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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

ISSUE EIGHTEEN , VOLUME THREE: JANUARY 2008

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!

Welcome to the 18th edition of the Edge of the Circle Newsletter. This newsletter has come about as an effort to reach out to the Pagan/ Occult community (particularly in Seattle where we are based) to inform the community of what events are happening at our store. I've got great plans for this newsletter. Hopefully, as time goes by, it will only get bigger and better. Without further ado, welcome, and enjoy.

Regards,

Erica (Raven) Branch-Butler,

Editrix

WHO WE ARE:

Edge of the Circle Books is Seattle's resource for Paganism & the Occult. This newsletter seeks to provide the Seattle community with a place to list events, post articles, and do a bit of networking. We are at: 701 E. Pike St, corner of Boylston Ave., just two blocks west of Broadway, on Capitol Hill. Edge of the Circle Books strives to be everything that you could want in a Magickal Pagan store.

Open 7 days a week, Noon till" 9pm.

Call: 206-PAN-1999

**

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

Special thanks to :

Maxine Sanders, Mogg Morgan and Janice Van Cleve for permissions and articles!

LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION FOR THE NEW YEAR? RAVEN'S SUGGESTIONS:

We carry more than 150 tarot decks and oracles-- also, pendulums, scrying bowls and mirrors, Ouija boards, Coffee divination kits, Runes, I Ching Sets, plus books on all of the above and more. I daresay you'll be able to find whatever you'd like to buy for the Occultist in your life!

**

NEW STUFF:

We have a few of the new calendars left! Get 'em before they go.

New Greco-Roman Statuary has arrived--, marble finish cast in resin: Aphrodite, Demeter.

New Ancient Egyptian Statuary has also come in , resin, colored (like as in the Book of the Dead) Ra in His Barque, Auset, and a really good Osiris, Green-faced. Very traditional , well made pieces.

We are also carrying a new line of Handmade, triple dipped, coated in resin incense from JonB. They are excellent, and reasonably priced ($3.00 for 16 sticks) and come in the following blends:

Copal, Myrrh, Frankincense, Spiritual Blend and Bayberry.

ARTICLE: NEW YEAR TRADITIONS

by Janice Van Cleve

Happy New Year! At twelve midnight Eastern time, the ball will drop in New York’s Times Square. At twelve midnight Pacific time, the Seattle Space Needle will explode in colorful fireworks. In Philadelphia, Mummers in lavish costumes will parade down the city’s streets, while in Pasadena, college football teams will vie for the Rose Bowl cup.

Unfortunately in the United States the turning of the calendar year is often marked by drunken parties – sadly too often followed by DUI arrests or even tragedy. However, many folks turn to cooking instead of alcohol to mark the occasion. In the southern states, eating black eyed peas and hog jowls or ham is a good luck tradition. Cabbage, too, is said to symbolize money and therefore prosperity. Kissing strangers and friends is also traditional at the stroke of midnight in the United States but in Switzerland they kiss everybody three times and exchange hugs all around.

All over the world as December 31st clicks over into January 1st, people celebrate the arrival of the new year in different ways. In Holland, donuts are a traditional food on New Year’s Day as they symbolize the unending circle of the year. The Dutch also burn their Christmas trees on this day and launch fire works. In Spain and Mexico, people eat twelve grapes at midnight in a ritual meant to secure good luck for the next twelve months.

Greeks celebrate the feast of St. Basil on January 1st. One of their practices is to bake a cake called Vassilopitta. A silver or gold coin is baked inside the cake and whoever finds it will have good luck for the coming year. Danes break old dishes on the doorsteps of their friends on New Years night. Many broken dishes at your front door are a symbol that you have many friends. The French, according to a local French chef speaking on KUOW this week, start a leisurely gourmet dinner around 8:00 pm and don’t finish until midnight. Gotta love those French!

New Years is the most important holiday in Japan as it symbolizes renewal.

“Forget-the-past-year” parties, called bonenkai, bid farewell to the problems and concerns of the past year. Grudges are forgiven and misunderstandings are healed. In Buddhist temples, the gongs are struck 108 times to expel the 108 types of human weakness. Many Japanese send postcards for New Years. Ecuadorians forget the past year by making a small scarecrow stuffed with newspapers and firecrackers. At midnight, the family lights the dummy to blow up the past.

In Scotland it is believed that the first person to cross the threshold on January 1st and who brings a lump of coal for the fire or shortbread for the table signals good luck to the house. The song “Auld Lang Syne” – meaning “old long since” or “times gone by” comes from Scotland. Its verses lament the drifting away of old friends and promises to maintain better connection in the coming year. Bandleader Guy Lombardo first popularized this song at a New Year’s Eve party in the Roosevelt Hotel in New York in 1929, just after the stock market crash. It is still today sung at new year’s midnight in bars and at parties across the USA.

Company bosses in Taiwan host a big meal on New Years Eve and a lottery in which everybody wins at least $50 and may even win a Mercedes! But not all are lucky. After the boss gives his speech, he spins a lazy susan in the center of the table to indicate the feast may begin. On the lazy susan is a whole roast chicken complete with head. If the head stops at your plate, you will be fired after Chinese New Year.

The date when the new year begins is not the same the world over. Muslims use a different calendar than in the West and generally mark the day more quietly. Egyptians await the appearance of Sirius, the Dog Star, in the heavens or the new crescent moon. Iranians celebrate the new year on the first day of spring and decorate their homes with wheat, barley, and lentils. These are kept for thirteen days, then thrown into the nearest river. Punjabis in Pakistan celebrate on the thirteenth of April wearing new clothes and turbans. Unfortunately this year with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, there will be little to celebrate in that country.

The timing of the Muslim new year most closely follows its historical origins. The holiday began in ancient Babylon over 4000 years ago.

Babylonians began their new year with the appearance of the first new moon after the vernal equinox, which corresponds to the Jewish Passover and the Christian Easter. It was the Roman Senate in 153 BCE that first declared January 1st to be the beginning of the new year. This was a completely arbitrary assignment that was tampered with repeatedly until 46 BCE when Julius Caesar re-declared it for January 1. To synchronize the calendar with the sun, it is said he had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days! You can do that if you are a Roman dictator!

The Christian church opposed the celebration of the new year because it was considered a pagan practice. However, like many pagan practices, it persisted, and so the church finally adopted it as a feast day around 1600 CE. At Vatican II, the feast day was abandoned by the Catholic Church, and so it remains today a purely secular (can we say “pagan”?) holiday.

The Babylonians also started the practice of making new years resolutions.

One of the most common was to return tools borrowed over the past year. In America, new years resolutions often take the form of the negative: quit smoking, quit drinking, lose weight, get organized, etc. These resolutions usually last a week, if that. Jennifer Vanasco, a syndicated columnist, recently encouraged more positive resolutions that we really want to do like take that trip we’ve always wanted or learning to dance or a new language.

I don’t go to parties on New Year’s Eve anymore. I can see the Seattle Space Needle from my bedroom window. I pour a glass of scotch, snuggle into bed, and read a book. At the stroke of midnight when the Needle erupts in fireworks, I toast all those brave souls standing out in the cold and rain, then turn off the light and go to sleep. My own unique New Year’s tradition actually begins the next morning.

Early on the first day of the new year, when the sky is still dark, I get up and throw on my clothes. With the faintest light just beginning to appear over the Cascade Mountains to the east, I walk to the biggest body of water I can conveniently reach, which these days is Lake Washington. There on the pier at the end of Madison Avenue I can watch the dawning of the new day.

(Little did I know, but the Koreans do this as well.) Then I pray to the ancient spirits of this land – the spirits of the Samish peoples: Makah, Quileute, Stillaquamish, Muckleshoot, Lummi, S’Klallum, Duwamish, Tualip, Suquamish, Puyallup, Quinault, and many others. This was their land before we invaded it. This was the home of their ancestors and their gods. As a visitor, I offer homage and respect to these spirits: raven and whale, mighty volcano and lashing wind, salmon and Earth Mother. I cast a stone which has graced my altar and received my prayers into the water. When the ripples have ceased, I turn and walk along the beach to see if a new stone will call me to take it home. In this way I renew my proper place in resonance with the native order that preceded me here and which still whispers on the passing breeze, laps at the water’s edge, and lives in the rooted soil.

At home the new stone goes onto my altar. Then I shower, welcome the stone in ritual, and make my breakfast. That’s about the time it starts raining again. After all, whether native or invader, we all get wet here in Seattle!

Janice Van Cleve arrived in Seattle in August 1967 and loved this place so

much she settled here . . . by leave of the spirits whose home this is.

Copyright 2007.

**

BOOK REVIEW:

An Appreciative Tribute for the Release of “Fire Child”, The Life and Magic of Maxine Sanders ‘Witch Queen’, by Maxine Sanders

by Mogg

‘Maxine just told me that she can no longer remember what is in her book; and when she looks at the extract from the opening chapter of her book we’ve put on the Amazon site, she says "God, did I write that?" "Yeah, you did!" I say to her, remembering that authors are often so close to their own work, they forget what's it like.

I first met Maxine some years ago at a Pagan Federation Conference in London through my wife who was a past member of the 'Temple of the Corn King'. Maxine was a bit of a legendary presence although not then part of my own particular magical journey. Even so I have a treasured copy of her earlier book Maxine the Witch Queen. I particularly like the 1970s cover which I showed as part of a lecture on occult publishing at that conference.

These days I'm happy to self-identify as a Pagan because I think it covers a multitude of sins. Interestingly Maxine says that she is a witch and not a Pagan. Of course the rumour mill has it that Maxine has returned to the Catholic church, for Catholic Church, read 'Liberal Catholic' - one of many organisation that benefited from Maxine's support all the way through the heady days of the 'Witch Queen' and 'Witch King'. All this is documented in this spiffing new biography.

I enjoyed Maxine's earlier "biography", despite it being not quite my style of magic. Before that I'd been more drawn if anything to the Alex Sanders side of the equation. There is/was a kind of orthodoxy amongst the Pagan world, that it was all Alex's show really. Maxine was not seen as important compared with the 'Svengali' Alex. But was she really just a pawn in his hands?

When I met Maxine, Alex was already dead. I knew that because I was offered some of his magical record to publish, nothing came of that apart from the odd death threat! So I definitely knew Alex was dead and I really didn't know what Maxine was doing.

Having read Maxine's earlier biography, I thought that her story could do with a new appraisal of her life and work. Occult books in the 1970s had to stick to certain conventions. There are things that they had to do which were important at the time. Thirty-five years or so later, things have moved on quite a bit and there is room for hindsight, re-appraisal, or for saying things that could not be said back then, and we all know what they are.

I don’t know how it came about but the task fell into my lap. It was a task I was very glad to take on. My vision was that, yes, the stuff that was in the earlier biographies was great, but it needed more. It needed the missing bits reinstated. It would all benefit from some hindsight, wisdom and context.

Maxine is definitely a bit of a dark horse. Kim and I travelled to her wonderful hideaway in deepest Snowdonia, one of my very favourite parts of Wales. The story of how she fetched up on the slopes of mount Snowdon, is told in great, often heartbreaking detail in Fire Child. Her home is an occultist's dream; a substantial stone cottage full of books, in a magical Welsh landscape. In every corner one glimpses a piece of furniture once used in the rituals. Maxine's beautiful whippet, Bilbo, guards some stunning regalia, magical swords, lots of fascinating things really.

At the top of the stairs sits a big chest full to the brim with photographs. I spent a whole very pleasurable afternoon going through every single one. Over a drink I asked how the new writing was going, "Have you actually written anything?"

Maxine replies with typical understatement "Oh well, I’ve written a little bit." When we got started, it all just flowed. Maxine turned out to be a natural writer. Maybe that was a potential she wasn’t aware of. If that's so then there's my role as publisher, which we might say is under the aegis of Hermes - the communicator. It’s magick too, setting people in motion. I acted as a sounding board, letting Maxine know how much I was enjoying what I read. That's the way I do it anyways - for me its all about whether I enjoy the story, if it moves me. If it does then I keep saying "I like that, tell me more".

There are lots of fantastic, wonderful episodes in this book Fire Child. There are also some real heartbreakers. Some things only briefly sketched in the earlier books are finally resolved. What first struck me was the personal cost back then somebody such as Maxine pays for revealing what they believe. She entered the world of magick in her teens, back then in the 1960s it was risky to stick your head over the parapet.

The earlier books spoke some about the way the police and media hounded Maxine in particular after that first schlock horror headline in a local rag. In the new book Fire Child you learn things that the publisher of the earlier editions would not have wanted the author to say. They were cut because they were just too painful, just too real. People were just beginning to realise that the police could be real pigs, but just how bad they could be will horrify some I'm sure. All the more extraordinary that someone can come through something like that as strong and as committed as Maxine undoubtedly was/is.

As a publisher I don't really believe in censorship, my instinct has always been to put more in, not cut. I want witchcraft warts and all.

Towards the end of Fire Child there is another very moving passage where Maxine talks about the bitter sweet legacy of her relationship with Alex. She speaks candidly of how the work continued, even though she went through some deep personal traumas, and descending into darkness and personal hell, which included heavy drinking.

And just when you think it cannot get any worse, then it gets worse. The things that land on Maxine's plate could really drag a lesser person down. But all the way is Maxine's wonderful voice, through the good times and the bad.

You'll read the book and you think "Wow! What an incredible journey!" And that journey isn’t over!

Even though this book is about Maxine, it is of course also about Alex, and he comes through BIG! You get the whole story about Alex, from the sublime ... to the ridiculous. For example the point at which Alex confesses to Maxine about his homosexuality, something that she probably long guessed. When 'Paul' left the coven to marry he also left a long standing and secret relationship with Alex.

As Nigel Bourne reminded us at the recent launch, Alex subsisted on a diet of chip butties. Alex was a typical northern bloke of the time, and it's this in my opinion, and not his suppressed homosexuality that explains his often overforgiveable lapses in care. For example he never even bothered to visit Maxine when she was hospitalised during Maya's birth, but yes he also took the opportunity for a non stop sex party! Before this we see Alex in turmoil, tears in his eyes, confessing to Maxine that his life is ruined and the final indignity "He’s even taken the chip pan with him!"

So we all have a lot of good jokes about Alex. Let’s not underestimated the power of humour and jokes. As Maxine tells you in Fire Child, Alex was a charlatan and a magus. In the old model, he was the Wise Man and the Fool. Both things really shine out from the book.

It is a real shame that Alex isn’t in the flesh to see this done. When you read Fire Child you see a different side to Alex, you really do. I think that if he had been alive, Alex would have been so very proud of the appearance of Fire Child. I had a few strange dreams about Alex while working on this book. So I suspect, wherever he is now he is going to be pretty happy about all this.

In Fire Child Maxine reveals some very painful truths. It is a controversial memoir; there is much here to provoke and make people talk. Maxine has squared the circle, coming through with a powerful sense of joy that Alex existed and that together they did the things that they did. So I am telling you, when you read this book, you are really going in for one hell of a trip.

About the Author: Mogg Morgan is a former member of the OTO, a founder of the Oxford Golden Dawn Occult Society and a Zonule holder of east/west Tantrik order AMOOKOS. His daytime job is CEO of innovative ‘new edge’ publisher Mandrake of Oxford, Recently described as a ‘respected literary catalyst’, he is responsible for the discovery of many new authors, including his friend and mentor Jan Fries. He was a Wellcome research student at Oxford, where his teacher was the late Professor B K Matilal, a widely respected expert on South Asian rational thought. He has published several books and articles, including, 'Isis in India'; 'Ayurveda: Medicine of the Gods'; 'The English Mahatma (a Tankhem novel)'; as (‘Katon Shual’) a book on 'Sexual Magick'. His most recent book is: Tankhem: Seth & Egyptian Magick' to be followed shortly by - 'The Bull of Ombos: Seth and Egyptian Magick II' and 'Pan's Road' (a tankhem novel).

http://www.mogg-morgan.blogspot.com/

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