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Saturday, 5 November 2011

Reading Witches Stones

     Below are ten symbols you would commonly see used on witches stones. Personally these are the symbols I would use if putting together a set for someone who was interested in learning them.

Wyrd - Fate, destiny, the unknown, that which is yet to be decided.
Black - Negativity, bad luck.
Spears - An argument, dispute or confrontation.
Moon - A change, usually within 28 days (one moon cycle).
Sun - Growth, prosperity, abundance.
God - A man or a leader like/providing force.
Goddess - A female figure, a protective force or a care giver.
Birds - A message.
Corn - A work or career situation, or hard work bringing rewards.
Rings - A partnership or relationship.

Some other symbols you may come across are;

Spiral - A situation gathering momentum, a situation that has been ongoing for some time.
Birds - A message.
Waves - Travel, contact from close friends/family.
Wheel - The current situation is only temporary.
Nail - Needed help/protection coming.
Key - A new opportunity presenting itself.

   Usually to use the stones I would do either a three or seven stone casting. Three stone castings are good for getting a feel for the stones when you first start working with them, they are also great for quick answers and readings to uncomplicated questions and scenarios. Seven stone castings are great for general readings, or more complicated queries. Both are performed pretty much the same way.

   First hold the bag containing the stones and gently shake the stones whilst clearly holding the information and answers you wish to get from the reading in your mind. If doing the reading for someone else make sure you have this person at the forefront of your thoughts too.

   Pick stones out of the bag , hold them together in one had 4-6 inches above table and then drop them. Look at the stones and how they have landed. Some stones will have fallen close to each other , these stones will relate to each other. Some stones may have landed upside down. Some readers will simply turn them over and read as normal - (this is my own chosen method), some will discount them all together, and some believe that it indicates the opposite of the meaning indicated when the stone is the correct way up."

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Book Review: Mrs Darley's Pagan Healing Wisdom

I was recently sent a copy of “Mrs Darley's Pagan Healing Wisdom”, the book is written by Carole Carlton, and is the fourth book in the “Mrs Darley” series. Anyone looking at the cover and title of this book would be forgiven for thinking that they were looking at a spell book of healing rituals, but as the back cover explains...

“When we become ill we search for a cure, but a cure only suppresses the symptoms of disorder; it fails to address the underlying cause. When we search for healing, we are encouraged to look beyond the symptom, in order to explore the emotional, psychological and spiritual imbalances which underpin the illness.
Following several periods of less than robust health, Carole Carlton's enigmatic next door neighbour, the ever wise Mrs Darley, invited her to embark on a journey of healing through the five senses. It was a journey that not only made Carole view life and death in a different way, but also altered the way in which she interacted with her body. It ultimately became a magickal journey that changed Carole's career and touched her soul.”

The main body of this book contains information, history and references to how the human body responds to the way it interacts with it's surroundings. How these things can manifest into physical and psychological aliments, and what can be done to prevent and address these things if they do cause ill affects.

Usually books like this are fairly textbook-ish, and not the sort of thing you would sit down with on a Sunday afternoon with a pot of tea. However, the way the book has been structured means that all the factual and evidential information is peppered with “Mrs Darley Tale” segments. These anecdotal, diary-type stories not only make this book a much more enjoyable read, but also put the information you've absorbed into an everyday context, making it easier to relate to and put into practice.

After reading this book I would have no hesitation in recommending it to my Pagan friends who are interested in healing work. I would also list it as a good read for anyone, regardless of spiritual affiliation, who is interested in alternative therapies, or is currently studying or working in the fields of holistic therapies or homeopathy.

For more information about Carole Carlton and the “Mrs Darley” series of books visit www.arcanus.co.uk.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Poem: Finding Love

When I found you, I had already stopped looking for you,
I was looking for something close to you,
An almost you, a substitute you,
I had already decided that you did not exist,

We stumbled across each other in the mine field that is modern communications,
neither of us sure what we had found,
But both interested enough to want to find out,
I remember my first thought when I first actually saw you... "It's him!"

That mythical person who I had dreamt of, but I feared had eluded incarnation in the physical.
I'm not sure how I knew... But I did.
something about how you looked at me, convinced me you were actually seeing 'me'...
not my clothes or my journey fried hair or my day worn make-up, but me.

When you listened to me you really heard me,
More than that you really wanted to hear me,
Savouring my words as fleeting gifts,
As the conversation made the night pass too quick.

I couldn't believe the amount of small inconsequential things we shared,
Things too unique to be coincidence, that added to all the little voices in my head still whispering in awe... "Its him!"
OK, I'm sure lots of people love 'The Breakfast Club',
But how many of them also gave up reading 'Lord of the Rings' because they found it too boring and way too long winded?

I thought I had nothing to give you, but you found things to take anyway,
And then you showed them back to me as treasures,
And I know you see yourself as flawed, but your dents and scrapes fit perfectly round my own rough edges,
So to my imperfect eye you are flawless.

And then grew the fear, I knew if you chose to love me, your love could never hurt me.
But if I chose to love you, my love on the other hand, giving that away could kill me.
It almost had in the past, and I'm pretty sure it could in the future.
But... there were those voices... "It's him!"

And, now time has passed,
And though circumstance has endeavoured to keep us apart,
You want to know what tells me that it won't succeed forever?
That little voice, the one that in amazement whispered "It's him".

Monday, 29 August 2011

Album Review: Utopian Folk, Beneath the Oak

Beneath the Oak have nailed it with their album Utopian Folk. An album that perfectly suits it's name. They have taken the atmosphere and intimacy found in all good folk and used sweet vocals and harmonies to give it a modern chilled out feel. Although the album works fantastically as a whole, this doesn’t take away from the individual atmosphere and story-telling qualities of each song as an individual piece. Although not specifically a “Pagan Band” tracks like Winter and the Moon – (a personal favourite) – conjure imagery that will definitely please this audience. I can't recommend this album enough... I would also take up every opportunity to see the guys live!

To find out more about Beneath the Oak check out their Myspace and Facebook pages.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

How to Read Tea Leaves

The art of Tasseography is a form of divination via looking for symbols in tea leaves, coffee grounds, or more historically wine sediment. The practice really gained popularity in the UK during the Victorian era, and was often used as a type of parlour game.

Although there are many variations on the “ceremony” of drinking the tea and draining the cup, they all share a few similarities. After drinking the tea, the person wishing to gain answers from the reading will swirl the leaves, along with a small amount of the remaining tea 3 times. They will then up-end the cup onto a saucer. The person doing the reading will then meditate on the leaves left in the cup, looking for certain symbols. It is generally said that the nearer the rim the symbol is, the sooner it will happen.

Below I have listed some of the more common symbols, so why not have a go yourself.

Acorn - means material success, and growth. Can mean good health.

Anchor - stability, constancy, loyalty. If clouded can mean inconstancy or instability.

Apple - achievement, particularly work related. Can also indicate a long life or good health.

Arch - a journey. Or a desire growing and manifesting.

Axe - overcoming of difficulties, can indicate separation or division.

Baby - small worries, trouble cause by those close to you.

Ball - variable fortunes, things still undecided.

Bell - unexpected news, lots of bells can indicate a wedding.

Birds - good news, a message.

Boat - visit from a friend, protection or success in a new venture.

Book - if open means success and new information, if closed further information is needed and possible delays.

Butterfly - admiration, pleasure and joy. Can also mean fickleness and frivolity.

Candle - help from others, can indicate troubles and ill health.

Cat - deceit, trickery or treachery.

Chain - an engagement or wedding, if broken chain can indicate relationship troubles.

Chair - a guest or addition to the family.

Circle - success, a gift. With dots can mean a baby.

Cross – trouble or sacrifice.

Cup - rewarded for efforts, or a new opportunity.

Dagger - danger from others or yourself, can also indicate the need to take action.

Dish - disagreements and trouble at home.

Dog - faithful friend, may indicate a friend needs help, especially on bottom of cup.

Door - odd occurrence, can also indicate a new opportunity.

Egg - prosperity, new beginnings, can indicate a birth.

Eye - overcoming difficulties, insight. May mean the need for caution.

Face - a change, possibly setback. Many faces may indicate a gathering.

Fan - flirtation, attraction, indiscretion.

Feather - lack of concentration, inconsistency. Can also indicate finding courage.

Fence - limitations, barrier to success.

Fire - achievement and transformation, on bottom my mean acting in haste.

Fish - good fortune.

Flag - danger, a warning.

Forked Line - a decision or dilemma.

Gate - an opportunity, success in the future.

Goat - be mindful of enemies, (historically ill fortune at sea).

Grapes - happiness, fulfilment and abundance.

Hammer - hard work, overcoming obstacles.

Hand - if closed means an argument, if open means friendship, may mean an agreement or meeting, should be associated with symbols near it.

Harp - love, marriage, harmony.

Hat - good luck or improvement at work or a change in career.

Hawk - jealousy, an enemy is present.

Heart - love, trust, happiness.

Horseshoe - good luck or a happy marriage.

Hourglass - need to make decision quickly, delay in plans.

House - security, success or a new home.

Insect - minor issues that you can overcome quickly.

Jewels - gifts or wealth.

Kettles - illness, if on base may mean domestic troubles.

Kite - wishes coming true, can also warn of scandal and rumours.

Ladder - promotion and progress.

Leaf - new life or friends. Prosperity.

Lines - straight lines mean progress or a good journey,wavy lines mean uncertainty.

Lock - obstacles or loss of something you value.

Mountains - ambition, obstacles on the way to success.

Mouse - theft or trickery.

Mushroom - lovers quarrel or having to take a risk.

Nail - injustice or spite.

Oak - good luck, health, wealth.

Owl - ill fortune, financial hardship, a warning to exercise caution.

Pig - mixed blessings.

Pistol - danger & disaster.

Rabbit - a need to be brave.

Raven - bad news, disappointment.

Ring - marriage or a long term commitment, if broken can mean an engagement ending.

Rose - good luck, popularity and joy.

Scales - legal issues, if balanced means justice, if unbalanced injustice.

Scissors - arguments or separation.

Sheep - success, growth, an offer of help.

Shell - good news.

Ship - successful/fulfilling journey.

Shoe - a change of arrangements that will be very beneficial.

Snake - an enemy, be cautious.

Spider - reward for work, receiving money.

Spoon - generosity.

Star - good luck, happiness, hope.

Sun - happiness, success, growth and power.

Sword - arguments and rumours, if broken can mean the defeat of an enemy.

Table - social gatherings, meetings.

Tent - travel.

Thimble - changes in the home.

Tortoise - criticism or to try something new to you.

Tower - an opportunity or disappointment.

Tree - prosperity, happiness and situations improving.

Triangle - good fortune that is often unexpected.

Urn - happiness and wealth.

Vase - good health or a friend in need of help.

Volcano - emotional outbursts and strong emotional states.

Wasp - gossip and trouble.

Waterfall - prosperity.

Wheel - good fortune, particularly financial.

Wings - messages.

Wolf - jealousy or selfishness.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Blissful Anarchy

Lazy fingers trace each others silhouettes,
Amongst a patchwork of blankets, pillows and discarded clothes, we lie,
Flavoured with sweet smelling smoke, and even sweeter honey wine,
Our protest against the real world continues, as it has for days,
Within the silence we express the contentment of our shared emotions,
With no real need for words, we say everything that we need to,
Phones go unanswered, mail gets ignored.
Wind chimes muted behind closed curtains provide the soundtrack to our blissful, quiet anarchy,
Revelling in the sweetness of our defiance against “what we should be doing”,
Never wanting to leave and do anything else.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Loves Escape

Two separate prisons,
both existing in one place,

It became a happy incarceration,
We let falling in love pass the days,

What we had been calling circumstance,
We switched to calling fate,

Neither really sure how we existed,
Without the others embrace,

I was there when your walls crumbled,
But my own cage still remained,

So much elation on your face,
I rejoiced with you all the same,

As your light shone brighter,
For me you became harder to see,

Like a beacon growing stronger,
As you’re swept away to sea,

You swear that you’re not leaving me,
That it won’t be long before your return,

That when the sun dawns that day,
You will take me as your own,

I know you would never lie to me,
I believe your intentions to be true,

But I see how you love that freedom,
Through the bars I watch you through,

Don’t think that I resent you,
That I would rather take your place,

Having to leave your liberty,
To retrieve me from this cage,

And if you can’t make it back for me,
I can’t say you won’t face blame,

My heart would be too shattered,
To ever plan an escape again.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Save May Day! - Part Deux...

Ok it's been about a month since the first result of the letter writing... a rather prompt response from Buckingham Palace!
There were also letters sent to David Cameron and Nick Clegg. As you will recall from my first blog post, I was told the letter originally sent to The Queen was forwarded to one of her ministers.
Well, this morning I received two letters, from two government departments, one as a result of the letter to The Queen, and one as a result of the letter to Nick Clegg.
Although it appears we may have won the battle in saving May Day for a couple of years, the letter from Chris Green, of the DCMS indicates the war may not yet be over...

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Computer “Infections”... the latest scam!

Earlier today I got a call from 24seven PC Care, advising me that as a windows user my computer may have been subject to some “infection”. Oh-no I thought! “Is that like a virus?” I asked. “Oh, no,” I was told “these can not be picked up be any anti-virus software... this is not a virus... it's an infection.” “What like a malware infection?” I enquired. “Erm... yeah... things like that.”

Now being the natural sceptic that I am... and knowing my way round a PC I knew he was talking bull as much as he did... but just for sport... “So, how do I know if I have one of theses infections?” I asked.

Over the next 10 minutes the “customer advisor” aka salesman. Talked me through, in very simple step by step actions, accessing the applications history in the computers Run menu. He then proceeded to tell me that every 'warning' that appeared on there was one of these new “infections” trying to attack my computer. Now to me, because I kind of know what I'm doing, a warning file is just that a general 'warning' and not anything to be overly concerned about. But, had I not been a little tech savvy, I imagine this would have caused a lot of people to panic. But, that’s ok, because they will then talk you through going to their website and allowing one of their technicians to remotely scan your computer.

Now I was a little annoyed already because I could imagine how this call would have, entirely needlessly, struck fear into many of my friends and family members. So I informed them that I could not allow remote access to my computer as I worked from home and held information on there I could not risk anyone else accessing. “Oh but they can not access those files.” I was told “They simply scan the computer.” At which point I pointed out that if I granted them remote access to my PC, they could indeed do that. I was then told that because they have the Windows logo on their site, that meant they were partners of Microsoft, and I shouldn't worry about a thing. Oh well... as long as there's a picture on your website, that must mean everything's ok.

“So if I give you access to my PC, and you find any of these files, what happens then?” I asked, already knowing full well what the answer would be. “Then we can offer you full support and maintenance for just £76.”

Now, because I take online security fairly seriously, there's no way I was giving these people remote access to my PC. But, I'd bet my life on the fact they would have found one of these dangerous infections that required me to purchase there services.

Do not fall for these scams. Talk to less well experienced PC users you know, and make sure they do not fall for these scams. Stick with the tried and tested, reputable, online security products that don't rely on ill informed salesmen calling you and attempting to terrify you.

Saturday, 26 March 2011


I look at you fallen, your palace laid to waste.
But what did you expect? You built it with such haste.

Did you think it would last forever? That your luck would never run dry?
Did you realise when it did, it wouldn't be your tears that were cried?

Did you stop to consider those who'd stood firmly by your side?
Did you fail to notice them, as you pushed them aside?

You look for those that love you, and wonder where they are.
People can't be there for you, if you tear them apart.

You were so busy running everywhere, being everyone’s "best friend".
But where were you for those who needed you, those you had sworn to defend?

This place was once so happy, full of laughter, love and song.
Now an empty pile of memories, with you wondering what went wrong.

The meek that you once courted, that you could manipulate, have grown.
Your neglect has made them stronger, they have struck out on their own.

The rich man is he who sees value in everything he has,
Never takes things for granted, assuming it all will last.

The poor man neglects his trinkets, as he is always seeking more,
Not taking time to see the treasures, but what comes easy is often flawed.

Those flaws become more obvious, as the days wear on.
You have to start from scratch again, always moving on.

Maybe it will be these ruins that finally speak to you.
Make you change your ways, your intentions true.

Or could this be your last battle, maybe you have no more fight,
Maybe you'll slip from this world, as day turns into night.

But I will not judge too harshly, when I remember how you did me wrong,
For I was the meek you, inadvertently, turned so strong.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Ostara Photo's

These are a collection of photos that I shot around the National Park between Wylam and Prudhoe.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Save May Day!

Ok, this issue has been rattling round for a while now! Basically in a move to "extend the British tourist season" the ConDems have decided it would be a peachy idea to move May Day (aka Beltane) - Yes... seriously!
Well as you can imagine no-one, least of all the pagan community is very happy about this, including me. So what did I do? Well first of all there have been a couple of good online petitions and campaigns set up;
so I signed up to these straight away. I then thought about writing to MP's, but then thought... 'wait... instead of starting with my local MP and working up... lets start at the top and work down.'
Now as we all know, if you want a job done properly, talk to a woman...
Ok, now on to Cameron and Clegg!
to be continued...

Monday, 28 February 2011

Anti-witchcraft propaganda: Wicca & Witchcraft: Understanding the dangers, by Elizabeth Dodd

On the 18th of January 2011, The Catholic Truth Society published a book by Elizabeth Dodd entitled “Wicca & Witchcraft: Understanding the dangers.” It’s lack of research and outright inaccuracy caused no surprise amongst the magical community. Nor did the lazy, bigoted, band wagon jumping article it inspired from journalist, (and I use the word ‘journalist’ as a job title rather then any kind of accurate description), Damian Thompson of The Telegraph. The booklet was also mentioned in The Daily Mail, though in this case I’m please to report Simon Cauldwell provided a ‘to the point’ non-bias piece.

Now it’s fair to say that most people are well aware that the catholic church is not the greatest fan of witchcraft. It’s also fair to say that most people would expect them to try and bring those of other faiths over to Catholicism. The pagan and wiccan community have come to accept a certain level of lazy journalistic endeavours over the years. And, expect anything published by The Catholic Truth Society to be preach Catholicism as the only true path to happiness. But, there’s a few things about this publication that have really caused stirrings of outrage.

Firstly there are claims within the book that are just outright incorrect. Such as, Wicca is mainly practiced by young girls. A ridiculous claim with no evidence, (probably because none exists), to back it up. There are also some of the fantastically ludicrous statements that have been made by Dodd since the publication began getting attention and criticism. Statements such as;

“I can understand why a discussion of ‘the dangers’ of Wicca might seem persecutory. But Wicca is a potentially dangerous religion – I’m sure many Wiccans would agree. The threefold law implies danger – cast a negative spell and three times’ the negativity comes back to you.”

Yeah, almost as dangerous as eternal torture in a fiery pit for breaking the rules.

Though Dodd does let slip the true point of this exercise eventually;

“From my research, Wiccans are frequently young people. Sometimes it feels like that’s a demographic the Church is missing.”

So the fact the whole congregation only have their pensions to live on is starting to hit the collection plates is it? I’m guessing younger people are also more likely to click the ‘donate’ button on The Catholic Truth Society’s website.

I also think it’s fair to say that catholic organisations are probably amongst the least qualified people in the world to be handing out advice on ensuring young impressionable people are protected, and not led into dangerous situations.

Of course The Catholic Truth Society have been trying to ride the wave of attention to their advantage. Dismissing any protests and criticism they say;

“What began as a small document to inform Catholics about the realities of Wicca … appears to have re-ignited the persecution complex among Wiccans that I was hoping to diffuse.”

What they don’t seem to realise is when people ask you to justify something you’ve stated as fact, telling them they have a complex is not going to stop them asking the questions. And the more of them you can’t come up with an answer to, the less credibility you have.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Plants and Magic

Plants form an integral part of magic, as they have throughout history. The use of herbal medicines go back thousands of years, and over those thousands of years the way herbs and plants are used and the people with access to them has grown and diversified.
Within witchcraft they are commonly used by being turned into incense or burnt as smudge sticks, to decorate places and altars and as ingredients within potions or meals to celebrate Sabbats and Esbats.

As the demand for plants with magical associations grows, so does the number of retailers that stock them. It is important to check that wherever you purchase any magical items, you ensure they have been grown or manufactured in a sustainable, organic way.

Of course, in an ideal world everyone would all grow and harvest their own herbs, or forage for wild ones. If you do decide to go down the route of growing your own, it is recommended that you use a book or calendar that details key dates in the lunar cycle, in order to gain maximum magical energy. Many practitioners have found that gardening is a magical ritual in itself. If it’s not something you have done before it is certainly worth trying.

If you decide to collect plants and herbs from the wild please be respectful of where you collect them from and give something back; collect seed pods from that area and scatter them to help the area grow. It goes without saying that rare or protected plants should never be removed from their habitats.

There are many sources of information available for the different ways in which you can use plants and herbs in spells and rituals. ‘The Book of Magical Herbs: Herbal History, Mystery, & Folklore’ by Margaret Picton and Michelle Pickering is a popular choice. It is a beautiful book that provides information on the history and folklore surrounding the everyday plants and herbs found in kitchens and gardens.

If you want a big no-nonsense sourcebook to look up the properties of a wide range of different herbs, you would be hard pushed to find a better book than ‘The Herb Book: The Complete and Authoritative Guide to More Than 500 Herbs’ by John B Lust. Another good book, and firm favourite amongst the magical community is ‘Cunningham's Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs’ by Scott Cunningham.

There are also countless websites that provide information on this subject matter. An important point to remember is that whenever you read about magical correspondences associated with plants, that they will be slightly different for everyone. The more you work with plants, the more your instincts for what will work where, will grow.

For an article about specific magical plant correspondences click here.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Is Astrology a religion?

Prof. Brian Cox has inadvertently caused debate recently. He was presenting 'Stargazing Live' on BBC2 when he shared his views on astrology stating “astrology is nonsense.” As you can imagine this caused quite an uproar amongst astrologers. It caused The Astrological Association of Great Britain to start a petition to force a public apology out of the BBC, as part of their campaign for fair representation of astrology in the media.

The incident in general has raised an interesting question. Does astrology form part of any religious belief systems? And therefore be afforded that level of respect.

Astrology and ancient religions certainly went hand in hand. The history of astrology is usually traced back to the Babylonians, whose religious leaders would use it as a way to try and determine the will of the Gods. To really form an opinion on if astrology can be considered a religious practice, we need to look at how we classify religion. The Oxford English Dictionary provides the following definition;

[mass noun]

the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power , especially a personal God or gods.

[count noun] a particular system of faith and worship.

[count noun] a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion.

I think the two definitions that are the most relevant here are the last two. There is no doubt that some people put a great deal of faith in astrological prediction, having personal charts professionally created in order to plan their year ahead. There are also a great many people following Earth Based religions that hold lunar, solar and planetary movement as an integral part of their beliefs.

Today astrology is often viewed by people as made-up paragraphs from the back pages of gossip magazines. But, whether or not you believe it has any real value in it's predictions, you can not deny it's history, or that it's place in modern culture is many and varied. To some people astrology will play an important part in their life, but does this mean it should be exempt from ridicule?

Some people will instantly react to this question with “Yes, you should be free to believe whatever you like as long as it doesn't hurt anyone.” Generally I agree, but in practice things get a little more difficult. Would someone walking down a street with a placard stating any given religion “is wrong” be acceptable? No, it would probably cause a riot. In the same situation would the words “astrology is wrong” inspire a riot, I doubt it, but no doubt the person with the placard would get a few angry glances and cause a little upset to some. This leads me to the conclusion that although astrology is important for some it is a practice or a tool, not a way to live your life. Some people believe it helps them, and like to incorporate elements of it into their spiritual life, but it is not a spiritual basis in it's own right.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Reducing Energy Costs

With household bills on the increase, everyone is looking to save money on the essentials. One of the biggest outgoings of any household is energy bills. Managing and ultimately reducing your gas and electric bills can be achieved two ways.

The first of these ways is to reduce the energy you use. This can be simple things like not leaving appliances on standby over night, and unplugging mobile phone and laptop chargers when they are not in use. There are various 'standby saver' devices on the market that can help you do this. It's also worth making yourself aware of exactly how much energy some of your appliances use. For example, although a hair-drier is a small hand held appliance, it uses a lot of electricity. Home energy monitors can be a really useful tool in helping you do this. A lot of the changes you make can be very small but have a big impact, there is some fantastic free advice available from places like the energy saving trust to help you.

The other way to save money on your energy bills is to make sure you are getting the best deal. Choosing an energy supplier can be difficult. With every company out there telling you they are the best value for money, how do you really know who to go to for the best deal. This is where online comparison websites come in. There are quite a few of these around including uSwitch.com, moneysupermarket.com and energyhelpline.com. When using these sites it's best to have one of your current utility bills to hand as they will ask you a few questions about your current usage and tariff in order to give you accurate information.

For an even better deal, do not use these sites to actually change your supplier. Yes, you did read that correctly. There are sites out there that will give you cash back just for switching via their sites. Once you have determined who the cheapest supplier is and which one of their plans you need to be on to save the most money, make a note of it and go find yourself a good cash back website. One of the best and most recommended ones in the UK is Greasy Palm, but there are many to choose from and they are easily found via any online search. Once you have set up your account on a cashback site, simply go and find the energy supplier you need in their lists and make the switch.

Completing these steps can save you hundreds of pounds a year, so what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Agnes Waterhouse

Agnes Waterhouse (also known as Mother Waterhouse) was the first person in England to receive the death sentence for witchcraft from a secular court.
She stood trial alongside two other women, her daughter Joan Waterhouse and Elizabeth Francis. This trail marked the first of the Chelmsford witch trials, that took place in Essex in the late 16th century.

Agnes was accused of consorting with Satan in the form of a white spotted cat. The cat was given to her by Elizabeth Francis, who also instructed her on how to care for him in order to gain things she desired. Agnes was said to have first used the cat, who she openly called Satan, to seek revenge on neighbours she had disputes with. This usually took the form of killing their livestock. Example of this mentioned at the trial include killing some pigs belonging to a Farther Kersey, and drowning a cow belonging to a Widow Gooday. She confessed to rewarding Satan for his help by feeding him chicken and drops of her blood.

She also faced the very serious accusation of causing death through the use of witchcraft. She was said to have called on Satan for help ridding her of a neighbour and his wife with whom she had had a disagreement. She was also accused of having Satan dispatch with her own husband.

As well as taking the form of a cat, Satan was said to have later taken the form of a toad at Agnes's request. When Joan gave evidence she said that he had come to her in the form of a black dog.

Agnes also testified that Satan had foretold she would meet a death of burning or hanging.

Although Joan Waterhouse confessed to calling on Satan to help her scare a neighbour she had fallen out with, and being aware of her mothers use of him, she was found not guilty. Elizabeth Francis confessed to being the original owner of Satan and was found guilty of practising witchcraft, she received a sentence of one year imprisonment. However, in 1579 she was brought back to court on further charges, for these she was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Agnes was found guilty and sentenced to death. On they day that she was due to be hung she made a further confession. Shortly before going to gallows she told how she had tried to kill another neighbour, Wardol. She said she had sent Satan to kill him but Satan had returned to her and said he was unable to do so. When she asked Satan why he told her that it was due to Wardol's strength of faith in God. Agnes went to meet her death repenting and calling on God for forgiveness.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Cornish Cunning Folk

Cunning men and cunning woman form part of Cornwall’s rich history of mythology and folklore. They were known as skilled seers and those of high reputation were in high demand. People would seek them out in order to help find lost items and heal illnesses. They were in high demand during the 'Witch Trials' that swept most of Europe, despite being magical practitioners themselves. As much as witches were painted as evil beings seeking to cause harm and chaos, cunning folk were seen as the positive side of magical practices. Often if someone believed they had become a target of a witch, they're first port of call would be to a cunning man or cunning woman. They were also employed by the authorities to help find witches and other criminals.

The type of magic practised by cunning folk often consisted of charms and amulets. One of the best known being Charm Bags which were small sewn bags containing written charms or magical powders. There is also Stroking Stones, that were special charmed stones that were used for healing. Of course there is a long list of artefacts connected with cunning folk, ranging from Snail Beads to Cauldrons and everything in between. There are a few good sources of further information of these online.

There have been some very well known cunning folk throughout history, arguably the best known being Granny Boswell. She was born in 1813 (though some believe this date is incorrect) in Ireland, but spent most of her adult life in Helston, where she lived with her husband Ephraim. She was well know for her foresight and the magical skills she acquired through her Romany heritage. She was also known as a troublemaker. During some elections a car was being used to ferry voters to the local polling station. As it was driving down the street an elderly and somewhat drunk Granny Boswell wandered into the road. The driver beeped the horn and loudly shouted at her to get out of the way. She didn't take kindly to this and stood in the middle of the road cursing the car and throwing verbal abuse at the driver. When she finished her rant she stepped out of the road and the car pulled away. The car made it only a few yards before coming to a halt, the car that had been running perfectly minutes before was found to have a very badly damaged engine and had to be towed away.