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" A good traveller has no fixed plans,

and is not intent on arriving "

Lao Tzu

How Can We Respond to the Environmental Crisis: Tea with a Druid 72

May 7th, 2019

We’ve reached a sea-change in humanity’s awareness of the environmental crisis we are now facing. Many of us have known that this crisis has been building for a very long time. Back in the 1970s the Club of Rome warned us that economic growth could not continue indefinitely because of resource depletion. Their report came out 47 years ago! 32 years ago, we as Druids started talking about the impending crisis, and began an eco-responsibility campaign and tree-planting programme.
Many people – scientists, environmentalists, and others – warned us of the five runaway trains that were heading towards us: resource depletion, population growth, habitat depletion and pollution, species extinction, climate change. As Druids it’s not that we were especially prescient – it’s just that our love of Nature made us pay attention, and made us start trying to make a difference in however small a way.
But the mass of humanity hasn’t been listening, has been in denial. But now something interesting and positive is happening. Greta Thunberg & schoolchildren the world over, the Extinction Rebellion movement, the work of David Attenborough, George Monbiot, and others, have ignited the world’s attention. The Labour Party and the Scottish National Party have agreed to declare a Climate Emergency. And today another UN report has reinforced what many have known already – we are facing not just a climate crisis, but an extinction crisis.
The burning question is: “Are we too late to make the changes needed? Have we gone beyond the tipping point?”
Some people are convinced we are too late. Others say that if we make a concerted effort we can turn the tide. They both have powerful arguments on their side. I think we should go for making the effort. But how? What can Druidry, as a Nature Spirituality, offer as guidance? As an embodied, nature-loving spirituality, I think most Druids would agree that we should combine both inner and outer efforts.

Here is some suggested outer activist activity:
1. Become as Ecologically Responsible as you can. Individually, reduce your carbon footprint, reduce your meat consumption, your use of plastic, your CO2 emissions. Do this at the corporate level too – in your work, and lobbying for change. At a political/global level: lobbying and acting for positive change. The Extinction Rebellion movement’s success in recent weeks shows this does work. As individuals we have more power than we think.
2. Druids love trees, worship them, relate to them as their mentors, allies, saviours even – since they literally give us life through the oxygen they create. So plant trees! For between $1 and £6 you can have a tree planted. About 4k people watch this. If each of us planted 10 trees, this one little ‘tea with a Druid’ session would initiate 40,000 trees being planted. Here are two tree planting programmes you could donate to, but there are many if you search online: Trees for Life in Scotland, One Tree Planted.

Inner Activity
Druidry is a magical philosophy that believes the subtle, so-called ‘Inner’ world, is causal to the ‘Outer’ physical world. To effect changes in the physical world we need to make changes in the inner realms accessed through imagination and meditation. So Druidry advocates going deep into the forest (on both the outer and inner planes) to connect with the spiritual nature of the trees. The word Druid means Oak Sage, or Wise one of the Trees. Trees have much to give us not only on the outer plane but on the inner plane too. We need this to resource ourselves, to give us the emotional, psychological strength to cope with the anxieties of living through this crisis, but also in doing this, we work with the fundamental magical understanding that the inner affects and causes outer change…
Commune with trees both in Nature and in the inner imaginal world just as you would commune with someone you love: You love them, they love you. In the Tea session we entered a meditation to work in this inner way.

20 Responses to “How Can We Respond to the Environmental Crisis: Tea with a Druid 72”

  1. Thank you for this Philip. I’ve found that it helps to focus on what we can do to be both responsible and resilient, radically accepting and hopeful. To this end I’ve set up a Facebook page called Tactics Not Despair (after Banksy’s art work). It’s a place for people to share their positive anticlimate change actions, words and thoughts. small or global, so that we can inspire each other to make changes in our own lives. I was reminded of your talk about the power of the small adjustment at OBOD camp that time!

    • Hi Ruth – that’s great. I’ll check out your website! I remember that talk – it must have been ten or more years ago! 🙂

  2. Animal agriculture is destroying the planet, kills wildlife, and is brutally cruel. Everyone can cut down on eating animals. It’s never been easier. There is an infinite number of recipes and suggestions online or in cookbooks. Everyone can make a difference starting now.

  3. Nice to hear these words, but I wish they were backed up with actions.

    For decades OBOD has encouraged people to fly around the world in the name of earth centred spirituality to attend various gatherings. OBOD teachers have themselves flown around to teach This is so obviously hypocritical and full of cognitive dissonance it beggars belief.

    Even this last week Druid teachers have flown from the UK to Australia to teach. Spiritual materialism, rampant destructive ego driven individualism and the Ponzi scheme that is Neo-Paganism do nothing for the web of life except salve the consciences of those who in their daily lives are busily unravelling it.

    OBOD has caused huge harm to the environment. Talking to imaginary trees in your head will do nothing to reduce CO2 emissions.

    • These words are backed up by actions. Ask the tree-planting organisations we support – Trees for Life, the Woodland Trust, Tree Aid – ask the office recycling company we use – Paper Round in Brighton – wheher the thousands upon thousands of trees we have funded for planting, whether the thousands of kgs of CO2 emissions we have saved represent ‘huge harm to the environment’. Ask the thousands of people the world over who have planted trees and have changed their lives and actions due to our work.
      But there is never room for complacency, and I think the comment by LR Federicks on this page which gives the examples of our changing attitudes towards recycling and smoking is spot on, and we are reviewing our policies in this light.
      As regards ‘talking to imaginary trees’ having nothing to do with reducing CO2 emissions, that is not the point of such exercises. You may not experience relief in such exercises from the bitterness and anger our current situation engenders – but I think you might find the environmentalist Paul Kingsnorth’s words about the value of a spiritual approach to nature – in the last 9 minutes of the following documentary of interest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_s8Vo00Xug

      • hmm maybe my reply got deleted…

        You can’t just plant trees and think you are offsetting the enormous damage done by air travel.

        Those trees will remain tiny seedlings or saplings for decades whereas the CO2 from the flights is released immediately into the atmosphere at the altitude where it can do the most damage. The trees might eventually absorb some CO2, but then if they get burned or converted to paper and then landfilled that will be released again. We don’t have the time for this. We are in the midst of a great extinction and climate emergency caused by human action. The only responsible action is to scale back our emissions drastically and that means not flying. It is incredibly irresponsible to organise events where people are encouraged to travel by air.

        • Hi Corwen, no I didn’t delete your reply, I was just taking time to think about and discuss these issues that doesn’t fall into the trap of becoming aggressive and shaming. I agree with you that we need to really question all that we do. I have cut back on air travel over the last two years, and have not eaten meat for decades (although I occasionally slip when no alternative exists). Apparently meat eating is worse than air travel, which doesn’t excuse flying, but does render any meat-eater criticising someone”s flying in a difficult position. I have checked our carbon footprint and because we don’t eat meat, drive a low emission car (not very much) have solar panels etc., it is not above average. But I agree that this needs to change. As regards the events we put on, we do not encourage air travel, but a small proportion of those attending do fly, almost always combining their attendance with visiting relatives, making that once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage, etc. We are planning to plant ten trees for every attendee (even surface travellers) at future Glastonbury gatherings. That would mean 4,000 trees planted every year. We could invite attendees to match this to get up to 8,000 trees. I know that offsetting doesn’t excuse the pollution of air travel, but we have to ask whether every gathering of humans should be stopped because of this? Should the Orkney Folk Festival not sell tickets to travellers? We all try to do our best in our own way. I know you do and I hope you can see that I do too, and of course there is always room for each of us to improve

  4. I’ve often wondered why OBOD doesn’t take a clear and public stand against flying (for any but absolute emergencies). I know a lot of druids who fly off on holiday without, apparently, a second thought. Years ago we didn’t recycle, and just dumped all our rubbish in landfill. Nowadays, we’re horrified when someone doesn’t recycle. At one time not so long ago, it was common to smoke everywhere- in offices, restaurants, theatres, public transport. No one thought anything of it. Now it’s unthinkable. There needs to be a similar sea change in people’s view of flying, a change in which druids, and OBOD in particular, could be leading the way.

    • Hi LR! – Thank you for this perspective. Your examples of recycling and smoking really help to see how we can shift attitudes, and we are working on this!

  5. Thank you for this very timely and heart-felt call. Like so many of us, I have been aware of time slipping away since I first became conscious of the need for environmental action. There have been many times when I have felt hopeless and despairing at the lack of political will, and even a broader social commitment to change. I agree with you that there seems in these last few months, a really different feeling. Sometimes it is hard to carry on,since change seems slow and hard-won, but the way to keep our spirits up is to act with others, and care for ourselves alongside the trees.

  6. Dear Philip, I have listened to your blog for the first time and I just wanted to let you know, that I am very grateful for your work and that I totally agree with all you have said. I just made my donation of 10 trees. Best regards from Germany, Dima

  7. Thanks Philip
    I will always know that I did not do enough. I guess that applies to us all, but LR Frederick’s comment is encouraging. In my case,’life’ insisted a long time ago that I change my habits and keep changing them. I was able to survive to see the children grow up and now see the grandchildren.

    Inner life can be a continuing struggle, but if you get moments of real clarity,use them; make the jump!

    Regarding trees, particularly oak trees, it is all very personal, but returning to my early interest in drawing via, as it happens, the inspiration of Samuel Palmer, enabled me to see their beauty again. That enabled mutual contact. (Applies to a lot of things – including people. It is curious what is beautiful, even when ‘perfection’ in an abstract way it most definitely is not.) Later the oak trees needed me. I wish I could have done more, but they are still there. Won’t work for everyone but anyone who has known the ‘artist’s eye’ will know what I mean and I guess could try that path.

    Long live Practical Druidry!
    best
    Phil

  8. Just signed up to make regular donations to the wonderful Trees for Life project. Love trees, love Scotland! Thanks for the prod, Philip!

  9. A lovely meditation and in my mind’s eye this time I could easily imagine ‘- see’ -other people sitting with me in different parts of the sacred grove and forest clearing, also meditating. It gave me a sense of unity and common purpose with others.

  10. I so enjoyed today, and It most certainly made me feel better. I am one of those who believe strongly that it does so much more. I’ve began sending love and hope and strength out to anyone who comes into the grove while I’m sitting there breathing in the scent of spruce. There is so much to be done, making the moments we connect and recharge all the more important for us and our Earth. Thank You for all your efforts. Much love and peace, hope and strength.

  11. Hi Philip, just been listening to the recording, and I definitely agree on taking positive action. We must at least try, else we’ll accomplish nothing. The meditation was great, and I’ll definitely use this exercise in the future! Thank you for those links also, I’ll certainly look at those and see what I can do.

  12. Greetings Philip, I appreciate all you do (on so many levels) to bring Druidry to the world. I just donated to plant 10 trees. Thanks for the links! As we know, Magick is created on multidimensional levels, and we are also multidimensional Beings. Doing inner work as well as outer work results in real change & manifestation. Love & Blessings 🙂

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