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