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" A good traveller has no fixed plans,

and is not intent on arriving "

Lao Tzu

How Druidry Helped Create a Successful Art School in Phoenix, Arizona

August 18th, 2018

On Monday, over on the podcast ‘Druidcast’ you can hear an interview with the dynamic Matt Baker – a man who created a now-thriving Arts School in the USA from scratch – with the help of friends and a bit of magic. Matt has written the following article to give the background to much of what he outlines in our interview.

Metro Magic and the Subtle Laws of Manifestation: The Story of How Druidry Helped Create a Successful Art School in Phoenix, Arizona
by Matthew Thomas Baker – Druid and Arts Educator

Twenty years ago I was just entering the Druid grade of the OBOD course of studies. I had already spent five years working through the Bardic and Ovate grades, and in those years I had gotten a Masters degree in creative writing and then during the Ovate grade, I completed another Masters in counseling and psychology with studies in Psychosynthesis, Jungian and Depth psychology,  Shamanic Counseling and Adolescent development. I intended to use poetry and counseling as a means to help adolescents grow into healthy and authentic young adults. Then, as I entered the Druid grade I was suddenly given an opportunity to actually start my own art school. I never intended to do so, but I had, through the work with OBOD, offered myself up as a servant to the creative inner world powers of our inspired Druidic tradition. If the tradition and its ancestors had a plan for me then I would follow it. And that is how Metro Arts was born. (www.metro-arts.org)

It is now twenty years later and the AWEN is still flowing. Building a school was a long and arduous journey filled with many trials that required living on the edge, much as any entrepreneurial enterprise does. Like many organizations, the growing pains of development can be as intense as those that an individual being can go through. But all through the long process, the connection to the inner world stayed with me and with the school. As the journey progressed, a series of extraordinary synchronistic events unfolded, events that forced us to live in the flow and continually ask for the next miracle to unfold and then wait to see if it would. These events became known as Metro Magic. Asking the Inner World to assist is, as it turns out, one of the key tenets of effectively manifesting magical outcomes for the higher good.

The magical events flowed from the very start… Read more

How to be a ‘Beautiful Mess’: Tea with a Druid 36

August 13th, 2018

We all know that experiencing vulnerability in another person often makes them more likeable – more attractive even. To illustrate this, in the video I show a cartoon from John Cleese and Robin Skynner’s book ‘Families and How to Survive Them’ which shows two people gazing romantically at each other, both having the same thought: “What a divinely damaged person.”
So we know it’s ok to show our vulnerability, and yet we often hold back from showing our weaker, apparently flawed or damaged self. A recent study, conducted by psychologists from the University of Mannheim, now confirms this is a common phenomenon. The strange mismatch in the way we take a more negative view of our own vulnerability than we do of other people’s is called by the researchers  ‘the beautiful mess effect’.
The British Psychological Society reporting on this study, notes the benefits of expressing vulnerability: self-disclosure can build trust, seeking help can boost learning, admitting mistakes can foster forgiveness, and confessing one’s romantic feelings can lead to new relationships. And the Mannheim researchers conclude: “Even when examples of showing vulnerability might sometimes feel more like weakness from the inside, our findings indicate that, to others, these acts might look more like courage from the outside. Given the discussed positive consequences of showing vulnerability for relationship quality, health, or job performance, it might, indeed, be beneficial to try to overcome one’s fears and to choose to see the beauty in the mess of vulnerable situations.”

However much we might believe this, however much we might know it’s ok to be ‘divinely damaged’ or a ‘beautiful mess’, we also know that if someone appears too needy or broken this is usually not attractive at all. How do we find the right measure here? This understanding is now perhaps so much a part of our culture that social media has fostered a new term to describe a lack of measure: ‘over-sharing’. We don’t want to be ‘strategically vulnerable’, showing our weaknesses or woundedness when we think this will make a good impression. But we don’t want to do the reverse either – pretending to be strong or invulnerable when we’re not feeling that way. I think the only way to approach this is to ‘thine own self be true’ – to be as authentic and sincere as possible, in the most natural and effortless way. Sometimes you might not be as open as you could have been, sometimes you might show more vulnerability than was perhaps wise, but you were being true to yourself.

There’s a way in which a spiritual perspective can also help. If my core identification is with my Soul, my Spiritual Self, then I will not be fully identified with my wounded self (which can so easily become my ‘victim’). I can still accept this wounded or needy part of my self, and not be in denial of it, or attempt to hide it, but my primary identification will be with a radiant, loving self. There’s a great quote from Paracelsus that speaks to this: ‘In every person there is a heaven, whole and unbroken.’ So if I am in touch with this aspect of my being, I will be able to set the various aspects of myself in perspective, and I will be able to show both my wholeness and my brokenness, my vulnerability and my invulnerability as a spark of the Divine.

 

 

A Deeper Journey

August 13th, 2018

Wild Women Retreats are holding another fantastic event for women this October!

A Deeper Journey – A day of transformation

Saturday 27th October 2018, 10am til 4pm
Carymoor Environmental Centre, Castle Cary, Somerset.
£75 ticket including all refreshments and lunch.
This event is for women who have already attended a Wild Women event, or who have experience of deeper ritual.
………………………………………………………….

Calling to all those women who want to travel a little deeper into their own wildness. As Samhain approaches and the dark clouds gather, we prepare to take a journey with Inanna, one of the most potent and powerful goddesses of Sumeria. She is the goddess of Venus, the morning and evening star. Independent, powerful, sensual,  Inanna resides where the earth meets the sky. She will be our guide as we travel through the seasons of life, death and rebirth.

We will be held safely but we will go deep, our feet will pound the earth. We will have the chance to shed the skin that no longer serves us and together we will search for our inner light that shines in the dark.

A previous participants experience of a Wild Women’s Day event, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart all you amazing, magical women who organized yesterday’s event and led us on that journey. I went on a surprising spiritual journey of self-revelation which has made me see certain major aspects of my life in a completely new light. What’s more, I have been able to lay down the burden of fear that has been crippling me for too long. And all this in the company of strong, beautiful and compassionate sisters!”  Wendy Callan

Email: info@wildwomenretreats.co.uk to reserve your place and check out the website.

Celebrating Life

August 11th, 2018

OBOD member Ingrid Bertrand is a psychologist, life coach, celebrant and gifted photographer. Ingrid came to OBOD at a time when she was battling cancer, and through her re-connection to nature found a profound healing. I am delighted that Ingrid now has a YouTube Channel where she speaks about her experiences, sharing her wisdom and insights. I include one of her lovely videos here, which has optional subtitles (just click on the subtitle button in the lower right had corner). Ingrid’s Channel can be found here and her website here. Ingrid can also be found on Instagram -@ingridjbertrand – where she shares many of her stunningly beautiful images.

Donald Trump’s Mental Health – Should we be Concerned?

August 2nd, 2018

“Trump is crazy!” is a personal opinion shared by most of us probably. But is he literally, actually, medically, unhinged?
Something unprecedented has occurred with this Presidency: mental health professionals have been shouting from the roof-tops ever since Trump was elected that they believe he suffers from serious psychiatric disorders and that he should not be in charge of anything – let alone an entire country and its nuclear arsenal.
The unprecedented:
1. Groups of mental health professionals have published open letters and organised petitions alerting the public to their concerns about Trump’s mental health. [See here, for example].
2. An association of mental health professionals and other concerned citizens, called ‘A Duty to Warn’, are advocating Trump’s removal under the 25th Amendment on the grounds that he is psychologically unfit.
3. Numerous psychologists and psychiatrists have explained their concerns in interviews, some of which I will post below.
4. A least three books on the subject have been published: A Clear and Present Danger: Narcissism in the Era of Donald Trump, Rocket Man: Nuclear Madness and the Mind of Donald Trump, and New York Times best-seller The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. Find out about them here.
5. 14 separate conferences across the States were held in October last year to discuss the psychological fitness of Donald Trump to be president. As one speaker at one of these conferences, psychoanalyst Dr. Frank Malone, writes: “It is unprecedented for so many mental health professionals to have unified over a political problem in the form of this multi-conference event. In this case, however, it is also an emergency public health matter. As of this writing, Dr. Lee is actively meeting with members from both sides of the U.S. House and Senate on how to proceed with safeguarding the public from the danger of President Donald Trump.” [National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis Winter-Spring Newsletter 2018].

OK – So it’s not just us who are worried. The shrinks are worried too. Their diagnoses include malignant narcissism, paranoia, and sociopathy. Is this all an over-reaction? Isn’t it a bit late – Mueller is closing in and surely the house of cards will soon come tumbling down?
Well, if you accept the professional opinions of dozens of psychiatrists, and the arguments they provide for their diagnoses is convincing, then as things get worse for him, his behaviour may become more unpredictable – more insane. He’s not going to give in quietly, or so some seem to think.
Trump’s condition and behaviour doesn’t concern just himself and his family. The national conference convened last year looked at his mental state, but it also looked at the effect this was having on mental health professionals themselves, and on their clients.
If we believed the Head of our local school was seriously deranged, we would try to do something about it, for the sake of the children. If it’s seriously possible that Trump is deranged, he needs professional help urgently. Let’s be compassionate: towards the man suffering from the ill-health, and towards those who are suffering, or are likely to suffer, as a result of his unwellness. Time for 75 seconds of insight into Trump’s vulnerabilties:

And here is 13 minutes of an up-to-date assessment:

Want more detail? Here a whole bunch of psychiatrists and psychologists give their diagnoses over 30 minutes:

Mystic Fusion or Magical Differentiation? Tea with a Druid 34

July 30th, 2018

                                   Juliet Grayson

Sex and relationship therapist Juliet Grayson, in her book Landscapes of the Heart, talks about the way we all experience two competing drives: one for bonded intimacy, the other for autonomy. When we get the balance right, we can feel close and connected to our partner yet at the same time autonomous individuals in our own right.
There’s a very simple group activity I often use at the beginning of a workshop. We stand in a circle and tune in to our uniqueness, our individuality, as we stand upright, embodied in the world. Eyes closed, we then reach out to either side of us to hold hands with the person to the right and left of us. It feels different. We are still unique individuals, and yet we also experience a sense of the group – that we are ‘One Tribe’, ‘One People’. Language neatly reinforces this feeling: ‘I am One’ can mean that I am feeling unique and whole, but it can also mean that I feel ‘at one’ with something more than myself. And with this exercise I can become aware of the fact that both meanings can apply at the same time. I can sense a ‘Oneness’ that includes both a sense of my wholeness and uniqueness AND a sense of Oneness, ultimately, with all beings, all of life.
This simple exercise grew out of experiencing these two feelings whenever I stood in a ritual circle and held hands, and I can see now how one level of explanation for these two feelings could be that in this instance we are expressing our drives towards both autonomy and ‘bonded connection’, as Juliet calls it.
I’ve interviewed Juliet about her work and I’ll put the interview up on this site soon, but in this Tea Session we explore what it means to be a creature who experiences these two drives. When they are operating harmoniously, we are self-sufficient AND emotionally connected to others. When we are having problems with them, we can experience debilitating fears of being abandoned or smothered.
Now here’s an interesting thought: perhaps the mystic tendency within us, the Mystic sub-personality if you will, is responding to the drive towards fusion with another. After all, what is the mystic’s aim if not to fuse, to be lost in the embrace of the Beloved, to become one with the Great Mother/Father? What then of the magician within, the Magician sub-personality? She or he wants not to return to the Source, but to go out into the world of Creation, of form, to create and co-create – to be of use and influence in the world. Does this make sense to you? If this triggers any thoughts, I’d love to hear from you!

The Badger & the Hare: Tea with a Druid 33

July 25th, 2018

Hi folks! This Monday I asked Penny if she would take a tea session on OBOD FB live, and here’s the result – an encounter with two of the most mythic animals of these islands: the badger and the hare.

Hello Brazil!

July 25th, 2018

Despite all its down-sides, I love the internet. It puts us in touch with great people all over the world. Out of the blue I was contacted the other day by a young guy who is a teacher in Brazil. He has a Youtube channel with over 54,000 subscribers and he wanted to celebrate achieving that number by having me send a message, along the lines of ‘Tea with  Druid’, to his subscribers. He then ‘topped and tailed’ it with a message, and created Portuguese captions. The result is now I’m in touch with loads of people from Brazil. What a warm feeling! Olá novos amigos no Brasil!

Here’s the video Yuri put together. In it I talk about the search for enlightenment vs. the search for wisdom. Do you like the ‘Magician’s Study’ lamp Stephanie bought for the desk? And if you speak Portuguese, have a look at Yuri’s channel and website. It’s good stuff!