Posts Tagged ‘OBOD’

On the Seven Gifts of Druidry

On the Seven Gifts of Druidry

Australian Standing Stones Glenn Innes – New South Wales

 
It is often said – usually by those who have not studied the subject – that the world-view and philosophy of the old Druids is lost beyond recall… [but] it is by no means impossible to regain in the present age the spirit of original Druid philosophy. It is essential indeed to do so; for a revival of the old Druidic way of thought, acknowledging the sanctity of the living earth and all its creatures, seems the only alternative to planetary dissolution.
John Michell Stonehenge

Today our biggest problem is that we have separated ourselves from Nature – so much that there is a risk we may not survive as a species. We need philosophies, spiritualities, ideas, that can help us get back in touch with Nature again – our spirituality must become ecological. Prince Philip, in a speech to a Washington conference on religion and ecology controversially pointed to the direction in which we should look, when he said: “It is now apparent that the ecological pragmatism of the so-called pagan religions…was a great deal more realistic in terms of conservation ethics than the more intellectual monotheistic philosophies of the revealed religions.”

It now seems that the Old Ways, reinterpreted for our times, can offer us the kind of spirituality that we need to heal the separation that has occurred between ourselves and our environment. Druidry is one such Way, and although at first sight it might appear to be just an old curiosity, a quaint memory from the distant past, if we take the time to look at it more closely, we will discover a treasure-chest just waiting to be opened. And in this chest we can find at least seven gifts that Druidry brings to our modern world:

The first gift is a Philosophy: which emphasizes the sacredness of all life, and our part in the great web of creation. It cares passionately about the preservation and protection of the environment, and offers a worldview, which is ecological, geocentric, pragmatic, idealistic, spiritual and romantic. It does not separate Spirit and Matter – it offers a sensuous spirituality that celebrates physical life.

The second gift puts us back in touch with Nature: with a set of practices that help us feel at one again with Nature, our ancestors, our own bodies, and our sense of Spirit, by working with plants, trees, animals, stones, and ancestral stories. Eight seasonal celebrations help us attune to the natural cycle, and help us to structure our lives through the year, and to develop a sense of community with all living beings.

The third gift brings Healing: with practices that promote healing and rejuvenation, using spiritual and physical methods in a holistic way to promote health and longevity.

The fourth gift affirms our life as a Journey: with rites of passage: for the blessing and naming of children, for marriage, for death, and for other times of initiation, when it is helpful to ritually and symbolically mark our passage from one state to another.

The fifth gift opens us to other Realities: with techniques for exploring other states of consciousness, other realities, the Otherworld. Some of these are also used by other spiritual traditions, and include meditation, visualization, shamanic journeying, and the use of ceremony, music, chanting and sweathouses, but they are all grounded in specifically Celtic and Druidic imagery and tradition.

The sixth gift develops our Potential: Druidry as it is practiced today offers a path of self-development that encourages our creative potential, our psychic and intuitive abilities, and fosters our intellectual and spiritual growth.

The seventh gift of Druidry is the gift of Magic: it teaches the art of how we can open to the magic of being alive, the art of how we can bring ideas into manifestation, and the art of journeying in quest of wisdom, healing and inspiration. 

Grateful thanks to The Order of Bards Ovates and Druids for the account from their website.


The Druid’s Prayer

Grant, O Gods and Goddesses, thy protection,
and in protection, strength,
and in strength, understanding,
and in understanding, knowledge,
and in knowledge, the knowledge of justice,
and in the knowledge of justice, the love of it,
and in the love of it, the love of all existences,
and in the love of all existences,
the love of the Gods and Goddesses and all goodness.


Awen ~

 

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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 )

The Tree Of Life

Based on ‘The Tree’, an Original Short Story by L.F.Tallis
for the Prose competition Order of Bards Ovates and Druids.
Adapted for Machinima Film by Celestial Elf.

The Tree stands alone in the middle of the field, it’s been there since time began, so the legend goes…..

The farmer grumbles at the tree and raises his fist, as he does every year.
“Damn tree! I will have to plough around you again, as every year, tomorrow I will cut you down and be done with you.”
The tree’s leaves rustle in the wind and the branches sway.

“Be a pity to cut the tree down don’t you think.”

The farmer stops the plough
“Who said that” the farmer shouts, “Show yourself. ”
The farmer turns around and he sees the man, standing just behind him, at the back of his plough, a man he’s never seen before.
The farmer notices that the man is strangely dressed all in green.
He’s wearing a dark green jacket and light green trousers, and on his head a round hat with leaves on the top.
The farmer asks again,
“Who are you and what are you doing in my field?”

The man looks up at the farmer.
“So this is your field?” and then he gives the farmer a bow.

“Yes and my fathers and his fathers before him, for as long as I can remember and it will be my sons after me.”

The man looks at the tree.
“So this tree has grown here all that time, and no ones cut it down before.”
The man sits down on a big root that is growing out of the tree, above the ground.

The farmer climbs down from his plough.
“There is a silly folk legend, but I don’t believe in such silly notions,” the farmer says as he walk over to the man all dressed in green.

The man reaches into his jacket pocket and takes out a pie.
“A legend,” he says as he then takes a knife out of his other pocket, and cuts the pie in half.
“So pray tell me of this legend,” the man asks the farmer, as he offers the farmer half of his pie.

The farmer is hungry, he’s been working in the field since sunrise and hasn’t had time for breakfast yet, so he accepts the offer.
“Thank you,” and he sits down beside the man in green and takes a big bite of the pie.
Now he’s never tasted such a pie, after every bit he feels full of energy,
“This pie is so good..” he says as he wipes his mouth.

The man looks at the farmer and just smiles, and asks the farmer again about the legend, “Apparently the tree, has a Spirit Guardian that protects it, that’s all I know ” the farmer replies.

The man reaches out and touches the old tree trunk,
the farmer continues talking,
“Haven’t really taken any notice or listened to the story’s, just a silly myth past down from one generation to the next.”

The man in green is still touching the tree trunk,
“This tree looks very old, do you know how old it is ?”

The farmer looks at the tree, now he’s never really done that before, it has lots of old scars and crags,..
“No and I don’t really care ”the farmer stands up and gives the tree a kick,
“the tree is coming down tomorrow, and that will be the end of the silly stories.”
The farmer looks at his watch,
“Well I have to go, bye and thank you for the pie.”

The man in green now stops rubbing the old tree and looks at the farmer.
“Glad you liked it, I will be passing here again tomorrow, so I will see you,… unless you change your mind about cutting the tree down.”

The farmer shakes his head,
“No, it’s had its last day” then he climbs onto the plough.

“Then I’ll see you tomorrow ” the man in green says as he walks behind the tree, as the farmer drives back to the farmyard.

Ring Ring, Ring Ring, the alarm goes of its 3 am, the farmer gets up dresses, and goes down stairs, by the back door is the axe he sharpened last night ready to cut the tree down today.
He picks up the axe and goes outside and makes his way over to the field, and to the tree in the middle, as he approaches he see the man leaning against the tree.

“Good morning such a lovely day,” the man says, looking at the axe in the farmers hand, “Is that the axe to cut the tree down with?”

The farmer nods
“Yes and it wont take me long… ” he says as he walks up to the tree,

The man moves away from the tree,
“Are you really going to cut it down, no way I can change your mind?”

The man looks at the tree then back at the farmer,
“No, just keep out of my way or you may get struck by my axe!”

The farmer makes a mark on the trunk, ready for the axe to hit, then he raises the axe and takes a swing at the tree, the tree shudders under the blow which takes out a chunk of bark.

The man in green turns red just for a moment, the farmer hasn’t notice as he raising the axe up for another swing at the tree.
The man in green puts his hand on the farmers shoulder,
“Have you eaten yet ?” he asks,

“No not yet…” replied the farmer as he lowers the axe.

“Then have some of my pie, the Tree can wait for a few more minutes, I made it just for you.”

The farmer puts down the axe and takes the pie, it smells so good, he takes a big bite, then another.
The man just watches as he eats up all the pie.
“How was it ?” the man asks.

The farmer licks his lips
“So good, every bite has a different taste, pork, beef, chicken I could eat more.”

So the man offers him his half.
“Then have my half too, I’m not hungry.”

The farmer eats every crumb,
“Thank you, I feel so full of life! ”

The man in green gives the farmer a strange look.
“You still have time to change your mind, do you really need to cut the tree down ?” he waits for a reply,
but the farmer doesn’t answer, he just picks up the axe, then he raises it up high and strikes the tree.

As he strikes the tree, the man turns red and speaks
“That was the second blow to the Tree.”

The farmer looks at the tree,…..
“Yes and now its going to be three,” as the axe hits the tree a cry is heard from the farmers mouth,
“AAAAAhh……….hwe”
The farmer tries to run, but he is rooted to the spot, the axe is wrenched out of his hands by the big tree-root and thrown far away.

“You really should have listened to the legend ” the green man says, the farmer can only look on, as the root rises up and entwines around his waist and lifts him off the ground.

The farmer shouts,
“Help me, Help me ” to the man.

The man looks up,
“You hurt yourself, I can’t help you.”

The farmer sobs
“How did I?”

The man continues,
“Why, with every blow you struck to the old tree, was to yourself, as this is the tree of life.”

Then at this the tree root rose up and then plunged down deep into the earth with the farmer tightly in its grasp, and disappears.

The man looks down at the ground with a sad look on his face.
“They never listen ” then he turns and slowly walks into the tree,
the leaves rustle just for a moment and then are silent.

Legend of the tree
I am the tree of life my time is endless,
I have no beginning and I have no end.
Standing here in this field, there is only one of me.
Beware all that try to destroy me, for I am all Life, Green is the man that my spirit lives in.
Twice I will give you pardon, Twice you can walk away.
Twice I will give you life, But heed this warning…
Thrice you will end your life.

The moral of this story is that every action you take can and will have a bearing on your life and others around.

c. L.F.Tallis.

http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F41318679&show_artwork=true

The Importance of Trees;

Trees are the largest and longest living organisms on The Earth, important in so many physical, ecological, environmental, psychological and spiritual ways since time immemorial.

Whilst Northern Europe was once covered in Trees and Forests, that it is no-longer so makes all the more pressing our need for many reasons to protect and cherish those Trees, Woods and Forests that we still have.

On a wider world basis, the Ecological significance of Trees is so important for everyone’s continued well-being and life, as although the Trees now occupy less than 6 per cent of the land surface of The Earth, they sustain more than half of its biological life forms.

The rising tide of human needs by way of crop foods and of crops for food animals, along with a seemingly endless push to pave over paradise, to re-purpose previously wooded and forest lands is leading to the degradation of the environment and the extinction of many species. There is a real danger that in the not too distant future mankind will destroy a large proportion of the essential diversity of species on The Earth, creating an uninhabitable environment which will lead to an extinction event for humanity. This is not quite as bleak as it may sound because massive extinctions have occurred before and may occur again. The Earth will in time hopefully recover and new species emerge to fill the gaps left by those who have gone before….

For an Eco-Deprived Future, Welcome Artificial Trees….

Towering manmade structures dubbed ‘Super-treespartially block Singapore’s financial skyline. Ranging from 82 to 164 feet tall(25 to 50 meters), the concrete ‘trees’ are actually vertical gardens covered in tropical flowering climbers, ferns, and epiphytes—nonparasitic plants that grow without soil, using other plants or objects for support. The Supertrees are part of the Gardens by the Bay, a government effort to bring a sampling of the national gardens into the city center. When the site is complete, it will host 18 Supertrees covered in more than 200 species and varieties of plant life.

In the simplest, physical perspective, some of the incredible and complex ways that The Trees sustain our lives and world include;

Trees Produce Oxygen. One mature Tree may produce as much oxygen as ten people breathe in one year. In every Tree, the process of ‘breathing’ takes place in the leaf. Chlorophyll which gives leaves their green coloration, absorbs CO2 gasses in the Air which is chemically and cleanly processed and then released as Oxygen though its pores.

Trees Clean The Air. By intercepting airborne particles, reducing heat, and absorbing pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide, Trees remove this air pollution by lowering air temperature, through their respiration, and by retaining particulates

Trees Clean the Soil. By absorbing dangerous chemicals and other pollutants, Trees both store harmful pollutants and also change some of these into less harmful forms. Trees filter sewage and farm chemicals, reduce the effects of animal wastes, clean roadside spills and clean water runoff into streams.

Trees in Towns and Cities Reduce Noise Pollution. By absorbing and muffling the increasing range of intrusive and unnatural noises created by the Eco-adversarial machines with which we surround our lives, Trees make our lives in modern urban masses more manageable.

Trees Counter Soil Erosion.Erosion control has always started with tree and grass planting projects. Tree roots bind the soil and their leaves break the force of wind and rain on soil. Trees fight soil erosion, conserve rainwater and reduce water runoff and sediment deposit after storms.As can be seen now in parts of Africa, where the local environment has lost its topsoil due to removal of ‘useless Trees’ and over farming over generations, the replanting of such Trees will eventually facilitate a build up of valuable topsoil and subsequently be suitable for farming once again.

Trees are Carbon Sinks. This means that as The Tree produces its food, it absorbs and locks away carbon dioxide in the wood, roots and leaves. Carbon dioxide is a global warming suspect. A Forest is a carbon storage area or a ‘Sink’ that can lock up as much carbon as it produces. This locking-up process stores carbon as wood which is therefore not available as a ‘greenhouse’ gas with all the attendant ecological environmental problems that that entails.

Tree Blessing

The concept of The Tree of Life has been used in Science, Religion, Philosophy, Theology, Mythology, and many other areas. The Tree Of Life is a Universal symbol found in many Spiritual traditions around the world symbolizing Life itself, with its branches reaching to the Heaves, Father Sky, and its buried roots linking to Mother Earth. As such The Tree of Life provides a perfect mystical metaphor for the interconnectedness of all life on Planet Earth.


The Akashic Records Tree of Soul Consciousness
Individual trees are designated to represent the ‘Axis Mundithe axis of the world, or ‘World Tree’ which is a point of intersection between worlds, allowing mystical access between one plane and another.


In terms of The Tree’s Religious and Spiritual context, Trees have been part of pagan worship and magical workings since our distant ancestors. According to the Roman Authors Lucan and Pomponius Mela, the Gaulish Celts worshiped in groves of Trees, a practice which Tacitus and Dio Cassius say was also found among the Celts of Britain. (Strabo Geographica XII, 5, I).
For the ancient Celts, the Yew Tree was a symbol of immortality and in general Trees acted as symbols of renewal. A Tree scarred by lightning was identifies as The Tree Of Life and according to Pliny, the ancient Druids believed that mistletoe grew in these Trees struck by lightning.Druids preformed rituals and ceremonies in groves of sacred Oak Trees and also believed, it is thought, that the interior of the Oak Tree was the abode of the dead.

Majesty, The Fredville Oak, Kent

Yggdrasil by subdommedia

In the Norse Religion, The World Tree is called Yggdrasil, usually thought to be a very sacred, giant Yew or Ash Tree with leaves that extend into the heavens and three roots delving into the lower worlds. A Dragon lives among its roots, an Eagle among its branches, and four Stags live around it’s base and eat the leaves. The Tree is an important location in Norse mythology not only because of its central location in the universe and the creatures that live among it, but also because of many important events which occur there. The existence of nine worlds around Yggdrasil is mentioned more than once in the Old Norse sources, they could either exist one above the other or be grouped around the tree and there are references to worlds existing beneath the tree, while the gods are pictured as in the sky and of a rainbow bridge (Bifrost) connecting the tree with other worlds.

The Worlds or Realms of Yggdrasil are as follows;

The Upper Level
Asgard – At the very top of Yggdrasil, home of two races of Gods, the Aesir and the Vanir.
Vanaheim –The Vanir lived in this realm while they were at war with the Aesir. Since the Gods made peace, the Vanir have lived in Asgard.
Alfheim – The land of the light elves.

The Middle Level
Midgard – This is the realm that we all know, the land of Earth and mankind. There is a bridge of a rainbow between Midgard and Asgard, called Bifrost.
Jotenheim – An icy land of the frost giants.
Nidavellir – Realm of the dwarves.
Svartalfheim – Land of dark elves.
Muspelheim – The fire giants live here, and it is one of these giants that will set the world ablaze at Ragnarok.

The Lower Level
Niflheim – The roots of Yggdrasil emerge in this cold and dark underworld. The goddess Hel rules here, from her hall Eljudnir. Sometimes this realm is actually called Hel, and some sources consider Niflheim and Hel to be two distinct lands of the underworld.

Yggdrasil

The generally accepted meaning of Yggdrasil is ‘Odin’s horse’ because Odin sacrificed himself by hanging from the Tree to learn wisdom, leading the Tree to also be called Odin’s gallows.

Related to Yggdrasil, accounts have survived o f Germanic Tribes honouring sacred trees within their societies. Examples include Thor’s Oak, Sacred Groves, the Sacred tree at Uppsala, and the wooden Irminsul pillar.

Roots of Yggdrasil by Fabian Jimenez

Trees are essential to our well-being in so many different ways from the physical to the spiritual and if we value the quality of our life on The Earth, we would do well to protect and cherish them.


Blessed Be The Tree ~


The Juggler’s Song

The Juggler’s Song;
Gather round friends and I’ll weave your Soul a Song
A luminous journey that wont last very long
Its a difficult game , you might forget your name,
I’ll juggle with delight, let the mysteries explain….

The physical physical ball is shining blue and mostly green
Wrapped in Awareness, Brighter than a Dream
I call it Earth, the Ark of Home and of the Heart
The magic of the growing things, reborn and growing start.

At First were added Stars and Eyes, the Gift of Dancing Light
A body with no name, rolling in primordial night,
By charm and incantation, teaching tongues that never fain
Learning lightness of the Air, whispered silence of refrain.

Understanding is the Second, as it flairs bright red in you,
Reconciling Strangeness, unravels all you ever said and do.
I call forth Fire and Truth Transcending Tempest Torn,
A gift for All who wonder, now your smiling not forlorn.

At First was added motion, to no thing a stagnant plight,
I’ll pretend to be a Human, Skydancer of the Light.
By the eye that never fails but falling rises through the sky,
Calling with a voice of gladness now I offer to those who fly…

The Third is blessed with Insight, a ball imbued in only blue,
riding tides of the emotion, dizzy deepness within you.
I call it Water, and watch in laughter as it flows,
You cannot grasp it tho you try, yet follow where it goes….

At First we spoke of Three, the magic power contained in thee
Clothed in Substance, Space and Matter and No Matter -Infinity
By following the Spheres along open paths Pertuity
Aright Ethereal Ethers and Ancient powers cross thresholds Three

The last little ball, look through mind’s I to see,
Attired like a Dragon, in All you shall Ever Be.
I call it Air, by which enchantment I set your spirit free,
The secret of this song, Eternities Harmony.

c. Celestial Elf 2012

Poem inspired by The Incredible String Band ‘Juggler’s Song’.

Symbolism of The Juggler;

The Greek words for Juggler also referred to Wonder Workers, Wizards and Conjurers, and were allied to ‘Magos’ which referred to the Magicians who came from India and China. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, from the time of Roger Bacon (13th century) to the semi-legendary Doctor Johannes Faustus (1480-1540), the Conjurer was a figure of fear and ridicule, respect and suspicion, suspected of tampering with forbidden powers. The Conjurer-Juggler became the Sorcerer who invokes and controls Elemental powers. (Journal of Popular Culture)

The Ancient Mystics believed that truth was less likely to be obscured if it was passed on in the form of symbols. Therefore the 78 cards in Tarot decks contain many symbols and characters. The 22 Trump cards are meant to depict the stages of evolution, the four suits; Discs, Wands, Cups and Swords – depict the relative aspects of consciousness.
The Juggler was most commonly referred to in Tarot as ‘Le Batleur‘ the bearer of the Wand (energy sent forth). In later versions of the first known deck, the Visconte Sforza deck, Le Batleur became known as the Magician or Juggler. Some associate him with Hermes Trismegistus, a combination of Hermes and of Thoth, a god of the moon, knowledge, and writing. In this aspect The Magician guides The Fool through the first step out of the cave of ignorance into the light of consciousness (Juggler’s World) .The Magical Juggler here invokes the forces of nature outside of time and so reveals the spiritual infinity within all things.

The Four Signs; Earth Water Fire Air –

Druids state that all life is made of the four Elements of Earth, Fire, Water and Air, without which life could not exist. The Four Elements deeply influence our personalities and lives at a physical as well as metaphysical level. They are made up of Etheric substances having certain qualities, natures, and purposes that are unique to their particular element and are also considered to be living entities (sometimes resembling humans) inhabiting a world of their own.
Known to many cultures, particularly the Greeks and Romans from whom we get our names for them. In Greek ‘Gnoma’ (Gnomes) meant knowledge or the knowing ones, ‘Silphe’ (sylph) was a butterfly or being with gauzy wings. The ‘Salambe’ (Salamander) is like a Dragon. (Magical Elements)
These four Elements correspond to the Four Directions of our physical world, the Four Quarters of the Universe, the Four Winds, and the Four quarters of a magical Circle. Earth and Water are considered female energies; Fire and Air are male.

The Earth as a feminine and fertile ball of life, embodies the Circle of the Year. All aspects of life take place within and upon the Earth: birth, life, death, change and rebirth. In Tarot readings, the Earth is related to the suit of Disks, Coins or Pentacles. Its color is clear dark green.
The Element of Earth rules the Northern quarter of the Circle and oversees the Brownies, Dwarves, Dryads, Gnomes and Hamadryads.

Fire is a purifying, masculine energy which both creates and destroys, bringing about new life or destroying the old and as such is a perfect metaphor for Understanding. Tan or Teine in the old Celtic language, was considered the most sacred Element because it is the closest to pure energy. In Tarot, Fire is connected to the Wand suit. For color correspondences, use red and orange.
The Element of Fire governs the Southern quarter of the Circle and oversees Salamanders, Drakes and Dragons.

Water is a powerful feminine energy connected with the Goddess and used for healing, cleansing, and purification. Water is also associated with the powers of Emotion and of the Unconscious mind. In Tarot Water is represented by the Chalice, Cup, Bowl, and Cauldron cards. Its color is pure blue.
The Element of Water governs the Western quarter of the Circle and oversees Nymphs, Undines, Mer-people, and the Spirits of Springs, Lakes and Rivers.

Air is always free, yet links everything to everything else. Associated with words and language, Air Element represents the Mind and is here a metaphor for knowledge. In Tarot, Air is expressed by The Swords. Its color is pure yellow.
The Element of Air governs the Eastern quarter of the Circle and oversees the Elves or Sylphs, Nature Spirits and Fairies.

Creating a Magical Pentacle, there is a fifth Element, The Element of Spirit (‘Nyu’ to the Druids), which dominates the center of the Circle, balancing all the other Elements.

On the Unusual Order of The Jugglers Elements;
The order used in this song and film is derived from the Phoenician roots of the Scandinavian Runic symbols, which indicate first, the leaving of linear time, and second the merging or entering of the metaphysical realm. I have used this order to signal the songs intention. (The Meaning of Myth)

Of The Powers of Three;
The Triad a defining characteristic of Celtic religion and mythology, is a symbol of Universal significance – it is found throughout history and all over the world and can be interpreted in many different senses: Spirit/Mind/Body in a Circle of synthesis; Past/Present/Future enclosed in the ring of Eternity; Art/Science/Religion bound in a Circle of culture.

From the Druid or Celtic Shamanistic viewpoint the number three represents the different views one might develop following an initiation ceremony. Celtic Shamans believed that they could see the present, past and future – their vision of the world was complete and trustworthy. The Shaman often saw himself as a man standing in three different worlds at the same time. In this way, his judgments, decisions and advice were imbued with greater insight and awareness.

Bright Blessings ~

Blood and Mistletoe :

Very enjoyable scholarly assessment of the historical perspectives on and contingent development of more modern Druids.
Hutton portrays the origins and alternating fortunes of the Druid, how they have been reimagined, reinterpreted, and reinvented to portray them as patriots, scientists, philosophers and priests, or alternately as corrupt, bloodthirsty and ignorant, fomenters of rebellion, or forefathers of Christian Religion and along the way how they have become either by example or exclusion, guardians of tradition.
Such an extensive work merits a repeated reading, here is a brief review of the many areas that he explores.

These figures dressed in cucullus found on a shrine on Hadrians wall.
The Druids may have worn similar attire

Setting out with an exposition of the ancient literary references such as that of Pliny, Julius Caesar and etc which cast doubt over the Druid’s roles and presented the conquering forces of Rome as that of civilizing a savage and cruel religion, Hutton thoughtfully presents a fascinating and objective assessment of their actual value as historical documents and reveals the many influencing factors at play in them…


Following a period of little interest, the historical threads pick up in the late medieval period, as Hutton explores how subsequent notions of Druids were formed and employed in the service of national prestige and also the reverse engineering of their alleged role in supporting Christianities apparently literal historical accuracy and ensuing spiritual eminence.

At the end of the 15thc the new Humanist movement in scholarship with its aims to recover and build upon the knowledge of the classical ancient world, gave rise to a concurrent celebration of the indigenous peoples as honorable ancestors with a culture of some merit and in this context increasingly presented the Druids as the nearest thing that Europe had had to scientists and philosophers.

Despite the lack of evidence, the German Humanist Conrad Celtes claimed that the Druids had fled there across the Rhine to escape the Romans and hide in German forests, which along with the fact that the Rhineland had been part of the Roman province of Gaul, established their reclamation as of a shared Gallic ancestry.
Basing their accounts on Caesar’s comments of the Druids as meeting at Carnute where the Druids of Gaul had met each year, Symphorien Champier seems to have made the case for the druids as French noble ancestors, and in 1585 the French author Taillepied was the first author in any language to devote a book to them.
In this new favorable view, which deftly set aside Caesar’s comments about sacrifice as an unimportant fringe activity, the popularity of Druids rose to the extent that by the early 16thC the Druid and Christian cult had been united with claims of the cathedral of Dreux being founded by them following a prediction they had made over a coming saviour and by 1552 Rabelais could refer to them as ‘familiar beloved figures’.

They also appeared in a book published in Paris 1526 ‘Scotorum Historiae’ about Scotland written by the Scottish Hector Boece who nationalistically claimed the Druids main meeting place as the Isle of Man and thus shifted their central locus From Germany and France to Scotland.
Whilst the Scots were taking advantage of this new pro-Druid perspective, the Irish already had Druids built into their national literature via Irish sagas and saints’ lives recorded by Christian monks where Druids are accorded high social status until the coming of Christianity when the role of the Druid in Irish society was rapidly reduced to that of a sorcerer who could be consulted to cast spells or practice healing magic and their standing declined accordingly , and the Welsh who claimed direct descent and therefore unbroken lineage from the ancient Britons themselves.
The English annexed these various views into their own greater history with a view to establishing cultural supremacy of the whole archipelago, with which they could rival the French.

Tudor England however during late 16thC and early 17thC saw, rather than an ongoing rise in the popularity of Druids, a decline based on a number of factors including that the Irish writers presented the Druids as main opponents of their Roman Catholic Saints, the Welsh were co-opting them from the Scottish, and the English at this time did not wish to associate with the Welsh, plus identification of Druids with the poorly regarded Scottish and French may have been a further deterrent in and of itself.

Following this decline of favor, a resurgence of interest was slow but steady and backed with good credentials.
John Aubrey (1626–1697) was an English antiquary, natural philosopher and writer best known as author of the short biographical pieces ‘Brief Lives’. He was also a pioneer archaeologist, who recorded (often for the first time) numerous megalithic and other field monuments in southern England, and is particularly noted as the discoverer of the Avebury henge monument. He presented his findings about Avebury to the Royal Society of London in 1663 (The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge) .
In 1722 Edmund Gibson‘s published his enlarged edition of ‘Britannica’ which established a credible orthodoxy of interpretations of Britain’s megalithic monuments as the holy places of its prehistoric inhabitants.


Then the antiquarian Anglican vicar William Stukeley (1687–1765) who proclaimed himself a ‘Druid’, wrote a number of popular books in which he claimed that prehistoric megaliths like Stonehenge and Avebury were temples built by the Druids.


Stukeley had been inspired by Issac Newtons interest in the cosmological significance of numbers and measurements in ancient Hebrew architecture, particularly the Temple of Solomon which was a subject of wider interest at this time) as representation of the cosmos. Stukeley’s view was that these were all in their turn inspired by ancient Egyptians and early Druids, which furthered the growing impression of Druids as nature priests and worthy ancestors devoted to God.


Promoting the view of a powerful relationship between Christianity and Neoplatonism, Druids at this period were claimed to have been both subscribers to, or creators of Plato‘s philosophy of reincarnation, and the original discoverers of literacy, science and philosophy which they allegedly taught to the Greeks, their religion was thus held to have prefigured that of Christianity and all the alleged Druid symbolism was identified as coded references to the one greater faith that would come.


Soon after the publication and spread of Stukeley’s writings, other people also began to self-describe themselves as ‘Druids’ and form societies: the earliest of these was the Druidic Society, founded on the Welsh island of Anglesey in 1772. Largely revolving around ensuring the continued financial success of business on the island, it attracted many of Anglesey’s wealthy inhabitants and donated much of its proceeds to charity, but was disbanded in 1844.
A similar Welsh group was the Society of the Druids of Cardigan, founded circa 1779, largely by a group of friends who wished to attend ‘literary picnics’ together.

The third British group to call itself Druidic was English rather than Welsh, and was known as the Ancient Order of Druids. Founded in 1781 and influenced by Freemasonry, its origins have remained somewhat unknown, but it subsequently spread in popularity from its base in London across much of Britain and even abroad, with new lodges being founded, all of which were under the control of the central Grand Lodge in London. The Order was not religious in structure, and instead acted as somewhat of a social club, particularly for men with a common interest in music. In 1833 it suffered a schism, as a large number of dissenting lodges, unhappy at the management of the Order, formed their own United Ancient Order of Druids, and both groups would go on to grow in popularity throughout the rest of the century.


The wider British society began to accept the claims for a Druidic role in Biblical times, that they were either noble and inspired forerunners of the Patriarchal fathers of Judaism before Christianity, or alternately that they shared a similar view of Religion and were therefore very ready to embrace ‘the word’ (of Christ) when it arrived in Britain, either way the Druids Prehistoric and specifically Biblical associations seemed assured.
William Stukeley can be seen then as the man who did most to persuade the English that the Druids had been the builders of England’s spectacular prehistoric monuments which inturn secured their role in the British imagination as a whole as wise and worthy ancestors.

We also learn of the remarkable and imaginative Welshman Iolo Morganwg (Edward Williams 1747–1826), an influential Welsh antiquarian, poet, collector, and literary forger who began to perpetuate the claim that he was one of the last initiates of a surviving group of Druids who were descended from those found in the Iron Age, centered around his home county of Glamorgan. He subsequently organized the performing of Neo-Druidic rituals on Primrose Hill with some of his followers, whom he categorized as either Bards or Ovates, with he himself being the only one actually categorized as a Druid. He practiced a form of religion which he believed the ancient Druids had had, which involved the worship of a singular monotheistic deity as well as the acceptance of reincarnation. Widely considered a leading collector and expert on medieval Welsh literature in his day, he asserted that he had found and translated various ancient medieval and ancient welsh bards texts (which have become standards of subsequent neo Druidical tradition) although after his death it was revealed that he had forged a large number of these manuscripts including the Druidical Triads such as
The Three Triumphs of the Bardic order; Learning, Reason & Peace…
The Three Unities Of The Cosmos; God, Truth and Liberty.

He presented Roman Catholicism as the corrupted form of the teachings which had prevailed earlier and so set about a call for revival of the ancient ways by creating the kind of Druid literary evidence which was lacking historically but that he felt should have existed.
Despite the false nature of their origins, his literary contribution has significantly influenced the Welsh Gorsedds , the Gorsedd Beirdd Ynys Prydain itself was founded in 1792 by him along with much of its rituals.


By the 1860’s whilst druids had dominated the perceptions of the ancient Britons, portrayed varyingly as savages or heroes, they had become central to Britain’s story of its own prehistory.
Yet, although previously exemplified among the Pre-Raephelites and Romantic Poets, the artistic movement now began its Gothic phase and this prioritized the dark gloomy aspects of nature and existential despair over the earlier romantic immanence and delight of nature and in the Druids.
Further in this downplaying development was the arising of a more critical scholarship in part following on such luminaries as Charles Darwin whose Origin Of The Species decisively removed the stamp of literal authenticity from the Bible as a historical record of early times and in so doing also removed the need for people to identify their Druidical ancestors as related to that story.
Archaeological and Geological Science now replaced theological perspectives and in this light the origins of the many megalithic structures came under a sustained barrage of academia, which found little or no direct evidence for the Druids at these sites.

The rise of late Georgian and early Victorian Britain as a technological and industrial force displaced quaint ruritanian ideologies further, as the culture realigned itself with the earlier Empirical Roman culture, justifying their world wide land and resources grab and subjugation of wider world peoples as a spiritual mission to Civilize and Christianize them for their own good.
In this context the nature Druids were portrayed once again as forlorn savages easily identified with some of the tribes people now discovered around the world and whilst the latter were held to be less evolved morally or culturally, so these sweeping and disparaging generalizations were applied retrospectively to the formerly applauded Druids.
With a view to why the contemporary writers of note had not taken up the Druid cause, Hutton explains how they had apparently become such a standard trope that they did not hold any novel appeal, although less erudite literature salaciously celebrated this fall from grace with imaginative and avid accounts of the atrocities that it was suspected the Druids had carried out, both satisfying the repressions of the age and reinforcing their view of themselves and their culture as superior.

Yet at the end of this period the rise of clubs and societies which also include freemasonry as well as social clubs, brought about an increasing number of new, Druid fraternities, which at start seemed more to be about song and community, but as time wore on and they grew in membership, stature and influence, becoming increasingly akin to benevolent societies, designed to provide assistance to their membership in times of need.


We are then introduced to George Watson MacGregor Reid (1862?-1946), another remarkable and colorful character, this time Scottish, who held a philosophy based on his view of a Universal Bond and who led ‘The Druid Order‘. The Church of the Universal Bond was a religious group founded in Britain in the early twentieth century by MacGregor Reid, promoting socialist revolution, anti-imperialism and sun worship.
Initially aligned with Zoroastrianism, by 1912, MacGregor Reid was becoming more attracted to Druidry, especially as Stonehenge was at the time being seen as a solar temple.


His church began holding rituals there and their worship was permitted to continue when the site was given to the state in 1918. He and his group are first recorded there in June 1912. During the succeeding two summers they clashed with the owner and the police, because of their wish to hold rites in the circle and their disinclination to pay the recently imposed admission fee.

Although only commanding around 50 adherents in its early days, the church was instrumental in forming the link in the popular imagination between Stonehenge and Druids despite the efforts of archaeologists to discourage it. In 1924, the Office of Works permitted the church to scatter the ashes of cremated former members at Stonehenge, which drew significant protests from the Society of Antiquaries, the Wiltshire Archaeological Society, the Royal Archaeological Institute and famous archaeologists such as O. G. S. Crawford. The outcry persuaded the government to withdraw permission and in 1932 the Church officially moved its rites from the monument to Normanton Gorse nearby.
MacGregor Reid thereby made the name of Druid into both a vehicle and metaphor for English Cultural radicalism, and founded the enduring tradition which through succession continues unbroken to this day
(perhaps with the current day protests over access and admissions fees to Stonehenge of King Arthur Pendragon).


After the Second World War, MacGregor Reid’s son Robert took over leadership of the church and it was able to regain midsummer access to Stonehenge throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, to the dismay of many leading archaeologists.
When Thomas Maughan was elected chief in 1964, some senior members and the Order’s Maenarch left to form the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.


The growing Stonehenge free festival caused the monument to be closed at midsummer in 1985 and the Church faded into obscurity but has maintained a presence at the re-opened solstice festivities since 2000.

Despite the kind of mysterious and magickal account which one might have hoped for in such a book as this, perhaps a ‘history’ written by Iolo Morganwg would have served such a purpose better, this study provides the most objective and thorough account yet written of the little we know about the ancient Druids and their subsequent reinvention and revival to this day. Throughout the book Hutton’s prose is informed by many personal and some humorous details which furnish a much more engaging presentation than either a work of speculative conjecture or one of chronological charting might have done.
Suggesting then that the Druids displacement from the national imagination has occurred because of the earlier success integrating them into established structures of thought against which later artistic, religious and scientific developments defined themselves by contrasting orientation, ethics and methodologies, this book also portrays the far reaching influence of three very imaginative men, William Stukeley, Iolo Morganwg and George Watson MacGregor, ranging from classic English eccentrics to reactionary rogues who between them have created and characterized the nature of a Druid as we think of them today.

(Green Man by Miranda Mott)

~ Highly Recommended ~
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