Friday, 3 July 2020

Divination for the Day: The Tower from the Vertigo Tarot

I was drawn to do a reading from the Vertigo Tarot. I turned over the Tower.

The Vertigo Tarot, based on Vertigo Comics characters, including John Constantine, Morpheus, Death, and Swamp Thing, is one I rarely use. I love it, but the cards in my first edition seem so fragile and easily scuffed that I am scared of destroying them. Of course, destruction is what the Tower is all about.

In this deck the Tower represents the Tower of Babel from the Doom Patrol comics. The book by Rachel Pollack that comes with the set says:
"The darkest card in the Tarot, the Tower usually symbolizes some painful or frightening experience that ultimately liberates us from a painful situation. Though this sounds reassuring, the experience itself can be very harsh."
I don't think anyone would doubt that we are all going through a painful time of change at the moment. I do, however, think that this card represents hope that good will come out if it in the end. The image on the Vertigo Tarot Tower card represents a story called 'The Teiresias Wars' about fictional first inhabitants of the world:
"The Teiresiae [were] magical beings who constantly changed, merging in and out of their environment and each other. But then a renegade Teiresias created something new - a fixed, that is, rigid, language, based on strict grammar and a place for everything. He and his followers began to separate the world into categories: Male and famale, Human and nature, Good and evil, Life and death. To boost their power they created the Tower of Babel, a psychic machine designed to eliminate change forever. Joining together for one last time the Teiresiae summoned a great lightning bolt to destroy the Tower. In the process, most of the Teiresiae blew apart as well. Our world today is a compromise between two extremes of total liberation and total slavery."
I think the message of that story - about the overthrow of patriarchal ideas of identity and control - is one to contemplate, but not without hope.

You can view the Vertigo Tarot on Amazon although it is out of print at the time of writing this post.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

News: Witches, Viking Ship, Stonehenge and the Occult

Here is a round-up of recent news stories about witchcraft, witch beliefs, the excavation of a Viking ship, Stonehenge, and Nazi interest in the occult:

"These Parents Told Their 'Harry Potter' Loving Daughter She Was a Witch and People Are Divided" - story at Tyla:

"First Viking Ship Excavation in a Century Begins in Norway" - story at BBC News:

"The Witch Stone of Great Leighs" - story at Atlas Obscura:

"Stonehenge Hip-hop Tempts TikTok teens" - story at The Times:

"‘Buried Worlds with Don Wildman’ Episode 4 delves into the Nazis’ obsession with the occult and ancient lore" - story at Checkersaga:

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Online Pagan Events for the Hay and Buck Moon

The full moon this weekend is traditionally called the Hay Moon in England. I didn't have any hay, so the picture above shows a photograph of the moon against grasses from my overgrown garden. In America, it is called the Buck Moon, but whatever you call it, there's lots to celebrate. Here is a list of online events and resources for pagans, witches and those with similar interests. I mostly list events in the UK, but some of the activities are outside that time zone, so check what time it will start in your location. If you know an online ritual, talk, meeting or workshop you want included, please email me at

Wednesday 1 July; Glastonbury Online Pagan Moot with a Second Talk On Tarot- the Fool's Journey. Va Zoom. Time: 7.30pm. Tickets: Details:

Wednesday 1 July; The Last Unicorn Part 3. Online event via Children of Circe, is a private pagan group run by Richard Levy and sponsored by the Doreen Valiente Foundation. You have to join the group to watch the videos: Time: 8pm. Free event.

Wednesday 1 July; Sound Journey - Attune to the Moon. Digital event organised by She's Lost Control. Pay what you can sessions (£1-£20). Time: 7pm.

Wednesday 1 July; Death and the Psychopomp. Digital event organised by She's Lost Control. Pay what you can sessions (£5-£20). Time: 8pm.

Thursday 2 July; Psychedelic Magic online workshop via Treadwell's. Time: 7pm start. Tickets: £20.

Thursday 2 July; How to Choose Your Crystals. Digital event organised by She's Lost Control. Tickets:£20-£30. Time: 7pm.

Thursday 2 July; Shamanic Journeying. Digital event organised by She's Lost Control. Pay what you can sessions (£1-£20). Time: 7pm.

Thursday 2 July; The Mages Well Presents Podcast from the Centre For Pagan Studies. Time: 8pm.

Friday 3 July; Full Moon Event with Peace Fires. Light a candle or fire for peace wherever you are in the world, for just for 10 minutes or an hour or longer and state the intention: “Let there be peace on earth and love for one another.” Details:

Friday 3 July; Shakti Yoga. Online event with Dancing the Goddess. Time: 9am. Tickets: Free.

Friday 3 July; Friday Live Chat hosted by Rachel Patterson, author of the Kitchen Witch series of books. Time: 9am. Free event.

Friday 3 July; Eclipse Astrology. Digital event organised by She's Lost Control. Pay what you can sessions (£5-£20). Time: 12.30pm-1.30pm.

Friday 3 July; Academic online workshop: The Decline of Magic. Tricia Peone: ‘Preternature and the Ambiguity of Magical Experiences’; Will Pooley: ‘Who Believed in Witchcraft? France, 1790-1940’; Helen Cornish: ‘In Search of Cunning Ancestry: the Turn to Magic in Modern Witchcraft’; Thomas Waters: ‘A revival of magic: has there been a global growth of esotericism since the c.1970s?’ The papers will be circulated in advance, and won’t be read out on the day, but the audience/contributors can ask questions in a moderated discussion. Time: 1pm-3pm. To register for a place email and

Friday 3 July; Books of Magic. Online talk via Children of Circe, is a private pagan group run by Richard Levy and sponsored by the Doreen Valiente Foundation. You have to join the group to watch the videos: Time: 3pm. Free event.

Friday 3 July; Elmer the Elephant at Moon Lane. Online storytelling with London Dreamtime suitable for children. Time: 4pm. Tickets: £3 for children, adults go free. Details:

Friday 3 July; The Pendle Witch, by Lexi Wolfe. Live on Zoom. Time: 8pm. Free, but you must reserve a place

Friday 3 July (tbc); Full Moon Ceremony with Mani (This might be a return to physical ceremonies in an outdoor location in London, but might be online). Organised through London Woodland Witches, Wiccans and Pagans. Time: 7.30pm. Tickets: £5/£3.

Friday 3 July; Friday Night In - Breathwork for Creativity. Digital event organised by She's Lost Control. Pay what you can sessions (£1-£20). Time: 7pm.

Friday 3-Sunday 5 July; Rooted and Wild Online Festival. Free.

Saturday 4 July; Introduction to Shamanism. One-day online workshop with Shamanic Walks of Consciousness. Time: 10am-5pn. Tickets: £95.

Saturday 4 July; Virtual Wytches’ Market. Time: 11am.

Saturday 4 July; Harvesting and using herbs to make remedies. Online workshop with Hackney Herbal. Time: 11am. Tickets: £20.

Saturday 4 July; Herbal Potions for your Garden. Online workshop with Hackney Herbal. Time: 2pm. Tickets: £20.

Saturday 4 July; Magic, Witchcraft, Chaos and Beyond - Introduction to Chaos Magic. Online afternoon workshop by Airy Fairy. Time: 2pm. Tickets: £23/£17.

Sunday 5 July; Vodou, Secrecy and the Search for Divine Power. Online talk presented by Timothy R. Landry, organised through the Centre For Pagan Studies. Time: 4pm. Details:

Sunday 5 July; The Secret Journey of Doctor Dee. Online storytelling with London Dreamtime and Cunning Folk. Time: 6pm. Tickets: £3. Details:

Sunday 5 July; Dream Academy - Recurring Dreams. Digital event organised by She's Lost Control. Tickets: £11-£30. Time: 8pm.

Monday 6 July; Mindful Still Life Monday Sessions with London Drawing, via Zoom. Two sessions: 12.30pm and 6pm. Free, but donations welcome.

Monday 6 July; Full Moon Circle. Digital event organised by She's Lost Control. Tickets: £5-£20. Time: 8pm.

Monday 6 July; The Saga of Branwen - storytelling. Centre For Pagan Studies podcast. Time: 8pm. Details:

Tuesday 7 July; Intuition Masterclass. Digital event organised by She's Lost Control. Tickets: £20-£30. Time: 7pm.

Wednesday 8 July; First class in 9-week Marseille Tarot Course, via Treadwell's Online. Via Zoom. Time: 7pm start. Tickets: £180.

Wednesday 8 July; Moon Books Live Talk with Rachel Patterson, hosted by Moon Books. Time: 7pm.

Thursday 9 July; Left-Hand Path Tantra. Zoom workshop with Julian Vayne, via Treadwell's Online. Via Zoom. Time: 7pm start. Tickets: £20.

Thursday 9 July; Matthew Hopkins: The Witchfinder General. Online talk at South East London Folklore Society. Time: 8pm. Price: pay what you can - suggested donation £5. Details:

Friday 10 July; Shakti Yoga. Online event with Dancing the Goddess. Time: 9am. Tickets: Free.

Friday 10 July; Spirit Landscapes. Online talk via Children of Circe, is a private pagan group run by Richard Levy and sponsored by the Doreen Valiente Foundation. You have to join the group to watch the videos: Time: 8pm. Free event.

Saturday 11 July; Essential Oils for the Mind. Online workshop with Hackney Herbal. Time: 11am. Tickets: £20.

Saturday 11 July; Clear the Old, Create the New online workshop with Anna Parkinson through the College of Psychic Studies. Time: 11am-4pm. Tickets: Members: £65, Non-members: £85.

Saturday 11 July; Lesley-Anne Brewster: Dreams. Video talk and question session as part of Witchfest Online organised by Children of Artemis. Time: from 3.45pm. For more details and links:

Sunday 12 July; Online Candle and Cress Guided Wealth Spell. Organised through London Woodland Witches, Wiccans and Pagans. Time: 8pm. Tickets: £7.

Sunday 12 July; Folk Magic,​ Online talk presented by Yvonne Aburrow and Bob Houghton, organised through the Centre For Pagan Studies. Time: 7.30pm. Details:

Free Practical Magic 101 tutorials: How to do Candle Magic, How to Burn Loose Incense, How to use a Sage Smudge, How to use a Pendulum at plus free podcasts: For £12.99 a month you can also subscribe to gain access to uploaded illustrated lectures and seminars from Treadwell's renowned catalogue of events:

Disclaimer: Please note that I am not responsible for the content of any of these events so please contact the organisers with any questions, although if you spot something that needs correcting on my blog, do let me know so I can amend it. Where a practitioner is offering information about magical protection, this is *not* medical advice

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Monster Hunt: Searching for Strange Creatures in SE20

When you were young, did you play the game of not stepping on the pavement cracks, or the bear would get you? Here's a version of that game I played with a bunch of adult friends back in the summer of 2016.

Shortly after the launch of Pokemon Go, I decided to go on a monster hunt without the tech, using imagination and a spot of of psychogeography to look for signs of strange creatures - making up stories and taking photos along the way. Last week, I came across those photos again, and thought I'd share them in this blog post. The bear sign above was one of the first things I saw. There were several of them along the way. A warning perhaps, or just a creative expression by one of Penge's talented designers and street artists? I stood on a crack, just to see what would happen...

A row of bare-breasted caryatids appears to hold up the top floor flats of a building in Penge High Street, above a row of shops. You can see one in a photo above right. I don't know what they are doing in south London, but a caryatid is a statue that acts as a pillar or other support in a building. The name comes from an Ancient Greek term meaning "maidens of Karyai", which was an ancient town with a temple to the goddess Artemis Karyatis. She was said to dance among the groves of nut trees with her maiden worshippers, all carrying baskets of reeds and grasses on their heads, as if to mimic the trees themselves.

When you see faces in ink blots it is called pareidolia. What you think you see, isn't really there. It is just your mind playing tricks on you, translating random shapes into familiar objects - and perhaps giving a clue as to what is going on in your mind. Of course, that dark shape on the wall is just as random. Of course it is a paint splatter, interpreted by my imagination. It could not possibly be the shadow of a creature with the head of a lizard and outstretched wings, cast on a bare brick wall in an alley behind a supermarket.

And a bricked up doorway could be nothing sinister, could it? As I was photographing the shape on the wall, a group of children approached me and the people I was with.

"Are you looking for weird things?" one asked.

"Yes," I said. We were. The children looked at each other, as if deciding whether to tell us a secret. One of them took the lead. If we listened to the wall by the bricked up door, we might "hear a scary voice", they said, in a whisper.

"What does the voice say?" I asked.

"I can't tell you," they said, "but I can write it down."  And they did, on the back of a shopping receipt. To me, it looks like "I will kill you."

Leaving death threats behind, we returned to the high street. There was something odd there I was already aware of - a maze on the pavement next to a set of monstrous feet. Naturally, I walked the maze, but nothing happened. I don't think the maze is there now, and I believe the feet are gone too. I don't know where.

Other statues of mythological monsters can be seen in Penge. Some stand guard by Waterman's Square. These Victorian alms houses are now luxury homes, and the gargoyles that stand on pillars by the gateways inspired the logo for the Penge Heritage Trail. But, while they might have been intended as guardians, they looked mildly menacing as the evening shadows lengthened.

Along the road from Waterman's Square is St John's Church, and I think I spotted a small foliate head - or a Green Man - by the church door. These are often found in churches. Some are famous for them, including Salisbury Cathedral and Rosslyn Chapel.

There are many theories as to what they mean. Many pagans like to believe they represent the cycles of nature or even a nature spirit. Christians have variously interpreted them as showing the sins of the flesh leading to corruption or as Christ breathing life into the world. For others, they are just monstrous gargoyles, but no one really knows for sure.

As the walk went on, and dusk turned to night, the streets and alleys and deserted stretches of ground we crossed got distinctly spookier. The back of a disused pub next to Penge East Station is covered in murals showing the area in bygone times. It is meant to be a happy, nostalgic scene, but graffiti on the wall appeared to have added ghost-like images to the painted windows that gave a more haunted impression. We decided to end the walk there, and made our way to a pub that was still open for the kind of spirits that get poured into a glass.

I hope you have enjoyed my little tour through a small part of south east London, and photographs of monsters from ancient mythology and pure imagination. If you see signs of strange creatures in the streets you pass, do take a picture.

Monday, 29 June 2020

Colm Holland on his book The Secret of The Alchemist

The Secret of The Alchemist, by Colm Holland, has the claim of being the first book to examine the real meanings buried within the bestselling The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. In this article about his book, Colm gives an insight into the 'magic secret' and how it changed his life beyond all recognition for the better. He says he hopes others can benefit from his discovery and perform miracles.

In 1993 I was part of the team at HarperCollins that published The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, with sales to date of over 86 million copies in 70 languages. When I met Paulo, however, he was an unknown Brazilian author, with his books only in Portuguese. At that time no one in the publishing company where I worked had predicted what a global bestseller Paulo’s book would be – until I read the manuscript before it was published.

I read his story of Santiago the shepherd boy, who follows his dream of finding treasure in the desert, and instantly knew – because of my own spiritual journey up to that moment I read the manuscript – it would be a global sensation. I persuaded my colleagues to give the book the highest level of marketing spend we could afford and the rest, as they say, is history!

When I met Paulo in person, in those early days soon after the book was released, he said he wanted to thank me with a gift, in gratitude for my passion and vision for his book. The gift was not what I expected and you can read a full account of our ‘magical’ encounter in the preface of my book.

The magic gift he gave me was to change the course of the rest of my life and ultimately led to my writing The Secret of The Alchemist, which is my account of the deep and life changing spiritual lessons I discovered – including ‘the secret’ – buried within Paulo’s novel.

The immediate effect was amazing and was manifested through two distinct miracles. On the one hand, Paulo challenged me to decide what I really wanted in life, and once I made that decision, he said it would happen! I learned very quickly to be careful what you wish for because the first obstacle to success is fear. I wanted to start my own business and yet to achieve that I had to face my fear of failure.

As I began to dig for the secret buried in The Alchemist, I unearthed a new found courage to face my fear and follow my dream and within a short space of time I founded a successful advertising agency. But the road to that new found success did not come cheap - it required a complete transformation of my inner self. On the other hand, the effect was to restart an inner spiritual journey that I had put on pause for many years and led me to begin to value the uniqueness of what I had to offer the world – I found my inner treasure.

Most importantly, I discovered that alchemy is all about transformation toward true empowerment and it draws upon the greatest power of all to convert seemingly insurmountable obstacles into life changing experiences.

Our chances of successfully living our lives with true fulfilment are often hampered by any number of obstacles - visible and invisible. My best example of overcoming an obstacle to my living life to the full – and believe me there are plenty to choose from – is when I discovered my inner child in the cupboard of my unconscious. When I was a toddler, I had a real-life Harry Potter experience of spending time locked in an under stairs cupboard. The consequence was an angry and frustrated inner boy who was controlling my thoughts and emotions as an adult. His power was
so great that he had my life set on a path of self-destruction.

By using the process outlined in the ancient wisdom of alchemy, as interpreted by Carl Jung – another devoted alchemist – I found a way to give voice to the inner boy and give him the attention and love he had been denied. Slowly and gently I experienced a healing of the pain he had encountered and finally – instead of being an obstacle to my emotional progress he became my greatest asset. It’s that boy who became the writer I am today.

My greatest weakness became my most treasured strength. This is the power of spiritual alchemy and it is within reach of anyone looking for greater power and control over their thoughts, emotions and their life - and it requires one very special ingredient: the power of unconditional love. This is the experience of with the power of unconditional love – that surrounds me and is within me – leading me on to fulfil my dreams. This can be your experience too and to assist you in unearthing and believing again in your dreams I have made this blessing for everyone who reads my book:

“As you read The Secret of The Alchemist, I have asked the magical power of Love to give you everything you need to be the alchemist in your world.” Colm Holland.

You can view The Secret of The Alchemist on Amazon.