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" The songs of our ancestors

are also the songs of our children "

The Druid Way

The Hero of the Story

May 27th, 2008

If you’ve made a comment in the last ten days please know that I have read and appreciated it, even if I haven’t responded. I’ve been away in Germany and leave tomorrow for a few days in Holland.

One of the great pleasures of travelling around giving talks and workshops lies in meeting people. Everyone is so unique it becomes a fascinating process just trying to come to know a person, even if one only meets briefly. A propos of this, here is a good quote, which points to the way in which we can approach the process of getting to know someone:

The moment we want to say who someone is, our very vocabulary leads us astray into saying what he is and we begin to describe a character or type with the result that his uniqueness escapes us. We can surmount this problem only with a story: who somebody is we can only know by knowing the story of which he himself is the hero.”
John Navone, Towards a Theology of Story, St Paul 1977

Aliens Could be Free of Original Sin

May 14th, 2008

From the BBC today:

The Pope’s chief astronomer says that life on Mars cannot be ruled out.

Writing in the Vatican newspaper, the astronomer, Father Gabriel Funes, said intelligent beings created by God could exist in outer space.

Father Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory near Rome, is a respected scientist who collaborates with universities around the world.

The search for forms of extraterrestrial life, he says, does not contradict belief in God.

The official Vatican newspaper headlines his article ‘Aliens Are My Brother’.

‘Free from sin’

Just as there are multiple forms of life on earth, so there could exist intelligent beings in outer space created by God. And some aliens could even be free from original sin, he speculates.

A Spring Hamper

May 13th, 2008

This year the blossom and so many flowers have appeared all at once. The garden here is groaning with pink and white and blue. It is just perfect!

The same thing seems to be happening with friends’ creativity: suddenly a crop of fabulous new books have arrived here from friends far and wide. Each one deserves a full review and fulsome praise, but I’m off to Germany on Friday for 12 days so for the moment I just want to mention each of them, in gratitude for having been sent them, and in recognition for the authors’ hard work. May they all be immensely successful!

In order of arrival:

Karen Sawyer’s Soul Companions, published by O Books, is like a great basket of fruit – a gathering of interviews with dozens of spiritual teachers and facilitators who talk about their inner life – and in particular their experiences with guides and other figures in the ‘Otherworld’. Karen roped me in to talk about some of my experiences and has organized a weekend with a number contributors in Wales in September. Details here.

Order member Adele Nozedar’s The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Signs and Symbols. In almost 700 pages Adele manages to survey a vast amount of subjects. Other members have contributed to this series of Element, including John Matthews who wrote the Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures and John Michael Greer’s Encyclopedia of Secret Societies and Hidden History. They are all compendia that contain well researched information invaluable to readers who want to know more about these subjects. Adele’s Secret Language of Birds was wonderful – I’m sure her new book is too!

Lindsay Halton is the only person to have slept in our Wendy House before we turned it into a sauna. That was years ago. He is an architect who has been exploring Feng Shui, Sacred architecture, and what it means to ‘be at home’ in its deepest sense. He’s come up with a method of working with this using the ‘Homesouls’ oracle and a book, The Secret of Home – A Guide to Abundant Living, which has just been published by O Books. I read it in draft and loved it, and its great to see it finally out.

O Books has also published the last book of this Spring crop – Emma Restall Orr’s Living with Honour – A Pagan Ethics. At last a study of ethics within the Pagan tradition! Ethics has been a somewhat neglected subject for Druids, Wiccans, and non-affiliated Pagans of all kinds, but I think we can call 2008 the Year of Ethics – certainly for Druidry, with the publication of Emma’s book, which will be followed soon by Brendan Myers’ book (also published by ‘O’) on the Virtue Ethic. Brendan has also just submitted his paper for the Order’s Mount Haemus Award which he modestly entitles: ‘How Beautiful Are They—
Some thoughts on Ethics in Celtic and European Mythology. ‘ They may be ‘some thoughts’ – but they are very good ones, and they demonstrate the contribution a Druidic/Celtic perspective on ethics can offer to the world. Emma’s book promises to do the same – I’m very much looking forward to reading it.

Byron’s Paradise

May 12th, 2008

I recently got back from a few days in Portugal. Alexandre and Sofia run a publishing company in Lisbon and they were launching ‘Druid Mysteries’ in the Portuguese edition and asked me over to help promote it. As I traveled around with them, I wished that my daughters were there too, so they could witness what you can achieve if you believe in what you are doing and just get up and do it. Sofia is in her 20s, Alex just 30, and even though they started knowing nothing about publishing, they have learnt how to negotiate foreign rights with other publishers, the best way to produce and distribute books and so on. And now they publish 3 titles a month – really interesting books, beautifully designed.

We were staying in Sintra, 30 km out of Lisbon in such a beautiful spot – in wooded hills with tangerine trees in fruit. A palace, a castle, winding little lanes with picturesque houses. When Byron visited Sintra he thought he had discovered paradise. I think he was right.

We did a day’s workshop under the shade of a huge magnolia tree. Here we all are, only the small fluffy poodle who wandered in and out is missing from the picture:

The Nobility of Failure

May 9th, 2008
If you are a fan of the film Withnail and I, have a listen to Sue MacGregor reuniting the cast and the director. You can hear it on the BBC Radio 4 website – look for ‘Reunion’ on the right-hand menu.
The production company tried to shut it down while it was being filmed about 20 years ago – because they thought it wasn’t funny and would fail, but it has achieved cult status, with people watching it over and over again and knowing much of the script by heart.
It is a fabulous film that captures so well that era in Britain, and listening to the radio programme helped me to understand why I like it so much. One of the actors put his finger on it when he said that ‘spiritual nobility’ shines through it. When Richard E.Grant was asked what this could mean, given the grimy storyline and setting, he explained that the film was ‘gloriously British’ because it portrayed the ‘nobility of failure’. That’s it! The film is about failure and hopelessness and yet thanks to the ‘conspiracy of talent’ which created it, it shines.


May 1st, 2008

Over the next few weeks I’ll be gradually adding sections to the post below ‘In the Eye of the Storm’. Meanwhile normal posting will continue in the serendipitous way it has in the past. One of the joys of being involved in the Order is that it seems to attract highly creative people, and as a result I come into contact with an extraordinary amount of creativity and beauty almost every day. Take member Karen Ehrenfeldt’s work for example. Her website is full of images like this:

Timeturns by Karen Ehrenfeldt