Friday, November 29, 2013

A Witch’s Natural History

A Witch’s Natural History, originally published as a series of essays in The Cauldron, is a meditation on the relationship between folklore and nature. The world’s dogmatic religions all have their devotional texts, and biological science, too, has its own rationalistic equivalents, from Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle to Richard Dawkins’s The Ancestor’s Tale. Natural historians have written their works of devotion to the works of nature: a genre which has been recognizable ever since Gilbert White wrote The Natural History of Selborne. It is at work in the poems of John Clare, and the essays of W.H. Hudson, Richard Jefferies and Richard Mabey, but it also stands at the centre of the beliefs and practices of modern pagans. A Witch’s Natural History is intended as a small contribution to modern witchcraft’s own devotional literature of nature, drawing on scientific, folkloric and experiential sources.

 Giles Watson explores the lore, legends and life-histories of a selection of animals which are commonly employed as motifs in the history of witchcraft: culturally maligned creatures such as reptiles, amphibians, crows and rats. He also casts light on the magical significance of more commonly neglected birds, spiders, insects and snails, before turning his attention to plants, and whole ecosystems which have cultural associations with witchcraft. He combines a call for a new reverence for nature with a fascination for some of folklore’s strangest representations of our dependence upon it: from the toad-bone amulet in East Anglian witchcraft to the seductive Queen Rat of the Toshers in Bermondsey. This is a book not only for those practitioners of the Craft who wish to be more informed in their response to the natural world – but also for anyone who is interested in natural history and its impact on folkloric beliefs and practices.

 One hundred and seventy four pages in content, the paperback binding is to be presented in Demy format 16 x 138mm. The hardback edition is to be presented in a Royal format gold foil-blocked case binding in Green, with green and black head and tail bands, and Aubergine end papers.
Book Contents:

Unfamiliar Spiders
The Witch and the Insect
Slugs, Snails and Sorcery
The Curse of the Oracle: Corvids in myth and lore
Yaffles, Gabble-Ratchets, Wudu-Snites and Assilags
Foul and Loathsome Animals’: Amphibians and the Lore of the Witch
Adder’s Fork and Blind-Worm’s Sting’: the Magical Reptile
The Queen Rat and the Hanoverian Curse
Cryptogams: The Spore-Bearing Plants
Through the Lychgate
The Witch by the Hedge
The Witch by Moor and Wood and Shore
Beyond the Crooked Stile 139
Epilogue The Living Bones: A Meditation
 Giles Watson was born in Southampton, but immigrated to Australia with his parents at the age of one, and lived there for the next twenty-five years, before returning to Britain to live successively in Durham, Buckinghamshire and the Isles of Scilly. He has been writing poetry and taking photographs for as long as he can remember, and has more recently experimented with painting and film, in order to indulge his fascination with the relationship between text and image. Giles also writes prose essays on natural history and mediaeval visual culture, is an avid walker and amateur naturalist, and has a keen interest in folklore, art and theatre. As a secondary school teacher, he has taught English, History, Drama, Sociology and Film. He lives in rural Oxfordshire, inspired by his partner Jeannie, and by the ancient and natural history of the region.

Visit Troy Books for ordering details



Friday, November 22, 2013

Erythronium Americanum

Adder’s Tongue

Folk Names: Dog-tooth Violet, Erythronium, Lamb's Tongue, Rattlesnake Violet, Serpent's Tongue, Snake Leaf, Trout Lily, Yellow Erythronium, Yellow Snakeleaf and Yellow Snowdrop
Description: Perennial lily.  Found deep rich soil, the ovoid corm root is 1/3 to 1 inch long, light brown outside and white and starchy inside. Lanceolate, pale green leaves approx 2 1/2 inches long and 1 inch wide with purplish/brownish spots. Drooping or bowed head, funnel-shaped flower bud developing into a yellow or white flower outside with yellow inside, backward curving petals.

When: March to May on a long stalk growing from between the leaves. Grows in community of its peers.

Location: Nova Scotia to Oklahoma, Georgia, and Florida.  Open woods or open areas with rich, moist soil.

Planet: Moon
Element: Water
Gathering Time: Waning for ailments, full for magical attributes.

Magic: Lust or to combat frigidity. Bulbs and leaves may be used for tumors and boils. Apply to a wound or bruise until the herb is warm, then bury it.  As the plant rots the condition with fade. Used for protection when adding ground dried leaves to salt and sprinkled around the home.  Heightens spiritual connection.  Infusion of leaves applied to forehead to instill courage.

Medical Indications: Parts used: bulbs, leaves.
An infusion of this herb may be use as an emetic. Emollient for ulcers. (use caution)

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Charmers' Psalter - Limited Edition

The Psalms, mysterious in their origins and possibly far pre-dating their appearance within Judeo-Christian Scripture, have a long history of magical use. We encounter the Psalms within the rites and talismanic magic of the grimoires, and their prolific employment within Charming, Cunning and folk-magical tradition. Herein the methods of their use are varied and incorporate magical acts of utterance, inscription, bottling, burning, sprinkling, pouring and burial in conjunction with various substances and materials.

Serving a vast array of needs, principally for healing, protection and the averting of evil, but also long employed within acts of cursing, the Psalms are an established feature of traditional operative magic yet also an indicium of engaging with the world of spirit, the divine and the unseen:
“Whilst the traditional magical uses of the Psalms may appear to be almost entirely for the serving of material needs and desires, rather than for purposes of spiritual advancement, they are possessed of great beauty, and in one's recourse to them in times of distress and great difficulty there is to be attained a moment of contemplative comfort, and an acknowledgement of the immanence of the divine presence; turned to for spiritual strength and assistance.”

(From the Introduction and Manner of Use)

 The Charmers' Psalter by Gemma Gary is born from a personal working collection of magical Psalms and other verbal charms, here presented in a convenient 'pocket book' format (100mm x 150mm), so that it may always be on hand to the contemporary Charmer for reference should need of it arise.

Limited to an edition of 250 hand numbered and signed examples, The Charmers' Psalter is case bound using recycled leather fibres in replica of green Morocco, and foil blocked in copper with black end papers and black and gold head and tail bands.
Visit Troy Books for ordering details.

Gemma's books come highly recommended, I personally own 'Traditional Witchcraft: A Cornish Book of Ways' and 'The Black Toad' both in hardcover.  I bought a copy of 'The Charmers' Psalter -  Limited Edition' this afternoon.  Eagerly looking forward to receiving it. Troy Press does an excellent job.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hekate Appellations

Distant One 
The Far Darter 
Queen of Night 
Night Mother 
Queen of the Ghosts 
Queen of the Witches
Mother of Witches 
Mistress of Magic 
Most Lovely One
Prytania "The Invincible Queen Of The Dead"
Soteira "Saviour"
Propylaia "The One Before The Gate"
Nykteria  "She of the Night"
Propolos "The Attendant Who Leads"
Phosphoros "Light-bringer"
Kourotrophos  "Child-Nurse"
Khthoniai "Of the Earth"
Antaia "The Sender Of Nocturnal Visions"
Nyktipolis Khthonie "Night-Wanderer Of The Underworld"
Brimo "Angry" or "Terrifying", also meaning the crackling of a fire (as in Hekate's torches)
Enodia "Goddess of the Paths"

Monday, November 4, 2013

Silent Supper

We've traveled another year full circle. Once more we set the table offering comfort and reassurance to those who gathered from the other side.  The guest list has grown with the passing of another year; that night my mother stood silently among the Beloved Dead. 

Every year we willing offer our home as a respite to our ancestors and friends; for on Samhain night the dead move comfortably among the living. The energy in the house changes, as it always does, to accommodate invited guests who need no formal introduction.  

At evening's close the warmth between us was strong and heartfelt through the growing and billowing veil; and once more we bid goodbye comforted in the knowledge that this evening will lovingly come 'round again.

Photos by Aurora Raven all rights reserved.