Tag Archives: High Priestess

Remembering Maureen Brown – High Priestess of Wicca

Maureen Brown Wiccan High Priestess
Maureen Brown Wiccan High Priestess

Maureen Brown was a High Priestess of Wicca, and a qualified Counsellor, Psychotherapist, mother and grandmother- when she passed away into the arms of the veiled Isis, on this day, 11 years ago (25th December 2004). Since then Christmas day has never been the same.

I met her in the year 2000, at a Wiccan summer gathering of many covens, in a Glastonbury camping site. I didn’t know at the time that she had had surgery in her stomach and was recovering..  but she danced wildly with me in the barn that evening during the party / socials.. And later we spoke about magic and psychology and how she could help me with some of my issues (I didn;t tell her..she had just inferred!) It awed and impressed me so much..  She said to go and visit her in Croydon. I said I will.

But I did not.   I thought I could do it myself..  you know.. sort myself out.  I figured that if all else fails, I can always go to Maureen.  And a year or so passed – until I was Pan in an Open ritual, and at the end of it, 2 Witches – a man and a woman, waited to give me an invite to their coven ritual.. at Maureen’s biding ofcourse!

So I went a few days later, and thus began a great friendship, admiration, and learning. There’s much more of course ..but that can all wait for some future write up.

What was important was..  few years later, she was diagnosed with cancer..terminal..and we all gathered around, as she spent weeks ..nay months preparing..  not just her life..but all her students & friends  .. Well, she’s the psychologist, what else was she going to do?

And on the Christmas day, 2004, a fellow Wiccan Priestess Hazel and I went to the Hospice, and we just the two of us did a passing ceremony to aid Maureen who was already comatose.   And within hours, she passed away.  I ofcourse got home lit some candles..  and began to do some art work, titled, `passing of a Priestess’ – and after finishing the art, I called the Hospice, to hear the news that Maureen Brown has passed away..  just 15 minutes prior!

That Christmas time was special..  where few weeks prior, we had the most biggest party in her house, fire works, table for 30+ ..and passing her white wig around ..all of us taking photos ..making merry and light of what’s to come. It was one last glorious party she organised…for all of us!  (she’s a Counsellor..  she prepared us all well).

This morning I woke up all still ..feeling rather quiet..   possibly as we are just coming out of a cancerian full moon..  and over coffee, I looked on internet to find that apart from my blogs, and a PF document, no mention exists of Maureen Brown or her work..  How sad..  And what an honour.  And I’ve spent hours digging through my computer files, looking for photos, rituals, key dates..piecing dates together..(like the `Sea Priestess ritual Requiem’ that we Wiccans gathered to do at Brighton where Maureen’s ashes were scattered in the sea on an Autumn day in 2007!)

There is much more to say..so much more.

But for now..  I remember Maureen Brown, the Extraordinary High Priestess & friend who changed my life..  and empowered it.   As she often said, the work never ends.,  and some of us carry it on…even now!

Bright Blessings

-Mani Navasothy

Wiccan Journeys & High Priestly thoughts on covens

I was giving a talk at one of the pagan moots in NW London last night (Staines Moot)..  The title was `Wiccan Journeys: There and back..and there again..!’.

It mainly outlined my (thus far) journey in the Wicca path..  how I became interested, how I became an initiated Wiccan, reaching my stage (and responsibility) as a High Priest, running training covens & groups, initiating new Seekers and so on.       The talk also covered my back and forth journeys – as I have not always felt like a `wicca’ (but always a `Witch / Magician’ !)  There are times when I have slipped out of the coven life and wiccan communities – and gone to do other magical things.. like starting `Hern’s Tribe- outdoor shamanic / eclectic group’   (the more recent one being the `woodland wicca rituals’  and the `Thames-Isis rituals) – see links at the bottom.

Talk at Ankerwycke - wiccan journeys - there and back and there again - mani navasothy 2014
Talk at Ankerwycke – wiccan journeys – there and back and there again – mani navasothy 2014

Well, this morning, I caught on to some debates that have been going on…about the good/ bad experiences, the ego and hierarcrhy of High Priests, High Priestesses, and coven leaders.

Needless to say, I have some deep thoughts on this ( I never like to hear anyone bad-mouth Wicca ..especially hard working Coven leaders..!)

Here are some of my responses:

Taking pot shots at Wiccan Hierarchy?

No one is forcing anyone into a particular tradition, path or system of beliefs.. But if one is entering a system, they should learn to be aware of its exiting form, structure, rules, guidelines.. – before criticising it, attacking it, or trying to change it. !

My HPS once told me, `walk in the footsteps f others..see what entails..before criticising what they do’ !

I appreciate that people may have had bad experiences from individuals or groups..but unless you have ever organised events, rituals, groups..and run things for long periods of time… no real wisdom is gained.

I get a little tired of people ranting on about Wiccan Hierarchy, and taking pot shots at the roles of High Priests & High Priestess. They are part of that path and system.. Learn it, understand why it’s there in the first place.. before tearing it apart. And if you are compelled to tear it apart.. I ask why? Is it because of a personal grudge, bad experience, or one;s own ego not being fed? –

The training of Coven Leaders:

 Leadership of anything is always a double-edged sword.. It is there to serve the people.. but abused, it can harm the people.. To quote a line from Spiderman, `With great power comes great responsibility’

Serious covens filter interested people .. work out their commitment, dedication, loyalty etc..before even taking anyone on as trainees…and then after a year or even many years…initiate them…(into their tradition and their coven!)

It takes many years of practice ..before those initiates reach a stage of taking good personal responsibility and also that of others..and the HP / HPS stats is a `teaching position’ – it’s NOT handed down like confetti.

Even after reaching that stage.. they then undergo more months / years of `on the job mentoring’ to become `good’ HP & HPS.. Anyone who’s got this far ..then goes out and starts their own coven..trains others..initiates others.. !

This is the long hard path in an ideal world.. Old ideals and standards are dying out with those people who held it.. They have tried to pass those on.. and that wisdom survives.. just about..!

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So there you have it..  just some immediate responses..  But no doubt, we shall all come to this topic..again and again…and again 🙂

-Mani Navasothy

Links

Wiccan Hierarchy of Covens

Coven Guide: Becoming an initiated Witch (e-book)

Introduction to Wicca, Witchcraft and Magic

Woodland Wicca Circles 2014 (London)

Hern’s Tribe

Tamesa – celebrating birthday of Isis 

 

Hierarchy within Wiccan Covens

I was initiated over 15 years ago, and lucky to have had those first 4 years …where my High Priestess & High Priest taught and trained me (and my fellow Craft brothers & Sisters).  For those glorious 4 years, I did nothing but learn the Craft, rituals, magic, and kinship. And then one day I was ready and got my 2nd degree initiation, became `an Elder’ and a High Priest of Wicca ..and was gently cast out into the bigger world..

That was when the politics began!  And since then, I’ve had many a discussion with pagans, wiccans and non-initiates (in courses that I have run) – about Covens.

I’ve seen the way the Wiccan covens ..and Wiccan community have evolved..  with time…just in the 15+ years I have been a part of. I can only imagine how it must have been in those early `golden’ years of Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente, and of course Alex Saunders. Am not what they’d say..about the Craft now..if they were still alive.

Personally, I myself am seriously perturbed by the way loyalty, discipline, commitment  respect and a  whole load of other sincere traits within Wicca seem to be eroding away these days…and like the yobs in the streets who make trouble and say `it’s my right’,  modern wiccan members seem to do pretty much all sorts of things and call it evolution.

On the one hand, I am all for traditions being kept alive. But then, on the other hand, all things have to change..evolve..  and at times, I find myself being the `black sheep’ of the Wiccan community…simply by me being thought-provoking, and challenging.

So in a series of articles.. (and a few books coming later in the year), I’m going to explore these..

First thing..  let me set the scene…and explain a few basics…as I have now come to understand them..  (extracts from my forthcoming book `Seekers’ guide to Wiccan Covens’).

What’s a coven?

A Coven is traditionally a group of Witches – full stop! It is not a place, not a room, not a house, not a website, not a forum, not a meeting point or any of that. A coven is given a unique identity by a name for that group – often at the choosing the people who formed it and lead it. It is a magical association of certain specific individuals. Where ever those members may be, they feel and know that along with the others of that group, they are `their coven’! You can compare this to the question of `what is a family’? Exactly. A Family is a group of relatives. They may live in the same house, or not. Some old, some young. A core family framework is a man and woman – father and mother- and their children. The extended family includes grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, niece & nephews and more. A family starts with a couple – bonded in Love – and grows as they have children. A coven has very similar structure, as you’ll see below.

Who are Coven members, Seekers & Trainees?

All the people who have formally asked to join a Coven, under the leadership of the couple who formed a coven, are coven members – of that coven! Even in the early stages, if some people have asked to join a coven or are exploring or seeking – but have not gone through an initiation ceremony – are still in many ways members of that Coven.

Coven Leaders & the extend of their authority

As with a family model, which is very much what Wiccan covens are based on (like the tribes of old), a coven usually has a couple – a pair who are magical partners – at the helm of it. This couple are the Coven leaders – often that coven’s High Priest and High Priestess. The abbreviation is HP & HPS. They are effectively who form the coven, initiate others into that coven and run that coven! Their authority is pretty much absolute within their coven. There are cases, where other High Priests & High Priestesses of other covens come to visit – ie do socials and rituals together. Even in such cases, the authority of the actual Coven leaders is- should- and must be respected by all.

This isn’t always understood by everyone. And sometimes visiting High Priests & High Priestesses try to exert their own authority – especially if they have been Wiccans and running their own covens for much longer, or the special case where they are the people who initiated this coven leaders! But such behavior will undermine the authority of the HP & HPS of the coven where everyone is a gust.

This can be easily understood if you think about the family model again. Think about a big family occasion, where a couple who have 3 children, invite their grandparents, uncles & aunts, cousins and so on. Within the house where the party is being held, the couple have the final authority. It is incorrect for the grandparents or an uncle or aunt to intervene in important matters – even if in the larger family framework, they have age and authority.

well, more on Wicca, Witchcraft & Covens…another time…:-)

-Mani Navasothy

connect with me on facebook  www.facebook.com/ManiNavasothy

Related Links:

1.  So you want a wiccan Initiation?  

2. Coven Guide: Become an Initiated Witch – by Mani Navasothy

3. e-Witch Apprentice  Training (Correspondence course)

Psychology & Magic: Know thy Inner-Child

Hi readers, I got to thinking, that for a guy who tags a number of blogs under  Wicca & Witchcraft – and specifically the  psychology, I haven’t really said much on those subjects…and yet, it’s those very realms that my everyday mind is occupied with.    I found this  write-up I had done for one of the modules of the e-Witch Apprentice course.   -Mani

Inner child

We each have an inner-child within us. It is a permanent psychological aspect of each one of us that stays with us forever. The inner child stems from our own childhood days and experiences, and he/ she does not grow! People may think that because it’s a `child’ within us, he/ she is powerless, and harmless. This is true on some level, but not in the way many of us think!

Gaia’s Child (graphics (c)Mani Navasothy 2012

As with any child on this planet, an inner child is powerless  – to fend for him/ herself, and protect him/ herself. But an inner-child is not to be under-estimated as one having no power. On the contrary, our inner-child has more power `over’ us than any other being on the planet! The personality and character of the inner-child can at times over-whelming and all-consuming! The whims and tantrums that our inner-child throws can quite easily take over us and control our actions and emotions.  Effectively, it’s as if the Inner-child is the driver of the adult-person!!

Our needs for security, for love, for warmth, food – and for our mothers  all stem from the Inner-child in us. And so does our need and want for play!  And what’s more, our very creativity stems from the inner-child.

The inner-child does not care about time-tables, schedules, work-loads, deadlines, career progressions, relationships (except one with `The mother’), honour, commitment, altruism or ideals.  He or she just is – pure need,  pure base  emotions, and pure joy!  Eat, drink, sleep & play are his or her only modes, and  the inner-child does not even have self-awareness, or self-identification.  He or she is a pure creature of nature!!

One of the major aspects that govern an inner child is that he/ she – just like any child – has an identity liked and intertwined with the Mother.  When his or her needs are met, he / she is happy and engages in play, and when those needs return, he/ she instinctively wants/ needs and seeks The Mother. And if the mother engages and fulfils those needs  (food, company, warmth, affection), then the Mother is `seen’ as `Good Mother’.  And if the mother does not seem to be fulfilling those needs – when the inner-child wants it (prompt), then the Mother is seen as `bad Mother’.

Mothers can quite quickly go from being `good mother’ to bad mother’ – in seconds, depending on how they did or did not fulfil the inner-child. And of course, if one person is fulfilling the inner-child, then that person – male or female `becomes’ the `good mother’, and elsewhere, another person who did not fulfil the needs of the Inner-child becomes `bad-mother’.

These psychological constructs are projected into our everyday interactions and relationships.  It is not the scope of this brief introduction to go into details, but needless to say,  how we as adults relate to people, leaders, authority figures, lovers, spouses, and even our Gods & Goddesses – are all so intricately tied into the Inner-child.

Knowing `thy self’ is a process, by which, we learn to separate the needs and whims of the inner child away from our `adult’ self, as well as other key considerations (projections, shadows, anima/ animus etc).

In this e-witch Course, we include various practical work and exercises – some of which may seem bizarre and `childish’. However they are not designed for you the adult – and they are aimed at your inner-child!!  For we have learnt through much study, counselling and personal magical experiences – that creativity and true magic flows from the purest of all humans – the child in us!

It is the responsibility of us – the grown-up adults, to become the `good mother’ to our own inner-children, and care, comfort and protect. When those are taken care of, and when we let ourselves play freely, we begin to tap into primal forces of magic!!

(c)Mani Navasothy. 22Feb2012

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Acknowledgement:   Much of these concepts were taught to me by the late Maureen Brown, Counselor & High Priestess of Wicca.  I shall give her due respect in another blog entry.

Ghosts of the past – aiding the dead

On the eve of New Year.. and there is one thing I have been meaning to write about – before I can move on into the future!

It began with a dream on the morning of 25th December – in which April and I visited a hospital, where I met her mother – who was dying! To cut a long dream short, in the dream, many things got resolved between all 3 of us. And then I saw the elderly lady (Jean) free of all the needles and tubes, glow and float, and fall! Bearing in mind, I once came very close to meeting her (who would be my mother-on-law) in a hospital few years ago – but never actually met her, and since then had only seen 1 photo of her – I think this was a remarkable dream. It had elements of magic – of aiding a suffering person to pass through the veil.   Half a day later, when my back-pain issues started, I pushed this dream aside. But it was worth mentioning.

It wasn’t just in that dream that I had `performed’ a passing-through magical work. Few years ago, my sister and I did a very similar – albeit slightly Hindu version – ceremony for my uncle Sathyamoorthy who was suffering from cancer, and in a nursing home in Kent. That night he passed away.  And going back about 7-8 years, the first time I did that sort of a ceremony was for Maureen Brown  on Christmas Day  (Wiccan High Priestess and Psychologist, who had taught me so much of magic and psychology). That evening, she passed away. Previously she and I had discussed portals and the voids..   and it suddenly came to the forefront of my mind that afternoon. A fellow coven member and HPS  was part of the ceremony.

Some 20+ years ago, a few days after New Year, my father Navasothy (that was his first name, which in Tamil custom, become my Surname!) met with a road accident while crossing the road and died. It was a singular event that set me off – initially into a faithless spin- and brought me into the world of Paganism & Magical spirituality.   And reaching further back, to when I was 5 years, I saw my paternal grandfather die, at home, in his bed, surrounded by family. I was in my father’s arms that moment, and I remember crying because I had seen my father cry!

To this day, even such things as very old bones I find on the banks of river Thames (in London) tend to have a strong psychic effect on me – anything from tingles in the head, a burning sensation of the face, heaviness of the chest area, or head-ache that takes half  day to fade.  All I have to do is touch an old bone!   (This is a huge subject matter that I will write about another time).

My one regret is – I could not go and attend to a person who was pagan-hindu and dying – just about the time I was getting ready for my Handfasting / pagan wedding ceremony 2 years ago.  Weddings are so hectic to organise, and I just could not bring my self to give up half a day that week. I am sorry that I did not. The guilt plagues me still- that I may have been able to help that Soul pass over easily and that I didn’t.

As I stand on the eve of the next year – 2012 – I shall remember the loved ones I have aided, other nameless dead-Souls , both human and animals, I have touched. I don’t only need to remember them on Samhain (pagan festival of honoring the ancestors), or on the day of their deaths, or on some special religious day (such as tomorrow when it is the day to do a special `moksha-pooja’ for my deceased father). I can remember them whenever I wish.

I once wrote a story titled, `Yesterdays’ Fathers..’.  Time I dusted it, scanned it, and published it.