Friday, May 30, 2014

Death Cafe

 Wednesday was the first Death Cafe held in my area.  A simple gathering over light fare to discuss death; not a support or grief group, just people who came together to share feelings, insights and issues about the inevitable with no agenda, sales pitch, or anything to buy, just a conversation about a subject society tries to avoid.

Where did this idea come from?

The Death Cafe was developed in 2010 by Jon Underwood, a web programmer in England, who was inspired by similar concepts in Switzerland and France.
Nonprofit and nondenominational, they came to the United States in 2012. There have been 750 Death Cafes held in 17 countries, including more than 500 in the United States.
"Death has a lot of real estate in terms of cemeteries, hospitals, funerals, and hospices, but there's really nowhere for people who are alive to get together to talk about what unites us all.... so it's become the province of professionals rather than something that's held in a community," said Underwood.
NPR recently broadcast a segment about La Crosse, Wisconsin, "the town where everyone talks about death."
Nearly 96 percent of people who have died there had advance directives; nationally, only 30 percent of people who die have advance directives.
"Our hope is that people will become more comfortable discussing death with neighbors and family members, and make appropriate plans, including wills, estate planning, and advance directives to guide loved ones in the coming days," said Lindquist.
Lindquist said a Death Cafe is neither bereavement nor a grief support resource.
"We look forward to meeting people in the community who would like to discuss the needs and desires of all of us who will reach this point sooner or later," said Lindquist.

Lindquist is a Camden resident and artist, active in the community and interested in supporting aging issues and open discussions in a "nonexpert” and open setting.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Plant Healer Magazine

Enlivening the practice, culture, & art of folk herbalism!

Featuring  experience-based & adventurous writings by teachers, practitioners & plant lovers combining inquiry, inspiration & skills in artful celebration of the evolving folk herbalism culture.

Departments & Topics Include:

Therapeutics • Plant Monographs • Historic Herbal Traditions • Early American Herbalism • Curanderas & Medicine Women • Plant Mythos & Folklore • Medicine Making • Cultivating Garden Herbs • Wild Foods, Foraging & ReWilding • Energetics & Constitutions • Tools & Tips for Herbalists • Field Botany • The Herbalist Mother • Herbal Articles For & By Kids • Fiction for Herbalists • Creating an Herbal Livelihood  • Plant Conservation & Herbal Activism • Herbalist Art, Fashion & Culture

“This is the first publication I’ve seen in my 38-year career that captures the wild diversity of herbalism in North America while still reflecting excellence and high-level practice… points of view from many regions, traditions, and schools of North American thought...for the practicing herbalist from entry level to advanced, inclusively.”

-Paul Bergner, North American Institute of Medical Herbalism

Friday, May 9, 2014

Beltane Fire Festival 2014

Here is an excerpt from the Beltane Fires site explaining, as they only can, just what it is like to attend this unbelievable annual event in Edinburgh Scotland.  A favorite haunt of mine.

It's a must see...........

Beltane Fire Festival is presented as ‘investigative theatre’; set outdoors and with no physical curtains or barriers. We advertise a ‘doors open’ time along with an approximation of when the performance will begin (around 9.30pm, also known as ‘common twilight’) and of course a set time for the public to leave Calton Hill too, but that is as much of a nod to traditional theatre as you’ll find.

There are few barriers between the audience and performers which offers up opportunity for an immersive experience. It is one where you are likely to come face-to-face with one of our colourful characters, or can step back and marvel at the scale of a production wrought in only two months by around three hundred volunteers. The presentation may leave you figuratively in the dark regarding what is being portrayed, but there is also a chance you may find yourself literally there too. One suggestion is to ‘head to the high ground and then follow the sound of drumming’. 

If you haven't experienced the festival, there is no central point where everything is performed, rather there are multiple points of focus that are spread around the marvellous public parkland on Calton Hill. A large part of the story follows the Procession of the May Queen around the Hill, but there are also counter-performances which have evolved to bring balance to the darker parts of the park. (Again: follow the sound of the drums.) The Procession’s presence awakens one group after another, each then continuing to play a part throughout the evening; the Hill comes alive, mirroring the earth’s awakening through Spring.

In general we shy away from the use of actual staging as that presents an instant barrier between performance and witness. That’s not an exclusive rule however, as both of the major ‘set piece’ performances utilise staging to help balance their sheer scale. The first is during the spectacular opening sequence at the National Monument (known lovingly as The Acropolis) and the second during the penultimate event of the evening: The Death and Rebirth of the Green Man. In other words we attempt to match the tool to the job.

Finally, Beltane Fire Festival is a continuous performance lasting over three hours. Attendees have the opportunity to create their own breaks in which to step back and raise a toast to the onset of Summer.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Ameth: Life and Times of Doreen Valiente

Ameth: The Life and Times of Doreen Valiente
by Jonathan Tapsell
Coming soon from Avalonia…
Pre-order* your copy now!
Paperback, 130pp, £12.99 with FREE P&P (worldwide)

Release date: Beltane, May 2014

AMETH is the first definitive biography of Doreen Valiente (1922 – 1999), an English Witch who became known as ‘the Mother of Modern Witchcraft’.  Based on the author’s work collating her artefacts, interviewing people who knew her, reading and researching numerous personal magical documents and correspondence bequeathed by Doreen, this book gives unparalleled insight into her magical life.
Evocatively recreating the atmosphere of post-1951 British Witchcraft, following the repeal of the Witchcraft Act, the author explores Doreen’s magical journey- including her initiation and relationship with Gerald Gardner. The reader is guided on a journey from the 1950’s through to the early 1970’s as she worked and interacted with Charles Cardell and the Coven of Atho, Robert Cochrane and the Clan of Tubal Cain, as well as the Regency coven.

Ameth chronicles the whole of Doreen Valiente’s colourful and varied life. It emphasises her fight to establish Pagan rights, and her subsequent role as one of the leading spokespersons for the Pagan revival from the 1960s until her death in 1999. Through her own published books and her contribution to the work of Janet and Stewart Farrar, she reinforced her position as one of the most significant and influential priestesses of the twentieth century. Her research to find Dorothy Clutterbuck (Dafo) may have saved the credibility of modern Witchcraft, and took her towards what was arguably the height of her achievements, her contribution to the foundations of the rapidly growing religion of Wicca.

As an author, priestess, researcher and pagan spokeswoman, Doreen Valiente occupied a unique position in leading the resurgence of magic, perhaps best exemplified by her creation of the Wiccan Rede – “an it harm none, do what ye will”. Possessed of a fiery spirit and willingness to challenge dogma in her search for truth (the meaning of Ameth, her witch name), Doreen’s tireless quest serves as an example of the power of the human spirit to accomplish transformation on a major scale.

Extract …
“At this rite Gardner and Dafo gave their new initiate a secret Witch-name known only to those within the Craft. Doreen was from then on to be known as – Ameth. Gardner is likely to have said these words taken from his own Book of Shadows: “Hear, ye Mighty Ones, (Ameth) hath been consecrated Priestess and Witch of the Gods.” before asking the Gods to depart. Ameth true to her secret oaths of the Old Religion would neither disclose to either her husband or mother that she was now a fully-fledged Witch.”…
“As the ceremony progressed the newly initiated Witch, Doreen, would have been anointed, given wine from a chalice, gently scourged for purification and eventually untied and the blindfold taken away.  At its conclusion she would have been presented with an athame (a witch’s knife), a wand to invoke spirits, a white handled knife, a scourge and a censor for incense. Another magical artefact, belonging to the Witch, was the cords used to bind her during the ceremony. One cord measured nine feet long and was to be used to make magical circles and another cord was used for spells. She was now a member of the coven and only another two degrees stood between her and the title of High Priestess in the art magical…”

About the Author:
Jonathan Tapsell was born in 1964 in Sussex, the last county to  convert to Christianity and only then at the point of the sword. His interests in history and the esoteric led him to be chosen to archive the worlds largest treasury of Witchcraft memorabilia – the Doreen Valiente collection in 1999. The result of Jonathan’s work led to the publication of Doreen’s poetry being published posthumously in ‘Charge of the Goddess’. His own work includes making action films in Asia, educational documentaries for the House of Lords, organising festivals and writing in numerous magazines. As an author he has written several books including one which is considered a minor gonzo classic.

Original Cover Illustration by Rowan Wulfe
* All pre-ordered copies will be dispatched on or before the release date, or as soon as the book becomes available.