It is with great humility, bordering on embarrassment, that I post this video. I was talked into it!
It is my very first video. I want you all to see that I wasn’t just being lazy with my posting to the blog this month. I was working hard to learn podcasting, and how to make videos. I plan to use this medium a lot in the future — they will be much better too! I learned a lot just by doing this one, bad as it is!
But I hope it shows you, if you think you can’t do things, that you can. Seven months ago, all I could do was email and simple google searches. In that time, totally non techie me, learned to build a WordPress blog, make podcasts, interview people, and make videos.
So for what its worth here I am! Just don’t laugh, or yawn, too loud. I can hear you!!!!!
If you want to hear my podcasts, sign up for the free e-course in the box to the top right of the side bar. I have used a few podcasts to give guided meditations in the lessons.
OR go to Gothic Faery Tales at http://www,gothicfaerytales.com
I have podcasts there under What Are Gothic Faery Tales? and Parts 1 & 2 of Roses, Briars, Blood. I should have all 11 parts done by next week. I like this story and I read a lot. So if you have any love for fantasy fiction at all, why not give it a try?
While living in London, I was perusing the bookshelves in the legendary Atlantis Bookshop, across from the British Museum and not far from The Plough pub, haunt of Victorian and Edwardian magicians in the hay days of the London occult scene.
In Atlantis, I found a book called The Pillars of Tubal Cain. Published by Capall Bann, and jointly authored by Michael Howard and Nigel Jackson. I bought it because of the mysterious illustrations that captured the disturbing nature of true Otherworld contact — something you can’t quite put your finger on, for your pointing finger seems to multiply, and the object being pointed at seems to shimmer, the way that water does when a stone is thrown into it, only the ripples go deeper, and something dark glimmers through..
The personality of each man shone through the writing, but it took a while for me to figure out who wrote what — and who drew the amazing illustrations! I finally found the name of the artist: Nigel Jackson. From there, I knew that the more academic writer was Michael Howard, and the intuitive, emotional writer had to be Nigel Jackson. Both are excellent, and the book is rich with the old lore of Masonry and explorations into the ancient Magic.
Over time, I bought a few more works by Nigel Jackson, about vampires and werewolves, an Ogham deck, his Rune cards, mostly for the wonderful pictures, though the texts are also fascinating and informative. I will review some of these in a later post. At this time, I want to share a video that Nigel himself emailed to me. The art is taken from his Nigel Jackson’s Tarot, his book, The Compleat Vampyre, and a piece called The Dance of Death.
Enjoy! We will speak to Nigel Jackson around the end of August. This would be appropriate as it would seem that Lammas time resonates with him….
You will also notice how suitable this video is for Winterspells….
My blog mentor, Yaro Starak says we should tell our life story as is relevant to our blog topic. So here it begins. I intend to use the four seasons and then the Center to organize my Magical Timeline.
I think childhood is a magical time for most people. Most lose their sense of wonder early, others later. I never lost mine. So for what its worth here are my beginnings. I intend the progression of my spiritual path to unfold in these posts, much like the Fool’s journey in Tarot. Much like the Fool, the first magical person I ever met was a Tarot reader in a carnival.
I begin in the North because I always had a sense that my soul came to Earth from the North Pole. later on I was told by a Blackfoot medicine woman that, unlike most people who are born in the South, I was born in the North. This explains why I spent so much time out of my body went I entered the airy East at adolescence. People born in the North tend to feel that they are living their life backwards.
My Grandparents Ernest and Pearl Hebert
(If I had a scanner that worked I would have a better picture. They came from Quebec after WWI. My grandfather fought in the trenches at Normandy.)
Born in the North
I was born on January 23, 19– (LOL) in Worcester, Massachusetts. My brother, James, was born on January 22, one year later. We were like twins.
We lived in a tenement on Plantation Street for three years. I have many vivid memories from that time, including a dream.
In trying to escape from my crib, I climbed over the bar and fell down, spraining my arm. I had to go to the doctor’s and get an x-ray. My Grandmother brought me a Bride doll that had waist that turned. This was the first time I had ever seen such a thing. That night I dreamed that the doll was a woman dancing naked in the starry sky and the top of her body went to the right, while the lower half went to the left. It always makes me think of the World card in the Tarot when I remember this dream.
House in the Woods
When I was three, we moved to 4 Lexington Avenue, Leicester, Massachusetts. This house was at the bottom of a hill, one of a string of new houses built into the woods on the former farmlands of Peter Salem, a free black man who had received those acres as payment for his service in the Revolutionary War. All the streets were named after the Revolution. We lived on Lexington Ave that swept around a bend and down a little hill named Bunker Hill. At the bottom of Bunker Hill were our mailboxes as we were and RFD route in those days. Peter Salem Road swept along from Pleasant Street to the Four Corners where Henshaw Street going up to the left. I think it looped back to Pitcairn Ave which joined Bunker Hill at the top. There was a huge chestnut tree around there where we collected horse cobblers and a bridge over a stream where the ‘bad boys’ used to go to sniff glue.
Most beautifully there was a hill that used to be Peter Salem’s blueberry orchard, The bushes were large and, in summer, loaded with huge, juicy berries. On hot summer days the air was fragrant with the smell of ripe blueberries.
Being New Englanders, these little bits of history were important to us, gave us a sense of place. Behind our houses ran an old sawmill road. It wound through the stands of trees and mountain laurel, opening out to a sand pit and the ruined saw mill long gone to decay. Along with the woods, this was a fantastic playground; our home away from home. There were lots of kids in that neighborhood around the same age. I was an excellent tree climber and could even scale the pine trees with all their needles. Scratches and sappy hands were worth it because the pine smelled so good and the view at the top was superb.
There were clearings off to the side of the sawmill road where logs had been piled very long ago. They made a pleasant hang out in the summer. The woods always smelled of pine, made more resinous and fragrant by the heat. One day I was there alone wondering about a circle that had been worn into the ground, when suddenly I heard bells coming down the sawmill road, and before I knew it, a tribe of Indians in full regalia including face paint, feathers, moccasins — the whole works, were filing into the clearing. They entered the area with high ceremony, ignoring me completely, and began to dance around the circle. The dance involved throwing out bad spirits. I watched them totally mesmerized and still remember what they did and how they moved. When they finished the dance, they turned and left with the same concentration as when they came. Even though I learned later that were a group of Boy Scouts, that was a strange and magical moment for me.
We were part Indian, Iroquois. My mother used to bring me to what was left of an Indian reservation in the city of Worcester, An old lady lived there alone called Princess White Flower. She dressed in white buckskin and had long white braids. Some days she held barbecues, called Free For Alls that my other took us to.
I will skip a lot now because some of this stuff will be detailed in my blog.
Catholic Mass and Ceremonial Magic
I will mention my Roman Catholic upbringing though as I feel my initiation to ceremonial magic began in church.
My family is predominantly French Canadian and Indian. There is some Irish thrown in for good luck. My father’s side, the Heberts, Roys, LeDoux, Borrassas, etc, are very French to the point of Medievalism. When me and Jim slept over at Meme and Pepe’s house on the weekend, we were up Sunday morning saying rosary beads on our knees before going to church.
Church was Bleeding Heart of Jesus, if I recall, Sacre Couer. The whole Mass was said in Latin and French. I didn’t understand a word of it. It was an incense filled cathedral, lit by candle branches, with a huge Baroque altar from which a life sized crucifix loomed, angled so that Jesus hovered over the congregation like a giant bird. The ceiling was painted with clouds and it seems to me some of them were detached and suspended by chains. The nuns were voluminous black habits and used castanets to direct us when to sit, stand, and kneel. The Priest wore fantastic robes; the choir of monks sang like angels. For a kid like me, it was as if I had entered another dimension full of magic and mystery. I loved not understanding what they said. It increased my sense of having left the mundane world behind.
(I can’t find a picture of the Sacred Bleeding Heart of Jesus Church, but it felt something like this.)
Civil Rights Movement: We Knew Abby Hoffman
When I was ten, my mother got involved in the Civil Rights Movement. For a whole summer we went to the poor neighborhoods in Worcester so my mother could teach the black ladies how to knit. All my friends that summer were black and our playground was the street. Instead of climbing trees, we climbed stairs and railings and chain link fences. My mother worked very closely with Sheila Hoffman, Abby Hoffman’s first wife. I played with their kids Elia and Andy. Once I saw a sign in front of a house that said “Dr.Hoffman”. I asked my mother if Mr. Hoffman was a doctor? She said, “No. He’s a kook.”
Folk music was all the rage: Joan Baez, Peter Paul and Mary, The Seekers, The Kingston Trio. I was especially drawn to the English and Scottish folk ballads and the Appalachian ones that stemmed from them. They were like Grimm’s Fairy Tales put to music. It may have these influences that caused me to populate the woods with spirits, but it seemed that there was a difference between and fairies I saw in my head and the figures I saw in the woods — some of whom were Indians that were not in Grimm’s nor from the Child ballads.
It was also in my tenth year that I first read the hugely influential, The Lord of the Rings.
1966: Vatican II made my father crazy. My parents fought all the time. My sister, Susan was born. My mother went mad, and my world turned upside down.
My mother went on ‘retreat’ to a convent in Lancaster Massachusetts called the Cenacle.
She stayed there for a week or two, and we went to see her one weekend. This was the most beautiful place on earth! Not only was the Convent house a splendid mansion with shiny banisters and stained glass windows, but there wee several large gardens designed in European styles. There was a shady English garden full of green shrubberies, trees, and lush grass surrounded by a high stone wall, and an Italian garden with broad steps, classical urns filled with bright flowers, sculptures, and carved stone benches, bounded by a wall that let in the light. There was a Spanish Garden, a Topiary, and a French formal garden. I explored them all and the memories have stayed with me all this time finding their way into my novel The Golden Stair about a witch and her magical gardens.
Then at night the nuns sang the sun down, and at dawn they sang the sun up, with the most celestial voices, layering over each other like far away bells, and gongs deep under the sea.
Leaving My Sacred Land
A year later we moved “ closer to town”. “Town” was Main Street with its gas station, grocery store, convenience store, Italian restaurant, and the library. There were woods all around our house, a lake across the street that used to be a beach until the Castle Restaurant was built. A stream ran from the lake, under the road, and came out through our back yard. The stream wound through what was then bushes, and eventually pooled around a ruined mill where a big brick chimney stood on its own like a tower.
I was deeply miserable for a long time. Not just because I was separated from all of my friends, but because I was separated from the land. The trees and swamps, frogs, fireflies, birds, little stone walls running through the woods, the clearings, the sawmill road, were my friends too. I didn’t know if I would find the same magic in the new place.
When I was seven years old, I learned the poetry of winter.
In Massachusetts, winter snows are high and deep. I remember we had to pick my brother, Jim, up from some rural place that we never went before. I think it had to do with Cub Scouts. When we were on our way home, it began snowing heavily. As the snow fell, it grew increasingly dark as we wound down the narrow country road between high stands of pine and spruce. The branches were quickly covered, and weighed down, under layers of snow so that they bent to the ground and swept the sides of our car as we passed. Snowy road, snowy trees, pale, luminous, cloud buried night sky, blended together in a visions of whiteness, silent, still, and apart.
It was impossible to see where we were going. I am sure my parents were fretting, but I don’t remember that, for the sounds of their voices were muffled up by the all-pervasive, enveloping quiet of the snow. All I could see from the back seat of the car was a tunnel of darkness far ahead that was always just out of reach of the high beams that were swallowed by the white, blurry maw of the road, and reflected back in a silvery mist. The depths of the shadows, and the brightness of snow, the soft crunch of the snow treads as the car crept slowly forward, the utter stillness and silence of the night as all sound was absorbed by the snow, placed me in a trance, and I felt as if I was lost in a mysterious dimension far from our everyday life.
Suddenly, the car took a turn to the right and abruptly stopped. We had come to a dead end blocked by a high hedge of bare, snow-traced branches woven between evergreen swags all fused into a shimmering white pattern so like a gate, and with hints of such darkness beyond, that it seemed we had come to the very edge of the world.
There is where memory ends; stilled by the beauty my mind held on to.
Where there is ice, there must be fire. Can you smell the wood burning? Ahhh! Heaven.
Of course we know that winter means death, but below the ground new life is seeded. We are assured that that which vanished with the darkness shall return with the light. And what it is that is birthed there, below the cold spareness of winter, is a mystery not meant to be observed.
When you are born with the Witchblood there are things that move you, things that other people may not notice or may not care about, but that mean a great deal to you. These are usually natural things, for a true Witch lives in alignment with Faery and Faery is part of the natural world. Despite what computer games may suggest to you, The Faery flees metal, synthetics, unbalanced electro-magnetic waves, and will not appear where there is not an open and receptive heart.
These are the signs by which we are known and by which we know ourselves:
1: You love the moon and all things related to the moon: Night, mirrors, pools of water, owls, cats, the sound of frogs and crickets singing, pearls, crystals, willow trees, night blooming jasmine….
2:You love what is old and speaks of the past: Castles, ruins, stately homes, old books especially magic books, antiques, fairy tales, folk ballads…
3: You respond to silence and can sit for long periods of time in the woods, or by the sea, just communing with the trees and sky, the animals and the spirits of the place. You recognize ‘power spots’ and go back to them frequently for refreshment.
4: You are drawn to graveyards and tombs, the older the better, for you are in touch with the ancestors, those who have gone before and you know instinctively that the dead are still alive in a parallel dimension.
5: You dress differently to others. You feel the need to be in a distant time and place and so express yourself as if you were already there. Your visions of the Faery will be clothed like you because the time and place you long for is Faery.
6: Animals are attracted to you and you to them. They sense your strong connection to nature and the Faery and so they trust you. Horses and cats, dogs and deer will approach you and wish to speak with you. You may know how to do this even if it happens below the level of awareness.
7: You are interested in Tarot cards, Astrology and perhaps you watch the stars and know the constellations. Divination is constantly fascinating for you. The movements of these things through Gypsy caravans and passed through the hands of Magicians with their magical books of sigils and talismans are your favorite areas of study.
8: Solitude is you friend for it allows you to commune with your soul where all things come together in the still center. From that place you are able to create, to bring forth the images of beauty and poetry that live within you that are the gift of your dual perception through Nature to Faery.
9: You are creative and artistic, a born poet, a painter of visions, a singer of strange songs. Especially if you are Green Ray, you are compelled to express what is in through the arts.
10: You can feel alone in a crowd, alien to the others, as if the people around you are less real that whatever it is that calls you from over the low, dark hills. Feeling misunderstood and as if you are not from this world is a common phenomenon.
11: You are very sensitive, empathic and kind unless your empathy has been terrible abused and your sensitivity trampled and scorned. Then you can become very vindictive and seek the left hand path.
12:Stories and books about weird things, fantasy, fairy tales, ghost stories, sci-fi, dark fantasy and horror, erotica, lives of outsiders, arcane subjects and history bring you endless enjoyment. But this is not because it is fashionable, or only a whim. This is because the authors of these works are like-minded souls who experience and understand the same things you do and are able to share worlds that you know exist, even when many dismiss them as ‘imaginary.’
13: The main three religions are uncomfortable for you. You cannot accept that thee is only one God, cannot believe in a philosophy that leaves out the earth and the rest of the living things to focus soley on mankind. You know in the depths of your soul that the Earth is our Mother from whom we are born and to whom we return, and to whom we owe our very life in between.
Thanks for reading my blog. For those of you who come here looking for my old blog. I want to let you know that I am redesigning it for WordPress. I plan to expand it to include reviews, interviews with prominent British magicians and authors who deal with magical subjects, guest articles, videos and of course more of my Wyrd adventures. There will also be poetry and fiction posts by myself and others perhaps under a sub blog called Gothic Faery Tales. I should have all of this ready before the end of the month.
I also plan an email newsletter to announce these events. I hope to make this blog an international center for esoteric studies and creative projects, based on Pagan / occult themes, that will create a sense of community. The beauty of the internet is of course that we can branch out globally so that, after a while, many magical paths will be represented here in all their incredible interesting glory.
Why “Winterspells”? Because winter is the dark time of year when all of nature turns inward. And it is when out ancestors sat around a warm fire and, in its glow, told stories.