Feature Article: The Wildwood Tradition

Wildwood Tradition

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.

– Luca

 

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.