Saturday, 21 December 2013

Happy Winter Celebration of Your Choice!

At this time of year when everyone is wishing each other 'Happy Christmas!' we sometimes get friends and relatives unsure what to say to Graham and me: 'Happy Yule'?, 'Happy Solstice'? or as I am a proud and long-standing player of World of Warcraft, 'Happy Winterveil'?

To be honest I am happy to respond to any of these (and more) because it is the sentiment behind these greetings which is what everyone is trying to express:
'Be Happy!' they are saying, 'Have fun, Enjoy yourself!'.
And that is what every religion has been expressing around this time.

Frankly one of the things I love about being a Pagan and Witch is that I can celebrate EVERYTHING!

Pagans have always been inclusive of all deities and philosophies, and you find this inclusiveness from ancient Rome and Egypt to Scandinavia and to modern Pagans too.

You want to celebrate a festival? That looks like fun, so we'll do it too!
Adding another deity and celebration to the calendar is no hardship what so ever.

And at certain times of the year you will see that many religions all recognise a special time and want to express it in their own way.

This is why our modern 'Christmas' is such a conglomeration of traditions and beliefs. We have influences in there from many different religions, from folklore and legends, and traditions so old and so apparently universal that their origins are lost in the vastness of pre-history.

So don't worry about offending me by wishing me a 'Merry Christmas' - you won't, and I will.

And may the Gods bless us, every one.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Winter Shaman - Part 2

In 17th century Britain after the revolution, when Cromwell and the puritans came to power, Christmas and all its festivities were banned as Pagan and Heathen and nothing to do with christianity.

And he was so right.

Just about all the stories and traditions associated with Christmas and the birth of Christ are pinched from older religions, traditions and beliefs - or are downright fiction (lies).
For a start no one knows when and where Jesus was born. The story of the Roman census and the Holy Family having to travel to Bethlehem is a complete fiction. It was devised simply to make it appear that the birth of Jesus fulfilled a prophesy by Isiah.
The date of Christmas, the 25th of December, and many of the details surrounding the birth, such as being born in a stable (cave) between the ox and the ass, and the cry 'The bridegroom cometh!' were all lifted straight from the myths of Mithras, the chief rival religion to christianity in early Rome. Some scholars argue that it was sheer fluke that christianity was chosen as the state religion of Rome rather than Mithraism.
Decorating the home with evergreens around the Winter Solstice was another tradition that goes back to ancient Rome and the fun and games of Saturnalia. As does the tradition of masters and servants swapping positions - still seen to a lesser extent in the modern office christmas party.

So let us have a look at the character and attributes of the mysterious Gift Bringer.

For a start - why mysterious?

Part of the magic of the Gift Bringer is that they are not seen to be giving the gifts. They give anonymously, the only sign that they have been are the gifts they leave.
St Nicholas hid outside the house and threw money either through an open window, or down the chimney. By good luck (or magic) these coin bags fell either into the shoes or stockings of the young women they were intended for. Father Christmas also enters the house down the chimney and leaves gifts in socks and stockings.
I remember as a child asking how Father Christmas could get into houses which had no chimney. But his magical nature means that despite his apparent size he can enter homes even through the smallest keyhole.
St Nicholas travels on his white horse, while Father Christmas and Santa Claus have a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Many of the ancient gods have chariots or mounts which fly across the sky, from Ra in his boat to Apollo, Athene and of course Freya in her chariot drawn by cats, and Odin on his eight legged horse Sleipnir.

Another of the attributes of the Gift Bringer is that magically they know exactly what gifts to bring. Almost as if they know the receiver intimately.
Over the last 100 years or so, it has become popular for children to write letters to Father Christmas telling him exactly what they would like to receive (letters read with great interest by their parents). These letters are merely a modern manifestation of an ancient tradition: petitioning a deity, saint or spirit for special help or wishes.

So why call the Gift Bringer 'the Winter Shaman'?
Because many of the attributes of the Gift Bringer are also attributes of a tribal or divine shaman - and the supreme shaman in the Northern Tradition is Odin or Woden.

The Shaman is one who can pass between the worlds of men and spirits carrying messages and bringing back gifts. Odin hung as dead for three days on the world tree and returned to life bringing the gift of the knowledge of the runes. He was known also to journey vast distances in the spirit world in the blink of an eye, while appearing to sleep as if dead.

The reindeer are a creature of the cold northern lands used for transport and to pull sleighs for thousands of years. Why should Father Christmas use reindeer, a creature which has been extinct in the British Isles since before the Romans came? The roots of this attribute certainly go back into the mists of our Pagan ancestors beliefs.
The white horse of St Nicholas echoes the mount of Odin, his grey Sleipnir, swifter than any other mount and able to ride through thick and thin, between the worlds and through the Winter sky, calling the Wild Hunt to follow (the Wild Hunt also rides the night sky around the Solstice).

The green of his coat is the colour of evergreen plants, reminding the world that life continues and the world will bloom again. He wears fur because it is practical in the cold north and he is a hunter and shaman who has respect for the spirits of the animals killed.

He brings gifts which appear magically, and is never seen because he is in spirit form.

He is the servant of the community, doing their work as he passes between the worlds, through matter and spirit, down chimneys and through key holes.

Bringing fun and merriment:
                                                And a Merry Solstice to all !

Sunday, 8 December 2013

The Winter Shaman or Who is Father Christmas?

The Winter Solstice has been a time both of trepidation and celebration for humanity for thousands of years
The power of the sun grows less and less, the world gets colder and colder. The leaves have fallen from the trees, all vegetation is dead or dying. The whole earth appears to be under a sentence of death.

Then just when all seems lost, the sun is reborn, the days begin to lengthen again, the sun is returning!

Surely that demands a celebration, and so it has done for as long as there have been people to observe this magical turn around which we call the Winter Solstice.

There are deities associated with the Solstice, personifications of the celestial drama:
There is the child born now, the reborn Sun
The Mother of the child
And there is the Gift Bringer

It is the Gift Bringer who alerts humanity to the imminent birth.

In the New Testament it is Wise Men from the East who travel through many lands asking where they can find the magical child. Their questions awaken hope and anticipation - and also fear in King Herod who sees the child as a threat to his earthly power and kingdom.

The gifts these Wise Men bring are symbols which represent the powers of the Sun God:
Gold, the shining metal of the Sun, symbol of wealth, power and kingship
Frankincense, the incense offering to the bright Sun God who lights the day
Myrrh, incense and perfume used in the preservation of the corpse, the perfume of the hidden god, the Sun at Midnight, the god in the Underworld.

The Sun God is born in a cave (in Japan the Sun Goddess Amaterasu also hides her beauty in a cave and has to be coaxed out to bring light to the world) and at his birth the cry rings out: 'Lo! The Bridegroom cometh!'. Not the sort of cry which greets a new born human baby, but the cry which tells his followers that the Sun God leaps from his mother's womb fully adult and ready for battle against the powers of darkness.
In Aztec myths this is depicted in extremely graphic terms as Huitzilopochtli leaps out fully armed and firing arrows (sunbeams) in all directions which kill his sister Coyolxauhqui, the Moon Goddess.

The gift bringers sometimes foreshadow the birth, searching the land and preparing the people for the great event. Sometimes they appear on the day of the birth, or they may even be chasing along behind, late for the birth and giving gifts to all as they do not know which child is the potential Sun God.

In Britain we have Father Christmas, a vigorous elder dressed in a long green robe trimmed with fur, who leaves gifts to be found on Christmas morning.
The red coat our modern Santa Claus wears was put on him by the Coca-Cola company in the 19th century as an advertising gimmick.
In Belgium and the Netherlands Sinter Klaas, Saint Nicholas, leaves gifts in shoes and stockings on his saint's day, the 6th of December - he has translated into the American Santa Claus.
In Italy Befana, who looks for all the work like the classic image of a Witch, hurries along in January, dropping gifts as she tries eternally to catch up with the holy babe.

Although all of these gift bringers have been adopted as part of the christian festival of Christmas, their roots and origins are far, far older.

To be continued .....

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Raven Catalogues On Line

After a fair bit of fiddling about, our son Mike has managed to make a place online where you can view and download the current set of the Main Raven Catalogues to print your own copy if you wish.

They don't look exactly like the ones we send through the post as some of the Fonts I use didn't translate apparently. They will also be a bit strange to read as they are designed to be printed as a double sided document, so the pages will appear to be out of order. But if you can't find your copy and need to find out prices etc, it is a way of doing so.

Of course if you would prefer me to send you copies through the post, just give me a ring on (01482) 632512, or drop me an email at, or message me on facebook.

Oh just a quick reminder that any orders placed this month will include a FREE empowered Charm Stone - you can get a random one or choose from, Love Drawing, Money Drawing, Health, Good Luck or Wishing (further stones are available at only 50p each.

We haven't put the Flyer catalogues up as they usually contain lines which are limited stocks. But STILL IN STOCK at the moment are Raven Calendars for 2014 Witchy Calendar, Fairy Calendar, Celtic Calendar, and our new Laminated Posters of The Wiccan Rede (long and Short versions), Charge of the Goddess, Charge of the God all at £1.99 each

And of course you can treat yourself or a loved one to a Special Surprise Parcel at any time - you choose how much you want to spend we can make Special Surprise Parcels from £5.00 upwards and if you are sending it to a friend we will even include a special greeting card with your own message FREE.

Don't forget there will be £4.00 post and packing on any order you place with us, so if having a Surprise Parcel remember to say whether the amount you are spending is to include p & p (eg £20 including p&p will mean a £16 parcel plus £4.00 p&p, £20 plus p&p will total £24.00)

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Hurry Up and Wait

There are times when no matter how much you want to get on with stuff, you just can't. And today is one of those days for me.

We recently had a new photocopier installed - hooray! Which will do colour photocopies - even more hooray! But they are expensive (eleven times dearer than the black and white copies - boo) which means we can't afford to put colour piccies in the catalogue just yet.

The copies are lovely, nice and crisp. And having the colour facility has meant we have been able to launch some new products, laminated posters and calendars with colour decorations. And I have LOTS of ideas for all sorts of fab new bits and bobs.

Which is great as long as the photocopier is actually working.

Now one of the things with working for yourself is that you often end up working when other people are not. And weekends are a fab time for us to catch up with work, complicated orders, making stuff, developing ideas etc. So this morning the photocopier ran out of black toner - no warning just 'I need toner now! Feed me or I will just sit here and hum and ignore you!'

So do the photocopier service people work on a Saturday? No, don't be silly.

So now we can't complete orders because there are items which need photocopying and of course it will be Monday before I can order any toner and therefore Tuesday at the earliest before I get any. You may ask why I haven't got a spare toner bottle for just this kind of emergency. I asked the service people several times for spare toner, 'Oh don't worry,' they assured me 'We can get it out to you really quickly.'
On Monday I shall be ordering TWO bottles of toner so that we do have a spare.

So I can't photocopy, don't worry there are loads of things I can get on with. I need to create a one off spell kit for a customer. One of the components which would be ideal for this spell kit is a Nutmeg charm, great I can get on with preparing the charm. So I find the Nutmeg jar - it is empty. It will be Monday before I can get out to the supplier to buy some more nutmegs (the irony being, of course, we went past there on Friday when we were visiting another supplier for packaging materials).

Oh well, even if I compose the kit I still can't print out the instructions anyway - because the photocopier isn't working.

Right only one thing for it - I am going to play WoW.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Love Spells are Tricky

Because of my work I am often asked for advice on spells for various purposes. Sometimes it is money matters, finding a job, getting back money that was loaned out, healing spells, spells to get justice or stop bullying of one kind or another

But the spells I find the most tricky to deal with are love spells as you very rarely find out all the circumstances which might be relevant.

There are two kinds of love spells: the first is where you are seeking to draw a suitable lover into your life - and with these do remember to put in there somewhere 'an it harm none'. The second type of love spell (and this is probably the more common one) is where you have seen someone you fancy and the spells are designed to draw that person and that person only into your life and become your lover/spouse.

Do not kid yourself that this is 'white' magic, it most definitely is not. These spells seek to subvert the will, choice and inclinations of another person.

Sometimes I am amazed by how much people will kid themselves in order to justify what they are doing. And the times I have heard 'It is only a love spell!'

One woman explained that she needed a spell to draw her 'soul mate' to her. After some questioning it turned out she had her eye on a chap she passed regularly in the street on her way to work and they had literally only said 'Hello.' in passing.
She knew that he was married with a small child (she had made it her business to follow him and find out about his circumstances) but was adamant that once she had got him, he would realise that they were soul mates and meant to be together.
Never mind that she would break up his existing, happy, relationship and deprive his child of its father.

Another chap cam to us to draw his wife back into their relationship, she had gone off with another man, but he knew this was just a silly mistake and he loved her and wanted her back.
After more questioning I found out that this was not the first time she had 'run off', that she was a teenager (he was in his 50's) and had gone to the same chap that she had left him for before, and the way the husband had got her back last time sounded very much like forcible abduction.
 The young couple had fled the district and none of her relations would give the husband their new address.
I refused to help as I knew where my sympathies lay.

Then there are those who are not sure what they want. They want a certain man or woman, but only on their own terms. For example they might want their partner back but only if he gives up gambling/taking drugs/ seeing other women.
Fair enough. But DON'T do a love spell to bind the chap to you if you are then going to be pushing him away because he is not behaving as you want him to do.

If you want someone enough that you are prepared to do a love spell to get them, then you take them lock, stock and barrel. Good and bad. If you aren't prepared to do that then you do not love them enough to justify working a spell on them.

And just in case you are tempted I will remind you of the rule of three :
           Everything you do of a magical nature returns to you three times over,
           the good that you do and the evil that you do.
If you do a spell to make someone love you you must live with the results. You could be condemned to three times the happiness you expected, but equally may well also find that you will get three times the heartbreak because of it

Friday, 1 November 2013

Witch Crafts

It is lovely when I get the chance to be creative in one way or another.

Sometimes is is creative writing: taking a magical slant on an everyday activity for example. Cooking is something we do everyday, and it can be very magical taking raw materials and transforming them into a delicious meal, but you can add more magic to your cooking for another dimension to the task - pouring healing energy into a soup for example.

Today I have been doing things which might be considered more conventionally 'crafty'. We have just created our own A4 calendars for next year, one with a Celtic theme, another Witchy one, and this morning I was laminating the papers to make them robust and wipe clean so they will stay looking good for the whole of 2014.
And while I was laminating them I suddenly thought that is might be nice to have a version with a Fairy theme. So I shall be having a go at that within the next few days, We have a lovely old book which has some fab 19th century colour illustrations which I think would be just the job. My main problem is finding the book which is hidden within plain sight on one of our many bookshelves - and we have bookshelves in just about every room in the house.

When I'd finished that I went on to start making some large wooden altar pentacles. I had worked out the design earlier in the week and drawn it up in pencil on one of the circular pine plaques I had chosen to use. The main part of the design is, of course, the interlocking pentacle, but I have incorporated symbols for the God and Goddess, and two snakes representing the powers of Yin and Yang (the opposite and complimentary powers which create balance within the universe). As the pentacle is the symbol of the Earth element within the magic circle, I wanted to also reinforce that idea and have done so by including three further symbols for the element of Earth. The first is the triangular symbol found in ritual magic, the second is the circular symbol used to represent the sphere of Earth on the Qabbalistic Tree and the third symbol is a very ancient one found all over the world which is a square with a smaller square at each of its corners. This symbol represents the magical castle with its four watchtowers.

Once I had drawn the design onto the wooden plaque, I then used my pyrography tool to burn the design into the wood. I love this process, the smoke rising from the wood smells of bonfires, with the occasional puff of sweetly aromatic pine resin.
This part takes a while as the process of burning the wood cools the tip of the tool down so you periodically have to wait for it to heat up again. Also as the wood was quite resinous in parts, when a good piece of resin burns it sometimes makes a high pitched chirruping noise, rather like a small bird. The dogs had to keep coming to investigate where I was hiding this little creature, so I had to put my tool down to avoid being knocked, or singeing a doggy nose.

Graham has been out collecting some wood for us to make into palm wands. I have an idea in my head about trying to incorporate some gem beads into these - I am not quite sure yet how to do this, but I am looking forward to having a bit of an experiment.

We have a file full of ideas for magical artifacts, tools, charms and much more. Just need to decide which one(s) to try next.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Do I Practise Witchcraft?

I was asked the other day if I still practise Witchcraft. I was a little surprised at the question as I run a mail order company supplying Pagans and Witches

I suppose it is possible to do this without practising magic/witchcraft yourself, but definitely not in my case. I love creating spells and working them, I love the magic of being out under the moon and stars doing Witchy things.

Every day I put up a snippet on Facebook and these are mainly to do with pagan worship, spells or magical or inspirational ideas.

Witchcraft is not a hobby or something I do at the weekends. I am a Witch full time, to the extent thqat I usually don't even think about it.

The other day we had a new photocopier fitted which had to be linked to my work pc. I hadn't given that a thought (except for tidying my desk a bit) until the engineer commented on our unusual collection of books - my pc is surrounded by bookshelves which reach nearly to the ceiling.

I suppose the collection is unusual to most people: folklore, voodoo, Witchcraft, herbalism, magic etc. Whereas to me these are part of my normal working day (and fun time too). I love researching through old books and coming across a magical gem which I can either try as it is or adapt into something which is practical and workable.

I do look out for the phases of the moon and work rituals at the full moon and for the festivals of the pagan year. But I don't make a big deal about this, I just get on and do them, because that is what being a Witch is about.

Being a Witch is not a theoretical subject. To be a Witch you must practise your Craft.

And I most certainly do.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Canticle of the Creatures

This is part of a prayer written by St Francis of Assisi towards the end of his life. It was written in sections and this piece was the first part of his prayer. He added other sections throughout his life, the last part being an attempt to bring peace between the Mayor and Bishop of Assisi, not really relevant to an ecological prayer. This could be looked on as his own personal prayer.

This is the section which I feel has most significance to ecological needs - and can be used by both christians and Pagans. It would be a lovely addition to any Earth Healing Circle or could be adapted to create an Earth Magic Circle

It is sometimes known as 'A Song of Brother Sun'

Praised be you, my Lord, with all your creatures,
Especially Sir Brother Sun, who is the day and through whom you give us light
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
And bears a likeness of you, Most High One.

Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars:
In heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be you, My Lord, through Brother Wind,
And through the Air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,
Through which you give sustenance to your creatures.

Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Water,
Who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be you, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
Through whom you light the night:
And he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth,
Who sustains us and governs us
And who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Angel Magic

As the 29th of September is the feast of St Michael and All Angels I thought it was appropriate to write a little about angel magic.

It is nice to have a way of communicating with your personal Guardian Angel, in ancient Greece this was referred to as your personal Demon, which shows that angels and demons were once one and the same. This is spoken about in some of the Apocryphal books of the bible and in christian myth.

According to legend Lucifer was the favourite angel of God and so had more leeway than other angels. However Lucifer got arrogant and decided he could take over from God and organised a band of rebel angels to seize power. God sent Michael as the head of his own army to battle the rebels and Michael won. Lucifer and all the rebels were cast out of heaven and consigned to the management of Hell.

Again according to legend you are allotted two spirits at birth, the guardian angel who whispers into your right ear and a little demon who whispers into your left ear. The angel is thought of as your conscience and the demon as the little voice that encourages you to be daring and naughty. These are, of course, ways of personifying concepts which can be difficult to explain otherwise - why you should choose to behave in a 'good' or 'bad' way.

There are four archangels which are associated with the elements and the four quarters of the magic circle. These four angels can therefore be used to create a protected area, which is the basic principle behind the well known magical ritual the Banishing Ritual of the Lesser Pentagram.
These four angels are:
Raphael the guardian of the east and angel of Elemental Air
Gabriel the western angel of Elemental Water
Uriel or Oriel who is the northern guardian and angel of Elemental Earth
And in the South Michael with a flaming sword, the guardian of Elemental Fire

You can create a very simple personal protection by saying aloud or in your head:
"Raphael before me, Gabriel behind me, Uriel on my left and 
Michael on my right, guard me in your circle of fire."

You can create a gemstone angel circle too by using a stone for each of the elemental angels:
Agate for Raphael, Pear or coral for Gabriel, black agate or onyx or haematite for Uriel and red jasper or garnet for Michael. In the centre put a white candle and a stone to represent your personal guardian angel, I would suggest angelite or blue lace agate unless you have already chosen one which appeals to you. Then say something like:
Holy angels I ask that you imbue this stone with your power 
and make it a special object to connect me with the 
energy and vitality of my Holy Guardian Angel.
Sit and meditate for a few minutes and if possible leave the candle to burn down. Then take the centre stone and put it in a special pouch to carry with you.
Use it as soon as possible, simple say something like:
'Guardian angel here my plea
Safely guide and watch over me.'

Friday, 27 September 2013

What's Wrong With Being Mystic?

Some years ago, I was composing an advert for Raven and I'd put something like 'Your one-stop shop for all your magical and mystical needs.' A friend who was with me at the time said, "You want to take out the 'mystic' bit, it gives the wrong impression."

I still do not understand what 'wrong impression' is implied by the word mystical.

The word 'mystic' comes from the ancient Greek and directly from the Mysteries of Eleusis, It means a person who is involved in practises relating to the Mysteries, an initiate. To me any Witch worth their salt will be involved with the Mysteries, you just can't help it if you are involved with Witchcraft.

To be an initiate of any kind means, or at least implies, that you have entered into a contract which will ensure that you are investigating, or will be taught, about concepts or practises outside the everyday sphere of mundane experience.

What you do with the knowledge is up to you and your own level of spiritual understanding.

It is possible to work Witch magic without reference to any spiritual beings, however they do tend to sneak in when you aren't expecting it. For example: a very simple traditional wishing spell is to find the waxing moon in the sky, blow her a kiss and make a wish.

To any outsider, all you are doing is blowing a kiss to a dead lump of rock which is only glowing in the night sky because the sunlight it shining on it and not on your side of the planet Earth.

But to a Mystic, anyone who is involved in the Mysteries, you know that the Moon is merely a symbol of something far greater. In this case the Moon is the symbol of the Goddess, and by blowing a kiss to the moon you are petitioning the Goddess, asking her to intercede on your behalf and ensure the success of your spell.

I shall no doubt return to this topic in the future, but that is enough to hopefully get your Mystical interest piqued.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Folk Witchery Rules!

I have made a start on the Folk Witchery book of basic and seasonal rites and rituals, and am finding it great fun.

I love the research involved in writing books, collating the information and comparing sources. One of the big problems with this book is that most folk practises are very brief and quick. For example: what is the traditional way of celebrating the new moon or full moon? answer: go outside and blow a kiss towards the moon.

There you go, that's that done.

Which is fab as far as it goes, but sometimes we want a bit more structure to our rituals, especially if you are working in a group situation. This is where the comparing and collating comes in.

There is also the fact that practises do vary from area to area around the country. At one time a big journey was going to the nearest market town, five miles away - and if you had to walk it that would take you a couple of hours at least each way. So people from another town or county really were looked on as 'foreigners'

What this boils down to is that often there is more than one way of doing a ritual.

One of the first things I had a look at was circle casting. The Gardnerian version is these days very easy to access through the writings of Janet and Stewart Farrar and others so that is likely to be the structure that people are most familiar with. However it is not the only way to cast a circle, and, as you might expect, the Folk Witchery way(s) are a lot less formal.

So I found myself constructing a simpler ritual based on the basic familiar format, and the ways I have personally worked through the years. Simpler but still rather conventional.

But again this was my version, my construction.

So I went back to folk sources again and looked at what were traditional methods of casting the circle, and found some very simple but easy to follow methods. For example, sweeping the boundary of the circle both forming the shape of the sacred area and sweeping out and away all negative energies.

But again, this is not the only way this is done. So I decided that rather than me picking what I should pass on to my readers, I should give them a variety of methods ancient and yes my modern version too - but at least they would know which was which and could make their own choices.

This is getting even more fun!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Folk Witchery Seasonal Rituals

You may have noticed that we produce a series of booklets entitled 'A Folk Witchery Book of ......' these are all based on folk lore and folk traditions of the British Isles.

Graham and I were chatting the other day about the fact that although we have published Wicca Courses and books to help people become a Witch, we have never published a book of basic rituals, Esbats, Sabbats and all the little basic consecration and circle casting rituals which we take for granted.

So we are thinking it is about time we compiled a Folk Witchery Book of Seasonal Rituals - obviously that is just a working title, but you get the general idea.

The way we have always taught Witchcraft is based on the premice that whoever is doing the Courses may well either be working with other Witches in a group, who have their own rituals, or may eventually join a particular group or tradition who do have their own seasonal and circle casting rituals. And that the person doing the course may well prefer to create their own rituals based on their own beliefs and needs.

We also are aware that all the Witch rituals currently in existence were originally devised/created by someone, and therefore the rituals you create for yourself have as much or perhaps more significance for yourself.

However there is also the flip side that it is nice to have a basic map or plan or recipe for a ritual which you can use as is or add to or even decide that it is not for you, and that you could do better.

So I now have another job to fit in amongst everything else, to create/compile a book of basic rituals for Folk Witches. I may well be trying out ideas on the blog - or works in progress. So if you have any ideas or requests for rituals you could really do with, please do get in touch.

This sounds like fun.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

How Can I Become a Witch?

That is a question I have heard numerous times over the years. And I still find it difficult to answer the question.

As far as I'm concerned, if you want to be a Witch, get on and be one. There is no one to stop you and actually no definition of what it means to be a Witch.

Some years ago now a group of Witches tried to get all Witches to sign up to a sort of covenant defining what it meant to be a Witch, largely so the Witch/Wiccan community had some sort of legal protection when stories came out in the Sunday papers which were definitely NOT what Witchcraft was about. The idea failed because as soon as you start saying 'this is what Witchcraft is' you will find a whole raft of people saying 'Oh no it isn't!'

So you still need to know where to start so I will give you a list of books for a start that I consider to be helpful and give the basics of what it means to be a conventional Witch:
Eight Sabbats for Witches by Janet and Stewart Farrar
The Witches Way by Janet and Stewart Farrar

These two have been combined and are more often available as 'The Witches Bible' or 'The Witches Bible Complete' depending on the edition.

Witchcraft for Tomorrow by Doreen Valiente
Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson
A Book of Pagan Rituals by Ed Fitch
Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft by Ray Buckland

Look out for any books by the above authors as they will be practical and useable and sensible. You can order books through your local library to have a read of them, and make lots of notes.

At Raven we also publish our own Wicca Course and Advanced Wicca Course along with all sorts of fact sheets and books which you can use to become the Witch you want to be. (Just drop me a line at Raven, 17 Melton Fields, Brickyard Lane, North Ferriby, East Yorks HU14 3HE if you would like a copy of the catalogue).

You may have noticed that I said above, the books listed will help you to become a 'conventional Witch' what I mean by that is that there are basic fundamentals which you will be expected to know about as a Witch. For example the Eight Sabbats or major Witch festivals throughout the year, and ceremonies such as Calling Down the Moon and the Charge of the Goddess.

BUT these are not necessary in order to be a Witch.

However if you are going to go 'off piste' with your Witchcraft it will make learning more difficult as you will have to find out for a start what you wish to learn about.

The conventional way to become a Witch is to find a group of Witches and after making friends with them, ask for initiation into their group. You then learn from them what they wish to teach you about Witchcraft. The difficulty with this is: firstly finding any group of Witches; and then finding a group of Witches whose philosophy or way of magical working ties in with your own.

It is nice to have a group of friends to work magic with. Group magical workings can be very different from solitary practise and it is a good experience to have. But there is nothing wrong with being a Solitary Witch, and most Witches will spend at least some time (or even the majority of their time) as a Solitary. As this is the case, there is nothing wrong with learning on your own, at least that way you can learn what you want to learn, and follow whatever winding Path your inclination or magic opens for you.

Incidentally if you are stuck with your studies, or have a magical question or problem I am more than happy to try and help you out.

More next time on how you can become a Witch.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Here is another recipe to try if you have run out of eggs and want CAKE - it is surprisingly delicious. And very easy to make - trust me I only do 'easy' cooking

285g Self Raising Flour
225g Sugar
200g Mayonnaise
4 tablespoons of Cocoa Powder
8 fluid oz or 220ml Boiling Water
1 teasp Vanilla Extract

Dissolve the cocoa in the boiling water.
Mix together the flour and sugar. Add the mayonnaise and mix it in, then add the cocoa liquid and the vanilla. Mix it well and then put in a loaf tin.
Bake at 180 degrees for 40-45 mins. Test it with a skewer or a pointy knife to check the middle is cooked
Leave it to cool in the tin

The original recipe for this called for extra baking powder, but I left it out and the cake still doubled in size while cooking. The mayonnaise doesn't have to be anything fancy either, we used the cheapest Sainsbury's Basic Mayonnaise, so use whatever you have to hand.

Incidentally I use a loaf tin for cake making because I don't have any proper cake tins. If you use a round cake tin you might find this cooks more quickly so I'd say about 30 mins for a round cake.

I thought the recipe could have done with a bit more sugar as it is an intensely chocolatey flavour - but if it isn't sweet enough for you just make some butter cream for icing, or try it with ice cream as a yummy dessert

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Raymond Buckland

Raymond Buckland was born 31st August 1934.

Although English by birth, he and his wife emigrated to the USA in 1962. It was after this time that he became interested in Witchcraft and contacted Gerald Gardner to discuss the subject. The two men became friends and Gardner attended Buckland's initiation by Monique Wilson, probably around 1964, as Gardner died not long afterwards.

Back in the USA with a copy of Gardner's Book of Shadows, Buckland formed the Long Island Coven in New York. This was the start of American Witchcraft and virtually all fully initiated American Witches can trace their lineage back to this one coven.

Soon Buckland began to write books, his first published in 1969 was A Pocket Guide to the Supernatural, shortly followed by Practical Candleburning Rituals. Later on he wrote The Tree: A Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft which detailed the basis of his own Tradition founded in 1973 and based on Anglo Saxon paganism, known as Seax Wicca.

However perhaps his most famous book, sometimes known as Big Blue from the colour of its cover,  is Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft. Designed as a course in Witchcraft with seasonal rituals, magical exercises and spells this certainly gives anyone the basics of what Witchcraft is about and has been in continuous publication since 1986.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Am I Weird?

In adverts for our business 'Raven', magical suppliers, we often insert the phrase 'Suppliers of Weird and Wonderful Magical Stuff.', which is a phrase which has strange and exotic connotations - and of course includes the word 'weird'.

These days the word 'weird' means something strange or bizarre, but the word 'weird' has some very ancient and magical roots.

One sense of it relates to fate or destiny. This is often seen in Scottish folk tales, where you might be told that you will have to 'live out your weird' which means, that you are destined to follow a particular path, your fate is to behave in a certain manner, or to undergo certain trials, and as it is your fate there is no escaping it. It also refers to the Norns, the three Goddesses of destiny who live in a cave at the roots of the world tree Yggdrasil and are the northern equivalent of the Greek Fates.

In Shakespeare's play Macbeth, there are three witches who are referred to as the Weird Sisters, and who make predictions to Macbeth about his fate or destiny. These are, of course the Norns again. The inevitability of the pronouncements of the goddesses of fate has led to these predictions often being referred to as 'doom' and in 'he met his doom' or "'My doom is come upon me!', cried the Lady of Shallott."

In Old English the word is sometimes spelled 'wyrd' and as well as meaning fate, destiny, strange, bizarre it also means both uncanny and supernatural. Wyrd also refers to a way of approaching the unknown. Brian Bates wrote a smashing fiction book called 'The Way of Wyrd' which is the tale of an Anglo-Saxon sorcerer or shaman and his approach to the unseen but very real spirit world. Although this is a work of fiction, it contains a great deal of magical insight, wisdom and teaching too if you have the wit to see it and the Will to make use of it.

Wyrd is a word that describes the world of magic and Witchcraft. This does not mean that everything in the world is 'doomed' to happen, or that you are bound to your predicted fate.

Prediction can be likened to making a weather forecast or even a road map: that the conditions surrounding you, and your actions in those surroundings indicate that this, this and this will also occur. Those predictions are showing you that if you keep your feet on this particular path, your destiny will be found further along that same path. However what this Wyrd also tells you is that: if you do not want to visit that particular destination you can NOW do something about changing your circumstances to put yourself on a different path.

Witchcraft is very often about the manipulation of those Wyrd energies. Witchcraft helps you to choose which Wyrd you want and helps you get on to the right path to get to the destiny you choose, instead of the one you are just allowing yourself to be steered towards.

Witchcraft is therefore about making choices, not about bewailing your sad fate, but about seizing your Wyrd and making it what you want it to be.

So, am I weird? Oh yes!

Wyrd and proud of it.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Naked In Your Rites

In the interesting documentary A Very British Witchcraft presented by Professor Ronald Hutton, and in many 'exposes' of Witchcraft, one of the areas of great interest is: 'Do real Witches work their rituals naked?' (and if so can we have some piccies please? But preferably of young and pretty female Witches.)

I would say that there is no evidence for Witches in the British Isles holding outdoor rituals in the nude prior to Gerald Gardner.

However there are at least a couple of classic paintings of Witches creating a spell indoors (in private) where they are naked - except for a pair of fashionable shoes in one case.

There is also a passage in 'Aradia:the Gospel of the Witches' a collection of Witch spells and rituals from Italy collected by the folklorist C. G. Leland in the 19th century which says:
And ye shall all be freed from slavery,
And so ye shall be free in everything:
And as a sign that ye are truly free,
Ye shall be naked in your rites, both men
And women also:

It is well known that Gerald Gardner was a naturist, popularly known as 'nudists'. The main point of being a Naturist is to celebrate the fact that humans are, by nature, born and designed to exist without clothes. Clothing is a convention and fashion imposed by society.

However nudity is associated in many people's minds with sexuality, and some might say: 'How can you be naked together and not indulging continually in wild orgies?'

And, of course, one of the charges which has always been levelled against Witches is that their rituals are scenes of wild debauchery.

Gerald Gardner certainly padded out rituals with information, poems and spells gathered from a variety of places, and one of his sources was Aradia.

As a Naturist he would have been delighted to find that passage, and quick to incorporate it into his rituals. But just remember: Aradia is a collection of Itallian Witchcraft. The climate of Italy is a lot warmer than Britain, where even a summer night can be chilly - and in Scotland: beware of the midges!

So: do Witches work their rituals naked?

The short answer is: some do and some don't.

Witchcraft or Wicca as it is often known today. is not a religion that imposes a strict set of rituals and dogma on its adherants. The emphasis is on re-awakening your personal connection to the Divine.

One way of doing this is through breaking social taboos - sexuality and nudity are both frowned upon in public (unless the protagonists are young and pretty, in which case 'pass the camera'), but perfectly normal and natural activities. So by entering the ritual area naked you are going against most of society's ideas of what true religion is about.

To Witches this nakedness, or as we say 'being skyclad', is a sign of trust between ourselves and deity - and a sign that we are hiding nothing, and holding nothing back. Nudity is also a great equaliser. We can tell a lot about a person by their clothes, we can tell their financial status and social position, their rank even their job. But when we are naked there are none of those clues, and therefore none of the social restrictions which would make you wary of approaching a person of  a different rank or class.

Most Witch initiation rituals will insist that the postulant be naked. This is a symbol that you are putting aside all your worldly trappings, everything that defines you in the everyday world, and are come before the deities in a childlike and innocent manner. It is also a symbol that to Witches our ritual area, wherever we create it, becomes a place not of the mundane world, so in a similar way that if you step into a dreaming world you can take nothing from this world with you, and bring nothing back from there to this world, when you step into the Witches world, you bring nothing with you from your previous life.

However having said all that, it is still up to the individual how they choose to worship or work with the God and Goddess. Nude or robed is a personal choice.

Blessed Be

Sunday, 11 August 2013

The Witches Cauldron

I am currently working on The Folk Witchery Book of Halloween which should be out by the end of the month. The book will be full of all sorts to do with Halloween from what Witches look like, to spells and party games and even a special potion for those who would like to visit the land of Fairy. To whet your appetite here is an extract from the book. I hope you like it:

The oldest form of cooking is to drop some raw meat into a fire and let it burn for a while. A step up from that is suspending the meat over a fire so you avoid having to eat ashes with your meal.

However if you want to heat anything liquid, or you want to catch those lovely meat juices which are dripping into the fire, you will need something to catch them in. You will need some sort of cooking pot.

Over the millennia many ingenious solutions have been found to this problem, from pots made of closely woven basketwork, to clay and finally metal pots. The general household cooking pot for several thousand years in Britain and Europe was the cauldron.

The cauldron is a round bottomed cooking pot, usually with three small legs and either a lip or some lugs so that is could be suspended over the fire.

It was never empty and was always over the fire. It was used to make a never-ending stew (the French name for a casserole is still 'pot au feu' - pot over the fire) just keep adding liquid and ingredients, eat some, add more liquid and ingredients to top it up again.

It was used to prepare potions and tisanes, to boil your porridge, to create the wort for brewing, to dye wool and cloth.

The contents of the cauldron were also mysterious. No one knew what was in the ever boiling cauldron, just that sometimes the results were delicious, and sometimes they were poisonous.

The most experienced cauldron user would be an old woman, who may have a child helping her to stir the cauldron and make sure nothing burned.

So here we see Cerridwen with her magical cauldron full of a special potion that had to be brewed for a year and a day. She has a small boy, Gwion, assisting her. He is stirring the cauldron while she gets on with other work.

The time is nearly up. The potion is nearly ready, when the child is distracted, his stirring stick slips and the boiling potion splashes his finger.

Alarmed and hurt, he does what every small child does in that situation, he stuffs his finger into his mouth to suck it better. And when he does that, he sucks in the three magical drops of the potion. These are the drops that Cerridwen has been waiting for, for a year and a day.

And suddenly the boy can understand the language of animals, he knows the magic of the shape-shifter and he gains the wisdom that Cerridwen was brewing to turn her own son, the lumpen, ugly and stupid Avagdu into the greatest and wisest magician on earth.

And he knows that when Cerridwen finds out what has happened, she will kill him.

So he runs as fast and as far as he can.

But Cerridwen has returned. She sees the abandoned cauldron and sniffs it cautiously, then screams in rage and frustration. For all that is left in the cauldron is a seething mass of poison.

Gwion hears the scream and shape-shifts into the swiftest hare, but Cerridwen is a greyhound, hunting him down. He leaps into a stream and becomes a salmon streaking through the water, but the otter who is Cerridwen is catching him up.

Desperately he leaps into the air and becomes a dove, but Cerridwen is ready and leaps after him in the shape of a hawk. Then just as she is about to seize him with her sharp talons, Gwion sees below him a heap of shining, golden grain. Thousands upon thousands of tiny grains all alike and he falls gratefully into the heap, losing himself amongst the myriad.

But Cerridwen is not giving up. She is become a hen, pecking here and there amongst the grain, seeking, seeking......  and finding!

In anger and triumph she swallows the grain and Gwion is lost forever.

Or is he? For nine months later Cerridwen gives birth to a beautiful baby boy, Taliesin, the 'Shining Brow' who becomes the greatest, and most magical, of all the Welsh bards.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Easy Peasy Banana Bread

Now even though this is called Banana Bread, what this actually is, is a light and tasty cake.

This all started because I was chatting to a friend while playing WoW, and she said she was going to bake a cake. I said I couldn't because I had no eggs. So she said you could make a cake without eggs, using bananas, yogurt or even mayonaise!

So I had a look on the internet and came across quite a few different recipes and decided to have a go at one using bananas.

135g sugar
70g fat e.g. butter or Stork
250g Self Raising Flour
1/4 teasp salt
3 mashed, ripe bananas
1 teasp vanilla extract
4-5 tablespoons of milk or water

The recipe I have adapted did originally have extra baking powder in it, but as I didn't have any (and I don't like using it as I can always taste it) I missed it out, and the result was still fab.

Pre-heat the oven to 180

Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together.

Now this part is quite magical and astonishing. I had not pre-mashed the bananas, which the recipe said to do. Being an impatient soul I just bunged everything apart from the milk straight in a bowl and started mixing. It was a bit hard going at first, mashing the bananas and fat into the flour and sugar, but then all of a sudden the whole thing combined and turned into something that looked like a semi- liquid cake mixture.

Graham and I regarded this with awe. Then added the vanilla and milk, mixed it in and put the whole lot in a floured loaf tin.

I spread it out roughly flat and popped it into the oven and set the timer for 45 mins

45 mins later..... Voila!

According to the recipe this could be used to make cup cakes or muffins instead, and it does have a muffin texture. I'm guessing if you made muffins the cooking time would be around 20 mins - it usually is when I make buns (cup cakes)
Another recipe said you could add 4oz or 100g dark chocolate chips to the mix.

The only thing I would say is - you do have to like the taste of bananas

I think we shall try a yogurt cake next time

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Don't Panic Bread Making

Ok so this is Llughnassadh, also known as Loaf mass and the celebration of the first harvests of grain and it being made into fresh flour. An ideal time to celebrate by making your own fresh bread.

But the main thing to remember is: don't panic this is soooo easy.

Milk Bread

This is a recipe my dad showed me how to make one day when we had run out of bread and I was preparing to dash to the nearest village shop several miles away.

Self Raising Flour

Before you start, get your oven switched on and warming up. How hot? Well my dad said 'As hot as your oven will go.' but I reckon anywhere from 180-220 works, again don't worry. If the oven is cooler it takes longer, if it's hotter they are quicker.

You will see that I have not put any quantities up there, largely because you make as much or as little as you want.

As a rough guide, a mug full of flour will make two small bread buns - and add a good pinch of salt of salt per mug of flour. I reckon 2-3 bread buns per person is plenty.

Put your flour and salt into a big bowl and add milk. And mix with a knife to make a soft dough. Don't get your hands in this, it is to be very soft and therefore sticky.

The amount of milk is: enough to get all the flour to incorporate easily.

If the dough feels too stiff add more milk, if it is too sticky add more flour.

Now use the knife to cut the dough into small lumps around the size of a small apple. You can roughly shape these into balls with well floured hands. These are your bread buns, so pop them onto a floured baking tray. As soon as you have got them all on the tray, pop them in the oven. If you want them to go brown and shiny brush them with melted butter - I don't bother

Leave to bake for around 10 minutes.

They will puff up because of the raising agent in the flour.

When you get them out of the over. Have butter and jam ready and waiting - eat them hot or warm.
They are delicious and in total take about 15 mins to make including the cooking time

Variations for the adventurous:
Use Wholemeal self raising flour - these are yummy too
Soak some dried fruit in warm water, when it has puffed up use the fruit and its sweet water instead of milk - sweet and yummy. You can add a bit of cinnamon to these too - even more yummy

If you don't want to make bread buns, flatten the whole dough into a plate shape and cook in a nearly dry frying pan - I did this one day in a pan we had cooked bacon in for breakfast they were delicious

There is no wonder that I am of the well upholstered build :)

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

God Knows - Lugh

Here are a couple of articles which have appeared in the Raven Newsletter and are appropriate to the season and festival of Lughnassadh. The first is from a couple of years ago:

God Knows - Lugh

At the end of July, August Eve is the feast of Lughnassadh, also known as Lammas. Most of us know that this is the feast of the first grain harvests, the first bread, or Loaf-mass, but who is Lugh?

His name appears in several different forms through the British Isles: in Ireland he is Lugh Longhand; in Wales, Lleu Llaw Gyffes; in place names he can be Lud, Lug or simply Lu.

His epithets are many, and reflect his attributes. He is perhaps the Celtic equivalent of Horus, the sun god son of the Dagda (the Great Father). His names mean Light or Lion, he is called Blond of Bright Haired, God of the Mighty Blows, Long-Hand (Master of all skills and crafts). He was mighty in battle and also carried messages from humanity to the other gods.

His weapon was a spear, which was an empowered sun beam. As Lleu, he killed his wife Bloddeuwedd's lover Gronwy by hurling his spear straight through a boulder and killing Gronwy where he hid behind it, showing the power of the sun which nothing can be hidden from.

He was also a sacrificial god, deing and rising again. When he was killed by his wife and her lover, his soul rose from his body like a great eagle (another solar symbol) and escaped into the sky. He is identified with the golden grain which captures the spirit of the summer sun and is cut down in its prime. Bread is his gift and his sacrifice.

As the Old Gods were diminished and their influence waned, so they grew older and retreated to caves and burial mounds. Lugh the bright, golden haired young god became old Lug Chromain 'Bent Light' (the rainbow is one of his symbols), and it is said that the fairy name Leprechaun is derived from his name. Which may be why these fairies hide within the earth guarding their ancient crock full of gold - the golden sun god preserved and hidden now within the earth

This second piece is an extract from a longer article on the Green Man:

John Barleycorn

In English folklore, John Barleycorn is a character who represents the crop of barley harvested each autumn. Equally as important, he symbolises the wonderful drinks which can be made from barley - beer and whiskey - and their effects. In the traditional folksong John Barleycorn, the character of John Barleycorn endures all kinds of indignities, most of which correspond to the cyclic nature of planting, growing harvesting and then death. This in essence is the same tale as the Green Man retold.

Although written versions of the song date back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, there is evidence that it predates her reign considerably. There are a number of different versions, but the most well known one is the Robert Burns version, in which John Barleycorn is portrayed as an almost Christ like figure suffering greatly before finally dying so that others may live.

Ultimately the character of John Barleycorn is a metaphor for the spirit of the grain, grown hearty and hale during the summer, chopped down and slaughtered in his prime then transformed into beer and whiskey so that he can live once more.

His character also seems to have been appropriated and incorporated into the christian 'Lord of the Dance'
         they cut me down but I leap up high,
         for I am the life that will never, never die

And finally a spell from the same Newsletter:

Summer Seaside Love Spell

Go down to the shore while the tide is coming in and just beyond the incoming waves draw the outline of a man or woman - this represents the one you desire. On the chest draw a heart shape and write their initials. Then with a little stick pierce the heart and say:

With love's sweet dart
I pierce the heart
Of he/she who does not love me
Lady of the Waters deep
Hear me cry, see me weep
Give me my lover unto me

Know that your prayers have been heard and will be answered, when the incoming tide washes your drawing away.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

It's a Bizarre Business

Being a 'Small Business' - no, smaller than that - I fairly regularly have strange conversations with other businesses trying to sell me something that is not wholly appropriate for us

For example today:
Hello Raven
Hello can I speak to Mrs Sempers?
Hello we have got funding to offer your staff NVQ qualifications which could help your business
There are only two of us and we can't spare one of us the time off to go to college.
Oh no it's nothing like that, we send people out to your business to assess you for two hours once a month on whatever you are doing
That will be interesting
What do you mean?
Well, this afternoon I am making spell kits, I'd be interested to see how you assessed that. Possibly on the effectiveness of my magic?
Er.... perhaps I ought to take you off our list.
Yes I think that would be a good idea.

Or last week:
Hello Raven
Can I speak to Fleet Services please
Whoever deals with your transport.
We are a Craft business, there are two of us here and we have one car.
(stifled laughter from the other end.)
You don't use much diesel then?
It's a petrol car.
Sorry to bother you, goodbye

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Why Can't You Just Sit Still?

Why do people have to fiddle with things?

This trait seems to be particularly noticeable with the ubiquitous mobile phone. People can't seem to leave it alone. You see them in the supermarket making or receiving calls: "Yes, I'm by the peas at the moment..." or fiddling about sending texts.

The trouble is that manufacturers of other electronic goods think that everyone now fiddles with everything. All of the time!

We bought a new TV last year, a lovely flat-screen jobby and we are very pleased with it. Except it likes you to fiddle with the remote control. It expects you to fiddle, push buttons and change channels. So if you don't fiddle, like if you are watching a good film, or at the weekend when we were watching the Open golf, after a couple of hours of NOT fiddling with the remote, a message appears in the middle of the screen 'Unless you press OK within the next five minutes, this device will turn itself off.'

There is then a frantic search to find the remote - because we haven't been fiddling, and weren't intending fiddling, it is not within arms reach, but wherever whoever turned the TV on put it down.

The computer likes you to fiddle with it even more regularly.

I like to use the BBC iplayer to catch programmes that I've missed, or which are on too late for me. But I have to remember while watching to continually keep moving the mouse about, because if I don't, after a few minutes the computer will decide that no-one is present and will turn the monitor off. With no warning!

The first time it did this while I was watching a re-run of a Graham Norton chat show. I thought there was something wrong with the PC.

But no! It is a 'feature' !

The other day I caught a piece on TV news that a survey had been carried out to find out if people thought it was rude to fiddle with a mobile phone while having a conversation with someone face to face. Needless to say, the people who did fiddle with their mobiles thought it was perfectly OK to do so.

But, be warned, I would be tempted to slap the mobile out of the hands of someone fiddling with it while talking to me.

There is simply no need to be constantly updating all and sundry with every detail of where you are and what you are doing. There are few things sooo urgent that they can't wait a few minutes before you broadcast them.

So folks, I want you to try a little exercise to increase the tranquility of the world:
turn off your mobile phone, sit on your hands and just listen

Listen to nature

Listen to the traffic

Listen to the silence

But most of all: listen to the person who is with you right now.

Monday, 22 July 2013

A Day in the Life of Raven

It is difficult sometimes to explain just what we do at Raven, since the business is part of our normal home and working life too. Graham and I do everything to do with the business from ordering, making and packing goods to the accounts, dealing with suppliers, creating catalogues and mail outs - including hand drawing all the pictures of everything for sale - wrapping and taking stuff to the post office - we actually had one customer who refused to believe that there were only two of us here as she said there was far two much for only two people to do! So here is a piece from an old Newsletter which will give you an idea of the sort of things which go into our normal day:

This is what the Raven operation looks like from the 'outside' by one poor devil who got roped in to help - 

I was very privileged recently to visit ‘Raven - Purveyors of Magical Goods’. Boy! Was it an eye-opener!

Firstly up at 6.30am - not a problem. Graham goes for a jog (!), Chris relaxes in the bath (much more sensible), then breakfast, walk Lupin the dog, then time to get ready.

Approximately 8.30 Graham collects the post and Chrissy sits at her desk with her stock sheets, ready and waiting. Graham opens the letters and Chris checks items off her sheets, files letter and makes notes of items which might need printing or making.

Then up to ‘the Gods’. This is the attic of the Raven home - no big warehouse, no small warehouse, not even a garage! - to pick up part of the orders. I do the difficult job of reading out loud while Graham dances, dives and swoops among the hundreds of boxes. After this part is complete, we descend one flight to the office. Here we collect Fact Sheets, Course Booklets, Wiccan tapes, books and assorted paperwork.

Then, thankfully, we have a much needed tea-break. Incidentally while Graham and I were upstairs collecting order together, Chrissy had the even harder job of making phone calls, paying bills and chasing up suppliers.

Back to work: Chris reads off each order form as Graham checks each item for each order. Any which are complete are put on one side. Now the checking is done Graham once more returns to the office with the completed orders to wrap, stick, address and in all other ways make ready to post.

Here with me, Chris goes through the orders that ask for oils, tinctures and incense mixes and begins to hand blend each mixture.

I am shocked. I know that it says made by hand in the catalogue, these are really hand made!!

Eventually, by work day ending (which was a lot later than I thought) the orders received in the morning have been sorted, packed and wrapped ready for posting. This has taken over eight hours for only seven orders. I say only because this was a small order day. When fliers are sent out, or at certain times of the year the numbers of orders received in a single day can be staggering.

Believe me, Raven know EXACTLY what ‘snowed-under’ means!

The following day the new orders are really easy apart from some Crystal Talismans. I have the great pleasure in watching Chrissy make a dozen or so of these up. Silver wire and beads, crystal chips and reference to the Talisman booklet that is sent with every order make a very special piece of jewellery. I also see Chrissy making up some Rainbow Generators which are so much more beautiful than could ever be described.

I arrive home and am happy to draw breath. I know that at Raven work goes on. I decide to check through my catalogue to see if I can find all the things made on the premises. Are you ready? Then I’ll begin:

All the Crystal Talismans, Fact Sheets, written printed and stapled, the Wicca Course, Wicca Tapes, Incenses, Oils, Powder, Pocket Pendulums, Pouches, Rainbow Generators, tinctures, and much more. All the Raven Newsletters, Flyers and Catalogues are done at Raven, by Raven

I learn two major things from my visit. The staff at Raven, Chris Sempers and Graham Raven, work a lot harder than most who ‘go out to work’ for a lot less monetary reason. Also the goods being sold by Raven are all First Class merchandise and a lot more beautiful up close.

So if you do happen across a house crammed floor to ceiling full of herbs, powders, bottles, boxes and bags, with two pale creatures who look desperately in need of sunlight, wish them well - but DON’T stop them. They could be working on my order, and I’ve got soooo much to buy!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Case of the Disappearing Dog

Yesterday morning we lost China. Large, fluffy, not easy to miss.

One minute she was there, nudging my hand off my computer mouse so I would give her a stroke, the next minute she was nowhere to be seen. Graham takes both dogs out for a walk before breakfast, but when he called for them to join him at the front door, only Maeve turned up. Where was China? Probably in the garden - no sign. Well she must be in the house, we both searched every room (not that many to look through) including under the bed in the computer room (a favourite hidey hole) behind our bed, and all round the garden again.

Graham wondered if when he had briefly opened the door as he shouted for them, if China had slipped out and was taking herself for a walk. I told him to take Maeve and do their normal walk - if China was out there, she would probably be doing that.

I normally have a bath at this point, but I couldn't settle. I had China carried off by burglars, having a heart attack and dying quietly somewhere, or maybe had got behind something in the garden and was trapped by falling logs or quicksand or fallen through a wormhole into an alternate dimension.

I went to have a thorough look in the garden, there was nowhere else she could be.

As I wandered back from a close examination round the back of Holda's Hut (the nettles and ivy round the back are quite dense) I suddenly spotted China across the garden, beyond the tub with the sage in it - rather near the back garden gate into Grandma's garden. (I may not have mentioned this, but our and Grandma's houses are back to back and the gardens adjoin, so we have a gate through from one to the other)

Now I know that gate is a bit rickety, well more than a bit, but I never thought that either dog would go through the gate without being invited - we take them to visit Grandma when I deliver her newspaper and they get a biscuit for being there.

However there was the evidence: guilty looking dog; fluff on the gate; gate pushed juuuust wide enough open for a surprisingly skinny fluffy creature to squeeze through. From a distance you couldn't tell it was open.

When Graham got back from an anxious walk, he was delighted to see China (still looking sheepish) but as amazed as me that she was making her own forays into Grandma's garden.

The thing is: China is a food motivated dog. No, I mean REALLY.
I have mentioned Grandma's cat before and how its every whim is catered for (except the one to escape Grandma's gimlet gaze for a couple of hours). Well through the night Grandma leaves the cat three saucers of different flavoured food, in case it fancies a snack during the night, and come the morning, Grandma throws the left over kittie chunks into the garden for the birds.
Now Grandma is a person of habit, so she always stands at her front door and aims the chunks into the shrubbery to the left of the door. A couple of weeks ago Graham and I were removing a large tree from her garden and the dogs, naturally, came to see what was going on - and China found Treasure! The left over kittie chunks!
It would appear that China has been checking up on the latest delivery of kittie chunks at every opportunity.

So after breakfast our first job of the day was securing the gate into Grandma's garden, so that we had no more disappearances of dog (especially as I spotted China showing Maeve 'This is how you do it.'). This is easier said than done as both the fence and fence posts appear to be held up merely by the ivy covering them. So Graham put in new fence supports and worked on the gate, managing to get the catch to fasten. And there we were, happy and secure again.
No vanishing dog.
Both dogs taken for walk this morning.

Then just before breakfast I spotted China squeeeeezing back through the gate from Grandma's garden. She had found that she could push the bottom of the gate open even while the catch was fastened!

Graham will be securing the gate this morning .... again.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Dr John Dee

Dr John Dee

John Dee was born 13th July 1527. He was an English astrologer, alchemist and mathematician.
He became court astrologer to queen Mary Tudor, but she had him imprisoned for his interest in magic.
When Elizabeth I gained the throne, Dee was back at court too, and chose the best astrological date for her coronation.
He spent a lot of time touring European courts researching his interests of magic and alchemy, and demonstrating these to the nobility. But he was also in the employ of Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth's enigmatic 'spy master'. In fact Dee's code number was 007, perhaps where Ian Fleming got the idea for James Bond's code number from.

Enochian Magic

John Dee is perhaps most famous (or even infamous) in occult circles for his development of Enochian Magic. The Book of Enoch is one of the Apocryphal books of the bible - one of the extra books that are sometimes included and sometimes excluded - it deals in particular with the interaction of angels and humanity. According to the book of Enoch some of the angels got bored in heaven and descended to earth where they created bodies for themselves and took human wives. These angels taught their wives various magical arts including herbal knowledge and root cutting, astrology, weather lore, enchantments and how to break them, magical charm and much more.
Dr Dee communicated with these powerful entities through the mediumship of his assistant Edward Kelly, and seemed willing and even eager to follow their instructions however outlandish or morally dubious they were. Kelly, on the other hand was not so happy with the proceedings and made his own notes on what the angels were telling Dee. Kelly wrote that 'Evil Angels' had revealed 'Manifold horrible heresies and blasphemous doctrines:
'They would have persuaded: That Jesus was not God.
That no prayer ought to be made to Jesus
That there is no sin
That man's soul doth go from one body to another childes quickening
That as many men and women as are now, have always been
That the generations of mankind from Adam and Eve is not a History, but writing which has another sense.'

In other words they taught: reincarnation; that souls were not going to be punished by eternal damnation in fiery pits; that the soul is immortal and that the Bible was not a book to be taken literally - a huge blasphemy to Kelly and to many fundamental christians still today.

The angels communicated with Dee both in code and in a special angelic language which has become known as Enochian. The 'Enochian Keys' are a collection of 19 invocations which unlock the powers of these angels. These were originally given in the Enochian language, but have also been translated into English.

For those interested here are a selection of books you can look out for:
The Enochian Magick of Dr. John Dee by Geoffrey James
The Satanic Bible by Anton Szandor LaVey
Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson
Magic with Demons (A practical Manual for Sorcerers) by Britomartis - this one is a Corvus Publication and is available from Raven Magical Supplies

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Raven Swoops

The Next Flyer

I have just started work compiling our next Mail Shot, so it will probably take me 7-10 days to complete it in amongst doing other work.
Typically one of our Flyers consists of a mini catalogue either themed to the time of year, or to a particular type of goods. The one I am currently working on comprises a wide variety of gemstone pendants, pendulums and other assorted gem related stuff. It all depends how much stuff I can shoehorn into the available space in the booklet.
Of course this Flyer will be accompanied by the latest edition of our Newsletter, which this time will include the introduction of this Blog.
All of our flyers and catalogues include items which are new or and made or both so for this one I have been creating some special gemstone and crystal danglies to bring special Crystal vibrations into your home. These all have either an agate slice at the bottom or a very large chunk of natural crystal, and are suspended from a string of large gemstone and glass beads. All of the links are hand made by me, and so is the hook they hang from. I use silver plated copper wire to thread the beads and two pairs of pliers to create loops and spiral fastenings.
I like to choose gemstones which will harmonise with each other to create an atmosphere of peace, calm and protection. Some of the combinations are geared towards healing and harmony, others towards raising the spiritual and magical tone. I love making these, so even though it can take me up to an hour to make one of them, I always have a real sense of joy when I look at each of the finished danglies.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Working Weekend

A busy weekend to come.
I have a client visiting for a Tarot Reading this morning; then we have more ninja gardening to do (including the ninja mending of the magic gate in grandma's garden), then tomorrow we shall be visiting a boot sale and then the monthly farmer's market.

Aah yes, the Magic Gate. Grandma Raven has a cat called Lucy. Grandma is so paranoid about Lucy going missing that Lucy is only allowed outside under strict supervision, watched all the time she is outside - in the back garden - and then called back in as soon as possible. The back garden is separated from the front garden by a small gate (the Magic Gate) across the path between the house and the garden shed.
So the Magic Gate keeps Lucy in the back garden where she is safely under Grandma's supervision.
We call it the Magic Gate because Lucy is a cat... If Lucy wished she could be under, over or through the gate whenever she wishes. Also Lucy could simply leave the back garden by walking through the fence or nipping over it. She can also get to the front garden merely by walking around the back of the shed. I can get to the front garden by walking round the back of the shed - and I am a fair bit more substantial than Lucy.
But as long as the Magic Gate is in place Grandma is confident that Lucy is safe, and who are we to put worry in her mind.

Oh another thing I am currently doing is going through back issues of the Raven Newsletter to find interesting articles, spells etc which I shall be putting up from time to time in this Blog. As an example, here is a little piece to whet your appetite:

Visiting a Sacred Site

Part of being a Pagan and/or a Witch is that we honour the land. The Earth is our Mother and as such we should take every care not to disfigure her beauty, we are the guardians of this Land and of its sacred places.
If you visit a sacred site be aware that the site was there long before you were born, honour it, do not damage it.
Be aware also that no Sacred site belongs to YOU, it belongs to everyone who visits it, and everyone is entitled to find the site in as beautiful and harmonious condition as you are.
Take your rubbish home with you, do not drop it, bury it or burn it on the site - if someone else has left rubbish it would be nice if you removed it, but do not damage the site by doing so.
Do not light fires, which burn the turf or woodlands.
Do not break pieces off stones, nor insert crystals or anything else, in or under the site.
Use your common sense.
What should I take away?
Take with you only photos and memories
What should I leave behind?

Nothing but your love.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Legendary Llangollen Faery Festival

Now here is an interesting event if you live anywhere within range of Llangollen in Wales.
We had a phone call from a friend of ours who we used to see regularly in the days when we travelled round the countryside in an ancient Landrover doing various Craft Fairs, Markets and Steam Engine Ralleys. It turns out that our friend Fiona Maher (author of The Last Changeling - available on ebook from Amazon), is organising a Faery Festival to be held at the Royal International Pavillion in Llangollen - where they also hold the Eisteddfod.
It sounds like it will be a really fab day out for all the family, especially if you are into magical and Fairy stuff.
Although it is still in the stages of being finalised, so far there will be a Faery market, with craft stalls from far and wide, lectures, storytelling, exhibitions and talks, a cafe serving vegetarian and vegan food and all sorts of fun events and entertainments.
It will be on the 10th and 11th of August, Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5pm, and a day pass will be only £5.00 with under 12's getting in FREE with an adult.
There will also be a Faery Ball with live music from at least three bands on the evening of the 10th from 7.30pm till Midnight, entrance for this a very reasonable £6.00

There will be a website up shortly with more details and a place to pre-book tickets

An Excellant Way to Get a Fairy

First get a broad square crystal in length and breadth three inches, and lay it in the blood of a white hen three Wednesdays or three Fridays. Then take it out and wash it with Holy Water and fumigate it. Then take three hazel rods of a year's growth, peel them fair and white, and write the fairy's name (which you call three times) on every stick being made flat one side: then bury them under some hill whereas you suppose fairies haunt, the Wednesday before you call her, and the Friday following call her three times at eight or three or ten of the clock. But when you call, be in Clean Life and turn thy face towards the East, and when you have her, bind her in that crystal

From the manuscripts of Elias Ashmole 17th century

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Introduction to Me and the Life of a Working Witch

As this blog has leapt into being, as an extension of my Facebook page, I suddenly thought that there may well be people who come across it and have no idea who the heck I am and what I do.  So here is a bit of a quick biography, so you know where I come from:

My name is Chris Sempers and I run the Mail Order company Raven with my husband Graham Raven.
Raven is a magical supply company and we have been in business since 1989. Oh and the 'Mike' I refer to often through the blog is our son Michael Raven who is the techno geek of the family and is frequently on the receiving end of my questions such as 'what is a follower?' and 'how do I do this?' and occasionally 'Where has my toolbar gone!?!'
We actually started our business making hand made toiletries and cosmetics: skin creams, lip balm, bath products, skin scrubs, all those sorts of things.  Everything we made was as simple as possible, made from herbs and flowers, beeswax and natural oils wherever possible.
As both of us are practising Pagans, we also had done loads of research into the magical uses of herbs - and made incenses and ritual oils for our own and friends use. So we decided to put a few pieces on our catalogue such as 'Home Protection Sachets' and one or two hand made divination sets, runes etc.
To our astonishment we found that the magical stuff far outsold the cosmetics !
Not having to be hit over the head with a brick to take notice, we decided to try putting out a catalogue which concentrated on the magical items instead, and have not looked back since.
Incidentally if you haven't had one of our catalogues recently/ever you can give me a ring (01482) 632512 or message me through facebook ( and I'll be happy to pop one in the post

I called this Blog the 'Blog of a Working Witch' because what I do in my job is based very much on being a practising Witch. A lot of the goods in our catalogues are hand made by us, using magical principles and correspondances. They are also constructed in special magical area, what is most commonly known as a Magic Circle.

I have been putting up daily snippets of magical and other info on our facebook page for well over a year now and felt I needed a bit more elbow room to express myself, so I intend using this blog as a place where I can put up articles on magical subjects - these may well be drawn from past issues of our own Raven Newsletter - and other info which will be of interest (I hope) to Pagans, Occultists, Witches and friends of Raven, such as pieces which may give you more of an insight into our personal lives - such as we love dogs and have two large fluffy ones to prove it.

I am also quite happy to answer questions of a magical nature, and, again, there is more space here for a fuller response to questions.

A Spell to Give Up Smoking

Take a pack of cigarettes you have started, take out all the cigarettes and cut them up. Put them back in the packet with a paper on which you have written the following magic triangle:
Sprinkle some consecrated salt in the packet and keep it in your pocket

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Followers and Doggy Bathing

You Too Can be a Follower!

One or two people have tried to become followers of this blog but, so far with no success. So with Mike's help I have added a little place where you can just pop in your email address and (I think) you will be notified when I've put up something new here.
I am just not sure whether it will simply send you the text, or whether it gives you a link to the blog site - which is what I was actually aiming for

Doggy Bath Time
Yesterday as it was a pleasant day we decided it was time to bath China.
As both our dogs are long haired, rough collies this was not going to be an easy task.
The bathing went quite well, China sat quite quietly in the bath and was shampood and rinsed very quickly. Then came the next stage. Getting large hairy dog out of the bath, with the amount of fluff that soaks up water like a sponge meant it was going to be a wet affair for all involved. Outside a whole lot of shaking and towelling dry went on until we had a merely wet dog, at which point China decided she had had enough and went inside to finish drying out on our bed. Maeve meanwhile had hidden under the spare bed and was not coming out.
Graham moved China off our pillows and onto a bedcover instead and left her to sleep off the trauma, aided by a bickie or two.
This morning China is dried out, and looks even more beautiful than usual.

By the way both China and Maeve came to us from Angela at Wicani Collies - have a look at her website she has loads of piccies and videos to drool over if you are a dog lover