“The bard is the one willing to learn, the one especially willing to learn unwelcome things about what the rest of us know. It is a burdensome, weighty proposition, one guaranteed to oblige the bard to run headlong into the blast of his or her time…
And that is as it has always been for the deep storytellers. They pay a debt to life unsuspected by the rest of us. Part holy fool and court jester, part spiritual lawyer for the human encounter with the divine, the bard is the great rememberer, the librarian of all refused stories.
Bards are first and always story hearers, and story seers. The capacity for story lives in their eyes and ears, as well as on their tongue.”
Russell Brand is a comedian with a conscience and spiritual awareness. Easy to dismiss if judged after a few minutes as vulgar or trivial, it is no surprise that the Dalai Lama chose Brand to introduce him on his last visit to Britain. Here he talks about his stint as editor of The New Statesman with Britain’s most famous political TV journalist, Jeremy Paxman, known for his confrontational no-nonsense interviews.
You can find his New Statesman editorial here. readers of this blog should like this excerpt: “The model of pre-Christian man has fulfilled its simian objectives. We have survived, we have created agriculture and cities. Now this version of man must be sacrificed that we can evolve beyond the reaches of the ape. These stories contain great clues to our survival when we release ourselves from literalism and superstition. What are ideologies other than a guide for life? Throughout paganism one finds stories that integrate our species with our environment to the benefit of both. The function and benefits of these belief matrixes have been lost, with good reason. They were socialist, egalitarian and integrated. If like the Celtic people we revered the rivers we would prioritise this sacred knowledge and curtail the attempts of any that sought to pollute the rivers. If like the Nordic people we believed the souls of our ancestors lived in the trees, this connection would make mass deforestation anathema. If like the native people of America we believed God was in the soil what would our intuitive response be to the implementation of fracking?” Russell Brand
It’s a mystery to me
we have a greed
with which we have agreed
You think you have to want
more than you need
until you have it all you won’t be free
Society, you’re a crazy breed
I hope you’re not lonely without me…
Eddie Vedder – Society from the film ‘Into the Wild’
A guest post by Maria Ede-Weaving…
The year is releasing itself, letting go with the kind of intense beauty that never fails to inspire awe in me. There was a time I used to dread this season, sensing the darkness closing in; the claustrophobia of the encroaching winter. Now I see how beautiful this time of year is. The sun is low in the sky producing a golden light whose filter adds an even greater warmth to the colour of autumn trees; the sunsets are vivid and mists gather in the folds and recesses of the land, hovering over water meadows and sliding down cliffs, reaching out across the sea until the boundary between land and ocean is no more and we can no longer tell where one world ends and another begins.
This blurring of the boundaries between worlds is very much a theme of the Pagan festival of Samhain which now approaches. As the year releases its grip on life, the harvest gathered and stored, the nights lengthening, we turn away from the light and growth and move towards the darkness and repose. It can be a challenging time because the darkness is not only about stillness, rest and germination – it is also the place where our fears lurk; our eyes do not adjust easily to its shadows and our anxieties twist and distort their shapes.
There comes a point when the darkness and stillness of winter have a peace about them; we get a real sense of life waiting beneath the soil for re-emergence; there is a restfulness – a natural, easy pause after the out breath of the year – that centres and calms us. Samhain’s energy proceeds this time and is much more vivid and intense, much the way that spring’s energy is, only then, of course, the energy surges outward, carrying into the world an expanding tide of life. I find autumn as intense but the energy is one that has built throughout the summer months to this moment of powerful release.
Birth and death can be chaotic and dangerous transitions; they connect us to our most primal instincts and emotions, powering through us, gripping us. Despite our efforts to remain poised and in control, we can find ourselves broken apart by the experience. Samhain functions like the breaking of an emotional dam, it is the release of orgasm, it is the death rattle of our last breath and the shocking gasp of our first – and all of these moments teach us that losing control is a necessary function. We all have to make peace with the fact that ultimately we are not in control. Life moves through us, at times with an intensity that shakes us; losing control demands that we place our trust in that intensity, learning to accept that it has the power to change us; that its presence in our lives is sometimes necessary for life to move on. We understand this most clearly when we find ourselves in experiences that speak of those vivid energies of spring and autumn: when we fall in love; when we are forced to begin again; when we are ill; when we are dying to our old selves and venturing into new ways to be.
Samhain may well stir our deepest fears of death but its lessons are invaluable and its powerful energy cathartic and potentially creative. As Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes in her wonderful ‘Women who run with the Wolves’, the Cailleach, or Death Mother -whom we meet when we explore this festival’s Mysteries – teaches us the wisdom of the bones. Estes writes that ‘in archetypal symbology, bones represent the indestructible force…the indestructible soul-spirit.’
You can dent the soul and bend it. You can hurt it and scar it. You can leave the marks of illness upon it, and the scotch marks of fear. But it does not die, for it is protected by ‘La Loba’ in the underworld. She is both the finder and incubator of bones…
…within us is the old one who collects bones. Within us there are the soul-bones of this wild self. Within us is the potential to be fleshed out again as the creature we once were. Within us are the bones to change ourselves and our world. Within us is the breath and our truths and longings – together they are the song, the creation hymn we have been yearning to sing…
Samhain teaches us how to recognise what must die and what must live in our lives. It can bring some tough realisations but its transformative energy gives us the opportunity to live a more authentic life.
Estes writes that ‘La Loba’ sings over the bones; her singing fleshes out those bones and, in time, reanimates them. So, what song will you sing this Samhain?
Good books are like icebergs – the text you read represents only a fraction of the work an author has done, and a fraction of the material that has gone into the making of it. A mistake an author can make is to try to say everything about a subject. You can’t, and you have to let go of that ambition or your book will be indigestible. Just as music needs its silences, so a book needs to breathe and to give you the space to interact with it. You have to sense when less really is more.
One of the ways you can explore the material beneath the surface of a book is to follow up any hints or footnotes, and one of the ‘secret pleasures’ of an author lies in placing such hints in the almost perverse knowledge that only a few people will follow the trail. (Richard Heygate and I did that in The Book of English Magic, deliberately leaving hints for the curious!) Perhaps… or maybe more people check out sources given in the text and footnotes than I imagine. Let’s find out! Please tick the box in the poll below.
Meanwhile let me give a concrete example. I have recently enjoyed reading Jonathan Black’s latest book, The Sacred History, and I’m looking forward to interviewing him for our podcast next month. His book is littered with extraordinary references that are well worth researching. A few examples from many:
The Oracle of the Dead at Baia: “Let this website take you to a place tucked away in the North West corner of the bay of Naples, Italy. Here lies the Terme di Baia where a curious set of buildings is set against a volcanic cliff. Hidden behind them, deep underground, there is a labyrinth of ancient tunnels and chambers dating back 2,500 years, carved out of solid volcanic rock. Is this the way to hell discovered by Dr. Robert Ferrand Paget in 1962?”
“In Gulbekian is that most satisfying of writers: someone who has pondered deep issues of our time enough to distill out some profound and disturbing insights. By any standard deriving from the last 50,000 years of human history, this is an apocalyptic time. The potential and dangers of our time are truly global; many of the threats – environmental, WMDs, poverty etc – are profound; yet much of the politicking about solutions operates at the level of facile soundbite and/or dismissive rhetoric, while an ad for a better cosmetic faces a magazine article on genocide or polluted water supply. The point is that contemporary culture is either dissociated (the optimistic view) or Janus faced. Gulbekian gives a succinct but powerful reading of these and other issues and suggests a way of individual action that rehabilitates the conscience and awareness of the individual. I commend it.” Professor Angus Jenkinson
The Ancient Paths: Discovering the Lost Map of Celtic Europe, review from ‘The Telegraph’
Tim Martin has his eyes opened by an enthralling new history that argues that Druids created a sophisticated ancient society to rival the Romans
A 1570 map of Europe, from Abraham Ortelius’ atlas (detail) Photo: Alamy
By Tim Martin7:00AM BST 12 Oct 20137
‘Important if true” was the phrase that the 19th-century writer and historian Alexander Kinglake wanted to see engraved above church doors. It rings loud in the ears as one reads the latest book by Graham Robb, a biographer and historian of distinction whose new work, if everything in it proves to be correct, will blow apart two millennia of thinking about Iron Age Britain and Europe and put several scientific discoveries back by centuries.
Rigorously field-tested by its sceptical author, who observes drily that “anyone who writes about Druids and mysteriously coordinated landscapes, or who claims to have located the intersections of the solar paths of Middle Earth in a particular field, street, railway station or cement quarry, must expect to be treated with superstition”, it presents extraordinary conclusions in a deeply persuasive and uncompromising manner. What surfaces from these elegant pages – if true – is nothing less than a wonder of the ancient world: the first solid evidence of Druidic science and its accomplishments and the earliest accurate map of a continent.
Robb begins his journey from a cottage in Oxfordshire, following up a handful of mysteries that had teasingly accrued as he assembled his Ondaatje Prize-winning travelogue The Discovery of France.
They had to do with the Heraklean Way, an ancient route that runs 1,000 miles in a straight line from the tip of the Iberian Peninsula to the Alps, and with several Celtic settlements called Mediolanum arranged at intervals along the route.
After examining satellite imaging (difficult for the private scholar even a decade ago) and making several more research trips, Robb bumped up against two extraordinary discoveries. First, the entire Via Heraklea runs as straight as an arrow along the angle of the rising and setting sun at the solstices. Second, plotting lines through the Celtic Mediolanum settlements results in lines that map on to sections of Roman road, which themselves point not to Roman towns but at Celtic oppida farther along.
Viewed in this light, the ancient texts of the Italian conquerors begin to reveal sidelong secrets about the people they supplanted. Piece by piece, there emerges a map of the ancient world constructed along precise celestial lines: a huge network of meridians and solar axes that served as the blueprint for the Celtic colonisation of Europe, dictated the placement of its settlements and places of worship, and was then almost wholly wiped from history. We are, to put it mildly, unused to thinking like this about the Celts, whose language is defunct and whose reputation was comprehensively rewritten by those who succeeded them.
Greek travellers from the sixth century BC onwards described a nation of sanguinary brutes and madmen who threw their babies in rivers, walked with their swords into the sea and roughly sodomised their guests. “It does not take an anthropologist to suspect,” Robb observes drily, “that what the travellers saw or heard about were baptismal rites, the ceremonial dedication of weapons to gods of the lower world, and the friendly custom of sharing one’s bed with a stranger.”
Later on, clean-shaven, toga-sporting Roman visitors to what they called Gallia Bracata and Gallia Comata – Trousered Gaul and Hairy Gaul respectively – were horrified by the inhabitants’ practical legwear and love of elaborate moustaches, and marvelled to hear them discoursing not in gnarly Gaulish but in perfect Greek.
As the Roman military machine rolled over Europe, depicting the Celt as a woods-dwelling wild man became not just a matter of Italian snobbery but one of propagandist utility. According to Robb, when the Romans arrived this side of the Alps, they found a country whose technical achievements were different from, but competitive with, their own.
Mapped and governed by a network of scholar-priests according to a template laid down in heaven, covered by a road network that afforded swift passage to fleets of uniquely advanced chariots (“nearly all the Latin words for wheeled vehicles”, Robb notes, “come from Gaulish”) and possessing astronomical and scientific knowledge that would take another millennium to surface again, Gaul remained a deeply enigmatic place to its military-minded conquerors. When Julius Caesar swept through, on a tide of warfare and genocide that would lead his countryman Pliny to accuse him of humani generis iniuria, “crimes against humanity”, much of its knowledge retreated to the greenwood, never to emerge.
Most significantly, suggests Robb, Caesar failed to work out the Druids. To most of us even now, the word conjures up the image of a white-robed seer with a sickle, an implausible hybrid of Getafix and Glastonbury hippie. (Robb suggests, following the design on a Gaulish cauldron, that they tended more towards a figure-hugging costume patterned like oak bark: much better for melting like smoke into the trees, a trait of Druid-led armies that Caesar vigorously deplored.) The Druidic curriculum took two decades to train up its initiates, but these men of science put nothing in writing. Like their wood-built houses, their secrets rotted with time. How could we hope to reconstruct them?
Remarkably, Robb has an answer to this, and it forms the centre of a book almost indecently stuffed with discoveries. One of the most consistently baffling things about Celtic temple sites to modern surveyors is their shape: warped rectangles that seem none the less to demonstrate a kind of systematic irregularity. Using painstakingly reconstructed elements of the Druidic education, which placed religious emphasis on mapping the patterns of the heavens on to the lower “Middle Earth” of our world, Robb comes up with an astonishing discovery: these irregular rectangles exactly match a method for constructing a geometrical ellipse, the image of the sun’s course in the heavens. Such a method was previously thought to be unknown in the West until the 1500s.
Other suggestions follow thick and fast, backed by a mixture of close reading, mathematical construction and scholarly detective work. Building on meridians and equinoctial lines, the Druids used their maps of the heavens to create a map that criss-crossed a continent, providing a plan of sufficient latitudinal and longitudinal accuracy to guide the Celtic diaspora as it pushed eastward across Europe.
The swirls and patterns in Celtic art turn out, Robb surmises, to be arranged along rigorous mathematical principles, and may even encode the navigational and cartographic secrets that the Druids so laboriously developed.
Robb manages his revelations with a showman’s skill, modestly conscious that his book is unfurling a map of Iron Age Europe and Britain that has been inaccessible for millennia. Every page produces new solutions to old mysteries, some of them so audacious that the reader may laugh aloud. Proposing a new location for Uxellodunum, the site of the Gauls’ final losing battle in France, is one thing; suggesting where to look for King Arthur’s court, or which lake to drag for Excalibur, is quite another. But both are here.
Amid such riches, readers of The Discovery of France – a glorious book that mixed notes from a modern cycling tour with a historical gazetteer of pre-unification France – may still be itching for the moment when the author gets back on his bike. Beautifully written though it is, The Ancient Paths can tend to dryness at times, but some of its best moments come when the author gets out into the field.
One example will suffice. Certain references in Caesar’s writing indicate that the Gauls operated a vocal telegraph, composed of strategically placed teams yodelling news overland to one another, which passed messages at a speed nearly equivalent to the first Chappe telegraph in the 18th century. To judge how this might have worked, Robb takes himself off to the oppidum above Aumance, near Clermont-Ferrand, where he reports on the car alarms and the whirr of traffic still audible across countryside four kilometres away.
He goes further. Aumance was one of around 75 places once known by the name Equoranda, a word with an unknown root that resembles the Greek and Gaulish for “sound-line” or “call-line”. All the Equoranda settlements Robb visits turn out to be on low ridges or shallow valleys, and would, he writes, “have made excellent listening posts”. Examined in this light, one word in Caesar’s account becomes fruitful: he observes that the Gauls “transmit the news by shouting across fields and regios”, a word that can be translated as “boundaries”. An ancient Persian technique for acoustic surveying, still current in the 19th-century south of France, involves three men calling to one another and plotting their position along the direction of the sound. Put the pieces together and you end up – or Robb does – with “the scattered remains of a magnificent network” that could have acted not just as a telegraph system but as a means to map the Druids’ boundaries on to the earth.
It’s a magnificent piece of historical conjecture, backed by a quizzical scholarly intellect and given a personal twist by experiment. So, for that matter, is
the whole thing. Robb describes in his introduction the secretive meetings with publishers in London and New York that kept a lid on the book’s research until publication, and watching its conclusions percolate through popular and academic history promises to be thrilling.
Reading it is already an electrifying and uncanny experience: there is something gloriously unmodern about seeing a whole new perspective on history so comprehensively birthed in a single book. If true, very important indeed.
For Britain the book is titled The Ancient Paths: Discovering the Lost Map of Celtic Europe
In the USA it is titled The Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the Lost World of the Celts
We’ve heard about guerrilla gardening and subversive knitting groups – but here comes the big one: guerrilla upholstering!
Isn’t it wonderful that people can be so generous and also have such fun at the same time? Watch this little 2 min video on the BBC site about:
Mick Sheridan, a furniture upholsterer by day, working from his studio in rural Wales. In his free time, he has an alter-ego – he’s the Guerrilla Upholsterer. If he ever sees a public seating area that he thinks could be made more comfortable, he secretly upholsters it – from bus stop benches to bird watchers’ hides.
I’ve just been reading a fabulous new ezine created for members of OBOD’s USA East Coast Gathering community. In it there is an account of Susan Jones’ workshop entitled ‘Journeyman & Hermit’. In that is a link to a film that is profoundly moving. Here’s the trailer and a comment on the film:
“Who would ever believe this Alabama hellhole would one day foster one of the most progressive rehabilitation programs in the world? Strange, but true… It’s a powerful journey… A truly inspirational piece of documentary filmmaking.” – Ken Fox, TV Guide’s Movie Guide
It is unlawful for fracking companies to drill under your home without your permission. Search your postcode and join the legal block today to protect your home and community from fracking.
Right now, the government has earmarked nearly two-thirds of England for possible fracking, without fully understanding what effects it is likely to have on our health or the countryside.
What we do know is that if we want to tackle climate change, we can’t be digging new fossil fuels out of the ground.
Find out if your home is at risk of being fracked. Look up your postcode at wrongmove.org now.
Fracking involves horizontal drilling that can extend two miles from the actual drill site, passing directly under the homes of those nearby.
Despite the government’s enthusiastic dash for gas, we have the power to make fracking very difficult, and may even be able to halt exploration in its tracks, if enough of us come together.
This is how it works: if you don’t want fracking companies pumping toxic chemicals under your home, you can say so. Then, any drilling there becomes trespassing; the frackers would be breaking the law.
All you have to do is declare that your home is ‘Not for Shale’ and you will be added to the growing legal block to stop fracking where you live.
But we need to act quickly, as there are hints that the government will try to change the law to support their dash for gas.
Look up your postcode to find out if you could be fracked and join the legal block now.
Falling autumn leaves teach us of the beauty of endings, of the bright flame of passion that doesn’t die but is reborn when life is transformed. The death of our bodies, relationships, dreams and hopes can all feel deeply sad, and rightly so, for suffering is as real as joy, and loss is painful. But hidden within the darkness of loss lies a mystery, and although that mystery will always foil our attempts to understand it with our minds, Nature will sometimes offer us a clue as if to say: There! Can you see it in the brightness of these leaves?
Modern Druid and Pagan thought encourages an engagement with all aspects of life. As we honour the cycles of the Wheel of the Year – of sun, moon and season – we learn that we must embrace both the joyful times of growth and expansion and the more challenging experiences of contraction and dissolution. In seeking to encounter both the light and the dark with an open heart – acknowledging the value of both – we can meet each phase of our life with a greater involvement and understanding. However, it remains undoubtedly true that happiness is a lot easier to welcome than crisis, and little has been written about how, as Druids and Pagans, we deal with the darker times.
Cat Treadwell’s latest book Facing the Darkness (published by Moon Books), does just this. Drawing on her own experience of depression, she guides the reader through this painful condition, exploring with touching honesty the experience and offering simple coping techniques without preaching, judgement or expectation. Facing the Darkness reads like the honest and loving guidance of a good friend who has been there and knows.
Although Cat offers techniques and processes, she understands fully that there are moments in depression when nothing works to shift the debilitating numbness that can overtake a sufferer. Acknowledging this can be healing in itself because so often we harshly judge ourselves when we are low and unable to affect a change in our outlook. Cat’s book asks that we be tenderly patience and compassionately honest with ourselves, and in doing so, come to see moments of despair as valuable a life-lesson as any other.
For reviews and more information about the book click here
We will never have any memory of dying.
We were so patient
about our being,
years and months,
hair, and the mouths we kiss,
and that moment of dying
we let pass without a note—
we leave it to others as memory,
or we leave it simply to water,
to water, to air, to time.
Nor do we even keep
the memory of being born,
although to come into being was tumultuous and new;
and now you don’t remember a single detail
and haven’t kept even a trace
of your first light.
It’s well known that we are born.
It’s well known that in the room
or in the wood
or in the shelter in the fishermen’s quarter
or in the rustling canefields
there is a quite unusual silence,
a grave and wooden moment as
a woman prepares to give birth.
It’s well known that we were all born.
But of that abrupt translation
from not being to existing, to having hands,
to seeing, to having eyes,
to eating and weeping and overflowing
and loving and loving and suffering and suffering,
of that transition, that quivering
of an electric presence, raising up
one body more, like a living cup,
and of that woman left empty,
the mother who is left there in her blood
and her lacerated fullness,
and its end and its beginning, and disorder
tumbling the pulse, the floor, the covers
till everything comes together and adds
one knot more to the thread of life,
nothing, nothing remains in your memory
of the savage sea which summoned up a wave
and plucked a shrouded apple from the tree.
The only thing you remember is your life.
- Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda: (from “Fully Empowered”, translation of “Plenos Poderes” 1962)
On Friday, Stephanie and I drove to Glastonbury to participate in the Warrior’s Call Pagan Anti-Fracking ritual that was scheduled for Saturday. I had been a little concerned because 1800 people had said they were coming and I was aware of the irony of having people using fossil fuels to get to Glastonbury to work a ritual designed to protect the Earth from pollution. However, sometimes it is necessary to make a strong statement, and perhaps to do powerful magic, and this Glastonbury initiative felt important. We combined it with a long overdue visit to OBOD’s Touchstone editor Penny Billington and its inimitable illustrator Arthur ZZ Birmingham/Billington.
How many of the 1800 people would actually turn up, especially when the forecast was for rain? Damh the Bard had spotted members in Australia clicking the ‘I’m coming!’ button on Facebook, so we knew some would be coming astrally, and in fact astral travel made up the bulk of participants. About 1500 flew on the wings of thought and intention, and only about 300 were there on the lower field of the Tor, just above Dion Fortune’s (now Geoffrey Ashe’s) house. But this was a good number – enough to give a real sense of solidarity and energy, without so many no-one would hear what was being said – which I had feared if 1800 had come. The police had been worried about numbers too, and had phoned us and appeared before the ritual began. But they were reassured and went away.
The idea for the ritual arose spontaneously some months ago and there was no one person or organization responsible for it, but the ceremony was carried out mainly by OBOD members with years of ritual experience, mainly from OBOD camps. The day turned out to be dry and mild. As each direction was honoured, elemental dragons danced the circle to cheers. The purpose of the ritual was proclaimed: to magically cast a sphere or web of protection over the Earth to protect it from fracking. Ritualists taking on the roles of Gwynn ap Nudd and Brighid walked the circle and evoked that protection and blessed water from the White and Red springs of Avalon. We tuned into the many rituals and meditations that were occurring simultaneously all over the planet. A heart appeared in the sky above the ceremony. The magical sigil designed for this work lay on the ground in the centre of the circle. Badges with the sigil had already been given to all of us by the stewards who had carefully shepherded us to the site. Drumming, chanting, clapping began as we raised a cone of power to focus the energies and intention of the ritual, while four Druids held staves pointed upwards and together to focus it in the centre of the circle.
The work completed, the spirits of the directions were thanked, the circle uncast, and participants were invited, if they wished, to gather by Gwynn ap Nudd or Brighid to take a vow to protect the Earth from fracking both magically and practically. As the ceremony took place people had been tuning in in meditation above on the Tor, at Chalice Well – and in countries in every direction.
Just as the ritual of Gardner and his coven to repel Hitler’s invasion all those years ago has gone down in history (and was successful!) So I believe this ritual will not only go down in history but it will be successful too – whether because of the magic, or for more mundane reasons, or for a combination of both, who knows? But magic is said to work at a causal level to the physical…
I predict that we will start to see other initiatives to stop the lunacy of fracking occurring within the next six weeks or so. The basic fact that it is uneconomical and that financiers are only interested in it because high-end deals in the early stages can nett people millions (through trading licences and share dealing) will become more widely known and the ‘shale bubble’ will burst (the world’s biggest fracking company posted a $6 billion loss, the CEO got $112.5 million pay-off – usual story!)
The game is to move really fast, so that like musical chairs, you don’t fall on your ass with fracking fluid on your face when the music stops. If you’re lucky you’ll have made a lot of money, unlucky and you can limp home with still the possibility of a million or so in bonuses. Who will lose? Only the people who put the money up for the projects – the banks and the UK taxpayer because Cameron offered tax breaks. A number of banks have now stated they will never invest in fracking – taking the UN warning on its environmental dangers seriously – and the shareholders at those banks who have invested, such as HSBC, will soon start asking embarrassing questions, and the funding will dry up.
Cameron risks making a fool of himself – he’s done that already by announcing that communities who accept fracking will receive a million pounds, only to be corrected by his team who had to tell us that he meant £100,000 – enough for a new pedestrian crossing to help cope with the 24/7 lorries that would thunder through the community. He’s made a fool of himself too by telling us that fracking will bring down gas prices, only to be contradicted by his own energy minister Ed Davey, and the economist Lord Stern.
All politicians take such risks, but he’s gone a step further: he has risked the darkness that lies at the heart of the UK government being exposed: the network of ‘old chums’ who will make a killing before the bubble bursts. Don’t believe me? See here, and look at Lord Browne’s role in government and the fracking industry. It’s all wonderfully symbolic – the explosions underground and the forcing out of stuff from deep down will happen at the political level not at the geological level. The current government will frack itself and discover next year that people won’t vote for them in the 2015 General Election unless they clean up their act and stand up for our countryside rather than trying to despoil it.
Meanwhile the ‘Albion Will not be Fracked’ initiative had spread like wildfire – see a world map with locations here – particularly to those communities threatened by fracking in other countries, as reports emerge of risks to livestock, as well as water supplies and air quality. There are too many groups to list here, but to give you a sense of why last weekend saw the biggest magical operation ever carried out on Earth, see this message from the House Of Danu (a fellowship of OBOD groups in California):
The House of Danu rises. We have alerted all our groups and solitaries (that we know of), and there will be rituals spanning over a thousand miles on the West Coast of the US from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. (4:00am Pacific Time) I have also alerted the Fire Tribes, practitioners of Santaria, Garnerians, Dianic Covens, Wicca, Chaos Knights, the Hermetic Orders,the Pagan Alliance, the Hellenic Orders, other Druid traditions, and received confirmation from Bloody Mary, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, that she is assembling the Southern conjurers to act.
Fracking poses great environmental threats in the US as well. From Vermont to Arizona, Wisconsin, and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, fracking has caused enormous damage to the ranches, farms, and small communities, resulting in poisoning of the air, and water: leading to unusually high rates of illness. Hundreds of law suits have been settled requiring a gag of silence on the victims: enabling the gas industry to perpetuate its course if disinformation that fracking is safe. When testing by the Environmental Protection Agency revealed the presence of toxic fracking chemicals in the drinking supply in New England towns, the director of the EPA was replaced, and the EPA then proclaimed that the water was safe to drink. This reveals that even the EPA has been corrupted by the corporate power to disseminate disinformation: undermining our ability to rule wisely. We are experiencing a slow coup in the United States where the powerful few have corrupted our government almost beyond repair.
And now, there are plans for fracking in the Los Angeles Basin over earthquake faults that have been building up pressure for over a century. It is predicted that loosening the fault with high pressure facking fluid deep underground could trigger an earthquake of 7.6 magnitude: far greater than the earthquake that destroyed San Francisco in 1906. The State legislative efforts to place a moratorium on fracking are presently blocked by the Republicans.
We were preparing a Wild Hunt to commence on the Twelfth Night, but moved up the date upon learning of this threat to Albion.
THE WILD HUNT HAS BEGUN
At the full moon in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California, on Saturday, September 21st, the Fire Tribes gathered at an off-the-grid Pagan retreat known as Earth Matters: Alchemists, Druids, Wicca, Dianic Witches, and Gardnerians: high priests all. Amid the towering redwoods in a clearing laid out as an Alchemical alter, the central fire rose. The sacred circle was cast. The Dragons were summoned in the ancient language of the Celts. All Gods and Goddesses of our people were summoned to be present.
The intention was set as our reply to the Lorica of St. Patrick:
We arise today.
Through a mighty strength.
The invocation of Earth, Fire, Air, and Water.
Through the spiral of birth, life, death, and rebirth
We arise today.
In the thoughts of our beloved,
In the wisdom of oracles.
With the skill of making,
and the deeds of living.
We arise today.
Passing through dark surrender.
Her Earth to sustain us,
Fire to transform us,
Air to enlighten us,
Water to give us life.
We arise today.
Through the image of Light
Strength of Bear,
Perseverance of Crane.
Wisdom of Salmon
Sight of Eagle,
Balance of Hare,
Direction of Boar,
Treasure of Dragons.
We now summon these powers
to confront that which takes but not gives,
dies without rising,
trusts in greed, not nature.
places self before all else.
The abyss again
threatens our people.
Summon the Carnyxn
Rise the horns on high,
Bring forth the Dragons Breath
for WE ARISE TODAY.
The Charm of making was uttered in our ancient tongue as we descended within to our temples of the 4 levels until we reach that place where the Earth takes our pain, takes our fear, takes our rage, and heals us with the power of its Light.
We ascended to our time and place and uttered the chant:
By the Warrior’s call
We arise today
It be our will to vanquish
The toxic demons all
Over and over we chanted as we danced around the fire. We chanted it in the round. We chanted it in harmony, we overlaid it with:
They think it, feel it, make the change (over and over)
When the intention was drenched in our passion, we released the Dragons to do our will in the four directions. With our ancient power words, released our powers like a lightning bolt. At that moment, the image of the Fire Dragon emerged from the fire.
Hurling toward Glastonbury Tor from the West is a great host of Gods, Goddesses, Orishas, and the Elemental powers, on the wings of the Dragons.
It shall be written that at Noon on September 28th at Glastonbury Tor, after over a thousand years, the people of Avalon arose from the mists to engage in a Wild Hunt that SHALL NOT CEASE until the Toxic Demons are vanquished.
WE ARISE TODAY
This idea that the magic will not cease is echoed in the report of a ceremony conducted at the same time by Perry Cheng, a magician of the Franz Bardon school: “Although I think the whole idea of a specific day where everyone gets together and works to stop fracking is great, I also think it’s important to remember that success of any great magnitude comes from persistence over a long period of time. I hope those who stepped in to help yesterday don’t just consider it a one time thing. Dripping water hollows rock. I will be repeating this frequently until the fracking problem really does cease.”
On the 28th September a magical working was begun – may its effects continue to protect the Earth, and…. ‘There will be no fracking in Albion’!
Out today! Mark Townsend’s latest book:
In June 2007 Rev. Mark Townsend resigned from his ministry as a priest after his decision to share his story of brokenness and failure with the hierarchy. This book is the irreverent and whimsical, yet honest and gut-wrenching, story of his struggle to hold on to a faith within a world that seemed to be against him. It is a story that brings hope to all those who feel the established Western religious path has lost sight of compassion, grace and the one who could easily have been called Friend of Failures. As the author gradually digs himself out of the consequential gutter the reader will discover that all such failures can be redeemed and may even produce glittering nuggets of gold. More importantly, the reader will begin to see that his or her own failure can also lead to real moments of magic – so long as it is not repressed but accepted. A major underlying theme of the whole diary is the notion that real magic does exist, and that the magical traditions such as Druidry can be a major blessing for those who crave for something more.
The book is endorsed by the legendary Angie Bowie who says: “Mark is a fresh breeze across the desert of conformity and usual religious voices. His provocative curiosity compares the banal, the inconsequential, the valuable, the profound and the essential that compose the planet’s banquet of religious mythology.”
Click on the image to go to the book at Amazon UK. Click here to go to an interview with Mark on Druidcast.
Here is a lovely account by Malcolm and Maurice of Wight Druids – a Grove based on the Isle of Wight - performing the opening ceremony at this year’s Bestival where they raised a 3,000 strong Awen chant with festival goers!
It’s not often the ancient world can truly be said to meet the modern, full-on, face to face. But that could certainly be claimed for a recent event on the Isle of Wight, UK by the Wight Druid Grove. Every year for the last ten years, the Isle has hosted a huge international pop festival called “Bestival”. On it’s tenth birthday this year with performers including Elton John, Snoop Dogg, Fatboy Slim and a host of other international stars, Wight Druids were invited to perform a Druid Opening Ceremony and Blessing for the event.
Wight Druids have performed the opening ceremony on a number of occasions previously, forming a circle on the ground with an audience of a few dozen at the event’s Healing Area. But this year, the Ceremony was elevated to the event’s second largest stage in the 3,000+-capacity Big Top.
Four members of the Grove were to lead the ceremony with other Grove members in support in the audience. To develop the minute-by-minute directions we were asked to produce for the stage manager’s crew, we met for a dress rehearsal the week before. With a script carefully crafted by Maurice (Druid) and Malcolm (OBOD Ovate) that was appropriate to both the occasion and our Druid beliefs, Maurice had also put together a video of our favourite Island sacred site “The Longstone” to project on to the screens either side of the stage while Malcolm had adapted some of his music for the event. And our ‘artistic director’, Eva, had put a lot of thought and work into creating the Quarter Flags our crew raised in the audience, as well as the Autumnal Altar in front of the stage. On the day, Mary-Ann might have had the toughest job, trying to create our circle with her horn-tipped staff without tripping over the vast number of cables, lights and sound equipment that littered the huge stage! The amount of planning and effort that went into our ’20 minutes of fame’ on stage at Bestival September 2013 was actually quite phenomenal.
On the day, the crowd of Bestival-goers were kept outside the Big Top as our ‘artistic director’, Eva, set up her Autumnal Altar in front of the stage. When finally unleashed, a huge tide of merry music fans swept into the arena. As Malcolm’s special intro music kicked in, the crowd were warming up as much as we were and the Big Top resounded to the chant “We want the Druids, We want the Druids”! Then, with TV/video cameras either side of the stage trained on us, Malcolm entered, stage right, to open up our rite and ceremony. Happily for us, the audience loved it, even joining in as we made our Quarter calls and affirmations.
The highlight, however, was certainly our traditional Awen chant. Led by Malcolm, a sea of voices sounded out an electrifying three waves of overwhelming chants of ‘Awen’, easily raising enough energy to power the whole Island for the weekend. Whenever we mentioned the word ‘Awen’ after that, the crowd roared, apparently hoping we’d do the chant again. As we finally prepared to process off-stage to a Celtic Jig composed and produced by Malcolm, the audience were dancing about on the floor of the Big Top like demented folk.
Backstage after Ceremony – Mary- Ann, Maurice and Eva – (insert Photo 2)
Reflecting afterwards backstage over a cold beer, courtesy of the stage manager, it somehow all seemed to have been well worth the huge effort we put into it. Potentially there are now up to 3,000 more people – and young folk, at that! – who now know what Druids do, though they probably previously would have had no idea. And if and when the Bestival footage turns up on YouTube and/or on Channel 4, as it usually does in due course, that audience will be hugely magnified.
We might be a relatively small Grove on a little pebble of an Island off the south coast of England, but we’re currently feeling quite happy (maybe even smug!) that we might have created gentle ripples that could potentially radiate around the world. And, in our own humble way, perhaps also created a simple fresh link between our revered ancestors and the next generation to walk these lands. Full-on, face to face. As newly fledged ‘celebrities’, we reserve the right to dream …
At the heart of Druidry, and every religious, magical and spiritual understanding of the world, lies the belief that the realm of Soul, Mind and Imagination is causal to the physical world. Working at this subtle, ‘invisible’ level creates changes in the visible world.
If you hold to this view, and if you would like to protect the Earth from the invasive and toxic process of fracking, you might like to join in spirit with thousands of people around the world who will be holding rituals and meditations at 12 noon GMT on Saturday 28th September 2013. On the slopes of Glastonbury Tor at this time, at least a thousand people will gather to hold such a ritual. For info see https://www.facebook.com/events/623890957631366/
Participate in whatever way you wish. No one person or group has organized this initiative – it is an example of a spontaneous collective response to a threat to Mother Earth.
A SUGGESTED MEDITATION/ RITUAL
Perform whatever ritual or activity you know that helps you connect to the level of Soul/Mind, whether that is just lighting a candle or creating sacred space through casting a circle, honouring the directions, saying a prayer – whatever it is.
Sense the Earth beneath you and then gradually extend your awareness to include the area you want to focus on – that may be your county, the British Isles, another country, or the whole Earth.
Without straining, just sense this land stretching out around you, and then think or say:
May the Spirits of the land, of the four directions, protect the Earth, our home. May there be no fracking (wherever you wish to protect ie in Albion, in Colorado, on the Earth)!
Around the world people have gathered to feel the Earth beneath them, strong and firm. Sense the presence of all those rituals and meditations around the world that are being held at this time to protect Albion and protect the entire Earth. Sense this network of light around the earth growing in strength and radiating out like sun beams across the land, connecting all those who stand at this same time with this same intention. Think or say:
There will be no fracking in ……. !
Together we gather with our ancestors to ensure: there will be no fracking in….!
We gather with the stones of destiny, with the spirits of all who are true and free, to state in every direction: there will be no fracking in ….!
Having said these statements with the firm conviction that this will come true, move from being emissive and active in your mind to relaxing and just feeling the Earth beneath you, and know in your heart and mind, with absolute certainty: This land will not be desecrated. Send out the thought with quiet and firm conviction: This land will not be subject to violation. This land will not be fracked. It will not be attacked in this way. It will be defended. They will not come. They will not come.
If it feels right, say: I swear to serve, guard and protect the earth. By the God and Goddess, by the gods and all their powers, by the sun and moon, this land shall be held safe. These islands (or the area chosen) shall be protected.
Raise your hands outwards in protection, chant three ‘Awens’ or drum if wished.
Sense again the presence of all those rituals and meditations around the world that are being held at this time to protect Albion and protect the entire Earth.
Feel this network as a shield of energy over the Earth. If you wish to use a sigil as a symbol for this, someone has created one for this time:
Stay with this sense of a shield as long as feels right and then gently let go of all thoughts and vizualisations. Touch the earth with the palms of your hands, to send your love to the Earth and to ground yourself. Say ‘So may it be’ or ‘May only good prevail’ followed by ‘This meditation/ritual is finished in the apparent world, may its effect continue to protect the Earth for all time.”
NB If you are undertaking this for a part of the Earth where there has already been fracking, such as Pennsylvania or Colorado, you may want to imagine as you say each time ‘There will be no fracking’ the rigs being dismantled, the industry leaving.
I know I have put up rather a lot of posts on the fracking threat in the UK recently, and I don’t want this subject to dominate the blog. I’m also aware of the many threats we are living through at the moment, including the awful events in Syria, and in the Arctic a few days ago, but I have focused on fracking for three reasons: (1) The more you look at the story the more you realize what an assault it represents on the Earth and on the landscape that we love. (2) Psychology and the weirdness of human behaviour interests me, and the more you look at the story of fracking, the more bizarre it becomes: it doesn’t make sense at any level from the environmental through to the economic: it is a story of corruption, misinformation and callous greed on a monumental scale. (3) I know there have been decisions taken by the UK government where no amount of protest made an iota of difference – just think of the Iraq war protests – but there have been spectacular successes: think of the Poll Tax, GM control, the attempt to sell off the public woodlands; and I believe that common sense really can prevail on this one. If I was a betting man I would put money on the collapse of the fracking project in the UK during the next two years. It may not die immediately – it may be a protracted death, but I predict its collapse during 2014/5.
Naively optimistic? Take a look at this 4 min film of what has just happened in Colorado. Do you really think we will accept this in Britain? Take 4 mins to watch this. But of course we don’t have to worry do we, because we never have flooding here!
If you are not concerned after watching this you must be mad! Oh, but wait a minute – many politicians in the UK are not concerned – apparently. But remember ‘No snowflake ever thinks it started the avalanche’ – you may think your voice or actions won’t count, but collectively they do. Next year is the run-up to the next UK General Election. If we all tell our MPs next year that we won’t vote for them if they don’t stand up against fracking that should make a difference. I have inside information on how MPs work – they look at their in-trays. The stacks of letters/emails/surgery appointments that are the highest get the most attention. I’m going to see my MP and I’ll just say ‘Have you got four minutes?’ And then play him this movie on my iphone and say ‘You want this?’
Here in Lewes a group of concerned citizens have organised a public debate on the topic on 6th October, a screening of Gasland II with a discussion with the director afterwards on 22 October, and a group of us have produced a quick-to-read fact sheet that addresses the Myths that people believe about fracking – just two lines per myth to bust them. We’ve also produced a page of supportive explanation for those who want to know more, or who don’t believe what we’ve said and want to check sources. SEE IT HERE. Please feel free to distribute this, make leaflets out of it, whatever you like.
On 28 September there will be a worldwide ritual to protect Albion, and Mother Earth, from fracking. If you’re a materialist you might say ‘Flakey hippies thinking that meditation and magic can make a difference!’ If you’re an idealist (see yesterday’s post on The Sacred History) you’ll say: ‘Aha! They are working on a level that is causal to the physical – how sensible!’
By the way, neither I nor OBOD is organising this worldwide ritual. We have had phone calls and an email from the police asking us if we are.
I’ve started a blog to encourage the collapse of the UK fracking industry – and to give space for me to rant without worrying about whether I’m boring you with too much on this subject! Happy Equinox!