Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A January Tale

It has been said, 'If you want to put the world right, begin with yourself'. In its measure this is true counsel, but it needs a corollary. The Alchemist says, 'If you want to work upon your inner self, start working on something outside yourself.'”

What does Druidry really offer to Humanity? By Vivian Godfrey

In July 2012 I pulled together a blog about the magical aspects of the successful campaign to save Oxleas Woods from a proposed new East London River Crossing. If Trees Could Cry – Oxleas Wood - a 20th Century adventure in eco-magic told the story from the viewpoint of an active member of Dragon and T.R.B. rather than the well-known public campaign by the marvelous folk in People Against the River Crossing (PARC). I've subsequently received a number of emails from people asking for more about the campaign. So, at the fag end of January 2015, here is a little more about Dragon's campaign.

Recently I was reminded by an old friend of one of the many awareness and fund-raising campaigns Dragon supported to galvanise interest in saving this special ancient London woodland – the Save Oxleas Woods Calendar. This was an innovative and creative way to raise some funds and secure more publicity-- a few years before the popular film Calendar Girls had burst on to the scene. It was also a great way for people to work on themselves as alluded to by the earlier quote from Vivian Godfrey. We often forget that sometimes the best way to work magic or change is to work on outside factors. There are times for mundane world activities such as petitions, protests and fund-raising just as much as there are times for meditation, visualisation and ritual! This simple truth often seems to be forsaken.

Two key Dragon members-- one an accomplished artist and graphic designer, the other a very well connected priestess who was actively involved in publishing and the Fellowship of Isis-- were both critical in creating the calendar. Without their love, energy and passion for Oxleas, the calendar would never have been published nor would the additional campaign funds have been raised. Well-known esoteric writers were contacted and asked to donate short pieces of writing on the months of the year. A wide range of published writers rallied to the call of this ancient woodland and donated freely some fantastic contributions including Ronald Hutton, Marian Green, Mike Howard and the late Melita Denning (Vivian Godfrey) as well as the wonderful recently departed and much missed Olivia Robertson.

The calendar sold out quickly and helped to grab yet further public interest in stopping the dark forces that wanted to carve up this beautiful open space.

As we are still (just about) at the doorway to 2015, I thought I'd share my favourite extract from the calendar in all its glory – Melita Denning's contribution for January. I hope you enjoy it!

The Month of January

The Roman calendar, on which ours is based, developed from a ten-month Etruscan form combined with an older calendar of twelve lunar months with an intercalary space in winter. In 153 BC the beginning of the year was transferred from March to the beginning of January, to follow the mid-winter feast:

Midwinter is the rise of the new sun and the close of the old one” (Ovid).

The month takes its name from the god Janus, the Door keeper. He is shown with two faces, usually bearded, to look to past and future, and the bears staff and key. He is the divine guardian of all portals. He is 'The Sower', bearing the seed of the past harvest to propagate the next. In Rome he was invoked at the outset of any great undertaking, and before any other deity, for it is he who gives access to them. New Year's Day is thus propitious for every prayer.

Because the first day of January sets a pattern for all, workers who hope for an active and prosperous year should at least handle the implements of their work on this festive day. Dates, figs and honey are the traditional festal foods and gifts, to sweeten the year now beginning. Not only the New Year, but daybreak, and the first day of each month, are under Janus' protection.

His great feast however, is on the 9th January. His offering is of spelt (a variety of wheat) with salt; this mixture thrown upon flame is said to give prompt response to a petition.

The traditional incense for rites of Janus is saffron, which can be mingled with mastic or gum arabic.

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