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Welcome to UK Pagan

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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  • Posts

    • Firstly, let me wish you a happy and blessed Solstice.


      It may be that, like me, you are gazing at a clear blue sky here in the northern hemisphere noticing the clarity of the light on the day of the Summer Solstice. Or maybe you are heading into Winter and the days are shorter in the southern hemisphere. Either way there is that wonderful opportunity that the modern Pagan Wheel of the Year offers – to take some time to stop and notice what is happening in the natural world around us. It really is a blessing. Sometimes our lives are so busy that seasonal changes can happen all around us almost unnoticed. Yet once every six weeks or so there is a Pagan feast day, where we stop and really open to the seasons.

      There are many gifts the Pagan path offers and this reconnection is, to me, one of the most important. A friend of mine once said that, if he were asked to sum up the path of Druidry in one sentence, he would say “Druidry teaches us how to reconnect with a deeper relationship to the natural world”. As definitions go it’s pretty good. I would add ‘natural worlds (plural), both seen and unseen’, but that’s my thing. So in a world where we can spend so much time staring at screens, working, being busybusybusy, when a Pagan festival arrives I will always take some time to stop and take notice.

      One of the things that occurs to me every now and then is the way us humans can see ourselves as separate from the natural world in the first place. When we sit down to watch a program about nature on the TV it is always about animals, fish, mountains, the oceans, the forests, insects, and we watch amazed. So the anthill in the forest is a natural construction, formed by a member of the natural world, but the human-made reservoir is not. It’s ‘man-made’ and therefore separate. I wonder how healthy that viewpoint is. It continues this myth that the world of nature is there for mankind’s dominion. It’s there for us, not we are a part of it. Surely it makes more sense to look at the constructions and things we do from a position of us being part of nature, and then being honest and questioning whether some of those actions really reflect the activities of a species that is an equal part of the nature of this planet. But I digress…

      It’s hard to just jump from the position of separation, to the viewpoint of human beings as part of the natural world. So I think that paths such as Druidry can help develop that relationship until we get to the point that we no longer see the badger as an animal, separate from ourselves, maybe as vermin or a pest, and instead see it as a relation, another Earthling, a four-legged brother or sister. The tree as a being trying to survive and live just as we are; the starling as a winged brother or sister, desperately trying to keep their fledgling safe and fed.

      It’s hard to feel that relationship and connection when you are looking at a computer screen, but taking a walk in the woods, or up a hill – a hill is a great place to connect on the Solstice day – and opening up to all that surrounds you, knowing the spirit within us is the same as the spirit of the hedgerow, the galloping horse, the soaring buzzard, the basking snake, the blazing sun on Solstice day. When all of the constructions fall away, there is no separation.


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    • Shownotes for DruidCast Episode 135

      Be More Kind – Frank Turner – http://frank-turner.com/home/

      Philip Carr-Gomm telling of the Chosen Chief succession plan – http://www.philipcarr-gomm.com

      Flower Power – Greta Van Fleet – http://gretavanfleet.com

      In Her Name – Arthur Hinds and the Round Table – https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/arthurhindstheroundtable

      The Tale of Sir Balin – Roland Rotherham – https://www.rolandrotherham.co.uk

      DruidCast theme – Hills they are Hollow – Damh the Bard – https://www.paganmusic.co.uk

      For more information on the Druid tradition, membership to the Order, and its courses – https://www.druidry.org

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      Being both sensible and being intuitive may seem like an oxymoron, since those two adjectives fall on seemingly opposite ends of a spectrum. But, from the body's point of view, they're really one and the same. While being sensible implies being practical, grounded, and level-headed, it's really about living in accord with your inner knowing or intuition. Curiously, being sensible depends more on information from your aware body than your rational mind. Ann Todhunter Brode, author of A Guide to Body Wisdom provides information and exercises to help you strengthen both your internal and external intuition and harness the body's wealth of information.

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      Some of you may have seen the news from this weekend’s Summer Gathering, but just in case you missed it, the link to the news is here. What a blessing to have such a moment handled with so much thought, care, and grace. An honour to be a part of this Druid Order.

      But as promised this article finishes the Tales from the Road series from my recent mini tour with our trip to the OBOD International Camp in the Netherlands. I organise the two OBOD Gatherings in Glastonbury and have done for well over a decade, so it’s a real blessing when I can get to go to an OBOD event where I have nothing to do with the organising team. I can just turn up, and be an OBOD member, and our trip to the Netherlands was one of those rare times. I’d been to two OBOD International Camps in Germany, but this was my first in the Netherlands. We hopped onto a plane at Vienna airport – just in time for the captain of the flight to let us know that the fuelling system for the “entire airport had just broken down”, and that “he had no idea how long it’ll take to get it back up and running”, and “by then there would probably be a backlog of flights to re-fuel”. So we sat on the plane and waited. In the end it was only about an hour before we were sorted and on our way to the runway, so not too bad I guess.


      Soon we had landed in Amsterdam and easily found Gerard who had volunteered to pick us up and get us to the campsite. As we drove across the land of the Netherlands we were told on many occasions that the land we were driving upon was under the sea just 50 years ago, and had been reclaimed. The fields now full of arable crops, and almost countless wind turbines. So green, lush, with no hills. A landscape very different to the one I’m used to seeing. I think I need hills. I even find East Anglia and parts of Lincolnshire just too flat, but it was a nice change. The campsite was an island on a large lake, land once again reclaimed from the sea barely 50 years ago. We arrived at the site late and only a little while before the opening ritual that we were a part of, so were shown to our ‘Grasshopper’ – our accommodation in what looked like a converted horse box – very snug and comfortable, then straight back for a run-through of the ritual. It was a bit of a rush, but I knew things would calm down pretty quickly after that.


      It was lovely to see OBOD friends from the UK there too. Penny, author and editor of the Order’s Journal Touchstone, the Pagan bluesman Arthur ZZ Birm, Adrian, JJ, and Mel. We were the opening ritual crew and the ritual had been written by JJ. Because of the plane delay and the rush I had a little bit of an ‘albatross landing’. That’s what me and Cerri call it. When you arrive at a spiritual event and seem completely out of sync with the vibe, just for a couple of hours, then you safely land, and slip into the flow.


      The Order of Bards Ovates and Druids is a Mystery School the backbone of which is still the Bard, Ovate and Druid courses. Membership is linked to those courses and that means that no matter which OBOD gathering you attend, anywhere in the world, there is that shared experience. This means that whether it’s the Glastonbury gatherings, the Australian camp, the East Coast or Gulf Coast Gatherings in the USA, it always feels like coming home, and I felt that once again at the International Camp. Because anyone can do the course, ego just doesn’t get in the way – we are all OBOD members, sharing the Journey. I love that so much. So after I had spread my wings, judged the distance from the water, stretched out my legs and ran for just a little while, I gently came to rest on the calm surface of the water, and allowed the flow of the current to guide me from that moment, and it felt good.

      The camp was really well organised, and I was so thankful that they had invited a fresh coffee merchant to the event. To me he was the Merlin whom I sought out each morning for his sacred elixir. Me and Cerri ran our workshop over the course of two days, with one session of preparation, and the next the ritual itself. Based on work done by our Druid Grove and inspired by words written by Dion Fortune it worked wonderfully, but I think I will leave the magic back in that field and say little more about the process. Sometimes these things need to remain mysteries.

      My concert was on the Saturday night and although my finger injury was nearly two weeks old, I still couldn’t play that pesky Dm chord, so once more I played some of my songs transposed up the fretboard. I also didn’t know until I arrived that the gig would be completely acoustic. It was ok. The problems I’d had in the Czech Republic and Vienna with my chest had lessened a great deal. The gig was great. Lots of singing and laughter. I played the same set as I’d played in Vienna and it worked beautifully again.


      As the sun set on the final day we gathered around the central fire for an Eisteddfod. Time and again we were entertained by people who had come to camp. Just as with the Bardic evening at the BMWC a week before I sat there stunned by the amount of talent there is within the Druid and wider Pagan community. The power of the Bard is alive and well, and thriving.

      But soon it was time to leave. We said our goodbyes and were taken to the airport by one of the people at the camp. He went out of his way to get us there, and once more I was struck by the generosity I had felt throughout this two week trip.

      I’m back in the UK again now for the rest of the year. My next overseas venture is to Paganicon in Minnesota next March, and then a few weeks later we’ll be returning to Australia. But I promise we will be back to BMWC and Vienna soon – it won’t be so long this time, and we are already booked to go to the next OBOD International Camp next June in Germany.

      Good times.

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      What makes queer magic so powerful? At the end of the day, magic is magic, right? If a straight person utilizes their magic to manifest something in their life, and a queer person uses their magic to manifest the same thing in their life, is either one any more or less powerful? They got the same end result, and really, the end result is why most people utilize magic anyway, no? Tomandaacute;s Prower, author of Queer Magic, details why queer magic is so powerful.

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      It is not the length of time you spend in a place that is important; it is what you do in that place, in the time you have, that counts. After eight months living in this Valley (and additional months here and then on visits) I have decided to move on, and I mourn that I am leaving after such a short time, when there is so much to discover here! But I have decided that rather than feeling sorry to be leaving after a short amount of time, I will instead gather up what I have learnt here and pass

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      So we said our farewells to the BMWC and our friends from the Czech Republic, then hopped on a train from Prague to Vienna.  I live in the South of England so my relationship with trains is somewhat tainted by my experiences with Southern Rail. However, most of the train networks on the European mainland are still publicly owned so tend to have cheaper fares, and run on time. So it was that we boarded the train to Vienna. The organisers of BMWC had bought us business class seats (Prague to Vienna, Business class – €25. Yes, a four hour train ride, Business class, which includes free Champagne. €25.) So it was a very comfortable and enjoyable ride. In what felt like no time at all we arrived in Vienna.


      For years I’ve said that Vienna is my second favourite city. My favourite? Brighton and Hove. I hadn’t been to Vienna for about 3 years and very quickly I realised that my love of Brighton was mainly loyalty to my home town. Vienna is a wonderful city. The architecture, the history, art, music, and the coffee house culture is overwhelming. So I’m sorry Brighton, you’ve slipped down the list a peg or two.


      My finger had healed to the point I knew I could play the guitar, albiet not all of my songs, and some had to be transposed to avoid the dreaded Dm chord (Spinal Tap fans will know this to be the saddest chord of them all…), but the cough I picked up at BMWC had got worse. So on the Monday I got an appointment with an ear, nose ands throat specialist to see what was going on. It turns out my right ear is blocked, I have a nasal drip (nice), and then the Doctor tried to put a camera down my throat to see my vocal chords. Not a chance. So he got a smaller device and went through my nose! Now that was a weird experience! After a few turns, the camera reached my vocal chords and there they were on the screen. Clear and as clean as a whistle. I was relieved, and was also tempted to take a selfie with them, but I wasn’t sure the doctor would be amused, so held back on that particular suggestion.

      But I knew the chords were just fine. It was weird to see them. I sang, and they changed shape. Small, white, and beautiful.

      Also, the cough must have been the pollen from the trees at BMWC, because as the day went on, the coughing eased off, a lot. Tuesday arrived and with it came the day of the Vienna concert. I was playing downstairs at an Irish pub called The Golden Harp. It’s where I’d played three years ago, the last time I was in Vienna. There was a time when I played annually in both Prague and Vienna. Me and Cerri would come across to Austria for a Pagan camp called The Broomstick Rally, and then take the opportunity to play music while we were there. The Broomstick Rally closed two years ago, and it felt like my concert in the downstairs of the Golden Harp was the first time the Austrian Pagan community had met maybe since then. There was a wonderful atmosphere in the venue, and everyone was is fine voice. My finger occasionally misbehaved, but on the whole I was very happy with the performance I gave. No bra waving in Vienna, or dancing horny men, but wonderful voices, smiles, and at the end I was given flowers on stage – the way Viennese audiences show their appreciation and respect to a performer. I was really very moved. Another emotional moment from what was already a wonderful tour.


      The next day our friend Siggy, who had organised the gig (along with Jeff, thanks peeps!) and is a professional Vienna tour guide, took us on a tour of Mozart’s House, the House of Music, and the Vienna State Opera House. If you’ve seen the TV show The Detectorists (and if not, why not?) there is one episode when they are walking a field, and suddenly the trees begin to change, the hedgerows slowly disappear, the vehicles disappear, and The Unthanks song The Magpie begins. The camera pans round and there is an Iron Age funeral taking place, watched by a Magpie. The figures slowly disappear, the hedgerows grow and people wearing tricorn hats ride over the place under which the funeral offerings were buried, the trees change again and a tractor ploughs the same field, as time moves ever onward, until finally it returns to the two detectorists who just miss the ancient coins, and decide to go to the pub. It’s an amazing moment in a wonderful TV show, and now, whenever I visit a Sacred Site, or historical place, I try to visualise things around me change in such a way that I can begin to see the ghosts of the past appear around me. It was thus in Mozart’s house that I visualised the tourists fading away, the sound of the city changing outside, displays disappearing from the walls, until I imagined Mozart, Beethoven, and Haydn sitting and discussing music together in this very building.


      That night we had tickets to see Don Pasquale at the Vienna State Opera. What an experience that was. I didn’t used to understand the appeal of Opera, but Cerri was a fan so many years ago I managed to get tickets for a show at Glyndebourne. I did it just for her mind. But when the lights went down and the orchestra started I had a ‘Pretty Woman’ moment. The Opera began, and I understood it then in an instant. But to me it is a live experience. I still can’t listen to a recorded Opera. Don Pasquale was brilliant, and after an 80 minute first half we walked out onto the veranda, overlooking the city. All I needed was a Vodka Martini, shaken, not stirred (oh and to be wearing a Tux and a bow tie) and I would have felt like James Bond.


      We had a few more days in Vienna and spent them exploring, seeing the sights, and of course eating glorious cakes in those incredible coffee houses. But eventually Friday arrived, and we were off on the third and final part of the tour, as we boarded a plane from Vienna to Amsterdam, and the OBOD International Camp.

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      Seeing a reversed card in a tarot eading is not always the most welcoming of sights. A lot of times, people are not overly sure what to do with it or totally disregard it and deal with it as if it is an upright card. When a reversed card shows up in your reading, it is meant to be there and it has a message that needs to be heard, so do not be too quick to turn that card back up the right way. So, how do we prepare ourselves to work with the deep wisdom and energy of reversed tarot cards? Tarot Reversals for Beginners author Leeza Robertson explains.

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