6. First Steps

I celebrated my first full moon ritual before the summer solstice as I had done sufficient personal research and study for just over two years. I set up a sacred space within my lounge dismissing the warnings from past Christian teachings. 

First Ritual Space

First Ritual Space

My family had retired for the night and I was alone. I felt a little apprehensive about the invocations of the elementals and Gods, but the ritual turned out to be a wonderful experience. There was a peaceful and gentle energy which felt familiar.

First Altar

First Altar

My altar was small and simple with a pewter figure of a faerie to represent the Goddess. My husband who received inspiration from his visit to Cornwall, created a clay Goddess figure and I was pleasantly surprised at how lovely it was.  I owned few magical tools, but this did not detract from the energy that was raised.

The following summer solstice ritual was celebrated at midday. It was a hot summer’s day and an ideal opportunity to set up my sacred space in our garden.

Summer Solstice Altar

Summer Solstice Altar

The patio was paved with an area of soil that included a small willow tree. A long ornate stone bench was an ideal surface for my altar.

Full Moon Garden Ritual

Full Moon Garden Ritual

A year of Sabbats and moons passed and the time felt right for my self-initiation ritual to the Gods. I discovered a ritual for this in the Hedge Witch book I borrowed. The preparation began near Beltane, an auspicious time for initiations and new beginnings. I bathed in salt water, used specific oils and followed the preparation carefully. This initiation was significant as it involved no one but the Gods and myself. I regularly updated my hand written diary with my experiences throughout the journey. It is a useful reference and also a reminder of how much I have accomplished and how far I have come.

The first spell I cast was to request assistance from the Gods in seeking a wise woman to guide my development. I now know that requests may not bring immediate results and can take years to come to fruition. They may also be granted in a way you would least expect!

I heard of a local spirit medium that my friends had consulted. Two young men were with her on the evening a mutual friend of ours died in a car accident in 1985 at twenty-six years of age. The medium wrote down the information and they read it to me. She was uncannily accurate about the inflicted injuries and   circumstances. It was tragic to lose a good friend at the peak of his life, especially when his daughter was born six weeks later.

mediums-house2Thirteen years later in 1998, I arranged to visit the spirit medium. I arrived at her residence situated by a busy ‘slip’ road. The detached house was in need of maintenance and stood adjacent to an old abandoned garage. A faded wooden yellow crescent moon hung outside the door of the house. The medium’s daughter invited me in and directed me to the lounge. I sat on an armchair and admired her collection of crystal balls in a glass display cabinet. I sensed an intense energy within the house. When the medium was ready for me, I entered the dining room and sat at her large oval dining table. Beside her laid a deck of old, well used Tarot cards.

To allay any doubts of the information given, I removed my jewellery to give no external clues. The medium suggested I brought a cassette tape to record the reading and she also wrote down any messages she received on notepaper. Her first message was about my paternal grandmother’s presence around me.  My grandmother passed away when I was a few months old and I knew little about her. The medium mentioned a name I recognized as the name of my piano teacher and was informed it was also my grandmother’s name. (My husband contacted my parents asking my father for the names of his parents as my son wished to construct a family tree. The information given confirmed that the spirit medium was correct and the name also belonged to my grandmother!)

The medium informed me that in a past life I had been executed for providing successful healing treatments. This allegedly happened in the seventeenth century and my name was Rachel.  I was one of four sisters and had a mother who mourned my early death at the age of twenty-two. I was shocked to hear that the body was supposedly buried in Cornwall near the Tamar.  ( I later discovered that there had been no executions in Cornwall of anyone as young as 22 years of age). The medium seemed to have a strong connection with the spirit world as some of the information she divulged was about things she could not have known.  My relatives in the spirit world apparently praised me for summoning the courage to break free from my parents’ religion and follow my own path.

My husband arrived home from work one evening and told me of a domestic disturbance the police were alerted to at a London home. The resident there was allegedly a vampire and my husband’s colleagues were reluctant to investigate, so my husband volunteered. He discovered that a witch resided there with a younger man. 

Image - Homes Properties

Image – Homes Properties

The older man who was known as a vampire no longer lived there, but he still influenced the young man. The witch had practised the craft for twenty-seven years but also suffered with M.E. She planned to start a Coven of her own and my husband suggested we meet. It was the first time I met people who claimed to be vampires. She lived in a beautiful apartment which was part of a spacious period property. I noticed a large golden picture of an Egyptian Pharaoh stood against the wall. The witch was middle aged, attractive, tall, thin and pale with dark cropped hair. She wore bright red lipstick and a tight short black dress. The witch kissed us both on the cheek as we arrived and was very hospitable. We heard how she was emotionally abused by the vampire but was in love with him. He also psychically drained her and she thought this was the cause of her illness. My husband thought this man had appeared before at a past protest demonstration in the local park. The protesters had tied themselves to a tree overnight and a vampire had appeared  dressed in costume wielding a knife which frightened the demonstrators. The witch had attempted spells to keep the man away from her, but she still felt drained by him. The young man who resided with her was twenty-two years of age, his eyes seemed almost black as he intently stared at us. His gothic attire and make up were inspired by the main character in the film The Crow. The witch had attempted to help him with personal problems but felt drained by him also. The negativity was evident and even though the she wanted her life to improve and break free from the situation, she found it difficult to do so. I cast protection spells for her and provided healing treatments on a few occasions. My husband gave her financial advice but she did not heed it. I could not understand how a woman who had supposedly attained a certificate from the High Church of Magical Arts could not get herself out of the situation. It seemed the ‘way of the vampire’ was part of her too as she needed energy from others to replenish what was taken from her. We decided to stop visiting her when she did not make the effort to help herself. This experience changed my view of Pagans with acclaimed magical qualification certificates and status.

The hedge witch, my first Pagan contact invited me to a ‘Wiccaning’ ceremony for her new child. I had attended group rituals she had organized and although I enjoyed them I felt a little uncomfortable concerning the presence of small children at the events.

Farningham Woodland. Image - Geograph

Farningham Woodland. Image – Geograph

They were held in local woodland and passers by could hear chanting and infant cries. They walked around the sacred space peering through the trees to see what was occurring. The media who sensationalize connections between child sacrifice and witchcraft concerned me and I no longer attended the local group rituals at this time. Each experience on my journey whether it was positive or negative, made an important contribution in shaping my spiritual development and understanding.

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