abilities, and even fewer wise women and cunning folk would have had any concept of the sombre and often dangerous rituals required for the raising of energy needed in the practice of true witchcraft. Theirs was a knowledge that filtered down in the form of spells, domestic plant medicine and country lore, imparted to offspring, friends and neighbours, who in turn handed it down to their children … and so on down through the generations. In fact, in his Dialogue Concerning Witches & Witchcraft (1603) George Gifford observed that local wise women ‘doth more good in one year than all these scripture men will do so long as they live’.

Most, however, would live by the Church calendar, inveigling saints to add potency to their healing spells, or to guide a hand in locating missing property; with many of the protective charms being aimed at deflecting malevolent witchcraft or ill-wishing! Most old ladies in the parish seemed to have a wide repertoire of fortune-telling tricks to amuse young girls looking for a husband, not to mention the applied psychology of already knowing their neighbours’ business, which made divination with playing cards and tea-leaves a push-over, and even up until recent years the village fete always had a fortune-telling tent. And since the early Church calendar had been formed around the agricultural year, the menfolk of the village had no problem with presenting themselves, their animals, and produce from the harvest for blessing.

 The Secret People would have greatly outnumbered the practitioners of traditional witchcraft since the practical abilities that define a true witch are bred in the bone and not everyone can lay claim to the lineage. The skills of The Secret People can, however, be learned and perfected with practice and for those who struggle to find a label with which to empathise, it is hoped the lessons taught here will help the reader to establish some sort of identity that sits comfortably with them.

Today, under the ubiquitous umbrella of paganism, the parish-pump witch runs the occult shop in the high street, the wise woman dispenses Reiki healing and the cunning man has become a professional tarot reader. The countryman’s world has disappeared under a sprawl of urban housing and ring roads, while the poacher has yielded his domain to the brutal gangs who slaughter wildlife on a commercial scale – even the poacher’s dog, the lurcher, has found his niche in the ‘fly-ball’ event at Crufts!

And yet…the knowledge of The Secret People is still there for the learning, if only we know how to search for it and rediscover our identity.  I’m glad I was privileged to have lived through those last declining years and to be able to witness first-hand what I now attempt to preserve for posterity.

 

Published by Moon Books at http://www.moon-books.net

ISBN 978 1 78535 444 1 : 225pp : Price UK£13.99/US$22.95

Book News

What people are saying about
Western Animism: Zen & the Art of Positive Paganism
Mélusine Draco’s book takes us back to basics: it explains
clearly the fundamentals of Zen and how Zen “Ki” can also be
identified with Old Craft “Witch-power”. As an old crafter I
found the comparison fascinating and also useful. This book has
broadened my approach to Craft and has given ideas to try in
practice.
Julie Dexter, Dame of Coven of the Scales

I can’t think of another writer today who is more unusual or
more inspired than Mélusine Draco. I had assumed that, by now,
books on Zen were using their one-handed clapping to flog dead
horses along roads to nowhere. Yet her take on Zen is completely
unexpected and totally original. I don’t think she has ever failed
to surprise and often startle me in her previous books. This one
is no different …
Alan Richardson, esoteric author

Excellent book on Zen, very readable and engaging. Mélusine
Draco’s father was a martial arts instructor so she grew up with
this ancient form of animism-shamanism, and she’s well able to
relate it across to other traditions. We all come from the same
human and spirit roots! This is going to be one of my “go to”
books, every time I need a bit of inspiration and to reconnect
across the traditions of our Earth.
Elen Sentier, shaman, author and storyteller

In production with Moon Books and due early 2019

Coven Cafe Culture

Back in the 1980s Bob and Meriem Clay-Egerton held regular Sunday morning meetings in a local coffee shop in Newcastle for the benefit of non-Coven members who wanted to know more about witchcraft and magic – and didn’t know who to ask. In fact, many of their old friends have contacted us over the years and almost the first thing they mention are those magical Sunday mornings.

In keeping with Bob’s idea we have decided to open a Coven of the Scales ‘coffee shop’ on Facebook for the benefit of those pagans who need to ask questions about witchcraft and magic – but don’t know who to ask. After all, how can you teach yourself what you don’t know exists, and if you’re self-taught, who do you ask whether you’re doing it right?

Coven of the Scales is a traditional British Old Craft group and its members have years of experience of Craft, folk, practical and ritual magic techniques as well as all coming from different walks of life. This means there will always be those in the coffee shop from new members of CoS to Elders and Initiates who will be willing to answer your questions. It may be that you receive two conflicting responses but CoS has always been about encouraging magical discussion because that’s the only way to learn and progress … so … discuss … don’t be afraid to ask why?

All that Coven Café Culture demands of its members is good manners and being a closed group, we will dispose of anyone who isn’t willing to observed the basic courtesies when using the page. Neither do we want to give floor space to those massive egos who think the only way to discuss magical matters is to deliver a diatribe in highfaluting jargon that is incomprehensible to beginners. Any inappropriate or irrelevant posts will be automatically removed – so let’s keep it simple and sensible.

And remember – the only daft question is the one you didn’t ask.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/covenofthescales/?multi_permalinks=533495947070313&notif_id=1533811112020900&notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic