Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Awen Publications

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

Cultivating Awen, inspiration, lies at the heart of contemporary Druid practice, and a publishing house based in the West Country, takes Awen not only as its guiding theme, but also as its name. Awen Publications was founded by Kevan Manwaring in 2003 with the publication of their first title, Writing the Land. Kevan ran the press with dedication for more than a decade, publishing an ever-expanding list of titles and organising numerous launch parties as well as two ambitious series of live literature events: the Garden of Awen in Bath, the Awen Forum in Stroud. The press is today run by Anthony Nanson, a co-author of An Ecobardic Manifesto.

Since its founding, Awen has sought out writing that is imaginative, boundary-pushing, eco-conscious, enchanting, and challenging of received wisdoms.

I have just received two of their titles – both powerful and inspiring collections of poetry:

SOLnewfrontcoverimage-edit-3Soul of the Earth – The Awen Anthology of Eco-spiritual Poetry brings together 21 poets who let the Awen flow through them as they respond to the challenge the ecological crisis brings the Earth and us all.

Places of Truth – Journeys into Sacred Wilderness. Familiar to many Order members, since Jay’s poetry features in the OBOD course, poet and psychotherapist Jay Ramsay has been drawn to wild places all his writing life, in search of a particular deep listening experience. Here he shares his soundings. PlacesofTruthfrontcover-edit‘Trwyn Meditations’, a sequence set in Snowdonia, begins this 24-year odyssey. ‘By the Shores of Loch Awe’ takes us to the fecund wilds of Scotland. ‘The Oak’ celebrates an ancient tree in the heart of the Cotswolds. ‘The Sacred Way’ is an evocation of Pilgrim Britain. ‘Culbone’ records the hidden history of the smallest parish church in England in a steep North Somerset valley near where Coleridge wrote ‘Kubla Khan’. The final sequences, ‘The Mountain’ and ‘Sinai’, takes us beyond, in all senses, touching the places where we find I and Self.
It’s soul-stirring poetry and you can read a review of the collection here. As the reviewer, Fiona Tinker writes: “These poems are beautiful and their deceptive simplicity will reward a patient reader – one who is prepared to allow the words, their images and their deeper meanings to sing in the soul.”


A Legacy of Druids

Friday, April 29th, 2016

A-Legacy-of-Druids-coverA really interesting new book has been released today – A Legacy of Druids. It’s a collection of interviews with key figures in Druidry made by Ellen Evert Hopman 20 years ago.
When Ellen asked me to write a foreword for the collection I was worried  – surely the material would be out of date? But once I started reading, I became fascinated. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and this book celebrates hindsight and asks the simple but highly relevant question: what legacy is modern Druidry leaving? We can see what predictions we got right and what we got wrong, what preoccupations are still prevalent in the community, and what have been forgotten. It all makes for a surprisingly good read! It’s available in ebook and paperback on both sides of the Atlantic.

To read a bunch of reviews see the book’s webpage here.
Get it on Amazon UK here
Or Amazon US here.

Here’s what one reviewer has said:

Reading A Legacy of Druids is akin to attending the best Celtic Festival ever. Imagine being given the opportunity to go back twenty years in time to sit around the hearth fire with the elders and storytellers from many varied Celtic paths, discussing their personal spiritual journeys and esteemed valuations for the future of Druidry. A treasure trove of past wisdom though it is, A Legacy of Druids also highlights the truism that the more things change, the more they stay the same, providing both a foundation to the current landscape of Druidry and valuable insight into the continued maturation of modern Druidry. The time is ripe for Paganism to take stock of its roots and honour the pioneers who helped forge the current Pagan climate. Thanks to Ellen for having the foresight to gather this invaluable information those many years ago. ~ Tiffany Lazic, RP, Psychotherapist, Spiritual Director, and author of The Great Work: Self-Knowledge and Healing Through the Wheel of the Year.

Change the Story, Change the World

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

The Findhorn Foundation have announced the launch of their film, An Enquiry into A New Story for Humanity – Change the Story, Change the World. The film will premiere on the 30 April 2016 at Findhorn and be live streamed around the world. You may choose to watch from your own home or join a public screening. Click here on the 30 April to watch the film live, or any time after that to watch on demand.The film features contributions from Satish Kumar, Elisabet Sahtouris, Charles Eisenstein and many more. For more information click here.

Ashleigh Scully

Monday, April 25th, 2016

Ashleigh Scully owl

Many thanks to Nicola Ward for bringing our attention to a very talented young wildlife photographer Ashleigh Scully. ashleigh scullyAshleigh uses her fantastic images to draw attention to conservation issues. She took up photography at the tender age of eight and is still only fourteen but has managed to capture some stunning images. Her website can be found here.


foxes ashleigh scullyashleigh-scully-screech-owljpg-da7f304db7a36332

The Charter for Trees, Woods and People

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

stag rays

The Woodland Trust has initiated a movement to promote tree awareness in Britain: The Charter for Trees, Woods and People. Druid groups in Britain are enthusiastically backing this project, and OBOD, BDO and the Druid Network are working together to do this. Here is our statement of support.

OBOD Statement on the Charter for Trees, Woods and People

‘I came into England with Oak, Ash and Thorn… and when Oak, Ash and Thorn are gone I shall go too.’
Puck of Pook’s Hill, Rudyard Kipling.

‘Three gifts from the forests of the Isle of the Mighty:
The beauty of birches, the strength of oaks, and the wisdom of yews.’

Throughout the Ancient World, trees were held sacred. From the dryad-haunted foothills of Mount Parnassus in Ancient Greece, to the Oak groves of Ynys Mon in North Wales, people revered trees as living beings, animate with raw power and profound wisdom. The word “Druid” echoes down from that time – an old word, that can be traced to the proto-Celtic dru-wid- s. Translated into English, this means “Oak Seer”.

British Druids today draw inspiration from that heritage; still honouring trees and learning the many lessons they have to teach. Trees are, for us, far more than mere resources – they are spirits of the wild, counsellors of the heart, and guardians of the ages, worthy of respect and love. Defending Britain’s woodlands and encouraging an ever-closer relationship between people and the forests is for us, therefore, a sacred charge. In this time of declining biodiversity, increasing urbanism, and climate change – this charge is more important than ever.

The Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids has taken a number of steps to put this crucial aspect of Druidic philosophy into practice. Woodland lore forms a major part of the training the order provides, covering cultural, botanical, and spiritual themes. For many years the Order has been running the Sacred Grove Project – an initiative to assist members with tree planting – and actively promotes sustainability through our Ecological Campaign. In 2014, the Order celebrated its 50th Anniversary with the planting of 1,000 trees in Glen Moriston, in the Scottish Highlands. A Charter dedicated to woods, trees and communities is therefore a cause that speaks to the deepest values of our Order, and reflects our existing commitment to safeguarding Britain’s woodlands.

Jonathan Woolley,
For and on behalf of The Order of Bards Ovates & Druids
April 2016

Why You Should Write by Cecilia Knapp

Saturday, April 16th, 2016

A heartfelt invitation to be creative from the very talented Cecilia Knapp!

Michael Grab – Finding the Still Point

Friday, April 15th, 2016



michael grab

Michael Grab creates extraordinary stone sculptures that use gravity and balance to hold their form. Grab views the process of creating these beautiful structures as a form of meditation. What follows is an extract from Grab’s website Gravity Glue and a fabulous video of him in action where the seemingly impossible takes shape:gravity-stone-balancing-michael-grab-8

I began balancing rocks through somewhat of a whim in the Summer of 2008 while exploring Boulder Creek in Boulder, CO, USA. Since then, simple curiosity has evolved into a prolific creative passion, and daily meditative practice. I quickly noticed the unique effect that my creations had on myself and others, often inspiring a sense of magic and peace; a sense that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.


I am constantly in awe at the stillness, let alone possibility, of such precarious formations, amidst sometimes very turbulent conditions. For me this reflects our own potential to maintain a still-point amidst the variety of challenges we each face throughout our lives. Further, I wish to highlight the idea that WE ARE creators of our own reality, rather than mere recipients. Consciousness affects reality. This practice allows one to freely create, manifesting their own particular vibration into a 3D world.

Balance requires a minimum of THREE contact points. Luckily, every rock is covered in a variety of tiny to large indentations that can act as a NATURAL TRIPOD for the rock to stand upright, or in most orientations you can think of with other rocks. By paying close attention to the vibrations of the rocks, you will start to feel even the smallest “clicks” as the notches of the rocks are moving over one another. In the finest “point-balances”, these clicks can be felt on a scale smaller than millimeters, and in rare cases can even go undetected, in which case intuition and experience become quite useful. Some point-balances will give the illusion of weightlessness as the rocks look to be barely touching. But if you look very close, you may be able to see the tiny notches in which the rocks rest.gravity-stone-balancing-michael-grab-12

Woven through the physical element of finding tripods, the most fundamental non-physical element is likened to meditation; finding a zero point or silence within myself. Some balances can apply significant pressure on the rational mind and patience. One of the great challenges is to overcome any doubt that may arise. To consider that seemingly impossible things may just be possible. Sometimes I don’t even feel the vertices of the finest “tripods” or balance points until I’ve spent enough time slowing down to the related threshold of vibrations.



All Finite Things Reveal Infinitude…

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

sun rays through pines

All finite things reveal infinitude:
The mountain with its singular bright shade
Like the blue shine on freshly frozen snow,
The after-light upon ice-burdened pines;
Odor of basswood upon a mountain slope,
A scene beloved of bees;
Silence of water above a sunken tree:
The pure serene of memory of one man,–
A ripple widening from a single stone
Winding around the waters of the world.
~  Theodore Roethke 


The Badger

Monday, April 11th, 2016

I was very pleased to contribute to the latest edition of The Badger which is now available here.  There is a fantastic mix of articles about spiritual practice and exploration, therapies and healing, and even some wonderful recipes to try, all illustrated with beautiful images. Well worth supporting!

European Badger

European Badger


A Fanatic Heart: Bob Geldof on W.B.Yeats

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

439px-W_B_Yeats_Bain_1_croppedI often despair of television documentaries. They take an hour to tell me something I could be told in ten minutes.  After each break, if they are on commercial TV, they treat me to a resumé of what has gone before until I feel I have strayed on to a children’s channel by mistake.
So what a powerful experience it was to watch this stunning 100 minute documentary on Yeats by a man who dares to challenge a sacred cow of Irish history. It had to be an Irishman to do it – no-one else would have dared. And it had to be a man who has known suffering through the death of loved ones, as Bob Geldof has done so tragically.

The film covered Yeats’ literary and political life, his love life and his interest in magic and the metaphysical. It included excerpts from his poetry read by famous actors and pop stars. This was all wonderful stuff. But what really gave it passion was Geldof’s opinion about an event that has recently had its centenary – the 1916 Uprising. Rather than trying to paraphrase Geldof’s point, let me quote from an article that gives direct quotes:

‘Yeats wrote about the myths and legends of ancient Ireland to remind the Irish that they were not just victims of oppression. Geldof compares his work to the Arthurian legends of England and the American Dream. ‘Every place has a creation myth. Yeats said to the Irish, “This is who you are. You are noble.” The man sang the nation into being.’  They didn’t always listen. ‘It’s very easy to pick up a gun and decide you want a different kind of independence and start shooting people. I’ve no time for that.’

Bob_Geldof,_2006He is scathing about the way the Easter Rising of 1916 has been held up as an act of great martyrdom over the years. ‘It’s the original sin. So much rests on this myth. How many murders have been sanctioned in its name? F*** off! This messianic, delusional vertigo of self-sacrifice, the delirium of dying.’
He’s using phrases from Yeats, who was ambivalent towards winning Ireland with violence and wrote in the aftermath of the failed Easter uprising: ‘A terrible beauty is born.’ The men and women who took over the General Post Office in Dublin and declared a republic, despite being in a city dominated by the British army, knew their mission was suicidal, he says. ‘They started writing these letters [to be read afterwards] which show clearly they knew, “The only thing that will come out of this is that we get shot, we get to be martyrs, that’ll spur another generation.”
‘What’s admirable about that, if you also don’t admire the guy who’s just walked into Pakistan and blown up 73 people at a Christian carnival in Lahore? What’s the difference? People say, “That’s outrageous, it’s not the same thing.” Excuse me?’ 

As the reviewer from the Irish Times wrote:

‘“The two-year-old who died for Ireland”: not so catchy, is it? Not something you’d want to grab your bodhrán and squeezebox and write a come-all-ye about. I wonder was it shame that made the children who died during Easter Week 1916 disappear?
They weren’t mentioned at all during the 1966 commemoration, says broadcaster Joe Duffy in his terrific documentary Children of the Revolution, and if they are mentioned in history books it is briefly and often inaccurately.’ Duffy discovered 40 children were killed – some by the rebels, some by the British snipers. Most were innocent bystanders, a few were taking part.

Geldof says “The glorification of violence stained my country for decades.” He sums up his view quite simply like this: “Dying is very easy. I’ve been around it a lot. It isn’t radical to die, it’s inevitable. Staying alive is hard.” And it was Yeats who chose to stay alive and who did more, Geldof argues, to forge an Irish identity and culture than those who chose the way of death by violence. “The modern, plural, open, generous country that Yeats wrote about and worked for has now come into being,” says Geldof. “His revolution won in the end. The revolution of the Irish mind. The Irish are now the people he said they would one day be.”

You can watch it here: