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" One touch of nature

makes all the world kin "

William Shakespeare

Druidry & the Ancient Religions of India

February 29th, 2012

While preparing today for a visit to India on Friday to attend a conference on Indigenous Spiritualities, I came across this interview that I gave in India in 2009 about the relationship between Druidry and their ancient religions. I hadn’t seen it before – perhaps because of the unusual spelling of my name.

If this subject interests you, you can find more on it here.

Maria Callas in Barbados

February 28th, 2012

Huntes Garden Barbados

I guess most of us recognize that it’s the apparently ‘little things’ in life that can often bring us a sense of meaning and happiness – which is why synchronicity and serendipity are so pleasing.

I’m just back from giving some workshops in Barbados and would like to share one of those moments with you. Stephanie and I drove to Huntes Gardens to see the lush tropical flowers and foliage that everyone recommended we visit. As we walked into the gardens it was indeed a paradise. And as we sat down to work a little more on the workshop we had planned for the following day, the haunting voice of Maria Callas as the Druidess in Bellini’s ‘ Norma’ floated across the air. She was singing  the beautiful  Casta Diva aria: the Prayer to the Goddess.

We thanked the owner for the way in which he plays opera all day in his garden. He told us only one person had ever complained about this: a conductor of a Philharmonic – no doubt seeking solace in silence…

Be Kind

February 15th, 2012


Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

Dalai Lama

The Music of Trees

February 15th, 2012



Artist Bartholomaus Traubeck has developed a system whereby he can create music from the cross section of a tree. Traubeck enables the tree to ‘sing by ‘playing’ the trees rings as he would a vinyl record. He speaks a little here of how it works.

The tree slice is turning like a disk and the tone arm is constantly being moved to the inside of the disk like on a regular record player. The difference is that basically it’s just a camera and this camera is a modified camera, a very fast one, and the camera has just moved in and it waits until there is a tree ring passing the camera’s field of view and then it is translated into a sound. Sometimes it is a series of piano tones, sometimes it’s just one sound and the melody is defined, for instance, by the rate of growth. In essence, I play the tree’s year rings.

An interview with Traubeck can be found here, http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=12-P13-00005&segmentID=7 along with the chance to hear some of the music that the trees create. It is fascinating that the different sounds are produced by different types of trees, for instance the song of the pine much different in feel to that of oak; each melody defined by patterns of growth.

The Quantock Hills

February 13th, 2012

38 Degrees is a UK advocacy group that was instrumental in mobilising public protest against the government’s proposal to sell off the public forests. Here’s a message they have sent out today. Do sign the petition if you can. From 38 degrees
Almost exactly a year ago, 38 Degrees members finally managed to stop the terrible plan to sell off England’s woodlands. It was a huge victory for people power and over 500,000 of us played our part in it.

We’ve helped keep our national forests safe.  But beautiful wild places owned by local councils could still be under threat. We can work together to protect these precious places too.

38 Degrees members in Somerset have been in touch to ask for our help. Their council is trying to sell-off a local natural treasure, known as the Quantock Hills. If the sale goes ahead, a beautiful area of woodland and open countryside could be at risk.

A huge people-powered petition can make Somerset Council think again and safeguard the Quantock Hills for future generations. Add your name now – local 38 Degrees members will deliver the petition to the Council before they decide:

The Quantock Hills are beautiful. Famous English poets like Wordsworth and Coleridge have written about them. Rare plants and animals thrive there. Hundreds of thousands of people visit every year. If they’re sold, there’s every risk we’ll see fences going up and crucial habitats in danger.

If Somerset Council get away with this, other councils across the country could start trying to sell off local wildlife havens too. Stopping Somerset Council should help stop these kinds of sell-off schemes becoming a new national menace. So it makes sense for all of us who stood together to protect woodland owned by our national government to speak up against Somerset Council’s local sell-off plan.

Add your name now in time for the Somerset council meeting this week:

'A Youngster on the Quantocks' Photo by Mark Robinson

Being Human

February 10th, 2012

Very nice concept – beautiful clean-clear website:


An unrelated picture:

Gaultheria Shallon by Gaultheria. Photo Wing-Chi Poon

Gypsies & Wild Women

February 9th, 2012

There are some amazing events planned over the next few months. Here are just two I’ve been told about today. For one I’d have to go in disguise though…

“Gypsies & Traveller Legends, Lore & Enlightenment”

A weekend of songs, dancing, traditions, folklore, plant lore with some of the finest characters and richest carriers of the old knowledge. Workshops, singing, dancing, storytelling & foraging!

Friday 24th to Sunday 26th February 2012 beinghuman warehouse, frome, somerset


Curated by Sam Lee, folk singer, song collector, teacher, forager and researcher who has spent many years tracing the musical journeys of the British Traveller and Gypsy community throughout England, Ireland and Scotland. This weekend will be a practical and entertaining exploration of unique repertoires of traditional songs, West Country dancing styles, stories, yarns and the rich vein of knowledge held within this ancient and secretive indigenous community.

The weekend includes screening, concert, workshops, guided walks, and opportunities for not only experiencing some of the riches of this secretive community but also to try out first hand many of the skills, songs and thought provoking gems that have been preserved down the generations. The legendary, rare film ‘Latcho Drom’, archival film and hard to see documentaries will be screened. The group will spend Saturday on a guided walk learning about edible foods, Gypsy foraging and hunting traditions, back at base we will spend our time sharing songs and tales, in the warehouse & outside by the fire or cosy in the yurt by the wood burning stove.

Guests include:

Debs Newbold : Master storyteller. Resident at the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Debs is a much sought after specialist on the folklore of plants and the landscape as well as a world class animateur of theatre and the folk arts.

Thomas McCarthy : One of the greatest discoveries in traditional singing in the last 40 years, Thomas is of Irish Traveller decent and is the carrier of an inherited collection of songs, knowledge and yarns from his rich community.

Ken Langsbury : Gloucestershire storyteller and singer who has gathered many tales and songs from some of the most renowned and long passed Gypsy singers in the West Country.

Lisa Sture : Is a specialist in Devon step dancing and a carrier of many rare local styles learnt in the untamed Gyspy style. She is also highly versed in the shamanic perspective of Romany culture and the deep connection maintained between them and the land. Lisa Also is an acclaimed raw food specialist.

Ed Stevens : One half of the famous wandering minstrels, Ed may possible have walked further within this country than any man in the last 200 years. Ed has gleaned immense knowledge and skills of the natural world from his self sufficient travels where he carried nothing but his song, his wit and his knowledge of the land.

Lucy Kaye : Critically acclaimed documentary film maker, Lucy Kaye has spent years studying some of the outsider communities in the UK, directing several widely broadcast films that tackle the issues within many of the disenfranchised groups within our shores.

Friday night
24.02.12 @ 20.00
Screenings & talks £10

Saturday night
25.02.12 @ 20.00
Acoustic performances & party £15

Saturday & Sunday
24, 25 & 26.02.12 @ 10.00 -17.00
Weekend ticket £100 or £150 with 2 nights shared, local dorm accommodation 24 & 25. Includes entrance to all events


to buy tickets & for more info


And: ‘Walking the Wild Woman’ a Retreat for Women at the fabulous Cae Mabon (see picture in yesterday’s post below). Facilitated by Angharad Wynne who talked to an OBOD Winter Gathering in Glastonbury recently. See their site Return to Centre for details.

The Lonely Battle of the Self

February 7th, 2012

There is no fate so terrible that it cannot be overcome – whether by a literal victory gained through action and in time, or the deeper victory of spirit in the lonely battle of the self. 

Robert Cochrane