Monday, 27 September 2010

Hermes, a mooting and the simple Craft.

A cloudless sky greets the dawn, the lady Celeste still resplendent amidst the azure blue, in the far off distance the geese herald the first real call, announcing that autumn has now truly arrived, Jack has yet to set heel to field but soon his feet may tread the soil.
A mercurial time of messages and messaging, some good and some not so, transport issues now sorted much to our relief, not to mention the viral blight that has plagued my family for the last two weeks is finally in remission to the disappointment of messieurs Smithkline Beecham.

The hearth and the chimney are swept clean in preparation for the onset of colder weather, a good opportunity to brush away other issues also, the simple tasks are easy to transpose into magical ones, action becomes action of a different kind, the black soot of the home disposed of along with the unwelcome aspects that hang around the Cunning man's household, our home can once more breath again, the spirits of the house prefer a clean hearth as does my own.
I have always been drawn toward the simplicity and useful attributes of the kitchen witch, often simple in their structure and operation, and even more often over looked by others, a way to retain the connections we make at major workings, cleaning becomes a kind of exorcism, the preparation of food combines and provides actual physical sustenance and spiritual also, all tasks are capable of taking on magical attributes, from locking a door to taking a bath, they become those small rituals that bring magick into our everyday lives, our home becomes a castle, a sacred place in it's own right, safe and protected by everyday actions.

I have often in the past been very scornful with regard to gatherings of "pagans", the politics and personal power games that take place are not for me or my tribe, attendance leading to bitter disappointment has meant that we long since gave up going to moots and such like, I feel now though my mind could be swayed, at least a little, by an event we briefly attended this weekend.
Congratulations on a job well done go out to Chris and his friends who put together the Pagan Pride southwest event in Plymouth on Saturday, we were only able to pop along for a short while but from what we saw it seemed to be a good affair, the mood was light and there were many happy faces, untypically celebrating that which we have in common and not harping on about differences or making claims to correct methods, authenticity and so on, Conducted with pride and honour by all those involved.
Very refreshing, and not just the north wind, I think it went well and the work put in over the recent years has payed off, it will be interesting to see how this will grow over the coming time and if this will become an annual event, great to catch up with a few people that we do know and respect as well.

So we may well, as we are invited, attend a small moot that is as I write this being planned by the above, by our own choice we have managed to fly beneath the Pagan radar for so many years, now may be the time to break cover and get out more, meet some people, and greet them with a better view and less trepidation, I am looking forward to meeting others, soon to be here and early next year the Macleods are flying north.

This has been the year of communication for me, I have found Hermes and he is very much lighting the way, he even allows me to leave Cornwall on occasion, I am very much enjoying the contact with others, an indulgence that I have let go for far too long, there are those in this world that I feel have a fighting chance at understanding my nature, people that in my ignorance I thought could never be found, an acceptance of fate it its entirety and I find myself happily at the start of a new life, I have a bunch of keys but I am at a loss with which door to open first. A student at the first year of college once again, keen and eager, hoping to learn but dreadfully afraid of failure.

There is a door that I cannot open that concerns my own fate, past, present and future, perhaps one day I will have the key to that one, I feel at this time that it is one that may have to be opened for me, a dear wise friend told me of this many years ago and at that time it was not right to open that door, I now reckon the time draws near to perhaps have a peek around the corner.

I have enabled anyone to be able to leave comments on this page, I will moderate so as to avoid those of bad motive and malice, so feel free to speak freely, if your opinions are valid you will of course not be anonymous even if you are a Norfolk Bronze Turkey with delusions of grandeur.

FFF. Tony.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Night Queen and the mystery of Cunning evolution.


skill employed in a shrewd or sly manner, as in deceiving; craftiness; guile.
adeptness in performance.
showing or made with ingenuity.
artfully subtle or shrewd; crafty; sly.
Informal . charming or appealing
Archaic . skillful; expert.
Having Knowledge- Kenning or Knowing

The time for anonymity is over, those who follow this blog are mostly aware of who "The Cunning Man" is anyway.
When integrity is bought into question one has to stand by ones principles and if necessary take it on the chin, the question of anonymity was never really an issue for me anyhow, a Cunning man is perhaps more what I would be inspired to become rather than a
title I lay claim for myself, it is for others to decide if and when I ever reach that goal.

The morning awoke to thick mists once more, appropriate for this time of the year subtly reflecting the mood in my own head, a feeling of not one thing or another, a confused state of being waiting for the change in season proper, roll on the dark nights of hidden knowledge and pleasure, shorter days of work governed as they are by the light of our solar chieftain, from the darkness spring forth great sparks of light and inspiration. Perhaps that spark which inspires may take the form of dear friends that hope to visit prior to all hallows eve, there is much indeed to look forward to as lady fate lays down another thread for this one.

Knowledge and the pursuit of knowledge takes my mind to the British museum once more, for many years I have(as I have mentioned previously) studied within my social and ethnic sphere, rarely looking around the world for the inspiration that may lie there, happy to sit in my muddy pool of ignorance, often where the answers to my questions could never be found or at best confirmed.
It is by looking around the world and examining articles of another faith that the truths can indeed be confirmed or enlightened upon, again we touch on what is similar over those petty differences and see that in the past of all nations the world over there were and still are many common methods and goals.
There was a time when this one would have considered it not applicable to gaze upon a Asian statue depicting The Night Queen goddess of death, dismissing it as something belonging to another culture from an unconnected civilisation, yet from beneath the blindfold of ignorance I see her, she is beautiful and I know her, she may have a different set of features to those I have seen but it is she that I will one day dance with, one and the same, no stranger at all.
Throughout the museum this can be observed , within the hypnotic carvings the statuary and the art, all pointers to that common ground, signposts that tell me that I am indeed on the right path to becoming that to which I aspire.

Another thought;Could it for one moment be supposed that the Human race reached its peak of evolution thousands of years ago, we have been so wrapped up in the idea that this primal need should be judged on the basis of technological advancement, at the cost usually of art and the spiritual needs of mankind, the pleasure found within the everyday objects used by our worldly ancestors points to this possibility, evolution is a must but how are we to gauge what constitutes evolution.
Gazing into the countless cabinets from across the globe and across the ages of man I see value, not in the way we count it now but in a way that explodes with an understanding of the cosmos, lost to so many in the rush for the latest phone or computer, the artisan craftsmen took delight in the decoration of plates, cutlery and glass, and the owners of such would then in turn taken great delight in using said items, food and wine a pleasure and a gift to be celebrated and enjoyed, not something served on a plastic tray by a modern day slave, processed food in front of a flashing screen that gives imaginary insight into the lives of imaginary people, a meal to fuel the body but no longer the soul.
If we cannot take pleasure in the simple things in life, a meal, a sunrise, art and music, the way the clouds part to reveal the lunar radiance above, then we miss the point of life altogether, our ancestors knew this and I propose that this is why everyday things had to be things of great beauty, a celebration of all aspects, love, history, joy, yet modern society often dispenses with such simple pleasures, Evolution? I think not.

looking deeper into the collection we find the ritual items we can gain even more understanding, the knives, pots, cauldrons and cups, staves, cords and sickles, the obvious importance of the sharpening stone, these treasures were placed within graves or found concealed in that special place the world over, things that to us as witches still have great significance.

The clues not to mention the keys of knowledge are all there in this one building, from Britain to Babylon, England to Egypt, similarity, familiarity the world over, what a place, if any who read this have the opportunity to visit you must, there is too much to talk about here, discover for yourself, the Edwardians and Victorians didn't pinch all this stuff from around the world so you could ignore it.

In a glass cabinet within the Greek section of this storehouse she resides, not pride of place but easy enough to find, no taller than five inches yet gigantic in her stature, our lady of the crossroads stands amidst her kin, dark and terrible, enchanting and inspiring, wise and fair.
And I guess most importantly, not available in the gift shop.

Flags, Flax and Fodder. Tony Macleod (aka The Cunning Man (maybe))

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Politics, the Greedy bird and a beer with the Beast

A return to the autumnal beauty of Cornwall after an hectic weekend in the big smoke, I can see and feel the sky once more, a great relief after the claustrophobia and oppression of the tall buildings of central London, the Oak, Ash and Thorn of my residence resplendent still with green, tinged with the browns of the coming season, there is a tired restful nature in the trees now empty of the summer visitors to our land, as they prepare for the more dormant time of the year.
The hearth of my home still yet to feel the warmth of the winter fuel, yet I feel it will not be long before the radiant flames cast their shadows across the walls of the Cunning man's dwelling.

London itself is a strange creature, it works with a hive like mentality only in reverse, lack of cooperation seems to persist, busying about life without any acknowledgement of those who surround you seems to be the key to survival there, it works well and is a demonstration of the evolution of a species that is not really designed to live in such large groups.
To step out of our own land into this world is a challenge to say the least, but a good one, our capital is not only filled with people ignoring each other it is also home to some of the greatest cultural diversity you can hope to experience on this island, art and architecture to marvel and astonish are absolutely everywhere, but despite what any might think there are good people there also.
So why was I up there? As some of you might know the book by Doreen Valiente titled "Where Witchcraft Lives" was launched this Sunday past, my illustrations are on the cover so I was asked to attend and accept my copy upon the stage, a nerve racking moment for one that has opinions and observations yet does not actively court publicity, although by writing this there are further clues to my identity for those who do not know me.

The event was the work of John and Julie Belham Payne and their "centre for pagan studies/the Doreen Valiente trust", the couple them selves made me more than welcome and it was a pleasure to meet them, the event was an interesting collection of speakers that included Professor Ronald Hutton and Philip Heselton, all of which delivered an interesting biography of the late Gerald Gardner, I left the event with a greater knowledge of the man although it did not alter my opinions of Gardner himself, his legacy or many of his subsequent followers, I have come to realise that many are acceptable even decent and honourable people, those willing to listen and learn, unfortunately, due to the actions and behaviour of certain people I am sad to say there is a rotten core, back to the noise of the shallow end once again, far from bringing the pagan faiths into the realms of general public understanding, there are those who would bring the flaming torches and pitchforks of the past back into our world for their own selfish purposes. I will say at this point that this opinion does not have anything to do with the above event or any of the organisers.

A moot in London as a distraction from the above event is the cause of my anger, I knew it would be so was foolish to attend, the focus of one man and his visitors from across the ocean, here to distract attention,politicise, perpetuate falsehood and promote a writing on which I will not comment as I haven't read it, in fact I have no intention of doing so.
T and myself do not perpetuate the stereotype of modern neo paganism so we attended the moot as though we were just visitors to our capital having a drink in a real ale pub, no announcements or declarations, just a quiet drink and the dropping of an eave or two.
The conversations that took place were appalling, the drunken volume negating the need to hush and listen, foul sewage erupting from the mouth of one man, a friend of the moot organiser, a torrent of swearing and opinions, declarations of the fact that no one would be able to teach him anything , he felt it was pointless to even attend the event as he knew it all( he must have complete divine knowledge), yet he still went, slurs and slants against those who have in recent times become very dear to this one, and those also passed from this world, All of this at a decibel level that could have alerted environmental health while wearing a t-shirt that advertised his pagan beliefs like the neon signs of our capital city.
Those visitors from across the pond conducted themselves with the dignity of normal folk even if the entourage did not, all bought together by one clucking bird, keen to build his castle and line his nest with the straw from anothers roof, creating politics where there is no need, forgoing the truths of the world in order to appear the great modern day occultist.
Any castle built of straw with no real foundation will one day burn to the ground with the very fires of corruption and deception that it took to build it, and there will be nothing left at all, so tread carefully, for you do not know whose feet you are stepping on, or who may be listening.

So we have arrived at the same place once again, noisy shallow end of the pool, those who seek to obtain titles and claims of wisdom they do not have, politics and faith are not good bedfellows, so we must avoid all those who try to politicise issues of such.

Back to the British Museum on Monday morning then off to have a pint of beer in the Museum tavern with the spirit of the great beast, into the Atlantis bookshop( possibly one of the oldest Occult bookshops in the world) and back home to the west country.
A great long weekend, Interesting and invigorating in a different sense to what I am used to, regretfully I did not get to meet a friend that I was hoping to meet, but will settle with the phone conversation we had outside the above moot for now.
Grey Sky's and a sense of pleasure in the knowledge, that both physically and metaphorically I have a slate roof, to heavy for the lazy bird, yet a welcome shelter for those whom I hold dear.


Monday, 6 September 2010

Wild Dartmoor with the ladies who take tea.

A weekend has passed beneath the beautiful yet changeable Dartmoor Sky's, the first night in the company of the entire cosmos, shooting stars and flashing planets, the sickle hanging low above the towering fortresses of the moor, cold as ice yet invigorating for the soul. The second night thick cloud culminating in the orchestral cacophony beating its overture upon the canvas of our shelter, precipitation removing any hope of a good night's sleep.

Rivenstone, a small festival in the heart of the Devon moors, put together by Nigel Shaw and Carolyn Hillyer on a small farm which they have made their home for the past fifteen years, a truly wholesome place that these two have quite literally put their hearts and souls into creating, musicians and artists both truly in love with this piece of land, only too happy to share this adoration with others, Cairns, stones and even a reconstructed iron age round house, artworks subtly hidden down secluded woodland paths, so much to see and share, the spirits of the rolling landscape content within this sanctuary.
I was more than a little apprehensive with the Idea of spending the weekend with the Ladies who take tea, this tired remnant of the new age movement, the angel and crystal procuring people of the last century, I have never really seen the world as they do and the same can still be said.
However, As my tolerance has grown so has theirs, belief and methods not really discussed with strangers, only between Friends, as I sat upon the grass basking in the early autumn sun sipping my beer I could hear various conversations, on the eaves as it were, the crystal therapy women discussing which of the gurus they had studied with and the cleansing properties of the by products of Uranium mining, all at a festival to promote more sustainable living and how we can be in touch with the land, our land.
These Ladies were few and far between, often found meditating in places set up by the guardians of this farm, I found myself being "tutted" at several times for inadvertently disturbing a meditation in the roundhouse, missing the point a little I feel, as such a place is not a temple but a gathering point for Friends, family and clan, a place for song and story not for quiet thought at a festival, those were my feelings on the place anyway and I did not deliberately force my presence upon them, I just made my apologies and removed myself.
I have to say at this point that I did meet some fabulous people, the organisers and supporting crew were wonderful, as were many of the other traders, the public also were by and large.
Music,discussion, food, dance and the banging of drums, not exactly my cup of tea really but overall a successful weekend, we made money from the sales of our artwork alone and good money too.
I must also add something of an opinion of Nigel's and Carolyn's music, especially a piece called Dartmoor Symphony, These two people are not of the moors, or the west country for that matter, it would be easy for me to dismiss such a piece of music as a deluded attempt to understand an alien landscape, I cannot.
This one musical work alone demonstrates the connections to this land they have made, I am a west country man, the moors have always been and will always be my spiritual home, and this is true also of the writers /performers of this symphony, moving the Cunning man almost to tears, capturing exactly the sound and the very nature of the moor, its birds, streams, its stone circles and the way the wind moves, the noiseless aspects of nature are somehow even captured and through a musical alchemy transformed into sound, even the sun decided to throw his radiance down upon the performance at an appropriate moment.
As Far from being an insult to my beloved land as it could conceivably be, it is in fact a celebration and an act of love, perfectly executed, thank you, this landscape seems to have adopted you both as much as you have adopted it.
Their site can be found here.
Tolerance within some parts of the esoteric and artistic communities is winning through, we are looking more toward the common ground and excepting the differences between us, this is once again the ultimate goal on the path of understanding.

The rain is battering the windows of my home, a day to sort out one or two things then it is back to the restoration work tomorrow, this weekend has been good practise for next when T and I are up to London for the book launch, hoping to meet some good people there also, I don't know how we will fit in with the attendants of that event either.

There are people in this world that do share more common ground with us, those who will welcome us to their hearths relationships that are due to be cemented properly, but those connections fate has decided to postpone till next year at the latest, hopefully she might step up her schedule a little sooner.
Learning to communicate with others has always been a stretch for this one, acceptance and tolerance are my own personal demons, learning I am however, and I for one will be more prepared to take tea with the ladies, especially those ladies who like to enjoy the occasional beer.