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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.

Contact: melusinedraco777@gmail.com

A Book-Worm’s Eye View of the Goddess

As I’ve said before, and no doubt I’ll say it again, writing about witchcraft is easy.  Finding the right theme isn’t.  Any fool can pass themselves off as a witch but finding an informative and entertaining approach for a new book is a whole different cauldron of knowledge.  Personally, I feel there should be a magical purpose behind any book on Craft – otherwise it’s all been said before – and usually better …

Because humankind has always had a tendency to see images of its gods in his own likeness, we have come to see pagan deities very much cast in 20th century form.  Ironically in giving ‘god-energy’ the outward form of the Celtic horned-god Cernunnos and ‘goddess-energy’ the cartoon image of a warrior-princess or a member of the pre-Raphaelite sisterhood, the true mystery of ancient witchcraft has been lost in favor of fantasy creations.  Just as Christianity promoted the Madonna as a popular image, so modern paganism often adopts a similar approach to the Mother-Goddess in order to give this new religion ‘people appeal’.

For the purposes of Old Craft technique, however, it is important to accept the energies associated with these archaic male-female aspects of magic and not transpose the concept of the loving, caring Great Mother Goddess of Wicca-Christianity into Old Craft working.  The female-goddess energy within Nature is just as ‘red in tooth and claw’ as male-god energy; both are equally as merciless as the other.  It is also important to understand that this energy (whether male or female) is neither malevolent nor benevolent, it is merely natural energy waiting to be harnessed for use in magic rites.

Old Craft, although not a religion, is a belief – a belief in one’s own abilities and in the ‘Power’ that fuels the universe; and a faith – faith in one’s self and in that ‘Power’. This is not generally seen as gender specific but in truth, Old Craft does lean towards the male aspect since the female remains veiled and a mystery.  In other words, the ‘God’ is the public face of traditional British Old Craft while the ‘Goddess’ remains in the shadows, revered and shielded by her protector.  Not because she is some shy and defenseless creature, but because face to face she would be too terrible to look upon!  Or as the scientist who discovered the deadly Marburg filovirus observed when he saw the virus particles: ‘They were white cobras tangled among themselves, like the hair of Medusa.  They were the face of Nature herself, the obscene goddess revealed naked … breathtakingly beautiful.’  The secrets of Old Craft comes from the understanding of these things …

We also accept that the physical worldly embodiment of the goddess – Mother Nature – is neither caring nor motherly and when she wants to cut up rough – she will, without a thought for anything, or anyone.   In the guise of ‘The Goddess’ she is usually seen as spending her days caring for her many children who inhabit and shape the landscape – often portrayed in trailing garments composed of lush plants, colorful flowers, and sinuous woody shapes. In most depictions she is meditative, embodying the spirit of the mythological ‘mother’ in Nature firmly entering the zeitgeist as a figure akin to a synergetic composite of Burne-Jones in the later stages of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, Guinevere of Arthurian romance, and Daenerys Stormborn from Game of Thrones – reflecting the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of the era.

Over previous decades, however, the archaeo-mythological work of Professor Marija Gimbutas was revealing a far more primal approach to discovering the persona of this ‘hidden’ goddess of Old Europe.  Not unexpectedly, her theories have been dismissed by many of her fellow archaeologists but like Carl Jung and Margaret Murray, whose work suffered similar professional scorn, there are elements that ‘speak’ to us on a more subliminal level. As writer Allen Bennett once observed it’s that moment in reading when you come across something … ‘a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.’ It was as if, in discovering the writings of Marija Gimbutas, the tectonic platese of archaeo-mythologica (Old Europe) and esoteria (Old Craft) collided – and made complete sense of the way we viewed this ‘hidden’ Primal Goddess within our own Tradition.

We also found ourselves asking, but where exactly was this ‘Old European’ culture located?  Between c7000 and c3500BC the inhabitants of this region developed a much more complex social organisation than their western and northern neighbours. In the Goddesses & Gods of Old Europe, this area is designated as extending from the Aegean and Adriatic, including the islands of Sicily and Crete, as far north as Czechoslovakia, southern Poland, the western Ukraine and parts of Anatolia.  Suggesting that the earliest possible representations are those prehistoric ‘Venus’ figurines found from Western Europe to Siberia – all sharing the same characteristics of pendulous breasts, sagging stomachs and buttocks; but more importantly the heads are small and featureless, i.e., without identity.

In reality, almost all Neolithic goddesses are composite images with an accumulation of traits from the pre-agricultural and agricultural eras. Those ‘buxom wenches’ with their massive thighs, breasts and buttocks that suggest a prehistoric society weaned on junk food, or suffering from a thyroid dysfunction were only one aspect of the goddess. In other sculptures of the time we see lithe, elegant figures of the Cycladic and Stargazer imagery, and the sinuous grace of the engraved rock ‘dancers’ from the cave of Addaura in Sicily.

Nevertheless, they all share a distinctive feature of a strong but featureless face: her image remains hidden because we are deliberately prevented from seeing the true face of this Primal Goddess.  A concept that was rejuvenated with the replacing of the sculpted face of Cybele with … ‘a certain [black meteorite] stone of no great size, which could be carried in a man’s hand without exerting any pressure on him, dusky black in colour, uneven with some edges projecting, and which we all see today placed in that very image in lieu of a face, rough and uncut, giving to the image a countenance by no means life-like …’ [Arnobius, c255-330AD]

In the Power of Images, Professor David Freedberg offers up the explanation that this sacred stone, like many others, was deliberately left unworked because it was in that state that its sacredness resided. ‘Shaping it would presumably have deprived it of its sacred content, or, at least diminished it; the only course left was to have it set in such a way as to emphasise or make plain its divine status.’   Even as late as Imperial Roman, when copies of Classic Greek beauty were demanded by the interior designers of the day, these enigmatic faceless matrons were still thought of as sacred.  ‘For 5th-century beholders that ‘face’ [of Demeter in the Museum at Cyrene] can hardly but have generated as association with the kinds of mysterious powers so often associated with unworked stones,’ Freedberg concluded.

And that feeling of ‘faceless’ wonder trickles down to the present day, causing the Curator at the Cleveland Museum of Art to comment: “All we can do is speculate on the creative and spiritual forces that created this beautiful and mystical figure that symbolises our search for the divine.” But because of the way we’ve been schooled in the art of witchcraft, Old Craft witches are more likely to ‘see’ their goddess figure in terms of the Stargazer; while contemporary paganism appears to favour the predominantly medievalist forms of Burne-Jones and Rossetti.

It is an inescapable fact that this ‘hidden’ Primal Goddess of Old Europe remains a tangible power that can be tapped into and channelled for magical, mystical and spiritual reasons. It is the elusive power that is released into us at the moment of Initiation when we come face to face with deity and we may look upon the face of the Primal Goddess for the first and last time.

Nevertheless, for Old Crafters the Primal Goddess remains a sigil and symbol, allegory and metaphor, and we learn how to follow her by respecting the world she has created. She is Creatrix, Death-Wielder and Regeneratrix – the eternal triple deity. And the reason we say she is too terrible to look upon is due to the realisation that in her eyes, our lives are worth no more than that of an ant or hover-fly. And, as and when we meet her face to face, it is with the understanding that she is not the benevolent Mother-figure of popular paganism; she is a disinterested but not dysfunctional being whom we approach with awe and reverence

 

Author biography:  Mélusine Draco is an Initiate of traditional British Old Craft and the Khemetic Mysteries.  Originally trained in Old Craft with Bob and Mériém Clay-Egerton’s Coven of the Scales, she has been a magical and spiritual instructor for over 20 years with both Coven of the Scales and the Temple of Khem, and writer of numerous popular books on the Egyptian Mysteries, traditional witchcraft and magical practice.

Pagan Portals: Seeking the Primal Goddessby Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books ISBN 978 1 78904 256 6 UK£6.99/US$10.95 and available in paperback and e-book format.

Article:

Old Craft for a New Generation

Mélusine Draco

I recently read a response on an application form for Coven of the Scales to the question “What do you understand by the term traditional British Old Craft?” The response was that “‘Witchcraft is whatever you want it to be?” It might if we are talking about eclectic paganism … but within Old Craft if there is no natural ability for communicating with the spirit world, divination, recognizing and reading the omens, healing, cursing and moving between the worlds, then there is no witch. Added to this, Old Craft is extremely selective when it comes to prospective members and will reject any who prove themselves unsuitable for the Path.

Magic – whether of the folk or ritual variety – does not conform to the whims and vagaries of contemporary fashion and, like science, it has its own laws and lore that must be adhered to if a successful outcome is required. As ritual magician David Conway warns in his The Complete Magic Primer, to go through the ritual motions with no clear idea of what they are all about is mere superstition, not magic.

In any case, a witch should expect more from his or her magic than mere signs and wonders. If these are all he is after, he would be better advised to take up conjuring, which is far less trouble. The real rewards of magical study are not temporal benefits but a spiritual maturity which affords a more profound understanding of the universe in which we live. The form of traditional witchcraft practiced by the Coven of Scales teaches that the basic tenet of belief, although not a religion, does have a highly defined spiritual element to its practice. Also that Old Craft is fundamentally animistic – the belief that every object, animate and inanimate, has its own life-force, or energy. Here there is no separation between the spiritual or physical world, where ‘spirit’ exists in all flora and fauna (including humans); geological features such as rocks, mountains, rivers and springs; and in natural phenomena such as storms, wind and the movement of heavenly bodies. It is the understanding that a small quartz pebble can link us with the cosmic Divine.

Those members of CoS who have successfully passed through the first portal are usually mature individuals who have seriously studied other paths and traditions but were not comfortable with the contemporary dogma and questionable sources. Because let’s make no bones about it, today’s pagan interpretation of witchcraft often belongs to a revivalist tradition and should not claim to be anything else. Nevertheless, the seasonal rituals and celebrations need to be as close as they can to the beliefs of our Ancestors without falling into the trap of lumping all the deities together in one ageless pantheon … and expecting the magic to work!

These simple tenets of faith need to be enshrined in our memory because they allow us to perceive the simplicity at the heart of creation.  Much of this may be seen as playing with semantics, but in truth, the god-forms themselves have changed greatly down through the millennia. It is only by studying myths, legends and folklore, and pulling all the strands together that we can appreciate just how much these have altered.

The spirits of the landscape that are the true focus of the ancestral beliefs of Old Craft have remained constant; they have not altered their form and have only grown more powerful with age. These well-springs of magical energy have not been contaminated because few have known of their existence – apart from the native shamanic practitioners [witches] who have kept the secret down through the ages. In more secluded spots, the spirit-energy of the ancient Britons survives in remote ancient monuments, isolated lakes, the rural landscape, and in the depths of the surviving wildwood with which our hunter-gatherer Ancestors would have been familiar.

When the native shamanic practices went into the shadows, these powerful energy spots were deemed unholy and feared by the locals – and as such passed into folklore as those things that are “never fully remembered and yet never fully forgotten.” Those people who come to us are looking for the Path back to the Old Ways and learning how to connect with this timeless energy that “speaks” to them on a variety of different levels. In the light of all this, it might be felt that Old Craft has no place in modern paganism since it is both elitist and hierarchical but our answer to that accusation has always been: “How can you teach yourself what you don’t know exists?”

It is pointless stripping away all the ancient magical formulae to shoe-horn ancient wisdom into a pre-prescribed contemporary system in order to make it easier to understand, when the interior workings that drive the whole have been declared redundant. The ancient symbols, sigils, formulae, analogies and metaphors remain an integral part of the spiritual journey; just as magic is an amalgam of science and art and the stepping stone to the Mysteries. These symbols are so ancient that they are firmly entrenched in the collective subconsciousness and it would be a mistake to discard them purely because they are not understood – or worse still – misunderstood.

During the recent BBC History of Magic programme that unveiled rare books, manuscripts and magical objects from the British Library’s collection and forthcoming exhibition, were revealed some of the traditions of folklore and magic which are at the heart of the Harry Potter stories. J K Rowling said of the exhibition: “The British Library has done an incredible job. Encountering objects for real that have in some shape or form figured in my books has been quite wonderful and to have several of my own items in the exhibition is a reminder of twenty amazing years since Harry was first published…” And she was honest enough to admit that although she had thoroughly researched her subject, some of the magical stuff was made up!

The worlds of J K Rowling and J R R Tolkein are fabulous stories, full of magic and glamour (in the magical sense) but they are wonderful works of fiction and fantasy – not reality. Nevertheless I suspect that many of those original “kiddy converts” have now swelled the ranks of the pagan community but where do they go to discover authentic witchcraft? Our own ‘converts’ discovered for themselves that there was a dearth of material available and it took them many years of searching before they discovered there were other approaches to witchcraft than popular Wicca. Just as not every member of a Christian congregation came be a priest, so not every pagan can be a witch since according to tradition this is some innate ability that manifests in the ways of the Craft.

And although we draw upon the natural energy from the landscape, we are even closer to those sentient beings we refer to as the Ancestors who represent our culture, traditions, heritage, lineage and antecedents; they trace the long march of history that our predecessors have taken. When those of a particular Tradition pass beyond the veil, their spiritual essence merges with the divine spirit of the Whole, which in turn gives traditional witchcraft the continuing power to endure – even past its own time and place in history. It therefore remains the duty of an Old Craft witch to ensure that they keep adding to the strength of belief, which, in many instances may already have endured for hundreds of years

So yes, in the twenty-first century you can view witchcraft as being whatever you want it to be but please don’t pretend to be following the Old Ways – because those “old ways” still matter.

Melusine Draco is an Initiate of traditional British Old Craft and the Khemetic Mysteries and author of over fifty titles, many currently published with John Hunt Publishing, including the popular Traditional Witchcraft series published by Moon Books and a contributor to their latest anthology, What is Modern Witchcraft?  www.moon-books.net  Or contact www.covenofthescales.com for more information.

Book Review:

Seeking The Primal Goddess by Melusine Draco

Another fabulous offering from Pagan Portals. These shorter books are full to bursting with information and knowledge, but something light and easily read over a weekend. Within the seventy nine pages are five chapters and the afterthought. Each of the chapters which cover a wide variety of subjects such as spiritual bloodlines, hearth fire, going beyond the veil and the Owd Lass and Lad, have a “Hearth Fire Exercise”. These contain something for you to experience on a more personal level. It could be research or an actual journey, like the one I made to a healing well. Melusine guides us on a journey to follow in the footsteps of our ancestors, through the ancient world into the beliefs of Old Europe and the many Goddess figures that litter the past. How they are shaped, renamed, and blended over time. Sometimes this is due to migration of people, marriage, or even war. To the victor goes the spoils so to speak. I learned so much from this book, especially concerning the transfer of mitochondrial DNA from mother to offspring, often called maternal inheritance, which allows us to trace our maternal line back, as our mother inherited hers from her mother, and so forth. If I knew this before I had forgotten it. It immediately gave me an amazing emotional link through the ages to my own ancestors. Also, the same chapter goes to explain blood groups and migration, I don’t want to spoil the journey for anyone, but it’s captivating reading. I didn’t find this an easy read, there were plenty of rather long words that I had to look up, (but that’s how we learn right?). But saying that I will continue to refer back to this book, and re-read it. I enjoyed my time spent with it, and look forward to reading more by the author, and doing my own research into the subject.

Seeking the Primal Goddess by Melusine Draco in published by Moon Books.   ISBN 978 1 78904 256 6 : 80pp : UK£6.99/US$10.95 http://www.moon-books.net

A Book-Worm’s Eye View

As most of my readers will know, I have a fascination for odd and obscure historical facts that are hidden away in the millions of sources that outstrip and confound the confines of the Internet – it’s finding them that presents the stimulation and the challenge. If we merely rely on the regurgitated information of contemporary paganism not only does our mind become stagnant, but for those who follow the Craft of the witch, so do our magical abilities.

Over the years I have also incorporated a great deal of folk- cunning- and country-lore into my books on witchcraft with a view to preserving that knowledge for future generations. Much of what even my grandparents’ generation once knew is now lost because it was never recorded for posterity. True there are numerous pagan books written about similar subjects but it is obvious that a large number of them don’t have the countryside in their blood and fail to reflect the magic and mystery of growing up in an uncomplicated rural environment. Strangely enough, these sentiments are often now viewed as some form of elitism but I prefer to go back to the roots of learning rather than consult something that has been cobbled together from different popular titles without any true grounding in Nature.

 Both The Secret People and CRONE! are autobiographical and were a lot of fun to write.  The Secret People is a wander 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.

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’.

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.

The Secret People: Parish-pump witchcraft, Wise-women and Cunning Ways

Melusine Draco

September 30 2016

Paperback 978-1-78535-444-1

Pages: 226

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

“The Secret People is all about the kind of practical folklore our grandmothers and great-grandmothers would have used in their daily lives when planting a cottage garden, foraging for herbs in the hedgerows, treating family ailments and making the most of what was around the house. It is also about the secret folklore they would have known, from love charms and fortune-telling to protection spells and magical cures. The book is both really useful and a delight to read. Mélusine said that it would take me on a trip down memory lane, and it certainly did.”  Lucya Starza, author of Pagan Portals: Candle Magic

“I’ve so looked forward to this book. It high time our old ways came to light again so that we can all remember and use them. Draco writes in a style that is easy to read and her knowledge of the old ways is enormous. Anyone who wants to get back into the old customs and traditions of Britain will find this book a source to be treasured.” Elen Sentier, author of Shaman Pathways: Elen of the Ways, shaman and wise woman

 

CRONE! on the other hand takes ‘a year in the life of …’ approach and is a rag-bag of memories, wise counsel, reflections, magic and nostalgia that make up a witch’s year – especially one who’s just stepped down as leader of a Coven and finds herself with a lot of time on her hands. Magically this is the best of times since there is nothing to prevent the Crone from doing what she likes, when, where and how – since her personal power is now greatly magnified. CRONE! might also provide food for thought for those Craft ladies of a certain age who need to step aside and let the next generation have their turn, because often we don’t stop to think that the magical power of the group can diminish and stagnate through the lack of fresh energy. Hopefully, as far as the new Magister and Dame are concerned, I will be around for a long time to come, remaining in the background dispensing Knowledge, Wisdom and Understanding so that they in turn can train their own successors for the future, while I return to my own chosen Path. In truth there’s comes a time in life in Crafter’s life when it becomes necessary to follow a different Path and see where it takes us. We leave the security of the Coven and set off on a solitary journey … but as Aleister Crowley observed: “What an adventure!”

On reflection life is good and it’s not everyone who can live the witch’s dream of retiring to a small, isolated cottage in a river valley in the shadow of a wild mountain range. Since I’m country born and bred, it’s more like returning to my roots but life’s rich tapestry has certainly had its fair share of snags, runs, holes and endless thread-pulling along the way. I’ve lived in the Glen for ten years now and although my original pack of greyhound companions has been reduced drastically through old-age, I’m still pack-leader of five … not forgetting Harvey my intrepid little mongrel!

The Glen is ideally suited to the type of magic we teach in Coven of the Scales simply because we are not over-looked – psychically or magically – and nothing is allowed to interfere with the daily routine of interacting with Nature on a full-time basis. The cottage is on the opposite side of the Glen to the mountains, on the wooded Slievenamuck Ridge with a lush valley and the River Aherlow running between. The view of the mountains is never the same two days running and at certain times of the afternoon, the slopes are bathed in a strange, ethereal light that is nothing short of enchanting. Each morning I can stand at the bedroom window and stare out with the feeling that this is an ever-lasting holiday – and one I often share with members of the Coven.

From a magical energy perspective, the mountains were formed during the ‘Caledonian Foldings’, which caused the underlying Silurian rocks to fold into great ridges. The Silurian rocks were quite soft and quickly eroded; the eroded dust compacted over millions of years to form Old Red Sandstone, a tough enduring rock and so the Galtees are of Red Sandstone, but with a softer Silurian rock core. If anyone is familiar with my Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones, they will understand how important these geological features are to our magical teaching.

As a result of being surrounded by all this beauty, I’ve now gone into Crone-mode, which in magical parlance means that I can do and say what I want, when I want, and no one can object, since they must sit at my feet and drink in the pearls of wisdom I dispense with every breath … even if they are the senile, verbal wanderings of an aging crank. Seriously, the Coven has been told that if I do get to that stage ‘Do not revive!’ must be entered on the medical chart! Today, I am blessed with a crowd of wonderful people in the Coven from all over the world; all of whom are bright, intelligent and talented – not a witchy outfit to be seen amongst them with Craft ‘mark’ tastefully concealed – and all dear friends.

In truth, we as practitioners of Old Craft are less concerned with ritual and dogma, and more focused on natural energy-raising techniques, which we use to channel or direct spells and charms according to the nature of the working. As I’ve often said, Old Craft witches do not worship Nature but we are certainly proficient at working in harmony with it … and are highly spiritual beings on this level, too. Unlike the majority of modern pagans, however, we accept Nature as being red in tooth and claw and do not seek to impose our will on the natural scheme of things – even if Beltaine is delayed because the hawthorn comes into bloom a month late! And you can’t have a true Beltaine celebration without the fragrance of May blossom in the air … if you understand my meaning.

We also accept the timeless concept of the hunter and the hunted, and the essential inter-action of male-female energy. Old Craft is not generally seen as gender specific but its beliefs do tend to lean towards the male aspect since the female aspect remains veiled and a mystery – as she should be since this is the ancient and fundamental ‘Truth’ behind the Mysteries. Coven of the Scales is not a true sabbatical tradition but it remains an initiatory Mystery one, and what it does share with the other pre-Wiccan traditions is a common feature of extreme selectivity when it comes to prospective members – and the willingness to reject those proven unfit for the Path. Needless to say, this unpopular and confrontational stance has often led to thorny relations between other so-called ‘traditional’ groups, but it has encouraged a sanctuary-like environment where creative magical collaboration can unfold according to the design of each individual member of the Coven.

All this ‘tradition’ has now funnelled down to a tiny, remote cottage in the Glen that offers members of the Coven a warm welcome, a magical learning centre and a spiritual home, hopefully, for many years to come. We have our own Neolithic site where we interact with the Ancestors and, unlike many other ancient monuments, these ancestral energies have not been polluted by the unwelcome tramp of tourism. Here I can live the life of an Old Craft Initiate according to the tenets of my belief and periodically welcome friends and fellow travellers to share in my magical world.

CRONE!: A Year in the Life of an Old Craft Witch

Melusine Draco

ISBN: 9781788760010

Type: Paperback

Pages: 216

Status: Published by https://www.feedaread.com/books/CRONE-9781788760010.aspx

As I’ve said before, and no doubt I’ll say it again, writing about witchcraft is easy.  Finding the right theme isn’t.  Any fool can pass themselves off as a witch but finding an informative and entertaining approach for a new book is a whole different cauldron of knowledge.  Personally, I feel there should be a magical purpose behind any book on Craft – otherwise it’s all been said before – and usually better …

Calendars mark the passage of time …

 … and have done since ancient times. 

 All my life, I have been a celebrant of Halloween. For me, it is the most important day of the year, the turning point in the old pagan calendar.

John Burnside

 Calendars are an important element of our daily lives and they govern the way we conduct our daily, weekly, monthly, yearly routine.  In the earliest times, human beings calculated time by observing the periods of light and darkness that alternated continuously. The solar day is considered the earliest form of the calendar. The second basic type of calendar was the arbitrary calendar, which was created by counting the number of days over and over again, either towards infinity or in a cycle. Nonetheless, there were several problems with the arbitrary calendar. Firstly, farmers of early civilizations could not calculate the perfect time to plant their crops. Crop planting is an activity that is closely linked to the seasons, and the arbitrary calendar was not based on the durations of seasons. Therefore, humans began to observe the sun’s passage through a fixed point, and this practice was the precursor of the solar calendar. Calendars that were based on lunar and stellar cycles were also used in the ancient times.

A mesolithic arrangement of twelve pits and an arc found in Warren Field, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, dated to roughly 10,000 years ago, has been described as a lunar calendar and was dubbed the ‘world’s oldest known calendar’ in 2013.  While Adam’s Calendar in Mpumalanga, South Africa it is a standing stone circle about 30 meters in diameter, which various astronomical alignments identified at the site suggest it is possibly the only example of a completely functional, mostly intact megalithic stone calendar in the world

The Mayans, known for being one of the most technologically advanced civilizations of their time, inhabited the regions of Central America and southern Mexico. Their most notable achievement was their intricate system of time, which consisted of three calendars. These calendars were known as the Long Year, the Solar Year, and the Tzolk’in. The Long Year calendar was used to measure long periods of time and is responsible for the 2012 predictions. The Solar Year is the calendar that most closely resembles our Gregorian calendar; The Tzolk’in calendar consisted of only 260 days and was used mostly for religious purposes. These calendars came under great scrutiny in 2012 due in part to the media portrayal of an ‘apocalyptic’ prediction. However, after 2012 came and went without incident, historians began looking for the true meaning of why the Mayan calendar system ended on that date.

India has used the Hindu calendar to measure time since their ancient days. Over the years, the calendar has been edited and changed as the regional face of India has changed. There are several variations of the Hindu calendar in use today, specific to the various regions of the country. Each version of the calendar has small characteristics that differ them, however, one thing is the same for all of them: the names of the twelve months. The calendar is made up of both solar and lunisolar calendars, and also centers on astronomy and religion. The early Hindu calendar was born from the astronomical philosophies developed in the late BC time. Lunar months are the basis of the calendar and are determined around the phases of the moon. The calendar marks important religious festival and worship days. While there are many different variations of the Hindu calendar, there is a standard version of the calendar that serves as the national calendar of India.

The Roman Book of Days by Paulina Erina

The Roman religion and civil calendar that spread across the Empire was closely aligned to the farming year in central Italy. It comprised of festivals for sacrifice and festivals for games, although the routine sacrifices to the many civil gods were left in the hands of the State priesthood. The more humble cults flourished on the streets and in the countryside, at home private worship continued well after the Roman conversion to Christianity because the ancient gods were so firmly entrenched in pagan hearts.

REVIEW: “A lot of people be they neo-pagans or amateur scholars or authors trying to research have the same problem: It’s very hard to get good, concise information on the Roman Calendar. Even otherwise good books and websites only list the major festivals, and mention briefly that some days were dies comitialis, others dies fasti, and so forth and so on. Obviously this is of little help, say, want to know if the hero of your novel could press a lawsuit on the 20th of August, or what festivals are held on the 9th of June. This book is the answer to that problem. It lists every day of the year, and what happens on that day; festivals, lucky and unlucky days, and the character of the day (fasti, nefasti, etc). If you want to know what happens on 20th of August just look up that day, and you’ll see that it’s a Dies Comitialis where citizen committees can vote on criminal and political matters. It’s very useful and a great relief for someone who’s been tearing their hair out looking for this information. I wasn’t sure if it should get four or five stars, since it is fairly short and only gives an abbreviated explanation of each feast day. However I’ve decided on five stars since the information you find here is virtually impossible to find anywhere else, and believe me I’ve looked. More to the point once you have the name of a festival, or the type of day, it’s very easy to find any additional information on the internet. Thus five stars, and a book that’s very highly recommended!” Norse Victorian- Amazon

ISBN: 9781786971517 : Type: Paperback : Pages: 144 : Published: 14 July 2016 :           Price: £6.99

Order from https://www.feedaread.com/books/The-Roman-Book-of-Days-9781786971517.aspx

Old Year, Old Calendar, Old Ways compiled by Melusine Draco

Most of today’s pagans religiously follow the phases of the moon, and the various witches’ almanacs gear their celebrations and/or observances in line with the dates of the Gregorian calendar in order to synchronise their monthly observances. If we follow our pagan year merely for celebration and observance it makes little difference when we hold our feast days and festivals but if our magical operations need to connect with the Old Ways of our Ancestors then we need to align with the old calendars that were brought to these islands by the Romans, the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons. These formal calendars are the nearest guide we have to help us in understanding the customs and beliefs of our indigenous ancestors. The Roman legionnaires garrisoned in Britain came from all over the Europe and they would have brought their religions and beliefs with them from the far flung corners of the Empire; as would the incoming Celts, Danes and Anglo-Saxons whose influence would have eventually been grafted onto older, indigenous stock especially when similar celebrations fell around the solstices and equinoxes.

REVIEW: “Great book! Love the fair days and events in England that still hold with old tradition and the ideas for honouring days. Definitely a book to have on the shelf and look at every couple of days.” Sarah Beth Watkins, historical author and publisher at Chronos Books

ISBN: 9781788762052 : Type: Paperback : Pages: 210 : Published: 25 January 2018     Price: £7.99

Order from https://www.feedaread.com/books/Old-Year-Old-Calendar-Old-Ways-9781788762052.aspx

 

The Calendar of Ancient Egypt compiled by Melusine Draco

This revised ‘Book of Days’ has been compiled from Temple Festival Calendars of Ancient Egypt by Sherif el-Sabban; the Greek and Demotic Magical Papyri lodged in the British Museum; the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris; the Staatliche Museum in Berlin; the Rijksmuseum in Leiden; the Sallier Papyrus IV and The Cairo Calendars currently lodged in the British and Cairo Museums. The latter shows that although the document itself was made during the time of Rameses II, it was a ‘reprint’ of much earlier material 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.

REVIEW: “I am teaching a course on ancient Egypt, so I was able to use this every class day to read the prognostication for the day and tell my students how they should behave. It makes things more fun.” LARA1407 (Amazon)

ISBN: 9781788765831 : Type: Paperback : Pages: 202 : Published: 5 November 2018    Price: £7.99

Order from https://www.feedaread.com/books/The-Calendar-of-Ancient-Egypt-9781788765831.aspx

The Kindle e-book version of these calendars are available on special order offer UK£0.99/US$0.99 : The Calendar of Ancient Egypt 7-14th February: The Roman Book of Days and Old Year, Old Calendar, Old Ways 7-14th March 2020

Photo: The Guardians of Time is an art project of the Austrian sculptor Manfred Kielnhofer.

Books News …

The (Inner-City) Path: A Gleaning of the Seasons was inspired by Chet Raymo’s book of similar title – that chronicled his own daily walk to work and observing the seasonal changes with a scientist’s curiosity. As often happens, I began thinking ‘what if’ there was a complementary book written from a pagan perspective for when we take to our local paths for our daily dog walk. And, as if arising from this external creative impulse The Path began to unravel in the mind’s eye … based on several familiar walks that have merged together over the years to make a chapbook of the seasons and to offer a glimpse into the pagan mind-set that can find mystery under every leaf and rock along the way, or caught in the murmur of running water, and to act as a simple guide to achieving a sense of well-being and awareness.

The Path will be published by Moon Books on 25th September 2020