Doreen Valiente - Witch

Monday, 14 May 2018

Interview with Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone, by Richard Levy

Exclusive Interview with Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone

For the Centre For Pagan Studies (Compiled by Richard Levy)

Janet and Gavin at Home

1 – Could you tell us a little about how you got started in Wicca and why you were drawn to it?
Janet: When I came into the Craft, It was 1970.  I was 19 at the time. I’d grown up through the ‘60’s; I was a flower child, I was a hippie, I also, though work knew the Beatles, Eric Clapton and Brian Epstein.  But at the same time, I was also a Sunday school teacher. I was from a good Christian background.
I became interested in witchcraft after a friend of mine read June John’s King of the Witches, and wanted to visit Alex and Maxine Sanders. I had ‘heard’ all about witchcraft, I knew it was all about sex and drugs and Rock ’n’ Roll!   Well, I went to bail her out of Alex’s coven. Now Sanders was the gentleman who called himself ‘King of the Witches’.  I hasten to add that he was not accepted generally as the ‘King of the Witches’.  He could be a bit of an old rogue, but was a brilliant showman, and yes, he was a very, very good Ritual Magician.
Janet Being Initiated by Alex Sanders

When I met him I was quite surprised, because I found that under the showmanship was a very genuine spirituality.  He started talking about ‘the Goddess’, and I had never heard of ‘the Goddess’. She meant actually nothing to me at this stage, but I rather liked the idea of being involved in the healing aspect, because, although I had never wanted to be a healer, it was the remnants of my hippie attitude ‘Let me heal the whole world’.
Gavin: I have a much more eclectic background than Janet and Stewart did.  I first became interested in witchcraft in the early 1980’s.  Initially I was going to the local Spiritualist Temple in my hometown of Portsmouth and was interested in the Healing Practises there.  I picked up my first book on Wicca about that time.  I had always been interested in occult subjects; I brought my first Tarot Pack when I was 16 and use to attend festivals on the unexplained (Surrey Puma, Loch Ness, UFO’s, the paranormal etc.)  I had developed my own ‘system’ of beliefs.  The book, which changed everything for me, was Doreen Valiente’s ABC of Witchcraft.   Well, that’s when I knew what I was – a Wiccan.  There in the book was everythin  I already believed in.
I joined my first magical group in 1985.  This was an eclectic magical group and it’s members consisted of a Ceremonial Ritual Magician, a Norse Shaman, a couple of traditional spiritualist mediums as  well as a Sufi practioner.  It worked from the back of an Occult Shop in Portsmouth called Fifth Dimension. The group practiced a mixture of magical practises including Earth Magic, the clearing of ley lines etc, and Ceremonial Ritual.   It was from one of its members, the Norse Shaman that the Seax-Wica coven was formed.  I had been the youngest member of the eclectic group and had started to become a focus for a group of younger people interested in Wicca in my hometown, so in early 1986 these people were all brought together, and were formally initiated into the coven.
I should point out that although we based our initial coven work on Ray Buckland’s book The Tree: The Complete Book of Anglo-Saxon Witchcraft, we quickly went beyond it.  It was a good base to start from, but we wanted more. We started to work more with the material from Janet and Stewart’s books and started to create our own rituals and system of working.  Because of this, this group also became quite eclectic in it’s approach. None of us saw anything wrong with this as it worked.
Ray Buckland, Seax Wica
Ray Buckland (31 August 1934 – 27 September 2017) Museum is set up in his honour - http://bucklandmuseum.org/

2- Is there anything in The Craft you recall seeing more of when you were younger and you would like to see return?
Janet and Gavin: To be honest, we don't think there is? People always look back at the past as a “Golden Age”, but the reality is the Craft has actually evolved so much today.
3 – Who in the Craft would you say influenced you the most?
Janet and Gavin: Doreen Valiente!
Janet: I’ve always considered her my spiritual mentor. She was humorous, educated and down to earth.  I don’t think Eight Sabbats for Witches and The Witches Way (compiled as A Witches Bible) would have been as successful as they were without the input and support we received from Doreen.  She helped us through the maze of writings and contradictory histories of modern wiccan and the Book of Shadows, so that we could produce something which was genuinely of benefit to those out there searching for Wicca.
Do you know, that in all the years I had known Doreen Valiente, I never once heard her say a bad word about any other member of the Craft, and there was some of them she disliked immensely.  One of them was Alex Sanders; she didn’t like him at all as a person, but her only comment, with a chuckle was ‘Oh Mr. Sanders, he’s still alive is he?’ It was a joke, and that’s the nearest I have ever heard her say anything nasty about anyone.  It was my deepest regret I never managed to get her and Maxine together, although I nearly got a meeting between the two of them. It would have been interesting to see how they got on with each other, but sadly she died before that could ever happen.
4 – Are there any must read books you would always recommend?
Janet and Gavin: Doreen's books remain some of the ones we recommend the most. There are so many books out there with little substance, many of them repeating the same material over and over again.  Unfortunately many coming into the Craft rarely go outside these modern books. We do of course, generally recommend the classics in Wicca, such as Gardner's, Raymond Bucklands, and Pat Crowther's but also suggest people look for real classics which include Andrew Alfoldi's Diana Nemorensis, Iamblichus On the Mysteries, Ogden's Greek and Roman Necromancy and Magic, Witchcraft, and Ghosts in the Greek and Roman Worlds.  With a bit of research on the internet you can find some really useful classics full of useful in-depth information.
5 – What other traditions influence your practice? / do you work with?
Janet and Gavin: Witchcraft has always been eclectic, so at different times we have worked with other spiritual traditions according to need. Gavin was heavily influenced by the teachings he learnt as a practising Spiritual Healer – Chakras, Aura, and working with spiritual energy. This has become an important part of our understanding of magical energy.  As we both have Freya as our patron deity, we also took on aspects of Anglo-Saxon/Northern Tradition in our practise, particularly the practise of Seith/Seidr, Nothern European |Shamanism/Witchcraft.

6 – Do you have a favourite Sabbat and why?
Janet and Gavin:  Ah, that’s a difficult one!   So many to choose from!  Are we supposed to have favourites?  Well, we do anyway.  We can’t really say that there is just one:  Samhain for the partying, Lughnasa for the drama of the ritual and the thanksgiving, and the Equinoxes for the raw energy!  At present we have to say it’s Spring Equinox. Our coven is named after the Callaighe and for the last few years the has climbed our local ancient site Slieve na Callaighe (Hill of the Witch), which is part of the Lough Crew range of mountains, to watch the sun rise.  On top is a sacred site, an ancient 5,000-year-old burial mound.  As the sun rises its rays hit the decorated stone at the back of the chamber illuminating it with golden light.  At present, this has to be our favourite experience of the year when it comes to the festivals.
7 – As time has gone on has your approach to magic changed and does it continue to change?
Janet: We weren’t really encouraged to look beyond what was being taught within the Alexandrian Tradition at that time. I should point out that it wasn’t that we were discouraged in anyway, just that Alex’s teachings at that time were purely based on High Magic.  Stewart and myself wanted to go beyond that.
When we moved to Ireland in 1976 we fully broke from many of the magical  Alexandrian Traditions teachings. They were just not appropriate to the ‘Celtic Twilight’ of Ireland; the mythology, the folklore and the landscape. I like to call myself just a ‘witch’. My, and my covens practices are eclectic, but then, if you know anything about the history of Wicca so are all the other traditions. Stewart and myself did keep the basic Alexandrian framework for many years, but had already started to adapt it when Gavin came into our lives.
Gavin: My background in spiritual healing; the use of energy, the connection to divinity (sourcing) was an important part of my practise preceeding my initiation into the Craft. My other influence was the Anglo-Saxon traditions of magic, specifically Seith; a form of shamanism which taught a system of realms or worlds with which you could travel to. This came after researching the old English traditions after my initiation into Seax-Wica, a tradition which was really basic in it's approach but a good base to work from.
With my initiation into the Alexandrian Tradition with Janet and Stewart we began to combine what I had learnt and that influenced our system of training.  As our new coven grew we  realised it wasn’t enough to teach our students ‘to know how to drive the car’ and that it was becomingly increasingly important that they also knew ‘how the engine worked’. The teachings Janet had received on Caballa simply weren’t doing this. It gave no explanation that covered both the simplest and more advanced of magical practises at the same time as any integrated system should.  The first component of the system we developed was a base energy system – a development of the vedic Chakra system I had learned and practised with as a Spiritual Healer.  We used this because ultimately everything from the point of physics is energy.   From one point you can say that we were teaching the purest form of hermetics; it even included aspects of modern chaos and quantum theory.  The system encompassed Magical Practise, Drawing Down the Moon and Deity Connection, and of course how to approach The Mysteries.   The other component which supported this was drawn from my previously mentioned Anglo-Saxon practises. A mythological  Cosmology, a system of mapping the realms of reality; the astral and spiritual levels, which could be used both internally in pathworkings and trance, and as a basis for ritual practise. This was also sadly lacking in mainstream Wicca, which relied purely on a cosmology based around the Circle and the Four elements.
8 – What are some of the lessons training others has taught you over the years?
Janet leading procession at Tara Festival in Ireland 2003
Janet Leading the procession at Tara 2003

Janet and Gavin:  Easy! You don't know everything and even after so many years in the Craft collectively we are still learning. We've learnt to be open to new ideas, and to look forward rather than backwards.  We've also learnt that sometimes people will come to you that you aren't suppose to train; that the Craft isn't for them. That's not being elitist. The Craft is a vocation and it just doesn't suit some people, but that doesn't mean they can't follow other paths. We've also learnt that everyone has a different path even if they are in the Craft, everyone has a speciality and this should be encouraged.

9 – What general advice would you give a novice?

Janet and Gavin: When we both came into the Craft, it was a lot more underground. There were no contact networks in the UK, so you joined whatever coven or group you could find. The number of sensible books on witchcraft you could find in an occult bookstore often took up less than one shelf.  So much has changed since before the 1990s.  There are now contact networks for witches advertising both in magazines and on the world wide web. There was also an explosion of covens and open groups.  Anyone interested in the Craft now has a choice of so many books and so much material on the net compared with what we had.  Our advice to seeker, don't join the coven you find. Join an open group, work solitary for a while and find a coven or magical group that suits what you practise. Read as much as you can, but be critical of what you read.  Now, for every good book on Wicca/Witchcraft out there, there are at least three which aren't so good!  Stick to your original vision of what the Craft is, and don't be swayed by those who try to shoe horn you into their form of practise. Most of all be true to yourself and what you believe

10 – What is the main kind of work you do now? Are you writing or training or trying to be less busy?

Janet and Gavin at Sangoma South Africa South Africa (2008), where we were with the Lesotho Sangoma (Traditional Healers) and made honorary Elders.
Visiting the Healers in Sangoma 2008




Janet and Gavin: We're continuing to write and do workshops abroad.  Janet also does Tarot Readings from home, and Gavin is doing healing work.  Craft wise we are at a definite different stage in our lives. We no longer run a coven, but instead do what we call “Elder Support”; we support the existing heads of covens providing our experience and hopefully our wisdom. It's based on our current system of training.  When we were approached to do a tour of Australia and New Zealand in 2002 we decided that we would adapt and open up our system of teachings around magical energy work and cosmology to everyone.  We felt many solitaries and self-initiated covens would benefit from having this system, which gave them grounding in experiential magical practises they could use. From this concept was born The Inner Mysteries Intensive.

Of course, these workshops have evolved over the years and they have developed considerably since that first tour, so much so, that we found that it became necessary to teach the mechanics of Drawing Down the Moon as a separate one day Trance-Prophesy Workshop.  Eventually, the Trance-Prophesy became our major focus and it took on a life of its own. It has had a major impact on the way we view our work.  Dealing with deities actually manifesting and talking through people will do that to you, particularly when again and again they make it clear that they want to be heard and want to teach directly.   We have had some experiences during these workshops, which go beyond belief. Having a particular goddess say the same things almost word for word through different people on different sides of the world is quite mind blowing!  Such experiences have in fact inspired us to put this at the centre of our work. Of course this became the basis of our latest book Lifting The Veil: A Witches' Guide to Trance-prophesy, Drawing Down the Moon and Ecstatic Ritual. 
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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Reviews on the Leaping Hare Conference - Richard Levy Talk on Narative Magic

Christine & John C,
Tuesday 10th April 2018

   On Saturday 24th March, a group of 4 of us attended at The Leaping Hare Pagan Conference in Colchester.  We attend every year and sometimes the talks are OK, sometimes they are not and sometimes they are excellent. Richard’s talk on “Narrative Magic” was excellent.  It had a beginning, a middle and an end and each flowed into the next part beautifully.  It was a completely different outlook on the subject and very much enjoyed by everyone.  Richard has a charming, funny attitude and so his delivery was easy going and really interesting.  Every single person I spoke to said they hoped he would come again next year and we all felt that we took a lot away with us that we hadn’t known before.  He was charming, well read and delivered exactly what he said he would - “Narrative Magic”.  Marks out of 10?  Definitely 10.

Richards talk was here:
 
*We will be adding reviews here as and when we receive them* so watch this space!

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Richard Levy speaks at the Leaping Hare Conference 24 March 2018

Following a very successful conference, where our very own Richard Levy spoke on his specialist subject "Narrative Magic". He addressed a rapt audience at the packed conference. Here he is with the programme of the day.

Richard is a Centre For Pagan Studies speaker and is available for talks on various subjects. Richard is a Magician and Consecrated Priest with a background in philosophy and theology, he has given talks in other subjects such as Jewish magic and is a storyteller. For bookings please email to: enquiries@centre-for-pagan-studies.com



Reviews can be found here: http://centreforpaganstudies.blogspot.com.es/2018/04/reviews-on-leaping-hare-conference.html

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Richard Levy of the Centre For Pagan Studies talks to Lora OBrien, Irish Author and Guide to Ireland

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RICHARD LEVY BIO: I began my pagan path at a young age but and magic is something I feel was always a part of my life. But with time I learned how to nourish this part of myself. I feel today we are encouraged to ignore these parts of who we are and it is something we re-learn. It is in many ways learning to do what breeze and river and bird do naturally. I studied philosophy and theology at university and whilst I did not have formal training I learned a lot from people I met along my path from Children to adults. Should people want to contact me about the interview they can contact me on: mailto:rlevy285@gmail.com
LORA O'BRIEN BIO: Lora is a traditionally published Author, Teacher, and Guide: native born Irish, with strong personal and professional experience in our history, heritage, archaeology, mythology, & Irish Spirituality. She is a modern Draoí – a practitioner and priest of indigenous Irish magic and spirituality, in the simplest terms. Lora has been consciously following a pagan path for 25 years, and dedicated specifically to the Irish Goddess Mórrígan 14 years ago. She managed one of Ireland's most important sacred sites - Cruachán/Rathcroghan - for a decade, and is a co-founder and legal celebrant, a Reverend, with Pagan Life Rites Ireland.
Today's Interview: Richard Levy, admin on the Centre for Pagan Studies FB Group. When and where did your interest in Pagan/Earth based Spirituality begin? Whilst my vocabulary and intellectual understanding did not go far till I was twelve I would say it was present from my earliest memories. This came through in my interest and love of myths and faerie tales, which I still have. I give talks on this subject and perform storytelling to this day. I talked to everything: trees, toys and animals and loved films that involved magic, witches and wizards. I always wanted to be one. With this I also had psychic experiences, some I interpreted as evil or dangerous which I have learnt as I matured were not. I would see and speak with faerie and other beings and in some ways it held such a common place I didn't realise it was magical though I still wanted magic. How did you practically go about getting started, and what resources did you have available to you eg. books, teaching courses, events, people you met? I wanted to explore all this more and when I was 12, an esoteric shop opened in my local high street. I cant recall how but I had funds for some books and used my local library to take on as many books as I could on magic, paganism and divination. I met some pagans early on but they wore glittery robes and to my mind were more style over substance, this made me keep my distance. As I got older I tried again and found some intelligent, interesting and wonderful people. Additionally I joined a spiritualist circle which allowed me to practice my communication with spirits as well as divination and healing. What does being Pagan mean to you? (or your term of choice, please explain!) Pagan to me today is an umbrella term for those practicing earth based spirituality, often reinvented or restructured, which is good as a religion of the earth should evolve, which a religion of the book tends to struggle with. I am more inclined to use the term witch or magician as my focus is on magical work. To me these are working titles, I am not interested in hierarchical titles or being called adept etc (which I am not) simply I work with various powers and in doing so these terms are titles of that. Some see more in them and that is fine and some romanticise the terms and I am not sure how I feel about that. For me I have simply answered a calling but I still have to clean the kitchen and iron my clothes. To me a Pagan path is essentially, a narrative of the earth, within various traditions are its own nuances. What sort of things do you do on a daily/weekly, monthly or seasonal basis to explore or express your Spirituality? I do daily meditations and simple rituals of stillness. Seasonally I perform basic rituals to bring in the power of the season to flow through myself, home and land. Or I just walk among nature and let myself connect. On Spring Equinox I like to go to Kew Garden for example. I like to walk in my local woods and see how things are growing and how it feels. What advice do you wish someone had given you, that you would like to give people starting out on this path? I realise that magic is in all things. It is in ritual and conversation it is in the kabbalah and the sun, the moon and the rain. It is all around us all the time and in our childhoods. I realised one day I knew more than I realised and that the bible I was raised in (not fundamentally) was full of magic, along with the faerie tales I grew up with. It may seem obvious that faerie tales are full of magic, but getting at the patterns within them and the magical messages took me time. When we mature we think magic isnt faerie tales, we know it as something practical and powerful. In being mature we let go of Childish things, but there is a difference being childish and being childlike and being childlike. Being childlike is a gift. I think mystery is in that we know more than we are aware of and that awareness comes from experience. What is the name of the Facebook Group you admin, and how did you get involved there? (please feel free to provide group details eg. member numbers or general guidelines, and a link to group) The Centre of Pagan Studies has been going on for some time. I got involved last year after reading Philip Heselton's biography of Doreen Valiente. I had been looking to give back to the Pagan community and found Doreen to be an inspiration person who had been involved so decided to offer to help. The Centre for Pagan Studies FB Group is Here. What is the most frustrating thing for you about being involved with that group? I think it can be frustrating to find the right vocabulary. In magic and Paganism we do not really have our own language so we have to work quite philosophically to communicate effectively. I have seen people essentially agree with each other but end up arguing as their words are interpreted differently. Ultimately it is not really a problem just a shame its hard to bypass. What is the most satisfying thing for you about being involved with that group? The fact that we remember those who came before us who made strides for Paganism. We have set up blue plaques for people like Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente. Also people involved are very engaged in the subject matter and we discuss often some ancient practices which some people still practice or have come across. We attempt to provide both an educational resource (giving talks for example) and discussing these subject matters keeping it organic and shifting. If you could guarantee that each group member had read AT LEAST one book before joining, what book would that be? I think it would be hard to pin point one book but I would go back to faerie tales. To have read some of the Grimm brothers work and look into the early stories as well as the colour books (The yellow fairy book, red fairy book etc compiled by Andrew Lang). There are some great occult books out there and some bad ones, though I found all of those helped me develop a magical vocabulary. Further to this I would encourage to read history and anthropology as well as classical texts. Anything else youd like to share?! Whilst books are great the essence of magic is doing it and living it. The essence of paganism is in practicing it and living it. Keep it simple and embrace the stories you were told growing up and the cartoons you may have seen (often based on these books). When you have conversations remember language is insufficient to express magic and spirituality. So take care. When I talk to magical practitioners of various traditions if you work to find a common language, we find we have a lot in common. would encourage people to tread lightly and to take their time and to listen. Richard Levy works with the Centre for Pagan Studies and the Doreen Valiente Foundation.

Richard Levy of the Centre For Pagan Studies talks to Lora OBrien, Irish Author and Guide to Ireland

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Interviews with Well known Pagans and Witches Julia Phillips


Julia Phillips at the Rollright Stones
This interview was conducted by Richard Levy for the Centre For Pagan Studies in February 2018

1 – Could you tell us a little about how you got started in Wicca and why you were drawn to it?

I grew up in a haunted house with family members who were both aware of, and interested in, the supernatural. It was therefore no stretch of the imagination for me to accept that there are many things in this universe that are not currently explicable. I love mysteries!
One of my earliest memories though (aged five/six) was of spending time with my grandparents in very rural Ireland. We stayed with a friend of my grandmother’s in a small hamlet. The farmhouse had no gas, no electricity and no running water. It was one of my jobs each morning to carry billy cans to the spring a couple of fields away to fill with water and carry back to the farm. I also learned how to milk cows and make butter, and to cook on an open fire in cast iron cauldrons.
When Lammas came around and all the work in the fields had been finished, a céilí was held at the farmhouse where we were living. The whole community gathered and played, sang and danced into the wee hours. I have a vivid memory of one of the old farmers taking me outside and, while I was seated on his shoulders, he told me that the lights we could see flickering in the distance were the king and queen of the fairies and all their subjects. He said they were also celebrating Lammas and were in a procession on their way back to their home in hills. It was my birthday night (at midnight I reached the grand old age of six!) and his story telling was one of the most magical things I remember.
Like many others of my generation my formal introduction to practical occultism/paganism came through the Society of Psychical Research in Kensington. A friend and I frequently attended lectures and made good use of the extensive library. That led to me studying the tarot and astrology, which in turn led to me being invited to join a coven and be initiated.
Wicca turned out to be a great choice for me because it combines all those things that most appeal to me within one inclusive pathway. It is magical, spiritual, acknowledges the Mystery, and also provides a core directive to focus upon self-development: “keep pure your highest ideal, strive ever towards it, let naught stop you or turn you aside.”

2- Is there anything in The Craft you recall seeing more of when you were younger and you would like to see return?

For Wicca to remain a relevant, vibrant pathway it has to reflect the society in which it exists so whilst I might have a sense of wistful longing for the days when we relied upon personal interaction rather than Facebook groups, it’s not a realistic option for the 21st century. Indeed, my own branch of the family is so far flung that we rely heavily upon a private Facebook group for us all to keep in touch with each other.
The things about Wicca that I have always valued the most remain a part of my community today; Grand Sabbats, sharing ideas with other Wiccans, meeting up socially, knowing I have a wonderful family who are always there for me, no matter what… so for me, there isn’t anything I would like to see return as it never went away.

3 – Who I the Craft would you say influenced you the most?

There isn’t any one person. I have learned from a lot of different people and I continue to learn from them all today. One thing I treasure about my involvement in Wicca is that it has brought me into contact with some amazing, talented, and inspiring people I would never otherwise have met.

4 – Are there any must read books you would always recommend?

I think it’s good practice for people to read widely and then discriminate effectively! There is no replacement for practical experience and personal growth within a coven, but as a lover of books I am always going to encourage people to read. The classics are never going to go our of fashion – Gardner, Valiente, Crowley, Fortune et al. Vivianne Crowley’s books about Wicca are excellent and for an historical perspective, Ronald Hutton.
I have a particular interest in traditional witchcraft and some of the authors I most enjoy are Norman Cohn, Jeffrey Russell, Christina Larner and Owen Davies.
Tarot (my original area of study) is overflowing with books and tarot decks these days. I tend to go back to Wang, Crowley, Nicholls, and Kaplan, but there are many others I enjoy.
I am also a firm believer in the value of fiction. Studying academic (or at least non-fiction) texts is interesting but sometimes it takes a work of fiction to ignite that spark that leads to revelation.

5 – What other traditions influence your practice? / do you work with?

I teach a system of magic that we call Hermetics – it has nothing to do with Wicca or Franz Bardon, but is a system that has its origins in the ancient Hermetic Schools and developed through the philosophy of Paracelsus and the Renaissance practice of the Art of Memory.
I also practise a form of angelic magic based upon Madeline Montalban’s Order of the Morning Star, with my own interpretation of the Book of Enoch.

6 – Do you have a favourite Sabbat and why?

My favourite would be the Hallows, which is the point of the spiral that encourages Wiccans to explore the Sacred Mystery that is hidden from view. The Mystery remains but we can get a glimpse behind the veil and in my experience this will bring new insights, possibly moments of clarity, and even an epiphany.

7 – As time has gone has your approach to magic changed and dos it continue to change?

Gosh, I hope so! I’d be devastated if I thought I was doing the same things in the same way that I did them 40 years ago. I think a quote from Dion Fortune expresses my attitude to this very well:
“There are things I wrote of Spiritualism twenty years ago which, in the light of wider experience, I would not write today, and to cite these as evidence against me is to deny the possibility of human progress.” (Dion Fortune, December 1942)
I do think that the fundamental principles of magic are consistent though; hard work coupled with persistence and an ability to focus. What tools or techniques one uses are pretty much down to personal choice, but those three principles are critical.

8 – What are some of the lessons training others has taught you over the years?

Well, the first thing is I don’t train others in Wicca. Our coven is a group of equals and we all share ideas, knowledge, techniques, information, and so on. I might have a specific skill to pass on, but then another coven sibling will have something different to share, so it all works out.
In Hermetics, however, I do train others and I encourage (indeed, insist on!) respect for every member of the group so that no one ever feels shy or embarrassed about sharing an experience or asking a question. Also, no matter how abstract it may be, the experience or the learning is what that particular person needs at that moment and it should be accepted as such. It can be discussed and dissected but it should never be dismissed just because it might be something a little out of the ordinary.

9 – What general advice would you give a novice?

Rule One – never ignore your intuition. Rule Two – see Rule One.

I cannot count how many times I have read or heard people complain about a bad experience only to finish with, “he/she always felt somehow off to me.” Trust your intuition and if something feels off or wrong, then it is almost certainly something or someone to avoid.
I would also suggest you consider whether you have anything apart from Wicca in common with the other coven members. In our coven we share interests that go way beyond Wicca (theatre, music, good food, wine, books, movies etc.) and in my experience that’s a very sound basis for an effective group.

10 – What is the main kind of work you do now? Are you writing or training or trying to be less busy?

I retired almost a year ago but there is nothing “less busy” about my life! For the past 25 years I’ve been a CEO in (primarily) sport and I had thought life might ease off a little after retirement but that proved to be naïve on my part.
I’m a bit odd within the Wiccan world as my immediate Wiccan family is in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Canada, USA, and one in Malaysia (he was a member of my Melbourne coven but then moved back home to Malaysia after completing his PhD). I am incredibly blessed to be a part of such an amazing, vibrant family and I love visiting – have wand will travel! During April and May I will catch up with family in Melbourne, Sydney, British Columbia, Ontario and Indiana, which is an absolute delight to me.
Other than travelling, my book about the principles of Wicca (Witches of Oz) was published 25 years ago and I’m currently revising it for a third edition. I will also be editing magical diaries from the Hermetic Temple that Rufus Harrington and I ran in London in the 1980s for publication. It’s a fabulous insight into the magical world of some of the most talented magicians I have ever met and I’m looking forward to getting on with it when I get back to England at the end of May.
A few people contacted me about Hermetics recently and I have a couple of workshops in the diary, so that might lead to a regular group.

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Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Goddess Epona -

This Article is about the Gaulish Horse Goddess Epona, written for the Centre For Pagan Studies by Elaine Hindle

The name Epona comes from Iron Age Gaulish.
The word Epos means horse in Gaulish and derives from a proto-Indo- European root
Gaulish: os is the male ending and a being the female ending.
Personal names containing the word horse examples: Epacus, Epasius, Eppia
Tribal names also such the Scottish tribe the Epidii.
The name Epona means, divine mare or she who is like a mare.

Epona was worshipped in Western Europe.
She was the only Goddess to be adopted by the Roman military.
Dedications to her were found on both the Antonine and Hadrians walls.
Although her name is Gaulish, no inscriptions have been found in Gaulish but only in Latin or Greek.
It is likely that the Emperors Horse guards may have been the main unit to spread the Epona dedications throughout the Roman Empire.
Flanked by two horses, Epona is shown sitting on a throne holding a fruit basket on her lap.
But it is unclear whether the same applied regarding the spread of non-military artefacts e.g. sidesaddle Epona.
Depictions of Epona are mainly on bas-relief clay, some bronze and one wood.

Sidesaddle

 
The main depiction is of her sitting sideways on a horse, wearing a long dress, gathered under the bust and sometimes a cloak around her head. The horse or mare is usually walking to the right, or standing still. There may be reins. The goddess usually has her hand on the mane, neck or head, or sometimes carries a cornucopia. The other hand holds a patera (serving dish) or basket of fruit.
Sometimes there may also be a foal.

Imperial

This depiction shows Epona either seated or standing facing forward, with two or four horses on either side of her, eating wheat or apples from her lap.
This imperial type was more common outside Gaul.

Cart

Much less common is Epona depicted riding a cart driven by horses or mules; one such has seven horses pulling the cart.
Epona was a protector of horses and was worshipped primarily by those whose work involved horses i.e. the cavalry, dispatch riders, scouts, mule drivers, carters, stable hands and grooms.
She was worshipped in temples by the Romans by praying, making vows, erecting altars, sacrificing animals, incense and wine.
Pipe clay figures of her were also found in the home.
She was also worshipped in the stables and altars and paintings have been found which were decorated with roses. She protected the horses and asses.

The origins of Epona before the Roman Empire are not well know, she may have been a native Gaulish Goddess, or a fusion Goddess created of Gaulish, Germanic and Danubian peoples when they formed the Roman Cavalry. Or perhaps she came from much older deities.