Welcome to the page of the Chattering Magpie, Summoner of the Hearth of the Turning Wheel. The Hearth of the Turning Wheel is an independent and progressive Pagan group based in the English Midlands. Our praxis and ethos are inspired by but not necessarily limited to, the traditional custom and belief found within British and European Folklore. To contact Chattering Magpie and the HTW please email firstname.lastname@example.org
many of us, the latter part of March has been characterised by a general build
up towards the Vernal Equinox. This for us in the Hearth of the Turning Wheel,
began even before our moot on Thursday 16th,
held in an excellent public house in Derby called the Exeter Arms.
Our moots are not open to the public, invitations are automatic
for those who are members of the Inner Court, the Outer Court and Friends of
the Hearth of the Turning Wheel. Other invitations are made in person,
privately via Facebook or via email The FotHTW is our Facebook presence, our
public manifestation representing our actual working group.
The Exeter Arms lies on the edge of the city centre, on the east
side of the river and close to one of the main roads that enter Derby itself.
It is on the outside an unassuming, modest building in a rather sadly neglected
part of the city. Not that Derby is a ‘real’ city, more an overlarge market
town that lacks a market of note.
Inside the building we discover that the Exeter Arms is a hidden
gem. A rather basic set up; bare floors and wooden tables, with decorations of
a rather traditional theme, all merge to create a ‘country pub’ atmosphere. The
pub is out of place, it doesn’t belong here but in the Peak District, nestled
in a village catering for tourists and locals. The use of the word catering is
deliberate, the pub has won numerous awards for its atmosphere and its quality
food. The Exeter Arms is a real ale pub, serving fine beers and ciders to those
of a more discerning palate. The staff are efficient and extraordinarily
somewhat crowded for a Thursday I walked to the back of the pub, to a room
known as the cottage and found friends already waiting for me. Soon more
arrived and we soon realised we had a surprisingly good turnout for what is a
private, invitation only moot. It should be noted that any number above six is
considered satisfactory when a moot is invitation only and not advertised
publicly, one does not expect a packed house. We are deliberately select and
make no apologies for it.
were honoured to welcome to our merry gathering two guests from Staffordshire,
journeying a not inconsiderable distance to join us for dinner. Since these
guests were knowledgeable traditionalists and practitioners of the Cornish
Witchcraft Tradition, the talk naturally drifted towards the matter of circles,
the compass, totems and eventually books.
discussion was perhaps rather more detailed than usual and stimulated interest
across the table as the question of different approaches was touched upon. My
own praxis that has influenced the HTW, shares two totems with the Cornish
Tradition, the hare and the crow. My other influences as should be obvious,
I first encountered the use of the term Compass, I wrongly assumed that it was
an alternative name for a circle. It is not. Whereas a cycle can both contain
power and keep the unwanted out, a compass has a very different methodology.
There is no barrier as the map stretches to the horizon, above and below. The
Compass does not necessarily prevent admittance but rather enable the land to
remain intrinsic to the working area.
half of those present had more than a passing interest in herbalism, it wasn’t
long before that subject became the focus. This came the Defender of the Hearth
an opportunity to one of his favourite stories, about the time I (mildly)
poisoned myself when I was away camping with him on pilgrimage. I will not tell
that story here, I will not spoil his tale for future moots. It is far more
humorous when he tells it.
had as usual taken a few books with me for attendees to examine and discuss, specifically
three small volumes published by Troy of Cornwall. I was able to share with
those present details of my own most recent purchases, the complete works of
Shakespeare and a vintage copy of the Mabinogion. This particular volume was
printed in 1910 and is a charming pocket book, in exceptionally good condition.
was a late night, the food, the drink and the company made the time fly past
and closing time came far too quickly. As we said goodbye to our guests and one
member of the Inner Court about to move to Alba, we could reflect deeply on the
meaning of friendship. The joy of company and companies of worth, bonds of
faith and virtue. I am already anticipating excitedly our April moot.
weekend I should have been attending the Original Re-enactors Market (TORM)
near Coventry. Unfortunately the friend I should have been travelling with and
our designated driver, was called into work to cover sickness and our plans
were cancelled. I
very much enjoy my infrequent trips to such markets and fairs, one is able to
view, handle and purchase many replica items, often of museum standard in accuracy.
I particularly enjoy the weaponry, the jewellery and the many handcrafted
items. Often the stall holders are in costume, indeed it is the norm.
buy an athame with a cheap resin handle, when you can buy a bollock dagger or
an antler handled seax? At many re-enactment fairs and markets, the goods are
simply of better quality and of greater authenticity than most outlets
had prior to the weekend, arranged to collect mead from one of the stall
holders and now, finding myself unable to travel. I was beginning the
embarrassing email to cancel the order. Fortunately I received a telephone call
from Carol who with her husband, had arrived at the market. Carol very kindly
offered to collect my half dozen bottles and would bring them with her to the
next moot. Every cloud does indeed have a silver lining.
weekend was as expected busy, I was preparing myself and the house for
visitors. We in the Hearth of the Turning Wheel do have our own rather
idiosyncratic interpretation of the significance of the Equinox. This is
reflected in my discussion pertaining the significance of the triadic grouping
of Robin Hood, Little John and Guy of Gisbourne in my monograph ‘Pagan
symbolism within the Sherwood Legends’ and the link is below.
important element within our own approach is seeing the time of balance and
shifted balance, as being specifically that point of symbolic change between
the Kings. In many groups the Solstices are regarded as being the points of
change but our approach is quite distinct. To us it seems anomalous that the
Holly King should reign at Summer Solstice when the light is still dominant
although diminishing. Equally anomalous is the concept that the Oak King should
reign at the Yuletide, when darkness is strong and the tree itself is asleep.
Solstices are symbolically times of ‘birth,’ as either the Holly King or Oak
King begin their respective journeys. The Solstices are also the times when one
or other King reigns at his peak. It is the Equinoxal points that see the shift
from light to dark or dark to light, so for us the Equinoxes are when the crown
met for our Vernal Equinox observance on the Eve of the Equinox. Partly a
deliberate choice to emphasise the significance of the coming dawn, partly a
recognition that childcare and family commitments have to be allowed for today.
to the meeting I had purchased a dozen chocolate eggs and I had taped to the
outside, verses chosen randomly from the Anglo Saxon Rune Poem. The link to
this poem on another blog post, can once again be found below. The verses or
stanzas are attached to the eggs with the wording hidden, this creates our own
version of a fortune cookie. These were placed in a bowl on the altar and
horseshoes were used to mark the cardinal points. I give the basic text of our
ritual below, a very simple rite which I hope readers will find of value.
Rite if the Vernal Equinox 2017
This ritual is based upon the Ostara Meeting of 2012 written by
the Chattering Magpie and is in turn adapted from the Hearth of the Turning
Wheel Alban Eilir Ritual of 2007, that was originally written by K. Clegg.
gather in a circle and one person says:
“Hail, Guardian Spirits of this place,
We ask for your blessings on this our rite.
We come here to celebrate the Spring Equinox.
We ask, in peace and with respect,
That you might accept our presence.”
Group gather in a circle and placing their hands upon the
Hearthsword, the Druid Oath is intoned three times:
“We swear, by
peace and love to stand
Heart to heart
and hand in hand
Mark, O Spirit
and hear us now
this, our sacred vow.”
Male: “Beloved Bloodmother of this our clan. Welcome us at this time, with your heart and womb. Let us learn to live in love with all you are and so our seeking
spirit shall serve the Sacred Wood.”
Female: “Beloved Father, speak to us in vision
and do not abandon us to the grave. Nor hand us over to Hard Fate utterly, nor
those whom our love protects.”
All in unison: “We call thee, we call thee, we call thee. By
flesh, blood and bone we call thee.”
a suitable oil and using wand, athame or hand bless and say: “I do consecrate
and bless this oil, to drive out all impurities and make fit for use in this
Each person will anoint the person to their left with this sign (the rune Sigel) while saying:
“You have walked this path in spirit (and) now (you)
do so in flesh.” The words in brackets are optional.
the incense, using wand, athame or hand bless and say: “I do consecrate and
bless thee O' elements of air and fire, to drive out all impurities and make
thee fit for use in this our rite.”
three pinches of salt into the water, using wand, athame or hand bless and say:
“I do consecrate and bless thee O' elements of water and earth, to drive out all
impurities and make thee fit for use in this our rite.”
Pick up the incense and say: “I scent
this circle with air and warm this circle with fire. This I do in the name and
power of our God the Lord of the Greenwood.”
The compass points are scented, north, south, east and then west
Pick up the bowl of salt-water and
say: “With water and salt the symbol of our labour. I cleanse and bless this
place in the name and power of our Goddess the Lady of the Light.”
Sprinkle a little salt-water at each
compass point, north, south, east and then west.
Time for talking stick and the insertion of suitable prayers.
One individual reads (Adapted from
Duff G. (2002) The wheel of the Wiccan year. Rider.):
“Ostara is new light, soft sweet air, the running hare and spring
The bursting of buds and the straight following of new paths.
May the spirits of the air guide our thoughts when we set out on
May the spirits of the Sun and fire give us vitality and passion
to make new ventures successful.
May the spirits of water help us to tread new paths with balanced
May the spirits of the earth give us physical balance so we may
draw life and health from the strengthening Sun.
May the Gods watch over us this Springtime and may we continually remember
to give thanks to them for this new season.”
All present take an egg from the bowl or bag. The attached mottoes
may then be read.
To bless the chalice and the meal together and at the same time,
lift the plate or dish of food with the left hand and lift the wine with the
right hand, high above the altar and read 'Sigdrifa’s Prayer' from Sigdrifasmal:
sons of day!
night and her daughter now!
on us here with loving eyes,
waiting we victory win.
to the Gods!
all the generous earth!
to us wisdom and goodly speech,
healing hands, life-long.”
The meal is passed to the left with
the words: “May you never hunger.”
The person receiving the meal will take some of that offered and pass the
remainder to their left with the same words.
The cup is passed to the left with the
words: “May you never thirst.” The
person receiving the cup will drink and pass the cup to their left with the
After a pause all in unison say: “By the fire of dreams and the
compulsion of sorcery. By knowledge, daring will and silence. By the tides of
Earth, Sea and Sky. May all beings and powers of the visible and invisible
depart in peace. By flesh, blood and bone we do thank thee.”
One solitary voice: “This rite is now ended, may all depart in
peace, with our blessings.”
The stanza I found attached to my own egg is that below and with
that enigmatic verse, I shall end this blog.
“The oak fattens the flesh of pigs for the children of men. Often
it traverses the gannet's bath, and the ocean proves whether the oak keeps
faith in honourable fashion.”
Artisson R.(2006) The Witching Way of the
Hollow Hill: the gramaryre of the Folk who dwell below the mound. Owlblink
Bookcrafting Company USA.
Bellows H.A. (trans.) The Poetic Edda. Forgotten Books.
G. (2002) The wheel of the Wiccan year. Rider London.
Grey W. (nd.) cited by Jones E.J. (1990) Witchcraft: a tradition renewed.
Robert Hale, London.
Jones E.J. (1994) The Roebuck in
the thicket. Capall Bann.
Valiente D. (1978) Witchcraft for
tomorrow. Robert Hale, London.
The Anglo Saxon Rune Poem http://chatteringmagpie-summonerofthehearth.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/the-anglo-saxon-rune-poem-in-modern.html Chattering
Magpie on Etsy
On Saturday the 11th of March 2017 whilst in the
enjoyable company of a friend, I attended a Mind, Body and Spirit (MBS) Fair at
Derby County Cricket Club (DCCC). I was on annual leave, it was full moon that
weekend, I had both the time and desire to explore. Not that I had any specific
plans for the moon, merely an acknowledgement of the time, the approach of the
Ides and Vernal Equinox.
The attendance of a MBS event is for me, a rather unusual activity.
It has to be admitted whether for good or ill, that like others of my ilk, I do
have a tendency to look down on such events with a polite air of condescension.
I can claim two notable achievements across the internet, I coined two phrases,
MBS (meaning Mindless Bull Shit) and NAG (meaning New Age Garbage). So it
should be clear, I am something of a cynic and not necessarily innocent of
Saying that, is important to recognise that for many of us and I do
include myself in this. Mind Body Spirit, Psychic Fairs and the New Age are
where many of us started on our spiritual journey. Many of us will eventually
move away and move on, searching for and hopefully finding something deeper and
meaningful. Some unfortunately do not. They remain the dilettante, dipping
their toes in the water but unable, perhaps unwilling, to take the plunge and
explore the depths of the mysteries.
So although I may display this unfortunate element of superior
condescension at times, it is merely a trait built upon the recognition, even
if a begrudged one, that like many others I started my journey by attending a
psychic fair and having a tarot reading. Therefore one cannot really dispute
that such fairs have a place, a use and a benefit in the long term. Serving as
a catalyst to catapult people into the unknown, on a search that eventually may
lead to a new awareness. A self-awareness.
So it was that on paying our £4.75, we began our exploration of
the large indoor arena, used by the DCCC for indoor practice and other sports.
I am quite familiar with the building having been involved in organising events
here for the Pagan Federation in 2007 and 2008 (see ‘Thoughts on my retirement’
Picking up the obligatory and useful programme, listing the stalls
and the itinerary of talks, we began a leisurely but systematic stroll through
what was in effect, a large indoor craft market. None of the talks on offer particularly
appealed to us and we decided to skip them altogether, to focus on the market
I was naturally interested in the book stall, my friend Emma
wanted to stock up on essentials, such as joss sticks and candles. We both
wanted to look at the art, the jewellery and many hand crafted items. The
amusement of finding a few books on sale by people I have either met or know
via Facebook was not entirely appreciated; Emma merely commenting, “You know a
Prior to our attendance, I had already bought a few books via the
web, including a three volume set of the complete works of Shakespeare.
However, one book that did catch my eye, examined the influence of historical
Paganism on the Renaissance and via that movement, far beyond unto the present
This period of history in the early modern period, represents a
second rediscovery (there was an earlier Renaissance perhaps more than one) of
the art and knowledge of the past. This influence was to be felt for over a
century as the aristocracy and genteel class embarked upon the European Grand
Tour. Visit any art gallery, museum or country seat today, the souvenirs,
commissioned copies and paintings all serve to illustrate this rediscovery of a
long past age.
Both of us were quite enchanted by the stalls displaying original
artworks, cards and prints. I purchased one by Jacqui de Rose from a stall
overflowing with delights for the eye. This particular print depicted
spiritually significant animals and plants, whose names all began with the
letter D. I did not buy the print because my name is Daniel, nor because of the
duck, the dragon fly or the daffodils illustrated.
Besides the obvious fact that I was drawn to the beauty of the
work, I noted in particular the dog rose and the deer featured in the work. The
stag is depicted as the White Hart of Fairy lore and the rose is shown in both
pink and white. Both the stag and the rose, wild or cultivated although I personally
do favour the wild, hold a special place within the symbolism of the Hearth of
the Turning Wheel.
The stag and the white hart is the Stag Lord and therefore, one of
our four primary totems. He is the Lord of the Underworld and the Lord of the
Mound. He is found within the heraldry of many families across the Midlands,
including the Cavendish of Chatsworth. The stag derived from the arms of that
family, has found its way into the heraldry of the Derby City Council and the
County Council. Indeed the historical association with Derby and Derbyshire is
ancient, the name Derby is derived from the Viking root word for deer.
Over in Nottinghamshire, the famous association of Sherwood with
deer has brought the animal into the heraldry of the County and various
districts. Because of this important local association and the linked
mythological elements, the stag is the primary symbol of the Hearth of the
Turning Wheel itself, often shown flanked by two crescent moons upon our own
The symbolism of the rose is as complex and as meaningful as the
White Hart and my review of both here is hardly in-depth. The rose within the
Hearth of the Turning Wheel has three separate phases or depictions, Red, White
and Tudor. The Red is the symbol of the Outer Court, the White is the symbol of
the Inner Court and the Tudor is another primary badge.
The five petals of the rose represent the pentagram and the five
stages of existence, the red in particular is a symbol of the divine feminine.
Red is flesh and blood, white is bone. White can be seen as a symbol of the
divine masculine. The Tudor Rose depicts the male within the female and bone
Our visit to the Mind, Body and Spirit Fair had been worthwhile
for us both, as we had both bought items of use and of value. The book is a
well written scholarly work but the print in particular, has a significance of
How appealing such an event is or remains, very much depends on
the individual and their particular search. On leaving, I was reminded of how
much I had changed since my early days, although this was a return to my roots,
those roots no longer delve the same soil.
the 24th of March 2017 is the sixth anniversary of this blog, this
project, this scholarly and artistic expression of knowledge, study and
experimentation. I have difficulty remembering precisely why I began the blog
six years ago, I was inspired by the work of others without a doubt. In
particular a writer by the name of Cunning Man (link below). Indeed some of my early posts
before I found my own style, were just a little too close to his own to be
then, I have of course developed my own style and presentation, variously described
as pretentious, pompous, opinionated and self-confident. I have on occasion
been complimented, being described as knowledgeable, a talented writer and a
gifted photographer. My web-presence has also been defined as intimidating. I
think all of these epithets hold some veracity and I am very likely, the most
pretentious man I know.
the reasons behind the blog are as one would expect, not as simplistic as first
appearances may suggest. The work here aims to reach people, to share ideas and
interpretations that may not necessarily be found elsewhere. Material that is
published on the blog, is not necessarily meant for publication in a printed
source but designed perhaps, to reach a different audience. Part of the work is
to express ideas outside of the Hearth of the Turning Wheel, part is express
ideas that influence the work of the Hearth itself. There is a balance sought
between my own personal praxis and the ethos of the Hearth of the Turning
back now at this the six year point, I cannot be certain that everyone who has
read my blog, may understand these aims or even the content. This cannot be
helped. Some have suggested that my posts are over long and others it is clear,
struggle to see beyond the rather ‘flowery’ style of writing. A lapwing nests
in plain view, it is not my obligation to stop someone walking past blindly and
distracted by the mundane.
I can say with some pride, that today I have a blog that is known and valued by
a select few. I have only sixty three official followers but my reach appears
to be beyond that small number. My posts, now totalling two hundred and
seventeen, have gained one hundred and fourteen thousand ‘hits’ in those six
years. That is now an average of a little under twenty thousand ‘reads’ per
year. I have no idea if that is particularly good or bad, it pleases me and
that is enough.
and this is an illustration of the reach of the Internet, more than half my ‘hits’
are from outside the United Kingdom. Here I sit at a replica Victorian desk (I
said I was pretentious), a middle aged Englishman in a middle aged English
house, bemused by the discovery that two thirds of my ‘readership’ is overseas.
What is it that I have to say, that is of interest to such an audience?
Whatever it is, I sincerely hope I can carry on with it.