Thursday, 28 July 2016

News: Witchcraft, Archaeology, Pentagram, Scary Doll

"Spellbound by Lancaster's new witchcraft shop" - story at Lancaster Today: http://www.lancasterguardian.co.uk/news/local/spellbound-by-lancaster-s-new-witchcraft-shop-1-8012449

"Anglo-Saxon Cemetery Found in a Bronze Age Barrow" - story at Archaeology: http://www.archaeology.org/news/4664-160721-england-mound-burials

"Archaeology News In Mexico Shows Mayan King Pakal Swam To Underworld, Didn’t Use Spaceship" - story at International Business Times: http://www.ibtimes.com/archaeology-news-mexico-shows-mayan-king-pakal-swam-underworld-didnt-use-spaceship-2394839

"Pentagram in Century Square Mall, occult symbol or good fengshui?" - story at The Independent - Singapore: http://theindependent.sg/pentagram-in-century-square-mall-occultic-symbol-or-good-fengshui/

"Meet Ruby the haunted doll with a poignant past" - story at Blasting News: http://us.blastingnews.com/news/2016/07/meet-ruby-the-haunted-doll-with-a-poignant-past-001008945.html

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Lammas Pagan Events In London and Elsewhere


This weekend and over the coming weeks, Pagans are celebrating Lammas - or the festival of the first fruits of the harvest. Here are some of the events taking place in and near London, plus a couple further afield:

Now - 29 July 2016; Scholar, Courtier, Magician: the lost library of John Dee. London exhibition. Venue: Royal College of Physicians, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4LE. Entry free. Opening times vary but normally only Monday-Friday until 5pm, visit the website for details: https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/events

Now - 31 August; Akhenaten: Heretic, Visionary, Icon Exhibition at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, UCL Malet Place, London WC1E 6BT. Lunchtime tours: 1.15pm-1.45pm. For more details, email events.petrie@ucl.ac.uk or phone 020 7679 4138.

Now - 11 September; Georgiana Houghton: Spirit Drawings Summer Showcase. Exhibition at The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN. Tickets £9, free for members. Details: http://courtauld.ac.uk/gallery/what-on/exhibitions-displays/georgiana-houghton-spirit-drawings

Now - 12 September; Austin Osman Spare - A Retrospective. Venue: The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art and Natural History, 11 Mare Street, London E8 4RP. http://www.thelasttuesdaysociety.org/

Now to 30 September; Folklore, Magic and Mysteries: Modern Witchcraft and Folk Culture in Britain - exhibition of artefacts, manuscripts and documents from the Doreen Valiente Foundation. Venue: Preston Manor, Preston Drove, Brighton BN1 6SD. Time: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm; Sunday 2-5pm. Free entry to exhibition with Preston Manor admission (adult £5.85, child (5-15) £3.15). Details: http://brightonmuseums.org.uk/prestonmanor/

Now to 27 November, Sunken Cities - Egypt’s Lost Worlds. Major exhibition at the British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Tickets £16.50. For more details visit: https://www.britishmuseum.org/

Wednesday 27 July; 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 28 July; Meetup with Taz Thornton, author of Whispers From The Earth at Watkins Books, 19-21 Cecil Court, London WC2N 4EZ. Time: 6.30pm. Free event. For more details Tel 020 7836 2182 or visit http://www.meetup.com/WatkinsBooks/

Thursday 28 July; The Afterlife in the Modern West Lecture  by Prof Philip Almond. Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 7.15pm for 7.30pm start. Ticket price £8. Tel: 0207 419 8507 or email: info@treadwells-london.com http://www.treadwells-london.com/

Friday 29 July; Kick-start a Spiritual Ecology Hub! One-day practical workshop. Venue: St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, 78 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AG. Time: 10am start. Tickets £25/£18. Details and booking: https://www.stethelburgas.org/

Friday 29 July; Embrace Abundance - A Gong Bath with Diana Vernon. Venue: The College of Psychic Studies, 16 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2EB. Time: 7pm-8.30pm. Cost: £18/£20. Advance booking advised. For details call: 020 7589 3292 or visit https://www.collegeofpsychicstudies.co.uk/

Saturday 30 July; Wild Food and Remedies. Foraging and preparation workshop run by London Wildlife Trust. Venue: New River Studio - Woodberry Wetlands 1 Newnton Close, London, N4 2RH. Time: 10am to 1.30pm. Tickets £37.75. Details and booking: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wild-food-remedies-registration-23201974731

Saturday 30 July; Ecstatic Dance London: Dancing with Trees and Silent Disco free event. Meet between 2pm-2:20pm at Hampstead Heath Tube Station to walk to the site. You must reserve a place in advance: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ecstatic-dance-london-presents-dancing-with-trees-silent-disco-free-tickets-26543085082

Saturday 30 July - Sunday 31 July; Reiki level 1 two-day workshop hosted by Return of the Goddess. Venue: The Yoga Shed, 62b College Rd, Bromley, BR1 3PE. Time: 11am-5pm. Cost £150. Advance booking necessary. More details: http://www.hayleyrogers.com/  or https://www.facebook.com/events/1026518114070322/

Saturday 30 July - Sunday 31 July; Eastbourne Lammas Festival. Lammas ritual plus music, dance, stalls, food and drink on Eastbourne seafront. Western Lawns, Eastbourne Seafront West, King Edwards Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 4EE. Free. http://www.lammasfest.org/

Sunday 31 July; Meditation at Russell Brands Trew Era Cafe, 30 Whitmore Road, London N1 5QA. Starts 10.15am. Free weekly event.

Sunday 31 July; Mugwort Lucid Dreaming Workshop run by Apiary Studios. Venue: Apiary Studios - 458 Hackney Road, London, E2 9EG. Time: 10.30am-4pm. Tickets: £48.67 – £64.49. Details and booking: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/mugwort-lucid-dreaming-workshop-tickets-26051986192

Sunday 31 July; Wicca Lammas 2016 Pan's Picnic at Trent Park with London Woodland Witches Wiccans Ritual Magicians and Pagans. Meet at Cockfosters Gate,Trent Park, Cockfosters Road, Enfield, Barnet, North London. Time: 1.30pm-7pm. Wear suitable clothes for an outdoor event and bring a packed lunch. Details: http://www.meetup.com/London-Woodland-Witches-Outdoor-Pagans/

Sunday 31 July; Anderida Gorsedd Lughnasadh 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 31 July; July Kith of the Tree and the Well Moot. Heathen moot. Venue: The Horseshoe Inn, 26 Melior Street, London SE1. Time: 2pm-6pm. Details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1739856852945840/

Sunday 31 July; Psychedelics and Nonduality, hosted by The Psychedelic Society. Speakers: Peter Russell, Bernardo Kastrup and Stephen Reid (Director of The Psychedelic Society). Venue: Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, WC1R 4RL London. Time: 6pm-8.30pm. Tickets: £10. Details and tickets: https://billetto.co.uk/en/events/psychedelics-and-nonduality

Sunday 31 July; Lughnasadh. Evening service led by the Wheel of the Year Group at Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, 3 Pilgrim's Place, London NW3 1NG. Time: 7pm. http://www.rosslynhillchapel.com/

Monday 1 August; Wheel of the Year Festival - Fruition Meditation at Chalice Well World Peace Garden, in Glastonbury. Gather at the Well Head at noon for celebration and meditation until 12.30pm, followed by a chance to chat on the lower lawn. Free admission to the gardens from 10am to noon. http://www.chalicewell.org.uk/

Tuesday 2 August; Cobwebs and Cauldrons Moot. Venue: Romford White Horse Pub, 118 High Road, RM6 6NU. Entry £4. Moot takes place on the first Tuesday of every month. 7.30pm start.

Tuesday 2 August; Witches' Inn Gathering. Venue: The Feathers Hotel in Merstham, Surrey RH1 3EA. Starts at 8pm. Moots are the first Tuesday of each month. For more details and to reserve a place visit: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Witches-Inn/1568424150049437

Wednesday 3 August; The Sacred Landscape of Avebury Day Trip including a talk by Francine Blake on crop circles. Organised by Alternatives. Meet at St James's Square, London, at 8.45am for the coach. Tickets £85/£65 online. For more details and to book tickets: http://www.alternatives.org.uk/

Wednesday 3 August; From Garden to Garret: The Apothecary Tour. Venue: The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret - 9a Saint Thomas Street, London, SE1 9RY. Time: 2pm-3.30pm. Tickets £6.50 adults/£5 concessions. Includes admission to the museum. Details and booking: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/from-garden-to-garret-the-apothecary-tour-tickets-26301789360

Wednesday 3 August; Hertford Moot on Tour! Moot at a haunted pub. Venue: The Kings Arms, Berkhamsted, 147 High Street, HP4 3HL Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. Time: 7.30pm. Details: https://www.facebook.com/events/533422110179422/

Thursday 4 August; Lecture: Greek Kings and Egyptian Gods. Venue: BP Lecture Theatre , British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Time: 1.30pm-2.30pm. Free, but advance booking essential. For more details visit: https://www.britishmuseum.org/

Thursday 4 August; Meetup with Helyn Connerr and learn about The Mercury Model at Watkins Books, 19-21 Cecil Court, London WC2N 4EZ. Time: 6.30pm. Free event. For more details Tel 020 7836 2182 or visit http://www.meetup.com/WatkinsBooks/

Thursday 4 August; PF-London Lammas Open Ritual run by Facilitated by Goddess Enchantment. 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 http://london.paganfed.org/

Friday 5 August; Magickal circle at the Covenant of Hekate sanctuary in Clapham, London. This is an ongoing circle for people who have an already established connection with Hekate and who would like to develop their psychic and magickal skills and to share with others their present knowledge. It happens every 1st and 3rd Friday of the month, until September. Time: 7pm to 10pm. No admission fee. Bring an offering for the sanctuary - which can be wild flowers, herbs, incense or candles, plus a food contribution for sharing. For the address please write to the sanctuary Torch Bearer, Andrea Meryem Angelos: hekatemagna@gmail.com.

Saturday 6 August; Digital workshop: Code the Collection: Lucky Charms. Samsung Centre, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Time: 11am-4pm. Free, just drop in. Suitable for ages 11+ (must be accompanied by an adult). For more details visit: https://www.britishmuseum.org/

Saturday 6 August; Hendon Heathens Moot, Venue: Greyhound Pub, Church End, Hendon, London, NW4 4JT. Time: 6pm. Hendon Heathens meets at this pub the first Saturday of every month.

Saturday 6 August; Mud and Magic with Vanessa Woolf of London Dreamtime. Mudlarking and storytelling in a secret woodland location by the Thames, near Bermondsey Tube. Tickets £3. Starts 7pm. Booking essential email vanessa@londondreamtime.com or visit http://londondreamtime.com/calendar/

Sunday 7 August, Pagan Pride UK 2016 Festival in Nottingham. Venue: The Arboretum, Nottingham
NG1 4. Starts with a parade gathering at the Old Market Square at 10:30am, with the festival opening at noon. Free event with lots of talks, entertainment, ritual, food and drink. http://www.paganpride.org.uk/

Sunday 7 August; Tarot for Absolute Beginners. Workshop with Suzanne Corbie. Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 11am to 5.30pm. Ticket price £70 (£40 deposit in advance). Tel: 0207 419 8507 or email: info@treadwells-london.com http://www.treadwells-london.com/

Sunday 7 August, Lughnasaah- Druid Lammas Ritual 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. Meet at 12.30pm for a 1pm start, ends at around 2.30pm. Nearest tube: Chalk Farm.

I am not responsible for any of these events and I recommend checking with the organisers before turning up to any of them. If you know of an event that you want listed, please email the details to me at badwitch1234@gmail.com.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Flower Magic and Folklore: Enchanter's Nightshade


The delicate white flowers growing among my lavender are enchanter's nightshade. Isn't that a lovely name?

I only learnt what it was called last weekend when a pagan friend came around to visit and recognised it. I had been wondering about it and was delighted when I found out.

My mother, who was a keen gardener when she was younger, considered it a weed and would ruthlessly dig it out of the flowerbeds. After she died I decided I liked the contrast of the lavender and the white flowers and left it. (And, to be completely honest, I also don't have that much time for weeding either.) Now I have learnt what a witchy name it has, I will proudly let it grow.

However, despite being called enchanter's nightshade, research showed me that it isn't related to other nightshades, such as deadly nightshade or woody nightshade. Instead it is a member of the willowherb (onagraceae) family. It isn't poisonous, which is a good thing, but it isn't considered edible either. It contains a large amount of tannin, which is an astringent, and I found some references to it being drunk as a tea or applied as a wash to help alleviate rheumatism, gout, infections and fever.

With a name like enchanter's nightshade, you would think it would really come into its own magically - but surprisingly I couldn't find it mentioned in the books I usually turn to when looking up magical plant and herbs. Some online research told me that its Latin name, Circaea lutetiana, which relates to the enchantress Circe of Greek mythology, and that perhaps it was one of the herbs she was thought to have put into her potion to turn Odysseus's shipmates into pigs in Homer's epic poem. With this association, it could be used in spells for enchantment, transformation and even cursing.

According to folklore, in the language of flowers enchanter's nightshade means witchcraft or sorcery - another reason to leave it growing in my front garden among my lavender.

Note: This is for information only and is not medical advice. Always consult a qualified medical herbalist before taking any herbal remedy.


Links and previous related posts
http://www.woodlands.co.uk/blog/woodland-flowers/white-flowers/enchanter%E2%80%99s-nightshade/
http://www.witchipedia.com/herb:enchanter-s-nightshade
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circaea_lutetiana
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2015/07/pagan-eye-echinacea-flowers-in-bloom.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2016/07/magical-plants-and-herbs-chamomile.html

Monday, 25 July 2016

News Story on "The Dark Side of Witchcraft" in Wales

While browsing news stories about witchcraft and paganism, I came across a story published in The Daily Post earlier this month entitled North Wales X Files: The Dark Side of Witchcraft. It was all about desecration of Christian churches and attacks on animals that had been blamed on witches and pagans back in the 1980s and 90s. Here is the link: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/north-wales-x-files-dark-11617883

It is one of those kinds of news stories that really pisses modern pagan witches off because, as I am sure readers of my blog will know, neither desecration of churches nor animal cruelty are a part of any regular modern pagan witchcraft tradition in the UK. Wiccans in particular believe that it is wrong to harm people or other creatures, and Wiccan rites do not include animal sacrifice or mutilation. Our rites are all about honouring nature and celebrating the cycles of life and of the seasons - they do not involve Christian churches in any way either.

Now, the article does point out that Wicca "can" use magic for good, but goes on to say that in North Wales: "Witchcraft has been used to satisfy more sinister goals."

As evidence, the articles states: "In June 1987 two 16-year-old boys came before Llandudno Juvenile Court after they urinated on the altar at Llandudno’s Holy Trinity church. One of the boys later told police he was a pagan and had stolen church ornaments for use in occult rituals. Then a couple of years after, one of the boys appeared on ITV’s Cook Report as a reformed Satanist."

These two 16-year-olds sound more like confused teenage vandals than part of any genuine occult tradition. And, in any case, Satanists are not pagans. Satan is the Christian Devil, he is not a pagan God or Goddess, so pagans do not worship him any more than they worship Christ.

The other people quoted in the story are all Christian ministers, while fearful villagers are referenced as saying they believed a local coven was behind it. It would really have been nice if the journalist who wrote the story had also asked the Pagan Federation - or the local coven - for a quote.

To be honest, this story seems like something out of the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and 90s that was the subject of a conference in London recently. As I blogged about after attending the conference, the modern day witch hunt was fuelled in a large part by sensationalist journalism spreading stories started by fundamental Christians, but without fully investigating all the evidence.

This latest news story talks about X Files and admits that, apart from the two teenagers who got their day in court followed by a moment of TV fame, the perpetrators of the desecrations and animal attacks have not been caught. The fact that "scared villagers" blamed witches doesn't mean a lot. Scared villagers have been getting out their pitchforks and burning torches to blame witches for all sorts of misfortunes ever since pitchforks and burning torches were invented. It doesn't mean that witches have ever really been behind the stuff they've been accused of.

But I don't live in North Wales and can only speculate based on my knowledge of modern pagan witchcraft and what I have learnt about Satanic Panics. If you do live in that area or know anything about the background to the story in The Daily Post, do leave a comment. You can also comment on the newspaper's website here: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/north-wales-x-files-dark-11617883

Previous related posts
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2016/07/uk-satanic-abuse-scare-25-years-on_7.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2016/07/uk-satanic-abuse-scare-25-years-on-jean.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2015/02/question-does-media-depict-witchcraft.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2014/05/news-satanism-101-in-washington-post.html

Friday, 22 July 2016

Science Shows How to Communicate with Plants


I must admit that I do have conversations with plants. I talk to the flowers growing in my garden and like to think that the trees in my local park whisper words of wisdom to me as I walk through on my way to the shops or the station.

If you want to know what I imagine the trees say, it is usually: "Why do you humans always rush about so much? Slow down, enjoy the sunshine. Feel the rain on your skin, the breeze in your hair and the earth beneath your feet. Take a deep breath and just enjoy the moment."

Now, apparently, scientists have developed a way to help us see and hear what plants are really saying. I got a press release about a kickstarter project for something called Phytl Signs, which can help you decode the language of plants. Here are the details I was sent:
Are you captivated and intrigued by how plants communicate? Would you like to accelerate plant science by helping to decode what your plants are actually saying? With Phytl Signs, an innovative and unique wearable for plants, you can! Available through the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, Phytl Signs already has over 130 backers and is over half way to reaching its funding goal. Make a pledge before the 29th July 2016 and join a community of people digitally connecting with their plants to ultimately understand them better! 
So, how does it work? Phytl Signs is essentially a plant monitor – but it’s unlike any other plant monitor – because it specifically listens in to what the plant itself is communicating rather than simply measuring the air temperature or the soil around it. It works by amplifying the electrical signals that plants use to communicate internally, allowing us, for the first time, to hear them (though a speaker attached to the device) and see them (through an app on your phone or tablet). Using Phytl Signs you can test how your plants respond to changes in their environment. For example, water or mist your plants, move them to a warmer or cooler spot, and observe, through their language of electrical signals, how they react. 
"It’s really different.... It will be good to see day-to-day variations and start to see patterns... you'll get to know your plants' signals," says Ken Hollis, a plant enthusiast, from Cheshire. 
Hearing and seeing what plants are telling us is, however, just one part of the Phytl Signs story. 
“By analysing the signals that plants use for internal communication we can start to unlock the messages within them,” says Nigel Wallbridge, Tech entrepreneur and co-founder of Vivent Sárl (the company behind the device). “Is a plant under attack from pests? Does it need water? Understanding what our plants are saying is exciting for everyone – from those who would like to take better care of their plants, to those interested in nature, the environment, sustainability, the future of food production... the possibilities are far reaching.”  
Through Phytl Signs you can be part of a community of people helping to decode the language of plants. You will be able to share your observations about the signals your plants are emitting and hear from others about their experiences too. And the signals your plants emit can be captured and analysed with those collected from Phytl Signs devices all over the world. This is crowdsourced data in action, real citizen science! 
Dr Robert Degli-Agosti of the University of Geneva, says: “The experiments that people do at home, when wisely collated will provide important pointers for very serious and disciplined academic or industrial research projects.” 
Using Phytl Signs to explore your plants’ signals provides a unique opportunity to be a plant science pioneer, and to build a deeper and more enriching relationship with your plants. The money you pledge via Kickstarter will buy the tooling and components for the first large production run, and allow the software for the app to be developed so that it is engaging, exciting and easy to use. Phytl Signs will be delivered to backers in April 2017.
You can find out more about the kickstarter project here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1538287584/phytl-signs-explorer-the-worlds-first-wearable-for