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Black Elk

The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston

August 16th, 2019

I have written several times here about the extraordinary Talliston House and Gardens, a once ordinary three bedroom council house that was transformed into the most magical space by author John Tarrow. John has a new book out entitled The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston , a fabulous fictional tale that uses the real life Talliston as its inspiration. A great read! Here is a review by Maria Ede-Weaving with details of how you can obtain a copy for yourself.

The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston tells the story of Jo Darkin, a young boy abandoned by his parents, who finds himself at the gateway of a derelict council house only to find that this most ordinary of places is a portal to an extraordinary series of worlds.

The book can certainly be read on its own terms but it helps to know that its author – John Tarrow – is the designer and creator of Talliston House and Gardens, a three-bed council house which, over a course of years, he transformed into a magical series of rooms, each with different styles and themes. These real-life rooms form the basis of Jo Darkin’s fictional journey through a labyrinth of time and place; each room the site of ancient sacred energy; gateways that lead towards the labyrinth’s centre.

John Tarrow

Jo’s path through the Talliston’s labyrinth is reminiscent of the Hero’s Journey and those familiar with Tarot and the Fool’s path of integration and wisdom through the Major Arcana, will find much to enjoy here. In fact, there are many mystical, spiritual and magical references throughout the book that give it depth. Jo’s journey echoes those mythical trips to the Underworld which initially bring pain and loss but ultimately the gift of a new personal authenticity and self-awareness. Like the Underworld, Talliston – once entered – is a place of initiation and self-discovery; we as readers are encouraged to see, through Jo’s experience, how we too can transform and transcends our personal limitations.

The narrative is fast paced and engaging; it is an enjoyable piece of magical storytelling that reminds us to seek and find the extraordinary in the ordinary. Just as John Tarrow’s amazing house challenges our expectations and assumptions, The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston gifts us with the same magical shift in our perception and encourages us to recognize that we can be so much more than we might imagine; that our creative ability to transform is unlimited.

Well worth a read! The book is available form Amazon, Waterstones, Smiths and Folyes or you can obtain a copy from John’s website.

~ Maria Ede-Weaving

THE HOUSE | Talliston House & Gardens | Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home | www.talliston.com

THE BOOK | The Stranger’s Guide To Talliston | The Epic Fantasy Adventure | www.tarrow.co.uk

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Spiritual Life – Theory & Practice: Tea with a Druid 85

August 5th, 2019

I think most of us would say that having a spiritual life is essential for our physical, emotional and mental well-being. Through it we can let our soul breathe and express itself in our lives and in the world. But what exactly is a spiritual life?

I would suggest that broadly our spiritual life consists of two things: theory and practice. The theory is the worldview, philosophy, approach to life that we develop through study, through discussion with others and through personal experience. Each of us builds up this theory of life, out of more or less conscious beliefs about how life works, what the deeper purpose of it might be, and so on. This is the value of spiritual teachings and books, of browsing the internet and of discussion with friends deep into the night. Over time we can refine, test, change our beliefs to build the most satisfying philosophy or world view, and then I guess most of us ‘plateau’, having reached what we find is a workable and helpful way to see life: for example, for someone that might be a belief in the fundamentally spiritual nature of all life, the idea of different dimensions or planes of existence, a belief in reincarnation, and some sort of law of the harvest or karma. It can be interesting to take a while to ask yourself: What are the key ideas or precepts that inform my worldview, my philosophy of life?

Then ask yourself: where have these ideas come from? Just one source? Or from a number of different teachings, philosophies or religions? I reckon for most people reading or hearing this, the answer will be the latter not the former. But I may be wrong – do tell me! Is your worldview built from ideas drawn from just one viewpoint – say Buddhism or Christianity – or from a number? Do share with us the influences that have helped build your worldview, the theoretical basis that your spiritual life is built upon. And do you feel you are still building this viewpoint, or have you plateaued, and are satisfied with where you’ve got to?

There’s theory and then there’s practice. While it can be rewarding to read and study and develop our worldview and philosophy of life, to fully benefit from spirituality, and indeed to feel we have a ‘spiritual life’, we need to practice it too. And how we do this will vary from person to person and from life stage to life stage. A certain cult may want us all to engage in exactly the same practice, but a hallmark of a healthy spiritual path should be, I believe, that each of us is called to practice in the way that feels right for us – and that may change over time. This is why those systems that offer just one technique have their limitations – it may be true that a certain prayer or meditation or ritual if done often will create certain beneficial effects, but as Jung said: “The shoe that fits one person pinches another…”
It’s also true that like any skill you need to learn from others and follow practices that later you may grow out of, or adapt in various ways, like an artist who at first learns the basic skills of drawing and painting before developing their own unique form of expression.

In this video I mention my book ‘Seek Teachings Everywhere.’ You can find out more about it here.

Festival Blessings! /|\

August 1st, 2019

Have an abundant Lughnasadh and an inspirational Imbolc! May the gifts of whatever season you find yourself in, bless and sustain you!

Tea with a Druidess!

July 30th, 2019

Join Eimear Burke, who will succeed Philip Carr-Gomm as head of the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids in June 2020, for a discussion on the value of blame in the eco-crisis and a forest meditation. See Eimear’s website

An Autumn Retreat

July 19th, 2019

There are two places left on the retreat I am running this October. Our theme will be The Mystic Garden and the Sanctuary of the Heart, and the setting for this retreat is just gorgeous. Wonderful grounds, majestic trees which by then should be in their Autumn colours… deep relaxing Druid Nidras (lying-down meditations in Yoga Nidra style set in a Druid context)… poetry, discussion, sophrology, good food, a special evening for us on Saturday with Flora Pethybridge and Ashley Ramsden, founder of the School of Storytelling, reciting T.S.Eliot’s Four Quartets: ‘A beautiful and revelatory telling of Eliot’s masterpiece… One of the great poems of the English language, brilliantly interpreted and delivered by two of the UK’s finest storytellers.’  Too good to miss! Details here.

Ashley & Flora will join us Saturday evening

Seek Teachings Everywhere

July 17th, 2019

Do you stick to just one spiritual path or do you find yourself drawing inspiration from wherever you find it? Is it ok to do a little bit of this, some of that, and some more of something else? This book delves into how combining inspiration from different spiritual teachings can enrich our souls. Here’s a glimpse of the Contents Page:

Foreword by Peter Owen Jones                                                                      
Introduction

Sex on the Beach or Death in the Afternoon? Mixology for the Spiritual Seeker
Preliminary Perspectives
Should You Follow Just One Spiritual Path?
Druidry as a Meta-Path
Druidry & Other Ways
PART I: One Tree: The Druid & Dharmic Traditions
The Idea of a Common Origin
The World-Wide Wisdom Tradition
Yoga Nidra & Druid Nidra – The Sleep of the Forest Sage

Buy an author-signed paperback here.

Buy an ebook or paperback here: Amazon UK or here: Amazon USA