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 started the month by sharing advice and information for people new to Paganism. This week we’re moving on to tips and advice on finding a joining a group. These articles have been shared daily on our Facebook page.
Your First Pagan Event: In this article, NSW group The Pagan Fringe share some helpful dos and don’ts for anyone attending their first public Pagan event.
Paganism for Beginners – Group Dynamics: This article by Yvonne Aburrow looks at some of the most commonly used structures of groups, as well as how and why some groups can find themselves failing.
How do I find a Coven?: This article by The Pagan Fringe offers advice on finding a coven or working group in Australia.
How to Find and Join a Coven: The last few articles we’ve shared have been about seeking out and joining Pagan groups of a range of traditions. This piece by US Gardnerian writer Thorn Mooney offers advice for those drawn to traditional, hierarchical, coven-based forms of Craft.
Cult Warning Signs: This resource is a handy checklist written by cult specialist Rick Ross. These warning signs can help you identify safe and unsafe behaviours in a group and its leader/s.
Pagan Relationships – Building Lasting Community: This piece examines and discusses some of the factors needed for building healthy, sustainable Pagan community.
Wiccan Deal-Breakers: In this article, Thorn Mooney outlines some of the signs that you should re-examine whether the path you are seeking is the right one for you.
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.
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! ❤
This article by PCV Committee member Luca was originally published in our old newsletter, Spokes of the Wheel (volume 2 issue 5, Yule 2015). Photo by Kylie Moroney photography.
“Deep beneath the shade and power Of this tree we call our tower Day is fleeting, shadows fall Across this path our feet touch all”
-Charge of the WildWood
T o this I must confess, Wildwood witchcraft is a rather recent current of witchcraft. It came into being late 2006 through four young men when a “call out” was sent by one of the founders of Wild-wood seeking like minded individuals who might be interested in exploring pagan faith together and delving into the mysteries that witchcraft holds. A covenant was formed between these four but soon other witches from the surrounding area began to congregate and celebrate the moon and sun under the banner of “WildWood”.
The earlier members of Wildwood began to recognise this strand of witchcraft as its own beast. This was noted when one of the founding members branched out and carried the seed of Wildwood him to form his coven in England. At that time something affectionately nicknamed the “yewj” (the usual setup) became fully formed. The “yewj” being what had used to be a somewhat basic neopagan framework but had rather organically grown and evolved as had its participants.
Wildwood has since expanded, branched out and thrown its seeds to every possible passing wind with our witches now based in Australia, the Netherlands, America, England and even a witch or two in Japan.
Through its enigmatic beginnings Wildwood has thus become a definition of eclecticism, having drawn inspiration, vision and learning from Greco-Roman mystery traditions, English folk-lore, published Wiccan material, indigenous European shamanic practices and paradigms, Italian witchcraft, Luciferian and heretical witchcraft, historical witchcraft trials, the Reclaiming tradition of witchcraft and Celtic druidism. A few of the many authors who’ve had an influence on the members of Wildwood and our practice are Doreen Valiente, Dion Fortune, Starhawk, Robert Cochrane and Charles Godfrey Leland.
I remember hearing a member of our community succinctly describe Wildwood as a “Earth based, ecstasy driven, mysterytradition”. To pull it out of a romanticised and poetic context and put it into layman’s terms it can be broken down into three parts.
Firstly, “earth based” refers to our belief that the land itself is inherently sacred, that nature in all its guises and masks is the honest face of God Herself and that the earth itself is worthy of our protection and adoration, both practically and magically.
Secondly, “ecstasy driven” refers to the sorcerous practices and skills employed within our tradition, fetch-flight, possession and oracular seership not being seen as taboo (although we often pride ourselves as taboo breakers) but accepted and explored.
Thirdly, “mystery tradition” eludes to our tradition’s framework as well as our relationship with greater mystery; the otherworld being seen as the heartland of the witch. The framework of Wildwood can be broken down into an inner and outer court, inner being comprised of Dedicants and the Priesthood and the outer court being filled with Aspirants.
One thing that separates us from other mystery traditions is our actual lack of hierarchy, Priest/esses not having authority over Dedicants and Dedicants not having authority over Aspirants. The journey from Aspirant to Dedicant to Priest/ess being viewed largely as a journey inwards and into mystery, with certain names and mysteries being withheld from aspirants on the basis that without a context, these mysteries would mean nothing.
Our tradition, though young and fresh, makes brave strides forward, misstepping at times though always picking ourselves back up and dusting off with as much grace and tact as a bunch of cackling witches can do. We accept people from all gender expressions, sexualities, capabilities, races and walks of life and we never charge for the education, training and initiation of Wildwood witchcraft.
As a member of the Wildwood tradition of witchcraft and a rather recent resident of Melbourne, I look forward to being more present and active within the Victorian Pagan community.
This article by PCV committee member Dean is from the 2017 Summer edition of Oak Leaves, the quarterly international publication of ADF.
The June Solstice is the Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. South of the Equator the seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere. For ADF members in Australia then the short answer is to simply flip the Wheel of the Year so that we celebrate the High Days in accordance with the seasons here. Australia is a country, an island and a continent. It ranges from tropical rainforests near the Equator to vast wetlands and deserts, spinifex plains, saltbush scrub, mallee, dry open eucalypt woodlands, mountains ranges, cool ferny forested gullies and Mountain Ash forest – the largest flowering trees on Earth, all the way to the icy sub-Antarctic islands. Most parts of Australia have anywhere from 2-10 seasons reflected in Aboriginal knowledge and modern ecological understandings of the cycles at work within various ecosystems.
So what’s an ADF member to do for their personal or Grove High Day observances? We have to think about what the High Days mean to us as individuals and Groves. We have to think about the ADF Core Order of Ritual, the traditions of our Indo-European Hearth Cultures and balance that with what is going on in the local environment in which we live, work and come together for ritual. The Solstices and Equinoxes are astrological fixed points that do affect the amount of daylight, heat and behaviours of flora and fauna and the Cross-quarter days still hold traditional significance even if they have little agricultural basis in Australia. A sense of tradition, personal and/or ancestral connection to Indo-European Hearth Cultures is often a substantial factor in what draws people to Neo-Paganism and to ADF in particular here. Attunement with what is happening in nature, through ADF practices and simply spending time regularly in the local environment provides ample opportunities for observation of what is happening at different times near you, whether it is the oak shedding its leaves or the blue gum shedding its bark, or the flowering of daffodils or banksia trees.
Silver Birch Grove is my local Grove in Melbourne. It is Celtic in Hearth Culture, while my own Hearth Culture is Norse. Yule (in June) is my ritual new year, and my favourite High Day! When I lead a ritual for our Grove’s Yule celebration I try to incorporate traditions from the Norse into our High Day. There’s no snow, but morning frosts and the chance of cold rain…which always seems to stay clear while we hold our rituals. The creek is flowing higher with rain water, the damp earth of the nemeton has sprouted winter grass, while the eucalyptus and wattle surrounding our grove are lush and green. It is actually safe for us to have a ritual fire in our portable fire pit (fire is banned over most of Summer) for our Yule log. People bring holly, sprigs of pine and pinecones as well as native foliage from their gardens to add to the altar. The local blue-tongued lizards have gone into torpor. The calls of Australian magpies, little ravens and cockatoos as well as Winter visitors from the hills like currawongs and yellow robins rise through the air.
Last year at Yule we had Thor as our deity of the occasion. We usually tell a story of the deity of the occasion and last year I told the story of Thor and his goats visiting a family at Yule. The poor family had no food to offer their guest hospitality so Thor revealed himself and killed his goats to feed them and provide a feast with ample leftovers for the coldest nights. In the morning, he resurrected the goats from their bones with his hammer Mjolnir and continued on his way. We had a special imported beer with a goat on it as a perfect offering in addition to our usual offerings. When it came to the waters of life, I work in a sumbel, for Yule is traditionally a good time for one. As I bring my drinking horn filled with more mead than usual, participants are invited to make a boast, a toast or an oath. Yule being an especially auspicious time for oaths. We do three rounds for people to reflect on the past year, the present and the future. The ritual went well, Thor seemed pleased and the folk seemed jolly as we finished the ritual and had our own picnic feast.
For those of us in Australia the challenge is to find relevant meanings in our High Day celebrations that bring together aspects of traditional Hearth Cultures within very different environments. It’s still something that is unfolding and perhaps with more ADF members in time we will see a diversity of new expressions of old Hearth Cultures honouring the Kindreds Down Under.
Reviewed by Ryan McLeod
It’s a strange experience discovering a God or Goddess that is unfamiliar to you for the first time.
You may have come across them in a classical painting, a reference in a poem or a book on mythology it catches your imagination or has a spark of recognition. It encourage to find out more and search through obscure references books looking for the earliest of references and may even push you further explore the culture or history of the people that originally worshipped your new God. And that’s why it’s been such a pleasure to review Daughter of the Sun – A Devotional Anthology in Honor of Sekhmet.
Sekhmet is a Goddess I really knew very little about. The joy of this anthology is the diverse views and perspectives on the Goddess that that paints a such a vivid picture. Tina Georgitsis has done a stellar effort here as editor of this anthology consisting of such a diverse range of material this book is full of exciting stories, beautiful poetry and wonderful art. We are introduced to Sekhmet; A Goddess of the ancient Egypt pantheon. Sekhmet is a Goddess of many facets: Avatar of justice, warrior, healer, hunter and mother. You’ll will learn so much about the character of this Goddess throughout this anthology.
This book is filled with poetic inspiration and vividly paints a picture of Sekmet very much alive and radiating with power thousands of years later after the fall of Ancient Egypt. I thoroughly recommend you get copy Daughter of the Sun if you are familiar with Sekhmet you will find it an invaluable resource. If you are just learning about this Goddess for the first time like I am, it is a wonderful introduction.
This review first appeared in Volume 3, Issue 5 (Imbolc 2016) of our old newsletter, Spokes of the Wheel.
By Shaz Lizzy
The Pagan Collective of Victoria’s public Lughnassadh ritual will be hosted by Silver Birch Grove ADF on the fifth of February, 2017, and is open to all Pagan and likeminded folk. Below is a re-post of a very informative article about the Grove, which is just one of the many active and friendly Pagan groups open to the public here in Victoria. 🙂
Silver Birch Grove is a member Grove of ADF. The full name of our organization is Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid fellowship, Inc. The first part, pronounced arn REEokht fane, is modern Irish for “Our Own Druidism” (or “Druidry” or “Magic”) and that’s what we are — an independent tradition (denomination) of Neopagan Druidism. Since many people have trouble pronouncing and spelling our Irish name, we usually just say “ADF.”
ADF is working to combine in-depth scholarship with the inspiration of artistry and spiritual practice to create a powerful modern Paganism. We’re researching and interpreting sound modern scholarship (rather than romantic fantasies) about the ancient Indo-European Pagans — the Celts, Norse, Slavs, Balts, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Vedics, and others. Upon these cultural foundations we are working to build a religion that these ancient people would appreciate and understand yet one which has depth and power for modern people. We’re developing genuine skills in composition and presentation in the musical, dramatic, graphic, textile and other arts. We’re bringing together people trained in ritual, psychic skills and applied mythology to bring the remnants of the old ways to life. We’re creating a non-sexist, non-racist, organic, flexible and publicly available religion to practice as a way of life and to hand on to future generations.
Silver Birch ADF is a Melbourne based congregation of Neopagan Druids serving the greater Melbourne Area. Silver Birch Grove primarily focuses on the Celtic hearth cultures. We are a growing group of friends who enjoy studying the mythology, archaeology, and anthropology of the Indo-European cultures. We also honour our Ancestors and the Deities associated with these cultures by celebrating the high days in public rituals. Our religion is a way of life. As such we believe in following the 9 virtues of Wisdom, Piety, Vision, Courage, Integrity, Perseverance, Hospitality, Moderation, and Fertility. We also meet for study, hiking, arts/crafts, culture, meditations, blessings, and community works.
We are working together to research and revive the practices of the Old Ones in a way that makes sense for the modern world. We are striving to create a spiritual environment for the community where each member can grow spiritually, artistically, and intellectually, where we all achieve greater communion with Mother Earth, the Nature Spirits, our Ancestors, and our Deities. We hope to continue to grow and serve the community both spiritually and materially through rituals, workshops, and public works. Membership is open to all who wish to honour the cycles of Nature, and revere the Ancestors and Deities. Any Druidic ritual has as a primary intention the re-weaving of the links between human-kind, the natural world, and the God/desses and Spirits who support both. For thousands of years human culture lived in more or less intimate communion with the unseen worlds. Over the centuries of European culture these ties have been weakened, until our modern materialism is endangering the very air and water that sustains our life. We work to reconnect with the powers of Land, Sea and Sky, honouring the spirit that is in them as well as their physical realities. As with any religious path we also seek blessings for ourselves, our families and communities. We open our hearts to the flow of divine blessing that comes from our God/desses. We seek also to awaken that same divine spark in our own souls, so that we can bless the world in return.
At Beltaine 2015, the folk of Silver Birch Grove and the Warrior women and friends gathered to celebrate in a public setting. We were excited to be given the opportunity to run our ritual at Mt Franklin. We were also delighted to have our Vice Arch Druid in attendance and all the way from America.
We offered a ritual that follows our core order. The ritual that we offered is similar to what we would have held at our home nemeton in inner Melbourne, just with more people! Our ritual began with a spiral danced led by Linda and then Dale talked about the lands and the people of the land. We Began with the purpose of the ritual by Ang, then Shaz announced our intent to honour gods, goddesses, ancestors and spirits of place. Maree honoured the earth Mother, Callum made our offering to the out dwellers and Andrea honoured our Bardic deities, Julie honoured the nature spirits, Curtis the ancestors, Dean the gods and goddesses and Ang the deity of the occasion, Danu. Shaz then proceeded to the praise offering and Drum took the omen for the blessing using Ogham, which was: ur- Heather/ Mistletoe, healing by looking inside. Phagos- Beech, old knowledge and old writing, oir- spindle, sudden de-light after a long process. So the story tells us that through the old knowledge and writ-ings we will be able to look inside ourselves to gain healing. Shaz then received the blessing of the gods and spirits through the waters of life. Deb and Rowan asperged all in the circle and at the close of the ritual we asked all to join us for a shared meal. What a great weekend. Thanks to all those who participated, organised and came from far away.
So, now with our sights firmly fixed on the summer days to come, the earth is again green as we have been promised. Warmed by the power of the Sun and the Waters’ cool strength, shoot has become bud and the promise of abundance to come is visible all over the land. It is now that the Nature Spirits truly come alive, and as we honour them, we also give thanks to the Kindreds that guide us, and to our Ancestors who walk with us. Now we rejoice in the warmth after the cold winter and welcome the spring.
If you would like to know more about ADF please visit ADF.org
For more information about Silver Birch Grove ADF visit our Facebook group.
(Some material from ADF.org)
This article originally appeared in our old newsletter, Spokes of the Wheel (volume 2 issue 7, Spring 2015). Photo: ADF Archdruid Drum at the 2015 Mount Franklin Pagan Gathering. Supplied by Kylie Moroney Photography.
Lughnasadh or as it can be known to Heathens Loaf-fest, Freyfaxi or Hlafmaest is a time of bounty, summer bearing crops are ready to harvest, the first loaves since grain stores ran empty are baked and ale and mead is brewed.
During this time it is only right that we share our bounty with the Aesir and the Wights as thanks for a good season, free of storms, vermin or disease to ruin the crops. It is also a forward payment on the next harvest too.
For modern heathens there are many interpretations of how to celebrate this time, however grain, bread, and ale are all good suggestions for things to offer at Loaf-fest, although if you are looking for more to offer consider using some of your harvest from your garden (or for those without a garden an offering of something that is in season where you are currently). Some of the more commonly praised gods and goddesses at this time are Thor, Freyr, and Sif.
It is also thought that this is a good time to make a corn dolly to sacrifice to the fire as part of your celebrations, the dolly is though to aid in warding of storms and vermin.
Some heathen scholars also argue that this is a good time of the year to bless wells and waterways, to keep the waters clean and pure, as well as warn of floods. They suggest giving the corn dolly to the waterway instead of the fire, however, there is nothing stopping you from making two and offering one to each. Just remember that anything you are offering to the waterway needs to be completely natural and biodegradable, you don’t want to pollute your local creek or river (or add to the pollution).