Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | May 19, 2009

The Animals of Northern Bavaria

On the road…
One of the great pleasures of traveling and staying in other peoples’ houses, as opposed to hotels, lies in being able to explore their libraries and music collections. In Munich I stayed with Daniela and Geoffrey who have a small record label: ‘Singing Frog’.  In one of those lovely 6 degrees of separation experiences whereby you find you both know the same person, it turned out that we both knew the musician and sound engineer David Antony Clark, who lives in Muri Road, Pukerua Bay, New Zealand, and whose work appears on the Singing Frog label. We listened to his CD ‘Sex, Magic and War’. The CD was decorated with rock art and there was very little sex and war in the lyrics, but plenty of magic in the music!
And now I’m in Franconia (northern Bavaria), in beautiful rolling countryside with meadows filled with wild flowers and forests all around. And here I’ve discovered an inspiring book: Alastair McIntosh’s ‘Soil and Soul – People versus Corporate Power’.
Here he addresses one of the key issues of our times: how not to fall into despair and feel helpless in face of the environmental problems we face. Drawing on his experience of the Isle of Eigg in Scotland, which succeeded in ousting its laird, and stopping the creation of a super-quarry, Mcintosh weaves spiritual ideas, history, politics, poetry and economics into a book that helps us revision our role in the world. One reviewer says ‘One brilliant paragraph after another…This is the Hitchhiker’s guide to spirituality.’ What more could a reader (or writer!) want?

I’m here for a three day workshop in which we are exploring the bare bones of Druidry by working with the sacred animals of Celtic tradition and through mask-making and carrying out a Druid sweathouse ceremony.
Reinhard and Malou are members of the Order from way back and when I met them at the Order’s summercamp last year I felt an immediate connection. Their great love is theatre and art, and their home here is filled with fascinating books and over 400 musical instruments. In the basement they have created their own underground theatre, and they have a workshop specially designed for mask-making.
We have combined meditation journeys with singing, sharing, the old stories, poetry, a visit to an old healing well, and then last night until 10 o’clock mask-making. This morning we made an inner journey to the sweathouse while Malou played the harp, and then we gave birth to our masks, which had dried overnight.
As each mask was eased off its rock and clay base Reinhard played a Balinese bell-rattle as everyone whooped and shouted. Some births were easy, others were long and protracted and involved the use of a scalpel. Forceps were not required though! And now everyone relaxes in the sun as lunch is prepared… I might have some photos to show soon…


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