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