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" The world is mud-luscious

and puddle-wonderful "


CNN Belief Blog – The Unedited Version

October 7th, 2010

CNN asked me to contribute a blog post on Druidry for today. Here it is:

The Druids have hit the headlines in the recent days because religious charity status has been granted in the UK to The Druid Network – a group set up to foster Druid values and projects.

This has caused excitement in a number of circles. Many Druids and pagans see this as a major triumph. Others are upset because they don’t think Druidry is a religion, they feel it is a philosophy or a way of life. Read more.

The final paragraph I wrote was edited out – probably because it just made the post too long, but here it is anyway:

Despite the way Druidry is embedded in culture and history, its emphasis on observing eight seasonal festivals, such as the solstices, is highly contemporary and speaks directly to those who long for a deeper connection with Nature. It’s not only Druids who have woken up to the crises of mass species extinctions, climate change, and environmental degradation through pollution, over-population and resource depletion. People of all faiths and none have started to realize what a mess we’re in and have begun to cross traditional religious divides to connect instead with our common humanity and our need to protect the Earth. On the summer solstice this year I stood on the summit of a hill near our town to greet the dawn with about fifty people: young and old, men, women and children. Some were Christian (including a priest), some Druid, some Pagan, but most probably wouldn’t want a label for their spirituality: they were there because they cared about the Earth and wanted to feel closer to it. And as the sun rose over the landscape there was a hush – a tangible sense of awe fell upon this small band of people standing there on a hill almost at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century.

The Spark Circus Troupe

October 7th, 2010

What a great project!

A friend writes: I will travel to Thailand to bring the joy of circus to refugee and migrant children living on the border of Thailand and Burma.
After some amazing experiences with PWB on their 6 month circus project in India in 2008 (which some of you may recall receiving updates of ), I have decided to join another project, this time for 2 months of voluntary circus work with children in Thailand.
Spark! Circus will be working in Mae Sot, in northwest Thailand on the Burmese border; many refugee camps are located nearby and it is the base for many migrant schools and orphanages established to help the Burmese and hill tribe children who have fled oppression, war and desperate poverty in Burma.
We will work with these children , their families and also the local Thai community and schools. There are over a 250,000 people in refugee camps on the Thai borders, tens of thousands of them are children; children with no identity, as they are not Thai and not recognized by Burma either. They have no protection, no freedom, and few prospects. People in these refugee camps are essentially prisoners, as they cannot leave the camps run by the military, or enter Thailand properly. They are supported the UN and Red Cross, and smaller NGOs that have set up schools and orphanages; they rely on these organizations as they cannot leave to make a life for themselves independently.
Spark! Circus project brings smiles and fun into the children’s lives – they look forward to the circus visit every year, and we try to leave them with some toys to play with until our next visit, and the skills to make some equipment too!
Through my performance work in the UK I have earned enough to fund my own travel, food and accommodation expenses for this project, but would be hugely grateful for any donations to support the work that Spark! Circus do in Thailand.
Donations will go towards circus toys to leave with the children, providing kits so they can make their own equipment, basic necessities such as t-shirts and blankets for them, and sometimes buying the children we work with a meal- in a country that’s produces rice and fruit, sometimes they only have a bowl of rice per day and fruit once a week! If they are very low on supplies, we will leave some food with them. Donations will also go towards transport costs – sometimes Spark! will collect children so that they are able to take part in the circus and see the show.
Donations can be made online at
Or send your donation to: Emily Ball, Spark! Project, c/o 2, Portwood Cottages, The Street, Warninglid, RH17 5SZ (cheques can be made payable to Andrea Russell, the project organizer)