Posts Tagged ‘natural magick’
For several weeks I had been passing by Old Oswestry Hillfort in Shropshire on my travels to Wales and to some of the closer megalithic sites in North Shropshire. Every time I passed it my eye was caught by its level top and the sheer size of it. I loved the sight of its steep front, and wanted to see whether it had any energetic remainders or interesting energy forms in it. One evening I couldn’t contain myself any longer, and I got on my motorbike and rode down to Oswestry on the pretext of giving the bike a bit of a run to charge up the battery. Any excuse!
At the back of my mind I had another agenda too. I had wanted to find out whether I could really make use of The Fitzalan Shade that I had picked up from Clun Castle the week before (see previous post: Clun Castle and the Shade of the Warlock) – the spirit of a warlock with whom I had negotiated a bargain for knowledge sharing. Now was the time to test this out. Would the arrangement be up to anything at all, or was I wasting my time?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this story, let me take you on an interesting diversion. As often happens in my unusual life when walking The Shining Path (I give this questing life many names) I go to places that have intuitively called to me. Afterwards when I do my research on the sites I find that they have some link to my spiritual progression that I had not expected. Such was the case with Old Oswestry. To me, it was that hill fort that I kept seeing and which called to me this year (even though I have been passing it for many years now). This year has seen a change in my Arthurian archetype. Last year I was completely bound up in quests for Merlin, culminating with his spirit merging with my own at Dinas Emrys.
This year I have been inextricably woven into the fabric of Arthur’s life – first at Tintagel, then at places such as Arthur’s Cave at Symond’s Yat, then Arthur’s Grave in Pembrokeshire. The sites have been never-ending, each linked to King Arthur and me seemingly destined to visit when my tasks and destinations have been dowsed and plotted on maps. Such has been the course of this year. How intriguing then that when I researched Oswestry Hill Fort I find that it too is strongly linked with the Arthurian myth. More weft for the rich tapestry.
Oswestry: The Welsh name means City of Gogyrfan. According to legend, Gogyrfan was father to Queen Guinevere and therefore father in law to King Arthur. This fort was said to be Guinevere’s birthplace. (source: Oswestry Town Talk)
Now I will tell you all about my first usage of the Fitzalan Stone and whether it truly does have magickal properties.
You may have noticed the lack of podcasts this year on Hedge Druid? There’s a reason for that. In the first half of the year the reason could be put down to a mounting pressure of “work”. Mostly this was spiritual work, and with all the good weather we have had in England this year then the Great Outdoors claimed a large part of my time, and this was reflected in the amount of time-consuming podcast work that I could do. Right, that’s my pathetic excuse out of the way. Now, what about the recent months? I did intend to re-establish the podcast once the weather got worse. It has worsened, but still I don’t feel inclined to get back into the studio to record and edit an hour’s worth of audio. Why not? I think there’s a deeper and wider reason.
I have been noticing that other pagan blogs have also begun to falter in their regularity and their commitment. Could it be that we all expanded too quickly, and pushed ourselves too hard to produce content? Possibly, but I think the real reason is due to a difficulty in maintaining momentum when this year has been out of synchronisation with itself. Let me explain.
The Moon, The Sun and The Earth sources
Last year our blogs flourished. Mostly these are blogs that are talking about magickal work, mystical happenings and spiritual progress. What general effect has happened that could account for the difference between last year’s ease and this year’s difficulty? Simple. It is the synchronisation of the phase of the Moon with the Celtic Festival dates. Last year the high points in the solar cycle were matched by high points in the lunar cycle. In other words, at the major lunar festival dates the Moon was also usually in its Full Moon phase.
The Celtic Wheel of the Year is a cycle that records the high points of the year’s energies. It tells the pagan watcher when the Earth itself is producing the most energy in its co-operative cycle with The Sun. In my experience, and I speak only for myself here, I do not use The Sun as my primary magickal power source. For me it is The Moon. Last year was therefore a “bumper year” in terms of the number of coincidences between the Solar and Lunar high points. Magick was abundant and easy. Motivation was plentiful, and so a great deal of work flowed, and many posts got produced. Blogs flourished that dealt with these subjects.
This year the story has been completely reversed, and how dispiriting must that have been to many of our pagan friends whose magickal sources are Moon-dependent? This year the Full Moon phases NEVER coincide with any of the Solar Festival dates in the Celtic Year. Only Spring Equinox came close. The result of this, goes my tenuous hypothesis, is that motivation has taken a battering. Magickal people must have found themselves either doing Sun OR Moon work, but never being able to being the two together.
It was a fine English summer’s evening, in other words the sun was threatening to appear and it wasn’t yet raining. A good enough excuse for me to go and visit a local beauty spot and see what I could learn. “Every day”, as they say, “is a school day”. I obtained a meagre repast from a mini-market in Alderley Edge and pointed the car up the hill towards the Druid’s Inn car park alongside Alderley Edge forest.
My goal? Tonight, as I began to walk into the trees, I instructed the dowsing rods to direct me towards “something that will advance me on my spiritual quest“. Vague, yet promising. The rods twitched and I began to follow them ‘blindly’, trusting that some other forces understood the directive better than I did and would work on my behalf as they had done so many times before. As I walked I asked a quick question – “Would it be wise for me to put up some protection in the forest?” YES, said the rods. I was already doing it! Only positive helpful influences tonight, please!
I was brought into the forest by the usual path, even though I still don’t recognise it until I have reached the first high point! I was taken by yet another alternate route but the destination was familiar – a small rise covered in pine needles where the rods twirled around on a nondescript spot that I knew was probably full of powerful energies. Could I not sit on the nearby lovely mossy mound, I asked the rods. No, they chided, this was the spot to sit on. I sat.
At first I admired the view, wondering why I had been led to this place, and toying with the idea of ignoring this bit and carrying on. Three or four minutes later I was still wondering, when I realised that I could feel my “modern world” energies being stripped from me, and my senses attuning to the sounds and sights of the forest. I was hearing distant wildlife. I was sensing the movement of the gentle breezes as they played with the higher branches. I was feeling the flavour of the forest. I was attuned! Wonderful. NOW I could proceed.
After being cleansed and attuned I felt … really good. I didn’t want to move, but I forced myself onwards with this evening’s work – where should I go next? The rods began to lead me down a familiar off-road track through the dense forest and I was walking on to my next intriguing encounter.
Every so often I come around The Spiral of Life and find that I am re-joining a path that I have taken before, except that this time the path is at a higher level and offers more challenges and rewards than the previous time. That’s a rather grandiose way of saying that I have recently re-discovered an interest in casting a circle when doing natural magick out in the big wide world. What use are invisible circles, you may ask? I certainly did. I’m not one to pick up on magickal practises and mimic them for the hell of it. They better have a demonstrable purpose and prove themselves in the field before I’ll consider incorporating them into my work.
Traditionally casting a circle has been seen as a method of creating a sacred protected space within which power can be contained. It serves the dual purpose of excluding energies from outside of the circle that the magician may not wish to allow to enter the space in which he or she is working. A magic circle is different in some ways from just putting up protection around oneself in that it has the additional benefit of being “geometrically efficient” – in other words, because it is a circle, any energy released within it is contained and not diminished. I would go further and say that the practitioner should be considering the use of a sphere, rather than a circle, and containing the energy in a three-dimensional (and perhaps more) space. This bubble provides a perfect containment for subtle or magickal energies, thus increasing the efficiency of the work within the ‘circle’ and reducing energy loss or dissipation. Magickal circles offer protection without energetic interruption, they create a “sacred space” within whose bounds you can ‘clear’ the space to be free of undue or unintended influence, and thereafter protect it from re-admittance to those other energies, effectively creating a sealed hermetic space within, sanitised for your work.
Natural magick practitioners in particular should consider the use of such devices as magick circles because there are more unpredictable forces in the wilds of Nature than in the sanitised structures of modern man, and creating a safe space within which to work is more of a necessity than a nicety. Introductions over let’s go on to talk about how casting a circle is actually done.
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?
- One for a quick connection – preparing the ground
- Two for meditation – one either side – you in the middle (between the worlds)
- Three for protection – in a triangle around you
- Four for marking the quarters – calling in the elemental forces
- Five for a combination of three and two – a deep protected meditation
- 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
- 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!
I have a few more posts about my adventures on the trail of the southern energy ley from Arbor Low to Christchurch. In this tale I begin by getting diverted from my intended destination of the village of Rockley due to the crap signs and bizarre diversions caused by the inevitable roadworks in the town of Marborough. Add to that the consequential terrible traffic and the feeling of wasting a perfectly good sunny day, and you can see why I decided to divert myself to go in search of the barrow at East Kennet. I would just have to forego Rockley for this trip – it was impossible to get to!
Some miles to the west of Marlborough I saw the signs for the village and turned into the lane slowly tracking along watching both sides for any signs of the barrow. None. Any stones? None. Any tourist information? None. Anything at all? Nothing. Damn – I have still been unable to locate the barrow, and so I have decided to print off a very low-scale OS map and keep it in the car with me at all times just in case I go that way again.
In much higher spirits I headed to a place I did know how to find – the nearby West Kennet long barrow that I had visited several times in previous years. in fact, there isn’t a year goes by now when I don’t visit it at least once. Luckily, this being a week day, I had the place virtually to myself. I parked my car in the lay-by and walked down the well-made track with my ash staff and bag of goodies in hand.
As I walked towards the lone oak tree on the corner of the field I said hello. The tree seemed strangely lonely this visit – has a fence been removed, or a hedge perhaps? Something had changed – it all seemed much more open and exposed than usual. Everywhere seems bare! On the way up to the barrow I felt the urge to pick up a newly ploughed clod of earth. I began to break it apart in my free hand as I walked with my staff. I didn’t let it all crumble, but kept a handful and let it absorb the warmth of my palm, and let it receive the pulses of the beat of my heart and blood.
As I strode up to the barrow the only other visitors in the area decided that they had probably finished kind of, er, milling about and recalling fragments of overheard history and they wandered off down the hill. I smiled at them and wished them a fond farewell, but they were in their own worlds and didn’t notice. I went on top of the mound by the path I had been shown on previous occasions, and up there I settled in. I sat on my power centre, lay down my staff, took some pictures, and generally chilled out for a second, letting the traffic nightmare unwind from my body and psyche. It doesn’t pay to enter into megalithic structures in a bad mood or wound up. Soon I was in a dowsing state of mind – a hazy dream state that suited the warm and windless day. I meditated briefly to check that I was ready to enter, and, still holding the warm fresh Wiltshire soil in my hand I walked down into the entrance hall of the barrow.
Due to the “freak” weather in England (we had a slight bit of snow – the kind that Canadians laugh at) I was unable to get back from Canada as planned. My plan was to return before the Winter Solstice so that I could spend that day going out to a sacred site, communing with my favourite ancient yew tree, and getting some guidance on the activities for the next part of the Wheel of the Year. All that was scuppered by a few inches of snow at the major European airports and so I was delayed by several days. I could have been far worse, and apparently was for many people, so I accepted our lot and bunkered into the Calgary airport hotel at the expense of the Dutch airline KLM. Thanks KLM – you did a great job.
This opened an opportunity up for me that I hadn’t realised, though. It was widely reported in the Canadian media that there would be a lunar eclipse on the night of the 20th December, going into the 21st. This was an opportunity not the be missed, and despite the fact that I would be flying for 11 hours the next morning at 4:30am I decided I could sleep on the plane instead of miss this great celestial display.
Whilst my wife slept (sensibly) I stood alone outside the Delta Hotel at Calgary Airport at 11:30pm waiting for something to happen. As I stood there several things came to mind in that quiet (quiet? aircraft were taking off left, right and centre!) space as I waited…
- It was the first total lunar eclipse on a Winter Solstice for over 450 years
- It was the Winter Solstice when the eclipse would occur – a special day in my calendar and a day of special energies
- The moon would be full when the eclipse occurred – a prefect time for a magickal encounter
I began to take pictures at ten minute intervals in order to capture the event in a sequence. Here are the pictures from that night:-
Click here for a time-lapse video of the event.
As the eclipse unfolded, one of the chefs from the hotel came out occasionally to join me. He introduced himself as Davide, a French ex-patriot who now lived in Canada and we chatted in the minus 20 degree night air. I explained the significance of the phenomenon to Davide, and he began to get increasingly excited as I explained the trinity of alignments: date, full moon, and eclipse.
When he couldn’t stand the coldness any longer (I was dressed for it – he was in his kitchen whites) I was once again alone to ponder the event as it reached its dark climax. I called upon my spirit guide to see whether anything could be revealed about what actions I should take in the next part of the year, fully expecting a message along the lines of “Take a rest now, consolidate the year’s work, and don’t do anything until Imbolc.” That wasn’t the message I got!
In my head I heard the phrase “Celebrate Death“. Perhaps this was in response to the “death” of Winter and the moon that night? On my return home this message would be hammered home in two significant ways. Firstly there was a note form my father-in-law who had been minding our house during our absence: our dear old neighbour Dolly had passed away a few days before the solstice. I also noticed that the old beech tree that had been standing at the end of our neighbour’s drive and which gave us such resplendent view through the seasons had been cut down! Nothing now remained but a stump. I’ll tell you more about how that came about soon in another post, but needless to say, although we knew it might happen it was as shocking as any human death to me.
So I can see now how this Winter Solstice event was symbolic of Death – the death of The Moon and the death of the Year 2010. I was being asked not to mourn for the deaths that had occurred, but instead to celebrate them. This is what I did on my next visit to a sacred site, but I also found out that my quest was not what I thought it was, and that the celebration was to be a one-off, not part of the Wheel of the Year after all. More on that soon.