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" The songs of our ancestors

are also the songs of our children "

The Druid Way

Happy Equinox!

September 22nd, 2016
autumn-harvest-gary-gay

Autumn Harvest ~ Gary Gay

A couple of poems from Mary Oliver to celebrate the Equinox!

Fall Song

Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries – roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This

I try to remember when time’s measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay – how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

~ Mary Oliver

Spring

Somewhere a black bear

has just risen from sleep

and is staring down the mountain.

All night in the brisk and shallow restlessness of early spring

I think of her, her four black fists flicking the gravel, her tongue

like a red fire touching the grass, the cold water.  There is only one question:

how to love this world.  I think of her rising like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against the silence of the trees.  Whatever else

my life is with its poems and its music and its glass cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness coming down the mountain,

breathing and tasting; all day I think of her –

her white teeth, her wordlessness, her perfect love.

~ Mary Oliver

spring_flowers

Reaching For The Balance

September 21st, 2016

balance

A guest post by Maria Ede-Weaving…

The Autumn Equinox is here again. As the sun’s path lowers in the sky and the season changes, the light changes also; it becomes a paradoxical mixture of clarity and softness; there is a kind of sweet melancholy in it, but also a joy. These seemingly contradictory states lead me to reflect on the themes of this festival, and as we honour the time of equal night and day, my thoughts turn to the subject of balance.

Balance is often equated with stillness and yet when I stand on one leg, I am aware that in order to stay still and not topple, my body is going through a series of subtle muscles adjustments. This suggests to me that balance is actually quite active – we put effort in to achieving that centred, rooted place. I think this is true for all areas where we seek equilibrium, right from our emotional selves to our health and working lives, we constantly have to adjust our balance to settle, and it’s not hard to realise when we are off kilter  – we feel it in the symptoms of unease, worry, illness and discord. But even these are not a problem because such emotions and conditions communicate that it is time to adjust our footing and regain balance. The trick is to stay aware and keep actively engaged with the process.

I have been drawn to work with the Egyptian Goddess Ma’at recently as part of a wider practice of honouring the lunar cycle. I have chosen a series of Goddesses who, to  me, express certain energies of the moon’s phases and I have been meditating with each Goddess and journaling on how each of their energies are currently playing out in my being and my wider life.  I am focusing on the Maiden, Lover, Mother/Queen, Wise Women/Priestess and Crone Energies at the waxing crescent, waxing gibbous, full, waning crescent and dark moon respectively, with the goddess Bast, Hathor, Isis, Nepthys and Sekhmet.

I had felt the need to reconnect with the moon cycle because I had been struggling to maintain balance in my own life, upended by difficult changes, struggling with depression and realising that I had become stuck and stagnant in my energy and focus. Recognising how much I was resisting change, I thought that working with the mutable cycles of the moon would be both helpful in breaking the dam and going with the flow.

Ma’at came into the equation because I was reminded by my own experience that the ever-moving cycle of birth, expansion, fullness, harvest, release and death is governed by a harmonising principle; this constant adjusting to maintain the balance is what keeps creation functioning; every part of the cycle is vital to the harmony of the whole.

To the ancient Egyptians, Ma’at was Divine Universal Balance that functioned both at the Macrocosm of the Cosmos and Nature and the Microcosm of Society and the human individual. To them, it was crucial to the well-being of the whole – be it nature, community or person – to seek balance and harmony between all the constituent parts. Without Ma’at, there is chaos, discord and imbalance, the interconnected flow of the cycle is broken and trouble ensues.

The Egyptians recognised that maintaining the balance of Ma’at was active and ongoing; building a relationship with Ma’at was a job for life. We see how destructive ignoring the function of Ma’at is when we look at the environmental problems we face, where the harmony and interconnectedness of life has been disregarded and is causing a terrible imbalance with dreadful consequences. At the Micro level, my lunar journey has helped me to see the painful results of ignoring Ma’at in my own life; getting stuck in the intense shedding and shadow work of the waning and dark moon, whilst forgetting the renewal, joy and expansion of the waxing phases, has led to complete burn out for me, both physically and emotionally. Working with and fully engaging with every phase has widened my focus and I feel much lighter and brighter for it.

What working with Ma’at has taught me is that we are each active participants in our own well-being; that we have choices in our responses to life and that we are constantly guided back to that place of equilibrium if we listen to our intuition and act for our own highest good and the highest good of others. It is heartening to think that being out of balance contains its own lessons for growth and in itself holds the key to regaining our footing.little-girl

Ma’at demands that we honour and engage with all the parts of ourselves and our lives; that we embrace and stay present in each phase of the cycle, always mindful of its relationship to the whole. In this season of the Equinox, take time to reflect on your own balancing act; honour all that you are, every experience; take heed of any discomfort you might feel and let it speak to you about how you can come back into alignment with yourself. In truth, balance is not total stillness, it’s a dance.

Maria’s Blog A Druid Thurible 

The Talliston Room Atlas and the Talliston Oracle

September 20th, 2016

magical-treehouse-talliston

I have written here before about the unique and magical Talliston house and earlier this year saw the publication of the Talliston Room Atlasa beautiful photographic journey through this extraordinary house and its gardens. For those who have never encountered Talliston, the house’s creator John Tarrow explains a little about it…

Talliston House & Gardens is a unique interior design and art installation project that took the UK’s most ordinary dwelling (a three-bedroomed, semi-detached, ex-council house in Essex) and reimagined it as Britain’s most extraordinary home. Each of the original rooms and gardens have been lovingly and painstakingly transformed into thirteen stunning locations, set across more than six-thousand years of history, from 4000 BC to 2228 AD. Each is infused with a rich story, incorporating more than 1,800 antiques, objects, furniture and fittings sourced from 27 different countries across the globe. Finished in October 2015 after a 25-year journey, the project explores the concept of the extraordinary within the ordinary, and shows how we all have inside us the power to be whatever we want or can imagine. Accomplished by one man and his growing team of artists, craftspeople and volunteers – all inspired by the project’s unique vision – Talliston imagines each location as the site of the last magical places on Earth.Haunted Bedroom

On the 6th of October Talliston is launching The Talliston Oracle. It’s a fascinating approach that uses the labyrinthine journey through the house as a way of mapping and understanding one’s life path. John explains,

With roots in many countries and cultures, and constructed after a lifetime of world travels, Talliston House & Gardens is an astonishing setting for a new oracle. Launching on 6th October 2016, marking the first anniversary of the completion on Talliston (and the 26th anniversary of the beginning of the project), The Talliston Oracle uses the labyrinth of the house and gardens as a fully immersive environment for seekers to explore, chart their Life Tree and open doors that lead to discovering their True Self.talliston-house-essex

Working within three core tenets – KNOW THYSELF • TRUST THYSELF • BE THYSELF – The Talliston Oracle offers a path to achieving a life filled with health, happiness and harmony. Using simple central themes seekers will create a symbolic map of their past, present and future, and set out a path to achieve lifeforce balance and ultimately transformation into their True Self. Through the wisdom of their unique Life Tree, they will explore the roots of who they were, the trunk of who they are and the branches of who they want to be. Powerful as this visualisation and self knowledge undoubtedly is, the Oracle goes further than merely mapping emotional, mental and physical landscapes. Using the extraordinary environment of Talliston House & Gardens, seekers will journey within an actual labyrinth of rooms in their quest to discover answers. The first oracular temple to be built in millennia, the Talliston Oracle will:
• Help people to see your world not as it is, but as it should be
• Visualise and vocalise what will bring health, happiness and harmony, and set path towards living a life we love
• Discover how everything need for this journey already exists within usthe-star-house

Still a private home, John has reimagined the thirteen locations and overlays a full oracle system offering specific guidance and direction for any and all life challenges.

Within a labyrinth, you do not lose yourself, you find yourself. This is a house unlike any other, hidden in a wood that you cannot see. Within I have created a secret oracle for anyone to explore its labyrinth of rooms and reveal their inner selves.

For more information on the oracle guide click here. Photography and full information on the house and gardens can be found here. 

The Skylight

September 19th, 2016

cave-light-shaft

The Skylight

You were the one for skylights. I opposed
Cutting into the seasoned tongue-and-groove
Of pitch pine. I liked it low and closed,
Its claustrophobic, nest-up-in-the-roof
Effect. I liked the snuff-dry feeling,
The perfect, trunk-lid fit of the old ceiling.
Under there, it was all hutch and hatch.
The blue slates kept the heat like midnight thatch.

But when the slates came off, extravagant
Sky entered and held surprise wide open.
For days I felt like an inhabitant
Of that house where the man sick of the palsy
Was lowered through the roof, had his sins forgiven,
Was healed, took up his bed and walked away.

~ Seamus Heaney from Opened Ground

International Sacred Groves Photography Contest

September 19th, 2016

liepas_large_ellites_cave_0463-20141031

I have just received this press release from the Hiite Maja Foundation – based in Estonia – about a photography competition focused on natural Sacred Sites and Groves. They have opened up the contest to include photos of sites outside Estonia. The photo included here is a 2014 contribution from Normunds Kazoks of the Liepas Large Ellite’s Cave. For further details on submissions and some interesting articles on Estonian Sacred Sites and indigenous culture visit the Maavalla Koda website:

An ongoing photography contest dedicated to natural sacred sites aims to commemorate the cultural and natural heritages of traditional sacred natural sites, to record their current state, as well as to encourage people to visit and care for the sacred sites.

Held for its ninth year, the international contest focuses on natural (not built) sacred sites: sacred groves and hills, water bodies, trees, stones and other natural objects where our ancestors used to pray, heal, sacrifice, commune, foretell and perform other rituals.

The contest’s grand prize is 1,000 euros, plus a special ‘Ural Peoples’ prize of 300 euros and a youth prize of 200 euros for contestants 16 years of age or younger. In addition, a number of special prizes will be handed out in the following categories: grove, sacred tree, stone, water body, offering, pain of the sacred grove, story, Old Võro County, Viru County, Mulgi County, Jõgeva County, the islands, nature conservation, and more. Photographs from other parts of the world are also welcome. For the first time, the contest’s website is also available in English and Russian in addition to the Estonian language.

Tõnis Lukas, Director General of the Estonian National Museum and patron of the Sacred Groves Photography Contest, invited all heritage-minded people to photograph sacred sites. “Your participation in the Sacred Groves contest will help preserve a rare and valuable part of Estonian and world heritage. The National Museum has supported the contest before and continues to do so this year. Submit your photos and be sure to take part in the beautiful prize ceremony in the new Estonian National Museum building on 3 December 2016. Everybody with an interest in heritage is kindly welcome,” said Lukas.

Winners will be awarded in the conference hall of the new ENM building in Tartu on 3 December 2016.

Photos can be submitted to the contest until 31 October 2016 at http://www.maavald.ee/en/image-contests/2016However, we recommend that you send in your submissions as soon as possible, and don’t wait until the closing moments. That way, organisers will be able to preview the photos and advise contestants as to their quality and admissibility, so that further photos may be taken and submitted where appropriate.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) considers sacred natural sites to be the oldest natural protection areas of humanity, and of Estonia. Many indigenous peoples have sacred natural sites that belong to the common heritage of humanity. Estonia has about 800 known sacred groves of a noteworthy size, as well as several thousand sacred trees, stones, springs and hundreds of cross-trees. Sacred natural sites have been recorded in a large number of villages across all counties and parishes. Most of our sacred natural sites are endangered and at the verge of oblivion.

The Sacred Groves Photography Contest is organised by Hiite Maja Foundation, Maavalla Koda and University of Tartu Centre of Sacred Natural Sites.

The Sun at his Eastern Gate

September 18th, 2016
'The Sun at his eastern gate' by William Blake. Reminiscent of the World card in the the Tarot.

‘The Sun at his eastern gate’ by William Blake. Reminiscent of the World card in  the Tarot.

If the doors of perception were cleansed

every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.

For man has closed himself up, till he sees

all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven & Hell

Taking the World into my Arms

September 16th, 2016

Photo by Peter Mobbs from his blog ‘Lost in France’

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my

arms.”

Mary Oliver

The unquenchable thirst for Knowledge that excites the Soul

September 12th, 2016

Dwina Gibb admires Kristoffer Hughes’ stunning new nail varnish

I asked our patroness Dwina Gibb if she would say something at the Mt Haemus Gathering we held recently. Dwina read out such an inspiring text she had written the night before, I thought you’d like to read it here:

My ‘Say Something’ for the Mount Haemus 2016 Gathering:

It is the unquenchable thirst for Knowledge that excites the soul and surpasses class, colour and creed. It is beyond the mortal coil.

Like music and poetry it transcends all the spheres and pulls us towards our origins. Whether we search deep within our own meditations or explore the outer regions of space, the zest and enthusiasm is the same for both.

The passion and love of learning is inspirational and a joyous experience for any child of awakening intelligence. It takes the innocence and purity of the child’s sense of wonder and intuition, coupled with the ancestral quest of the sage’s wisdom, to create a scholar and a shaman.

The Muse is always inspiring, often archetypal and not necessarily corporeal, and may come in any guise at any time.

The scholars and shamans of today who have honoured OBOD with their works and their alchemical knowledge of the marriage of science and wisdom have devoted precious spiritual time and energy to produce the Mount Haemus lectures for the past sixteen years.

The great Poets and Bards, Ovates and Druids all succumbed to the inspiration, love and passion of the Muse. It is the enquiring mind and soaring spirit of the ecstasy of Divine Knowledge that unlocks the iron fetters of the gross mind. This takes souls on a journey through personal enlightenment to world enlightenment. Each new discovery in our origins has a catalytic or a cataclysmic effect on universal consciousness.

So we should honour and respect those pioneers who have the will, and who dare to soar with their minds, to unlock the sacred Knowledge. It is a solitary journey of exploration, even with friends and family and clan around. But the journey is always with a Divine Muse, and this is not undertaken lightly. The time and effort for research is a period of self-sacrifice to higher wisdom.

The Mount Haemus Award was set up to assist with this quest, and is named in honour of the story, perhaps apocryphal, perhaps not, that there was a Druid group in Oxford in 1245. This particular Grove would have existed at a time fraught with dangers of dogmatism and corruption (not that different from today). There were great thinkers, theologians, philosophers, lay persons and scientists, also Franciscan brothers linked with this, including the influential minds of Roger Bacon and most likely his mentor Robert Grosseteste who was the first one to use an astrolabe in this country to measure the distance between stars. His philosophical and scientific works were numerous at the time, and his influence as Bishop of Lincoln and as Chancellor of Oxford University knew no bounds. Very often these scholars and teachers wore different cloaks at different periods in order to conceal and preserve esoteric knowledge.

The old adage of: ‘To Will, To Dare, To Know and To Be Silent’ ensures secrecy and safety on a physical level but the Silence also refers to the contemplation within the deep stillness of the soul-mind wherein lies sacred Knowledge, that Well of the Muse known to Hermits, Saints and Poets, and there for us all.

Dwina Gibb 2016

Get The Mount Haemus Lectures Volume 2 from Amazon UK   Amazon US

Answer The Warrior’s Call – Voices On The Wind

September 12th, 2016

air-magic

Ritual can be an empowering form of action and The Warrior’s Call have some great suggestions as to how you can use this tool to protect the land against the dangers of fracking. We are coming up to the time of their annual World Wide Ritual where people are encouraged to come together in a magical network for healing and protection. This year’s theme is ‘Voices on the Wind’ where participants will be using the element of air and the winds to send out energy across the land. You can read a review by Liz Cruse of previous year’s rituals here and following are details of how you can get involved:

We have heard the Voices on the Wind…
From across the world, we have heard the people crying for the hurt done to their sacred Land by fracking, and we have heard their voices raised in resistance.
Now we call on you to respond.

Take part in The Warrior’s Call’s fifth World Wide Ritual and send your own Voices on the Wind as blessing and healing for the Land.

On Saturday, 15 October 2016, go to a windy place and create ritual space according to your own tradition. Make a sound of blessing and healing with your own voice or the voice of your musical instrument. Let the wind carry it across the Land and the World. To strengthen this act of magic, fly a flag with the Warrior’s Sigil. Make your magic with your community, your close friends and family, or on your own. There is no set time of day for this event.

For more information on how to take part, go to our web site http://www.warriorscall.org/voices-ritual/
The events Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/events/1566112553696763/
Follow the event as it builds and unfolds on
– Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sacredshieldwall/
– Twitter https://www.facebook.com/sacredshieldwall/
– Zeemap https://www.zeemaps.com/map?group=2130993
Let us know that you are taking part. Send an e-mail to info@warriorscall.org