Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Ode to a Christmas Pork Pie

The following poem was inspired by the pork pie we got from our local butchers. We had to order it and pick it up yesterday and it is a beauty, about the size of a brick and full of meat - we couldn't wait to try it and had both been wondering if we could open it and try it, or whether we had to wait for Christmas. Until I said that we always end up having far to much to eat from Christmas onwards, so we might as well open it and had some for supper.
     So the poem is full of 'poetic license' but made us both laugh:

Ode to a Christmas Pork Pie

'Twas the night before, the night before, the night before Christmas
                                                 and down where we cook
A pork pie was lurking, I'd had a good look.
It had good crispy pastry and was stuffed full of pork,
And I reckoned I'd tackle it with knife and with fork.
So down to the fridge with my belly a-rumble,
'Till I opened the door ... and my hopes took a tumble.
For there on the plate there were just a few crumbs,
And a smearing of grease and the mark of a thumb,
And a note from my husband with a kiss at the end
Thanking me for the pork pie as money well spent,
'I've saved you for Christmas, you'll stay nice and slim.'
But the pork pie was eaten ... and the eater, 'twas him!

                                                   Chris Sempers xmas 2015

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Going to Rack

Today has been wine racking day! This means taking the fermented wine off the sediment which gradually falls out of it over time, and putting it back in the demijohns to clear a bit more. Racking is also the time you get to try the young wines to see if they might be going to turn out ok.
     Graham currently has four demijohn's of wine on the go: Ginger (which has some heat in it); Carrot Whiskey (not distilled, it gets its name simply from the flavour); Bramble (you can really taste the blackberries, but is currently a touch on the sharp side. It will need to mature, and may even need serving with lemonade - for me anyway) and finally Autumn Wine. Autumn wine contains everything from the hedgerows round about: apples, elderberries, brambles, rosehips, and frankly tastes the best of the lot to me. A rich deep red wine stuffed full of fruit.
     Graham used to make wine a lot some years ago, but we got too busy and it became one of those things we stopped doing, and so he got rid of all of his equipment. However this year he decided he fancied having another go so we have been on the look out particularly for demijohns.

     When we originally used to make wine you could find these in Boots the Chemist and most hardware shops for a pound a time. Graham was rather shocked to find that these days they are around £7 a pop, so he has been scouring bootsales this year and eventually found five. Which is why we have four lots of wine on the go, you need to have an empty demijohn to rack the clearing wine into.

     We used to make wine from all sorts of stuff, it is an interesting experiment, and we used to make special wines for our ritual celebrations. Potatoe wine is the base of Irish Potcheen, if you distill the finished product, but the wine itself is quite acceptable. One of our best ritual wines was Rowan, Oak and Barley which is very much a Green Man type of wine, robust and flavoursome.
     Don't try Onion Wine. No, really, don't do it! That is the foulest drink I have ever tasted (apart from Wormwood, which is a flavour you cannot cover) but Onion Wine stays with the memory - and I can even taste it now (shudder).
     Some fruit wines are quite awkward to make if you don't have a press to extract the juice with. And one year we had a LOT of apples, one way or another, so just had to have a go at apple wine. We made the apple into a puree, thinking this would make it easier to extract the juice, put the pulp into a jelly bag and left it suspended over a container through the night.
     The next morning an egg cup full of juice had dripped into the container and the jelly bag was still full of wet apple pulp.
     Then I had AN IDEA!
     In those days we had a free standing spinner to dry our washing, and I thought we could put the pulp in something and give it a spin in the spinner! that should extract the juice from the pulp in the same way as it extracted the wet from the washing!
    The pulp was quite heavy and we didn't want to overload the spinner, so we put some in a clean pillowcase and put it in the spinner and turned it on. It worked brilliantly, the juice poured out and we gave ourselves a pat on the back. This was going to be easy!
     When that lot had finished, feeling more confident we dumped the rest of the apple pulp in the pillow case, bunged it in the spinner and turned it on again.
     Now, the thing about these old fashioned spinners is that the load inside has to be balanced right, evenly all around or they do have a tendency to judder and shake. So the first lot of apple pulp must have been balanced evenly.
     The second lot was not.
     These spinners go from nought to 100miles an hour in about 4 seconds (or so it seems) and if they go to full speed with an unbalanced load the results can be quite dramatic.
    The next part can only have taken a few seconds, but it all seemed to happen in slow motion. The spinner started to make its juddery noise and both of us thought, it should even itself out, but if it doesn't we'll just switch it off and rebalance it. But before we had time to move, the spinner shot up to full speed and from standing still and juddering, the whole machine suddenly began to spin, but luckily as it span it also wrapped itself in its electrical lead, which swiftly ran out and it whipped its own plug out of the wall, but as it did so the lid of the spinner flew open and apple puree span through the air coating EVERYTHING in the kitchen from floor to ceiling in a layer of apple puree.
     I happened to be standing against the open kitchen door, and when I moved forward (coated from head to toe) and looked behind me, just like something out of a Tom and Jerry cartoon, there was a perfect apple puree silhouette of me outlined on the door.
     I started to laugh and then saw Graham's face - he did not think this was funny, which creased me up even more.
    We were finding apple puree for months afterward.


Saturday, 5 December 2015

How to Create a Magical Perfume

     In the corner of the living room stands a large oak office desk. This is my workbench where I make all sorts of goodies for Raven. From jewellery, rainbow generators (sun catcher danglies) and pendulums to incenses and magical oils.
     At one side of the desk are three thick folders, bulging with recipes for these magical perfumes. What most people do not realise is that the recipe is just the starting point. No two bottles of oil I make will ever be exactly the same.
     Even when I am following a tried and tested recipe, there will be differences. A bottle of essential oil may drip more quickly than expected, or my hand might shake and an extra drop or two of oil is added. As I use natural ingredients these can vary in strength and even be subtly different in flavour depending on the plants and even the weather conditions they were gathered in.
     So how do I go about making a magical oil?
    The starting point of every oil is to consider its purpose: what will this oil be used for? What is its essential nature? And then to think how that can be related to the astrological planets and the doctrine of signatures.
     I may also refer to my recipes for oils of a similar nature. So if I am looking at making an oil for gambling I would look at my recipes for Haitian Gambler, Lady Luck and Lucky Master (amongst others). That gives me ideas both of which oils might be found as a component in this type of blend and also the subtle differences between the blends.  I have been studying the magical uses of plants since I was a teenager, so a lot of the time I can just use my own knowledge to create an oil or incense. I prefer the finished blend to smell nice, but to be honest that usually takes care of itself - and, of course, something to conjure demons with is going to smell very different to one for a love spell.
     There are some plants which you will always (just about) find in certain types of blend, so for 'Love' an obvious ingredient is going to be rose. But there are different rose perfumes: tea rose smells different to damask rose, which also smells different to dog rose. And you could also use rosewood or rose geranium instead. All of these are members of the magical 'rose' family, but all have very different characters.
     In the same way a lemon fragrance could come from the lemon fruit, from lemongrass, bee balm, may chang or citronella.
     There are some perfumes which feature regularly in a variety of different types of blend, for example: rose, patchouli, cinnamon and frankincense. And others which are rarely used and only in a few recipes. where they are essential, such as: hyssop. oak moss or chamomile.
     The proportions of each essential oil used can change the nature (and useage) of a magical oil dramatically.
     Let us look at a simple recipe for an oil of magical seduction. We shall keep the ingredients simple: rose, pine and patchouli. and the simplest recipe would use equal parts of all three oils, so I would use 13 drops of each oil.
     However. with these three oils we can also change the blend proportions to create oils which emphasise either the female or male energies, and thus emphasise how active/passive the operator and their subject will be in a loving relationship. Or draw down more Goddess or God energies to infuse the operator.
     So for a strong Goddess emphasis I would change the proportions - and you can do this in a subtle or dramatic way. I always like a bit of drama, so let's go for: rose oil 30 drops, pine oil 6 and patchouli 3.
     For a strong God emphasis - and this one is a direct invitation to Old Hornie - we go for: patchouli 20 drops, pine 10 drops, rose 9 drops
    The same oils, but three very different recipes, with three very different emphasis in magic.
     You may have noticed that I am also making use of the powers of numbers here in the numbers of drops of oil used in each recipe:
3 is the number of the triple goddess
9 is also her number as it is 3 x 3
6 is the number of Venus (666 is the triple Venus number, female sexuality at its proud best.)
1 and 10 (1 + 0) are number of the Sun
13 is the special number of the Witches and represents the 13 Moons in a solar year.
30 = 6 x 5 the number of Venus multiplied by the power of the Pentacle.

     So when anyone orders an oil from Raven, what they are getting is an individual oil, hand made by me just for them, using my years of magical experience. Not something mass produced and plucked off the shelf.
     Now if I can just get folk to understand that this actually takes time to do, we might be getting somewhere.


Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Unnatural History of Ghosts

At this time of year, from Samhain to Yule in particular, it is said that the Doors Between the Worlds swing wide open and ghosts are free to roam the earth. But what do we mean by 'ghosts'?

In ghost stories we meet a usually scary and dangerous spirit which has designs on killing the living. A nonsensical and ridiculous idea, which if carried out would mean that the ghost of the person just killed would immediately be in a position to wreak its own revenge on the baddy ghost.

There are different kinds of ghosts which manifest for a variety of reasons or through special circumstances. The hauntings which most people encounter are a sort of psychic recording and often can only be viewed under special conditions such as on the anniversary of the original occurrence, or from a particular view point.

Another variation is when a person has newly died and they may appear to a loved one some distance away. There are some (rare) occasions when the spirit of a dead person does seem to linger either because of a tragedy in which they were involved, or more usually because they want to keep an eye on loved ones and were so happy that they are reluctant to move on.

In addition to these 'ghosts' there are also fairies, angels and demons, spirits of place and elementals. all of which are different species of spirits.

However these different kinds of ghosts or apparition are all manifestations of different aspects of spirit. And indeed sometimes the problem is that people do not understand the difference between a ghost and a spirit.

Each of us is a spirit clothed temporarily in a physical body. This means that we can be thought of as having at least two bodies: the physical body and the spirit body. This can be likened to a person driving a car: the car is being used by the spirit or person doing the driving, but the car is not the consciousness or personality, it merely goes where the driver desires.

However in addition to the physical and spirit body we also have other spiritual or non-corporeal bodies. There is the astral body: this is the part of our consciousness which can leave the physical body (usually during sleep) and journey through the physical universe and also into various alternate worlds or dimensions. When the astral body leaves the physical body it can sometimes appear to be tethered by an ever unrolling silver thread.

There is also what is sometimes called the etheric body. This is a sort of spirit 'shadow' formed from energy and appearing as an echo of the physical body. This is probably the nearest to the story book idea of a ghost and can appear as a luminous, insubstantial version of the physical person. It usually only manifests after death and has been described as the left over of physical vitality or energy and as such will dissipate over time as the energy also dissipates.

These ideas about the different types of spirit and physical bodies is not a new idea. The ancient Egyptians described seven different bodies including the physical, the ka (the astral), the ba (the soul which leaves the body at death and goes to live in the spirit world), the shadow (the etheric double) and the ren (the name, the essence of the personality).

So tonight the ghosts who will be free to roam the worlds are: for a start the spirits of loved ones of ours who we invite to share our Samhain revelries; non-human spirits such as fairies, demons, deities, angels, elementals; and our own spirits.

The doors between the worlds open in BOTH directions, so tonight is a wonderful opportunity to visit alternate dimensions, to visit the realm of the spirits, or to enter the fairy mounds, to see the splendour of the seelie court and dance with the pipers.

But do remember to carry a piece or iron and some salt in your pocket, so that when you return home, you will end up in the right place.

Safe journeys to all our visitors, corporeal and non corporeal.
Merry Meet, Merry Part and Merry Meet Again.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Not Doing the Accounts

     Today is Saturday morning, and what I should have been doing was getting on with our business books and accounts.
     It is now October and the tax man expects our tax returns by the end of the month and we have already had a threatening letter from the council that unless they see a copy of our accounts they will be stopping our council tax benefit. (Although I have spoken to a nice young chap on the phone who said that seeing as I'd rung in and explained the problem we should be ok for another month).
    So the weekend is a Good Time for getting on with doing the accounts as I am usually left in peace and can make some good progress.
    'Before you start on your paperwork,' said Graham, 'Would you mind just holding the ladder for me while I trim the jasmine?'
    We have a lovely jasmine round our front door, which blossoms all through the summer, and still now has little clumps of flowers here and there. But we had both noticed that it has really got a bit too vigorous this year, and had managed to get up to the guttering - never a good thing. So of course I agreed to this 'little' job.
     We had been given a ladder only the other day by a neighbour who wanted rid of it and thought we could chop it up for the fire - it is a perfectly good wooden ladder, just lightly green in places cos it has been left outside. So up the ladder with the hedge trimmer went Graham, while I leant on the bottom and acted as ballast. I didn't look up as it soon began raining great clumps of jasmine.
     After a while I told him I would have to sit down, and he had to move the ladder anyway, so we had a little break while my legs recovered enough to have another go.
     After a little while, and noticing how the little clumps of jasmine appeared to have amalgamated into a very large heap of jasmine, at the next break I went back to the garden gate so I could see where he was up to.
     Now one of the things I always forget is that when I say 'Trim the jasmine.' what Graham hears is 'Massacre, harm, destroy!' so I was a bit shocked to see that all that appears to remain of the bits he had 'trimmed' were sparce brown twigs.
    'I think you've taken enough off.' I said diplomatically - well you can't glue the stuff back on again, so no point having a row. 'Oh yes,' said Graham thoughtfully, 'I hadn't seen how it looked from a distance.'
     'Don't worry,' he said, 'It will all grow back in the spring. In fact,' he said optimistically, 'I'm sure that pruning it stimulates it to grow more vigorously.'

    I look forward to spring.
    In the meantime I must remember that Graham is the kind of man who, when given a job which requires either dynamite or a bulldozer, would enthusiastically use both!


Tuesday, 29 September 2015

As it is St Michael's Day, Michaelmas, here is a prayer which appears in An Alternative Almanack of Unlikely Saints by Chris Sempers and Elizabeth St. George. It is used both for personal protection against foes and all evil, and to banish negative energies and entities from your home.

Michael, Archangel, 
defend us in the day of battle and be our safeguard 
against the time of darkness. 
May the Shrouded One dispel all evil, 
Michael, thou Prince of the Heavenly Host, 
by that ultimate light, thou shalt thrust all evil from us and protect us 
from those dreadful things that wander through the world for the ruin of souls.
Go forth from this place, O Evil, 
in the name of the One who has created all things. 
May all the power of our enemy, all the dark host, every evil onslaught, 
every phantasm depart from here, now and forevermore. 
Leave us, O Darkness and all evil. Go hence in the name of Deity.
So Mote it be!

The above book is published by Corvus Books and available from Raven at only £4.95 plus p&p

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Not Another Equinox Post ...

I am sure I have mentioned, when talking about the Equinoxes how rather than being a time of balance and harmony, they can be a time when all sorts of stuff seems to rear up and bite you on the bum.
     I suspect this is a sort of cosmic clear out. It is probably no co-incidence that it is around the time of the Spring Equinox that we suddenly decide the house is looking dingy and shabby and could do with a right good clean - if not a total redecoration! And a similar kind of clearing of the decks often seems to go on through the magical and physical worlds.
    So it ought to be no surprise whatsoever that this morning - the day after the astrological equinox - we get up to find that rather than the freezer doing an impression of the arctic, we are now in possession of the lake district! Yep full melt down with accompanying floods.
    Not all things which happen around the Equinoxes is bad though. We have had a mixture of all sorts this year: gave in and bought wheels, yes new wheelchair arrived last week. So now we are set up for Great Adventures such as Going Round Sainsbury's, Visiting the Shopping Centre, and possibly subject to negotiations with man the mighty wheelchair pusher, A Walk in the Country - having tried the chair out I am surprised just how bumpy and wobbly even the most normal pavements are, the Walk in the Country might be a jolt too far.
    We have also had a lovely surprise of a new, second hand lap top and tablet from some generous Danish friends of ours.
    Incidentally, in the spirit of 'if you are given lemons, make lemonade', seeing as everything in the freezer was going to have to be thrown out or eaten immediately, we have made a VAST pan of meat stew. It has Lincolnshire sausages, chicken breasts and some very nice burgers from the local butcher in there and tastes amazing.
     Now all we need are eight to ten extra people to help us eat it.
     Anyone feeling peckish?

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Musings on the Equinoxes

     In the ancient saga The Voyage of Melduin, the sailors come to a strange island divided in half by a fence. On one side of the fence all the sheep are white and on the other side all the sheep are black.
     But the strangest thing of all was demonstrated by the shepherd of the island: he picked up a white sheep and threw it over the fence so that it was in with the black sheep, and immediately its hooves touched the ground the sheep turned black. To prove this was not a fluke, the shepherd then took one of the black sheep and led it through the gate into the white sheep half, and as he did so the sheep turned as snow white as all the rest.

     This is a real demonstration that nothing is 'black or white', it very often depends on where you are standing and what your view of the situation is.

     The Equinoxes are times when as Pagans we are very aware of the nature of dark and light. Equinox literally means 'Equal-night' when the length of day and night are exactly the same, but in the Autumn the darkness is growing, while in Spring it is the light which is advancing.

     Of course, this is not a one way street, as the darkness grows and strengthens each day from the Autumn Equinox until the Winter Solstice, the light grows less, the length of the daylight shortening as the nights lengthen.

     The Autumn Equinox is also a time of celebration as most of the harvests have been gathered in, so now we give thanks for our stores of food to see us through the Winter. Of course these days, to many of us in the Western world, the harvest is not even noticed as we are so far removed from food production. We don't think of the farmers watching the weather anxiously while they wait for a run of dry days to harvest the grain which will be milled into flour for the loaves we casually buy at the supermarket and toss into the rubbish bin, half eaten.
     We don't understand that those sanitised packages of meat came from living, breathing animals - or we would rather not think about it.
     Only if you have prepared meat from an animal which you have had to skin or pluck do you have some understanding of how lucky we are to be able to have whatever meat, fruit and vegetables our hearts desire.
     In many parts of the world people are not so lucky.

     This year Graham has taken up home brewing once more. This was something we used to do regularly, years ago, but we got too busy to fit it in, so all the home brew gear was disposed of. Now we are once more in production, Graham has been collecting fruit from the local woods and hedgerows and is brewing up an Autumn Wine, composed of elder berries, blackberries, rosehips and apples.
     The wine will be used to celebrate the bounty of the Earth, and will keep the blessings of the Equinox in our minds whenever we drink it.
     I am hoping that the wine will be ready for Yule. Graham remarked 'You didn't say which Yule did you?'

     Of course we are not saying that everyone has to go and pick wild fruit and make their own wine. All we are saying is: take the time to think about the blessings we all take for granted.

    We all have our own harvests, whether it is a new baby or a promotion at work, or the mastering of a musical instrument, or a new cake recipe, they do not always come to fruition around the Autumn Equinox, but now is a perfect time to thank your deities for helping you with them.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

The Power of the Equinoxes

     The Equinoxes are usually thought of as times of balance. A time when the powers of light and darkness are equal, and thus a moment of harmony within the cycle of the turning year.

     At the point of the Equinoxes the length of day and night are equal.This is easily depicted as an old fashioned balance scale, the symbol of Libra (Sept 23-Oct 22) with the two pans of the balance level.

     But a more accurate analogy might be the eye of a storm. When the 'eye' of a storm passes directly overhead, there is an eerie time of peace and calm before the storm moves on and hits with its full force again.

     The wheel of the year never ceases its turning, it is constantly and perpetually in movement. If you consult an astrological ephemeris you will see that there are precise times given for the Equinoxes (and Solstices too). So rather than being thought of as times of balance, it might be more accurate to think of the Equinoxes as times of dynamic change.

     They are certainly times which are known as 'cracks between the worlds', special times of magical energy, but they are times when the emphasis or direction of those energies undergoes fundamental change.

     At the Autumn Equinox suddenly the emphasis of the energy changes from more-light-than-dark to more-dark-than-light.

     Coming up to the Equinox you can almost see this change happening every day. Each day the sun rises later and sets earlier. Each day the darkness lingers longer in the morning and closes in more quickly in the evening.

     If you are tuned in to these magical currents, as most magical practitioners are, you can feel the rising of the dark energies.

     By the way NEVER get into the mind set of light = good, dark = evil. These energies are Yin and Yang, you can't have one without the other. It is always what you do with those energies that is important. You might as well say electricity = good, magnetism = evil. They are just energies.

     BUT to a magical practitioner, often the energies of the dark half of the year are more useful and more powerful.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

What Are 'Correspondences'?

For those of you who have missed out on the full wonder of the Raven Newsletter (FREE to active customers and also available by Subscription - £5.00 in UK and NI, £10 Eire and EU) here is an article from our latest edition:

I suppose the principle of correspondences can be summed up in the words of the abbreviated Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus:
As above, so below

Correspondences are symbols which magically resonate together. They can be ideas, physical objects, colours, crystals, shapes, plants or animals, but they are all used to add power, success and effectiveness to spells and magical workings.
     Once you start doing any magical working, ritual or spell, you will naturally begin to use correspondences without thinking about it, and without even realising you are doing it.
     For example a simple spell for good luck:
     On a Wednesday with the moon waxing, mark an orange candle with the symbol of Mercury. Light the candle and put near it a marker you will use in Bingo and say:
Lady Luck, Lord of Chance,
Make the Bingo numbers dance
Help me win and fill my need,
Make numbers fill my card with speed!

     Let the candle burn down, then pick up the marker pen and say:
My Lucky Pen will help me win!

     Obviously take the pen with you to Bingo and use it to mark your card.

     The above spell makes use of quite a few different correspondences. First the day of the week, Wednesday is sacred to the god Mercury/Hermes who devised the first gambling game, bones or dice.
     The Moon waxing is used to increase anything as the shape of the Moon can be seen as waxing or growing towards full. In this case we are 'growing' our Good Luck.
     Orange is one of the colours sacred to Mercury and this is emphasised by marking the candle with the symbol of Mercury too.
     The marker pen you put by the candle is being infused with the energies of Good Luck which you are gathering with your spell, and becomes a lucky talisman for you to take with you to Bingo.
     Very often the sheer number of correspondences that an experienced magician or Witch incorporates into their rituals can be seen as overwhelming to a beginner. There are books written exclusively on this subject including '777' by Aleister Crowley.
     But really there are a few major ones which can easily be learnt: the energies of the phases of the moon; the energies of the days of the week; and the significance of colours.
     Many other correspondences are based on these few simple basic correspondences. For examples the correspondences of plants and trees is based on the Doctrine of Signatures which says that each plant contains indications of what it might be useful for, either in its colour, shape of leaf or root etc. This in turn leads to each plant being assigned and astrological planet, which again has the same correspondences as the days of the week.
     The significance of colours often also indicates what a particular gem stone could be used for. So pink stones are sacred to Venus, yellow ones to the Sun and so on.
     One other point about correspondences is that they can also depend on what you feel about a colour or object. And upon your cultural background too. For example to the Chinese red is the colour of wealth and good luck, so you could use a red candle in the above spell, and instead of marking it with the symbol of Mercury you could mark the candle 88 as the number eight is seen as being very similar to the Chinese symbol for happiness and luck, so 88 is the equivalent to the Chinese symbol Double Good Luck, which is a very potent and fortunate symbol to use.
     Have a look at our Fact Sheets number 2 Candle and Colour Magic and 49 Planetary Magic, these will give you the basics of correspondences and help you get on your way to effective, practical magic

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Giving In and Getting On

If you have been reading my blogs and/or the Raven Newsletter, you may remember me writing a piece bewaling the perversity of knees which refuse to do the things they were designed for i.e. bending and straightening. Well this year things were not improved in the 'walking about' field when I managed to snap a tendon in my foot/ankle.

Of course it is improving, but as you get older you notice how much more slowly these things get better than they did when you were younger. It has meant that getting round a small supermarket has become a BIG achievement, and any visits anywhere have to be planned like a military campaign as basically I can go 20-30mtrs then I will HAVE to sit down. It also means we have to do a kind of 'plea bargaining' when Graham and I want to do several shops in one go, such as: well if I don't go round that shop, I should be able to get round the next one, but that will knacker me for anything else.

It has also meant that I can't go into pedestrian areas if there are no seats within easy reach, or if I do manage it, by the time I get to a seat I will be knackered and won't be able to make it round any of the shops. It is annoying and frustrating.

Incidentally there is NOTHING wrong with my mentality, my brain has not been switched off and I have not reverted to childhood. So why do people speak to me sometimes as if I am retarded or need to be humoured?

A few times recently we have attempted to go to a Boot Sale - I love finding treasures! But unless we are parked right next to the stalls, I cannot make it from the car to the stalls and back again. Which has meant Graham having to go round on his own - and you never know what that will lead to (well actually I can tell you what that will lead to now, he will find another exercise machine!).

This weekend Alford Craft Market is on. A great place to visit, as you might imagine a whole market full of fab hand made stuff, from pottery and cushions to paintings and jewellery. For many years we had a stall at the market, selling a variety of goods starting with hand made cosmetics and creams and ending up with hand painted glassware, and we still try and go to have a look around and meet up with old friends.

But this year, there was no way I could make it to the Manor House grounds from the car park, so Graham had to go on his own.

So we are thinking about getting a wheelchair for me.

I have been fighting this for a while as to me it feels like giving in. I should be able to walk, and if I could walk a bit more, I know eventually I would get better at it - but in actuality it is meaning that I am going nowhere, I am spending hours just sitting in the car waiting for Graham to do stuff and the pair of us are missing out on doing stuff together.

'Sounds just like my mum,' said Maggie on the Craft Market, 'She wasn't having a stick to walk with, then she had to have a stick. Then she wasn't having a wheelchair, now she has a wheelchair and it is so much easier for everyone, and she gets to go places with my dad.'

To be honest, now I have allowed myself to start thinking about the possibilities, I am starting to think this might not be a bad idea.

It may even give me more exercise as I shall be pushing myself around at least some of the time, and if I can wheelchair to a shop, then I can walk around the shop and know I won't be stuck at the end of it.

Wonder if I could do Robin Hood's Bay ? ....

Monday, 24 August 2015

Gang Aft Agley

The best laid plans of mice and men ... and even Witches too!

So this was the weekend of printing folding and stuffing. The mail shot was written - well nearly, I actually was finishing off the Newsletter while already starting the printing of other parts - and we were settling down to a weekend of getting all the various parts printed and folded then stuffed into envelopes ready for posting on Monday (today).

Because I do not trust technology, I always make sure that rather than printing all of one section, then going on to another, I actually print a hundred of each for a start, so that should anything go wrong, at least we can get some of the mail shots out. Not that I expected anything to go wrong.

So while I was finishing the Newsletter and printing, Graham had started sticking address labels on envelopes and folding the printed parts. This one is quite a complicated mail shot with several different sections including a new Book Shop, a section with tarot cards and divination sets, limited stocks of new books, a special Sale section, plus of course the Newsletter and order form. So quite a bit of printing.

So  I had managed to print out everything, except the main bit, the Book Shop, which I had just started on. When all of sudden the photocopier did its frantic 'I need attention' beeping. It does this for a paper jam, if it needs more paper or a new toner cartridge. So nothing too worrying until I saw a new message on the touch screen 'Waste Toner Bottle full, send for service.'

I duly made a note of the message and told it to carry on printing, which it said it would after it had warmed up - and then refused to have anything further to do with me.

Of course the photocopier service people do not work at the weekend. So there we were stuffed.

So thanks to my mistrust of technology, we did have some complete sets, and have managed to send out some of the Mail Shot, but there are still a lot which need printing.

So this is an explanation of where we are currently up to, and the rest of the Mail Shot will go out just as soon as the engineer has been and seen to the photocopier. Sorry if you are one of those in the 'delayed' section, but hopefully all will be sorted out within the next few days.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

What Did You Do at Lughnassadh This Year?

It is a beautiful Lughnassadh morning, the sun is actually shining, which makes a change this summer. And I have already made some milk bread for us, which we had hot from the oven with breakfast.

I am currently upstairs keeping out of the way while Graham tackles the downstairs with wire doggy brush and vacuum cleaner.

Having two very hairy dogs, we have tried all sorts to get hair out of the carpets. A good tip was to use a rubber broom, and this does indeed work, but is an extremely physical muscle building exercise. Then one night when the dogs had had enough of the wire doggy brush, Graham idly started using it on the carpet as a joke. To our amazement it brings loads of hair out plus a surprising amount of grit. Yes you do have to be on your hands and knees to use it, but you can clean the carpet amazingly quickly, then vacuum around afterwards to pick up the grit.

Today, however, the carpets are getting a particularly thorough going over, as last night when Graham was reading his book, a full stop suddenly leapt across the page, then onto the carpet, then my foot and bit me on the ankle.

Yes it was a mini traveller. A dog flea.

At this time of year it is almost impossible to be sure you are a flealess household as, even though the dogs have been flea-doomed twice this summer, they only have to walk somewhere out in the woods where a flea might be lurking to be in danger of bringing a visitor home with them.

So the dogs are currently hiding under the bed behind me as they fear they might be getting the blame for the amount of noise and swearing going on downstairs. And I am likewise staying out of the way of the man on a mission.

Have vacuum, will get traveller! (We hope)

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Summer

For those of you who have the misfortune not to be on the Raven Mailing List - and therefore miss out on the wonder that is the Raven Newsletter (sub £5.00 per year UK and NI, £10 Eire and Europe) here is an article which appeared in the last edition and I hope you will enjoy:

     We are now into the Dog Days when Sirius is snapping at the Sun's heels, making the Sun God burn even more brightly, heating the Earth.
     In these days people long to sit in the shade, or relax in the sun, but mainly doing nothing in the heat.
     Roses are in full bloom and the jasmine fills the evenings with sweet, seductive perfumes, for as the temperatures rise, so do the passions.
     Summer is the time when you can fall in love (or in lust) and perhaps do something stupid or out of character, like having a wild affair. Hopefully this will be just a brief aberration and no-one will get hurt, but that is rare and more often other passions will be roused: jealousy, anger and even the desire for revenge. How we humans hurt each other, even the ones we love.
     But how much more destructive and terrible can it be when gods are involved.
     Adonis is a typical story of love and passions, not all of them amorous.
     Let us start with the boast of a proud mother, that her daughter Myrrha was more beautiful than the Goddess of love, Aphrodite. Aphrodite who all men fell in love with as soon as they saw her beautiful face. Aphrodite who was jealous of any rival who might cause heads to turn away from her.
     So Myrrha's mother thought her daughter was beautiful enough to temps any man, Aphrodite mused, and laughed, so shall it be.
     And one night when drink had flowed freely and the inhibitions of the king, her father were lowered, King Cyniras seduced his own daughter and made her pregnant.
    When he found out what had happened, the king was both ashamed and angry and chased after his daughter with a sword to kill both her and her unborn son. Some say that Myrrha changed into a myrtle tree and her son grew safe within her. Others say she was killed by her father, but Aphrodite showed compassion by saving her unborn son, yet others that Myrrha and her son were locked in a box and thrown into the sea, and were rescued on a distant shore.
     But certainly the baby survived and was named Adonis, which means 'Lord' and he was the most beautiful baby, and child and young man that anyone had seen.
     Indeed he was so beautiful that the goddess of love, great Aphrodite fell in love with him and went down to earth to spend time with him. But she was not the only goddess who had seen the lovely young man striding through the forests, his bow taking down whatever game he aimed at.
     The goddess Artemis goddess of hunting and eternal virgin, had had the youth in her sights too - but Aphrodite had swooped down and carried off the prize.
     Artemis was furious, how dare Aphrodite take Adonis from her. Artemis grew more and more angry and in her rage sent a huge boar rampaging over the land, its tusks sharp, its anger as fierce as her own. It trampled and gored every creature it came across, laying a swathe of devastation through the land. And there stood Adonis, the youth, the Lord who would save the land by killing the boar.
     But Artemis was in a killing fury and when the boar passed, its tusks dripped red with the blood of Adonis, sprinkling the earth. Aphrodite found him, his blood sinking into the black earth and wherever the drops fell, wind flowers, anemones, bloomed, their blossoms as beautiful, fragile and short lived as Adonis.
     Aphrodite wept and the spirit of Adonis slipped away, down into the black, endless night of the kingdom of Persephone, queen of the Underworld.
     Aphrodite was inconsolable, she wept in Olympus and begged mighty Zeus to release Adonis from the Underworld. She begged and pleaded, baurtiful even in her grief, so beautiful that seeing her made the world weep with her. And in the end Zeus agreed and sent clever Hermes, the messenger, to the kingdom of Hades to retrieve the soul of Adonis.
     But the beauty of Adonis had survived even into the Underworld, and when Hermes found Adonis he was seated with Persephone. Hermes smiled and pleaded, and threatened and cajoled and Persephone said 'Whoever enters my kingdom will not leave again, that is the law.'
     Hermes returned to Zeus alone, and Zeus's temper grew and mount Olympus was shrouded in dark clouds and the thunder boomed and lightning flashed in sheets and spiky bolts, striking the earth randomly, but never reaching Persephone where she sat upon her throne in the Underworld and gazed upon the beauty of Adonis.
     So Zeus raged and Aphrodite wept, until Hermes suggested that they hold a hearing, where both goddesses could plead their case.
     Zeus appointed the Muse Calliope to hear the testimony of the goddesses and her ruling was that Adonis would spend four months in the Underworld with Persephone, four months with Aphrodite, and would have four months of freedom to roam the world as he wanted.
     So in the Spring Adonis returns from the Underworld and is free to wander the wide world, sprinkling his flowers to welcome the returning life and light. And in the Summer the earth blossoms with the flowers of love because Aphrodite is with her lover once more. And in the cold winter, when the earth lies dead as a corpse, Adonis sits with the cold queen of the Underworld and brings a semblance of roses to her pale cheeks and a hint of cherries to her lips.

Hymn to Adonis, the Dying God

In Adonis's rosy arms the Lady of Cyprus lies, and he in hers.
A bridegroom of eighteen or nineteen years is he.
His kisses are not rough, the golden down being still upon his lips.
And now goodnight to Cyprus, in the arms of her lover
But in the morning, we will all of us gather with the dew,
And carry him forth among the waves that break upon the beach,
And with hair loosed, bosoms bare, and robes falling to the ankle,
We will begin our sweet, shrill song.
Be gracious to us now, dear Adonis, and in the coming year.
Dear to us has thy coming been, Adonis,
And dear it shall be when you come again.

                                                               Theocritus 3rd century bce

Friday, 10 July 2015

Holda - Goddess of Fruitfulness?

On the 10th of July I put up a post for remembering three Goddesses, Skadi, Holda and Hel and said that Skadi is the Northern Goddess of hunting and hunters, Holda goddess of the hearth and fruitfulness and Hel daughter of Loki and Goddess of the Underworld. They appear now to remind us that although it is Summer, Winter will come and so now is the time to ensure that you will have sufficient stores for the coming season.

The mention of Holda as a goddess of fruitfulness, has got a few folks baffled, so I thought it might be an idea to go into this more deeply.

Holda is also known as the Elder Mother, which is usually interpreted to mean that she is a Crone goddess. She is after all, one of the goddesses of the crossroads, who guards the gateway between the worlds. In folk stories she appears as Mother Holda, who has down filled mattresses which need to be turned regularly, and when they are, the tiny downy feathers are released and fall to earth as snowflakes. So she is a goddess of Winter, and often celebrated around the Winter Solstice. But her mattress does not dwell in solitary splendour, her mattress is with the home of Mother Holda, or Frau Holle. A home where things are kept in order, the hearth clean and swept, the cauldron bubbling busily over the fire, the mattresses turned regularly. Frau Holle is a proud house wife, her house is spick and span, ready for whatever work she chooses to do whether it is making jam or brewing a potion.

Notice though, in both of the above she is referred to as 'Mother'. This can, of course, simply be an honorific, a title showing respect. Or it can refer to the fact that she is a Mother Goddess.

Holda is a complex goddess, and as she is linked to the Elder Tree, her nature changes through the year and can be represented by the changes in the Tree. In the spring time the elder is festooned with lacy heads, and full of intoxicating perfume, and clouds of pollen, it is the very essence of fertility, a Maiden in her prime enticing bees to come and pollinate her. At this time we are also reminded that Elder is a fairy tree, and the door to fairy land can sometimes be found beneath an elder. Elders are also wishing trees and at Beltane, they are one of the trees we tie scraps of rag and ribbons to when we make a wish. Elder flowers also make a fizzy intoxicating wine, that is both simple and quick to make.

In the Summer Elder sets her fruit, and her leaves are a shady place to keep off the worst rays of the sun. Incidentally all parts of the Elder were at one time used in medicine and remedies, so that the Elder was known as the Poor Man's Medicine Chest.

In Autumn the branches of the Elder droop under the weight of the purple fruit it bears. They are rather bitter to eat, but they make a rich and heady, deep coloured wine. The birds love those fruit and eat as many as they can manage. So at this time Holda certainly is being very literally 'fruitful'.

Remember also that of all the trees, Elder, the tree of Mother Holda, is the only one where we still remember the ritual rhyme we must speak before we gather any of her wood:

Lady Holda, give me some of thy wood
And I will give thee some of mine, when it grows again in the forest.

Sometimes the rhyme is addressed to Lady Elen, which is yet another name for the lady of the Crossroads. Everything goes around in circles, like the cycle of the year.

Like the trees which 'die' in the winter, losing their leaves and their beauty, revealing their skeletal limbs to the chill winter winds, then are reborn in the spring, with new leaves and flowers, so we are also promised that we will live again, one way or another.

Vrou Elde, Mother Holle, Lady Elen, Holda promises us that we will live again in the forest.

She is the life giver - what can be more fruitful than that?

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Hello, Raven...?

The hazards and delights of answering the phone:

Hello, Raven... ?
Is that the Post Office?

Hello, Raven... ?
Can I speak to whoever deals with (insert any of the following):
your fleet requirements,
your company health insurance,
your internet package,
your power supply,
your deisel requirements
etc., etc.,

Hello Raven...?
Do you sell joss sticks?

Hello Raven... ?
Can I speak to Mark?
There is no one of that name here.
There must be, he gave me this number!
01482 632512?
Oh, sorry, I've got a digit wrong

Hello Raven ... ?
I'm ringing to check if you have the correct thickness of loft insulation

Hello Raven... ?
This is the last time we shall contact you about your PPI compensation claim
(That is a promise which gets your hopes up - but I've had the same call at least half a dozen times in the last three days.'

Hello Raven ... ?
I know exactly what you mean!
Oh sorry, I was talking to my mate

Hello Raven ...?
Can I ask you about a spell working?
Go ahead :)

Hello Raven ...?
Do you hate cleaning your cooker?

Hello Raven ... ?
I'm ringing about your facia boards

Hello Raven... ?
Can I speak to Maria
Sorry we don't have a Maria here
Is that the town council?

And finally the ones we look forward to:
Hello Raven ...?
Hi, Can I place an order please?...

Saturday, 27 June 2015

It's a WUFFF Life

At long last we have managed to shoe-horn a gap into our schedule so that we can concentrate on updating the Magical Curiosities section of the catalogue.

We have got lots of changes this year, stuff coming out and new stuff going in. We have a new supplier of hand made, dipped candles for example, including some gorgeous beeswax ones, but that is only one line.

Anyway Saturday is often a good day for starting this kind of project, as it is nice and quiet and we are not near the phone and rarely get interrupted. So I have been working on my pc in the office and Graham has been working on his in our bedroom. His desk is at the far side of the room and he sits with his back to the bed.

I am in the office with my radio on as loudly as possible, listening to the Graham Norton show, which again ensures that nothing distracts me (apart from Graham Norton and Maria of course, I love the 'Grill Graham' bit as the two of them are very down to earth expressing their views on problems sent in by listeners - which may not be as 'pc' as some - this morning one of the 'problems' was a lady who was convinced that the smell of her neighbours cigarettes was seeping through the walls, and the advice given was along the lines of 'get a life'). I have been concentrating so not really taking notice of anything around me, except when periodically Maeve comes into the office and nudges my elbow, to have a stroke and a bit of fuss.

What I didn't realise was that she has been relaxing on our bed, behind Graham and every so often, with no warning giving a loud WUFFF, making Graham jump, who then shouts at her.

So it seems that when I have been getting nudged for a fuss, it is straight after Maeve has been told off by Graham for making him jump. So then she goes back in the bedroom gets on the bed ....
and goes WUFFF loudly, making Graham jump .... rinse and repeat.

Saturday, 20 June 2015


Midsummer is the time of greatest light, when the days are at their longest and when the weather is (usually) settled and warm. This year, the way we can tell it is midsummer is because the rain is lovely and warm - in the words of the immortal Spike Milligan.

The very longest day of the year is the Midsummer Solstice, and this is the day when Druids and many others will make a pilgrimage to Stonehenge to watch the sun rise. Let us hope they are able to see the sun.

But in former times Midsummer did not refer to the Solstice, but to Midsummers Day, which is the 24th of June and the feast of the nativity of St John the Baptist, and echoes the birthday of his cousin Jesus which was fixed at the 25th of December, and thus takes over the Midwinter Solstice festival.
This means that we can hold our own Midsummer celebrations at any time from the eve of the Solstice, to the date of Midsummer by the Old Julian Calendar, the 4th of July (a day well known for festivals).

This also means that spells which say that a herb should be gathered on Midsummer's Eve, can actually be gathered at any time within this space for the same magical potency, for example in this spell from 1520:

'Yf any woman wyll that her husbande or her paramour love her well, she ought to put in his shoo a lefe of Brekens that had been gathered on saynt Johans even (23rd June) whyles that they ringe none (3pm), so that it be in the left shoo, and without faute he shall love her mervaylously.'

None (to rhyme with bone) is one of the divine services, and takes its name from the Roman way of counting the hours, it is the ninth hour of day light. Brekens can be bracken or any other fern, remember fern are especially magical at this time of year. Fern seen gathered by moonlight can make the bearer invisible and also reveal the fairy folk to your sight. It is also reputed to bring great wealth and good fortune to anyone who carries it.

An Elizabethan ballad captures the fun to be had at the Solstice celebrations:
When Midsummer comes,
with bavens and brooms,
bonfires they do inspire.
And swiftly then,
the nimble young men
run leaping over the pyre.
The women and maidens
forgetting the ravens
together do couple their hands.
With bagpipes' sweet sound,
they dance 'round and 'round
no malice amongst them will stand

Bavens are bundles of twigs for burning in the summer bonfires.

Midsummer is one of the special times for seeing and speaking to spirits of all kinds. From fairies and trolls to spirits of the dead.

One of the easiest ways to interact with the spirits is simply to invite them to your celebration. If you are having a special meal you can lay an extra place for your spirit friend, and make sure you serve them up some of your goodies - they won't need a lot, spirits don't eat much.

You could also leave out some offerings for the fairies. They are partial to a cup of tea, bread and butter and cake. You could make some special cookies, bake a hole in them so that you can thread them on ribbons and hang them from a fairy tree - hawthorn, elder, birch or apple are all good.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

This Week

Well so far this has been an interesting week.

On Monday I had a grand ordering session. Not something that happens very often, but we are updating our Main catalogue, Magical Curiosities, which will be sent out for the next year, and there are a lot of changes to be made. Stuff to come out and new stuff to go in.

Of course before we even get to the ordering stage, there is a period of heavy wrangling between Graham and myself deciding which new items to include, and which we will have to take out to make room for them. So we wrangled over the previous weekend and had come up with a list of stuff to order.

We had also decided the dogs could do with a bath - not a task we undertake lightly with two large and very hairy rough collies. So Tuesday morning we rolled up sleeves, took off quite a lot of clothing (everything is going to get very wet) and set about the first dog, Maeve. I had just got her out of the bath and was attempting to fend her into the back garden for a shake, when there was a knock at the door. Graham was by this time dealing with China in the bath.

It was Barry, the mechanic to pick up our car for its MOT. So I gave him the car keys and he took the car - and Maeve thought 'Whoopee!' and headed upstairs to attempt to dry herself on our bed.

With a little persuasion - ok there was shouting involved - Maeve was directed out into the back garden, rubbed with a large towel and had several invigorating shakes.

After China had been dealt with in the same way, we did our normal routine: sorted the post, picked orders. But Tuesday was a beautiful day, the first sunny and properly warm day of the year, so we decided to have the afternoon off and for the first time since last year, sat out in the garden, with books and dogs. It was blissful and felt like a holiday. The birds were busy swooping through the garden, swallows chattering high overhead, catching insects. The cotoneaster buzzing with lots of tiny bees, its flowers are barely worth a mention, but the bees love them.

Wednesday we continued with our normal routine, processing orders, blending oils, collecting ready made items, printing books and fact sheets. There was a call from the garage telling us that the car would be returned either Wednesday or Thursday.

At tea time the work phone handset died. No warning, just totally dead. We had to hastily find another phone and plug it in, but of course this phone I can't take the handset with me round the house and I am working mainly upstairs today (Thursday).

So tomorrow will be even more interesting. We have to visit our paper supplier, then go buy Graham some shoes, go find a new phone, and hope that we don't miss a delivery while we are out and about.

I am looking forward to getting the next catalogue out. We have had a delivery of hand dipped colourful candles already - including some gorgeous beeswax ones. Oh and a box of altar cloths has just arrived, we have some more Green Man ones.

Oh and then the Book Shop is being updated too, I have two new titles completed, and just in their finishing stages. One on Issobell Gowdie and the other Folk Witchery for Beginners, based on my Blog posts. We have also sent for a selection of Tarot and oracle cards, so lots to look forward to.

If you want to be sure you get a copy of our catalogues you can always message me your address through facebook - sorry we can only supply UK and EU.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Patroness of Flute Players

A three day festival of Minerva/Athene as the patroness of flute players starts on the 13th of June. The guild of flute players was very important in ancient Rome, and at this time they honoured the goddess by masked processions through the city and a banquet held in her honour in the temple of Jupiter.

Ovid has the Goddess herself explaining the origins or the festival:

'In the times of your ancestors the flute player was much employed and held in great honour. The flute played in the temples, it played at games, it played at mournful funerals.. The labour was sweetened by its reward, but a time followed when the traditions were broken, and the flute players were sent into exile.
Plautius then devised a plan for their return. In order to deceive the Senate as to their persons and their numbers, Plautius commanded that their faces be covered with masks; and he mingled other with them and ordered them to wear long garments, to the end that women flute players might be added to the band and in that way the return of the exiles could be concealed'

Minerva then explains why she is the patroness of the flute players:

'I was the first to make the long flute pipes resonate with music, by cutting holes at intervals in boxwood. It pleased me to play the flute, but when I saw my face reflected in a pool of clear water, my youthful cheeks were all puffed out.
The sound of the flute is not worth that!
Goodbye, dear flute, I said.
Nevertheless, I am the inventor of the flute and the first composer of flute music.
That is why this day is sacred to flute players.'

From Ovid's words it sounds like it was the Senate who decided to get rid of the flute players, perhaps because they were played by women as well as men, but this was obviously not a popular decision, and was thwarted by Plautius. He made it so that the identities of the players was hidden, and their sex also, enabling both men and women to once more play the flute for celebrations and religious rites.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

A Wedding to Remember

Yesterday is a day which will be forever etched in my memory - well possibly the date won't as I am crap at remembering dates of when stuff happened - but the day itself was lovely.

It was the long awaited day when our son Michael wed his lovely lady Cherise Sellars got married, They have been together eight years now and have a son, Eden (5 and a half), but Cherise has been planning the wedding for years.

Both the ceremony, wedding breakfast and evening celebration were all held at a hotel called Lazats, which is a smashing place, not too far away from us, and just enough in the country to be surrounded by fields and trees. It was not too hot, but it was a bright, dry day, with a little breeze to keep it comfortable.

The ceremony was due to start at one p.m. so we arrived at 12.30, together with our friend Jack Nichols who had travelled up from Lowestoft for the wedding. It wasn't long before we were shown into the room where the civil ceremony was to be held, all the chairs with white covers and a purple organza bow on them, and ours marked with little cards for the father and mother of the groom. Graham promptly took his card and slipped it in the band of his hat, so he was for the rest of the day 'reserved'.

When everyone was assembled the registrar explained the order of the proceedings, and when we would be allowed to take pictures - at the end and not before!

Mike looked lovely in his suit and lilac coloured waistcoat (Eden had a matching outfit too), but we couldn't wait to see Cherise's dress. The two bridesmaids and maid of honour - Cherise's sister, Laura - were in lilac and looked lovely and stylish too. Cherise looked a picture when she processed down the aisle on her dad's arm. Her hair had been done in a loose and deceptively simple style with a sparkling clasp of crystals and silver leaves and flowers around the back and side of her hair. Her dress suited her beautifully, with a corsetted top and full skirt with a short train, she really did look like a princess.

During the ceremony they both gave and received a ring, we found out afterwards that Mike's was cobalt, which is a white metal neither Graham nor I had seen before, and Cherise's was white gold.
Mike managed to get through his vows nearly flawlessly, but Cherise's voice broke with emotion and she had a job saying the last few words, I think it brought a lump to the throat of most folk there, and I saw a few tissues being passed out.

When it came to the signing of the registry, Cherise's dad shouted 'Don't do it Mike!', but the registrar said, 'You are too late, it's the exchanging of the vows which makes the marriage, this is just registering the fact.'

Here is a pic of Cherise and Mike signing the register. I took it from where we sat, behind the best man Danny Smith and Cherise's dad, Peter Sellars.

After the ceremony we went out onto the terrace and had drinks and canapes, while the photographer got to work, creating groups of various people. Of course, when Graham and I were called to our turn in the firing line, Graham had just got himself a pint of Carlsberg. 'Without the beer please.' said the photographer, so Graham dutifully put it down out of sight , 'And now with beer!' said Mike, so the beer will be featured after all.

While the photos were being sorted, we chatted with Rowan Wildash (our friend who has just opened her own business Ninefold Tattoo Studio) and her friend Darren, and other people who introduced themselves, or were introduced to us as friends and relatives. There were quite a number of friends who were from the online game World of Warcraft and who we knew by their in game character names first of all. When we went in to the meal afterwards, I saw that many of them had been put together on one table and their place cards were all given by their character names.

The tables looked lovely, with white, lavender and purple flowers, candles in crackled holders, and the wedding favours we had made a couple of weeks ago at every place setting. Each name card had a little piece of folk belief or wedding lore, and these had been matched to suit whoevers card it was. Grahams said 'It is lucky on your wedding day to see a rainbow or a black cat' and mine 'snake rings dotted with ruby eyes were popular wedding bands in Victorian England - the coils winding into a circle symbolised eternity'.

A two piece band played during part of the meal, a guitarist and double bass player, belting out rock and roll hits from the fifties and sixties. Everyone seemed to be having a lovely time, there were happy faces everywhere, and the conversation and laughter so loud it was drowning out the amplified musicians. There were many compliments on the bride and groom - and the wedding favours went down well too!

At the end of the meal, we had speeches from the bride's father, then the groom, which was very funny, Mike said he was used to speaking in public, but usually giving a power point presentation, so if people would care to fall asleep half way through, he would feel right at home. Then Cherise gave a speech too, which was a lovely break with tradition, and finally Danny, the best man. I thought they all did very well,

And right at the very end the bride and groom's parents, bridesmaids and best man were given gifts too - which was very unexpected as far as Graham and I were concerned. But we shall have no excuse about not remembering the date of the wedding as Graham has a hip flask, with 'Father of the Groom, 6.6.2015,' and I have a pretty jewellery box engraved for  'Chrissy, Mother of the Groom 6.6.2015'.

I am sure Mike and Cherise will be happy, they are both lovely folks and we love them very much.

Monday, 1 June 2015

The Magic of Love and Marriage

It is the month of June, and the Month of the Honey Moon, the Moon of Love.
And as my son Mike is marrying his fiancee Cherise on Saturday, the thought of love and marriage is well in the upper part of my mind at the moment.

The month of June is said these days to have been named after the Roman goddess Juno, the spouse of Jove or Jupiter, and they are said to have wed this month, and thus give their special blessings to any couple who follow suit in June. However it could also be named after Junius or Juventas the goddess of youth - although this goddess name can also be the maiden form of Juno, and thus the month celebrates the goddess as she moves from Maiden to Mother.

There are several traditional verses which tell us the possible fortunes of those who wed in the various months of the year, and these can be quite radically different. The one most often quoted is:
Marry in the month of roses - June,
Life will be one long Honeymoon.

But the Irish version of this monthly rhyme is very different and for June we are told:
Marry when June roses blow
Over land and sea you'll go

The Irish really don't want a couple to marry in May, June, July or August, and it is speculated that this is because these are the busiest months of the farming year and you don't want people shirking work at this time - or to lose a worker if they go off to live at a spouse's farm.

Another monthly rhyme simply tells us about the character of the bride:
A June bride will be impetuous and generous

Juno is generous in many ways this month, she is sometimes called Juno the Moneymaker, so this is also a good month for starting a business or for working a wealth drawing spell, addressed to Juno Moneta. However, when you get a result from your working, remember to give some of the proceeds back to the goddess, buy her some flowers or candles and say 'thank you'.

Oh and if you are given a piece of wedding cake you can use it to see your own future spouse. Ideally it should be a small slivver passed nine times through the wedding ring. You then sleep with it beneath your pillow - and your dreams will be ominous, as the old fortune books say.
You can repeat this rhyme:
I put this cake beneath my head
To dream of the living, not of the dead,
To dream of the man/maid that I am to wed.
Not in his/her best, or Sunday array,
But in the clothes he/she wears each day.

You ask to see them in their normal clothes as this would indicate the kind of work they might do, or how prosperous they might be. Your 'Sunday best' clothes would give a false impression that you might be more affluent than in reality. You can also make the spell more effective if the moon is waxing to full, and you do the spell on a Friday night, the night of Venus

Of course this spell would be done with a nice, dense old-fashioned fruit cake. I don't think I would want to try it with a modern piece of sponge cake.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Life Happens

Well folks apologies for the long gap in my Blog posts, but there are times when life just happens and there is no way you can get to do extra stuff.

For a start I have been without my own computer for the best part of a month. One of the fans gave up on my lap top, which is the computer I use to get online, and a replacement had to be sent for from Hong Kong.

We are also preparing maddly for the wedding of our son Mike and his partner Cherise, which happens at the beginning of June. I have been making my own wedding outfit, a tiered skirt and beaded blouse, which has taken some time as I was not using a pattern, but putting it together and seeing if it worked. Actually it looks like it will be quite nice, so I am rather chuffed with the outcome.

We have also been doing a full stock check of every gem stone and crystal in stock, which resulted in an updated Earth Treasures catalogue and a From the Vault special section of one offs and rare stuff - and which has in turn brought in a HUGE response from our customers, which is keeping us very busy (thank you folks, it is much appreciated.)

I also have several books I am working on at the moment, and am trying to get at least two of them finished. One on Isobel Gowdie, the Witch of Aulderne in Scotland, and another based on my Blog entries about Folk Witchery and How To Do It. Both of these are turning out to be more substantial than I had expected, but I am really enjoying the writing.

Oh and on top of all that I managed to snap a tendon in my foot, which means I am hobbling about and not able to walk very far at the mo.
Was I doing something exciting like trecking through the Himalayas, or trying a record breaking attempt at the Marathon, I hear you ask?
No I was in the supermarket, took a step and something went CRACK.
At the moment Graham is having to do the supermarkets on his own with a shopping list and many instructions - and we still get moments of 'Oh I bought a few extras' - which very often seems to involve beer.

So apologies once more for the gap - but if it helps, I have been feeling guilty for neglecting you

Love and blessings

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Lilac Spell

This is a Lilac Spell for Wealth

On a Thursday with the moon waxing, go and pick three Lilac flower stems. As you do so say:
         'I pick this Lilac in Jupiter's name.'

Inside, put the three stems in water on your altar and position five coins around the vase.
Then say:
     'King of Wealth and Majesty, 
     I call thee now by name;
     Jupiter, Jovis, Saberzeus, 
     Come into my home
     Bring thy golden gift of wealth, 
     Bring money now to me
     The money come, the wealth shall stay
     As I wish so shall it be!'

Leave the vase and coins at least overnight.
The next day put one of the coins in your purse or wallet, or into the till or money box of your business.
Put three coins into a savings box.
The fifth coin must be used to buy an offering for Jupiter - a candle for example, but he also likes meat, beef in particular, so you could buy him a good beef burger

Monday, 2 February 2015

Snowdrops at Candlemass

I wrote this today in honour of Imbolc and the Goddess Bride, christianised as
St Brigit:

Fair maids of February
Sweet Brigit's flowers
White as the milk
From Our Lady's cows,
Green as new life,
From the frozen earth springing
Bells of the snow, with
Clear frost-song singing.
Delicate ladies, white
Gowned and be-frilled,
The Swan Goddess passes - 
Her footprints you fill.

In our garden the snowdrops have not fully opened yet, but they are well on their way.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Prayer to Bau

The following is adapted from a translation of an ancient Babylonian prayer to Bau.
Light a candle for the goddess and give her an offering of flowers and/or herbs such as sage, rosemary, lavender, mint and lemon balm.
Then say:

O Bau, Mighty Mistress, Merciful Mother, who dwells in the brilliant heavens,
I ask thee, Lady, stay and listen to me.
I have searched for thee, and seized the hem of thy robe.
You pronounce judgements and determine destinies,
You raise to life, give health and grant prosperity.
Since thou art the protector who benefits and saves her worshippers,
O Bau, I have turned to thee.
Accept my offerings and prayers and grant me ....

(Now insert here what you desire from the Goddess, then continue..)

Thy protection is endless, Thy compassion boundless,
You favour me with life and health.
May I gladden your heart,
May I bow humbly before thee.

Leave the candle to burn down, as long as you can do this safely.

You can make a brew of some of the same herbs you have offered to the goddess. Pour boiling water on the herbs, cover the pot and let it stand for 5-10 mins, or even until it cools completely. Then strain out the herbs and keep the infused water. You can sprinkle this around a sick person, or simply around your home to encourage the Goddess to bless your home and family.

Remember to say as you sprinkle something like: - 
I do this in honour of Bau, She who restores life