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Black Elk

Forest Man – What an Inspiration!

May 29th, 2017

Do watch this beautifully made film about someone who is really making a difference. Since the 1970’s Majuli islander Jadav Payeng has been planting trees in order to save his island. To date he has single handedly planted a forest larger than Central Park NYC. His forest has transformed what was once a barren wasteland, into a lush oasis. A story about creating a Paradise one step at a time.

Tree Girl – Intimate Encounters with Wild Nature

May 28th, 2017

From the book TreeGirl – Intimate Encounters with Wild Nature – photos and text by Julianne Skai Arbor

Trees and naked bodies – why put them together? The environment is under siege, trees need protection and – in a Druid’s view – adoration, veneration, respect and love. Do we need to add human bodies into the picture? A couple of people I know have dedicated themselves to doing exactly this: photographing trees in conjunction with naked humans, and the result is moving and deeply meaningful. Our shared creatureliness, vulnerability and interconnectedness with the life of trees is depicted beautifully and powerfully. We are encouraged to let go of our shyness, our inhibitions, to instead celebrate our relationship to these mighty beings who are so peaceful and yet so powerful.
The first person I came across doing this sort of photography was Jack Gescheidt, whose project Tree Spirit involves inviting people to be photographed naked with trees, often to draw attention to ones that are under threat. And now along comes a book TreeGirl – Intimate Encounters with Wild Nature, which has introduced me to another person who wants to create art and celebration in a similar, though different, way. In her large, full-colour book, Julianne Skai Arbor has combined her knowledge as an arborist with her skills as a photographer, and has travelled the world, seeking out the most extraordinary trees to photograph with her body. The result is truly breath-taking. The fact that all the photographs feature the same person reinforces the sense of relationship between tree and human. Just as in a story we can identify more fully if there is one main character, so we journey around the world with Julianne, encountering amazing specimens, like this Baobab in Australia:

Baobab – From the book TreeGirl – Intimate Encounters with Wild Nature – photos and text by Julianne Skai Arbor

Or here:

“Inside Holboom”– From the book TreeGirl – Intimate Encounters with Wild Nature – photos and text by Julianne Skai Arbor

Tree Girl begins with a foreword by Fred Hageneder, known to many as an expert on Yew trees, and then provides us with insights into tree-lore, the botany of trees, and their spiritual dimensions. The book is full of beautiful photography, but it is much more than that. It brings messages, inspiration, and a determination that we should do more to protect these beings that we might call our brothers or sisters, but are perhaps our elders.

Find out more about TreeGirl’s work and see more photographs here.
And watch a video of Treegirl reading a chapter of her book here:

Tilleuls à Danser – The Dance Lime Tree Project

May 26th, 2017

I recently had the pleasure of meeting artist Pierre Albuisson and learning all about his fascinating project Tilleuls à Danser – The Dance Lime Tree Project. Pierre explains,

Pierre Albuisson

Dance lime trees have come down to us from an extremely ancient European tradition. The earliest representation of a dance lime tree is found in Anne de Bretagne’s celebrated Book of Hours, which dates from 1508...

Dance lime trees were planted in the centre of villages. One or more platforms, supported by wooden structures, were built around their trunks, and these were used for dancing. Rope-makers, who used lime tree bark for their ropes, were the first to build platforms in lime trees in order to facilitate their work. Over time, these platforms began to be used by the villagers for dancing, and little by little they became places where festivities occurred, and where people gathered to dance.

The Dance Lime Tree project is aimed at city neighbourhoods, villages, and local societies. Its goal is to revitalise European villages with Dance Lime Tree events and the eight annual Nature Festivals, resulting in a renewed role at the community centre for the Tree. For years and centuries to come, the Tree will be part of the village, facilitating the transmission of traditions and cultural heritage.

This cultural project helps to reinforce identification with one’s community. It reminds villagers of nature’s cycles, and recreates feelings of being rooted in one’s home. It also provides concrete opportunities to enliven village life through lively festivities.

To learn more about the project, the history and to get involved, visit the Tilleuls à Danser website

A Druid Film!

May 23rd, 2017

Ellen Evert Hopman

Ellen Evert Hopman has written extensively on Druidry and Herbalism but many of you will know and have read Ellen’s fabulous trilogy of Druid novels: Priestess of the Forest – A Druid Journey; The Druid Isle, and Priestess of the Fire Temple – A Druid’s Tale. I am delighted to hear that Ellen is creating a film based on her books and in the last week has launched a fund raising campaign for the project. To find out more and to lend you support, visit Ellen’s Patreon Page.

Gratitude Makes Sense…

May 20th, 2017

Great Egrets – Zsolt Kudich

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.

~ Melody Beattie

Zsolt Kudich’s website.


Clematis Seed Heads – David Ford

The Gamble-Hounsome Tarot – The Tarot of Gnosis

May 18th, 2017

Many thanks to Steve Hounsome for this guest post about the beautiful new Tarot Deck  he has created with artist Patrick Gamble: The Gamble-Hounsome Tarot -The Tarot of Gnosis. 



The Tarot has fascinated me since, a great many Moons ago now, I was in my teens. Indeed, the older I get the more fascinated (for which read ‘obsessed’) by this ‘treasure house of images’ I become. This began, as many do, by an assumption that it would be great to be able to predict my, and others, futures.

This, like the majority of Tarot people, was how I began, venturing from amateur readings for friends to professional consultations, on the ‘psychic fair’ circuit in the 1990’s and beyond. The more I did this however, the less satisfied I became, and I wondered how this actually benefitted people, other than a ‘forewarned is forearmed’ idea.

I delved deeper into the history and mystery of these cards, and some 35 years or so later, have come to the conclusion that the Tarot cards do not actually ‘mean’ anything at all! An odd statement for a Tarot creator, author and reader to make, but what has become apparent to me is that the Tarot is a depiction of energy, and as such encapsulates that inherent sense of knowing, wisdom or more properly ‘Gnosis’ within the human being.

In a previous blog here, Philip was kind enough to point people towards my first deck ‘The Tarot Therapy Deck’, which was an attempt to show this ‘Tarot as energy’ concept, using the natural world as its template, since we all share this same inner connection and energetic reality as part of our being. It is this that is the source of the Gnosis of Tarot.

This deck was quite a departure from the norm of what can be called ‘traditional Tarot’, its images having no people or accepted symbolism that most Tarot decks contain. As I continued my Fool’s Journey with the Tarot, I found myself hankering after creating another deck. I faced a problem however, in that I am no artist, and a matchstick men Tarot might not be that appealing, such are the limits of my ability in this field!

Enter Patrick Gamble, a visionary and psychic artist I had the privilege to share a stage with as we presented a ‘Psychic Variety Show’. Patrick has the ability to see people’s Spirit Guides and paint these for them at individual sittings. We invited him to our home to do this, to which he bought many of his existing images, in a variety of formats. As I sat looking through these, it struck me that a good many of these were Tarot cards in the making, with some already fully formed!

I pointed this out to Patrick and asked if he knew this, but he shook his head saying that he did not know Tarot. I pointed out that I did, and the ‘Tarot of Gnosis’ was born! We agreed we would also call it ‘The Gamble-Hounsome Tarot’ in homage to the Rider-Waite, Morgan Greer, Hanson-Roberts and other ‘double-barrelled decks.  Its title of ‘The Tarot of Gnosis’ though, points us towards what I believe Patrick’s wonderful artwork steers us to via the medium of Tarot, this being that natural ability nestling within all human beings, to know what is right for us, instinctively and deep within our self, if we but still and centre ourselves to access it. Use of these cards can also do this for us, by showing the energy level of our reality, which is the source of all that we are and experience.

So it was that between us Patrick and I adapted his existing energies and I came to view the project as ‘the Tarot deck that created itself’! With Patrick patiently responding to my repeated calls to add a symbol here, move a figure there and so on, ‘The Tarot of Gnosis’ underwent a nine month gestation period before it was birthed. In this time, I came to realise that to better express the energies of the cards as I wished to convey them, it would be necessary to take a departure from the accepted names of many cards.

So it is that the Magician became simply ‘Magic’, the High Priestess ‘Intuition’ and so on. It is these inner qualities, powers or energies that exist as facets of our Gnosis and to which the Tarot can guide us. The Major Arcana cards are an expression of those energies which we encounter with our whole, or the Soul level of our being; that which results when we combine the four elemental levels of our construction, and which is something ‘greater than the sum of its parts’.

Those elemental levels are the suits of the Minor Arcana, in this deck being called Pentacles, Cups, Arrows and Wands. These show us the Gnosis of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels and selves, or the wisdom of the Body, Heart, Mind and Spirit. In this we have followed a quite traditional Ace to Ten format, but another departure was required for the ‘Court’ cards.

Typically Page, Knight, Queen and King, I again wanted to find terminology that first suited Patricks’ illustrations, as well as express that Gnosis I felt these characters portrayed. So it was our ‘Tarot family’ became known as Worker, Inspirer, Feeler and Thinker respectively. Hopefully these titles are self-explanatory in terms of how they operate, the manner in which they do this being determined by the suit to which they belong. In other words, the Queens run on their emotional response to what they encounter, the Arrows Queen for example (Arrows being the mental level of the human being) being an energy that points us towards realising that what we are feeling may well be because of what of what is in our minds.

In the accompanying book to the cards I have outlined the ‘Gnosis Method’ of working with the cards. This is essentially a small attempt at guiding people to a more sacred approach to use of the cards. By following this format it is easier to access that Gnosis within us and so benefit the more from the vast store of this which resides forever in the Tarot. Whilst it may have its origins in Northern Italy in the early 1400’s (as popular thinking currently has it), it is the knowledge that the Tarot depicts and contains that for me is more important, and this has been around a great deal longer.

Hopefully as we learn again to access and utilise our Gnosis we may recapture something of the sacred of our selves and lives, which can all too often seem so lacking today. I am therefore pleased to offer this deck and book in the hope that through its use, you are able to come to know more closely and consciously, your own Gnosis.


‘The Gamble-Hounsome Tarot – The Tarot of Gnosis’, Deck and Book, is available via Steve’s website –, or separately via Amazon.

Steve Hounsome works with ‘Tarot Therapy’, as Author, Creator, Reader and Tutor. He is based in Poole, Dorset, UK and from here runs Courses in Tarot Therapy, which are also available by distance-learning. Steve also hosts a monthly Tarot Club and an ongoing programme of Groups, Workshops and Events, as well as appearing at various Events in the South of England. Steve is the author of 8 other books, including his three volume ‘Tarot Therapy’ series, plus a range of spoken word Meditation and Development CD’s

You can see full details or all Steve’s services and products at this website, and join his free monthly Mailing List, by sending your email address to

Full details of Patrick Gamble’s artwork can be seen at his website   Patrick appears at a wide variety of shows and Events across the Country, as well as running workshops from his base in Cornwall, UK. Patrick will be with Steve in November in Poole, for a weekend of Spirit Guide painting.

Gurus, Magic, & Out of Body States in Portugal

May 14th, 2017

I’ve just received a newsletter from Muz Murray, a warm and down-to-earth guru who has made his way from running Gandalf’s Garden, a hippie hang-out in London back in the 60’s, to his current home in Portugal, via a spell in the South of France. He told me he met Gerald Gardner a few times. He specialises in mantras and chanting, so if that’s your thing, do take a look at his site – he’s trying to financially recover from a recent robbery so appreciates all the help he can get. Have a look at him here – he seems to have mastered the art of manifesting out of thin air, and claims in this video that 90% of spiritual practices are a waste of time:

Portugal is obviously a good place for gurus and magic of all kinds. Another teacher – Mooji – who has an ashram there, gives reasons why:

Guru Tony Samara has ended up in Portugal too. He is inspired by Jainism, which is how he and I ended up corresponding. Here is his ‘Forest Meditation’:

When it comes to Druids and magic you can do no better than to visit the stunningly beautiful Sintra, about an hour out of Lisbon. This is where the OBOD Portugal office is, set amongst tangerine trees, beside a Celtic pub and magical shop. They are all set in a garden, with an outdoor Druid temple and a charming hostel, which means you can stay a few days to soak it all in. See the OBOD Portugal site here, and the magical shop and events they organise here.

What other magic can you find in this beautiful country? One of the most extraordinary places I have visited is the research campus of the International Academy of Consciousness – a place dedicated to exploring the farther reaches of Inner/Otherworldly Space. A series of domed structures on the campus, in the Alentejo region of the country, offer different environments for exploring Out-of-Body-States and other phenomena. The most complex one has a bed suspended in the centre of a hollow sphere, shown below. It did feel very strange to lie on it! See their website for more information.

The ‘Projectarium’ designed to explored OOBS at the Research Campus of the International Academy of Consciousness

Finally:   Find a list of six ashrams in Portugal you can visit here.

The Cardinal at Southwark – As Fresh as a Violent Daisy

May 13th, 2017

Hernando (Phil Cheadle) threatens Valeria (Sophia Carr-Gomm) in ‘The Cardinal’, Southwark Playhouse. Photo: Mitzi de Margary

Director Justin Audibert has revived a 17th masterpiece that has lain forgotten since its last performance over 300 years ago. James Shirley’s tragic masterpiece The Cardinal is playing in London’s Southwark Playhouse until 27th May, and it was Libby Purves on Radio 4 who said about this revival that it reveals a work ‘Fresh as a violent daisy after 376 years’.

There are plenty of daggers and Kensington Gore (stage blood), a blood-curdling scream, and vigorous sword fighting in this revenge-fest described as a ‘gem’ in The Guardian’s review. But there is comedy too, and the oleaginous Cardinal and feisty Duchess, played superbly by Stephen Boxer and Natalie Simpson, are supported by strong comedic performances from Sophia Carr-Gomm, Rosie Wyatt and Timothy Speyer as the Duchess’s servants.

The danger in admiring Shakespeare as our finest bard means we can overlook much of the fine writing that his century produced, and as proof of this we have had to wait 376 years for this play to see the light of day. Congratulations to the Southwark Playhouse, Audibert and all the cast, for introducing Shirley to a modern audience. Who can fail to be moved by lines like this: “Your phrase has too much landscape and I cannot distinguish the figure perfect’ – spoken by the Duchess to the Cardinal, who will not cut to the chase, but hides his meaning in generalities. And in these days of surreal politics being played out on the stage of life, what could be more contemporary than the Cardinal’s words, “All great men know, the soul of life is fame.”

Get tickets here.

Valeria (Sophia Carr-Gomm) consoles the Duchess (Natalie Simpson) in The Cardinal, Southwark Playhouse. Photo: Mitzi de Margary