I can't help it... I love Pagan Folk, I know it isn't cool or fashionable but I don't care.  Somethings we imprint on young and Folk music is, for me, just one of those things. 

So I wanted to do a quick round up of my current favourites. 

1. Sharon Knight and T.Thorn Coyle - I felt for a long time that Pagan Chanting had been blessed with Z Budapest's work but there was little else out there.  Sharon Knight and T.Thorn Coyle have produced two amazing CDs of modern Pagan chants which are truly stunning.
2. Spiral Dance - more classic folk but with fantastic lyrics which really draw on the Pagan experience.  Spiral Dance is one of the bands who are unashamedly writing songs about life as a Pagan.  Given the lack of cultural expression Paganism has in the mainstream media, being able to listen to music with lyrics so clearly describing my life experience is a real joy.
3. Omnia - A dark folk band who draw on a diverse range of sources for their inspiration. The second I heard The Raven I was in love with Omnia's work.  Who doesn't want a bit of Edgar Allen Poe and Shakespeare set to music.
4. Damh the Bard - Damh is a regular on the UK Pagan scene, host of the fabulous Druidcast podcast and gifted musician.  I don't mind admitting that every time he calls this home of mine Albion I am filled with and overwhelming sense of the land I live on.
5. Hagalaz' Runedance - I was always going to enjoy music inspired by Norse mythology and Runes, but Hagalaz Runedance introduced me to folk with a definite Scandinavian and Germanic twist which was fresh and exciting (fresh to a committed UK Folk fan anyway).  I have found a deepening of my relationship with the runes and Norse Deities through their music which has been absolutely joyful.
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This year for the first time I have been sending out a tweet every day noting at least one thing in the world around me which has signalled the move from Summer to Autumn.  I do find in the UK that each season has a particular energy to it. The longer I have been on the magical path the more sensitive I get to that energy and I need to make a conscious shift inside myself from one season to another in order to make sure I am vibrating in tune with the season and not fighting against it.  This allows me to truly revel in the season and the weather and I can safely say that I have no favourite, I enjoy the seasons all equally. I would advocate learning to love all the seasons for two reasons.

Firstly being in tune with the energy in the weather and the seasons is incredibly helpful in my own magickal practices.  You have to work with what you have and a piece of magick that resonates best with the particular emotions and feelings captured by long hot balmy summer nights works less well in the dead of Winter covered in frost and snow.  Better attuning yourself to the energies of the season allows you to understand the best way to perform your magick in harmony with the energy available to you. It is simply another form of energy and power to utilise in your workings and one that is varied and abundant.  However it is also a fickle and changeable energy which is why it is important to attune yourself.  Whether you are Wiccan or not, the eight Sabbat festivals of the year which mark a mixture of Solstices, Equinoxes and important agricultural dates give a good basic framework for attuning yourself to the changing energy of the seasons.  They provide a great template for the big energy peaks but I want to delve a little deeper that this.  Whilst a night of celebration is great fun and can be spiritually moving, I don’t agree that one big party for a couple of hours is really the full story.  The seasons change gradually through a number of small signs, my method of working is to slowly absorb and notice those signs, gradually moving myself into a different energetic state by a small amount each day at the same pace as the season itself changes.  The festival is then a ultimate celebration – a feeling of having arrived, but importantly I have made a journey to reach that arrival.  This is a more organic way of noticing and attuning and it allows you to really luxuriate in the changes which is important for point number two…

Secondly I want to enjoy my life.  I don’t want to spend each Winter pining for the Summer, wishing my life away.  Looking for the good things in each season may sound like an annoyingly Pollyanna way of working, however when it comes to the weather (especially in the UK) the only thing you can rely on and control is your own reaction.  I do not mean to dismiss those people who suffer SAD, I think that they have an unfortunate burden to bear which no amount of positive thinking can erase.  However for the rest of us we can find the good in all the seasons and by finding what is enjoyable we can start to enjoy them.

I love the first frost and the first daffodils, I love the bare skeletons of Winter trees and the lush abundance of my Summer garden.  I love it all, no matter how wet or annoyed I may get at times.
Happy day of balance you lovely people! 

We will be celebrating with a potato and cashew nut curry using our homegrown potatoes.

Let me know what your harvest meals are going to be.
What did I do today to celebrate, heal and elevate someone else?
This is traditionally a time of balance when the night and day is of equal length.  Because this is a time of year when the energy is in such balanced harmony it is also a good time to take stock.  Going into the dark period of the year, what did you achieve and what have you yet to accomplish.  Thanks to some inspiration from Crafting the Sacred I was looking at the Equinox as a time to balance the books of my life.  I had a whole post in my mind on that theme ready to go.  The Equinox is not traditionally a time for Pagans to get fired up and go out and do something - that is for the fire festivals....or is it?

Then on Wednesday night (UK time) the US executed a prisoner on death row. Thanks to T.Thorn Coyle here I found myself thinking that going into the Equinox there was a great deal of injustice and imbalance in the world right now.

So instead of this being a post about balancing my life I am going to pledge to do one thing this Equinox to bring some balance, some equality and something which celebrates and elevates humanity.  It doesn't have to be big, it might just be donating to charity but let's make the Equinox a time to act, a time to balance the scales in the world.

If we all took one step at the same time the tremors could be felt around the world.
Heavy theoretical stuff coming up...you have been warned.
About two years ago in November 2009 I was undergoing a sort of magickal crisis, which shifted to a head around Samhain.  The conflict and crisis period co-incided with a huge period of personal enlightenment in my work with my patron.  Insights started coming thick and fast which helped me to see a silver lining in an otherwise pretty grim situation.  Much of the insights came in the form of a completely new way of looking at Rune working which I suddenly thought I should jot down here.  The Runescape is still a work in progress but I am writing it down here in the hope the that process of writing it allows it to further evolve and develop. I don’t believe this is the one true way the Universe works, I think this is a really useful tool and way of looking at the Universe which is going to help me in my practice.  If it is useful or sparks any interesting ideas in anyone else then I was right to post it up here.

It started with a vision…I never though I would ever see myself writing that, and I sort of cringe a bit inside as I am typing it but that was definitely how it started.  I was in the middle of the crisis, doing a series of meditations and rune magicks and suddenly Odin appeared to pull back the mask of the Universe and instead of seeing my working space, trees outside the windows and my physical body I saw nothing but strings of power all vibrating at different frequencies.  When I say strings it seemed like the strings you find in stringed instruments such as violins, cellos and harps. Everything was made up of these strings and there were 24 types of vibration – the 24 Elder Futhark Runes

The vision was clear, whatever human explanation I put on the Runes, however I draw them, speak them, whatever associations I give to them these are just a reflection of their true nature.  Their true nature is the 24 immense and mind blowing expressions of power which make up the Universe.  This includes my own body and soul.  Using the runes for divination suddenly seemed like the least important way of trying to connect/use the runes. To a greater or lesser extent the 24 vibrations of power are within everything, they are the building blocks of the Universe and by resonating in harmony with them or bringing those resonations into different situations we can alter or emphasis different elements and affect the Universe.  This is how I see Rune Magick working.

Then I hit a bit of a brick wall.  This was amazing, the idea was powerful and has stuck with me and filtered into my practice, but it was too big – and I got a bit frozen.  I couldn’t even get my mind around how to try and use this in my practice.  I managed a few small breakthroughs particularly in protective magick but until recently it was a great vision and nothing more.  I think I have finally started to work through that but that is for another posting!

I would love to hear other views on this metaphysical interpretation.
Light on Bamboo
Ok - there is a big wide world web out there and it is time to launch words on the wind as well as in the hearth of the Witches Table.

Taking off today is my new twitter account: @AntaraVox


I'll be posting an Autumnal thought for the day, each day, leading up to the Equinox.  This is a short series of musings to help me align with the changing energies of the season and if you want to join me then I am tagging all my tweets with the following:

Come and join me get ready for the Autumn Equinox.
I absolutely love meditating to music.  Silence might work well for some folks but not me, I need something soothing and ambient to help me escape from the daily worries.  If I am doing a particular magical working I may even want something which stirs a particular feeling in me - whilst at the same time keeping that same steady ambient, background noise.  So I thought I'd share a few of my favourite artists and composers below.

Please do tell me in the comments who you love to listen to since I am always on the look out for more fantastic music!

1. Alan Stivell  - the man responsible for the renaissance of the Celtic Harp for which I am very grateful and Celtic Breton music generally.  This is really magical stuff, evocative of a very spiritual landscape and his website has some streaming samples you can listen to.

2. Claire Fitch - I stumbled upon Claire Fitch's music when I received a free sample from the Magnatune website and I was instantly hooked.  She is an amazing cellist and I love the way her music (the Ambiencellist album in particular) just sounds like an Arctic vista or underwater adventure.

3. Suzanne Teng - Another Magnatune find, Suzanne Teng plays the flute and creates very soothing and yet deep soundscapes with her work.  Magnatune allows you to listen to all the songs before you buy them (the whole thing, not just a sample) so have a good rummage around for free!

4. Tim Wheater - another fabulous flutist with a huge back catalogue and a really soulful approach to his work.  I think my favourite album of his would be the Soul Medicine Man but Golden Light is also excellent.  His website can be found here and don't forget that Amazon Downloads lets you listen to sample of the songs before you buy.

5. Chris Kimber - Another UK based New Age Composer.  He has a diverse set of albums taking inspiration from a eclectic range of places from elements to reiki, chakras and the I Ching all for relaxation and mediatio

I think that the take away message here might be the strings and flutes really rock my meditating world.
Today's post is brought to you by Lillith who is giving us an introduction into the world of poppet magic.

I began making poppets when I stumbled across a copy of a book I had owned as a child in a second hand bookshop. The book contained a pattern for making the felt ponies my beloved aunt had made to salve the sadness of my child self, desperate for a pony in an impossible urban environment. Rediscovering the pattern at a time when for the first time in years I was riding horses and revitalised by their energy seemed especially potent. I decided to further relive my girlhood by making a felt pony just like the old ones.

But making the ponies for myself was different; after making a couple of prototypes the idea of developing them into magickal poppets took hold. The pony poppets seemed to take on a life of their own, demanding to exist for the owners they chose. First I made a set of four each representing an element, I called upon the guardians of each element to guide my work and meditated upon the role of that element in the magickal work we were engaged upon at the time. I gave each one of the Ladies her elemental pony for a Yule gift. Each pony which has since demanded creation has been made for a specific person with colours and symbols which are significant for them; in a sense the poppet pony reflects meaning in the way a Tarot spread does for the individual concerned. Through them I have connected with Epona and Rhianna and recognised the importance of equines to my spiritual life, something which had been buried for decades.

Whist the little equines will always be galloping out of my work basket to seek their owners, I am now working on other poppet creatures and divine dolls.
Phil H of the Ritual and Chaos Magic Blog has an interview up today;  an interview with me!

Please go and take a look at the interview and the rest of his very interesting blog here.
When I set out in Spring consciously trying to move all parts of myself into one whole I didn't even think about exercise.  Big mistake. My relationship with exercise has deteriorated since doing my Masters as I feel I barely have enough time in the day to eat and breathe.  Exercise is something which it is easy for me to drop, despite the fact that intellectually I know it is as vital, in many ways, as eating and breathing.  Now I am in the process of ramping up my daily practice I suddenly realised a connection with magick and exercise.  Not that simply doing exercise regularly is better for my magick (which it is!) but that I could be doing magick whilst I exercise.

This though came to me whilst I was in the middle of a rune working meditation on Uruz, the rune of the Auroch, of strength, vitality and courage.  I just couldn't quite get the working right and was thinking about why that might be.  Then it came to me.  In order to absorb and resonate in harmony with this rune I need to be in my body feeding my own vitality.  My practice over the last few months has moved very much into my head (something I will have to watch in future) but in order to fully integrate I need to be really present in my body.  In particular it felt like I wasn't going to get my work with Uruz without bringing it into a very physical place.

So I got up early and prepared my space with fresh water for drinking and an Aerobic Pilates DVD.  I wanted to start with a form of exercise which would allow me to work magick and get a good work out at the same time, Pilates has a great emphasis on core strength and breathing both of which felt very supportive of the magickal working.  The aerobic aspect would give me a great work out but without the ultra complicated steps of some of my other routines.  Then down to business, but only for a short work out - I wanted this to be a test run.

It was a challenge keeping the rune resonation going throughout the whole 15 minutes and I came and went with my concentration.  I sure that this will improve in time.  The session was hard work but focussing on Uruz definitely helped out with some of the postures and I felt a definite uniting of body, mind and spirit during some of the exercise. The best aspect was the 15 minutes of meditation I did straight afterwards - that was some of the most powerful meditation I have ever done. I am going to try and keep up something similar for the next month and move into a more physical realm again whilst bringing that magickal headspace with me.  If I can crack this then I will feel like I have been able to take a big step forwards.  I'll be logging some of my experiences as I try new ways of combining the two.  Hopefully next I'll be combining it with some wild dancing!