<![CDATA[Coven of the Scales - Blog]]>Sat, 23 Mar 2019 22:22:12 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Folk Medicine: Nature’s Medicine Chest]]>Fri, 22 Mar 2019 12:29:21 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/folk-medicine-natures-medicine-chestPicture
Mini-Article
 
Unlike the wort-lore of traditional witchcraft, folk or domestic plant medicine is the everyday use of plants by ordinary people to cure minor wounds and ailments. Although there is a wealth of material from the classic herbals and herbalists recorded by the Benedictine monk Aelfric, the Physicians of Myddfai and the 17th century apothecary, physician and astrologer, Nicholas Culpeper, very little has been preserved of the common plant remedies used by our forebears.
 
Effective home remedies did not require any accompanying ritual to make them work and a countrywoman would merely pick the necessary plants from the garden or hedgerow to make a preparation for the family’s fever, or to treat a wound. A hot infusion made from diaphoretic and febrifugal herbs, such as yarrow, comfrey and cayenne, will increase perspiration and help to reduce a high fever. While towards the end of WWI, the British government used tons of sphagnum moss as surgical dressing, placed directly on to wounds when the demand for cotton bandages could not be met. Fortunately this folk remedy had not faded from memory and is still used in some rural areas.
 
Similarly, feverfew has been used since the Middle Ages for its analgesic properties. Culpeper recommended the herb for ‘all pains in the head’ and current research has proven the efficacy of feverfew in the relieving of migraines and headaches when taken as a tea.
 
The common ‘weed’ plantain has long been recognized as an excellent restorative and tonic for all forms of respiratory congestions – nasal catarrh, bronchitis, sinusitis and middle ear infections. The plant’s demulcent qualities make it useful in an infusion for painful urination. As a lotion, plantain calms the irritation and itching of insect bites, stings and skin irritations; and as a disinfectant and styptic for wounds and how many of us automatically search for a dock leaf after a close encounter with a stinging nettle?
 
With all its magical connotations and fairy connections, the elder has long been known as the ‘poor man’s medicine chest’ because its flowers and berries have so many uses in treating respiratory infections and fevers. The leaves make a useful ointment for bruises, sprains and wounds, while an ointment made from the flowers is excellent for chilblains. The inner bark has a history of use as a purgative dating back to the time of Hippocrates, and we must not forget the ‘tonic’ of elderflower champagne and elderberry wine!
 
Through the daily life of ordinary country people, the use of folk medicine had been preserved with remarkable accuracy from one generation to another up to the early 20th century. As a result of two world wars and with the large-scale dispersal of country people to the towns, however, the need for folk medicine diminished. The old people who remained no longer had anyone left to whom they could pass this age-old wisdom and so it died out for lack of interest.
 
Today there is a renewed interest in natural medicine and the old remedies are being researched by a joint project called Ethnomedica [1990s Kew Gardens]. Involving medical herbalists and botanists, their aim is to gather information about country remedies throughout Britain.
 
Mini-article from The Dictionary of Magic & Mystery published by Moon Books in paperback and e-bokk format.  ISBN: 978 1 84694 462 8 : UK£12.99/US$22.95

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<![CDATA[It Depends Where You're Coming From ...]]>Mon, 18 Mar 2019 11:50:13 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/it-depends-where-youre-coming-fromPicture

Generally speaking, today’s paganism falls into four different elements, which in turn separate the different approaches and levels of magical practice. A considerable amount of magical writing can be incomprehensible to those who have not been schooled in that particular path or tradition – so we begin at the beginning and work ourselves up through the spheres of Knowledge, Wisdom and Understanding. And we start by accepting that there is a divide between the various approaches to paganism and magical practice. Such as:
 
● Animistic: The belief that everything animate and inanimate has its own life-force, such as that which forms the basis of shamanism and Old Craft;
 
● Eclectic: Selecting or borrowing from a variety of styles, systems, theories, beliefs, etc., as commonly found in modern paganism and Wicca;
 
● Syncretic: The attempt to reconcile different systems of belief; the fusion or blending of religions, as by identification of gods, taking over of observances, or selection of whatever seems best in each; often producing a seemingly illogical compromise in belief. Found in many aspects of Western Ritual Magic, and the initiatory branches of traditional witchcraft;
 
● Synergetic: Combined or co-ordinated action; increased effect of two elements obtained by using them together. The combining of ancient wisdom with modern magical applications, as in the case of the contemporary approaches of Old Craft, Norse (Heathen) and Druidry.
 
As I observed in Coven of the Scales: The Collected Writings of A R Clay-Egerton, it should be understood that although Bob and Meriem Clay-Egerton firmly held the philosophy and opinion that all faiths were one, and that all paths led to the same goal, they did not advocate what is now referred to as ‘eclectic’ paganism. What they did teach was the desire for knowledge and experience, regardless of source. Each new experience was studied within the confines of that particular religion, path or tradition. Each discipline was kept completely separate from another. Only when a student had a thorough understanding of the tenets of each discipline were they encouraged to formulate them into their own individual system.
 
These sentiments were echoed by Dion Fortune in The Mystical Qabalah: ‘No student will ever make any progress in spiritual development who flits from system to system; first using some New Thought affirmations, then some Yoga breathing-exercises and meditation-postures, and following these by an attempt at the mystical methods of prayer. Each of these systems has its value, but that value can only be realised if the system is carried out in its entirety … the student who sets out to be an eclectic before he has made himself an expert will never be anything more than a dabbler.
 
Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival invites the reader to take the opportunity to step back in time and discover – through the gateways of intuition and instinct – where their own individual roots can be found.

 
Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival: A Magical Anthropology by Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books in paperback and e-book format. ISBN: 978 1 78279 156 0 UK£11.99/US$19.95 : 180p www.moon-books.net

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<![CDATA[CHARMS & SPELLS]]>Thu, 14 Mar 2019 11:06:44 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/charms-spellsPicture
Pick up any modern book on witchcraft and they’re crammed full with charms and spells to find love, money or a job. Okay… you’ve done the business and met some divine bloke/bird down at the wine bar; Great-Aunt Bessie’s died and left you a tidy sum, and an unexpected career move has you working six months of the year in the Bahamas… so now what?
 
Should we have to resort to magic to continually sort out our love life, finances and career prospects? And if the magic works for us, who’s to say that it might be robbing someone else of their partner, inheritance or promotion. Magic is, and always has been, a double-edged sword, so we must be doubly careful how we wield it.
 
Let’s start with that old magical chestnut – the luv spell! If it goes against someone’s natural inclinations or instincts, or if the victim belongs to someone else, then it’s black magic, however you want to glitz it up in your own mind. If you’re looking for Prince(ss) Charming and expect magical impulses to deliver them to your door gift wrapped and eager, I’d have to say get off your backside and get out more! And if you’re spell-casting to make yourself more attractive to the opposite sex, try checking yourself out in the mirror before going any further.
 
If, on the other hand, you’re sending out a call on the astral and you’re convinced that you’re doing everything in your power to be in the right place at the right time, do be careful what you ask for – or you might just get it! In magical working the wording must be precise or there could be some nasty shocks along the way, so take your time in drawing up a list of attributes you’d like to find in a new partner. An acquaintance generated some pretty heavy artillery in attracting her new mate, who on the surface was everything she’d asked for. Except that three months after the wedding she discovered the hard way that he’d got a violent side to his nature… she’d forgotten to add kindness to her list!
 
In the current ‘consumer credit crisis’ everyone is feeling the pinch, so you might be a long time waiting for a windfall, even with a bit of magical assistance thrown in. Rather than a “Gissus the money” type of spell-casting, go for a divinatory or meditational result. Another acquaintance used this method and within days spotted a feature in a national newspaper that gave her all the information she needed to sort out her financial problems. With advice and support from an outside agency she was able to clear her debts within six months, but if she’d relied solely on a ‘money spell’ and waited for the cash to miraculously appear in her bank account, the problem would have escalated totally out of control.
 
Charms and Spells are influenced by the amount of effort put into them, but if you’re content to just fool about with a colored candle and ‘money drawing’ anointing oil on a Thursday evening, the desired results might be a long time in the coming. Use magical knowledge to open the right channels in your mind, and be receptive to any information, ideas or advice that comes to your attention. Magic works in mysterious ways. Likewise in the career stakes, do be careful what you ask for and how you ask for it. Like the witchlet who went into a spell-casting saying she wanted to work with dogs or horses … and found herself working for the local bookmaker!
 
Spellcasting is a very exact science and should not be undertaken in a spirit of levity, despite what the books offering ‘spells and rituals to attract all the good things in life’ may tell you. It ain’t that easy.

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<![CDATA[THE DICTIONARY OF MAGIC & MYSTERY]]>Thu, 14 Mar 2019 10:44:07 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/the-dictionary-of-magic-mysteryPicture
Every good reference book is both a product and a reflection of its time. The Dictionary of Magic & Mystery is not just another compendium or dictionary of occultism: it is a jumping-off point for further research. Here, the reader will find the ancient and modern interpretation for magical and mystical terms, together with explanations for the differences between the varied (and often conflicting) approaches to magic. You will also find both the common, the regional, and the obscure, because even popular usage can often distill the true essence from original meaning. There are historical and archeological references that are essential in helping to put the past into perspective, whether we are talking about witchcraft, ritual magic, or the different paths and traditions from the East. Added to all this information are some of the sacred sites that are associated with our pagan past; together with thumbnail sketches of the well-known (and sometimes dubious) personalities who have been associated with the pursuit of magical knowledge throughout the centuries.
 
To thoroughly understand what magic is all about, whether from the perspective of the village wise-woman or the high-powered ceremonial magician, we have to know the true history of the path we wish to follow. These are paths that have been beset with persecution and ridicule; both physical and mental anguish; hardship and deprivation. To understand where we now stand, we need to walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before and learn from their experiences, their failures and their triumphs. We also need a basic grounding in Classical subjects because we cannot hope to plug in to the here-and-now and expect instant enlightenment, or become a witch or magician in twelve easy lessons!
 
Paradoxically, although there are now more books on occultism (in its widest sense) in publication than ever before, the contents are by no means guaranteed to be accurate, or even penned by someone with a knowledgeable, working background in the subject on which they write. Sadly, even mainstream editors have little practical experience in the subjects they are commissioning and, as a result, the genre of ‘mind, body and spirit’ publishing is awash with books and magazine articles by those who are merely regurgitating information, often taken from questionable sources, blended with hefty dollops of contemporary Orientalism.
 
As that invaluable encyclopedia, Man, Myth & Magic, pointed out back in the 1970s, at the roots of mythology and magic is a kind of thinking which is certainly not random, and which has its own curious logic. Where metaphor, sigla and ceremony convey the intangible and bring the supernatural into the natural world, by making connections between things that outwardly and rationally are not connected at all. And magic is all about understanding these analogies, allegories and symbols. The Dictionary of Magic & Mystery attempts to put this way of thinking into some kind of perspective for the serious student.
 
For example: The 16th century ritual magician would have had a firm grounding in the Classics in their original language, i.e. Hebrew, Latin and Greek, not to mention a working knowledge
of European history, mathematics, astronomy and alchemy. By the 19th century, Adepts of the occult sciences were adding the Eastern influences of Tantra, yoga, meditation techniques and the karmic philosophy of reincarnation. Traditional ritual magic texts are governed by this broad spectrum of learning under the guise of Magical Correspondences and, unless this method of working is fully understood, then the results will be a long time in coming for the striving magus adeptus.
 
By contrast, the natural witch or cunning-man would have developed an instinctive knowledge of ancestral and natural history, weather lore and folk medicine. And by studying the popular versions of our native folklore and superstitions, we can glimpse behind the Victorian obsession with the ‘Devil and all his works’ when it came to compiling their collections, and grasp the fact that most of these protective charms were originally witches’ spells culled for popular use. Modern witches need to develop the discipline of cultivating the powers of seeing and interacting with Nature, or we will not be able to read the ‘signs’ when they appear. Like the Universe itself, magic is a living, expanding thing and to become a successful magical practitioner, we must learn to grow magically and intellectually in tandem with these developments. Modern paganism is now permeated with Oriental influences (reiki, feng shui, I Ching, etc) and it also helps to have a nodding acquaintance with modern astronomy, astrophysics, archeology and anthropology to help us to understand where everything fits within the Laws of Correspondence.
 
Remember: Fact has nothing to do with belief; that the ancients believed, is all we need to know. And even if we think we are no longer susceptible to the powers of the Old Gods, we only have to look through ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Celtic or Viking eyes to see them.
 
So, some may ask, why can’t we just abandon the use of these ancient symbols? The experienced magical practitioner understands that contact with these ‘old energies’ can be attained more completely through symbols that are so ancient that they are buried deep within the storehouse of our collective unconsciousness. The alternatives – intellectual formulae and symbols of mathematics and science – have been evolved too recently to serve as direct conduits. The magician or mystic uses the more direct paths, which long ago were mapped out in the shadowlands of what Carl Jung referred to as the racial or universal subconscious.
 
Many of the books referred to in this text are now out of print, but the tracking down and acquisition of such rare volumes should be viewed as part of the magical learning process. These are included simply because they remain the best explanation of the subject (or the most controversial), even though there may be dozens of other more recent titles in print. Others reflect the publishing viewpoint of their time and, as such, offer an insight into the limited availability of good source material during the early 1960s and 1970s; remembering that the last Witchcraft Act wasn’t repealed until 1951.
 
Some titles offer a basic introduction to a subject, while others may need to stay on the shelf until the moment of enlightenment, when the scales fall from the seeker’s eyes and they are ready to receive the wisdom from the printed page. Surprisingly, perhaps, there are also a handful of fictional titles here, since many of these contain more than just a grain of magical truth. The search for such treasures should be looked upon as part of the magical quest, for seeking out such ‘truths’ should never be as simple as taking down a book from a shelf.
 
Mélusine Draco
 
 
CONTENTS:
An A-Z of Magic & Mystery and the mini-articles that support them …
The Ancestors in Traditional Witchcraft : Black Magic, White Magic : Charms and Spells :
Discarnate Entities & Extra-terrestrial Intelligences : Earth Mysteries : Folk Medicine: Nature’s Medicine Chest : Gemstones, Rocks & Crystals : Tree Lore: Hawthorn : Isles of the Blessed :
Julian – The First Pagan Martyr : Karma & Reincarnation : Lammas and the Harvest Home : Magic – What is it? : Natural Tides : Traditional British Old Craft : The Power of Mythos : Qabalah : The Influence of Roman Gods in Britain : Seasonal Celebrations : Thelema : Underworld and Otherworld : Psychic Vampires : Words & Names of Power : The X-Factor : Yesod: Temple of the Moon : The Egyptian Zodiac

 
The Dictionary of Magic & Mystery compiled by Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books in paperback and e-book formet. ISBN: 978 1 84694 462 8 : 370 pages : UK£12.99/US$22.95 www.moon-books.net
 

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<![CDATA[An Introduction to Arcanum]]>Tue, 12 Mar 2019 14:38:44 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/an-introduction-to-arcanumPicture
The Coven of the Scales Distance Learning Course
 
ARCANUM explores traditional British Old Craft magic, aiming specifically at solitary practitioners, and providing a safe way to gain a solid grounding in practical Craft techniques.  Most people learn about magic and witchcraft from books, and they learn alone. Their magic remains a very personal and private thing.  This has one very major drawback, however ... where do you go to ask niggling questions, or check whether you are  working safely and efficiently?
 
ARCANUM is a 12-part foundation course in traditional Craft methods and techniques. The course is also aimed at those wishing to understand more about the practical  elements of magical practice before they join a working group, or if they just wish to continue to work alone.  We provide a team of experienced magical practitioners in order to answer questions on any aspects of magic.  This means you can ask for help from someone whose background and antecedents have been checked by Coven of the Scales and with whose work you may already be familiar.
 
ARCANUM provides a broad-based introduction to basic Craft magical techniques that will prevent you from being deceived by those with lesser  expertise than yourself.   It is a non-initiatory course but the successful completion of the 12-months instruction may result in the invitation to join an established group.  Any invitation will be made privately at the discretion of the tutors involved and should not be expected, or automatically taken for granted, upon completion of the course.
 
ARCANUM is an accessible, structured foundation course providing sound guidance for those wishing to explore different areas of Craft practice before committing themselves to a particular Path or Tradition.  It is not affiliated, associated or connected with any other group, organisation, or on-line site using a similar name, claiming consanguinity, or attempting to identify with either the Coven of the Scales or the Esoteric Order of the Serpent in order to promote their own claims of personal, magical, political, homological, corporate or commercial fellowships.
 
If we are going to discuss the differences between traditional Craft and contemporary paganism, the first observation will be that in traditional Craft, a witch is born not made.  This is because the ‘witchyness’ of an individual is decided by their natural abilities rather than joining an organised group and progressing through the ranks.  At the same time, it is extremely difficult to give a comprehensive guide to the inner workings of traditional Craft because it is (and has always been) extremely private.
    
What little is written about traditional Craft will only give a superficial overview of what is meant by traditional witchcraft.  True Craft is experienced through a series of personal revelations under the guidance of a mentor.  This is similar to the Japanese Zen concept of kensho — the number of minor satori-like ‘mini-enlightenments’ that happen over a long period of time.
 
In truth, practitioners of traditional Craft are less concerned with ritual and dogma, and more focused on energy-raising techniques, which they use to channel or direct spells and charms according to the nature of the working.   Traditional Craft witches do not worship Nature but they are certainly proficient at working in harmony with it … and are highly spiritual beings on this level.  Unlike the majority of modern pagans, however, they accept Nature as being red in tooth and claw and do not seek to impose their will on the natural cycle of the seasons.  They also accept the timeless concept of the hunter and the hunted, and the essential inter-action of male-female energy.
 
Using proven personal training techniques, ARCANUM encourages magical and spiritual development within the framework of a supportive traditional Craft coven system.  It will help you to ...
 
  • Understand and distinguish between the genuine and the role-playing
 
  • Work with the roots and triggers which underlie each magical/mystical experience
 
  • Practice ‘listening’ skills within Nature and develop the personal ability to empathise with the natural tides.
 
  • Understand the rational and intelligent basis of magical application
 
  • Acknowledge and accept your ‘shadow side’
 
  • Hold fast to the commitment of your spiritual transformation
 
  • Move on … and allow change and positive growth, both magically and spiritually
 
  • Maximise your personal capacity for learning - and lead a more fulfilled life within Craft as a result
 
 
THE TUITION 
The monthly lessons are broken down into Tasks and Exercises aimed at broadening the student’s concepts of magical practice and traditional Craft techniques.
 
Lesson 1:  What is traditional Craft?  A practical definition of the term ‘magic’   Identifying natural ‘witch-power’ and how to use it.  Natural tides and the Craft year.
 
Lesson 2:  The use of visualisation and pathworking.  The power of the Circle.  Ritual equipment and regalia.  The Magical Journal.
 
Lesson 3:  Summoning the spirits.  The natural world.  Magical protection.   Psychic cleansing and empowerment. The Pouch and its content.
 
Lesson 4:  Divination.   Practical candle magic.   Sacred images and power tools.   Amulets and talismans.
 
Lesson 5:  Claiming the right to the omens.  A question of balance.  Spells and charms.  Natural ability or illusion.
 
Lesson 6:  Developing the power to call.  Should we be afraid?  Power places and guardians.   Meditation and relaxation.
 
Lesson 7:  Healing.  Wort-lore.  The parish-pump witch.   Coven life -fact or fantasy?  Maximising your personal capacity for learning
 
Lesson 8:  Cursing and bottling.  Controlling your ‘shadow’ side.   Understanding the rational and intelligent basis of magical application.  The magical mug.
 
Lesson 9:  Telling the Maze and crossing the Lethe.  Death — the last journey. Roots and triggers.  Glamouring and mind control. 
 
Lesson 10:  Rites and ceremony.  Celebration and observance. The need for psycho-drama.  Spiritual transformation.  
 
Lesson 11:  Walking the Path.  Moving on … allowing for change and positive growth.  Coven or solitary?
 
Lesson 12:  A general assessment and reflection on the year’s study.  Where do we go from here?
 
In order for the co-ordinators to select the correct tutor, we ask prospective students to complete the confidential questionnaire.  Once a student has been accepted and assigned a tutor, they will be expected to work together on a close personal basis.  For more information apply to:  moonraker369cos@gmail.com

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<![CDATA[THE GLEN]]>Tue, 12 Mar 2019 12:44:23 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/the-glen]]><![CDATA[CRONE!]]>Tue, 12 Mar 2019 12:38:37 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/cronePicture

EXTRACT from CRONE! A Year in the Life of an Old Craft Witch
On reflection life is good and it’s not everyone who can live the witch’s dream of retiring to a small, isolated cottage in a river valley in the shadow of a wild mountain range. Since I’m country born and bred, it’s more like returning to my roots but life’s rich tapestry has certainly had its fair share of snags, runs, holes and endless thread-pulling along the way. I’ve lived in the Glen for over ten years now and although my original pack of greyhound companions has been reduced drastically through old-age, I’m still pack-leader of five … not forgetting Harvey my intrepid little mongrel!

The Glen is ideally suited to the type of magic we teach in Coven of the Scales simply because we are not over-looked – psychically or magically – and nothing is allowed to interfere with the daily routine of interacting with Nature on a full-time basis. The cottage is on the opposite side of the Glen to the mountains, on the wooded Slievenamuck Ridge with a lush valley and the River Aherlow running between. The view of the mountains 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. Each morning I can stand at the bedroom window and stare out with the feeling that this is an ever-lasting holiday – and one I often share with members of the Coven.


The Galtees (Na Gaibhlte) are Ireland’s highest inland mountain range, a high ridge which rises up almost sheer from the surrounding plain, the highest peak being Galteemore. As far as the geology is concerned, two major periods of glaciation affected the area and the rounded summits of the Galtee peaks were formed due to the higher parts being above the ice. The constant freeze-thaw action on the higher rocks gradually wore the peaks down to form the stony, scree covered summits we see today. This glacial action also formed corries on the higher slopes, which are now five mysterious glacial lakes. These mountains have many secrets not easily discovered: cliffs, lakes, bogs, streams, archaeology, wildlife, sheep, wonderful wild plants and ancient history.  If anyone is familiar with my Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones (Axis Mundi), they will understand how important these geological features are to our magical teaching.


As a result of being surrounded by all this beauty, I’ve now gone into Crone-mode, which in magical parlance means that I can do and say what I want, when I want, and no one can object, since they must sit at my feet and drink in the pearls of wisdom I dispense with every breath … even if they are the senile, verbal wanderings of an aging crank. Seriously, the Coven has been told that if I do get to that stage ‘Do not revive!’ must be entered on the medical chart! Today, I am blessed with a crowd of wonderful people in the Coven from all over the world; all of whom are bright, intelligent and talented – not a witchy outfit to be seen amongst them with the Craft ‘mark’ tastefully concealed – and all dear friends.

In truth, we as practitioners of Old Craft are less concerned with ritual and dogma, and more focused on natural energy-raising techniques, which we use to channel or direct spells and charms according to the nature of the working. As I’ve often said, Old Craft witches do not worship Nature but we are certainly proficient at working in harmony with it … and are highly spiritual beings on this level, too. Unlike the majority of modern pagans, however, we accept Nature as being red in tooth and claw and do not seek to impose our will on the natural scheme of things – even if Beltaine is delayed because the hawthorn comes into bloom a month late! And you can’t have a true Beltaine celebration without the fragrance of May blossom in the air … if you understand my meaning.

We also accept the timeless concept of the hunter and the hunted, and the essential inter-action of male-female energy. Old Craft is not generally seen as gender specific but its beliefs do tend to lean towards the male aspect since the female aspect remains veiled and a mystery – as she should be since this is the ancient and fundamental ‘Truth’ behind the Mysteries. Coven of the Scales is not a true sabbatical tradition but it remains an initiatory Mystery one, and what it does share with the other pre-Wiccan traditions is a common feature of extreme selectivity when it comes to prospective members – and the willingness to reject those proven unfit for the Path. Needless to say, this unpopular and confrontational stance has often led to thorny relations between other so-called ‘traditional’ groups, but it has encouraged a sanctuary-like environment where creative magical collaboration can unfold according to the design of each individual member of the Coven.

All this ‘tradition’ has now funnelled down to a tiny, remote cottage in the Glen that offers members of the Coven a warm welcome, a magical learning centre and a spiritual home, hopefully, for many years to come. We have our own Neolithic site where we interact with the Ancestors and, unlike many other ancient monuments, these ancestral energies have not been polluted by the unwelcome tramp of tourism. Here I can live the life of an Old Craft Crone according to the tenets of my belief and periodically welcome friends and fellow travellers to share in my magical world.


CRONE! By Melusine Draco is published by Ignotus in paperback format. ISBN: 978 1 78876 0010 
Press UK. ISBN: 978 1 78876 001 0 UK£7.95  https://www.feedaread.com/books/CRONE-9781788760010


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<![CDATA[The Coarse Witchcraft Trilogy]]>Mon, 11 Mar 2019 13:45:12 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/the-coarse-witchcraft-trilogyPicture
The stories related in Coarse Witchcraft have happened to experienced practitioners who are confident enough in their own magical abilities to be able to say ‘I made a mistake’. We all make those mistakes – the fun lies in sharing them. And as the late Bob Clay-Egerton once remarked, he’d got 50 years magical experience under his belt and he still occasionally made a prat of himself!
 
The members of the Coven are all genuine magical practitioners within Old Craft. The Coven really does exist and the events recorded in Coarse Witchcraft: Craft Working, have happened to both ourselves, and to those of our acquaintance, over a short period of time. We hope, however, this book will amuse the reader, but also stand as a warning to those who wish to discover more about the Craft, so that they steer clear of the charlatans, the poseurs, the magically ignorant and the spiritually inept. RP
 
Chapter Four: I Read It in a Book
 
Arm-chair witchery has a lot to answer for and it’s time for folk to sling out the books which expound the dubious advantages of the popular pick-n-mix approach to magic before someone gets hurt. Those new to Craft have a great deal of difficulty in understanding that cross-Tradition working can produce some extremely unpleasant or unexpected results – details of which don’t feature in the popular pagan press.
 
Like the witch-mum who, after packing the kids off to bed, settled herself down for a spot of gentle meditation by candle light, whilst taking a bath. One of the candles tipped over into the water and as our dedicated witch leaped up and bent over to retrieve it, she scorched her pudenda on another candle which gave a whole new meaning to the term Red Hot Mama.
 
Like the chap who invoked Isis is an area sacred to Brighde and wondered why the Celtic deity reacted strongly to the invasion of this foreign bint. Conflicting energies can cause sickness and disorientation because of the disruption of balance, so it is unwise to try to work with differing focuses of power in the same ritual.
 
Like the couple who conducted a fertility rite at the site of a Neolithic burial chamber and suffered a series of miscarriages as a result. They assumed because it was ‘old’ it would radiate beneficial magical properties.
 
Like the chap who claimed to an Old Craft Elder’s face that he was from her own teaching tradition (he’d never worked with her or her coven) because he’d read something of hers in a magazine. The look on his face when someone explained to whom he was speaking was a sight to behold.
 
Like the woman who described herself as a healer but when questioned about her working methods, explained that she’d never actually done any healing because she didn’t want anyone
to know she was a pagan.
 
Like the budding ritual magicians who invoked power into the triangle of conjuration placed inside the protective magic circle with themselves.
 
Like the unsuspecting who include Hecate in the welcoming chant for the Summer Solstice – the old girl’s a bit of a party pooper and her dog is even more anti-social – best stick to solar deities and leave the Dark Ones for the darker nights and shadow working. Neither is it a good idea to schedule a ‘love spell’ for All Hallows (Samhain), unless you’re into necrophilia.
 

Harriet usually has plenty of her own tales to tell but the advent of the Strumpet surpasses all others at the moment, as they spend most coven meetings peeling her off the Magister. ‘Rex has lost it,’ she informed us. ‘This lass can strip down to the buff in six seconds flat and has now taken to wearing an extremely large gold crucifix in Circle to ward off any evil that she feels emanating from me! If she wants the job that bad, she can have it.’
 
Jocelyn, another Lady of our acquaintance, reports the arrival of the Virgin Mandy who is apparently the cultivated dead ringer for the Xtian version. ‘She stands there with a right-on serene expression, hair parted carefully in the centre, hands folded demurely over her neat light blue robe. She’s a vegetarian who preaches love, compassion and universal kinship – to an Old Craft coven! And her totem’s an owl. When one of the group asked if she was into swallowing live mice on the astral, she was nearly sick. I think she got off the bus at the wrong stop.’
 
Now whatever you read about witchcraft these days there is always the profusion of names to cope with and in modern Wicca, the Goddess is a rose by any other name, regardless of whether it’s Celtic, Norse, Roman, Egyptian, Anglo-Saxon or Greek. In Old Craft the deities are, more often than not, referred to simply as the Lass and the Ol’ Lad. Newcomers are confused by this seemingly irreverent appellation but Old Crafters don’t need all the extravagant trappings, ritual equipment and symbolism. To paraphrase from one of Alan Richardson’s books: all the images of gods and goddesses are products of our own making, which we use to give our minds something to focus on. The Lass and the Ol’ Lad are good enough for us.
 
All this information is readily available in book form to anyone but what is never pointed out is that in all realms of magic there are the Lesser and Greater Mysteries. The former are basic instructions for approaching a magical path but no matter how well read a person, they will never find any ‘secret truths’ in books. Even those written by well-known names in Craft will always stop short of revelation no matter what the publisher’s blurb may promise. Those ‘names’ are fully aware that by revealing more than just the Lesser Mysteries would be breaking their oaths, not just to the Craft but to their fellow Initiates.
 
The Greater Mysteries themselves can only be understood by practical experience; they cannot be taught or expressed in words. It is often difficult for the beginner to accept that there is no secret formula which will help them avoid the hard work involved. It is also difficult for many to understand that formal initiation into one particular group or Tradition merely means the initiate has been accepted by that group or Tradition – not Craft per se. Neither does it automatically follow that the Greater Mysteries have been revealed to that Initiate. Books and teachers can only map out a few basic signposts; all they ever will be is the finger pointing the way in the Silence that follows.
 
Because of the plethora of rubbish that is passed off as Craft by a large number of pagan writers, Pris was persuaded to join the team as Agony Aunt for a pagan newsletter to ‘tell it like it is’. The problem with most of the letter writers is that they’ve learned their witchcraft from books and when they get conflicting information from different authors, they don’t have the practical experience to differentiate between modern Wicca and traditional Old Craft. Admittedly there have been one or two who have benefited from a guiding hand but by and large, the content of the letters hardly stimulate the intellect – or the sympathy for that matter.

We were sitting at the kitchen table sorting through some of the letters and becoming increasingly despondent at the number from people who obviously just wanted someone to write to. The agony was in the repetitive saga of manifested ‘things’ that were lurking around in hundreds of bedrooms up and down the country.
 
‘This is contagious over-active imagination,’ groaned Pris. ‘What on earth can I say?’
 
Rupert, who’d been leaning against the Aga drinking his coffee, rinsed the mug under the tap and put it in the dishwasher. ‘Tell ’em to pack it in and get a life,’ he said, walking out of the kitchen.
 
Pris stared at his retreating back for a moment. ‘That,’ she said, ‘is probably the most sensible bit of advice I could give any of them.’

 
The Coarse Witchcraft Trilogy by Rupert Percy and Gabrielle Sidonie is published by Moon Books.  ISBN 978 1 78279 285 7 254p UK£10.99/US$18.95
 

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<![CDATA[HAGSTONES]]>Mon, 11 Mar 2019 09:36:26 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/march-11th-2019Picture
Hagstones are stones or pebbles that have natural holes bored in to them by the continual movement of the sea over the years, other stones and grit rubbing against them or by a common marine bivalve. Crafters often use them as an amulet, both myself and the Magister always wear one, and they have a variety of other uses within Craft, such as when they are hung in stables to protect horses from being “hag-ridden” during the night. They are linked to protection and fertility and here, in East Anglia, there is a tradition of stringing nine together and hanging them by the front door for protection of the home and hearth.

They can be found in various places, usually by the sea, but this is not always the case. We live in a very sandy area of East Anglia that was once covered by the North Sea. We’ve found several over the years deep within the local forests, and those of you who have visited us will have seen we have them dotted around the house; this is because we use them for protection and also as part of our craft practise. If you’re lucky enough to find one, always ask the earth before you take its treasures and thank it when you’ve been told it’s okay. It’s actually illegal to take stones and rocks from the beach, since they’re all needed to keep erosion of the land at bay, so bear this in mind if you spot a hagstone on the beach.

During the unseasonably good weather, the Magister and I set off with our trusty hound, Astra, to enjoy a day at the seaside and the atmosphere was truly magical: it was balmy but slightly breezy on the beach and the sea was a long way out, so it took some trudging through damp sand to get to the shoreline. The sea was dead calm and topaz blue, as was the sky reflected in it, so you couldn’t see where the sea ended and the sky began. A slight haze covered the horizon, so the backdrop was seamless. Hairy tubular sea creatures, possibly sand mason worms, were in abundance in the sand at the water’s edge and you could hear them crinkle and crackle. It was a day that promised hopefulness and new beginnings somewhat earlier in the year than usual. We spotted very few hagstones that day.

Contrast that with last Friday: We returned to the East Coast again and the sky was gun metal grey, the sea brown and the wind immense! Walking along near the pier, the sea had slung large stones over the wall, which had landed on the promenade. The sea wasn’t far out , but it had deposited huge rocks up against the wall beneath the walk way, rocks of all shapes and sizes. This was a great reminder about the power and energy of the elements: earth energy had caused shifts beneath the waves; air energy had pushed the movement of the sea as the winds had carried the water forwards; water had been the physical push to get these rocks and stones so forcefully out of the sea and on to the land. Hagstones were abundant that day and could be seen everywhere.


We wear our hagstones on cords and, as well as them being for protection, they also remind us of the elements and how their combination makes everything work, from day to day existence to magic. It’s an aspect of the elemental energies that we need to harness when performing a working of any kind and it’s always essential to consider which element does what within a working so that its energy can be used in the most effective way to ensure that the power that is sent out contains the necessary boost for the best result. If you are merely drawing your compass and using the elements as little more than symbolic, you’re certainly missing a trick!


​Julie Dexter and James Rigel

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<![CDATA[Coven Working: Copy with Hierarchy]]>Wed, 06 Mar 2019 12:59:07 GMThttp://covenofthescales.com/blog/coven-working-copy-with-hierarchyPicture
Over ten years ago ignotus press published An Inside View of Coven Working to help explore the intricacies of the different Paths and Traditions for the benefit of those who wished to join an existing group, or set up one of their own. Writing as Philip Wright and Carrie West, the authors were both members of the Coven of the Scales, the magical teaching Order formed by Bob and Mériém Clay-Egerton in the late 1980s. Having run their own coven for well over thirty years, and able to trace their lineage back to the turn of the last century, who better to offer advice on what to look for in a magic group – and what to avoid!

In 2006  ignotus press ceased publishing and it wasn’t until it was brought to our notice that copies of the book were exchanging hands for silly money on the internet, that we decided to re-release Coven Working: How to Join or Set Up a Working Coven for the benefit of those who were seeking this information. Witchcraft has changed quite considerably in the past twenty years but the guidance given by the original authors remains as clear and relevant as it did over a decade ago.
 
Extract from Coven Working: Coping With Hierarchy
There is a growing objection amongst newcomers to Craft about working within a hierarchical system, although as Aeron Medbh-Mara pointed out in Life-Rites, “In any magical ritual it would be rather fool-hardy to try to run a focused magical or path-working without someone directing operations – if only from a safety point of view.”
    
The real under-lying objection does, of course, stem from those who are looking for a quick-fix on the magical ladder [‘Learn to be a witch in five days’] and who appear to believe that having read all the ‘right’ authors [usually American], they have the ‘right’ to question everything the group leader says and does. Within our own coven, no one has that ‘right’ until they have completed the first year’s tuition to our complete satisfaction. Should we be confronted with this kind of arrogance from a beginner, we would be well within our own ‘right’ to deny them access to further training. Here the purposely-crafted first year of tuition will sort out the sheep from the goats in terms of personal approach and attitude, regardless of any magical ability.
    
In truth, the main difficulty that would-be witches and magicians have within a hierarchical system, is in accepting that they are often not as magically adept as they like to think they are. Coven leaders have a responsibility not to allow acolytes to advance beyond the level of their own magical competence, not because they fear for their own position within the group, but because unfettered experimentation is dangerous. As a result, the occasion will arise when a long-standing member of the group is refused advancement, simply on the grounds that their abilities do not match their ambition.
    
If the group leader is sympathetic to the disappointment (and embarrassment), in most instances this deficiency can be corrected with a lengthy period of intense one-to-one instruction away from the rest of the group. No one is capable of maintaining good grace when they feel they have been rejected, or their efforts have not been good enough, and it takes a great deal of tact and understanding to explain the reasoning behind the decision while still giving encouragement. Like all schools of learning, some people are merely slow developers and with sympathetic tuition can eventually become staunch and valuable members of the group. The wise leader never rejects anyone on the grounds that they fell at the first hurdle!
    
Disappointment can, however, manifest in anger and resentment. The ‘injured party’ takes offence on the grounds that they believe they should have been awarded the rank or grade on the grounds that they “thought we were friends!” We should make no bones about it - when duty forces us to over-ride personal friendships, no matter how much we might like them personally, our duty to our Tradition must remain paramount.
    
Even in the most balanced of groups, however, it is another fact of life, that from time to time, disputes will arise out of misunderstandings, a basic lack of communication, or because there is a trouble-maker in their midst. When faced with the question of whether she would prefer: a) a magical democracy, where everyone was considered equal, or b) an elitist inner-court, where entry was gained through merit, one first-year student replied: “Ideally, I believe in a magical democracy but I have observed group dynamics in many forms, and without some sort of hierarchy (and I wouldn’t call it elitist), any group will inevitably disintegrate. Just one individual within any organisation can destroy an entire group, leaving the membership in tatters. I’ve observed this many times and, it’s a sad fact that some people can be very calculating and deliberate in their desire to destroy an established group.
    
“For this reason I’m afraid to say that it is essential to have an inner-court, but one that is flexible and where entry is gained by trust and merit. At the same time, everyone should be equal in other ways. Except for setting policies, or tutorials, there should be an agreed format for voicing differing opinions, or this can be another area where problems can arise. Compromise within the inner-court will, of course, also be necessary at times, but people of the inner-court must be trustworthy and flexible, and not forget the purpose of the group or coven, or their core principles.”
 
 
The actual merits of hierarchy
 
Providing we’ve asked all the right questions, whether as interviewer or interviewee, all problems of oath-taking, sexual practice and hierarchy should be addressed in the first couple of meetings. Often a formal system is much fairer than a casual grouping, simply because there is a clearly defined programme of teaching, recognition and acceptance. After all, would you want another student being offered a rank, degree or Initiation because they had managed to circumnavigate the system, and you’ve had to work your way through the rules and regulations?
It would be untrue to say that there are never any ‘teacher’s pets’ but the hierarchy does prevent favouritism from clouding a tutor’s judgement. “There is always a long and detailed discussion with the rest of the Elders when a student reaches the initiatory stages,” explained one Old Crafter, “and sometimes these can be quite heated. Just because you think your little treasure is the best thing to hit the Circle since Crowley, doesn’t mean that the rest of us are going to share your enthusiasm. Others might see certain flaws that will need extra tuition before that particular student can advance …”
 
This is why new groups should be open and honest about their limitations, because this might have a knock-on effect if your group suddenly expands. If the founder members are all non-initiates, there is still a need to establish some sort of ‘system’ to allocate the various different duties that are involved in running a successful group, or one person will finish up doing everything. This is fine if there are only three or four people involved but it will eventually cause resentment if some form of job allocation isn’t sorted out in the early stages.
 
We look upon our own coven in tribal terms, in that we are responsible for the group, but all the senior members have a specific job to do. Evan John Jones in Witchcraft – A Tradition Renewed fully described the function of each member of his group and this is fairly standard within traditional Craft. [These systems are, however, impractical if there are only a handful of members participating in a ritual and Old Craft had certain functions that do not feature in modern witchcraft. MD] Normally, the ‘officers’ are as follows:
 
The Lady or Maid (sometimes Dame)
Often called ‘High Priestess’ by certain Wiccan factions. She generally directs operations, dedicates the Circle and leads the chant/dance. She embodies ‘Goddess energy’ that is represented by the chalice. Some Old Craft traditions will have both: one appointed as the Lady, and the Maid her successor. The Lady holds the position for as long as she is able (traditionally retiring when reaching the menopause) and then steps down to become the Crone. Thus the Coven benefits from having guiding members at all different levels of experience. Problems arise if the Lady refuses to step aside and the Coven energies stagnate.
 
The Crone
A mature female member of the group who has inher turn been Maid and Lady but who retains a certain unstated rank among the members. Usually bringing the benefit of her knowledge, wisdom and understanding to the magical workings and development of the Coven.
 
The Man In Black and/or Magister
He partners the Lady (or Maid) and in Old Craft will more often than not, be the actual leader of the group. He invokes the ‘Horned God energy’ into the ritual, which is represented by the knife. Some larger groups will have both Magister and Man in Black. He rarely has a place in modern Wiccan working.
 
The Summoner
In contemporary groups this can be either male or female but in Old Craft will usually be male, and is part of the very old tradition. His job is to act as adjudicator or witness to any Coven events.
 
The Musician or Piper
This ancient position is rarely heard of these days in any aspect of Craft practice but it was the person who provided the music and led the dance for the Mill. An image of a piper is often found in Palaeolithic cave paintings leading the dance.
 
The Four Quarter Guards or Elders
These are senior members and experienced magical practitioners, all of whom should be Initiates or Elders. They stand for North (power of Earth), South (power of Fire), East (power of Air) and West (power of Water); they stand guard at the quarters during a ritual.

The overall running of the group and the organisation of the rituals falls to the Lady/Dame and the Man in Black/Magister; while the Summoner and the Quarter Guards/Elders are cast in supporting roles, each able to stand in for the others. Larger group will also have a number of Initiates, ‘acolytes’ and ‘neophytes’. In well run set-ups, those senior members acting as Quarter Guards should be willing to stand aside and occasionally allow newer members to take their place in the Circle, under their supervision. This simply means that if an Elder were unable to attend the meeting for whatever reason, there is always someone able to step in and perform that part of the ritual. As a guide, the magical levels are as follows although the terms ‘acolytes’ and ‘neophytes’ are only used here to differentiate between the levels of beginners.
 
Neophyte
A new member who knows little or nothing of the Tradition; a beginner with no previous magical training.
 
Acolyte
One who has reached a basic level of competence and understanding of magical working – one who has vowed to serve their deity and be loyal to the group following the prescribed period of study.
 
Elder
Those specially selected by vote or inheritance to act as the channel for the God and Goddess, and who can invoke deity in order to bring the power down into the Circle.
Adept
One who had attained a higher level of magical and mystical training – one who is capable of passing on the teaching to others within their own group.
 
Initiate
One who has attained practical ability and magical learning within the system – one who is admitted into the Mysteries and taken the Coven Oath before deity.
 
Neophytes should undergo a period of training (often for a traditional year and a day) before formally being admitted into the group. This will give the group a chance to satisfy themselves that the new member will fit in with the rest. In some cases, it may even be the first time that the neophyte has been given the opportunity to formally meet members other than their tutor. It is also important that those at acolyte level should be encouraged to experiment magically by being taught how to work solo, or with a partner (of both sexes), as well as participating in group work. Ideally, each should be taught by someone from the level above, as those at ‘priesthood’ level often forget what it is like to start at the bottom. Members should also be made aware if any particular member has specialist knowledge of a certain subject, such as wort-lore, tarot, divination, etc., so that they get the best possible tuition if that subject is of interest to them.
There is no place for being precious within a coven, and those operating established groups would do well to look at their own structure before deciding to expand. Do the existing ‘senior’ members have the ability or aptitude to teach? Are there sufficient adepts available to act as tutors for any influx of new members? Are the current facilities large enough to cope with additional members? Have the group’s workings become so insular that there is no room for new ideas or opinions? Those wishing to start a coven with just a group of friends will, hopefully, be able to nip any problems in the bud by learning from others’ mistakes.
 
Coven Working: How to Set Up or Join a Working Coven by Philip Wright & Carrie West is published by ignotus press ISBN: 978 1 78697 123 4 : available from Amazon or direct from the printers at a discounted price - https://www.feedaread.com/books/Coven-Working-9781786971234.aspx

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