The Launch of Conjure

20150411_212731[1]

Saturday 11th April was a busy day for me, but also a very special day. I’d spent the morning and afternoon at the Scottish Pagan Federation Conference and in the evening returned to Dundee to attend the launch party of a dear friend’s business.

My friend Juan launched his business Conjure, along with 2 other businesses (Siobhan Diamond Photography and Jill Sime Make Up Artist) in collaboration with Moonberry Creative Studios.

Over the past several months I have watched him put in a tremendous amount of hard work and effort and the stress such work brings with it, and I can say with confidence that not only did he face the storm but he came out the other side and brought some beauty into this world.

Conjure is not only a business but it’s also a labour of love for Juan, and he expresses his creativity through making handmade esoteric themed accessories, jewellery, apparel & art.

The artist in his studio

The artist in his studio

So I arrived that evening with another good friend and was pleased to see a good turn out for the studio launch for all three businesses. Free wine and champagne and bars of chocolate were given out and there was live music from a fantastically talented group called Sinderins, (formerly Anderson McGinty Webster Ward and Fisher). There was a raffle with a lot of lovely prizes and overall everyone managed to raise over £300 for the renal unit ward at Ninewells Hospital.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/z_ryZ9Ssq6o“>

It was a great night and I felt so proud of Juan for everything he has accomplished. Well done mate! 😀

20150412_141819[1]

20150411_213212[1]

Me being silly

20150411_212906[1]

I will leave you with some photos of his studio and products to drool over 😀 Also see some links below for access to Conjure’s pages.

20150411_212831[1]20150411_212840[1]20150411_212857[1]20150411_213100[1]20150411_212736[1]20150411_212740[1]20150411_212746[1]20150411_212749[1]20150411_212742[1]20150411_213108[1]20150411_213130[1]20150411_213124[1]

Slàinte Mhath!

The Hag x

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/ConjureAccessories

http://www.conjureaccessories.co.uk/

https://twitter.com/conjureuk

http://conjureaccessories.tumblr.com/

https://www.facebook.com/MoonberryCreativeStudios

https://www.facebook.com/SDiamondPhotography

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jill-Sime-Makeup-Artist/208450079177546

https://www.facebook.com/Sinderinsband

Advertisements

The Spaewife

 

“O, I wad like to ken — to the beggar-wife says I—

Why chops are guid to brander and nane sae guid to fry.

An’ siller, that’s sae braw to keep, is brawer still to

gi’e.

— It’s gey an’ easy spierin’, says the beggar-wife to me.

 

O, I wad like to ken — to the beggar-wife says I—

Hoo a’ things come to be whaur we find them when we try,

The lasses in their claes an’ the fishes in the sea.

— It’s gey an’ easy spierin’, says the beggar-wife to me.

 

O, I wad like to ken — to the beggar-wife says I—

Why lads are a’ to sell an’ lasses a’ to buy;

An’ naebody for dacency but barely twa or three

— It’s gey an’ easy spierin’, says the beggar-wife to me.

 

O, I wad like to ken — to the beggar-wife says I—

Gin death’s as shure to men as killin’ is to kye,

Why God has filled the yearth sae fu’ o’ tasty things to

pree.

— It’s gey an’ easy spierin’, says the beggar-wife to me.

 

O, I wad like to ken — to the beggar wife says I—

The reason o’ the cause an’ the wherefore o’ the why,

Wi’ mony anither riddle brings the tear into my e’e.

— It’s gey an’ easy spierin’, says the beggar-wife to me.

 

– The Spaewife, Robert Louis Stevenson

 

*It’s gey an’ easy spierin’ – meaning it’s an easy question to ask.

 

The Spae-wife of the Clachen

The Spae-wife of the Clachen.
A group of distressed people gathering before the hut of an old woman, sitting at the door at right with black cat at her feet and a horseshoe hanging over the entrance, through which a male figure is seen in the shadows; cutting from the ‘Illustrated London News’, 7 June 1851, p.542, with part of an illustration of the inauguration of monument to Frederick the Great on the verso. 1851 Wood-engraving
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Spae (from Merriam-Webster online) – chiefly Scottish, meaning foretell. Origin Middle English span, from Old Norse spā; akin to Old High German spehōn to watch, spy.

From Dictionary.com: verb (used with object), spaed, spae·ing. Chiefly Scot.

to prophesy; foretell; predict.

 Middle English span, from Old Norse spā; akin to Old High German spehōn to watch, spy.

A spaewife is a female prophetess, a seer, a diviner, one who sees. In Norse shamanism she was called a  spákona or spækona – a seeress, and stories of such women are found throughout Norse mythology. The völva’s (Norse shamanic seeress) practice involved spá and in an account called Völuspá (Prophecy of the Völva) the first poem of the Poetic Edda, Odin, the father of the gods consulted a völva to find out what was in store for all the gods. 

It must be made clear that in Scottish belief, a spaewife was vastly different to a witch. In the early modern period in Britain, witches were seen as practitioners of maleficium.

” In early modern Britain the term ‘witch’ generally denoted an individual who was seen by others, or perceived by themselves, as being able to employ magical powers to do harm. The type of harmful magic most feared by contemporary villagers was ‘maleficium’. Maleficium was witchcraft at it’s most basic – the manipulation of occult forces at a distance with malevolent intent.”

Emma Wilby, “Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic”, p42, Sussex Academic Press.

 

Villagers would visit a cunning man or woman, or a spaewife for healing, to foretell the future or to counteract the harmful effects of a witch’s spell.  Walter Traill Dennison, a 19th century folklorist and Orkney native wrote of the folk tales of Orkney and the role of the spaewife there. The spaewife was said to possess:

 

“..all the supernatural wisdom, some of the supernatural power, without any of the malevolent spirit of witches.”

He goes on:

“The women of this class were skilled in medicinal and surgery, in dreams, in foresight and second-sight, and in forestalling the evil influence of witchcraft. Such women were looked upon with a kind of holy respect.”

I wrote a blog a little while back about Grissel Jaffray, a woman burned in Dundee as a witch. I’ve updated the photos as the one I used to show her plaque wasn’t clear to read. One thing I had never noticed about the plaque before is that Grissel is noted as being a spaewife, not a witch. Perhaps she could see things others could not and was sadly burned for it.

IMG_1945

I’ve noticed the term spaewife hasn’t been completely disregarded in modern usage, there are those among the pagan and magickal communities claiming the title for themselves. It will be interesting to see if the definition changes over time, and if it will become another branch of the tree in terms of a separate practice. I would be interested in hearing from people who practice spae, so drop me a line if you do 🙂

Mar sin leat an-dràsta! 

 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep…

Image

 

“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:

 

Image

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.

 

Image

 

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.

Image

Templeton Woods, March 2014.

 

Slàinte mhòr agus a h-uile beannachd duibh!

(Great health and every good blessing to you!)

 

 

 

 

 

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

IMG_1947

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

IMG_1945

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.

 

Image

 

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.

 

Image

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-dràsta!

20140320-113912.jpg

20140320-113931.jpg