Saturday, 9 June 2012


I have just returned from a wonderful holiday in Cornwall. More about that later.

At the start of May I set out to make my staff. I decided that it should be ash and that it would be a thumb stick so that I could take it walking, and later on it came in very handy on the Cornish cliff paths.

I walked to a local woodland not far from home carrying a drink and a sharp bill-hook. When I got there I searched all over for some ash trees. I was certain I had seen some before but mostly found horse chestnut, beech and birch. I finally came across one large standing ash tree and one that had fallen. I thought I could see some young trees in the undergrowth beyond a tangle of brambles and nettles. I fought my way through and over the fallen tree and came upon a clearing full of maiden ash trees.

A maiden tree is one that has grown from a fallen seed, rather than one cultivated, and they are considered to have more power. It took some time to select a sapling, especially one with branches in the right place for the fork of the stick. I held the tree and closed by eyes, asking in my thoughts if I could take part of it for my staff. I said a few words too, asking permission, blessing and inviting the tree to impart power and work alongside me in the form of a staff. Then I made my first cut with an upward motion. Once I had the stick I gave thanks and planted an offering of money and a beautiful crystal pebble found on a beach. I returned to the fallen tree, trimmed off the small side branches and stripped the bark. It was still green and the white wood beneath looked like bone.

I then went down to the stream an the bottom of the cutting and washed the stick in the water. The water comes from a spring and it is salty because it runs through unerground deposits. This was especially good as it matches the wiccan idea that things can be consecrated by salt and water. In Nigel Pennick's East Anglian Magic, sacred spaces are cleansed with salt-water. I immersed the stick completely and then took it out and held it up to the sun.

Then I scambled up the slope and sat in the woods a while with my eyes closed, enjoying the birdsong and meditating.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Magickal Paraphernalia

Whilst searching for general info on all things pagan it is impossible not to bump into the growing phenomenon that is Wicca. The true origin of modern Wicca and who founded what is sometimes debated and what actually existed pre-Gerald Gardner is hard to pin down I guess. All I know is that Gardner and Co laid down some modern foundations and standardised some practices. At the same time they developed rituals and tools. Some of these must have had origins in the far past. Nobody could deny that the broomstick has been associated with witchcraft for many hundreds of years. The use of a sword or similar blade probably came from high magickal or hermetic practices. Again, the purification and use of water and the sanctity of salt has ancient roots. Although all the tools and paraphernalia seem valid I do wonder if they are all needed. When I think about the average wise woman or cunning man in a village in the middle ages I can't imagine that they would have been able to afford many of these tools, especially a sword! Wills made in the past testify to this - most people were lucky to leave behind the clothes they died in and perhaps a pewter spoon, knife and bowl. So I have been wondering about getting back to basics.

Reading Pennick's East Anglian Magic, I was struck by the simplicity of the ritual tools. Many were taken from everyday life, like the broom. A knife is needed for cutting and perhaps some string and hazel sticks for marking out ritual areas. A bottle of water is needed and this can be purified with salt. Other than this, an ash staff seems to be the only other essential, for drawing a magical boundary, directing power and will. The ash staff is a very magical thing, being associated with the world-ash Yggdrasil and as a conduit between heaven and earth. Ash was thought to attract lightening, drawing and directing power. So the ash staff is an axis mundi, a world pillar or centre. It is interesting to imagine that for a moment in magical time the whole world spins around a humble staff. The magical associations of the ash tree are too numerous to list here, but it has been a holy tree for millenia, long before the norse and Yggdrasil.

All this rambling brings me to my intention to make an ash staff for magical work and this will be my first and principle magical tool.

I will need to cut some wood. Before I do this I will find out how this can be most respectfully done, what I should cut with and if it should be consecrated. Can anyone offer advice in this regard?


Its been a while, but I am finally back at the blog. Time really flies, especially when work an personal life get busy. But it hasn't been a bad couple of months. On the contrary its been pretty good. Work life has improved and I have actually enjoyed it for a change. And there will soon be a move to a new house with a wonderful garden and two beautiful silver birches.

Despite being busy my spiritual journey has not suffered. I continued to read, study and generally bimble about looking at all sorts of stuff. In busy periods Youtube has been particularly useful, not as a source of sound information but as a window into the lives of some of the pagans out there. I know there is a bias in this as not all pagans would go on Youtube, to preserve anonymity, they don't get on with the technology, or it's just not their cup of tea. And it's the same with blogging, not everyone can blog or wants to blog. But I think this is telling me that a next step in my development might be to get out there and meet some real life practicing pagans and get a real feel for the community and its diversity.

Freyja Again

A while ago I wrote a post about finding some amber and feeling some kind of connection to the Goddess Freyja. I am pleased to say that she is still around and my thoughts keep returning to her. I have read norse mythology on and off since a child, and although powerful and interesting she is often sidelined in favour of gods like Odin and Thor. In fact her "race", the Vanir are often masked by the much louder, brasher Aesir, so much so that even her brother Frey cannot always be heard above the din. Now she has stepped forwards and is leading me to explore the much older world of the Vanir. The Vanir probably pre-date the Aesir, they are connected to the earth, fertility, wisdom and divination. It is also interesting to note that the Anglo Saxons were identified as worshiping the Vanir during the Christian missions to England. The fact that they are older, nature gods appeals to me very much. Perhaps in Frey and Freyja I have found my Lord and Lady figures.


Whilst exploring the web-based pagan community I have come across people who say that they have a patron Goddess and/or God and that they feel drawn to them or feel that they have called them in some way. Can anyone else share any stories about this? I would love to get comments on how people came to find a patron and what it means to them.

Freyja and Frey, Norse statuettes.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Goddess Statue 1

So, following on from my earlier post about making things I have finally started my Goddess statue. I wanted to try and make my own, partly to impart more meaning and partly to see if I could.

I bought some air drying clay as I don't have access to a kiln. This has taken some getting used to and I have had to build it up patiently as it tends to crack and crumble. My plan is to case-harden the statue in the oven with some hardener stuff I also bought.

To start off with I made a rough wooden base and a wire framework.

I wanted a pose with the Goddess stepping forward with her hands in the "Goddess Pose". This framework turned out to be flawed - the wire was too flexible and couldn't hold the weight of clay on the upper body. Also, it flexed under the clay and cracked it at the limbs.

I ditched this approach for a simpler frame made of coat-hanger wire.

The fine wire still had its uses in framing detail like the hands.

I tried to relax and let the figure come to me. It occurred to me that I had no idea what she should look like so I asked the goddess to show me. I ended up with a pleasant, joyful face, framed with copious hair and quite youthful. Fitting given the approach of spring.

As I have gone along the body and pose have developed. I wanted her to be curvaceous, and a curve to her belly - hinting at the fertile promise of spring.

Something told me she wanted lots of hair.

As I have gone on, the pose has come out. So too has the base. I have included a standing stone behind her. This is a favourite beach find. In front of her I have made a cup or hollow. The idea is to place a charcoal brick and insense in the hollow and let the smoke billow up and around her. Or I could put a small candle there, or a container of water or some stones to represent particular elements - not sure yet.

There is still some sanding and trimming to do to the figure as it stands and I will have to air dry it for around four days now. So it's far from finished. I will post again when I case-harden the figure and start to paint it.

It's been fun so far and I am looking forward to making a Horned God to go with her. I might even make other Goddesses, perhaps in different aspects-as mother or crone.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


Having started the blog with a burst of activity I find myself in a period of quiet reflection. This is partly forced by yet another head cold and lethargy, but its good taking time out to just think. I got into a work state of mind last week thinking: "it's been ages since my last post, I must do one." Must!....its funny how we start to tie ourselves up in imagined obligations, something I do too much. I'm working on judging myself less harshly though...

Anyway, this quiet period has meant time to read. Following on from my thoughts about Anglo Saxon paganism and Freya I have just finished "The Secrets of East Anglian Magic" by Nigel Pennick. It was a fascinating look into native English magic as practiced in past and present and there were lots of Saxon survivals in the belief system, but I liked how he stressed that it is a living system, still open to change and improvement. Next up is "The Real Middle Earth" by Brian Bates.

Also of inteterest lately, the archaeologist Francis Prior presented his theory on the introduction of Saxon culture to England in his TV programme Britain AD. I think he is on to something when he says it was not through invasion but through interaction that fashions and culture changed. And now there is growing evidence that pagan Romano-Brits lived alongside Saxons and that they shared many beliefs. They also lived alongside Celtic Christians. If this is true then the so-called dark ages were a time of tolerance, change and creativity.

I will carry on reading in this direction and see where it takes me. At the same time I need to return to my first intention- an exploration of the male mysteries.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


About 16 months ago I suffered from a bout of depression. It is still with me but things are very much brighter now.

I was off work for 13 weeks, and in that time I did alot of thinking about my life and spirituality. I got a great deal of comfort visiting the local country park where there are woods and a lake. One fine day in early September 2010 I came upon a quiet clearing of oak trees where the Rose Bay Willow Herb grew high enough to obscure me from the path. I did a bit of drawing (a green man) and sat and closed my eyes for a while. In the same clearing was an old oak tree. It was a V-shape: one large branch was leaning away from the clearing and another had at one time leant towards where I stood. It looked like it had splintered and fallen, so the rangers had lopped off the remainder. In the stump was a hollow containing a small pool of water. I determined that this would be a small shrine and that I would make an offering. I made a small request to the goddess for help and deposited some small change.

A few days later I went with my partner for a walk by the sea. The tide went out and out and we followed it. We picked up shells and driftwood and explored the pools. The sun was shining and the air was bright and clear. When we got to the water I had an overwhelming urge to jump in - despite the cold. This was strange for me because I had not swam for years, a paranoia brought about by bullying and body image. My partner watched dumbfounded as I took of all my clothes and ran naked into the water waving my underwear over my head and whooping. The water was shallow but I managed to swim a little. I got out, put my sagging underwear back on and donned my clothes. I felt great.

As we walked back we scanned the sands for more treasures, perhaps a shell or a piece of driftwood to take home (I love driftwood). Then I saw it. Something I had always wanted to find on a beach.....a piece of Amber. We were not sure at first but when I felt its texture and we held it up to the sun we were sure. Fresh from the sea it was strangely sticky and smelled intensely of pine resin. We were smelling a forest from 40 million years ago! Now, its not unusual to find amber on a British beach if you are on the east coast. There it is often found, around East Anglia in particular. But we were in the North West, hundreds of miles away. Perhaps there is a small deposit in the Irish Sea, or maybe it was carried over land to coast by ice age melt waters. Perhaps a ship lies off the coast, sunk with a cargo of Amber still aboard. It had travelled some way because it was worn round. A very, very rare find and a good size too. Here is a picture taken on the day.

The Amber has now dried out, shrunk a little, lost its smell and developed a surface patina. I gave it to my partner, she loves Amber, but we both treasure it.

Now to the present time. I have been thinking about pagan spirituality and reading about the different paths followed by others. Thinking about the God and Goddess and what kind of path I might follow. From the start I have felt firmly British. When I think about this I guess I don't feel particularly Celtic. I have some Scottish forebears but this doesn't mean Celtic (especially in the Viking-raided Western Isles). So I feel more English. I have always loved the Norse myths but feel more Anglo Saxon in character - again more English. So I have always been interested in Anglo Saxon spirituality. To this end I have been looking into Anglo Saxon magic.

Yesterday I was reading and came across reference to Freya being venerated in East Anglia. I then read about how she wept for her lost husband and where her tears fell on land they turned to gold and over water - Amber! And her father was Njord, god of the sea. And she has an amber necklace, Brisingamen that shines like the sun (we live near Alderley Edge where Alan Garner set his classic book "The Weird Stone of Brisingamen"). And Freya as a primal goddess appeals to me, and her twin brother Frey as her male counterbalance. Even references to them as Lord and Lady (the balance I am looking for between male and female principles).

I am a big sceptic, and coincidences can happen, but could this be the Goddess contacting me as Freya?

What do you think...........?

Saturday, 4 February 2012


Not much blogging this week and couldn't find the time to do much at Imbolc. I am not too worried about this, as I have said I am starting over and re-exploring pagan spirituality. But it does bring home the realisation that a deeper engagement with this in the future would mean that I would not have to find time, but make time to mark and celebrate the quarter and cross-quarter festivals. This is something I would like to do, not just to celebrate or venerate, but to mark out the year and bring more structure to my busy life. I will eventually have to make a greater commitment, but right now these thoughts, feelings and concepts are only just re-awakening in me.

So I guess a parallel could be drawn between my present condition and this time of year. This struck me on a woodland walk last weekend. At first it was frosty and it seemed that we were still in the grip of winter.

And there were remnants of last year.

The copper beech hanging on to its leaves.

But the sun was shining and on the ascendant and there were signs of new life stirring everywhere. In places the ground was breaking with the first shoots of new growth. All around, life was forcing its way back into the woodland. And taking time to stop and close your eyes, you could hear and smell it too. The faint smell of wild garlic already, the birdsong. You could sense the approach of spring and the promise of renewed life.

And I suppose this is how I feel about my path at the moment: renewal, growing potential, but still early stirrings.

I don't have an altar or know any spells, but maybe on this walk I celebrated the spirit of Imbolc without realizing it.

Here are some more pictures (the fungi are dedicated to Moma Fauna)