Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

 

Aontacht

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

HeaderI was recently interviewed by Renard, the new editor of the Druidic Dawn magazine Aontacht. I have given so many interviews, I decided that in this one I would talk about new topics, such as my training in astral travel with Olivia Robertson of the Fellowship of Isis. And when Renard asked for photos, I resisted the ego’s desire for flattering images, and chose a selection of the silliest ones I could find. You can read the magazine here.

 

 

Sabbat by Damh the Bard

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Sometimes the obvious just isn’t obvious… The other day I realised that the trio of people who help to lead the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids, is made up of an artist (Stephanie), a writer (myself), and a musician (Damh the Bard). That feels good, and I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to see this!

Friend, work colleague, and fellow-Druid Damh the Bard has just produced his seventh album, and he’s produced a series of brief videos to explain the inspiration behind the songs he has written for it. You get a bit of the song and then Damh is suddenly there beside you chatting about the track. – a lovely idea!

I’d rather be a Pagan!

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015
Johannes Simon Holtzbecher - Narcissus tazetta

Johannes Simon Holtzbecher – Narcissus tazetta

Happy Spring Equinox! Here’s a fitting poem for this time from the pen of William Wordsworth.
Doesn’t ‘Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers,’ ring truer than ever for us? And ‘I’d rather be a Pagan’!

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

Stonehenge – A Dramatic New Theory

Monday, March 16th, 2015

1024px-Stonehenge_cloudy_sunsetAn article in The Guardian suggests what we see at Stonehenge is the basement – that the stones supported a platform for rites:

Whether it was a Druid temple, an astronomical calendar or a centre for healing, the mystery of Stonehenge has long been a source of speculation and debate. Now a dramatic new theory suggests that the prehistoric monument was in fact “an ancient Mecca on stilts”.

The megaliths would not have been used for ceremonies at ground level, but would instead have supported a circular wooden platform on which ceremonies were performed to the rotating heavens, the theory suggests.

Julian Spalding, an art critic and former director of some of the UK’s leading museums, argues that the stones were foundations for a vast platform, long since lost – “a great altar” raised up high towards the heavens and able to support the weight of hundreds of worshippers…

Spalding, who is not an archaeologist, believes that other Stonehenge theorists have fallen into error by looking down instead of up. His evidence, he believes, lies in ancient civilisations worldwide. As far afield as China, Peru and Turkey, such sacred monuments were built high up, whether on manmade or natural sites, and in circular patterns possibly linked to celestial movements.

He said: “In early times, no spiritual ceremonies would have been performed on the ground. The Pharaoh of Egypt and the Emperor of China were always carried – as the Pope used to be. The feet of holy people were not allowed to touch the ground. We’ve been looking at Stonehenge from a modern, earth-bound perspective.”

“All the great raised altars of the past suggest that the people who built Stonehenge would never have performed celestial ceremonies on the lowly earth,” he went on. “That would have been unimaginably insulting to the immortal beings, for it would have brought them down from heaven to bite the dust and tread in the dung.”   Read article

Druid Meditation

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

An interesting development is afoot in the world of Druidry: contemplation and meditation are starting to receive more attention. Last year ‘Contemplative Druidry’, a collection of writings, introduced and curated by James Nichol, was published, and I wrote an essay as a foreword for it, which you can find in the Essays section of this website. This summer, Druid Camp 2015 is taking contemplation and meditation as its theme, and a contemplative druid retreat is being organised in Worcestershire.

This all feels good – a maturing of our path. Here is how I begin the essay, which is entitled

Deep Peace of the Quiet Earth: the Nature Mysticism of Druidry

We all know that Druidry is a magical path – Druids wear robes and conduct rituals with wands and candles, invocations to the directions, prayers to the gods. In a world sorely lacking in meaningful ritual, it can feel like a balm to the soul to engage in actions that are not obviously utilitarian, that are designed to help us enter into a deeper sense of engagement with life – to give expression to our belief in a world of Spirit that infuses this physical world with energies that bring healing and inspiration. And yet it can sometimes feel as if modern Druidry’s concern with ritual has placed too great an emphasis on the magical, at the expense of its equally important mystical concerns… Read more

You can read about the book ‘Contemplative Druidry’ here.

Sir Terry Pratchett

Friday, March 13th, 2015
Terry Pratchett enjoys a glass of Guinness after receiving his honorary degree at Trinity College Dublin 2008. Photo: Patrick Theiner

Terry Pratchett enjoys a glass of Guinness after receiving his honorary degree at Trinity College Dublin 2008. Photo: Patrick Theiner

Very sad to hear about the death of Terry Pratchett. I only met him once, at a conference in the Netherlands. We chatted about the Rollright stones and how much we admired the work of Ronald Hutton. What I remember about the exchange was the sparkle in his eyes, the warm benevolent feeling he emanated. There’s a good obituary for him on The Wild Hunt blog, with favourite quotes offered by Pagan authors. Vivienne and Chris Crowley offer a lovely one:
It was a place where witches met. 
Tonight a fire gleamed on the very crest of the hill. Dark figures moved in the flickering light. 
The moon coasted across a lacework of clouds. 
Finally a tall, pointy-hatted figure said, ‘You mean everyone brought potato salad?’

Landmarks

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

A fabulous article by nature and travel writer Robert Macfarlane about his latest book Landmarks  – an exploration of the intimate connection between language and landscape…

The Word-Hoard: Robert Macfarlane on Rewilding our Language of Landscape

Eight years ago, in the coastal township of Shawbost on the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis, I was given an extraordinary document. It was entitled “Some Lewis Moorland Terms: A Peat Glossary”, and it listed Gaelic words and phrases for aspects of the tawny moorland that fills Lewis’s interior. Reading the glossary, I was amazed by the compressive elegance of its lexis, and its capacity for fine discrimination: a caochan, for instance, is “a slender moor-stream obscured by vegetation such that it is virtually hidden from sight”, while a feadan is “a small stream running from a moorland loch”, and a fèith is “a fine vein-like watercourse running through peat, often dry in the summer”. Other terms were striking for their visual poetry: rionnach maoim means “the shadows cast on the moorland by clouds moving across the sky on a bright and windy day”; èit refers to “the practice of placing quartz stones in streams so that they sparkle in moonlight and thereby attract salmon to them in the late summer and autumn”, and teine biorach is “the flame or will-o’-the-wisp that runs on top of heather when the moor burns during the summer”.

LandmarksThe “Peat Glossary” set my head a-whirr with wonder-words. It ran to several pages and more than 120 terms – and as that modest “Some” in its title acknowledged, it was incomplete. “There’s so much language to be added to it,” one of its compilers, Anne Campbell, told me. “It represents only three villages’ worth of words. I have a friend from South Uist who said her grandmother would add dozens to it. Every village in the upper islands would have its different phrases to contribute.” I thought of Norman MacCaig’s great Hebridean poem “By the Graveyard, Luskentyre”, where he imagines creating a dictionary out of the language of Donnie, a lobster fisherman from the Isle of Harris. It would be an impossible book, MacCaig concluded:

A volume thick as the height of the Clisham,

A volume big as the whole of Harris,

A volume beyond the wit of scholars.

The same summer I was on Lewis, a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was published. A sharp-eyed reader noticed that there had been a culling of words concerning nature. Under pressure, Oxford University Press revealed a list of the entries it no longer felt to be relevant to a modern-day childhood. The deletions included acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture and willow. The words taking their places in the new edition included attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player and voice-mail. As I had been entranced by the language preserved in the prose‑poem of the “Peat Glossary”, so I was dismayed by the language that had fallen (been pushed) from the dictionary. For blackberry, read Blackberry.

Robert Macfarlane

Robert Macfarlane

I have long been fascinated by the relations of language and landscape – by the power of strong style and single words to shape our senses of place. And it has become a habit, while travelling in Britain and Ireland, to note down place words as I encounter them: terms for particular aspects of terrain, elements, light and creaturely life, or resonant place names. I’ve scribbled these words in the backs of notebooks, or jotted them down on scraps of paper. Usually, I’ve gleaned them singly from conversations, maps or books. Now and then I’ve hit buried treasure in the form of vernacular word-lists or remarkable people – troves that have held gleaming handfuls of coinages, like the Lewisian “Peat Glossary”.dew sparkle

Not long after returning from Lewis, and spurred on by the Oxford deletions, I resolved to put my word-collecting on a more active footing…to read the whole article click here.

Opera Tarot, Anne Boleyn & Jane Seymour

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015
The Queen of Wands from Opera Tarot by Linda Sutton

The Queen of Wands from Opera Tarot by Linda Sutton

The same story which inspired Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and its recent TV adaptation, also inspired the Opera composer Donizetti in the 19th century. His ‘Anna Bolena’ is one of four operas he wrote about the Tudor period, and the duet between Henry VIII’s second and third wives, Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour, is full of high drama as you can hear in the Youtube clip shown below.

In opera, all of human relations – and our existential concerns – are emphasized and often highly coloured, making it an ideal medium in which to explore precisely those issues that concern the Tarot. For this reason, inspired by the beautiful paintings of artist Linda Sutton, Stephanie and I are working alongside Linda on a new Tarot deck: Opera Tarot.

Here is Linda’s image for the Queen of Wands, which depicts the soprano, Anna Netrebko as Anne Boleyn in Donizetti’s opera, in attire similar to that in her portrait in the National Portrait Gallery, London. Over the coming months we’ll show more images from the collection as we work on it!

 

 

Wild Women’s Retreat

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

wild wolman's retreat flyer

Stonehenge of Manipur

Monday, March 9th, 2015

These are images of a megalithic structure in the village of Willong, Katak Tukhan in Mao Maram, Manipur. To read more about this fascinating Indian monument click here.

stonehenge of manipurstonehenge of manipur1Willong village in Mao-Maram, Manipur - CopyStone_Erections_of_Willong_Khullen-600x369-compressor