The Joy of Hex – Part Two -Witchcraft

From prehistoric times some form of ‘witchcraft’ has existed, but then, unlike now, the casting of spells was more to do with the art of healing than any association with devilry. Most ‘witches’ were herbalists, wise women, or, ‘cunning folk’, who were adept at making potions to cure a range of illnesses. Often providing charms and offerings alongside incantations to protect livestock from predators by using these ‘blessings’ to keep them safe.

The belief in the power of magic has existed since mankind created social settlements where large numbers of people lived and worked. Fearing the forces of nature, inevitably, someone would try to make the unknown less scary by using rituals and spells to ward off evil spirits, whether natural or supernatural. Cave drawings often show people dancing wearing animal costumes alongside images of a ‘witch’ as seen in the photograph below.

Once, such ‘magical’ folk were revered, but as time went on people became wary of these magicians that could seemingly perform supernatural feats. From the 7th century, attitudes changed and terms such as ‘black magic’ spread fear into the hearts of god-fearing folk. With Christianity taking over from paganism as the main religion, it wasn’t long before the church found such powerful shaman a threat. Witch hunts in the name of God became a way to frighten people into turning against their own to preserve the status quo and get rid of annoying, possibly subversive women and men in the community. These poor people didn’t stand a chance against the prejudices and hatred from fanatics who turned communities against someone who was not quite like everyone else. So began the long centuries of demonising the innocent.

During medieval times being accused of witchcraft was a death sentence. Anyone who had a black cat, a mole, some kind of physical tick or blemish, and could conjure up an effective poultice for a wound or boil, would be suspected of being in league with the devil. The caricature of the old hag with a broomstick became the norm.  Wise women in a village were the subject of scorn and accused of evil deeds.

 In the UK, The Witch Finder General, Matthew Hopkins, made it his life’s work to seek out and destroy those accused of witchcraft. Through gruesome torture, he and his allies gained forced confessions from terrified men and women who would often be accused of the crime by friends or family. From the 15th to the 16h century over 100,000 people were hanged or burned at the stake for being witches.

This fear of sorcery lasted well into the eighteenth century when the cruel and unjust system of identifying a witch was abolished, courtesy of – The Enlightenment. A period in history which advocated the use of reason over superstition, and in 1736 the laws against witchcraft were repealed.

Witches and warlocks exist to this day but are no longer seen as dangerous. Often known as Wiccans, these people regard themselves as spiritual folk following pagan beliefs, incorporating mystical sorcery such as divination, herbalism and, Tarot reading. Casting spells not to summon demons or ghouls but to help find a true love, get promoted at work, or simply to engage more with nature and the universe.

You can read more about Wiccan magic in this article:

 https://wiccanspells.info/wiccan-pagan-articles/different-types-magick/

The idea of possessing supernatural powers is deep-rooted within our psyche. Whether it comes from a religious source or from the belief in our own need to connect with natural forces, magic and the casting of spells will never go away. Now, we accept it as part of our everyday world, whether it is reading our astrological predictions or buying Himalayan Salt Lamps, we need to believe that we are more than the sum of our parts, and can control the elements to do our bidding. Does it work? It might. The power is in the belief that it will.

Go to this blog to find out how to cast spells for good luck here:

Since it is Halloween, I thought I’d post an extract from one of my ghostly horror short stories – Daub – it’s in my anthology Glimmer, which just happens to be on offer for only 99c! You can purchase a copy here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H89AN1M

From Daub:

Isabelle fell back onto her ankles and covered her mouth with her hands. She heard a muffled sobbing come from the place where she had seen the child squatting the night before, and shuffled away. She looked at the wall. The yellowing plaster moved in and out like sickly lungs and Isabelle saw a small mouth appear. It opened and closed as if trying to suck in air and said, ‘When can I come out?’

‘What? Who’s speaking?’

‘It’s me mama, Roland. Can I come out now, it’s too hot and I can’t breathe. Mama? Mama, where are you? Mama!’ The child’s voice became hysterical and it shrieked the last, ‘Mama’ so loud that Isabelle thought her eardrums would bleed. She felt something tickle her wrist, looked down and saw the imprints of five small fingers on her skin.

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If you want to know more about my work, visit my website: 

or my Amazon page: 

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Light part two – Religion

I don’t know when the first religion was created, but I think one of the first things that we humans worshipped was light. Darkness is not for us. Our eyes are not sensitive enough to see in the blackness of night. It stands to reason that when the sun appears we should want to celebrate its glory.

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From Ancient Egyptians and Aztec sun gods, to modern day Druids worshiping Alban Hefin the sun king during the Summer Solstice sunrise over Stonehenge, our need for light is deep routed in our physche. We need it to grow our crops, to warm us and to make us feel happy. No wonder many images of deities show rings of dazzling light around the heads of those who are revered.

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Many religions past and present have celebrated the joys of light. Festivals and special feast days such as Diwali, a Hindu tradition where families fill their homes and gardens with candles and lamps to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, to ignite wisdom in our hearts and bring hope to our darkest hours.

A devotee lights oil lamps at a religious ceremony during the Diwali or Deepavali festival at a Hindu temple in Colombo

The Jewish festival Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Hellenistic Syrians. In honour of the reclaiming of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem the festival begins with the lighting of the shamash candle in the menorah.  Each night of the festival a new candle is added, lit by the middle candle, shamash until all nine candles are lit.

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In Christianity, a bright star led the three Wise Men to the birth place of Jesus. At Christmas, the time to celebrate His birth, we decorate our houses with strings of cloloured lights not only as a symbol of that lone star, but to banish the dreary dark days of winter and bring us cheer.

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Humans may believe in many different religions, but I believe we all celebrate in much the same way by using light to give praise for what we have and what we can become.

So, why not lift your head to the sky, rejoice in all the good things that you have, and let the sun kiss your skin. After all, today is supposed to be:

#InternationalDayOfHappiness

 

Look out for Part Three: The Light Within.

 

New Release!!

Merry Christmas!!!

Just in time for the festive season, I have managed to finish and publish The Chronicles of Mayer – parts one and two. They are prequel stories for The Song of Forgetfulness Dystopian/Sci-fi series and give insight into how the world of NotSoGreatBritAlbion came to exist as it does in the books.

There are more stories to follow so I will be releasing them as and when I complete the manuscripts. I takes time as I have to do a lot of research into global warming, diseases, ice cap melting etc in order to get the facts right. I tell you, writing Sci-fi isn’t as easy as you might think. Creating future worlds is so creative, but I do need to male sure it is credible, hence the research.

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Here is the link and blurb for The Chronicles of Mayer:

 An Apocalyptic tale in The Song of Forgetfulness series.

A story of survival and courage in a devastated world.

When mother nature turns against mankind in the latter stages of the 21st century sending hurricanes, earthquakes, and deadly viruses to wipe out the human race, a small community of Buddhist monks and scientists are forced to evacuate Mahabharata House on the disused Lakenheath airbase, as rising waters engulf their home.

With many humans and animals drowned it is up to devotees Gopi Jnanamaya Kosha and Gopala Arjuna Bhutapanchaka, cow herds at Mahabharata, to protect the sacred bovines and take them to a safe haven in the highlands of Scotland.

During their arduous journey on foot and hoof, they meet other refugees of the catastrophic flood who join them on their mission to survive and build a sanctuary for themselves and the cows on the mountains of the Trossachs.

Tension mounts as dwindling food supplies cause friction and distrust amongst the disparate group. Their trek north becomes fraught with danger as hungry survivors clash and rogue soldiers try to butcher the holy herd.

As dangerous lightning storms, traitors and disease threaten to wreck their pilgrimage, Mayer and Arjuna must do battle not only with the elements but those who would kill to get their hands on the last remaining cattle in the ever diminishing island of Great Britain.

This is an accompaniment to The Song of Forgetfulness Sci-fi/Dystopian/Action Adventure series.

 

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful New Year!

What is your book about?

During National Book Week in the UK, I visited a school to give a talk and a teenager asked me, “What is your book about?”

Well, I opened my mouth and nothing came out.

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Mental images flashed through my brain, but no words.

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I stammered a bit and after a few seconds that felt like hours I managed to blurt out a rough synopsis of m YA dystopian/sci-fi book series, The Song of Forgetfulness. ‘Echoes from the Lost ones and the second book, A Silence Heard, is about a future world where mankind’s numbers have dwindled due to climate change, famine and plague.

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Animals are all but extinct and those that are left in NotsoGreatBritAlbion, are divided into forests dwellers and ultra hygienic City dwellers. Then there is the enemy – Agros who control the supply of food to the inhabitants. When they stop doing this and start raiding settlements to kidnap special children known as Meeks, hunger and fear prevail. The heroine, Adara, has a unique talent that she can use to call the only edible creatures left, the birds, to land. When her brother is abducted, she must leave the comforts of her hygiene home and go to look for him.’ Finishing with, ‘So, it’s a coming of age tale with a difference.’

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Needless to say, I was mortified by my response. All I did was tell them the plotline, not the content, the meaning. I began an internal dialogue as I plodded back to my car, stomach churning and armpits sweating. Well, this what I think my book is about. Overcoming hardship in the face of disaster. Finding friendship amongst so-called enemies. Discovering true potential and understanding who you are in the grand scheme of things. Knowing what strengths and weakens you have when faced with life threatening situations. Becoming the person you want to be rather than the person others think you are.

IMG_3400 (1)I drove away and thought, why did I find it so hard to answer such a simple question? Then I asked myself, is it a simple question? As the author I know the plot of my story and the characters, and what happens to them, but having read the many reviews, and how readers have interpreted my tale, I realised that there is nothing simple about the message I’m sending to potential readers. I have included issues concerning mankind’s future, how technical advances can help and hinder, how power corrupts and, that I’m not the only person qualified to say what my book is about.

I will now list a few snippets from reviews:

‘A story of trust and faith “Echoes from the Lost Ones” is an adventure that takes you to a time and place like no other.’

‘A haunting tale of survival and determination.’

‘I enjoyed how McDonagh has broken down and restructured the system of spoken language to illuminate thousands of years of evolutionary changes while still being able to communicate the basic elements of humanity – civility and good-will.’

‘A world in which morals do not exist and yet somehow this little band manage to maintain a sense of compassion and humanity. It is a fight for survival against a cruel and destructive enemy who tries to obliterate any good left on the earth.’

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Some readers saw things in my narrative that I did not. How fabulous is that? I have decided that the next time someone asks me, ‘What is your book about?” I’m going to ask them to read my novel and get back to me with the answer.

So, if you’re interested in letting me know what my book is about, you can purchase them on Amazon. Oh, and you can look at a couple of trailers too:

Book trailer 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJ-AmBW-QjQ

Book trailer 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQ8o_mBopYM

http://www.amazon.com/Echoes-Lost-Ones-Song-Forgetfulness-ebook/dp/B00CXSZIGS/ref=sr_1_1_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1408436005&sr=1-1&keywords=echoes+from+the+lost+ones

http://www.amazon.com/Silence-Heard-Song-Forgetfulness-Book-ebook/dp/B00JMPWRX2/ref=pd_sim_b_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=16567ZZQKBJ2G2VWY2J8