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" If the world is a tree,

we are the blossoms "

Novalis

Breath

July 26th, 2016
Andrew Evans

Andrew Evans

Breath

by J. Daniel Beaudry

Tree, gather up my thoughts
like the clouds in your branches.
Draw up my soul
like the waters in your root.

In the arteries of your trunk
bring me together.
Through your leaves
breathe out the sky.

Beth Moon

Beth Moon

Diamond Cutters

July 25th, 2016

Diamond Cutters

My friend Jay Ramsay has put together – with Andrew Harvey – a wonderful poetry anthology entitled Diamond Cutters: Visionary Poets in America, Britain and Oceania. Jay says about the work,

‘We specified a visionary and mystical context for it, including poets from both America and Britain, and reaching back to earlier 20th C. poets like David Gascoyne and Kathleen Raine who are in this tradition.’

The Publishers notes explains the anthology’s focus:

Why is poetry important, even essential, for us now ? And what part does it have to play in the wider culture of our time ?

Answering this question is what has given rise to this anthology at this time.

Poetry has always held both the stories and the consciousness of the tribe, reaching deep into what we know as the Oral Tradition—and as Julian Jaynes suggests in his extraordinary book The Origins of the Bicameral Mind about language and prophecy, for longer than prose. Poetry and music both speak to the same part of the brain, which actually (as recent neuroscientific research has indicated) is a different part of the brain that prose speaks to. It is the lyrical, of course, and also the imaginal. It is the imagination, which gives rises to vision, which is central and a stake here. As the saying goes-

‘Without a vision, the people perish’

May you find its secret song, its light and fire, in these pages. Fulcrum of diamond, balancing between each thing and thing, space each thing must evince, we cannot track you, but infer you, since you are the means by which all things are seen, pouring now, overbrimming, into this measuring this, this, on your weightlessness.

Diamond Cutters is published by ‘Smooth Stones Press’ which is the poetry imprint of Tayen Lane, a fabulous press with some really interesting and beautifully designed titles.

Books Availability:
Diamond Cutters Softcover (978-1-944505-39-4) $34.99

Diamond Cutters Hardcover (978-0-9964184-2-3) $24.99

Diamond Cutters is available for purchase in United States, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, the EU, Russia, Brazil, Japan and a number of other countries with accessibility to Nielsen’s BookNet Online Order Service. (any enquiries: lisa@tayenlane.com).

Celtic Vedic

July 24th, 2016

-1With the Fifth Annual One Tree Gathering Happening on 20-21 August, it’s fitting that a new album has arrived which expresses the theme of the gathering in musical terms: Celtic Vedic’s first album Dub Trees. Here’s a snippet from a review: “The premise of the title is that two different cultures, ancient Irish & Scottish, can be wedded to Indian & Hindu forms. At first reading this concept might seem incongruous. But upon hearing the finished results you will be left wondering why no one thought of this musical and cultural cross-pollination earlier. Set opener “Return to the River Ganges” is a musical mission statement par excellence. Initially there’s a quiet tableaux featuring exotic bird calls, a gentle caress of water, a slow cinematic build & then a sitar rings out and an eerie drone acquiesces to a languid, sonorous bass line. This lifts us up and carries us spellbound into the song proper….” Read whole review

And come to the One Tree Gathering! (click on image to enlarge it)
OneTree2016

Nameless

July 20th, 2016
J.Ashton

J.Ashton

Nameless

How to speak of it:
the bramble path to the heart,
the wind as it rolls flat all that
grew in the sweet fields of May.
As we cut away the dead branches
small green whiskers grow out
in such unexpected places.
The season of bread and sorrow
fast approaches. Lughnasadh
casts a shadow in the hot and golden
fields of summer, where cicadas thrum.
Unspeakable how, the Moon, as she rises
catches the light of the run away Sun,
who lies hidden beneath the earth.

~ Sarah Fuhro

Image by Chad Powell

Image by Chad Powell

Zen For Druids

July 15th, 2016

zen-for-druids-front-cover

A review by Maria Ede-Weaving of Zen For Druids – A Further Guide to Integration, Compassion and Harmony with Nature by Joanna van der Hoeven

I am a massive fan of Joanna van der Hoeven’s books. They are wonderfully accessible whilst still conveying a depth and clarity that helps the reader to really connect with the wisdom of the subject. Her latest offering does just that. ‘Zen For Druids’ is a companion to her earlier work ‘Zen Druidry, exploring Zen Buddhism and Druidry by illustrating how these spiritual paths can complement one another in practice.

The book is written in five parts. The first explores Druidry and the Dharma giving an excellent overview of Buddhism’s Three Treasures; The Four Noble Truths; The Five Precepts; The Eightfold Path and The Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts and how these relate to Druid philosophy.

The second part takes us through the Pagan Wheel of the Year and how Zen Buddhism can enrich the understanding and honouring of these festivals. Joanna includes some really useful tips at the end of each festival section, with ideas to deepen your experience of each.

Part three focuses on Meditation; part four on Mindfulness and part five on Integration, each section helping to both explain the underlying spiritual meaning of these practices whilst giving practical advice, exercises and encouragement. I particularly enjoyed the section on Integration where the author writes beautifully about Awen and Relationship as a connecting, compassionate force that reveals the interconnectedness of life.

In her chapter on Ego, Self and Identity the author tackles the thorny issue of the Ego. In many spiritual texts, the Ego can so easily be labelled the ‘bad guy’ but Joanna skilfully explores the difference between Representational Ego and Functional Ego, redeeming the Ego’s useful functions whilst suggesting a compassionate approach to its more challenging aspects.

Joanna van der Hoeven

Joanna van der Hoeven

The concepts in this book take some thoughtful pondering but the beauty of Joanna’s writing is that it cracks open what initially appear to be very complex ideas and gets straight to the heart of each. Obviously the real work is in the dedicated practice of a spiritual path but Zen For Druids offers a wonderful foundation to build upon. In every page you can sense that the author has learned these insights through experience, that she really understands and lives these principles from a place of deep heart-knowing. We move from a purely intellectual grasping of a subject to this heart-led living of a spiritual path through the constant connection and exploration of that path; Joanna van der Hoeven’s fabulous book is both an inspiring and deeply practical aid to help you on that journey.

I highly recommend this book. It is proof of how seemingly different spiritualities can enrich each other, and for those of us who are drawn to both western and eastern paths, it’s a real gem!

Zen For Druids is now available on Moon Books for pre-order. 

Her Love of Ireland and the Muse

July 13th, 2016

A fantastic poem by Dwina Murphy-Gibb about the Irish poet Alice Milligan. Alice was a contemporary and friend of Yeats. Many thanks to Dwina for allowing me to share her poem and her fabulous sketch of the poet.

HER LOVE OF IRELAND AND THE MUSE
 
(For Alice Milligan)
 
When the dark grows thin, and light shines bright to usher in the dawn,
The poet Alice, of fiery spirit, parts from nightly trysts with the sultry Muse
Who, in sacred friendship, brings solace to her in lonely vigil,
Awakening memories of one great language of love.
Her land of beauty rolls with the freedom of the seasons,
Its borders only imposed for human reasons
And not by the will of the Immortal Sidhe
Who walk hand in hand with She who treads with no fears in Light.
Yet she cries in the night, rebirthed with mortal tears for those whom she has lost.
Cautious blooms seep upon the wan cheeks of the wistful bard
Who hails the day with unruly lock and hooded eyes
Sinking deep into slumber even as the sun rises.  You drew him once.
But he is frugal with his admiration and will never give Alice full praise
No matter what flag she raises with her poignant phrases.
Only the Muse embraces her always, leaving well-crafted words
Floating in dream’s hard and troubled shadows.
Blood of heroes stain all five roads to Teamhair’s door.
She knows there is only love left when fear and terror reign no more.
She advises, and is heeded but sometimes ignored though not for long,
Yet, nevertheless, the dove and servant of the gods is needed
And relentless in her quest, she deserves to be remembered, beyond life and death. 
She whispers her last breath of spinning song to the spirit of missing words,
To raise gentle hope and happiness in the joyous return of Irish poetry
To the present bards’ soliloquys of long-lost and new-found love.
And so, the coloured cloak of the poet warrior lends ancient and noble protection
In all battles and drum rattling, regardless of the cause,
For to slay the poet, they destroy the recorder of their known or secret history,
This did not slip your mind, Alice, for it became your safe shield in life
And left your chalice of words free from which others will, for centuries, sip.
~Dwina Murphy-Gibb. 2016
alice m
 

Stargazing Tombs

July 12th, 2016

passage tomb

Many thanks to Chris Parks for bringing this to my attention. Nicola Davis from the Guardian reports on the theory of Stargazing Prehistoric Tombs:

The prehistoric tombs that may have been used as ‘telescopes’

Researchers think that the entrance passages to 6,000 year-old tombs could have been used to enhance visibility for ancient stargazers.

Ancient passages to stone tombs could have been used by prehistoric humans to boost their view of the night skies as part of an ancient ritual, archaeologists have proposed.

Researchers say that the dark entrances to 6,000 year-old tombs in Portugal could have been an early form of astronomical tool that enhanced the visibility of the stars. In particular, they say, the orientation of the entrances to the passage graves suggests that they are aligned to offer a view of Aldebaran, the red star that is the brightest body in the constellation of Taurus.

The star might have been important to ancient communities who moved their herds and flocks to summer grazing grounds in the mountains each year. The annual event, the researchers argue, could have coincided with the star’s first appearance in the morning twilight each year. “This first rising of Aldebaran occurred at the end of April or beginning of May 6,000 years ago, so it would be a very good, very precise calendrical marker for them to know when it was time to move into the higher grounds,” said Dr Fabio Silva of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David… Read the entire article here.

Treadwell’s Books

July 8th, 2016

Treadwells

Many thanks to Emma Longstaff from Books Combined Blog for sharing with me her interview with Christina Oakley Harrington, owner of Treadwell’s Bookshop in London. I have had a longstanding relationship with Treadwell’s; not only is it a fabulous esoteric bookshop, it also puts on some fascinating events, talks and workshops. It is so important to support independent book stores in this age of Amazon. Visiting Treadwell’s is a unique experience that just can’t be replicated when buying online, particularly given the specialist nature of many of the books. Browsing and taking your time in such wonderful places can be a magical experience. If you are ever in London, do please visit. You will find Treadwell’s is at 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. 

 

I founded Treadwell’s in 2003, after having been an academic. I decided I wanted to do something different with my life. I had a mission in mind – to create a place that would be a bridge, a meeting point, between the world of scholarship and the esoteric world. Right from the beginning, that’s been my ambition.

My PhD was in the history of religion but I also had a lifelong private interest in Western mystical traditions and Pagan religions. It was a bold move to open a bookshop just as the online retail of books was taking off. I went into the bank to apply for a small loan, and the bank manager looked me in the eye and asked if I’d heard of something called Amazon. I had to explain to him why I was opening an independent bookshop in spite of Amazon. I had a very well-prepared speech.

Christina Oakley Harrington

Christina Oakley Harrington

What I told the bank manager, and what I still tell my staff, is that we have to work very hard to offer what the online experience can never provide, and that’s expertise, guidance, one-to-one interaction. Often people come in and they don’t really know what information they want or need. They come specifically to Treadwell’s for that process of discovery. All of our staff are really knowledgeable and we’ve given them extra training on how to tease out from customers what they’re looking for, even if they don’t have the words to describe it themselves. We also offer a place to meet other people who share an interest in the esoteric and mystical – we do that through our events, which have socials before and after, and again through the expertise of our staff. If you’re fascinated by Druids, and if you love the idea of Stonehenge and the mystical experience of nature you can buy all the books you like on Amazon, but if you come down to Treadwell’s our booksellers will know where there are other druids in London or Staffordshire or anywhere else. We’re guides, not just booksellers.

We don’t just sell books. We sell a range of herbs, essential oils and other supplies, from cauldrons to Abramelin oil, a magical oil used in ceremony to get in touch with holy guardian angels. People will come in to us because they want to give a new house protection, or they want to give a charm to their new niece or nephew. Tarot reading is also really important to us because it is a divinatory or fortune telling art that is grounded in the Western esoteric tradition. Tarot is a very learned practice – it takes about ten years of serious practice and study to become any good at it. We’re proud to have a space where we can showcase the very best tarot readers, who have been practising their symbolic art for 20, 30, 40 years. They’re some of the most extraordinary people… (read the entire interview here)

Treadwell’s can be contacted by phone: 0207 419 8507 or Email: info@treadwells-london.com. Facebook and Twitter and their Website where you can find details of their events.

Afro Celt Sound System – The Source

July 5th, 2016
Afro Celt Sound System

Afro Celt Sound System

OBOD have a longstanding relationship with Afro Celt Sound System. 20 or so years ago their first album was launched with a Druid ceremony. The Awen flows as strongly as ever in their latest album The Source.

The band’s main members have Anglo, Scottish, Punjabi and African roots and they draw strongly from these in their music, both culturally and spiritually, producing sounds that express the power of those individual musical traditions in a magical fusion that is compelling and inspiring.

Some fusions can feel contrived, a kind of musical shoe-horning of styles but Afro Celt Sound System’s music is seamless, highly skilled and deeply felt, honouring their diverse roots but blending them in ways that feel utterly natural, taking the music to new heights. The Source is a fabulous album, bringing together a host of guest musicians and singers in a multi-cultural mix that is thrilling to listen to.

There are 13 tracks on the album, every one of them a celebration of diversity, creating an effortless flow of changing atmospheres and rhythms with spine-tingling vocals and stunning musicianship. The listener experiences a range of sound-scapes:  ‘Beware Soul Brother’, with the sultry vocals of Rioghnach Connolly, is bluesy and intimate; A Higher Love is summery and bright with Gaelic and Punjabi rap layered with soulful horns. The infectious Desert Billy begins with guitar strains reminiscent of Django Reinhardt but with a strong Gaelic feel and Indian rhythms; The Soul of a Sister features the fantastic female African vocal group, Les Griottes and the Gaelic vocal group Urar with beautifully layered vocals. Throughout there is such a wonderful diversity of sounds from ethnic Ceilidh, to Funk, to Soul and more, all woven together with such love, skill and passion.The-Source

The album’s title is apt, as you get a real sense of this music having its tap root – or more correctly, its collective tap roots – deep within that mysterious Source, and that the musicians and singers are a conduit for an energy that, when experienced through the music, reminds us of our common humanity, of all the places where we are connected; it helps us to recognise that our diversity is a strength and that the coming together of each individual voice in the spirit of unity can produce a whole much greater than its parts. On every track, the integrity of those individual voices is never lost but is enriched and transformed in the process.

The Source is illustrated with the beautifully vibrant artwork of Jamie Reid- a perfect visual expression of the music’s vitality and energy.

The entire album is complex and multi-layered and yet immediate and accessible to the heart and soul. You will want to dance! It is a joyful, exhilarating and emotionally rich expression of music and musicianship at its best. Connect with The Source and feel the Awen flow!

Here is a taster for you of track 4, entitled Cascade – enjoy!