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" One touch of nature

makes all the world kin "

William Shakespeare

The Practical University of the Autonomous House

June 22nd, 2012

A l’heure des incertitudes pour notre avenir et celui de nos sociétés ce séminaire organisé par la Maison Autonome propose dans une ambiance de paix et de détente, une réflexion en profondeur et des solutions concrètes fonctionnant depuis de nombreuses années qui préfigurent un futur au service de la croissance des consciences. Du 14 au 18 juillet

HEOL La Maison Autonome
Cette semaine cumule l’ensemble des activités proposées sur l’année
Elle apporte un changement profond de notre vision du monde et de nous-même
Passionnant et bouleversant d’authenticité
Du samedi 14 juillet au mercredi 18 juillet 2012
Une semaine Université Pratique
avec Patrick et Brigitte Baronnet, Jean Briffaut, Éric Sabot
Une semaine de pratiques expérimentées depuis 30 ans
sur les bases de simplicité, écologie, entr’aide, issues d’une
réflexion sur des alternatives crédibles.
* Techniques bioconstruction: isolation terre paille chanvre
* Economies et autonomie énergétique,
* Gestion de l’eau: eau gratuite, épurations par les plantes.
* Alimentation simple, saine, économe, bonne au goût et pour le corps
* Jardinage biologique, compost, gestion des déchets etc.
* Plus grande autonomie à l’égard de l’argent et des faux besoins,
* Comment réduire notre empreinte écologique à UNE seule Planète,
* Echanges et partages sur les alternatives existantes ou à venir
* Musiques, théâtre, films et fête
Espace gratuit, disponible sur place (tente, camping car). Liste des gîtes (sur demande)
Le séjour commence à 9h30 à la Maison Autonome le samedi matin et se termine le merceredi vers 17 h
Apporter: tenue adaptée (ateliers pratiques) et instruments de musiques
Détails et témoignages sur le site : http://www.heol2.org/lesstages/semainauto.html
La Maison autonome route de Louisfert 44520 Moisdon la rivière tel: 02 40 07 63 68 mail:maison.autonome@orange.fr site: heol2.org

The Wild Star Gathering

June 22nd, 2012

Natural Creative Workshops, Outdoor ‘Natural Arts’ trail with Earthkeepers
July 28th- August 19th 2012 10am-4pm

Come and join us in Stanmer Park (opposite Falmer station – one stop from Brighton in Sussex) to celebrate Lammas, an ancient tribal tradition. Wild Star Gathering is working towards unity, through creativity and reflection. There will be a natural arts trail to include ceramics, sculpture and textiles where permitted.
The energy of The Wild Star Gathering will be raised through community workshops and activities like drumming, singing or felt making. Earthkeepers intention is to help weave together the community through storytelling, circle dancing, fire ceremony and a despacho (prayer offerings to the earth) linking the earth with the stars.
Earthkeepers main celebration for Lammas will be on 18/19 August and includes creating a golden willow bower, corn dollies, singing and dancing, sharing food around the fire, setting our intention for the coming year. This is when we share our lovely ideas for our children’s children, setting our intention to bring these ideas into reality over the coming year. We will be embedding skills, ideas and visions for the future and coming full circle for the next cycle. This is a time when we think as part of a greater whole, for the good of the planet.

Workshops to include:

Sat 28.07.12 The Friends Centre, Brighton, BN1 4GQ

‘Dreams of Peace’, Felt making, 10am-4pm. Create felt wish flags and dream catchers using wet felting techniques. This activity is for adults with Ali Rabjohns, (beginners welcome).

Thurs 02.08.12 Stanmer Earthship

Third Eye Arts and Media & Penny Hart-Davies ‘Keep Out! 10am – 12pm, activity for 5-11 year olds with adult carer/parent. Natural Collage and Painting, 2pm-5pm. This is an activity for adults with learning disabilities. Forage and collect bark, seed heads, grasses and much more.

Sun 05.08.12 Stanmer Earthship

Third Eye Arts and Media & Penny Hart-Davies, Natural Mandalas 10am – 12pm  & Natural Tree hangings 2pm – 4pm,

Sun 05.08.12 Stanmer Earthship,

’Walking the labyrinth’ with Earthkeepers: 10am – 4pm(break for lunch approx. 12pm), adult workshop.We will be creating a labyrinth and drumming outside, (weather permitting).

Sat 11.08.12 ‘Breathing Space’ Willow dome

‘Dreams of Peace’ 10am-4pm, felt making activity for adults with Ali Rabjohns, (beginners welcome). Using the felt wish flags and dream catchers we made last time, we will create a ‘dream chamber’ installation in the willow dome .

Sun 12.08.12 at Willow Dome ‘Breathing Space’

Weaving The Threads Back Home’, 10am – 3pm, adult workshop. This is a collaborative workshop to help you create a beautiful community weaving , also using storytelling and sound techniques ,with Carolyn Richards.

Sun 12.08.12 Stanmer Earthship.

Pots and Paper Kilns 1,10am-1pm with Sabine Dahn. Use some wonderfully earthy clay to make a pot or two, then weave the beginning of your very own paper kiln to fire them in. (Firing to take place on 19th Aug.) Children allowed if accompanied by an adult.

Sat 18.08.12  Stanmer Earthship

‘Drum circle’ 11am – 1pm with White Buffalo Woman, Adult Workshop .Tree walks. Workshops for children. Celebrate Lammas with Earthy Women & Kids10am – 12pm & 2pm – 4pm. Create golden willow bower, corn dollies, sing and dance, bring food for the fire, Pots and Paper Kilns 2, 3pm-6pm with Sabine Dahn. Come again to complete weaving the paper kilns around the pots; if you haven’t made a pot before you may just want to help build some wonderfully quirky kilns

Sun 19.08.12 Stanmer Earthship,

Pots and Paper Kilns 3,10am-1pm,with Sabine Dahn, Watch the spectacular sight of the paper kilns being set alight to fire the pots!  Despacho ceremony 11am with Earthkeepers (Weather permitting), Circle dancing, Lammas ceremony and celebration 3pm, storytelling and natural art activities.

All activities: please bring lunch to share. Tea and coffee provided, Costs per workshop vary between £10-15 waged /£8 unwaged and £2-5 child + sibling, NB: the pottery course is 3 workshops and felt making is 2 workshops. If you’d like to book a place, contact ali@lucidhealing.co.uk or call 07528 614 747

The eco-friendly Brighton Earthship in Stanmer Park

Summer Solstice Sunrise in Portugal

June 21st, 2012

Happy Solstice! The OBOD group in Portugal has announced a celebration in conjunction with Lisbon town council in a nature reserve in the city.

What a fantastic example of the way in which nature spirituality is now becoming  accepted within mainstream culture.

The London Olympics is starting with a replica of the English countryside that includes Glastonbury Tor. Shouldn’t we offer to ascend the Tor robed (or skyclad!:) to greet the sun?

A Solstice Meditation

June 20th, 2012

Happy Solstice! Here is the text of a meditation I gave at our pre-solstice gathering in Glastonbury. After relaxing and centering we imagined ourselves on the hillside of the Tor, asking ourselves:

“How can I stand between the Known and the Not Known?

On this Threshold of the Year?”

Imagine the time has arrived – for you and for all humanity. The ending of a cycle.

The close of an era as we come to an awareness of all that we have done to this Earth that we love – that is our home.

And we know the cycle is ending, and we know we cannot know the future.

But we live in hope, and we know the wheel turns, and we trust in the power of the harvest – and in its goodness.

And we sense ourselves walking up that hill in the darkness before dawn.

Taking all our lives with us, summed up, brought with us to the summit.

For us – at this time – to unfold the wrapped gift we have been carrying: the sum-total of all that we have learned on Earth, and perhaps through all our lives: those lifetimes in Egypt and India, Peru and Mesopotamia, Europe, Tibet, Africa, wherever we have been – all that we have learnt, opening to us now at this harvest time of our lives, of humanity. This time of now.

And we reach the summit of the hill with the promise of dawn in the sky above us and before us.

And there are others who have gathered here too. One by one they arrive from every direction, to be standing and to be seated here. On the side of this hill awaiting the dawn.

And there are those who arrive who are not of the world that we know. There are the ancestors: the weathered faces of those who have gone before us, who stand as witnesses to the legacy of humankind that encompasses such beauty and such sorrow.

And there are beings present here whose nature is so mysterious we may never know their origins. They include creatures of wind and fire, of the rushing stream, of tree and flower, of rock and hillside. They include creatures of the Sidhe: the wild folk, the faery folk, the elemental powers of Mother Earth in their myriad forms of strength and consciousness and beauty. Here, present, on this Midsummer’s Eve.

And you pause in the stillness of this moment. All of your being, all of your awareness held in this moment.

And then – the first ray of sunlight appears over the horizon and strikes straight into your heart. Flooding it with light and warmth.

Gradually you feel that light and warmth spreading over your face, your body, as the sun rises before you.

The light and warmth flows into you, encouraging every flower in your soul to blossom, every leaf to unfurl. You feel filled with strength, filled with hope, filled with love and clarity.

You kneel down and touch the earth with the palms of your hands, sensing your love for the Earth. And you ask for a blessing on the land, a blessing on your life, a blessing on all life.

You lift up your hands and hold them to your heart…

And then you make your way down the hillside and as you do so, the scene fades from your mind and you become aware of being here in this place. Fully present. Here and now.

That morning a hundred brave members of OBOD had driven at 4.15 in the morning to catch the sunrise at Avebury. In previous years we have visited Stonehenge…

Summer solstice sunrise over Stonehenge 2005. Photo Andrew Dunn

Jesus through Pagan Eyes

June 19th, 2012

Mark Townsend’s latest book Jesus through Pagan Eyes is out in the USA and will be out soon in the UK. When he asked me to contribute to it I was hesitant – it’s the sort of project that risks interesting no-one, or upsetting everyone! Christians surely don’t care about what Pagans think, and Pagans won’t want to know about Jesus, so what’s the point? But after discussion with Mark, I saw the subject from a different perspective. Views about Christianity and Christ have had such an impact on the world – both positive and negative – that they certainly merit exploration,  and so I decided to explore what I really felt about this figure who evokes such ambivalent feelings for many of us, and accepted Mark’s invitation to contribute to the book. Along with many other contributors and Mark’s excellent introduction I believe you will find this book challenging and profound.

Here is what one reviewer thinks of it:

There certain words that just do not seem to go together. “Jesus” and “Pagan” most definitely fall into this category. Mark Townsend’s new book, “Jesus through Pagan Eyes”, addresses this discontinuity in a startling and inspirational way.

In the Western world we are in the midst of a profound spiritual search, involving many people. For a large number, nature has become a wonderful doorway through which to connect with the sacred. The way of the Druid, of Wicca and the Heathen, are becoming ever-more popular. Yet as Mark Townsend reports in his introduction, the figure of Jesus still fascinates a large number of people who would now call themselves pagan. This surprised him, just as it will so many of us. There is a rejection of the Church, but not its founder. As a Christian priest and a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, Mark is well placed to explore this unexpected phenomenon. He does so in three ways.

In the first part of the book, he revisits the historical figure of Jesus in the light of modern, progressive scholarship and proposes a new and radical way of understanding this awesome being. It is an understanding with which so many in our modern world could relate, who are otherwise disenchanted with traditional interpretations. It is also an understanding that echoes many pagan themes. The second and third sections of the book are especially interesting as they comprise stories and essays by, and interviews with, a selection of eminent pagans around this question. Altogether the book is a most valuable contribution to understanding an important area of the contemporary spiritual quest. It is a “must read” for anyone seeking insight into the modern encounter between these two ancient traditions.

Simon Small, Anglican Priest and Author

The Dalai Lama – Intense & Sort of Mellow

June 17th, 2012

From the BBC website:

Comedian Russell Brand and the Dalai Lama

Comedian Russell Brand has fulfilled his role as an unlikely compere for the Dalai Lama in Manchester, as part of the Tibetan spiritual leader’s UK tour. Brand introduced the Dalai Lama’s address entitled Century Of Dialogue – Stand Up and Be the Change. The Dalai Lama’s tour aims to spread the 76-year-old Buddhist’s teachings of peace and understanding to youngsters. Brand told the audience he had just met the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for the first time and found him “amazing”. The crowd at Manchester Arena was mainly made up of under-25s who were given free tickets for the event. The Dalai Lama told the audience the future was in the hands of young people who could make change happen. ‘Never give up hope – the 21st Century belongs to you,” he said.
“My generation belongs to the 20th Century, it has already gone so my generation are ready to say bye bye. You are the main people who really create the better shape of the world so therefore I think quite certain this century can be more pleasant, more peaceful and more equal.” He said vision, warm-heartedness and determination were necessary to attain those goals and that young people were more open-minded.

During the event Brand and the Dalai Lama appeared to form an unlikely double act.
At one point the Dalai Lama playfully tugged Brand’s beard on stage, and the comedian responded: “Not really a lot I can do in a situation like this. I just have to go with it.”
Brand described the Dalai Lama as “intense and sort of mellow, which is what you expect of someone who meditates five times a day”… Read the full article here.

Bank Robbing

June 16th, 2012

Now I know how it feels to rob a bank. Or at least the first stage of the ‘operation’. One of the guys in our men’s group is getting married and so we arranged a ‘stag night’. But because we are all ‘New Men’, which in our case means old men with distinct liberal and spiritual tendencies, we were left with the challenge of creating an experience for our friend that didn’t involve demeaning women (dialling in a stripper) or consuming toxic quantities of alcohol. After a brainstorming session which included suggestions such as a surprise visit to the opera at Glyndebourne (how civilized but how effete!) we opted for more drama.

We turned up at his place in the evening with five of us sitting and lying on cushions in the back of an old van. One of us went in to his house, blindfolded him (with his wife-to-be’s bemused cooperation) and bundled him into the back of the van. We then drove off into the night to a remote campsite in the hills.

He was then walked to the site, underwent a brief but what-proved-to-be powerful ritual, and we then whiled the night away with reasonable quantities of booze, and some fantastic jamming with a kora, two guitars, harmonicas and voices.

Back in the truck we felt like we were on our way to a heist again. I remembered the time the police shot a man dead in London because he was carrying something that looked like a gun (it was in fact a table leg that he was carrying to attach to something – presumably a table). Dirk’s kora wrapped in its case looked like some lethal anti-tank weapon.

The boys got home safely. No police. You can see the venue used here (the badly-named but fabulous Safari Britain):

If we’d had the time we would have arranged something with more drama, like this:

Earliest European Cave Art

June 15th, 2012
El Castillo Cave
The El Castillo Cave in Spain. The refined dating shows these paintings to be far older than anyone thought

Red dots, hand stencils and animal figures represent the oldest examples yet found of cave art in Europe.

The symbols on the walls at 11 Spanish locations, including the World Heritage sites of Altamira, El Castillo and Tito Bustillo have long been recognised for their antiquity.

But researchers have now used refined dating techniques to get a more accurate determination of their ages.

One motif – a faint red dot – is said to be more than 40,000 years old….

The oldest dates coincide with the first known immigration into Europe of modern humans (Homo sapiens). Before about 41,000 years ago, it is their evolutionary cousins, the Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis), who dominate the continent.

Dr Pike’s and colleagues’ work therefore raises some intriguing questions about who might have authored the markings.

If anatomically modern humans were responsible then it means they engaged in the activity almost immediately on their arrival in Europe.

If Neanderthals were the artisans, it adds another layer to our understanding of their capabilities and sophistication.

Read more

Jamie Reid’s Ragged Kingdom

June 13th, 2012

In Jubilee June, Jamie Reid – the pioneering and world-renowned artist of punk art who put the safety pin into the Queen’s nose – is coming to Leeds, bringing his 40 year retrospective and current show “Ragged Kingdom” to Temple.Works.Leeds for the month of June 14-July 14. There will be sound and fury, art, punk, poets, food and drink inside a Grade One Listed building site.

While most notorious for his iconic work with the Sex Pistols, graphic artist Reid is as well known for his long career as the punchline in the side of capitalism, who still paints “damn them all” over the images of the Monarchy. Monday May 28th saw the re-release of God Save the Queen by the remaining Sex Pistols to coincide with the Diamond Jubilee. Jamie makes a much greater point about authority and its abuse especially in today’s political, economic and social climate.

Jamie comes to Temple.Works.Leeds

Since his first visit in the summer of 2009 Jamie has wanted to exhibit his work at Temple.Works.Leeds, the Grade One Listed Holbeck warehouse with its extreme vistas, both raw and figured, and its history at the heart of the second Industrial revolution.

Not for the faint of heart, it is the rough and raw areas where Jamie will install his work, with the collections spanning forty years and including Suburban Press, Sex Pistols, How To Become Invisible / Leaving The C20th, Strongroom and Afro Celt Soundsystem-related material, as well as work that is associated with Jamie’s current Eightfold Year project, the magnificent towering teepees.

For more on inspired druid artist Jamie Reid’s exhibition.