Two Talks

Last week I went to Treadwell’s to see two talks. This was unusual for me, but one of them was a memoriam to Terry Pratchett and I did not want to miss this.

The talk on Terry Pratchett was a reminisce about Terry and his works. I particularly liked the toast at the end when we had to say one word that summed Terry up for us and then were asked to talk to people afterwards. The latter is not the British way, but I enjoyed it.

While I didn’t learn anything new about Terry, it was a nice way to say goodbye to him and I’m glad I was there.

The second talk, which we’d booked before Terry died, was Abbie Palache’s Tales of Odhinn.

I read the Norse tales when I was a teenager, but haven’t revisited them since, so my Norse folklore is rather sketchy.

Abbie told tales which fleshed the bones of Odhinn out into a real person and I have to say that her Odhinn is very like the one in Neil Gaiman’s fiction book American Gods.

At the end of the evening I felt I knew Odhinn rather better than before and I was glad he wasn’t Marvel’s two-dimensional ruler.


Gawain and the Green Knight

Last Wednesday we went to Treadwell’s to hear a different story with a different storyteller.

The story was “Gawain and the Green Knight” which was being retold from old sources as the teller had been academically trained.

It was interesting hearing this story as I realised that it was about adultery and the penance of messing around with another man’s wife, a story which would have been popular with medieval people as a prohibition on adultery was one of the ten commandments.

I suspect the interpretation of the story as a nature one is a modern-day invention, but since this interpretation mainly rests on the meaning of the word “green” I would have to look into this to be able to judge.

Shamanism in Storytelling

The other night I went to a talk on Shamanism in Storytelling at Treadwell’s.

The person giving the talk was a professional storyteller called Abbie Palache who told stories which had changed her life and why. After hearing one of them she gave up her job, with another she realised that she needed to slow down; which everyone had been telling her and she hadn’t been listening.

This was a really good demonstration of the power of stories. She will be back to Treadwell’s in April with stories about Odin and I highly recommend that people go to this talk.


Last night I went to a talk at Treadwell’s about Depression in Paganism. The talk was structured with Christina Oakley-Harrington asking Cat, who was the speaker, questions about depression.

At first, the “Christianity is all about sacrifice” line was really starting to annoy me. I come from a Scottish Protestant background and Protestant crosses have no Jesus on them because they emphasise the fact that Jesus was raised, whereas Catholics emphasis that Jesus was sacrificed. It nearly got to the point where I stood up and said something, but thankfully the topics veered away from that.

Cat is a Pagan priest in Derbyshire and the rest of the talk centred on her experiences of depression, caused mainly by a divorce and loss of job at the same time. If your world crashes down around you, you will probably be depressed no matter how strong you are.

As someone who has beaten depression I enjoyed hearing about her experiences with depression and her way of dealing with things. I enjoyed the fact that she wasn’t afraid to stand up and say she has trouble with depression. So many people have been or are depressed and can’t speak about it.

I also enjoyed hearing about her service as a pagan priest and hospital chaplain. We do need people to fulfil that role, but I am glad I’m not called to do that.

Bath Salts and Soap Making Course

Last Sunday I went to a course in Treadwell’s about how to make bath salts and soap. I already knew how to make bath salts, but was interested in how to make soap.

The first part of the course detailed correspondences of herbs and crystals with the planets. I was amazed at the number of people who weren’t writing anything down – how do they expect to remember it all? Then we were given a handout on the correspondences anyway. I would have preferred it if the tutor had taught people that correspondences are specific to person and not given a list to learn by rote.

The tutor was only using seven of the ten planets as the other three planets are “modern ones”. Since we’re living in the modern era, I would have preferred it if we used all ten of the planets.

The second part of the course was how to make bath salts. I enjoyed this, but prefer using Epsom salts in bath salts as they are known to help muscle aches. Apparently the magic part of it is to focus your intention while you’re making the salts or soap “to put your intention in” which I know from experience doesn’t work.

The last part was how to make soap. I was disappointed as I thought we’d be making soap from scratch, but it was because we would need a kitchen for it and apparently the lye that goes into soap can cause burns if not properly treated.

We grated unperfumed soap with a grater, added herbs and oils to it and firmed it up into a ball. The tutor added far too much essential oil to the soap, it should really only be 1 drop per 2.5 ml and gave no safety data with it or the herbs. After she told us about tripping on mugwort tea during a class she took, I thought she’d be more careful with both herbs and oils.

My soaps are drying for a week and I’ll report on how they turn out later.


Last night I went to Treadwell’s to see a talk on The Curse of the Mummy.

I would have preferred it if the speaker had taken the subject of curses more seriously, but he came at it from the angle that the curses didn’t exist and made light of the whole thing.

Undoubtedly there are curses that have been whipped up by speculation and the press, but I do believe that some are real and would have preferred to see it investigated.

It was a fun and enjoyable talk, I just felt let down by the lack of rationality.

Candle-Making Course

A couple of Sundays ago I went to a candle-making course at Treadwell’s bookshop in London.

The class was divided into two groups and I ended up with the group that was learning how to make candles by dipping. Dipping takes a long time, but you can build up layers of magical intent with dipping.

Making candles by pouring wax into moulds, which we did next, is the easier and quicker way, but you would have to inscribe your intent on the candle.

The third way to make candles is to get a sheet of beeswax and roll it up with a wick in the middle to form a candle.

I enjoyed this class and will certainly be using my knowledge to make candles for ritual in the future. I’m not sure if I will be making them for candle magic, as I’ve never really got on with candle magic.

Book Habit

I went to Treadwell’s bookshop at the weekend, fully intending only to buy “Celtic Myths and Legends” by T. W. Rolleston.  I read a copy belonging to my sister many years ago, and since then I’ve wanted my own copy.

I knew Treadwell’s had a copy as I saw it when I went for a ritual [detailed here] and because of the ritual I had a £7 credit note in my purse.  Then I saw a copy of Brian Day’s “Celtic Festivals”, which I’d read and was on my to buy list, so I had to get that.

I’m also buying a book on charms via post, so that gives me three books, plus one on order via my local library, plus another I’m currently reading and two on trees which I bought a while ago.  Which equals seven.

It’s a good thing I have a job to support my habit, now I just have to find the time to read them…

Thomas the Rhymer

On Wednesday 2nd of March I went to Treadwell’s to hear a talk on the shamanic journey of Thomas the Rhymer.

The talk went through the whole ballad and emphasised its shamanic parts.  It was interesting to hear what was to me a new theory on the ballad (and a lot more new theories when we were discussing the ballad afterwards) but I’m not sure if the ballad is shamanic or just a bog-standard ballad which someone has tried to force into shamanism.

However, to find this out would mean doing a lot of study on shamanism, of which I know very little.  It’s something I would like to look into but current demands on my time are keeping me too busy.

It was a good talk and I enjoyed the discussion afterwards.

Book Talk

Last night I went to a talk at Treadwell’s about books.  Treadwell’s is an occult bookshop in London.

The talk was fantastic!  The lecturer was an art historian who had written a dissertation on books.  Not books as in fiction or non-fiction, but the book itself, how it originated and how it was perceived through the ages.

It was my first time at Treadwell’s and I’ll certainly be going back again for more talks.