Abbey Ghost Hunters: Danby Castle Investigation

Danby Castle is believed to have been built in the 11th century on high ground at Castleton by the de Brus family who also built Skelton Castle. Stone from the first Danby Castle was used at the beginning of the 14th Century to construct the present palatial castle. It was unusual in having a projecting tower in each corner.

Present from AGH were, Mark, Angie, Tracey, Jazz and Dave

10:00pm We arrived at the Castle and made our way to one the of the two rooms that is still roofed and is known as the jury room, this is because the other room next to it, is a court room. Not their original use but today the two rooms are used by the Danby Court Leet. We unloaded our equipment into the room, and then went for a look around the impressive larger than expected castle. The Castle does not look that big from a distance or even close up, it is only until you the grounds itself that you see how big and most impressive it is.

10:30pm We went for a quick walk around to see if Angie could pick anything up straight away, near the car park on one side of the enclosed barn, she had sensed a lady called Mary who worked here as a maid, she feels she comes here a lot in visitation, as we entered into an open area the other side of the enclosed barn she sensed a little boy comes around here, he is not here yet but she can feel his energy, we went through a doorway into what appeared to be the Hall. Angie whispers to me ” there’s lots of people in here and they will watch us tonight”. We then went through another doorway which led into a small room and into the kitchen.

11:00pm Mark went for a walk around with Jazz and Dave to show them the Castle grounds and the different rooms there where, before we went for a drink.

00:00am (midnight) As we left the Court room to go down the stairs, Mark noticed on one of the walls in a window stood what looked like a figure, it then appeared to move away from the window and then return. After watching for a few minutes to see if something may have been casting what may have been some kind of reflection, the figure then moved to the other side of the window before returning. The others by now had seen Mark observing this and they too had started to watch it. We went over to where the window was to get a closer look and to see if there was anything that could have been causing this, it soon became clear that it could not have been anything else other than a figure. The window was in a room we believe may have been the Hall. We all agreed it only appeared to be the dark shape of a figure, and Mark believed the shape to be female, keeping this to himself to see if anyone else said the same, but no one did. Angie then as she still watched the window turned and said “she is residual, and is just walking back and forth as if pacing and waiting for someone”, this had Mark intrigued and said to Angie “who said it was a woman”, Angie turned and said she stands there a lot, a female is what I am sensing. Then Jazz and Tracey both turn and say they feel as if we are in a crowded room and it is like we are being watched by many. This is what Angie had said to me “there’s lots of people in here and they will watch us tonight”. We moved into the Kitchen to have a quick look around but Angie and Tracey wanted to be on the other side of the wall. We moved back through the hall and around to the outside of the kitchen. As we stood by the wall Everyone except Mark heard what they described as mans gruff, but no one was about. As we looked up to the top of the wall above the kitchen Mark and Tracey saw a small figure, Dave had seen something move but said it was too quick for him to make out what it was, Angie had already moved much closer to the wall and stared straight up at the same area, we then noticed she was stood at the base of some stairs that led to where we had seen the small figure. Then as she started onto the stairs both Angie and Tracey said “James” at the exact same time, they both then described a small boy Dressed in Blue, We stayed for a while but nothing else occurred.

00:30am We went into the Jury room and set up a camcorder, as Angie could sense someone has been in here whilst we were outside and that we would get someone in here again SOON. As we had pulled up earlier in the car park Angie had seen a small boy peering out of the window in this room, so we set up the camera in the far corner with a wide angled lens attached. In the room both Jazz and Angie heard what they sounded like someone dragging their nails across the big table. Then Angie and Tracey left the room, Mark turned to look in the corner just behind the camcorder and saw what he believed was a shadow, and took several photos in quick succession, Jazz turned to him and said I am drawn to that corner too, Mark asked him had he seen anything but he hadn’t, he was just drawn there as if someone would appear. Angie and Tracey re entered the room after going to check what they thought sounded like footsteps, Angie went straight to the corner and says “she feels like she is shaking, not in fear or through nerves, but as if in anger” Jazz starts to feel headachy! we took turns at standing in the corner and I (Mark) felt nothing but Jazz felt as if his chest was tight an jittery, Dave felt some palpitations and whilst he explained this he sounded very short of breathe. We decided to place a sensor light in the corner, facing into the corner itself, after it had been there for about five minutes and we had moved to the other end of the room, the light came on. Although none of us seen anything move passed it. We decided it may be worth trying some glass divination in this room.

01:15am Because of what we had been hearing and seeing, we had decided to try some glass divination, so we all sat at the table in the room. Angie felt there was now a couple of spirits in the room but felt we may not get much response as they appeared confused by our presence, we decided to try anyway to see if we could build some confidence with the spirits that were present. As we sat and placed our fingers on the glass, Angie says “In memory of Margaret” Mark turns to Angie and said he had the name Margaret in his mind at that time, we sat for a bit whilst Angie tried to make sense of the statement but she was unable to gain any information regarding it. Tracey and Mark who sat facing each other both suddenly felt an urge of emotional sadness and an intense pain in the left side, Angie says “No husband, Margaret had no Husband, (there is a pause, then) sorry Lady Margaret, she is stood near the fireplace dressed almost in Tudor Style clothing, she has some kind of veil over her face” Both Mark and Tracey are still getting the pain in the left side and it seems to intensify as Angie says Margaret, as if some kind of confirmation that the name means something. Angie then says “I feel this Lady walks the corridor as well as this room”. there is another short pause when Angie says “Robert” and looks behind Jazz who complains of sharp pains in his back at that time. Angie feels 18th Century character she asks him “would you like to join us Robert” everyone heard a gruff “Huh” sound, Angie feels a pain in the head with this man and this had something to do with his death, she feels he died outside on what is now the lane. She feels he may have been struck about the head, as she says he is walking around the table. Mark felt someone bang into his chair, and it moved. Tracey has an image of a man who has a moustache and is holding a pipe. Angie then senses a young girl Emma Jane she is one of two little girls who lived here. Things suddenly went very quiet and we ended the seance.

01:50am We went to the Barn to see if anything could be picked up in here, Angie had already sensed a woman passing through the room, and was intrigued as to who she was. We stood around for a short while to see if anyone got any unusual feelings of any kind. We decided to try some glass divination in this room, and as we checked the thermometer we could now see it had dropped to 0.1ºc. We also decided to set up the sensor light in here and took E.M.F readings, to which we got none. Angie says she can sense someone in the room, and she feels a real calmness with this person, she felt she was observing us and found our attire unusual, we tried communicating with her, using the glass, but got no responses. Angie felt this woman was not ready to come forward at this time, as she was still trying to work out what our intentions where. We then stood in the room discussing how everyone felt, and all agreed there was a real calmness in here. Angie said she felt the spirit in here was and could be Tactile (able to touch us), Then as she talked some more and gave us the name Betty, she felt someone touch her back. Mark asks “Roger, are you here Roger” he asked this as Angie was standing next to him and Mark thought Angie had whispered Roger into his ear, but it was not Angie! Mark was adamant he heard a woman’s voice whisper the name into his ear. Nothing else happened after that, so we decided to move to another area.

02:25 We made our way to the Stables. Again Angie could sense a female presence, it was a different one to the others she had sensed in other parts. Angie says this woman was accused of being a witch, she described as being roughly just short of 4 foot, and she had a dirty complexion and had no footwear at all, her hair was very messy. She feels she was brought here and then taken into another room that was adjoined. There is only one door in and out of this room, but there are signs another door was once here. As we stood in this room Angie said she again felt as though she had been touched, she could feel her hood on her coat being tugged, she felt it was the little woman. Tracey and Jazz who had moved to another part of the room both felt in the same area, an overwhelming horrible feeling in their stomachs. They both complained they felt really sick and had to move away from that particular spot. Upon moving only 3 foot away they both said the feeling had gone, Jazz stepped back into the area and immediately felt it again. After a short period of not getting anything else, Angie said she felt a settlement once stood on this same ground, long before the Castle was built. And she felt we were stood on what was a burial ground.

03:00 We went for a break.

03:30 We went to the cellar, an area some people believe was once a dungeon. I asked each of the team members what they felt this area may have been, but no one mentioned Dungeon. In fact there was a sensing from each member of a wine cellar instead. It is believed that the room above, the Court room was originally sleeping quarters for the owners, and the room below (the room we were in) was in fact the wine cellar. No one sensed anything in this room and we left after 30 minutes.

04:00am We all agreed to end the night.

Final thought: For myself the Castle proved most interesting as I had seen more than most locations we have visited. The team felt overall it is an active place. And everyone wants to go back to see if we can unravel its secrets!! Also research is proving a little difficult for this Investigation regarding names.

To read about Abbey Ghost Hunters second visit, click here.

Abbey Ghost Hunters were formed in October 2003 by Wife and Husband team Angie and Mark, who have both been involved in the Paranormal world for a long time, we decided to form our own group after spending many years working alongside others and researching the Paranormal and Mediumship. We have been joined on our quest by a great team of believers who like ourselves take a skeptical approach first. To learn more and see more reports from their investigations, visit

Getting There First

I love it when I get clued into something cool before other people do. Who doesn’t? I’m just one person, stumbling around in the wilds of the world wide web, occasionally bumping into something cool, often times getting nudged into it by one of The Magical Buffet’s many friends.

Thanks to my friend Marissa at Llewellyn I was able to interview Raven Digitalis, who’s first book “Goth Craft” had just released. Five months later MTV featured him. Yep, beating MTV, that was pretty darn cool.

As many of you may recall I took great pride in having beat Perez Hilton on discussing Movember by almost a month! That’s thanks to our artist extraordinaire Will Hobbs. Small, meaningless “victory” but one I claimed nonetheless.

Which brings me to Thuri Calafia. Again, Marissa at Llewellyn tipped me off that I wanted to talk to this new author. She was right. Thuri, author of “Dedicant: A Witch’s Circle of Fire” was thoughtful, knowledgeable, and most importantly asked me an amusing question for our interview. This is why I was pleased as punch to stumble across this nice profile of her and Carmella Cook, owner of Essential Elements Apothecary, on Click here to read the nice write up. OregonLive is no Perez Hilton, but I’m still going to proudly proclaim that I went there first! Go me!

I’m also excited to tell you that both Raven Digitalis and Thuri Calafia have contributed to The Wiccan Rede Project. You can look forward to hearing their thoughts on the Rede in the months to come!

Who or what will I get to claim firsties on next? I can’t wait to find out.

The Tell-Me Tarot

I have always loved tarot cards. There’s something just so delightfully arcane and occulty about them. I have loads of decks that I love to thumb through but never use. I own “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Tarot and Fortune-Telling” by Arlene Tognetti and Lisa Lenard and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Tarot Spreads” by Arlene Tognetti and Carolyn Flynn, and I still don’t read tarot. Why? I can never remember the basic fundamental meanings of the cards. Now I know there is this whole school of intuitive tarot reading where you define the cards yourself based on what they seem to mean to you, and I get that, I really do. However my respect for the old school will not allow me to do that without first knowing exactly what Arthur Edward Waite said they meant first…by memory. What is a slave to tradition like me supposed to do? Turn to the “Tell-Me Tarot” created by Arik Eyal and illustrated by Nir Cassuto.

The “Tell-Me Tarot” is a traditional 78-card tarot deck that features whimsical art that plays off the traditional “Universal Waite Tarot Deck” artwork. The big difference between the “Tell-Me Tarot” and other decks is the inclusion on each card of a brief meaning for the card. Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? It’s so clever!

For instance, a favorite card of mine, Death is explained in Waite’s “The Pictorial Key to the Tarot” as “The veil or mask of life is perpetuated in change, transformation and passage from lower to higher, and this is more fitly represented in the rectified Tarot by one of the apocalyptic visions than by the crude notion of the reaping skeleton. Behind it lies the whole ascent in the spirit. The mysterious horseman moves slowly, bearing a banner emblazoned with the Mystic Rose, which signifies life. Between two pillars on the verge of the horizon there shines the sun of immortality. The horseman carries no visible weapon, but king and child and maiden fall before him, while a prelate with clasped hands awaits his end.

There should be no need to point out that the suggestion of death which I have made in connection with the previous card is, of course, to be understood mystically, but this is not the case in the present instance. The natural transit of man to the next stage of his being either is or may be one form of his progress, but the exotic and almost unknown entrance, while still in this life, into the state of mystical death is a change in the form of consciousness and the passage into a state to which ordinary death is neither the path nor gate. The existing of occult explanations of the 13th card are, on the whole, better than usual, rebirth, creation, destination, renewal, and the rest.”

Obviously the previous definition is describing the art and symbolism of the Waite deck, but still, pretty long and involved. What happens when you draw Death in the “Tell-Me Tarot”? You get the delightful variant art by Nir Cassuto and at the bottom of the card it says “DEATH=TERMINATION & RENEWAL Let go of past patterns, people, or activities in order to allow renewal and personal growth.” How simple is that?

Thanks to the on card definitions, there is no need for the little booklet that comes with most tarot decks. Instead, there are four cards that briefly explain a few spreads and different ways to use the cards.

The “Tell-Me Tarot” is the perfect starter deck for anyone interested in tarot.

A Letter: Part Two

Magical Buffet readers will remember in July of last year, just after relaunching the website, I mailed a letter to then President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Chuck Schumer and at the time, Senator Barack Obama in regards to the situation in Zimbabwe. For those of you who missed it, feel free to click here to catch up. I am saddened to say I never received a response. That’s right, not a one.

Never one to take indifference lightly I am at it again. Today Barack Obama had his inauguration to officially become President of the United States, and so today I put a new letter in the mail. Aren’t I the spunky gal? What follows is my rock ‘em sock ‘em sequel to ignored Zimbabwe letter one.


Dear President Obama,

First, let me add my voice to the surely millions of congratulatory messages you’ve been receiving. Like so many Americans I too hope that you can truly deliver real change for our country. I don’t envy the to-do list that sits on your desk as you step into your first days in the Oval Office. I wish I could say this letter was merely one of well wishes, but it’s not.

Mr. President, today I write to you on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe. On June 7, 2008 I sent letters to then President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Chuck Schumer and yourself, then Senator Barack Obama. I have attached this previous letter for your reference. In that letter I argued that it was our moral duty as Americans to help the Zimbabweans achieve the dream of democracy. That because the people of Zimbabwe were suffering from the very thing that our Founding Fathers feared, and thanks to the presidency of George Washington avoided, it made Zimbabwe more than an African country in need, it made them our brothers. I asked for someone to please tell me there was something our country could do to help Zimbabwe. I received no response.

Since my letter the situation has only worsened. To say the power-sharing deal is on hold is being generous. All of Africa knew Robert Mugabe was incapable of sharing. There has been a total break down of infrastructure in the country. The last time I checked, according to the BBC, inflation was at 231,000,000%. Zimbabweans are starving and dying of a cholera epidemic that President Mugabe denies the existence of. Those who aren’t laid up with illness or starvation are facing violent repercussions for backing the MDC party during the past two questionable elections held in the country.

In fact, Time Magazine, the very publication that named you Person of the Year, named President Robert Mugabe a Person Who Mattered this past year. They say, “It’s hard to remember now, but Robert Mugabe was once a heroic figure in Africa. Because of his work to end colonial rule, he spent more than a decade in prison in the 1960s and ’70s. But now he presides over a vicious kleptocracy in which the wives of political opponents are gang-raped, eight in 10 citizens can’t find work, and much of the country is on the brink of starvation or cholera infection — even as Mugabe’s wife declares that her narrow feet can fit into nothing but Ferragamos. Because of Mugabe’s policies, this once-fertile land produces almost no food, and even in the capital, Harare, the water system doesn’t function. Still, Africa and the West dither, Mugabe stays in power, and Zimbabwe spirals into chaos.”

I say again, please, tell me there is something our country can do to help Zimbabwe.

Rebecca Elson

Attachments: 6/9/08 letter

If I receive any response I’ll be sure to let you guys know. If you want to stay up to date on the situation in Zimbabwe visit

Oberon Zell-Ravenheart News

I’m sure many of you have been keeping magical elder statesman Oberon Zell-Ravenheart in your thoughts and prayers as he continues his journey to health after being diagnosed with colon cancer last year. You’ll be happy to know that he is doing his chemo and despite the side effects is in good health, “as if I was 30 years younger than I am” he says on his website. Oberon has been chronicling his journey with honesty and humor on his blog. To read his January 8th update, click here.

In other Oberon news, at long last “Green Egg Omelette” is here! I say at long last because I’ve been super excited about this since I heard it was coming out, and thankfully Hanukkah Harry, aka my husband, bought it for me for Hanukkah! What am I talking about?

From Oberon’s website:

Green Egg Omelette: An Anthology of Art and Articles from the Legendary Pagan Journal

by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart (Author), Chas Clifton (Foreword), Christopher Penczak (Foreword)

As acknowledged in every history of modern Paganism, the articles, poetry, art, and letters published in “Green Egg” over the past four decades informed, inspired, and shaped the emerging Pagan community into the fastest-growing religious movement in the English-speaking world. This richly illustrated anthology of favorite writings and artwork from those legendary issues opens a window into the birth, infancy, and adolescence of a transformative cultural revolution that is now, in the 21st century, entering its maturity.

Selections from 40 years of “Green Egg” include articles from numerous contributors, including: Antero Ali, Gareth Bloodwine, Isaac Bonewits, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Raymond Buckland, Phyllis Curott, Ivo Dominguez, LaSara Firefox, Ed Fitch, Jesse Wolf Hardin, Anodea Judith, Timothy Leary, Deborah Lipp, Ralph Metzner, M. Macha Nightmare, Diana Paxson, Gwydion Pendderwen, Starhawk, Robert Anton Wilson, Michael York, and many, many others!

I plan to start reading my copy this weekend!

To get your copy, click here.

And in super bad ass Oberon news you can pre-order “Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard Master Edition”. But Rebecca, like you, I already own “Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard”. Why on earth do I care about a “master edition”? Well, is your copy one of only 999 limited editions, with a green leatherette cover with dual ribbon book-mark, a special four-color signature bookplate designed by Oberon, and includes 24 pages of information, including a 17-page illustrated glossary, not in the regular edition and new appendices? I think not. To get all the details, click here.

From Oberon’s website:

For anyone interested in pre-ordering the “Master Edition of Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard” can e-mail or call New Page at 1-800-227-3371 (in NJ 201-848-0310).

Here is the info that you will need to provide:


Credit Card Number and Expiration (credit cards will be charged at the time of ordering).

Please mention the specific numbered copy you would like if any. This will be done on a first come, first served basis.

All books will be signed by Oberon. Oberon has graciously agreed to inscribe the first 100 copies ordered to whomever you wish so please provide the exact name or wording you would like.

Return of the King

Today is Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Many people will have this coming Monday off in observance of the fact. Without doubt, many people will latch on to and celebrate the fact that the observance of King’s birthday will be followed by the inauguration of America’s first African American president as the culmination of all of King’s hopes and dreams for our country. Perhaps they would be right. Maybe it’s as Stephen Colbert says, racism is over. I think it could be successfully argued that I’m a killjoy in saying that racism will never truly be over. As long as there are differences between individuals there will always be someone who fears those differences and channels that fear into hate (just like a good Sith). I also believe that King’s dreams were bigger and smaller than an African American president. King didn’t dream of one man becoming president, he dreamed of bettering his whole community and by doing so bettering all of mankind. Martin Luther King was a great man and with each passing year, he is missed increasingly. What if King were alive today? That’s just what Aaron McGruder asked in his 2006 Peabody Award winning “Boondocks” episode “Return of the King”.

McGruder gives us his glimpse at an alternate history where King was not killed by the assassin, but went into a coma. King awakens on October 27, 2000. He tries to vote in the 2000 election, but is turned away due to irregularities. Has his life turned into a movie, only to have it flop because of the 9/11 attacks. King appears on television and explains that his Christian faith teaches him to turn the other cheek, even with regards to Al-Qaeda, which causes his popularity to drop into freefall. Huey Freeman encourages King to reach out to people again, only to have their meeting for a new political party become hijacked by an urban promotions group and turned into an actual party.

Reverend Al Sharpton made his predictable criticisms of the episode that featured at it’s climax Martin Luther King shouting to the crowd, “Will you ignorant niggas please shut up!” Sharpton demanded apologies from McGruder and Cartoon Network. McGruder responded by taking thinly veiled jabs at Sharpton in “The Boondocks” comic strip and animated television show. The Cartoon Network released a brief statement saying, “We think Aaron McGruder came up with a thought-provoking way of not only showing Dr. King’s bravery but also of reminding us of what he stood and fought for, and why even today, it is important for all of us to remember that and to continue to take action.”

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King, Jr. You are missed.

I cannot say this enough, “The Boondocks” animated series is fantastic! Season 1 and 2 are available on DVD now.

Date Night Pasta

As we all know, Greg loves to eat. Greg loves to eat well, but he doesn’t frequently talk about eating healthy. I do. I annoy Greg with talk of whole grains and vegetarian meals on a regular basis. Greg has kindly allowed me the opportunity to be the angel of healthy eating on your shoulder to his little devil of luxurious dining.

What is a healthy meal? Despite what the media tells you, people have to decide what is healthy for them. For some, fat content is an issue, but sodium is okay, others are strictly looking to lose weight and carb counting is all they care about. For us at home, it’s generally low fat, low sodium, and low carbs. We changed our eating habits at home so we could enjoy eating out guilt free. Just because a meal is without guilt doesn’t mean it has to be without taste, and just because there is no meat, it doesn’t mean it’s not satisfying.

What follows is something I cooked up for an at home date night. The recipe is great for many reasons: one, it’s simple, two; you could easily modify it to suit your tastes (like adding meat or maybe wilting some spinach in it), three, the choice of ingredients. By using black beans in the place of meat you get protein without the fat, also, the red pepper flakes add a bit of spice, which revs up your metabolism. The use of whole-wheat penne pasta makes the dish feel hearty without the carbs of traditional white pasta. (I know many people do not like the taste of whole-wheat pasta, that’s because there are many brands that taste like tree bark, at best. You will need to suck up a few less then stellar pasta nights to find the brand that suits you. Personally, I’m in love with Gia Russa’s Whole Wheat Penne Rigate, What follows is an excellent sin free meal to start an evening of sin.

Rebecca’s Healthy Date Night Pasta for Two
(the amounts given are general at best; everything used is really a matter of taste preference)

Boil up enough pasta for two servings. I used half of a box of Gia Russa so that I would have leftovers to take to work for lunch.

In a large high sided skillet heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Once warm, add in minced garlic, I like me some garlic so I did about two and a half teaspoons.

After the garlic has had a chance to cook, add in one, drained 14 and a half-ounce can of diced tomatoes. (You could use fresh tomatoes that you skinned and diced yourself. It would probably taste better, but I’m a lazy girl and canned seems to work fine when you’re just cooking it into a sauce.)

Add in red pepper flakes to suit your taste. I just sprinkled it in without measuring, but a light sprinkle over the entire pan seemed to be just enough to add some heat without killing us.

Toss in fresh chopped basil. I used 5 large basil leaves and thought it was a little wimpy on the basil once I was done, so you may want to go 7 or 8 depending on your feelings about basil.

Stir it all together and allow the tomatoes to cook down some and the flavors to mingle. I gave it a healthy dash of black pepper here too.

Once everything is all warm and mingled together, add in half a can of drained black beans, and stir them in until they’re warm.

When your pasta is done (Gia Russa, 10 minutes to al dente) drain it. Toss the drained penne into your skillet and stir to coat.
Serve it up in bowls with some nice, toasted up whole grain bread. In addition, a glass of red wine is not only a romantic and appropriate accompaniment for this type of meal; it’s also good for your heart’s health. Have a glass with some dark chocolate for dessert and not only are you setting the mood, but you’re helping your blood pressure and battling heart disease!

Hopefully this inspires you to take a fresh look at healthy cooking at home!

For more food talk visit What Greg Eats.

Walking the World in Wonder…Wonder I Say!

Right now, I’m writing this at home, trapped inside because of yet another ice storm. As I hear the clicking noise of ice hitting the ground, I find it hard to imagine spring will ever be here. However, I know that it will, and with it will come all the vibrant hues of the flowers, trees, and herbs that only a winter followed by spring can bring. I’ll have to ramp up all the allergy medications I take, but also it will be the appropriate time to give a certain little girl I know the book “Walking the World in Wonder” by Ellen Evert Hopman.

I found the existence of “Walking the World in Wonder: A Children’s Herbal” a pleasant surprise. It never occurred to me that such a book would exist. I was given the chance to look it over for review and jumped at the offer. I was rewarded with a wonderful book. The back cover says the book is appropriate for children ages 5-10 years old. Although I will readily admit that as a novice to the world of herbalism this book was at about the right speed for me too.

The book highlights 67 plants, ranging from barberry to witch hazel, conveniently divided up by season. Each plant introduces itself to the reader (such as “I am barberry. I am found in open fields and sometimes in people’s yards.”) and has a large, clear, full color photo of the plant. Each entry clearly describes the plant, provides details as to harvesting, and examples of traditional uses of the plant in herbalism.

All that was awesome, but what really impressed me was that Hopman offers advice to parents and teachers as how they can utilize “Walking the World in Wonder” as a fun, educational tool. Hopman discusses safety, “green etiquette”, and provides a checklist of all the plants so as children find them they can check them off the list.

I can’t wait until spring when I can give “Walking the World in Wonder” to a special little girl in my life.

By the way, I’m pleased to tell you that Ellen Evert Hopman, past Magical Buffet contributor and author of “Walking the World in Wonder”, will be sharing her thoughts on trees with Magical Buffet readers on a fairly regular basis. To learn more about her and her writings, click here.

10 Questions with Gary Lachman

1. As I made note of in my review of your latest book “Politics and the Occult: The Left, the Right, and the Radically Unseen” you belonged to the band Blondie and were a fixture of the New York music scene, how did Gary Valentine the rocker become Gary Lachman the writer?
I had always wanted to ‘be a writer’ and wrote poetry before I became a musician. It was through the poetry that I became a songwriter. While in Blondie, my own and other groups, I always read philosophy, psychology, literature and so on.

2. What drew you to studying occult movements and philosophies?
I became seriously interested in the study of the occult through reading Colin Wilson’s excellent book The Occult, which takes a more philosophical approach to the subject than most other similar books do.

3. One thing that stands out in “Politics and the Occult” is the colorful cast of characters that fuelled these movements. Who are you particularly fond of and why?
In general I was attracted to the character of Freemasonry in the late 18th century, when it was motivated by what seems a real sense of universal brotherhood without class, religious or racial distinctions, and where men and often women of like mind could meet and discuss ideas about the nature of society.

4. Help me out here, is Aleister Crowley really as big of a deal as my friend’s college roommate told me he is?
Crowley is probably how most people today discover the occult. A colorful if often annoying character.

5. What was one of your most surprising or entertaining discoveries made while researching “Politics and the Occult”?
I was disturbed by the amount of far right and anti-semitic thought that informs much of western esotericism but encouraged by the many forms of progressive occult thinking.

6. Since one of these women is deceased, this is a purely hypothetical question. In a fist fight who would win, Victoria Woodhull (the first woman to run for President) or Hillary Clinton?
Victoria, I think. Women were tougher in her day.

7. Who gets more groupies, rockers or authors? Or is it about quality? Do authors get a better quality of groupie verses rockers?
I don’t get many groupies these days so its hard to tell.

8. What is your next project?
I’m currently working on a book about C.G. Jung.

9. Are you amazed we got through this whole interview without me asking you one question about Debbie Harry?
Relieved, actually.

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.
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About Gary Lachman
Gary Lachman is author of “A Secret History of Consciousness”, “A Dark Muse”, “Rudolf Steiner”, and other books. A founding member of the rock group Blondie, in 2006 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Magical Buffet Mythology: Toci

Article by Rebecca
Image by Will Hobbs (

“The skin of snakes is often a point of curiosity among those who observe them. Unlike many other animals, snakes shed their skin on a periodic basis. While other creatures may simply shed skin cells or hair, a snake actually rids itself of its skin in one continuous piece, a procedure that can be likened to removing a sock. This shedding is not without purpose. Snakes shed their skin to allow for growth, as well as to remove parasites along with their old skin.

Snakes shed when they grow too big for their skin, comparable to the way humans outgrow clothing.”

What about humans? If they shed their skin, do they become Gods? According to the Aztecs, the answer is yes, under the right circumstances. And with that, I give you Toci…..

Toci’s birth into the world is filled with all the markers of a suspense/horror film. Legend has it that way back the Mexica worked as mercenaries for the Culhua. The ruler of Culhua gave his daughter to the Mexica so that she could marry one of the Mexica nobility. Once delivered to the Mexica their primary deity Huitzilopochtli, the god of war, ordered that the woman be flayed and sacrificed. When the Mexica did this, the goddess Toci was born. She became the first female deity to the Mexica. The Mexica were driven from Culhua by the ruler and shortly after founded Tenochtitlan, which later blossomed into the Aztec empire.

From these bloody beginnings came Toci, the Aztec Mother of the Gods, a complex mother/fertility deity that also is identified with war. I assume that’s due to her relationship with the god of war Huitzilopochtli who ordered the sacrifice that culminated with her birth. Toci was worshipped during the harvest. Typically a young girl was sacrificed by tearing out her heart and flaying her. Her skin was later worn by a priest.

Although an older mother deity, Toci is rarely depicted as being aged. She usually has black markings around the mouth and nose and wears a headdress of cotton spools. (These are similar to the Aztec deity Tlazolteotl, who is a goddess of both filth and cleansing, and who is definitely on my list of deities to write about.)

And as further proof that Toci is perfect for some sort of horror/suspense film, I stumbled across “Toci: A Mexica Tale” (could freak you out, click with caution).