Friday, 26 May 2017

Seriously Monstrous: Dragons - More Than a Myth?


At Seriously Monstrous - a one-day conference on cryptozoology - last weekend, one of the talks was Dragons - More Than a Myth by Richard Freeman.

Richard Freeman (pictured right) is a full time cryptozoologist - which means he is an expert on monsters and fabulous beasts (and often where to find them). The former zookeeper is also the author of Dragons; More Than A Myth? and Explore Dragons, so he really knows what he is talking about. Here are the notes I took during his lecture:

Dragons are the grandfather of all monsters. They are in the most ancient legends of the human race and can be traced by folklorists to Africa, before our ancestors left that continent.

As Richard said: "The dragon has his claws deep in the psyche of humanity and is not about to let go."

Western dragons 
The western dragon is a reptile with four legs and breathes fire. They are gods or the enemies of gods in early tales and are only later depicted as being mortal creatures. In western myths and legends they are usually evil and often have special powers.

Wyverns are similar to dragons but have two legs, are smaller and less smart. The wyrm is also common in tales across Europe and Scandinavia. It is limbless, spits poison and, if cut up, the pieces rejoin.

The basilisk is another similar fabulous beast. It is supposedly hatched from a cockerel's egg and incubated by a toad or snake. Looking in a basilisk's eye meant death. It was defeated by showing it its own reflection - or the sound of a cockerel crowing at dawn. A bit like a basilisk, the cockatrice looks birdlike and has a deadly gaze.

Eastern dragons
In the Orient dragons are associated with water rather than fire. Chinese dragons have four legs. They do breathe fire, but it condenses and turns to rain. They are usually benevolent. They start life as snakes, but grow enormous over centuries, also growing wings.

The katsu is a Japanese dragon. It has three claws and grows more quickly. It is generally benevolent. The naga is from Asia. In India the naga is depicted as half human, but originally nagas were giant serpents.

The Persian dragon is a hybrid of eastern and western types. It looks eastern, but breathes fire and is evil.

What lies behind tales of dragons
In China, dragons are said to shed their bones as well as thier skin - although, of course, what are found are dinosaur bones. These bones were thought to have magical and medical powers.

However, there are stories of people interacting with dragons, which is odd if the dinosaurs died out before humans evolved and if all humans ever found were bones.

What living animal could have inspired tales of dragons?

The salt water crocodile is the biggest living reptile. So, colossal crocodiles could be the answer. They kill large animals. Coins are thrown to appease crocodiles in some cultures, which could explains stories of dragons' hordes of gold.

The largest known lizard is the Komodo dragon. It is venomous and gives a festering bite then waits for its prey to die.

These had prehistoric ancestors that were much larger and there are still stories of giant lizards being sighted. In New Guinea there are stories of fire-breathing giant lizards in modern times, although the fire is actually their red tongues. However, they are still very large.

The reticulated python is huge - a 33ft long python was recorded in the 1930s. Another giant snake is the green anaconda. It is much bulkier than the python. Giant reptiles today are all tropical, but some could perhaps have been brought to the west in menageries.

A book in the 1970s called The Flight of Dragons suggested ancient reptiles might have been like derigibles filled with hydrogen and could have breathed fire.

The Global Monster Template
This is the idea that there is a template of monsters in the human psyche, because similar monsters are found in tales all over the world. The global monster template includes fairy folk, demonic dogs, phantom cats and the king of all monsters - dragons.

The templates are distorted analogues of what preyed upon or competed with the ancestors of homo sapiens - big crocodiles and other giant animals. So, we have fears deep in our psyche.

But, there could be more to it than just resurfacing fears. The Tibetans believe in tulpas - artificial ghosts. People can create visible tulpas from their thoughts. Maybe our minds are creating tulpas of ancient fears, such as monsters. Another theory put forward by some is that dragons could be creatures from another dimension.

Seriously Monstrous was organised by Assap at Holiday Inn Bristol City Centre on Sunday 21 May.


Pictures credits: Dragon in an exhibition at the Horniman Museum (Lucya Starza), Richard Freeman (Lucya Starza), Oriental dragon at the Lantern Festival (Lucya Starza), Nile crocodile (Norbert Nagel), book cover, image from 'John Chinaman' (British Library)

Links and previous related posts
Assap: http://www.assap.ac.uk/
Dragons of London: http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2010/04/dragons-of-london.html
Ru-Shou: http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2009/09/ru-shou-god-of-week.html
Dragon Hill: http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2016/04/days-out-st-georges-day-and-dragon-hill.html
On Monsters - A History of Our Fears: http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2010/01/review-on-monsters-history-of-our-fears.html

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Pagan Eye: Magical Plant in Oxford's Botanical Garden


Back in August 2012 I was sent a picture of a two plants in Oxford Botanical Gardens, both were next to a label that said "Mandragora (mandrake)", but the plants were not the same. I posted it on my blog as a pagan eye post, but it caused some discussion as to what the largest plant in the picture actually was.

Allen Tsang, who reads my blog, also visited the gardens and photographed the larger plant himself. He recently sent me his photo, which you can see above. After a bit of discussion and some research, Allen and I agreed that the plant with the spiky seed pods in his photo - and the large plant in the first picture - was probably datura.

Datura - sometimes called thorn apple - is poisonous, but also has a reputation as a very magical plant once used in witches' flying ointments. In the book Herbs of the Sun, Moon and Planets, author Steve Andrews (also of Britain's Got Talent fame) says:
Thorn Apple is ruled by Jupiter possibly because of its expansive qualities. The plant distributes itself across patches of ground very readily by self-seeding. If consumed internally, Thorn Apple is a very dangerous hallucinogen that can cause visions of other places in a vastly altered reality. An individual intoxicated by this herb may experience seeing people they know or being in familiar locations. It creates a dream world that is experienced as being as real as this world. This ability to move a person affected by the alkaloid drugs in Thorn Apple out of where their physical body is, so that they believe themselves to be elsewhere, is another quality of Jupiter. Thorn Apple was an ingredient in flying ointments used by witches. It contains the dangerous substances atropine and hyoscyamine and scopolamine.
On each Pagan Eye post, I show a photo that I find interesting, with a few words about it. I'm not quite sure what I'll be including - it could be a seasonal image, a pagan site, an event, or just a pretty picture.

If you want to send me a photo for a Pagan Eye post, please email it to badwitch1234@gmail.com Let me know what the photo shows and whether you want your name mentioned or not. For copyright reasons, the photo must be one you have taken yourself and you must confirm that you are submitting it for A Bad Witch's Blog.

The photo on this page is copyright Allen Tsang. Do not copy or download it without permission.

Link and previous post
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2012/08/pagan-eye-magical-mandrake-or-mandragora.html
Herbs of the Sun, Moon and Planets
https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/3618214/britains-got-talent-star-steven-andrews-is-a-wacky-wizard-who-grows-mind-altering-drugs-at-home-to-boost-sex-life/

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

This Week's Pagan Events In and Near London


Here are events in London plus a few in other parts of England over the couple of weeks that could be of interest to pagans. If you know of an event that you want listed, please email the details to me at badwitch1234@gmail.com.

Now to 30 September; Austin Osman Spare exhibition at the Last Tuesday Society. Venue: Viktor Wynd's Museum of Curiosities, 11 Mare Street, London E8 4RP. http://www.thelasttuesdaysociety.org/

Now to the end of 2017; Poppets, Pins and Power - an exhibition on the craft of cursing at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, Boscastle, Cornwall. http://museumofwitchcraftandmagic.co.uk/

Wednesday 24 May; Stillness and Meditation at Mandeville Place. Venue: School of Economic Science, 11-13 Mandeville Place, London. Free lunchtime event starting 1pm. https://www.meetup.com/Light-in-London/

Wednesday 24 May; Let's Meditate - group meditation. Venue: Buddha on a Bicycle, Covent Garden, London. Starts 6pm. Donations of £3 recommended. Details: http://www.meetup.com/meditation-trust-london/

Thursday 25 May; Insights From the Masters. Talk and book signing with Fiona Odgren. Venue: Watkins Books, 19-21 Cecil Court, London WC2N 4EZ. Time: 6.30pm. Free event. For more details Tel 020 7836 2182 or visit the website http://www.watkinsbooks.com/

Thursday 25 May; Wicca New Moon: Gaia-Selene Circle (monthly, outdoor circle) with London Woodland Witches Magicians and Outdoor Pagans. Venue: Outdoor location Queen's Woods, Highgate. North London. Meet at The Woodmans' pub garden by 7pm then go to the woods. Cost: £3 You must reserve a place in advance. Wear outdoor clothes and bring a blanket to sit on. Details and bookings: https://www.meetup.com/London-Woodland-Witches-Outdoor-Pagans/

Thursday 25 May; The Druid Order Open Meeting. Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 7.30pm. Entry £5. http://druidorder.macmate.me/meetings.html

Thursday 25 May; Sacred Circle of Sisterhood - New Moon Circle for Women with Behind The Veil - Shamanism. Venue: The Hall, St Philips Church, Earls Court Road, London W8 6QH. Time: 7.30pm. Price: £25. https://www.meetup.com/Behind-The-Veil-Shamanism/

Thursday 25 May; Camlet Moat and the Crouch End Spriggan. Talk by Jason Hollis, author of Haunted Enfield. Hosted by London Fortean Society. Venue: The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX. Time: 7.45pm. Tickets: £4.40/£2.20. https://www.wegottickets.com/event/395429

Friday 26 May; British Museum talk on British Witchcraft part 1 with the London Wicca Meetup Group. Venue: The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG, Time: 7pm. Details and reservations: https://www.meetup.com/The-London-Wicca-Meetup-Group/

Friday 26 May; The Knights of the Round Table. Lecture by Edwin Courtenay at the College of Psychic Studies, 16 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2EB. Time: 7pm. Cost: £14/£12. Advance booking recommended. For details call: 020 7589 3292 or visit https://www.collegeofpsychicstudies.co.uk/

Friday 26 May; Lore and Belief in the Case of the Talking Mongoose. Lecture by Chris Josiffe. Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 7.30pm. Ticket price £8. Tel: 0207 419 8507 or email: info@treadwells-london.com http://www.treadwells-london.com/

Friday 26 May; Imagination, and the Plant Archetype. Lecture by David Lowe. Lecture at Rudolf Steiner House, 35, Park Road, London, NW1 6XT. Time: 7.30pm. Entry £5/£3. http://www.rsh.anth.org.uk/

Saturday 27 May;  The Tale of Thor's Wedding - Storytelling for children from Norse myths organised by the Museum of London. Venue: Museum of London, 150 London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN. Time: Several 30-min sessions during the afternoon, starting at 1pm. http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london

Saturday 27 May; Occult Energy in Embodied Magic. Afternoon Workshop with Dave Lee. Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 1pm-5.30pm. Ticket price £40. Tel: 0207 419 8507 or email: info@treadwells-london.com http://www.treadwells-london.com/

Sunday 28 May; Meditation at Russell Brands Trew Era Cafe, 30 Whitmore Road, London N1 5QA. Starts 10.15am. Free event. https://www.meetup.com/meditation-trust-london/

Sunday 28 May; Edible Trees - Foraging in the Woods. Hosted by Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. Venue: Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, The Soanes Centre, Southern Grove, London E3 4PX. Time: 1.30pm - 4.30pm. Tickets: £15/£18. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/edible-trees-foraging-in-the-woods-tickets-33399828787

Sunday 28 May; The Kith of The Tree and The Well heathen moot. Venue: The Horseshoe Inn, 26 Melior Street, London SE1 3QP. Time: 2pm. https://www.facebook.com/events/799739386857817/

Sunday 28 May; The Ageless Wisdom For Everyone. Venue: The Theosophical Society, 50 Gloucester Place London, W1U 8EA. Time: 2pm. Entry: Donations welcome. https://www.meetup.com/Theosophical-Society-in-London/

Sunday 28 May; Spring into Yin with Lisa Hood. Music and meditation. Venue: She's Lost Control, 42 Valentine Rd, London E9 7AD. Time: 4.30pm. Tickets: £18. http://www.sheslostcontrol.co.uk/

Sunday 28 May; Haunted Deptford Night Walk. Venue: Secret location in Deptford. Time: 9pm. Price: £10. For details email vanessa@londondreamtime.com or visit http://londondreamtime.com/calendar/ Buy tickets here:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/haunted-deptford-night-walk-tickets-33357662667

Tuesday 30 May; Moonlight Goddess Gathering - monthly event organised by Anoushka through Funzing. Venue: Clifton Gardens, London, W9 1DT. Time: 7.15pm. Tickets: £20. Details and bookings: http://uk.funzing.com/funz/2940?

Tuesday 30 May; Chertsey Moot. A social moot held on the last Tuesday of the month at the Golden Grove pub, Ruxbury Road, St Annes Hill, Chertsey, Surrey, KT16 9EN. All welcome. From 8pm to 11pm. For more details, email: sian_ap_pysgotwr@yahoo.co.uk

Wednesday 31 May; Stillness and Meditation at Mandeville Place. Venue: School of Economic Science, 11-13 Mandeville Place, London. Free lunchtime event starting 1pm. https://www.meetup.com/Light-in-London/

Wednesday 31 May; Let's Meditate - group meditation. Venue: Buddha on a Bicycle, Covent Garden, London. Starts 6pm. Donations of £3 recommended. Details: http://www.meetup.com/meditation-trust-london/

Wednesday 31 May; Multi-Dimensional Healing with the Spirit Doctor Team. Lecture by Susan Gash at the College of Psychic Studies, 16 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2EB. Time: 7pm. Cost: £14/£12. Advance booking recommended. Call: 020 7589 3292 or visit https://www.collegeofpsychicstudies.co.uk/

Wednesday 31 May; Hertford Pagan Moot. Venue: White Horse Pub, 33 Castle Street, Hertford, Herts SG14 1HH (45 mins from central London). The pub does not have disabled access. This moot meets on the last Wednesday of each month at 8pm. contact via Facebook page Hertford Pagan Moot.

Thursday 1 June; What is Post-Traumatic Growth? Talk and book signing with Miriam Akhtar. Venue: Watkins Books, 19-21 Cecil Court, London WC2N 4EZ. Time: 6.30pm. Free event. For more details Tel 020 7836 2182 or visit the website http://www.watkinsbooks.com/

Thursday 1 June; Bringing Psi and Science Together. SPR lecture by Sean O'Donnell. Venue: Society for Psychical Research, 1 Vernon Mews, London W14 0RL. Time: 7pm. Members free, nonmembers £5. https://www.spr.ac.uk/

Thursday 1 June; An Invitation to study the Ancient Mysteries! Hosted by London Wellness Meetup. Venue: Henry the 8th Hotel, 23 Leinster Gardens, London. Time: 7pm. Free admission. https://www.meetup.com/London-Spiritual-Classes-and-Workshops/

Thursday 1 June; The Magical Life of Charles Leland,  the Witches' Folklorist. Lecture by Jonah Locksley. Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 7.30pm. Ticket price £8. Tel: 0207 419 8507 or email: info@treadwells-london.com http://www.treadwells-london.com/

Friday 2 June; Gallery Talk - The Parthenon sculptures. Venue: Room 18, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Time: 1.15pm. Free, just turn up. For more details visit: https://www.britishmuseum.org/

Friday 2 June; Energy Work for the Body. Talk by David Manning at the College of Psychic Studies, 16 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2EB. Time: 7pm. Cost: £14/£12. Advance booking recommended. For details call: 020 7589 3292 or visit https://www.collegeofpsychicstudies.co.uk/

Saturday 3 June; Tarot Development morning. (All levels). Event with the Tarot and Healing Group. Venue: The Manor House, 129 Wanstead High Street, E11 2RL. Time: 10.15am. Tickets £8, advance reservation necessary. https://www.meetup.com/Tarot-and-Healing-Group/

Saturday 3 June; Workshop - Discover the Goddess of the Silver Moon Diana, through her rituals, mantras and sacred prayers. Venue: Wicca Moon, 50 Well Hall Rd, London, SE9 6SH. Tickets: £20 advance tickets, £39.99 on the door. Time: 11am-5pm. For details or to book a place email shirlee@wiccamoon.org.uk or call 020 8850 7803.

Saturday 3 June; Tarot and Magic: A one-day masterclass with David Goddard at Atlantis Bookshop. Venue: The Atlantis Bookshop, 49a Museum Street, London, WC1A 1LY. Time: 11am-5pm. Tickets: £45. Tel: 020 7405 2120 or email atlantis@theatlantisbookshop.com.

Sunday 4 June; North West Kent Green Pagan Circle Moot. Venue: Chislehurst Caves, Bromley, BR7 5NL. Time: 10am-noon. https://www.facebook.com/events/296838697408844/permalink/299021030523944/

Sunday 4 June; Meditation at Russell Brands Trew Era Cafe, 30 Whitmore Road, London N1 5QA. Starts 10.15am. Free event. Details: https://www.meetup.com/meditation-trust-london/

Sunday 4 June; The British Museum and the Awakening of English Magic. Walking Tour with Caroline Wise organised by Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 10.30am - 1.30pm. Ticket price £15. Tel: 0207 419 8507 or email: info@treadwells-london.com http://www.treadwells-london.com/

Sunday 4 June; Poison in the Wood - Deadly Plants. Guided walk hosted by Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. Venue: Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, The Soanes Centre, Southern Grove, London E3 4PX. Time: 4.30pm. Tickets: £10/£12. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/poison-in-the-wood-deadly-plants-tickets-33404068468


Monday 5 June; Radicals: Individuals, groups and movements rejecting the way we live now, and attempting to find alternatives. Talk by Jamie Bartlett. Part of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit Invited Speaker Series at Goldsmiths. Venue: Room LG01, Prof Stuart Hall Bulding, Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross, London SE14 6NW. Time: 6.10pm. Free entry, no need to book. Details: http://www.goldsmiths.ac.uk/apru/speakers

Monday 5 June; Dreaming through Darkness. Talk by Charlie Morley organised by Alternatives. Venue: St James's Church, 197 Piccadilly, W1J 9LL, Talk starts: 7pm. Tickets £10/£8 online. For more details and to book tickets http://www.alternatives.org.uk/

Monday 5 June; Lunar Ladies: the Moon Goddess in Western Art. Lecture by  Fleur Shearman. Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 7.30pm. Ticket price £8. Tel: 0207 419 8507 or email: info@treadwells-london.com http://www.treadwells-london.com/

Tuesday 6 June; Fine Tune Your Intention - with the Power of Tarot. Talk by Avril Price at the College of Psychic Studies, 16 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2EB. Time: 7pm. Cost: £14/£12. Advance booking recommended. Call: 020 7589 3292 or visit https://www.collegeofpsychicstudies.co.uk/

Tuesday 6 June; Gef the Talking Mongoose. Talk by Christopher Josiffe and Chris Hill at London Fortean Society. Venue: Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL. Tickets £6.08 online. Time: 7.30pm. Details: https://www.facebook.com/LondonForteanSociety/  Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/gef-the-talking-mongoose-tickets-33398544947

Tuesday 6 June; (date tbc); Enfield Town Circle Pagan Moot. Venue: Crown and Horseshoes pub, 15 Horseshoe Lane, Enfield, Middlesex EN2 6PZ. Time: 7.30pm. For more details join the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EnfieldTownCircle/

Tuesday 6 June; Witches' Inn Gathering. Venue: Red Lion, 48 Linkfield Lane, Redhill, RH1 1DP. Starts at 8pm. Moots are the first Tuesday of each month. For more details visit: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Witches-Inn/1568424150049437

Wednesday 7 June; Shift into Freedom. Talk and book signing with Loch Kelly. Venue: Watkins Books, 19-21 Cecil Court, London WC2N 4EZ. Time: 6.30pm. Free event. For more details Tel 020 7836 2182 or visit the website http://www.watkinsbooks.com/

Wednesday 7 June; Vulnerability and Power in the Shaman’s World. Talk by Ya’Acov Darling Khan organised by Alternatives. Venue: Regent's University, Inner Circle, Regents Park, London NW1 4NS,  Time: 7pm. Tickets £20/£25. http://www.alternatives.org.uk/

Thursday 8 June; The Magic of Medicine: Faith and Healing - A History: Walking Tour by Discover Medical London / Royal College of Physicians Museum. Time: 2pm-4pm. Tickets £10. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-magic-of-medicine-faith-and-healing-a-history-walking-tour-tickets-33434428275?aff=es2

Thursday 8 June. Talk at Folklore Society (SELFS). Venue: The Old King's Head, Kings Head Yard, 45-49 Borough High St, London SE1 1NA. Entry: £3/£1.50 concessions. Time: 8pm. (Meetings are normally the second Thursday of each month.) http://www.selfs.org.uk/ To guarantee a seat, email nigelofbermondsey@gmail.com

Friday 9 June; Earthstars Group Meeting. From Sickle to Cyberspace: thoughts on contemporary Druidry. Talk by Penny Billington. Venue: Rudolf Steiner House, 35 Park Rd, London NW1 6XT. Time: doors open 7pm, talk at 7.30pm. Entry £12.  https://www.facebook.com/Earthstars-Sacred-Space-104790729559515/

Friday 9 June; Oasis of Sound - Sound Bath and Mantra with Anne Malone. Organised by the Oasis of Sound Meetup Group. Venue: The Life Centre Islington, Brittania Row, London. Tickets £15. Time: 7.30pm. Details: https://www.meetup.com/Oasis-of-Sound-Sound-Bath-n-Sound-Scape/

Friday 9 June; Witchcraft Documentaries of the 1970s. Lecture by Gary Parsons. Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 7.30pm. Ticket price £10. Tel: 0207 419 8507 or email: info@treadwells-london.com http://www.treadwells-london.com/

Saturday, 10 June; Upminster Sanctuary Open Day with free mini treatments. Venue: The Upminster Complementary Healing and Teaching Sanctuary, Pea Lane, Upminster, Havering, RM142XH. Time: 11am-4pm. https://www.facebook.com/events/414554278926428/

Saturday, 10 June; Crossed Palms Psychic Fayre hosted by Crossed Palms. Stalls, readers, talks and workshops. This is an event run in tandem with The Witches Inn. Venue: Brooklyn Bar and Billiards, 9 Queensway, Redhill, RH1 1QT. Time: Noon - 5pm. Free admission. Details: https://www.facebook.com/events/832653606897734/

Saturday, 10 June; Scrying by Candlelight - afternoon workshop on crystal ball reading, mirror and water divination with me, Lucya Starza. I am also the author of the book Pagan Portals: Candle Magic. Venue: The Atlantis Bookshop, 49A Museum St, London WC1A 1LY. The shop is near the British Museum. The workshop runs from 2pm to 5pm, with a break for refreshments in the middle. The cost is £20 per person. All materials, as well as tea, coffee and biccies, are included. To book a place, email atlantis@theatlantisbookshop.com, phone 020 7405 2120 or pop in to the shop.

Sunday 11 June; Meditation at Russell Brands Trew Era Cafe, 30 Whitmore Road, London N1 5QA. Starts 10.15am. Free event. Details: https://www.meetup.com/meditation-trust-london/

Sunday 11 June; Discovering the Tarot (The Mythic Tarot deck). Event with the Tarot and Healing Group. Venue: The Crosse Keys, 9 Gracechurch Street, London. Time: 12.30pm-4pm. Tickets £8, advance reservation necessary. https://www.meetup.com/Tarot-and-Healing-Group/

Note: I am not responsible for any of these events except my Scrying by Candlelight workshop. Although I try to make sure my events listing is accurate, please check with the organisers of any event you want to go to before turning up.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Pagan Eye: Green Man Street Art in Hastings


This photo of a green man in street art in Hastings was sent to me by Mel.

I'm very happy to be sent pictures to put on my blog, especially for my Pagan Eye posts, which show photos of seasonal images, pagan sites, events, or just pretty pictures.

If you want to send me a photo for a Pagan Eye post, please email it to badwitch1234@gmail.com Let me know what the photo shows and whether you want your name mentioned or not. For copyright reasons, the photo must be one you have taken yourself.

Links and previous related posts
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2015/10/street-art-death-and-life-for-samhain.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2015/05/street-art-beautiful-green-eyed-goddess.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2016/07/hunting-green-men-of-salisbury-cathedral.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2012/07/pagan-eye-wicker-man.html

Monday, 22 May 2017

Mogg Morgan: Apophis & the Mother of all Curses

I took notes during the talks at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic’s conference on cursing earlier this month. I’ve finally found a bit of time to go through them and I’m going to summarise a few for my blog. Here is a precis of the first talk of the event - Mogg Morgan speaking about Apophis and the Mother of all Curses:

Most of the magic in the world comes from Egypt – including curses. With the subject of the conference focusing on poppets as an important aspect of cursing, we have archaeological evidence of wax dolls used as curse images in Ancient Egypt. Other examples from the classical world are lead figures in coffins. The hands are tied on some and some have exaggerated genitals.

The Egyptian deity Apophis (also called Apep) was ‘the great nasty’ - the mother of all curses and also the mother of cursing techniques. It was normal to show Apep small, but he was actually a large snake. One technique of magic is to make things smaller – reduce them in size – because small things can’t be scary. Even in contemporary politics, making a small satirical image of leaders reduces their power.

Talking about something and naming it makes it powerful, but in Egyptian magic, mutilating the name took power away from it. One image depicted Apep with a flint knife cutting off a bit of a hieroglyph to reduce its power. Mutilation of images reduces its power and this continues in Coptic world and elsewhere.

Apep is a demonic energy. (Mogg said he wouldn’t call Apep a god as that is uncertain). Is there absolute evil? Or is it relative? Normally in ancient mythology, it is relative, but Apep bends that rule of ancient world as Apep represents absolute evil.

Image magic
It is possible to argue that the origins of magic relates to activity against Apep, the serpent of chaos.

Heka is the name of magic, to make magic, to replicate images. That is a good definition of magic. Pagans are very into images, it is definitive of paganism. In the Christian 10 commandments, the third commandment is, ‘Make no graven images.’ This was intended for Christians to distance themselves from Egyptians, who used a lot of images.

Circles and enclosures
One quality of defining magic - and cursing - is enclosing things. This could be seen like the magic circle in modern times. A temple does that, and building a square is more primeval than building a circle. The first thing the gods do when brought back to life in Egyptian myth is make a four-square building.

A cartouche is the drawing of a circle around a name to protect them. Or one can draw a circle around a building to protect it.

Spitting, licking and swallowing
These are archaic magical techniques. To spit upon something is easily understandable as magic and spitting on an image, for example, is a powerful action.

Binding and knots
These are ancient forms of magic from Egypt. In the Koran, the magician or exorcist is the blower of knots, to unravel them

The evil eye
One Egyptian image shows a wax ball being beaten. It represented the evil eye or ‘biting eye’, which is associated with snakes that were said to hypnotise victims. Beating a wax ball is magic to deflect the evil eye.

Apophis was thought to be dangerous to the Sun God Ra and the other gods because he has power of evil eye. Only one god can withstand it and that is Set. He is not affected by power of evil eye, perhaps because he has something in common with that power. Another rule of magic is to fight like with like.

One image shows Set with a hawk head and spear overcoming Apep. This is the origin of the image of St George defeating the Dragon, although it shows Set overcoming Apep.

Few people could read in the Ancient Egyptian world so books had pictures in. For example, in The Book of the Dead you just need the picture images to see what will happen in the afterlife.One picture from the book shows the Sun God Ra just before dawn (the most dangerous moment) with a huge snake below being speared by Set.

But Apophis is never actually killed. If you kill the devil you have to invent them again! Where else would you channel your anger? You would have to project it onto something or someone else, or a group of people. Apophis is about non-existence.

Colossal serpents exist in most mythology. There is Leviathan from Canaanite myth for example.
In the first societal breakdown after Old Kingdom in Egypt, there was some sceptical writing – saying that the building of the pyramids was a waste of time as people did not come back from dead.
It was a bad time in which rival warlords were trying to kill each other. This is the first time Apep (or Apophis) is mentioned. Magic itself developed in this period for protection and had a primacy it never had before.

A huge Egyptian book is called The Book of Overthrowing Apep. In the temples they cursed Apep every day. The technique uses a wax image of Apep to be spat upon. Wax was important, because when it is finally destroyed there is nothing left. If there is anything left, the bad thing will come back
The image was spat upon at several times throughout the day, then placed in the fire and trampled in the dirt. The words: “Fire be upon you Apep,” were repeated four times.

Apep has no temples we know of, but could be the remnant of an archaic serpent cult.
Mogg again framed the question as to whether Apep represented absolute evil or or whether things are still relative. He summed up by saying that his name emerges in time of hardship when Egyptians resorted to magic to protect themselves and possibly even invented magic at that time.

He said: “Egyptian religion essentially is magic.”

The photo at the top shows Mogg Morgan at the conference, the other two pictures are public domain images of Apep/Apophis.

Links and previous related posts
http://museumofwitchcraftandmagic.co.uk/
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2017/05/a-weekend-of-cursing-at-museum-of.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2017/05/pagan-eye-dolls-from-poppets-pins-power.html