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ZINE REVIEWS

CYRKEL SPYNN Vol 2, Issue 1
Great to see the return of Cyrkel Spynn, a fascinating publication on pagan music and culture, which was originally around back in the 90s. The format has changed from arty handwritten fanzine to a more formal word processed layout with colour photos, but the content is in much the same spirit. This issue includes interviews with writer Philip Gardiner; The Daughters of Gaia, Gaia Consort and Polly Moller, all of whom are musicians I'm intrigued to hear more about after having read their interviews; Julia and Jon Day of Capall Bann, a publishing company focusing on paganism, folklore, mind-body-spirit and associated subjects; and Julianne Regan of All About Eve. Also included are essays by Chrichton E M Miller, Philip Gardiner and Ailean MacRath-MacPharlain on various esoteric topics, and music reviews ranging from big names such as Tori Amos, Nightwish and Blondie to obscure underground bands such as Mothburner. Anyone with an interest in alternative music and/or alternative belief systems should check out this zine. More info from enquiries@cyrkelspynn.com and also from the following websites - www.myspace.com/alancraw
http://www.freewebs.com/alancraw/
and http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/cyrkelspynn/

THE WYTCHES' STANDARD #3
From the same stable as Cyrkel Spynn, this is the journal of the Traditional Witchcraft Research Network. The intro talks about critics who scoff and claim there is no such thing as Traditional or Hereditary Witchcraft, "but for those of us on the inside and receiving these teachings, well ... we know different". I'm aware of the views of academics who argue convincingly against any form of pagan witchcraft being a genuine survival, and also that those people termed 'cunning folk' and 'charmers' did indeed exist, practising magic, divination and so forth, but did so within a Christian framework. However there is very little out there from actual practitioners of that which is known as traditional witchcraft with which to compare the evidence, as it is such a secretive movement. As I know very little about it, I'm certainly not qualified to judge whether or not the movement represents an authentic survival from ancient times. The Wytches' Standard gives away no secrets, but presents a collection of articles of interest to traditional witchcraft practitioners as well as those involved in the wider witchcraft/pagan movements and those interested in folklore or mythology. Particularly notable in this issue is an extensive 18 page, fully referenced article by Shani Oates on the practices of witchcraft in the Christian era, and also an article on Slavic folklore by Andrija Filipovic and Anne Morris, describing practises which have a definite Christian veneer but relate to such pre-/non-Christian concepts as divination and forest spirits. Philip Gardiner asks if Jesus is an impostor, and discusses the Lady of the Lake and serpent worship, whilst Ailean MacRath-MacPharlain asks whether a creation myth exists within modern paganism. Also includes 3 pages of book and magazine reviews, a page of websites related to traditional witchcraft, and a recommended reading list. A meaty and thought provoking read; contact Alan Craw at hernesmagister@yahoo.co.uk

THE WYTCHES' STANDARD #1
Since reviewing the above, I've received a couple of back issues of The Wytches' Standard. Starting with Issue 1, this includes articles by Ailean MacRath-MacPharlain on the Stang (a forked stick or pitchfork used in traditional witchcraft); the witchcraft god Goda; the rite known as Housle; the alchemical Azoth; and a taster for his forthcoming book on traditional witchcraft. Well known writer Michael Howard, editor of The Cauldron magazine and author of numerous books on various occult topics, contributes a fascinating article on the late Robert Cochrane, one of the leading figures in traditional witchcraft as practised in the modern age. Paul Fury describes the folklore of the fox and its relevance to pagans. Andrija Filipovic gives us another installment of Slavic customs, which reveal a syncretic mix of Christianity and non-Christian folk tradition. Nathaniel J Harris, in The Truth of the Black Sabbat, describes a variety of witchcraft that has far more in common with the medieval accounts of diabolic witchcraft than to the varieties of neopagan witchcraft which distance themselves from Satanism. Harris' witchcraft is a provocative and controversial mixture of anti-Christian blasphemy and lewd sexual rites; a witchcraft that rebels against taboos, not a witchcraft that aims to be accepted by mainstream society. (See above for contact info).

THE WYTCHES' STANDARD #2
In issue 2, there are essays from Ailean MacRath-MacPharlain on folk traditions concerning Saint Lucy and Lillias, and the use of the term 'Magister' within witchcraft. Michael Howard contributes an article on the hermaphrodite goat god Baphomet. There's another batch of Slavic customs from Andrija Filipovic and Anne Morris. Shani Oates writes about oak and holly lore, and there is also part one of her well-researched article on the survival of magic in the Christian era - a very interesting and informative read. From a personal perspective, I was pleased to see that the article covered Anglo-Saxon and Norse magico-religious practise, as the history of Northern European religion and magic is one of my own main areas of interest. Robin the Dart muses on witchcraft, spirituality and politics, whilst the amusingly-pseudonymed Sue Pernatral responds to Nathaniel Harris' article in the last issue. Finally there are listings of magazines, books and websites with relevance to traditional witchcraft. Contact as above.

THE WYTCHES' STANDARD #4
The latest issue of The Wytches' Standard features essays by Philip Gardiner on the Templars and Baphomet; serpent patterned swords in myth, literature and history; and serpent worship (the last of these co-authored with Gary Osborn). Robin the Dart writes a poetic and philosophical article on certain aspects of traditional witchcraft belief and ritual. Past issues have shown Shani Oates to be an author of very thorough and fully referenced articles, and her article on Lucifer in this issue is no exception. Here she puts forth the argument that despite popular perception, Lucifer is neither Satan nor the morning star.
Mike Nichols provides a thought-provoking article on the popular concept of witchcraft and Wicca meaning something different, and asserts that they are actually the same thing as 'wicca' is simply the archaic Saxon term for a witch. He is of course right about the etymology, and gives ample evidence of the concept of religion and magic overlapping in history, thus arguing against the belief that 'Wicca' is purely religious and 'witchcraft' purely magical. However he also admits that words do change their meanings over time and that this could be what has happened already with the word Wicca. It is certainly so that pagan forums are overrun with the 'Who can and can't call themselves Wiccan' debate, which is usually concluded with the statement that 'Wicca' only relates to the religion founded or popularised by Gerald Gardner, and that all other forms of witchcraft have no right to use the term. Solitary witches in particular are usually told they can't call themselves Wiccan because Wicca is a specific mystery religion which they have not been initiated into. 'Wicca' as it has become used today has become a convenient way of distinguishing between Gerald Gardner's form of initiatory witchcraft and other forms, even if etymologically speaking they mean the same thing.
Ailean MacRath-MacPharlain also contributes a thought-provoking article discussing the pros and cons of self-initiatory and solo witchcraft versus coven witchcraft. He also provides an article on various tribes occupying ancient Britain, a poem on initiation, and a review of Nigel Jackson's Medieval Tarot. As usual the zine also contains a list of magazines, books and websites with witchcraft/pagan content. Contact as above.

CYRKEL SPYNN Vol 2 Issue 2
Brand new issue of this excellent zine focusing on pagan, gothic, alternative and underground music and culture. Includes interviews with Alan Trench of Orchis (who used to be involved with the World Serpent label), Steve Andrews aka Bard of Ely (multitalented musician and writer, good to see him in here), Mothburner and their newer project The Elegance Society, Attrition, Celtic Legend (featuring Emily Ovenden, also of Mediaeval Baebes), Soul Path and Unfinished Thought, along with an article by Ailean MacRath-MacPharlain about ritual tools used in witchcraft, occult poetry by the same author, and an extensive review section including Eliza Carthy, Nightwish, Leaves' Eyes, Cunnan, Sol Invictus, Far Black Furlong, Between the Waters, Belladonna, Catherine Anne Davies, Omnia, Tori Amos, Evanescence, To-Mera, Ayin Aleph and more. (See Cyrkel Spynn review above for contact info).

CYRKEL SPYNN Vol 3 Issue 1
Cyrkel Spynn has now moved from being a paper zine to PDF format available on CD. This issue is dated 2008, but is the current issue and I have only recently received it. Features interviews with Andrea Haugen aka Nebelhexe (great to see her in here as I'm a big fan of her music as Nebelhexe and also her previous project Hagalaz' Runedance), Esme of Her Midnight Eye, All Living Fear, Mark Coyle of Woven Wheat Whispers (this music download website dedicated to various folk music subgenres no longer exists of course, but this is still a fascinating interview as it has much to say about the type of underground folk music that is such a big thing in my own life), Catherine Anne Davies, and Belladonna. Also included is a list of tools used by Wiccans and Traditional Witches; info on the WREN (Witchcraft Research Esoteric Network); and music reviews ranging from very mainstream artists like Kim Wilde to artists who are still well known but are part of subcultures such as goth and metal (a few of the names from this section include Cradle of Filth, Sisters of Mercy, Wolfmother, Within Temptation, Therion and Nine Inch Nails) and underground folk and neo-medieval bands/artists including Silverwheel, Spiral Dance, Damh the Bard, Eleanor's Visceral Tomb, Hobbyhorse and Mothburner. Magazines and fanzines catering to pagans and goths are also reviewed. Well worth a look by anyone with pagan inclinations and an interest in alternative music, particularly goth and underground folk. Cyrkel Spynn is one of a number of projects under the DMMG umbrella - for more info visit http://dmmg.webs.com

AILEAN MacRATH-MacPHARLAIN The Divell's Dozen vol 1 CD e-book
Collection of 13 articles in PDF format by Ailean MacRath-MacPharlain, the alter-ego of Cyrkel Spynn and The Wytches' Standard editor Alan Craw. Some articles here have appeared in print before but others are new to me. A variety of topics are covered, the common thread being esoterica, folklore, witchcraft and paganism. There are articles exploring modern pagan creation myth; the origin of the Stang (a forked pole used as an altar in Traditional Witchcraft); the alchemical Azoth; folklore associated with St Lucia; the esoteric connections in Ailean's own family; a guide for beginners on a spiritual path, encouraging them to find their own beliefs; an article called Does God Have a Wife?, on Middle Eastern goddesses; an article on Scottish covens based on witch trial records; a piece on the Milesian Order of Clanna Gadelus, the esoteric order Ailean is involved in, and another on the Milesians of Irish myth and speculations on their historical origin; the rite known as Housle, and use of this word in Anglo-Saxon Paganism and Christianity; the deity Goda worshipped in Traditional Witchcraft; and a preview of Ailean's forthcoming book Wyrm in the Apple's Core, this extract discussing the possible Traditional Witchcraft connections of early members of the Wiccan movement.
The articles are quite short and not really intended to be scholarly pieces. Some material even veers from accepted scholarship, for instance Ailean writes of Nehalennia as a Scandinavian goddess when she was/is in fact Dutch. Whilst a number of modern Heathens have a pan-Germanic approach, worshipping deities such as Nehalennia alongside the Scandinavian deities, I'm unaware of any evidence to indicate that Nehalennia was actually worshipped in Scandinavia in history. The articles do however act as good tasters for the topics they focus on, and offer clues for further research. More info at http://dmmg.webs.com

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