Ghost Hunting: Wainbody Wood & Gibbet Hill

Last night was my first ghost hunting experience and it was very interesting indeed! I have always been very open-minded and have wanted to try something like this out for myself – for the very reasons, if nothing else, that I’ll be able to tell when someone is hiding in the dark trying to scare me against something altogether otherworldly happening.

The night started off with meeting up with the rest of the group, walking through to base camp and being split off into smaller groups. My group of six and the guide/organiser of the event, after taking some time to protect ourselves spiritually/psychically, first went down a trail into the woods where very quickly we noticed a severe change in temperature. Whilst we were standing in the dark, calling out, we became aware of flashes of orange light some distance ahead among the trees. This light began to appear from different directions as we continue to speak out to the spirits, should any be present and I got a feeling of being watched and at one point saw a hazy mist just above head level off to my left. I also got a sense of time from the area, like the residual energy and spirits were a few hundred years old.

2013-08-31 23.51.52

Russell stands off in the darkness, with this strange shape/light to the left of the shot (it appeared on 3 consecutive shots in this direction).

We began to walk around back to the base camp (the path in this part going in a circular direction) and as we reached the second part of the path the icy air and sense of being watched dissipated and the woods felt a lot more “normal”. Back at the camp, we were asked to try a spirit board to see if any of the spirits would come through. I was intrigued to try this as I’d never “dabbled” with Ouija boards or anything, having been “warned” off them by my mum at an earlier age. However, I was feeling brave and wanted to experience it and be sure I wasn’t “pushing” the glass or anything.

We took turns in asking questions to any of the spirits that wanted to communicate. After a few moments of pause, the glass gingerly began to move. The first concrete message to come through gave us a man, called F. Gulf from 1845 whose profession started with an “S”. After that we had another male who gave the initials “CJ” as a name and then began to spell random letters, though it occurred to me that perhaps they were Roman Numerals (I, C, M etc.). After that the board seemed to go quiet, however during the time we were using it and calling out, there was a lot of activity in the woods around us; noises and such that appeared to be coming closer to us.

Next, two of our group (my partner and another lady) opted to go back down the path towards the “cold area” and see if they could pick anything up. Whilst they were down there, we at camp could here noises coming from that direction, including a large “snap” of wood and the sound of a pained man calling out – as if someone had fallen over in the dark. When they came back to the group, they said they hadn’t heard anything and that it hadn’t been my partner who had tripped or something.

After that we swapped guides and went off towards Gibbet Hill, where historically three soldiers had been executed for the murder of a man in Coventry and their bodies tarred and hung in gibbets for 69 years as a warning that Coventry was a lawful city. Once we walked over through the woods to the right area, we were split into groups of two (though my partner and another lady we’re put on their own) and we tried calling out for any spirits. It seemed reasonably quiet, but we did hear a few heavy sounds in the bushes ahead of us; but it was more like foot-falls rather than some animal moving through the foliage.

Then we moved up a bit further and tried out a “human pendulum”, where we formed a circle holding hands and one person stood in the centre and we asked the spirits to use our collective energies to move the person. We didn’t have much luck with this and then another group joined with us and we tried it again, finally getting more of a result with a couple of members. But still not very much communication or anything clear.

2013-08-31 23.44.36

A strange shape that featured on 5 shots along the path at the Highwaymen Camp area.

Once again we swapped groups and went with another set of guides back towards base camp. They took us back towards the area we had first been in and whilst I was walking towards the back of the group I took a number of photos. In every single one, there appeared a white “blob” in the left hand corner. I checked that my fingers weren’t in the way and that the lens was clean and still the shape appeared. Then when we stopped and were split up, I took pictures in all directions around me and the form was gone. We spent some time on our own, in the dark, whilst the guide called out. I felt something “stand” just behind me and began to feel very uneasy and then out of nowhere there was the sound of a woman screaming.

That scared me quite a lot and I ran to the nearest person (my partner). Logically I thought it must have been someone in one of the other groups. The guide came to stand with me and I explained what I’d felt so he sent my partner to stand where I had been. He called out and I took pictures in the direction and a white shape appeared once again in the left hand of each shot.

We headed back around to base camp where we met up with another selection of the main group who had also heard the scream but had thought it was one of us. By the end of the night, it had been established that everyone had clearly heard the woman’s scream but each person had thought it to be someone in another group. We also asked about the history of the area we had been in and were told that it had at one time been a highwaymen camp and that the people of Coventry had begun to get tired of the robbery and so soldiers had gone in and slaughtered anyone they found living within the woods.

We were then lead up towards what had until recently been used as a pagan circle as well as a camping ground by local Scouts. This little area had such a wonderful and peaceful energy and the trees opened up to a clear sky, where we saw a couple of shooting stars! It truly was magickal and I would love to visit this area again in the daytime.

From that small respite of positive energy we headed down to another area which had apparently been quite active earlier in the night with other groups. It was instantly much colder again and I didn’t like the sense of the area without specifically being able to put my finger on it. We spent quite a while in this area as a small group but nothing really seemed to happen; all photos didn’t show anything up and despite a feeling of unease there was no real activity.

The guide decided to split us up into pairs and spread us out through the area. Myself and my partner went and stood further up the path and in the darkness we called out to any spirits in the area. At first there was nothing but then slowly the energy began to change; we heard noises around us, my partner head whispers and mumbling behind him. It felt like we were being watched by different people and then there was this sense like we were being circled. It was very negative and the emotions I could feel around me included a lot of anguish and fear, to the point where I began to feel nauseous.

It began to get a little too close and overpowering and so we instructed the spirits to back away, thanking them for their effort to communicate with us. Shortly after, the guide came up the path to us explaining that he felt “drawn” to come and see if we were alright and we explained what we had just experienced before re-joining the rest of our group.

2013-08-31 22.25.42

Strands of mist and haze close to base camp.

I asked if we could go back to the pagan circle, just so I could ground myself a little after feeling such a blast of negative energy and then after that we headed back to base camp, though we seemed to get a little “lost” and ended up taking a very long way around to get back there, rather than the more direct route along which we had originally come.

We spent more time at base camp, listening to some conversation, explaining what we had seen/heard etc. with the others. It was then suggested that we all go back up to the pagan circle to try a larger human pendulum. The majority of us headed back there, whilst the organiser of the event saw a couple of people who decided to leave back to their car. We waited in the circle for him to arrive, with me generally just enjoying the sense of peace and stillness in this little area.

Once the organiser came back he approached my partner and I and asked if he could borrow us for a little experiment. We agreed and our friends who we were with came also. He took us back down the trail to the area where my partner and I had had the negative experience and we all stood there in the dark as the temperature around us dropped, chilling us to the bone.

He asked us what we had originally experienced when down here as the general feedback had been that it hadn’t been very active which he was surprised about. We explained that it had been quite until we had split off where my partner and I had had the rather negative experience.

2013-09-01 00.22.27

Friends Martin, Kylie and my partner Russell with an unexplained “mist” in the corner.

That’s when he explained that the area had been used by at least a dozen reported suicides by hanging in the 80s. One of those people, had been his boyfriend/partner who had killed himself in that very area one night, using a jacket that he had lent him, to hang himself. He then when on to explain how his partner had had a very hard time accepting being gay (early 20s during the beginning of the 1990s) and that usually if any openly gay people/couples are present in the area the spirit usually reacts badly to them, causing nausea, pushing, scratching and sensing of negative emotions. This was fascinating as well as saddening, and during the entire time I was stood there my stomach was in knots and I had an aching pain under my diaphragm.

We finally left that area, my sense of fear, emotion and nausea dissipating by the time we reached the base camp. That was the end of the night, just after 2am in the morning. Tired, a little chilly and certainly with a lot to process, we said our goodbyes and headed home. A lot of the photos I took during the night didn’t particular show anything other than darkness and a bit of flash-highlight foliage, however some (like the ones I’ve included here) had strange mists or haze or blobs that couldn’t be explained as a finger or dust etc because I was doubly sure to check for that; especially in the series of 5 photos where a “changing” shape featured in the same area of the frame (whilst I was walking along a path and stopping to take photos every so often).

All in all it was a very interesting night and I would definitely go on future investigations to other places as well as back to the woods to see what other things I can experience firsthand!

Advertisements

Hekate Symposium 2013

I have had the most splendid weekend in Glastonbury joining together with other’s for the second Hekate Symposium. Having thoroughly enjoyed all the goings-on of 2012, I was eagerly anticipating this year’s and was not disappointed in the slightest!

Changing down to a single-day event, Saturday got off to an early start with helping to set up for attendees and stall holders as well as some time to mingle, catching up with old friends, as well as to get to know people who were until that point acquaintances on Facebook. I also quite enjoyed the change of venue, enjoying the larger space and the stage element for the speakers and Hekate Shrine.

Once everyone was settled it was time to begin and the day’s events kicked off with a Blessing Ceremony conducted by “Guest of Honour” (at least in my book!) author, artist and priest Georgi Mischev of the Bulgarian group Threskeia.

Whilst Sorita d’Este reading translation of the various parts, Georgi conducted a powerful and meaningful Blessing that no language barrier could get in the way of. The sheer transformation between him as a very friendly and warm soul in person, to the devoted and commanding presence he exuded in his capacity as priest was breath-taking!

And so with Hekate’s gaze and blessing now firmly upon us, David Rankine – Master of Ceremony – introduced the first speaker of the event to the stage. Up first was Sophia Kirke and her talk “Circe, lover and sorceress”. Delving into Circe’s origins, Sophia lead us in a captivating recount of elements of the tale of Odysseus. There were many parallels drawn with the dark/light, kill/cure aspect surrounding the topic of pharmaka and the fabled Mole flower, with links to sympathetic magic. To finish, we were all lead on a short transformational path-working which I personally found reflected some of the changes I have gone through recently in myself.

After a short break we returned to the much anticipated “Hekate: Genesis” performance led by Emily Carding and So Potent Arts. This Hekatean-Shakespearean mash-up was fascinating and captivating. The high quality of the performance and the sheer originality of the piece lead to raucous applause – and rightly so!

This lead nicely into the lunch break which enabled some more socialising, some time browse the stalls and dash onto the high street to make purchases. Once we were all back in our seats, eagerly awaiting the next talk, Hazel lead us in her talk “Oceanic Hecate: An exploration of Hecate’s water depths”.

I found this fascinating and it echoed some of the watery themes that had already cropped up in Sophia’s talk on Circe. Having dealt with a lot of emotional changes in the last twelve months, I was interested to see how Hekate’s lesser known/explored ocean aspect reflected in areas of my life. There was a lot of talk around “going with the flow”, “never fear, fight or suppress emotions” as well as the liminality of the beach and deep, emotional healing – all things I could relate to.

Next up was “The Goddess Hekate and the Wheel of the Year” by Amelia Ounsted. Looking at Hekate from both a historical point of view as well as a Wiccan one (that did not attribute the stereotype of the Crone to her). I liked the “intellectual puzzle” description of Amelia’s process and journey through exploring Hekate and the Wheel; her encounters with different aspects of the Goddess, such as “child” and “sexy” Hekate and how it deepened her understanding of Soteira as “the life force that infuses, changes and resides within us.”

Following another break, we settled down to listen to Georgi Mischev speak on “The Four Faced Hekate”. The basis for his second book, he discussed polycephalic deities amidst the peoples of Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa. The connections between ritual masks and multi-faced, single deities such as Hermes, Dionysos, Janus and of course, Hekate. He also explained the development of the Sun-God from a monda (singular) into a tetrad (four) and the face that Hekate is “one goddess with a multiplied image”. There was so much fascinating information coming from Georgi that I couldn’t quite scribble fast enough AND listen at the same time, so I for one am very much looking forward to his book on the subject!

After a few questions directed towards Georgi’s talk, Sorita d’Este took to the stage to begin her talk “Hekate, Illuminating the Mysteries, Shattering Illusions”. Swapping her planned academic talk for a personal exploration of her work with Hekate, she lead us on the tale of her somewhat complex route. This sense of personal insight and sharing was a very fitting way to sum up the end of the day’s main talks as I had felt a great sense of unity and community in all those present – much more so than the previous year.

With a last look around the stalls, the hall was vacated to allow for the evening’s preparations and last minute tweaking/planning for the Closing Ceremony. Reconvening for 8pm, Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule and Friends performed Oryelle’s “Liber Qoph vel Hekate”, a lunar adoration written as counterpoint to Crowley’s solar adoration “Liber Resh vel Helios”. With Emily Carding, Aria Amarosa and Su Real dancing/performing, Orryelle led us with violin and voice, accompanied by Andrea Kundry on gong and gamelan. It was a very energetic lead up to the evening’s ritual closing ritual; intense and original and something that I very much enjoyed it.

And so, we came to the end of the day with the Closing Ceremony, presided over by Sorita with myself, my friend Robert, Georgi, Sophia, Hazel, Lezley, Andrea and Amelia taking part as the ritual team. The ritual itself again amplified and brought home the huge sense of community from the day’s events. After blessing, purification and greeting the Elements we all chanted together which really brought us together further and the energies in the room – already palpable by that point – continued to swell. After being lead in a call and response piece by Lezley and some more chanting, soon enough it was time for Hekate to be called upon to use Amelia to communicate an oracle to all present. This was a truly superb experience – being only my third of a trance-oracle priestess. Four of the attending priestess in turn invoked Hekate and with the fourth invocation it was like a bolt of lightning descended in the room – and into Amelia.

Her oracle was so powerful that it shook the very walls! It was a true blessing and very special. Afterwards, Hekate-Amelia was asked to bless food and wine and tiny oracle scrolls for the attendees. Then, in turn, everyone came to share in the food and drink and to take their scroll. With the ritual wrapped up, there was some time for unwinding, socialising, drinking and of course tidying away. A long but highly positive and eventful day indeed!

The following day, anyone still in Glastonbury who wished to attend were invited to private land owned by Sorita’s partner Lokabandhu Lokabee, right up by the Tor, for a picnic and ritual. The glorious sunshine (Thracian sun – bottled and brought by the generous Georgi Mischev!) welcomed those of us in attendance as we met at the White Springs and then climbed up the hill towards the Tor and the field. We sat and talked, laughed, shared, explored and then carried out a simple impromptu ritual. Lighting a fire, we burnt the offerings that had been placed on the shrine the previous day whilst being led in a powerful chant by Orreyelle! Hekate obviously couldn’t wait for Her grapes and rose as the flames leapt out to great me, singing the hairs up my arm, lol!

Once we had finished, we gathered our belongings and prepared to head down again. I left some flowers at the three-way crossroads that was just outside the entrance to the field. We then all went into the White Springs, which is where in 2012 the Symposium was lucky enough to hold the Rite of Her Sacred Fires inside. I enjoyed being back in there…I like the primal and cooling nature. Again the watery/oceanic aspect of Hekate was present and the cooling water lapped at my feet.

Overall it was a beautiful and meaningful weekend! I was so glad to be back in Glastonbury, as well as surrounded with my fellow brothers and sisters of Hekate. HUGE thanks to everyone involved for their effort, hard work, devotion and friendship and Super-Special thanks to Sorita and Georgi! I look forward to 2014 – the Third Annual Hekate Symposium should be something very special indeed, I’m sure!!

I returned home to Coventry with many fond memories, new friendships forged and some beautiful purchases and gifts.

Emily Carding - So Potent Arts Georgi & Me Georgi & Sorita Georgi Mischev - Four-Faced Hekate Talk Georgi Mischev - Opening Blessing Liber Qoph Vel Hekate Performance

Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule Post-Symposium Picnic So Potent Arts Performance Symposium Hekate Shrine

Hekate Statue by Georgi Mischev

IO HEKATE!!!

IO HEKATE!!

http://theurgia.co.uk/

http://threskeia.webs.com/

http://sorita.co.uk/

http://hekatecovenant.com/

This time last year…

…I was a wreck.

Not even a month fresh off the back of a complete breakdown, I was in a very dark and lonely place. Isolated, withdrawn, fearful, angry, frustrated, powerless, weak…I had let life get the better of me yet again and the Gods were not going to stand by and watch me wreck my outlook another time and so they pulled the rug from under my feet and sent me spiralling into oblivion.

But now…now I’m back at work, sticking to my guns with regards to not being walked all over/taken advantage of. I am more confident, more assertive, more happy. I have wonderful people in my life – some very new, but still very special – all of whom have been there to help motivate me and keep me walking in the right direction.

In the last twelve months I’ve been able to finally find and be the person who I am meant to be; a glimmer of my ultimate, True Self. I’m also going to the gym – finally putting my money where my mouth is and getting in shape to enable me to feel confident on the outside as well as the inside.

I’m not perfect. But I’m taking it a day at a time. I have my slips. I have my difficult days. But I try to remain focused on the good days, on the things to look forward to. For memories. For friends. For family. For lovers.

So I suppose what I want to really say with this little ramble is “thank you”…to everyone (myself included) for everything – however small or fleeting – they have done that’s helped turn my life around in such a big way in the last twelve months!

An Evening with Dionysos

Saturday night I decided to spend the evening with Dionysos, refamiliarising myself with his unique energy and celebrating his many gifts to mankind. I gathered together a good bottle of wine – conveniently called “Satyr” from the Seleni Estates in New Zealand – with good, simple food: grapes, figs, goat cheese, bresaola, rustic bread and some organic pate. Once everything was together, Dionysos was asked to bless the food and wine and I gave a portion in offering.

Good food and fine wine

“Eiresione brings

All good things,

Figs and fat cakes to eat,

Soft oil and honey sweet,

and brimming wine-cup deep

that she may drink and sleep.”

Whilst I munched, I mused and thought of Dionysos and trawled through pictures, info and blogs on the internet slowly building up a feeling for his energies. I found some new and sexy images on a particularly good image blog, Where Dionysos Dwells.

I then moved on to flicking through my books on the God; Walter F. Otto’s “Dionysos: Myth & Cult”, “Dionysos” by Richard Seaford, “The God Who Comes – Dionysian Mysteries Revisited” by Rosemarie Taylor-Perry, Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s devotional anthology “Written in Wine”, Andrew Dalby’s “Bacchus A Biography” and the latest addition to my Dionysian library, “Ecstatic” by H. Jeremiah Lewis (also known as Sannion).

A wealth of knowledge - but still barely scratching the surface!

“The madness of Dionysus is engendered in the vine and is shared by everyone who imbibes its miraculous elixir.”

The wine was warming and was soon coursing through my system which added a delightful haze to the evening’s proceedings. Reading up on history and experience and viewing pictures of that wild, raucous God, with the knowing smile and languid eyes. The Load Roaring One, laden with heavy clusters; intoxicating, liberating – He who has known the darkest depths of me, forced me to confront myself through madness and fear.

Hail Dionysos - God of revelry and the vine!

“A bull be, Bacchus,

or a serpent many-headed be,

or a radiant lion be:

hunt the hunter, Bacchus…”

I had such a lovely, lazy evening; like a symposia of one. I relived memories, both good and bad, was inspired in my future devotion to Dionysos, I am looking forward to upcoming festivals particularly Anthesteria, started to develop ideas for an experiential piece to write and I’m certain I’ll be making these little nights in with the Big Guy a regular occasion!

 

The Gods Who Comes!

Io Bromios! Io Dendrites! Enorches!  Eleutherios!  Bacchus! Io!”

Covenant of Hekate Camping & Picnic Weekend

Our humble abode for the weekend!

This weekend I have been away in Yorkshire at a very enjoyable weekend set up by Tara Sanchez (author of “The Temple of Hekate“.

After resigning myself to not being able to attend two weeks ago and subsequently making other, more local, plans things all changed at the last minute and I found myself scrambling about attempting to be able to attend with less than 24hrs to go!

As luck would have it and thanks to the support and generosity of both Tara and my partner Darren, I was able to jump in a car with just a few things and zip off first thing Friday morning to Bredsbury to meet with Tara, help her finish getting everything together and then together with another attendee, we drove up to Sentry Circle in Yorkshire.

Bly our HGH (Holy Guardian Hound) - no Hekatean should be without one!

We were very fortunate on a number of levels from the glorious weather (28-30 degrees at end of Sept/beginning of Oct!!), a beautiful site, welcoming people and all round just great energy. Of note is the wonderful Bly, the owner’s dog who is a real sweet character and

very friendly. He captivated everyone and was dubbed our HGH or Holy/Hekate Guardian Hound. His personality was so much bigger than his humble little form but he was such a heart-warming addition to the weekend.

On the Friday itself there was just 4 of us to open up and once the tent was pitched and we’d had a rest we set up an altar to Hekate, situated by the campfire (that was left up day and night for the entire weekend) and performed an opening/gathering ritual.

Amazing people, amazing place, amazing time!

The night continued with good food, good company, and good wine; with conversation trailing well into the wee hours – Tara and myself talking until 4am (until the wine ran out, lol!) It was a first for me camping – and only a second occasion of a group gathering. In the early hours of Saturday I went up to the stone circle that was raised in accordance to the old ways back in 2008 and considering it is in effect a modern construct it’s look and energy feels like it has been there for 1200 years or more!

Each stone was alive with a different energy and personality and the whole circle felt protective, still and calm. Lying on the ground in the center and gazing up at the clear, star encrusted sky was just wonderful and I could have easily fallen asleep up there. The local nature/land spirit seemed to take quiet an interest in me also, tempting me to play “chase” with a Pan-esque energy that was quite familiar. For the entirety of the night I was aware of Him wandering around just

Our altar to Hekate, left day and night by the campfire

behind me, just out of sight.

The next morning, despite being late to bed I was still early to rise (just before 9am) although it was plain to see that it’d been a good night even if the morning was a tad rough! But the beautiful Mima was on hand with cuppa and a smile which helped get things moving and the weather was still glorious! After a breakfast of sausage, bacon and egg (more like elevenses because the cooker was a bit slow) we got on with the rest of the day.

The afternoon was filled with laughter and frolics, with the “Covenant of Hekate Autumn/Winter Fashion Shoot” and the formation of Hekate’s Angels! The day continued with a shared picnic lunch (houmous, lavender bread, grapes, figs, sausages, cheese, antipasti, olives and so much more), lots of conversation and more wine. There were some other people who arrived on the Saturday, some who stayed and some who just came for a short

Hekate's Angels!

while. It was still very nice and during the winding down of the picnic, the land spirit (I think the name is Nur? Nor?) took a shine to a bag of apples which no one had touched. So I asked if anyone would mind if I got some food to offer to Hekate and also the apples to leave up by the circle for Him.

Night fell and the magick continued. I went back up to the circle eventually to offer the apples, despite feeling a little apprehensive because of the playful urgency with which the land spirit seemed to want me up there. Despite trying to offer the apples reasonably neatly, He just got stuck in; knocking apples from my hand and them rolling all over the place. I spent some time up there on my own and got a nice feeling overall and that He was very pleased with the apples (and my confrontation of my desire to run away) and I have promised that whenever I return, I will now bring Him apples.

The fire which burned almost continuously for the weekend thanks to the dutiful attendance of those present

Sunday morning, the heavens opened and the view of the previous two days had truly turned autumnal. In fact it was like we’d actually been camping in July and then fallen asleep for three months, only to wake up in the beginning of October cold, wet and gloomy. But it was still nice; fresh and natural. I had a last walk around, went up to the stones again, helped pack up and put the tent away and then it was time to say goodbyes and head on home.

I was fortunate enough to be able to get my copy of Tara’s book signed by her too, so I was made up with that. Icing on the cake! During my time at the campsite, I was drawing a card from my Mythic Oracle deck every morning and I found it mildly amusing that the card Eros~Desire was drawn on each morning; the description of the cards meaning echoing my experiences perfectly…”He represents the almost ethereal and ecstatic state of desire that is evoked within us when we feel a reconnection to nature and divine, to life and death, to eternity and change rather than the fixed and mundane.”

Sentry Circle, Yorkshire

The weekend was a triumph and I miss the place and company already! I’ve met so many lovely, genuine souls; laughed very hard and had some very profound experiences on a personal level. It’s looking to be that this camp will now become an annual event which will be brilliant and can only go from strength to strength!

 

The first sighting of the crescent moon just breaking over the hills

(Photos courtesy of Tara, Kath and Myself)