Doreen Valiente - Witch

Monday, 1 October 2012

Castle Bytham Spirit Circle - 30th September

We were invited to give a talk and mini-exhibition by the good folks who own Castle Bytham's Castle Inn pub in the heart of rural Lincolnshire on Sunday 30th September. We had an excellent time with our hosts and a full to capacity audience who came out in amazing support considering it was a Sunday night and, basically, in the middle of nowhere.

The atmospheric setting was perfect as Ashley Mortimer gave an introductory talk about the Foundation and Doreen's legacy before sketching out an overview of the history concerning Doreen, Gerald Gardner and the Craft and Ashley was lucky enough for the second timne recently to have his talk enhanced (and corrected!)  by Philip Hestleton who Ashley says "added an air of propriety" to proceedings!

In the audience were a number of local authors including Rick Falconr, Shani Oats and Daniel Griffith as well as many other great people who showed great interest and support for both the event and the Foundation.

After an exhibition of some of the artefacts from the collection Ashley gave a talk Doreen had first given to the Henfiled and Steyning Round Table in 1971 on the general subject of Witchcraft and he ended the formal part of the evening with an emotional reading of a previously unpublished poem by Doreen entitled "What Witchcraft Means To Me".

A late night with lots of further talk and discussion gave us a great deal to think and talk about and another successful event brought more new people into understanding the legacy, the collection and the work of the Foundation . . jolly nice beer too!!

London Conference - 15th September

A Day For Ronald Hutton was the CFPS's conference for 2012 in aid of the Doreen Valiente Foundation. A busy weekend in London resulted in a busy event, well attended, well received by all and a great opportunity to discuss the future of Witchcraft with an expert panel made up of some of the others speakers on the day and other eminent experts on the Craft.
The Doreen Valiente Foundation launched its new membership scheme and as well as a rare chance to see Gerald Gardner's original Book Of Shadows on display the event was rounded off by ROnald Hutton's excellent talk and an evening of music with Damh the Bard and The Dolmen.
You can read more about the event on the main website.
The team were worn out by monday morning but were very excited to see so many people supporting the event and the Foundation and we cememnted new partnerships and co-operations with the Pagan Federation, Pagan Pride and Nottingham Pagan Network (who provided events staff for us) and Greenmantle magazine with who we have teamed up to deliver news and information/inspiration to our members.

Talk & Mini Exhibition - Nottingham Pagan Network

On the eve of our trip to London for  the Day For Ronald Hutton conference we were pleased to be able to give a talk and exhibition of some of the collection for our friends at Nottingham Pagan Network who held an open to all evening at the Lincolnshire Poacher in Nottingham.
The venue lent itself to intimacy and with a reading of a previously-unheard poem of Doreen's by Caz Galloway (who has been busy assisting with the transcribing of Doreen's poetry for a fortchcoming re-edition of "Charge Of The Goddess", expanded to include many more of Doreen's poems and some short stories) Ashley Mortimer gave a talk on Doreen's life and legacy to an interested and receptive audience.
Nottingham Pagan Network tell us that there were a lot of new faces in the audience and it was clear to them that Pagans and non-Pagans alike were showing great interest in Doreen and the work of the Foundation by attending this evening.
With support from Rick Falconer, newly published author of a book about the Golden Dawn, the evening was a success and we were only sorry we had to pack up in time for our early start the follwing morning.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

CFPS Education in Nottinghamshire

July 2012 - CFPS speak to A-Level Sociology class

The Centre For Pagan Studies were invited into a Nottinghamshire school to speak to students studying comparative religions as part of their Sociology course. Cuorse tutor Paul Aspden invited Ashley Mortimer of the CFPS to spend an afternoon explaining about paganism and modern pagan beliefs to a class of sociology students. After a successful afternoon and a good grilling from the students Mr Aspden has requested further assistance from the CFPS to prepare a module specifically about paganism to be taught as part of the 2013 course. Ashley has been invited back to speak again to more students to explore more ideas about paganism and pagan religious practices, Ashley says "Its so important that we continue to educate the wider community about modern paganism, where it came from, how it works and what Pagans actually do - unlike other religious groups we have no "recruitment drive" and schools like South Notts Academy are realising that there's great benefit in exposing their students to paganism purely for education without the fear of it being turned into evangelising, though, as is common when speaking about paganism, there was a definite current of empathy from the students". CFPS and Pagan Pride are to collaborate further with schemes like these and invite enquiries from other schools and education establishments.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Update - June 2012

Following a weekend get together we're pleased to say progress is being made on the following things:

  • The 2012 Conference with Ronald Hutton (Sunday 16th September 10 am – till 11pm at Conway Hall, London information here) with some exciting plans to be announced on the day

  •  A forthcoming book of Doreen's poems to replace the out of print "Charge Of The Goddess". The book will be a much more complete collection and will include Doreen's short stories too.

  • Advancing plans for the museum and preparing for site location, funding etc

  • More cataloguing of the artefacts, including photographing all the items and a database of everything is now underway

  • More discussion and planning for a day to honour Patricia Crowther in association with PF, Pagan Pride and NPN

  • Doreen's Biography - now in the research phase by author Philip Hestleton

Things are really ramping up at the Centre For Pagan Studies, Ashley will be giving more talks and exhibitions throughout the rest of the year, much more work cataloguing the artefacts is planned and John & Julie are looking forward to returning to Blighty for the conference which Brian & Trish are working hard on in conjunction with Paul & Tallis of Greenmatle magazine. We're pleased to say that Esme Knight, founder of Pagan Pride (main event in Nottingham, Sunday 5th August 2012) has joined the team bring expertise in museum management and operational organisation.

We said it would be a good year . . .  now its becoming so! Watch this space . .  . . . . . . . 

Sunday, 6 May 2012

PFNE Conference

We attended the Pagan Federation North East Conference in York in APril 2012. We had an excellent day out meeting and talking to so many people and it really came home to us again how affectionate the general public are about Doreen and her legacy. We were accompanied by Esme Knight of Pagan Pride organisation ( and Sarah Kay of Nottingham Pagan Network ( who shared a stall with us and bravely manned it all day while Ashley was off and about networking and hob-knobbing !

Ashley gave his talk on Doreen's life and legacy as one of the event's main speakers and had the "interesting" experience of addressing the likes of Patricia Crowther and Philip Hestleton on the subject of Doreen which he describes as "hair-raising". Ashley invited PAtricia to add colour to the parts of his talk he describes as "a bit stuffy" and and rather a double act ensued to the delight of the audience: Ashley providing dates and facts and Patricia reaclling her personal memories of the events he mentioned! Ashley finished up by giving a talk written by Doreen as an introduction to Witchcraft from the 1960's and a few small artefacts that had belonged to Doreen were exhibited to a number of fascinated people. Patricia Crowther capped it all off by reciting, from memory, a poem Doreen had written for her and this ensured a ral ovation at the end.

Having had a very long chat with Patricia, we're pleased to say that CFPS and the Foundation are now in discussion with Pagan Pride, NPN and PFNE to put on an event later in the year to honour Patricia Crowther along the now familiar CFPS theme of "A Day For . . ". While there are no details yet, the event will certainly be held in the north / midlands and not in London as are all the CFPS conferences normally . .

All in all, an excellent day cementing support for the Doreen Valiente Foundation from the Pgan Federation, Patricia Corwther and the wider pagan public. Thanbk you to everyone who made us feel so welcome in York including Steve (PFNE) and Esme's mum and dad who put us up and provided excellent conversation and company too. Blessings to all of you!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Patricia Crowther - The Zodiac Experience

CFPS have teamed up with Patricia Crowther to present her Zodiac Experience series of initiatory meditations and visualisations which take the form of a small rite to be performed as the sun passed through each of the 12 houses of the zodiac over a one year period.

The first period (Aires) began in March 2012 and the second (Taurus) will appear on April 20th. If you are wanting to do these journeys then you need to hurry up and do the Aires rite before April 21st

make a note of the above page as all the rites will be posted here . . .

Pagan Federation North East Conference

CFPS and The Doreen Valiente Foundation will be in attendance at the Pagan Fed North East conference in York on 21st April 2012 (details here). Ashley will be speaking about Doreen's life and legacy and will present a talk she wrote and delivered herself (though sadly Doreen's accent and manner as an impression remain the domain of John only!) and following some discussion we think a surprise peice of Doreen's writing will feature at the end of it . . . from a surprise guest  . . . 

Ashley on TV

The conference planning was slightly interrupted by my (Ashley's) appearance on BBC1's "The Big Questions" in a debate about polytheism and the follow on from that has been an hour long programme for Sky TV filmed with Jay Lakhani of the Hindu Academy where some strong resonances have been formed between paganism and hinduism. Hopefully we'll see more of Jay during the year and we're very pleased indeed to be associated with him and with the hindu community who have a great deal of spirituality to explore . . .

You can see the video of the polytheism debate featuring Ashley and Jay here:

And the Sky TV programme will also be on youTube after it has aired on Sky Fitness one sunday evening during April.
(We'll remember to post it here!)

Further to that Ashley has made a few videos with Nottingham's Pagan Pride group of which he is a part and some very interesting debates have sprung up as a result . .

Witchcraft In 60 Seconds (Ashley's new party piece):

Belief, Faith, Religion, Spirituality & Witchcraft:

Conference Planning - A Day With Ronald Hutton

2012 began with a bang, announcing the Day For Ronald Hutton conference in spetember, organising everything associated with this, booking the venue, the speakers, the stalls and starting to sell tickets. Its going to be an amazing day and we're already looking forward to it . . 

2012 - Its going to be a good year

Well, I've been very remiss in not writing more about the work we're doing at CFPS so I'm determined to make time to correct this during this year. The blog is to be a slightly informal, behind the scenes record of the individuals in the CFPS and what we've got up to this year . . .