Another proud dad moment as our daughter Sophia’s film The Wider Sun is about to be screened at the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival in May, after Sophie received a ‘Best Director’ award for it in the Oslo Independent Film Festival. And here she is being interviewed for the Edinburgh Short Film Festival:
We would like to invite you to our 8th One Tree Gathering, a project initiated by the ICCS (International Center for Cultural Studies) and OBOD (the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids) to explore values shared by Pagan and Dharmic cultures. The aim of the annual gatherings is to provide platform for our communities to exchange ideas and form relationships based on friendship, mutual understanding, and shared values where we can learn about each other, and also from each other.
The event takes place on 17th & 18th of August 2019 within beautiful grounds of the Beaumanor Hall, Woodhouse, Loughborough LE12 8TX.
Our focus this year is on the ‘Nature Within and Without’. We’ll be exploring the connection between the personal spiritual journey and our relationship with the wider Earth.
During the weekend we will have an opportunity to meet like-minded people and take part in inspiring talks, discussions and interactive workshops as well as get to know each other through bonding activities.
Vegetarian/vegan meals and refreshment will be provided throughout the weekend. Accommodation is available on site in a form of single sex bunkhouse dorms with shared bathrooms.
The cost of full weekend includes activities and vegetarian/vegan meals:
£55 (without accommodation)
£65 (including accommodation)
Children under 18
£40 (without accommodation)
£50 (including accommodation)
Kids under 10
£10 (without accommodation)
£20 (including accommodation)
Get your tickets here: https://www.iccsuk.org/otg-book/2019 .
We look forward to seeing you at the weekend of building friendship between Hindu and Pagan communities and celebrating bonds and values we share.
Blessings and Namaste
Two things I love: trees and tiny houses. If you don’t have a tiny house you can get some vicarious pleasure through the spiritual practice of ‘lustful gazing’. I first heard about this forbidden secret tantric practice when a member of the family asked for a copy of Cabin Porn for their birthday present. Getting over the shock, I googled it and found it was a project that celebrates Tiny Houses – very inspiring and rather addictive. No wonder the book and website is so popular.
Where can we find trees and small wooden houses mentioned in the same breath in a spiritual context? In one of the earliest instructions on meditation. From more than two thousand years ago, we have the instructions of the Buddha in his ‘Breath-Mindfulness Discourse’ – The Ānāpānasati Sutta – in which he tells us how to meditate: sit in the forest, or at the foot of a tree, or in an empty hut, and focus your attention on your breathing.
And where better to focus on breathing, than being right amongst those wonderful beings who give us the oxygen we need to breathe? We all know the Buddha is said to have gained enlightenment sitting under a tree, as did Mahavira, the founder of Jainism. And of course it’s a favourite pastime of Druids – who are by definition tree-huggers, tree-lovers, tree worshippers.
We explore and experience all this a little in this week’s ‘Tea with a Druid’. And below are two videos you might like: Druid Andy Letcher’s band ‘Telling the Bees’ singing ‘The Worship of Trees’, and one of the many great Tiny House videos produced by ‘Living Big in a Tiny House’. I’ve chosen this one because it shows a very contemporary lifestyle is possible – you don’t have to become a hermit (ok I know it helps that they live in a sunny country). And note the nicely generous lyrics in ‘The Worship of Trees’: “Something deep inside yearns to be free – to worship trees. Church bells ring, I’m so glad they do, but I can’t join in. …just let me run free!”
Many thanks to all our guest presenters on ‘Tea with a Druid’ for Magical March: Pamela, Eimear, Julie, & Paul. We’ll have more guests for you in Mystical May!
So much has happened since 25th Feb – the last tea I had with you. The awful events in New Zealand and Mozambique. The first caused by one human being, the other by a natural disaster. All we can do in these times is help in whatever practical way we can and send our love and healing thoughts to all those who are suffering. May peace prevail.
This evening I’d like to pick up on the topic Paul brought up – the relationship between the ordinary and the extraordinary. It’s a hugely fruitful topic and, as one so drawn to the magical and extraordinary, I loved the way Paul’s repetition of the word ‘ordinary’ in the meditation led me deeper and deeper into letting go and opening up.
So how did that happen? Like many people, I guess, I have always had the following associations to ordinariness: Drab, dull, unexciting, nothing happening, ugliness even, stuckness, stasis.
‘Extraordinary’ has associated to me: exotic, exciting, different, new, weird, even ‘High Weirdness’, beauty, movement.
A heartfelt prayer of mine as a child was: “Please can my life be exciting, extra-ordinary, not drab and ordinary.”
When I held these two apparently opposite concepts together after watching Paul’s talk, something interesting happened – I felt an integration, a shift in my consciousness. They turned into two completely interrelated dynamics – of stasis and movement, of news and oldness – of innovation and tradition. All inseparable and in fact dependent on each other.
In spiritual teachings we often talk about uniting two forces within ourselves – of Yin and Yang, of the Masculine and Feminine, of Consciousness and Unconsciousness. Well, here is an apparently less exotic or esoteric pair: ordinariness and extraordinariness. But if we put them together, we get the opportunity for something special to happen: for integration, for harmony within us.
Let’s use the image of the Pheryllt in the DruidCraft Tarot to help us feel this within ourselves:
“May the ordinary and the extraordinary live in my heart forever – as lovers, as friends – so close that they are often indistinguishable from each other. In my left hand the Ordinary, in my right hand the Extraordinary. Namaste!”
I am always delighted to hear about how OBOD has impacted on members’ lives and creativity. What follows is a wonderful account by long-term member Carol Calvert of how her spiritual journey has developed and how it led her to write two fantastic books for young adults:
I began studies with the Order in 1995, and when I was told I had completed all the work some years later, I cried. Like a great book or a delicious meal, I did not want it to be over. And truthfully, I feel like I could study until the day I cross into the next world, and not be truly qualified to call myself a Druid. I just want to express my deep gratitude to Philip, Stephanie and all in the Order who have contributed so much and for so many years!
About the time I began the coursework, I became aware of a “guide” who called herself Brigid. She has been with me all these years and I truly believe has written through me, two novels, Beitha’s Sound and Chalice of the Mystic Rose (on Amazon.). These historical fiction spiritual adventure stories about Beitha, a sound healer and Druid, are packed with information I have gleaned through my studies with the OBOD, Brigid, and my time in the progressive Independent Catholic Church, where I was ordained to the Priesthood in 2006.
I presided at the famous Loretto Chapel here in Santa Fe, NM, with our church, for 16 years and also had the great privilege of playing harp and singing. My ministry was one of music, the love of nature and the importance of caring for Mother Gaia and all beings. The Christian/Druid combination seemed to be a good one.
In 2017 I was consecrated as Bishop of the Sacred Healing Order of Brigid’s Well, a bonafide healing order. Our main function is a prayer and healing list,
although local members get together for the seasonal festivals as well. We meet at a friend’s large house for meditation, music, dance, sharing and potluck. She is Jewish and we are always amazed at the connections between Druid and Jewish seasonal celebrations. We sometimes say that they are Druish, which sounds better than Jewid… you get the idea.
Over the years I have done some wee workshops on Practical Druidry in connection with my books; geared a bit more to life here in the U.S. I jokingly say it’s tough to be a Druid in Santa Fe, with only 2 kinds of trees, (Juniper and Pinion) and groves are scarce. We do however, have beautiful pines in the mountains. I have a stone healing circle on the hill above our house and can see in every direction. It is spectacular, and one gets used to the minimal green, with the mountains and the spectacular blue skies. Our night skies our incredible.
If anyone is interested in Brigid’s Well Healing Order and would like to be on our prayer list, I can be reached at email@example.com. We currently have around 50 members both Pagan and/or various religious and spiritual affiliations. Brigid’s Well honors both the Goddess Brigid and St. Brigid, and our mission statement is to do what we LOVE to do and dedicate our life force to the upliftment of all beings!
“We live in all we seek. The hidden shows up in too-plain sight. It lives captive on the face of the obvious – the people, events, and things of the day – to which we as sophisticated children have long since become oblivious. What a hideout: Holiness lies spread and borne over the surface of time and stuff like color.”
Annie Dillard, For The Time Being
Our ‘Magical March’ finishes with Paul Corcoran joining us from Cork to explore the relationship between what we term ‘ordinary’ and what we call ‘magical.’ A big thank you to all our guest presenters this month: Pamela, Eimear, Julie & Paul.
Join OBOD member Julie Brett, author of ‘Australian Druidry’ and founder of ‘Druids Down Under’ to explore how we can practice Druidry wherever we are in the world. See her site here.
Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.
Wishing everyone a very happy and blessed Equinox! At this point of balance – this time of equal light and darkness – may you find your equilibrium and that magical place between the inbreath and outbreath; a gentle, mindful pause before the season turns towards the rush of summer or the release of winter.