Tuesday, 6 December 2016

TV: Digging for Britain tonight at 9pm on BBC Four

Archaeology programme Digging for Britain starts a new series tonight at 9pm on BBC Four. In this episode, Dr Alice Roberts visits archaeological digs around the UK, starting with the west of Britain. Fiinds include Britain's first double henge, which has been discovered just close to Stonehenge.

You can find more details here: http://www.radiotimes.com/tv-programme/e/fgrkqk/digging-for-britain--s5-e1-west

Personal Development: Make 2017 a Great Year

A lot of people I know seem to have had a pretty rough time in 2016, but life coach Michael Serwa says you can turn that around. He also says that even if you have had a good year so far, you can still make the last few weeks of the year even better.

Also, 2017 is fast approaching and many people begin to wonder what the new year will have in store for them. Michael Serwa, who claims to be a life coach to some of the UK’s most successful people, offers a straightforward approach in the world of personal development and offers some pointers to make 2017 a happy new year.

He said: “Even if you have had a good year so far, there is always room for improvement. You don’t need to make one big difference to your life to improve it. You can make the new year great by making a series of small changes daily.

“You can start by setting yourself goals. It is the single most important thing you can do for your own personal development. These don’t have to be work-related goals either; they can be financial, personal and physical. To put it simply, it’s whatever you feel you want to change. If you do not have goals you are like a boat without a sail. The winds of life will blow and you’ll find yourself drifting. When you have a sail, you can catch the wind and use it to push yourself in the direction you want to go. A key tip is to chart your progress. This way you can see the changes you have made. Goals are simply dreams with deadlines.

“Stop making excuses. I love saying: ‘If you really want to do something, you will find a way. If you don’t, you will find an excuse.’ If we look for an excuse to not do something we will find one. There is no reason to let something stop you doing what you love. If you have a concept that you could talk about for hours, why not put that idea into action? Break it down into smaller tasks you can do every day and soon you’ll realise the positive developments you have made in your life. Quit making excuses and do what you want to do.

“We all should be trying new things. The start of a new year is exciting. It is when the Christmas season is over and you’ve been able to wind down and begin the year fresh. If you’ve been given a new start, then why keep doing the same actions? You must make yourself do something different. Try listening to new music, eating different food and travelling to unfamiliar destinations. It’s all about expanding your horizons and learning about yourself. This can be fun and is easier to do than you think. Think about what you can do to make your life better. Try meditation, it isn’t for everyone but it can help you become more focused, peaceful and productive.

“Stop criticising yourself. We are our own biggest critics, nobody is as harsh on us as we are on ourselves. Why do we do this? If we do this in front of others it gives them to opportunity to criticise us. The only relationship you can be 100% certain of is the one you have with yourself. You can’t have a break from yourself. By making yourself the top priority you’ll save the relationship and understand how great you are. Be kind to yourself and you’ll feel a lot better for it.

“Don’t try to be perfect. It will lead to a life of disappointment. It is impossible to be perfect in anything or for anyone. Instead you should do your best and if that isn’t enough for someone then let them not be happy with it. The happiest people are often the ones who don’t try to be perfect.”

Michael Serwa is the author of From Good to Amazing: No Bullsh*t Tips for The Life You Always Wanted.  It is a collection of tips from different areas of personal development and assists readers in changing their lifestyles for the better.

Michael Serwa: http://michaelserwa.com
Event Link: http://bit.ly/2fCacP5
Coaching programmes: http://michaelserwa.com/programmes/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/M_Serwa

Monday, 5 December 2016

Pagan Eye: Minoan Priestess by Austin Osman Spare

I seem to be noticing Minoan-style art all over the place at the moment. I recently reviewed The Minoan Coloring Book, by Laura Perry, then I saw this picture of a Minoan Priestess at The Atlantis Bookshop, in London, when I was there at the Crowleymass party on Thursday. It is part of the shop's current exhibition called A Focus on a Life, celebrating the life and work of occult artist Austin Osman Spare.

The exhibition runs until 18 December and is open from 11am to 6pm from Monday to Saturday and noon to 5pm on Sundays. The Atlantis Bookshop is at 49A Museum St, London WC1A 1LY. Entry is by catalogue, which costs £5. For more details, email atlantis@theatlantisbookshop.com or call 020 7405 2120.

On each Pagan Eye post, 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 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.

Links and previous related posts

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Two Books on Traditional Witchcraft

I'm really looking forward to reading these two books on traditional witchcraft that I've been sent to review. They are both from Mandrake of Oxford.

One is called Craft of the Untamed and is described as "an inspired vision of Traditional Witchcraft". It is by Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold. The second is called Village Witch. It is by Cassandra Latham-Jones and is about life as a village wisewoman in the wilds of west Cornwall.

The books were sent to me by Mogg Morgan of Mandrake of Oxford, who also let me know a talk called Surrealism and The Occult by Nadia Choucha, which is on at Treadwell’s in London on Tuesday 13 December.

It is based on her book of the same title, which I have to admit has been one I own, but it has been sitting on my pile of books to read for rather a long time. You can find out more about the talk here: http://mandrake.uk.net/surrealism-the-occult-nadia-choucha-at-treadwells/

All of these titles can be ordered through Mandrake of Oxford, Treadwell's Bookshop or Amazon.

Links and previous related posts

Friday, 2 December 2016

Pagan Eye: Aleister Crowley's Hat and Pipe

Here is a photo of Aleister Crowley's hat and pipe on display last night at Crowleymass at The Atlantis Bookshop in London. The annual party is a celebration of the life and times of the bookshop's most notorious customer, Mr Crowley. He is reputed to have used the pipe to smoke opium. Other items on display included pictures by him and menu cards in his handwriting.

The Austin Osman Spare exhibition, which starts today at The Atlantis Bookshop, also contains a picture of Mr Crowley by Mr Spare. Everyone who went to Crowleymass got a little preview of the exhibition and it is well worth visiting.

The Atlantis Bookshop is at 49A Museum St, London WC1A 1LY. For more details and to reserve a place email atlantis@theatlantisbookshop.com or call 020 7405 2120.

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.

Links and previous related posts:

Book Release: Merlin Once and Future Wizard

A new book by Elen Sentier is being launched next week. It is called Merlin - Once and Future Wizard. It is in the Pagan Portals series, which is the same series as my own book on candle magic.

I was delighted to get a chance to read Merlin - Once and Future Wizard before it went to the printers and I wrote this endorsement for the back cover:
I’ve always loved reading tales of Merlin. In this book Elen Sentier gives a fascinating and personal account of the magical lessons she has learnt through shamanic journeying with the most famous wizard of the British Isles.
Publisher Moon Books says about Merlin:
Bestselling author Elen Sentier looks at Merlin in history and mythology and considers his continuing relevance for people today. Best known as the wizard from the Arthurian stories, Merlin has been written about for well over 1,000 years and is considered to be both a magical and historical figure. Over the centuries many people have had relationships with Merlin and in this book the author brings him to life for us once again in yet another way and from yet another perspective.
You can pre-order the book via Amazon

Thursday, 1 December 2016

News: Witchcraft, Witch Hunts, Harry Potter, Spell

"The story of the last ‘witch’ burned alive in Ireland" - story at The Irish Times: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/offbeat/the-story-of-the-last-witch-burned-alive-in-ireland-1.2880691

"Tales of Perthshire witchcraft" - story at The Courier: https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/perth-kinross/317751/tales-of-perthshire-witchcraft/

"Harry Potter designers have been hiding a character in the movies' fake newspapers for years" - story at Business Insider: http://uk.businessinsider.com/ginger-witch-harry-potter-fantastic-beasts-2016-11?r=US&IR=T

"White witch sheds TEN STONE in a year, thanks to weight loss spell" - story at Birmingham Mail: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/white-witch-sheds-ten-stone-12252043

Folklore: Early December and Tree Dressing Day

At the start of December, Christmas trees are being put up and decorated all over the country. But there are also folklore traditions associated with tree dressing.

One modern custom is Tree Dressing Day, which falls on the first weekend of December each year. It was started by charity Common Ground in 1990 as an expression of a love for trees and a chance for communities to gather and celebrate them. This year, community events are being encouraged with the support of the Woodland Trust, which has produced a pack of ideas you can download.

The Common Ground website says:
Tree dressing is a powerful way of expressing our relationship with trees. Organising a Tree Dressing Day in your community is a wonderful way of saying ‘thank you’ to the trees where you live. It is also the ideal moment to share tree stories with friends, neighbours and colleagues. This year – and every year – join the many thousands of people across the UK who celebrate Tree Dressing Day and make sure your community’s voice is heard by saying thank you to the trees in your neighbourhood.
Common Ground also says that Tree Dressing Day is a chance for people to reflect on the social and cultural history of their area, and the role trees have played in shaping this story. It mentions that tree dressing is based on many old seasonal, magical and spiritual customs from all over the world. The website goes on to list some of them, including:

  • The practice in Japan of decorating trees with strips of white paper, or tanzaku, bearing wishes and poems. 
  • The modern trend of ‘yarn bombing’ - wrapping bright fabrics and yarns around trees.
  • The Buddhist tradition of tying ribbons around the trunk of the Bodhi tree in homage to Buddha.
  • The annual Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan when coloured strings are tied to trees to call upon the power of nature to protect loved ones.
  • The "Celtic" custom of tying cloth dipped in water from a holy well to a "clootie tree"

Now, I am sure many pagans in the UK are going to wince at that last one. Although there are historic customs at some holy wells for attaching tiny strips of natural fabric to trees as clooties or clouties and then allowing them to be disintigrated by the elements, it has got a bit out of hand. Too many well-meaning but misguided people are tying manmade fabric that doesn't rot to trees all over the country, even in places where it wasn't traditional.

These are often causing a huge build-up of stuff that can actually damage the trees and even harm wildlife. Volunteers then have to spend their time removing it to preserve the landscape, which isn't ideal. I have blogged about an exhibition related to that in the past, and you can read it here: http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2015/04/event-numinous-clouties-transformed-in.html

Nevertheless, I love the idea of Tree Dressing Day - especially if the items that the trees are being decorated with will be removed by Twelfth Night or are quickly biodegradable, such as paper, natural fibres or unfired clay shapes. Or you could hang nuts and slices of fruit on the branches for wildlife to enjoy.

You can download a free Tree Dressing resource pack here: https://www.commonground.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Tree-Dressing-Download-Pack-1.pdf

The photo at the top shows a decorated tree in a south London garden. The other show controversial tree dressing at Camlet Moat. All pictures are copyright Lucya Starza.