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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.
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When I put out the question to readers of the blog what would be the topics you would like me to write about it became obvious that this one was extremely popular.
How you fit Druidic practices into daily life.
This is a very important question and as ever I find my thoughts leading me to answer it in a very roundabout way. Maybe our ideal view of a Druidic practice would be similar to the photograph in this blog. Sitting on a high mountain, arms raised high to the rising sun, singing the Awen and feeling the blessings of life. I can absolutely attest that this is a wonderful thing to do, but these are often peak experiences and moments that come through pilgrimage and travel, and aren’t always things that you can do every day.
When I first stepped upon the Druid path I experienced that sense of coming home that so many people feel. I had always been a different child with very different interests to many of my friends. In fact I remember being at a Chris Wood concert once, a wonderful guitarist and folk singer who, during his set spoke a line that I also think can refer to many who walk a Druid path. As he looked out at the audience he said, “Ah. So this is where all of the kids who didn’t quite fit in at school ended up.” Of course it’s not a prerequisite, but from my conversations with many Pagans and Druids I’ve heard these very same words.
But I digress…
For me everything changed when I joined the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids and began to follow their course. Up until that point my path had felt complicated, confused, without focus. It was like scrambling through a forest of Blackthorn. Every voice would tell me something, every piece of advice another, every book telling me something different. There was obviously a lot of information available, but piecing it together into any coherent path was really tough (it must be even harder now with the internet!). When I started the OBOD Bardic course I finally had a path to follow, one that had been walked by many before. I found my focus, and I took the time to walk the path consciously. Of course I was still completely free to explore all of the tributary paths that led into other areas, but I always had this main forest path to return to and keep that connection going.
That feeling of coming home was something I don’t think I had ever felt so strongly before. A sense of belonging. And with that the way I’d always seen the world was now being held in a tradition, a spiritual path, upon which thousands had walked before me. I began to meet others and the conversations we had were deep, powerful, and life-changing. The result of this is that a) my view of what accounted for the real world expanded, and b) that expansion influenced my behaviour, interactions with others, my consumer choices, essentially the way I lived my life.
So this then leads me back to the question.
For me I didn’t really fit Druidic practices into my life, it was more my life changed and, along with those changes came my Druid practices.
Now I’m sure that’s not how it works for everyone. And I have to say that those life changes were a gradual process that took years and, in truth, are a journey that continues to this day, many years after I had completed my journey through the OBOD Gwersi. I also realise that what I’ve just written is quite abstract so let’s spend some time teasing out what some of those changes were.
Every age seems to think it knows the Truth. Secular views have deepened over the course of my life, but I simply don’t believe that we are biological robots existing in a meaningless Universe. Some of you reading this may well believe that, and that’s fine, but it’s never been my way. To me the Universe holds within it a deep magic, a myriad of unseen forces that guide and inspire. Those forces have been felt by many over the years, life-force, the Awen, Magic. Since before I took that step on the Druid path and joined the Order I had always felt those powers all around me, I just didn’t have names for them. To many they are simply imagination. But there we are again. Degrading something so powerful but something science, as yet, simply cannot explain, by prefixing it with words like ‘simply’ or ‘just’. The imagination is where thought meets consciousness, and in that place miracles happen.
Life is not always as it seems.
Many years ago when I entered the Circle and travelled through my Bardic initiation something changed. Well, maybe it didn’t change, maybe something that was always within me was set free. I still remember that moment, and the drive home, the night’s sleep, and the dreams. I think what I’m trying to say, in a very long roundabout way, is that possibly the very act of being a Druid, influences what you do as a Druid. And it’s probably quite important that the Path develops in this way – rather than trying to shoehorn practices into a life, let the Path develop. Quite possibly if you truly look at your life and ask those questions you will see that there are already a lot of Druidic practices in your life that you didn’t consciously begin, yet are there everyday – in the choices you make, how you respond to politics, how you feel when you take a walk in Nature, even the way you cook, or do the washing up – our Druidic journey influences our lives in so many ways.
However I realise there are also other levels to this question. Eventually those ways of being become so much a part of who we are that maybe we begin to take them for granted, or no longer see them as a part of our spiritual path. If that happens there can be a sense of separation, and with that sense of separation can come a feeling that we aren’t doing enough ‘Druid-practices’, that life has once more become mundane, and we want to reach out for the feeling we had right at the beginning. What can we do about that?
A Daily Druidic Practice
Maybe the thing that you feel is that there is just not enough time for your spiritual path. I refer you to the paragraphs above and point out that if that path is now a part of your life, of how you view the world, then you are practicing your Druidry every day. But of course if that is no longer a conscious act, a feeling of separation can occur. The secret is to claim back some time for yourself. You are important. Your wellbeing is important. If life has become a conveyer belt, or rollercoaster ride, and you feel out of control the first thing to do would be to acknowledge that, and then to also acknowledge that this isn’t good for you, and to do something about it.
Probably the easiest and most effective way to help regain that sense of connection, and to include a Druidic practice in your everyday life is to begin a short daily practice, either in the morning, the evening, or both, where you take just five minutes to connect to your spiritual path, and your Self. I started this some time ago and wrote about what I do here. It needn’t be complicated, or long, but if you really focus your intent on this act every day, it will do wonders for your life, your happiness, your connection to the Earth, the Natural World, and those around you.
You could also take the path many, including me, have taken before and join the OBOD and begin the adventure of their courses. Either way I hope this little stream or consciousness has been of some help!
Peace, and blessed be.
In a recent blog post I asked if any of you had gone through any ‘peak’ or strange, unexplainable experiences as you have walked your spiritual path. I said at the time I didn’t know quite what I would do with any of the responses but if you had time maybe you’d like to tell me about them. Well I got a lot of tales, through email, on my Facebook page, and through messenger so thank you!
What I was looking for among the stories were tales of physical contact, inexplainable encounters or synchronicities with spirits or entities, experiences of what you might call a ‘Fortean’ nature yet framed within the context of your spiritual paths.
One of the stories I received came from a folk singer by the name of Steve Thomason. The tale he told had finally led him to write a song about it, and when I heard the song I knew straight away that I wanted to share it on OBOD’s DruidCast podcast, which is what I did.
For the full story that led to the song you can listen to the full episode here, but here is the song itself.
Since then I’ve had a good number of emails and messages saying how much you had enjoyed the segment of the show, which made me wonder if that is how I can put these stories to good use – try to have a regular listener ‘this amazing thing happened to me’ tale.
So with that in mind here I am asking again, have had any ‘Fortean’ style experiences of maybe an Otherworldly nature that you would like to share? Any research or evidence that backs up the encounter is always very useful, and if you can tell the tale in your own words that reads as a story that would be even better, but not necessary.
Obviously I can’t promise to read them all out on the show as it only comes out monthly for an hour a month, but who knows, this might lead to other things too!
You can send me your story by using the contact page here on my website.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Many thanks for the advice everybody. I have started searching through "the indices of dusty tomes", and have found some interesting titbits already. Just started reading through full tomes which will give further clarification.
I also keep asking the goddess :) And so far the insight I've been given has been astounding.
Many thanks again :)
See if you can access a university library with works on ancient mythology and anthropology. There may be no short cut to searching through the indices of dusty tomes.
Equinoxes remind us to balance. They are the moment in which day and night are equal, both beautiful and glorious, but neither overpowering the other. It is a moment to respect each of their unique energies and powers and the necessity of both in the world.I am struggling with balance this equinox. Everything from my daughter's healing broken leg and my own broken nose to politics and the grocery store are sending me tumbling. I find myself flailing to find my lost sense of equilibrium, and I am frustrated, startled, and feeling defeated often. My balance seems hopelessly wobbly and weak. Forcing balance is less helpful than it seems it should be, and I find moments of true balance are fleeting, organic, and powerful.To know healing, you must be acquainted with those things that are its opposite. To know peace, you must have experienced its opposition. The same is true of justice, abundance, and fortune. We need to experience oppositions, and at the same time, we loathe to embrace many of them. Equinoxes present an opportunity for us to practice this embracing of dialectical oppositions, as the sociologist Claude Levi-Strauss called them. Sitting quietly and feeling conflicting emotions and energies without action or judgment can be a powerful exercise for balance. It's simple, and yet, when we give ourselves this space to try balance, we can often hear profound insights from these energies.In a world that needs our outrage at injustice, our hatred of cruelty, and our fight for peace, equinoxes become all the more meaningful and necessary. Lightness and darkness balance twice a year, and this reminds us that all things ebb and flow, but they also pause, for a moment in balance before swinging back into action. I bless you with a moment of balance and the beautiful, painful, magical messages that come with it on this Autumn Equinox.
Ok. I’m a Mabinogion groupie. Pretty much any book that has been written about The Four Branches is either sitting on my shelf, or is on a wish list. The journey I’m currently going through, recording the Four Branches in story and song has only made my love of these tales even deeper. Imagine my delight when this book falls into my hands asking if I would review it. I’ve loved Hugh’s work for many years, not least of which are the folk-song collaborations with the wonderful Chris Woods.
Have a listen below.
The Assembly of the Severed Head is set in the 1200s in a monastery beside a lake. One morning severed heads begin to wash up onto the shore, and the monks fear for the Bardic School that lay across the water. So a party is sent there to find out what has happened. The story is framed within Llewelyn’s against the Normans, and thus it is discovered that the Bardic School has been massacred by mercenaries. But there, among the death and destruction they find one sole survivor, Cian Brydydd Mawr, the greatest Bard of his age. He beckons them close. He is dying. He tells them he has some stories he must tell before he dies, and they must do battle with their own Christian conscience to write these tales down, for the first time.
And thus he begins to tell the Four Branches…
An amazing setting, told with such poetic language that even by page 50 I had to grab some tissues to soak the tears that were falling from my eyes. This is not a simple retelling of the Mabinogion, it is much more than that. The way Cian tells the tales draws you in, and there are other tales included too. The surrounding story of strife, love, and self-questioning only adds to the overall drama and feel of the book. I literally did not put it down and read it cover to cover in one sitting.
Some might call this a novel. Fiction. But once more I find myself questioning our western view of the way we decide what is truth or fiction, for there are Truths within these tales, and wisdom from an age long passed, but the message is still, maybe even more, relevant for us today.
If you have any love of the Mabinogion, any love of ‘Celtic’ myth, then buy this book and read it. You’ll love it. If you have tried to read the Mabinogi in the past and have found it dull or uninspiring, buy this book and read it (along with my Four Branches CDs of course ! ) and it will, without doubt help you to understand what all the fuss is about.
This book is a wonderful addition to The Matter of Britain. Long may these tales be retold, long may they live in our hearts, and in the land of Albion.
I almost heard Land of Hope and Glory start there…
I think I need a cuppa.
Research, not everything is on google, though if you want better information you should try the academic and book search functions, a look at Gaulish religion and roman deities, or failing that I suggest going to the source material and reading it for yourself, (ee gads I can't believe I'm going to suggest it but-) go to wikipedia, click on references and start reading. Reading books and original material is far better than internet summaries filtered through others perceptions. Failing that go back to basics, talk to your goddess and listen to what they have to say.
So continuing this little series I now move into my teenage years.
Man the late 70s/early 80s were such an exciting time to grow up when it came to music. I saw the excesses of Prog give way to the energy of Punk, then that morphed into New Wave and New Romantic music, but Punk also in a way gave birth to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). Metal with more edge and raw power. Add to that the rockabilly revival of the Stray Cats, the MOD revival of The Jam etc, and Two Tone Ska with The Specials, Madness, Selector, and Britain’s music scene was a multicoloured array of various tribes. At times those tribes would clash. I don’t think anyone was too pleased about the revival of the mass brawls on Brighton seafront on the May Bank Holiday… And I looked like a big rocker, complete with torn jeans, long hair, biker’s leather, and cut-off denim jacket covered in patches – a beacon for any passing Mods at the time. I guess I look back at that time with affection, but it wasn’t all fun and games
Evening Star – Judas Priest
So after Thin Lizzy caught my attention another couple of classic Top of the Pops performances made me rush out an buy their latest releases. The first was an album called Killing Machine by these guys… Judas Priest were probably my first proper Heavy Metal love. I loved their image (I had no idea at the time that Rob Halford had based his look on the New York Gay Scene), the music, the lyrics. I found another hero in KK Downing and wanted to once more be him. This song isn’t typical of Priest, but it was the first song of theirs I heard, and I still love it.
Doctor Doctor – UFO
On another Thursday night I sat glued to the TV and Top of the Pops when this song came on. I became a huge UFO fan in an instant and their live album Strangers in the Night is still one of my all time favourites. The groove of this track blew me away. I saw UFO for the first time in many years at Download Festival a couple of years back. They opened the Saturday morning, way, way, down on the bill. I was amazed. What amazed me was the small audience who turned up to see them. UFO were a big band back in the day, and Michael Schenker a legendary guitarist. Iron Maiden headlined that day and the irony was that their intro music was this UFO song. Everyone was singing along… Where were they for the band who actually played the song and had played it live that very morning? Weird.
Riff Raff – AC/DC
I will never, ever, forget the moment I first heard this track. I’d been advised to buy the new AC/DC live album If you want Blood and did so with a little trepidation. I hadn’t heard anything from them, but was told their latest single Rock n Roll Damnation was amazing. So I spent what little money I had on the album, dropped the needle, and this happened. I was so lucky to see AC/DC with Bon Scott on the Highway to Hell tour at the Brighton Centre just a month or so before he passed away.
Blitzkrieg Bop – Ramones
The Ramones got me through a lot of teenage angst. Every time I felt angry or upset I put on their live album Its Alive and my mood shifted. Again I am so pleased I caught them live. It was one of the fastest, most intense gigs I had ever been to. They literally came on stage, Dee Dee shouted ‘One-two-three-four!!” and they were off, and didn’t stop until the show ended. I think they must have played about 200 songs in that set! Amazing band.
Comfortably Numb – Pink Floyd
Along with all of the metal and punk I was also a hippy. Burning joss sticks in my room, wearing the occasional kaftan, and I had an afghan coat that, when it got wet, had to stay in the shed – it stank so much. My denim was covered in Patchouli, and I was ofter found chilling out to Pink Floyd and the next band here, Yes.
Wonderous Stories – Yes
I loved Pink Floyd, but I think back then Yes were even more a part of my life. This song in particular. I have some very fond memories of this song, none of which are suitable for printing here in public… Going for the One was my favourite Yes album, but Relayer and Tales from Topographic Oceans were also played to death on my little record player.
So next we head toward more recent days…
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