Yearly Archives: 2009

Did you know?

I own 6 tarot decks, no neither did I, until I took the time to root them out and count them up and that isn’t including the 3 blank decks I found still in the cellophane wrapping their original purpose now lost in the mists of time. I also have the pencil sketches of the Major Arcana for a deck of my own based upon the Guardians and Tresures of Britain. Not bad for somebody who doesn’t read cards…or should that be didn’t read cards….or maybe it should be somebody that didn’t fess up to reading the cards.

The problem was that I was never trained and I could not in all honesty say I was self taught because my very first deck (which actually is no longer with me but in better hands – Im a bit absive with my decks, ask me to do a “chaos” spread for you one day if we ever meet) was the Rider Waite and an accompanying “Idiots Guide” style book, I hated it, hated it with a passion, so I gave it away. But I did read, at one point fairly often, but it was intuitively, I knew nothing of the traditional symbology or so I thought. So when people asked me if I would give them a reading (because all occultists know the cards don’t they?) I would change the subject, get a very bad cough, or suddenly be unable to find my deck. Hmm maybe that is why I have so many decks, I kept hiding them in safe places so I accidently on purpose couldn’t find them, and then I really couldn’t.

Anyway I’m getting of track a bit, where was I, Oh yes, I would have been very happily preserving this little charade until a couple of acts of syncronicity occured. Yup, damn that syncronicity, I tell you when the revolution comes it will be the first up against the wall and shot, my life will then be so much easier. Firstly I had quite an indepth discussion with a fellow student of the mysteries regarding oracular aspects of working with Hekate. And secondly I discovered that a very well respected and talented teacher of the Tarot was running a weekend long workshop at a local MBS store. I still don’t really know what possessed me to book myself on the course, as lovely and clever and talented as they are, I normally find that, although in theory the MBS crowd and occultists should have a common ground, in reality, whilst they may only be standing 5 ft appart, there is a great yawning, gaping, abyss that separates them; as a result the idea of spending a weekend in such company would normally send me screaming down the high street tearing my hair and renting my clothes with much gnashing of teeth and beating of breast.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised, firstly it is possible that there may be validity in the statement that all occultists know the cards, it appears my years of scribbling, underling, highlighting and general wanton destruction of my copy of 777 for various “doings” may have paid off, because it turns out I had a bloody good idea of what was actually going on in the cards from a traditional point of view, secondly I have been asked by the owner of the shop to put together some talks and she was specifically interested in me facilitating a weekend Hekate workshop. Now I initially balked at the idea, she basicially inferred that I was going to have to “Goddess” it up a bit, not really my style, but apparently who am I to judge because every time I think about it this song pops into my head U2 – Mysterious Ways Click on the Link and really listen to the lyrics, go on I dare you, because if that isn’t an Oracular message, then I’m the irrepresible spirit of Monkey!

For my Father

When I sat down this morning to write, it was going to be an academic treatise on Cults and festivals of the Dead and how they relate to or can be adapted to working with the Lady Hekate, and perhaps I will write it still, although maybe not today. All things considered, today seems like a good day to muse upon those that have gone before.

I am not a Wiccan, nor have I ever been, and although my other great love is the stories and tales of the land we now know of as Wales, neither is my path specifically a Celtic one (although I actually hate using the word Celtic, because it doesn’t really mean much); that being said, this time of year has always held a special signifcance for me, it has always felt different and never more so than in the last decade since my father, my first mentor, passed on around this time.

He taught me many things (although at the time I am not sure I appreciated quite what he was teaching me), not just to walk and talk or to ride my first bike, he taught me the names of the flowers and the trees, to eat hawthorm leaves and call them bread and cheese, to gauge just right how many slightly under-ripe cob nuts I could eat without getting the colly wobbles, how to make cider, to garden, and even to knit, crochet and sew, he told me stories and tales some awe inspiring, some frightening, some just down right ridiculous, we used to laugh and call him our font of useless information, a talent I can now proudly say I have inherited.

He called himself a heathen, although he wasn’t one in the way most people use the word now, he didn’t know about fancy groups and troths, although he had a deep one with the land, he knew of course of the Aesir and Vanir for his knowledge of old stories was phenominal, but they weren’t his gods, to use his words, he worshipped only at the altar of the compost heap.

He was an honorable man, a quiet man, a gentle man, loved by everybody who knew him; he talked many times of his funeral in the years before his passing, he said he always wanted a Viking funeral, or failing that to be buried “face down and bum uppards holding a bottle of whiskey”. Of course such schemes were to never come to pass, although plans are in place, his ashes safely stowed for a future time, when he and my mother will be sailed out on a flaming balsa wood boat across lake windermere, one of his most favourite places in the world.

And as the sun goes down tonight, I shall light a candle and pour him a glass and think of all the gifts he gave to me and I never thanked him for.

Ask and ye shall recieve…

So a few posts ago, I posted about the plight of the british honey bee, and particularly how I viewed it from a magickal perspective. Imagine my delight whilst walking down the baking goods aisle in my local supermarket this evening to spy a slogan adorning Rowse’s Honey – Save the Honey Bee. Not only have they commited £100,000 to aid research, but currently if you buy a jar of Rowse’s honey you can register online for a pack of wild flower seeds to plant in your garden to, as they put it, grow more bee friendly plants in your garden. For details see here. Okay it may only be pennies in a fountain, but you know, pennies do add up, and so I bought a jar and have registered for my free pack of seeds, after all is it not better to take small steps in the right direction when you hit that crossroads, than just sit there discussing the journey?

What is the date today?

Anybody who has done even the smallest amount of research regarding the goddess Hekate will have heard about the Deipna Hekate or Hekates Suppers. Too often however the date for these is cited as being the 30th of the month.

The problem is that the ancient greeks did not have the same calendar as we did, in fact they didn’t have the same calendar as each other, which makes working out dates and times more than a little awkward. For example, the Attic calendar (which is the most complete version we have) started on the first day of the new moon after the summer solstice, the Boetian year didn’t start until the new moon after the winter solstice 6 months later.

The sighting of the new moon was of course subjective as well, so different areas at any point in time might be out by one or two days. So this leads to the question, if we would like to offer a Deipna Hekate, when would be the best time to do it?

Well, whilst I am a big advocate of research, I am not a reconstructionist, so in the first instance I would say leave out this offering on the night of the dark moon where you live. If you want to be a little more precise than just taking a look up into the sky at moonrise, then there are a number of excellent calculators online which will be a tad more specific,this is one I have used and you can even added to your FaceBook profile if you have an account. iPhone even has “an App for that”, or so my husband tells me.

And finally I would like to share is this excellent resource, which is being created and developed by a very dedicated group of Hellenic reconstructionists, Ive actually bookmarked it on my browser toolbar, so useful is it as a ready reckoner. You can find it here. And with that I shall wish you a very good last day of Puanepsion or first day of Maimakterion, depending of course where you live 😀

Of air-born honey, gift of heaven, I now Take up the tale

Last weekend I had the honor of spending time with a wonderful group of like minded individuals. The purpose of this meeting of minds was to celebrate the Goddess Hekate.  Of the many subjects that were discussed around the fire was whether honey should be used in ritual considering the current worldwide crisis in the honey bee population.

For anybody who isn’t aware, there is a deep concern regarding the bee population, with whole colonies dying off or disappearing, the ecological effect of which is potentially disasterous for world agriculture; recently the Independant (Full Article Here) stated that:

“Most of the pollination for more than 90 commercial crops grown throughout the United States is provided by Apis mellifera, the honey bee, and the value from the pollination to agricultural output in the country is estimated at $14.6bn (£8bn) annually. In Britain alone, pollination by bees of a suite of just 10 crops, ranging from apples and pears to oilseed rape, was calculated to be worth £165m per annum in 2007.”

The causes for the dramatic decrease in population of this humble little creature are varied, from viruses, to mites, increased numbers of natural predators, pesticides and even mobile phones. Apiarists in the UK are petitioning Defra to spend £8 million pounds to conduct urgent research (Proposal in PDF Here) into these issues in an attempt to save bee population in the United Kingdom. Something which Defra says they cannot afford to do.

The knee jerk reaction of those who have more than a passing interest in environmental issues, is, most understandably, a desire to boycott honey and honey related products, a not insignificant sacrifice for anybody who works with Hekate, especially those who are starting out on thier path, for these products are a staple offering and eucharistic substance. But why is this?

Possibly one of the most well known and visually powerful evokations of the Goddess occurs in Book 3 of Apollonius of Rhode’s Argonautica (a.k.a Jason and the Golden Fleece). Medea a Priestess of Hekate instructs Jason as to how to enlist the help of the Goddess.

“wait for midnight which divides the night in two. Bathe in the stream of a river which is never still and, alone, without others, dress in dark robes and dig a circular pit. Over it slit the throat of a female sheep and burn it whole, heaping high a pyre on the very edge of the pit. Make appeasement to Hekate, the only born daughter of Perses, by pouring in libation from a cup the works of bees in their hives”

The libation is undeniably a honey based substance, and whenever I am contacted by somebody wanting to work with Hekate, honey and or mead is one of the first items I list. So imagine my discomfort to hear that people I respect and consider my peers, informing me that it was no longer the done thing to use honey in ritual. So I decided to look closer into this issue and I could only come to one conclusion, it is actually my responsibility to continue to use these products, if perhaps a little more responsibly.

So why have I come to this conclusion?

Defra have donated only £2 Million of a proposed £8 Million project, the most obvious place for sourcing the remainder of this funding is within the Bee-Keeping and Honey production industry itself. Reduced demand will in theory reduce the possible available funds.

A reduced demand for honey and bee related products will have a knock on effect, fewer apiarists will be trained, thus reducing the pool of expertise in this subject and thus theoretically affecting the level of consultation between the industry and the scientist who will conduct the research.

However, I am not advocating the purchase and indescriminate use of mass produced honey. For some time now, the honey and beeswax candles I use are mostly locally sourced, in fact I see the bees from the apiary in my garden on a daily basis in the summer months, they are particulary fond of my monster lavender bushes.  At a push I will purchase organic honey from the supermarket but only as a last resort and I have made the decision that I will no longer purchase mass produced mead, instead chosing to produce my own or just not use it at all.

And finally, I shall be taking a hint from Aristaios and petition his mother Cyrene.

His mother’s bidding: to the shrine he came,
The appointed altars reared, and thither led
Four chosen bulls of peerless form and bulk,
With kine to match, that never yoke had known;
Then, when the ninth dawn had led in the day,
To Orpheus sent his funeral dues, and sought
The grove once more. But sudden, strange to tell
A portent they espy: through the oxen’s flesh,
Waxed soft in dissolution, hark! there hum
Bees from the belly; the rent ribs overboil
In endless clouds they spread them, till at last
On yon tree-top together fused they cling,

~ Virgil Gregorics Bk 4