Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | April 17, 2014

Salutations to the Dawn

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Look to this day
for it is life,
the very life of life.
In its brief course lie all
the realities and truths of existence,
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendour of beauty.

For yesterday is but a memory,
And tomorrow is only a vision.
But today well lived
makes every yesterday a memory
of happiness,
and every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day.

~ Kalidasa ~ 5th Century Sanskrit Poet and Dramatist

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | April 16, 2014

The State is Out of Date

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Gregory Sams’ 1998 book  Uncommon Sense – The State Is Out of Date has been updated and revised and is now out in print as  The State is Out of Date – We Can Do it Better . Here is some information about the book and the author from The State is Out of Date website:

Perhaps living in peace and harmony with each other is a more natural condition than that we experience in today’s strife-ridden world. Perhaps, like everything else in the natural world, we organize better from the bottom up than from the top down.

Whether confused, bemused or abused by the political process, The State Is Out of Date re- assures readers that politics is not even the primary game in town, though it may sometimes look like the only one. It is a book for those who wonder why politics isn’t working and what would.

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From 1967, Gregory Sams was pioneering natural foods in the UK, in partnership with his brother Craig. He opened Seed macrobiotic restaurant in Paddington at the age of 19, Ceres grain store in the Portobello Road soon after, then Harmony Foods (now Whole Earth Foods) in 1970, as well as being closely involved with Harmony Magazine and Seed, the Journal of Organic Living. He conceived and launched the original VegeBurger in 1982, adding a word to the language as he opened up the market for vegetarian foods. In 1990 Greg moved out of food and into fractals, founding Strange Attractions – the world’s only shop ever dedicated to chaos theory. Trading as chaOs worKs, he went on to produce and license fractal images worldwide on everything from posters to book covers to fashion fabrics. His interest in chaos theory, however, was not just for the sexy images, but for the social lessons inherent in the discovery of self-organizing systems throughout the world. This led him to write and publish, in 1998, his first book, Uncommon Sense – The State Is Out of Date. It was well received and, enjoying his role as an author, Gregory spent the first seven years of the next millennium writing Sun of gOd, in which, as he puts it, the biggest elephant-in-the-room that you could ever imagine is unveiled. In 2012/13 Gregory refreshed and upgraded much of his first book, now republished as The State Is Out Of Date – We Can Do It Better. The timing was right and the digital edition hit the Internet on Oct 1st, the day that Uncle Sam shut down for lack of funds. The print edition launches April, 2014.

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | April 15, 2014

CELEBRATE!

Exploring the Arts of Celebrancy   17 – 21 SEPTEMBER 2014 at EARTHSPIRIT IN SOMERSET

HeatherCelebrate! A five day immersion in the arts of celebrancy for OBOD members and friends who want to explore working with rites of passage – either in a professional role or simply for themselves and close friends and relatives. In this year of celebration of the Golden Anniversary of the Order, it seems fitting that we should turn our attention to celebration as a natural and spiritual response to the fundamental turning-points in life. During five days in the magical setting of Earthspirit in Compton Dundon near Glastonbury, we will work with ways in which we can create and hold rites of naming, weddings, handfastings, rites of passage and funerals.
Lying between the two hills of Dundon Beacon and Lollover in Somerset, Earthspirit is just on the edge of the small village of Compton Dundon, a few miles south of Glastonbury. The Earthspirit Centre is warm and comfortable, and in addition to extensive gardens that include an Ogham copse, there is a large indoor cedarwood hot-tub and sauna.
This time together is designed for both experienced celebrants and for those who are just beginning to consider celebrancy as an avenue of service. We will receive advice from, and listen to the experience of trained ‘mainstream’ celebrants in established traditions, from Beeprofessional ‘alternative’ celebrants, and from members of the Order who offer their services as celebrants to their local community. We’ll share our own stories and learn ways in which we can craft rites that respond to the needs of people who may be ‘spiritual’ but who hold no special religious affiliation, as well as for those who want a specifically Druid ritual. Contributors will include Caitlin Matthews, Peter Owen-Jones, Mark Townsend and Philip Carr-Gomm. The event will be recorded so we can share what we learn with others.

The cost of the workshop is £363 inclusive of all meals (vegetarian & delicious). Accommodation is sharing – see http://www.earthspirit-centre.co.uk. £60 Single Room Supplement. A limited number of campervan/tent spaces exist but there is no reduction in cost. To make a reservation, send £100 deposit via paypal to office@druidry.org (write “Celebrate deposit” and your postal address in message field) or send a cheque for £100 deposit made out to OBOD together with a note of your name, address, telephone number and email to: Celebrate, OBOD, PO Box 1333, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 1DX or for info email: events@druidry.org

Images by Will Worthington from The Druid Animal Oracle & The Druid Plant Oracle. The deposit is non-refundable. Balance due 1 August. No refunds after 1 August.

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | April 14, 2014

The World is Our Garden – Defend It or Lose It

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A guest post by Julian Rose…

When we walk into a carefully nurtured and diverse garden, we are struck by its beauty and its sense of completeness. We are enraptured by its scents and its mysteries. We are enlivened by its colours, both vivid and subtle, and we are nourished by the freshness that fills our lungs.

Altogether, the majority of sentient beings will surely concur, this garden is a most agreeable place to be – and should someone emerge who threatens to desecrate this sacred space – the reaction will be to jump to its defence and protect it against such a criminal action.

So let us consider the fact that many a wise person and many a spiritual leader has felt impelled to point out that “The World Is Our Garden” and that it should therefore be tended, nurtured and defended in the same way as the private space in which we grow our flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs. Emotionally, we should make no distinction between these micro and macro spheres.

Yet look around today and what do we see?

Certainly there are many mortals tending their individual gardens, and many more with no physical garden to tend. But amongst of all these, just a tiny minority can be found who are willing to go out of their way to stand-up for that greater garden called planet Earth.

Even amongst those who would class themselves as ‘aware’ and advancing along the path of spiritual enlightenment, one finds too few ready and willing to actively defend the greater whole in the same spirit as they readily defend and tend their ‘own’ private space. Be that space the place where one cultivates one’s spiritual growth – or the physical space that is one’s own garden.

The act of ‘ownership’ appears to have overridden and nullified our ability to feel and apply a sense of innate responsibility for that which we don’t ‘own’.

The neo-liberal capitalist/consumerist conditioning that forms a major part of nearly all our educations – has not taught us to feel responsible for all life – but only that part in which we have invested our personal interest and financial resources.

We need reminding that we are the collective trustees of this unique living entity that sustains and provides us with all our needs for the duration of our lives – and beyond.

Let us question our supposed ‘spirituality’ in the light of our unwillingness to lay ourselves on the line to fight for the survival of that which enables us to eat, drink, breathe and take pleasure in its abundant generosity.

You see, if we had been entrained from an early age to respond spontaneously to the life giving heart beat of our planetary existence, we would make no distinction between empathy for the garden of Gaia and empathy for our own private garden. Empathy for all children and empathy for our own children .. and so on.

We would recognize that the manifestation of our protective instinct to operate only around that which we consider ‘belongs to us’ is a gross distortion of our natural instincts.

Why do I say that?

Consider for a moment that you are sitting in your garden and someone comes through the gate with a chain-saw and proceeds to set about felling your favourite fruit tree … what would you do?

Well, you would almost certainly spring up from your chair and rush to stop them. Now let us shift to a similar incident where a beautiful tree in a park on the other side of your garden fence is indiscriminately approached by a man wielding a chain saw who clearly has no business to be there. It is clear that this person has the intention of cutting down this tree … what would your reaction be to this? Would you try to apprehend this person? Try to find help? Feel a sense of outrage?

There is a chance that you might respond in all these ways; but there is a much greater likelihood that, after experiencing some initial discomfort at the brazenness of this destructive intent, you would take no action, consoling yourself with the thought “There’s nothing I can do about it anyway”. With that thought uppermost in your mind you would try to ignore the incident and get on with what you were doing.

If our education system had even a smidgeon of spiritual aspiration written into its curriculum – we would be encouraged to recognize our responsibility for all life on this planet from an early age – and be encouraged to come to its rescue at times when it is clearly under threat.

But that is not what the majority of schooling is about. On the contrary, it concentrates its energies on teaching us how to acquire the means to ‘own’ some little niche of this planet, and to accumulate the thousands of bits and pieces that are deemed necessary to furnish it. God forbid that we might decide to reject the trappings of this hallowed road to hell!

Every TV advert, commercial hoarding, glitzy magazine, shop window, internet and cinema screen – is imploring us to indulge in a consumptive way of life that both precludes gaining a greater awareness of our predicament, and contributes to the inevitable rape of the planetary resources upon which we all depend.

The rising consciousness that comes with our spiritual practice also has the affect of alerting us to the destructive nature of this consumptive life style and the majority of jobs that constitute the repetitive and largely sterile working week.

We see more and more clearly how, if we are caught in this mechanism, we are just a cog in a vast machine whose overall ambition is precisely the opposite of that which inspires our spiritual endeavours.

It soon becomes obvious that we have to make a choice: find a form of work that satisfies our rising sense of discernment and is supportive of the trusteeship of planet earth, or give-in to the demands and promises of the corporate state that so relentlessly undermines all that is subtle, beautiful and spiritually fulfilling in this day to day adventure called Life.

The new society so many of us long for can only come about if we take the necessary actions to bring it about. One cannot embark upon a path to higher consciousness while ignoring the damage done through the way one conducts one’s daily life. In order to realise our deeper selves and sleeping spiritual powers, we have to bring all aspects of our lives into line with our rising consciousness.

This means embarking upon a disciplined transition away from reliance upon the crude and destructive commercial edifices of the status quo – such as long food miles, profit hungry supermarket chains; highly corrupted large scale banking institutions; agrichemically and genetically modified ‘convenience’ foods; unnecessarily large gas guzzling cars; mind numbing and mind controlling TV programmes; following ‘fashion’; frequent boozing and partying; electro smog producing indulgent cell phone conversations … and so on.

Not only are these various pursuits negatively impacting on us and on our surroundings – but by pursuing them we are financially and energetically supporting those facets of society whose sole aim is profit, power and increasing control over our daily lives. In other words we are supporting that which is part and parcel of the uninterrupted destruction of this ‘world that is our garden’.

This is clearly a thoroughly unspiritual path to tread.

We are either supporting a radical transformation of society in line with our own rising awareness of its multiple destructive components, or we are falling into a hypocritical and delusional state in which any gain in awareness is soon undone and turned in upon itself.

We have no choice other than to walk forward on two feet. To ‘walk the walk’ and to practice what we preach.

It is my belief that we will succeed in this great quest once we have securely tethered our inner awakening to the manifestation of its true outward expression.

Thus the road to enlightenment becomes synonymous with taking actions to ameliorate and heal the social, cultural, economic and environmental scars that cover our wounded planet. A process which unifies otherwise disparate endeavours and reveals disengaged, inward looking and passive spiritual practices – that shun active participation in service of the planet – to be ultimately fraudulent and a mechanism for escapism.

If ‘The World is our garden’ then let us be united now in going to rescue it from its enemies – no matter what the odds. Let us defy the political gamesmanship that has lead governments to ally with the corporate cause and ignore the cries of imprisoned humanity and the tortured limbs of mother nature.

Our highest spiritual calling is to come out in defence of life.* The angels will rush to our side once we have demonstrated our commitment to taking control of our destinies, which includes the emancipation of this long oppressed planet which is our unique and irreplaceable home.

………………………………………

* ‘In Defence of Life – Essays on a Radical Reworking of Green Wisdom’ is the title of Julian’s latest book. Published by Earth Books. See Julian’s website

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | April 11, 2014

The Magic of Gravity

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A guest post by Maria Ede-Weaving

Throughout my childhood, teens and early adulthood, I had countless dreams where I could fly. It was a strange method of flight, as I would push up into the air and use breast stroke to move, often with surprising speed. These dreams were so frequent, that as a small child, I was convinced that in my waking life, if I just lifted my feet from the floor I would float. To my small self the impossible was possible. But this is the way of childhood; with age, it seems that gravity claims us, its weight increasing with the passing years. We can often feel the limitations that it places upon us as a restriction.

I have been thinking a good deal about my relationship with gravity of late and realise that its gifts are becoming all the more important to me. In my daily yoga practice I have recently had a powerful urge to perform handstands. This desire, as strong as it was, was counterbalanced with an equally strong fear. What if my arms just couldn’t take the weight of my body?

Going back once again to my childhood, I spent a huge percentage of my time inverted, as most children do: handstands, cartwheels, headstands, hanging from climbing frames in playgrounds – I was intimately familiar with a world turned upside down, with the rush of blood to my head thumping in my ears and the wonderful elation and clarity that came in returning to upright. I never thought twice about hurling my legs above my head, balancing without trepidation, never once worrying about falling.

Something happens to us as adults. There is this unspoken expectation that we put away childish things. We stop skipping, swinging, leaping and jumping, in fact, we temper our joyful dance with gravity, often through social pressure or life’s demands. We can get out of the practice of really moving our bodies which makes re-engaging so much harder the older we get. The resulting aches, pains and decreased mobility and strength can feel like an inevitability of aging, our childish attempts to defy gravity long behind us. People with children get the opportunity to break out on occasion – playing with one’s own children enables us to become children ourselves once more; for those of us without kids, we have to borrow nieces and nephews or the children of friends to indulge in a little boisterous fun. But for many, with time, gravity and the sheer effort it can exert from us, can make us turn away from what it has to offer and lead us to confuse the natural restrictions of aging with inertia.

So, here I am, on the verge of my 48th birthday, and making a stand for… well… standing on my hands! I started gently, placing my hands upon the floor and walking my feet up the wall, edging my hands closer that my body might gradually straighten.

At first it was a shock to feel the weight of my entire body through my arms. How did I ever once do this with such gay abandon?! As I straightened my body, I also had to deal with my fear – the fear of something vital snapping, the fear of falling on my head…But gradually, with daily practice, I am starting to touch upon that elation that being upside down gives you and I can feel the strength in my arms and body growing.

In yoga, inverted postures are highly valued. From a yogic understanding there are many health benefits gained when we get topsy-turvy – it can help regulate our hormones, aid the lymphatic system and bring a greater clarity and alertness with the increased blood supply to the brain. But what also fascinates me about being upside down is that it puts us back into a much more alive and intense relationship with gravity and encourages us to view the world from a completely different angle. It is not for nothing that the Hanged Man of the Tarot has a halo around his head!

To stand on one’s hands requires that we build physical strength and develop emotional courage. These qualities, to me, seem like very important gifts that gravity gives us. It is not gravity that weighs us down but our unwillingness to dance with it. When we give up on our body’s dance with gravity, we become physically stiff, our muscles weaken and our flexibility is reduced. These conditions can age us long before we are actually old and have an impact on the way we think and feel.

Gravity teaches us much about perseverance and patience, about working within our limitations and by doing so, finding a new kind of freedom. When we work with gravity, it sculpts and strengthens our muscles; this in turn can help us to feel more grounded and stable both physically and emotionally. Gravity can literally change our shape – too little interaction with it and our muscles sag; too much and we become muscles bound, a condition where strength is given precedence over flexibility. Both extremes will ultimately affect the way we move in the world and because of that, can impact on the way we think. Getting the right balance (excuse the pun!) can help us to understand how much of an ally gravity is.

When we use our own bodies in weight-bearing exercises we actually strengthen our bones – simply standing on one leg repeatedly over time improves the bone density of that limb. This speaks to me of how gravity gives us the opportunity to become more embodied, to really feel and enjoy the way we are rooted to the earth. When we work with gravity we become stronger, we understand how important it is to be patient with ourselves, of accepting where we are whilst believing that we can change. We can also learn the difference between recklessness and courage.

Looking at those guys up in the International Space Station, I can see that, initially, weightlessness could be amazing fun and wonderfully freeing. However, we are children of our planet and in time I suspect that weightlessness would become wearisome and we would long to be earth-bound.

In truth, our dance with gravity is actually our dance with the Earth; it is how we move through her being; find our home in her density and our roots in her body. When you feel the weight of it, don’t bemoan its heaviness, let it push against you and enjoy the challenge. At first it might feel exhausting but if you stick with it, in time, it can gift you with its own kind of special freedom. It might not allow you unbounded flight but it has its own special magic.

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | April 10, 2014

Laughing Away the Stress!

 

Here is a lovely quote from Jean Houston, ‘At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities’. There is something wonderfully healing about a good belly laugh, a fact not lost on the growing numbers who are throwing inhibitions aside to chuckle and guffaw away their stress in Laughter Yoga classes. The great thing about laughing is that it brings you directly into your body and the moment – there is a peace and connectedness that fills us after a good laugh and sharing laughter is particularly joyful. Laughter Yoga might at first appear to be a satire on the New Age quest for well-being but I suspect that once the initial awkwardness passes, this would be a whole lot of fun!

 

 

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | April 7, 2014

Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area at Risk

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Here is a call for support from Rainforest Rescue:

‘Tasmania’s alpine mountain ranges, karst landscapes, temperate rainforests and wetlands were declared a World Heritage Site over thirty years ago. Its giant eucalyptus trees reach for the sky, and the region is home to endemic and endangered species such as the Tasmanian devil. Archaeological sites dating back 30,000 years – testimony to the earliest human settlements in the region – can also be found in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

In June 2013, the previous Australian government extended the UNESCO World Heritage Site by 170,000 hectares to a total of 1.58 million hectares, or 6,100 square miles.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants to put an end to that, however. Liberty Voice reports that during a dinner for forestry workers, Abbot declared that too much of Australia is “locked up” in protective areas. He sees “green ideology” at work and asserted that “the environment is made for man”.

The Prime Minister called for 74,000 hectares of the World Heritage Site to be delisted as soon as possible. In his view, this would involve “minor boundary modifications” affecting areas that had been logged previously and thus were not worthy of protection. Conservationists are alarmed and disagree strongly, pointing out that 90 percent of the area is ecologically pristine primary forest.

On February 1, the government submitted an application to the World Heritage Committee. If the application is accepted, not only would 18 of 58 giant eucalyptus trees lose their protected status, but entire valleys and forests as well.

Australian environmental organizations are doing everything possible to stop the government. Please support their struggle with your signature…Click here to sign.

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | April 4, 2014

Body and Soul

The Temple of My Desire - Veronique Maria

The Temple of My Desire – Veronique Maria

The practice of Druidry encourages a more intimate relationship with the earth and this, in turn, enables us to deeply explore what it means to be embodied. Our experience of being physical beings in a material world encompasses a spectrum of sensations and emotions, from intense joy to deep pain and sorrow. The strength of Druidry is that it seeks to embrace and value all of these and in doing so, potentially brings us into a mindful relationship with life and self.

An artist whose explores this relationship between the earth and the body, and the depth, richness and beauty that embodiment can bring, is Veronique Maria. She has made sculptures and earthworks; massive, richly textured canvases and, more recently, wonderfully sensual and beautiful films that she calls ‘moving paintings’.

Veronique Maria creates her paintings by firstly getting in touch with a particular feeling and then allowing that feeling to work through the body onto the canvas via texture, colour and form. The images are layered over time with a depth of textures that make them appear three dimensional, as if they were taking shape and rising up from the canvas – ideas birthing into form; emotional experience embodied in paint and clay.

Her most recent work has moved into film and explores the nature of Ritual - of how these simple acts performed with mindfulness connect the earth and the body with spirit, helping us to feel a part of ‘the natural flow of all things’.

I include here a film of Veronique Maria working on a project of large canvases, inspired by the creation of Mountains. It is fascinating to watch and listen to her speak about the process. Please do check out her website too. Click here to watch her beautiful  ‘Moving Painting’ and for links to her other films.

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | April 3, 2014

Hedge Church Cosmic Mass

Author and OBOD member Mark Townsend is setting up an Open and Eclectic Mass in his home town of Leominster next Sunday. Mark wants to provide a welcoming space for those who have not felt comfortable or accepted by the mainstream Christian churches: ‘It’s not to make ‘converts’ or ‘money’ – but to offer somewhere for the many dis-effected by mainstream Christianity to break bread together and plug into the divine mystery.’ A lovely idea and held in a bar too! You are very welcome to join Mark and he has promised some interesting music to accompany the service – from Bowie to Kate Bush with a little Mark Bolan and Pink Floyd for good measure!
hEdge Poster

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | April 2, 2014

The Rapture

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All summer
I wandered the fields
that were thickening
every morning,

every rainfall,
with weeds and blossoms,
with the long loops
of the shimmering, and the extravagant-

pale as flames they rose
and fell back,
replete and beautiful-
that was all there was-

and I too
once or twice, at least,
felt myself rising,
my boots

touching suddenly the tops of the weeds,
the blue and silky air-
listen,
passion did it,

called me forth,
addled me,
stripped me clean
then covered me with the cloth of happiness-

I think there is no other prize,
only rapture the gleaming,
rapture the illogical, the weightless-

whether it be for the perfect shapeliness
of something you love-
like an old German song-
or of someone-

or the dark floss of the earth itself,
heavy and electric.
At the edge of sweet sanity open
such wild, blind wings.

~ Mary Oliver

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | March 31, 2014

Music of the Trees

Many of you might know Fred Hageneder’s books but he is also a wonderful musician. Here are a couple of album trailers - one of his most recent creation, The Silence of Trees and another entitled The Spirit of Trees. Take a listen – Fred’s music is beautiful and there are some fabulous images of trees too!

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | March 28, 2014

Indonesia: Deutsche Bank Finances Deforestation

Tropical Rainforest in Panama

A message form the Rainforest Alliance:

Dear friends of the rainforests,

The Indonesian palm oil producer Bumitama Agri apparently considers itself to be above the law. The company operates two illegal plantations, is clearing forest for more, and has broken promises to put an end to its illicit practices.

Bumitama Agri has been under considerable pressure since Friends of the Earth (FOE) exposed the company’s illegal practices in the detailed study “Commodity Crimes”, an account of irregular permits, illegal deforestation and threatened orangutans. Bumitama Agri had pledged to stop clearing forest for its Ladang Sawit Mas (LSM) plantation in the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan on Borneo. It does not appear to have changed its practices, however. FOE used satellite images to document the deforestation of a further 500 hectares for the LSM plantation between May and September 2013. The forest was still being cleared as of February 2014.

Numerous banks – including Deutsche Bank – finance Bumitama Agri. Call on Deutsche Bank’s CEOs to stop financing plantations.

TAKE ACTION HERE

A short TED film with Andy Puddicombe illustrating the benefits of mindfulness and taking just ten minutes out of your day to give your mind a well earned rest…

 

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | March 26, 2014

The Lightest Touch

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Good poetry begins with
the lightest touch,
a breeze arriving from nowhere,
a whispered healing arrival
a word in your ear,
a settling into things,
then like a hand in the dark
it arrests your whole body,
steeling you for revelation.

In the silence that follows
a great line
you can feel Lazarus
deep inside
even the laziest, most deathly afraid
part of you,
lift up his hands and walk towards the light.

~ David Whyte

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | March 21, 2014

The Handbook of Urban Druidry

Handbook of Urban DruidryWe are blessed today with many good Druid authors writing on the subject, although I remember a time when books about Druidry were hard to find, particularly ones written specifically for those new to the path. Here is a review from OBOD member Polly Morris about a great introductory book entitled ‘The Handbook of Urban Druidry – Modern Druidry for All’ by Brendan Howlin (Moon Books). With the majority of Druids coming from urban environments, this useful little book encourages the reader to find connection and inspiration at the heart of city life, illustrating that the Divine is indeed everywhere!

‘Have you ever thought that there must be a better way to live than
the way you do now?’ begins this engaging little book. If you think
it sounds like yet another self-help manual, then think again, for it
soon becomes abundantly clear that we are in a safe pair of hands.
Brendan Howlin writes exactly as I imagine he speaks. Here is a
friendly down to earth voice with a solid helping of common sense and
a good dash of humour, the kind of voice you could listen to for
hours. The book is aimed at those new to Druidry and, as the title
suggests, living in an urban environment. Not that the rural Druid
would feel excluded in any way, and there’s plenty of interest here
here for even the seasoned Druid.

Brendan begins by tackling lifestyle and its difficulties for the
average stressed and overworked city dweller. First comes learning how
to stop and look, learning to see, unlike those in the car park on an
autumn evening, rushing to get home and failing to see the large fox
standing in the middle of the car park. We learn to take a few moments
to stop, look and see, the sky, the sunset, the urban fox, learning
how to live in the here and now, to create a little space in a busy
life. Next comes learning to relax, to practice breathing deep and
slow, to meditate.

There’s a quick introductory gallop through the seasons and the Wheel
of the Year. We touch on ethics, with a sensible discussion of
Crowley’s maxim ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law’, and
there’s a section on environmental awareness and living lightly on the
land. Finally we are pointed towards what it means to study through
the three grades Bard, Ovate and Druid.

This book is written by someone who really cares, really wants the
reader to have a more rewarding lifestyle. It’s only a small book, but
it really might change your life! ~ Polly Morris

Brendan’s book can be purchased here

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | March 19, 2014

OBOD’s Golden Anniversary Grove

Ross Nichols - 'Nuinn'

Ross Nichols – ‘Nuinn’

‘The Leaves of the trees speak with air.
In the heart of wood is the seed of fire.’
Nuinn

2014 is the 50th year of The Order of Bards Ovates & Druids. We have asked ‘Trees for Life’ in Scotland to plant a sacred grove to commemorate this anniversary, and have started the project with a donation of 98 trees. We’re calling it ‘Nuinn’s Grove’ after the Druid name of our founder, Ross Nichols. Have a look at the special web-page for this grove here. You’ll see that you can donate a tree for just £5 and ask for a dedication to be read out at its planting. The Order has 17,000 members, a mailing list of 10,000 newsletter susbscribers, and 16,000 listeners to our podcast every month – if every one donated a tree we could plant a whole forest with many sacred groves in it! Wouldn’t that be wonderful?!  Do help make this vision a reality, if you can, by gifting at least one tree now and spreading the news! Trees for Life have made the process incredibly simple!

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | March 18, 2014

Star Map for the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids

OBOD member and talented astrologer Sarah Fuhro has very kindly drawn up a Star Map for our 50th Anniversary, analysing the relationship between it and the charts of OBOD’s  early beginnings and later resurgence. Sarah writes a wonderful Blog – ‘Sarah Fuhro’s Star-Flower Alchemy’ – which is well worth visiting and can be found hereWhat follows is Sarah’s insightful interpretation along with the charts themselves:

With the inspiration of Imbolc, I begin this description of the birth chart of the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids. There were two moments of inception.  Nuinn and friends gathered for an evening of poetry on 23 September, 1964, at 7:30 pm, and on 25 September held a public ritual on Parliament Hill, at 1:00 pm. With these two assemblies in honour of the Autumn Equinox, we can already see the themes of poetry and public celebration of the earth, which have drawn so many of us to this remarkable and lively organization!

I drew up three charts, one for the poetic and literary evening, one for the ceremony on Parliament Hill and one for the moment of the Autumn Equinox of 1964 on September 23rd.  All three dates take place as the Sun enters the sign of Libra where the scales of time are in balance between dark and light, the special lesson of our beautiful planet.  Libra is linked to justice, to partnership, harmony and beauty under the rulership of Venus, the planet of love, which keeps our Order and the world turning!

At the opening of the Order, Jupiter, a planet who expresses the nature of spirituality by sign, was in Taurus. Jupiter in Taurus is the perfect description of an earth-centered devotion!

Jupiter, always a planet of expansion and generosity, in Taurus celebrates the beauty and joy of earthly delights. Nature becomes the spiritual inspiration, and in the love of Nature. Those born with Jupiter in Taurus learn the art of patience through a deep knowledge of the cycles and wisdom of the earth.

At the public ritual on September 25th 1964, Sagittarius, Jupiter’s constellation was on the horizon, the Ascendant. Sagittarius is an indicator of an optimistic belief in life, an embrace of the unity behind all deeply-felt belief systems.

The South Node of the Moon, also in Sagittarius, reveals a connection to a priestly past, (Druidry?), when the inspiration and intuition of spiritual leaders was accepted by the community. The North Node of the Moon shows the direction needed to balance the already developed gifts of the past. The North Node in Gemini, must evolve the ability to hear from others, and to communicate with clarity and concern for the whole community. OBOD, from the beginning, brought a reconnection to the earth spirituality of the past but communicated in the language of the present with care that members are heard, and honoured.

1964 was a time of awakening and change, which is symbolized in the planetary combination of Pluto, the god of the Underworld, and Uranus, electric and revolutionary, underway at that time.  Speaking truth to power became an imperative for many. Human rights, spirituality, music, sexuality and politics were in early stages of turmoil, which would climax in the late 60’s, with many changes institutionalized through the early 70’s. These years are often referred to as a time of deep transformation all over the world, a desire for human evolution, often met with harsh repression. In September of 1964, Pluto and Uranus were quite close to one another, and fifty years later, as we are about to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, these same planets of volcanic upheaval are once again in a tight relationship, felt in a world-wide  fever of change and resistance to change, and with the added Uranic potential for communication through the technical revolution of the internet, and the Plutonic potential for leaving nothing hidden, as well as  the potential for repression through electronic spying.

OBOD’s Mercury, the planet of communication and magic, is placed in the midst of these highly charged planets. The Pluto Uranus conjunction, which coloured the times, took place in Virgo, a sign of deep commitment to work, to health, and to ritual. Mercury in Virgo is quite at home in this earth sign. OBOD is an organization whose revolutionary (Uranus/Pluto) message (Mercury) is to communicate the day-by-day magic of the earth (Virgo) through ritual, concern for the environment and a commitment to the health of the planet of which we are a part. As we celebrate fifty years of the Order, we are once more in a place of crisis (Pluto/Uranus) in response to our misuse of power (Pluto) and technology (Uranus) in the human relationship to the earth.

The planetoid Chiron was discovered in 1978, after the opening of the Order. Chiron has been associated with a worldwide interest in Shamanism. Chiron is said to be the healer, who cannot heal himself, but who takes the knowledge of his wound to mend the wounds of others. With his discovery has a come renewed interest in alternative healing from the past and  the present. He is sometimes called the bridge between the inner and outer planets, a messenger to our earth from the planets invisible to the naked eye.

The cycle of Chiron around the Sun is fifty years. At the time of the fiftieth anniversary, Alban Elfed, 2014, Chiron will have returned almost exactly to his natal position in the sign of Pisces.  The Chiron return in a human chart, at age fifty, often brings about a crisis of vocation. There is often a sense of purpose that goes beyond the natural focus on family and career, which take precedence for the first fifty years of life.

When the Order reopened on Valentine’s Day 1988, Chiron was in Gemini, very close to the degree of the lunar north Node. The evolutionary impulse of the opening chart now had a new cosmic player, who would introduce the concept of shamanism and healing, much of it inspired by a deep appreciation of the ways of indigenous people.

The 1988 reopening featured a close connection between Saturn and Uranus, the god of the old and the god of the new. These two planets are the ‘rulers’ of Aquarius where the Sun was residing on February 14. Druidry as expressed in OBOD is certainly a mixture of these two impulses.

Will our Order feel a higher calling, a deeper commitment to heal the wounds of the earth, the human spirit, the fabric of our life force? Many of these same themes are once again in flux as we experience the square between Pluto and Uranus.

Chiron in the birth chart of OBOD is directly across from Pluto, Uranus and Mercury. As we experience his return at the 50th year, something about that earlier revolutionary message must now be healed or understood in a new way. If we take a moment to feel the square of Uranus and Pluto in which we are now immersed, we can see the potential for Uranus, the revolutionary, and Pluto, the truth-teller to broaden our understanding of the potential for each of us as members of this Order – to be Bards (musicians and artists), Ovates (healers and diviners) and Druids (community voices).

It is the Moon, who lies opposite Chiron at this 50th anniversary. Shining Venus accompanies her at the moment of the Autumn Equinox, and we can see them shining together at dawn that day.  The Moon and Venus represent the emotional and nurturing aspect of Druidry. There is a deep healing potential in the cosmic cycles held in the Moon.

As we gather in our world-wide circles and groves throughout this year, do we understand our power to heal the earth? This Imbolc, as I looked around the circle at my grove, I felt some deep well of hope that humans can once more become part of the living fabric of the planet we call home.  Nineteen of us (the number of the Metonic cycle of the Moon) stamped our feet under the hemlock branches, near the misty pond to our West, where our Grove gathers each Imbolc.  We celebrate our twenty-second anniversary this Alban Eiler.  Nuin knew none of us in this circle in 1964. Many of us were not even born at that time, yet we know our deep connection of love and dedication to the seed he planted fifty years ago.

~ Sarah Fuhro, member of the Mystic River Grove

poetic opening1964 chartobod reopening50th anniversary chart

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | March 17, 2014

The Druid Shaman

druid_shaman_coverHere is a review by Sharon Zak of a lovely book written by OBOD member Danu Forest entitled ‘The Druid Shaman: Exploring the Celtic Otherworld’ – out now on Moon Books in their Shamanic Pathways series. I have recently endorsed Danu’s next publication ‘Celtic Tree Magic’ (Llewellyn); she writes about Druid spirituality and practice in a deeply insightful and accessible way which makes both books well worth a read!

What an enchanting read! This little book resonates with the
profoundly insightful teachings of Druidry and Shamanism all woven
together with wisdom and sensitivity by Danu Forest. The book
represents a starting point, it takes you on a journey, leading you
confidently to a magical doorway and then, like a loving mother, it
encourages you to take your first tentative steps.  In reading this,
feeling it, you can be confident in the knowledge that Danu has gifted
you the wisdom to stand your ground.

Danu offers exercises to help you prepare yourself and to meet your
allies. Those who will accompany you as you travel onwards through and
between the veils. She offers supportive guidance that you can choose
to follow, or not, while she reminds you that it’s entirely your
choice. Expertly researched, The Druid Shaman helps the reader to
align with the cycles of the land infused with energies upon which you
can draw.  And while she urges curiosity she reminds us to talk always
with honour and respect.

Danu introduces us to the tools of the shaman trade before leading us
on an introductory tour of the three realms.  Abred, the Middleworld,
where the indwelling spirits are found and then to visit the
Underworld and Upperworld, each with their own extraordinary gifts,
tantalisingly close, ready for the novice shaman to connect with. I’d
recommend this book for people taking their first steps since the
platform is solid, it is beautifully written and Danu has shared her
experience with love and deep respect.

The Druid Shaman is available here

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | March 16, 2014

Fable: The Lost Art of the Spoken Word

Last autumn a young man, Matt Fryer, and his colleague came over from film school to interview me for a short documentary they were making on the ‘lost art of the spoken word.’ Knowing that Druidry, and Bardistry, is concerned with the oral tradition he wanted to chat. We managed to speak by the Long Man until it started raining, and then retreated back home for the last part. It’s a great short film with ‘Family Guy’ style cartoons and haunting music at the end. Congratulations Matt!

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | March 12, 2014

Constructing the New Society – ‘Eight Steps’

When we realise that we need to make major changes in our lives for the better, we can initially feels paralysed with fear, or be overwhelmed by the enormity of what is required. It is difficult enough on a personal level but can be particularly tricky when we are faced with the challenges of changing the world and the way we live as communities. Here is a great piece by Julian Rose which tackles this issue and gives some very useful suggestions to move through the apathy or cynicism that can prevent us from believing such change is possible…

We who engage in postulating solutions to the dominant issues of this time, use much energy speculating on unknown outcomes. But how much energy do we use in laying the ground for a future of our own making?

How much time do we give to devising the template for the new society we must create?

To bring a dream into reality is hard work; it’s a lifetime’s work at the very least. Yet many hold back from ever embarking – rationalising that such a quest is a futile exercise that will surely be swamped by a reactionary and repressive status quo.

Somehow, this failure to embark on the single most important mission of our lives, characterises a great swath of sleepwalking humanity. But not only, also a significant percentage of supposed ‘spiritual aspirants’ who confuse the azure bubble in which they live with the stark reality of the new world which needs to be chiselled and honed into existence.

So here are a few suggestions about what can be done now, to ensure that life on Earth gets a better chance under our stewardship than under the present and past masters of control.

* Bring into consciousness a realistic vision of what your neighbourhood should look and be like in   a positively transformed state.

* Note down on paper the basic ingredients necessary to bring about this positive change.

* Add to this mix anyone living in the area who you feel could make a positive contribution to this process.

* Go back through your blueprint and allow your creative imagination to paint in some colourful innovative elements that will give movement to the plan. For example music, drama and seasonal celebrations.

* Check that the essential simple necessities are in place: local ecological and integrated food production; fresh water availability; the resources for renewable heat and power generation; the existence/planting of orchards; woodland areas for timber needs – and all other such similar needs that offer food and shelter security within a community intent upon transitioning away from state and corporate dependency.

* Now research current activities in your neighbourhood and see what there is that may already touch on the key elements of your vision. There may be two or three such initiatives already being considered or even practised. But chances are they are not ‘connected-up’.

* Using your holistically conceived blueprint as the crystallising factor, get involved in helping to create a working symbiosis between these different initiatives so that they each draw benefit from the other and increase the overall awareness of all involved.

* Book an available space in your local town/village hall or home – prepare your ‘bigger picture’ plan – and map the interconnections that, when all the key elements are functioning fully, will bring renewed life and direction to the whole community.

Once having completed these eight steps, alert your local media and invite local residents to share the vision which you started. Show what progress has already been made and what still needs to be done. Encourage the formation of working groups to take these different complementary initiatives forward and to periodically share the results of their efforts. Forging, bit by bit, a metamorphosis of life in your neighbourhood.

Such a project can be done by anyone. No need for any particular qualifications or skills. Just a strong desire to help your community stand on its own two feet and free itself from dependence upon the hierarchical control model which holds so much of society in its thrall.

Very soon your energetic approach will draw fellow enthusiasts to your scheme – while others will back-off. This is an essential part of any process of creative change, and one which defines where true commitment can be found and where fake enthusiasm reveals itself for what it is.

I have put this concept to the test and had very positive results. The initiative involved developing a template for a UK market town of 10,000 inhabitants to become largely self-sufficient in locally produced food, fuel and fibre over a fifteen year period, starting in 2000. While it was not possible to give as much time as I would have liked to this project, it was possible to share its vision with local motivators and witness a steady process of transformation get under-way – which continues to this day. The town in question has since attracted a significant number of national awards for its innovative socio-economic practices.

Don’t be swayed by the cynical voices who say ‘it can’t be done’. My reaction to such remarks is to be stirred into ever greater determination to show that it can!

We have one life – at least in this body. It is a brief flash, a spark, which flares-up into fire, flickers and transforms into something else.  To waste this brief and precious gift by evading its call to action – is an error which in all probability cannot be recalled.

If we are serious about turning around the fortunes of this planet, then it’s time for talk and action to become synonymous. If we are not, then it’s time to get out of the way.

Julian Rose is the author of  In Defence of Life – Essays on a Radical Reworking of Green Wisdom available at Amazon.com and independent bookshops. He is an early pioneer of UK organic farming, an international activist, social entrepreneur, actor and author. His website can be found here.

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