Many of you might know Fred Hageneder’s books but he is also a wonderful musician. Here are a couple of album trailers – one of his most recent creation, The Silence of Trees and another entitled The Spirit of Trees. Take a listen – Fred’s music is beautiful and there are some fabulous images of trees too!
A message form the Rainforest Alliance:
Dear friends of the rainforests,
The Indonesian palm oil producer Bumitama Agri apparently considers itself to be above the law. The company operates two illegal plantations, is clearing forest for more, and has broken promises to put an end to its illicit practices.
Bumitama Agri has been under considerable pressure since Friends of the Earth (FOE) exposed the company’s illegal practices in the detailed study “Commodity Crimes”, an account of irregular permits, illegal deforestation and threatened orangutans. Bumitama Agri had pledged to stop clearing forest for its Ladang Sawit Mas (LSM) plantation in the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan on Borneo. It does not appear to have changed its practices, however. FOE used satellite images to document the deforestation of a further 500 hectares for the LSM plantation between May and September 2013. The forest was still being cleared as of February 2014.
Numerous banks – including Deutsche Bank – finance Bumitama Agri. Call on Deutsche Bank’s CEOs to stop financing plantations.
A short TED film with Andy Puddicombe illustrating the benefits of mindfulness and taking just ten minutes out of your day to give your mind a well earned rest…
Good poetry begins with
the lightest touch,
a breeze arriving from nowhere,
a whispered healing arrival
a word in your ear,
a settling into things,
then like a hand in the dark
it arrests your whole body,
steeling you for revelation.
In the silence that follows
a great line
you can feel Lazarus
even the laziest, most deathly afraid
part of you,
lift up his hands and walk towards the light.
~ David Whyte
We are blessed today with many good Druid authors writing on the subject, although I remember a time when books about Druidry were hard to find, particularly ones written specifically for those new to the path. Here is a review from OBOD member Polly Morris about a great introductory book entitled ‘The Handbook of Urban Druidry – Modern Druidry for All’ by Brendan Howlin (Moon Books). With the majority of Druids coming from urban environments, this useful little book encourages the reader to find connection and inspiration at the heart of city life, illustrating that the Divine is indeed everywhere!
‘Have you ever thought that there must be a better way to live than
the way you do now?’ begins this engaging little book. If you think
it sounds like yet another self-help manual, then think again, for it
soon becomes abundantly clear that we are in a safe pair of hands.
Brendan Howlin writes exactly as I imagine he speaks. Here is a
friendly down to earth voice with a solid helping of common sense and
a good dash of humour, the kind of voice you could listen to for
hours. The book is aimed at those new to Druidry and, as the title
suggests, living in an urban environment. Not that the rural Druid
would feel excluded in any way, and there’s plenty of interest here
here for even the seasoned Druid.
Brendan begins by tackling lifestyle and its difficulties for the
average stressed and overworked city dweller. First comes learning how
to stop and look, learning to see, unlike those in the car park on an
autumn evening, rushing to get home and failing to see the large fox
standing in the middle of the car park. We learn to take a few moments
to stop, look and see, the sky, the sunset, the urban fox, learning
how to live in the here and now, to create a little space in a busy
life. Next comes learning to relax, to practice breathing deep and
slow, to meditate.
There’s a quick introductory gallop through the seasons and the Wheel
of the Year. We touch on ethics, with a sensible discussion of
Crowley’s maxim ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law’, and
there’s a section on environmental awareness and living lightly on the
land. Finally we are pointed towards what it means to study through
the three grades Bard, Ovate and Druid.
This book is written by someone who really cares, really wants the
reader to have a more rewarding lifestyle. It’s only a small book, but
it really might change your life! ~ Polly Morris
Brendan’s book can be purchased here
‘The Leaves of the trees speak with air.
In the heart of wood is the seed of fire.’
2014 is the 50th year of The Order of Bards Ovates & Druids. We have asked ‘Trees for Life’ in Scotland to plant a sacred grove to commemorate this anniversary, and have started the project with a donation of 98 trees. We’re calling it ‘Nuinn’s Grove’ after the Druid name of our founder, Ross Nichols. Have a look at the special web-page for this grove here. You’ll see that you can donate a tree for just £5 and ask for a dedication to be read out at its planting. The Order has 17,000 members, a mailing list of 10,000 newsletter susbscribers, and 16,000 listeners to our podcast every month – if every one donated a tree we could plant a whole forest with many sacred groves in it! Wouldn’t that be wonderful?! Do help make this vision a reality, if you can, by gifting at least one tree now and spreading the news! Trees for Life have made the process incredibly simple!
OBOD member and talented astrologer Sarah Fuhro has very kindly drawn up a Star Map for our 50th Anniversary, analysing the relationship between it and the charts of OBOD’s early beginnings and later resurgence. Sarah writes a wonderful Blog – ‘Sarah Fuhro’s Star-Flower Alchemy’ – which is well worth visiting and can be found here. What follows is Sarah’s insightful interpretation along with the charts themselves:
With the inspiration of Imbolc, I begin this description of the birth chart of the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids. There were two moments of inception. Nuinn and friends gathered for an evening of poetry on 23 September, 1964, at 7:30 pm, and on 25 September held a public ritual on Parliament Hill, at 1:00 pm. With these two assemblies in honour of the Autumn Equinox, we can already see the themes of poetry and public celebration of the earth, which have drawn so many of us to this remarkable and lively organization!
I drew up three charts, one for the poetic and literary evening, one for the ceremony on Parliament Hill and one for the moment of the Autumn Equinox of 1964 on September 23rd. All three dates take place as the Sun enters the sign of Libra where the scales of time are in balance between dark and light, the special lesson of our beautiful planet. Libra is linked to justice, to partnership, harmony and beauty under the rulership of Venus, the planet of love, which keeps our Order and the world turning!
At the opening of the Order, Jupiter, a planet who expresses the nature of spirituality by sign, was in Taurus. Jupiter in Taurus is the perfect description of an earth-centered devotion!
Jupiter, always a planet of expansion and generosity, in Taurus celebrates the beauty and joy of earthly delights. Nature becomes the spiritual inspiration, and in the love of Nature. Those born with Jupiter in Taurus learn the art of patience through a deep knowledge of the cycles and wisdom of the earth.
At the public ritual on September 25th 1964, Sagittarius, Jupiter’s constellation was on the horizon, the Ascendant. Sagittarius is an indicator of an optimistic belief in life, an embrace of the unity behind all deeply-felt belief systems.
The South Node of the Moon, also in Sagittarius, reveals a connection to a priestly past, (Druidry?), when the inspiration and intuition of spiritual leaders was accepted by the community. The North Node of the Moon shows the direction needed to balance the already developed gifts of the past. The North Node in Gemini, must evolve the ability to hear from others, and to communicate with clarity and concern for the whole community. OBOD, from the beginning, brought a reconnection to the earth spirituality of the past but communicated in the language of the present with care that members are heard, and honoured.
1964 was a time of awakening and change, which is symbolized in the planetary combination of Pluto, the god of the Underworld, and Uranus, electric and revolutionary, underway at that time. Speaking truth to power became an imperative for many. Human rights, spirituality, music, sexuality and politics were in early stages of turmoil, which would climax in the late 60’s, with many changes institutionalized through the early 70’s. These years are often referred to as a time of deep transformation all over the world, a desire for human evolution, often met with harsh repression. In September of 1964, Pluto and Uranus were quite close to one another, and fifty years later, as we are about to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, these same planets of volcanic upheaval are once again in a tight relationship, felt in a world-wide fever of change and resistance to change, and with the added Uranic potential for communication through the technical revolution of the internet, and the Plutonic potential for leaving nothing hidden, as well as the potential for repression through electronic spying.
OBOD’s Mercury, the planet of communication and magic, is placed in the midst of these highly charged planets. The Pluto Uranus conjunction, which coloured the times, took place in Virgo, a sign of deep commitment to work, to health, and to ritual. Mercury in Virgo is quite at home in this earth sign. OBOD is an organization whose revolutionary (Uranus/Pluto) message (Mercury) is to communicate the day-by-day magic of the earth (Virgo) through ritual, concern for the environment and a commitment to the health of the planet of which we are a part. As we celebrate fifty years of the Order, we are once more in a place of crisis (Pluto/Uranus) in response to our misuse of power (Pluto) and technology (Uranus) in the human relationship to the earth.
The planetoid Chiron was discovered in 1978, after the opening of the Order. Chiron has been associated with a worldwide interest in Shamanism. Chiron is said to be the healer, who cannot heal himself, but who takes the knowledge of his wound to mend the wounds of others. With his discovery has a come renewed interest in alternative healing from the past and the present. He is sometimes called the bridge between the inner and outer planets, a messenger to our earth from the planets invisible to the naked eye.
The cycle of Chiron around the Sun is fifty years. At the time of the fiftieth anniversary, Alban Elfed, 2014, Chiron will have returned almost exactly to his natal position in the sign of Pisces. The Chiron return in a human chart, at age fifty, often brings about a crisis of vocation. There is often a sense of purpose that goes beyond the natural focus on family and career, which take precedence for the first fifty years of life.
When the Order reopened on Valentine’s Day 1988, Chiron was in Gemini, very close to the degree of the lunar north Node. The evolutionary impulse of the opening chart now had a new cosmic player, who would introduce the concept of shamanism and healing, much of it inspired by a deep appreciation of the ways of indigenous people.
The 1988 reopening featured a close connection between Saturn and Uranus, the god of the old and the god of the new. These two planets are the ‘rulers’ of Aquarius where the Sun was residing on February 14. Druidry as expressed in OBOD is certainly a mixture of these two impulses.
Will our Order feel a higher calling, a deeper commitment to heal the wounds of the earth, the human spirit, the fabric of our life force? Many of these same themes are once again in flux as we experience the square between Pluto and Uranus.
Chiron in the birth chart of OBOD is directly across from Pluto, Uranus and Mercury. As we experience his return at the 50th year, something about that earlier revolutionary message must now be healed or understood in a new way. If we take a moment to feel the square of Uranus and Pluto in which we are now immersed, we can see the potential for Uranus, the revolutionary, and Pluto, the truth-teller to broaden our understanding of the potential for each of us as members of this Order – to be Bards (musicians and artists), Ovates (healers and diviners) and Druids (community voices).
It is the Moon, who lies opposite Chiron at this 50th anniversary. Shining Venus accompanies her at the moment of the Autumn Equinox, and we can see them shining together at dawn that day. The Moon and Venus represent the emotional and nurturing aspect of Druidry. There is a deep healing potential in the cosmic cycles held in the Moon.
As we gather in our world-wide circles and groves throughout this year, do we understand our power to heal the earth? This Imbolc, as I looked around the circle at my grove, I felt some deep well of hope that humans can once more become part of the living fabric of the planet we call home. Nineteen of us (the number of the Metonic cycle of the Moon) stamped our feet under the hemlock branches, near the misty pond to our West, where our Grove gathers each Imbolc. We celebrate our twenty-second anniversary this Alban Eiler. Nuin knew none of us in this circle in 1964. Many of us were not even born at that time, yet we know our deep connection of love and dedication to the seed he planted fifty years ago.
~ Sarah Fuhro, member of the Mystic River Grove
Here is a review by Sharon Zak of a lovely book written by OBOD member Danu Forest entitled ‘The Druid Shaman: Exploring the Celtic Otherworld’ – out now on Moon Books in their Shamanic Pathways series. I have recently endorsed Danu’s next publication ‘Celtic Tree Magic’ (Llewellyn); she writes about Druid spirituality and practice in a deeply insightful and accessible way which makes both books well worth a read!
What an enchanting read! This little book resonates with the
profoundly insightful teachings of Druidry and Shamanism all woven
together with wisdom and sensitivity by Danu Forest. The book
represents a starting point, it takes you on a journey, leading you
confidently to a magical doorway and then, like a loving mother, it
encourages you to take your first tentative steps. In reading this,
feeling it, you can be confident in the knowledge that Danu has gifted
you the wisdom to stand your ground.
Danu offers exercises to help you prepare yourself and to meet your
allies. Those who will accompany you as you travel onwards through and
between the veils. She offers supportive guidance that you can choose
to follow, or not, while she reminds you that it’s entirely your
choice. Expertly researched, The Druid Shaman helps the reader to
align with the cycles of the land infused with energies upon which you
can draw. And while she urges curiosity she reminds us to talk always
with honour and respect.
Danu introduces us to the tools of the shaman trade before leading us
on an introductory tour of the three realms. Abred, the Middleworld,
where the indwelling spirits are found and then to visit the
Underworld and Upperworld, each with their own extraordinary gifts,
tantalisingly close, ready for the novice shaman to connect with. I’d
recommend this book for people taking their first steps since the
platform is solid, it is beautifully written and Danu has shared her
experience with love and deep respect.
The Druid Shaman is available here
Last autumn a young man, Matt Fryer, and his colleague came over from film school to interview me for a short documentary they were making on the ‘lost art of the spoken word.’ Knowing that Druidry, and Bardistry, is concerned with the oral tradition he wanted to chat. We managed to speak by the Long Man until it started raining, and then retreated back home for the last part. It’s a great short film with ‘Family Guy’ style cartoons and haunting music at the end. Congratulations Matt!
When we realise that we need to make major changes in our lives for the better, we can initially feels paralysed with fear, or be overwhelmed by the enormity of what is required. It is difficult enough on a personal level but can be particularly tricky when we are faced with the challenges of changing the world and the way we live as communities. Here is a great piece by Julian Rose which tackles this issue and gives some very useful suggestions to move through the apathy or cynicism that can prevent us from believing such change is possible…
We who engage in postulating solutions to the dominant issues of this time, use much energy speculating on unknown outcomes. But how much energy do we use in laying the ground for a future of our own making?
How much time do we give to devising the template for the new society we must create?
To bring a dream into reality is hard work; it’s a lifetime’s work at the very least. Yet many hold back from ever embarking – rationalising that such a quest is a futile exercise that will surely be swamped by a reactionary and repressive status quo.
Somehow, this failure to embark on the single most important mission of our lives, characterises a great swath of sleepwalking humanity. But not only, also a significant percentage of supposed ‘spiritual aspirants’ who confuse the azure bubble in which they live with the stark reality of the new world which needs to be chiselled and honed into existence.
So here are a few suggestions about what can be done now, to ensure that life on Earth gets a better chance under our stewardship than under the present and past masters of control.
* Bring into consciousness a realistic vision of what your neighbourhood should look and be like in a positively transformed state.
* Note down on paper the basic ingredients necessary to bring about this positive change.
* Add to this mix anyone living in the area who you feel could make a positive contribution to this process.
* Go back through your blueprint and allow your creative imagination to paint in some colourful innovative elements that will give movement to the plan. For example music, drama and seasonal celebrations.
* Check that the essential simple necessities are in place: local ecological and integrated food production; fresh water availability; the resources for renewable heat and power generation; the existence/planting of orchards; woodland areas for timber needs – and all other such similar needs that offer food and shelter security within a community intent upon transitioning away from state and corporate dependency.
* Now research current activities in your neighbourhood and see what there is that may already touch on the key elements of your vision. There may be two or three such initiatives already being considered or even practised. But chances are they are not ‘connected-up’.
* Using your holistically conceived blueprint as the crystallising factor, get involved in helping to create a working symbiosis between these different initiatives so that they each draw benefit from the other and increase the overall awareness of all involved.
* Book an available space in your local town/village hall or home – prepare your ‘bigger picture’ plan – and map the interconnections that, when all the key elements are functioning fully, will bring renewed life and direction to the whole community.
Once having completed these eight steps, alert your local media and invite local residents to share the vision which you started. Show what progress has already been made and what still needs to be done. Encourage the formation of working groups to take these different complementary initiatives forward and to periodically share the results of their efforts. Forging, bit by bit, a metamorphosis of life in your neighbourhood.
Such a project can be done by anyone. No need for any particular qualifications or skills. Just a strong desire to help your community stand on its own two feet and free itself from dependence upon the hierarchical control model which holds so much of society in its thrall.
Very soon your energetic approach will draw fellow enthusiasts to your scheme – while others will back-off. This is an essential part of any process of creative change, and one which defines where true commitment can be found and where fake enthusiasm reveals itself for what it is.
I have put this concept to the test and had very positive results. The initiative involved developing a template for a UK market town of 10,000 inhabitants to become largely self-sufficient in locally produced food, fuel and fibre over a fifteen year period, starting in 2000. While it was not possible to give as much time as I would have liked to this project, it was possible to share its vision with local motivators and witness a steady process of transformation get under-way – which continues to this day. The town in question has since attracted a significant number of national awards for its innovative socio-economic practices.
Don’t be swayed by the cynical voices who say ‘it can’t be done’. My reaction to such remarks is to be stirred into ever greater determination to show that it can!
We have one life – at least in this body. It is a brief flash, a spark, which flares-up into fire, flickers and transforms into something else. To waste this brief and precious gift by evading its call to action – is an error which in all probability cannot be recalled.
If we are serious about turning around the fortunes of this planet, then it’s time for talk and action to become synonymous. If we are not, then it’s time to get out of the way.
Julian Rose is the author of In Defence of Life – Essays on a Radical Reworking of Green Wisdom available at Amazon.com and independent bookshops. He is an early pioneer of UK organic farming, an international activist, social entrepreneur, actor and author. His website can be found here.