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Friday, 17 December 2010

The Lowestoft Witches

In 1662 Bury St. Edmunds became another backdrop to the Witch Trials that were sweeping Europe. However, this story does not start in Bury St. Edmunds, it starts in Lowestoft, a thriving fishing town on the east coast of England. It was also the home of Amy Denny and Rose Cullender, know today as ‘The Lowestoft Witches’.

Amy Denny was first accused by Samuel Pacy, who claimed she had cursed his daughters after a dispute about buying fish. It began with his daughter Deborah being seized by fits for a number of weeks. Samuel sought medical help from his neighbour, Dr Feavor, he said that he could find no natural causes for her illness. Not long after this Samuel’s other daughter Elizabeth also became similarly afflicted.

Upon the evidence being formally presented Amy Denny was thrown into stocks, but the Pacy sister's torment did not end there.

Rose Cullender had been the subject of local rumours for a while, with lots of locals believing she was a witch. She soon became implicated along with Amy. Both Deborah and Elizabeth claimed that they had been seen visions of the women whilst suffering fits, seizures and loss of senses. Samuel had the girls move to their aunt’s house, hoping the extra distance would weaken the affects. It did not. Whilst there the symptoms continued, including vomiting pins and on occasion nails. Elizabeth gave an account of how the specter of Amy Denny visited her and implored her to drown herself.

The Pacy’s neighbours soon started alleging that similar fates had befallen their children following a dispute with Rose, and the case against the two women grew. After days of witness accounts and experiments being conducted on both the women and their victims, a jury took half an hour to find them both guilty. They were hanged the next day.

This trial played and important role in the history of the persecution of witches for a couple of reasons. The first of which being the publication of ‘A Tryal of Witches, at the Assizes held at Bury St. Edmonds for the County of Suffolk; on the Tenth day of March 1664’. Despite it’s rather inaccurate title - (the trial took actually took place in 1662) - this makes this trial one of the best documented on record.

This leads to the second reason why this case was so important. ‘A Tryal of Witches, at the Assizes…’, was later used as a reference for specter manipulation during the famed Salem Witch Trials.

Full Nets

A powerful, successful senior business manager went on holiday to a beautiful island. It was off the tourist trail and had fantastic scenery. One evening he left his wife at the villa they were renting and went down to the beach. As he walked along he met a fisherman, he was pulling a huge haul of fish out of his small boat.

“Wow, that’s a lot of fish… do you always catch so many?”

The fisherman smiles and replies “Yes, everyday I go out in my boat for a couple of hours and return with my nets full”

The business man looks surprised. “2-3 hours, is that all” The fisherman looks puzzled. “I wake up and have a long morning in bed and then having breakfast with my loving wife. Then, I meet my friends, talk, catch-up. Then I come to my boat, spend a few hours catching fish. After I finish I hurry home to spend time with my beautiful children.”

“Yes” says the businessman, “but if you made the time for 2 trips on the boat everyday, you would double your earnings”

“Then what?” asks the fisherman

“Well then you could save for a few months and invest the money in a second boat. Even after you pay someone else to fish on it, you would see a big profit.” reply’s the businessman.

“Then what?” asks the fisherman.

“Well if you work hard, bring in management staff as well, you could reinvest the increased profits and in 10 years you could have a whole fleet of boats and dozens of staff.” said the businessman.

“And then what?” asks the fisherman.

“Then you make the company as commercial as possible. Build up a good industry reputation, sell the company, and retire a rich man.” said the businessman, smiling at his own advice.

“And then what?” asked the fisherman.

The businessman thought for a few moments before answering “Well then you could wake up and have a long morning in bed and then having breakfast with your loving wife. Then, meet your friends, talk, catch-up. Spend a few hours fishing. Then, spend time with your beautiful children and grandchildren.”

Sunday, 12 December 2010

The St. Osyth Witches

During the late 16th and 17th century Essex felt the force of the witch trials that were sweeping Europe more than most places. In total the county saw well over 700 people accused of either being witches, or associates of witches. This was largely due to it being the main stomping ground of Matthew Hopkins, aka Witchfinder General. One of these trials was that of the St Osyth Witches.

In 1582 fourteen people were put on trial for witchcraft, the best documented of all the charges are the ones made against Ursula Kemp. Ursula was a local midwife and nursemaid. She was first accused of witchcraft by Grace Thurlow, who had once been a friend and neighbour of Ursula’s.

Grace claims that Ursula came to her aid when her son became seriously ill, casting spells to cure him. Grace also turned to Ursula a few months later when she became ill herself, following the untimely death of her baby daughter. Ursula agreed to cure Grace’s condition as long as she paid her. However, some time after Grace then refused to pay Ursula claiming she could not afford it. After this disagreement Grace’s condition worsened dramatically, leading to Ursula being accused of cursing her.

During Ursula’s trial, her own son was called as a witness against her. Thomas Kemp gave an account as how his mother kept four familiars, two cats, a lamb and a toad, that she fed on her own blood. Later in the trial Ursula herself pointed the finger of accusation at others. She named Elizabeth Bennet, Alice Hunt, Alice Newman and Margery Sammon as witches. Not only did these women confess to witchcraft but made accusations of their own. Agnes Glascock, Cicely Celles, Joan Turner, Joan Pechey, Elizabeth Ewstace, Anis Herd, Alice Manfield, Margaret Grevell and Anne Swallow were all subsequently named as witches. Most of the women were either fond not guilty, or found guilty of lesser charges and sent to prison, only Ursula Kemp and Elizabeth Bennet were sentenced to death and hanged.

This however is not the last we hear of these women, over 300 years later, in the mid 1900’s this tale takes a slightly grizzly turn. In St Osyth two female skeletons were discovered by accident, buried on unconsecrated ground with metal spikes through them. Pinning witches into their coffins was a technique employed during the witch trials to stop their corpses rising from the dead and seeking revenge. It was widely believed that these were the remains of Ursula and Elizabeth. The one believed to be Ursula went on to be displayed in an open coffin as a tourist attraction, before becoming part of the private collection of Robert Lenkiewicz.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Witch of Youghal

The 'Witch of Youghal', was a woman by the name of Florence Newton. She found herself on trial at Cork Assizes on the 11th September 1661, where she stood accused of bewitching a young servant girl, and later of using witchcraft to kill a man.
The case stands out as there were very few witch trials in Ireland. In fact, up until this trial there had not been one recorded in Ireland for 83 years, the previous one being in Kilkenny in 1578.

The first accusation came from Mary Longdon, who worked as a servant for John Pyne. Mary said that Florence had called at John's house near Christmas 1660 begging for food. When she was turned away she threw curses at him. Later on Mary met Florence on the street outside where she kissed her. From that moment on Mary was plagued by sickness and fits. Mary said that whilst she was having fits she would go into a trance and see Florence's face. She also claimed that she would vomit things such as wool, straw, pins and nails. Mary also claims to have been haunted by a poltergeist following that ill fated meeting with Florence. John Pyne was called as a witness at the trial. He confirmed that on numerous occasions he had seen small stones hurled at Mary, seemingly out of nowhere.

Florence was also accused of using witchcraft to cause the death of David Jones. His widow said that Florence had met David in prison and kissed his hand. After that David became incredibly ill, dying shortly after screaming Florence's name on his deathbed.

Florence's trial ended in dramatic fashion. According to accounts as recorded by Joseph Glanvill, and later quoted by John Seymour in 'Irish Witchcraft and Demonlogy'. Whilst Mary Longdon was there to testify Florence raised up her manacled hands, looked at Mary at shouted “Now she is down”. At this point Mary collapsed shrieking, shaking and began biting herself.

However, the tale of The Witch of Youghal ends as somewhat of a mystery. Due to missing court records, no one knows what verdict was recorded. After her courtroom attack on Mary Longdon, most people have drawn the conclusion that she was found guilty and subsequently executed. But maybe, just maybe, the court records suddenly cut off for a reason. Could Florence have used her powers to bewitch herself free and live to curse another day? That, I'm afraid, is a question you will have to answer for yourself.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Life Sucks... I think...

Ok it's been a while since I posted anything other than articles, that said not a huge amount has happened. Everything's still going really well. I work for myself, I live by myself - (well apart from the kids), I don't have any major outside factors affecting my life, I rent so I have no major financial ties, and I can run my business from pretty much anywhere. I appreciate I'm in a very privileged position, one a lot of people with 9-5's, and the normal ties would envy. But... there's just this one little sods-law element to it all. It's only now that I can do anything I want... I suddenly realise:

I have NO IDEA what I want!

But here's the thing. Now I get to thinking about it, I'm not sure I ever have. In fact I think there's very few people that actually know what they want. We all fall into the same trap, we all know what we don't want, so we focus on getting away from those things. I've never thought of myself as a negative person, but it occurs to me this is exactly what I've been doing:

I didn't want to stay in a crappy marriage, I got divorced.
I didn't want to live in the city, I moved to the country(ish).
I didn't want a 9-5, I started working for myself.

And so it went on... but I've ran out of stuff I don't like. This should be great, I should be having some sort of party... but I'm not.

This got me thinking, wondering if everyone else is doing the same thing. I mean when was the last time you looked in the mirror and actually asked yourself what you want out of live. How many people just go through time reacting to circumstances based on what they don't want, and assume that what's left must be what they do want.

A here's the really scary part, what if there's stuff that over the years, for the sake of self preservation you've never even contemplated wanting. Stuff that you haven't allowed yourself to see as a possibility. Stuff you've even actively distanced yourself from, as an act of preserving a sense of acceptance of the life you find yourself in. Stuff that actually when you come to having that conversation with yourself in the mirror it turns out you really do want.

Do you:
a) think "you know what I've cut all the crap out of my life already, a lot of people don't get that, and when they do it's often later in life. I should give myself a slap, be damn thankful for it and stop looking for problems where there are none."
b) Have that difficult conversation with yourself and contemplate having to face up to the fact you may have been subconsciously lying to yourself. Go looking for what will make you happy but face the distinct possibility of finding a whole load more crap you'll have to cut out all over again.

Answers on a postcard guys... (or just comment...)

Friday, 3 December 2010

Witchcraft in Wales

Wales has a historical reputation for being a land of magic, myth and folklore. It is steeped in Arthurian legend, and it is well known that the building blocks of Stonehenge originated here.
It is little wonder then that Wales does not share the same history as most of Europe when it comes to the persecution of witchcraft. However, that does not mean there is no trace of it at all.

One of the first cases on record was that of Tangwlyst ferch Glyn. The Bishop of St David made the mistake of crossing her when he accused her of “living in sin”. Tangwlyst promptly responded by making a poppet doll of him, in order to curse him. The Bishop was swiftly overcome by a sudden illness. The case against Tangwlyst fell apart due to lack of proof. She was fortunate that this took place before the 1563 statute making witchcraft a capital offence was passed, otherwise she may not have been so lucky.

One of the first, and most well known witch trials in Welsh history is that of Gwen ferch Ellis. She was a weaver, who was also very well known as a healer. People would travel quite a distance to come and seek her help. She was best known for healing animals, but also healed people and assisted them in other minor ways, such as casting spells to retrieve lost items. Had she continued in this practice she may have been spared, however things went very wrong for her when she met Jane Conway.

Jane Conway was known to have a grudge against Thomas Mostyn, a justice of the peace and a very powerful man. When one of Gwen's spells was found written backwards in the cellar of his home, it was seen as an attempted curse against him. Gwen was initially thrown in Flint Jail, she was then put through a formal investigation at Diserth Church at Llansanffraid Glan Conwy. Eventually there was a trial at Denbighshire Court of Sessions, Gwen was found guilty of murder and causing serious harm by the use of witchcraft. She was later hanged.

Although the the majority of formal witch trials took place in the 16th and 17th century, this did not prevent vigilante actions continuing to a much later date. There are stories of people being accosted as witches right up the 19th century. These accounts often include women being cut, as it was a popular belief that once you drew blood from a witch they could no longer cast a spell against you. There were however some very serious cases.

In Monmouthshire in the early 1800's an elderly woman was set upon by a constable, a farmer and two farm hands. They accused her of bewitching some livestock, and proceeded to cut her arm to prevent her causing further harm. As a crowd gathered around, they stripped her to the waist and cut off her hair. They decided to 'duck' the woman. 'Ducking' is a practice where by an accused witch would be thrown into water, if they floated, they were using magic to save themselves and were guilty. If they sank, they were innocent, but almost always died due to drowning. Luckily by this time the woman’s daughter had arrived and managed to dissuade them. When the men stood trial the judge said they were lucky not to be facing murder charges.

Today Wales proudly holds onto it's magical heritage and has many sites and attractions based on it's associations with myth, history and folklore.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The North Berwick Witches

The North Berwick Witches were a group of seventy or so people from southern Scotland prosecuted for witchcraft between 1590 and 1592.
At this time Scotland was ruled by King James IV, who had always been very relaxed with regards to implementing laws against witchcraft. However, this attitude changed when he sailed to Copenhagen to marry Princess Anne of Denmark. During the journeys both there and back they were met with horrific storms. The Admiral of the escorting fleet of Danish ships blamed the extreme weather on witchcraft, an opinion shared by many crew members. This experience drastically changed his views on witchcraft, and upon returning to Scotland set about eradicating any trace of it.

One of the first people accused was Gellie Duncan. She worked as a servant, but often provided healing cures to people. Her cures were deemed to be a little too successful, and quickly drew suspicion. Initially she resolutely pleaded her innocence, however after ongoing interrogation and the discovery of a 'Witches Mark' on her neck, she changed her plea. She confessed that her treatments were prepared with the help of the Devil. She also implicated several other people.

One of the most shocking things is that one of the people she named as an accomplice was King James's cousin, Francis Stewart, 1st Earl of Bothwell. However, he was by no means the only member of high society accused. Others that Gellie accused included Barbara Napier, widow of Earl Archibald of Angus and Euphemia Maclean, daughter of the Lord Cliftonhall. Gellie was eventually burnt at the stake.

King James was heavily involved with the trials, presiding over many of them. One story tells of how he examined Agnes Sampson at Holyrood House. She was kept without sleep for days and fastened to a wall with a 'Witches Bridle'. A Witches Bridle is a metal contraption that places sharp metal prongs against the tongue and the inside of the cheeks. Eventually she confessed, and was subsequently burnt as a witch.

Most of the confessions obtained during these trials were done so under horrendous torture. The accounts given where often of coven meetings at Auld Kirk Green, which now forms part of the modern day North Berwick Harbour area. North Berwick churchyard also featured heavily. Many of the accused claiming they went there at night to meet with the Devil. There were numerous confessions that detailed an attempt to sink the kings ship. They detailed that on Halloween 1590, they had met with the Devil in North Berwick churchyard. In order to raise a storm they retrieve limbs from corpses, attached them to a dead cat and threw this into the sea.

King James went on to write a book, 'Daemonologie', instructing his followers on the prosecution of witchcraft. The North Berwick trials were the first major occurrence of many witch trials in Scotland, it is estimated that from the late 16th century to the early 18th century between 3000 and 4000 people were executed for witchcraft in Scotland.

Magick vs. Magic

"What is the difference between 'magick' and 'magic?" is a question a lot of people new to witchcraft will ask themselves at some point.
Anyone researching magic or witchcraft on the internet, in books or anywhere else, will come across the words 'magic' and 'magick'. This is something that often confuses people, as they seem to be referring to the same thing. And, for the most part the are.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Witchcraft on the Isle of Man

The Isle of Man has a rich history of associations with witchcraft. Ronald Hutton Professor of History at Bristol said “At one point the Isle of Man was regarded by everybody else in the British Isles as a hotbed of sorcery.”

There is even cases of England sending witches to the Isle of Man. In 1441 Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester - (Wife of Humphrey), along with Margery Jourdemaine and two noted Oxford Scholars - (one an astrologer and one a doctor), was accused of using sorcery to seek the death of King Henry VI. Her punishment was to be banished for life to the Isle of Man.

Whilst in England hundreds of people lost their lives in witch trials, the Isle of Man was far more tolerant. There were only two people to be executed for witchcraft on the Isle of Man. These were Margaret Ine Quane and her young son. Margaret was accused of using witchcraft to secure a good crop by working a fertility spell. When she was found guilty, it meant her son was automatically guilty of having 'witches blood'. They were burnt at the stake in Castletown in 1617. The incident is mentioned in Gerald Gardner's book 'The Meaning of Witchcraft'.

Gerald Gardner was also a resident of the Isle of Man when he moved there with his wife Donna in 1952, where he became owner of the Museum of Witchcraft.

The Museum of Witchcraft was originally founded by Cecil Williamson. Cecil worked with MI6 during the second world war. He was employed to investigate the Nazi's occult interests, and formed the Witchcraft Research Centre. In 1947 he decided to open a museum dedicated to witchcraft. He originally planned to do this in Stratford Upon-Avon, but local opposition prevented this from ever actually happening. It was in 1948 that he purchased the near derelict 'Witches' Mill' in Castletown on the Isle of Man. The museum – (then called the Folklore Centre of Superstition and Witchcraft) – opened in 1949. He turned to Gardner, who he'd met a few years earlier at a talk he was giving in London, to become 'resident witch'. A few years later Williamson decided he wanted to return to England, and move his collection to a new museum in Windsor. In 1952 he sold the museum to Gardner who installed his own collection of artefacts.

Williams original collection remained in Windsor for a year, before a brief spell in Gloucestershire, before ending up in Boscastle in 1960, where it remains today.

The Isle of Man still embraces its occult history and Manx National Heritage have held a number of events and talks.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Bede's World

Bede’s World is located in Jarrow, in North East England. It is a visitors attraction based on the life, times and works of the Venerable Bede who lived from 673 to 735 AD.

Bede was a monk, and from the age of seven onwards, he barely left the monastery of St Peter at Monkwearmouth. He dedicated his life to writing and teaching. He was the first person to write academic works in Old English. He was responsible for translating the Gospel of John into English, sadly only completing it on the day of his death. Today Bede’s writings are seen as an invaluable source of historical information, though unfortunately, only fragments of the writings he completed in English have survived today.

Bede’s World has all you would expect from a good museum. The museum building itself is beautifully laid out, with eye catching displays of historic pieces brought together with modern artwork. They also have a lovely on-site cafĂ©, housed within Jarrow Hall, and a gift shop that boasts some genuinely unique gifts and interesting books.

However, the museum is not constrained within the main buildings, far from it. Bede’s World is situated on the site of the Anglo-Saxon monastery of St Pauls, and you can visit the medieval monastic ruins.

They also have a fully reconstructed Anglo-Saxon farm, complete with animals, that they run demonstrations from. This is situated amongst many reconstructed timber buildings you can look around.

Throughout the year Bede’s World hosts a number of events and fairs. These range from exhibitions and talks from some of the country’s top historians and archaeologists, to family fun days and craft fairs.

The fun days and craft fairs are not to be missed. The have included things such as battle re-enactments and birds of prey displays. There are also lots of fun activities for children of all ages including horse cart rides, and making clay tiles. There’s also plenty for the adults. The wide range of local craftsmen these events attract make for a truly unique shopping experience. In addition, on days such as this, Bede’s World will often open it’s doors for free. Getting there isn’t much of a trial either with lots of local public transport links near by.

Bede’s World is open seven days a week, but does close briefly over the winter period. Full details of opening times and events can be found on their website.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Bideford Witches

The town of Bideford in Devon has it’s place firmly marked in the history of British Witchcraft. It was the home of Temperance Lloyd, Mary Trembles and Susanna Edwards. In 1682, these 3 woman became the last people in England to be executed for Witchcraft.

Temperance was the first to be accused. A local shop keeper, Thomas Eastchurch, claimed she had used witchcraft to torment local woman Grace Thomas. After a chance meeting between to two woman, Grace took ill with severe internal pains. Temperance was also accused of conversing with the devil, who took the shape of a black man. She was also said to have sent the Devil, in the guise of a magpie, to Grace’s windowsill at night. She was accused of causing Grace’s pains by using a wax doll and pricking it with pins. An accusation based on nine marks Grace claimed to have on her knee. When Temperance admitted to pricking a piece of leather nine times her fate was made. She was sent to Exeter Assizes.

Suspicion of Mary and Susanna began merely due to them being seen in public with Temperance. When another local woman, Grace Barnes, began having fits they were quickly blamed. At the local magistrates, it was claimed that Mary had been seen loitering outside her house. Grace was physically carried into the town hall to give evidence. To add to the drama a man who was present, Anthony Jones, began foaming at the mouth, jumping around as if possessed, and shouting “I am now bewitched by this Devil.” Mary and Susanna were then sent to join Temperance in Exeter.

The three woman were held awaiting trial for over a month. Within this time public interest grew, and with it outrageousness of some of the accusations. At one point it was claimed that Temperance Lloyd had the Devil suckle at unnatural teats that grew on her body. All the women fell apart under questioning and not only admitted to the charges levied against them, but all began to blame each other. They were all found guilty.

They were sentenced to death by the judges presiding, one of which was Rodger North. The motives for this sentence are debatable. Lord North - (Rodger North’s brother) - wrote to the secretary of state following the trial. In this letter he stated that the women must be put to death, or else the country would loose faith in the capability of the legal system in dealing with cases of witchcraft. He claimed this would lead to illegal, vigilante witch hunts being carried out, outside of the legal system. Sir Francis North later completed an investigation into the case and found it to be deeply flawed.

The women were put to death at Heavitree, on the 25th August 1682. The English legal system eventually abolished the death penalty for witches in 1736.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The Pendle Witches

In 1612, the town's of Pendle in Lancashire played host to one of the most famous witch trials in British history.
The story begins with a relatively mundane argument between Alizon Device, and pedlar John Law. When John refuses to sell her pins, she threw a casual curse at him. When the pedlar was then instantly gripped by a seizure and collapsed, a panicking Alizon, convinced that she is the cause, confesses she has laid a curse on him and apologised.
The story might of ended here had it not been for Abraham Law, John Law's son, who brought Alizon's confession to the attention of magistrate Rodger Nowell. This led to suspicion falling not only on Alizon, but also her mother, Elizabeth Device, brother James Device and grandmother Elizabeth Southern (known as Demdike).

Demdike was also accused of using witchcraft to kill the daughter of Richard Baldwin, after he refused to pay the family wages due to them after they carried out mill work. It was during a statement from Demdike that Anne Whittle (known as Chattox) and her daughter Anne Redferne became implicated. Demdike said she had found them making clay poppets of the Nutter family.

Chattox stated that she had targeted Robert Nutter not only because he had tried to seduce her daughter Anne but also because his own grandmother, Elizabeth Nutter had requested she help kill him, offering her land in exchange for her assistance.

Both Chattox and Demdike were rumoured amongst locals to be experienced witches, and a feud had developed over the years. This led to the two women and their families making various statements and allegations against the other throughout the investigation. Alizon claimed Chattox burgled her family and even used witchcraft to kill her farther. Chattox claimed that the only reason she became embroiled in witchcraft to start with was due to Demdike's influence.

As the investigations continued more and more people were implicated. Partially due to the 'witches sabbat' that was said to have taken place at Malkin Towers on Good Friday 1612. This meeting, and other general strange occurrences surrounding Malkin Towers featured throughout various statements made. A large number of the people who attended that sabbat made up the accused.

There were 13 people that made up the Pendle Witches. Ten were hanged at Lancaster Gaol, these were; Alizon Device, Elizabeth Device, James Device, Chattox – (Anne Whittel), Anne Redferne, Alice Nutter, Katherine Hewitt, John Bulcock, Jane Bulcock and Isobel Robey. Due to living just over the county boarder Jennet Preston was tried in Yorkshire and hanged at York. Magaret Pearson was found guilty for the crime of witchcraft, but innocent of using it to murder anyone, and sentenced to one year in prison.

Demdike – (Elizabeth Southerns) – was never found guilty of witchcraft or murder. She died whilst in Lancaster Gaol still awaiting trial. Though, the tales of the Pendle witches has led her to be one of the best known witches in British history.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Should Melanie Phillips face legal action for her anti-Druidry article?

Should Melanie Phillips face legal action for her anti-Druidry article? Short answer, ‘Yes’.

The UK Charity Commission recently made the decision to classify Druidry as a recognised religion, allowing associated charities to enjoy the same benefits as those associated with the other larger religions. Phillips took exception to this, but instead of writing a well thought out article on the pro’s and con’s of offering organisations tax benefits whilst the country is in a poor financial state, she proceed to throw out a large list of insults that bore no journalistic merit whatsoever.

Her first fantastical accusation was to accuse earth based and minority religions in general for that downfall of modern society:
“Elevating them to the same status as Christianity is but the latest example of how the bedrock creed of this country is being undermined.”
She then goes on:
“But true religions surely rest on an established structure of traditions, beliefs, literature and laws.”
Like the pagan tradition of bringing evergreen foliage into the home at winter solstice, maybe? Yes, Melanie… shriek! The majority of the western world has been following a pagan tradition all this time… And to think following such practices is, what was it now Melanie? Ah, yes:
“…attack upon the very concept of religion itself.”

Not only is Melanie happy question the Charity Commission about decisions that she is clearly more qualified to make, but also lays into the Pagan Police Association for it’s horrendous crime of even existing. She quotes one unnamed police officer as saying:
“What has it come to when a cop gets time off so he can sit about making spells or dance around the place drinking honey beer with a wand in his hand?”
What I want to know is, what has it come to when ignorant, ill informed bigots are allowed to work as police officers?

Following the articles appearance on the Daily Mail website an online petition was launched to demand a full and public apology. While an apology from the Daily Mail for publishing such drivel would be nice, it just doesn’t cut it for me.

The 2006 Race and Religious Hatred Act was put in place to stop people instigating and encouraging religious tension. I know several individuals and groups who have filed complaints with the police already, and asked to be updated following their complaints. Melanie Phillips wrote this article with the sole intent of causing public ill feeling and negativity towards a minority religion, and should be legally held to account for it.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Wheel of the Year

The Wheel of the Year is often used to describe the constantly revolving cycle of the seasons, upon which the Pagan festivals are based on. Dependant on your chosen path within witchcraft or paganism the way you celebrate these events will vary. There are 8 festivals that form the pagan year. Four of them falling on solar solstices and equinoxes, (these are known as the ‘lesser sabbats‘). The other four falling between these and often used as a way to look forward to the coming season (these are known as the ‘greater sabbats‘).

The Wheel of the Year is also a story of the Earth Goddess and Sun God, (I have chosen to use these particular names for the male and female deities as they are widely used, however they have many other names and forms). I have written a basic version of this age old tale below, but there are many versions to be found and explored.

As Samhain comes around, the Sun God makes his final sacrifice. He sacrifices himself in order that the earth may have the last of his strength and be able to come back to life with the return of the Spring. The Goddess mourns him, but has the continued hope of the light she carries within her womb. At Yule she gives birth and the Sun God is reborn, from this point on the light starts to slowly return to the world. The Goddess returns to the earth to seek rest.

As Imbolic arrives the Sun God is growing stronger and with him the strength of the day, the Goddess returns to the world no longer the Crone, but fully rejuvenated. Eostara marks the day once again overtaking the night, the Sun God reaches maturity and starts to become attracted to the Goddess in her Maiden form. As the Beltane fires burn bright the God and Goddess come together and she begins to carry his light within her womb.

Lammas sees the Sun God at his strongest, but from here on he will give of himself to ensure a bountiful harvest. As we reach Mabon the Sun God is much weakened and the light gives way to the increasing darkness. The Goddess is sad as she knows he will soon be gone from her. And here we reach Samhain again. The wheel has completed one full turn but continues on it’s ever ending cycle.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Scary New Start

Ok... busy few weeks! First of my car repeatedly stopped working, which resulted in much hassle getting to current temp job.

So Tuesday rolls around and it turns out office is dead quiet... so Friday will be my last day, which was quiet sad as I've been there over 6 months and made friends with most of the guy's I work with. But, that is the wonderful world of temping... so what can you do.

Anyway due to the ammount of writing and stuff with the HWB site I've been doing the little extra income thats been coming in has steadily grown, but I've been stashing it to 're-invest' so to speak. I know I've got the websites and I've done Hope Moon and Hope Ocean, but they were published basically because I wrangled some free ISBNs along with database listing. It's always just been more for fun, raisng awarness and a good outlet for some writers I'm frends with.

I kind of got a bit carried away with it all, learning about book publishing and distribution as I went, putting any income back into adding more to sites, software, registation with various groups. Which kind of leads me to the 'scary new start'...

So Friday come around, I wave good-bye to my friends at office and head for train -(car still not running) - and just as I get to station my Blackberry starts beeping, an email... from the UK ISBN office... starting 'Dear Publisher'. Ok, to be honest I was sure when I filled in the forms, some sensible person somewhere would have went "ok she's not bad at blogging etc, and she's enthusiastic... but a publsher. No only sensible, organised people are allowed to run publishing companies" But they did not!

Then another email comes through 'Subject: deposit of titles with British Library'... The-British-freaking-Library! Oh my days there are people out there that actually think I know what the hell I'm doing.

So here I am first day in my what-was-living-room-now-full-of-office-stuff sorting out supply links with Amazon and playing round with book covers. Hoping no-one works out I have NO IDEA what the hell I'm doing!

Think happy thoughts, think happy thoughts, think happy thoughts....

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Myddle Earth

The Pagan Federation North Wales 'Myddle Earth' Summer Camp 2010 took place from the 2nd to the 4th of July, in a sunny field with a fantastic view just west of Caergwrle.

Friday was arrival day, and we easily found the site thanks to good directions sent from the organisers and some well placed temporary sign posts in closest village. The afternoon consisted of an afternoon watching everyone arrive, merrily drinking cider and then an evening of brilliant live music.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

"Doesn't it annoy you when..."

Hello... and sorry for the massive gap between posts, but things have gotten a little hectic of late!

First we had the new website to go with the HWB Blog, then the first issue of Incantation... and then rushed to hospital with suspected meningitis (it wasn't I'm fine, but fyi, lumbar punch tests are about as much fun as they sound!)

Anyway all that over with, spent last weekend having great time at PF Myddle Earth Camp (all the juicey deets on that to come in future post), though on my arrival home decided it was time to tackle the email mountain.

Now, I'm not saying I'm popular... but I get A LOT of emails. And don't get me wrong here, I love getting email's from people, infact I encourage them, and have all my social network info on the site. But, there is one type of email that really just annoys me. And, I'm sure anyone involved in the online pagan community will have had similar one's. They're the "Doesn't it annoy you when..." one's. The "Arn't you sick of..." one's. The "I can't stand those..." one's.

Well to save anyone sending future emails here's my answers in advance:

Q: Does it annoy me when old pagans/young pagans/initiate paths/any other one targeted group/individual act like they know 'it all'?
A: Not really... certainly not enough to spend time and energy bulk emailing my entire contacts list about it, besides these people are usually in the minority of any given group.

Q: Can they really expect to be taken seriously when they believe/do/act like that?
A: Yes... well much more than you can expect to be taken seriously whilst trying to dictate to others what they can and can't do or believe!

Q: Don't you think we should try and stop this group/event/person?
A: No... unless they're doing something illegal! If you don't like what they're doing or saying stop spending so much bloody time listening to/reading/watching it.

Now do I personally read things and think "you're talking bollocks!"? YES! Do I fully appreciate that a lot of people will look at the things I think and say "you're talking bollocks!"? YES! Do I sometimes - (and I'm not proud of this) - quiet like a bit of a bitching session with a friend or two over some wine? Yeah ok, a bit!

It's rediculous to think that I would agree with everyone eles's belifes and ideas all of the time... And to think that I would never ever find some of them a little annoying... But I will always defend their right to believe them... and express their belifes and ideas in any - (legal ;D) - way they see fit!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Picking yourself back up...

In June 2006 I appeared to all the world to have everything all sewn-up. I’d been married to my teenage sweet-heart for 3 years. Within that time we’d had a son, quickly followed by a daughter, we’d taken out a mortgage and bought our first home. To all the world we must have appeared the perfect young couple. Closed doors can hide a lot.
As you can imagine, with two very young children and a new home money was tight. I went back to work full time and knew that my husbands first priority was to me and the children… well so I thought. After my daughter was born in the previous January he had been spending more and more time away from home, out with friends. At first I tried to be understanding, thinking that the pressure of family life was a lot and he probably just needed some ‘me’ time. As time went on it got beyond a joke. I’d walk in from work and he’d walk out, off to meet his friends. I was scrimping over the food and clothes shopping, he was spending his wages in the pub. I tried to organise a weekend away at the sea-side, nothing big, just some time together, but apparently he ‘had to work’. I went anyway, with my parents to help with the kids. I called from the B&B to let him know we’d gotten there safe and sound, you could hear him shushing someone in the background before he said hello. A quick call to the office confirmed he wasn’t actually working at all.
Did I confront him? No.
Why? I was 23, I had two babies, you do the maths.
A few weeks later things came to a head. I don’t remember exactly what started that argument, but I remember what finished it. 'I can’t go on with you going on at me all the time’ he whinged. ’Drop the kids at day -care in the morning. I’ll pick them up, then we’re going to my parents.’ I said in a frighteningly calm voice. That was at about 2am, I sat drinking cups of tea until 6am, then headed to work, it didn’t quite feel real.
I sat at my desk waiting for my manager to come in so I could ask for some emergency leave, she of course told me to go home on sick leave immediately. Then I made that dreaded call to my Mum. I don’t think I’ve ever heard swearing that venomous. It was lucky for my husband she couldn’t drive and had no way of getting her hands on him.
The following months flew by. I had to set-up a new home, arrange a divorce, start to re-build a life. I’d been back at work a few weeks, after being on the sick with ’stress’ for a few months, it was mid-September. Then the call came, “…yes, that’s right. We’ll be going ahead with re-possession in a few days.” I had agreed that he could keep the home we had together, we hadn’t owned it long and there was no equity there. What I forgot was my name was still on the mortgage. He hadn’t paid the mortgage for 10 months, as all the letters were addressed to Mr & Mrs, I left them for him to take care of. Unless they sold it for a fair bit more than we paid for it, there would still be debt outstanding, debt I was jointly responsible for. I fell apart at my desk, but quickly pulled myself together, made my excuses and headed to the house as I still had a few belongings there.
I let myself in, luckily I still had a key. I remember I was going through a pile of papers trying to find the kids birth certificates when I found it. A hotel receipt, for a double room, booked in his name… for the weekend I was away with the kids at the sea-side. And the really sad part, I didn’t have enough fight left in me to react. I got what I needed, got out of there and went home.
I can imagine your reaction at this tale so far, but here’s the thing. We haven’t got to the bad part yet.
Several months later and I still hadn’t stopped still long enough to really think about what had happened, really sit myself down and accept it, until one fateful day. The divorce was being sorted, I had my new home set-up. I happily walked into work and clicked on the computer, my inbox calendar opened, displaying the date. It was my wedding anniversary. That was it, in the middle of a large customer service department, I lost it. After half an hour of uncontrollable sobbing, my fantastically understanding manager got me in a taxi to my doctors. I left an hour later with anti-depressants, tranquilisers, an appointment with a therapist, a sick note for a month and a diagnosis of major depression with bouts of severe nervous anxiety.
From this point on things went down hill fast, I never did return to that office. I never went out, I just went more and more inside myself. I went through all the motions to stop people worrying. I went to the doctors, I went to the therapist , I took my 'happy pills'. But when no-one was looking my behaviour became more and more erratic. More and more unpredictable. I was rebelling against the whole situation, who wanted to be a twenty-something single mother, with no job, no friends and no way out of it? There were incidents along the way that flashed warning signs to my family, but what could they do, apart from offer help they knew I wouldn’t accept. It still kills me to wonder how much of it the kids picked up on.
It all came to a head one weekend when the kids were with their Dad. I lined up 3 months worth of anti-depressants along with a few packets of various pain killers and a bottle of vodka. I sat and tearfully wrote a note addressed to my Mum. Then there was a knock at the door, my ex, dropping the kids off early. I hurriedly took them inside and said goodbye to him. I took them upstairs and tucked them into bed and kissed them goodnight, then went back downstairs and came face to face with the decision I was about to make.
I couldn’t… not with my babies upstairs blissfully asleep, totally unaware of what a horrible place to world could be, totally unaware that their mother was losing it. So I phoned my Mum.
I won’t go into detail about the level of drama that followed, but you can imagine the fall out. The thing is when circumstance drags you that far down, the only way you can go is up. And the first step was coming to terms with the fact I had a mental illness, I’d had one for some time… and I’d probably always have it.
The past few years have been a long road. I’m happy to say I’m now controlling my illness myself without medication. My life is now back on track, I’m in a new home, the divorce is over and I’ve found a way to balance my work life so it doesn’t get too much and I can make time for doing those things I love which allow me to deal with things and be happy. I’ve also discovered a few truths along the way. Firstly, you won’t ever be the best mother in the world, but if you try to be, your kids will swear you are! Secondly, thing’s rarely work out the way you planned, so take every day as it comes and enjoy what it brings. Lastly, most of the things you stay awake at night worrying about don’t matter a damn. Next time you find yourself in this situation ask yourself this ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ usually nothing major. And, if the worst does happen have a little faith in your friends/family/the universe/whatever gods you worship, that they will catch you if you fall.
No matter how dark things get… everything works out in the end. Trust me

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Virtual Book Tour

Ok I'm going on tour... well a Virtual Book Tour! Here's where I'll be and when...

April 11- Guest Blogging at Authors Promoting Authors http://authorspromotingauthors.blogspot.com/
April 13 - Author Interviewed at Paranormal Romance with Margaret West
April 17 - Author Interviewed at Paula Zone> http://www.paulazone.blogdrive.com/
April 20 -- Author Interviewed by Fiona Ingram http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/
April 22 - Patti Hultstrand http://azpublishingservices.blogspot.com
April 25 - Author Interviewed at BK Walker Books Etc http://bkwalkerbooksetc.blogspot.com/
April 24 - Author Interviewed at My Immortal Stories http://myimmortalstories.blogspot.com/
May 8 - Guest Blogging at Watery Tart 23 http://waterytart23.blogspot.com/
May 10 - Author Interviewed By Lisa http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/
May 10 - to your schedule with Susan Hanniford Crowley
May 13 - Author Interviewed at Conscious Discussions http://consciousdiscussions.blogspot.com/
May 28 - with Lisa Jackson
June 15 - Author Interviewed by Cate Masters http://catemasters.blogspot.com/
June 30 - Guest Blogging with Lauren http://harveyle.blogspot.com/

Sunday, 4 April 2010


Okay, 'Hope Moon' sales have dropped off, but Haiti earthquake victims still need help... and after everyones hard work I think as many people of possible should own a copy, lol! So not to put to fine a point on it but... I kind of want to hyjack your blogs! Don't panic, I don't mean the whole things but I have got this cute little button...

Click Here for HTML Code

Monday, 22 March 2010


Ok, usually when The Wheel turns, I set out a ritual at home, they all follow a fairly similar pattern, as to what I've found works best for me.

However, this Eostara things played out a little differently. For most of last week I was fairly ill and as a result spent Wednesday through to Friday in my boyfriends 'Halo 3' T-shirt and leggings. The kids got shipped off to childminders and then their Dad's and my sleep pattern went entirely out the window. All this lead to me being wide awake at 4am Saturday morning, and feeling a lot better than I had in a number of days. Maybe I should get some fresh air, I thought to myself.

So off I set, at 5:30am. The Tyne valley was filled with mist and there was a feeling of watching the world waking up as I watched the street lights blink out one by one as I made my way through housing estate.

The Riverside National Park seems a different world at that time of day. Rabbits leaping away everytime my hadow fell a little to close to them. Grouses and moor hens shrieking in alarm each time i snapped a twig a little too loudly. Thick jewel link rain-drops coating evey available leaf, branch and blossom.

Anyway, although it was entirely unplanned, a dawn walk is definatley a ritual I plan to repeat. It's worth doing just for the slightly smug feeling you get pulling of your hiking boots and pouring a cup of tea thinking already today I've seen all those beautiful things, and everyone else hasn't even got out of bed yet!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Circle Casting

Casting circles for spells and rituals is something practiced by many branches of witchcraft and Paganism. The purpose and necessity of casting a circle is something that will vary between practitioners and covens.

Some believe that circles are cast to create a protected area in which to practice magic. Others see them as a way of building magical power and focusing it into the ritual that is being carried out. There are others that believe they are a way of acknowledging, paying respect to, and thanking the deities and magical energies that are present during rituals and spells.

As you can imagine, due to the difference in believes as to what a circle is for, there is also a large sliding scale as to how important and elaborate a part of rituals it becomes.

Personally, as a Hedge Witch, circle casting as we know it today isn’t really a big part of my chosen tradition, but it’s still something I often do. Granted in a very short simple format, but I find it creates a nice start and finish point to spells. This may sound a little strange but after a day at the office or running round after children having something you do as a regular prelude to workings is a good way to enter the right mind set and clear away the cluttered thoughts that may distract your concentration.

Below is a very simple example of circle casting, as with all magical workings it’s best to come up with your own adaptation and make it personal to you.

The circle itself may or may not be marked out physically. This can be done with anything you choose but rope and salt are common choices. Sometimes candles are used to mark the directional correspondences on the circumference of the circle, (Green for North, Yellow for East, Red for South and Blue for West). Sometimes representations of each element is used to mark directional correspondences, either around the circumference or on an alter within the circle, (Earth for North, Air for East, Fire for South and Water for West).

Before the circle is cast the person leading the ritual will welcome the Lord and Lady, or specific deities that they wish to be present.

They will then walk round the edge of the circle in a clockwise direction (traditionally starting at the East) marking it out with either an athame, a staff, a wand or simply their finger. They may stop at each compass point to welcome the energies / God / watchtower, or they may complete the circle and then welcome them. An example of what they may say would be:

“Energies of the East, I ask you watch over this rite with powers of knowledge and communication, guided by Air, I bid you ‘Hail and Welcome’,
Energies of the South, I ask you to watch over this rite with powers of strength and will, guided by Fire, I bid you ‘Hail and Welcome’,
Energies of the West, I ask you to watch over this rite with powers of peace and emotion, guided by Water, I bid you ‘Hail and Welcome’,
Energies of the North, I ask you to watch over this rite with powers of prosperity and stability, guided by Earth, I bid you ‘Hail and Welcome’.”

Once the circle is cast it is generally believed you should not cross it’s boundary, and break the circle, if it can at all be helped. Some practitioners will cut a doorway in the circle if someone needs to leave by using whatever they used to draw the circle to mark two small lines across the boundary of it. Once the person has left / re-entered they then re-connect the two edges.

One, if not the, most important part of casting a circle is for all the participants to visualise it as clearly as they can. For most people this will be a circular wall or sphere of light, but it is a very personal thing and will vary for everyone.

Once the spell or ritual has been complete, it is important to then take down the circle. Confusingly this is often called ‘opening’ the circle as people often visualise the energy or light dissipating outwards, rather than falling in on itself.

To do this the person leading the ritual will walk around the circumference in an anticlockwise direction tracing the outline of the circle. Either whilst they are walking and reach the compass points, or after they have finished they will say something along the lines of:

“Energies of the East, thank you for joining me in this rite, stay if you can, go if you must, I bid you ‘Hail and Farewell’,
Energies of the North, thank you for joining me in this rite, stay if you can go if you must, I bid you ‘Hail and Farewell’,
Energies of the West, thank you for joining me in this rite, stay if you can go if you must, I bid you ‘Hail and Farewell’
Energies of the North, thank you for joining me in this rite, stay if you can go if you must, I bid you ‘Hail and Farewell’.”

They will often use a similar statement format for thanking and saying goodbye to the Lord and Lady or other deities, which they will do next.

As I said previously this is a basic outline of how circles are cast. Some are much more complicated, and by the same token some or much simpler. Some plainly consist of visualising the circle and mentally acknowledging the different elements and directions associated with them.

However you choose to embrace this practice, like all things magical, it will develop personal power and meaning the more you do it.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Paranormal Mixed Media Awards

Big news! Hedge-Witchery.com and this blog are up for 'e-zine' and 'blogger' Paranormal Mixed Media Awards in the Literary catagory.
If you like the blog and Hedge-Witchery.com, please click here and leave a comment in the comments section at the bottom of the page. The number and quality of comments is what is used to decide who get's through to final rounds.
Thank's for all the support guy's, Hedge-Witchery.com is just reachig it's first birthday and the support it's gotten over the past 12 months has been awesome. Couldn't have done it without you!
Lily x

Sunday, 28 February 2010

'Earth, Air, Fire & Water: More Techniques of Natural Magic' by Scott Cunningham

'Earth, Air, Fire & Water: More Techniques of Natural Magic' was written by Scott Cunningham as a follow up to 'Earth Power', published over ten years prior.

Despite his Wiccan beginnings Scott Cunningham's writing bears very little impression of this. As with the majority of Scott Cunningham books 'Earth, Air, Fire & Water' focuses on what he terms "folk magic", which he goes on to describe as "the magic of the people".

The book in a joy to read, and long after your first reading, when you inevitably flick back though it's pages in reference you will find yourself inadvertently losing at least an hour or so, reading chapter after chapter, after being caught up in the writing. Cunningham's passion for his subject matter is apparent from the very start. Utilising his skills as a creative writer to set the scene of the book and beckon you into his world.

"A figure moves between tangled trunks, seeking the clearing. Soon the ancient oaks part to reveal a stream. The woman kneels on the stream's grassy bank and places her hands onto the ground. The steady pulse of the earth's energy comforts her."
(Chapter 1: This is Magic)

The main reason I love this book is that is it not your average spell book, although it does list several examples. What 'Earth, Air, Fire & Water' does, is give you a tool to create your own. This book gives you a guided magical tour of the four elements. It tells you the many and varied ways in which each element can be utilized, for an array of different spells. It also provides a fantastic chapter giving a step by step breakdown on building rituals.

The whole book is a testament to Cunningham's belief that magic is about people building a personal connection with the natural world.

For me 'Earth, Air, Fire & Water' will always be one of the first books I recommend to anyone new to witchcraft and spell casting. That said, I know many more seasoned practitioners that have read it several times over and use it for reference purposes regularly.

Cunningham manages to write in such a way that allows this book to be utilised by practitioners from a wide range of magical backgrounds and pagan paths, but at the same time holds a tone that leaves you feeling you've had a personal glimpse into the authors life.

I really can't recommend this book enough, if you don't own it, you should!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Why I am Pagan

Why am I a Pagan? Now there is a question to make me think!

Well like many other Pagans I wasn’t brought up in a Pagan household. In fact spirituality wasn’t ever a really big thing in my household. I was christened Church of England as a baby and after that didn’t enter a church for reasons other than weddings and christenings for years. As a young teenager I chose to become involved in the church. I simply couldn’t accept a world without spirituality in it and Christianity seemed the obvious option. It was main stream, it was easily accessible, and what parents in their right mind would object to their teenage daughter taking an interest in the Bible.

But, something didn’t sit right. I felt like I was trying to hard, like it just didn’t sit naturally with me. Around my mid-teens I became interested in witchcraft. I started reading whatever I could on the subject, though ten years ago there was a lot less information readily available than there is now. In my quest for information on witchcraft I inevitably learnt about paganism and all that it encompasses… now this felt right!

As this article is entitled ‘Why I am a Pagan’ and not ‘What is a Pagan?’ I won’t go into to great detail on the many and varied paths within Paganism. Although my personal beliefs fit well towards the centre of the wide road of earth based religions, one of the reasons I love paganism so much is how wide this road is in the first place.

The more time I spend in the Pagan community, whether it is online or in person, the more I feel spirituality is more a journey than a final destination. I once read somewhere “when you stop learning, you are truly old”. With Paganism I’ll never stop learning. Every person is a new set of theories, a new perspective and a new set of practices.

It doesn’t take a lot to work out that any community that embraces such diversity within its own belief system, embraces diversity in all it’s forms. There is very little right and wrong within paganism, just differences. Differences that are celebrated. Differences that become talking points. Differences that then bring us closer. Anyone can find their place in paganism, an encouraging place, where you will be encouraged to celebrate your beliefs rather than someone else’s.

Monday, 15 February 2010

The Riding Mill Witches

In 17th century England the Tyne valley was said to be the home of up to 5 covens of witches. But while not much is known of the majority of those magical practitioners, or whether they were indeed real or not, one coven has had it’s story told over and over again.

In Riding Mill, a short walk from the station will bring you to a rather charming Public House called ‘The Wellington’. A place once known as ‘The Riding House’, which was said to play host to the now infamous Riding Mill witches. In the early 1670’s a woman by the name of Anne Armstrong of Birches Nook, decided to appoint herself a local witch finder.

Her accusations began with tales of witches becoming swallows and flying under horses bellies to curse them and their riders. Before long her finger of accusation was pointed firmly at three local women. Anne Foster of Stocksfield, Anne Dryden of Prudhoe and Lucy Thompson of Mickley all took starring roles in Anne Foster's colourful accusations.

One off the better known stories tells how Anne Armstrong had woken one night to find herself saddled like a horse. She claimed Anne Forster rode her across the pack horse bridge where she witnessed the three women dancing with the Devil at The Riding House.

In 1673, the three woman stood trial for Witchcraft at Morpeth Magistrates. Anne Armstrong was, of course, called to the witness box, and certainly didn’t hold back. She told of how she had seen the women shape shift on numerous occasions, not just into cats and hares, but also into bumble bees that rode on wooden spoons. She also told how she had witnessed them at The Riding House dancing and swinging on ropes before a man they called God.

After a particularly harrowing performance in the witness box the Judges presiding over the case decided Anne Armstrong’s accounts were too far-fetched to have any truth to them. The case was thrown out and the three women released.

Whether they really were a practicing coven or not is a question you’ll have to answer for yourself. It isn't, however, the only unanswered question in this story. Shortly after the women’s release Anne Armstrong was found hanged in The Riding House scullery.

Did the stress of the trial become to much for her? Or, was it the witches' revenge?

Friday, 12 February 2010

Forever More

In the Summerlands that wait,
I’ll wait for you my dear,
Their beauty will mean nothing,
If I don’t have you near.

My breathing is now shallow,
As this life draw towards it’s end,
My proudest memory of it,
Having you as lover and best friend.

The young strong arms I held you with,
Now aged skin wrapping bone,
I have no fear of pain and death,
But I can’t bear to leave you alone.

But to the Summerlands I’ll journey,
For you I’ll wait by that other worlds door,
Our love won’t last a lifetime,
It will last forever more.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Thank you!

Hello! I'm... awake... just. Just wanted to again say a very big thankyou to everyone involved in 'Hope Moon', there were a couple of people who missed deadline by a 3/4 hours, I'm so sorry work couldnt be included, but the process of making files 'print ready' picking up snags from conversion, re editing, then putting... cover together took a continuose 5 hours of work...
and if I then started to add to it the whole process would of had to be restarted... Anyway WE DID IT!!!!! YAY!!!! - (and for everyone who's asked if i'd make the '3 day book challenge' an annual/biannual event, NO! .... but the '7 day charity book challenge i'm considering' lol)

Well Done Guys!

Ladies, Gentlemen... please give yourselves a very big round of applause!

Friday, 22 January 2010


Hi guys!
I'm officially setting 12 hour deadline for haiti book submissions! X
Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Haiti Book Project

The story so far... http://www.hedge-witchery.com/page8.htm


I'm attempting to put together, publish and have listed for sale a book themed on The Moon in 36 hours to raise money for Haiti earthquake appeal... and I need help! visit facebook group Hedge Witchery Books, or email me at hedge-witchery.com@hotmail.com

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Friday, 1 January 2010

What is a Hedge Witch?

This is a question I get asked a lot it's also one with a lot of different answers, this is mine.

Hedge Witch has become a term that is often used for any solitary practitioner, or those between covens. A Hedge Witch is what used to be the old village wise woman, apart from, they aren't all old, they don't have to live out in the countryside - (though most prefer this atmosphere)- and they aren't all women... but hopefully you get the picture I'm trying to paint here.

Hedge Witches practice very organic forms of magic, spells are usually very simple and focus of the elements of the spell that is being cast (i.e. the stones, herbs, plants etc) and personal words and meditation, as oppose to the ceremony of the spell (i.e. doing set things in a set order and following pre set out patterns).

The reason they practice magic in this way is due to their ability to "cross the hedge". A lot of people think the "Hedge" in Hedge Witch refers to the fact they are often out collecting spell components from the local hedge row, although this is true it is actually referencing the "Hedge" that symbolizes to boundary between this world and the usually unseen world. A lot of magical paths talk about "Hedge Riding" as it's also known, as a "thinning of the veil"or "journeying", this can be experienced in different ways. Hedge Witches do go journeying into the other world when spell casting, to seek answers or for simply for a sense of solace, but they are said to walk with a foot in either world a lot of the time. Due to this they are able to see the magic in everything, they notice patterns and symbols in nature that would normally go unnoticed and work with them. This isn't a practice that quick to learn, it involves lots of practice and lots of time spent in the right atmosphere casting spells and practicing witchcraft in a particular way.

Hedge Witches may or may not work with deities and if they do it is more a personal relationship built over a long period, rather than working with lots of different deities depending on the work they are doing, festival they are observing or time of year. Hedge Witches so not follow the Wiccan Rede "An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will", but do live by their own personal code of conduct that they feel comfortable with and will adhere to it strictly.