The Magic of Mirrors: The Vampire’s Mirror

I haven’t posted on here for a long time and would have a very long story to tell about that—in fact a whole slew of stories since stories are what have keeping me away! I started this blog as an apprenticeship, to hone my writing skills for fiction. That’s why you will find a first drafts on here and on Gothic Faery Tales, my other blog, amongst the regular blog posts. I also saw this as a place to explore my interests in magic, folklore and history — themes that also deeply inform my fiction. I want to come back to this blog and could think of no batter start than to share the research behind one of my top books.

The Vampire’s Mirror was #1 in Horror and #2 in Gothic Romance on Kindle and got several excellent reviews. But here, on the Winterspells blog, I want to talk about, not the story, but the magic of mirrors.

If you want to check this novella out, go here: http://amzn.to/OE6mmT

The Ancient Dread of Mirrors…

Blame Alice Through the Looking Glass, or perhaps Snow White, but I have, since childhood, been aware of the uncanny nature of mirrors. The mirror sees things in reverse, it may reflect what we cannot see because it is behind us, or above us, or at an odd angle. It may show us the hidden side as when we hold one mirror to our face to look into another mirror at our back. The mirror suggests hidden worlds on the other side of the glass. Mirrors can be used for spying and magician’s tricks, bending our perception of reality.

“Jack in Glass”! How could he not be a Jack being all leftwards and backwards sinsiter? And how could a doppleganger be safe?

Have you ever stared at your refection in a mirror and seen yourself morph into creatures and animals and elves? Transformations abound in the mirror.

Before glass was and silver were combined by the Venetians into clear and wonderful speculums, our ancestors looked into the surface of a lake or a dish of water, a polished stone, or perhaps, as in this tale, a sheet of polished silver, to see what others saw, but they themselves could not see: their own images.

Yet all reflective thinsg were suspect…

Though metal was a superficial thing, all metals were attributed to Gods. The surface of a lake goes deep into another realm, also largely invisble to the human eye, that nevertheless yields up treasures and food. All of these qualities were mysterious and therefoe suspect in ancient times.

Mirror Magic

I love what Rosemary Ellen Guiley says about the ancient practice of mirror magic in her intriguing article here: http://www.visionaryliving.com/2008/09/17/working-with-mirrors-in-magic-and-psychic-development/

“The power of mirrors – or any reflective surface – to reveal what is hidden has been known since ancient times. Gazing upon shiny surfaces is one of the oldest forms of scrying, a method of divination practiced by the early Egyptians, Arabs, the Magi of Persia, Greeks and Romans. In ancient Greece, the witches of Thessaly reputedly wrote their oracles in human blood upon mirrors. The Thessalian witches are supposed to have taught Pythagoras how to divine by holding a magic mirror up to the moon. Romans who were skilled in mirror reading were called specularii.”

The Vampire’s Mirror

The Vampire’s Mirror plays with the idea that the vampire cannot be seen in the mirror. This is an interesting idea because it suggests that the Vampire has no body to reflect. He also casts no shadow. Yet he is not incorporeal to those he presy upon who not only see the vampire, but feel him and are powerfully effected by him.

Since the vampire is a predator, then the mirror must serve his predation. Therefore it must be, as in Alice Through the Looking Glass, a portal through which he passes into the victims workd and through which the victim may pass into his. The mirror can also be used as a means of enchantment.

In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the mirror is aligned with Vanity.

Sins of Vanity and Temptation

 

“Giselle wouldn’t call herself a thief, but like a magpie she was pulled toward bright objects: jewels and bangles, rings and beaded sashes, embroidered reticules and fans. The mere sight of a pair of earrings lying unattended on the dressing table would set her fingers fluttering to enclose them, secretly, in the palm of her hand, to be nonchalantly dropped in the pocket of her apron. Only cleaning up, she’d tell herself. My Lady shouldn’t leave valuable things lying around like that.”—Alyne de Winter The Vampire’s Mirror

Thieving creatures like magpies and crows love bright shiny objects. Something about objects that give off light associates them with the Devil. Perhaps because all the Devil’s works are but counterfiets of God’s Creation.

The Hero of this tale, Stefan, is unable to resist the lure of the vampire’s mirror. His beloved Analise grow enraptured with her own reflection in the glass, but also sees the vampire’s world on the other side. She sees him and he sees her….

 

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The Transformation of “Witchcraft”



I came of age in the 1970s. Those were the early days of the feminist movement. I always loved femininity, so the idea of becoming a miniature – (and the was the word they used) man had no appeal foe me.  I was always a rebel and wanted to be seen as a realm person, having equality with men, but I did not want to be one. I was also always very drawn to the moon. I was a natural clairvoyant and telepath, and artist and visionary. Of curse back then there was not really any language for those things, especially in traditional New England. I had to come to the west coast to find put that I “wasn’t really from here.” and that I ” shouldn’t try to fit in.”

In the 1980s the Women’s Spirituality Movement emerged. I have since learned that most “movements” are concocted by socila engineers to promote their hidden agendas and that indeed the feminist movement was a CIA psy-op designed to get women  into the workplace so they could be taxed.  But since I had to deal with this movement, spirituality resonated with me much more that any corporate ambition. I was working class so that was all Greek to me.

The books were pretty good too. The Jungian things, books like Moon Moon by Anne Kent Rush produced in those hand made 1970;s hippy style paperbacks, books like Margaret Murray’s God of the Witches, and especially Dione Fortune’s Sea Priestesss. I had also studied Surrealism in art school and read about the girl friend of one of the famous painters or poets…hmmm. I think Paul Eluard, describing his girlfriend as mysterious, in the garden at night, a witch. These works resonated with me and my natural affinity to nature.

I grew up in nature. My playground was the woods, exploring the woods, discovering wildlife, reading fairy tales, dressing in my mother;s cats off clothes, pretending to be otherworldly among the trees, at the woodland lake, in the meadow with the ancient stone walls. Woman as sibyl, as shamaness, as fairy take witch had a great appeal for me. I was not alone in this. We all grew up much closer to nature than people do now despite their “green movement” which isn’t really green but corporate. The forest was my refuge and my healer, a place of magic.

As a forest person, I’d always been naturally attracted to Druidry. The White Goddess by Robert Graves sealed that resonance for me.

Over the last 20 years a very dark strain has entered in. Via heavy metal music, horror films,  books. Satanism has replaced the lovey celebratory nature of the seasonal rituals and “witchcraft” seems to be deteriorating into the evil that our Medieval ancestors  feared. Perhaps even then the art of the wise woman, the healer , the shaman, the cunning man deteriorated into evil, just as the pagan religions fell into orgies of human sacrifice and war.

This development has been extremely distressing to me. I do not want to be associated with this darkness. When I played Cameron / Babalon in Babalon in London, I did it as a creative project ( I had been an actress at one time). I had no idea who jack Parsons and Marjorie Cameron people were. Playing the Babalon roletwas fun, but as I hate war, I was disturbed at the Jack Parson’s excitement invoking “Force and Fire, my friend, Force and Fire” as the most desired reality in the Aeon of Horus. I never liked Crowley and still don’t. I am not a destroyer, but a preserver and creator. I feel I’ve spent my life watching everything I love being destroyed.

Now, I feel the old mythopoetic path of witchery is being destroyed. This probably has more to do with why I don’t write to this blog any more than anything else. These ideas work great in fiction, so that is where I will explore these themes. In fiction light and dark can dance without raining bombs on innocent people in sacrifice to some awful un-God. The theme of human sacrifice haunts us all because it is in our ancestral memories, but frankly it is the devil in the psyche that Christ sought to redeem so that it could end forever. The whole thrust of Christianity is to raise consciousness to a high vibrational level, thereby starving the dark lords and escaping their clutches. This is why they hate Christ. I never hated Christ. In fact, before I lived in London, my witchcraft was solidly aligned with the Virgin Mary.

Anyway this is my little rant. I wish for all my readers who are drawn to Malifecium that you see the error of your vision, that is it is a form of demonic brain washing manufactured to bring you down to the lowest common denominator. It backfires. It will not feed you.

The Wicca religion is filled with beauty, but one must always know that the God it celebrates is the Devil. It doesn’t have to be, but it seemd to be going more and more in that direction. This is the Being that is being uploaded into the ethers now. Not a nature God, or joyful, fertilizing spirit, but something evil.

Maxine Sanders even writes about it in the opening to her autobiography, Firechild describing a Druid ritual at Stonehenge in 1968:

“The ceremony went on until the killing of the old king when, after a few moments of dramatic knife waving it became apparent that the play acting was taking a sinister turn. Alex ( Sanders) was suffering sincere but blunt jabs that were trying to penetrate the beautiful, luckily thick, robes he was wearing; there was terror in his eyes and panic in his voice. The normally sedate priests and priestesses were screaming for the lifeblood of the old Oak King, the king of the witches, my husband…. This was witchcraft!”

So it was spelled out even then. I am curious about what you think.

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Where Have I Been?

News at Least

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When I started this blog, I wasn’t writing fiction like a lunatic as I am now. I didn’t have my Grail Keeper’s Tarot coming out.

It is scheduled for December 2012 in book form. Like an art book.

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My real love is storytelling, making stuff up and writing about magic and my experiences with it in fictional form. When I was asked to write a memoir, I tried, but decided to, in the end, to decline. there were lots of reasons, but one of the big ones was that I wanted to save my most supernatural experiences for my fiction. Didn’t want to use them up in one book.

Over the summer, I wrote lots of short stories and all of them found publishers. I even got paid. I wrote two screenplays and continued to edit and revise two novels, The Roses of the Moon and Rosewolf. I have excerpted both of them on my other Gothic Faery Tales. Thus has blogging languished.

Plus I have to work the day job.

I have also gone through changes. It would take many blog posts to describe these changes. Some of my new thoughts and insights would be very controversial in this niche. I consider shutting down the blog and re-publishing the posts in books form, making them more complete and available on e-reader formats.

I do have an Amazon Kindle page and three stories uploaded on there.

Go to Kindle, scroll down to Books and type in my name: Alyne de Winter.

All are priced at 99 cents.

At this point I have : Roses, Briars and Blood: A Gothic Re-telling of Grimms’ Briar Rose

Reflection of Beauty: Inspired by Beauty and the Beast and the film La Belle et la Bette by Jean Cocteauand a contemporary Paranormal Romance: Portrait of a Vampire.

There will be more. I’d love if you would go there and read them and write some great reviews! I do work hard. I would love to know if those stories are as enjoyable for you as the blog has been.

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Four Quarters of the Moon

Four Quarters of the Moon

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Although my soul resonates with the old Night Religion, I am not Wiccan. That is nothing against Wicca, merely my own preference to stay free of group-minds. I have certainly learned a lot from Wiccan teachings over the years, those that have been available to the public through books and things. Back around 1980, I found many of the early witchcraft books very inspiring, such as The Spiral Dance, The White Goddess, The Sea Priestess, etc.  There was very good one long out of print called Moon, Moon. One of the primary figures that fascinated me was the Triple Moon Goddess.

One of her most evocative images was as a row of three identical mothers in peaked hoods carved in stone on some ancient Roman wall. These three mothers are primal. I later discovered the concept of the Triple Moon Goddess: Maiden, Mother and Crone. I don’t recall, or don’t remember, the origin of this idea, but it was everywhere. As a sky watcher since childhood and a moon lover, this symbolism just never felt right. Clearly, in my original, un-indoctrinated,  mind, the moon did not have three phases, but four.  Somehow, like the famous Durer etching of the “Three Witches”, the obvious four had been reduced to three and, despite the obvious presence of the fourth figure, this mistake continues to be made. ( see my post Four Witches, Three Graces, or Something Else). The old academic mind  has seemed to be entranced by the Three Graces, the Three Muses,  the Three Fates, the Norns, to a blinding degree. Why do they ignore the fourth? What are they afraid of?

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I rebelled against mainline Feminism, hanging on to my femininity at all costs. Not only did I enjoy embodying that quality, I knew the inherent, soulful power of it. I was actually frightened by the idea of giving that up to become to a kind of imitation and therefore lesser “man”, for that could only lead to drainage of the woman’s wild soul. In those days the alternate path was made available through “Women’s Studies”. Under that umbrella was the Women’s Spirituality Movement where, in the bookstores,  the ancient mythologies of the world could be found. There I found my elders, the Grandmothers who, if I sifted through the pop-ideological nonsense, I found keys to the deep knowing.

Clearly the moon has four phases: Waxing Crescent, Full Moon, Waning Crescent, and Dark Moon, wrongfully called the New Moon. The term New Moon more accurately describes the slim first crescent as the moon re-appears in the sky after three nights of darkness. This is Diana’s bow.  (The varying iconography of the Goddess Diana is worthy of another blog post). It seems the Dark Moon is being left out. Perhaps it is because it is the Black Moon of Death.

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Back in the 1980s “Women’s Mysteries” were so-called because no one ever talked about things like menstruation which is our distinct connection to the moon. Womanhood was equated to giving birth. We were meant to represent fertility only in the most active stages: either being the Maiden in preparation for conception of  children, the Mother, pregnant and nurturing, or the Grandmother, or Crone (another mis-applied term) taking care to guide the younger ones. These are beautiful concepts, but by leaving out the Dark Mother — the real Crone — the ancient Old One — does not protect us from the disturbing subject of death, rather it cuts us off from the natural cycle of Life, Death, and Re-birth. It severs us from our souls.

There may have been a hidden agenda as well in hiding knowledge of this fourth phase of the moon that has to do with the Dark Side of the Moon. There are two issues here.

1: Denial of the Dark Moon is denial of the Dark Predator in the psyche. By keeping our inner darkness unconscious, we remain children ( as Patriarchy wants us to be) Naive and easy prey to externalizations of the evil force. By recognizing and owning this wild creature within, we are empowered by it, able to fight and defend ourselves and those we love like mother bears. we also earn how stop pushing, to let go, to rest, to allow rejuvenation and rebirth, safe in the silence of the Dark Mother.

Esoterically the Moon has always been considered to be the gateway of souls falling from Heaven to the Sub-Lunar atmosphere to enter a quickened womb to be born again on earth. This purpose is that of the life-giving phase of Waxing to Full Moon that is the sign of the Fertile Mother.

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Spirits of the Dead by Kieron Rhys-Johnson

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2: There is an esoteric planet behind the moon, at the Dark Side. This is called the Eighth Sphere, portal to the realm of the dead.

This Eight Sphere is a tricky issue, for it is said that it is a realm of hungry ghosts, or demons. The Women’s Spirituality Movement of the 1980s slipped into the larger New Age Movement ( all these “movements” crikey!) so easily that almost became synonymous. (As a born clairvoyant, I was drawn into this “movement” against my will as I knew my abilities had nothing to do with any commercial/ political “movement” but were a natural condition of my soul. Clairvoyance is Seer-ship. It does not depend on spirits to see into the Unseen, but are symptoms of an awakened Inner Eye.) The job of the New Age was partly to seduce some people into becoming dependent upon spirits by joining the ranks of Channelers and Trance Mediums. ( I was warned against Mediumship very early on) These methods of “communicating with the dead” lead directly into contact with that Eighth Sphere, home to the the Shells  and what Qabbalists call the Qlippoth. These things want your soul.

I will not elaborate further on this, except to say that the two are Not the same thing. In the esoteric realm it is so important to get the symbolism straight because symbols are keys to the psychic core. They effect you in subtle ways which is one reason why so much of this stuff was, until very recent times, kept secret.

Secrecy cuts both ways, of course. My goal is enliven Soul.

Christian Influences on Our Perception of the Moon

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I just want to share a fragment of my forthcoming book, The Grail Keepers’ Tarot, to illustrate an important junction in how lunar, and therefore female and fertility symbolism may have come to be manipulated for propaganda purposes. It comes under my description of Trump number 18, The Moon, depicted in my tarot deck as The Three Maries of the Sea.

“The image of the Three Marys of the Sea may have its roots in the pagan Triune Goddess of the Moon, or the Three Fates—-Spinner, Weaver and Cutter of the cord. The moon and the sea are of course inseparable, for the tides are ruled by the phases of the Moon. The introduction of the dark-skinned servant, Sara the Egyptian, suggests the hidden presence of the fourth lunar phase, the dark moon. In the old legend, the Three Marys threw Sara overboard, but a raft took shape beneath her and she was saved. On a symbolic level, this cruel behavior is early evidence of the Christian tendency to fear the hidden side of things, things that only come out in the total darkness, and move at the edges of consciousness, banished deities like Sara, who are yet saved by the invisible ones. Many of the Black Madonnas of France and Spain are associated with the hidden Sara of the black moon.”

Sara is worshipped under ground, in a cave, a place reserved in the ancient world, for the dead.

This is not glorify death, or to encourage a Death Cult. Not by any means. Nihilism leads to all kinds of abuses and has to do with that Eighth Sphere. But to deny the existence of that fourth, Dark Moon, is to flee the very cycles of life that lead to our deepest natures, our courage and maturity. Denial of this dark makes perpetual children of us. The Ancient Mother is ultimately our teacher and protector.

Those who disagree with me are free to comment. This is a deep topic, prone to dogmas and worthy of debate.

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Witchblood


A little poem I found scrawled in the convolutions of my brain.

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Leaves by frahnkee

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Witchblood

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Does she love the half light,

the oblique mirror,

the sheen?

Are her fingers,

thrown against the white sky,

rune-like?

Is she always listening for

bells and

sighs,

rustling footsteps

on the leaves?

Does autumn move her,

fire and gloom,

a winter white lover

holding secrets

under the black soil?

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Within the hollow tree

she stands.

Knowledge trickling

sap-like

down the vision

is not apart

from nature

but is in all things

that carpet

the earth.

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Two Ravens Dream

Significant Dreams

Klimt

Life Cycles and Numerological Symbolism

Occasionally one has a wildly significant dream that may hold value for others. I had this one this morning, full of archetypal symbolism.

Numerology tells me that 2010 was a 9 year for me. The end of a cycle. Time to say “Goodbye” and make room for new things. Make sure to visualize exactly what I want, and how I plan to make it happen for 2011, my number 1 year.

My birthday came in late January.  I did not feel renewed. Rather I have plunged inwards. Been very quiet, had writer’s block where every sentence I wrote sounded like a clunker. I broke through that a bit, then this morning, I had this dream.

Dream — March 9, 2011

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I am in a school, a university. A young man has been in causing trouble. 2 incidents cause minor concern, but I can’t remember what they were. Then the man shoots another young man in the head, just above the ear. It is all over the news.

I go into the restaurant side of the school. It is darkish, like a night club but there is no music. I rush in to get some papers out of a desk. I find two wooden ravens—one 3 dimensional and the other flat and carved in the style of the Salish tribes. The papers are messily folded up. The top one has blood all over it. I ask the host at the desk how it feels to be there after such a terrible incident. He and others say it is terrible. A sense of foreboding fills the atmosphere, a threat of death.

I leave that restaurant with papers and the two ravens. I take them nervously into a large classroom that looks like the cafeteria at Worcester State College (where I went a long time ago), but rather than tables, the room if full of children’s school desks. I want to save the ravens but cannot carry them. I must keep the papers. To my right here are big windows that let in lots of white light. I find a desk beside the window, and decide it is mine. I lift the lid and put the ravens into the back of the desk, where the pens and pencils are usually kept.  They are very tactile, wood painted black, old and handmade. I am not sure how safe they are in the desk, for might not really be mine, but I don’t let it worry me too much.

I wake up with a sense that the cycle is finally complete. Several story problems ( my fiction and a screenplay I am re-writing ) are solved all at once. New ideas are being downloaded. I don’t know what else will come to life in the next few weeks but writing is bound to be great.

New Year begins with Aries indeed. Even the moon has been passing through Aries. Uranus, my Aquarius sun sign ruler, is in Aries. The first growth of life in Spring is at hand.

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Ron Victor LaRochelle

Alchemy

Since I discovered Alchemy via Carl Jung’s famous work in the late 1970s, I have described my life to myself in Alchemical terms. The raven fits perfectly with the end of a cycle, a 9, number of the Moon, and the Alchemical phase of Nigredo. I’ve been through this before, but this time, the ravens are inanimate, toys that I can put away in a  child’s desk. They are handmade, natural human creations, though for the Salish tribes, Raven is the Trickster God. What does it mean that the God of the Land on which I live, the Northwest, has been reduced to a piece of black painted wood? Perhaps it is a talisman, though even that is put away.

I’d like to think it means that I no longer have to fear God’s  (Saturn’s ) wrath. That the darkness is no longer a threat. The blood on the pages of the manuscript was spilled turning my personal pain onto art, just as the ravens have been made into art. The man shot in the head symbolizes the necessity to get out of one’s head where one is firmly placed by the university, or formal education. That the others in the dream are men is perhaps a symbol of the left-brain world, the intellect vs.  intuition and feeling.  The fear of losing that head-space is a fear of death. Perhaps.

The Alchemical phase after Nigredo is Albedo, symbolized by the white light at the window. This is the phase in which we confront the opposite sex within, and move towards the reconciliation of opposites. Perhaps that is what all the young men are about.

I hope all of this means I am free to think and create from a pure place. I hope it means new adventures. Its been so quiet the last year or so as I strive to complete my old projects. Such a long period of retreat has been unusual for me. I am ready to leave the nest again

Spring: Benjamin Scalvenzi

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Ogham: The Mysterious Language of Trees: Alder

Ogham: The Mysterious Language of Trees: Alder

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Witches Wheel

Alder, alder, tree of the Faerie King

Who rises from the Underworld waters in Spring;

Raven bedecked, and oracle crowned.

Cone, leaf, and blossom, new life shall abound.

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Fearn (farin)

There is powerful poetry in the succession of trees, for the death dream of Willow in February is dispersed by the return of the Alder in March to summon the greenwood awake.

Alder springs from the watery places that are the interface between the mortal world and Fearie. The Alder tree is called King of the Waters. His red inner bark, and purple buds display his royal status. He is  connected  to two other water loving trees. The Queen of the Waters, Willow, and the Lady of the Woods, Birch. White Alder looks very much like Birch, suggesting a sibling relationship; Birch stands at the threshold of Winter, as Alder guards the gateway to  Spring.

Anyone who has walked in a young wood will find the Alder as straight and densely packed as troop of warriors. In the Gaelic battle of the Trees, Alder was said to fight most fiercely. Small wonder the Celts made their  battle shields of Alder wood, for despite its softness, it was imbued with the essence of the brave Faerie King. Alder also represents the Wounded King. When he is cut, his wood turns  red as blood. Reflected in the waters, these wounds may appear to be  blood spilled forth as a sacrifice to earth, guaranteeing the resurrection of all  living things.

Alder is the only deciduous tree to have cones as seeds. As we know from the Greeks, the pine cone represents the pineal gland, seat of vision and communion with the Divine. Dionysis  carries a staff with a pine cone at the tip, emblem of masculine fertility. Alder cones grow in a spiral pattern, symbolizing the role of male of fertility in the cycle of death and rebirth.

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Bran the Blessed

The famous Irish warlord, Bran the Blessed takes the Alder as his special tree.  He is another aspect of the Faerie King, Lord of the Underworld who springs up to the surface world with the strengthening of the light.  Alder is called The Shining Tear of the Sun. This image suggests  the rising sun reflected in water, inspiring a vision of the golden oracular head of Bran coming up from the Underworld.  Ravens attend on Bran.  Raptors that thrive even in winter, ravens carry messages from the dark realms into the light. The sacred Head of Bran speaks true poetry: Death conquers all; there is no death.

Because of its associations with Bran, the Alder is sacred to poets and singers, which were synonymous in ancient times.  Mortally wounded in battle, Bran  prophesied the events that would follow his death. He then told his men to cut off his head and carry it with them. Like the alder wood, it never decayed. They carried Bran’s head to Harlech where is sang for seven years. They carried it to Gwales where it spoke prophecies. They brought it to London and buried it under the White Mount, site of the Tower of London, to protect England from invasion. If not for the hubris of King Arthur digging the head of Bran up, it would still be there. Yet the ravens remain to sound the alarm.

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Fertility

Alder has another aspect of the Between.  He bears female catkins. These attract caterpillars that spin cocoons and re-emerge as moths and butterflies. Darkness to light, death to rebirth once more. Butterflies attend the King  by day. Moths keep him company at night. Alder is the foundation of magic—-transformation of the world, and of the self are in his power.

So primal is the power of trees that Irish lore says the first man was and Alder and the First woman a Rowan.

Alder is fertile and generous.  Though soft, he has an oily bark making him resistant to water and fire.  Therefore pilings for lakeside houses and docks, boats and even wooden shoes have relied on the wood of the Alder to last. He also gives many colorful dyes. Red, purple, yellow, brown, and black. Dye production and spinning of cocoons make Alder sacred to the Weaving Goddess, who also attends upon the Wounded King in the Arthurian Legend. He feeds many creatures. Bees love his flowers, grouse eats leaves, buds and seeds, rabbits chew his bark.

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Alder Healing:

Alder bark is prepared for medicinal use by carefully scraping off the dead outer bark and using the green, living tissue underneath. Alder bark can be simmered in water to make a wash for very deep wounds, rashes, and burns. The leaves and bark are simmered into a bitter tea for tonsillitis and fever. He helps with diseases of damp, relieving joint pain and inflammation.

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Alder Working:

March is a time for making spiritual decisions. Prophecy and divination rites come in handy for this., assisting your intuitive processes and abilities. Alder flowers and twigs are used as charms  in Faerie magic. Whistles made out of Alder shoots call upon Air spirits. It’s an ideal wood for making a pipe or flute.

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Our hopes and dreams for the New Year can be manifested in the Alder time. Alder grows quickly, so focus on  things that might be stalled. Use this bounding new energy to resolve old disputes and more forward into the new.

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Magical Correspondences

Ogham Name: Fearn

Letter: F

Tree: Alder

Deities: Bran the Blessed, Faerie King, Astarte and Tammuz, Phoroneus inventor of fire

Bird: Raven

Use: Gateway to Faerie, Divination, Protection, Healing, Musicianship

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Ogham: The Mysterious Language of Trees: Willow

Ogham: The Mysterious Language of Trees: Willow

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David Lewis Baker

Witches Wheel

Willow, Saille, Willow,
Oh silver drenched tree!
Long leaves fall on water
Rippling in moonlight
Ladies who bend
On the threshold of February.

Saille ( Sahl-yeh)


Charles Krebs

Moonlight on willow is a mysterious sight, especially on the threshold between Winter and Spring when the bare trunks cast crooked shadows over the frosted grass like spirits coming through the mists of the Otherworld.  The voices of the Faeries can be heard in the rustling of the willow branches, breathing, into the ear of the poet, their songs.

The willow is a remarkably feminine tree. It thrives near rives and streams, lakes and ponds, it shimmers in the moonlight, and provides shelter under its umbrella of graceful branches. Uniquely beautiful and mysterious, the willow invites entry into another world within the compass of its branches. If you have ever been inside a large weeping willow then you know how instantly the outside world ceases to exist as silence and diffused light encompass you. It is this quality of the willow that makes it one of the first trees of Faery.

Pagans have always  associated the willow with the Triple Goddess of the Moon. Sacred to Hekate, Goddess of the Dark Moon, the willow stands as the gateway to the Realm of Shades or Death. The weeping of the willow mirrors the grief of those left behind, as was the Greek poet Orpheus who, armed with willow branches, entered Hades and returned, not alas with his beloved wife, Euridyce, but with the gift of poetry.

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Tree of Poetry

As the “witch’s tree” tree of poetry, transformation and healing, willow is connected with the Bright Brighid whose Day of Initiation is February 2, Candlemas, a Festival of Lights. In the Pagan mind, death is also an initiation, a transformation not to be feared any more than the peace found under the branches of the willow tree under the full moon when one feels transported to a strange and beautiful place.

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The willow tree reflected in the waters brings moon magic to earth, creating a numinous, visually confusing, liminal effect. This may be why it the tree of romantic love, for what can be more difficult to interpret than the varying faces of love in the throes of deep attachment? Valentine’s day is also in February, suggesting that Love is the fulfillment of the Light celebrated at Candlemas.

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In some traditions, willow is the thirteenth tree. This may fit it in at the leap year, the liminal 29 day of February, that was the modern concession to the natural rhythmic sequence of the lunar year.

Willow Working

Spell

Throw your shoe up high
into the branches of a willow tree;

If he branches catch and hold your shoe,
You soon will married be.

The Witch’s Tree

The magical properties of willow are as numerous as its medicines. Faery magics of enchantment, wishing, romance, and divination under the moon are enhanced by the presence of willow. Its powers are beneficial, protective, nurturing, inspirational, joyful, and peaceful. This throws a provocative light on its role as tree of mourning, for how can death be evil when couched among so many life giving powers? Rather, willow traditionally inspires courage, and helps one overcome the fear of death. Willow is flexible, fluid, resilient, and strong. It focuses intuition, induces trance states, attracts Faeries and other spirits. It eases transitions, especially into the unknown.

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Because of the many medicines dispensed by the willow, it was much sought after by Cunning people for healing purposes. As a feminine tree connected to the moon, willow bark provides pain relief for menstrual cramps and child bearing. The gemstone for willow is the blood-red carbuncle. This is another image that evokes women’s mysteries of bleeding and fertility. Burning willow lends energy to healing magic.

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Willow wands are excellent for moon magic, and its wood is good for making magical harps, accompaniment for for poets for ancient times.

Divination by Willow:

Willow increases psychic vision into the watery Otherworld Realms under the waves. Dreams, and premonitions are stirred by willow’s influence on the deep subconscious mind. Just being near a willow tree can induce trance states in which prophetic oracles can be mediated from Faery into our reality. Divination by smoke from a willow fire while passing a willow wand through it to disturb its shapings, is a powerful divination technique for those with the second sight. Scrying into water where willow is reflected on nights of the full moon, is venerable tradition.

Awakening of dormant powers and emotions, pay attention to dreams. Love is n the way. Positive transformation from one way of life to another, The need to be flexible an adaptable. Relief from painful situations. Encounters with Faerie, or  the deceased.

Magical Correspondences

Ogham name: Saille
Letter: Z
Tree: Willow
Deities: Brighid, Fand, Sinend
Bird: Hawk
Animal: Hare, Bull
Color: Haze
Use: Wands, Psychic Divination, Fertility, Pain Relief

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Ogham: The Mysterious Language of Trees: Ash

Ogham: The Mysterious Language of Trees: Ash




Ash, ash of the long strong twigs
You timber creation!
Branches of ash trees gather new light
In the deep, dark mazes of January snows.

Nion

The ancient Ash, bare branched in winter, is a witchy sight. Its gnarled branches and tangles of twigs seem to be holding secrets, perhaps spells cast up from its roots by the Three Fates who, in the perpetual night of the Underworld, weave the threads of destiny. This is the power of World Tree, Yggdrasil, the Ash.
It was from the branches of the Ash tree that Odin hung himself for nine days and nights to gain the power of the Runes, or magical speech that could harness and transform Fate according to his will. For is it not true that when something is named, and especially when it is written, that it comes within our power to control it?

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As for the Ogham, the Ash, bare in its season of mid winter, is like a great scrawl, signifying that outward life is unformed as yet, that the great energies emerging from below the ground, are not yet set into the patterns of things to come. This leaves them vulnerable to the Magician who can grasp the pliable tangles and move them into the patterns of his or her desire. It is as if the branches can be arranged so that they write one’s spell upon the heavens.
The Ash is a tree that loves the wet ground. Thus it is said to be rooted in the Well of Wyrd, the deepest portal into the Underworld out of which the Runes were born. Around the rim of the Well, the Weavers sit, catching the Runes in their threads to re-create the world.
At the base of the tree is the serpent of wisdom, who winds its way up the trunk of the tree, and into its branches, to peer out of its leaves in search of those who would seize the knowledge of the forces of Creation. Thus Shamans, known in European cultures as Witches, used this tree as a road into the deepest levels of the primal Unseen, and then again, as a ladder rising up the planes into the highest of Celestial realms, where the Moon, Sun, and Stars confer another kind of wisdom.
It is the branches of tall and ancient Ash tree that gather the new light from the Heavens and bring it to Earth in preparation for renewal in Spring

Yggdrasil: The World Tree

Ash Working

When entering and leaving Faery by way of the inverted tree, it would lend potency to your working to know the lore of the Ash, for this detail will lead you deeper into the Underworld, and open more realms to you.
The efficacy of magical work hinges on the build up of certain images in the aethers that surround planet earth in the sub-lunar plane. The older the images, the more power they hold, and that power is made of the thought forms of every person and animal who has projected their intention towards it. An avatar as ancient as the Sacred Ash, the World Tree, Yggdrasil, is a battery of potent imagery that can catapult you through time and space to where the soul imprints of past Magicians  and Witches are still active.

Divination by Ash: New energies are stirring deep inside you. take time to meditate and grasp the messages that your subconscious mind is sending you.

One way to do this would be to cast the magical circle with the ash as its central axis. Let it take you into the Underworld, and then up into the stars. Pay attention to what you see, and what and whom you meet. Keep a  journal, and record of your journey, and by doing so, self knowledge will come to you.
You may begin to have prophetic dreams. Write them down. remember the Scared Letters and their power to influence the Web of Wyrd at this time.
Magical tools made of Ash are said to be most potent as they draw on the strength of the World Tree.

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Magical Correspondences

Ogham name: Nion
Letter: N
Tree: Ash
Deities: Gwydion, Lleu
Bird: Snipe
Animal: Adder
Color: Clear
Use: Wands, spears, lintels

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Winter Solstice Mysteries

Winter Solstice Mysteries


The longest night of the year is at hand. For three days and nights the sun stations below the rim of the horizon, deep in the underworld. Our ancient ancestors, immersed in, and dependent upon, the fluctuations of natural light and darkness, feared what would happen if the sun failed to return to the upper world, leaving them in perpetual night.

The further north our ancestors lived, the greater was their necessity to insure the resurrection of the sun, yet the sun’s strength was needed in all lands for the growth of the crops , whether they be fields of grain or vineyards.

In the pre-Christian world, people perceived that everything was alive, that all of nature was imbued with spirit; animals and plants were animated by the same divine life force that filled mankind. The planets and stars, remote and shining, were gods, the earth was the fertile mother.

The sun was the most glorious of the heavenly gods, for it provided heat and light and quickened the life in the soil. The sun was thought to be a living being that died and was reborn, whose return from death made the plants blossom, the animals give birth, and gave joy and prosperity to the people. Therefore was the sun considered to be the savior of mankind. Because of this, Winter Solstice has always been a time of encouragement and celebration.

It is interesting to note that in northern climates, where the dark is long and cold, the sun is perceived as exclusively benign, whereas in countries closer to the equator, the sun becomes a tyrant that dries up the land, whose heat and light is oppressive. These qualities are reflected in their religions. The extremes of dark and light mirror the duality of good and evil in Northern Europe, whereas a harsh, angry jealous god who must be placated in the Mediterranean and South America.

The symbols of Christmas come out of the ancient Mysteries. The evergreen tree symbolizes everlasting life. Lights are placed in the trees to simulate the sun shining in the branches, ornaments in the shape of pine cones are added to encourage the trees to bear, shining orbs of all colors are also representations of the sun. Before electricity, candles were lit in the trees; fire stolen from the gods has the power to lure them closer to the earth.

Cultures from ancient Egypt to Northern Europe celebrated the return of the Light of the World around December 21st or just after with feasting, songs, and gift giving. The giving of gifts was not always a commercial activity, but an affirmation, and participation with the earth bringing forth its many gifts to support the lives of the people.

Saturn and Santa

Folk tale depiction of Father Christmas riding...
Image via Wikipedia

The Romans celebrated Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, god of agriculture, with a celebration of Misrule, turning everything topsy-turvy to break apart the old crystallized pattern of the previous year and create a new order. The tradition of ordaining a peasant King for a Day, and making the real king a pauper, symbolized transformation from darkness into light. This practice also accorded the king the same status as the sun, hidden away in the darkness for one long night before he returns to set things right again.

Santa Clause has his origins in Saturnalia. As God of Agriculture, he gives many gifts in anticipation of the plenty to come. He carries the holly, an evergreen tree with berries that mirror the stages of life, and the mistletoe with its suggestions of Druidic fertility rites. Originally called Saint Nicolas, or Father Christmas, he was slender and dressed in green before the Coca Cola company requested he be dressed in the red and white of their logo and associated with merchandising. He grew fat and greedy, reflecting a more sinister alignment with Saturn as devourer of his own children.  With this stroke of marketing propaganda, the true Spirit of Winter Solstice, of Christmas, of Hanukkah, and all festivals of light, has been confined in the darkness of the unconscious of modern people to make way for a frenzy of consumer spending. Yet we, though all of focus on material things, a longing for the return of the Child of Light can still well up in those moments when we stand in the glow of the colored lights on the houses, smell the fragrance of the tree, or are stilled by the sight of candles flaring in the darkness. We may still even pray for the spirits of peace and goodwill to shine over the earth with the rays of the new born sun.

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