Skip to Navigation Youtube Instagram

" A good traveller has no fixed plans,

and is not intent on arriving "

Lao Tzu

Pagans And Pilgrims: Britain’s Holiest Places

February 22nd, 2013


A great new series is coming up on the Beeb. More about it later, meanwhile here is the BBC’s announcement:

Presenter and Welsh poet Ifor ap Glyn explores the wealth of Britain’s extraordinary holy places on a pilgrimage that spans almost 2,000 years of history.

Travelling across the breadth of the UK, Ifor will uncover the stories and rich history behind many of our most famous sites, explaining the myths and legends of some of Britain’s most sacred places.

Over six half-hour episodes, Ifor will visit crumbling ruins, tranquil healing pools, sacred caves, island refuges, towering mountain hideaways and ancient shrines to find out what these historical sites tell us about who we are today. From the divine to the unexpected, the series uncovers Britain’s extraordinary variety of inspirational, surprising and half-forgotten holy places, and brings to life our spiritual history.

In the first episode, Ifor explores why ruins are among the best-preserved and most-loved holy sites in Britain. He’ll take in the famous ruins of St Andrews Cathedral, the mystical atmosphere of Wales’ best-preserved Roman site, the battered remains of Coventry’s iconic cathedral and the Gothic majesty of North Yorkshire’s Whitby Abbey – the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Along the way, he’ll ask why we’re drawn to holy ruins long after their religious use is over. Is it just nostalgia or something much deeper that fuels our obsession and enduring fascination with the decaying grandeur of a ruin?

6 episodes starting  Thursday 7 March  8.30-9.00pm  BBC FOUR

Police Raid Pub Looking for Nuns

February 22nd, 2013

800px-NO_VAT_Facciamo_Breccia_Roma_9_feb_2008_0236From the BBC website:

An Irish publican has been prosecuted after police found dozens of “nuns” drinking illegally, several hours past closing time on his premises.

Christy Walsh, who runs the bar in Listowel, County Kerry, has been fined a total of 700 euros (£605) after his pub was raided twice in one night.

Read more

Thought for the Day

February 21st, 2013

120px-Anemone_blanda_BWFrom a great blog post of Stephen Jenkinson:

The real dilemma with time is the vague theology, the vague notion of Something Bigger Somewhere Else, that this culture clings to. Somewhere along the line each of us ‘learns’ that the past is gone, the best of it maybe perched at the right hand of the Divine. And that leaves the future as everything that hasn’t happened yet, and the present all there is. It is a savage, graceless thing that the elders among us are now obliged to see their lives as mostly ‘gone’, and that the rest of us are obliged to keep jogging, keep eating power bars and topping up our RSP’s so as not to be as ‘gone’ as our parents or grandparents or dead spouses are. This is the poverty that my culture has come to now: we don’t have to die to be gone anymore. We, with all the perishables in the grocery store, have a ‘best before’ date too. We have a peak of freshness. Aging gets us gone, well before most of us thought it would, and almost no one – certainly no one undespairing – wants to get there. I myself refuse all of this.
Stephen Jenkinson

See rest of post here

Does God Wear a Kilt?

February 20th, 2013

de3180_a1d41da346823fa66264c890f712e7f3.jpg_srz_325_175_75_22_0.50_1.20_0Some years ago I met Tim Firth – who used to be a Catholic theologian: one of the Vicars General of Cardinal Basil Hume, the Archbishop of Westminster.

In the delicious way a life dedicated to Druidry creates extraordinary opportunities,  my meeting with Tim was organized because he wanted to create a ceremony with some Druid input beneath a majestic oak that graces his garden in Sussex.

​When we met I pounced on him with all those questions I’d stored up about what I found so strange about Christianity and in particular Catholicism. Instead of being given stock answers I discovered that Tim was as open and as questioning as I was. He had stopped being a priest, had married and was now involved with Interfaith work. He belongs to a number of inclusive spiritual networks such as Greenspirit and the Wrekin Forum and is a co-founder of Renewal Arts, an international fellowship which believes that the arts are catalysts for spiritual change.

Over the years we’ve annually held open, inclusive ceremonies at his oak, letting go of labels that try to indicate our beliefs, finding that meeting around a beautiful old tree beside a stream provides all the definition we need.

And now Tim’s book is available: it’s called God’s Favourite Colour is Tartan, and you can read about it on his website here.

The Narrow Logic of Numbers

February 19th, 2013

Indian_pre-school_girl_in_pink_shirt_plays_with_abacusHere is another brilliant documentary by Adam Curtis, second in the series I posted on the other day. This film focuses on the narrow logic of numbers and how politicians have tried to use numbers in the service of their ideals with such hopeless results.
What is so interesting is the way he demonstrates how certain beliefs and ideas about what the human being is have been used by politicians and economists to startling effect in the very tangible worlds of health care, social mobility, and wealth distribution.

It shows us how vital the search for the understanding of the human being is –  how the study of philosophy, psychology and spirituality are of fundamental importance. The film is full of extraordinary information: about the Impossibility Theorem, hospitals taking the wheels off trolleys to classify them as beds to hit their targets, and of the similarity in responses between economists and psychopaths.

A Cyclical Universe?

February 19th, 2013

650px-CMS_Higgs-eventSee this BBC article which suggests an idea which will make a lot of sense to Druids and Pagans:

‘the possibility of a cyclical universe, in which every so often all of space is renewed.’

Scientists say they may be able to determine the eventual fate of the cosmos as they probe the properties of the Higgs boson.

A concept known as vacuum instability could result, billions of years from now, in a new universe opening up in the present one and replacing it…

Read more here

F**K You Buddy

February 16th, 2013

Ok. Are you up for some really thought-provoking ideas that will exercise those grey cells?! There is a documentary maker called Adam Curtis who over his career has made some of the most interesting films I have ever seen. He specialises in unearthing obscure or forgotten figures who have exerted a powerful influence on the way we live today. His series Century of the Self, for example, explained (amongst many other things) the impact Freud’s nephew has had on our world – and it makes for a fascinating story. You can watch all four episodes on his blog site here.

Recently I watched F**k you Buddy – the first in his series The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom. You can find all the episodes on Youtube. In this first one, he makes links between the Cold War, the mathematician featured in ‘A Beautiful Mind’, the psychiatrist R.D.Laing’s work, and how the ideal of freedom has become distorted in our times. You don’t have to agree with his assertions, but by the gods your mental faculties get a good work-out!

And for me it affirms that adage that I used to see printed on a card at the local garage every time I took the car in for a service: ‘If you think you know what’s going on, you really don’t understand!’  (It had a better punch line but I can’t remember it. If you know it please tell me! An internet search brings up the same idea expressed more graphically by Robert Anton Wilson: ‘If you think you know what the hell is going on, you’re probably full of shit.’

In Honour of the Unknown Craftsman

February 15th, 2013

Kim, who puts on the UK Tarot Conference every year, asked me to write a little about how I first encountered the Tarot. As I wrote, I remembered the wooden chest that sits in the library downstairs.

I think I have tended to minimize the importance of ‘objects’, of ‘things’, in our lives – favouring instead ideas and the intangible. Visiting Grayson Perry’s extraordinary exhibition at the British Museum last year- The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman – helped me to open to a deeper appreciation of ‘things’, and when we participated in the ‘Rite of Liberation’ for camps at Imbolc we acknowledged and honoured the role of the objects that make camp special: the amazing yurts, the incredible stoves.

And so, in this spirit of acknowledging the gift of objects and the ‘Unknown Craftsman’, I would like to honour the unknown artists who carved this chest about 40 years ago in Port au Prince, Haiti. To explain a little about it, here is the text I sent Kim:

My first meeting with the Tarot was in a flat in Notting Hill Gate over forty years ago. It was the hippy era, and a dozen or so of us were gathered in the usual ‘sacred circle’ that was formed in those days, passing the peace pipe, and generally basking in the innocence of those times.

Then one of the company started talking about the Tarot, and as he did so, he scattered a deck across the floor and started picking out cards at random, talking about their meaning and sometimes relating them to a person in the circle. I was amazed and bought a Rider Waite deck, which I used on and off for the next thirty years or so.

As I studied the Western Mystery Tradition, the Tarot, like the Qabalah, was always there as a useful reference point, but I found I consulted it only occasionally, even though when living in Haiti, we had a big chest made, carved with the image of the Fool dancing above an equal-armed circled cross.

The chest is here in Lewes now, and when Stephanie and I were asked to create The DruidCraft Tarot, I looked at it and smiled, because on each end of the chest is carved another figure: a Druid at one end, a Druidess at the other. The idea that Druidry and the Tarot could in any way be connected had at first seemed absurd – until we realized that Druidry and Wicca are of course integral parts of the Western Mystery Tradition, and that the Tarot offers the ideal medium for illuminating both of these ways.

Haitian chest

How Grief can be a Starting Point – the Work of Stephen Jenkinson

February 12th, 2013

After seeing the film Griefwalker on Saturday and hearing Stephen Jenkinson talk, I found his ideas so provocative, so profound and transformative, I went to his Sunday all-day session. It wasn’t a workshop, it wasn’t therapy, it wasn’t about developing the Self, or the spiritual quest. But what he said was so relevant to Druidry, the work of being in the world (if I can be that vague) that I found it quite mind-blowing. Because he talks about Grief it can seem a gloomy starting point, but in fact he talks about it in a way that makes it seem THE starting point! I guess the first idea in this other clip gives an insight into how this could be:

A Relentlessly Demanding Ally

February 9th, 2013

Today saw an extraordinary film ‘Griefwalker’. Trailer below. Very moving. Here is a quote from Stephen Jenkinson who introduced the film and discussed it afterwards. He has the most extraordinary way with words:

If you go far enough down into your personal ancestry and into the old stories of the world you’ll find three thrones of mystery, three places where awe always did and still gathers, even in our post Enlightenment, post Christian, post Holy, Information Idol time. Women, and all things feminine, where life comes into Life, have always been there. The dead have always been there, whispering a story of our lives that we no longer know. And the makers of things have the other throne of mystery, the ones to whom the Holy has always come as a co-conspirator, a relentlessly demanding ally. Stephen Jenkinson