Posts Tagged ‘gwydion’

A guide to using incense

I’m always banging on about using incense. If you’ve read my previous posts recently then at almost any opportunity I’m lighting up and zooming off into trance. Now, as a Hedge Druid, why would I need these props? Surely, if I’m true to my cause I shouldn’t need anything except the sweet scent of Nature’s own aromas to send me thoughts skyward? Well, our friend Gwydion over at Sparrowhawk’s Haven would agree with you too – keep props to a minimum. In fact, don’t use any props at all!

I used to agree with this position. I started out from that position and for years I withstood the urge to use props of any kind. Yet, in recent years I have relented slightly. Am I going soft? Probably. There’s a bit more to it than that though. I have learned that incense and crystals do help me to do meditation. Incense offers me protection and brings me to trance faster, and crystals can do almost anything I need – protection, focus, re-direction – they’re very useful tools.

Tools such as incense and crystals free my mind to concentrate on the matter at hand, and they mean that I don’t have to expend my energy on setting up protection or connection, and I can focus quickly on the task I need to do. Also, I feel that incense invites spirit forms to come closer. It’s like a smoke signal to them that something interesting is about to occur, and they seem to gather and be around when incense is lit outdoors.

So there are a couple of reason why I use these tools. True, you don’t NEED anything. True, again, you shouldn’t come to rely upon having these tools available. I agree. Yet, if they are available, and you like working with them, then why get snooty about it? So, in my travels I have worked out a handy guide to how many incense sticks you can use for what purpose. It’s my own list, but if it proves useful for you too, then that’s all good too, right?

  1. One for a quick connection – preparing the ground
  2. Two for meditation – one either side – you in the middle (between the worlds)
  3. Three for protection – in a triangle around you
  4. Four for marking the quarters – calling in the elemental forces
  5. Five for a combination of three and two – a deep protected meditation
  6. Six for a change – six sticks will usually need to be placed into a formation of some sort – a sigil – to connect to a source of change
  7. Seven or more – for a total clearance of all blockages or existing energy patterns

As Bruce Lee said of learning martial arts – take what is useful for you and discard the rest. My dowsing shows me that this table of information is useful if you wish to adopt it as your own, but worthless otherwise, because you can create your own associations if you want to. Seems to be the way of many magical practises!


Signs and Coincidences – Three foxes of Imbolc

It is usually wisest to notice signs as they happen and then to act upon them at the time. Less wise is to realise that signs were presented to you and you managed to notice them but do nothing as a result. Well, sadly it was the latter that happened to me recently over the Imbolc festival period. We live and learn, as the saying goes. Let me explain.

I was driving home from work the night after Kal and I had been to Yorkshire in search of inspiration. The sun was just about to set below the horizon, a soft ice-cream sorbet sun melting deliciously below the black rim of the foreground hills. The sky was a clear azure blue prickled with stars that were eking their way into the evening’s display. As usual I was half concentrating on the road and half on the surrounding loveliness. I have learned to be wary of this state of mind for something always happens when I do that. Something happened.

In the remains of the day a sleek ginger fox slunk across the road, barely slowing as it spun its head to check that I was sufficiently slow to allow it to cross only feet in front of my car. Luckily I was going slowly in this residential area, so I got to see its full shiny copper shape. I gogged. I had been doing this route from work to home for the last twelve years and had never seen a fox cross with such nonchalance or so close. Sure, I’d seen what looked like a fox one morning dash at full pelt half a mile ahead of me once, but this was an intimate meeting.

Red fox crossing close

I continued to chase the setting sun. The ambient light was still enough to see clearly, and miles later down the road I was still bubbling with excitement at having seen that fox. What was it doing out that early in the evening, and so close to civilisation and to me? Still, it was a once in a long time encounter that would stay with me until..until I saw another fox crossing in front of the car, this time going the other way, right to left. Just as clear, just as unhurried in its crossing, and with that same lingering look into my eyes as I approached slowing the car as I neared. Wha…? Impo… Why tonight? Within the space of thirty minutes two red foxes had crossed my path very near to me when none had done so for the past twelve years!

I decided to do some research to try to explain it. Here’s what I found out about the habits of the fox at this time of the year – Imbolc, late Winter:

“This is the mating season and when young foxes disperse from their natal area. Males follow females at close quarters. This is the period when fights and vocalizations are their highest. Towards the end of the winter, the female will look for a suitable den where she can give birth to the cubs.” (source:

Maybe this is the outcome of the fox-hunting ban that the previous government had put into law? Maybe this was a sheer coincidence. Maybe this was significant? I didn’t see how at the time, but then slowly things began to come together.Let me set the chronology clearly for you. I had been out at a stone circle a few days before Imbolc trying to discover my path for the next part of the year. Nothing happened. I forgot to try even! It was like a door that had got stuck because the hinges had rusted through lack of use – I couldn’t open the way into the Otherworld.

Then I saw the foxes. The next evening I was able to sit beneath an old oak tree and made a connection with it to discover my task for the next part of the year. I was startled out of my trance at the exact moment when I connected with the oak tree. It was a fox – it had reached the perimeter of my aura and had startled itself by touching it. Moments later I crossed the threshold between worlds and got my vision of chakras and sound that would form my journey for the period between Imbolc and Spring Equinox. I can see now how it was the ‘invitation’ of the foxes that guided me to cross the threshold to discover my next part on the journey.

The day after my Imbolc revelation I happened to visit Gwydion’s “Sparrowhawk Haven” website. I had read most of the posts on the blog, and followed most of the links but one link that I had not visited was his “This Month’s Animal” link. I knew the basic concept – he would draw a tarot card from his animal tarot pack each month and that would become the feature animal – the totem for the month’s meditation, if you like, the symbol of the time’s powers and frequency. I reasoned that if I needed such a symbol I would draw my own from my own tarot pack. Anyway, today, a day after Imbolc I clicked the link. I was soon face to face with a picture of a fox!

The Fox Dance in full swing by Mister Fox at Marsden Imbolc festival

Gwydion explains the significance of the fox like this:

“fox…leading its ‘followers’ through a particularly difficult or impassable door.” (source: Sparrowhawkhaven)

I hadn’t connected the three things until Gwydion mentioned that interpretation of the fox on his web site. The foxes has been symbolising some form of release for me – a way for me to break through my stale habits and cross into another dimension. This seemed especially symbolic as they were both crossing a road, from one wild area to another. They were making a crossing, out of their comfort zone, breaking their own habits in search of something primal and instinctive.

Interesting….As if by another strange coincidence or crossing point on my path, this article reared its head just as I was writing this post. It suggests that foxes are able to sense the earth’s magnetic field and use it in order to catch their prey. Well, these foxes just keep getting more and more cunning!


Four Knocks: Sun, Moon and Uranus

Saturday 29th May – Four Knocks, County Meath

On the morning of Saturday 29th May I roped Kal into one of my crazy ideas. We would spend the next two days on a modern pilgrimage, just like we had done at Glastonbury the year before. We would find a starting point and then let the dowsing rods direct us from site to site. For me, I would set my intention for this pilgrimage to be to work on each of the seven chakras and to see what came out of trying to do that. For Kal, he would just do what he does – see what happened at each place and go with it. So, with the help of the iMegalith iPhone application and my SatNav system we trekked off to the starting point, which I had determined would be a henge and mound close to Four Knocks.

We didn’t get very far trying to find the henge and mound. The mound was visible in a farmer’s field, but the supposed henge had been… well, let’s assume it was removed and ploughed out of existence! Not a good start. Was there anywhere else we could pick up the quest? Our dowsing showed that nearby Four Knocks would be suitable. As soon as we got the rods crossing we kind of knew that this had actually been the right place all along, but something had been preventing us from dowsing that from afar. We sort of had to be in the area to zoom in on it. Perhaps we had prevented ourselves from ‘finding’ Four Knocks prior to actually being there because we knew you had to obtain a key in order to get in? Who knows. We obtained the said key (by the way – the directions are not very clear – but we found the house eventually and got the key by leaving a small deposit with a nice lady) and went to discover this famous mound’s secrets and begin a quest.

Entrance to Four Knocks

We opened the iron door up (iron – aaargh!!) and began to settle in. I needed some stuff from the car that I had forgotten, and by the time I got back to the mound it was swarming with a minibus-load of tourists from various parts of the world – America, Japan, Australia….all over. Their guide had clearly gone off to get the key without realising that we already had it. Ten minutes later he was in the mound beginning his guided tour of the place, which I earwigged into, of course. Hey – it was free for me to listen!! And jolly interesting it was too, although I could see Kal twitch every now and again, and I was biting my tongue at some of the speculative leaps the guide was making to fill the gaps in the archaeology with fantasy and pure imagination. He was very careful to preface everything with “My guess would be...”, or “Perhaps they might have…”, and even in the dim light I occasionally caught Kal swinging his dowsing rods behind the guide, shaking his head as though to say, “Nope!” It’s funny how dowsing can sometimes make you feel quite confident about being able to find out hidden knowledge, and yet later in the day that confidence would be completely reversed, but we’ll come to that in a later tale.

I don’t know if this is the traditional position but at Four Knocks we have the female on top and the male underneath. Yes, on top of the rounded mound there was female energy all over it. All around the outside of the mound was a male energy line, waving and running around in a sunwise direction. Kal was spending quite a time outside, pacing around and around, working something out, but I decided to get myself inside to take some pictures of the rock carvings and to try to work out what I might have to do to work on my Root Chakra – the first part of my modern pilgrimage. That was the intention, but instead Four Knocks had its own agenda for working my chakras!! I will explain in a moment.

Inside there was more than the usual amount of decoration. Many of the swirling circular shapes were familiar to us, but there was an abundance of zig-zag lines and lozenge shapes carved into the lintels of the recesses in the mound that seemed to be quite unique to this particular chamber, or at least rarely seen in such quantity elsewhere.

Zig-zag lintel decoration at Four Knocks

Read the rest of this entry »

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