‘Tween Ostara and Beltane by Jo Cousins

By Jo Cousins

‘Tween Ostara and Beltane
I feel nature awaken within.
Whilst there is no bee in mind for the opening petals around my heart
No Ram for this ewe nor
Stag for the doe,
The goddess tells something inside to awaken.
My lips remember the pressure of a kiss,
My body, a gentle embrace
And though not yet fully awakened ,
The sacred loins still to recall lustful desire,
The goddess tells me to trust nature;
The God will come to me through ‘him’.
I do not need to act or seek;
Just trust and rejoice seasons’ passion
and once connected, explore our two worlds together as the blossom blooms and falls.

Summer is Cummin by Elaine Hindle

The Summer is a cumin in
And every living thing can feel it
The central beat of mother Earth
As her heart beats faster to meet the dawn
The sun in all his majesty rises up to meet her
Covering the earth in golden splendour
The budding branches open their flowering faces to the light
Beautiful myriad hues of colour flowing over the fields
The Goddess raiment dappled bright in the sunshine
The deep throated laughter of the God holding Summer court
And all is well with the world as the wheel turns once more
All is growing all is fertile the Mother’s womb is full of promise
As the days lengthen into the languid warm of Summer
The Joyous months of picnics on the high hills
Trips to the beach splashing in pools of coolness
And balmy nights on the porch watching the sun set
Glorious in the west
All this and more are the gifts they give us
For we are blessed

Walpurgis Night

Walpurgis Night, the time is right,
The ancient powers awake.
So dance and sing, around the ring,
And Beltane magic make.

Walpurgis Night, Walpurgis Night,
Upon the eve of May,
We’ll merry meet, and summer greet,
For ever and a day.

New life we see, in flower and tree,
And summer comes again.
Be free and fair, like earth and air,
The sunshine and the rain.

Walpurgis Night, Walpurgis Night,
Upon the eve of May,
We’ll merry meet, and summer greet,
For ever and a day.

As magic fire be our desire
To tread the pagan way,
And our true will find and fulfil,
As dawns a brighter day.

Walpurgis Night, Walpurgis Night,
Upon the eve of May,
We’ll merry meet, and summer greet,
For ever and a day.

The pagan powers this night be ours,
Let all the world be free,
And sorrows cast into the past,
And future blessed be!

Walpurgis Night, Walpurgis Night,
Upon the eve of May,
We’ll merry meet, and summer greet,
For ever and a day.

© Copyright The Doreen Valiente Foundation

Wicca & Satanism – Struggles and Eventual Understanding

During the Occult-boom of the 1960s, in America, two individuals stood out amongst the rest: Sybil Leek of the Horsa Covenant and Anton LaVey of the Church of Satan. (1) 

Unless you were heavily involved already in the Occult community, no one read or cared who Gerald Gardner was, nor who Ray Buckland was at the time in America because most Wiccans were more obscure in American culture, whereas Sybil Leek and Anton LaVey became household names appearing on national television, Time Magazine and many other national syndicated journals. Both of these individuals appeared to be the face of Occultism for the everyday American.  

Gerald Gardner’s books were never best-sellers of any means, but Lavey’s book and Leek’s many published books were. No other out-in-the-open Witch to this day has ever come close to selling as many copies of books worldwide as Sybil did. She was accepted in the mainstream and was read by millions, including her syndicated and national columns. Anton LaVey had a similar story, and his book “The Satanic Bible” is still selling well wherever fine books are sold.

Both of these celebrity occultists also hobnobbed with other major celebrities, including politicians of many stripes. 
Even though they were both in the limelight, Sybil Leek strongly disapproved of Satanism and frequently spoke out against it. Anton LaVey was against Sybil Leek’s idea of white witchcraft as well. In LaVey’s Book, The Satanic Witch (2), LaVey writes, “Whenever a girl becomes a “white witch,” you know she is either kidding herself or has much to learn.” 

The Church of Satan was born in San Fransisco on May Eve (April 30, 1966) and I think we can safely say that *almost* all the modern Satanic groups either split-off of their church or at least received a great of inspiration from them. I think we can safely say they were the pioneers of modern day American Satanism. 

One such Satanic group that separated from the Church of Satan was “The Temple Of Set” (3) in 1975 which was an Occult-initiatory focused form Satanism than LaVey’s model which some might describe at the time as based on lust, materialism and indulgence. The group is still in existence as well to this day. 

One Satanic group that was set apart and is said by some to have came about before Anton LaVey’s, and attracted less attention, was a group in Cleveland/Toledo, Ohio that called themselves “Our Lady of Endor Coven,” formed in 1948, (or maybe late 60s?) and was also known as “Ophite Cultus Sathanas.” It was started by Herbert Sloane, and he and the coven gained attention among the Occult communities in the 1960s through the interviews that appeared in books by Dr. Hans Holzer, Susan Roberts and many others that were all the rage in the late 1960s and early 1970s. 

Our Lady of Endor Coven considered themselves Satanists, Witches and Luciferian in many ways and centered on a Gnostic story of Eve and the Apple in the Garden of Eden, but they were very different from LaVey’s version of philosophical Satanism and the the Temple of Set’s occult-Satanism, as they were by belief system more “Gnostic” in ideals than they were Satanist. For example, there was a book that was a favorite of Sloane’s that was very special to their coven and they used for inspiration called “The Gnostic Religion” by Hans Jonas. (4) They called themselves witches, satanic and Gnostic all at the same time.

Now back to the disputes in Occult outlook between Sybil Leek and Anton LaVey….
Anton LaVey and Sybil Leek would often throw insults at each other. Sybil had once said on the popular radio program from Los Angeles called “Assessment” (5) that LaVey was a “jolly little man and if he stuck to playing the organ he’d do far better.” She also said on another program that she wasn’t anti-religious, she was anti-hypocrisy: “if you are a Catholic, be a very good Roman Catholic. If you are a protestant, be a very good Protestant. If you are a witch, be a good witch, and if you are church of Satan, CHANGE!” This latter statement was made on national television program called “The Amazing World of Kreskin” and you can see this episode uploaded on youtube. (6) 

Anton LaVey’s famous insults back to Sybil can be summed up in a fascinating interview (7) by John J. Fritscher, Ph.D, in which Anyon LaVey says to the interviewer, “I don’t know whether Sybil Leek is as big a fool as she sometimes seems, or whether she’s laughing up her sleeve. Sybil is a good businesswoman. I don’t want to judge her–if she is a good businesswoman she knows on which side her bread is buttered!” (7) LaVey also goes on to more more harshly criticize Gerald Gardner and Alex Sanders. (The author did an excellent job detailing and preserving this great interview and it is worth the read!) 

From his many books, LaVey believed that there was no such thing as white witchcraft or it was at least a term used to fool people. His descriptions in his book, The Satanic Witch (originally titled “The Compleat Witch”), might have a lot in common with the Judeo-Christian version of what a witch is: the seductress or temptress and person of a rebel spirit. I’ve heard over the years a few Christians say that “Rebellion is as of the sin of witchcraft” making the concept of any form of “rebellion” and “witchcraft” the same thing. 

As the role of rebellious temptress, LaVey’s book “The Compleat Witch” was a guide of manipulation to seduce men to do what you want. For example, the Prologue of the book says, “The truly “liberated” female is the Compleat Witch, who knows both how to use and enjoy men.” (2) LaVey also provides a small section on cursing people with dolls. 

Men, were called Warlocks, and did the opposite, seduce women through the opposite manipulation. Just in the last few years, a Satanic book was released to help the men do the same thing to women as the LaVey’s book taught. This book is called “The Satanic Warlock” and was written by Magister Dr. Robert Johnson and the introduction written by the current High Priest of the Church of Satan, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. One piece of “Warlock Wisdom” that Johnson shares with us in his book is that, “He (The Satanic Warlock) denies political correctness, trends and flaccid societal rules, living by his own code.” (8) 

The Church of Satan’s variety of Satanism did not deny indulgence and did not recommend turning the other cheek. If someone hits you, you hit them back. In LaVey’s book “The Satanic Bible”(9) you will find what is called “The Nine Satanic Statements” which serves as a list of tenets to the Church. The Church also practices ritual magic too – instead of calling the space a magical circle, the place they meet for ritual is considered the “intellectual decompression chamber” in The Satanic Bible. That part is an actual clever way to describe it, as that is the same as a Wiccan circle should be for us as Wiccans.
During the Satanic Rituals, or Black Mass, there are three types of magical workings that may be done such as lust, compassion and destruction of enemies.

There are three invocations in the Satanic Bible for these:
1. The Conjuration of Lust

2. The Conjuration of Destruction 

3. The Conjuration of Compassion 

You may wonder reading this why someone like Sybil Leek was so against the idea of Satanism? Well, the reason you see this is because in Satanism, one aim when it comes to ritual magic and political action is to take the ideas of someone else’s religion or belief and degrade them, reverse them, call them out and/or make fun of them. The idea of a “Black Mass” with a nude female altar mimics some of the symbolism found in the Christian Mass and does so in a sensational way.

On the other hand, in Witchcraft; the rituals & workings of Witchcraft are not used to protest or degrade anyone else’s religion. Our Seasonal Rituals celebrated four times a year and our magical spells and incantations are not taken from someone else’s religion to reverse, used for political action of any kind, or to make fun of. 

Inherently, the virtues, statements and tenets of Satanism are not evil – however, most of them are opposite in many ways with what Sybil Leek described as the “Tenets of Witchcraft” which are utilized in the covens that descend from Sybil’s Horsa Coven in order to progress the soul in a progressive, evolutionary way. In Horsa & Sacred Pentagraph in particular, these tenets are something in which we strive for in order after many lifetimes, through the process of reincarnation, our souls can reach perfection.

While Sybil Leek’s Tenets that we follow in the traditions of Wicca that came out of Horsa, which has a strong Theosophical background,  we have a strong focus on the ideals of tolerance, leading a balanced life, Reincarnation/progression of the soul and achieving a harmonious existence with all things around us in nature and finding our place in this world. This sometimes means compromise and negotiation to achieve our goals in an harmonious way. LaVey’s Satanic Statements were concerned with indulgence, lack of compromise, not turning the other cheek and emphasizing the animal nature found in man. 

Today, one of the newest groups under the heading of Satanism that has gained popularity is called “The Satanic Temple” (10) and has gained notoriety through the enactment of demonstrations of a political nature. They also adopted the idea of having tenets (11) of their beliefs too which reminds me of Sybil Leek’s Tenets of Witchcraft.

Reading over The Satanic Temple’s Tenets, I can’t help but state that they seem perfectly reasonable! 

From a great deal of interviews I have watched online given by membership in the Satanic Temple, it seems that many adherents might even describe themselves as Atheists, but they use the symbolism of Satan to represent opposition to the religious majority and to encourage support for suppressed groups. I don’t believe they are  selfish or evil in any way, and in fact, many of the folks that have come out of their movement seem to be good people and fighting for political ideas that most of us would agree with. I know that I first heard about The Satanic Temple on the news because they were protesting local government bodies who were placing the 10 Commandments Statues from the Bible in front of local courthouses and/or other government buildings. They demonstrated and protested this, and even a couple times, placed an effigy of the statue of Baphomet beside the 10 Commandments! As a Wiccan, I fully support the US Constitution that guarantees the separation of church and State. As a citizen, this is not a political issue but a right guaranteed by the US Constitution. It is not a political issue at all, but some churches like to blur the line of what they deem to be “God’s Law” and “Man’s Law.” The Satanic Temple’s demonstrations seem to mainly be performed in order to call out the hypocrisy of the actions of religious folks that wanted to blur the line between church and state. 

It is not just religious liberties, but the TST seem to have an interest in calling out other actions from groups that have marginalized people of color, people of the LGBTQ and other communities. What could be so terrible about that? Once again, it seems reasonable. 
So as you can see, the idea of Satanism has changed over the years. Some groups may have a strong Occult practice, some groups may decide to focus on carnal desires, and some base their work on fighting injustices. I’m sure there is also a bit of cross-over in folks that are interested in multiple ideas. Like us in Wicca, Satanists also have a strong sense of independence when it comes to personal beliefs and can range anywhere from being an atheist, to an occultist, to religious. 

As far as I am aware, the Witch/Satanist of the Herbert Sloan/Our Lady of Endor Coven no longer exist today – but the Church of Satan does and I think it still doing quite well. The newly formed Satanic Temple, which seems to be doing quite well, sounds to have now thousands of members and is found worldwide. Other groups like The Temple of Set are also still in operation. There are probably many other independent Satanic groups as well around just like we have in our religion, Wicca, with groups that are independent and only loosely connected to other Wiccans.

Some of these Satanic groups are far more organized than we are as Wiccans, and I bet many folks who are Wiccan would be able to find some common ground with them even though our paths do have some big differences. There may not have been as healthy of respect for each other at one time, Witch and Satanist, in the 1970s, but today I think there can be some good and healthy respect for each other. 

I do not believe any of the modern Satanic groups are evil or bad in any way – just a different approach to religion, as none of them are connected with any kind of law-breaking or evil as far as I have seen. 

There can be found good philosophy in what many folks in the Satanic Temple have discussed. Though their approach is different than mine, I understand it, and have nothing bad to say about any of these groups. In the past, the delineation was a bit more rough, but today, personally, if I ever met anyone from the Church of Satan or the Satanic Temple or another Satanic group, I bet I would be able to engage well and have an intelligent conversation with them and probably find some common ground even though the approach is different. I’m sure there would be a great deal of mutual agreement amongst many topics.

There was a Satanic group affiliated at one time with The Church of Satan located here in my state of Pennsylvania, but I don’t believe it is in existence anymore. That particular group was run by Rev. Yaj Nomolos in Whitehall, PA. The ritual ideas and sorcery listed in one of his books, “Satanic Rites and Ceremonies,” (13) seem to have a little more in common with my own religion of Wicca since it had some similar practices such as a rite of initiation and rituals for the Sabbat festivals. Nomolos also wrote some other booklets for the Occult communities back in the 1980s that were popular in the Occult Shops because they were published by Original Publications called “The Witches Broomstick Manual” and also “The Magic Circle: It’s Successful Organization and Leadership.” 

At the end of the day, there are many different kinds of modern day Satanism to choose from. I hope this article shows you how myself, as a Wiccan, has been able to open up my mind and thinking process enough to find some common group, even though at one point in our history, many of those who came before us that faced different times and circumstances may not have been able to.

Blessed Be! 

Works Cited & Bibliography:

(1) churchofsatan.com – the Church is still in existence today and it’s current High Priest is Peter Gilmore who has authored a number of books. 

(2) LaVey, Anton Stanford, The Satanic Witch. Feral House, 1970. Print. 

(3) xeper.org – The Temple of Set

(4) Jonas, Hans, The Gnostic Religion. 1958.

(5) https://archive.org/details/pacifica_radio_archives-BB4485.02 Assessment, Episode 2 – “The Witch” 

(6) https://youtu.be/ahBA3uqLwdg “Kreskin meets Witch Dame Sybil Leek”

(7) http://www.jackfritscher.com/Non-Fiction/Witchcraft/Straight%20Witches%20Mouth.html “Straight from the Witch’s Mouth,” by JOHN FRITSCHER, Ph.D. The author also offers a PDF download of this excellent interview as well. 

(8) Johnson, Magister Dr. Robert, The Satanic Warlock. Aperient Press, 2016. 

(9) LaVey, Anton, The Satanic Bible. Avon Books, 1969.

(10) https://thesatanictemple.com, The Satanic Temple. At the time of the writing of this article, advertisements of an upcoming documentary film have been advertised called “Hail Satan?” 

(11) https://thesatanictemple.com/pages/tenets – Listing of Tenets by The Satanic Temple. 

(12) https://youtu.be/27RtJp-rhHk – trailer to the documentary “Hail Satan?” 

(13) Nomolos, S.P., Rev. Yaj, Satanic Rites and Ceremonies. Privately published, 1992. 

Druid Musings by Paul Mitchell

A Druid Meditation with Tarot

Stories are an integral part of the practice of many modern Druids. They offer gateways to spiritual contemplation in their ...
Read More

Druid Musings by Paul Mitchell

I have often been asked what Druidry is about whilst at conferences, camps etc. I think "definitions" of practice are ...
Read More

I have often been asked what Druidry is about whilst at conferences, camps etc. I think “definitions” of practice are all well and good, and there are plenty out there, but it is in distinctive features of practice that we might get a sense of things. So, for me, in my practice of Druidry…….

Druidry offers a framework for practice of my paganism and my own Craft. To this end it does not give a prescribed list of gods and goddesses I am expected to venerate, nor a list of ritual and celebrations that are “core” to my identification with Druidry. It’s a bit like Buddhism, in that it offers an approach. So – I’ll briefly divert here to reference a common misunderstanding of the OBOD system of Druidry (albeit with a note that I don’t speak for the Order in any way). The development materials used by the Order offer us, among other things, a common language across the membership. When we gather (which we do, regularly and frequently) we share some common prayer and practice that helps us join together in our physical and spiritual worlds. The course material is not dogma, it’s a reference point we can use to whatever degree we feel suits.

Key features of my experience of Druidic practice include:

* Each ritual / rite includes a call for peace in each quarter and across the world: We really like peace. In the finding of peace we explore justices and try to connect people with people. In living peace we find space for kindness and creativity. Peace rocks.

* The love of justice is core to our philosophy: Meditating upon justice, what it means where and when to whom…. how it might be achieved and how we might contribute is a key druid thing. Justice is at the heart of peace – and like peace it is really very hard to find.

* Recognition and engagement with the Awen: There’s a whole essay to be written about this – but put simply our willingness and ability to engage with creative processes, and to recognise these, links us to a spiritual dynamic that is amongst the very essence of ourselves as humans. Some of us feel that creativity and the pursuit of it is a rite that connects us to whatever the devine is. This isn’t just about mainstream art (music, drawing, poetry), it is as likely to be found in cooking, childcare, motorbike riding….

* Honouring of Ancestors: Often a tricky one – respect for our ancestors, through blood and through mud, connects us to history and its actors on a personal level.

* Honouring Spirit of Place: Wherever we are, particularly when engaging in ritual, we recognise that the landscape has a Spirit of Place associated with it. It’s best not to get too caught up in the thinking and logic as the experience of connecting with the Spirit of Place is often a great barometer of how things are going to work out in that space. I have a couple of relevant stories should you be interested, drop me a line or buy me a beer…

* Trees: Tree’s are great. We tend to have an affinity to them. I can imagine a Druidic practice that has a relationship with rocks, or one that is focused on clouds. There is something about a “totemic” connection to a representation of nature that is integral to much Druidry. However, on the whole, trees are the thing.

On top of all this is the concept of “service”. Certainly in OBOD, those engaged or having completed their Druid studies are encouraged to find ways to offer service to their communities. This REALLY doesn’t have to be about being a PAGAN volunteering because you are a PAGAN and everyone needs to know its about being a PAGAN!!! It’s about our roles as people who have reflected deeply upon our spirituality finding a way to use our time and personal resources to support others. As little ego as possible is best.

There are a lot of druids and druid types out there, and they might offer some different views on things I’ve suggested…. but that’s kind of the way these things go.

Paul Mitchell is a musician who enjoys a low level of notoriety on the UK Pagan scene. He also offers talks on some stuff. Check out his Facebook page, or even his music

Doreen Valiente – Witch, biography book launch at Treadwells Book Shop London

Doreen Valiente’s Official Biographer, Philip Heselton and his wife Hilary.
The day arrived, 21st February 2016, and we were all assembled in the basement of Treadwells Book Shop in London, for the book launch. The room was packed, and there was a great atmosphere.

The proceedings were opened by Ashley Mortimer who has without a doubt worked very hard to get the book into publication, this book is now the centre piece of the Centre For Pagan Studies ever growing publications.

Philip Heselton gave an insightful talk into the life of Doreen Valiente, which included the part about the mystery of Doreen’s activities during the Second World War.

Julie Belham-Payne took the floor and spoke for a short while, she called for a short silence to mark the death of her husband, John Belham-Payne, and then after thanks to all those who were involved in the publication of this magnificent book, she called for three cheers for Philip Heselton. A very enthusiastic applause followed.

Then a presentation by Christina Oakley-Harrington, proprietor of Treadwells Bookshop on witches and the media. The slide show was wonderful and it was really informative as well as enjoyable to see many images of sky clad witches, and some who just couldn’t go the whole way so wore a necklace as a token gesture!

After that a short film on the life of Doreen which included clips of Doreen actually speaking.

Following on, a reading of “Elegy for a Dead Witch” by Sarah Kay.

Then we were treated to Ginger Wine, cucumber sandwiches (with the crusts cut off), and Battenburg cake – all favourites of Doreen’s.

The book can be purchased online from our online store: http://www.shop.doreenvaliente.org/
and all profits support the Doreen Valiente Foundation.

Brighton Bewitched 2016

The Doreen Valiente Foundation will be back in Brighton for Witchfest 2016.
Witchfest is on 25th/26th/27th November which is also the final weekend
for the display of Doreen’s artefacts at Preston Manor.
We’ll have a stall out with the other community and charity
organisations during some of the day where you can buy books,
merchandise and Foundation memberships as well as a few “Witchfest
specials” (which you can also buy online from our webstore).

Of course Witchfest will see us take to the stage again, one year on
from John Belham-Payne making the announcement about the opening of the
exhibition. As mentioned above, Witchfest weekend will be the last
chance to see the exhibition, just up the road in Brighton at Preston
Manor – click here for more details
) and we’ll be looking back at this historic year, talking about the
exhibition and our future plans and remembering John who so tragically
passed away in February, just before the exhibition opened. We’ll also
have our trustee Ashley Mortimer popping up on the Witchfest “Ask A
Witch Panel”

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s the new play about Doreen Valiente
entitled “Doreen, An English Witch” which is playing during the weekend
with it’s final performance on the Sunday afternoon – More information here.

For those without tickets for the play, or those who want to have a bit of a gathering on the Sunday morning, we’ll be at the Marlborough Theatre
from 11.30am on Sunday 27th where you can come and chat to us, get
directions to Preston Manor or just warm up for the play in the
afternoon.

Doreen Valiente Foundation

The Doreen Valiente Foundation
is a charitable trust dedicated to the protection and preservation of
pagan heritage and to making it accessible to the public. Support us by
donating money, sponsoring us or by buying books and merchandise from
the
Doreen Valiente Webstore

Lupercalia or What’s in a Wolf Whistle!

As we are in the time of the Roman – or possibly pre-Roman festival of Lupercalia, Feb 13 – 15th, I thought I would find out if it had any links to the Christian St Valentines day 14 February.

My research confirmed my suspicions, that Pope Gelasius I, had super-imposed St Valentines day onto the Pagan festival of Lupercalia.
Valentines day is named after 2 men who had been executed by Emperor Claudius II — both named Valentine —
on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom
was honoured by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St.
Valentine’s Day.

I must say the Roman festival sounds more fun and more likely to achieve its purpose of fertility (see the heat map of births which coincide with a gestation which would follow conception on or around the festival).
The name Lupercalia comes from latin – lupus – meaning wolf, and the Lupercal was the cave where the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf.

This brings me neatly to the Roman goddess Venus – who was the mother of the Roman people through her son Aenaeus, the goddess who tames Warriors but gives them victory too. Venus who turns the hearts of men and women from sexual vice into virtue, a goddess of disparate functions, is very much present at this time of year. Oh and the wolf whistle? – that’s about lust!

Richard Levy of the Centre For Pagan Studies talks to Lora OBrien, Irish Author and Guide to Ireland

Richard Levy
RICHARD LEVY BIO: I began my pagan path at a young age but and magic is something I feel was always a part of my life. But with time I learned how to nourish this part of myself. I feel today we are encouraged to ignore these parts of who we are and it is something we re-learn. It is in many ways learning to do what breeze and river and bird do naturally. I studied philosophy and theology at university and whilst I did not have formal training I learned a lot from people I met along my path from Children to adults. Should people want to contact me about the interview they can contact me on: mailto:rlevy285@gmail.com
LORA O’BRIEN BIO: Lora is a traditionally published Author, Teacher, and Guide: native born Irish, with strong personal and professional experience in our history, heritage, archaeology, mythology, & Irish Spirituality. She is a modern Draoí – a practitioner and priest of indigenous Irish magic and spirituality, in the simplest terms. Lora has been consciously following a pagan path for 25 years, and dedicated specifically to the Irish Goddess Mórrígan 14 years ago. She managed one of Ireland’s most important sacred sites – Cruachán/Rathcroghan – for a decade, and is a co-founder and legal celebrant, a Reverend, with Pagan Life Rites Ireland.

Today’s Interview:

Richard Levy, admin on the Centre for Pagan Studies FB Group.
When and where did your interest in Pagan/Earth based Spirituality begin?
Whilst my vocabulary and intellectual understanding did not go far
till I was twelve I would say it was present from my earliest memories.
This came through in my interest and love of myths and faerie tales,
which I still have. I give talks on this subject and perform
storytelling to this day.

I talked to everything: trees, toys and animals and loved films that
involved magic, witches and wizards. I always wanted to be one.

With this I also had psychic experiences, some I interpreted as evil
or dangerous which I have learnt as I matured were not. I would see and
speak with faerie and other beings and in some ways it held such a
common place I didn’t realise it was magical though I still wanted
magic.

How did you practically go about getting started, and
what resources did you have available to you eg. books, teaching
courses, events, people you met?
I wanted to explore all this more and when I was 12, an esoteric shop
opened in my local high street. I cant recall how but I had funds for
some books and used my local library to take on as many books as I could
on magic, paganism and divination.

I met some pagans early on but they wore glittery robes and to my
mind were more style over substance, this made me keep my distance.

As I got older I tried again and found some intelligent, interesting and wonderful people.

Additionally I joined a spiritualist circle which allowed me to
practice my communication with spirits as well as divination and
healing.

What does being Pagan mean to you? (or your term of choice, please explain!)
Pagan to me today is an umbrella term for those practicing earth
based spirituality, often reinvented or restructured, which is good as a
religion of the earth should evolve, which a religion of the book tends
to struggle with. I am more inclined to use the term witch or magician
as my focus is on magical work. To me these are working titles, I am not
interested in hierarchical titles or being called adept etc (which I am
not) simply I work with various powers and in doing so these terms are
titles of that.

Some see more in them and that is fine and some romanticise the terms
and I am not sure how I feel about that. For me I have simply answered a
calling but I still have to clean the kitchen and iron my clothes.

To me a Pagan path is essentially, a narrative of the earth, within various traditions are its own nuances.

What sort of things do you do on a daily/weekly, monthly or seasonal basis to explore or express your Spirituality?
I do daily meditations and simple rituals of stillness. Seasonally I perform basic rituals to bring in the power of the season to flow
through myself, home and land. Or I just walk among nature and let
myself connect. On Spring Equinox I like to go to Kew Garden for
example. I like to walk in my local woods and see how things are growing
and how it feels.

What advice do you wish someone had given you, that you would like to give people starting out on this path?
I realise that magic is in all things. It is in ritual and
conversation it is in the kabbalah and the sun, the moon and the rain.
It is all around us all the time and in our childhoods. I realised one
day I knew more than I realised and that the bible I was raised in (not
fundamentally) was full of magic, along with the faerie tales I grew up
with.

It may seem obvious that faerie tales are full of magic, but getting
at the patterns within them and the magical messages took me time. When
we mature we think magic isnt faerie tales, we know it as something
practical and powerful. In being mature we let go of Childish things,
but there is a difference being childish and being childlike and being
childlike. Being childlike is a gift.

I think mystery is in that we know more than we are aware of and that awareness comes from experience.

What is the name of the Facebook Group you admin, and how
did you get involved there? (please feel free to provide group details
eg. member numbers or general guidelines, and a link to group)
The Centre of Pagan Studies has been going on for some time. I got
involved last year after reading Philip Heselton’s biography of Doreen
Valiente. I had been looking to give back to the Pagan community and
found Doreen to be an inspiration person who had been involved so
decided to offer to help. The Centre for Pagan Studies FB Group is Here.

What is the most frustrating thing for you about being involved with that group?
I think it can be frustrating to find the right vocabulary. In magic
and Paganism we do not really have our own language so we have to work
quite philosophically to communicate effectively. I have seen people
essentially agree with each other but end up arguing as their words are
interpreted differently. Ultimately it is not really a problem just a
shame its hard to bypass.

What is the most satisfying thing for you about being involved with that group?
The fact that we remember those who came before us who made strides
for Paganism. We have set up blue plaques for people like Gerald Gardner
and Doreen Valiente. Also people involved are very engaged in the
subject matter and we discuss often some ancient practices which some
people still practice or have come across. We attempt to provide both an
educational resource (giving talks for example) and discussing these
subject matters keeping it organic and shifting.

If you could guarantee that each group member had read AT LEAST one book before joining, what book would that be?
I think it would be hard to pin point one book but I would go back to
faerie tales. To have read some of the Grimm brothers work and look
into the early stories as well as the colour books (The yellow fairy
book, red fairy book etc compiled by Andrew Lang).

There are some great occult books out there and some bad ones, though
I found all of those helped me develop a magical vocabulary.

Further to this I would encourage to read history and anthropology as well as classical texts.

Anything else youd like to share?!
Whilst books are great the essence of magic is doing it and living
it. The essence of paganism is in practicing it and living it. Keep it
simple and embrace the stories you were told growing up and the cartoons
you may have seen (often based on these books). When you have
conversations remember language is insufficient to express magic and
spirituality. So take care. When I talk to magical practitioners of
various traditions if you work to find a common language, we find we
have a lot in common.
would encourage people to tread lightly and to take their time and to listen.

Richard Levy works with the Centre for Pagan Studies and the Doreen Valiente Foundation.



Richard Levy of the Centre For Pagan Studies talks to Lora OBrien, Irish Author and Guide to Ireland