Book news … new release

Talking to Crows: Messengers of the Gods

By Melusine Draco

‘Talking to crows’ is said of those who have some presentiment or foresight in Sicilian folk-lore. It is believed that to those who can understand them, these black birds, garrulous creatures they are, communicate the latest news on the doings of human beings, since they have a clear view – a bird’s eye view – of the whole. They have also been around for a lot longer than human beings and, perhaps not surprisingly, long ago developed the reputation of being messengers of the gods in many different cultures across the world.

The best way to introduce ourselves to Corvidae is by feeding them. Some may argue that corvids are wild creatures and by feeding them, we encourage an unnatural dependence. With most wildlife, this is an excellent philosophy. But most corvids and humans have been living side-by-side for centuries now, and researchers like Marzluff and Angell (co-authors of In the Company of Crows and Ravens) point to many instances of cultural co-evolution between us. This relationship has been arguably symbiotic for quite a while now. Certainly, after all this time together, our lives and histories have become closely intertwined. They’ve watched people come and go for years; people who may have watched them right back.

Don’t try to get too close. These are wild creatures, after all. Our goal shouldn’t be to tame them or make them into pets. Even after years of friendship, a corvid will be skittish and standoffish, and it’s better this way. They are never going to come running for a fuss, and their standoffish attitude is probably a major reason why they have thrived as a species for so long … but if we’re interested in them, we have to learn to appreciate their charms from afar.

Besides, get real, most humans view crows as ominous, murderous evils (or at best, rats with wings). For centuries, crows have played the bad guys in the stories humans tell themselves, and I’m sure those crows have noticed the eye daggers most people shoot at them, how cars veer to the shoulder to intentionally run them over. Why wouldn’t that distrust be mutual from a creature with this level of intelligence? So crows will take their own sweet time deciding if they trust us or not … but once they know who we are, they’ll never forget. At first, they may give us the cold shoulder and ignore our offerings, but don’t take it personally. Remember that paranoia is all about survival, but patience and vigilance will eventually pay off. If we pass the test, they will decide to trust us. [Joanne Fonté, How To Make Friends With Crows]

We can also see how there are various attributes that are associated with all members of the Corvidae family but that there are also subtle differences between each of the species. All are monogamous and loyal, although some are more aggressive than others; all have a highly developed intelligence while others often display anti-social habits. When we begin ‘talking to crows’ we are entering into a mystical dialogue with Otherworld by being sent spiritual messages showing us a symbolic image of a corvid, either a physical bird or the spiritual image of one in the guise of a totem.

These messages are words of wisdom and advice, and they can help us to identify talents we are not using, or the negative beliefs and thought patterns that are holding us back. Once these messages are understood and applied to our lives, they can be a valuable source of direction as we progress on our spiritual journeys. Birds reflect a strong symbolism. They encourage us to aim high and realize our goals despite the challenges we might face as we chase those dreams. They can also be a motivation to deepen our spirituality even more because they help us explore our devoutness and push the boundaries. Although some may represent good omens, some, unfortunately, do not. Which is why it is important to know which of the species we encountered before we get in a state with worry – we need to be able to interpret our sightings accurately. [Birds: Divine Messengers, Angela Wansbury]

Fossil records suggest that modern birds originated 60 million years ago, after the end of the Cretaceous period about 65 million years ago when dinosaurs died out. And, since prehistoric times, people have probably looked to the heavens for signs; and since birds fly, it makes sense that people would have perceived birds as messengers of divinity. After all, a bird’s-eye-view is significantly more omniscient than any earthbound perspective. Birds know what the world looks like from 30,000 feet high; they have seen the insides of clouds, so looking to birds for perspective makes an odd kind of primitive sense.

And, wouldn’t it be convenient if all we had to do to find answers and guidance in life was to walk outside, look up at the sky, and ‘read’ the birds flying overhead, especially if black meant always bad and light or brightly coloured birds always meant good – but of course, nothing is that simplistic. For example: What does it mean if a crow follows us? It doesn’t necessary mean some highly significant or mystical message. It’s more likely that the crow recognizes us for some friendly reason. If a crow follows us, it feels a connection to and/or curiosity in use for some reason. Maybe we fed that crow once before (or we look like someone who did) … because we’ve learned that corvids have the power of recognition for humans.

Or if a corvid shows no fear of us, it may be something to pay attention to for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the bird is trying to tell us something. Either it is just the bird’s interest in us (maybe we looked familiar – maybe it is hoping for food), or perhaps it represents someone else’s interest in us – a deceased loved one, an ancestor, or just the universe, trying to connect with is for some reason. See the incident outside the bookshop at the end of Chapter 4.

  • There are two kinds of bird signs: impetrative (sought after, asked for, or requested) and oblative (unasked for; coming out of the blue like a bolt of lightning!). So ask yourself: Is the bird bringing us an unasked-for message from the universe? Or is it answering a question we’ve asked – explicitly or implicitly?
  • Seeing a bird is not going to give us a clear answer. It’s no magic 8-ball (a fortune telling gadget shaped like a classic pool eight-ball; filled with water and containing a multi-face dice, with each side featuring the answer to a question – and who thinks those are really magic!?). A bird’s colour doesn’t necessarily make any meaningful difference whatsoever. 
  • And the millions of corvids that exist aren’t on the planet simply for the purpose of providing humans with messages from Otherworld because they have a difficult time as it is merely staying alive! We need to establish an affinity with the birds in our immediate vicinity, because there is little point in claiming a raven or chough as our personal totem when we’ve never encountered one in the flesh. Similarly, I rarely see a carrion crow or jay, but the ‘hoodies’ are regular visitors – as are the magpies and rooks – and I talk to them on a regular basis.
  • And what better way to affirm this affinity than with a tattoo. A bird tattoo meaning is deep, and primarily stands for freedom, independence, and fearlessness. Some people who choose to get a bird symbol inked on their body tells us something that is individually unique to that person, and his or her experiences. They often relate to one of the following:
  • Spirituality, higher understanding or a connection to the being supreme
  • Self-sufficiency, self-actualization or the power of self-direction
  • To enhance perspectives or capabilities, like agility, lightness, buoyancy, and the ability to rise above adversity.

Birds that represent freedom can mean mental autonomy, spiritual self-direction, and independence from the hindrances of physical capabilities or freedom of any other choice.

Let’s be honest … anything can be symbolic if we want it to be and everything in Old Craft is linked in some way to sigils and symbols, allegory and analogy, metonym and metaphor. This is the language of witches.

Members of this large, adaptable family live in habitats ranging from treeless tundras where land is flat to mountain forests. They live in deciduous forests, where trees shed their leaves, and coniferous forests, with cone-bearing evergreen trees. Corvids range in deserts, grassland steppes where there are few trees, and on the edge of rainforests, where heavy rain produces much growth. In addition, they live in cities and small villages. They are always our close companions and who more able to communicate news from Otherworld, should we choose to listen?

Talking to Crows: Messengers of the Gods by Melusine Draco is published by Ignotus Press UK as the second in their Arcanum series : ISBN 978 1 83945 968 9 : 104 pages : Price £6.85  Order direct from https://www.feedaread.com/books/TALKING-TO-CROWS-9781839459689.aspx

Book news

ARCANUM New release

Talking to Crows by Melusine Draco

‘Talking to crows’ is said of those who have some presentiment or foresight in Sicilian folk-lore. It is believed that to those who can understand them, these black birds, garrulous creatures they are, communicate the latest news on the doings of human beings, since they have a clear view – a bird’s eye view – of the whole. They have also been around for a lot longer than human beings and, perhaps not surprisingly, long ago developed the reputation of being messengers of the gods in many different cultures across the world.

Members of this large, adaptable family live in habitats ranging from treeless tundras where land is flat to mountain forests. They live in deciduous forests, where trees shed their leaves, and coniferous forests, with cone-bearing evergreen trees. Corvids range in deserts, grassland steppes where there are few trees, and on the edge of rainforests, where heavy rain produces much growth. In addition, they live in cities and small villages. They are always our close companions and who more able to communicate news from Otherworld, should we choose to listen?

Talking to Crows by Mélusine Draco is the second title published in the ‘Arcanum series’ for Ignotus Books.  Arcanum books will be titles of under 100-pages of practical and/or instructional text on a specific esoteric subject or theme and written by magical practitioners with proven antecedents. Based on the idea of those children’s ‘Ladybird’ books that often introduced us to an interest that lasted a life time and, taking its name from the Coven of the Scales’ foundation course, the aim is to offer further tuition/guidance on specific elements of witch-lore and practice.

Coming in at under 25,000 words, each title will be packed with information and instruction rather than puffed out with superfluous wordage and regurgitated text borrowed from other publications.  The series will be aimed at those who have attained a certain level of magical competence and who don’t need to be spoon-fed basic instructions for Circle-casting with each volume – and are therefore not written with beginners in mind.

Now in production, Talking to Crows will be available direct from the printer at a special price from the last week in June.  Watch this space …

I Wannabe an Author …

by Suzanne Ruthven

Pagan publishing has now spread across the world and there is no shortage of opportunities for writers, whether it be in print or on-line. The pagan voice is ‘heard on every wind’ and there are markets everywhere in the English-speaking world. The online community spreads the word to the furthest reaches of the globe, and book reviews give pagan authors far more coverage than they could have generated in years of traditional marketing.

Generally speaking, today’s paganism falls into four different elements, which in turn separates the different approaches and levels of magical practice, and subsequently, the writing. Each category requires that it should be written for, and read by, followers at that level of ‘learning’ to avoid any misunderstandings. A considerable amount of magical writing can be incomprehensible to those who have not been schooled in that particular path or tradition – so we begin at the beginning and work ourselves up through the spheres of Knowledge, Wisdom and Understanding. And we start by accepting that there is a divide between the various approaches to paganism and magical practice.

Animistic: The belief that everything animate and inanimate has its own life force, such as that which forms the basis of shamanism, Shinto, Aboriginal, Native American, etc.,

Eclectic: Selecting or borrowing from a variety of styles, systems, theories, beliefs, etc., as commonly found in modern paganism and Wicca.

Syncretic: The attempt to reconcile different systems of belief; the fusion or blending of religions, as by identification of gods, taking over of observances, or selection of whatever seems best in each; often producing a seemingly illogical compromise in belief. This approach is found in many aspects of Western Ritual Magic, and the initiatory branches of the European and British esoteric groups.

Synergetic: Combined or co-ordinated action; increased effect of two elements obtained by using them together. The combining of ancient wisdom with modern magical applications, as in the case of the Egyptian Mystery Tradition, Old Craft, the Norse traditions and Druidism.

Regardless of our own personal levels of esoteric learning, we need to go back to the basics of creative writing and see what tricks of the trade we can utilise. We will see why editors and publishers are inundated with submissions of a certain kind – and what we can do to give our writing ‘editor appeal’. We will learn how to develop ideas via lateral thinking, and develop the art of ‘seeing’ through an editor’s eyes, i.e. visualisation.

Back To Basics

How many times do we read (or heed) the advice about hooking an editor’s attention? How many writers fail to appreciate that if the editor (or publisher) isn’t hooked right from the start our submission will be rejected? And it doesn’t matter whether we are talking about non-fiction or fiction, short stories or novels, poetry or prose – it must have something to make the reader want to turn the page. If it fails to entice in the opening sentences, then we will be lucky if the professional reader even bothers to go to the next paragraph.

Exercise: What exactly is a hook?

It is a simple device for introducing our subject with impact, rather than long-winded preamble. That opening line or first paragraph is the most important part of the whole piece. It may be a challenging statement. A question. Brilliant use of language or analogy. Evocative description of a person, place or thing. And it doesn’t matter how brilliant the rest of our work may be – an editor isn’t even going to read it unless we’ve hooked their attention right from the start.

Our first exercise is to study a selection of pagan magazines or blogs. We may already subscribe to one or more; in which case we will be familiar with the differences in house-style. Begin by reading the editorial and any submission guidelines – these are included in the magazine, or found on the website – and make notes about the type of material in each publication. Into which categories do the majority of these subjects fall? Divination … herb craft … Tarot … astrology … healing … crystals … witchcraft … magic?

Which of these are your favourite subjects – and the one you know most about?

Now check the opening lines of each article and see how each writer has introduced their subject. Is it with a bang – or a whimper? Are the title and sub-title eye-catching? Do they make strong, bold statements to introduce the topic, or paint a subtler picture? Is there a clear indication of what the article is about? Make a note of those beginnings you find striking … and those that don’t raise any interest at all. Now try writing a few introductions – one or two sentences – to your favourite subject, before we have a quick look how pagan publishing has evolved

Suzanne Ruthven started her professional writing career in 1987 when she founded the small press writers’ magazine, Quartos, which ran for nine years until its merger with Acclaim in 1996 to become The New Writer.  In addition to acting as judge for national writing competitions, she has also tutored at writers’ workshops including The Annual Writers’ Conference (Winchester College), The Summer School (University of Wales), Horncastle College (Lincolnshire) and the Cheltenham Literature Festival. As a result of a successful series of workshops for The Welsh Academy, she was invited to become a full member of the Academi in recognition of her contribution to literature in Wales.  She is the author of over 50 titles in the metaphysical, country and folklore genre, and ‘ghost written’ 10 books for other writers including an autobiography for one of Britain’s leading field sportsmen, which was nominated for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year in 2005.  She is the author of the occult classic, Whittlewood, and currently of the Vampyre’s Tale series and the Hugo Braithwaite Mysteries.

Death & the Pagan

In the ten years since Death & the Pagan was first published the ‘green’ funeral has become much more common and socially acceptable. Nevertheless, there are still no formal guidelines for those who wish to be buried according to their pagan beliefs, or for those given the task of conducting a sympathetic pagan funeral. To quote Pascal Boyer from Religions Explained: “This way of understanding religious ritual helps us understand, not just why gods are associated with rituals at all, but also what precise role they are supposed to play in these occasions.”

For most pagans, theirs is a benign, benevolent deity who will shortly welcome the deceased into the Summerlands. Their funerals are conducted by a member of the family, a close friend – or a pagan priest brought in to officiate, even though they are not from the deceased’s own Path or Tradition, and may not have been known to the person whose funeral they are conducting. For the Traditionalists, however, things are much more hazardous and most believe that only an Initiate from their own faith can petition deity to accept and guide the spirit of the deceased.

Death & the Pagan, written by traditional British Old Craft witches, Carrie West and Philip Wright, explores the different funerary practices of the various pagan beliefs in a way that will be useful, not only to the pagan community, but also for members of the caring professions and the funeral industry.

Because it is the only book of its kind, we felt that it should not be allowed to remain out of print when so many people could benefit from the advice contained in its pages – hence the Kindle edition is also available. It is just one of those ignotus press books that was a trail-blazer when it was first published and we hope that it will continue to find a useful place in pagan publishing in its original paperback formet

Melusine Draco

Principal of Coven of the Scales

www.covenofthescales.com

Death & the Pagan: Modern Pagan Funeral Practices – Philip Wright & Carrie West ISBN: 9781786970671 : Paperback : Pages 108 : £6.85 To order: https://www.feedaread.com/books/Death-and-the-Pagan-9781786970671.aspx [B/I/A]

A sneak preview ///

Putting Out The Call

This is a sneak preview of The Power of Prayer, which is the Dame’s first foray into the world of publishing in co-authorship with Melusine Draco as part of the new Arcanum series.

‘Putting out the call’ on the astral is something completely different to prayer.  Here we are making a public (astrally-speaking) statement that we are looking for, or are in need of someone or something that cannot be clearly defined in terms of a formal magical rite. We have all sent out a plea on the astral for things; it’s not always a conscious process but every one of us sends a plea out into the void, in one form or another, at some stage in our lives.  What that power is we are supplicating, and how it works is a matter for debate – the gods, the ancestors, the universe, the source, the cosmos – it doesn’t really matter. Asking for something can work, providing we keep one or two simple rules in mind.

Generally, the one putting out the call is, more often than not, an experienced magical practitioner who can usually get on their contacts within seconds and without any prior preparation.  For all its outwards appearances, however, this is not a knee-jerk reaction and the ‘Call’ has probably received a great deal of consideration and/or agonising over before it is put into practice.  Because of the character of the supplicant they have probably decided that the time is right on a subconscious level and that they are willing to accept whatever outcome with good grace.  There is a saying in traditional British Old Craft that the witch has the right to ask but the ‘powers that be’ have the right to refuse.

Nevertheless, there are times when the knee-jerk has all the passion and emotion necessary to fuel the Call … like in the case of a missing dog or child, for example.  Under heightened emotional states, individuals are more inclined to engage in ill-considered or rash actions than at other times. The building panic and imagination working in overdrive, however, can pitch a plea into a full-scale operation that bulldozes its way across the astral, cutting a swathe through physical obstacles, magical protocol and stellar bombardment!   The secret is that this kind of emotion cannot be simulated and so it is pure, unadulterated energy being poured into the Call. 

Putting out the call is simple but not always easy. All we have to do is ask for what we want and accept there is always a catch and/or a price.  For example, the energy we put into asking affects what may ultimately manifest, because if we call for things in a desperate, needy, or doubtful way, we can actually attract more despair, need and doubt. In addition, if we are too vague about what we desire, we can end up acquiring the wrong things, or nothing at all. This is why it is important to be very clear about both the condition our energy is in, and the seriousness of our intentions before we attempt to put out the Call.  It never ceases to amaze us, just how many ‘impure conduits’ there are who fail to realize that the main reason for their magical/personal failures are often due to these impurities.

True, this type of working could defy most senses of magical logic, if only because there are only certain exceptions when it comes to the question of practice or ritual.  As Carl Jung pointed out, ‘a great many ritualistic performances are carried out for the sole purpose of producing at will the effect of the ‘numinosum’  – a dynamic existence  – by certain devices of a magic nature, such as invocation, incantation, sacrifice, meditation and other self-inflicted tortures of various descriptions’.  We all are so used to the implications of cause and effect within magical practice that to activate a working without due attention to the focus we have for powering it, would seem impractical or pointless; since every magical action we take, whether taken consciously or subconsciously, has consequences that will deliver specific reactions in our lives.

Part of that ‘cause and effect’ is to make sure our energy channels are pure and uncontaminated. This can be one of the trickiest aspects of realizing success for many people. When we ask from a place of fear or need, we are not sending out the right energy signals on the astral because our channels are contaminated by fear and/or need.  The principle behind the Call is that like attracts like, and if we send out fearful or needy energy, we will actually attract things that will make us more fearful or needy. When we call with doubt in our heart, or think that we do not deserve what we are asking for, we will attract back proof of these beliefs. This is why energy cleansing is the first step in putting out the call and, if our channels are clear, then there is nothing to stand in the way of the cause or the effect.

Cleansing

Once we are clear about what we want, it is time to ask for those desires. It may help to take some time for deep breathing exercises or meditation before we begin because it is essential to be feeling as relaxed and positive as we can so that our energy is good. We can create a mini-ritual around the asking if that makes us feel more connected, perhaps lighting a candle, or going to a beautiful place in Nature where we feel connected to natural and universal energy. Then, simply put out the call for what we desire. The spoken word is very powerful, so it is important that we ask for what we want out loud whenever possible.

It is important to understand that exhaling stimulates our response, so a breathing routine with longer exhales than inhales will be more effective at lowering emotional tension. Routines, in which the exhale is the same length as the inhale while focusing on your anxious thoughts, are usually less effective at lowering the effects of anxiety, although, this is a good form of being mindful about learning how to become more relaxed.

For simple meditation, we sit or lie comfortably and close our eyes … making no effort to control our breath, we simply breathe naturally. Focusing our attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation, we can feel the tension begin to evaporate.  It may help us relax if we play our favourite sounds of Nature, or soothing classical music and focusing on the rhythms and the tranquility of the sound.  

The uncomplicated ‘Rainbow Chakra’ exercise has absolutely nothing to do with traditional British Old Craft but it calms the mind, and can act as a quick pick-me-up.   We make ourselves comfortable on the floor or on the bed, and try to keep our mind completely blank for two minutes.  Closing our eyes and visualising a blank area in front of us, pushing thoughts away as they intrude into the darkness; we begin by identifying each of the natural energy points of our body with a colour of the rainbow:

  • Genitals – red
  • Navel – orange
  • Solar plexus – yellow
  • Heart – green
  • Throat – light blue
  • Forehead – dark blue
  • Crown of the head – amethyst

Visualise a warm red light rising slowly from the genitals, changing to orange as it reaches the navel, through yellow, green, light blue, dark blue, continuing up until the top of the head is bathed in a warm amethyst glow.  During the first attempts we will reach the crown very quickly but, as the concentration develops, the light will take longer between the changes of colour as it moves up the body.  More effective than 40-winks or a cat-nap, this exercise can be used as a pick-me-up at any time, whenever stress or tiredness creeps in.   Or, it can be used before attempting any form of impromptu magical working, as a fire-break between the mundane and the magical world.  Time: 15-30 minutes.

Similarly, the ‘Lucid Dreaming’ exercise is a half-waking, half-dream state, where the witch is fully conscious and aware of their surroundings, but still able to receive images or impressions

from the astral.  The astral image is often super-imposed over the immediate surroundings like a double-exposure on a photograph.

For the best effect, we sit in a comfortable chair in a patch of sunlight, with a lighted candle

burning in front of us.  Stare at the candle flame, which will be almost invisible in the sunshine streaming in through the window.   We don’t allow ourselves to fall asleep but at the same time we allow our mind to drift, and be open to receive any of the impressions that float into our consciousness.   The result is extremely relaxing but also useful for divination.  We may feel as though hours have passed but when we look at the clock, the hands may have only advanced a few minutes.

  • The advantage of these exercises is that we can have someone burst in on us, and all they will see is someone taking a nap!   Because none require any deep form of meditation, it is not dangerous if we are awakened suddenly.

Before we can attract what we desire, however, we have to break down those blockages that stand in our way. One of the main traps that people fall into when putting out the call for something is that we are not 100% sure what we want and why. We say things like ‘I want this …’ or ‘I want that …’, but until we flesh out those ideas, they are not going out as actual requests.  We can also feel like ‘they’ are hostile or indifferent to us, and when we have tried to ask and failed, it is easy to believe that the ‘powers that be’ don’t care about us.  However, the astral is simply responding to the energy waves it receives.  The problem with asking generic questions is that we won’t know what the answer looks like. Until we can say, with some degree of certainty, what we actually want, how can we possibly know whether or not we’ve receive it?

We should let our feelings guide us in deciding what exactly it is we want, but if we don’t get a powerful desire erupting within us when we visualize our request, then maybe it’s not the right request to make.  For example:

‘From a large pack of dogs I was down to the last three and for one old lady it was now a matter of weeks rather than months.  I needed to start looking for another dog – a greyhound or a whippet – but there were lots of mixed feelings as to the inappropriateness of the action and how the remaining dogs would react to the newcomer.  One moonless night, with the Dog Star to the south, I went outside and put out a verbal call for an old greyhound brood bitch who needed a home … and as I stood there I had a simultaneous vision of a friend’s blue dog van pulling up at the closed gate and her getting out leading a white greyhound with red markings.

     It was not a good time for us.  My old greyhound was getting older and my little mongrel contracted pneumonia and unexpectedly died.  I contacted my friendly dog-van owner and found that Poppy – a white and red greyhound – had been rushed into the animal sanctuary for an emergency c-section. It was arranged that when the puppies were weaned she would come to me.  All seven puppies were adopted and the day the last one left, Poppy came home in my friend’s blue van because lockdown had forced me to remain locked-down. 

     Poppy is a beautiful, elegant little lady who is a greyhound/fox terrier cross – the original breed-mix of the whippet – and an undoubted gift from the gods, who has helped me through a very difficult, lonely time.  And she came in answer to my Call.’

‘Ask the Universe’ is becoming quite a popular ‘in-thing’ on-line but although many of the techniques are similar to those we use within Craft when ‘calling’, I’ve looked long and hard but there appears to be no substance behind the shadows.  Google ‘ask the universe’ and there are some 244,000 results, with most of them telling us that there is a way out of our misery just for the asking. These sites have been written by experts in order to create hope without making any pledge; they foster certainty with never a binding promise.  They pledge calm and tranquility in exchange for an act of faith … but in what?

Neither is there any special formula for asking the Universe for help or guidance. Apparently, you can say something as simple as: ‘Universe, give me a clear sign about what action I should take.’… or … ‘Universe, help me to know if I should really take this action or not.’ Even: ‘Universe help me to clearly know if this action is something you want me to do.’ Do people believe that requests to the universe for help in solving problems and couched in this vein, really work?  Possibly, if they have a leaning towards a concept that the Universe is partly within our subconscious minds – the collective unconsciousness of Jungian psychology.  In other words, we can ask for help and our subconscious will attempt to provide the answers, but it might not have them straight away. Being patient is important …

Gregg Levoy writing for Psychology Today asks an extremely pertinent question: how likely are you to allow yourself a trust-fall into the arms of the Universe.

‘If you say you trust the universe, it would undoubtedly help, for starters, to clarify what aspect of the universe it is that you trust? Do you trust its benevolence, the feeling that you’re somehow looked after? Or trust that it’s filled with endless possibilities? Or is it your own resilience you trust, faith in your ability to choose how you’re going to respond to whatever the universe hands you – which is probably the only kind of trust that everyone is capable of. 

     The definition of trusting something is believing in its reliability, so there’s a catch here: The universe is certainly reliable (sun comes up, sun goes down, gravity works, etc.). But the universe is also reliably unpredictable (chaos theory, Murphy’s law, entropy, the famous shit that happens). So saying that you trust the universe means trusting it to be itself, which includes chaos and randomness, forces which clearly operate on affairs down here on the home planet, and in your own individual life.’

Belief, of course, is a very personal thing and this kind of ‘blind faith’ thinking will challenge any form of belief.  As Jung pointed out, religious belief as an external and objective divine cause always precedes any performance of prayer.  Those of a witchcraft persuasion understand that although we have a faith/belief in what we are it is not of the blinkered variety and, we need to know what it is we’re putting our faith in!  Therefore, to throw a spoken aloud request into the air – so to speak – goes against the grain and we want to know how it works?

So … after the cleansing of the astral/psychic channels, the main problem with any attempt to put out the call is that lack of clarity about what it is that we want. We may actually have only a vague idea of what we want, or we may have had conflicting thoughts.  Once we’ve asked for something, however, we need to relax and put it out of our mind, because there’s no point in dwelling on it.  Change rarely happens in an instant; it is typically a gradual process that has to follow its own path. Depending on what ‘ask’ we have made, the end result we have in mind might take days, or months … or it might even take years to reach.

Once we have asked for what we want, it is time to let go of our desire and let the astral energies get on with their own system of working.  We need to stop fretting and worrying about the situation because this could impede the manifestation process.  Remember that we must be open to new opportunities that come our way and that sometimes things will manifest in a slightly different way than what we expected. When the response comes, it will not always be obvious. We have to keep our eyes peeled for little signs here and there that guide us to where we want to be.  For example:

‘Books on witchcraft are awash with money-spells but in Old Craft it’s considered a bit of a no-no to ask for cash.  Nevertheless, there comes a time in everyone’s life where the lack of money is causing a serious problem and it’s accepted that even in times of dire hardship, a witch will only ever receive enough to keep the wolf from the door.  So save the breath in asking for Lottery numbers!

I remember a time when being strapped for cash was causing untold misery and thought it necessary to put out a call for some help in paying the electricity bill before things had a chance to get worse.  It was an ask for a specific amount – no more, no less.  The response came quickly but not in a way that I could have envisioned – via junk mail!  This normally goes in the bin unopened and unread, but that particular day it was a solitary envelope from one of those ‘gold for cash’ companies who were touting for unwanted and/or broken jewellery.

Needs must when the devil drives and I sorted out several pieces that were beyond repair, thinking there might be enough to cover the electricity bill.  Within days I received an offer on what I’d sent them and it came to over £1000, well in excess of what I’d asked for.  My reasoning for this extra largess was that I had been given what was, in effect, my own property since I owned the jewellery; I’d just been pointed in the right direction for turning dross into cash but without that garish envelope dropping through the door, I’d have never thought about selling broken bits of gold jewellery.’

Be prepared … the signs can come in many different forms, but they will be ones that we are able to spot if we look hard enough.  We should also be mindful of any thoughts or memories that appear randomly when we least expect them – because these can also be important signs that we need to look at more closely.  A crucial step that is often overlooked by people is trusting the ‘powers that be’ to do right by us, even if it doesn’t seem that way on the surface.

Traditionally, ‘putting out the call’ was for a teacher or mentor when a student felt they had reached a fork in the road, or that the way was blocked for a variety of reasons. This situation was discussed in an interesting article in Psychology Today by martial arts practitioner, E. Paul Zehr: and we often find reflecting parallels in magical and martial arts instruction of when the student is ready the teacher will appear …

‘Both the origin and context of this quote are somewhat obscure and open to both interpretation and nuance that change over time. When I first heard this quote decades ago, I took it quite literally. I thought of it along the lines of, ‘When you get to a certain level of skill, you need to find the right teacher’.  It’s interesting how we can be presented repeatedly with the same technical content, but fail to grasp many aspects until some later date. It’s all a matter of where we are at any given time and what we are open to accepting or understanding. 

     “I have seen my teacher do the same sequences of movements hundreds and thousands of times over the years. Yet, every so often I will catch something ‘new’ – or that appears new or different to me – in his performance. Many times when I’ve experienced this my default reaction was: ‘Interesting. I wonder why he changed that?’ Over time I’ve realized that, while there are legitimate tweaks and changes that my teacher may decide to make to technical performance within the martial arts system he heads, mostly it’s down to me for not seeing clearly in the first place.

     Or that at different times, my focus and appreciation were on different aspects of the technique. The ‘changes’ that I see typically reflect the small discrepancies between what I am and ought to be doing.  In these instances, I, the student, was ready for the appearance of my teacher. It just turns out that I was finally seeing something clearly for the first time, despite that it has always been there. Instead of being discouraging, I find this liberating and invigorating. How many other aspects of my life can I take this spirit of newfound vision to?”

Again, we have to remember that a teacher can light the way and, ease the way – in other words, facilitate learning – but the learner has to walk the path.  So, although we may put out the call because we may feel we are being held back, or our present teacher isn’t right for us, we may need to stop and reflect where the problem actually lies.  We may be reluctant to leave our present tutor out of a sense of loyalty but need guidance on how to handle this delicate situation.

This kind of ‘non-active’ response is still a result.  Simply because a visual sign that gets us thinking about other things in a different light, is still a positive result. The association of ideas is a process by which representations arise in consciousness, and also for a principle put forward by an important historical school of thinkers to account generally for the succession of mental phenomena whereby one idea was thought to follow another in the consciousness as if it were associated by some connected principle. The term is now used mostly in the history of philosophy and of psychology but it does still occur quite naturally in the magical world.

When we are given the things we’ve asked for, we should be thankful for them and show our gratitude in our actions. This creates a spiral of appreciation, gratitude, and positivity that will help us to manifest bigger and better things. Gratitude is actually the beginning and end of the manifestation process and in order to be in alignment with universal energy, it is important that we focus on all that we have to be thankful for. This will lift our energy and help us to manifest good things.

We also need to be aware that those things that are ‘god-given’ can just as easily be taken away again and so a show of gratitude is merely completing the circle.  Our thanks can be shown by a quite moment of thanks, or the donation (sacrifice) to an appropriate charity but without making a great deal of fuss. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible.  In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

Putting out the call is, therefore, neither prayer nor magical application but rather a spontaneous cry from the heart.  A sort of ‘Hey guys, I need some help with this!’ and is probably the most informal application of serious magical practice.  Is it likely to work for someone with no magical ability?  Doubtful … of those 244,000 results on Google, none claim to have had any magical training, or any connection to a magical path or tradition but a larger number were endorsing the practice of asking the Universe if only for the feel-good factor.

The Power of Prayer is co-authored by Julie Dexter and Melusine Draco.  Published by Ignotus Press UK as part of the new Arcanum series, it should be available towards the end of 2021.

ARCANUM – new release

Sacrifice to the Gods by offering, oblation and libation by Melusine Draco

This is the first title published in the ‘Arcanum series’ for Ignotus Books.   Arcanum books will be titles of under 100-pages of practical and/or instructional text on a specific esoteric subject or theme and written by magical practitioners with proven antecedents. Based on the idea of those children’s ‘Ladybird’ books that often introduced us to an interest that lasted a life time and, taking its name from the Coven of the Scales’ foundation course, the aim is to offer further tuition/guidance on specific elements of witch-lore and practice. 

Coming in at under 25,000 words, each title will be packed with information and instruction rather than puffed out with superfluous wordage and regurgitated text borrowed from other publications.  The series will be aimed at those who have attained a certain level of magical competence and who don’t need to be spoon-fed basic instructions for Circle-casting with each volume – and are therefore not written with beginners in mind. 

Sacrifice, like death, is one of the great taboos of modern society. The notion that human sacrifice could be considered a most holy act is almost inconceivable.  Yet the evidence for human sacrifice in north-west Europe, derived from both archaeology and the testimony of Classical writers of the first centuries BC/CE, has to be confronted.  The term ‘sacrifice’ has become so firmly engrained in the human psyche – or racial subconscious – that even in this modern day and age, it automatically conjures up images of bloodshed regardless of context. 

In media-speak, any reference to ‘sacrifice’ in connection with pagan rites and practices is almost immediately and erroneously conveyed as involving animals, babies or virgins!  In other words, media reporting provides the narrative that forms the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it is supposed to be fully understood – even if it is misleading and inaccurate. To the detractors of pagan beliefs, however, the term ‘sacrifice’ usually refers to killing animals or harming humans – because they fail to understand that in a pagan sense, what is always offered in sacrifice is, in one form or another, life itself, a a means of preserving the Sacred Order.

Sacrifice is a celebration of life, an acceptance of its divine and imperishable nature. In the act of sacrifice the consecrated ‘life’ of an offering is released as a sacred link that establishes a bond between the sacrificer and the divine power. Through sacrifice, energy is returned to its divine source, regenerating the power or strength of that source; life is fed by life. Hence the words of the ancient Roman sacrificer to his god: ‘Be thou increased (macte) by this offering’.  Needless to say, it is an increase in this divine power that is ultimately beneficial to the sacrificer because sacrifice is the merging and guarantee of the reciprocal flow of the divine life-force between its source and its embodiment.

Often the act of sacrifice involves the destruction of the offering, but this destruction is not in itself the sacrifice. The destruction (or consumption) of a food-drink offering at an altar’s fire is the means by which the deity receives the offering.  Thereby, a sacrifice is the total act of offering and not merely the method in which the rite is performed. 

So, sacrifice as a sacramental communal meal may involve the idea of the god as a participant in the feast, or being identified with the food consumed; it may also involve the idea of a ritual meal, at which either some agrarian event such as the springtime (Beltaine) and the harvest (Lughnasad) is repeated, or the sacred rites of the seasons are symbolically renewed – the Summer and Winter Solstices.  Although the fundamental meaning of these sacrificial rites is that of affirming a bounteous and fruitful relationship with the sacred power and of establishing humankind in the Sacred Order, the rites have in more modern times assumed a multitude of different forms and intentions.

Sacrifice to the Gods looks at the latest archaeological findings from the Ancient World to see how these offerings can be interpreted for modern pagan use, so that we can fully understand what is permissible and what was forbidden in times past, so that our sacrifice is acceptable to our gods, regardless of the Path or Tradition we follow.

Sacrifice to the Gods by offering, oblation and libation by Melusine Draco is published by Ignotus Books ISBN 9781839457012 : Paperback : Pages: 102 :  £6.85 : Published13 January 2021. Available from the printer at a special discounted price from https://www.feedaread.com/search/books.aspx?keywords=Sacrifice%20to%20the%20Gods

E-book format will be available from Kindle shortly

CALENDARS FOR THE NEW YEAR

A calendar is convenient for regulating civil life and religious observances and for historical and scientific purposes. The word is derived from the Latin calendarium, meaning “interest register” or “account book,” itself a derivation from calendae (or kalendae), the first day of the month in the  Roman republican calendar, the day on which future market days, feasts, and other occasions were proclaimed.

The development of a calendar is vital for the study of chronology, since this is concerned with reckoning time by regular divisions, or periods, and using these to date events. It is essential, too, for any civilization that needs to measure periods for agricultural, business, domestic, or other reasons. The first practical calendar to evolve from these requirements was the Egyptian, and it was this that the Romans developed into the Julian calendar that served western Europe for more than 1,500 years. The Gregorian calendar was a further improvement and has been almost universally adopted because it satisfactorily draws into one system the dating of religious festivals based on the phases of the Moon and seasonal activities determined by the movement of the Sun.  Such a calendar system is complex, since the periods of the Moon’s phases and the Sun’s motion are incompatible; but by adopting regular cycles of days and comparatively simple rules for their application, the calendar provides a year with an error of less than half a minute.

The basic unit of computation in a calendar is the day. Although days are now measured from midnight to midnight, this has not always been so. Astronomers, for instance, from about the 2nd century CE until 1925, counted days from noon to noon. In earlier civilizations and among primitive peoples, where there was less communication between different settlements or groups, different methods of reckoning the day presented no difficulties. Most primitive tribes used a dawn-to-dawn reckoning, calling a succession of days so many dawns, or suns. Later the Babylonians, Jews, and Greeks counted a day from sunset to sunset, whereas the day was said to begin at dawn for the Hindus and Egyptians and at midnight for the Romans. The Teutons counted nights, and from them the grouping of 14 days called a fortnight is derived. [Britannica]

Between 6-11th December the three calendars will be available in e-book format from Kindle for UK£0.99/US$0.95 as a special offer.  Otherwise, they are available in paperback direct from the printer at a special discounted price …

Old Year, Old Calendar, Old Ways – Melusine Draco ISBN: 9781788762052 : Paperback : Pages 210 : £8.95. To order: https://www.feedaread.com/books/Old-Year-Old-Calendar-Old-Ways-9781788762052.aspx

The Roman Book of Days: The Calendar of Ancient Rome – Pauline Erina ISBN: 9781786971517 : Paperback : Pages 144 : £6.85 To order: https://www.feedaread.com/books/The-Roman-Book-of-Days-9781786971517.aspx

The Calendar of Ancient Egypt: Melusine Draco (revised and expanded edition) ISBN: 9781788765831 : Paperback :Pages 202 : £7.95 To order: https://www.feedaread.com/books/The-Calendar-of-Ancient-Egypt-9781788765831.aspx

New release …

Screenplay: A Hugo Braithwaite Mystery – Book 5

By Suzanne Ruthven

Death … thought Hugo Braithwaite reflectively … all items in the antiques and fine art world have entered the trade via death. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the contents of a humble cottage, a grand house sale, the dispersal of a collector’s jealously hoarded treasures, or – as in this case – the personal effects of a family member or famous personality.

Naomi Jessop was still a handsome woman in her late seventies who had been Margaret Gilbert’s ‘companion, dresser and general factotem’, as she described herself when she’d walked into Hugo Braithwaite: Fine Art Gallery the week before. She needed his help, it transpired, to dispose of the late star’s possessions and had been recommended by Adele Simmonds, Hugo’s own octogenarian chum, who vouched for him as a gentleman and the soul of discretion when dealing with private affairs …

… but as always, there was an element of darkness surrounding the late Margaret Gilbert affair, which began to manifest in an underlying current of violence and skullduggery once the discovery of her indiscreet autobiography threatened to ruffle more than a few feathers of the living.

ISBN: 9781839455803 : Type: Paperback : Pages: 198

Published: 20 November 2020

https://www.feedaread.com/books/Screenplay.aspx

ARCANUM BOOKS series @ IGNOTUS BOOKS UK

Arcanum books will be titles of under 100-pages of practical and/or instructional text on a specific esoteric subject or theme and written by magical practitioners with proven antecedents.  The idea came from those ‘Ladybird’ books we had as kids that were often responsible for triggering and interest in all manner of subjects in later life. Taking its name from the Coven of the Scales’ foundation course, the aim is to offer further tuition/guidance on specific elements of witch-lore and practice. Coming in at under 25,000 words, each title will be packed with information and instruction rather than puffed out with superfluous wordage and regurgitated text borrowed from other publications.

The first five books in the series are now ‘works in progress’ and Offering to the Gods should be available early in the New Year.  Each title devotes itself to a particular Craft method or technique that the witch feels they wish to explore in more depth as part of their on-going studies.  In order of publication, the first five titles are:

  1. Offerings to the Gods
  2. Talking to Crows
  3. Hagstones
  4. Gateways to Otherworld
  5. The Magic of Quartz

Book news …

Finally, the long-awaited Round About the Cauldron Go … is almost ready to go to print as a limited edition.  Written by Philip Wright and Carrie West, with lots of input from the Elders of CoS, the book is aimed at those who have completed the Arcanum foundation course, and have asked for ideas as to how they should celebrate the Sabbats throughout the year. Round About the Cauldron Go … shows them exactly that. All of the workings apply whether the Coven as a whole is undertaking them or the witch as a solitary practitioner. They are easy to adapt for those working alone and will ensure that there is a consistency of approach across the entire Coven.

Since these workings are ONLY for use by Coven of the Scales, this book is being made available as a limited edition to those Coven members who have shown a genuine aptitude for Old Craft and have also shown an active progression with Craft itself.  This is the Grimoire of Coven of the Scales, setting down our practices for the benefit of those needing to know them now and in the future.  Its contents must not be divulged to others under any circumstances and any member found to have shared its contents may face banishment from the Coven!

Other titles by Carrie and Philip are:

Coven Working: How to Set Up or Join a Working Coven – Philip Wright & Carrie WestISBN: 9781786971234 : Paperback : Pages 128 : £6.85To order: https://www.feedaread.com/books/Coven-Working-9781786971234.aspx

Death & the Pagan: Modern Pagan Funeral Practices – Philip Wright & Carrie WestISBN: 9781786970671 : Paperback : Pages 108 : £6.85To order: https://www.feedaread.com/books/Death-and-the-Pagan-9781786970671.aspx

Both are available from Kindle on e-book at a special price of UK£0.99/US$0.95 between 12-19th October.