Archive for the ‘Goddess’ 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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On A Modern Druid’s Education

Having an interest in The Druids, Nature and the Ancient Ways, I have from time to time been asked whether I could recommend any books for beginners or others to get a sense of what modern Druidry may entail…


The role of Druids in Celtic society was a broad and influential one that included Teachers, Healers , Bardic-Poets, Musicians, Shaman, Priests, Astrologers, Historians, Judges and Advisers to Kings.
Following the etymology of the name Druid, dru as ‘oak’ or ‘doorway’ and wid as ‘to see’ or ‘wisdom’, the name means ‘oak-wisdom’, although Irish druí and Welsh dryw could also refer to the wren, connected with an association of that bird with augury bird in Irish and Welsh tradition, thus the Druid is someone wise in the ways of nature, the seen and unseen.
Inspired by these traditions and the pre-Christian Celtic folktales, legends and mythologies which valued the spiritual within nature, some modern Druids commit to a guardianship of our environment and planet, to practise the ideals of the sacred and the spiritual by honoring the natural world.

In the past, a Druid’s education may have taken anywhere from 12 to 20 years, beginning around the age of five or soon after any person was deemed gifted by the divine, it began with a study of the tales and traditions, included Poetry, Nature and Law and continued with Communication and Music, a set of skills not unfamiliar to the teachings of similar cultural leaders in the classical antiquity of ancient Greece and Rome..

Today some Neo Druid and Reconstructionist Druid groups offer an education in these traditional subjects, giving tutored instruction progressing from the training of a Bard, moving through the Ovate grade to culminate in the ultimate achievement of becoming a Druid. Such tuition is naturally embellished by their own school of thought and necessarily funded by subscription to pay for the tutors guidance and support. But because there is no single sacred text or surviving body of doctrine upon which to base such teaching, whilst some of the books and course material used may be widely available from libraries and shops, others may be exclusive and available only from the organization involved..

Not all Druids today however believe the same things, or in the same routes of learning.
Some believe that the spirit is led by higher powers along its path to the gods, to apprehend the spirits and faerie folk, to travel the inner paths to the other-worlds, and to manifest healing and wisdom upon the earth.

Many who have not followed any formalized training nevertheless do also have powerful skills, and for them the distinction between the roles or formal acknowledgement of achievement is less important than the insight and abilities themselves.
The difference between these two approaches to Druidry could be considered the same as that between a college education and a vocational apprenticeship. In learning to practice such wisdom intuitively, they have learned the secret of setting aside worldly concerns and by embracing all that life has to offer have discovered the many truths transcending all.
Bringing this inner light back to the people, interacting with all things respectfully and as an act of devotion, this is the sign of a true Druid.

Central to modern Druidic belief is a love of nature combined with a pragmatic understanding that spiritual insight be expressed by responsible action in our daily life, shared with and on behalf of the community for its greater good.


To support an understanding of how we may continue to honor the ancestral spirits and follow the traditional paths of wisdom,
I have gathered here a short reading list for any who may wish to add an academic or historical basis to their insights and practice of Druidry.

However I would mention that whilst rooted in the traditional Druidic lore of yore, this list also establishes a clear link between reflection on the ancient paths and action in this modern world.


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Introductory;


”The Trials of Arthur” Arthur Pendragon and CJ Stone.

Detailing the return of England’s Ancient Leader, King Arthur.A Hearty and Heartfelt account full of derring do and of Down To Earth Druidry, following the path of Action and introducing the aims of the Loyal Arthurian Warband Order of Druids,The L.A.W. Arthur has risen to meet the challenges before him with delight and good humor, Recommended.
Reading Level: Standard


”The Apple Branch;A Path to Celtic Ritual” Alexei Kondratiev

Nicely written introduction to Celtic-inspired rituals and ceremonies. The author has done a lot of research and understands Celtic society and culture. It could be argued that Kondratiev’s NeoWiccan background throws things off a bit – but it’s still worth reading, because Kondratiev manages to avoid a lot of the overly-romanticized fluff that appears in many of the books purporting to be about Celtic Paganism.
Reading Level: Intermediate

”The Stations of the Sun” Ronald Hutton

Comprehensive and engaging, this colourful study covers the whole sweep of ritual history from the earliest written records to the present day. From May Day revels and Midsummer fires, to Harvest Home and Hallowe’en, to the twelve days of Christmas, Ronald Hutton takes us on a fascinating journey through the ritual year in Britain. He challenges many common assumptions about the customs of the past, and debunks many myths surrounding festivals of the present, to illuminate the history of the calendar year we live by today.
Reading Level: Advanced

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Historical;

”The Celts: A Very Short Introduction” Barry Cunliffe.

The Celts have long been a subject of fascination, speculation, and misunderstanding. From the ancient Romans to the present day, their real nature has been obscured by a tangled web of preconceived ideas and stereotypes.Cunliffe seeks to reveal this fascinating people using an impressive range of evidence, and exploring subjects such as trade, migration, and the evolution of Celtic traditions. Along the way, he exposes the way in which society’s needs have shaped our visions of the Celts, and examines such colorful characters as St. Patrick, Cu Chulainn, and Boudica.
Reading Level: Standard

”A Brief History of the Druids” Peter Beresford Ellis.

Contrary to the portrayal of them that we see in a lot of New Age books, the Druids were not a bunch of tree-hugging “get in touch with your feelings” peaceful clerics. They were in fact the intellectual social class of the Celts -Judges, Bards, Astronomers, Physicians and Philosophers. Although there is no written first-hand record of their activities, Ellis delves into the writings of contemporaries from other societies such as Pliny the Elder and Julius Caesar, whose Commentaries whilst politically partisan, do include frequent first hand references to the people he encountered in the British Isles.
Reading Level: Intermediate


“Women of the Celts” Jean Markale

Jean Markale takes an in-depth look at the society of the early Celtic tribes, and focuses on the role of women within that societal framework. There’s not a lot of information on Celtic mythology – but there’s a treasure trove of background on Celtic society, sociological theory, sexual standards, and economics. He also discusses legal issues that permitted the women of the Celts so much more freedom than their counterparts in other regions of the world, particularly the patriachalist Rome.
Reading Level: Advanced

”Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain” Ronald Hutton

This book is, quite simply, a tour de force. Interpretations of Druidry through the ages, treated to scrupulous scholarly dissection, in a masterly fashion. From Caesar, a truly machiavellian author, onwards, a succession of agenda-laden activists, scholars and authors have fashioned an image of druids for the popular imagination to suit the political and cultural points they are making. By examining all these written sources in the context of the social, economic, political standpoint of the various authors, a magnificent tapestry is gradually woven of English history and the men who have affected it; with. always, the misty figure of the druid just glimpsed to colour the narrative. Through the chapters we run – through the ages, and the gamut of emotional responses to the term druid; from disgust and vilification for a blood-soaked and savage priesthood to awe and wonder at the disseminators of the mystical wisdom of nature, pausing in admiration for them as radical freedom fighters along the way.
Reading Level: Graduate

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Poetical;

”The Mabinogi and Other Medieval Welsh Tales”

There are numerous translations available of The Mabinogion, which is the Welsh mythic cycle. However, Patrick Ford’s is one of the best. Many modern translations of the work are heavily influenced by a blend of Victorian romance, French Arthurian tales and New Age imagery. Ford leaves all of that out, and offers a faithful yet eminently readable version of the four tales of the Mabinogi, as well as three other stories from the myth cycle of the early Welsh legends. This is a primary source of Celtic legend and myth, so if you’re interested in the exploits of the gods and goddesses, as well as the mortals and demigods of folklore, this is a great resource to use.
Reading Level: Standard

”Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” Burton Raffel (Translator), Neil D. Isaacs

One of the greatest works of the Middle Ages, in a marvelous new verse translation Composed in the fourteenth century, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is as beloved as it is venerable, combining the hallmarks of medieval romance-pageantry, chivalry, and courtly love-with the charm of fairy tales and heroic sagas. Blending Celtic myth and Christian faith, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a Middle English masterpiece of magic, chivalry, and seduction.
Reading Level: Standard

”Taliesin: The Last Celtic Shaman” John Matthews

Taliesin, Chief Bard of Britain and Celtic shaman, was an historical figure who lived in Wales during the latter half of the sixth century. Encoded within his work are the ancestral beliefs of the Celtic and pre-Celtic peoples. In addition, his verse is established as a direct precursor to the Arthurian legends – and Taliesin himself, shaman and shapeshifter, is said to be the direct forebear to Merlin. Matthews sheds new light on the poems of Taliesin and on the vast body of allusion, story and myth that grew from his body of work and shamanic practice. This book reveals Druidic prophecy, methods of divination and the rites, rituals and beliefs that were essential to Celtic spiritual practice. It also features Taliesin’s works as keys to the Arthurian legends.
Reading Level: Intermediate


”The Bardic Handbook The Complete Manual for the 21st Century Bard” Kevan Manwaring

This complete manual for the Twenty-First-Century Bard contains all you need to know to start you on the Bardic Path. Here you will find inspiration and instruction, whether you want to dedicate yourself to the Way of Awen, or simply wish to improve your public-speaking skills and be able to express yourself with confidence. Learn how to enchant an audience with gramarye, through poetry, storytelling and songcraft, and how to use the magic of words to bless, honour, heal and celebrate your identity, community and heritage.With an easy-to-follow 12 month self-study programme and week-by-week exercises and mini-lessons about bardic lore, this book will lead you along the Way of Awen.
Reading Level: Advanced

”The White Goddess: a Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth” Robert Graves

This labyrinthine and extraordinary book-length essay on the nature of poetic myth-making, was the outcome of Graves’s vast reading and curious research into strange territories of folklore, mythology, religion and magic. Erudite and impassioned, it is a scholar-poet’s quest for the meaning of European myths, a polemic about the relations between man and woman, and also an intensely personal document in which Graves explored the sources of his own inspiration and, as he believed, all true poetry.
Reading Level: Graduate


”Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being” Ted Hughes

Might best be compared to Robert Graves’ book The White Goddess in terms of its scope and intent, it is a rich book filled with what I would call poetic as well as literary insights (like Graves’ work). The section where Hughes breaks down Shakespeare’s language showing how within each contrasting set of phrases he was communicating both to the rabble on the floor and the intellectuals in the gods is stunning. A worthwhile read for anyone who loves to spend time at the juncture between myth, literature and poetry, remarkable.
Reading Level: Graduate

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Spiritual;

”Way of the Peaceful Warrior” Dan Millman

You’ve learned body control and even some mind control, but your heart has not yet opened. Your goal should not be invulnerability, but vulnerability – to the world, to life, and therefore, to the Presence you felt. I’ve tried to show you by example that a warrior’s life is not about imagined perfection or victory; it is about love. Love is the warrior’s sword; wherever it cuts, it gives life, not death.’ This is a book I would give to anyone to read for pleasure and to those following the path of the spiritual warrior. It demonstrates that the true essence of a champion is indeed the culmination of a strong body, mind, as well as spirit.
Reading Level: Standard

”The Complete Illuminated Books William Blake” John Commander (Foreword by), David Bindman (Introduction)

In his Illuminated Books Blake combined text and imagery on a single page in a way that had not been done since the Middle Ages. For Blake, religion and politics, intellect and emotion, mind and body were both unified and in conflict with each other. There is no comparison with reading books such as Jerusalem, America, and Songs of Innocence and of Experience in Blake’s own medium, infused with his sublime and exhilarating colors. Tiny figures and forms dance among the lines of the text, flames appear to burn up the page, and dense passages of Biblical-sounding text are brought to a jarring halt by startling images of death, destruction, and liberation.Blake often spoke of Albion, England’s great, mythological past, ruled by Druids. To quote Peter Ackroyd: “All his life, Blake was entranced and persuaded by the idea of a deeply spiritual past, and he continually alluded to the possibility of ancient lore and arcane myths that could be employed to reveal previously hidden truths.”
Reading Level: Intermediate


”Sun of gOd: Discover the Self-Organizing Consciousness That Underlies Everything” by Gregory Sams.
“Sun of gOd presents a perfectly outrageous hypothesis: The sun is a conscious, living organism residing in a thriving galactic community, thinking stellar thoughts that span the entire universe. Surely this is nonsense. Except that the more you read the more a conscious universe begins to make sense. Gregory Sams’ book is a clearly written and persuasively reasoned argument to think about the sun in a radically new and refreshing way.” -Dean Radin, PhD, Senior Scientist, Institute of Noetic Sciences
Reading Level: Advanced


”Living With Honour: A Pagan Ethics” Emma Restall Orr

Living With Honour is a provocative and uncompromising exploration of how Paganism can provide the philosophical guidance to live honorably in a twenty-first Western society. Part One explores the history of Paganism, its undercurrents of anarchy, heresy, environmentalism and animism, finding its place within the history of Western philosophy. Part Two addresses key moral issues from that animistic perspective, beginning with the foundation of human relationships and attitudes towards the Other. It book explores how we value life, and firstly human life, looking at dying, suicide and euthanasia, birth, abortion and IVF. It then examines the human abuse of nonhuman animals, discussing sentience, personhood and inherent value. Finally, it focuses on current global crises, exploring need as opposed to desire.’This is an excellent pioneering work, erudite, courageous and imaginative, that provides a new kind of ethics, linked to a newly appeared complex of religions, which are founded on some very old human truths.’ Professor Ronald Hutton, world expert on paganism and author of The Triumph of the Moon and many other studies.
Reading Level: Advanced


”The Sacred and The Profane: The Nature of Religion” Mircea Eliade

In the “Sacred and the Profane”, Mircea Eliade describes two fundamentally different modes of experience: the traditional and the modern. Traditional man or “homo religious” is open to experiencing the world as sacred. Modern man however, is closed to these kinds of experiences. For him the world is experienced only as profane. It is the burden of the book to show in what these fundamentally opposed experiences consist. Traditional man often expresses this opposition as real vs. unreal or pseudoreal and he seeks as much as possible to live his life within the sacred, to saturate himself in reality. According to Eliade the sacred becomes known to man because it manifests itself as different from the profane world. This manifestation of the sacred Eliade calls “hierophany”. For Eliade this is a fundamental concept in the study of the sacred and his book returns to it again and again.The “Sacred and the Profane” is divided into four chapters dealing with space, time, nature, and man. To these is appended a “Chronological Survey Of the History of Religions as a Branch of Knowledge.”
Reading Level: Graduate

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Environmental;


”Copse: Cartoon Book of Tree Protesting” Kate Evans

The rise of the environmental direct action movement in Britain in the 1990s is documented nowhere as well as it is here. Kate Evans was at most of the major protests, and tells her own story, but also uses interviews with more than 50 others who were there too. All the warmth, the drive, the integrity and drama of these extraordinary events is told with a disarming honesty and and involving humanity. It becomes clear that these were no heroes of the mass-media’s ‘eco-warrior’ stories; these were simply people with a will to affect the things that affect them, and who realised that morals and motivation are enough.The book does much to break down the barrier of spectator and participant, making you realise the ordinariness of the campaigners, and also encouraging you with a comprehensive ‘how to’ section at the back and a massive list of relevant contactsIf you want to understand what it’s all been about, this book is as accessible as it is comprehensive.
Reading Level: Standard

“Small is Beautiful” E.F. Schumacher.

Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered is a collection of essays by British economist E. F. Schumacher. The phrase “Small Is Beautiful” is often used to champion small, appropriate technologies that are believed to empower people more, in contrast with phrases such as “bigger is better”. The point of this book is to assault what is meant by progress and try and understand what has gone wrong when we live in almost obscene wealth while large parts of the planet barely get by. This book is a call to arms, to understand things we all seem to have forgotten: what is value? what actually matters in life? should the means always justify the ends? what is work for? and who put all these economists in charge?
The Times Literary Supplement ranked Small Is Beautiful among the 100 most influential books published since World War II.
Reading Level: Intermediate


”This Borrowed Earth” Robert Emmet Herna.

Lessons from the Fifteen Worst Environmental Disasters around the WorldOver the last century mankind has irrevocably damaged the environment through the unscrupulous greed of big business and our own willful ignorance. Here are the strikingly poignant accounts of disasters whose names live in infamy: Chernobyl, Bhopal, Exxon Valdez, Three Mile Island, Love Canal, Minamata, and others. And with these, the extraordinary and inspirational stories of the countless men and women who fought bravely to protect the communities and environments at risk.
Reading Level: Intermediate

”No Logo” Naomi Klein.

In the last decade, No Logo has become a cultural manifesto for the critics of unfettered capitalism worldwide. As the world faces a second economic depression, No Logo’s analysis of our corporate and branded world is as timely and powerful as ever. Klein also looks at the workers who keep these companies running, most of whom never share in any of the great rewards. The president of Borders, when asked whether the bookstore chain could pay its clerks a “living wage” wrote that “while the concept is romantically appealing, it ignores the practicalities and realities of our business environment”. Those clerks should probably just be grateful they’re not stuck in an Asian sweatshop, making pennies an hour to produce Nike sneakers or other must-have fashion items.

Throughout the four parts (“No Space”, “No Choice”, “No Jobs”, and “No Logo”), Klein writes about issues such as sweatshops in the Americas and Asia, culture jamming, corporate censorship, and Reclaim the Streets.

Reading Level: Advanced

”Landscape and Memory” Simon Schama.

An extraordinary survey of European attitudes to and conceptualizations of nature over the course of the last 500 years or so, and how our ideas of nature have shaped how we interact with it. In a wide sweep of history that encompassess as unlikely a set of figures as Varus, a Roman general responsible for a catastrophic lost battle in the Black Forest and a 19th century French founder of the concept of “eco-rambling”, Schama has produced a stunning work that seeks to answer the central question: is our view of nature ruled by the mind, or by magical human interpretations? There are few books that could match this pyrotechnic display of learning and exposition of aesthetic views of nature that have shaped warfare,politics,religion and modern ecology. It is impossible to view today’s environmentalism before reading this provocative and insightful book the same way as when one puts it down. Reasonably scholarly but still quite readable.
Reading Level: Graduate

Come forth into the light of things, let Nature be your teacher.

William Wordsworth. ~


Compiled by Celestial Elf /|\

the bee myth

An Environmental Machinima film based on Willi Paul’s modern myth, The Bee Cave Spirits; ( http://www.planetshifter.com/node/1638 )
Set in a post Distopian society of a not too distant future, this film introduces the cause of bees and their integral value to the eco-sphere.

Bees in Traditional Culture;
Throughout history in many world cultures a mystical relationship to honeybees can be found.
In the Ancient world the Great Mother was known as the Queen Bee and her priestesses were called Melissae.
They served the Bee Goddesses and functioned as Oracles carrying the golden wisdom of the Goddess to her people.
The honeycomb was even considered by the Greek Pythagoreans to be a symbol of the Goddess’ qualities of love and harmony, because of its hexagonal shape which in being composed of two triangles, one pointing upwards (Fire) and the other downwards, (Water) symbolized the perfect union between the opposites.
The Druids of Northern Europe reverenced the bees for their ability to pollinate flowers and crops, which was regarded as a sacred charge because honey was seen as a precious gift from the Mother Goddess herself.
Many Native American Indian tribes also used honey and other bee by-products, including the early Maya and Aztec Indians who kept bees and collected honey from the wild bees.
However the bee population of North America and Europe is now in serious decline, which threatens disaster to our food crops as they are dependent upon the bees to pollinate them.
The increase of commercial agriculture with its use of pesticides and destruction of wild plants and flowers upon which the bees forage upon contributed to this problem.
As bees are then an indicator of cross species health on ‘Mother Earth’, they are interestingly also an allegory for mankind’s psychological and spiritual well-being…

Introducing Permaulture;
Permaculture, based on ecological and biological principles, is a holistic approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that are modeled on the relationships found in natural ecologies, harmoniously integrating the land with all of its inhabitants.
Whilst it is understood that earlier peoples did farm in cooperation with the Earth and her seasonal cycles, that for example the Druids in the North and other social leaders did much to manage and advise their communities on how and when to sow and tend crops and animals, following ‘modern’ Industrialization these techniques had been abandoned in favor of faster turn around of product for the market.
In our time however, Bill Mollison, who could be called the instigator of a Quiet Revolution, launched with his book Permaculture One (1978) an international resurgence of land-use structured on cooperation with nature.
( http://www.scottlondon.com/interviews/mollison.html )
Within this Permaculture system, the ecological processes of plants, animals, their nutrient cycles, climatic factors and weather cycles are all included, work is minimised, “wastes” become resources, productivity and yields increase, and environments are restored.
The fundamental ‘core values’ of Permaculture are often summarized as;
1. Earthcare – recognising that the Earth is the source of all life (is possibly itself a living entity — see the Gaia theory) and that we are a part of Earth, not apart from it.

2. Fairshare – in which animals are treated as co-habitators and co-workers of the Earth, eating foods normally unpalatable to people such as pests ie slugs and termites, and supplying valuable mineral rich fertilizer through their droppings.

3. Natural Energy use: e.g. employing a cave for preservation due to its ideally dry, dark and warm conditions, using the integration of co-operative crops rather than weeding as the growth of field flowers among corn allows the bees to better pollinate, and employing some ‘weeds’ to keep others at bay due to the nature of their chemical interaction with the soil, thus avoiding pesticides and chemicals which undermine the Earths ability to host its cycle of growths, in contrast to more usually practiced Industrial Agriculture which intensively exploits the soil, plants and animals.

For more information on Permaculture please follow these links;
( http://www.permaculture.org.uk/ )
( http://www.permacultureusa.org/ )

Blessed Bee !

Happy Eostre ~

Equal Day and Equal Night, Ostara’s circle brings the Light,
Eostre’s celestial satellite singing, of Spring’s beginning and new life bringing.

Farewell to the Winter whose dark days were drawing,
As Stars blinked in wonder and the cold winds were falling,
To your secrets of Silence and of Snow gently calling,
Farewell to your slower-time of fireside dreams and sleep Yawing.

We drank the cup of your deepness, as Earth in your Shadow..
We tended goat sheep and cattle, kept flame as fields fallow.

Now, calls the Guardian of all growing things, tender and tall,
Now the veil rises, opening the new magic to all.
And as your sacred Hare paints the egg under the Infinite Tree,
We awaken refreshed to set your spring delight free.

Welcome Now then, to the sun bright and subtle,
As your warmth shimmers lightly, unfolding seeds all a-futtle,
With your Green-blood, our Red-blood, in the dance of your rhythm,
As bird breeze and bee quicken your message and mission.

Welcome to the creatures of the life-tide arising,
Under the blueness of blue-sky, beside the fast fox surprising.
Now to give thanks, for your Life Song deep and high,
We call out loud as a flower, from our hearts to the sky!

Come one and come all to this Mystery Renewed,
For the Lord of the Dance soon among us imbued,
And to you who make fertile the Earth and her Children,
For your Geomancic ways of the Sun Moon and Whirtle,

We give thanks for your blessings, and to our bright kindred three,
Our Rite here at an end, Happy Eostre to Thee !

Original Poem c. Celestial Elf

Very grateful thanks to Lisa Thiel for personally granting me permission
to use her beautiful song for this machinima film,
Ostara Song (c) 2005 Lisa Thiel via Sacred Dream .com
( http://www.sacreddream.com/ )

………………………………………..

The March equinox will occur on March 20 in 2011,
marking the beginning of Spring in the northern hemisphere and fall (Autumn) in the southern hemisphere.
The word “equinox” derives from the Latin words meaning “equal night” and refers to the time when the sun crosses the equator. At such times, day and night are everywhere of nearly equal length everywhere in the world.

Marking the end of Winter and the first day of Spring.
The Earth is becoming green and birds are beginning to sing, Trees are in bud, foals and calves are being born, and early summer crops are sprouting or ready to be planted…

Some Pagans now call this first day of Spring, this Vernal Equinox, Ostara.
It is a day for all to celebrate longer daylight hours, returning warmth and the start of planting.
Ostara is sacred to Eostre the Ancient Goddess of fertility,
(from whence we get the word estrogen)
Her two symbols were the Cosmic Egg and the Mad March Hare, latterly abducted and morphed into the Easter rabbit.
The myth of the Mad, Moon Gazing Hare reflects ancient beliefs that seeing a moon gazing hare would bring growth, re-birth, abundance, new-beginnings and good fortune.
The Hare however, as the symbol of Eostre, also represents fertility and fecundity.
In other words, the hare is the symbol of the rebirth of life under the new Spring. The Egg is also the most basic symbol of rebirth, renewal, and new growth.

Happy Eostre to You ~

The Spirit of Tree..

>Symbol of Life & Sacred Knowledge is Tree…

Tree provides shelter,food, heat, & clothing (from its bark) as well as tools & weapons, even recycles our air, and thus has been revered since Ancient times.

Druids, Priests and Priestesses, Kings & Queens, all carried staves, wands, or branches (of Oak or other sacred trees) as a symbol of their authority.
The Staff (also made from rowan, walnut, birch and beech) became a symbol that the bearer was an emissary of the Gods…

Tree symbolism was common throughout ancient Europe, some believe that Tree supports the World(s)

Tree’s roots extend beneath Earth into the Underworlds.
Tree’s branches reach up into the Heavens, where God and Goddess can still be seen acting as the Sun & Moon,
& the trunk of Tree is a bridge between these worlds….

Birds are the messengers of the Gods, and the voice of Tree, all birds…

The old mystical belief of ‘As Above, So Below’ came from Tree.
This refers to the belief that whatever is in the unseen world is replicated and manifest in the physical world….
Tree gladly shares its blessings with all who understand..
listen now to Advice from a Tree;

Dear Friend,
Stand Tall and Proud, Sink your roots deeply into the Earth,
Reflect the light of a greater source, Think long term,
Go out on a limb, Remember your place among all living beings,
Embrace with joy the changing seasons, For each yields its own abundance,
The Energy and Birth of Spring,
The Growth and Contentment of Summer,
The Wisdom to let go of leaves in the Fall,
The Rest and Quiet Renewal of Winter,

Feel the Wind and the Sun, And delight in their presence,
Look up at the Moon that shines down upon you And the mystery of the Stars at Night.
Seek nourishment from the good things in life, Simple pleasures,
Earth, fresh Air, Light.

Be content with your natural beauty, Drink plenty of water,
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes, Be flexible,
Remember your roots, Enjoy the view!
(by Ilan Shamir)

As Tree unites Heaven with Earth, so the Goddess and God become one.

Nature spirits and elementals dwell in Tree, where they watch out and protect all creatures.

Tree taught wisdom in the Catechism for a Witch’s Child;

When they ask to see your gods,your book of prayers..
show them lines drawn delicately with veins on the underside of a bird’s wing,
tell them you believe in giant sycamores mottled and stark against a winter sky,
and in nights so frozen, stars crack open spilling streams of molten ice to earth,
and tell them how you drink a holy wine of honeysuckle on a warm spring day,
and of the softness of your mother who never taught you death was life’s reward,
but who believed in the earth and the sun and a million, million light years,
of being.

(by J. L. Stanley)

There is Music amongst the trees… But our hearts must be at peace to hear it ~

Imbolc Blessings…

>

Imbolc (February 1st) is a time of new beginnings,
Of Welcoming the first Light of Spring and of Honouring the Celtic Goddess Brighid.

It also marks the center point of the dark half of the year.
There is in Ancient traditions a Spiritual reality and a Physical reality associated with each Season.
At this time as the ewe’s become ready for conception in Spring when their milk will flow, the focus is upon the as yet Unrealised Fertility of Nature in this New Year.
For this reason, Imbolc was also called Oimealg by the Druids, from the Gaelic word “oimelc” which means “ewes milk”
As the Maiden Goddess of this time & because of these reasons of fertility, Brighid was symbolised by White flowers, the Stars and the Milky Way.
Most importantly, as Her womb now becomes ripe with fertility,
She symbolizes the great potential of everything yet to come.
Yet much of her power also resides in the uncertainties of this fecundity.
It is therefore considered taboo to cut plants during this time,
as this would destroy the blessing of new life given by the Goddess to the Earth.

Imbolc is the festival of this Maiden Goddess then,
& from this day to March 21st is her season to prepare for growth and renewal.


(video by Paganboynuneaton)

The meanings of Imbolc are deeply bound with Natures cycles,
As is the case for all Ancient Spiritual ways.

Imbolc is a particularly important date in this natural calendar as it marks the beginning of the agricultural year.
Preparations for spring sowing would begin at this time, and included blessing the seeds and consecrating the agricultural tools, particularly the plough…
In some areas, this is the first day of ploughing in preparation for planting of crops, and the plough woud be decorated to celebrate its importance.
Pieces of cheese and bread were sometimes left by the plough and within the newly turned furrows, as offerings to the nature spirits.

Spring Cleaning,
Prior to the eve of Imbolc the home would be given a thorough cleaning in preparation for a visit from the Goddess.
The fireplace especially should be cleaned very well and a birch branch should be used to symbolically sweep the floors.
Birch has strong associations with Brighid, and has long been used for rites of purification and new beginnings.

Offerings,
A small dish of butter (referencing the fertility of the ewes & The Goddess)should be placed on a windowsill and a fresh fire kindled (evoking the return of the Sun)in the hearth, to honor the Goddess and the new Life that she brings.

Candles,
The lighting of candles honoring the re-birth of the Sun but dedicated to Brighid & floated on the waters of Lake, River and Ocean, emphasized the balance between male fire and female water energies, an essential harmony if the forces of Nature would sucessfully conjoin and beget fruitfullness.
Thus the candles also symbolised The(Re-)Union of the Goddess and the God.

Brideog or Corn Dolls,
Ideally made by the man of the household (again balancing the procreative energies of nature)before the traditional family or communal feast.
Long pieces of straw or rushes would be woven into the shape of a doll and wrapped with white cloth to represent a dress.
She would then be decorated with greenery, flowers, and shells or stones and consecrated with a sprinkle of sacred water whilst invoking Brighid’s blessings.
These dolls were then placed in baskets with white flower bedding, and set before the hearth..

Brighid’s Crosses,
This is the most widely practiced custom associated with Imbolc.
These are woven (solar as opposed to later christian) crosses of straw.
Old crosses from previous years should be removed to the rafters and the new crosses hung near or over doorways.
These are thought especially effective in protecting the household from fire and lightning, as well as blessing all who pass under thhem.

Divination,
The eve of Imbolc is traditionally the best time of the year to perform divinations enquiring after the future of your family & the best choices to be made.
This is because Imbolc as the approach of Spring was held to be one of the Sacred Times when the Otherworlds were more easily communicated with.
This channel of communication was more Open at such special times (including dawn and dusk, but also at some special locations..) due to the Seasons changes in the Cosmological Wheel of Nature, impacting the balance Light & Darkness, and of the Spirit worlds.

As ever on this path of learning & sharing what I learn about these Ancient ways,
I am reminded once more that All of these rituals and practises celebrating the Seasons, the Sacred Times and Tides at work in our Lives and in the Nature which clothes, sustains and surrounds us,
All of these practises are not arcane and mysterious arts.
These are Light Hearted, Hopeful and Bright-Shinning Ways to Honour and Celebrate the Life we are given,
to make the most of the Nature around us and the Communities with which we share.
I should rather rename these Pagan(means ‘Nature’) Traditions as
Good Husbandry/Wifery for sucessful integrated living with our Selves and our Sacred Earth.

Happy Imbolc
Bright Blessings to All.

Glad tidings for Yule! (mid-winter Solstice 21st December)

In Ancient Northern Europe the mid-winter Solstice (between 20th/23rd of December) was called ‘Earth Mother‘s Night’, and as the shortest day of the year it effectively represents the turning point of the season.

The Romans called this Sostice the Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun.
The Roman midwinter festival of Saturnalia (17-25 December) celebrated Saturnus (god of fertility, harvest and time) & his wife Ops (Mother Earth). Whilst Temples and homes were decorated with stars and suns and evergreens symbolizing life’s continuity, Processions of people with masked or blackened faces symbolizing the dark of winter danced through the streets, which has survived in the custom of ‘Mummer’s Plays‘.
Masters also feasted with their slaves and a ‘King’ was appointed from their number to take charge of the revels
giving rise to the ‘Lord of Misrule‘ of medieval Christmas festivities, which tradition survived into the 17th Century.”

In Northern Europe the winter festival was the Yule (Juul).
As the people thought the Sun stood still for twelve days in the midwinter, plunging Mother Earth and all her growing things into the dark, coldness of death, It was thought that spring could not come without their celebration of midwinter.
During this time the Druids began the tradition of burning the Yule Log to conquer the darkness and to evoke the return of the Sun for the new year, the Suns divine male energy was needed to return and quicken the Earths sacred female energy for the Rebirth of spring.
A Yule Tree was also illuminated with candles, to further this effort to attract the Sun.
Therefore ‘Yule’ is the midwinter festival of light, as the length of daylight progressively increases after the winter solstice.

Along with the Evergreen, the Holly and the Ivy and the Mistletoe are important plants of this season, symbolizing fertility & everlasting life.
Mistletoe, also known as The Golden Bough (& called Allheal, used in folk medicine to cure many ills) was held sacred by the Druids and Norse people, who cut it with a golden sickle (symbolic of the Sun) on the sixth night of the moon.
Both Druids and Romans hung sprigs of mistletoe in their homes and places of celebration to bring good fortune and peace & the Scandinavians would halt and call Truce in battle if they came across mistletoe in their Forests.
In addition, its fertility endowing powers have by tradition created its modern role as a symbol of love (a man should pick a berry when he kisses a woman beneath the mistletoe, when the last berry is gone there should be no more kissing!).

The myth of the Holly King/Oak King probably originated from the Druids to whom these two trees were highly sacred.
The Oak King (Lord of the Waxing Year) kills the Holly King (Lord of the Waning Year) at Yule (Winter Solstice).
The Oak King then reigns until Litha (Summer Solstice) when the two fight again and the Holly King is victorious.
The Holly King is still seen in some representations of the modern Santa Claus.”

The Nordic Yule began in the evening of winter solstice 20th-23rd December, with the sacrifice of a wild pig (boar) to Mother Earth.
This gave strength to Mother Earth (Freja), so that she could give birth to her Son (Balder) on 24th of December who represented both the next generation and most imporatntly, light ie the New Sun (which was also echoed in the Rebirth of the Persian Sun God Mithrais {as well as the Greek Apollo} on 25th December, a significant date later co-opted by the Christian Church…)
The ham as the Yule dish is particularly significant because in ancient times the pig was considered a holy animal and personification of Mother Earth, symbolizing her fertility.
Thus the Yule ham is Mother Earth herself.

Regarding such Sacrifices in these Ancient traditions;
As they held that Divinity was inherent in all creatures as an expression of the God’s powers within nature,
so the most powerful of these rituals was when a God was sacrificed to share their divine energy.
Those who ate of such sacrificial feasts received a part of the Deities divine power,
just as the death of one creature gives life to others.
For the ancient people such traditions were completely normal as they ‘sacrificed’ the seed in spring to earth, where it ‘died’, & later rose again to give life to many new seeds which in turn would both feed many people and beget many more new seeds.
(These principles are similar in theme to the Christian atonement sacrifice of Christ, the ritual of Eucharist and the Ascension)

Be that as it may,
I share with you now Bright Yule Blessings:

Yule Blessings.

Blessings to you from the Earth Mother.
She is the Moon.
She watches over all of us by.
The light that she casts over the blessed earth.
Walk her night lit path
And happiness you will find at every turn.
Blessed be!

Blessings to you from the Sky Father.
He is the Sun. He holds us up
And brings us strength. Carry his sword
To cleave the evil from your path
And you will be unmolested.
Blessed Be!

Blessings to you from the Great Spirit.
It binds us all together:
Man to womyn; beast to beast; all.
We are it and it is us.
Blessed Be!

May you have a wonderful Holiday.
The time has come for the sun to be reborn
He lies in his Mother’s womb waiting…
Awaiting his reappearance on this plane.
Let us all rejoice in his rebirth and ours.
Blessed Be!

(by yusef)

Merry Solstice, er…Happy Yule…

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