The veil is thin

I play this every year at Samhain. Wendy Rule is an Australian artist who was most popular in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I’m not sure if she’s still performing much these days, but this is a classic.

As I sit here and reflect on Samhain, the sky is a brilliant azure blue, the sun shines high and clear, and the evenings have just started to cool enough to put a heavier blanket on the bed. The weather on The Pagan Fringe of Western Sydney at the end of April doesn’t exactly scream WINTER to me just yet.

With that in mind, how will you celebrate or mark Samhain? Remember, the veil is thinnest at Samhain and Beltane, so take advantage of that if you’re looking to do some magick.

Here are some other suggestions:

Feast of the Dead: Prepare a Samhain feast with fresh local seasonal produce – look out for kumera/sweet potato, it was a good price last week (18/04) Perhaps make a pot of roasted sweet potato soup? Set at an extra place at your table and provide a portion of your food aside (that you don’t eat) to honour your ancestors. Invite them to dine with you. After the meal, leave the food outdoors and if necessary, thoughtfully dispose of in the morning.

Visit a cemetery: Visit the graves or places of remembrance of your loved ones. Leave flowers or an offering. If you don’t have any relatives close by, visiting a cemetery close to Samhain is still a beautiful and peaceful thing to do. This is probably most relevant for me now. I’m at a stage in my life, where sadly, I have lost more of my family than I have left. But as I was reminded during a memorial service for a friend last week, they’re not gone. They’ve just moved on and are still mostly able to be contacted. That’s what we mean when we refer to the veils being ‘thin’. Reach out now if you need to.

Moon watch: Observe the new moon setting in the west. The dark moon was yesterday, quite fitting on ANZAC Day, so look to the Western sky over the next few days approaching sunset and look for the sliver of the moon as it sets. Watch it from now until Sunday and each day reflect on what Samhain means to you.

This looks like an excellent recipe for roasted sweet potato soup. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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Approaching Winter

It’s funny, the ‘dark half’ of the year in Australia isn’t that dark. Sure, the weather cools (a little), however in Sydney at least, it’s not the harshness of a Northern hemisphere Winter. For me, it’s a time of renewal and rest. Sleep is easier to come by, and cooking doesn’t feel like it’s a chore on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

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Here are a few things I’m looking forward to:

  • marking Samhain this year – last year was raw with another recent death and upheaval in our household. This year will be easier and more fitting to honour my family who have passed.
  • celebrating Yule with my family and friends with a feast.
  • meeting new people at a few of the events we’ve got coming up around the Western Sydney region. There’s a lot happening, and we’re really feeling a renewed sense of energy and interest in what we’re doing. It’s a good feeling and is helping to build a solid little community.

What are you looking forward to this year? What inspires you at this time?

Even if you’re not looking to cook a massive pot of something delicious in the oven, this stove top chai recipe is incredibly satisfying, very tasty and will fill your kitchen with the most delicious scent. Enjoy ūüôā

Chai

Ingredients

  • 2 Teaspoons English breakfast loose tea or x1 teabag
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 3 Cardamom pods
  • 2cm knob of fresh ginger – sliced
  • 2 Cloves
  • 2 Black peppercorns (whole)
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar (or more to taste)
  • 400mls whole fat milk (dairy milk works best as the sugar will help the recipe to reduce down) You can use almond, soy or other non dairy milk, however the recipe will not reduce to a thick consistency. If using non dairy milk, steep the tea and spices separately for 30-45mins and then add the non dairy milk of choice.

Method

Put English tea into a small saucepan.

Break up the cinnamon stick, bruise the 3 cardamom pods and add to the saucepan along with the 2 cloves, ginger, sugar, pepper and bay leaf. Add the milk.

Boil and reduce down to thick syrup, reducing the liquid by half (being careful not to let the milk catch on the bottom of the saucepan). Strain.  If using non dairy milk, you should end up with thick aromatic syrup a similar consistency to condensed milk.

Adapted from this recipe

How do I find a coven?

John_William_Waterhouse_-_Magic_CircleThere’s a lot out there on the internet about how to find a coven. Most of it seems to be quite US centric with the occasional UK resource thrown in. Here’s an Australian version and perhaps one that might be more suited to seekers on The Pagan Fringe of Sydney. ¬†I’ve also used the word coven here, although it’s typically used to refer to a group of witches practising together. The group you’re looking for might not involve witches or witchcraft at all, however it might be anything from ceremonially focussed group doing magick, a general earth centred pagan group marking the seasons, or maybe a discussion group or a study group focussing on a particular topic or genre of research/writing. Not everyone needs a coven, however these are some good tips to start with if you’re considering group work of some kind.

  1. Do some research 
    • Have a rough idea of what you’re looking for, and your reasons why. At the very least have an idea of the style of paganism that you’d like to explore further. Then you can start to ask the right questions of who you’d like to meet. Asking everyone you meet that you want to meet ‘some witches’ is far too vague.
  2. Get out to face to face events
    • You may find a contact point for a coven or group online, however it’ll be in person where you’ll find valuable connections that you can deepen further if it feels right. Attend whatever local groups and meet ups that you can, even if they’re social meet ups. Especially if they are social meetings, you might score yourself an invite to something else if you get to know a few people.
    • Have a look here for more info on what to do if you’ve never attended a pagan event before. Here are some suggested events and ways to find them:
      • The Pagan Fringe¬† – we tend to attract people who don’t attend larger or more public events. We’ve met coven leaders, members, occultists, and seekers in the short time we’ve been hosting events since 2015.
      • Regular public full moon rituals in Seven Hills. There are regular announcements at these circles about other events coming up.
      • Join a Facebook page like Sydney Pagans¬† – it’s a well networked group, particularly in Western Sydney and you might find something relevant to you.
  3. Use your manners and think about your motives
    • Think of it like you’re applying for a job and there is a screening process before you even get to the interview stage. Be polite, demonstrate that you’ve thought about what kind of group you’d like to meet, and have a think about what value you can add. Be upfront and honest.
  4. Understand the time commitment
    • Have a think about how much time you can realistically commit to group or coven work and how that best fits in with the rest of your life. Being a member of a coven is starting a new relationship, with not one, but an entire group of people all at once. It will typically last years and will require regular attendance and contribution. Are you ready for it? Is there space in your life for this? ¬†Conversely, taking on a new student is no small task for a coven or a teacher. It’s a massive time and energy investment, so it needs to appear worthwhile for everyone.
  5. Ask
    • I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard people say ‘when I’m ready, my teacher will appear’ No, no they won’t. Teachers do not go out of their way looking for new students. See my comment above about time and energy commitment. There may be a study group that will advertise their courses and you can join them, however that’s not a coven environment. A teacher (worth learning with) will not *ask* a student to become their student.

As always, keep an open mind and learn to recognise what’s¬†a good and healthy environment or people to get involved with. The following resource is a helpful one when considering working with a new bunch of people.

Best of luck on your journey!

 

Pagan Pub Social

On the suggestion of one of our regular attendees, we thought that we’d start something casual, and on a weekday and see if it gathers much interest. So we’ll just kick it off! Come and join us!

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Pagan Pub Social 

This is a casual social drop in session to meet other pagans in the Western Sydney area – maybe pop in on your way home from work, grab a tasty meal from the bistro and catch up for a chat.

We’ll introduce regular topics and additional dates if this is well attended. Potential to expand and rotate to other locations around Western Sydney pending feedback.

What: The Pagan Fringe hosted social meet up
Where: Hotel Seven Hills
When: Thurs 6th Apr 6-8pm 2017
Who: All welcome
Cost: Free to attend, all meals and drinks at your own expense.
Kid friendly?: yes – there is a play area for 3-10yr olds adjacent to the bistro tables, however given the timing, we don’t expect many children to attend with their parents.

Contact: 0473 467 685 or 0411 525 413

What is ‘The Pagan Fringe?’

 

15541953_602028436670287_645502483116857434_nYou might be wondering – who are The Pagan Fringe? What are you on about? Why the goat skull? Read on!

Who are we? 
We are The Pagan Fringe. We are the pagan folk who live, work and play on the fringe of Sydney. Based in Western Sydney, we find ourselves meeting others in the Lower Blue Mointains, Nepean, Blacktown and Hawkesbury regions and beyond, stretching North, West and South. We’re also fringe-dwellers when it comes to our religious and magical practice. This is an effort to create and in some cases revive old connections of witchy/pagan/magical folk in this region in Sydney, NSW Australia.

When do you meet?
Regularly, once a month or so. In 2017 we’re starting a new regular meet up called “Last Sunday Coffee Collective’ to be held on, you guessed it, the Last Sunday of the month. Sometimes we’ll change this if it clashes with something like Samhain in April.

Like our main page  on Facebook The Pagan Fringe for further updates!

So, why the goat skull?¬†We typically bring a goat skull to our events so we’re easy to find in a restaurant. There’s no mistaking him. We also like the imagery of the goat (related to the goat-foot God Pan) and also associated with hardy survival in tough terrain. Pagans don’t tend to stay pagan for very long without some thick skin in that regard ūüėČ

Who can attend? 
Generally everyone, we run family friendly events too. Most of our events are free to attend, or may have the option for you to purchase your own drinks or meals.

Are you affiliated with any other organised groups? Do I have to ‘join’ you?¬†
No we’re not a part of other groups and no, there’s no requirement to ‘join’ anything other than us for a drink/chat.
We’re primarily a social group, however we may facilitate introductions to covens, teachers, share information about upcoming workshops or host the delivery of learning or training opportunities.

Who will I meet? 
Witches. Occultists. Pagans.
Many of us are experienced practitioners who have spent time teaching, presenting, running groups, events, circles and covens over the last 20yrs. Combined, we have well over 50yrs+ experience practising magic and witchcraft.

More regular events in 2017

We’ve been thinking about how we can structure our events in the new year to make it easier to connect. So, we’re introducing a new monthly catch up over a simple coffee. And it’ll be the last Sunday of every month. Keep it free in your calendar and if you can’t make it one month, won’t be too long until the next scheduled meet up ūüôā

The first one is set for Sunday 29th Jan 1-3pm. Please join us!

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Spring Magick

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This dark moon/new moon this weekend combined with some wild winds over the last few days in addition to the secular alteration of the clocks in New South Wales, has lead to a rather beautiful time to consider some spring cleaning/new beginning sort of magic making.

Sometimes magic isn’t all about the arcane or astrological timings and influences. Sometimes¬†it’s using the pragmatic, the mundane and the everyday markers in time and space to carve out something otherworldly.

This has been a perfect approach for me this Spring season. How is it working out for you?