Yule 2017

Yule 2017

By Dean

On Sunday the 18th of June, the Druids of Silver Birch Grove ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship) hosted a public and inclusive Winter Solstice ritual in collaboration with the PCV. I thought it might be a good idea to write a little bit about the ritual for posterity…and this blog. After all, I just so happened to be the one who led that ritual.

Druidry tends to draw together those with a more Celtic inclination and emphasis on nature. ADF encourages it’s members to explore one or more of the related Indo-European hearth cultures. As a practitioner of both Ásatrú and ADF Druidry it was only natural that I would write a ritual for Yule bringing together Norse traditions in the context of an ADF ritual. Yule is a favorite High Day for me and is one of the most jolly and sacred times of year: the Norse New Year.

The weather was cool but a clear day. We were fortunate to have 20 attendees, from a diversity of paths, backgrounds and walks of life. We formed a procession into the circle of stones, surrounded by the sacred grove, with the rhythm of Geoff and Mel’s drums. We gathered around the cairn of stones, with a guided meditation as the creek flowed over the rocks nearby. We followed the ADF core order of ritual, hidden in plain sight within a pocket of urban bushland. Heimdall warded the ways as the gate keeper, Bragi was implored for inspiration. By a good fire, a silvered well and a sacred tree we welcomed, honoured and gave gifts to Jord (the earth mother), the ancestors, the land wights and the Gods. Our deity of the occasion was Skadi, fierce goddess of winter, the mountains, the wild, archery and skiing. I told an ancient myth of her time with Njord by the sea. I had carefully crafted an arrow from fragrant mountain cedar wood and knapped an arrowhead from some bluestone I found on a trail in the Hills. I carried the arrow around the circle and past the altar as the drums intensified and cast it into the fire as a sacrifice. Others than made their own offerings, including Mark’s carefully made Yule goat. Sad to see such pieces invested with such time and care turn to flame and smoke, but that was part of the point after all.

Our ash tree Yule log burned on the fire. The altar decked in Yule decorations of pine, holly, white winter flowers and the last of autumnal oak leaves, held a statue of Skadi, the grove treasurers and the sun chariot. I gathered my runes to take the omen. Just as I started to turn toward the altar 3 ravens swooped through the middle of the grove and our ritual participants! Surely a sign that our ritual and offerings were well received?

The runes answered with Inguz, Fehu and Teiwaz. A sign that we had been building things up in the last year, that we had been generous with what we shared or gave back and that with sacrifices , we would be successful in the times ahead. A good Yule omen after having gifted some offerings, indeed.

I then led a sumbel rite where guests were invited to make any of the following: a toast in thanks or to ask the Gods, land wights or ancestors, a boast or an oath over the mead horn. Yule is an especially auspicious time for this. There were many fine toasts, boasts and a couple of renewed oaths. Not to mention, a lot of spiced mead!

The spirits were thanked and merrily the ritual drew to a close. The drums sounded once more as the procession left the circle. Afterwards there was a festive picnic feast as people enjoyed and afternoon of conversation and laughter.

At the time I was busy. My concern was for everyone else, the ritual and sacred space. Later I took it all in and reflected on the spiritual experience of it all. I was glad to hear everyone had felt welcome and enjoyed their time experiencing the sacred through the practices of two traditions. It is a humbling but beautiful experience to share your spiritual traditions and sacred practices for others from our Victorian Pagan community.

Throughout and About: The PCV in June 2017

Throughout and About: The PCV in June 2017

Happy Solstice from the PCV! June featured a beautiful Solstice Ritual alongside the usual meetups and mayhem.

PCV Yule Ritual

By Dean

On Sunday the 18th of June, the Druids of Silver Birch Grove ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship) hosted a public and inclusive Winter Solstice ritual in collaboration with the PCV. I thought it might be a good idea to write a little bit about the ritual for posterity…and this blog. After all, I just so happened to be the one who led that ritual.

Druidry tends to draw together those with a more Celtic inclination and emphasis on nature. ADF encourages it’s members to explore one or more of the related Indo-European hearth cultures. As a practioner of both Ásatrú and ADF Druidry it was only natural that I would write a ritual for Yule bringing together Norse traditions in the context of an ADF ritual. Yule is a favorite High Day for me and is one of the most jolly and sacred times of year: the Norse New Year.

The weather was cool but a clear day. We were fortunate to have 20 attendees, from a diversity of paths, backgrounds and walks of life. We formed a procession into the circle of stones, surrounded by the sacred grove, with the rhythm of Geoff and Mel’s drums. We gathered around the cairn of stones, with a guided meditation as the creek flowed over the rocks nearby. We followed the ADF core order of ritual, hidden in plain sight within a pocket of urban bushland. Heimdall warded the ways as the gate keeper, Bragi was implored for inspiration. By a good fire, a silvered well and a sacred tree we welcomed, honoured and gave gifts to Jord (the earth mother), the ancestors, the land wights and the Gods. Our deity of the occasion was Skadi, fierce goddess of winter, the mountains, the wild, archery and skiing. I told an ancient myth of her time with Njord by the sea. I had carefully crafted an arrow from fragrant mountain cedar wood and knapped an arrowhead from some bluestone I found on a trail in the Hills. I carried the arrow around the circle and past the altar as the drums intenaified and cast it into the fire as a sacrifice. Others than made their own offerings, inclueding Mark’s carefully made Yule goat. Sad to see such pieces invested with such time and care turn to flame and smoke, but that was part of the point after all.

The spirits were thanked and merrily the ritual drew to a close. The drums sounded once more as the procession left the circle. Afterwards there was a festive picnic feast as people enjoyed and afternoon of conversation and laughter.

Dean has written more about this rite in this week’s feature article.

Monthly Hills Coffee Meetups

By Sarah

The July Hillsmeet was quieter than June’s with only 19 people showing up for the shenanigans, and frankly, we are so happy and proud to be able to say that “only 19 people” came to our monthly gathering (and all of them are lovely, too – what are the odds?) because that’s a lot of pagans, and we’ve been talking about having to open our own cafe, because we end up building a shanty-town of tables in Earthly Pleasures and the staff are so nice about it but honestly we make their cafe look like the aftermath of The Tetris Wars. It’s great that we’re still growing, and that the EP staff have said they actually look forward to seeing us each month, despite the havoc we wreak upon their lovely venue, because we may be the weirdos mister, but it turns out that the weirdos are awfully nice.

This month, we had the added bonus of a gifted tarot reader who kindly offered free readings for those interested and shared some very useful advice with a young student (and some of us not-so-young folk who also have a lot to learn), the usual exchange of gifts, because witches like sharing books, plants, nice jars, stuff we’ve made, and interesting things we found at the op-shop (note: prospective newbies, this isn’t mandatory, it’s just a nice organic thing that’s sprung up as part of the group, and it’s just become inevitable that *someone* will show up with a bag and hand it to someone else with a “oh, I saw this and thought of you”, or “here’s some of that lemon balm I promised you last month”).

It’s always rather nice watching the conversations eddy and flow around the table; there are usually two or three going on at any given time, with vastly different topics that seem to be able to be brought together when someone up one end of the shanty-table arrangement catches a snippet of something down the other end, and you get the whole group being drawn into a conflation of Druidic medicinal plants and protection charms, and weird housemate stories, the history of wooden wheel construction, and that time someone left jam out for a ghost (you all know who you are).

We also saw two of our regulars level up in the writing department, with one now published by The Wild Hunt blog as their Australian correspondent, and another published in the ADF’s international journal, Oak Leaves. Congratulations Josie and Dean! Richly-deserved recognition for your work and your expertise. We are really lucky to have such a diverse and talented group.

Once again I forgot to take photos (I did it last month; you can’t expect me to be organised two months in a row, surely); fortunately Dean took some lovely shots of a magpie who wanted to come and hang out with the cake-eating pagans.

The next gathering is on Sunday, August 6th, from 12pm. Come along. There will be cake.

 

 

What’s Next for the PCV?

Dates for your diary…


Saturday, 15th July: Central Victorian Pagans and Heathens Social Meetup
Sunday, 16th July: CBD Pagan Pub Moot
Sunday, 30th July: Bi-Monthly Frankston/Cranbourne Pagan Meet
Saturday, 5th August: PCV Public Imbolc Ritual hosted by the Melbourne Reclaiming Community
Sunday, 20th August: PCV Annual General Meeting
Sunday, 20th August: CBD Pagan Pub Moot

 

Featured photo by Ang.

Annual General Meeting 2017

2017 AGM Header

Annual General Meeting 2017

The AGM for the Pagan Collective of Victoria will be taking place on the 20th of August 2017, 12pm at the Last Jar in Melbourne. This will be followed by a general committee meeting and the CBD Pagan Pub Moot.

Nominations are now open for President, Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President and Community Liaison Officer – a new position for 2017. We are also seeking nominations for general committee members. To nominate yourself or someone else for any of these roles, please email your nomination to: pagancollectivevic@gmail.com

Before you send it, make sure your nominee is aware that they are being nominated, and that they agree to it! 🙂 Nominees should also make themselves familiar with the Model Rules of Association, and the PCV Committee Roles, both available on our website.

NOMINATIONS CLOSE AT MIDNIGHT ON SUNDAY, AUGUST 13th 2017.

All PCV members are eligible to nominate and be nominated. Nominees must attend the AGM in person.

Click here to view the 2017-2018 Committee Roles and Responsibilities.

Click here to see the Facebook event for this meeting.

PCV Committee Reads: June 2017

PCV Committee Reads: June 2017

Take a peek and what your intrepid PCV committee have been nerding out on this month.

AnimismAnimism: Respecting the Living World by Graham Harvey
An interesting work that examines what animism is and how it plays a part in the lives of people and how they interact with the world around them.
Harvey explores the different definitions of animism, both positive and negative to help establish a brief history of the word and its usage before he delves into the pagan and new age views of animism.
He also spends quite a bit of time explaining why it is important to use the word animism instead of seeking a new title for it. In a nutshell to reclaim what he outlines as a mostly negative connotation associated with the word.
He does explore animism in several indigenous cultures around the world as well as those in the pagan paths, it makes for some interesting reading and at 212 pages is an accessible length exploration.
Mark

Circlework ShanCirclework by Shan/House of the Goddess
I was lucky enough to find this in a secondhand bookshop recently. It’s one of the older books on pagan practice, published in 1987 by House of the Goddess in the UK, and it’s a lovely zine-style book, typed (rather than typeset), with the page numbers and chapter-headings hand-written, and lovely hand-drawn illustrations throughout. I’ll confess right now to an absolute weakness for publications like this, so I snaffled it up with barely a flip-through because it felt nice to hold.
It turns out this was a good decision, because it’s a beautiful book, written in a warm, informal, encouraging voice, with gentle, practical humour and a twinkle in the eye, as well as sound and meaningful ritual advice. It’s a beginners’ book, so don’t expect to go summoning the Elder Gods afterwards (because, you know, that’s what *all* the Advanced Paganism For Fancy Witches books teach you, right?); it’s more like a lovely one-on-one chat with a knowledgeable, wise, and understanding High Priestess. Honestly, I think every pagan’s library needs a few books like this and it’s a shame this one is kind of hard to find. If you can get your hands on a copy of this, do. It’s a valuable piece of Craft history, and it contains things like these “other examples of Pagan Law”:

Circlework Shan 2

– Sarah

Medusa Steven WilkMedusa: Solving the Mystery of the Gorgon by Stephen R Wilk
This book is written in an accessible, conversational style, and like many conversations the author frequently goes off on odd tangents. These tangents are fortunately interesting and likewise entertaining, but they are substantially numerous.
Although the evolutionary path of myths is explored, it’s still a fairly dry, academic text which doesn’t delve far into speculation about meaning or cultural significance.
Well researched and mindful of the notorious fallibility of some ancient sources, it’s a thorough exploration of an enduring myth which continues to abound in popular culture today.
Dorian

 

 


Secret Places of the Goddess Phillip HesseltonSecret Places of the Goddess: Contacting the Earth Spirit by Philip Heselton
This is a lovely meditation on finding sacred and magical spaces in nature. Heselton, author of the recent, excellent biography of Doreen Valiente, walks us through some of the sacred spaces of his homeland, whilst exploring the history and nature of sacredness in the landscape, how to engage with sacred space, how to take from them and how to give back to them. He explores woods, glades and groves, streams, springs and the sea, hills, boundaries, liminal spaces. He devotes chapters to the different times of day, the wheel of the year, how we experience nature through our senses, how to cast a circle outside, how to tend and care for sacred spaces.
The text is peppered throughout with well-chosen and evocative quotations from other authors, both pagan and literary; far from being simply a “how-to” book, this is a love-song to Nature and to the connection to the divine that we find when we open ourselves to Her. It is both personal and instructive, and while it is UK-centric, Heselton’s approaches and philosophies are all applicable to interactions with our local landscapes. This is a book I will keep coming back to; it’s rich and profound and a pleasure to read.
Sarah

Small Gods PratchettSmall Gods by Terry Pratchett
I was really underwhelmed by the recent TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s classic, American Gods, so last month I decided to revisit the novel itself, along with several others of a similar ilk.
Small Gods is one of the lesser known, lesser appreciated standalone Discworld novels. It tells the story of the acolyte Brutha and his adventures with the great god Om, whose power has dwindled so much due to lack of belief that he has been reduced to the form of a cantankerous one-eyed tortoise.
At surface level, this novel is an excellent parody of mainstream religions. Going deeper, I love the discussion of the nature of belief, religion and the gods themselves that Small Gods, along with Gaiman’s American Gods and the Pratchett/Gaiman masterpiece Good Omens, welcomes. That it’s done in Pratchett’s usual quick-fire, cerebral style is an added bonus.
– Josie

 

Feature Article: The June Solstice Down Under

The June Solstice Down Under

By Dean

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.

 

 

Book Review: Daughter of The Sun edited by Tina Georgitsis

Review: Daughter of the Sun – A Devotional Anthology in Honor of Sekhmet
edited by Tina Georgitsis

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.

 

Throughout and About: The PCV in May 2017

Throughout and About: The PCV in May 2017

The last month of Autumn was full of shortening but sunny days and chilly nights

CBD Pagan Pub Moots

By Dorian

Safely nestled inside The Last Jar, protected from stormy Melbourne weather outside, the May CBD moot was a huge success with several new faces and many regulars in attendance.

Next moot: 18th June 2017

Monthly Hills Coffee Meetups

By Sarah

So we broke a personal record at the last meet – 27 people came along, we ended up co-opting three more tables in addition to our regular long table, there was a lot of fun had, and more good conversation than I could keep up with. Effusive thanks to everyone who helped make the day so utterly marvellous – we’re already excited for the next one! Come along!

 

Next moot: 2nd July 2017

 

Bi-Monthly Frankston-Cranbourne Coffee Meets

By Dorian

Safe and warm inside the Coffee Club sheltered from the stormy weather, the Frankston/Cranbourne meet enjoyed its biggest turn out yet.

Dorian Frankston meet Jun1720170528_155340
Next moot: 30th July 2017

 

What’s Next for the PCV?

Dates for your diary…

Sunday, 18th June: PCV Public Yule Ritual hosted by Silver Birch Grove ADF
Sunday, 18th June: CBD Pagan Pub Moot
Sunday, 2nd July: Monthly Hills Pagan Coffee Meet
Saturday, 15th July: Central Victorian Pagans and Heathens Social Meetup
Sunday, 16th July: CBD Pagan Pub Moot
Sunday, 30th July: Bi-Monthly Frankston/Cranbourne Pagan Meet
Saturday, 5th August: PCV Public Imbolc Ritual hosted by the Melbourne Reclaiming Community
Sunday, 20th August: PCV Annual General Meeting
Sunday, 20th August: CBD Pagan Pub Moot

 

Featured photo by Kylie Moroney.

PCV Committee Reads: May 2017

PCV Committee Reads: Clunes Booktown Special

This month we thought we’d share some of our finds from the 2017 Clunes Booktown Festival and elsewhere. There will probably be more detailed reviews of some of these in coming editions of Committee Reads, but for now take a peek at the most recent editions to our reading piles…

AnimismAnimism: Respecting the Living World by Graham HarveyThis book came highly recommended by members of the community, so I caved and purchased a copy.
– Mark

 

 

Asimov science

Asimov’s New Guide to Science by Isaac Asimov – Asimov is a freaking genius and this was $2.
– Mark

 

 

 

Fight Like a GirlFight Like a Girl by Clementine FordGot this signed by Clementine Ford, reason enough.
– Mark

 

 

 

Pagan Consent CulturePagan Consent Culture: Building Communities of Empathy and Autonomy, edited by Christine Hoff Kraemer and Yvonne Aburrow – This is a recent release, and in the light of the recent discussions on community safety and consent in occult and pagan practice, it seems like a very interesting read, exploring different traditions’ philosophies of consent, as well as sexual initiation, community responses to abuse, education of children, mental health issues, and much more. It clocks in at over 500 pages and was very reasonably priced for all that. I’ve enjoyed co-editor Aburrow’s previous books, so this seemed like a must-read.
Here’s an excerpt from the introduction, to give you an overview of the contents:
“We have divided this anthology into three parts. In ‘Developing Pagan Philosophies of Consent’, the reader will find both tradition-specific and personal approaches to consent-based ethics. These essays show how Pagan lore and liturgy shape our writers’ understandings of consent, as well as how their ideals translate into real-world practice. Writers also tackle complex issues such as consent in a power differential, the ethics of sexual initiation, negotiating rape culture in traditional myths, and understanding sexual relationships with the gods.
Section Two, ‘Responding to Abuse and Assault’, focuses on the narratives and needs of survivors. In addition to personal narratives of abuse and healing, writers examine the kinds of situations that can hide abuse, as well as the circumstances under which whistleblowers may be disbelieved or ignored. These essays outline policies to help prevent sexual abuse and assault and to effectively respond to it when it occurs, as well as considering how abuse survivors might be better accommodated in community.
Finally, in ‘Building Communities of Autonomy and Empathy’, our writers provide resources for teaching and practicing consent culture. These essays include reflections on consent culture parenting, curricula and exercises for children and adults, practices for sacralising pleasurable touch in both groups and on an everyday basis, ethical approaches to teaching sacred sexuality and sex magick, and more.”
– Sarah

 

Pagan Ritual Willow PolsonPagan Rituals: Scripts and Inspiration for All Occasions by Willow Polson – In recent times it seems I’ve become a collector naff books of ritual. I am oddly okay with this.
– Josie

 

 

Seed CollectionSeed Collection of Australian Native Plants by Murray Ralph – This was essential.
Mark

 

 

 

The Art of Urban SketchingThe Art of Urban Sketching by Gabriel Campanario – I’ve always been a fan of this style of sketching and wanted to understand the principals better so this was an easy choice.
– Mark

 

 

 

The Kabbalah TreeThe Kabbalah Tree by Rachel Pollack – An introduction to the Tree of Life and the Sephiroth, by the author of ‘Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom’, and featuring art by Hermann Haindl. I’m not a serious student of Kabbalistic philosophy, but it is fascinating and profound, and this seems to be a decent exploration for someone with no background in the culture or philosophy.
– Sarah

 

Walking a Sacred PathWalking a Sacred Path by Dr Lauren Artress – This was a second-hand cheapie, and I’m wondering if it’s going to be a bit naff, but it has decent reviews from respectable publications, and I thought it might be worth a go, because labyrinths are interesting, ey.
– Sarah

 

 

Wizard of EarthseaA Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin – This was another $1 Booktown bargain find. I bought it for my friend Kylie, who has been wanting to read the series for a while. I just love the eighties cover art.
– Josie

 

 

 

BottersnikesBottersnikes and Gumbles by S A Wakefield – Although I’ve been a fan for a long time, this edition has illustrations in it that my other edition did not.
-Mark

 

 

PalimpsetDeathlessPalimpsest and Deathless by Catherynne Valente – I bowed to peer pressure after a brilliant blog post by a friend, the constant rave reviews by people whose tastes I trust, and a song by SJ Tucker that made me cry. I’m almost scared to actually read them in case I can’t leave the house for days and can’t work because I’m lost in Valente’s worlds, but hey, I can always get another job, right?
– Sarah

 

Saltwater VampiresSaltwater Vampires by Kirsty Eagar – I normally couldn’t give a toss about vampire fiction, being of the firmly-held belief that it reached its peak with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But with tales of vampires born from the wreck of the Batavia crashing a modern-day Australian music festival, I found it hard to turn this one down.
– Josie

 

Bards of Bone PlainThe Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia A McKillip – This one was a gift from a friend this month. So far it’s strong, rich fantasy full of archeology and lyrical descriptions. Just my bag.
– Josie

 

 

The Buried GiantThe Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro – The author of the marvellous ‘Remains of the Day’ has set a novel in just-post-Arthurian Britain, featuring at least one knight of the Round Table. What’s not to love?
Sarah

 

 

JR Ward the ChosenThe Chosen by J R Ward – I bought this because I’m obsessed with the Black Dagger Brotherhood and this is the latest book in the series. BDB are one of my guilty pleasures. 😉
– Nickole

 

 

Dark is Rising CooperThe Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper – I picked this up for $1 at Booktown. It was a great bargain and an edition/cover I hadn’t seen before.
– Josie

 

 

 

Throughout and About: The PCV in April 2017

The PCV in April 2017

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

By Alex

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

By Dorian

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

By Sarah

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

By Josie

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!

 

 

Feature Article: Arrested for Witchcraft – Australia in 1990

Arrested for Witchcraft

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