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" A good traveller has no fixed plans,

and is not intent on arriving "

Lao Tzu

England’s Mountains Green

February 20th, 2017

We live and work in Lewes – a historic town which is inside a National Park. Local vicar and virtually-a-druid-in-all-but-name, Peter Owen-Jones, has made a documentary about this park that is airing tomorrow at 9pm on BBC4 television. It looks like it’s going to be fabulous. The Radio Times says: “There are so many fantastic facts, it’s almost overwhelming. But the sight of the beautiful, rare adonis blue butterflies and bee orchids on the chalk grasslands will lift the heart.”

wan(ing, wax)ing – Art as Sacred Space

February 17th, 2017

‘wan(ing,wax)ing’ by Chaney Trotter

Many thanks to gifted artist and OBOD member Chaney Trotter for this fabulous guest post. Here Chaney writes about her stunning piece ‘wan(ing, wax)ing’. Chaney’s beautiful work can be found here on her website. 

In June of 2016, under the light of the waxing Full Moon and just days before Alban Hefin, I completed my first installation that was greatly inspired by the guidance of the OBOD studies. I had made several site-specific works before, but this was the largest to date, and one that I felt made the strongest connection to my ideas as a direct result of finally diving into a Druid state of mind. After two months of planning, harvesting, building, and transporting the pieces to a remote campsite in upstate New York, I finally saw wan(ing, wax)ing come alive just as the moon came to spread its own illuminating force onto the bright lunar molds mounted central to the shrine. I wanted the piece to be invitingly powerful in the presence of a human, yet humbly venerating of its sister in the sky as each night fell. The temple, with its driftwood arms meant to resemble a ribcage opening up in a breath, lived for several nights under silver light as the Summer Solstice quickly approached.     

My desire with wan(ing, wax)ing was to create a space where one could reflect on the symbolism of shifting Natural forces and how loss, darkness, and death are just as important to the soul as gains, lightness and new life. The Moon’s association with cyclical change was a perfect theme to this piece, as each of its phases hold an intimate lesson about the ephemeral nature of all states of being. Ideologies and philosophies come and go, bodies are brought into this world and then returned to the Earth, shifting plates become mountains which erode back down into valleys…everything rises, falls, and rises again. I valued this theme in the OBOD studies with all of its legends that valued opposite entities and the balancing ebb and flow of the Universe. In respect to this idea, I wanted to portray two opposite stages of the Moon- in both its crescent waning and its crescent waxing state- simultaneously mounted in order to collapse the passage of time and bring the rest of its cyclical form out of the shadows.

The trifold body for the central resin pieces intends to serve as a temple that evokes an ancient reverence for the builders of our past, while offering sanctuary for the beings in our present. The interwoven organic and industrial materials are meant to reflect an overlap in time, as if the carpenters of an ancient civilization collaborated with modern architects, and the ancestral belief in mysticism never dissipated after centuries of scientific evolution. For years, I struggled to connect modern industrial materials to ideas of mythology and ancestry, until the day came within my OBOD practice when I realized that they were connected all along. Druidry was the missing piece in my art process…its language spoke to both the old world and the new, and awakened a common ground between ancient and contemporary craftwork. The way it spoke about time as a dimensional element that didn’t necessarily separate us from our Druid ancestors with the many years between us, but rather served as a thread through which knowledge was passed, helped me to create these hybrid sculptures with greater confidence.

Working through the lessons, I saw materials in new, enlightened ways, and it opened up so many new pathways of thinking whenever I put my hands to work. As I focused on connecting myself to the four elements in the OBOD studies, I found new ways to view the lives of each piece in the installation. Wooden beams still bore rings to show their earthly age before the harvest, and enormous driftwood pieces got their polished shape from the river currents that had flowed over them for months, perhaps even years at a time. Gathered Spanish moss I weaved into the jute netting had been fervently tossed around by storm winds just days before, giving an abstract, twisted shape to the coils. The translucent casts of the half-moon molds reached hundreds of degrees when curing, producing the slightest flicker of a flame atop the surface as it hardened into shape and fossilized its contents. The fiery resin encompassed grass and twigs, and as it heated the earthly elements, evaporating moisture sculpted pockets of air within the mold to leave a trail marking its path, ending in a plume of white smoke that hovered briefly in the air. The entire process was a collaboration between Earth, Fire, Air and Water reacting to one another, taking on sculptural movements all on its own while I waited for it to settle into its final form.

We still create monuments today, but these monuments are often in respect to individuals or institutions…we marvel at the great bridges that soar over bays and the skyscrapers that boast their silhouettes against the Sun, but hardly do we create something that venerates the simple notion that we are able to create at all. These are the types of monuments I want to create- ones that collaborate with Nature and pay homage to the ancestral forces illustrating how lightness and darkness balance one another in a cosmic ballet. Druidry guided me toward realizing each sculptural element’s resonating power, and with my shrines and temples and totems made from these pieces, I aim to step away and let that power speak for itself unto anyone willing to listen.   

~  Chaney Trotter- 2017

Am I imagining this?

February 15th, 2017

A crevasse. Not quite as bad as an abyss…

There’s plenty about Trump and the weirdness of what is happening right now – and there’s only so much of this anyone can take on board. But I can’t resist sharing with you this excellent short piece from the New York Times, entitled ‘Am I Imagining this?’ which sums up in four words what I think many of us feel. Here’s a sample:

“Velocity trumps veracity. That is the puzzle and the menace of our age.

Speed and disruption have more psychological impact than truth and science. They shape the discourse. The debunking of a fake news story is seldom as powerful as the story itself. Trump says “X.” Uproar! Hordes of journalists scurry to disprove “X.” He moves on, never to mention it again, or claims that he did not say it, or insists that what he really said was “Y.”

People begin to wonder: Am I imagining this? They feel that some infernal mechanism has taken hold and is dragging them toward an abyss….   read more

Sleep Better Project

February 14th, 2017

by Lori Stanley

A big thank you to everyone who kindly volunteered for my Sleep Better Project. I was overwhelmed by the extraordinary response; it seems that many of us are having terrible trouble sleeping. Due to the large numbers who replied, the list is now closed to any new volunteers. My apologies to anyone who didn’t make it onto the project but please don’t lose heart, the audios that will be developed during these coming weeks of experimentation will be available in their final, polished form in a few months time.

Weeds in the Heart

February 10th, 2017

We were blessed to receive a stunning podcast gift from talented artist Fiona Owens. She sent a copy of her latest beautiful book Weeds In the Heart created with herbalist Nathaniel Hughes. It is the second in a series that begun with Intuitive Herbalism and both are illustrated with Fiona’s gorgeous artwork. Nathaniel and Fiona’s approach to plants is very much in keeping with Druid practice and anyone on a Druid path would find much to inspire them in these fabulous books.

Nathaniel and Fiona focus on building relationships with plants as a way to wisdom and healing. On the book website there is a section where they explore six key stages in building such a relationship:

* Clarifying your intention and taking your authentic self into the meeting
* Walking with openness and invitation
* Experiencing a sense of attraction or draw to a plant
* Stepping into that attraction
* Being with the plant
* Stepping out of the relationship with gratitude

Rose

Click here to listen to a short talk exploring in more depth each of these stages. I highly recommend these fabulous books for both their beauty and wisdom!

Trouble Sleeping? A Call for Volunteers!

February 8th, 2017

AN UPDATE TO THIS POST – 13 FEB 17 – The response to this call for volunteers has been incredible. Thank you to all who have offered to help.The project has now begun and will last for 8 weeks. Because it is now ‘rolling’ we cannot accept any new volunteers from midnight tonight. But the good news is that in about 8-10 weeks time the ‘Sleep Better’ recordings will be available and we will announce this here when the ‘The Sleep Clinic’ is open!

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening or perhaps good night!

Do you have difficulty getting to sleep? If so, would you consider helping me with a project I’m working on? Over the years, I’ve become very aware of how many people are dogged by sleep problems, and I’m working on producing an audio collection entitled ‘The Sleep Clinic’ to try to address this.

A few years back,  I produced two sleep-related tracks on the album Sacred Nature which some people swear by, such as this Amazon reviewer, who wrote: ‘As someone who’s suffered with insomnia for most of my adult life, I was skeptical but willing to give this a try …and have used it almost every night since to fall asleep. Out of some 800+ nights, this has worked all but 2 or 3 times. Listening to ‘healing sleep’ each night has become such a successful part of my nighttime routine that I don’t even really think of myself as an insomniac any more.” But these two tracks don’t work for everybody, so what I want to do is offer a range of tracks, using different techniques, in the hopes that anyone with sleep difficulties will find at least one that presses the right buttons, and either sends them to sleep or at least induces a sense of deep calm and rest.

And I would like to build a team of volunteers who will try out these new tracks for me and report back! If you become one, every so often I will email you the link to a webpage where you can listen to a new recording and then I’d just need you to tell me whether it worked for you or not. Simple as that!

If you’d like to volunteer, please just email Maria at pa@druidry.org and tell her, and we’ll put you on the list! Meanwhile, here is a video I made recently about a method I’m very keen on, and whose ideas I will incorporate into the new recordings:

MAGUS 2017: Kindling the Fire

February 7th, 2017

Many thanks to David North for this guest post about the upcoming OBOD Mid-Atlantic Gathering.

MAGUS 2017: Kindling the Fire

There is a brand new OBOD gathering in North America that will kick off its inaugural event near Beltane this year, from the 4th through the 7th of May.  The first annual Mid-Atlantic Gathering, United States (or MAGUS, for short) will take place at Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary in the Allegheny mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania (http://www.4qf.org/).  Four Quarters has been an ecological and earth-spiritual nature sanctuary since 1994.  Focused on tent camping, it features 240 rugged acres of woods and grassland, a 200-ft wide stone circle, labyrinth, fire and drum circle, and swimmable creek.  It’s the perfect site for a druid gathering!

The story of MAGUS starts with the U.S. East Coast Gathering (ECG):  An OBOD regional gathering held every September, near the autumnal equinox, in the Pocono mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania.  ECG has established itself as a regional staple over the past 7 years, and as the OBOD community in North America continues to grow—currently numbering roughly 9000 members—the need for additional regional gatherings has grown as well.  ECG spawned the Gulf Coast Gathering (GCG), which is held in Louisiana near the vernal equinox, and MAGUS will become the third such OBOD gathering on the East coast of the United States—which some (predictably) liken to the third ray of the Awen.

Hosted by the Washington, D.C-based Seed Group of the Oak and Eagle, the theme for this inaugural MAGUS is “Kindling the Fire.”  While the fire theme works well with the event’s Beltane focus, it is primarily intended to pay homage to the foundational work done by ECG and GCG before it.  “Kindling the fire” is also about solving the problems and hurdles in one’s own life, and then spreading peace and love through positive action in the greater world around us.  The aim of MAGUS is to renew our connection with nature, practice the bardic arts, and strengthen our ties to our international OBOD family.

Featured guest Renu Aldrich, editor-in-chief of Druid Magazine, will present a workshop entitled, “Kindling the Spiritual Warrior.”  Other presenters include Wand C. (“Awakening Your Beltane Sensuality”), Dana Driscoll (“Land Healing on the Inner and Outer Planes), Dean Easton (“Kindling Our Sacred Fires”), and Barbara Pott (“Yoga for Druids II—Beltane Style!”).  Initiations for all three OBOD grades will also be offered for eligible OBOD members.

Find out more about MAGUS and register for the event at: www.oakandeagle.org/midatlanticgathering.

Never Lose Hope…

February 6th, 2017

‘All That You Love’ by Oer-Wout

Never lose hope, my dear heart, 
Miracles dwell in the invisible.

~ Rumi