The Red Church

By C.R. Bilardi


~review by David Rankine (originally at )

When most of the books you read are for research, it is always a pleasure to read a good book which increases your knowledge of an associated subject which you have not had time to study.  Chris Bilardi’s The Red Church is an excellent example of this.  Subtitled “The Art of Pennsylvania German Braucherei”, this book is a fascinating study of Pow Wow, the American Christian folk magic which grew from German roots.

The first part of the book provides a detailed analysis of the different European (predominantly German) religious movements which fed into the Braucherei, setting the scene and providing the provenance for the material.  The historical analysis is a vital part of providing the context for magical systems, so it was a pleasure to see such a through treatise which covered all the ground whilst holding the reader’s interest.

As a tradition which draws on the grimoires and Qabalah as well as its Biblical core, the practices are heavily religious, and Bilardi is not afraid to emphasise the importance of being a good member of the local Christian community, something which was key to magical practitioners of the grimoires, cunning-folk and other traditions as well.  It is good to see the debt that the Western Esoteric Traditions owe to Christianity as one of the driving forces of modern magic being acknowledged.  It has become unfortunately trendy in some areas to ‘bash’ Christianity as being anti-pagan, whilst reflecting those same prejudices, and also ignoring the fact that there is an inherent magic in the Bible and Christian practice which continues to be one of the most powerful magical currents in the world.

However this book is not purely about hisotry and philosophy, it is also packed with numerous examples of the charms and practices of Braucherei, drawn from the old texts like The Long Lost Friend and also from practitioners, which show very effectively how quickly practices can evolve and change through personal use and experience.  (As an aside, Dan Harms is working on a definitive volume on The Long Lost Friend which should be a welcome addition to this field).

All in all this is an excellent volume which should be of interest to a wide range of people, from magicians to folklorists, healers to historians, psychologists to pagans.  Chris Bilardi is to be congratulated on producing such a fine work.

Avalonia is proud to announce the The Book of Treasure Spirits, edited by David Rankine, will soon be joining the other excellent books by this author in our catalogue.  It will be available for pre-order from later this month from Avalonia, you can also ask your local occult shop to order a copy for you, or order from Amazon and other such online retailers.


With Introduction & Commentary by David Rankine

Conjurations of Goetic spirits, old gods, demons and fairies are all part of a rich heritage of the magical search for treasure trove.  During the Middle Ages and Renaissance the British Monarchy gave out licenses to people seeking treasure in an effort to control such practices, and this is one reason why so many grimoires are full of conjurations and charms to help the magician find treasure. 

Published here for the first time, from a long-ignored mid-seventeenth century manuscript in the British Library (Sloane MS 3824), is the conjuration said to have been performed at the request of King Edward IV, with other rites to reveal treasure, to have treasure brought from the sea, and to cause thieves to bring back stolen goods.  Conjurations to call any type of spirit are also included, recorded by the noted alchemist and collector Elias Ashmole, as is an extract on conjuration practices from the Heptameron, transcribed into English for practical use by a working group of magicians, before its first English publication by Robert Turner in 1655.

These conjurations demonstrate the influence of earlier classic grimoires and sources, with components drawn from the Goetia, the Heptameron, and Reginald Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft. The material includes spirit contracts for the fallen angels Agares and Vassago, and the demon Padiel, as well as techniques like lead plates for binding, and summoning into a glass of water, which hark back to the defixiones of Hellenistic Greece and the demonic magic of the Biblical world.

This material forms part of a corpus of conjurations all written in the same hand and style of evocation, linking Goetic spirits and treasure spirits with the archangels and planetary intelligences (Sloane MS 3825), and demon kings and Enochian hierarchies (Sloane MS 3821), making it a unique bridge of style and content between what are often falsely seen as diverse threads of Renaissance magic. 

 Soon available from

Dear All,


Can you believe that it is nearly Lughnasad again!  This day is named for the Irish God Lugh (pron. ‘Loo’) who is the son of Ethne (the daughter of Balor) and Cian (son of Dian Cecht) and it is celebrated on the 1st of August.  Lugh means ‘shining one’ and he was fostered with the smith god Goibniu who taught him all crafts, and he gained the name ‘Lugh Lamfada’ (Lugh of the long arm).  Lugh is the god of all crafts and when challenged at the gate of Tara, he replied that he was a builder, a smith, a champion, a harper, a warrior, a poet and historian, a sorcerer, a physician, a cupbearer and a brazier.  Ceasar equated Lugh with the Roman god Mercury, and the reasons are easy to see considering that Mercury is also considered to be a highly skilled god.


The spear of Lugh, which is one of the four treasures of the Tuatha de Danann, ensured that no battle was ever won against whoever held it in their hand.  Lugh was highly skilled in the magical arts, assuming the corrguinecht posture whilst reciting a charm to encourage his troops in the Cath Maige Tuired.  He is also often identified as both a solar and underworld god, and is later linked to the Gallic goddess Rosmerta as her consort. Representations of Rosmerta found at Bath and at other continental healing water sites suggests that she may have been viewed as a healing goddess, though her key attribute is that of the ‘Great Provider’ (which is also the meaning of her name) and she was associated with wealth and plenitude. Lugh is also of course the father of the hero Cu Chulainn, whom he helps by healing him and fighting in his place whilst he is badly wounded.  Like all good gods, Lugh was assimilated and canonized into the church as Saint Lughaidh.


It has been a while since I did the last Avalonia Newsletter, so much has happened since then!  Hekate Liminal Rites, a historical book on the practices associated with the Goddess Hekate written and researched by myself and David Rankine was published; as was Both Sides of Heaven (anthology, various contributors) and Stellar Magic by Payam Nabarz.  Details of these can be found below, or on the Avalonia Books website –


:::  STELLAR MAGICK by Payam Nabarz

This past Friday, 24th July 2009 we celebrated the launch of ‘Stellar Magic’, the new book by the author Payam Nabarz at the Atlantis Bookshop in London.  This book which was published by Avalonia, is both a practical and scholarly work on the magic of the Moon, Planets, Stars and Constellations.  It draws from a wide spectrum of material and ideas from different cultures, bringing it all together in a valuable work which is already establishing itself as the principal text on the subject.  If you haven’t yet, have a look at and for further information on this book.  Some photographs from the launch and signing can be found at


::: BOTH SIDES OF HEAVEN with various contributors

This collection of 18 essays by some of the foremost esoteric writers, occultists and magicians from around the world is a great introduction to the world of angel magic for those who have not ventured into this area of study and practice yet.  The essays explore different subjects of study, as well as different traditions – providing the reader with insights into subjects, some of which are rarely discussed.  Essays include works on the Archangels, Fallen Angels, Legends of the Fall, Enochian Magic & Dr John Dee, Madeline Montalban, Azazel & Shemyaza, Lucifer, The Sidhe, The Green butterfly, The Goetia, Demons & Devils, Pacts, Grimoires from a Pagan perspective, The Thwarting Angels, Lilith, Holy Guardian Angels, Greco-Roman Winged messengers and Zoroastrian Ahuras and Daevas.  Contributors include authors such as Aaron Leitch, Dan Harms, David Rankine, Emily Carding, Jake Stratton-Kent, Kim Huggens, Michael Howard, Payam Nabarz and Stephen Skinner. See for further information.


::: THE GOETIA OF DR RUDD by Stephen Skinner & David Rankine

The ordinary hardback with dustwraper edition of this title is now SOLD OUT for the UK, as it has been in the USA for a while.  It has been brought to our attention that copies of the ordinary edition is in some instances exchanging hands for more than the deluxe (full leather) edition of this book, of which we have still got a handful of copies available for sale.  Information can be found at – including costs, shipping and if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, a photograph of what the deluxe edition looks like.  We also have copies of the half-leather collectors edition of the Veritable Key of Solomon, as well as Book I & II in the Sourceworks of Ceremonial Magic series available. 


:::  INVOKE HEKATE – New Project

We are in the process of creating a small website featuring invocations and artwork related to the Goddess Hekate.  If you would like to contribute, please email for details.  You may also find “Servants of the Lightbearer” on facebook of interest –    I will be hosting a private celebration in honour of Hekate in September this year, if you are interested in attending please get in touch.  It will be held in the Powys / Hereford area.


:::  Esoteric Book Conference in Seattle, USA

This is a new annual event being organised by Ouroborus Press’s William Kiesel and brings together a number of speakers and publishers from around the occult world.  As such this event should appeal to all Occult Bibliophiles out there!  Check it out at


::: Pan’s Picnic

For those of you in London, you may want to check out Pagan Federation London’s Pan’s Picnic – details at  It is in a couple of weeks time and will be taking place in the Queens Wood.



“Crystal is ice through countless ages grown

(So teach the wise) to hard transparent stone,

And still the gem retains its native force,

And holds the cold and colour of its source.

Yet some deny, and tell of crystal found

Where never icy winter froze the ground”

By Marbodius, circa 12th cent.





Sorita d’Este


The Esoteric author and folklorist David Rankine will be giving a free talk on Friday, 29th May at the “HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN” philosophy and music festival in Hay on Wye.  This is the first festival of its kind in the UK and coincides with the week of the Hay on Wye Guardian Book Festival.

David will be speaking about the research he did with Sorita d’Este for their book “Visions of the Cailleach” (this is billed incorrectly on the festival program!)

The Cailleach is one of the most intriguing and significant figures in British folklore. Some tales portray her as a benevolent and primal giantess from the dawn of time who shaped the land and controlled the forces of nature, others as the harsh spirit of winter. Occasionally there are hints that she may represent the survival of an early sovereignty bestowing earth goddess, or her ancient nature-based priestess cult. In the last twelve hundred years the Christian overlay has both demonised and canonised her.

Tickets are FREE (though you have to book online to reserve a place to ensure that you have a place).  Go to  —— and scroll down to 29th May, where you will find David’s talk on the Cailleach listed under “Myth and Magic”.

You will learn about about this unique figure of British mythology from one of the foremost modern esoteric researchers who is well known for his work in this field. For more information on the Cailleach and the book by Sorita d’Este and David Rankine see

We hope to see you there!

elementalsmThis review of “Practical Elemental Magick” by David Rankine and Sorita d’Este recently appeared in “The Equinox – British Journal of Thelema”  – so we thought we would share.  Check out The Equinox here

Practical Elemental Magick
Working the Magick of the Four Elements in the Western Mystery Tradition

By Sorita d’Este and David Rankine

“This is a very impressive book from two prolific and respected occult authors.  The concept of Elemental Spirits is encountered frequently in occultism, but there has been until now no comprehensive guide to working with them.  I say comprehensive advisedly, for one of the great virtues of this book is it traces origins and alternatives very thoroughly, rather than laying down dogmatic rules with no background.  At the same time as offering in-depth information the book also retains considerable clarity.  The range of sources consulted is astonishing, and the work thus provides an invaluable resource for further research by the individual reader.  The material is usefully synthesised into a thoroughly workable practical system of magic; while offering sufficient alternatives for the reader who is so inclined to evolve distinct methodologies based on their own preferences.”

Note* Practical Elemental Magick is a companion volume to “Practical Planetary Magick” by the same authors.  Both these books are available from Amazon (USA / UK etc) and directly from the publishers

Dear All,,

[copy of the Avalonia Newsletter, 3 September 2008]

I have been enjoying a huge collection of little sample oils from for the last few days. It took ages to arrive from the USA, and I very much expected it to not be all that great, but they are absolutely amazing. Incenses and oils are of course very much a part of this d’Este/Rankine household! Incenses and oils were in fact the first thing we talked about when we met each other for the first time in Atlantis Bookshop many years back – and it continues to be a topic of discussion today! From the practice of aromatic smokes rising to the heavens as an offering to the Gods and Spirits, or as propitiation, protection or purification – incenses and oils do play an important part in magical and spiritual practices today as they did throughout history in every culture, on all the inhabited continents of the Earth. Amongst the most famous is probably frankincense and myrrh, two of the three gifts which were given to the Christ child by the three Magi, both also ingredients which were extensively used by the Ancient Egyptians. In fact it could be said that the Egyptians perfected the art of aromatics. Some of the perfumes s they made have retained their fragrance for more than 3000 years! One such famous example being an aromatic ointment which was discovered in the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922 and which is believed to have been made around 1350BCE ! It contained both frankincense and balsam amongst its ingredients. Cleopatra was famous for her love of aromatics and it is said that when Mark Antony first encountered the barge on which Cleopatra was travelling “The winds were love-sick when from the barge, a strange invisible perfume hits the sense of the adjacent wharfs…” (Plutarch).

Here in Wales, David and I are working at getting Practical Elemental Magick completed for release in the next couple of weeks. Its all on schedule for a change, so that is good! There is so much material we are including from work we have done together over the last few years that we hope that it will be something which will open up the field of elemental work to further study and experimentations in the coming years – like planetary magick, it is a subject which is much neglected and often misunderstood.

I am also very pleased to say that Horns of Power (Manifestations of the Horned God – see for details ) the anthology containing essays by scholars and mystics writing about different Horned Gods and their experiences of working with or encounters with the Horned God, being received with great excitement by those who have read it to date. This is great news as I am planning another anthology at the moment with essays by Priestesses from all over the world, working in different traditions, and their experiences of trance work, mediumship, possession and “drawing down the Moon” and I am very excited about the submissions I have received to date as each contains something so thoroughly unique and beautiful that it will greatly enhance the experiences, techniques and understanding of these workings which are so rarely spoken about.

I hope that this finds you well, whoever you may be and wherever you find yourself,


Sorita d’Este

Ps. According to my copy of Llewellyn’s Magical Almanac 2008 the fragrance for 3 Sept. Is Honeysuckle, and 4 Sept. Nutmeg, followed by Thyme on the 5th. Why this would be I haven’t a clue, but I thought it was interesting enough to include!

Avalonia Newsletter: 3 September 2008

Table of Contents

1 * Special Offers on Books
2 * Incense & Oil Supplies
3 * Wicca Magickal Beginnings
4 * The Esoteric Book Review~
5 * Root Magic
6 * Forthcoming Events

1/ Special Offers on Books

Our current Avalonia Books special offer is on the new edition of Circle of Fire and Wicca Magickal Beginnings.

Buy two of our most popular books together and save £5.50!  Both books will provide individuals wishing to deepen their understanding of the Wiccan Tradition with plenty of material to do so.  Circle of Fire is provides practitioners with a solid foundation of symbolism and practice from where to build their knowledge and understanding of the practices of the tradition; Wicca Magickal Beginnings provides insights into the historical origins of the tradition which sets aside the endless debates about lineage in favour of looking at where the practices may originate from prior to being popularised by Gerald Gardner in 1950’s England.  This illustrates how the majority of practices and beliefs dates back decades and in some instances many thousands of years prior to his influence and hints that Gardner may have been telling the truth when he claimed he was initiated into the New Forest Coven in the late 1930’s.

If bought together you will save yourself £5.50 (with free P&P) – but only if bought from our “offers” page – between now and the 21st of September 2008.

2/ Incense & Oil Supplies

But back to fragrant smokes and oils, if you are interested in exploring these more in the coming months, the following suppliers might provide a good starting point for you providing between them ready blended incenses and oils, as well as the ingredients you will need to make your own:

Amphora Aromatics –

Baldwins –

Conjure Oils –

PeacockAngel –

StarChild –

3/ Wicca Magickal Beginnings

It seems that our work is currently really getting around and creating a buzz in different circles. A good example of this is Wicca Magickal Beginnings, which explores the history of the practices and beliefs of the Wiccan Tradition in the context of magickal practices spanning thousands of years. This week it has created quite an interesting discussion on the LiveJournal of author and rock star Rodney Orpheus (him of the “Cassandra Complex”), if you are interested in Thelema and Wicca, you may find the discussion there of interest, see: for details. Also to see what Pagan Dawn; Mike Howard at the Cauldron and others think of Wicca Magickal Beginnings see: (scroll down to the bottom of the page)

Wicca Magickal Beginnings forms part of our current special offer, if purchased with a copy of Circle of Fire – see for details.

4/ The Esoteric Review

Remember that new book reviews are also frequently being added by our team of reviewers to the Esoteric Book Review – recent reviews include a number of titles related to Fallen Angels, The Book of Enoch and a couple of books by fantasy writer Storm Constantine. There is a pile of books which are all making their way to reviewers at the moment, so we hope to be adding more reviews very soon.


5/ Root Magic

John Canard whose first book “Defences of the Witches’ Craft” was also released last month is so pleased with the response he has received so far to this book that he has decided to give in to my pleas to write the first substantial book on the history and practices of English Root Magic. He is collating his notes now and will be adding advice and guidance for those wishing to explore English Root Magic and the seven year cycle of training which he followed with his own mentor some decades ago. Defences of the Witches’ Craft’s first review has also just been published on and is available along with information on the book at – a great little book for anyone who is interested in curses and counter magics as used in England today and in the last few hundred years. (Whether out of curiosity or out of need for such charms)

John also asked me to mention that he has set up a group on Facebook for people interested in discussing Root Magic – it is called “Root Magicians – Worldwide” and can be found by searching for “Root magic” on Facebook or going straight to


6/ Forthcoming Events

6 September 2008 ** This Saturday – The Colours of Chaos ***
-see for more information. Tickets WILL be available on the door. Speakers include: Julian Vayne, Dave Lee, Soror Res, Susan Leybourne etc. Conway Hall, London.

4 October 2008 *** The Thelemic Symposium ***
See for details. A whole bunch of speakers on Aleister Crowley’s Thelema, The OTO etc. Oxford, England. TICKETS ARE SOLD OUT, but worth checking out as there might be a waitinglist.

4 October 2008 *** Qabalah Through the Worlds – Workshop by David Rankine ***
Some details at or This is an advanced workshop on Qabalah and Magic(k) exploring practical techniques. Venue: The Atlantis Bookshop, Museum Street, London.

18 October 2008 *** The Halloween Festival – London ***
This yearly festival is usually quite a bit of fun, lots of dressing up, music, stalls and talks – see for details.

8 November 2008 *** Witchfest International, Croydon , Surrey / London ***
Speakers this year include Prof. Ronald Hutton, Sorita d’Este, David Rankine, Rufus Harrington, Cassandra Eason, Kate West, James Bennett, Ralph Harvey, Teresa Moorey, Rhys Chisnall , Tam Campbell & many more. See for more details and booking information.


“Working Towards Expanding the Esoteric Horizons”


The Magickal Beginnings of the Practices – an introduction to the book Wicca, Magickal Beginnings

By Sorita d’Este and David Rankine

More information available from

Over the last few months, many people – some of whom have not yet read our book Wicca Magickal Beginnings have written to us, or asked us in passing why we wrote it. This is a complex question and one which can probably in part at least, be answered by this extract from the introduction we wrote for the book.

All books have a moment of conception, and this book was born out of a discussion on the origins of the Wiccan Tradition as known today, with some of our students in late 2001. Whilst debating the possible starting point of this magickal tradition, we realised that all the evidence being presented was focused on the people who were the early public face of the tradition and their contemporaries. Yet this is a tradition which is also called a ‘Craft’ and which is an experiential tradition where personal experience is paramount for the understanding of the practices and beliefs. So why were we debating the origins of the tradition in terms of who said or did what?

Has Wiccan history tied itself into knots of personalities in an effort to conceal its true origins? Was there something we were missing? Why was it that whilst some people claimed that the tradition was the continuation of a very ancient Pagan religion, others stated that it was created (or compiled) in the 1950’s or 1940’s in England? Why was it that Gerald Gardner was greatly respected as the ‘Father’ of the modern movement and simultaneously viewed as a charlatan? Could it be that in an effort to cover up the ludicrous and unsubstantiated claims that the tradition originated in the Stone Age (or thereabouts) the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction and got stuck? We agree that an academically sound historical foundation will provide more credibility to a tradition and its practitioners, but did that come at a price? What was being sacrificed in order to lend credibility to the tradition? What really made Wicca, Wicca?

Having asked ourselves all these questions again and again over the years, sometimes obtaining different answers to the same questions based on changes in our perspective, we found that ultimately Wicca remained a mystery tradition at its heart. The practices and beliefs could only be fully understood through direct experience thereof and it was through this that the tradition could be best defined, not through the endless debates about lineages, initiations and personalities!

We set about systematically researching the origins of the practices and beliefs which were passed to us through our initiators and colleagues. Our preconceptions were constantly challenged as we explored the origins of the practices and beliefs from different angles in an effort to find possible solutions to the question of when and where the tradition may have originated. We separated the rituals into their component parts, then looked at each individually and even divided them up into smaller parts, before finally putting it all back together creating a colourful mosaic with our findings.

Faced with several possible interpretations based on the evidence we correlated, it became clear that although it remained possible that Gerald Gardner may have created the tradition, it was certainly not that plausible in comparison to some of the other conclusions that we reached. In fact, at this stage of our research we feel that it is most likely that Gardner was not that much of a charlatan after all, but that his accounts of initiation into an existing tradition, upon which he later expanded, were truthful. When stripped right back, without the many additions and evolutions it has undergone since the 1950’s, Gerald Gardner’s ‘Witch Cult’ appears to predate him by at least some years.

We did of course realise from the outset that this would be a controversial conclusion for some readers and as such we present the practice-based evidence in this volume in a way which allows for individual interpretation. We also focused on the component parts which were common to all the traditions, both esoteric and exoteric, that we have personal knowledge of. This means that whilst we touch on the subject of deity, it is important for the reader to understand that theological debate is not within the scope of the work presented here. The individual beliefs in the Goddess and God vary, in some instances significantly so, between traditions in existence today. Additionally, we have not included evidence or debate on the inclusion of many of the folk practices which are found in some Wiccan groups today, such as May pole dancing at Beltane or making Brighid crosses for Imbolc. These practices were well known throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as the countless books and magazine articles published in those eras attest to. As such their inclusion might be incidental. Moreover, they are not considered relevant by all of the traditions and as such, though of extreme importance to some, are not even considered by others.

The bulk of the material presented in the book is aimed at practitioners, be that of the esoteric (ie. initiatory) or exoteric traditions of Wicca. The book does not aim to cover in detail all aspects of Wiccan history, in fact we have for the most ignored the modern developments. The material presented can be used in a variety of ways, but will benefit those who are seeking to deepen their understanding of the practices the most as knowing more about their original context can of course help deepen the symbolic understanding of their place in our ceremonies today. It is possible that practitioners of other related pagan traditions who draw their inspiration for rituals by incorporating circle casting, the invocation of the elemental guardians at the four cardinal point and drawing down the moon, might also find this book of interest.
For more information, as well as for examples of some of the reviews this book has already received, visit