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Pagan Pilgrimage, Basic Guidelines

The idea of making pilgrimages - effectively of travelling to a place perceived as sacred - has gained popularity among pagans. I often see people in various social media groups talking about making such journeys to places they believe have sacred qualities or associations or talking about trips they have made. The main questions I see people asking centre on how to do this in ways that are most respectful to the sacredness of the location, but often are rooted in a paradigm of interaction with these places that is humancentric and ultimately doesn't really respect the location. It can be hard to shift out of that mindset. 

I am speaking here as someone who has dealt with tourists and been a tourist, and who has seen firsthand the harm that humans do even when they are trying to engage in a sacred way with a place. Often this harm comes from short sightedness and failure to understand the full impact of their actions but sometimes its also from a very self-centred place. I've seen 5,000 year old historic sites treated like someone's own backyard, seen graffiti on standing stones, rubbish tied to rag trees and tossed into cairns, and painted 'So-and-So was Here' stones left at archaeological sites. None of this reflects best practices, and I believe that we, as a wider community, can do better. 

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Enchanted Table 

See this old banquet table
Made of sacred oak wood
From a small Mediterranean island
Where the people still worship Artemis.
Legend has it that Saint Joan once ate here,
Gathering strenght
Before she went to capture Rheims.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Night on Bald Mountain

I suppose you could call it the witches' Olympus.

A place both real and mythic, the Sabbat Mount stands at the center of Witch mythology, both modern and ancient. It is there that we gather for our broomstick jamborees, both legendary and—increasingly—actual.

The Sabbat Mount is a real, live place. While the best-known is probably the Brocken in Germany's Harz Mountains, it has many other incarnations as well. Where there are witches, there will also be Sabbat Mounts.

In France, the Puy de Dôme was well-known as a gathering-spot for witches; at its summit, in Gallo-Roman times, stood a temple to Mercury, interpretatio Romana of the witches' virile, naked god.

The famed Italian Monte Venere (“Mount Venus”) inspired Richard Wagner's opera Tannhauser; Mount Triglaf (“three-horn”) was the site of the wild Midsummer revels of the Ukrainian witches, subject of Modest Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain.

Swedish witches gathered (and, apparently, still gather) at the Blåkulla (“black [or blue] hill”), often identified with the coastal island of Blå Jungfrun, the famed “Blue Maiden.”

In the New World, the Sabbat Mount of Pennsylvania's Deitsch country, the wooded hill known as the Hexenkopf (“witch's head”), was the site of witch revels past and present.

Here in the American Midwest, the wooded island in the middle of the Mississippi, now known as Trempealeau (“Stands-in-the-Water”) likewise plays host to Grand Sabbats both legendary and actual.

The Sabbat Mount is not merely the site of the Grand Convocation of the witches; it also marks the place where, in ancient times, the Horned, god of witches, descended from Heaven to bring Fire to the children of Earth. On the Sabbat Mount, Heaven and Earth conjoin.

Here's the mystery: although there are many Sabbat Mounts, they are all the same Mountain.

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Inspiration Infusion: Spell in a Cup

Your morning pot of tea can be a daily ritual you use according to you needs. If, upon rising, you feel a bit blue, brew up some bergamot. As you sip the soothing libration, you will feel you spirits lift and you can greet the day, stronger and infused with this simple and true magic. Along with healing and energizing properties, herbal teas can aid the mind. Try the following blends:

 Bergamot dissipates negativity and uplifts.

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Lammas, the First Harvest, the Beginning of the End of Summer

Many people have been readying for Lammas this past week. My Instagram feed has been full of beautiful loaves of bread in all shapes and sizes, filled with herbs or sprinkled with oats and other grains. I’ve made my own loaves of bread in preparation and am planning for other elements of the holiday: an outdoor fire in our fire bowl, homemade kvas, some soup or stew to sop up with the homemade bread, a fresh salad, some outdoor games with the kids, maybe a walk in the woods.

I love this holiday that is essentially a celebration of bread. Bread is a sacred and ancient food, one so common and humble that we often take it for granted. But no one can deny the wholesome, enriching influence of homemade bread: the feeling of connecting with old ways as we get messy with flour and meditatively knead the dough; the rich, savory perfume emanating from the oven as it bakes; the softness of the inside and the hard crust of the loaves eaten plain, with cheese, or slathered with butter or jam. It is a gift to make bread -- to ourselves, our loved ones, and our homes. It’s no wonder that the Matres and Matronae, ancestral mother-goddesses worshipped by Celtic and Germanic tribes across northwestern Europe and whom I worship and honor, were depicted in iconography with grains or loaves of bread, along with fruits, babies, and dogs. Bread is a staple in many meals, a magical food born from grains carefully grown from the earth, at first green and then gold, milled and baked, wholesome and hearty.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I made corn pudding yesterday. I have enough left over rice to make rice pudding later in the week.
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    Yum! Enjoy!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
In Praise of 'Rosemary's Baby'

"Anything they say about us becomes ours, to do with as we please."

(C. F. Moore)


If (like me) you're one of those who has read pretty much everything that there is to read on the subject of witches, let me ask you: what do you think of J. R. Hanslet's 1933 All of Them Witches?

Isn't it a classic? Beautiful writing, good research, and—best of all—all that hot, hot information on what the Craft looked and felt like back BW (Before Wicca).

If you've got a copy (that beautifully-crafted J. Waghorn edition, with the real gold lettering and the black goatskin binding), hold onto it. It's never been reprinted, and (if you can find one), it will go for more than $1300.

Ha! Gotcha! If you think that you've read Hanslet's magnum opus, apparently you're one of those witches (gods know there are plenty of us out there) who can't admit that there's anything Craft-related that she doesn't know. Call it the Granny Weatherwax Syndrome.

In fact, you can't have read J. R. Hanslet's All of Them Witches because there is no such book. It's straight out of Ira Levin's brilliant 1967 witchsploitation novel Rosemary's Baby. Remember? It's the book that Hutch leaves to Rosemary that enables her to figure out that her neighbors (the ones who brought over the black candles during the big power outage) are actually witches and are planning to sacrifice her baby to Satan.

Or so she thinks.

“It's a religion,” she tells her husband (but it turns out he's a witch too). “It's an early religion that got—pushed into the corner” (177).

Personally, I think Rosemary's Baby is required reading for every modern witch: a little black gem of a novel, beautifully structured, with lots of twists and a delicious hermeneutic of suspicion. Don't trust anyone: they're all of them witches.

And, I mean. When, in the closing scene, Roman Castevet ( Steven Marcato) cries out: “He shall overthrow the mighty and lay waste their temples! He shall redeem the despised and wreak vengeance in the name of the burned and the tortured!” (236). Well, really, how can you help but chime in with a Hail Satan! or two, regardless of whether you actually believe in him or not?

Whenever I'm drawing up a bibliography on the Craft that lists enough books to make it inconspicuous, I almost always slip J. R. Hanslet's All of Them Witches in amongst the others. For those in the know, it'll read as a joke. For those that aren't, well...let 'em wonder. The god of witches—Old Wagtail Himself—is a notorious Trickster, and we, his children, are like him.

Because, best of all, Rosemary's Baby is a true story. That bit about the Horned siring children on mortal women: it's all true. In fact, my dear brother or sister in the Craft, he sired you.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Cover Art Reveal for New Asatru Book

I'm excited to reveal the cover art and title for my upcoming book! Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path is coming Spring 2020 from Red Wheel / Weiser.

The more I look at this art, the more I like it. I don't know who the artist is, but they must know a lot about magical symbolism.

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