Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Mayfair Witches.

Anne Rice’s Lives of the Mayfair Witches: A Different Model of Witchcraft
By Caroline Tully.

By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
-Shakespeare, Macbeth Act 4, scene 1.
Would you like to lose yourself in a long, spooky story? One in which the characters gradually seem to step out of the pages and into your life? If you shiver with both anticipation and dread at the idea of submitting yourself to a dark, dangerous, sensual force, then the Lives of the Mayfair Witches trilogy may be just your thing.
Anne Rice introduced the world to the Mayfair family of Witches in 1990 with the publishing of The Witching Hour, the first book in the saga of the lives of the Mayfair Witches. This was followed by Lasher published in 1993 and Taltos in 1994. Before introducing the Mayfair Witch family, Rice was enthralling her readers with dark tales of Vampires, beginning with the very popular Interview With The Vampire published in 1976. Rice, quoted in Katherine Ramsland's Witches' Companion, says of the Mayfair story; "The Mayfair books have been written in periods of optimism, good humour and high energy. They are fun no matter how dark and frightening they become, whereas the Vampire books have almost always been produced during periods of intense anxiety and anguish. The Mayfairs are always utterly exhilarating. There is always happiness and good humour to counterbalance the darkness." The Mayfairs are not Wiccan Witches, mind you, but hereditary ones, complete with supernatural powers, a familiar spirit and ancestors burned at the stake. Rice has convincingly created a family of Witches that conform to the century old stereotype of what Witches were popularly supposed to be: incestuous murderers who delve into Black Magic with the aid of a Familiar Spirit or Demon.
The word 'Familiar' comes from the Latin 'famalus' meaning an attendant. Familiars are traditionally thought to be of three types. Discarnate human beings like a ghost; a non-human entity such as an elemental or planetary spirit, or a material creature such as a cat, toad, dog or ferret. Familiars of the non-human spirit type sometimes indwell in a particular object such as a jewel, a crystal ball or a bottle. The Mayfair's Familiar Spirit is called 'Lasher' and he is specifically linked to an emerald which has his name engraved on the back. This emerald is a Witch necklace passed down the line to his specially chosen Witches in each generation. The covenant between the Witches and Lasher resembles the pact supposedly made between Witches and the Devil. The Mayfair's pact with Lasher involves him being obedient to the Witches in return for their bearing female children who can 'see' him. Giving the Mayfair emerald to the child marks her as the chosen one. Each child becomes stronger through inbreeding so that by the time the thirteenth one is born she will be capable of bringing Lasher into the world - reminiscent of Rosemary's baby!
Lasher in turn promises that when he comes through, he will bring all the deceased Mayfairs back to life and grant them immortality. He brings wealth to the family, creates the Mayfair Legacy of money and property, reveals the future and avenges wrongdoings for them. Lasher is fed and sustained by being taken notice of; he thrives on people's consciousness of him. He has to concentrate very hard and expend much energy to exist visibly and sees himself through the Mayfair Witches' perception of him. "To concentrate was to exist. When spirits dream, they don't know themselves." The only way the Witches can get any privacy from him is to play music or wallpaper the house with highly decorative patterns which fascinate him and keep him occupied.
The Mayfairs begin their linage with a 'merry-begot', Suzanne, the first Mayfair Witch who creates the Mayfair name by adopting the words 'May Fair', which is where she was conceived at the Beltane revels. Through the following centuries the Mayfairs migrate from Scotland, where Suzanne was born, to Amsterdam, France, Haiti and finally to New Orleans, where they settle and multiply. Suzanne Mayfair was the one to first call Lasher forth out of the primeval darkness where he was floating as if in utero. She stood in a circle of stones and traced a Pentagram and summoned him from the Air. "Lasher, for the wind that you send that lashes the grasslands, for the wind that lashes the leaves from the trees."
Lasher's manifesting causes a hot disturbance of the air like a mirage, and he comes because he has a great desire to be alive. He can possess people and things such as plants and animals, living or dead; he just wants to be corporeal. He is a shape-shifter and can cause genetic mutations in whatever he chooses to possess. When he finally succeeds, after hundreds of years, in being born in flesh through the thirteenth Witch in the Mayfair line, he chooses to come through at the Winter Solstice as he believes it is the time of greatest earth energy.
I hear your voice low in the dark
Like the notes of the harp player
That carve the still air
Into a sensuous and subtle imagery of sound
And my senses are drowned
By the scent of the oleander and the musk
Of the datura dimly shining in the dark
While your voice troubles the still air.
- Jack Parsons, Witch Woman
Anne Rice doesn't pretend to be writing about contemporary Neo-Pagan Witchcraft practices and does not claim to be representing Wiccan belief. She says herself that she knows very little about the modern Neo-Pagan movement. In the question and answer section of her website, www.annerice.com/ques_wch.htm she had this to say: "Now when it comes to real Witches and people who claim to have a tradition in their family of occult practices, you are on your own. I don't know anything about that. I will say that one of the most unpleasant letters I ever received in my life ... one of the few really unpleasant letters was from a Wiccan Witch who did just accuse me of everything under the sun for writing The Witching Hour. It was like receiving a letter from a member of any fundamentalist religious group - she was just furious that I had not described Witches in a way that conformed to her beliefs. But I was a bit chilled by that experience, it was bizarre".
The distinguishing factors of this non-Wiccan Witch family are:
1. They use unseen forces to their advantage whether healing or harming and have mental control over matter.
2.They have an hereditary familiar called Lasher with whom they have sexual relations, making him therefore an Incubus.
3. An emerald Witches' necklace is passed down to most powerful Witch in each generation along with the familiar spirit Lasher.
4.Inbreeding via incest is used to keep the power within the family.
5.Lasher provides the family with wealth beginning with a never ending purse of gold coins.
6. There is one chosen Witch in each generation who controls the family and consorts with Lasher.
7. All the chosen Witches are female except for one.
8. There are thirteen Witches who are so chosen and have Lasher as a consort
9. Dolls made of the hair and bone of each chosen Witch are kept by their successors for use in contacting the deceased predecessor.
10. The 'keyhole' shape is a recurring theme throughout the book, the Mayfair house has a keyhole doorway and the family crypt is decorated with a keyhole also.
You will probably begin to want a 'Lasher' of your own as you read this book, I certainly did. The Lives of the Mayfair Witches mythology provides a good, dark counter balance to such popular Witchy tales as the ethereal Avalon series by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Terry Pratchett's funny Witches from Discworld - loveable as they are. The Mayfair saga provides a Witch image for those who like a little more fear and risk in their vicarious supernatural sexual exploits!

Faeries Wear Boots

The Witch in the Realm of Faerie.

by Caroline Tully.

We are between the worlds,
Beyond the bounds of time,
Where night and day,
Birth and death,
Joy and sorrow,
Meet as one.


Witches work their magic in a special place between the worlds, a time outside of time. It is this technique which makes us supremely capable, above almost all other mortals, of entering into the Faerie Realm. The realm of Faerie is the place of enchantment and magic, and throughout history Witches have been frequent visitors to this world. Consorting with Faeries was even one of the many accusations leveled against them during the Witchcraze. According to Margaret Murray, author of ‘The Witch Cult in Western Europe’, in almost every case of Witchcraft from Joan of Arc in 1431 down to the end of the 17th century, the most damning evidence against the accused was acquaintance with the Faeries. But what exactly are Faeries? What do they look like? Where do they live? And most importantly, can a modern Witch still visit them?

What are Faeries?
When we hear the word ‘Faerie’ most people think of little winged beings belonging to children’s story books, supernatural creatures who work magic and indulge in mischief. As we will soon see however, there is a lot more to Faeries than this simple description.

There are many theories about the origin of Faeries, one of the most popular ones being that of the famous Witchcraft author, Margaret Murray, who suggests that Faeries were once real human beings. The Faeries, she says, were the descendants of the early people of Northern Europe. These dark-skinned survivors of the Stone Age were smaller than ‘mortals’ and lived in the wild, uncultivated areas of the country, they were herders of animals and unacquainted with agriculture. As civilisation advanced the Faerie population mingled more with the settled people until many of them entered the villages and became indistinguishable from other humans. This theory is popular in Neo-Pagan circles and appears in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s novels about the Arthurian Legend, the popular ‘Mists of Avalon’ series. Margaret Murray was not the first writer to suggest this origin theory, but is probably the most well known to contemporary Pagans. This euhemerising explanation for Faeries explains why they are small, fear iron (which they had not yet developed) and live in hillocks (round turf houses sunk in the ground). ‘Euhemerism’ is the idea that supernatural beings can be traced back to historical, factual people.

Many Folklorists of the early 20th century suggested that Faeries were the Pagan Gods, reduced in stature. As Christianity made inroads into Pagan societies the native deities lessened in importance and consequently lessened in power, function and stature. For example, the Faerie Queen Mab has much in common with the Celtic Goddess/Queen Maeve. The Green Knight (from the story of Gawain and the Green Knight) is often seen as a Pagan god, the Green Man. Celtic history records that the famous Irish deities, the Tuatha de Dannan, after the coming of Christianity, left the Earth’s surface and dwelt underground in hills or Neolithic graves and became known as the ‘Aes Sidhe’ the ‘People of the Hills’ or Faeries.

Interestingly, Traditional Witch, Nigel Jackson, suggests that Faeries are beings from the Underworld and that humans become Faeries after death. He explains that “the soul descends into the Faerie realm, sojourning as a Faerie in the Otherworld while awaiting the right cyclical patterns which will enable its Earthly rebirth to occur. The ‘human’ and the ‘Faerie’ are two poles of our own being, between which we oscillate back and forth through our cycle of rebirths. In other words, Faeries are ourselves awaiting birth and we are the Faeries awaiting our return to the Enchanted Realm.” Irish peasants believed something similar to this up until around fifty years ago; women that died in childbirth, people that died young or children that became sickly and turned into ‘changelings’ were ‘away with the Faeries’. They were not dead however, they could be expected to return at any time and sometimes did.

Theosophy recognises the world of Faerie as a part of a hidden spiritual world that coexists with our physical world. Theosophists, and consequently New Agers, see the function of Faeries as being to absorb vitality from the sun and distribute it to the physical. For example, the flower Faeries are nature spirits who provide the vital link between the sun’s energy and the soil’s minerals. Certain Faeries are responsible for the structure and colour of flowers, others work below ground around the roots, others on a molecular level are concerned with cell growth. Still other Faerie species aid the development of the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdom. These Faeries, or ‘Devas’, work as personifications of natural energies. Yet another popular contemporary theory based on Jungian psychology is that Faeries are archetypal images created by a shared, common concern, they are personifications of birth, sex, fertility and death. Faeries are a way of broaching these subjects in symbolic form.

Perhaps Faeries are actually a combination of all of these ideas. English Witchcraft author, Doreen Valiente, suggests that Faeries might very well be composed of several factors: spirits of nature, Pagan deities, souls of the Pagan dead, folk memories of aboriginal races, and the widespread belief in an Underworld under the earth. No matter what these creatures are, Faeries exist in the realm between the worlds along with Elementals, Spirits, Angels and Gods and thus can be contacted by magickal practitioners who journey into such territory.

The Faerie’s appearance
The Faeries’ appearance will often reflect our own preconceptions of them, their forms are both numerous and varied, but are generally based on a human figure. Sometimes they cannot be told apart from humans, at other times they resemble animals. They can be extremely beautiful or hideously ugly. In northern Scotland, Ireland, Brittany and France the Faerie is the size of a human being and has all the characteristics of one. An Irish eyewitness from the 11th century recorded that “fifty Faerie women were seen with purple tunics and green hoods, and silver bracelets around their arms... All the women were of a like age and like shape, and like loveliness and like beauty and like straightness and like figure, in the dress of Faerie women, so that there was no telling one from the other.” There is no mention of whether they are human sized or smaller which would suggest that they did not look particularly different to mortal women. There seems to be little in the characteristics of many Faeries to distinguish them from human beings, except their supernatural knowledge and power.

According to author/illustrators Brian Froud and Alan Lee, much of their external appearance is in fact glamour. Glamour is the magical garment of the Faerie and without it they appear as a shimmering light, it is a protective coverage and is often designed to make mortals believe they are dealing with one of their own kind. When inspected very closely, most Faeries are characterised by a physical deformity of some kind which marks them out as different. Such tell-tale signs include webbed feet, back-to-front feet, or even goat’s hooves, noseless nostrils, squint eyes, pointed ears and cow’s tails.

The Faerie Realm
There are special areas on Earth where the Faerie world and the mortal world meet, at these sites travel between the worlds can be experienced. Places such as trees, mounds, hills, caves, rivers, pools, wells, crossroads, boundaries, hedges, the bottom of the garden and of course Faerie Rings are all doorways to Faerie. Probably the most well-known entrance to Faerie, the Faerie Ring is a dark green circle on a lawn or in a field caused by the presence of fungi in the soil, the rings are often also outlined with mushrooms. These sites have long been reputed as magical places where occult power is concentrated and are therefore, favourite places for performing spells. Faerie Rings can apparently live for hundreds of years and have been proved by modern science to be often of great antiquity, some apparently being over 600 years old.

Like the Norse Yggdrasil, certain other trees which have their roots in the Underworld, are also entrances to Faerie. Three Hawthorn trees growing close together are thought to be especially potent. Other trees most favoured by them are the Blackthorn, Hazel, Alder, Elder and Oak, hence the saying, “Turn your cloaks, for Faerie folks live in old oaks.” Combinations of trees, especially if twisted together, are also powerful sites; two Thorns and an Elder for example or a group of Oak, Ash and Thorn. The Irish believe that a single tree in a field, or a group of trees on top of a Faerie hill belong to the Faeries and that it would be inviting disaster to chop them down.

The Irish word for Faerie is ‘Sidhe’ (Shee), meaning people of the hills. The actual Faerie Hill is also called a ‘Sidhe’ or a ‘Rath’. These are barrows or hillocks, each being a door to an underground realm of splendour and delight. The ancient Celts believed for example, that in the Faerie Realm there were apple trees always in fruit, one pig alive and another being roasted, and a supply of ale which never ran out. In the ‘Book of the Dun Cow’, the Faerie Queen describes her realm as the land of the ever-living, a place where there is neither death, nor sin, nor transgression. “We have continual feasts; we practice every benevolent work without contention. We dwell in large Sidhe and hence we are called the people of the faerie mound.”

Fairy mounds are entrances to the Pagan paradise, which might be located underground, under water, or under hills on distant islands across the western sea. An anonymous Irish author of the 11th century describes a visit to a Sidhe. “...as I gazed around me I saw a faerie hill, brightly lit, with many drinking horns and bowls and cups of glass and of pale gold in it, and I was staring at it for a long time at the doorway of the faery hill... I went across to the hill and sat down ... in a crystal chair on the floor and gazed at the house all around me, and I saw twenty-eight warriors on one side of the house with a lovely fair headed woman beside every man of them, and six gentle, youthful yellow-haired girls on the other side of the house, with shaggy cloaks around their shoulders; and a gentle yellow-haired girl in a chair on the floor of the house, with a harp in her hand which she was playing and continually thrumming. And every time she sang a song a horn was given to her to drink out of it, and she would give the horn into the hand of the man who gave it to her; and they were sporting and amusing themselves all around her.” Irish people interviewed by Folklorists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries expressed the belief that the Faeries were ‘Fallen Angels’ who accompanied Lucifer out of Heaven, thus showing how Christianity eventually influenced, but did not destroy, Pagan belief.

As well as being a mainland-based hill or mound, the Faerie/Pagan paradise can also be an Island in the midst of a lake or in the sea, sometimes even moving around. The equivalent of the British Avalon, but called variously the Land of Promise (Tir Tairngire), the Plain of Happiness (Mag Mell), Plain of Sports (Mag Mon) the Land of the Living (Tir-nam-beo) the Land of the Young (Tir-nan-og), the Land of Promise (Tir-Tairngiri), the Land of Light (Tir-na-Sorcha) and Breasal’s Island (Hy-Breasail).

Witches and Faeries
In the past Witches and Faeries were commonly thought to be the same thing. They often shared similar attributes such as the practice of magic, the ability to appear and disappear, shape shifting, the preparation of magical ointments, dancing in circles and having wild night time revels. The Faerie Godmother in fairytales has many of the characteristics of the Witch and she often comes in a group of three sisters like the Witches’ Triple Goddess. Witches’ deities can interchange with Faerie royalty, examples being Puck, Robin Goodfellow, Robin Hood, Gwyn ap Nudd, Oberon, Morgan Le Fay, Dame Abundia, Habondia, Aradia, Diana, Venus, Hecate, Sybil and Titania. Doreen Valiente says that the leading female witch in a Scottish Coven was called the ‘Queen of Elphame’, a word which is the Scottish version of the Old Norse ‘Alfheim’, the country of the Elves or Faeries. Nigel Jackson tells us that “The traditional metaphysics of Elfland lie at the heart of true Witchcraft, a body of ancestral Faerie teachings and arts which formed a hidden tradition transmitted down the centuries across Europe and the British Isles.”

English Witches, Agnes Hancock in 1438 and John Walsh in 1566, said that they treated wounds made by fairy magic. John Walsh said that he consulted the ‘little people’ for advice between the hours of twelve and one in the afternoon and at midnight. Scottish Witch, Bessie Dunlop, in 1576 saw eight women and four men “the men were clad in gentleman’s clothing, and the women had plaids round them and were very seemly-like to see”. She was informed that they were “from the Court of Elfame”, and said that she had previously received a visit from the Queen of Elfame though without knowing at the time who her visitor was, she described the Queen as “a stout woman who came into her and sat down on the form beside her and asked a drink and at her and she gave it”. Bessie related how she was initiated and instructed by a Faerie man called Thom Reid who had originally died at the Battle of Pinkie and was now one of the Sidhe. He appeared in the form of “an honest well elderly man, grey bearded, and had a grey coat with Lombard sleeves of the old fashion; a pair of grey breeks and white shanks, gartered above the knee; a black bonnet upon his head... and a white wand in his hand.”

Alesoun Peirsoun in 1588 was “convict for haunting and repairing with the good neighbours and Queen of Elphane, and she had many good friends at that court which were of her own blood, who had good acquaintance with the Queen of Elphane”. Alesoun had been healed of a sickness and had become a healer herself through the agency of a green-clad Faerie man who came to her. Christine Livingstone said that “her daughter was taken away with the Faerie folk and that all the occult knowledge that she had was by her daughter who met with the Faeries”. One woman told the judges that “what skill so ever she has, she had it of her mother and her mother learned it at an Elf-man”. A Wizard called Andro Man said that he was the husband of the Queen of Elphane, with whom he lived for thirty-two years and by whom he had several children.

In 1623 Isabel Haldane gave an account of how ten years earlier she had been carried out of her bed to a Faerie Hill which opened before her and that she spent three days in Elfland. She was brought out by a ‘man with a grey beard’ who was her Faerie teacher and companion and who aided her in divination, healing and cursing thereafter. An unnamed Yorkshire man, accused of witchcraft in 1653 said that a Faerie had taken pity on his poverty-stricken condition and had admitted him to the Faerie Kingdom. There he had been shown how to administer a special Faerie powder to treat the sick and was thus enabled to make a living.

The most famous Witchcraft case was that of Isobel Gowdie (d.1662) who confessed without torture (very unusual in Scotland) that she had been initiated as a Witch in 1647 by a ‘man in grey’. She described how she placed one palm on her head and the other under her feet and promised him everything in between. She then received the Witch name, Janet, and a Witches’ Mark on her shoulder. Isobel told of flying to the Sabbat on a bean stalk by putting it between her legs and saying “Horse and Hattock, horse and ho, horse and pellatis, ho, ho”. She also described how she entered the Faerie Realm, “I was in the Downie Hills... the hills opened, and we came to a fair and large braw room in the day time... and I got meat there from the Queen of Faerie, more than I could eat. The Queen of Faerie is brawly clothed in white linen, and white and brown clothes: and the King of Faerie is a braw man, well favoured and broad faced. There were elf-bulls, routing and skoyling up and down there, and affrighted me.”

In 1670 the witch Jean Weir described how the Queen of Faerie laid a spell upon her so that she could magically produce large amounts of yarn in a short space of time. As late as 1895 in Ireland, Bridget Cleary was attacked and burned to death by her deranged husband because he thought she had been exchanged for a changeling by the Faeries of nearby Kylenagrangh Hill. The children of the district still sing the skipping chant; “Are you a Witch or are you a Faerie, or are you the wife of Michael Cleary?”

Evidently some other humans, not Witches, but those especially favoured by the Faeries are also allowed access to the Faerie Realm. Thomas the Rhymer, a 13th century poet experienced enchantment of Faerie. One day, as he lay down on a river bank, no less a person than the Queen of Elphame dressed in green, rode past him on a horse whose mane was plaited with fifty-nine silver bells. Thomas was trapped by a kiss and taken on the back of the horse across deserts and rivers of blood to a green garden in Faerieland. An apple gave him the gift of prophecy and a tongue that could not lie. He lived with the Queen for seven years before he returned to earth to write poetry and make true prophecies. Some say he eventually went back and still lives on as an advisor to the Faerie court. Faeries are thought to especially favour gifted poets and bards, lactating women, young men and children.

How to contact Faerie
Faerie Wicca is a system of techniques used to connect the human and Faerie domains through activating what is known as the Second Sight. This is the spirit vision, the inner sight, the faculty used in the performance of scrying or crystal gazing on the one hand, and astral travelling on the other. Everybody has this ability, in some it is developed and in others it is latent. With practice the Second Sight can be activated and strengthened.

Second Sight Excersise
#1. Find an Elder, Willow or Hazel tree and cut yourself a Faerie wand. The wand should be approximately the same length as your forearm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. Leave an offering of pure water for the tree as thanks.

#2. Go to a quiet place and inscribe a circle around yourself with your wand and then chant seven times:


#3. Sit down, place the wand on your lap and close your eyes. Visualise your third eye, situated in between and slightly above your brows and see it opening wide. Try to see through this eye, look at your hands and feet, look about you, take note of your surroundings. What can you see? Take as long as you like, with practice you will begin to see between the worlds and be able to use the Second Sight at will, eventually using it along with your normal sight.

Faerie Offering Ritual
Before trying to enter the Faerie Realm, it is wise to first make contact with them by leaving offerings to show your good will. The Faeries love foods such as wholemeal breads and cakes, they relish cow or goat’s milk, cream, cheese and butter. They also love milk, honey and saffron mixed together.

#1. Go to one of the Faeries’ favourite haunts such as a ring, a hill, the bottom of the garden or another place where you intuitively feel Faeries, and find a flat surface on which to place your offering. Your gift could consist of, for example, of a bowl of milk and a cake or piece of bread.

#2. Consecrate the offering with these words:

I offer this drink and this bread to Oonagh, the Queen of Elphame, and to Finvarra, the King of Faerie, royal rulers of the Daoine Sidhe (pronounced ‘Theena Shee’). My name is (say your name), as a Witch I seek to make contact with your tribe and to learn the secrets of Faerie.

#3. With your wand, trace a star over the offering and say:

Blessed Be those who live in the Hollow Hills. Blessed Be the Faerie race within the Earth and the Faerie Blessing be upon me.

#4. Leave the offering and walk away without looking back. You can return to the site the next day and if any or all of the offering has gone, you will know that it is safe to continue on and enter the Sidhe. If the offering is still there, take it away and try again another time with a fresh gift.

Entering Faerie
Timing is an essential ingredient when attempting to contact Faerie. The best time of day for Faerie sightings is either dawn, noon, sunset or midnight. These liminal times mark a transition from light to dark or vice versa. Full Moon is also a good time, as are the Greater Sabbats, Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasad and Samhain. The Faeries move house on these days, legend tells us that for thousands of years they have changed their abodes on the Cross Quarter days and in the process have created magical pathways, or Ley Lines, between their residences. The whole Earth is covered with these paths running between what humans call ‘sacred sites’.

The following Faerie-contact techniques can be used as many times as you like, start off with practice runs and then when you feel confident you can make actual journeys. You might be successful at the first attempt, or may have to try several times before you gain access to the Faerie Kingdom. With all of these adventures be sure to remember all that happens and to write down any important information when you return.

Faerie Ring Spell
#1. If you choose a Faerie Ring as your entrance place to the Sidhe, sit in the center of it holding your wand, close your eyes, open your third eye and when you feel ready say:

Upon the green,
Betwixt and between,
I go with a laugh
to the Faerie’s hearth.
Through land and sea
I have the key.
As I do will
So mote it be.

#2. Using the Second Sight, see yourself descending into the Earth, becoming ‘one’ with the ring site, co-terminus as it were, with the actual soil. In this case the Faerie Ring being a bit like a mossy elevator going down to the Underworld Realm. All around you is the dark Earth, you can even see worms and other bugs in the dirt. Look up and see the sky receding as you go further down. Soon you will find yourself in the Faerie Kingdom.

#3. Greet the beings who you meet there and tell them who you are and where you are from. You will probably be taken to meet the Faerie Court and offered food, drink and perhaps gifts. Before accepting any of these things, formally state your purpose in visiting, be it to seek knowledge, a special skill, a blessing, fertility or to form permanent alliances with Faerie, and when that is done you may accept their offerings.

#4. To leave the Land of Faerie, will yourself back up to the light of day the same way as you entered.

Faerie Hill Spell
This method of entering Faerie is via a Hollow Hill, it can be a mound in a suburban park or a hill in the country. You just need to intuitively discover a mound or hill which you believe holds Faeries.

#1. At one of the auspicious Faerie-contact times, go to the hill and walk nine times deosil around it.

#2. Sit down at the bottom of the hill and close your eyes. Using the Second Sight find the entrance to the hill. It may appear as a dark tunnel or as a wooden door.

#3. Knock three times upon the ground outside the tunnel or upon the door if there is one, and then enter the passageway into the heart of the hill. The passage turns to the right and descends spirally. Following the passage you move downward ever more deeply until you begin to enter the Faerie world. As in the previous spell, greet the beings you meet and explain who you are and what you seek.

#4. To leave the Hill, find the passage you entered by and return to the surface.

Faeries are not always pleasant, sometimes they do not want to be seen by mortals and some Faeries are bad tempered. In 1555 a Witch called Joan Tyrrye said that she had lost the sight in one eye after catching a glimpse of a Faerie at a market. Just like in the human realm the majority of beings will be friendly, but you may run into the ocassional malevolent character. Despite the storybook image of cute, cuddly faeries, they are not all sweetness and light. In the 17th century many people believed that it was risky to even say the word ‘Faerie’ and used such euphemisms as ‘Good Neighbours’ instead. It is wise to maintain a healthy respect for the Faeries, just as you would if you were encountering the inhabitants of any foreign country. Be careful about accepting Faerie food and drink, it can be a means whereby you become trapped in the Otherworld. Remember the story of Persephone eating just one pomegranate seed in Hades? Also be aware that, in Faerie, time passes differently from time in our world and a traveller to that realm might find that in what seems the blink of an eye, many years have passed on Earth, or that what seemed aeons in Faerie was really only a few minutes.

Faeries do not like iron therefore it makes sense to use iron as a protective amulet when visiting them. (Other protective devices are: turning your clothes inside out, bells, running water, salt, a red ribbon, daisy chains, stones with holes, horseshoes, St John’s Wort, a twig of Broom, Rowan or a combination of Oak, Ash and Thorn).

Valerie Worth’s Iron Charm
Take an iron nail and place it upon a small flat stone, and with a hammer strike it three times, at each stroke saying:

‘Clavus ferrus
Malleus ferreus
Ferrum rufulum
Ferrum nobilis’.

Score the stone thrice across with the nail’s point, then take the stone away and bury it in the Earth. The nail should afterwards be carried with you during all Faerie dealings.

Banishing malevolent Faeries
If you find yourself in a sticky situation with a rather mean Elf, hold your chosen protective device, such as the iron nail, wave it towards them and say:

‘If of air the grey mist fold thee,
if of earth the swart mine hold thee,
if a Pixie sink thy ring
if a Nixie seek thy spring.’

A Last Word
Faerie magick is a fascinating part of Witchery and one well worth acquainting yourself with. Faeries are far more interesting than their public image suggests and the Witch who forms a good relationship with them will find herself well rewarded. Much of Faerie Wicca is taught by the Faeries themselves and is usually tailored to the requirements of the individual Witch. Some Faeries will specialise in specific forms of magick such as healing, divination or glamour and others will be masters of many techniques. It is by forming a familial relationship with the members of a Sidhe that you can find the right partner/teacher for yourself. Faeries can be powerful allies and such a close working relationship can often result in a deep affection between the Witch and the Faerie. It is perfectly fine to have a Faerie lover, husband or wife and was actually quite common amongst Witches in the past. But first you must set out upon the Third Road, the road that leads to Elphame, initially you must make friends with the Faeries before expecting any teachings from them.

Further Reading
'The Burning of Bridget Cleary' by Angela Bourke.
'The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries' by W. Y. Evans-Wendz.
'Faeries' by Brian Froud and Alan Lee.
'Call of the Horned Piper' by Nigel Aldcroft Jackson.
'The Secret Commonwealth' by Robert Kirk.
'The God of the Witches' by Margaret Murray.
'The Good People' by Peter Narvaez.
'Lords and Ladies' by Terry Pratchett.
'At the Bottom of the Garden' by Diane Purkiss.
'Strange & Secret Peoples' by Carole Silver.
'Fairy & Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry' by W. B. Yeats.
'From the Beast to the Blonde' by Marina Warner.
'Crone’s Book of Magickal Words' by Valerie Worth.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cemetery Stories

I tend to frequent my local cemetery and have an active interest in others in my city. As well as being nice quiet places to walk around, I also have a specific interest in 19th century Egyptian-style funerary monuments which do appear in Melbourne cemeteries. The best Melbourne cemetery, I think, is Kew Cemetery (it also has the best Egyptian-style funerary monument, being David Syme's replica of the 'Kiosk of Trajan' from Philae), the best-kept cemetery is Brighton Cemetery, the oldest (and most vandalised, it seems) is St Kilda Cemetery, the most visually boring cemetery is Burwood Cemetery, and the most neglected one? The one right on the edge of the city: the Melbourne General Cemetery.

Dating to 1859 this fabulous, large cemetery with many famous graves - see Don Chamber's book "The Melbourne General Cemetery" (Hyland House 2003) for more details and self-guided walks - is, according to National Trust historian, Celestina Sagazio, author of "Cemeteries: Our Heritage" (National Trust. 1992) and also tour guide on Full Moon cemetery tours, in deep neglect because the maintainence of graves in the Melbourne General Cemetery is the responsibility of the decendants of the dead in those graves. Lots of people don't know that - our family certainly has never tended or restored a grave of one of our relatives in that cemetery, or any other. (Frankly, we barely know where the graves are). The problem with the graves being the responsibility of the descendants, is when they do know about it, often they have no idea of how to do proper conservation and, trying to be helpful, do things like paint straight over rust. The Springvale Necropolis is responsible for the Melbourne General Cemetery as a whole, but does not do maintainence on graves. What is more, at my last visit either vandalism has increased, which is not unlikely seeing as there is no security to speak of, or else the drought has made the ground so contracted that headstones are falling over by themselves, as you can see in my photos. The only work that seems to get done at this cemetery is the cutting down of the European trees along the fenceline. Apparently new trees will be planted, when the drought is over, I suppose.

Some people have wondered if this neglect of the Melbourne General Cemetery is in the service of eventual demolition and redevelopment of the site which must be absolutely prime real estate? But do people really want to live on top of the dead? I guess they are happy to shop on top of them, as the first cemetery in Melbourne was where the Victoria Market now is, and there are still some corpses under the ground there.
And P.S. No, my son is not damaging graves in those photos, he is just standing near them for purposes of scale or because he accidently got in the side of the photo.