Category Archives: Druid News

The Pagan and The Pen

Druid Life started as a column on a wordpress blog for Pagan authors – https://thepaganandthepen.wordpress.com/ . When I started I half expected the Pagan Police to show up and tell me I wasn’t allowed to do it. Impostor syndrome is a bit of an ongoing issue for me. I angsted over the title, worrying that this would sound too definitive, too dogmatic. On the whole, I think I’ve got away with it. For various reasons, the column became and almost every day thing. I felt a bit out of kilter with some of what was happening at the site, and founder C.S. Scarlett left. I followed her a little while later and set this up instead. This was all about five years ago.

Then out of the blue this year, C.S. Scarlett got in touch with me. The Pagan and The Pen had fallen by the wayside. No one had posted to it for several years. Could I still get in? I could. We reclaimed it, and restarted it. There followed a lot of spring cleaning, removing the reams of book promo. It’s a problem with inexperienced authors – the temptation to use something successful as an easy way to flog books. What you end up with is wall to wall book promotions and no actual readers. It’s been great fun seeing who wanted to come back, and what could be re-thought.

I’m doing a few things. I’ll be putting up monthly book news – a single post for the releases of new Pagan titles. Contact me if you have something you’d like me to share. We’re doing one post a month, or so, of reviews – again all Pagan titles, picked out by in house reviewer Cosmic Dancer. I’m also looking after the monthly featured artist column, and for the first month of me doing this, I featured Jacqui Lovesey from Matlock the Hare – you can read that here – https://thepaganandthepen.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/jacqui-lovesey-artist-and-illustrator/

Also on The Pagan and the Pen – daily festivals from ancient calendars, herb lore, Sheena Cundy’s music column, Laura Perry writing about Minoan spirituality, and no doubt more as we get into the swing of it. I’ve wanted a project like this for a while – heavy on lifestyle, community and creativity, with multiple contributors. There are a few other collective Pagan sites out there – Patheos Pagan site, Witches and Pagans, Sage Woman… but I think this one has enough of its own style to contribute.


Druid Camp

At this early stage, much of Druid Camp is a mystery. I know I’m looking after a contemplative space. I know James Nichol will be talking about contemplative Druidry, and that there will be chanting – I’m hoping for an Enchanting the void session from J.J. Middleway, and I’ve got designs on doing some awen soaked anarchic music experimenting. Probably on the Wednesday night. I may well lead some meditation sessions – what and how much depending on who else wants to do what, and how much. Part of the joy of Druid Camp is that there’s a lot of flexibility, a lot of space to go with what happens and follow the inspiration. I’m really looking forward to it.

 

DCamp15


Winter Pagan Camping

For any Pagans in the UK looking for a winter Pagan muster, this is well worth your consideration…

http://www.rainbowfutures.co.uk

wintergathering_flyer


Breaking News!

This is such exciting news…

Down the Forest Path

TDN to join Inter Faith Network

On the 29th of September 2014, at the Annual General Meeting of The Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom (IFN UK), The Druid Network (TDN) was admitted to Membership.

IFN works to promote understanding, cooperation and good relations between organisations and persons of different faiths in the UK.

In April 2012, IFN refused the first application for membership of The Druid Network due to its current membership policy restricting membership to the ‘big’ nine faiths.  This refusal resulted in TDN becoming involved in dialogue with IFN, with a view to reviewing their membership policy to become both more inclusive and to remove any suggestion of discrimination against minority faiths.  Other interested parties also took up this challenge and this led to a meeting, hosted in the House of Lords, discussing religious freedom within the UK. This meeting was held in November 2012 and representatives of some twenty…

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Cake and tentacles

 

 

Bird dances with moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we are out as part of the Open Studios bit of Stroud’s SITE festival we aren’t in the program, we aren’t opening a studio, but our kind friend Grizelda Holderness invited us to do a stint at her show in Woodruffs cafe, and so ‘Cake and tentacles’ was born. Woodruffs will be supplying the cake! Tom may supply the tentacles, as he will be propped against a table, drawing. And as for me…

I said I’d write silly verses and flash fiction to order. On a good day, I can do small custom pieces on demand. On a good day, the inspiration and words flow with ease. How do we tell if it’s a good day? I won’t know until I get there. Fun and games! Nervous? Only a lot.


Druid News for September

In no kind of chronological order at all!

Peace One Day is the 21st of September – that’s a Saturday this year. It being so close to the autumn equinox, it’s very easy to simply include a contemplation of and dedication to peace in any autumn equinox ritual you were undertaking anyway. Have a look at http://www.peaceoneday.org and consider the scope of all these many gestures and efforts combining. I shall be out locally on the 21st. If there isn’t a local event you can support, consider starting something. Peace One Day is an excellent opportunity for working with other communities and faith groups, too.

We also have the autumn equinox pending, which some groups may choose to celebrate as well as Peace One Day. I find the equinoxes tricksy things to celebrate, as they have less historical underpinning and it’s never quite so obvious what to do with them. However, that balance of light and dark, and whole the notion of balance are well worth pondering. Are we in balance because we’re got it just perfectly right, or because the many different tensions and pressures equal out to give an illusion of stability?

On the local front, there’s a really exciting event coming up in September, so if you can make it to Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK, do consider coming along. I think this is an event worth travelling for if you are a bit further afield.

Awen Forum, Sunday 8th September at 7.30pm, Stroud Subscription Room for the third in a series of inspiring talks, poetry, story & song. Q&A, and discussion, prompted by author talk/performances.

SACRED ACTIVISM: For the finalé of the first series of Soul Food Sundays, something special. Stroud-based Awen Publications presents a feast of friends gathering in the Ballroom to explore the theme of ‘Sacred Activism’. From the USA, inspirational speaker and author Andrew Harvey (Radical Passion: Sacred Love and Wisdom in Action) is joined by the Poet of King’s Cross, Aidan Andrew Dun (Unholyland) and the exquisite piano of Lucie Rejchrtova, who together conjure hypnotic soundscapes; the soul-full poetry of Jay Ramsay (Places of Truth) and Herewood Gabriel on ballophon; the shamanic songsmith James Hollingsworth (guitar wizard The Independent); and the powerful words of Philip Wells, The Fire Poet. Through radical poetry, music and beautiful speech, they will be exploring the evening’s theme in their own unique, creative way. A discussion will follow, in a Conversation Cafe chaired by Trish Dickinson. Hosted by Jay Ramsay and Kevan Manwaring.

Tickets £15.00 (£12.00 concs) from Stroud Tourist Information Centre on 01453 760900 or online from http://www.subscriptionrooms.org.uk

Also Saturday the 14th September, Druid Con, Arena Theatre Wolverhampton, 10am -7pm, with Emma Restall Orr, Ronald Hutton, Philip Shallcrass, Loraine Munn, Phil Ryder and Paul Mitchell, http://www.druid2013.weebly.com for ticket information, online ticket purchases (cheaper in advance than on the day) venue information and all good stuff of that ilk. Being a huge fan of Ronald Hutton myself, and very much liking Paul Mitchell’s music I can definitely recommend it as an event.

If you’ve got something going on that you’d like me to do a shout out for, drop me a line. If you have a Peace One Day event, an autumn equinox muster or anything else going on in the foreseeable future that you want to share, pile into the comments section please!


Camping it up

We’re off to Druid camp. We’ve pondered what on earth to pack, what might not go off in a field in hot weather, what clothes might be useful, and we’ve borrowed a tent. We’ve got the buses all figured out, and yes, as Tom asks from the background, I did pack the tin opener. Mister Cat is off on a vacation of his own, where he will no doubt be pampered silly. It’s the closest we’ve been to having a holiday in a couple of years, but I think we’ve earned a breather.

There’s going to be music, and I’m taking my violin, in the hopes that I might be able to jam with some people. That’s a bit nerve-wracking, I’ve done so little playing out lately. There are workshops to run, and I’ve done more of that lately with other events, but still, the frisson of nerves are a given. The lingering fear that, like Rimmer from Red Dwarf when faced with an exam paper, I will say ‘I am a fish’ four hundred times, do a little dance, and pass out.

I did consider taking the computer, as there should be some electricity and I can get online via Tom’s phone. I considered blogging in situ. Then I thought… what is the point of going to sit in a field with a lot of other Druids, if I insist in taking the trappings of my working life with me? So, the comp stays at home. I’m going to use the power of wordpress to set up a few things to post automatically, so that there’s some content passing through, but nothing too arduous. I’ll be back on Sunday, and whatever state I’m in can be announced to the world at that point. I’m pretty sure no one actually needs a blow by blow account.

I’m very excited that I’m going to be meeting Kevan Manwaring for the first time. We’ve been talking online for years, so this is going to be quite a moment. I’m looking forward to listening to Ronald Hutton, and seeing if I can put some rather odd questions to him. Not the sort of thing likely to result in a restraining order, I hasten to add! Talis Kimberly will be there with her band, so listening to her is high on my wish list, too. There are so many people I haven’t seen in months, and probably too many people I haven’t seen in years, so I’m planning to spend as much time as I can making contact. It’s possible there will even be some Druidy stuff. My workshops are music orientated, so I’m not planning any formal Druiding, I don’t feel any urge at all. We’ll see what happens, and what the connections between people lead to. It will be enough to have my bottom on the ground and nothing else to be thinking about.

If you are going, I’m going to sneakily mention that I have a box full of books – mostly Druidry and the Ancestors, and Druidry and Meditation. I have a few copies of Intelligent Designing, a handful of Professor Elemental comics, and one display copy of Hopeless Maine. We’ve nearly sold out of volume one! Tom will also be carrying art and I hear rumour of a market place on Saturday. Hmm, that’s a bit like work…. But it’s days away.

Forest of Dean, land of my ancestors (well, some of them!) here I come. I shall gaze upon your rolling hills, and enjoy the different view of my beloved River Severn, and try very hard not to kick Kris Hughes if he gives the talk about how no one round here honours Sabrina. Mind you, he’s bigger than me…


Druid Camp

In just over a week’s time, Druid Camp kicks off in The Forest of Dean. I’ve been before as a day visitor, but this is my first go at doing the whole thing. The lovely organising folk invited me to come and do some stuff. Mostly at the moment the closest I get to holidays is going nice places for work purposes, so being able to work a ticket to Druid Camp means a lot to me. It also gives the boy a splendid few days of free ranging and experiencing, as he will no doubt be getting involved with the yoga and exploring his new enthusiasm for all things woolly.

Druid camp offers a huge breadth of experiences and opportunities. Dance, yoga, stav, arts, crafts, music, sweat lodge, rituals, talks, workshops, entertainment. Leading lights, such as Ronald Hutton, Kevan Manwaring and Kris Hughes will be there. All manner of people from the Druid community will also be sharing their thing. It’s a great opportunity to learn, connect and be inspired.

I shall be teaching two forms of subversive creativity. I’ve been in plenty of circles that feature chanting and/or drumming. Either it’s a brief process, rapidly burned out by boredom and self-consciousness, or it tends to be a lengthy opportunity for tediousness. Chanting and drumming tend towards the repetitive. Now, there is a theory that through repetition we clear the mind, entering trance-like and meditative states. This is fine if you’re a dedicated practitioner. However, if you’re just some regular soul who turned up at a circle, ennui is far more probable than enlightenment.

There are ways of taking chanting and drumming, and developing them creatively. These are the most basic forms of human music, (no drums required even, we can do improvised percussion). Keeping it basic makes it easy to get involved, but learning to play with it makes the process more interesting. Then, if you can really give yourself into the experience, really engaging with the music you make with the people around you, it can have a real effect. When we do these things creatively, opening to inspiration and awen, attentive to each other, amazing things can happen.

What we do in these workshops can be taken back into ritual. The percussive approach is especially good, because a ritual circle can be encouraged to go through their pockets for things to improvise with, try sticks, stones, their bodies, the person next to them…. Engaging with the space to find the means to make sound, is powerful all by itself.

The basis of subversive music making, is actually listening. Rather than banging away on our own drum, or belting out another round of ‘we all come from the goddess’, subversion begins when we undertake to really listen to each other, and the quite that holds the space we are in. There’s a lot more to drumming and chanting than just making noise.

Do come along and play with me next week, http://www.druidcamp.org.uk if you need more information. If you would like me to bring a little musical subversion to your circle, let me know. Also, if you’re doing a thing at Druid camp, do tout it in the comments.


A slowness of books

I rather thought I’d have my third Druid title handed into the publisher before midwinter, last year. It didn’t happen, not least because I was very ill. My first 2 titles (Druidry and Meditation, Druidry and the Ancestors) both came out in 2012 and I was aiming to keep up a good pace there. It’s not quite gone to plan, I’ve had issues of block, weariness and too much everything else… Then Trevor over at Moon Books suggested I write a smaller book for the Pagan Portals line. I jumped at the chance, and the result – Spirituality without structure will be out in the not too dim and distant future. It was an interesting book to write, allowing me to use much of the wider research from the current Druid title, and it helped me focus my thoughts.
Spirituality without structure is an exploration of how to construct your own path, without being confined by conventional religious structures and systems. More of that nearer the time!

The first draft of the next title exists in hand written form. I’m a bit ‘old school’ in that I’m happier creating books on paper. I think better. Electricity has been in short supply, and gazing into the middle distance looking for just the right turn of phrase is a lot harder when the clock is ticking and the juice will run out. I also like having a tangible hard copy that will not melt away in the event of technical malfunction. Getting the next book from paper into the computer has been a bit of a fight. I think it’s more to do with energy levels than enthusiasm, the subject fascinates and inspires me, and also scares and confuses me, making it ideal in many ways. I feel a bit like I’m waiting for life to deliver some sort of punch-line, but it hasn’t shown up yet.

There’s a number of other projects in the pipeline that I’m not in a position to talk about in public yet – fiction stuff. So I’ll just tease you with that, but there is a thing on the way for next year that I am seriously excited about. We’re also talking to Archaia about book 3 of Hopeless and the timing for that, with book 2 due out around Halloween – you can already pre-order it on Amazon! Of course none of this has helped me get the Druid book written, there only being so any hours in a day.
The other big distraction, has been setting up to do a teaching course through the Patheos Pagan blog. I’ve been a columnist there for a while, and when they talked about developing a teaching space, I opted in. So, quite a lot of time went on planning and writing the content for that. You’ll be hearing more about that too, in the next month or so.

There is an argument for saying, do one thing at a time. I gather from the Zen folk that this is considered necessary for mindfulness. The trouble is, I just don’t have that kind of mind. Mine is a grasshopper brain and it jumps about between things. Trying to focus all of my energy into one project tends to make me more vulnerable to block and getting bored. However, the fingers in many pies approach makes me less than brilliant at always turning everything in on time. I’ve become adept at not getting deadlines in the first place. On which subject, I have been sounding out a publisher about a book on dreams, as well, which might happen next year.

I have promised myself that I will get the next Druid title written and handed in before I start on the dream book, or on the novel brewing in my head. That’s about as close as I ever get to discipline. I’m also planning to rerelease by self-publishing, some of my older novels so I need to take some time and polish those up, and we may be going to put out some Hopeless related material that way too. Oh, and audio meditations. Would you like some of those? I might be able to add that to the mix in a month or so. I’m signed up to do an alternative wheel of the year monthly column (links soon) and I’m writing more for The Druid Network too.

I have a feeling that the next twelve months or so are going to be a tad crazy, as in the midst of the above I’m determined to get out to more events as well. With Auroch Grove getting started and OBOD mentoring in the mix, as well as distinct opportunities for a more interesting cultural/social life, I’m starting to wonder quite when I’m going to do any sleeping. I’m just going to assume that it can all be made to fit together, and, with a rare nod to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, seize the carp.


A place to stand

Being a solitary Druid feels a bit wrong for a lot of us. I tried it, I didn’t like it. Being a Druid definitely has a collective quality about it, and comes with a side order of feeling a need to belong. Mind you, that’s generally a human thing, we all want to fit somewhere. Writing about exclusion in Druidry I got a lot of responses both here and on facebook, from people who do not seem to have a place to stand.

Yesterday I took the plunge and offered something I’d been contemplating for a while.There is now a proper and permenant page for it here https://druidlife.wordpress.com/secret-order-steampunk-druids/

The Secret Order of Steampunk Druids is neither secretive nor very orderly. It may help to be into either Steampunk or Druidry, but the only qualification for membership is wanting to be a member. The only requirement is playing nicely. Believe what you want to believe. Practice however you practice. Talk about it by all means. Accept that other people may be different and that’s their business, and all shall be well.

I’m not going to set up any kind of online chat space because those seem to be places where people with too much time on their hands try to tell other people how to be Druids, and frankly that’s all very dull and it would be more fun to communicate by other means. In person is nice.
I’m barely going to run this at all, but if anyone fails to ‘play nicely’ I shall come round and raise my eyebrows at them until they reform. Probably. Or I’ll just giggle at them, but those of you who already wanted in are deeply splendid individuals so I doubt eyebrow raising will be called for.

If you need a place to stand, if you need to be recognised and to belong, and this seems like a space, claim it. If the idea of revival revival inspires an impish grin to form upon your features, hang around. There was so much energy, craziness and creativity in revival Druidry, it would be fun to try and reclaim that without all the fibbing about where it really came from.

In the meantime, initiate yourself with a nice cup of tea, or similar, and perhaps a bit of cake, feel free to contemplate what you might want to wear, and where you might take this, let me know if you are playing, and if you need to, give yourself a title. As a general guideline, the less you know about Druidry the more outlandish your title should be. People who know their stuff should have quiet, self effacing titles.
Our two major tenets are warmth, playfulness and comedy our three, three major tenets are warmth, comedy, playfulness and a strange devotion to Professor Elemental, Lord Summerisle, no, four…

And if you do see Professor Elemental when you are out there, do consider it your proper business as a Steampunk Druid, to follow him round singing songs from The Wicker Man. If you don’t know any, just hum…