Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Beyond the Veil Supper

The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway~
Thanksgiving comes again!
~Old Rhyme

We set the table for loved ones beyond the veil, giving thanks for all they've done for us; for without their aid, their love and care, we would not be where we are today.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Sea Sprowl

The storm's fingers reach for the coast where we live.  The amount of energy that is building is beyond palpable.  Standing on the ocean's bank, salted spray caught in a driving wind lashes rock, sand and bracken.  In a few short hours that will change to so much more.  Lingering long is not an option.


A deep guttural moan created by breaking wave and ragged wind upon this rugged shoreline sounds like a wind-roarer whirled by the hand of an ancient god. Leaves are torn from slender branch and twisted twig that belonged to the weather beaten trees I stand amongst for companionship and dwindling shelter.

 Energy like this reminds me what it means to be a practitioner of the old ways. I never question the push and pull of a storm's pulse. I've learned to be prepared, as best one can.

Upon returning home, I hear the wail of the wind trying to find a 'way in'. It's voice, perhpas that of a lonely soul who once knew shelter such as mine.
A cup of tea, cat in lap, and candles at the ready are my only plans just now.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Entering the Twylyte

In order to ‘ride the hedge’ one must learn the skills necessary to do so by ‘Entering the Twylyte.’

Trance is used for a number of reasons, one of which is in order to ‘see’ from a different vantage point.  Not all divination, spells or charms can be created from a mundane mind-set.  Another term for this technique or ability is 'Crossing the Hedge.'

 Denizens of the Otherworld are important allies who help the practitioner acquire a clearer perspective into a given situation.  The use of the correct arte for the matter at hand is part of the Cunning Folks' stock and trade.

 A Hedge Rider is on a shamanic path within the Traditional Path.  Other names are Walkers Between the Worlds and Rim Walkers. 

 Hedge Riders often engage in 'Spirit Flight' and enter, within their race, the Otherworld. The companion on such journeys are moths, the night butterflies that slip between the worlds unheard.  Once there they act as mediators of messages from the Old Ones beyond the Veil.  Birds associated with hedge-riding are Crows, Ravens and Owls.

 As a hedge often delineated the boundary of a town, 'To Ride the Hedge' is to have the ability to cross the boundary between this world, the mundane, and the Other.  Whatever the symbol to the people of the barrier, the idea of the boundary is key to this Path. 
 The use of masks to 'Enter the Twylight' is common and worn to be recognized by the Otherworld Spirits as to who one is when they enter their realm;  this idea harkens back to a 12th century reference by C.E. Law :  'Woman, I saw you riding the fence switch with loose hair and belt, the troll skin (mask), at the time when night and day are equal.'

 Hedge Riders are seen astride a broom, riding-pole or pitchfork, many times turned backwards to the classic 'flying witch' depictions of today and represent the phallic energy of the Great Horned God of the Witches.  They are also known to be forked at the end which became the tool called a stang. 

 Today some hearths and solitaries use ointments' to achieve altered states of consciousness, while others train in the yogic skills of meditation.  One uses 'Spirit Flight' to speak with the Old Ones, ancestors and entities.  


Paintings: Luis Riardo Falero

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Allantide- The Herald

Returning home from the market yesterday, along a road that has now become familiar, I was struck by the change of season .  The sun was setting, angled through a stand of deciduous trees, its rays were scattered through the woods by trunk and branch.  This particular view had been obscured all summer long from the road and it wasn't until yesterday, upon seeing the sun from this vantage point that I really felt the approach of Allantide.

Allantide (in Cornish Calan Gwaf or Nos Calan Gwaf) is a festival celebrated on  October  31st.  Here in the States we refer to it as Samhain or Halloween. The festival itself has pre-Christian origins similar to most celebrations on this date.  In Cornwall England there are references stating that the holiday is linked to St Allen or Arlan who was a Cornish Saint. Not much information can be found on him however.  Still, Allantide is celebrated by many who follow the Old ways as the Celtic New Year.  But yet again there are some who would say that this is a false belief.

The ease with which one can observe one's faith in small hearth circles, or as solitaries, allows individuals the freedom to celebrate the holidays as they see fit.  Given that I am drawn to the Cornish culture within my practice, Allantide is, therefore, the herald of the New Year.  A time when the veil between the worlds grows thin; when reaching into and through the misty membrane of time is an opportunity to communicate with those who have gone before.

The following is a description of the festival as it was celebrated in Penzance at the turn of the 19th century.  However the practice described is very much alive in the modern witch's home  in Cornwall and elsewhere today.

"The shops in Penzance would display Allan apples, which were highly polished large apples. On the day itself, these apples were given as gifts to each member of the family as a token of good luck. Older girls would place these apples under their pillows and hope to dream of the person whom they would one day marry. A local game is also recorded where two pieces of wood were nailed together in the shape of a cross. It was then suspended with 4 candles on each outcrop of the cross shape. Allan apples would then be suspended under the cross. The goal of the game was to catch the apples in your mouth, with hot wax being the penalty for slowness or inaccuracy."
Robert Hunt in his book 'Popular romances of the West of England' describes Allantide in St Ives.

The ancient custom of providing children with a large apple on Allhallows-eve is still observed, to a great extent, at St Ives. "Allan-day," as it is called, is the day of days to hundreds' of children, who would deem it a great misfortune were they to go to bed on "Allan-night" without the time-honoured Allan apple to hide beneath their pillows. A quantity of large apples are thus disposed of the sale of which is dignified by the term Allan Market.

References1.                              * Robert Hunt Popular Romances of the West of England 19022.                              *MA Courtney Folklore and Legends of Cornwall 18903.                              *Simon Reed - The Cornish Traditional Year 20094.                              *AK Hamilton Jenkin - Cornwall and the Cornish 1932

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Almighty Dead

The River of Blood is the ancestral pool that we, as humans, belong to; this is our bloodline to the Almighty or Beloved Dead.

Understand that within Traditional Wytchcraft, we do not hold that those on the other-side are hovering around us, or that they live in another realm waiting for Samhain to draw near....on the contrary, they are part of the land.  The Land and the Dead are One.

What that means is that the Almighty Dead are literally the powers within the land; not addressed as aunt, uncle, grandparents or departed children, but as energies with abilities both mundane and magical.

Their knowledge is based on their experiences; all the ancient lore is derived from their beliefs, aspirations and fears.  All that knowledge is available to us through a practice we call Tapping the Bone.

As guardians, the Almighty Dead hold all the information of what they witnessed, achieved and aspired to in their life.  All that information is still pulsing through the energy of nature, in a different language, one we learn to understand. 

The Dead were once as we are now, what they breathed out, we now breathe in; the sweat that evaporated from their bodies as they worked, loved and fought became the river we draw water from today and the soil in which we grow our food contains their remains.

Some ancestors are addressed as the Spirit of Place; they are the lineage of the land which contains their vibration; when we call for aid and insight our answer may not come from the spirit of a distant relative but instead through totems, the wind or the call of a hawk overhead.

When we honor the Mighty Dead in ritual, we honor the collective energy of those who were, those who are currently passing into the ether and those we will eventually become.