So, just who are we? As you have now found, there exists a website for a Magickal Group, The Hearth of Albion Coven, a self claimed British Traditional Witchcraft Group, newly formed and based on the North-West of the Uk, covering Cheshire, Manchester, Derbyshire and Lancashire. Or at least that is what we claim, but how do you truly know what to believe? Do we in fact exist, are we real people, and if in fact we are ‘real’, do we merely talk the talk or do we actually Walk the Walk of BTW Witchcraft, can we validly make the claims of being BTW? Read on to understand more!
It would be understandable if you were to question (and slightly worrying if you did not, for as a seeker you should approach everything with an open mind but also with scepticism until the information is proven – to your own mind at least – to have merit) the Validity of the Group, to question the Authenticity of our writing and claims and to even doubt as to whether an actual real life group of Witches called ‘The Hearth of Albion’ existed, for all you know it could be nothing more then the inane ramblings of a single deluded mind, nothing more than fantasy and something that actually does not exist in reality – or worse, perhaps something that is designed to entice people to join and to then take advantage of them! Or perhaps it is a group of Pagans who exist, but what they do is not what they claim they do!
In either case you would be wise to question our existence, and to question the truth in what we say, not the least because in asking questions and seeking answers we form our own worldview and only by overcoming our doubts can we then ascertain the truth in what we find, but also as there are many individual Pagans that we have all come across those within the wider Pagan community who make grand claims to a special lineage, or to hidden knowledge sources, or to being a member of a hereditary family tradition that has escaped detection for hundreds of years, or even to being the reincarnation of one famous mystic or another. Whether these individuals make these claims because they are in fact true, or whether it is to inflate their own ego and sense of self importance, or in order to validate their own beliefs and practices and to thus appear more reliable in their message to others, or whether it is those with genuine mental health issues making these claims, it matters not, we have all come across others whose words sound great and we would all like to believe that what they have to say is for real, but most of the time, deep down inside, we know that not all the claims are made by others can be substantiated. Yes, there are exceptions, there are those who can make claims and validate them, I have met a few, yes, there is Lore out there that proves certain things, but in general it is not widely known or shared and is often considered ‘sub rosa’ and ‘Oathbound’ in its nature. However, I digress, apologies, the question should be, how can we, the individuals who make up the Coven of the Hearth of Albion actually provide you with proof, how can we show you that we actually exist, both as individuals and as a Magickal Working Group and that what we say, claim to do and have written here is in fact the truth as far as we see it?
I suppose we could ‘Step out of the Broom Closet’, outing our mundane identities for all the world to see, and although individually we are all out of the Broom Closet as Pagans and Witches, there is still a world of difference between being an out and proud pagan as an individual and putting your name and face to an online group, a website and a British Traditional Witchcraft Group. Although in reality it should not matter what religion one chooses nor what flavour of Pagan you are, those who are BTW Witches can be seen to be something more than just a tree hugging nature loving Pagan to those not on the inside of the tradition, Traditional Witchcraft still has a rather more sinister reputation, and despite the fact that Wicca is now more accepted than ever, there are those who still would feel concerned about our involvement with the Darker Arte and the Occult. As several of our members work in sensitive jobs, and others have a visibility in the mundane world should we then risk our mundane good names, our jobs and livelihoods in order to post a few pictures of ourselves and show you who we are? No, there are reasons that the Witches of Old kept themselves to themselves, hid their identities and did not step out of the Shadows, in extremis it could have been a quick way to the Hangman’s noose, in lesser cases it could still have resulted in ostracisation from the community. Even today in our more ‘enlightened’ times there is sufficient evidence to suggest that to step fully out of the Shadows is not wise, those who do not wish to acknowledge the power of the Witch could use us as targets and belittle us in order to attempt to remove what they perceived as our power, those of other faiths can take affront and this can result in at best misunderstanding and difficulties, and at worst – as has been all too recently evidenced – in murder! Overall there are far more reasons for us to remain, as individuals, anonymous, than there are for us to announce to all and sundry just whom we are.
So that leaves us with a quandary, in order to prove we exist and that what we have said is true we still have to show some proofs, yet there are, at least to our minds, valid reasons why we have chosen to continue to hide our identities, so how do we proceed? Instead of giving you – someone we do not know – all of the information about ourselves as individuals and thus technically handing you on a plate some form of Power over us, instead we will share some of our experiences and a brief Magickal / Spiritual Biography of our individual selves.
Our Bio’s will give you the basics of our experiences, they will not allow any of us to make any grandiose claims that where or what we studied is ‘the true’ or ‘only’ way of BTW Witchcraft, nor will it allow us to prove that our Lore is Ancient or predates our involvement with the groups within which we have trained, we cannot share that which is Oathbound, nor to furnish you with proofs that what we learned is anything more than what our tutor taught us from his own practices, in some cases deliberate ‘blinds’ were used in order to highlight areas of personal growth for us as individuals and as groups, but although we cannot do these things, what we can do within this website is to proffer the Lore and practices that we are currently using, to share that which we are finding currently works for us. Whether you believe us, whether you take it and put it to the test, whether it works for you, well, that is for you to find out for yourself, I cannot walk your Crooked Path for you, I can perhaps point you along the way, nothing more.
Read it and judge it for yourself, does it feel like the truth to you, are we making grandiose claims and statements, is the writing egotistical, or is it instead something that makes you feel that what we say has meaning to us as individuals, that who we are is more than what is written, does it feel truthful, do we appear to have Honour? If you believe that we do, then you have your proofs, if however you feel otherwise, then no amount of data will convince you otherwise, intuition and that gut feeling are important, more important within Traditional Witchcraft than most Pagans will acknowledge. It is your call, you have to trust the instincts and your own judgement, no-one else can make your mind up for you, as it should be!
Breacca of Albion
I am early 50’s in age, female, originally hailing from a small town on the edge of the Potteries and have belonged to 2 linked BTW ‘Family’ groups, being offered Initiation within one, 3 Eclectic Witchcraft groups, being Initiated in one and being a Co-Founder of 2, and have been an out and proud pagan for the past 15 years, and a seeker of a pagan persuasion for another 15+ years before that.
I started my spiritual journey in my early teens, rejecting the christian church aged 13 as it just did not feel right for me, this was followed by a long period of searching, finding many things over many years, gaining in experience and information, but nothing felt quite right, it wasn’t until I met my (then) future husband and told him of my personal beliefs that he then put a name to them, that of Witchcraft! I then started to learn in earnest, quickly finding that which most new Pagans find, Wicca, specifically Solitary Eclectic Wicca, we learned quickly, and soon found ourselves outstripping the resources available online and through various online groups, so set out to find our own answers and recorded this on our website, the now defunct ‘Silver Wolf’s Lair’. Our website grew to be 165K words over 65 pages, all of which was designed to give information and to prompt others to find their own answers. After several years of study, being asked to help run a large online group and having taught Eclectic Wicca to 1st Degree we found ourselves so out of balance with the ‘light’ focus of Wicca that we fell on our metaphorical noses!
Taking a sabbatical we soon made contact with a Teacher in the East of the UK, who was running her own training course in BTW, she was affiliated with a BTW ‘Family’ and we received training, over the net and face to face with her and with the Family over the next 2 years, when our Teacher and the original Family split we stayed with our Teacher, being offered Initiation into the state of being known as ‘Witch’. Not long after this after a difference of opinion with one of the group we walked away. A sabbatical followed for 9 months, followed by making contact with a local Coven and being trained through their 1st Degree YAAD course and receiving Initiation from them into their Coven. A few years later it dawned on us that we were not being satisfied with what we were doing, and on finding what appeared to be a Tutor from the Clan of Tubal Cain, we took our leave from the Eclectic Coven and received some training from the new tutor. This unfortunately did not work out and it was proven that her claims of being linked with the COTC were false, so we walked away and again we took sabbatical, continuing to practice together as we felt the need.
In mid 2013 ago we saw an ad and made contact with a new group forming locally, which consisted of some of those we had previously worked with in the Eclectic Coven, it sounded right and felt good, so we joined, after a few months one of the group started a teaching course, and as soon as we could we started to help with the teaching, which gave us extra confidence. This culminated in the student group being birthed into a Coven in its own right at Solstice 2014, with Rites held at Rollright Stones, Uffington and Weylands Smithy, Avebury and West Kennet Longbarrow on the Solstice day and night, and Glastonbury Tor 2 days later. This group brought together a disparate group of folks of differing experience level and built alignment and congruity for a while, but through personal problems of one couple it then started to splinter, and we also found ourselves being left once more unfulfilled with the practices and instead of attempting to remain when our hearts were no longer in it sought instead to return to the deeper connections we had found with BTW Witchcraft. Along with Daeneb and Aldebaran (the 2 we felt most connected with from the student group/Coven) Uhtred and I formed The Hearth of Albion and we work together as a group of equals. Yes, I will admit, Ulrich and I are leading the training as we run through the YAAD course with the others for the first time, but this is only to ensure we have shared all that is required and that the course is then ready for our first proper student intake in the Spring. Once the YAAD course is ready and the others within the group have gained the knowledge we are sharing with them, then we will co-run the group as equals between the 4 of us. I tend to cleave towards a Warrior mentality, which can I believe (so I am told) make me seem a little scary, but generally I am a person who likes to teach by experience and learn as much from the students as they do from me.
Uhtred of Albion
I am a man of few words, I am married to Breaca so have shared the experiences she has already written about above. I tend to be the Instinctive one of the 2 of us, Breacca will think deeply and do her research before listening to her gut instinct, whereas I tend to go straight for the instinct and intuition, which means we work well together. I am the natural Witch, the one who watches and listens and feels that connection deep within.
So who is Aldebarran of Albion?
Aldebarran of Albion – Now on sabbatical
This is a question asked by many (notably the wife and occasionally the taxman) but understood by few.
I was brought up in the wild yonder of Suffolk. ‘Tis a lonely, desolate place (I’m not kidding, we didn’t even have street lighting) so I spent a great deal of my time lying on the bed in our spare bedroom, reading. We had a large collection of books, a lot of cheap novels that my father picked up in the sixties, but amongst them were a small collection of role-playing fantasy books. I devoured these like a dog devours a slice of prime ribeye, and read them again and again. I spent time as a warrior roaming the country slaying monsters, an elven thief picking locks, but my favourite were always the couple that allowed me to be a wizard, and to use magic. I day dreamed of this for years, but it wasn’t real, just in stories. That kind of revelation can really hit a kid!
Fast forward a few years. By this time I had started attending a Sunday school, and then church. I got quite involved in this, and dedicated a few hours a week to the church. My mother was convinced I was going to end up taking the cloth, and becoming a vicar.
But after a while, the longer I spent thinking about things, the less it made sense to me. I simply didn’t understand how God could be on both sides in a war. Or how we were supposed to give all free will over to him. It made no sense to me. Now I am not here to attack Christianity. I am well aware that it gives a great number of people a huge level of comfort, and I am also aware that an enormous amount of very good work is done in the name of God. I am just saying that I basically lost my faith, and moved away from things.
But I kept reading. I read a lot more of the reference side of books now, and began to “feed my brain”. It got me through a very traumatic time in my teenage life, and it was one of these trips to the library that was to set me on my current path.
I found a couple of books by Janet and Stewart Farrar, “The Witches Way” and “Eight Sabbats for Witches” I read them. Then I re-read them, and again a third time. Here was a book that said magic was real, that people could use it, and that my childhood daydreams might have a chunk of reality in them! Okay, it might not be sitting in a tall tower and conversing with dragons, flying on the backs of eagles, but this was the real thing.
I wanted it, I REALLY wanted it.
I went in head first, and far too quickly.
Over the next couple of years I read as much as I could, started compiling a spell book, made a wand, bought some tarot decks, and immersed myself in magic and the Occult. Big Mistake. With no guidance I found myself going further and further down a side of the path I really shouldn’t have gone. I began to be fascinated by the darker side of magic, by the idea that I could control people, and that I could get my revenge on those who had wronged me. I became convinced that no one could stop me or stand in my way. I became a very unpleasant person to know, and isolated a lot of people in the process.
It was a learning experience, and I had to sort it out myself. I finally saw what was happening. And realised that I had really screwed things up, and was on the way to doing things that I would never be able to repair. I burned my wand, destroyed my spell book, and got rid of my cards.
But you can never really escape what you are. I went back to reading. And after a while I found a couple of books by an author called Freda Warrington. The first one was entitled “Dark Cathedral”. I read it. And it hit me.
In this novel, (And I urge all who may read this to try and read it) was laid out the basic principles of paganism, what was believed, and how it could have a positive effect on a persons life. I re-read this book about three times before I had to return it to the library. Then I decided to take a walk.
I went out on day in the summer of 1997. It was a bright warm day in July. I found a tree in the field in my home village, and I sat beneath it. I closed my eyes and began to concentrate. I spoke to the Goddess that I had read so much about, I said that I was here if she wanted me, that I was aware of the things I had messed up, and that I was truly sorry for them, but I couldn’t deny the fact that I felt that magic was in me. I offered myself to her, if she would have me, and if I hadn’t messed up too badly.
I opened my eyes. In front of me, about 20 feet away, I saw for the briefest of moments, a woman, red haired, and in a green velvet dress. She smiled at me, then vanished. Beyond her, was a silhouette of a man, with a stags horns, and cloaked. He nodded, then he too, vanished.
I took this as my sign. I had been forgiven, and accepted. Now the real work would start.
Over the next few years, I read more and more. I moved out of home, passed university, met and fell in love with the lady who became my wife, the wonderful Daeneb, and we were hand fasted in Avebury, a pagan wedding.
I knew by then this was me. I was a Pagan, I believed firmly in the Old Gods, in the ways of nature. Eventually we found a group to work with, and The Hearth of Albion is the end result. I find myself starting on a new path, on one that I am very happy to travel. I have learned to accept what I have been, as it will always be part of my history. I have learned the right and wrong way to go about things, but most of all, I have learned that I need to listen to my inner self. As it usually knows best.
I like to think I serve as the more scientific of the group, I have a love of astronomy, physics and all things theoretical. I find in many ways that my love of magic and science can walk hand in hand, as they are often more intertwined than you may think.
I also do a lot of the jokes in the group. This may, or may not be considered a good thing.
Thanks for reading, I look forward to working with you all.
Daeneb of Albion – Now on sabbatical
The name I have taken is Daeneb of Albion and I am a teacher in my mid-forties.
It is because I teach college students of ages 14 and above that I choose to separate my mundane life from my beliefs. Not that I am any threat to anyone. I have to undertake the same rigorous background checks as anyone else in my position, but to certain members of society the word “witch” evokes a sense of fear and I would soon be hounded out of a job, even though what I do is not illegal. If anything went wrong I would automatically get the blame.
Not that I hide my true self from my friends. There will be many out there who know who I am….but these are people who have gotten to know me. They know I am pagan, they know I am witch, but also know they need not fear me. I wear a pentacle at all times and am often asked about it, though my clothes would not draw a second glance.
I have had a total of three wedding ceremonies with my husband, Aldebaran. Our first was a hand-fasting ceremony at Avebury on solstice day, which was to last a year and a day. The next year we undertook a second hand-fasting at the same location, but this time it would be for “as long as love lasts”. To appease family and to add some legal credence we also had a basic wedding ceremony at a registry office some time after this. This was done merely to comply with societal requirements, and although it was the ceremony which counts in law it is not the ceremony we count as our actual wedding.
We plan on taking the final step and holding a hand-fasting ceremony to bind us for eternity in the near future.
Although I had been interested in paganism for a long time it was not until the gods stepped in to help me in 2002 to get myself and my children out of an abusive relationship that I started to look deeper. We found ourselves in Wiltshire where I started to see myself as an individual and started to grow. It was during this time that I met Aldebaran and we started to work together.
We had not worked as part of a group until very recently, though the group we joined gave us a good understanding of what we were and gave us an insight as to what was out there. It taught us much and strengthened our bond and our beliefs. It was this group which introduced us to Breacca and Uhtred and led us to where we are today. It is the desire to learn and to push myself which drives me on. I live to be creative.
Blessed and Accursed May Ye Be!Breaca of Albion – main article Bios – by the individual members themselves