Friday, 18 September 2020

Pagan Eye: Freshly Harvested Mandrake Roots

Matt Xai Malachi Porter sent me this picture of his freshly harvested mandrake roots. He wrote: 
"I just wanted to share with you this photograph of a few of my two-year mature mandrake whole roots which I have taken up from my garden from a few of my mandrake plants. I am currently working on making myself a poppet doll with one of the roots and have a large number of other plants coming close to three years old."
I'm very impressed!  Mandrake is one of the plants most closely associated with witchcraft and magic, and the roots have been used for many things including poppet-making as well as a traditional ingredient in flying ointment. It famously has the reputation of having a lethal scream when pulled from the ground. However, according to the new book Witch's Garden, this was merely "a story put about by professional root-cutters worried about losing business."

I'm delighted to see the photo of mandrake roots safely harvested, and hope Matt's poppets are a great success.

My Pagan Eye posts show photos that I find interesting - seasonal images, pagan sites, events, or just pretty pictures. 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. 

The photo at the top is copyright Matt Xai Malachi Porter. 

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Review: Witch's Garden - Plants in Folklore & Magic

Witch's Garden is the title of gorgeous new book published by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, full of fascinating information and pictures of plants in folklore, magic and traditional medicine. It is published today, but I was lucky enough to be sent a review copy a few days ago. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and I've learnt a lot.

Did you know that according to folklore only a witch or a rogue can successfully grow the common herb parsley? That must be why the pot on my kitchen windowsill is doing so well, while other herbs there struggle. Apparently, if you aren't a witch, the best way to get it is to steal it. It can also be used in a curse: speaking someone's name aloud while picking it is one way to wish their death. So, better not piss off anyone who's planning a nice sauce to go over some fish...

The Witch's Garden describes more than 50 magical plants, the myths surrounding them, their uses in traditional herbalism, and ways they've been used for magic. Those included range from ordinary kitchen herbs, like parsley, to calming St John's wort, to the famously witchy mandrake. The book also looks at magical theories, including gardening by the moon and stars, and the doctrine of signatures, which is the ancient idea that plants that look like a body part have the power to heal it. There is oodles of information on wise women, apothecaries, witches and herbalists through the ages, and how they cultivated and employed plants for their apparent mystical properties. As the blurb at the back says it included: "tales of remedies for everything from bad weather and broken hearts to protection from evil and the invocation of immortality."

What I really like about Witch's Garden is that, as well as being full of historic plant lore, it is lavishly illustrated. Each spread has pictures, and most of the images are paintings from the Royal Botanic Gardens' archives or photographs of dried flowers from the Kew Herbarium. The picture to the right shows the pages on foxglove, including Kew's herbarium sheet.

The author, Sandra Lawrence, is a friend of mine and I can vouch for the fact that she has a magical garden many witches would be envious of. I know I am. I've often sat there with her on a summer evening, discussing folklore, while enjoying food and drink she has prepared from fruit, vegetables and herbs she has grown there. She really knows her stuff when it comes to herbology. She has also written books on mythology, monsters, heroes and festivals and you can view her author page on Amazon.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Autumn Equinox Pagan Events in London and Online


Here is a list of online events and remote or very small group activities in or near London and for pagans, witches and those with similar interests. I generally 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 badwitch1234@gmail.com

Wednesday 16 September; Moon Books Live Talk and Discussion with Kenn Day, author of books on shamanism, hosted by Moon Books. Time: 7pm. https://www.facebook.com/events/3217067018401417/

Wednesday 16 September; Introduction to Shamanic Journeying and Safe Ceremonial space. Start of four-session online course Hosted by Anthea Durand. Time: 7pm. Tickets · £160. https://www.facebook.com/events/232833871496802

Wednesday 16 September (every Wednesday); Open Space Online Gathering via Zoom. Organised by Aho Studio, 13 Prince Edward Rd, London, E9 5LX. Time: 8pm. Tickets: £3. www.aho.community

Wednesday 16 September; New Moon Sound Journey. Digital event organised by She's Lost Control. Tickets £5-£15. Time: 8.30pm. https://www.sheslostcontrol.co.uk/digital

16/17 September; Equinox Magical Activism: Online Ritual Series with Starhawk. This is September 16th 5:30pm Pacific Time (US), but 17 September at 1.30am UK time. Tickets: $30-$150. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/magical-activism-online-ritual-series-w-starhawk-tickets-119700518473?

Thursday 17 September; Women who Run With The Wolves Zoom group. First session in 7-session online course with Mooney Stories. Time: 2pm-7pm. Cost:  £36 per session, £50 deposit for the course. https://www.facebook.com/events/971503939957702

Thursday 17 September; Waking The Water Ceremony, organised by Sacred Earth Activism. A ritual to do at a water course near you, in your own time. Time: 4pm. Free event. https://www.facebook.com/events/202821260978666

Thursday 17 September; Duchamp Versus Einstein. Talk and signing with Etan Ilfeld. Watkins Books, 19-21 Cecil Court, London WC2N 4EZ. Time: 6.30pm. Free event. For more details visit: https://www.meetup.com/WatkinsBooks/events/

Thursday 17 September; Online Assap talk. Dr Peter McCue on 'The Alleged Haunting of Sandwood Bay'. Time: 7pm. Free event. Tickets limited to 100 and available first to Assap members, but can be booked by non-Assap members from Thursday morning. Email secretary@assap.ac.uk to reserve a place. To join ASSAP, for £5 per year, visit http://www.assap.ac.uk/.

Thursday 17 September; The Magical Qabalah. Online workshop with Julian Vayne, via Treadwell's Online. Via Zoom. Time: 7pm start. Tickets: £20. https://www.treadwells-london.com/events

Thursday 17 September; New Moon Breath Ceremony with Lisa Li online via Zoom. Organised by Aho Studio, 13 Prince Edward Rd, London, E9 5LX. Time: 6pm. Tickets: £20. www.aho.community

Thursday 17 September; Breathwork for Creativity. Digital event organised by She's Lost Control. Tickets: £5-£20. Time: 7pm. https://www.sheslostcontrol.co.uk/digital

Thursday 17 September; Meeting the Archetypes: King and Queen, with David and Kasia from Sacred Union. Online event via Zoom organised by Aho Studio. Time: 7pm. Tickets: £20. www.aho.community

Thursday 17 September; New Moon Circle. Digital event organised by She's Lost Control. Tickets £5-£120. Time: 7pm. https://www.sheslostcontrol.co.uk/digital

Thursday 17 September; Secret Histories: Templars, Rituals and Roman Ruins. Storytelling with Jason Buck. Time: 7.30pm. Tickets: £2-£10. https://www.facebook.com/events/2387629434871679

Friday 18 September; Elements of Magick 2020 Online. First in 6-session online course in the Reclaiming tradition, hosted by Irisanya Moon and Urania Tami Griffith. This is on Thursday 17 at 5pm Pacific Time (US), which is 1am on the Friday BST (UK). Tickets: $90-$240. Contact Irisanya at irisanya.moon@gmail.com with questions. https://www.facebook.com/events/305235767552587

Friday 18 September; Shakti Yoga. Online event with Dancing the Goddess. Time: 9am. Tickets: £10. https://www.meetup.com/Dancing-the-Goddess/
Friday 18 September (tbc, usually every Friday); Friday Live Chat hosted by Rachel Patterson, author of the Kitchen Witch series of books. Time: 9am. Free event. https://www.facebook.com/RachelPattersonbooks/

Friday 18 September; Herbal series - Mint. 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. https://www.facebook.com/events/4393026180739938/

Friday 18 September;Psychic and Intuitive Skills Development. Online via Zoom with Mahesh Gordhan of the London  School  of  Spirituality. Time: 8pm. Tickets: £5/£7.50. https://www.meetup.com/londonschoolofspirituality/

Saturday 19 September; Working with the Goddess of Autumn Equinox. Online workshop with Sarah Jane Dennis through the College of Psychic Studies. Time: 11am - 4pm. Tickets: Members: £65, Non-members: £85. https://www.collegeofpsychicstudies.co.uk/

Saturday 19 September; Basic Astrology - Astrological Signs. Online event with DragonOak Magical workshops. Time: 6pm. https://www.facebook.com/events/3877081818974163

Saturday 19 September; [THIS EVENT IS NOW A DOWNLOADABLE RECORDING, NOT LIVE] The Draug: Nordic folklore with Vanessa and George or London Dreamtime. Strictly limited places. Tickets: £10. Details: https://www.londondreamtime.com/calendar/

Sunday 20 September; Alchemy Online workshop with Edwin Courtenay through the College of Psychic Studies. Time: 11am. Tickets: Members: £65, Non-members: £85. https://www.collegeofpsychicstudies.co.uk/

Sunday 20 September; Deja Whitehouse (In Search of a Satisfactory God’ – Frieda Harris’s Quest for Esoteric Fulfilment) and Sue Terry (Something Comes Through: Traversing Occult Interdimensional City Space in the Magical Modernist Fiction of Mary Butts). Part of the Magickal Women Conference Summer Salons. An online series of short, engaging talks with discussion via Zoom. Time: 7pm. Tickets for individual salons: £8.50. https://ti.to/magickal-women-conference/summer-salons?

Sunday 20 September; Equinox Divine I AM Transmission. Online event with Vaz Sriharan of the London Spirituality Meetup Group. Time: 7.30pm. Free. https://www.meetup.com/londonspirituality/

Monday 21 September; Shakti Yoga - Awaken. Online event with Dancing the Goddess. Time: 7am. Tickets: £7. https://www.meetup.com/Dancing-the-Goddess/

Monday 21 September; Mindful Still Life Monday Sessions with London Drawing, via Zoom. Two sessions: 12.30pm and 6pm. Free, but donations welcome. http://londondrawing.com/events/mindful-still-life-monday-sessions/

Monday 21 September; Astrology Circle - Jupiter. Digital event organised by She's Lost Control. Tickets: £10-£25. Time: 6.30pm. https://www.sheslostcontrol.co.uk/digital

Monday 21 - Wednesday 23 September; Aphrodite's Monthly Festival and Equinox Festival. Join Aphrodite's Flame Keepers to tend a candle flame from for as long as you wish in your own home. You can use real candles or LED lights. Venue: Worldwide. Details: https://www.facebook.com/aphroditesflame/

Tuesday 22 September and 29 September; Hypnosis and Trance for Magical Practice. Two-part workshop on Hypnosis and Trance For Magical Practice with Mark Vincent, via Treadwell's Online. Via Zoom. Time: 7pm start. Tickets: £40. https://www.treadwells-london.com/events

Tuesday 22 September; Mabon, the Autumn Equinox and Harvest Celebration with GreenSpirit. Online event with Zoom. Time 7pm. https://www.facebook.com/events/227435765240219/

Tuesday 22 September; Introduction to Tarot. First class in four-week course on the symbology of the tarot and the basics of reading with Suzanne Corbie, via Treadwell's Online. Via Zoom. Time: 7pm start. Tickets: £100. https://www.treadwells-london.com/events

Tuesday 22 September; Autum Equinox Ceremony. Online event organised by She's Lost Control. Tickets: £5-£20. Time: 7pm. https://www.sheslostcontrol.co.uk/digital

Tuesday 22 September (date tbc); Heron Drums Online Shamanic Drum Circle via Facebook or Zoom. Time: 7pm: Details: https://www.facebook.com/herondrumsuk/

Wednesday 23 September; Ancient Egypt – Exploring the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. Part one of five-week online course with John Billman. Time: 2pm. Tickets: £35 for TVAES Members, £40 for Non-Members. Booking: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/tvaes 

Wednesday 23 September; Crossbones Autum Equinox Vigil livestreamed by Jennifer Cooper and Nicholas Greaves from Nicholas Greaves home-page. At 7pm on the 23rd of every month since June 2004, people have honoured the outcast dead of Crossbones Graveyard, Southwark, but at the moment this are virtual events. You an also do a solitary ritual in your own space, light a candle and say the words you can find here: https://www.facebook.com/GooseandCrow/

Wednesday 23 September; Wanderers: A History of Women Walking. Online talk by Kerri Andrews hosted by Reweirding: and Conway Hall. Time: 7.30pm. Tickets: £5-£20. conwayhall.ticketsolve.com/shows/1173604413

Wednesday 23 September; Chasing the Sun: British Myths and the Uffington White Horse. Online event with Jon Mason including stories and music. Time: 7.30pm. Tickets · £5. www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/chasing-the-sun-british-myths-and-the-uffington-white-horse-tickets-114752140742

Wednesday 23 September; Magic for the Autumn Equinox and the Days After. Moon Books Live Talk and Discussion with me, Lucya Starza, author of Pagan Portals books on Candle Magic, Poppets and Magical Dolls, and Guided Visualisations, hosted by Moon Books. Time: 7pm. https://www.facebook.com/events/992383881222740/

Thursday 24 September; Meeting the Archetypes: Priestess and Warrior, with David and Kasia from Sacred Union.  Online event via Zoom organised by Aho Studio, 13 Prince Edward Rd, London, E9 5LX. Time: 7pm. Tickets: £20. www.aho.community

Thursday 24 September, Advanced Elemental Magic for Beginners. Online workshop with Julian Vayne, via Treadwell's Online. Via Zoom. Time: 7pm start. Tickets: £20. https://www.treadwells-london.com/events

Thursday 24 September (every Thursday); Online Assap talk. Time: 7pm. Free event. Tickets limited to 100 and available first to Assap members, but can be booked by non-Assap members from Thursday morning. Email secretary@assap.ac.uk to reserve a place. To join ASSAP, for £5 per year, visit http://www.assap.ac.uk/.

Thursday 24 September; London's Lost Artistic Worlds. An online salon with Danielle Thom and Devon Cox, organised by Antique Beat. Time: 7pm. Tickets: £4.50. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/salon-no79-londons-lost-artistic-worlds-tickets-121005892883

Friday 25 September - 16 October; Make Your Home a Temple - A Course in Home Energy Clearing. Eight-session online course with Goddess Awakening. Time: Mornings. Cost: £255. https://www.starlight-temple.com/bookings-checkout/make-your-home-a-temple

Friday 25 September; Herbal series - Rosemary. 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. https://www.facebook.com/events/4393026180739938/

Saturday 26 - Sunday 27 September; Rural Gothic - two-day online conference organised by the Folklore Podcast. Tickets: £10. https://thefolklorepodcast.weebly.com/store/c9/Tickets.html

Sunday 27 September (tbc); Autumn Ceremony with London Woodland Witches, Wiccans and Pagans. Beginners of Wicca and Paganism welcome. This is likely to be an online event. Time: 2pm. Tickets £5. https://www.meetup.com/LondonWoodlandWitches

Sunday 27 September; Alice Tarbuck and Simone Kotva (in conversation around Alice's new book 'A Spell in the Wild') and Madeleine LeDespencer (Magdalena de la Cruz - The Devil's Own Abbess). Part of the Magickal Women Conference Summer Salons. An online series of short, engaging talks with discussion via Zoom. Time: 7pm. Tickets for individual salons: £8.50. https://ti.to/magickal-women-conference/summer-salons?

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 https://www.treadwells-london.com/intro plus free podcasts: https://www.treadwells-london.com/treadwell-s-podcast 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: https://www.treadwells-london.com/lectures

Disclaimer: Please note that I am not responsible for the content of any of these events. Where a practitioner is offering information about magical protection, this is *not* medical advice.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Poppet Magic: Cinderella Dolls for Transformation

The start of autumn - and gloom in the news - can make us feel a bit down. Cinderella is a fairy tale about transformation, and you can use that idea to help transform your mood with some doll magic. 

My inspiration came from a Cinderella doll that my mum knitted and gave to me a long while ago. She's the larger doll in the photos. One side of the doll looks sad and is wearing rags, the other side is smiling and looking happy. Interestingly, while the popular version of Cinderella, which started with Charles Perrault’s book of fairy tales in 1697, has Cinderella’s transformation granted by a fairy godmother, in the later Brother’s Grimm version of the tale, Aschenputtel, it’s the spirit of the girl’s dead mother who materialises a beautiful dress so she can go to the ball. Many pagans will identify with calling on the spirits of ancestors to help in life. 

My own mother is sadly also long passed from the world, but when I’m feeling down, I tell all my woes to Cinderella in rags that she gave me. Then I ask my doll to work her transformation magic, to help me with my problems and resolve my woes. After that I turn her upside down to show her smiling face, and put her near me: beside my bed at night or on my desk as I work during the day. Seeing her helps cheer me up. 

You don’t need to have been given a doll. You can make – or buy – a Cinderella doll for yourself. There are patterns available to knit or sew Cinderella dolls, but you can also make a simple Cinderella poppet. A poppet is the traditional English magic name for a doll used in spellcraft. They might often look folk arty rather than professionally made, but in magic that doesn’t matter. It's the symbolism that counts, as well as the work you put into it yourself. Here’s how you can do that. 

Use a gingerbread person cookie cutter as a basic pattern or draw a similar shape freehand. However, you only need the upper half of the body shape – the head, arms and body down to just below the waist. Cut two pairs of these from felt, which doesn't fray. The finished doll will have two heads – one at either end - and two sets of arms. Make two circles the same size, ideally of stretchy fabric, to form skirts. I suggest stretchy fabric because it is easier to put over the doll. Make a hole in the centre of each skirt, just wide enough to fit as a skirt around the middle of the doll. It is easiest to loosely stitch each skirt to its end of the body before stuffing the doll halves and stitching them together at the waist. Put a frowning expression at one end and a smile on the face at the other end. 

The Cinderella poppet I made is the smaller one in the photos. For the sad side, I used blue felt to represent having the blues. I dressed her in clothes made from a worn-out navy blue sock. I made the happy side in pink felt, to represent feeling in the pink, as the saying goes. I fashioned her a ball gown bodice from ribbon I’d saved from gift wrapping. For her skirt I used silk that had been part of one of my favourite garments. It sadly got torn when I wore it to one Glastonbury Festival, but reusing the fabric reminds me that I will go dancing again. 

You can enchant your doll by casting a circle, naming her and asking her to transform your sadness into happiness and your tears into smiles. When you are feeling down, turn the doll frowning side up and tell her all your woes and problems. Spend as long as you need to do this. Then reverse the doll so the smiling face is showing. Ask your doll to help you smile then meditate with her or put her beside you and let the transformative magic change your mood.

You can find more information, and more spells, in my book Pagan Portals - Poppets and Magical Dolls, published by Moon Books.

Links and previous related posts

Monday, 14 September 2020

Pagan Eye: Fresh Sweetcorn - A Good Harvest


It has apparently been a good year for the sweetcorn harvest - or so I learnt when watching Gardeners' World the other day.

The picture of a corn on the cob was taken by Jane Mortimer, who wrote: "I just had to share a pic of the most perfectly pollinated corn cob I've ever seen. There were a couple more niblets sprouting out of the top but they came off when I peeled it. The cob was so big I couldn't eat all of it - first time I've been defeated by sweetcorn!"

Corn of all kinds can be used in spells for luck, growth, fertility and abundance. So, if you really are defeated by an enormous cob, you can use the remainder in your magic. A Native American tradition is to make dolls out of corn husks, or leaves. The dried leaves are soaked to make them pliable before being folded into doll shapes, then left to dry again. You can see a Canadian example in the online collection of the V and A Museum of Childhood.

My Pagan Eye posts show photos that I find interesting - seasonal images, pagan sites, events, or just pretty pictures. 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.

The photo at the top is copyright Jane Mortimer.

Links and previous related posts
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2020/07/spells-making-peace-dust-from-foraged.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2020/05/self-seeded-flowers-nature-between.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2020/06/of-stones-and-jam-and-returning-to.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2020/05/pagan-eye-vase-of-bluebells-and-wild.html
https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1127157/doll/