Axis Mundi
The beginning of a circle is also its end. Not I, but the world says it: all is one. And yet everything comes in season.
- Heraklietos of Ephesos

From the Editor...

What Lies Beneath

Sometimes I feel that I am invisible, not in the physical sense but in the sense that I believe I don’t get any recognition for anything that I do.  Ok I know it is an ego thing and perhaps I don’t do anything worthy of recognition but still it is one of my frustration points.

Recently I discovered that Chiron sits in Capricorn in my natal chart, after reading through the interpretation, the reason for me feeling like I am invisible became apparent. Basically the interpretation highlighted that I bear the pain of not being recognised or understood.  Evidently at the heart of Capricorn there is a driving ambition, a need for status, respect and reward, and when Chiron is in Capricorn, you can get so caught up in achieving higher and higher goals that you never slow down to enjoy and assess what you have accomplished. Actually, it pretty much sums up my situation, working continually to burn out point, never really being satisfied with what I achieve.

At this juncture I started delving into the dark recesses of my soul, looking at what lies beneath the layers of discarded emotions and memories. Moving through painful recollections of childhood frustrations of rejection and isolation, all because of my idiosyncratic behaviour. A childhood that was spent in a Neptunian fantasy world, expressing myself through my creative and psychic talents and always struggling to be accepted and recognised by my peers and family. In actuality my childhood frustrations and explorations were in fact the grounding for my current path of shamanic witchcraft.

As I move now energetically and spiritually into the colder months, I am reminded that winter is a time of turning inward; a time to assess and let go of what no longer serves me, a time to release what holds me back, and it is also a time of preparing for transformation.

As we progress through the dark aspects of this coming season, may we all acknowledge the voices from our shadow that lies hidden in our emotions and our soul. May we contract into our depths and expand into the purity of our beings; may we apply the alchemy of transformation by honouring our essential self and appreciating  what truly is uniquely special and sacred in our lives and in our hearts.

"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." Carl Jung

Janine Donnellan


SOL's Samhain Retreat ~ May 2-3, 2009
"Come to the Darkside"

Come to the Darkside was the theme for our recent Samhain Weekend which was conducted at the Govinda Valley Spiritual Retreat Centre in Otford. The weekend was focused on inner reflection through the concept of purity of body, mind & spirit, and it was an ideal environment to withdraw from the routines and pressures of modern living into the solitude of the Shadow Self.

Click on the image at the left to see more photos taken on the day.

If you want to keep abreast of SOL's circles, gatherings, workshops and activities please periodically check our Events Calendar and our Events Forum for updates.

SOL's Full Moon Circle ~ Friday May 8, 2009

by Janine Donnellan

It is strange how the full moon ritual sometimes miraculously evolves. Sometimes it is the energy of the moon sign that dictates the type of ritual for the full moon circle, and other times spirit has its own private agenda and gives instructions for the structure of the ritual via messages and dreams. The composition of this Scorpio/Taurus full moon ritual came from an inspired thought of enlightenment, which was the Buddha. Images of Buddha seemed to synchronistically appear to me for a couple of weeks and it was not until I read an article on Buddha that I became aware that the Scorpio/Taurus Full Moon coincided with Buddha's birthday and the Wesak Festival.

The Wesak Festival is one of the most important of the Theravada Buddhist festivals, commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha. The event is observed on the full-moon day of the lunar month Vesakha, and is marked by special devotional services and various deeds intended to be meritorious, such as the presentation of food or alms to monks or the release of captive birds.

Every year at this Full Moon, Buddhists and Theosophists come from all over the world to gather en masse and meditate. Some even undertake a pilgrimage to a valley below Mount Kalaish in Tibet where it is believed that Masters and non physical Divine Beings meet together for the shift in consciousness for humanity and to anchor the higher energies onto the Earth Plane.

While millions of people were projecting their energy to raising the consciousness of humanity, our circle tapped into the energy of this highly charged festival and rode the spiritually charged wave, projecting our own energy into the shift and anchoring our souls into the divine light on Earth.

On this night, using the tonings of Om, the Guardians of the Four Directions were called. These were the deities who rule the specific directions of space and who ward off evil. Each represented a direction, season, colour, and element. Each direction dwells in and protects one of the four continents surrounding Mt. Meru (home to the historical Buddha and other deities). The following invocation to Buddha was stated:

Oh Compassionate Buddha
Awaken the creative intelligence of the psycho-spiritual centres of mankind.
Stimulate the arousal of the kundalini shakti
From the unreal lead us to the real
From darkness lead us to light
From death lead us to immortality
May all beings dwell in happiness
May all beings dwell in peace
May all beings attain oneness
May all beings attain auspiciousness
May all happiness be unto the whole world

Each person in the circle then connected to Buddha through meditation, and merged themselves with the energy and the purpose of all the souls gathered for this event. Energy was then gathered by walking the circle toning OM with the intent that true enlightenment was about the journey and not necessarily the destination. Once the energy was gathered it was sent up into the universe to connect with the amassing energy to be utilized for the raising of consciousness of all humanity; in full realization that the raising of consciousness must first start within ourselves.

We then thanked the Four Directions and the Buddha for their presence and guidance and the residual energy was then grounded back into the earth and forwarded to individuals for healing. The circle was closed and then we all finished the evening with the usual feast.


More information regarding this circle and past circles can be found in our Book Of Shadows. Our next Full Moon Circle will be held near Engadine on Friday, June 5. Please contact us for further details if you would like to attend.

SOL Full Moon Circle Meditation...
"Runes" ~ A Personal Experience

by Rayvensclaw

Last week while doing a meditation at the full moon circle, an image was presented to me consisting of vertical and diagonal lines forming into a pattern. I scribbled down what I thought was close to what I saw, and came up with a couple of runes that fitted the description. It was a prelude to the meditation on Buddha and at the time I didn't think it had any relevance. Buddha had been coming up frequently for me and a number of others in the group. Actually it was fairly synchronistic that these symbols appeared.

The Ingwaz can be a new direction that we are heading in and also a symbol for me to listen. Othala points to the values we have on our continued spiritual journey. As it came up at the beginning of the meditation, it was pointing to a path that we can continue to grow with. It was interesting to note that these symbols do not correspond with Buddha philosophy...but, perhaps they do?

Ingwaz:  (Norse: Ing, the earth god)

Common virtues, common sense, simple strengths, family love, caring, human warmth, the home. Rest stage, a time of relief, of no anxiety. A time when all loose strings are tied and you are free to move in a new direction. Listen to yourself.

Othala:  (Norse: Ancestral property)

What is truly important to one. Group order, group prosperity. Land of birth, spiritual heritage, experience and fundamental values. Aid in spiritual and physical journeys.

Another option with the symbol I saw in meditation, is a combination of the two called Bindrunes.

A bindrune consists of two or more runes that have been superimposed or joined together in some way. Occasionally, runes like fehu, raiðo or wunjo would be joined at the base of their "stems", forming a wheel. Other times, runes would be joined side by side, or combined into a single rune. This latter method is the most popular today. Historically, bindrunes were used as "contractions" in an inscription, either to save space or to reduce the number of runes in the inscription to a more magically auspicious total. Today they are commonly used in rune magic by themselves to create a magical sigil that will encompass several runes at once.

Runes are an alphabetic script used by the peoples of Northern Europe from the first century c.e. until well into the Middle Ages. In addition to their use as a written alphabet, the runes also served as a system of symbols used for magic and divination. Runes fell into disuse as the Roman alphabets became the preferred script of most of Europe, but their forms and meanings were preserved in inscriptions and manuscripts.

The primary characteristic which distinguishes a runic alphabet from other alphabets is that each letter, or rune, has a meaning. For example, whereas "ay", "bee", and "cee" are meaningless sounds denoting the first three letters in our alphabet, the names of the first three runes, "fehu", "uruz", and "þurisaz" are actual words in the Germanic language, meaning "cattle", "aurochs", and "giant", respectively. Runes also have magical and religious significance as well, thus transforming the simple process of writing into a magical act. They are also used for divinatory readings and to create magical spells.

Today, runes have been rediscovered as a symbolic system and have gained immense popularity as a means of divination. They are, however, much more than a curious alternative to Tarot cards for telling fortunes. They provide a key to understanding the lives and beliefs of the ancient people who created them, and have much to teach us about a way of life that was perhaps more intimately connected to the natural world, and to the realm of spirit, than our own.

Various runic systems have been found dated the following:

Elder Futhark (2nd to 8th c)
Anglo-Frisian (5th to 11th c)
Marcomannic (8th to 9th c)
Younger Futhark (9th to 11th c)
Medieval (12th to 15th c)
Dalecarlian (16th to 19th c)
Prot-Norse (Sweden)
Frisia and later England
Scandinavia (Viking age settlements)
Dalarna province (Sweden)

Having researched these runes and looked at the various shapes and meanings, there is great commonality between them. Some of the spelling can alter, and the character figures can change slightly, but the similarities have to be recognised as a global form of writing, which could have been the common source of our writing today (author’s interpretation). But whatever the reason, runes are a fascinating subject if you want to look at them further.


The Importance of Ritual

by Janine Donnellan

Ritual has been an integral part of human life in every civilization and the rituals performed throughout time all seem to share common elements and structure. Throughout our world there has existed an ancient and ongoing tradition of acknowledging sacredness which is often performed with the intent of connecting to some higher divine being in the hope of improving not only our condition in the universe, but sometimes the condition of the universe itself.

There lies within each of us an innate primal part that calls out to ritual, a genetic programming that is equivalent to our basic vital functions like eating and breathing. For eons human beings articulated this innate awareness through art, music, poetry, dance, symbolic objects, physical actions, and pithy words constructed into ritualistic enactments which represented our relation to that which is infinitely larger than ourselves.

In today’s pagan community a ritual can be many things, it can be just lighting a special candle or simply saying a mantra or an affirmation to deity. However, creatively and actively inventing ritual can give you a unique sense of connection to those around you and also gives you a sense of how you as an individual fit into the inter connectiveness of the cosmos.

Rituals are meant not only to celebrate significant moments, but to ease us through difficult times by preserving stability and to establish bonds that transcend time. Rituals performed with family and friends bring us closer to one another and keep us grounded. Change feels like the only constant in these troubling times, but it is for this reason that rituals are vital to the spiritual well being of the individual and the group.

The ritual prepares us to be spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically in the moment and that makes the moment sacred. When a ritual is performed, we should all share in the process. We all have an obligation to share in the creativity and the intent of the ritual. We all have an obligation to flow with the energy and when that energy is flowing and connecting then magic happens.

The ritual being prepared should be a creative process in partnership with spirit. The concept of the ritual should never be based on competition or on who creates the most impressive ritual is the most enlightened. Ritual is not about the person nor is it just entertainment, nor is it about complexity; the simplest ritual can be as extremely powerful when everyone is united for its highest purpose.

True ritual acts in harmony with the rhythms of the universe, it gives a meaning to all that we do and to all with whom we come in contact, including all of nature. It requires being cognizant of the divine presence and the cosmic power and the interplay of all the forces in our lives.

Shamanism – what is it, anyway?

by Ravenari

One of the questions I get asked frequently, is also one of the questions that is quite challenging to answer. It is, ‘what is a shaman?’ This is a question that anthropologists, linguists and shamanists themselves have struggled to answer in a complete way for a long time. There is still no agreed upon answer today! This is because the term ‘shaman’ has to encompass so much, in hundreds of different cultures.

The term ‘shaman’ originated as an Indigenous term that comes from the  Tungus people in Siberia. In its original form, the term ‘saman’ can translate as ‘to know,’ ‘one who knows,’ or ‘one who is moved/raised.’ It indicated the wise and adept spiritual leaders, healers and custodians of cultural lore in Tungus society.

Anthropologists who studied the Tungus, and many other Indigenous societies throughout the world, came to use the term ‘shaman’ and the term ‘shamanism’ to indicate those Indigenous people who were spiritually connected, significant within their community, in close communion with the spirits and the land and possessed of powers of healing or cursing. The term ‘shamanic culture’ sprang up to describe almost any Indigenous culture that had spiritualities that had shamans, or spiritual leaders that weren’t priests, or chieftains. They were found worldwide, and had different names to describe these people in each culture. Not only that, but sometimes there were different types of shaman per culture; ones who focused more on art and creation, others on cursing or death (like the Kanaima of Guyana), others on healing and family matters, and so on.

The term shaman and shamanism was then appropriated by contemporary pagan communities. Things got confusing, as the term ‘shaman’ became a catchall term for people who were simply interested in animal totems, or who knew how to beat a drum around a fire. This usage, or misusage, offended many in Indigenous communities, and those who understood that the shaman, and the practice of shamanism, was a series of highly differing spiritual practices conducted with responsibility, humility and spiritual connection.

So what is a shaman? Well, I believe today the shaman is not as common as people think, many who claim to be a shaman, even if they are using shamanic techniques, are probably not ‘Shaman’ as they are understood to be in Indigenous communities, and even as they are understood in many contemporary shamanic communities.

A shaman is a spiritually capable and experienced person who practices a family of traditions that may differ in some aspects from culture to culture but also have some commonalities.

The commonalities are:

  1. The ability to interact directly with the spirits and go to the ‘otherworlds’, ‘dreamtime’ or the lands where the spirits live, through the act of trance.
  2. It includes the ability to interface with these spirits on behalf of the self, and often a community of people.
  3. The ability to heal soul injury or create great soul injury (and therefore physical and emotional injuries) with the help of these spirits.

Those who practice shamanism sometimes experience painful initiations, depending on the culture; but this isn’t a requirement to walk the path of shamanism. ‘Shaman’ (or an equivalent term in Indigenous dialects) is also a status title in some cultures, and given to the Shaman on behalf of the community who recognises them.

Because ‘shaman’ is a complex term, it includes other things too, depending on the culture. For example, in contemporary shamanism, acts of drumming, working with animal totems, and even working in sweat-lodges (a controversial act, when one explores Indigenous reactions to this) are considered important parts of shamanism. And yet if you go to an Indigenous shamanic culture that doesn’t work with animal totems, the drum, or sweat-lodges; you can immediately see that these things aren’t a required part of shamanism.

So, what am I then? I don’t know if I’m a shaman, but I do know I’m a shamanist. Someone who practices shamanic techniques because I feel it is the right thing for me to be doing, both for myself, and for the spirits who choose to walk alongside me. I have been practicing as a shamanist for just under 10 years now, and still have so much to learn. I find my path very fulfilling and rewarding. I’m hoping that as this column progresses I can share with you some of the truths, knowledges, and joy that I have learnt upon this path. Next month, I am going to talk about the difference between the shaman and the shamanist.

Hutton, R. (2001). Shamans: Siberian Spirituality and the Western Imagination. London, Hambledon and London.
Wallis, R. (2003). Shamans/Neo-Shamans: ecstasy, alternative archaeologies and contemporary Pagans. New York, Routledge.
Walsh, R. (2007). The World of Shamanism: New Views of an Ancient Tradition. Minnesota, Llewellyn.
Whitehead, N. (2002). Dark Shamans: Kanaima and the Poetics of Violent Death. London, Duke University Press.

The Banshee

by Janine Donnellan

It seems appropriate at this time of year as we move into the darker and colder months, to try to understand the nature of a misrepresented spirit who is as ancient as life itself; this spirit represents the death messenger and is referred to as the Banshee. As a child, I lived in close proximity to my Aunt who made sure that I was exposed to all of the proper understandings of our Irish folklore and ancestry. As a young child I spent many an interesting evening listening to my Aunt tell scary tales of ghosts and supernatural beings, of headless horsemen and of course my favourite the Banshee. I can remember hiding under the bedclothes at night while my aunt would tap on the bedroom window and cry and moan outside in the side passageway; these tales were probably the reason why I was afraid of the dark for many years.

It is said that the Banshee is a persona of the celtic goddess, the Morrigan, who was known to stand in a river and wash the entrails of those about to die in battle while singing a most charismatic song. Warriors in battle, who could hear her singing, were destined to die.

There is nothing quite so terrifying as the cry (or keening) of the Banshee, for to hear her cry is an omen of death. She is known throughout Britain and Ireland by many names, including Badbh, Cyoerraeth, the Washer Woman, the Bean Nighe and Bean Sidhe. The Banshee, which literally means fairy woman, has been portrayed as both a frightening old woman with glowing red eyes and a beautiful woman with a veiled face.

As the Bean Nighe, or the Washer Woman of the Scottish Highlands, she is a terrifying creature. In Wales she is known as the Cyoerraeth, and will tap on the windows of those about to die. Rarely seen, which is a blessing, as she is quite frightening. Belief in the Banshee is still very common in Ireland today and her cry is even heard among Irish emigrants abroad.

An omen that sometimes accompanies the Banshee is the coach-a-bower (coiste-bodhar) an immense black coach, mounted by a coffin and drawn by a headless carriage man. This was another favourite story that my aunt would tell and strange as it may seem in 1987 I had a very bad case of the flu and should have been hospitalized. I can recall on one particular night when I felt I was at the critical point of my illness, I heard a carriage driven by horses gallop down my street and then stop in front of my house. As you can imagine I was absolutely terrified that I was going to die and from that point on I became determined  that I was going to recover.

Despite her grim reputation, seeing or hearing a Banshee is not what actually causes the death. In fact, the Banshee is traditionally a very kind woman. As poet and historian W. B. Yeats commented, “You will with the banshee chat, and will find her good at heart.” I don’t think that I could engage the Banshee in a friendly chat but I understand that although her appearance can be frightening, the Banshee is only doing the family a service by  forewarning the immanent death of a loved one.

Lysaght, Patricia (1986). The Banshee: The Irish Death Messenger. Roberts Rinehart Publishers..
Briggs, Katharine (1976). An Encyclopedia of Fairies. Pantheon Books.
Image from

Poetry ~ Our Mirror

(Author unknown, contributed to Axis Mundi by Maria)

The good you find in others, is in you too.
The faults you find in others are your faults as well.
After all, to recognize something you must know it.
The possibilities you see in others are possible for you as well.
The beauty you see around you is your beauty.
The world around is a reflection, a mirror showing you the person you are.

To change your world, you must change yourself.
To blame and complain will only make matters worse.
Whatever you care about is your responsibility.
What you see in others shows you yourself.
See the best in others, and you will be the best.
Give to others, and you will give to yourself.
Appreciate beauty, and you will be beautiful.
Admire creativity, and you will be creative.
Love and you will be loved.

Seek to understand, and you will be understood.
Listen and your voice will be heard.
Teach, and you will learn.
Show your best face to the mirror,
And you’ll be happy with the face looking back to you.

"The Mirror" - photography & digital artwork by Janine Donnellan

Autumn Retreat 2009

by Craig PhoenixWolf

Organized by Shannon of the Pagan Initiative, the Autumn Retreat is a chance for pagans to get together and relax in a peaceful, welcoming and friendly environment. This year that was achieved in Katoomba. I had never visited Katoomba and yet I felt at home there as it is much like the community I live in and almost as cold. The guest house is a gorgeous old building with verandas running down the east side and across the front. I walked down the side path and up the steps to the office for the guest house but before going inside I knew I was in the right place because outside the office on a hanging sculpture, perched at the top were two golden phoenix. I knew the weekend was blessed then.

When I arrived I was greeted by Shannon, who had done a wonderful job setting up the retreat, and shown to a room which I was told I was sharing with a young guy. I later found out it was someone I knew. Already there were other guests who had been arriving throughout the afternoon and the conversation was light and friendly as old friends hugged and caught up and new friends met and got to know each other.

The theme for the retreat was to be elemental and so we began Friday night with a meal around a warm gas flame wood-look fire and with candles burning. People talked, laughed and celebrated in the glow and warmth of the fire and company. Many had traveled and we were joined by a lovely young lady who played very skillfully the double bass and a guitar. Jazz, blues started the night but soon we were regaled with songs of the gypsy spirit. If you have never read the translation of some of these songs to English I suggest you do. While not as poetic they are interesting. Still the original tongue makes even the most tragic or humorous of English descriptions sound beautiful.

The party seemed to go on into the night with different ones slipping outside to enjoy the cool night air and night time view and the moon's glow.

The next morning was an early start. For some like yours truly four hours sleep was just not enough to prepare for the day but, well that's another story. We ate a breakfast wonderfully prepared, as was the meal the night before, by the lovely ladies of Witchery Grub. Then off to Leura Cascades for the second of the elemental themed experiences - a walk around the waterfalls and along the nature trails. If you have never visited the Cascades I suggest you do - it is truly a magical water experience. Though, take good walking shoes and if you're a bit out of shape like me, an oxygen bottle, mask, and a helicopter rescue team to air lift you back to the top. I kid, though it is not a walk for those who are unsteady on their feet as there are steep descents and climbs. Going down I didn't mind, but the climb up - where was the escalator or elevator? Oh wait, we were supposed to be getting back to nature weren't we.

There is a spot at the bottom of the so called "easy" trail though that made it all worth while. A little grotto you can stand in, carved by the water out of the old rock of the mountains, that is right at the base of a long cascading waterfall and the light was caught in the water making it glow like liquid silver as it flowed down towards the grotto.

I could have spent hours there taking it in and well given the climb out, maybe just moved into the grotto. Do you think I could get an internet connection for my laptop in a wet cave on the side of a waterfall?

Once we all recovered from the climb back to the car park we headed back to the guest house for a light meal and then it was time for the earth experience - a walk in the nearby gardens. I hear they were lovely and that there was some mischief with a bridal party and a scandalous bride who never knew she has caused such a scandal but I had taken the time to catch up on the sleep of the night before and to spend time with friends who has also decided to stay behind.

The full moon brings out the best of pagan mischief and this night was no different. I found myself idly drumming a beat on a friends new drum. Soon though, that beat was joined by the tones of a bodhran drum. Stories soon followed, getting the night off to a fun start as we heard tales of discovery and learning as well as magic teapots and errr, sultry mermaids. You know the kind I mean. Wink. Wink.

Dinner this full moon night was a feast of flavors worthy of a viking hall or gypsy camp and went on for hours with each course tempting you to eat just a little more. Some drank their chosen beverages and alcohols and others drank their moon wine. What, you have not had moon wine? It can be intoxicating and refreshing. Take one glass of water and charge it in the light of the moon. Delicious but be careful though as too much energy put into the glass can lead to strange behavior.

My phoenix guide made a return as some of the group split off to a quiet spot to perform a guided meditation and the phoenix appeared in the meditation.

The evening went on and slowly people retired to their beds but not before some mischief had a group locked in their room. As Schultz from Hogan's Heroes is quoted as saying, "I know nothing, nothing!" I do know someone called on Loki that night so we know he is a trickster.

Sunday saw people a lot more mellow as the big meal and late night had them slowly emerging from their rooms. Breakfast smells brought the last from their beds and we began to clean up.

Having an elemental theme we still needed our air experience and that started with one of the guests, a young man named Matthew, giving a talk on the rituals around the drinking of tea. It was interesting to hear him speak as he is well versed in the subject. Why would our day start with a lecture on tea? Because the weekend finished with us at an English tea house for High Tea. Okay I know you don't get it yet but if you could see us all around a long, mad hatter style table with tea and cucumber sandwiches waiting for someone to yell "fresh cup!" well then you would understand.

In a way though we did not want it to end but like all good things it must and as the heavens opened up we said our good byes to old and new friends, good byes to Katoomba and began the long journey back to our day-to-day lives.

I want to thank Shannon of Pagan Initiative, for putting on the event. Skye and Louise who provided the musical entertainment Friday night, Colleen and Terry for the food that will see me renewing that gym membership this week because it was so good and also the others who went and made the retreat the success it was.

I left though with a thought clear in my mind - something said after breakfast Sunday. "We can be pagan all the time. We don't need to be pagan just when we are around the bonfire or banging our drums. Life around us offers us much we can enjoy as pagans if we just stop and take a moment to." That is what I now give to you. Take a moment. Stop and smell the flowers.

Photos by Craig PhoenixWolf
For more information about Pagan Initiative's events please visit their website at Their next event will be "Yule 2009" held at Waterfall, in southern Sydney from Friday 10th to Sunday 12th July, 2009.

The Photo Corner

A place to showcase your artistic talents behind the lens...

"Autumn Retreat at Katoomba"

Click on the image below to view a selection of beautiful scenes photographed by Craig PhoenixWolf at Pagan Initiative's Autumn Retreat held at Katoomba, NSW.

Herbs ~ Yarrow

by Amethyst

Botanical:  Achillea millefolium
Planetary associations:  Venus, Jupiter
Zodiac associations:  Libra, Taurus
Element:  Air
Magickal classifications:  Magickal Herbe … Religious Herbe … Visionary Herbe
Invocatory:  Horned God
Part Used:  All
Synonyms:  Carpenter’s weed, milfoil, yarroway, woundwort


The genus name, Achillea derives from Greek mythology.  Achilles, hero of Homer's "Iliad," had been a student of Chiron, the centaur renowned for his knowledge of medicinal herbs.  Yarrow plants were highly regarded at the time for their medicinal properties.  Yarrow plants were widely used prior to modern times to staunch blood.  The species name, mille folium (thus the common name, "milfoil") means thousand-leafed and derives from yarrow plants' deeply toothed, fern-like foliage.  The English name Yarrow comes from the Saxon and Dutch words 'Gearwe' and 'Yerw' respectively.  Yarrow was once known as "nosebleed", its feathery leaves making an ideal astringent swab to encourage clotting.  It is a well-known and versatile herb that is still effective for its historical use of staunching bleeding and disinfecting wounds, but its uses extend far beyond that.  It was called by the Ancients, the Herba Militaris, and the military herb.  Mythology, over time, becomes an ever-complex weave of different layers of religious and cultural fabric which it would take several lifetimes to understand.

It was one of the herbs dedicated to the Evil One, in earlier days, being sometimes known as Devil’s Nettle, Devil’s Plaything, Bad Man’s Plaything, and was used for divination in spells.  Yarrow, in the eastern counties, is termed Yarroway, and there is a curious mode of divination with its serrated leaf, with which the inside of the nose is tickled while the following lines are spoken.  If the operation causes the nose to bleed, it is a certain omen of success:

    Yarroway, Yarroway, bear a white blow,
    If my love loves me, my nose will bleed now.

An ounce of Yarrow sewed up in a flannel and placed under the pillow before going to bed, having repeated the following words, brought a vision of the future husband or wife:

    Thou pretty herb of Venus’ tree
    Thy true name it is Yarrow;
    Now who by bosom friend must be,
    Pray tell thou me tomorrow.


In the Orkney Islands yarrow is widely used for dispelling melancholy.  Yarrow is an important herbe when healing someone burdened by troubled emotions, helping cleanse them of an unhealthy sorrow or depression, which has lasted too long.  Albertus Magnus uses yarrow in combination with nettles to treat fear and self-negation.

Yarrow’s associations with divination extend far beyond folk spells.  In China yarrow stalks are gathered, the straightest collected for scattering when reading the I Ching.  According to The Master Book of Herbalism, it is said the “the most prized yarrow is that which grows upon the burial site of Confucius.”

Modern lore recommends waiting for the first yarrow bloom and using it to make a wish, which should manifest prior to the harvest.  The flowers are often included in rituals of union are considered sacred to the Horned God.  Any herbe under the influence of Venus makes for a potent love herbe for spells and rituals, and Yarrow is no exception.

Large patches of yarrow growing in a field indicate a very grounded energy spot.  Sit there to centre and relax.  Yarrow is used to exorcise evil and negativity from a person, place or thing.

In the past, yarrow was used as a protectant. It was strewn across the threshold to keep out evil and worn to protect against hexes. It was tied to an infant's cradle to protect it from those who might try to steal its soul. The Saxons wore yarrow amulets to protect against blindness, robbers, and dogs, among other things.  Carrying Yarrow in the hand is believed to ward off fear.  Try carrying in a silk or velvet bag when going to a job interview or making a speech to reduce anxiety.  Carried in a pocket or purse, Yarrow reverses negativity and protects from hexes.  Add to the bath to protect from evil or harm.

It is particularly useful in spells and rituals done aloud – so that the words can be carried on the air.  When drunk as a tea, Yarrow is said to increase psychic powers and powers of perception.  When the flowers or leaves are burned, if the smoke goes up, it’s a good omen, but if it goes down, it’s a bad omen.

a compendium of HERBAL MAGICK by Paul Beyerl, 1998

Aromatherapy ~ Lavender Essential Oil

by Amethyst

Botanical name:  Lavendula angustifolia
Family:  Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Synonyms:  Lavendula officinalis, L. vera
Planetary associations:  Mercury
Element:  Air
Zodiac associations:  Virgo
Magickal classifications:  Fertility Herbe … Herbe of Consecration … Herbe of Love … Magickal Herbe … Religious Herbe … Visionary Herbe
Invocatory:  Cernunnos, Hecate, Medea, Saturn, Serpent Goddesses
Part of plant used:  Fresh flowering tops.
Method of extraction:  Steam distillation.

Place of origin:  Indigenous to the Mediterranean region, now cultivated mainly in France, Spain, England and Australia.
Other species:  There are many varieties of lavender; Lavendula angustifolia is divided into two subspecies – L. fragrans and L. stoechas.  Cotton lavender (Santolina chamaecyparissus) and sea lavender (Statice caroliniana) belong to different botanical families.  Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia) is a hybrid plant developed by crossing true lavender with spike lavender.
Description:  An evergreen woody shrub, up to 1 metre tall, with pale green, narrow linear leaves and violet-blue flowers.  The whole plant is highly aromatic.
Characteristics:  Floral, herbaceous, sweet scent with balsamic woody undertone.
History:  Lavender has been used since ancient times as much for its perfume as for its medicinal properties.  Romans added lavender to their bath water, hence the name derived from the work ‘to wash’, lavare.  The ancients classified lavender as a stimulant, tonic, stomachic and carminative.  Herbalists regard lavender as the most useful and versatile essential oil for therapeutic purposes.
Properties:  Analgesic, anticonvulsive, antidepressant, antiphlogistic, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, bactericide, carminative, cholagogue, cicatrisant, cordial, cytophylactic, decongestant, deodorant, diuretic, emmenagogue, hypotensive, nervine, rubifacient, sedative, sudorific, vulnerary.
Blends well with:  Bay, bergamot, German & Roman chamomile, citronella, clary sage, geranium, jasmine, lemon, mandarin, orange, palmarosa, patchouli, pine, tangerine, thyme, rosemary, rosewood, ylang-ylang.


Mind & spirit:  It is well know for its nervine – sedative properties, and is useful for treating a variety of nervous and psychological disorders including depression, insomnia, migraine, nervous tension, hysteria and paralysis.  As a sedative – analgesic it is very good for headaches and migraines.  Like geranium, lavender is considered normalising, hence its considerable versatility.

Body:  Without a doubt if one were to choose only a single essential oil to keep in the first aid kit, lavender would be the undisputed choice.  Of all the essential oils lavender is undoubtedly the most versatile.  Its antiseptic properties make it ideal to use for treating coughs, colds, catarrh, sinus, flu, as well as the treatment of wounds, ulcers, cystitis and catarrhal discharges.  Being a good antispasmodic it can be used for the management of conditions such as asthma.  Bronchitis also responds well to lavender used in massage and inhalations.  Lavender is helpful in the treatment of all types of pain.  Because of its low toxicity it is considered, along with German and Roman chamomile, one of the safest essential oils to use with children.

Skin and hair:  Lavender is the essential oil most commonly associated with burns and healing of the skin.  Its effectiveness in the treatment of burns has led to its use in burns units in European hospitals.  It also has antiseptic and analgesic properties which will ease the pain of a burn and prevent infections.  As it also has cytophylactic properties it will promote rapid healing and help reduce scarring.

Its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties have a balancing effect on the skin.  It can also be used for the treatment of dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, boils and acne.  It may be used in general skin care for all types of skin.  When using lavender for inflammatory conditions please use only low concentrations of less than 1%.

Lavender is also useful for the treatment of sunburn and sunstroke.  It can be combined with peppermint in a 1% dilution and used as a massage oil.  Finally it can be used as an insect repellent and may be used to treat insect bites – preventing the itching and scratching.

Magickal use:  Lavender in the home brings peace, joy and healing.  Lavender is known for its ability to increase one's clarity when viewing the world and to assist the evolution of one's spirit through life.  It is used in a remedial fashion to alleviate stress and may be used magickally for the same purpose.  If working with ritual or magick to promote healing from a depression, Lavender is a superior choice.  Lavender (as herb or essential oil) may be used in as an ingredient or substitute for magick spells and formulas related to Mercury matters (overcoming addiction, breaking bad habits, communication, divination, eloquence, intelligence, mental powers, psychic powers, self-improvement, study, travel, and wisdom).  Be careful about substitutions for preparations that will be ingested or come in contact with the skin.  These substitutions do not apply to medical uses.  Place Lavender under your pillow while thinking of your wish. Do this just prior to retiring for the night. In the morning, if you have dreamt of anything relating to your wish, it will come true. However, if you did not dream, or if they were unconnected with your wish, it will not manifest.  

Precautions:  Non-irritant, non-toxic and non-sensitising.

From – The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy by Salvatore Battaglia

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Issue 15 - AUTUMN, MAY 2009
ISSN 1839-4396

Spheres Of Light
ABN 46 385 794 818
We are based in Australia, in the Sydney-Illawarra area of NSW.
More about us...

For general inquiries...
Phone Janine on 0408 025 268

Full Moon Circles
In addition to our regular Full Moon Circles we also run workshops and classes which are highly interactive and experiential, focusing on participation and engagement of participants. If you want to keep abreast of SOL's circles, gatherings, workshops and activities please click on the banner below to check out our Events Calendar.

SOuL Searchers
SOuL Searchers is Spheres of Light's paranormal investigations subgroup. One of the many things you will find unique about the SOuL Searchers team, unlike the majority of other paranormal investigators, is that we undertake our investigations from a shamanic perspective.

SOL Holistic Centre
The Spheres Of Light Holistic Centre has within its members practitioners who can provide Spiritual Healing in a variety of natural healing modalities. Each modality is designed to heal all levels of the body; the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies. Working with ancient universal energies, healing works to restore balance, bring inner harmony and peace, to re-energise the body, to stimulate the body's own immune system and so aid recovery, as well as inducing deep relaxation. Healing is excellent for relieving modern day stresses and providing support during difficult times in your life.

If you want to know about current topics check out the forum pages. This is a place where you can discuss ideas and catch up on general news. So if you want to participate please become a member as we would love to hear from you.
... plus much, much more!

On our Networking page you will find many links to other Australian Pagan groups and organisations, as well as Australian Pagan (and pagan-friendly) Businesses & Services. If you would like to have a link to your group or business on the SOL website please email This service is provided free of charge. If possible a reciprocal link to SOL would be much appreciated.

National Pagan Directory
The National Pagan Directory is a Spheres Of Light initiative to help Australian Pagans connect with each other in their local area. It is a FREE listing & provides links to information about covens, groups, classes, workshops, retreats & other special Pagan events, plus Aussie Pagan businesses & services. If you would like your coven, group, regular meet-up or special event to be listed in the NPD please send us your details. We also invite Celebrants in the Pagan community to promote their services in the NPD. For further information & contact details click on the banner above.


SOL Full Moon Circle
Friday June 5, 2009

Full Moon circles
Click here for more information...

Spheres Of Light holds regular Full Moon Circles near Engadine (Southern Sydney, Australia) on the Friday before each Full Moon. These Full Moon gatherings are Open Circles, meaning that all Pagans are welcome to come along any time and experience a Full Moon circle with us. Details here...

SOL Meditation in the Royal National Park
Sunday June 21, 2009

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Come join us for meditation in the beautiful surrounds of The Royal National Park. Our meditations will be conducted every third Sunday of the month. Please email for times and meet up details.

SOL Drum Making Weekend
July 17 - 19, 2009

Drum Making weekend
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(Please Note: you must be over 18 years of age to attend any SOL gatherings, events, classes & workshops.)



Please email us the details of any pagan or community events, classes, workshops or regular meetings that you'd like to see promoted here in this free listing.

PAN Full Moon Public Circle
June 8, 2009 at Seven Hills, Sydney (map)

Date: Monday June 8, 2009 at 8:30pm

The circle is held on the top of Rotaract Hill on Terminus Road Seven Hills NSW, just next to the train station. Getting there is easy. If you take the train, the hill is less than five minutes walk (and easily visible from the station). If you drive, there is plenty of parking available both at the base of the hill and across Terminus Road. Full Moon info here, and Full Moon FAQ here or for other details, email Jo

Euphoria 2009:
The Magick Within

Queen's Birthday Weekend
5 - 8 June, 2009
1 - 1 1/2 hrs North of Melbourne, VIC

Click here for more information...
Night beckons and the moon shines down upon the circle, where the sacred fire burns and pagans soon shall dance. Magick stirs within as we take the path to the witching ground, a Shaman's road to remembrance of magicks past and magicks yet to come...

Holly Frost ~ Yule 2009
19 - 21 June, 2009

Springbrook Mountain
Gold Coast Hinterland, QLD

Holly Frost QLD
You and your family are Invited to our community Yule celebration up in the mist of Springbrook Mountain, Gold Coast Hinterland. Be with family and community while we celebrate the winter solstice together. All meals included, markets on Sunday, accommodation, dorm style, activities and prizes, story tellers, pantomime skit, family friendly activities, Warlocks Brew, Egg Nog and Yule Log!

When: From 3pm Friday, 19th-21st June
Where: Springbrook Mountain ~ Gold Coast Hinterland.
Cost: Adult $120, Concession & Uni $110, School age $90, Under school age free.

Stall holders should include your stall information with the registration form. Send the words "Holly Frost rego form" in an email to Belinda at:

All other enquiries...
Contact:  Lisa 0407 661 118
Website:  PAN Inc QLD

An initiative of Pagan Awareness Network Inc (NSW) Queensland.

Yule 2009
10 - 12 July, 2009
Waterfall, NSW

Yule 2009
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Our Yule Gathering is a family friendly celebration of the Midwinter Solstice. Expect a weekend full of workshops, ritual, feasting and merriment to mark the Winter solstice.

Goddess Journey to Bali
13th-19th September, 2009

Goddess Journey to Bali
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(then click on "Events")
Join us on this wonderful journey to Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali, for a week of spiritual connection with yourself, each other and the local community. This island is one of the places in the world where the Goddess is part of daily life.

Australian Wiccan Conference
18th-20th September 2009
South Australia

AWC 2009
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Proudly hosted by Pagan Alliance SA Inc.

Last held in Adelaide in 2000, the AWC returns to a venue in the lovely Adelaide hills, providing an opportunity for practitioners of many different paths to share and extend their knowledge through a variety of Rituals, workshops, forums and discussions. Information about costs etc. are now up on our Costs and Registration Page. Please note that places are limited to 98 Full Weekend Passes as well as 20 Day Passes (Saturday only).

Early Bird Discount is available if booked before 1st August.

Australian Goddess Conference
30, 31 Oct & 1 Nov 2009
Gold Coast, QLD

Goddess Conference
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Be welcome... Come join us as we immerse ourselves in Ceremony, Ritual, Song, Music, Dance, Creative Play, Spoken Word, Laughter & Five Flames of the Sacred Temple of Magdalena.

The Druid's Dreaming Event
Saturday November 14, 2009
Adelaide, SA

The Druid's Dreaming Event
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What the world needs is Magic, Music and Dreams...

The Druid's Dreaming is a one day event featuring a Medieval Fair throughout the day with information, food and goods stalls etc, with musicians scheduled throughout the day and culminating in a Night Concert. Featuring Wendy Rule, Lizzy Rose, Damh the Bard, Rob McDade, Burn'Collect, RavenWolf, Jamie McPherson, White Rhino, Ironwood, The Foundry & more!

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Tibetan Lentil Soup

Submitted by Gwyneira Morgana, "This is a classic from the folks at Moosewood (a famous vegetarian restaurant in the USA) …a hearty lentil soup that's perfect with crusty bread!!!"
1 1/2 cups dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
6 cups water
1 Tablespoon canola or other vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 fresh chile, seeded and finely minced
1 carrot, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 potato, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 28-oz. can tomatoes, undrained (about 3 cups)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Bring water and lentils to a boil in a non-aluminum soup pot. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the onions, garlic and chile for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, coriander, and cumin and sauté for another minute, stirring to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat and set aside.

When the lentils are tender, coarsely chop the tomatoes right in the can and stir them into the soup pot. Add the chopped cilantro, salt, and the sautéed vegetables. Cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.

Samhain Apple Walnut Braid

This braided loaf symbolizes death and is usually made around the day of the dead. Widows used to cut off their braids, and lay them in the graves of their warriors in celtic lands. Later, braided breads were served at wakes, or placed in the grave as sustenance for the journey to the Summerland.

2 pkg. yeast
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 bottle (1/2 oz.) walnut flavoring
2 tbs. cinnamon
2 tbs. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. mace
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. salt
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 24 oz. jar chunky applesauce
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Proof yeast in warm water with a touch of honey. Mix dry ingredients, cut oil and walnut flavoring into flour with a pastry blender. Add fruit, nuts, eggs, honey, and yeast starter. Knead; adding flour as necessary to make dough rather dry. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1-1 1/2 hours. Punch down and divide in half, then into thirds. Roll each piece out into a fat rope and braid three together, starting in the middle, and tucking under the ends. Cover and let rise, about 30-45 minutes. preheat to 200 celsius. Bake for 45-50 minutes.


Yule Incense

2 parts Frankincense
2 parts Pine needles or resin
1 part Cedar
1 part Juniper berries

Mix and smolder at Wiccan rites on Yule or during the winter months to cleanse the home and to attune with the forces of nature amid the cold days and nights.

Rose & Rosemary Water

3 tbsp dried rosemary or 6 tbsp fresh rosemary
2 tbsp dried or fresh rose petals
4 cups water
1 Vitiman 'C' tablet(preservative)

Combine all ingredients in a small glass or enameled pan. Bring water JUST to a simmerand shut heat. Add herbs/flowers. Steep for 20 mins. This process can be repeated using the same water and more herbs/flowers for a stronger scent. Add a vitamin 'C' tablet while mixture is still warm. Cool to room temperature, then strain out the herbs. Put liquid in a bottle with a lid and dab on with cotton, OR put it in a spray bottle and spray on your face and body. This rinse will remove any traces of soap on your face. Refrigerate between uses. You can use any flower or herb of your choice, other fav's of mine are Lavender, Lemon Verbana, Witch Hazel, Marigold. I also use my Flower/Herb waters to cleanse my Altar and magical tools. ~ 2001 Barbara Morris



Introducing Watermelon our little bundle of joy! Also known as Mel, Melon, Melonball or Baby Girl. Melon is a 10 month old Lab Staffy Cross. She revealed her pagan pet attributes from a young age. Her connection with Mother Earth is expressed through her love of digging holes, laying in mud and leaving earth-based paw prints all over the house! She also shares our love of plants... she loves how they smell, how easily they can be chewed up and dissecting their parts to see what is inside! Melon's star sign is Leo and like a good Lion she enjoys a good roar at the moon and anyone who takes a walk down the back lane!

After a long day rolling in the dirt, devouring Mum's plants and barking at the kids next door, Melon curls up in her ground floor flat built by Dad and spends the night snoring and chasing rabbits (in her sleep of course!).

Rache, Andy & Watermelon xx (lick, lick)

If you would like to see your "Pagan Pet" featured here, please send a photo and a short story about your pet to

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Submissions to this newsletter are open to all pagans and pagan organisations; let us showcase your work. Submit your articles,poetry, book reviews, essays and opinions, hints and tips, information pieces and artwork. All contributors whose work is included in our newsletter receive full credit, and are linked to their website if desired.

Submitting your work for consideration is easy. Just send an inquiry or the completed work to us. We give every submission careful consideration.

The newsletter will be sent out on approx. 20/21st of each month and the closing date for submissions will be 14th of each month. More info here...

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