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contents Welcome to the first issue of Esbat!

07 | BOOK OF SHADOWS CONTRIBUTIONS 09 | CANDLE GUIDE 11 |

MYSTERIES REVIEW

We aim to break the stereotypes of Witchcraft. The modern day Witch needn't be categorised under any kind of negative ideas and so we celebrate all things beautiful surrounding Wicca and Paganism. Issue one has been a rollercoaster and the final product has been worth the wait, Esbat is not dark nor gloomy, we are your personal handbook and take an optimistic view of a subject that is not fully understood in society. This months issue looks at people's views on Witchcraft and thankfully the input has been very positive, helping us to create a collection of pieces that are both useful and comprehensible. This months images looks at the Seven Wonders, a fabulous idea spawn from the hit series American Horror Story and we have included the work of Katrazyna Majak, again to break the sterotypes of modern witches. We stand behind the articles that we have conjured up and the ideas we have expressed by gaining examples and quotes from professionals and people who are under the scrutiny of todays (sometimes) negative stereotypes. Esbat is aimed at people who practice the craft as well as those intruiged by it and so we have created a comforting yet captivating first issue to help everyone gain an understanding of a daunting topic. A huge thank you to Quest for their contribution to the first issue (props used in pages 22-29), information on Quest can be found on page 30.

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THE PHENOMENON: COMING OUT OF

Paige Bennett - Editor

55 | WOMEN OF POWER

THE BROOM CLOSET 15 | Q&A WITH LAURA HAMEL 17 | WATKINS REVIEW 21 | THE ASTROLOGY SHOP 23 | SEVEN WONDERS 31 | QUEST REVIEW 35

THE EIGHT SABBATS AND THEIR TRADITIONAL INCENSE

37 | MOONS 41 | THE AUGURY WITCH 43 | FIRE SYMBOLISM 49 | MODERN INTERPRETATIONS 53 | MATTHEW GLOVER 59 | HOW TO: PENDULUM DOWSING 61 | LIVING AS A PRACTICAL WITCH 66 | MAGIC HOURS

Special Thanks: ALICE BLENKINSOP - Photographer JAY DINGWALL - Graphic Design ORLA TONER, ANTONIO ROWE - Studio Assistants

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67 | WITCH HOUSE 69 | ATLANTIS REVIEW 73 | THE POWER OF THE WITCH 75 | GIVE BACK TO MOTHER NATURE 77 | Q&A WITH BRI SMITH

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Pentagram A five pointed star representing the five elements. The pentagram is believed to believed to have been discovered through the star shaped pattern Venus makes on it’s journey through the sky. If worn the pentagram shields the wearer and is used as a powerful symbol against evil. Before Christianity used the symbol it was worn on clothing to show that the wearer practiced witchcraft freely.

The pentacle aka ‘the druids root’, ‘the witches star’, ‘the pentalpha or ‘the endless knot’ due to it’s ability to be drawn with one continuous line. It is also considered to be an amulet used for magical invocations, rituals and spells. A silver pentacle bings energy of the moon and a gold pentacle binds the energy of the sun.

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16th century woodcut by Grien showing withces preparing their ointment.

An inverted pentacle is NOT a satanic symbol but instead signifies a different outlook on life. An upright pentacle is more about becoming whereas inverted is more about being. The two points up are used for breaking down barriers, dismissing bad luck and bringing a new beginning.

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PINK SILVER Romance and love are the main characteristics that come The goddess colour which can be used in simple spells, with pink candles, it is a positive colour that promotes spiritual wakening, femininity and friendships. Pink is a fantastic colour for helping with depression or anxiety.

always placed on the left side of the altar. Silver is also known to encourage stability and is useful when pondering complex issues during meditation and magic.

RED

BLACK

PURPLE Purple carries traditional connotations and is closely

WHITE White is a balance of all colours and symbolises purity,

Fiery and strong, red is known for its passion and energy with strong connections to blood, birth, death and sex. Red increases magnetism in rituals and is sometimes used in defensive magick. Just like gold it is used to symbolise a God as well as the element of fire.

Candles are one of the most important parts to any spell or ritual and they have been for centuries due to their symbolism of the element fire. They are used to set the atmosphere and help to increase a spell’s power. Each colour emits a particular vibration and attracts certain influences, so choosing the

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correct one is key. If you do not have the correct colour for your spell the best option is to allow the Goddess and your own intuition to guide you. Another thing to take into consideration – unscented candles are the best kind as many mass produced scented candles are made with strong chemicals which can disrupt your spell.

linked to mysticism, mainly symbolising idealism, success, wisdom and power. There is also healing properties within purple for sleeping disorders and stressrelated disorders.

BROWN The most balanced, earthy colour of them all, helping to

promote a feeling of self-esteem. Other properties include improving concentration, study, intuition and telepathy. Brown can also be used to connect you with lost items.

BLUE A relaxing, soothing colour used in rituals to obtain

tranquility, peace, wisdon and inner light. Blue is also known to inspire and help a person to be more understanding. This is the Feminine principal in nature.

GREEN Green connects to nature, fertility, and abundance and

is known to bring good luck. Bringer of love, stimulator of work and money. Green is also the colour of the Earth element.

Black is used to open up the deeper levels of the unconscious mind and helps to ground negative energy. This colour is fantastic for any ritual relating to selfcontrol, resilience and is great for protection.

peace and spirituality. White is the colour candle you should always have lying around because it can be used as a substitute when other colours are not available.

YELLOW Yellow is a very stimulating colour that relates to intellect, memory, imagination and concentration. Yellow is often seen as quite an uplifting colour and symbolises the element of air.

Orange Another bright stimulating colour which attracts

characteristics wanted from other spells or rituals. Orange symbolises many things but the mot important being attraction, control, authority as well as encouragement and luck.

GOLD Candles can represent the God and Goddess in simple

spells and in this case gold symbolises the God and should typically be placed on the right hand side of the alter. Gold is also known to promote understanding and attract the powers of cosmic influences.

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Mysteries, 9-11 Monmouth Street, WC2H

MYSTERIES

Mysteries is the type of place that you cannot simply pass by, located in the earthy Covent Garden area you will find everything you could possibly need for all types of spiritual rituals. Once you’ve set foot inside there is plenty to discover and a lot more on offer than other shops in the area, standing out from the rest with a whole section dedicated to music. Although it feels like more of a ‘spiritual’ shop, there are a lot more Wiccan products on offer, from candles to handbooks and spell books. This shop is in no way commercial - which is refreshing, no big signs, no brightly coloured banners, just pure authentic items. The staff are the friendliest around, you ask them one question and they will answer ten, they will even go out of their way to help you find the best priced product for your needs. Mysteries offers a much larger selection of readings with 17 different psychics and half an hour will set you back

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£45, not the cheapest but the reviews show very accurate readings. The only thing that slightly lets Mysteries down is the book selection - it isn’t huge, but the books they have chosen to sell are fantastic! Mysteries hosts regular events including psychic development classes, tarot card workshops and palmistry foundation courses. The courses are a tad more expensive than other places with seven-week tarot courses costing £210, but the reviews prove all of the above to be worthwhile! Whether you are looking for enlightenment, wanting to study something new, purchase a gift or just buy your usual supplies, Mysteries is easily the best shop in this area, even one lady passing by announced “this has much more than that astrology one”.

YOU HAVE WITCHCRAFT ON YOUR LIPS - WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

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E

Explaining your spiritual path to friends and family is never going to be easy, but in this technological age there are many places to gain advice and seek out information, even blogs dedicated to helping people ‘come out of the broom closet’. Chas S. Clifton (historian) explained that “”Twenty years ago or more, the would-be Witch was on his or her own in terms of finding teaching or materials”, now we have access to some of the most amazing material and advice. This phrase can be found all over the internet but is causing a feeling of discomfort for many people due to the similarity to the phrase of ‘coming out of the closet’ referring to the LGBTQ community. One blogger wrote “please do not equate not telling anyone about your pagan path, to not telling anyone that you’re gay/trans/bi/pan etc. It’s a false equivalence and really rude”. An understandable point, but thinking about it, it is just as difficult. In some countries it is severely frowned upon and in places like India, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, people are faced with superstitions that can cause them to be seriously harmed for their beliefs. In some of these areas there are laws against witchcraft, making people live in fear leaving them no choice but to stay in said broom closet. The phrase ‘in the closet’ literally means to hide something away and is associated with the idiom ‘skeletons in the closet’ therefore shouldn’t be causing frustration between pagans and the LGBTQ community. People fear things that they do not understand. Both paganism and homosexuality have been under a heated spotlight for centuries and so using a similar phrase should not be the issue here. Looking at the official census from the US in 2001 271,000 people put their religion as Wiccan of Pagan, in 2008 there was an increase to 682,000, this would lead you to believe that people are becoming more confident about expressing their beliefs. This may also be due to the advances in technology and the increase of ‘coming out’ blogs and stories. People are gaining a greater understanding and for this reason, we should embrace the phrase and help each other overcome the fear of telling others. To date, the ‘Pagan Coming Out Day’ Facebook page has over 9,000 likes, allowing you to relate to other people’s stories. This is a great facility that helps people from all over the world come together and face their fear, some of their stories are very inspirational and impressive: “ I’ve been Pagan for over 17 years now, so there are probably some of you out there who think this is old news. But since then, I’ve tried to not be Pagan, and I’ve tried going to church, because I hated (yes it is a strong word, and yes, I mean hated) myself for not being “normal.” But, here’s the thing: you can’t be something you’re not. And all that time I was trying to not be Pagan, deep down, I was longing for it, and holding tightly to my beliefs.” - Roseandlin “I came out of the broom closet when I was a junior in high school. Even though I lived in the Bible Belt of Kentucky it never occurred to me NOT to come out, and I never really thought of it as “coming out”. To me it was just being who I was. “ - HomemakerHomestead “At some point, we must all come out. We must all be honest about how we’ve compartmentalized to excess, how we’ve created new masks — either out of fear or in an attempt to approximate privacy in an increasingly non-private society. We must recognize when it is time to integrate all of our disparate parts” - Teo Bishop (Alias) Many people fear the change that it may bring to their life, they fear people may treat them differently and the reactions they will get. The pagan coming out day has helped a lot of people to gain the confidence they need, “It’s also a day when our religious community comes together to support those coming out to a person or group and celebrates the more public emergence of their Pagan identity”. Here are some things you may wish to consider when making the decision to ‘come out’:

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The phenomenon: Coming out of the Broom Close 1. Consider your knowledge and consider how long you have been practicing, have you given this spiritual path enough time to know it is definitely for you? If it isn’t a huge part of your life, does it need to be shared?

7. Don’t expect it to be kept a secret, some people need to talk about things to fully understand them, but also think of yourself and talk to someone, even a complete stranger, especially if it hasn’t gone down too well.

2. Spirituality is a very personal subject and so you really need to recognise your reasons for sharing this information with them, why do you want them to know?

8. Be respectful and understanding of their feelings whether they accept what you have told them or not. They may be fearful and they may be joyous, but this isn’t something you can pre-empt so make sure to plan for all outcomes. Don’t make plans straight after, they may want to gain a greater understanding and they may need time to let it all sink in.

3. Choose the time carefully, face-to-face talks are really important so you can educate people as well as tell your story, out in public is probably not the most appropriate time and should probably be explained in a calm, comfortable area like your own home. 4. Remain calm, everyone’s situations are different, they may not be happy with your choice of spiritual path so as silly as it may sound - think what you are going to say beforehand. Focus on what your belief system is rather than what it isn’t. 5. Deal with stereotypes and misinformation early on in the conversation, many people expect witchcraft to be linked to evil and the devil and this is something that needs to be straightened out as soon as possible. 6. Make sure you are in a calm state, do not tell anyone out of spite or recognition, do it for your own personal reasons but make sure your state of mind is collected and stable.

9. Honesty is the best policy, don’t try to sugar coat your beliefs to make them sound better, explain everything as thoroughly and openly as you physically can. You do not want to jeopardise their trust with a situation so fragile. 10. Think about the aftermath, will this benefit you or will it make public events difficult, will it affect your job. It cannot be stressed enough: DO THIS ONLY WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT FOR YOU. And on a final note, on May 2nd each year, join your brothers and sisters on International Pagan Coming Out Day (IPCOD) whether you are in the broom closet or out, keep them in your mind as they take this step. Where deep purple in support of Pagan Pride and let them know it is perfectly fine to be themselves.

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laura

HAMEL ESBAT magazine caught up with Laura Hamel to get some insight on her day to day life in the world of witchcraft.

1. What do you think the main differences are between traditional witchcraft and 21st century witchcraft? Flexibility. Witches now have the opportunity to follow what is right for their path (solitary witches, eclectic witches, etc), whereas in traditional witchcraft, it was mostly about who you knew or where you were located and you practiced those forms. 2. Did you always know you were to be involved with wicca? or was it more of a decision? I always had a hunch that witchcraft was right for me. My aunt was the first person to come out and say she’s Wiccan. She was ridiculed by my family for her decision, but I also feel like they knew I was going to end up just like her. I was always the black sheep, and I questioned everything. I rented my first book on witchcraft from the library at age 8, intrigued by the path my aunt chose. My family raised me to be Catholic, and they pushed it for a while until I brought up my own theories on religion which they were not too happy about. At ten years old I was leaving out offerings for fae folk (which I also was ridiculed for) and spending time in the woods, connecting

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I do FInd it somewhat easy to intergrate my beliefs in daily life. I meditate every night before bedtime

with nature. My father passed away when I was 12 (pancreatic cancer) and it left me feeling lost.There was no balance to my religion, I didn’t feel comfortable or safe with Catholicism. Basically the whole “why would my god choose this suffering for anyone”. My mom (at that time divorced from my father for 8 years) blamed it on “karma catching up with him”. And I thought why would I suffer at the fate of karma (or whatever my mother was implying), when I could take matters into my own hands and feel stability with my inner self. Around 14, I really started doing my research and getting to the root of my spiritual desires and figuring out what path was right for me (studying Buddhism, Crowley’s works, as well as auras and astral travel). After I graduated high school, I relocated with my fiance of 4 years to Portland. That move across the country (from Oklahoma of all places, although I was born in Massachusetts and lived there for 10 years) really took a toll on me. A LOT of spiritual growth happened during that time, and it wasn’t until this year actually that I realized by definition of my own collection of beliefs, that I am a witch! It was like putting all of the pieces of a puzzle together. It fit perfectly.

explained you were wiccan?

your spiritual traditions & practices?

My fiance was very supportive of my path. My mom has always known I have “weird” spiritual/religious beliefs so to be honest, I haven’t even told her nor plan on doing so. The less she knows the better. I don’t need any negativity bringing me down. I have my Instagram account and a Pagan group on Facebook and the people on there have been really supportive.

Some of my spiritual practices include smudging my home with sage on the Full moon, eating organic foods, living green, burning incense for different purposes, daily one-card tarot readings, and remembering my dreams. Every once in a while when I’m feeling blue, I will pull out the Dhammapada and read it for clarity. Buddha is always my go-to deity for inspiration/meditation.

4. Do you find it easy integrating the craft into your day-to-day life? Do you have any handy hints & tips?

6. What are your favourite aspects of Witchcraft?

3. How did your friends and family react when you

5. Could you give us a brief description of some of

I do find it somewhat easy to integrate my beliefs in daily life. I meditate every night before bedtime and let my meditation drift into a dream. I also burn certain daily incenses for different purposes (my favorite smell being pine). Tips that I have for daily life include living simple (don’t over-complicate your life), ALWAYS follow your intuition, and be sure to make time for yourself to nourish your soul (“me” time). Make sure you always have a feeling of connection to nature - even if you live in the city, keep houseplants around the home.

What I love most about witchcraft is how much it has to do with nature and lunar phases. Nature is a big part of who I am. 7. What are your predictions for the future of Witchcraft, especially in regards to technological advances? I feel like the more people are educated about witchcraft; the more people will convert to it (from the internet mostly). It will just grow bigger as technology advances. Many people out in the world feel empty from their current religions.

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Watkins Books, Esoteric Centre, 19-21 Cecil Court, WC2N

WATKINS BOOKS

Watkins Books could be described as more of a book temple than a bookshop, spanning over two floors you will find a book for all your esoteric needs. Again, located down one of Covent Garden’s many small streets, if it’s supplies you are looking for you may wander past this shop a few times thinking it only contains books - but you are very wrong. If you look a little deeper, towards the back corner you will find all your basics and a beautiful varied selection of tarot cards. Although it went into administration back in 2010, it is still going strong and hopefully won’t be another great independent bookshop pushed out by the larger companies (that don’t stock half the books found here). The Wicca book

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selection is fantastic reaching from ceiling to floor and a small selection of the books in here are so rare they cost up to £200. Watkins is great for out of print and second hand books and best of all the staff don’t pounce on you, giving you plenty of time to explore the spacious store. The selection of stones, crystals and tarots isn’t as large as other stores in the area but has a basic version of everything you’ll need. Watkins has a very trustworthy feel and is worth a browse. One ‘regular’ member of the store told us to ‘stay away from that dark stuff, you need to be researching angels’, however the array of books we found were far from dark.

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Š Pintrest

Motivation Spell May these words bring me encouragement and revive my interest in this moment, I invoke the Higher Power Among the obstacles these hours To awaken the motivation in my heart. As visions of good return, And the spark of positivity is lit, And the strength rises within me, It is my wish, please guide my steps during this moment, May this incantation push me forward. So mote it be.

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The Astrology Shop, 78 Neal Street, London, WC2H

THE ASTROLOGY SHOP

Along the cobbled street of Neal’s, you will find this little gem - and a few more inside too. In comparison to other shops around London this one is a tad more commercial, but still has all the basics for your spells and rituals along with an array of books. A familiar scent of incense lingers around the shop but this is most definitely more of a tourist attraction, making it difficult to see everything the shop has to offer, thankfully the staff were more than happy to help, jumping at every opportunity. If you are looking for a gift, Astrology Shop is the perfect place but you will also find all the essentials including spell candles (priced at 60p each), a large selection of gem stones and crystals with all the information to help you to find one that suits your needs, incense, smudge sticks and

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much more. The only downfall of Astrology Shop is the lack of readings and activities available. From the outside you cannot miss this shop due to the huge astrological wheel in the window, which could be the reason it is so popular. However, it is missing that true authentic, spiritual feel that you want when visiting this particular type of shop. The commercialism of the shop really takes away from the reason you are visiting with a few shoddy birthday cards, brightly coloured objects and tacky key rings dotted around distracting you.

Witchcraft

is all about living to the heights and depths of life as a way of

worship

- LY DE ANGELES (WITCHCRAFT: THEORY & PRACTICE)

The Astrology Shop is great for all your essential items and is placed in a great area of London, close to Covent Garden.

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seven THE

WONDERS

Transmutation The ability to move instantaneously from one location to another without physically occupying the space inbetween.

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Concillium Imposition of one’s will onto another, it cannot be resisted, though doing so causes increasing introcranial pressure.

Telekenesis The ability to manipulate objects with the power of the mind.

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Divination The extra-sensory awareness of things including objects and people.

Pyrokenesis The ability to control and conjure fire with the power of the mind. 26

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Vitalum Vitalis The balancing of scales between one life and another. Witches can transfer their own life force to the deceased.

Descensum The spiritual descent into the netherworld or afterlife.

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Quest, 58a The Ashley Centre, Epsom, KT18

QUEST

A little outside of London in Epsom’s Ashley Centre you will find this little treasure trove, a fantastic store that has been more than helpful in the making of this magazine. Most shops of this kind have a small selection of objects and practices for your spiritual journey, however Quest is the first we have found to have absolutely everything under one roof. Quest helps people during all different stages and types of spiritual quests from Buddhism to witchcraft, with different sections of the shop dedicated to different paths, all surrounding the centerpiece, the main attraction, the large display of crystals and gemstones. Quest is a paradise for magpies containing beautiful gifts and jewellery; therefore you don’t need to be on any spiritual path to enjoy this store. The jewellery is truly something

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else, something we haven’t seen in any other stores, beautiful pentacles and silver rings alongside crystal jewellery to enable you to carry your energy around with you. If you have any concerns or confusion with anything in the store, the staff are happy to help, with knowledge that is truly fascinating. Two more factors make Quest stand out from the rest, firstly, the website. A fully interactive website that also sells all of their products and provides you with help and advice, everything in one place, at last! Secondly, the amount of therapies and readings on offer, a much larger range than most places with angel readings, tarot readings, palm readings, massages, reflexology, reiki healing, success coaching and much more.

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Spell for Lost Friendship Write your full name, and your friend’s full name on a piece of paper. Put the salt, five red rose petals and five white rose petals on top of it. Inhale sharply, and point your index finger to the paper, while thinking of a pleasurable memory the two of you shared. Repeat the following incantation: “I call upon thee, O Dominio, angel of friendship, I ask you humbly to let us meet again Give (friend’s name) the strength to come to me. And rekindle our friendship So mote it be.’ Fold the paper several times and bury it at the foot of an old tree. Maiden, Mother & Crone

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Eight Sabbats and their traditional incense its full power. Good incense to burn: Camomile, Elder, Fennel, Lavender, Mugwort, Pine, Roses, Wild Thyme, Wisteria and Verbena.

What is a sabbat? Sabbats represent the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth, specifically in regards to the cycle of the God, along with representing solar and seasonal changes. Each sabbat brings joy along with deeply felt spiritual, cultural and ecological meaning. They contain framework for transformation, rites of passage, healing, empowerment & manifestation. Kerry (Pagan) explained that “Sabbats are very important to a witches yearly calendar, it’s a part of who we are and helps us to celebrate the magic that comes with nature each season. Personally, sabbats are what maintain my energy throughout the year and keep me powered up and strong minded”.

Lammas Lammas is also known as Lugnasadh as it is the festival dedicated to the god Lugh who is associated with light and fire. It is known as the first harvest but the days are gradually becoming shorter and autumn is on its way. This is the time to think of hopes and fears. Good incense to burn: Acacia Flower, Aloes, Cornstalks, Fenugreek, Heather, Hollycock, Oak Leaves, Sunflower and Wheat. Autumn Equinox This is known as the second harvest as we take the summers crops and await the darkness of winter. It is a time to finish old business as we ready ourselves for a period of rest, relaxation and reflection. Good incense to burn: Acorns, Asters, Benzion, Ferns, Honeysuckle, Marigold, Milkeweed, Myrrh, Passionflower, Pine, Sage and Thistles.

Candlemas The Candlemas sabbat is a time for rebirth, renewal, refreshment and purification - almost a spring clean. Also known as Imbolc, this period is renowned for fire festivals with significance placed under the light of fire. Candles are lit to symbolise the coming of new light. Good incense to burn include: Angelica, Basil, Bay, Benzoin, Celandine, Heather and Myrrh.

Samhain Known to many as Halloween, this is the period of time where the veil between both worlds is at its thinnest. It is the New Year’s Day for witches, as well as the third and final harvest festival. This time is also used to celebrate reincarnation and to note the absence of the Sun God who is reborn at Winter Solstice as the Child of Promise. Good incense: Acorns, Apples, Broom, Dittany, Ferns, Flax, Heather, Mandrake, Mullein and Oak Leaves.

Spring Equinox Also found under ‘Ostara’, the spring equinox marks the day of equilibrium, the harsh winters are beginning to fade and the alluring summers are just around the corner, our unconscious is thriving. Good incense to burn include: Acorn, Cinquefoil, Crocus, Daffodil, Dogwood, Easter Lily, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Rose, Strawberry and Violets.

Winter Solstice The Winter Solstice also goes under the name of ‘Yule’. This is the longest night of the year when the Sun God is reborn to light the world, to free it from the grip of winter. Yule is a time to get together, a time of parties and a time of festivals. Good incense to burn: Bay, Blessed Thistle, Cedar, Chamomile, Evergreen, Frankincense, Holly, Juniper, Mistletoe, Moss, Oak, Pine Cones, Rosemary and Sage.

Beltane Beltane celebrates the entire living world including plants, animals and humans. At the opposite time of the year we celebrate Samhain and during both of these periods the veil between worlds is said to be thin. We use this time to celebrate fertility and are thankful to the goddess for giving the earth the power to grow such beautiful flowers and fruit. Good incense: Angelica, Bluebells, Daisy, Hawthorn, Ivy, Marigold, Primrose and Rose. Summer Solstice Also known as Lithia, this is the midsummer sabbat and is the most powerful day of the year for the Sun God. Again, fire plays a big role in this festival. Astronomically it is the longest day of the year, representing the god at

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© Pintrest

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MOONS Within witchcraft and when it comes to casting a lot of spells, the moon is the most important heavenly body to take into consideration. By monitoring the moons cycle you can then use it to your advantage by casting certain types of spells depending on which phase the moon is in. The moon exerts enormous amounts of energy and has a huge influence over the earth, governing the tides, crops and certain aspects of the human body therefore it has a strong influence over magic.

FULL MOON

WAXING MOON

The one night a month of the full moon is said to be the more magical night as the energy levels are very high. This energy can be used for spells or rituals based around love, knowledge, protection prosperity and divination. Witches celebrate the full moon with a ritual known as the esbat, which honours the goddess. The night of the full moon is a great time to explore finding your true path and purpose in life.

The moon waxes from new moon to full moon and is known as the period of growth and innovation. The moon is growing larger in the sky and the energy is growing. This time is perfect for spells and rituals related to attracting, creating, inspiring or producing. If you are wanting better relationships or better health, now is the best time to ask.

WANING MOON The moon wanes from full moon to new moon, this is known as the period of ‘dying off’. Use the period of the waning moon for spells that remove, banish, release and it is good to have intentions of getting rid of something that no longer serves you. This period of time is also fantastic for giving up any of those bad habits.

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NEW MOON The day of the new moon is the best time for rituals or spells relating to beginning new things as the moon is new and fresh. If you are planning on a multi-day spell you are best starting on the new moon and working forwards.

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January 16th Febuary 14th March 16th April 15th May 14th June 13th July 12th August 10th September 9th October 8th November 6th December 6th

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Love for life in all it’s forms is the basic ethic of witchcraft - STARHAWK (SPIRIT DANCE) © Pintrest

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THE AUGURY WITCH 40

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© Pintrest

As many of you will be aware there are many different sub-divisions of witchcraft and this month we are looking at the Augury Witch. Augury is a term that is derived from ancient Rome in which priests called Augurs would observe certain signs such as the flight of birds or thunder and lightning. These signs known as auspices are not sent from God to foretell the future but to tell whether or not the gods have approved of a proposed course of action. It is said that signs on the Augur’s left side are denoted as a favourable outcome and those on the right pointed to an ill-omen. In ancient Rome it was believed that if an Augur committed in an error in the reading of the signs, it was considered very offensive to the gods and often was said to have adverse effects unless corrected. There are two types of auspices, impetrative (sought or requested) and oblative (unsought or offered). Impetrative signs were signs that came to the Augur during the reading of the

Auspice, oblative were signs within unexpected events and so thunder and lightening would come under this category. All this talk of ancient Rome raises the question, is this traditional form of divination still widely used today? Although Augury witches still look at the traditional signs from the sky, birds, animals and any strange occurrences their main focus today appears to be on the birds. You can see hints of Augury if you look back to the 1994 film ‘The Crow’ where the opening scene explains, “People once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes, something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it, and the soul can’t rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right.” These sorts of signs have many meanings, and we have taken a variety of different understandings from different eras. • If ever a bird builds in your shoe or pocket or any of your clothes, you may prepare to die within the year. (1955) • Canada Jays are supposed to embody the souls of hunters or lumbermen who die in the North woods, and it, therefore, brings bad luck to kill them. (1955)

• If a redbird flies across a girl’s path... she will be kissed before night. (1964) • The cry of the bittern is a cause of superstitious fear and recorded that one man hearing it ran a mile, saying, that the Devil was after him. (1843) • Chickens or turkeys standing with their backs to the wind and with ruffled feathers mean a storm’s coming. (1964) • A rooster crowing at nightfall portends rain through the dark hours. (1964) • A sudden burst of robin-song foretells of bad weather. (1964) • Kingfishers nesting near the water mean a dry season to come. (1964) Augury isn’t as popular as in the past but we can still see the signs today. A great note to end on, here is a beautifully written piece found in the ancient text the Carmina Gadelica (historical book of prayers, hymns, poems, blessing etc.) about bad omens.

“I heard the cuckoo with no food in my stomach, I head the stock-dove on the top of the tree, I heard the sweet singer in the copse beyond, And I heard the screech of the owl of the night. I saw the lamb with his back to me, I saw the snail on the bare flag-stone, I saw the foal with his rump to me, I saw the wheatear on a dyke of holes, I saw the snipe while sitting bent, And I foresaw that the year would not Go well with me.”

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Air 44

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Witchy Tip One To stay youthful and make your skin glow, crush a handful of flowering tips and leaves from roses, rosemary and majoram, leave to soak in 300ml of alcohol for a month. After a month add two tablespoons of honey and two tablespoons of blackcurrant juice. Strain the mixture in a seive. Take one tablespon as a medicine around four to five times a week.

Witches Flying to Sabaat - Maurice Garcon

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Witches flying to Sabbat 1926, by Bernard Zuber

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Modern interpretations WE TOOK TO THE STREETS OF LONDON AND TO SOCIAL NETWORKING PLATFORMS TO FIND OUT YOUR OPINIONS OF WITCHCRAFT IN THE 21ST CENTURY AND HERE IS WHAT WE FOUND.

“I like to think witches are the new age Healers and shamans of our day. I dabbled as a Hedge Witch for about half a year and to be honest, I felt nothing but positivity in what I was practicing! I don’t believe in their relationship with ‘magic’ so much as they are wielder’s of energy and have a close intimacy with the energy around them”

- 4nimas “I think that if practitioners today eschewed the old names, and bigotries associated with them, we’d all be better off. Shake off the new age connotations along with the persecution garbage. “Witches”, any occult adepts really, need to reclaim the position as wizened within society, not scurry about on it’s outskirts. Reverence, not religion in respect to deity”

- fratergoat “ Suppressed ‘Ancient studies’ should be banned and let the truth out, rather than propagandized with mainstream media giving this a bad rep. It’s time to stop this and let the Ancient Studies rule Earth once again.” - rossanabannana “ In USA east coast there’s a huge stigma. People relate witches to the devil & evil doing. Which is why I still like the term white witch”

- _nancyspungen “In my opinion witchcraft in the west is probably more socially acceptable now than it has been for hundreds of years, obviously helped by the mainstream media. Hollywood has played it’s part too with Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Twilight etc. also the fact that we live in a time where those of us who follow a different religion other than Christianity are not persecuted to the extreme for not following the majority belief systems which started with Romans in this country. In many third world countries witchcraft and its associated practices are still viewed like it was here 400 years ago, suspicion, accusations and fear - resulting in deaths, mutilations and at the best segregation.”

- Rob “Well, I think that Wiccans are viewed by mainstream society as oddballs and hippies. That tends to be the fate of any minority religion, I suppose, which is unfair, considering that no belied system has more proof than any other. What makes praying so different from casting a circle of protection? It’s not for me, but I respect their emphasis on enjoying natural beauty.”

- Max “I think like many stereotyped and caricatured lifestyles, most of society don’t even bother educating themselves on the matter before formulating an opinion.”

- peachesandtequila “I believe a witch/wiccan can either be good or bad depending on the person, people should show respect instead of mocking them and saying “magic isn’t real”... because it is very real”

- mosesreal

“ For the real witch to florish, the Hollywood witch must die. Yes we must kill it. Kill the all of the negative connotations, kill all of the ignorant stereotypes. We must be loud for our ancestors who were hushed. We must be bold for our ancestors who were beaten, hung, and tortured. We must love and be one. We must kill the Hollywood witch”

- fuzzkits “ A witch/Wiccan can be good or bad. But in my opinion right now witches and Wiccans are good. Yes there is bad magick and good magick that a Wiccan can practice but we need the balance. Witches and Wiccans are good and they are strong, therefore they should be standing very high. Imagine that one day something bad happens, magick and witches/Wiccans can help us. They can heal us, heal the pain and sorrow and we have to get rid of the bad comments about witches, people must understand that they are good”

- Domirybak “My interpretation of a Witch is someone with a spiritual outlook on life, usually with a Pagan/Wiccan background. Potentially practices magic. Understanding of nature and the (magic) ability it has to invoke different moods, senses etc. I am Pagan but I feel like I can’t put that on a job application if it asks for religion because I won’t get taken seriously. I find it funny that people look down upon it when they celebrate mainly Pagan festivals themselves and don’t realise. Eostar (spring equinox) was replaced with Easter by Christianity. Eostar was the celebration of rebirth and growth, eggs, seeds, baby animals etc. Or people who shrug off Halloween because they think it’s an American holiday when in fact it’s from English heritage! Witchcraft / paganism is not domineering lifestyle but used as guidance. For example you don’t have to practice magic to be a witch. Ultimately the message witchcraft sends is about looking after the world and people around you. Everyone has different believes and values and systems that guide them through life. And therefore everyone should have the right to believe in what they do without judgment, snobbery and ignorance. Why should Christianity be more of a valid religion than Pagan?”

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By this candle I do sleep, hidden from the day, in the night so deep. O Lady Moon, guide my dreams, cover me with your beautiful beams. As the candle flame dies, please close my eyes. Allow me to wake in the warmth of the sun.

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Š Anna Tatsuno, 2013

Sleep spell

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Glover

Matthew

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Matthew Glover is an eclectic Wiccan who practices solitary wicca as well as owning and running what he would describe as a ‘personal book of shadows’. His website everythingwicca.org has definitely hit off since it’s launch in 2012, over the two years Matthew has seen a 12% increase in hits. It now incorporates a lot more than just a few rituals, everything from advice on setting up your altar to a handy little gadget showing the phase of the moon. His inspiration for the website lies within wanting to help beginners understand and get more familiar with the craft. “I know what it feels like to be a beginner and have no one around you to help”. As for Matthew himself, he has always been solitary and has no desire to join a coven. Making the decision to pursue his spiritual path at age 14, Matthew felt he had found out about wicca quite late, but this was down to his belief that he would go to hell if he truly let it into his life, a common idea amongst children growing up in a Christian home. Looking at this month’s prominent topic of ‘coming out of the broom closet’ we asked Matthew to explain his coming out. “Well at first, I didn’t tell anyone. I would just have two candles and some incense on my nightstand as an altar. I was only 14 at the time and I knew my mother would flip out. I told my cousin, and she totally supported it. I finally found the courage to explain it to my mother and other family and friends, and they are now totally accepting of it.” Whether you are a beginner or an expert, everyone is aware that their knowledge can only grow through research and as Matthew explained, “Read, read, read! The only way I continue to learn about Wicca is reading books!. He highly recommends books by Scott Cunningham and with the ease of technology today he explained the importance of following Wiccan pages on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. Matthew believes that as time progresses and we become more involved with technology we are able to use this to our advantage as it becomes easier for us to communicate with other Wiccans, and we can keep our book of shadows with us at all times. The only downside is that people are beginning to rely on it a little too much, “I have seen online covens starting, and it just isn’t the same as practicing face-to-face, being able to feel the energies around you. You can’t do that with an online coven.” Could we be distancing ourselves from Mother Nature even further thanks to technology?

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Images courtesy of www.womenofpower.pl

WOMEN OF POWER

“A witch is a woman of knowledge who takes a broom and sweeps to cleanse the world” -Katarzyna Majak When you think of the term ‘Witch’ you are faced with many stereotypes from black cloaks and pointy hats to green skin and large warts, but in the ‘Women of Power’ photo series Katarzyna Majak captures a different side to these stereotypes and gives us a great incite to modern witchcraft. Each woman posed with their preferred talisman and across all of the 29 images an array of clothing can be seen, showing that the stereotypes are close to broken. Majak wanted to use these images as means of ‘celebrating the alternative spiritual paths taken by women in her largely Catholic homeland’. Women of Power eliminates all of the usual visual characteristics that witchcraft seems to carry with women dressed in anything from floral blouses to ponchos. Although most of these women have a particular style, they by no means look like your generic ideas and that’s because they are the modern witches. Most traces of witchcraft, paganism or shamanic traditions were erased during the introduction of Christianity many centuries ago. Some say the knowledge survived in the subconscious, most believe this is how the pagan spirit and witchcraft survived. Majak explained that for many of the subjects it was a ‘coming out’, which as many will know is a difficult experience therefore doing it in such a strong way is both bold and exhilarating. According to what Ewelina Jarosz wrote about this project “the title points to Majak’s intention to develop and socially rehabilitate women identifying themselves with the widely understood spirituality of their ancestors, mother goddess, pagan beliefs and old sources of

wisdom which may still empower and inspire contemporary secularised consciousness by its valuable content and alternative energy. The series of photos have been showcased in a variety of locations with the most recent ending April 30th at EGO Gallery, Poland so keep a look out for future exhibitions.

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How to:

Pendulum Dowsing The basics 58

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WHAT IS A PENDULUM?

USING YOUR PENDULUM

Technically speaking, a pendulum is a weight hung from a fixed point so that it can swing freely and it is one of the most commonly used tool for divination. It is never made of a magnetic material, usually crystal, but can be a sentimental object too such as a bead, metal ball, a key etc. It is important that you remember using your pendulum is not a game and it should not be used for personal gain, i.e. gambling. Your pendulum helps your conscious self to work closely with the force of God. The pendulum is a simple tool, which allows the user to tune into their intuitive powers, acting as a receiver and transmitter of information. Pendulum dowsing can be done in many ways and has many uses such as cleansing your home of negativity, healing purposes, to help you find lost objects, to find water and to help you with decisions.

Always start with a clear, open mind but you must try to remain in a state of serious focus. When you’re ready to begin, sit with the top of your pendulum help between your thumb and forefinger of your ‘opposite hand’ which is the hand you don’t use so often. Run your other hand down the length of the chain, bringing the pendulum to a hault and end with your palm upturned with the bottome tip of the pendulum resting in your palm. As you move away your palm you should notice the pendulum beginning to move, stay as relaxed as you can and watch the pendulum, now you can begin to determine yes and no answers. Ask your pendulum out loud or in your mind “please show me a yes response”. Take your time, breathing steadily and watch for the response, repeat this again with a ‘no’ response. Don’t get too worried about the response in the beginning, this is something that takes time as you need to bond with your pendulum. Repeat this several times until you can tell a distinct difference between a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ response. Some pendulums make circular motions for yes and back/forth motions for no, but each one varies and responses can also change over time.

BEFORE When choosing your pendulum you should always go for the object or crystal that you are most attracted to - the one you feel the most connection to. Before actually using your pendulum it is good to cleanse it, a good way is to leave it in the sunlight for a full day, allowing it to catch the rays of the sun. It is then good to charge your pendulum by holding it tightly in your hand for 10-15 minutes, sitting quietly and focusing your energy into the pendulum.

ASKING QUESTIONS It is important to be as clear as possible and start with the simpler questions until you become more efficient with your pendulum. By starting with simple questions such as “is today Monday?” you will get a better grip of your pendulums responses which will help to improve your confidence.

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LIVING

PRACTICAL WITCH

A AS

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Whether you are worried of people’s impressions of the craft, cannot have your supplies at work or it is simply not allowed within the family home there are many ways to disguise your supplies in a variety of fun ways. Obviously witchcraft is not something to be ashamed of but everyone is in different circumstances. Book Of Shadows - Can be disguised as a diary with a simple cover or just don’t put the obvious ‘book of shadows’ on the front and no one will be any wiser. Statues - Easily passed off as jewellery holders, paperweights or simply decorative pieces, if people ask - they are gifts. Altar Cloths - Tablecloths, scarves, bag decoration. Crystals - Buying them in jewellery form means people won’t even think twice about the meaning behind the stone, however you can pass these off as paperweights too. Libations - Giving them to the earth is always an option rather than having them on your altar so bury them nearby. Cauldron - No need to buy your huge, stereotypical, black, metal cauldron, opt for something a little more practical and use it as your fruit bowl. Anointing Oils - Place into small perfume bottles and draw a small letter underneath so you remember which is which. Athame - Use as decoration. Tarot Cards - Place inside playing cards pack, if too big - hollow out old books, a great idea for hiding lots of things (and it looks great too). Ritual Robe - Use a silk bathrobe. Pendulum - Wrap around your wrist like jewellery. Broom - Obviously you just let it sit there as a broom, but make sure to consecrate it before ritual use if someone else uses it. There are many other way of hiding things but if you live with unaccepting family members then hollowing out books is a great option and buying lockable jewellery boxes etc.

© Pintrest

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Witchy Tip Two Write your wishes on bay leaves and then burn them to help them come true

Beltane via Mandrake

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MAGIC HOURS 64

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Just as the moon holds power over the days in which to cast certain spells, there are also time of the day that hold different types of energy. This is not to say you cannot perform rituals outside of the hours stated, these are simply your most charged hours of the day to provide more energy.

1am - The first hour of the new day. Focus is on wholeness of ones self and the balancing of any shadows. 2am - The perfect hour for ridding partnerships or friendships of negative energy. 3am - Determination, especially in matters that seem to hold you back. 4am - The hour of improved luck/ victory over a specific set of deterring circumstances.

2pm - Great time to build relationships, encourage understanding and love between people along with sexual symmetry. 3pm - Balancing matters of the body with both mind and spirit. 4pm - The hour of elemental harmony, sticking to schedules and using magic to accentuate goals. 5pm - Insight to the self and communicating with spiritual guides.

5am - Great for encouraging growth of the psychic self.

6pm - Matters of safety, protection and completion.

6am - Tenacity and perseverance, especially with something you have been putting off.

7pm - Diversity, blending or healing differences, gentle care towards others.

7am - Hope, improved insight and perspective.

8pm - Leadership, command and guidance.

8am - Personal change aimed toward the conscious mind.

9pm - Comprehension of universal truth.

9am - Assistance for others, focusing on concrete matters.

10pm - Improving the rational mind, sensibility and clear mindness.

10am - A good hour for improving personal convictions and resolutions

11pm - A great time for coping with drastic change in a positive manner.

11am - Energy directed toward transformations, which may have seemed impossible.

12am - (See left.)

12pm/12am - Commonly known as ‘in-between’ hours or ‘tweentimes’, hanging between night and day. The most active times for elemental creatures. Excellent for all magic revolving around positive modifications in your life. 1pm - Self image and personal security.

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oOoOO Self Titled EP artwork

WITCH HOUSE

“We believe in magic and we believe in shamanism, without the good magic, there can’t be any bad magic”.

IS THERE A FUTURE? I t has now been five years since Pictureplane’s Travis Egedy coined the term ‘Witch House’ in a feeble attempt to describe his music (and he is probably still regretting his choice of words). If this is the first you’ve heard of the genre, witch house is a genre jam packed with dark, electronic sounds, eery vocals and occult themes within the lyrics and the visuals of the whole scene. Egedy came up with this name in 2009 and five years later we want to look at where ‘Witch House’ is now, looking at the connections to Wicca and take a more in depth look at four of the greats - Balam Acab, oOoOO, Salem and White Ring.

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Witch house is heavily influenced by chopped and screwed sounds, dark ambient soundscapes, haunting tones and noise experimentation, creating quite a dark, futuristic sound. As for the visuals of album artwork and promotional work you will find a lot of dark obscure imagery and in the case of ‘White Ring’ you will find Wicca related items - candles, rituals, symbols, and nature. As for the artist and track names, artists related to witch house have been known to use a variety of triangles, crosses and other unicode symbols, in some cases to make their music more difficult to find, therefore keeping it more underground. Balam Acab is one of the most prominent ventures within witch house, with a very dark, perilous sound in earlier tracks such as ‘Heavy Little Things’. Earlier tracks released from the ‘See Birds’ album released in 2010 were released when witch house was at its peak and so the style of Balam Acab along with many others has changed since. Looking at his second album Wander/Wonder you can hear much richer, warmer tones, especially within ‘expect’ and ‘motion’.

self-titled EP you will hear droning atmospheric claps and intriguingly complex sounds mixed together with bittersweet vocals. More recent pieces from the ‘Without Your Love’ album released in 2013 such as ‘Misunderstood’ still continues themes from earlier tracks with a dark, broken feel. If witch house is still alive oOoOO is definitely carrying it.

oOoOO are another name you can find amongst the well known witch house label Tri-Angle Records and are known for their creepy artwork and pop/dance influence. The project created by Christopher Dexter Greenspan has, as expected, changed over the years but is still one of the stronger projects within witch house. Listening to ‘Mumbai’ from the

White ring appears to have the strongest links to Wicca due to its idiosyncratic artwork and tone. They use the usual heavy, layered synths and high-pitched glitched vocals but have some extras up their sleeves with ‘lxc999’ featuring steal drums. White ring are the epitome of witch house, they include all the features that a satisfying track of this genre needs.

Salem definitely has something extra, a dark gloomy passenger, making their sound somewhat haunting. This little extra ‘oomph’ sprouts from the dark pasts of John Holland, Heather Marlatt and Jack Donoghue, which in turn has created some strong, threatening beats and mind-bendingly crazy sounds. Unfortunately they haven’t released any new material since 2010 when witch house was at its pinnacle and nothing new appears to be in the woodwork either. When asked why they chose the name Salem, they explained, “Because of Salem witch trials, why not? I wish I were a Witch, but I’m not”. This would imply that the term witch house was coined for the dark, distinctive sound and isn’t so much related to the craft.

The artwork shows the strongest connections to Wicca - Algiz Rune, nature, woodlands, alter candles, rituals and distorted, misty filters. Founder of Disaro Records explained “We believe in magic and we believe in shamanism, without the good magic, there can’t be any bad magic”. Disaro Records claimed to help launch witch house in 2007 and so the above statement suggests that the term wasn’t simply coined due to the distinctive sounds of witch house and has underlying connections to the craft. As for where witch house is going today? Not very far, the genre has split in many different directions with the likes of Balam Acab taking creating a richer, warmer sound and Salem going quiet. Music journalist Antonio explained “Witch house is dead and gone but most of the artists have moved on to bigger and better things”. As mentioned before, oOoOO is one of the last great ones standing and will hopefully keep the newest of the witch house sub-genres alive.

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Atlantis Occult Bookshop - 49a Museum Street, WC1A

ATLANTIS OCCULT

Located in the literary heart of the capital, on the quaint Museum Street close to Holborn station, Atlantic occult bookshop - opened in 1922, hosts a large collection of new and second hand books covering everything spiritual from fairies and vampires to feng shui, meditation and healing. Atlantis is great for all your witch related research and also sells spell candles, if you need to make a last minute dash. From the outside you wouldn’t be able to predict the genre of the books lying within. Atlantis in no way screams ‘magic’ or ‘spells’ but painted in a bright turquoise coating it gives more of a feel of ‘spiritualism’. Upon entering you are faced with walls lined with tall bookshelves, low lighting and a wonderful smell of incense.

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The variety of books is very pleasing, Atlantis is advertised to sell second-hand books but the selection isn’t so large and some of the books were quite pricey. Unfortunately the store also lacked magazines based on paganism, Witchcraft, Wicca etc, but offered a small selection of more spiritual magazines. The main thing that makes Atlantis stand out from other bookshops/ supply shops is the events they hold on a regular basis. They organise talks, courses, workshops, astrology classes and more from as little as £15 per session. Alexander explained “Watkins is the best for books, I wouldn’t choose any other place to find the books I need, and that’s mainly down to the amount of trust I have in the employees there, they always find me exactly what I’m looking for”.

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Wish spell May the Goddess and God of light and love, grant me my wish and quiet my heart. I place my desire in your hands, for you to do as you will. and as I deserve. So mote it be.

From Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584 by Reginald Scot.

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The Power of the Witch A fantastic documentary from the seventies has appeared all over the Internet recently, “The Power of the Witch (1971)” is full to the brim with traditional British accents and interpretations that are still seen today, but the high pitched buzzing, slightly warped sound and overall nostalgic feel makes this an interesting watch. As many people will agree the seventies was huge for paranormal themed documentaries and so this one in particular has a very eerie feel to it. “The Power of the Witch” offers a fascinating glimpse at people’s opinions of Witchcraft in the early seventies. You will find a variety of people, even police, explaining their views on Wicca, Satanism, and even exorcism, but of course we have to remember that these people were living in a very conservative, Christian country so they sometimes put all three under the same umbrella. The most striking of comments comes towards the end, a vicar tells us of his experiences ‘in a another country’ where people had been ‘bewitched’. He believed that it was a ‘psychological thing’ and that they only suffered because they knew they had been cursed, if they hadn’t been told they were bewitched then nothing would have happened. One viewer going under the name of ‘syllogism19’ explained their thoughts on this: “In my experience most mainline clergy would feel that way. I have seldom witchcraft or demons, except to state that it was a way of explaining the real disturbances that people experience in their thinking and behavior that seem to come from outside themselves (though we now know that these disturbances originate biologically). The mainliners who do believe in demons are outside the norm and probably weren’t paying attention in seminary.” “The Power of the Witch” has some known names including Doreen Valiente (known as one of the most influential names in the world of modern witchcraft) and Eleanor Bone who reminds us that “the beginning of all magical operations is determined imagination”.

The Power of the Witch 1971

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Give back to

Mother Nature

These days you can become anything after death, an hourglass, a pencil, a vinyl record, even a tattoo! But with the Bio Urn you can now become one with Mother Nature. In a survey only 22% of people said they would like a traditional burial but 83% of 18-25 year olds have thought about their funeral and so with this morbid subject being so popular, you should definitely take a look at one of our favourite alternatives. One of the Bio Urn’s main goals is to turn cemeteries into forests and with society today growing increasingly worried about pollution and the environment we have become much more conscious about being ‘eco friendly’. Eco funerals are becoming very popular, ranging from wicker caskets to cardboard coffins. Katie, who falls into the 18-25 age bracket explained “I would love to become one with nature once again, after all the damage we have done to the earth over our lifetimes, it is nice to give something back. For me personally I will have a much more peaceful rest knowing I have helped out mother nature after everything she has done for me”. A Bio Urn costs around £61.50 and you can choose what type of tree you would like to be. The process begins with the ashes being placed into a bio-degradable urn made of coconut shell which is then compacted with peat and cellulose. The chosen seed is then placed into the urn and it is buried in the ground. The ashes help to nourish the tree and so you will eventually blossom into a beautiful tree, you are therefore giving back to nature even when your life has come to an end.

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Images from www.flickr.com/photos/onkel_wart

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Q&A with Bri Smith

1. What do you think the main differences are between traditional witchcraft and 21st century witchcraft? I think the main differences between traditional witchcraft and 21st century witchcraft is simply the prevalence. “ Witchcraft has been a large part of daily life for much longer and more consistently than we give it credit. Even in times of religious or scientific “enlightenment,” magical practices continued in the home. Fortune telling games, seasonal holidays, herbal medicine, superstitions, and many other topics associated with witchcraft have existed since the earliest written history. However, it is only in the past couple of centuries that the larger Western world has come back around to making an identity surrounding these practices, in that we call ourselves witches. The other differences would be how we organize ourselves and our rituals. Witches, by and large, are a secretive people, and we often don’t even share information with one another. We have covens and solitary practitioners (like myself) in witchcraft, and some of us are religious while others are not. I have met Wiccans, Kemetics, Hellenists, eclectics, agnostics, atheists, and a myriad of other titles who all identify as witches. We are not persecuted in the same way as during the Christian purges and trials of old, but our defenses against the outside world remain. We sometimes even come to fight one another regarding who is “right” and “wrong.” We are open to nature and the world around us, but we still keep closed off from other people. I think that’s the biggest difference between ourselves and what we think of as traditional witchcraft. “ 2. How did your friends and family react when you explained your spiritual path? My parents don’t know that I’m a practicing witch, but I did explain my path to my grandmother on my dad’s side. We share a close bond, and while she might not agree with my

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lifestyle as a whole (being a witch notwithstanding), she was actually very curious. She wanted to know if I truly believed in magic, and we got to talking about the different philosophies surrounding magic and my personal feeling and thoughts on the subject. Other than that, she hasn’t really shown much of an interest which I find to be reassuring. She isn’t worried about me pursuing witchcraft, or she would continue to question me on it. As for my friends, they all are really receptive to my faith. They come to me with questions about witchcraft, paganism, and Wicca, and I do my best to explain what I can while also being sure to say when I don’t know or have enough information to answer them. After all, I feel its an important part of being a witch to admit to lack of knowledge. It can help redirect me to reading more on a topic, and it also keeps me humble, aware that I can’t know all things and that I have a lot to learn yet. That being said, there have been instances where I needed to put space between friends and my spirituality as a whole, both in and outside of my witchcraft practice. This was especially true with Tarot readings. Most of my friends are simply excited to have their cards read, and others are skeptical. The latter of which are appeased by my assurance that I use Tarot more as a means to open my mind to other ways to think about and work through a situation, rather than to see into the future or change fate. Both are instances that I look forward to, really. Then there is the last group who become upset, once or twice I had friends get angry, with what the cards tell. I would say that overall I was blessed with a very open environment to express my faith and practice. I know not all witches are so fortunate, and my heart goes out to those who have to hide especially from their friends and family. 3. Do you find it easy integrating the craft into your day-to-day life? Do you have any handy hints & tips? I do find that integrating witchcraft into

my day-to-day life is rather simple. I might not have a set schedule for my practice, working part time and having a partner who works two jobs himself, but I do try and keep at least some magical elements in my life at all times. When I clean, a task that all of us do even if we’re not necessarily good housekeepers, I make a conscious effort to remind myself that I’m cleansing my space. I don’t need to burn sage or light candles every time I want my home to feel more at peace. I can simply wash the dishes or pick up odds and ends that have gotten out of place. If my house in some sense of order, so is my mind. I am trying to apply the same sense of daily ritual to cooking, but I’m far from a kitchen witch at the moment. I also pray when I shower or bathe, and when I draw a bath, I always include healing herbs or flowers. Even before becoming a witch, I would put lavender and sage into my bucket of vinegar that I use to wash the windows and bathroom. I bring warmth and energy into the apartment by opening all the curtains and thanking the sun for its presence, and I leave the windows wide open whenever possible. Even if its windy, raining, or snowing, I enjoy the weather just as much if not more. In fact, whenever there is a thunderstorm, I like to go out and sit on our front stoop to take in all the elements taking part (wind, water, and fire). Finally, I make a point of integrating my partner and my cats into my craft. While my partner is agnostic, he has given me his permission to pray and perform small rites in his stead. When I bless my home (every three months or as I feel is needed), I make a point of anointing my cats with herbs that are safe for them, usually mint, and my youngest cat actually likes to sit in my lap when I pray at my altar. With all of that said, the biggest tip that I can give other witches who are looking to experience their craft in every day life is to simply experience living. We all need to take a moment, both in good times and bad, to reflect on the fact that we are alive. Even if that moment is not important to anyone else, it is a time in which we can recognize and rejoice in our being.

This consideration lends to my favorite part of the craft, the appreciation of the often unobserved and unappreciated. Once I realized that, I was able to bring magic into everything I do. I don’t feel the need to always rely on complicated ritual to practice my craft, and I feel that I’m happier for my own simplicity. If others like to have set words and practices, that’s just as beautiful to me, and I admire their strong passion. 4. Could you give us a brief description of some of your spiritual traditions & practices? Because I have only been active in my practice since September, I hesitate to say that I’ve built personal traditions. I try to observe the Sabbats and Esbats, though, which I suppose can be recognized as tradition. Samhain was the first pagan holiday that I celebrated after choosing to become a witch. That afternoon, my partner and I visited the grave of a man who we only found out about through an interesting phone call I had at work. A man called the store, and although it was a wrong number, he still asked me a small favor. He fought in Vietnam with another man from our town, and he asked if it was possible for me to bring flowers to the grave of a Jack Lee Conners. We waited until Samhain and brought a small basket of apples for him along with a pot of mums, and while it wasn’t an extravagant gesture, we left feeling fulfilled. Despite the cold and unfortunate weather that evening (Trick or Treating was cancelled altogether in our town), we still enjoyed ourselves at home with family. We talked a lot about our deceased relatives, and I realized that this was how I wanted to celebrate our pagan holidays. Even if our families and friends don’t know about the Sabbats and Esbats, I still make a point of spending time with them on those days. As for practices, I think I’ve covered the basics in the last question.

As I said earlier, I really love how my craft appreciates the mundane. Before identifying as a witch, I was disconnected from the world around me. People, animals, and nature simply were there unless I needed to address them for my own needs. Now, though, I take more time to appreciate them for who and what they are even if I don’t need anything from them. I might not have elaborate rituals, but I do find other people’s means of worship to be beautiful too. We’re all so different, and while it might cause arguments at time, there’s also a creative energy that I’ve rarely seen expressed in other faiths. I’m sure there are other great aspects of witchcraft that I’m neglecting, but those are the two that come to mind right now. 6. What are your predictions for the future of Witchcraft, especially in regards to technological advances? I think the biggest change we will see in the craft is opening up to the world outside of our own personal identity. More and more, I see advertisements for small gatherings and large conventions, and the Internet has left unlimited opportunities for witches to talk to one another. After all, that’s how I came to find you were looking to interview witches, and it’s how I find answers to the additional questions my books often leave me with once I’ve finished them. People with no connection to witchcraft often ask me questions of their own when I say that I’m a witch. Education through open communication, even if it’s talking about our own experiences, is what will make the biggest impact in the witch community. We have a responsibility to the our collective identity to share what we know, and perhaps more importantly what we don’t know, with the rest of the world even if that means we won’t always be in agreement with other people. Without that, we can’t grow. That’s what makes it difficult for me to see into the future of our practice, but I’m hopeful that we can come together to make the world that much better for humanity and nature on the whole.

5. What are your favourite aspects of Witchcraft?

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Welcome to the first issue of Esbat! We aim to break the stereotypes of Witchcraft. The modern day Witch needn't be categorised under any ki...

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