Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

 

Pilgrim on Horseback

Monday, April 27th, 2015
Caro with Tommy

Caro with Tommy

In five days Caro Woods will start an 800 mile journey on horseback from the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland, to St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall to raise money for the Riding for the Disabled Association. Caro explains that as well as being a fund raising it is a journey of Pilgrimage:

By linking these two Holy Islands, I hope to create a spiritual thread between them, and in the process, possibly reconnect with an ancient pilgrim route. I plan to ride a horse from the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland, near the Scottish border, to St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall.  A journey spanning the breadth of England, creating a spiritual thread uniting the far NE shore to the SW corner of this country and linking two Holy Islands in the process. In travelling between these sacred places one not only refreshes one’s own spirit but assists in the work of reviving the latent spirit of the earth.  

It will also unite the church dedicated to St Mary on Lindisfarne with the church on St. Michael’s Mount, so-called after the vision of St. Michael first appeared on top of the Mount to a group of fisherman in the bay below, in 495 AD.  Before I knew about this connection between the churches on these Holy Islands, these two Saints already held a special meaning for me.  The Mary / Michael Pilgrim route is a spiritual ley line that links Carn Les Boel in Cornwall with Hopton in Norfolk, and one that I have walked various Western sections of at different times in 2014 (as well as the St Michael’s Way in Cornwall which forms the Cornish section of the Santiago de Compostela Pilgrim Route). The spiritual energy of these two Saints are quite different and distinctive in their own ways, the ‘Mary’ energy being a more gentle and benign version of the ‘Michael’ energy.  Both have become important elements of this journey.  We shall join the M/M Pilgrim Route when we reach Glastonbury where we shall trace its curving, serpent path back to St Michael’s Mount, our destination in Cornwall.

This journey on horseback will be a personal pilgrimage.  In this, my 60th year, each days’ ride will be a celebration of each year of my life.  The aim is to create a body of work which explores the nature of long distance travel with a horse, as a form of meditation, reflection and personal transformation, as well as raising funds towards the important and valuable work of the RDA.  

Caro is keeping a Blog about her journey that you can find here, and if you would like to make a contribution please visit her my donate page.

 

Underworld & Archetypes

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

underworld and archetypes

A Review of James Bennett’s Underworld & Archetypes by Maria Ede-Weaving…

Mythological journeys to the Underworld exist in many different cultures. Their recurrence suggests their importance and necessity with regard to human experience. Psychotherapist James Bennett explores this subject in his book Underworld & Archetypes.

Having a deep love and fascination for the descent and ascent of Persephone in Greek Mythology, I was delighted to have the opportunity to review this book. I have long-held the belief that these stories of Underworld journeys, although on one level are metaphors for seasonal changes, also speak much about our own moments of crisis. I resonated wholeheartedly with the book’s message that despite the pain and struggle that accompany such dark and difficult psychological descents, there is a deep value in the process with much to be gained.

James’ book is written in three sections. The first deals with Western Culture’s problematic fixation with transcendence; inherent in this obsession is the valuing of heaven above the earthly realms. This troubling polarisation has led to a perception of the material worlds of earth, underworld and body as inferior, flawed and even evil. James explores the psychological impetus that drives this split between spirit and matter, and illustrates how this unhealthy dissociation from the earthly realms severs us from our deepest sources of wisdom and growth. The second section examines the myths of descent and reveals how these can be useful tools in encouraging us to positively engage with our own times of loss, grief and change. The third section entitled ‘The Space Between’, discusses the importance of liminality in human experience; how change and transition are a constant factor in life. James reminds us that these liminal places are fertile with potential; thresholds where the known substance of our being – our understanding of the world and self – can dissolve and reform, triggering profound transformation and growth.

James’ book will resonate with many on the Druid path. Druidry seeks to heal the split between spirit and matter, and the intimate connection Druidry fosters with the earth and its seasonal changes allows us to recognise that death and the descent are crucial to renewal and growth, whether it be in the natural world or within our own psyches.

James Bennett

James Bennett

A psychotherapist of many years’ experience, it is clear that James understands deeply our reticence to trust in this challenging process – there is nothing romantic or fun about pain and suffering – however, this great little book is both a useful signpost and a source of reassurance, suggesting that we are well-equipped for the journey, that the descent is a core part of our humanity and an experience we will all share.

Underworld and Archetypes is short in length but massive in wisdom. James Bennett writes with clarity and insight about a complex and intriguing subject. It is a perfect introduction to anyone unfamiliar with these fascinating myths and how they might serve to guide and enlighten our path. It is also an inspiring read for those veterans of the Underworld amongst us who know the myths and have the lived the journey but might need an encouraging reminder of its gifts. With a fascinating Bibliography and some lovely illustrations, Underworld and Archetypes is an enjoyable read I highly recommend.

Jonathan Black in London

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

622_imageThat mysterious man Jonathan Black, author of The Secret History of the World, and The Sacred History,  is making a rare public appearance at the London Wellbeing Festival at Earl’s Court on Sunday 3rd May. He’s giving a workshop which sounds fascinating: ‘How to Live in a Supernatural Universe’ and you can see details here.

Read about him here. I interviewed Jonathan last year for Druidcast and you can hear that here. And below is a video introducing his book The Sacred History:

‘Love is All that Matters’ Russell Brand

Friday, April 17th, 2015

‘Seek Meadows’ – In Praise of Howard Campbell

Thursday, April 16th, 2015
Eimear Burke & Howard Campbell at Dinas Emrys May 2014

Eimear Burke & Howard Campbell at Dinas Emrys May 2014

Stephanie and I have just got back from attending the wake in Ireland of Howard Campbell, co-founder of the Kilkenny Druidry College. The love and support surrounding his wife Eimear and their family, from their friends, neighbours and fellow Druids was tangible and profound. Three Castles Rectory, their home and the centre for the College, was filled with warmth and colour, and both the wake and the funeral were held there – with Howard’s grave dug by his children in the small private graveyard that lies by the ruins of the old church beside the house. Howard and Eimear came to the OBOD retreat last year, and we all loved the gentle wisdom and playful joy that emanated from Howard – whether he was discussing Aristotle, reciting a poem, or listening intently. He was a GP, psychotherapist and psychiatrist, who was appointed to set up and develop the Child and Family Consultation Service in Ireland, and he was a Druid and a poet too. Howard will be greatly missed by all who knew him, but he will be remembered with joy through his poetry and writing. Just weeks before he died, he finished two books – ‘On the Trail of Love’ – to be published shortly – and a collection of poetry entitled ‘Darkness Shades So Light Can Be’ which is now available from the Kilkenny Druidry College. Here is a poem from that collection:

Seek Meadows Where Desire Feeds
after Sappho

Leave constricted ways — be as you are
Come to the ease of your full beauty
Rest in the apple orchard of your wild spirit

Grow fresh wild ways in cool moon air
Push love’s roots down deep in the shadow of your
soil
Dream with your fallen leaves sleeping in the earth

Seek meadows where desire feeds
Become the wild May bloom
Waft the allure of your honeyed scent

Medbh take nectar of ease — delicately pour
Fill the beauty of her cup
Mingle
Joy
With
Celebration

Howard Campbell

The WoodHenge Carvings

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

Mother-and-Child-3The WoodHenge carvings are a stunning group of sculptures by Irish artist Veronica Sexton. There are nine figures in the series: Celtic Cross; Human Butterfly; Lady of Light; Male and Female; Mother and Child; Mother Earth; Return to Source; Rising Goddess and Tree of Life.

The carvings took Veronica six years to complete and each contains a wealth of spiritual symbolism from many different cultures. They are all an impressive 3 to 4 metres in height, beautifully carved and decorated with crystals, stones, rocks, glass, painted fabric and 24 carat gold-leaf guilding. Tree-of-Life-4

If you visit the WoodHenge Carvings website you will find photos of the sculptures fabulous details with videos about each figure that explain the creative process and symbolism used. I include here a short film of Veronica speaking about her work. Human-Butterfly-7

Rambles Into Sacred Realms

Monday, April 13th, 2015

KRISHNAN_RAMBLES_COVER_FRONTKrish V. Krishnan has produced a wonderful book entitled Rambles into Sacred Realms: Journeys in Pen and Paint.

As the title suggests, the book is a travel journal of both words and images inspired by the author’s own encounters with Sacred Sites around the world, from Stonehenge to Angkor, Delphi to Petra and more. There are twelve beautifully written and illustrated chapters, each exploring a specific site. Krishnan describes these as,

…distillations of my artwork, travel writings, and moments of personal insight, all documenting my travels over a period of thirty years. I’ve lived in these cultures, imbibed their legends and languages, and engaged the services of expert local guides to help me better comprehend and appreciate native perspectives on what makes these places and their experiences so special.

Krish works in a number of mediums: acrylic, watercolour, pastels, pencil and ink, and all convey an intimacy with the spirit of place. You get a real sense of his emotional engagement with these extraordinary sites and because of this, the veil of distance – both topographical and cultural – is lifted on each; they appear deeply familiar, as if the reader is being shown images of magical places once visited many years ago, still vibrant in the memory.

The written encounters that accompany each chapter are also a delight, communicating well how such external pilgrimages can trigger encounters with our own inner worlds. Krish’s words and images are a testament of how these unique places can inspire thoughts and feelings that lead to special insights; the kind of emotional and spiritual shifts that unexpectedly bless us when we are touched by the Sacred in the world.

Krish’s book is available now from his website and Amazon

Krish V. Krishnan is an Author, Artist and Traveller.
Twitter: @kvkrishnan

I Choose to Inhabit my Days

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

500px-Goiaba_vermelha‘Fully Alive’ A beautiful poem by the extraordinary poet Dawna Markova

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

Dawna Markova

Think More, Believe and Know Less?

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
Rodin's 'Thinker'

Rodin’s ‘Thinker’

Yesterday I put up a bit of a script from a BBC drama which has provoked some heart-felt comments both here on the blog and on my Facebook page. These got me thinking. Watching the drama on TV with Stephanie we both found the exchange between the two women extremely moving. One woman comforts another woman after a stillbirth by saying that souls want to get to heaven and just need the ‘stepping stone’ of a mum for a brief while. It’s important to know the context. It’s the 18th century – the vicar’s wife has lost her baby. She’s worried that the baby’s soul will not get to heaven because it hasn’t been baptised. The words she hears offer her a completely different way of understanding what has happened. It is a relief and a comfort to her to think her loss might be meaningful – even helpful – rather than meaningless and possibly dangerous for her child’s soul – condemning it to purgatory. Steph and I don’t happen to ‘believe’ either theory – the conventional Christian one or this new take on the soul’s journey. We also – of course – don’t ‘know’ whether either view might actually be correct. Nevertheless it got us thinking and feeling.

One of the things I have realized from posting this excerpt, is how much I prefer to think rather than try to believe or feel I know something. The following example may resonate with you: when you start to research a particular subject, you first of all have that wonderful sense of starting to know more about the topic. But then, if you keep going, you can often seem to start going into reverse – the more you learn, the more you discover competing explanations, new research that contradicts earlier assumptions, and so on. The gift is wonder, and hopefully humility, the risk is confusion or despair! Of course there are ‘facts’ you can discover and hold on to, like rafts floating in the ocean, but even these can be overturned years later by new findings.

The Jain theory of knowledge, Anekant, which states that we cannot absolutely know anything, and instead must be open to ‘multiple viewpoints’, seems sensible to me. Some people say they ‘know’ when what they really mean is that they think or feel, or have an intuition – but by saying they ‘know’ with utter conviction, they confer the status of absolutism on an event in their awareness which is subject to change. It closes the door on the Mystery, the possibility of other options and interpretations. So much for knowing!

And believing? Is belief really necessary? I tried to write about this briefly on my website and annoyingly it is on a page which doesn’t have a URL – but if you go here and click the little arrow on the right, hey presto it will slide sideways and ‘Opening to the Mystery’ will appear!

Reframing Miscarriage & Stillbirth

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

In the BBC drama Banished, a way of seeing a deeper and positive purpose behind an event which we usually see as deeply sad is proposed. Rather than understanding miscarriages and stillbirths as negative or tragic, Anne – an Irish convict in an Australian penal colony in the eighteenth century – reassures vicar’s wife Mrs Johnson, who has lost many babies after giving birth:

Anne: Tell me what you want to know?
Mrs Johnson: Everything that might help me.
Anne: There are not just the living and the dead, Mrs Johnson. There is the world of the unborn. Millions of souls waiting millions of years to pass on to the Kingdom of Heaven. To them, the unborn, this life is nothing. It is a river they must cross to reach the other side, to reach the Kingdom of Heaven. So they want this life, this river to be as short as possible. To the unborn, a woman like you is heaven-sent. You give birth to them, they die within minutes, and before they know, they are with the angels in Heaven. For the unborn you are the ideal mother, Mrs Johnson, and your children are eternally grateful. Do not grieve or blame yourself in any way. Instead, Mrs Johnson, rejoice! Is that not comforting?
Mrs Johnson: Yes. But it is heresy Anne.
Anne: To say the Earth is round was heresy once.

I’m aware this is an extremely sensitive issue, and ‘cold’ on the page it seems less powerful, but when viewed on television as a conversation between two women, Stephanie and I found it deeply moving – perhaps because it radically reframes an event which is so upsetting. It’s a provocative idea, and may raise more questions than it answers, but if reframing comforts, does it need to be ‘True’?