April was chilly, but was dotted with lots of PCV goodness, especially catch-ups in cosy corners, and a beautiful Samhain rite.
PCV Public Samhain Ritual
On the 30th of April The PCV held our Samhain public ritual. It was held by Seline Ines (of Into Me I See) at her lovely home.
We started by walking up to the ritual space while singing Earth My Body. Once in the ritual space and in a circle the elements were welcomed, Hecate was called upon. We proceeded to do a visualisation of all our loved ones. From there we went to the ancestor tree while singing Bone by Bone. We then walked around the ancestor tree and tied our ribbons to the tree.
Once this was completed we stood in a circle around the tree as Seline tied a large black ribbon to the tree. We then charged a drink as a sacrament which was then poured into each person’s goblet and then drank of. After this we then headed down the path back to the house while singing The River is Flowing.
Once back at the house we shared a meal. A drum circle was set up and people started dancing. There were discussions among the group on various topics. People caught up with old friends new friends and memories made. We were taught about rue, a herb of cleansing that had been used to cleanse the ritual space.
It was a lovely night and I would love to thank Seline and all involved for participating in such a lovely and powerful event.
CBD Pagan Pub Moots
Safely nestled inside The Last Jar, protected from stormy Melbourne weather outside, the April CBD moot was a huge success with several new faces and many regulars in attendance.
A stimulating discussion was had about the nature of altars; what they are, what purpose they serve, where to place them and of course what people put on them. From rustic immovable stone plinths to piles of books, statues, and the benefits of electric candles, each an expression of self and personal flair. After the formal discussion was done, the moot enjoyed a relaxed conversational setting which lasted well into the evening while still maintaining paganism as the primary focus. A phenomenal time was had by all, sharing perspectives on each’s respective craft, and enjoying wonderful company.
Monthly Hills Coffee Meetups
I keep forgetting to take photos of the Hillsmeets. I have the very best of intentions, knowing that I have to report back to the PCV blog with (hopefully) a jolly photo of everyone looking jolly, but what actually happens is that honestly we’re all having too much fun and by the time someone says “Oh, did you need to take a photo for the blog because you got a bit sweary about forgetting to take one last month?” the cafe staff are politely throwing us out because we’re the last people in the venue and they’ve been vacuuming around us while we continue to talk a mile a minute, and the photo would look a bit sad. So I do my now-a-monthly-tradition swear, and make someone promise to remind me to take a photo for the blog *next* month, and no-one does, because we’re all talking too much.
So you don’t get a photo, but it’s a really good thing because it means that the Hillsmeets are a ridiculous amount of fun. This month we talked about our journeys; where we started, where we’re going, how our practices have changed, and continue to evolve. There’s something really special about sitting around a table with a bunch of people who Get It, and understand how these journeys can evolve; who listen and share their own experiences. It feels like home, and it’s lovely. It’s even better with cake, but I don’t have to tell you that, reader.
The Hillsmeets have got so popular and we’re all rather fond of them and so it looks as though we’ll be branching out with the odd weekday dinner, which will be advertised in the usual places. Because a month really is too long between catch-ups sometimes, and a couple of the regulars can’t make the usual weekend ones any more, and honestly, why not. So stay tuned for updates, and if you haven’t come along to one of the Hills gatherings yet, come along! They really are that much fun.
Central Victorian Pagans and Heathens in the Cafe
We relocated the Central Vic Meet to Ballarat this month, to coincide with our committee meeting (minutes will be available soon). This meet was well attended, and we enjoyed a delicious Irish lunch while we talked over, under, in and out of all things Pagan.
Our next meet is in July, with the final in November. During these meets we’ll be deciding on meeting dates for next year, as well as whether we keep them quarterly or move to monthly or bi-monthly. If you’d like to have a say, or even if you are a Pagan sort from central Victoria who enjoys a coffee and a chat, come down and say hi!
This recount by Bret Fishley was originally published in our old newsletter, The Spokes of the Wheel, Volume 1 issue 2, Beltane 2014.
Charged with Witchcraft… I look back on that time and it seems like a life-time ago. The names have been altered but otherwise it is a true story…
How do I describe Fitzroy Crossing back in 1990? It was a frontier town then and still is I guess in many respects. The Fitzroy River, amazing tropical thunderstorms, the heat, up to 50 degrees sometimes, the crows and brown shouldered kites, willy-willy’s, dust and more heat…
The main thing you would have noticed is that there were more black faces than white ones in town that I loved. There is a good reason for this. Back in 1969 when slavery was abolished this was the place where people drifted to when the Bunuba, Guniandi, Mangala and Walmajarri-Wankatjunka people were told to leave the surrounding pastoral stations.
I was living in an old native welfare house/shed/shelter built in the early 70s to accommodate the Walmajarri-Wankatjunka people at Mindi Rardi reserve when this story I am about to tell unfolded. It was just me and a few old people at that stage.
I was not your average work gear or neatly casually dressed whitefella. I was getting around in a sarong with my bronze pentagram with a snake wound around it, a t-shirt, my didge and my dingo. It was a quest for spiritual connection with the land that had brought me to Fitzroy Crossing. A desire to learn about Aboriginal law and culture that earned me something of a reputation in town as a devil worshipper among the local fundamentalist Christians from the Assembly of God and the other denominations.
It all began when I went down to Broome for a few weeks and arrived back to discover that someone had taken over the shed I was living in, so I stayed with a school-teacher friend in a government employees’ house for a little while. Whilst he was away the Christian Fundamentalist house-mate, Vik, asked me about some seeds that my friend had germinated in the kitchen. She was somewhat perturbed to my response that they looked like marijuana seedlings and threatened to call the police if I did not remove them. I said I had no right to get rid of them, that she should talk to Pete and find out what they were first.
I woke up next morning to the police banging on the door saying they had a report that there were drugs in the house. I thought it prudent to take the initiative to get rid of the seedlings just in case, whilst the police were searching the lounge. That afternoon I decided, what was in retrospect, a rather provocative course of action, that being to set up a small alter in the kitchen with candles, some Aboriginal healing liquid from tree bark, some dead grass woven into a pentagram and Vik’s bible.
When Vik got home she denied calling the police. I knew she would. We entered the kitchen and I said “well if you did not do it then swear on your bible and I will believe you”. She glared at me and said “I told you I would ring them” and she snatched her bible off the table and marched off to her room in a furious rage slamming her bedroom door.
I went off to visit friends, waving to a bunch of coppers on the way, who were all half-pissed having a BBQ at the neighbours’ house. Several of them acknowledged my wave as I passed.
I returned home later that night and heard several cars pull into the front yard. The school head master and several half pissed police swarmed into the house and told me to pack my things… I was being evicted! Ha! Eventually I got all of my stuff in the police ute and they took me to the police station.
What followed was a comical but intimidating interrogation about my links to people like Tim Ryan, that they interchangeably described as Witches and Satanists. It turned out that Gorje, one of the police who I came to know quite well later, had spent the day researching links between cults and criminality. I do not think I won many friends when I rebutted their accusations of my being a satanist by pointing out the pentagram I wore had the pentagram up the right way. Whereas their Police insignia incorporated an upside down pentagram. The symbol of the devil… And they were accusing me of being a devil worshipper? I did not even believe in the devil.
They then set to work trying to intimidate me into leaving town, suggesting the midnight bus would be the best option, insistently suggesting it might not be safe to stay. I said no and that they should drop me on the bank of the Fitzroy River where I would camp. Thankfully I had the good sense to hide because I awoke in my swag later that night to the sound of approaching vehicles. It was the Police, and from the sound of their voices they were angry. Thankfully they did not find me. I still remember my heart thumping in my chest as I watched them searching with their torches from about 200 metres away. Frightening.
What followed was a six-month campaign mainly run by Gorje, to try and charge me with something, and well, just generally make my life uncomfortable. This included him finding me on subsequent full moons with a search warrant signed by a local red neck court official. On a couple of other occasions he arrested some Aboriginal guys I was socialising with, on the rare occasions I went down to the Crossing Inn. Just because they were with me. The police even tried to apply pressure on the local Dept of agriculture guy to shoot my dingo, Erintja.
The last straw was one day when I was abseiling off a bridge with a friend and Gorje leant over the railing telling us we were in trouble and that we should report to the police station. I rang the Ombudsman’s office and explained the situation and he said they could not do anything unless they had a charge. So I showed up to the Police Station with my friend and asked what the charge was. I waited, tapping my foot and feeling somewhat annoyed. After a few minutes I said, “Well, what is the charge, officer? Can’t think of a charge, eh? Well, come and find me if you can find one.” I then motioned to my friend to lead the way out the door and we left.
I made a complaint of Police harassment and some Special Investigations Police from Broome were sent up to investigate. But they completely exonerated the police involved in the harassment. I was thus able to take the next step and go back to the Ombudsman who agreed to look into the issue. The police were out–raged and were hell bent on finding something to charge me with. This was when they decided to charge me with witchcraft under the Public Nuisance Act. I was served with a court summons by Gorje.
Meanwhile there was a lot of communication with the Ombudsman, who also enjoyed chatting with the old Aboriginal people that I lived at Mindi Rardi with, if they happened to answer the public phone when he rang. Apparently Gorje ultimately shot himself in the foot getting stuck into the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman made the next move and Gorje disappeared from the local police station and another officer was also disciplined.
This all happened concurrently with the court case. Vik, who had been sacked from her teaching job for spreading rumours to the kids about her housemate being a homosexual, was the star witness for the prosecution. I represented myself. The Police Prosecutors went in pretty hard, but I just answered all the questions honestly and openly. The Judge reserved his decision until his next visit.
His judgement was scathing, labelling it a witch-hunt and absurd. He described the Police utilisation of resources, to bring this matter to trial, as a gross misuse of public funds.
A win for witches everywhere.
It’s all quite surreal looking back on it… Who would have imagined something like this might have happened in modern times, in the Australian outback, in a place like Fitzroy Crossing?
– Bret Fishley
The cooler nights and rainy days of April have left us lots of time to get our teeth into some books. Welcome to the April edition of Committee Reads.
Esoteric Philosophy of Love and Marriage by Dion Fortune
One of my favourite bits of Terry Pratchett’s near-infinite wisdom is his lovely summing up of the differences between wizards’ and witches’ magic. Pratchett genders it, not entirely without good reason (and in keeping with the laws of the Discworld), and it goes thus:
“It’s the wrong kind of magic for women, is wizard magic, it’s all books and stars and jommetry. She’d never grasp it. Whoever heard of a female wizard?… “Witches is a different thing altogether… It’s magic out of the ground, not the sky, and men never could get the hang of it.”
As we all know, here on the round world, sans turtles, gender is less proscribed in terms of practice, but I’ve never been able to shake the beautiful grain of truth in Pratchett’s summation of the differences between what is essentially “witchcraft” ™, and what is essentially Ceremonial Magick. Nobody lynch me; pith is pith, and I’m not trying to pith anyone off here.
Getting to the point, though, reading this constantly reminded me of that Pratchett quote. That is because the book reads like this:
“The esotericist does not use the term ‘sex’ as we do; he speaks of ‘life-force’, which he conceives to be an energy of an electrohydraulic type, a radiating and magnetising vibratory activity, similar to electricity, to which it is very closely related, yet capable of compression and of exercising pressure after the type of water-power.”
Now, I like reading technical manuals. In my last job I used to have to read a lot of them, many of them from the 19thC. I also like reading old books, and the comparative formality and verbosity of older prose is a thing of pleasure to me. And I like reading alchemical and Hermetic texts. You’d think that finding one book that was the stylistic lovechild of all three of these things would thrill me beyond measure, but in actuality it was, to be honest, about as enjoyable as combining sauerkraut and maple syrup (both of which I love, but ew). I feel guilty and slightly ashamed describing the work of the great Dion Fortune in such a way, so go ahead and call me a philistine and I’ll wear that – but honestly, it was an awful lot like what I’d imagine reading “Kent’s Mechanical Engineers’ Handbook” would be like, if Kenneth Salisbury just happened to be tackling the Great Work and the Alchemical Wedding. I’m tempted to deposit this on the shelf next to the two volumes of Kent’s, and at some point attempt to make a diesel-powered version of the Seven Planes of Manifestation of the monad, and see if it makes a decent engine for a Spitfire.
This book was written in 1924, so I was fully prepared for the attitudes towards gender being a product of their time, and utterances such as “One of the principal causes of trouble in unmated women is the stagnation and staleness of their unused life-forces…” came as no huge surprise, but it still jars to read of abortion as “murder”, and that same-sex sexual stimulation leads to “mental breakdown”, and that the practitioner will “give himself over unreservedly to evil”. At least Fortune and I can agree that “contraceptives are better than nervous disease”. Because, well, they are.
I’ve read reasonably widely on gender, sexuality, and the occult, and I can honestly say that so far, while I have no issue with the basic philosophical crux of this book, it’s not saying anything particularly groundbreaking in the greater narrative of Western Mystery Tradition, and the engineering-manual prose and outdated social notions made it so far the least enjoyable book on the subject that I have read. All in all I prefer poetry and metaphor to jommetry. Sorry, Dion.
Spirits of the Sacred Grove by Emma Restall Orr
Part autobiography, part community snapshot and part whimsy, this book gives the reader a look into the author’s world at each of the High Days.
Orr’s writing is intelligent and descriptive, and her portayals of the seasons in England and Wales make me want to pack a suitcase and visit the UK tomorrow. I also drew some easy parallels between the highs and lows of her local Pagan community and some of the things we experience here in Australia.
That said, I did find some parts a little jarring. Discussions of spirit and ancestor guides did at times feel more like someone discussing imaginary friends, and this distracted me from the narrative.
I still really enjoyed Spirits of the Sacred Grove, and would recommend it to anybody interested in Druidry or Paganism and how it fits into this modern world. Ideally, I would recommend it to those who have been around for a while and are able to take it with something of a grain of salt.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
This month I’m doing another re-read, of a series close to my heart.
This the third book in the series follows the adventures of Harry, Ron and Hermoine as they face their third year at the magical school of Hogwarts in the wilderness of Scotland.
The story continues to capture the imagination and put readers into another world filled with wonder.
Prisoner of Azkaban is the last of the shorter books in the series as JK began to write longer and longer books after this which ties in well with the transition from childhood to adolescence that begins in this book.
I cannot recommend the series enough, probably out of a sense of nostalgia, they are a thoroughly enjoyable read nonetheless.
This lovely piece by Viv was originally published in our old newsletter, Spokes of the Wheel (Mabon 2015 – volume 2 issue 3). Feature photo by Mark Hayes.
The sunlight is golden treacle
I can see it just over the rooftops
And I wait here in the cold, with my blankets
Woolly jumpers and artificial sweeteners
As morning plods on
As the sun rises
And by 10:30 it has hit our yard
And the oak trees sing
The air warms, and everything breathes again
Remembers that summer isn’t that long gone
As winter draws nearer, the days will be filled
With a thousand tiny deaths,
One hundred compromises.
But right now the autumn sun is dappled on my skin
There are still tomatoes on the vine
Occult Church of the Covenant Noetica
Hawthorn bushes are fit to bursting at this time of year! Dean found this cracking Haw Jelly recipe here.
You will need:
- Hawthorn berries (haws)*
- Juice of one lemon
- Remove all stalks and leaves. If you roll a handful (stalks and all) between your hands, the haws should come away easily.
- Wash and drain haws. Place in a large saucepan with enough water to cover.
- Bring to the boil and simmer for one hour, mashing every twenty minutes or so with a potato masher.
- Strain the mixture through some muslin overnight. Do not squeeze the bag, just let it drain naturally.
- In the morning, for every 700ml of liquid you have, measure out 500g sugar.
- Stir the sugar and the juice of one lemon into the mixture. Bring to the boil.
- Rapid boil for 10 minutes until the jelly has reached its setting point.
- Skim foam off the top of the mixture, and pour into warm, sterilised jars.
*700 grams of haws = 1 jar of Haw Jelly
Agenda: PCV Committee Meeting in Ballarat, 8/4/17
- Pagan Pride Day
- Spiral Dance
- Community Safety Month
- WWC Cards
- Redbubble Account
- Morris Report
- Yule Dinner
- The PCV at Mount Franklin
- Social Media
- Any Other Business
By Josie, Sarah, Dorian and Ryan
We said at the beginning of the year that this March would be Mad March, and we weren’t wrong: Community Safety Month, Pagan Pride Day, the Spiral Dance Concert, Guest Speakers and more on top of our usual meetups made for a very busy month with the very best company.
Community Safety Month
March has become Community Safety Month for the PCV. Creating and maintaining safe and inclusive spaces to gather and worship was the key topic of all our meetups in March, and some excellent and insightful conversations sprang from this. The product of these conversations was our newly-formed Values, which have been added to our Mission Statement page after being collated by our most eloquent committee member, Sarah:
The PCV holds regular gatherings by area all over the state. These meets, moots, and gatherings are hosted by various members of the PCV but all are united in upholding the following standards:
- We acknowledge and pay our respects to the traditional caretakers of the land we meet on. The gatherings we enjoy so much are held on land they lived on for thousands of years before white settlement. We pay our respects to their elders – past, present and emerging – and acknowledge the important role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to play within the community.
- We stand with the LGBTQI+ community; PCV meets are queer and trans-friendly spaces. We are intersectional, inclusive, and we will use whichever pronouns you prefer. Our community is diverse, supportive, and nurturing, and we love it that way.
- We welcome people of all paths and levels of experience, people of all genders and sexualities, of all races, skin colours, cultural identities, and of all abilities.
- Accessibility information will be provided for all venues. If you have any questions about venue accessibility or will need assistance, please contact the meet host. *PCV meets do not tolerate sexual, racial, religious, cultural, abled, or gendered discrimination, bigotry, harassment, bullying, or non-consensual sexual behaviour. We reserve the right to ask attendees to leave if they do not behave in a manner conducive to the wellbeing of the group or in contravention of any of the above standards.
- We are committed to creating safe, welcoming spaces where pagans of all paths can meet and enjoy their community. If you have an issue at the meets, our hosts will listen to you and take your feedback seriously.
Other happenings during Community Safety Month include more undersigned joining our Statement to the Public about notorious paedophile Robin Fletcher (which as of April 2017 has more than eighty undersigned Pagan groups and individuals), and the snap community information meeting we held when he was released.
Pagan Pride Day
On Saturday, the 18th of March the Victorian Pagan community came together to celebrate our first annual Pagan Pride Day and Equinox ritual. The day was a huge success, with Pagans of all walks of life attending, and most of the state’s active traditions represented.
You can read more about Pagan Pride Day in Alex’s article.
Spiral Dance and KC Guy Concert
On the night of Pagan Pride Day, we were treated to an amazing, uplifting and highly danceable concert by Spiral Dance and KC Guy. This was a perfect way to round off an excellent day of Pagan goodness, and really brought everyone together.
More details and photos in Josie’s article.
The Frankston/Cranbourne pagan meet convened at Groove Train once more, enjoying the gorgeous Autumn sun out on the promenade.
Looking forward to the next meet at the end of May.
Monthly Hills Coffee Meets
The Hills Meets continue apace. March saw me finally make good on a threat I’ve been holding over everyone’s heads for a few months now: Sparkles, the Disco Owl. A few people have mentioned, over the last couple of years, that our little mascot is subtle and hard to spot across a crowded room. Sparkles is neither of those things. Sparkles is nearly a foot high and covered liberally in white glitter, which he sheds over everything he touches, and came from a local $2 shop, and I’ve been promising to humiliate all of us by bringing him along to a meet for ages now. Sparkles is the Maxwell Demon of the owl world.
You can read more about the Hills Meets in this month’s feature article. For upcoming event details, see the Monthly Hills Pagan Coffee Meets Facebook page.
CBD Pagan Pub Moots
The March CBD Pagan Pub moot was joined by a special guest, Dr David Waldron, who was kind enough to be our first guest speaker. Dr Waldron captivated the room with his fascinating talk on Witches’ marks, concealed objects and magical folk practices in colonial Australia.
Dr David Waldron is a lecturer in History and Anthropology at Federation University Australia based in CRCAH (Collaborative Research Centre in Australian History) with a research focus on folklore and community identity. He is the author of “Sign of the Witch: Modernity and the Pagan Revival” (Carolina Academic Press 2008), “Shock! The Black Dog of Bungay – a Case Study in Local Folklore” (Hidden Press 2010) and “Snarls from the Tea-Tree: Victoria’s Big Cat Folklore” (Australian Scholarly Publishing 2013) and editor/contributor of “Goldfields and the Gothic: a Hidden Heritage and Folklore” (Australian Scholarly Publishing 2016).
Oak, Smash and Thorn Pagan Morris
Our little Morris side keeps chugging along, even with one less dancer due to Alex’s knee injury. Get well soon, Alex! This month we were treated to a Morris workshop with our friends Adrienne and Paul, of Spiral Dance and Hot for Joe Border Morris fame. This cracker of a workshop and Paul and Adrienne’s invaluable advice helped us polish our very first dance and get that little bit closer to being able to perform!
If this wasn’t memorable enough, the Edinburgh Gardens were the site of the Australian Naked Bike Ride that day, with around four hundred naked cyclists crashing our rehearsal. Our interstate guests took it all in their stride and promised they’d be back soon.
A million thankyous, beers and sweaty Morris hugs to Adrienne and Paul. 🙂
PCV Diary Dates:
- Saturday, 8th April: PCV Committee Meeting (Ballarat)
- Saturday, 8th April: Central Victorian Pagans and Heathens in the Cafe (Ballarat)
- Sunday, 9th April: CBD Pagan Pub Moot (Melbourne)
- Sunday, 30th April: PCV Public Samhain Ritual (location TBC)
By Sarah and Alex
The Hills Meets continue apace. March saw me finally make good on a threat I’ve been holding over everyone’s heads for a few months now: Sparkles, the Disco Owl.
A few people have mentioned, over the last couple of years, that our little mascot is subtle and hard to spot across a crowded room. Sparkles is neither of those things. Sparkles is nearly a foot high and covered liberally in white glitter, which he sheds over everything he touches, and came from a local $2 shop, and I’ve been promising to humiliate all of us by bringing him along to a meet for ages now. Sparkles is the Maxwell Demon of the owl world.
March was Sparkles’ Big Day Out; I mean, sure, we looked like a table full of loons congregating around an altar of Mystical Nature-Kitsch, but no-one had difficulty locating our table, and everyone took a little bit of Sparkles home with them, because glitter is a gift that keeps on giving whether people want it to or not.
This is Sparkles, posing with our regular, barely-discernible mascot, and our patron saint, Caffeine. I’ll now hand over the reins to one of our more recent regulars, who has definitely become part of the family, and who kindly agreed to talk about his experience of the Hills Meets (thanks for making us sound good, Alex; the cheque’s in the mail).
The Hills Meets – A Newbie’s Tale
I have been attending the Monthly Hills Pagan Coffee Meets now for about eight months. They are a lovely event, and I have felt like I belong at the event since I first attended. It has been lovely to see the different types of people who come along, with a large amount becoming regulars and others just popping in every now and then to say hi and catch-up.
One of the many aspects that I love about the meet is that conversation flows freely and touches on many subjects, from Paganism to gardening to tarot reading to just general life. It’s always great to hear what people have to say, as everyone has something new and interesting happening in their lives. Often, someone will say something and it will make you think about something in a new light. I love attending these meets and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them. I really hope to see more new faces, even if it is only to pop in occasionally and see how everyone’s going.
Our Hills Meets occur monthly in Belgrave, and have become one of our most popular events. To find out when the next one is, visit our Community Calendar or the PCV Monthly Hills Pagan Coffee Meets Facebook page.
Even amidst the madness that has been March, we’ve somehow found time to read! Welcome to the March edition of Committee Reads. 🙂
A Book of Beasts by Nigel Pennick and Helen Field
I have to admit I’m a bit of a sucker for anything Capall Bann publishes; this is another of Nigel Pennick’s “overview” books (I reviewed his “Book of Primal Signs” last month). As an overview of animal lore, it’s one of the best books I’ve seen, drawing on more interesting folklore, historical practice and myth than the usual books of its kind.
Personally I’d have liked a bit more detail, but it feels a little churlish to be peeved about that because it *is* an overview, rather than an in-depth study of specific animals, and it does do what it says on the box – and provides some interesting directions for further study. 217 pages long, with 11 chapters on topics such as: Medieval bestiaries, Beasts and the Gods, Animal Powers, Ritual Guising, Beasts in European Fighting Arts, Witch Animals, Animals as Mantic Assistants, and Remedial Beasts, plus others. If you’re interested in animal lore, this is a cut above what’s generally available, and Pennick includes a seven-page bibliography of primary and secondary source material to guide further reading.
First, We Make the Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wilson
One of those personal accounts of suffering used as a vehicle to make a point, it gives the reader that perfect blend of schadenfreude humour and feelings of solidarity.
It’s a rambling mess of a book peppered with a few genuinely valuable insights about radical self-acceptance, journey, and growth. No naff exercises to ignore or cures to try, just perspectives on how to learn to live with, around and in anxiety.
The kind of book to read in the bath while trying not to panic over all the things one should be doing instead of taking a bath.
How to Make and Use Talismans by Israel Regardie
(ISBN: 0 85030 093 2)
At 63 pages, this little text is a nice introduction to talismans from a Ceremonial Magic perspective, written by one of the greatest authors on the Golden Dawn (and intimate of Aleister Crowley). Chapters include: 1. Origin of Talismans; 2. How To Overcome Unfavourable Aspects; 3. Words of Power; 4. Talismans of the Five Elements; 5. A Practical Example; 6. How To Charge The Talisman. It’s short and sweet; this is a subject to which thousands of pages can easily be devoted, but this is a good introduction to the basics, clear and brief, but not lacking in serious content.
Rockspider by Vikki Petraitis and Chris O’Connor
**Content warning**: this book contains discussions of some of the most vile paedophile cases in Australia.
The author of this book Vikki Petraitis worked closely with Dective Senior Sergeant Chris O’Connor from the Child Exploitation Squad who is considered a national and international expert on the subject matter.
In this book she has achieved a harrowing insight into how these predators work, the tools they use and how to combat them. As a teacher part of her goal is to arm parents and guardians with the knowledge to protect their loved ones from behaviors such as grooming.
What is good about this book is the way that at the end of each chapter Vikki and Chris have what they call an ‘In Context’ section where they talk about aspects of the MO of each offender and what has been done since to try and fix the problem but also suggests things to consider keeping an eye out for to protect loved ones.
Why did I read this book? To be honest I read this book because of the chapter called ‘The Satanist’ which refers to a case close to our own community and to understand how it was viewed and dealt with by law enforcement professionals at the time.
What is bad about this book is the depth to which that it pushes you out of your comfort zone, the fact that each chapter is dedicated to a real life case from Australia, and the nauseous feeling that I had everytime I picked it up.
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
Not really Pagan, but it’s been a huge month for the PCV and even we need a break from Paganing. This one had been languishing in the tsundoku pile for an awfully long time and was finally liberated on the grounds that I needed the literary equivalent of a nice cup of tea – and I loved the BBC adaptation of this book, with its quietly stellar cast led by Judy Dench.
Originally published in 1853, Cranford brings to life an imaginary mid-19thC English country village and its mostly-female population, with deft, economical prose and affectionate wit. Gaskell was a revolutionary at the time, writing about matters of class and social divisions, and devoting much of her life to humanitarian work. Her writing is no less engaging for this, and Cranford is a sometimes-sharply loving portrait of a disappearing rural way of life, populated with characters as warm as the candlelight they live by. If this sounds like your literary cup of tea, read it and watch the series. It’s a gem.
Layla, Queen of Hearts by Glenda Millard
Again, this book is not especially Pagan per se, but I am in love with this series and would recommend it as a warm, nurturing bedtime story for people of all ages. Just like the preceeding book, The Naming of Tishkin Silk, Layla: Queen of Hearts is written in Millard’s signature whimsical style and revisits the wonderfully unconventional Silk family and their rambling rural property, known as The Kingdom of Silk. Even though this is a book written for young people, the author does not shy away from themes of love and grief, exploring them in a mature and accessible way. The small-town setting and descriptions of rolling hills, orchards and the red dirt of back roads were very familiar to me as someone who lives in rural Central Victoria… So much so that I was hardly surprised when I later learned that the author is from here originally.
The Orphan’s Tales: in the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente
(ISBN: 0553384031 )
I was brought to the attention of the work of Catherynne Valente by two of SJ Tucker’s albums where she reads excerpts and sings songs based on the tales in this book (and it’s sequel In the Cities of Coin and Spice). The excerpts and songs were so captivating, alluring and evocative that they bought so many highs and lows of emotion that I had to try the actual source material.
In the Night Garden introduces us to the world and concept of the interconnecting tale, a story within a story.
Valente paints such vivid pictures in her tales of characters, locations and draws us into a place of pure imagination, where we cannot help but feel connected to the tale and see and feel the story unfold before our eyes.
The tales hold a beautiful link to mythology and are so beautifully written that it is a pleasure to read.
I cannot recommend this highly enough, nor listening to the works of SJ Tucker that are drawn from this source material.
When Michael Met Mina by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Winner of two prizes at the Premier’s Literary Awards earlier this year, When Michael Met Mina tells the story of Michael, the son of a right-wing anti-Islam spokesperson and Mina, who fled Afghanistan with her mother via a refugee camp, a leaky boat and a detention centre. While this premise has the potential to produce two-dimensional characters and a formulaic storyline, this novel really hits hard, with a beautifully complex investigation of the characters’ fears and hopes, and a very relevant look at the reception different cultures and religions receive in Australia today.
By Alex and Josie
On the 18th of March The PCV hosted our first Pagan Pride Day, in Edinburgh Gardens. It was an amazing day filled with amazing people and a great sense of community. The event started at 12pm. People started arriving and what was initially a small amount of people grew: we ended up with around 50 people attending.
At 2pm the talks about the various paths started. Our first speaker was Shaz. She spoke about ADF Druidry and Silver Birch Grove. Josephine talked about Alexandrian witchcraft, and we then had Dean who spoke about Asatru (Norse paganism), followed by KC guy who spoke about OBOD Druidry. Next, Fio Talked about the Reclaiming path, then Luca Talked about Wildwood, and Dorian Talked about Chaos magic.
After the talks on the different paths we moved on to our ritual for the autumn Equinox which was run by Josie and Ryan in a Alexandrian inspired style. The quarters were called by Fran (Air), Sarah (Fire), Alex (Water) and Mark (Earth). It was a beautiful ritual that included a meeting dance and lovely music.
After the ritual we moved on to our second session of talk which were about the different meetings and gatherings around Victoria we started off with Ryan talking about the CBD pub moots, then Sarah talking about the Monthly Hills Pagan Coffee Meets. Next was Mark who talked about the Central Vic meetups, and we then had Dean who talked about the Heathen meetups, which include a ritual. This was followed by Nickole talking about Earthsong Witchcamps. We then had Dorian who talked about the newly started Frankston/Cranbourne Meetups, and Shaz then talked about Druid Coffee. The Queer Pagan Men’s meetups where then talked about by Buck, Michel then talked about the Mount Franklin Pagan Gathering, and finally we finished off with Seline talking about Into Me I See.
It was an absolutely amazing day filled with friendship and community spirit. As a fairly new member of the Pagan community I found it to be a great way to learn more about what is available in Victoria and also to meet more like minded people. I would also love to thank the amazing PCV for running the day especially Sarah for being MC and making sure everything ran smoothly. I would also love to thank all the speakers and those who ran the ritual and finally thankyou to everyone who attended as without you it wouldn’t have happened.
“I just saw a Reclaiming witch, a Druid and an Anarchist eating grapes together. And they were LAUGHING.”
– overheard at the Pagan Pride Day picnic
After a busy and marvelously social day at Pagan Pride Day, we headed on down to Bar 303 in Northcote to see Spiral Dance and KC Guy live in concert, presented by the PCV.
This concert was the perfect way to finish off a day of the Pagan community coming together. KC Guy’s voice is truly enchanting, and just what we needed to chill out and lose ourselves. Spiral Dance has a decades-long track record of bringing Pagans together with their beautiful and very danceable music, and dance we did!
The hot, sticky night didn’t stop any of us from busting out our best daggy Pagan dance moves to tunes like The Quickening, Faerie Tale and our favourite, Black Annis.
By the end of the night our throats were raw, our clothes were heavy with sweat and every last one of us were wearing enormous watermelon-slice grins as we exploded out into the cool night air of High Street.
A million, squillion thankyous to KC Guy and Spiral Dance for travelling from South Australia to perform for us and provide the perfect ending to a perfect day. Thanks also to Bar 303 for having us, to everyone who helped out on the door, and to Mark Hayes for his beautiful photos of the night.
You can download a copy of the Pagan Pride Day Flyer here: PPD 2017
Photo Reuse Policy: You are welcome to use these photos for *personal use* on social media, etc, but please credit/tag the Mark Hayes Photography Facebook Page when you do.