Saturday, 07 August 2010 21:01

Tinkinswood Burial Chamber

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About five miles North of Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan, lies Tinkinswood Burial Chamber - a spectacular tomb boasting one of the largest known capstones in Western Europe.

Tinkinswood has a low chamber, walled on three sides and two flanking walls either side of the mighty capstone that creates a forecourt effect in front of the monument. In 1914 the tomb was excavated and the remains of about 50 people were unearthed from beneath the capstone. (Sadly their remains are now believed to be in storage in Cardiff Museum. I disagree very strongly with this; in my view these bones should be reburied in the tomb.)

Tinkinswood is believed to have been constructed around 2000-1800 BCE in the Megalithic period, and there are many strange legends attached to it. For instance, if you sleep overnight there on Beltane (or some way the Summer Solstice), you are supposed to either become a poet or go insane. Having camped there myself on the Summer Solstice about ten years ago, I certainly haven't written much poetry in the meantime, although I can't really comment on how my sanity has been affected. The only odd thing that did occur on my vigil was at one point I heard footsteps and the sound of breathing behind me, but when I went to investigate (I thought a fellow Pagan had come to join me) there was not a soul in sight.

Friday, 06 August 2010 09:22

Cord Magic

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There are numerous ways of working practical magic in Wicca, some highly ritualised and complicated, others very simple. Probably one of the most popular in the craft today is cord magic, not least because it is a very powerful method of working in a coven environment, but also it is easily adapted for use by the lone spell worker.

The cord as a magical tool certainly has its own characteristics and symbolism, it is particularly suitable for spells that involve for example binding and/or grounding; and certainly they generate an energy of their own, and are particularly useful for spells where other forms of magic may be inappropriate such as banishing spells. In the binding of the initiate in the first-degree initiation, the cords represent the restriction of the womb before the candidate is symbolically reborn, furthermore the blindfold represents the darkness therein. Powerful symbolism indeed!

In my parent coven, the main method of working cord magic was that after the power had been raised and everyone had fallen to the ground to welcome it and show respect, the assembled coven would then sit around the perimeter of the circle man/woman alternately as far as possible. Each brother or sister present would then name the petition. This would continue, with the invocation being repeated over and over again, faster and faster until the High Priestess decided that enough power had been raised, and all would release their end of the cord so that the cords would then collapse in a bundle in the centre of the circle whilst the coven concentrated on the power being discharged into the astral sphere and the universe. The cords were then gathered up and placed on the altar with the knots still intact; these were not undone until just before the next circle.

Thursday, 05 August 2010 16:40

Scrying

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Some may have attempted scrying with a crystal or perhaps a makeshift device such as a glass of water with some ink added to darken the water. Here are some basic instructions on practical scrying which I have found effective.

1.  The room in which you conduct your sitting should have a peaceful atmosphere. Many scryers burn incense to help alter the state of their consciousness, incense however works better for some than others - it is up to you to decide which suits you best.

2   You should also make sure there is no chance of you being disturbed. Also allow adequate time for a long sitting.

3.  The room should be darkened and lit only by candles or a low wattage light bulb. This will prevent the crystal from reflecting items in the room.

Thursday, 05 August 2010 14:02

The Fairies of Pennard Castle, Gower

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Perched high over the magnificent Three Cliffs Bay , the mysterious Pennard Castle has to be one of the most picturesque ruins on the Gower Peninsula . Little is recorded of the history of the stronghold, but it is believed to be of late 13th century origin and to have been occupied for only a short period of time before abandonment. With few historical documents to detail the site, the castle is bathed in an air of superstition with many legends and folktales noting the castle to be both haunted and cursed!

alt A Moonlit Three Cliffs Bay

Monday, 26 July 2010 17:48

Cefn Bryn, Gower

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Broad Pool, Cefn Bryn

Cefn Bryn is the Gower Peninsula's second highest point, rising 188 metres above sea level. As well as being Gower's dominant land mass, it also holds one of the densest collections of cairns and othe pagan stone relic formations in the whole of South Wales.

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Over four metres long, two metres broad and two and a half metres high and raised on a series of angular stone supports, the capstone is an incredible twenty-five ton boulder of quartz conglomerate that was deposited here by a glacial ice sheet that crossed the entire South Wales countryside during the last great Ice Age. At this time the stone weighed a good ten tons heavier that it does today as some time before 1693 the rock was split cleanly in two. The stone was once the centre of druid worship and it is said that St. David took his mighty sword to the monument to prove it as an altar of false gods. The large segment of split rock still lays at the foot of Arthur's Stone.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010 20:20

Woodhenge

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Woodhenge (SU 151 434), one of Britain's most sinister ancient sites, lies just 2 km north east from Stonehenge.Although the place can strike modern day visitors as little more than a rather confusing, bizarre and curious place, the location has a macabre history rare amongst such prehistoric landmarks.

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Tuesday, 20 July 2010 20:14

West Kennet Long Barrow

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Often overlooked by visitors to the neighbouring monuments of the Avebury Stone Circle and Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow ( SU 105677) possesses an atmosphere at total odds to the lush and vibrant countryside amongst which it stands. A definite aura of death resides amongst this, the largest of Britain's Neolithic Long Barrows and this rather chilling vibe has both attracted and been intensified by practitioners of the ocult using the tomb for their ceremonies and spellcraft.

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Evidence of Ritual Magick Practised at West Kennet Long Barrow

Tuesday, 20 July 2010 20:04

Uffington White Horse

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High above the village of Uffington, sprawled some 374 feet across the peak of the Berkshire Downs, lies the leviathon and abstract figure of a creature - known as the Uffington White Horse (SU 302 866). So immense and commanding is this landmark - formed by cutting the outline of the animal from the turf to reveal the white chalk underlaying the hill - that it drains much of the attention away from the village's list of other historical and literary points of interest.

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John Betjemen (Poet Laureate 1972 - 1984) lived in Uffington, as did 'Tom Brown's Schooldays' author Thomas Hughes, who used this landscape so evocatively in many of his novels (a bronze statue of Hughes is displayed in the village's 13th Century Church). The area also holds many legends - one of which asserts that Dragon Hill - a peak nearby the Uffington figure - is the scene where St. George slew the infamous dragon (a patch of barren ground on this hill is said to have been poisoned by the dragon's spilt blood). Indeed, so prevalent is this particular legend amongst the locals of Uffington, that many people believe that the White Horse is not a horse at all, but is instead a representation of the huge, fiersome dragon destroyed by St. George. However, whilst its abstract and somewhat ambiguous design allows for such an interpretaion, most scholars on the subject are of the opinion that this hilltop creature is, in fact, a symbol of a horse and point to historical and archaeological evidence to support their assertions.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010 19:55

Silbury Hill

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Driving along the A4 road, between Marlborough and Beckhampton, very close to the village of Avebury (famous for its stone circles), a curious (odd-looking may be a more appropriate description) hill distracts all but the most unimaginative of motorist's attention.

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Legend holds that the Devil, on his way to Marlborough to deposit an absolutely immense shovel full of earth on the town (it is unknown to this author exactly what the townsfolk of Marlborough had done to irk the Devil into such an act) when he passed a cobbler, labouring to the town with a large sack full of old shoes on his back. Asking the cobbler how much further it was to the town, the wise cobbler, recognising his fellow traveller as the Devil, replied:

Tuesday, 20 July 2010 18:28

The Sweyne Howes, Rhossili, Gower

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The Sweyne Howes tombs (SS 421 898) are situated approximately 300 feet apart and were constructed by the peninsula's very first farmers. It was their funeral practice to bury their deceased along with certain goods and belongings (which they believed the dead would be able to make use of in the afterlife) and to then balance large slabs of stone upon the graves.

The northern most tomb stones are the best preserved of the two monuments, although neither anywhere near approaches the fine condition of the similar Neolithic tomb construction on Cefn Bryn known as Arthur's Stone (I'll publish more on that particular monument in tomorrow's post).

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The Sweyne Howes Northern Tomb

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