Worm and Snake Charms {Conference Notes}

Confessions of a Hedge Witch

This weekend I attended an excellent multi-disciplinary symposium on Charms and Magic in Medieval and Modern Ireland, organized by the Department of Early Irish at the National University of Ireland Maynooth.  Scholars from so diverse backgrounds as religious studies and archeology, linguistics and philology, and from applied disciplines likes herbal healing and veterinary medicine presented enlightening glimpses into their own work, as it related to the topic.  I hope to share what I took away from these talks.

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Worm and Snake Charms

The first speaker of the morning was Jacqueline Borsje (University of Amsterdam and University of Ulster), who delved into Irish snake and worm charms as export products.  She outlined the importance of charms as words of power, and how important context is when seeking to understand them.  Cultural, textual, and situational context is everything; in other words, don’t necessarily take them at face value.

Professor Borsje has written…

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World Book Day 2013

There are a series of World Book Days which happen around the world, here in Ireland we celebrate it on the first Thursday of March, which is today.

I have mentioned how in searching out about my name I ended up reading lots and lots about the witchcraft trials but the first book I ever read with the goal of starting to work towards becoming a witch myself was, A Witch Alone by Marion Green.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Witch_Alone

A Witch Alone is the best-known book by the prolific pagan author Marian Green. Subtitled Thirteen moons to master natural magic, it is a teach-yourself course for people wanting to rediscover and follow the path of the old village witch or cunning man.

The witchcraft described in the book differs from modern Wicca in two main ways. Firstly it is solitary rather involving participation in covens. In this respect it is similar to paths advocated by authors such as Rae Beth and Scott Cunningham. Secondly it avoids complex rituals for a greater emphasis on the natural magic of the old crafts and contact with nature.

Originally published in 1991 by The Aquarian Press, the latest edition, still in print, is from Thorsons (2002).

I got my copy when I was 17, so a little over 20 years ago, it made me look within and without in different ways and ask so many questions. It also I think is why I separate witchcraft from Wicca so easily, from the start I knew anyone could become a witch by themselves but Wicca was a priesthood you have to be brought into.

It is still a book I recommend to people who are starting out and want something helpful and practical which is overly academic.

Bríd’s blessings on Imbloc Eve

This evening marks the last night of winter and tomorrow is the first day of spring and St Bríd’s day. While she may have been given the heave ho by the Vaticon she is still considered and Irish saint and people’s connection to her continues the same way their connection to the goddess who bears the same name does.

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One of the things I like to do to mark this time of year is to go to the Vigil
between the wells just outside Kildare town. Both wells are lit but by candles
and there is singing and chanting at the first well and then a procession to the next.

It is fun and lead by the nuns of the Brigantine order who come out from behind their walls for the 3 days of Feile Bríd but I have found it very inclusive to anyone.

Both Goddess and Saint are to my mind feminist role models. From the Goddess who worked the forge and was one of the weapon smiths to the Thúatha dé Danann to the young woman who defied her father, stood up to chieftains and did her best to provide care to those in her community.

So which ever Bríd you hold dear,
may her blessings be upon you and your household this Imboc Eve.

Planning the year to come

For me the first step to planning my year to come from a spiritual and craft point of view is to find out when certain events are due to happen.

Our way of craving up the year into months and weeks is an effort to put some shape on the year which makes sense in a linear way but, the solar system mocks our feeble attempts to do so.

It’s not just handy to know when the next 12 full moons will be but also when the solstices and equinoxes are for they often appear to move about the calendar,
but well the calendar attempts to use maths rounding down on the number of days it takes the Earth to orbit the Sun and so is flawed from the start.

For nearly 15 years I have used a small program to aid me, it’s sat in my toolbar
in many versions of windows and may it do so for another 15+ to come.

It is called Lunabar:

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For thousands of years, people have observed, been fascinated by, and even worshipped the moon. Helping to bring the art of the almanack into the next millennium, Infra-Azure Labs (formerly Clysmic Software) presents Lunabar, the Digital Lunar Almanack.

The Lunabar application will put a lunar almanack in your taskbar. It accurately shows the current phase of the moon, the times of moonrise, moon southing, and moonset, and the zodiacal constellation and sign. The phase, constellation or zodiacal sign is shown in a tooltip window when your mouse hovers over the icon, and a full lunar almanack is just a click away. There are many graphical features, such as selectable fonts and “themes.” There is a full installation and uninstallation program and a help file.

Lunabar can display many full moon name ‘traditions.’ It can display moon phases in astronomical or astrological format, appealing to a wide range of users. There also are many popup features: moonlight hours window, position in constellation/sign.
Lunabar shows sunrise and sunset, the constellation and sign of the Sun, and the current Planetary Hour.

For international users, Lunabar uses your Windows system’s settings for time zone, daylight savings time, and time display format. Also there’s full support for southern hemisphere users.

Lunabar is freeware, that means it is free to download, install and use and it has no ads or pop ups and has not time limit on the use of it.

You can find and install it from http://www.softpedia.com
which certifies that it is free from ads or add ons or nasty trackers or viruses.

Here is a button to take you directly to where you can get it.

The Dancer and the Dance

The Dancer and the Dance.

The music pulses, thumps, bounces and beats,
Over it the sound of laughter and the slapping of feet.
Primal, Tribal, harking back to the dawn of man,
Beyond even Adam that delved and Eve that span.

Joy of expression, freedom of movement
Body writhing, wriggling and bent,
Flung out as if flying; then tight as a ball.
All at once she seems to run, slighter and crawl.

Trailing tresses, that have never been cut,
She squeezes her eyes tight shut,
Twisting, twirling, holding on to nought
She circles east, then south, then west, then north

Round and round and round and round
Gathering first speed and then sound
Till she slips and falls unto the ground
She places a hand to her head and does Pronounce
“ Mama, I fell and got an Ouch “