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Monday, May 31, 2004

Are you eating Kangaroo? - Tales from the Wolverhampton Moot Camp - VERY LONG!!

Hi all,

I came back from the Wolves Moot Camp last night, but was too knackered to do anything but go to bed. I don't think I've laughed so hard, so continually, for ages! :-D

One thing I love about when Grovers go on their travels is their descriptions of the places when they come back. I've been around India with Chandan Lohia; I've been all over the place with Morganna Syke; I've been to Ireland with Karen the Flower; and I've rumaged through Powell's Bookshop with Anna. Theses are places which I might never get to see with my own eyes, so I'm going to try to repay the favour by describing this beautiful corner of Shropshire and what it's like camping with the Wulfrun Grovers/Wolves Moot, where I've just spent a couple of nights.

For the foreigners to place Shropshire on a map of the British Isles: http://www.warchronicle.com/ksli/historiantales_wwii/shropshire.jpg

Beautiful doesn't cover it as a word. It's countryside: green, hills, trees, there are wild herbs and flowers everywhere - splashes of purple, yellow, blue and red amidst miles and miles of green. You can look sidewards across the fields, from the roads, and not see a single building until the horizon. The enclosed fields are sometimes the only visible sign that humans have been here. In that area of Shropshire where we stayed, there are ridges of bigger-than-hills-not-as-big-as-the-mountains-of-Gwynedd all over the horizons: the Stipperstones, the Long Mynd, Offa's Dyke. From the castle at Clun, you are looking over Wales, which is the whole point of a castle right there (to stop the evil Welsh invading the Marches). Weatherwise, if you didn't like it, wait five minutes for it to change again! I lost count of the amount of times I piled on several layers because I was freezing, only to take them all off again within minutes, because it was now middle-of-summer hot, only to start freezing within another few minutes.

Historically, we are in the Marches here - march being a Welsh word meaning border. In Norman times, the Marcher Lords ruled this strip of land right down the border between England and Wales, and ended up not listening to the English king, Henry II. For a brief moment in time, this was unofficially another country - England, the Marches, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The Marches has had one of the bloodiest histories in the entire of the British Isles, as for centuries the Welsh and English fought over the borders.. Where we were is in England now, and there were plenty of St George's flags around to prove it, but has had it's times as part of Wales. You can see this on the land itself: Bury Ditches - an Iron Age hillfort; Offa's Dyke - a Saxon defensive earthwork; Clun Castle - a Norman castle; Bishops's Castle (now practically gone, but the town of the same name is there) - another Norman castle within a handful of miles from Clun Castle; though we didn't pass it, just down the road, there is also Richard's Castle - same as Bishop's Castle. All of these are within about 6 square miles

http://www.uk-tourist-attractions.co.uk/Attractions/History/Hill_Forts/Bury_Ditches.cfm Bury Ditches
http://images.google.co.uk/images?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&q=clun+castle Clun Castle
http://www.cpat.org.uk/offa/visit.htm Offa's Dyke
http://www.castlewales.com/bishop_c.html Bishop's Castle
http://www.castlewales.com/richards.html Richard's Castle

We camped here: http://www.stilwell.co.uk/show_town.asp?Q=camps%7CL4076484 at the Bush Farm in Clunton. http://www.cluntonvillage.fsnet.co.uk/mainframe.htm There will be pictures to follow, as several people had cameras, and Simon's was a digital camera. However, Simon is still there. There are quite a few Grovers still there: Mr and Mrs Polley (formerly known as Phoenix and BS Kate, but they got married on Saturday. *grin* *grin* *grin* I'll let them and Cabochon (his first official engagement as a High Priest) tell you all about that.), Aud (and Alan), Juell (and Biscuit <------ a person, not a cookie), Jamie (and Jason), Cabochon and Simon, Karen the Heathen and Andy the Heathen, Robbie (who's been lurking), and Roger. Mandy and Andy Charnelle are also still there, they aren't Witchgrove, but should be. Mandy is Honorary Witchgrove, as I think she reads us from Magenta or Robbie's computers, but she isn't on-line herself. Andy Charnelle - just a matter of time and me getting his e-mail address, methinks...

The camp site was great! It was in a tiny U shape of the River Clun, so we had to pile all of our things into a trolley to wheel them over a footbridge, in order to get to the camp-site. Just to be different, I, of course, carried all of my things, but there was method in my madness - I wanted to see if I could, as I will have to for the Glastonbury Festival in 23 days. *pauses to get over-excited* *bounce* *bounce* *bounce* I think I'll be ok. Though this was 50-100 yards, rather than the mile I'll be walking in Glastonbury, it didn't pull too much on my neck. :-D

We all sat around a reproduction Viking barbecue, in front of a recreated Viking tent, grilling burgers and sausages, while catching up and getting drunk. There were midges, but the incense saw them off and made us all smell beautifully! ("I've brought my incest." Aud, wielding her incense.) There were animals in all of the fields around - to the South, a steep slope covered with sheep and lambs, which provided a lot of cute attacks and also the intermittant cry of 'EGG!' (before we got there, there was an attempt to teach them to say something other than 'baaaaaaa', which we all joined in); there was also the discovery that sheep are solar powered. They shut up at night, UNLESS someone shines a very bright torch at them, then they go 'baaaaaaa' (sadly not 'egg', but we're working on it), therefore it stands to reason that they are inanimate unless the sun is shining on them.. This should make sheep hustling very easy.

To the west, there was another animal - "Is that a goat or a cat?" Mandy, who hadn't brought her Book of Animals Not Found in Wolverhampton with her as reference. (It was a horse when I looked, but I'm assured that it was a cat at the time.) A guess at what that creature was up on the hill prompted Andy the Heathen's classic, 'Yes, because you often see velociraptors running around Shropshire, don't you?' (It was a pheasant, though Mandy and I only have Andy's word for it; and despite the fact that he and Karen have an encyclopaedic knowledge of Shropshire wildlife, I've watched 'Jurassic Park' and it definitely looked like a velociraptor to me.)

Flying over us, there were bats. I thought this was a wind up for ages, as I was facing the river. There would be a cry of 'bat!', and we'd all turn round to find sod all there. Until I moved chairs and suddenly I was seeing bats all the time too. This led nicely to BS Kate's story about the time she found a bat in her bedroom, but her Mum didn't believe her; she reckoned it was a pop sock. BS Kate took photos and escorted the bat outside.. Only when the pictures were developed did her Mum decide that it was a bat after all. We now have the Pop Sock Vampire to add to the pantheon of monsters. Pop sock by day, vampire by night. Dangerous.

We also had the inevitable talk about what route we'd taken to get to Clunton. "I came really easily, because Mandy helped me." Robbie, in all innocence. "With the map-reading!" Mandy, after she'd finished choking on her beer. (Later, Robbie outlined his plans for the next few hours: 'Go to bed, wank off, catch breakfast' He maintains that he said 'go to bed, wake up, catch breakfast', but we know what we heard.)

On Saturday, after Aud said some magic words to get me out of my tent, 'I'm making tea and coffee', we toddled off to Bishop's Castle (or Bishop's Car-sill, as BS Kate insists it's pronounced, being from Essex and all). I overheard a hilarious conversation in Naiad's Well (a Pagan/New Age shop http://www.naiadswell.co.uk/), wherein the shop's owner was trying to arrange a ghost tour of the village, but had had opposition from the council on account of the fact that it was Pagan. Is the ability to see ghosts a Pagan thing? It turned out that it was the local newspaper twisting something that a counsellor had said. He'd basically been 'phoned two seconds after waking up, and was shaving at the time, but he'd said nothing of the sort and actually supported the idea.

Quick scut in google: http://www.wiccanweb.ca/article-4210.html http://www.wiccanweb.ca/print-4225.html http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/publish/article_18068.shtml (ah! Reading this, I think the conversation that I overheard was actually Abbie talking to the papers)

The Awareness Shop, one which Andy the Heathen informed me was trying to be as authentically Pagan as Trevor's shop in Glastonbury, has re-opened. I got a red jasper necklace for Mum in there, and Aud bought oil for Kate and Phoenix's handfasting. I also got a tiny cauldron, in which to put all the herbs we were buying for Kate's cough. It was eventually used (though Mandy let it boil over... *grin* and Kate nearly died drinking it. She was grassed up on the fact that she didn't finish drinking it, which goes a long way to explaining why she's still got a very bad cough. ;-))

After Bishop's Castle, we drove into Clun, to have a drink at the White Horse pub. Mandy went to the toilet there and was cornered by the pub's dog. It didn't stop barking at her the entire time she was in the loo, and she mentioned this when she finally made it back to the safety of the bar. "The dog's very protective of his back passage." The Landlord reassured her.

At this point, Mandy was knee-deep in wildlife issue's. As she'd got into Robbie's car, in Bishop's Castle, she'd heard an almighty THUD. This turned out to be a sparrow colliding with a shop window. Stunned, it was trying to fly about a foot off the ground, along a busy street, with traffic everywhere. In the finish, Mandy had to crawl under a car to rescue it. An inspection showed that it had no tail-feathers, so she and Robbie scuttled off into a pet shop. The owner gave them a box and half a pound of bird-seed, but could offer no other help. The pair of them arrived in Clun to inform us that the said sparrow was still in the box in Robbie's car.

Mandy, Robbie and I went back to the car to find the bird chirping away, but very thirsty. Mandy held it in her hand, dripping water from a tissue, and the cute little thing had it's mouth open like a baby bird, quite content. Later on, we sussed that it recognized Mandy's voice over everyone else and so we decided that Mandy was now Mummy. While most of the gang were saying to let it go, I knew from the raven incident that it would die. It was too covered in human. No amount of canting about cruel nature was going to convince Mandy that letting it die was a good thing, therefore she opted to come to Church Stretton with me and BS Kate, in our quest for mead. Now a quest for mead and advice on injured sparrows and/or a bird cage. Andy Charnelle chose to come with us, mainly because he's mad or masochistic, or perhaps going on an adventure with me, BS Kate and Mandy is preferrable to sitting in a camp-site getting drunk. :-D

Oh... that adventure. *huge grin* Halfway to Church Stretton, 'Mr Bo Jangles' started playing on the stereo, and the bird chirped away, moving the box like a dancing thing. It was mutually agreed that he was obviously a fan and therefore should be named Mr Bo Jangles from hereon. Andy had bought a stang in Clun and every five minutes or so, it fell over and clocked Mandy one on the head. She survived and so did the bird. We wound up in a dog rescue charity shop, where there were no bird cages (nor any tea strainers, which we also needed; though I did get an ash-tray and Kate got a mug and a couple of books), but the owners were fascinated by our story. They had a contact for someone who took in injured wild mammals. Mandy 'phoned her, and was put in contact with the person who takes in injured wild birds. Unfortunately she was in Much Wenlock (ie halfway back to Wolverhampton). Not a problem, we were Pagans on a Mission.

However, first the mead. Andy said it's in the half-timbered building up there, then promptly went off on a tea-strainer quest with Kate. Mandy and I toddled into the first half-timbered, Tudor building. It was a pub, where everything stopped the second we walked in the door and everyone turned to look at us. There was a fog of cannabis smoke to navigate through to get to the bar. The landlord said, 'We don't have mead here!' in the same panicked tone that most people use when informing the police that they haven't got any drugs or guns. We toddled out again and found the second half-timbered building.

It was 'Entertaining Elephant' - a health-food, green issues, organic produce type of place, but we were left feeling like it was in Royston Vesey. The shopkeeper had to go scutting into his Christmas stores to find enough mead to make up the seven bottles as we were after. All should have then been well, he could have rung it through his till, I could have given him money, put the bottles in a couple of bags, and we'd have left. End of story.

*cough* The conversation went a bit like this:

Shop: 'That's a lot of mead, may I enquire why you need so much?'
Mab: 'It's for a handfasting... a Pagan wedding.'
Shop: 'How wonderful! Terrific!' (lots of faffing around behind the counter, moving things, looking like someone who'd never seen a shop before) 'Wonderful! May I ask where?'
Mab: 'In a field... near Clun.' (suspicious that he wanted to come too, judging by his tone, and not sure how the rest of the Moot would take that)
Mandy: 'Clunton... we're camping there.'
Shop: 'Would you like a CD? We've got Celtic music.' (scuts in a box, full of 'not for resale' Celtic CDs) 'Just the thing for a Celtic wedding.' (I had 'Celt' on my t-shirt, emblazoned across my breasts, presumably that's where he'd got 'Celtic' instead of 'Pagan' from.)
Mab: 'Er... no thank you.'
Mandy: 'We're camping, we've got nothing to play it on. But thank you.'
Shop: 'You could play it in the car. Let me just put it on for you, so you can hear it.'
Mandy: 'We're not camped by the car, thank you though. We'll just have the mead.'
Shop: 'It's a fantastic CD. Just the thing.' (starts playing it for us) 'Haven't you got a ghetto blaster?'
Mab: 'Honestly no, it is lovely, but we haven't anything to play it on.'
Shop: 'Don't you worry about that. We can sort that out.'
Mandy: 'Really, we only want the mead.'
Mab: 'Ooh! Kendal mint cake! Could I have 100g of that as well please?'
Shop: 'Oh! Erm...' (gets jar down) 'Is there 100g in there? It looks a little over to me.' (the jar was a quarter full)
Mab: 'If it's just over, I'll finish it off for you.'
Shop: 'Right... erm...' (catches sight of another customer) Would you go upstairs for me and get the second hand bags? Not the new ones, the second hand ones.'
(customer looks startled, but goes upstairs. The shopkeeper empties the jar of Kendal mint cake onto his scales.)
Shop: 'It is a little over 100g, would you like it? I can give you the jar as well.'
Mab: (thinking that the jar would be great for camping, as bags get damp) 'Yes, thank you.'
(Shopkeeper empties the kendal mint cake into a bag, seals it up, then tried to get the bag into the jar. Fails. Hands over the huge bag and the empty jar.)
Shop: 'It was 500g, but I'll only charge you for 400g. Would you like any other jars? We like to get rid of them. This is nice.' (touches a random jar)
Mab: 'No thank you. That's fine, thank you.'
(customer returns with bags)
Shop: 'These aren't the right bags.'
Customer: 'I only came in for salad cream'
Shop: (putting the bags to one side) 'I'm all flustered now.' (stares at the till like it might bite him)
Mab: 'Ok, just breathe.'
Mandy: 'Ring the mead though and put them in the bags, then we'll pay for them.'
Mab: 'And the Kendal mint cake.'
Shop: 'I can't think with that music on.' (switches the CD off, tells the other customer) 'I'm trying to get them to buy a CD, it's lovely, isn't it?' (turns back to Mandy and I) 'Are you eating kangaroo?'
Mandy: 'We can't. Mab's a vegetarian.'
Shop: 'Kangaroos aren't animals. They have little arms.' (demonstrates by miming a kangaroo's arms) 'Like thalidomide arms.' (continues miming a kangaroo) 'Are you getting married? Which one of you is the bride?'
Mab: 'Neither of us, she is...' (turns to find that BS Kate and Andy, who had been there shortly after this all began, had now disappeared) 'She's gone.'
Mandy: 'The one in black was the bride.'
Shop: 'I'm just going to charge you the same price for the Christmas mead as the other mead.'
Mab: 'Thank you very much.'
(Mandy by now has added a soft drink to the counter)
Shop: 'This as well?'
Mandy: 'No, that's mine. It's separate.'
Shop: 'Ok....' (long assessing pause) 'Ok...'
Mandy: 'You need to add up the price of the mead and kendall mint cake first.'
Shop: 'Right' (rings them through and puts all 7 bottles, the 500g of Kendall mint cake AND the huge jar in the same carrier bag. This cannot now be lifted, as there was only about an inch length for the jar and so it's taken up the handles; that's before you even get to the weight. Puts Mandy's drink into another bag on its own. NB Neither of these bags were those fetched by the customer previously.)
Mandy: 'Let's put some of these things into my bag.' (takes out the jar and reaches inside)
Shop: 'No!' (takes them off her, then pinches the full bag) 'It's a strong bag!!'
Mandy: 'I know, but it would be better if we...'
Shop: 'It's fine! It's fine!' (turns to me) 'That's alright for you, isn't it?' (Mandy takes the jar off him and holds it)
Mab: 'Yes, perfectly fine, thank you.'
(Andy Charnelle appears, as if by magic, bright red and looking precisely like someone who's been hiding out of view in an aisle trying not to laugh out loud.)
Andy: 'Would you like me to have that, Mab?'
Mab: (feeling like a weight lifter, hoisting it off the counter) 'Thank you' (Andy disappears with it)
Shop: 'That will be £48 please'
(Mab and Mandy pay and run away very quickly! Sorting out the shopping in the carpark around the corner. I'm very proud of me and Mandy that we did all of that completely straight-faced. *grin*)

Of course, this made driving to Much Wenlock harder than it should be, on account of the driver (me) laughing hysterically all the way there. So much so, that I nearly knocked over a low-flying bird, which would have been the ultimate irony when you think about it...

We reached Cuan House and were awed into not laughing anymore, when we saw what Megan, the owner, does there. http://www.old-pound-vets.co.uk/wildlife/index.shtml We walked through her garden, which had more wild birds flying freely around it than I've ever seen in one place in my life; into her shed/aviary/hospital. In there were fifty odd boxes and cages, with notes attached to them 'Blackbird, fallen out of tree and bruised', 'Crow, knocked over by a car' etc along with dates, places, who found and reported them.. All of the dates were from the past fortnight. She informed us that she treated over 1000 wild birds last year. She took Mr Bo Jangles out of his box and informed us that our sparrow was actually a greenfinch. (Bear in mind that Mandy and I, of goat/cat velociraptor/pheasant fame, had pronounced it a sparrow in the first place...) Greenfinches are reasonably rare amongst the British birds, so Mandy had done a doubly good deed for the day here. Megan agreed to take him in and also assured us that she saw no reason for him not to make a full recovery and then be released back into the wild.

We left there feeling very bigged up, but wishing we'd had more money on us for her collection box on the wall. She must spend as much as Pixie does a year, on giving her charges a chance to survive. We're going to ask at the Moot if folk would like to contribute to a donation, then post it to her on behalf of the Wolverhampton Moot.

Of course, we'd only gone ten yards up the road, when BS Kate thought of a practical joke to play on Robbie; then we saw a woman in her pyjamas (I think it was actually posh clothes, but they did look like pyjamas) sitting on a bench. Because Kate couldn't tell what Mandy was trying to whisper, Mandy eventually gave up and practically shouted, 'That woman's wearing pyjamas in the street!' Which didn't impress the woman at all. Then, about a mile up the road, we were driving up a very steep road, when the road-sign warned us that this road was 'liable to flood' 'Uphill!' Kate spluttered shortly before dying in a fit of coughing and laughing at the same time. By now, I was swerving all over the road, because my eyes were filled with laughter tears and I couldn't actually see anything. People asking, 'are you eating kangaroo?' every two minutes didn't help matters at all.

About five minutes away from Clunton, and half an hour away from the wedding, it occurred to me and Kate that we really ought to get around to working out the ceremony. By the time we were back at camp, it had a basic form. Phoenix agreed to it, and added his ideas. Ten minutes later, we had it all worked out and just needed to add one Cabochon into the mix. Nowhere to be found. The next half an hour was a frenzy of organization, and beer. Cabochon tottered out of his tent, so was asked to memorize a ceremony within five minutes of waking up. Needless to say, we ran through it again ten minutes later, when he was more awake. That was around the time that I discovered that I'd left my athame at home... fortunately, Cabochon hadn't. We re-wrote the whole ceremony for the tenth time, with him taking the lead role, then Phoenix turned up with Andy Charnelle HUGE and VERY SHARP knife. I swear that I've seen smaller, less lethal machetes... but there's my athame, after he'd assured me that no-one had been killed with it. There wasn't time to re-write it again semi-officially, so Cabochon and I largely made it up as we went along.

I won't say more about the wedding, because that's Mr and Mrs Polley's story. It's also Cabochon's debut as initiated High Priest and officiating at a handfasting, so it's his story too. I was there mainly as safety net, cement and High Priestess. :-D

Laura was also present by proxy. She had given Kate a teddy bear to represent her. Needless to say, if we weren't invited into the bridal suite (the biggest tent known to humanity... any bigger and it would have been a marquee; but considering the amount of stuff as Kate thinks is necessary for a camping trip, this was a perfectly sized tent for her and Phoenix), neither was the teddy Laura. She slept with Mandy of the Little Tent ('You're absolutely positive that's not a child's play tent, aren't you?' asked Mab, dubiously. 'I'm sure it will be alright...'). Which led to musing on what if the teddy was full-sized Laura, 'I'd have to bend Laura over double before she can get in my tent!' Mandy.

Just in case you have any doubts about the size of Kate and Phoenix's tent. On the Sunday, it started to rain, so we were all invited in there. Only Mandy, Karen the Heathen and I have been called little people in this entire posse, as everyone else grew into full-sized adults. On this occasion, Mandy, myself, Biscuit, Juell, Karen, Aud, Alan, BS Kate, Robbie, Andy the Heathen, Phoenix, Laura the Teddy Bear and Andy Charnelle were all in there, and not only did we have room to lie down, but Robbie also had room to stand up and river dance in the centre of the tent. (This was also the occasion when Robbie piped up, with no warning, 'Has anyone got any vaseline?') (This was also the occasion when chainmail condoms were discussed, 'They're grate!' exclaimed Andy C. 'Especially if you've got a cheesy knob.' mused Biscuit.)

Talking about tents. Mine collapsed big time on the Saturday evening. Instead of getting very, very drunk at the barbecue side, I stood there for two and a half hours, with Simon's Davy lamp on, trying to cobble a repair job. Andy Charnelle ended up having to whittle some poles down, then, bless his cotton socks, he was there for at least half of that time, with the pair of us coming up with idea after idea as to how to fix this. We'd have left it, but it had tipped it down the night before and I would have been saturated if that had carried on that night. (It hadn't looked right the night before, but in making a couple of adjustments from the inside of the tent in order to keep dry, I knocked over my bottle of beer...) We did a grand job, though all the light-weights had gone to bed by the time we were ready to party. Robbie couldn't see me sitting on my own by a doused barbecue, so he joined me; then Andy C decided to join us too; and two seconds later, Aud and Alan were back out to play. As Aud made us cups of tea, I tried to show everyone the Great Bear, but it was too cloudy to see much of it.

After breakfast, on the Sunday ('This is just like any Sunday, Scott saying 'will you hold my sausage for me'' Simon), I packed up my tent, then some of us drove off to Aston-On-Clun, for the Arbor Day. We naturally had to stop in the Kangaroo Pub, where we found someone dressed up as a kangaroo, before making it to the Arbor Day itself. After seeing Arbor Day, in 'Oh My Gods!', mentioned so many times, I really wanted to know what it was all about. However, Aston-on-Clun's Arbor Day is so frightfully English, that I'd be surprised if it was the same as the American Arbor Day. http://www.arbortreeday.co.uk/ There were speeches and presentations, with everyone getting a CD, which prompted Juell, on the last one, to say, 'I wonder if they'll be getting a CD...' Then a song. As we'd been given the song-sheets, and the tune was simple enough, Juell and I joined in with great gusto. It was only afterwards, at the fete, that I spotted a CD of the Arbor Day song and realized that Juell was possibly only jealous because she didn't have a CD. So I bought it for her. :-D LMFAO

Another corner of the fete had a tiny pen with a sheep in it. The notice read: '30p a go'. You can imagine what the Wulfrunians made of that one.... ('They're a bit primative here, aren't they?' Mandy. 'You'd have charged at least 45p.' Mab) It was only when you turned the corner a bit that more information was given - 30p to GUESS THE NAME of the sheep. Ah! Fortunately, as many of the stall-holders had trouble understanding a word I was saying, I'm assuming that a conversation held in broadest Black Country didn't offend any passing Salopians.) The others had long since abandoned BS Kate, Mandy and I for the hospitality of the Kangaroo Pub, when we discovered the owls and hawks. Having entertained ourselves with bubbles and owls, we all had our pictures taken. Mine was with a Harris hawk, Mandy's with a Segar hawk and Kate's with an African Owl. In lieu of our parents to show them to, we took them to Aud, Alan, Juell and Robbie. They looked suitably impressed. I'll get them on the web-site eventually so you can be suitably impressed too.

At the camp-site, there was a game of rounders. Heathens v Wiccans. It was vicious! I doubt that there was anyone who didn't end up arse over tit or rugby tackled by a member of the opposition. Though none more spectacularly than Aud, who was brutally attacked by the heathens (one of which was her husband, Alan, who hasn't got a religion (except for the Wolves), and who opted to join the Heathens ('You going to live to regret that, dear...' Aud, an Aries) Aud slid most of the way from third base to fourth and rose with grass stuck to her face, spitting it out of her mouth. Gits wouldn't give us a penalty on account of penalties are football, not rounders.

Then there was Phoenix's... everything... He was very drunk. He and Biscuit had been left with several bottles of mead, while we were all out. There was only one bottle of mead left, which Phoenix had hidden down his top, under the vague impression that that meant it was safe from his wife... *shakes head* ANYWAY, Phoenix decided that seeing triple and hardly being able to stand didn't disqualify him from playing rounders for the Heathens. As Mandy pointed out, 'If it wasn't for the bloody Carry On team playing for the Wiccans, he'd have been out!' *cough* As Andy the Heathen pointed out, 'He's running like a diver with weights on his feet, underwater!' (and still managed a home run) But his second run, where he just dived onto the third base and lay there face down waiting for the ground to stop... I guess you had to be there...

Jamie and Jason turned up just before that, bearing chocolate. Jamie discovered that pillows and sleeping bags don't float... at one point in the rounders match, one of the Wiccans did something which caused BS Kate to yell, 'Heathen in denial!' I had just noticed Jason knee deep in the river, fishing out all the things that Jamie had dropped from the foot-bridge, so I called back, 'Nope, Heathen in de Clun.' No-one laughs at my jokes. :-(

We were quite civilized after that, going to the Sun pub in Clun for a meal.. Jamie brought us up to date with Grove news; Aud explained what it's like being 8 months pregnant; the Heathens (and a couple of Wiccans) on the next table ate all of the posh puddings before our table could order any, so Simon was guilted into giving Cabochon a bit of his. Mind you, after Cabochon got his own pudding, Simon was there with a fork, tasted and announced that it was worth dedicating his life to pudding thievery.

Then I went home. I saw a badger en route; saw an amazing sunset; and nearly fell asleep on the M54.

So, after all that, do you feel like you were there too? My work here is done. :-D


Wednesday, May 26, 2004

I suffer the dreams of a world gone mad
I like it like that and I know it
I know it well, ugly and sweet
I temper madness with an even streak

What a brilliant day!

I was dubious, I admit it, when I woke up after way too little sleep, but it was a great day. The main event was also the most insignificant one: THE GLASTONBURY PEOPLE ARE REFUNDING THE MONEY! I hadn't realized quite how much that had got me down, until last night when Kate took it off me.

A moment here just to talk about Kate - Fair Trade Kate, as she's known on the Grove - because I don't mention her enough. Generally when you say that someone's saved your life, you don't usually mean it. You mean that they've just made you a particularly welcome cup of tea. I mean it literally with Kate - physically, mentally, politically, spiritually.

Last night, I feel like she reached down and gave me a hand up to the levels of ordinary folk, I was so far down. I didn't notice how stressed I was, until she had the details of the Glastonbury situation off me and said that she'd deal. I was there until gone 11, ostentaciously to pick up some art for Phoenix, but also to get a car tape done. That was hilarious. It took us about five hours to fill a 60 minutes tape, with much laughter and silliness in between.

Two other momentous occasions, I met Nick for the first time since the Vicarage. It was ok - ten years have passed and a lot of life with it. Despite Kate's nerves and Nick's terror, it turned out very easy and, as I said, much laughter and silliness. I'm glad that was over with, because I know Kate's been fretting on it. The other was that I sat at Kate's computer and read a bit of 'Priestess' to her. Twice in one night transported to that time, but how changed are we? It was ok. More than ok, it was fun.

I returned home to find a lot of discussion going on about WG. We're into improvement mode now, but Cerr has already warned me that I'm strictly the web-site Mod. I'm doing as I'm told for once in my life. LOL I give myself two days. Any advance?

I feel into bed around 3am and was back up again at 7. It's overcast and rain is threatened out there all day, but I remembered my car-tape. It's a great tape. Hark this:

Side One:

1, 'Leave' by REM
2, 'Astronomy Domine' by Syd Barrett
3, 'White Rabbit' by Jefferson Airplane
4, 'In the Year 2525'
5, 'Ignoreland' by REM
6, 'Great Leap Forward' by Billy Bragg
7, 'A Girl Called Johnny' by the Waterboys

Side Two:

1, 'Country Feedback' by REM
2, 'Karma Police' by Radiohead
3, 'In my Place' by Coldplay
4, 'Sometimes I See the Point' by Billy Bragg
5, 'Memories of a Free Festival' by David Bowie
6, 'San Franscisco in the '60s' dialogue from 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas'


That got me to work and work just went whooooooooosh and was over. There was definitely a meeting about Disability in the middle, followed by lunch (I had leek and potato pie) on the house, but it feels like I blinked and my work day was over. It's so busy there that it's no wonder I'm knackered by the time I'm home, but I'm still enjoying it.

I came out of the meeting to two messages: the Glastonbury people to say that the money was returned to my account yesterday; and the tarot party people to see if I could go up tomorrow to do their cards.

*waves to everyone in MT* They've found my blog... *blush*

I can't look at Witchgrove tonight without grinning. It looks like EVERYONE has been on tonight, chatting on a variety of subjects. LAURIE CAME BACK! FELL TO EARTH TURNED UP! POPI'S BEEN ON! Roxanne, Georgia, Anna, Cerr, Bella, Pixie, Osran, Ananta-sesa das, Cabochon, WM Mike, Chelle, Lill, Clive, Genhorrall, Lenny, Jamie, Jen, Carrie, Minerva, Celtic, Phoenix, BS Kate, Froggie and Stayce. It's kicking!

I've got another chapter of 'Priestess' typed up. It's time, just as last night was the intro., tonight is me typing about the Vicarage. 10 years on. I'm quite grateful, in a way, that the writing style is so jarring and downright crap, as it keeps me from dwelling too much on what happened there.

Again, it's got just that right mixture of fact and fiction that it won't tell it as it happened at all. Still, I jumped ten miles when I read/typed 'then the banging began'. In my head, I was back in Julie's room, with it going on outside the door; as I type this, I'm back in the kitchen, with it going on upstairs. I don't want to be back in that kitchen, this time of night, alone, because I don't want to see her face in my head.

'I temper madness with an even streak...
That's what keeps me
That's what keeps me
That's what keeps me down
And leave it
Leave it all behind...'


Tuesday, May 25, 2004


Just after 10 past 1, I got hit with the biggest whack of energy known to humanity!

I was sitting there singing 'Country Feedback' in my head, 'I was central, I lost control, I lost myself...' and suddenly something hit the triskele on my back so hard I moved forward. It spread through me and all the things I'd achieved or pulled off went flooding through my head, like some mad slide-show. Within seconds it was finished, but 'KIN HELL!

Afterwards, I was just reeling, but standing tall. I've remembered my name.

It has to be a Grover. I didn't ask for energies and, on the contrary, I've been sending out this morning to my list of folk.

Note to self: Don't send when you badly need it yourself. Killing yourself helps no-one.


'But the noise goes on
The noise and the jibes...'

I finally got through to the Glastonbury ticket person who knows what she's talking about. Despite all of Pixie's priming me, I was downright shit and eventually just burst into tears over the 'phone.

The situation now:

* Person one said that all enquiries were dealt with from a different number, and gave me that number, but also told me that my account was being handled by Ruth

* Person two told me that Ruth had called me yesterday (no, she hadn't)

* Person three WAS Ruth. :-D She first of all said that it was all being dealt with today and not to afret on. Then she told me that she still hadn't received my statement, but it was ok, because Glen didn't need one. Glen is the person who can check their account to spot if I've been overcharged, and Tess has e-mailed him my statement, but he's been too busy to look at it.

* Glen is not contactable.

* Tess and Ruth are on the case with Glen and will get it sorted out today, but they do need my statement.

* Posting my statement isn't safe, the best way to get it to them is to fax them.

Towards the end of this, I got a text message on my 'phone, which even I heard (my ring tone is on top volume, so I can hear it). It was so obvious in the office already that I wasn't working and I'd been on the 'phone for 20 mins on my own business. I just burst into tears.

I know this is stupid, but I can feel my self-confidence just dipping away, as I daily get these affirmations from the ticket people that I'm useless. I can see it happening and I'm at war with myself to stop it happening. I stand there going over all the good and the great that I do, but I haven't yet got a good enough answer to the inner demon who patiently listens to all of it, then responds, 'If you can do all of that, how come you can't get a company to give you back £243 that they've effectively stolen from you?'

Sometimes I think I'd be better off crawling into a little hole and dying.


'...She's in somebody's else's hands
And the house that a girl called Johnny built
Is now just so much ashes and sand...'

I am getting more and more exhausted as time goes by. This evening I just sort of sagged and handed everything over to whoever was there to receive it.

Work was GREAT! There's a Summer School programme which allows a teenager to go to University for the week. There's a strict criteria on this programme, which ensures that those statistically unlikely to go to University, despite having the brains for it, are the ones on this placement. This means that Sarah has a lot of stick from pushy, middle-class mothers, who think that it's an outrage that their Florence can't go, when Jimmy from the estate can. *grin*

All of the places have been filled, but there is a reserve list and Sarah is really pushing for our kids to get places. She's so far placed 79 OVER THE ALLOCATION! So that's on top of the hundreds placed originally. Yesterday, she placed another three, each of which involved me racing down to the post-room to try and get it in on time. She kept apologizing for the work and cringing when she had to say there was another, but each time, I cheered. To me it's another one of our kids given a chance, and that's brilliant in my book.

I was on a right high when I got home. I danced around the kitchen cooking my tea; and danced at the sink doing the washing up. No music, but I was singing my head off... as you do. I'm quite cheap to entertain really. LOL Then I downloaded my e-mails and it seemed to be one request for energy or help after another; could you please do this, could you please do that. One of the poor Grovers made the mistake of e-mailing me to tell me to do more to help Cerr with WG. I wiped the floor with that one, though I did e-mail Cerr to see what else I could do to help her; she's e-mailed me back basically saying to slow down and stop doing half the things that I do do!

But the real crunch was when I called the Glastonbury ticket people. The wench on the end of the 'phone asked me to send my bank statement in, because they hadn't got it. I pointed out that it's been sent 3 times already and she said, 'Well, send it again.' I came off the 'phone with my eyes filled up in tears. I decided to hand it over to the Goddess and just on it, Cerr e-mailed! That answers that one.

In the end, it was Pixie in messenger who said all the right things and nudged me back on track. I want to be Pixie when I grow up.

After that, it just went yampy in messenger: me, Pixie, Roxanne, Anna, Cabochon, Osran and Georgia. I laughed so much that my throat hurt, my eyes ran (and I can't wipe them because of the contact lenses) and I couldn't type. It was brilliant tonic. That went on for hours, before everyone left except the WG Mods (minus Cerr). It just worked out that way, but it led to an impromptu Mod meeting. My brain was really fucked though, so all I was ask for instructions and give info, when called. I know that Anna was suss about this, because normally these sort of things are called on me having a meltdown/freakout, so it's unusual to have a Mod meeting which doesn't also double as Keeping Mab Calm. I was very much the passive Mod tonight, Cerr would have been very proud!

A great upshot of it was that I've finally got something to tell Jamie about the WG Jr's group. *happy dances*


Sunday, May 23, 2004

'She quoted Scriptures instead of screaming...'

I've just typed up another three chapters of 'Priestess' for Witchgrove, taking us to Chapter Sixteen uploaded now. I'm considering starting Chapter Seventeen now, because it's taking us to the Vicarage, but I really should do something else, seeing as I've been typing it up for the past six and a half hours.

Last week, Phoenix asked me if he could serialize it in an off-line magazine that he's creating. I said no, because it's shit. He didn't agree and the upshot was that he's going to rewrite it so it's not shit, then run it past me to see if I'll feel happier about it going out then. I offered 'Saving Anna' in it's place, but he seems set on 'Priestess'.

For those who have only just come across this blog, 'Priestess' is semi-autobiographical, though I've taken so many liberties with reality in it! LOL The strange thing is that I seem to have fictionalized the incidental bits, while leaving the major events more or less as they happened. I've squeezed a cast of thousands into a handful of people. With some, you can see the over-riding influence - John is mostly Eric, for example; while Lainie seems to be a mixture of Kate, Helen and Karen, but with Kate coming to the fore the further on it goes. There's even a bit of Nav in there situation-wise, as I never lived with Kate. While Michael is still such a composite of people that most of the lads in our gang, 1994-1996, could lay claim to him. I've got Tina narrowed down to five people now.

There are still odd paragraphs where the writer takes over and cringes; but on the whole, it's nowhere near as bad as the early chapters, where I'd happily rewrite the whole thing. There are a few points of continuity that I've had to alter, as the section sequences jump around from night to day and back again. The whole point of typing it up stemmed from a Witchgrove conversation where we were talking about what it was like to first totter onto the Pagan path. It occurred to me then that I had it all in a novel written more or less at the time. I don't know if I'd have offered it into the mix if I'd known how bad the writing was, but it's nearly up there now. I'm probably overdue a little dent in my pride! LOL

It's still weird typing it up. I'll go for a couple of hours either quite astounded at how different I am now to how I was during the time that Mara respresents; then suddenly there will be a comment and I'll get a stab of emotion over it. Gone is the faint maternal feeling that I have for her and it's patently obvious to me that I am Mara, just grown a bit. I'll feel the old outrage, only now I can handle it, or I'd just wipe the floor with the cause of it, whereas then I was too newly out of madness. That's one thing as I'm not sure comes across in the book, Mara is fragile as Hell, mentally. There's no real context for that in here, because it starts during the road back, without having the breakdown as a prologue. I think that that would be a better prologue than those included already. In the context of the story, there's no need to know about the fire incident for a start.

I wonder how far those reading this are looking at me now and thinking, 'Ah! I can see you, Mara...' *grin* I'll never be able to get away with anything ever again. LOL


Friday, May 21, 2004


I haven't said anything recently about my MA, so I'll nip in and say now, before the Wulfrunian gang start poking me (literally, they sit on either side and poke me with their fingers, that's why I got my project done, to stop them... *pauses to see if anyone is feeling sorry for me yet*)

Here's the story:

* My project got handed in on Friday 14th May.

* I had a meeting with Mike Cunningham on Tuesday 18th May. He looked over my proposal for my dissertation and was happy with it. Though the project is nominally separate, it could be read as chapter one of the dissertation (which means that the dissertation will start with chapter two). The dissertation will be about Wicca and academia still.

* I have a year (from when I register it) to write 15,000 words. I have the registration form, but I haven't handed it in yet. Mike, and possibly Pat Green (sociology), will be my supervisors/first and second markers.

So basically NOTHING IS DUE IN UNTIL THE END OF MAY 2005.* Stop poking me.


* Except for the registration form. The year clock starts ticking from when I hand that in.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Clearer Picture

Ok, I've messed around with the last six month's bank statements and I've finally come up with a proper picture of what's going on... which is all I need! Once I know what I'm heading for, I can do with without panicking too much.

January - got paid early and had Christmas/New Year/FT Kate's party - finished the month £392.83 overdrawn as a consequence.

February - finished £332.90 overdrawn.

March - finished £279.97 overdrawn.

April - the Glastonbury ticket fiasco, plus the phone bill and the forgotten Visa bill fiascos saw it all going very pear-shaped. I finished £758.35 overdrawn (minus Glastonbury money, which is coming back: £514.35 overdrawn). Without those, I would have actually had the overdraft coming down a little more again.

May - if all goes on course, I'll finish about £300 overdrawn. Or £400 overdrawn, depending on which version of my sums you believe. It comes out a different figure each time, but £300 is the best one, so I'm sticking with that.

I'm only not worried now because I can understand all of the above! That's all that was needful, someone who could speak maths working it out for me. Unfortunately, the above is me attempting to speak maths.


'Wandering and dreaming, the words have different meaning
Yes they did...'

I've dreamt about Syd Barrett for the past four nights. Each time I couldn't tell you what happened in the dream, just that Syd was there and so was I.

Syd Barrett


Yesterday's dream I remember a little about, but only a fleeting glimpse. There was a council of sorts, like the Jedi council in 'Phantom Menace', and I was just leaving it with Syd. Beltane had been on the agenda and was still very important.

I woke up thinking DO NOT under any circumstances forget that about Syd and Beltane, but it was gone as soon as I'd had my breakfast, lost under the banality of Good Morning Britain, before I was awake enough to think not to put GMB on in the first place...


Stolen off Karen the Heathen

You are the Minister of Silly Walks...Dare to be different!
You are the Minister of Silly Walks

What Monty Python Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

(Financial) Happiness is...

You know I said I was waiting for money to turn up in my bank account from
several sources? The biggest one has turned up this morning! :-D The second
biggest should be in there by Saturday.

Sooooooo... let's get this right... since my major panic and telling the Goddess
all about it in the toilet:

1, I've been booked for a birthday party to read tarot cards;
2, One of the organizers is the dude responsible for getting my MA credit note
in and that's been done;
3, My statement proving that they owe me money has turned up at the Glastonbury
ticket office;
4, FT Kate has offered to buy my Shambala ticket;
5, I've found a fiver in my bedroom;
6, The Paypal money transfer has finally turned up in my bank account;
7, The boss has signed my mileage form overnight, which means that I'll get 35p
x 63 in my wages this month, as well as the £180 First Aid money;
8, It's been pointed out to me that I'm going to be paid a week tomorrow,
because the following Monday is a bank holiday and the preceding two days are
weekend! We get paid on the last WORKING day of the month, not the last day of
the month.

And it's not yet 24 hours!


I didn't actually specifically speak to a named Goddess, nor even picture one.
To be honest, I thought I was just generally whinging in a toilet cubicle or
else I'd have been more respectful all round. I'd better give tribute to the
Lady generically or to the Triple Goddess and be done. What do the rest of you
do when you aren't sure which deity has helped you out?


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

More panicking

Sometimes I don't know my own strength. Another part of the panic is the Glastonbury ticket money, but I couldn't phone them because I haven't got my reference numbers; and I don't know where my statement went in cyberspace.

They've just this second e-mailed ME, confirming that they have my statement, but asking me to post it instead. Which I did on Friday.




- Trying to convince herself.

Oh No!

I've just done even more sums, and this time, instead of the previous 30 which all said, 'Everything is alright', this one now says, 'You're fucked.'

Going to hang myself.

Or have a fag.

I'll have a fag.



I'm sitting here with things just starting to unravel in my head. I think that all I need is someone to help me clarify things in my life. A big book, with my finances, my calendar/diary and my To Do list, all set out so I can see what it all looks like.

I need a priestess.

I resign. I'm going back to the first degree. It was easier.

Tap... tap... tap... come on Witchgrove. My e-mail's been up a whole ten minutes. Please someone wise be on. I thought there was a 24/7 wise person watch on this group!

Tap... tap... tap...

How much would it be to phone America at this time of day?


Panic Panic Panic Panic Panic

I don't speak maths and that is the problem. In the rest of my life, I have fingers in millions of pies and I can keep plates spinning all over the place without too much panic about dropping any; but I haven't the confidence to do the same with my finances.

Until now.

I still haven't the confidence, but I have the courage to ignore my own panicking in advance and just do it. This doesn't stop the panicking, it just means that I'm doing it regardless.

I knew that it would get worse before it got better, and it's just hit that all-time low. I'm just over a grand overdrawn, with my car's petrol gage on empty and only one packet of fags in my possession. Therefore I need to fill up the tank and buy at least two multi-packs of fags before I get paid.

I've been doing sums, columns of the things, and the sums tell me to stop fretting. I'll finish around £200 overdrawn, which is a vast improvement on the £700 I was overdrawn at the close of last month. That's taking into account the fags and petrol. These sums also tell me that by the close of June, I'll be fully solvent again, with all the world beautifully taken care of.

As long as this happens, that happens, the other happens and this happens...

Each of them being things that really should happen.

Then this... Here's how I put it on Witchgrove:

Hi all,

I'm knee deep in a panic attack about finances. The main problem here is that I don't speak maths and therefore all may be quite well on the financial front, but I can't see the bigger picture. I've basically spent the entire morning doing a task which is fairly no-brain (which is perfect for me at this very second), which has given me plenty of time to panic silently and reassure myself in equal measure.

About half an hour ago, I finally had enough of myself and said, 'Lady, please take this from me, before I panic myself into cancelling the camping trip and Shambala; and please could you send the calvary?' Being very strict on ritual, I did this in a toilet cubicle with my trousers around my ankles. LOL

Anyway, two seconds ago, I had an e-mail from the head of the registry. She's heard from someone that I'm clairvoyant. There's a party on Friday, where 30 odd people would like their tarot cards doing. Would I be interested and they are all willing to pay my going rate.

My going rate is free, but she doesn't know that.

I'm skint and I've never even considered taking money for it before, unless it's for charity and then it's only donations.

So, priests and priestesses of Witchgrove, is this the Lady saying, 'Oh! For fuck's sake, I'm sick of you panicking, just have some money and be done!' or is it the Lady saying, 'Let's see how stubborn you are about payment, when the chips are down...'


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

We'll Keep the Red Flag Flying Here

My life has taken off at a speed of knots again, though it feels like it's going relatively slowly because I'm addicted to 'Charmed' and going through cold turkey waiting for a new episode on Thursday.

However, I haven't written anything here since last Thursday, so... what's new here...
*stares at the calendar*

FT Kate and BS Kate did a great double act to ensure I woke up on Thursday morning, without having to knacker my neck up during the night. FT Kate phoned my landline and BS Kate texted my mobile (which was under the pillow). The real beauty was that this meant I was painfree in the morning and nicely rested. :-D Thank you ladies, you are true friends. :-D

Friday, I GOT MY MA ESSAY IN ON FRIDAY! :-D I also nipped into Wolverhampton centre and got a few errands done, before popping in to see Laura and pay her back the tenner I owed her. She invited me back to her house (en route we watched a bloke come off his bike and badly damage his thumb. Patched him up as best we could and off he went), then to watch Nathan (her son) play football. Me and Brendan (her other son) had a bit of a kick around on the touchline and I was surprised to find that I'm fitter than I thought I was. I was breathless by the end, but I wasn't dead! Ran home at half time, did the housework and was just looking at e-mails when FT Kate turned up.

Saturday was FUN! :-D Ft Kate and I went to The Levellers' Day.
We heard Tony Benn speak and Billy Bragg play, which was the main reason for going; but we hadn't realized that everything else would be so amazing too. Stalls were there from AI, Greenpeace, Fair Trade etc., there was a parade (which is always nice), and a lot of other speakers and music as well, including some Morris Dancers. I had a lovely cant with a Welsh nationalist from Cardigan, who nearly fell off his bench when I spoke in Welsh to him, and it turned out I was from Wolverhampton, not West Wales. :-D

The only downside was me getting a bit on the dehydrated side through the sun (but that wasn't a biggie and was soon under control) and the fact that I'd got a parking ticket when I returned to my car.

I hearby proclaim that we have to go back again next year (even though I was sunburned quite badly and had the sun glaring in my eyes most of the day).

Coming home was fun too. My windowscreen looked like a small insect massacre ground, so we pulled into a garage to jet-wash it. The force of the water was so unexpected, that I took several steps backwards before I could control the hose! LOL

Kate went home that night and I was in bed by half 10, which is unheard of for me.

Sunday: I was on the computer for most of the day, making a rare visit to Kindly Ones and typing up a couple more chapters of 'Priestess'. The second of these totally did my head in, because it involved Eric telling me what he thought I was (I'd forgotten, but in typing 'Priestess', I remembered it in real life too)... what did he think I was? Mab, the Fairies' Midwife. This half a decade before I encountered Mab via Clive Barker and named myself for her on the internet.


Thursday, May 13, 2004

Note to Self


So go to bed.


Wednesday, May 12, 2004

A Whiter Shade of Pale

I've just caught sight of myself in the bathroom mirror and I'm pure albaster. I'm generally quite pale to start with, but I'm pure white now. Mmmm...

I had a terrible morning. I didn't hear the alarm because I was lying on my good ear and the second alarm doesn't work. I think that the reason I was lying on my good ear was because I'd obviously taken the decision in my sleep that propping myself in one position using pillows (in order to hear the alarm clock) was way too painful, given the newly mended neck situation. I woke with the entire left side of my body feeling 'dead' - you know like when the circulation is cut off, so you shift it and then the blood rushes back? I had that in my left arm and my left leg, with the most peculiar feeling in my torso!

The upshot was that I overslept by an hour; raced like a mad bint to work and was in the sort of pain I haven't been in since about week two after the accident. As soon as I walked in, the entire of the office beseiged me with 'could you please do this?' and 'can I just tell you this?' No blame to them, because normally that's perfectly fine and acceptable, but I couldn't take any of it in and so I froze completely.

Soon as I had two seconds, I SOS-ed the Grove and then plastered the back of my neck in Movelat Gel. It took some of the pain away, but there was a band just underneath my shoulder blades as wasn't shifting. It was pure, unadulterated agony. In the end, I mentioned it to Caroline, who can't actually see me from her desk. My voice was cracking all over the place and I was trying really bloody hard not to burst into tears. She saw I was in distress and asked if I had any painkillers. I told her about the Movelat Gel and she asked if I had any internal painkillers.

It was THAT simple! But I couldn't think through the pain. I got 800mg of Ifobrufen down my neck and not long on it felt first one, then a second wave of energy from the witchy continguent. That's been continuing in waves all day now. By about 11, I was finally painless and able to calm right down. However, it wasn't until about 1, when all the clicking and clanking and twanging in my neck and shoulders finally stopped.

The painkillers wore off late afternoon, and my right shoulder (muscle-wise) and the right side of my neck started hurting again, though nowhere near as badly. I got another 400mg of Ibobrufen down my neck.

Plan B is naturally getting someone to 'phone me, but my phone is also my alarm clock. I could put it under the pillow on the basis that I'd hear that whichever way I was turned.

I often think it would be so much easier just to go completely deaf and be done.


Monday, May 10, 2004

Money panic attack

This really isn't a problem is it? I've been in shitloads of debt for over a decade now and I'm used to it. But I've worked so bloody hard to get out of debt and now it looks like I'm losing.

It's not that much - I finished last month £700 overdrawn and that was all. No debts in a dozen different places; just one loan which is being paid off. The Glastonbury ticket people owe me £244 because they took the ticket money twice and I've sent them the statement to prove it now. I've done some sums and if that comes back this month, and if I only spend money on fags and petrol between now and payday, then I'll finish this month £242.33 overdrawn. I'll have no savings, because that will be wiped out with road tax, as is due at the end of the month, but even by my maths, that's a lot of money to have paid back in a single month.

The pure maths isn't what's getting to me, it's this feeling. This sitting here doing columns of figures and thinking, 'I'm working bloody hard, why am I always in debt?' It's because in the meantime, I'd rather live, have the memories and the good times, than be lying in my coffin with the epitaph - She Was Really Good With Money, But Didn't Get Out Much.

This WILL be ok. Thank the Goddess for blogs.


Friday, May 07, 2004

Latest draft

Words: 5,428

The Historian’s Approach to the study of a New Religious Movement,
with Emphasis Upon Wicca.

The study of Wicca, as a New Religious Movement, brings to the fore many unique challenges for the historian. This essay has been undertaken to reflect upon the approaches to such a study, and as a rationale exploring the problems for the historian in researching Wicca; with reference to the broader context of studying religions and, in particular, New Religious Movements. Though issues concerning sources will be examined generally, this will be extended further in a dissertation and therefore a critical literature review, specific to Wicca, has not been included.

Wicca is a Pagan religion, whose early proponents claimed had existed since prehistoric times, but which was probably conceived during the 1920s (footnote Philip Heselton). It was introduced to the public at large in 1954, when Gerald Gardner published his ‘Witchcraft Today’, as an anthropological rebuttal of the claims of Pennethorne Hughes, whose ‘Witchcraft’ had been published *** years previously. Hughes stated that witchcraft, if it had ever existed outside the minds of the superstitious, was no longer practiced. Gardner responded that he had personal involvement within a modern ‘witch cult’ known as Wica. The popularity of the religion has escalated regularly in the intervening sixty years, though it is now known as Wicca. It is estimated that there are now **** Wiccans in Britain alone, with many thousands more located in many countries throughout the world.

It would appear that no scholar has previously formulated a methodology for, nor even debated approaches to, the study of Wicca. This fact is rendered unremarkable once applied to the wider context of studying religion. In 1959, Edwin R Goodenaugh, during his speech at the inaugural meeting of the American Society for the Study of Religion, stated that ‘we would do well to ask small questions until we have established a methodology we could all approve and use’. However, there is still no consensus in the academic world concerning the study of religion as a whole. Ursula King, in 1995, in her essay, Historical and Phenomenological Approaches, was still able to write,

‘The search for clearer concepts, definitions, and methods is still going on.’

It is against this wider context that a specific approach to the study of Wiccan history will be discussed.

One difficulty inherent in conducting a scholarly study of Wicca is that it crosses the academic spectrum, therefore the researcher must understand various disciplines. It is a subject which, for those being studied, impacts upon every aspect of their lives. Wiccans view the world itself in a certain way, according to a personal understanding of their religion. This will have implications sociologically, psychologically and politically; it will inform not only how they live their lives, but also how they approach their employment or studies. Also, in Britain, witchcraft (and, by association, Wicca) was illegal until 1951 and has been subject to negative social pressures since, therefore a knowledge about law, criminology and the social effects of decriminalization could arguably be useful.

It should be noted that this interdisciplinary consideration would be encountered in approaching the study of any religion . Waardenburg, in his Classical Approaches to the Study of Religion, wrote that ‘the study of religion is less one particular discipline than a field of studies with a strongly interdisciplinary character’. Waardenburg further warned that, as methodology varies according to discipline, he doubted that any single theory could account for the multiplicity of approaches. In contemplating this in the context of a broader scope of religious research, King concluded that,

‘… an exaggerated insistence on more rigorous methodological requirements can result in an unproductive intellectual aridity and a lack of creative originality, if not to say insight, in interpreting religious phenomena.’

The question therefore must be raised whether a standardized methodology can be theoretically developed for a historian of Wicca, as the historian’s perspective alone may be too narrowly focused without the insight provided by other disciplines. To concentrate solely within one academic discipline might arguably produce a snapshot perspective akin to judging the beliefs and practices of all Wiccans based on those of a single practitioner.

This problem, generic to the study of all religions, has already been recognized by those researching Wicca and witchcraft. GL Simons, in his preface to The Witchcraft World (1974), stated that previous books about witchcraft had had a narrow outlook, as their writers wrote within their own discipline, while ‘various disciplines… indicate their relevance to an adequate study of witchcraft.’ Social historian, Ronald Hutton, expressed the same sentiments twenty-five years later, when he wrote:

‘(Witchcraft does not fit into) a religious model which scholars trained in traditional history, theology, sociology, and anthropology find easy to understand; which is why, although pagan witchcraft has had a prominent public profile in Britain for half a century, it has been much less studied than other religious movements which have appeared or arrived more recently.’

This challenge results in a situation where it is difficult to find texts of a suitable standard upon which to base one’s own research, and where there are few academics who could critically review such a work afterwards.

This lack of academic interest raises another concern for those studying any new religious movement, in that the researcher needs to be assured that their own scholarly credibility will not be harmed by this study. There are questions to ask of themselves, their peers and those with a vested interest in their reputation, ie their employers or publishers. Is this movement a ‘real’ religion deserving of scrutiny? Can it be studied objectively and is there access to an adequate quantity of quality information about it? Academics may bring their own non-religious criteria into the research, for example, only affording a movement the status of being a ‘real’ religion if it has been academically studied before.

These considerations are more sharply focused by the fact that Wicca is, arguably, a relatively young religion. The historian usually relies upon primary sources dating from before living memory, whereas an enquiry into Wicca can lead to a situation where these primary sources can be amended or clarified by their point of origin. For example, it is possible to contact Patricia Crowther or Raymond Buckland to gain further insight into a source connected with them from the early days of Wicca. The historian is not limited to one’s own interpretation of what Gardner meant by a particular statement, when those to whom that statement was made are potentially available to contextualize it. While being useful in the respect that it provides greater insight; this also places the very human impetus on the historian to ‘get it right’ in order to preserve one’s own reputation.

It is worth exploring how undisclosed considerations might affect the approach to a study of this nature. For example, a Wiccan writing at odds with received Wiccan thought might gain scholarly kudos, on a personal basis and for the religion generally, in that it would be demonstrated that Wicca is not a ‘brainwashing’ religion. The temptation for the Wiccan scholar might be to become overly critical of Wicca for this very reason. It would demonstrate to religious researchers that ‘x’ amount of years of Wiccan practice does not erode the ability for a practitioner to examine the religion critically, which would elevate the reputation of the religion within those circles. This, in turn, renders the study of Wicca less ‘risky’ to non-Wiccan scholars, which may result in further academic studies. From the perspective of Wiccans, the benefits of this approach would be that the greater the number of academic papers, then the wider the understanding of ‘outsiders’ resulting in a more encompassing acceptance within the framework of mainstream culture.

However, those of a non-scholarly bent, within the Pagan community, may focus on the unsympathetic nature of the composition alone. Equally, living sources tend to be quoted because they are influential within the community, and if these sources are treated unsympathetically, then this same influence could be used to ostracize the researcher throughout the Pagan community. An unsympathetic stance would also provide a fertile source for the anti-cultists, who would be able to quote an academic Wiccan discussing Wicca from a seemingly critical perspective. The temptation therefore, for the Wiccan scholar, would be exclude important information which had been learned ‘off the record’, and to be sympathetic, or deliberately ambiguous, in their conclusions, in order to preserve personal good-will within their own religious community, while not providing ‘ammunition’ for the anti-cultists. This stance, of course, invalidates the previously discussed benefits of an unsympathetic analysis upon the academic community.

Such considerations are not entirely confined to Wiccan scholars. The non-Wiccan researcher may not be concerned about the opinion of the Pagan community on a spiritual basis, nor would be concerned about damaging the reputation of the religion generally, if the conclusions reached were genuinely incompatible with received Wiccan thought. However, a scholar wishing to focus upon Wicca in future studies would have to apply caution for fear of burning bridges; similarly, adherents of another non mainstream religion might be wary of permitting close analysis of their own practices, if it was noted that this scholar denigrated those of a previously studied New Religious Movement.

The obvious solution, for both Wiccan and non-Wiccan scholars, is to approach the study of Wicca as objectively as possible; to present value-free facts and to refer to sources without a judgment upon the rights and wrongs of that source; to provide both sides of an argument, without expressing overt support for either position; and to allow the reader to reach their own conclusions. Such a stance would result in a dry dissertation, lacking depth and, instead of adding to the sum of knowledge, would serve only to reinforce the previously held opinions of the reader, as an historian would not have overtly placed a judgement upon the findings and therefore would have to present all evidence as equally significant and valid. In short, this approach would be a mere collation of empirical evidence, with which would seem to contribute little to the study of the subject.

There have been highlighted three approaches to the study of Wicca: firstly, the overly critical approach; secondly, the sympathetic approach; and thirdly, the objective but dry approach. The pros and cons of these would have to be considered by its ultimately human researcher, and a decision made as to the most appropriate in the circumstances of the research. This decision would affect how the research is approached, the selection of the sources, its writing up and finally how accessible subsequent placement of the work, but it would be based on concerns outside of direct academic methodology and consequently not overtly apparent to the readership.

Examining the case of Tanya Luhrmann provides an example, of how these considerations might be applied and received in practice. Luhrmann’s methodology, as a doctoral researcher within the Pagan community, included attending Pagan meetings and joining covens. She neither used a tape recorder nor took notes at such gatherings, but relied upon a mnemonic technique in order to record her findings later. As a result, many of those being studied forgot or were never aware that she was an academic researcher, until after her thesis had been completed. She stated that some were angry or disturbed by the revelation. Her thesis, however, is subject to restricted viewing. It may be ordered via inter-library loan from the University of Cambridge, but cannot be removed from the library of the recipient University. Therefore it is likely that only academics would be able to read it.

However, three years later, Lurhmann’s thesis was published as a book entitled, Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft. Hutton commented upon its reception,

‘Reactions to her book among British witches were proportionately divided, some emphasizing the fact that it had at last brought their religion to the attention of mainstream intellectual culture, while others were more concerned with her apparent dismissal of their practices as founded on delusion.’

*Find out if the thesis and the book are identical – wait on Anna Alexander procuring the book for me 15.3.04*

There appear to be no texts, focusing solely upon Wicca, written by those who definitely view the religion as simply another spiritual path. This is the view taken in overviews of New Religious Movements, which, while including Wicca, do so as only one of hundreds of religions being explored, and appear confused as to its placement. For example, Eileen Barker affords only seven complete pages, and four assorted paragraphs, concerning Wicca, scattered throughout her work; but mentions Wicca by name only once, instead assuming that all witches are Wiccan, and that related paths include Shamanism and Satanism . David Barrett similarly dedicates only five full pages, and six paragraphs, to Wicca, but indexes Druidry and the Pagan Federation under the heading ‘Wicca’.

The academics who are willing to undertake a scholarly study focusing solely on Wicca tend to be Pagans, or else have not disclosed their religious affiliations. Dr Vivianne Crowley (King’s College, London), Dr Raymond Buckland (Ohio University) and Philip Heselton are Wiccans; Dr Jo Pearson (Cardiff University) was a Wiccan, though her beliefs are now a private matter; while Prof Ronald Hutton (University of Bristol) has not disclosed his religious path. Those writing on the subject in a non-academic capacity are generally practicing Pagans, with the exception of those writing from the perspective of a religious doctrine which condemns witchcraft. This creates a natural ‘for or against’ polarity within the sources themselves, whose authors are either advocates or critics of the religion. Therefore, the current debate amongst theologists, about whether a religion is better researched by those within or without it, is relevant to the study of Wicca.

This situation also poses a challenge for the historian in that there are no secondary sources about Wicca from a confirmed ‘outsider’ perspective, other than short descriptions in overviews of New Religious Movements. This may be compared to a similar situation wherein the studies done on the Baha’i religion, though numerous, have almost all been written by Baha’i scholars. This could lead to the assumption, by those outside of the religion, that its scholars are adhering to subjective policy or tenets from within it, or, in some cases, might be ‘brainwashed’ and therefore unable to effectively enquire about issues concerning their own religious system.

The study of a religion for the historian is arguably easier than for scholars of other disciplines. The historian is not concerned with matters of theology or philosophy, but simply in how that religion came to be and its evolution to the state of that religion today. King, made this point about the theory and study of religion,

‘The historical… approach (is)… generally understood to be non-normative, that is to say, to describe and examine facts, whether historically or systematically, without judging them from a particular theological or philosophical standpoint.’

In short, it may be neither possible nor desirable to be objective in the study of religion, yet this is precisely the expectation placed upon the historian; though the conclusions arising from these facts may be developed from a particular perspective, for example Marxism or Feminism. Subjectivity would also be a factor in the historian’s decision regarding which topic to address and which facts may be selected for inclusion.

However, as Robert Crawford warned, in What is Religion?, historians can easily miss the significance of any writing on the subject of the religion under scrutiny, as such writings are the subjective responses of believers. Historians tend to dismiss this subjectivity, seeing the work as part of ‘a progressive understanding by humanity’, rather than the understanding of one individual or sect; which is a standpoint which led Ursula King to ponder if objectivity misses the value of the facts. Both Jean Holm, in The Study of Religions, and Crawford suggest that a religion is best studied either by a practitioner of it or by extensive consultation with a wide selection of practitioners. Crawford warned that, for the non-believers, ‘judgment of value often occur’, which could lead to the academic missing the subjective reactions of the same source on believers. Holm wrote,

‘If we want to understand a religion we have to ask what a particular belief or practice, story or event, means to a believer, not what it means to us, and what better way is there to supplement our study of literature than by getting to know adherents of the religion?’

The implied challenge is that any interaction between researcher and adherent is bound to shape their beliefs to a lesser or greater degree. Clive Erricker was emphatic on the point that ‘the study of religion cannot be a purely objective enquiry but must take account of the researcher’s involvement in the subject itself.’

If, as would appear to be the case, the historian would benefit from a subjective understanding of the beliefs and practices of Wicca, in order to research its history, then should this subjectivity be confined to a single Tradition within Wicca? Just as questions might be asked about the perspective of a Protestant commenting upon the history of Catholicism, then similarly an Alexandrian debating Gardnerianism might lack the required insight, despite the shared roots of the two Traditions. However, it might be considered that, just as Protestants know something of Catholicism, then Alexandrians have an empathic understanding of the tenets of Gardnerianism, as these are the two main Traditions within Wicca.

Vivianne Crowley identified five major Wiccan Traditions: Gardnerian (based on the teachings of Gerald Gardner); Alexandrian (based on the teachings of Alexander and Maxine Sanders); hereditary covens (Pagan traditions passed down through generations of a particular family); Traditional Witchcraft (based on the teachings of Robert Cochrane); and Dianic Wicca (feminist and singular amongst the British Traditions in that it originated in America). Arguably, if the requirement for better academic enquiry is for the historian to be Wiccan, then the same arguments would require the historian to confine their enquiry to sources within their own Tradition and conclusions based only upon that Tradition.

The greatest challenge to that restriction, at this point in time, would lie in the sources available; and would exclude utterly the other influences upon the sources and practitioners of the Tradition, throughout its growth, by other practicing Wiccans. Each Tradition has not grown in isolation to the others. They each have shared roots (though this is debated by the hereditary covens and adherents of Traditional Witchcraft), which are, at the earliest, only sixty years old. Therefore the respective schisms between these Traditions must be relatively recent and between people from a similar cultural background, and so would not generate an insurmountable lack of empathy. Furthermore, the shared common ground is greater than the differences once these schisms are scrutinized, for example, between Alexandrian and Gardnerian Wicca, as Crowley commented upon,

‘The two traditions use more or less the same ritual material and Alexandrian Wicca can be seen as a Gardnerian offshoot. The differences are more in the ritual style and outlook than anything else. Loosely speaking, the Gardnerians could be described as more ‘Low Church’ and the Alexandrians more ‘High Church’ and Alexandrian witches tend to be more interested in ritual magic than in folk Paganism.’

Nevertheless, Crowley felt it necessary to state that her own perspective was ‘a unification of the Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions’, and that her work was confined to enquiries within these traditions.

Contrary to these considerations, Tanya Luhrmann, whilst researching Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft, explicitly stated that she consciously chose to ‘view phenomena as an academic and not as a witch’; though, as has already been shown, religious scholars have argued that that would be an impossible position to take. This is a factor which Wiccan High Priest and author, Charles Arnold, suggested is of lesser importance in the research of Wicca,

‘Such a position may be nearly impossible in religions where there are many generations of accrued culture and history into which the researcher is born. It must be noted that such a depth of culture is lacking in Wicca and the experience of acculturation is far shallower as well as being an adult conscious absorption in Wiccans.’

It may be concluded that, while it is not essential, it may be beneficial to the academic study of Wicca, to have an understanding of a Wiccan Tradition, through oneself being Wiccan or otherwise sympathetic to the values and spiritual/religious beliefs of Wicca. However, it is not necessary for an adherent of one Tradition to be considered without subjective insight into the beliefs and practices of another Wiccan Tradition, at this stage in the evolution of the religion as a whole.

Holm highlighted the fact that individual practitioners of a certain religion may not be representative of the whole, and also that how a religion is perceived may differ greatly in respect of the country and culture within which it is practiced. She used the example that Christianity, as a set of beliefs, may appear to be the same on paper, but is generally approached in very different ways in the West Indies and Britain; while also making the point that cross-cultural material and legends might mean different things to different Traditions, an example being how the Torah is treated by Judaism and Christianity respectively.

King raised a similar point in regard to the phenomenological approach to studying religion, which she stated had identical challenges to that of the historical approach,

‘The methodological presuppositions of phenomenology imply several philosophical assumptions regarding the essence of religion and the nature of religious experience, too easily assumed to be the same in all people and places… No phenomenologist can ever deal with all phenomena and the particular ones chosen for investigation are often dealt with in isolation from the wider context necessary for their explanation.’

Phenomenology is a method, developed within the Religious Studies discipline, which adopts the participant-observer approach to the study of a religion. This is in an attempt to create a ‘bridge of understanding’ between the objective researcher, who participates in most aspects of the particular religious practice, and the subjective believers. This approach to primary sources is similar to the historian’s in all but the time frame. While a phenomenologist might visit a modern temple in order to gain an insight into the mental, emotional and spiritual state of its clergy and practitioners; an historian is generally reliant on archived artefacts and writings, from a past temple, to gain insight into the same, as its clergy and practitioners may be long gone. Therefore, an important point might be made that if a phenomenologist approach, which is so similar to an historian’s approach, cannot be objective, can any? It might not be possible to develop a methodology that bypasses the limitations of the historical/phenomenological approach.

Dr George Chryssides challenged the view that such subjectivity is necessary at all, as it is not the purpose of the scholar to ‘adjudicate on questions of truth’ but ‘ascertain what (the) beliefs and practices actually (are)’. However, he was concerned with understanding the phenomena of a particular religion, rather than its historiography, though, as King noted, the two approaches face similar challenges. Chryssides criticized the existing approaches to studying new religious movements, which he identified as: i) the ‘Two Columns Approach’, which compares the doctrines of the new religion with those of an established religion, in order to prove the superiority of the latter as a benchmark standard; ii) the ‘Odd Points Approach’, which presents an assortment of tenets, beliefs or practices, without attempting to ascertain value or to connect them together, as if they provided a serious account or encapsulated the essence of the religion; iii) the ‘Lop-sided Approach’, which elevated certain aspects of the religion, whilst ignoring others; and iv) the ‘Ex-member Approach’, which assumes ‘that their ex-members are the best custodians of knowledge regarding’ the religion in question, regardless of the length of time that they spent within it, or how great was their access to esoterical information. Chryssides concluded his article by arguing that the challenges inherent in adopting the phenomenological approach, to studying new religious movements, are no different to those inherent in studying established religious movements.

Within the context of the present study, it may be debatable whether the Wicca of Britain, the United States of America, Canada and Australia may be considered the same. Though sharing common roots, each country has evolved its own hierarchy of Wiccan writers and ‘celebrities’, which would inform the national Wiccan practices. How comparable the Wicca of differing countries may be is subject to further research; though it is anticipated that these issues would be similar to those already discussed within the context of the differences between Traditions, due to the relative recent history of the diaspora, and the fact that each country’s Wicca is based upon the same primary sources. Therefore, in regard to ritual and belief, the Wicca of different countries should be expected to correspond as well as, say, the Wicca of different covens within the same Tradition, with any major differences explained simply as the influence of the personalities involved on a local level.

However, in the broader context of culture, the concerns of the practitioners may vary greatly in order to reflect the wider concerns of the population within their own country. An example would be that issues of secrecy may feature highly in the life-styles of those Wiccans practicing in countries subject to Sharia Law, whilst being of lesser consideration to British Wiccans practicing in a country where legislation has protected their religious rights. It should also be noted that Wicca has grown (and may have been conceived) within the age of mass communication. Literature crosses borders easily, as do practitioners and speakers. The advent of the internet, mailing groups and chatrooms ensures that Wiccan ideologies are debated globally, with adherents influencing each other, regardless of national, or even Traditional, concerns. Without an international census of Wiccan concerns, it is impossible to judge how differently practitioners approach their belief systems and integrate them into their lives according to their national context.

Beyond questions of nationality, or adherence to a particular Order or Tradition, there is also the individual’s level of participation, ie the difference between the extremely devout and those who simply consider themselves a practitioner of that religion. Dr Chryssides provided the analogy of a car’s driver and a mechanic examining the car. The driver knows how to drive it and applies the mental energy simply to do so, but is ignorant about the workings of the engine or how this car is mechanically operating; however, the mechanic knows all of these things. Adherents of new religious movements have generally converted to the movement, rather than being raised within it, simply because of the fact of its newness; therefore they are usually ‘mechanics’ rather than ‘drivers’.

Another concern raised by Holm is that subtle changes can happen within religions, which might not be obvious to the outsider. An example within Wicca concerns the initiation ritual, as described by Arnold,

‘There are… seemingly small but, in fact, glaring differences between American and British Gardnerian Wicca. These changes came out of a fear, real or imagined, that there was a serious danger of sexual impropriety via initiatory practices in the US. As there was no such fear in Britain, such changes in the initiation were never made.’

This fact would not be obvious from the literature on Wicca.

An historian embarking upon a study of British Wicca will be presented with a wealth of primary sources and very few secondary sources of an academic standard. There is a sizable bibliography of studies undertaken in America, where scholars have researched and debated the subject since the early 1970s. However, until it can be ascertained what differences are engendered by national identity, American studies cannot be presumed to apply to the Wicca found elsewhere. Therefore, the first consideration in the source selection depends upon the nation under scrutiny.

A non-Wiccan studying Wicca must first understand the different Traditions and the major writers within those Traditions, before making their selection; which is a daunting prospect given the sheer volume of literature available on the subject. On the other hand a Wiccan researching Wicca may compromise impartiality in the source selection process. This may manifest in three ways:

Firstly, the exclusion of any sources which undermine the credibility of Wicca or its practitioners. For example, Simons raises some interesting points about methodology; however, the tone of his writing is antagonistic towards Wiccans throughout, overtly stating his contemptuous bias in his introduction and concluding his work with the statement that modern witches are ‘primitive’. A Wiccan attempting to create an intellectual piece of research may opt to exclude a source which blatantly questions their intellect, unless it is as a source upon which to base a critique of Simons’s conclusions.

Secondly, but interlinked with the first point, the exclusion of any sources which undermine the personal credibility of the researcher. For example, Laurie Cabot provided an insight into the psychology and practice of Wicca, which might render the debate over the origins of the religion irrelevant. However, she did this in a book entitled Love Magic: The Way to Love Through Rituals, Spells and the Magical Life. This is obviously not an academic text, it is written for and marketed towards the young or vulnerable in society, and the very title would probably not recommend the source to non-Wiccan academics other than as primary evidence. From a Wiccan perspective, this constitutes an issue of personal credibility, as the author is well-known within the community, wherein she is generally not welcomed as a representative source. There is also a large school of thought which would deem ‘love magic’ as contrary to Wiccan practice. Nevertheless, its exclusion would deprive research into Wiccan origins of an alternative point of view, and, as with Simons, Cabot could be considered as a basis for critique and discussion.

Thirdly, as already discussed, Wicca is a generic term encapsulating many orders and traditions. While these traditions could be categorized into Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Traditional, Hereditary, Dianic and Other, even within these groupings, there are hundreds of greater and lesser traditions reflecting different beliefs. A direct analogy would be Christianity as a generic term encapsulating Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy and others. While the challenges inherent in research, for example, into Lutherian traditions conducted by a Catholic, might be understood, precisely the same challenges affect, for example, an adherent of Traditional Witchcraft studying Gardnerian Wicca. Further complicating this issue is the fact that animosity has existed in the past between some of the older traditions, and, in some cases, still does.

A final consideration in dealing with primary sources is that, while Wicca is a new religion, and the sources are written in modern European languages, Western society has changed a great deal in the sixty years since Gardner’s Witchcraft Today and the present time. It may be difficult for modern readers to understand empathically the impact of literature, from the early days of Wiccan writing, on their contemporary readership. For example, Philip Heselton, in Wiccan Roots described the problem of summarizing a philosophy, which, he argued, informed Gardner in the revival of Wicca.

‘… popular awareness of esoteric matters has changed markedly in the 60 years or more since most of the pamphlets were written. Much of what one might call the esoteric teachings of the Order are now so much part of general thinking, certainly among the pagan and New Age communities of which I am familiar, that one finds it difficult to formulate in modern language what is being said let alone realise the impact which such teachings had on a variety of interested individuals.’

This could also serve as an example of how an important theological point, which may have influenced the course of Wicca’s development, might be missed as the objective historian concentrates on fact alone.

To conclude, in the study of any religion, there is a contradiction between the historian’s objective approach and the subjective nature of many of the decisions necessary in effectively researching the topic. As a New Religious Movement and one under-represented in scholarly works, the study of Wicca gives rise to further issues of personal and academic integrity, which brings the insider/outsider debate into sharp focus. To date, there appears to be no single theory to account for the many approaches, which the historian may undertake in researching Wicca, though Phenomenology might be seen as approximate to acceptable historical methodology.


Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it's this last week. I blinked and missed it, but then again, it feels like I've packed a year's worth of living into it. So many different scenes, different people, different locations, different roles. :-D

You like it like this
and you know it...


Let's go through it:

Friday: Work was yampy as Hell, and I left it past 5 feeling so knackered that I could barely think straight. It was Beltane and I ended up over the old quarry learning how to walk on water.

Saturday: ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! Drove down to Glastonbury - the complete roll call of Black Country/Brum people in our gang was: me, BS Kate, Laura, Brendan, Jennie (Magenta), Simon, Scott (Cabochon), Ian, Phoenix, Juell, Aud and Robbie. (Yes, I did work my way through the cars there! LOL) We took over the Blue Note, wandered around the shops - which I got to see through the eyes of a child and those new to Glastonbury; and I found the one needful book as I'd said was missing from my witchy collection, in the one bookshop I went into - the Margaret Murray 'Witch Cult' one. Initiated Scott on the Tor and went for an Italian meal. WOW WOW WOW! :-D It was a long day - 6.30am until 2.30am the next day - but so worth it. Again! Again!

Sunday: Got caught up a bit here and then drove over to FT Kate's. We ended up at Mark's flat, in Halesowen, and had a fantastic night there; all very chilled out and in love with the world.

Monday: After a couple of hours sleep again, I drove over to Halfpenny Green to the Re-Enactment Camp there, where Andy and Karen were being Vikings. I got there for about half 10 and stayed until knocking on half 3. I was with Jamie and Jason for much of that and Jamie and I got to try a bit of archery. We're ready to defend our forts now. *snigger* Later on, Laura, Cam, Nathan and Brendan turned up too.

Tuesday: Another yampy day at work, followed by the Wolverhampton Moot. I was reading Tarot cards for most of the night, right up until the landlord sent Andy to tell us to go!

Wednesday: Spent the morning taking minutes at a high level meeting, where it seemed that all of these VIPS were one step away from smacking each other. By dinnertime, it also felt like everything I touched turned to ashes and the self-esteem took a plummet. In the afternoon, Caroline, Sarah and I drove up to Telford to look around the facilities for the Conference we're hosting there. I took a wrong turn on the way back, and Caroline and I were in Shrewsbury before I could turn around again. Halfway back, Laura texted me and during the cause of the evening it became clear that Cham Patel had died. We knew him from Dudley, and I spent most of last week having at least one phone conversation a day with him. He was only 39 and just died in his sleep. There will be a post-motem to find out why. :-( Then, mid-evening, I ended up in an Indian restaurant with Mum, Dad, Lynn and her (grown up) kids.

Today: The intraweb crashed at work, so I was busy with non-e-mail type jobs, which doesn't leave much in my job. I've signed up to be a designated First Aider, which gives me an extra £180 in my wage packet, I've discovered. But I didn't know that previously. The main benefit for me is that if someone needs First Aid, I can just do it, instead of walking on egg-shells as I did at the GSO, sneaking the aid in. Came home and I've been working down my 'To Do' list again. Here it is (since April 27th (I think)), published here mainly so I can see it at work tomorrow and cross more things off. What's already done is in bold:

Get tickets for Levellers Day
Sort out Glastonbury ticket money
Put sunflower in the garden
Error check and defrag this bloody computer
Fill in MA registry form
Get MA amendments done
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Find the lost bibliography in WG
Colette's Tarot
WG's Tarot
Remember first aid cert. for work
Link to Shewolf's site from the PHC site
Build Live How You Listen website
Laura's Mirror pic
Laura's discussion onto the website
Becca's poem on the Bards
Chase Vijay and see if he's decided about Presidency
Finish going through Shewolf's site (from Wicca history onwards)
See Kate W
Add Mike Gleason's review
Update posts page
Do oil and read 1st initiation for tomorrow
Write to list about distraction and energies
This Month in the Grove
Renew Amnesty membership
Watch Kate's video before Saturday
Get back to PG Society about Presidency
Check statement and find out how the sweet proverbial I got so overdraw
Chelle's poem in bards
Add Gen's blog to blogspot
Speak to Cabochon about 2nd initiation
Write something for FotH
Clean fish out
Go up the Co-Op
Go up Wednesfield and give Liam his pressies
Find card for Heather
Read through 2nd initiation again for Beltane
Html weekly discussion
Fix connection to website
Chase essay
Chase pay slip
Fill in solicitor's form and get it signed and sent
Read PHC e-mails
Upload Karen's pic for photo page
See if I can hurry up bank statement re Glastonbury
Html my review of Heselton's book
Review Philip Heselton's 'Cauldron'
Empty inbox
Do Cherokee's reading
Write to Roxanne re Temenach
Ask Laura about Pat Green's essay
Write something for reader's e-mails for WWW
Write to Patricia re her Green genealogy
Write to Sharon re her Hickman genealogy
Reply to 'Priestess' questions from Cailet and Corey
Html 4 reviews from Mike Gleason
Get up-to-date with WG
Try and participate in KO
Write Bella re Beltane
E-mail Jamie about Tuesday
Read and comment on Ogma 1
Read and comment on Ogma 2
Read and comment on Ogma 3
Read and comment on Ogma 4
Read and comment on Ogma 5
Read and comment on Ogma 6
Read and comment on Ogma 7
Read and comment on Ogma 8
E-mail Kate re dictionary

Ok, time for bed. I've gone well knackered.


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