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A is for Altar – Creating that first altar

Cymraes:

Reblogging this excellent article on how to set up your very first altar – some sound common sense advice here which is very helpful for the new comers to the craft :)

Originally posted on Knot Magick:

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Recently I came across someone on Facebook who was very worried about sharing their first altar with a larger group. Partly there was a fear their altar wouldn’t be accepted as well as a feeling that they hadn’t been able to achieve their ideal with the space and tools to their disposal. It set my mind whirling and after I shared my thoughts with him I thought it would make a great first Pagan Blog Project offering.

So, here are my musings on the things you should be thinking about when you set about creating that first altar.

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Personal photo - © Victoria Newton

What is your purpose?
Are you creating something to honour a particular deity or turn of the year? Are you going to follow a particular tradition or work in an eclectic way? Once you’ve identified a purpose it will be easier to decide what you want to include as you will…

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Hype and Misinformation over the supposed esoteric website censorship; why you might want to think twice!

As I’ve said elsewhere – I’m increasingly concerned with the huge amount of interest generated by the assumption that the UK government will be censoring esoteric sites on internet via filters set by ISPs – I see petitions for people to sign and all sorts of things going on – but no where did Cameron say this as fact!

My concern is that those that wish the continuation of what’s commonly known as ‘kiddie-porn’ have jumped on this bandwagon and are garnering support from unsuspecting pagans, as well as what my OLF Rowan points out, that pagans being linked with deviants by the media!

Please read Camerons speech so you can see for yourself before you too jump on the bandwagon, and make your own mind up rather than going along with all this hype and misinformation!

Abusers are crafty bastards – they go to any length to get what they want …

 

Hunters Moon Orkney

Where to begin!

There’s a minefield facing the new seeker when first they step onto the path – where to begin is the cry often said in frustration!

Well the best place to start is here, right now and here are a few tips to consider to get you started. Pick and choose from the list as they are in no particular order.

What are your belief’s, if any – do you hold with the one God or many Gods? Or no divinity at all? Reincarnation or not? Karma or Fate? Are you a witch, a mystic, a druid, a wiccan or just you yourself?

Sorting out what you do and don’t subscribe to is an important part of the path. It’s what defines us, and what we do. So OK you might see Karma banded about online and decide yeah, I know what it is, but do you? Further understanding of the subject and how it relates to you, might make you reconsider.

This is where questioning plays an important part; never feel silly for asking questions – those who know do and those who don’t stay ignorant! So check the facts, take nothing at face value, always question, check and recheck, until you’re sure.

Once you have your personal belief’s organised you might find that with time, and understanding, they change – that’s ok, nothing is set in stone – if it was, it wouldn’t evolve.

  • The Moon

The Moon is very important on this path; she rules the night and the months (moon-ths) – she is the Witch Mother. The tides are linked to her; tides of the oceans and our magics.

What’s her phase right now – today? What do you know about it – how can you apply this to your life? Waxing? Brings something to you? Waning? Throw something away!

  • The Sun

The Sun is also important to us; he rules the seasons and the day. He is the Witch Father. The tides of the year and our magics are also ruled by him.

Again, which quarter of the year are we in. Can that be useful to you? If so how?

  • What season is it?

The seasons dictate the festivals, so getting to know the seasons is something we can all do, simply taking walks in the elements is a very good way to start to understand the year and how it’s split into the various festivals and how they, in turn are related to the agricultural year.

At the time of writing, it’s just turned from October to November, so I am reading, bloging and immersing myself in the Wild Hunt, and not for the first time either – revisiting subjects for research is a very good way to further the depth of understanding. Look at it like strands in a web, some need strengthening from time to time.

There are four very important days in the year, known as the Cross Quarter days, because they divide the Year into four – they are the two equinoxes and the two solstices. the year waxes from the winter solstice up to it’s hight at the summer solstice, when the year wanes. The spring and autumn equinox mark the half way points.

What’s the season now, today? What’s the next festival coming up? What can you learn about it? Will you be marking it? If so how?

  • What day of the week is it?

Example: it is a Friday as I write, a day of Venus, Roman Goddess of Love and Beauty.

Knowing this can lead to several things; further research around the days of the week, how they got their names and which Gods they represent, furthering an understanding of which Gods rule the day and all the levels of wisdom that come with that. This then can lead into astrology, an understanding of which planets rule which day, and which Gods rule which planet. If we take Friday then we will see that today is a very good day for love spells… picking and planting the herb mint… and so on.

This can be as simple or as complicated as required, but starting off with easy simple steps is always the best…

Will you be doing anything with the God who rules the day? If so what? What about tomorrow – which God rules that day and how can you work with them?

  • Ritual

When you have the basic understanding of the seasons, days of the week and if you do or don’t include divinity into your practise, then you are ready for your first simple rituals. Again, these are best begun simply, building as your understanding builds.

One such ritual might be a daily or weekly meditation.

Again start simple – take some time to be alone with out any interuptions. Either inside or outside find a place where you can be, either siting or lying down, but make sure the spine is straight. Light a candle and/or a little incense. Then simply sit with your eye’s closed and become aware. you might find your mind races, interrupting your quiet time. To counteract this, take your awareness to your breathing. Sit with that for a while and then come back to reality by feeling the ground you are siting on, or the chair; wiggle your fingers and toes, and open your eyes. Blow out the candle and return to your day.

If you like, join a meditation class. It’s a good tool to have, for not only does it help with concentration and awareness, but it sets the scene for any pathworkings you may do in the future. Tho’ they are two side of the same coin IMHO, some think they are not. But putting time to do this in to your daily or weekly routine is very rewarding.

What will you do in your ritual? How will you do it? For what? Which phase of the moon is is? What season is it? Is the year waxing or waning? How will you (if at all) apply this to the ritual?

  • Protection.

As Paul Huson points out in his excellent book, “Mastering Witchcraft”, the moment someone starts on this Path, it gets noticed… I see allot of talk about psychic protection online, and again, IMHO it’s one of the first things a seeker should get to grips with – so I wrote a simple little ritual about it here. Again, this can be made as simple or as complicated as required – in time, when some thing extra is needed I can recommend the LBRP.

Do you need protection? If so, when would be a good day to begin this? Which Moon phase?  Which time of the year? Or none for the former – will you wing it and see what happens?

  • Get creative.

The easiest way to bring creativity into your life is by writing about your journey. A magical journal in which to keep your notes about what you’ve done, what you’d like to do, what you’ve learnt and so on. I suggest you do this in the old fashioned way; by hand, with a pen, in a blank book. There’s something wonderful about it… you can include any drawings and or print outs, leaves, etc etc

You can record your meditations, or paint them – it doesn’t matter if you’re not than good – you are doing this for the fun of it, for the joy and because you want to; so have fun!

In fact have fun with all of it! But try to be disciplined about it – but not a slave to it; work towards a balance, and try to make it, a part of you, even in your everyday life.

What can you do now, to put this in place? A doodle? A song? How about a little dance?

Finally – rinse repeat and rinse again – as Marian Green advises in her excellent book “A Witch Alone“, going over old ground is a good way to deepen your praxis – it brings new insights and understandings.

By Johann Wilhelm Cordes (1824-1869) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Russell Brand and the Wild Hunt.

By Johann Wilhelm Cordes (1824-1869) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Johann Wilhelm Cordes (1824-1869) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Today, there are weather warnings circulating of severe winds expected late Sunday, early Monday (27-28th October) across the UK, beginning in the South and working up the country. Worse in some parts than others.

The Wild Hunt is upon us, with the first of the winter storms.

There are many legends of the WIld Hunt, depending on where in the country they originate from.

It’s Odin who leads the Hunt, as a god of the Winds, astride his eight legged horse Sleipnir, collecting the souls of the dead as he rode the wild winds – this theme is repeated, with regional variations across the country.

In south Shropshire, it’s Wild Edric who rides out from the Stipperstones with his hounds. His Lady Goda sometimes at his side.

In Wales it’s the Gwynn ap Nudd who rides out, with his spectral hounds, the Cwn Annwn, all white with red tipped ears, and eye’s the colour of rubies.

Else where it’s King Arthur, and upon Dartmoor, it’s said Sir Francis Drake leads the Hunt!

Even Shakespeare mentions the Wild Hunt:

There is an old tale goes, that Herne the Hunter
(Sometimes a keeper here in Windsor forest)
Doth all the winter-time, at still midnight,
Walk round about an oak, with great ragg’d horns,
And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle,
And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a chain
In a most hideous and dreadful manner.
You have heard of such a spirit, and well you know
The superstitious idle-headed eld
Receiv’d and did deliver to our age
This tale of Herne the Hunter for a truth.
(Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor, 4.4.28-38)

Legends tell a similar tale across Europe as well, but the facts are the Hunt appears with the first of these winter storms – a time when it’s safer in than out for obvious reasons. But if we cast our minds back to our Ancestors time, we can see how these storms threatened every day life. Even now, in our modern homes, we have to make sure we ‘batten down the hatches’ but a hundred or more years ago, the dangers were more apparent, more threatening to life and limb.

There is also an ‘air’ about such storms – and ethereal they can be! To walk out in such a storm is still a real danger; I remember one such storm a few years ago when the centre of the town was closed off, due to the risk of death from falling roof tiles! Falling, being a slight exaggeration… they were being blown, sword like down on to the street below as if an unseen hand had directed them towards unsuspecting shoppers. Luckily, no one was badly hurt, but…

Is there anyone of our ilk, dear Reader, who is not aware, that the spirit of Albion is LIVID at the treatment of the country by it’s political leaders?

Bearing that in mind, and knowing that the leaders of the Hunt, afore mentioned, are a part of Albion and it’s many spirits, who among us, are not tempted to turn the full rage of this storm towards those who stand for everything that is wrong in this country…

Who amongst us, is not tempted to call up our regional Hunt leader and emplore him to turn south wards to unleash a storm upon those who would sell this country short, destroy it with nuclear power, fracking and the rape and pillage of it’s sacred land…

Who amongst us, is not tempted to see the wrongs committed against the people of this green and pleasant land, righted…

Who amongst us, is not prepared to evoke the Wild Hunt to bear down upon those responsible for all these wrongs?

We need a revolution.

In generations to come, who knows, if Sir Francis Drake can lead the Wild Hunt, why not Russell Brand?

Hunters Moon Orkney

Work in process; two.

Please read the first instalment here ->

…she shivered and glanced behind her, half expecting someone to be there watching her silently in the darkness.

she took a few steps towards the spot, her eye’s catching a movement … of this world or the next she wondered as her feet sank into the wet sand. The clouds drew back for a moment, allowing the moonlight to fall on the spot, illuminating it briefly…

She caught her breath in shocked surprise – a dark figure seemed to melt into the rock. 

…before the clouds covered it again, plunging the night back into darkness.

Frozen, she stood amazed.

Fear crawled up her spine into her neck and shoulders, grasping her throat with icy fingers.

She spoke, horsely, cleared her throat, and spoke again, “Who’s there!” she demanded, sound far braver than she felt. I demand you answer me, be you of this world or the next!” She took a step forward, the fear leaving her now, “Who goes there?”

The moon came out again, showing the figure, robed in a hooded cloak, a mirror image of herself. The figure stepped towards her, a hand lowering the hood, revealing a face in shadow, but the long wild hair rose up like snakes, writhing around her head.

“I’m sorry,” came a young voice, “I didn’t mean to scare you!”

“Scare Me!?” she laughed, “cHild, I have been scared by better than you!”

They both laughed and gazed at each other in the moonlight; their faces were familiar to each other yet neither said as much.

“I am going to the caves,” the young woman said, “I hear, that on moonlit nights such as this, you will find witches there?”

“Tonight you just might find that’s true.” She replied, as they fell into step together, “But what would one as young as you want with witches and their craft?”

“Ah… that would be telling!” and she turned to the older woman and smiled, just as the moon shone from behind the clouds.

In that moment she knew that face, so young, she knew the girls reason for being here and she knew her own place in it all and for an instant All became clear. The cobwebs fell away from her eyes and she knew… dumbstruck, she turned towards the moon, remembering this night all those years ago, and the conversation that was about to take place.

“You come here to seek out the Old Ones?”

“And their ways, yes”

“What do you know of them?”

“I know they exist. I know you follow their ways.”

“What would you have of me?”

“To teach me this night a little about them.”

“What if I say no?”

“Then I will return again to entreat you.”

By this time they had reached the cave, chosen for it’s shape and form by those that came long before.

Lifting her face to the cliffs above she asked silently that those that had come before guide her

“Then come.
Find from the shore beyond stones of your choice. One for your heart, that it may be true. One for each hand, that you will know the measure of balance. One for each foot, to earth you. One for your chest, a flat one, for the burdens you will have to bear.
When you have done this, return here.”

The girl turned and looked beyond, to the shore the other side of the rocky outcrop.

“It’s not safe to do that now,” she said, “the tide will soon turn and I’ll be cut off from the way back.”

The older woman said nothing… but stared at the girl. Knowing. They eyed each other for a moment.

“Then I can do nothing for you.” Her voice was flat, dull, serious, true.

The girl looked up and down the beach, and then took flight, running as fast as she could, her hair and cloak flying behind her as the older woman watched with a sigh…

To be continued.

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The Wyrd Crooked Path of Fate.

The Norns by H.L.M

Quote: “weird Look up weird at Dictionary.comOld English wyrd (n.) “fate, destiny,” literally “that which comes,” from Proto-Germanic *wurthis (cf. Old Saxon wurd, Old High German wurt “fate,” Old Norse urðr “fate, one of the three Norns”), from PIE *wert- “to turn, wind,” (cf. German werden, Old English weorðan “to become”), from root *wer- (3) “to turn, bend” (see versus). For sense development from “turning” to “becoming,” cf. phrase turn into “become.” Mímer_and_Balder_Consulting_the_Norns_(1821-1822)_by_H._E._Freund
The modern sense of weird developed from Middle English use of weird sisters for the three fates or Norns (in Germanic mythology), the goddesses who controlled human destiny. They were portrayed as odd or frightening in appearance, as in “Macbeth,” which led to the adjectival meaning “odd-looking, uncanny,” first recorded 1815.” Unquote.

Three_Norns_by_Frølich

It is the three Norns, UrðrVerðandi, and Skuld who sit under the branches of  Yggdrasil, the ‘World Tree’ at the Well of Urðr dispensing what we would understand as Fate, or what the Anglo Saxons called Wyrd.

Interestingly similar to the Greek Moirai

All is, it would seem, connected.

A thread running through All, leading one to the same source, along long forgotten (some times remembered) Truths, until one is inspired to see with eyes wide as an innocent child, stumbling across the Truth for the first time.

Yet how many have trod this path before?

Yet how many times has this Soul trod this Path before?

Many speak of UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis) and are quick to dismiss it. Yet when another’s matches one’s own, UPG then becomes verified, and when another and another see the same thread of UPG in the same things, then it become, surely, gnosis and is undeniably a Truth.

There is an old saying: “Births of a feather, flock together”.

In my book, there is no such thing as coincidence. It’s fortunate serendipity; synchronistic events that can be only one thing; a sign/omen/message pointing on in the right direction… and it is one’s wyrd, one’s fate to follow where the fingers of the three Norns or the Three fates point. To deny it, means a great deal of problematic events before one steps on the Crooked Path of one’s Wryd/Fate again. It takes a wise traveller to see the signs and act accordingly, knowing that no matter what, All is as it should be, and the crooked path, with it’s many twists and turns is a fated, weird road to travel.

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Image 1 source.

Image 2 source.

Image 3 source.

 

Oswestry Hill Fort: no, there’s absolutely no misunderstanding!

Cymraes:

So the situation has come to this…

For those of you who don’t know, there are plans to build houses NEAR the ramparts of this important Iron Age fort. Seems like the developers think the locals are some what dim in thinking they were going to build houses on the earthworks/Old Oswestry… Well that’s their stupid assumption – obfuscation of the worst kind.

No one, not even English Heritage, wants a development this close to the site.

Originally posted on The Heritage Journal:

At Oswestry Guildhall a few days ago plans for the proposed housing development near the hill fort were displayed. A Mr Roberts (who is working on some of the plans) said “It’s been a useful day. From our point of view it was about providing information to the various people who weren’t previously party to some of the plans….. I think a number of people in the town have the idea that the hillfort is being developed, but it’s not – it’s land near the foot of the hillfort, not the hillfort itself.”

But hang on, who actually thought that? Don’t the vast majority of Oswestry people know very well the hill fort can’t be built on and that it’s the setting that’s being targeted? It’s not a case of people misunderstanding a harmless proposal. It’s a case of people understanding a damaging one all too well.

Even I knew ! Even I knew…

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When spirits call…. Part two

I visited the site of the Gallows, one windy day in April, armed with nothing but a modicum of psychic protection and my trusty phone to take grainy pictures of the site. At times the wind was so strong the phone was rocked as the winds tried, unsuccessfully, to rip it from my grasp.

If you’ve read part one, you’ll know that summat was up…

At the time, I just blindly carried on.

My visit to the strange little public park where the Gallows were once sited, down at Boughton, not far from Barrel Well Lane and St Paul’s Church was over, but the lane down behind the memorial to Gorge the Martyr called me.

Barrel Well Lane.

Barrel Well Lane.

I’d been reading Roy Wildings, excellent little book, morbidly entitled, ‘Death in Chester’ (recommended to me by Charley of The Mystic Masque). So knew that the lane was on the way to the site of St Giles’s and thought I’d take a gander.

This whole bank of the river Dee has large, impressive houses built on it (except for the site of the Gallows… ) and walking down the lane I could see why it was marked as a private road; many impressive doorways lead off it, into expensive homes. But it was St Paul’s, towering above that was the most impressive!

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Part of St Pauls from Barrel Well Lane.

Part of St Pauls from Barrel Well Lane.

St Paul's from Barrel Well Lane.

St Paul’s from Barrel Well Lane.

I retraced my steps up Barrel Well Lane…

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…noting as I climbed back up to the busy road how my sense of smell had returned to its usual nothingness – as I stopped by the monument to George Marsh, it struck me for the first time, that the sickly sweet scent, with an underlying aroma of death, might not have actually been in the air at all, but come to me through the veil … But I swept that thought aside, convinced I had done enough to stop ‘anything’ getting through that shield I’d put up around me!

Turning right, past the monument, walking on a short distance, I spotted the fork in the roads, mentioned in the book along with the water fountain, Victorian I should imagine and for one short moment I hoped there was water still in it…

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No, it was dry, no doubt caped by Elf n Safety or Environmental Health for unsanitary reasons. Disappointed to say the least, it had occurred to me that a water source here would be an excellent resource – but that was not to be.

Resigned I walked on around the wall, wondering where the graveyard would be. The book gave an indication, but no photos. It turned out I was walking next to it.

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A raised round(!) wall about four or five foot high – a sign perhaps of a pagan site?

St Giles's Graveyard.

St Giles’s Graveyard.

Who knows, but no way in, other than to clamber up the wall, something I didn’t really want to do that day…. On reaching the main road again, I found the wall plague pictured.

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St Giles hospital and Chapel, was founded by Earl Ranulph III of Chester (1181-1232) as a refuge for the lepers of the area. It’s exact site being on the crossroads where the old Roman road forks. Today, the black and white building pictured behind the graveyard, sits on the very site.

Today, only the graveyard remains, the hospital (which gave the area the name Spital) and Chapel being raised to the ground during the Civil War of the 17thC. It was outside of the city walls, and therefore could have been used by the opposing army, so it was destroyed in 1643 as a preventative measure.

So this was the place poor George’s supporters bought his remains. I shuddered at the thought of his death, and hoped there was someone there to put his soul to rest – the wind whistled around me, not as strong as it had been, but though I didn’t want to admit it then, it seemed to say he was not at rest at all… Quite the opposite in fact if my recent dream was anything to go by.

Since then, musing on the events that have followed this visit, I remember a discussion with David Furlong once. A group of us were considering helping a Soul to move on, and the subject had moved onto the faith that Soul had held in life. David explained that they would be in purgatory if that’s were they believed in life, especially if certain rituals, such as the last sacrament, were not performed. I wondered where George had expected his soul to go when he died that fateful day in April 1555… If he was considered a martyr, would the living hold his soul to the place of his death?

I also considered the conversations I’d taken part in on the Traditional Witchcraft group on FB; about a soul, either the first or last person buried in a graveyard becomes the sites guardian… Could George, the Martyr, be one of these restless souls?

There is a local tale, which I read about in Roy’s book, that the street by St Giles’s was cobbled (paved) with the skulls of Welshmen, killed in the Welsh Wars, by a Normal Earl.

Truly, this seemingly innocent spot of Chester, had seen some awful times.

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My ‘visit’ over, I took the opportunity to window shop in a few antique shops along the way, to earth myself, and muse over the events.

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Little did I know how this ‘visit’ was to affect me over the next few days! But I unexpectedly decided to take a few more photos at the Gallows Hill park, but from the road… I think this could have been when ‘something’ followed me home… In retrospect, I could feel it, tagging along until I got to the canal bridge, where I stopped and mentally performed a banishing on the brow, while looking to all and sundry, I was just enjoying the view… Then I moved on (on more than one level) and returned home.

*********

So the situation is ongoing – my research into those that died at that spot continues, and the synchronous events also.

It is worth a mention, as I intend another ‘visit’ and subsequent post about it, that witches have been hanged there. At first, I thought it might have been them who were calling – not poor George. But he was the one who has come through the strongest, and there we are. These things often turn out so very differently to what we hope, or expect!

These witches, were they witches at all? Somehow I doubt it, but it is interesting to note that two of them were from Rainow.

Rainow?!? I hear you cry – well yes, indeed, so what you may think – but if I tell you that Rainow is very close to Thursbitch, then you might indeed understand… If you don’t then read on. For those of you who do, you can skip the next paragraph!

About two years ago I became obsessed with Thursbitch, a short novel by Alan Garner, based around the real life valley (not far from Rainow), the strange events there and the even stranger death of a young man who froze to death on Christmas Eve. A stone marker on the road side marks the spot he was found, and the strange fact that a single footprint made by a woman’s shoe was found in the snow besides him. But it was the valley that entranced me so. I shall leave a link for you to follow the trail yourself, Dear Reader, for it is a fascinating place, that seems even to this day, to be alive … Full, of mystery and mysterious goings on.

So in 1656, three women were hanged as witches. They were found guilty of bewitching a woman to death. Their bodies were cut down and taken to St Mary’s Church, near the Castle, and buried in the ditch there.

(Note, the Shrine of Minerva is across the other side of the river, and Mary, is often revered as a Goddess would have been… all parts of the paper chase)

I doubt their souls are at peace at all, innocent or guilty! But they deserve a few flowers from yours truly, as does George himself.

After living in so many different places, and experiencing so many different levels of spirit communication, I can, with some brevity, say, for certain, this place named Deva, (Goddess) by the Romans who founded it ‘speaks’ nay ‘shouts’ as loudly as the open reaches, and wild places of Orkney…

Now there’s a surprise!

Or is it…?

The whole saga lies under the mantle of the Queen of the Crossroads, Keeper of the Keys, and She who watches over the liminal place between birth and death, Hekate!

She, who is so old, that no definite source for her can be found – heck, even the Greeks knew she was older than the Titans!

My experiences with her, my UPG (unproven personal gnosis), are marked by a particular ‘feeling’ – a sense of Her. Dark, huge, all encompassing! I’ve felt this in various places, of various ages, including a burial chamber on Orkney…

She is older, and far more known, than modern scholars can trace – and as She is mentioned in the Scotish Play, would have been known during the time periods of both George and the three witches, tho’ I doubt George would have paid her much heed, unless she came to him at the moment of his passing in the flames and took his soul as one of her own?

Who knows, but I think there’s work to be done with him in the future.

Exactly what this will entail, I can’t say, knowing how these things rarely turn out as I expect…

George Marsh – Martyr 1515-1555.

The reign of Bloody Mary, (1553-1558) saw many people put to death for their beliefs.

The daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, she came to the throne on 19th July 1553, after her younger half-brother, Edward VI died earlier in that month; it was Lady Jane Grey, who succeed to the throne immediately after the untimely death of the young, sickly Edward – Mary had to fight for her right to rule, but that is another story, and does not concern us here, now. What we need to consider is that Mary, was responsible for plunging the country back into the Catholic faith her Father had done his best to remove, in order for him to rid himself of her Mother, so that he could marry the infamous Ann Boleyn.

To say she had a difficult childhood is somewhat of an understatement!

She came to the throne, determined to reinstate her faith and saw fit to remove any dissenters causing her brief time on the throne to be one of the bloodiest in British history; hence the name by which she will always be known; Bloody Mary.

It was under her rule that the Rev George Marsh, (born 1515 in the parish of Deane,  near Bolton in Lancaster) who was by then a widower with children, was bought to ‘justice’; he was found guilty of heresy – he being a Lutheran kind – a penalty of death by burning at the stake was passed on him in 1554 by the court which sat in the Lady Chapel of Cathedral, the Bishop of Chester, one Dr. Coates, passed the sentence.

George Marsh, heretic, was imprisoned awaiting his death.

On the appointed day, April 24th 1555, said to be a windy day, he was taken in chains to the Gallows Hill by the Sheriffs, just outside the centre of Chester. It is said that on the way, he read his bible and on reaching the stake he turned to the crowd that had gathered only to be told to stop his sermonising. A pardon was offered to him by the Vice-Chamberlin, but only would it be granted if he recant his Protestant faith – off course, he didn’t – George had a reputation for being a firm man, not easily swayed; he had courage.

What happened next, could have come right out of a modern day Hollywood block buster; one of the sheriffs, John Cowper of Overleigh, attempted to rescue George! What exactly happened, is unclear, but the attempt was (sadly) thwarted and Cowper fled – from Chester over the Dee river bridge at Farndon, to Holt in Wales and freedom. As a result, his family were ruined, loosing their lands and there he hid until Bloody Mary died!

Whether George Marsh knew this attempt would take place, we can only speculate – but the failure meant he had to meet his Fate in the flames… it is said the fire could not be lit, and when it was, it kept going out and that the wind came in eddies causing him much suffering – but the flames of that badly made fire, eventually consumed the the spirit and body of George Marsh that windy day in April; he was burnt to ashes, as the Bishop had decreed.

These ashes were gathered up, and taken to nearby St Giles Church near by, where they were buried in the Church yard with no marker…

But Gorge Marsh was not forgotten.

The memorial raised in the 19thC (pictured here) near to the Gallows Hill, reads:

“George Marsh born Dean Co. Lancaster.

To the memory of George Marsh martyr who was burned to death near this spot for the truth sake April 24th 1555.”

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Sources:

Quene Mary. The trouble and Martyrdome of George Marsh, Martyr.

The Elizabeth Files.

George Marsh (martyr)

Fox’s Book of Martyrs

Death in Chester – Roy Widling

When the spirits call……..

When the spirits call, we mere mortals, must answer!

This is how I felt just a few weeks after the move to Deva – and the spirits that called me, called me to a certain place, a place of death most horrible.

For a short, intense while, I became obsessed with the whereabouts of the Gallows Hill!

With thanks to a friend on FB, I bought a book called ‘Death in Chester’ written by a local chap called Roy Wilding. The book confirmed the location, which I had identified myself, using practical methods (Google Earth) to follow up ‘leads’ given to me, cryptically by those spirits. I was not surprised to find that women, accused of Witchcraft, were hanged here…

But the obsession drove me on to discover more about the history of the place, and before I was really ready, I set out on the first pilgrimage.

The day was not a pleasant one; the dark skies threatened rain; the strong wind sent the clouds scuttling along at great speed, and it was cold. Not a day to set out on foot to go looking for a place that screamed ‘you come!’ to me – yet I could not ignore it any longer – I had to go!

I dressed warmly, and put on a good waterproof coat – checked the map, but set it to one side, deciding to answer the Call; spirits would guide me… I knew the way roughly, I walked down the road, turned right and walked towards the city centre. After about a mile, crossed the canal bridge and a little further on I came across a cross roads and thought I knew it – turns out I’d walked in the direction of the Gallows Hill by accident the week before! Coming back from the city, I’d taken a wrong turn, and well, got lost. Seems the spirits wanted me to visit them then, only I’d turned back and found my way home the way I’d come… this told me, my obsession wasn’t just my imagination.

I pressed on, along the busy road; a dual carriageway – no place to cross; and so busy!

Then the hairs on the back of my neck stood up; without warning, there was no traffic – I could cross… and did so… coming to the public ‘park’ that is the site of the Gallows!

I paused… too easy – I’d found it far too easy.

Or it had found me…

I earthed myself; becoming aware of modernity around me; the traffic – the houses – the people – the wind – the sky – the ground beneath me. I stepped into the Now; all present and paying attention!

This was important, I knew from experiences past, to shut out, completely, anything trying to make contact with me – there would be time enough for that in the future, so I did what I do to be totally unconnected.

I cut off my psychic senses.

I cocooned myself; silence; unemotional; stillness filled my cocoon, and I descended the steps into the awful place, totally on my own and able to evaluate the place with out disturbance!

I went down the steps into what I can only say is a place were the council have tried… they’ve tried to make it a nice place… after all the views are spectacular! But there were no benches for anyone to sit and enjoy it. No wonder, I thought – in my well (or so I thought) protected cocoon, who would want to linger here?

So I stood for a while gazing out, watching boats row up and down the river, feeling safe, and allowing my mind to wander…

The view from the Gallows Hill, Deva.

The view from the Gallows Hill, Deva.

I even took photo’s…

The view across the fields f

The view across the fields.

I even mused that this view could have been (quite possibly) the last thing many people saw…

The view along the river towards Handbridge, where the Shrine of Minerva is.

The view along the river towards Handbridge, where the Shrine of Minerva is.

But what was that smell… it came on the wind, in waves, a sickly sweet smell, with a tinge of something behind it – could it be those spring bulbs? On such a windy day? Or the cherry blossom? Or… something else…

Unawares, caught up in a mixture of sight and smell, distracted and opened, a rush of a sensation over took me…

I galloped in thin air, twisting and turning, eye’s bulging, gasping for air but none came; I danced the hang-mans gig as my ears burst…

The smell filled my head – the smell of death masked by flowers.

Shaken, I left quickly – now aware of a mist over the place, at the top of the steps I quickly ‘opened’ my senses and set up a barrier betwix me and the place.

Fire – the mist, I sensed, was a code for fire – I’d seen it before many times; in burnt ruins; in a burnt out church, deep in Wales, in the roof of the rebuilt building; mist… meant there had been burning here too.

That’s when I saw the obelisk…

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*Real Time Note: Now I know who this is dedicated to, but, in order to ‘get the facts right’ I’ve just gone along to Wiki for a link, incase you, Dear Reader, wish to case these facts up further… imagine my surprise when I read this… remembering this event is chronicled in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs… I quote: “George Marsh was executed on a windy day in April 1555….”

I was there on a windy day in April. 

I am STUNNED by this – so much so I have to go away and think about the implications – the message given and how I can apply it to my praxis – I was going to go on and write about poor George, the Christian Martyr, burnt at the stake by Bloody Mary (Mary I, catholic Queen of England, daughter of Henry VIII and Catharine of Aragon) for sticking to his guns, but I am absolutely bowled over by this…

There will have to be a part two!

Witchy Hints and Tips: onions.

Red onion slices

Red onion slices (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you’ve had an argument or a disagreement in your home, which created an atmosphere you could cut with a knife (or something similar) – go to your kitchen and find a nice onion, the Spanish type, and cut it in half  - then place in the room with the atmosphere to absorb the residue of the argument, preferably overnight. Then burn on the fire. Or if you don’t have one dispose of it so it’s off your property i.e. don’t compost it.

I’ve done this for years, and with good results too. I’ve also used it if there’s a strange ‘air’ in a room, as a preventative measure for anything brewing…

At times, when ‘things’ have been very bad, an onion string has either been made, or bought and hung in the kitchen – the ‘heart’ of the home. Again this is preventative.

A string of garlic seems to work in the same vein, tho’ cutting a bulb in half does create a rather pungent aroma!

So next time you have a barny in your home, remember the onion isn’t just for eating!