Two events coming up I think you’d like if you are nearby! The first is an Imbolc camp at Emerson College in East Sussex, where I’ll be giving a workshop on the Sunday morning, the second is an evening concert in Chichester which looks fantastic. For the Imbolc camp – Into the Wild Winter Warmer see their website here, and their Facebook page here.
I’m delighted to be reading an excerpt from The Druid Way in a concert with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra featuring the world premiere of The Long Man of Wilmington cantata by Nathan James with the Harlequin Chamber Choir and Corra Sound, and a performance of Wyndore by Avril Coleridge-Taylor and Goblin Market, a setting of Christina Rosetti’s poem by Ruth Gipps. It sounds a fantastic line-up and you can hear a musical excerpt and Nathan talking about the evening and his cantata on the BBC here. 7.45pm at Boxgrove Priory, Chichester. Tickets here
In a short (60 pages) punchy book that has no padding at all (thank the Goddess!) Penny digs deep into the question: what happens when we do a magical working to stop a downpour and then it instantly stops? It happened to her and a group of people after a talk she gave, and most of us in this field have stories of how the weather seemed to respond to our intentions, and yet our skeptical scientific minds just can’t accept that the magic actually worked – it was a coincidence, surely? From this starting point, the book takes off – asking ‘what really went on?’ and ‘how can we make this happen again?’ from different angles until by the end of the book you are encouraged to Know, to Will, to Dare, and be Silent! This book comes at a very apposite time, when rain is so very often desperately needed, and we need to learn not only how to stop it but also how to start it!
An Amazon reviewer writes: This compact little book has more useful information about magic than many weighty tomes. Written in Billington’s characteristically accessible style, it presents a comprehensive theory of magic and magical practice in the context of a single excellent, real-world example – an occasion on which the author led a group of students in a spontaneous ceremony that actually stopped the rain. You’ll have to read it to find out how this happened! From this one example, Billington sketches out the world-views and metaphysical assumptions that underly our understanding of magic, and shows the way to an ethical and effective way to practice that works in the physical world because it’s rooted in a thorough and sophisticated theoretical basis. Highly recommended!
Discussing urban druidry and the power of mindful grief, in a land that is suffering. Ben Hopkinson, an urban Druid from Sydney Australia and member of OBOD, shares with us his thoughts on the current crisis in Australia and invites us to meditate together to find the love and peace from which healing and restoration flows. Participate live in ‘Tea with a Druid’ every Monday night 8pm UK time here.
How is it that when things look bad – really bad – they just seem to get a whole lot worse? We thought the Amazon fires were bad, but now Australia is ablaze. Our hearts go out to all – humans, animals, plants, land and air – that are suffering. May the rain come. May the fires die down and out. May Australia’s Prime Minister stand up and say:
“In the light of the devastation caused by the recent fires in our country we have decided to halt our plans for massive coal extraction. We know jobs are important, but it’s more important for us to breathe and stay alive. I apologize to all those who might lose their jobs or their investments, but saving our people and our land is more important. Australia will now champion the environment on the world stage. We will protect Planet Earth and Humanity – whatever it costs.” Scott Morrison – we hope. (To make this crystal clear: this is a wish, a hope, an urging, and sadly ironic too. As far as I can tell it seems unlikely he would ever make such a comment even if his own house was on fire.)
Many of you will know of Druid author Julie Brett. She has been a guest presenter on Tea with a Druid and wrote the wonderful book ‘Australian Druidry’. Julie has asked if we could share the following ritual for all those who might like to give some magical help regarding the devastating fires in Australia at present. Many Thanks! This is reposted from Julie’s Website.
The following ritual has been written for those wanting to acknowledge the bushfires burning in Australia, and to ask for quenching rain to extinguish them and bring healing to the land.
If you are in Australia, do adjust this to suit your needs. Acknowledging your local country or assigning the elements to make more sense to your local weather patterns would be very suitable.
In the elemental calling as I do it, I use elements which suit much of the East Coast of Australia. This may work for you too:
East/Water – for the humid winds from the ocean South/Air – for the great southerly change West/Earth – for the bulk of the continent North/Fire – fire is all around, but I face the sun to represent the fires and heat.
If you are in another part of Australia, and want to call rain to where you are, consider the following for your associations:
– Where is the ocean? Where do humid winds come from? Place Water there. – Where do the storm winds come from? The cold winds? The winds that make humidity turn into rain? Place Air there. – Where is the bulk of the land? What direction is the dryness that needs quenching? Place Earth there. – Are the fires in a particular direction from you? Place fire there, or, as the fires are all around, you could just place fire in the position which is left after considering the other three. Place fire where it feels right.
If you are not in Australia. Place the elements as you usually work with them. This will be fine as there are so many variables within Australia.
Prepare space and ground yourself.
Alar in the center should have space enough to bring in items placed at the quarters. These should include large-ish stone (a palm sized rock would be perfect) in your Earth direction, a cup full of water in the Water direction, a feather or fan in the Air direction, an image or drawing of fire, the sun or a red spiral (please don’t use a candle to represent fire today) in the Fire direction.
Enter the space and form a circle if in a group. Take a moment of quiet reflection and then touch the earth, thinking of the history of the land of Australia and connecting with its energy.
Acknowledgement of country: I/We acknowledge the traditional custodians of Australia -the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have cared for these lands for millennia. I/We recognise that this land was never ceded and was brutally taken by force and is often mismanaged for the good of the Earth. We express gratitude for the survival and strength of the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people; that despite their struggles their culture continues and their knowledge is passed on. We honour their connection to the Earth and their knowledge of fire, water and the winds.
Stand and take three breaths, once with the Earth beneath you, once with the Sky above you, once with the Seas around you.
Prayer for Peace: Deep, within the still center of my being, may I find peace Silently, within the quiet of the grove, may I share peace Gently, within the greater circle of human kind, may I radiate peace.
Call for peace (If in Australia, face each direction from you, imagining the places there and asking for peace, imagining the fires dying down and the gentle rains coming, the people hugging and laughing and resting. If overseas, imagine this happening in the different directional parts of Australia)
May there be peace in the East May there be peace in the North May there be peace in the West May there be peace in the South May there be peace throughout the whole world.
Cast the circle.
If you would like to cleanse and consecrate the space, consider doing this with gum leaves dipped in water, brushing the energy clear, rather than using incense.
Bringing in the elements: Beginning in the east and moving sunwise, welcome the elements, holding up the elemental item and asking for its blessing. (These may be out of order for you. Make them sunwise for your elemental direction choices).
Water – (Holding up the cup of water) We welcome the element of water, the great waves of the oceans. We ask that you bring humid air and moisture to the land, taking water into the skies so that it might fall again on the earth and quench the parched land, putting out the fires.
Turn and bring the cup to the altar.
Fire – (Look at the image) We acknowledge fire and sincerely ask for balance. May the fires of the bush die down and be extinguished. May the fires that cannot be put out burn safely and regeneratively. May the fires be instead lit within us (hold the image to you), to face the threats, to stand up to our fears, to take on the challenge with determination and warrior spirit.
Turn and bring the image to the altar.
Earth – (Holding the stone) We welcome the element of Earth. The great land that suffers and burns yet gives us so much. We thank the Earth for her blessings and ask that the rain soaks in deeply and gently, quenching the soil and reaching the thirsty roots of the plants. May the dry land and burned forest meet the rain and be healed.
Turn and bring the stone to the altar.
Air – (hold the feather. You might like to move it to make wind). We welcome the element of air, asking the winds to blow cool, cold and gentle, turning humidity into rain. Bring the clouds, bring the quenching rain and winds of change. Blow the rain where it is needed to put out the fires and save lives and homes. Help us to think clearly in these times of trouble and see a way through to the healing of the land.
Turn and bring the feather to the altar.
Sit facing the center and reiterate what you brought to the center in intuitive action. Use the feather as though cleansing the other elements. Sprinkle some water over the stone. Place a hand over the fire image and imagine it dying down but being relit in your heart. Whisper spontaneous blessings and imagine rains coming to the land.
Meditation: Take some time with this. You may like to stand and feel it with gestures and movement using music to help you visualise, or you might prefer to do it as a silent inner meditation. Imagine the whole continent, dry and hot in the center, with the oceans surrounding it, the threads of rivers through the center, many dry. See the warmer air to the north and the cooler air to the south. See the waters of the oceans evaporating and moving over the land. See the cool winds turning the humidity into rain. See the rain falling. See the fires hissing and being put out, glowing red turning to ashen black. See the earth soaking up the water gently. See the rain gently coming down for many days and weeks and months. Gentle nourishing rain that sprouts new green growth from the black ashes and parched soil. See the air cleared of smoke and full of mist and moisture. See the fires declared contained and extinguished. See homes rebuilt, see change for the better being created and people rejoicing for the healing of the earth.
Rest if you have been dancing.
Take the cup of water from the altar and take a drink or sprinkle some on your head. Pour a few drops on the stone. And say “blessings of the healing rains. Water is sacred.”
Chant Awen three times, sending it out to the world as a blessing.
Druid’s Prayer: Grant, oh 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 spirit and all goodness.
Every year, for the past twenty-five years, Stephanie and I have undertaken an exercise which we have found to be incredibly helpful in creating the lives we want to lead.
It began as an informal review on New Year’s Eve soon after we started living together. We looked back on the year that had passed, and then we talked about how we wanted our lives to unfold in the year that was about to begin.
Each year we developed this exercise, which many people undoubtedly undertake informally. Such an activity feels very natural, and of course the idea of the New Year’s resolution arises automatically out of this process of looking back on the year that has been, and then forward to the year to come.
But as we developed the exercise, we started to experience the fact that once we built on, intensified and elaborated, the two fundamental activities the exercise engages – of reviewing and envisioning – it became an experience that was truly magical, truly creative. It became, in essence, a means for us to create our future.
Let’s dive in and explore this in detail, so that you can make use of it yourself, or adapt it in ways that feel right for you.
‘Visible and invisible, two worlds meet in man.’ So said the German poet Novalis. As humans we stand at a threshold – between the visible, remembered world of the past, and the invisible, unformed world of the future. The past we cannot change, the future is filled with possibility. Like Janus, the Roman god of transitions, thresholds and beginnings, we have the ability at any moment to look both ways before stepping forward into the next phase of our lives.
By doing this, we are not trying to control our future, which we cannot do since many unforeseen events will occur to surprise us. But we are trying to become more aware of the gift of free-will, of our ability to choose which direction to take, which choices to make in life, and as a consequence to take a conscious intentional role in the creation of our life, rather than acting as passive consumers of life, or worse – simply as victims of the flow of events.