Archive for April, 2011

 

The Triple A Doctrines of Jainism: Their Value to Druidry & The Wider World

Friday, April 29th, 2011

In the ‘About’ section of this blog, I explain its rationale: “I spend much of my days writing ‘serious’ material that must fit into particular structures: books, articles, and workshop programmes. So to balance this, I am using this blog as a play-space: a place to relax and have fun – to share some of the strange, sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious material that comes my way. And it’s also a place to share ideas…”

There have been plenty of ‘fun’ pieces in here recently, so now let me share a more serious piece with you. It’s written in rather a dry style perhaps, but I’m trying to focus on specific ideas that I have found of tremendous value. This won’t be to everyone’s taste in this fast-moving internet world, but here it is:

The most famous festival in Jainism occurs every 12 years in the town of Shravanabelagola in Karnataka. The 10th century statue of Bahubali, Lord Gommateshvara, is annointed with water, milk and turmeric amidst great celebration.

The Triple A Doctrines of Jainism:

 Their Value to Druidry & The Wider World

‘aparigraha parmo dharm’.

 (Non-Possessiveness is the supreme duty or highest religion.)

Acharya Mahapragya

At the heart of Jainism lies a trio of related doctrines known as Ahimsa, Aparigraha and Anekant, which – although of great antiquity – have much to offer to our contemporary world, and to the followers of other faiths or none. Since I help to lead a Druid group whose concerns are very much focused on the contemporary challenges we face, I am particularly interested in the way these doctrines can be shared within Druidry, which over the last century has expressed a generous eclecticism and universalism.

Jainism, with its extreme reverence for all life-forms, is today seen as a religion that can champion ecological issues. From its beginnings it has welcomed women into the ascetic community, and it sustains one of the most cultured communities in India. It is responsible for the oldest libraries in the country, a highly developed system of logic and metaphysics that includes the most detailed doctrine of karma, finely carved temples, the earliest representations of mandalas and yantras in India, and a set of doctrines which, although ancient, speak powerfully to present-day concerns.

In addition to the value of exploring the differences between Druidry and Jainism,  which by their very contrast can help to clarify one’s own views, I am convinced that a study of Jainism has much to offer the Druid – and in particular, the trio of doctrines mentioned at the beginning of this essay, of Ahimsa, Aparigraha and Anekant.

Ahimsa is the Doctrine of Harmlessness or Non-Violence, made famous by Gandhi, and espoused by the other Dharmic traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism, but arguably first developed amongst the Jains. Whether or not this is historically true, it is undoubtedly the case that in Jainism, the application of ahimsa is more radical than in any other religion. Aparigraha is the Doctrine of Non-Attachment or Non-Possessiveness or Non-Acquisition, which is also found in the other Dharmic traditions, and applied rigorously within the Jain ascetic community. Anekant is the Doctrine of Many-sidedness or of Multiple Viewpoints (also known as the Doctrine of Relative Pluralism, Non-Absolutism, or Non One-sidedness), that is unique to Jainism, and constitutes, in some scholars’ eyes one of the religion’s most significant contributions to humanity.

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God Knows How I Adore Life

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Isn’t this song by Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man beautiful! Here are the lyrics:

God knows how I adore life
When the wind turns on the shores lies another day
I cannot ask for more

When the time bell blows my heart
And I have scored a better day
Well nobody made this war of mine

And the moments that I enjoy
A place of love and mystery
I’ll be there anytime

Oh mysteries of love
Where war is no more
I’ll be there anytime

When the time bell blows my heart
And I have scored a better day
Well nobody made this war of mine

And the moments that I enjoy
A place of love and mystery
I’ll be there anytime

Mysteries of love
Where war is no more
I’ll be there anytime

[Written by Beth Gibbons, Performed by B.Gibbons and Rustin Man]

I Have Found My Tantric Guru

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

The season of Beltane is upon us – that wonderful time of celebration of fertility and the life-force. Anyone who has been a spiritual seeker for some time will have stumbled across the use of sacred sexuality to gain enlightenment, but the difficulty has always been to separate the wheat from the chaff – to find a truly wise and enlightened teacher who will not lead one into the snares of craving, but instead into realms of illumination and bliss. I am delighted to announce that I have at last found such a teacher, and I have only paused for a moment to write this post, before I set off for his advanced workshop in New Mexico.

Rizzle Kicks Does it Again

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

The other week I mentioned how our household had been turned upside down until 3 in the morning to accommodate the creation of a pop video. Now it’s up on Youtube and I have to say I like the lighting effects – all done while filming with long exposures and whirling lights around – the same way you whizz sparklers about to get brief images of shapes… Sit back, turn up the volume (or down if you’re an old fogey like me) and enjoy!

Is Nothing Sacred?

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Once there was Rent-a-Wreck (at least in  New Zealand when I was trying to rent a car a few years back) now there is Rent-a-Priest, or rather Rent-a-Rev. Is nothing sacred? Or perhaps everything is…which is why rent-a-rev is actually the ‘fun’ shop window for the indomitable Mark Townsend – a talented mentalist magician, Druid, and Christian Priest who – tired of the limitations of the Church of England – has started his own ‘Hedge Church’. Is this the last straw or the beginning of a new way of ‘doing’ priesthood? You decide by having a look at Rent-a-Rev here!

Re-Boot Your Husband

Monday, April 25th, 2011

This little gem doing the rounds popped into my mailbox sent to me since I have been running on Husband for many years now (you can guess who sent it!). I had no idea the system suffered from these problems…
Dear Tech Support,
Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend to Husband and noticed a distinct slowdown in overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewellery applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend.
In addition, Husband uninstalled many other valuable programmes, such as Romance and Personal Attention and then installed undesirable programs such as Rugby, Football, Sailing and Continuous TV. Conversation no longer runs, and Housecleaning simply crashes the system. I’ve tried running Nagging to fix these problems, but to no avail.
What can I do?
Signed, Desperate
………………………………………………………………………………………
Dear Desperate,
First keep in mind, Boyfriend is an Entertainment Package, while Husband is an Operating System. Please enter the command: ‘http: I Thought You Loved Me.html’ and try to download Tears.
Don’t forget to install the Guilt update. If that application works as designed, Husband should then automatically run the applications Jewellery and Flowers, but remember – overuse of the above application can cause Husband to default to Grumpy Silence, Garden Shed or Beer. Beer is a very bad program that will download the Snoring Loudly Beta.
Whatever you do, DO NOT install Mother-in-law (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources). Also, do not attempt to reinstall the Boyfriend program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband.
In summary, Husband is a great system, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. It also tends to work better running one task at a time. You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend Food and Hot Lingerie.
Good Luck,
Tech Support

Lapse of Memory

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Alexander Gabriel of the wonderful Zefiro publishing house in Sintra Portugal has drawn my attention to this video in HD format. The soundtrack features ‘crotals’ – Bronze Age rattles found in Ireland – and the shots of the Pictish carved stones are fantastic. If you’re lucky enough to have a big screen watch it in that to enjoy the detail!

Tony Partington who created the film writes: “Lapse of Memory” aims to give a new visual perspective on some of the prehistoric sites of Northern Britain. The film combines the photographic techniques of high dynamic range imaging and time-lapse in a panoramic format, and is made up of over 70,000 individual photographs.

The Ultra Deep Field

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Do you have a feeling deep inside that there really are civilizations out there in the universe on other planets? Have a look at these movies (the first for context and inspiration, the second goes into the detail about the first steps we are taking to find life ‘out there’ ). This isn’t flakey stuff – it’s science-based and very inspiring. My sense that there truly are other civilizations out there in the stars has been reinforced by watching these.

Ley Walk dedicated to the memory of John Michell

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Here’s something to do this Saturday in London:

Ley Walk dedicated to the memory of John Michell
St George’s Day, Sat. 23 April, 11.30 AM prompt
meet outside St Martin-in-the-Field Church, Trafalgar Square, London
£5 – all profits to the John Michell Society

Caroline Wise will lead participants in a walk along the Strand Ley, taking in nearby sites that are part of the fabric of the mythic history of London. The group will give a nod to the guardians, gods and goddesses along the way, learning much about their role in sacred and legendary London. There will be a stop for refreshments in the St Paul’s crypt cafe. Sensible shoes, bottle of water, notepad and pen, and umbrella may be a good idea. For further details contact carolinewise@btinternet.com

The Strand Ley is a classic, unmodified Alfred Watkins ley, an alignment joining St Martin-in-the-Fields;
St Mary-le-Strand; St Clement Danes; St Dunstan’s, Fleet St; and Arnold Circus (site of The Mount).
See information at www.leyhunter.com/archives/tlh2.htm

Caroline Wise first met John Michell in the late seventies, when she was associated with The Ley Hunter magazine, their annual moots, and the Dragon Project. She has steeped herself in the mythic history of London for thirty years and contributed to John Matthews’ The Aquarian Guide to Legendary London (1990). Caroline has organized many events on living earth mysteries, paganism, and folklore, including the Wildwood Conferences.

The Liberty of the Clink – A Summer Day to Remember

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

On the 3rd July 2011, The Order of Bards Ovates & Druids – in conjunction with The John Michell Network – will be holding the first event in what will become an annual celebration of the work and life of the influential author John Michell. John loved London and to honour the passion he had for his home city, we thought it apt that the first of these events should centre on one of the hidden sacred sites in the London landscape.
The aim of these events will be to not only celebrate the legacy of an extraordinary man but also to recognise that sacred places can be found in the most unlikely of locations; that any landscape can be enchanted and enchanting, even in the heart of a modern city. With this in mind, it is deeply appropriate that the first event should focus on the Crossbones Graveyard.
South of the River Thames – in the area where London Bridge spans the river at the place known as Bankside and the Borough – resides one of London’s most moving tributes to the Ancestors. In medieval times, this area was outside the old City of London’s boundaries and laws. As you crossed the river in to what was known as the ‘Liberty of the Clink’ you entered the underbelly of city life; here were prisons, drinking houses, gambling and prostitution, bear-baiting and all manner of shady pursuits. In this chaotic, colourful and brutal environment, where living was experienced at its most visceral, the British theatre was born.
‘The Liberty’ came under the ruling of the Bishop of Winchester, the ruins of his palace still visible near Southwark Cathedral. The prostitutes of the Liberty, known as ‘Winchester Geese’, were under the Bishop’s licence for 500 years, but in an act of supreme hypocrisy they were denied burial in consecrated ground. The Crossbones Graveyard was where these unfortunate women ended their lives. In its latter years it became a pauper’s burial site, a place of forgotten souls whose lives had often been brutal and short and whose stories had been ignored.
This might have continued to be so but for a twist of fate. During improvements to the Jubilee Line, London Transport dug upon the wasteland that had once – unknown to most – been the graveyard. Their digging immediately unearthed skulls and bones, resulting in a halt of work, enabling Museum of London archaeologists to investigate further.
At around the same time, the playwright, poet and performer John Constable was making his own surprising discoveries with regard to the Crossbones site. Without knowing of its existence, he was drawn one night to this desolate piece of industrial ground by a poetic ‘voice’ in his head. This poem came in an inspired rush. It soon became apparent that the voice of the poem was that of a Winchester Goose, the ‘spirit’ of a Liberty prostitute who had been laid to rest at ‘Crossbones’. It was as if London Transport’s digging had unearthed not merely the bones of the dead but their unheard voices too.
Constable’s research led him to discover that the Crossbones cemetery had indeed existed and was not merely something his imagination had conjured that first night that ‘The Goose’ had introduced herself. Those earlier poems went on to become part of a larger work of modern mystery plays known as the Southwark Mysteries and since then John has become a champion of those ‘despised and rejected’ souls.
John and the Friends of Crossbones hold monthly ceremonies at the gates of this ‘hidden’ ancient graveyard. The gates themselves have become a shrine covered in ribbons, flowers and tokens. As the identities of those interred here have gradually been rediscovered, John ties ribbons with names written upon them; the gates festooned, transforming this rather bleak place into something beautiful. This act of remembrance is incredibly powerful and moving. John understands Crossbones to be a ‘wound of history’ and that the work that he and others are doing at the site is a way of healing that wound, of acknowledging those, who in their lives and deaths, had been treated with such disdain and indifference. He believes that this work of naming and acknowledging the lost and forgotten not only brings peace and healing to those long dead but has a transformative impact on us too.
John’s approach is very near and dear to that of modern Druids. As Druids we understand the importance of honouring the ancestors. We sense that they are the foundation of our being; their days, lived and shed, are the countless layers of fertile psychic soil that we root ourselves within. In Druidry, we aim to respectfully draw from their wisdom and guidance. In remembering those who have gone before, we acknowledge that all existence counts; that each voice, no matter how lowly, has something valuable to add to the ever deepening and unfolding story of life. The Ancestors can enable us to remember who we truly are and, in caring for them, we also begin to learn to care for our descendants. In acknowledging the forgotten ones, we tie the thread of life – the past, present and future – into a circle, a symbol of death and rebirth that makes us one with each other and all creation.
John Constable and the Friends of Crossbones dedication and care illustrates that when we acknowledge the story of those forgotten lives – the struggles, the degradation and the poverty; the heroism and vision of ordinary people who had the odds unfairly stacked against them – we are also acknowledging our common humanity. It teaches us how to treat each other in the here and now – with kindness, respect and care.
Please join us on Sunday 3rd July 2011 at the George Inn – 1.45pm for a 2pm start -77 Borough High Street, London, SE1, the National Trust’s beautiful and historic medieval coaching inn (mentioned in both Dickens and Shakespeare!). There you will hear John Constable – himself a good friend of John Michell – talk about his work with the Crossbones Graveyard, its history and its future. He will also be performing some extacts from his play The Southwark Mysteries. Later in the afternoon, we will join him at the Crossbones site, where he will lead us in a ceremony to honour the Ancestors. The event will finish at 5pm, but the George is open until 11pm!
Tickets for the event cost £15 (£10 concessions) and you can book by clicking here. Spaces are limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment!