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  3. Earthdragon

    How To Tell If A Teaching/group Is Authentic?

    Indeed people, myself included at times, judge books by their covers 😉 and popularity doesn't guarantee authenticity just as obscurity doesnt equate with being unimportant or inauthentic for those who derive inspiration from it. The Coen Bros film Inside Llwyn Davis Davis is a good study on fame and obscurity... We all answer these questions in our own way. I think that people in general have failings and are in some ways compromised. Most spiritual teachings are likely compromised in places and accepting these things means that I don't need the author of a piece of writing or the origin of a teaching to have some sort of ultimate purity to be relevant to me or my spiritual work. Let's wait and see hehe. A couple of examples: Heidegger is acknowledged as one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century and yet dipped into social nationalism in Germany. One may have a well supported view that an ex-con should never be employed in role which exercises responsibility over prison inmates. However there are many examples of trained rehabilitated offenders being most effective in counselling and mentoring inmates ,and also post release, with a dramatic reduction in re-offending rates. See I don't think things are all black and white. (Aside: in Druidism we say we aren't aiming to be in the pure white light but rather a lighter shade of grey). I try not to judge somebody by the nature of their known associates. Its just not logical to go down that route even if it appeals to our emotions at times. "Don't listen to her because she is friends with so-and-so -so" - it just doesn't ring true does it...? Likewise while a person's reputation may be coloured by any misdemeanours or errors that they have made, to me the worth of their other actions is not completely compromised by those errors. Showing responsibility for the implications of the errors is the important thing. I really like this take on things, Ellinas. Nurturance implying growth with a lack of dogma and therein a respect for honestly held perspectives.
  4. Moonsmith

    How To Tell If A Teaching/group Is Authentic?

    Totally agree ED ......but..... Desiderata was originally marketed as being of the seventeenth century but in fact written in 1927. Would it have been so popular originally published under its authentic attribution? Why not? How widely are his other poems known? What about this guy? He had a huge following. Would anyone have listened to Archibald Stansfield Belaney of Hastings? Are they any more authentic because we now know who these people are? Any less so? How has their credibility been affected? What about the effect of their writing; has that changed? Shall the Writings of Moonsmith lose all their value once my true identity is known?
  5. I noticed this week just how quickly the year had flown by. One moment it seemed I was welcoming the Spring after the Beast from the East had left our shores. Smiling at the blooming Spring flowers, enjoying the Blackthorn, the Pussy Willow, the Mayflower, and what seemed like the next day watching the leaves turn red and yellow, hearing the Autumn storm winds outside, and the nights have drawn in once more. Boom. Gone. In past years I would now begin to retreat. I really enjoy the time between Samhain and New Year. I’m not a Bah Humbug when it comes to Christmas, but after new year, January to early April, I seem to wish the time away. I’ve had enough of dark evenings and cold by then. And this year, above all others, I’ve realised what a mistake that is. I literally wish away a quarter of the year. Sometimes if the S.A.D. hits early that wishing away can start as early as November. Not good. So this year I am making a pledge, a promise. I will find those things of beauty you Winter lovers enjoy. I will seek out the magic and wonder, and enjoy the rest of the Autumn and the approaching Winter, and embrace it all with open arms. If I find myself wishing for the Spring and the warmth of the Sun I’ll remind myself that every day is precious. Who knows if tomorrow will ever come? I will remind myself that the Now is here, and to live in the moment. Maybe that will help to slow down time a little, who knows, but there is no wisdom in wishing away an entire season. So, Autumn and Winter, I welcome you, season of mists, and of cold. Of the womb of darkness, and the embrace of the night, the crisp sunny day, and the wet, cold mud beneath my walking boots. I look to you with love, affection, and cast away my years of distaste, of turning away, of not seeing or feeling the power that resides within your cold and icy days and nights. Be gentle, be harsh, be what you truly are, and allow me to experience the wonders you bring. So mote it be. Are you a Winter person? What is it about the season that brings you so much joy? Help me out. Let me into your world. View the full article
  6. Earlier
  7. I haven't read my cards for some time but I used to do free readings while conducting my Sunday car boot stall and I just read as I saw them although I did once, years ago, learn the 'meanings'. My mum was a country girl and tarot reader and she got my interest going back some 25 years ago or more.
  8. wandering_raven

    [Llewellyn] What Are Ghosts? And Why Do We Believe in Them?

    I find the whole thing about ghosts really interesting, even though I don't believe in the supernatural (well, I keep an open mind given that no matter how much we discover with science, you can always conceive of there being something beyond it, out of reach of what can be measured - but I don't believe anything specific of what that might be, if anything). I can think of rational/scientific explanations for most of the accounts of hauntings I've come across. The accounts of hauntings on planes as a result of aircraft parts being salvaged from a particular plane crash and put in other planes is particularly interesting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90P6sWZPpCc (though what I find scary is the fact that they thought it was a good idea to use these parts in other aircraft to begin with - never mind supernatural, just from the fact that you can't tell there's been no damage at the microscopic level due to the impact and stresses on the parts that might make them unsafe.) But apparently they stopped doing this due to reports of hauntings, not safety concerns. Some interesting stuff in the comments of the video as well. What's hardest to explain from a scientific point of view is if any of the people who reported the hauntings weren't aware that the parts had been reused. If you know about it it might prime your brain to interpret ambiguous stimuli as something related to the crash, but if you don't know then your brain isn't primed that way...
  9. Rainbow from the Long Man – Billie Wilson We had our Samhain open ritual at the Long Man of Wilmington this past Sunday. According to the calendar date we were a little early, but as I spoke about in this recent blog post I don’t see the four Fire Festival dates as fixed to the human calendar. To me they arrive when certain natural forces occur. So Imbolc will be when the snowdrops deck the forests and hedgerows, or when I see the first Spring lambs born. Beltane when the hedgerows are dripping with May flowers (one Hawthorn in blossom does not Beltane make). Lughnasadh when I see the harvesters out in the field and John Barleycorn is making that annual sacrifice, and Samhain with the first proper frosts. Sure enough the icy-chill breath of the Cailleach arrived dead on time on Sunday. About 60 of us made the trek up to the flat circular hill below the Long Man and there I cast the circle as the rim of the Cauldron of Annwn, calling forth the mists of the Otherworld to fill the centre of our circle, the veil to part, and for those who had passed away to hear our voices through the veil, to hear their names being spoken, to know that they are not forgotten, and that they live on in our hearts. It’s an important ritual for many people and we do it the same way each year. That familiarity creates a safe haven for open emotion and connection. We blessed the circle with fire and water, invited the Spirits of the Four Directions to be with us, and spoke the Gorsedd Prayer upon the hill, under the gaze of the Long Man, and the ancestors above. Someone then stepped forward and spoke for the Fey, who are always with us, but who are closer still at the time of Samhain, as the Wild Hunt rides out. The next spoke for the Cailleach – the every-present Spirit of Death who walks beside us, and who’s hand takes ours when we are led across the veil. And then spoke the Ancestors, of blood, of spirit, of tradition. From those who were buried within the round barrows above the Long Man’s head, to those who have taught us, and those who gave us life, been a part of our lives as friends or relations, and have moved on. We then invited anyone who wished to step into the circle, into the mists of the Otherworld, and speak out the names of loved ones who had passed away. To speak their names, not just “my Nan” for as long as that name is spoken out loud, into the air of this world, so they will never be forgotten, and with the veil of Samhain, thin and delicate, they hear their name being spoken from that Other place. There were tears. There are always tears. And that is good. As any magician will tell you the open expression of emotion in any act of magic can only add to the potency of the spell, or the moment, and it was truly apparent there within the Samhain circle. After the names had been spoken, and we confirmed that people were complete, I then took the ashes of a beautiful friend to the edge of the circle, introducing who she is, why she wished to add her Spirit to the Spirits of Place and the ancestors of the hill, then scattered her ashes at the bottom of a small blackthorn tree. There she joins Alex Sanders, Doreen Valiente, and many of our other ancestors of our traditions who have chosen to be scattered upon this Sacred Hill. As Eisteddfod was proclaimed we shared a symbolic feast with those whose names we had called, and poets, storytellers and singers gave their offerings. All around us small rainstorms were swirling, and within those storms many rainbows appeared, but the hill remained mostly dry, blessed occasionally by a gentle shower of rain. Then the Rite was complete. We swore the Druid Oath of Peace together, filled the air with the Song of Awen, then thanked the Spirits of the Four Directions and I closed the circle, withdrawing the Otherworldly mist, and the Cauldron’s rim, from that place. Hugs, smiles. Then down to the Giants Rest for a pint. I know how busy peoples’ lives are right now, and sometimes there just isn’t time for a ritual as complex as this, but I always think it a shame if people want to celebrate a festival, and be within its energies, yet for whatever reason let it pass by. Do that often, and a feeling of disconnect grows, and that isn’t a nice feeling. So if any part of the ritual above inspires you to include any of it in your evening tonight, tomorrow, or whenever you celebrate, please use what you wish! Even if it is as simple an act as leaving a vacant seat at your dinner table for the ancestors to join you, maybe with a candle upon the place mat, then make that your ritual. A photograph of a loved one placed on your altar, a candle lit in your window, bringing to mind someone who has passed away, none of these are massive time-consuming activities, but just help to keep us stay connected with our paths, and honour the time of year. Of course it might be that Samhain has nothing whatsoever with the Thinning Veil for you, in which case do whatever feels right for you. I’m certainly not trying to tell anyone what to do, just to maybe drop a little seed-thought of an idea for those who are searching. Whatever you do, or are doing to celebrate Samhain here in the Northern Hemisphere, may you be inspired, and may the Wild Hunt pass you by! Peace, and blessed be. View the full article
  10. Essential oils have been used for thousands of years, from enhancing religious rituals to promoting wellness. And, they're easier than ever to procure. But, actually using them can be a daunting task. Here, Essential Oils for Emotional Wellbeing author Vannoy Gentles Fite provides five easy, everyday ways we can use essential oils to heal our emotional and spiritual needs. View the full article
  11. herneoakshield

    Do You Have A Sacred Animal?

    Fox and Magpie are two that instantly come to mind. Fox has been important to me after a series of very intense dreams, and subsequently in several meditations.
  12. Bel04

    Do You Have A Sacred Animal?

    Hi there, I feel like I should disclose that I am not really religious or spiritual, but just signed up here to learn more about my Celtic ancestry. When I saw this topic I did want to comment though. I feel I have a strong connection with animals. Since I could first speak I’ve been insistent on always keeping them. I’ve had a whole dynasty of various rodents haha as well as a Dog. I get very emotionally attached to animals. Most recently I broke up with my s.o. of approx. 2 years. I was more upset about leaving because of the cats! 🤭😳 Especially Fluffy. Strongest bond I’ve ever had with any animal. In one argument (prior to breaking up with my ex) He was yelling at me from the top of the stairs and I was at the bottom of the stairs by the front door, and Fluffy walked out from behind him and came and sat right next to me and just looked at him. I didn’t read to much into it until afterwards when my ex commented on it. It was like she was taking my side. I still miss her. As a child I was also very much interested in all things equine. I rode horses and was forever reading books on them. However, I can’t say that there is a single animal I prefer above all others. I am quite keen on keeping a reptile though, as I’ve never had one before. Also, I’m vegan which is largely because of how I feel regarding animals being farmed industrially and slaughtered in conveyer belt style fashion.
  13. Jon

    Genuinely Good Reading

    black elk speaks, is a good read, and a brilliant one for comparative thought, though it is a native american reference book. a general reading list for any specific religion or pantheon should include all the myths, stories and works, preferbaly the source material rather than an opinion piece, preferably with a thought to author bias at times, for the north the list would include, prose edda, poetic edda, saxo gramaticus gesta danorum and sagas of the icelanders, paired with a look at other resources, thats a good starter of books, with various authors and publication dates. more up to date material, me up to date? i will put in a different section as it isnt really book based. some editions have been written by dr jackson crawford, who although still having a habit of labeling things good and evil and continuing with that theme, does have good credibility and skill in translation and does think about the material. if its terry pratchett it is a good read, that is an excellent start for thinking.
  14. So how did this all happen? The first thing to do was to delve into the scholarly work that had been done on the Second Branch of Y Mabinogi. The background research, the exploring, finding books old and new, the familiar thud as they fall through the letterbox, then reading, reading, reading. I quickly found there were a lot of opinions on the origins of the Second Branch tales. Some suggested the entire tale was the story version of the poem attributed to the Bard Taliesin called the Preiddeu Annwn, or The Spoils of Annwn. Some said the tale originated in other Irish stories, some tried to break the tale down into the component parts and place them in Ireland and Wales. Some suggested historical Welsh figures as the inspiration for Bran. A fascinating time as those shady areas are suddenly illuminated with light, and I stepped in, to see what looked useful, and what might be a distraction. Eventually the books began to repeat themselves, and I realised it was time to move on. By then the tale was very familiar and I began to see the moments in the story that would be best told through music and song. Again, not too many – I wasn’t writing a broadway musical here, this was a continuation of the work began on the First Branch, and I wanted that same feeling to blend into this tale. Eventually, once all Four Branches are finished, I want people to be able to listen all the way from Branch One to Four and feel they are hearing one story. What a night in that would be. So I found the places where the songs would enhance the Journey. The next stage was to write the spoken word parts. As with the First Branch I wanted people who had read/would read the current translations know that the story had been honoured, and nothing had been changed (no Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings/Hobbit alterations here), but the discoveries made by later researchers must also be placed within the tale, so the translations are honoured, but these are our versions of the story, for our time, with all we have learned about them since the 1300s when they were originally written down. So the tapping of the Mac keyboard fills the room, and I go off on a Journey, bringing in closer encounters with Taliesin, who was one of the survivors of the Great Battle, and decorating the tale with the findings of those Mabinogi scholars. My good friend Kristoffer Hughes was once more my pronunciation coach, and boy did I need his help with this one. There were so many names. So I went through the text, highlighted the words and names I needed help with, and sent them off to Kris. A few days later audio files appeared in my Facebook Messenger inbox and there they were, all spoken three times so I could get my tongue around them. For this Englishman I will readily admit that some of those names were a challenge, but this is important to me. This recording would be around for many years, and I wanted them to be right. Also, when we look at some of the epic Bardic tales and poems they have lists of names, and they are there for a reason. So once more I am deeply thankful to Kris for his help and coaching. In Spring the Beast from the East arrived. All traffic stopped, light aircraft from Shoreham airport was grounded. The house and the road outside fell silent. So on the day the snow fell deep and white, I was in my studio recording the spoken word for Y Mabinogi the Second Branch. One day, and it was done. Thank you Weather Gods. Kristoffer Hughes travelled all the way from Anglesey to Sussex to record the Welsh spoken word as the Scribe opens this album, just as he opened the First Branch. He also spoke the words “He who is a Chief, let him be a bridge”, an important moment in the tale and I wanted that phrase in Welsh – I had no idea how I would use it at the time, but knew it would be needed, and it was. Then Kris was the first person to hear the spoken word story from beginning to end, before any of the songs had been put into place. All was well. Now comes the songs. This always takes longer. I knew what the songs would be about, but I had no melodies or lyrics. So I took them one at a time. I spent time thinking about the atmosphere the song needed to bring, what needed to be said, where they should end so the narrative would pick things up seamlessly. Lots of thinking, lots of singing as I walked along the riverbank with Oscar, lots of weird looks as I walked past people, not really noticing them, lost in the moment as the melody and song ideas began to come together. In the end I finished them all and thus the recording of the songs could begin. I took a week where I had no distractions, nothing else disturbed me. I went into the studio, and recorded the songs. What an incredibly creative week that was! As I’ve said on the blog before there were no places for uplifting Damh the Bard anthems here. This was the soundtrack to a war. I needed battle horns, lots of drums, and epic scoring. It also needed moments of real emotion, of heartbreak and sorrow. This album took me to places I had never really explored, and I learned a lot during the process. The folk singer Blanche Rowen agreed to sing on the album as Branwen. Just as when I first heard S J Tucker sing, and knew she had to be my Rhiannon, so Blanche was my Branwen. Blanche has a beautiful mezzo-soprano voice, is a Welsh speaker, and has that strength with vulnerability in her voice that Branwen needed. When I first heard Blanche sing on her two songs I confess, I cried, and that was absolutely the right response. As I wrote the last song on the album The Birds of Rhiannon I realised that Rhiannon would once more be with Pryderi, and thus another Damh the Bard/S J Tucker duet finishes the songs on the album. SooJ’s performance on this song is heart-achingly beautiful, and once more she brought the nurturing and protective aspect of Rhiannon into the story with her amazing voice. The moment when the songs are dropped into the spoken word is a magical moment. I cut the audio, create the space, drop in the mixed song, and then play that section through. Goosebumps. Every time. What you hear is exactly how they were placed. I changed nothing about them, and somehow they all worked. So the next stage was the mastering of the songs, and then the album was ready to mix down, and play to a few people. I invited members of my Druid Grove around, and a few other friends, made them all a cuppa, and they sat through the entire album. This was the ‘Beta Test’ night. I wanted to hear their criticism, I wanted to hear if anything jarred. When you are so close to a project sometimes things pass you by, so this was a really important night to me. I’m deeply grateful I have very honest friends. The story worked really well, but there were just a few tiny adjustments – the spoken word starting too early after a song, music beginning too quickly after dialogue, that kind of thing – so I made the adjustments the next day and that was the album finished. I bounced it down into audio tracks, and it was done. Cerri then began the artwork and what an incredible job she has done with this album cover. In a way these Y Mabinogi albums are making me lament not just the decline of CDs sales, but the loss of vinyl. These would have made incredible gatefold album covers. Those who listen on streaming services will never see the inside of the CD booklet and cover she created. It’s a genius work of art. Those who buy the downloads will see the main cover, as a tiny jpeg on the screen. It really is a shame, but thus is the ‘progress’ of music consumption. But here’s a thing. When all four albums are out my plan is to create a beautiful box that all four CDs can slip inside. It’ll have Damh the Bard – The Four Branches of Y Mabinogi on the side with more great artwork on the front. A collectors piece. So maybe that will encourage more people to buy the CD, and thus enjoy Cerri’s work. So the album is now finished. I have uploaded the audio and images to my music aggregator, and they are in the process of sending it off to iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, all the usual digital services. It’s be available there on the 16th November. But the CD and download are already available to pre-order directly from my store on my website. If you pre-order either the CD or the download from me you will get an email on the 9th November, a week before it’s available anywhere else, that will have a download link so you can start listening to the album straight away, even while the CD is travelling to you by post. As with the First Branch, if you can, reserve 1 hour 20 minutes just for yourself. Light a candle, pour a nice Single Malt (or whatever drink you like) sit down, and listen to the entire album in one go. Treat it like a movie, and let me take you on an epic Journey. As ever, thank you, thank you, thank you for supporting my work, whether that is the music, the concerts, the podcasts, whatever. It truly is an honour to serve the community and be part of something that will, I hope, be there for many generations to come. If you want to pre-order the new Y Mabinogi – The Second Branch album, you can do that my clicking this link right here. I cannot wait for you all to hear it! View the full article
  15. History has shown us that ghosts and the paranormal appear to be almost commonplace, all across the globe. But, ghosts take on so many forms, from a poltergeist to a sound to a visible being. So, what exactly is a ghost? And why do we believe in the? Haunted Castles of England author JG Montgomery explains. View the full article
  16. Yep. I'm learning now how much our emotions colour our perception of a situation. Have begun using EFT to help free myself emotionally and it is helping look at situations more rationally.
  17. Stonehugger

    [A Cauldron Full of Stars] The problem with Sisterhood

    Are there different kinds of friendship though? I've struggled a bit for a couple of years with some mental health inconvenience which my very best friend in the world hasn't been much help with, but I have other friends who have carried me through the whole thing. There's not as much chemistry there but a huge amount of practical love. Nothing could ever come between me and "S" and their lack of empathy on this particular issue does nothing to cloud our friendship. The whole situation could easily have been the other way round. My general friendship group could be no help with something, or run out of patience very quickly, whereas S might be (and often has been) an angel (in the powerful sense). This year, in World Mental Health Week (or whatever it's called) I noticed quite a few public social media posts from people I know barely or not at all. They posted very general stuff like "make sure you talk to someone" or "make time for your friends" or "ask colleagues how they are". As an experiment, I replied to quite a few of them in a supportive but slightly needy manner. One post that I made got a few "likes" but nobody actually replied to any of them. So, just based on my tiny experiment, the personhood might make a few supportive noises on special occasions but basically does nothing. I'll stick with S.
  18. I went to a Buddhist meditation session once (by mistake - I was told it was a group therapy self-help group with a good facilitator!) and the only thing that has stuck in my mind was the facilitator explaining that any negativity we feel towards a situation is inside our heads. It's about us, not the situation. One of his arguments was that even though we might get quite frustrated with our spouses, our best friends can generally do no wrong. My best friend is opposite-gender and that may colour what I'm saying but it's true that I could never possibly be cross with them for more than a few seconds. My longsuffering spouse, on the other hand, can sometimes do nothing right in my eyes for hours at a time, which is outrageous really, especially considering that my grumpiness is inside me, not in the situation itself.
  19. Shownotes for DruidCast Episode 139 Forests – Willowolf – https://willowolf.bandcamp.com/releases Hallowe’en Song – Richard Tucker Talky Bit – The Use of Bones in Magic and Witchcraft – Gemma Gary – http://www.gemmagary.co.uk Troy books – http://www.troybooks.co.uk Children of the Sun – Willowolf – https://willowolf.bandcamp.com/releases Prologue (from Y Mabinogi – The Second Branch – Damh the Bard – https://www.paganmusic.co.uk DruidCast theme – Hills they are Hollow – Damh the Bard – https://www.paganmusic.co.uk For more information about the Druid tradition – https://www.druidry.org View the full article
  20. The moon in astrology represents the instinct to fulfill our emotional needs. Yet, a thorough understanding of our Moon in a sign and house is not complete without the context of its relationship to the rest of our natal chart and the other planets. In this excerpt from Llewellyn's Moon Sign Book, Amy Herring discusses the power of the moon and its planetary aspects have on our emotions. View the full article
  21. Most people think that reading the tarot is simply about memorizing the meanings of the cards. But, what if reading the tarot was not about memorization, but by understand intuitively what a card means to you? T. Susan Chang, author of Tarot Correspondences, illustrates how applying the tarot cards to our everyday lives can transform your reading from divination into magic. View the full article
  22. A couple of weeks ago, Aislinn had her cast removed. She hated it. It was noisy and scary and uncomfortable, and she was hysterical. After the cast was removed and the x-rays were taken, we were sent back to the waiting room to wait for the P.A. Aislinn was sobbing and clinging to me, and people kept looking at her with sad eyes. A little girl, who was Aislinn's age, but appeared to not speak any English, on the other side of the waiting room, calmly, silently walked over to Aislinn and gave her a Rainbow Dash sticker. The smiled at each other, and Aislinn's whimpers subsided to hiccups. Little kindnesses forge connections. They make life better. And they take so little from us and turn it into something bright and beautiful for someone else. Aislinn's fear was eased by something so small as a sticker. She held it in her hand for hours afterward, and she talked about it a week later. To make a kinder world, we need to start small. Smile. Hold a door. Wish someone a good day. Let that car that waited to merge in without yelling or honking. Share. It doesn't have to be a grand gesture, but you might be surprised to find that it can grow into something bigger and better than you imagined. View the full article
  23. Its almost Samhain and here they come again, the WITCH Questions.Have you ever noticed, that as fall begins and our energies surge within the mystic powers of Samhain, people want to ask us questions about our beliefs? But not so much those that would bring understanding, but Why? Why we are the way we are and what made us this way? Like something happened to make us Witches. Most questions I have heard and honestly dont mind answering. That is how we all learn and I do believe that View the full article
  24. I’ve always had a private love affair. We fell in love when I was at secondary school. I hunted her out in the library where she used to hang out. It was pretty exciting. To that very young Damh the things she showed me placed my feet upon a life journey. But over the years, every now and then, we lost touch. Other things took my attention. I guess it can happen to any relationship. Then over the past few weeks she got in touch again. Well, not really simply got in touch, she’s been quite insistent. At first I was a little worried I wouldn’t have space in my life for her like I used to, to the degree she obviously wanted, but then I realised that she had always been there, like a supportive friend, I just hadn’t taken as much notice of her as I could have. I guess maybe I took her a little for granted. As I reflect I remember now that Samhain was always her favourite time of year. As the nights grew longer she came out more, she was somehow more visible. As I sit here writing this I can feel her very clearly, close, like a comforting hand upon my shoulder. I think she’s also glad we are reconnecting again. But I have to be honest it feels a little naughty. The hand resting on my shoulder is the hand of magic, the hand of the unseen, the supernatural. It’s both soft and young, yet also boney and gnarled. She offers peace, connection, dreams, but she can also bring fear, disorientation, or maybe both of those feelings are the result of something else. Something more primal. Awe. I’ll come clean. It wasn’t spirituality that led me to the Druid path. It was those things I mentioned above. I was a 10 year old Fortean, searching the school library for books on the supernatural and the occult. I loved those old Victorian photographs of Mediums with their ectoplasm. The old black and white photographs of ghosts both scared and thrilled me. I loved horror films in the same way some people like rollercoaster rides. Hardly any surprise then that tales of an Otherworld and magic drew my attention, and when I discovered that there were many who saw that Realm as a reality, well, it was like seeing an enormous firework display on the horizon, all I had to do was get there. As I grew older I went to those Psychic Fayres that were once so popular. I bought as many of the books as I could find. I explored the practices of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (the magical society, not the far right political party…) and that led me to the books of Aleister Crowley. No, not a nice man at all, but his books on magic intrigued me. I joined a Magical Order and was initated as a Neophyte and began the journey of the magician. But magical Orders being as they can sometimes be, after a few years, this one imploded and dissolved, leaving me adrift and searching. That search led me to send off a stamped addressed envelope to a Druid Order called OBOD, and I that is where I found my new home. Magic is a potent energy to the modern Druid, but often it isn’t overtly visible, it is subtle. However to me magic, the Awen, have always been intrinsic to my Druid path. I am a polytheistic animist, and I feel the presence of the Otherworld even sitting here typing this, staring at an illuminated screen. I have sometimes seen that this way of viewing the world isn’t 100% popular, even with some Pagans. Rationality, atheism, particularly after the release of Dawkins’ The God Delusion certainly shifted the way some of my Pagan friends viewed the world and their Pagan path. I read it. It didn’t do that for me. I still feel that rational thinking is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master. None of my songs have ever been written using rationality as inspiration, I’m not sure any work of art has been created that way, and that to me is the flowing spirit of the Awen at work. I love this quote from rational thinker Philip Pullman: Trying to understand superstition rationally is like trying to pick up something made of wood by using a magnet. I’d go with that. It’s taken from this article and maybe reading it was another step in me needing to write these words. (Now if rationalism is your thing, please don’t think I’m suggesting you’re in any way wrong. If it works for you, fabulous. But ever since I fell in love in the school library all those years ago I have felt there is something else, something unexplainable, enticing, seducing, exciting. Rational thinking certainly has its place in my life, but it’s not my driving force. So that’s enough of that, time to move on.) In a couple of recent blog posts I asked if any of you had had what some may call supernatural experiences on your path, wondering if the culture of social media might sometimes make people fearful of expressing those moments that are labelled, sometimes in a derogatory manner, Personal Gnosis. Sure enough I had a lot of replies, mostly through private email. I read one on the recent OBOD podcast, DruidCast, and the response was encouraging – it seems there are many of you who feel this way too. So I’m going to try to read a few more over the coming months. I have been on this path, as Magician and Druid, for most of my life. It has been a passion of mine since as far back as I remember. To me the Druid Way is a mystical path, as well as a way of life, and a way of relating to the natural world. When I stand upon the hill below the Long Man of Wilmington to celebrate the festivals of the Wheel of the Year I’m not simply marking a season. I’m seeing the changes in the landscape as a magical dance between the Earth, the Sun and the Moon. The way the seasons change, the Moon waxes and wanes, the tides rise and fall, the way day turns to night, those cycles bring with them a deep and powerful mystical connection with not only the physical changes I feel with my senses, but with something else that is deep within me, and that also flows across the land, and out further into the cosmos. The power of inspiration, magic, life-force, the influence of the Otherworld, and the voices of beings whose tales we tell, and try to understand, is tangible at those times of seasonal change. The Oak is both an ancient living being, and also a portal and doorway to other lands. My wand is both a piece of Rowan wood, and a magical ally who has walked with me for many years. My Druid path is still very much the path of the Magician. It is the horse upon whose back I ride when I see the veil thin, and the high mountains of Annwn come into view. And I am forever thankful to you, my love, for opening my eyes all those years ago. View the full article
  25. UK Pagan

    [Llewellyn] The Magic of Cats

    The association between cats and witches goes back centuries, and modern days witches often find themselves drawn to cats, even if they don't use them in their magical practice. Little Book of Cat Magic author Deborah Blake details why cats are so magical, and how we can perform magicandmdash;with them and for them. View the full article
  26. I thought I’d open a can of worms today. Throw a hot potato in. You know, stir it up a bit. I don’t normally go there but I think, in truth, there is no one correct answer to this so it really doesn’t matter in the end – it’s all about how you personally relate to the seasons and the land around you. So what is this contentious topic…? Seasons But more to the point where they begin and end. BOOM! Ok, I’ll begin with my own relationship. For me the seasons have always begun on the Solstices and Equinoxes. I know, I know, before you frantically type “but it’s called Midsummer!” into the comments section hold off. I realise it’s called Midsummer and it seems that is because: The name came from a time when there were only two recognised seasons – Summer and Winter. Apparently Spring and Autumn were not early Anglo Saxon terms. Now I’m no linguistic scholar so that might be ‘fake news’, but it seems to be a thing. Steve Pollington, the well known Anglo Saxon scholar during one of his talks I heard said that the Anglo Saxons had a 12 day festival around the Solstices, the mid point of which were called the mid point of the festival. Hence ‘mid’ Summer and Winter. The seasons actually start on the days of the Fire festivals. So Summer begins at Beltane, the Summer Solstice is its mid point, and the Autumn begins at Lughnasadh with its height being the Autumn Equinox. Winter begins at Samhain and thus Midwinter is the Winter Solstice. Spring begins at Imbolc with the height of Spring being the Spring Equinox. I’m sure there are more but I’ll leave it there… But none of these actually work for me. When I look around at Lughnasadh the only thing I see nearing the end of it’s cycle is are the grass crops on the fields. The rest of Nature seems to be thoroughly enjoying the sunshine and heat. Imbolc may bring with it one flower, the snowdrop, thus announcing the beginning of Spring, but that gorgeous flower, and symbol of Imbolc apparently only arrived in Britain in 1597 and it was only noted in the wild in 1778. Imbolc is probably the coldest festival of the year. I simply have never been able to square the beginning of Spring on the 1st February and believe me I’ve tried. I’d like nothing more than that to be true, but the land, weather, plants just don’t tell me that’s true. The vast majority are completely asleep. Samhain the start of Winter. Oh please no. That’s way too early for this Sun worshipper. And I was always told that ‘Samhain’ meant ‘Summer’s End’, but according to the seasons starting on the Fire festival days Summer ended at Lughnasadh, unless you only have two seasons, Summer and Winter, then it makes total sense – Summer begins at Beltane and ends at Samhain, but no Spring or Autumn. So it seems to me that Britain is carrying with it countless cultural seasonal traditions, and trying to make them fit together, and they don’t, but that’s ok. We are also blending two very different ways of looking at the Solstices and Equinoxes particularly. The meteorological, and the astrological. Northern Meteorological Seasons According to the meteorological definition, the seasons begin on the first day of the months that include the equinoxes and solstices: Spring runs from March 1 to May 31; Summer runs from June 1 to August 31; Fall (autumn) runs from September 1 to November 30; and Winter runs from December 1 to February 28 Astronomical Seasons The astronomical definition uses the dates of equinoxes and solstices to mark the beginning and end of the seasons: Spring begins on the spring equinox; Summer begins on the summer solstice; Autumn begins on the autumn equinox; and Winter begins on the winter solstice. The beginning of each season marks the end of the last. Is it any wonder hardly any of us can agree? We had a long chat on our Grove about the seasons and there were some who follow point three above. I’ve tried for the past two years to see the changing seasons in that way – to see the changes through that lens, but to also compare it to how I’ve always related to the seasons before, ie, the Astronomical Seasons. I failed miserably and now will just go back to how I was before. Which is: Spring begins on the Spring Equinox – after the cold of Winter this is the point of the year when I see plants and trees really begin to wake up. But it’s still slow, even in March, but then April arrives, and that often breaks the cold, and suddenly there is that amazing Spring green, and the larger trees begin to join in as we approach the height of Spring, Beltane. Now the countryside is awash with green and blossoms, the birds are calling, the land is an explosion of activity. The weather is still changeable and not always exceptionally warm, but for me Beltane mark the height of Spring. Summer begins at the Summer Solstice – the green between Beltane and the Summer Solstice is a green that only stays for those few weeks. Once the Solstice arrives it begins to darken, and the warmth of Summer truly arrives. The days are long, the nights hot, yup, that’s Summer to me, and it reaches it’s peak at Lughnasadh. After 18 years of regular open rituals at the Long Man I can categorically say that Lughnasadh is the hottest, driest, most Summer festival of the year. There is nowhere to hide from the Sun up on the hill below the Long Man. The sunshine and heat continue, the trees are still in their Summer clothes, and the hedgerows are filling with Summer fruits. Autumn begins at the Autumn Equinox – The arrival of the Autumn Equinox brings with it a change in the quality of light, and brings those amazing Autumnal mists. It goes from a silver light, to a light with a golden tinge. The leaves of the trees now start to turn, the days begin to feel much shorter, but there is still warmth in that there ball on the sky. The height of Autumn to me is Samhain, when we are right in the depths of the season. The leaves are now really falling, but still many oaks and ash trees are holding on to theirs. We have had a number of Samhain rituals at the Long Man where we are still standing there in our T shirts, but after, the Cailleach’s breath arrives with the November winds, and soon the trees are bare, and the cold has arrived. Winter begins on the Winter Solstice – the trees stand bare, the mornings are crisp, and the land rests. January and February are always the coldest months here in Sussex. The hardest time of the year for me as a person who has S.A.D. I’m looking for signs of rebirth, and love the snowdrop when she appears. It reminds me that Springs is not too far away, but by Imbolc, the height of Winter, the land is icy, muddy, wet, and cold. The trees sleep, the land sleeps, but soon the buds of the Elder, Hawthorn, Willow will open, with the arrival of the Equinox. So I’ve tried my friends. I’ve tried to see things through another lens, but it just doesn’t work for me. As with all things Pagan it comes down to personal experience and connection. So please don’t ever think I’m telling you you’re wrong for seeing the changing seasons in a way that differs from mine – I’m not at all. I’m not even trying to ‘sell’ my way. It just works for me. So how do you relate to the seasons? Are you a ‘two seasons a year’ person? Do you feel happier with the meteorological approach? The astronomical approach? The Fire Festivals beginning the seasons? A blend of a number of ways? View the full article
  27. Samhain I still find it amazing how quickly after the Autumn Equinox the season takes hold. Maybe it’s the angle of the Sun to the Earth but the shade of light blends with a touch of gold, whereas the Summer sunshine, to my eyes at least, sparkles with silver, and with that change in light the leaves turn also. There is still a lot of green across the Sussex countryside, but the red of the abundant Haws, and the yellowing leaves of the Horse-chestnut is now colouring the forests and Downs, painting a watercolour only Nature Herself can create. With those colours, and earlier evenings, my thoughts begin to turn to Samhain, as the rooks call outside my window. Just as the turning tide of the waxing and waning Moon shows us the changing aspects of Magic, so the seasons reflect that also. The year is waning and, as the waning Moon opens us to reflect and consider, so too does the waning year. Of course life goes on as it always does, but if we are in tune with the cycles of Sun and Moon we can step beyond the Human constructs of commerce, entertainment, do-do-do and keep doing, don’t stop, be proactive, post that photo, make that Tweet, never stop, and be still. It’s a wonderful feeling. To notice the change in light, the Autumn colours, and step in tune, slow down, really observe. It can feel like you’re in one of those freeze-frame images, where you are in perfect focus, whilst the rest are a blur of activity. Although I love the Summer, I also love the Autumn, and this opportunity to take stock, look back, reflect, and open to the new possibilities of next Spring. But I know that by mid-January, I’m done with reflecting. I want to put things in motion, get going again, and maybe that’s why my relationship with the Winter is a little strained. I’m not sure that the seeds of my creativity need ‘over-wintering’. They don’t need a frost to germinate, but they have to get one anyway. But now isn’t the time to think of Spring, nor Winter, it’s time to be present, right now, and enjoy the perceptible wind-down. And Bones Autumn and Samhain also bring with them a very deep, Earthy magic. Yesterday I put together this month’s episode of DruidCast. It won’t go live until the 20th, but I like to have the show ready nice and early. This month there is a talk given at this year’s AnderidaFest by the author and Witch Gemma Gary. I introduce her by saying that “there are those who would like a Wicca that can happily sit and have tea and cucumber sandwiches with the local vicar. This talk isn’t like that”. And it’s the perfect Talky Bit for this time of year, as we approach Samhain. Gemma’s talk is on the ritual use of human and animal bones, in Witchcraft, and in Folklore. As I put the show together I wondered how many Druids and Pagans still have animal bones on their altars. I do. Bones have always been a part of my Path, particularly when it comes to Magic. I’ll give you an example. During a very difficult part of my life I asked for the help of an animal. This help came in the form of Seagull. The freedom they show when they fly, their survivor attitude, was inspiring, and helped me deeply. As I went for a walk one day on the local beach I found the body of a Gull. I knelt and asked the Spirit of this bird if it would be ok if I took its mortal remains. I got clear approval. So I took it home, and buried it in the garden near an ants nest. Some days later I got out a trowel, and dug up the remains. The ants had done their job. Very little flesh remained. The skull was perfect, and I took the wing bones, and put them in my travel guitar case. I have always been a nervous flyer, and so I asked these bones to bless my guitar, to keep it safe when we flew off to distant countries. But there was a problem with this… As we came into Australia one year I was pulled over by customs and asked to open my bags. Of course everything would be fine. I opened my bags, they had a rummage, all good. Then I opened my guitar case. There were the wing bones. “What are these?” asked the customs official. “Seagull wing bones,” I replied. “Why do you have bird wing bones in your guitar case,” she asked, A fair question really. “Erm. For luck,” I replied. “You do know it’s illegal to bring animal remains into this country?” she said. Gulp. “Er, no, I didn’t.” She looked at her colleague. Between them they agreed that four Seagull wing bones didn’t constitute animal smuggling, and they let me pass through, but I still remember the looks on their faces – they obviously thought me very weird, very weird indeed. When I got home after the tour I took the bones out of my guitar case. I put them on my altar, and they’ve been there ever since. Now before I fly I close my eyes, place my hands on the bones, and ask that my guitar be safe. I love bones, but respect is the key. I guess some would say that leaving the bones alone is more respectful. Well, that entirely depends on your own worldview, and if that’s you, I respect that, but it’s not how I work. If there is a powerful calling, I’ll listen, and follow where it leads, and if it leads to bringing home a victim of roadkill, then so be it. I look at other cultures (maybe you too saw the recent documentary with Grayson Perry where he looked at other cultures and their rituals around life and death) and see how some still have deep relationships with the remains of the dead, I totally get that. We are so shielded from death. The body is taken away, cleaned up, maybe filled with horrendous preserving chemicals, then the next time we ‘see’ it it’s in a box ready to go in the ground. I’m not at all sure our relationship with death is healthy, but it does explain why so many are squeamish when it comes to remains. I’d love to leave my skull for my family. I’m not sure they’d like it, but I wouldn’t be shocked or appalled if one of my sons asked if they could have a finger bone, or some other part of me, after I’d gone. I get that type of connection. The Ancestors Maybe that reads as a little odd, but I don’t think it is. Go back far enough and our ancestors here on this island would place the body of the deceased in a passage grave (sometimes after stripping the bones of the flesh), and then every year they would be taken out once more. We don’t entirely know why, but it must have been an honouring, a remembrance, a connection with the ancestors. I have no problem with that idea at all, in fact I think its lovely. But then I want a sky burial when I go, and as far as I’m aware that isn’t an option for me. It’s either go in the ground, or up in smoke, neither of which appeal. There’s good protein on this body of mine. Give me to the birds and animals. The Gods know I’ve eaten enough of their kin in my lifetime. Then collect my bones and do with them what you wish. And this is not just a Pagan thing. Consider the countless Christian reliquaries around that are venerated as the containers of the bones from Saints. The veneration of bones runs deep. Our ancestors understood the power and connection of bones. Our turning Wheel of the Year, and the cycle of the Moon reflect life, death, and rebirth. Folklore is littered with tales and customs of using bones in magic. Is the honouring of bones a part of your practice? If so, what do you do? View the full article
  28. Nerys

    Genuinely Good Reading

    Very useful book and I have two of it the original Natural Magic and the re-print Encyclopedia of Natural Magic - John Michael Greer. Explains the practise of natural magick and one learns to make many useful things with this book. Is also easy to read and comprehend. I am into Natural Magick since decades and this is my favorite book about it. Why do I have two of this?Late one night I was ordering books online and I think is a totally new book it is after I got it I see is only the cover and title is new. Llewellyn publisher sometimes does this. Few years later we had to move from a one level house to two level house and I keep one upstairs and one downstairs so it was useful having two.
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