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.

Writer@Work : Winter 2019/2020

Having never been one for making extra work for myself, I’m in the throes of getting rid of several Facebook pages that are superfluous to requirements now that the various Blogs are up and running.  We don’t realise just how much time FB eats into the working day and so the first to go is the MD page: followers will be given plenty of warning and the opportunity to join the MD WordPress Blog

On the book front, Pagan Portals: Seeking the Primal Goddess is due for publication on 31st January and can be pre-ordered on Amazon.  Meanwhile in production there’s Pagan Portals – Sacred Landscape: Caves and Mountains (due 28th August) and Pagan Portals – The Inner-City Path: A Simple Pagan Guide to Well-Being and Awareness  (due 25th September 2020).  Work in progress includes Sexual Dynamics in the Circle, Sacred Landscape: Lakes & Waterfalls, The Witches’ Book of Simples and Sacred Landscape: Groves & Forests for Moon BooksWhile the third in the Vampyre’s Tale series is compYeted in the first draft and the fifth in the Temple House Archive will be started in the New year …

Added to this I’m busy helping out with the final stages of Philip and Carrie’s Round About the Cauldron Go, and with the added input from James and Julie, the Magister and Dame of Coven of the Scales, this book can really be classed as a team effort.  Should be ready for publication with Ignotus Press by the Spring Equinox …

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 …

The second book in the Traditional Witchcraft series needed to address another aspect of witchcraft that is rarely dealt with and that was the importance of linking with the different ‘tides’ that effect or enhance magical workings.  And what better environment in which to talk about the subject than the seashore? Needless to say that since the entire planet is governed by the various natural tides – oceanic, atmospheric, lunar and solar – the seashore was the focus for this title, even if we didn’t need to live anywhere near the coast to draw upon it.  Again there was nothing similar in print at the time, so there was a gap in the market for a book that took working with moon phases one step further.

The sea is a metaphor for life: it is vast and empty and infinite. The poet Walt Whitman, used the sea as a metaphor for immortality, while Henry David Thoreau used the sea as a metaphor for the enrichment of man’s mind and the limitlessness of his abilities. The two oceans that are a common theme in Thoreau’s work is the ocean which is found on earth and the ocean in the sky which consists of the moon, stars and air. Conceptually, to Thoreau both oceans represented the accessible vastness of the human psyche which man should aspire to engage until he dies.  Magical practice is, however, one big metaphor and therefore this was seen as another exercise on the path of traditional witchcraft.

And yet those with no true experience of magic will always pick up on any negative aspects, which demonstrate just how little they really know.   As I pointed out in CRONE!, I often wonder about some of the people who read my books and who have no compulsion in making scathing comments about the content. I don’t expect everyone to like my style, which can often come across as slightly abrasive, but I don’t appreciate being insulted or belittled by those with scant experience in the ways of magic. It’s usually at this point I will repeat those famous words of Aleister Crowley who was no stranger to a bad press:

Test the average man by asking him to listen to a simple sentence which contains one word with associations to excite his prejudice, fears or passions – he will fail to understand what you have said and reply by expressing his emotional reaction to the critical word…


For example, one reviewer for Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore complained that a spell ‘suggests throwing a plastic container into the sea and letting it go where the tides takes it’, followed by a lecture on ecology – which showed that the complainer hadn’t read the passage properly, or more importantly, even remotely understood its content. “I’m wondering what you are thinking when you recommend throwing anything plastic in the ocean ? We have enough plastic refuse in our Oceans . This is not a very eco friendly recommendation for spell work . I urge you to re think this particular spell in subsequent editions.”

I had included this charm of ‘confusion and chaos’, i.e. a curse that involved throwing a small medicine bottle into the fast current of an estuary to let the natural currents carry it where it would. I pointed out that there was no way of retrieving this charm, so there were to be no knee-jerk reactions when making the decision to cast it. And that if came back on the returning tide, then if must be retrieved and destroyed since the ‘powers that be’ had rejected the appeal. I also explained that retrieval could be extremely dangerous, so there needed to be sufficient justification for casting the charm [curse] in the first place or there could be serious repercussions, and the sender would only have themselves to blame.

The complainer had made several adverse comments (including an Amazon review) about the casting of small plastic medicine bottles into the briny … but nothing at all about cursing, or showing any understanding of the positive-negative aspects of using this method of thowing a curse. Curses generally have a much greater environmental impact than small plastic bottles and the whole point of the exercise was missed because the words: ‘throw a small medicine bottle into the current’ excited the passions of the reader.

There were enough safeguards in the text to make even the most feeble-minded of readers stop and think whether it was worth the effort, or risking the dangers of the sea in order to get even with some real or imagined enemy. And if you’d got it wrong and the sea returned the bottle, then there was even greater risk to life in attempting to retrieve the offending container. And it was hardly envisaged that thousands of junior-league pagans would be cursing and hurling their plastic bottles into the briny just because it was written in a book! All magic has an element of risk to the practitioner and time would be better spent making sure they understood what sort of spell they were undertaking – and if you don’t understand it, then don’t do it!!

REVIEWS:

The ‘Traditional Witchcraft’ series provides varied information about what it means to be a practising witch in modern times. In places, it feels like a guide, or self-help book. But there is much more to it than that. What strikes me is the amount of science running through the book. To understand nature is to live as a part of nature, and ultimately to become one with its changing patterns and cycles, to synchronise one’s own psychic or magical energy with natural tidal forces and the elements. So a witch, like no other religious practitioner that I’m aware of, must study her environment carefully, and attune her life to it. For a witch devoted to the sea and seashore, that involves learning much about the tides, weather, flora and fauna of the coastline, lunar cycles, as well as the folklore and myths of the sea:

“The world of the sea-witch is not confined to the shore and the water margin. It is a multi-dimensional world of light and shadow, of reality and illusion, where we have moved into the subjective world of the spirit – a rich fishing-ground for those who trawl in these inner seas. The Mystery is now within and around us. By immersing ourselves in the world of myth and legend to such a degree, it has become as tangible to us as the ‘real’ world, forming a continual back-ground to our daily life.”  The learning is multi-disciplinary, and feels almost as if one was studying a textbook written by a poet. Yet the science collated in these pages is interesting, and pragmatic. Intermingled with the factual information is much about rituals, superstitions, beach treasures to collect for magical means and, of course, spell-casting. The witchcraft seems real enough – the engagement in the rituals and practice requiring as much faith as any other religion as to its efficacy.

Not everyone tuned into the sea can physically live near it, of course, and the book also provides advice for the budding sea-witch who lives inland, even in an urban environment. Much information is provided on how to build a sea garden sanctuary, away from prying eyes, to conduct ritual and relax in. The tides still extend their reach inland, as science has shown through its study of the remarkable tidal recalculation made by inland oysters. Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore is like a Radio 4 feature about witches – not that one could ever imagine that happening, or imagine a witch providing ‘Thought for the Day’ on the Today programme! But it has that sense of quiet wonder about it, supported by education, knowledge and, above all, wisdom.  Andy Lloyd Book Reviews

This book recognises that we can’t all live in picturesque cottages by the coast and that if we light a huge Fire of Azrael (made famous in Dion Fortune’s Book The Sea Priestess) on some popular tourist beach we are unlikely to be left alone to peacefully scry into its embers.  Instead, Melusine offers a selection of easy pathworkings and visualisations plus traditional folk spells and that you can whisper quietly or just go through mentally without saying anything aloud while sitting by the seashore or standing before the waves. The book also suggests creating a small garden containing such things as shingle, bits of driftwood, shells and plants that are happy growing on dunes and shingle or inland. Even if you live in a town or city, you can spend time in your sea garden and imagine you are by the coast.  Lucya Szachnowski | Badwitch

Such a wonderful book! It’s definitely a must-have in your sea-witchery library. This book is not just for those who live along the seashore (because it concerns the seashore and weather lore) but also by rivers or estuaries and there is even something for those who live a distance from the sea. You can even find details of how to recreate a sea garden at home.  The author gives us some practical ‘Magical Tasks and exercises’ throughout the book and there is also a little spell book at the back that is full of useful tasks and activities for all occasions. It was amazing. Claudia Loureiro

Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore by Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books.  http://www.moon-books-net

Book Reviews

Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living

With the number of books available nowadays that address the solitary practitioner, it’s surprising to see how very few of them focus on one concrete common fact – that most of us witches (or pagans) do not live in a small cottage in the countryside, surrounded by fairy-tale forests and herbs. That many of us live in flats, inside blocks, in the middle of the city. If you are lucky enough, you’ll have a small house with a garden. If you are even luckier – and your job allows you to do so – you’ll live in the suburbs. Even though most of the books mention that likely possibility, they do it in a rather ‘patronising’ way – IF one cannot go out to gather herbs, there’s the ‘possibility’ to use those in our kitchen. Personally I consider that that’s showing the reader that “it’s not very nice” but “it should work”, making him or her not appreciate what she’s using and regarding it as a “second hand element” (and we all know how important it is, for our practice, the feeling we put into something.)

In Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living, Melusine Draco dedicates the whole of this small volume to address this situation. Mainly offering a useful way to develop our Craft practice in what she describes as “an hostile environment” – instead of just stating the obvious inconveniences that we have. The surprising bit is that she doesn’t achieve this through the seeking of ‘exceptions’, of ‘country-like’ places in the city – she encourages the witch to rediscover the city, to look into it, and to change her (or his) attitude rather than getting stressed by the daily noises coming from the street. In short, she encourages us to make the best of what we’ve got. She guides us to small places in our city or our own house that may have been overlooked. In each chapter she also offers a useful exercise related to the subject.  Alder Lyncurium – Wiccan Rede

This book offers a starting point for how to do this in a modern city environment. It is very much about my own kind of magic, the kind I try to write about in A Bad Witch’s Blog – practical witchcraft for the real world. I recommend this book for any witch who is struggling to find their magical way in the big city. Lucya Szachnowski/Starza | Badwitch

Adapt and thrive. That’s the message traditionally-trained Craft practitioner Draco has for readers. Rather than withdrawing to practice time-honored rituals in secret, she encourages modern witches to open their windows, explore their neighborhoods, put a pot of herbs on their kitchen window sills, light a candle, and summon their ingenuity.

Carefully distinguishing her practice from Wicca, she encourages modern witches to care less about worshipping nature with elaborate rituals, and to focus instead on developing a personal relationship with the physical environment. She thinks of herself as a caretaker, rather than a manipulator, of the natural world. There’s a lyrical quality to her writing which lifts the reader into the modern magical world she describes. She provides basic information about herbs, magic pouches, talismans, pagan holidays, spells, and pathworking. More importantly, this is a handbook for restoring sanity to an overcrowded and cramped urban lifestyle. The magic ingredients are creativity and fun. Consider displaying it with books about herbs, urban birdwatching, city parks, and Feng Shui.  Anna Jedrziewski | InannaWorks.com

This book is for the student of Traditional Witchcraft, not Wicca or other neo-pagan disciplines (although it is certainly useful for all). The distinction is thoroughly explained, much to the readers benefit. If you’re tired of books filled with the usual neo-pagan fluff and are looking for something that gets “right down to it,” this is the book for you. It is accessible, well written, enjoyable, and often humorous. The common sense approach makes the reader the beneficiary of the authors many years of magical experience, and it quickly becomes obvious that she has already done a lot of the trial-and-error work that will save the reader/practitioner a lot of valuable time.

As the title suggests, it is for students and practitioners living in urban areas. Not only does it dispel the myth that one has to live in the middle of the forest to be a “real witch,” but offers a lot of valuable advice for a successful practice while living in the city. The book is being republished as Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living, but the contents will be identical, so dont spend the extra money purchasing a used copy. A pleasure to read and a treasure of useful information and techniques!  Chris Grabarkiewctz USA

The author of these books was an initiate of the late Bob Clay-Egerton’s Coven of the Scales and she has been a practising occultist, magical teacher and writer on esoteric subjects for over twenty years. These two books are the first volumes in a series on modern traditional witchcraft for beginners. Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living, as the title suggests, is a guide to being a witch today in a town or city environment and still connect to nature, the elemental forces and the land. The other book is for those who live near or often visit the coast and wish to magically commune with the sea and its energies. You will not find any Wiccan Rede or invocations to Cernunnos and Ceridwen here and the featured charms are mostly Christianised ones as traditionally found in historical witchcraft. Both of the books are written in a down-to-earth style with a refreshing common sense approach and are rooted in the folk traditions and Old Ways of the British Isles. Recommended.  Michael Howard : The Cauldron

Book Reviews for Pan

PAN: Dark Lord of the Forest and Horned God of the Witches

As you read this, Pan is opening his strange eyes with those lucid, rectangular pupils which gives him huge peripheral vision. He is observing you very quietly. Look up from the page, look around. He is here, now. Believe what I say!
Also be aware that at this same moment there is an Inner Pan within your psyche who yearns to be aware of things from this wider perspective, who aches to take you toward the dark recesses of your mind, and the wild, tangled undergrowth of your unconscious. As you make your own antic path into the Wild Woods in search of the Great Pan, your nape hairs might prickle, you might see things at the new edges of your vision and strange realms will open up. If you have a frisson of fear – you are on the right path. Keep going. There is light and love there too, in abundance.
Melusine Draco’s book is filled with pleasing seeds and roots that she has collected from obscure, musty corners of the mythological and literary forest. Just brooding upon them ensures that they will be planted and grow in your consciousness, often in startling ways. And if you ever find yourself on hilltops in Wiltshire and see an elegantly ageing and once-handsome chappie chanting: Io Pan, Io Pan, Io Pan, Pan Pan! then you’re probably hearing me putting to good use the practical evocations she gives.                  Alan Richardson, author of Priestess and The Old Sod, biographies of Dion Fortune and Bill Gray

A fascinating and interesting read packed full of historical and mythological information and knowledge. Draco has researched her subject well, illuminating Pan as never before. His mystique and folklore jump off the page and make you yearn to find him in the forest!  Draco is a well respected instructor in British Old Craft and she shares her wisdom in her many books on traditional witchcraft and magic. This latest book richly adds to her collection. A must read for those interested in learning more about the Horned God with practical exercises to enhance the reader’s consciousness along the way. Enter the woods – if you dare! Sarah-Beth Watkins, Publisher Chronos Books

Just finished this book and I highly recommend it. I’m a polytheist so I don’t believe in one overall horned god and I’m happy to say this book can appeal to all. I’ve studied Pan’s lore for many years yet there are pieces of lore in this book I have not seen and also insight that made me stop and think. Great book. Pan & Hecate FB page

Pagan Portals- Pan: Dark Lord of the Forest and Horned God of the Witches by Melusine Draco introduces us to Pan and his many gifts. We are given a short ancient prayer or ritual to Pan to in order to ask for visions or gifts of prophecy or even theatrical criticism all of which fall under Pan’s areas of expertise. We are shown the history of Pan through Ancient Greece to his transformation by Christians into the devil and also his journey to Britain and our modern times. We are shown hymns to the god Pan. We are given a lot of information about Pan. I enjoyed the magical exercises at the end of each chapter designed to bring us more knowledge of Pan and his energies. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Pan, his history and magical practices that could be used to connect to him. I acknowledge that I received this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. Rose Pettit | Insights Into Books

A thoroughly enjoyable journey through Pan’s forest of legend and myth as expressed through art, literature, poetry and spiritual beliefs from ancient through to modern times. As always, Melusine Draco’s fine scholarship and insightful perspectives elevate what might have been a dry academic study to that of intriguing discovery. Also appreciated are the author’s inclusion of personal experiences connected with the Dark Lord. Highly recommended!  M Orlando

From the start, I was impressed with this book. The author did a fantastic job of researching the material she used as sources, including many passages to prove the points she was making. I liked her informative writing style and thought this was a really interesting look at Pan through the ages and different cultures. A lot of times, books like this can quickly become redundant and lose my interest, but this one didn’t. I enjoyed reading this and felt like I learned quite a bit from it by the end. If you are interested in the horned god, this is a book that you don’t want to miss.  Ionia Froment | Goodreads /NetGalley 

Melusine Draco’s Pan: Dark Lord of the Forest and Horned God of the Witches is a fantastic little introduction to one of the most beloved gods in paganism and witchcraft. Exploring Pan throughout history, mythology, literature, religion and the craft, Melusine traces Pan from classical era history to Christianity’s adoption of his image for that of their Devil. She showcases Pan in his role of the Horned God of the Witches in the writings and beliefs of Margaret Murray, Dion Fortune, Robert Cochrane, Nigel Jackson, Aleister Crowley, Gerald Gardner and more. Melusine also shares some of her personal gnosis and experiences with Pan in this book and she isn’t shy to delve into both Pan’s free-spirited and joyful side as well as his darker wild side.
The book touches on Pan’s myths, his home of Arcadia and his companions such as nymphs and satyrs. The book is full of a wide variety of classical prayers, paeans and hymns to Pan, including some that I’ve never came across. One of the things I found the most interesting was her comparison of traditional prayers to Pan versus certain Catholic prayers of the Church. Melusine does a great job of providing accurate historical information on Pan without the dry and boring writing style of academia scholars. Falling just barely under 100 pages long this book can easily be read in one sitting and is perfect for those of you out there with limited time to read or that might just have a short attention span.  Mat Auryn : Patheos

I found this book to be a fascinating read. The author opens with The Orphic Hymn to Pan. She talks about the Coven of the Scales, of which she is the Principal Tutor, they worship Aegocerus ‘the Goat-God’ and not Cernunnos. Ms. Draco puts forth the question, “How did the pre-Olympian Deity find his way into traditional witchcraft of Britain?” No other foreign Deity has been added to Traditional British Old Craft, so why Pan?  Ms. Draco goes into some great depth on the history of Pan. She does this in a way that is very smooth and never a dry read. It is interesting to think that because in early times art was a way of teaching, the early church was able to pick Pan as a stand-in for their Devil. People didn’t know how to read, so the church used art to teach them what to fear and what to love. So, they had to change the landscape. You can’t fear a scruffy looking being playing the pipes surrounded by half-naked beauties in a lush green valley. The church changed his surroundings.
Ms. Draco writes about the resurgence of interest that lasted into the early 1920’s. Here she talks about some of the writings that many pagans grew up reading or having read to them by their parents. One of these stories is that of The Wind in the Willows By Kenneth Grahame. ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ is very much the story of Pan appearing to the characters of the story. He looks like a protector of the wild places. The way this piece reads you feel a closeness to Pan that is calm and beautiful.                                 I also learned all the different names of the different types of nymphs from this book about Pan. I find that the history of Pan, in all the different ways he was seen, to be fascinating. It becomes an attractive subject, in such a way that if you would let it, it could quickly become a rabbit hole for you to fall down. Ms. Draco’s book Pan: Dark Lord of the Forest and Horned God of the Witches is both entertaining and educational for those Pagan’s seeking more knowledge of an old God, that seems older than even the Olympian Gods. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Draco’s books and in learning more about the “Goat-God.”   Dawn Borries | PaganPages

Pan is published by Moon Books as a companion title to Seeking the Primal Goddess – both by Melusine Draco  http://www.moon-books.net