My Nine Favorite Witches

I thought it would be fun to have a little ancestral gallery of my favorite witches. You know, like they have in haunted houses, the ones who follow you with their eyes…

Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn had such a powerful glamour that she won what morsel of heart Henry VIII possessed, and used her feminine powers to become Queen of England. In the process, she was the catalyst for religious reform, causing King Henry to renounce the Church so he could divorce Catherine of Aragon to marry her.

She was not known as a great beauty, but she had mysterious black eyes and a great deal of charm and personality cultivated in the French Court at Calais. Before her death, her enemies had begun refer to her “The Witch” claiming she had bewitched King Henry and citing as proof the extra little finger on her left hand….

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Queen Elizabeth I

Rainbow portrait

Rainbow portrait

Like mother, like daughter…

Now you must agree that there has never been a more magical Queen that Elizabeth Tudor. She was known as the Faerie Queen because she deliberately presented herself as an Otherworldly being. Her various costumes were covered in magical symbols and included esoteric regalia. Some of her gowns even had wings suggesting that she was capable of flight! Her court astrologer was the Magus John Dee who, through the medium Edward Kelly, spoke with angels. She encouraged the art of Alchemy in her Court and was of course the Royal patron of William Shakespeare — and various other members of the School of Night.

Her personal power and glamour were enormous. She was, and still is, on the inner planes, a Goddess.

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The Enigmatic LadyX

I have no idea who this lady was, but hey!

Isobel Gowdie

We have no pictures of 17th century Scottish witch, Isobel Gowdie, but we have her the words of her voluntary confession, her tale of shape-shifting to join the Faery Court in their magnificent feasts and dances. These poetic words are sung by the incomparable Maddy Prior.

Double click on the arrow to get it to work.

Isobel Gowdie is cool. She was a poor woman living in a hovel in the Scottish Highlands in the 17th century. Have you ever been to Scotland? If you have, then you know it is freezing in May in Edinburgh. Isobel shapeshifted  into the form of a hare or a crow to go to the Faery Hall. There she had tea with the Queen of Elfhame. She was then invited to a royal feast. She wore  a  magnificent gown, and danced with elegant Faery men. Before she went on these nighttime excursions,  she put her broomstick in the bed beside her husband so he wouldn’t know she was gone.

For a starving woman, you could say this visit to Elfhame was a compensatory ‘fantasy’, but her descriptions are so vivid, I believe she really went. And I know the Faeries are real!

Isobel Gowdie was a true Faery Seer.

Unfortunately, the Devil began to encourage Isobel to steal things like food, and then to kill a man she didn’t like. She did magic and the man died. Isobel felt so guilty, she turned herself in to the authorities. They questioned her about her witchcraft and she confessed everything without torture. This is why her testimony is so reliable! Her stories of Faery Witchcraft  came from her heart.

So they let her go….

The Americas: New Orleans

Marie LeVeau

Marie LeVeau

Marie LeVeau

A hairdresser by day and a conjure woman by night….

When I lived in London I knew a real Marie LeVeau. She saved my life. I was being targeted by a rival Tarot reader with an extremely virulent psychic attack. A Jamaican client of mine insisted I go to visit this woman whose identity was to be kept top secret. When I walked into her office, the lady, a half African/half East Indian from Guiana, went into shock. I think I was the first white person she ever saw! She  was a very powerful psychic and saw instantly that I was a “spiritual person”. Once the novelty wore off,  we became great friends. I learned a lot about Hoodoo and Santeria from her as well as well as  ethnic Hinduism and Pentacostal Christianity. I had trouble with the Christianity as I wasn’t used to seeing God as something outside myself.

Now we get a little more up to date!

Dion Fortune

Dion Fortune

Dion Fortune

Dion Fortune was a former Golden Dawn initiate. She wrote a book that was so powerful, I credit it with setting me on the magical path forever. She self published The Sea Priestess and thank the Goddess she did. The main character, Vivian LeFay Morgan is a reincarnation of Morgan LeFay and a very wondrous enchantress  and priestess of Isis.

I plan to write an entire blog post about this book, it is so important not only to me but to many witches.

When I went to Britain for the month of April 1997, my King Arthur Tour veered onto a side road because I also wanted to find Dion Fortune. I had a lead: she was from Weston Super Mare in Somerset, and the fort that is transformed into a Sea Temple in Sea Priestess actually existed at a place near there called Breen Down.

I took a bus from the elegantly Victorian down at heels seaside resort of Weston Super Mare to what she accurately refers to in the book (written in the 1930′s) as the “dead alive town” of Breen. I had to walk several miles before I found any sign of village life. There was a beach covered with camper vans — I don’t know the English term for them is – maybe caravans. It was crass and horrible. Just above a miserable looking sort of zoo, Breen Down rose up and it was 100 steep steps to the top of the headland. I almost chickened out. I was tired from walking, but when I saw some old people going up the 100 steps, I decided I couldn’t wimp out.

It was so worth the climb! Amazing! What I call a Wizard of Oz experience. Arriving at the top of the stairs, I stepped out upon a lush green lawn. The air was so clean and fresh it revived me, and I felt like dancing!  The sky was beautiful with a peculiar light. Circular indentations in the ground were the remains of Roman dwellings. The avenue of trees Dian Fortune describes so poetically in Sea Priestess was really there!

It was a long walk to the tip of the down, but when I got there the sun was setting like silver disk that turned the sea to silver and the Fort was there just as she described. Built to fight Napoleon’s armies invading from France, it was made of thick bricks and mortar that was riddled with bullets and had that lingering sense of sadness that suffering imprints in the land. Of course the view of the sea was amazing  — and did I see St. Michael’s Mount in the distance?

The swinging 60′s!

Maxine Sanders

Maxine Sanders

Maxine Sanders

Witches can be gorgeous and cool 1960′s chicks!

Maxine is the real deal. I have written two articles about her and she gave me a very sweet interview that has moved many readers.

She was born with paranormal gifts, raised by a mother who loved  spiritual traditions. At 15, Maxine went through a life threatening and powerful initiation into the Egyptian Mysteries deep in cave in England. She went on to marry Alex Sanders, and together they formed the Alexandrian tradition of Wicca, becoming King and Queen of the Witches. Maxine devoted her life to teaching and training her students to carry forth the Witch power in a deeply responsible way.

Hail to Maxine Sanders! A true pioneer of consciousness.

For more about Maxine read:

Firechild: The Life of Maxine Sanders, Witch Queen

Maxine Sanders: Queen of the Witches

Interview with the Queen of the Witches: Maxine Sanders

Hollywood Witches

Kim Novak

Kim Novak

Kim Novak

Let’s face it! Any woman who watches Kim Novak in Bell, Book, and Candle wants to BE her. A beautiful, sexy, mysterious, glamorous siren with a cat named Pywackett. She has the most provocative witchy dresses. They would make Elvira jealous!

Did you know, that even in the oh-so -wholesome 1950s, that there were witches in New York City?

If I have only one life to live, let me live it as a sexy witch!

Sharon Tate as Odile

Sharon Tate

Sharon Tate

Sharon Tate’s terrible death has obscured the fact that she was a promising young actress. Her portrayal of Odile leCaray in Eye of the Devil is the center of the film. She has a quality of mysterious stillness and concentration that makes her totally believable as the beautiful young witch that works to bring about the Rite of the Sacrficed King for the sake of the land.

In her autobiography Firechild, Maxine Sanders discusses Sharon’s initiation into Alexandrian Wicca as she prepared for her role in the film. She truely was a witch!

Who are Your Favorite Witches?

My list is not complete, and there are some favorites among the Warlocks that I haven’t included here.

Interest of space you see.

I would love to know who your favorite  witches are. If you make suggestions, I will write a post called:

My Readers’ Favorite Witches

I will put their pictures beside  text that you provide telling us what makes them your favorites. How fun is that?

Leave your list in the Comments by clicking the words Coments at the top of this post. I would love to see if there  are some I don’t know about!

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London: Spirits of the Land, The Faerie Queene

Elizabeth Tudor: the Faerie Queene

Of Faerie lond yet if he more inquire,
By certaine signes here set in sundry place
He may it find; ne let him then admire,
But yield his sence to be too blunt and bace,
That no’te without an hound fine footing trace.
And thou, O fairest Princesse vnder sky,
In this faire mirrhour maist behold thy face,
And thine owne realmes in lond of Faery,
And in this antique Image thy great auncestry.
— Edmund Spencer, The Faerie Queene

I was drawn to London because of Shakespeare. In the 1980′s I was heavily involved in Shakespeare productions, not only as an actress, but as a choreographer as well. I was also known to lend a hand with costumes for they are one of my passions, and brought up in small town Massachusetts, I was a trained needlewoman since early childhood.
In 1998, an authentic replica of the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre had been completed on the south bank of the Thames. Portraits of Queen Elizabeth and the Tudors were on free exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. It is quite a thing to be able to stand in front of a painting that one’s favorite monarch actually sat for and to feel the centuries pass below you, carried on the River Thames.
The reign of Elizabeth was remarkable for its glories in art, music, dance, magic, and culture, as well for its horrors.  One only has to walk along Tower Bridge to recall that in her day the severed heads of traitors would have been displayed above you,  visited by crows and reduced to bones on a regular basis. Of course, across the bridge one can see the Tower of London, where Elizabeth herself was imprisoned as a girl.
Bright light, deep shadow, London was a microcosm of the forces of dark and light, god and evil, and everything in between.

I have no doubt that I was ‘guided’ to live in London because of the intensity of this duality, resonant as I was with the city’s history in Elizabeth’s time. Magically, Elizabeth Tudor’s court Astrologer, John Dee, and his Seer, Edward Kelly, were talking to angels. After the Queen’s death, these two  would help to bring the art of Alchemy to fruition in Bohemia. King James’s daughter, Elizabeth, would marry Fredrick of Bohemia. Together they  became the icons of the Alchemical King and  Queen.
Edward Spencer’s epic poem, The Faery Queen, based on Queen Elizabeth, did not come out of a vacuum. I believe he was inspired by a conceit already being played out in the Court.
But I had ‘met’ her in this guise  while living in Seattle, long before I ever went to London.

Have a listen to Spem in Alium, composed for Queen Elizabeth’s birthday by Thomas Tallis, while you read the blog. It is sung by 8 choirs.

The Pelican and Phoenix Portraits


My first formal magical excursions into the Realm of Faery were under the guidance of R.J.Stewart in a workshop he gave on the Dark Goddess.
One of Bob’s exercises is have an audience with the Faery Queen and the Faery King. Each participant has their own version of this, for the Realm of Faery, though ‘real’, dresses itself in the iconography of our individual imaginations. I saw, and have seen since, the Faery King as great Stag/Man and the Faery Queen ‘dressed’ as Queen Elizabeth.

The Influence of Our Personal Imagery on How Faeries Appear

I thought this imagery was due to my inner links with Shakespeare and Elizabethan times. Also, as a child of he 1960′s, I grew up listening to Joan Baez singing the old Child Ballads, many of which came from the 15th and 16th centuries. Many of these songs were collected in Appalachia, brought to the Americas by English, Scots and Irish settlers during those times. As a child in Massachusetts, my imagination was informed by austere Puritan imagery: Women in black clothes with laced  corsets, neck ruffs, and peaked hats were among the  spirits of that land for me. The infamous Man in Black was dressed in 17th century clothes. I drew many pen and ink illustrations of women dressed like this, calling them my “Witches”. I felt they came to me from the flint, birch trees, and the golden rod, that covered the low hills of New England. The folk ballads and the Puritan imagery worked together in my imagination to generate ideas of what Underworld Faeries, the Ancestors, looked like.

This would be true for everyone who enters Faery. They will appear to you in a from that appeals to you or frightens you, or whatever gets the strongest emotional response from you.

Imagination, or Something Else?

While in London, I began writing fiction. I had been writing all my life, mostly poetry. (I am a published poet and have won a few prizes for my work.) But it took living in an historic country like England for my stories to come alive in me. My first endeavor was a novel about a Faery Changeling entitled Dark Night, Lily Bright. The Faery Queen is called Queen Elspeth and her consort is Cernunnos, the Stag/Man. There are also two other related characters in the story, sorceresses, that are similar to her. They all wear Elizabethan fashions.

Writing is a magical act, and the characters were very much alive. This seems to be the reason people become passionate about writing, for the writer watches as the characters act out their story and record it. In my novel about Faeries, I merely clothed the Faery Queen as Elizabeth. I never dreamed it may have actually been Elizabeth as Goddess of the Land entering my inner world.

My ‘real’ work is as a psychic and healer. One day, I was doing a healing session with a client lying on the massage table in a trance. When the session was over, she sat up and said “The whole time we were working, two women were standing at the end of the table dressed in purple. They said they were Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary.”
I was floored! Never had anyone else seen them before. I did know that Queen Mary had arrived. Of course they were sisters.

Masonic Connections


Before I went to England in 1997, I had a dream that I was invited into a gathering of English people seated in an a circle in a formal library as you might find in a stately home. It was a gathering of occultists. I saw the face of the leader of the group very clearly, for he had opened the door to me.
In 2004, I went to a talk on Alchemy that was held at a Masonic center in Cannonbury, Islington. During the tea and cakes reception a man walked toward me, holding out his hands as if he were greeting a long lost friend. I instantly recognized him as the man in my dream! During our conversation, in which I told him of my pre-cognition of our meeting, the subject got on to my feelings about Queen Elizabeth and magic, especially Alchemy. This man, Joseph McDerrmott, had been a Jesuit monk in Ireland. He eventually left the Order to focus on occult practices. The iconography of Queen Elizabeth was a special interest of his, so he kindly invited me to meet him at the Tate gallery to see the Phoenix Portrait of Queen Elizabeth on loan from the National Portrait Gallery. He told me it would be ‘an initiation’.

The Symbols of Sacred Queenship

Pelican of Sacrifice

The iconography of the rubescent Pelican Portrait displays emblems of the Queen’s willingness to sacrifice  herself for her subjects, for as the mythical Pelican pierces her own breast to feed her young with her heart’s blood, so the Queen bleeds for the benefit of her country and its people. Red is the color of martial strength,as well as sexual energy. She has a branch of cherries behind her ear that seems like a ‘come and get it if you can gesture’, though one could not possibly suggest that the Queen would play such games…The roses and other  flower-like jewels and embroideries on her gown suggest fertility and abundant life. The Tudor rose and the fleur-de-lis floating in the space behind her are the symbols of England and France.
In restored versions, there is a fringe over her head suggesting  that she stands beneath a canopy. As her shadow is cast on the wall behind her, we can assume she must have been facing the sun, the source of light. This solar spotlight suggests that the Queen chose to be highly visible before her people. She had nothing to hide, rather she displays her role as their protector and guide.
These are the outward shows for the sake of reassurance for the realm that she give her all for their sake.
Yet there was one important thing Elizabeth would never give them — an heir. I think her compensation for this is revealed in the companion portrait, where she looks to the left, the ‘sinister’ direction of the moon. Her black veil suggests that she stands in the shadows, in the darkness, hidden.

Phoenix of Death and Rebirth

The Phoenix Portrait is the companion piece to the Pelican Portrait. Joe described one as being  ‘with the red rose’, while the other is ‘under the black rose’. The black rose signifies secret knowledge kept ‘under the rose’ or ‘sub rosa’.

In the Phoenix portrait, Elizabeth stands under a black veil against a black background suggesting that she is on the threshold of the Unseen. The phoenix is an emblem of death and rebirth, but not pro-creative duplication. This is important in Elizabeth’s case, for she remained ‘virgin’, or unmarried, all her life. This created serious political problems, for she was dooming the kingdom to go on, after her death, without an heir.

The phoenix as a symbol for Elizabeth’s uniqueness, oneness and chastity, has a hidden meaning. The bird that dies  in fire to rise again from its own ashes, is a powerful icon for dynastic mysticism. Its ability to transcend death asserts the continuation of hereditary kingship through the immortality of the monarch, in this case the Virgin Queen. There could be no more potent symbol of power on Earth than this reminder that  even death cannot defeat this Queen.

The jewels in the Queen’s hair ray out like moonlight, she is covered in pearls and garnets, suggesting moonlit dew drops and blood. The strawberry leaves embroidered over the fabric of her gown symbolize love, luck and pregnancy(?). (It is interesting to note that strawberries, when crushed, could be said to bleed.)

Most significantly for the occultist, the Queen holds a white stone in her  hand. Could it be the Philosopher’s Stone that grants immortality, eternal youth and life?

This portrait explains the secrets behind and esoteric justification for the Queen’s chastity. Her possession of the Philosopher’s Stone means that she will never die.  Did Dr. John Dee conjure this for her? As we saw previously, it was he that brought Alchemy to Bohemia, catalyzing the Magical Court of Emperor Rudolf, a center for esotericists from all over the world.

When one  considers that the Tudors were also Celts, with their ancient tradition of Lady Sovereignty, representative of the Land, it may not be too far fetched to suggest that Queen Elizabeth reveals her magical beliefs and alchemical aspirations to be the Sovereign Lady reigning over the land of England forever. All future Kings who marry the Land will marry Elizabeth, for she is one with the land, part and parcel of it. She is the Faery Queen.


photo credit: Ivana Warde   Hampstead Heath

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London: How I Encountered the Spirits of the Land

The Faery Queen and the Horned God

In March 1998, I went to live in London, England. I had thought I would stay there for 18 months while I researched my  Grail Bearers’ Tarot, but the Spirits of the Land had other plans for me. I have since come to believe they called me to the British Isles because of certain Magical links I had made, and because of my contacts with the Celtic Faery who are the true Grail Bearers.

As a Celtic Faery Initiate, I received powerful visionary visitations by the Tuatha de Danaan, or the Irish Faery. This began just after Samhain in 1996 a few weeks after a workshop I took with R.J.Stewart. The Tuatha de Danaan not only came to my house and opned portals into the Otherworld for me to pass through, they taught me many secrets of the Underworld Faery and their connection to the Holy Grail and the Arthurian Mythos. I was compelled to go the U.K. to wander through the lands of Arthur and Merlin to ground the visions into my soul and body — for when we embark on the Initiate’s,  journey our blood changes, our ancestors wake up in our blood.
My King Arthur Tour to the U.K. took place in a beautiful March of 1997. During the month I was there,  I roamed through England, Wales, Cornwall and Ireland. The last thing I did before I came home, was an eight hour overnight coach trip to Edinburgh to see Rosslyn Chapel, reputed to be the final sanctuary of the Holy Grail.

I had many powerful experiences on this Quest of mine that will be shared in future posts.

Mystical Encounters with the Spirits of the Land

Having grown up in the woods in Massachusetts and maintaining my bond with wild nature throughout my life, I have always had a strong sense of how different places have their own spirit, and spirits who are particular to that place. The liminal twilight atmosphere of the Massachusetts woods, the low rolling hillls, swamps, and  changing light, the striking cycles of seasonal transformation, suit beings very akin to traditional fairies, the types you find in Grimm, and in the Romantic descriptions of Yeats or Fiona Macleod; seasonal spirits of snow, ice and  flaming and then falling leaves, silence, and subtlety. There are also witchy spirits, for  the Black Man of the Forest, ruler of the witches lives there. There is the Salem Witch current, ghosts, and Iroquoise False Faces and Manitous.

Some of these seem to have been brought from England during Colonial Times. There are records of Scottish Faery Seers coming to these shores in during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I who brought their spiritual contacts with them, or drew them here over the water after seven years of separation.

Mexico has spirits of another sort: desert beings, spirits that rattle in the night, wind ghosts, an earth that vibrates with living currents of serpent power that you can feel as you walk over it. The animals behave in mysterious ways. Coyote appears on the horizon and in the blink of an eye is gone; the sea tortoise comes ashore under a moonless sky, and vanishes under the waves of the sea as if she never been. The sun charges the Earth so that, even in daylight, the spirit world is palpable.

In Ireland, I took a bus  ride over the Burren. As lead singer in a Celtic band, Castlerigg, in the 1990′s, I had heard form Irish players that many tunes had been given  to the bards by the Faery. Maybe it was imagination, but as my contacts with the Underworld Faery, especially of Ireland had taught me, imagination is the key to the Kingdom. But I heard music, the same as that of an Irish tune, coming up from under the Earth. Had I been a proper musician, I could have written it down.

As the Queen slays the King in the Upper World, so he rules in the Underworld.

Tarot of the Grail Bearers

I wasn’t in London long before the God and Goddess of the British Isles made themselves known to me. I was living near to Hampstead Heath, formerly the stag hunting forest of the Royal families of Britain. I had arrived in that neighborhood in late April of 1998, finding a cheap bedsitting room with a large bay window that gave me plenty of light to paint by.

I was working on a Tarot Deck, Tarot of the Grail Bearers. Each image was designed after intense 3-dimensional visions given to me, in an ordered fashion, by the Tuathaa de Danaan. It was clear they wanted this Tarot deck to be painted, and to be painted by me despite my lack of skill. The project took over my life for four and half years during which teaching after teaching was given to me along with the images for the cards.

Perhaps the Tuatha deDannaan chose me because I had been reading and teaching for most of my life. The Tarot lived in me. I have been told that my images have great spiritual intensity. I think this is because, as I painted each card, I was passing back and forth a doorway of its symbols the entire time. This deck is charged with Faery magic.

To see the full Tarot of the Grail Bearers, please visit my website at http://www.whiteswan-tarot.com/ and look through the Gallery. It used to be called Tarot of the Holy Grail until I realized it is not about the Grail. but about those who guard and keep it in the Otherworld.

50 The Drive

I had no idea the house was haunted. Not only haunted — but also on the Spirit Line of the Wild Hunt!

See my post  How to Know if Your House is Haunted for another angle on this tale of woe.

Initiation of the Horned God

This etching looks like Old London, doesn’t it? My bedsitting room was in a house down below there, on the path the Wild Hunt has taken through North London, over the Heath, from antiquity.

It began with nightmares.

Not long after Samhain, 1998, I was woken at 3AM by the presence of a shadowy Stag/Man standing near my bed. He was looking down at me with pale, fiery eyes. I had been visited by such a spirit as a child in Massachusetts, ( See my post: The Horned Ones)  but never had he displayed to me such awesome power, never had he focused his entire being on me. Alarmed, I sat up, but the vision did not go away. I was experiencing the same level of clairvoyance that brought the visions of the Faery and Holy Grail. But, where the Grail Bearers were gentle, lofty, sometimes tricky, this being was dangerous.

The Stag/Man was not endowed with a human conscience, he did not let feelings or emotions concern him. He embodied raw, untamed, male sexual power. There were nor reasons, no inhibitions, no consideration for me. He intended to take me, to possess me as if I was the same as he — a wild animal from the forest. I wasn’t about to let him.
Since I was well versed in magical protection, and because I thought this was an illusion brought by some kind of psychic attack, I got to work. On the first night, I performed a  Rite of Banishing, sealed my space and, finally, at 6AM, went back to sleep.
I thought I had succeed. It was peaceful for two nights. Then, the third night, at 3AM, the Horned One was back again, and much more insistent and violent. This  time, the Stag/Man was also accompanied by a wolf. The wolf prowled around the edges of my protective circle. I was so grateful my Rite had been strong enough that he couldn’t get in! The wolf was beautiful, with a shimmering silver coat of thick fur. He howled and stared while
the Stag/Man commenced to try to attack me.

I chanted all the spells of protection I knew, and refused to go to sleep and surrender control of my being.


To cut a very long ordeal short, over the course of six weeks, I was stampeded by Wild Riders that raged through the bed room from the windows through the wall. Vines grew up from under my bed, crawled up from the foot of the bed, wound around me, bound me in tendrils and stems as thick as your arm so that I could not move. Under the blankets, great phallic stems rushed  towards me like special effects in a horror film.
Spirits of darkness circled around the room, uttering strange piercing cries like night birds hunting, wolves prowled, and owls fluttered across my dreaming eyes. A strange man entered my dream/ visions,  playing crazy clown,  Ringmaster, or walking on stilts, trying to get into my brain.

There was no place to go! For me the invasion of my very inner space, always my last ditch sanctuary,  was just not acceptable. The Stag/Man came every night at 3AM to get into bed with me, holding me down while I fought. I refused to go to sleep until 6AM when the visions stopped with the dawn.

It is unfortunate that I did not understand what was going on, for in my desperation to ward off the nightmare, I began to throw psychic fireballs, and to attack these beings, devastating my inner world. This was because I was afraid that if I surrendered, I would be possessed. My training in kundalini Yoga had taught me to send spirits away and purify myself so that the serpent could rise without triggering karma. (snark) Well…

I am sure for initiated Wiccans this attitude is incomprehensible, but I was not, and am not, an initiated Wiccan. I was born with the Witchblood, so much of what goes on between myself and the Otherworld is unexplained. My teachers have been lax in this area also. There seems to be a conflict of interest.

If you wonder why I refused to surrender to my mystic, nocturnal visitor, it was also  because of the raw power, strength, and violence of the God. Imagine being chased through the forest by a horney wild elk! How can you surrender to that?

Eventually, near Christmas, I was so exhausted that I just stopped fighting.  As I slept, exhausted and unable to care, I felt the Stag/Man enter me. I was instantly consumed in a fire that burned from head to foot. I was wrapped in flames. This sensation lasted for three days — even in during my daily activities. I burned, and burned, and burned…It was highly charged erotic energy. Soaring fire and burning eyes. As a student of Alchemy, I knew I was in the furnace.
I made a decision to stay away from magic after that. It was the wrong thing to do because the magical people were the very ones who had an explanation of what I went through…


It comes to mind that such a fiery Initiation seems to mirror the fate of witches burned in Elizabethan times, and later under King James. How passing strange it all is…

We hunt him and then he hunts us. The God of Death and Rebirth.

I had spent so many years connecting with the bright side of Faery. Little did I know that I would be forced into the dark, that my pursuit of the White Hart into the Forest of Brociliande would carry meh into the abyss as the God took on his cthonic, or Underworld, form.

For seven years I felt I had been a spiritual victim. Afraid of psychic attack, I  avoided the magical practices that had once been second nature to me. I stayed away from like-minded others: magicians, witches, magical people. It was lonely trying to fit in with mundanes and New Agers, but at least I was safe…I thought.

Unable to bear the isolation any longer, I found my way to Treadwells Bookshop in Covent Garden. There I found a thriving and brilliant community of occultists and pagans. With much trepidation, because I was afraid of being thought mad, I approached the owner, Christina, and asked her if she would explain something to me.
Over tea and cookies, I gave her my horrific story. Despite my trauma, I knew my experience was significant. I wanted to know what it meant, what was it for, and why did I have to go through it?
What she told me was actually quite beautiful. She gave me an illustration of a circle patterned after a labyrinth. At the bottom of the circle, a powerful stag stood in a dark forest. At the top of the circle was a little cottage with smoke coming out of the chimney.

The Horned God in the Forest

Christian explained that the bottom, the dark forest where I had been, represented death; that as we hunt the Horned God, so he hunts us, and takes us. At the top  of the circle, where the sunlight shines upon the cottage, is our reward when we pass through our ordeal successfully: safety and coziness.


Of course this idea of the ‘hunt’ is not a literally about killing for food or sport. One chases the white stag into the forest of the deep self, the unconscious, the soul, if you will. The goal is to find a transcendent experience, perhaps to gain healing, or powers, or a gift from the Otherworld. But in entering the uncharted, moonlit labyrinth of the soul, one must encounter the dark forces that dwell there, the repressed things, the caged animals within, the history of old hurts, rages, and hates. To avoid this experience is impossible once one has set foot on the Path, and dark experiences are necessary if one is to gain spiritual maturity, true depth, and wisdom. Without these qualities, one is not fit to take one’s place as a teacher of the Mysteries. I had been a teacher before, and a healer. But now, my work is made richer, and more potent, for my having passed through the Abyss.
Christina also told me that Hampstead Heath, near where I lived, had been a Royal stag hunting forest since Norman times. So it was no surprise that the Horned God might follow an ancient trackway through the haunted house I lived in.
One of the great hunting monarchs of all time was the Faery Queen, Elizabeth Tudor. So it was no wonder that the two came to me hand in hand, symbolizing the inner marriage of the polarities of the Land
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