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The Biggest Magical Operation Ever Carried out on Earth

September 30th, 2013
The dragon rises! Photo Carlton Campbell

The dragon rises! Photo Carlton Campbell

On Friday, Stephanie and I drove to Glastonbury to participate in the Warrior’s Call Pagan Anti-Fracking ritual that was scheduled for Saturday. I had been a little concerned because 1800 people had said they were coming and I was aware of the irony of having people using fossil fuels to get to Glastonbury to work a ritual designed to protect the Earth from pollution. However, sometimes it is necessary to make a strong statement, and perhaps to do powerful magic, and this Glastonbury initiative felt important. We combined it with a long overdue visit to OBOD’s Touchstone editor Penny Billington and its inimitable illustrator Arthur ZZ Birmingham/Billington.

How many of the 1800 people would actually turn up, especially when the forecast was for rain? Damh the Bard had spotted members in Australia clicking the ‘I’m coming!’ button on Facebook, so we knew some would be coming astrally, and in fact astral travel made up the bulk of participants. About 1500 flew on the wings of thought and intention, and only about 300 were there on the lower field of the Tor, just above Dion Fortune’s (now Geoffrey Ashe’s) house. But this was a good number – enough to give a real sense of solidarity and energy, without so many no-one would hear what was being said – which I had feared if 1800 had come. The police had been worried about numbers too, and had phoned us and appeared before the ritual began. But they were reassured and went away.

Stone carved with the Warrior's Call sigil for the ritual at Avebury. Photo: Trish Conniffe-lynch

Stone carved with the Warrior’s Call sigil for the ritual at Avebury. Photo: Trish Conniffe-lynch

The idea for the ritual arose spontaneously some months ago and there was no one person or organization responsible for it, but the ceremony was carried out mainly by OBOD members with years of ritual experience, mainly from OBOD camps. The day turned out to be dry and mild. As each direction was honoured, elemental dragons danced the circle to cheers. The purpose of the ritual was proclaimed: to magically cast a sphere or web of protection over the Earth to protect it from fracking. Ritualists taking on the roles of Gwynn ap Nudd and Brighid walked the circle and evoked that protection and blessed water from the White and Red springs of Avalon. We tuned into the many rituals and meditations that were occurring simultaneously all over the planet. A heart appeared in the sky above the ceremony. The magical sigil designed for this work lay on the ground in the centre of the circle. Badges with the sigil had already been given to all of us by the stewards who had carefully shepherded us to the site. Drumming, chanting, clapping began as we raised a cone of power to focus the energies and intention of the ritual, while four Druids held staves pointed upwards and together to focus it in the centre of the circle.

The work completed, the spirits of the directions were thanked, the circle uncast, and participants were invited, if they wished, to gather by Gwynn ap Nudd or Brighid to take a vow to protect the Earth from fracking both magically and practically. As the ceremony took place people had been tuning in in meditation above on the Tor, at Chalice Well – and in countries in every direction.

Just as the ritual of Gardner and his coven to repel Hitler’s invasion all those years ago has gone down in history (and was successful!) So I believe this ritual will not only go down in history but it will be successful too – whether because of the magic, or for more mundane reasons, or for a combination of both, who knows? But magic is said to work at a causal level to the physical…

The circle is blessed by fire. Photo: Carlton Campbell

The circle is blessed by fire. Photo: Carlton Campbell

I predict that we will start to see other initiatives to stop the lunacy of fracking occurring within the next six weeks or so. The basic fact that it is uneconomical and that financiers are only interested in it because high-end deals in the early stages can nett people millions (through trading licences and share dealing) will become more widely known and the ‘shale bubble’ will burst (the world’s biggest fracking company posted a $6 billion loss, the CEO got $112.5 million pay-off – usual story!)

The game is to move really fast, so that like musical chairs, you don’t fall on your ass with fracking fluid on your face when the music stops. If you’re lucky you’ll have made a lot of money, unlucky and you can limp home with still the possibility of a million or so in bonuses. Who will lose? Only the people who put the money up for the projects – the banks and the UK taxpayer because Cameron offered tax breaks. A number of banks have now stated they will never invest in fracking – taking the UN warning on its environmental dangers seriously – and the shareholders at those banks who have invested, such as HSBC, will soon start asking embarrassing questions, and the funding will dry up.

Cameron risks making a fool of himself – he’s done that already by announcing that communities who accept fracking will receive a million pounds, only to be corrected by his team who had to tell us that he meant £100,000 – enough for a new pedestrian crossing to help cope with the 24/7 lorries that would thunder through the community. He’s made a fool of himself too by telling us that fracking will bring down gas prices, only to be contradicted by his own energy minister Ed Davey, and the economist Lord Stern.

All politicians take such risks, but he’s gone a step further: he has risked the darkness that lies at the heart of the UK government being exposed: the network of ‘old chums’ who will make a killing before the bubble bursts. Don’t believe me? See here, and look at Lord Browne’s role in government and the fracking industry. It’s all wonderfully symbolic – the explosions underground and the forcing out of stuff from deep down will happen at the political level not at the geological level. The current government will frack itself and discover next year that people won’t vote for them in the 2015 General Election unless they clean up their act and stand up for our countryside rather than trying to despoil it.

Participants at the ritual in Bolton, Lancs. Photo: Sally Bowman

Participants at the ritual in Bolton, Lancs. Photo: Sally Bowman

Meanwhile the ‘Albion Will not be Fracked’ initiative had spread like wildfire – see a world map with locations here – particularly to those communities threatened by fracking in other countries, as reports emerge of risks to livestock, as well as water supplies and air quality. There are too many groups to list here, but to give you a sense of why last weekend saw the biggest magical operation ever carried out on Earth,  see this message from the House Of Danu (a fellowship of OBOD groups in California):

The House of Danu rises.  We have alerted all our groups and solitaries (that we know of), and there will be rituals spanning over a thousand miles on the West Coast of the US from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. (4:00am Pacific Time)  I have also alerted the Fire Tribes, practitioners of Santaria, Garnerians, Dianic Covens, Wicca, Chaos Knights, the Hermetic Orders,the Pagan Alliance, the Hellenic Orders, other Druid traditions, and received confirmation from Bloody Mary, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, that she is assembling the Southern conjurers to act.

Fracking poses great environmental threats in the US as well. From Vermont to Arizona, Wisconsin, and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, fracking has caused enormous damage to the ranches, farms, and small communities, resulting in poisoning of the air, and water: leading to unusually high rates of illness. Hundreds of law suits have been settled requiring a gag of silence on the victims: enabling the gas industry to perpetuate its course if disinformation that fracking is safe. When testing by the Environmental Protection Agency revealed the presence of toxic fracking chemicals in the drinking supply in New England towns, the director of the EPA was replaced, and the EPA then proclaimed that the water was safe to drink. This reveals that even the EPA has been corrupted by the corporate power to disseminate disinformation: undermining our ability to rule wisely. We are experiencing a slow coup in the United States where the powerful few have corrupted our government almost beyond repair.

And now, there are plans for fracking in the Los Angeles Basin over earthquake faults that have been building up pressure for over a century. It is predicted that loosening the fault with high pressure facking fluid deep underground could trigger an earthquake of 7.6 magnitude: far greater than the earthquake that destroyed San Francisco in 1906. The State legislative efforts to place a moratorium on fracking are presently blocked by the Republicans.

We were preparing a Wild Hunt to commence on the Twelfth Night, but moved up the date upon learning of this threat to Albion.


At the full moon in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California, on Saturday, September 21st, the Fire Tribes gathered at an off-the-grid Pagan retreat known as Earth Matters: Alchemists, Druids, Wicca, Dianic Witches, and Gardnerians: high priests all. Amid the towering redwoods in a clearing laid out as an Alchemical alter, the central fire rose. The sacred circle was cast. The Dragons were summoned in the ancient language of the Celts. All Gods and Goddesses of our people were summoned to be present.

The intention was set as our reply to the Lorica of St. Patrick:

We arise today.
Through a mighty strength.
The invocation of Earth, Fire, Air, and Water.
Through the spiral of birth, life, death, and rebirth

We arise today.
In the thoughts of our beloved,
In the wisdom of oracles.
With the skill of making,
and the deeds of living.

We arise today.
Passing through dark surrender.
Her Earth to sustain us,
Fire to transform us,
Air to enlighten us,
Water to give us life.

We arise today.
Through the image of Light
Strength of Bear,
Perseverance of Crane.
Wisdom of Salmon
Sight of Eagle,
Balance of Hare,
Direction of Boar,
Treasure of Dragons.

We now summon these powers
to confront that which takes but not gives,
dies without rising,
trusts in greed, not nature.
places self before all else.
The abyss again
threatens our people.

Summon the Carnyxn
Rise the horns on high,
Bring forth the Dragons Breath

The Charm of making was uttered in our ancient tongue as we descended within to our temples of the 4 levels until we reach that place where the Earth takes our pain, takes our fear, takes our rage, and heals us with the power of its Light.

We ascended to our time and place and uttered the chant:

By the Warrior’s call
We arise today
It be our will to vanquish
The toxic demons all

Over and over we chanted as we danced around the fire. We chanted it in the round. We chanted it in harmony, we overlaid it with:

They think it, feel it, make the change (over and over)

When the intention was drenched in our passion, we released the Dragons to do our will in the four directions. With our ancient power words, released our powers like a lightning bolt. At that moment, the image of the Fire Dragon emerged from the fire.

Hurling toward Glastonbury Tor from the West is a great host of Gods, Goddesses, Orishas, and the Elemental powers, on the wings of the Dragons.

It shall be written that at Noon on September 28th at Glastonbury Tor, after over a thousand years, the people of Avalon arose from the mists to engage in a Wild Hunt that SHALL NOT CEASE until the Toxic Demons are vanquished.


This idea that the magic will not cease is echoed in the report of a ceremony conducted at the same time by Virgil, a magician of the Franz Bardon school: “Although I think the whole idea of a specific day where everyone gets together and works to stop fracking is great, I also think it’s important to remember that success of any great magnitude comes from persistence over a long period of time. I hope those who stepped in to help yesterday don’t just consider it a one time thing. Dripping water hollows rock. I will be repeating this frequently until the fracking problem really does cease.”

On the 28th September a magical working was begun – may its effects continue to protect the Earth, and…. ‘There will be no fracking in Albion’!

The Pagan Adventures of a Christian Priest

September 27th, 2013


Out today! Mark Townsend’s latest book:

In June 2007 Rev. Mark Townsend resigned from his ministry as a priest after his decision to share his story of brokenness and failure with the hierarchy. This book is the irreverent and whimsical, yet honest and gut-wrenching, story of his struggle to hold on to a faith within a world that seemed to be against him. It is a story that brings hope to all those who feel the established Western religious path has lost sight of compassion, grace and the one who could easily have been called Friend of Failures. As the author gradually digs himself out of the consequential gutter the reader will discover that all such failures can be redeemed and may even produce glittering nuggets of gold. More importantly, the reader will begin to see that his or her own failure can also lead to real moments of magic – so long as it is not repressed but accepted. A major underlying theme of the whole diary is the notion that real magic does exist, and that the magical traditions such as Druidry can be a major blessing for those who crave for something more.

The book is endorsed by the legendary Angie Bowie who says: “Mark is a fresh breeze across the desert of conformity and usual religious voices. His provocative curiosity compares the banal, the inconsequential, the valuable, the profound and the essential that compose the planet’s banquet of religious mythology.”

Click on the image to go to the book at Amazon UK. Click here to go to an interview with Mark on Druidcast.

September 26th, 2013

Want to motivate yourself or your ‘team’? have a full range of posters and mugs that will lighten your day, such as this fine one:


Druids Open International Pop Festival

September 25th, 2013
Wight Druids on stage in the Big Top.

Wight Druids on stage in the Big Top.


Here is a lovely account by Malcolm and Maurice of Wight Druids – a Grove based on the Isle of Wight – performing the opening ceremony at this year’s Bestival where they raised a 3,000 strong Awen chant with festival goers!

It’s not often the ancient world can truly be said to meet the modern, full-on, face to face. But that could certainly be claimed for a recent event on the Isle of Wight, UK by the Wight Druid Grove. Every year for the last ten years, the Isle has hosted a huge international pop festival called “Bestival”. On it’s tenth birthday this year with performers including Elton John, Snoop Dogg, Fatboy Slim and a host of other international stars, Wight Druids were invited to perform a Druid Opening Ceremony and Blessing for the event.

Wight Druids have performed the opening ceremony on a number of occasions previously, forming a circle on the ground with an audience of a few dozen at the event’s Healing Area. But this year, the Ceremony was elevated to the event’s second largest stage in the 3,000+-capacity Big Top.

(Big Top Photo link)

Four members of the Grove were to lead the ceremony with other Grove members in support in the audience. To develop the minute-by-minute directions we were asked to produce for the stage manager’s crew, we met for a dress rehearsal the week before. With a script carefully crafted by Maurice (Druid) and Malcolm (OBOD Ovate) that was appropriate to both the occasion and our Druid beliefs, Maurice had also put together a video of our favourite Island sacred site “The Longstone” to project on to the screens either side of the stage while Malcolm had adapted some of his music for the event. And our ‘artistic director’, Eva, had put a lot of thought and work into creating the Quarter Flags our crew raised in the audience, as well as the Autumnal Altar in  front of the stage. On the day, Mary-Ann might have had the toughest job, trying to create our circle with her horn-tipped staff without tripping over the vast number of cables, lights and sound equipment that littered the huge stage! The amount of planning and effort that went into our ’20 minutes of fame’ on stage at Bestival September 2013 was actually quite phenomenal.

On the day, the crowd of Bestival-goers were kept outside the Big Top as our ‘artistic director’, Eva, set up her Autumnal Altar in front of the stage. When finally unleashed, a huge tide of merry music fans swept into the arena. As Malcolm’s special intro music kicked in, the crowd were warming up as much as we were and the Big Top resounded to the chant “We want the Druids, We want the Druids”! Then, with TV/video cameras either side of the stage trained on us, Malcolm entered, stage right, to open up our rite and ceremony. Happily for us, the audience loved it, even joining in as we made our Quarter calls and affirmations.

Opening Ceremony:

(Grove Druid Maurice on stage photo link)

(Grove Ovate Malcolm on stage photo link)

The highlight, however, was certainly our traditional Awen chant. Led by Malcolm, a sea of voices sounded out an electrifying three waves of overwhelming chants of ‘Awen’, easily raising enough energy to power the whole Island for the weekend. Whenever we mentioned the word ‘Awen’ after that, the crowd roared, apparently hoping we’d do the chant again. As we finally prepared to process off-stage to a Celtic Jig composed and produced by Malcolm, the audience were dancing about on the floor of the Big Top like demented folk.

Backstage after Ceremony – Mary- Ann, Maurice and Eva – (insert Photo 2)

Reflecting afterwards backstage over a cold beer, courtesy of the stage manager, it somehow all seemed to have been well worth the huge effort we put into it. Potentially there are now up to 3,000 more people – and young folk, at that! – who now know what Druids do, though they probably previously would have had no idea. And if and when the Bestival footage turns up on YouTube and/or on Channel 4, as it usually does in due course, that audience will be hugely magnified.

We might be a relatively small Grove on a little pebble of an Island off the south coast of England, but we’re currently feeling quite happy (maybe even smug!) that we might have created gentle ripples that could potentially radiate around the world. And, in our own humble way, perhaps also created a simple fresh link between our revered ancestors and the next generation to walk these lands. Full-on, face to face. As newly fledged ‘celebrities’, we reserve the right to dream … 🙂

Back stage after the ceremony.

Back stage after the ceremony.

Earth Protection Meditation/Ritual for 28 Sept Noon

September 22nd, 2013

At the heart of Druidry, and every religious, magical and spiritual understanding of the world, lies the belief that the realm of Soul, Mind and Imagination is causal to the physical world. Working at this subtle, ‘invisible’ level creates changes in the visible world.
If you hold to this view, and if you would like to protect the Earth from the invasive and toxic process of fracking, you might like to join in spirit with thousands of people around the world who will be holding rituals and meditations at 12 noon GMT on Saturday 28th September 2013. On the slopes of Glastonbury Tor at this time, at least a thousand people will gather to hold such a ritual. For info see
Participate in whatever way you wish. No one person or group has organized this initiative – it is an example of a spontaneous collective response to a threat to Mother Earth.


Perform whatever ritual or activity you know that helps you connect to the level of Soul/Mind, whether that is just lighting a candle or creating sacred space through casting a circle, honouring the directions, saying a prayer – whatever it is.

Sense the Earth beneath you and then gradually extend your awareness to include the area you want to focus on – that may be your county, the British Isles, another country, or the whole Earth.
Without straining, just sense this land stretching out around you, and then think or say:

May the Spirits of the land, of the four directions, protect the Earth, our home. May there be no fracking (wherever you wish to protect ie in Albion, in Colorado, on the Earth)!

Around the world people have gathered to feel the Earth beneath them, strong and firm. Sense the presence of all those rituals and meditations around the world that are being held at this time to protect Albion and protect the entire Earth. Sense this network of light around the earth growing in strength and radiating out like sun beams across the land, connecting all those who stand at this same time with this same intention. Think or say:

There will be no fracking in ……. !

Together we gather with our ancestors to ensure: there will be no fracking in….!

We gather with the stones of destiny, with the spirits of all who are true and free, to state in every direction: there will be no fracking in ….!

Having said these statements with the firm conviction that this will come true, move from being emissive and active in your mind to relaxing and just feeling the Earth beneath you, and know in your heart and mind, with absolute certainty: This land will not be desecrated. Send out the thought with quiet and firm conviction: This land will not be subject to violation. This land will not be fracked. It will not be attacked in this way. It will be defended. They will not come. They will not come.

If it feels right, say: I swear to serve, guard and protect the earth. By the God and Goddess, by the gods and all their powers, by the sun and moon, this land shall be held safe. These islands (or the area chosen) shall be protected.

Raise your hands outwards in protection, chant three ‘Awens’ or drum if wished.

Sense again the presence of all those rituals and meditations around the world that are being held at this time to protect Albion and protect the entire Earth.
Feel this network as a shield of energy over the Earth. If you wish to use a sigil as a symbol for this, someone has created one for this time:


Stay with this sense of a shield as long as feels right and then gently let go of all thoughts and vizualisations. Touch the earth with the palms of your hands, to send your love to the Earth and to ground yourself. Say ‘So may it be’ or ‘May only good prevail’ followed by ‘This meditation/ritual is finished in the apparent world, may its effect continue to protect the Earth for all time.”

NB If you are undertaking this for a part of the Earth where there has already been fracking, such as Pennsylvania or Colorado, you may want to imagine as you say each time ‘There will be no fracking’ the rigs being dismantled, the industry leaving.

Collapse of UK Fracking Industry Predicted

September 22nd, 2013

I know I have put up rather a lot of posts on the fracking threat in the UK recently, and I don’t want this subject to dominate the blog. I’m also aware of the many threats we are living through at the moment, including the awful events in Syria, and in the Arctic a few days ago, but I have focused on fracking for three reasons: (1) The more you look at the story the more you realize what an assault it represents on the Earth and on the landscape that we love. (2) Psychology and the weirdness of human behaviour interests me, and the more you look at the story of fracking, the more bizarre it becomes: it doesn’t make sense at any level from the environmental through to the economic: it is a story of corruption, misinformation and callous greed on a monumental scale.  (3) I know there have been decisions taken by the UK government where no amount of protest made an iota of difference – just think of the Iraq war protests – but there have been spectacular successes: think of the Poll Tax, GM control, the attempt to sell off the public woodlands; and I believe that common sense really can prevail on this one. If I was a betting man I would put money on the collapse of the fracking project in the UK during the next two years. It may not die immediately – it may be a protracted death, but I predict its collapse during 2014/5.

Naively optimistic? Take a look at this 4 min film of what has just happened in Colorado. Do you really think we will accept this in Britain?  Take 4 mins to watch this. But of course we don’t have to worry do we, because we never have flooding here!

If you are not concerned after watching this you must be mad! Oh, but wait a minute – many politicians in the UK are not concerned – apparently. But remember ‘No snowflake ever thinks it started the avalanche’ – you may think your voice or actions won’t count, but collectively they do. Next year is the run-up to the next UK General Election. If we all tell our MPs next year that we won’t vote for them if they don’t stand up against fracking that should make a difference. I have inside information on how MPs work – they look at their in-trays. The stacks of letters/emails/surgery appointments that are the highest get the most attention. I’m going to see my MP and I’ll just say ‘Have you got four minutes?’ And then play him this movie on my iphone and say ‘You want this?’

Here in Lewes a group of concerned citizens have organised a public debate on the topic on 6th October, a screening of Gasland II with a discussion with the director afterwards on 22 October, and a group of us have produced a quick-to-read fact sheet that addresses the Myths that people believe about fracking – just two lines per myth to bust them. We’ve also produced a page of supportive explanation for those who want to know more, or who don’t believe what we’ve said and want to check sources. SEE IT HERE. Please feel free to distribute this, make leaflets out of it, whatever you like.

On 28 September there will be a worldwide ritual to protect Albion, and Mother Earth, from fracking. If you’re a materialist you might say ‘Flakey hippies thinking that meditation and magic can make a difference!’ If you’re an idealist (see yesterday’s post on The Sacred History) you’ll say: ‘Aha! They are working on a level that is causal to the physical – how sensible!’

By the way, neither I nor OBOD is organising this worldwide ritual. We have had phone calls and an email from the police asking us if we are.

I’ve started a blog to encourage the collapse of the UK fracking industry – and to give space for me to rant without worrying about whether I’m boring you with too much on this subject! Happy Equinox!

The Sacred History by Jonathan Black

September 21st, 2013

47043_Sacred_History_TPB.inddFor those of us interested in spiritual studies – and I guess that covers most of the readers of this blog – we would all probably agree that we need constant reminding of the great spiritual truths: otherwise one experience, one good book on the subject would be sufficient for a lifetime. For whatever reason, whether it is because life is so tough, so distracting, that we simply keep forgetting, or whether it is because the voices of skepticism are so strident these days, we still need to remind ourselves of the spiritual. After almost fifty years of studying spirituality, I find I still need to read about spiritual ideas, I need to be inspired by mystical poets like Rumi or Rilke, I need to attend events which uplift my soul. It’s as if my soul needs feeding as much as my body – which is why just one meal is not enough, and why I turned to the new book by Jonathan Black, The Sacred History.

In The Sacred History, Black puts the central question of how we view life in stark terms: it all boils down to whether you are a materialist or an idealist. The materialist viewpoint is the predominant paradigm amongst western intellectuals: there is no inherent meaning to life, life evolved bottom-up through the mechanism of evolution. You can wonder at Nature’s beauties, but when you die that’s the end, and the only point to life is one that you might want to impose upon randomness. Black, who studied Philosophy and Theology at Oxford, reminds us that there is another way of looking at the world. The idealist believes there is an inherent meaning to life, that the physical cosmos evolved from the spiritual, from the Divine – not that man created God in his own image, as a materialist would say, but that God created man in his own image – to use that sexist but familiar expression of the idea. A materialist view states that mind is a consequence of the brain’s electrical activity. No brain = no mind. The idealist view, which is the view taken by all religions, all spiritual approaches, the Perennial Wisdom and Mystery traditions, and much philosophy and Transpersonal Psychology, is that the brain is not the cause of mind but a result: Mind caused the brain, and everything else, to come into material manifestation. No brain = no matter, still Mind!

This is the starting point of the extraordinary The Sacred History. I say extraordinary, because it is quite unlike any book I have ever read about spirituality. The author begins by laying out his stall in the first few pages, explaining in simple terms these two approaches, and then saying ‘What if the idealist view is the one we should adopt?’ Watch him talk about this for 4 minutes, and in this clip you will see how he makes this philosophical point relevant to our own personal lives. He talks about how in idealism we each have a personal destiny, and how we are tested in life:

And then the book begins its ambitious task of recounting a history, not only of the world but of the Cosmos, from its beginnings to the present day. And Black does this by re-telling folk tales, legends, and religious stories from around the world, giving just enough to convey each story in an evocative way, without overwhelming us with so much detail we think we have stumbled into an encyclopedia of world mythology by mistake. After each story he connects it with a phase in the evolution of the physical world. As he writes: ‘You can see that on one level myths are collective memories of great turning points in human evolution and that they may be put in a proper chronological order.’

Now you may not agree with this – plenty of students of myth might find reasons to dispute this suggestion, but what an idea if it were true! The Sacred History may be easy to read in terms of style and accessibility, but I did not find it an easy book which was ‘preaching to the converted’ and to which I was simply responding ‘Yes, yes, I know that.’ Instead I found it challenged my beliefs from the very beginning. Do I really believe mythology relates to physical events? Do I really believe that if I ‘look with imagination’ I can see waves of angels coming out of the ‘mind of God’ as Black writes? ‘Look at this mystic version of events more closely, look with imagination, and you can see that these waves of thoughts are actually made up of millions of angels. The first wave is made up of gigantic angels who fill the whole cosmos. Next comes a wave of lesser angels which the greatest angels have helped to create, and together these generate a third wave of smaller angels. This sequence flows down until we finally reach minute spiritual beings. They work to weave together what we recognize as the material world around us, the rocks and stones and trees.” And then I think again, and I believe I can see what Black is doing. The great conundrum for those of us who write on spiritual subjects is that we are often using our analytical minds to describe the transcendent, the mystical, which by nature defies too much analysis. As so we need to move from logos to mythos and back again – honouring the mind’s need for clarity and understanding, but also honouring the Mystery, and the soul’s need for imagination and beauty. Hence Black’s appeal to read his book, and consider his ideas, with the eyes of the imagination, and when I do this, yes, I do see waves of angels descending to Earth.

Books can I believe offer gifts. And The Sacred History has given me at least three: it has challenged my ideas (there are some strange and difficult ideas in there I can assure you), it has given me summaries of all those mythic tales I have been meaning to study, but have never found time for – Greek myths, stories from the Bible, the Hindu epics, the Arabian Nights and more – weaving them together to tell the history of the world in an utterly original way; and thirdly it has renewed my faith in the fundamentally spiritual nature of reality.

The book is available as a hardback, paperback, e-book and audiobook. Amazon UK link, Amazon USA link. Watch 3 minutes of Jonathan Black talking here about the ‘outrageous question’ that lies at the heart of his book:

Does God Exist? and The Crowning Achievement of Druidry

September 19th, 2013

Pen-on-TorA guest post by Penny Billington, author of The Path of Druidry

‘Does God exist?’ 100 Druids would doubtless give 100 answers, so it is helpful to start by addressing two questions. Firstly,  ‘What sort of people become Druids?’

As our earliest bards ritually replied; ‘Not hard to answer.’ We are those who wish to explore their spirituality through nature. And secondly, ‘Is Druidry a religion?’ Well, in the sense of belonging to a recognized organization with dogma and a belief system to which members must subscribe…. no. But many Druids do indeed embrace Druidry as their religion, so a Druid’s definition of and relationship to any God(s) comes from a very special place: Let’s examine it now.

Exploring spiritual connections through the landscape takes every Druid on a personal journey, through which they reach their own conclusions about deity. The start of that journey is acknowledging the spiritual realm: accepting forces that cannot be explained by the world of the five senses. Referencing this to the real world of nature, with its myriad ways of expressing that mysterious quality called ‘life’ leads us to an understanding of the commonality within the diversity. We intuit that there is a pattern which our brains are not big enough to perceive but which we recognize in some subtle way; and we observe that each living thing develops in accordance with natural laws dictating its size, shape, reproductive system and so on.

But nature lovers do this without calling themselves Druids of course. For the word ‘Druid’ to have any meaning, we take on in part the mantle of those ancient indigenous priests who flourished in Iron Age Britain; we research to understand the mindset of our ancient forebears. We are romantics, drawn at first by the glamour of ancient tales, seduced by the ideal of man in harmony and with a deep understanding of his native land; and we translate that not in any crude nationalistic way, for in the modern world we are all potentially wanderers around the global village. There are Druids worldwide making connection to lands far from the place of their birth, and the spirit of the land will acknowledge and welcome all who have the instinct to do that.

When we look at our ancestor Druids, we find that they were respected as judges and priests, diviners, skilled in herbs and star lore; all the natural sciences. The wonderful sinuous art and rich decorations from the Iron Age culture implies a love for the diversity of life; and the message is clear. We are here to understand and use the good things of the earth, respectfully, and to celebrate our human state, not to try to transcend it.

We have clues to ancient spiritual thinking, via archaeology and monumental remains in the landscape, the writings of the Classical commentators and the whispers from ancient history still singing through our earliest manuscripts – poetry, history and myths. What did votive offerings in water say about ancient beliefs? What are the lessons of the oldest mythic animals? How and why did ancient builders reference the directions and the patterns of the sky? With study, conjecture and practice we pursue an experiential path.

Most Druids will say that consciously observing the natural world with a spiritual intent – walking in the woods, watching the sunset – develops within us a profound trust in the essential harmony of the whole of which we are part. We sense that, beyond our rational understanding, lies the key to the pattern; that there is a creative force and that our world is coherent, not chaotic. And that creative essence, with its overwhelming urge to express itself in millions of diverse ways, is the nearest we can come to putting a label on the inexpressible – deity. The Druids of old were meant to be weather workers, conjuring mists to confound their enemies, and trying to explore the great mysteries of life – ‘Does God exist?’ through rational argument is like wandering in those mists without a compass. Attempting to pin down the ‘truth’ of that which exists in the realms of deep mystery is doomed to failure; we are simply not adequately wired.

All we can say is that from our experiences we develop an understanding of the patterns of the world and universe. If it appears to us as if all springs from a coherent creative impulse, then this implies the existence of deity – and, in a cosmic reflection of nature, that deity may manifest in more than one way. And when we act as if the Gods exist, events in our world seem to respond as if that is true. Only a fantasist persists in a world view which is not backed up by what he or she sees in ‘real life’, and only a fantasist confuses events in the world of the five senses with those of the imaginal realms; but, within the boundaries of accepted physical reality, most Druids have stories of wondrous occurrences, small and large, which seem to support our world view.

Can a wondrous occurrence be small? Yes, and this is the bedrock of Druidry; placing our attention on small, everyday happenings that show life as a magical path. We make relationship with our world, and see every aspect of nature as enspirited: every tree, every hill, every stream. And if everything has a spirit then we can make a connection. If we can have a dialogue, then we can interact. But although we have a magical approach to life, it is never one in which we are manipulative or ‘commanding’ a world that is forced to respond to us. Rather, it is we who are becoming sensitized and in tune with the tides of life, and living more harmoniously; and that is when synchronicities occur. To open your window just as a robin sings does not mean it is singing for you; yet the timing is magical, it has a personal significance, and you are blessed by the connection. And then, as a responsible person, you go on your way in the mundane world, to the job, the childcare, the washing up. No escape from real life, just an enriching of it. All we have to do is place our attention out into the natural world – present even in the middle of the city – and start to notice.

So our watchword is ‘connection’, not ‘worship’. For that creative spirit is present in us all, as our own spark of God/Godess/Gods – and we don’t want anyone to worship us. We do want them to respect us, to engage with us if our paths cross, to communicate. It’s simply a matter of politeness between life forms sentient in very different ways. The understanding our immediate ancestors had of the truth of this  is the root of superstition that, for example, some trees are kindly to man and some inimical; that those with hives should regularly ‘tell the bees’ the family news, or they will swarm.

There is a Druid prayer that is widely used across the world, by many different  groups. At its end, we reference Deity, and that is the point at which the combined voices of many Druids dissipate into a bee-like buzzing drone, as we quietly choose the word that speaks to us…

‘The love of ( God/Goddess/Spirit/another word ) and all Goodness.

That ‘drone’ is the crowning achievement of Druidry. Although connected by an ideology reverencing the land and celebrating our place in it, we retain the absolute right to autonomy in our way of envisaging and relating to Deity. I think of it as a gift to a world troubled by religious intolerance; it is a sign of a mature spirituality for the coming times. And, as environmental problems continue to escalate, it feels increasingly relevant: a spirituality rooted in respect for the natural world, which reveres a deity without an agenda, but is tuned into and responsive always to the basic harmony of nature.

If there is a God who actually has a personal interest in each of us, then I believe he/she/it will worry less about our muddled conclusions on these matters than on the intention with which we live our lives.

Around us is the enspirited world, just waiting for our contact. Viewing its most cinematically glorious moments – the moon over the sea and the stars burning down – has, simultaneously, two effects on us. The first makes clear our place in the greater scheme of things; we are tiny. But, rather wonderfully, this leads to the second effect: the realization of our own insignificance does not diminish us; rather, our appreciation invites and allows us to expand our sense of ourselves into the wonder we’re beholding. The creative principle, or deity, the pattern and plan, inspires us also to creativity, to be the best we can, to co-create our own world in harmony with what we see. To be ethical, responsible, sustainable, better. And we’ve come to this realization ourselves, not through gurus, instruction or dogma, but all through experience. That impulse might be ‘the spark of God within’ working through us. And a spiritual practice that encourages our expansion into the best that we can be, more than justifies the Druid path.

Penny Billington

Snake Oil: How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future

September 17th, 2013
snake-oil-front-cover-268Snake Oil: How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future
A guest book review by Dirk Campbell

In this timely, well-written and (mercifully) short book, Heinberg assembles the facts about shale oil and gas exploitation, debunks the myths and presents us with a new modified peak oil scenario that includes the ‘low hanging fruit’ component to our resource predicament as first outlined by Chris Martenson in the Crash Course. The analysis shows that humans always exploit the easiest resources first, whether it’s slow-moving land mammals, metals or fossil fuels, and that when these are used up we move on to the next easiest. So far so much common sense. What’s different about the present period in human history is that because the oil boom of the last 150 years has enabled us to increase our population 7-fold and use up resources at a dizzying rate, there are no new resources to discover. Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) is being quite blatantly touted by industry and governments as the next new source of easy oil, which it is not. The EROEI (energy return on energy invested) from fracking is on average a zero sum equation, in other words the energy produced from fracking is the same as the energy that has to be put in to get it. This makes no sense economically, and is the main reason why UK banks and private investors are steering clear of the fracking industry. In the USA it has been a different story because shale rock formations are much more abundant and accessible than in the UK and there has been, at least temporarily, a profitable investment to be made. But Heinberg points out that this is a Wall Street-driven bubble exactly like the sub-prime mortgage disaster of 2008 and that everyone involved is likely to lose their shirt – apart from the investment banks of course, who benefit both on the way up and on the way down.
The book is divided up into sections introduced by choice quotes such as this from Robert Smith, operations geologist: ‘Eventually, horizontal drilling is suspended because operators reach a point where they are just burning cash.’ Each section deals with a particular aspect of the fracking business – economics, environmental impact, energy reality (Chris Martenson’s three E’s) – and catalogues the false promises and false data that are issued by the industry and by government, whose hope is that the promises and data are true, because we need to keep the show on the road at least until the next election. Some of the fracking myths are plausible, for example the claim that natural gas produces 50% less CO2 than coal. True – when you burn it. But if you add up all the greenhouse gas consumption involved in shale gas extraction, plus the methane that leaks from well heads and faulty casings, you get a higher global warming impact than coal.Some commentators claim that fracking has only affected aquifers with toxic chemical seepage in a small minority of cases, and that as the technology improves, these problems will no longer happen. Heinberg makes the trenchant point that all well casings will leak eventually because of cement shrinkage and seismic activity, whether it be in one year or five, or twenty. Each well is a slow-release poison capsule and it’s only a matter of time as to when the benzene, radium, hydrochloric acid, hydroxyethyl cellulose, isopropanol, aluminium phosphate, sodium carbonate and a list of other unpleasant chemicals as long as your arm will end up in the drinking water. For a certainty the fracking companies responsible will be long gone by that time. Most of them probably out of business when the shale bubble bursts in a few years.

Heinberg ends the book with a plea for investment in renewables as the only sensible or indeed feasible energy future. Some might say – the only chance for a future at all, if we are not to completely trash our planet in return for a quick buck. Certainly the amount of hydrocarbon in the earth is enough to fry the planet many times over, if we were to extract all of it. One small benefit of the book to me is that the word ‘shill’, as in ‘industry shill’, is now a useful addition to my vocabulary. ‘A shill, also known as a plant or a stooge … typically refers to someone who purposely gives onlookers the impression that they are an enthusiastic independent customer of a seller (or marketer of ideas) for whom they are secretly working.’ Thanks again Wikipedia.

And thank you Dirk! If you are wondering whether there are any shills in Britain have a look here.

Prince of Wales My Grove Project

September 17th, 2013

MyGrove_HiResThe Prince of Wales has started the MyGrove project for schools in Britain. He writes:

“As a keen gardener and farmer myself, it is wonderful to see the seasons producing different flowers and fruits – from the golden daffodils of early Spring to the ripe red apples of Autumn.

Through your school, we’d like you to join our Mygrove challenge – keeping an up-to-date- online blog about your own growing experiences. Whether you are creating a herb garden, tending a vegetable patch, building a bird box or simply growing flowers in a window box, we would like to hear from you.” What a lovely idea. Details here 

Information about the Sacred Grove project of the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids can be found here. Next year will be the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Order and we are encouraging the creation of 50th anniversary groves. We’ve heard news from New Zealand, Australia and Wales that groves will be planted, and we’re looking forward to hearing about other groves being planned.