Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Brewmaster

     Some of you may recall in the autumn a piece I wrote about our return to the art of wine making (Going to Rack) with Graham's latest creations awaiting maturity.

     Well the time has come for the wine to be carefully siphoned from its demi-johns and into bottles. But not for us the new bottles and colourful labels, oh no, we have always been into re-using rather than throwing stuff away (as anyone who has visited our home will be well aware), so Graham has been stockpiling a variety of bottles for the last few months, and now was the time to use them.

     This turned out to be a job for both of us, as once the wine is in flow from the demi-john, it is difficult to stop it, so you quickly whip the siphon out of one bottle and into the next, and that turned out to be my job, together with getting wine running up my arms and dripping on the carpet. Graham did manage to 'theme' the bottles, so empty whiskey bottles now contain Carrot Whiskey, one kind of red wine bottles has the Autumn wine, and another has the Bramble, with the cider bottles being allocated the Ginger wine.
     And of course when the bottles are full, there is always some over for tasting.

    Which sometimes goes better than others.

    I think we can count that as a success.

    And yes, Graham was drinking out of the ceremonial jam jar.

    (I think the Bramble has turned out the nicest - you can really taste the fruit.)

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

St Expidite Prayers

      This saint, who is more than likely completely fictional, is prayed to any time you need quick or instant help with a problem. The name 'Expidite' means 'do it quickly' or 'hurry', so he is invoked to give quick results in all sorts of circumstances.
     The following is a prayer for help in a financial crisis - I found it at where there are lots of prayers for different purposes:

     Take a white and a green candle and scribe your name up the length of the candle from bottom to top. Light the candles and pray:

     I call forth the Power and the presence of St Expidite in my time of financial trouble. I offer my body, heart, mind and soul upon your altar of light. I have faith and trust and complete confidence that you will be my strength in this time of need, 
    Quickly come to my assistance.
    Bring to me [say what you need ] and find a way to bring this to me as soon as possible.
    My financial need is urgent. Be my light and guide in this situation, so that I may live with peace, love, prosperity and abundance, and in the praise of God.

(You must now make a promise to give something to St Expidite when your need is fulfilled and you must carry out this promise.)

According to Vodu belief you must give him flowers, or a member of the household  'will pass'.

     And here is a quick one from the book 'Hoodoo - Conjuration - Witchcraft - Rootwork' a collection of folklore material by Harry Middleton Hyatt

Our dear Martyr and Protector, St Expidite
You know what is necessary and what I urgently need
I beg you to intercede before the Holy Trinity,
That by your grace my request will be granted
[State what you need]
May I receive your blessings and favours
In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Vodu practitioners use a red candle to invoke St Expidite, and remember to give him some flowers when your request is accomplished.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Lurking in the Layby

     Every morning around seven a.m. Graham takes our two blue merle rough collies (China and Maeve) out for a walk. They usually follow roughly the same route, going down the lane towards where Graham used to work (the factory is gone and it is now a storage depot for static caravans), then turning off through a gap in the hedge and across the fields to the strip of woodland which runs from the river bank up to the main road.
     This morning it was a bright and sunny spring morning and Graham was following his usual route heading down Brickyard Lane before turning off into the fields, when a car passed him and pulled up in the layby just in front of him. Graham thought this was either someone stopping to use their phone, or possibly another dog walker, as this is a popular circuit for many of the locals.
     A man got out of the car carrying an expensive looking and serious camera. Again nothing unusual in that, there are good views over the rolling farmland down to the Humber and across to the far bank. But the man came towards Graham and said, 'Oh thank goodness, I've been after this shot for ages!'
     Graham looked at him, waiting for a bit more explanation, and thinking, did the man want Graham to wait out of the way while the man took some photo's of the view, but no. He wanted a shot of Graham and the dogs walking across the field - if Graham didn't mind. It turned out he had spotted Graham and the dogs some time ago, but wasn't quick enough to take a photo and had kept coming back to try and catch him. 'I'll let you have a copy, if it comes out ok.' he said.
     Fame at last?

I was just going to put one picture up, the top one with the two girls gazing adoringly up at their master. But the bottom picture with Maeve having behind her ears scratched and looking as if she has a huge grin on her face was just too good not to share.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Confessions of a Witch

     OK this may ramble a bit, so I should get yourself a cup of coffee. And maybe a biscuit, or cake - yes, cake is always good.
     See?! And I haven't started yet!
     Alright: You know how every day I try and find something Witchy or Pagan or magical or interestingly alternative to put up on our Facebook page? Well I hope you do because most of the folk who read this will have come via the Facebook page.
     Oh heck, this is so hard!
     Right, well today is the anniversary of Issobel Gowdie's first confession of Witchcraft at Aulderne in Scotland 1662 'without torture', a happening so rare that it was noted in the records.
     And her confessions (four in all) are so detailed that they are compelling reading even after all this time. Not to mention the fact that she gives details of spells and magical workings which are either unique, or recorded for the first time. So little written about Witches historically, is in their own words, but the 'confessions' is purely the words of Issobell Gowdie, none of the questions posed to her are given, we can only surmise those from the answers of Issobell which are recorded.
     The transcripts of her four confessions can be found in the appendix to a rather dry three volume set of books recording Scottish legal cases from the 17th century (Ancient Criminal Trials of Scotland by Robert Pitcairne). They are stuck in the appendix because they are outside the remit of the main work, but they obviously fascinated the author and he felt they were so bizarre and intriguing that they had to be recorded.
     Also the author of those volumes was being sponsored in his work by another well-known author, Sir Walter Scott, and Pitcairne knew that Scott collected examples of folk lore and Witch magic (which Scott eventually published in his own book Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft where he makes reference to Isobel Gowdie).
     Last year I came across those three volumes with their incredible appendix and decided that perhaps it was time to give modern Witches the chance to read the words and learn some of the spells of a historical and almost legendary Witch. So I put them together in a book, made the language and spelling more accessible, added extensive notes and extra chapters expanding on the practise of magic and Witchcraft as revealed through the confessions, and in modern Witch practise.
     So here is my dilemma: I have written this book about Issobell Gowdie which relates directly to the post I have put on Facebook. So this is the ideal place to get some publicity for my book - so do I do it?
     Aaaaaargh! No, I didn't, because I find it soooo difficult to do the self-publicity thing. I come from a generation who were told 'It is wrong to boast.' and publicising my own stuff feels like that.
     So instead of a simple line at the bottom of the post telling you 'Issobell Gowdie - Confessions of a Witch' by C P Sempers is £5.95 and available from Raven, you have to read all this