Welcome to the Farsight Files...
- Ashley Knibb
- I have always had an interest in the Paranormal and all things strange, as far back as I can remember. However, I have never really looked deeply into the subject, well until now! You see the other great interest of mine was to write, but never found a subject which inspired me. I created the Farsight Files as a means to document my experiences, what I learn and hopefully any cases I investigate. I hope you enjoy reading the blogs and please feel free to leave comments, as they fuel further discussion and subjects for blogs.
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Saturday, 21 March 2009
Members of staff at the club have made a few reports regarding certain areas of the building. Uneasy feelings, shadows, breaking glasses and moving doors are amongst these reports.
We began by sitting around a table and quite literally calling out. It wasn’t long before Jim and Martin were off taking temperature readings and generally looking around the first floor.
ISP Vigil Three – The Ground Floor
Monday, 26 January 2009
The Guildhall itself is the forth building to actually be located within the City centre of Salisbury.
‘The Bishop’s Guildhall’ was the first to be built on the site and dated back to Tudor times. The Bishop would implement his feudal rights of criminal and civil justice from there.
The ‘Merchants Guild’ built a new headquarters in 1585 to the north of ‘The Bishop’s Guildhall’ near to where the present War Memorial stands. This new headquarters was known as ‘The Council House’.
After a banquet in 1780 ‘The Council House’ was burnt down. A generous offer of a new building was provided by the City Recorder, the Second Earl of Radnor. Due to the situation regarding the current ‘Bishop’s Guildhall’ an Act of Parliament was passed in 1795 to surrender the current Guildhall and create a new Council House and Guildhall Gaol combined.
The new ‘Guildhall’ was built pretty much on the site of the old one. The addition of the Grand Jury Room, extensions to the size of the courts and new accommodation for the judges were made during alterations made to the building in 1829.
Salisbury District Council, previously City Council has had the whole building under its control since the Municipal Corporation Act in 1835.
As me and my girlfriend Claire drove the two hour journey to Salisbury Guildhall, we spoke about how we were feeling about the night ahead of us.
Being my usual sceptic self and the Paranormal Tour at the Guildhall my first field investigation I was preparing myself for a quite night out. Whilst Claire on the other hand had one of her feelings! She doesn’t have these feelings regularly and they are usually related to the paranormal, although most of the time she would rather not experience these feelings. Claire told me that she felt we would experience something, but it was no more than a feeling just like anyone would have.
I took this onboard, but still believed that nothing would happen and prepared myself for nothing more than explainable events.
We arrived early as ever and promptly parked up outside the Guildhall. I rang Jim and met up briefly with him for a little chat. We then waited patiently as the Paranormal Tours Team set things up before heading into the Guildhall to get started.
Paranormal Tours Intro
We walked into the Guildhall and took a left into the main hall. Finding our allocated Teams table, we took our seats and waited for the event to begin.
Martin made the initial introductions to the Paranormal Team, himself, Kevin, Jim, Jenny and John (the medium). He then continued by explaining some of what we may expect during the night and what was planned for us.
The team then moved on to the Investigation Equipment which each team had on their table. They explained the items and their uses within a paranormal investigation. Each table was given the following equipment to assist them, a Canum, a Non-Contact Digital IR Thermometer, Torches, Digital Dictaphone, Dowsing Rods, EMF Meter, and a crystal.
Paranormal Tours Ghost Walk
The last member of the team to run through things with us was John the medium. John explained a few things regarding the evening’s events and how we shouldn’t be shy about coming forward about what we may feel or experience in a location during the night.
And with that we were prepared and briefed for the Salisbury Guildhall Paranormal Tour. The Team then led us onto the first location of the night for the Ghost Walk. This was so the historian could brief us on the location following John’s initial reaction to the room.
The first location was the Oak Court Room, where John picked up a few things, but mainly a Judge. He believed that connected with this Judge was possibly some negative energy and the name ‘James’. The Historian couldn’t confirm this, but did indicate that there was a very tough Judge Park, who had 28 death sentences to his name.
On the way to the second location, on the main stairs John picked up on a woman or possible two women that walked the stairs.
The second location was the Grand Jury Room where John felt as though the room had been used as a meeting place involving heated discussions. He believed it could be linked to the war and possibly D-Day.
We then moved onto the final location, the Juvenile Court and Cells. As we paused in the Court John picked up on a young girl and felt everything from laughter to anger. John also had a feeling that the room may have had a fire at some point. This was later confirmed, as the Elizabethan Guildhall was destroyed by fire in 1780.
As we headed down the stairs towards the cells, Jim of the Paranormal Tours Team pointed out a door lock which was unusually hot. It seemed to have no real explanation or reason for being hot too. My initial thoughts were more technical than paranormal, but at this point I didn’t have time to investigate.
We were shown the first group of cells and John picked up a few things. The historian added the history regarding the actual conditions criminals may have endured years ago. We then continued down to below ground, through the basement and then back up an alternative staircase into the Oak Court.
From there we headed back into the main hall for a break before heading out for our first Vigil in our teams.
Paranormal Tours Vigil One – The Oak Court Room
On entering the Oak Court Room for our first Vigil, in fact my very first Vigil I found myself apprehensive and more sceptic than ever. However, not one to miss an opportunity I grabbed my instrument of choice, a non-contact IR thermometer and began to take random readings around the room. Claire began snapping photo’s in the background. It wasn’t long before Martin announced that the lights were to be turned off. I think it was Kevin that flicked the switch and then we were in darkness, with nothing but torches and external light.
As we got going Martin began to feel cold near him up on the Judges chair, I pointed the thermometer to get a reading, the difference was only a couple of degrees and could easily be attributed to the external windows behind them.
I think it was then that Martin was to attempt calling out, for this he asked us to shut things off for complete quiet and darkness. I placed the thermometer on the desk in front of me and Claire turned off the digital camera and placed it next to it. Martin began to call out, for me the response was silence. However, it wasn’t long before that all changed.
The room was completely silent when Claire leaned over to me and whispered; ‘I think there’s a little girl here with us, I think her name is Emily!’
As Claire finished the word ‘Emily’ our digital camera vibrated and moved across the desk towards us. This shocked us both. We were totally unprepared for this kind of activity. Whilst everyone else in the room was working out what had just happened, we questioned each other trying to find a logical explanation for what we had just witnessed. There wasn’t one! With this Claire decided to take a breather outside the room to get her head around the event. I remained in the room and advised Martin of what had occurred.
I went through what had happened, trying to explain it. Could the desk have been knocked in some way? Well no, we were stood back from the desk. The desk was slightly angled, could it have slid down? Again, no it had been there for a while and not moved. Also, the thermometer had remained where it had been placed, nest to the camera. Plus the camera’s back had rubber on it making it difficult to slide. It would seem that whatever explanation we came up with, it really didn’t explain how a camera would vibrate and move by itself.
When Claire returned to the room, Martin thought it would be a good time to try some glass divination. He found a good suitable location and set things up. Two other ladies and Claire were to take part. I was going to too, but early on I decided not and continued to take some temperature readings. As ever to begin with there was no reaction to our initial questions, and then Claire tried to speak to a young girl spirit identified as Clare. This spirit was identified by Kevin as a possible sighting in the Oak Court. The divination returned a few more answers to questions regarding age and if the girl moved the camera, but nothing amazing. It’s easy to explain things like glass divination away though, such explanations as subconscious movement of the glass, for me it’s not really enough. That doesn’t mean I rule it out or exclude it.
Another display of possible activity was placed marble rolling to the floor. However, when this occurred I actually knocked a connecting desk, which may have caused the movement. Although myself and Martin tested how much force would be required to knock the marble to the floor, which was more than when I knocked it, I am still not convinced I had nothing to do with it.
This busy room also had some noticeable shadows moving about in the balcony and some additional names picked up.
Myself and Claire returned to the main hall on a Paranormal high, after witnessing the camera move. We were ready for the second location now and probably already hooked.
Paranormal Tours Vigil Two – Grand Jury Room
As we entered the room behind Paranormal Team member Jenny and the medium John, I felt like I could smell cigars for some reason. However, I kept this information to myself.
We quickly found our places and began to ready ourselves for the next vigil. Jenny explained that we would be trying out the planchet at this location and as soon as the lights went out we began.
The ladies of the Team started using the planchet and calling out to any resident spirits, I switched my camcorder on. I grabbed the IR Thermometer, placed the camcorder on the table pointed at the ladies at the end of the table and took a few readings.
It wasn’t long before John was picking up on a few things and mentioned that he felt a presence around where the ladies were seated. Claire asked John if the presence was close by to her and if it was that of a man, to which the answer was a yes. Claire believed that the presence was so close that she felt as if it was touching her.
Although Claire, John and other members of the Team felt a presence of one, two or even three different spirits, the planchet seemed to be unsuccessful.
I checked my camcorder on the table, which had appeared to have turned itself off. However, I wasn’t sure if this was me or the camera possibly at fault. I set the camera to record and returned it to its original location on the table.
A little while into the vigil, John suggested to Claire to maybe sit in the Judges Parlour (connected to the Grand Jury Room) by herself to see what she may possibly experience. Claire’s initial reaction was ‘No’, but I managed to talk her into it with me to go in with her. So we took our digital camera and headed in.
Claire sat on a chair, pretty much in the middle of the room with me crouched in front of her. She called out to see if we could gain any reactions, but it was hard to be sure of anything as there was quite a bit of noise coming from outside. However, once again Claire felt a presence and briefly as if something or someone touched her. Then she thought she saw something by the door and decided it was time for us to leave!
We returned to the main Grand Jury Room to continue investigating with the rest of the Team.
As we sat around the table with Jenny and John, many of the Team picked up on a few things, possibly spirits. I wasn’t one of them. However, as we sat there Claire sensed something. A little embarrassed to bother John, Claire asked me to pass on the information. I asked him if there was someone stood close by to him. He said ‘yes’, but then looked to Claire to answer his question. ‘Where about?’ he asked. Claire told him that the person was stood between me and John, but wasn’t that much taller than him sitting down. Claire then asked if John knew whether this person was a man or a woman. John told us he did, and Claire immediately asked if it was a woman. John replied ‘yes’. Then Claire and the other Claire in our group went onto describe what the woman was wearing, to which John confirmed most.
It wasn’t long after this that the Grand Jury Room vigil came to an end and we returned to the main hall for a coffee break.
Paranormal Tours Vigil Three – Juvenile Court and Cells
This was our final vigil location and to be honest the one I thought maybe something may occur. Jim our Paranormal Tours Team Member for this location lead there and took us straight through to the cells. However, for us this was decidedly the least active area. I spent at least ten minutes with two other team members in one of the cells, but experienced nothing. In fact I felt decidedly comfortable.
As we left the cells, myself and Jim paused to investigate the warm door lock, which was a little unusual. On initial review it seemed odd that the lock could be hot at the centre, but around the edges it was a great deal cooler. The wood frame didn’t even seem affected by the heat either. Is this Paranormal or logical explanation? Jim and I concluded that it was the actual lock and that the paranormal didn’t have a hand in this little mystery. Later analysis would show that this was a ‘Mag Lock’ and thus could get hot if installed poorly or left open for long amounts of time.
The Juvenile Court was also quiet and more of a wind down to the end of the night. We attempted a little calling out and placed a marble on a desk, asking a spirit to move it. However, we had no reaction to our requests and after a while called it a night.
We waited for the call on the radio for us to return to the main hall before heading back.
Paranormal Tours Conclusions & Round Up
With all Teams and the Paranormal Team Members returned to the main hall, Martin kicked off the debriefing. He crossed referenced our findings with the other Teams, asking each Team what they found in each location.
It was interesting to hear the variations between the Teams and what they experienced. For example my Team found the Cells fairly inactive, but other Teams found the Cells full of activity.
Martin’s final question to us all before wishing us on our way was simple. ‘Had the evening changed what we believed when we arrived?’ It hadn’t though, as it seemed I was the only sceptic and only one possibly who may have changed his mind. I hadn’t though, still sceptical through and through. You see after all what I had experienced I was still only left with evidence I couldn’t truly explain.
We thanked the Paranormal Tours Team and headed off on our two and bit hour journey home. Even though I was slightly tired and more than ready for my bed, I was on a high after what I had just experienced.
My Thoughts and Feelings on the Investigation
For me and Claire this was an excellent introduction to Paranormal Investigation. I had approached the event with the felling that I wasn’t going to get a lot out of it, but actually did. As a sceptic I always look to explain things away, with this investigation there was plenty of things I experienced which could be easily explained away. However, the movement of our camera for us was totally unexplainable. We tried along with Martin to debunk the movement, but couldn’t find a viable explanation.
This was a successful opening to field investigation in my mind, with plenty of good information and experiences.
Paranormal Tours present a good evening of ghost hunting of which I am now hooked, so hopefully won’t be too long before I join them again for another investigation.
Salisbury Guildhall had some good activity and is an excellent location, which deserves a proper all night investigation with all the ghost hunting gadgets.
Paranormal Tours proved excellent guides, but there are limitations to an investigation when you are attempting to guide several people around a haunted location. I realised that as soon as I experienced some activity I was hooked and wanted to investigate further, but time for us was short.
Is the Salisbury Guildhall haunted? I’m too sceptic to answer that, but I know some unexplained stuff happened there, which has left an after effect on me. If you get the chance to go to the Guildhall on an investigation, it may be well worth it. Although, I know others may not share this opinion as they experienced fairly little at the Guildhall.
All in all though a good night of ghost hunting with the Paranormal Tours Team. Myself and Claire thank you all.
As ever, please feel free to leave me a comment below. Thank you for taking the time to read this and remember to keep an eye on Facebook and this site for my next post.
Thursday, 22 January 2009
As Jessica Foreman of Knuts and Bolts Productions prepares for the first night at the Jamaica Inn, the first investigation site for her paranormal series 'I Want To Believe'. I thought now would be a good time to post this piece on her and the production.
Before I get into the bits and pieces on Jessica herself, I thought I would just post the link for the promo for the series as it stands.
Filming begins tonight and we wish the team and fellow Paranormal Investigators (Miles Cason, Josie King, Melanie Bennett, Carl Ventre, Wesley Osmond, Mark Johnson, Ana Stone and Steve Westbrook) the best of luck. I wish I was joining the investigation, as the Jamaica Inn is a fabulous location and on my list of places to investigate. Fingers crossed that you'll capture some good evidence of activity there.
With filming due to start, I have decided to share the conversation that I had with Jessica regarding her, her interest in the paranormal and the 'I Want To Believe' production.
I stumbled across Jessica and the 'I Want To Believe' show courtesy of Facebook by complete chance I think. In fact I think somebody somewhere pointed it out as something I should take a look at which I am really glad that I did. At the time I was just starting out in the paranormal field, learning all the time, but had some ideas in my head. One of which is a TV Series of my own (watch this space), but after getting the idea pretty much sorted I soon realised that no one was truely interested in the idea. To be honest I don't think they even bothered with it. The only feedback I ever received was that it would be pointless going up against such a brand name as Most Haunted. However, when I first spoke to Jessica about the idea and in turn her show too, I soon realised something I hadn't seen before. This was someone who personally had an interest in the paranormal too, not only that was interested in producing something of worth. She told me in brief her idea and advised me to attend the open call to be on the show, which I did and found myself in the second group. So, if the pilot is successful (fingers crossed) then I should be attending an I Want To Believe investigation.
As ever I wanted to know more! So managed to convince Jessica to have a little MSN interview with me, and here we are.
Jessica became interested in the Paranormal much unlike the rest of us, something in her past sparked an interest and a thirst to know more. She told ghost stories with her friends as any of us may have. However, in her case the spark that linked the gost stories to entertainment may have come from a slightly different source, the TV show 'Ghostwatch'. The show 'blew me away' she told me, and she incorporated the idea into her own ghost stories. She would make videos of herself and friends visiting supposedly haunted locations around her neighbourhood, which were not actually haunted at all, but they pretended they were. A simple play on the 'Ghostwatch' idea.
Ghostwatch, although a total hoax and clever one at that brought TV investigations of the paranormal into the mainstream. It probably paved the way for shows like Most Haunted.
'Most Haunted started as a good idea, but became too commercial and therefore another fake, or most of it.' Jessica commented. To be honest I have to agree, I lost faith in Most Haunted long ago and alothough they are once again trying to show the use of proper investigation techniques, my trust in the show has gone.
'They use good professionals, but waste their knowledge.' Jessica added. Again I have to agree, as far as I can tell so far paranormal investigation is all about the knowledge, the information, the evidence and cross matching those to prove theories and substantiate evidence. If you have access to good professionals and information always use it.
Jessica helped her former business partner at Knuts & Bolts Thomas Reynolds produce some sci-fi series, which were following in the footsteps of the X-Files. However, passionate about her paranormal interests, Jessica wanted to show audiences what really goes on in haunted places.
Reality TV wasn't really Jessica's thing orginally. 'Thought it was a cheap shot at getting people famous, or something.' She told me. However, it wasn't long before she realised the potential to do some good work in the area. And after meeting with an old friend and discussing those old ghost stories, the 'I Want To Believe' series idea was born.
With her contacts and experience on the hit UK paranormal TV series Most Haunted, Jessica got to work putting together her show. It was from Most Haunted that she met her shows Medium, Pierter Morgan. 'Through Morgan I got a wider view of the proper paranormal investigation world.' She told me, and it was then she began her own research in to who would be the best investigator for her show.
Just like I did, Jessica discovered some of Andrew Green's work and then Ted Thornby, who learnt from Andrew. She wanted Morgan and Thornby for her own series and she is making it happen. However, she required some backing and once again through Morgan she met a very interesting man, who must remain nameless, but is the main backer of her show.
It was with finance in place and the help of her team that Jessica managed to secure Thornby for the production. She knew he had to be involved from his passion and knowledge of the paranormal. Thornby didn't disappoint either and gave his full attention to the creation of the show. ' I listened to all the advise he had on how to shape each episode and what would be the best to show the audience.' Jessica told me and from this advise the format of the show came together.
A new approach came to light, rather than spending a single night investigating a location the show was to remain in the same location for several nights. This was to properly investigate the location using Thornby's methods and gadgets. In addition to this a group of paranormal enthusiasts would join the investigation with their own cameras and assist in the investigation. The idea is for the combined equipment of Thornby and the enthusiasts to cover as much of the location as possible. That way if the evidence is there, then hopefully the team will find it. These groups of enthusiasts will also change after a couple of episodes, allowing for fresh views and ideas to enter the show. All in all a format and idea I think may just work. Thats not just because I am in the second group either, but does encourage me to look forward to it all the more.
I wish Jessica, Ted Thornby, Pieter Morgan and everyone else good luck in tonights investigation and filming of the first episode, the pilot for 'I Want To Believe'. We look forward to seeing the results and the pilot itself ofcourse.
Please keep an eye on the Knuts and Bolts Productions website (http://knutsandbolts.com/tv.html) for further show details. Who knows it may be hitting our TV screens soon.
Also, as ever please free to comment on this post below, I really enjoy reading you comments and sometimes include them in future posts.
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
Although ghosts, spirits and haunted locations are not specifically Nick’s area of expertise, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask him a few questions. As ever I will share the answers to these questions with you, my blog readers.
Nick is now recognized as a leading authority on UFO's and matters of the unexplained, not just in Britain, but now world wide. It's well documented how this position came about through working for the MoD, being headhunted for the position in the UFO Unit and thus taking up the position as his next post.
Investigating UFO sightings for the MoD has had an obvious impact on Nick’s life and career, but did he ever imagine he would be taking this direction when he took up the post?
‘At the time, I regarded this posting as just another tour of duty in what would probably be a 40 year career in the Ministry of Defence. I had no idea of the impact it would have on my world view and my career. As a direct result of that posting I've written 4 books and left the MoD after 21 years. I now earn my living as a freelance journalist and TV commentator, covering subjects including the unexplained, fringe science, conspiracy theories, science fiction, space and defence. It's very different from life in the civil service.’
Many articles, reports and such have been written on Nick’s experiences in the UFO Unit opening our eyes to many things, but I think something I can relate to is how he mentions that many UFO sightings are misidentifications rather than actual UFO's. Nick mentioned that 80% of reports fit this category, then 15% are cases where there is insufficient information to draw conclusions, with the final 5% being actually unexplained. These figures make sense. However, of those 5% that are unexplained can we conclude we are truly not alone? If you base space on stats then surely a rational person should be able to conclude that there are enough star systems and other galaxies that one at least must hold intelligent life with the distinct possibility that the life there is far more advanced than us. I asked Nick what he thought about all this.
‘The percentages you quote are indeed the ones I use, based on my own official research and investigation. However, in strictly logical terms, "unexplained" doesn't imply extraterrestrial and simply means that no conventional explanation was found, despite an exhaustive investigation. Most scientists agree that there should be life elsewhere in the Universe, but there's less consensus on intelligence and considerable resistance to the idea of extraterrestrial visitation.'
Nick soon became coined as the 'real Fox Mulder' and investigator of the 'real X-Files', but how does he feel about his title? More importantly are there any similarities between Nick and the Fox Mulder character? And, has this link done him any favours or has it hindered his work?
‘At first I was irritated by the comparison because I felt it trivialised my government work. But in time I came to regard it as fun. It's probably helped my career as it contributed to my high media profile. One of the ways in which I currently earn my living is doing tie-in media interviews to promote films and TV series dealing with the unexplained (e.g. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Torchwood and Fringe) and working on PR/advertising campaigns using themes from sci-fi or the unexplained. I worked with 20th Century Fox promoting The X-Files: I Want to Believe and met David Duchovny and Chris Carter at the premiere!’
However, although Nick’s main field was UFO's I believe that some cases of paranormal which didn't involve flying saucers were looked into by him also.
After reading that MoD and Military have co-operated with the Ghost Club of Great Britain, allowing them access to restricted sites such as Coalhouse Fort and the Master Ropemasters House in Plymouth to investigate the paranormal. I wondered if Nick had any dealings or knowledge of such investigations and their results.
As a race we are still in our infancy, developing all the time and constantly looking for more knowledge. I think we are just beginning to allow ourselves to accept some things which previously we may have considered to be impossible. If we look back through history we see as we develop and change through time that more things previously thought to be impossible or not approachable, are slowly becoming more readily accepted. A prime example being the original belief that the world was flat and not a sphere, as it is. People were so sure it was flat they would argue against it being round and fear travelling too far, after all they would drop over the edge if they did. However, through time, science and evidence minds have been changed, but what was Nick’s take on all this.
‘Historically, theories and phenomena dismissed at the time have often been validated by later research and discoveries. This may turn out to be the case with ghosts, UFOs and all manner of other strange phenomena.’
After all if it had good results or was developed correctly and to the right level, could it not be used against crime, which beckons the question, so why hasn't it been developed for us all? Personally I first heard of Remote Viewing many years back when I was doing some research of my own. I discovered the US Military researched it under the Blue Book Operations of Grill Flame, Sun Streak and Star Gate. These Operations have since ended, I believe in the early 90's. However, it’s possible that the research has continued under a new name. What are Nick’s thoughts on the continued research of Remote Viewing by government’s worldwide. Does he think this subject is under active research today? And, what are his feelings on the pro's and cons of Remote Viewing?
All in all Nick Pope is a very interesting man with a vast knowledge of the unexplained, especially on the subject of UFO’s. I enjoyed having the opportunity to ask him a few questions. Also, if you were or are a fan of the X-Files and Fox Molder, then Nick Pope is pretty much the UK’s answer to this, but Nick’s investigations were far from fictional.
If you are interested in Nick’s work then please check out his website at http://nickpope.net/, it has loads of information on UFO’s and the unexplained.
As ever if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them by clicking on the word ‘comments’ at the bottom of this post. I will be happy to answer questions, if I can.
Friday, 12 December 2008
History it seems has had this view too, persecuting the witch through time, pushing them out of our communities and even hunting them down. From the witch trials and subsequent killings of witches in the middle ages right through to modern times when the differences of the witches beliefs are seen as wrongful by usual religions.
Ironically though witchcraft, as its known is actually an older belief system than many modern religions, which seek so hard to label it as evil. It’s possible to trace some of its origins right back to prehistoric times. Where the first gods to be worshipped would be those of the hunt, as this would be related directly to man’s source of food. Following the development of farming, which created the second source of food, a second god was created. As the hunt was tended by the men, the related God was identified as male, the Father God. And as the crops were tended by the women the God associated with this was identified as female, the Mother Goddess. These are thus referred to as the God and Goddess of witchcraft today.
As the Witches religious practices became more refined, certain men and women developed an affinity for their worship and became leaders in the rituals. These individuals became known as the Priests and Priestesses. As the seasons changed, so did the needs of the people, creating set days for the rituals to be performed. Each of the rituals was specialised for the needs of the people and the seasons. The Sun and the Moon movements would determine this too. Creating most celebrations on the solstices, Full and New Moon, possibly even equinoxes.
As man evolved further he began to classify things to masculine and feminine, determining which deity would be responsible for certain things. The Moon was determined to have feminine qualities and naturally associated with the Goddess. The Sun was in a similar way associated with the God. The Horned God became a solar deity and the Goddess a lunar one. More Gods and Goddesses were added to have influence over every facet of human life.
As religion developed over time these principles remained similar across the board, with variations and changes to names and types of Gods. It wasn’t until Christianity became the main religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th Century that it began to spread across the continent. It was the far reaches of the Roman Army which aided its quick growth.
As we enter the Middle Ages Christianity continued to grow with the aid of Missionaries. Who would entre territories and try and convert them from the top down. The monarch and more populated areas would be targeted first. They set up Christian altars in the same place as Pagan ones. This meant the towns were converted, but those who lived out in the country were left worshipping the old religions. They became known as Pagans. The Christian soon labelled these Pagans as heathens or non-believers. Then they brought in the Inquisition to convert everyone to Christianity. They labelled deities of old as Satan, by associating the Horned God with the devil. They used death and torture to force the people to convert. Their message was clear, convert or suffer the consequences.
This would lead into the Witch Hunts, where individuals were tried for their beliefs in the old ways. Once accused of being a Witch there was little chance of escape and the torture was so great that the individual would usually confess to anything.
As the Trials continued across the continent and many lost their lives, the Craft was driven underground, which is where it would remain and still does today really. However, through time it has had associations with key figures. Amongst these were William II, King Edward III, Duchess of Salisbury, and others.
As the 1800’s drew to a close it would have seemed that the old religion of Witchcraft had died out. The trials had left numerous lies and half-truths in the place of Witchcraft, and it seemed there was no one to speak on behalf of the Witches. However, a book called Aradia: The Gospel of the Witches emerged at the turn of the century. Its author Charles Leland passed on information from a practicing Italian witch. This acknowledged that the craft hadn’t yet died out totally.
As the last of the anti-witchcraft laws was withdrawn in 1951, Gerald Gardener wrote a series of books. These books told of witchcraft through the eyes of its practitioners. Correspondents from other covens came to Gardener from all over the world, each coven believing that they were the last. Although it had gone under ground the craft was still as strong as ever. Right up until his death in 1964 Gardener helped to found many covens and bring witchcraft to new generations.
It was at this time whilst Gardener was trying to sort things out and bring some order to the craft, that much of the current Wiccan Rituals were developed. As ever with witchcraft many accused Gardener of making it all up. However, Doreen Valiente has found evidence to prove the existence of Gardener’s High Priestess, Dorothy Clutterbuck and thus validating his information. Gardener played a large part in the crafts revival and was a trained witch. He drew from his sources, rituals that had meaning and embodied the spirit of what the witches’ ancestors celebrated.
Others came forward in Gardener’s wake and wrote books on the craft, such as Alexander and Maxine Sanders, Robert Cochrane and Ray Buckland. The craft was at the beginning of a revival and clearly had a lot to offer. Witchcraft has become, I suppose it always was, a beautiful religion, which has been based a little on tradition. However, the craft has now been rebuilt using many disciplines such as archaeology, anthropology, and others. The religion holds many possibilities for people in modern society.
During 1974, the Council of American Witches came together and drew up a “Principles of Belief”. These were deemed to be the core principles of the Wiccan belief.
Following this many new leaders and authorities have emerged, such as Laurie Cabot, Stewart and Janet Farrer and Silver Ravenwolf. As with many subjects and causes the internet has exploded the ability to communicate with others and exchange information. Witchcraft, although an ancient belief is no exception to this technology and as others, has benefitted from it also. Witches now communicate, exchange ideas and information faster than ever, helping the craft to grow stronger.
However, even today it seems that admitting that you are a witch is not easy. Telling friends and family that your chosen religion is that of witchcraft, is still not accepted like that of Christianity. So, why in this day and age, when an individual’s freedom to choose is so prominent do witches remain in the shadows?
So, what would we define a modern day witch as, someone who hasn’t got a job, lives off the land with natural remedies? Well maybe, but in fact they are more likely to be anyone you know. I spoke to a modern day solitary witch, to discover more about the craft. My first shock, although her chosen religion was witchcraft, her day job was Marine Science. Obviously not the first career which I would guess, in fact I don’t think I would have it on my top ten guesses as that of the career of a witch! In reality this witch is a normal person holding down a normal job.
My 30 year old practicing solitary witch tells me that being a witch today is all about being in tune with your environment, honouring the Lord and Lady in their various aspects and having respect for all living things. She tells me that this may not be the view on witchcraft, but it’s her own. I guess that is the wonderful thing about the craft, although there are certain guidelines, it can pretty much be manufactured to suit the individual. Unbeknown to her work colleagues this solitary witch has a small altar at home, she celebrates the sabbats and her garden is full of herbs and plants. The craft allows her to emerge herself in nature, learn about herb lore and the old ways.
Witches are known to have in their possession information personal to themselves and that of the old ways. The information is usually collected in a form which has become known as ‘the book of shadows’. There have been many theories and representations of what ‘the book of shadows’ contains, but in reality each book is personal to the witch which created it. My solitary witch has a book, but it doesn’t contain spells, as this isn’t something she likes to dabble in. Her book reflects her path, places she has visited, energy work she has done, spirits she has come across and meditations she has felt important enough to write down. In reality, the witches ‘book of shadows’ doesn’t seem as magical or spooky as we have been led to believe. Obviously it is possible that more powerful witches with more experience may have more dangerous information in their book. Perhaps even spells!
Wanting to know more about the witches’ rituals I decided to ask my solitary witch. She gave me a quick example of a protection ritual. ‘You would get next to your altar, cast yourself a magic circle using salt, call in the elements, then the Lord and Lady. Then say a few words to ask for protection and close down the circle. That’s a quick one’
My solitary witch has been following the craft for about 8 years now, but what lead her to this religion. Like many who decide on a religion, we like to make sure it fits in with our beliefs. The reasons for choosing the craft for this witch was relatively simple though, it just ticked all the boxes and it all just seemed to fit in with her beliefs. However, in my opinion though it took great courage to take on such a religion, which has been passed off for being evil for so many years.
Our opinion of witchcraft is one shrouded in evil and darkness, but how is this? The solitary witch helped me to understand. She explained it as the energy of the Earth/Divine is just energy – neither good nor bad, but balanced. It is up to the individual to choose how to use this energy. Some use it for the ‘good’ of all and quest for balance. However, some become twisted by the power of it and use it for their own purposes. In life we all have our own path to walk, mistakes to learn from and there are those who will exploit the energy. Whether this makes them a ‘black witch’ or a ‘Satanist’ or something else, unrelated to witchcraft is unknown. This depends on the individuals’ belief system and what they want to call themselves. If they were a true witch then they would be fully aware of the codes and the repercussions of their behaviour.
So as there are no hard and fast rules, or Holy Scriptures to be tied to, witchcraft can almost be whatever you want it to be. To use the current buzz word, it’s all very fluid. You can honour the Lord and Lady (God and Goddess) in whatever way you see fit as long as ‘ye harm none’. The concept is to impact as little as possible on the environment, be in synch with the world and those who live in it. A witch must know about their surroundings in the form of geology, herb logy, etc. A witch won’t attempt to convert you to the craft, as they believe we each have our own path to lead.
I won’t be subscribing to the craft myself just yet, but that’s because I don’t wish to subscribe to any religion. However, if I was forced to choose, then this would be a high candidate. I truly hope the craft continues to grow and finds its place amongst the mainstream religions where it belongs. I hope it gains the recognition it deserves and our witches don’t feel they have to remain in the shadows, hiding their chosen religion. A religion they should be aloud to be openly proud of.
As ever I am by no means perfect and may have missed something or misunderstood information, if this is the case or you just wish to comment on this post, please feel free. All comments are welcomed and help me to ensure I get it right.
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
I have spent some time interviewing and researching Witches with the aim to write up a piece on them outlinning our modern Witch and their beliefs. Hopefully they wont be trialed like their ancestors, but still a great many keep their belief behind closed doors through fear of todays societies reaction. We are a world and even a country of many races, religions and beliefs surely accepting Witches can be achieved now. Well I will write it up and post here for your opinion and usual comments, see what you think?
What else has Farsight been up to? Well I was recently in communication with Jessica Foreman of Knuts of Bolts Productions. Knuts and Bolts specialise in paranormal productions and are currently putting together a series called 'I Want To Believe', which takes a group paranormal enthusiasts such as Farsight and puts them with a resident Ghost Hunter and Medium for a possible three plus night investigation. Myself, Jim (ISP) and my girlfriend made the trip to central London for the shows 'Open Call'. I must add at this point that myself and Jim are not really the types to just do something with the hope of being on TV, well I know I am not and pretty sure Jim isn't. However, this would be an opertunity to work with Ted Thornby (trained by the legendary Andrew Green), also it may be a chance to investigate a single location for more than just a single night.
Well the 'Open Call' passed swiftly and to be honest I didn't think I would get in, mainly due to my lack of field experience or experience at all for that matter. Plus my lack of confidence, its not every day you are asked to answer questions looking at a camera instead of the person who asked you. However, Jessica, Alek and crew were all very nice and made the experience pass without a hitch. We were soon on our way home wondering the results. My girlfriend and I said goodbye to Jim at Leicester Square tube station, as he headed off on a long train journey to join an investigation at Bisham Abbey. Lucky man.
A few days later the result came through from Jessica, and myself and Jim had been given a place in the second group. This means that if the Pilot is successful and the series gets the go then we would appear in the second group of episodes. So fingers crossed on that one.
So whats next then for Farsight? Hopefully a few more posts on the blog regarding the paranormal. A possible TV appearance and taking part in a investigation lasting more than one night. I hope to get some proper investigations under the Farsight belt in the new year also, giving us more to document and higher credibility. After all it would be nice to enter the TV thing with some investigation experience!
As ever if you have anything you would like mentioned, discussed or researched on the blog, drop me a comment. Until next time..