Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Move your Goat

Saturday, October 25th, 2014
This beautiful Capra Ibex doesn't want to move

This beautiful Capra Ibex doesn’t want to move anywhere

A friend, Barry Winbolt, who has been developing a creative combination of mindfulness, eco-psychology and solutions-focused psychotherapy under the banner of Inner Landscapes, has begun a daily blog of short, thoughtful pieces of advice for everyday living. I like his down-to-earth, easy-going way of expression and practical advice. Here’s yesterday’s post:

Make no mistake, words can hurt you. Despite the “sticks and stones” incantation that many of us hear from an early age, words can be lethal. People can and do say hurtful and destructive things. But to be effective any insult or put-down must find its mark. Even the most wounding remark is harmless until it finds its target.
As someone once said, “In order to get your goat they must first find your goat.” My advice? Move your goat.  Read the full post

Knowing the Past to Create the Future

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

‘The foundations of the future are always latent in the past, and without a thorough knowledge of a tradition it is impossible either to pass it on and develop it further or to alter it. Any radical revolution requires a rediscovery of the roots of that which one desires to transform.’

R.Panikar introducing ‘The Unknown Pilgrims’ by N.Shanta

The Gatekeeper Trust Annual Conference

Monday, October 20th, 2014


The Gatekeeper Trust is a lovely organisation that encourages a deep spiritual connection to the land as a way of healing our planet, communities and selves. They are holding their annual conference on the 29-30 November in Pewsey, Wiltshire. Here is an extract from their website about their approach and some information about the forthcoming conference:

At this time when we are desecrating our planet as never before, there is a real need to rediscover our connection with our  environment, to be in tune with the landscape at a deeper level, and to realize how it affects us, and we it.

It is known that we are affected mentally and  emotionally for the better by living in peaceful and beautiful  surroundings. Each of us knows at least one place where we feel special – somewhere that makes us seem more alive, more truly ourselves.  It is here that we connect with the spirit of place and find universal  harmony. By going to places to which you feel drawn, and offering your  healing love through meditation, dance, song and prayer, or whatever  feels right, places and communities can be transformed,  atmospheres made lighter and more harmonious. Often a corresponding  change takes place in you too! ‘We live in the landscape and the landscape lives in us’…

…The Gatekeeper Trust welcomes the interest and support  of all who respond in their hearts to the adventure of Temple seeking  and renewal, or simply enjoy walking with mindfulness. We not only exchange consciousness with the land, but also explore  history, mythology, archaeology, poetry and the arts, and their  relevance in today’s changing world. We have a programme throughout the  year of local and national events. Groups frequently meet at the  equinoxes and solstices and other traditional festival  times to celebrate The Wheel of the Year through pilgrimage. Journeys through the outer landscape can create within us new frontiers of inner  perspective, new depths of potential within ourselves. The Earth has an  abundance of simple gifts to be enjoyed and  released within us. We invite you to discover them with us.

The Butterfly is our symbol – the Gatekeeper or Hedge  Brown has orange-brown wings and a black spot with two white pupils on  its forewings. Known for its guardianship of gates and hedges, it is  most often seen as one goes in and out of fields  and woods and along roadside verges. The butterfly is the Earthly  partner of the elemental kingdom, its presence frequently accompanies us  on pilgrimage – a sign as one crosses the threshold of a sacred place  and seeks permission to enter. Engaged with the  fairy and nature realms, the butterfly reminds us of the alchemical  transformation of Earthly substance, keeping the Temples mysteriously  tended and alive for humanity to rediscover. ~ Roma Harding, Gatekeeper Friend

29 – 30 November 2014
Bouverie Hall, North Street, Pewsey, Wiltshire, SN9 5ES
Weekend ticket – £65, One day only – £35

Sarah Dawkins, Christian Kyriacou, Sylvia Francke, David Furlong,
Caroline Hoare, Eric Maddern, Karen Ralls and Jeremy Rye

I think what has happened to the human community in our times is that we are talking to ourselves. We are not talking to the river, we are not listening to the river. We have broken the great conversation. By breaking the conversation, we have shattered the universe. ~ Thomas Berry

Many famous routes of pilgrimage follow ancient tracks through beautiful countryside. Yet pilgrimage is equally alive in town, with famous routes connecting historic towns and cities. As so many people live in densely built up places, seemingly disconnected from nature, this weekend conference will explore what it means to be an urban pilgrim and how we can renew ‘the great conversation’ with nature.

For more information about the Conference click hereThe Gate Keeper Trust website can be found here.

Dutch Tarot Conference

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014
'Are We All on the Same Camera/Page?' LtoR: PCG, Agnes Yntema-De Vries, Kirsten Buchholzer, James Wanless, Petra Stam

‘Are We All on the Same Camera/Page?’ LtoR: PCG, Agnes Yntema-De Vries, Kirsten Buchholzer, James Wanless, Petra Stam

Conferences can be dull affairs. Endless speakers droning on, weak coffee, and that little voice inside that says “Go on, no-one will notice, just sneak off after this talk…”But the recent Plant Consciousness event in London avoided this by having singing plants, a great venue, and frequent interludes with poetry, a beat-box rapper and strong coffee! And of course thrilling speakers…

And the Dutch Tarot Conference I attended in Utrecht a few days ago avoided conference fatigue too. It began well with an interesting venue that challenged us all to find  (so we were wide awake with our Sherlock Holmes hats on right from the start). And just as the Plant event kicked off with an American speaker gifted with pizazz (John Perkins who started the Be the Change movement) so we had the fantastic James Wanless, creator of the Voyager Tarot, who has a great presentation style – easy-going, Californian, high-energy, witty and very knowledgeable; followed by Kirsten Buchholzer, President of the German Tarot Association, who revealed to us the power of an extremely evocative deck that was new to many of us – the Rohrig deck; then Petra Stam who has created a beautiful Moon Deck, and is the author of a number of illustrated books on the Goddess and Spirituality (in Dutch only unfortunately); then Agnes Ynetma-De Vries from the Buro Voor Tarot who gave her unique perspective on working with the Tarot, which included a dramatic tearing up of a Tarot card. (If only I could understand Dutch!)

The Magician, from the Rohrig deck

The Magician, from the Rohrig deck

Jurre Yntema, who organised the conference (and distributes the OBOD course in the Dutch, French and German languages) had kindly given me the last slot of the day – nice, because one tends to remember the last item in a series, but not nice since by now it was 4pm and we’d been indoors all day. The solution? Fresh air and exercise! In the evening sun we went outside and I took everyone through a movement-meditation series based on the first eight cards of the Major Arcana. Back inside we looked at the theme: When Psychotherapy meets the Tarot. Psychology met the Tarot a while back, and Jungian insights in particular have been well integrated into Tarot lore. But perspectives from psychotherapy do not seem to sit so comfortably, and this was the field I wanted us to explore together. I’ll post a write-up on this at some point…

Tarot Cult Activity in the Netherlands

Fresh air and exercise! Tarot Cult Activity in the Netherlands

“Go to Stonehenge Alone…”

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
Stonehenge c.1885

Stonehenge c.1885

Back from a thought-provoking Tarot conference in the Netherlands, and here at OBOD HQ we have just published the latest Mt Haemus paper. Every year, for the last fifteen years, we have given an award for a work of scholarly research into Druidry or a related subject, and this year the award goes to Dr Julia Farley for her study of the way archaeologists’ relationship to Druids and Druidry has changed over the years.

Julia has produced a very engaging paper, and I can’t resist a quote from it here! (I’ve removed the refs to make it easier to read. All refs given in full in the paper).

From: The Fifteenth Mt Haemus Lecture by Dr Julia Farley:

‘This is why the history of the discipline of archaeology is important. Archaeologists are not impartial, neutral observers, but people with personalities and personal motivations, enmeshed in the particular passions and politics of their own society. This is as true for archaeologists today as it was for Daniel and Piggott, as it was for Aubrey and Stukeley before them. We cannot, in telling the story of the past, remove the perspective of the storyteller.

In the years since Piggott and Daniel were writing, archaeology has changed. The ways we seek to understand the past, and the understanding of the nature of that exercise, have shifted. In 1963, Daniel lambasted Ross Nichols’ suggestion that people should (in Daniel’s words) “set aside the findings of archaeologists and historians and… go to Stonehenge alone and commune there so that the truth would seep into their minds”. The lived experience of being in the landscape, the social and emotional response to an artefact or site, were not seen as valid sources of information about the past.

More recently, new movements in archaeology which have their roots in the post-processual school of the 1980s and 1990s might suggest that archaeologists have something to learn from modern pagan engagements with the landscape. It is impossible to re-construct a prehistoric mind-set or worldview, and the landscape we find ourselves in today is hugely different to the one experienced by our ancestors, but it is crucial for archaeology to engage in alternative perspectives. In a debate on alternative archaeologies at a 1999 conference in Southampton, Richard Bradley, Professor of Archaeology at Reading University, expressed a dissatisfaction with modern ‘consumption’ of archaeological sites, which I think goes to the heart of Ross Nichols’ message to Daniel. Bradley suggested that we need to:

“get used to monuments, spend time with them, be patient with them, before insights arise. There is an analogy between our instant consumption of monuments like Stonehenge and the deficiencies of traditional archaeology; we have no patience. We have no patience as tourists and we have no patience as academics. It’s no good having forty-five minutes access to Stonehenge whether you pay or not. What you need is the possibility for spending a long time at it, of being able to look at it in different lighting conditions, for instance. And that goes for all monuments, not just Stonehenge. The health of the discipline as a whole depends on a change in mindset and the way we expect people to experience these sites.”

The experiential approach of engaging with the landscape as a mode for studying the lived experience of people in the past was quite new to archaeologists in the 1990s, but it was not so far removed from Nichols’ own suggestion, made nearly forty years earlier, and such experience-based work had long been a cornerstone of modern Druidic practice.’

Read the full paper here

The Long Barrow at All Cannings

Monday, October 13th, 2014
Tim Daw, Creator of The Long Barrow

Tim Daw, Creator of The Long Barrow

I have recently discovered an amazing project happening just outside the village of All Cannings in the magical and evocative landscape of the Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire. Farmer Tim Daw and his team have designed and built a traditional long barrow to house cremated remains. It has been built with an alignment to the Winter Solstice sunrise, when the sun with send a shaft of light into the internal stone passageway. Here is some more information from the project’s website:

Within the chalk mound there are five chambers arranged off the passageway that starts at the local Sarsen stone entrance, the original plans are for seven chambers, the other three may be added in the future.

The Long Barrow Passage

The Long Barrow Passage


The chambers, or columbaria, have niches built into the natural limestone walls. Each niche is about 600mm by 600mm and 400mm tall and is designed to be a family vault for the storage of cremated remains in urns. Depending on the size of the urns six to eight can be placed in each niche. The niches can be sealed with a memorial stone if required. There are also smaller niches for single and paired urns.

The long barrow is for anyone.  It is for those of any religion or none. The field it is in is being restored to native chalk grassland and will be kept as natural as possible for visitors to enjoy its beauty and solitude.

All Cannings lies within the Marlborough Downs area of outstanding natural beauty and is between Avebury and Stonehenge. This ancient landscape is renowned for its chalk downland and ancient history. The long barrow is designed to complement it and become part of it.




In recent years many people seem drawn to explore different ways to honour their loved ones after death, not only in the ceremonies that they use but also in the nature of committal. The Woodland Burial Movement has grown rapidly in popularity and The Long Barrow Project is a fascinating and very beautiful alternative for those who wish to be cremated. It is moving to think that for the first time in five millennia, the dead will be laid to rest in a barrow of this kind in a landscape that still speaks so strongly to us of our ancestors.

The barrow is a stunningly beautiful structure and there will be an opportunity to visit it as there will be an open morning at The Long Barrow between 10am-12pm on Saturday 25th October 2014. The project also has a Facebook page here with more wonderful photos and updates.

A Morning Dedication

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
Morning Sun Rays - Harald Hoyer

Morning Sun Rays – Harald Hoyer

…To remember
the other world
in this world
is to live in your
true inheritance…

You are not
a troubled guest
on this earth,
you are not an accident
amidst other accidents,
you were invited
from another and greater
than the one
from which
you have just emerged.

Now, looking through
the slanting light
of the morning
window toward
the mountain presence

of everything
that can be,
what urgency
calls you to your
one love? What shape
waits in the seed
of you to grow
and spread
its branches
against a future sky?

Is it waiting
in the fertile sea?
In the trees
beyond the house?
In the life
You can imagine
for yourself?
In the open
and lovely
white page
on the waiting desk?

~ David Whyte

Excerpt from ‘What to Remember When Waking’
From RIVER FLOW: New and Selected Poems (Many Rivers Press).

Working with the Sacred Plants of the Druid Tradition

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Just back from a great day at The Plant Consciousness Conference at Regent’s University in London. Here is a summary of my presentation with material added that I didn’t have time to include on the day.

What a stimulating day of talks we’ve had so far! I’d like to weave together some of the themes suggested by the previous speakers, so we can trace the threads that connect our presentations, which will make what I am about to say another piece of the mandala we have been building today.

Sir Julian Rose and John Perkins both spoke of our relationship with plants with an emphasis on activism – on what specific acts we can take to protect and preserve the biosphere. Julian focused on the soil and on our food, and our responsibilities towards these for our own health and the health of the planet. John talked about the way plants can heal us at a level of consciousness and of how we can influence policy-makers and corporations, because the people who run them also have grandchildren, and care about the future. From there we moved to Simon Powell’s presentation of the inherent intelligence of Nature which he convincingly argued is not recognised by science. The driving force of evolution is still considered to be without consciousness (‘blind’, as in Richard Dawkin’s book title ‘The Blind Watchmaker’) whereas Simon sees intelligence everywhere, and gave plenty of examples. Simon’s conception should not be confused with the idea of ‘Intelligent Design’ used by Creationists – his view does not necessitate the existence of an outside force guiding this intelligence. See his amazing film ‘Metanoia’ here.

After Simon, we had Tigrilla demonstrating the extraordinary research of the Damanhur Federation on plants’ ability to communicate. About ten potted plants were wired up on the stage and they sang to us. An amazing effect, that Tigrilla explained with reference to 40 years of research at Damanhur.

Then we had Pam Montgomery, who works with Plant Spirit Healing, who talked about our symbiotic relationship with plants.

So, looking at these presentations we can see how an appreciation of plants as living Beings, living Spirits, who give us life, who are magnanimous, is vital if we are then to communicate more effectively with them, to hear their music, their messages for us, so that we can recognize the inherent intelligence in Nature, and cooperate with it, rather than working against it, out of the ignorance and greed that has created the political and social problems we face today, which require the activism Julian and John urged us towards.

The bit I’d like to contribute is the way in which a spiritual practice rooted in Nature can be of  value – to resource us in activism, which can so easily engender despair and burn-out without spirituality; and to give us a means of more effectively being in communication with Nature and the resultant healing and deepening of awareness that this can produce. To read more, see the full text here.

Calling All Druids!

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

webpearlsAn invitation from Earth Web to all Druids:

‘Hail and blessings!

Earth Web is an international ceremony to protect the land from fracking. Your group is hereby invited to create your own contribution to this worldwide magickal working.

Our intent is to create a web of protection and empowerment across the globe. We invite you to work with your own landscape, to make the places you hold sacred part of a web that magickally protects the Earth and all of its people.

The cancer of fracking has spread to the four corners of the globe. Even if you are not living in an area affected, taking part in this event will help those who are. It has been fed back to us that, simply knowing people all around the world care enough to gather in this way, lights a beacon of hope in the hearts of those whose lives and health have been destroyed by these practices.

For instructions on how to get involved, please go here:

If you are in any way adding to the Earth Web, please join us on the Facebook Event page:

For more information about fracking and The Warrior’s Call, please go here:

Our Facebook page is here:

In conjunction with this global event, The Warrior’s Call will be holding a large-scale public ritual at Avebury stone circle in Britain. For more information about this event, please go here:

Please help create this global act of spiritual solidarity. Join this international wave of activity, and let’s make this – The Warrior’s Call’s third world ritual – the biggest event yet.

Blessings to you, blessings to your land,


Plant Consciouness Almost Here

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014


This weekend I will be contributing to the Plant Consciousness Conference in London.  My presentation will be
The Curriculum of Thirteen Moons – Working with the Sacred Plants of the Druid Tradition
Working with plants in a sacred or magical way lies at the heart of indigenous spiritualities and earth religions. Many of us are drawn to these ‘Old Ways’ because they combine a sense of deep spirituality with a love for the Earth and Her creatures.  Any sense we might have of being split between Spirit and Matter, Inner and Outer, the committed and the detached, even the mystical and the magical, can be healed when we work with solid, sensual beings – such as plants, animals and humans – in a sacred way.  A rich heritage of plant lore exists in Britain and we can trace this heritage at least as far back as the Bronze Age. In exploring these gifts we can discern at least thirteen ways in which to work with plants in a sacred manner as we follow the ‘Old Ways’.

To check out more about the conference and to book a ticket click here. It promises to be a great weekend!

There is an interview with me and the conference organiser, Davyd Farell, here, where you will also find some great interviews with  other contributors.