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" One touch of nature

makes all the world kin "

William Shakespeare

Golden Goddess of Birch and the Birth of Wisdom

January 21st, 2017

Freya by John Bauer

My friend Andreas Kornevall is a fabulous storyteller and musician – you can see him at Treadwell’s Bookshop on the 10th March 2017. The evening starts at 7.30pm and cost £10. Book your ticket here for an inspiring evening of myth and music!

Golden Goddess of Birch and the Birth of Wisdom

A deep journey of story into Northern Myth, Ritual, Runes and Cosmology by Norse Storyteller – Andreas Kornevall.

An evening of storytelling and lively conversation into Norse Myths and Culture. We will hear the Norse Creation Myth and the story that lies at the very heart of Norse Mythology: the Birth of Wisdom.

The story of the Birth of Wisdom tells us of the ancient war between the Sky Gods (the Aesir) and the Nature Spirits (the Vanir), a seemingly endless struggle that only met its peaceful resolution through a being called Kvasir, Wisdom. We will ask: where is Kvasir today?

There are two parts to the evening: the first will be a storytelling performance and in the second half we will explore these sacred stories together. Andreas will also link the runes to the creation myth, and show how each sequence of the creation myth have a corresponding rune symbol. Much of the material presented in the workshop has never been translated into English.

Expect an evening of insight into the Northern myth-world.

Andreas Kornevall

Andreas Kornevall is a Swedish storyteller, mythographer, writer and environmentalist living in Lewes, East Sussex. He is a contributing author of Ancient-Origins.net – a site which brings together top experts and authors writing about myths and folklore.

In 2014 he worked with with Sussex Past, the oldest archaeological society in the UK, to revive the ancient Pagan Anglo-Saxon Creation Myth, telling stories inside the iconic Lewes Castle.

He is also an active member of the “Forn Sed” (Old Customs Association) in Sweden which works closely with ancient Norse culture and traditions, unearthing old legends, forgotten folklore and endangered Norse languages.

All his tellings are accompanied with musical instruments such as drums, frame drums, flutes and horns.”

2017: The Year of the Trees

January 18th, 2017

Stuart Low

Many thanks to Jonathan Woolley for this post about the Woodland Trust initiative Charter for Trees which OBOD is very happy to be supporting. Read on and see how you can get involved…

2017: THE YEAR OF THE TREES

There is less than one year to go until the launch of the Charter for Trees; People and Woods, an initiative lead by the Woodland Trust, and backed by OBOD, alongside a constellation of other community groups, charities, industry bodies, government agencies, and faith groups. The aim of the Charter is to reaffirm the connection the communities of Britain have with our trees, to celebrate the blessings these gentle giants grant us, while also laying out a vision for how our relationship with them might grow and deepen in the future. Finally, and most importantly, the Charter will serve to acknowledge the responsibility that we all have to care for our trees and woodlands; to ensure that they can weather the many dangers they now face.

We’ll be celebrating the Charter’s launch in November 2017, which will be marked by a whole range of events up and down the country, from tree planting, to wood fairs; from art installations, to workshops on woodcarving. OBOD members, and our friends in the BDO and the Druid Network are currently working hard to conjure up some truly magical contributions to the festivities. In the coming months, we’ll be announcing them here and on Facebook, to help the wider family of OBOD members to get involved. There will be a range of activities and initiatives throughout 2017 across the Charter network, so keep your eyes and ears open as the wheel turns!

We need your help!
There are many ways in which you can support the Charter. The most important of which is to add your voice to the chorus of tens of thousands of those who have already spoken up. The Woodland Trust is gathering together the memories, hopes, fears, and stories people have about trees, and will feed them into the wording and content of the Charter. What’s your first memory of a woodland? What do trees mean to you? And what do you want to see protected for future generations? There is only a few weeks to go before the consultation ends, so don’t delay – share your thoughts on the Charter website now! https://treecharter.uk/add-your-voice/

The second thing you can do is to contribute to the planting of trees. The Order has its own Sacred Groves Project – as a part of this, we will soon be launching a fundraising initiative. We’ll be hoping to raise a total of £750 to sponsor a plot with an innovative tree-planting project at the Sylva Foundation in South Oxfordshire. https://sylva.org.uk/forestfriend

If you’re really excited by the potential of the Charter, or you’re already running a woodland or tree-oriented group, you might like to set up a Charter Branch in your local area or become a Charter Champion. We need to get communities right across the country involved; Druids are perfectly placed to usher in a new culture of stewardship and affection for our forests. The Woodland Trust can provide funding, support, and advice for whatever tree-ish things you’re looking to do: so don’t be afraid to register! https://treecharter.uk/charter-branches/ https://treecharter.uk/charter-champion-resources/ 

If you’d like to find out more, or if you have any ideas about cherishing our sacred trees that you’d like immortalised in the Charter, please get in touch with Jonathan Woolley at jw521@cam.ac.uk

First Image by Stuart Low: http://www.stuartlowphotography.co.uk/

source: Fairytale Forest Photography

How Wolves Change Rivers

January 17th, 2017

A wonderful example of the interconnected, interdependent web of life…

 

‘Shooting the Lead’ – Another New Year tradition

January 16th, 2017

I thought I knew about most forms of divination – but here’s one that was news to me and to everyone else I’ve mentioned it too since. Do you know what ‘shooting the lead’ is? A psychiatrist friend introduced us to this – he’s been doing it every New Year for the last 20 years because he finds it so interesting. The technical term for this practice is Molybdomancy – divination using molten metal. It originated in ancient Greece and became a New Year tradition in Scandinavia and German-speaking countries. At a party yesterday we were all queueing up to do it. You dissolve some solder in a ladle, and then drop it when liquefied into a bucket of cold water. The result is a unique sculpture, or sometimes several. A woman who loved the Tarot got a set of four clubs. I got the creation you can see above. Stephanie got a pearl in an oyster. Like a Rorschach you then free-associate to ideas and feelings that come from contemplating your New Year surprise.

Trump’s Fate Predicted by MI6 Officer 36 years ago?

January 15th, 2017

“What if the Soviet Union gained control over the US Presidency? SIS agent James Mackay fears that this may already be happening…” so wrote ex MI6 Colonel Ted Alleubry 36 years ago in his novel The Twentieth Day of January. I suppose it’s an obvious plot but it raises the interesting question of how often fiction predicts fact.

Do you know of any fictional works that have ended up being predictive – describing events that subsequently happened?

And guess how many people are now scrambling to buy the film rights to Ted Allbeury’s book?!

No Matter How Far You Are From Yourself…

January 13th, 2017

‘Light up the Dark’ by Nelleke Pieters

To feel as if you belong is one of the great triumphs of human existence. And especially, to sustain the life of belonging, and to invite others into that, has always been acknowledged as one of the great achievements.
But it’s interesting to think that our vulnerabilities, our sense of slight woundedness around not belonging, is actually one of our core competencies. That though the crow is just itself and the stone is just itself and the mountain is just itself, and the cloud, and the sky is just itself, we are the one part of creation that knows what it’s like to live in exile. The ability to turn your face towards home is one of the great human endeavors and the great human stories.
No matter how far you are from yourself, no matter how exiled you feel from your contribution to the rest of the world; as a human being all you have to do is enumerate exactly the way you don’t feel at home in the world, say exactly how you don’t belong, and the moment you’ve uttered the exact dimensionality of your exile, you’re already taking the path back to the way – back to the place – you should be. You’re already on your way home.
~ David Whyte
Light Up the Dark by Nelleke Pieters. Check out Nelleke’s beautiful website here.
Hearts images source: AboutMeditation.com

Visioning your New Year – 2017

January 12th, 2017

Every year, for the past twenty-five years, Stephanie and I have undertaken an exercise which we have found to be incredibly helpful in creating the lives we want to lead.

It began as an informal review on New Year’s Eve soon after we started living together. We looked back on the year that had passed, and then we talked about how we wanted our lives to unfold in the year that was about to begin.

Each year we developed this exercise, which many people undoubtedly undertake informally. Such an activity feels very natural, and of course the idea of the New Year’s resolution arises automatically out of this process of looking back on the year that has been, and then forward to the year to come.

But as we developed the exercise, we started to experience the fact that once we built on, intensified and elaborated, the two fundamental activities the exercise engages – of reviewing and envisioning – it became an experience that was truly magical, truly creative. It became, in essence, a means for us to create our future.

You can read about the exercise we have developed in detail here.

And there’s a great little booklet that works well with this exercise that you can download from a website here: called YearCompass: A few questions to help you close 2016 and plan 2017.

The Peace After the Storm – The Cailleach of Winter

January 9th, 2017

A Winter’s Tale by Russell Stewart Stone

A guest Post by Maria Ede-Weaving…

I find myself stood alone on moorland in the depths of winter. The sky is bright with countless stars and the ground glistens with frost. The air is crisp and sharp against my skin. Above me, on a rocky crag I see the glow of a fire and I instinctively walk towards its light. When I reach the summit, sat in the golden circle of fire light is a woman, her face is lined with age, her long silver hair threaded with buzzard and owl feathers. Her dark cloak is dotted with stars as mesmerising as the night sky and around her neck hang circlets of threaded bone. To her left is a staff rooted in the ground, topped with a deer skull and to her right a hunched, leafless tree, weathered and gnarled by countless storms; amongst its branches an owl nestles, its dark eyes as fathomless and watchful as the depths of space.

I know this woman…she is as ancient as time and held within her silence is the knowledge of countless ages and generations; of countless lives and deaths – she is the keeper of ancestral memories. I know this woman…Cailleach, Grandmother of stone, of mountain, cliff and cave, and rocky, windswept crag; she is my bedrock of strength and endurance. Ancient Bone Mother, she is the frame upon which our lives take shape. Rugged and timeless, her wildness inspires journeys into the remote and lonely places of our souls, for it is here that we find her, her face bright in the moonless night, her profound winter stillness our sacred song of dark wisdom. She is the starry heavens and the depths of space, the place where life returns after death, the place where all potential dwells. Spinner and weaver, she works the threads of life into complex patterns of beauty and wonder; she sings over our bones and remakes us anew; keen as beak and talon, beautiful as the arching sky that carries her feathered spirit, she is the Ancient Crone of all knowing and in the depths of winter she calls to us.

The above is a meditation I experienced just after the Winter Solstice. I had settled and made myself quiet, not expecting to have an active visualisation but this came without prompting and played out in my mind without any effort or direction on my part. As I sat before this extraordinary Goddess, she showed me a vision of myself. I was being hauled up by a rope through a narrow vertical passage of rock, rising up from deep within the earth. I looked up and the circular opening at the surface was perfectly aligned with the sun. Its light was breathtakingly golden and lit the chamber as I rose up toward it; it was a stunningly beautiful sight, both exhilarating and comforting.

Since then, this Ancient Crone Goddess has occupied my times of contemplation and meditation; she has been opening me up to the energy of the season and the beauty of winter. January can be such a difficult month. Although the light is gradually increasing, here in the Northern Hemisphere winter shows itself in earnest – it can feel very gloomy post the Christmas frenzy and the accumulative lack of sun and light can lower our spirits and leave us lethargic. However, I have felt something very different this year. I have felt incredibly settled and peaceful.

My life over the last three and a half years has been deeply challenging for many different reasons. It had begun to feel like I had taken up permanent residence in the churning cauldron of Ceridwen’s transformative energy. I was suspended in a perpetual Samhain of loss, grief and enforced release and I seemed to be fighting it all the way. Inwardly, I knew that these experiences were asking me to make some profound changes, a relentless confrontation of my shadow self that was urging me on to a more authentic and honest relationship with myself and my life. I was being simmered in the heat, my old self falling away from the bone – it was painful, took a seeming age and brought me moments of deep depression and anger.

This winter has brought a sudden and unexpected peace. It’s not like I don’t have challenging situations still to deal with, and yet something has shifted. My perpetual Samhain has lifted and in finding my own personal wheel moving round to the Winter Solstice, I have had a powerful realisation of the gifts of this season.

In my own experience, the Crone energy of Samhain is incredibly dynamic.  Although the world is dying back, there is intensity in this transformation reflected in the burning colours of autumn. The energy of transition can be a massive challenge and our resistance to it can create a tension that produces its own energy. Samhain brings us to that moment of release, to the pain of loss, to the place of acceptance and letting go but the Winter Solstice and the heart of winter shows us a very different Crone energy. After the intensity of Samhain we come to the peace and stillness. Life sits and waits deep beneath the soil; this is the moment between the exhale and inhale of the year, it is that place where we are given a chance to assimilate all the powerful transformation that the deaths of Samhain have brought us. I have known this intellectually for years but this year, I have felt it in my heart and body.

This ancient Goddess of winter offers us the chance to grasp the bigger picture of our own lives; in her stillness, we can make sense of the patterns and take in the lessons at a cellular level until they are part of us. She is an Ancestral Goddess because these lessons become layered upon the experience of all our ancestors like a rich much that will fuel the future. In the cauldron, we are stripped down to the bone, the bare essentials of who we are, and the Cailleach of Winter tenderly gathers this messy bundle of bones, laying them upon the frozen earth, piece by piece, until our core shape can be seen once more. In the still, lifeless darkness, she dreams the flesh back upon our bones; her strength becomes the fabric of our sinew and as she herself transforms into the fiery Brighid of Imbolc, she will – when the time is right – light the spark of inspiration within us that reanimates our being.

We can get impatient for Imbolc in the depths of the dark and cold days, but that is missing out on a gift. This Ancient Crone teaches us the mysteries of suspension. When I think of her, my thoughts are drawn to the Hanged Man in Tarot, an archetypal experience that, on one level, can be deeply frustrating, particularly when we have the urge to move forward. However, he is often portrayed with a halo of light and a peaceful expression because he is essentially about surrendering to stillness, going inward for the purposes of Gnosis. Winter can do this for us; we can allow it to teach us to patiently wait, and in the waiting – as the dust of the year settles upon a barren earth – we can begin to truly see in a new way, from a new perspective, all that we have learnt, each lesson that has become a part of who we are. This Goddess brings us clarity – she asks that we be honest and authentic in our review of what works in our lives and what hinders but she also dwells in our envisioning; she is the flight of the mind and imagination; the architect of our future.

The Ancient Lady of winter brings us peace after the storm; still waters after the churning. Her enduring love, deep knowing and wisdom, brings us to that place of hope of joy. That place where the dark stillness explodes into star light. For we are each a burning star born in her dark and infinite womb; we are each an expression of hope and new vision born of endings and release. We are each a Solstice sun.

This winter, don’t be too hasty for spring; revel in those frosty mornings and feel her clarity in its bite. See her take shape in the fog of your breath; turn inward and find her there; know that she has the power to birth new life from death, warmth from cold. She is your faithful guide, your sacred strength and vision. From the soil of the earth and the dust of the stars she has shaped you.

Carolyn Hillyer

Fabulous art work from Carolyn Hillyer – her website can be found here. And photography by Russell Stewart Stone whose website can be found here.