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" A good traveller has no fixed plans,

and is not intent on arriving "

Lao Tzu

Happy New Year!

December 31st, 2010

Here’s to the new year…
May it bring more joy and success
And less grief and regret.
To our dreams…
…May we never stop believing in them
And taking the actions that will make them a reality.
To our friends and loved ones
May we take the time to let them know
How much it means to us
To have them in our lives.
Let us encourage more and criticize less,
Give more and need less.
And whenever we can,
Let us create harmony and peace.
To new beginnings…
Let us start fresh, right now,
To make this the very best year ever.
A very Happy New Year to all of us!
By Joanna Fuchs

Sussex Coastline - the Cliffs of the Seven Sisters

The First 11 Minutes of 1.1.11

December 29th, 2010

Here’s a project to use the power of combined consciousness to create a beneficial effect at the beginning of the new year. The idea is to spend the first eleven minutes of January 1st 2011 (1.1.11) meditating on Oneness. For details see: www.ekataa.net

Make History!

December 28th, 2010

Historypin:  Piecing Together the Story

In the pre-production phase of film making, art designers and sketch artists, sometimes even directors themselves, will plan a sequence of shots in a storyboard: a visual thread of images – rather like a cartoon strip – that piece by piece builds the narrative and gives movement and meaning to the unfolding story. The detail of each frame is carefully designed, the order skillfully sewn together, that we as the audience might inhabit that world and feel ourselves a part of it.
Images can work on our emotions and imaginations powerfully. Whenever we are confronted with an image whose history is unknown to us, we naturally feel curious about the hidden story, instinctively understanding that such moments are merely a pause in a wider series of tales with pasts and futures that we can only guess at. Storytelling is an integral part of being human.We make sense of life by creating our own storyboards – our memories edited together – each series of selected moments a montage that gives meaning and substance to our sense of ourself and our place in space and time.
A good friend has been involved in setting up a wonderful project that encourages this bringing together of seemingly separate and disconnected images in order to build a greater picture and a deeper understanding of what it means to be human. The site is called Historypin and it is a fantastic and ever-expanding resource of social and personal history through the medium of photography and story. It is mapped in a way that also helps us to make connections across decades, building a complex web of place, story, and movement through time. Here is how the site explains its purpose:

What is Historypin all about?
Historypin is a online tool that acts as a digital time machine, allowing people to view and share history in a totally new way.
Using Google Maps and Street View technology, Historypin aims to become the largest user-generated archive of the world’s historical images and stories.
The site invites the public to dig out, upload and pin their own old photos, as well as the stories behind them, onto the Historypin map. Uniquely, Historypin allows users to layer their old images onto modern Street View scenes, revealing a series of windows into the past.
Historypin is a global project. It was launched in London in June 2010 and in the next few years there will be events and projects held all over the world over.

If you would like to learn more or even download your own photos and stories please visit the site here: http://www.historypin.com/

Here is a short introductory film to start you off…

Here’s to Midwinter & to You

December 23rd, 2010
A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...

From the modern Bard Robin Williamson. Happy Solstice, Happy Christmas!

Here’s to Midwinter
Standing again at the crossroads
of Winter here’s to midwinter
and the twinkle of bright eyes
and here’s to me Tom Fool with my handful of holly
I’ll write the wren boys in, in frosty Antrim
& the Welsh with the Mari Llwyd

I’ll write a twinkle in those eye holes
in the lanes of Ceredigion
Claret faced Christmas
talking turkey will have its full say
with carols till your ears melt
but I’ll write magic
in a star hung sky
and what the wind whispers
on the black roadside nowhere
where the dead & the unborn
listen whispers this:
every kiss should be about what will be
every tear must be for what will never come again
here’s to midwinter and the twinkle of bright eyes
here’s to what cannot be taken
from the lowest in the coldest doorway
here’s to what the highest cannot keep
with the highest walls
here’s to what the granny and the wee baby knows
here’s to the heart beat of the world
and here’s to you.
Robin Williamson

Falling back in love with Mother Earth

December 21st, 2010

Here I talk to film director Billie Dean for her film This Sacred Earth – a documentary that asks how we can fall back in love with Mother Earth to save both ourselves and the planet. The film won a standing ovation at the Perth 2009 Conscious Living Festival. See the film’s website and trailer here.

Save Our Forests Campaign

December 20th, 2010
New beech leaves, Grib Forest in the northern ...

Over the Christmas holidays, lots of us will visit forests. They are wonderful places to spend time with family and friends and to enjoy nature. For many of us they’re the perfect place for a Boxing Day stroll or to blow away the cobwebs after New Year’s Eve. It’s scary to think that in the UK they could soon be sold off, fenced off and run down.
If you are visiting a forest over the holidays, please print off some posters or leaflets provided by the 38 Degrees Save Our Forests Campaign to put up and spread the word. If we all leave a poster in the car park of a forest we visit this Christmas, or maybe some leaflets in the visitor centre or cafe, our petition should be past 100,000 signatures before the year is out!
You can download leaflets and posters, and see a map of some of the main forests under threat, here:

The Salmon in the Spring

December 19th, 2010

'The Salmon' from The Druid Animal Oracle illustration by Will Worthington

BOOK REVIEW by James Nichol

The Salmon in the Spring: the Ecology of Celtic Spirituality by Jason Kirkey (Hiraeth Press 2009)

At the age of 12, Jason Kirkey had one of those ‘light bulb’ moments that can set a direction for life.  A relative was explaining why he had begun to explore the ‘old ways’ of pagan spirituality and said, ‘nature does not require our belief.  It is right there for us to experience’. Jason is from Massachusetts, of partly Irish descent, and his new found awareness led him over time to discover the ‘interplay of nature, story and ancestry’ as a practitioner of ‘Irish Earth-based spirituality and shamanism’.

Ten years later the salt had lost its savour.  Jason says that the problem wasn’t his practice, or the tradition itself, but his attachment to it.  ‘I had rooted my perceptions of myself into the culture and spiritual tradition’, but tradition can be double edged. It can give us heart and guide us.  It can also condition us to experience reality within a ‘very narrow range’.  Jason found himself in a dark night of the soul.

He found a way forward through an increased sympathy with Buddhism and the practice of sitting meditation and for some years he studied at the Buddhist inspired Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.  He says of this period, ‘whereas before my spiritual path was one of descent to soul and a healthy and soulful identity rooted in the earth, my practice now shifted to one of ascent and disidentification with the ego’.  He found his world coming alive in a new and different way.

Yet it wasn’t about moving from one tradition to another. Jason reclaimed his older practices and combined them with the new.  He sees all traditions as moving through ‘a process of re-imagination – of integration into the new story of the twenty-first century’.  He asks whether the old stories can live within this new story and his book sets out to demonstrate that they can.

Jason interweaves personal journey and creative revisioning with the help of traditional Irish stories, including the second battle of Maigh Tuireadh, Connla’s Well and the song of the Silver Branch. This is a pioneer’s book and I recommend it to any one interested in the possible futures of Druidry.

James Nichol 9 December 2010

The Changing of the Bard

December 18th, 2010

Visitors to London are familiar with the ‘Changing of the Guard’ at Buckingham Palace, but not so many know about a far more important event that is occurring in Exeter soon: the Changing of the Bard. Here is a Press Release recently received:

Monday 20 December, Exeter Phoenix Bar, 8pm, Free Event

On Monday 20 December at Exeter Phoenix, Liv Torc, the current Bard of Exeter (or, the Bardic Chair of Caer Wyse- to use the full title) will be hosting the ultimate bardic competition to find her successor.

Based on records dating back at least two hundred years, Exeter is one of approximately 30 ancient locations that have the right to elect their own Bard or “Bardic Chair” each year. The Bard of Exeter by tradition holds the post for a year and a day, before inviting challengers to succeed her/him in turn.

This year seven creative competitors will compete for the chair, robes and position in a head to head competition taking place at Exeter Phoenix from 8pm.  Spectators are encouraged to come and support the challengers and get involved in the judging.

Liv Torc photo by Alice Carfrae (c)

As outgoing Bard Liv will be hosting Monday night’s competition and will be present to hand over the robes and chair to the winner.

During her year as Bard of Exeter Liv has done a great deal for poetry in the city, including performing in charity events, helping to run Exeter’s first ever poetry festival last October, of which she was the poet in residence; hosting a regular open mic night at the Phoenix, holding a series of poetry workshops for emerging poets and running a slam to find Exeter’s best local poet.

“The Bard of Exeter is what you make it and I made it all about poetry. Exeter has a lot of fantastic poets and I wanted to use my year as Bard to provide more opportunities for poets to perform and audiences to hear great work. It’s been a lot of fun and I am really proud of what I have achieved – but now it’s time for a new flavour and a new Bard for the city.”

Once elected, the new Bard of Exeter will be supported in their role by the Grand Bard Mark Lindsey Earley, who is the keeper of the tradition.

Even Sharks need TLC

December 18th, 2010

On this video you see what a bit of TLC can do with a shark. Remarkable! This could come in handy if you ever get to meet one. If you can’t handle the music the really interesting bit starts at 2.30 mins…