Lammas with Lady Deanne

Morgause Fonteleve

(Part One of Real South African Witches)

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” Lord Byron

KAAPSCHEHOOP Lughnasadh, 2016 -The de Kaap Valley has always been notorious for its Witches and when many arrive for their holidays, in this picturesque little village, they are not aware that in its midst lives a self-identified Witch who casts circles, believes in fairies, breathes Magick spells and sings healing songs of old.

We drove up the Escarpment at dusk, by-passing some wild horses that had foaled and drove down the sandy lane, overhung with luscious arching branches, to the field in front of Lady Deanne’s home. She had set out her altar and ran out to meet us, her tribe of female Yorkies and two cats hot on her dainty heels. We hugged and kissed, giggling like young girls, exchanging compliments, this and that news about our children, our then partners, and how happy we are this late in our lives.

Everything about Lady Deanne bespeaks class and elegance, her home built from stone at the edge of the escarpment, the furnishings, her artwork, the decor and yet, she remains a daughter of the Earth, bubbly, barefooted sprite, that resembles a fairy princess.

We were shortly joined by Greywolf, Little Bear and Sweetpea, the delicious eats we had all prepared and brought along were taken to the ultra modern kitchen, down the wooden floored hallway and corridors.

We were all convened at her home to share sacred space and to celebrate our thanksgiving and harvest tide, which we did under the star-speckled canopy of the Milky Way, Orion right above us, sword in sheath rested across his hip, whilst the bonfire flames crackled and jumped higher and higher in their attempt to ignite the unkept forge-fire of the Thunder Gods, so long forgotten, so long asleep in our Southern skies.

Thrice the Circle was cast and a jackal called from the midst of the African night and how attentively we listened to its medicine song, followed by the mellifluous voice of the Lady of the House, asking the Lord and Lady and the Ancient Ones for their presence. She shared the Season’s Blessings with us gathered within her Circle and we sang songs about our faith, and danced about with rattles, our voices attracting a Porcupine that curiously coasted the Temenos and headed into the mysterious forest at the foot of the field. We shared bread and wine and meditated on the sweet flesh that circles the sacred pentagram in apples, so sought after by the wild horses that tried to steal some from atop the Altar, and decided that the time had come to stand up for Mother Earth and to actively encourage others to revere and respect her.

We supped on the veranda, breads, rice and a vegetarian curry packed full with fresh curry leaves as the breeze turned into a gentle wind and the bamboo chimes and bells wove their magick until the Sandman bid us find our way home, to our sleepy beds.

Lady Deanne is a teacher and organizes spiritual retreats in her beautiful corner of the country. For more information please contact me and I will give you her contact details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SA Law Reform Commission finds Witchcraft Suppression Act unconstitutional

The new Issue Paper released by the South African Law Reform Commission has confirmed the following:
a) the Witchcraft Suppression Act’s prohibition of identifying as a witch and professing knowledge of witchcraft is unconstitutional, and b) the Act’s prohibition of engaging in divinations is unconstitutional.

This effectively means that for the first time ever in South Africa, a) Witchcraft as a religious belief system and / or religion will be legally permissible, Witches will have the constitutional right to self-identify as Witches legally, and anyone who engages in the practice of divinations may do so without fear of arrest.

The Commission found that three issues remained… 1) allegations of harmful witchcraft practices, 2) witchcraft accusations that lead to harm, and 3) muthi murders. A draft Bill [PROHIBITION OF HARMFUL PRACTICES ASSOCIATED WITH WITCHCRAFT BELIEFS BILL] has been prepared for comment that attempts to deal with these three issues.

The South African Pagan Rights Alliance will oppose this proposed Bill for three reasons.

1) Allegations of harmful witchcraft practices rely almost solely on a prejudicial belief that supernatural means may be employed to cause harm to others. Whilst this belief may be true for those who believe it, the allegation can never be proven in any court of law. Criminal acts that result in harm against another may be perpetrated by any person, irrespective of their religious beliefs. We are of the opinion that whilst criminal acts should be prohibited, beliefs about “harmful witchcraft” are not relevant to this prohibition, and the term ‘witchcraft’ should be removed from any relation to or mention of such acts.

2) A new Bill should focus solely on the prohibition of accusations of witchcraft which lead to violence against the accused and alleged “witch”, and should seek only to protect victims of accusation against accusations of witchcraft, and seek to prevent witch-hunts.

3) Muthi murders should be removed from the proposed Bill and from association (by belief) with witchcraft entirely, and should be dealt with under the existing Human Tissues Act, and included as a prohibition in pending legislation aimed at regulating practices associated primarily with Traditional Healers (who are solely implicated in a number of instances in the commission of these crimes).

For public comment or media coverage, contact SAPRA: Mr. Damon Leff at info@paganrightsalliance.org

For more information see:

SALRC finds Witchcraft Suppression Act unconstitutional
http://www.paganrightsalliance.org/salrc-finds-witchcraft-suppression-act-unconstitutional/

Update on SALRC Review of Witchcraft Suppression Act
http://www.paganrightsalliance.org/update-review-of-witchcraft-suppression-act/

Interview with Steve Andrews

Nimue Brown

Nimue: I didn’t know Steve especially well before this interview – I was aware of his work and his ‘Bard of Ely’ title, so this has been a really interesting process of getting to find out more about a truly fascinating person… I see you’re on twitter as Bard of Ely. Where did the title come from?

Steve Andrews

Steve: Bard of Ely was a title I was given back in 1998 when I was a columnist for Big Issue Cymru. I used to live in the Ely council estate in Cardiff, which is also where Shakin’ Stevens came from. The publication knew that I was a singer-songwriter and poet because they had reviewed my work before. Some people think that it is the Ely in Cambridge but I have to point out that it is Ely in South Wales. I am also known as Green Bard and Green Beard because of my green goatee. I first dyed it that colour for the Green Man Festival in 2003, at which I was an MC and performer.

Nimue: I admit to not even knowing there was an Ely in South Wales! Are you still performing?

Steve: The Ely I lived in has a chapter in well-known Cardiff poet and author Peter Finch’s Real Cardiff, and I am included too because I was Peter’s guide to the estate.

When I was living in Tenerife I used to play at various bars there, including the amazing El Risco in San Jose de los Llanos.  It is also known as the “Eco Bar” and the “Hippie Bar,” and is basically a cabin on a mountain and surrounded by woods and trails but very popular with local musicians and its customers. When I lived in the south of Tenerife I used to perform at Flicks Bar in Amarilla Bay. I developed quite a cult following there because of my green beard and my unique cover of Stand By Me, in which I invited the audience up on the stage to help me out with the song. A lady called Vicky who used to be a regular made green beard masks and used to hand them out to anyone who wanted to wear one.  Even Mike the landlord wore one on one occasion and came up on stage with me.

On short visits to the UK over the past few years I have played gigs at the Andrew Buchan in Cardiff, as well as having appeared at the Jim Jam night at The Claude pub there.

Nimue: You’ve obviously spent time living in some very different places and countries, are you a citizen of the world, or do you form stronger relationships with some spots than with others?

Steve: I actually have an old song entitled Citizen of Earth because I think nationalities and borders create obvious division manufactured by humans. Animals, birds and plants do not recognise these artificial boundaries. So, yes, I regard myself as a “citizen of the world.”  I felt a strong attraction to Tenerife when I first set foot there on holiday in 2002. I miss the island a lot. Now I am in Portugal I love it here too. I also miss Wales and have come to understand the term “hiraeth.” I feel drawn back to the country of my birth but obviously I cannot live everywhere! I can really relate to the Neil Diamond song I Am, I Said, in which he is talking about being torn between Los Angeles and New York. I was feeling torn between Tenerife and Wales and used to change the words of the song when I performed it as a cover to reflect this. Instead of “LA’s fine” I sang “Tenerife’s fine” and instead of “New York City born and raised” I substituted “I’m Cardiff city born and raised…”.

I also really miss Avebury because I used to be a regular for the eight seasonal pagan celebrations and gorsedds held there. I used to play Stand By Me there too and get everyone singing, clapping along and dancing.

Nimue: Are there any places you’d particularly like to spend time, and haven’t yet?

Steve: I always wanted to go to Finland and was seriously thinking of doing so back in the 1990s. I was corresponding with several musicians and fanzine writers at the time and also used to love watching The Moomins on TV and Tove Jansson who created them was a Finnish writer. Actually, though, I don’t really enjoy travelling much. I like places when I get there but not the travelling and I hate waiting about at airports.

Nimue: So, changing tack a bit… which came first for you, the herbs, or the shamanism?

Steve: The herbs came well before I even knew what a shaman was. I became fascinated with plants as a small boy and used to love identifying wild flowers and had many books to help me do so, such as the Observer’s Book of British Wild Flowers. I used to help my granddad and father with their allotments and gardens and was familiar with herbs, such as sage, thyme, rosemary, borage, mint and marjoram, that they grew. I was also discovering wild herbs like fennel.

Nimue: Do you have any particular favourites amongst the herbs you work with?

Steve: Amongst the herbs included in my forthcoming book Herbs of the Sun, Moon and Planets, one of my favourites is the dragon tree. I was fascinated by this weird plant when I first came across them in Tenerife. I have grown them from seed and there is one in my dad’s lounge in Cardiff that has been there since 2004 when I moved to the Canary Islands. I had grown it from a seed I collected whilst on holiday in Tenerife in 2002. The dragon tree is in my book because it is said to be governed by Mars, the Red Planet and god of war. This is partly because it bleeds a red sap known as dragon’s blood.

I also really love sunflowers because they are so easy to grow and look so amazing, as well as being the source of nutritious seeds. Fennel I love because of its amazing aniseed flavour and aroma. Its seeds are great for herbal teas. It is regarded as a herb of Mercury, as is the valerian. I will take valerian tablets if I am stressed or having problems sleeping. This herb is a great natural tranquilizer.

The morning glory is said to be a herb of Saturn, and certainly looks like it could come from another planet, especially the variety known as “Flying Saucers.”  I like to grow the very beautiful “Heavenly Blue” morning glory, and admit that in my past hippie days I tried the seeds for their hallucinogenic properties.  This plant also gets a section in my book Herbs of the Northern Shaman. Jasmine is a herb of the Moon, probably because its incredible scent perfumes the night air. It is another of my favourites and I like to drink jasmine tea. Time for a cuppa!

Nimue: What projects have you got in the pipeline at the moment?

Steve: Well, they are all writing projects: I am completing an autobiographical book I am calling The Dropouts and it takes a graphic look at the dark side of the hippie way of life in which sex, drugs and doing your own thing can lead not to peace and love and freedom but to insanity, crime, and an early death. I am also working on finishing a story book entitled Pip’s Incredible Adventure. It is based around a weird dream I had about a boy who finds himself in a very strange world in which there are rainbow-coloured rabbits, a girl called Amazing Grace and a ship with a crew of animal-headed men. I am continuing to write articles for Mediterranean Gardening and Outdoor Living magazine and also for the Ancient Origins website, as well as for my own Bard of Ely and Green Bard pages at HubPages.com. I am always on the lookout for freelance writing work for magazines and websites too. Earlier this year I was proud to see an article of mine about Coastal Foraging accepted and published by Welsh Coastal Life magazine.

My new book Herbs of the Sun, Moon and Planets is going to show how ancient herbalists like Culpeper devised a system of classifying herbs under different astrological or planetary rulers. Mars was the God of War, so herbs of Mars, for example, have warlike and aggressive characteristics such as spines or red sap or berries that could be associated with blood, and herbs of the Sun might have a flower with petals that radiated out like solar rays, such as the sunflower and chamomile. Whilst this information is already out there in some herbals I think my book is different because it is focused on looking at this means of classifying herbs we use. Each section of the book has a selection of seven herbs and explains a bit about the characteristics of the god or goddess that was associated with a particular planet and suggests why specific herbs were thought to be governed by these deities.

Nimue: Where can people find out more about you and your work?

Steve:You can find out more about me at the following sites:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Andrews
Articles on many subjects at HubPages:  http://bardofely.hubpages.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bardofely
Fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bard-of-Ely-fan-page/265178833624
At Wizzley: https://wizzley.com/who-is-the-bard-of-ely-find-out-in-his-wizzography/
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/bardofely
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bardofely
Books: Herbs of the Northern Shaman (O-Books): http://www.moon-books.net/index.php?id=99&p=758
Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Steve-Andrews/e/B001K8SWX8

Music: http://www.thespotlightzone.com/profile/?band=132 and http://www.reverbnation.com/bardofely

Tenerife Islander: http://tenerifeislander.hubpages.com/
Green Bard: http://greenbard.hubpages.com/
Green Bard blog: http://bardofelysays.blogspot.pt/

Ancient Origins: http://www.ancient-origins.net/users/steve-andrews and my articles: http://www.ancient-origins.net/user/26736/track
Famous Cardiffians: http://dicmortimer.com/2015/03/17/famous-cardiffians/
And click on my name here: http://www.cardiffians.co.uk/cardiffians.shtml

 

Interview with Sheena Cundy

Nimue Brown

I’m Nimue Brown (Druid, author, quiet revolutionary, coffee addict) and when I get the chance I like to pounce on especially interesting fellow Pagans and ask them questions about their work and their lives so that I can bring them to other people’s attention. In this interview I’m delighted to introduce Sheena Cundy, who first got on my radar at a PF conference in Colchester, where she was singing with her band, Morrigan’s Path. I liked the music, and we got talking, and since then I’ve read her glorious novel and explored her fascinating oracle set. Like many Pagans, she doesn’t limit herself to one area of exploration or practice…

Nimue: What first drew you to Paganism?

Sheena Cundy

Sheena: Officially, the Craft drew me to Paganism. I found that once I had joined a coven, dedicated to the Craft and named myself Witch… my path was set out. However, I think I’ve been a Pagan all my life as the more I learn, the more I realise it has always been there in some shape or form. The land and nature, people and animals, music and the magical arts are the love of my life!

Nimue: What sort of music styles do you prefer?

Sheena: Diversity is the magic of music for me… I love many styles, from punk to classical! Any instrument that is played well, particularly live, is hard to beat – including the voice… I think the fusions of different styles are interesting, and the contrast of traditional and contemporary instruments – as long as it’s original – can be effective as well as fun!

Nimue: Does that thread of diversity run through your magical life as well? Is fusion part of your craft?

Sheena: Diversity seems to run through all areas of my life, and it is all magical, so yes. I thrive on it. And although I have my own individual style as we all do, I like to have the freedom to change and move around within it. I get bored with repetition and need stimulation and inspiration to create. Fusion is very much a part of my craft, the same way a gardener will graft a new shoot onto the root stock of a stem or branch is how I see it. With a firm connection to our roots we can create our own unique pathways in life. For me, it’s the path of the Crafty Crone, I’m making it up as I go along… Symbolism is not all fixed and new traditions can and do evolve from the old. Creating from original substance is what keeps me inspired. … spells, potions, mantras, incense, stories, songs… is the magic of my life.

Nimue: You’re a songwriter, novelist, and now writing non-fiction for the Moon Books blog. Do you find some forms easier than others or do they all come naturally to you?

Sheena: I do find songs and stories easier, yes. I love making things up, creating from scratch and being original. In non-fiction I find myself far too self-conscious to begin with then once I’ve managed to let go of the ego and just be myself, the barriers come down and inspiration flows again. Of all of them, song writing is probably the most natural and spontaneous. I was out walking my dog this morning and brought a tune and some words back, reached for the guitar… and now it seems it’s a song writing day instead of a non-fiction or a story day. I try not to beat myself self up about these things and just go with the flow…as long as I can make those deadlines with the other writing, time or lack of it is not an issue.

Nimue: So what prompted you to have a go at non-fiction?

Sheena: I started writing non-fiction as a contributor for a pagan ezine called The Moonstone about five years ago. As well as short stories, I wrote a series on the Tarot which evolved into a 60 page manual for a ten week course I’ve run from home for the last four years. Alongside that, I wrote the guide book for the Magic of Nature Oracle – a card deck based on British wildlife – created with my sister Tania who is an artist. From there, I’ve contributed with oracle reading features in a number of publications. Spiritual development is such an important part of my life and so those life experiences naturally filtering into the writing. As a teacher who feels compelled to pass on knowledge, as well as a performer who loves an audience; writing provides an exciting platform for both!

Nimue: What are you working on currently, on the non-fiction side?

Sheena: I have just started a work in progress for the Moon Books blog, with a chapter posting up each month. Your Magical Nature is psychic development from a Pagan perspective. It feels like a natural progression from the Magic of Nature Oracle in which I drew my inspiration from the Crone as an archetypal guide. Again, I will be creating something new while retaining a strong connection to the old… I find the idea both exciting and daunting, what challenge isn’t? But the stretch will do me good, that next mountain will bring a whole different perspective, and if others can benefit from the view – I will have done my job. Hopefully, it’ll be my next book.

Nimue: And your novel comes out in November 2015? How does that connect to your other work?

Sheena: The novel is the light relief I needed to (just about) keep my self from stepping over the edge as I entered Crone territory for the first time. Also, I wanted to see if I could actually write something of that length – 50,000 words –  probably small fry to most authors but for a short story/song writer, quite some mountain. My other work- the songs, the spiritual non-fiction – reflect the serious, philosophical side of me and the novel is the more humorous… But at the same time, the subject matter, the main character, is all part of who I am and what I do. Minerva gave me a free rein to laugh at myself and I think that’s fundamental to keeping a balance and staying grounded in this life.

Nimue: I think comedy has an amazing power to ease things and help us cope, and your book is certainly very funny, and very releasing. Did you know you have this capacity for humour before you started, or did that come as a surprise?

Sheena: What a lovely question! Thank you. I have always enjoyed a good laugh, so it felt only natural to include humour in the story. I get bogged down in too much serious stuff and the wonderful thing about writing fiction is that you can do what you like! I love that freedom. And I tried to maintain a balance of sorts with it. And once the characters begin to take shape, it really is great fun. In fact, I think it’s the best laugh I’ve ever had on my own, and it’s addictive, I need to get started on the sequel.

Nimue: What are you up to at the moment?

Sheena: I’ve given myself just enough to do writing wise – and have the time for everything else…promoting the novel and writing and recording with Morrigans Path among (quite a lot of) other things. I keep telling myself there’s plenty of time – and with a bit of magic, it’ll work.

Nimue: where can people find you online?

Sheena:

www.sheenacundy.com

www.morriganspath.com

https://www.facebook.com/sheena.cundy

http://www.moon-books.net/books/madness-magic

http://moon-books.net/blogs/moonbooks/your-magical-nature/

http://magic-inyourlife.blogspot.co.uk/

SA Pagan Council National Call for Rain

As the Pacific continues to warm due to both climate change and the strongest El Nino effect ever recorded, six of South Africa’s nine provinces are experiencing drought and the country faces its worst water shortage in 23 years.

Three provinces have already been declared disaster areas and water restrictions are being enforced in several cities. An estimated 2.7 million households, about 18 percent of the population, are being affected by the drought, according to the Department of Water Affairs.

The average maize yield is at its lowest since 2008, threatening an increase in food prices. Our country’s farmers are estimated to lose up to R10 billion this year. KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State, Limpopo, North West and the Northern Cape, where farmers grow maize, soya beans and sunflowers, have already incurred major losses.

In response to this crisis, the South African Pagan Council has called on all South African Pagans to participate in a National Call for Rain and is urging Pagans wherever they are to assist in performing a rain ceremony on Sunday 15 November.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
SOUTH AFRICAN PAGAN COUNCIL CALLS FOR RAIN 15 NOVEMBER 2015, 18:00

The South African Pagan Council have asked its members, Pagans and Spiritual Folk all over South Africa, as well as those who know about this day abroad, to join us, as we pray for rain on the 15th of November 2015 at 18:00 SAST. Our country is facing a drought and this means suffering for all living things and death to many. Many of our cities have had water rationed for the next 100 days and will be in dire straits if it doesn’t rain. The natural underground water reserves are running out and rivers, like the Crocodile River, once mighty water courses, have ceased to flow. We thank all those who have assisted us in spreading the word and all those who will join us in this call to action on Sunday, to bring relief to the people and animals of our country and continent. Blessings & Gratitude

Press Contact: Adriaan Roos – Email: adriaan@sapagancouncil.org.za

The Pagan Council has released the following suggested ceremony.

Call for Rain

Sit quietly in your garden or temple room, on 15 November at 18:00 and think that Pagans all over SA as well as those who know about this day’s event abroad, will join us as we pray for rain. Our country is facing a drought and this means that suffering and destruction for all living beings.

Meditate on how selfish and unappreciative we have been for the gift of Water. We have wasted it and treated it without regard. Make a silent commitment to change this harmful pattern and to assist others in doing the same. Go outside with a chalice of water and think about making it rain. Slowly sprinkle its contents around you, pour the rest of the water out onto a solid surface whilst repeatedly chanting: “NAMO GWAN SHR YIN PU SA”

NAMO means “homage,” and PU SA is short for “Bodhisattva,” a being who is enlightened and who enlightens other beings. GWAN SHR YIN, whose Sanskrit name is Avalokitesvara, is the Bodhisattva who embodies infinite compassion. The Bodhisattva Gwan Shr Yin is the compassionate Mother of everyone.

The many hands and eyes and arms represents the Bodhisattva’s ability to rescue all living beings from any circumstances, anywhere. Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva responds to invocations, and that anyone who is sincere will obtain a response, and relief from pain and difficulties. Gwan Shr Yin is particularly indicated in the case of praying for rain.

Do your one hour of invocation and recitation and then repeat the mantram every time you remember during the course of your day. Go indoors, light a light blue candle and wait for it to rain. Even if it just drizzles a bit, your prayer has worked.