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" Live out of your imagination

not your history "

Stephen R. Covey


February 11th, 2011



The government announced today that it would consider greater protection for forest already scheduled for sale. But their announcement does not affect the vast majority of England’s publicly-owned forest whose fate still hangs in the balance, and now Britain’s small but vocal minority of Druids have added their voices to the campaign to stop the government’s plans to dispose of it.

The number of Druids has declined somewhat since the 1930’s when the Druids counted Winston Churchill amongst their members, and their fraternity was over a million strong across the British Empire. Today most Druids are tree-hugging Pagans, although fraternal groups still exist, and there are plenty of Christian Druids – the Archbishop of Canterbury is an Honorary Druid of the Welsh National Eisteddfod, as are members of the Royal family, including the Queen. Estimates put the number of practising Druids today at 50,000 and Philip Carr-Gomm, Chief Druid of the world’s largest teaching organization, The Order of Bards Ovates & Druids, today announced plans to help in the campaign to save England’s forests:

‘For every day the government threatens to dispose of our national forests it will lose friends in every corner of society: from people who thought they were Tories and that their party would protect their countryside at one end of the scale, to former road protesters ready to commit their lives to protecting the forests at the other: and, in the middle ground, the usually silent majority of intelligent citizens already showing their support, through petitioning and through their loyal membership of opposing groups such as the Woodland Trust and Friends of the Earth.

Now that the consultation process has begun it is vital that we show the government what we think and feel. The central belief of the Druids – that the land, the forests and trees, and the wildlife they support, are sacred – is not such a strange idea to most people any more. They know that our world is threatened by so much today, and they feel deeply upset that the government has chosen to endanger our public woodland. And it is ironic that is has decided to do this in a year that is designated by the UN as the International Year of Forests.

We agree with the wide range of people and organizations  – including Lord Clark, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Jonathan Porritt and the Woodland Trust – who believe that the government’s proposals are ill-conceived and should be abandoned.

The Conservative Party uses the Oak tree as its symbol. The word Druid means ‘Oak Sage’ and the Druids have traditionally been considered guardians of these trees. In this capacity, we now ask the government to consider its responsibility to the environment and to future generations, and to withdraw its proposals.

We trust that the government will respond to the overwhelming opposition their plans have evoked, and welcome the announcement today that they will reconsider the conditions applying to forestry already approved for sale. We hope that the outcome of the consultation process will be a raised awareness of the need to protect our woodlands and conserve biodiversity, and that positive strategies will emerge.

However, if the result of the consultation period is a continued threat to the forests, we propose a symbolic public stripping of both the Conservative party and the Liberal Democrats of their symbols – a tree and a bird – both of which are likely to suffer if our woodlands are compromised.’

An image to replace the Conservative Party logo has already been created by the artist and socialist Druid Jamie Reid. Best known for his Punk Rock images, and work for the Sex Pistols, Reid’s work can now be found in the Tate Gallery. He has been involved in direct action campaigns against the poll tax, and the Criminal Justice Bill. John Marchant writes: ‘Jamie Reid’s unique vision articulates and gives form to some of the key issues of our times. He responds to the ever-increasing attacks on our civil liberties and shared common spaces with passionate anger and savage humour, and shows us ways in which we might re-organise our political and spiritual resources. This is the role of the shaman and Reid’s art acts like a lightning rod, returning us to the earth so that we might share the work of healing… After a ten year installation period with the Strongroom Studios in Shoreditch he is now immersed in discovering and revealing the Aspects of the Eightfold Year.’ John Marchant, Isis 2007. Reid’s site can be found here and his site that focuses on the Eightfold Year here.

The Order of Bards Ovates & Druids will be issuing a CD to raise awareness of this issue, and Jamie Reid has kindly agreed that we can use his artwork for the CD and that – in true anarchic style – we can graffiti it! Thank you Jamie! Here is Jamie’s original. Tomorrow I’ll post our graffiti version!

Irish Forests at Risk

February 11th, 2011

As here in England we struggle to maintain public ownership of what little forest remains in public hands, in Ireland a storm is growing as their forests too come under threat. Former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern is now chairman of a Swiss-based finance company, the International Forestry Fund, that is rumoured to be interested in snapping up Ireland’s equivalent of the Forestry Commission, which is severely in debt. If this happens 7% of Ireland’s total land mass will fall out of public ownership.

The Woodland League has organised a petition.  They write:

The Irish Government is moving closer to a huge sell-off of the public forests, currently managed by Coillte (The Irish Forestry Board), to private investors. An area greater than 1 million acres, equivalent to two medium sized counties, will be lost forever. This will include some of our most valuable native woodlands, wild places and some of the last refuges of our native flora and fauna.

Interest has been expressed by Swiss finance company Helvetia Wealth – who own the International Forestry Fund (IFF) – chaired by Bertie Ahern, (ex-prime minister of Ireland) as well as The China Investment Corporation.

Please sign this petition now to tell the Irish Government that Ireland’s Forests are not for sale. These forests are the inheritance of the Irish children and managed wisely can help secure Ireland’s social, environmental and economic future. A strong show of support, asserting our rightful ownership of the public forests will make all the difference. You can sign it wherever you are. Go to Petition.

As I looked into this I went to the site of the International Forestry Fund. I’ve visited the websites of MI6, MI5 and the CIA, but this is the only site I’ve been to which blocks my view of its front page with a demand that I agree to a set of Terms & Conditions before I can look at its front page!  Trying clicking ‘Disagree’ and you find yourself bounced to a different site.Here’s a quote from it:

Press Release Helvetia Wealth AG, November 26, 2009

Dublin / Zurich: The International Forestry Fund – a joint venture of the I.F.S. Asset Managers Ltd and Helvetia Wealth AG of Switzerland – today announced that the former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern will become Chairman of the fund as of January 1, 2010. The International Forestry Fund, created in March 2009, is offering the opportunity of direct forestry investment to institutional investors. The Fund invests in forestry in Ireland, the UK, and Central America, growing a mixture of species ranging from spruce and pine in Europe to tropical timbers such as teak, mahogany, and rosewood.

So have I got this right? The previous Prime Minister of Ireland is now head of a Swiss-based company that might buy up 7% of the countryside he used to govern? See Irish Sunday Tribune article.

Becoming Animal – David Abram’s New Book

February 11th, 2011

If you’ve read ‘The Spell of the Sensuous’ you will know how insightful David Abram is – his next book is now out and it’s going to the top of my huge pile of ‘Reading To Be Done’.  Here is what Richard Louv, author of ‘Last Child in the Woods’ writes:

David Abram is unique among interpreters of the wild voice within us. His first book, The Spell of the Sensuous, has become a touchstone for a needed shift in our thinking about the place of humans in the world. As the poet Gary Snyder remarked, that book helped map us back into the world. In his new book, Becoming Animal, Abram offers a startling new exploration of our entanglement with the rest of nature. This time, his focus is the intimate but sadly forgotten relationship between our bodies and the earth. By excavating the most ordinary and familiar of our experiences–the perception of shadow, the recognition of depth, the transience of mood–he re-opens for us the knowing that our bodies are intertwined with the flesh of the earth. I cannot imagine another book that so gently and so persuasively alters how we look at ourselves, and reminds us that sentience was never our private possession, that our very awareness is a means of participating in a more than human world. At no other time in Western history have we needed to listen to the wild voice within us, and to Dave Abram’s, as much as we do today.

The Quest

February 11th, 2011

Good stuff from Jim Carrey. Amazing what can be conveyed in just over 2 minutes!