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Monday, 31 December 2012

"Happy" New Year...

It seems the fates have conspired to grant me a somewhat quiet New Years Eve, but maybe after the last year stopping to take a breath might not be such a bad thing!

This time last year, I was gearing up to publish some new titles in the Spring, Hedge Witchery Books had continued to tick along nicely and I just hood-winked Ricky into doing some work with me to help me keep up with the admin side of things. As far as my psychic readings went I was doing pretty well, though having a few moral dilemmas over some of the commercial aspects of it. I had also arranged to teach a few courses and workshops, some of you will know this is something I always said I wouldn't do. Not because I didn't want to, but because I doubted my public speaking issues would allow it.

Outside of my working life things had been chaotic but had calmed down. We had just been moved into a new flat as a bit of an emergency following a run it with the worlds sh*ttyist landlord., it wasn't perfect... but it felt like home for the time being.

So The kids were great and enjoying home schooling, we had a new home, everything all in all was going pretty well.

So on this day 12 months ago, I was looking forward and planning on a course of action for decorating my flat, getting stuck into planning more events, and generally being pretty happy with life, and I was happy. The few years prior had been fairly cr*p, not all the time, but it did often feel like brief periods of rest bite between disasters. However, thanks to a mix of terminal optimism, coffee, good friends and some carefully selected medication, I had achieved "happy".

Sometimes... f*ck it - Most of the time "Happy" is an achievement. You have to decide that's what you want to be, and go looking for it. Sometimes it means walking away from a steady job and risking rack-and-ruin working for yourself. Sometimes it means having faith in something despite all logic and reason. Sometimes it means emotionally walking off a cliff, falling to your death, then picking yourself up and saying "right lets try that again shall we!"

But here's the wonderful part... the part I discovered this year. Once you get that first spark of "Happy" it starts to spread, infecting your life with little flames of contentment without you really realising it.

Over the past 12 months my life has been awesome... there have been a few glitches and challenges... but they all seem to land us in a better place than we were before. I started the year by hosting some workshops, my nerves didn't interrupt them too much and I went on to book a lot more. Gordon moved back to the UK in the Spring and we decided to meet-up as friends, trying to be all nonchalant and cool and all that bullsh*t... which lasted for all of... oh, about, 3 hours! And, so the little trail of flames grew.

So as I type this post, staring down the barrel of 2013. I am sat in our beautiful house, in a remote village in the Northumberland/Scottish borders, planning a kick-ass handfasting to a ridiculously lovable bushcraft instructor, I have an almost-publish-able second book and tarot deck, two very contented children and a 2013 diary full of "work" that will surround us with fantastic people in wonderful places, and, I would like to very sincerely wish you all a "Happy" New Year.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Environmental Debates within Paganism

Environmental issues have always been close to the hearts of many Pagans. This is probably because Pagans generally believe we sprang from the earth rather than being placed on it, they celebrate the divinity in the natural world.

However, that doesn’t mean they agree on environmental issues.

One of the longest running debates on this is, what I’m going to call: “The Vegetarian/Vegan Debate”. The pro-vegetarian/vegan camp argues that animals are as much a part of the earth as we are, and shouldn’t be eaten or commercially farmed. Their cause is further strengthened by the large levels of global emissions produced by commercial farming of meat products which is a huge contributory factor to global warming.

However, there is a counter argument to these beliefs which is no less compelling. Meat loving Pagans would argue that, humans are natural omnivores, the Gods don’t want us to stop eating roast beef anymore than they would want foxes to stop catching rabbits. A lot of them also point to the fact that the manufacture of soya products -(a popular meat/dairy substitute)- is causing real lasting damage to the environment, and the “food miles” associated with this , often GM, food source are a real environmental concern.

This issue is further complicated by the fact that soya is used in animal feed, so whilst the vegetarian/vegan camp shout “That shoots down your argument!” the meat eaters shout “That means we need to support the meat industry so farmers can afford more organic feeds”… And around and around we go.

Another topic that has led to some heated discussions is the proposed badger cull. A large part of the Pagan community dashed straight to the petition websites and on to social media, trying to stop the cull from ever happening. In their view badgers are native to the UK and they enjoy a protected status that should remain very much in place. They pointed to TB vaccines as an obvious reason as to why these culls simply were not needed. A lot of them saying that mankind has meddled with wildlife far too much and it should be left alone to recover.

However, there’s another point of view on this too. Some Pagans would point to the fact that the vaccine isn’t totally effective, and that the -(although limited)- evidence we do have, points to the fact that cases of TB do fall in areas where culls have been used. They also remind us that this isn’t an issue that just effects commercial farmers, and it shouldn’t just be about TB, many small holders who are at the fighting front of self-sufficiency and eco-living are devastated by livestock being attacked and killed by badgers. Although we my not like the idea of mankind meddling with wildlife, unfortunately we’ve been doing just that for centuries and we need to take responsibility for our own mess. Many other wild animal species are culled to help stabilise and maintain their population, why not badgers… And around and around we go.

Some people will read this article as a complaint, please don’t. If anything it is the opposite. One of the reasons I’m so proud to be part of the Pagan community is that they actually care enough to bother to inform themselves and form opinions they can stand behind, which ever side of the fence that opinion may be on.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Treasuring our naivety

I spent last weekend at a large MBS event at the Olympia in London. This was a much bigger event than we normally attend, and put me in contact with an entirely different set of people. Lots of the people approaching the stall were drew by the name "Hedge Witchery Books", and not having had any contact with witchcraft before wanted to know all about it. Answering their questions put me in a somewhat reflective mood, not about witchcraft or Hedge-Witchery, but about learning, knowledge and our attitude to it.

You see, unsurprisingly, there are lots of things I do differently after 10 years plus of magical/pagan practise than I did in my first few years. Had I started the websites and business now rather than then, I may have chosen to call it Haegtessa, to avoid the modern misconceptions of the practise. I may have written about the moons and festivals differently, tying them to the natural calender I now use, rather than the Gregorian one I used to, and still refer to in articles and beginners books. But in some ways I'm very thankful I started the site and business whilst I was still a little more green.

Way back when I was first starting out on this path, there is no way I could have worked to an entirely natural calender... it would have baffled me. There's no way I could have pronounced Old-English terms and charms... let alone used them. There's no way I would have felt comfortable using different names for festivals and celebrations, to the majority of people on a similar path to me... let alone go into details as to why the ones I use seem more appropriate.

Now I'm meeting people in the same position, just starting down their paths and looking for few helpful sign-posts and a way to make the journey easier.

Some people will say that I should only pass on the practises I practise now, that the reason I have evolved my practises over the years was because what I learnt earlier on was "incorrect" or "modern mis-teaching"... or in the case of one writer I had this debate with recently "uneducated". However, as all spiritual and magical practises have a personal relevance to each individual, this is not the case.

Hedge-Witchery.com has always been a "beginner friendly" site... and it always will be. Although we've recently started providing resources for people a little further down there path with the online and in person courses, we'll never -(I hope!)- lose the way absolute new-comers can jump into the beginners articles and books and find a way to practise that they can easily relate to and fit into their lives.

The lessons I learnt and the way I practised in the past is what enabled me to be comfortable and build skills in my path and what led me to where I am now. Had I not learnt those lessons I would not have learnt all the ones that followed. You will no doubt meet writers who have turned the first lessons they learnt, and the people who still pracise them, into negative things that they now point to as "inaccurate", wielding them like hammers to be thrown at new-comers they find disdainful and un-deserving of their self-supposed advanced knowledge, but, in my humble opinion, you should pay them no heed.

I will always hold onto the terms and practises I learnt in my more naive days, although I may not use them in all situations, they are still very relevant. They hold a certain magic of their own, a kind personal to me, a kind of energy that relates to wonder, excitement, curiosity and a desire to learn more. Who knows, another 10 years down my path and the terms and practises I use now may hold the same magic.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Powerful Magic...

A few different things this week led me to thinking about "powerful" magic. Story books are full of illustrations of Mages surrounded by whirl-winds of fire and ice, changing the very fabric of the universe... but how does this translate to real witchcraft and modern magical practices?

I started by asking some friends "What is the most powerful magic spell/ritual you know of?" I received a range of answers. A few people said they were the personal ones that cause an emotional/spiritual shift. Some said the most powerful magic is that which happens naturally, like falling in love or life itself. Someone said it's the rituals that seem to write them selves, flowing naturally from your lips or pen. Others looked to ancient magical text, such as the Abra-Melin.

Obviously there is no definitive answer to this, it's really dependant on what you view as powerful. But, I've thought on this for a while and came to a rather unexpected conclusion.

For me powerful magic has three main ingredients:
   - Focused intent
   - A historical/ancestral connection, a pre-set pattern of some sort that magical energies are already imprinted on.
   - Utter un-questioning belief in what you are doing.

No-one can focus on what they want more than a child, desired objects and outcomes are decided on instantaneously, almost instinctively. When they decide they want something, they really want it.

Since 1940 a man named Walt planted a singing cricket and mis-guided puppet into the hearts of generations of children... and a ritual to be repeated a hundred times a night, all over the world was born... and the innocence of childhood, and instinctive knowledge of magic means there is not a doubt in their minds that their wish will go un-noticed.

I cast my most powerful magical spell aged about 4 in order to conjure a new doll!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Running

Run, child, run.
Run at the world, without restraint.
Run into life.
Grab it up.
Be greedy for it.
There is no limit on it, it will not run out.
Hold it close.
Dance in it.
Twirl and swirl as you marvel at it.


One day you'll stop to catch your breath.
Look back in wonder at the dance you led.
See someone’s swirled into your path, and start to dance with them.

Run together,
Hold each other,
Help each other snatch up joy.
Take on the world together,
Take all you can,
Share it all,
Share everyday,
Fall even more in love,
A little more each day.

One day you'll stop to lie and rest.
Look back upon the life you've led.
And be thankful that you never stopped running, hand in hand.


Monday, 30 April 2012

Letting the witch out of the bottle... a load of tosh!

Today I awake and flick on the laptop to once again be greeted by a "journalist" full of steam, bluster and wholly inaccurate facts. Todays buffoon is Christopher Howse, and it's his article "Letting the witch out of the bottle" that has led to the annoyance of myself, and so many others.

Well the few paragraphs arn't even worth responding to as they are just cut and paste quotes taken from other poorly researched articles written by people as bigoted and prejudice as he is.

He goes on...
"So it seems there are now two kinds of witchcraft: the bad kind that black people believe in, and the kind that should be celebrated because it is believed in by Cornish people" 

No, there is one type of witchcraft, that is celebrated and practised as a folk custom by some and as part of a spiritual path -(often Paganism)- by others. Unfortunately some people take the term "Witchcraft" and apply it to horrific atrocities as some sort of self justification. The same way the good name of many religions are dragged through the mud by certain individuals and minority groups that either take some of it's beliefs and twist them beyond recognition, or simply think "that looks like a good label to justify our actions".

"The other problem is that if paganism is taught alongside the religion that children’s parents practise at home, it implies that paganism is a religion just as well-founded as Presbyterianism or Islam." 

I think a Christian arguing that a pre-Christian religion is less well founded is hilarious. In the 2001 census 30,569 people listed their faith as Pagan, a further 7,227 as Wiccan, and a further 1,657 as Druid. Not only are the numbers expected to have increased significantly since then, but the original figures are thought to under estimate the actual numbers of Pagans in the UK. On the 2001 census many Pagans listed their individual pagan path rather than "Pagan" as a representation of their faith group. The Pagan Federation got behind the Pagan Dash campaign to address this issue, so all in all the latest census results are expected to show much higher figures.

Christianity is indeed still shown as the biggest religion in the UK, however although in the 2001 census 72% of the population listed themselves as Christian, British Social Attitude results show that around half of these people do not actually practise the faith, and it is simply what they write on forms.

"But nobody knows what standing stones represent. The astronomical, social, ritual, pacific or bloody uses they might have had are lost in prehistory. They might have been linked with spring flowers or with human sacrifice. No one knows.
What we do know is that there is no continuity between pre-Christian religions in Britain and the various branches of modern paganism."

Erm, again, no. Nobody knows the exact practises surrounding a lot of ancient sites, that is very, very true. But the investment of time and resources studying pre-christian culture in the UK certainly seems to be on the rise... my "to read" pile of books on pre-christian religious practises is certainly on the rise. As these are not un-substantiated books written by "Princess Rainbow Moondove" these are textbooks written by historians.Of course eradicating Paganism from the education of future generations will help to slow that, and might help keep your collection plates topped up, wouldn't it?


All in all the article is just another ill informed rant by a bigot in the guise of an actual journalist.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Head-F*ck Love

I'm a busy, busy woman,
With lots & lots to do,
So how is it I spend all day doing naught but think of you?

I'm a very busy woman,
I have lots of things to do,
But my ever working mind is halted, reminiscing about you.

You're not ever here right now,
It really is absurd,
My industrious little conscience is going totally unheard.

I try to be so logical,
I really, really do,
But every time I turn around there’s some reminder there of you.

I'm a clever, clever woman,
And of one fact I am sure,
This just isn't normal I should surely seek a cure.

I'm a busy, busy woman,
With lots of  things to do,
But all I want, from everyday, is to have spent it all with you.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Double Edged Love

Like footsteps growing heavier, as they come down the hall,
You're ever nearing presence, causes my emotional freefall,
I know I shouldn't want you, that my loyalty is misplaced,
But my resolve will disappear, the second I see your face,

You said my place was in your heart, and always on your mind,
But I was just a convenient bed, a way to pass the time,
A loving little rest stop, whilst you had nothing better to do,
I don't know why you  make-believe, that I was anything more to you,

You didn’t have to lie to me, we could have just had fun,
You didn’t have to kill me, with a promise loaded gun,
As your footsteps get louder, I wait to see if they stop at my door,
Both dreading & craving, the sight of you once more.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Book Review: The Book of Mirrors, by Luthaneal Adams

Ok, I don't normally do book reviews for people I know. This is because I take books very seriously and I would never give a bad book a good review. I'm also a very loyal friend and would never want to do anything that would not be 100% supportive. As you can see how these two things might conflict with each other, I decided "I will not review friend's books" was a good general rule to live by. 
However, when one of your closest friends, who you love dearly plays an absolute blinder and writes an absolute frickin' "must read" as their debut book, you kind of feel the need to shout about it... So on with the review...

***
The Book of Mirrors’ is quite a unique book… actually it’s a very unique book, the likes of which I've never read before. The market for Wiccan books is huge, as is the shear number of titles out there, so for Luthaneal Adams to pull out this absolute gem as his debut is astounding.

The book blurb gives potential readers an insight into what sets this book apart from the rest of it’s genre:

“The aim of this book is to help people who find themselves training with a witch coven or just considering it. The author concentrates on his experiences, rather than trying to pad out those experiences with a lot of general information on Wicca. There are already enough books on the market that provide the basics of Wiccan belief. This book opens a window into the process of training with a coven, both for the prospective trainees and for all those covens out there who may benefit from seeing things from the other side.”

My main concern when reading the above text on the back cover of a book would be that I was about to invest in reading page after page of dramatic emotional self exploration, which although interesting would offer little in the way of practical advice to anyone. However nothing could be further from the truth.

What ‘The Book of Mirrors’ actually does is present the road to initiation in a very honest, relatable way. This book is not preachy on any level, in fact it devotes as much time to the doubts, reservations and disappointments of the author, as it does the rewards and spiritual benefits.

In the interests of giving a balanced review I always try and give some criticism of books, but in this case the only one I can honestly give is that it occasionally makes the reader feel slightly guilty. The type of guilt you feel when encroaching on someone’s privacy, looking at them a little too intensely, or reading their diary. In reality, this is something that the author should receive absolute praise for.

‘The Book of Mirrors’ is written entirely without ego, it is honest and it wholly endears the reader to the author.


I honestly can't see a way in which 'The Book of Mirrors', won't become essential reading for every would-be initiate and coven leader. If you are interested in Wicca, read this book. If you are part of a coven, read this book. If you have Wiccan friends/family, read this book.







Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Catch up...

Hello,
        Thought I'd put up a quick post as it's been a hectic time lately and I've been unusually quiet on here!
Well, on a personal level we had a car crash and a house move to contend with just before Yule, and although things are pretty much settled down now, things are still as busy as ever!

       I'm just about keeping www.Hedge-Witchery.com up to date, and am in the process of bringing back the "Rocemmended Books" page. Hedge Witchery Books, is growing, we've got some fantastic new titles and some new writer coming on board, and even with Ricky joining the team things are mega busy, expect a website over-haul and some great new titles soon.

      Hedge Witchery Tarot, launched last month and we - (ok Ricky) - is in the process of making contact with all the psychics who've expressed an interest in joining the team. We're still looking for webcam psychics but expect to see the cool wall of live video streams - (and yes you can chat to them all at once... for free, lol) - to be growing soon.

     The follow up the Elemental Guided Meditation I released last summer is well in the works and should be being released around the end of February. The next handy little guide I'm writing, on divination using symbols through medative states, will land around June.

     We're hitting as many events as we can this Summer, there's an events page on Hedge-Witchery.com that they'll all get put on, and I'm hoping to catch up with as many people as possible. However, in order to do that the next few months will have to be spent firmly behind my computer desk... although I'm not complaining, the manuscripts I have the great pleasure of publishing are fantastic, and working with the writers who created them is an absolute pleasure.

    If I'm off facebook for more than 3 days, send caffiene!

Lily x

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Is there such a thing as a Pagan Atheist?

First of all we should establish what the term “Pagan Atheist” means. Let's break down that title into it's respective components, and look at their definitions in modern English:

“pa·gan
n.
1. An adherent of a polytheistic religion in antiquity, especially when viewed in contrast to an adherent of a monotheistic religion.
2. A Neopagan.
3. Offensive
a. One who has no religion.
b. An adherent of a religion other than Judaism, Christianity, or Islam.
4. A hedonist.”

“a·the·ist
n.
One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.”

(definitions take from www.thefreedictionary.com)

Looking at the information above we can ration that Pagan Atheist may indeed be an accurate description of someone who holds hedonistic values and believes in no god(s). However, as this term seems to be appearing more and more this is often not the way in which it is used.

If you run the term “pagan atheist” through a search engine you'll find many different definitions and views.

One of the common ones is that it describes people who view pagan gods as metaphors for the different forces of nature that they do worship. Although they very much atheist, in so much that they do not worship a god or gods. But, are they Pagan? Well if we look at the top two definitions above then, no they aren't. The worship of nature as the divine is not Paganism, it's a belief system called Pantheism, however some people shy away from this term as some sources define it as meaning “worshipping all gods” rather than “worshipping the god in all”. Some people also dislike the term because in most definitions the term “god” is used, however it does not imply a “creator god” or powerful beings, it refers to a divine force. A similar belief system is Animism which although doesn’t denote the belief in a god figure, but refers to the belief that all things in nature have a spiritual side and all have a “soul”.

Another common view is that “Pagan Atheist” refers to someone who although doesn’t believe in Pagan god(s), classes themselves as Pagan on a cultural level, and lives there life in a way that holds to Pagan ideals. Although this doesn't strictly fit with a dictionary definition, to me this makes sense. Many people will describe themselves as Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, etc. Not as a way of identifying their beliefs, but as a way of describing their heritage. With the rise in Paganism, and more children being brought up in Pagan families, this is a use of the term I feel we will see more of in years to come.

What these two examples illustrate is that “Pagan Atheist” is a perfectly suitable term for describing someone’s culture, heritage and values. However, it is not - (in my humble opinion) - an accurate description of a spiritual path or religion.