The joy of living wild, even if only for a few days – is one of my passions. It brings me close to the Earth and teaches me more and more how much she is my friend, my mother, teacher, mentor, and my dear companion.
Living on cities, towns, villages, even being able to see another house, changes our relationship with the Earth and the natural world; we feel safe, there’s always someone we can turn to if things go wrong, we are not alone. We don’t really relate or commit to the natural world and, in consequence, we don’t really see it. If we find ourselves “out there” with nothing human in sight we often tend to begin to panic, search desperately for a signal on the phone, for a house, a barn, even the sight of a cow or sheep makes a difference. The cry of a buzzard or the night barking of a fox, the sight of antlers on the horizon, the grunt of a hedgehog or badger in the disk may put our hair on end and set our imagination freaking out.
I love to be out alone, and all night too, seeing nothing human for days on end is a joy for me and I will tend to hide if I see or hear humans coming.
Living wild, even if only for a night, is about learning that nature is our friend. It’s about learning the multitude of things we are surrounded with when out in the wild that will actually help us. Waking in my hammock to the sounds of birds, animals, the wind, the rain, snow, is part the joys of living wild and of Life for me.
Although both Terry and I caught the lurgy from hell in mid December and were still not over it, we decided we could not miss the opportunity to glimpse a view of the Winter Lunar Eclipse. So, out of bed we got, dressed in soo many layers that I looked and felt like the Michelin man and off we went to the closest beach, which is Llanelli North Dock.
There was still a great deal of snow on the ground, so Terry, in true Topgear stylie, tried to spin the car in the empty car park - never works when you try!
We walked along the empty beach in the dark, the waves gently lapping up at us, the stars sparkling still, that alone made the effort worth it. Like in most other areas, the cloud cover did not allow us a look at the moon but there was an eerie glow in the Western sky. At one time it went bloodred. It was a beautiful and awesome sight to behold.
Now, I know a few people talked about evil portends etc. in conjunction with this phenomenon, but to me it was magical. I felt vibrations in the air and earth that I hadn't ever felt before. Anything seemed possible in these moments.
Soon the red in the West was rivalled by the red in the East of the upcoming sun, which eventually rose with a warm, golden glow. The new day had begun, the spectacle was over - and we had been part of it. Blessings indeed.
Carlos Castaneda’s "The Teachings of Don Juan - A Yacqui Way of Knowledge" is a truly fascinating read. Whilst the debate continues over the authenticity of Castaneda’s tuterage under the Yaqui Indian sorcerer Don Juan Matus, the book delivers a powerful philosophy of life experienced in the ‘non’ordinary reality’ offered by the consumption of Datura, Psilocybin and Peyote. It is recommended reading for anyone interested in Shamanism, entheogens or altered states of experience.
Despite its subject matter, Castaneda’s book is certainly not a treatise expounding the virtues of "turning on, tuning in and dropping out!", but instead explores the often terrifying experiences of a student trying to make sense of unfamiliar concepts in a pagan world where literally anything can happen.
The book is divided neatly into two main sections. Part one tells Carlos Casteneda’s tale of his first meeting with the feared Don Juan and his initiation into the Yaqui Indian's various entheogenic rites and beliefs whilst the second part of the book is Castaneda's scholastic take on the sorceror's arcane knowledge and the methods he employed in imparting this wisdom.
This is the first book in Castaneda’s series which follow the student as he learns to navigate the various alternate realities of existence and become a sorceror and ‘Man of Power'.
A recommended, mind-expanding read.
'Holy Wells: Wales - a photographic journey'' is a sumptuous exploration of 42 of Wales' holy and sacred wells. Photographed by Cardiff-born photographer Phil Cope, the book's 222 pages are abrim with lavish, almost oppulent, images and accompanying text.
Phil Cope's book took five years to produce and is an obvious labour of love and is part of a series of two books (the other being Holy Wells: Cornwall - a photogrpahic journey). Just fifty years ago, literally thousands of sacred wells were accessible to the general public in Wales. Today, this number has shockingly declined to just a few hundred! 'Holy Wells' succeeds in its aim of highlighting the beauty and historical importance of these sacred sites at a time when, shamefully, so few of their number are afforded protection by environmental and heritage organisations.
Although this book is subtitled 'a photographic journey', the copious images in this large tome are accompanied by a fairly substantial text. As well as descriptions of the various sites, their individual histories and the numerous pagan beliefs and healing properties associated with them, the book includes poems from a number of Welsh poets, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan William, R.S. Thomas and Gerard Mankey Hopkins. Ordnance Survey co-ordinates for all the wells are also given - a handy addition as this book certainly makes its readers want to visit these sites for themselves. I can't think of a higher recommendation for a book of this nature than that!
Holy Wells: Wales - a photographic journey is a hard-covered book and is published by Seren, priced £19.99. You can purchase a copy of the book here.
Until twenty or so years ago, I had no problem announcing to the world that I was a Witch, that I was a solitary witch at that, and expecting people to look at me sideways and mind their own business. If I came across someone who actually knew what I was talking about – genuinely knew – they tended to be respectful. I'd have the occasional enthusiastic outburst from someone who thought they were the only one on the path and had never had a good reception, but generally people just smiled and nodded and not much else.
Then things changed in what should probably have been a good way. We 'caught on' and lots of people suddenly seemed to want to put me straight on how I 'should' be doing this or that, or worse, how I 'should' be thinking and exactly what I 'should' believe. All this on the strength of a book or two, and then the Internet. So I took muttering under my breath that I was Pagan and leaving it at that. I started to dress more conservatively and tried to learn to love consumerism and eat food full of nasty chemicals and weird ingredients. (Personal rule – if you wouldn't eat it with a spoon and it's got too many syllables to pronounce without practice, why would I want to eat it at all?)
Now don't get me wrong, when it comes to the Net, I'm the biggest geek I know, but it amazes me how many people still believe that Wikipedia holds some inviolable, arcane set of truths and are horrified when I point out that it holds a thoroughly violable (if that's not a word it should be) set of opinions. Some of them are fabulous, thoughtful, well researched opinions, but you tell most people that 'wiki' stands for 'what I know is' when they've just 'set you straight' on something that you really do know, then they tend not to like it so much!
I try not to be snotty but that doesn't seem to occur to everyone! One of the biggest strengths I think we as Pagans have is our eclectic-ness. I don't want to belong to a religion that tells me I'm scum if I don't want to do something or toe some particular party line, but I worry that we're in danger of being sucked too far into the mainstream and ending up as a book religion as a consequence. The very thought makes me shudder. OK, we wouldn't have a book, we'd have a reading list, but I don't want to be part of something that is rigid and dead, and I don't want to be part of something that revolves around a power structure – that's not a spiritual path, that's politics. When I was first on my path, we were hidden, we learned what we learned from people who genuinely, deeply, really knew what they knew and if we read, we read critically and with an appreciation that meanings were layered and coded and, well, hidden. The word 'occult' itself means hidden not, it's on the telly tonight but if you miss it you can see it on the internet for a week or two.
On the other hand, it's nice to know that social workers won't appear at dawn if our kids announce that they've been to a gathering and left offerings to the Goddess tied to a tree. Not that we'd just leave them, anyway.
I was in Wales last week and feeling disconnected. I was raised by a possibly English mother (long story) and a Welsh father, in Kent. When I was in England I was foreign, when I was in Wales, I had an English accent and my pronunciation of Welsh and my inability to count past ten was hilarious to my cousins, so I was foreign there as well. Everywhere I went, I didn't belong. It occurred to me though, that my disconnectedness is my strength. There is nothing in my ethnicity that I can take for granted, everything has to be considered, thought through, personally decided as a matter for my own conscience. Over the last twenty years, the world has changed so much, that surely our strength as Pagans rest in that same personal conscience-driven decision making. May the gods save us from finding our 'book'.
Loss of Ancestor knowledge / worship
We have forgotten how to stay in touch with our Ancestors.
We no longer have a sense of ‘Family History’, of where our people come from, and who they were.
By losing our sense of who we were and where we come from, we have no sense of where we are going. This in turn leaves us with a feeling of loss and worthlessness.
Partly this is due to our having lost our ‘Tribal’ and larger Family links. Our society has become fragmented, with many children not knowing even near (genetic) relatives, through being moved away from earlier friends and family for economic reasons.
Isn’t it amazing that so many people are feeling a need to look into their families genealogy? And why is there such a sudden surge in history programmes on TV? Can it be that people are trying, on a mental level, to re-connect with their personal, tribal, past?
While I may have missed out on the sight of the sun rising spectacularly behind the ancient, iconographic monument (thanks to clouds which seem to follow me to every solstice celebration), I nevertheless enjoyed the two summer solstices I attended at Stonehenge. And despite the heavy rain which marked the 2008 event and the overcrowding and heavy police presence of 2009, I suspect the vast majority of tired souls who dragged their feet back to their cars/vans the morning after the revelries thoroughly enjoyed their experience of the stones also.
These two summer solstices were, without any doubt, the largest pagan gathering I have ever attended. And while some might argue that the majority of people attending these summer solstices at Stonehenge are not 'true' pagans, but are just revellers, I would take issue with this view.