Thursday, 13 December 2018

The Night of Dark Lucy: 2 Books on Christmas Folklore

Today is St Lucy or St Lucya's Day. It is my name day and I've long known that it was traditionally a feast day in which a girl dressed in white, wearing a crown of candles would parade around villages symbolising bringing light at the darkest time of the year.

I'd also been vaguely aware that there was a darker side to this folk custom. The book Christmas in Ritual and Tradition: Christian and Pagan, by Clement A. Miles, first published in 1912, offered the following details:
In central Europe we see St. Lucia in other aspects. In the Böhmerwald she goes round the village in the form of a nanny-goat with horns, gives fruit to the good children, and threatens to rip open the belly of the naughty. Here she is evidently related to the pagan monsters already described. In Tyrol she plays a more graceful part: she brings presents for girls, an office which St. Nicholas is there supposed to perform for boys only.
I blogged about it back in 2015 in a post called Festival of the Week: St Lucya or Lucia's Day

However, I've just learnt that a whole new book has been published about the darker side of Christmas folklore. It is The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas: Roots and Rebirth of the Folkloric Devil by Al Ridenour, and it has a long section on dark Lucy. In part of that, he says:
The "dark Lucy" seems to be derived from from the mythologies of Perchta, Holda, or the Slavic witch Baba Yaga. She's widely distributed, from Bavaria, through eastern Austria, Hungary the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia and Western Croatia. She also appeared in Scandinavia, particularly Sweden, where St Lucy's wicked counterpart, the Lussi, was well known for haunting the Lussinatta (Lucy Night). On this night she flies through the sky like Holda, or the Wild Hunter, with her ghostly retinue called the Lussen, Lussiner, or the Lussiguber.
Last night I listened to Al Ridenour's podcast, Bone and Sickle, in which he goes into a lot more details about dark Lucy and other related scary Christmas folktales. I'm going to be putting The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas on my wish list too, as it is a book a certainly want to read.

You can view The Krampus and the Old Dark Christmas on Amazon and you can also view the older book, Christmas in Ritual and Tradition: Christian and Pagan, on Amazon.

Links and previous related posts

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Pagan Events for Yule and the Winter Solstice

Here are some of the events in London plus a few in other parts of southern England over the Winter Solstice that could be of interest to pagans. However, you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful Yuletide.

Now - 9 January 2019; Spellbound: Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft exhibition in Oxford. Venue: Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont St, Oxford OX1 2PH. Tickets: £6/£11.25/£12.25.  You can also view the exhibition catalogue, Spellbound, on Amazon.

Now - 12 January 2019; Divine Proportions. Dinner cabaret from Shotgun Carousel, based on the story of Dionysus, God of Pleasure and Mischief. Venue: The Vaults, Arch 234-236, Leake Street, London, SE1 7NN. Tuesday - Sunday, doors open 6.30pm. Tickets: Previews: £30, general admission: £35/£55.

Now – Tuesday 19 February 2019; Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War. Exhibition at the British Library. Venue: PACCAR Gallery, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB. Full price tickets £16.

Now - 24 February 2019. I am Ashurbanipal, King of the World, King of Assyria. Exhibition at the British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. For more details visit:

Now to Sun 17 Mar 2019; Cats on the Page - free exhibition that includes a section on witches' cats. Venue: The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB.

Wednesday 12 December; Drink and Draw Night: Occulty Yule Themed Carminella Knight and friends. Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 7pm start. Tickets £10. Tel: 0207 419 8507 or email:

Wednesday 12 December; Time to Meditate - group meditation (every Wednesday). Venue: Buddha on a Bicycle, Covent Garden, London. Arrive 6pm for 6.10pm start. Donations of £3 recommended. Details:

Wednesday 12 December; Cunning Folk London Album Launch Party. Venue: Shortwave Cafe, Clements Road, Bermondsey, London SE16 4DG. Time: 7pm. Free event.

Thursday 13 December; John Matthews and Will Worthington on the Spirit of Nature Oracle. Talk at 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 13 December; Earthstars Group Meeting Alban Arthan, Light of Winter at Earthstars Group. Venue: Rudolf Steiner House, 35 Park Rd, Marylebone, London NW1 6XT. Doors open 7pm. Entry by donation.

Thursday 13 December; The Secret Journey of Doctor Dee. Storyteller Vanessa Woolf at South East London Folklore Society (SELFS). Venue: The Old King's Head, Kings Head Yard, 45-49 Borough High St, London SE1 1NA. Entry: £5/£1.50 concessions. Time: 8pm. (Meetings are normally the second Thursday of each month.) To guarantee a seat, email

Friday 14 December; Saturnalia and the Pagan Origins of Christmas. Lecture by Sam Moorhead. Venue: BP Lecture Theatre, Room 26, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Time: 6pm.Tickets: £5.. For more details visit:

Friday 14 December; Celtic Drum Circle Hosted by Seán Ryan. Venue: Aho Studio, 13 Prince Edward Rd, London, E9 5LX. Time: 7pm. Tickets: £10.

Friday 14 December; The Nest Collective Yule Celebration at the Foundling Museum including storytelling with Vanessa Woolf of London Dreamtime. Venue: Brunswick Square, London, WC1, United Kingdom. Time: 7pm. Tickets: Tickets £12, £10 concessions & Foundling Friends (£14/12 on the door) For more details email or visit

Saturday 15-Sunday 16 December; two days of talks and workshops at the Henge Shop, High Street, Avebury, Wiltshire, SN8 1RF. Details:

Saturday 15 December; Early Egyptian Creation Myths - gallery talk. Venue: Room 4, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Time: 1.15pm. Free event. For more details visit:

Sunday 16 December; Shamanic workshop. Venue: Woodford Church at 9 Grove Crescent, South Woodford London, E18 2JR. Time: 11am-4pm. Cost: £10 pay at door.

Sunday 16 December; The Art of Being: Love in the Afternoon. A warm winter workshop of nourishing connection. Venue: 42 Acres, 66 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4LW. Time: 1.45pm. Tickets: £35. For more details visit:

Sunday 16 December; A Blot for Holda hosted by Geoff Miles (this is instead of the Dawn of the Oak Moot). Venue: Greenwich Park, Blackheath Avenue, London SE10 8QY. Time: 1pm.

Sunday 16 December; Informal social gathering for members of the Red Tent Meetup Group. Venue in south east London. Time: 4pm. Meetings are free but you will have to pay for food and drink bought at the venue.

Sunday 16 December; Luna Iter - Journey of the moon - for Pagan and Wiccan Seekers with Luna Iter- Wiccan Seekers London NE. Pub moot followed by a ritual close to each full moon. Venue: Old Ship Inn, Hackney. Moot starts at 4.30pm, then at 6pm moving to a historic site for the ritual. Fee: £4/£5.

Sunday 16 December; Winter Solstice Pagan Celebration with Rev Kate Dean at Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, 3 Pilgrim's Place, London NW3 1NG. Time: 7pm. Tel: 020 7433 3267.

Monday 17 December; Winter Solstice: Shaman healer Chris Waters will lead a magical invocation, ritual and ceremony at Alternatives. Venue: St James's Church, 197 Piccadilly, W1J 9LL. Doors open 6.30pm. Event starts: 7pm. Tickets £20 online.

Monday 17 December; The Folklore of Christmas: Cunning Folk Calendar Club. Venue: Shelverdine Goathouse, 7-8 High Street, London SE25 6EP. Time: 7pm.

Monday 17 December; Pagan Pathfinders. Meeting suitable for all pagans in Finchley, London N3. Time: 7.30pm. (Meeting is usually on the 3rd Monday each month.) Free, but bring food and drink to share. Contact Pagan Pathfinders for more details:

Tuesday 18 December; Tuesday afternoon workshop with Patricia Mc Nally and Daniel Naughnane, known for their spiritual art. Venue: Woodford Church at 9 Grove Crescent, South Woodford, London E18 2JR. Time: 2.30pm-5.30pm. Cost: £6/£5.

Tuesday 18 December; Witches of London Gathering. Venue: front bar of the Cittie of Yorke, 22 High Holborn, London WC1V 6BS. Starting 7.30pm. Meets on the third Tuesday of each month. For any questions email or visit

Wednesday 19 December; Winter Solstice Open Circle at More Mead Moot with Pagan FutureFests. Venue: Hope Pub, 48 West Street, Carshalton SM5 2PR. Time: from 7.30pm. Meets on the third Wednesday of each month.  details:

Thursday 20 December; Morning tour: an introduction to ancient Egypt. Venue: Room 4, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Time: 8.50am. Tickets £30. For more details visit:

Thursday 20 December; PFL Winter Solstice Open Ritual with London Reclaiming. Venue: Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL. Time: 7.30pm. Entry: £6/£5 (PF members and concessions).

Friday 21 December; Winter Solstice Festival: Wheel of the Year Meditation and Singing. Venue: Chalice Well World Peace Garden, in Glastonbury. Gather at the well head for midday meditation until 12.30pm, followed by conversation on the lower lawn, then Winter Solstice singing at 2pm. Free admission to the gardens from 10am to noon. For more details, visit the website

Saturday 22 December; Stonehenge Winter Solstice Managed Open Access with a celebration at sunrise at the stone circle. Free entry is allowed from 7.45am, but car parking costs £5. For full details:

Saturday 22 December; Winter Solstice with Kent Gorsedd at Coldrum Stones, Neolithic Long Barrow, Trottiscliffe, Kent. Meet in the carpark before the event. Time: noon.

Saturday 22 December; Sisters of the Stones of Caer Abiri Winter Solstice Circle at Avebury in Wiltshire. Time: meet at 1pm, event starts 1.30pm. Free to attend.

Saturday 22 December; Yule Winter Solstice Ceremony with Watchers of the Old Ways at the Rollright Stones, off the A3400, Chipping Norton OX7 5QB. Time: Picnic from 1pm then ritual from 2pm - 3.30pm.

Saturday 22 December; Woodland Mid-Winter Ritual and Yule Celebrations with London Woodland Witches and Pagans. Location: Queen's Woods, Near Highgate Station. Meet at the Woodman pub at 2pm to walk to the woods. Tickets: £5/£3. Details:

Saturday 22 December; Full Moon Celebration - The Journey Home. Venue: She's Lost Control, 42 Valentine Road, London E9 7AD. Time: 7pm-9.30pm. Tickets: £35.

Sunday 23 December; Full Moon 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:

Sunday 23 December, Winter Solstice Celebration on Primrose Hill with the Loose Association of Druids. Gather in the Hawthorne Grove at Primrose Hill, London, NW1 8YH, between 12.30pm and 12.45pm to prepare the site ready for a prompt 1pm start. Nearest tube: Chalk Farm. Bring a small contribution of food and drink to share. All are welcome.

Sunday 23 December; Holly King – an ancient Pagan midwinter celebration for parents and children. Venue: Butser Ancient Farm, Chalton Lane, Petersfield PO8 0BG. Two sessions: 10.30am – 11.30am and 12.30pm to 1.30pm. Tickets £10.

Sunday 23 December; Christmas Vigil for the Outcast at Crossbones to honour The Goose and the outcast dead of Cross Bones Graveyard. Bring a flower, a ribbon, a totem or memento to tie to the shrine. Gather from 6.45pm for a 7pm start in Redcross Way outside the Memorial Gates, London SE1 1TA. For more details, visit or

Note: I do not organise any of these events. Although I try to make sure my listings are accurate, I am not responsible for late changes or ticket availability. Please contact the organisers before attending any event. If you notice something that needs correcting or changing - or if you want an event to be listed on my events page in future - please email me at

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Book Finds: Discworld Map & Nanny Ogg's Cookbook

I do love finding bargains in charity shops. These two second-hand additions to my library were an early Yule present to myself when I was supposedly out looking for new gifts for other people. Oh well, you have to treat yourself too - and they were pretty inexpensive.

I'm not quite sure that the Discworld map will have any practical use, but Nanny Ogg's Cookbook is definitely going to come in handy. A friend of mine owns a copy of this already and we had great fun at a party once making strawberry wobblers. I might serve them up for a festive feast of my own this holiday - it should give people a giggle.

Sadly, I won't be able to make Nanny Ogg's gingerbread men because the recipe was censored. [I do love the supposed "editor's comments" in this book.] Apparently it is impossible to find pastry cutters in that shape too... (I bet they would have been better than my attempt at gingerbread angels that looked like upside-down moose heads!)

If you are interested, you can view Nanny Ogg's Cookbook on Amazon.

Links and previous related posts

Monday, 10 December 2018

Magical Dolls: Yule Tree Fairy & Angel Folklore

The bringing of greenery into the home is an old tradition for the time around the Midwinter Solstice on December 21, probably dating back to ancient pagan times. However, the decorating of Christmas trees didn’t start until the 15th or 16th century in Germany and Scandinavia.

At first things like biscuits were hung from the trees, but decorations grew more elaborate. The tree-topper came later, but was originally a star – a symbol for the star of Bethlehem. Angel dolls as tree toppers generally represented Gabriel, the messenger of God in the Christmas story. In the UK, decorated fir trees only became popular in Victorian times.

Pictures of Queen Victoria’s Christmas tree, complete with angel doll, appeared in newspapers and started a trend. Then in England in the 20th century the angel tree-toppers developed into a passion for fairy dolls, which reached a peak from about the 1950s up to the 1970s, but you can still get them, of course.

Many of us have ones that have been handed down in our family as a treasured item. The one in the photo to the left is one that is still put on the tree every year in the home of my relatives.

Where did the idea of the Christmas tree fairy come from? According to History of the Christmas Fairy Doll by Susan Brewer, an old folkloric belief was that fairies slept in holly during the winter months. Holly has a long history of being used to decorate homes for the winter festival, presumably bringing fairies with it.

However, as Susan Brewer points out, fairies were originally considered dangerous. In Victorian times good fairies started to prevail over bad ones and the Victorians associated them with Christmas as well as with summer. In pantomimes, it was usually the good fairy or fairy godmother who helped the heroes defeat the villain. They might have moved from the panto to the tree.

One idea is that Yule tree decorations, as well as looking bright and cheerful at the darkest time of the year, act as magical protection.

Anything wishing to cause trouble around the home would be attracted by the shiny trinkets dangling from the tree, which would take their attention away from the mischief they had in mind. A fairy or angel on the top could be considered the ultimate guardian overseeing this as well as bringing joy and delight to those celebrating the midwinter festival – whatever we call it.

Who wouldn’t want a guardian angel or fairy watching over them, especially at Christmas or Yuletide?

You can easily craft your own dolls to represent this. Earlier this month I blogged with instructions to make an angle or fairy Yule tree hanging ornament and how to make an easy angel tree topper.

You can view History of the Christmas Fairy Doll on Amazon and also view my own book, Pagan Portals - Poppets and Magical Dolls on Amazon.

The photos on this page show handmade angels on my own Yule tree, my family fairy doll and Christmas angel dolls dating from 1910-1920, at the Museum of Childhood.

Links and previous related posts:

Friday, 7 December 2018

Review: A Look Inside Wicca Moon's Yule Ritual Box

The run-up to the Yule festivities is always so busy, isn't it?  One thing I'm not going to be worrying about though is what to do for my Winter Solstice ritual, because I have a lovely Yule Ritual Box from Wicca Moon.

It arrived a few days ago and I opened up the box with delight and put the the hanging decorations from it (pictured right) straight on my tree.

However, I only just found time to sit down and read through the pretty scroll in the picture at the top. It contains a Yuletide ritual and information about seasonal magic and folklore.

I've also had a closer inspection of all the goodies that came with it in the box.  Here's my review.

All of the Wicca Moon Wheel of the Year boxes contain a wealth of information about the season, the approaching festival and spells and activities you can try out. This time there is information on the folklore of holly, ivy, mistletoe, pine, yew, wreaths and kissing boughs, as well as a recipe for magical fruit bread and instructions to make a Yuletide charm. Then, of course, there's details for a full ritual suitable for a solitary practitioner.

Before the ritual, you are invited to take a luxurious bath with handmade herb mixture and soap (pictured at the bottom of this post). You can then anoint yourself with ritual oil, also provided in the kit. All the products smell wonderful.

When you are cleansed, you then adorn your altar with other items from the box. These include the lovely handmade ceramic statue of the Winter Goddess that you can see in the picture (above left) with a pine cone and crystals in a pouch.

I really love that statue. This is the second Goddess statue I've had from Wicca Moon. The Ostara Ritual Kit contained a beautiful pottery Goddess of fertility. It does make sense to have both summer and winter goddesses to mark the changing seasons, and both of the small statues are perfect for an altar.

There are also other items with which to decorate your altar, including an altar cloth, a sleigh bell and glitter.

The ritual itself is nice and simple - just what I prefer for a solitary rite. You burn the incense and jar candle and say some words to honour the light of hope in the darkest time of the year.

The Yule Ritual Box actually contains two candles. As well as the white, scented one in a jar, there is a handmade red and green beeswax candle that would be lovely as an altar light. You can see both the candles, together with the glitter and large box of incense, in the photo above right.

Although I haven't burnt the candles yet - I'm saving them for the Winter Solstice - I have opened up all the jars and tried out an incense cone. The scent that filled the room evoked the spirit of midwinter just by itself!

During the ceremony, you consecrate the lovely pentacle plate (pictured above left) that is included in the kit. It is intended as a focus for new energies in the coming year. After that, you celebrate with food and drink and thank the Goddess for her wisdom and care. (The food and drink don't come in the box - you'll have to get your own mulled tipple and mince pie.)

I've had all of Wicca Moon's seasonal ritual boxes this year and they have really impressed me. I've loved receiving them in the post, opening them up and using everything inside. This one is the best of the lot. I would recommend it to any pagan or witch who wants to treat herself to a lovely Yuletide present.

Pagan supply shop Wicca Moon is at 50 Well Hall Road, Eltham, London, SE9 6SH. You can also order the Yule Ritual Kit online here:

Links and previous related posts

News: Witches, Stonehenge & Winter Solstice Folklore

Here's a round-up of recent news stories including details of Stonehenge being "damaged", Yuletide folkore customs, witches and witchcraft:

"Stonehenge site 'damaged' by engineers working on tunnel" - story at BBC News:

"The terrifying and weird tradition of the Mari Lwyd which is celebrated every December" - story at Daily Post North Wales

"13 Fascinating Winter Solstice Traditions Around the World" - story at Reader's Digest:

"Who is Krampus? Explaining the Horrific Christmas Beast" - story at National Geographic:

"The rise and rise of Wicca" - interesting interview with a sociologist at MercatorNet:

"A spellbinding hike up the Hill of the Witch" - story at Irish Times:

"All the Witches They Could Not Burn" - story at Boston Review:

"Why I believe a witch knew the magic of Meghalaya's Sacred Forest" - story at DailyO: Why I believe a witch knew the magic of Meghalaya's Sacred Forest

"Meet The People Trying to Keep Assam's 'Witches' Alive" - story at VICE:

"'Witch' goes on trial for boiling girl in a cauldron: Teenager suffered serious burns after she was dropped into hot water at German carnival" - story at the Daily Mail:

"Russian sicko carries severed blood-drenched head of his 'witch' lover after beheading her inside his flat" - story at The Sun: