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The Task

January 29th, 2012

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

– Rumi

Opal The Movie

January 26th, 2012


Opal Whiteley

God’s bells are ringing a call to prayer in the woods today — in the shadows of the woodland I found Mission Bell blooming by the pathway — all its beauty blending with the shadows round about. Bronze Bells and Rice-Root both describe it — flowers of various modest shades, all mottled and checkered over — roots like little pearls or tiny grains of rice. Fritillaria is the name the scientists know it by; but to wee children’s hearts the name Mission Bell is most dear – God’s little prayer flowers, calling us to think of Him and all His goodness. 

Opal Whiteley – The Fairyland Around Us


I have written in previous posts about the extraordinary story of the nature writer Opal Whiteley. Her childhood nature diary was published when Opal was an adult but later became the subject of controversy, its authenticity  brought into question by many who believed that Opal had forged the diary as an adult.

Whatever the truth behind Opal’s writings, her work is deeply touching and does indeed possess a child-like, mystical and magical engagement with the natural world.

There is now a film about her life; an independently made and beautifully shot movie that deserves wider interest. For a short time the film will be available to buy at the movie’s website and it is also available via the Tribecca Film Institute’s Reframe Collection at .

Here is a poem from her 1923 collection The Flower of Stars:

The Little Room

In Man’s heart is a little room.

He has named it


And things are arranged along its wall

That he does not wish

To think about.

Every time he pushes something in there

He closes the door very tightly

But in hours when he is weary,

In the hours that walk around some midnights,

When high fires have burned

To a low flicker,

Then the little door swings on its hinges.

And no thing

Will make it stay closed

All of the time.


When he is near death

All the velvet-footed wanderers in there

Join the throng around his bed,

“We will not die,” they whisper

To one another

While Beauty waits with drawn lips and dry eyes.

But there is heard

The patter of a little sad rain

In her heart’s garden

Where some little flower buds

That were once thinking of the sun

Will never open

Because man keeps a little room

Of oblivion in his soul.

A still from 'Opal'

The Bradshaw Foundation British Isles Prehistory Archive

January 26th, 2012

The Bradshaw Foundation’s website offers an amazing treasure-trove of information: Films on cave art all over the world, an informative interactive section on genetics and ancestry and much more. Their latest Newsletter announces their British Isles Prehistory Archive:

Winter 2012
British Isles Prehistory Archive

The British Isles Prehistory Archive presents a rich array of monuments, art and tools found throughout the British Isles.

The island was first inhabited by people who crossed over the land bridge from the European mainland. Traces of modern humans – Homo sapiens – date from about 30,000 years ago. Until about 10,000 years ago, Great Britain was joined to Ireland, and as recently as 8,000 years ago it was joined to the continent by a strip of low marsh to what is now Denmark and the Netherlands. Great Britain became an island at the end of the Pleistocene ice age when sea levels rose due to isostatic depression of the crust and the melting of glaciers.

Introduction to the British Isles Prehistory Archive

The Story of the Baiji River Dolphin

January 24th, 2012

Here is a lovely guest post by Andreas Kornevall.


The Story of the Baiji River Dolphin

In the year 354 BC, there was a young Princess who lived on a tall sailing ship called the Dragon of the White Jade.  The ship was built by Master Chen, China’s greatest ship builder; it had over one hundred rooms, all of them richly decorated with gold and silver carvings depicting the life on the Yangtze River.  When the ship set sail, the villagers gathered alongside the river banks to celebrate with the Emperor and his consort. Princess Baiji was loved by all her people, she was vivacious and always cheerful and many could hear her laughter and her joy was felt from afar.  She would rarely leave the river, she spent days swimming, collecting shells and pebbles along the lush river banks.

But her carefree life could not last forever.  Her father, the Emperor, believed she was wasting her life away swimming in the currents and running on the river banks.   He decided that she should marry a great Prince and he made the declaration to the whole Empire before Princess Baiji was informed.  It was a momentous occasion and everyone rejoiced and began preparations for a lavish wedding on the Dragon of the White Jade.

Princess Baiji was the last to find out.   When she was summoned to her father, she was given a list of duties she would have to perform as the wife of the Prince.  The Emperor sent her away to prepare for her new commitments to the Prince.  During this time of preparation for her wedding, she learned that her life would no longer be spent swimming along the warm currents of the river, or ever having time to admire the shimmering waters with their hidden shells and jade stones.  She became heartbroken.

She went to her father and told him she had decided not to marry the Prince, instead she wanted to continue spending her days bathing in the river and collecting jewelry.  This revelation flew like a stray arrow into the Emperor’s heart.  He retaliated by saying that she had brought shame on the family and to the whole Empire. In his rage and fury, a sudden madness overcame him.  The Emperor’s loss of face had made him blind to the love that he had felt for his daughter and he sentenced her to be put to death. The guards of the Emperor took her roughly by the arms and led her outside, whilst the people shouted for the Emperor to stop this folly. The next morning, she was forced to stand aft on the ship.  The guards pushed her overboard into the currents and as she was bound by strong silk threads she drowned.

As she lay on the bottom of the river, the River God himself was moved to pity.  He breathed life back into her and loosened her silken threads.  As a River God he was able to transform her into a creature who lived in the river.  He willed that her smile become permanent on her new slender beak, and he made the happy twinkle in her eyes shine at all times.  Her body began to transform, and she grew a tail and a fin. He turned her into a River Dolphin.  When she told the River God about her story he reacted full of fury.  He arose from the river and stirred up a storm, capsizing the Dragon of the White Jade.   The Emperor was thrown into the dangerous currents where he struggled for his life.  When Princess Baiji saw her father, she could not help but to feel a strong sense of compassion within her and she was moved to act.  She came to his rescue and swam with him to safety.  When the Emperor looked into the eyes of the River Dolphin he was reminded of his daughter and his sense returned.  On the bank he sat and wept bitterly over his wrongful doing.  From this selfless act of the River Dolphin, the Emperor decreed that all River Dolphins would always be protected in his Empire.

The people alongside the river banks were delighted to witness the playfulness of the Dolphin and as time passed she became a symbol of peace, laughter, and prosperity.

Legends say that she married the River God and for centuries, she lived in peace in the quiet waters and over time she became known as the Goddess of the Yangtze.

The Baiji River Dolphin was declared extinct in 2006.

(c) Andreas Kornevall

Robin Gibb’s Titanic Requiem

January 22nd, 2012

The Titanic Memorial Belfast photo by Albert Bridge

This should be wonderful! The first performance will be 10th April, the 100th anniversary of the loss of the Titanic.

From the BBC website:

Bee Gees star Robin Gibb is to make his classical debut with an album about the sinking of the Titanic.

He has collaborated with his son, RJ, on The Titanic Requiem to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the disaster.

Read more in the BBC article here.

Closer to God…

January 17th, 2012

We are closer to God when we are asking questions than when we think we have the answers.

~ Abraham Joshua Heschel

(1907 – 1972)

Polish-born American rabbi and leading Jewish theologian

Dogs and the Tarot

January 12th, 2012

I’m working away to finish our lovely new website by Imbolc, hence few posts here, but just recently some photos came in from the last two workshops I did on the Tarot – one in France and one in Germany towards the end of last year. Using the Tarot in workshops creates a wonderful atmosphere of colour and images, as you can see from these pictures, and it seems to attract dogs too. In France they were occasional visitors while we worked, in Germany, Gloia the beautiful Koolie mix with ice coloured eyes, spent the whole weekend with us and ended up running the workshop…

Tarot Workshop at the Psychosynthesis Centre Bordeaux

Our reader is thanked for her startling insights

Gloia indicates the card I should be talking about

Gloia indicates the card I should be talking about

The Holly King

January 9th, 2012

Here is a wonderful post by Damh the Bard which he has very kindly shared from his fantastic Blog, which you can find here: 

I shall be as the Dark Holly King,

Darkness and cold in my cloak I will bring,

And on Winter’s nights to me you will sing,

Til the air around me starts changing,

And on the Noon of the Solstice I’ll give up my crown,

To the Light, and the mighty Oak King!

– Noon of the Solstice from Spirit of Albion

The Dark Lord, the Holly King, Arawn, Lord of Winter, a deity known by many names, one whose Zenith was marked at the Winter Solstice on the Longest night of the year, yet whose power and strength only seems to get stronger throughout these first few months of the Waxing Year. I have a deep and personal connection with the Oak King, Lord of Summer, but I have sadly not always felt that same connection with his darker brother. This is something I am addressing this year.

I remember playing a talk given by Professor Ronald Hutton on DruidCast where he said something like, “Pagan Gods are great, and full of hoof and horn, and sweat, and the men’s locker room, but which Pagan God would a parent take their sick child to for healing, or to offer love and comfort if that child had passed away?” Our Pagan Gods are wild, as is Paganism itself, but sometimes I feel that reflection, peace, calm, prayer, silence and love are too quickly labelled as ‘fluffy’. The irony is that, although Winter can be a harsh time of year, it’s also a time where the Earth appears to be hibernating, is calm, peaceful, and often silent. Of course there are storms, but there is also a stillness that is tangible. Walking through a woodland in late Autumn/Winter you can see deeper into it, I find the leaves underfoot comforting, and the oasis of the green of Holly and Yew remind me that although the God I know well is resting, or growing as a small child, I am still not alone, as the eyes of the Green Man’s face of evergreen is still watching me.

Whereas the Spring and Summer are times of bursting activity, it is the Autumn and Winter that give me these times of reflection. So although the Holly King’s face is thorny and tough, I feel it is to him I can go to in times of pain and hurt, for healing, for comfort. Less hoof and horn, and more a reminder that I am never truly alone, even in the darkest of times.

Damh the Bard