Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Appropriate at Samhuin

Walking through Postman park in London, experiencing the city and marvelling at majestic Plane trees I came across this. A park, a hidden bit of greenery, as interesting & surprising as the vistas at Stowe within this city scape.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Samhuin seed thought : Ikigai A Reason for Being

In French you might say your raison d'etre, your reason for being.  It's rare to know this from a young age and sometimes just when you think you know what it is when you get there you realise it isn't it.
Which is a complex one, the drive to do more than just survive and be happy doing it.  Within the Japanese word there is a certain joy in finding this.  However, as usual, the internet explanations are simplistic.  Trying to soundbite a complex viewpoint.

Within the Gewessi world knotwork art becomes a mandala, the world is a complex weave and finding the thread of Ikigai for you and keeping it can feel like dancing on a knife edge, the various knots of life try to unbalance you. You become a hinge or unhinged within the pattern of the weave.
Which is where a spiritual structure can maintain your Ikigai so that it doesn't become lost in the noise of our society.
  My structure is yoga, meditation and celebrating the wheel of the year, my Ikigai is cycling, my wife and the drive to create - whether that be gardening or virtual systems it is the creative aspect that appeals.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Deus sive Natura

"God is Nature, as Nature is God".Spinoza
  Thoughts on Nina Lyon's 'Uprooted' on the trail of the green man. 
It is weird hearing about integral events in your life, such as the rave scene & the 1988 Summer of Love and its impact on the modern world from the perspective of someone 10 years younger, your life as history.  That's getting old I guess. Being taught by people younger than you, whilst in your head you're the same age as them.

What is interesting, I find, is kicking against the perception that each generation grows up thinking it can change the world.    Mine didn't, I remember our head of History a young 30 year old, so ancient to our 17 year old minds, railing at our cynicism & belief that little we did would change the world.  We'd seen the various waves of young adults like the hippies, punks and others fight the system, the man and seemingly lose or even worse become ' the man'. 

O Fuck it, we weren't gonna do that.  I became an 80's yuppie by day and raver by night.  There were a lot of us, ecstasy was our drug & it turned haters into friends, opened closed minds & we became one people.  Then we discovered we had power.  The police had to be cautious of violently break up a rave of 1000s of people from all levels of society - there were Lords & Ladies, children of judges alongside those from the poorest estates, gay's with straights, Chelsea and Arsenal fans hugged.  Everyone was behaving peaceably, loved up and would be dressed in anything from DJ and ball gown to a fully fluorescent outfit.  No one cared, the dance was everything.  A few police couldn't incite us as the repercussions of attacking a mob high on amphetamines would've been too great.  Many of us were the children of the Tory establishment not poor Labour miners who they could brutally attack & then lie in the media to get away with it.

The establishment were scared.  They changed the rules, allowing night clubs to stay open all night as well as banning raves to remove the reasons for raves to happen.  The world was changed, football violence declined, it was a step change in the acceptance of being different.  There's some power in a youth movement not thinking they can change their world and managing it by accident, only realising it as the world turns and they look back.

As we reach the equinox, the time when the Green Man dies in some traditions, it is appropriate to think of these transitions.  As I move into my Gold Days/Golden years so my son moves into his Beltaine years.  The cycle within & without a cycle.
I liked the book, it reminded me of ZAMM , Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but for a neo pagan world.  A philosophical critique of where it is right now, as well as a warning for the future.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

St. Nectan and his glen

Now if you listen to Druidcast you may have come across St. Nectan, where you can hear the wonderful vocal tones of Roland Rotherham talk about him it starts at Druidcast 99, and I had the joy of visiting his legendary glen. It sits between Tintagel and Boscastle, between the myths of the ancient British King Arthur and the Witches museum. Walking up to the glen brought back memories of playing in Cornwall's granite and quartz laden streams, there is even traces of gold in the rocks too.

Nectan is also a water deity within the Irish mythology. Which would make the waterfall at St. Nectan's Cleave or Glen a pool of the well of wisdom. It is certainly a place of pilgrimage to many folk who visit. In this respect it has been treated as a Clootie Well for healing and spiritual help.

It is undoubtedly a place of magic and mystery, although we failed to get down to Rocky Valley

, pics from here, due to the lateness of the hour when we left the Glen. The carvings are Neolithic, 4000 years old, and provide links between ancient Crete and Glastonbury too.

The stacks of 'fairy' rock formations within the glen add to the magical feeling as you walk to and from the waterfall.

Ultimately for the strong spirited the waterfall and it's cold, cleansing waters are the main attraction:
This is the upper part of the waterfall, the plunge pool is shallow enough to stand in but deep enough to become immersed in the water. The afternoon we spent there was certainly a special one. Whilst there is a car park where you can walk to the Glen for the stronger walkers I would recommend it as an essential mid-walk stop on the coastal path between Boscastle and Tintagel.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Belated Lughnasadh seed thought - being happy in the moment

The Lughnasadh period is a busy one for anniversaries; Lughnasadh itself is my wedding anniversary, with a break for the 2nd August and then in sequence my departed Father's birthday, a good friend's birthday, my wife's best friend deathday and then a breather until my birthday. Which this year was a significant one. As it also aligns to summer holidays it is a busy time of year.

Whilst mindfulness has now become a widely known meme, as such ripe for parody, it is still a useful technique for dealing with stress. I have become unemployed for the first time in my life and as such it is easy to become prey to anxiety and my internal negativity. It was as I contemplated the garden, the worry of still not having a job lurked like a sinister mould at the back of the fridge, that I remembered to focus in the moment. It was sunny, I had completed many of the jobs in the garden and I had applied for a number of jobs. There's enough money in the bank too, so I was...

Being where you need to be

If you are, like me, something of a mental list maker then you can become subject to the tyranny of the to do list. Whilst a list can be useful in knowing what to do next it must not be allowed to ruin the moment with self negativity. I used to do this a lot, particularly around the garden...I should have planted those seeds, weeded that border...aarrrgh the hedge needs pruning.... Who was I hoping to please with this? Me, the kids don't care, my wife cares about the garden sporadically and only the bit she can see. The hedges don't care if they look neat to the human eye and we will not starve if I forgot to plant the brassica's. I've earned the money sitting in the bank so I can live without a job for a few months (not that I intend to do that) so I can...

Allow yourself

The garden is not perfect and is not finished, I've not written a blog post for a few weeks and probably gamed a little too much but I've not had a whole summer off in 30 years. I think the last summer I had off was in 1985 when I spent much of it sailing, including racing J24 yachts.

So for Lughnasadh choose a day to throw off the shackles of the mental to do list, enjoy the moment and prepare for the work of the harvest.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Belated Litha Seed thought - Of grief and hate

The Cycle of Grief

I have decided the so called newspaper that many people read online should be renamed as the Daily Hate-Mail

So I was planning to write up a seed thought for Litha. Except that British politics took over, the Brexit vote was intellectually not a massive surprise but emotionally & sub-consciously I'd not expected it. I am ashamed to be English and have been grieving for Britain. So before the vote I was in Denial of how serious it was and Bargaining with all and sundry for Remain. When the result hit on Friday I sank into Depression which transformed into Anger over the weekend. Monday there was some Acceptance. I started supporting France in the Euro's football competition
Then the cycle begins again, Denial is rife on social media with demands for a second referendum now the Brexit lies have been exposed, particularly as the Bargaining with the rest of Europe begins. Then there will be Depression and Anger again, I think this country has been so divided by this issue that the British psyche will take years to reach full Acceptance. If the British Psyche, a product of the United Kingdom, survives that is. We seem to be at a crucial point in our history where the dark forces of hate and nationalism feel they have a majority.
In response I think that Bob Marley expressed it better than I can..

"Get Up, Stand Up"

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don't give up the fight!

Preacherman, don't tell me,
Heaven is under the earth.
I know you don't know
What life is really worth.
It's not all that glitters is gold;
'Alf the story has never been told:
So now you see the light, eh!
Stand up for your rights. Come on!

Chorus

Most people think,
Great God will come from the skies,
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high.
But if you know what life is worth,
You will look for yours on earth:
And now you see the light,
You stand up for your rights. Jah!

Chorus
We sick an' tired of-a your ism-skism game -
Dyin' 'n' goin' to heaven in-a Jesus' name, Lord.
We know when we understand:
Almighty God is a living man.
You can fool some people sometimes,
But you can't fool all the people all the time.
So now we see the light (What you gonna do?),
We gonna stand up for our rights! (Yeah, yeah, yeah!)

And yet the Dog Rose is flowering which reminds us that the Rose, like the Lotus, brings beauty from dung

Friday, 17 June 2016

The Bourne Trees

With the changes mentioned in previous posts I have, for the first time, become the owner of a dog. Not the "needs little exercise will sleep most of the time" breed that my wife told me she'd look after! No, after a weekend of 'just looking' round various dog home's we came home with Brodie...

He's a mongrel perhaps but one that so resembles the New Zealand Huntaway that I suspect that is what he is; especially as there was a breeder of Huntaway's in Sussex around the time he was born! He is apparently a one-man dog needing lots of exercise....

The Tree Ogham

However, I had been missing cycling commuting in all weathers since my supervisor took umbrage at my kit drying under my desk. This has meant the past year has been missing a regular contact with nature. Early morning walkies have provided a recent replacement and time to contemplate nature. I realise this land of the Alder Bourne is not like other parts of Sussex I have known. It has the Oak and Ash as expected but few Birches and no Beeches. Instead it has the Willow and Grey Poplar. The Grey Poplar being a cross of the Aspen and the White Alder. It is one of those Druidic coincidences that these trees are reaching out to me at this cross-roads in life when I am between work and torn between financial and spiritual imperatives. Using Coleen Whittaker's excellent resource here is what it says...

Saille / Willow

The willow is another water loving tree. Willow bark contains Salicin which is used in the treatment of rheumatic fever and various damp diseases. Her catkins, which appear in early spring before her leaves, attract bees to start the cycle of pollination. She indicates cycles, rhythms and the ebb and flux.
Physical: A comfortable relationship to the material world is full of lessons and cycles of changing values. Change is necessary for growth, and values are no exception to the rule.
Mental: To gain understanding of a particular concept, a steady accumulation of facts is the foundation that brings understanding. All cannot be learned in one lesson. Repetition is the key.
Spiritual: This is a period of taking it easy rather than full speed ahead. Learn to play with the cyclical nature of things.

Eadha / Poplar

The Poplar flourishes beside rivers, in marshes and in other watery areas. The pith is star shaped. The upper leaves are green, the underside is silver. The wood was used in the making of shields. Leaves move with every puff of wind. It is commonly referred to as the talking, whispering and quivering tree. The Poplar's ability to resist and to shield, its association with speech, language and the Winds indicates an ability to endure and conquer.
Physical: Whatever challenge you now face, you will endure and conquer with determination. You can bend and not break.
Mental: Shield your thoughts from the fears and doubts about the odds you must overcome. A positive attitude will prevail.
Spiritual: Do not give in to worldly pressures, great assistance is yours on your journey to rebirth.

Koad / Grove

Certain groups or groves of trees have always been revered. Their branches are never pruned or loped. It is assumed these are the remnants of Druidic Groves. These groves contained various types of trees, among them the Oak, and were by a stream. It is here all meetings by the Druids were held 'in the face of the Sun and in the eye of Light". Here grievances were heard and judgements rendered that would settle issues. Grove indicates all knowledge, past, present and future, where all are linked in unity, and the resolution of conflict.
Physical: You may be participating in a resolution of conflict.
Mental: Misunderstandings can be ironed out if all parties will meet, work towards this.
Spiritual: You must try to hold the energy of judgement, of life aligned to the values that are above reproach. By example do we teach others.

The reason to include Koad is that the Grey Poplar forms groves where all the trees are linked by a common root stock. The suckers/scions of the tree root system spread out to propagate it. Pando an Aspen colony, is thought to be one of the largest living organisms. It is amazing to think that this enormous grove could be 10,000 years old and the heaviest organism on the planet, something that is central to Druidry is the power of the trees.

That these three Ogham reach out to me as Brodie and I make our circuit around the fields at this time is interesting. The messages from the Ogham align with the messages I've been giving myself whilst I search for a new job and plan for the future. Another advantage of the regular dog walks in the country is that it has improved both my core & leg strength so my body is more balanced.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

All Change

The wheel has been turning and a cycle comes to an end. With the ending of any cycle there is always some sense of loss with tears watering the ground for new growth to appear. So it is with this cycle of change but of all the things coming to an end, the most recognised and awaited often hits the hardest.

Puss-shka

A skinny waif came awaiting a way
into a home, hearth a place to rest a head
an independent spirit, stubborn, her self.

Always hungry with inexpensive tastes
and a super-furry soft expansive stomach
that perfectly vibrated a purry performance.

Occasionally happy to halt upon a lap
when cold, or clammy or ineffably kind
unless she was not and remained her self.

Always around unless elsewhere
exuding Mephistophelean ease
as she reappeared extemporanously.

In later years, introvert and internal
contemplating cautiously the nature of cat
statically she maintained a vortex of suspicion.

Of her names she cared not a whit;
the loving Puss, Pussy or Pushka
the mocking Fatso and Weepoo
or the universal Cat yet
She was Her Self.

Her self is no more, her vortex a hole
the space that is left, leaves little to console.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Beltaine Seedthough - A Gardener's Prayer

A BLESSING ON THE GARDEN

Each day within my garth
They will all be mixed together,
In the name of Ingwine & Gerðr,
Who gave them growth.

Fruit, and veg, and flower,
The good produce of our own earth,
There shall be no dearth in our land,
Nor in our dwelling.

In the name of the Alfar of my love,
Who bequeathed to us the power,
With the blessing of the Land,
And Mother Frige.

Humble us in this garden,
Be thine own sanctuary around us,
Ward from us spectre, sprite, oppression,
And preserve us.

adapted from Carmina Goidelica 78