Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Two Swans on the Arun

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

Every summer for five years or so years I used to celebrate the summer solstice with an ex-Vicar General of the Roman Catholic church, Tim Firth.  Sadly Tim has died, but I was so glad he contacted me all those years ago, saying “I have a beautiful oak tree in our garden and I’d love to hold solstice ceremonies there.” By that time he had left the church and was ‘of no fixed abode’ as he light-heartedly called his spiritual path. The oak was magnificent and stood just where the river Arun took an almost right-angle turn through his garden. Tim and his wife Elisabeth invited friends each time, and we had a talk and discussion, with tea and cakes after the ritual. Here is a beautiful song that reminds me of those times, written for and performed on the bowed psaltery by Philippa Anne Reed, and inspired by watching a swan pair swimming on the River Arun, near Arundel, West Sussex.

The King is Dead – Long Live the King!

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016
LtoR: John Michael Greer, Dwina Murphy-Gibb, Gordon Cooper at the Prebendal, Oxfordshire, June 2003

LtoR: John Michael Greer, Dwina Murphy-Gibb, Gordon Cooper at the Prebendal, Oxfordshire, June 2003

John Michael Greer, the prolific author on magical subjects, Druidry and the environment (see his magnificent Archdruid Report) has announced that he will no longer be leading the Ancient Druid Order in America. He wrote at the Winter Solstice: “Yes, I’ve resigned as Grand Archdruid of AODA, effective today. I’m staying a member of the order, of course, with the slightly less fanciful title of archdruid emeritus, but the big chair and the funny hat are going to my sucessor, former Archdruid of the West Gordon Cooper. Why? Partly it’s because the order these days has no shortage of people who are at least as capable of guiding it as I am, and someone else ought to have the fun for a change. Partly it’s because I’m tolerably familiar with my own strengths and weaknesses as a leader, and my judgment is that the order will benefit more at this point in its history from another hand on the tiller. Partly, though, it’s a personal matter….” Read more here.

John Michael wants to focus on his writing, various new projects and on leading the other Druid group he started, the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn.

John Michael will be sorely missed at AODA I’m sure, but I’m sure we’ll still be hearing plenty more from him. I love his wide-ranging knowledge and his sense of humour. To get an idea of these qualities see his book Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush: The Best of the Archdruid Report.

And with a toast to John Michael as the outgoing Chief, let us raise our glasses again, but this time to toast the new Chief: Gordon Cooper, a member like JM of OBOD, our one-time archivist and author of one of the most popular essays in the OBOD library: Wildcrafting the Modern Druid.

Gordon Cooper is a wonderfully erudite scholar and life-time student of the magical. His current interests sound fascinating, and you can read about them here on his blog.

Gordon and JM both received Mt Haemus awards which you can access here and I’ll paste into this post a photo I took of John Michael and Gordon with Dwina Murphy-Gibb, our Patroness, at her home in Oxfordshire. Congratulations to John Michael for having led the AODA so successfully and congratulations to Gordon for taking on the role!

Of Love & Reading…

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016


…There is perhaps an important connection between love and reading, there is perhaps a comparable pleasure offered by both…A feeling of connection may be at the root of it. There are books that speak to us, no less eloquently—but more reliably—than our lovers. They prevent the morose suspicion that we do not fully belong to the human species, that we lie beyond comprehension. Our embarrassments, our sulks, our feelings of guilt, these phenomena may be conveyed on a page in a way that affords us with a sense of self-recognition. The author has located words to depict a situation we thought ourselves alone in feeling, and for a few moments, we are like two lovers on an early dinner date thrilled to discover how much they share (and unable to touch much of the seafood linguine in front of them, so busy are they fathoming the eyes opposite), we may place the book down for a second and stare at its spine with a wry smile, as if to say, “How lucky I ran into you.” 

~ Alain de Botton


'Home', a book igloo held together by natural forces, created by Columbian artist Miler Lagos.

‘Home’, a book igloo held together by natural forces, created by Columbian artist Miler Lagos.


Blessings of the Season!

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Imbolc snowdrops

Wishing everyone much inspiration and joy this Imbolc! And for all our friends in the Southern Hemisphere, have an abundant and happy Lughnasadh!Lughnasadh wheat and poppy


A Witch Bottle, Lucky Charms & Hag Stones – Just another day in London

Thursday, January 28th, 2016
Tom Crowley and Owen Daves open the box...

Tom Crowley and Owen Davies open the box…

Museums or exhibitions seem to be a theme for us in OBOD at the moment. A while back I was asked to make suggestions for a Druid museum in Brittany, and then the same request came up from The Museum of British Folklore. Then there was (and still is!) the British Museum’s Celts: Arts & Identity exhibition, with its surprise in the last cabinet of the exhibition (sample cards from The Druid Animal Oracle and The DruidCraft Tarot). Then the Whitechapel Gallery were in touch, in relation to their Kibbo Kift Intellectual Barbarians exhibition (Ross Nichols, the founder of OBOD was in frequent contact with the Kibbo Kift’s founder John Hargrave). It hasn’t stopped there. We have been asked by the Doreen Valiente Foundation to contribute displays for an exhibition at Preston Manor in Brighton entitled “Folklore, Magic and Mysteries: Modern Witchcraft & Folk Culture in Britain” which runs from April to November this year. And more recently we were contacted by Tom Crowley, one of the curators of the Horniman Museum in London (which has interesting Golden Dawn connections through Annie Horniman and Mathers) to meet with others to examine and discuss their collection of amulets, which they plan to put on permanent display in two years’ time. Steph and I hopped on the train yesterday and soon we were in a huge sealed warehouse on an industrial estate in Greenwich, examining the collection. We were there with Tom Crowley, Owen Davies – prof at Herts university and author of excellent books on magic: his Popular Magic: Cunning-folk in English History is the best resource you can find on Cunning Folk and was invaluable to me when researching The Book of English Magic. His Magic – A Very Short Introduction is brilliant. Ollie Douglas from The Museum of English Rural Life was with us, alongside two post-graduate students working on fascinating projects:

A witch bottle that proved it was genuine when the contents (urine) were analysed

A witch bottle that proved it was genuine when the contents (urine) were analysed

responses to Apotropaic objects (don’t know what they are? Surely not! :) and a research project with UCL sending people into hypnotic states then getting them to hold museum artefacts and report the images and sensations that come to them (à la psychometry). Here are some photographs of what we found in that treasure-trove of a warehouse.

Stephanie holding up a wand or perhaps riding crop - nobody knows...

Stephanie holding up a wand or perhaps riding crop – nobody knows…










Sisters by RoMa Johnson

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

On the Order’s website we have a section for material on the creative meeting of Druidry with different faiths and practices. You can find it here. In it there are articles on Druidry and the Dharmic Traditions, Druidry & Wicca, Druidry & Naturism, and Druidry & Christianity. We begin that last section with a beautiful poem – ‘Jesus & Merlin’, by RoMa Johnson, followed by a note from the novelist Barbara Erskine, who writes about how her study of Druidry deepened her appreciation of Christianity. Now RoMa has sent in another poem, ‘Sisters’, following the same theme as her earlier poem. We have added it to the page and you can find it here. Here is how it begins, to whet your appetite:


What if they were to meet
In the cloistered garden, there on Iona,
What would they say to one another?
+    I am the Bride of Christ.
I am the bride of no man.
+    I clothe myself in humility and walk in silence.
I paint my naked body and scream into the wind.
+    I do good works.
I carry a wee knife.
+    I spend most precious hours here among the sacred texts.
I read the ogham of trees, the placement of stars, the auguries of birds.

Read the full poem here.

The Refugee Crisis, Climate Change and Terrorism

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016


A number of shops in our home town of Lewes in Sussex are showing posters in their windows which feature a photograph of someone, and then under the heading ‘The Gift of the Refugee’ is a brief summary of their life and what they have brought to Britain as a gift. The refugees are from all over – Nazi Germany, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe. It’s a clever idea – it turns on its head this idea that refugees will take something from us – our benefits, food, territory – and we read about the contributions they make – the surgeon from Syria, the writer from Africa and so on. On someone’s window there’s a picture of the Dalai Lama with the caption “I am a refugee.”

Several friends in the town have made collections of food, blankets and tents, and have gone over to France to bring them to the camps. One of them – the talented musician and composer Dirk Campbell – has just published an article revealing his thoughts about the crisis, about where we stand in relation to it, and about its relationship to those other worrying issues: climate change and terrorism.

Dirk has a wonderfully incisive mind – he cuts through to the heart of things in his conversation, and he applies this same talent to these issues. He writes: “to focus on terrorism while ignoring climate change is like trying to eliminate clothes moths when your house is about to collapse from rot. It is clearly the lesser problem, though it may appear more immediate and manageable.

Even in Paris, which suffered two terrorist outrages in 10 months, you are far more likely to die from overeating, atmospheric pollution or crossing the road than from a terrorist attack. And, as extreme weather events increase in frequency and food supplies dwindle, you will be more likely to die from climate change. Yet governments seize on terrorism. Why? If you want the real reason, as the saying goes, follow the money. The terrorist threat creates jobs and exports, selling munitions to corrupt governments who want to kill and displace their dissidents. And I would add, follow the psychology. The terrorist threat is easy to understand and makes people put faith in the government, which makes them easier to control. The climate change threat is hard to understand and nobody really believes the government can do anything about it anyway.”

And as regards the refugee crisis, the main focus of his piece, he writes: “To sit in comfort while people in other parts of the world are suffering and dying has always made many of us in the affluent West uneasy, but now those people are not just in other parts of the world, they are coming here. And we have hardly seen the start of it. There are two options: keep them out, or let them in.”  Read the article to find out the solution Dirk proposes.

Fear a’ Bhàta

Monday, January 25th, 2016


Capercaillie performing the wistful Fear a’ Bhàta (The Boatman) recorded at The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow for Celtic Connections.

Composed in the late 18th Century by Jane Finlayson of Tong, Lewis for a young Uig fisherman, Donald MacRae.

Boatman, o ho ro eile
Boatman, o ho ro eile
Boatman, o ho ro eile
A fond farewell wherever you go

I often look from the highest hill
To try and see the boatman
Will you come today or tomorrow
If you don’t come at all I will be downhearted

My heart is broken and bruised
With tears often flowing from my eyes
Will you come tonight or will I expect you
Or will I close the door with a sad sigh?

I often ask people on boats
Whether they see you or whether you are safe
Each of them says
That I was foolish to fall in love with you.

Ancient Roots of Stories Detected

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

Cinderella_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_19993A key idea in modern-day Druidry is that some of the old stories contains keys to our understanding and development that have been buried within them for thousands of years.  Here the BBC reports on new research that confirms this idea:

Fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast can be traced back thousands of years, according to researchers at universities in Durham and Lisbon.

Using techniques normally employed by biologists, academics studied links between stories from around the world and found some had prehistoric roots.

They found some tales were older than the earliest literary records, with one dating back to the Bronze Age.

The stories had been thought to date back to the 16th and 17th Centuries.

Durham University anthropologist Dr Jamie Tehrani, said Jack and the Beanstalk was rooted in a group of stories classified as The Boy Who Stole Ogre’s Treasure, and could be traced back to when Eastern and Western Indo-European languages split more than 5,000 years ago.

Analysis showed Beauty And The Beast and Rumpelstiltskin to be about 4,000 years old.

And a folk tale called The Smith And The Devil, about a blacksmith selling his soul in a pact with the Devil in order to gain supernatural abilities, was estimated to go back 6,000 years to the Bronze Age.

Read more

Interpreting Celtic Art

Thursday, January 21st, 2016
Alice Roberts

Alice Roberts

A lovely event is happening at the British Museum tomorrow: ‘Interpreting Celtic Art’. Dr Alice Roberts will be in conversation with the Museum’s Celts: Art & Identity exhibition curator Julia Farley. Alice Roberts is the writer and co-presenter of the BBC series The Celts and the accompanying book The Celts: Search for a Civilisation; she and Julia will be discussing the legacy of Celtic Art.

Julia Farley

Julia Farley

The Celts

Friday 22 January 2016,
BP Lecture Theatre
Tickets £5
Members/Concessions £3
Book online