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DARKFLOWER NEWSLETTER #2: Dancing Under the Moon


"Wild Moon" by Tava Baird. Are there prints available? YES! Check out the brand-spanking new etsy shop at https://darkflowerbooks.etsy.com.


Hello folks! The last newsletter was looong so this one will be a wee bit shorter, but I have some fun things to share with you. An interview from Fire Dance Church of Wicca, a trip to a haunted castle in Scotland, and new stuff from Darkflower Books! Firstly, is any of you were coming out to the Berryville Big Flea tomorrow, it has been RESCHEDULED to April 20th due to the high winds. There are over 100 antique, art, and flea market vendors at this event, and Idol Hands and Darkflower will have tents down in the Family Dollar/Blue Ridge Hospice lot at the west end of town. It's going to be a blast so come celebrate Spring and say hi!


What else has been going on? Tons of new events and classes have been added to the calendar, and more are coming all the time. And I JUST opened an etsy shop for prints, books, and other witchy goodness. Bone kits and bone casting supplies should be up shortly. And I have some awesome tote bags and such going up soon for you too!


Looking for something to read this spring? May I humbly suggest a new release of mine?


Can you get this book cover as a print too? Yup. https://darkflowerbooks.etsy.com


1722. The Isle of Skye. And myths and mysteries abound…


The quiet fishing town of Galtrigill, Scotland has been nineteen year-old Birdie MacLeod’s home for her entire life. She hero-worships Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen of Ireland, but has never had much in the way of an adventure of her own. All of that changes when a foundering, ghostly galley is spotted off the coast of the Isle of Skye and Birdie’s father, a merchant ship captain, attempts to come to its aid with Birdie aboard his vessel. And from that moment on, Birdie’s life, and all of the truths she thinks she knows, will be upended as the supernatural comes to call…


The Ballad of Birdie MacLeod is Book One in The Ways Between Prequel Series to The Spiral Pathways and represents the element of water. Rich in the history and lore of Ireland and Scotland and authentic witchcraft practice, it sets the stage for Wyldwood and is a testament to the power of friendship and love to help us endure as we battle the ghosts that haunt the edges of our reality.


You do not have to have read The Spiral Pathways series to understand this book, but boy, if you have, are you in for a ride. Some big secrets about characters in the main series come to light. And for those of you needing a new book boyfriend until Outlander gets its butt back on TV, do I have two LOVELY Scottish men for you in this book. Well, one is Scottish-sounding....and may not be entirely human. I'll leave it at that.



And, as always, it's free to read on Kindle Unlimited...and it is a brick of a book! And the sequel will be out this summer! Thank you for supporting independent authors and small businesses - I can not express how grateful I am!


On to SHOW and TELL! In the mood for some place I went last summer that is.....VERY HAUNTED?


HERMITAGE CASTLE, SCOTLAND

Scottish Borders




If you want a brief background on the history of Hermitage, here's a link: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/hermitage-castle/


But I'm going to tell you a bit about my visit there.


Hermitage is considered one of the most haunted castles in all of Scotland. If you've read the Spiral Pathways series, you know that I use it as a major setting for the series. And it's not hard to see why it captures the imagination: to being with, the valley it sits in is call Blood Valley. No joke.


The reason it is called Blood Valley is that this location sits right on the English/Scottish border, and as such was the site of many, many battles. The old castle doesn't have a roof any longer, and sits out on a lonely moor; it is nearly silent around it. No traffic, no town, just ghosts. And oh, my, DOES IT HAVE GHOSTS.


As if being the towering, ominous, ruined centerpiece for a place called Blood Valley wasn't enough, the castle is said to be haunted from ghosts ranging from Mary, Queen of Scots (her fourth husband owned it at one point) to the poor souls left to starve to death in its dungeon. And then...well, there's the DeSoulis family, which not only had a member arrested and killed for plotting to murder Robert the Bruce, but there's also his descendant, a man who was accused of kidnapping children from the surrounding countryside and sacrificing them under the direction of his familiar. This dark magician was supposed to have been taught magick by non other than Michael Scot, one of the most famous magick-users in Scottish history, and the only Scotsman to be described in Dante's Inferno as being regulated to a Circle of Hell (Dante and Scot had political differences. Michael Scot is fascinating in his own right: read about him here: https://www.scotsman.com/whats-on/arts-and-entertainment/michael-scott-the-scottish-borders-wizard-1482046 )


It is said on a very big sign when entering the property that the place has numerous curses on it...the most famous of which is that "no one without Border Reiver blood dare spend the night". Luckily for me, my ancestors, the Scotts, used to own the castle and were Border Reivers, so I suppose I was more in the clear than my poor friend who was visiting the castle with me that day (side note: we were also THE ONLY TWO people there other than the caretaker who supervised things from a Scottish Heritage trailer well away from the castle.) Thunder was ringing out across the sky, and a light rain was falling. And it was...desolate.


To give you an idea of the reputation of this place, one of the first things I did after landing in Edinburgh was head to the Wyrd shop, Edinburgh's oldest occult supply shop. (Here's the site: http://wyrdshop.com/home.htm). It's a tiny little shop with an amazing array of magickal items. I hadn't wanted to bring iron nails and such through customs, so I got the attention of the owner and told her I needed to assemble some protective items for me and my traveling companion. "Where are you headed?" she asked. When I said, "Hermitage Castle. I'm related to the Scotts," she swore under her breath, mumbled, "Sweet Goddess!" and then told me to stay put. She disappeared into the back room for a time and returned with a host of herbs, black stones, blue leather bags made by a local witch, iron nails, and the like. Clearly this venture required items not found on the regular shop floor, and she kitted us out for our visit.


Although I am not prone to bouts of deja-vu, I have NEVER had a stronger sense of remembering a place I have never been before as I had at Hermitage Castle. It was very odd, knowing the horrible history of the place to feel....welcomed by it. I felt as if I was coming back home after a long journey, as if I was supposed to be there. I have never felt so centered and grounded in my life.


There's no "off limits" areas of the ruin, except for a few cones on crumbling staircases. I was able to climb all through the halls of my ancestors, as I am also related to the Stuarts who held the castle for some time. I am in no way experienced with ghosts, but I had LOTS of issues of my brand-new phone jumping and glitching when I tried to take video or pictures (which happened nowhere else we visited, including the rather haunted Carlisle Castle in northern England) and after taking a snapshot of the dungeon returned to our air B&B to find I had somehow managed to acquire sixty-six photos of said dungeon that were exactly the same. I split away from my friend, found the outer wall of the dungeon on the outside of the castle, and did a ritual to help release any spirits that might have been trapped inside.


The original house that the DeSoulis family lived in while the castle was being built was later replaced by a chapel that is now a ruin with a VERY old cemetery inside. I visited it alone. The energy in that cemetery, set away from the castle, was so intense and that at one point I found myself exclaiming out loud, "I do not want to be friends!" and working every banishing symbol I knew in the air in front of me. It was mostly centered around one particular grave, set just outside the chapel walls, at a burial of a man who was purposely drowned in the Hermitage Water (a river that runs right past the cemetery).


I have never had such a sense of being followed around in my life...and at the same time (other than the old DeSoulis house site), I had the bizarre feeling that the land Hermitage stood on was somehow...home.


It is a feeling I will try and puzzle out for the rest of my life.






OUR PAGAN CIRCLE: An Interview with Rev. Katherine Luck of Fire Dance Church of Wicca


It's nice to meet you! Please tell us your name and business name, a brief description of your business or practice, and how long you have been working in the pagan community.

My name is Rev. Katharine Luck. I've been pagan since I was a child, but I was ordained in 2014 in Milton, Florida at Fire Dance Church of Wicca. In 2023 I started a branch of Fire Dance here in Winchester.


Where are you geographically based?

Winchester, VA.


Do you have a shop or website or both?

I'm listing Fire Dance events at the following website. We also have a Facebook group, Discord server, and mailing list, all of which you can sign up for by emailing me at dragonmom@dovewithscales.com. https://dovewithscales.com/firedance/


What first drew you to this line of work?

My grandmother, a second generation Greek immigrant, called herself a Christian Witch, and also taught me to worship the Theoi. She inspired me to reclaim the pagan traditions of our ancestors.


Please tell us a bit about your background. How did you end up doing what you do today?

I grew up with witchcraft in my family, in Virginia Beach. I was called to lead some friends there in a small coven, and it was with them that I moved to Florida and found Fire Dance. I did some queer activism work in Florida, and felt called particularly to counseling queer people with religious trauma. When I moved to Winchester, I was asked by some friends and family to lead rituals here, and I've finally gotten started.


Please share with us a bit about what inspires you.

All that I do, I do in an effort to honor my gods and support my friends and family. That's what inspires me.


What new projects do you have in the works for 2024?

This is the first full year of Fire Dance Winchester. We are currently meeting in my rented townhouse and relatively small yard. I'm hoping that by the end of this year I'll be able to buy a house with some land, and build a permanent physical circle for our rituals.


Any upcoming events can we find you at? 

Our Beltane ritual will be on May 4th. My email is available to ask for details. I also try to attend as many of the events at Moon Phased in Winchester as I can. I'm usually at their Full Moon gatherings.


What is your favorite part about interacting with the pagan community?

I adore learning new perspectives of all kinds. I'm always excited to meet someone new and learn about their personal traditions.


Do you have any favorite pagan websites, authors, artists, musicians, groups, podcasts or practices you'd like to share?

I have to give a shout out to queer pagan author Rebecca Mickley at Studio Prey Productions, who writes fantasy and science fiction focused on non-human character perspectives. I've edited five of her books, with a sixth on its way to production. I'm currently reading the works of Cyndi Brannen, and so far really enjoying them.


Anything else you'd like to share with us?

I love hearing from new folks, so don't be shy about reaching out. Please feel free to shoot me an email.


Thank you so much for speaking with me! Find Fire dance on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/338570142459501/


To have your group or business featured in this newsletter, please email tavabaird@gmail.com


Thank you so much for reading the newsletter and supporting an independent artist, writer, and pagan educator in her work! You all make my day, every day.


Blessed Be!

Tava


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