Tag Archives: gerald gardner

Pagan and Spiritual Book Round-Up December 2015

naturalmagicNatural Magic, Doreen Valiente

Doreen Valiente is one of the most important figures in Paganism, so I thought it was important to read her works. Despite its title, Natural Magic is not so much about working with nature as it is a little guidebook to various aspects of witchcraft, including herbs, working with the four elements, and sexual magic. Valiente’s writing style is lively and engaging (it reminds me a little of Rae Beth), although I felt that this book was a bit of a slow start – this might simply be because I’ve now read quite a few introductory books on witchcraft and much of the content is similar. It’s worth persevering though as there’s lots of interesting content – for me, the highlights were the sections on talismans, dream magic, weather magic, and cartomancy using ordinary playing cards. It is quite a slim read though, and more experienced witches will probably chew their way through it very quickly. Probably best for beginners.

WitchcraftToday60 Witchcraft Today – 60 Years On, ed. Trevor Greenfield
**Book of the Month!**

This book was released in celebration of the 60th anniversary of Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft Today, one of the most important Wiccan texts, as a documentation of how far witchcraft has evolved in those 60 years. Admittedly I still haven’t read Witchcraft Today so I was worried that this book might contain a lot of analysis of the original that would go straight over my head, but in fact, aside from the introduction, 60 Years On does not really talk about the original. It is instead a collection of short essays by individuals within witchcraft (some well-known, some unknown), talking about their particular path and what it means to them. Although this book lacks practical information (it isn’t intended to be a reference book for magic or for factual information about different forms of witchcraft), I found it inspiring. I enjoyed all the individual approaches displayed by each author – not only in their practise of witchcraft itself, but also in their writing style. Each account is personal, idiosyncratic, and honest. My favourite essay was probably Rick Derks’ description of Hekatean Witchcraft; not only am I particularly drawn to Hekate, but I found this the best-written out of all the essays, with an excellent bibliography to help out those looking to find out more about Hekate. I also found the section on Dianic Wicca fascinating, specifically because this form of radical feminist Wicca is the least known to me. I’ve never met anyone from this path so it was interesting to be able to find out more about what Dianic Wiccans think about their path. Finally, it was great to see that Kevin Groves, a fellow member of Medway Pagans, had also contributed to this book! It was a great reminder that, although Paganism continues to grow all the time, it’s still quite an intimate and friendly community. Witchcraft Today – 60 Years On succeeds well in celebrating Gardner’s legacy, and gives a fantastic insight into the personal thoughts and feelings of contemporary witches.

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June Full Moon Ritual 2014 – and an extraordinary encounter

Juno

Friday night saw a rare occurrence – a Full Moon on Friday 13th, and more so, a “Honey Moon” (a slightly more yellowy moon than normal). Like many Goths, I actually like Friday 13th – while some may see it as unlucky, others may see it as simply a time that the darker energies are heightened. For this reason, I again thought it would be fitting to honour the dark goddess Hecate once again. Additionally it also seemed very appropriate to pay tribute to the goddess Juno: June is her month, and the following day was a friend’s wedding (not to mention that next month is my own wedding!), and Juno is seen as a goddess of marriage. I prayed to Hecate for general protection and good health, as well as honouring the spirit of Gerald Gardner, father of modern witchcraft who additionally was born on June 13th. To Juno, I prayed for happiness and good luck with both my friend’s and my own marriage. As always, I followed my ritual with a prayer to Inari Okamisama, who may also be seen as a good omen for weddings due to the duality of her fox messengers, her symbolism as a deity of prosperity, and the role of foxes in Japanese folklore about marriage (they say that rain falling on a sunny day means a vixen is getting married).

Once again, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat spiritually detached during the ritual – as usual, there were so many distractions outside, such as rowdy people walking home from the nearby pub and the neighbours parking in the driveway. What’s more, the buildings surrounding my house and its orientation meant that I couldn’t see the Full Moon again. But then, something incredibly magickal happened that really gave the ritual incredible significance.

When I was returning from placing offerings of garlic (for Hecate) and honey (for Juno) at the nearby crossroads, I saw a fox on the road before me, look at me straight in the eye, and then vanish into the undergrowth. And then, as a drew nearer, a second, larger fox emerged. He looked straight at me, and then just sat down on a wall beside the road, very calm and peaceful, as if enjoying this auspicious night himself. Quietly, I sat down on a low wall just opposite him, very close by. He looked up at me every now and then, acknowledging my presence yet seeming totally unphased by me. We shared this silent moment together in the night for some time, watching each other, while I mentally thanked him for gracing me with his presence in his territory and letting me enjoy his company like this. When some more noisy people from the pub approached he disappeared, so I returned to the house, but I kept on watching from the window and I soon saw both the foxes emerge from the undergrowth and go about their lives.

As a follower of Inari, I find any encounter with foxes to be special, but this was particularly magickal due to the timing and nature of our encounter. I find it even more wonderful that we have a pair of foxes living by us – just like a mirror of the pair of fox statues I have on my Inari shrine. Whenever I see them, I cannot help but feel protected and uplifted by the spirit of Inari Okamisama.

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Filed under Nature & Environment, Rituals & Festivals, Shinto / Japanese Religion