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For Pagans of all paths, and for Pagans of none.
UK Pagan has been an online home and discussion place since being founded in 2001. We pride ourselves on providing a safe space for active debate and conversation, and a place where followers of other religions are welcome providing they show respect and tolerance.
We strive to be a place for all Pagans, whatever path, whatever stage of their learning; a place where Pagans discuss issues with tolerance and respect for others; and a neutral forum with no "site line" or "site view".
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I confess that I have always found January to be the hardest month of the year. Named after the God Janus there is a real sense of things not quite beginning yet, with the God’s faces seeing both back to the old year, and forward into the new. The festivities of Yule and the New Year are past, the decorations now back in their boxes for another 11 months, yet the light is not visibly growing just yet – by the end of January, yes, but right now the nights are still falling before 5pm. It’s a strange time of limbo, and one I’ve never particularly enjoyed. But… Last year I said that I would try to embrace all aspects of the year, and that is what I’ve been trying to do. Admittedly there have been some days when all I could come up with as I walked Oscar along the Adur river in ice-cold winds, greyness and damp air was, “well, it’s nice and quiet”. But on the whole I’ve been doing much better.
So what of the time between the Winter Solstice and Imbolc? January, that lies in between, like the dark lines between tracks on an old LP record. What do you show me? It is true. It is quiet, and that is a blessing. As I walk through the countryside the trees are sleeping, some of the plants a sending out fresh green but most rest beneath the earth, not fooled by the occasional temperate air above. The air, when it’s not bitter cold and windy, has a joyful crispness and freshness to it – the earth not always muddy, and sometimes hard with ice. As I look across the fields they are open and bare. But instead of the silence between the songs on a record they are more like the emptiness of a blank page of paper. The paper is there, empty and waiting, and what could be written there? A song, a poem, a letter of love, the first words of a tale. The field lies empty and waiting, just like that page, empty, yet full of potential.
Our Grove marked the Solstice this year by splitting up and taking torches to the peaks of seven of the hill forts in Sussex. There at 7pm on the night of the Solstice, in the darkness of the longest night, we all lit our torches and held them to the sky, symbolising the Sun reborn, creating a pattern of light across the land. The seven hills we stood upon form a rough pentagram with one in the centre, and an eastern outlier. I was at the central hill with a few others, and we saw 6 of the other torches lit upon those other hills. It was a magical night, and maybe we had a peep into how those who lived upon the hills 2000 years ago would communicate between each other with their beacon fires.
So with the Solstice marked January arrived. There is a tangible feeling of both peace, and tension, as the buds of Spring wait for the warmer air and longer days. Yet if the plants sleep, the spirits of the Otherworld certainly do not. I know of their love of Beltane, but it seems to me they are very much present at this time. Maybe, just as the red breast of the Robin is here all year, yet is more easily seen in the greyness of Winter, so the Fair Folk are also more visible, in their cloaks of green. Maybe when the fresh green of Spring arrives they blend more easily with the leaves of the greenwood. Yet now they stand between leaf-bare branches, their music playing upon the chill winds, and their feet dancing upon the wild earth.
And I listen.
There is beauty in Winter after all.
Well hello again, and happy new year!
I love the feeling of ‘resetting’ that happens with a new year. It really feels like I can put stuff behind me and move onto new things. I know in some ways it’s just an arbitrary date, but it somehow doesn’t feel that way. January 1st arrives and it does feel new and exciting – what will 2019 bring? What do I want to focus on this year? Where do I want to guide things? What do I want to do?
One of things I always do is recapitulate the old year, and write down goals for the new. I don’t use the word ‘resolutions’ or ‘promises’, goals is just fine. I’ve kept my old lists going back about 15 years and I confess there are some things that come back year after year. When I was playing a lot of World of Warcraft one of my goals was ‘To play less WOW’. Yes, that one was repeated for a few years, but now it’s gone.
One of the goals I wrote this year was:
- Make my blog an exploration of my spirituality. A part of my growth.
I know. Of course it always has been, but for whatever reason this was added to my goals for 2019. Maybe it’s because I see so much division, so much disquiet, even in the Pagan world, that I want my blog to be a place where this just doesn’t happen. A haven that encourages connection rather than division. I’m very much up for that, and I hope you’ll join me.
So what else is in store for 2019 so far?
Well, I’ve just added the gigs I’ve been booked to play so far on my concerts page here on the website. I’m looking forward to playing a gig at Paganicon in the USA having not been there at all in 2018 – I missed you lovely American Pagans! I’m then off to Australia in April to help run a Druid camp with Cerri and our good friend, Kristoffer Hughes, then afterwards I’ll doubtlessly be playing another gig in Adelaide, plus it looks like I’m booked to play a concert at the wonderful English Ale, just outside Adelaide at Mylor, so plenty of exciting things there too.
This year I’m taking a break from the Y Mabinogi albums to focus on an album of songs and I’ll be getting my teeth into writing those songs over the next few months. My aim is to have the album out ready for Yule, but that could change, and I’ll certainly keep you posted! I am really looking forward to the freedom that comes with writing new songs, songs that aren’t linked to a particularly story, and the Awen is already starting to flow.
As well as the music I’m increasingly being booked to speak at conferences and camps and although this is right outside of my comfort zone, I thoroughly enjoy the challenges it brings. For instance I’m not playing music at this year’s Pagan Pheonix South West conference (what was the PF Devon and Cornwall conference) but instead will be talking about Y Mabinogi, the history and lore surrounding the tales. I’ll also be speaking at Paganicon in Minneapolis, as well as playing a concert on the opening night, Witchfest Midlands, and at the Druid camp in Australia.
And then of course there is the monthly DruidCast podcast and my other work with the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids, the seasonal open Wheel of the Year rituals at the Long Man of Wilmington have entered their 19th year, and it looks like there will be another Anderida camp in the Autumn, so plenty to keep me busy.
But also this year there will be space. Space to just be, to connect with the Source, to watch the sunrise, to sing to the stars, to allow that Awen to flow into songs.
Whatever you have planned for 2019, may it bring you wonder and joy, magic, and blessings!
Truth is not the same as verified fact. It is, rather, something along the lines of the individual's grasp of his or her place within the cosmic jigsaw (that's off the top of my head, so don't be over critical of the terminology).
Therefore, authenticity and truth are both personal. Truth is mutable for each individual also, but that mutability is a pre-requisite of authenticity. Consistency is no virtue if it does not reflect actual current beliefs and outlook.
Your own truth is authentic.
Stonehugger 35On 11/12/2016 at 10:35 PM, Ellinas said:
A group is authentic if it understands this and is not afraid of self examination, criticism and change.On 12/15/2018 at 10:45 PM, Ellinas said:
Unfortunately, those followers who claim "authenticity" generally seem to me to mean only that they are convinced that they hold the only truly true version of truth. Such are to be avoided, and a pox on all their authentic or inauthentic houses.
I personally (just me) try to avoid generalising as it doesn't work for me, but it does work for others. However, I agree that self examination, criticism and openness to change are important and that schools of thought that are convinced that they hold the only truly true version of truth are best avoided. Regarding "How To Tell If A Teaching/group Is Authentic", that word "authentic" needs careful handling. I see something as authentic if it works for me and if it's open to change, criticism etc. I'm less sure about what would cunt as universally authentic though.On 12/15/2018 at 10:45 PM, Ellinas said:
I rather suspect that the founding thoughts of most aged and ancient faiths are irrecoverable or culturally outmoded and impracticable
Yes (again, I'm personally wary of myself generalising too much, but...) cultures change so what worked in the past could be entirely irrelevant now. What worked in the past was presumably tuned into some far more abstract "?truth" that is still there today so we still need ways of approaching the same truth but in ways that are culturally meaningful for us today.
On 12/11/2018 at 4:33 PM, Earthdragon said:
Hi Moonsmith, it occurred to me on rereading your comment above to ask why such reviewing and potential re-jigging is an uncomfortable process for you?
I really must stop writing sentences containing multiple predicates.
It isn't the reviewing that is in the least uncomfortable:-
From nanometre to parsec I absorb new information about the cosmos like a sponge. This is, for me, the shifting image and nature of deity.
Whether from new neuroscience or philosophy, new information concerning reality arriving faster than I can read it. This is my creed, my relationship with deity.
All this is what makes being alive right now so invigorating and exciting.
What is uncomfortable is the frequency with which I have to adjust image and relationship. 🙂 .......but that's postmodernism for you 🙂
The room is dark and quiet. A lone candle, no flame, yet burned low, wax melted, sits upon a cobweb-covered wooden desk. A door opens and a figure walks in, their footsteps disturbing the dust that covers the old woodworm-ridden floorboards. The chair scrapes across the floor as the figure sits down at the desk. He blows some of the cobwebs away, and with old tired fingers, presses the power button on the MacBook Pro.
Yes. It’s been a while since I sat down to write for my blog. The last time was November 12th and since then I’ve put together two episodes of DruidCast, each posted to the blog that stand together, unhindered by any article in between. I’m not sure that’s ever happened before. Ok, just over a month isn’t that long, and certainly there are no cobwebs covering my studio desk, but it feels like it’s been a long time.
So what’s been happening?
Well, the launch of the new album went very well. It came out dead on time, and the CDs were posted all across the world to those who had pre-ordered. Then there was that liminal space before I began to hear from people, and see reviews posted on the web. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Ok, with one caveat. I was always very honest that the 2nd Branch is not a happy tale, and many people wrote saying that they had truly felt the heartbreak of Branwen, the loss of life during the great battle, and tears were shed. But to me that is a positive review. The Four Branches were written down at least 700 years ago, and are doubtlessly older than that, and yet they hold up today and can still stir that emotional response. I think the feedback I received from the 2nd Branch was even more positive than that I received for the 1st.
Unlike the time immediately following the launch of the 1st Branch album, this time I completely unplugged. In truth I needed to. The writing and recording of the 2nd Branch, being immersed within the story for a full year, had emotionally drained me. So the break was very welcome, and it seems that break included a time away from writing.
Then after the launch of the album me and Cerri went with two friends for our first overseas holiday for 15 years. We went to Tenerife, a beautiful volcanic island in the Canaries, Spanish owned, and just off the coast of Africa. I’d been to three of the other Canary Islands before on family holidays but never to Tenerife. We got on the plane in sweatshirts and thick coats, and got off to bright sunshine and 25-28 degree heat.
We took a trip across the island to the 17 kilometre wide caldera, and walked through a landscape that felt more like Mars than the Earth. We toasted the sunset from above the clouds, near the peak of a volcano, then went stargazing in an area renowned for its utter lack of light pollution. In that space I saw Andromeda without a telescope. Another Galaxy spinning far outside that of our own. Looking up that night at the stars, really helped put things into perspective. Of how lucky I am to be living a life. Of the immeasurable odds that, of all of the life-forms upon the Earth this spirit could have been born into, it was a human body that found its home. Not just that but a human born into a loving family, who lived in the South East of Britain. Looking up at the stars and seeing Andromeda, and the bow of Orion so clearly, along with the countless stars that form our Milky Way, I felt so tiny and insignificant. Yet it also reminded me once more of the privilege I have, for this life, in such an amazing Universe.
As soon as my feet touched the Earth of the UK I went straight into organising the Winter Gathering for the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids. Two days to get everything together, then zoom down to Glastonbury to host 200 Druids from across the world. The weekend was a great success, but whether it was someone on the plane, or the sudden shock/chill of going from 28 degrees to 5 degrees, both me a Cerri came down with colds and a nasty cough. I still have the cough. So the illness then wiped out the following week.
So, album launch, a moment of stillness, a holiday, organising a Druid event, then illness, that’s why the blog has been quiet.
I usually take the time between the Winter Solstice and the New Year off from all things and just enjoy the moment with family and friends, so this might now be my last article until the new year. If it is may I thank you, for reading the blog posts, downloading and listening to DruidCast, buying or streaming my albums, coming along and singing at the tops of your voices at my shows, welcoming me into your communities at festivals around the world, and for your support. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing for the Solstice, be that Winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, or Summer in the Southern Hemisphere, may you feel the power of the reborn Sun, or the Sun at his zenith, and then have the most healthy and prosperous New Year.
Until then – Peace, and blessed be. xx
Shownotes for DruidCast Episode 141
These are the Things – The Trials of Cato – https://thetrialsofcato.com
Thunderhead – Afro Celt Sound System – https://www.afroceltsoundsystem.org.uk
The Talky Bit – Looking at the last 20 years of Paganism – Julian Vayne – https://theblogofbaphomet.com
Hawthorn – Ryn – https://rynacoustic.com
Tom Paine’s Bones – The Trials of Cato – https://thetrialsofcato.com
DruidCast theme – Hills they are Hollow – Damh the Bard – https://www.paganmusic.co.uk
For further information on the modern Druid tradition – https://www.druidry.org
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