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" If the world is a tree,

we are the blossoms "


DruidCraft Tarot App

June 28th, 2013

DruidCraft_MenuThe lovely people at Fool’s Dog recently produced an app of The Druid Animal and Plant Oracles fused together as ‘The Druid Oracles’. It was so beautifully produced and so versatile. Now they have created an app of The DruidCraft Tarot. It only works on iphones and ipads, but if you’ve got one of these take a look in the app store or here. Unfortunately there is no android version and the developers say it is unlikely they will create one. They are aware of the demand but that’s how it is, and unfortunately it’s out of our hands (rights issues etc.)

DruidCraft_Icon114DruidCraft Tarot app features

*Intuitive, elegant interface is easy for beginners and experts
*Gorgeous full screen, high-resolution card images
*Full support for all iOS devices, including the iPhone 5, iPad mini and iPad with retina display
*Unabridged book by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm
*Sophisticated journal
*14 spreads built in
*Design your own layout with Free Form
*Allow reversed cards or not
*Option to use Major Arcana only
*Zoom in to enlarge card details
*Share reading via Facebook (requires iOS 6), email and Twitter
*Animated shuffle & cut
*Optional voice prompts
*Customize with your own card meanings & reading cloths
*Many adjustable settings

The Ancient Yew Group

June 27th, 2013

ormiston yew john darcy

Trees play a deeply important part in Druidry. We honour their key role in the healthy continuation of life upon our planet; we give thanks for the invaluable resources they gift us with, from the purely practical levels of food and wood, to the nourishment we draw from their inspiration emotionally and spiritually.

There is a strong tradition in Druidry that links the sacred, our ability to create and the inspiration of trees. The root of the word ‘inspire’ comes from the meaning ‘to breathe’ or ‘breathe into’. We know trees to be the lungs of our planet; the vital circuit of exchange between the carbon dioxide and oxygen that we share with them is not only important to our physical survival and well-being but also to our psyches. Our relationships with them allows us to feed the cells of our bodies with life-giving oxygen; the inspiration they offer also feeds our emotions, stimulates our minds and sparks our creativity, opening the channels for personal growth. The breath of life that trees bless us with is intimately interwoven with the drawing in of inspiration and the outward expression of each of our voices – as we inhale and exhale our deep connection to trees becomes apparent.

It seems crazy to think, given that we are dependent on trees for so much, that we should fail to protect them. There are many individuals and groups that are trying to combat the wilful destruction of forests or ancient trees under threat. One such group that is working hard on this problem is The Ancient Yew Group. They focus their energies on Yews, a tree that has great significance in Druid and Pagan spirituality. Here are the group’s aims:

Aims of the Ancient Yew Group

  • To raise public awareness of the national and world wide importance of our ancient Yews.
  • To survey, record and monitor the health of our ancient Yews.
  • To highlight potential threats.
  • To research and collate all modern and historical references of our ancient Yew heritage.
  • To provide advice to help people protect their ancient Yews.
  • To campaign for better protection and seek government support.
  • To bring together Yew tree enthusiasts, providing an opportunity to discuss, enthuse and help towards achieving the above aims.

Vision of the Ancient Yew Group

  • That information on Yew trees and their conservation is widely known amongst all relevant organisations and individuals as a result of this web site.
  • That research funding be made available for further studies of the yew tree eg recording methodology, longitudinal growth patterns, detailed photography, video-recording etc..
  • There is a nationwide consultancy service offering advice on the care of yew trees.
  • That Ancient Yew trees receive strong legal protection, both British and European.
  • That a charitable trust exists for the conservation and promotion of ancient yew trees.
  • If a disused church with ancient yews became available this would be a superb opportunity to convert the site to an Ancient Yew Information Centrewhere records could be archived, research students could work and the general public enthused and informed by the use of displays, tea and book shop…

Do please visit their website here .There are lots of interesting articles to explore and details of how you can get involved.

Saving Mt Sutro

June 26th, 2013

have posted here before about Jack Gescheidt and The Tree Spirit Project. Jack is a very talented photographer and the project focuses on human being’s interdependent relationship with nature, particularly trees. His beautiful photos challenge the anthropocentric understanding of humanity’s place being one of primacy and dominance. By using the naked human form within natural settings – specifically trees – the images communicate something about our true vulnerability. The photos seek to illustrate our interdependent relationship with nature and by doing so, we feel ourselves a part of creation, as opposed to being its masters. 

The project also is involved in protecting endangered forests and trees by the use of peaceful protest, creating images in the process that promote awareness. One of these events is taking place on the 6th July and aims to draw attention to the threatened development in Mt Sutro Forest, a 120 year old self-sustaining eucalyptus forest in San Francisco. 25,ooo trees will be destroyed if the plans go ahead.

TreeSpirit are setting up a naked shoot in the forest and welcome people who would like to be involved. The link to the website is here  and the details of the Mt Sutro event can be found here

Here is a short film about Jack’s work…

Trees do Maths

June 23rd, 2013
Photo © Nevit Dilmen

Photo © Nevit Dilmen

LONDON (Reuters) – Plants do complex arithmetic calculations to make sure they have enough food to get them through the night, new research published in journal eLife shows.

Scientists at Britain’s John Innes Centre said plants adjust their rate of starch consumption to prevent starvation during the night when they are unable to feed themselves with energy from the sun.

They can even compensate for an unexpected early night.

“This is the first concrete example in a fundamental biological process of such a sophisticated arithmetic calculation,” mathematical modeler Martin Howard of John Innes Centre (JIC) said.

During the night, mechanisms inside the leaf measure the size of the starch store and estimate the length of time until dawn. Information about time comes from an internal clock, similar to the human body clock.

“The capacity to perform arithmetic calculation is vital for plant growth and productivity,” JIC metabolic biologist Alison Smith said.

“Understanding how plants continue to grow in the dark could help unlock new ways to boost crop yield.”

(Reporting by Nigel Hunt; editing by Keiron Henderson) See article.

Doreen Valiente Plaque Unveiled

June 21st, 2013
Doreen Valiente, 1962

Doreen Valiente, 1962

Just back from the unveiling of the commemorative plaque for Doreen Valiente in Brighton. This is a first for Wicca and Paganism but this was also a historic moment for another reason – it is apparently the first blue plaque to appear on a council block. The Doreen Valiente Foundation got their application in in the nick of time- it has recently been announced that English Heritage will stop its blue plaque scheme because government funding cuts have made it impossible for it to continue. The organisation, due to celebrate 150 years of commemorative plaques in London in 2016, has had its funding cut by 34%.

Congratulations to the Foundation for organising a great event: drumming and a ceremony on Brighton’s Steine near the sea, a procession to the site, performances from The Pentacle Drummers and Hunters Moon Morris, speeches, the unveiling by the Mayor of Brighton and Julie Belham-Payne amidst cheers, and a party later tonight… What a way to celebrate the solstice this year! Check out the Foundation site for details of their work: a Valiente museum in Brighton is being planned! Click on thumbnails to enlarge.

DSC_0026DSC_0016DSC_0014 DSC_0037DSC_0043DSC_0049

A Solstice Song

June 20th, 2013
Sunrise over Heel Stone, Stonehenge. Photo: Andrew Dunn

Sunrise over Heel Stone, Stonehenge 2005. Photo: Andrew Dunn

Our friend Dirk Campbell has composed a lovely ’round’ for us to sing at our summer solstice celebration on Firle Beacon on Saturday morning. Below are the lyrics and a sound clip. Happy Solstice!

Summer Round

 A rpt. Summer dawn and fire warm

Earth and hearth and heart

B rpt. Sun shines warm for life to grow

Sun’s bright blessing on the Earth below

Solo   Father of the world

Great heart, great fire

Father of us all

Great mind inspire

Light rising in the eastern skies

Light dawning as the eagle flies

Singing summer songs of wonder

Body of Evidence: A Brief History of Nakedness

June 19th, 2013
'In Gay We Trust' 'In Love We Trust' - Femen protests in Paris against Anti-Gay Marriage demonstrations

‘In Gay We Trust’ ‘In Love We Trust’ – Femen protests in Paris against Anti-Gay Marriage demonstrations

Anyone who has written a book knows (a) how hard it is to get reviewed and (b) how disappointing many reviews are, when – as the author – you realize that the reviewer has only briefly scanned the work you toiled over for years, because he or she is in a hurry.

How nice then to read a really intelligent well-written review that even builds on your own book, adding information and perspective to the subject you covered…or in the case of A Brief History of Nakedness, uncovered.
Suzanne Harrington in The Irish Examiner has just written such a review:

Body of evidence: do we fear nudity or nakedness?

By Suzanne Harrington

IT is the season to take your clothes off, not just for the beach, but to protest. Nakedly. Want media coverage? Get naked. This month, there is a naked bike ride in Cork, on the 22nd. Naked cyclists ride their bikes through the city to raise awareness of their physical vulnerability in traffic. Naked bike rides in chilly Ireland and England show the determination of cyclists to assert their place among the motorised. Brrrr.

Mass nakedness is endearing and non-confrontational. Naked bike riders are cheered on as brave, determined, perhaps slightly bonkers. They don’t cause fear or offence.

Spencer Tunick’s art installations, in which hundreds, or even thousands, of naked people assemble in public places to be photographed, creating a vast skinscape against a well-known background, are not protest or demonstration, but a celebration of naked humanity as art.

The feminist group, Femen, are visually confrontational, using their bodies as billboards of protest. This blows people’s minds — the naked female body, traditionally something passive to be gawped at, is covered only in thick, black letters demanding social change. Vladimir Putin reacted to Femen protests with the leer of a dirty old man, even as he incarcerated fully clothed, but equally vociferous, feminist protestors, Pussy Riot. To present yourself to riot police wearing only flowers in your hair, and ink on your flesh, takes suffragette-levels of guts, even as it guarantees you tabloid pages.  Read more

See also the Guardian article about Femen here.

Doreen Valiente Commemorative Plaque

June 17th, 2013


The Doreen Valiente Foundation are holding a midsummer event in Brighton, part of which will be the unveiling of a commemorative blue plaque that honours Doreen.

We have been working on this for a number of years with Brighton and Hove City Council and we are pleased to announce that Doreen’s Plaque will be going on the wall at the apartments where she lived for 30 years and the location where she did most of her seminal writing. This will be a number of firsts. The plaque, as far as we can find out, will be the first on a council apartment block. It will certainly be the first plaque that celebrates the life of one of our own. There are plaques commemorating the wrong doings, but this is the first to honour a witch. There will be two other plaques in the future that we have negotiated for. One for Gerald Gardner in 2014 and one for Alex Sanders in 2015. This is a unique event with the full backing of Brighton and Hove City Council. We do hope that you will come along and support this fantastic achievement. We want hundreds of people there to support Doreen. 

For all those interesting in going along to celebrate the life and achievements of this extraordinary and influential woman, there is a link to the Foundations website here


The Long Man & Farley Farm House

June 16th, 2013

We visited Farley Farm House today – it’s only 25 minutes from where we live, but sometimes the nearest treasures are the ones we keep forgetting to visit, so we fly to the other side of the world and avidly see the sites, but ignore our own back garden. Finally we got to visit it – and what a place it is!

Farley Farm was the home of the model and photographer Lee Miller and the artist Roland Penrose from 1949 for over 30 years. Here they entertained friends including Picasso, Max Ernst and many other well-known artists and surrealists. The house is filled with art, the garden is stunning, and a visit there is as special as visiting nearby Virgina Woolf’s house and Charleston.

You can see pictures and information on Farley Farm House here, so rather than repeating that information, I’d just like to mention one theme that speaks to me. When they saw the house and decided to buy it, the weather was poor. When they moved in, the skies cleared one morning and they discovered that they could see the Long Man of Wilmington in the distance from their garden, which must have been a lovely surprise for them.

The hillside giant then became an inspiration to them, since Penrose painted a vast fireplace inspired by the Long Man, and a visitor (was it Man Ray?) drew a Long Man holding a cricket bat and a drink atop each staff. But best of all, Penrose and Miller created a coloured bookplate depicting the Long man on the hillside above their names, with a huge stylised sun hovering above in a blue sky with big stars, reminiscent of the stars in ‘The Star’ arcana of Pamela Coleman-Smith’s Rider-Waite Tarot. It’s wonderful, but they had no reproductions in the Farley Farm shop and I’ve tried to find images of the bookplate online with no success. To see it, you’ll just have to make a trip there. It’s open every Sunday April to October.

Sculpture at Farley Farm House Sussex

A Dismembered God – Sculpture at Farley Farm House Sussex (sorry, sculptor unknown)