Review: Blacktown Medieval Fayre

 

What an awesome day! We had a blast visiting this very well run event, completely FREE and 100% sponsored event hosted by Blacktown City Council. I have to say, it’s so incredibly wonderful to see events like this being hosted in Western Sydney with this level of support from the local council. It’s really encouraging and something that I think residents of the area, and those visiting, were really appreciative of.  There were people from our event page who had travelled all the way from Newcastle to attend! That’s impressive!

We caught up with a few folks who met us at the meeting point near St John’s ambulance stand between 10-10:30am and then headed off for a tour around the Fayre itself. What a great event in today’s sensational sunshine!

Something I’ve noticed over the last few meet ups is that we’re meeting some beautiful and genuine folks who are looking to learn and connect with others in an open and authentic way. It’s incredibly inspiring! If you’re wanting to get to know others in the pagan scene in Western Sydney, well I can tell you, you’ve found the right bunch of folks on this end to achieve that!

Stay tuned for future events with a focus on a few of us more experienced practitioners sharing our knowledge in a friendly and accessible way.

See you at our Yule event in June! 😀

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Event review: Samhain 2016

Thanks to everyone who joined us for our first Samhain event! It was in two parts – a drinks and nibbles meet up in the early evening and then the ghost tour following at St Bartholomew’s Church as Prospect.

We started off with dinner in The Piano Room, which incidentally is the most haunted room in the venue! How fitting! When our group got too large for the limited seating in there (there’s only room for 12), we relocated outside to the beautiful beer garden to continue chatting and socialising in the mild Autumn weather.

Following dinner, those who had tickets continued over to meet up at St Bartholomew’s Church at Prospect for the evening’s ghost tour.

It was quite a mixed group with almost 40 participants (including 16 of our own) and the trout as run by a rather eccentric and very passionate volunteer by the name of Hazel. She had many a story to tell (some tall you might say) about the hauntings and apparitions that have been experienced at the location. In addition to the paranormal reportings, Hazel was also full of loads of facts and info about the history of the church and cemetery.

If there’s interest, we may book another private ghost tour later in the year.

Thanks to everyone who came along and made it a great night. We look forward to seeing you at our next event in May!

 

5 awesome things about practicing witchcraft on The Pagan Fringe of Sydney

Here are 5 awesome things about practicing witchcraft on The Pagan Fringe of Sydney.

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  1. A small, but active group of other pagans, witches and occultists to connect with at various events like full moons, meet ups, sabbats and other regular catch ups. And a great diversity of people practicing all different kinds of magick in different ways; from Wiccans to kitchen witches and ceremonial magicians; those meeting in small covens or solitary folks and a real mix of experience too, from people new to their path to those with 25yrs+ experience. You’re bound to meet someone interesting along the way!
  2. Plenty of space to explore the natural world surrounding Sydney – waterfalls, swimming holes, natural bushland and plenty of bush walking tracks to enjoy. There are also heaps of open space parks that are well maintained to picnic in with friends and family. I’ve also found it easier to find great outdoor spaces for ritual, without disturbing other people whilst escaping artificial light and sound of a modern city. And if it’s still too urban for you, it’s quicker and easier to make your escape to the West, North or South of Sydney to explore further afield.
  3. Connections to the land via the food you can eat – it’s easier to visit your local farmers market, or head to the edges of Sydney to pick your own fruit in Autumn. I also enjoy local honey from my area too
  4. Some places are dark enough to see alot more stars at night, especially during the cooler months in the Nepean region. If you head further West over the Blue Mountains you can see even more of the Milky Way during the best viewing season (Feb-Oct to see the galactic core from the Southern Hemisphere). Hint: pick a dark moon night, which is typically one of the three nights leading up to the New Moon.
  5. Plenty of sympathetic events running in the Western Sydney area which attract other pagans or like minded people – medieval fairs, indigenous art festivals, sustainable living and gardening workshops – these kinds of events can also provide a great opportunity for you and your coven to meet up and do things together outside of your usual time together.

I hope you’ve found the following list useful and inspiring!

Things to do in Autumn

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Are you a pagan family looking for things to do in Autumn, in and around Western Sydney? Here is a short list of things to consider:

  • Go fruit picking with your family or coven
    • Check out this list here of places to go within a short drive from Richmond NSW. Teach your kids that fruit doesn’t come from the shops! Most places are free entry and they then charge you per kg for the fruit that you’ve picked. Try apples and chestnuts and bake them up when you get home into delicious Autumn dishes.
  • Pretend you’re in Scotland for a day
  • Or the middle ages
  • Attend an Autumn Harvest Festival
    • Check out Leura Harvest Festival  early in May or get your foodie hat on and explore some of the region’s finest at Rouse Hill farm at the end of May – maybe pack a picnic?
  • Get cooking or baking at home
  • Play in the Autumn leaves
    • Not quite Western Sydney, but a short drive to Leura in the Blue Mountains. Everglades is truly spectacular in Autumn and is easy to access with kids and prams.
    • Spend some time meditating amongst the trees and take in the cool Autumn air.

Hopefully there are some fun ideas here for you and your family. Happy Autumn!

 

Your first pagan event?

Are you new to the pagan scene? Is this your first time venturing out to meet a bunch of pagans, witches and occultists? What should you do? What should you say? Here’s a few ideas that you might find helpful.

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Things to do when you’re attending a pagan event

Arrive on time

  • Find out in advance where you’ll be meeting and how you plan to get there. Allow time for travel and parking if you’re driving, or plan your public transport route well in advance.
  • Arriving on time will allow you to mingle and meet with people before any ritual starts and to listen to the ritual prep in advance. You can then decide if you want to take part.
  • If it’s a social meet up, if you arrive on time, you’ll get to hear everyone’s introduction. That way, you won’t be stumbling in to a bunch of people who all seem to ‘know’ each other even if they’ve only been there 30mins longer than you.
  • If you’ve RSVP’d to an event as “Yes, I’ll be there!’ and find you suddenly cannot attend at the last minute, tell someone so the group isn’t waiting for your arrival before commencement.

Contribute 

  • This might mean contributing your energy and focus during the circle or being generous with your help to tidy up afterwards, being kind and courteous will set you in good stead with the hosts, possibly securing a repeat invitation to future events.
  • Be social! There’s no point turning up to an event only to sit in the corner and not speak to anyone. If you’re shy, make an effort to connect with at least one person who isn’t the host. Why not the host? They’re busy looking out for everyone attending or running the event itself. A good host will attempt to engage with you and try to make you feel as welcome as possible, but it’s a two way exchange.
  • If you need to pay for your own meal or drinks, please do so. Don’t eat, drink and be merry expecting that someone else will pay for you.

Keep an open mind and ask questions

  • Yes, you might be meeting people who believe in weird and wonderful things like energy and magic (hooray!), however there shouldn’t be anything illegal going on. If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, you can leave at any time.
  • Listen to any ritual preparation given in advance. Ask questions when invited, and at other times that may be appropriate. We’re human and we don’t mind an enquiring mind.
  • If the ritual isn’t for you, you can leave quietly and without fuss.
  • If there is a specific dress code, do your best to make an effort to acknowledge it. If you’re not sure what to wear, try for something smart and comfortable. If someone is wearing something that you think is hilarious, outrageous or silly, it’s really not your place to comment on it.

Things you shouldn’t do when attending a pagan event 

I could write a list with a million items on it, however it would do you well to remember your basic manners and respect for other people and their property, especially if you’re visiting someone’s private residence. Open pagan events can be used as a way for a private coven to literally open up and see who is out there in the community or to invite others to join their circle. Not all groups operate this way, however how you conduct yourself in public and in small groups is important if you’d like to be considered for membership of a smaller or more exclusive invite only group in future.

The below is a basic list of what NOT to do…

  • Don’t touch things without permission – if there is an altar set up, do not touch anything on it without being specifically invited to do so.
  • Maintain personal boundaries. A lot of pagans like to hug each other in greeting and they may already know each other, however wait to be invited before you touch anyone or enter into anyone’s personal space.
  • Don’t violate basic rules of civility and respect – don’t laugh during a solemn meditation, don’t be rude to people, don’t take more than your fair share of food & drink at a shared feast etc
  • Don’t bring children without asking in advance. If the event listing doesn’t state that the event is child friendly, please ask before bringing children along. Not all events are family friendly. Others may have organised babysitters to look after their children and your children at an event may be disruptive or unwelcome.

Hopefully the basic list above will help you navigate your way into the pagan scene when meeting other witches, pagans and occultists.

 

What is Samhain?

Are you wondering what Samhain is about, and why we’d want to tour cemeteries and boneyards and hear stories of ghosts of those long departed?

Samhain (pronounced ‘sow-in’) is halfway between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice. It’s a Gaelic festival marking the last of the Harvest festivals and leads a quiet time moving toward Winter.

 

From Wikipedia 

Samhain is believed to have Celtic pagan origins and there is evidence it has been an important date since ancient times. The Mound of the Hostages, a Neolithicpassage tomb at the Hill of Tara, is aligned with the Samhain sunrise.[1] It is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain. It was the time when cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and when livestock were slaughtered for the winter. As at Beltane, special bonfires were lit. These were deemed to have protective and cleansing powers and there were rituals involving them.[2] Like Beltane, Samhain was seen as a liminaltime, when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld could more easily be crossed.

This meant the Aos Sí, the ‘spirits’ or ‘fairies‘, could more easily come into our world. Most scholars see the Aos Sí as remnants of the pagan gods and nature spirits. At Samhain, it was believed that the Aos Sí needed to be propitiated to ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter. Offerings of food and drink were left outside for them. The souls of the dead were also thought to revisit their homes seeking hospitality. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. Mumming and guising were part of the festival, and involved people going door-to-door in costume (or in disguise), often reciting verses in exchange for food. The costumes may have been a way of imitating, and disguising oneself from, the Aos Sí. Divination rituals and games were also a big part of the festival and often involved nuts and apples. In the late 19th century, Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer suggested that it was the “Celtic New Year”, and this view has been repeated by some other scholars.[3]

In the 9th century ADWestern Christianity shifted the date of All Saints’ Day to 1 November, while 2 November later became All Souls’ Day. Over time, Samhain and All Saints’/All Souls’ merged to create the modern Halloween.[4] Historians have used the name ‘Samhain’ to refer to Gaelic ‘Halloween’ customs up until the 19th century.[5]

Since the later 20th century, Celtic neopagans and Wiccans have observed Samhain, or something based on it, as a religious holiday.[6] Neopagans in the Southern Hemisphere often celebrate Samhain at the other end of the year (about 1 May).

The experience of Samhain in Australia is quite different than you might expect in England, Ireland, Wales or Scotland. For many, me included, the days leading up to April 30th are just as poignant, specifically ANZAC Day on 25th April.

So what do we do at this time of year in Australia?

  • We honour our dead, our long departed ancestors and personally, in our family, we also remember all soldiers who have served, who continue to serve and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
  • Personally I attend Dawn Service on ANZAC Day every year.
  • On Samhain, depending on my plans, I attend a ritual circle with friends and we host a ritual and afterwards we feast to remember our dead and prepare for Winter.
  • This year, I will be visiting a local boneyard on the night when the veil is thin.

If you’re setting up an altar to honour the spirit of Samhain, you might want to consider adding a photo of one your ancestors who has passed, and perhaps lighting a candle for them. Leave food and drink out for them as well. This should not be consumed later on, rather offered to the earth the next morning.