The tides of Summer: Calan Haf-Beltaine

With Julie Dexter – Dame of Coven of the Scales

The whole essence of traditional British Old Craft is closely bound to the natural tides that govern our planet. When we organised our own Coven activities, these were focussed on drawing down an elemental power to synchronise with the traditional Sabbats and Esbats, thus ensuring the Coven developing a ‘group mind’ of its own that nonetheless periodically needs to be recharged via group ritual.  This also explains why Old Crafters synchronise those rituals to coincide with the Old Julian calendar that links us directly to the power of the Ancestors rather than any contemporary ‘wheel of the year’. Kindred calls to kindred, blood calls to blood. The modern Gregorian calendar is now thirteen days out of alignment and will be fourteen days adrift from 2100 – but magically a miss is as good as a mile!

A witch needs to be on familiar, operational-terms with these times and tides of the witch’s true year – not just the solar and lunar tides but the oceanic, earth and atmospheric tides that can also enhance/affect our magical workings.  We must also understand that some tides are more beneficial than others for recharging the ‘group mind’ of the Coven so that we as individuals can draw upon these currents of elemental power to energise our own spells at any time. This elemental power is marked in the charting of the stars, and while the stars are not generally used as sources of power they can also act as a celestial barometer for the calendaric ebb and flow.  This is the witch-power we channel when we work magic – either singly or as a group – and it makes sense to take these various different tides into consideration and utilise them to our best advantage whenever we can.  There’s nothing to stop us from working against the tide but this is self-defeating when it is easier to go with the natural flow of Nature and the cosmos.

These natural tides can and do affect the way we live, work and think although we may not be conscious of the power they have over this little old planet of ours; ask any midwife, who’ll tell you that there are more births when there’s a full moon. By understanding when these tides occur may shed a light on why we may react differently at times without knowing why; it may also explain why we can be magically/psychically hyper/receptive at certain times and not at others.

Lunar:  All of us are so familiar with the moon cycle that nothing really needs to be added, except that we have added one or two lunar exercises throughout the text that might prove useful.

Solar:  According to NASA, solar activity is indeed currently ramping up toward what is known as solar maximum, something that occurs approximately every eleven years. This same solar cycle has occurred over millennia and although the explosive heat of a solar flare can’t make it all the way to our Earth, electromagnetic radiation and energetic particles certainly can. Solar flares can temporarily alter the upper atmosphere creating disruptions with signal transmission from, say, a GPS satellite to Earth causing it to be off by many yards.  Solar activity can also affect the strength of oceanic tides. 

Solar winds affect the Earth by the intense clouds of high energy particles that are produced by solar storms. When these clouds, called coronal mass ejections, make their way to the Earth in three-four days, they collide with the magnetic field of the Earth and cause it to change its shape.

Solar wind disrupts our magnetosphere because as the wind flows toward Earth, it carries with it the Sun’s magnetic field. It moves very fast, then smacks right into Earth’s magnetic field – causing a shock to our magnetic protection, which can result in turbulence.  If we are strongly affiliated to Elemental Fire we may find it advantageous to familiarize ourselves with this solar cycle and see whether it does affect us on a metaphysical level.

 Oceanic: An ocean tide refers to the cyclic rise and fall of seawater. Tides are caused by slight variations in gravitational attraction between the Earth and the Moon and the Sun in geometric relationship with locations on the Earth’s surface. There are generally three types of tides: diurnal – one high and low tide each day; semi-diurnal – two high and low tides each day; and mixed – two high and low tides each day of different heights.

And if we earn our living on the ocean, we’d better know how to read a tide table. Around the world, most coastal communities witness sea level rise and fall multiple times every day. The effect can be quite dramatic: on certain days, there’s a 53-foot difference between the low and high tides in Canada’s Minas Bay Inlet. Working fishermen, divers and ship captains must take fluctuations like these into account and for this reason, governments release tables that predict the heights of future tides for different corners of the oceans.

The ocean isn’t the only body of water that experiences its own tides. Lakes undergo them as well, but on a much smaller scale. For example, the mightiest tides on North America’s Great Lakes are only 0.4 inches high.  If we are strongly affiliated to Elemental Water we may find it advantageous to familiarize ourselves with this oceanic cycle – even if we live nowhere near the coast -and see whether it does affect us on a metaphysical level.

Atmospheric tides are ubiquitous features of the Earth’s atmosphere. They are the persistent global oscillations that are observed in all types of atmospheric fields, including wind, temperature, pressure and density.  Several studies have found evidence that a rise in temperature or a fall in barometric pressure, which often accompanies a thunderstorm, may trigger a headache or migraine. While some people cite simply a ‘change in weather’ as their trigger, and others can pin down more specific weather changes like high or low temperatures, humidity, sunlight, wind speed, and dew point.  During a storm, cold and warm air collide, creating an extreme difference in barometric (or air) pressure. In addition, sferics, which are electromagnetic impulses produced by lightning, may also trigger migraines. If we are strongly affiliated to Elemental Air we may find it advantageous to familiarize ourselves with these atmospheric tides and see whether they do affect us on a metaphysical level.

Earth: Unbeknownst to many of us, the ground beneath our feet experiences tides of its own. The phenomenon goes by many names, including ‘land tides’ and ‘Earth tides’ but no matter what we call the process, it’s caused by the same forces that generate our better-known oceanic tides. High ocean tides – at least in most parts of the world – happen twice a day. While this is happening, a similar cycle unfolds within the very crust of our planet. To a miniscule degree, the ground level itself rises and falls every day in accordance with the moon’s whereabouts.

“The motion extends through the whole of the solid earth, not just the crust, but is largest at the surface,” explains geophysicist at the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  A recent geological survey investigating the link between the fortnight cycle, land tides and seismic activity along California’s San Andreas Fault explained that when the Earth’s crust flexes in the direction of the tidal pull, this puts a stress on any tectonic faults that cut through the rock. If the combination of the tidal stress and the pre-existing tectonic stress is just right, this can set off an earthquake. They also found that the rate of low-frequency ‘quakes’ increases right before the fortnightly cycle enters its solar/lunar alignment stage.

Nearer to home, a nationwide survey by a team from the Ordnance Survey and the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory showed that parts of Britain ‘bounce’ by four inches twice a day and the most wobbly counties are Devon and Cornwall.  The movement is caused as tides ebb and flow twice daily and the deformation of Earth’s crust varies across the country. The East is much more stable than the West because when the tide was in, the extra weight of water on the continental shelf pushed the adjoining crust down a few inches. At low tide, the Earth springs back and since tidal ranges are greater on the south-western side of the British Isles that is where the biggest bounce can be found.  Devon, Cornwall, Pembrokeshire, the Western Isles and southern Ireland, had the biggest range of movements – more than four inches, twice a day. Satellite measurements have shown how the British Isles are tilting upwards, with Scotland rising by about two millimetres each year, and the South-East declining by a similar amount. This movement of bulges, inflations and wrinkles, can be seen from an altitude of 500 miles.  If we are strongly affiliated to Elemental Earth we may find it advantageous to familiarize ourselves with these land tides and see whether they do affect us on a metaphysical level.

As part of the exploration of these various different tides it is necessary for each of us, as an individual, to go out and discover them for ourselves, simply because, as we are all unalike the various dissimilar locations in which we live can all produce conflicting results. We also have to take into account whether we are strongly influenced by the other Elements.  In Power of the Elements by Mélusine Draco, we are introduced to the concept of each Element having many other different facets influencing its purity or effectiveness. By using the Court Cards of our favourite Tarot Deck we can begin to identify with what causes those peculiarities that make us say we don’t identify with our own particular Star Sign:

Leo, for example, is represented by Elemental Fire and is identified with the Knight (or King) of Wands but his ‘family’ is made up of the Princess (the Earthy part of Fire) and the Prince (the Airy part of Fire) of Wands … and the Queen of Wands (the Watery part of Fire). Adrien, being an Aquarian and a professionally trained singer and dancer who, according to our the conversations is more geared towards the Watery Part of Air, while I’m an untypical Piscean wired for the Fiery Part of Water in my youth and the Earthy Part of Water in my later years. The current Magister of Coven of the Scales is a Leo and a former Fire Chief who obviously relates to the Fiery part of Fire; while the Dame is a Virgo and a lawyer who associates with the Airy Part of Earth. As they get older and develop magically, it will be interesting to see whether these ‘parts’ are subject to change.

We can see that this Elemental identification is very much an individual thing and it should be evident why no one else can make that identification for you since there are a dozen different interpretations for our zodiacal star sign: each often being diametrically opposite to the other.  This is the stepping off point … the going it alone stage … when we put all that we have learned into practice and start researching.  This is not a book for beginners and has been written for those who have advanced in the Craft enough to be looking at the next stage of their journey … learning … re-learning … and sometimes discarding old conventions of the Tradition while developing new perspectives. An essential part of this journey is that we begin to know ourselves. The Dame tells me that several members of the Coven have found the following path-working has assisted with this:

“At the entrance to the Temple of Delphi, occupied by the famous oracle, were the words “know thyself”. This sentiment would be important if you were going to listen to any prophesies the Sybil had to offer and make sense of them;  if you knew what your normal reaction would be to a particular situation, you could partially predict the outcome. If you wanted to change a particular outcome, then you would have to perhaps alter your usual type of reaction and, in doing so, adjust your own fate, so the ability to “know thyself” allows you to have a little more control of life.

 Getting to know yourself is not necessarily an easy task. As Melusine Draco says in The Path to the Mysteries, to change anything you need to change yourself first, and to do that, we first have to know ourselves – “..and that step is often the most frightening because many of us don’t want to face these facets of our personality or character that lurk in the shadows”.  The following path working is to assist us to know ourselves:

Sit comfortably and relax, closing your eyes if that helps you to focus. Feel any tensions slowly leave your body and breathe in for three breaths through your nose, then out for three breaths through the mouth. Repeat this four times or until you’re fully relaxed.

It is a clear, bright day and you are standing on the seashore. You can feel a slight breeze on your face and can taste the salt tang on the air. The sound of the sea coming up and down the shore is rhythmic and you can hear the seagulls shriek as they wheel overhead. You have no shoes and socks on and can feel your feet on the damp warm sand. You dig your feet in and can feel the grains scrunch between your toes.

You look behind you and can see cliffs and, over to your right is what seems to be an opening in the cliff face. You decide to go and explore: walking over the sand you can feel your feet sinking in to the sand as the firmness of the beach gives way as you tread on it. You reach the opening: It’s dark inside, but there is a blue/green glow towards the back of what is a cave. You clamber over rocks, your feet feeling the roughness, and see that the light is coming from a rock pool. It has a large smooth bolder next to it and you sit down. The bolder feels cool and hard under your weight. You smell the damp, seaweedy smell in the cave, which is colder than outside, and you can hear droplets of water dripping from the ceiling.

You gaze down in to the pool: it is a clear aquamarine and you can see fish swimming there and other sea creatures. You look for the bottom of the pool, but realize you cannot see the bottom. As you look in to it, the pool becomes darker and any ripples disappear. You can no longer see the sea creatures, since the pool looks like a dark sheet of black glass. You look in to it: What do you see? Look at the image. Is it you? Perhaps there is no image. Can you see anything to the left or right? Take some time to study what you see. After a while, a large drop of water drips from the ceiling overhead and in to the pool. The ripples disperse the darkness and the clarity returns, with the fish and sea creatures going about their business.

You clamber back over the rocks and walk back along the seashore, taking deep breaths of sea air. You stand at the seashore and feel the damp sand beneath your feet and the sun on your face, warming you. Take three deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth, as before. Open your eye, if you had them closed, stand up, shake your hands and feet and ground yourself. Have some light refreshment to bring you firmly back in to the here and now.

     1. What did you see in the reflection, if anything?

     2. Did you see yourself?

     3. What does this mean to you?”

As you work through this book and do the practical work, you will find out much more about yourself as a witch and where your Craft is taking you.

Our Dame has selected this extract from the limited edition Ignotus Press publication, Round About the Cauldron Go … by Phillip Wright and Carrie West and it gives us a great deal of pleasure to be able to share snippets from our inner ways of working on the MD Blog because this book is not available for general purchase.

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