Return of the Bright Mornings……

As the world awakens to greet a new day, so too do it’s realms.

Photo taken by Locksley2010, Mapperly, Nottingham UK, Monday 11th February 2019- 7th Wax Cres (Aries).

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Imbolc 2019- Brigid’s Message.

Originally written on Sunday 3rd February 2019. 7th Waning Crescent, Cap.

The celebration of the returning lighter nights and the coming of Spring is here.

The snowdrops are in bloom amongst the frost; in recent years Winter always seems to bite the hardest in January-February. I must say that this winter has concerned me: It was mild for a long time. That doesn’t feel right…. especially after the abnormally hot Summer we had last year. But of course, the frost and snow did indeed come, and we will have to see if Winter’s cold kiss disappears quickly, or if it stays as long as it did in 2018.

Darkness and tragedy have affected many whom I know this winter. And I thought upon what kind of theme I could have for my Moot’s open ceremony. And then it struck me: enlighten the darkness.

Brigid’s Message

Since my beginnings in Paganism, I had always held a respect for Brigid, she appeared again in my more experienced Pagan years and again at the end of my Bardic Journey a few years ago when she told me:

When faced with the dark, look for the light. If there is none, then make your own“.

It has only been in the past year I truly understand what that means. Or should I say what it means to me. Your interpretation may be different from mine and rightly so.

For me, it means that we make our own light, we make our own way, our own destiny. I spent a lot of my life looking for signs and to be shown the right way that my life was supposed to go in order to fulfil its purpose. I gave my life over to fate. At almost 40, that’s a large portion of my life just….. waiting. And I’m done with that.

As I have written before, in what I call the‘Way of Fire and the Way of Water’, there is a time to wait and it is after you have taken the steps of action in order to make things happen. The gods will show you the directions, but they cannot tell you what to do or how to get there. That is for us to decide and the choices are for us to make. Whether we rise or fall is our responsibility and ours alone. If the gods are indeed ancestors as opposed to creators, then it is because they were seen as the best at what they were in their lifetimes.

The Inner Flame

Here we are, in the last part of the dark half of the year. Soon will come the longer days and the awakening of the plant realm (it already has), Imbolc is a time of creativity and of new beginnings. And so we can look to the light that inspires us; and if you can’t see it, make one. Because the gods aren’t going to do things for you. Allow yourself to follow that calling for something you want to do and want to achieve. It might be a new skill or a new project, whatever it is, let it allow you to shine with the light that you find/make. Allow it to shine out from within, whether it is something you can see or something you have to bring into being yourself.

You might be surprised at what it reveals.

Positive Masculinity

If you click the link below, you’ll find the new advert (that’s, commercial, for my readers in the USA and Canada) from Gillette. Supposedly, it’s controversial.

According to some negative feedback, it’s “emasculating men” and “insulting” to men’s rights and labels all men as being terrible people…. hmm. Really?

Watching it, I see images from the past adverts as well as attitudes that are now outdated. The advert recognises what men were thought to be, in fact Gillette even uses some of its old marketing, which for the time, was geared in that direction. And that’s just it, we’re talking about the depiction of what “masculinity” and “being a man” was seen to be in another time.

What the advert does is challenge those preconceptions and asks us men-folk “Is this the best we can be?” In the present, we have children committing suicide because of bullying, we have women angry at being treated as second-class citizens as well as other women scared of being abused (by no means am I saying women are weak, I’m trying to say they’ve had enough and are fighting back at those who deserve to be fought), and of course, dickhead behaviour seems to be on the increase by just about everyone.

For anyone who has followed me for a while, you will know I have written about masculinity before, I have even given an on going talk on the Masculine Principle in Paganism, I say on going because it’s a talk that constantly evolves, but my conclusion, so far, is the same….. read them and find out. 😉 nb: those articles are old now and I need to retouch them from the last time I did the talk in 2018.

Personally, I found the Gillette advert inspiring and uplifting. As a gentleman myself, I have always believed that everyone should do better. I loved the message behind it: by being better, we can inspire others, in inspiring others, we can inspire the next generation, in inspiring the next generation, we can make the world a better place. At no point did I feel the advert was saying all men were the supposed cruel, evil beings that some men are claiming the advert says….. if anything, their reaction says more about them.

The advert isn’t asking men to be anything less, it’s not about being “Woke” it’s about doing the decent thing. It’s about challenging our behaviour and attitudes and being something better. It’s not telling us to be soft or weak it’s asking us to be better. It takes strength to separate a fight, it takes courage to call somebody out and it takes bravery to stand up for someone…. this is “masculinity” at its best.

It’s not even about leaving our problems for the next generation to solve; it’s telling us to make a stand. Now. Right now. Our actions define us and people take note of them.

People are loud when it comes to shouting about “Toxic Masculinity” it’s the buzz-word of this portion of the 21st Century. Yet there’s hardly any encouragement or even any push for “Positive Masculinity”. And this advert is just that. It’s not saying “All men are asses” It’s saying there is Positive Masculinity and it should be encouraged.

As far as I’m concerned, Positive Masculinity is being the better man, it’s calling out when someone else is being a dick (about race, sex, gender, religion) it’s standing up for someone who can’t stand up for themselves, it’s doing the right thing. It’s taking responsibility for ourselves, our children and the world around us. It’s also not falling into the trap of reacting emotionally to any criticism of our gender and adopting a victim mentality.

On my FB post for New Year’s I wrote a message about everyone being more kind in the world and I seriously meant this. Even if it means doing at least one kind act everyday, those acts of kindness can be infectious. The amazing thing is that there seems to be a call going on for this and it’s world wide. This gives me hope for Humanity as a whole. And the Gillette advert, whether you like it or not, is now part of that.

It’s not just men who need to do better, it’s everyone. We all need to be better in ourselves and be better with each other. And to paraphrase one commentator on Twitter:

If you feel ’emasculated’ because of an advert on TV, then you’re doing masculinity wrong.

Nb: as much as I salute Gillette for their advert, I’m not a customer….. I’ve been a Harry’s Razors man since Sept 2018, when I trialled their razor and found it a better cut than my Mach 3…. soz.

“Fire and Blood”

So, 2019, we meet at last. A new year, a new card drawn for myself at the very beginning of the New Year. And fortunately, the title of this blog isn’t really what the year has in store….. I just used the Targaryen family motto because I thought it was cool! And, y’know, Fire Dragon and all…… I’ll get my coat!

2018 had the card of Owl-reversed (Cailleach Oidhche) the card of Detachment, Change and Wisdom. Although, being reversed, it warns of not seeking detachment as escape, the potential death of something and beginning of another…. And that even though night is here, to look for the approaching dawn.

Detachment: Watching out for not escaping or withdrawing into myself, I made sure I kept in contact with friends, visiting family when possible. I was even approached by the Pagan Community for doing talks for them and rediscovered not only could I do this, but that I also had a respect and welcome within the community I hadn’t realised I had…. I figured my pursuit of acting had estranged me from them. I’m glad to say it hasn’t and that I have a good friend base within the community and have even been asked to perform a handfasting for at least one couple this year! In Nottingham’s acting scene, I got to work with some lovely people and good friends. I proved to myself that I am good enough to come joint second in a monologue competition and that people want to work with me. So no, no shrinking away for me.

Death of one thing….. actually there was quite a few. Artemis and I are no longer housemates, as she went to Lincoln. We atill meet up to play D&D and bug each other on whatsapp now and then. The Grove of the Corieltauvi lost our fellow Druid, Luch Dorcha this year. We lost our friend, but his memory remains and we shall honour him. However, the Grove of the Corieltauvi no longer exists. At least not as it once did….. I have also pushed for the death of my marriage. I applied for divorce at the end of November, my spouse had received, signed and sent off the paperwork. All I’m waiting on now is the Court to get back to work and do their thing. And Artemis lost her father as well, a kind and humorous man. So yes, 2018 was a year of things and people dying…. “Light is born, light dies, in dying there is rebirth, in birth there is dying, so it is, so it always is”……

The Approaching Dawn….. Devi and I celebrated our first year together, we stayed in a Hobbit House at the beginning of the year in North Yorkshire. We don’t get to see each other every day, so we spend as much time together as possible and most importantly, we make each other happy and are looking forward to more years and adventures to come. In my working world, at the end of 2018, I was informed that I’ll be moving to a brand new store in Nottingham, rather than bussing it to Derby and back everyday. This means I get at least one hour back into my day instead of using two to get there and back again. I came into my own at work this year. I know who I am, what my strengths and weaknesses are and I am proud of my current team. I m looking forward to my new adventure with Mr S, who will be my new boss. And I’ll be looking forward to that extra hour for myself too. It will make all the difference….. not to mention more sleep!

2019 – Fire Dragon

Transmutation, Energy, Mastery are the keywords to the Fire Dragon (Draig Teine) card. This card speaks of connecting with the inner flame (something I’m very big on), finding the courage and drive to face life’s challenges as well as focussing one’s energies to overcome obstacles and gain objectives. This is a card less to do with gaining power or going into anything with all guns blazing; and more to do with the lesson I learned: the element is actually about combining will with responsibility. For how can you work with fire if you have no sense of control?

Ghosts

This is the extended version of my notes for a talk I gave for the Nottingham Pagan Network on Wednesday 28th November 2018. Moonphase: 5th Waning Gibbous

Introduction

It’s November, and we are now well into the dark half of the year. From Halloween and Samhain, this time is considered closer to the supernatural realms. The shadows are long and the days are short and when night falls, things that go bump seem more likely to happen. When asked to do this talk, I thought it fitting to talk about ghosts as we have just come out of the days of the dead and have the mischief of Yule to look forward to.

What is a Ghost?

According to our lore, a ghost is the spirit of a dead person or animal that frequents or haunts a certain location, object or living person. In the past, a ghost would either still be around for the ending of unfinished business or even a refusal to depart this world. Some ghosts would be haunting a location to guard treasure, ghosts of the 18th and 19th Centuries were very big on foretelling the death of family members, for example. Whereas ghosts of the 20th Century seemed to have given this up and like to switch on appliances, turn up in photos or even haunt specific vehicles they were attached to in life.

There are supposedly different types too:

  • Poltergeists being the most famous, the name comes from the German for “Noisy Ghost”. Objects moving or being thrown across the room of their own accord are attributed to poltergeist activity. Various researchers claim Poltergeists are a manifestation of latent out of control telekenesis in children approaching puberty, others believe them to be individual spirits in their own right.
  • Apparitions, aka spectres, phantoms etc, these are the appearances of a figure or creature that were not there previously. They are normally present for a few seconds and then disappear once again. For eg: almost every old pub (from 18th Century or older) supposedly has the figure of a man wearing a wide hat and long cloak for e.g.
  • Repeating (or replay as friend of mine describes them) ghosts that perform the same action over and over (thought to be some kind of electromagnetic recording within a building or location). Think your Headless Horsemen that come out every full moon, or a monk that appears at the same time every night, haunted battlefields, etc.
  • Interactive Ghosts where people have supposedly had the ghost speak or perform some action in front of them. ‘The Phantom Hitchhiker’ for e.g.
  • Black Dogs, your barghests, shucks, Boggarts etc. Big black dogs with flaming eyes, heralding the demise of any who see them, although can be revealed to others if touched.
  • Shadow People, A more recently recorded phenomenon, said to appear, some with or without glowing red eyes or even wearing hats.
  • There is even something a friend of mine calls The Dead Barmaid Effect, more on this later.

Supposedly, a ghost is the soul or spirit of either a person or animal that is still on Earth even though its physical body has died. It has yet to pass into either the Otherworld or into the astral plane.

How Do You Know One Is There?

If I’m going by my own experiences as well as those others have reported then having a ghost produces the following:

• Feelings of being watched/ someone in the room despite you being alone.
• Cold spots happening for no reason whatsoever
• Objects moving, appliances and devices switching on themselves.
• Seeing shadows or figures in your peripheral vision
• Hearing voices despite no one being present
• Hearing music or sounds with no source

• A full or even partial manifestation as the ghost reveals itself.

Some entities are even said to have more dramatic effects, scratching of the walls or human flesh, the sound of screaming from nowhere, objects being thrown at witnesses or even full blown possession. However, the latter appears to be the exception rather than the rule. How many encounters are real and how many area form of mass hysteria inspired by Hollywood is difficult to say.

So, Who You Gonna Call?

There are parasychologists, mediums, ghost hunters and even exorcists should you wish to have someone examine or even look into removing the ghost at hand.
The problem with Ghost Hunters, is they like to bring a stock load of equipment, anything from infrared sensors to Ion detectors…. basically all the stuff that they swear can detect a ghost or even traces of such, yet scientists themselves still have found no actual proof of ghosts existing. So, ghost hunters have access to technology that scientists don’t? Interesting that…..

Attending a talk on ghost investigation, years ago in London, the speaker described using our own senses rather than use flashy tech to try and find a ghost. It was using this premise that myself and a few others decided to use when investigating a friend’s haunted house. We went off into different areas and wrote down anything that we thought might have been strange…. an hour of total silence later we met back and tried asking questions out loud. We compared notes three of us out of five all had written down the same year! One of us did bring a recorder for EVP and had an app on his phone for detecting ghosts…. the former didn’t yield any results and according to the app, there where ghosts everywhere, go figure!

Mediums are said to be in direct communication with the Spirit-World but messages are not always clear.

Exorcists go in and attempt to remove the ghost/entity, this is not always guaranteed to work, however.

Then of course there’s us in the Pagan Community: not all of us work with magic or ritual, neither do all of us work with spirits. And even amongst ourselves, we have to watch out for the bullshitters. I’m always wary of anyone who pipes up with “I see ghosts all the time”. Not all of our sources are reliable and like anyone else trying methods they aren’t familiar with, it’s down to trial and error.

What Does Science Say?

It says ghosts don’t exist. According to physicists, a ghost is either there or it isn’t. It can’t be both. A ghost is can either pass through things or it is a solid being, so which is it?
But there is something in the Electromagnetic theory of ghosts that explains quite a few of the symptoms of having a ghostly presence:

Medical studies have found that electrical fields can stimulate the Angular Gyrus (the part that processes interpreting language and numbers, our sense of self, memory recall, spacial awareness, it does quite a few things) in our brains, mimicking the sensation of us thinking there is something or someone behind us. Considering a lot of us have a mobile phone, a tablet or even headphones attached to something, you’d think we’d be experiencing this on a mass scale.

Cold spots are more regular in places with less humidity, too.

The problem is that ghosts aren’t a quantifiable thing, we are talking about something that can move through walls and any solid object, yet can manipulate physical devices. They are invisible by nature, yet can appear either partially or as a whole thing for a limited time. Because they aren’t an exact phenomenon, they can not be measured in scientific conditions. Ergo, according to science, they don’t exist…. even if we do encounter them.

Belief

Belief and expectation have a very large part in ghostly phenomena. Go into a known haunted location with the expectation of finding something and you’ll be swearing every movement and creak is a ghost.
Interestingly enough, there was a paranormal research group who experimented with collective consciousness back in the late 1970s. The experiment was to see if they could ‘create’ a ghost, with an identity and all. The group supposedly were successful and the being called itself “Phillip”.
It could be argued this is what happens when people come together with excited energy and the want for something. Ouija Boards for example (Penn & Teller’s Bullshit!) or even a term coined by a friend of mine called…..

The Dead Barmaid Effect

How is it that almost every old pub in the UK is supposed to be haunted by one of two ghosts (If not both?):

The Dead Barmaid….. You can picture the scenario: ghost hunters go into an old pub (insert 500+ yr old building), eager to make contact. Using a communication method, such as a pendulum or an Ouija board, they ascertain the pub is haunted by a former worker who died as a result of murder/broken heart/fell to her death. Ghost Hunting groups go in there and pick up on an “Alice” or “Elizabeth” who used to serve there years ago…. especially when there is no record of there being such previously. Similar to the “Phillip” creation described above, the Dead Barmaid is more of a group consciousness generated by a belief of the group with a want to find something. Then there’s this guy……..

Dick Turpin

With almost every old pub there is the shadowy figure wearing thick boots, a long cloak with a high folded collar, and three-cornered-hat…. almost always taken to be the infamous highwayman himself. Is it possible for the spirit to haunt several locations at once? Either that or we had old Dicky-T wrong and he went on the biggest pub crawl of the 18th Century!

The Problem With Recorded Evidence….

It can be faked. No matter how good a video or even a EVP recording is, low- budget horror movies have proven that you don’t need huge special effects to make “Evidence”. So, the problem is that even if something was genuinely caught on camera, as an image or recording, we’ll just shrug it off as being fake. Just think of ‘Paranormal Activity’ ‘Insidious’. Even back in the early 1990s the BBC had a one off ‘Ghost Watch’ which was so realistic for its time that it was reported at least one person committed suicide because of it! I didn’t think it was that bad, but I lost sleep for nights watching it when I was a kid…. Even if it was fake and was made as a prank.

So, You Wanna Remove a Ghost?

We assume ghosts were people once. What if they aren’t? From various accounts, animals can become ghosts, too. And what if the entity encountered was never a physical being in the first place? What if the phenomenon experienced is down to something that has been in its location for a long time and doesn’t want us physical people telling it what to do?

Then there are the malicious ghosts of people who were not friendly in life and terrify those who feel helpless in their situation because they think no one will believe them? People can turn to exorcism, but there are a few problems with this: we assume the being was human and also understands and accepts what religion is being used against it. We also assume the being is from elsewhere (spirit world, Hell, whatever) even though it could have occupied the same location since before humankind. Talking to a friend of mine involved with the Church, he informed me that exorcists have to have insurance!

Another approach would be to try and contact the entity in an effort to either move it on, help it find peace or even making peace with it…. neither of which are guaranteed.

Conclusions:

We don’t know what a ghost actually is. We are talking about something that cannot be quantified or even controlled. If there is a spirit world then I believe it runs parallel to our own with pockets of weakness between our world and the other and every now and then someone sees something. I wouldn’t even know how the mechanics of how this would work, but that’s my belief.

If ghosts are real, and if they are the spirits of people, even if they are something else, then we are talking about a non-corporeal consciousness; and like all things on Earth, should be treated with respect. It is not for us to go into a haunted area and start demanding that a presence leaves at our command or performs for our entertainment. I can guarantee if I was a ghost minding my own business and some people came looking for me with their tools and trinkets and demanding my name or disturbing my peace, I would do something to scare the living shit out of them….. or do nothing, just to piss them off.

Further Reading:

http://www.fmritools.com/kdb/grey-matter/parietal-lobe/angular-gyrus/index.html

https://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/afterlife/ghost.htm

https://www.ghostsandgravestones.com/types-of-ghosts

https://www.inverse.com/article/43545-earth-second-magnetic-field-captured-satellites

https://www.britannica.com/science/electromagnetic-field

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/magnetic/MagEarth.html

“When Strange Things Happen….”

So, on Saturday 10th November: my friend at work posted this:

And the best thing is, they’re both true and yes, I was there on both occasions!

Both happened at work on Ascot Drive, in Derby, UK.

Sat 10th November 2017:

There are four of us in our team, three of us were in a meeting in the office, except for the third member, who was serving customers. Towards the end of the meeting, I elected to make a round of toast and as I was about to head out of the office, Mr. Dy headed his way back to the office, so we passed each other. I heard the kettle begin to boil in the kitchen next to the office. As I was getting the toaster ready I realised something slightly odd…. there were three of us in the office: myself, Mr. D and Mr. S had carried on the meeting without Mr. Dy as we could easily fill him in. Mr. Dy didn’t go into the kitchen and he wouldn’t have turned the kettle on (he’s one of those weird people who doesn’t like hot drinks….. ever!). So, to be sure, I shouted out ” Mr. Dy, did you put the kettle on?” He said he did not, puzzled I would even ask him this question. So I pointed out to everyone that the kettle had switched itself on….. and yes, I made sure that nothing had fallen on to the switch to activate it. Nothing had, it takes some force to actively move it. Even if you were to hit it accidentally, it would take an absolute gymnastic fail with digits sticking out to even make it work. If it was the old kettle, with its switch that was knocked easily, I would have simply discounted it to Mr. Dy calling into the kitchen and grabbing a cheeky biscuit and accidentally catching the kettle on his sleeve…. but the new kettle is a lot more hardy. So with the kettle boiling of its own accord, I did what any decent person would do: I made a cup of tea for the spirit and left it as an offering!

Friday 10th November 2017

Me and Mr. S were finishing up, I was at the counter, counting the till and Mr. S was in the office sending the evening figures (we only started being able to send figures automatically this year, before that we had to collate the figures ourselves, enter a form which we had copied and pasted and then email out to flagship store).

At some point, I heard Mr. S say something, and due to the echo of the store, I couldn’t hear him properly. I can’t understand echoey calls very well, so I approached the office asking what was up.

He asked if I had snuck in to the office and pressed the button on the printer to open up the ink cartridge door as a laugh.

I explained that I was at the counter the whole time, and had just completed the cash count.

Mr. S went on to explain he was completing the figures and felt what was like someone breathing down his neck, during which the printer had opened up. Now, the printer doesn’t simply open up. You have to pull drawers out to refill the paper trays, and if there’s a jam (even when there isn’t because printers are arseholes!) you would have to press the release button to open the cartridge door to remove the ink cartridge to get to the “jam”. We tried it then and I’ve tried it since, unless the cartridge door is clicked in fully, it will open up due to its own weight. It isn’t light enough to be ‘nearly closed but not’.

I found it funny that Mr. S thought that I had snuck in, pressed the button and scarpered. I thought he was having a joke on me at first, but he was quite perturbed at the time.

Apparently Ascot Drive is haunted, I’ll look at this in more detail in Part 2. Although, since discussing the subject of ghosts and writing my previous posts, both Mr. D and Mr. Dy have been more open in sharing their encounters in the store: something seen in their periphery vision and footsteps when there are no customers around, that kind of thing. In fact, in telling him about my cousin’s concerns in my ‘Dealing With Ghosts’ series, Mr Dy told me of the things he’s heard in our store late at night, this was another reason that prompted me to write about it.

Part 2 is currently under construction.

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