A Rite of Moon and Passage


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August brought a full moon and a lunar eclipse which according to astrologers and soothsayers, was to herald the beginning of new phases in life. For some, the changes from old to new were to be dramatic, for others, more gentle but these things take time and not all of us will know what these changes are to be yet; however, some of us will already have glimpsed what those changes may be.

This significant lunar event coincided with a notable event within the Wytchenwood family. During that same week, I (Mother Wytchenwood) celebrated a significant birthday and I crossed a threshold into a new phase of life. So our full moon rite would be something extra special, marking extra special circumstances.


Making our way to the ritual ground

We set off to the wooded slopes of the Iron-Age hillfort that we use for many significant rites. We walked and climbed, carrying what we would need and found a wonderful spot surrounded by Hazel trees, Oak trees, Holly trees and Hawthorn trees and within sight of ancient tumulus. We laid out the area and made a makeshift altar from a tree stump and a large stone. We marked out the circle with ash collected from the fires of previous rites (these ashes are gathered from the fires of rites and mixed and kept as they hold the magic and power of all the rites they have been a part of, each new rite adding its power, memory and magic to the mix) and all was ready just as the sun was setting on one side of us and the moon was rising on the other side; there we were, between the most glorious sunset and the most magnificent moon rise.

As we began we were acutely aware of the sounds around us; the cry of the buzzards overhead, the first calls of the stags below us, the Swifts out for their last meal of the day, the rabbits stirring the undergrowth and the crows cawing raucously as they headed for their roosts. We could feel the energies of the trees around us; the Oaks sturdy and strong yet ageing and wise, preparing to sleep, emissaries of the God. The Holly young and full of vibrancy, getting ready to take the helm through the winter months. The Hazels, watching, guarding and enclosing our rites. The Hawthorns proud, regal and emissaries of the Goddess. The ivy, twisting, undulating and containing our sacred space.


The sun setting as the Moon rose

As our rite progressed, the sun set and the Moon rose high, suspended dazzlingly in a royal blue sky surrounded by the glistening jewels of the stars. The power of our rite increased as I felt the shift from one phase to another, both in the landscape around me and the landscape within; I truly was moving across a threshold.

As the sky changed from vibrant pinks, purples and blues to the dark hues of a late summer night sky, we became conscious of the sounds around us changing too. The cries of the Buzzards had given way to the calls of the owls, the Swifts had handed the baton of the night to the bats, the undergrowth now moved slowly and purposefully with the weight of the badgers as they left their setts and the trees sighed from time to time from the gentle breeze. But still they stood, watched, guarded…. and approved.

Towards the end of the rite, I dis-robed and allowed the Moon to bathe me in Her lustrous light. I met the Lord and the Lady of witchcraft as I now am. As the person I have become and allowed them to see me in all honesty; they accepted me..

At the end of the rite, we all felt that we had certainly moved forward into a new and different phase but me, I now knew that I had and the Lord and the Lady had helped and guided me on to my new and ever turning path; a mantle had been passed to me.

By the remaining candlelight, we packed away our belongings and returned the area to how we had found it, leaving no sign of the momentous occasion that it had witnessed and been a party to. As we returned the way we had come, the night became stiller and quieter; the bats had stopped flitting overhead, the badgers had moved off and all we could hear were the owls as if proclaiming their sanction on the activities of the night.


A Rite of Passage



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crowsIt’s that time of year again when we say goodbye to the summer and enter into the dark half of the year; Samhain roughly translates as “end of summer”. It is also the end of the year, or it used to be and the time when we officially end British summertime by turning the clocks back one hour and so truly sending us into darker months.

The Dark Goddess takes over the responsibility of looking after us, along with the Holly King; the Holly King and the Oak King having had their fight for supremacy and the Holly King having won the crown for now.

We will celebrate Hollantide (Hallowtide) in many ways on many days – we’re not satisfied with just one celebration, oh no, no!  If there’s an excuse to celebrate more than once, the English will take it! Lets face it, our culture is rooted in rowdy drinking, feasting, celebrating and fighting – so, any opportunity to indulge and we’re there (though hopefully NOT the fighting…!)

 Trick or Treat as we know it today didn’t really happen here until the eighties, after films such as Halloween had hit the cinemas; it’s a relatively new phenomenon really and certainly not liked by all who either see it as demanding goods with menace or else see it as an American bastardisation of our traditional hollowed out turnips and “souling”, that should have been left over there.

Prior to this, we had All Hallows Eve which the church imposed in the 7th century to try and oust the older, pagan customs of Samhain. Now, on All Hallows Eve it was the custom for children especially, to go from house to house begging for Soul Mass cakes, (souling) which were a type of oatcake and in return they would pray for the souls of those who had died during the year. The children would wear masks and carry hollowed out turnips with candles in them to scare off the ghosts of the earth-bound spirits that were believed to be abroad on this night, allowing the soulers to go about their business unmolested.  In some villages, the fear of earth-bound spirits and malevolent earth spirits, hobgoblins and Wee Folk was so real, that people went in-doors at sunset, closed the doors and shutters and stayed there until morning, not daring to venture out unless in absolute emergencies.

The English were only too pleased to go along with this because if they were still adherents to the old ways, it allowed them to carry on their observances of honouring the dead without raising suspicion. The cunning folk of England were (and still are) wily buggers; the church thought it was replacing older customs and bringing the people into the new religion but all along the people were finding ways of carrying on under the very noses of the church. Because of the times of the witch-hunts and the times of the puritans, it became common-place among the cunning to observe dual faith; they would adopt the church festivals that had been imposed on their own but instead of praying to the new god, they quietly mouthed the names they gave to their own deities. They had no problem attending church services because most churches were built on ancient power sites anyway and it was the energy they were interested in, not the building. The churches even had a North door (known as the Devil’s Door) built into them to allow the “Heathens” to enter, thinking that once they were in, they would convert; the old folk just smiled as they’d got yet another one over the church because they had always entered their sacred sites from the North and the church had very nicely accommodated their cultural heritage again. Whilst attending services and being seen to honour the new festivals, they kept suspicion of witchcraft away from themselves and so it worked quite well.

There has always been a tradition of honouring the Ancestors in Britain. It is Belas Knap2believed to have started with the Hyperboreans that are supposed to have inhabited these isles before the Druids and then was carried on by the Druids themselves. The ancestors have a unique view from the world of spirit and so have much significant knowledge to share with us. They are also the repository of ancient, tribal and lineage knowledge that is passed down to us through the ages, for fear of it being forgotten and lost. We have carried on this tradition right into modern times through various avenues and guises.

So, Samhain was our old New Years Eve, the time when the dark returned and the night of the year when the veil between the worlds is thinnest and so allowing the souls of the dead to return. But it was not originally on October the 31st, it was originally on November 11th; it only changed dates with the introduction of the modern calendar. But we at WytchenWood will set an extra place at the dinner table on Thursday 31st October and welcome the ancestors and those recently passed-over to come and join us. We will play the traditional games of conkers and apple-bobbing, followed by love divinations with the apple peels and the candle in the mirror.  Young girls used to go out into the garden or fields just before midnight to see the wraith of their future husband; they would pick a cabbage on the stroke of midnight, at which point the wraith would appear.  Or they might pick nine sage leaves on the first nine strokes of the witching hour for the same outcome.  If the girl was not destined to marry, she would see a coffin instead.  Another custom around these parts was death divination.  People would pick ivy leaves and write the names of family and friends on them, one name per leaf and then put them in water overnight.  The next morning, the leaves would be examined for coffin-like marks on the leaves and the person whose name was on that leaf was said to be destined to die before the year was out.  Then at the end of the evening, we will leave food outside for the spirits that come passing by, as we wouldn’t want to risk causing any offence to them.

Participants carrying flaming torches during the Bonfire Night procession in Lewes 5 November 2008All Hallows Eve started to decline however as the Catholic church declined and so we needed another outlet for our “Heathen” practices. Thankfully a chap called Guido Fawkes supplied just the occasion; he tried to blow up parliament in 1605 on November the 5th and gave us an excuse to have huge bonfires, burning effigies and fireworks in commemoration. This worked even better because we could return to the yearly tradition of having fires lit, dancing around them and passing livestock and the ill through the smoke to rid them all baneful energies and bring in health, luck and even fertility. The feasting began again and so did the drinking and again, all without raising suspicion of what we were really up to. We still love our Bonfire Night on the 5th November and we climb the holy hills, eat drink and be merry around a blazing fire where we work our magic and make ready for the coming year. We also welcome the ancestors to come and join in the festivities and be merry along with us. So all of us at WytchenWood Towers will be off to another fun gathering around a huge fire on the 5th November.


Witch BonfireBut then comes the real night of Samhaim; November 11th, the date before the calendars were changed. In modern society it is still recalled as the night of the dead in it’s modern epithet of Armistice Day or Remembrance Day when we commemorate the armistice signed by the Allies and Germany at the end of World War One and honour all of those that fell. This is when we at Wytchenwood shall really celebrate Samhain and our Ancestors according to our family tradition.  This is when we shall truly work magic and celebrate the ending of one year and the beginning of the new year. The rites on this night will be the solemn rites appropriate for the time of year and all that it signifies. We shall welcome and converse with the Ancestors of the tribe, the land and the locality. We shall divine for knowledge that will see us through the coming year and we will honour and thank the Ancestors for their guidance and care. This is the night of true magic, witchcraft and the Sabbat!

A Night to Behold!

Tonight saw the full moon after last nights lunar eclipse. A lunar eclipse was not seen as a good omen in centuries past and so we stayed in and went about our usual business. But tonight we climbed to the top of the ancient hillfort (once the home of the druids and ancestors) to take in the full beauty and power of the lunar energy; and what a night it was!12038323_883254281762390_800610717657589690_n

As we climbed, the air was filled with the scents of the apples and fruits from the wild fruit trees. Below us, the smoke from autumn fires wreathed across the landscape and merged with the creeping mists that were swathing the fields. The sun began to set and as it touched the horizon it burst into the most brilliant of reds, scarlet’s and orange colours. The whole of the sky turned from pinks to reds and we found ourselves surrounded in a blood-red haze. As it sank lower, falling beneath the horizon in the west, the moon rose from the horizon in the east; it glowed orange and red as it rose. We found ourselves standing directly between the blood-red of the setting sun and the red of the rising moon and it was as if they were giving a huge light display, bursting forth with the last of their summer energies; going out with a beautifully colourful bang before clothing themselves in the colours and energies of winter.

We reached the summit and as the last of the sun disappeared beneath the horizon, the geese flew overhead; their silhouettes against the deep red that had leached out and spread across the whole of the horizon, their calls loud as they went. In this part of the country, this signals summers end and the beginning of the colder months and it was as if they were joining with the sun and the moon in announcing the end of summer.12042968_883254955095656_10616682764915141_n

Now it was dark, the sunset gone but the moon rose higher and lit up the hillfort. As we stood in wonder, the owls began their songs; one after another sang out into the clear night. The bats flew over and around us and the deep resonant call of a stag rose up from the woodland below, announcing the beginning of winter.

The summer Wee Folk were scarce; already they are busy finishing their business and packing away ready to re-enter the hollow hills for the winter but the Wee Folk of winter have not yet arrived and so there was a strange quiet from the Good People.

The ancestors were standing in a ring around the summit and in groups on the earthworks beneath; all watching and saying their farewells to the summer and giving voice their welcome of the winter.

There are still some pleasant days to come but those days will now have the bite of winter in them and we feel immensely blessed to have witnessed such an awe-inspiring transition and to have been allowed to be a part of it.

Michael Howard – A Sad Loss


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Michael Howard


A Sad Loss

Michael Howard

Today, the news has broken of the sad passing of Michael Howard. Michael was the editor and owner of “The Cauldron” magazine since 1976 and published some of the most wonderful articles on magic and folklore. I remember the early ones; A4 papers stapled together! Nonetheless, they were the beginnings of some of the most informative articles that ever appeared and the magazine became the UK’s foremost journal on folklore, magic, witchcraft and paganism.

He was also intimately involved in the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle and helped to add and preserve some of the most treasured artefacts that are now housed there.

Michael also wrote many wonderful books including The Witches Herbal, West Country Witches and Pillars of Tubal Cain; just some of the many he authored, each one a labour of love and scrupulously researched. In total, he wrote over thirty books.

Michael was also a great friend of Andrew Chumbley and had strong links to the Cultus Sabbati.

He passed in Devonshire surrounded by family and friends after a short illness.

He will be greatly missed

within the magical community

and without.

The Feast of Avalon


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The autumn equinox is here and the autumnal mists have arrived, along with the drawing in of the nights and that special autumnal scent emanating from the hedgerows; this year they are especially bountiful.

The harvest festival is celebrated by many around the 21st September but in reality, the harvest begins at Lammas with the grain harvest and continues right through until December, when the last of the apples are harvested.

Locally to us, the harvest very much incorporates  apples and hops and with this harvest, there are a lot of traditions incorporated and played out.  Cider apples that have not fallen or been blown down by the wind, are knocked from the trees with Ash poles and taken to the presses.  In years gone by, the apple juice was cloudy to begin with and was fermented in huge barrels with the addition of meat (pork or beef), rabbits and or quantities of blood to provide the nitrogen to feed the yeasts.  It was believed that cider should only be made on a waning moon because to do otherwise would cause the drink to become sour and undrinkable.

Up until around 60 years ago, most farm labourers were paid in cider, with the average allowance being four pints per day.  It was customary to pour a little of the cider from your allowance onto the ground as “a drap to the owd mon” (a drop for the old man).

The importance of the cider apple tree was such that it was considered most unlucky to cut one down and it is still within living memory that farmers would throw the placenta from their cows into the branches of the cider apple trees as a fertility charm.


The importance put on the cider apple and the customs associated with it, caused the Bishop of Hereford to complain and in response, “Hell in Herefordshire” was published in Punch:

“The wild white rose is cankered along the Vale of Lugg, There is poison in the tankard,there’s murder in the mug;through all the pleasant valleys where stand the palefaced kine men raise the Devil’s chalice and drink this bitter wine.

Unspeakable carouses that shame the summer sky take place in little houses that look towards the Wye; and near the Radnor border and the dark hills of Wales, Beelzebub is warder and sorcery prevails.

For spite of church and chapel ungodly folk there be who pluck the cider apple from the cider apple tree and squeeze it in their presses until the juice runs out, at various addresses that no one knows about.

And maddened by the orgies of that unholy brew, they slit each others gorges from one a.m till two. Till Ledbury is in shambles and in the dirt and mud where Leominster sits and gambles the dice are stained with blood.

But still, if strength suffices, before the day is done, I’ll go and share the vices of Clungunford and Clun, but watch the red sun sinking across the March again and join the secret drinking of outlaws at Presteign.”

The other great harvest was that of the hops (There is definitely a drinking theme around here…) and this began in August and carried on until mid September and we still have the hop fields but mostly mechanised nowadays.

With the hop picking, another tome of traditions danced in attendance and the two main ones were “Cribbing” and the Hop King and Queen.

Cribbing was the act of throwing any male stranger to the hop field being seized by the women hop pickers and thrown into the cribs (Bins made from wood and lined with sacking for the holding of the hop bines).  The unfortunate stranger would then be buried under the hops and only released when he had kissed all of the women and given them money for a drink.  There were some overtly sexual overtones to these practices, in which the women take the lead and are afforded much more freedom than they usually enjoyed in a type of role reversal; it therefore seems probable that these practices held onto the older fertility rites of harvest.  At the end of the hop picking season however, the unmarried women were thrown into the cribs. but they were allowed to retaliate and throw in their molester if they could.

On the last day of picking, the last and best pole of hops was hoisted.  A king and queen were chosen from the hop pickers and the pullers caps were decorated with rosettes, dahlias, asters and sprays of hops, then a procession was formed, with the head pole-puller walking in front of the last load of hops to leave the hop yard.  Behind this, followed the King and Queen; the woman dressed as a man and the man dressed as a woman, making it’s way to the farmhouse.  Headed by the busheller beading his metal measure to a drum and followed by the pole-bearers, sack holders and the pickers; once at the farmhouse, a feast was prepared and the farmer and his wife were toasted.  Again the roles were reversed and it is probable that this was to underline that at this time the boundaries of the worlds were blurred.

We still decorate our kitchens with fresh hops and enjoy their wonderful aroma filling the house and look forward to all of the forthcoming alcoholic beverages!

Other harvests that were important were the nut, acorn, gorse and bracken.  In some areas, bracken and gorse were harvested; the bracken for thatching and the gorse for fuel, starting on 1st September and it was forbidden for any to be cut before this date.  So, on the evening of the 31st August, the harvesters gathered on the Commons to await the chiming of the church bell at midnight whereupon the families would claim and mark out their area.  The following morning, they would all return to start the harvest.

Mid-September brought the beginning of the nut harvest; hazelnuts and acorns.  Acorns were gathered to be sold to farmers for winter feed for their pigs and sheep.

The harvest that is not mentioned so much these days, especially by the modern pagan, is the Blood Harvest.  In the days leading up to Samhain, the surplus livestock were slain so that the meat could be preserved to feed the family through the winter and it saved on having to find yet more feed for the animals.  Only those needed for the next year were kept.

Because a lot of farms and business around here still rely on the apples for the cider and the hops for the beer, harvest time is still very important to us and is far from a token gesture to mark the turning of the seasons.  It is real, it is vibrant.  And with this reality comes a chance to view our own personal harvests; have we done enough this year to see us through the winter?  Is there anything that we can add to the Blood harvest, anything that needs to be slain and cut out of our lives?  Have we reaped the rewards for our labour, both good and bad?  Because the equinox is a time of balance and the harvest may well give us both good and bad – abundance and scarcity.  It is a time of bringing in but also a time of getting rid  At the end of the harvest, we can decide what worked best for us and what did not and make plans for the next year in accordance with these insights.  For all of the abundance we have reaped, it is a time to say “thank you” and a time to wonder at the magnificence of nature and Her capacity to provide.


‘hærfestlice emniht’ and Michaelmas


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We are now at the autumn equinox where once again the days are held in balance before the dark wins; ‘hærfestlice emniht’ being Old English for Autumnal Equinox  The harvests are nearly done and the hedgerows are full of fruits; sloes, hips, rowan berries, elder berries, hawthorn berries, quince and of course, crab apples to name but a few! We at Wytchenwood have been very busy harvesting the hedgerow fruits and our cupboard is well stocked with bottles of Elder Rob (elderberry cordial) and rosehip syrup.

We now start to turn inwards and take a look at ourselves.  The magic we work takes on a different hue and a different way of working.  The “sight” begins to increase again and the Wee Folk begin the job of packing up their belongings ready for their retreat back into the hollow hills for the winter.  The spirits of the land begin to change too; as we go into autumn and then winter, they become the harsher “no-nonsense” teachers and guides who do not suffer fools gladly.

But in less than a week it is also Michaelmas and to the rural folk, it has always been important and is still marked today with fairs, merriment and traditional activities.

The Michaelmas daisies are out in full colour now and looking beautiful. A local garden has such a wonderful display of them, the owners open the gardens to the public at this time of year, just for everyone to be able to enjoy the Michaelmas daisies they grow there.

Michaelmas daisies growing in abundance in a local garden.

Michaelmas daisies growing in abundance in a local garden.

Michaelmas Day is the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, celebrated on 29 September but Old Michaelmas Day is October 10th and is traditionally the last day of the harvest season.

The harvest season used to begin on 1 August and was called Lammas, meaning ‘loaf Mass’. Farmers made loaves of bread from the new wheat crop and gave them to their local church. The custom ended when Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church, and nowadays we have harvest festivals at the end of the season near Michaelmas Day.

Michaelmas Day is sometimes also called Goose Day. Goose Fairs are still held in some English towns, but geese are no longer sold. A famous Michaelmas fair is the Nottingham Goose Fair which is now held on or around 3 October.

A Great custom in England was to dine on goose on Michaelmas. One reason for this was said to be that Queen Elizabeth I was eating goose when news of the defeat of the Armada was brought to her. In celebration she said that henceforth she would always eat goose on Michaelmas Day. Others then followed her lead.

On the day after Michaelmas, every year agricultural labourers presented themselves, along with their tools, at the nearest market town. There they offered themselves for hire for the coming year. A fair followed the hirings and this was called a ‘Mop Fair’.

Farm workers, labourers, servants and some craftsmen would work for their employer from October to October. At the end of the employment they would attend the Mop Fair dressed in their Sunday best clothes and carrying an item signifying their trade. A servant with no particular skills would carry a mop head – hence the phrase Mop Fair.

Employers would move amongst them discussing experience and terms, once agreement was reached the employer would give the employee a small token of money and the employee would remove the item signifying their trade and wear bright ribbons to indicate they had been hired. They would then spend the token amongst the stalls set-up at the fair which would be selling food and drink and offering games to play.

Michaelmas Day is celebrated on the 29th September but Mop Fairs were tied to the seasons and the harvest, not the calendar. When the Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1752 and 11 days dropped from that year events associated with the end of the harvest moved 11 days later to the 10th October. This date is known as “Old Michaelmas Day” and since 1752 has been the date Mop Fairs take place.

Tewkesbury Mop Fair is the largest street fair in Gloucestershire and one of the oldest fairs in the country, that takes place annually on October 9th and 10th. Earliest records so far date the origins of the fair to the 12th century.

Mops are still held in some English towns and usually last for 2 days and take over the centre of the town, they attract thousands of visitors.

Michaelmas weather-lore, beliefs and sayings:

He who eats goose on Michaelmas day shan’t money lack or debts to pay.

If St Michael brings many acorns, Christmas will cover the fields with snow.

Folklore in England holds that the devil stamps on bramble bushes or as they say in some areas, spits on them. Therefore one must not pick blackberries after Michaelmas.

The reason for this belief has ancient origins. It was said that the devil was kicked out of heaven on St Michael’s Feast Day, but as he fell from the skies, he landed in a bramble bush! He cursed the fruit of that prickly plant, scorching them with his fiery breath, stamping on them, spitting on them and generally making them unsuitable for human consumption. Legend suggests he renews his curse annually on Michaelmas Day and therefore it is very unlucky to gather blackberries after this date.

Sorry For Being Away

I feel an apology is due for our absence from this blog for such a long time, so “Sorry!” BUT we are back now and we will be back to regularly updating and adding our thoughts, ramblings and experiences for anyone interested enough to want to know  :)

We have never stopped working away at our craft, we just found it increasingly difficult to live the way we do and keep up with social media; it’s not easy when you live half of your life outside in nature and the other half indoors crafting magical items and working for people in need and times of trouble – things like social media tend not to come into the equation!

However, after receiving feedback off some lovely people that we have met in the virtual world, we have decided to try again and share what we can as often as we can.

So, if you are still with us, “Hello!” and we are looking forward to sharing with you again.

From all of us at Wytchenwood.



When the Nights and Days are Balanced and Halved…


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The vernal equinox has come and gone and so the magic we work now takes on a new intensity.  The equinox is a time when day and night stand equal for a time before the day wins strength over the night and the days become longer.  It is no good doing magic on the equinox itself, just as it really isn’t very productive on the full moon itself; at these times everything is standing still; the moon has reached her full potential and stands still for a while before decreasing and beginning the cycle again.  Day and night stand equal for a time on the spring equinox before giving way to more light.  What is the point of magical workings at a time when everything is standing still; neither coming nor going, growing or diminishing, waxing or waning?  No, the best time is in the times of movement; at the times of ebb and flow.  Use the ebb to remove, diminish and cleanse; use the flow to birth, to increase and strengthen.  That is not to say we are idle at the full moons or at the equinoxes; we use this time of stasis to give thanks, to take stock of what has come and what, if anything, needs to be tossed into the ebbing tides; then we work as the tide turns.

The spring equinox signifies growing light, the sap rising and the land truly reawakening; this is the best time to make our charms as most of them are made from traditional woods and the fresh, rising sap in them now is new, vibrant and full of promise, making the charms made from them more potent in strength.

It has long been believed that the powers of the cunning folk are at their prime from the equinox until mid-summer and that any charms they make now will last the whole year through and be as efficacious at the end of the year as they were when first made.  It is a time when those who have existing charms, come to have them re-charged for another year and also to gain answers to questions about the year ahead.

It was recorded in 1870 by William Bottrell that: “According to ancient usage, the folks from many parts of the West Country make their annual pilgrimage to some witch of repute, for the sake of having what they call ‘their protection renewed’.  There used to be rare fun amongst the folks in going to the conjuror in the spring, where they were sure to meet at the wise-man’s abode, persons of all ages and conditions, many from a great distance”.  And so it still is the way.

It is also the time when the Hidden People begin to come out from the hills and to find abodes amongst the woods, glens and dells, as well as amongst us mere mortals who they may like to engage with but more often than not, they try to avoid.  By Beltain their relocation is usually complete.  This could be why some cunning folk are at their prime during this period; those that work with the world of Elphame are now reconnecting with the denizens who choose to work with them and choose to teach them – there is a renewed and strengthened bond and the lessons move on to more knowledge and practices.

Now is the time the cunning folk also set forth into their gardens and plant the herbs and plants that will be most required for their arte in the months to come.  Every one of them will be raised from seed, tuber or rhizome with intent known from the beginning.  They will be nourished and nurtured until their powers are at their utmost for the tasks they were intended for.  Out in the wilds, the cunning will wait and watch for the woods, hedgerows, fields and hills to come alive again with their precious bounties and reacquaint themselves with the spirits of such along with the dryads, nyads, nymphs and sylphs.

The hares are now to be seen, with the females boxing to fend off unwanted attention from male suitors until they are ready.  The cunning watch the hares and divine from them.  Witches were said to change into hares to travel to their moots and as they were about to shape-shift they would say:

“Hare, hare, God send thee care,

I am in hare’s likeness now;

But I shall be a woman even now.

Hare, hare, God send thee care”.

If the hare was injured in any way, the witch would bear the injury herself when she changed back into her own form.

There is also a song with the lines:

“I will get me into an hare,

With sorrow and sighing and mickle care,

And I shall go in the Devil’s name

Aye, til I come home again”.

So, the work here has started in earnest and it will continue through to Samhain, when it won’t stop but will change in nature and pace.

Holy of Holies


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The storms have been raging outside for months now; rain and gale-force winds that don’t seem to lose their enthusiasm or lose their energy. Most of the South-West of the country is battered and broken; houses collapsed into the sea, railways washed away, coastlines cut into new outlines and natural rocky outcrops now nothing more than rubble. Somerset, the Isle of Avalon, is drowned again beneath the waters and once again Glastonbury resembles the Isle of Glass as it protrudes from the water level. Although this sounds romantic, it is a dire situation for those living and farming in the area; their homes are ruined and their farmland rendered useless; no crops and no pasture. Here in the West we are getting the heavy, ceaseless rain and mighty winds that are uprooting trees and wreaking havoc everywhere, the ground is so water-logged that venturing off the paths leads into a quagmire where Willo’-the-Wisps might lie in wait to lead the traveller into dangerous and inescapeable situations. And still there is no end in sight to it all.

Imbolc has not been a time of renewed hope and faith in the return to warmer days and the growing light; we are still cold from wet and damp and the light doesn’t appear to have increased because of the dark of the storms. The warmth is still only being generated at the hearth.


But within the Wytchenwood home there is a place of magic and wonder that does remind us of the coming spring and summer and which does renew faith and hope. Our Crafting room. Within this room we practice our Arte and rites and craft the magical charms, talismans, amulets and tools.

Just opening the door engulfs us in the smells and scents of the Greenwood from the collected woods being stored and dried. This mingles with the aromas of the herbs that are stored, dried, mixed and used. Entering the room transports us to the sun-dappled woods where the senses are awkened by the subtle perfumes of nature carried on a gentle breeze.


The bees-wax polish and candles evoke long, hazy summer days in the green fields harvesting herbs and flowers while the bees are constant companions and their gentle humming is the background music in the life of the verdelet.


The oils that are maturing and infusing, along with the baskets of dried berries, instantly take us to the hedgerow, heavy with fresh growth, blossoms and the promise of travels to the Otherworld for the Hedgeriders amongst us.


The oil lamps hanging from the hooks of their winter homes, the candle jars lining the shelves and the big cast iron cauldron remind us of the nights we take our rites outside and join the company of the bats, the owls and all nocturnal animals that allow us to partake of their world.


None of us would swap this magical and sacred place for a holiday abroad to warmer climes that last only briefly and when it is gone, it is gone. Here we are able to travel through the seasons at will at any time and as often as we like. That is magic!


We are profoundly grateful for our safety, our safe home and for the magic that dwells within but our thoughts are with those who are really suffering through all of this – we wish each and every one of you well and offer hope for a speedy recovery from the nightmare.