Gone gone gone

As humans, our track record of leaving things, people and places behind is very high. We do this for all kinds of reasons, often very good ones.

And while change is healthy, and we must go ever onwards, it’s also tempting to look back from time to time.

 There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them allIn My LifeThe Beatles

 Many people find abandoned places to be full of mysteries and echoes of things past, and who doesn’t find a crumbling, empty vine-covered house with broken windows more romantic and evocative than a solid, occupied structure?

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Food or drink can often trigger emotional memories, and you can come to associate certain tastes and textures with people, places and things. Mix cheap vodka with Roses Lime Cordial and I sharply recollect teenage music gigs in a provincial market town, especially if you throw in the scent of Hard Rock Hairspray and menthol cigarettes.

Walking through an abandoned village in China put me in a nostalgic mood, and I decided to recreate a lost cocktail from the past.

 If you want to visit the spooky lost village of Pak-A, it’s too simple. As long as you’re in Hong Kong, anyway.

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Banish Blues & Think Pink With A Drink

Blue Monday is more than just “the first 12”record I ever bought” for every single male of my generation without exception – it’s also the 3rd Monday in January, and is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year.

 Tell me how do I feel? Tell me now, how do I feel?New Order (1983)

 …. apparently you are supposed to feel terrible.

I refuse to have my moods dictated by days of the week and times of the year though, so let’s perform a transformation from moody blues to perfect pink, and throw in a golden charm for a wealthy 2017.

           with magic works and potent witching words, to purple and pink turn’d…

 You can always reserve feeling depressed for another time, if you were really looking forward to today, I’d hate to spoil it for you 😉

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A Gnome in Every Home

Who’s that knock knock knocking low down at your door?

If you’re in South Africa, it will be the tokoloshe, but that’s another story for another time.  If you’re in Scandinavia this year, why then it’s the nisse and his companions the Yule goat and the Friendly Pig, bringing gifts and looking forward to his bowl of porridge.

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Don’t forget to put butter on top of the porridge, that’s the way he likes it. And don’t go nibbling away at it thinking it’s like cookies for Santa. The nisse does not play, and may beat you savagely if you eat his food.

“Have you eaten the porridge for the nisse, you have to dance with him!”.

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Branching out and blossoming forth at Yule

Consort of the Goddess and symbol of male energy in divine form, The Horned God is born again at every winter solstice. He is the King of the Wood, of the hunt and wild beasts.

 As an aspect of the Green Man – god of plants and new life – he represents fertility incarnate, and in his Pan aspect, surrounds himself with nymphs and demi-goddesses for carnal purpose.

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 To those already embarking on the Christmas party circuit, the aforementioned may have a certain resonance. With Saturnalias and Bacchanalia breaking out and popping up all over the place at this time of year, it is only sensible to dress for the occasion.

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 As the nights grow longer and colder, with coloured lights glimmering and tinsel flowering out in unexpected places, let branches and antlers sprout also from your head, or twine your cranium with seasonal greenery and blossom.

 Don’t just sit around the Christmas tree. BE the tree.

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Crown yourself with Candles

This would be a good night to wreath yourself with candles and lights, as it is Saint Lucia’s Day.

Celebrated on 13th December in honour of a 3rd-century martyr who took food and aid to the persecuted as they hid in the catacombs, she wore a lighted headdress to leave her hands free to carry supplies.

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This is a popular celebration in Sweden, Norway and Finland, where girls in candle-crowns carry gingerbread and saffron rolls in procession to the accompaniment of song.

The original, ancient intent of the celebration was to illustrate the eternal struggle between dark and light, at this time of the original Yule celebrations when the winter solstice was marked mid-December.

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 A time of feasting, gift-giving and lights, the contrast with the cold and fears of the forces of the dark is perfectly demonstrated with the white-clad maidens bearing torches through the night.

 Be very careful when venturing abroad tonight especially, but any night between now and Yule.

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Lock Love Away or Keep a Secret

If you keep your eyes peeled, you can find examples of everyday transcendence from our physical reality on a street corner, down an alleyway, or through a door left open which has previously to now, always been found closed.

 By instinct we are drawn to examples of sympathetic magic, where objects found or created form a link to the thing they resemble.

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Copenhagen love locks – Photo by Irmani Smallwood

 Sympathetic or imitative magic  involves using effigies, fetishes or poppets to affect our environment, or the people around us. Objects believed to have supernatural powers can range in power from a found copper coin (See a penny, pick it up, all the day you’ll have good luck) to the notorious Voodoo Doll.

 Who wouldn’t be disturbed if they found a doll made in their image, spindled and mutilated?

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Padlocks engraved with the Chinese characters for my and my husbands names, in Hong Kong, Statue Square

 The phenomenon we will examine here is a far sweeter proposition: love locks. You may have noticed these around the place – padlocks attached to a bridge or gate to symbolize and protect love. Traditionally the names or initials of the lovers are inscribed on the lock, and the key thrown away.

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Pont des Arts love locks- Photo by Sian Wilson

In 2014, the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris started to collapse from the extra weight attached to its parapet, after which over a million love locks were removed from it.

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 So this is a popular phenomenon certainly – but if you’re going to do a thing, do it right, that’s what I say. Let’s charm your lock so that it really works.

 You can use padlocks for two main magical purposes: locking love in, or keeping a secret.

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Toronto love locks – Photo by Irmani Smallwood

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“Don’t be a sheep” this Elder Moon – Making an Elderflower Old-Fashioned

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I used to say that he’d outlive us all.  My father-in-law was a ballsy guy. He knew just what to say to break down barriers, and make friends of enemies. And his humour could reach anyone. He lied about his age so that the army would let him fight in Korea.

But it didn’t take him long to realize that people who weren’t as smart as him were ordering him around. He used to always tell people close to him not to “be a sheep”, his favourite piece of advice, and a good one I think.

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