Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | July 24, 2014

The Book of Trees

Book of TreesAnyone who has traced their family history - mapping out its spreading branches upon the page - will appreciate how when seeking to organise patterns of information, there is nothing quite like the structure of a tree; it enables us to make sense of a complex web of connections; it branching can help us to reveal relationships and correlations that previously we had not seen. With a tree diagram, we can visually comprehend how diverse and seemingly separate units function as an interconnected whole. At one glance we see the bigger picture.

Manuel Lima has written a fascinating 800 year history of the tree diagram entitled The Book of Trees: Visualizing Branches of Knowledge. He writes:

Our primordial, symbolic relationship with the tree can elucidate why its branched schema has provided not only an important iconographic motif for art and religion, but also an important metaphor for knowledge-classification systems. Throughout human history the tree structure has been used to explain almost every facet of life: from consanguinity ties to cardinal virtues, systems of laws to domains of science, biological association to database systems. It has been such a successful model for graphically displaying relationships because it pragmatically expresses the materialization of multiplicity (represented by its succession of boughs, branches, twigs, and leaves) out of unity (its central foundational trunk, which in turn connected to a common root, source, or origin.)

Book of trees 2

To read more about ‘how the humble tree became our most powerful visual metaphor for organising information and distilling our understanding of the world’, click here.

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | July 23, 2014


Talented poet Jay Ramsay has a major new collection out from Waterloo Press (Hove) entitled Monuments. Here is a particularly beautiful poem from the collection, followed by a review by the painter Angie Spencer.
Swallows, Tintagel
for Carolyn Finlay
Huddled half-hidden out of the wind
swirling all around the stone building
in this cliff top church porch, port
we enter in…to its polished air and font
luminous stained glass and ring of candles
before we see them, only as we’re leaving again
on the curving ledge between lintel and roof;
dark-feathered discreet, almost overlapping
as close for warmth as they can: the lovers
(if we keep very still, they might not see us)
their nest beside
, a castle and a crown
with its rim of white feathers like flags
naked as the day, barely out of reach…
here at the edge, still no room at the inn
where Love is eternally waiting to come in.
review by Angie Spencer
Jay Ramsay’s new collection of poetry, Monuments (published Waterloo Press in Hove) lives up to it’s name. It is a truly monumental work. Comprising poetry written over the last 12 years it is a bold and devastating statement of the plight of humanity in the face of an increasingly de-humanizing society.
Many of the poems are political, for example ‘A Suicide Bomber Reaches the Light’, ‘Iraq Diary’ (2003), ‘Occupy’, ‘Whistleblower’, and ‘Shard’…written last year for the Greenpeace women),  but unlike most political commentary that we hear today, they are stripped of all of the partisan machinery of politics that we have become so weary of. They are comments fresh from the soul, the heart – forcing us again and again to see what is really happening. They break through the numbness that has become our customary defence.  They are full of psychological insight (as one might expect from a psychotherapist of Jay’s standing) – but here it is the psychology of human race he is working towards understanding.
More personal and intimate poems also find their way into this beautifully crafted collection (including Anamnesis – the remembering of soul (2005-6), written monthly during his residency at St James’ Church, Piccadilly during that period).  These are reflective meditations that can be returned to again and again like a quiet chapel .
Jay begins the collection with an elegy for Ted Hughes (with whom he had correspondence before Hughes’ death, at 69, in 1998). Full of grief at losing a mentor and (possibly) a poetic father figure, this somehow prepare us for the breadth and poetic stature of the rest of the collection.
Jay says ‘The book is about memory and what we need to remember. It is also an invitation to poets to face what is actually happening in the world and not just hide in personal expression, ‘language’, and narcissism. We are living in the Great Transparency, and poets are the truth-tellers of our time’.
Jay and Kevan Manwaring are hosting a special celebration of Gloucestershire Writers  1914-2014 in ‘The Golden Room’ at the Stroud Subscription Rooms, Stroud on July 26th.
Monuments is available from The Stroud Bookshop and from Waterloo Press  at £12, or £4.92 on Kindle (Amazon).
copyright Angie Spencer, May 2014.
Angie Spencer Paintings
07883 506444


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

Fracking, Fraud and Farming

John Michael Greer and I, with contributions from anthropologist Jonathan Woolley, Warrior’s Call activist Tim, and environmentalist Hilde Liesens, talk about the speculative bubble of fracking and assorted topics, in a temple in a Glastonbury Bed and Breakfast. Plus a Lughnasadh story from Cerri Lee and music from Led Zeppelin. What more could you want?!

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

Smoke and Mirrors?

frack is wack

Blake Deppe writes on People’s World website about Germany’s recent pledge to ban Fracking, casting doubt on the promise being all that it seems…

Germany to Ban Fracking, or so it says…

The German government says it will soon move to ban fracking in the country until 2021, which would make it the latest nation (after France and Bulgaria) to eliminate the destructive natural gas drilling process. In a press briefing, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Environmental Minister Barbara Hendricks noted that legislation will be drawn up and approved in the final half of the year.

“There won’t be fracking of shale gas or coal gas for economic reasons in the foreseeable future,” confirmed Hendricks. However, one can read in between the lines and see that there is still room for exploitation by natural gas corporations. Case in point: there are a number of “special circumstances” which would allow fracking to circumvent the legislation. An example is that the law’s language states that “unconventional” fracking cannot take place more than 3,000 meters below the surface – but “conventional” fracking can. While this will still effectively prevent fracking from, in most cases, contaminating groundwater, it will not prevent it from triggering small earthquakes.

Political parties including the Green Party have reacted with strong criticism; the chairman of the Greens’ parliamentary group, Oliver Krischer, went as far as to call it a “fracking-enabling law,” recognizing the distinction between this potentially deceptive proposal and an actual fracking ban – “a regulation that does not allow fracking in Germany and without loopholes that are as big as a barn door.”

Hubertus Zdebel of the Left party agreed, noting, “Fracking must be banned in Germany without any exceptions. To say that there is a fracking ban in the paper is window dressing. They want to enforce a regulation which mostly allows fracking under the guise of an alleged ban.” Citing estimates obtained from the Federal Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources, he added, “The planned restrictions will still allow the exploitation of half of all unconventional natural gas deposits in Germany.” He also said there are other potential risks associated with allowing deep fracking, including uncontrolled methane gas emissions.

Francisco Szekely, writer for EnergyBiz, remarked that the legislation is likely a play to quell environmentalists’ fears while also reducing Germany’s dependency upon Russia for gas imports. He said, however, “This decision is not a sustainable solution. The temporary relief of geopolitics should not be achieved at the long-term cost of environmental degradation. To put our economy and our world on a path to sustainability, governments and companies need to focus on doing real good for society and not just doing less harm, as seems to be the case” with this fracking issue.

“With evidence of climate change becoming clearer than ever,” he added, Germany should be “thinking carefully before allowing fracking in their territory. Moreover, whatever short-term promise fracking offers is also taking our sense of urgency away from transitioning to more renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar power.”

So in short, one might conclude, Germany’s “fracking ban” may be little more than a smoke-and-mirror tactic. Said Szekely: “To quote Albert Einstein, ‘We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.’”

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

‘Let the River of These Names Take You…’

Druids know the power of chanting the Awen, particularly in a group, where the sound swells and expands and fills all present, spilling out into the world. Mantras are powerful tools with which to calm the mind, reconnect with our deepest selves and the Divine.

There is a form of mantra chanting that comes out of the Bhakti devotional traditions in India. This group chanting where the Wallah sings the mantra and the group sings back is called Kirtan and has become an increasingly popular form of meditation and worship in the West. Ragani, a long time practitioner of Kirtan, writes here about the unifying and transformative impact of sound:

Something about the kirtan experience goes beyond the music itself, goes to a deeper experience of vibration. We all resonate at different frequencies, and these frequencies change according to what we are doing and thinking. So when we are all doing the same thing-chanting, breathing, and moving to the same rhythms-our vibrations begin to synchronize and the resulting experience is very powerful. The laws of vibration help us out here, because vibrations align themselves to stronger vibrations, so even if you’re having a truly rotten day, it may be difficult to hold onto those feelings during the chant experience. If you were only to sit in the room without participating, the idea is that you could still feel the shift. Something happens-the energy begins to activate the spirit that exists within us all.

It’s the Heart, not the Art!
Although the kirtan involves music, the underlying art of kirtan chanting is not actually about musical ability or training-it is about the heart. Everyone can participate, regardless of age or cultural background. The purpose of this music is to get us out of our heads and into our hearts. Typically, the songs can last for 20-30 minutes each with a few moments of silence in between each song so you can soak it all up. The longer songs allow for deeper experience of the effects, and with the simple, repetitive lyrics (it’s a chant, after all!) we really don’t have to think much about the words.

Chants Heal
In fact, because the ancient Sanskrit lyrics are not familiar to many of us Westerners, these words take us away from the mind’s constant chatter a little easier. The powerful healing and transformational energies of these ancient chants can help to reconnect us to the Ever-Present and Eternal Being that lies within us all. All the mantras, melodies, and instruments of kirtan are designed to lead us toward this meditative state.

In the old Celtic stories, we hear of the Druid’s knowledge of the power of the word – language is magical. In Kirtan, the names of the divine in all its many aspects are sung and this is believed to bring positive change and healing in the chanter. Krishna Das, one of the leading modern Kirtan artists in the West puts it rather nicely:

Let the river of these Names take you…
Let yourself float in the beauty of your own heart
into the ocean of Love that fills all space,
that ALWAYS is…
that ONLY is.
When we know ourselves to be That,
then we can be This too.
Then we can play,
We are free and bound in the same breath,
The breath of the One breathes in us.
It’s OK to be messed up, to feel small and sad and hurt
with no hope of ever seeing a good day.
It’s OK to forget, to be forgotten,
to be left behind,
It’s OK to be betrayed, strung out on everything
that everyone has ever done to us and we can’t ever forgive…
The breath of the One breathes in us.
Breathes us.
Even when we don’t know.

Where is this One? How can we find that One?
The Saints say that the One is hidden in the Name.
The Divine Name. The name of Love.
And that by constant repetition,
gradually but INEVITABLY
the Presence that is hidden in the Name reveals itself!
Where? In our own hearts!
The medicine of the Name
hidden in the sugar syrup of music…

~ Krishna Das (his website can be found here)

When listening to our very own Damh the Bard perform at the OBOD 50th Anniversary Party - hearing the audience sing with him - it seemed to me that in those unifying and joyful moments, there was the spirit of a Kirtan. Perhaps Druid Kirtan is something that could be developed further?

Here is one of Krishna Das’ live Kirtan performances: Baba Hanuman (praise of the God Hanuman) from The Breath of the Heart album – listen how it gradually builds, quickens and swells – joyful stuff!

For more information on the links between Druidry and the Dharmic Traditions see here.


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

The True Love


There is a faith in loving fiercely
the one who is rightfully yours,
especially if you have
waited years and especially
if part of you never believed
you could deserve this
loved and beckoning hand
held out to you this way.

I am thinking of faith now
and the testaments of loneliness
and what we feel we are
worthy of in this world.

Years ago in the Hebrides
I remember an old man
who walked every morning
on the grey stones
to the shore of baying seals,

who would press his hat
to his chest in the blustering
salt wind and say his prayer
to the turbulent Jesus
hidden in the water,

and I think of the story
of the storm and everyone
waking and seeing
the distant
yet familiar figure
far across the water
calling to them,

and how we are all
waiting for that
abrupt waking,
and that calling,
and that moment
we have to say yes,
except it will
not come so grandly,
so Biblically,
but more subtly
and intimately in the face
of the one you know
you have to love,

so that when
we finally step out of the boat
toward them, we find
everything holds
us, and everything confirms
our courage, and if you wanted
to drown you could,
but you don’t

because finally
after all this struggle
and all these years,
you don’t want to any more,
you’ve simply had enough
of drowning,
and you want to live and you
want to love and you will
walk across any territory
and any darkness,
however fluid and however
dangerous, to take the
one hand you know
belongs in yours.

~ David Whyte, from The House of Belonging

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

Abused Goddesses

abused goddesses1

Across the planet many people honour and worship the Feminine Divine. As well as the established traditions in the East and in indigenous cultures, there has also been a renewed interest in the Goddess via western earth-spiritualities such as Druidry, Wicca and the Goddess Movement. In many belief systems that honour the Divine Feminine, there is an understanding that the Divine resides within each of us – that we are an expression of Divinity; that there is an underlying unity and connection between all life and Goddess/God/Spirit. This approach asks of us that we treat all life-forms with care and kindness and view each as equally important and deserving of respect.

abused lakshmi goddess3_650_090613013034It might be assumed that in honouring the Divine Feminine, nature and women would also be honoured and treated with respect, and yet we only have to look around the world to find an alarming amount of abuse and violence towards both women, children and the natural world.

There has been an interesting advertising campaign in India that illustrates the disparity between the worship of the Divine Feminine and the actual attitudes and treatment of women in everyday life. In recent times we have seen reports of the most shocking violence against women coming out of India, a culture that, paradoxically, has a rich relationship with the Goddess in her many forms. There are many complex reasons for violence against women in Indian culture (or in any other for that matter) but it is clear that far too often something is going horribly awry between the spiritual teaching and the actual practice. It is precisely this that the Mumbai based agency Taproot India has tried to address in their campaign Abused Goddesses and it gives food for thought to all those that see the Divine Feminine as a vital source in helping us to create a more equitable and loving world.

abused sarasvati goddes1_650_090613012828Taproot India were commissioned by Save Our Sisters, an initiative of Save the Children, India to bring attention to domestic violence and the trafficking of women and children. In response, they took traditional images of the goddesses Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Durga – three of the most widely venerated goddesses in Hinduism -  with bruised and battered faces. Accompanying the images was the following text:

Today, more than 68% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. Tomorrow, it seems like no woman shall be spared. Not even the ones we pray to.

Whether such a campaign can truly make a difference is unclear but it is an interesting point that the images make and, whilst causing a good deal of offence in many quarters, it has helped to drawn attention to the issue. Surely, if we love the Goddess, that love and respect must extend to all women – in fact, it must extend to all beings. abused Durga goddes2_650_090613013033

Many thanks to John Marchant of Isis Gallery for sharing the following images and interview with artist Jamie Reid…

 TFH-at-RTH-1Some years ago while living in New York I was asked to collaborate with the British artist Jamie Reid in organizing a large survey of his work to date called Peace Is Tough. It soon became apparent that the full extent of his work was a very broad canon indeed, from the endlessly reproduced and rehashed sustained volley of cultural musket-fire with the Sex Pistols to extremely contemplative nature-induced watercolours reflective of his deep connection with the earth’s subtler movements. Of course at first there seemed to be stark contradictions here but as I started to look at the work and get to know Jamie it started to coalesce. As the work arrived, so did his crew from his adopted home town of Liverpool. I lost count of them all but they all pulled together to produce a show called Peace Is Tough in a raw space in Manhattan that became, for the next six weeks, a locus for the inquisitive, a refuge, performance venue, doss house and dream space. In the intervening years, I’ve had the pleasure to get to know Jamie a lot better. Spiritual descendent of post-Edwardian socialist reformer and Chief Druid George Watson MacGregor Reid, Jamie takes ancestral sighting points as disparate as William Blake, Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers, Thomas Paine, Wat Tyler and Simon de Montfort: in the words of Julian Cope, all “righteous, forward-thinking muthafuckers”.There is however a smokescreen around him that veils his persona and work. He gets ignored by the art world for being unmaleable and gets pigeon-holed by an increasingly nostalgic press who only want to feed on the corpse of P*#k ad infinitum. It seems a good time to clear things a little.

A quick primer: Born in 1947, Jamie Reid was a founding member of Croydon–based Situationist-inspired graphics unit Suburban Press and was responsible for graphics and layout for Christopher Gray’s Leaving the 20th Century. In late 1975 Malcolm McLaren asked him to work with the Sex Pistols, providing both image and political agenda. Following their demise, Jamie drifted through places and projects – Bow Wow Wow, Paris, performance work, the Brixton squat scene.  In 1987 ‘Up They Rise – the Incomplete Works of Jamie Reid’ was published by Faber and Faber – co-produced with music journalist Jon Savage it documented his influences and works to date. Following this breath for air, Reid got increasingly involved with various bands and protest movements – No Clause 28, the Legalise Cannabis Campaign, Reclaim the Streets and Warchild to name a few. In 1989 he started a ten year commission to revisualise and reinvent the interior spaces of both the recording and resting spaces of the East London-based  Strongroom  Studios using ‘colour magic and sacred geometry’ to encourage creativity and calm.  As a result of this he also spent five years as visual co-ordinator with the band Afro-Celt Sound System. Since 1997 the retrospective “Peace Is Tough” has opened in New York, Tokyo, Dublin, Athens, Glasgow and Liverpool, including collage, painting, photography and film. He is currently finishing a heroically-proportioned 600-700 piece project based on the Druidic calendar – the Eightfold Year.*

We convened east of Knighton, Powys on the Welsh borders, at a spot fiercely contested in the wars with the English. It was also in this area in 1921 that the antiquarian photographer Alfred Watkins had a revelation on the hidden connections within the British landscape that he later wrote about in the indispensable ‘Old Straight Track’ -  and subsequently visited by the Lion of Judah himself – Emperor Haile Selassie!


“The root and inspiration and acknowledgement of the esoteric spirituality contained in the work comes from the ancient past and the distant future but is based in the immediate here and now.
It is indebted to those from the base root, the true guardians of the planet – the peasants.

Those of the earth
The rain and sun
The wind and stars
The seas the rivers
The valley the mountain tops

Mother Nature’s citizens, those who tilled and toiled and understood the meaning of being.
Who loved the planet’s smallest intimacies and its universal magnitude and used it for the good of all. The Mothers of Invention.” Jamie Reid 2007

While we talk, Jamie takes out his trade tools and starts to paint.

IM: Jamie, you spend a lot of time now with your hands in the soil. Can you tell me about that?
REID: It is part and parcel… sowing, planting, growing, harvesting, nurturing. We are custodians of this planet.. the Garden of Eden, paradise on earth. We have mostly done our best to fuck the planet up. My work is deeply affected by my time spent working the land. Organic growth is integral to it. I’ll spend hours gardening and then go straight into hours of painting, they merge and nature and our part within it.
IM:  I think you still have to explain what you think a lot of your painting work is about, because people can’t get their head around it.
REID: I read an awful lot of Jung when I was 17 to 19. That was the same time I was into R.D. Laing. They intertwine with each other. It really is at the heart of my spiritual beliefs: love and respect for Laing and David Cooper and all that. Funnily enough that was all around that squatting scene.
IM: And what about about your belief system?
REID: Lapsed Druid! When you actually open things up to ordinary people – I mean ordinary people who would never fucking be bothered to go to an art gallery or museum – and I think quite rightly in lots of ways… I think magic has always existed to people of the land. They just knew – didn’t need loads of mumbo jumbo ritual, they just knew…because they fucking looked. And we can’t see anymore.
IM: Alfred Watkins says that the people who laid out the Old Straight Tracks attained a supernatural aura because they had a knowledge that other people didn’t. Isn’t it natural for people to want someone to look up to?
REID: As soon as you get pyramidical hierarchies the whole thing becomes corrupt. We’ve never lived in an age where people trust each other less. I can remember in Croydon, specifically in the early 1970’s when we were doing Suburban Press which was far from being elitist and was very involved with the working class in that area – that was the first time ever we didn’t have our doors open so it all started going then – but the whole Craig and Bentley thing really fucked Croydon. (Ed. the innocent and mentally ill Christopher Craig was hanged after his accomplice, the under-age Craig Bentley, killed PC Sidney Miles during a botched robbery in Croydon). Then the police wouldn’t go there.  Croydon was very different then.
IM: Have you done any of your own research into ley-lines? What they are, what they mean?
RIED: Only by observing and looking and seeing. A few years ago I was doing a lot of geometrical paintings. I tend to do them and then find the source. I knew about sacred geometry but it wasn’t until I immersed myself in it, that I realised what it was. In a way there was always that element of being self-taught. It’s just such a fundamental element in everything – from primitive to the Renaissance to anything you care to name. You can see it reveal itself in front of your eyes in the landscape. You just immerse yourself in it – it’s just a total experience where you completely lose yourself. It’s the same as I feel when I’m actually working because I do go into a complete trance – which is why I can’t talk and paint. It’s very intense. It’s very deep in.


IM: Were you ever a teenager?
REID: I can’t remember! Maybe I’ve never stopped being one. I think music’s probably the biggest influence, from early rock‘n’roll. Croydon was a really big centre of early Teddy Boys …and the whole Bill Haley thing had a massive effect. But I suppose more than anything the biggest influence was what was happening in jazz in America at the time.
IM Where was it coming from? Through the radio or through friends?
REID: I was buying it as it was coming out. That would have been predominantly Mingus, Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Ornette Coleman. To me it was like a whole peak of 20th Century culture. It’s never been surpassed. I also went to see a Pollock exhibition when I was about 16 without knowing anything about modern art and just found them like entering other worlds.
IM: You describe Pollock’s work as being like landscape painting.
REID: It was just like fantasy worlds you could walk into and see what you liked. I loved the fact that they left themselves open to interpretation. And Blake. I was obsessed with the Blakes in the Tate. A lot of that I got through my father. There was always art and sport, and I was lucky enough to be really good at sport. As you know I was going to play professional football or cricket. I also used to go up to see Mingus and Sonny Rollins perform at Ronnie Scott’s and Soho then was a big influence – at the same time Zappa, Beefheart and all that – it was an amazing period. There was a great element of experimentation. It was all part of a great belief in change, but I was brought up politically. My parents were diehard socialists and were very much involved – as was my brother – in the anti-war movement, so I was dragged off to Aldermaston marches at an early age.
IM: Your mother had problems with your Great Uncle George. She sounds like she was quite an iconoclast herself.
REID: She was brought up in a Naturist environment and her dad wrote a book called ‘In The Heart of Democracy’ so they were all involved with the socialist movement of the time. It was the death of the whole fifty year epoch  of Victorianism. There was a massive interest in change both politically and spiritually, which is the thing that fascinated me about the Druid order. There was a great belief in access to freedom of knowledge, education, the whole alternative movement in medicine and health, and health foods but they were as likely to be on trade union and suffragette rallies as to be doing rituals at Stonehenge. It was all part and parcel, which is something I’ve really tried to continue myself.
IM: Do you think this was a direct response to the Second World War?
REID: Well the war drew a curtain on everything. It was the most massive blood sacrifice in the history of mankind. I’ll have to stop painting – I can’t paint and talk at the same time.
IM: 1968 was something of a watershed in the history of public protest – Paris burned in the belief that revolution was imminent, Martin Luther King was assassinated, the Tet Offensive began in Vietnam and medal winners Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists for the Black Panther movement at the Mexico Olympics. What was your experience of London in 1968?
REID: It was part of that whole R.D. Laing and Cooper period. Everyone was looking for alternatives. It was a period of fantastic possibilities and change. People really believed that you could actually change things, and politically, things couldn’t have become more repressed since then. We’ve become more and more under the thumb. We’ve lost our belief that people can effectively change anything. But on one level we’re going through a period of the most massive change that we’ve ever been through in the history of woman or man-kind. There is a quickening process – we’re experiencing everything that everyone’s ever been through over millennia in one generation. I think America is Rome and it will fall very fast. On an economic level it’s going to China and India isn’t it? I think everything might just break down. We’ll go back in to small states. China will break up, India will break up, everywhere will break up into smaller units because people can only really survive in smaller units. I think they can only really appreciate what a wonderful planet…God, I sound like Louis Armstrong! It’s such a beautiful fucking place and we’re the custodians of it and fucking economics… is Babylon. People could be very happy with fuck all.
IM: Is this what connects the dots in your work – your wish to make people think that they can really enjoy this world?
REID: I’ve thought that the whole idea of an artist is to be expansive, like an explorer going forward. Not stuck in a rut. re talking about influences, John Michel is one. The man was like a modern-day wizard. I love him because he was so benign. Such a lovely person.
IM: When did you first cross paths?
REID: Probably in the Sixties, with the pamphlets he did on sacred geometry and ley-lines. Obviously there’s the big connection from him to Watkins.
IM: So at last we get a mentor.
REID: A very gentle mentor.
IM: You recently found out that MI6 had you down as a traitor.
REID: They were thinking of doing us for treason at the time of the Queen’s jubilee and God Save the Queen and all that.
IM: Is that encouraging?
REID: I dunno. I think it’s a family tradition. My brother was tried for treason when he was part of Spies For Peace and the Committee of One Hundred. See? Blame your parents!

IM: When you finish the Eightfold year cycle of work…what are you going to do next?
REID: I’d like to do more work like I did in the Strongroom. One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is to do a lot of landscape sculpture and create gardens. I spent five years doing landscape gardening when I was younger. I’d like to create places in which people can stay which act as resource centres. I’d like to apply what I’ve done in the Strongroom to all sorts of situations, it could be a hospital…obviously there’s a whole element to what I do that has that capacity to heal people.
IM: Colour magic?
REID: Yeah. I don’t think we know fuck all about colour and its potential. I don’t think we know fuck all about sound. I think we’re incredibly ignorant, however sophisticated we think our technology is. Actually, in a laborious way, technology hints at things we’ve lost the ability to see for ourselves. To me that was most well articulated by a Scottish engineer called Professor Alexander Thom who was a great expert on Stonehenge; he came to Stonehenge not through drugs or hippie-dom or New Age but through being an engineer and being fascinated with its structure. I remember him in a documentary – it was the time when Yale University had spent two years studying Stonehenge to say “Oh yes, it’s a cosmic timeclock”. He was asked how on earth could these people could’ve built something like this without calculus. Fuck calculus. They were so in tune with the landscape, they were so in tune with the stars and their movements and the sun and the moon that they just knew. We had to spend thousand of years of calculus to come to these conclusions.
IM: I remember you saying that computers were going to bring in a whole age of…
REID: Backache and blindness.
IM: No, you said there would be a new age of psychic connection between people.
REID: I’ve probably got more cynical since I said that.
IM: The London Psychogeographical Association had a section on their website about Druidry. What’s the connection?
REID: I think we touched on it earlier when we talked about the whole period of say, the Golden Dawn and the early Druid Order in Britain– it was as much politically bound as spiritually bound – it was part and parcel of the same thing. If you look at the early trade union movement it was as much spiritual as it was political – but those things have become less and less apparent.
IM: Beuys used ritual as the kick-off point for a lot of his work, parts of which are now holy relics of his rituals. What comes first for you? Do you use artwork in rituals or does the work come from ritual?
REID: They are totally intertwined and totally interdependent. The whole process of how I work is very ritualistic anyway, in many ways. Setting up, starting and just doing it – it’s very ritualistic – but I do go into a state of trance.
IM: Where do you go?
REID: You go into an absolute void – making your mind absolutely blank. Just letting it flow through.
IM: Do you have realizations in that state?
REID: Well, the realizations manifest themselves in what you do and what the product is. It’s as much science as it is art – it goes into all sorts of situations. It’s the high end of chemistry, physics, mathematics – things astrological. But you have to go through a deep sense of void and purity to do it. It’s macrocosms, it’s microcosms, but it’s fundamentally there to make people feel uplifted. To make people feel good. Well, that side of my work is, but there is the other side – the overtly political side that’s purely to make comment on how fucking evil the powers that be are.
IM: In 2011 you created an almighty installation with a circle of eight full sized tipis in an old warehouse in North London, and the new show in Brighton has a tipi jammed into a Georgian drawing room. What does this structure represent for you?
REID: As a child I always wanted to be a Native American when playing cowboys and indians, and nurtured a great love for them. I have used tipis in numerous shows and at festivals. I like their association with being nomadic, they come and go with the seasons, they provide shelter and community. I also want them to represent a peaceful space, a place to dream and let the mind lift and expand. To spend some time in one of these structures, either by day or night, is so uplifting. They are also a sign of association and support of indigenous people everywhere. And now with my traveling show, RAGGED KINGDOM they will always feature, be it a large or small space. This has been exemplified with my collaborations with Navajo dancer Dennis Lee Rogers who provides a sense of ceremony and joy to our openings.

IM: Lastly, in the light of all you have done: Ne Travaillez Jamais – please discuss!
REID: Well, our culture is geared towards enslavement, for us to perform pre-ordained functions, particularly in the workplace. I’ve always tried to encourage people to think about that and do something about it.

Ragged Kingdom: The Incomplete Works of Jamie Reid is at Galleria Civica di Modena September 12th 2014 to January 6th 2015

* These are the eight festivals which divide the Wheel Of The Year. Each has it’s own Druidic celebration, with occurences approximately every six weeks. These include solstices, equinoxes, and the four major points in the turning of the Wheel, (Autumn, Winter, Spring, & Summer).

Recommended reading –

Up They Rise – The Incomplete Works of Jamie Reid by Jamie Reid and Jon Savage (Faber and Faber 1987)

The Old Straight Track by Alfred Watkins (Abacus 1974)

The Wing of Madness : The Life and Work of R.D. Laing by Daniel Burston (Harvard University Press 1998)



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

Stepping into Europe’s Last Old Growth Forest

An article by Jeremy Hance…


Wolves in Bialovieza Forest

Wolves in Bialovieza Forest


There is almost nothing left of Europe’s famed forests, those that provided for human communities for millennia and gave life to the world’s most famous fairytales. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t forests in Europe, far from it: approximately 35 percent of the EU is currently covered in forest. But almost all of this is either plantations or secondary growth, having been logged sometime in the last few hundred years and in many areas logged in the last couple decades. This is why, according to author and guide, Lukasz Mazurek, the Bialowieza Forest is so special: “You really feel here like you travelled back in time some hundreds or thousands of years.”

Straddling the border between Poland and Belarus, the Bialowieza Forest is Europe’s last lowland old-growth forest, parts of which have never been cut by man. The entire forest covers about 140,000 hectares, or around 15 percent the size of Yellowstone National Park. Here, trees are king: growing over 40 meters (over 130 feet) tall, some were saplings when Christopher Columbus was born.

Moreover, most of Europe’s forests are now bereft of their megafauna: bears, wolves, red deer, moose have all seen their ranges squeezed considerably in the last few centuries. Other species have vanished altogether: it’s hard to imagine that Europe’s forests used to include lions, hyenas, elephants, rhinos, and giant cattle known as aurochs, which only went extinct in the 17th Century.

But, in Bialowieza, says Mazurek, “The food chains are almost unbroken.” The forest is home to wolves, lynx, boar, elk, red deer, roe deer, and its most iconic animal, the European bison (Bison bonasus). This species, the biggest land mammal in Europe, went extinct in the wild in the 1920s, but has since made a remarkable come-back…to read more click here.

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | July 9, 2014

The Tree of Awe

tree of awe
How does the part of the world leave the world? 
How does wetness leave water? 
Don’t try to put out a fire by throwing on 
more fire.  Don’t wash a wound with blood. 
No matter how fast you run, your shadow 
more than keeps up. Sometime it’s in front. 
Only full, overhead sun diminishes your shadow. 
But that shadow has been serving you. 
What hurts you blesses you. 
Darkness is your candle. 
Your boundaries are your quest. 
I can explain this, but it would break the glass cover 
on your heart, and there is no fixing that. 
You must have shadow and light source both. 
Listen, and lay your head under the tree of awe. 
When from that tree, feathers and wings 
sprout on your soul, be quieter than a dove. 
Don’t open your mouth for even a cooooo.
~ Rumi   (trans.Coleman Barks)
Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | July 7, 2014

The Ocean Cleanup

Check out this really interesting Crowd Funding project that is trying to tackle the enormous problem of plastics in our oceans. Here is a some information and a short video about the project from their Crowd Funding page. More details and how you can help can be found here.

The Reality
Millions of tons of plastic are polluting our oceans, killing at least one million seabirds and one hundred thousand marine mammals each year. Impacting human health and causing billions of dollars of economic damage.

We should of course close the tap, preventing any more plastic entering the oceans in the first phase. But this is not a solution to the plastics trapped and persisting in the centre of the oceans. However, a clean-up of our oceans has always been deemed impossible, costing billions of dollars and thousands of years.

On June 3rd 2014, Boyan and his team of 70 experts proved the concept feasible. But he now needs your help, to turn it into reality

The idea
When Boyan was 16 years old he went diving and saw more plastic bags than fish in the ocean. He wondered why there was no solution to clean things up. He wondered; why move through the oceans, if the oceans can move through you? Instead of wasting energy by going after the plastics, you could simply wait for the plastic to come to you. An array of floating barriers would first catch and concentrate the plastic, enabling a platform to efficiently extract this afterwards. The ocean current would pass underneath the barriers, taking all neutrally buoyant sea life with it, preventing by-catch.

Phase I: Feasibility Study
After the concept went viral in 2013, Boyan then founded The Ocean Cleanup foundation, and assembled a team that grew to about 100 people, with whom he started performing an extensive feasibility study.

The conclusion
On the 3rd of June 2014, The Ocean Cleanup presented the results of our extensive research. The 530-page feasibility study confirmed that the concept is indeed likely a feasible and viable method to remove almost half the plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Phase II: The Pilot Phase
To reduce the uncertainties, to optimize the design and to prepare for the actual implementation, The Ocean Cleanup now commences on the second phase of the project: the pilot phase.

Through a series of up-scaled tests, The Ocean Cleanup will work towards a large-scale and fully operational pilot in 3-4 years’ time. The series of tests will generate new data in a range of structural and physical topics. Furthermore, these up-scaling tests will serve as a platform for the engineering and oceanographic research groups, enabling them to immediately implement newly developed technology or testing equipment in a real-life environment.

The Strategy
To keep costs as low as possible, The Ocean Cleanup acts as a mission control centre in Phase II, managing the research, funding and communication. As Boyan Slat puts it, “It wouldn’t be very cost-efficient to try to build our own engineering company and oceanographic institute. Instead, we seek collaborations with existing parties, enabling us to focus on the bigger picture”.

We aim to raise two million USD in 100 days. It will enable us to execute more pilot tests, study the durability of the system, developing and deploying permanent sampling equipment in the gyre, optimize our vertical distribution research and to further develop and build our team.

This is where we need your support.
Two million US dollars will enable us to go from the feasibility phase to the implementation phase. We are looking for 322.062 people who are willing to support us with at least $6.21.

So join us in taking the next crucial steps towards cleaning our oceans.


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

The Stone Age Didn’t End For Lack of Stones

Interesting article in the Guardian by Andrew Winston that might point to a glimmer of hope regarding oil rich countries embracing sustainable energy sources…

solar saudi

Oil-rich United Arab Emirates aims to be a sustainable energy pioneer

One of the world’s richest oil-based economies is embracing sustainable technologies, and making a surprise bid to become a clean energy leader…
Imagine if you and your extended family were digging in the backyard and found something valuable like, say, 10% of the world’s oil reserves. That’s the story of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a small country with big assets and bigger ambitions.

UAE should be a powerful defender of the status quo on energy use. Denying climate change would also make tremendous sense. But this country is attempting a pivot of historic proportions, trying to build a oil-free future in the desert. UAE has become a major player in clean technologies, funding large-scale renewable energy projects around the world, and investing millions in fundamental research (in partnership with MIT) in energy, water, microelectronics, advanced materials, and transportation systems.

Earlier this year, I spent a few days in Abu Dhabi (on a press trip with travel paid for by the PR firm that represents Masdar and the UAE), attending the city’s annual World Future of Energy summit and spoke with key executives from the country’s clean energy business arm. In recent weeks, I was struck by the difference between the UAE’s approach and that of a similar sized entity, ExxonMobil. The oil company released a long statement on the risk of its oil and gas assets being “stranded” (that is, made worthless) by the world’s potential pivot away from fossil fuels.

Not surprisingly, Exxon said there was no real risk to its investors – it would burn all the fuel it has in reserve, climate change be damned, because a) the world’s poor and growing middle classes need energy and b) the world’s governments would not take strong enough policy action to seriously reduce carbon emissions. On the latter point, sadly, the company may be right. On the first, though, it was top-notch propaganda to conflate the need for energy to a need for their form of carbon-based energy. We can provide carbon-free energy to the world, with or without Exxon.

In comparison to Exxon’s backward-looking position, the UAE seems positively progressive on clean energy. At the Future of Energy Summit, UAE leaders announced a partnership with Denmark, and with Vestas Wind in particular, to tackle energy poverty in the developing world. The Wind for Prosperity project will offer carbon-free electricity to those who mostly use very expensive diesel generators for power. This partnership is only one example of the UAE’s strategy to help bring about a clean economy future, which, according to Bader Al Lamki, the director of Masdar Clean Energy, has two major elements… to read the whole article click here

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

Break the Wineglass!

The poet Rumi, artist not known. From:

The poet Rumi, artist not known. From:

If you pop by this blog now and again you might not have seen it, but if you are a subscriber you will have got an email post from me a few days ago with Ronald Hutton’s talk in it. My wonderful assistant Maria put it up on the blog without realizing that I wouldn’t want it there, being the sort of self-effacing bloke that I am. So, when I saw it, 30 mins later, I took it down. We’ve already had the talk on the last Druidcast podcast and that’s enough I reckon, so my apologies!

Now for something inspiring!

It’s the old rule, that drunks have to argue and get into fights. The lover is just as bad. He falls into a hole, but down in that hole he finds something worth far more than money or power. Last night the moon came dropping her clothes in the street. I took it as a sign to start singing, falling up into that bowl of sky. The bowl breaks. Everywhere is falling everywhere. Nothing else to do. Here’s the new rule. Break the wineglass, and fall towards the glassblower’s breath.Rumi


Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | June 30, 2014

…What More Did I Think I Wanted?

misty forest












Again I resume the long
lesson: how small a thing
can be pleasing, how little
in this hard world it takes
to satisfy the mind
and bring it to its rest.

Within the ongoing havoc
the woods this morning is
almost unnaturally still.
Through stalled air, unshadowed
light, a few leaves fall
of their own weight.

                                       The sky
is gray. It begins in mist
almost at the ground
and rises forever. The trees
rise in silence almost
natural, but not quite,
almost eternal, but
not quite.

                      What more did I
think I wanted? Here is
what has always been.
Here is what will always
be. Even in me,
the Maker of all this
returns in rest, even
to the slightest of His works,
a yellow leaf slowly
falling, and is pleased.

 ~ Wendell Berry from This Day..

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | June 30, 2014

Celebrating the Paradox

Tim Freke talks about embracing both our sense of separateness whilst feeling ourselves at one with the Mystery…

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | June 25, 2014

The Flowing River and the Book of Life

A guest post by Maria Ede-Weaving…


Druidry encourage a positive engagement with the Bardic Arts. it recognises that our urge to express ourselves through our creativity is, at heart, a spiritual act: when we create we share, in some small way, in the vast and mysterious act of creation. Not only that, our creativity can illustrate just what it means to be human. How often have we read a poem or piece of prose and got that ‘me too’ feeling, or when listening to music felt something beyond words open up inside us? When we create, we share something fundamental and vital about ourselves and our experience of living; when we are exposed to the creativity of others, we are given the potential to gain a deeper understand of life and self. The path of the Bard is a transformative one – it can change us, dissolving the boundaries of our small and limited selves to reveal something bigger, richer.

In Druidry, the concept of Awen is intimately linked to our creativity. We seek to open ourselves to this vibrant energy, allowing it to move through us and animate our creations. We feel its touch when our awareness is heightened, when a grey world is cracked open and flooded by colour. An encounter with Awen is essentially a sudden change of perception that – although transitory in our experience of it – can have a lasting impact through our creative efforts. A little Awen takes up residence in the things we create and through the sharing of these, touches others – at least, this is the always the potential when we offer our art to the world.

The word Awen is often translated as ‘flowing spirit’ and it is no surprise how many deities traditionally associated with inspiration and the creative arts are connected not only to flowing water but to knowledge. If we think of the Goddess Brighid, there is always a sense that her inspiration brings with it the gift of a deeper knowing – the fires of her forge melt us down, change our shape, toughen us on the anvil of experience in order to deepen our wisdom. Her waters nourish and sustain; her springs suggest to us that deep within there is a place we can draw from that will feed us; that this quiet place – when we follow its course – can expand and swell, spilling over the brim of our inertia into movement, and that if we step into this current, we will be carried by its powerful momentum back to the Source.

I have been recently drawn to the Hindu Goddess Sarasvati, who in many ways shares a good deal with Brighid and the gifts of Awen. She is the Lady of all creative arts and sciences – musicians, artists, writers, students, teachers and philosophers call upon her for her blessings and guidance. She was originally a river Goddess and is strongly associated with flowing water in her role as goddess of knowledge and creativity. What I find particularly interesting is that her name translates as ‘Sara’: essence/essential knowledge of ‘Sva’: the self. Her name suggests this link between creativity and a deeper knowledge and understanding of ourselves and life.

In her iconography, she is often portrayed with four arms, one carrying a book or scroll, another a crystal mala, the remaining two playing a Veena (a lute-like instrument). She possesses a pot of sacred water, so reminiscent of the grail and is often seated upon a white swan (note that Brighid is also associated with swans) or a lotus. Here we see references to her connections to Divine knowledge, truth and wisdom; of how the spiritual life is intimately connected to the powerfully expressive and purifying nature of our creativity and that these are made manifest through music, words, the arts and sciences – through our actual creations: Awen made manifest. In this act of shaping spirit into form, a little more of life is revealed to us and shared with others.

At the OBOD 50th Gathering in Glastonbury, after an evening of celebration, music and poetry, 400 Druids stood in the dark watching a glorious firework display. In the magical silence that followed, a spontaneous chanting of the Awen began. It rippled out, swelling and cascading over and through ever soul there. It was an extraordinary moment. The evening had been a celebration of sharing not only creativity but our community and the sense of spiritual connection that these inspire when the sacred relationship between them is honoured.  The power of chanting the Awen is that it symbolises the magical shift that occurs when our individual creative voices join in with and enrich the whole. The Bardic arts have the potential to change things for the better; to add to the collective wisdom for the good of all, which is why Druidry’s focus on them is such an important part of our spiritual path.

Through our creativity, we are each a drop of inspiration in Sarasvati’s river, flowing out into the world and sustaining life; adding knowledge to the sacred book she holds in her hands, for the future benefit of all who come after us.


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

Truth, Growth and Democracy

A guest post by Dirk Campbell

Dirk Campbell

Dirk Campbell

In 1972 a report was published by the Club of Rome, called Limits to Growth. The writers of the report had decided to come out with something that’s perfectly obvious but no-one wants to hear: you cannot have perpetual growth in a closed system. Mankind must reach the limits to growth on this planet eventually; the only question is when.

Dr Graham Turner of the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation gave a talk which included a simple graph with two curves: downward for resource depletion and upward for resource exploitation, coinciding in 2020 with a resulting sharp fall in resource availability, economic and industrial activity, pollution and CO2 output. Notes on the June 2011 All Party Policy Group on Peak Oil (APPGOPO) meeting at the House of Commons…

Opponents to the Limits to Growth report, notably US economists, argue that it is a doomsday prophecy that does not hold up to scrutiny, and that its policies would consign billions to permanent poverty. The report, however, contains no policies, only probabilities. And the truth is that billions are already living in permanent poverty because global capitalism, with democracy as its scurrying servant, concentrates money, resources and political power in the hands of the rich few who want to carry on business as usual, despite the inevitability of collapse sooner or later.

Why doesn’t our government act in our interests? Because we live in a democracy, and democratic government is all too frequently powerless in the face of truth. The democratic process is based on the self-interest of the majority, so invariably facts are fudged, statistics massaged and important issues ignored, while unimportant ones are given undue emphasis in order to attract the support of the greatest number, with the result that democratic governments are elected on a platform of deceptions and half-truths which they have to maintain while in office. Not to mention the obligations they incur to powerful vested interests during the election process and in government.

Imagine a political party today campaigning on a strictly truthful platform. ‘We have reached the limits of resource availability so we must stop industrial and economic growth, and we must reduce our population. We must stop emitting greenhouse gases so that future generations will have a habitable planet. We must live and work more locally and sustainably and stop jetting off on holiday and business destinations. We must restructure our financial dealings so that it is no longer possible for individuals to make huge profits out of a fictional economy which then impacts adversely on the tax-payer.’

No-one would vote for such a manifesto. Human beings don’t do anything unless there is a perceived need and there has never been a perceived need for enforced restrictive legislation except in the case of a major external threat such as a war. And even in that case – more particularly in that case – truth is the first casualty.

How then can we organise our lives on the basis of truth? The first thing is to recognise that no effective social organisation can be based completely on truth. Truth doesn’t emerge into social consciousness that way. It helps to accept that we live simultaneously in two domains with different rules: socio-political and personal. And it also helps to recognise that everything in human life is ultimately about psychology.

The unconscious mind is the repository of all the beliefs that motivate us deep down, about whether the world is safe or dangerous, about whether we are rejected or accepted, seen or ignored, lost or found. Truth in the objective sense has nothing to do with these powerful drivers. Which is why political speech has always appealed to the unconscious, and why events always overtake policies. We are always fighting bygone wars. Our unconscious drivers exist at the level of archetype, myth legend and belief. Those stories are more powerful for us than conscious stories, and every successful politician taps into them. ‘The national interest.’ ‘Sustainable growth.’ ‘War against terror.’ ‘Health and welfare.’ ‘Change for the better.’ None of these well-used and sonorous phrases actually has any meaning – or rather, they can have any meaning you like. They are vague concepts that invoke our unconscious stories about heroism, success, abundance and the survival of the tribal community. They are forms, in effect, of unconscious language.

Our personal lives, on the other hand, can be lived differently, and usually are. Here our subconscious drivers are based on the ‘family survival contract’: be considerate, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t boast, don’t make a fuss, don’t cause harm or upset, don’t exploit others for your own gain. How often do we find socio-economic imperatives over-riding these values!

Beyond the family sphere we seem to obey different rules, much as physical bodies obey different rules at subatomic and macroscopic levels. We are forced to inhabit two worlds simultaneously: the world of personal value and the world of political expediency – truth and untruth. It must always have been so since the first emergence of polities larger than the nomadic band. There’s no point in attempting to work against a system that re-establishes itself whatever you do to it, like one of those toy cars that rights itself automatically; eventually it will run out of power on its own. It’s more effective and more permanent to live truthfully and teach truth to your children, so that at least they’re not confused by the apparent conflict between personal and politico-economic values.

~ Dirk Campbell, TTL.



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

The Breathing Planet – Kew Gardens Campaign

Globally important conservation and science under threat at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew due to government cuts – £5M deficit will lead to loss of over 120 posts

The UK Government need to urgently reverse the existing cuts to Kew’s annual operating grant in aid funding, and to cancel the proposed and any further future cuts.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, with sites at Kew Gardens, London and Wakehurst Place, Sussex is a world-leader in conservation and botanical science, with over 250 years of historical excellence in these fields.

Never before has Kew faced such a significant threat to its future. It now needs your help to ensure its globally-important plant and fungal collections can continue to be used to support plant and fungal science and conservation around the world.

In 1983, 90 per cent of Kew’s funding came from the UK Government as grant in aid. The current amount has dropped to below 40 per cent as of this year. Funding was reduced by £0.9M in 2009-10, £1M in 2010-11, and by an extra £0.5M year-on-year thereafter.

Kew has now been told to expect further cuts of at least another £1.5M before the end of 2016.

Under the 1983 National Heritage Act, the UK Government committed to ensure that Kew is adequately resourced to fulfil its statutory obligations, which include: research; providing advice and education; plant-related services including quarantine; caring for world-renowned scientific collections, as national reference collections available for study; and as a resource for the public to gain knowledge and enjoy. The UK Government is no longer fulfilling its role to allow Kew to meet these obligations.

Kew has been dramatically increasing income from non-government funding streams through the work of their partner charity Kew Foundation, and via commercially-generated income, consultancy work, and research funding. Although there are plans to extend these efforts, they are no longer able to keep up with the rate of cuts in government funding and many areas of Kew’s work are not easily resourced externally.

Due to the cuts, Kew has announced that with a £5M deficit for this year, over 120 posts will be axed. The majority of posts will be lost in the areas of science and public engagement. In specialist careers measured in decades of experience, Kew will lose dedicated, expert staff, and whole areas of work are likely to be halted.

As Sir David Attenborough said:

“Kew has an absolutely crucial role in looking after our botanical heritage and our botanical future. The important thing to remember is that it is the premiere botanical gardens in the world scientifically. People who think it is just a place to go to look at pretty flowers and flower beds are mistaking the importance of Kew Gardens. The Seed Bank is of world importance and it should be supported by the Government like a proper institution or university and the continuing idea that Kew Gardens is merely a playground and that you just put up the prices to look after it is a misguided assessment of the value of Kew. The Government and the scientific departments should recognise that and support it properly.” 

Please show your support for Kew, and their continuing work for future generations, by signing this petition, and please encourage others to do the same.

99,000 have signed the petition. Please add your name by clicking here.

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

Monsanto Sues Vermont for wanting to tell the Truth!

monsantolandJust hours ago, the world’s most hated corporation got even more evil.

Monsanto and its allies have just announced they’re suing the tiny, rural U.S. state of Vermont to stop a new law that simply requires genetically engineered foods to be labeled. In fact, the mere threat of a multi-million dollar lawsuit nearly caused the state to back off the labeling law altogether.

But Vermont is refusing to back down — and they’re asking for our help. They’re getting ready to fight back against Monsanto, and have even created a legal defense fund so people around the world can make donations to help them beat back Monsanto’s lawsuit.

The SumOfUs community is already fighting Monsanto on every front, but we need to show Monsanto now that we won’t be intimidated. We won’t let Monsanto bully our elected officials into submission. Will you chip in $1 to stand with Vermont and fight back against Monsanto?

Yes, I’ll chip in £1 or  $1 to help Vermont stand up to Monsanto.

Vermont is a small, entirely rural state with just 600,000 people. Vermont vs. Monsanto, one of the most powerful corporations in the world, is a classic David and Goliath fight.

But there’s much more at stake here than just whether GMO foods will be labeled in a single U.S. state. Vermont is actually the very first state in the U.S. to require labeling, and dozens of other states have said they will require labeling as well — but only if Vermont’s law can survive this legal challenge.

That’s why Monsanto is fighting so hard to kill GMO labeling in Vermont. If we can win here, it’ll be a huge step towards the goal of GMO labeling worldwide, and making sure consumers know what they are eating.

Monsanto has been threatening this for weeks, but it’s only just filed suit through the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association, a trade group of which Monsanto is a core member. And Monsanto’s legal bullying is part of a growing trend of multi-national corporations suing sovereign governments to overturn regulations they don’t like. Since the biggest corporations are larger than many countries around the world, it’s critical that citizens of the world band together to fight back.

That’s what SumOfUs is all about — harnessing the global consumer power of our nearly 5 million members to take on corporate abuses wherever they occur. And if enough of us donate, we’ll be able to not only help out with the Vermont legal defense fund, but launch our own campaign pressuring Monsanto to end these legal attacks on our right to know what’s in our food. Can you chip in $1?

Yes, I’ll chip in £1 or $1 to help Vermont stand up to Monsanto.

Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | June 13, 2014

Medieval Mysteries


OBOD member Karen Ralls is a historian and musician who has recently written a book entitled Medieval Mysteries: A Guide to History, Lore, Places and Symbolism. Here is some information about the book, followed by Karen’s own words about its contents. A great book for anyone interested in this fascinating period:

Cross the threshold and journey into the world of the High Middle Ages (1100-1300), to further explore twelve of the most-frequently-requested medieval topics today. From Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose to the delights of Monty Python, the medieval period – pagan, Christian, and otherwise – continues to intrigue, inspire and fascinate many today. But what were some of the unexpected developments, interesting people, and key events of this epic time?  For general readers and specialists alike, medieval historian, former Rosslyn Chapel museum exhibition Curator and author Karen Ralls presents the key historical facts and associated places, symbolism, and folklore for each of the twelve medieval topics, providing a much-requested ‘medieval anthology’ — a lively introductory portal for all readers, in one place, which includes the major historical facts as well as some of the lesser-known aspects about each of the topics.  The story of each subject comes alive as never before, providing a solid, engaging overview about each subject, as well as numerous full colour photographs throughout, a Recommended Reading List (from both academic and selected general sources), four appendices, Historic Sites to Visit,  Notes, and a full Bibliography. Topics covered include:

  • The Knights Templar
  • The Grail and the Grail quest
  • Mary Magdalene: medieval places, traditions and shrines
  • Black Madonnas: from springs, grotto and grove to Chartres…
  • The courage of the Cathars
  • Medieval Guilds;  The Green Man
  • The Troubadours
  • Heresy, Heretics, and heresy trials
  • Rosslyn Chapel
  • King Arthur,  Glastonbury, Merlin

Further explore the history and wonders of the High Middle Ages –  a time of potent symbolism, unexpected developments on many fronts, and much spiritual questing. 

‘Medieval Mysteries: History, Places, and Symbolism – is a history book covering twelve of the more-frequently-requested medieval period subjects. Although being ‘medieval period/High Middle Ages’ (1100-1300) in focus, I do discuss throughout (wherever I possibly could!), the history of the pagan-related aspects of a number of medieval period subjects, i.e, the Green Man, the earlier roots of the Black Madonnas, from springs, grottoes and groves, to Chartres, medieval heresies, the Grail Quest. I also enjoyed finding an early ‘Our Lady of the Oak Tree’ in France.’ – Karen Ralls


  • Karen’s website and details of her other books can be found here.


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