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  4. At the end of April I wrote this post and told of a ritual me and Cerri participated in as part of our holiday. I did say that the ritual itself was worthy of its own article, but then my life was overtaken by the work on The Second Branch album, so it slipped me by. Thank you for the polite reminders! So the ritual we participated in was a recreation of the Bull’s Hide Trance. I think it was back in 2002 when the Anderida Grove began to look at ways to explore the workings of this ritual. We then did the ritual with the Grove, and then in 2004 it was the main ritual at one of the Anderida Gorsedd camps, and we did it again some years later. It’s a long a deep ceremony based upon the evidence from a number of historical sources. Here’s the general gist of what happened back in pre-history. A member of the tribe, who was probably a Druid/Ovate/Bard was taken to a womblike place, that may be an old barrow, or a cave. A white bull was sacrificed. Some sources say the journeyer then gorged on the flesh, others that they chewed upon a single piece, but they were then wrapped in the still warm hide, they had a heavy stone placed upon their chest, others chanted over them, and they took an inner journey. Often this journey would have a distinct purpose, such as who would be the next Chieftain. That’s it in a very basic nutshell. So how to replicate that in our modern age? Ok. So we weren’t going to sacrifice a white bull. We could have found a white bull skin, but who knows how that bull had been treated? We thought probably not in any sacred manner. So what was the bull’s hide for? Was ‘sensory deprivation’ its main purpose? So that’s what the Grove did. We got hold of large thick blankets, and tried to wrap someone in them. The first issue was breathing. In the old writings it was said that the journeyer’s head wasn’t wrapped, but when we simply wrapped a person in a blanket and left their heads exposed, it didn’t do the job. So we covered their head, but then being able to breath became the issue, so we tried to leave a small breathing hole, and it was at that point we started to see some progress. So what of the stone on the chest? Again it seemed that this was a sensory thing, kind of like focusing on your breath when meditating. So we tried different sizes of stone and found the size that seemed to work the best (although different sizes worked with various people). When the Grove and the Gorsedd conducted our version of the Bull’s Hide Trance we didn’t include the consumption of flesh. I have to say that the results from the rituals we held were astounding. I’ll describe one from the later camp. Evening fell and we asked people to gather around the main fire, and to bring their blankets and stones. Our marquee had been cleared, and during the day we had asked for about 10 volunteers to be ‘walkers between the worlds’ – people who would go and collect someone, bring them to the marquee, and then gently wrap them, placing their stone on their chest. There would be others in the marquee who would play chimes, a didgeridoo, singing bowls, and use their voices to create a soundscape people could journey to. So one by one the ‘walkers’ brought the journeyers and they were wrapped. The scene in the marquee did begin to look like one of those disaster photos, with maybe 60 shrouded people, all journeying. Most of the journeyers travelled for maybe 45 minutes to an hour, and then, when one of the ‘walkers’ saw someone moving beneath the blankets, they went to them, and when they sat up, they held them. There were tears. I know some people who made huge life-changing decisions based upon what they saw as they travelled. None of which they have come to regret. Did it work for everyone? Of course not. Everyone responds differently and sound/journeying methods work in different ways for different people, but on the whole they were all deeply moving experiences. Now then. I had been a facilitator for all of the Bull’s Hide Trance ceremonies so when the opportunity came along to be a Journeyer, I took it. So we travelled to the Wildways Centre in Shropshire, a site complete with woodlands, and its very own replica iron age roundhouse. It was an invite-only group, and the aim was to see how the addition of the meat, plus the roundhouse, might enhance the rite. All of the participants had also completed a six months of preparation, and the rite would be the focus on a further weekend’s work. So what were the differences between the rites held by the Gorsedd, and this one? We would be journeying in a replica iron age roundhouse, not a marquee tent. We all had 6 months of preparation. We would take our fill of beef before the journey. The length of the Journey would be three hours. We would try to work out, between us, the focus of the journey. The facilitators had obtained a rib of beef. There had been lengthy conversations with an independent village butcher, and they knew the farm from which it came, and as much detail about the animal as is possible in this current age. We all helped to dig a pit, and placed some stones within, and lit a fire upon the stones, to heat them thoroughly. We then wrapped the beef in foil, and placed it upon the hot stones, then covered the whole thing in earth. We left it for four hours there to cook. In the mean time the roundhouse was swept and prepared, and as the sun set we opened the Earth Oven to see how the meat had cooked. It was perfect. We were then asked to eat as much of the meat as we could, and afterwards we were taken to the roundhouse. It was here we were told that the journey would be for three hours. So we lay down, and our blankets were wrapped around us. What did I learn? For whatever reason, and I think it is mainly the sensory deprivation aspect, the reconstructed Bull’s Hide Trance ceremony works. Sadly the consumption of the beef merely made me uncomfortably full, and to then lay down on my back for three hours was not a good idea. When we had done the trance in the past it had been on grass, and although people got cold, they were comfortable. The compacted earth of the roundhouse floor was hard, really hard, and by the second hour my back was very painful. In truth the main part of my journeying was over in that first hour. The second hour was more about endurance and just getting through. But I did journey during that first hour, and the insight it gave me was powerful, and held deep wisdom. But keeping relatively comfortable is obviously important. The additional elements of the meat, the location, the preparation, didn’t in truth seem to add anything to what we had done before. And this got me thinking, why is that? We know more about the Bull’s Hide Trance, so when we include those aspects that had been missing from the rite created by the Grove all those years before why didn’t they enhance the experience? My personal conclusion is that it was meaning. I am sure the sacrifice of the white bull, and consumption of its flesh meant something really profound for our ancient ancestors. Of course we can speculate what that connection may have been, but that’s all it is, speculation. Our lives are very different. We can walk into the Coop at any time and buy a large ribeye steak, neatly shrunk-wrapped, with cooking instructions. Very few of us have ever seen the blood and death that brought that piece of meat to us. We may have known more of the origin of the rib of beef we cooked together, but that visceral knowledge of death is still kept conveniently out of site. I think that our ancestors had a very different relationship to their food, and their animals, one that is so alien to many of us that it simply can’t be re-created. I’m deeply thankful for the opportunity I had to explore this rite in a deeper way. It helped me to realise that although we can seek the details of the rituals and beliefs of our prehistoric ancestors, we have to also accept that our lives are very different, and that we need different things within our modern ceremonies. Things that are meaningful to us. I once read some very powerful words. I have no idea of who originally said them, but to me they say all that needs to be said: Don’t seek to walk in the footsteps of the people of old, seek what they sought. View the full article
  5. To a woman trying to conceive, "unexplained infertility" is one of the most frustrating things to encounter. You're at a loss, your doctors are at a loss, and the prognosis seems bleak. However, it may be our body's fight-or-flight response that it is actually the root cause of the problem. A'ndrea Reiter, author of How to Get Pregnant Even When You've Tried Everything, explains how we can overcome this natural physical response and find our way to fertility. View the full article
  6. There comes a moment when any creative person feels that a project is honing in, moving forward to a point when they can see or hear the almost finished creation. When a sculptor sits before a lump of clay or a piece of stone, a painter before a blank canvas, an author before a blank screen with a flashing cursor, or a musician before the empty screen of a digital audio workstation such as Logic or Cubase that moment can feel so far away, but with each stoke of the brush, movement of the hand, press of the key, or note on the instrument, that all begins to change. All of the songs for my new album are now written. I have a few things to check, to make sure I record them in the right key for my guest vocalists, and then I’ve set aside the week of the 16th July and dedicated that entirely to recording the songs. A week, non-stop, and I should have most of the songs done, if not all of them. Then the process of mixing and mastering begins, and that is what can take the time. The final polish of the clay, the final editing of the manuscript, we all do it. In the mean time, however, my son Zakk has been busy creating the teaser trailer for the album, and I put it up on YouTube channel and on my Facebook page a couple of days ago. But I know that many of you are not avid Facebook or YouTube users, so here it is on my blog. Zakk is self-employed, and earns his living editing videos for professional YouTube channels, but if you have any video work that you’d like him to look at he can be emailed here. So until the Autumn, here is a quick look and listen to what you have in store. If you’ve received this article via email, there is a chance the video isn’t embedded into the email, so just click on the header link of this email, and you’ll be taken online to the article. Enjoy! View the full article
  7. Way back in DruidCast history, on DruidCast episode 4 from August 2007 to be precise, there is a talk given by Professor Ronald Hutton on the history of the Pagan Horned God. It’s his usual excellent presentation full of depth, entertainment, information, and humour, as is Ronald’s style. During the talk he says this: “Too often the Horned God of Nature can be turned into a simple force of hoof and horn, and grain, and grunt, and thrust, and lurch, and armpits, and the men’s locker room, rather than of the intellect, the tongue, with words, the speeder of thought, the creator of beautiful, delicate things”. When I heard this it led me down a rabbit hole. There are indeed many Pagan Deities whose gifts are magical, powerful, and empowering, but who does a Pagan go to when they are full of grief? When they need comfort, to be held, whilst they shed the tears of loss? (There is currently quite a strong breeze coming through my open window and the strings of my harp suddenly just sang on their own volition, played by the wind itself.) The Earth Mother? Certainly. It was my conclusion at the time. But since delving deeply into the stories of Y Mabinogi there is another Goddess, one who has herself suffered loss, pain, one who is there for the seven survivors of the battle in Ireland. I am writing of course of Rhiannon. Her story in the First Branch is one of loss, but then of being reunited with her son Pryderi. I really felt her close beside me as I created the First Branch album, whispering, guiding, holding. Cerri made me a pendant of a horse to wear during that time. I took it off when I started the Second Branch and it now sits upon my altar in her honour. Then, as I went deeper into the Second Branch there she was once more. I’m just about finishing writing the songs for the Second Branch, and the whole story leads to a point of redemption. I won’t say too much but as the seven survivors gather at Harlech this happens – We travelled to the court of Harlech and when we arrived we were regaled with the best food and drink. As soon as we began the feast three birds came. We had to gaze far out to sea to catch sight of them, yet their song was clear and true. As if they we in the court with us. Their song was the most beautiful sound we had ever heard. All other birdsong was harsh when compared theirs. The peak of each wave on the ocean shone white in the sunlight, as if a million white horses galloped towards the shore. Then I knew. These were my Mother’s birds. The Birds of Rhiannon had arrived. The song this leads into once more brings Rhiannon right into my soul. She is the Great Queen and if any Goddess is currently calling me, it is her. If there is a Goddess on whose shoulders you could cry those tears of grief and loss, it is Rhiannon. There is a linguistic link between the ocean, and the soul. Rhiannon’s Birds sing out to sea, their song so beautiful that in the story of Culhwch and Olwen, the giant Ysbaddaden says these words, that they “wake the dead, and lull the living to sleep”. They sing far out to sea, yet their song sounds as if it is near you. Rhiannon, in the First Branch, arrives on a white horse. The songs of her birds are brought to shore by the white horses of the sea. The sea is the soul, the soul is the sea, and the Otherworld is said to lay beyond the waves, on islands far off to the west. On this island there is still a taboo when it comes to eating horse meat. There is no logical reason for that. But this distaste for horse meat must go back hundreds, if not thousands of years, and maybe, just maybe, comes from a time when the horse was the spiritual symbol of Sovereignty, with the white horse carved into the chalk of downland and hill. The more I experience these tales, the more I know they are more than just random stories written down in the Middle Ages. Myth is said to be the second level of story – of the occult mysteries that lay behind the tales themselves. There is magic here, with hands and spirits reaching out over centuries that can reconnect people with the land herself. And out to sea, just beyond the horizon, three birds sing, and those whose hearts are lost in grief may well hear their song, and feel some of that grief lifted. What a blessing. View the full article
  8. Silently across the snow steps made without a sound, Nothing but the imprints of lost footsteps might be found.For standing under a cloak of midnight blue, The stars glistened like sapphires within the winters hue. Whispers of secrets and magick released for what shall be, The coming told in whispers of this elemental release.A gift a of magick from a future yet designed or pasted, As the seasons shall turn into memories and moments to forever last. View the full article
  9. Folk magic is a magic of the people, a holistic one that connects us to the earth below and the sky above. So, how do we begin to use this simple and effective magic? Hexe Claire, author of Magical Healing, illustrates its history and provides three simple spells for improving our lives. View the full article
  10. So another quick update on the progress of the next album for you! The news is that I am one song away from finishing writing the songs for the album. All of the spoken word has been recorded and edited, so once the final song is written the next stage will be to record, mix and master those songs. And once that’s done they will be dropped into place within the story, and the final bits of juggling will take place until I have the finished tale ready. So my plan to release it this Autumn is looking good, very good indeed. In the next week or two I’ll be posting a little video trailer for the Second Branch, much as I did for the First Branch, to tease you a little and give you an idea of what you have in store. This is a VERY exciting time, and as the album comes together, and all of the parts fall into place, that’s when even more magic happens. Intros to songs lay just right under the introducing spoken word; places lay bare ready for the tale to continue. It’s amazing – as if the whole project is being guided by hands other than my own. Sometimes I just step entirely out of the way and let those hands work their magic. Before I go I’d like to share something with you that happened just last week. There is a moment in the tale, when the seven survivors of the war return to the Island of the Mighty and land on the Isle of Anglesey. Branwen looks out toward Ireland, and then to her homeland. She says, “Woe is it that I was ever born, two islands have been laid waste because of me”. Her heart breaks and she dies. It’s an incredibly sad moment of the tale, and in the retelling, a song goes here. It will be sung by a guest female singer (in the same way S J Tucker took the role of Rhiannon in the Mother and the Mabon song in the First Branch) and there is some spoken word in the song too. When I finished writing it I played it all the way through, complete with the spoken word. As I struck the final chord a wave of grief hit me so hard that I had to put down the guitar and just weep for Branwen, and the survivors too. It was as if I could feel Branwen with me, her hand on my shoulder, as we shared those tears. So my friends things are progressing well. I hope to get you the trailer in the next week or so. How exciting!!! View the full article
  11. When we first begin the journey of psychic development, it may be difficult to discern what are psychic thoughts and what are simply our own thoughts. So, how can we tell the difference? Sherrie Dillard, author of You Are Psychic, explains. View the full article
  12. 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. View the full article
  13. 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 View the full article
  14. 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. View the full article
  15. 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. View the full article
  16. 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. View the full article
  17. 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 View the full article
  18. 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. View the full article
  19. 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. View the full article
  20. Viioletstar

    Sacrifice

    Sacrifice in modern thought is far different than in ancient times when most commonly the concept was enacted in a rite geared around the Community and formed a magic that attempted to divert ill or evil away from the people.Within these rites there is evidence that both sacrifice of humans as well as animals was employed. Anoher form of these old rites was the Apotropaeic expulsion rites which are often confused with the Sacrificial version.The apotropaeic paradigm involved five stages:Selection,Consecration,Investiture,Transference and Expulsion.This was a Community rite using a substitute(Pharmakos)to take away sin from an endangered group.The sacrificial rite did not employ any substitute for the Community nor did it bear their defilement,curses or sin.The victim here was a pure undefiled offering.
  21. Well, it’s been a while… I’ve just got back home from a two week tour on the European mainland. Starting with 5 days in the Czech Republic at the BMWC camp, then onto Vienna for a concert there, and finally to the Netherlands for the OBOD International Camp. It was quite an adventure but it actually started a couple of days before we flew out to Prague… It was a Bank Holiday weekend, and off I went to the river to walk Oscar. It was a lovely sunny day and there were a lot of dog walkers there. As we approached the bank of the river I saw what could only be described as a pack of dogs – a big group of dog walkers had stopped and the dogs were playing together. Oscar lost it. He got so excited, running around playing. It was lovely. But then he wouldn’t come back… It doesn’t happen often but sometimes I just cease to exist in Oscar’s world, and this was one of those times. I saw him running towards me. I saw the harness on his back. I reached out to grab the harness. Oscar is a German Shepherd/Labrador cross. He’s a big strong boy. As I reached out to grab the harness, my ring finger got caught, and was bent at a right-angle sideways to the left, as he ran passed. I couldn’t feel the tip of my finger. By the time I got home both knuckles were turning black. I couldn’t bend it, and it’s the third finger of my chord hand. Right then and there I knew I couldn’t play the guitar, but Cerri made a splint of cardboard, and taped it up. There was no time to go to the hospital as we were packing to leave for the trip. I figured that as the first gig of the trip was 5 days away, I should be ok by then, but I didn’t know for sure. Sometimes, just sometimes, it’s easy to take something like playing music for granted. But when an injury literally stopped me from playing, all I could think about was playing the guitar. Having this injury reminded me once more just how much I love music, so in a way it was a gift, but nonetheless, there would have been easier ways to have learnt that particular lesson. So we travelled to Prague and were picked up from the airport to travel to the location of the BMWC. I think it was about 5 years since I last played in the Czech Republic. Way too long. And it was wonderful to see everyone again. The Czech Pagans have an energy that is so vibrant and alive. I love them, and I always come away with a new story to tell. Some years ago I had a stage diver when I played a gig in Prague. You read that right. A stage diver. At a folk concert. Beat that Dylan! I was playing Lughnasadh from Herne’s Apprentice, a song that had been adopted as the anthem for the Czech Pagans, when I noticed someone climb onto the stage. ‘Oh! He’s going to dance on the stage, thinks I’. No. He goes to the front of the stage, the crowd surged forward and he crowd-surfed, right there, in front of me. Awesome. At a gig in Prague a year later a lovely red bra was thrown on stage and dangled from the end of my guitar. What would happen this time? We shall see… So we arrived at the venue and were instantly taken to The Beer Place. Some of you might not know this but Pilsner beer was invented by the Czechs. Subsequently Czech beer is, to my mind, the best in the world, so I was quite happy to be led to a beer barrel with a cooling contraption where you simply poured a beer, and left a tick beside your name to pay at the end of the camp. It was 27 degrees. The beer was cold and tasty. Much shouting of ‘cheers’ was heard as people arrived. I think this will be the first of a few articles about the tour so I’ll focus with this one on that pesky finger. I took the splint off on the Wednesday and moved it around a little. I couldn’t bend it properly, and began to worry about Friday’s gig. I decided not to try to play the guitar until the Thursday afternoon, and then only play a little, just in case I made it worse. So on the Thursday afternoon I went back to my room, and got out the guitar. It was mostly ok. As the finger had been pulled sideways it didn’t hurt too much when I pressed down on the string directly. But. For chords like D Minor I had to reach out a little sideways, and I simply couldn’t do that. And there are quite a few Dm chords in my songs. There was only one thing to try, and that was to place a capo on the 5th fret and transpose all of the songs with a Dm to an Am in that new position. It would mean playing completely different chords for those songs, but would it work? Just about. So I put the guitar away and was a little happier about the gig the next day. Friday morning arrived. Along with clouds of pollen from the trees that surrounded the site. Yup. The asthma then hit. So I had a damaged finger, and lungs that were refusing to cooperate. But the Show Must Go On! So at 10.15pm on the Friday night I took the stage, and I’m so happy to be able to report that both the finger a lungs worked. There is a loop of energy that spins from me to the audience, then back to me from them, and around it goes, time and time again. It’s powerful magic, and on that night there was so much energy I nearly forgot about the finger and lung situation completely. I did lose my voice a little towards the end but it was a great gig, and those wonderful Czech Pagans gave me another story to tell. I started to play Lughnasadh, transposed to Am on the 5th fret, but that was fine. The audience went bonkers, raising the horns and singing along as if I was some Heavy Metal band. Then two things happened. Three young ladies began to wave bras in the air, and then the audience began to cheer, really loudly. I thought, wow, they are really enjoying this! What I didn’t know, and didn’t find out until the next day, is that one of the people at the camp had climbed onto the stage behind me, and was holding antlers at my head. Apparently the lights were blazing my shadow onto the side of the building and it looked like Cernunnos had just arrived, pounding out a song on the guitar. Here is a small clip, just so you can see what I mean. https://www.paganmusic.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/dee7d9e7-f267-4f49-ab6a-ee4e963d133e.m4v During the concert I completely forgot about my damaged finger, but the next day it had swollen again, however I once more had a few days to recover before the gig in Vienna. But Vienna is another story. It was wonderful to be back in the Czech Republic again, and I promise it won’t be another 5 years before I return! View the full article
  22. Ellinas

    Silver Ravenwolf

    Well, it does strike me we all don pen names just to be the authors of our own posts here. Though it had never occurred to me that pixies fart - or that their flatulence may be linked to the glimmerings of the moon...
  23. NorseNephilim

    Silver Ravenwolf

    I tend to avoid all authors who don similar pen-names, like "Moonglimmer Pixiefart" or whatever. Probably more prejudice on my part than anything. That might well be unfair and I may be missing out, but for me, such authors are lumped in with Llewellyn books in the "not with a 10ft bargepole" pile.
  24. Shownotes for DruidCast Episode 143 Niiv’s Cauldron – Omnia – https://www.worldofomnia.com Professor Graham Harvey from AnderidaFest 2018 – What we can learn from Indigenous Peoples – http://www.open.ac.uk/people/gh2744 Suck my Flute – Omnia – https://www.worldofomnia.com DruidCast theme – Hills they are Hollow – http://www.paganmusic.co.uk For further information about the Druid Tradition – http://www.druidry.org View the full article
  25. It's easy to get overwhelmed when you come upon the tarot for the first time and try to learn the esoteric meanings for all the cards and the card combinations. Here, Tarot Magic author Donald Tyson presents ten steps to familiarizing yourself with the cards of the tarot. View the full article
  26. raventouched

    Silver Ravenwolf

    I met this Silver Ravenwolf many years ago. Went to a book signing. Always heard she wasn't a "real" witch. In it for the money. Some people rave about her wisdom. I never could find any. Now Starhawk.......Tejas web ...whole other subject.
  27. Ellinas

    Silver Ravenwolf

    Heard of her. Never read her. Not avoiding her. Just never really found the opportunity or need to get to grips with her. That is probably the most unhelpful answer you'll get on this one.
  28. Moonsmith

    Do You Have A Sacred Animal?

    There is a big Ursidae family around here. Definitely wellies in the woods Of all the bears in our family, I'm guessing that I am the teeny-tiny bear. Most of you seem to have or be North American bears. Is no one a Kamchatka, Kodiak or Polar? All bloody big. Please don't be sun bears. They are miniature [smaller than my bhalu], very smartly turned out but the nastiest little buggers I have had the misfortune to clean up after. Family photo I'm third from the left.
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