A Book-Worm’s Eye View

As I’ve said before, 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 …

It’s often surprised readers that Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival is the fifth book in the series but it often transpires that it’s not until folk have been ‘at it’ for a while that they begin to question the numerous inconsistencies, contradictions and anomalies that occur between the different Traditions.  And it’s not until they get to this stage, that they want to learn about where their own Tradition sprung from … and where it fits into the whole scheme of things.  When people are shopping around for a particular path or tradition that suits them, their ‘wants list’ only looks at witchcraft on a very superficial basis.

In fact, it’s easier to trace an individual’s ancestral DNA back thousands of years than it is to follow an unbroken line of belief down through the ages.  The furthest Coven of the Scales can trace its proven lineage is to the mid-1800s, although coven-lore claims it goes back much further.  In truth, if we go back far enough, all our ancestors were pagan – even if not all of them were witches!  Pagan Revival attempts to offer an explanation of where these pagan influences crept into our racial subconscious, only to manifest in the 20th-century to such an extent that paganism per se is now the fastest growing belief in the western world.

Traditional Witchcraft and the Path to the Mysteries is the last in the series. Some claim there is nothing new contained within the book, or that there are no great revelations in the text, ignoring the fact that Old Craft learning is about forty percent information and sixty percent intuition; but it’s also about realising when intuition is telling us that we don’t have all the information.  There are books claiming to reveal the ‘secrets’ of traditional Craft – but intuition should tell us that if the secrets can be revealed in the reading of just one book, then the author cannot have that much to tell. The real secret is that there are no secrets, only a system of revelation that eventually leads us to a series of enlightening experiences, and the right guides or teachers, to further our progress along the Path to the Mysteries.

Or as one Old Craft witch wrote: “This book, the final book in the series packs an impact, it is as if this book was personally written and directed at myself and my own personal and spiritual journey and my own path to the mysteries. You can tell that the author has navigated the journey personally and the landscape of going deeper and as such is qualified to guide seekers further. It was as if as I read, I was sat with the author and she speaking directly to me and my soul and its journey for the last 15 years. The journey is not for the faint-hearted, there will be twists and turns, stops and starts, fields of flowers and paths of brambles to navigate and ultimately the descent into the underworld as we journey through the landscape of our soul and to the deeper mysteries and if you are felt worthy the door will swing back open for you, if not the path will take you to the state of being where your soul needs to be for that present time.

“The author writes ‘For the traditional witch undergoing initiation into the mystery tradition, it’s a word associated with a solitary life changing (often life threatening) experience. It represents a true test and that cannot be revised for – or cheated at’. I had many moment of putting the book down because I could not believe that the author was so spot on and shaking my head with amazement at the synchronistic points referred in the book, even boxing things away and returning to them when the time is needed or completely ridding oneself external things one acquires along the way and you once thought were important …”

Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival and Traditional Witchcraft and the Path to the Mysteries by Melusine Draco are published by Moon Books.  http://www.moon-books.net

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

Book News … Gender Dynamics

I have just signed the contract for a new Moon Book – Sexual Dynamics in the Circle: Magic, Man & Woman

One of the most significant social changes in the 20th-century was the wedge driven between the males and females of Craft as a result of social media and political feminism. From a purely magical point of view the battle of the sexes has been one of the most negative crusades in the history of mankind since everything in the entire Universe is made up from a balance or harmony of opposite energies. Men and women are different as night and day but still part of the same homo sapiens coin – regardless of their individual sexuality.

“I was so pleased to get a preview copy of Sexual Dynamics in the Circle: Magic, Man & Woman to read; a good, proper book on sex magic is long overdue and this one is seriously refreshing. Melusine Draco’s approach is very down to earth and, at the same time, fully with spirit. Gone are the crazy, titillating, salacious styles of far too many other books on the subject, Draco shows you and explains what actually happens and helps you understand this for yourself. In Sexual Dynamics in the Circle, we learn about working with the two principles of the universe that we know, here on Earth, as gender, female and male, the duality that is all creation from forming stars on down. And we’re able to get away from extreme feminism too, always a good thing; the powers of goddess and god are twined and combined, they don’t battle for supremacy. If you want to learn more about how the genders combine to work magic this is the book to read.”   Elen Sentier : Shaman and author

A Book-Worm’s Eye View

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 …

Traditional Witchcraft for Fields & Hedgerows had to come since the series needed a month-by-month witch’s calendar and it was difficult to find material that hadn’t been regurgitated in countless other titles about the witches’ year.  For this book I settled for a ‘treasury’ format – a monthly potpourri of country-lore, superstitions, hearth magic, recipes, weather-lore, tree-lore, Circle-working and spell-casting – all part of the witch’s or the countryman’s craft.  Being a born and bred countrywoman much of what I write has its roots in rural living and is part of that rapidly disappearing world that has kept the practice of rural witchcraft alive long after its application vanished from daily living.  Hopefully the book acts as a guide to some of the traditional parts of our witch culture including some of the lesser known customs.

The problem we encounter with this kind of writing, of course, is that the modern pagan community is often at odds with the ‘hunting, shooting, fishing’ – not to mention the ‘red in tooth and claw’ – aspects of country living.  I was once accused of advocating ‘black magic’ in quoting from the English Huswife of 1615 that advised those infected with the plague to try applying hot bricks to the feet and, if this didn’t work, ‘a live pidgeon cut in two parts’.  This was a cure tried on Catherine of Braganza and recorded by Samuel Pepys in his diary on the 19th October 1667 that ‘pigeons were put to her feet’. Actually, pigeons were a surprisingly common ‘ingredient’ in the medicine of the time and were even recommended for various conditions in the official pharmacopoeia (catalogue) of sanctioned remedies.  Again, it was a case of a misreading of the text but it still makes me wonder how a common 17th-century folk-medicine practice can be misinterpreted as a 21st-century ‘black magic’ rite – unless it’s deliberately misunderstood!

The first in the series to reach best-selling status was Traditional Witchcraft for Woods & Forests: A Witch’s Guide to the woodland with guided meditations and pathworking …  This book needed a different approach and so Hunter’s Wood came into being. Hunter’s Wood does not exist in the ‘real’ world — or rather, different parts of it exist in different locations. Neither is the practice of Wood-Craft restricted to any particular witchcraft or pagan tradition since a wooded landscape is pertinent to every creed and culture since ancient times.

For the purpose of visualisation, meditation and pathworking, however, I decided to use natural broad-leafed woodland, since the fauna and flora of the forest have always played an important role in traditional witchcraft. Many of the ingredients for a witch’s spells and charms come from woodland plants and trees, while the fauna offers unique opportunities for divination and augury. Hunter’s Wood can be recreated on the inner planes by using magical techniques, so that even those witches living in urban surroundings can take to the woodland paths whenever they choose … and perhaps come to understand more about traditional wood-Craft and country ways.

Tradition Witchcraft for Fields & Hedgerows and Traditional Witchcraft for Woods & Forests by Melusine Draco are published by Moon Books in paperback and e-book format. http://www.moon-books.net

Nearly two decades in print … and still as popular!

Root & Branch: British Magical Tree Lore was always a best-seller as far as the old ignotus press was concerned, even finding favour with the Forestry Commission and the National Trust.  The compilation was a labour of love and even more so when a revised and expanded edition was re-released in 2016 …

It is perhaps surprising to learn that only thirty-five species of tree are indigenous to the British Isles. The following are common native trees that the natural witch should be able to recognise and utilise for magical purposes, although strictly speaking the blackthorn, ivy, spindle, heather, gorse and elder are classed as shrubs, their place as sacred or magical trees cannot be ignored. And so their addition brings the number up to forty of the most common that would have been familiar to the indigenous people of these islands. Neither should we ignore the parasitic mistletoe, and the ‘vine’ whose presence is more complex since it is listed separately from ivy in the Ogham tree alphabet – but it brings our total of magical native ‘trees’ to forty-two.

Even today, few places can rival an English oak wood in early summer for peace and beauty with its carpet of primroses and bluebells. Or the cathedral-like majesty of the autumn beech wood with the sun’s light filtering through the leaves. Or the brooding quiet of the ancient holly wood. Perhaps it is not surprising that our remote ancestors performed their acts of worship in forest clearings and woodland glades, for this is where they came face to face with ‘Nature’ – however they chose to see it.

What is hard to understand is the modern trend for many pagan practices to ignore our native trees and include introduced species into their tree-lore, despite the fact that they profess to be following the beliefs of the indigenous people of ancient Britain. This is, of course, understandable in the case of the rare strawberry tree, for example, which can now only be found growing naturally in Ireland – but where is the alder and the beech? Why is ellen-wood often listed among the nine sacred woods suitable for the Beltaine-Fire when any seasoned countryman would tell you that it can never be burned without some risk to hearth and home?

So come and walk with us awhile … take my hand, child, and I will take you safely through the Wild Wood.

 Root & Branch by Melusine Draco is published by Ignotus Press UK and available direct from the printer at a reduced price https://www.feedaread.com/books/Root-and-Branch-British-Magical-Tree-Lore-9781786974471.aspx and in e-book format from Kindle-Amazon.

Books News

Really going to be busy pruning away at the FB branches and getting rid of the dead wood. What we should be left with are the various pages relating to books and the activities of Ignotus Press UK that are also linked to the Blog posts. I spend more time checking over the postings and feel less and less inclined to produce stuff for FB. All the books will retain their own pages for current book news (Ignotus, the Hugo Braithwaite Mysteries, Temple House Archive and the Vampryre’s Tale) which will be easier to update.

The book posting and book news will move over to the Ignotus Press FB page and we would suggest that if you haven’t, then signed up for the Coven Cafe Culture FB page and the MD and CoS Blogs for more up-to-date stuff. Watch this space …

HAVE A COOL YULE …

The Yuletide season has begun with snow on the mountains and rib-roast on order to celebrate the Winter Solstice.  Wishing everyone greetings of the season and here are a few thoughts for New Year’s resolutions and by introducing small sustainable habits they will lead to us feeling good with ourselves:

  1. Start the day off with a smile and extend it to the first person you meet each morning together with a cheery ‘Good morning’ – even if they scowl back in response.
  2. Be determined to arrange five-ten minutes Me-Time every day in the daylight and fresh air even if it’s only drinking a cup of tea in the garden or local park. A ten-minute walk at lunch-time to help balanced the melatonin and serotonin hormones, which help regulate mood and sleep.
  3. Twenty minutes in the sun helps to combat Vitamin D deficiency that causes SAD; in the meantime take Vitamin D tablets until the sun come back.
  4. Spend a few minutes chatting with an elderly person. Remember you could be the only person they’ve spoken to that day.
  5. Make a donation to a charitable cause each month even if it’s only donating unwanted items to a local charity shop.
  6. Remember: kindness costs nothing. Carry a bag, open a door, or pick up something from the shop. Good manners and kindness are never out of fashion.
  7. Drink more water because every part of our body needs water to function properly.
  8. ‘Earthing’ has now entered the mainstream and an increasing number of scientific studies have revealed that it has real health benefits. The Earth is like a gigantic battery that generates a natural electro-magnetic charge that is present in the ground.  So, weather permitting, kick off your shoes and reap the benefits.
  9. Say ‘well done’ to yourself for big and small achievements – and share them with someone important who will share in your joy.
  10. Read something new every day so that we stimulate our minds with knowledge. Why not make up your mind to re-read one of the Classics every month and see just how much you enjoy them when looking at them from a different perspective.
  11. Dancing is a great stress reliever, so dig out those old dance tunes and rave away on your own.
  12. Do you have energy-suckers (or ‘psychic vampires’ in your life. We are who we spend time with, so choose your company carefully and surround yourself with those who life you higher.
  13. No body knows everything, and the true treasure of life is that we can learn from each other’s wisdom and experiences. So learn to listen and you’ll learn a lot.
  14. Sleep is when the magic happens when our cells get to renew. Switch off the brain at learn an hour before going to bed, have a hot drink and spray Yardley’s Old English lavender on your pillow.  Put on cosy socks, pyjamas and snuggle under a warm throw by the fire – just because it’s a nice thing to do …

Which is as good a time as any to plug a new book that’s coming out next year The (Inner-City) Path: A Simple Pagan Guide to Well-Being and Awareness published by Moon Books.