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  4. Earthdragon

    How To Tell If A Teaching/group Is Authentic?

    Hi Moonsmith, it occurred to me on rereading your comment above to ask why such reviewing and potential re-jigging is an uncomfortable process for you? - for me there is a slight uneasiness if new conclusions about my spiritual practice might lead to a seeming lack of authenticity of any of my previous practice or experiences. Usually I am quite happy to delve into such things though - it feels a bit like being an explorer - it's interesting and it feels like I'm getting somewhere. Interesting question - firstly Ellinas framed his statement around beliefs ideas and experiences and I think it's important to encompass the diversity of the content of spirituality when talking about authenticity. In Buddhism for example, one would not generally think of oneself as having faith. In Druidism I can relate to having beliefs somewhat though ideas, pracrices and experiences are what I personally relate to most. My own take on spirituality is that it doesn't need to remain as an imprint of some previous generation's version. In terms of duality - for there to be a continuity of a spiritual system there has to be an ongoing connection to, for example, certain themes, deities, principles, locations, ideas, language, stories. These.connections have a discernable structure and a coherence which hearkens back to the original practice. But contrasting with this the is that for the spirituality to be authentic to the current practitioners, there has to be a liveliness and freedom in the way individual interpretation and experience is encouraged to feed into the whole thing. One way that this can happen is for space to be given within set rituals can be devoted to personal dedications. Hence there is chance for individuals to develop the theme of the ritual or add a different but compatible theme. As for developing a formula for the evolution of its tenets , I think that it may be possible though I personally see spirituality as a living experiential process rather than theoretical. No. One could argue the opposite - that forming a constitutional body which controls things may very well lead to a stymied development of individual spirituality which, informed though it is via the collective consciousness of this awesome world and it's inhabitants, relies on freedom rather than hierarchy and control to be creative and evolutionary. I think it boils down to how you define the essence of that system... one for another time maybe 🤣
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  6. Moonsmith

    Do You Have A Sacred Animal?

    A witch friend of mine kept dreaming of a wolf, sometimes with a girl and sometimes she felt she was the girl. This is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out of my anything zone but I sent her this picture: The title is "Wolf Protecting Girl". Now I am not into dream interpretation at all but we worked together on her thoughts. Like you she felt protected and calmed. We noticed that the eyes of both subjects are the same. Perhaps they were the same person. My friend laughed and pointed out that the wolf is better equipped to handle their current situation than is she in that weather. However she left with that thought: that girl and wolf were one. Later I mentioned the she-wolf and again she laughed. She had always thought of the wolf as male. Make of it what you will but you are not alone. [Deebs this picture is copyright - delete it if you think you should and I'll try and find a link. Failed so far.]
  7. WillowLily

    Do You Have A Sacred Animal?

    Wolfs are very special for me i keep seeing them in my dreams one of the things i see is a white wolf and an native American little girl they are calming and talk to me when i am feeling unwell they soothe me when am scared or upset i have seen wolfs in a nature reserve before there amazing and beautiful and i wish they where free i dont normally go to nature reserves or zoo i would like to see animals free I just became Vegan in the last few months i love animals there beauty and there uniqueness wolfs more so
  8. MEDIA RELEASE – NOV 27, 2018 Lost Souls European Tour expands into summer 2019 Includes outdoor concerts, festivals & heritage venues STRATFORD, ON – The multi-award winning Canadian singer-songwriter and musician, who in May 2018 released her first recording of original songs since 2006, has announced she is taking her Lost Souls Tour to Spain and Italy next summer, as well as adding performances in Germany. “We’re excited to be revisiting some places we’ve not been able to get to for some time, reconnecting with folks we haven’t seen for a while and to perform in some fabulous outside heritage venues.” says McKennitt. The Lost Souls Tour next summer will run from July 3rd through July 26th. Tickets go on sale November 30th, 2018. The summer performances follow a 25-concert spring tour encompassing ten countries in Central Europe between March 9th and April 8th 2019. In the event additional countries are added to the tour, they will be announced through McKennitt’s website and through newsletters sent to members of the Loreena McKennitt Community. Prior to embarking on the highly-acclaimed South American leg of the tour, McKennitt held several concerts in her home base, Stratford, Canada. Describing the show as “one of the finest performances McKennitt has ever given,” a reviewer for the Toronto-based online music publication spillmagazine.com said, “her voice is stronger than ever and the emotion coming from her as she sang is beyond words… Quite simply, one of the best shows I have attended this year.” The summer leg of the Lost Souls Tour will also feature fellow musicians Brian Hughes on guitars, oud and Celtic bouzouki, Caroline Lavelle on cello, Hugh Marsh on violin, Dudley Philips on double bass and Robert Brian on drums. While the concerts draw on her expansive catalogue of recordings, McKennitt also performs songs from her new album. Several of the songs on Lost Souls she composed some time ago. Others progressively took shape in the midst of more recent projects and journeys. A few draw on the poetry of John Keats and W.B. Yeats, while another evokes a distinctly Middle Eastern flavour. In Lost Souls, they all come together to create an artistically diverse and timely collection. The album was released in May as a CD and 180-gram vinyl record and through all music services, including iTunes, Apple Music and Spotify. Loreena McKennitt’s eclectic Celtic blend of pop, folk and world music has sold over 14 million albums worldwide. Her recordings have achieved Gold, Platinum and multi-Platinum status in 15 countries on four continents. She has twice been nominated for a Grammy Award and has won two Juno Awards, as well as a Billboard International Achievement Award. She has performed in some of the world’s most-respected and historic concert venues, from Carnegie Hall to the famous Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain and for dignitaries including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and numerous heads of state. In addition to her musical career, McKennitt has been recognized for a number of noteworthy philanthropic initiatives, including: • The Cook-Rees Memorial Fund for Water Search and Safety • Falstaff Family Centre • Honorary Colonel of the Royal Canadian Air Force In 2004, McKennitt was awarded the Order of Canada and in 2013 was appointed Knight of the National Order of Arts and Letters of the Republic of France. -30- ON SALE NOVEMBER 30 Jul 14 Abenberg, Castle Jul 15 Munich, Tollwood Jul 16 Berlin, Zitadelle Jul 17 Freiburg, ZMF Jul 18 Mainz, Zitadelle For more information or to request an interview, please contact press@quinlanroad.comor +1-519-273-3876 Share your thoughts and discuss this subject on our MessageBoard. The post Lost Souls European Tour expands into summer 2019 appeared first on Loreena McKennitt. View the full article
  9. I try to give my family great holidays, and frequently, that has meant that I turn myself inside out trying to do that. My plans for Thanksgiving were not grand, in comparison to some years (no roasting, scrapping and pureeing pumpkin for days to make the pies from scratch this year), but on Tuesday night, I found myself melting down over a series of individually minor mishaps that turned my expectations into ash. It started with the dishwasher dying at the beginning of the month, and the ensuing comedy of errors won't be resolved until December 3rd. Doing dishes by hand eats a lot of time. I fell behind on my holiday preparations, regular housework, and organization projects. Then we had a twelve-hour power outage that caused us to have to toss everything in the fridge and freezer and replace it. That was expensive and smelly. Then all of the orders I've placed for clothes for the kids, a prepared meal from Whole Foods for the holiday, and solstice gifts I ordered well in advanced because they were coming from overseas have all had problems. Add to that potty training the little one, a preteen with an attitude, and teenage snark, and you have me threatening to drink an entire case of wine at once. Thanksgiving came and went yesterday. The china and silver didn't come out. The tablecloth and candles stayed in their cupboards. The pie came from a box. I used Cool Whip instead of whipping cream. We had a good meal together. At the end of the day, I found myself, tired, relaxed, and surprised. By focusing on all of the misfortunes, I had lost sight of why I cared about making a great holiday for my family- I love them and I want us to have happy times together. Sometimes, it is so easy to miss the point. There are many distractions in life that will happily lead us off course into unrealities that trap us in illusions. We have to be careful to stop, look around, and be certain we know where reality is. View the full article
  10. Moonsmith

    How To Tell If A Teaching/group Is Authentic?

    I've just been re-reading this thread and this caught my eye: [My weekly comic causes me to undertake this kind of review on an uncomfortably frequent basis.] So: Where the founding thoughts of a faith are aged or ancient; to what extent should its followers allow it to evolve? Might it be possible to derive a formula for evolution from its tenets? or/and Does it always need a controlling body to reinterpret the original thinking into modern times? Judaism has Shul and Islam has its madrassas where elders discuss these things but it must be very difficult to control the promulgation of agreed thinking. Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism are only just catching up with environmental issues and have for a long time struggled with the development of society in Britain. I can only surmise that the solely bible based versions of Christianity find their planetary conscience outside of their founding reference. These re-thinks and add-ons tend to a natural diversity of thinking and often [historically] to schisms. Is it inevitable that the founding thinking becomes increasingly diluted or stretched? Where does the authenticity of a long established faith lie in such circumstances?
  11. the talk of authentic can also take a different turn, are they teaching something religous or spiritual or is it something else, is it an extension of politics or nationalism dressed up. that is a good question to ask. as is the question what is the focus of the group, is it focussed on justification of something otherwise reprehensible? is it focussed on justifying nationalism, racial purity and blood, is it focussed on specific individuals or specific interpretations of material that fit within a narrow viewpoint. anyone care for a wee jaunt into american folkish white supremacist nationalism for instance? thats one example that turns up daily in northern quarters.
  12. Shownotes for DruidCast Episode 140 The Gap of Dreams / Nia’s Jig / The Beekeeper – Altan – https://altan.ie The Talky Bit – The Anglo Saxon and Norse Runes – Suzanne Rance – http://www.suzannerance.co.uk Lady of the Lake – Lori Llyn – https://www.lori-llyn.com/index.html The Migration Medley – Afro Celt Sound System – https://www.afroceltsoundsystem.org.uk DruidCast theme – Hills they are Hollow – Damh the Bard – https://www.paganmusic.co.uk For more information on the Druid tradition – https://www.druidry.org View the full article
  13. 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.
  14. 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?
  15. 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
  16. 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.
  17. 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...
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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
  29. 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
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