March is Community Safety Month for the PCV. Throughout this month we will be promoting safe, sane and inclusive Pagan community for all through the sharing of information, discussion topics and more.
We decided to start by sharing advice and information for people new to Paganism. These articles have been shared daily on our Facebook page.
PAN Safety in Circle Pamphlet: This brochure, by our friends at The Pagan Awareness Network, is essential reading for any Pagan new to face-to-face events and groups. It covers basic personal safety within the Pagan community and what to do if you witness or become the victim of illegal or unethical behaviour. PAN is one of the longest-running groups dedicated to Pagan networking, fellowship and education in the country, and we are proud to share this as the first of our Community Safety Month resources.
The Pagan Community – A Survivor’s Guide: In this piece, UK musician and storyteller Damh the Bard offers some pearls of wisdom for those new to the Pagan community. He also discusses the ideal motivations for seeking community in the first place.
Truth and Tales about Paganism: This is another excellent brochure from our friends at The Pagan Awareness Network. This one busts some commonly believed myths for newbies to Paganism and Pagan Community.
Pagan Pathways: Continuing on with our overview before we delve into more complex subjects, this brochure by the Pagan Awareness Network explores and demystifies many different Pagan traditions. Essential reading for anyone new to the community or to Paganism in general.
Wicca and Witchcraft – Which is Which?: The last PAN brochure we looked at explored and explained a variety of Pagan paths. This one sets out to define the differences between Wicca and witchcraft, which are two very different labels that are often confused with one another.
Paganism for Beginners – Controversies: UK Wiccan Yvonne Aburrow’s Paganism for Beginners pieces are all wonderful, but this one is especially useful to anyone just discovering the Pagan community and all its intricacies.
Sacred Ground and Acknowledgement of Country: Pagans in Australia are practicing on a land already rich with spiritual history. In this brochure, the Pagan Awareness Network discuss the importance of acknowledging the land’s traditional custodians, as well as other ways we as Pagans can show respect.
Sacred Knives: Athames and other sacred blades are used in rituals by some Pagans. But what are they used for exactly? Is it legal to carry one or use it in a public place? Our friends from the Pagan Awareness Network have got the answers in this handy brochure.
Five Things I Wish I’d Known as a Beginner: In this article, US author Thorn Mooney has some great advice for anyone new to Paganism or the Pagan community.
Skyclad – the Bare Facts: Some Pagans practice naked, or Skyclad. This brochure from the Pagan Awareness Network contains important information about the whys, the hows, the shoulds and the should-nots of ritual nudity.
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Membership to the PCV is free, and we want to keep it that way. We don’t believe access to one’s local community and the potential support network and friends therein should be put behind a paywall and limited to those who can afford it.
With that said, as the Collective has grown in popularity so too have our costs. When we first started out, costs were covered by a small group of founding members. Now that we have grown much larger, we’re hoping that our community can help us out with some of these costs via a small monthly contribution, and maybe help to fund some exciting future projects, too!
Paganism is a lot of different things to different people, we all bring different skills, values, and viewpoints to paganism and often derive different things from our practice both in a community setting and working solo.
Recently several friends and I decided that it was time to do the Goldfields track, a walk that starts at the top of the picturesque Mount Bunninyong on the edge of Ballarat and ranges across the countryside through forest, bush, farmland and a number of rural towns. It terminates in Bendigo some 210kms from its start.
What does this have to do with paganism you might be asking yourself? The short answer is everything and nothing, depending on what you bring to it and what you take away from the experience. For me, as someone who identifies as a Druid, my connection to the land I live, work and practice paganism on is important. In ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship) we are encouraged to understand the land we live on, in a real, meaningful way.
Living in rural Australia you find that you often drive everywhere, and glimpse only but the tip of what is around you. Since I moved back to small town living I’ve spent the time exploring patches of what is around my new home and getting to know the land on my terms. Now as we trek through the many legs of the Goldfields track, I am being exposed to things I didn’t know where there, learning about the history around me, connecting with the land and its spirits and being shown things about myself, my companions and the world I hadn’t expected.
As I write this I am sitting in front of a fan on a scorching summers day five legs into this adventure, contemplating what to write about our experiences so far and how to describe them. I guess I’ll start with one of the things that has impressed me the most. How resilient nature is, there have been sights along the way that illustrated this perfectly even as it broke my heart to see how careless in general we humans are with nature and our surrounds.
We’ve found waterways running clear and beautiful where it seemed so unlikely, animals living in places that seemed so befouled by human interaction, plants reclaiming what used to be theirs, and a strange kind of harmony that has been reached between introduced species and native flora. While this resilience exists, it is not ideal that we go about our lives not thinking about how we impact the planet we live on.
Something else surprising was the discovery of places and spirits that demanded attention along the way, these took place in the form of offerings mostly – a few fresh snap peas and some fresh water here, some almonds and fruit elsewhere, since we were traveling light we gave what we could spare. It did not go unappreciated. While these interactions were startling, enjoyable and I think positive on both sides it left me with an unquiet sensation, a series of thoughts that I could not hope to put together in this article about our responsibilities to this land we call home.
One thing about the area we are walking is there is still a heavy presence of the history of mining throughout the region. You cannot go far through the bush and forest here without seeing subtle signs of the deep scarring that the land here felt during the gold rush (and beyond in some places). It doesn’t matter how tall the trees, how many birds, lizards and kangaroos you see. It cannot hide the capped mineshafts, damaged waterways, remnant structure and deep slices into the earth are everywhere here.
I’ll leave you for now with some photos from our journey so far, and would encourage others to try this in the area they live in.
2017 is well and truly over, and as we recover from the silly season and bask in the long, hot summer days, we can’t help but start looking forward to what we have planned for the coming year.
Meetups: Last year we hosted more than 50 meetups across the state, giving Pagans of a wide variety of locations, traditions and walks of life the opportunity to come together and socialise over a cuppa (or beer!). This year, our meetups will continue apace, with Melbourne Pagans in the Pub in the CBD, the Monthly Hills Pagan Coffee Meets in Belgrave, the Frankston Pagan Meets and the Central Vic Pagan Meets in Creswick and Castlemaine. This year, in conjunction with Druids of Victoria, we will be co-hosting Wandering Druid Coffee Meets in many different locations around the state. If you are a Druid or interested in Druidic practice, take a look.
As always, all our Meets are held according to the Standards laid out in our Mission Statement. Our community is diverse, supportive, and nurturing, and we love it that way.
At present, all our Meets are adults-only. Please do not bring children. If you are a parent wanting to run family-friendly Pagan events, get in touch with us and we’ll help you get started.
Public Rituals: Once again we will be co-hosting free public sabbat rituals with a range of groups and individuals from across our diverse Pagan community. Coming up next weekend is our public Lughnasadh ritual, which will be co-hosted by the Hills Pagans in Belgrave.
Future public rituals include an Imbolc ritual co-hosted by Silver Birch Grove ADF, an Ostara ritual co-hosted by the Sovereigns of the Golden Path and a Midsummer ritual co-hosted by the Melbourne Grove of OBOD.
Patreon: In the very near future we will be launching a Patreon page, where anybody interested can support the PCV with a small monthly donation.
Membership the PCV is free, and we want to keep it that way. We don’t believe access to one’s local community and the potential support network and friends should be put behind a paywall and limited to those who can afford it.
With that said, as the Collective has grown in popularity so too have our costs. When we first started out, costs were covered by a small group of founding members. Now that we have grown much larger, we’re hoping that our community can help us out with some of these costs via a small monthly contribution, and maybe help to fund some exciting future projects, too.
Our Patreon backers will receive exclusive backer-only updates, free entry to our workshops, and discounts for a range of our other initiatives.
Redbubble: Also coming soonish is our Redbubble store, where our friends and supporters can buy groovy PCV merch. We’re currently working on organising a discount for our Patreon backers – watch this space.
Community Safety Month: March will once again be Community Safety Month for the PCV. We will be sharing valuable resources across our online and social media platforms, and discussion topics at our March meetups will be geared towards keeping the Pagan community safe, inclusive and nurturing for all.
Pagan Pride Day: After the huge success of last year’s inaugural Pagan Pride Day, we will be doing it all again in April this year. Pack a picnic and come along for an afternoon of connecting, sharing and celebrating with your community. We will have guest speakers from Victoria’s active Pagan traditions, a ritual and more. There are even rumours of a witches vs druids kubb game being planned.
Community Calendar: We are putting the finishing touches on our 2018 Community Calendar. This calendar contains information about all Pagan events in Victoria and is a valuable resource.
This year, we have made important changes to our calendar policy: “In accordance with Victorian law, groups and individuals running ‘family friendly’ events will need to supply copies of Working With Children Cards for all organisers and volunteers in order to see their event included on the Community Calendar”.
Workshops: We have a number of workshops planned which will be offered free to our Patreon backers. Watch our Facebook Page for updates.
Phew! 2018 is already looking jam-packed with fantastic offerings for the Victorian Pagan community. And with such a wide variety of events and locations, there is sure to be something to suit everyone.
See you there! ❤
We are finally picking ourselves up out of a heap after another great Beltane at the Mount Franklin Pagan Gathering.
Sarah and the crew from our Monthly Hills Pagan Coffee Meets hosted this year’s ritual, delivering a fantastic rite that we felt privileged to be a part of. PCV committee member Alex was also a huge help all weekend, most notably running our children’s maypole event on the Sunday.
This year’s maypole was kindly donated by S, who crafted it from scratch! This will be outlined in another post, coming soon. 🙂
Many thanks to the Hillsfolk, the Organisers, and to everyone else who made this year such a huge success! ❤
Hills Pagan Weeknight Dinners
The PCV’s Hills Pagan Monthly Coffee Meets have become so popular that it was decided a second Hills Meet was needed! To give our lovely host café a bit of space and offer those who find their weekends eclipsed by other commitments a chance to attend, a weeknight dinner event was established. In October we met for the first Hills Pagan Monthly Weeknight Dinner in the eclectic and charming ambiance of the Micawber Park Tavern in Belgrave. The tavern sits nestled among lush treeferns and surrounded by towering mountain ash forest. Beside the tavern a stream dances among the rocks, and if you are quiet and lucky, you may see a platypus before it disappears leaving only ripples behind. Inside traditional protective amulets – horse brasses lay on the cottage-like exposed beams, while an assortment of steins, tankards, lead lights lamps, old oak barrels and images of knights dot the interior landscape.
We had a fine old wooden table in an open room to ourselves. Naturally a lot of discussion began with plans and excitement for the Mount Franklin Pagan Gathering. It moved in turn to swapping travel experiences about Iceland, Scandinavia, Scotland and even Antarctica. The new meet also saw initial Spring plans hatched for a Hills Pagan Writers Bootcamp. We chatted about gardening, elf stones and whether three or more Pagan events on the same day is too much. A fine tavern dinner, in a splendid setting filled with bright and bubbly Pagan banter was enjoyed by all. We’re already looking forward to the next one!
Monthly Hills Pagan Coffee Meets
To say that October has been a massive month for the Hillsmeets is a little like saying the ocean is a bit damp; it’s November now, so it’s technically impossible to cram any more into October, but the last four weeks for the Hillsfolk have included:
*our regular Sunday meet at Earthly Pleasures – and the first one for the Spring that has been warm enough for us to gather outside in EP’s beautiful gardens;
*the second of our ongoing monthly weeknight dinner meets at Micawber Tavern, which was well-attended and is going to continue being a lovely, relaxed get-together in extremely pretty surroundings;
*the first of our ongoing Writers’ Workshops, hosted by published author (and witch) Helen Patrice, who offers prompts, inspiration, and guidance in writing around pagan themes;
*and last but not least, the culmination of weeks of hard work, as the Hillsmeets hosted the Mount Franklin Pagan Gathering’s Beltane Ritual. The MFPG is in its 36th year, and it was an honour to be part of such a long and beautiful tradition. With an attendance of nearly a hundred people, the Beltane ritual was somewhat of a baptism of fire (if you’ll excuse the metaphor which is simultaneously very appropriate and also not at all) for the Hills group, who had not previously done any ritual or magical work together (unless you count sitting around having coffee every single month for nearly three years and still really enjoying it an act of magic), let alone any public work, and had no opportunity to get together for even one rehearsal before the big night. But we are nothing if not intrepid, and our faith in ourselves, each other, and the divine was rewarded, and the ritual went beautifully; the weather was perfect, the fire roared into blazing life, the May Queen and her King were crowned, and a very tangible sacred space was shared by everyone.
The Hillsmeets group would like to extend our most heartfelt gratitude to the MFPG organisers and all who attended, and I would like to express my love and thanks to the ritual group who were absolutely magnificent, not to mention unfailingly positive, supportive, helpful, and brave. Alex, Dean, Fran, Seumas, and Veronica (in alphabetical order because I can’t type you all in simultaneously; it would be the sort of typographical nightmare that summons demons or looks like a black metal band logo) – you are amazing, with a special mention to Ro, whose humour, support, and the fact she’d thought of absolutely everything that could possibly be needed, kept us all going. You’re all amazing.
Our beautiful little community keeps growing and getting lovelier, and long may it flower.
And may November be comparatively peaceful, and filled with cake.
Silver Birch Grove Druid Coffee
Silver Birch Grove ADF held it’s Druid Coffee on Sunday 22nd of October. We had a good crowd for a cold Sunday and we were happy that we had a table in the front room again. As always the service and food at The Peacock Inn hotel was wonderful and I enjoyed a great lunch with copious amounts of coffee.
We were able to begin organising ourselves for the upcoming Mt Franklin Pagan Festival, making sure we all had the camping equipment we would need and worked on a little bit of a meal plan. For those that know me that meant I had to work out how much bacon we would need.
There were many varied conversations over lunch. We had a chat about modern Heathenry, some interesting reading suggestions and a fascinating conversation regarding the current Marriage Equality survey with other interested attendees. We found that we had all sent our surveys in already and are hoping the outcome is a positive one.
I got to talk to one of our regulars about his upcoming trip to Las Vegas. While we will be camping, he will be jetting off to the US. He thought it was a shame he would be missing Mt Franklin this year but I’m pretty sure he was just being polite.
Druid Coffee is a great way to meet your local ADF Druids. We hold it on the 4th Sunday of each month at The Peacock Inn Hotel in Northcote. We hope you can catch us at the next one.
CBD Pagan Pub Moot
With Spring having sprung, a small band of Pagans gathered in a cosy nook of The Last Jar Irish Pub. In that shadowy corner our dark purpose was to summon a few pints of Guiness. The previous few CBD Pub Moots had been quite gregarious. This time however, with the AWC and several other competing events on during the same weekend, we had a smaller turn out. This quieter and more relaxed atmosphere turned out to be perfect for some new people to ask some questions of some Pagans who had been practicing for a longer time and all had many experiences to share.
What’s Next for the PCV?
Dates for your diary…
Saturday, November 18th: Central Victorian Pagans and Heathens in the Cafe
Sunday, November 19th: CBD Pagan Pub Moot – November
Saturday, November 25th: PCV Summer Picnic 2017
Sunday, November 26th: Bi-Monthly Frankston/Cranbourne Pagan Meet
Sunday, December 3rd: December Committee Meeting
Sunday, December 3rd: Monthly Hills Pagan Coffee Meets – December
If it’s a break you are wanting from all of the stress of life, then I can recommend a lovely little book called Sophia’s Secret, by Susanna Kearsley (2008). Classified as ‘historical romance’, it takes you back to the 1708 attempt by Jacobite loyalists to bring James Stewart over from France to Scotland to rule as their king. Most of the characters are based on real people and the research, as far as I can tell, has been impeccably done. Yet it’s a light read, based on the premise that ‘ancestral memory’ persists through our DNA. As soon as I finished this book I wanted to read more by this author and have ordered her latest book ‘A Desperate Fortune’, which is another Jacobite intrigue.
This book follows the tale of the family of the chieftains children.
Set in Ireland the main character is Lord Collum’s youngest child and only daughter Sorcha through her trials, to do right, help her family and her people.
This is a beautifully written tale and can be read as a stand alone or in conjunction with other books that follow on from this.
Juliet Marillier is an Australian author who crafts a magical world and weaves her words skillfully. I cannot recommend this book enough.
Apart from Capall Bann books my other guilty pleasure is historical murder mysteries. Don’t ask me why they’re so comforting – actually really don’t ask; I can’t afford the therapy in case the answer isn’t nice. But the thing is, they are, and when I’m frazzled by life, I’ll pull something off the stack of “historical slaughter stories I found in the opshop”, and wallow in it. This is one such find.
As it turns out, “Peter Tremayne” is the nom-de-plume of Peter Berresford Ellis, whose book on The Druids I like immensely, so I approached this with more optimism than usual. Hemlock at Vespers is a collection of short stories featuring Tremayne’s main protagonist, Sister Fidelma, a 7thC religieuse and dalaigh, or advocate of the ancient law courts of Ireland. Sister Fidelma is beautiful, with sparkling eyes and amazing red hair, wise, intelligent, quick-witted, adept at almost everything, and holds a rank in her profession second only to the ollamhs who may sit as equals with the High King. We are reminded of this several times in every short story, in case we forget how utterly incredible Sister Fidelma really is. Men underestimate her. Constantly, because she is a woman; but she just smiles mysteriously, and pulls rank and/or amazes them into silence. Despite all of this, as a Mary Sue she’s not too unpalatable, and Tremayne’s historical knowledge goes a long way to making his bite-sized mysteries rather enjoyable. I’m oddly curious to see how a whole novel might read, once the character doesn’t have to be reintroduced in all her improbable glory every five minutes, so Tremayne’s eight other Fidelma novels have gone on the opshop wish list, and if I get lucky I may inflict the results on you here. I really do recommend his Druid book, though; it’s a corker.
This beautiful book of poetry written by the wonderful Doreen is a heartwarming, spinetingling collection of tales and imagery penned across the course of her life.
It is broken into four sections, each dedicated to a season and named after one of her most famous pieces of prose it is well worth a read.
With a variety of themes and topics, Valiente transports us briefly to another world with her words, painting us worlds of beauty, wonder and danger.
Definitely worth the read. I will be reading this again and again, it was worth every dollar.
To be fair I actually haven’t finished this one yet, because I’ve had precious little time for reading this month, and, well, you’re here for the book review and don’t need to hear my whining. Anyway; I haven’t finished this; here is a review of one-third of a book so far. I picked it up from a local bookshop and nearly didn’t because it has a tacky cover (standing stones, check; cauldron with a pentagram on it, check; broom-fer-chrissakes, check; weirdly-photoshopped smoke and fire, check; athame and chalice possibly taken from a 1990s computer game, check), but when I was but a wee bairn, a fairy laid a geas on me that I have to buy every single book published by Capall Bann or I would never get any cake*, so I did.
Actually it’s very, very good. It transpires, in themed coincidence (see my fiction review this month) that “Gwyn” is the pseudonym of Michael Howard of The Cauldron magazine, and as one might expect from him, it’s an excellent book filled with folklore (some of which I hadn’t come across before), history, and traditional craft, tied together into one of the very best, (if not the best; I’m only partway through) paradigms of Modern Traditional Witchcraft I have read so far. Gwyn explores witch-lore throughout the British Isles and Europe, and even America, as well as describing a cohesive mythos for practice, spellwork, tool use, ritual, etc. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of this. It deserves a nicer cover. So far it gets a glowing recommendation from me. Just probably don’t read it on public transport if you care what people think.
*that may be a complete lie to justify my reading habits.
I place frankincense on the altars as offering…
I’m just going to say. Earthsong 2017 was an experience that I wouldn’t have missed. I say this every year and each year it is true for different reasons. This year we worked with an Egyptian myth cycle. We invoked Isis, Osiris, Horus and Set. I volunteered to serve the temple this year and my tasks ranged from setting up altars to sweeping the floor. I was privileged to attend the role with another Reclaiming Witch and friend and found it to be a grounding act of service.
Earthsong WitchCamp is held in the Reclaiming tradition. It is ecstatic and entirely non hierarchical and has activist roots. Reclaiming Witches adhere to the Principles of Unity but generally impose few other requirements. Campers attending Earthsong take part in a Path. Paths offered depend on the myth cycle being worked with as well as the teaching team for the Camp. Path is my absolute favourite part of Camp without question. In fact the sole reason I attended Camp this year was to take the advanced path- Pearl Pentacle with the teaching team offering it. Pearl Pentacle is a tool that comes to Reclaiming from Anderson Feri. Earthsong has been honored and blessed by the gifts of so many exceptional experienced teachers across the years and this year was certainly no exception. I find that I am working with the tools, techniques and knowledge long after Camp is over.
With the exception of one night each night of Camp involves a ritual. This year I found the nightly rituals to be a moving arc of grace and beauty. They were priestessed by Witches of considerable strength and experience and skill. I personally found that the rituals added a great deal to my Camp experience.
I was blown away by the strong and demonstrated sense of community that was shown at this years Camp particularly. I’m assisting with organising the Camp for 2018 and I can only hope that this continues next year because the inclusiveness and enthusiasm was so wonderful to witness.
When I attended my first Camp a couple of years ago I was told that they were nothing less than life transforming acts of magic. This years Camp experience as well as my ongoing work with Reclaiming has shown that to be completely and absolutely true. I would encourage anyone curious about Reclaiming to give themselves the gift of experiencing a WitchCamp.