Thursday, 27 April 2017

Underneath it all, we are all caring people

Something last night reminded me that people are wonderful. I was on the tube train coming home from a book launch party. (I might have had a little drinky or two.) The train jolted suddenly and I nearly fell right over, flat on my face.

Except that all the people around me reached out and caught me. So I didn't fall.

Yes, I felt a bit embarrassed, but also overwhelmed at how instinctively nice people are. Maybe social media sometimes makes us feel argumentative with each other, but underneath it all, we would all, instinctively, try to catch someone if we saw them falling.

Pagan Eye: Witch Blogger Party Cocktail Cauldron

Yesterday evening I was invited to a Witch Blogger party at the Hay House office in London's Notting Hill. The special witchy blogger social evening was timed to take place just before the launch of Lisa Lister’s new book Witch: Unleashed, Untamed. Unapologetic.

Lisa led a lovely witchy ceremony to start the evening, and then everyone enjoyed punch from the cauldron and some delicious food and had a chance to chat with the Hay House staff and authors as well as bloggers and other creative people. I was given a copy of Lisa's book in a goody bag, which I am looking forward to reading and will review on my blog.

The picture shows the cocktail cauldron, Lisa's book and some of the divination cards she has created. And I know that at the next party I have, I want a cocktail cauldron too - maybe full of midnight margaritas!

On each of my Pagan Eye posts, I show a photo that I find interesting, with a few words about it.
If you want to send me a photo for a Pagan Eye post, please email it to 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.

Links and previous related posts

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Pagan Events for Beltane in London & the UK

There are loads of wonderful events taking place all over the UK to celebrate May Day, or Beltane, in traditional and pagan ways. Here are some of the things going on over the next week or so - mostly in London, because that's where I am based, but some in other parts of the UK including the famous Edinburgh Beltane Fire Festival, Rochester Sweeps and the Hastings Jack-in-the-Green Festival.

Now - 30 April; Exhibition of Dr. Cagliostro's Cabinet of Curiosities. Venue: The Atlantis Bookshop, 49a Museum Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1A 1LY. Exhibition is free to view during shop opening times, Monday to Saturday from 10.30am-6pm. Telephone: 020 7405 2120. Website:

Wednesday 26 April; Let's Meditate - group meditation. Venue: Buddha on a Bicycle, Covent Garden, London. Starts 6pm. Donations of £3 recommended. Details:

Wednesday 26 April; The Secret Garden Sharing Circle - women only. Location in Little Venice. Cost £15. Time: 7.15pm. You must be a member of the Goddess Space meetup group and reserve a place in advance.

Wednesday 26 April; 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 27 April; Meetup with Jo Dunbar, author of Spirit of the Hedgerow, to talk about Medical and Spiritual Properties of Common Hedgerow Plants. 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

Thursday 27 April; Evolution, Involution and Revolution. Talk hosted by Gnosis London. Venue: Rudolf Steiner House, 35 Park Road, London NW1. Time: 7pm. Details:

Thursday 27 April; PF-London Beltane Open Ritual with Woodland Witches. Venue: Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn London. Time: 7.30pm for 8pm start. Ritual ends around 9pm followed by feasting until 10pm. Entrance: £6/£5 PF members. Please bring seasonal food and drinks to share at feast after ritual. For more details, visit or

Thursday 27 April; Living with Ghosts - talk by geographer Dr Caron Lipman at London Fortean Society. Venue: The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London, E1 7EX. Tickets £4/£2 plus online booking fee. Time: 7.45pm. Details:

Friday 28 April - 1 May; Hastings Jack-in-the-Green Festival - traditional annual event to celebrate May with music, a procession, Morris Dancing, a May Queen and Jack-in-the-Green. Full four-day festival programme culminating on Bank Holiday Monday with the Jack in the Green parade itself. For full details visit the festival website:

Friday 28 April - 1 May; Beltane Fire Festival hosted by Intothewild. Venue: Coombe Wood, Broomlands, Cowden, TN8 7EA. Details and tickets:

Friday 28 April - 1 May; Mind Body Spirit London Wellbeing Festival. Venue: London Olympia, Hammersmith Road, London W14 8UX. Standard one-day tickets booked online cost £10 for the Friday, £12 for Saturday. For more details and to book tickets, visit:

Friday 28 April; Rilko AGM followed by lecture: The Lost Technology of Ancient Egypt. Venue: Rilko (Research Into Lost Knowledge). Public lecture. Venue: Rudolf Steiner House, 35, Park Road, London, NW1 6XT. AGM: 6.45pm (members only), lecture starts 7.30pm (non members and members welcome). Entrance: £8/£10.

Friday 28 April; Earthstars Group Meeting. The Celtic Tree Calendar and its Significance for Today.
Talk by Jackie Queally. Venue: Rudolf Steiner House, 35 Park Rd, London NW1 6XT. Time: doors open 7pm, talk at 7.30pm. Entry £12.

Friday 28 April; Alexandrian Witchcraft Beltane Soirée. Venue in London. Time: 8pm. Details:

Friday 28 April; Beltane Gong Bath with Olaf Nixon at the College of Psychic Studies, 16 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2EB. Time: 7pm. Cost: £22/£20. Advance booking recommended. For details call: 020 7589 3292 or visit

April 29 – May 1; Rochester Sweeps Festival. Community event with entertainment. Starts 10am. Venue: Rochester High Street, Rochester, Medway, ME1 1PY.

Saturday, 29 April; SPR Study Day - New Approaches to Ghost Hunting. Day of  Lectures. Venue: Society for Psychical Research, 1 Vernon Mews, London W14 0RL. Time: 9.30am-5.15pm. Members £38/£34, nonmembers £42.

Saturday, 29 April; Forming a Deeper Connection with Trees. Workshop hosted by Earthstars Sacred Space. Venue: Rudolf Steiner House, 35 Park Road, London NW1 6XT. Time: 10am - 4.30pm. £65, includes copy of a book. Details and tickets:

Saturday, 29 April; Sacred Godddesss, Sacred Sexuality Workshop (women only). Venue: Wicca Moon, 50 Well Hall Rd, London, SE9 6SH. Tickets: £39.99. Time: 11am-5pm. For details or to book a place email or call 020 8850 7803.

Saturday, 29 April; A Woman's Century; the Art, Life and Wisdom of Florence Farr. Day of talks and performances marking the 100th year since her death. Venue: Theosophical Society, 50 Gloucester Place, London, United Kingdom. Tickets £22. Time 11.30am-5.30pm. Details and tickets:

Saturday, 29 April; Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri Beltain Celebraton. Druidic ceremony to celebrate Beltaine at Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire. Meet at the Red Lion pub from Noon for ceremony around 1.30pm. The ritual should end at 3pm, then back to the pub. Offerings of bread, mead and song or poetry welcome. Overnight camping is allowed in the overflow car park.

Saturday, 29 April; Beltaine Festival at Butser Ancient Farm, Hampshire. Prebooked ticket: Adults £17.50, children: £12.50; at the gate £25/£20. Includes vegetarian meal. Time: 4.30pm – 10pm. Call 023 9259 8838 or visit

Sunday 30 April; Online Beltane Festival with the Pagan Federation England and Wales. Online talks, discussions, videos, pictures and blog posts. Details here:

Sunday 30 April; Meditation at Russell Brands Trew Era Cafe, 30 Whitmore Road, London N1 5QA. Starts 10.15am. Free event. Details:

Sunday 30 April; Beltane Public Sabbat with the The London Wicca Meetup Group. Venue: Meet at Rose and Crown, 55 High Street Wimbledon, London SW19 5BA at 1pm to walk to the site at 2pm. You must reserve a place in advance. Details:

Sunday 30 April; Anderida Gorsedd Beltane open ritual at the Long Man of Wilmington, Sussex. Meet near the car park between 1.30pm and 2pm for a walk up to the chalk hill figure at 2pm. Afterwards back to the Giants Rest pub in Wilmington for a social drink together.

Sunday 30 April; Beltane Gathering and Dedication Rite organised by London Practical Witchcraft Theory and Practice. Venue: Bookham. Time: 2.30pm. Donations welcome.

Sunday 30 April; Beltane Celebration. Evening service led by the Wheel of the Year Group at Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, 3 Pilgrim's Place, London NW3 1NG. Time: 7pm.

Sunday 30 April; Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. Venue: Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland (entrance by Waterloo place). Gates open at 8pm. Performance starts at sunset. Event ends at 1.30am. Tickets £8 in advance, £10 on the gate. Details and bookings:

Monday 1 May; Wheel of the Year Festival - Beltane at Chalice Well World Peace Garden, in Glastonbury. The gardens open at 6am for morning meditation around the Beltane fire at 7am. Maypole dancing at 8:30am, accompanied by live music. Gather at the well head for midday meditation until 12.30pm, followed by conversation on the lower lawn. Refreshments on sale 6am to 1:30pm. Free admission to the gardens from 6am to noon. For more details, visit the website

Monday 1 May; Fowlers Troop and the Deptford Jack in the Green will be out and about in Greenwich this May Day.  Details of the route are on the Deptford Jack in the Green web page at

Monday 1 May; Ecstatic Dance London: Beltane Bloom. Meet at Hampstead Heath Railway Station, Southend Road, London, NW3 2QD at 6pm. Tickets:
£5.90 – £11.21. Details and booking:

Monday 1 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:

Monday 1 May; Archaeology of Spells: A Case Study from Karanis, Egypt. Lecture by Dr Drew Wilburn . Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 7.30pm. Ticket price £8. Tel: 0207 419 8507 or email:

Monday 1 May; Beltane May Day Festival with London Wellness Meetup. Venue: Henry the 8th Hotel, 23 Leinster Gardens, London W2 3AN. Free Public event - all are welcome. Doors open 7.30pm.

Tuesday 2 May; Tarot Card Reading for Beginners. First class in an eight-week course with Tomas D'Aradia. Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 7pm. Price: £210 for the entire course, deposit £110 by first night. Tel: 0207 419 8507 or email:

Tuesday 2 May; Talk on vampires by Deborah Hyde, editor of the Skeptic magazine. Venue: Paul Street, London EC2A 4JH. Time:doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm start. Tickets: £10. Further details at

Tuesday 2 May (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:

Tuesday 2 May; Witches' Inn Beltane 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:

Wednesday 3 May; Let's Meditate - group meditation. Venue: Buddha on a Bicycle, Covent Garden, London. Starts 6pm. Donations of £3 recommended. Details:

Wednesday 3 May; Healing With the Tao. Talk with Mantak Chia organised by Alternatives. Venue: St James's Church, 197 Piccadilly, W1J 9LL, Doors open 6.30pm. Event starts: 7pm. Tickets £10/£15 online. For more details and to book tickets

Wednesday 3 May; The Ancient Wisdom Teachings. Venue: The Theosophical Society, 50 Gloucester Place London, W1U 8EA. Time: 7pm. Entry: Donations welcome. Details:

Wednesday 3 May; Greenwich Skeptics in the Pub - Is it Time to Ditch the Tin Foil Hat? What psychology can tell us about belief in conspiracy theories. Talk by Christopher Thresher-Andrews. Venue: The Star and Garter, 60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY. Time: 7.30pm. Details:

Thursday 4 May; Mood, UFOs and the Supernatural. Talk about the changing emotional landscape of the UFO by Greg Eghigian. Venue: The Horse Hospital, Colonnade, London WC1N 1JD. Time: 6pm. Tickets free but must be booked online:

Thursday 4 May; Soul Story:Evolution and the Purpose of Life. Talk and book signing with Tim Freke. 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

Thursday 4 May; Tantra and Trance Possession Tantra History Lecture 2 with Phil Hine. Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 7.30pm. Ticket price £8. Tel: 0207 419 8507 or email:

Friday 5 May; Unconditional Self-Love: The Key to Healing, True Love. Lecture by Blake Bauer at the College of Psychic Studies, 16 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2EB. Time: 7pm. Cost: £14/£16. Advance booking recommended. For details call: 020 7589 3292 or visit

Saturday 6 May - Tuesday 23 May; Hay House World Summit 2017. Series of free online talks on mind, body, spirit subjects. For more details and to sign up visit:

Saturday 6 - Sunday 7 May; For Good or For Ill: How Has Religion Shaped Society? Weekend of talks, part of a year-long festival called Belief and Beyond Belief about what it means to be human. Venue: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX. Weekend tickets £25. More details and booking:

Saturday 6 - Sunday 7 May; Elements of Magic Weekend Intensive in Glastonbury. Journeying together through air, fire, water, earth and spirit, we will work with the tools of trance, movement, sound, silence, divination and more. This is the first of the four core classes of Reclaiming, a tradition of Witchcraft. Venue: Close to centre of Glastonbury, Somerset. Cost : £130-£200 sliding scale
More details or contact

Saturday 6 May; Chants for Enchantment - Afternoon Mini-workshop with Hannah Sanders. Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 3pm. Ticket price £20. Tel: 0207 419 8507 or email:

Sunday 7 May; Beltane/May Day on Primrose Hill with the Loose Association of Druids. Open ritual hosted by Jeremy Morgan, the Druid of Wormwood Scrubbs. Venue: The Hawthorne Grove, Primrose Hill, Regents Park, London NW1. Gather at 12.45pm for 1pm start, ends at around 2.30pm. Nearest tube: Chalk Farm.

Sunday 7 May; Woodland Beltane Gathering and Maypole Dancing with London Woodland Witches Magicians and Outdoor Pagans. Venue: Outdoor location Queen's Woods, Highgate. North London.
Meet at The Woodmans' pub garden  from 1pm then go to the woods at 2pm. Cost £3. You must be a member of this group and reserve a place in advance. Wear outdoor clothes and bring food and drink to share. Details and bookings:

Sunday 7 May; The Ageless Wisdom For Everyone. Venue: The Theosophical Society, 50 Gloucester Place London, W1U 8EA. Time: 2pm. Entry: Donations welcome. Details:

Sunday 7 May; Let's Meet Up in the Dance with the Movement Medicine Women's Circle, Venue: Siobhan Dance Studio, 85 St George's Rd, London SE1 6ER,. Time: 3pm. Entry £15.

I do not organise any of the events listed on this page. I try to make sure that the information given is accurate, but do check with event organisers as times, ticket availability and other details can change. If you know of an event that you want listed, please email the details to me at

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Monday, 24 April 2017

Review: Strange Labyrinth - London's Great Forest

Epping Forest, the ancient woodland and former royal forest on the border between London and Essex, is the setting for Strange Labyrinth, a non-fiction book by Will Ashon. It is about the forest itself and people associated with it in the past and today.

The name Strange Labyrinth comes from English Renaissance feminist Mary Wroth’s epic poem The Countess of Montgomery's Urania, about love and possibly also a metaphysical allegory about alchemy. Mary Wroth lived in the area at Loughton Hall and is just one of its unusual denizens Will Ashon writes about. Others include the sculptor Jacob Epstein, comedian Ken Campbell, founder of the Stonehenge Free Festival Wally Hope, poet John Clare, highwayman Dick Turpin, punk philosopher and activist Penny Rimbaud and burglar-turned-road-protester Mick Roberts. They are all people who in some way or another are rebels.

The book’s subtitle is Outlaws, Poets, Mystics, Murderers and a Coward in London’s Great Forest. Will Ashon casts himself in the last role – the coward. Following in the footsteps of people who broke laws or at least refused to be constrained by societies mores, Will sees himself as someone who wants to do the same, but is stopped by fears of the consequences of crossing no-entry signs. To be honest, I think he is being unfair to himself. Wariness about being arrested, set upon by an angry farmer - or worse - is quite reasonable in my opinion, but he does offer an everyman-type counterpoint to the truly remarkable and unconventional people whose lives he explores as he also explores the forest paths.

And this book is as much about the forest as it is about the people. Will names and gives personality to numerous trees you can find there – Skull Tree is the one depicted on the book's front cover. The history of Epping Forest is as much associated with rebelliousness as the people who have frequented it - from conflicts over land use and ownership to various divergent sexual encounters.

Yet Strange Labyrinth is much more than just a non-fiction book about places and people and what they got up to. Like Urania can be considered a metaphysical allegory rather than just a long poem about love, Will Ashon’s book is also an allegory about life and the choices we make – whether we choose to stay on the clearly defined roads of the city or venture down the dark and twisting paths of the forest, wherever they might lead us.

Publisher Granta Books says on its website:
In litter-strewn Epping Forest on the edge of London, might a writer find that magical moment of transcendence? He will certainly discover filthy graffiti and frightening dogs, as well as world-renowned artists and fading celebrities, robbers, lovers, ghosts and poets. But will he find himself? Or a version of himself he might learn something from?

Strange Labyrinth is a quest narrative arguing that we shouldn't get lost in order to find ourselves, but solely to accept that we are lost in the first place. It is a singular blend of landscape writing, political indignation, cultural history and wit from a startling new voice in non-fiction.
Strange Labyrinth can be ordered via Amazon or Waterstones.

Links and previous related posts
Strange Labyrinth

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Review: Belostra Pagan Festival at Stanley Halls

I was absolutely delighted when I heard that Belostra, the festival organised by Pagan Future Fests to celebrate both Beltane and Ostara, had this year moved from Balham to Stanley Halls in Norwood, which is just a 10-minute bus journey from where I live in south London. I had a great time when I went there yesterday too.

Stanley Halls is a lovely venue. It is a community arts centre in a Grade II listed Edwardian building close to Norwood Junction station. The Arts and Crafts style halls were built between 1904 and 1911 and comprise an art gallery, theatre and assembly rooms. It also has one of my favourite cafes - family-run Coffee Craft, which has a really friendly atmosphere and sells lovely cakes, breakfasts and lunches as well as delicious coffee.

The venue recently came under community management by The Stanley People’s Initiative, a local charity. It regularly puts on musical and theatrical events and holds dance and yoga classes as well as hosting conventions and conferences like Belostra.

It was great to meet up with pagan friends at Belostra, watch drumming and folk dances and listen to interesting talks. I could only stay until late afternoon, although the event went on until 10pm at night, so I missed the evening entertainment of live music and singing. I do hope Belostra returns next year, although I was a bit concerned that it might not have had enough ticket sales to make a profit this year. There were enough people there to fill all the seats at the talks I went to and the cafe had a queue, but overall I felt the event could have been fuller. Maybe more people arrived after I left as Pagan Future Fests was selling evening-only tickets too.