Tag Archives: Fae

A Sense of the Sacred

Ive just spent a lovely half hour walking my mothers dog. We wandered down to the pebbly beach and I collected hagstones, an item of great worth in my work with the fae. It’s an amazing beach, it is probably one of the most bountiful in its provision of holed and unusual stones that I have ever come across. Just a few minutes will yield a pocket full of stones. Most of which I return at the end of my stay. Although sometimes, just sometimes the odd one makes it way permanently into my life. It’s a very special place, its seen me snuggled under a duvet watching the stars with what was then my soon to be husband. It comforted me as I howled at the moon whilst grieving the loss of my father. It welcomed my small daughter summer after summer, watching her grow into a strong and independent woman. In short, it is personally one of the most sacred places in the world as far as I am concerned.

Sacred doesn’t have to mean a long archeological provenance. It neednt be a place of worship. Nor do the Ancestors, Guardians, Old or Mighty Ones have to be involved. No magickal beings have to be in evidence. Although in reality I tend to find they seem to crawl out of the woodwork (quite literally) once you acknowledge the hallowed nature of a place. It’s actually why I tend not to cast a circle at all outdoors. I don’t banish. I work in harmony with the energies of the place. It’s why choosing your ritual locations is quite important. Picking a spot because its easy to get to, infamous or just because you are curious about it isnt’ always going to give you the results you expect.

I live within a 40 minute drive of the near legendary Alderley Edge, well known by certain initiatory Wiccans and practitioners of several Trad craft lineages. Ive tried working formal magick there. Normally with others who think it would be really cool “Coz witches do stuff there” ! Ive stood back as they have cast a circle or bellowed out an LBRP*. And Ive felt the place close down, it feels thick and muddy, and I can sense this treacle like sensation spread out into the woods which then fall eerily silent and still. But equally I have sat very quietly against the trunk of one of the giant beech trees that line the route to Stormy Point. Letting the darkness creep in around me. Ive listened to people congregating at the Druids circle totally oblivious to the Magick (and the magickal people) going on around them. Ive regularly seen a Goat like figure wander along the pathways. Stop to observe me, bow its head in acknowledgement before silently moving on. At that moment the whole place is overwhelmingly sacred. But because I am in communion with it.

This doesn’t mean that you cannot practise formal ritual in chosen places of power. It means that a relationship has to be built. Permission has to be given. Experiences shared. My beach has seen me invoking the planetary powers, at sunset and sunrise. Long formal Orphic hymns used as the invocations. A circle scratched in the sand with the planetary symbols etched around its circumference. A rite of balancing and growth. Considering the history I have with the place it was the ‘only’ location right for the ritual. The Ocean has silently observed my passing years. Whilst to it my existence is but a blink of an eye, it knows me, it knows my energy. And that is the key.

*Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram

Invocation to the Old Ones – Making a Connection

Hail Old Ones, Ancient Ones of Time and Space
You who were before the first breath and will be after the last ember
Spirits Who dwell in the void of spirit between the worlds and the stars
Who govern the motions of the stars and planets
Hail Indwelling spirits of trees and rock and lake
Hail Dryads, nymphs and fairies, guardians of sacred sites
– Magick without Peers, David Rankine & Ariadne Rainbird
– Capal Bann 1997

We use this invocation in Coven a lot. It’s a general invocation which ensures all the potential spirits regardless of their origins or place in the universe are honoured. Ensuring that the Spirits get honoured is a very important part of my rites and rituals.

Witches, Wizards, Druids, Shamans call us what you will are all very good at remembering to honour the “big”. We raise our arms in ecstasy and call down the Goddess or the God. At Samhain the ancestors get a look in. Normally with a glass of liquor and a bite to eat. Although I have been to a few rituals where this hasn’t been the case. At public rites, particularly the summer ones we tend to hear about the Genius Locii and the Spirit of the Corn. But that isn’t guaranteed by any stretch of the imagination.

It seems to be there is a disconnect in our minds between the importance of contact with spirits compared with that of deity. I’ve really thought long and hard about why this might be the case. With so many of us being nominal converts from other faiths, is it residual indoctrination? Do we place so much emphasis on “God” as a result of conditioning, that the Spirits are dirty things to be ignored if at all possible. I think this is a real possibility and one so ingrained into our western culture that we don’t even register that there is a problem. Certainly our folklore is full of stories where the primary focus is keeping the Fae away. And there is great merit in approaching the Good Folk with caution.

However, they can also be some of the most important allies we can ever have in our magickal world. If I want something doing, I am more likely to approach an angel, a daemon, a saint (yes a saint, remember they are just beatified ancestors and us witches are all about the ancestors – or we should be), a fairy or a spirit of place. Gods can be a little too abstract and requests to them (in my experience) tend to be of the long slow burn kind of outcome. And the result if not always how you imagined it. Whereas some spirits seem to have a good handle on the human condition and come up with the goods swiftly and reliably. So building strong relationships with all the spirits of the other are just as important as the relationships we build with our Gods.

I give thanks to Our Lady of the Holy Death. Santissima Muerte. Who manifests the will of the divine and gives blessings

As part of this relationship building I think it’s very important that we write our own invocations. Not just big flowery charges used in circle, but also the smaller more personal ones used on a daily basis. This simple exercise makes us really think about the spirits around us, how we interact with them and what that means. Its not an arduous task and I try and write something personal for every spirit that I work with. I write my invocations on index cards. They are small and portable. A bit of blue-tak on your dash can secure the card so its the first thing you see (and say perhaps) before heading to work. Sat on your beside table it can be the last thing you see before bed. You can even prop it on an altar or devotional space. Perhaps decorate it with a border. Or drawings of the spirit you are working with. The effort and the intent will be appreciated and your connection will be stronger.

You will also be pleasantly surprised how quickly you can memorise something relatively complex when you approach it like this.

When is a Fairy not a Fairy

The Lampades are underworld nymphs in Greek mythology. They are nocturnal and are recorded as accompanying Hekate in her night time travels. They are also closely linked to the rites of Demeter at Eleusis and so play a part in the initiatory process. It was probably this early connection with nature spirits that eventually led Hekate to be named as a leader of the fairies hoards in Shakespeares play.

And we fairies that do run, by the triple Hekate’s team, from the presence of the sun, following darkness like a dream.

– A Midsummmer-night’s Dream Act 5 Scene II

And it is probably Hekate’s guiding hand that first had me wandering through nocturnal landscapes in search of “the other”. Although in truth, all night time shenanigans and tom foolery is now entirely of my own fault, no deity blaming required. And in the last 6 months or so I’ve been doing quite a lot. Anyway, I’ve been out 3 of the last 4 nights either on my own or with friends and on each occasion there have been energies present to sense. And it would be very easy to always say that what we were experiencing was “Faeries”. But its not always the case and I figured that my insights and those of my friends were worth sharing.

Sunday saw me out with my friend Mark on an interesting guided walk facilitated by Northern Earth Walks. We heard about some of the more strange and unusual occurrences in Todmorden’s recent history including a lucky dog, UFO’s, a grizzly murder that could have been the inspiration for the game of Cluedo and to our delight the story of Old Scraper, a supernatural being who wandered a certain track upon on the ridge above the town. He was said to appear to any who raised a tool aloft. There was nothing for it. It was going to have to be investigated. So despite lacking tools bigger than penknives we headed up an increasingly steep and muddy track in hot pursuit of our quarry.

A View of Todmorden from Old Scraper’s Lair

The view at the top was pretty spectacular and as we walked we certainly sensed a number of things, but not all the same. In fact it appeared that two distinct sensations were present. And after some thought and discussion it was surmised that Old Scraper was probably neither entirely ghost nor fae, but something older belonging to the land, a guardian of a barrow or other sacred space long lost and forgotten. Left for potentially millennia he had taken on aspects of the elementals around him. Fed off the energy of the folklore surrounding him. Becoming part thought-form, part landscape, a hybrid, and as a result he had survived. I suppose the clue that he wasn’t entirely fae was in the manner in which he was to be summoned. With tools! It’s a pretty well known fact that most of the Fae aren’t so keen on iron, So you can be pretty sure that your average common or garden fairy wouldn’t have come within a million miles of somebody brandishing a ferrous object.

This blending is not an uncommon occurrence, particularly when the realms of mankind and faerie meet and is something I discuss in some detail in my upcoming book, Spirits in a Broken Land. But it isn’t the only time that a feeling or sensation is something other than unadulterated fair folk making you feel a little uncomfortable. Much has been written of late regarding the theory that the trees can, and do communicate with each other. As a result I am now starting to suspect that it goes much further than that. A mere 24 hours after my escapades in the woods, I found myself on the glorious Formby beach with my friend Brian. The evening was almost balmy for a January night and being the little creature of water that I am, I threw caution to the non existent wind and went wading far deeper than was probably wise. After a lovely warming cuppa to recover from my little splash about, we decided to take a wander into the woodland that borders the spectacular sand dunes.

As we walked into the woods the scent of fox was fairly overwhelming and at least one dog fox could be heard barking somewhere in the darkness in front of us. A three way crossroad lay before us. Which way to go, how would we decide? Left, we would go left. And the smell of fox grew stronger. Its that time of year, they are finding their mates and doing what all good foxes do to ensure that little fox cubs are brought into this world.  But as we progressed a feel of unease fell upon us. Brian asked if I had noticed it. And indeed I had, a feeling like we weren’t wanted there. Which was strange as the woods had felt so calm and serene as we had walked down to the beach only and hour earlier. We debated what might have happened to change the feeling so drastically. We had seen two cars come streaking down the track towards the squirrel reserve only to turn round quickly when they saw us. Up to no good I suspect. But then it hit me, we would disturb the foxes, we were being warned away by the very place itself so as to protect the privacy of the woodland inhabitants. This was no malevolent fae, but a living breathing woodland caring for its inhabitants. How wonderful!

So it got me thinking. How often when we walk, we have these sensations and we always just give it the title of fairy or spirit of place. How inadequate these titles are, when sometimes its both more and less. Sometimes its so phenomenally mind blowing that you cannot help but believe that there is sentience and divinity in every atom of the world around us. So next time you go out walking. It doesn’t have to be in the dark, any time of day will do, just take a moment when that sense of otherness over comes you. Really sense it. Look at the landscape you are in, ask aloud for it’s story. Ask, is it really a fairy?