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" The songs of our ancestors

are also the songs of our children "

The Druid Way

Spiritual Teachings: Tea with A Druid 90

September 9th, 2019

This week we continue our exploration of the triad “Three sources of comfort: knowledge of the Divine Origin of all Creation, inspiration in the teachings of mystics and sages, support in the fellowship of like-minded souls.” Last week we looked at the support community can offer us, today we’ll look at how teachings can guide and comfort us in these turbulent times.

Being inspired and uplifted by spiritual teachings may be incorrectly interpreted by some as taking a position of passivity: the teaching or teacher is ‘top dog’ and the taught is ‘underdog’ in Gestalt terms; or the teacher is the parent, the taught the child. While that may be the case in certain contexts, spiritual teachings – I believe – are designed to educate in the true sense of term, which derives from ‘e’ meaning ‘out’ and ‘ducere’ meaning to draw or lead. Education involves drawing out understanding, exitement, illumination from within us – so it is empowering not disempowering. The best teaching results in the student learning for themselves – in the depths of their experience rather than being simply told what to think. It becomes a conversation – that great art beloved of the American Transcendentalists Emerson and Thoreau. (Do look at this contemporary project that works with this: The Innermost House).

What are the vehicles for these conversations, these teachings? Here’s one list: texts, people, places. And you could say there are the obvious messages they can give us – the understanding texs can offer, the warmth people can give us, the beauty places offer, but their gifts can be subtle too.

To access the subtle levels of meaning in texts we can use a process similar to  ‘Lectio Divina’: taking small sections of text, entering into the scene if described, entering meditation to let its meaning sink deeper, even using the words as mantra.

To access the subtle levels of learning that is possible when we are with one or more people we can share silence, and we can share our thoughts and feelings as deeply as we can. We can revive the art of conversation.

To access the subtle levels of teaching available in certain places – usually sacred places – we can think of the concept of ‘terma teachings’ – the magic mysteriously embedded in the land. In our meditation we travel to a sacred island to experience this for ourselves.

                 Learn more about the story of this picture from innermosthousefoundation.org


Community as Ground & Anchor: Tea with a Druid 89

September 2nd, 2019

In this session we explore the third principle in the triad: “Three sources of comfort: knowledge of the Divine Origin of all Creation, inspiration in the teachings of mystics and sages, support in the fellowship of like-minded souls.”

I mention Damh the Bard’s song ‘Time Machine’, which you can hear here:

Seated in the Grove: a photo taken a few years ago in a Yew Grove in Leicester, at the One Tree Gathering

The One Tree Gathering 2016

Three Sources of Stability in an Unstable World: Tea with a Druid 88

August 26th, 2019

Current world events – the fires in South America and the Arctic, the ecological and political situation in many parts of the world – evoke in us feelings of hopelessness, wounding, and despair. They make us feel like victims – or like children overwhelmed in a world of adults acting destructively and out of control.

In feeling this way today, I remembered a quotation we use in the Order’s training  (I can’t find the exact quote because we have so much training material, but if it’s familiar to you, do please remind me.) It says something like: “When you feel lost, take a child by the hand, and you will no longer feel so lost.”

This is the way I assuage those difficult feelings – not by denying them, but by allowing them into my awareness and then reaching out to others from a place rooted in what I believe is good and true – rooted, essentially, in my sense of soul and of the values it is guided by. You know when someone is ill or in a crisis and you succeed in ‘rising to the occasion’? You are  no longer thinking about yourself, but about others, acting like those in the caring professions who do this every working day of their lives.

So this is the strategy I’m adopting: I’m accepting my feelings of despair and vulnerability and powerlessness, but then I’m trying to be a good, caring person who tries to make decisions and live in a world that is constantly challenging.

Well this is all very well – and rather trite you might say – but how do I act the adult, how do I act mature, anchored, responsible, amidst all this turbulence? I think there are many things we can do, but for today let’s focus on just a few ideas, about how we can ‘resource ourselves’ to use that awful phrase! I’ve put them into a triad:

Three sources of comfort: knowledge of the Divine Origin of all Creation, inspiration in the teachings of mystics and sages, support in the fellowship of like-minded souls.

This is what helps me keep going – what helps me offer my hand as we all walk through the difficulties of this world: my belief in and experience of the Divine helps to anchor me; the teachings of mystics help to inspire me and give me hope; being with like-minded souls, fellow seekers on the Path nourishes me with a sense of community. And from there I can act in whatever way I can to help make the world a better place. If I can shift my centre of gravity from a sense of childlike helplessness to a sense of adult responsibility I think I can be of more use.

Below is a photograph from our recent One Tree Gathering – an annual event where members of the Druid and Hindu community come together. At the end of each weekend a participant offers to accept the statue of Ganesha to keep safe until the next meeting.

One Tree Gathering Leicester 2019

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

Twitter @sotalliston
Instagram @thestrangersguide
Facebook Talliston House & Gardens

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