The Portal #1

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P O R TA L ISSN 2052-4382

The Magazine of Magicka School

Spring Equinox 2013 Issue 1


The Inner Mysteries

Featuring the top teachers in Wicca, Paganism & Magick.

Work with magical energy in a new series by Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone

Build an Oracle Divine Deep With Kim Huggens

Meet Athene Experience the Gods and Goddesses




Teaching from the Land

The Challenges of Living Wicca

Rites, Rituals & Spellcasting

Brina Katz Editor Marcus Katz Publisher Forge Press ISSN 2052-4382

_______________________ The Portal is published by Forge Press, 1 Wood Cottages, Old Windebrowe, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 4NT (UK).

THE PORTAL The Magazine of Magicka School. Innovative & Inspired Teaching for all Magicka Students




The Portal is the magazine of Magicka School, an organisation for students of Paganism and Western Esotericism. We aim to provide educational and inspired materials for contemporary application. Subscriptions are free to all members of Magicka School, and a PDF copy of this magazine is available at cost to nonmembers. A screen-readable version of The Portal is available to members on the Members site, and a printed B&W version is available at cost to members and nonmembers through the print-ondemand service, LULU. The views and items in this magazine do not necessarily reflect those of Magicka School or the editor. All material remains copyright to the respective author and is not to be reproduced in any medium. Please do not pass this magazine to others. Non-members are encouraged to subscribe to our regular free newsletter, The Noviciate.









KNOW YOUR GODS - ATHENE by Charlotte Venkatraman


Acknowledgements & Permissions We would like to thank all contributors for making this issue outstanding, and dedicate it to all those creating magick and presenting it to the world as a means of insight into our own lives. The World is Bound by Invisible Knots - You either Speak with Honey on your Lips from the Book of Clouds, Echoing the Voice of Living Fire in the Trembling Darkness, or you Do Not. There are no half-way Oracles. All content Š Magicka School, 2013 and respective authors. All rights reserved. Transmission or reproduction in any medium prohibited.


When I heard of the recent insults directed against specific sections of the magical community, which were aired on international media (Fox News), I was naturally horrified. It was not until later that I came to realise that this event had created an ideal, if somewhat ironic, environment in which to re-launch a magazine whose mission statement is to provide high quality education to the very same people who are being vilified. By getting more actively involved in magickal education, all of us have been offered an amazing opportunity to counter these aspersions on behalf of our community.

With that in mind, I would now like to welcome you to the new magazine for Magicka School; The Portal. In keeping with our intention to showcase work from the vey best teachers/writers today, I am pleased to present the first in a series of six classes, from Janet Farrar and her partner, Gavin Bone, about integrating magical energy through the chakras and the first of another series of six from the well-known and much respected teacher/author/tarot designer, Kim Huggens, about creating an oracle – from anything! I am particularly looking forward to ‘having a go’ at some of Kim’s suggestions as, as well as practical, they also sound a lot of fun. Are you new to the Craft and looking for a Deity to adopt or perhaps a magician ready to perform Liber Astarte? For those people and other interested parties, The Portal now has a regular feature entitled Know your Gods, which offers a quick reference guide to the key characteristics of different Deities. Charlotte Venkatraman has kindly offered to run this feature and has begun the series by introducing the Goddess Athena. As Marcus and I are working to extend the teaching in Magicka School into areas of Western Esotericism and eclectic approaches¸ we are especially pleased to introduce an article by Mark Townsend, describing a momentous time in his life, which led to a unique integration of his both his Christian and Pagan beliefs. Finally, to introduce myself to the Magicka School Community, I have presented an article describing a series of medicine/meditation walks which led to some profound and unexpected realisations. So, get those Chakras spinning, throw your coloured pencils up into the air, shake your Athenian spear, open your mind – and get walking, because the all-new Portal Magazine has arrived. . . Brina Katz

2 The Portal ● Spring 2013

UNDERSTANDING MAGICAL ENERGY By Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone Introduction When we started to travel around various covens and magical groups in the 1990's we discovered that although most magical practitioners had an understanding of how to do magical work, very few actually understood how it worked. We developed an analogy to explain this: 'Most people knew how to drive the magical car, but very few knew how the engine worked.' Although many could explain in cabalistic terms what was happening, very few could explain what was actually happening with magical energy 'in the circle'. Up until the 1990's this was really not a problem but the growth of interest in magic and spiritual practice meant that it had to change. New magazines on spellcraft and an explosion of books on practical magic propelled the older generation of practitioners into new roles of 'ritual mechanics.' This was especially the case when beginners came to them after trying out a new spell they had read about only to find that it had gone terribly wrong! It was time for many of these ritual mechanics to be able to explain how the magical car worked'. For some years now we have been developing two systems for teaching those interested in learning basic magical practice; Magical Cosmology and Magical Energy Work. We drew upon Janet's forty-three years of experience as a practitioner in Western Tradition Magic and combined it with Gavin's experience as a Spiritual Healer – he has extensively developed a system working with Chakras and Auras. Magical Energy Work had also, for some years, been the basis of our training within our covens, as well as our Inner Mysteries Workshops and of course, as part of our on-line course (Progressive Magic). We felt that there needed to be at least one base system that fitted into the modern concept of magic which is by its nature holistic. This is certainly true of what we are going to teach in the lessons here, as all the levels - from physical to spiritual - are integrated into this one system. As we all learn at school, everything is energy, so what we have done is take magical practice down to its basic elements. We have used the Aura and the Vedic Chakra system as a base - but its Indian symbolism is irrelevant. What is important is that it obeys the magical laws we have all become familiar with as spiritual and occult practitioners. Each lesson (there will be seven) will be based around a specific Chakra and element; Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Ether, Mind and Spirit. We do wish to point out that the Chakra system we teach here is not based completely on Hatha Yoga, but has been adapted for use in Western Magical practice. There are therefore some differences; for example the suggested placing of the Root Centre at the feet rather than the perineum (crotch). We do explain why we have come to such conclusions regarding these changes. To help you understand how energy works in magic, healing and spiritual work, we also include the relationship of the Chakra centres and the Aura with common magical practices, such as circle casting and consecration. The seven lessons will also include practical exercises for you to use, starting with this lesson on how to open and close your Chakras. Spring 2013 â—? The Portal 3

This Lessons Chakra: The Root Centre Vedic Name: Muladhara. Element: Earth. Position: At the feet or the Perineum (between sexual organs and anus) Physical Body: The Musco-Skeletal System. Etheric Body: Physical Needs. Mental/Emotional Body: Mental and Emotional Stability – Grounding. Spiritual Body: Spiritual Connection to the Material World. Frequency (Petals): Four. Magical Tool: The Pentacle. This Chakra is the seat of the mystical Kundalini, which in Hindu culture is traditionally believed to be a goddess; a sleeping serpent who coils herself three and a half times around the Root Centre. Her name comes from the word kundala which means coiled. There are different views regarding its actual position. If the body is in the lotus position, it is certainly at the base of the spine (the fourth sacral bone). There is another view that the normal position of this centre is at the base of the feet. This makes sense to us, as it is the centre which links us with the earth. Dowsing this centre picks up energies within the earth and allows dowsers to detect what they are searching for. It is normally seen as a rosy red colour when at rest and fiery orange-red when active. It is symbolically divided into four segments or petals, which represent the four elements in the material world. As the centre is principally related to the Element of Earth it is responsible for the disposal of unwanted, impure energies that pollute the three bodies of the Aura and the other centres. It is therefore of vital importance in the act of grounding. Within the physical body it governs the spinal column. Some writers suggest that it also governs the urinary system - including the kidneys - although we would suggest that these are governed by the cleansing action of the Sacral Centre (Water), as are its traditional associations with sexuality. It does however govern physical sensation. The Origins of the Chakras and the Aura in Western Magic It is not our intention here to write in great detail about the history of the Chakras in Vedic and Yogic practice but we would like to present a basic understanding of their practical use in Western Magic. The Chakra system was introduced into Western occult thinking at the end of the 19th century by the Theosophy Movement. In India the Chakras have been known in their present form since at least 7th century; the time of the first transcription of the Vedas. An early form of the system probably existed well before this date. There is for example, some circumstantial evidence to suggest that a proto-Chakra system was known in pre-Christian Europe. The significance of the Caduceus (staff with wings and entwined serpents) in Greek myth bears a striking resemblance to the Chakra system. 4 The Portal � Spring 2013

The serpents may represent the two paths of energy, with the places where they cross representing the centres. The Caduceus is also the symbol of Hermes, who is equated in Greco-Egyptian thought with Anubis as both an Underworld Guide and Guardian of the Mysteries. This was cited by the Theosophy movement as evidence of a preexisting European system and notes on this relationship were first published in C. W. Leadbeater’s The Chakras - A Monograph as early as 1927. This evidence, though circumstantial, encouraged many 19th Century occultists to start using the Chakras. Within Western occultism there has always been the belief that mixing traditions could be dangerous. This has resulted in the false perception that Western philosophical thinking has not always readily combined with Eastern. This perception has its origins in Ceremonial Magic rather than Pagan philosophy, which has always been ready to adapt to new ideas due to its polytheistic philosophy (‘if it works, use it!’). Regardless of whether you believe the evidence for the existence of a Western system of energy points, it does not, nor has it ever stopped Western occultists from working with them. The reason for this dichotomy is that the Chakra system and the energies it represents are as real as the physical organs of the body, which soon becomes apparent to anyone who works with them seriously. We often describe this in this simple analogy: 'just because a Swiss anatomist discovered the Liver doesn't mean only Swiss people have Livers!' Likewise just because the Indian/Vedic culture discovered Chakras doesn't mean only they have them! It was this experience of their reality that made some magical orders adopt chakras as part of their magical and mystical practice, but their use was kept well hidden. Aleister Crowley and the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) used them extensively, but Crowley refers to them only fleetingly in his public works, where for example, he refers to them as 'Gates' (in his poem 'Aha!). Although other occultists of this period continued to warn against their use, including noted occultist and author Israel Regardie, it did not stop their continued integration into Western Magic. Regardie's warning was really a warning against mixing the symbolism of Chakras with other magical systems, such as Cabala, which would certainly be inadvisable. But these warnings did not stop Cabalists from adapting the idea of energy centres into Cabalistic rites, such as the middle pillar exercise. Why this adaption occurred was mainly due to the lack of a coherent body/spirit system in Western occultism. Frances King and Stephen Skinner even adopted Chakra symbolism in the form of the Tattwas; the symbols representing the Chakras, in their book Techniques of High Magic. They used the Tattwas of the four lower Chakras to represent the four elements plus a fifth Akasha (representing Spirit). They conveniently missed out the symbols for both Ether (The Throat Centre) and Mind (Brow Centre), as they did not fit into general Western mysticism. Spring 2013 ● The Portal 5

Chakras and their effect on Body Energy Chakra (or Chakrams) is Sanskrit for 'wheel' and is used to signify the idea of a turning centre of energy within the body. To a gifted psychic, Chakras manifest as revolving discs of light emerging from the body. These seven centres are normally arranged within the human body in a vertical fashion. It is important for anyone studying these centres to realize that there is more than one descriptive system. Different systems exist with different numbers of major centres, positions and functions. These range from the commonly used traditional seven, up to ten. It must also be remembered that there are twenty one minor Chakras which function in a similar manner to acupuncture meridians. We feel that the seven centre system is still the best for modern magic workers, as it clearly obeys the Law of Reflection ('As above; So below') and this is why we have decided to use them in our current work. The Chakras act as connection and transferral points for the energy of the body. It is vitally important for any student of the occult to understand that the Chakras are not objects but expressions of this flow of energy. Just as the Chakras exist in the physical body they simultaneously exist in the other three bodies which make up the Aura; Etheric, Mental/Emotional and Spiritual. This means that each Chakra exists on four different levels; Physical, Etheric, Mental/Emotional and Spiritual. The first four lower Chakras are dedicated to the elements, which we are all familiar with. The next three upper Chakras; Throat, Brow and Crown, are for the purpose of generating the three previously mentioned bodies of the Aura. This explains the system of correspondences regarding the Chakras, with each chakra having four specific correspondences relating to each level. For example, the Solar Plexus Centre (Fire) on the level of the Physical Body governs The Gastro-Intestinal System but on the level of the Etheric Body, it governs self-protection (we will explain more about this later). The result is a complex interwoven system of layered energy which is sometimes seen by gifted psychics as a web of coloured energy enmeshing seven spinning vortices. This energy does not spin straight out the front from each Chakra, it actually pours into each centre at its rear (the back of the individual) and is then pushed out by centrifugal motion at right angles to itself and surrounds the area of the body governed by the Chakra. One effect of this action is to cause the formation of what is traditionally symbolized as petals. These are interference patterns formed by the undulating energy as it passes through the Chakra.The petals, and particularly the number of petals, are merely a way of symbolizing the frequency of these patterns. This energy increases as you move up from the Root Centre, as does the frequency of the energy with the exception of the Brow Centre which only has two petals representing the left and right lobes of the Brain. In most individuals the Chakras remain in a semi-dormant state with each centre only opening fully when this action is required in everyday life. This means that normally only three to five centres are actively open at any one time. The centre of each Chakra spins in the opposite direction to its two adjacent Chakras. The result of this is two flows of energy; one positive and one negative, moving up and down the whole system from the Root Centre to the Crown, with the Chakras acting like mechanical cogs. But this can only be fully achieved when the centres are consciously opened by using various spiritual exercises, such as Tantric Yoga. 6 The Portal â—? Spring 2013

A high level of spiritual development must occur first as it will have the effect of enlarging the individual centres and therefore allowing the full flow of energy. This is of course, the mystical Kundalini; the Serpent Fire, which the Eastern yogis attempt (though only with full understanding and control) to raise through the other Chakras to bring about spiritual enlightenment. If aroused early in the unprepared, the Kundalini has the potential to be highly destructive, and we recommend those interested in these practices find a competent instructor. Visualizing the Centres To have an understanding of what the Chakras are, it is necessary to visualize them. There is a lot of confusion about what Chakras actually are, with too much emphasis, in our opinion, on symbolic terms such as the previously mentioned petals, without explaining what is actually happening. The Chakras are quite simple to understand if you visualize their dynamic energy flow. The best way to do this is to find a place with a relaxing atmosphere; one which will allow you to go into a semimeditative state while still being able to read the following: First visualize a bathtub and then visualize it in the shape of a person. Imagine there are not one but seven drain holes and place them appropriately in the positions of the seven centres (see diagram). Secondly, fill the bath with water. Imagine the water spiralling down the drain holes in a clockwise fashion (as it normally does if you are in the northern hemisphere). The level of the water in the bath of course, never drops. Now visualize that this flow alternates with each Chakra: Root Centre turns clockwise; the Sacral turns anti-clockwise, Solar Plexus clockwise etc. and so on up the body. Next imagine this process in reverse, as if watching a film backwards, with the water spiralling out of the drain holes into the bath. This will cause the spiralling to now be in the correct direction. Now take away the bath but keep the water so that you have a figure of a person made of water. Now imagine the water coming up out of each plughole in the appropriate colour of the Chakra (see Chakra Colour Chart). Imagine the dynamic flow caused by movement of each centre; the energy being pulled in and pushed out and moving up and down by the spiralling action of each centre. What you are now visualizing is the flow of energy around the Aura as it comes out of each centre. This results in a cascading flow of colour around the body. Now imagine what would happen if one centre was more open than all of the others; flowing faster than those above and below it. Its colour would flood that area of the Aura. For example, when someone is angry the flow through the Solar Plexus centre will increase flooding the abdominal area of the Aura with yellow energy. Because of this increased flow the Chakras above and below - in this case the Heart and Sacral - will slow to compensate. Spring 2013 â—? The Portal 7

The way the energy rotates from the Root Centre upwards can be different for each person. We have found that in the majority of people we have worked with, the Root Centre spins anticlockwise, resulting in the Heart Centre spinning clockwise. It should be pointed out that in our experience there seems to be no relationship between this and a person being left or right handed. Practical Exercise: Opening and Closing Chakras Chakra Colour Chart

Position in Body

Traditional Name


Root Centre (Feet or Perineum) Muladhara


Sacrum (Pelvic Girdle)



Solar Plexus (Abdomen)



Heart (Centre of Chest)



Throat (Below Chin)



Brow (Forehead)



Crown (Top of Head)



Opening the Chakras Opening the Chakras is an essential exercise if you are going to work with magical energy but it is essential to understand what opening actually means. You are not actually expanding the size of the Chakra, this only happens over time by clearing them of blockages; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual issues. What you are actually doing is increasing the flow of energy through them. The previously mentioned blockages may hinder this, so be aware that it is not unusual to find that some Chakras are more difficult to open then others. To achieve the appropriate benefits from this lesson, you will need to practice the following exercises at least twice a week until the next lesson. You will find that it takes about twenty to thirty minutes to open the Chakras but with practice it will take much less time. It is important to find somewhere quiet and comfortable to sit. The best position to sit in is the well-known Lotus Position used in yoga because it has the effect of bringing the Root Centre in line with the other Chakras. If you are not supple enough to use this position, sitting cross-legged or kneeling will have the same effect. The important thing is that you are able to stay comfortable for a reasonable period. 8 The Portal â—? Spring 2013

The first stage is to maintain a regular breathing pattern whilst visualizing white light coming into your lungs and filling your body. There are various breathing patterns which can be used but we have found that breathing out for seven seconds, holding for two seconds, breathing in for seven seconds and finally again holding for two seconds, is the most effective. It is important to breathe from the base of the lungs by expanding the stomach first and then the ribs. Continue the breathing pattern that you began with, which by now should be natural and rhythmic. It will take a while to get used to this, so give yourself time to master it. To start the next stage of energizing the Chakras you will need to have memorized the colour of each centre (see Chakra Colour Chart). Spring 2013 â—? The Portal 9

Visualize the Root Centre at the base of the spine as a red, glowing, spinning ball. As you breathe in, visualize breathing light into it. This should have the effect after several minutes, of making the Chakra spin faster and brighter. Then bring energy up from below, in this case from the floor, which will also energize the centre. Imagine the energy from the Root Centre moving up to the next Chakra, the Sacral Centre - in this case red energy. Again it should take several minutes to energize the Sacral Chakra which should behave the same way as the Root. Now simply repeat this process (moving orange energy up to the Solar Plexus, yellow up to the Heart etc.) with each centre until you reach and energize the Crown Centre. Once you have opened the Crown Centre you may get the feeling of energy moving down the body as well as up. This is normal. You may also want to visualize energy from the Crown (white/silver/gold) moving down and flooding your Aura. Closing the Chakras This is very simple to do as it is simply the process of opening in reverse. But it is important that it is done correctly. Start by visualizing the Crown Centre closing. You can do this by visualizing a shutter closing it from your vision and its colour fading away. Now visualize any energy surrounding it draining to the Chakra below and continuing down to the Root where it grounds into the floor. Repeat this process centre by centre but when you reach the Root Centre, do not close it. The root chakra acts as the body's grounding point and helps to prevent mental and psychic overload. You never really actually close your Chakras completely. All you are doing is slowing the flow of energy through them. Closing the Chakras is similar to pushing a reset button, as after closing some of the Chakras will re-open depending on what you are doing. Foods, particularly those with heavy fat content; cheese, chocolate, etc. help a lot in closing the centres down. It causes the energy from the centres, specifically the Solar Plexus to focus internally on digestion. Hence the importance of a meal after magical working, as it helps closing down and grounding. Now that you have opened your Chakras, concentrate on each centre individually. Visualise each one spinning. Did you get any feelings from any of the centres? Did you get any images form in your mind? Were any of the Chakras difficult to open, or did they all open easily? You may want to keep a record of your answers in a diary each time you open your Chakras and work with the energy exercises which we set in future lessons. Coming in Lesson 2: The Sacral Chakra; The Three Levels of the Aura; Chakras and the Endocrine Glands; Introduction to Energy Flow Exercises.

10 The Portal â—? Spring 2013

Tarot Readings on Mp3 with Janet Farrar

A well respected author on the subjects of Witchcraft and Occultism (A Witches Bible, The Witches Goddess, Spells and How they Work, and The Fools Dog Tarot Apps), Janet is also an accomplished Tarot Reader with over 40 years experience in reading the cards. She has over this time developed an international clientele, with regular clients in the United Kingdom, United States, as well as the rest of the world. In recent years, because of numerous requests for her talent, she has now started to do readings by email on MP3 with many satisfied clients. How the Readings Work After contacting Janet for a reading and making payment by paypal (credit cards accepted) at the web address below, Janet will ask by email if you have any questions. Once she has received your questions, she will return your reading within 48hrs. What you will received back is an in-depth recorded individual reading on Mp3 file and a high resolution .Jpg image of the layout. For more details and booking go to: Spring 2013 â—? The Portal 11

HOW TO DIVINE - WITH ANYTHING! By Kim Huggens In most areas of the modern world complexity is a sign of efficiency, usefulness and success. We live in a post-digital age; an age where data no longer needs to be manifested in a form we can hold in our hands, but exists purely as code which can be accessed by compatible devices. We flock to purchase the latest technology, and enjoy being part of this new, complex movement of information. Things aren't much different in the world of divination. Ask any diviner what their favourite method is and their answer will be either Tarot, Runes, I-Ching, or (perhaps at the present time) Lenormand. All of these systems have in-built and quite complex workings, which offer a lifetime's worth of study. Most of the time the most effective readers of these systems have been studying these complex systems for many years. Because of this, we may give more credence to divination by a Tarot reader, a Rune master, or somebody who casts the coins... but how much weight would we give to a reading performed with drinking straws, coffee grounds or egg white in water? Divination is simply a process (usually ritualized) by which we organize into a meaningful pattern what would otherwise be a completely random or disorganized series of events, images, words or ideas. Originally it was seen as a way to get messages from the divine, and throughout the world and the centuries there have been many forms of it. Therefore, it can be performed with any materials available to you, as long as the correct mindset is applied, and although an understanding of symbolism is useful, a long and arduous study of a certain system is not required. What is the mindset we need to divine with anything? IN THE CONFINES OF THE RITUALIZED DIVINATION PROCESS, EVERYTHING IS MEANINGFUL AND SYMPATHETIC. This is not very far from the old saying attributed to Hermes Trismegistus in the Emerald Tablet, “That which is below is like that which is above, that which is above is like that which is below...” The otherwise everyday and innocuous items we use for divination, when we use them for this purpose, reflect completely the greater universe around and within us. And whilst it is more natural for the human mind to respond to the complex, beautiful images of Tarot cards or the ancient, earth-based roots of Runes, they have no more nor less sympathy (“as above, so below”) with the universe than a bunch of feathers or a handful of sugar sachets. The mindset is key. But how do we encourage and practice it? There are things you can do every day to build up this mindset: Music Foreshadowing. In movies foreshadowing of events is often delivered by music. The lead character might get in their car and start driving, turn on the radio and hear a song that the audience knows has meaning for them. Well, when you get in your car or go about your morning routine, switch on the radio and listen to the first song that is playing. What message does it hold? How does it reflect your day or your feelings? 12 The Portal ● Spring 2013

Eavesdrop. You know that moment when you're walking down the street and you overhear a snippet of somebody else's conversation? Allow that snippet to take on meaning. Get dressed in the dark. Instead of choosing the colour shirt/top/dress you want to wear to the office today, close your eyes and allow your hands to run over the collection of suitable clothes that are your options... What colour have you chosen? Is it a flirty item, or something more serious? Is it practical? Do you like it? Allow all of these factors to give you a hint about your coming day (works better for those of us who like many different colours in their wardrobe! This can also work for smaller items, such as jewellery.) Cloud watch. There's nothing quite like engaging with your inner child during a moment of boredom, and allowing your eyes to relax on the clouds in the sky. What shapes do they form? What patterns do they take on? All of the above can be considered “spontaneous” divination, apart from the third which can be considered a form of sortilege; a practice usually used to indicate divination with lots of some kind, e.g. dice, cards, stones, bones, that are cast or chosen in some manner. In this case, the “lot” used is coloured items of clothing. Each of these practices will help you to become more confident in trusting your mind's ability to see patterns and symbolism in the most random events that occur in your daily life. So, what kinds of things can you divine with? Although you can divine with ANYTHING, there are some items which naturally lend themselves to divination, and have been used in the past. Candle Wax (Ceromancy) Light a candle (tea lights are not good for this, because the holder gets too hot to pick up) and allow it to burn until it contains a good amount of molten wax. Have a glass of cold water ready. While the candle burns, think about your question or the situation at hand. When there is enough wax, tip it quickly into the water. It will harden almost instantly, leaving you with a 3D shape to interpret. Allow yourself to see what this shape first looks like, but then take it out of the water and examine it: what others shapes does it make? Don't worry about “strange” interpretations: if that piece of wax looks uncannily like the Starship Enterpise, then maybe it is time to go boldly into unknown adventures! Photo: Candle Wax. Spring 2013 ● The Portal 13

Books (Stichomancy) Take any book, whether fiction or non-fiction (although fiction seems to work a little better) and ask a question. Open the book randomly and read the first sentence or paragraph that your eyes rest upon. Allow this to inspire meaning or insight. If you are religious, you might choose your holy book for added meaning, or a book with a religious focus (e.g. a book of prayer.) Pencils/sticks Any long, thin object can be used for this, such as coffee stirrers, drinking straws, cocktail sticks or pencils. Grab a handful, and think about your question or situation. Then toss them gently onto a surface (e.g. large table or floor). Examine how they have landed. They may have formed a shape or several shapes. Some may be pointing at others, perhaps indicating a series of events. Some may have fallen way out of the way of others. Interpret the shapes that have been formed and any connections between them. Wikipedia's Random Article The online encyclopaedia has the option to choose a “Random ArtiPhoto: Participants at TarotCon (UK) practicing with cle” (look to the left-hand toolbar). Kim’s methods using cards and pencils. What a great way to divine and learn something at the same time! Click this option, and see what the world's biggest dispenser of knowledge has to offer you. Think about it symbolically first, and then read it again. Today, I got an article about Tony Murphy, a basketball player. Basketball is what stands out for me. What does it take to be a basketball player? How does this give me advice on how I can approach a current situation? There are hundreds more things you can do to utilize everyday items for your divinatory purposes. I've seen spilled salt used, egg whites in water, sugar packets at a coffee shop tossed on the table, doodles analysed, the way a fire burns, dominoes and dice used for numerology, and more. Anything that creates seemingly random patterns, events or occurrences can be used and meaning created from it. To some this might seem as if the diviner simply creates something out of nothing, and that the methods do not yield results. However, if we remind ourselves of the sympathy and connectedness (“as above, so below”) of the universe on all its levels, and accept that there is a very good reason why your mind has chosen to perceive a pattern as one thing and not another, we can understand how these forms of divination work. Your mind could, for instance, have seen that hardened piece of wax as a baby, but instead chose to see it as a dolphin. We are directly connected to the bigger picture, and therefore we already have the answers. We just need the right keys to access them. 14 The Portal ● Spring 2013

Kim Huggens is the author of Tarot 101: Mastering the Art of Reading the Cards (Llewellyn, 2010) and the coauthor of Sol Invictus: the God Tarot (Schiffer Books, 2007.) She is currently working on a second Tarot deck with artist Nic Phillips, Pistis Sophia: the Goddess Tarot (which you can see online at http:// Kim is also an editor of anthologies for Avalonia Books, her latest being Memento Mori. You can find out more about her work at


The Inner Mysteries, by Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone, available now from Acorn Guild Press. "This book is essential reading for all, whether they have been in the craft for days or years." - Pentacle Magazine, on first edition. A look into the underlying principles behind modern magic in Witchcraft, this investigation provides an integrated training system for both solitary Witches and coven-based trainees in the form of magical energy practice and cosmology. By fully explaining the values of Witchcraft, this work makes numerous Wiccan practices approachable, including Circle casting, raising energy, elemental work, and drawing down the moon. Illustrating how Wicca is a modern, non-dogmatic, and dynamic tradition still in a state of evolution, this book also features a history of the spirituality of Witchcraft. Available at all outlets including Amazon and Barnes and Noble, etc. Spring 2013 â—? The Portal 15

CREATE YOUR OWN ORACLE! Bored of Tarot cards or Runes? Want something a bit different that is unique to you? Create your own oracle. You do not need any artistic skill for this: all you need is the ability to think symbolically, a drawstring bag, paper and a pen. Gather your materials. It is best to have around 20-30 small items in your oracle. These can be anything that speak to you, such as a piece of smooth sea glass, a few interestingly shaped pebbles, an acorn, a pendant, a crystal, a colourful button, a 20-sided die, a small alien figurine, a small statue of a Hindu deity, a coin, a piece of antler, a large and ornate bead, a piece of Lego, an old ring... They can be ridiculous or sublime, or a mixture of both, but they should have meaning to you, and ideally should be roughly similar in size. •

Sit with your items. Lay them out in front of you. One by one, look at each and decide what they might mean, or their general divinatory essence, e.g. a Lego piece might relate to the inner child, or the concept of play; however, it may also remind us that sometimes when we ignore the little things they can harm us. (If you've ever stepped on a piece of Lego, you know what this feels like!) •

Write down on your paper base meanings or keywords for each item.

Place all the items in your drawstring bag.

• Optionally, you can create a reading cloth to accompany this oracle set. For this, you need either a circular or a square piece of material, and something to delineate sections (e.g. marker pen, fabric pen, or needle and thread.)

Separate your cloth into sections. You decide how many. These sections represent different areas of life (e.g. “Home”, “Work”, “Money”) or they could even represent the twelve zodiacal houses. •

Mark off these sections either by stitching the lines or drawing them on. Make sure the sections are equal in size.

• Mark on them either numbers or symbols that allow you to remember what each section refers to.

You can make this cloth as ornate as you like. Alternatively you could create a cloth for a single, specific question from paper. •

You can use your oracle set either by choosing a certain number of items from the bag in response to a question, or you can toss all of the items gently out of the bag and onto your reading cloth. Certain items will land on certain areas of the reading cloth and should be interpreted based on those areas. Note: this is also a fun activity to do with children, as they generally enjoy making personal things and it may also encourage the development of their intuition. 16 The Portal ● Spring 2013

WALKING IN SUNSHINE By Brina Katz “All walking is discovery. On foot we take the time to see things whole.” Hal Borland I was introduced to walking by my family. Both my father and mother loved walking as did my maternal grandfather. So when I began my spiritual journey it seemed only natural that walking should become one of my major disciplines. Just over a year ago I decided that I wanted to learn more about solar energy. One of the reasons I wanted to do this was because I thought it might help me to understand more about the nature of Tiphareth (corresponding to the Sun) in Kabbalah. I was already aware of how the land, and the spirits of the land, changed throughout the seasons, but I wanted to know what changes if any, occurred during the day; as the sun passed through the four main aspects of dawn, midday, dusk and midnight. In order to achieve this, I decided to complete a series of four walks: each one the same route but walked during each of the four different times. My idea was not simply to trot up a nearby hill in order to watch the sunrise, sunset etc. I wanted, like the sun, to complete a journey. The route that I chose took four and a half hours to complete, began and ended at my home and comprised a mixed landscape of farmland, riverside walking track, a small waterfall, and right in the middle, an area of wild fell reached by a high rocky path cut into the side of a mountain. It was all a big experiment – and a little adventure. As a way of introducing myself to Magicka School, I would like to share my experience with you.

Sunset I am standing at the edge of the open fell. A path stretches before me which gains height as it curves around the base of the hill. The wind blows against my face and already I can sense darkness behind it. To my left the tall cliffs which rise from the eastern flanks of Lonscale Fell, already lie in shadow; an indication should one be needed, that night is approaching. A shiver of fear runs through me - raw and instinctual, and I understand that this is nothing more than a habit, a signal urging me off the fell before nightfall. No sooner do I recognise the cause of my anxiety than it vanishes - and changes into something else. I feel excited – I am really going to do this I tell myself. I am going to walk from daylight into the night. Darkness has a taste, I discover, which tingles like metal on my tongue - and a smell. The combined scent of bracken, water and sheep, which signifies, ‘Cumbria’ and ‘Fell’ is somehow all the more sharper now that the warmth of the day has gone. Indeed the temperature has dropped quickly; the wind funnelling through the steep-sided mountain pass, adding to the chill. Spring 2013 ● The Portal 17

Photo: Track to Whit Beck.

It soon becomes apparent that the more visibility is reduced, the more my mind needs to be occupied in a different way. I am no longer walking in the sunshine, its delicate warmth caressing my shoulders, its light revealing the beauties of the landscape. It has taken an hour and a half to reach the point where I began my narrative. A further three hours lie ahead. In order to devise a distraction during this dark solitude, I find myself breaking the walk into sections. When I get to this point I will be half way I tell myself - this point almost home. The problem with this is that none of the sections have names. The Ordanance Survey map depicts a series of un-named fords on this section of the route, which I find myself naming as I pass. The ford below the waterfall becomes Waterford, the one by a prominent willow Willowford. I notice that a new footbridge has been erected to replace the one that was broken the last time I came here and so I call this Newbridge. There is something magical about naming a place, person or event. When we name something we not only define it but also give it distinction. In the landscape through which I have chosen to walk and make my home, every crag, rock, pool and hill has a name. In this tiny corner of England the landscape has a created a unique language; mountains become fells, crags becoming pikes, pools becoming tarns, waterfalls forces and streams, becks, giving the whole area a distinction all of its own. Twilight is a strange time; nocturnal life not yet awake, creatures of the day not yet asleep. The result is unsettling and I experience a momentary sense of disquiet. It is as if the spirit of the land has become alien. After a while I realise that I am as much a stranger to these nighttime spirits as they are to me and I begin to wonder if after all, I have to earn my right to be acknowledged by them. 18 The Portal ● Spring 2013

I have now reached the high path on the opposite side of the valley. Looking down to my feet I see that the puddles in the rock are coloured pink. The sunset has begun and I must hurry if I am to catch its final dip at a place where I will have the best view. As I watch the sun disappear behind the horizon I am filled with a sense of awe - not by the phenomenon itself but by the fact that this daily event goes for the most part unnoticed. Here then is a representation of the continuous cycle of death and rebirth, the basis of all religious and mystical experience, being played out before me. I feel the need to give outer expression to this inner awareness, to mark the event not only as a physical wonder but also a metaphysical reality. Inevitably and instinctually, the words of Liber Resh, a beautiful invocation to the sun written by Aleister Crowley, comes to mind and falls from my lips; Hail to thee who art Tum in thy setting. Even unto thee who art Tum in they joy . ..

Midnight Tonight the walk feels very different for I am sharing it with a companion. Marcus has agreed to accompany me on this my second walk following the path of the sun. Although he has walked sections of the route before it was many years ago, so it will be interesting to see how he responds, particularly as the only landmarks we will be able to see are the ones picked out by the light of our torches.

Photo: The High Path. Spring 2013 ● The Portal 19

One of the first things we notice is the moon. Bright and full, it hovers above the dark silhouettes of the trees filling the sky with translucent, silver light. Despite its beauty however, and even though it is the brightest luminary in the sky, our thoughts remain focused on the sun; the sun at midnight. “What’s that beck called?” Marcus suddenly asks. We are approaching the farmstead of Derwentfolds and I laugh because as far as I know the stream is merely a tributary of the River Glenderaterra and does not have a name. What is interesting is that it is only because our vision is impaired and subsequently our hearing intensified, that we have noticed it at all. This again becomes apparent when we approach Willowford. I ask Marcus how the sound, which is thundering ahead in the dark, makes him feel and he admits to feeling a little scared. I feel a little scared myself even though I can picture exactly what it is that is responsible for the noise. 11 pm finds us slightly lost. We cannot, I realise, negotiate the steep, pathless climb to the rocky ledge in the dark. I think that the path we are following may lead to the ledge further along but I am not sure: it has been some time since I came this way. We stand in the dark our torches illuminating a map. Thank goodness I took the precaution of putting one into the rucksack. I always carry one, even on a familiar route – because you never know. Of course there is more to it than simply having a map; one must be able to read the thing also. Hey-ho this is where our map-reading course – free and courtesy of the National Trust – comes in. How proud we both are to be able to fish out the compass, align it just so and work out a clear route to our goal. As we walk along the high path, under the crags of Lonscale Fell, I am reminded of Kabbalah and its most prominent symbol; the Tree of Life. In truth I understand very little about Kabbalah itself, but I do understand how the Tree of Life symbol can be used to accurately map the progress of initiation and whilst I would never advise anyone to begin a journey through the fells without a map, neither would I encourage anyone to enter the initiatory journey without one either. Midnight finds us standing in a field of sheep. The grey, ghostly forms wander in and out of our torchlight, their eyes shining a luminous, eerie green. To our right we can just make out the vast bulk of the Skiddaw range, the mountains a dark smudge against the pale, moonlit sky, the lights from an array of villages twinkling like Christmas tree lights in the valley below. I switch off the torch and sense the night enfold me. Marcus is some way away and for a few moments I feel what it is like to be alone, blanketed in nothingness. There is an initial stab of fear followed by the very liberating realization that if I am surrounded by nothing, then there is nothing to fear. Many months later I find myself in a visionary state outside of time and space. I am enclosed for what is no more than a micro-second in black nothingness and am aware of my birth, life and death occurring simultaneously throughout time. There is a sudden pang of fear. And then the words come back to me, the words I remember from the fell at midnight and I know that I cannot be afraid of nothing because there is nothing to be afraid of. Raising my arms above my head I let another part of Crowley’s invocation to the sun fall from my lips. Hail to thee who art Kephra in thy hiding, Even unto thee who art Kephra in thy silence . . .

20 The Portal ● Spring 2013

Midday Marcus has again decided to accompany me today – primarily I think, so that he can see what he missed in the dark. Having walked the route in both semi and complete darkness, I find that I am eager to make comparisons myself. Bright sunlight makes obvious changes in the landscape but what is interesting is that my attention is now drawn to things I would not have noticed before; things that were only drawn to my attention in the dark. Walking on the high rocky path under Lonscale for instance, I notice that the puddles, no longer pink, have returned to their usual unremarkable washed-out grey. I look across the valley and try to make out the waterfalls of Waterford and Willowford. They are difficult to see from here as the sun lightens the rock through which the water flows. I find it interesting that again, the only reason I am looking for them is because I could hear them so clearly in the dark. I notice how Marcus steps away from the edge, the ‘big’ drop now clearly evident in the light, and we are both relived to see that the sheep are once again the fluffy, benign creatures we are used to and no longer resemble the stuff of nightmares! Another major difference we notice during this walk is the lack of quiet and solitude. One of the reasons that the water sounded so loud, we discover, was because there was no other noise to drown it. Today however, the land is full of sound; the laughter and chatter of other walkers, the whine of a shepherd’s buggy, the buzz of insects, the trill of skylarks, the mews of a peregrine, the bleating of sheep – and the distant sound of traffic on the busy A66; the major road that runs through North Cumbria. It is not so much noise as to spoil the relative peace of walking in these hills however. Neither is the intrusion of other hikers. The Back o’ Skiddaw fells lie at the Northern edge of the Park and unlike the more pretty and wooded landscape further South, are not so popular with tourists. Wild and bleak, this area nevertheless possesses a raw beauty all of its own and sometimes when other walkers pass by, there arises a silent recognition of this beauty, a shared communion which adds, rather than takes away, the pleasure of the walk. In fact the only time other people become a problem on this walk we find, is when one of us wishes to proclaim an invocation! Perhaps it is the fact that I have someone with me which encourages my confidence, but on the stroke of midday I find that I don’t much care if anyone else hears me or not. Lifting my head towards the brilliant sun, I close my eyes and begin; Hail to thee who art Ahathoor in thy triumphing, Even unto thee who art Ahathoor in thy beauty . . . You might think that given all of the outside stimulation that daylight brings there would little incentive for inner contemplation but this does not turn out to be the case. Now we have a clear view of the places we are passing, memories from the past come flooding back. “Do you remember how we always used to stop here for a drink?” I ask Marcus as we cross Whit beck. “Yes,” he answers, “and our son always used to make dams in the river with the stones.” Spring 2013 ● The Portal 21

Later, when we stop by Willowford to eat our packed lunch, I remember something else. “He used to like climbing that tree,” I say. “We have a picture of him peering out of the branches.” And whilst I am recalling this I am suddenly assailed by a huge wave of grief which is so strong it almost takes my breath away. This is silly I tell myself, my son is not dead but alive and well and grown into a man. But this does little to assuage the sudden realisation that I will never again be able to talk, laugh and play with the little boy he once was. My eyes fill and a cold draught covers my heart. Here again the sun has taught me something about the nature of death; that we are dying and living all at once all of the time, that we are not the same person that we were years, months and yes, even moments ago. Photo: Willowford.

Because we have walked the route the opposite way to the previous ones, it is now down hill all the way. “It’s a pretty beck,” Marcus says as we pass the tributary that we hadn’t noticed until we heard it in the dark. “Yes,” I agree, “it is.”

Dawn Dawn finds me trudging up the path that skirts Latrigg in a dismal mood. I can’t work out if this is due to lack of sleep because I have had to rise so early or whether I’m coming down with a bug of some kind. Needless to say that one of the first things I am reminded of is that I am not a morning person (I can already hear Marcus laughing when he reads this). No, not a morning person or a night time one either - long live afternoons is my main thought as I reach the viewpoint which is situated half way up Latrigg’s wooded slopes. There is a wonderful view of the town from here, backed by the lake and surrounded by fells. On a bright, cloudless day it is even possible to see the summit of Scafell Pike; the highest mountain in England. A pale, watery light has already risen from the east and I worry that I have started out too late to properly experience the sunrise. A few years ago I completed a night-time walk for charity. Approximately twenty-five adults and one child set out at midnight on a ten-mile route which took five and a half hours to complete.

22 The Portal ● Spring 2013

Photo: Mist-filled valley.

For the first few hours it rained solidly and when I noticed the first light rising in the east, I remember that along with the sense of relief, I also felt surprised. It seemed I had grown so accustomed to having to rely on torchlight that I had entirely forgotten that daylight would eventually return. I also remember the sense of achievement I felt as I realised that we had done what we set out to do: we had walked through the night into the day. No such feelings accompany me on today’s walk however as still tired and irritated, I continue onwards up the fell towards Whit beck and the gate that will lead me onto the wild fell. It is not until I reach Bridgeford, at the centre of the walk and have my first clear view east, that I begin to truly appreciate the beauty of the sunrise. The whole of the valley ahead is covered in pale pink cloud. I hurry down the path as fast as I can, hoping that the mist will not have risen by the time I reach a closer view. It is quite phenomenal in a quiet sort of way. The mist caught within a bowl of fells with High and Low Rigg at the centre, rising like islands from a shell pink sea. And above it all a pale yellow sky that deepens to blue where the light has not yet fully reached. It is not officially sunrise for another fifteen minutes but filled with wonder at the sight before me I lift my head and begin the invocation anyway. Hail unto thee who art Ra in thy rising Even unto thee who art Ra in thy strength . . . Spring 2013 ● The Portal 23

It is strange that it is on this the Dawn walk, that I receive my most intense experience from the sun. It happens at Derwentfolds, at the footbridge that crosses the beck. It is early November and as I follow the track to the bridge, I notice a thick carpet of green leaves that have fallen from the trees above. I have never seen leaves fall so quickly before. It is like rain.

Photo: Autumn leaves near Derwentfolds.

I turn to watch and see that the tree is letting go not just of single leaves but whole stems as it prepares for the coming cold. Some of them land on my shoulders and in my hair and then quite unexpectedly I am filled with an overwhelming sense of sadness. Stumbling across the bridge I sit down on a next to the river and start to sob; big, thick tears that resonate with the water tumbling over rocks at my side. And if some passerby were to ask me what I was crying for, what would be my answer? That I was weeping for nature that makes death so beautiful, that I was weeping for the inevitability of it all, the fact that every living creature on this planet must experience a death of some sort before any growth, idea, or decision can be made – because as human beings we spend our whole lives endeavouring to avoid just this. I wipe my eyes and look up. On the opposite side of the bank the leaves are still falling.

Conclusion On reflection it should not be surprising that the four main realisations I experienced when walking the path of the sun were all to do with death, dying and resurrection. 24 The Portal ● Spring 2013

I hope that the next time I have to face a death, be it a sudden change, an initiation or the loss of a loved one, I will remember that this pattern of death and re-birth is set into the fabric of the cosmos, that we are dying and being reborn physically every moment, that death is inevitable and part of the natural order of everything that lives on planet Earth and most importantly, that if death is nothing then there is no need to be afraid, because you cannot be afraid of nothing. Brina Katz is a professional writer living in the English Lake District. She is the author of Gods I Have Known, a collection of short stories that formed part of her MA dissertation in Creative Writing (University of Lancaster, 2006) and Yemaya, a short story included in the award-winning Herotica 7 collection. She has a working knowledge of Wicca, Tarot, Neo-Paganism, Thelema and the Golden Dawn Initiatory system. When not writing, Brina enjoys wandering around the mountains and beautiful landscape surrounding her home.

ADVERT Discover the cards of antiquity with the first published book in English by a major publisher on the Lenormand Cards! Although popular in Europe, these cards have been little considered in the wider world until recently, with many new decks becoming available on an almost weekly basis. Discover the real history of these 36 cards, their style and methods of use drawn from museum research by Marcus Katz & Tali Goodwin. The book can also be accompanied by a ten-week online selfstudy course with 10 1-hour video lessons with Marcus and Tali. Available May 2013 and now available for pre-order on Amazon. Spring 2013 â—? The Portal 25

JESUS THROUGH PAGAN EYES By Mark Townsend It was an adventure that brought me to a place I could never have foreseen. It is now almost Spring of 2013 but I first started testing the ground for my book Jesus Through Pagan Eyes in the Spring of 2009. Back then I was working on another book (which has only just been completed) called Diary of a Heretic. Because my previous few years had been so traumatic and disconnected, ‘Diary’ was an attempt to follow a year in my own life (simply watching and noting each experience) with the hope that I might be able to consolidate and make sense of all the mess. The muddle and confusion was partly due to the abrupt ending of my just-over-adecade’s priestly ministry within the Church of England. Here is not the place to go into that with any detail, suffice to say that I’m a foolish guy and although I always taught that grace and forgiveness were available for all, I never found them easy to accept for myself. I guess it's all a matter of projection learned during childhood and confirmed in adulthood. The trouble was that I’d become someone not myself and being a Vicar was really not helping me to be authentic. Alhough I could never in my life imagine not being an Anglican priest, it had become a toxic environment for me. When I look back I can see that we do indeed create our own stories and that sometimes we subconsciously manufacture the exact set of circumstances necessary for our growth and transformation. I once had a conversation with Druid Chief Philip Carr-Gomm where he told me that when a mother is about to give birth, it is the baby itself that triggers the event. The baby apparently secretes something which makes the environment toxic, so what was (for nine months) a place of security, safety, warmth and home, all of a sudden, becomes a place of toxicity. What a powerful metaphor. The environment where we are nurtured, supported, held, fed and made secure sometimes needs to let us go, in order to not let us stagnate or be poisoned. And so sometimes we ourselves trigger a reaction; we do something that makes the very place of security toxic! And we have no option but to get the hell out! It’s not that the environment becomes bad, evil or wrong, and neither do we. It’s simply that in order to grow - we must leave. I had no idea what I was doing when I took a risk back in June 2007 and placed my life in someone else’s hands but now I can see – clearly – the process outlined above at work. I created my own exile. At first it was utter terror. What do I do? How I live? Where do I live? How do I support my family? But I soon began to realise how far I’d travelled from my own Markness and that authenticity was far more important than earning a living within a system that was stunting my growth. B y the autumn of that year I’d set myself up as a ‘Soulful Magician’ (illusionist with a spiritual message) and had been invited to perform to various groups, many of whom I’d never have had the privilege of meeting were I still Mark the Vicar. In December I’d received an invitation to present something at the annual Gathering of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) in Glastonbury. Though still battered and 26 The Portal ● Spring 2013

bruised by the Kansas-like Hurricane I was now on the Yellow Brick Road, and what enchanting fellow travellers was I about to meet. By the time I began the Diary I’d become immersed within a world far from my “respectable”’ Anglican stable. Sure, I’d always been ultra-open minded and had nursed a fascination with Paganism for well over a decade. But now I was hooked. My time with the Druids in Glastonbury triggered an enormous change. It was a transitional moment for me; a life changing experience. Within weeks I was a signed up member of OBOD and studying their Bardic training course. I also began attending Druidic ceremonies held by two local Groves (Druid groups). For the next two years I immersed myself in various forms of modern Paganism and met and made, along the way, some wonderful friends. Meanwhile I drifted further and further from the world of (what I then called) Churchianity. I suppose you could say that, by the beginning of 2009, I’d pretty much become a Pagan, though one who still had a love for the C of E and a respect for Jesus as a person; a man not a god. Paganism had given me a language and a means of expression for some of my own natural and deeply held beliefs but they had little or no place in the mainstream Christian world. Concepts like the balance between two polarities of male and female within Deity, the notion of the earth and her creatures as sacred, the power and relevance of gutsy and gritty ritual, the belief of the Spirit (or spirits) of nature, rivers, streams, trees and forests, the feeling that spirituality comes from below, not above and that each person’s experience of the Divine is equally valid and is not dependent on being validated by a “revealed” doctrine that comes from a Priestly and hierarchical class. It was exciting and it was making sense - and in a way it felt like I was coming home. Yet there was inner confusion too. Whilst modern Paganism had saved me from giving up religious practise and whilst it seemed so much fresher and truer (Pagans seemed to walk their talk far more than the Christians I knew) there were questions. For example, I found great wisdom in the notion of many gods and goddesses as different anthropomorphizations of divine experience but I still intrinsically believed in a universal God/dess of Love. I also continued to have occasional and out of the blue “Christ experiences” over the months I wrote the Diary. To me Jesus had become far more a human and far less a god and yet there was still something about him that tugged at my mind and heart in a Mystical Christ sense. So, while exciting, it was also an unsettling period. I was caught by a fresh new experience of faith and yet not feeling like I could completely divorce myself from my previous existence as a Christian priest. And then came another opportunity. In early 2009 I received an email from the acquisitions editor at the Llewellyn publishing house, Elysia Gallo. She’d been following some of my posts on a certain Pagan blog and was interested in my story and my books. After sending her an extract of my book The Path of the Blue Raven she invited me to submit an idea for a book with Llewellyn. I was delighted of course and started considering possible themes. Of all the ideas that came to me one stood out; a book on Jesus but through a set of Pagan eyes. Over the few years I’d spend with Pagans I’d discovered that many of Spring 2013 ● The Portal 27

them (whether from a Christian background or not - and most seemed to be) had a strange reverence for Jesus as a human being. If they had a Christian objection at all, it was (in my experience) generally toward the Church, not to Jesus. As I say in the book’s introduction: Of course, the vast majority of modern western-world Pagans grew up within a Christian environment and a large chunk of them were once Church goers. I recently had the privilege of addressing a huge assembly of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids at their gathering of the winter solstice at Glastonbury, England. The audience was a mixed crowd of over 200 Druids from various backgrounds and because the atmosphere felt warm and hospitable, I decided to begin my session with a question; “How many of you originally came from a Christian tradition?” To my surprise well over two thirds of the available hands shot up and after further enquiry with regard to specific denominations, it became clear that the majority of these ex-Christian Pagans had a Roman Catholic background. I found this fascinating and since then have had countless discussions with Pagans about Christianity and why so many of them rejected it! There are many reasons, but Jesus himself is not usually one of them. Rather it is the institutional Church that causes so much grief and disappointment. Interestingly many told me that, should the Church have better reflected what they perceived to be the true spirit of Jesus, they may not have become so unhappy and disillusioned. Clearly these Pagans have a very different picture of Jesus to the one the Church usually presents. So I began working on the book with the intention of interviewing various Pagan teachers, writers and leaders and (along with my own experience as an ex-Christian within the Druid tradition) present a new Jesus, stripped of his Christian clothing; one that is able to re-connect with the many Pagans who still revere him yet do not feel able to include him within their devotional life because he’s part of a world they left or do not associate with. I wanted to “rescue the ‘divine baby’ that had been (understandably) chucked out with the church’s dirty bath water.” I set up various interviews with some of the most respected names of the modern Pagan world and also invited other revered Pagan authorities to offer essays on Jesus. To my delight (and I guess surprise) the vast majority of them agreed and were so generous with their contributions. The results were breath-taking. In fact I could not believe that the Jesus these wonderful people mused over, was strikingly similar to what I remember (from theological college days) as being Jesus of the so called Quest for the Historical Jesus (which is a scholarly attempt to uncover the real man who’s character has been obscured and smothered by two thousand years of Christian interpretation). This was supremely exciting and it encouraged me to read up on the latest discoveries of the Jesus Quest. I was right. The Jesus of the Pagan imagination is indeed more similar to the Jesus of the most up to date Quest scholars, than their Jesus is to the bulk of the mainstream church, and this was a profound discovery. Jesus for both groups (Pagan and Quest scholar) is basically more akin to being a pre-Easter wisdom teacher rather than the god-man figure of the creeds. I also discovered that the Christ of the Pagan imagination is very similar to what we call the Cosmic Christ of the mystical Christian traditions. And this is what I mean by being taken on “an adventure that brought me to a place I 28 The Portal ● Spring 2013

could not have foreseen when I first began” [the research]. In short I have found peace. I’ve found a way that I can stay connected to both the beauty of my Christian experience as well as to my Druidic and Pagan explorations - and Jesus can truly be part of both. I do not wish to confuse issues by using terms like “Christo-Pagan” to describe myself. I do not wish to attempt an inelegant intermingling of two deep traditions. Rather I wish to remain a progressive and somewhat iconoclastic Christian priest as well as a very grateful member of a worldwide Druid Order. I see no reason to choose one over the other and I see no reason to muddle them up. The research for this book took me on something of a wonderful (and daring) adventure into a world often seen as the enemies of Christ. Yet I’ve found no enemies, only fellow searchers who love what I love. The men and women I’ve met and interviewed have blown my mind with their natural and wise ideas about this man whose traditional followers have been the darkest enemies of their own people. I would even say that they’ve helped me recover my own deep love and appreciation for this remarkable first century man of vision and compassion. I close this short essay with one more quote from the book’s Introduction: The book you hold is unique. It has never been done before. It is a book full of various pictures and insights about Jesus, written mainly by those who were once seen as his arch enemies, and many of whose spiritual ancestors were hanged or burned in his name. The Wiccans, Druids and Heathens who’ve contributed to it will open eyes to a vision of Jesus few have ever seen before; one that is free from the unhelpful and often toxic baggage of religiosity; one that makes sense to the Pagan imagination. By tapping into my own personal experiences and by conducting interviews with some of the most recognised names in the Neopagan world, I have uncovered a Jesus who can be a friend to all people without anyone having to join his ‘club’. Therefore Pagans reading these words have no need to suspect an attempt at recapturing them for the Church. I have no desire to proselytize. There are no hidden agendas or ulterior motives. Rather this is a book to enable fully Pagan folk to remain fully Pagan yet re-claim a long lost friend, or perhaps make friends for the first time. Just as other great figures of the past, like Confucius, Buddha, Socrates and Lao Tzu, and modern gurus like Ghandi and The Dali Lama, have soul lessons for us all, so does this wisdom teacher of Galilee. And, like all those other gurus, his lessons do not require conversion in order to be embraced or learned from. Indeed to some his lessons, once understood, are more able to be authentically lived out within the modern Pagan world than Christendom. A former clergyman in the Church of England, Rev. Mark Townsend now leads his own inclusive and ecumenical ministry that nourishes a strong appreciation for the diversity of faith beyond Christianity, and which strives to honor the divine in all people, regardless of their faith, culture, sexuality or background. A priest of the Open Episcopal Church and member of the Progressive Christian Alliance, in addition to being a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, the author has been featured on the BBC and several other news programs throughout Britain. He is the author of The Gospel of Falling Down, The Wizard's Gift and The Path of the Blue Raven (O Books). He lives in Hereford, England. Spring 2013 ● The Portal 29

Photo: Mark Townsend

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“Jesus not only exists in the hearts and minds of the faithful, but he might also be seen as a useful point of entry for conversations about different expressions of faith, experiences of divinity, and understandings of compassion in the lives of people from many different religious traditions”. Teo Bishop, Huffington Post Discover the astonishing book edited by Mark Townsend featuring a host of Pagan Elders discussing Jesus; real, historical and cosmological, through the lens of Paganism. Available at all outlets, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Llewellyn. Spring 2013 ● The Portal 31

KNOW YOUR GODS - Athene By Charlotte Venkatraman Introducing Athene – The Warrior Goddess Shake your spear, rage against injustice! Choosing and connecting with a deity is a truly magickal journey. During this journey you may experience influences you could never have predicted at the beginning. This beautiful experience may seem daunting at first and it can be difficult to know where to start. This article introduces Athene, the Greek warrior Goddess, along with some simple ideas of how to engage with her in a meaningful way. This information is easily translatable to other deities and is intended as a basic structure from which to travel, guided by your own intuition and experience. Background Bright-eyed Athene, daughter of Zeus, was among the most widely worshipped of the ancient Greek deities (Deacy, 2008). She features in Homer’s The Odyssey and The Iliad, and other ancient Greek texts – often as a champion and protector of a male hero. Athene’s birth was one of the first in ancient myths to recognise paternity. Her Father was Zeus, the thunder God who was the ruler of all of the other Olympian deities. He had been frightened by a prophecy into believing that Athene would live to destroy him and so swallowed her pregnant Mother whole. Zeus then complained of a ‘splitting headache,’ whereupon Athene was born - fully armoured - from out of his head. The midwife at this miraculous birth was Hephaistos, the crippled God of the forge. During the birth Hephaistos helped Zeus by splitting open his head with his axe. An ancient piece of pottery depicts Hephaistos running away from the fateful scene (Deacy, 2008). Athene’s Mother was a shape-shifting Goddess called Metis, which means ‘cunning.’ It is said that Athene is combined of the cleverness of her Mother’s skill and the power of a male warrior (Woff, 2003). Despite being a virgin and refusing many offers of marriage, Athene had a son called Ericthonius; ‘of the Earth,’ who was conceived and born in an unusual way. The myth tells of Hephaistos attempting to rape Athene in his forge after being told that she liked rough foreplay. Appalled at his advances, she fought him off, unaware that some of his semen had landed on her leg. When she discovered it, she immediately wiped it off and threw it to the ground in disgust where it impregnated the soil. As a result, Ericthonius was born to the Earth (Gaia) but raised tenderly by Athene as a foster mother (Graves, 1998). Athene is often depicted in her warrior guise; wearing an armoured covered dress, carrying a spear with an owl seated on her shoulder. 32 The Portal ● Spring 2013

Photo: Statue of Athena Spring 2013 â—? The Portal 33

She wore the aegis of omnipotence, a goatskin with a scaly appearance that enabled her to cause terror in her opponents. It is in this warrior aspect that she became patron and protector of the city of Athens and appeared on the currency of the time (Deacy, 2008). Her image endures in representations of armed women including Britannia, the statue of Liberty, and the statue of Justice, which appears on the Central Criminal Court in England. Athene had a large number of diverse roles and attributes in ancient Greece. She was known as Athene promachos or ‘fighter in front,’ Athene Parthenos or ‘the maiden’, Hygieia as promoter of health and Nike as ‘goddess of victory’. As protector of the city of Athens she was Athene Polis. She was skilled in the art of war, although she did not encourage it and preferred a diplomatic solution to disagreements. She was astute in medicine and various crafts such as weaving, metalwork and pottery (Deacy, 2008). One story exists where she lost her cool-headedness (Melville and Kenney, 1986). She was angered with a young woman, Arachne, who was excellent at weaving but showed no gratitude or respect to the Gods. Arachne depicted such irreverent scenes in her tapestry during a weaving duel that the incensed Athene turned her into a spider.

Photo: Greek Stamp, c. 1986, showing Athena.

Discovering your inner Athene There are many ways to connect with the deity of your choice and often this will be a personal endeavour led by your intuition. What follows are some practical ideas on how to absorb the aspects of Athene on a psychological, emotional, practical and spiritual level, shown below as thinking, feeling, doing and being. The idea is to be your God or Goddess for a while. 34 The Portal ● Spring 2013

Firstly, consider how having Athene-like qualities may help you in your current life. Do you work with your hands? Is diplomacy or assertiveness required to improve your life? Do you suffer with low self-esteem? Think about your job, your relationships and your ideas for personal development. How would being Athene for a while help you move forward? Thinking: Read about her; there is a list of books and other resources at the end of the article. When looking for material, include the alternative spelling, Athena and her Roman equivalent, Minerva, in your searches. If you have problems with selfesteem or a tendency to self-blame, now may be the time to redress this with assertiveness training or counselling skills. Athene was known for her intelligence and knowledge; this includes self-knowledge and taking control of your life.

Photo: Parthenon at Acropolis, Greece.

Feeling: Courage in adversity, diplomacy, staying cool; these are skills we could all do with from time to time. If you get hot-headed, are sensitive to criticism or suffer with excess anxiety, perhaps asking Athene for help in these areas wouldn’t go amiss. You could encourage the process with any number of self-help techniques such as saying positive affirmations out loud e.g. ‘I can now manage anything that comes my way with a clear head’ or ‘I am Athene and Athene is me, I will practice diplomacy’! You could try meditating on the qualities of tarot cards such as The Emperor or Justice, and displaying them where you will see them regularly. Olive groves were sacred to Athene and the term ‘offering an olive branch’ reflects her diplomatic skill. It may be time to make amends with someone you hold a grudge with, or even the parts of yourself that you don’t like very much! Spring 2013 ● The Portal 35

Doing: Athene was skilled in many crafts such as pottery, weaving and metalwork. She was known to love the outdoors and her freedom - especially mountains and woods. It is often helpful to do the things that your chosen deity is known for; it allows you to feel closer to them in a relaxed way. You can adapt the activity to suit what is available - for example you could try walks in the countryside (or a city park), knitting, dressmaking and other crafts. Fencing and archery are also good approximations of Athene’s warrior skills if you can arrange these. Or you might want to visit an owl or bird of prey sanctuary or consider sponsoring a bird. You could even make a pilgrimage to Athens, to see the relics of her temples. Many museums have an ancient Greek section if you don’t. Being: Allow the energy of Athene into your life by designing a simple ritual. A degree of forward planning is useful if you want to do the experience justice. Consider her attributes along with her likes and dislikes and write them down. The ancient Athenians had a four-yearly processional in her honour (Stephens, 2009), which was characterised by athletics and the sacrifice of a goat. The goatskin was hung on her statue at the acropolis as a new aegis and a large pot of fine olive oil was given to the winner of the games (goats damage olive trees so she didn’t like them much) (Frazer, 1987). You could re-create this on a micro level by making her (you) a simple outfit to wear for the ritual. There is no need to make it out of goatskin; the simple white cloth of the ancient Athenians would be more than adequate. Another ancient practice was that of gathering dew at midnight on midsummer (Frazer, 1987). This was usually done by maidens but I’m sure one can also be flexible on that matter also. Using the standard ritual opening of purification, consecration, drawing a circle and calling the quarters you could then read a poem you made for her, or make crafts while in the circle and meditate on the qualities you would like Athene to help you with. Perhaps you could thank her with olives. End respectfully and close down the circle. I find that doing something physical after a ritual helps with grounding, so perhaps this is the time to go for a walk (and gather dew) or eat some bread and olives. Some final thoughts Working with a deity can lead to many changes within you and in your behaviour. This may also affect the people around you, whether they are aware of it or not: this is a normal part of the process. It is helpful to watch and record your dreams around this time and to make a record of your activities and your thoughts and feelings. There is no need to worry about ending a relationship with your deity as this will occur naturally as you absorb and use their lessons and move on to other challenges. I would wish you luck but you won’t need it because with Athene at your side, you will already be a proud warrior, healer and diplomat - with a witty sense of humour!

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Resources In addition to the references below, there is much information to be found on the internet using a reliable search engine. Archaeological records can be found at: Ancient hymns to Athene plus other information can be found at: The 1981 film Clash of the Titans, which was remade in 2010, shows Athene’s patronage of the hero Perseus as he slays the gorgon and rescues Princess Andromeda. The 2004 film, Troy, shows the story of Homer’s The Iliad, although it cuts out all the Olympian Gods! The hero Odysseus is protected and advised by Athene in Homer’s The Odyssey. The British Museum site has many resources including a frieze from the Parthenon. References Deacy, S., 2008. Gods and Heroes of the ancient world: Athena. London and New York: Routlege. Frazer, J G., 1987. The Golden Bough. 3rd ed. London: PaperMac. Graves, R., 1998. The Greek Myths. 5th ed. Bury St Edmunds: The Folio Society. Melville, A D., Kenney, E J., 1986. Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Oxford: OUP. Rieu, EV., Radice, B. eds., 1950. Homer’s The Iliad. Suffolk: Penguin (the Chaucer press). Rieu, EV., Radice, B. eds., 1946. Homer’s The Odyssey. Aylesbury: Penguin (BPCC group). Stephens, S., 2009. Background notes: The Parthenon and its Panathenaic frieze. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 2.01.13]. Woff, R. 2003. The British Museum pocket dictionary: Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses. London: The British Museum Press. The British Museum at: http://archre archives/0910parthenon-1.asp Spring 2013 ● The Portal 37

Image Credits Image credit: <a href=''>sborisov / 123RF Stock Photo</a> Image credit: <a href=''>rook76 / 123RF Stock Photo</a> Image credit: <a href=''>dimitriosp / 123RF Stock Photo</a> Dr. Charlotte Venkatraman has been a member of Magicka School since 2008. She has spent most of her working life as a clinical psychiatrist but has recently left mainstream medicine to start a business in holistic therapies. She has been involved with magick and tarot since childhood and can be contacted at: for a tarot card reading.


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