Ignotus Books … fiction

The Temple House Archive series – Melusine Draco

The Temple House was founded in 1586 in England during the reign of Elizabeth I as an off-shoot of Sir Francis Walsingham’s recently created intelligence service, inaugurated to investigate the growing popularity of esoteric learning that was occupying the interests of the Elizabethan intelligentsia. For this he recruited the descendants of the Knights Templar who had remained in England following the destruction of their Order. Drawing on a veritable mine of esoteric knowledge and experience of international intrigue, the Temple House was established to combat ‘evil forces’ of a human or supernatural agency, and those who would use occult power for destructive purposes. The current members of the Temple House, or ‘the Nine’ as they are called in memory of the nine founder members of the original Knights Templar, are all specialists and magical practitioners in the diverse fields of occultism and its relevant histories.

For more details see http://www.facebook.com/TempleHouseArchive

 Reviews:

“A brilliant read. Love the writing. A real chiller-thriller. The author has all the skills needed to write a cracking good novel. She also has a vast occult knowledge that really shows and writes on the subject with ease. As usual with Melusine there is a subtle humorous element running through that works really well. Best of all there is a volume two underway. I think this would make a great TV series.” Maria Moloney, Axis Mundi Books

“A cracking read. An excellent story, the characters are three dimensional, the dialogue reads naturally and the pacing is fine. There is tension and plenty of conflict as well as some nice touches of humour. There is also a sense of truth that only someone who is familiar with the occult can provide in this genre.” Krystina Kellingley, Cosmic Egg Books

“A brilliant read and a walk into the world of the occult that is both fascinating and thrilling. Loved the historical undertones and the work of the ‘Nine’. Kept me gripped throughout. Can’t wait for number two!” Sarah-Beth Watkins : Bookworms

 

House of Strange Gods

When journalist Michael Gilmour discovered a small filler in a tabloid newspaper about the ‘witch busters’ of Temple House, he believed they were the right people to help him discover the reason behind his father’s disappearance back in the 1970s following an investigation into the desecration of a rural church. What he discovered was even stranger than anything he could ever have imagined in his wildest flights of imagination, which almost results in his own death in an act of premature burial from which he is rescued in the nick of time.

ISBN: 9781785106392 : Paperback : Pages 296 : €8.95

Also available in Kindle e-books.

Published: 26 February 2016

Order direct from: https://www.feedaread.com/books/House-of-Strange-Gods-9781785106392.aspx

 

Realm of Shadow

Led by charismatic Professors Aliona de Foresta and Robert Sands, the members of the Temple House embark on another series of paranormal investigations sparked off when a reality television presenter defiles the burial site of a Viking warrior – with deadly results.

ISBN: 9781786103628 : Paperback : Pages 282 : €8.95

Also available in Kindle e-books

Published: 26 May 2016

Order direct from https://www.feedaread.com/books/REALM-OF-SHADOW-9781786103628.aspx

 

Hour Betwixt Dog & Wolf

The ‘Hour Betwixt Dog and Wolf’ is taken from a French saying L’heure entre chien et loup and refers to the moments after sunset when the sky darkens and vision becomes unclear, making it difficult to distinguish between dogs and wolves, friends and foe, good from evil. When confronted by what appears to be creatures from the ancient race of dog-headed men, the Cynocephali, the Temple House embarks on one of its strangest cases to date.

ISBN: 9781786979063 : Paperback : Pages 256 : €8.95

Also available in Kindle e-books

Published: 27 July 2017

Order direct from https://www.feedaread.com/books/Hour-Betwixt-Dog-Wolf-9781786979063.aspx

 

The Thirteenth Sign

Theatre des Vampires without the cast,” said Jack glumly, referring to the fictitious location in the Boulevard du Temple of Vampire Chronicles fame. “Where’s the spine-tingling depravity of our home from home?” he added, raising his voice theatrically trying to instil a sense of horror into the proceedings.

“For the benefit of the uninitiated” said Chrissie, “the Boulevard du Temple, as its name suggests, refers to the nearby Knights Templar’s stronghold where they established their Paris priory. After a time, it was nicknamed the ‘Boulevard du Crime’ after the crime melodramas that were so popular in its many theatres …” she added sarcastically.

“So, where’s the violence, the murder and the suicide that’s dogged the family down through the ages. I want bodies hurtling from the roof … insanity …” Jack disclaimed dramatically like some old Shakespearean ham.

ISBN: 9781788766395 : Paperback : Pages 252 : €8.95

Also available in Kindle e-books

Published: 7 December 2018

Order direct from https://www.feedaread.com/books/The-Thirteenth-Sign-9781788766395.aspx

 

Ignotus is back …

Coven of the Scales: The Collected Writings of A R Clay Egerton

As one of our members said: ‘It was the first book I read that made me think, this is how it’s actually done …’  It was the first book published by the original ignotus press in 2002 and the first reprint title by Ignotus Books in 2016.

Since his death in 1998, the reputation of Alastair ‘Bob’ Clay-Egerton has begun to pass into pagan legend alongside other contemporary characters such as Robert Cochrane, Michael Howard and Bill Grey. Hopefully, these collected writings will strike a responsive cord and cause the reader to think for themselves, instead of being influenced by the large amount of misinformation that is prevalent in today’s occult teaching. His unique form of teaching is continued in the work of the Coven of the Scales.

It is probably easier to say what Bob Clay-Egerton wasn’t than what he was and, despite having been an acquaintance of Gerald Gardener and chums with Alex Sanders, he embraced neither Gardnerian nor Alexandrian traditions.  He was initiated into Old Craft back in 1941 and into a ritual magic order in 1943 but, contrary to popular belief, he neither knew Aleister Crowley, nor was he a member of either the Golden Dawn or the OTO.  He was a member of the Templi Satanas Luciferi which, in modern parlance was a forerunner of the Tubal Cain-Luciferian tradition that was then gaining popularity.

ISBN: 9781786109620 : Paperback : Pages 140 : €6.85

Published: 12 May 2016

Order direct from https://www.feedaread.com/books/Coven-of-the-Scales.aspx

Also available in Kindle e-book format

Press release …

It had to happen sooner or later … ignotus press couldn’t stay in the shadows forever. Between 1997 and 2007 it was one of the leading independent publishers of esoteric books on the subject of ritual magic, mysticism, traditional British Old Craft and the Egyptian Mystery Tradition – and was often ahead of its time in only accepting typescripts from bone fide magical practitioners who could prove their antecedents.

In 2017 the press began reprinting some of the old titles that has been out of print for many years and for which we held the copyright … plus there were new books coming along that were crying out to be published under the ignotus banner.  So, at Beltaine 2020 it was decided to launch Ignotus Books and although the old domain name had been sold, we were fortunate enough to acquire ignotusbooksuk.com and the new website is in the process of construction.  Email: IgnotusPressUK@gmail.com

Reprint titles:

Root & Branch: British Magical Tree Lore – Melusine Draco

The Roman Book of Days: The Calendar of Ancient Rome – Pauline Erina

Coven Working: How to Set Up or Join a Working Coven – Philip Wright & Carrie West

Death & the Pagan: Modern Pagan Funeral Practices – Philip Wright & Carrie West

Coven of the Scales – A R Clay-Egerton

The Setian – Billie Walker-John & Alan Richardson

Whittlewood (novel) – Suzanne Ruthven

The Wild Horseman (novel) Suzanne Ruthven

 

New titles:

Starchild  I & II – Melusine Draco

The Calendar of Ancient Egypt: Melusine Draco

The Arte of Darkness:Magic & Mystery From the Shadows – Melusine Draco

Old Year, Old Calendar, Old Ways – Melusine Draco

Wort-Lore: the Craft of Witches – Melusine Draco

CRONE! – Melusine Draco

 

New Fiction series:

The Vampyre’s Tale series – Suzanne Ruthven

The Hugo Braithwaite Mysteries – Suzanne Ruthven

The Temple House Archive series – Melusine Draco

 

Forthcoming titles:

Round About the Cauldron Go … Philip Wright & Carrie West

The Colour of Magic – Julie Dexter

The Witch’s Treasury – Julie Dexter

Inner Court Witchcraft – Melusine Draco

At this point in time, Ignotus Books UK has no plans to invite submissions from new authors but if this situation should change in the future, we be implementing our policy of only accepting typescripts from bone fide magical practitioners who can prove their antecedents.  So no unsolicited typescripts, please.

All titles are available in paperback by entering the book title on the search box on the FeedARead.com homepage. Then click the button to order on the book’s page to obtain the book at a special discounted price – although you can also search for the book on Amazon to see if it is listed there and on Kindle e-books.

If you are a bookseller Ignotus titles can be ordered via book wholesalers. If an author has chosen for their book to be in distribution, booksellers can usually order through the major wholesalers in the US and UK, including Barnes and Noble, Gardners, Nielsen and Bertrams.  Our books are print-on-demand and our printers print approx 7.5 million print-on-demand titles and are part of the Ingram group, with the largest global distribution network of their kind with over 30,000 wholesalers, retailers and booksellers in over 100 countries. Once ordered, books are processed on the printer’s print line and usually take approx 7 to 14 working days to be delivered.

 

Book extract …

Aubry’s Dog: Power Animals in Tradition Witchcraft

Dog’s are never out of the limelight these days.  They lead the visually impaired, alert the hard of hearing and support those with mental problems.  The load and unload washing machines; help with medication; sniff-out substances such as explosives, illegal drugs, wildlife scat, currency, blood, and contraband electronics; they are members of the armed forces, police and the fire service. The use of dogs in search and rescue is a valuable component in wilderness tracking, natural disasters, mass casualty events, and in locating missing people.  They make wonderful companions and research has shown that caring for a canine might actually extend our lifespan. Previous studies have shown that dog owners have an innate sense of comfort and increased well-being and they provide a calming influence to help reduce both physical and psychological reactivity which is particularly relevant for veterans who are suffering from PTSD … and the list goes on.

Is it surprising then, that magical practitioners can drawn on the ‘power of the dog’ ? DNA research has led to the deciphering of the genetic code of the dog, which makes the choice of the dog ideal as a ‘power animal’.   An article in the Science Journal reveals that many of the 360 inherited dog diseases have human counterparts, and that the genetic code of the dog is spelt out by about 2,500 million ‘letters’, compared with the 3,000 million that describes their owners. “Dogs and humans share 650 million ‘letters’ and scientists have found an equivalent dog gene for three quarters of known human genes,” explained Dr Venture. “The fact that they are so similar, despite millions of years of evolution along separate tracks, suggests that they are important.”  A fact that should not be overlooked by magical practitioners when searching for a compatible power animal.

To put power dogs in their true magical perspective we need to recognise which breeds are the aristocrats in terms of our own ancestral associations – as well as theirs. We must also understand why certain dogs are better suited to individual spell casting, protections and curses.

In Aubry’s Dog we examine the various breed characteristics that can be looked upon as further canine ‘correspondences’ for use in magical working. When using ‘dog power’, we need to be able to create an amulet, charm or talisman that will reflect these characteristics. For seeking lost property over distance, for example, we would not enlist the help of the greyhound (sight hound) – but we would use the image of a bloodhound (scent hound); for defeating our enemies we would be ill-advised to use a terrier, when we can call upon the energies of the mastiff.

When working with wild energies, however, we must refrain from attempting to give them the anthropomorphic characteristics of the domestic dog. Wild dogs are voracious and ruthless hunter-killers, sometimes turning their attentions on humans if and when circumstances warrant. As much as we may admire their fearless survival skills, it is inadvisable to underestimate them both in the wild, and in magic. When invoking the energies of the wild dog, regardless of species, we are calling upon their primeval instincts over which humans have no control.

Like the Egyptians, the early Babylonians, Assyrians and Chaldeans, who were living between the two great rivers the Euphrates and the Tigris, also revered the dog. History relates that the governor of Babylon owned so many dogs that four towns were made exempt from taxes provided the inhabitants fed their dogs properly.  According to encyclopaedia Man, Myth & Magic, because the Egyptians worshipped the dog, the Hebrews hated them and scorned the belief that dogs could detect the presence of spirits and ghosts or were familiar with the world beyond the grave.

Nevertheless, in contemporary society, the animal’s value is due to its remarkable companionable abilities and because a dog’s senses are much keener than a human’s.

  • A dog’s hearing is attuned to pick up extremely high-pitched tones from a considerable distance. The so-called ‘silent- whistles’ used by dog trainers demonstrate the great range of a dog’s hearing powers and make it invaluable as a guardian of family and livestock.
  • A dog’s nose is so sensitive that we are unable to conceive the great range of odours that canines detect. A piece of wood touched only by the tip of its owner’s finger can be selected by a trained dog from 20 other identical pieces. Bloodhounds have been known to follow perfectly the trail of a stranger 48 hours after the path was traversed. There is no known method of measuring this sensitivity of the dogs’ olfactory powers, but it is among his strongest and most often utilised senses.
  • A dog’s sight is considerably weaker than man’s although they have a greater sensitivity to movements, however slight. Some breeds, specifically the ‘gaze-hounds’ do make great use of their sight in following game across open country.
  • A dog’s ‘fleetness of foot’ means that it can pursue and overtake its quarry, or outrun its rivals. In the wild, a wolf’s speed makes all the difference to whether the pack goes hungry or not.
  • A dog’s strength and tenacity is not necessarily determined by its size. Smaller dogs, especially the terrier breeds, can often be the champions in terms of sheer grit and determination.

In Aubry’s Dog, we look at creating a protective charm for the home and a healing amulet, as well as taking the physical attributes of the various different breeds and creating a very personal, protective amulet. One of the simplest ways is to acquire a piece of jewellery, or even a metal key ring, bearing the image of one of the more popular dog breeds (or wolf, fox, etc.,) and charge it magically. For those who prefer to create an amulet from scratch in the traditional way, however, first catch your dog! Or rather acquire something from a canine that suggests strength, i.e. claws, bone, teeth, rather than the softness of fur. This does not, of course, mean that any living canine should be deprived of these accoutrements. Seeking them out over a period of time should be viewed as part of the magical quest … but your vet might be able to help out with claws or the odd tooth. A dead fox could provide everything, but as a mark of respect do bury the remains within the parameters of magical ethics.

Once we have acquired our canine ingredient (natural or manufactured) focus on the breed of our astral canine protector.  It could have been selected for its:

  • Eyesight (to see danger or detect opportunity).
  • Hearing (warning sounds or hearing something advantageous).
  • Smell (detecting a threat or danger).
  • Speed (fast action in dealing with a problem).
  • Strength (the power to help overcome adversity).
  • Tenacity (the will to persevere or fight against the odds).

This is a personal amulet, so only we can decide what the focus will be. Do we want a general charm that will go everywhere with us like a trusty dog; or are we looking for specific protection (in the workplace, while out hunting, or from rivals/the opposition, etc.,); or do we need backup in areas where our own faculties are not fully functioning? Do bear in mind that a focused magical spell will be much stronger than a more general purpose one.

Aubry’s Dog: Power Animals in Traditional Witchcraft by Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books in paperback and e-book format ISBN 978 1 78099 724 7  Shaman Pathways series : pp84 : UK£4.99/US$9.95  http://www.moon-books.net

WRITER @ WORK

Have now been under ‘house arrest’ for the past two weeks and apart from missing Lidl’s iced fruit buns I can’t say I’ve missed going out into the community!  Most of my favourite shops are closed and the garden centre has introduced a no-contact collect/deliver service.  And with the lovely weather the garden has benefited.   Following the ‘fraughtness’ with John Hunt Publishing concerning my future books, I’m concentrating on producing stuff for Ignotus Press – just like in the good old days.

The third in The Vampyre’s Tale series – Danse Macabre – is now out and I’m up to chapter five in book 5 of The Hugo Braithwaite MysteriesScreenplay – which take us into the classic world of Hollywood and film star memorabilia.  The rough draft for book 5 in The Temple House Archive PACT! – is under way and as the title suggests, we talking about devils and demons.

Round About the Cauldron Go is almost ready for proofing and this will be followed up by Inner Court Witchcraft early next year – both CoS publications.  There’s The Witch’s Book of Simples: The simple arte of domestic folk medicine which is half complete and Appeasing the Gods – with Sacrifice, Offerings and Libation in the planning stage but who knows where either will land up!

I think I’m up-to-date with all my articles and Moon Books anthology contributions and I’m going to be doing a Winter Solstice piece for next year’s The Witches Almanac.  I’m pleased that two books in the Traditional Witchcraft series have finally reached best-selling status and I shall be concentrating on the marketing of my Moon Books back-list titles this year because once The (Inner-City) Path comes out in September 2020 and Sexual Dynamics in the Circle sometime in 2021, there’s nothing left in the MB pipeline.

With the restrictions on the non-fiction it means that I can get down to business with my first love – writing novels.  I have really grown attached to my characters and each series has its own Facebook page so readers can follow what’s happening with the current story-lines, supplemented with related articles and other posts.

The Vampyre’s Tale  https://www.facebook.com/VampyresTale/

The Hugo Braithwaite Mysteries  https://www.facebook.com/BraithwaiteMysteryRuthven/

The Temple House Archive  https://www.facebook.com/TempleHouseArchive/

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 …