Monday, 27 June 2016

Glastonbury Festival: More Mud Max than Mad Max


Glastonbury Festival this year kind of felt like a party in some post-apocalyptic pleasuredome as the world fell to ruin. You might be thinking that the pictures I've posted here don't exactly show civilised conditions, but I have to say that despite a 10-hour traffic jam to get through the 12-foot high steel fence that surrounds the site and sometimes ankle-deep mud once you got in, the festival felt like the last enclave of humankindness while outside people turned on each other with increasing viciousness.

I'm rather glad I had almost no phone signal as the news coming in made me feel very sad. I honestly don't mind how people voted - we live in a democracy and everyone should be able to express their wishes at the ballot box. It is the anger, hatred and even violence by some people against those who disagreed with them that makes me feel we are now living in dark times.

Yet I had a wonderful time at Glastonbury Festival. I sang at the stone circle with the Shakti Sings Choir, learnt about the science of music at a live recording of The Infinite Monkey Cage, was entertained by singer/comedians Beans on Toast and Mitch Benn, and listened to an amazing range of music from bands including Hobo Jone and the Junkyard Dogs, The Alarm, Squeeze, Madness, Muse, Mercury Rev and ELO.

More than the music, I enjoyed spending real time with my friends - not just chatting to them over social media. And I always enjoy the Glastonbury Vibe - that little flame from the Summer of Love that is kept alive in Somerset and fills the festival with the spirit of peace and friendship. I hope that everyone who was there - and those who couldn't get tickets but watched on TV - can take just a little of that back into the world. Because maybe, just maybe, that light of peace, love and - most of all - understanding, can help us through the darkness to a future where we can all learn to live in harmony.


Friday, 24 June 2016

Question: Would We Be Better Off Without the Internet?

Apparently Sunday 26 June is National Unplugging Day. It was brought about by parents in the UK who think that technology is taking over their lives and is damaging their children. The are urging individuals to unplug on Sunday 26 June 2016 in celebration of the second annual National Unplugging Day.

The idea is that by turning off their smartphones, tablets and computers for 24 hours people can experience a day of life unplugged - they way it used to be before the internet and mobile phones were invented. The day of unplugging recognises the value of technology in today's society while trying to encourage people - especially families and children who have grown up with ever-present technology - to be more mindful of their digital usage. This day is not intended to be a one-off, but rather a starting point to encourage people of all ages to embrace a healthy lifestyle by regularly setting aside time away from their digital devices.

According to information from National Unplugging Day organisers, some parenting experts have warned that digital devices are harming relationships, stopping the young from developing face-to-face communication skills and teaching children that disappearing into digital devices for hours is a healthy activity.

Parenting website MyFamilyClub carried out a study with more than 2,000 parents from across the UK, which found that the average parent spends up to 5 hours per day on a smartphone. Typically their children are spending similar times using screens with 80% of children spending 4-5 hours per day on digital devices and with 15% of children spending in excess of 6 hours of screen time across various devices.

Nearly all the parents surveyed (87%) said that technology is damaging to their children’s childhood and nearly all the parents surveyed (94%) wanted the tech industry to help educate them and offer guidelines for safe usage. The statistics also show that more than half of parents (51%) would like to go back to the days of no technology or smartphones and a life less complicated.

The survey also discovered that 41% of parents agreed that family times are ruined from digital distractions and 42% of parents said they use technology to calm their children down or to stop family arguments.

Parenting expert Gemma Johnson founder of MyFamilyClub.co.uk says “As a parent I experience the struggle trying to juggle work and family life and the additional demands of existing in a digital world. We all lead busy lives but it is so important to lead by example with our device usage, boundaries are set by the parents first We want to encourage the nation to put away their digital devices, unplug and pledge to spend time doing something different with their children such as going out for a bike ride, going the park, learning a new activity or taking a walk in the woods.”

I think the idea of National Unplugging Day could appeal to many pagans with young children. As for me, I will be at Glastonbury Festival on 26 June and I won't be turning off my mobile phone as it is the best way to find out where my friends if we get separated in the massive festival site.

But what do you think?  Will you be unplugging on Sunday?  Do you think we were better off in the days before the internet and mobile phones?

Links and previous related post
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2008/02/material-things.html
http://myfamilyclub.co.uk/
www.nationalunpluggingday.co.uk

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Collecting Magical Herbs on St John's Eve & Feast Day


Today is St John's Eve and traditionally a time when wisewomen collected several types of plants and herbs for healing and for magic. These included fennel, rue, rosemary, lemon verbena, mallows, laburnum, foxgloves and elder flowers - although laburnum and foxglove are now considered poisonous.

Tomorrow, on the Feast of St John, it was customary to gather St John's Wort. This perennial herb with yellow flowers has long been seen as a means to keep evil away magically and as a medicine. It is still used to treat depression today. From at least medieval times the herb has been hung over doors and windows to keep away evil spirits and wicked witches (although I am sure more than a few witches used the herb as well). In some areas, the yellow flowers are dipped in a bowl of water and left outside exposed to the dew of night until the following morning, when people use the flower water to wash their faces.

The is a photo of St John's Wort growing in the Horniman Museum Gardens. The Knights Hospitallers would have used the herb for its healing properties, which were well known, but it probably got its name because it starts to bloom around 24 June, St John’s Day.

Note: This is not medical advice, always consult a qualified medical herbalist before taking any herbal remedy.

Links and previous related posts:
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2016/04/games-pepys-wild-flowers-and-learning.html
http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypericum_perforatum
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2015/07/pagan-eye-echinacea-flowers-in-bloom.html
http://www.horniman.ac.uk/

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

This Week's Pagan Events In and Near London


Here are details of some of the events in and near London over the next week or so that could be of interest to pagans.

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 - 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 22 June; Free Lunchtime Meditation near Bond Street. Part of the free lunchtime events listed by Light in London. Venue is shown to members of the group. Time: 1pm. Free. Details: http://www.meetup.com/Light-in-London/

Thursday 23 June; St John's Eve Festival, Crossbones Bards and Vigil. A guided tour with performances by Crossbones Bards in the Crossbones Garden of Remembrance on the site of the outcasts' burial ground. Followed by the Vigil at the gates in Redcross Way and a ceremony for St John's Eve. Venue: Crossbones Graveyard (Union St entrance) SE1 1SD. Garden opens at 5pm for performances, vigil at 7pm. The event is free, but donations are welcome. Bring a cushion to sit on. For more details, visit http://www.crossbones.org.uk/

Thursday 23 June; The Gift of An Angel. Talk and book signing with Wendy Erlick 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.watkinsbooks.com/

Thursday 23 June; Connect with the Source: Crown Chakra Meditation with Sound Journey run by Himesh with the London College of Spirituality. Venue: Columbia Hotel (Regency Suite), 95 - 99 Lancaster Gate W2 3NS,. Time: 7pm. Tickets £15. Details and booking: http://www.meetup.com/londonspirituality

Thursday 23 June; Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki talking about The Hidden Symbolism in Fairy Tales. Venue: The Atlantis Bookshop, 49a Museum Street, London, WC1A 1LY. Starts: 7pm. Tickets: £25 per person. Advannce booking essential. Tel: 020 7405 2120 or email atlantis@theatlantisbookshop.com.

Thursday 23 June; Constructing Magical Prague: Ghettos, The Golem and the Alchemical Emperor. Lecture by Dr John Callow hosted by London Fortean Society. Venue: The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX. Tickets: £4/£2. Time: 7.30pm. https://www.wegottickets.com/event/362370

Friday 24 June; Talk and book signings by Byron Katie at Watkins Books, 19-21 Cecil Court, London WC2N 4EZ. Time: 6pm. Free event. For further information, phone 020 7836 2182 or visit http://www.watkinsbooks.com/

Friday 24 June; Anthony Kesner Presents his Students. The College of Psychic Studies, 16 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2EB. Time: 7pm-8.30pm. Cost: £10/£12. Advance booking advised. For further details call: 020 7589 3292 or visit https://www.collegeofpsychicstudies.co.uk/

Saturday 25 June; John Michell Symposium 2016: the Earth Spirit. Venue: Workers Guild, Bloomsbury, London. Time: 10am-5pm. Tickets £50/£45 concessions; £25 students, from Stephen Overy (01233) 813 663, or email gen@temenos.myzen.co.uk. You can find out more on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/events/239767086374585/

Saturday 25 June; Complete Wicca - A one day woodland-based Course for Beginners with London Woodland Witches Wiccans Ritual Magicians and Pagans. One-day course teaching the basics of Wicca and aimed at newcomers to the Craft. Meet at The Windmill Cafe, Wimbledon Windmill Museum, Windmill Road, Wimbledon Common, SW19 5NR at 11.30am to walk to nearby woods for the outdoor workshop. Price: £27 per person, pay online. Details: http://www.meetup.com/London-Woodland-Witches-Outdoor-Pagans/

Saturday 25 June - Sunday 26 June; Traditional Village Craft. Weekend workshop teaching the traditional Craft of the Wise with Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki. Venue: Islington Ecology Centre, Gillespie Park, 191 Drayton Park, London N5 1PH. Time: 9.30am-5.30pm. Cost is £145 with a deposit of £75. Book early as this workshop is likely to fill up very quickly. For more information and to reserve a place contact Maria-Teresa Harmer via facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/1101131786597828/ or telephone 07963428992

Sunday 26 June; Meditation at Russell Brands Trew Era Cafe, 30 Whitmore Road, London N1 5QA. Starts 10.15am. Free event. Details: http://www.meetup.com/londonspiritualcommunity

Sunday 26 June; Blot and Picnic For Holda. Bring a picnic. Venue: Holda's Well, Greenwich Park, London, SE10 8QY. Time: 2pm-6pm. Details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1565082997121737/

Sunday 26 June; Summer Solstice Ceremony with South London Wicca Meetup. Venue: Private house in south London. Time: 2pm. Details: http://www.meetup.com/South-London-Wicca-Meetup/

Sunday 26 June; Robert Cochrane memorial rite with the London Wicca Meet-up Group. Time: 4pm-9pm. We will meet in the Woodman pub in Highgate at 4 pm first, at  6pm they group will go to Queens Wood for the memorial. For details and to book a place visit: http://www.meetup.com/The-London-Wicca-Meetup-Group/

Monday 27 June; Tarot Archetype - The World Card. Evening Mini-Workshop with  Marysia Kay . Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 7.15pm for 7.30pm start. Ticket price £10. Tel: 0207 419 8507 or email: info@treadwells-london.com http://www.treadwells-london.com/

Monday 27 June; You are the Placebo. Talk by Dr Joe Dispenza. Venue: St James's Church, 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL. Doors open 6.30pm. Talk: 7pm. Tickets £20/£15 online. For more details and to book tickets: http://www.alternatives.org.uk/

Monday 27 June; Croydon Children of Artemis Gathering has relocating to High Holborn and is now called the Witches Gathering. It now meets on the last Monday of each month. Venue: downstairs in the cellar of the Cittie of Yorke, 22 High Holborn, London WC1V 6BS. Starting for 7.30pm. onwards. For any questions email coacentral@witchcraft.org or visit http://www.witchfest.net/

Tuesday 28 June; Swords and their wielders in Anglo-Saxon England - Gallery talk at the British Museum. Venue: Room 41 , British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Time: 1.15pm-2pm. Free, just drop in. For more details visit: https://www.britishmuseum.org/

Tuesday 28 June; Women's Tent - fortifying our Self Worth - shamanic journey circle for women run by Behind The Veil - Shamanism, Venue: Organic Down to Earth Cafe, 240-242 High Street Kensington, London W8 6ND. Starts at 7pm and entry is £20. Details: http://www.meetup.com/Behind-The-Veil-Shamanism/

Tuesday 28 June; Why Make a Special Place for Meditation? Lecture by Richard Coleman. Venue: Rudolf Steiner House, 35, Park Road, London, NW1 6XT. Time: 7.30pm – 9pm. Entry £3.50 (£1 concessions, students and under 25s). No bookings required - just turn up. http://www.rsh.anth.org.uk/

Tuesday 28 June; Chertsey Moot. A social moot held on the last Tuesday of the month at the Golden Grove pub, Ruxbury Road, St Annes Hill, Chertsey, Surrey, KT16 9EN. All welcome. From 8pm to 11pm. For more details, email: sian_ap_pysgotwr@yahoo.co.uk

Wednesday 29 June; Speaking to the Dead in Dreams - Imagination, ESP or More? Talk by Cal Cooper and David Saunders. Venue: The College of Psychic Studies, 16 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2EB. Time: 7pm-8.30pm. Cost: £10/£12. Advance booking advised. For details call: 020 7589 3292 or visit https://www.collegeofpsychicstudies.co.uk/

Wednesday 29 June; 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 30 June;  Secrets of Heaven. Talk and book signing with Theresa Cheung at Watkins Books, 19-21 Cecil Court, London WC2N 4EZ. Time: 6pm. Free event. For more details Tel 020 7836 2182 or visit http://www.watkinsbooks.com/

Thursday 30 June; The Cock Lane Ghost: A London Ghost Story. Talk by Roger Clarke, author of A Natural History of Ghosts, organised by London Fortean Society. Venue: The Pipeline, 94 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EZ London. Time: 7.45pm. Tickets £4/£2. https://www.wegottickets.com/event/362476

Friday 1 July; Santa Muerte, Love Sorceress: 'Come to me .. or else!' Lecture by Andrew Chesnut. 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 1 July;  Friday Late Spectacular: In Pursuit of Pain - an evening of talks. Venue: Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE. Free event but booking advisable for talks. https://wellcomecollection.org/pain

Saturday 2 July; Making Silver Amulets. Afternoon Workshop with Jutta Rethe. Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 11am-5.30pm start. Ticket price £40. Tel: 0207 419 8507 or email: info@treadwells-london.com http://www.treadwells-london.com/

Saturday 2 July; 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. One-day festival of tarot with a range of talks.

Sunday 3 July; Meditation at Russell Brands Trew Era Cafe, 30 Whitmore Road, London N1 5QA. Starts 10.15am. Free event. Details: http://www.meetup.com/londonspiritualcommunity

Sunday 3 July; Sister Circles and Cycle Mapping for Women. Venue: The Upminster Complementary Healing and Teaching Sanctuary Pea Lane Upminster Essex, UK, RM14 2XH. Time: 7pm. Cost £30. You must reserve a place in advance and pay a deposit. Details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1142591585783071/

Note: I do not run any of these events. Although I try to make sure the details are accurate it is best to check with the organisers before attending. If you know of an event that you want listed, please email the details to me at badwitch1234@gmail.com.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

More Photos of the Solstice Sunset at Stonehenge


I am absolutely gutted because I lost most of the photos I took at Stonehenge over the Solstice on the night of 20th-21st June. The ones you see on this page and the one I posted yesterday morning are the only ones I saved out of lots.

As I was downloading them, the card from my camera corrupted. I took it to a print shop where a very kind man tried to rescue what was on it, but without success. I suppose I should be pleased that I at least managed to save these.

I promised that I would blog more about my Stonehenge adventure, so here goes.

My hubby and I decided to visit Stonehenge in the day on the 20th and then come back in the evening for a chance to get among the stones with the Open Access that English Heritage allows at the Solstice.

Despite setting off from London with four hours before before they stopped letting tourists in - which  they do at 1pm on the solstice - we managed to get there with just 5 minutes to spare. Still, it was enough to experience the usual tour of the stones and the new visitor centre - which is actually very good and worth seeing.

However, it isn't a patch on the experience of actually getting amongst the stone circle, which we did later that evening.

We walked from Amesbury - a village about 2 miles away - and arrived in time to watch the sunset and the moonrise. The stones are so much more impressive up close than they are from the usual path around them - and the energy inside the circle is incredible. It was absolutely amazing to be able to touch the stones, something I haven't done since I was a small child.

The rules this year meant that no alcohol was allowed at Stonehenge, but I didn't mind that. To be honest it was nice not to be surrounded by people who were too drunk. People were singing and drumming and the whole atmosphere was like a great party - happy and peaceful.

The sunrise on the morning of the 20th was apparently the best for years too. Well worth going to see.

Full Moon at Stonehenge at the Summer Solstice


Here's a photo I took of the full moon rising at Stonehenge last night at the Summer Solstice - the first time the two events happened at the same time since 1967. The name of the full moon was apparently the Strawberry Moon.

I will be posting more about my visit to Stonehenge later, but this was my favourite picture - and it really didn't do justice to the amazing sight of the full moon seen between the megaliths.

Oh and here is a link to a news story I found about the Strawberry Moon: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/21/strawberry-moon-lights-up-night-sky-on-summer-solstice/