Time to Sharpen up Our Game?

October marked one of the perhaps most memorable moments for Paganism in the last decade, as Druidry was recognized as an official religion and awarded charitable status by the Charity Commission. Following this, an article was written by Melanie Philips of the Daily Mail entitled ‘Stones of Praise Here We Come’, which sparked off a huge debate both within pagan communities as well as on the Daily Mail website. Now considering the time of year, we should really have expected another controversial article to reach the headlines! And we were not to be disappointed, as this time the Daily Telegraph writer Damian Thompson posted his own view on Paganism and witchcraft on – (you guessed it) – the 31st October, entitled ‘The BBC Sucks up to Pagans’.

My initial reaction to both of these articles was amusement. Both were so badly written and biased to their own personal perspectives that it was no wonder that the articles only made it to a blog, and never to actual newspaper print. It also became obvious with a very brief amount of research that both journalists were renowned for writing controversial, biased and bigoted articles. The first reaction of many in the Pagan community, including myself, was to retaliate on the newspaper forums – but I think it is important that as a community, we try not to resort to a victim mentality in these cases. We could argue about whose faith is older or more genuine – or more persecuted !! – until the cows come home. These journalists are paid to write articles which are going to get attention – they are rewarded for coming up with the most controversial stories in order to get more web-time. And we should remember that we were NOT alone! Just two days before writing this article about Paganism, the same Damian Thompson of the Daily Telegraph released another article, this time studying the trend of the name ‘Mohammed’ in Muslim families and expressing quite clearly his ‘views’ towards Muslims; although perhaps in a slightly more ‘shadowy’ nature than he had expressed his dislike towards Paganism. Sadly, these journalists are rarely interested in truth or education, it seems. But their articles did get me thinking about the media and our relationship with it – and particularly, our increasing presence in the public eye.

The sheer volume of retaliations against these bigoted articles on the newspaper forums alone has made it clear that Pagans do want their beliefs to be recognised and understood. Many of us share a sheer frustration with the media’s attitude to our beliefs, an uneducated attitude which is echoed by a large percentage of the general public. However, I am also aware that not all pagans want our faith to be recognised at an official, national status – and perhaps for good reason. Many of us would prefer that the religion remained at a more personal and unofficiated level; there is a fear that our religion would be institutionalized, and power taken away from our community.

But that being said, I think it would be safe to assume that all followers of paganism would prefer things to be at a stage where Paganism is at least be respected – and not openly ridiculed. The recognition of Paganism (and other associated practices) within the Police and the Armed Forces is testament to our faith becoming more accepted – and in my opinion, our inclusion in respected organizations such as these has been perhaps one of the most important steps made so far in the effort to integrate Paganism into modern society. Similarly, many of us celebrated Druidry’s elevation to charity status – but if we truly want this recognition, we must accept that (like anything which comes into the public eye) we will have to be prepared for criticism. But there is a difference between criticism, and downright ridicule. Newspapers are quick to criticize all faiths – freedom of speech, which so many of us rely upon, allows this to be so. But many journalists are cautious that they don’t over-step the line; the outright ridicule, intimidation and blatant mocking of a religion as they have to ours would usually be seen as downright dangerous. Clearly, we are not significant enough or powerful enough to be treated so cautiously.

I would suggest that the best way to deal with such criticism is to face the reasons behind the ridicule head on. As modern Pagans, we seriously need to ask the question – what is it – really – that still sets us apart from other belief systems?

It’s definitely not the number of people practicing. PEBBLE, The Public Bodies Liaison Committee for British Paganism, present data from the 2001 census on their website which indicates that almost 55,000 people specified their religion as pagan or as a sub-pagan belief system (such as Heathen, Wiccan, Druidism etc) – and this doesn’t count people who were not old enough at the time to take the census, or those who decided not to declare their faith. According to PEBBLE, ‘combined, this made us the seventh largest faith in the UK’ – and, ‘if figures for British Pagans rose as much as those in Australia, we could be looking at 280,000 Pagans. In the 2001 census, there were 150,000 Buddhists, and just 270,000 Jews’. Perhaps, it is simply that the general public are not made aware of these figures!!

Nor can it be the credibility or reasoning behind our beliefs in comparison to others – for instance, how can the beliefs of Abrahamic faiths be any more ‘believable’ than the faith of Paganism? Well, they’re not – ultimately, both Paganism and Abrahamic faiths are based on a belief in something that cannot be proved – that’s what makes it ‘faith’. Yet in this age of science and reason, Abrahamic faith is somehow still seen as a perfectly ‘reasonable’ part of life and politics – which according to Melanie Phillips, brought us ‘reason, and the bedrock values behind Western progress’.

So if other faiths such as Christianity are really no different to Paganism in terms of credibility, or (potential) numbers, or even sound judgment – what still sets us apart? Why are so many religions considered acceptable in business and politics (and even our children’s education!!) whilst the beliefs of Paganism are mocked and downright ridiculed? How can this be, when the origins of our beliefs have been recorded by academics for thousands of years, and continue to be written about as historical fact? When evidence of practices similar to our own is found in archaeology? When many of the theories behind Pagan esoteric/occult practices are even supported by modern scientific research, cosmology and hypotheses?

My initial feeling is the lack of academic and reliable information made available to the general public during the rise of interest in Paganism, in particular BTW (British Traditional Wicca) between the 40’s – 70’s. In my opinion, the act of bringing BTW out into the open (and into the eye of the media) was also a catalyst to bring many other forms of Paganism out of the woodwork. Whilst still hotly debated, it is generally believed that several other types of Paganism were being practiced in this country during, and before, the 1940’s (such as Druidry and Old Craft) but these probably only started surfacing and receiving new interest after the initial coverage and growing popularity of BTW.

Whilst their intention was no doubt good, and led to the boom in popularity of Paganism, much of the initial promotion of Wicca by some of its earliest practitioners was taken out of context by the newspapers in examples of sensationalist journalism. ‘The Manchester Evening News’ headlined ‘Amazing Black Magic Rites’, as they investigated rumours of black masses and witchcraft rituals on the Cheshire hillsides, which were being run by Alex Sanders. To a BTW initiate, the reality of what this ritual really means is quite clear – to the outsider, it sends a very different message. In another article, Gerald Gardner attempted to portray Wicca in a more positive light when he was interviewed by ‘Weekend’. Yet the photograph shows Gerald sitting within a magic circle and pointing a sword at a gargoyle (which the caption describes as a ‘weird image’) and Gerald is quoted saying, “a spell was cast – and the house was mine!” The article is entitled ‘I am a Witch’. Even the most hardened defender of Wicca cannot deny that the word ‘witch’, cannot have helped the initial reaction of this faith by the general public. A great shame – because otherwise, this misunderstood (and deeply profound) mysticism might have been taken a little bit more seriously.

We also have to consider that a great deal of research has been undertaken since the revival of Paganism and associated belief systems, since the days of Gardner and Sanders. We know a lot more about the origins of our practices than our forefathers/mothers who wrote about the Craft, and with very little study we can quickly sort the wheat from the chaff in terms of pseudo-historical here-say from those who followed on from them. But how much old and outdated information is still circulating within the Pagan community? We know more now about the true reality of our history than ever before – and for those that seek it, there is a considerable amount of material which both compliments and supports our beliefs and practices. In my opinion, one of THE most important books in the attempt to overcome these issues is David Rankine and Sorita D’Este’s Wicca: Magickal Beginnings, a study of the possible origins of this tradition of pagan witchcraft and magick. This book aims to dispel pseudo-historical claims and discover the true meanings and origins of practices, which have been reinvented or debased due to misinformation. It really is a must read for the beginner and the experienced practitioner alike.

As the author of a book which is specifically designed to teach the practices of paganism and witchcraft, I find myself resigning to say that in truth, the best books for us to learn about the origins of our beliefs and practices are in fact historical academic books, written with no biased interest towards the positive promotion of Paganism! Because we don’t actually need to engineer any practices or create a pseudo-history – it’s there, in black and white. Some of it might not be exactly what we want to hear – but its historical fact, all the same. And suddenly, the study of Paganism becomes respectable, and the reality of our practices much more reasonable.

But this aside, many books (and later on, websites) specifically about the practices of Paganism and Wicca started to be published. Several excellent and historically accurate books were written in the early 1980’s – such as material by the Janet and Stewart Farrar – but other than these writers (and a few memorable others) it seems there was a huge amount of recycled misinformation and here-say being published (particularly via the internet). One such inherent vice within wicca and paganism is the tendency to lean towards the victim mentality; the 9 million women tortured and burnt to death on the charge of witchcraft; the persecution of pagans by the church; our holidays being misunderstood, etc. But there were no 9 million women (it was more like 40,000 throughout the whole of Europe, although that’s no small number). And yes, Pagans have been persecuted by the church; but it would be fair to say that it’s been on about the same level, if not less, than Pagans persecuted early Christians. And yes, our holidays are most likely misunderstood – but that is probably because there is very little real, historical information being circulated about them. Let’s start educating, but lets get some well research facts behind us first.

The Daily Telegraph article was clearly bigoted and uneducated, however it did get me thinking about pseudo-historical claims, and as a pagan/occult writer and researcher I am happy to be the first to admit that I have probably rewoven some of these claims in my time !!! There is a wealth of interesting historical material out there to draw from, but so much of the information that has been reproduced in books and the training material of group leaders has been ‘recycled here-say’, with little or no basis in historical truth. In other cases, meanings and origins of practices or beliefs have been reinvented. Unlike most religions, we don’t have a specific sacred book that we all follow, and perhaps in some ways, this is part of the problem; the structure of the Abrahamic faiths and the rigidity of their very specific practices and beliefs seem to create a package of consistency that modern Paganism just doesn’t have yet. Whilst having some commonality, we Pagans are all pulling in different directions trying to achieve different things. We are in danger of teaching our beliefs, history and practice like Chinese Whispers, appearing incoherent and inconsistent.

However the fact that we don’t have a single, guiding holy book or a specific hierarchal structure is also exactly what gives us the flexibility to change and transform – so lets use that freedom to keep studying the exact reasoning behind practices and the historical basis for our beliefs, rather than restricting them to outdated pseudo-history. And as for the practices – how much further would have Wicca developed if Gardner or Sanders had lived another 20 years?

So perhaps the first step to getting Wicca and all Pagan faiths respected by the public, media and authorities is a re-education from within – our own communities. A questioning of the pseudo-history, and a study of the very real, very interesting origins of our practices and beliefs. An exact study of everything we say and do – because there is something very real out there to historically support almost every pagan word and gesture, if we just search a little bit deeper. And this has to start with each and every individual. This process of ‘re-programming’ needs to be embraced by every student or follower of Paganism, in heart and mind. This doesn’t mean losing the spiritual and mystical aspect of our faith; quite the opposite. And when confronted with bigoted and uneducated criticism and ridicule, each and every one of us are in a position where we ourselves can react with an educated and historically accurate response.

A comment was made in another recent Daily Mail article, ‘Pagans on the march: Harmless Eccentrics or a Dangerous Cult?’ in which The Daily Mail was told by one ‘witch’ that ‘we sometimes use the cauldron to mix spells’ and that ‘we hold moots in graveyards’. Are these the people we are leaving to promote our faith?  How can we encourage the general pubic to accept us as anything but uneducated and fantastical?

I don’t believe that people should have to change their practices or culture in order to be more accepted into society. I’m no conservative – my youth was spent rebelling against the system !! But I do believe in progression. If we wish to be respected (which many of us clearly do) then we have to respond in a positive and progressive manner. Perhaps this very criticism is giving us food for thought on our philosophies and the way that we present ourselves to the general public? We need to stop allowing television stations to film our rituals, no matter how much we think it might portray us in a positive light – they wont. These are our private ceremonies – they are not for show. We need to stop giving newspapers and the general public blatant excuses to sensationalize. We need to look at what this practice truly brings to our lives. We need to get shot of the eccentric image. Perhaps its time to cast off the remaining velvet cloaks (which, lets face it, are hardly practical – and do absolutely nothing for the anti-potter campaign!!) and start picking up some history books. Let’s start researching the very true and utterly fascinating origins of our practices. Lets write some educational and historically accurate articles. Let’s sharpen up our game.


The Sassy Sorceress: Interview with Vikki Bramshaw

Are you looking for more information about the craft? Want to know more about witchy goodness but you don’t know who to ask?

Meet Vikki Bramshaw. She’s a lady of many, many witch-like talents. She’s a priestess who having trained for 10 years under respected elders, now runs her own working group near the New Forest in Hampshire, she’s author of Craft of the Wise: A Practical Guide and she’s passionate about theurgy, initiatory rites and Hellenic and Sumerian mythology.

Vikki is now my official go-to girl for everything remotely witch-y, I bought her book Craft of the Wise a month ago on the recommendation of Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone, and if you don’t already own it, then you absolutely should, as it contains everything someone new to the Craft could EVER need to start them on their path.

Vikki’s here to tell us all about her book – which is a total must-have for any witch, shares her passion for busting myths about wicca and gives advice to newbie witch-girls…

Vikki, when did you discover your interest in Wicca and the craft?
My family were organic smallholders, and so from a very young age I came to appreciate the cycles of the earth and the movements of the heavens. I learned a respect for the planet and those lifeforms upon it, whilst also recognising the importance of death in the process of rebirth. These are just some of the elements which make up the philosophy behind Paganism: a belief system which (the majority of) witches follow today. Whilst the Craft is wholly conducive with Paganism, it is a separate entity; it was not until my late teens that I discovered the practical system of wicca.  I was browsing through the spirituality shelves at a local bookshop when ‘Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner’ by Scott Cunningham quite literally jumped off the shelf at me. I considered this as somewhat of a good omen and took the book home, and I soon realised that the path supported almost all of my personal beliefs whilst also providing an empowering and proactive attitude to life in general. I practiced on my own from books for about one year, before finding a couple who ran a coven in the New Forest and offered initiatory training. Some people believe that they were born to be Priests and Priestesses of the Craft; I think that this could be said of anyone who nurtures their intuitive abilities, which I believe all of us are born with.

Witches have got a bad name in the past, what are today’s witches like?

Putting all modern usage aside for a moment, it should be pointed out that experts in the field have shown that historically the word ‘witch’ is an entirely inappropriate choice for the practice with which it is associated today. In fact, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the word ‘witch’ was historically a term used to describe a fictitious practitioner of evil magic only (being blamed for failed crops/sour milk/unexplained illnesses and such!). The Cunning folk, or Wise folk, of England, Wales and Sweden were closer to the practitioners who we describe as witches today – real people, whose job was healing, fertility rites and divination. Their job was also to counteract the evil doings of the so-called ‘witches’ with their own form of magic – evidence for this can be seen in archaeological items such as rowan berry charms and witches bottles.

Of course it’s all semantics, and this doesn’t take away from our modern use of the word today. The term Wica or Wicca was adopted by one of modern witchcraft’s founders/revivalists Gerald Gardner, who discovered the word in various texts on witchcraft (including the works of anthropologist Margaret Murrary and folklorist Charles Leland) which were written in a time when there was a revival of ‘romantic elements’ of european history.

What are today’s witches like? Well, there are witches in business suits running successful companies, witches working behind the counter in the post office, and witches protecting our streets in the police force and army. There really is no one stereotype which can describe witches or pagans as a whole (and, like any group of people, there are good eggs and bad eggs!) There certainly are misconceptions which still surround practitioners of the craft, but in most cases these stereotypes are simply not true.

Craft of the Wise – what’s it about and what made you want to write it?
Craft of the Wise is a combination of ten years of my own practical notes, rituals and research, combined with the first years’ training programme which I set for my own students. Initially, I didn’t intend the text to become a published book – it simply acted as a manual for my own teaching needs. But several of my students started commenting on the fact that they believed the material should be more accessible to all. I must agree that I was also somewhat frustrated with the quality of many of the books which were available on wicca at the time. With some notable exceptions, many of the books made wicca out to be a rather shallow affair whilst also regurgitating many of the misconceptions and untruths which have been encircling the wiccan scene since day one. I agreed that perhaps this work would go some way to dispelling some of these misconceptions, and present wicca as what it really is: a serious initiatory mystery tradition.

The book has been described as a perfect primer for anyone taking their first step on the path, or even for an existing practitioner who would like to look at certain elements of wicca from a fresh angle. It offers a historical overview of the magic and ritual of pagan cultures in the ancient world and then explains the initial training practices of initiatory witchcraft and wicca, giving a step by step guide through the training which the reader would expect to be offered during a probationary period (before initiation) with a coven. It also guides the reader through the ethics of magic (slightly differently, and perhaps controversially) as well as working with energy, psychic self defence, and wortcunning (that is, herbs in magic and healing). It also explains the Wheel of the Year as we understand it today, and gives practical tasks in which the reader can celebrate the seasons whilst encouraging personal empowerment.

What kind of research did you have to do to write the book?

It’s often said that the best way to learn is through experience and mistakes – and I have ten years of those! Following my initiation into a group in Fareham, I found myself being required to run small working groups alongside my existing studies. I also started travelling from my home in Hampshire to work with a Priestess in the west country, where I trained in the Greek and Egyptian mysteries: reconstructions of ancient Pagan religious rites. I met a lot of people … I went to a lot of rituals … I did a lot of studying … but more than anything, I did a lot of observing. Everything I have written about within the book I have firsthand experience of, and I have always said that you can tell the experience of the witch by how dirty her cauldron is…! Besides the practical experience and my wiccan training to obtain the three Degrees, there was also a certain element of academic research I had to do for the book. I didn’t want this book to be too academic, else I felt it might lose its spirit – but I did attend several courses on the origins of human behaviour and ancient religions in order to speak from an acceptably accurate historical viewpoint.

I’m still something of a newbie to the craft, is this book for the initiated or will a beginner be able to use it too?

I wrote the book with newcomers in mind; after all, it is based upon the one year training programme which I designed for my probationers before their initiation, so it is ideal for the beginner. However existing practitioners might also find that the book offers some new insight into what they are already practising, particularly if they are a solitary witch.

For someone new on the path what do you think is the most important thing they need to know about Wicca and the craft?
One of the first pieces of advice that I would give is that wicca, when studied fully, is not an easy ride! Nor is it an escapism from the ‘real world’. The Craft should compliment your everyday life, and as a practitioner of the Craft one should keep both feet firmly on the ground! That being said, the Craft is not a hobby, or something to take lightly. As both a practice and a philosophy, the Craft should become interwoven with your everyday life. This is the only way that magic can truly work.

What are some of the myths about Wicca that needed dispelling?
The misconceptions surrounding wicca are actually quite varied and extensive when you look at them. It is generally accepted that there are a number of misconceptions held by those not involved in the Craft, although some of the most dangerous in terms of the survival of Wicca as a bonafide mystery tradition are those misconceptions held by people actually practising.

The first and most obvious misconception which has caused issues for Wicca in previous years is that wicca is some form of devil worship or black occultism; which of course it is not. There are a number of reasons for this particular misconception, including of course the (perhaps unfortunate) adoption of the word ‘witch’ a word which was historically associated with evil forces, rather than good. Many modern witches follow the religion of Paganism hand in hand with their craft, and this too has suffered an unfortunate reputation; many of the Gods of the ancient Pagan world were demonised during the conversion to Christianity. Wiccans tend to follow the horned God in particular (the horned God was a common pre-christian theme throughout the world, which symbolised fertility and prosperity) and of course he appears rather close to the christian devil at first glance! However it does seem to me that this misconception is quickly disappearing, and there really doesn’t seem to be many people who still hold this view.

On the other end of the scale however, there are some who believe that wicca is (or should be) an entirely benign tradition. But this is not what the Craft ever was, or ever should be! The Craft is about balance – like nature, both dark and light. It is the balance of things within nature that keeps the world turning.

There are a number of other misconceptions or untruths which have been repeated and regurgitated throughout the ‘teachings’ of wicca and paganism, though; such as the ‘9 million women’ who were burnt for witchcraft – this is a complete myth … as well as meanings behind certain rites – and their origins, too. I hope that my book will go some way to dispelling these myths – I would also recommend people reading Wicca: Magickal Beginnings:  A Study of the Possible Origins by Sorita d’Este, alongside my own book.

Vikki, you’re a high priestess, for the uninitiated, what does that actually mean and what does it involve?
At the very least, this title means that the person has completed the three Wiccan Degrees which entitle them to run their own training group (actually, the title can be taken by someone once they reach the Second Degree, although additional training would probably still be required in order to bring that person up to speed on running a group of their own). Each Degree takes (at least) a year to achieve, and within my own coven we insist that newcomers undertake an additional years’ study prior to their first initiation.  In general, the role of the High Priestess and Priest is to plan the rituals and training for the group, execute the ritual, and act as mentor and guide to those who are training in the Craft. Some people dislike the hierarchal feeling that the name ‘High’ Priest or Priestess gives, but the Craft has never been a democracy and hierarchy is one of the important elements to the deeper mysteries. The role of the High Priestess sounds all very glamorous, but in fact the title is NOT a status symbol – it represents the hard work that an individual has done in order to achieve a certain level of training, as well as acting as a rite of passage for that individual in their spiritual (and physical) journey. In practice, being a High Priestess means a lot more, too … including teacher, cook and taxi driver! And in truth, being a High Priestess (or High Priest) can sometimes be one of the muckiest and painful jobs around. But it can also be very rewarding!

Do you have your own coven or group? Can you tell us about it please?
My group is affiliated with the ‘mother coven’ in which I was originally trained, and  consists of both an outer and an inner circle. Newcomers are admitted to the outer circle for their probationary period (which lasts approximately a year, although sometimes more!) and if they make the mark then they are offered their First Degree and asked to join the inner circle. At the moment there are 6 of us all together in the inner circle, and we have worked closely for some years. We meet at our grove or at the covenstead on the Full Moons and the Sabbats, although we are in contact almost every week, and often meet with the mother coven to celebrate.

Our rites are often based upon certain themes, magic and mysteries found within ancient pagan mystery cults. These themes are normally received intuitively and then reconstructed with serious historical research into that particular mystery tradition or practice. Initiatory Witchcraft does often use elements of Traditional Wicca as a structure for its practice of the mysteries, although standard Traditional Wicca can sometimes differ slightly in that much of the material used is based upon the prior work of Gardner or Sanders, and usually stays within the parameters of the traditional book of shadows.

Is there a prescribed form to your rituals?

It really depends upon the occasion, and how much of the ritual has been planned intuitively. There certainly is a prescribed structure to the way that many Wiccan rituals are executed, and I would advise that these prescribed structures are adhered to especially by newcomers. I outline these rituals in the book, and explain the meanings behind the words and actions in detail. Many of the words and actions are there to protect yourself and others, so it is sensible to follow them as closely as you can. That being said, after you have been working with the Craft for some time, you may start to see ways that things can be changed to suit you without compromising safety or effectiveness. But it is best to try not to reinvent the wheel before you understand why it is round!

How does being a witch help you in your everyday life?

Does being a witch really ‘help us’ in our day to day lives? Well, I think for me it certainly did. It encouraged me to become a more confident and balanced person. It gave me a direction, a creative outlet, and a way to work with the land and understand the true faces of what we call the Gods. I am proud of what I have achieved both practically and academically, and I look forward to learning more. Many people find that they become more confident, happier, more successful. The Craft offers western society the one thing that we lack – the initiation. Whether this initiation be through a lineaged coven or a solitary personal dedication, it matters not … if the work has been put in, the initiation will happen. An initiation is both an ordeal rite and a rebirthing for the spirit, which allows the person to cause change in their own lives, themselves. And as we follow the wheel of the year, we realign our bodies to the cycles of the earth and the natural patterns of life, and we use the subtle energy to make magic. Being a witch can enhance our everyday life, so a point where the witch and the mundane person combine, and we become a truly complete person.

See? I told you she was amazing, didn’t I? She’s working on some new material for 2010, and some of her work is also being included in an anthology which is due to be published later this summer. Check out Vikki and her witch-y wicca goodness at: www.vikkibramshaw.co.uk and www.initiatorywitchcraft.co.uk

Thank you Lisa Clark from The Sassy Sorceress for this fab interview!

Another 5 Star Review from a UK reader

“Written from the perspective of a Priestess of the Craft of the Wise, which we sometimes call Wicca, this book by Vikki Bramshaw is a good one. There has been countless attempts at writing a new Witches Bible by authors who want to emulate the Farrar’s What Witches Do and Eight Sabbats for Witches, but they have all failed. Whilst this book does not pretend to be a replacement for that book, not at all, it does however for the first time in my opinion provide a text which can be read alongside it. In otherwords, I am suggesting that those individuals who are new to Wicca and wanhaw, craft of the wise, t to learn about it today, should consider reading The Witches Bible by the Farrars, but precede it by reading this book by Vikki. It will provide a better idea of how things have changed and evolved in the last few decades. And change they have! If my athame could talk! This is a solid book for someone interested in generic paganism too. The emphasis should be on INTRODUCTION and it is a good one. For those seeking their first read, this is a good one.”

See the review in context: http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R90Q42HSG8FWT/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

Winds of Change

Well, the dust has settled since the book launch of Craft of the Wise: A Practical Guide, which was a huge success thanks to Liz and Trevor of Witchcraft Ltd who allowed us to use one of their shops as the venue for the evening.

It was lovely to see so many friendly faces there, and it was a particular honour to have all three of my High Priestesses in the same room – Natalie, Maureen, and Morgaine. This was a rare occasion, which gave us a chance to recognise their own commitment to the practice, whilst also giving me the chance to thank them for what they took the time to teach me.

Janet and Gavin also made an appearance, by the medium of the World Wide Web. They had emailed a speech to my friend Maggi to read out on the night, which was a really lovely thought – and one which now has us referring to Gavin as ‘King of Witches’!!

Since the book has been released, I have been contacted by occult practitioners from all over the world – Greece, Australia, and America, to name just a few. This has been extremely insightful (and something which I hope will lead to some travel opportunities in the future!)

So what next? A few months ago, I said that I would wait at least a year before considering writing anything new. But it looks like the Gods have other ideas, as always … so I have begun writing again, this time focusing on a more specialised aspect of the Craft. I am being guided in a certain direction to cover what I consider as a very important, but often overlooked, element of modern (and ancient) practice. I will not be able to make the subject matter of the new book public yet, but I will as soon as I can.

So, being guided on a new path yet again! As with my writing, I usually find that it is near impossible to try and plan a ritual with a fine toothcomb – and we very rarely write a detailed script to follow. A list of ideas, and a suggested itinerary for the evening, perhaps – but intuition, creativity and fluidity seems to be what is most important to those Gods who are guiding my groups’ rituals at present.

They have started appearing to us in their fundamental, organic, primordial forms. They ask for words and actions which are spoken intuitively from the heart, from the depths of the soul – spoken with a passionate delivery which is – quite literally – fit for the Gods. We are all being pushed in the direction of more daily devotions, lustration, supplication, and meditation.

Of course, it won’t always be like this; the wind will change again, and we will be taken down another path, guided in another direction. The important part of course is to listen, to learn how to separate their messages from the white noise, and act on what the instinct of the moment demands.

Speech by Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone: Craft of the Wise

Speech by Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone: Read out by Maggi at the Book Launch, 21st Nov 09
Dear Vikki, and everyone gathered here. First of all, our apologies, we would have liked to have been here for Vikki’s first book launch.

All we’d like to say is that it is a wonderful book – one of the best Wiccan primers we have seen in a long time. Of course, we would have to say that, as Gavin is mentioned at the beginning of the book as the head of a line, and Janet and Stewart’s books are mentioned throughout!

It’s gone to Gavin’s head and he is now seriously considering whether he should get everyone together and get them to crown him ‘King of the Witches!’ (pause) Yes, thats a joke! But he is proud to tell people that Vikki is decended from that small coven in a terraced house in Portsmouth, where he and his ex-wife initiated Maureen many years ago.

Just to finish by saying we hope Vikki and everyone have a good night, and this is the first of many book launches for Vikki.

Blessed Be
Janet Farrar And Gavin Bone