The Occult Conference: 2011 Glastonbury

I arrived back from the breathtakingly mystical Glastonbury feeling thoroughly buzzed after the Occult Conference on Saturday. What a great gathering of people and the highlight of what turned out to be a perfectly magical weekend. You just know that a conference is going to be interesting when the compere is an outrageously busty, black-corseted, foul-mouthed comedian called Grim Rita. I find it tremendously encouraging that the occult circuit is vibrant enough as a habitat to sustain what clearly must be the ultimate niche comedic form (occult stand-up).

Happily, I got to meet and hang out with what are probably some of the sharpest minds in western magic. Somewhat inevitably we drank a few too many pints on Saturday evening. We deserved them. A lot of magic got talked that day:

We heard from Kim Huggens; who with a surprisingly large amount of detail drawn from various cultures as far ranging ancient Greece, Haiti and China, described how one might go about surviving a zombie apocalypse. Forewarned is forearmed!

We also heard about the subtle interconnections between Philip K. Dick, Jack Parsons and the Nag Hammadi material, from Paul Weston.

I then spoke about the possibility of learning from the underlying magical patterning imbedded within New World magics as a viable strategy for developing new culturally and geographically specific spell-craft of our own.

The luminaries of apocalyptic witchcraft; Peter and Alkistis from Scarlet Imprint hypnotically wove together the chthonic streams of thought behind their forthcoming title, Abominations.

Finally, with great wit and intelligence Jake Stratton-Kent (necromancer to the stars*) unpacked why the rather conspicuous absence of the Dead from later western magic and their restoration in fact holds the key to the Western Tradition's future. As one might expect at a gathering such as this a distinct necromantic theme managed to emerge in almost all of these talks creating a powerful interplay between much of the material presented.

Peter and Alkistis from Scarlet Imprint on the left, with me on right. Thanks to Cynthia Caton for sharing her photo with me.
Special thanks to Jake Stratton-Kent and Misha for their warmth and encouragement before my talk. I had a slight case of the butterflies but they put me completely at ease.  Also, a very special thanks to Jamie who with tremendous grace and effortless efficiency managed to keep everything flowing perfectly whilst simultaneously curbing the the black clad hordes from raising the dead right there on the conference grounds.

On Sunday morning my husband and I took some time to explore the landscape of Glastonbury and were seriously impressed by the power the place holds.

We took a tour of the Abbey, and appropriately, I noticed the three Magi; Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar (top left corner) making their way through the nativity scene on horseback, carved over an entrance...

Later, standing in the Abbey ruins right in front of the spot where King Arthur was supposed to have been entombed, we looked up and noticed that an exquisite sun circle had formed; a circular rainbow, formed by ice crystals high up in the atmosphere. I did my best to take a picture of it (below). If you look closely you will see the edge of the rainbow-ring beneath the birds.

Naturally, this meteorological phenomena dazzled us with an inordinate amount of significance, as we stood on that hallowed ground looking up into crisp blue sky. Oh cosmic alignment!

I looked for  a small stone in the grass outside, hoping to anchor the magic of that moment in some way. I divined quickly with four coins whether the spirits of the land would allow me to keep it. Yes. We then asked someone at the exit whether we were allowed to keep pebbles found on the grounds, and were informed that as long as nothing was vandalised we were indeed allowed to keep a pebble. Glad to hear it, I slipped it into my jacket pocket.

We then found our way to Chalice Well - the place where Joseph of Arimathea is said to have buried or washed the holy grail only to have a spring gush forth. And the water truly does taste of blood. I spent a few hours there reading a new book in the shade listening to the water murmur pleasantly.

Refreshed, surprised and delighted we returned to Amsterdam. It really is a deeply fascinating, spiritually stirring place, Glastonbury. 

I can't wait to see it again.

*Grim Rita's words!


It's Here: The Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly Premiere Issue!

It's a full-colour, fabulous, high quality journal chock full of conjure goodies and it's here! It has been a labour of love for the tireless team at Planet Voodoo but I think it has been well worth it. Just look at the exciting line-up of feature articles. I have had a sneak preview at some of the layouts and they are a feast for the eye and food for the brain, to say the least. Not to be missed!

Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly Premiere Issue
A New Journal of the Magickal Arts with a Special Focus on New Orleans Voodoo, Hoodoo, Folk Magic and Folklore

Published Quarterly
4 Issues a Year

Recognizing the resurgence of folk magic and the growing community of hoodoos, healers, and conjurers, we at Planet Voodoo have created a new, high quality magazine that meets the needs of today’s conjurers. Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly magazine shares historical and contemporary information about the conjure arts, including magico-religious practices, spiritual traditions, folk magic, hoodoo, and religions with their roots in the African Diaspora and indigenous herbology. Each issue of Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly magazine brings you original and traditional formulas, spells, tutorials, root doctor and conjure artist profiles, workshop listings, mojo music mania, book, product, & website reviews, and more!
The premiere issue features the following articles and authors:

Denise Alvarado:
The Origin of the Root
Dirt Dauber Nests
Conjure Artist profile: The Georgia Mojo Man
A Goetic Ritual: Magickal Doll to Raise the Ghost of a Loved One

Sharon Marino:
Bat's Blood
Secrets of Se magick: Explore Your Sexual fantasies with the Help opf the Guede
St. Martha Dominadora Love Domination Candle

Matthew Venus:
What is Real Hoodoo?
Bottle Spell for Prosperity

Madrina Angelique
Buying Cemetery Dirt

Alyne Pustanio
Haunted New Orleans Folklore: The Devil Baby of New Orleans: Fact or Fiction?

Chad Balthazar
Planetary Magick and the Venus Love Tub Lamp

Papa Curtis
A Short Look at Witchcraft and Self-Defense in the Diaspora

Carolina Dean
Shoe and Foot-Track Magick

Dorothy Morrison
The Real Dirt on Visiting the Dead

Aaron Leitch
The Return of Psalm Magick and the Mixed Qabalah

H. Byron Ballard
Cove-Witches and Curanderas: Traditional Healers and Magic-Women in Modern Appalachia
And there are several formulas for magickal oils and powders, a little lagniappe (that's Cajun for a little something extra) magick, a free conjure doll baby template, and a historical text related to Voodoo in New Orleans by Lafcadio Hearn (view the Table of Contents on the left). 

$19.95 Premiere Issue (96 pages, full color journal)


Herbal Ingredients: less is more

I have been chatting with a client who is putting a work together for herself and we have been going through the various herbal ingredients that she might include, and it occurred to me to blog a little bit about this process...

It's tempting to throw every single applicable ingredient you have at a spell; but one soon discovers that this approach, other than being a little wasteful, doesn't always translate into results. In my experience it kind of muddies things to the extent where the result is unclear. Like with cooking, too many flavours can spoil the dish.

In fact, I would say one should try to craft the work with a minimum of ingredients - focussing instead on the efficacy and clever manipulation of what you have. It's not like each ingredient brings a certain percentage of magical 'juice' and by filling up your jar with everything you have that corresponds to, say, 'love' you are cramming it with that love juju.

Nope. In my experience ingredients are more like words - and what we are trying to do is compose the materia-magical equivalent of a poem (be it a love poem or a battle-cry). The idea isn't to use the most words or the biggest, fanciest words but the right words. A great poet knows the how to insert or remove just the right amount of syllables to create the precise effect needed. A gifted poet can compose something deeply profound with very few words, as is demonstrable in the tradition of the haiku.

Similarly, a spiritual worker is benefited by a brevity of materials - focussing instead on how they are put together to tell the story they need to tell. And good conjure work tells a kind of story. It's the story of what you want to happen.

It is your prayer manifest.

To this end get to know a few ingredients well. How does the plant grow? Why is it included in the corpus of the tradition? How does it behave when you use it? How can you manipulate it when you work with it?

By getting to know a few ingredients at a time, one can build up a good working vocabulary which you can combine in innumerable ways, adding little flourishes here and there. You can only get to know ingredients in this way if you work with them in modest combinations. If you have a ton of different herbs in there, how will you ever know how any one thing is contributing?

Happy conjuring!