Tuesday, 31 December 2013

December the month that was unblogged

Sorry for not updating my blog but in December I ended up having only 4 days off including today, & the time was spent getting ready for the festive period. But what a month it was with Nelson Mandela dying, aeroplane disasters, storm winds, Russia taking note that the world is watching them & India taking a backwards step in gay rights.
So taking each one in turn Nelson Mandela from which ever perspective you saw him became an emblem of hope & equality for many, OK he did have his freedom fighter days & sidled up to some communist factions, though on reflection can you blame him on either actions, as in his own country that was the only way he could get noticed & it was the communists who offered him support when the more democratic countries were trying to get him hanged. But it is what he did in his time in prison & saw to the equal rites of his people when he was elected we should focus on, the world misses you Madiba.
Russia freed Pussy Riot & the Greenpeace protesters as the world turns its attention to the country even more with Socchi 2014 drawing ever near, but it is not just the people who want freedom & equal rites that are noticing Russia as religious extremists are using the world's attention their advantage too. Hopefully Russia will look to seeing about sorting it's backwards slide in human rites & in turn perhaps India will have a change of heart too. OK that is possibly delusionally optimistic, the reality probably wont be thus.
So to the disasters, my thoughts go out to the families who have lost loved ones in the storms & plane crashes of recent times. My thoughts also go out to those who spent a miserable festive period without power & hope that you managed to get some sense of enjoyment through the festive period somehow, whether it was spending time with family that may not have seen otherwise or they celebrated Christmas on another one of the 12 days instead.
In the next couple of days I hope to put my musings of the festive period up, as well as other things that have crossed my mind too. Enjoy the remaining 6 days of Christmas & have a happy new year

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Warstone at Night

So last night I did do something that was stereotypical for a Witch to do, I visited I graveyard at night, though not any graveyard but Warstone Cemetery in the Jewellery Quarter. I went to visit the Warstone, as a natural erratic with a complex structure, I felt right at home visiting it. It is a sizeable chunk of felsite which was deposited there in the Ice Age by glacial shifting, it is thought to have served as a boundary marker & there are claims, although rather spurious that it was used in rituals in years gone by, though I have not come by any evidence as such. If it is a monolith of such repute it seems a little on the small side. It does however have an odd feel about it, perhaps it was because it was cold but it felt like it was pulsating & tingling, what was also odd is the fact that it is right next to the roadside. The cemetery has a good feel about it, full of life for somewhere dedicated to death as nature is slowly taking over. The mausoleum was also interesting acoustically as you don't tend to hear the traffic much when you are on the bottom as you do on the middle tier. It has some what look like rather interesting features but feel like I need to visit it during the day, but most definitely worth a visit whichever time of day you go.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Wychbury Hill

So today I went on another jaunt to an ancient site, but for some reason my mind thought that it was closer to my house than it was, just because I can see it from my back window doesn't mean it isn't 2 miles away. The journey was quite interesting as I saw White bryony berries, dog rose hips & crab apples which give you the full on autumnal feel. Not remembering where the footpath started from I thought it was locked so went to find another path in. I did but it was awful boggy  & the entrance to the woods was a little on the steep side as it was a defensive ditch designed to keep livestock out of the wood, but it was on a desire line so I thought that it was where people usually enter if coming from that direction, on entering the wooded part was greeted by the signs that a fallow deer had recently been shedding the velvet off his antlers on a tree which was great start for my actual walk around the hill & woods. It seemed almost churlish not to visit the Wychbury Obelisk or Wychbury Monument as it is more often referred to locally. Even after the renovation of it in 2011 they have not removed the Who put Bella in the wych elm graffiti on it referring to the body found in Hagley Woods nearby in the 1940's. I saw a skylark there as well as a couple of fieldfares. I then went back into the woods up to Wychbury Ring, the main reason for my journey. It is an impressive  feet of prehistoric engineering, it is the first hillfort I have ever been too. I took the lower path from the obelisk around the hillfort just to get the scale of it. It is not the biggest hillfort in the world but it is still amazing, especially seeing the amount of yew trees growing in the area. Taking the path which was steeper than I would normally consider safe to get my clumsy backside down I carried on, surprisingly without falling over. I carried on out of the woods to the man made mound in one of the fields, you can't get to the mound without trespassing onto farmland to decided not to risk a visit. I'm not sure what the mound is but owing to it's asymmetry it is not an 18th Century lawn sculpture, it has been suggested that it maybe a spoil heap from an underground reservoir which is highly plausible as no archaeological remains were found in it. I went back into the woods where I saw in one of the slightly more immature yew trees a goldcrest, it  was a gnat's breath away from me which was quite an exciting moment for me, further along the path I disturbed a female roe deer, I was well & truly in my nature geek element. I decided to climb the hillfort from that end which meant  being a little bit on the flexible side as for me not to injure myself had to find the easiest part of the fallen tree to climb over. It was well worth it & I walked across the top until arriving back at the monument entrance, this time though having seen the relevant stiles knew vaguely where I was going though the desire lines from the stile are not conducive to the actual foot path which I realised when it looked like it was going into a recently planted/naturally seeded blackthorn thicket I cut diagonally across from where I was to the stiles as the other end of the field accompanied by the sound of stonechats & headed home where I had a rabbit dart out in front of me. The place does have a special feel to it though & I will most definitely go back in the spring.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

St Kenelm's Well

So today I went on a pilgrimage with a Pagan friend I made through my paid job to St Kenelm's Well, which is just outside of Clent in Worcestershire. The weather held out despite it being the greyest part of the day, which is probably just as well as neither of us were wearing waterproofs. We walked the slightly longer less scenic route of going by the road (not recommended if you are going at a weekend if you are walking) which was less muddy & passes Uffmoor Wood as featured in a previous article. On the way we say a white feral pigeon (what most would call a dove) acting more like a bird of prey in it's circling & swooping flight, it landed near us on the roof of a shed. The reason why I posted such a detail is that in the legend of St Kenelm when he was beheaded a dove flew out of his severed corpse ascending to heaven & a light shone on where his body was hidden, it was a strange coincidence but cool none of the less. When arriving at the church of St Kenelm it took my breath away it is a beautiful little church from the medieval period made of sandstone with bat like gargoyles adorning it. If you take the path to the right of the church you are going through the main entrance there are some steps leading down to the well, the steps are quite wide & muddy so do be careful. The well has a sandstone rill to a collection point. I collect some water from there in a jar & left an offering of some home grown pea seeds which will hopefully provide a snack for some wild creature hopefully. But we are not the only Pagans to visit the site as many have left offerings tied to the tree some of which are most definitely Pagan some may have been Christian too. The well area is in a bit of a sorry state as some of the decking in the area is rotting & it has become a little overgrown although it doesn't seem wrong for the setting, though the next time I'll go there I will take a set of secateurs with me to cut back a bramble that snags the unwary. It is a peaceful place & you can see why people visit it. After finishing at the well site we went back up to the church & walked to the lost settlement of Kenelmstowe which is now no more than earthworks of where buildings, roads & a stew pond were, some buildings are easier to spot than others. Again we walked back into the churchyard & had a look round there are some really old yew trees in there as well as a small cross which must be it's oldest gravemarker, it certainly looks the earliest & is one of the smallest in the church yard. there is also what looks like a stone bowl to leave offerings in as well. I do heartily recommend this as a place to visit whether Pagan, Christian or just someone who likes quiet reflective time. I will most definitely be returning again.

Trans Deities & Other Religious Figures

Carrying from yesterday's theme from Trans Remembrance Day I would like to take a look at the trans side of religious figures, as if being trans is good enough for gods, goddesses & saints it sure as anything good enough for the rest of us. So where to begin? These are very brief overviews of highly complex mythologies so sorry if they seem to short to hold too much detail

Loki- Loki is a trickster god of Norse Mythology & often tried to curry favour/manipulate the giants by dressing as Freya, he also shapeshifted into a mare seducing a giant's stallion to thwart the giant & became pregnant giving birth to Sleipnir which became the steed of Odin

Dionysus/Bacchus- the Greek/Roman god of wine, ecstasy & liberty was depicted as gender ambiguous as a youth before being depicted as a bearded man in his later years

Athena/Minerva- The Greek/Roman goddess of wisdom, cities, craft & war (more on the resolution via strategy if war was unavoidable than creating violence & mayhem). Athena is occasionally depicted in men's clothing but has taken on male form, most notably in the Odyssey where she took on the form of Mentor, Telemachus, a Phaikian man & shepherd boy as well as other guises.

Inari- the Shinto kami of agriculture, industry & fertility is not given a gender as Inari can appear as a young woman giving out food, an old man carrying a sack of rice & as a blacksmith. Inari's other osscaiation is that of the fox.

Vishnu- a Hindu god who one of his Avatars is that of Mohini, whilst in this form Mohini acquires a pot of Amrita from the demons & returns it to the gods ensuring their immortality. She also tricks Bhasmasura (an ash demon) who is besotted with her into killing himself by getting him to touch his own head turning himself into ash. Shiva too is drawn in by Mohini's look too but later finds out that it is Vishnu.

Ardhanarishvara- is the merging of the god Shiva & goddess Parvati & is shown as an androgynous figure

Uumarnituq- in Inuit mythology the first two humans were male Aakulujjusi & Uumarnituq who were both male they decided to mate & Uumarnituq became pregnant, unable to be able to give birth Uumarnituq was turned into a woman.

Saint Marina/St Pelagia- she was raised a devout Christian by her father, but when she came of age to marry so devout was Marina to faith decided that living as a monk was preferable to marriage, Marina head shaved & in men's clothing headed to Qannoubine. Whilst living living there one of Marina's tasks meant staying the night at an inn as work took Marina out of the confines of the monastery, Marina was accused of getting the innkeeper's daughter pregnant, although the father was actually a soldier who was also staying there. Marina accepted the blame & was subsequently evicted from the monastery & raised the child, after ten years of being a beggar outside the monastery walls she was allowed back in but was given hard labour as penance, it was only at Marina's death did they realise that brother Marina was a woman& mourned at the harsh treatment given wrongly to her.

St Wilgefortis- another devout Christian who escaped marriage, she was the daughter of a Christian mother & a Pagan King prayed to be unappealing to her Pagan suitor & in return sprouted a beard. Her suitor was put off by this & her father was furious & sacrificed her life.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Trans Remembrance Day

Today I wore a sprig of rosemary, in the language of flowers it means remembrance. Trans Remembrance Day should not need to exist as no one should be killed or persecuted into taking their own life because of their gender identity, but it does exist as unfortunately these things happen all to often, so the fact that this day does occur & people care does put a little bit of hope & faith in humanity back in my heart. It started in remembrance of Rita Hester in 1998, the murder is is as yet unsolved, this year 232 trans people have been killed, that is 232 too many. The press are seem to do little to help & in many cases hinder trans rites even in this country, with Lucy Meadows being case in point, harassed by the press so much that she felt that ending her life was her only option. This should not be happening, instead of trans people being an easy target for shaming & persecution they should not be a target at all. I was at a remembrance service today, it was non religious, but the impact was just as great, what was the most saddening part about the whole thing was the number of unidentified people, no family or friends claimed them as one of their own, seeming like they had no one to turn to or had barely even existed. This to should not be happening, regardless of someone's gender identity they should not be treated as outcasts & it saddens me that it does. My thoughts go out to all the friends & families of these people who lost their lives because of their gender identity & my thoughts go out to all those living with the horrors of transphobic bullying.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Wild Weather & Climate Change

Sorry I haven't posted for a couple of weeks I have not had a day off to do so. You would have to have been asleep or permanently high not to have noticed that nature has been a bit rough with us over the past couple of weeks. My prayers & thoughts go to the victims & their families of the affected areas. It appears that our weather is becoming more erratic in recent years & now even scientists are agreeing that global warming is happening & causing catastrophic effects with our weather. For all the money we spend for overseas aid to help the people who have been affected by the devastation, we may need to start thinking about what money we can put to reducing our own personal impact on the planet as far as carbon footprints are concerned. It may be as simple as making sure appliances are turned off when they are not in use or buying local & organic. Sourcing responsibly sourced items or buying in such disposable trends. We can all do our bit by looking at what we can do at home, sometimes the little things can make all the difference because if everyone did them it would no longer be a small thing being done. It would be good to see that if we all act together responsibly that such things won't get too commonplace in the world as no one should have to go through what the people in the Philippines, Illinois or Sardinia. 

Friday, 1 November 2013

Uffmoor Wood, the red path in winter

This was my walk, it was my first ever visit to the wood so did not know what to expect, other than mud & trees, I was warned how muddy it got before hand so donned scruffy trousers, wellies & a waterproof & headed out. What none of the websites tell you is that the first entrance into the wood if you are a pedestrian is about an eighth of the way around the red path & about a fifth of the way around the blue one & leaves you not even knowing that there is a yellow one. I took the red path this takes you around the perimeter of the woods which I wasn't really looking for in my walk but was rather pleasant in places none of the less. You tend to have farmland perpetually to your left which at some points is not even blotted out by trees but there is a spectacular part where two streams converge. There nature part I feel I slightly missed out on being on the outer part as I kept disturbing woodpigeons which then disturbed everything else in front of me, but I did get to hear a great spotted woodpecker, two jays & a sparrowhawk, there as also a portion of the path that had some beautiful plants including a native crab apple which was old & gnarly, I can only imagine what it looks like in spring but will check it out next spring. I probably wouldn't do the whole of the red walk again as it was a little disappointing for a woodland walk, it was more a hedgerow walk that has not been managed well. Back onto the mud it does get deep in one patch which I found to my mild peril as I got my wellie stuck in it & landed hands first when by hadn't quite realised it in time. All in all relatively pleasant if the signage is lacking at a useful point. If you are going in by car you will see a sign saying what is where.


So it was that time again last night, on reflection not bad at all, my ancestor worship went as far as meditating & leaving out a homemade candy skull for them. I was so busy yesterday I didn't feel that I had enough time to do the spiritual side of things before being spark out on the sofa. With an early short shift I thought at work I could cope with what the evening threw at me, but with getting a pumpkin tagine with couscous ready as well as picking a pumpkin that was really a deformed courgette to be a Jack o'Lantern I was exhausted. the house decoration was limited to the pumpkin & & yellow chrysanthemums, I don't really go for the the plastic tat so much especially since we were heading out to a family party where they do go for the plastic novelties, they aren't Pagan & have young kids who they don't want to take out trick or treating as they don't feel right knocking on stranger's doors asking for sweets, which is understandable. What did become apparent from the trick or treaters that arrived at our house is that they appreciated I went to the effort of baking bat biscuits instead of plying them with yet more sweets & I got oohs & genuine thanks off them which actually felt good. I do feel however I felt a little disconnected with the meaning of it this year through pure planning as this was the first time I have lived on a street where there is heavy trick or treat traffic & was more concerned about not having the house egged, than spending time doing ritual, so today after doing the housework I'm going for a walk to feel more connected to nature, though wellies will be required. I kinda feel I have been more of a slave to the commercial side of it this year but held steadfast to my homemade beliefs at the sacrifice of honouring the dead as I usually do. I hope my passing nod in the chaos of the day was sufficient, but will think of them whilst out walking. Take care guys hope you had a good one.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Decoding Dreams

I get asked to decode dreams often by both people who believe they have significance the future & by those who don't. I do believe that sometimes metaphor will come into it but most of the time I feel that it is your brain processing information in a rather jumbled up manner, as most people's brains tend to jump thoughts in the concious realm when they aren't concentrating on things, I think the mind does a similar thing when you are asleep. Sometimes though people won't realise the significance of certain things for instances I unravelled my other half's dream about the The Amsterdam Museum of Cakes & Pets, where his tour guide was a Yorkshire terrier with the voice of Ronnie Corbett. Here is how I broke it down:

Amsterdam- we were talking about future holiday plans
Museum- we were talking about visiting some of the historical sites there
Cakes- we were watching the Great British Bake Off
Pets- we have cats but also see Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkshire Terrier- was the name of an ale we were drinking which also had the face of a Yorkshire Terrier on the label
Ronnie Corbett's voice- we were watching a rerun of Live at the Apollo where Rob Brydon was doing an impression of Ronnie Corbett

 I'm sorry if this shattered illusions here but it was the closest thing that made sense as hitting the dream journals that I once owned kept giving me contradictory advice as to what it meant, plus I'd already realised patterns & occurrences that had happened that day, so take a dream dictionary with a pinch of salt, by all means keep a dream diary but then try to work out patterns from what you have seen or experienced & if you are dreaming that you need the loo, it is your brain telling you that your body needs to go to the loo not that you are embarrased about something. If you dream that your teeth have fallen out, you may have forgotten to clean your teeth before going to bed or are due for a dental check up instead of you're going to die.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

High Magic

High magic is not something I use often as my magical practices tend to be more instinctual & intuitive. But I do occasionally use it for larger issues which need added oomph. It does mean that when the time comes to do said magic it is more considered & on things that need more focus it is useful, but there are times when my usual practices of low magic can intervene, as sometimes astrological correspondences are are counter intuitive to the physical properties of ingredients used. Astrological correspondences were generally formulated in the time when it was thought that flies had four legs & that there was only four elements rather than a whole periodic table of them. I do get accused of being over analytical with my practices perhaps this is why I tend mostly to low magic as an analytical mind tends fit with the logic of magic & the physical too. Also sometimes I feel high magic is over egging the pudding too which to me can seem a little time consuming & using more effort than is required. But then you need to consider what you are doing things for low magic can sometimes only work to make a scratch in the paintwork, so I'm not totally against it, it's just half the time life doesn't throw large enough fish for me to bother with it, thankfully. Have I just jinxed myself?

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Use of Low Magic

Sympathetic magic by some is considered low magic, but surely isn't it more like say no to a sledgehammer when cracking a walnut when you have a decent set of nutcrackers? It is true thgat with sympathetic magic you don't need a set of correspondences, it relies on will non the less. It also relies on knowledge of the matter that you are working with if using ingredients such as herbs as to what they do physically, herbs that boost the immune system are often used for protection as it physically boosts protection, herbs used in love magic have aphrodisiac effects etc. So low magic is not exactly simple even if the herbal side is called simpling. Then there is the physical side of it the making of poppets or using an etched name or personal effect, this maybe an easier thing to achieve, but the effort that has to go into it is just as great. The same rules apply to these magics in principle as to high magics & are equally as effective. So why is there such a snobbery to it? Perhaps it is because it allows a certain amount of flexibility or perhaps it could be seen as too reactionary, either way I don't feel it should be shunned by people of the usual high magic brigade as the essence of a situation is often as fluid as the situation. This is not to say that I don't use high magic from time to time but I do feel more comfortable with the low magic as to me it seems more intuitive yet cerebral at the same time.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Definitely feeling autumnal

I seem to be geeting in to the swing of autumn this year, perhaps it is the growing of crops that has done it, but so far the autumn has brought the brewing of the first batch of beer for me, stewing of apples, baking of bread & thoughts of jam & chuntney making. it also means that the likelihood of walking home in the dark or in the rain has increased & I shall look forward to kick about fallen leaves. This year I have felt more connected than I have previous years, possibly because I have felt more connected to the land having more opportunity to work the land. It has made me feel as sense of accomplishment as I get the I grew this feeling which makes your food all that more sweeter. Am I being all nostalgic as to what the wheel of the year means to people? Maybe, but I do like the feeling. Autumn is very much my favourite season, rich in colour & food from the land & to that I am greatful. But also it means it is yet another year when my PTSD related depression has not got the better of me through the summer months.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Music in Magical Practice

Something struck me a couple of weeks ago, though I never got around to posting it for some reason, which is I'm never usually doing magical practices in silence, whether it is to the accompaniment of birdsong or if it is at home something to drown out the everyday noise. It was after watching a documentary on catch up about David Attenborough & Bjork & how music works did it make sense. I tend to pick music that I feel appropiate to the cause, for instance A Brand New Me by Bitter Ruin for dealing with my post traumatic stress disorder (though it is not the original meaning of the song it helps me deal with the events that lead to it in my head). The tone of the song is just as important as the lyrics the afformentioned song makes it clear about the kind of message it is about by both its tone & lyrics, other songs don't do this, for instance if you sing Eternal Flame by the Bangles in a creepy voice, it becomes very sinister indeed. Does this mean the tone is the more important than the lyrics? Maybe, but some music can be subversive in it's sound to it's message for instance Baby Come Home To Me by the Scissor Sisters may sound cheery but the lyrics are antything but. So some music that I like makes the cut magically where as others do not. Music doesn't need to have lyrics to become appropiate, Adaggio for Strings by Barber brings peace for me if I need for the pace of life to slow down. So going back to the lyrics thing I have weaved them into magical workings, Feeling Good by Anthony Newly (always tend to have the Nina Simone version in my head when using it) I use to bring in the positive in my life. To me I have found singing albeit not very well more powerful than just saying something or if if it isn't something to be sung chanting it more than merely saying helps me focus my intent. It is said that song predated structured language & if you put yourself in extreme circumstances quite often what noise you make will still communicate feelings even if there is words there. I'm interested if any of the other people who read this are the same & what music they use.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Never Assume Someone is Fluffy Until Proven Otherwise

I had someone come to me who I'd met once before at a Pathworking meditation session I was hosting. The initial input from the person seemed a little fluffy the mention of pretty winged fairies came up, which raised a few eyebrows from the none Pagans in the room, I did my best to explain that they weren't weird & that some people put a face to spirit of place to feel comfortable, please see my older post on faires about that, which abaited the raised eyebrows & could see where the person was coming from in a way through my explanations. It also didn't go unnoticed by the person who spoke & the person felt I was non judgemental in my approach or too away with the fairies either. They had come to see me again, but the fluffy notion painted seemed a little inaccurate n this occasion. I can't go into the initial reason of contact as that was a personal issue, but a question afterwards is what had changed my mind about them, it came to the subject of spiritual blockage & going through the magical & meditational practices didn't seem to ring as suitable as the practical solution of just unburdening yourself of worries & stresses by talking. It appears as I misjudged completely & that for once taking someone at face value did not work, I could blame many a thing but mainly the buck stops with me. I should know better than to think of people who put a face to spirit of place will automatically think things can be cured by unicorn-rainbow-dolphin-reiki-crystal therapy.

Friday, 2 August 2013

For Frack Sake

I'm a little pissed off with the government on their response for finding newer forms of energy, actually that's not true I'm more than than just a little bit peeved. For goodness sake replacing a fossil fuel that will run out soon with another that will do exactly the same thing knowing the world's energy consumption levels is ridiculous. What is more worrying is the environmental impacts, the pictures of places from America where there has been fracking should indicate it is not a good idea. The planet has only so much of these resources & they do affect the environment that they are extracted from as well as the fact that it is not carbon neutral either kinda misses the point of the governments renewable energy targets. If we concentrate on creating reliable renewable & biotechnologies, then surely that has got to be a better answer & a better way for our planet.

Lammas tide reflections

This Lammas tide has felt like it has had more significance to me this year as my vegetable plot started to take shape this year. Yesterday was the first harvest of broad beans & although it wasn't the traditional wheat which I turn into a corn dolly which hasn't happened this year it was no less a significant harvest & the fact I grew them myself gave me a sense of achievement. I was starting to feel a little less connected with the seasons & although I still don't fully gel with some of the festivals, ones centred around growing & harvesting do have more of a significance especially now I have more of a chance of growing my own. I am far from finished on my plot so hopefully the work on a spiritual level yesterday will help as a bit of a boon to my physical travails on the plot. I have also been thankful to see more of our native insect life recently which has taken a battering, but hopefully with the largely good whether we've had, that it will help to perk up their numbers. I also baked a loaf which I haven't done in a while which certainly brings the taste of Lammas back to me, especially as I have gotten better at baking it, so I did do something a little traditional for it.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Hooray for gay marriage

Thank goodness for that, Britain will now be joining the rest of the enlightened world with the introduction of same sex marriage. So my attending of the public consultation did not go to waste. Some of the comments that I heard against same sex marriage in the House of Commons & the House of Lords just did not make sense. As a gay man I will now be able to marry my partner, I won't be able to marry my dad or my pet as some of the members suggested as incest laws & bestiality laws have not changed & no one has asked for them to be changed for this to happen, plus euw gross to anybody who would want to change them as that is just plain nasty. It won't lessen any of the marriages between heterosexual couples, how can it? Traditional marriage has not existed for centuries/millennia so won't affect them either as most of them don't exist. To the people who don't like the idea of same sex marriage there is an easy solution don't get married to someone who is the same sex as you. It is still not quite equal but it is still getting better. Thanks to all my friends who have campaigned for it, who took time out to visit the public consultations, who filled out the online consultations & those who have campaigned through their churches for it & thank you to all the MPs & members of the House of Lords & to the Queen who have now made it law. Perhaps now it could help lead to legal recognition of Pagan weddings as that was one of the issues with Pagan weddings is that a handfasting of a same sex couple was considered equal to that of opposite sex couples. WOOHOO & YAY!!!! 

Monday, 15 July 2013

Sorry for the none posting of late

It has been a while, I'm sorry I have been a bit angry young man with a lot of things that happened & I wasn't entirely sure that my annoyance at the world wouldn't end up with me sounding like an arsehole. The Murder of Lee Rigby & the backlash from the EDL & other right wing facists, which was about couple of psychos not an entire religion, as I saw no one have a go at all Christians when a couple 2 years ago killed a child because 'it was a witch' & 'it was all done in God's Name'. Then the subsequent attacks on innocent Muslims riled me, including a recent terrorist attack on a Mosque not too far away.
Then there was the badger cull, tighter restrictions on livestock movement, & improved checks & immunisation are all moves that would be more effective if done together than what a cull would do & it wasn't the badgers that started it in the first place.
And finally Russia whose stance on LGBT rights was OK but not brilliant to down right persecution, I feel for the LGBT people of Russia & hope they get a new president soon who is a free thinker & stop turning their country into a one to avoid listed country.
So Sorry about the absence I had my reasons & believe me this post was a long time of making it not sound like I'm calling for a Battle Royale scenario with all extremists in the world, though that could be an option. But on a serious note I did need to be in a calmer place before posting, so here it is.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Gay Marriage Revisited

Well it seems that it has been all over the news again as the bill entered parliament & was dicussed again. It also showed that there are some politicians trying to do the best they can to try & prevent equality by throwing up another notion that also questioned equality. Now I do believe that heterosexuals should be allowed to have civil partnerships & if it was a pro gay marriage politician putting forward the bill I would have supported it, but no, it was someone anti gay marriage who was trying to put it in to the bill to postpone the gay marriage bill going through to beyond the next election, which Annwn forbid could see Nigel Farage's lot get in with their lack of human rights stand. But it is good to see that it is generally getting a good reception by most & hopefully Britain will become the next country to join those with equal marriage rights so that we aren't dragging behind. It still won't stop the stupid comments that have been springing up. Gay marriage will not allow parents to marry their offspring just as heterosexual marriage doesn't allow it either. I haven't heard a valid arguement against it yet. There is a view held by some that it would devalue heterosexual marriage, I'm not sure how if two men say 'I do' how it would mean all of a sudden it would mean that an oath said between to people of opposite sex would be worth less than what it did before. I don't see what the insecurity is about, gay marriages are already happening in this country it is just that they will be become legally binding that is all. I have also heard whispers that another religious organisation is supporting the bill.

Jack in the Green: How old is he?

With May having gone through a full swing of seasons in one month I would like to look at one of the quintessential May characters in British folklore. It appears that Jack in the Green maybe one of the youngest. It seems that with the upsurge in popularity of the old figure of the Green Man & Robin Hood characters he has been lumped in with them. It isn't until the 18th Century that he is depicted & not until 19th Century when the term Jack in the Green was first named in writing. So here is my theory, the Jack in the Green came out of some over posturing of garland making which was popular in 16th-17th Centuries or as a piece of art imitating life with depictions in both written & drawn form could have been greatly exagerated & people took it at face value & it somehow ran away with itself & in this case quite literally so. I somehow get the feeling it may be a bit of both. So old maybe but not ancient. But why do we seem to put group all foresty type beings in one great lump, why can't Robin Hood, the woodwose, Green Man, Jack in the Green, the Holly King, the Green Knight etc be seen as a different being by some of the fluffy or New Age lot. Before you know it the Jolly Green Giant will be the next thing added into it & I'm not entirely sure what a sweetcorn logo would have to do with the other characters. I like my May customs & different folkloric characters, but that is because they are different. In Britain we don't have the gods of many other countries so please don't deminish our folk characters too.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Admitting stuff is hard

This is a post of 2 very different stories, but perhaps we can draw parallels.

Story one, a friend of mine came out to his mother recently, who is a bit older than me, it was raw for them & felt emmotionally drained. The more sad the my friend was upset rather than what she had been told, things may still feel raw, but as time progresses it will ease & they will wonder why they didn't do it earlier, but coming out is not easy even now, eventhough more people are excepting of homosexuality. Admitting it was probably the first step to feedom for the person & will help ease the future along.

The second story is about a family member who is disabled & their condition was degenerative, it affects their stability & abilty to walk amongst other things. It is always hard to see someone so active to suddenly become less able, but this was a case of the person wanting to take part in a family outing which we thought wouldn't have been the best for their abilities, but family is family & they came along, unfortunately the day was cut short due to the inability of walking long distances & especially on unneven ground. It unfortunately caused stressed, words were had in the nicest way possible, that next year it probably wouldn't be best for them to come because of the way they were not able to cope. But this has set a ball rolling to find something new to do including them in the family gathering that is akin to what we were doing, but with more accessibility, so they don't have to rely so much on the support of others & can still enjoy themselves & still be independent. It is a bitter pill to swallow that you can't quite do all the things that you used to, but it shouldn't stop you from doing other things or new things that are in you remit. My heart goes out to them & hope that they won't be discouraged from doing other things together with the family in the future as they are still very much loved.

So excepting things about yourself can actually move you further forward, don't dwell on things & see acceptance as a good thing & a chance to do new things & be proud of who you are.

A toast to Merry England

As per usual I made the trip to Clun for the Green Man festival on May Day for a bit of merry England style folk festivaling. The festival seems to have quite a wide appeal to varying different people from all walks of life, most of them looked like your average Joe Normal's but it it was peppered with the beardy weirdies you would also expect to see at such events. So what is the appeal? Is it just an excuse for a party? Or is it that people want to get a slice of the rural life that they don't have in urban/suburban life? Or is it that people want ot connect with the past? Which ever way it always feels like a bit of a pilgramage to me as my dad is a Salopian & the Beltane May Day connections are also prominant. The festival involves a fight between Green Man & the Ice Queen & the Green Man usualy wins (last year been canceled due to flooding & look what a horrible summer we had last year, I blame that for the weather we got, that & the gulf stream being in the Med rather than on Northern Europe). I'm hoping to explore a little more of Merry England hopefully this year or at least its modern enterpretations. But I'm not the only one, it appears many people are, so is it more a quest for cultural identity where some people feel we are losing it or just an affirmation we have one? Well in which ever case any a excuse for a party is a good one. So hats off to the people who make it happen.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Knowing what you are getting yourself into with spells

I'm not going to name names, but I was contacted by a friend who has been hurt by love with the appearance of a third party who showed up to cause trouble. Now my friend looked into getting a "Witch" to do a couple of spells for them, the "Witch" has charges quite the fee it appears, but the friend doesn't know exactly what type spells are being used so not 100% sure of the outcome & what it would mean for them in the long run. To me this sounds incredibly suspect/dangerous, seriously when delving into the realms of spellcasting there are some rules I would seriously consider following.

  • You don't have to be a Witch to cast a spell, it tends to work better if the person who needs/wants the spell to do it as it is more likely to have an effect as you are actually involved & not a third party who may have missed a detail in your case & who may have their own agenda, which could just be a make money fast scheme. If the spell fails or goes wrong they probly won't claim responsibilty for it.
  • Be clear about exactly what it is you want & what you want the outcome to be. 
  • Be able to deal with the consequences if it doesn't turn out how you exactly planned it.
  • Make sure in the right state of mind when you do things, when passions are high you could end up biting off more than you can chew with what you are sending out there. Be level headed about these things.
  • Think it through first, is there something you can do on a physical level before hitting the spell books?
I do hope my friend will be OK for their own sake & that things turn out to how they wanted to & not something completely distorted or unwelcome.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Alternative medicine & conventional medicine

A couple of weeks ago I had an upset stomach, not sure what caused it whether it is as I suspect food poisoning (self inflicted by not cleaning the microwave after making sure some chicken wasn't undercooked, it has since been sterilised) or whether it was the bug that was going around, I'm less likely to go with that as I was not vomiting like everyone else was. I started out drinking some fennel tea as that usually stops such things, but it didn't, I then took some loperimide (immodium for those who do brands) that didn't work either but by this time it was the weekend & the doctors would be open until Monday, so I bit the bullet, if neither were working on their own work them together, I also upped the dose on the herbal remedies too & it seemed to do the trick. Moral of the story is do not dismiss one for the other, if neither are working, as long as it is safe to do so use them combined. I know too many people who would dismiss the validity of herbal medicine but also those who think that conventional medicine is more harmful than good, neither approaches I think are helpful as you could end up missing out on something that could better treat your condition.

Sometimes logic can be quicker than the internet

Yesterday I almost went into what is now habitual, if I don't immediately know something & I know I don't have the answer in a book, to look it up on the internet. Yesterday  for the first time I was making a cake using duck eggs which are bigger than hens eggs & richer, but I lacked a specific duck egg cake recipe so getting the consistency right would mean different weights & measures. I was about to fire up the computer when all of a sudden my problem solving part of my brain perked up, weigh the eggs & then measure out the ingredients to scale, this did save me time & the cake turned out delicious, but it has now got me wondering how much do I turn to the computer for answers rather than thinking solutions to a problem myself? Have I just become to reliant on letting a machine do my thinking for me? One thing I do still use my intuition & problem solving with are my faith practices as I feel that as a Witch my workings of that nature are fluid & find that it is the most practical way of doing things. If I can do it with that then why do I turn to a machine for almost everything else? I'm a sensible if somewhat strange human being, logic should come & usually does come easily to me. Has the computer just made me become lazy in my thought processes? I think that that is something to I need meditate on.

My view on Thatcher

With the funeral rehearsal in the early hours of this morning I thought I'd write this. I have been delayed in writing this predominantly because I wanted to get my views on this is in a slightly more respectful way. I was not a fan of Maggie predominantly due to the way she rode rough shod over the working classes & promoted the greed is good movement. But thing that she did that affected me the most was Section 28, when I was a teenager coming to terms with your sexuality & trying to get over the trauma of being a victim of an attack of a sexual nature from a member of the opposite sex, I found it hard, being told that it is just a phase because of the attack & all will be fine in the end when I resolve my trust issues did not help. I needed information, but with section 28 it was hard to come by when you don't where to turn to. It made me feel like a second class citizen, that people like me didn't matter, she may have done good things but I have difficulties remembering them, maybe it was because of her major failing in my life clouds my judgement of her & with the recent findings of the Hillsborough disaster & reminding myself of her orders at Beanfield I tend to find it hard to have respect for her. I am not mourning her death, though I'm not going to dance on her grave either, but I do feel that the state money that is going on her funeral, seeing as though her family are not short of money is unfair on the taxpayer at such times when the economic climate is struggling, that the £8 million that was a projected figure would have been more useful in going to the NHS or into service provision elsewhere. As to whether she was a feminist icon or not I would side on the not, her cabinet did not contain women other than herself & she seemed to do little to promote women's rights except put her face in the news frequently to say I make the political decisions around here. Her triumph was more a individual rights rather than mass rights of those whose rights still weren't properly being noticed & she favoured the upper classes in her campaigns as she was trying to move up the social scale herself, forgetting her working class roots. I got the feeling she was the pull the ladder up Jack I'm OK kind of person, full of self righteousness & full of her sense of infallibility. My thoughts go to her family as it must be a difficult time for them & I hope the loss will ease for you, but please do not ask me to mourn for her.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The economic question of benefits & tax cuts

I'm probably not the most attuned to all the intricate details of economics in this country but I am willing to put my views on this topic into the public forum. I myself receive no benefits but I am a low income earner & less tax on me would mean I would have more disposable income with which I could spend, I would be able to afford to use public transport to go to my main job instead of walking four & a half miles to work on a route that becomes treacherous in bad weather or afford more uniform instead of waiting for it to go into holes before I replace it. I know many people who rely on their benefits to scrape by as single parents, disabled or have difficulties with their skill sets to get jobs. Many who work part time need the tax credits they get so they don't have be on full benefits & not working but can't work full time because of the needs of their children. Their are some people who I now who never be able to work again through disability & it seems to be us who are having to feel the brunt of things, if you are middle class or downwards we are being punished for those in power who frittered away the money in coffers, but rather than the money coming out of their pockets it comes out of ours. The banks were nigh on unregulated & those with the gambling power took great advantage of that, many of them still get their bonuses with their million odd pound a year wages which are now enjoying a tax cut so they can squander even more of their money. The rich are getting richer the poor are getting poorer. There is a theory that would spend more, in uncertain times even the rich will be holding on to their money so it really doesn't work out, plus are the government really expecting that the extra spending the richest 10% would do with a tax cut would out way the money that poorer in the society now can't spend even though their is a far greater percentage of people living below the poverty line of course it won't. Though I don't agree with living of the state all your life without contributing to it, you do need to support those who need a bit of extra help on the lower end of the monetary scale who are working their damned hardest to keep their necks above water. I dare say if this keeps up their will be another peasant's revolt type incident happening only this time it won't be royalty in the line of fire & we do have rights now grrrrr

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Losing Weight

I have registered at my local doctors but in the consultation I got put into the obese catergory & because I have 2 diabetic parents have been told to lose weight which is fine with the execption that I'm supposed to lose 5 stone to fit into the height to weight ratio according to health guidelines. The problem comes with the fact for me to lose that amount of weight I would also need to lose muscle as well as the fat that I have to become 13 stone, so diet, exercise & muscle wastage. I know I can do the first 2 but how am I supposed to do the latter I'm not entirely sure. I am back on a healthier diet than what I was as since Christmas I have been eating junk. My main weakness is for snacking & ale I need to stop doing both but need to have the will power. I will allow ale on mootnights but think the drinking at home must be cut down dramatically, plus I'm not sure I'm drinking enough water anyway so may be able to kill two birds with one stone. I'm also putting down the rule of if the sweet treats are not home made they don't get eaten & one more thing I need to do as far food is concerned is to cut down on portion size my family are large eaters, as to whether I can do it is another question, but what I do eat is a lot healthier some people I know as I don't eat processed food as a rule as I love cooking from scratch & I love fruit & veg & generally crave it if I haven't had enough of them. I also need to connect the the Kinect back up on my Xbox too so I can increase my exercise from walking 8.5 miles on work days to adding more cardiovascular exercise to it too, though when the weather perks up I have a fair few heavy jobs on my new veggie plot & in my back garden so that will be a boost too. But where the weight loss scale does fall down is on muscle as last time I lost the inches around the trunk of my body my weight went up, so I could have the perfect six pack & still be called obese, what happens if/when that happens? I guess I won't know but I would question it seeing as though most rugby players have a bmi that suggests they should have difficulties walking. Wish me luck & I shall be hitting the spell books for an extra boost when the moon has changed to waning.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

A new appreciation for jazz

There are always some tunes that become earworms & a couple of them for me have been jazz tracks. OK its certain types of jazz I'm not keen on the stuff that sounds like a five year old has been given Red Bull & a trumpet or the stuff that makes feel stuck in a lift in the 80's. I did spend a good chunk of last night listening to the more enjoyable versions of the genre & felt totally relaxed I think I actually melted into the armchair too it is something to give a go & it doesn't need to be taxing. Some of my favourites include:

Dave Brubeck Quartet- Take Five
Benny Goodman- Sing Sing Sing
Moondog- Bird's Lament or if you want it up tempo the Mr Scruff remix called Get A Move On
St Germain- Rose Rouge
Billie Holiday- Summertime
Nina Simone Feelin' Good

Graffiti artist vs Vandalism

Sitting on the bus on the way back from the chaplaincy I overheard a conversation (which was not hard with the volume that they were speaking at, in fact it would have been harder to not over hear it) in which one of the lads was saying he was a graffiti artist, it did peak my interest a little, which was then lost when he started to talk of the things he'd tagged by scratching his name into things. It infuriated me a little how is tagging art? To me it is nothing more than a slightly more permanent version of pissing up a wall, marking your territory. I felt like saying to him that is not art as it doesn't convey anything except that some idiot with time on his hands & a huge sense of inadequacy has been in the area. To me a graffiti artist actually says something more profound or provide amusement. For it to be art it needs to say something other than I was here (but thought better of it). People are becoming more appreciative of graffiti art, repackaging it as street art. Many places are proud of the Banksy or similar images around the place as people actually admire the effort & craftsmanship that went into making it. In fact if you can create uproar if it is removed then you really have hit the mark of the artist. I'm not condoning vandalism, but true art is something to be appreciated, somebody writing their name or just making a rude remark is worth little, though sometimes I do feel like getting a marker pen & correcting their spelling mistakes or lack of punctuation, but that would be lowering myself to their standards. If I want to leave a mark on the planet it won't be done with a compass on a bus.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Valentine's Day on Reflection

I had a bit a serious day yesterday, waking up to the Today Program doesn't fill you with the spirit of the day & throughout the day my sense of humour didn't return, Gabriel was being super naughty & I also had to clean up cat vomit which was done in a concealed spot so wasn't spotted when it happened which leaves me to think that it was Jezebel's as Gabriel has shows little regard for where he vomits, it was grim. Was I worried that this year even though I'd agreed with Rich that there was no cards, flowers etc this year I did have that thought of what if he surprises with something & I took him at his word, I would have felt mega guilty. As it happens the only surprise he had for me was that his rehearsal had been cancelled & we had an unexpected evening together where we cooked together in the kitchen which was lovely & then watched a bizarre film about Joyce Hatto. All in all the evening was lovely & unexpected which is way better than than a naff card or or flowers that have a limited vase life. So my worries were unfounded, but I do feel like there is way too much pressure on people to do Valentine's Day, perhaps if you don't get to see your partner so much or the relationship is new & you want to show how much you care it is a festival for you. I say I love you to my partner everyday & I mean it when it is said, it has been over 8 years since we first started in our relationship & we show our appreciation for each other often, so why just limit it to one day a year. All in all though it is meant to be about secret admirers rather than long term coupling. It was good to spend time together though & I would not have changed it, well perhaps with a little more assurance that there wasn't going to be an over blown gesture would have been reassuring but to be honest I don't think we could have made it clearer, but it never stops the niggling doubt. Love to everybody especially Rich xxx

P.S apologies for my lack of humour to everyone online & in text

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Gun Violence

It is with great sadness that another case of gun usage on another human being occurred & the fact that it is high profile is equally as bad, the world would be a much better place without them. My thoughts go out to the family of Reeva Steenkamp. I can't emphasise enough how much I don't agree with gun ownership for those whose jobs do not require a need for one, defence is not a reason as the gun the person owns can be turned against you by a skilled attacker. Thankfully with Barack Obama calling for tighter restrictions on gun laws in America it could make his country a lot safer if only the republicans could see that instead of thinking more guns are the answer to the gun problem where Joe Normal turns psycho & goes on a killing spree. If we could remove all guns from the world it would be a much better place. It is a sad case where a tool becomes a weapon & then make it an even deadlier weapon over time, but many weapon starts out this way as a sword was originally an agricultural tool. Guns do not make you look cool they just make you look like a scared psychopath who couldn't defend themselves in any other way. Although tighter gun laws are a step in the right direction, we need a more rigid system across the world to help stop the statistics of gun crime increasing. Perhaps a Battle Royale situation for anyone caught with a gun who does not need one for their job & the winner gets to live in a cell for the rest of his life may work & it will solve the over population of the planet crisis at the same time.*

Please do not take the last comment seriously.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Imbolc on reflection

I have to make admit something here, I have never really felt a connection with this festival as it is one where it is more for those who keep livestock or those who have children as it is a festival about birth as much as it is a festival of awakening of the seasons. Perhaps if I had livestock or was heterosexual I would have more of a connection with it perhaps, but I've never really got it. I tend to get the Vernal Equinox more on that side of things as being an ornithologist it is the time when more birds are mating. However I did do a pathworking based on the festival & it seemed to go well, I did take something from it perhaps this year it had a slight more significance with my sister having had Reuben & becoming an uncle biologically for the first time & I did send my thoughts & blessings to the both of them, but still I don't feel that Imbolc is not my festival.

The advantages of cooking from scratch

With all the headlines of horse meat in ready meals, it is now making people take note of what they are eating. Hopefully it will mean people will take more of an interest in making there own food. Having just eaten last night's left over vegetable lasagne, where even the pasta was mas made fresh, it made me think how much better it tasted from the the convenience food reheat in the oven/microwave versions, it has a far better flavour to it & in the long run works out cheaper than buying one of similar ingredients. OK making lasagne from scratch is a bit of a long winded process, but then you make what you have time to make. There are plenty of meal options that take less than 30 minutes to make if time is short or if you have a slow cooker just bung everything you need in it for a stew & it is ready with little effort when you get back home to eat. If you just adjust your eating habits to the time you have to cook, it will become less effort & less of a chore. I tend to go for easy options as I hate faff & therefore enjoy my food when it is ready. If you cook more you will start to think more about the wider ethics & economics of your food. Cooking from scratch rather than buying ready meals & convenience foods has cut down our food bill considerably. Hopefully next year our food will have a bit more seasonality as I will be taking on a vegetable plot which I find puts more in sync with the turning of the year & makes me feel even more smug of I did this. Seriously, ditch the crap that is not what it appears with its dubious meat, excess salt & sugar, artificial flavourings & whatever else they decide to put in there & taste food how it is meant to.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Flu & stuff

I'm sorry it has been a while since I have been blogging I have been puli bad, having had the flu (apparently being ill around here has something to do with misbehaving dogs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puli ). Now normally I would try my best for my ailments not rule my life, but this did properly floor me. I did go into work but that was more to not knowing whether I would have my shifts covered. I really wished I had phoned in sick so I could have properly rested, but other than going into work I was sensible, hibernating under a duvet, keeping up my fluids, avoiding dairy & eating soup & dry biscuits. I did have to take it easy as flu & asthma are not exactly the kindest of bedfellows & at the moment my lung capacity is not back up to normal & my chest is still rattling like a  toddler with a set of maracas. If you are unfortunate enough to get flu be sensible don't treat it like a cold, take care of yourself as unlike a cold (unless you are an alien from War of the Worlds) the flu can kill. This is one time I let myself be the patient & I do feel better for it

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Coping with the winter weather

I'm not entirely sure why snow brings people into mass hysteria, it is easier to cope with it if you are a lot more rational. Panic buying, clogging roads to get home before everyone else snarls up the traffic in the bad weather which does not work. Plan in advance. If it is going to snow first of all dress sensibly, this is the most important thing if you do get stranded you need to keep warm, it is not a time for vanity, sensible shoes, winter coats, warm jumpers, hats, gloves & scarves, leaves the heels, skirts, fashion shoes & denim at home. As far as food goes, dried goods are far more useful than perishable goods. Why do people think that bread & milk are the most important things? They deteriorate quickly, sure bread flour is a better idea & if you are stranded at home you will have time to bake. Long life milk would be more useful if milk is absolutely essential to you to have it, though at this time of year building up mucus is not the best idea anyway. Keep curtains closed will help keep heat in. wear you jumpers & warm clothes around the house so you don't have to ramp the heating up too much more than you'd need to. Keep your phone with you so that you can contact loved ones just in case you get stranded. Do take some high energy food with you just in case you get stranded & a hot drink in a thermos flask. If you have these then you are less likely to need to do the panic things that grinds the country to a halt. Also only drive anywhere if you have too, walk if you can or work from home if you can. Check on neighbours if they are elderly, sick or disabled. Most of all enjoy it, build snowmen, throw snowballs put out bird feed & see what birds come into your garden. I have a 4.2 mile walk to work tomorrow though being sensible I am looking at finding an alternative route as it is quite steep. Those are my tips to cope

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Confidence crash

Sorry for the major hiatus in the posting I had difficulties getting onto my blog. I have had issues recently with my confidence, it took a nose dive recently for real apparent reason, I feel I'm coming out of it as I realised there was no reason why I shouldn't have confidence in my self & kinda shook myself & told myself to get a grip, my life could be worse & has been in the past. Well it appears that I need to de clutter my head & do tasks that are important to me & my life, take strength from my faith. So if you are having a crisis in confidence & your not sure why, dig deep, concentrate on your strengths, do something you love & are good at & you may find your confidence creep back, but the first step is to acknowledge your lack of confidence first otherwise you won't be able to do much about it. The much happier Pagan Chaplain.