Archive for the ‘Ecology’ Category

The Druid’s Parable

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From the Second Epistle in the Book of Apocrypha of Robert Larson, (Isaac Bonewit’s mentor) and perhaps the true founder of Neopagan Druidism.
Robert offered this parable of his own creation, to counsel tolerance and variation among warring branches of the Reformed Druids during their ideological and structural conflicts of 1976;

I will now relate this incredibly ancient Druid fable
which I have just written.

Ahem.

Once in the long ago there were three Druids, and very fine Druids they were, too. It came to pass that each of them inherited a piece of land with a large rock on it.
Now the First of these Druids went to his land and looked at his rock and immediately fell in love with it.
To make his rock even more beautiful he fell to rubbing and buffing it until it bore a bright polish.
Every day he would rub and buff it till it almost outshone the sun, so bright it was.
The people who lived nearby would often come to see the rock and say what a wonderful, bright rock it was.

Now eventually the Druid died and went to the Sidhe hills as all good Druids do. But the wind and rain did not die.
Slowly it was that the rock lost its polish, but lose it it did. No longer did the people come to see the rock, now neither wonderful nor bright, for of what interest is a mere rock, except to a geologist?

The second of the Druids went to his land and looked at his rock and thought what a wonderful statue his rock would make.
So he took a hammer and chisel and carved a statue of his god out of it. Paint he put on his statue, and gold and jewels also, until it looked exactly like his idea of his god. And the people who lived both near and far came to marvel at the statue and worship at it, saying such things as “You could swear that it’s alive, that it’s being.” To which the Druid would reply, “It is.”
Eventually the second Druid too died and went to the Sidhe hills where all good Druids go…

Eventually the second Druid too died and went to the Sidhe hills where all good Druids go. But the wind and rain did not die, nor did human nature change. Thieves came and stripped the statue of its gold and its jewels. Wind and rain completed the destruction, until the statue once again resembled nothing so much as a rock.
And the people stopped coming to marvel and to worship, for, after all, who wants to worship a rock after he’s had the most wonderful statue in the world?

The Third Druid went to his land and looked at his rock. Then he climbed upon it and looked about him, liking what he saw.
He planted flowers, trees and bushes about the rock and lichen on it. Every day he would herd his cows and sheep on the land about the rock, sitting on or resting against it.

As time went by, the flowers, the bushes and trees grew and the lichen covered the rock, giving the Druid an even more beautiful view and a softer seat to watch his herds from.
So beautiful did the Druid’s land become, that people came from far and near to sit with him and watch the deer and fox play and the flowers bloom, for it was said to be the most beautiful and peaceful place in the world.
The time came when the third Druid died and went to the Sidhe hills where all good Druids go.

But the flowers did not stop growing, nor did the bushes and trees and lichen.Still did the deer and fox play in the Druid woods, and still were cows and sheep herded about the rock.

The Druid’s name was forgotten, but some people still came to sit on his rock and look at his woods, for it was yet the most beautiful and peaceful place in the world.

And so it remains to this day.

Beannachtai na Mathar libh. Siochain Robert, ArchDruid, Berkeley Grove 28 Mean Samhraidh, 14 y.r.
(July 2nd, 1976 c.e.)

 A Note on the Sidhe, people of the Faery Hills;

The Sidhe (Shee), sometimes also known as The Good People and the Tuatha De Danaan, are a race descended of the old agricultural gods of the Earth who have retreated from this Earth to a different dimension of space and time than our own, believed to be living under mounds and fairy raths and cairns,  and also the land of “Tír na nÓg” a mythical island to the west of Ireland. Throughout the ages the Sidhe have been in contact with mortals giving protection, healing and even teaching some of their skills to mortals – Smithcraft or the working of metals being one such skill.  Cuillen (Culann) is one such sidhe smith who has been told of in the legends of Cúchulainn and the later legends of Fionn mac Cumhail. The Gaelic word sí or síog refers to these otherworldly beings now called fairies.This race of beings who has powers beyond those of mankind, they move quickly through the air and may change their shape at will. Many refer to the Sidhe as simply “the gentry”, on account of their tall, noble appearance and silvery sweet speech. It  is thought that good Druids and folk of the spirits may join with them in their Sidhe lands after their mortal life is concluded…Down through the ages the Sidhe have been in contact with mortals giving protection, healing and even teaching some of their skills to mortals – Smithcraft or the working of metals being one such skill.  Cuillen (Culann) is one such sidhe smith who has been told of in the legends of Cúchulainn and the later legends of Fionn mac Cumhail.
The Gaelic word sí or síog refers to these otherworldly beings now called fairies.


 A Multiplicity of Druids;
In 1966, Robert Larson, an ordained priest of the original Carleton Grove group moved to Berkeley, California, where he and Isaac Bonewits founded a small Druidic group with connections to various wiccan covens, and groups which practiced ceremonial magic. This became known as the Berkeley Grove.
In the mid 1970s, Bonewits sought to recast the RDNA as a Neo-Pagan organization, but this met with resistance from several Druids from the Carleton Grove. Several groves subsequently broke off to form “Branches” of Reformed Druidism and in 1976, a new order formed called the New RDNA (NRDNA), which organized under a Council of Arch-Druids, specifically to have a national body more responsive than the Council of Dalon Ap Landu. Some NRDNA groves wanted to restrict membership to Neo-Pagans, and experiment with changes to ritual and the structure of their groves; these became the Schismatic Druids of North America (SDNA). Groves not participating in these changes or schisms were, by default, considered the RDNA. The definition of “Reformed Druidism” stretched to include these variants, not just the RDNA, but the NRDNA, SDNA, and independent folks who just believed in the Basic Tenets.

Arise Oh Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF);
Many members of the SDNA groves left in the 1980s to form the Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF), taking a few lessons from Reformed Druidism with them—notably the Waters of Life, an RDNA invention. Currently, in most RDNA and NRDNA groves, members can belong to any or no religion; and due to the emphasis on Grove autonomy, and resulting Grove diversity, there is now little to distinguish between RDNA and NRDNA. Today Ár nDraíocht Féin has groves present across the United States, in Canada, and in other countries.

On the Reform of Neo Druidry in North America;
Until 1983, except for a few fraternal Druid organizations with branches in the USA, Reformed Druidism was really the only publicly known type of neo-druidism in America. ADF provided a training program for Neo-Pagan Druids interested in Indo-European religious concepts, a strong central church-like structure, a liturgical formula, and a great number of council and rules. Over the years, many aspiring Druids joined ADF, borrowed some ideas and produced dozens of new groups of their own. Henge of Kelria was the largest off-shoot, when this group split off for reasons of protest over training programs, charges of ineptitude, and a preference for only Celtic sources of inspiration.
Similarly, the Order of Whiteoak borrowed material from ADF, RDNA, and Keltra, but produced primarily a core of material based on their own research.

Saltem Accurata Et Maxime Iocosa;
While Reformed Druids are considered the least organized and most playful Druids, their literature is perhaps the more extensively produced and archived of any modern Druid group in America. Reformed Druidic literature has been an almost entirely open literature, unlike many fraternal or mystical Druid organizations that restrict material to initiates.
It is however quite possible and common for members to participate actively in a Grove or a conference for years without having read more than a few dozen pages of their literature, as the oral and living traditions are also quite vital and nuanced.
It is notably non-dogmatic, eclectic, leaning towards philosophic rather than magic in focus, and often written “tongue-in-cheek”, with authors tending to poke fun at themselves.

Are American Druids different from British Druids?
Whilst many might bundle American and British Druidry together under the general heading of ‘Neo-Druidism’ in fact these are two separate lines of Druidry. There is ofcourse a shared love of nature, an open attitude towards spirituality, a social focus, and a curiosity about the practices of the ancient Celts, but there are a distinctive differences between the two bodies of Druidism:

The British Druid,
British Druid Orders can trace a formal lineage back to the founding of the Ancient Order of Druids in 1781, although much earlier records attest to their existence in Ancient Britain, Ireland and Europe such as the written records of Julius Ceasar and etc. Indeed Roman author Diogenes ( 3rd century CE ) considered the Druids as one of the ancient world’s wisest philosophers, along with the Magi of Persia, the Chaldeans (the priesthood of the Babylonians) and the Gymnosophists (an Hindu sect which preceded the Yogis), all of whom were skilled in mathematics, physics, logic, and philosophy.
Many British Orders such as the British Druid Order and OBOD use the emblem of Awen invented by the 18th century Druid Edward Williams, aka Iolo Morganwg, although some use other symbols such as the Pendragon, the Red Dragon Rampant of King Arthurs Loyal Arthurian Warband Order of Druids.
The modern British lineage of Druid organisations was initially founded as an organized secret society to compete with the Freemasons in their social works and their spiritual orientations, although subsequent diversification of orientation and purpose has seen divergence of stated aims and practises of various groups.

 The American Druid,
American Druid Orders can trace themselves back to the founding of the Reformed Druids of North America in 1963. The RDNA is an American Neo-Druidic organization formed at Carleton College (The Carleton Grove), Northfield, Minnesota as a humorous protest against the college’s required attendance of religious services. In creating an effective vehicle to challenge the establishment requirements, the founders unwittingly fostered an environment for spiritual exploration. For many new Druids the movement came to represent a valuable part of their spiritual lives and the demand for Druid services continued even after the college requirement disappeared.

The American symbol is a Druid sigil most often rendered as a circle with two vertical lines  through it, and is also similar to the “circle with a dot in the middle” emblem, which is a Masonic sun symbol for God, flanked by two vertical lines, which represent the two Saint Johns, whose festivals are St. John the Baptist on the summer solstice and St. John on the winter solstice.  It first became associated with Druidism in modern times by the founder of the Reformed Druids of North America, David Fisher, in 1963 c.e.. He claimed that it was a symbol of Druidism in general and the Earth Mother in particular. Some think he may have gotten the design from a hasty glance at a picture in Piggott’s book The Druids, which showed the foundations of an old Roman-Celtic temple. Others think he may have gotten it from some Mesopagan Druid organization to which he may have belonged. However, with the two lines running horizontally, the Druid Sigil is known to electricians as the sign for a female plug/socket, and with the lines diagonal, it’s an old alchemical sign for oil, both concepts that could lead to some fruitful meditations.
There are perhaps 40 groves and protogroves of the RDNA, NRDNA and RDG, with 180 priests and priestesses.

More details of Reformed Druids of North America here
(www.rdna.info and www.reformed-druids.org )
ADF here ( http://www.adf.org/core/index.html )
Keltria here ( www.keltria.org )

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What kind of world in 2050?

The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization’s Northern Future by Laurence C. Smith.

My Introduction / Review;
This book takes the form of a thought experiment propelled by the four global forces, of demography, natural resource demand, globalization, and climate change, plus a fifth  — of enduring legal frameworks — and follows ground rules as stated in the opening chapter: That this study shall not be subject too Sudden Silver Bullets (incremental and unforeseeable advances in technology), World War III – no radical reshuffling of our geopolitics and laws (although in my own view this World War III has long been underway and is less traditional than economic -please see Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine) +/Or Hidden Genies, like a global depression, a killer pandemic, or sudden climate change.

How will the world change within our own life times, a scientifically deduced view of the growing population trends and accompanying demands on limited world resources, of species extinctions and other ecological changes forcing unprecedented social and cultural upheavals, of the possibilities of new powers protecting or even prospecting for resources in other territories by force of arms (such as water Wars or etc). 

”Imagine a 2050 world in which global population has grown by nearly half, forming crowded urban clots around the hot lower latitudes of our planet. Mighty new poles of economic power and resource consumption have arisen in China, India and Brazil. People are urban, grayer and richer. Many places are water stressed, uninsurable or battling the sea. Some have abandoned irrigated farming altogether; their cities rely totally on global trade flows of energy and virtual water (ie traded goods containing water such as food etc) to even exist”….

True, we have a diverse basket of new energy resources, but we still rely heavily upon fossil fuels and the development trends and lack of substantial enough alternatives suggest the dependency will continue.  Natural gas is especially lucrative and under aggressive development in all corners of the world. In addition billions of southern organisms will press northward, including us. These broad pressures and trends portend great changes to the northern quarter of our planet, making it a place of higher human activity and strategic activity than today.

Nunavut. President Keskitalo’s Argument;
”In Tromsø sitting with Aili Keskitalo, president of the Norwegian Sámi Parliament. She was describing the plight of her Sámi people (Lapps), the aboriginal occupants of northern Europe.
‘Our language. Our symbols. Our traditional knowledge. They are threatened. In some areas, to a very large extent. We need to have a say in how the natural resources are exploited!’
Unfortunately, a naturally twitchy climate makes the steady, predictable push from anthropogenic greenhouse gases more dangerous, not less. From the geological past we know the Earth’s climate has not always been so quiet as it is now. Therefore, through greenhouse loading we are applying a persistent pressure to a system prone to sudden jumps in ways we don’t fully understand. Imagine a wildcat quietly sleeping on your porch—it looks peaceful but is by nature an ill-tempered, unpredictable beast that might spring into a flurry of teeth and claws in an instant. Greenhouse gases are your knuckles pressing inexorably into its soft slumbering belly; the global ecosystem is your exposed hand and arm.”…
“The climate change, it makes the oil, the gas, the mineral resources in the North more accessible. So the need to get control over the resource management is even more important, because of the climate change.” She sat back in exasperation. “If you have no representation, how can you have an influence on resource management?

”If there was ever a moment when my perspective suddenly broadened on the future of the northern countries I was traveling, that was probably it. We talked some more, so I could assemble in my own head what was already so obvious in hers. Everything is linked. Shrinking ice, natural resource demand, and political power were all tugging on each other. My scientist’s training had wrongly led me down the path of dissect, isolate, and rank. This works well for a focused problem, but is not always best for gaining a synoptic understanding of the world.”
Thus we join the dots to see the bigger picture and how everything really is linked to everything else, change is inevitable, if we understand a little of what may follow we might better cherish the present and nurture the best of possible future outcomes”….

Of further concern is the fact that scientific research has recently revealed that our climatic emergence from the last ice age was neither gradual nor smooth. Instead it underwent rapid flip-flops, seesawing back and forth between glacial and interglacial (warm) temperatures several times before finally settling down into a warmer state. These large temperature swings happened in less than a decade and as quickly as three years. Precipitation doubled in as little as a single year….
The Pentagon’s report, which outlines possible social scenarios if what occurred 8,200 years ago were to happen again today (quite scary) describes wars, starvation, disease, refugee flows, a human population crash, civil war in China, and the defensive fortification of the United States and Australia.

”To me, the old debates of Malthus and Marx, of Ehrlich and Simon, miss the point. The question is not how many people there are versus barrels of oil remaining, or acres of arable land, or drops of water churning through the hydrologic cycle. The question is not how much resource consumption the global ecosystem can or cannot absorb. It’s moot to wonder whether the world should optimally hold nine billion people or nine million, colonize the sea, or all move to Yakutsk. No doubt we humans will survive anything, even if polar bears and Arctic cod do not. Perhaps we could support nine hundred billion if we choose a world with no large animals, pod apartments, genetically engineered algae to eat, and desalinized toilet water to drink. Or perhaps nine hundred million if we choose a wilder planet, generously restocked with the creatures of our design. To me, the more important question is not of capacity, but of desire: What kind of world do we want?”

Absolutely stunning book which lays the whole world and all its developmental trends before the reader in a totally comprehensive manner lacking the obscurantist occlusion or mere one-upmanship of many scientific authors who dazzle with detail the less specialist reader.
If you care to understand the present and future trends of big Businesses and Governments and the hardlines underpinning their perspectives, here you will find a vast array of evidence based assessment and demographic details delivered in an entirely acessible manner.

Highly Recommended for any present 
& all near future residents of Earth..
 ”…The world is alive. The plants, animals, rocks, and water all have spirits. These spirits must be respected and cared for or the land would become hostile or barren. Therefore, protection and balance of one’s environment is of utmost importance…” –

Siberian Elder Wisdom, The Sakhas or Sakha-Yakuts ( Horse People) northeast Siberia.

Informed with knowledge, 
may All our choices be blest **~

 

Taliesin’s Battle Of The Trees

I have set Taliesin’s Battle Of The Trees within two other pieces, firstly Tacitus’ report of the Roman invasion of the Druid island of Angelsey, followed by another poem from those by Taliesin which had been mixed in with The Battle of The Trees in a method of concealment to hide the poems meaning from those without understanding.

The Battle Of The Trees / Cad Goddeu ;

The tops of the beech tree have sprouted of late,
are changed and renewed from their withered state.

When the beech prospers, through spells and litanies,
the oak tops entangle, there is hope for the trees.

I have plundered the fern, through all secrets I spy.
Old Math ap Mathonwy knew no more than I.

For with nine sorts of faculty God has gifted me,
I am fruit of fruits gathered from nine sorts of tree–

Plum, quince, whortle, mulberry, raspberry, pear,
Black cherry and white, with the sorb in me share.

From my seat at Caer Fefynedd (Kire Fev-Un-eThh), a city that is strong,
I watched the trees and green things hastening along.

Retreating from happiness they would fein be set
In forms of the chief letters of the alphabet.

Wayfarers wander, warriors are dismayed,
at the renewal of conflicts such as Gwydion made.

Under the root of the tongue, a fight most dread,
and another raging, behind, in the head.

The alders in the front line began the affray.
Will and rowan tree were tardy in array.

The holly, dark green, made a resolute stand;
He is armed with many spear points wounding the hand.

With foot beat of the swift oak heaven and earth rung;
“Stout Guardian of the Door”, his name in every tongue.

Great was the gorse in battle, and the ivy at his prime;
The hazel was arbiter at this charmed time.

Uncouth and savage was the fir, cruel the ash tree–
Turns not aside a foot breadth, straight at the heart runs he.

The birch, though very noble, armed himself but late;
A sign not of cowardice but of high estate.

The heath gave consolation to the tail spent folk
The long enduring poplars in battle much broke.

Some of them were cast away on the field of fright
Because of holes torn in them by the enemy’s might.

Very wrathful was the vine whose henchmen are the elms;
I exalt him mightily to rulers of realms.

Strong chieftains were the blackthorn with his ill fruit,
The unbeloved whitethorn who wears the same suit.

The swift pursuing reed, the broom with his broad,
And the furse but ill-behaved until he is subdued.

The dower scattering yew stood glum at the fight’s fringe,
With the elder slow to burn amid fires that singe.

And the blessed wild apple laughing in pride
And the Borchan of Maeldrew, by the rock slide.

In shelter linger privet and woodbine,
Inexperienced in warfare, and the courtly pine.

But I, although slighted because I was not big,
Fought, trees, in your array on the field of Goddeu Brig.

translation from Robert Graves book The White Goddess;

The Book of Taliesin dates from the 14th C. and collected 56 of the oldest poems in Welsh, those attributed to the 6th C. poet Taliesin would have been composed in the Cumbric dialect of the north. The manuscript preserves a few hymns, a small collection of elegies and also enigmatic poems such as The Battle of Trees and The Spoils of Annwfn, in which the poet claims to have sailed to another world with King Arthur and his warriors.

The Battle of the Trees poem itself, whilst currently “pied” with approximately four other poems, is set during a war between Arawn King of Annwfn or the Underworld, and Amaethon a ploughman. This war is prompted by the latter’s theft of three magical creatures from the underworld, a dog who was the guardian of the secret, a white roebuck who hides the secret, and a lapwing who disguises the secret.
Regarding the secret powers possessed by these otherwordly creatures, it is said in the Triads:
there are three primary essentials of genius;
an eye that can see nature, a heart that can feel nature, and a boldness that dares follow it.

Druids taught in Triads or groups of three, which embodied the traditional Laws, Customs, and Wisdoms, of the ancient Celtic people, such as “Truth in heart, strength in arm, honesty in speech.” or “Three things not easily restrained, the flow of a torrent, the flight of an arrow, and the tongue of a fool.”

The poem famously details the legendary Gwydion‘s account of the trees of the forest which he enchanted to fight as his army against Arawan.
Within the ranks of Arawn’s forces were a number of mighty warriors, and one of these was invincible as long as his name remained a secret.
Gwydion the enchanter rightly guessed the secret name and won the battle saying these words:

Sure-hoofed my spurred horse,
On your shield Alder sprigs,
Bran is your name, Bran of the branches.

Sure-hoofed my horse of war,
On your hand are sprigs of Alder,
Bran you are, by the branch you bear.

However as Robert Graves explores in his book ‘The White Goddess’ the poem is particularly notable for its striking and enigmatic symbolism and the wide variety of interpretations this has occasioned.
Graves suggests that the trees in this poem correspond to the ancient Ogham alphabet, in which each alphabetic character represents a specific musical note, seasonal cycle, mythological tale and deity.
This method of association was a teaching aid in the letters and the trees associated with each, and its use in this poem was a poetic plea for the continuance of the use and teaching of this alphabet;
”This alphabet utilized thirteen consantants and five vowels. The consantants form the thirteen months of the annual cycle, while the vowels set forth the five year cycle of this Celtic calender. The letters/trees within the poem are not set in their proper order, I believe, in a further attempt to “encode” the information given in the poem so that only a person versed in this alphabet could utilize it.” Robert Graves.
Each tree had a meaning and significance of its own, and Gwydion guessed Bran’s name by the Alder branch Bran carried, the Alder being one of Bran’s prime symbols.

Graves thus argued that the original poet had concealed Druidic secrets about an older matriarchal Celtic religion for fear of censure from Christian authorities, that Arawn and Bran were names for the same underworld god and that the battle was probably not physical but rather a struggle of wits and scholarship: Gwydion’s forces could only be defeated if the name of his companion, Lady Achren (“Trees”), was guessed, and Arawn’s host only if Bran’s name was guessed.


Blessed Be /|\ ~

the butterfly’s tale ~

When we grew up the world was all magic and still full of beauty,
The butterflies flew high and the flowers grew tall.
But like canaries in a coal mine without light or air or freedom,
When their world came under stress, the time of death they heard call.

Technological agriculture’s destruction of the worlds balance and flow,
Undermines natures resources essential for our wildlife to grow.
And the loss of many countless species will be catastrophic for mankind even so,
As these ecosystem pollinators brought essential plant-life profusion which medical research did know.

In England since the scientific 1970s five species of butterfly have already become extinct,
The remaining 54 diminish faster than any other birds or plant species interlinked.
Yet only now are they recognized as irreplaceable indicators of environmental change,
And as representatives for the crucial diversity of the wildlife community free range.

Hundreds of butterflies, beetles and dragonflies now at risk of vanishing all across Europe,
With almost one-third of 435 butterfly species suffering retrogression closeup,
Loss of environments caused by intensive farming, climate change and tourism destroying their natural habitats strange,
Irrespective of their significant role as pollinators in the ecosystems which they arrange.

And of the American butterflies and of their wild milkweed,
Home of The Monarch butterflies caterpillar, the butterflies seed.
The milkweed has also suffered since genetic alterations were introduced to our crop feed,
The purpose of this biotechnology to kill all except the crop that we need.

But more than just milkweed and other weeds have languished and decayed-
As The Duke of Burgundy, The Grayling, and Greenweed, The Large Blue, Speckled Footman and Painted Lady are all afraid,
Chasing the Large Copper of Ireland, the Giant Swallowtail from Jamaica, the Atewa of Ghana, American Silverspot and Apollo from the Alps to their ultimate end,
We face an ever silent spring as our neighbors and companions, the creatures who peopled our world endure a downtrend.

Yet some believe in a world teeming with life,
And establish Geo-dome sanctuaries amidst the wreckage of this modern strife,
Legally protected lands of untrammeled natural diversity
Respite for natures finite species to shelter from our adversity.

Acting as guardians of this new day of bio-diverse global harmony,
To protect our common heritage from some sterile future ahead,
Helping all the people understand the connection between the creatures and the planet,
How the butterflies are integral, the earths freedom worth more than farmstead.

As a symbol of our spirits and transformation since very ancient times,
The butterfly or soul-mind according to the Greeks sacred sign,
Of life after death as crawling caterpillar gives birth to flying grace,
So our souls are called now, to save this ethereal race.

And on this small earth we’ve got to learn to live together….
Although we’re wearing different faces and we fly with different feather,
If we can save the butterflies, and see the wildness rebound,
We can also save ourselves, lets join the Butterfly Ball and turn this world around.

c. Celestial Elf  2011

…………………………………………………………………………

Once there were swarms of butterfly’s, even as recently as the 1970’s butterfly’s were widespread and populous, but more recently you will be lucky to see one or two compared with the riches that previously adorned our countrysides, river-ways, forests, fields and skies..
In 1892, SG Castle Russell wrote of his walk through The New Forest, South England: “Butterflies alarmed by my approach arose in immense numbers to take refuge in the trees above. They were so thick that I could hardly see ahead and indeed resembled a fall of brown leaves.”
A few centuries earlier, Richard Turpyn recorded a probable mass migration to or from Britain in his Chronicles of Calais during the reigns of Henry VII and VIII: “an innumerable swarme of whit buttarflyes … so thicke as flakes of snowe” that they blotted out views of Calais for workers in fields beyond the town.( Patrick Barkham, The Guardian UK.)

Whilst the collecting of British butterfly’s has now ceased to be acceptable, yet butterfly populations have continued to plummet.
Industrial agriculture and the loss of 97% of England’s natural grasslands and wildflower meadows, planting of conifers or letting our broadleaved woodlands become too overgrown for woodland flowers, plus the ever increasing sprawl of motorways and urban development have contributed significantly to this demise..
In addition, climate change makes it all the more complicated, because as well as new predators, new diseases do destroy native trees, flowers and insects that butterfly’s depended on.
Alien and Invasive weeds also crowd out butterfly food plants, thus depriving the survivors of both home and sustenance.

The United Kingdom’s largest native butterfly, The Swallowtail, was easily found all across the fens of East Anglia, until the draining of these wetlands for agriculture had caused its extinction, it is now confined to the Norfolk Broads.
The Pearl-Bordered Fritillary which was known as the ‘Woodman’s Friend’ because it would follow foresters around as they coppiced or cut down patches of trees because they were attracted to the flowers that blossomed in the freshly cut glades, has also undergone a dramatic decline since this traditional way of ‘harvesting’ wood has died out.
But even before climate change, another man-made event, the introduction of the rabbit-killing disease myxomatosis in the 1950s, caused the decline of many grassland butterfly’s which had relied on large rabbit populations to keep the grasslands short and full of flowers.

The last species to become extinct in Britain was The Large Blue (Maculinea arion) in 1979, however in the 1980s conservationists brought stock from Sweden and successfully re-established the butterfly on a small field on the edge of Dartmoor. Professor Thomas, the man responsible for this return of the Large Blue butterfly to Britain after having worked out vital aspects of its unique lifestyle – specifically that the caterpillar is taken into an ant’s nest to be reared by the ants – has stated “What is bad for butterfly’s is bad for all species – including our own.
( The Independent UK )

Other and less fortunate Species that have become extinct in the UK include;
The Mazarine Blue (Polyommatus semiargus) a small butterfly still found across Europe which feeds on red clover. The last colony in Britain died out in 1904.
The Black-Veined White (Aporia crataegi) still common in Europe, this relative of the Large and Small Whites has been extinct in the UK since 1925, perhaps because of the increase in agricultural chemical useage at that time.
The Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) which was very common in Southern England until after the war, became extinct after Dutch Elm disease destroyed its main food source.

Around the wider world the story is much the same, as the Large Copper of Ireland, the Giant Swallowtail from Jamaica, the Atewa of Ghana, the American Silverspot and the Apollo from the Alps have all become extinct.
In The United States of America the Monarch butterfly also faces drastic reductions following destruction of their milkweed seeding plant due to bio technological agricultural chemicals used in killing the non crop weed.
The amazing Monarch butterfly’s which migrate southward in the autumn to places where the climate is less extreme, and are guided by the sun’s orbit as they travel through North America, moving at a pace of about almost 50 miles a day, although some are thought to have flown up to 80 miles in a day. At the end of October and the beginning of November, after traveling two months, these remarkable butterfly’s settle into hibernation colonies in the mountains of central Mexico, where they spend the winter hibernating.

On a brighter note,
We have finally made a beginning in conserving the right kind of Eco-systems for these fragile species and have even begun creating bio diversity areas to protect and nurture them.
Sir David Attenborough the BBC’s Natural history broadcaster launched in 2008 a £25m conservation project to reverse the ‘silent natural disaster’ that is threatening butterfly species across the UK.
This project, the Butterfly World, is the world’s biggest butterfly house and has approximately 10,000 tropical butterflies of 250 species flying under its dome at any one time in the world’s largest such display, in addition to extensive gardens and meadows to attract native British species, as well as education and research facilities. ( Butterfly World )

How we can all play a role in preserving these important and beautiful creatures ?
Butterfly’s visit gardens to drink nectar from flowers and many nectar producing plants are hardy perennials which are easy to grow.
The most direct method by which any budding Lepidopterist may support the reverse in butterfly populations then, is to plant and encourage suitable nectar producing plants.
The best plants for butterfly’s are the Buddlea, Ice-plant (Sedum), Lavender, Michaelmas Daisy (Aster) and Marjoram (Origanum).
But the butterfly caterpillars also need feeding and for this purpose you might plant Holly and Ivy in sunny positions where they can grow tall and flower.
Also keep your Stinging Nettles as these are home for the Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral butterfly’s.

Included here is a link to The National Trust (UK) Top 20 butterfly sites;
( The National Trust )

Bright Blessings, Celestial Elf ~

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