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Mt Haemus 2012

September 30th, 2012

Just back from the Mount Haemus Day in Salisbury: a fantastic combination of speakers, musicians, poets and artists who joined forces to provide us with a day of intellectual and artistic stimulation. More information and photos will be in the Mount Haemus section of soon (here) but in the meanwhile a few photos from yesterday’s event:

The four Mt.Haemus scholars for the 2012 Gathering. L to R: Thomas Daffern, James Maertens, Andy Letcher, Julian Barker

Four of the bards who entertained us. L to R: Liz Cruse, Claire Hamilton, Arthur Billington, Louise McCabe

The Medieval Hall in Salisbury with Liz Cruse reciting an invocation to the Goddess and to the healing power of herbs, developed from a 12th century Belgian text, to introduce Julian Barker’s talk on herbal healing

Alternative Funerals

September 27th, 2012

More and more people, particularly in the alternative field, know that they don’t have to stick to a conventional religious or secular/humanist funeral service. They know that they can ask a celebrant to tailor-make a service that suits their needs and interests, and on the OBOD website we list members who offer to do this: (See here).

But in the wider world, many people are unaware of the fact that such an option exists. We have just been approached by a company making a documentary on this subject, and having talked to them I believe they will produce an informative and helpful programme. Do get in touch with them if you are in the UK and think you can help. They are keen to hear from people planning, holding or facilitating such a funeral. Here is the message they asked me to pass on:

My Perfect Funeral (working title)

Planning a personalised funeral? Breaking with convention?
We’re making a really positive television documentary for Channel 5. We would like to show the diverse range of possibilities for people to take control of their funeral and create ceremonies and memorials that are more personal and reflective of the individual concerned. The documentary aims to explore all the diverse ways this can be done which the wider public may not know about.

As producers, it has been a real eye opener to learn that the conventional funeral is a Victorian invention and that legally we are much freer to do things differently than we ever realised. We’d love to get this across and to illustrate it we’d like to meet people who are planning a personalised funeral or memorial. We are not prescriptive and open to all new suggestions. We will be filming from mid September to the end of October.

The tone of the programme will celebrate the diverse range of commemorations that are possible and highlight a more contemporary approach to marking death in a really positive way. We hope the film itself may serve as a good memory and we can make it available to families. In certain circumstances we may be able to contribute towards expenses.

Back2Back Productions is a Brighton-based documentary production company specialising in high quality factual programming and you can see our work on the website .

If this sounds interesting please get in touch and feel free to ask us anything at all about the project. or 01273 227700

OBOD East Coast Gathering

September 27th, 2012

Just back from an inspiring, sun-filled visit to the US. One of the highlights of the visit was attending the OBOD East Coast Gathering in Milford, PA.

More on this weekend soon, when we’ve unpacked! In the meanwhile here’s a photo taken the day after the gathering, at Fruitlands, where a group of New England Transcendentalists started a commune. It feels like a good image with which to honour the vast continent of America.

We had a magical time on our visit, and I’m looking forward to posting an account with photos. Meanwhile three blog reviews of the camp, with photos, are already up: you can find John Beckett’s here, Dana’s here, and A Druid Way’s blog here and photos here.

Alice Friend at the Calabash Bistro

September 26th, 2012

A dear friend with the lovely name of Alice Friend has sent me news of her exhibition in Vancouver. Her art is gorgeous and if you happen to be nearby, do pop in to see it at the Calabash Bistro, run by an old wrestling partner of mine from way back….

If you’re not nearby have a peek here:

Alice writes: ‘My inspiration comes from a playful joy. When I paint I feel an inner tickle that expresses itself through colour, humour and delight. With this in mind, I invite you to experience my playground of creativity. Opening September 16th 2012 at Calabash Bistro, Vancouver.( )

The Real Work

September 25th, 2012

The Real Work

by Wendell Berry

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

 from Standing by Words.

There May Be Trouble Ahead…

September 24th, 2012

Here is a guest post by Druid Luke Eastwood. Luke is the author of the excellent The Druid Primer.

This is the first blog I have ever written and how nice to be invited to write one as a guest! As we approach the end of the year I have become aware of an increased tension on many levels – the world economy, middle-eastern politics, the worst grain harvest in decades and not least of all – a metaphysical angst surrounding the much anticipated final days of 2012. Is it me, or is there a growing tension in the air that you can almost taste?
As spiritual tensions rise this seems to be mirrored materially on a macro level around the globe and also a micro level of personal interactions, certainly amongst many of the people I am aware of.  It’s so easy to take the lower road energetically when under stress, threat or provocation on whatever level, however it is when we are most sorely tested that we need to take the higher path and reach inside ourselves to find the wellspring of spiritual strength that enables us to do the right thing and retain our integrity.
As pressures increase it tends to bring out either the best or the worst in people and in this case one can only hope that we can all tap into what is best in our own selves and hopefully inspire the same in others. This is of course easier said than done, but for the sake of all that live on this planet I believe we should try to meet the challenges ahead with hope, compassion, insight and above all, without fear.

Druidry at the Paralympics

September 20th, 2012

One of the most extraordinary features of Druidry is the way it has been a part of the culture in Britain ever since the first Druids raised their sickles to the moon. Granted, much of the time that influence has been homeopathic in degree, but nevertheless it can be traced – most obviously from the Revival period onwards. For some people the Druids are like the Beefeaters in the Tower of London – anachronistic, a little silly even, but a part of our culture that should be preserved and enjoyed. But for more and more people the Druids represent two qualities that we all admire and need more than ever in this world: wisdom and a love of Nature.

These two qualities are not the sole preserve of Druids of course, but Druids today, and Pagans too, represent those who love the world and its turning seasons, and want to preserve, protect and celebrate it. How wonderful, then, that at the Paralympics closing ceremony the organisers took the bold step of featuring an invocation to the seasons inspired by Druidry and Paganism, and contributed by Philip Shallcrass, Chief of the British Druid Order, and Emma Restall Orr, founder of the Druid Network.

In the following clip you can see this part of the ceremony, and glimpse too the sundial feature which seems to have magical sigils on it, reminiscent of Dr Dee’s work (recently the subject of an amazing opera by Damon Albarn).

I’m in the USA at the moment, paddling in Walden Pond, celebrating Alban Elfed with the Mystic River Grove from Boston, but I wanted to post this, to share this fantastic achievement for contemporary Druidry. Bravo to Philip and Emma and all of those working with Druidry as a spirituality that can be of value in our modern world.

The Passing of a Scholar

September 18th, 2012

I was saddened to hear from Douglas Chowns this morning that the respected and influential Celtic Scholar Anne Ross died in Wales on 29th August. Douglas wrote of her,

Many will have read her books “Druids”, “Life & Death of a Druid Prince” etc. but for two, or seen her, auburn haired and vibrant, explaining Celtic ways and beliefs on BBC television series the Celts and other documentaries…Anne’s life’s work did much to rebirth Celtic belief and history internationally and she appeared in many television series and programs as their authority to the Celts or Celtic Myth.

The strands of my personal rope of life, my friends, my advisers and colleagues are today becoming few. Those who shaped my ideas are today like her in passing mere shadows of my existence – thank you all in the present that take forward that what became meaningful for us, that annually blooms at the opening and closure ceremony of our Feis. That alone is in itself my tribute to Dr Anne…

Anne spoke Gaelic and Welsh as well as being a scholar of Anglo Saxon, Old norse and Medieval English. Since her Phd. in Edinburgh she became a research fellow to Southampton University and a writer for the British Museum among many other notable positions, Lecturer and Academic. Her interests and knowledge of Iron Age Archaeology and Myth led to many books, publications and articles. She was a “Fey” woman and a Celt in every way living with the land, the elements, mountains, winds and rain in her age old stone home with Archaeologist Richard Faichem . Some may know him from his “Guide to Prehistoric Scotland” that lists Brochs and Pictish excavations. Years ago when researching my “Enduring of Suffering” series that featured the Lindow Bog Man and the eponymous Pergamon Dying Gaul, I found them both instantly welcoming and interested in our lives and efforts when I lunched with them in the mill room of their home at Bow Street near Aberystwyth. A video of that lunch exists which sparks a thousand flames – who but she fills the cool head with smoke? Certainly mine…

One Thing A Stone is Good At Is Waiting

September 14th, 2012

The title of this post is a quote from the irrepressible Druid, Ivan McBeth. Ivan has a passion for building stone circles, having created twenty-two of them – one being the Swan Circle at the Glastonbury Festival site. He is a great friend (he once lived in our little garden flat for a year!) and a marvellous man. The New York Times has written an article about his circle building. I have included the link:

Made by Druids, Loved by Dragons