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" A good traveller has no fixed plans,

and is not intent on arriving "

Lao Tzu

Integrative Tarot Training with the DruidCraft Tarot

February 26th, 2014

SOITTLOGO copyThe DruidCraft Tarot was first published ten years ago, and now it is in various formats – a deck with the book, a deck with a smaller version of the book, and in apps for Apples and Androids. Over the years, we’ve developed a particular approach to using it, which we’ve called Integrative Tarot – combining insights from DruidCraft, Psychology and traditional Tarot lore. Over the last few years, we have started a small Peripatetic school and begun teaching the method in Britain, France,  Italy, Germany, and Barbados. Here’s The School of Integrative Tarot’s logo:

Stephanie and I have just finished giving two webinars using the Integrative approach. It was the first time we had used this technology and I was a little sceptical. Can it really be interactive? In reality, is it more clumsy than effective? Well I’m delighted to say it’s a GREAT medium! Why? Because you can present material on the screen, talk and be seen on the little video panel, and answer participants’ questions as each one types them in. This is perfect for teaching the Tarot because it is such a visual medium, and each participant gets a set of the slides by email afterwards as well as unlimited access to recordings of the webinar. This means weeks or months later they can refresh their memories and do some re-learning. You’ve missed the live event, but you can watch the recordings and receive the slides if you like – either via instant downloads or via DVD mailed to you.

Here’s what some participants said:

Fab class! I found it really insightful, and the techniques genuinely useful and very meaningful….Christine

I loved the webinar today and was able to work deeply and profoundly
with a recent situation…Maggie

What a wonderful session!  Thank you so much for arranging it.  I really hope there are
more opportunities like this in the pipeline!…Caitlin

Just listened to the presentation. It was awesome! Thanks for putting this together…Nancy

Have a look here for more details: globalspiritualstudies.com

Grail Alchemy

February 25th, 2014

I recently had the pleasure of reading andgrail-alchemy endorsing Mara Freeman’s wonderful new book Grail Alchemy – Initiation in the Celtic Mystery Tradition:

Mara’s book encourages the reader to take up the quest in search of this most enigmatic symbol of spiritual healing and integration. Her richly detailed text documenting the Grail’s mythic and cultural history is harmoniously balanced with a series of beautiful and powerful meditations and rituals that enable the seeker to open to the Grail’s deeper Mysteries. Mara marries these elements with depth and wisdom, offering an experience of the Grail as a living, transformative presence at the heart of Self and Creation. A wonderfully inspiring book.

Mara’s book is out now and is well worth a read. For more information see here.

Don Quixote and Gollum

February 20th, 2014

photoDSCF1627Visiting New Zealand and Australia for the recent OBOD gatherings meant catching up with old friends – like the fisherman I met again in Wellington and Don Quixote up in the Bina Burra National Park near Brisbane in Australia. Don Quixote was none other than OBOD member and gifted story-teller Michael Vlasto.

Up in the rainforest, Michael entertained us with his stories, we played music and sang together, we held ceremonies amongst ancient antarctic beeches, and saw Paddymelons (mini kangaroos only a foot tall) and two funnel-web spiders: 15 year-old Morticia, and her daughter Wednesday. And we enacted a beautiful ritual to connect with members around the world who are planting anniversary groves of trees to mark the 50th year of the Order. More on that ‘Golden Grove’ project later! Meanwhile do have a look at Michael talking about the value of the Bardic arts of storytelling and drama:

 

Michael: A Passion for Drama from Baby Girl Films on Vimeo.

Robin Hood Tax Petition

February 19th, 2014
St.George's Day 2010. Photo Garry Knight

St.George’s Day 2010. Photo Garry Knight

With decisions on a European Financial Transaction Tax just weeks away, it’s never been more important to be one in a million. Please sign the Robin Hood Tax petition and spread the word that a small tax on the banks could make the world of difference to the poor and the planet…Sign here

The Druid Remembrance Ritual

February 18th, 2014

This year sees the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the First World World. Druid Geoff Boswell felt there was a need to honour the lives of those that were killed in that dreadful war and is organising a Druid Remembrance Ritual at the National Memorial Arboretum (Staffordshire) Saturday 5th July 2014 at noon. He is putting the call out for Druids to be involved in this event and has set up a website for those who wish to know more and take part. Here Geoff writes a little about the project and its aims:

I am organising a Druid Remembrance Ritual at the National Memorial Arboretum (Staffordshire) in July and am looking for attendees, and I hoped you and any of your contacts would consider joining us on the day? You will be more than welcome, druid or not. I would certainly love it if someone could bring red and white spring waters from Glastonbury on the day! Same applies to any natural elements from any other part of the country.
 
There is a fledgling website (not yet completed) here 
 
I will be arranging the ritual so that all the presiding priests really do is introduce and link things. I am inviting individuals, groves, groups, organisations not only to attend but also to offer to do selected parts of the gorsedd. There will be a page about it on the website, but for instance a grove, or group, or organisation could offer 4 to 5 people to:
  • Make the call for peace in their own words and manner or
  • Open the quarters in their own words and manner or
  • Close the quarters in their own words and manner
There will be slots for individual contributions such as readings, music, leading the awen; vow of peace; address on ancestors; address on peace etc but there is interest already. Definitely looking for a bugler or similar ‘horn’ instrumentalist to play the Last Post! The RBL banner will be there and will be dipped appropriately. 

Why the Druid Remembrance Ritual?

I am not certain what I think of war.

Oh, I have views on it, but they fluctuate. I am at heart a pacifist. As a boy with (as I only knew later in life) Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome the chances of me winning a school fight were remote. I bruise easily and cut nearly as easily. I never picked fights anyway but that doesn’t stop you getting on the other side of them.  So, instinctively, I became a pacifist.

Politically I find I don’t agree with war mongering, from Thatcher and the Falkland’s through to Blair and Iraq , Afghanistan , and now our eyes are again on the Middle East. But it’s easy to be once removed, either by decision making or being in a different country.  Economically I’d close down most military spending as there are better things to spend the nation’s money on.

But what if we were to be invaded? Don’t I want protection, from a local police officer through a secret service, up to trained military personnel, all who would protect my body, my family, my communities, my rights, my humanity and my Britishness?
 
What happens if, regardless of what I and others think, we end up in an armed conflict? Not the stereotypical ‘both sides press a red button then we wait two minutes for the bang’ type.  The type with guns, tanks, bayonets, artillery, blood, guts, death at your bare hands? Do I want protecting from them? In the heat of battle and with the fear of injury and the stink of death I would probably cry out for it, but I don’t know.
 
I am of a generation who can remember elders saying things along the lines of “I fought in a war for the likes of you” when we did something hippyish, avant-garde, non-conformist, radical or just plain unconventional. This type of comment could have been aimed at long haired wierdos (me) or even shaven headed skins (not me). This simplistic response from people who came back from Word War 2 hides layers of complexity however.
 
They did, indeed, fight for the likes of me. That is for future generations, and for those generations to express themselves as they see fit. Freedom of speech and activity is sustained because of their efforts. We live the lives we lead now, with the advances we take advantage of and the luxuries we enjoy because we fought to keep the British land free of (in that instance) Hitler and the Nazi’s. Would we express Druidry at all today? Would Hitler have invaded even if we hadn’t jumped into the conflict at all?
 
Put me back then and I wouldn’t have volunteered. I would have fought shy of conscription. I might have become a contentious observer. I don’t honestly know. How can I? Does that diminish the cost of the lives of the men and women who did die in WWII? I would not want it to.
 
There is a saying which I will paraphrase that says “the cost of even one life is an affront to God”. I believe that, but I also understand that lives are lost regardless. It is this idea that is central to my thoughts now. I do not BLAME anyone. I do not celebrate war. However, I do commemorate the fallen.
 
Next year (2014), as is patently obvious by simple mathematics, it will be 100 years from the start of the Great War. This was the war to end all wars. But it didn’t  It got relabelled WWI because it didn’t. And we had WW2, Suez , Egypt / Palestine , Falklands, Desert Storm, Vietnam , El Salvador/Honduras, Iraq, Afghanistan – the list goes on.
 
1914 – This was a watershed. It was liminal point in both history and technology, where we commenced (whether you agree with the reasons behind Britain ’s involvement in the Great War or not) to fight the first modern battle with ancient ideas and inappropriate technology. This was a main reason for the dramatic and exorbitant loss of life.
 
It was a war that heralded a greater revulsion or opposition to such conflict, which had not been seen in the UK before through our ‘proud’ military past and our Empire forging. But it did not stop the endless killing for 4 years.
 
To me, and my limited thinking, those who lost their lives in that conflict are those who first ‘fought in a war for the likes of me’ whether they knew it or not. I honour their commitment and sacrifice. Druidry has taught me that that there is always a journey and a sacrifice. Isn’t that a description of monumental events like the Great War? Moreover it is signally true for all those who left these shores never to return  alive. It is true for those who survived and who were left behind.
 
I would envisage Orders, and Groves , and organisations and bodies, and networks and all manner of pagans, individuals, and collectives to be there, with banners and flags.  I want us, yes, to say ‘never again’ but to realistically and pragmatically look back to those who died with thanks if we can manage it, but with sorrow if we cannot. I see this opportunity as a point where modern druids can evidence their own growing maturity and publicly show the nation what and who we are.
A druid ritual will be devised to be enacted on the day. There will be requirements for people to take part, from calling for peace, through the calling of the quarters, the casting of the sacred space, readings, music and poetry and much more. 

There will be two presiders, a priest and priestess, to be announced in due course [currently Emma Restall Orr & Geoff Boswell].

We are hoping that Druid Orders, groves, groups, individuals and other organisations will attend and would ask your help in achieving this. I hope for a united druid event in the spirit that the Druid Forum was originally set up for by the BDO and OBOD way back when. Interfaith cooperation and attendance is also earnestly sought. We’d like flags and banners and all sorts of colour and spectacle there. I had thought of approaching the media as this is an occasion for druidry to show it has matured and can take its place with vigour, respect and responsibility in the modern age. It is not an occasion to celebrate warfare. We honour the fallen. We had hoped to help raise a modest sum for the Peace Pledge Union (White Poppies), and maybe Animal Aid (Purple Poppies).

A ritual will need to be written and devised, with participants approached or nominated, with contributions suggested, commissioned and accepted, so any thoughts or ideas would be welcome. 

We would like:

An order/grove/group of 4 to 6 people to call peace,
An order/grove/group of 4 people to open and another to close the quarters,
A ‘bugler’ or similar for the last post
Readers, speakers and contributors (and their contributions)
Musicians and Singers (and their contributions)
Dancers(and their contributions)

We are specifically asking you for your personal and ‘professional’ support as this will be a first for modern druidry, certainly in the UK, and we have the opportunity to represent ourselves to the wider world. I most certainly wish for OBOD, the BDO, the Pagan Federation, and The Druid Network to be represented at the event, along with one and all. 

We hope to see as many druids – and others – as we can get there, carrying those banners and flags, all with the intent of honouring the fallen of the Great War. If you have any offers for the eisteddfod section then please contact us.  If you fancy taking one of the roles mentioned above then again please contact us. 

We will have a collection on the day for the Peace Pledge Union (white poppies).
 
We can be contacted through druidsofalbion@btinternet.com or through the website 
Yours in peace
 
Geoff Boswell
Steward of The Druid Forum

Stone Circles in the Land of the First Light

February 13th, 2014

What a start to the Order’s 50th anniversary year – We built one stone circle and planned another one! Tomorrow – Valentine’s Day – is the anniversary of when we started the Order again in its latest incarnation – February 14th 1988 – 26 years ago. But it was 50 years ago – in 1964 – that Ross Nichols founded the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids. I first met him the year before, in 1963, and little could any of us have imagined how things would turn out half a century later, with members now all over the world, and the training programme published in seven languages.

This Golden Anniversary began in the ‘Land of the First Light’ – New Zealand. As everyone in the northern hemisphere slept through the last night of the old year, 2014 had already begun in the South Pacific. We were there to celebrate with members and friends – first with some workshops at the amazing Prana New Year festival in the Coromandel, then on Waiheke Island, then at the Grove of the Summer Stars annual camp in Pukerua Bay, just outside Wellington.

On Waiheke island Fiona wanted help from the Auckland OBOD group – The Dragon Fire Grove – and everyone was soon on their knees, making calculations and heaving stones (well we did have the help of a digger). Although the stones weren’t gigantic what a change there was in the feel of the place once all the stones had been put into position! With an almost 360 degree panoramic view of the ocean from the circle, it radiated a fantastic atmosphere of peace and stability.

And then it was down to Wellington for the Annual camp – as ever, another great bunch of friends, old and new, and wonderful workshops and laughter. The novelist Juliet Marillier was with us and gave a fantastic workshop. Peta Joyce interviewed her for Druidcast – and you can hear that interview in the next show – due out in a week’s time. And we all planned a stone circle up on the ‘Tor’ at the Woolshed, with help from one of the founders of the ‘Stonehenge Aotearoa‘ project – astronomy professor Richard Hall. I’ll never forget standing outside looking up at the Southern stars with Richard’s powerful laser pen seeming to reach right up to the constellations as he told us the classical and Maori stories associated with them.

Stephanie and I were in New Zealand for a month and then we went to the Annual Assembly in Australia. The day after we got home we attended a Druids, Pagans & Christians conference in the West of England. Each of these events was so rich and inspiring. I’ll try to blog about them over the coming days and weeks (once I get back from Austria and the DruidCraft Tarot webinar – maybe see you there!)
In the meanwhile, here are two photos from Waiheke.

photo

Druid men are fashion conscious and pride themselves on their style

photo

A Welsh stonemason and pixie who lives on the island

The Druid Underground Film Festival

February 13th, 2014

Check out the website of the Druid Underground Film Festival! Here is a little information on this year’s event:

DRUID UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL

New York, New York – USA  – April 25 to 26, 2014

 The 7th Annual Druid Underground Film Festival (DUFF), a multifaceted celebration of film, music, and the magic of the unknown. With a strong emphasis on outrageous, personal, and truly independent works of cinema, DUFF provides a powerful platform for unorthodox stories that might not otherwise find the audiences they deserve. 

Year after year, moviegoers with eclectic tastes and unique perspectives make their way to DUFF for an unforgettable party that champions independent film. This year’s program will be presented bi-coastally both at the historical HM 157 in Los Angeles as well as Manhattan’s Anthology Film Archives, an international center for the preservation, study, and exhibition of experimental and avant-garde film and video. 

Previous winners of DUFF span a broad gamut of exciting underground cinema, including Damon Packard’s SKATEBANG, Jason Eisener’s Treevenge, Rodney Ascher’s Visions of Terror, and more. Winning filmmakers are eligible for Jury Awards, including the coveted Palm D’ruid; gain access to DUFF’s Underground Film Forum program, a collaboration and talent recruitment symposium; and enjoy media coverage from outlets including LA Weekly, The Guardian, Vice, LAist, and countless others.

MISSION AND OBJECTIVE
  – DUFF is a traveling powerhouse of the most provocative and bizarre films on Earth.

MORE ABOUT THE FESTIVAL
Feature-length and short-form films are welcomed and celebrated at DUFF in venues throughout Los Angeles and Manhattan. The festival proudly offers a wide variety of ways for talented cineastes to network and collaborate.