Beltane in Lockdown

2020 is certainly the weirdest Beltane I have experienced in forty years, and I expect it is for everyone else too. I have to say that living in lockdown and self-isolating in a tiny village in East Devon with a garden and plenty of deserted rural footpaths has not caused me much hardship. We are all looking out for each other here; kindly neighbours shopping for those of us who can’t do the six mile journey to the nearest shop, and all us borrowing, lending and swapping whatever is needed. Compared to fellow witches and pagans in cities with no access to outdoor space, I feel very privileged. Nature is recovering from human abuse, for a while at least. How clean the air feels, how quiet it is without traffic and aircraft. At dusk bats flit over the stream and the otters seem bolder than usual. I am woken every morning by the dawn chorus.  All in all, I have been feeling very lucky.

Then at Beltane, it really did hit me. For those of us down here in the West, in the bottom left hand corner, Beltane, or May Day as most of us still prefer to call it in our old-fashioned way, is probably the biggest day of the year. It’s the day when almost everyone in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset turns pagan for the day, when people go out in the streets to dance and sing and a kind of wild, infectious collective joy takes over. During the day, we are likely to be found joining in with one of the Obby Oss or maypole customs, or some other form of dancing and carousing. Then as the sun sets, the fires are lit in gardens and woods and moors, and on hilltops and we make our circles and celebrate the marriage of goddess and god. All of it is wild, erotic and glorious and its our day and everyone knows it. You know how it works. We are a necessary part of the process. We are part of it, not separate. The gods need us to celebrate their rites and we must dance and sing and bring in the May. That is how it works. That is what we are for. Not this year. We are not allowed out; not together at least.

Teaser and Oss, Padstow, Cornwall 2009

In a magical reverie, my mind ranges back over many May Days. Of that wild, unstoppable burst of energy when the Red Oss bursts out of the stable in the Red Lion for the first time and longing and joy rush together and the press of the crowd and the thump of the drums knock the breath from the body.  Of bathing the face in cold dew at sunrise. Of hedgerows weighed down with hawthorn blossom like snow. Of the endless miles of bluebell woods on the journey through North Cornwall. Of sitting there, truly entranced, amongst uncountable millions of bluebells. Is it their colour or their smell that brings hallucinations? Both, and visions of faerie. Of the cold, damp night on the hilltop when mist came up from the woods below and sent us spinning into the spirit world. Of a baby, now a beautiful young woman, conceived with the aid of magic when her mother brushed the skirts of the Oss. Of dancing in the shallows of the icy sea. Of the west rose window at Exeter Cathedral, a flaming ruby pentagram lit by the setting sun. Of the pungent tang of wild garlic. Of a young roebuck who ran right across our path. Of a policeman dancing, wreathed in primroses and bluebells.  Of a slow journey home that felt like a royal progress through woodlands and fields where the unfurling leaves and the blossom seemed to be just for us. Of voting in an election where everything changed and everything stayed the same. Of a song that can only be sung on that day and in that place. Unite and unite and let us all unite. Of those gone before who are always there with us and those yet to be born.  Of cold, clear well water. Of the great Oss dying and the crowd weeping; a real death and a terrible mourning then a mad leap back into life and joy. It seemed like hours but was only seconds and time had stopped working anyway. Of drumbeats and heartbeats and the spaces between them. Of leaping the fire and turning to see a big brock badger keeping watch in the west: bless you Tanglefoot. Of garlands thrown onto the sea. Of the sun setting behind us at Wistman’s Wood.  Of a handfasting at first light on the cliffs, surrounded by unseen spirit hosts. Of the brimming excitement of a day that feels like high tide all the time.

Hail The Queen of the May!

This year the streets of Padstow and Minehead and Helston are silent. The Obby Osses will not leap forth amongst us and dance. The Flora Day procession will not weave its stately way through the town. Our towns will not be garlanded with branches from the greenwoods, but we must still bring in the May, together alone. Its up to us. So with all the unseen hosts of those who have danced before you and will dance after you around you, get up and dance, and bring in the May. We are with you. We are all with you and you are all with us. Its time to dance together in spirit as we always have and always will.

Friends that in the Circle stand

Heart to heart and hand to hand

Bringing Beltane to the land

Let the Sleeper Wake!

Levannah Morgan

May Day 2020

‘Unite and unite, and let us all unite. For summer is a-comin’ today. And whither we are going we all will unite. In the merry morning of May’

Keeping us connected with the magic- even during lockdown…

Deep Magic online courses are now available! Imagination and Wellbeing provides simple, powerful and accessible techniques to cultivate wellness. This course is available for free. Also out now is the Core Magical Skills course which leads you through all the key areas of magical practice. To find out about future courses and pre-register please click here.

Meanwhile…to help keep our magical spirits up Julian has been inviting various esoteric, pagan and psychedelic folks to share some of their favourite magical things. Please like, share and subscribe!

Today’s release; behold the remarkable magical thing of Lon Milo DuQuette! Enjoy!

Our Magical Things

Objects can be the anchors for our stories. Museums and gallery spaces are full of such objects which, depending on the skill of their curators, are intended to help enrich us by discovering new narratives about the world. By engaging with objects and their stories, from the past and present, we are able to set our own ideas and practices within a broader context.

Given the fact that visiting physical museums is off the cards for the moment, I was musing on how I could continue my practice of teaching and learning with objects, and hit upon a new way of blending my professional work with my occult practice. Simply put; I thought it would be fun to get in touch with some of my magical friends and ask them to share some of their favourite things on film. I’ve had many enthusiastic responses to my initial request, with one of the unexpected benefits of this process being that contemporary practitioners are sharing not only the story of their magical thing, but also deeper aspects of their practice. Think of this as a real-time archive of esoteric practice, a window into the attitude and approach of a variety of spiritual, entheogenic and esoteric folk.

My first guest, on ‘My Magical Thing’ is Dave Lee. Well known as a chaos magician it was fascinating to see Dave’s magical thing demonstrating the fact that he, in common with many practitioners of post-modern sorcery, had a solid grounding as a young occultist in the ‘classic’ (i.e. late 19th to early 20th century) practices and imagery of the Western occult tradition.

Magician and author Jake Stratton-Kent shows us a personal object of power, setting the tone for some of the films to come. With Jake we are not getting the grand tour of elaborate ceremonial occult bling, but instead an insight into what we might call ‘everyday magical things’. Objects that point to a key process in esoteric practice; the re-enchantment of the world, where there is no longer a simplistic divide between the sacred and the secular.

Next up, Tommie Kelly shows us a magical thing he created, a hypersigil which, initially, he thought had been a complete failure. Another essential teaching in magic this one; things that initially look like ‘failure’ may actually, when considered at as part of a bigger picture, be exactly what the magician wanted, or more likely, needed.

My dear friend Monika is a magical mermaid, who has translated a number of my writings into Polish. We know each other through our ceremonial practice. She presents a great teaching here, embedded in a powerful and moving artwork.

Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone, two of the leading figures in the Wiccan community, have also contributed. Their magical things demonstrate the diversity of contemporary magical practices. They share with us a great story of receiving, and of giving in return, magical objects across cultures.

More stories from Alkistis Dimech, Amy Hall, Liz Williams, David Rankin and many more will be released over the next few weeks. As they say in the trade, please like, share and subscribe to my channel!

In more online news; since autumn of last year I’ve been developing resources to support exploring magical practices. Two courses are now available on the Deep-Magic.teachable.com site with more to be released soon.

Imagination and Wellbeing is a free course, designed to be accessible even if you’re not a card-carrying occultist. The course presents a collection of simple practices that require few, if any, props and which are suitable for use indoors. They include easy ways to use imagination and the body to find our centre, address stress, anxiety and depression, and to actively cultivate our capacity for curiosity, resilience and happiness.

Also available now is my course in Core Magical Skills which presents practical ways to engage with, or renew, your esoteric practice across the areas of meditation, bodywork, centering and banishing rituals, and spirit work. This course does what it says on the tin and, especially for those new to magic, aims to provide a solid grounding in the essential elements of practical magical work.

Do please sign up to my mailing list if you want news of future courses and special pricing offers, as they are made available.

I hope you’ll find these new resources useful, engaging, inspirational and fun.

Wishing you all well in this challenging time, and much success in your Great Work.

Stay Well, Stay High!

Julian

P.S. Treadwell’s Bookshop is also now providing some amazing online services and content. For more details please visit their website.