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" Friendship is a sheltering tree "

Coleridge

Howling to the Moon & Taking the Long View

April 6th, 2020

In this session, I explore the second of Peter Cawston’s suggestions. See last week’s tea for an exploration of the first. Here are all four of his ‘landmarks’:

Refuse, Revel, Accept, Midwife, and Choose!

A friend, a GP on the front line of health care in Scotland, has offered these suggestions – landmarks he’s called them – points of reference for our thoughts at this time:

– Refuse to let this thing rob you of your life: revel in every moment of bliss that you can, acknowledge and allow every sad or frightened feeling as also sacred.

– Accept this opportunity to become more at peace with the prospect your own death, learn to accept the small possibility that it might be sooner rather than later.

– Be a midwife of the new as well as a hospice worker to the old: while much suffering arises from loss, give your love and energy also to activities that point to what is to come.

– Choose to make sense of this apparent catastrophe as humanity’s last chance to avert a much greater disaster. From the collapse of the old economic order commit to building the earth-wise, conscious, connected and enduring society that will follow.

~ Peter Cawston

In the following two Tea sessions, I will explore each of the second two suggestions.

In preparing this Tea, I synchronously received David at Raptutide’s blog post. See:  https://www.raptitude.com/2020/04/take-the-long-view/

He presents a ‘thought experiment’ based on Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, explaining that “All problems exist within a context that dwarfs them, but often we’re too close to see it.” In the experiment, which can easily become a meditation, we become aware of the wider context, and this can relieve our anxiety. If you are experiencing anxiety related to the epidemic, The Institute of Psychosynthesis is offering a free telephone support service. They are great people. You can find details here: https://www.psychosynthesis.org/coron…https://www.psychosynthesis.org/coronavirus-support/

If you’d like details of the Home Retreat I mention, The Garden of Flowing in Perpetual Happiness. Details are here.

The Irrepressible Dr Bramwell

April 1st, 2020

Those of you who were at OBOD’s Winter Gathering last December will remember Dr Bramwell’s extraordinary performance piece about the river Don. 200 of us stood to give him a rapturous standing ovation – a response that has only occurred once before: after a performance by members from New Zealand, which left many of us moved to tears.

If you weren’t at the gathering, that introduction should give you an idea of what’s in store for you with his latest offering. Here’s his description:

Watling Street Podcast

 The Guardian travel section are planning to do a ‘best travel podcasts’ feature this month and I’m pleased to say that Watling Street, the four-part series I made with author John Higgs two year ago, is among those chosen.

John’s book explores how diverse, rich and ever-changing our culture is, and uses Watling Street as a convenient pathway to demonstrate this. It is, he points out, a palimpsest, forever being re-written but still bearing traces of its past. 

The podcast was rewarding to make.  John has a knack of uncovering surprising stories – who knew that Milton Keynes was partly built as a sun temple?! – and of looking at culture through a different lens. 

The series begins near Canterbury with us discussing pilgrimages, Powell and Pressburger’s film A Canterbury Tale and Brian Haw, the man who camped outside of parliament to protest against the Iraq war and ‘sacrificed his life to peace’ (Tony Benn). As the series continues, we wind our way through London, meeting Iain Sinclair and comic Miranda Kane to learn about the prostitutes’ graveyard in Southwick. We travel to Milton Keynes (for the summer solstice), Bletchley Park, Northampton (to meet Alan Moore) and finish in Wales to discuss storytelling with Cerys Matthews and to explore the symbol of the dragon in mythology.

To listen to it all on iTunes or hear Part One here:

Refuse and Revel!

April 1st, 2020

Join me in exploring Peter Cawston’s suggestions for how we can conduct ourselves at this time of difficulty. His first suggestion is: – “Refuse to let this thing rob you of your life: revel in every moment of bliss that you can, acknowledge and allow every sad or frightened feeling as also sacred.” [Peter clarifies: “the ‘thing’ that is to be resisted is not the virus itself but the social and economic conditions that led to the pandemic. The virus is part of the natural balance of life, maintaining balance in bat and other species with which it co-evolved. It is habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, trade in endangered species and global air travel that have led to the leap into humans and rapid spread across our non – adapted species. That’s the human catastrophe that could rob us of our lives. Every act of revelling in bliss and non-conforming with the drivers of that economic and social order is an act of rebellion.”]We’ll explore the other suggestions in future Teas. Their simplicity holds great depth and it is worth ‘unpacking’ each suggestion. Do let me know what you think in the Comments section. PS. If you are experiencing anxiety related to the epidemic, The Institute of Psychosynthesis is offering a free telephone support service. They are great people. You can find details here: https://www.psychosynthesis.org/coron…https://www.psychosynthesis.org/coronavirus-support/
And do read this brilliant essay by Charles Eisenstein. I can’t recommend it highly enough. We are all getting overwhelmed perhaps by talk of the virus, but this is superb and thought-provoking: https://charleseisenstein.org/essays/the-coronation/

Divination and transformation with the sacred animals of the Druid tradition

March 31st, 2020

YOUR INVITATION TO AN ONLINE EXPERIENCE ORGANISED BY GLOBAL SPIRITUAL STUDIES

Druid Animal Oracle DeckIn the folklore of the old Druid source-lands of Britain, Ireland and Brittany there are numerous stories about the magical powers of animals, and in Druidry today, animals are revered as sacred beings that exist both in the physical world and in the Otherworld. They are capable of challenging us and changing us, healing us, and showing us the way forward.

Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, along with artist Will Worthington, created The Druid Animal Oracle over 25 years ago, and in this exclusive workshop they will show you how you can work with the sacred animals of Druidry for divination and for personal transformation. You will be invited on an inner journey, and to work with the cards – either with The Druid Oracles app on your phone, or with the Druid Animal Oracle deck. You will learn how animals can become your guides and allies, healers and teachers, totems and familiars. During the live recording session you will be able to interact with Philip and Stephanie and ask questions. Those who participate in the live session will be able to download the video recording for future reference.

If you’re not able to join in the live session, you can pre-purchase the video recording which will be available as an MP4 file for download to your computer or device.

Philip2_smAbout the presenters
Philip has a degree in psychology from University College London, and trained in psychotherapy for adults at The Institute of Psychosynthesis, and in play therapy for children with Dr Rachel Pinney. He also trained in Montessori education and founded the Lewes Montessori School. When a teenager Philip studied with his teacher, the Chief Druid Ross Nichols, and in 1988 he was asked to lead The Order of Bards Ovates and Druids. He has written over a dozen books on spirituality and gives talks and workshops all over the world. Click here to visit his website.

Stephanie_smallAfter art school, Stephanie became an artist for theatre, ballet and opera companies, and was the scenic artist in residence at the Glyndebourne festival opera for many years. She helps to run the distance learning programme of the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids, which has 25,000 members worldwide.

Together, over the last twenty-five years, they have developed three oracles to help us connect to our deep inner knowing: the Druid Animal and Plant Oracles which are available as an app and the DruidCraft Tarot, also available as an app.

Live workshop
Date: Wednesday 15 April from 10am – 11.15am UK time

Other timezones

  • Sydney, Australia: 15 April from 7pm – 8.15pm
  • Auckland, New Zealand: 15 April from 9pm – 10.15pm
  • USA Pacific time: 15 April from 2am – 3.15am
  • USA east coast: 15 April from 5am – 6.15am

Click here for a time zone converter to find your local time.

Cost
Prices are in USD

  • Live session: $19
  • Pre-purchase video recording as an MP4 downloadable file: $19

TO ORDER FROM GLOBAL SPIRITUAL STUDIES CLICK HERE

Isn’t Physical Distancing a better term than Social Distancing?

March 25th, 2020

I was talking with a friend from New Zealand today who said they’ve switched from using the term ‘social distancing’ to ‘physical distancing’. It’s a more accurate term, perhaps even less scary. I’ve just read: that the UN World Health Organization ‘is trying to switch out the popular phrase, “social distancing,” for the more nuanced, “physical distancing.”’ Tell me how it’s been for you, but ever since the lock-down Stephanie and I have had more social engagement than ever – not just between us, but with friends from all over the world and family members. Between the Facetime, Skype, and WhatsApp calls there’s hardly been a moment to actually get to grips with this ‘new normal’ of not physically engaging with others! I’ve started a Home Retreat project for anyone who wants to positively reframe the lock-down into a ‘home retreat’ and I’ve called it after the name of a garden where we once lived in New Zealand: The Garden of Flowing in Perpetual Happiness. Details here.

I trained in Psychosynthesis with The Institute of Psychosynthesis. They are great people and they are now offering a free telephone support service if you are suffering from anxiety due to the current crisis.  You can find details here.

Here’s this Monday’s edition of ‘Tea with a Druid’:

Some Updates

March 21st, 2020

Hello All!

I made this short five-minute video in response to the epidemic, and below it I’ll paste the last two sessions of ‘Tea with a Druid’ – kindly provided by River Jones and Cerri Lee. In my video I mention dolphins swimming in Venice’s canals taken from the Guardian. They have since removed that incorrect piece of information. The point that wildlife is returning to the canals is, however, still valid. See: ‘Nature Is Taking Back Venice’

The Bright Way

March 18th, 2020

I recently read The Bright Way: Five Steps to Freeing the Creative Within by Diana Rowan. Diana’s beautiful book will be an invaluable guide and inspiration for anyone who has felt exiled from their creative self. There is depth and wisdom here; the author’s five steps offer a powerful yet accessible and practical process that will help even the most creatively blocked of us, share our gifts joyfully and confidently with the world. ‘The Bright Way’ shines; in its pages, creativity becomes a magical, transformative and healing practice that enriches both self and community. Well worth reading! It is a book that will hold a lot of resonance for those on the Bardic path but also for all those interested in leading a creative life.

You can find out more information here and here, and I also include a short video below of Diana talking about why she wrote her book.

The Wheel of the Year & the Wheel of Life

March 3rd, 2020

Each of the eight seasonal festivals that the Druids observe relates to a phase in human development: Imbolc: birth and infancy; Spring Equinox: childhood; Beltane: adolescence; Summer Solstice: early adulthood; Lughnasadh: mature adulthood and parenting; Autumn Equinox: ‘Golden Years’; Samhain: old age and death; the Winter Solstice: conception. A viewer of this tea session commented: “the period of time between Samhain and the Winter Solstice you suggested was the time between death and conception (symbolically). This is the time Buddhists say we spend in Bardo between incarnations.”

In this tea we explore these ideas of the connection between the Wheel of the Year and the Wheel of Life, and journey with a meditation from the book ‘The Children’s Forest’. More on the book here.

How Druidry Can Help Us in the Winter

February 24th, 2020

In this tea session I talk about the three Druid winter festivals and how they can help us deepen our experience of Winter. Rather than just sensing experiences and events as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, we can develop a more nuanced and deeper experience of life.

I read from the beautiful new book by Katherine May Wintering.