Hosted by Wyrd Workings – Gede Parma
The Star in the Stone: Exploring Folkloric-Traditional Witchery is a journey into understanding and intimating cosmologies, ecology, technique, and lore arising out the treasure trove of Old Craft as related to oracular, ecstatic, spell-casting, trance-taking, two-handed, heretical, spirit-fucking animistic traditions.
This 5-hour workshop will engage theory and practice.
Experience with entering ritual and trance states, understanding grounding, centering, boundaries, warding, and awareness of personal spirits is necessary.
A sliding scale of $40-70. Two spaces will be held for Queer, Trans*, People of Colour, Single Parents, or any other person who by some other circumstance requires it.
Book Review: The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson
Reviewed by Sarah Morgan
“You cannot walk here and feel you are alone. Those who are born here are branded by Pendle. They share a common mark. There is still a tradition, or a superstition, that a girl-child born in Pendle Forest should be twice baptised; once in church and once in a black pool at the foot of the hill. The hill will know her then. She will be its trophy and its sacrifice. She must make her peace with her birthright, whatever that means.”
So begins Jeanette Winterson’s novella about the Lancashire Witch Trials of 1612.
Winterson, whose interest in the occult and Elizabethan magic has been a recurring theme throughout her career, wrote this story for the 400th anniversary of the trials, and blends well-researched history with local legend and her trademark poetical magic realism to weave a tale that includes not only the Pendle Witches and their accusers, but also John Dee, Edward Kelley and William Shakespeare. She explores the religious and sexual politics of the age, as well as the personal disputes that background the trials, and weaves those seamlessly with the high magic and folk magic of Elizabethan England; the pursuit of immortality and the perfected soul through the scientific magic of Alchemy, and the use of wortlore and cunning-magic to solve practical rural problems, through healing or harming. Winterson has done her research well, and captures the essence of these, finding a place where they meet without contradiction; the witch-trials become the Daylight Gate of the title – a liminal space between worlds, linking not only High and Low magic, but also a population caught between two Christianities, between the twin blasphemies of “witchery and popery”, between piety and superstition, love and fear, salvation and redemption, between fear of the Devil and old folk traditions, the restrictions of wealth and of poverty.
At this crossroads, history is written.
And she tells a compelling story in the process; Winterson brings 17thC Lancashire to life in all five senses, delighting in language without holding up the tale, and sacrificing neither magic nor realism in the telling. This is a brutally-real world in which magic exists. Teeth rain from the sky, a severed head talks. A background in the history of the Pendle Witches isn’t required, but those who have one can appreciate the historical accuracy and poetic license – and readers with an interest in Alchemy or pre-Gardnerian English witchcraft will find a lot to recognise as well. At 194 pages it’s a short read and a pleasurable one, and a fine introduction to Winterson’s work for a Pagan audience.
This piece first appeared in Volume 3, Issue 5 (Imbolc 2016) of our old newsletter, Spokes of the Wheel.
By Josie, Sarah, Dorian and Ryan
We said at the beginning of the year that this March would be Mad March, and we weren’t wrong: Community Safety Month, Pagan Pride Day, the Spiral Dance Concert, Guest Speakers and more on top of our usual meetups made for a very busy month with the very best company.
Community Safety Month
March has become Community Safety Month for the PCV. Creating and maintaining safe and inclusive spaces to gather and worship was the key topic of all our meetups in March, and some excellent and insightful conversations sprang from this. The product of these conversations was our newly-formed Values, which have been added to our Mission Statement page after being collated by our most eloquent committee member, Sarah:
The PCV holds regular gatherings by area all over the state. These meets, moots, and gatherings are hosted by various members of the PCV but all are united in upholding the following standards:
- We acknowledge and pay our respects to the traditional caretakers of the land we meet on. The gatherings we enjoy so much are held on land they lived on for thousands of years before white settlement. We pay our respects to their elders – past, present and emerging – and acknowledge the important role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to play within the community.
- We stand with the LGBTQI+ community; PCV meets are queer and trans-friendly spaces. We are intersectional, inclusive, and we will use whichever pronouns you prefer. Our community is diverse, supportive, and nurturing, and we love it that way.
- We welcome people of all paths and levels of experience, people of all genders and sexualities, of all races, skin colours, cultural identities, and of all abilities.
- Accessibility information will be provided for all venues. If you have any questions about venue accessibility or will need assistance, please contact the meet host. *PCV meets do not tolerate sexual, racial, religious, cultural, abled, or gendered discrimination, bigotry, harassment, bullying, or non-consensual sexual behaviour. We reserve the right to ask attendees to leave if they do not behave in a manner conducive to the wellbeing of the group or in contravention of any of the above standards.
- We are committed to creating safe, welcoming spaces where pagans of all paths can meet and enjoy their community. If you have an issue at the meets, our hosts will listen to you and take your feedback seriously.
Other happenings during Community Safety Month include more undersigned joining our Statement to the Public about notorious paedophile Robin Fletcher (which as of April 2017 has more than eighty undersigned Pagan groups and individuals), and the snap community information meeting we held when he was released.
Pagan Pride Day
On Saturday, the 18th of March the Victorian Pagan community came together to celebrate our first annual Pagan Pride Day and Equinox ritual. The day was a huge success, with Pagans of all walks of life attending, and most of the state’s active traditions represented.
You can read more about Pagan Pride Day in Alex’s article.
Spiral Dance and KC Guy Concert
On the night of Pagan Pride Day, we were treated to an amazing, uplifting and highly danceable concert by Spiral Dance and KC Guy. This was a perfect way to round off an excellent day of Pagan goodness, and really brought everyone together.
More details and photos in Josie’s article.
The Frankston/Cranbourne pagan meet convened at Groove Train once more, enjoying the gorgeous Autumn sun out on the promenade.
Looking forward to the next meet at the end of May.
Monthly Hills Coffee Meets
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.
You can read more about the Hills Meets in this month’s feature article. For upcoming event details, see the Monthly Hills Pagan Coffee Meets Facebook page.
CBD Pagan Pub Moots
The March CBD Pagan Pub moot was joined by a special guest, Dr David Waldron, who was kind enough to be our first guest speaker. Dr Waldron captivated the room with his fascinating talk on Witches’ marks, concealed objects and magical folk practices in colonial Australia.
Dr David Waldron is a lecturer in History and Anthropology at Federation University Australia based in CRCAH (Collaborative Research Centre in Australian History) with a research focus on folklore and community identity. He is the author of “Sign of the Witch: Modernity and the Pagan Revival” (Carolina Academic Press 2008), “Shock! The Black Dog of Bungay – a Case Study in Local Folklore” (Hidden Press 2010) and “Snarls from the Tea-Tree: Victoria’s Big Cat Folklore” (Australian Scholarly Publishing 2013) and editor/contributor of “Goldfields and the Gothic: a Hidden Heritage and Folklore” (Australian Scholarly Publishing 2016).
Oak, Smash and Thorn Pagan Morris
Our little Morris side keeps chugging along, even with one less dancer due to Alex’s knee injury. Get well soon, Alex! This month we were treated to a Morris workshop with our friends Adrienne and Paul, of Spiral Dance and Hot for Joe Border Morris fame. This cracker of a workshop and Paul and Adrienne’s invaluable advice helped us polish our very first dance and get that little bit closer to being able to perform!
If this wasn’t memorable enough, the Edinburgh Gardens were the site of the Australian Naked Bike Ride that day, with around four hundred naked cyclists crashing our rehearsal. Our interstate guests took it all in their stride and promised they’d be back soon.
A million thankyous, beers and sweaty Morris hugs to Adrienne and Paul. 🙂
PCV Diary Dates:
- Saturday, 8th April: PCV Committee Meeting (Ballarat)
- Saturday, 8th April: Central Victorian Pagans and Heathens in the Cafe (Ballarat)
- Sunday, 9th April: CBD Pagan Pub Moot (Melbourne)
- Sunday, 30th April: PCV Public Samhain Ritual (location TBC)