Archive for August, 2011

 

Spirit of Albion – The Movie!

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Damh the Bard has just sent over the link to the first trailer for the movie featuring his songs. Can’t wait to see the whole film!

In Boudicca’s Footsteps…

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

From the BBC website:

A suspected Iron Age road, made of timber and preserved in peat for 2,000 years, has been uncovered by archaeologists in East Anglia.

The site, excavated in June, may have been part of a route across the River Waveney and surrounding wetland at Geldeston in Norfolk, say experts.

Causeways were first found in the area in 2006, during flood defence work at the nearby Suffolk town of Beccles.

It is thought the road is pre-Roman, built by the local Iceni tribe.

Exact dating has yet to be carried out but tree-ring evidence suggests a date of 75BC.

That dates the timber road to more than 100 years before the Roman invasion, which saw the Iceni and their leader Boudicca lead a revolt which threatened to end Roman rule.  Read more…

Snowflakes Touching Souls

Friday, August 19th, 2011

New Zealand is experiencing extreme weather at the moment and as snow has fallen in downtown Wellington for the first time in years – for many people this will be a once-in-a-lifetime event. Here’s a film of residents experiencing this. By using slow motion and the right music this film captures the way in which Nature can touch our souls with awe:

Moon Books

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Trevor Greenfield from O-Books, who have published some wonderful and thought provoking titles by Emma Restall Orr, Mark Townsend and Brendan Myers, amongst others, had spoken to me last year about setting up a specialist Pagan imprint called Moon Books. I am very pleased to announce that Moon Books is now up and running! Here Trevor writes a little about Moon Books aims:

 Moon Books is a new specialist Pagan imprint from O-Books (John Hunt Publishing). Our aim is to become a focal point for contemporary Pagan writing; the place people go to access Pagan writing and the place Pagans go to publish.

Moon Books invites you to begin or deepen your encounter with Paganism, in all its rich, creative, historic and contemporary forms. Feminine in some traditions, masculine in others, the Moon has been significant to Pagans for millennia. Taking the Moon as our symbol, we participate in the literary Pagan tradition by publishing books in Pagan religion and spirituality that are contemporary, accessible and creative. All expressions and traditions are equally valued and included; Druid, Heathen, Wiccan, Witchcraft and others.

Moon Books are available in all good English language bookstores worldwide and all major online retail sites. To find out more join our Facebook group at www.facebook.com/MoonBooks and keep up to date with new developments and publications. To enquire about our submission process contact trevor.greenfield@o-books.net

Trevor Greenfield

 

The Life Cairn Memorial

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Here is a touching guest piece by Andreas Kornevall about The Life Cairn Memorial on Mount Caburn near Lewes:

There we stood as scarecrows do – still – facing the new sunrise with wet mist wafting like smoke through the air.

We gathered by a pile of stones, but not any pile.  We gathered at the feet of the first memorial for the Earth. A place to grieve for all that is broken and lost in the wild.  And laying our stones, we recognised our own rare songbird in our chests – our naturally wild soul – unheard through the every day industrial drone.

How can we speak of interconnectedness but stay silent to the plight of the jaguar, the golden eagle and the grey whale?

For those who read books and praise poetry, how can you be silent for the plight of the bear, the wolf and the deer?  They all gave us the ability to read as their tracks were humanity’s first alphabet which we learnt long ago.  There would be no holy bible, no sutra, no Darwin, without the bear, the wolf, and the deer writing their own poetic verse by leaving their tracks for us to read across the land.  Then we learnt to write by adding those symbols to our cave walls.

There is no founder, there is no leader to the Life Cairn memorial.  But it sprang from the tear of the shaman who lost his wild home, and for the thousands of species who we have forever lost to extinctions at our own hands.

We are in indebted, deeply indebted.  We have taken too much – today’s spiritual and political leaders have few tools to address this debt today, they were all silent when the gunshot ran out and took the last Pyrennean Brown Bear – all of them were silent; no song, no wreath, was laid as a mark of respect.

Through that a new ceremony will come forth and reveal a new culture.  It’s growing; we can feel it when seeing the stones on the Life Cairn.  A culture when we will again include the whole family of the world’s great house and welcome them as equals by giving the animals back their souls, respect, sentience and their consciousness, which we have denied them for far too long.  We must protect their homes and their place to roam free. By doing that, the wilderness too has a place in our vision for the future, as Thoreau made clear: “in wilderness lies the preservation of the world”.

Where were we when the last Pyrennean Female endemic Brown Bear was shot down (in 2003)? Why was her dying place empty with no wreaths, no flowers, no poems, no songs, no church bells?  She wanted to protect her young, and live and thrive on this Earth, just like us, now her hibernation caves are hollow and bare.

Where were we when the ‘Goddess of the River’ – the Yangtze dolphin vanished in China in 2006, never again to give birth to her young?  Only empty radio static was heard; but there was no grief from humanity, no songs which to dedicate, no-one paid tribute – after millions of years of life?

Why?

Where were the great teachers, the spiritual leaders, the writers, the visionaries, the artists?  Not even a moment’s silence?  Why have we not been able to grieve collectively to the ending of their birth?

This is a challenge in effect rather than a question, but it raises serious concern about our spiritual capacities and how few tools we have to deal with the above.

May our tears turn to pearls when every step up Mount Caburn and every stone laid is for you, the Earth, and its lost family.

Protecting Our Woodland

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Produced, written and directed by Sara Proudfoot Clinch – this short film endorsed by the Woodland Trust highlights  the importance of trees, and the threats that still exist to our public forests and our dwindling ancient woodlands – featuring interviews with woodland artist Bleau-Shanay Hudson, head of PR at the Woodland Trust Paul Hetherington, druid Philip Carr-Gomm and Britain’s favourite TV Vicar Peter Owen Jones and Jakub Kaminski. In response to public outrage at the proposals in Jan 2011 to sell off our public forests, the government has set up an Independent Forestry Panel to decide between 2011 – 2015 what is going to happen to the remaining 33% of our public forests – however this panel still has a remit to sell 15% – so we are not out of the woods yet! If you do not want to lose any more of our public forests then keep checking the Woodland Trust website for the next opportunity to air your views to the government. You can also ‘Become a Wood Watcher’ or support the ‘Save Our Ancient Woodlands Campaign’ – all of which can be found on www.woodlandtrust.org.uk.

Subversive Knitting

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

Don’t know about it? See today’s Guardian article:

Life less ordinary: eccentric activities
Crochet graffiti, risqué cake-making, guerilla gardening, gin-themed meals, singing sculptures … esoteric activities have never been so popular.

Healing Sleep

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Today I’ll tell you the last story behind the recordings in Sacred Nature Meditations. Over the last few days I’ve mentioned three tracks: Drawing from the Well, Clothed with Flowers, and The Healing Island of Moy Mell. The final track to mention is Healing Sleep.

Audio recordings are ideally suited to working with sleep problems, and Healing Sleep is designed to help anyone who has difficulty in getting to sleep. Unlike Drawing from the Well which brings you out of the sleep state after twenty minutes, this track has been created to lead you into deep sleep and to let you stay there for as long as your body needs.

The recording begins with invoking the ‘sleep strain’ of the harp, and then we hear the voice of the Scottish actor Scott Reid reciting a Highland lullaby from Alexander Carmichael’s Carmina Gadelica.

Scott Reid

Scott Reid is currently training in acting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RSAMD). Scott has performed in numerous productions including: Uncle Vanya (Uncle Vanya) Jake (Lie of the Mind) Dorian Gray (The Picture of Dorian Gray), and Orestes (The Golden Mask of Agamemnon). Scott will be playing Romeo in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ at RCS in February, and has recently appeared in two short films: Ties (University of Stirling) and Take A Drink (Renfrewshire Council). Scott has also recorded voice work for Know The Score and the ‘Biennale Festival’ in Venice (Marinella Senatore).’

As the lullaby continues, the music of the harp gives way to the haunting singing of composer and musician Helen Glavin, whose voice weaves its way through the words of the lullaby.

Damh the Bard

If you haven’t yet fallen asleep, you now hear my voice returning after the lullaby to lead you through a relaxation sequence which gradually drops away in volume leaving you supported on a ‘bed’ of music created by Damh the Bard. For this Damh has chanted the Awen, looped it through ‘convolution reverb’ and added brass, string and further voice sounds to create a beautiful composition that – like a cloud gradually coming to rest on a hillside –leads you to a point where you can let your body sleep for as long as it needs. Just remember to adjust your equipment so that when the track comes to an end, it doesn’t move on to playing the first of that nice collection of Brass Band hits great Aunt Maude gave you!

You can hear an excerpt from Healing Sleep in this sampler recording, which plays excerpts from all four tracks:

If you’d like to download the album, you can find it on i-tunes, CD Baby and Amazon UK

 

Drawing from the Well

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Today I’ll tell you the story behind another track in the Sacred Nature Meditations: Drawing from the Well.

This meditation is designed to combine the benefits of meditation and sleep, as found – for example – in the Eastern practice of Yogra Nidra (or ‘Yogic Sleep’). It helps to guide anyone who wants a power nap, so that they don’t fall into the trap of actually falling into a long doze when they were just planning to take a quick snooze. Research into catnaps or powernaps, as they are now called, shows that they really do help. A number of books focus on the benefits of this practice. The one with the silliest title is Sleep Your Way to the Top: The Power of Napping by Brett Jarvis.

Two difficulties, though, can arise with napping: one is that it can be hard to actually get to sleep, and the other is that once asleep, if you enter the deeper stages, you can wake up feeling groggy and actually more tired than before you dozed off. Your body thinks you have gone to bed and wants a decent night’s sleep, or at least wants to complete a full cycle which takes between 90 and 110 minutes. This is why napping for an hour, for example, can be disorienting and require large amounts of caffeine afterwards. The trick is to sleep just through the first two of the five stages of sleep. During these first two, your brain produces theta waves. If you go into stage three you go into deep sleep, with delta waves emerging. To avoid stage three you need to wake up before sleeping for longer than twenty minutes or so.

In Drawing From the Well, we haven’t used any music or soundtrack apart from some ocean wave sounds early on as you settle down, and then my voice which uses a tried and tested relaxation technique to lead you into a powernap that doesn’t last longer than twenty minutes. As you are guided back into wakefulness a dawn chorus of birds hopefully leaves you feeling chirpy and well rested.

In this way we believe we have addressed the two challenges that face someone wanting to catnap: the audio helps you relax and leads you into sleep quickly, but it also makes sure you don’t stay asleep too long. And the whole track has been engineered with the Golden Mean as mentioned in yesterday’s post.

You can hear an excerpt from Drawing From the Well in this sampler recording, which plays excerpts from all four tracks:

If you’d like to download the album, you can find it on i-tunes, CD Baby and Amazon UK

The village of Trellech, between Monmouth and Chepstow in south Wales, is home to standing stones, a tump, and St.Anne' well. Photographer Roy Parkhouse writes: 'The Virtuous Well, also known as St Anne's Well, is still a place of pilgrimage; visitors to the well have suspended small strips of cloth in the hedgerow behind the well. When this photograph was taken, there was a person sitting inside on the left, meditating. The clear water emerges from the central opening in the back wall and floods the space in front. Just visible, the other, rectangular, niches appear to be places to leave votive offerings.'

 

Clothed with Flowers

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Today let me tell you the story behind another track in the Sacred Nature Meditations: Clothed with Flowers.

In this track I introduce the listener to “the healing world of the Ovates and Druids, of those sages of forest and heath, garden and healing well, that exist, and have always existed at the edges of this world – at those times of twilight, of dusk and dawn, when the powers of the Otherworld are strongest…”

Then our daughter Sophia recites a remarkable prayer to the Goddess found in a twelfth  century Herbal that begins: “Earth, divine goddess, Mother Nature, who dost generate all things and bringest forth ever anew the sun…” The British Library reference for any keen researchers who want to hunt this down is BMs.MS.Harley, 1585 ff12v-13r.

Sophia Carr-Gomm

Sophia has been working with voice, drama and dance ever since she first performed in operas directed by Peter Hall and Graham Vick over ten years ago. She is a member of the National Youth Theatre, and has trained at the Glyndebourne Youth Opera Group, Laban’s Centre for Advanced Training, and at LAMDA on the Acting Foundation course. She is currently training on the BA Acting course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formally known as RSAMD). She has played many roles including: Lavinia ‘Mourning Becomes Electra’(RCS), Natasha ‘Three Sisters’ (RCS), Parastoo ‘Stars Over Kabul’ (NYT), Irina ‘Three Sisters’ (LAMDA), Beth ‘A Lie of The Mind’ (LAMDA), Feste ‘Twelfth Night’ (LAMDA). She is currently working on ‘Orpheus & Eurydice’ at The Old Vic Tunnels (NYT) and will be playing the Nurse in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ at RCS in February. She loves radio and voice-over work and has recorded for the ‘Biennale Festival’ in Venice (Marinella Senatore).

From the start of the track we are drawn into the healing world of the Druids with a soundtrack specially created for this meditation by Charlie Roscoe, who also created music for the Wild Wisdom series of meditations, released last year.

Charlie writes: “When Philip contacted me and asked if I would be interested in composing for the Golden Mean healing CD project, I immediately felt a resonance with the idea and wanted to offer something.

I asked for guidance on what to create, and some wonderful words came through, which in essence pointed to the ‘perfecting quality of Nature, and its movement towards Wholeness’ – an explanation of the essence of the Golden Mean, or Divine Proportion.

I wanted to create a piece that could hold this feeling without becoming too ‘heady’ about it, not getting caught up in too much

Charlie Roscoe

mathematical theory. It felt right to simply connect with Nature and translate or relay that feeling, that movement towards wholeness, into music and sound, but at the same time to authentically include a Golden Mean ratio in the composition. What unfolded quite easily and simply was to work with a simple scale created from the Fibonacci sequence that is found in the Golden Mean, so the piano is playing from this scale constantly throughout the piece.

The instruments used are a set of Grand symphonic  windchimes, flutes, piano, and location recordings out in Nature that I made myself, in meditation, in Cornwall. That was the root of the recording process: I began playing the instruments to these recordings, letting the music unfold from the peace and energy of Nature that they conveyed.

I was offered the perfect place to do this: right in the heart of the Glastonbury Zodiac, at School farm, a spiritual centre that sits in the ‘beak of the dove’ – a wonderful place to record and find inspiration! During the recording white doves were frequently flying in and around the cottage I was working in – pure magic!

My favourite description of the Golden Mean is that it represents the place that lives comfortably between two extremes: courage for example, lives between recklessness and cowardice. May we all find that balance in our lives!!”

As Charlie’s multi-layered soundtrack unfolds, Sophia’s voice returns – this time invoking the healing powers of certain key plants, trees and herbs used by Druids – drawing from the lore found in The Druid Plant Oracle.

The idea that invoking a plant’s power can be healing, even though it is not physically present, has been explored and developed in great depth recently in the Plant Spirit Medicine movement, pioneered by Eliot Cowan, author of Plant Spirit Medicine.

The music continues, engineered by Damh the Bard using the Golden Mean ratio in the way the sound is processed, guided by the advice of a friend Emeritus Professor Peter Mobbs, who chaired the Department of Physiology at UCL for many years. In addition to this treatment, Charlie has used ‘convolution reverbs’ in his composition, which treat sound with algorithms derived from recording the acoustic characteristics of natural locations.

Sophia’s invocations are repeated at an almost subliminal level further along the track, until – hopefully rested, energized and refreshed – the listener is brought gently out of the meditation.

You can hear an excerpt from Clothed with Flowers in this sampler recording, which plays excerpts from all four tracks:

If you’d like to download the album, you can find it on i-tunes, CD Baby and Amazon UK