Our Gardnarian Priestess had a collection of rituals on her computer and chose one for our Samhain rehearsal. Our priestess would not perform rituals on dark moon phases but suggested I continued those alone. My friend from college no longer joined me for those as were frequently with the magical group and she was required to spend time with her husband.
At Samhain I visited my maternal grandmother’s grave and laid flowers in her memory. I also gathered pebbles from the graveyard which contain powerful energies for spells.
At our Samhain ritual a large cauldron was placed before the altar containing many charcoals as a thick cloud of incense smoke was required.
Each member knelt before the cauldron in turn to remember loved ones in the spirit world. Our priestess suggested we used the smoke for scrying in order to see the faces of any spirit visitors from the Underworld. As each member did this, the rest of the group sang a chant asking the Goddess for ‘rebirth’.
The Coldrum stones was the nearest sacred site to my place of residence. It is an ancient burial mound and a good place to observe the sunrise at summer solstice.
After parking my car, I would walk along a pathway through woodland that led to a poppy field. The poppies were in bloom and their wonderful colours of vibrant red and green welcomed the season.
This is how the National Trust describes the site:
“Coldrum Long barrow is the least-damaged megalithic long barrow in Kent and takes its name from the now demolished Coldrum Lodge Farm. It is possible the name ‘Coldrum’ derived from the old Cornish word ‘Galdrum’ which means ‘place of enchantments’. Owned in perpetuity by us since 1926 in memorial of Benjamin Harrison, an Ightham historian, this 3,000 year-old burial chamber is the only one of those originally present in the Medway Valley to remain virtually intact. Every year, on the 1 May at dawn the Hartley Morris Men visit the stones to ‘sing up the sun’. This consists of performing a number of dances within the stones on top of the barrow, followed by a song usually performed at the base of the stones.”
For our next full moon ritual the priestess requested we brought personal items from someone we knew in need of protection or healing. My husband and I constructed a talisman for his father who was residing in a local hospice. My father in law could not sleep and our aim was to calm his mind. I found a small photograph of him and had collected his hair from the comb at the hospice. I added specific sea shells to help him emotionally. The wax talismans set quickly in their moulds and were prepared for magical working. Most of our rituals were performed at my place of residence and that particular night we ‘raised the roof’ with drumming and chanting to build energy. We began at 8pm and continued until 1.30am. It caused a reaction with our neighbours the following day as the walls in modern houses are thin and the smallest sounds can be heard!
The hospice staff contacted my mother in law at 4.30 (three hours after the ritual) and requested her presence as her husband was now in an unconscious state. The staff were unsure if he would regain consciousness, but he did so after eighteen hours. His father was alert and happy, a total contrast to his previous condition. As my mother in law left the room, he told my husband something extraordinary had occurred and he had “turned a corner”. He was about to reveal more but my mother in law came into the room and as he knew she was a sceptic he said no more. Instead, he spoke of his sister and mother who had died years before and he also wished to sort unfinished business with his family. My husband visited the hospice with his sisters.and observed his father lower his head and close his eyes before he spoke. It was as though he communicated with something and gave a sign of acknowledgement. His family received advice from him and he spoke of important family matters. A spirit medium also receives messages in this way before conveying them. My father in law was an atheist throughout his life and witnessing this change in him was fascinating. When he had completed the matters concerned he seemed content and told me that he was ready to go. He was no longer afraid and slept peacefully during the next month until he eventually passed away.
Our priestess thought our development within the magical group had progressed quicker than expected. She would often visit our tutors and praise us. She sensed their coven was not doing as well and assumed our tutors were jealous of her group. She informed me that rivalry is a traditional occurrence between covens.
When we attended the next London Pagan Conference, my husband kindly offered to escort our Morris tutors even though he did not attend himself. As we approached the venue we noticed our priestess walking towards the hall with her boyfriend and they were wet from the rain. I listened to the first talk given by an unusual speaker and recognised him as the man my husband spoke of who had spent nights in London cells when intoxicated and proceeded to’knight’ the police officers with his sword! When the talk was over I separated from our Morris tutors and explored the stalls alone. I eventually met my priestess who was upset about the fact we had escorted our tutors to the Conference while she walked in the rain. I reminded her that my husband enquired of her travel plans and she had preferred to travel by train. Our priestess assumed I was leaving her group to join our tutor’s coven. It was a matter of concern that she had made these assumptions without discussing the situation. She also informed me that high priestesses expect to be chauffeured from their homes by group members to Pagan events and their bags were carried. I accompanied her for the rest of the day and when we attended a talk I offered her the only empty chair and sat on the floor beside her. I did all I could to help which pleased her. No other group members attended this conference so the responsibility was mine. I observed my priestess as she spoke to other renowned Pagans and one charming Professor kissed my hand and said it was an honour to meet me. I also met members of her other magical group from the Bristol area and was introduced to the high priest of the friends I met at the eclipse. According to our priestess he had agreed to work with our group when required.
I purchased a book called Covencraft by Amber K to read about requirements for group members and their responsibilities towards their high priestess. I found nothing written on the subject. I discussed it with my college friend who disagreed with having to behave as servants. If a Priestess and Priest are giving their time to train a member then offering help is a way of acknowledging the work they do. I had heard experiences from Pagan women new to the Craft who had joined physically abusive covens. Fortunately my group seemed to be developing well and the previous incident at the Conference was not referred to again.
We met to discuss a full moon ritual and the priestess asked us to each choose a deity we would ‘become’ by taking the spirit of it into our bodies. All members researched their Deities to provide information for the group. Experienced friends of ours thought it far too early in our development to take on such a task. The day after this particular ritual my husband and I had a disagreement and he blamed the energy of the Deity I invoked as he assumed I had not let the energy go. My husband seemed uncomfortable with the presence of Sekhmet in our home and anything associated with her.
After my father in law’s diagnosis he borrowed my book “The Scole Experiment” as he was intrigued to read about the scientific experiments concerning life after death. He joked about taking his mobile phone with him and contacting me from the spirit world. When he returned my book he had written my name and the date on the inside cover. I visited him at the hospice and gave him manicures, Reflexology and Reiki. The difference in temperature during the Reiki treatments was remarkable as I sweltered with the heat and he was cool. Yuletide was a difficult time for my husband’s family as my father in law deteriorated rapidly and it was difficult to know what to purchase for him. We felt no excitement for seasonal celebrations that year and he passed away just before Yuletide. I sensed something that day and suggested my husband contact his mother. He was determined to finish his chores before contacting her and within minutes his mother telephoned us as she thought her husband was on the point of passing away. He died five minutes after the phone call and as she lived twenty-two miles away from us, my husband would not have arrived in time if he had left immediately.
The funeral was arranged for early January. My father in law heard a Morris tune I attempted to play on a button accordion and suggested the music for his funeral. After hearing this our Morris team performed at the funeral wake. The venue was a local theatre as he was a member of the amateur dramatics group. At the final part of the funeral ceremony the vicar spoke of my father in law’s life and achievements. He turned and held out his hand in the direction of the coffin and said “I give you………” The curtain slowly closed as his ‘life performance’ had now come to an end. The guests were silent for a few minutes observing the closed red curtain and no rapturous applause was heard this time. His lively character will always be remembered.
We were invited by our Morris tutors to their Yuletide party. Our priestess was away that weekend and a little uncomfortable about us attending without her. I spoke to our female tutor about her coven and I had heard about their temple from my priestess. I asked to see it and the tutor immediately took me there. We climbed four flights of stairs to the top of the town house to one of the attic rooms and as we entered she bowed to the altar and I did the same. I stood back to study the temple. The ceiling sloped downwards as it was part of the roof and the walls were painted pale green. An image of Isis and Osiris hung on the wall above the altar. All objects in the room were clean, polished and treated with the utmost respect. A large brass antique oil lamp with a green glass chimney hung from the ceiling. I commented on the temple’s peaceful energy and the welcoming feeling and wished that I had a room large enough for a temple as it was a lot of work preparing the space in the lounge before the group arrived. We re-joined the party in the kitchen and I noticed our tutor nod to her husband. When our priestess returned from her break I told her that I had seen our tutor’s temple. I enjoyed working with the Gardnarian group, but there were aspects my husband and I were uncomfortable with. He enjoyed the thought that our tutors may have wanted us for their own group, but we decided to stay with the Gardnarian group at this time to see how it developed.