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" Live out of your imagination

not your history "

Stephen R. Covey

Looking Into the Light

August 10th, 2020

I learned about the work of the Fintry Trust and its publishing initiative The Shrine of Wisdom, along with its mystical Universal Order, over fifty years ago when the author Vera Chapman, Pendragon of the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids told me she was a member. It took me decades before I managed a visit to Fintry House, but immediately I fell in love with its peaceful atmosphere and beautiful gardens. I’ve run two retreats there, and hope to run more once such ventures are feasible. In the meanwhile, the Trust has launched a fantastic programme of online events, and within this I am offering a workshop series and occasional conversations with religious thinkers, the first of which is on 6th October:

Lughnasadh and Imbolc Blessings!

July 31st, 2020

Wishing everyone an abundantly blessed Lughnasadh and a hopeful, inspiring Imbolc! During the ongoing challenges and uncertainty of these strange times, Rumi offers us a seed thought for both our harvests and our dreams…

If you only say one prayer in a day, make it thank you. ~ Rumi

Never lose hope, dear heart; miracles dwell in the invisible. ~ Rumi

Towards The Same Horizon

July 24th, 2020

Today, far from Druidry seeming like some arcane fringe activity, our preoccupations are now centre-stage: they address the most urgent and important issue of our time: how we galvanize all of our potential – practical, creative, intellectual, and spiritual – to protect and restore the Earth.

They address directly the gaze of Greta Thunberg and her generation – our children and grand-children – to say: we are committed to our love of Nature to the fullest extent, with all of our being – all looking towards the same horizon: a world in which each human being has enough to lead a happy, healthy and fulfilling life, without suffering injustice, without terrible inequalities between rich and poor, without the destruction of habitats and species, without the pollution of our skies and seas.

Solstice Blessings for the Weekend! /|\

June 19th, 2020

May you have a blessed and happy Solstice! May we each take a moment to give thanks this weekend! 

Praying
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

~ Mary Oliver

Farewell… and we will meet again!

June 6th, 2020

It’s Saturday and I am in liminal time. Last night I gave my Farewell Speech as leader of the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids. Tonight, Stephanie, Damh, Eimear and I – and whoever else would like to join us – enter into the inner world to perform the actual hand-over so that Eimear will become the new leader from that moment.

We had to pre-record the words for this event – because of lockdown we are all in different places. Damh the Bard has engineered a wonderful soundtrack to accompany the voices, and it will be available on mine and the OBOD Youtube and Facebook pages, and in a special edition of Druidcast, all released at 8pm BST tonight, when we will enter into the imaginal world to fully experience the ceremony. Listen to it here.

I feel as if I have shed a skin – fresh and new and sensitive, with tears close to the surface. But they are tears of joy, exuberance and just sheer amazement – best conveyed by the closing music of the wonderful album One World One Voice created back in 1990, which Steph and I listened to so many times just as the Order was beginning to grow. A BBC documentary accompanied the album, and in it so much of what has unfolded over the following thirty years has come to pass. It is wonderful music and song from all over the world and as fresh and relevant as it was three decades ago. And since it finishes with the message ‘We will meet again’ I will leave you with this sample from the album below, since it reflects so well how this moment feels and what I want to convey. I’m going to have a break for 6-8 weeks or so. What bliss! As little screen time as possible! My wonderful, long-suffering and talented assistant Maria, who I have worked with for over ten years, will keep the Instagram page going and field emails and so on, and then I hope to be back with some ‘Teas with a Druid’.

For now, I hope you enjoy this music. It’s time to dance and sing! And I’ll preface this with an excerpt from my speech:

Today, far from Druidry seeming like some arcane fringe activity, our preoccupations are now centre-stage: they address the most urgent and important issue of our time: how we galvanize all of our potential – practical, creative, intellectual, and spiritual – to protect and restore the Earth.

They address directly the gaze of Greta Thunberg and her generation – our children and grand-children – to say: we are committed to our love of Nature to the fullest extent, with all of our being – all looking towards the same horizon: a world in which every human being has enough to lead a happy, healthy and fulfilling life without suffering injustice, without terrible inequalities between rich and poor, without the destruction of habitats and species, without the pollution of our skies and seas.

Together, and individually in our own unique ways, I hope and believe that we can all fulfill these two most important aspirations of the Druid path: to care for our environment and all life, and to foster wisdom and compassion within ourselves and between ourselves.

Thank you for all the support you have given me over the years. Many many blessings. And – as I’m sure we are all saying to each other right now – I hope to see you again soon!

Go to about 42.50 mins in to hear the section I’d love you to hear, or listen to the whole thing! (I’ve just remembered that Nuinn invited me to see the drummers you hear at the end at the Roundhouse in London all those years ago – how time flies!)

The Call for Justice: in the USA and Everywhere

June 2nd, 2020

In Druidry we use a prayer that we often recite together when standing in a great circle at Stonehenge or on Glastonbury Tor. It’s known as the Druid’s Prayer and it was written by a Welshman Iolo Morganwg just over 200 hundred years ago. The version we use in the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids goes like this:

Grant, O God/Goddess/Gods/Great Spirit thy Protection
And in protection, Strength
And in strength, Understanding
And in understanding, Knowledge
And in knowledge, the Knowledge of Justice
And in the knowledge of justice, the Love of it
And in the love of it, the Love of all Existences
And in the love of all existences, the Love of God/Goddess/Gods/Great Spirit (or: the Earth our Mother) and all Goodness.

When you hear it recited in a big group it turns into a shambles right at the beginning. Some say ‘Grant O God’, others Grant O Goddess, others say God & Goddess, others O Gods, others O Great Spirit. This chaos is a good thing. There is no dogma in Druidry – no mandated theological stance. We celebrate this diversity. Unanimity is soon restored in the lines that follow, and the chaos only returns at the end, when Deity is invoked once more.
Some people baulk when they hear the term ‘justice’ being used in this prayer. It conjures up images of authoritarianism – of aggressive policing. But they’ve misunderstood – and nowhere can this be seen more clearly than if we look at what happened in Minneapolis a few days ago when a policeman murdered a man brazenly in the street undeterred by the knowledge he was being filmed, and that people were calling out for him to stop.
Justice is what every human being requires as a fundamental right, and that is why the fury has broken out in reaction to that apalling act. Racial justice, climate justice, social justice. The modern Druid movement stands for these values and I am proud that one of our founding figures, Iolo Morganwg, wrote those lines of the Druid Prayer, and proud too to know that outside a shop he ran in Cowbridge, in the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales, was a sign saying that the sugar he sold was from plantations that employed no slaves. He also refused a legacy from his brothers, whose plantations in Jamaica used slave labour.
Druids pray for the Knowledge of Justice and the love of it. They pray for peace too, and after sending peace to each of the four directions in a Druid ritual, everyone in the circle – of every colour, gender, race, and age who is gathered there – says: “May there be peace throughout the whole world.”

The Traitor’s Child

June 1st, 2020

Many of you will have read and enjoyed Mark Townsend’s books. Mark, a former vicar with the Church of England, is a writer, celebrant and magician. He has spoken and performed all over the world, from Gothic Cathedrals to the African Savannah, entertaining such diverse groups as Catholic Nuns and Maasai Warriors. He was described by actor and comedian Ricky Gervais as ‘a funny, druid-like magical priest from a Tolkein novel’! Mark, a member of OBOD, blends his Christian faith with a Druid path, which has inspired some lovely books which include Jesus Through Pagan Eyes, Path of the Blue Raven, The Wizard’s Gift and The Magician’s Tale.

The Traitor’s Child is Mark’s debut novel and will be released on the 20th June. I include here some press about the book and a short trailer.

Research took Mark from the seedy streets of Amsterdam’s Red Light District, to the sun bleached medieval hill top town of Mojácar in Andalucía.

The story follows the journey of an abused Catholic orphan who, after a failed attempt to find her parents, ends up as a prostitute. It alternates between various time periods and locations, and draws upon the terrifying records of the Spanish Inquisition and the alternative history of the birth of Christianity.

Ancient heroes are made villains and vice versa and, as the narrative progresses, various threads come together to form a climax that promises to shake the very foundations of the Church.

What if the church had got their saviour completely wrong?
What if he had never wanted to found a new religion?
What if his closest followers were ALL traitors, except one?
And what if he never actually…

ADVANCE PRAISE:

“The Next Da Vinci Code!” Essie Fox

“A real page turner. Exciting and unputdownable!” Barbara Erskine

“Exhilarating and provocative, this is one hell of a religious thriller.” Peter James

“The Traitor’s Child is a haunting and heart-breaking novel of betrayal and conspiracy, in which the roots of one family’s sordid secret burrow so deep beneath the pillars of the Church, they threaten to bring it crashing down. Gripping and thought-provoking to the end.”
Karen Maitland

Publication Date June 2020 – Roundfire Books, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-78904-375-4 $14.95 | £9.99 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-78904-376-1 $7.99 | £4.99 (e-book)

Mark can be contacted for interviews via hedgepriest@hotmail.co.uk