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The Druid Way

Do Stories Ever End? – Charlottesville and the Lessons of History

August 17th, 2017

I live in a peaceful historic town in rolling downland in southern England – a far cry from the misery of Mosul or Freetown, or now Charlottesville in the USA. But a news item, just reported today, of Trump’s personal lawyer forwarding an email listing the similarities between General Lee and Washington, in a ham-fisted attempt to defend his toxic client, reminds me of the way in which, if we don’t learn from them, the ghosts of the past  continue to haunt us.

A few miles away from our town there are two villages, Firle and Glynde, separated by the A27 road that runs from east to west, but lying less than two miles apart. Up until the 1950’s the children in both villages would apparently never dare play in the playground or fields beside the other village. Why? Because in the Civil War (1642–1651) one village supported the king, the other the Roundheads. I’m not sure what changed by the 50’s, but you see where I’m going with this…google civil war and I get only the US Civil War now, with the media asking “Why is the US still fighting the Civil War?”. The English Civil War was over 300 years ago in the 1950’s and yet the echoes of its misery persisted, and now in the US, this strange, unbelievably crass buffoon of a man Trump has stirred up the ghosts of America’s past like some evil wizard conjuring the spirits of the departed to return to Earth to be avenged.

When I was writing a novel about Brittany in the Second World War, I found myself writing the closing words of the book: “Stories shift and change, are forgotten. But they give birth to other stories, or reappear unexpectedly out of the darkness of time. They never seem to finish.” I spent a long time thinking about that last sentence. It seemed so gloomy, so pessimistic. Surely we can put paid, once and for all, to racism, hate and bigotry? But while I think it is possible, one individual at a time, through a long journey which is essentially spiritual – of confrontation and reconciliation – how much harder it seems to do this at a collective level. The European Initiative was one attempt to heal old wounds which seemed to be working, despite many setbacks, which is why Brexit seems such a regressive step to many of us.

And across the pond, a deeply strange story is being played out in America, with leading characters who would be laughed out of court if they were not in such positions of power. The Washington Post put it simply yesterday:

Some of us have long been urging people to see that the Trump presidency was “not normal.” But we are past such discussions now. There is only one conclusion that any American patriot of either party can draw. Trump must go.

23 Responses to “Do Stories Ever End? – Charlottesville and the Lessons of History”

  1. Dear Friends, it seems to me that unless karmic issues are not dealt within a certain duration of time, then after so many generations, it will rear it’s ugly head again. There are so many angles to consider, why, for instance were the black nations raided for slavery? Why were the American Indians not only slaughtered, but some tribes were taught by us – – meaning English, Dutch and French, to use methods of torture to undermine a take over. Double standards by all. The law of cause and effect, honors a single soul as well as nations. We are not consciously aware of this unless we have woken up and even that does not protect us from paying what we owe. Live as you would want others to live, in love, tolerance, using one’s perception in decision making, remembering we are all part of the One. Blessings to all, Margaret.

  2. Thank yew for a thoughtful and heartfelt post, Philip.. Mr Trump is a beard, a here today, gone tomorrow politician,. The power remains in the hands of the elite. And even these demi-gods eventually pass away.
    I’m sticking with plants & trees: they’re more likely to abide long after you, me and Mr Trump are compost. Think of simple plantain, so ancient and still so abundant.

  3. Unfortunately Trump just lays bare the reality of US culture.. Obama and Clinton supported and cheered on torch waving Nazi’s in the Ukraine when they burned people alive so the hypocrisy of blaming it on Trump is a bit much to take. I don’t think there is much we as Druids can do on the larger scale, rather a better use of our time and energy is to build our local communities, teach and encourage harmony and compassion with each other and the natural environment we live in.. i.e. sticking with plants and trees !

    • Ah…..thank you for remembering the ills of other Presidents who sat idly by in many, many cases of murder and torture. I am a US citizen living less than an hour from Charlottesville. A mess indeed. But right now it is terribly fashionable to blame every single ill on Trump. Obama stood by as Baltimore burned, as Ferguson burned and racial tensions built to the point of disgusting spillover as we saw in Charlottesville. I am not shocked by the events. We have a serious racial problem in this country that has lacked contructive problem solving in any way shape of form. It has been going on since slavery. We abolished slavery and never abolished the racist mindset. Behind the racist thugs who did such horrible damage in Virigina are all the countless others who publically claim they are not racists BUT in their livingrooms, parties and yes gossip in churches share their racists opinions and views. Generations have been taught racism. This is just a Trump problem this is a massive mindset problem. A new President won’t change that. MLK couldn’t change that. Those is charge of our country do a lot of lip service and that is it.

      • No one is suggesting that in Trump lie the origins of racism in America. However, what he has done is legitimize it, make it mainstream and socially acceptable again. He is a serial sexual predator who bragged of his crimes against women, who could not hide his crimes against people of color, yet was gifted nonetheless with the highest office in the land. Racism and misogyny before Trump were present, yes, but they were largely underground and slowly suffocating. He has given it life and air to breathe and propagate more easily than before.

        This is obvious to anyone observing current events, but in addition to that I have personally experienced the difference, as have others of my acquaintance – both women and people of color. Since Trump’s election, I have been spat at, threatened with all forms of assault, and verbally assaulted with such epithets as ‘race traitor’; not in response to anything I did or said, but most of it simply because I married a Japanese man. And most of it in Trump’s name.

        Attempting to justify anything that is happening under Trump by stating that there were problems before is entirely to miss the point. Trump is a criminal, an evil man in power; it is dangerous and foolish to underestimate how much he contributes to the horrors around us now.

        • Well said! You have articulated that so clearly and from personal experience too. Thank you. I know how awful it must be for you in the States to be living through this. For us over here it is tragic too to see a country many of us love being dragged through this mire.

  4. Well said. The stories live on as they reveal who we still are under the facade of “civilization” with all its unresolved issues. Cultures and countries have the same neuroses, shadows, projections and blind spots as any unbalanced individual. We need the voices of memory more than ever as our weapons outstrip our morality and sanity. Thank you.

  5. The Kerr aka Carr Clan had a feud against themselves because some where Catholics who supported Mary Queen of Scots and others where Presbyterians like Donald Trump I was raised a Presbyterian. I first heard about Druids from a film about Scotland by Walt Disney. I started to read about Buddhism and the Vedas in 1967 and I read Wentz then his book on the Celtic Fairy Faith really turned me on. I wrote a letter to East West Journal called ,”Getting it all together down through the Ages” then Martin Brennan wrote, “Ireland the Unknown” and I wrote, “Druidism in the Cosmic Age” 1975 E.W.J. After that I did research on an Essay I wrote called, “The Esoteric Roots of American Independence” and published the Forward at Philadelphia 1976 Aquarian Research Foundation. While doing that study I found historical connections between the Druids and the Free Masons who founded this country. Read the “Essay on the Origin of Free Masonery” by Thomas Paine and Republican Religion the American Revolution and the Cult of Reason by Koch in which he documents the Ancient Order of Druids of Newburgh New York and the Deists who held meetings at Druids Grove Tavern in New York City bbetween 1799 and 1809. Thomas Paine knew Iolo aka Edward Williams and William Blake he was also friends with Franklin and Jefferson. Jefferson designed the University of Virginnia in Charlotesville, I have been there and I went to his Home in Montecello he studied Celtic Myths and Legendary Lore he had Scottish Ancestors they all knew about the Civil War between the Stuart Dynasty Royalists and Parlimentary forces of Cromwell they knew about Bonnie Prince Charlie and 1745 Battle of Culloden. In the Declaration of Independence Jefferson wrote that King George promoted the evil Slave Trade but that was edited out. In many ways the American Revolution was a battle between the Celts and Anglo Saxons or Stuarts versus House of Hanover. We picked Republican Democracy over Parlimentary Monarchy. See Common Sense and The Rights of Man and the Age of Reason by Thomas Paine. Paine like Franklin was for abolishing slavery. The Republican Party picked Abraham Lincoln the Democrats where the ones who wanted slavery and they started the KKK. Trump denounced the KKK and Neo Nazi who do not like him because Ivanka married a Jew. I saw him when he came here and you are wrong about him . He spoke the truth this hate problem is many sided. I got your books the Druid Renaissance and I got the Book of Druidry it is clear you do not know about The Ancient Order of Druids of Newburgh N.Y. I like your books but I do not agree with you about President Trump who praised me as a Grass Roots Team Leader. All lives Matter we all got equal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Did you say anything when a Black Man killed Cops in Dallas he said he wanted to kill white cops one he killed was Hispanic but he looked white. When some extremist of BLM chant , Kill Whitty is that not racist hate speech ? Barry Obama a half white man claimed he was black and blammed slavery on White Christians, but he ignored the fact that Mohammed had slaves and the Koran allows slavery anf polygammy and so did Moses. When they claim black slaves built America they ignore the Irish indentured servants who built the Erie Canal. Our Constitution outlawed private ownership of slaves and indentured servatude at the same time. Marxist Communism abolishes all the natural rights of the individual person and turns the people into slaves of the state and Philistine or Palistine is a racist term used in the Communist Manifesto. So do not blame only one side the Leftist hate the Right and they want to destroy all the good principals the Republican Democrats gave us in the Bill of Rights.

  6. It is said that the future is always born in pain. The history of war is the history of pain. If we are wise, what is born of that pain matures into the promise of a better world, because we learn that we can no longer afford the mistakes of the past. – J. Michael Straczynski

  7. thanks a lot. racism is real in America and only came to limelight in trump administration. look at his cabinet and comments on world issues. you can read his mind. perhaps America will change after his first term ends.

  8. Many thanks. The situation you describe reminds me of Vamik Volkan’s ideas about ‘chosen trauma’ where an toxic event several hundred years earlier can inform events of the present and become newly resonant.

  9. The planned violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, US was a one day rally held in a liberal town attended by extremists from the across the US. The intent was to cause a violent clash, but now that town is back in the control of its own residents. It is certainly not Mosul nor Freetown. Another alt-right rally today in Boston, Massachusetts was dwarfed by about 15,000 counter-protestors. Other counter rallies are planned around the country, urging peace and hope.

    As Druids we can try to heal the divisions from this last election and call out racism. Unfortunately, I’ve seen OBOD groups here being regularly approached by white nationalists and others of ill will. OBOD is perceived of as a white European ancestry group by these people, and therefore is attractive to White Nationalists. And in a group of conservative (yes, of course there some) and/or unthinking OBOD members they can get into our Groves and Seed Groups. As an example, then the lone black female member unsurprisingly ends up leaving a Grove. Branches of Heathenry in the US have been founded by or co-opted by white racist groups (the Asatru Folk Assembly comes to mind), requiring other Heathen/Odinist groups to publicly denounce and work against this blight.

    In this light, I would like to thank you for the 17 August 2017 statement on the OBOD Facebook page (which expands on the ‘inclusiveness’ sentence on our “About the Order” page), and clearly rejects expressions of racism, fascism and homophobia. It would be wonderful to see this statement placed prominently on the Druidry.org website. I hope that political extremism in the US and Europe does not continue, but such a clear and official statement from OBOD would be of great use.

  10. Hello dear Philip,

    One of your Bards, here.

    I grew up in Richmond, Virginia–the Capital of the Confederacy–in the late 50s / early 60s. The Civil War loomed large around every corner among the Colonial architecture, especially down the beautiful tree-lined Monument Avenue with its huge round-a-bout centered statues that included war leaders J.E.B. Stuart, Robert E. Lee, and Matthew Maury. Those figures looming so very large are etched into my memory

    My beloved father (who passed away only last week oblivious to all the turmoil in a city we loved to visit to spend time at Monticello) would take us to the sacred battlefields in and around Richmond (now national parks) on weekends for history lessons where we would find mini-balls and belt buckles (from soldiers on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line) barely below the grass line and pine needles. (It had been less than than 100 years since shots were fired and humans fell in those deep woods.) The stillness, at times, was palpable. I can still smell the pine sap, hear the cicadas, see the sun filtering through the loblollies and oaks…. If we came across bones, my father would reverently re-bury the remains as deeply as possible with only a hand spade.

    The American Civil War, to me, a child of the South, was never about slavery, but about crass Yankees invading our homeland–burning, looting, destroying. The City of Richmond purposely left the ruins of burned-out structured scattered throughout the downtown area so “we wouldn’t forget.” Never, though, were we taught or told The War was about slavery. We learned that the gentleman Gen. Lee was asked by President Lincoln himself to head the Union Army, but he refused to get involved. It was only until the Commonwealth of Virginia was invaded by Northerners that Gen. Lee stepped in to defend Virginia alone, and then he was pulled into the monstrous blood bath, at the helm of a war machine he was reluctant to lead.

    Daughters of the Confederacy (direct descendants of the Glorious Dead [Confederate soldiers]), for the most part, and war veterans, raised the money to have the majority of what many deem the offensive statues, erected. The brass and bronze effigies represented those who had fought to maintain their ideal of a genteel lifestyle, the civility of a peaceful time. Slavery was brushed under the historical rug. I suppose everyone,from parents to teachers, thought we were too young to understand….

    One of my elementary school classes in Richmond was one of four in the city to become integrated, and we loved our new classmate. In my room were Christians, Jews, and now, a “Negro,” but we had no labels as seven-year-olds. We all played and studied as one. My only thought was, “Where had she gone to school before now, and who else is ‘out there’?” The “colored section” was just two blocks from my neighborhood and I seemed so unfair the children had no proper school.

    It wasn’t until college that I learned about Jim Crow laws and realized all this had been going on around me, in my own backyard. It is not an exaggeration to say I was shocked. I wrote essays about it that saved my failing test grades in history as I just couldn’t remember dates very well. I had to express my disgust at these practices

    And it wasn’t until last week, I’m ashamed to say, that I learned some sad, tough-to-absorb truths about Gen. Lee and his views on slavery. Why had it taken so long for me to learn about his views on slavery? Did he really think his slaves incapable of learning or feeling on the level of a white man?

    Still, let it be known, that many of our Boys in Grey fought and died to protect their family homes and farms that were run without a single slave. They were oblivious to the real “lost cause” as they enthusiastically ran out the doors of their homes, ignoring the cries of their parents, to join a troop marching down a sandy or red-clay road, into a war they thought would only last a couple of weeks. They weren’t fighting for the right to own another human being–they were fighting for the land claimed and bought by (most likely) their British and Irish grandparents. I want African-Americans to understand that fact as I understand their plight, as this was the case with my own ancestors. I have family records to prove we did not use or own black or white slaves.

    The Confederate flag was always a symbol of “home” for us, especially when my father was transferred north with his job. It was NEVER a symbol of hate or a tool to taunt African-Americans. It was hijacked by the KKK and I sincerely detest what they represent.

    I am not in favor of tearing down Civil War monuments en masse, without thought, in random acts of violence without proper civil discourse and government approval, but Charlottesville has truly marked the end of a long era, or should I say, “error.” The dreams of the Olde South are vaporizing.

    Cultures around the world are vanishing, melding into obscurity. That is what drew me to OBOD — there is a tradition that draws on my British heritage, it offers a bit of stability as in the strength of an oak tree, the predictability of the wheel of the year that I have incorporated into my Christian beliefs (am I guilty of melding, then?!). I need that desperately right now. Northerners — black and white — who move to the South complain there are not enough diners, delis, or “real” pizza. They make fun of our accents, our food, our way of life — you name it. They come South to escape high taxes and overcrowding and enjoy our beautiful weather and amenities, and then insult us. This fuels the KKK, too. The War continues. It can be tough to take for some. It’s all very complicated. Or is it?

    So to those of you around the world, as you view the “recent unpleasantness” in my home Commonwealth, know that tearing down statues is only scratching the surface. It doesn’t change or erase history for the current or future generations. It may help some not be to immediately reminded of injustice but the injustice remains and that’s what we need to tear down.

    Blessings to all.

  11. I had John Lennon’s Mind Games going through my head for a few days, so checked the lyrics. Less than a minute in there is the phrase (only appears once) ‘some kind’a druid dudes lifting the veil’. There has been talk of a new age or a shift for decades now, is this how it could happen? I love the idea of Celtic Christianity, which some say followed on from the Druids, and was then ‘reconciled’ with the Roman church at the Synod of Whitby, making a comeback, appropriate for modern times. Oh yes, and I see Trump’s election as allowing the growth of a boil, ripe for lancing. Is this the time to deal with all those events that have never been properly dealt with in the past?

    • Yes and the rest of the words are good too! I’ll post them up with a film of it!:) Thank you for reminding me….

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