Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


The Wisdom of Birch Oak & Yew by Penny Billington

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

1512064_10203583932910282_8542002326105827904_oI don’t know about you, but I haven’t got time any more for those endless books on recycled occult lore that I devoured in earlier years. I like practical down-to-earth material that actually helps me grow and learn, and that’s why I like psychology. But I need magic too – I need to feel I am close to the Mystery that can never be explained, but which feeds my heart and soul.

Along comes Penny Billington’s latest book, The Wisdom of Birch, Oak & Yew, and here I find both the magic and the practical psychology. This is not a book of rehashed treelore gleaned from other books, but a fresh and innovative approach to working spiritually, emotionally and physically with trees. Penny takes the central Druid idea that trees are our brothers and sisters, a source of great healing and wisdom, and puts this idea to work in our daily lives so that we can start to change, heal and grow. And she starts by inviting us to consider a quotation from Einstein: ‘No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.’ With that as a starting point, we’re off on the journey, which Penny suggests can be followed at any pace you like, or perhaps over the course of nine months. The main thing is not to hurry through this book, but to savour it, and above all, to put its ideas into practice, to find the wisdom of Birch, Oak and Yew.
Find the book on Amazon UK
Find the book on Amazon USA


Druid Statements on the Environment Released 25 Years Ago

Saturday, July 4th, 2015

800px-Planet-earth-12035-12418-hd-wallpapersI have just finished writing the foreword to a collection of interviews with key figures in the Druid movement that has been put together by Ellen Evert Hopman. It’s due to be published later this year with the provisional title ‘A Legacy of Druids’. I rather like that – we have pods of dolphins, swarms of bees, and now legacies of Druids!

As I’ve been writing this, Pope Francis has spoken out about Climate Change, as has the Dalai Lama at the Glastonbury Festival – at the ‘spiritual centre of the event’, as the festival website describes the Peace Garden, with its stone circle built by Ivan McBeth, OBOD member and founder of the MODS (The Megalithic Order of Druids).

A member has asked me to make a statement about Climate Change too, but I think the world of Druidry is in an entirely different position to the two world religions represented by Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama. They have finally made these major position statements, whereas we’ve been taking this position since the late 1980’s.

I’ve written about this in my foreword to Ellen’s collection:

And Druidry’s legacy? It has become a vibrant alternative to the more mainstream religions and spiritualities – one which ironically may have been seen as an anachronism, but which has in reality proved itself to be more attuned to the current needs of humanity and the Earth than them all. As I write this, Pope Francis has just made a statement on the threat of climate change, and the Dalai Lama has also just spoken of it at the Glastonbury Festival. The Druids were warning us about this more than twenty-five years ago.

For those who would like to read a comprehensive statement that reflects the beliefs of probably all Druids and many others too, have a look here:  A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment:  And if you agree, do sign the statement as has the Order, and many of its members.

Apple Messes Up Again – Yosemite 10.10.4

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Like thousands of other people last night I accepted Apple’s latest upgrade – Yosemite 10.10.4 – in the hope that it might fix some of the problems Yosemite has given me. But no – instead it broke the link with gmail as others have found too.

What has happened to this company that receives a revenue higher than some entire nations? Cruel employment practices in China, where their sub-contractors assemble iphones, launching an operating system and updates that have major flaws?

If I was a graphic designer I’d draw their logo with a worm crawling out of it. They’ve lost so much customer loyalty in the last six months. I’ve started a petition to Apple’s CEO, so if you feel the same way, and want them to get their act together, please sign this petition.

Come to the One Tree Gathering 16 August

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

There’s an exciting event happening in August that Stephanie and I will be going to. It’s being held in the home of OBOD friends Keith & Fran Southall, whose Whitlenge Gardens you might have seen last week, featured in the first episode of Alan Titchmarsh’s new  series ‘Love Your Garden’. In this lovely setting, we are going to participate in a One Tree Gathering. There’ll be delicious food in fabulous surroundings, great food, good company and stimulating discussion. What more could you want on a day out in August?

Here’s the official announcement:

16 August – ICCS & OBOD WARMLY INVITE YOU to the fourth year of THE ONE TREE GATHERING: Celebrating and Exploring the Connections between Druidism and the Dharma held at Whitlenge Gardens, home of the Cornovii grove. In this weekend we will be bringing together members of the Druid community with members of the Dharmic community to share rituals, meditation, and maybe even songs, dances, stories and teachings. The theme will be exploring the commonalities of the ancient wisdom of our two belief systems to be relevant and of use in the 21st century. Talks by Philip Carr-Gomm and others. For more details: contact Keith on and go to for the venue. £20 pp (includes vegetarian lunch). Bookings: email

Have a look at Whitlenge Gardens here, and watch out for the labyrinth, stone circle and the Walk of the Gods!

New York will not be Fracked!

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Yesterday the fracking dream, or rather nightmare, died in the UK.

Today it has died in New York.

Time to raise a toast to all those who have fought so much to bring people to their senses! Some good news at last! :)


Albion will not be fracked! Today is the day the Fracking Dream Died

Monday, June 29th, 2015

From the Guardian today:

Be in no doubt, it is a seismic decision (that Cuadrilla cannot frack in Lancashire). Nine county councillors have defied the full-throated backing of David Cameron, well over £100m of spending from shale gas firm Cuadrilla and their own planning officers to reject plans for the UK’s first full-scale fracking.

Cuadrilla are near certain to appeal, but the nascent fracking industry in the UK may never recover from this blow. Councillors around the country will feel emboldened to stand up to the intense national pressure to back fracking. In the future, this may well be seen as the day the fracking dream died.

Read more

Carry on Camping!

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

Photo: Elaine from Wildways

A guest post from Steve Rumelhart:

In case you missed the article in Mays’ Touchstone, something wonderful is going to happen in a field in Oxfordshire this July: The ‘White Horse’ (formerly OBOD) Summercamp. Since February, a committed team, working in conjunction with White Horse Camps, have been endeavouring to put together a timetable full of scintillating speakers, amazing musicians, incredible artisans and barnstorming Bards to bring OBOD members and friends a Lughnasadh Camp to remember. Celebrating all we love about camps and drawing from the years of experience and the wealth of talented people OBOD Druidry seems to attract, we are calling this camp ‘A Harvest of Riches’.

Keith in pensive mood. Photo: Elaine of Wildways

Keith in pensive mood. Photo: Elaine of Wildways

Taking an unashamedly ‘retro’ approach, we are incredibly proud and honoured to announce speakers such as Philip & Stephanie Carr-Gomm, Prof. Ronald Hutton, Damh The Bard, Penny Billington, John & Caitlin Matthews, Philip Shallcrass and Susan & Jake Thomas. Musicians include; one of the above (can you guess which?), Kate & Corwen, Arthur Billington and an evening of ‘Celtic Vedism’ under a Full Moon with renown musician, producer and OBOD member Martin Glover on the final Friday (1st Aug) – wow! We have dedicated crafts people on hand throughout the week teaching such things as willow weaving, pole lathing, corn dolly making, stone carving and, logistics permitting, we will build an earth oven to bake our Lammas Loaf in for the Lughnassah ritual on the final Saturday (2nd Aug)..

As if that wasn’t enough, we have a dowsing workshop, the Dance of Life every morning, yoga, meditation, sacred singing with Basira Ward, an ‘Animal Quest’, herb lore and, if the Awen takes you, an African Drumming class with Tanya Sherriff and our very own ‘Djembe Djinny’ on offer too. We have a committed team running ‘Kids’ Space’ where lots of exciting things will happen throughout the week and there will also be for ‘Big’ kids and kids alike, a Super Hero themed Wide Game later in the week. Wandering Bards and Minstrels will ensure song, stories and silliness (my shamanic teacher once told me that ‘laughter is the best medicine’) along with spontaneous music making ‘mushrooming up’ all over the field.

“Enough!” You cry. “How can I relax?” Well… there will be a hot tub and sauna and the possibility of therapists offering their skills in things like Reiki, Shiatsu etc. and we’ve already mentioned the meditation. For those of you who want to go deeper still, there will be two ‘Dreamtimes’ on offer – Shamanic journeying where you come along, lay down and journey accompanied by waves of sound to facilitate your dreaming. I am particularly proud to say that one of these will be given by Bob Hillary and will be of particular interest to anyone who has ever ‘nodded off’ and journeyed to the music of ‘Pink Floyd’ and David Gilmours’ otherworldly guitar sounds. Maybe just sitting under the stars and staring into the flames of our central fire is more your thing as the day comes to a close? There will also be accomplished Order members on hand offering Bardic, Ovate and Druid Groves and initiations should you require one (please mention this when booking). I am sure there will be a few other surprises cropping up too as you catch up with old friends and make some new.

Photo: Elaine of Wildways

Photo: Elaine of Wildways

Is there a catch?  Yes. You have to be there to enjoy all of this and bookings close on July 8th 2015 as our lovely caterers need to order in the food (did I mention all meals are included in the ticket price?). We really want to make this a special week for lots of reasons and we cannot do this without you so, dust down your Didgeridoos and Djembes, pack your tents and ‘tat’ and raid your dressing up box: Bring your arts and crafts to sell at our ‘Bizarre Bazaar’ on the final weekend and unwanted ‘magical paraphenalia’ for the ‘Great Giveaway’ on the same day and get over to for further information and bookings. See you there Friday 24th July – Sunday 3rd August 2015.

Tarot Therapy Deck

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

The Tarot Therapy Deck Front CoverHaving helped to create a Tarot deck, I am always interested to see how others approach the job, and I’ve spent many hours poring over dozens of different deck designs – either at the home of friends in the Netherlands who run a Tarot institute, or in those wonderful four volumes of Stuart Kaplan’s Tarot Encyclopaedia.

Recently I came across a deck that takes a unique approach that makes a lot of sense – especially to a Druid! It is Steve Hounsome’s Tarot Therapy Deck, which is based on the idea that the Tarot can be used as a therapeutic tool, and that each card conveys an energy or stimulates a certain energy or quality. From this premise, Steve has brought his love of Nature to bear (he’s a Druid and a mentor in OBOD) and each card depicts a scene from Nature that illustrates the quality or energy he believes that arcanum is conveying. Below are two cards to give you an idea. The deck you order directly from Steve’s website, which gives plenty of support if you want to work with his ideas. The book can be ordered from him or from Amazon, and through its 437 pages it also offers plenty of encouragement to start using his deck, combining the forces of Nature with the power of the Tarot to effect transformation and healing.

Earth 9 Harvest9 Aurora

Give Up Watching the News

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Until about the age of 45 I watched the 10pm TV news religiously every night. I thought it anchored me in ‘reality’ and gave me a sense of being connected to the world. But at a certain moment I felt I was caught in a recurring loop. The news wasn’t ‘new’ at all – it was ‘old': it was always the same. We were always worried about the economy, always shocked by ‘man’s inhumanity to man’, the same appalling atrocities being enacted, sometimes here sometimes there. I felt as if each night I was re-watching material I had seen before. A friend started a newspaper ‘Positive News’ because she felt the same way, and every so often we have bought a bulk supply and sent them out in OBOD mailings.

I stopped watching or listening to the news each day from that moment all those years ago, and what a relief it has been! I might occasionally watch it on TV but this is no longer a habit – the illusion that it keeps me ‘informed’ has been dispelled.  I still sometimes check the BBC News webpage or look at attempts at analysis – such as the material on the amazing website

I could explain more reasons for dropping the daily ‘News-fix’ of radio, TV or newspapers, and the benefits that have resulted, but instead have a look at Rolf Dobelli’s recent Guardian article which explains brilliantly why we should all consider reducing our news intake. I’ll give a few quotes from his article then a link to the whole piece:

“We are not rational enough to be exposed to the press. Watching an airplane crash on television is going to change your attitude toward that risk, regardless of its real probability. If you think you can compensate with the strength of your own inner contemplation, you are wrong. Bankers and economists – who have powerful incentives to compensate for news-borne hazards – have shown that they cannot. The only solution: cut yourself off from news consumption entirely.”

News is toxic to your body. It constantly triggers the limbic system. Panicky stories spur the release of cascades of glucocorticoid (cortisol).”

News increases cognitive errors. News feeds the mother of all cognitive errors: confirmation bias. In the words of Warren Buffett: “What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.” News exacerbates this flaw.”

News inhibits thinking. Thinking requires concentration. Concentration requires uninterrupted time. News pieces are specifically engineered to interrupt you. They are like viruses that steal attention for their own purposes. News makes us shallow thinkers.”

News works like a drug. As stories develop, we want to know how they continue. With hundreds of arbitrary storylines in our heads, this craving is increasingly compelling and hard to ignore.”

“In the past few decades, the fortunate among us have recognised the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) and have started to change our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern our lives and don’t require thinking. That’s why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind. Today, we have reached the same point in relation to information that we faced 20 years ago in regard to food. We are beginning to recognise how toxic news can be…”  Rolf Dobelli

Read the full article here.

Beyond Literalism – Engaging With The Spiritual Power of Myth

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015