WRITER@WORK

The Arte of Darkness has gone off to the printer and should be ready for publication by September; while Pagan Portals: Western Animism – Zen and the Art of Positive Paganism is due for release on 26th July and will be of interest to anyone with an interest in spirituality and paganism without feeling the need to embraced the established traditions of Wiccan, Heathenism or Druid. The book may even appeal to those whose outlook on contemporary paganism has become jaded with the lack of focus or official litany.  Pagan Portals – Seeking the Primal Goddess is due for publication on 31st January 2020.  Sacred Landscape: Caves and Mountains   is in production but so date yet for publication.

The contract has been signed for The (Inner-City) Path: A Gleaning of the Seasons on a Daily Walk, which based on several familiar urban 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 typescript should be ready by autumn and the book published towards the end of 2020.

Work in progress includes the third in the Vampyre’s Tale series and books two and three in the Sacred Landscape trilogy.

Advanced orders can be placed for Pagan Portals: Western Animism – Zen and the Art of Positive Paganism from Moon Books – http://www.moon-books.net

Book News …

ROUND ABOUT THE CAULDRON GO …

Philip Wright & Carrie West authors of Coven Working and Death & the Pagan have a new book in production that should be published by Ignotus Press UK early in 2020.  They were early members of Coven of the Scales when it was formed by Bob and Meriem Clay-Egerton following their move to Newcastle and have since run their own teaching coven in St Albans for well over twenty years until its recent amicable closure. The long history of the Moonraker-CoS Covens has always been close knit and often beset with troubles resulting from both internal and external causes but unlike many of those that were around back in the day, they are gratified to see that CoS goes from strength to strength.  ‘Traditional British Old Craft is often frowned upon by millennial-witches for its elitist, hierarchical and god-based structure but this Coven has been provably in existence since the mid 1880s and it has managed to survive to keep the spirit of ‘true’ Craft alive despite the often overwhelming odds.  We as old-timers are proud to have this as our heritage …’

PART I: SUMMER: Calan Haf-Beltaine

The whole essence of traditional British Old Craft is closely bound to the natural tides that govern our planet.  When we organise our own coven activities, these are focussed on drawing down an elemental power to synchronise with the traditional Sabbats/ Esbats, thus ensuring the coven develops 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.  The modern Gregorian calendar is now fourteen days out of alignment and had been thirteen days apart since March 1900 – but magically a miss is as good as a mile!

Watch this space …

Book News …

Have just signed the contract for a new Pagan Portals title for Moon Books …

The (Inner-City) Path: A Gleaning of the Seasons was inspired by Chet Raymo’s book of similar title that chronicled his own daily urban 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 urban 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 urban 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 so that ‘even in the city’s throng we feel the freshness of the streams …

Natural Symbols for Compass Working

Books will give a whole list of correspondences we can utilise to symbolically mark the cardinal points of the Compass for magical working – but some work better than others.  To built up a collection of naturally-charged quarter-markers we need to keep our eyes open at all times for those ‘gifts’ that come our way while out walking. For example:

North:  The Place of Power magically speaking since ancient times – and ancient mystics and alchemists called upon Gnomes as an invocation of the properties in Earth in ritual.  Gems and crystals are all part of the Element of Earth and the most natural would be the small pieces of quartz (milky, rose and clear) or flint that can be found in any handful of gravel, a stream bed, or by the side of a path we walk along every day.  Remember that the tiniest of pieces were once buried deep inside the Earth and have worked their way to the surface over millions of years.

South: Fire is the only one of the Four Elements that humankind can produce itself, so it bridges the connection between mortals and gods because it was Prometheus, the Titan culture hero and trickster figure who defied the gods by stealing fire and giving it to humanity:  an act that enabled progress and civilisation. Slivers of seasoned wood from the Craft’s totem trees can be prepared and sprinkled in the censer over a charcoal disc; or if working outside small faggots can be made from twigs from the ‘nine sacred woods’ – birch, rowan, ash, alder, willow hawthorn, oak, holly and hazel.

East:  The smoke that rises from the incense burned on the altar is a symbol of Elemental Air; or we can collect feathers from the birds sacred to Craft – the corvids who serve as messengers from Otherworld.  Keep them fresh and safe by wrapping them in a silk scarf when not in use.

West:  Rain-water collected in the cup-marks on ancient monuments or from the hollows in the boles of totem trees is the most sacred representative of Elemental Water.  Failing that, collect water from a local spring or holy well.

This means that along with the poop-scoop bags in our pockets, we need an array of small plastic bags, bottles and containers so that we can bring our finds safely home. Stones and pebbles can be ritually cleansed by holding them in a fast running stream or spring, other more perishable items shouldn’t need to be cleansed if they have been brought in straight from the wood otherwise we will destroy those natural propensities they were chosen for.

Power of the Elements by Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books as part of the Pagan Portals series.  http://www.moon-books.net

Place of Power & Polar Shift

Like most planets in our solar system, the Earth has its own magnetic field. Thanks to its largely molten core, our planet is in fact a bit like a bar magnet. It has a north and south magnetic pole, separate from the geographic poles, with a field connecting the two. This field protects our planet from radiation and is responsible for creating the northern and southern lights – spectacular events that are only visible near the magnetic poles.

According to a recent report on Earth Sky News by Nathan Case, a Senior Research Associate in Space and Planetary Physics at Lancaster University, however, the magnetic north pole has started moving swiftly at 50km (31 miles) per year – and may soon be over Siberia.  This magnetic field has many advantages. For over 2,000 years, travellers have been able to use it to navigate across the globe. Some animals even seem to be able to find their way thanks to the magnetic field.  While since the time of the ancient Egyptians the North has been recognised as the ‘the Place of Power’ from a magical energy perspective.

Earth’s magnetic field extends hundreds of thousands of kilometres out from the centre of our planet – stretching right out into interplanetary space, forming what scientists call a ‘magnetosphere’.This magnetosphere helps to deflect solar radiation and cosmic rays, preventing the destruction of our atmosphere. This protective magnetic bubble isn’t perfect though, and some solar matter and energy can transfer into our magnetosphere. As it is then funnelled into the poles by the field, it results in the spectacular displays of the Northern Lights.

Since Earth’s magnetic field is created by its moving, molten iron core, its poles aren’t stationary and they wander independently of one another. In fact, since its first formal discovery in 1831, the north magnetic pole has travelled over 1,240 miles (2,000 km) from has generally been quite slow, around 9km (6 mi) a year, allowing scientists to easily keep track of its position. But since the turn of the century, this speed has increased to 30 miles (50 km) a year.The south magnetic pole is also moving, though at a much slower rate (6-9 miles, or 10-15 km a year).the Boothia Peninsula in the far north of Canada to high in the Arctic Sea.

Already this rapid wandering of the north magnetic pole has caused some problems for scientists and navigators alike. Computer models of where the north magnetic pole might be in the future have become seriously outdated, making accurate compass-based navigation difficult.  And here we have to ask ourselves whether there will be any drastic magical anomalies caused by all this moving around since from a magical point of view, a miss is as good as a mile. The magnetic poles are the points on the Earth’s surface where a compass needle points downwards or upwards, vertically. They aren’t necessarily connected and drawing a line between these points, through the Earth, would not necessarily cross its center.

We already know that the magnetic pole moves. Both poles have wandered ever since the Earth existed. In fact, the poles even flip over, with north becoming south and south becoming north. These magnetic reversals have occurred throughout history, every 450,000 years or so on average. The last reversal occurred 780,000 years ago meaning we could be due for a reversal soon which would play havoc with all our magical workings, methods and theories!

Starchild I & II by Melusine Draco is published by Ignotus Press UK : ISBN: 9781786976499 : Type: Paperback : Pages: 244 : Published: 21 January 2017 : Price: €7.95 https://www.feedaread.com/books/STARCHILD-I-II-9781786976499.aspx

Book News: The Arte of Darkness

Into the Darkness:

‘Evil is simply misplaced force.  It can be misplaced in time: like the violence that is acceptable in war, is unacceptable in peace.  It can be misplaced in space: like a burning coal on a rug rather than the fireplace. Or it can be misplaced in proportion: like an excess of love can make us overly sentimental, or a lack of love can make us cruel and destructive.  It is in things such as these that evil lies, not in a personal Devil who acts as an Adversary,’ so says the Qabalah.

Nevertheless, there is an increasing tendency these days for groups and individuals to portray themselves as being more exciting, adventurous, or more magically competent by covering themselves with the mantle of ‘Darkness’. Such people believe they know everything there is to know about the ‘arte of darkness’ but more often than not, whatever knowledge they have, it is not enough since they are ‘loaded to the gunwales with a cargo of conceit’. Let’s make no bones about it – there is no such thing as Black and White Magic – and the realms of Darkness and Shadow are an intrinsic part of everyday magical practice regardless of path, creed or tradition. Magic used only for good purposes is only singing half the Mass!

Magic per se is neither black nor white, good nor evil, and it is often extremely difficult to define exactly what is meant by magic (or magick), as the word has completely different meanings for different people.  [Aleister Crowley, incidentally, usually spelt magick with a ‘k’ to distinguish his own particular brand – which was of a sexual nature – from the traditional ritual and ceremonial kind.] To some it merely refers to the cabaret act of card tricks and illusion; others think of it in terms of ignorant superstition; today many connect it with the fictional world of Harry Potter, or the literary world of The Lord of the Rings.  For many more, the definition falls between a sinister connection with black masses and dark-doings on one hand, and love potions and healing on the other.  The age-old conflict between the opposing forces of good and evil may only have been the product of over active imaginations, but it has always attracted the attention of highly accomplished personalities who were generally acknowledged as having access to magical and mystical powers.

Once we fumble our way past beginner stage, however, we quickly come to realise that magic is a tantalizing system of opposites: black/white, negative/positive, active/passive, male/female, dark/light, day/night and that the opposite of ‘good’ isn’t necessarily ‘evil’ – or even lukewarm wicked!  And once we reach the path of the Initiate, we find that things haven’t changed much, except that we now understand we know nothing and have to begin all over again by looking at life, magic and the Universe from a completely different perspective.  In fact, darkness regularly comes to us all as the Earth spins on its axis and another part of the world gets to see the light. And we must always remember that in even the deepest esoteric book-learning there are always bits missing! Like that uppermost point that links the human consciousness with the divine, i.e Daäth or Knowledge – the Qabalistic legend of the ‘fall’ that is a parable of the shutting out of man from Paradise by the destruction of Daäth and the establishment of the Abyss … These are the realms that go beyond Initiation and which we must still strive towards in order to gain the hidden Wisdom that ultimately leads to Understanding.

Nevertheless, there are basic elements of esoteric practice that an old CoS colleague of mine always described as ‘Ooo-er magic!’ meaning that it had been modernised (or bastardised) out of all recognition, and put across as being slightly risqué or risky, depending on how one viewed the application.  The impression is often given by ‘Ooo-er!’ practitioners that certain deities, who were simply Underworld or Otherworld denizens, or those that had been blessed with an unfavorable physiognomy and/or unfortunate pedigree, are hailed as the ones to follow. Often accompanied by a scornful distain for those who are nervous about interacting with such murky energies might be better served taking up macramé.

Added to this, a good rummage around in the ‘darker’ aspects of the monotheistic or Abrahamic religions is always good for a bit of ‘Ooo-er magic!’ providing those they are trying to convince haven’t bothered too much with conducting any research into the background claims of the participants, or their ‘occult tradition’. Where would we be, for instance, without the supporting cast of the Book of Revelations, the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha? Like sexual orientations, a person’s magical inclinations are just that: personal.  They are governed by an individual’s own ethics and morality in what Meriem Clay-Egerton always described as forty shades of grey (long before that other book came out).  My Welsh slate grey, for instance, might be your deepest black; your pewter grey might be my Arctic white – again, it’s all a matter of individual perception.

It’s also an acceptable and undeniable fact that practitioners of Craft magic learn to curse as well as heal but in all honesty, healing has probably caused more unintentional damage than all the cursers on the planet, if the latter could be persuaded to get up off their collective backsides to admit that they much prefer a nice bottling or binding because it is often far more effective – and usually requires far less effort. All seasoned magical practitioners learn to walk safely on the wild (or dark) side that they occasionally need to tread but they do it with a certain amount of fear and a hell of a lot of respect.  Because as that same CoS colleague often commented: ‘If you don’t feel that frisson of fear, you ain’t doing it right!

So the next time you see an on-line promotion trawling for those who want to learn the ‘real’ hidden secrets of magic from those who walk on the dark side with some shady entity, and which reads as though it’s just come straight from J R R Tolkien (but less literary) … it probably has!

The Arte of Darkness by Melusine Draco will be published by Ignotus Press UK in the autumn of 2019

Western Animism: Zen & the Art of Positive Paganism

Within contemporary paganism there is a widening schism between the different factions who may benefit from the wisdom that, in Zen, it is the question – not the answer, that is vital. This book explores Western spirituality and paganism from an Eastern perspective.
Looking back I can see how my Shinto upbringing (my father was a martial arts instructor and a countryman) made it so easy to pick up on the underlying animistic threads of Old Craft and its associated esoteric practices. From a small child I was in touch with that indefinable sensation of witch-power, god-power, ki, qi, or earth energy – call it what you will – the natural energy that is believed to be an active principle forming part of any living thing.

Unfortunately, within contemporary paganism, there appears to be a widening schism between the different factions who may benefit from the wisdom that in Zen it is the question that is most important – not the answer – and that some kinds of teaching cannot be set down in words but can only be learned through experience. As an antidote, I suggest that in the spirit of Zen it is possibly necessary to step away from this type of negative thinking and try seeing the pagan world through a different spectrum of supernatural agencies and spirits, and the practice of divination, ancestor worship, and shamanic healing where we can we find plenty of parallels between East and Western paganism.

Publication date: 26th July 2019
Pagan Portals: Western Animism: Zone & and the Art of Positive Paganism
Published by Moon Books ISBN 978 1 78904 123 1 : http://www.moon-books.net