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Black Elk

Care and Grace

August 31st, 2012

I love the photography of Rupert Davis. Rupert recently wrote an article for Serendipity Magazine on the theme of ‘Earth’, illustrated with a collection of his wonderful photos. In the piece, he writes of his concerns regarding the imbalance we have with the earth’s resources and our relationship with our own creative process. He writes of seeking an approach to both that is rooted in the qualities of  ‘care and grace’; two words that do indeed express something vital and life-giving that is so often missing in our consumption fuelled world. Here is a link to Rupert’s beautiful work:

If you would like to read Rupert’s article the link is here

The God Tree

August 27th, 2012

Here’s some info about a new book by Janis Fry, The God Tree researched by Allen Meredith and recently published by Capall Bann:

Janis Fry takes us back to a time before the coming of Christ when most cultures recognised the ‘God Tree’, the Tree of Life and were in communication with it. Some cults such as that of Mithras, even imbibed the sap of the Yew in ceremonies not unlike the Christian Eucharist which replaced them. However, the Yew enabled those who partook of its blood, to enter an altered state and parallel reality where it was possible to understand and experience certain truths of our existence. As we journey through the mysteries revealed in the God Tree, we are enabled to enter a state of mind more or less lost to most modern humans living in a different time and environment and disconnected from the true knowledge of the source of all life.

‘The God Tree’ reinstates the importance of the legendary World Tree or Tree of Life in the past history of most cultures. These trees have been seen in our times as purely symbolic but gradually the reader is led to the understanding that the Tree is a real tree which is still here. Significantly, ancient cultures saw the Yew as the Otherworld Tree which appears to act as a Door to Otherworlds and dimensions. To enter such places is not without danger and is not to be attempted  without extreme caution. particularly if partaking of Yew substances. Those who wish to understand something of the realms which underpin our daily lives will find just reading ‘The God Tree’ to be an extraordinary experience.But those who wish, as the authors hope they will, to take further steps in the return to what once was, will find here the very clues, symbols and information necessary to begin that journey back to the awesome understanding where there are no words, the gnosis, in the rebuilding of instincts and senses, still held by animals but largely lost by us. These are sorely needed today for our survival.

Oh! The Comfort…

August 22nd, 2012

The blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one’s deepest as well as most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely.

Oh! the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.

Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

Notes on Lewis Spence

August 15th, 2012

I want to share a little information with you about Lewis Spence, a Scottish writer and occultist who was a Presider of the Ancient Druid Order – the group out of which the Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids evolved. The following does not offer a biography, which can be found here on Wikipedia, but some insights into his character and way of life provided by a friend of his – Charles Cammell.

I first came across Lewis Spence’s work when I was studying Druidry with Nuinn (Ross Nichols). At that time I found a second-hand copy of his The Mysteries of Britain in a bookshop in Brighton and was captivated by his account of Druidry and by the pictures that accompanied the text – especially by the illustration of the towers of the magical city of the Druid alchemists at Dinas Emrys!  Read full article in the OBOD online library

'The Magical City of Emrys' by Wendy Wood, from Lewis Spence's 'The Mysteries of Britain'

‘The Magical City of Emrys’ by Wendy Wood, from Lewis Spence’s ‘The Mysteries of Britain’

Look on These Works and Despair

August 14th, 2012

This article from the BBC reminds me of Shelley’s poem:

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

From the article:

As growth slows, China’s huge investment in infrastructure is looking ever harder to sustain, leaving a string of ambitious projects – towns, shopping malls and even a theme park – empty and forlorn.

“We have spoken a lot about these ghost towns in Ireland and Spain recently [but China] is Ireland and Spain on steroids,” says Kevin Doran, a senior investment fund manager at Brown Shipley in the UK.

Investment in infrastructure accounts for much of China’s GDP – the country is said to have built the equivalent of Rome every two months in the past decade. And with such a large pool of labour, it is harder to put the brakes on when growth slows and supply outstrips demand.

“You have got seven to eight million people entering the workforce in China every single year, so you have to give them something to do in order to retain the legitimacy of the government,” Doran told the BBC World Service.

“Maybe 10 or 15 years ago they were doing things that made sense – roads, rail, power stations etc – but they have now got to the point where it’s investment for investment’s sake.”

“In Chenggong, there are more than 100,000 new apartments with no occupants,” according to the World Bank’s Holly Krambeck.

Read article

Beauty in Physics

August 13th, 2012

Fantastic! The science:

Fifteen uncoupled simple pendulums of monotonically increasing lengths dance together to produce visual traveling waves, standing waves, beating, and (seemingly) random motion.

For more details see…

The period of one complete cycle of the dance is 60 seconds. The length of the longest pendulum has been adjusted so that it executes 51 oscillations in this 60 second period. The length of each successive shorter pendulum is carefully adjusted so that it executes one additional oscillation in this period. Thus, the 15th pendulum (shortest) undergoes 65 oscillations.

Positivity and the Olympic Games

August 10th, 2012

Brilliant post from Damh the Bard, which I’ve pinched while he’s out of the country and pasted in here!

Maybe it’s who I hang out with. Or maybe it’s who I see on my social network feeds. Maybe there’s a whole negative vibe still out there, but from where I’m sitting the vibe of this country has really been lifted by hosting the Olympic games.

Look, I was a bit cynical myself in the lead up to the opening night. Seeing the missile launchers on the tops of buildings in the London, the ticketing issues, and the general idea that this country’s just a little too crap to host something of this scale and it not be a flop. But to be honest all of that evaporated when I sat down with friends over a few beers and watched the opening ceremony. It was quite simply jaw-droppingly amazing. I have to say that from my perspective it seemed mainly for us brits, and I think for good reason.

For a long time now there has been the idea that we are a bit crap at this kind of thing. We have also been on the receiving end of a few jokes about our attitude and lifestyles (some of these jokes have been quite warranted to be honest). However, what this opening ceremony did for me was to remind me just what an amazing impact this little island has had on the worlds of culture, literature and music. And that our wonderful NHS system (which is still the envy of much of the world) is to be celebrated. It also acted as a little reminder to the rest of the world watching just what this nation has achieved and what it stands for. The parts with Rowan Atkinson, pogoing weird punks, and James Bond and the Queen parachuting into the arena also demonstrated our love of not taking ourselves too seriously. I sat, watched, laughed, cried, but I also knew that it would be alright. We aren’t crap, we are amazing. This island is amazing.

Since then the media has been awash with coverage of the games. Almost all day on the BBC, then the opening stories on the news, and so far it has been a endless flow of positivity. I’m sure there are still bad news stories happening all over the world, but for this two weeks the top stories on the news have been tales of achievement, of successes, of people overcoming obstacles, and fulfilling dreams. This has got to be good for the psyche of this country. It’s certainly doing me good.

Instead of people who have become famous for appearing on a reality TV show, and then milking a career of dubious notoriety, we are watching people who have dedicated their lives to their crafts and skills, and succeeding. Instead of seeing sports people who are so obviously led by the promise of huge sums of money, we are seeing sports people representing their country who are led by the idea of success. If only a few of the young people watching turn their gaze away from the celebs in junk mags, and notice a better way, a way of dedication and talent creating success, then what a gift that would be!

Couldn’t agree more Damh!

More on Damh’s blog here

Do Forests have Rights?

August 10th, 2012

It steals and it kills. Coal has done more harm than good. Right now, I am on my way to visit some of the forests in Central India, that face the threat of destruction from coal mining.

So far we’ve got over 27,000 signatures asking the Prime Minister to protect our forests. We’re well on our way to 100,000. But October’s close but we need to move faster. The fastest way is to share the petition with your friends.

Watch the first in the series of videos that chronicles my journey and share it with your friends to get them to sign the petition as well.

Sharing via the internet has proven to be very successful in the past. People in Egypt and Tunisia overthrew oppressive regimes with the help of Twitter and Facebook. We can do this too and have a success story of our own.

Facing Death with a Full Heart and Open Mind

August 7th, 2012

I’d like to share with you a very special interview with a friend, Adrienne, who is dying – here in Lewes, just a short walk away. Readers of this blog might remember Adrienne’s beautiful blog post that she wrote while having mistletoe injections a few years ago: ‘God is in the Detail’.
That post rings true to me now more than ever, and is well worth reading and re-reading. Here’s a sample:

“If it is possible to be frog-marched down the road to enlightenment, I suspect it might go something like this. Gratitude: As I wrote last week, whatever time remains appears more intense. Little details seem like tailor-made miracles. Judgement and reactions: So what? Life really might be too short. Even those nasty people who are trashing my planet are, to me now, simply ignorant; let it all go. Bad habits: Stuff that; I want to live my remaining days to the full, not lost in a cloud. Forgiveness: It’s physically much easier to say sorry than to bear a grudge. Living in the moment: More than ever, so much of the busy-ness we call life and where we put our energies seems rather a waste of time. I can’t even work myself up into a lather about the credit crunch; faced with possible death, both the voice of the news and even the voices in my head seem tedious. What remains are the core values that we all live with; love, truth, hope, happiness, which, like the vegan-esque diet I’ve been on, contributes to a rather curious lightness of being.” Adrienne Campbell  Read the full post

Adrienne is now taking her journey with an incredible openness of heart and mind which is deeply moving. Here in Lewes there is a fantastic community of people on the path of opening to self-awareness and planetary awareness, and the other day we all joined in a meditation and ceremony for Adrienne in a beautiful garden she helped to create out of wasteland by the river. The sun shone, we wrote messages for our friend on strips of ribbon and hung them on a wicker gateway, then sat in a circle and sent her our love. Later someone played the violin and there were cakes and drink for those who wanted to stay awhile.

A few days ago another friend filmed an interview with Adrienne in which she talks about what it is like for her to be setting out on this journey. She speaks with such naturalness and awareness that it feels an enormous privilege to watch this interview. It helped to dissolve for me much of the fear I was still carrying. I hope you will also find it helpful and inspiring. Bless you Adrienne for this gift!

A detail: When Adrienne speaks about ‘Transition’ she is referring to the ‘Transition Towns’ movement. She has been a prime mover in the Transition movement here in Lewes.

The Orpheus Pagan Chamber Choir

August 7th, 2012

Blog readers might remember the beautiful music of Themon the Bard’s ‘Missa Druidica’ which was performed this year by the Orpheus Choir. If not, you can learn more on the video link at the bottom of this page, and you can hear samples on the audio files further down that page.

I’ve just received a message from the Oropheus Choir, which I’m sharing here:

A Pagan Choir?

Our name comes from the Orpheus of ancient Greece: legendary muscian, poet, and prophet. He was known for such feats as being able to charm all things, even the very stones beneath his feet, with his music. As Shakespeare put it in one of our songs, Orpheus with his Lute,  Orpheus made “trees and the mountain tops that freeze, bow themselves when he did sing.”

  We are filling a very particular niche with beautiful, enchanting, and inspired music. Our communities around the world are demanding more access to art that honors ancient traditions. We are responding to that call. 

 “Do you have a CD?”

   Ever since Orpheus was founded, people have been asking, “Do you have a CD?” With your help, we’ll be able to say, “Yes, and here it is!”

   We’ve become known for our unique events: our Twelfth Night Yule Concert & Viking Feast, our programs that fuse ancient with future. Why should our CD be different? We want to make the world premiere recording of the powerful Missa Druidica, our unique covers of Mummers’ Dance, Ancient Mother, We Won’t Wait, and other favorite Orpheus tunes.

 Why We Need Your Help

   We want to record just the way you love us: live musicians doing something that seems to touch people’s souls.

   We’re over 30 voices and instrumentalists. We can’t just hole up in someone’s garage and turn on a switch. If we were in Hollywood or New York, we could find a studio large enough to hold all of us, but here in Denver we need to rent space and a satellite recording truck! And we’re not using digital instrumental sounds either. It will be all live, all real, all Orpheus. 

   There’s magic to the mix of a professional CD. We need a wizard at the console, the sound engineer who creates ambience, atmosphere, and depth. Good ones don’t come cheap! Add to that the mastering of the CD, and we have quite the endeavor!

How You Can Inspire and Contribute


Orpheus has grown so fast that it’s hard to keep up with everything we’re being asked to do. We believe now’s the time for the CD people have been asking for. We humbly ask for your help to underwrite its costs.

 Please make a donation to our Indiegogo campaign! As a charitable organization, your gift to Orpheus is tax-deductible to the extent provided by law. That means you subtract the value of whatever perks you receive (like tickets, our CD, or Orpheus Tote Bag) from your gift and you can deduct the rest from your taxes. Indiegogo makes it really simple: just click and go!

  Give us the chance to satisfy our Muse and you’ll become part of a cultural movement for tolerance, acceptance, and exquisite musical beauty.