Australian Bushfires: A Public Statement from the Pagan Collective of Victoria

This has taken us a while to write; how do you wrap words around what is happening around Australia at the moment? The land we love, that we are connected to, is burning. Thousands of people have lost their homes, some in our community. At last estimate over one and a quarter billion animals have died, many thousands more are injured, and the survivors face homelessness and starvation in a blackened land.

For so many of us as Pagans, our connection to nature is a huge part of our life and our practice. So many of us have lost sacred spaces as well as homes and livelihoods. The grief for the land is ever present now, and it will be with us for a long time.

Our hearts go out to those affected; both within the Pagan community and without, for we are a country united by the horror of this now. Our hearts go out to the First Nations people who have lost so much, and whose connection to Country runs many thousands of years deep, for whom this land is home to culture, history, spirits and family and language. Especially now, we acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands that have burned and are burning. They managed this land using fire guided by ancestral knowledge for millennia, and now watch it in agony.

Our hearts go out to the animals and birds, reptiles, insects, plants, fish, fungi, and all of the non-human creatures who share the varied and beautiful environments of this country, who have died or been injured, or who survive to face new challenges in a land without food, shelter, or water.

Our hearts go out to the spirits of the land.

It is easy to feel helpless in the face of a catastrophe so enormous. Perhaps we all do, to some extent. The numbers we hear are almost hard to comprehend; millions of hectares destroyed, hundreds of homes burned, over a billion animals dead. It’s a tidal wave of information, and it is overwhelming, especially when you feel the loss so deeply.

So what can we do? Below is a list of reputable charities to which we can donate. Even a dollar here and there, the price of a cup of coffee, a little small change, adds up. It all helps. There are some well-known charities we have left off this list because of their attitudes to the LGBTQ+ community, with whom the PCV always stands in support. Try to give to the organisations that view us all as equally human and equally worthy of help.

While the PCV does not usually get involved in secular politics, believing as we do in the separation of church and state, we now urge you to step up for the sake of the land. Lobby for better environmental policies, lobby to cease native animal culls in the aftermath of the fires, be the voice of the land, for all of those who cannot speak, but whose presence we have been enriched by, and whose country we share. Be a strong voice, a loving and compassionate voice, an angry voice if you must. Speak up for the land. Give help as you are able.

And at this time, when it is easy to feel shattered, overwhelmed, grieving and helpless, remember your community is here. You’re not alone, and the company of fellow Pagans is a good place to share your feelings about what’s going on, to work out how to help, to find support and care; practical and emotional and spiritual. Get in touch, come to a meet, come to a ritual, and connect. There is beauty and comfort to be found among like minds.

We hope, and pray for an end to the fires, for rain where it is needed, and for regrowth and rebirth from all these ashes. We stand with those who have lost what is precious, and those who are grieving, and those who are fighting to save what is left. There is not enough gratitude and admiration in the world for our incredible firefighters (professional and volunteer, and those who have come from overseas to help), and the first responders, animal rescuers, and all involved in saving lives and keeping survivors safe.

From all of us at the Pagan Collective of Victoria, may you and your loved ones stay safe, may we all work to heal the land and those who live on it. Blessed be.

FIRE RELIEF FOR FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE:
https://www.gofundme.com/f/fire-relief-fund-for-first-nations-communities?utm_source=customer&fbclid=IwAR0E7XbANwEvPFHLLIXz4fsfKiNKZ9vHpoPFA5jLnQH6Bm3Mq_MCnCsk-Zs

https://www.facebook.com/SthCoastFIR/?hc_location=ufi

WILDLIFE RESCUE:

Animals Australia is helping distribute funding to rescue organisations around Australia as needed and funding vets to travel to fire affected areas.
https://secure.animalsaustralia.org/donate/bushfire.php?vmd=1&fbclid=IwAR20rH3IkHdLzqVwpDJyIUeSJXvPVhQlwHwM_dvDgmdCgSKpyY7S9KX38Vg

The Rescue Collective is a group of rescue organisations, banding together to work wonders with bushfire survivors in Qld and NSW. They’ve done incredible work so far!
https://mkc.org.au/donations/trcqld

Wildlife Victoria is helping animal victims of the Victorian bushfires.
https://www.wildlifevictoria.org.au/donate/donate-to-wildlife-victoria

WIRES is helping animal victims of the NSW bushfires.
https://www.wires.org.au/donate/emergency-fund

SAVEM is a group of SA vets working to save the animal populations of devastated Kangaroo Island. They do not have external funding and are relying on donations to help save these threatened populations.
https://www.savem.org.au/about-savem/donate/

BUSHFIRE RELIEF:

To help people affected by the fires across Australia:
https://www.redcross.org.au/campaigns/disaster-relief-and-recovery-donate?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialorganic&utm_campaign=201913_drr_disaster-relief-and-recovery_don_transient_bushfires_none&fbclid=IwAR1PaLO9z8UKT_GrZlKdTDkvetHepZiquRuW6lyBKALvTKPq49StmGKawJw

GIVIT facilitates the donations of items to people who need them, for those who wish to donate goods instead of cash:
http://www.givit.org.au/disasters

VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS:
CFA Victoria:
https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/supporting-cfa#donate-cfa

RFS NSW:
https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/volun…/support-your-local-brigade

Pagan Pyjama Party Episode 1.04: Another Whinging Victorian

S01e04 coverEpisode 4: Another Whinging Victorian (December 2018)

What makes a good teacher? What should a student possess and be able to do before they are ready to learn? This month, we share Josie’s workshop on Pagan teaching and leadership, recorded at the Australian Wiccan Conference earlier this year.

Music this episode is by South Australian musician KC Guy.

(Click on the episode cover image to listen.)


 

Psst! Support the Pagan Collective of Victoria on Patreon and get early access to episodes along with bonus Pagan Pyjama Party content…

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Feature Article: Wildcrafting Incense

Wildcrafting Incense

So many of us use incense in our homes and in ritual. There is something wonderful about watching a piece of resin bubbling away on a piece of charcoal and the room slowly filling with fragrant smoke.

The majority of our resins, gums and woods that we use in our incense blends are sourced from all over world. If you work with the local land or simply want to save some money you with want to try your hand at Wildcrafting.

Wildcrafting is the practice of getting out into your local forest, bush land, parks and gardens or even your own backyard and foraging for plants and herbs that have a practical use. With the goal of incense in mind you will be after plant resins.
Resins are produced by trees to help cover their wounds. Some of these resins release fragrant smoke when heated.

Tips for collecting Resin:

  1. We never want to harm a tree with our collecting so look for mature trees where the resin has become firm if it is still sticky and wet you want to avoid collecting the resin.
  2. Resin come in various colours, from white to amber to dark reds and browns. Look carefully over the tree. Older resin is often very difficult to spot.
  3. A small knife (we use a butter knife) is a really simple tool for loosening the resin off the trunk.
    There are so many trees that produce fragrant resins in Australia – you really are spoiled for choice! European trees in Australia are a good starting place: Pine and Cypress are especially fragrant. You could also spend years collecting resins from the large range of abundant Eucalypts.

Wildcrafing incense is fun and free, and it’s a great activity you can do with a few friends. Get out there and start collecting!

Ryan McLeod

This article originally appeared in our old newsletter, Spokes of the Wheel (volume 3 issue 2, Mabon 2016). Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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

 

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

Coffee and Community in the Hills

The PCV Monthly Hills Pagan Coffee Meets – Belgrave

By Sarah and Alex

The Hills Meets continue apace. March saw me finally make good on a threat I’ve been holding over everyone’s heads for a few months now: Sparkles, the Disco Owl.

A few people have mentioned, over the last couple of years, that our little mascot is subtle and hard to spot across a crowded room. Sparkles is neither of those things. Sparkles is nearly a foot high and covered liberally in white glitter, which he sheds over everything he touches, and came from a local $2 shop, and I’ve been promising to humiliate all of us by bringing him along to a meet for ages now. Sparkles is the Maxwell Demon of the owl world.

March was Sparkles’ Big Day Out; I mean, sure, we looked like a table full of loons congregating around an altar of Mystical Nature-Kitsch, but no-one had difficulty locating our table, and everyone took a little bit of Sparkles home with them, because glitter is a gift that keeps on giving whether people want it to or not.

Sparkles Sarah 2017

This is Sparkles, posing with our regular, barely-discernible mascot, and our patron saint, Caffeine. I’ll now hand over the reins to one of our more recent regulars, who has definitely become part of the family, and who kindly agreed to talk about his experience of the Hills Meets (thanks for making us sound good, Alex; the cheque’s in the mail).

— Sarah

The Hills Meets – A Newbie’s Tale

I have been attending the Monthly Hills Pagan Coffee Meets now for about eight months. They are a lovely event, and I have felt like I belong at the event since I first attended. It has been lovely to see the different types of people who come along, with a large amount becoming regulars and others just popping in every now and then to say hi and catch-up.

One of the many aspects that I love about the meet is that conversation flows freely and touches on many subjects, from Paganism to gardening to tarot reading to just general life. It’s always great to hear what people have to say, as everyone has something new and interesting happening in their lives. Often, someone will say something and it will make you think about something in a new light. I love attending these meets and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them. I really hope to see more new faces, even if it is only to pop in occasionally and see how everyone’s going.

— Alex

Our Hills Meets occur monthly in Belgrave, and have become one of our most popular events. To find out when the next one is, visit our Community Calendar or the PCV Monthly Hills Pagan Coffee Meets Facebook page.

The Pagan-est Day Ever!

Pagan Pride Day and Spiral Dance Concert

By Alex and Josie

On the 18th of March The PCV hosted our first Pagan Pride Day, in Edinburgh Gardens. It was an amazing day filled with amazing people and a great sense of community. The event started at 12pm. People started arriving and what was initially a small amount of people grew: we ended up with around 50 people attending.

At 2pm the talks about the various paths started. Our first speaker was Shaz. She spoke about ADF Druidry and Silver Birch Grove. Josephine talked about Alexandrian witchcraft, and we then had Dean who spoke about Asatru (Norse paganism), followed by KC guy who spoke about OBOD Druidry. Next, Fio Talked about the Reclaiming path, then Luca Talked about Wildwood, and Dorian Talked about Chaos magic.

After the talks on the different paths we moved on to our ritual for the autumn Equinox which was run by Josie and Ryan in a Alexandrian inspired style. The quarters were called by Fran (Air), Sarah (Fire), Alex (Water) and Mark (Earth). It was a beautiful ritual that included a meeting dance and lovely music.

After the ritual we moved on to our second session of talk which were about the different meetings and gatherings around Victoria we started off with Ryan talking about the CBD pub moots, then Sarah talking about the Monthly Hills Pagan Coffee Meets. Next was Mark who talked about the Central Vic meetups, and we then had Dean who talked about the Heathen meetups, which include a ritual. This was followed by Nickole talking about Earthsong Witchcamps. We then had Dorian who talked about the newly started Frankston/Cranbourne Meetups, and Shaz then talked about Druid Coffee. The Queer Pagan Men’s meetups where then talked about by Buck, Michel then talked about the  Mount Franklin Pagan Gathering, and finally we finished off with Seline talking about Into Me I See.

It was an absolutely amazing day filled with friendship and community spirit. As a fairly new member of the Pagan community I found it to be a great way to learn more about what is available in Victoria and also to meet more like minded people. I would also love to thank the amazing PCV for running the day especially Sarah for being MC and making sure everything ran smoothly. I would also love to thank all the speakers and those who ran the ritual and finally thankyou to everyone who attended as without you it wouldn’t have happened.

— Alex

“I just saw a Reclaiming witch, a Druid and an Anarchist eating grapes together. And they were LAUGHING.”
– overheard at the Pagan Pride Day picnic

After a busy and marvelously social day at Pagan Pride Day, we headed on down to Bar 303 in Northcote to see Spiral Dance and KC Guy live in concert, presented by the PCV.

This concert was the perfect way to finish off a day of the Pagan community coming together. KC Guy’s voice is truly enchanting, and just what we needed to chill out and lose ourselves. Spiral Dance has a decades-long track record of bringing Pagans together with their beautiful and very danceable music, and dance we did!

The hot, sticky night didn’t stop any of us from busting out our best daggy Pagan dance moves to tunes like The Quickening, Faerie Tale and our favourite, Black Annis.

By the end of the night our throats were raw, our clothes were heavy with sweat and every last one of us were wearing enormous watermelon-slice grins as we exploded out into the cool night air of High Street.

A million, squillion thankyous to KC Guy and Spiral Dance for travelling from South Australia to perform for us and provide the perfect ending to a perfect day. Thanks also to Bar 303 for having us, to everyone who helped out on the door, and to Mark Hayes for his beautiful photos of the night.

Josie

You can download a copy of the Pagan Pride Day Flyer here: PPD 2017

Photo Reuse Policy: You are welcome to use these photos for *personal use* on social media, etc, but please credit/tag the Mark Hayes Photography Facebook Page when you do.