Thursday, August 29, 2013

American Horror Story - and a Book on Enchantment

Now, I live up the road from Hollywood, and used to work in the industry, so I'm not making too much of a big deal about this... but I have to admit, it made my day yesterday.

One of my Facebook friends suggested that I watch a promo piece for season 3 of "American Horror Story". Now, I must confess that I've never watched the show - my wife is not fond of the horror genre, and I rarely watch TV alone - but after watching the promo, I might just have to watch season three...

You see, while the promo piece is mainly still shots of cast members (the brief video bit at the beginning does intrigue me...) while the host talks about it, one pic, at around 1:54, really caught my eye. You see, Emma Roberts, of Nancy Drew, Scream 4 and Hotel For Dogs fame, is pictured during a lunch-break on set with a copy of my book, "Enchantment: The Witch's Art of Manipulation by Gesture, Gaze and Glamour" in her arms - you can clearly see the title in the higher-res images.

Now this picture, and the others from the same set, have been popping up all over the place - this version is from the website Just Jared - but the photos can also be found illustrating articles about season three of AHS around the world, including the UK's Daily Mail newspaper. It is impossible to know exactly why she is carrying it, for it could be a prop, a guide to the gestures used in enchantment to aid her acting, or she could just like my books. But one thing is for sure - it made me feel really good to see it in the hands of someone who is portraying a member of a coven where the female characters are said to be portrayed as strong, independent and empowered. Also, the cast sounds like a great ensemble for this season. I just might have to watch it...
For the curious, here's a link to that promo video on YouTube: Season 3 Promo for American Horror Story.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Training Coven opens its doors to new students

A little over a year ago, the Ancestors made it clear to us that there is a need for us to provide a greater service to the Art, and against all common sense and sanity, we chose to comply with their requests.

So it is that we brought into being a new teaching coven, Agoriadau Tri, part of the Y Ffordd Wen Tradition of Welsh Witchcraft. This coven is a sister to Briar Rose, but is otherwise completely autonomous. As the focus of Briar Rose is to do the Work, so the focus of Agoriadau Tri is to teach the basics, to share the Mysteries of the Crooked Path to those who are willing and able to pass beyond Her Gates.

Having successfully completed the first year-and-a-day course, we are again opening the doors to a limited number of local and remote students. Membership will require a commitment of the traditional year and a day. But do not contact us directly to request that you be considered for membership – all such direct requests will be refused.

Below, you will find information on how those who are interested may make their desire known, and students will be chosen from those who follow the directions given. There are no guarantees of acceptance, and once accepted, no guarantees that initiation will follow – as the old saying makes clear, “many are called, but few are chosen”.

There will be a certain number of local and distance learning positions available in the coven, and those interested in studying with us can make their interest known by following the directions below. Please note that those accepted for training will be committing to the following:

  1. Attending all classes (for local students) and handing in all homework, unless a good reason can be provided
  2.  Maintaining the confidentiality of the Coven and fellow students
  3.  Reading the required reading material for each section of the training
  4.  A materials contribution of $10 per month will be requested of students. For local students, this will cover the cost of consumables used in teaching (candles, incense, refreshments etc.), and for distance students this will cover the cost of making the material available via live video streaming and other methods.


Local students will be invited to attend weekly classes and the eight classic Sabbats. Distance students will be required to study with the aid of written material and video and audio recordings, and will be invited to attend the eight classic Sabbats if they are visiting the Los Angeles area at the time.

 The Coven will be teaching material for the Crooked Path as practiced by the Y Ffordd Wen Tradition of Welsh Witchcraft. This involves the practice known by such names as “Traditional Witchcraft”, “The Nameless Art”, “The Cunning Craft” and “The Old Persuasion”, which will be expressed through the Myths and Lore of the Welsh Celtic Mysteries as found in the Mabinogion, though it can be expressed through the Mystery of any religion’s more esoteric aspects outside of Coven practice. In other words, we will be focusing on examples and Lore from Wales, but in your own practice it can be used with the myths and lore of your current spirituality.

 Please note that while this process is aimed at bringing students to initiation on the Crooked Path, there is no guarantee that if accepted you will achieve that aim. All students will be assessed on their merits, and those who do not go through to initiation in the Crooked Path will be assisted in finding where their path lies.

 In return for the commitment of the students, we in turn make the following commitments:

  1.   To teach the material to the best of our ability
  2.   To provide initiation to those who fulfill the requirements
  3.   To assist all others to set foot firmly on their Path
  4.   To maintain the confidentiality of all students


This is the way to make known your interest in studying with us. Approaching us by any other means will result in refusal.

·         Send an email to – this email address will be active until the end of August, so make your request before then.

·         If you are the friend of one or more existing members of the tradition, you may wish to submit your request to them, so that they can forward it to us with their endorsement. You should still use email, and follow the directions given below.

·         The email must include the following information:

  1. Your full legal name
  2.  Your address
  3.  Whether you wish to be a local or distance student
  4.  Any prior experience, training or coven work with any Witchcraft tradition, including Wiccan traditions
  5.  Your favorite books on Witchcraft (note: you do not get “extra points” for liking my books)
  6.  Why you want to study with us
  7.  What got you interested in Witchcraft?
  8.  Any other information you feel may be useful or relevant

·          Please be honest and do not exaggerate your experiences. Any untruths that are discovered will bring your association with us to an immediate end. You do not have to be already experienced, nor do you need to be a complete newbie – we just want to know where you are coming from.

·          After a period of reflection, those who are selected to move on to the next step will be contacted. All others will receive an email informing them that they were not selected. No other communication on this matter will be made – NOTE: If you are not successful this time, you are welcome to try again when we next announce openings. Not being selected does not mean you are not “worthy”… it is possible that we will receive more requests than we can accept, in which case we may have to turn away candidates who are perfectly suitable.

·         We realize that, to some, this process may seem exclusive and “elitist”, but the simple fact is that not all paths are suited to every person, and some discernment is required to ensure that the needs of both student and teacher are met. If you do not like the selection process, do not submit yourself to it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Books, PantheaCon, and the Joy of Teaching

we got back from PantheaCon on Monday evening, exhausted, but happy. For anyone who is not familiar with PantheaCon, it is a Pagan Convention held in San Jose, CA, over the President's Day weekend each year. It is the largest Pagan event in the US, with some 2,500 attendees, and a ton of fun.

This year, I launched my latest book, "Enchantment: The Witch's Art of Manipulation Through Gesture, Gaze and Glamour", with a workshop of the same name. Arriving fifteen minutes before the start, I almost didn't get in to my own workshop, as the room was full to capacity, and I'm told over 50 people were turned away. The workshop - an overview distilled from the four two-hour workshops I taught in order to put together and test the material for the book - was well received, and a large number of books were sold, both the new one and copies of my other books.

I also taught two other workshops over the weekend. My "Bringing Lore to Life" one was early on Monday morning, but despite that, it was still packed, and apparently I was in fine form, telling tales both classical (the story of Cerridwen and Gwion Back) and personal (tales from the year I carried Sacred King for my tradition). Once again, plenty of books were sold, including all of the remaining copies of Enchantment.

In between my two solo workshops, I had the honor of co-presenting "Working the Well of Magick" with Orion Foxwood. Orion told me that the only other person he has co-presented with is R. J. Stewart, so the pressure was definitely on, but the packed room (the biggest one in PantheaCon) responded well as we shared the art and philosophy of the Well from our different perspective - mine from traditional Witchcraft, his from Faery Seership and Appalachian Conjure. We finished with a group working, where all four hundred and some participants danced the serpentine around well and stang, and threw their coins in the well, and tied a rag or a sttring on the stang. Feedback afterwards was extremely positive, and both Orion and I are keen to co-present more workshops in future.

But PantheaCon isn't just about teaching and selling books... We enjoyed several workshops, notably Christopher Penczak's "The Mighty Dead", and our coveners were blown away by the Morrigan ritual. WE all had a blast listening to Wendy Rule, such an incredible singer! Most importantly, we immersed ourselves in the wonderland that was the vendor room, and spent plenty of time at the bar, people-watching and chatting with friends old and new. Besides time spent with Orion and his fiance Aubrey, we also got to chat with Dave Finnin, Ed Fitch, Dr. E (Rev Hyperion), Tommie Starchild and Dave Shore, Oberyn Kunning, Oriana, Chris Penczak, Mojo and Sparrow from the Wigglian Way, Faelyn, and I was introduced to Selena Fox. Jo-Ann and Tony Mierzwicki were there too - Jo-Ann is my layout artist and self-appointed slave-driver (she bugs me until I get stuff done), and her handsome husband is the best Pagan photographer around, when he isn't busy teaching his own workshops, on Graeco-Egyptian magick and related subjects.

Meanwhile, back at the covenstead, our great experiment with the training coven is doing well. So well, in fact, that it is changing our whole tradition. Now we find that we have a name for our tradition, Y Ffordd Wen ("The Milky Way"... the original crooked path), and several dedicants working towards initiation. The live video streaming for long-distance students continues to work extremely well, and at slightly over half-way through the course, we have had surprisingly few drop-outs, and comparatively little drama. And I can definitely say that we are learning from our students as much as they are learning from us!

Now to start planning for next year, PantheaCon's 20th anniversary!

Friday, January 18, 2013

New Book on Enchantment

Yesterday I put the finishing touches to my latest book, and sent the manuscript of to Jo-Ann, my layout artist. This weekend I will be takig the photos that will illustrate the book.

This book is a little different from my other books - my first two tomes were on the Ancient Egyptian Mysteries, while the rest have been about Traditional Witchcraft from a Welsh Celtic perspective. But this new book is carefully written to be about as generic as possible, tradition-wise.

"Enchantment: The Witch's Art of Manipulation Through Gesture, Gaze and Glamour" is about technique, pure and simple. It does not borrow examples from antiquity, nor does it provide rituals or lore to dress those techniques up so they are part of a specific path or tradition. In fact, I hope that readers will find they can incorporate these practices into their Craft, whatever tradition they follow.

The book is about manipulation. All magick is manipulation of one thing or another, but in this book, my focus is on manipulating, controlling, or guiding people. It does have a strong message on ethics, but ultimately, it is about controlling yourself, the universe, and the people around you. After recovering from my heart attack in a way my doctors described as "miraculous", I have a lot of faith in magick, and it all stems from my own personal experience.

The book grew out of a series of workshops on enchantment, that I shared with groups around the world, and I will be launching it - along with a workshop on Enchantment - at this year's PantheaCon, on President's Day weekend. I'm looking forward to seeing how it is received.