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" A good traveller has no fixed plans,

and is not intent on arriving "

Lao Tzu

IKEA Was Here Before the Druids & Before Stonehenge

February 28th, 2011

Text reads: Important! Ensure all components are free from mud, dung and evil spirits before assembly. Wear appropriate safety equipment (spear, flint knife etc.) in the event of bears. Small parts are not included. If plagued by demons or suffering from pestilence, seek advice from a druid before attempting assembly. May contain quartz.

(c) QI Ltd / Faber. Published in the QI H Annual. Written by Justin Pollard with input from John Lloyd and Stevyn Colgan.

Olivia Durdin-Robertson on the Chakras and Death

February 25th, 2011

As well as founding the Fellowship of Isis, Olivia draws and paints, has written novels and non-fiction, travels the world talking on the Goddess, and at the age of 94 is still going strong. Here we see her painting and talking about the chakras and death, saying: “The idea that we are fluffy and non-existent when we are dead is nonsense!”

The Return of the Feminine

February 25th, 2011

When I was studying Druidry with Ross Nichols as a teenager, he introduced me to Olivia Durdin-Robertson – I think it was at an Imbolc ceremony at his flat in London in the 1970s. Olivia exerted the most profound influence on me with her encyclopedic knowledge of world religions and occult philosophy and her warm, generous and eccentric personality. As a result of that meeting my life changed completely. She invited me to visit her at her family’s castle in Ireland and on my second visit I was invited to live there. I dropped out of university and the adventure began! I have just received a message from a film-maker who has made a 70 minute documentary on Olivia and her work with the Fellowship of Isis. Never have I ordered a DVD with such speed! Here is a trailer for his film. It’s beautifully produced. I hope you enjoy it! The film’s website with ordering information is here.

Rizzle Kicks Can Keep You Awake

February 22nd, 2011

Warning to parents: if your daughter goes out with a ‘muso’ and you are foolish enough to allow them to make a video in your house, be prepared for anything. Fireworks in the garden at 1am. A camera crew in your bathroom at 4am. Is love limitless?

This one wasn’t filmed in our bathroom thank god. But I do like the way in this one that we all have to wait for Jordan to make his toast half way through.

The Way of Love

February 22nd, 2011

The way of love is not a subtle argument,
The door there is devastation.
Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom.
How do they learn it?
They fall and in falling, they’re given wings.


A Catalyst for Non-Violent Revolution

February 21st, 2011

In the light of what is happening now in the Middle East, see this article from the BBC

Gene Sharp: Author of the nonviolent revolution rulebook
By Ruaridh Arrow Director of the film Gene Sharp – How to Start a Revolution

In an old townhouse in East Boston an elderly stooped man is tending rare orchids in his shabby office. His Labrador Sally lies on the floor between stacks of academic papers watching him as he shuffles past.

This is Dr Gene Sharp the man now credited with the strategy behind the toppling of the Egyptian government.

Gene Sharp is the world’s foremost expert on non-violent revolution. His work has been translated into more than 30 languages, his books slipped across borders and hidden from secret policemen all over the world.

As Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia and Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine fell to the colour revolutions which swept across Eastern Europe, each of the democratic movements paid tribute to Sharp’s contribution, yet he remained largely unknown to the public.

Despite these successes and a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2009 he has faced almost constant financial hardship and wild accusations of being a CIA front organisation. The Albert Einstein Institution based on the ground floor of his home is kept running by sheer force of personality and his fiercely loyal Executive Director, Jamila Raqib.

In 2009 I began filming a documentary following the impact of Sharp’s work from his tranquil rooftop orchid house, across four continents and eventually to Tahrir square where I slept alongside protesters who read his work by torchlight in the shadow of tanks.

Gene Sharp is no Che Guevara but he may have had more influence than any other political theorist of his generation.

His central message is that the power of dictatorships comes from the willing obedience of the people they govern – and that if the people can develop techniques of withholding their consent, a regime will crumble.

For decades now, people living under authoritarian regimes have made a pilgrimage to Gene Sharp for advice. His writing has helped millions of people around the world achieve their freedom without violence. “As soon as you choose to fight with violence you’re choosing to fight against your opponents best weapons and you have to be smarter than that,” he insists.

“People might be a little surprised when they come here, I don’t tell them what to do. They’ve got to learn how this non-violent struggle works so they can do it for themselves.”
Catching fire

To do this Sharp provides in his books a list of 198 “non-violent weapons”, ranging from the use of colours and symbols to mock funerals and boycotts.

Designed to be the direct equivalent of military weapons, they are techniques collated from a forensic study of defiance to tyranny throughout history.

“These non-violent weapons are very important because they give people an alternative,” he says. “If people don’t have these, if they can’t see that they are very powerful, they will go back to violence and war every time.”

After the Green uprising in Iran in 2009 many of the protesters were accused at their trials of using more than 100 of Sharp’s 198 methods.

His most translated and distributed work, From Dictatorship to Democracy was written for the Burmese democratic movement in 1993, after the imprisonment of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Read full article on BBC site here

Some of Sharp’s Methods
* Develop a strategy for winning freedom and a vision of the society you want
* Overcome fear by small acts of resistance
* Use colours and symbols to demonstrate unity of resistance
* Learn from historical examples of the successes of non-violent movements
* Use non-violent “weapons”
* Identify the dictatorship’s pillars of support and develop a strategy for undermining each
* Use oppressive or brutal acts by the regime as a recruiting tool for your movement
* Isolate or remove from the movement people who use or advocate violence

Save Our Forests Loin Girding Fatigue

February 18th, 2011

Loin girding gets tiring. Equanimity rather than struggling to defend something, is what suits me best. I want to meditate quietly in the forest and not have to keep defending it.

Yesterday like the half a million other people who signed their petition, I got an email from 38 degrees saying: “We’ve saved our forests! The government has just announced that they’re going to scrap the forest sell-off. Together we convinced the government that our forests should be protected for future generations, not sold to the highest bidder.This is our people-powered victory. Next time someone tries to tell any of us that signing petitions or emailing our MPs doesn’t work, we’ll know exactly what to say: “People power does work. Just look at the Save Our Forests campaign”.

It’s fantastic news and 38 degrees did a great job rallying everyone. But a few hours later I got an email from the Woodland Trust saying: “It doesn’t end here…Whilst welcoming Government intentions to abandon plans for disposal of public forests, the campaign to protect and restore England’s ancient forests must go on.
We welcome the opportunity for a more considered approach to the future of our much loved woodlands but our campaign continues. Whilst we welcome the removal of threats to public access, there is still an acute need for better protection of Ancient Woodland, our equivalent of the rainforests, and restoration of ancient woods planted with conifers.
Even if there are no sales of publicly owned forests, the worst of all worlds would be for there to be no change to the loopholes that have allowed 850 ancient woods to be threatened by built development over the past decade. Ministers have made strong commitments over the past few weeks to increase protection for ancient woods, and we will be holding them to these commitments.
As I write, there is a proposal to water down protection for ancient woodland in the planning system. We need your help to defeat this proposal by 28th February.”

A part of me groans that we still need to keep at it to protect the trees. But before we all start ungirding ourselves let’s just add our voices to the Woodland’s Trusts campaign to close the loopholes and stop the watering-down of planning law in relation to woodland. You’ll find details here and a way – whichever country you live in – to send an automated message to Alan Scott, in the Department for Communities and Local Government, who is dealing with the planning consultation. In needs to be done before Feb 28th. And don’t think it won’t make a difference! Remember what has just been achieved precisely through getting our voices heard!

Maybe we still need Jamie Reid’s picture after all – here shown in a new version (graffitied by us) for Goddess lovers:

People Power Saves Forests

February 17th, 2011

From this morning’s Guardian, by Nicholas Watt and John Vidal:

David Cameron has ordered ministers to carry out the government’s biggest U-turn since the general election by abandoning plans to change the ownership of 258,000 hectares of state-owned woodland.
Caroline Spelman, the environment secretary, will announce on Friday that a consultation on the sale of forests will be ended after a furious backlash that united Tory supporters with environmentalists and the Socialist Workers party.
“The consultation is going to be terminated,” a government source has said. A No 10 insider added: “It’s a cock-up. We just did not think.”
The prime minister, who told MPs that he was not happy with the government’s handling of the issue, has ordered Spelman to:
• End the consultation on plans to dispose of about half of the 258,000 hectares of woodland in England run by the Forestry Commission by 2020.
• Establish an independent panel with environmentalists to reach consensus on reforms to improve access and biodiversity in forests.
• Drop clauses in the public bodies bill that would allow the government to sell off all of England’s forests. Under current laws only 15% of forests can be sold.
One government source said: “We have heard, we have listened. The consultation will be canned. The consultation will be terminated. It is now a case of coming up with something everyone is happy with.”

Read full article

Breaking News on Forest Sell-Off

February 16th, 2011

Ministers ‘to abandon plan to change forest ownership’

The government is preparing to abandon its plans to change the ownership of thousands of acres of state-owned woodland, the BBC understands.
Government sources said ministers will, on Friday, announce that the current consultation be halted.
Instead, it is understood a new panel of experts will be set up to look at public access and biodiversity within the publicly owned woodland.

from the BBC website tonight.

The Green Heart of England is Not For Sale

February 16th, 2011

David Bellamy articulated the feelings of most people when they first heard the news of the government’s proposed disposal of all of England’s public forest: “The green heart of England is not for sale.”

It looks as if the message is getting through. Over half a million have signed the ‘Save Our Forests’ petition organised by grass-roots movement 38 degrees and today David Cameron signalled that the plan may be ditched. Here’s how the FT reported it:

Cameron signals U-turn on forest sale
By Jim Pickard, Political Correspondent Published: February 16 2011 16:28
David Cameron has executed a sharp U-turn over the sell-off of much of Britain’s state-owned woodland in England, telling the House of Commons that he did not approve of his government’s own policy.
The decision emerged at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, when Ed Miliband, Labour leader, asked the prime minister if he was happy with the plan, which could raise up to £350m for the nation’s coffers.
“The short answer to that is, no”, Mr Cameron replied, taking MPs on both sides of the Commons by surprise.
The statement undermines Caroline Spelman, environment secretary, who has been pursuing a review of the Forestry Commission as part of her attempt to cut costs at the Defra ministry under last autumn’s spending review.
Ms Spelman planned to sell much of the “commercial” forestry on long leases to private operators while transferring native “heritage” woodland to charities and community groups.
But Tory and Lib Dem MPs, inundated with letters of complaint, have been unhappy for weeks about the huge public backlash surrounding the policy. “It’s been handled appallingly, it’s a cock-up,” said one minister. Some backbenchers have privately raised questions over Ms Spelman’s cabinet future as a result of the row…Mr Miliband had mocked the prime minister in the Commons, saying: “Even he must appreciate the irony. The guy who made the tree the symbol of the Conservative party flogging them off round this country.” Read full article at FT site.

The irony of a party with a tree as its logo behaving in this way has occurred to many. Our Druid group has been working with the idea since it began. Melanie Philips, of the Daily Mail telepathically picked up our thoughts (ha!) and voiced them on TV on the BBC’s Question Time, suggesting a felled oak and a dead stag as the Conservative logo, and a new party logo appeared on the Guido Fawkes political blog recently, shown at the top of this post.

Sex Pistols artist and radical Druid socialist Jamie Reid has produced his version of a new logo. And he’s let us change it. He’s also working on a new version for an album of songs about trees we’ll be bringing out soon entitled ‘The Green Heart of England’. If the government sees sense it will be a celebration album and profits will go to The Woodland Trust, Tree Aid and Trees for Life. If campaigning needs to continue then profits will go to Save Our Forests. We may well need to continue to apply pressure and voice our concerns until the future of the forests is secured.