17. Further Training

I heard that my parents visited my daughter to see their great-grandchild and warned her against witchcraft practices as they are detested by God.  Its seemed they assumed I encouraged my children to follow this path when in fact I suggested they learn about all belief systems and decide for themselves.

Members of our Morris team soon discovered we were part of our tutor’s coven due to the words spoken on greeting one another. The closer relationship with our tutors and taking on officers’ roles within the team altered our relationship with other members. My son spent a considerable amount of time with the Morris team and learnt their risqué songs at nine years of age. The songs amused him although he did not fully understand their content. We discovered he performed them at school after reading his tutor’s comment on his school report concerning him entertaining the class with ‘colourful songs’!

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Our son appeared confident and outspoken as a dancer and drummer with the Morris team. He associated mainly with adults and the team were popular in the Pagan and Morris world due to their good reputation for performance. Some of the Morris men thought our son precocious and undisciplined, but he was raised to be confident so that he was not victimized or abused which would damage his childhood. I was however a firm parent when needed as my husband was besotted with his son and would not refuse him anything or allow him to hear constructive criticism.

We were requested to perform at the Halloween festival and on this occasion I met a beautiful female singer. It was the first time I had seen her and was impressed by her music. I purchased one of her albums and noticed her telephone number displayed on a small sticker at the back.  I sent a phone text giving feedback and was surprised that she replied immediately and arranged to visit me. After that we formed a close friendship.

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Her sound was unique but not to everyone’s taste as my husband asked me not to play her music in his presence. She developed her unique style during trance meditation and I was astounded at the powerful voice which emanated from a small woman. Before the ‘new age scene’ she was a vocalist with rock bands and recorded a song for the opening scene of a popular movie. The young man she cohabited with was unsupportive as he disliked her new sound.  I enjoyed spending time with her and hearing her unusual views on certain aspects of life.  It was good to have another singer around as I missed my daughter’s voice after she left home. My husband described my friend as haughty and I understood why she could appear so but she was also a loving and caring friend.

Our coven met to discuss various books we were instructed to read and provide feedback on the books that resonated with us. The book that stood out for me was about the life of George Pickingill the Cunning Man. This choice surprised my Priestess.

Image - Insight Books

Image – Insight Books

The accounts of ‘shape shifting’ and reading the villager’s stories about a drove of white hares in the graveyard on the nights Pickingills’ coven met fascinated me.

Image - Hermetic

Image – Hermetic

My husband preferred Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton and our Priestess and Priest spoke highly of this book. I enjoyed that one also but Pickingill story left a lasting impression.

There seemed to be a little jealousy surfacing in the coven as my husband thought the other male member was favoured over him. the other member had known our tutors for many years and the Priest commented during his initiation they had waited seven years for that moment. Before our rituals we first prepared the temple assisted by the Priest. It meant frequent journeys up and down four flights of stairs from the basement kitchen to the temple in an attic room.  After placing the cakes and wine on the altar I was not permitted to leave the tray outside the temple as it would be needed again to transport the libations into the garden. The tray had to be put away in the kitchen. The altar accoutrements were laid out in specific positions as each one corresponded with an elemental direction. The male members lit the candles and burnt incense in the temple and when all was prepared, I then changed into my robe in the room below. During the preparation, our Priestess bathed and dressed in her robes to appear before us. She entered the temple with her hair still wet and examined each of us from head to foot as we stood in line. Her expression conveyed pride in her coven. The rituals were slightly more serious compared to the Gardnarian celebrations we had experienced.

Magical Ring. Image - Polyvore

Magical Ring. Image – Polyvore

On one occasion we stood in line awaiting our Priestess and the Priest entered the temple requesting I remove a ring from my right index finger. I wore many rings and had been so busy with preparation I forgot to remove it when changing. During our next coven meeting, the Priest spoke about coven members who try to elevate themselves to second degree before they are ready. Our Priestess was not present for this part of the meeting and it seemed he was alluding to the ring I had worn in the temple as if the action were contrived. I knew that it would take more than the mere wearing of a ring to attain a second degree, but I did not challenge him on this matter. The Priest also spoke about elementals being asked to enter the sacred space and never summoned. Our former Priestess had passion in her voice during invocation which could be heard as ‘summoning’ and I had followed her example. The words written for invocation of elementals are “I SUMMON, stir and call ye forth” which could be confusing for new initiates.

Birth Chart. Image - Shan-grila

Birth Chart. Image – Shan-grila

We were asked to research our birth charts and take note of their details and meanings. Our Priestess and Priest were curious to know the aspects we agreed or disagreed with. They had other examples of birth charts stored on their computer and my husband noticed a list of charts belonging to their acquaintances. This knowledge would be useful when interacting with them. When I studied my own chart I thought the interpretation of my personality was not totally accurate. It foretold that I would give total devotion and loyalty to people or projects that aroused passion within me. This would have been a ‘plus’ when my chart was examined with a view to joining a coven. The effect of  a cult religion in my formative years as I witnessed the severing of emotional ties and contact with family and close associates this meant that I could sever ties if necessary. This aspect is not mentioned in my chart.

Image - Deviant Art

Image – Deviant Art

We were instructed to work with each of the four elements over a period of six weeks. We used meditation for this and at the end of each six week period we created a ritual for that particular element.

Ishtar and Ereshkigal. Image - Plantibee

Ishtar and Ereshkigal. Image – Plantibee

Our Priestess and Priest informed us they had volunteered our coven to perform for the open Autumn Equinox ritual in London. The performance was about Ishtar and Ereshkigal. The character chosen for me was Ishtar the Queen of the Heavens. We sat at our Priestess’ dining room table and listened to the script. Ishtar descended to the Underworld to meet her sister Ereshkigal, (our Priestess had chosen this character for herself). The Gatekeeper (played by our other male member) opened each gate for Ishtar, but as she passed through each gateway he removed some of her of jewels and clothes symbolising her power. Our Priestess suggested the Gatekeeper was forceful to create the intensity of a ‘rape’. When Ishtar was stripped of all her power, she was then at the mercy of Ereshkigal who hung her sister on a hook to rot. Dumuzi  (the character chosen for my husband) descended to the Underworld to save Ishtar and Ereshkigal found him attractive. She offered Dumuzi anything he wanted, so he asked for a drink of water from the hanging water skin (Ishtar’s rotting body). The waters of life were then sprinkled upon her and Ishtar was brought back to life. Ereshkigal allowed Ishtar to leave but Dumuzi had to stay with her, therefore he sacrificed himself for Ishtar’s freedom. I later discovered that the actual story is different from this version. Our Priest narrated the script and rock music would be played, so we would act out the play with few speaking parts. 

Image - Roleplay Gateway

Image – Roleplay Gateway

We were required to wear full white face masks and black cloaks for the introduction of setting up the sacred space. The character of Ishtar required three face masks and two costumes changes. I created one of the costumes, a white cotton dress with Velcro sewn into the seams to be torn off my body and a light blue cloak decorated with silver stars. I purchased a flesh colour body suit from a dance retailer and a mask that would be painted to look like a corpse.  I needed a copious amount of jewellery to be removed as I passed through the gates. I expressed my concerns about this performance to my husband and he thought the starring role would be good for my development. The role our Priestess had chosen as Ereshkigal amused him as he thought it right for her.

My husband often played the ‘naughty boy’ within the coven, but the more he misbehaved the harder he had to work. Learning the words for setting up the sacred space was difficult for him as Alexandrian ritual uses many words. When he attempted to recite an invocation, perspiration would drip from his face. He handled other aspects of life well and seemed to take matters in his stride; so it was unusual to see him react this way. He thought our Priestess enjoyed wielding power over him because of the high rank he obtained within his occupation. At one of our full moon rituals we were not assigned specific roles, but our Priestess suggested my husband took on all roles for setting up the space, or he could delegate some of it to other members if he required assistance. He refused to give her the satisfaction of him asking for assistance and learnt all roles himself. He accomplished this task well and I knew how difficult that was for him. By setting this task however, our Priestess and Priest showed him how an incentive could help him overcome this difficulty.

I continued to teach dances in the role of Foreman for the women’s Morris team. It was not an easy task as there were strong personalities, but I also understood that our tutors needed to delegate some of their responsibility and pressures. 

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