MW: I met Sian at her workshop at the alchemy conference, she spoke so passionately about her relationship with plants, specifically The Yew and Mugwort. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to have longer chat with her, to get to the bottom of the links between the plant world and alchemy.
Who are you?
My name is Sian Sibley and I run a group called DragonOak Coven in South Wales. We have been active for around 25 years and train in traditionalist witchcraft and hermetic science.
What are you doing?
We are a traditionalist coven who work with Hecate and Hermes. We specialise in Basic magical training, using the methods of Franz Bardon and then after completing the basics we teach hermetics, magical ritual training, kabbalah, astrology, herbalism plant work and alchemy
Why do you do it?
In DragonOak the work is the main drive. We work magic to aid in environmental issues, for example we have just completed a big working to aid the Ash trees in their fight against the fungal infections that abound at the moment, we also did work to prevent fracking in Wales, which was very sucessful.
We also offer service to the community by running workshops for pagans and occult practitioners in the South Wales area. I firmly believe that education is the key to freeing the mind from the toxic environment that we seem to have created in our culture, until we are able to see that we live in the divine and that divinity is not ours to be used and abused in the way that the consumer culture requires.
I attended your workshop at the Alchemy conference, can you explain how your work relates to alchemy?
In my opinion the alchemical process has three strands, the craft of the witch – this is working with the natural world, herbalism working with the cthonic spirits of the woods, land and waterways. Working with the crossroads spirits and the spirits of the dead. Second there is the Hermetic strand. The study of Hermetic science and kabbalah to understand the path of the soul and the nature of the cosmos. The third path is a very personal path of devotion and union with the aspect of divinity that calls to you. This is the alchemical or theurgical path. In order to gain the knowledge of the divine there must be balance in all paths.
What is a plant sigil?
A plant sigil is a mark that is given after forming a relationship with a particular plant. Its a doorway of communication between your spirit and that of the plant. You use the sigil to call the spirit of the plant to you in order to communicate or to heal using the power of the plant. These in combination with the plant names give you direct access to the plants spiritual power.
Is there a plant that you have a particularly strong connection with?
I have connections with several plants but particularly with Yew and Mugwort. Both of these plants have had a massive effect on my spiritual life and have been doorways into the green world for me. Mugwort is a venus plant with connections to the moon and is excited to work with humans, she believes that her path is to open the way back to the wild for humans who want to reconnect. She is wild and fast in her communications, she gives dreams and when smoked gives you insights into the natural world you would not believe. In her you have a plant ally who will aid you in connecting to their plants.
Yew is very different, he is a Saturnian spirit who is all about time. Slowness and depth are the way that he communicates. It takes along time to get to know him but it is well worth the effort. He speaks of eternity and of the underworld of the dead, of the soil which feeds the planet, of the fungus that reabsorbs all life. He is Hekate’s tree and the gateway to the study of time itself.
What’s the best thing a plant said to you?
Plants do not really communicate in words its more subtle than that. Yew particularly communicates slowly and with great emotion. The yew poses questions such as why are people so obsessed with life after death, when in reality there is no death, He once communicated with me that humans are so obsessed with life after death that they do not even consider life before life. Where did we come from, a truly interesting concept to think about from an almost eternal physical tree.
What do you have upcoming?
I am speaking in the next week or so in the Welsh Occult conference in Montgomery on the origins and invocations of Hekate. This has been a long time study of mine to do with unwrapping the identity of this great and misunderstood goddess. Trying to make people aware that she is not the crone goddess portrayed in the wiccan concept but is far more multifaceted and important than this limited perspective. We are running workshops on working with Mugwort, Folk magic and its techniques and Deep shamanism in the next three months. I am also busy with the coven, we are studying planetary ritual and spagyrica at the moment as a group. We are thinking of opening to new students in February of next year and as such will be open to communications from interested parties. And in the middle of this I am also studying an MA in Cultural astrology and Cosmology with the University of Wales. So its a busy time for all of us.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Studying the alchemical process in which ever form you take is a challenge, it brings you into the realm of the Gods and the work is hard but probably the most rewarding thing you will ever do. Remember that the universe is a massive alchemical laboratory and there are many windows onto the study. As an old friend of mine said, keep your windows clean and concentrate on your own study.
Do the work, love the work and live your work and you wont go far wrong.
The search starts with a pull
A quiet yearning towards understanding
In the depths of your being
A question needs an answer
A hole requires filling
A need to understand the ways of life and light
You need to walk the deep woods
And stare into the sky silent
You need to know the depths within your own self
And work with the stars within and without
To speak with spirits of sky and earth and sea
To work with those more human than us
Older souls who walk the green way
Screaming to us in deep, dark chlorophylled silence.
Shouting things that most never hear
Too filled with kardashians, big brothers and X factors
But we the witches stand and listen
Straining to hear the distance screams
Working towards a better understanding
To meld our souls to the green gods
And so know the divine.
Find Sian here: facebook.com/sian.sibley.182