<![CDATA[Coven of the Scales - Blog]]>Wed, 30 Oct 2019 02:44:09 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[THE WITCH’S CALENDAR – NOVEMBER]]>Mon, 28 Oct 2019 09:42:46 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/the-witchs-calendar-novemberPicture



​NOVEMBER: [OE] Blōt-mōnaþ ‘Blood Month’ or ‘Month of Sacrifice’ when surplus livestock would have been killed and stored for use over winter. [OHG] Herbist-mānod ‘autumn month’. The first week of November has long been a time of festivals and celebrations marking the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter. In the 14th century misericord calendar, it was shown as the time for killing the pigs fattened with acorns during the previous month. The tree representing November is the Elder, the tree of justice since in times past judgements were often carried out beneath it.
 
1st Hallowmas (All Saints’ Day) commemorates the faithful departed. In many traditions, All Saints’ Day is part of the triduum of All-hallowtide, which lasts three days from 31st October to 2nd November inclusive. Today: A time for remembering the dead.
 
1st All Saints Great Fair. Before 1153, Earl Simon of Northampton granted a tenth of the profit of the fair held in the church and churchyard of All Saints to St Andrew’s priory; in November 1235, Henry III ordered that the fair was not to be held in the cemetery or church of All Saints, but instead at a vacant, waste piece of land to the north of the church. In the 13th
century, this was one of the great fairs of England and by 1334: the fair lasted from 1st to 30th  November. Today: Ideal for a family day out to a local market and a pub lunch.
 
1st La Mas Ubhal – The Irish Day of Apple Fruit dedicated to the ‘Lunar-arkite goddess who presided over seeds and fruit’ according to the Cambrian Quarterly. Pronounced la-masool, the English corrupted it to ‘lambs-wool’. A beverage consisting of the juice of apples roasted over spiced ale. A great day for this drink was the feast of the Irish apple-gathering. “The pulp of roasted apples, in number foure or five … mixed in the wine quart of faire water, laboured together until it come to be as apples and ale, which we call lambes wool.” Johnson’s Gerard 1460. Today: A warming winter drink for celebrating the end of the apple harvest.
 
2nd All Souls Day remembers deceased relatives on the day. Some believe that the origins of All Souls’ Day in European folklore and folk belief are related to customs of ancestor veneration. Today: If you haven’t before, light a candle for any deceased relatives and friends.
 
2nd Day of the Dead – the day in the Celtic year when the Festival of the Dead took place. It was once the custom to leave doors open and food on the table to nourish the souls of recently departed family members. Today: In traditional witchcraft this might also involve holding a Dumb Supper, either today or more appropriately at Old Samhain.
 
Weather-lore: ‘On first November if weather is clear;
’Tis the end of the sowing you’ll do for the year’.
 
3rd Hilaria, a harvest festival in the Roman religion; day of merriment and rejoicing of the Isis-Osiris cult, marking the resurrection of Osiris, husband of Isis. This was a mirror celebration of the Cybele-Attis cult resurrection celebrated on the 25th March. Today: A day of endings and new beginnings.
 
10th Old Samhain Eve, Lá Samhna, Calan Gaeof. This is the winter season that traditionally runs from is about halfway between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Imbolc, Beltaine and Lughnasadh. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Similar festivals are held at the same time of year in other Celtic lands; for example the Brythonic Calan Gaeaf (in Wales), Kalan Gwav (in Cornwall), and Kalan Goañv (in Brittany). Tonight: Hold the traditional observance for Samhain.
 
11th Better known since 1918 as Armistice Day, it is the time to remember the war dead and the Ancestors on Old Samhain. Today: Wear your poppy with pride.
 
11th Martinmas. The time when autumn wheat seeding was completed, and the annual slaughter of fattened cattle produced ‘Martinmas beef’. Hiring fairs were held where farm labourers would seek new posts. It was also the time when autumn winter seedling was usually completed and the farmer provided a ‘cakes and ale’ feast for the workers that included special ‘hopper cakes’ made with seeds and whole grains. Today: Celebrate with ‘cakes and ale’ in time honoured fashion.
 
11th Vinalia, the Feast of Bacchus. When Bacchus was merged with Christianity, St Martin had to bear the ill-repute of his predecessor and become the patron saint of drunkards, with the Feast of St Martin used to be held as a day of great debauch! Today: Share a bottle of wine with close friends.
 
Weather-lore: ‘Wind north-west at Martinmas, severe winter to come’.
 
13th Feronia, a Roman terrestrial goddess of fertility and ‘plenty of abundance’ who was once a Sabine goddess of the wilderness and wild woods. The particulars of the festival are lost but Dionysius of Halicarnassus gives us a flavour of them when he describes other festivities dedicated to Feronia. Today: Honour the goddess in her untamed form.
 
20th The Feast of St Edmund the Martyr of Suffolk (d.869) the patron saint of England until Edward III replaced him by associating Saint George with the Order of the Garter. The King believed England should have a fearless champion as its patron saint and not one who had been defeated in battle. In 2006, a group that included BBC Radio Suffolk and the East Anglian Daily Times failed in their campaign to reinstate Edmund. In 2013 another campaign to reinstate St Edmund as patron saint was begun with the backing of representatives from businesses, Churches, radio and local politicians.
 
23rd Feast of St Clement. He became the patron saint of ironworkers and of all trades, the blacksmith’s is richest in traditions. The smith’s magical status was early established because he worked with iron and fire. Today: Light the patio fire in honour of the smith gods and hold your own ‘Clem Supper’ especially if you’re a horse-person.
 
25th The Roman Festival of Proserpina, daughter of Ceres and the root meaning behind the Eleusinian Mysteries, and the beginning of winter. 
 
30th [NS] St Andrew’s Day. The celebration of Saint Andrew as a national festival is said to originate from the reign of Malcolm III.  Today: Celebrate the national day of Scotland.

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<![CDATA[The Witch's Traditional Calendar - October]]>Mon, 14 Oct 2019 10:22:57 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/the-witchs-traditional-calendar-octoberPicture
OCTOBER: [OE] Winterfylleth ‘Winter full moon’, or the ‘winter full moon’ because winter was said to begin on the first full moon in October because winter began on the first full moon of that month. [OHG] Wīndume-mānod - ‘vintage month’. The Anglo-Saxons called it wynmonath – the time of treading the wine-vats. In the 14th century misericord calendar, it was shown as the time for gathering acorns to feed the pigs as fodder. The tree representing October is the Blackthorn, associated with Otherworld and its darker powers.
 
1st Traditionally the date when the English Pudding Season started. The traditional English pudding was savoury rather than sweet and filled with steak, leeks, mushrooms and spices; some were cooked for up to sixteen hours. Although many almanacs insist this is the ‘official start of the pudding season’ in England, there does not appear to be any authoritative text on the subject. If we looks at the old recipes for pudding, it rapidly becomes obvious (and many historians and etymologists agree) that the meaning of the term is difficult to pin down. The word appears to find its origin in an old French term describing a blood-sausage stuffed into animal intestines that the Normans brought with them when they invaded the British Isles in the 12th century. A modern direct descendant of those original puddings are the black and white puddings of the United Kingdom and Ireland – boiled, sliced, and often fried up for breakfast. Puddings really exploded onto the culinary scene around the 14th century when someone discovered that a piece of cloth was a viable substitute for natural casings. There were dozens, if not hundreds of different kinds of puddings: boiled puddings, dripping puddings (e.g., Yorkshire), plum, marrow, and pastry puddings. There were regional and local puddings. There were bread puddings that used bread crumbs and bread-and-butter puddings that actually used slices of bread … [Savouring The Past]. Today: Serve up a traditional ‘pudding’ for supper.
 
3rd Nottingham Goose Fair. The autumn brings with it the legendary Nottingham Goose Fair, one of the greatest fairs in the United Kingdom and an event whose popularity remains undiminished by the passage of time. Officially opened on the first Thursday in October, its exact age is unknown, as it had already been in existence for some years when it was confirmed by charter in 1294. Until it was supplanted by turkey, roast goose was the traditional dish at many festivals. Around Michaelmas, goose-herds would drive flocks of up to 20,000 geese to be sold at long-established goose fairs. (See Michaelmas)
 
9th All-Hallown Summer. The second summer, or the ‘summerly time’ that sets in about All-Hallowstide. Called by the French L’ete de St Martin (from 9th October to 11th November) or St Martin’s Summer.
 
 
9th  Tewkesbury Mop Fair is the largest street fair in Gloucestershire and one of the oldest fairs in the country, that takes place annually on October 9th and 10th. Earliest records so far date the origins of the fair to the 12th century. Today: A good day for a ritual cleansing of the home before battening down the hatches for the winter.
 
Weather-lore: ‘When berries are many in October, beware a hard winter’.
 
11th Old Michaelmas Day. In medieval England, Michaelmas marked the ending and beginning of the husbandman’s year. Farm workers, labourers, servants and some craftsmen would work for their employer from October to October. At the end of the employment (the day after Michaelmas) they would attend the Mop Fair dressed in their Sunday best clothes and carrying an item signifying their trade. A servant with no particular skills would carry a mop head – hence the phrase Mop Fair. Today: Serve roast goose in keeping with the season.
 
13th Feast Day of St Edward the Confessor was among the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England, and usually considered the last king of the House of Wessex – and the true patron saint of England. About a century after his death, in 1161, Pope Alexander III canonised the late king. His feast day is 13th October, celebrated by both the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Today: Light a candle in memory.
 
 
13th Destruction of the Order of Knights Templar At dawn on Friday, 13th October 1307 (a date sometimes linked with the origin of the Friday 13th superstition) Philip IV of France ordered Jacques de Molay and scores of other French Templars to be simultaneously arrested. Most Templars in England were never arrested, and the persecution of their leaders was brief; nearly any site in England which uses the name ‘Temple’, can probably be traced to Templar ownership. The Temple Church still stands on the site of the old Preceptory in London, and effigies of Crusading Templars can still be seen there today. The land was later rented to lawyers who use it today as Inner Temple and Middle Temple. Today: Light a candle in memory.
 
13th Fontinalia, a Roman festival in honour of Fontus, the god of springs, fountains and wells. Throughout the city, fountains and well-heads were adorned with garlands. Ancient history suggests that water was considered a miracle that deserved worship. Sources of water, such as rivers, wells and springs, were often times considered to be homes of the gods.
 
14th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings (or the Battle of Senlac Hill 1066) when Harold – the last Anglo-Saxon king of England – was slain and the Norman Conquest of England began.
 
21st Apple Day: This annual celebration of apples and orchards is a modern festival, although the pagan festival Pomonia, for the Roman orchard Goddess Pomona, was soon after on 1st November, marking the end of the apple harvest and coinciding with the Old Calendar. Today: Pick enough crab apples to make a jelly to serve with roast or cold meats.
 
28th St Simon’s and St Jude’s Day traditionally marks the end of fine weather in the agricultural calendar.
 
31st Samhain. John Stow in his Survey of London (1603), gives a description of the appointment of the Lord of Misrule: ‘These Lordes beginning their rule on Alhollon Eue
 [Halloween], continued the same till the morrow after the Feast of the Purification, commonlie called Candlemas day: In all which space there were fine and subtle disguisinges, Maskes and Mummeries, with playing at Cardes for Counters, Nayles and pointes in euery house, more for pastimes then for gaine.’
 
31st Hallowe’en according to the Church calendar was the time when ghosts roamed abroad and is a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed. It is widely believed that many Halloween traditions originated from Celtic harvest festivals with pagan roots, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain, and that this festival was much later Christianised as Halloween. According to Robin Skelton in Earth, Air, Fire, Water the following is one of the many rhymes collected together under the title of ‘Mother Goose’, which are taken from several sources including Halliwell, Chambers, Sharp and Hazlitt. Today: Join in the modern revels or sit at home with the candles burning to welcome in any passing spirits. An ideal opportunity for divining the future
 
31st Teanlay Night: The vigil of All Souls, or the last evening of October, when bonfires were lighted and revels held for succouring souls in purgatory. Today: Light the candles or the patio heater and keep Vigil.


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<![CDATA[THE PERFECT BOOK FOR HALLOWE’EN READING]]>Fri, 11 Oct 2019 09:18:49 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/the-perfect-book-for-halloween-readingPicture
The Arte of Darkness by Melusine Draco

‘Evil is simply misplaced force. It can be misplaced in time: like the violence that is acceptable in war, is unacceptable in peace. It can be misplaced in space: like a burning coal on a rug rather than the fireplace. Or it can be misplaced in proportion: like an excess of love can make us overly sentimental, or a lack of love can make us cruel and destructive. It is in things such as these that evil lies, not in a personal Devil who acts as an Adversary,’ so says the Qabalah.

Nevertheless, there is an increasing tendency these days for groups and individuals to portray themselves as being more exciting, adventurous, or more magically competent by covering themselves with the mantle of ‘Darkness’. Let’s make no bones about it – there is no such thing as black or white magic - and the realms of Darkness and Shadow are an intrinsic part of everyday magical practice regardless of path, creed or tradition.

“Mélusine Draco, as her name suggests, has long been plugged into the powerful currents of traditional witchcraft and ritual magic. She is one of the real ones. Her provocative writing will show you how to move between the inner and outer worlds. Follow along behind her if you dare ...” Alan Richardson, author of numerous esoteric titles including Priestess and The Old Sod, biographies of Dion Fortune and W G Gray.

​ISBN: 9781788769198
Type: Paperback
Pages: 262
Published: 4 July 2019
Special offer price if ordered direct from the printer:
https://www.feedaread.com/books/The-Arte-of-Darkness-9781788769198.aspx
Or on Amazon Kindle at a special price of UK£0.99/US$0.95 between 11-18th November 2019


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<![CDATA[ONE OF NATURE'S MOMENTS ...]]>Thu, 10 Oct 2019 10:25:15 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/one-of-natures-momentsPicture


​High winds again today and a long time spent watching the rooks ‘tumbling’ through the air as they ride on the thermals and then plunge towards the earth – this lot were having a great time, dive-bombing the magpies, hooded crows and the dogs – the air alive with their raucous calls. Then a thought occurred that it’s becoming increasingly obvious that a large number of people don’t know the different between crows and rooks. I’ve often read of the behaviour of rooks attributed to crows and vice versa. The whole corvid family are recognised ‘messengers’ from Otherworld but how can we expect to be able to interpret the message correctly if we can’t tell one bird from another?

Painting by Simon Pooley

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<![CDATA[WHAT ARE WE?]]>Tue, 08 Oct 2019 10:22:10 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/what-are-wePicture


​Perhaps it’s time to point out that Old Craft is an initiatory tradition and to coin an old biblical expression: Many are called but few are chosen because even those who scale the heights often fall when it comes to fulfilling their pre- or post-initiatory obligations.  In truth, the majority of those who call themselves ‘witches’ are, in reality what were known as cunning-folk  - local practitioners of magic, providing small-scale but valued service to the community. They were far more representative of magical practice than the arcane delvings of astrologers and necromancers.
 
Mostly unsensational in their approach, cunning-folk helped people with everyday problems: how to find lost objects; how to escape from bad luck or a suspected spell; and how to attract a lover or keep the love of a husband or wife. While cunning-folk sometimes fell foul of the authorities, both church and state often turned a blind eye to their existence and practices, distinguishing what they did from the rare and sensational cases of witchcraft. In a world of uncertainty, before insurance and modern science, cunning-folk played an important role that has previously been overlooked.  This authentic , archaic and highly specialized tradition is best described in Popular Magic: Cunning-folk in English History by Owen Davies.
 
Or according to Wikipedia’s ‘comprehensive entries for …
 
Cunning folk, also known as folk healers, are practitioners of folk medicinefolk magic, and divination within the context of the various traditions of folklore in Christian Europe (from at least the 15th up until at least the early 20th century). The British cunning folk were known by a variety of names in different regions of the country, including wise men and wise women, pellars, wizards, dyn hysbys, and sometimes white witches.  In most cases, it seems that individuals set themselves up as cunning folk with no former basis or training, although others came from a family background of professional magical practitioners.
 
The Cunning folk in Britain were professional or semi-professional practitioners of magic in Britain, active from the Medieval period through the early twentieth century. As cunning folk, they practised folk magic – also known as ‘low magic’ – although often combined with elements of ‘high’ or ceremonial magic, which they learned through the study of grimoires.  Primarily using spells and charms as a part of their profession, they were most commonly employed to use their magic in order to combat witchcraft, to locate criminals, missing persons or stolen property, for fortune telling, for healing, for treasure hunting and to influence people to fall in love. Belonging ‘to the world of popular belief and custom’, the cunning folk’s magic has been defined as being ‘concerned not with the mysteries of the universe and the empowerment of the magus [as ceremonial magic usually is], so much as with practical remedies for specific problems’. However, other historians have noted that in some cases, there was apparently an ‘experimental or ‘spiritual’ dimension’ to their magical practices, something which was possibly shamanic in nature.
 
The cunning-tradition is an old and valid one and perhaps it’s time for us to investigate the background between the two practices and discover for ourselves what we truly are …



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<![CDATA[How To Deal With An Unwanted/Unwelcome Guest]]>Wed, 25 Sep 2019 10:20:48 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/how-to-deal-with-an-unwantedunwelcome-guestPicture
We’ve all got them – family friends or acquaintances whom it is impossible to get rid of, short of murder.  They are toxic, malevolent creatures who impose themselves on us and never know when they’ve outstayed their welcome.  When they do finally leave we can often feel so physically sick by the depleting effect they’ve had on our aura that we can barely rouse ourselves enough to carry out a cleansing of our home and psyche.  This is another manifestation of our old friend – the psychic vampire – a malevolent presence that feeds on the misery and disharmonious atmosphere it causes whenever it comes near. 
 
The first step to take when it leaves is to complete a simple ritual of following its steps from the door, along the path to the gate with a stiff yard broom saying over and over again ‘Name … get thee gone and never come back’ while sprinkling sea-salt in your wake.   It’s a trifle awkward to both jobs at once but it usually works … especially if completed in tandem with a banishing/cleansing ritual inside the house where it’s been.
 
For the cleansing we will need an infusion spray of leaves (and flowers if in season) of sorcerer’s violet (periwinkle). It was believed that the plant could protect against evil spirits, and in some places, it was alleged that unwelcome guests could not enter a building where periwinkle hung above the entrance. The dried flowers may be added to any magical mixture to enhance the working and banishes negative energy.
 
Together with woody nightshade, or bittersweet - a pretty climbing plant from the hedgerows that has purple flowers in the summer and deep ruby red berries in the autumn. Its magical uses are similar to those of deadly nightshade and any plant in the nightshade family can be used interchangeably for most workings. Woody nightshade adds power to any magic carried out at the Dark of the Moon and is great for spells involving protection. Hang a bunch upside down by the entrances of your home to protect it and yourself from harmful energies, negative magic, spirits and people. For its magic to work, however, no one must know where it has been placed. A useful plant to have growing about the place.
 
Water for an infusion spray is prepared in the same way as a pot of tea but it is essential that the liquid be kept covered for 10-15 minutes before straining through a muslin sieve into a small spray to ensure all the magical properties have been extracted. The ideal container is a small plant spray bottle that holds about a cup full of water in order to cleanse or protect the home from negative energies left behind by our unwanted guest.
 
Infuse the woody nightshade (leaves, berries and flowers) and sorcerer’s violet in boiling water for 10-15 minutes; if using the woody part of the plant for extra strength, pouring boiling water over it is not sufficient to extract the active ingredient. Allow it to simmer for at least 20 minutes and strain through a nylon sieve while hot – let it cool before pouring into a spray bottle and add a fresh flowers or leaves to the liquid. This cleansing or purifying mist permits treatment of everything in the room.  

Discard any remaining liquid immediately and wash the bottle thoroughly by running clear water through the spray so that future magical workings aren’t compromised by any psychic residue. If we intend repeating the working over a period of, say, three days for a protective ritual, any remaining liquid can be kept in the fridge for the duration of the treatment but must be discarded on the third day or it could turn rancid. Once the cleansing ritual has been completed, I suggest the added precaution of using lavender oil in an evaporator or burning joss sticks for purification purposes.
 
And if the spectre of murder is still beckoning why not consider a nice bottling or binding. Many people confused the two and, although similar in preparation, the long-term outcome is often employed for different purposes. Neither carry the finality or strength of a full-blown curse and, unlike the curse, both can be ‘undone’ should it become necessary to negate the spell for whatever reason.  Curses, in the long term, are usually counter-productive and self-defeating, since few people who throw a curse bother to concern themselves with the far-reaching implications. Binding and bottling give a far greater ‘control’ over the outcome and if, at the end of the day, you decide it’s really not worth the effort, then the bottling or binding can be undone … a curse cannot.
 
Word-Lore: The Craft of Witches compiled by Melusine Draco is published by Ignotus Press UK. ISBN 978 1 78876 449 0 www.feadaread.com
 
By Spellbook & Candle: Hexing, Cursing, Bottling & Binding by Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books ISBN 978 1 78099 563 2 www.moon-books.net

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<![CDATA[MAGIC CRYSTALS, SACRED STONES -extract]]>Tue, 24 Sep 2019 10:51:56 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/magic-crystals-sacred-stones-extractPicture
The earliest examples of gem-cutting and carving date back to the ancient cultures of Assyria, Babylon and Egypt, although according to Encyclopaedia Britannica, the date of around 500 BC marks the beginning of a period of great artistic taste and skill in gem engraving that extended throughout the ancient civilized world, and lasted until the 3rd or 4th century AD:
 
“With the Renaissance, the art of gem carving revived, and the engravers from that time produced results that equal the best Greek and Roman work; copies of ancient gem carvings made by some of the 18th century masters are distinguishable from true antiques only by experts of great proficiency.”
 
Until the 16th century, minerals and gemstones were listed in ‘lapidaries’ — a document in which the characteristics and properties of the minerals were described in great detail. The earliest surviving text is contained in a monumental encyclopaedia Naturalis Historia, compiled by Pliny the Elder in the 1st century AD, and was imitated by writers on the subject throughout the Middle Ages. Some versions listed both the magical and medicinal properties of the minerals and gemstones; others revealed the astrological significance, while others gave the religious symbolism of the stones. The term ‘lapidary’, refers to either a book classifying stones, or the gemmologist, goldsmith or stonecutter himself, and by the Middle Ages there were dozens of books on the subject, although the most popular were translations from the Arabic, which
focused on the efficacy of precious stones as amulets. In Alexandria, collections of books on gemstones were commonplace among the fraternity of glasscutters and stone-engravers, and some of the titles have come down to us today.
 
The Book of Stones, was believed to have been written by Aristotle (384–322BC), and examined the magical powers of gemstones, later being translated into Hebrew and Latin.
 
Materia Medica of Dioscurides (1st century AD) records some two hundred ‘stones’ from a medicinal point of view, and although the majority are oxides and other minerals, a few authentic gems are also included. He served as a doctor in the Roman army during the reign of Nero.
 
De Lapidibus, written by the one-time bishop, Marbode of Rennes (1035–1123) set forth the lore and uses of some 60 stones.
 
The Flowers of Knowledge of Stones, written by the alchemist Shihab al-Din al-Tifashi of Cairo around 1154.
 
Lapidario, the most famous of all gem books, was compiled by Alfonso X of Castile in the 13th century.
 
Gemmarum at Lapidum Historia was compiled by Anselm Boethius (a doctor to Rudolph II of Prague) in 1609, and was probably the most important history of gems and stones of that century.
 
One of the most popular works in the Middle Ages, Marbode’s work gathered all the pertinent matter about the powers inherent in stones that had been written from antiquity until the bishop’s own time. Over 140 manuscripts of the treatise exist in the major libraries of Europe, and 18 printed editions have been published between 1511 and 1977. “Although its medical value is nil,
Marbode’s book can still tell us much about symbolism, medieval names for a variety of stones, and the psychological processes of the people of his era”, writes Frank J. Anderson in Riches of the Earth.
 
As we can see, the belief in the magical and healing properties of stones and crystals has a very long history, with the lapidaries of the ancient world falling into those two main classes — the medicinal, and the magical, the latter often showing a strong astrological influence. But this was not primitive superstition. Those who compiled the lapidaries were the men of intellect and knowledge of their time — the power of gemstones was a very real science as far as they were concerned.

Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones: The Magical Lore of  Crystals, Minerals and Gemstones by Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books in paperback and e-book format.  ISBN: 978 1 78099 137 5 - UK£11.99/US$19.95 - 186 pages.

REVIEWS:

Blue Wolf Reviews:  In this book we are not only introduced to the magical properties of rocks and crystals we are taken on a guided tour of the formation(geological) of the elements that gives us a fuller understanding of the minerals as they evolve into a vast array of sacred stones. Each chapter introduces a differing aspect of formation, history and mystique complete with an exercise to encourage us to use the stones, pebbles or crystals in the correct manner. Primarily discussing geological formations, stones, pebbles etc in the Northern hemisphere the information translates, generally, globally. In some ways it is a crash course in geology but in others is comprehensive guidebook to the use and maintenance of sacred stones.
 
Carys Llewellyn:
If you thought this was just another book about crystals, think again! Not only is the author an experienced magical practitioner in her own right, but her magical tutor also held a doctorate in geology – and it shows. Not just in the obvious love of the subject but in the vast store of magical information crammed into these 186 pages. Of course there is the usual list of gemstones with their correspondences but Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones goes much further in explaining that it can be the very rocks beneath our feet that generates magical energy – and how it can affect our own magical working. Did you know, for example, that many of the stones used in our ancient monuments contain a high percentage of quartz; and that quartz is the most magically potent crystal on the planet? Another interesting aspect to this book is that the exercises at the end of each chapter are designed for the purpose of creating your own personal system of divination by crystallomancy, the ancient practice of casting lots using small stones or crystals. As well as being a practical magical guide, it is a worthy successor to those two classic historical reference works The Curious Lore of Precious Stones (Kunz) and Magical Jewels (Evans).

MWN:
I'm a big fan of crystals and this one is way up there with the best. As it stands it will reach the whole of the MBS audience and those interested in gems and crystals and those curious about them. Well written, loaded with information and very easy to read. The author is knowledgeable and has a knack of getting that across without being boring or in the style of, ‘this is what I know and I’m right. 



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<![CDATA[DOGS ARE AMAZING ANIMALS]]>Fri, 20 Sep 2019 08:34:30 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/dogs-are-amazing-animalsPicture
 I recently read an article by writer and research fellow at Yale University, in which he commented that having a dog encourages you to enter into an environment in a more attentive way. ‘There is something about being around an animal.  They have this great propensity to focus on one thing, and the rest of the world falls away from them.  I aspire to do some human version of that’. This is because dogs have the ability to open up the world around us.  They attract the attention of like-minded people because dogs are very sociable creatures … and their contribution to humans as assistance, rescue and security dogs is immeasurable … since they also act as a deterrent against unwanted attention.
 
If you don’t have a dog of your own then why not offer to walk a neighbour’s while they’re out at work?  A dog will introduce you to many of the different aspects of the natural world you never even knew existed.   Dogs are very curious creatures who have no qualms about sticking their noses into anything and everything.  A dog’s curiosity is most likely compounded by the fact that they have a very strong sense of smell and sight, and can pick up on things than humans cannot, such as minute smells and very high and very low-pitched sounds. Because of this, a dog might be curious about something that a human doesn’t even realize is close by.
 
Unlike most humans, dogs feel an urge to explore and to gain information about the world around them … and if something is new, a dog is very likely to try to figure out what the thing is. They will push limits until they realize that something is harmful or uninteresting … and we quickly find that their curiousity is contagious because they encourage us to ‘stand and stare’ while they tiffle about in the undergrowth.
 
Walking out in the company of a dog gives us an added sense of purpose; a ready-made companion with whom we can discuss the current political situation, global warming, or the economic up/down turn without censure or ridicule.  Dogs provide a shoulder to cry on, or make us laugh out loud at their antics; dogs introduce us to their natural world which is often a lot less stressful and a lot more meaningful than our own.  They keep us out for longer, and we walk further and a lot more slowly than when we were walking alone.

 
 
Aubrey’s Dog: Power Animals in Traditional Witchcraft by Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books in their Shaman Pathways series in paperback and e-book format.  ISBN: 978 1 78099 724 7 UK£4.99/US$9.95  www.moon-books.net


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<![CDATA[ROUND ABOUT THE CAULDRON GO ...]]>Mon, 09 Sep 2019 08:02:47 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/round-about-the-cauldron-go8306002The whole essence of traditional British Old Craft is closely bound to the natural tides that govern our planet.  When we organise our own coven activities, these are focussed on drawing down an elemental power to synchronise with the traditional Sabbats/Esbats, thus ensuring the Coven develops a ‘group mind’ of its own that nonetheless periodically needs to be recharged via group ritual.  This also explains why Old Crafters synchronise those rituals to coincide with the Old Julian Calendar that links us directly to the power of the Ancestors. Kindred calls to kindred, blood calls to blood. The modern Gregorian calendar is now fourteen days out of alignment and had been thirteen days adrift since March 1900 – but magically as miss is as good as a mile!
 
A witch needs to be on familiar, operational-terms with these times and tides of the witch’s year – not just the solar and lunar tides but the oceanic, earth and atmospheric tides that can also enhance our magical workings.  We must also understand that some tides are more beneficial than others for recharging the ‘group mind’ of the Coven so that we as individuals can draw upon these currents of elemental power to energise our spells at any time. This elemental power is marked in the charting of the stars, and while the stars are not generally used as sources of power they can act as a celestial barometer for the calendaric ebb and flow.  This is the witch-power we channel when we work magic – either singly or as a group – and it makes sense to take these various different tides into consideration and utilise them to our best advantage whenever we can.  There’s nothing to stop us from working against the tide but this is self-defeating when it is easier to go with the flow.
 
Four great fire festivals are marked by the Equinoxes and Solstices of the solar year, with the four traditional celebrations of Old Beltaine, Old Lammas, Old Hallowe’en and Old Candlemas making up the eight Sabbats of the witch’s year.  The fire festivals mark the beginning of each quarter of the solar-tide cycle with Candlemas marking the end of the reign of the Holly King and the first stirrings of the bright tide of summer.  At the turbulent tide of the Vernal Equinox, the bright and dark tides are equally balanced with the bright tide on the increase; Beltaine marks the traditional beginning of summer, which reaches its height around the Midsummer Solstice. From here on in it begins to wane as we progress through the sacred time of harvest …
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<![CDATA[THE TRADITIONAL WITCHES CALENDAR - SEPTEMBER]]>Thu, 29 Aug 2019 09:37:18 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/the-traditional-witches-calendar-septemberPicture
In the Northern Hemisphere the Autumnal Equinox falls about September 22nd or 23rd, as the Sun crosses the celestial equator going south. In the Southern Hemisphere the equinox occurs on March 20th or 21st, when the Sun moves north across the celestial equator. According to the astronomical definition of the seasons, the autumnal equinox also marks the beginning of autumn, which lasts until the Winter Solstice (December 21st or 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere).
 
Fall and autumn are both accepted and widely used terms for the season that comes between summer and winter. Some who consider British English the only true English regard fall as an American barbarism, but this attitude is not well founded. Fall is in fact an old term for the season, originating in English in the 16th century or earlier. It was originally short for fall of the year or fall of the leaf, but it commonly took the one-word form by the 17th century, long before the development of American English. So while the term is now widely used in the US, it is not exclusively American, nor is it American in origin.
 
     Autumn came to English from the French automne in the 15th or 16th century, but it didn’t gain prominence until the 18th century. After that, while fall became the preferred term in the US, autumn became so prevalent in British English that fall as a term for the season was eventually considered archaic. This has changed, however, as fall has been gaining ground in British publications for some time. [Grammarist]
 
SEPTEMBER: [OE] Hālig-mōnaþ ‘Holy Month’, when celebrations and religious festivals would be held to celebrate a successful summer crop. [OHG] Witu-mānod ‘wood month’. The Anglo-Saxons called it Gerstmonath or Barley-month with reference to the harvest of that crop, the main ingredient of the favourite alcoholic beverage. In the 14th century misericord calendar, it was shown as the time for cutting the corn for malting, i.e. beer making. The tree representing September is the Apple, one of the sacred trees that possesses magical powers.
 
Apple Magic: The folklore associated with apples appears mostly to do with determining romantic outcomes and finding a marriage partner. The apple has always been regarded as a holy tree and since earliest times it has been considered very unlucky to destroy apple trees or an orchard. On the opposite side of the coin, it was said to bring luck to the household if several apples were left on the ground after the harvest to keep the Faere Folk happy since apple orchards have long been regarded as places where the realms of the Faere Folk meet the mundane world. While mistletoe being the ‘golden bough’ and although more traditionally associated with oak trees, it is more commonly found on apple trees. The apple was one of the seven Chieftain trees and under Brehon law, the unlawful cutting down of an apple tree had to be paid for with a life. [Traditional Witchcraft for Fields & Hedgerows]
 
1st St Giles’ Fair at Oxford was originally a parish wake, a celebration of the local patron saint that, like a fair, was a festive occasion combining business and pleasure. The fair is held on the Monday and Tuesday following the first Sunday after St Giles’ Day but unlike a fair, a wake had no royal charter offering legal protection. Oxford had two medieval charter fairs, one held by the priory of St Frideswide from the 12th century in July near what is now Christ Church; and a May Fair founded in the 15th century, located where Wadham is today. The charter fairs gradually declined in importance, while the previously modest St Giles event flourished from the late 18th century onwards.
 
Weather-lore: ‘Fair on September 1st, fair for the month.’
 
4th The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance [Staffordshire] is an English folk dance dating back to the Middle Ages and has been described as ‘possibly the oldest surviving ceremony in Britain’.
It is know that the dance was performed at the ‘Barthelmy Fair’ in August 1226, however the reindeer antlers that give the dance its name suggest a much earlier origin, possibly a Druidic or Viking rite. A carbon-dated fragment of horn revealed a date of 1065±80 years. Today the Horn Dance takes place annually on Wakes Monday. After collecting the horns from the church at 8 o’clock in the morning, the Horn Dancers, comprising six Deer-men, a Fool, a Hobby Horse, a Bowman and Maid Marian, perform their dance to music at various locations around the village and surrounding countryside. By the time they return to the village green that evening, the Horn Dancers will have walked and danced over ten miles.
 
6th Sailing of the Mayflower. Anniversary of the day the Mayflower , a ship of 180 tons, finally set sail (1620) from Plymouth and conveyed to Massachusetts in North America, 102 Puritans, called ‘the Pilgrim Fathers’. They arrived at Cape Cod on 9th November, after a 66 day voyage. The event that Americans commonly call the ‘First Thanksgiving’ was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621.
 
8th Little Walsingham Charter Fair of the Nativity of Mary. [Norfolk] The charter was granted by Henry III to the Prior and Convent of Walsingham and in return the Prior and Convent was to provide a wax candle weighing two pounds continually burning before the great altar of the church of St Mary, Walsingham. Today, there are circular wells and a square stone bath near an isolated remnant of a Norman archway in the priory ruins, which are noted nowadays for being ‘wishing wells’. Superstition says that if the visitor remains totally silent within about ten feet of the water, they should kneel first at one well, then at the other, and make a wish as they drink – but tell no one what you wish for. Committing one error in the ritual is said to be fatal. Another version mentions a stone between the wells on which one must kneel with their right knee bare, then put one hand in each well up to the wrist, and drink as much of the water as you can hold in your palms. Provided your wishes are never spoken aloud, they will be fulfilled within the year. Try bending the knee to the old gods and asking them for their blessings! Today: Make your own pilgrimage to these sacred springs from our pagan past.
 
14th Stourbridge Fair. In 1199, King John granted the Leper Chapel at Steresbrigge in Cambridge dispensation to hold a three-day fair to raise money to support the lepers. The first such fair was held in 1211 around the Feast of the Holy Cross (14th September) on the open land of Stourbridge Common alongside the River Cam. Stourbridge Fair continued until it was held for the final time in 1933. Today: The fair was revived in the 21st century and celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2008, so it makes an ideal day out for the family.
 
14th Holy Rood Day and traditionally the day on which children and young people were freed from school or work to gather nuts. This was a significant medieval holiday when tradition dictated that you went nut gathering. In most cases this meant gathering hazel nuts which were an important protein source in the winter for people and animals, but could also be sold to dyers, the nuts making both red and black dye. People have been gathering hazel nuts in Britain since the dawn of time and in 1995 a shallow pit was discovered on the island of Colonsay in the Inner Hebrides, it was full of the remains of hundreds of thousands of burned hazelnut shells which were carbon dated to about 7000 BC. Today: Hazelnuts collected on this day have magical properties - double nuts (two on a stalk) ward off rheumatism, toothache and the spells of witches. But don’t gather them if they’re unripe - the hazel is a powerful tree (the tree of wisdom, some say) and gathering unripe nuts can be dangerous.
 
20th Mercantus, another Roman four-day celebration of markets and fairs, which coincided with …
 
20th Old Barnstable Fair, whose charter dates from the early Middle Ages is held on the Wednesday before 20th September and was one of the most important fairs in Devon. The opening is heralded by a ceremony at the Guildhall, where spiced ale brewed from a closely guarded Elizabethan recipe is ladled into silver cups from which all present must drink to the success of the fair. A large white glove is carried? from the building – an ancient symbol once used to show that outsiders could enter and trade freely in the town. A similar custom applies to the fair held at Honiton on the last Tuesday in July. Today: If you’re in the area make a point of going to the new Barnstable Country Fair
 
21st The Autumnal Equinox and Feast day of the pre- Celtic god of regeneration, Bran Fendigaid, or Bran the Blessed. Check on the Internet for the correct alignments. This is one of the most important and holiest times in the pagan calendar and a start of the celebrations of the harvest. The Harvest Moon is the full nearest the autumnal equinox and a peculiarity is that it rises for several days near to sunset and at about the same time; the Hunter’s Moon is the full moon following the Harvest Moon because hunting does not begin until after harvest.
 
21st  The holiday of the Autumnal Equinox, Harvest HomeMabon, the Feast of the In-gatheringMeán Fómhair or Alban Elfed (in Neo-Druid traditions), is a pagan ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and the God during the coming winter months. The name Mabon was coined by Aidan Kelly and incorporated into the Wiccan Wheel of the Year around 1970 as a reference to Mabon ap Modron, a character from Welsh mythology. Among the sabbats, it is the second of the three pagan harvest festivals, preceded by Lammas/Lughnasadh and followed by Samhain.
 
21st Feast of Mabon ap Modron. In Welsh mythology he was the ‘great son’ of the mother-goddess and the god of youth known from the Mabinogion and later Arthurian romances. It is the time of the end of the harvest and emphasises the importance of remembering the old customs.
 
24th Harvest Festival. Traditionally the day on which harvesting began in medieval England. Today: Arrange your own harvest supper around the kitchen table.
 
26th Feast Day of St Cyprian: The patron of sorcerers who served the Old Gods, despite being named a Christian saint. The Book of Saint Cyprian (Portuguese: Livro de São Cipriano; Spanish: Libro de San Cipriano) refers to different grimoires from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, all falsely attributed to the third century magician. According to popular legend, Cyprian of Antioch was a pagan sorcerer who had converted to Christianity. Similarly, according to legend, King Solomon was not only the wisest man in the land but he also had magical abilities and by the Renaissance, a number of magical texts (called grimoires) were penned in his name. Today: A good opportunity to raise a toast to magic!
 
29th Michaelmas – also known as the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael, the Feast of the Archangels, or the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels, is a minor Christian festival observed in some Western liturgical calendars. Widely popular in the Middle Ages Michaelmas differs from the other saints’ days in that it honours a spirit and not a human being. Michaelmas is one of the four quarter-days of the financial year and probably more superstitions surround the day than any other in the calendar. Today: Why not celebrate traditionally by having roast goose and share with family and friends.
 
Weather-lore: ‘If St. Michael’s brings many acorns, Christmas will cover the fields with snow’.

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