BELTANE 2008

HEDGE WITCHCRAFT WITH A DIFFERENCE

Dear Everybody,

I have been absent form this site for a long time but I certainly haven't been gone from the magical life: I have been exploring the oldest forms of hedge witchcraft, deepening my connection with Pagan spirit realms by working with elves, and working to help heal the rift between humanity and nature spirits. One rsult is my new book


THE GREEN HEDGE WITCH A Guide to Wild Magic

This is to be published in June 2008 by Robert Hale.

It tells of a hedge witchcraft in which we may work in hedgerows or on other boundaries, treating them as symbolic borders between the human everyday world and the domains of elves, nature spirits and other otherworldly presences. In this way we achieve communion with those from more subtle dimensions and can join our magic with theirs, to the benefit of all, creating new harmony.

There is actually nothing new in these ideas. They are based on the work of the ancient Northern European Hagazissa, the 'Hedge-sitter', one who worked on the boundary between the human community and that of spirits to promote a good balance between wild spirit lands (such as a forest). Bad human areas such as the farmland, so that each could be sound and healthy. And it does not take a very bright person to work out the implications for us now at this point in history.

My new book gives many suggestions as to how we may do such work in the present day. But it is not just about earnest hard work. Because of these practices, I have been blessed with the chance to walk right into another world, physically. Another solid world. I cannot promise that everyone could have the some experience but practicing hedge witchcraft makes it more possible So if you love the Earth and are also adventurous, try some of the practices inspired by ancient hedge witchcraft.


SPRING EQUINOX - 2007

The Pagan festival of the Spring Equinox is celebrated by Hedge Witches in a number of traditional ways. Quite a lot of these involve sunlight and eggs. The rest of the population eats chocolate eggs at this time of year, unconsciously honouring an ancestral awareness of springtime fertility. As well as enjoying our own Ostara eggs, we hedge witches may say a prayer for poultry kept in the cruel conditions that can result in bird flu. And we may cast a s,spell of some kind, that, farming practices may change to kindliness and good husbandry, allover the world.

Hens start to lay again around the Spring Equinox (hens living a natural life, that it:) because of the increase of day light. This works on a bird's pineal gland, stimulating their fertility and egg production. Therefore, when casting spells for our own increase, abundance, fertility or creativity, we do well if we work with the power of light, at this time of the year The realm of Light-elves or Shining Ones (the angels of N. European pre-Christian tradition) has to do with bright visions and these are vital to successful magic. For without a bright inspiring vision of some kind of creative project, we cannot cast a spell for creative success. And without a bright dream of a land rich in abundant organic crops and diversity of native creatures and plants, we cannot cast a good spell for the environment.

At this festival, tale a bowl or chaliceful of spring water and let the sun or a candle flame shine upon it. Say something like this:

In the names of the Sun Goddess 
and Water God, 
as this water is blessed 
by light from above, 
let I/we who now drink it 
be blessed by Light-elves 
with a bright vision 
that makes fertile my/our soul/s 
and brings creative abundance.

Before you drink it, pause and consider what it is that fertility would mean for you, ideally? Perhaps you do not want any children but you may want to be magically fertile - the mother or father of many spells? Or you might want to be artistically fertile or simply rich with good new ideas. State your own chosen type of fertility. How do you want to be prolific?

Blessings upon all our Ostara rites and to all Hedge Witches 
Blessed Be, 
Rae

NEWS

I will be giving a talk at Wantage on 28th April 2007 on the subject of Healing the Wounded Witch Within
Details on 01235 819744 or at www.witchycon.co.uk

On 8th July 2007 I will be speaking at Lancaster - topic TBA.
Contact Sandra Chapman on 01772 761897

The Spring Equinox marks the time when the light of the sun has grown so strong that the time of light, from now on, will be longer than the time of dark, each day. Right around until the Autumn Equinox, light will be in the ascendant. Right round until then, or longer, plants will not cease growing. Therefore, now is the season for spells of increase, to make things flourish. Yet we live in a gloomy and frightening time.. As I write this, war looms with Iraq.

Many people feel powerless to do anything about war, injustice, oppression and lack of democracy. Many people feel disempowered and depressed, as though things can only get worse from now on, since the power all seems to lie with the global corporations who pull the strings of governments everywhere – the global corporations who deal in arms, gm foods and disaster. What can we do against these, to help bring worldwide justice and peace, for everybody? What can we do to make these things grow?

Perhaps something like this. Stand in the garden or a field or park or forest – anywhere you can be on the earth, not on tarmac or concrete. If it is warm enough, go barefoot. Say something like the following,

Spell for Unity
I stand by what I stand upon – the Earth, our Mother and all Her children. Our kinship with one another and with all that lives, reaching beyond all boundaries of nationality, reaching beyond all barriers of race and creed. I stand for what I stand upon – the Earth and all Her children, each with the same need, which is for a just unity. Let this prevail. As the light grows and the leaves increase, let a just unity prevail in word and deed. Co-operation, tolerance, peace, a just unity. So may it Be.

Stand and feel your connection, through Earth, with every person and creature and plant and rock and element and spirit. You are doing this for us all on behalf of humanity. Feel the psychic power of your strong assertion of a just unity, as that which we must have.

Draw upon the earth an equal-armed cross within a circle – a symbol of wholeness and balance, predating Christianity. (It means the circle of life which contains us all. And the Five directions – East, South, West, North and Centre, in integration, united.) If the ground is too hard, draw the symbol in the air, with your wand or a finger.

Remember that magic can change the world anytime. Any small spell can be the one to tip the balance,

Bright Blessings
And Peace upon all of us.
Rae.

 

I will be giving a talk at the Goddess Conference in Glastonbury, this summer. The dates are 30th July – 3rd August and it’s possible to attend individual talks or workshops, if you cannot be there for the whole event. The theme of the Conference will be ‘Celebrating the Mystery of the Nine Morgens’ and Rae’s talk will be on ‘Morgen of the Faeries’ (or Morgen La Fay.) There will be many wonderful speakers and also exhibitions, music, performance and ritual.

Contact – The Goddess Conference, 2 – 4 High St, Glastonbury, Somerset, Great Britain BA 6 9DU. Tel : 44(0)1458 833933 / 831518


YULE 2006

Yule is a time of great magical power for the hedge witch. We celebrate the darkest time, the Winter Solstice; because, from now on the daylight will increase and the green life of woods, hedgerows and fields will gradually revive. This means the future increase of green leaves, the real resurgence of nature.

All over the world, at this point in history, it is as though there’s a ‘winter solstice’ for every forest, all of the time. Symbolically, the light of our human reverence for trees has burned very low. The grate forests of Europe and the world’s rainforests, along with all the little English and orchards are under threat as the multi national corporations approach.

As hedge witches we work with plants-wands, broomsticks, staffs, potions, charms. Besides, they are central to Pagan beliefs about what keeps the world in being. The World Tree as cosmic axis, the green thread of life in the nitrogen cycle and, of course, every farm and it’s harvest. So what can we do about this?

At Yule it is traditional to bring some greenery into the house. There arte many reasons for doing so but, at the simplest it is a way of invoking and celebrating nature’s strength, at the time when light and life-force are at their lowest. Here is a spell for the Earth’s trees, based on this custom.

SPELL

If you live in a cold, northern country, bring in some Evergreens, such as holly, ivy, mistletoe or pine, juniper, fir, box etc.

(If you live in a warmer land, you may obviously prefer to work with other plants.) Arrange them in a circle. (It is traditional to make a round wreath but this is quite complicated so you can just lay them out in a ring. Place a candle in the centre. At evening, during the period 21st – 24th Dec., place your fingertips on the candle and say this:

SPELL FOR TREES
I light the flame
Of love for the trees
At this dark hour.
All over the world
Let love for the trees
Be strong, growing in power.

Be it as I have spoken.
The forests increase
As the circle of light is unbroken.

New life to the trees
In the names of Goddess and God
Of Light and the Greenwood.

(Light the candle and visualize new forests, with extensive new planting of each land’s native trees – and conservation of old forests. And say ‘ So May it Be.’)

Bright Blessings on all our Yule Festivities.

 

I will be giving a talk at Wantage, Oxfordshire on 28th April 2997. It is organised by Witchycon.co.uk Ffi phone 01235 819744 or visit the website.

Bright Blessings

Rae


LUGHNASADH 2006

Hail to Lughnasadh, the festival of the first fruits! This is commonly seen by Hedge Witches and most other magical folk as a time to celebrate and give thanks for the beginnings of a harvest, on the land and in our lives. A time for enjoyment of what we have and for sharing. Obviously in a land where resources are not shared equally amongst all people, this has implications for spells to bring prosperity to us all, in harmony with the earth.

It is also a prime magical time for making offerings that serve life. We can therefore vow to serve the community in some way with our magic, or offer our skills as hedge witches for the benefit of the land (Or vow to do both as these objectives need not exclude one another.)

In view of the ongoing tension out in the Middle East, here is a spell for World Peace, to be done at Lughnasadh or at the Full moon in August or at any time.

Make a Peace Sign in the air with an Ash Wand or your forefinger or your usual Wand. This sign may be anything to you, which means real peace. It could for example be a CND sign, since contemporary hedge witchcraft makes use of symbols from today’s world. Or it could be an Ankh cross, a caduceus or the outline of a rose.

Say these words,

‘Let peace be everywhere
By this sign and token.

Let peace be in the air,
Peaceful words be spoken.

Peace everywhere on earth,
With any Harvest, now come to birth.

As crops are gathered in
Let peace begin.

Now for the token. Mark the same sign on a flat stone or piece of unbleached paper. Draw it with something biodegradable, such as chalk, coal, mud, and red wine or blackcurrant juice. Bury it in the earth. Place you hand over the spot where it lies, transmitting peace through the symbol out into the web of fate that criss-crosses the globe. Use your imagination and power of will to do this thing-and it is done.

The Ash is a member of the olive species and so is linked, magically, with peace by its power to reconcile opposing factors. (This may seem strange as it was used to make Viking warships and weapons – but why not use an Ash wand as a weapon of peace? I like paradoxes and fruitful contradictions and this is one of them.)

These days, the ‘community’ serves by the hedge witch may sometimes be global. We can serve by spells for peace, justice, environmental healing, the healing of the human relationship with Nature and in many other ways
Bright Blessings

And Happy Holidays and Celebrations

Rae


Just after BELTANE 2006

Who doesn't feel pressurised by the speed with which time passes? Most of us feel overwhelmed, nowadays, by the need to do too many things, too fast. This is partially a cultural problem (in Britain anyway) brought about by today’s hectic lifestyles and financial pressures. However it is also astrologically determined and it will ease, I believe, from about 2009 onwards, to be replaced by a sense of time moving more slowly again. (Phew!)
Meanwhile I’m off to a field full of dandelions. They came into bloom a few weeks ago in Somerset. Great golden swathes of them spread across pastureland and on the grass verges. Dandelions are linked with time magic>they are ideal for spells of relaxation, unwinding and spending “time out”.

Sit among dandelions or make some tea from the dried herb and say,

‘I unwind, turning away from time thieves,
I unwind from all that steals my liberty,
To live at my own pace.
I unwind towards the still centre
Of all that is.
I turn towards the place of good time
To be at one with a golden infinity,
An ‘ever after’ that is my birthright.’

Turn three times widdershins (anti-clockwise). Breathe the dandelion scent or drink the dandelion tea. Remain at rest, dreaming.

Then say, ‘I return now to the world, refreshed,
To live by the natural, magical rhythms
With which I am blessed. So may it be.’

Turn three times deosil (clockwise.)

If you cant obtain dandelion tea and do not live near wild dandelions, try lavender or passionflower (passsiflora.)

My new e-book ‘THE NINE MAGICAL WAYS’ is available from this site. It is as much a guide to enchantment (the correct wording of spells for maximum power) as it is to the various physical techniques of natural magic. Without the traditional ways of ‘spelling it out’ our potions and rites are less effective than they could be. (Therefore buy it now to partake of this neglected knowledge!! For it is – strangely- neglected.)

On October 28th, I will be giving a talk on ‘Magic for the land’ at Lincoln. This is a Pagan Federation event so visit the P.F. website for details or come back to this site in early autumn.

Spell Spamming

My heartfelt thanks for all your ongoing contributions for my Spell For World Healing.

Over the past month or so we've had many submissions from spammers hoping to get free links. I'm happy to say that every submission is automatically filtered and vetted before it gets anywhere near the website so the time you spend submitting directly to my trash can is time is time well invested in ensuring that your efforts go where they are supposed to.

Bright Blessings
Rae.


YULE 2005

The Winter Solstice, when the light dies and is reborn, and the land lies sleeping, can be a time to cast spells that benefit all of life. If you have a Yule tree, decorated with lights and trinkets, or just an indoor evergreen plant, or a decoration made of such plants as fir, holly and ivy, you can cast a spell by placing your hand on some leaves and saying words like these....

'I bless, consecrate and set aside this plant
for magic uses, in the names of the Great Mother
and the Father of Life. In touching it, I touch
the spirit of its species, in loving respect
and with these messages. 
As such plants remain evergreen in the forest,
so let the green thread remain,
of a natural harmony, throughout the land.
Let the green thread be strong, till the light
comes again. And let it direct the human mind,
heart and hand.'

Pause.

Then light three candles, one to the healing of the human relationship with rest of nature, one to the growth of forests, the increase of trees, and one to the growth of the light of true environmental wisdom.

This kind of magic is a gift to the land, at a time when humanity takes so much from it, to generate heat and light through the winter, (not to mention the frantic consumerism that happens around now !)

Bright Blessings,

Rae

(and may we all have a good Yule with bubbles and sparkles beside the serious.)

A new book by Rae Beth will be available from this website - extremely soon!

It is an e-publication called 'THE NINE MAGICAL WAYS' subtitled 'A Guide to Enchantment'

The book is a pocket guide of around 15000 words but is not superficial in aproach. Instead it offers some of Rae's previously unpublished teachings about how to word your spells correctly for maximum power. Traditional practises, like incantation, blessing and the use of sigils are explained so that the practitioner is able to use them with precision. This book also describes some techniques by which you can gain inspiration for healing magic.

The cost is £4.99 and it is published by Hexenpress. Details of how to order your copy will be posted here before December 22nd 2005.

On 27th December Rae is giving a talk on Harmonising With the Wheel of the Year at St.Marks Community hall, Widcombe, Bath; Ffi : email broun2000@yahoo.co.uk or phone 01225 840820

This one day event, called CELEBRATING THE WHEEL OF THE YEAR is part of the programme to launch THE GODDESS STUDY CENTRE in Bath and includes many talks and activities. It is open to all (a mixed event) and if you can make it, please come


AUTUMN EQUINOX - 2005

Another Magical Mistake

Happy Autumn Equinox to everyone. This is the time of harvest festival. It has been a difficult year and many people are harvesting grief or stress as well as good s things. Yet the Wheel turns and at least there is wisdom to be gained, in any year.

One major item in my personal harvest is the realisation that magic should be the first resort and not the last, in dealing with most of life's difficulties. When something has gone badly wrong and all the obvious practical remedies have been applied, yet the problem remains, it is always best to cast a strong healing spell there and then, rather than to hesitate. This realisation has been hard-won, for me. I find it so easy to fritter my time and psychic energy by trying to talk a problem through, again. and again. Or by taking a series of practical actions that turn out to be the wrong ones. So many, many times, I have ended up casting a spell with the bitter realisations that I could have done it six months or a year ago: And then I would have saved myself and others a lot of unhappiness.

Witches have bills to pay, children to care for, a house to run, money to earn, just like everybody else. So, in the midst of life, it isn't always easy to do a spell just because it is needful. But oh! the time you can save and the suffering you can prevent, if you do act at once and wave your wand, quickly.

For example, if your child is being bullied at school, your finances are at rock bottom or a family member is very ill, it can be a great mistake to put off doing remedial magic. 'A stitch in time', as they say, 'saves nine.' The practical work of coping, communicating and so on still has to be done. But you get better results, usually, if you have done an appropriate spell first. This leaves you stronger and less pulled down by personal problems. More able to give of your best in healing the land or the community in a much wider sense.

If you are already exhausted and run raged, here is a spell for you:

Take one hair from your head (or a fingernail clipping).
Wrap the hair round a yew tree twig (on a living, growing tree.) If using the nail, pit it into the tree bark.
Say, 'As my hair (/nail) is within your power and under your healing spell, so am I, so all is well 
in the name of '(Name your favourite healing Deity e.g. Brighid) 

Bright Blessings Rae


BELTANE 2005

Simple Magical Mistakes - Part One

A witch's home is their temple and it's a mistake to think it doesn't matter what is kept in it. Even more of a mistake to think that the themes and state of any shrines or altars do not affect the lives of the people who inhabit them.

When we first came to our present home, I couldn't decide how I wanted to arrange the new altar, at which I do much of my magical work. It was smaller than the old one, so I couldn't fit onto it all the things I had before. After trying out various ideas , I suddenly felt inspired to grab a tall glass vase, and stuff into it a handful of twigs from our apple tree, together with bird feathers (mainly crow). Then I hung a few shiny things, like a crescent moon from the 'branches'.

Perfect! It looked austere and gothic and very powerful. A World Tree in winter mode, connecting me with themes of purification, inwardness, Underworld journeys in quest of wisdom, and so on. I went on to make a shrine, symbolically designed as a Faery cave in the Underworld. And got on with my life..After a while my partner Ashley said, "Why are your altars and things so dark and dire lately? I know you are on a quest for wisdom and they are right for that. But there's nowhere in this house dedicated to - well - blossoming out and having the good things of life. You want psychic and spiritual transformation and deep understanding. Good. But, symbolically, things might be a bit unbalanced around here.!

After I had finished hitting myself on the head for being a fool, I went out to buy some statues and ornaments in a more 'good fortune' mode. I couldn't afford them. (Well what could I expect with a magical orientation like mine?) So I went home and made some leaves and apple blossom from felt and cottons, and hung those on the tree.The shrine is being made over with home-made things too. I shall make the apples next. I look forward confidently to an upturn in my affaires.

I know this may sound trivial, compared to dramatic magic, done in the style of full blown ritual. But its very very easy to overlook details in magic. Our homes are the foundation of our lives, psychically as well as physically. They are, quite literally, where we are coming from when we go out into the wider world. What we have in them ,let alone what we have upon an altar can effect us emotionally, psychically and in subtle magical ways.

I have had quite a hard time, though I have certainly learned a great deal, while my altars have been so dark. What a confession! I should have thought I would have more sense. Not that all problems spring from an unbalanced altar arrangement, life is more complex than that. But it doesn't help.........

Beltane Blessings upon us all
and upon our lovers, our homes
and our magic.

Rae.


JUST AFTER YULE 2004

Spell for Magical Power

Let me take a track
that goes through the land
to take me back 
to where I stand
both at the beginning 
and at the end 
of all journeys.

There is a star-
any one will do-
to guide me there.
And a password too.
(Speak, friend.)

A path, a star and a word.
And lives to mend.

As a hedge witch, I believe that magic is not something terribly complex, almost beyond us. It is within everything, everywhere. And most purely of all, in the land, in what is natural. Of curse, this is dangerous. Such immediate power can be abused. Therefore, there are spirits as well as our human attitudes, to protect us from trouble. In practice, this means that faery guardians of this magical path (at least of the aspect I try to walk) will only give magical power their blessing if we are friendly to them and to all creatures. (Unfriendly people can get access to magical power by other routes, of course, but not by the one described in the foregoing riddling spell.)

I think that, ideally, along walk should be taken across country, before stopping to walk round in a ring, as the spells wording implies. While walking the words can be chanted out loud, or in your mind. The place that is reached *both at the beginning and at the end* seems to me to be *home*, a kind of magical-spiritual home that is as much to do with a state of mind (magical consciousness) as with a place. It is about oneness with the land and its realms of spirit. The final line *And lives to mend* brings me back to the purpose of being a witch — reminds me what magical consciousness is for. It is the state in which we can help or heal ourselves or others. by our enchantments.

I like this walking spell because it helps to take the mystique out of witchcraft, while reclaiming the mystery. It was dictated to me by a faery familiar, after an inspiring conversation with a friend. But such spells are drifting by on the wind almost all of the time. If we ask, they are given to us to use.


AUTUMN EQUINOX - 2004

What more can we say about witchcraft, with so many hundreds of thousands of words alredy in print on the subject, so much knowledge available? I ask this question, from time to time. Today, my wise familiar answers me, like this. 

"We dont really need many more words about magic. We need words that are magical.  Spells that restore harmony in countless ways, by banishing what is ill or invoking what makes well.  Spells are most needed for the wholeness of the world. For a rejoining of the separate threads in the cloth of the world's existance. Gashes have been made in it- like those in the ozone layer. Threads have been broken, such as those connecting an animal or a plant species with a locality or with each other. Stains have been placed in it by toxic waste.

Before this cloth disintegrates, sing to it, to mend it. Sing something like this.

SPELL

Let the cloth of life be mended.
Let the thread be linked again,
restored, cleansed - the forests growing,
native plants in field and fen.

Let the cloth of life, in beauty,
be restored by will to be.
People with the plants and creatures,
tending earth and sky and sea."

Many magical rites could be based on this type of simple spell, including things like the ritual washing and mending of a piece of torn cloth or else by knitting or weaving a new one. Or by the use of cords, which are knotted or plaited to cast a spell. (This is a traditional practise, amongst witches.) The spell can also be cast by just chanting it, nine times. An offering could be made for the spells success, afterwards, such as the care of a garden or work for an environmental charity. 

I feel thoroughly answered now, on the subject of words and witchcraft. We are harvesting a realisation, collectively, that it is our world that is endangered. Not certain species but all of it, ourselves as well. Anyones spell might be a crucial one, starting a chain of events that bring massive changes. So anyones tiny magical rhyme might be extremely important. We need magical words in huge quantities. And that means words with a magical purpose (never mind the literary value), 

Bright Blessings,
                         
Rae

P.S. I have an apology to make, to the many people who have responded to my offer of teaching/mentoring online. I'm truly sorry to have been misleading but I can,t do it, at present. This is because i am being strongly called to do a lot more magical healing work. I must, so the Fae have told me, do more of the actual work of a witch, rather than teach about it. I am also planning another book. What with this and my other commitments the plan to teach has had to be dropped. But I will continue to give talks and the occasional workshop.


SUMMER SOLSTICE 2004

Round here, magic is being done by ivy roots, old water butts and pet cats and the patterns of starlight on the Somerset marshes as well as by the fae, with their long white hands. I am sure it’s the same where you live. There is always magic inherent in life. And we don’t possess that magic, do we, as hedge witches? Rather, it possesses us, like the land does. Or like love. And the only spells that are worth it, are those that we do in harmony with this greater pattern of life-enhancing magic that is woven or sung or emanated by every magical creature, plant, star, Shining One or rain puddle. That makes spell-casting an act of both power and surrender.

SPELL FOR POWER

Away from the crowd, alone, I go among hills.
As I climb one where the power dwells,
I go within, I go deep down.

Here, I am no more within the world.
Spirits of the rocks, cave dwellers,
Come to me, welcoming.
They say there are nine stairs of glass
Underneath the grass.
And there is a hedge of air all around me

Nine times, I turn around, moonwise, saying,

‘I lay my life down on this altar
to healing magic,
that I may arise as a child of the Old Ones,
at One with enchantment.’

(Notes. A hill where the power dwells is one upon a leyline, or one which is a known sacred sight. The phrase ‘ I lay my life down’ does not imply any physical ending to life, but an end to the previous less magical way of being. After lying down on the hill for a while, stand up and turn around nine times deosil (clockwise.) If you are already a witch this spell will reinforce your power. If you are new to all this, it will work if you are sincereand very clear about why you want to do such a thing. If not sure, don’t do it, as a broken vow is a serious matter and a half-fledged witch is an unhappy person.)


SPRING EQUINOX 2004

This morning, 20th March, I awoke to find the wind gusting strongly as it so often does around the equinoxes. These are potentially the points of greatest turbulence and changeability. And times of the highest sea tides. There is great magic in this. On the other hand, the eggs and Eostre hares connected in Pagan traditions with the spring equinox emphasize fertility and renewed sexuality. So - we have a time of great turbulence, from which new creativity arises. A time of fertile chaos.

EOSTRE PRAYER

Great Lady of Resurrection and Lord of Life, Bring us all into a new pattern of being, a pattern of harmony, within ourselves, with one another and with the Earth and all her creatures.
Let us be remade in sensual creativity, that, by a wild magic, we may live fully. So may it be.


WINTER SOLSTICE 2003

At the Winter Solstice, it is the time to give and receive gifts. I don’t know how far back this tradition goes, but it seems exactly right. For the darkest time of the year corresponds symbolically, with the lowest point in our lives. And such times are often marked with the receiving of a gift. Sometimes, often, the gift is illumination, new light of understanding, a revelation. A sudden perception about how to be different from now on, to be, somehow, reborn as a person who knows what to do in this darkness/welter of problems. Or the gift can be some kind of power, some new creativity. Or both. In any case, as the Solstice arrives, we can celebrate this eternal process.

SOLSTICE RITE

Find a cave. If there are none near to where you live, a cleft in a rock will do – or anything that can symbolise ‘dark and deep.’ ( A hole in the ground, which you may have to dig for yourself. Or, if you need to work indoors, a small heap of stones.)

Think back to a dark time in your life. (If ou are going through one now, try to think of an earlier one, which you came through.)

Say,

‘By the blessing of She who gives birth to the new light,
time after time, may the next seeker in darkness find
what I found, within the depths – the new revelation,
the gift. So, by this offering, I share what has been mine.
So may it be…’

Leave in the cave (or push in amongst the stones) a symbolic example of what you were given e.g. a copy of the helpful poem, the friend’s words, the new idea. This could be actual words on paper, or else some object which, to you, encapsulates what you found. (It might be a remedy of some kind – a herb or flower essence. But nothing should be left which is not bio-degradable.)

Next, remember the creatures associated with this time of year, in Pagan thought – e.g. the wren, bear, deer or boar. Or their faery counterparts. Or of a familiar spirit who helps you through problems.

Say,

‘And I leave a gift here for…(name them), who walks/flies beside me, in the dark.’

Put into the cave some gift in the form of food, like honey or fruit or bread.

Think next of the next generation – the children or the newborn. (or of the next generation of creatures, the wildlife.) What will these ned to help them go safely through the world? Perhaps a blessing. Say this or something of your own – either whispering the words into the rock cleft or pile of stones or standing inside the cave and speaking them.

‘In the names of the Mother of Life and the Horned God,
I bless the world’s young. May they receive freedom.
Places of the wildest beauty in which to roam.
Free choices about food, love, occupation, home.
Freedom from all abuse and all want.
Freedom to learn. So may it be…’

Now sit down in the cave. (Or sit and imagine you are in one.) Say,

‘I look for the gift of…’
(Name what you want for yourself e.g. wisdom, the power to heal, recovery from illness, a good place to live.)

Close your eyes and sit in the silence and darkness.. See if you can sense or see the gift that is coming to you. (It may not be what you have asked for, this year. Or again, it may.) When ready, say,

‘I give thanks for the gifts of new light and new life and for all gifts.’

Now light a candle, in celebration. Or, if indoors, turn on the tree lights (if you have a decorated Yule tree.) 

Brightest Yule Blessings

Rae.

P.S. The Solstice period extends right from the 21st to the 24th Dec. The new light doesn’t actually return until dawn on the 25th. (All to do with the Sun’s declination to the south of the equator, which varies slightly each year.)


AUTUMN 2003

This is the time of year when the physical energy within the land – and so in ourselves – starts to drop like a stone down a chasm. Most of us start to feel less lively and also more prone to coughs, colds and various viral infections. What, you may wonder has this to do especially with hedge witchcraft? Quite a bit. Most witches are likely to know the obvious herbal remedies. (Take echinacea, garlic or astragalus to help the immune system. Thyme is good for chest and coughs etc) But what can magic do to help with health problems, especially if you feel too frail and tired for a full-scale rite of healing?

My favourite remedy is Pagan pilgrimage. If not acutely ill, I go to a place of power like a holy well or a stone circle or just to walk by a river or sit on a beach. There, I make links with the wild spirits of the place and ask for healing. (I do this silently within my mind.) Then I make an offering to the nature spirits or faeries of the place, in thanks for their help. For example, I might offer a few drops of an essential oil sprinkled on the ground or some food like biscuits or whatever I’m carrying. If I’ve come empty-handed because the visit was a spontaneous one, then the offering has just to be my love and respect. Or a song. (The faeries in particular like being sung to. They will take the energy within the song for their purposes. And such an offering leaves the place unspoilt. You can’t get much more bio-degradable than a piece of singing!)

It is almost Samhain, the Festival of the dead. Question. Do the dead come back into the hearts and souls of the living? Or do our hearts go into the realm of the dead when we commune with them? Second question. At Samhain, do the veils between the living and the dead get thinner inside each one of us? Or outside?

(The answer I would make to each of these questions is – both. Or rather, at the level at which we experience these things, there is no distinction.)

Bright Blessings,

Rae.


Just after SUMMER SOLSTICE 2003

If I were a raven, with a raven’s reputed insight and foresight, and were flying above the hills and fields of Somerset (where I live), I would see many people gathered on Glastonbury Tor and on the beaches of Bridgewater Bay and the Exmoor coast and in the fields walking their dogs or working on the land. I would see humans talking, caring for their children, making love, driving their vehicles, as busy and as preoccupied with their own lives and culture as the creatures of hedgerow and woodland. I would be able, perhaps, since ravens are famous for psychic perceptions, to see the psychic forms of all the energy generated by towns and villages, and by the solitary humans outside the settlements. And the psychic energy of the creatures and of the land, itself, and its trees and flowers. And I would see how much interaction there was between different life forms and their environments. How much green there was in someone’s aura, indicating their wild love of nature. Or not. And all the subtle, magical connections between one person and another would be visible to me – all the psychic links, all the energy of feeling, being emanated for good or ill.

I would know a big change of heart was required, about how to live on this Earth. I would see many unhappy, psychically negative human beings, in rather large numbers, muffling their ‘quiet desperation’ with their addictions to food, frantic work, the quest for money and drugs and so on. I would see the land suffering from abuse in too many places. All trashed with litter. I would see beauty ignored and desecrated. And I would see bitterness and fear.

But here and there, I would see humans in real communion with the land’s spirit. I would see some who could see the beauty. I would see their psychic links to elementals and to familiar spirits from faery. I would see the psychic energy that these created, these wisewomen or cunning men, fay people, Pagans. I would see them touch the land in blessing. I would see them notice wild creatures around them and bless them too. These witches might look a bit lonely. Something like green glow worms on tarmac. Or like the occasional candle, inside a black empty barn.

But I would notice another thing happening. Other, psychically curious humans, their souls’ antennae aware of more than their minds know, would be drawn to these fay ones’ glowing auras so full of leaf light and faces in oak bark and deep caves that lead to a silvery otherworld of faery presences. Curious humans, perceiving a nourishment, a wild communion, would begin to understand something long forgotten about the land’s magic. About the mysteries. At once perturbed and yet reassured, they would begin questing for a magical relationship with nature, a new sense of the sacred arising within them.

These witches are more important than they realise. This would be my conclusion if I were a raven.

Bright Blessings,

Rae. 


SPRING EQUINOX 2003

The Spring Equinox marks the time when the light of the sun has grown so strong that the time of light, from now on, will be longer than the time of dark, each day. Right around until the Autumn Equinox, light will be in the ascendant. Right round until then, or longer, plants will not cease growing. Therefore, now is the season for spells of increase, to make things flourish. Yet we live in a gloomy and frightening time.. As I write this, war looms with Iraq.

Many people feel powerless to do anything about war, injustice, oppression and lack of democracy. Many people feel disempowered and depressed, as though things can only get worse from now on, since the power all seems to lie with the global corporations who pull the strings of governments everywhere – the global corporations who deal in arms, gm foods and disaster. What can we do against these, to help bring worldwide justice and peace, for everybody? What can we do to make these things grow?

Perhaps something like this. Stand in the garden or a field or park or forest – anywhere you can be on the earth, not on tarmac or concrete. If it is warm enough, go barefoot. Say something like the following,

Spell for Unity
I stand by what I stand upon – the Earth, our Mother and all Her children. Our kinship with one another and with all that lives, reaching beyond all boundaries of nationality, reaching beyond all barriers of race and creed. I stand for what I stand upon – the Earth and all Her children, each with the same need, which is for a just unity. Let this prevail. As the light grows and the leaves increase, let a just unity prevail in word and deed. Co-operation, tolerance, peace, a just unity. So may it Be.

Stand and feel your connection, through Earth, with every person and creature and plant and rock and element and spirit. You are doing this for us all on behalf of humanity. Feel the psychic power of your strong assertion of a just unity, as that which we must have.

Draw upon the earth an equal-armed cross within a circle – a symbol of wholeness and balance, predating Christianity. (It means the circle of life which contains us all. And the Five directions – East, South, West, North and Centre, in integration, united.) If the ground is too hard, draw the symbol in the air, with your wand or a finger.

Remember that magic can change the world anytime. Any small spell can be the one to tip the balance,

Bright Blessings
And Peace upon all of us.
Rae.


IMBOLG 2003

Late again, with this posting. I’m sorry everyone. My excuse is that I haven’t been well. But this is a time of year associated with healing spells, after all.

The three-aspected springtime fire of the Goddess Brighid, especially linked with the recent festival of Imbolg, is very much connected with healing. For the surge of fire, experienced in Northern Europe as slightly longer hours of daylight, restores us in three ways. First, it gives us a lift of physical and psychological energy. (It is well known that daylight deprivation inclines people to depression and lethargy.) Secondly, it pleases our souls, because it not only brings the presence of spring flowers but inclines our thoughts to love and romance. Thirdly, it can increase our creativity. As our spirits lift, we are more likely to be inspired with new plans and projects.. It seems to me that these three aspects of the Goddess’s fire are linked, in many ways. If a person’s creativity is fully expressed, their health is likely to improve. Love and romance can incline us towards creativity – people often write poetry (however badly) when they’re in love.

What I’m trying to say, rather stumblingly, I’m afraid, is that nature’s springtime fire increases our personal fire – that power which the East calls ‘Kundalini’. (This is an electrical force said to lie coiled like a snake at the base of our spines. It is awakened by sexual attraction and by certain kinds of magical and mystical experience.)

I believe there is said to be a biological connection between daylight, the pineal gland and stimulation of sexual / creative energy. In ritual and intuitive ways, it seems to me that this is what we are celebrating, when we light lots of candles on February 1st, in honour of the Goddess Brighid ( the Lady of the first stirrings of the Light, however we name Her .) And that this was perceived by our Pagan Ancestors, in the days before anyone knew anything at all about the endocrine system and light sensitivity. So I’d like to share a Healing Spell that came to me this Imbolg.

Spell for Healing
The snake comes up from its hole in the ground
And the snake-neck bird, the swan, goes flying
As the light flares higher and the dark is dying.
Rise, rise, rise in my body and soul
The Fire! Power! Life! The flame of desire!
Let fire within be a healing spell.
As the new light burns, all shall be well.

Variations on this could include changing the last two lines, to aim the magic specifically at increased sexual potency if that’s what you want, or increased artistic or spell-casting vigour. Accompany it with appropriate visualizations and light a candle. Alternatively chant it over and over again while taking a walk in the spring sunshine ( preferably in a place where snakes or swans live! ) Another obvious way to link with this power is to walk along a ley-line, chanting as you go.

Such a spell could be done at dawn, all spring and summer long, since dawn is the ‘first stirrings of the light’ of each day,

Bright Blessings
Rae.


Yule 2002

There are many plants connected, in Pagan Lore, with this time of year, the most obvious being holly and ivy. Birch is another tree sometimes associated with Yule, or the Winter Solstice, the time when the year’s wheel of the seasons turns. It is the traditional wood for the twiggy part of the witch’s broom as well. In magical lore the wood is said to bring about purification and to be able to drive out demons. We witches can literally sweep demons away. (It adds a whole new dimension to doing the housework.) Furthermore birch is a wood connected with birth or inception. And since this is the time, when, as we Pagans say, the Sun is reborn, spells involving birch wood or birch leaf or birch sap wine are effective.
What demons would I like to banish, in order to help birth a new way for the world? Given the current state of affairs, how about demons of war and injustice? Seems that these need tackling quite urgently. Again.

Take some birch twigs and sweep up torn bits of newspaper reports of actual or impending acts of war, terrorism, or of injustice. (If you have no newspapers, simply write words like ‘war’ ‘aggression’ ‘greed’ etc on paper and use that.) Sweep them up, then burn or bury them. As you sweep, say something like this:

‘By birch wood
and the time of new birth,
I sweep away the demons of war
to help bring peace on earth.’

This is a small spell, it is true. But as I have always maintained, when such magic is done by many of us, it can have a big effect. We can each only do our own bit, but it al adds up, collectively, to something that can make a very considerable difference.
Finish by hanging up mistletoe, the plant of love and peace. This one was sacred to both the Celtic and Teutonic peoples and its presence meant a time of peace and goodwill. Take time to visualise a world of peace and justice. A world of love and not war.

Such spells are not only for the Winter Solstice. The fore-going could be done at any New Moon. If unable to obtain mistletoe, you could simply hang up the birch twigs. As I have said they are linked with birth, a new way forward, as well as with purification . If unable to get any birch twigs, try buying some birch tea from a supplier of herbs and soak the papers in that and then bury them. Hang up roses or a bunch of lavender.

I have been wondering what makes us strong in magic. Strong enough to believe that our spells are worth doing, in such a cynical and dangerous world. Perhaps it is our knowledge that all change begins in the inner realms, the world of dreams and spirits, to which we can never be denied access. So we chant or pray or dance till the veils, between ourselves and the realms of spirit, part. Then the magic begins. (In this instance with the birch and mistletoe spirits’ help.) As within, so without, as we weave a new dream of how life could be.

Bright Blessings
and Peace and Goodwill
be upon us all, throughout
the world,
Rae.


Samhain 2002

It is again almost Samhain, the Festival of the Dead ( October 31st), as I write this. Already the spirits are swirling in from the Otherworld, along with the Autumn leaves on the wind. Some years, they seem more present, more pressing. What do they really want? It varies, of course. But one of the jobs of the witch is to find that out, in any particular instance. (Always remembering that sometimes they don’t want anything at all, from us personally. They are simply going about their own business.)

Once any of us have sensed a spirit presence, we may at once know if they want our particular attention. If not, it is easy to ask. Just reach out towards them within your mind, and think ‘What do you need? Do you bring a message? Have you something to give? Is there anything I can do for you? ` With practice, you will soon learn to sense any spirit’s purpose, providing you do not dismiss anything you sense as ‘just imagination’ . As Dion Fortune taught, imagination is the medium whereby psychic and spiritual presences, ideas and so on make themselves known to us.

Unfortunately, conventional culture has a strong phobia about spirit presences. We have been taught to fear them all as hostile, malicious, at least potentially. Somehow, it seems we still think the Dead need propitiating. Actually, most human spirits want what we all want – love, a chance to help or be creative, reassurance about those they care for, forgiveness for their mistakes, or to pass on their wisdom. The human dead still share our humanness…. However, not all spirits are human. There are all kinds of elementals, faeries and so on around at the moment, as well.

For those of us with a faery soul (and that goes for many witches) the faery spirits that come out in full force at Samhain are our allies. The Faery Queen, cloaked resolutely in black at this time of year, and sometimes shifting her Shape to that of a crow, may not be everyone’s idea of an elven presence. But Her power is entirely benign. The faeries are trying to undo the rigid ideas this world has about life, death and magic. At Samhain they come rushing in to say life isn’t to be controlled really, but to be lived. A message of affirmation at the time of the Dead. Life is to be experienced fully, in all its poetry, music, meaning and wildness. And the strange gothic beauty of this time of year is because of the breakthrough from spirit realms, where there really is no permanent loss, but only endless shape shifting.

I once saw a blackberry bush transform into a wizened and capering elf, who held up a hand and beckoned. ‘Follow me into the realm where the pattern shifts and the spell is a thought away. Here it is twilight in a cold wind, but the earth’s magical doors are opening into the hollow hils…..’

This time last year, I went to Chalice Well at Glastonbury and peered into the Well, asking to see reflected on the waters a vision of what I would need to become to truly serve life and magic. At once, my own reflection just disappeared and I saw just the branch of a tree – a hazel. This year I asked the same question and again I vanished and there were just trees. (Actually, this was a little unnerving. Like looking into the bathroom mirror and seeing nothing but the wall behind your head!) I take this to mean that I should become like a tree. Well rooted into the land and in harmony with all the elements. Not a bad prescription. So this year I also asked, “How do I, or any one of us, achieve this state of harmony, which is like a tree? “ And right in front of my physical eyes (for I was not seeing this with my mind’s eye) the waters of the well rose dramatically till they were almost at the metal grill covering the top. I asked again, to make sure, and the same thing happened. The trouble is, I don’t have any idea what this answer to the 64 million dollar question actually meant! And my familiars are strangely enigmatic! So I would welcome ideas and suggestions about how this might be interpreted.

We witches can be strangely reticent about such experiences with spirits or visions. I’m not sure why. Perhaps we fear they will be dismissed as unspectacular but the real thing is often quite subtle, tends to be a brief glimpse and (however bizarre to relate ) has a quality of being, somehow, natural.

Try standing under a Yew tree and saying,

“Part the veils
between the worlds.
Open doors in hollow hills.
Let the mounds be emptying.
Let the spirits dance and sing.
Let the wild communion bring
a freedom, wisdom, 
love, healing.”

A good time for this would be twilight on October 31st, or, for those with very strong nerves, midnight.

Bright Blessings on all our Samhain rites,

Rae


AUTUMN EQUINOX - 2002

Hail to the festival of the double spiral. Now we begin to turn inwards towards the darkness of winter, a time of spiritual and psychic inwardness, as well as the beginning of spending more time indoors, in our homes or other buildings. This is the start of a whole six month cycle. And the other half of the spiral, the one when we turn outwards, begins at Yule when we wind back towards the light of springtime. Therefore, a strong theme at this time of year is a thread, a green thread, that first winds inward towards the winter and then back out again for the spring. But never breaks, whatever the hardship or scarcity winter might bring. Autumn Equinox is a very good time for casting spells that help others or ourselves to survive traumatic events or major life changes, like having a different career, beginning a course of study, undergoing medical treatment or having a child leave home.

Ivy is the plant to use in such spells, because of the spiraling pattern of its growth and because it is an evergreen. Traditionally, it represents an ongoing thread of life that sustains us, through dark times. It is often connected with Harvest Festival.

Do we now face a dark time collectively? With threats of war hanging over our world, we might need to turn to magic to sustain the thread of life and restore peace.

Place ivy upon an altar or visit some in a wood or garden. Touch the plant, Say something like this,
‘Spirit of ivy, the thread of life,
I now invoke you, in the names
Of the Great Triple Goddess and the Horned God.
Bring us through danger to justice and harmony
By these words, “Peace, fair continuing peace”.
I stand here for the thread of peace.
I touch you for us all
Who hold life sacred.
And as I speak heartfelt words, so may it be.
Peace, fair continuing peace, born of justice
For us all. So May it Be.
So May it Be.’
This very simple spell could be done daily for as long as its needed. Or used as one aspect of a large and more complex ritual. As always, with magical work of this kind, the kind that is huge in its aspirations and aims, it is our collective efforts that bring a change. One peace spell is a drop in the ocean, of course. But an ocean is made up of tiny drops. If each of us does what we can, then we can do enough.

Autumn Equinox is also, primarily a time of thanksgiving for harvest. A time to see what has been gained. For the harvest itself is the thread of life. Seeds of the future are planted from what has been gathered in,

Bright Blessings
Rae


LUGHNASADH 2002

Please forgive me everybody for the lateness of this posting. The reason is that at Lughnasadh, the festival of the first fruits of harvest I received a very large fruit indeed. The chance to live in a cottage in Somerset. Of course the weeks before and after moving were a mad frenzy of packing and unpacking. I was going to write about inner harvest, wild harvest and so on. All the different ways of looking at the idea of harvest. But that will have to be for next year now. Or for the autumn equinox.

Very belated Lammas Blessings,
Rae

P.S. What a rich time of year, rich in the mysteries. I lie on my back in my new limestone-walled garden, and I cannot believe I am this lucky. I feel the psychic resonance of the place’s spirits and the folk history like dandelion wine.


Summer Solstice 2002

Here in Britain, the weather as I write this (on 13th June) is not at all as the peak of the year should be. For this is the year’s climax. The time of glory. There should be long sunlit days and mellowness and roses. Actually, we’ve got cold winds and continual rain.. In spite of this, there are flowers and a fullness of greenery everywhere, here in the West of England. And the veils will surely part to let in the faeries, at Summer Solstice. I can feel it beginning to happen already.

A traditional spell to enter the faery realm is to sit astride a ragwort plant and say:

‘Horse and hattock, away!’

I’ve never tried it – I’m a bit worried about the technical aspect of sitting astride something so small. Do you pick a piece and then out it between your legs like a miniature hobby horse? I think that must be it. Or do you sort of sit around one that you’ve left growing wrapping your legs round it?
Actually. I think if you did this as the climax of a Summer solstice rite, in a formally cast circle, you would be likely to achieve a real result. A change of consciousness, whereby you could begin to see nature as the faeries see it and perhaps also spirit presences – wisps of coloured light, even shadowy outlines of recognisable faery shapes.
Such things have often happened to me and to many others, especially at sacred sites, after making the most simple of invocations and then staying quiet and peaceful for an hour or so. The ‘horse and hattock’ spell might be even more powerful for effecting such a change of consciousness. And that is what going away with the faeries usually is – a change of consciousness. (It is very rare and much more risky to be transported into the faery realm bodily, as Thomas the Rhymer was. Though I’m sure it still happens!)

In case anyone is wondering “Why bother with all that, how does it help us to live our lives here on earth!” I’d like to suggest that the practice could be dedicated as a spell to help change human consciousness, generally.

“As I am privileged to see the sacredness and faery beauty of this earth, so may we all be”

Imagine if such sensitivity were everyday and widespread! We could not then continue to tear each other to pieces and desecrate the earth.. We wouldn’t want to.
Not that the faery realm is all sweetness and light. It contains much mischief and endless mystery. Perhaps that is why some people find it more threatening than human horrors. It is uncontrollable. 
Other ways to see the faeries are to play music on a reed pipe or to wear the herb thyme.

Bright Blessings upon all our solstice celebrations, 
Rae.


BELTANE 2002

Beltane is the festival of Greenwood Lovers, the festival of wild love that may exist outside society's rules and constraints, in and 'outlaws' camp', somehow. But how can love be anything other than wild, really - even between the respectably married it must always be untamed, I think, if it is to survive (Caged love? I don't think so.) Love is always somehow a subversive force, encouraging dreams of a more just society, encouraging a free spirit. Even the love that plods on in an uncongenial job for the sake of the loved one, does not encourage a spiritual subservience. Instead, it can breed independent thoughts and creative plans and hope. So here comes the Festival of Love, Beltane. Bluebells, primroses and wild garlic are all out in the woods, here where I live, in the West of England, just right for the time. always, enshrined in Paganism, is the idea that true love means a real bid for freedom. Love sets something free - creativity, defiance of convention determination to make a stand for what we believe in - these are fruits of love. It really is the force by which we can turn the world around. (Or have our world turned upside down, of course' like the Hanged Man, in Tarot.) What should we do about this as hedge witches? I hate things to be in a cage, myself. And would enjoy to do a rite of releasing some actual caged birds into the wild - except that peoples' pet budgies etc would die in an English woodland - it's too cold for them and anyway could upset the balance amongst native wild birds so - bad idea: What else do I want to release?

I suggest as a Beltane rite, after invoking the elemental spirits and the Lady and Lord, that you recite all the names of all the people, animals, places etc you have ever loved, including friends, family and anyone who has inspired you, as well as lovers. (Actually, when I start making my own such list in my head, I think I had better start trimming it down a bit or I'd be standing there for many hours, reciting name after name after name. (And aren't I lucky to have met so many amazing people, to have seen such beautiful places, to have met such trees, such creatures?) 
To embrace all your loves, hold a candle as you speak their names. Then when the list is complete, say something like this, 
I consecrate this candle as the flame of love. As it burns, may love grow stronger within me and in us all, lighting the way to be free of all false ways of living and all psychic barrenness, bringing a new way of joy and peace and rich fulfillment, in body and soul, within a world of justice. So May It Be.' 
Kiss the candle and then light it. If you are able to follow this rite with a trip to the nearest woodland, so much the better. Spend time there with your back up against a tree, meditating about what you, especially, want to set free, in yourself or in the world. A voice that speaks the truth, clearly? Your own truth. Sexual passion that is kindly, profound and giving? Assertiveness? Song or dance or poetry? Love, itself? What steps could you take, what offerings could you make, to begin this release, 
Finally, if you have a partner, you may want to raise extra energy for these things by making love and dedicating the energy. (it isn't easy to make love outdoors in Britain these days. We live on a most crowded island. But it can be done).

Bright Blessings on all lovers- and on love itself, 
Rae


Yule 2001

Happy Yule, everybody. Sorry this is rather late, as usual. Things have been a bit stressful in our house, this winter. Lots of family problems and domestic worries. A sense of being stripped down.
As a witch, I know that what you have stripped from you is just what is going to be remade, but on a different basis than before. And this is the stripping down time of year, after all. Myself, I have had to move out of the place that I live in (with my husband and son) temporarily, because the double glazing people did something wrong with the sealant, causing our flat to be filled with toxic fumes that have not dispersed in weeks:
This has been upsetting. But I choose to see it as a sign that our domestic life will be rebuilt this year, hopefully in a different house. (And we have been wanting to move for some time anyway.)
But what if I had lost my home permanently, become a refugee ? Or lost those closest to me, been bereaved? Can such wounds be healed while the world remains as it is? Some forms of stripping down can hardly be borne. Yet people do bear them, somehow.
As witches, perhaps we can help in the rebuilding, healing. For the world, as well as ourselves. For example, we can place a few sprigs of the fern horsetail (equisetum) on an altar, with
a candle, and say:

'As this candle burns,
may there be a remaking of lives
for all who are stripped down.
May each be given back all that we need,
our hearts and hope and strength and lives
rebuilt. So May It Be.'

You can do this spell at any time, but preferably on a waxing Moon, between Yule and Imbolg. It is enhanced if you drink about 5ml of horsetail tincture in a chalice of wine. And say:

'I drink this for the one and the many.'

Equisetum is a plant from ancient days (the carboniferous period). So it links with the most primal, instinctive areas of ourselves. That which we are stripped down to, in times of crisis. It contains minerals which help us build up again, from the bones upwards. Herbalists sometimes recommend it after serious blood loss or in times of debilitation. Physically, symbolically, this is a plant for a new start. If you cannot find it, nor the tincture, you can copy a picture of it from a book on wild plants, and burn your candle in front of that.
May we all be reborn at this time, in a new word of harmony. So May It Be.


Samhain 2001

October 31st, Samhain, is the old Pagan festival of the Dead. At this time, the veils are especially thin between the spirit realm and the world of the living. Witches can speak with the dead on this night, and to those about to be born, by simply lighting a candle and inviting spirits to join us around the flame. Call them by name. What voices do we then hear within our minds? What faces then appear within the mind's eye? Do not dismiss these things as imagination for the dead can use such means to communicate with us They may want to forgive or to ask forgiveness. They may want to guide or to warn or advise or just simply bring love. And, certainly, we can communicate our love to them, confident that on this sacred night of Samhain they will feel it most strongly.
Death is on all our minds, in view of what happened on September 11th, and the current war in Afghanistan. But October 31st is also the Celtic New Year, a time when new ideas or ways are conceived. As witches, our spells can be designed to help bring in a new peaceful world, beyond this crisis. Here is an example:

SPELL FOR WORLD PEACE

Lay to rest the hate, the grievance,
the fanaticism, the war
within the human spirit.
Let wisdom flower.

Lay to rest the division, contention
and desire for vengeance
within the human spirit.
And let there be no hindrance
to a new way of wisdom
and natural justice.

I here curse the curse of hatred.

Take whatever you choose to represent hatred, like an ugly poppet with a pin through its heart, and burn it in a fire. Or, if you cannot sew, draw the outline of a human body with a pin through the heart, and burn it in a candle flame. The aim of this spell is to transform violent, vengeful qualities in all people, ourselves as well. Follow with a meditation on healing the heart. Drink hawthorn tea or take hawthorn flower essence on behalf of the world ('for the one and the many') as well as for yourself, for a magical heart healing.

We can then ask the Lady, in Her aspect of Wisdom, to help us use this time to change ideas and attitudes, to bring increasing justice, as well as peace. Many people, myself included, have had the conviction on a psychic basis that now things will never be quite the same. As workers of magic, we can use our skills to help make that difference a good one.
We might consider trying to heal the sickness within the human psyche that creates terrorists. (And actually, you get violent maniacs in every culture, though not usually with such dramatic results.) This seems a tall order but the attempt can't go wrong. No spell is ever wasted and any small reduction in hatred means major victory.
We can also do as the witches of old have done, (in the Second World War and during the Spanish Armada) and cast spells to protect our land and help to keep people safe. The elemental spirits of Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Aether will protect a country as well as a small group or an individual. On either side of the Atlantic, such magic can be effective, if we keep at it. Of course, one individual hedge witch can't be expected to keep up the psychic defenses of an entire country, alone. Let alone to heal the human psyche. But each of us can do our bit. That is all we can do and also all anyone ever does. And so it is enough.


AUTUMN EQUINOX - 2001

Normally, this is the time when we focus on celebrating the harvest. We weigh up the year's losses and gains at Autumn Equinox. I like to make lists of the gains myself. What has been good about this year? What harvest is there?
Rites for the harvest festival can involve thanksgiving and the making of offerings to the Goddess and God, in the form of sharing our bounty with others.
It is also the time of year when we begin the descent towards the depths of winter, the turning within to find our inner harvest. Spells, such as the following, can be spoken aloud to help this process, wherein the inner harvest can be our own transformed selves.

Spell for the Way Forward

As a snail into its spiral shell,
As a soul into a longbarrow,
Let me go home.

As a reed in a stream,
As a hare amongst the cornfields,
Let me be at one.

I here relinquish
All that is not eternal.

Into the bright many-coloured land
That is beneath the hills,
Let me fly down.

My bones hold ancestral knowledge
and are kin to tree and stone.

Let me rise in the threads of the land,
The white of rivers,
The green of sap
And blood of creatures,
My life rewoven.

Like everyone else, I am still in shock about the recent atrocious terrorist attacks in America (hence the brevity of this posting.) I suggest that a prayer to be said in our Autumn rites (or at any time) could be something like this.

'Great Mother of Spirit Realms and Horned God of the Hollow Hills, you who receive and guide the souls of the dead, we call upon you. Lead to the Summerlands all those who died in America recently, in the attacks by terrorists. Bring them to peace or to their right spiritual place, for healing and transformation. Comfort the bereaved and guide the living. And help us to build a world where the bitterness of all past wounds can be healed. So May It Be.'

You are invited to make your contributions, which I will publish here, so that we can share ideas and inspirations. If you would like to include prayers for peace in this section, I would welcome them.


After Lammas - 2001

Lammas, or Lughnasadh, is the Festival of the First Fruits of the Harvest, on which we give thanks for the first signs of what we have gathered in this present year. The signs of what the full harvest may become. It is also a time when we offer ourselves, or our extra effort, in dedication, to ensure that the fruits of our work don't get spoiled, at the last minute. In the agricultural year, it is a tense time. Of course, much of this is behind us all now - because I'm late with this posting. So I'd like to suggest a post-Lammas meditation, on the theme of crop circles, the biggest unsolved harvest mystery of our times.

Just ponder these ideas. What are we each harvesting, year by year, besides the physical changes and fruitions in our lives? What 'crop circles' have we gathered in and what might they mean? And, come to that, what does it mean to eat corn that has had some incredible pattern created within it, whether by hoaxers or not? How do these patterns within the corn change our world?

At the next New Moon, a crop circle style spell is possible. Lay out a design on the ground, that has spiritual meaning. Use stones to make the shape or draw it in the earth with a stick. A pentacle, perhaps.
Say:
'As this design imprints upon earth
so may the beauty and truth of the faith
that it represents
now come to birth,
within the mind of this nation.' 
This may seem like a spell to convert people - and it could have that effect on some! But it is actually magic for increased understanding of what witchcraft, at best, can be about.

This is just one idea! I think the crop circle mystery contains a great deal of inspiration for spells of all kinds.
If anyone has any thoughts on this that they would like to share, please send them in.

NEWS FOR AUGUST 2001
THE HEDGE WITCH'S WAY is to be published in September 2001. Next month.
It will be available in hardback at £14.99, illustrated by Poppy Palin.

Sadly, the Pagan Federation Conference at Abbot's Bromley in September, has had to be cancelled, due to complications with the venue. This is a great shame and, of course, we all hope that it will take place, somehow, next year.


Just after Summer Solstice 2001

Instead of writing about the magical themes of this last sabbat, I should like to concentrate upon Earth healing magic that can be done anytime.
The recent foot and mouth outbreak in Britain was and is such a big crisis that it must also be an opportunity to change hearts as well as minds, about our treatment of nature in all her aspects. Which we do need to do, and not just about farming.
Bluebell woods, for instance, are becoming increasingly rare. That is because bluebells are an endangered species. And so are woods. And also, a lot of other plants, as well as creatures. As we all know, the fragile faery beauty of the land is under threat from intensive farming, house building, all kinds of pollution, climate change and GM crops. It is a similar story in most other lands.
Greenpeace, the Soil Association and other environmental organisations are all doing a marvellous job. They are our hope, they hold the future. We can all help by donating to these or giving our time to them. But what else can we witches do in particular, to help Mother Earth?
Of course, many valiant spell-casters are doing it already. However, some of us can feel overwhelmed by the scale of problem, especially if we are new to the practice of magic or are under stress in our own lives. We feel we can't do enough so we are tempted to not bother to try. The best approach is to think small, when faced with a huge problem. For, if many of us do one simple, small spell each day (no expertise required and no special power) then is a massive enchantment. Cumulative magic works. And anybody can do it. (Besides, the healing spell that does the trick need to be large. It just needs to be appropriate).
I have heard it said that everything is so interconnected that even the flutter of a butterfly's wings can affect the weather world wide. If that is true, then conceivably, serious climate change can be averted by one simple spell done by one person anywhere Earth, at any time. It could be the feather that tips the scales, the butterfly's wings, the gentle but crutial factor that causes a real change of attitude it the world's governments.
The poet Tennyson said, "more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of". Well, a spell is a dramatised prayer with attitude. As well as that, it is mystery. Energy follows thought as we know. Thoughts are things, the future starts within. That is why magic works. And a simple spell that may not seem terribly powerful can, if done repeatedly, have a subtle gradual effect that changes history.
Of course, many people have been working magic for earth healing for years now. To cast such a spell is not a new idea (the victories won by environmentalists - and there have been quite a few have undoubtedly been helped out by this). But we need more such spells, clearly. What could be new is that as well as major rites done by whoever can manage them, we each do a simple thing daily.
Here is an example of the kind of thing. It is just a suggestion for it doesn't really matter how we work magic as long as we harm none. Use this or if you have a better idea, then do something else instead.

WEAVING THE WEB OF LIGHT
Get a fresh (previously unlit) candle. Place your fingertips lightly against it and say:
I light this candle to the love of Earth's creatures.
To the love of the land.
As this candle burns, may such love waken in every heart
and heal the whole web of nature, heal every strand.
May it inspire protection of all the wild creatures and plants and places. And for the farm animals,
an era of no harm.
A fire of passion for the Earth!
Light the candle and let it burn for a while and then extinguish it. Relight it the next day, saying the spell again. And the next day again and so on. Keep lighting until the candle's gone. Get a new candle. The important thing is to do this regularly.

Even more simply, we can heal and help the land by giving a blessing. Anytime we are outside somewhere, whether in a garden or a park, on a hilltop or a beach, it is easy to place a hand palm downwards upon the ground and say, 'I bless the land and all plants and creatures……(in the names of whoever you worship or just say 'the Goddess' or 'Goddess and God').

To bless is a most ancient way to heal and protect. Just as to curse is to wither and banish, to bless is to help something thrive. It is simply well wishing. We can well wish the farm animals, wild animals and the web of life to thereby outdo the curse of uncaringness. This is as simple as we can get, magically, so it is easy to do often.
Bless the land for love of life.

We frequently overlook the simple informal kinds of magic, the unpretentious things that don't look mighty. But seeds don't look mighty either.


BELTANE 2001

Beltane draws near. The time to celebrate love - especially passionate 'greenwood' romance, the love between free spirits. Love spells are very much the province of witches, as everybody knows. So if we, ourselves, are without love but would like to meet someone, or if we have a friend who craves a partner, we can work magic.

Enchantment for Love.
Take one red ribbon or thread and one white and tie them together to form four equal strands (by tying the two together at the middle of each). As you do so, say this:

'Woven together are the strands
and likewise the woman and the man (or the man & the man, the woman & the woman)

So let it be with me
and the right lover.'

Anoint the ribbons with rose oil and, if you can get them, the fresh juice of rose leaves or petals. Say something like this:

'As he/she is kind, loving, wild and passionate
and honest and fair,
let him/her come to me bound by the knot I bear.'

Carry the talisman or wear it, until you meet someone (if the spell is for another person give it to them to carry and alter the wording to the spell appropriately).

Bright Blessings on all the world's lovers.


SPRING EQUINOX 2001

Spring Equinox, or Eostre, is a festival of renewed life. That is why eggs and rabbits (or hares), the symbols of fertility are associated with it. When we give and receive chocolate eggs, at the nearby Christian festival of Easter, we are practicing a custom derived from Paganism. As actual Pagans then, we witches may prefer to give eggs at the Spring Equinox, instead of Easter. But whenever we give them, and whether they are chocolate or carob ones, or real hens’ eggs, the act is a means of blessing a child or friend or partner, because of what eggs mean - continuing life. A simple spell can be cast by laying one hand on the egg and saying:
"May she/he who receives this be blessed with a renewal of strong, active life." Or, if they have just had a bad cold or flu, "renewal of health."
To our ancestors, emerging from a winter of cold and dark and probable food shortages, such a blessing would have felt very important. Nowadays, we may adapt it. We may give an egg to a friend or partner, saying, "May he/she who receives this be blessed with a renewal of creativity", for example.
This is a time of resurrection for the land and all nature. And therefore, on some level, for us all.


Imbolg 2001

One of this festival's main associations is with 'spring cleaning' or purification. And it strikes me that one of the things that still need cleaning up is the self image we witches have. Our idea of who we are. Among all the welter of stereotypes, from bad witches with snakes coming out of their fingers (as in the film "The Craft") to impossibly saccharine well behaved witches who only have to twitch their noses to magically help anyone, it can be extremely hard to hold onto the truth. Which is, that we use our magic to bring healing, but we are free spirits not domesticated do-gooders. Here is a spell for improving self confidence.

Lean over a stream of running water, in the spring sunshine (if there is any) until you can see your reflection. Say "I give to the water my ....." (here list all the doubts and fears you have about yourself, e.g. "fear that I am not authentic/strong enough. This is what I see a person who is ........" (list what you think are your failings as a witch).

Now lean back and say "may the waters of spring cleanse away all these anxieties. May the waters bear them away and dissolve them. May they be gone".

Pause for a while and then say "I am a child of the Powers of Nature. My spirit is of the silver flame of witchdom - like moon reflected within a wild animal's eyes or the light of faery realms on a dark hillside. I can walk in the world as a true medium for magic, healing and ancient wisdom. I am ......." (here list all the things you value about yourself as a witch).

Lean over and look at your reflection again, dip your hand in and anoint your brow with the water. Your self image will be renewed from now on.

This is something we all need from time to time to remind ourselves of our value in our own terms. For witches are neither evil nor meekly self sacrificing. Neither all powerful nor powerless. We have always been here and our role is eternal.

Follow this spell by placing one hand, palm down, upon the earth and pronouncing a blessing upon all the wild places and every wild and free spirit. Happy Imbolg! Let our light shine!


Yule 2000

Hello everybody. Yule draws near. This is a time for celebration, because it brings the birth of new light and hope. Especially this year. This is a year when light can come out of the darkness in a particular manner, within people's hearts. The new light grows and the tide begins to turn, here in Britain, concerning people's feelings for the environment. After the dramatic floods that we've been having recently (thought to be due to climate change) there seems to be a new groundswell of opinion, that something ought to be done about how we live on Earth. So now, this is no longer a belief held by committed Pagans and environmentalists, but becoming a general thing. As yet, it is fragile.
Let us light candles, at Yule, to the spread of this new light, world wide. This illumination in people's minds, everywhere. People are 'seeing the light' at last? Let it be. Let it grow. And let them see that what should be done lies with us all. In all our hands, to an extent, and not just with governments. Vital though the correct government edicts are, they're only going to happen if we all want them to enough, and are prepared to change our own relationship with Mother Earth.

Yule is about giving too. What would I most like to give? Or to receive? What am I being told to give, or to have, by my familiar spirits or by any messenger from the Goddess or God? These are themes for a Yule meditation.
Our familiar spirits (whether we know these consciously or not) might also like to receive your gifts. Something like an incense that strengthens our link with them? The best ones are rowan (dried leaves or berries) for communing with our familiars of every kind, or dried thyme or rosemary, for faery contacts. They might also like to be taken out into the country to a wood or a sacred spring or a beach, where there is plenty of good natural energy that they can feed upon. Anna Franklin, in the excellent book on animal spirits, entitled 'Familiars' comments that our ancestors would put down bowls of milk or gifts of herbs for their animal allies; (the spirits) 'were looked after as assiduously as the family pet'. (Meanwhile, my faery companion is commenting sarcastically, that, for her Yule gift, she would like a little more of my time and attention, please!).


Samhain 2000

Here are some thoughts for the forthcoming festival:
Samhain (October 31st) is the Festival of the Dead. Now we can honour our ancestors and also remember loved ones who have gone to the Summerlands.
Also, we can talk with the with the unborn - children who will become known to us, the future people who will incarnate within our families or with friends.
But there is another aspect to this most potent of festivals. Now the veils between this world and the Otherworld are most thin. The faery hosts ride out, soon, from the hollow hills, in swirls of autumn leaves, on wild winds, under the starlight. To meet with them or their messengers is sombre, exhilarating and healing.
How can such a powerful night as that of Samhain not change us all, somehow? It deepens us, opens us to the spirit realms, reveals our secret intentions to ourselves, shows our dreams. Strips away pretences.
Just merely lighting a candle to the faery hosts can help us to attract their attention, so they may assist us to see beyond illusion - into the psychic and magical dimensions, everywhere.
You can say this, or something like it while lighting the candle:
"I light this candle to the dead and the unborn and also to the wild faery hosts. I bless their work this night in the world - untaming, letting loose, setting free the powers of magic, to the healing of Earth and Her creatures. Restoring Mystery."

 

 


 

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