The woods are lovely, dark and deep…

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“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.”

– Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, 1818

 

The sleepy Earth is awakening, and with it grows my need to get out into the green land. Dundee may be the fourth largest city in Scotland but luckily there are no shortage of green spaces here, there are plenty of woodlands and parks to access.

My witchy friend J and I wandered through Templeton Woods to draw in that green energy. Upon our arrival there we were greeted by a red squirrel at one of the feeders, but he disappeared before I could get a photo of him. We had both visited these woods a year before and what a difference! It was snowing last Spring Equinox:

 

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Templeton Woods, Spring Equinox 2013

It felt good to be outdoors, our feet treading the well worn paths through the woods, breathing in the crisp air and taking in the glorious sight of acres of giant trees sighing in the wind. And how does one describe the perfume of a woodland, except to say it smells like green and gold?

What do witches talk about in the woods? Well, witchcraft 😉 We discussed different ways to hedgecross and the shamanic version of journeying by using an opening in the earth, when we came across an uprooted birch tree – a perfect example of an opening in the earth for shamanic journeying/travelling.

 

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We talked about hoodoo and flying ointments (I hope to buy one of Sarah’s mandrake ointments in the near future – http://blackartsfoundry.com/ ) and workings each of us were considering doing in the near future. Sometimes a walk in the woods and a good witchy chat is all one needs to feel revitalised again.

As we walked deeper into the woods, the energy began to feel more untamed and less human. I remembered my manners and said a silent prayer to the spirit of the land to tell it we meant no harm.

The woodland floor was covered in a blanket of dead leaves and the skeletal bones of old trees. I was hoping to find the perfect branch for making a stang, but sadly I didn’t bring any cutting tools. I did find a mini stang which had a curious little face on it, but the branch had been weathered down and picked hollow by insects and I want a branch with a bit of life left in it.

On our way back to the car a deer jumped in front of our path and darted off in the dark heart of the woods. I only glimpsed it briefly, J got a better view and was enthralled.

The sun was setting and we continued our chat on the drive to get food at the witchiest of places… McDonalds lol. Then a stop at mine for tea and cream cakes and nostalgic chat about the most successful and absurd spells we cast in our youth. Some of them totally cringe worthy and ridiculous, I was definitely more than a bit fluffy back in the day. But hey we all start somewhere, no judgey 😉

I will be back in the woods as much as I can be, working with the genius loci and looking for my stang and just breathing in as much green and gold as possible.

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Templeton Woods, March 2014.

 

Slàinte mhòr agus a h-uile beannachd duibh!

(Great health and every good blessing to you!)

 

 

 

 

 

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Grissel Jaffray – The Dundee Witch

Grissel Jaffray was the last so called “witch” to burn in Dundee. Not a huge amount is known about the charges brought against her as documents relating to her trial were mysteriously destroyed.

She was a respectable citizen of Dundee, married to a burgess and later was accused of the crime of practising witchcraft.

Adapted from the book Haunted Dundee by A.H. Miller:

One memorable case in which the Magistrates of Dundee imposed the extreme penalty of the law, with all the barbarity prescribed by the statutes was the martyrdom of Grissel Jaffray in the Seagate of Dundee in November 1669.

On 11th November, 1669, the Privy Council, having been informed that Grissel Jaffray was then a prisoner in the Tolbooth of Dundee, at the corner of High Street and Overgate, accused of ” The horrid crime of witchcraft,” issued an order for her trial.

The remit to the ministers and Dundee Town Council ordained that “If by her own confession, without any sort of torture or other indirect means used, it shall be found she hath renounced her baptism, entered into paction with the devil, or otherwise that malefices be legally proven against her, that then and no otherwise they cause the sentence of death to he executed upon her.”

 

For whatever reason, she was found guilty, and then executed by strangulation and her body burnt thereafter.

Local folklore states that her son was a sailor, and he arrived back in Dundee on the day of his mother’s execution. It’s said when he realised his mother’s body was on the funeral pyre, he jumped back into the ship and sailed away never to return to his home town.

Three men were responsible for her death and they all happened to be leading ministers in the Dundee Presbytery at the time –  Harry Scrymsour of St Mary’s, John Guthrie of South Church and William Rait of St Paul’s.  There is a suggestion that her death was brought on for religious reasons.

From website http://www.ninetradesofdundee.co.uk/:

“In the 1663 Register of Deeds there is reference to a Grissell Jaffrey whose husband was Thomas Boutchard, a merchant in Dundee.
In the same year another reference is made to a Bessie Lyn, relict of James, mariner in Dundee and spouse of Thomas Butchart, merchant in Dundee.
There is also a reference to James Butchard, a maltman in Dundee. There were quite a number of Jaffreys’ in Aberdeen at that time who were prominent Quakers at a time of great religious upheaval. One of them was a
member of the ‘board’ who gave Charles I a hard time in Breda. Bear in mind that one of the Jaffray’s from Aberdeen, which is where we think she originated, went to Breda before the Restoration to negotiate with Charles II. They laid down such conditions that, although Charles was forced to agree them, there was no chance that he could ever keep them, and indeed had no intention of keeping them.
He never forgave those who gave him such a hard time. The Jaffrays’ were Quakers and Charles II persecuted Quakers for many years. They were also a wealthy merchant family, as were the Butchards’. There is a suggestion that
her death may have been a put up job for religious reasons and it is very likely that her burning took the form of something more like a religous assassination”

 

Traditions state that Grissel Jaffray was burned in the Seagate, almost opposite Horse Water Wynd where the first Cross of Dundee stood. There is a flame mosiac at the top of Peter Street and a blue plaque erected in her memory there.

 

mosiac at Peter Street

mosiac at Peter Street

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Flame mosiac, Peter Street, Dundee. In memorial to Grissel Jaffray.

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Grissel Jaffray’s blue plaque in Peter Street as part of Dundee Women’s Trail. She is honoured here as a spaewife.

 

 

 

She has also been immortalised in a work of fiction, The Curewife by Claire-Marie Watson.

 

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There is a certain stone marker in Dundee’s Howff Cemetery which may or may not be linked to Grissel. Howff is an old Scots word for meeting place. In 1564 Mary, Queen of Scots granted the land to the burgh of Dundee for use as a burial ground. It became a meeting place for those in the nine incorporated trades of Dundee and the last burial took place in 1857.  There is a stone in The Howff known locally as The Witches’ Stone and people today believe it is a marker for Grissel or some other unknown accused witch before her. People today visit that stone and leave offerings, usually such things as coins, buttons, bits of cloth and shells, perhaps in offering for her aid.

I visited the stone last year with some friends and laid down a few coins as an offering in her memory. I didn’t feel the need to ask for her aid, and thought it would be rude to do so on the first visit anyway. I just thought of her and all that she suffered, and wished her some peace. I’m glad the people of Dundee haven’t forgotten her.

 

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The Witches’ Stone with coins and a shell

 

 

It’s Spring! (I think)

Happy Spring Equinox/Ostara! 🙂

Hope you all have a great day whatever you choose to do.

I have a busy evening ahead of me. firstly I’ll be taking part in a march in the city centre against sexual violence towards women. This is to help raise awareness and I feel this is an important issue to educate others about.

Then I will be meeting with the coven to celebrate Ostara, which will be eggcellent (sorry! Lol) It’s a bit of a wet and windy day today so it doesn’t feel like Spring just yet, but there are flowers in bloom which are always a pleasure to see – I’m looking forward to warmer days though!

Over the coming week I plan to write more about Dundee – it’s folklore, history and magic. I would love to hear more from anyone reading my blog, so feel free to leave a comment and tell me a bit about yourself 🙂

Mar sin leat an-drĂ sta!

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Witches & Wine

I’ve been somewhat of a hermit this past winter. I just wasn’t feeling the season at all, and as for socialising I just didn’t have the energy to do much of it.  I can be a solitary creature at times, I have my moments where I just need stillness and quiet and time to reflect.  I enjoyed my time in my hermitage though, mostly curled up watching TV shows or reading books and practising my craft inside where it’s warm.

But now I can feel spring in the air I want nothing more than to go outside and go on adventures, or to gather my friends close to me for laughter and good times. I’m tired of practising my witchery indoors, give me woodland and stone and sky and hills.

On Wednesday, I wore black. I cleansed the room with florida water and a burning palo santo stick, I burned incense to my ancestors and the atmospheric music of Wardruna played in the background.

That night some of my friends and fellow witches gathered in my home for an evening of getting creatively crafty, wine drinking, much needed laughter and divination. I’d arranged this night because my inner witch was needing some fun, after such a long winter. I think they needed it too.

We made our spell candles with rolled up beeswax, herbs and runes, and I tried a little embroidery and made a charm bag. I definitely need to work on my embroidery skills! I loved making my own candles, charging them with my intent so that they are ready to use at a moment’s notice.  I would like to try making candles from scratch too, especially 7 day jar candles.

L brought a delicious Chilean merlot for us to drink, and usually I can only drink sweet wines but this one was just beautiful. More wine please! *hic*

Some folk say you should only practice divination with a clear head and not under the influence of alcohol. I disagree. I’ve done some of my best tarot readings when I was a little tipsy. I don’t think being tipsy is necessary and I wouldn’t crack open a bottle whenever I wanted to read either. But I feel it can open the door a little bit wider. Alcohol lowers inhibitions, and sometimes our inhibitions talk away to us during readings causing us to doubt and second guess what we see. Please note I am not condoning alcohol use, use your own judgement in all things.

L also brought one of her oracle decks, and I pulled out the card “detatchment”. I think that card was speaking about my winter, my detachment from all things. A little dose of detachment can be healthy though, it never serves to become too invested in something. I walk a fine line when it comes to detachment and I’m still trying to find my balance.

I don’t need an oracle deck to predict that I will be having more witchy evenings like this in future 😉

Mar sin leibh an-dràsta!

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On the Other Side of Pink

Hoodoo & Conjure Magazine

Hoodoo and Conjure New Orleans 2014 Hoodoo and Conjure New Orleans 2014. Photograph Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Holmes , all rights reserved worldwide.

Only in New Orleans are the Dead given a city in which to reside. Because New Orleans is built on swampland, the Dead cannot be buried in the ground lest they re-surface and float away. Consequently, all but the poor and indigent are laid to rest above ground in elaborate crypts, wall ovens and mausoleums. The decorative ironwork and sculptures adorn the plots, making the cemeteries resemble little cities; hence the nickname, “Cities of the Dead.” The cemeteries in New Orleans attract a lot of visitors each year because of their unique, historic character.

St. Louis Cemetery #1 is the most famous City of the Dead. It is the oldest New Orleans cemetery, constructed to replace the older St. Peter Cemetery as the main burial ground when the city was rebuilt after the Great…

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Hello from the Hag

My name is Pamela. I’m currently 28 years old, a Gemini and I hail from Dundee in Scotland ( DĂšn DĂŠ in Scots Gaelic, dun meaning fort and dè, meaning ‘fire’).

I am a writer and a book collecting fiend. A good friend of mine jokes that I spend most of my money on books before I’ve even stocked up the kitchen with food each month. Ahem. I’ve written a few articles for a couple of pagan magazines such as Pagan Dawn and Witchcraft & Wicca.   I’ve had an essay published, titled “CLIODHNA: FAERIE QUEEN AND POTENT BANSHEE” in The Faerie Queens published by Avalonia.  Here – http://avaloniabooks.co.uk/catalogue/celtic_myth/the-faerie-queens/

I’ve recently submitted an essay about the goddess Nicniven which should be published later this year in an anthology called “Naming The Goddess” by Moon Books.

https://www.facebook.com/NamingTheGoddess

I can speak, read and write Scottish Gaelic. I’m not fluent in it yet, but I plan to learn more. I find it really fascinating and beautiful, and would like to practice my rituals using the gaelic language in future.

I’ve been a practising witch since I was 14, mostly following a solitary Wiccan path with friends. Then I joined a local coven a few years ago and have since been initiated in a Gardnerian lineage. I prefer to call myself a Witch rather than Wiccan.

When I’m not in coven I lean more to an animistic type practice. I work with my ancestors a lot, and familiar spirits. I work with Gods too, mostly Hekate, The Cailleach, Herne, and Nicnevin. Yup, I mix pantheons too and you know what? It works for me, I don’t find cultural barriers to be a problem when speaking to deity and I’m not a purist. I will use whatever works and whatever has meaning for me, and I approach my practice with reverence and respect.

I’ve also been learning more about hoodoo practice. Got an amazing Road Opener oil from London Conjure, it smells amazing and works really well and really fast. Check them out http://londonconjure.com/

I love learning new creative crafts, I’ve recently made beeswax candles and I’m trying to learn how to knit. Next step will be pyrography and maybe crochet.

I love witchy and spiritual fiction as well. Currently hooked on books by Paulo Coelho. His words are sensual and soothing, reading his books is like eating your favourite ice cream on a hot day. His words feed my soul. Read his work and you’ll see what I mean 😀

That’s all for now,

If you stop by my blog, feel free to say hi 🙂

Mar sin leibh an-dràsta!

Pamela (The Hag)