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" Friendship is a sheltering tree "


The Bus Shelter

March 25th, 2017

When the only remaining hostel for the homeless on the Isle of Wight was closed due to lack of funding, Kevin Newton felt compelled to act. Kevin had experienced homelessness in his own life and knew how important it was to have a place to go for hot food, a warm bed and human interaction. He came up with a brilliant idea. After months of fundraising, generous donations from IOW residents and business people, plus the invaluable support of some dedicated volunteers, The Bus Shelter was launched.

The Bus Shelter is a double-decker bus that Kevin has converted into a comfortable mobile shelter to provide a warm, safe space for the homeless. It sleeps up to 20 people in bunks and provides washing and toilet facilities, a fitted kitchen and lounge – there is even a log burner! What is also apparent is that there is a real sense of community – the bus provides a vital network of emotional support.

Kevin Newton

Kevin also helps the people who use the bus to find their own permanent homes and to make those first steps to rebuild their lives.

No one should be homeless and in a time when the cutting of funds is having such a devastating impact on our most vulnerable members of society, Kevin’s innovative idea is truly a life-saver. To learn more, visit The Bus Shelter website.

There is only now…

March 24th, 2017

Angel Oak by Skiserge1

Where you are going 
and the place you stay
come to the same thing.
What you long for
and what you’ve left behind
are as useless as your name.
Just one time, walk out
into the field and look
at that towering oak—
an acorn still beating at its heart.
~ Peter Levitt, from One Hundred Butterflies – Broken Moon Press 1992

The Eternal, Sacred Connection

March 22nd, 2017

Debra Bernier is a Canadian artist who takes items from nature, such as driftwood, feathers, shells and stones and creates beautiful sculptures with them. In an interview with Bored, Debra talks a little about her work,

When I work with driftwood, I never start with a blank canvas. Each piece of driftwood is already a sculpture, created by the caresses of the waves and wind. The wood tells a story and I try to think of its journey as I hold it in my hand. I extend or shorten the curves and contours that already exist into familiar shapes of animals or peoples’ faces.The finished pieces are a reflection of not only my life, my family, and children, but of an eternal, sacred connection we all share with nature.

To view more of her wonderful pieces, visit Debra’s website.  


The Wheel of Segais

March 21st, 2017

River Goddess – Hatmehit

My lovely friend and OBOD member Pamela Meekings-Stewart has devised a fascinating divination tool which she has named The Wheel of Segais. Many will know Pamela from her work in OBOD and also because of her fabulous Retreat Centre, The Woolshed, which she runs on her farm in Pukerua Bay, New Zealand.

As the name suggests, Pamela’s divination system has drawn inspiration from the Well of Segais, the mythical source of the Sacred River Boyne, where it was said that the Salmon of Wisdom feeds upon the nuts of nine hazels that encircle the pool. It is known as a place of inspiration where wisdom and guidance can be sought and found. Pamela explains,

So what is the Well of Segais? It’s the Otherworld source of the Boyne that some say lies in the navel of the Goddess Bo-Ann. If we make our way to this pool, and dive deep into its waters to find the salmon, we find ourselves diving down into the belly, the womb, of the Goddess Herself. And in doing this we have come to the cauldron which represents the source of rebirth and wisdom. The Well of Segais is a deep pool, surrounded by the Nine Hazels of Inspiration. The Hazel nuts ripen and fall into the pool where the Salmon of Wisdom eats them. She cracks their shells and the empty shells float off, down the many streams that flow from the Well of Segais. It is said that one may never be wise until one has drunk from the Well of Segais.

Pamela reading The Wheel of Segais

Pamela says that The Wheel of Segais came to her in a flash of inspiration,

I awoke one morning and in that magical time between sleeping and waking, all that knowledge and wisdom came together in a beautiful, simple image that I now call The Wheel of Segais or, sometimes, The Wheel of Inevitability!

The wisdom contained within it allows us to perceive all that we are and all that we need as we experience the turning of the wheel of the year – the Four Seasons, the 12 stages, the circles of Past, Present and Future, the ‘Guardian Angels’ who protect the outer circle, and the Well itself in the centre.

The Wheel of Segais

On the 19th April, Pamela will be giving an online demonstration of The Wheel of Segais for Linda Marson’s Global Spiritual StudiesIf you would like to participate in this free online session please click here for further details and how to register.

Happy Equinox!

March 20th, 2017

Image by Sweetmart

Wishing you all a very Happy Equinox! It is always good to spend a few minutes on this day, reflecting on the perfect balance between the light and dark hours, feeling ourselves poised, still and peaceful, between those two states. It reminds us, that no matter what, we can reach for this place of equilibrium within us at any point. From this moment of brief suspension – as the wheel turns onward once more – may we all move forward with a greater sense of the strength of our own resilience; may we honour our ability to adapt to, and embrace, the changes.

May the spring bring you renewed energy, inspiration and joy! May the autumn harvests – of both soil and spirit – be plentiful and sustain you through the dark months!

Remembering Claire

March 18th, 2017

I was deeply saddened to hear of the recent passing of Claire Hamilton. Claire was an exceptionally gifted Bard; not only was she a fabulous musician, recording many beautiful harp albums but she was also a wonderful performer, storyteller and writer. For all those lucky enough to be present at one of Claire’s performances, she will be remembered for her gift of transporting the listener to other worlds, carried upon the beauty of her harp and the magic of her voice.

Claire was a scholar of Celtic, Arthurian and Greek Mythology but her understanding of these fascinating tales was not merely academic – she had that enviable ability to get to the emotional heart of a story – to understand it in her bones – and because of this intimate connection to the language, imagery and archetypal pulse of these myths, Claire could crack them open  for the listener to effortlessly enter, the mundane world slipping away to reveal the magic beneath. Isn’t that the true gift of a Bard, to reflect back to us the depth, power, pain and joy of this wonderful life we are blessed with? Claire had the power to make the listener feel these stories in their bodies, to grow them in their imaginations, revealing the wisdom at their core.

She wrote both non-fiction and fiction. Her books Tales of the Celtic Bards, Maiden, Mother, Crone: Voices of the Goddess and Celtic Seasonal Meditations are inspired retellings of Celtic Myth and show both her skill as a writer and teller of stories.

Shortly before her death, Claire had completed her novel, I, A Child. She had agent interest but had yet to secure a publisher. Claire’s partner Steve Eddy has put together a crowdfunding campaign so that people can contribute to the posthumous publication of Claire’s novel – if you would like to be involved please click here. It is a wonderful way to pay tribute to Claire’s life and talent.

Claire was an Honoray Bard of OBOD; she has left us an enduring legacy that will continue to bring joy and inspiration. She touched many people not only with her extraordinary creative fire but also with her warmth and intelligence; she was a wonderful person and a beautiful soul who will be deeply missed by all those that had the pleasure of knowing her.

“The Light” An exhibition of Polina Gerdjikova’s work

March 18th, 2017

Polina Gerdjikova with her paintings ‘The Phoenix’ and ‘A Stone over a Stone’

Polina Gerdjikova with her painting ‘The Sephardic Way’








I was at the Bulgarian Cultural Institute’s gallery in Queen’s Gate, London, yesterday, for the opening of Polina Gerdjikova’s exhibition – ‘The Light: Eternal Symbols’.

Polina had read one of my books in Bulgarian years ago, and we had corresponded via this blog – but now I could meet the artist in person and see a wide selection of her work. Polina is brimming with energy (and light in fact) and is an avid student of metaphysics – and so every painting is deeply symbolic. She manages to infuse her paintings both with dynamism and a sense of underlying unity and structure – note her use of sacred geometry in the pictures above.

I hope the exhibition is a great success. If you are in London do go and see it, the Bulgarian Cultural Institute has a warm and spacious gallery, well situated, down a small flight of steps on the corner of the building. If I was an oligarch I would have simply bought all of Polina’s work!

Magic the Dog

March 16th, 2017

Here is a lovely story from the BBC News website about Magic, the medical alert assistance dog, who has been trained to detect a change in the blood sugar levels of his owner, Claire Pesterfield who suffers from type 1 diabetes. Claire’s condition is more problematic than most as her body does not display warnings signs that her blood sugar level is dangerously low; Magic is literally a life-saver!

Dogs are known as man’s best friend and their powerful sense of smell means they also have the potential to save lives – detecting changes in blood glucose levels in type 1 diabetes patients and urine samples from those with prostate cancer.


Magic leaps up, placing his paws on his owner’s knees, his brown eyes staring into hers. It is a routine he has done thousands of times. Magic is a medical alert assistance dog, and has been trained to detect a minute shift in the blood sugar levels of his owner, Claire Pesterfield. Using his superior sense of smell, he is capable of detecting tiny odour concentrations – around one part per trillion.

Without Magic’s assistance, changes in her blood sugar levels could put her at risk of a seizure, or – in extreme cases – the onset of a coma. Claire has type 1 diabetes, but – unlike most people with the condition – her body does not display the warning signs that a dangerous episode might be about to occur.

“I’ve used all the latest technology that’s out there, and it still doesn’t give me enough warning to prevent the episodes, or make them less severe,” she tells the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.

“But Magic can give me up to a 30-minute warning that I need to take action.

“In the three and a half years we’ve been together, he has alerted and potentially saved my life 3,500 times. And he does it all for a dog biscuit.

“I know without him, I wouldn’t be alive today.”

Magic the dog

Magic the Dog

Claire works as a children’s diabetes nurse, supporting and educating children with type 1 diabetes and their families. She says she would not be able to do the job were it not for Magic, as she would be at risk of collapsing mid-meeting.

“Without him I would be testing my blood glucose level every 20 or 30 minutes, to try and pre-empt what was going to happen,” she explains.

Having Magic also sends the message to the children she works with, she adds, that, “You can still live life to the full when you’ve got diabetes.” to read the entire article click here 

New Zealand Grants River Same Legal Rights as Person

March 15th, 2017

Congratulations to New Zealand for this landmark decision. May the interests of all of Nature be recognized soon by all of humanity!

From the BBC:

A river in New Zealand has become the first in the world to be granted the same legal rights as a person. The New Zealand parliament passed the bill recognising the Whanganui River, in North Island, as a living entity.

Long revered by New Zealand’s Maori people, the river’s interests will now be represented by two people. The Maori had been fighting for over 160 years to get this recognition for their river, a minister said.

“I know the initial inclination of some people will say it’s pretty strange to give a natural resource a legal personality,” said New Zealand’s Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson. “But it’s no stranger than family trusts, or companies or incorporated societies.”

The Whanganui River, New Zealand’s third-longest, will be represented by one member from the Maori tribes, known as iwi, and one from the Crown. The recognition allows it to be represented in court proceedings.  Read more

The International School of Storytelling

March 13th, 2017

Druidry has a rich tradition of storytelling  – for many Bards, this ancient art is the core of their spiritual practice. Stories makes sense of who we are and of the world around us; they can teach and inspire; they are the road maps to healing; a celebration of our humanity, struggles and triumphs. Listening to a good storyteller, we are transported and through the telling, the seemingly ordinary becomes anything but – we are opened to the magic of life.

If you are seeking to develop your Bardic skills, The International School of Storytelling is a fabulous resource. It offers a wide range of Storytelling courses from short weekend workshops to longer intensives.

Ashley Ramsden


The School was founded by Ashley Ramsden, Sue Hollingworth and Roi Gal-Or and is based at the wonderful Emerson College in East Sussex. Ashley wrote that the idea came to him whilst sheltering from a storm in the hole at the base of an oak (which sounds like the start of a story in itself!). Crouched inside the trunk of that oak, he thought,

What if there was a place in the world to learn the art of storytelling, where people could come and find their voices and celebrate the stories from their different cultures?

Roi Gal-Or

Now with several tutors and guest teachers, that idea has flourished and grown. Ashley and Sue are also the authors of The Storyteller’s Way – A Sourcebook for Inspired Storytelling

‘The Storyteller’s Way is for storytellers, coaches, teachers, leaders, parents, librarians and anyone needing a helpful storytelling resource. It contains a wealth of successful tried-and-tested methods for improving storytelling, with  helpful exercises to practice skills and build confidence. The concise and engaging instructions make it a pleasure to use, with clear diagrams to ease understanding.

Sue Hollingsworth

Contents: Starting Out and First Steps- Nuts and Bolts; the Basics and Beyond; the Senses;  Rhythm and Repetition; Polarities; Temperaments; Thresholds; Dynamics; Gestures; Gazes; Relating; Silence; Levels of Language; Voice; The Deeper Current-Self Development and Storytelling; Quotes; Stories; Tips; Exercises; Examples; Resources

‘Storytellers are more than tellers of tales – they are healers, entertainers and teachers inspired by profound spiritual traditions. This requires ongoing renewal and inspiration so that stories can come alive and serve the community.’  Ashley Ramsden and Sue Hollingsworth’