<![CDATA[Coven of the Scales - Blog]]>Thu, 02 Jul 2020 13:22:16 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[LIFESTYLE -Coven Cafe Culture]]>Thu, 02 Jul 2020 09:01:30 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/lifestyle-coven-cafe-culturePicture
​We were having a Summer Solstice chat around the fire when we got around to the CoS Blog and how to make it more interesting and wider reaching.  Before resurrecting Ignotus Books, we’d been kicking around the idea of launching a sort of online ‘witchcraft lifestyle magazine’ but then the publishing venture took over and the suggestion was shelved due to the increased amount of work involved.  

​Nevertheless, there were five editorial staff sitting there and we thought what about expanding the CoS Blog to included ‘lifestyle’ postings and if the slot fell to one person per month that would mean we’d only have to do 2-3 posts per person per year – plus there were specialists within our Circle whom we could ask to provide ‘guest slots’ … with the focus on ‘lifestyle’ rather than magic and linked to Coven Café Culture instead of the monthly calendar posting.  After all, we’ve now run an abridged version of  Old Calendar, Old Year, Old Ways and the only alternative was to go back to the beginning … which just gets repetitive and boring.

We’ve also discovered that Facebook is deleting material such as book promotions that are in context with Coven Café Culture, so an extended CoS Blog would provide a better alternative.   Considering the Caff is a private FB group, there’s no problem about the unsuspecting wandering into an occult camp, since new members are asked to answer three simple questions before being admitted.   The new CoS Blog postings will link back to the Blog from the ‘Caff’ and there will be much more to read on both the magical and the lifestyle front.
How does it sound so far? …

<![CDATA[THE SACREDNESS OF LANDSCAPE – Melusine Draco]]>Wed, 01 Jul 2020 10:30:09 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/the-sacredness-of-landscape-melusine-dracoPicture

I would never have the courage to be a mountaineer. And yet I am drawn to the sheer beauty and magnificence of mountains.  They are the first things I see when I awake and the last things I look upon before I go to sleep, the shape of the range often silhouetted against the night sky, regardless of season.  The view of them is never the same two days running and at certain times of the afternoon, the slopes are bathed in a strange, ethereal light that is nothing short of enchanting; the summits are either capped with snow; radiating the mellow tones of sunset; or shimmering in a soft blue haze, or cloaked by low-lying clouds and soft rain.  On rare occasions, there are crystal clear images of a hot summer day when sheep are seen as tiny pin-pricks of white on the far-off slopes and patches of purple heather glow brightly in the sunshine.
The Galtee mountains of Ireland lack the rugged grandeur of the Prescellis, or the formidable bulk of the Black Mountains of Wales but as Aleister Crowley wrote: ‘A mountain skyline is nearly always noble and beautiful, being the result of natural forces acting uniformly and in conformity with law … A high degree of spiritual development, a romantic temperament and a profound knowledge based on experience of mountain conditions are the best safeguards against the insane impulses and hysterical errors which overwhelm the average man.’
Crowley developed his own love of mountains while a schoolboy scrambling among the rugged peaks of Wales, Scotland and the Lake District. ‘My happiest moments were when I was alone on the mountains; but there is no evidence that this pleasure in anyway derived from mysticism.  The beauty of form and colour, the physical exhilaration of exercise, and the mental stimulation of finding one’s way in difficult country, formed the sole elements of my rapture,’ he recorded in Confessions. Of the climb on the lower reaches of Chogo Ri [or K2] the second highest mountain in the world, after Mount Everest, he commented: ‘The views are increasingly superb and the solitude was producing its beneficent results.  The utterly disproportionate miniature of man purges him of smug belief in himself as the final cause of nature.  The effect is it produces not humiliation but humility…’
Similarly, in A Phenomenology of Landscape anthropologist Christopher Tilley describes the landscape as having ancestral importance due to it being such an integral part of human development that it abounds with cultural meaning and symbolism. ‘Precisely because locales and their landscapes are drawn on in the day-to-day lives and encounters of individuals they possess powers.  The spirit of place may be held to reside in a landscape.’  Despite different locations giving a variety of explanations for the existence of this ‘spirit energy’, in a large number of instances the intelligent, magical entity simply develops from the colloquially named ‘spirit of place’ over a great deal of time.
He also observed: ‘There is an art of moving in the landscape, a right way (socially constrained) to move around in it and approach places and monuments.  Part of the sense of place is the action of approaching it from the ‘right’ (socially prescribed) direction.’  The method of approach is governed by a combination of place and time – both seasonal and social – while the ‘art’ is the simultaneous practice of meditation and ritualized operation.  ‘Flashes of memory, so to speak, illuminate the occasion and bestows an instinctive grasp of how to behave within a ritual or sacred landscape, and to recognize the type of magical energy to be encountered there.’
Mountains form the most spectacular natural creations on the planet and cover such a large amount of Earth’s landmass that they can be seen clearly from outer space.  Mountains are also a reminder that humans count for nothing in the greater scheme of things. They were formed by tectonic plate upheavals of such magnitude that the fossilised remains of prehistoric sea-creatures can be found on the peaks; in fact, many Himalayan rocks were originally sediments on the primordial Tethys Ocean floor. And more recently, in 1980, a violent eruption tore apart the snow-capped peak of Mount St Helens in the USA, reminding us of the powerful, and often devastating, internal workings of this planet.
Perhaps, however, it is easier to refer to Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan for a universally accepted and comparable example of a ‘living’ nature belief. Essentially a compound of ancestor and nature worship, Shinto’s silent contemplation of a flower, stream, rock formation or sunset is, in itself, a normal, everyday act of private worship. As part of a national ritual, each year at the blossoming of the cherry trees, thousands of Japanese leave the city to enjoy the beauty of the short-lived flowering. Neither is it uncommon for them to spend a whole evening gazing at the moon; or sit for hours ‘listening to the stones grow’. Inconsiderately, some might think, Shinto shrines are usually to be found in remote locations of breathtaking natural beauty – with little thought for the convenience of the worshipper.
For the traditional Japanese there is no dividing line between the divine and human, since the forces that move in Nature, move in man according to Zen teaching:
“When one looks at it, one cannot see it:
When one listens for it, one cannot hear it:
However, when one uses it, it is inexhaustible.”
Even rocks are possessed of the divine spark and often form part of the intricate designs used to create those familiar Zen temple gardens for contemplation – reflecting the belief that the Buddha-nature is immanent not only in man, but in everything that exists, animate or inanimate.
Recognizing this instinctive feel for the divine spark of spirituality inherent in Nature is one of the fundamental abilities of those with a pagan mind set. A solitary walk by a rushing spring stream; the awesome thrill of an approaching thunderstorm in late summer; a stroll through the woods in autumn; or the first snow fall on the mountains are times for the working of natural magic. Nevertheless, these natural phenomena can make even the most blasé of people hanker for more of these feelings of elation that can grow from the experience of coming into contact with those elusive ‘earth mysteries’.
When referring to ‘earth mysteries’, it is also necessary to understand the difference between a ‘place of power’, and a sacred or historical site. For example, a large number of modern pagans treat any ancient earthworks as such, without any prior insight of its religious antecedents. As a traditional witch of my acquaintance once pointed out to her flock, such activities are on a par with worshipping at a castle moat or Neolithic flint quarry! Simply because something is old does not mean it has, or had, any religious or spiritual significance.
And as Philip Heselton explains in The Elements of Earth Mysteries, this is a living subject. ‘It is not just a study of things in the past, but is something now, in the present, and moreover something that involves our own participation: we ‘become’ involved.  The visiting of sites and our interaction with the landscape comes central to our belief.  What we are dealing with is a recognition that there are special places in the landscape that are in some way qualitatively special.  Whilst we may not be able to define this exactly, we know when we visit them that this is true.  Whether we can detect the energies present at such a site depends on many factors, particularly the cyclical nature of such energies in the landscape and in ourselves.’
Various cultures around the world maintain the importance of the sacredness of nature worship - often in a complex system of mountain and ancestor belief – at sites of revelation and inspiration. Mountains are often viewed as the source of a power which is to be awed and revered.  And perhaps we should all take the time to reflect on the words of Psalm 121:1 from the Old Testament in the King James Bible: ‘I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help…’

Publication: 28th August 2020. Pagan Portals: Sacred Landscape by Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books (www.moon-books.net) ISBN: 978 1 78904 407 2

<![CDATA[MIND, BODY & SPIRIT]]>Mon, 29 Jun 2020 08:52:56 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/mind-body-spiritPicture
Mind Body & Spirit
The ‘mind, body and spirit’ genre is one of the non-fiction ‘boom’ categories that is destined to grow judging from the number of new titles appearing in the publishers’ catalogues and the new magazines that have sprung up in recent years. But what exactly
is mind, body and spirit – or MB&S for short?
● In a nutshell, any traditional subject that encompasses old concepts of teaching updated so that the layperson has instant access to ancient wisdom;
● Traditional learning linked to New Age psychology and therapy to offer a key to personal self-help and improvement for a non-pagan reader;
● Alternative health and fitness regimes to improve the quality of daily living;
● Westernised Oriental philosophies utilising relaxation and harmony techniques without the need for in-depth study.
Unlike publications on witchcraft, magic and paganism, which were in the past only available from specialist bookshops – couched in esoteric jargon that added to the mystery and confusion – those dealing with MB&S subjects had a higher degree of ‘respectability’. The reader didn’t have to be pagan to be interested in alternative therapies. Much of this has changed since the publishing industry recognised a vast market potential in self-improvement and spirituality for the masses. Although the articles tend to be written from a non-magico-religious perspective, there are the occasional ‘white witchcraft’ columns that serve to demonstrate the increasingly open-mindedness of the commissioning editors.
MB&S covers a wide range of topics common to pagan writing and therefore requires a diverse stable of writers to meet the supply and demand. The topics fall roughly into the following categories and although the authors are usually listed as psycho- and dream-therapists, healers, counsellors, teachers, psychics, etc., this should not discourage anyone of pagan persuasion with working experience in these fields from submitting a proposal.
Health and Healing
Breathing and movement exercises; reflexology and chakra control; herbal remedies and aromatherapy; acupressure; creating perfumes; alternative choices in healing; channeling healing energies; shiatsu; self-healing; homeopathic medicine; creating sacred space with feng shui; Chinese herbal medicine; how to awaken and develop healing potential; iridology; massage; complimentary medicine; Chinese systems of food cures; gypsy folk medicine; Irish cures and superstitions; Tai Chi; flower remedies; yoga; Bach flower therapy; reiki; healthy eating, etc.
Using dreams and the Tarot to deter mine the future; moon, star and sun signs; the power of gems and crystals; Chinese elemental astrology; predictive astrology; lovers’ horoscopes; palmistry; Chinese and Aztec astrology; handwriting secrets revealed; rune magic; tree wisdom; dictionaries for dreams, superstitions, etc.
Self-Help and Improvement
Developing the inner-self; psycho-regression; the power of inner peace; meditation techniques; sexual dreaming; how to attract money; the I-Ching; using colour to reflect holistic being; neuro-linguistic programming; the art of sexual magic; development of
the personality; transcendental meditation, etc.,
Using a psycho-spiritual approach to everyday life; practical guides to shamanism; how to develop psychic power; karma and reincarnation; supernatural sites; pre-death experiences and the after-life; spiritual healing; care of the soul; psychic protection; cosmic consciousness, etc.,
Folklore and Mythology
This category includes every form of Celtic influence, not to mention obscure topics such as Aboriginal mythology, and a wealth of superstition and folk lore from all over the world.
As we can see, there are few subjects that don’t fall into the MB&S genre. The secret is to fully understand what is currently on offer and even more important – the level from which the subject is being approached by individual publishers. Many esoteric topics take years of learning before we even scratch the surface, so writing for the lay-person means that the subject must be couched in lay-person’s language. The secret of MB&S writing is the author’s ability to make the practice of their chosen subject appear easy to follow or achieve. A publisher will reject writing that goes over the heads of a general readership because the treatment is judged to be too esoteric or specialised.
As an example of a well-balanced MB&S title, without any pagan associations (although astrology also plays an important part in pagan belief), let’s look at Jonathan Cainer’s Guide to the Zodiac. Firstly, he has excellent credentials having written astrology columns for Woman, Prima and Woman & Home, The Daily Express, The Mirror plus magazines in USA and Australia. He was resident astrologer for The Daily Mail and although not many of us would be able to match such glowing antecedents, we will need to state why we are qualified to write about our subject and produce some background information to support
our claims.
Most people know which ‘star’ or sun sign they were born under even if they don’t even glance at the daily horoscope in the newspaper. Jonathan Cainer gives a gentle, non-patronising introduction to his subject and then takes the reader right back to basics – even debunking the myth about ‘being born on the cusp’. According to the author this is ‘an artificial invention, created to cover up the fact that the zodiac signs don’t conveniently click over at midnight on a particular date.’ This little piece of throw away information immediately offers the essential ‘hook’ that shows this chap knows what he’s talking about – and the budding astrologer wants to discover what other surprises are in store. Jonathan Cainer maintains a light and easy approach that is also entertaining since this is where he slips in his ‘history of astrology in two pages’.
As we can see, this is an extremely well-balanced approach to a popular subject, but what happens if we want to tackle some - thing that is less familiar. Chris Sempers, editor of Corvus Books’ ‘Magical World’ series was quite definite about the differences between writing for a specifically targeted readership and mainstream publications. Take writing about crystals, for example.
‘Corvus is looking for magical material for magical practitioners, so we’re not particularly interested in the mind, body and spirit approach. Mainstream publishers mostly require a lighter treatment on crystal healing or divination and usually steer well clear of the magical aspects. Even so, it still requires a broad knowledge about the propensities of individual crystals and what they can be used for. All these subjects stem from ancient lineage and I believe it’s important not to trivialise them purely for monetary gain.’
These sentiments echoed my own feelings when writing Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones for Moon Books. The result is a book that is aimed at those who have explored crystal working as a beginner and who now wish to understand the mysteries of the Earth at a deeper level. Although it echoes the ancient beliefs in the magic surrounding gemstones and crystals, it is a book that will not compromise anyone who might otherwise shy away from what they would normally perceive as ‘pagan writing’.
These subjects are also finding a growing range of outlets among the mainstream women’s magazines aimed at the 20-40s age group. Study a selection of material from the mini-snippets in the weeklies, to full-length features in the monthlies and you’re sure to find at least one article that falls into the MB&S category. The long-running (founded in 1936) monthly magazine, Prediction, caters specifically for writing in this category although many of the regular articles on subjects like Tarot and astrology are produced in-house. Freelance pieces from 800-2,000 words are welcome on Earth Mysteries, power animals and alternative medicine, and often written by well-known authors from the pagan community.
Even if you initially feel that there’s nothing in mainstream MB&S for you, don’t dismiss the genre out of hand. You may discover you’re sitting on a wealth of material that could be re-slanted to sit quite comfortably within editorial requirements for non-pagan readers. And remember, some of the best-selling authors in this field are in their 50s and 60s, so it’s an exciting new arena for everyone – not just younger writers.
Prepare a list of esoteric subjects that come under your sphere of interest or expertise and separate them into three categories: beginner … intermediate … experienced. For example, we may have a reasonable working knowledge of the Tarot but not consider ourselves an authority on the subject. On the other hand, as an Initiate of a particular Path or Tradition, we should be able to offer a more serious and in-depth approach to belief.
Remember that the pagan reader will read your article with a far more critical eye, and that the slightest error will bring forth a torrent of ‘letters to the editor’, which will ultimately damage your reputation with regard to future submissions.
Select your favourite subject and try to write an opening (i.e. introductory) paragraph for (a) a pagan reader and (b) an MB&S reader. Which did you find easier? And why? Which of the two approaches was the most natural? The results of this exercise should point you in the direction of a compatible readership for the beginner writer, regardless of your standing within the pagan community.
_ Remember that all successful writers had to start somewhere.
The Pagan Writers’ Guide by Melusine Draco was published by Compass Points in 2013.  ISBN 978 1 78278 108 9 : UK£7.99/US$11.95 : 86 pages : paperback and e-book format.

<![CDATA[Summer Solstice and the Mid-Summer  Festival]]>Tue, 16 Jun 2020 07:13:47 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/summer-solstice-and-the-mid-summer-festivalPicture

Coven of the Scales has been a working coven since at least the mid 1800s’ and possibly much earlier. Bob and Mériém Clay-Egerton ran the coven for many years and then the task of maintaining it passed to Mélusine Draco, who ran it single-handedly until the Autumn Equinox in 2016, when she appointed us as Dame and Magister. At that point she became ‘the Crone’ and has retreated behind the veil to further her own magical path, but she has always remained on hand for magical and practical advice and is still the Principal of our Order.
As we have discovered, however, running a coven is far from easy, particularly when its members are solitary witches who are widely geographically separated. Getting to know coven members on a more personal level has been very tricky, since emails, WhatsApp and the telephone are still not as meaningful a substitute for meeting up in person at Sabbats and sharing a feast afterwards. It is very difficult to get the ‘coven-mind’ working harmoniously and ensure the magical progression of our coveners.
Phillip and Carrie had been running their own coven successfully for years in St Albans, but since it was disbanded have continued to work alone. They, too, were trained by Bob and Meriam and were members of the mother Coven of the Scales. Melusine introduced them to us when we went to Ireland for our Ingathering in 2019 and we were very impressed by their obvious dedication and experience, which had been acquired as a result of them honing their Craft over several decades. Both are very private individuals, so you won’t find mention of them on social media, and they take great steps to maintain their privacy, but, having said that, they were very encouraged by the fact that we had taken up the mantles of Dame and Magister and immediately offered to help. As a result, they have agreed to step forward and assist with tutoring new students as well as re-writing their Ignotus classic, Coven Working, specifically for those wishing to join, or set up a working coven.
Many of our students have completed Arcanum and have asked for ideas as to how they should celebrate the Sabbats throughout the year and Round About the Cauldron Go … shows them exactly that. All of the workings apply whether the Coven as a whole is undertaking them or the witch as a solitary practitioner. They are easy to adapt for those working alone and will ensure that there is a consistency of approach across the entire Coven.
Since these workings are ONLY for use by Coven of the Scales, this book is being made available as a limited edition to those Coven members who have shown a genuine aptitude for Old Craft and have also shown an active progression with Craft itself. Its contents must not be divulged to others under any circumstances and any member found to have shared its contents may face banishment from the Coven! If you no longer require the book for any reason, we would ask that it be returned to the Dame and Magister.
We are greatly indebted to Phillip and Carrie for their help as we continue to take Coven of the Scales forward in to the coming years with the challenges that we’ll face.
Julie Dexter and James Rigel,
Dame and Magister of Coven of the Scales
Extract from Round About the Cauldron Go …
At one time the Mid-Summer festival coincided with the Summer Solstice but with the Church’s mania for aligning saints with sinners (i.e. the church calendar with pagan festivals), Mid-Summer Day was ‘adjusted’ to fall on St John’s Day when the old calendar was replaced by the Gregorian version.  The Summer Solstice marks the moment during the year when the path of the Sun in the sky is farthest north in the Northern Hemisphere (20th or 21st June) or farthest south in the Southern Hemisphere (21st or 22nd December).  According to the astronomical definition of the seasons, the Summer Solstice also marks the beginning of summer, which lasts until the Autumnal Equinox (22nd or 23rd September in the Northern Hemisphere, or 20th or 21st March in the Southern Hemisphere).  So, in Old Craft, St John gets booted into touch! 
Because this is an important day in the Coven calendar it is vital to synchronize our working to the precise moment in order to periodically re-energise the group’s ‘solar mind’. And for this we chose to celebrate Mid-Summer’s Eve and the Summer Solstice as one in accordance with the Old Ways.  Since this marks the half-way stage of the agrarian year, the goddess-power will now slowly begin to wane and god-power gradually be on the increase until he fully comes into his own at the Autumnal Equinox.
The actual date and time of the Summer Solstice will vary slightly each year (for astronomical reasons) but this information can be checked well in advance on the internet.  And since it is Mid-Summer, the rite should be held outside with the participants barefoot, since the Earth has natural electromagnetic waves, and when we stand barefoot on the ground an energy exchange also occurs to help with the re-energising of the Coven members individually.
Perhaps we should begin by saying a word about the Quarter Guardians. In magical practice, these four elements still guard the four cardinal points of the Compass and it doesn’t matter in whose name, or in what form, we summon them. When ‘Calling the Quarters’ for the Compass, it is usual to draw down the protection of the four Elements by summoning:
The Power of the Element of Earth, Fire, Air, Water …
The Guardian of the North, South, East, West …
These ancient symbols are magical shorthand that cut across the Aeons and connect us with the ‘Old Ones’ who are quite willing to pick up and communicate with those who ‘speak’ their language.  And when a magical practitioner makes the sign of the equal-armed cross + at each cardinal point of the Compass, they are evoking the protection of the four Elements – not using it in any Christian context. The equal-armed cross, also referred to as the square cross is another name for the Greek cross which is found in ancient cultures pre-dating Christianity. By introducing it into our Compass workings we are bringing down every attribute, association and correspondence relating to those four points of the Compass simply by evoking the Guardian and making the sign of that cross. [See Power of the Elements by Mélusine Draco for a full explanation.]
In Wort-lore: The Craft of Witches, Mélusine Draco reveals that the names of plants used in witchcraft and spell-casting often had their own particular brand of magical ‘short-hand’, many being the old rural names by which they were known in different parts of the country. For example, this traditional rhyme has obviously been adapted at some stage from Shakespeare’s Macbeth:
Round about the cauldron go
In! The herbs of magic throw,
Elfwort, trefoil, goat’s leaf, bour,
In the cauldron the magic four.
 Goatweed, basil, graveyard dust
Thrice about it go we must.
Elf-leaf, dilly, Juno’s tears,
Witchbane, bat’s wings, dead men’s bells
Together bind this magic spell.
Thrice about the cauldron run,
Charm the spell and it be done.
It isn’t difficult to see how mysterious and exotic these ingredients sound until it is shown that they are merely the old country names for plants used in spell-casting. For example, ‘elfwort’ is elecampane, a member of the sunflower family and its use goes back to ancient Greece; ‘goat’s leaf’ is honeysuckle and ‘bour’ is a 14th century name for elder flowers. ‘Goatweed’ refers to St John’s wort and ‘graveyard dust’ to valerian. ‘Elf-leaf ’ refers to either rosemary or lavender, and ‘dilly’ is the herb dill; ‘Juno’s tears’ is vervain; ‘witchbane’ is rowan, ‘bat’s wings’ is holly and ‘dead men’s bells’ is foxglove.
To use these flowers for a protective pouch it is necessary to make a fresh one every year as part of the Mid-Summer Rite and burn the old one in the sacred (hearth) fire. All the ingredients for the new one must be harvested and dried at the time of the full moon around Midsummer’s Eve. Once all the ingredients are assembled, circle your cauldron chanting: ‘Round about the cauldron go …
This is an alternative (but traditional) rite that can be performed to synchronize with the mother Coven’s Summer Solstice/Mid Summer Festival rite because we are raising the power simultaneously – but in different parts of the country and by a different method.  Nevertheless, although there is neither time nor distance in the astral realms, a psychic link can be made, especially if we use the customary magical time of three hours after sunset when ‘Kindred calls to kindred, blood calls to blood’.  Most weather apps will include the time for sunset in your location: if sunset is given as 6.00pm then the appropriate magical time will be 9.00pm
Or we can synchronize the Coven rite by following the Compass casting … the Magister’s call and the Invoking Pentagram … and closing down when the rite is over.
Philip & Carrie

<![CDATA[Of Times Past ...]]>Wed, 10 Jun 2020 12:09:33 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/of-times-pastPicture
The Coarse Witchcraft Trilogy has gone through several incarnations in its publishing history. 
The original idea was inspired by an old Questos Theatre chum Michael Green who’d written The Art of Coarse Acting and the series of other ‘coarse’ activities.  Subsequently the first book in the Coarse Witchcraft series – Craft Working – was published in 2002 by ignotus press with the following introduction:
Coarse Witchcraft is a squint-eyed look at what passes for Craft in many modern groups and just how much of the teaching has been dumbed-down so that everyone can acquire rank and have a ‘crack at the priesthood’.
     This blind grope for titles, rank and public acclaim have replaced the enlightened quest for genuine wisdom and ability, while the old Witch-magic is practised by fewer and fewer of those who would call themselves Witches.  There are also those who insist on being recognised as instant Adepts in a system that takes years of study and preparation – but book-learning is not enough as many have found to their cost when confronted by real Old Crafters.
     Coarse Witchcraft: Craft Working is a no-holds-barred view of what is going on today in many Craft circles.  Hopefully, those who read this book will laugh with us, and realise that it is possible to mix mirth and magic, while still retaining respect for oneself and the Old Ways.
Fans of the Coarse Witchcraft series are aware of the story behind the trilogy. How the authors were unhappy with the proposed ideas for publishing the first book as humour instead of the polemic typescript they had originally proposed. They finally agreed for the text to be given to Melusine Draco (as a fellow Old Crafter) to ghost-write and Coarse Witchcraft: Craft Working was duly published – provoking more good natured laughter about British witchcraft than we could have expected in our wildest dreams. Even provoking esoteric author and long-time chum, Alan Richardson, to day of the book: ‘Coarse Witchcraft made me laugh out loud in more than a few places. In fact, I think it is the first book of its kind; although it pokes fun at modern excesses and can laugh at itself, it still manages to teach the real stuff at a very high level.’
Coarse Witchcraft is like Marmite – you either love it or hate it!  Those who hate it usually object to the initiatory, hierarchical, god-oriented and perceived elitism of the Tradition whilst failing to understand that the participants themselves can mock the very essence of the beliefs and practices they follow – but in a spirit of fun.  After all, if the antics of traditional witchcraft were half as dour as the historians and academics would have us believe, do you really think the Tradition would have survived as long as it has!  Old Craft has always had a certain graveyard or gallows humour about it that makes light of subject matter that is generally considered taboo, particularly subjects that are normally considered serious or unpleasant to discuss. 
There was almost enough material left from the first book to launch a second: Coarse Witchcraft 2: Carry On Crafting that was supplemented by additional stories from other Old Crafters - and
was dedicated to all those who did believe that reverence should be tempered with mirth and
merriment.  For reasons that will become apparent, the third (and last) title, Coarse Witchcraft 3: Cold Comfort Coven was a long time in the writing.  Written in the same vein as the previous
titles, it continued the unexpected, but true, story of the Coven from the numerous notes supplied by, and lengthy conversations with, the original members.
Despite the popularity of the books, the original authors decided to hand all copyright back to the ghost-writer who had created the series (with the proviso that the true identities of the characters should never be revealed), and retire from the scene.  In light of the fact that they’d been subjected to a concentrated ‘witch-hunt’ by members of the pagan community who wanted to track them down – for reasons best known to themselves – we can only support their decision to go back into the shadows.
Whatever any of us feel about Coarse Witchcraft, in its own way the Trilogy (republished in 2013 by Moon Books) represents a small but important capsule of Craft history that ignotus press was lucky enough to preserve for the next generation of witches.  The books encapsulate three decades in the life of a genuine traditional British Old Craft coven through the 1980s … 1990s … 2000s … and it may be that the time of the covens is passed. 

But I doubt it!

Melusine Draco
The Coarse Witchcraft Trilogy by Rupert and Gabrielle Percy (Introduction by Melusine Draco) is published by Moon Books.  ISBN 978 1 78279 285 7 : 256 pages : UK£10.99/US$18.95. Available in paperback and e-book format.  www.moon-books.net

<![CDATA[Book extract ...]]>Wed, 10 Jun 2020 09:04:54 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/book-extract7924865Picture
Pagan Portals
By Spellbook & Candle: Cursing, Hexing, Bottling and Binding
The subject of cursing is something that crops up quite frequently on social media, usually in the context of whether it’s ever justified.  Plus the endless compendiums of superstition and folklore contain endless charms, talismans and amulets for protection against the witches’ curse.  So, let’s put the subject into some form of perspective:
Curses have given the world its greatest stories, and the more grisly and gory, the better we like them. But cursing, or ill-wishing, is not confined to magical practitioners – black, white or
grey – it is a form of expression intended to do harm in reparation for some real or imagined insult. And can be ‘thrown’ by anyone of any race, culture or creed without any prior experience of ritual magic or witchcraft.
Curses have also been taken seriously in literature. In Phases in the Religion of Ancient Rome, we discover that Roman poets Ovid and Horace recorded all manner of cursing in their writings. Or the most famous (albeit apocryphal) – that of the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, which inspired six dramatic novels by French author Maurice Druon – The Accursed Kings. Precious jewels connected to royalty and infamy have also inspired a variety of curses, especially where tragedy has repeatedly struck. As a result, the gems have been deemed to be cursed – with ruin and even death the unhappy lot of whoever owns them, as demonstrated in Simon Raven’s contemporary novel, The Roses of Picardie.
Folklore also casts long shadows, with some infamy bringing a curse down on a family, which in turn has resulted in numerous tall tales, like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, featuring fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Elizabethan curses appear in Shakespeare … and the Bible, where the most vigorous and far-reaching are to be found in the
Old Testament … and in children’s stories such as Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast. And how many schoolgirls have giggled over Tennyson’s immortal lines: ‘The curse has come upon me,’ cried the Lady of Shallot?
Confusingly, some curses have passed into the language – the ‘Curse of Scotland’ for example can refer to (1) the nine of diamonds in the game of Pope Joan – the Pope, the Antichrist
of the Scottish reformers. (2) A great winning card in comette, introduced by Mary, Queen of Scots, and the curse of Scotland because it was the ruin of so many families. (3) The card on
which the ‘Butcher Duke’ wrote his cruel order after the Battle of Culloden. (4) Or the arms of Dalrymple, Earl of Stair, responsible for the massacre of Glencoe. (5) The nine of diamonds is said to imply royalty and ‘every ninth king of Scotland has been observed for many ages to be a tyrant and a curse to the country’. [Tour Thro’ Scotland, Grose 1789]
The dictionary definition is: To invoke or wish evil upon; to afflict; to damn; to excommunicate; evil invoked on another person, but under what circumstances can we challenge this established way of thinking and ask ourselves: Can cursing ever be justified? And if we hesitate for just a moment, then we must ask the next question: Is cursing evil? The Christian priesthood obviously felt their cause was just and as a result, the Church’s curses are so
virulent that it’s not just the ‘victim’ that suffers but their offspring in successive generations. And if a curse is thrown at the perpetrator of some terrible crime, can it really be deemed to be
One curse still heard quite regularly is: ‘A plague on both their houses!’ taken from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. As John Wain observes in The Living World of Shakespeare, there is no reason, other than sheer stupidity and bloody-mindedness, that keeps the Montagues and Capulets at each other’s throats. The blame for the subsequent tragedy is equally divided between both families and therefore the curse should strike both in equal retribution, so is considered justified.
Nevertheless, do remember that curses, like chickens, have a habit of coming home to roost. This is because if not properly ‘earthed’, curses return to the curser, just as chickens that stray during the day return to their roost at night.
So … having ascertained that your ‘enemy’ is genuine, you must decide how you wish to repulse their advances. The form of your retaliation will be decided by your own personality and sense of morality – it is an extension of your own inner mind. There are no hard and fast rules, but do bear in mind that a half-hearted response is just as bad as going over the top. In either case you
will have misjudged or misread the situation; alerted your enemy to the fact that you’re on to them; and given them the opportunity to change tack. Take a look at your options:
• Double up on personal protection and take defensive measures rather than taking the war into the enemy’s camp;
• If you are not 100% sure of the source, channel the returning curse through your personal guardian/deity with the proviso that it should be ‘returned from whence it came’;
• If you are 100% sure of the source and you wish to pay back in kind, then the method, strength and outcome should be magnified three, five, ten or a hundred fold;
• If anger or ego is clouding your judgement, delay the return for 24 hours and reflect.
It is important not to be led astray by ego or paranoia because whatever anyone tells you, it is impossible to recall a curse once it’s been sent – which is why you need to be 100% sure of the source before retaliating. What you don’t want is to become embroiled in an astral equivalent of Gunfight at the OK Corral with magical six-guns blazing – it is tiring, time-consuming and
generates nothing but negative energy on both sides. Bob Clay-Egerton’s advice under such circumstances was: ‘There is nothing wrong with turning the other cheek, or with forgiving an offence. But there is nothing wrong either with taking protective measures against further slaps. If this is done, then you are perhaps doing a good deed by demonstrating to the attacker that, although you, yourself are not attacking, you are guarding yourself in such a way that their attacks are turned against themselves and that they are, in effect attacking, not you, but themselves. Beware then, not only of excess pride but also of excess humility. Both can be damaging.’
One of the most popular methods of deflecting a curse is to hang an empowered witch-ball in the main entrance hall of your home. The first written record of this method dates back to 1690 where a large glass ball, brightly painted to give a reflective surface to deflect any negative energies coming from any direction and returning them to the sender. A more modern application is the use of a mirrored ball that ‘confuses’ the energies with its broken or distorted patterns. The curse cannot connect and, having nowhere else to go, goes winging back to the sender, gathering momentum in the process.
Specifically vervain and dill were mentioned in the poem, Nymphidia, by Michael Drayton (c1627) – as a protective spell against curses. Accompany the installation of the ball with the sprinkling of those herbs cited in the 17th-century rhyme:
Trefoil, vervain, John’s wort, dill
That hindereth witches of the Will.
In Defences Against the Witches’ Craft, John Canard writes that he is a ‘great believer in returning the energy a person puts out to them. If they are sending you negative energy, reflect it to them and let them have a taste of their own medicine. The best way to ensure that somebody does not make the same mistake of directing negativity at you is to switch the tables so they receive what they were trying to give.’  But then … why go to the bother of cursing, when a bottling or binding can be just as effective?
So Mote It Be!

Pagan Portals: By Spellbook & Candle – Cursing, Hexing, Bottle and Binding by Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books.  ISBN 978 1 78099 563 2 : Pages 90 : UK£4.99/US$9.95.  Available in paperback or e-book format.

<![CDATA[THE TRADITIONAL WITCH'S CALENDAR - JUNE]]>Fri, 05 Jun 2020 12:40:31 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/the-traditional-witchs-calendar-junePicture
Summer Solstice and the Mid-Summer Festival
According to the astronomical definition of the seasons, the Summer Solstice also marks the beginning of summer, which lasts until the Autumnal Equinox (September 22nd or 23rd in the Northern Hemisphere, or March 20th or 21st in the Southern Hemisphere). The day has also been celebrated in many cultures, where in Scandinavia for example, the holiday of Midsummer’s Eveis observed on a weekend near the time of the Solstice.
JUNE and JULY were together known as Liða, an Old English word meaning ‘mild’ or ‘gentle’, which referred to the period of warm, seasonable weather either side of Midsummer. To differentiate between the two, JUNE was sometimes known as [OE]sÆrra Līþa ‘Before Midsummer’, or ‘First Summer’. [OHG] Brāh-mānod Brachmonat ‘fallow month’.   In the 14th century misericord calendar, it was shown as the time for hawking and leisure before the start of the harvest. The tree representing June is the Oak, symbol of the god in his guise as Oak King or the Green Man.
Oak Magic: The old saying: ‘two hundred years growing, two hundred years staying, and two hundred years dying’, reflects the great age, which oaks can achieve. Much of European folklore is based upon an inherent reverence for the oak, whose human qualities included a voice that screamed and groaned in agony if the tree was felled – as if it were the genius of the oake lamenting. Touching wood for luck is an expression of these ancient beliefs, reflecting the respect given to the guardian spirits of the tree. The close grain of oak means that the wood burns slowly and gives off a lot of heat; although magical need-fires should not be fuelled with oak timber, the fire can be lit with a brand of burning oak.
9th Vestalia honours Vesta, Roman goddess of hearth and home, who was worshipped in every household, while the sacred Fire of State was kept ever burning (except on the first day of the  new year when it was ceremonially renewed). Domestic and family life in general was represented by the festival of the goddess of the house and of the spirits of the store-chamber – Vesta and the Penates – on Vestalia. Today: Use the following poem to carry out a magical cleansing or banishing for the family home.
11th St Barnabas’ Day. Named because this is the time of the hay-harvest and as the saint’s symbol is the rake, he fitted nicely into the Church calendar. A cartload of hay would seem to be too common a sight in rural areas to excite much notice, but an odd set of beliefs held it to be unlucky, which could be averted by spitting for good luck. Today: Celebrate hay-making if only to enjoy the scent of the freshly cut grass.
11th Matralia was the annual matron’s festival at Rome. The festival was only for single women or women in their first marriage, who offered prayers for their nieces and nephews. Today: A good time to treat your favourite family members to a special day out.
Weather-lore: ‘Summer doesn’t start until the elder is in flower.’
13th Feast of Epona. Epona is the Gallo-Roman horse goddess often linked with similar deities such as the Welsh Goddess Rhiannon and the Irish Macha. In statues she is shown seated between two foals, holding a sheaf of wheat or a cornucopia and her worship was introduced to Britain by the Roman Legions. Today: Make it a special day for your equine companion.
15th Anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 at Runnymede. Magna Carta is one of the world’s most influential documents – an agreement granted by King John in 1215 as a practical solution to a political crisis, which in the centuries since has become a potent symbol of liberty and the rule of law. Like other medieval royal charters, the original Magna Carta documents which were drawn up for distribution across the kingdom were authenticated with the Great Seal, not by the signature of the king. The original Magna Carta manuscripts were dispatched over a period of a few weeks in late June and early July 1215. It isn’t known exactly how many copies were drawn up in 1215, but of the original Magna Carta manuscripts, only four survive. Today: Make a point of visiting one of the copies of this famous document if you or any of your family haven’t seen it before.
19th St Edmund’s Day Fair at Abingdon. Traditionally this was celebrated with an ox roast and the meat given to the poor. Dancing the Morris is an integral part of the festivities. Today: If there’s a fair or market is your vicinity, make it a family day out.
21st The Summer Solstice is the pivotal day that heralds the long slide into winter and is a highly significant date in the pagan magical calendar since it is the true Mid-Summer Day at the half-way mark between the Venal and the Autumnal Equinoxes. Check with the Internet for the correct alignment and organise a summer party.
23rd St Audrey’s Fair. At the annual fair in the Isle of Ely, showy lace called St Audrey’s lace was sold, and gave foundation to the word ‘tawdry’, which means anything gaudy, in bad taste, and of little value. Shakespeare makes an allusion to this lace in the Winter’s Tale and possibly the later post-Reformation calendar on 17th October: “Come you promised me a tawdry lace, and a pair of sweet gloves.” Today: Beware of buying anything that isn’t what it seems, i.e, dishonesty.
23rd The Carn Brea Midsummer Bonfire [Cornwall] ceremony was a pagan festival before it was hallowed by the Church to celebrate the Eve of St John. Today: Light the patio fire for Mid-Summer Eve and enjoy a simple meal outdoors with friends or family.
24th Mid-Summer Day was merged with St John’s Day in the Church calendar, and is considered in ancient folklore one of the great ‘charmed’ festivals of the year. Hidden treasures are said to lie open in lonely places, waiting for the lucky finder. Divining rods should be cut on this day. Herbs are given unusual powers of healing, which they retain if they are plucked during the night of the feast; rose, St John’s wort, vervain, trefoil and rue, all of which were supposed to have magical properties. Today: Make sure to stock up with any wild herbs and plants and throw the old stock away by burning them on the bonfire.
24th Mid-Summer Night. Circles that form naturally in the grass were regarded as having magical properties and were termed ‘fairy rings’. In Sussex these are called ‘hag tracks’ and believed, as the names implies, to be caused by witches dancing in the round.
26th Death of the Emperor Julian, the first pagan martyr (d.363). He was a man of unusually complex character, being ‘the military commander, the theosophist, the social reformer, and the man of letters’. He was the last non-Christian ruler of the Roman Empire, and it was his desire to bring the Empire back to its ancient pagan values in order to, as he saw it, save it from dissolution. Today: Light candles in remembrance.
29th St Peter’s Day Hay Strewing. New-mown hay is spread over the floor of Wingrave church [Buckinghamshire] replacing the ancient practice of rush-spreading, when the earthen floor of churches were covered with fresh rushes once a year. Tradition tells that a local woman lost her way one winter’s night and nearly dying from exposure was led to safety by the sound of the church bells. The hay is cut from a nearby field she bequeathed to the church. Today: Bring fragrant herbs and cut grasses into your home in a gesture of ritual cleansing.
29th St Peter’s Day and the annual Yarnton Meadow Lottery when the mowing rights of certain meadows in Yarnton [Oxfordshire] are allocated yearly in a ceremony which has remained unchanged for nearly 1000 years. The distribution of the plots is allocated by the drawing of lots. Thirteen ancient wooden balls – known as Mead Balls – possibly made from holly wood and each marked with a name, thought to be that of the original tenant-farmer who held the mowing rights in the 11th century. Today: Take the dog for a long walk and enjoy the day.
Weather-lore:  Rain on Peter and Paul (29th June) will rot the roots of the rye.’

<![CDATA[A Book-Worm’s Eye View of the God]]>Fri, 22 May 2020 10:41:20 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/a-book-worms-eye-view-of-the-godPicture

As most of my readers will know, I have a fascination for odd and obscure historical facts that are hidden away in the millions of sources that outstrip and confound the confines of the Internet – it’s finding them that presents the stimulation and the challenge. If we merely rely on the regurgitated information of contemporary paganism not only does our mind become stagnant, but for those who follow the Craft of the witch, so do our magical abilities.
In traditional British Old Craft, ours is a nameless god – a composite of all the images from the ancient world that The Orphic Hymns hailed as:
I call strong Pan, the substance of the whole,
Etherial, marine, earthly, general soul,
Immortal fire; for all the world is thine,
And all are parts of thee, O pow’r divine.
Which probably explains why in Coven of the Scales schooling, Meriem Clay-Egerton always
saw Pan as the Horned God ... and the Horned God as Pan. This was a traditional British Old Craft coven that honoured Aegocerus the ‘goat-horned’ – an epithet of the Greek Pan – not
Cernunnos, the stag-horned deity the Celts had brought with them from northern Europe. It should also be understood that although Coven of the Scales held firmly to the philosophy and
opinion that all faiths were One and all Paths led to the same Goal, it did not advocate what is now referred to as ‘eclectic paganism’. So how on earth could this ancient, pre-Olympian
Greek deity find his way into the beliefs of traditional witchcraft in Britain?
Pan: Dark Lord of the Forest and Horned God of the Witches is an exploration of how an Old European deity who, even in Classical Greece defied their ethnic love of order and refused to be pigeon-holed, categorized and compartmentalized to fit into the Olympian pantheon.  This ancient libertine was too scruffy and unkempt to be included among these exalted creatures – but then again, he was far too powerful to be ignored.  Needless to say, Pan possessed all the conventional abilities of the Olympian gods such as super-human strength and longevity, shape-shifting, stamina and resistance to injury. He also had some mystical powers, especially those associated with music and dance, and its magical potency; not to mention a very wily mind, a raucous sense of humour and a shout or scream that instilled terror in the hearer.
Yet Pan’s image retained its immense power when Greek myth passed into Christian myth, with Pan’s cloven-footed appearance providing a perfect concept for the Devil in the eyes of the new, evolving priesthood. In ancient and medieval times the common people were taught by being exposed to holy images, and fear would not have been instilled in them by being shown pictures of the Olympian ‘beautiful people’; particularly during the medieval period, when the Devil was conceived as having horns and a goat’s hindquarters. Pan’s activities are those of a giver of fertility; hence he is represented as vigorous and lustful – the latter being one of the Devil’s bestial characteristics and a condition abhorrent to the Christian clergy.
Nevertheless, once an image has become firmly engrained in the cultural unconsciousness it is extremely difficult to dislodge. Joseph L. Henderson of the Jung Foundation described it as an area of historical memory that lies between the collective unconscious and the manifest culture pattern; having some kind of identity ‘arising from the archetypes of the collective unconscious which, on one hand, assists in the formation of myth and ritual, and on the other, promotes the process of development in individual human beings…’ These mythological motifs, or primordial thoughts, lie dormant until some dream, vision or epiphany brings them to the fore – and often with conflicting emotions between faith and instinct.
Because behind every myth, fairy tale and legend – hidden within the art, song and structures of those ancient times – is an encoded layer of wisdom, science and truth passed down through countless generations.  Between 1890 and 1926 there was an ‘astonishing resurgence of interest in the Pan motif’. He appears in poetry, in novels and children’s books, and as the eponymous ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ in Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (1908), providing the reader with one of the most evocative images of the Great God Pan ever written:
...saw the backward sweep of the curved horns, gleaming in the growing daylight; saw the stern, hooked nose between the kindly eyes that were looking down on them humorously, while the bearded mouth broke into a half-smile at the corners; saw the ripping muscles on the arm that lay across the broad chest, the long supple hand still holding the panpipes... saw the splendid curves of the shaggy limbs...
As you read this, Pan is opening his strange eyes with those lucid, rectangular pupils which gives him huge peripheral vision. He is observing you very quietly. Look up from the page, look around. He is here, now. Believe what I say!
     Melusine Draco’s book is filled with pleasing seeds and roots that she has collected from obscure, musty corners of the mythological and literary forest. Just brooding upon them ensures that they will be planted and grow in your consciousness, often in startling ways. And if you ever find yourself on hilltops in Wiltshire and see an elegantly ageing and once-handsome chappie chanting: Io Pan, Io Pan, Io Pan, Pan Pan! then you’re probably hearing me putting to good use the practical evocations she gives.  Alan Richardson, author of Priestess and The Old Sod, biographies of Dion Fortune and Bill Gray
A fascinating and interesting read packed full of historical and mythological information and knowledge. Draco has researched her subject well, illuminating Pan as never before. His mystique and folklore jump off the page and make you yearn to find him in the forest!  Draco is a well respected instructor in British Old Craft and she shares her wisdom in her many books on traditional witchcraft and magic. This latest book richly adds to her collection. A must read for those interested in learning more about the Horned God with practical exercises to enhance the reader’s consciousness along the way. Enter the woods – if you dare! Sarah-Beth Watkins, Publisher Chronos Books
Just finished this book and I highly recommend it. I’m a polytheist so I don’t believe in one overall horned god and I’m happy to say this book can appeal to all. I’ve studied Pan’s lore for many years yet there are pieces of lore in this book I have not seen and also insight that made me stop and think. Great book. Pan & Hecate FB page
A thoroughly enjoyable journey through Pan’s forest of legend and myth as expressed through art, literature, poetry and spiritual beliefs from ancient through to modern times. As always, Melusine Draco’s fine scholarship and insightful perspectives elevate what might have been a dry academic study to that of intriguing discovery. Also appreciated are the author’s inclusion of personal experiences connected with the Dark Lord. Highly recommended!  M Orlando
From the start, I was impressed with this book. The author did a fantastic job of researching the material she used as sources, including many passages to prove the points she was making. I liked her informative writing style and thought this was a really interesting look at Pan through the ages and different cultures. A lot of times, books like this can quickly become redundant and lose my interest, but this one didn’t. I enjoyed reading this and felt like I learned quite a bit from it by the end. If you are interested in the horned god, this is a book that you don’t want to miss.  Ionia Froment | Goodreads /NetGalley 

Pagan Portals: PAN – Dark Lord of the Forest and God of the Witches by Melusine Draco and published by Moon Books : ISBN 978 1 78535 512 7 – pages 84 : UK£5.99/US$9.95 Available from www.moon-books.net

<![CDATA[The Traditional Witch's Calendar - May]]>Sat, 02 May 2020 08:00:34 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/the-traditional-witchs-calendar-may6599168Picture
MAY: [OE] Þrimilce-mōnaþ ‘Thrimilce ‘Month of Three Milkings’ when livestock were often so well fed on fresh spring grass that they could be milked three times a day. [OHG] Winni-mánód ‘pasture month’. In the 14th century misericord calendar, it was shown as the time for blessing the crops since farmers needed all the help they could get. The tree representing May is the White-thorn or Hawthorne; also known as the May Tree because of its associations with May Day. Since this is a sacred tree it was considered unlucky to take branches of flowers into the house; if used as decorations outside it was a symbol of good luck.
Hawthorn Magic: The inhabitants of Anglo-Saxon Britain regarded the haegthorn as a magical plant, belonging to the woodland gods. On 1st May, the witch should visit a local sacred well or spring and cast a silver coin into the water before making a wish. Drink the water at sunrise from the horn of a cow, or wash any afflicted limbs in the water; when you leave, tie a piece of fabric or ribbon to a bush or tree nearby.
1st Beltaine is the anglicised  Gaelic name for the May Day festival, most commonly held on 1st May, and marks the end of the winter half of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and is traditionally a day of celebration and revelry in many cultures around the world, but this holiday has surprisingly deep roots that tap into ancient pre-Christian customs relating to fertility, agriculture, and the Spring Equinox. May Day was once the premier summer holiday in many ancient European pagan cultures, where the beginning of February marked the beginning of spring, May 1st marked the beginning of summer – the season of growth and life for crops, animals, and people. Today: Be out first thing in the morning to bathe your face in the morning dew.
1st Calan Mai or ‘Calend (first day) of May’ or Calan Haf  Calend of Summer’ is a May Day holiday of Wales. Celebrations started on the evening before, known as May Eve, with bonfires ; as with Calan Gaeaf on November 1st, the night before (Welsh: Nos Galan Haf) is considered an Ysbrydnos or ‘spirit night’ when spirits are out and about divination is possible. The tradition of lighting bonfires celebrating this occasion happened annually in South Wales until the middle of the 19th century. Today: Light the patio fire and celebrate.
1st May Day or Garland Day. In Britain, as in most parts of Western Europe, May Day marked the end of the harsh winter months. For our ancestors it was a major annual festival and was celebrated throughout the country with music, dancing and games. Traditional May Day celebrations included dancing around the maypole, the appearance of the ‘hobby horses’ and characters such as Robin Hood and Jack-in-the-Green. Today: Join in the May Day celebrations in your part of the country.
Weather-lore: Hoar frost on May 1st indicates a good harvest.’
1st May Day. According to the entry in Brewer’s The Dictionary of Phrase & Fable: ‘Polydore Vigil says that the Roman youths would go into the fields and sped the calens of May in dancing and singing in Honour of Flora, goddess of fruits and flowers. The early English consecrated May-day to Robin Hood and the Maid Marian, because the favourite English outlaw is said to have died on that day. Stow says the villagers used to set up May-poles, and spend the day in archery, morris-dancing and other amusements.’
3rd [NS] Roodmas the English name for Beltaine, as in keeping with Candlemas (Imbolc), Lammas (Lughnasad), and Hallowmas (Samhain), should be celebrated as near 1st May as possible. Today: Use the following poem and conduct a magical cleansing and protection rite for your home.
3rd Roodmas planting. From very early times, beans were the staple diet of country folk; they were thought to contain spirits, and their flowers were associated with death. In Yorkshire it was said that broad bean flowers contained the souls of the departed, while in Devonshire it was believed that if in a row of beans one should come up with white instead of green, there would be a death in the family within the year. To plant kidney beans on any day other than 3rd May was tempting fate. Today: Plant your beans according to tradition and guarantee a good harvest.
8th The Festival of the Helston Furry Dance is held annually in Cornwall and is said to be one of the oldest examples of a communal spring festival dance. Together with the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance in September, it is one of the oldest British customs still practiced today. A celebration of the passing of winter and the arrival of spring, the modern variant of the dance holds few similarities with the proposed original having been revived long after the event had died out. Today: An ideal time to formally welcome in the summer.
9-11th Lemuria were these odd-numbered days when Roman domestic ceremonies were performed in honour of the ancestors. Acknowledge the passing of family members who have died during the preceding winter and for those who are still sorely missed. Today: Leave a lighted candle on the doorstep to guide home any restless spirits and honour them with an offering of bread and milk.
12th Old Beltane. Even more traditionally, the festival fell about halfway between the Vernal Equinox and the Summer Solstice and was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. In Irish the name for the festival day is Lá Bealtaine – and is similar to the Welsh Calan Mai. Beltane is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and it is associated with important events in Irish mythology. Historically, it marked the beginning of summer and was when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth. Special bonfires were kindled, and their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. The people and their cattle would walk around the bonfire or between two bonfires, and sometimes leap over the flames or embers. All household fires would be doused and then re-lit from the Beltaine bonfire. These gatherings would be accompanied by a feast, and some of the food and drink would be offered to the Aos Sí. Today: Draw on the energies of Old Beltaine and celebrate as our ancestors celebrated with feasting and merriment in time honoured tradition.
17th Feast day of St Madern (Maden, Madron) of Cornwall (6th century). It has been suggested that he was a Christianisation of the mythical Celtic Modron, the mother goddess, since some aspects of the veneration at Madron’s Well do appear to derive from pagan origins. Today: Offer up food and wine to honour the Triple Goddess.
22nd Feast Day of St Helene (Elen, Helen) of Carnarvon. Her story is told in the tales associated with the Mabinogion. Welsh mythology remembers her as the daughter of a chieftain who lived somewhere near Caernarfon and for encouraging the building of roads across her country so that the soldiers could more easily defend it from attackers, thus earning her the name Elen Luyddog (Elen of the Hosts). Since many characters in these tales are thought to be Christianised reflections of older deities, it has been suggested that Elen reflects (along with Rhiannon, etc.,) customs of the Old Ways. Today: Walk out in the woods and appreciate the wonders of the natural world.
Weather-lore: ‘A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay’.
23rd The Tubilustria of May was dedicated to Volcanus, an early Roman deity of fire and the smithy, which identifies with the later connections in traditional witchcraft and many other northern European Traditions. Today: Light the patio fire in homage.
29th [OS] Ambarvalia was a solemn annual Roman purification of the fields, when each farmer led his household and one of his animals in a procession around the boundaries of his land. The name ‘ambarvalia’ appears, however, to be predominantly an urban designation as Roman farmers’ almanacs (menologia rustica) describe this only as segetes lustrantur (‘crops are purified’). Joseph Justus Scaliger, a classics scholar maintained the ambarvalia to be the same as amburbium, an ancient Roman festival for purifying the city. Numerous other communities of the Italian peninsula enacted similar rites with different names such as Old Beltaine. Today: Observe as one of the pastoral festivals with a simple lunch in the open air.
30th Death of King Arthur in 542AD and one recurrent aspect of Arthurian literature is the notion that he will one day return to save his people. According to the Welsh Triads, Brân’s head was buried in London where the White Tower now stands. As long as it remained there, Britain would be safe from invasion but King Arthur dug up the head, declaring the country would be protected only by his great strength – which did not prevent either the Roman or Norman Conquests! Today: Light a candle in memory.
Whitsuntide takes place during the week following Whitsunday, and was one of three vacation weeks for the medieval villein; on most manors he was free from service on the lord’s demesne this week, which marked a pause in the agricultural year. It equates with the important Church festival of Pentecost and in early medieval England it took on some characteristics of Beltaine, which originated from the pagan celebration of Mid Summer’s Day, the beginning of the summer half-year, in Europe. As the first holiday of the summer, Whitsun was one of the favourite times in the traditional calendar and Whit Sunday, or the following week, was a time for celebration. This took the form of fêtes, fairs, pageants and parades with Whitsun ales and Morris dancing in the south of England and Whit walks and wakes in the north.
Ascensiontide often coincides with well-dressing in parts of the Midlands and provides an important link with pagan well-worship. Well-lore has survived in every part of Britain in the form of ‘holy’, ie. saints, or wishing wells. See 2nd March. Today: Put in an appearance at your local well.

<![CDATA[Book extract ...]]>Sat, 11 Apr 2020 11:39:37 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/book-extract Picture
Aubry’s Dog: Power Animals in Tradition Witchcraft
Dog’s are never out of the limelight these days.  They lead the visually impaired, alert the hard of hearing and support those with mental problems.  The load and unload washing machines; help with medication; sniff-out substances such as explosives, illegal drugs, wildlife scat, currency, blood, and contraband electronics; they are members of the armed forces, police and the fire service. The use of dogs in search and rescue is a valuable component in wilderness tracking, natural disasters, mass casualty events, and in locating missing people.  They make wonderful companions and research has shown that caring for a canine might actually extend our lifespan. Previous studies have shown that dog owners have an innate sense of comfort and increased well-being and they provide a calming influence to help reduce both physical and psychological reactivity which is particularly relevant for veterans who are suffering from PTSD … and the list goes on.
Is it surprising then, that magical practitioners can drawn on the ‘power of the dog’ ? DNA research has led to the deciphering of the genetic code of the dog, which makes the choice of the dog ideal as a ‘power animal’.   An article in the Science Journal reveals that many of the 360 inherited dog diseases have human counterparts, and that the genetic code of the dog is spelt out by about 2,500 million ‘letters’, compared with the 3,000 million that describes their owners. “Dogs and humans share 650 million ‘letters’ and scientists have found an equivalent dog gene for three quarters of known human genes,” explained Dr Venture. “The fact that they are so similar, despite millions of years of evolution along separate tracks, suggests that they are important.”  A fact that should not be overlooked by magical practitioners when searching for a compatible power animal.
To put power dogs in their true magical perspective we need to recognise which breeds are the aristocrats in terms of our own ancestral associations – as well as theirs. We must also understand why certain dogs are better suited to individual spell casting, protections and curses.
In Aubry’s Dog we examine the various breed characteristics that can be looked upon as further canine ‘correspondences’ for use in magical working. When using ‘dog power’, we need to be able to create an amulet, charm or talisman that will reflect these characteristics. For seeking lost property over distance, for example, we would not enlist the help of the greyhound (sight
hound) – but we would use the image of a bloodhound (scent hound); for defeating our enemies we would be ill-advised to use a terrier, when we can call upon the energies of the mastiff.
When working with wild energies, however, we must refrain from attempting to give them the anthropomorphic characteristics of the domestic dog. Wild dogs are voracious and ruthless hunter-killers, sometimes turning their attentions on humans if and when circumstances warrant. As much as we may admire their fearless survival skills, it is inadvisable to underestimate them
both in the wild, and in magic. When invoking the energies of the wild dog, regardless of species, we are calling upon their primeval instincts over which humans have no control.
Like the Egyptians, the early Babylonians, Assyrians and Chaldeans, who were living between the two great rivers the Euphrates and the Tigris, also revered the dog. History relates that the governor of Babylon owned so many dogs that four towns were made exempt from taxes provided the inhabitants fed their dogs properly.  According to encyclopaedia Man, Myth & Magic, because the Egyptians worshipped the dog, the Hebrews hated them and scorned the belief that dogs could detect the presence of spirits and ghosts or were familiar with the world beyond the grave.
Nevertheless, in contemporary society, the animal’s value is due to its remarkable companionable abilities and because a dog’s senses are much keener than a human’s.
• A dog’s hearing is attuned to pick up extremely high-pitched tones from a considerable distance. The so-called ‘silent- whistles’ used by dog trainers demonstrate the great range of a dog’s hearing powers and make it invaluable as a guardian of family and livestock.
• A dog’s nose is so sensitive that we are unable to conceive the great range of odours that canines detect. A piece of wood touched only by the tip of its owner’s finger can be selected by a trained dog from 20 other identical pieces. Bloodhounds have been known to follow perfectly the trail of a stranger 48 hours after the path was traversed. There is no known method of measuring this sensitivity of the dogs’ olfactory powers, but it is among his strongest and most often utilised senses.
• A dog’s sight is considerably weaker than man’s although they have a greater sensitivity to movements, however slight. Some breeds, specifically the ‘gaze-hounds’ do make great use of their sight in following game across open country.
• A dog’s ‘fleetness of foot’ means that it can pursue and overtake its quarry, or outrun its rivals. In the wild, a wolf’s speed makes all the difference to whether the pack goes hungry or not.
• A dog’s strength and tenacity is not necessarily determined by its size. Smaller dogs, especially the terrier breeds, can often be the champions in terms of sheer grit and determination.
In Aubry’s Dog, we look at creating a protective charm for the home and a healing amulet, as well as taking the physical attributes of the various different breeds and creating a very personal, protective amulet. One of the simplest ways is to acquire a piece of jewellery, or even a metal key ring, bearing the image of one of the more popular dog breeds (or wolf, fox, etc.,) and charge it magically. For those who prefer to create an amulet from scratch in the traditional way, however, first catch your dog! Or rather acquire something from a canine that suggests strength, i.e. claws, bone, teeth, rather than the softness of fur. This does not, of course, mean that any living canine should be deprived of these accoutrements. Seeking them out over a period of time should be viewed as part of the magical quest … but your vet might be able to help out with claws or the odd tooth. A dead fox could provide everything, but as a mark of respect do bury the remains within the parameters of magical ethics.
Once we have acquired our canine ingredient (natural or manufactured) focus on the breed of our astral canine protector.  It could have been selected for its:
• Eyesight (to see danger or detect opportunity).
• Hearing (warning sounds or hearing something advantageous).
• Smell (detecting a threat or danger).
• Speed (fast action in dealing with a problem).
• Strength (the power to help overcome adversity).
• Tenacity (the will to persevere or fight against the odds).
This is a personal amulet, so only we can decide what the focus will be. Do we want a general charm that will go everywhere with us like a trusty dog; or are we looking for specific protection (in the workplace, while out hunting, or from rivals/the opposition, etc.,); or do we need backup in areas where our own faculties are not fully functioning? Do bear in mind that a focused magical spell will be much stronger than a more general purpose one.

Aubry’s Dog: Power Animals in Traditional Witchcraft by Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books in paperback and e-book format ISBN 978 1 78099 724 7  Shaman Pathways series : pp84 : UK£4.99/US$9.95  www.moon-books.net