They’re Taking the Druids to Hobbiton!

Or, more simply… When the Grove visited my floating hobbit Hole…

The evenings are drawing in now, so within gloom broken only by the twinkling of fairy lights we gathered last Tuesday evening. With just enough seats for all and a kitty for company. A generous feast to share and the perfect amount of tea bags. Which made up for my dreadful baking attempt. Hand made goodies, still warm, were a welcome treat along side the noble custard cream and after a well needed catch up with lazy gossip, we finally embraced the theme of the evening.

Inspired by my adventures to various exhibitions to The National Gallery, Portrait Gallery, Tate Liverpool and even Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. I was curious about the vast collections of Great Masters which adorned the walls… Religion was a heavy theme among the paintings, giant somber images, dark and gloomy, depicting scenes from the Bible with incredible inaccurate representations of Christ, The Holy Virgin and his followers… Yet this has nothing to do with Druids does it?

Yet it got me thinking about art and how art can be used as a spiritual medium, as the afore mentioned  masterpieces were created to inspire, install fear and awe. Indeed they still draw many crowds today! How can art be embraced to enhance our spiritual nature? Are there references to art in the Gwyers? How the images upon a Tarot Card create a universal meaning? False representations of Druids in Roman artwork with the infamous white long beard image with flowing robes and golden sickle. (Move the sickle to the crown of the head and the image of a Christian Saint is pretty darn similar)…

Having received a good long list of research materiel I hastened to the Google overlord to carelessly print off a collection of thumbnail images for discussion.  Including: Will Worthington, Osman Spare, Crowley, Blake, Robert Buratti, Christ, Druids and Tarot Cards. The images were shared out among us and provided a very rich debate about Occult images, the misrepresentation of Druids, Tarot Cards and Divination and even Tattoos with esoteric symbolism.

Openly sharing our personal views, what we love about art, even what made us feel uncomfortable, even the amusing little Druid who had an uncanny similarity to Santa! I would like to think that everyone had a most relaxed and happy evening, content with a lovely debate, humor and a few personal stories to exchange.

It was an honor to have you visit and hopefully the evening inspired some love towards art, in its many beautiful forms…

 

Love, Anne x

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July Meeting 2017- Drumming Meditation

Meeting took place on Tuesday 18th July at the Hearth Grove. 

Attendees:  Briseilid, Danceswithweasels, Greenfingers, Locksley, Strider and Vyvyan. 
We have always looked forward to a guided drumming meditation, Luch Dorca began doing them with the Grove some years back, Briseilid has done them since. 

Each of them has a different effect for all of us, I found last year’s quite healing, for example.  

We all took places in a circle, it didn’t have to be a circle, Briseilid just needed enough room to walk around all of us and we most probably ended up in one because at the Grove, we usually are in that formation.  

Telling us to close our eyes and taking three deep breaths, Briseilid took us on a journey, her drum beating all the way through……. 

It began with using one of the Grove’s trees to sink deep into the earth, through a gateway that led into a safe place.  A guide was waiting for us to take us where we needed to go, so we followed them to a junction of many paths.  One of these led to our future, but only we could choose.  The guide may have joined us or could go no further, either way the path was chosen and we proceeded to a gate.  Before the gate was an altar with tokens upon it.  We chose one, which would help us reach our future, but we had to replace this with an item in return.  We were invited to drink from a goblet and eat what was on offer, for this was nourishment for the soul.  When ready, we walked through the gate and found ourselves in the Hearth Grove once more, taking time to feel the energy of the place and each other. 

What we saw, who and what we encountered, whichever path we took, what tokens we had taken and given were all individually experienced, although at least three of us had encountered a deer type creature, without there being a prompt or description for there being one.  Although, working with Briseilid, this should have come as no surprise!  I am thankful to everyone who shared their experiences. 

After, we had a picnic in the Grove itself, this turned into a sort of Eisteddfod as Briseild sang an English translation of a song called ‘Salt’ by Faroese singer, Eivør.  When I closed my eyes, I could see the sea and foamy waves on a sandy shore.

I sang a couple of tunes from a musical I performed last month and Vyvyan, wonderful singer! gave us a rendition of Beauty Way by Eliza Gilkyson, I’ve never heard it before, but you can listen to both songs with the links at the bottom of this post. 

To distract Briselid, I sang ‘The Rains of Castamere’ (although, I totally forgot the last verse!) so she couldn’t see there was a card we were all signing to give to her.  But why a card? Because dear Briseilid and her other half are moving to the North of England to be by the sea!  I remember Briseilid being the shy and quiet newcomer to the Grove and am so proud of her progress to being one of the deepest, sincere and wisest of our Ovates.  I’m sure I speak for my fellow Grovemates in saying Briseilid will indeed be missed, but she will always be welcome to return whenever she can. 

For those who are curious, here’s the links to the musicians who inspired Briseilid and Vyvyan: 

Eivør- ‘Salt

Eliza Gilkyson- ‘Beauty Way

Hearth Grove sunset!

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Double Header: Livery Visit and Alban Hefin

horses

Taleteller reporting.

As many of you will have gathered from the pictures shared among the group, the night at the livery was a grand success. Briseilid, Strider, Vyvyan, Danceswithweasels, Taleteller, and Greenfingers arrived, just as it was getting cool enough for the horses to get out of their fencing gear. Cthulhudrid showed us around, told us the history of the place, introduced us to some equine nobility (writer’s note – is it still “equine” if it’s a pony?), and then we picnicked under a young oak while the cat watched us with suspicion. Conversation moved through talk of mentoring and the role of that relationship through the grades, to discussion of the intricate labyrinth that is the Ovate grade, with many stories of the local military training school and the wacky hi-jinks that Cthulhudruid has had to put a stop to. I particularly like the image of him storming the base in order to report the disgraceful behaviour of a couple of the lads. Bet they learned their lesson!

altar pic

And then, on the night of the solstice itself, a small group gathered at the Grove for Alban Heruin. In attendance were Vyvyan, Greenfingers, Strider and myself. Vyvyan led the ceremony, and though it was a very intimate gathering it felt like the energies of the season were really present. We chanted, we called forth the powers of fire in association with each element, we witnessed the strength, courage and hope in one another, made offerings of fire and drank water blessed with the power of Midsummer.

Then back to the car for a feast and a good natter.

Afterwards I slept better than I have done in weeks – it felt like something had broken.

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May Meeting 2017: Eastern Meditation

Meeting held on Tuesday 9th May.

Attendees: Teller, Vyvyan, Briseilid, Cyberdragon, Velvet, Locksley.

Special guest writer is also the same man who led the meeting, Teller! 

Teller talked about how all mystical traditions seem to have a meditative component, so the history is a bit hard to unravel – but there’s a powerful imagined history that says that in old Aryan/Vedic/proto-Hindu rites, there used to be a practitioner whose only job was to hold a perfect version of the ritual in their mind. There’s also the gayatri mantra (which crops up at the start of BattleStar Galactica) which can be translated as asking for a blessing on meditation. He talked about the jump from Hinduism to Buddhism, the spread of Buddhism into Tibet and further East, culminating in the austere practices of Zen.

We discussed the benefits of these styles of meditation – of being more in the moment, more present, more focussed, but also of the idea that one could realise the ultimate one-ness of Brahman (God) and Atman (Soul) by really intense meditation.

We also discussed middle-eastern mysticism. Teller said some stuff about The Zohar (a body of Jewish mysticism) which now he’s looked at his notes may not be entirely accurate. Ooops. And the origins of Sufism as first a philosophical and then a mystical practice. This fed into Judaism and Christianity, and Vyvyan will pick up here next time.

We did some Metta Bhavana – a Tibetan meditation of compassion, and talked about what that like. (Self, teacher, loved one, stranger, challenger, self, all sentient beings.)

A Metta Prayer –

may I be free from suffering

may I know my wholeness

may I dwell in the heart.

We had a lot of crisps, and talked a fair amount about Druid ritual. There was some talk about how we might get more intense experiences of the sacred or liminal in our ritual – most of those present expressed a desire to practice or develop our rituals further. 

Pic from Pintrest.

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Bealtaine 2017

Ceremony performed on Sunday 30th April.

Attendees: Briseilid, Cyberdragon, Danceswithweasels, Greenfingers, Leaf, Locksley, Strider, Teller, Vyvyan.  We hadn’t seen Leaf or Briseilid in ages!  Both were welcome indeed! 

It was a beautiful day to welcome the beginning of Summer, even the grey cloud with the feel of rain upon the wind didn’t take away the feel of the season.  The calls of birdlife in the background varied from goose to woodpecker!  I recall an old Yorkshire tradition that stated wood-cutters didn’t start their chopping until the summer had started….. Heralded by the first woodpecker heard! 

For this particular ceremony, Greenfingers (as MC) wanted us to have two fires, which was a welcome thing indeed: the smoke drove the swarm of midges away.  At its very beginning, a blessing in the form of rain drops came down for a very brief smattering. 

Keeping in theme with the season, Greenfingers asked for volunteers for the Green Oak King and May Queen.  Being the theatrical types, Me and Strider were presented a short script each.  The May Queen was represented by a wreath of Mayflower and the Green Oak King with a bouquet of Holly, Oak and Ivy.

Both agricultural fertility figures declared their love and were carried by both Ovates as they danced in circles and figure-of-eights around the fire, a drumming provided the beat.  A train of dancing druids behind them as they made up the course. 

Once everyone was back in place, we were invited to share stories or poems.  Some were from years ago, some were well known, one was actually the chorus to a song written by Cyberdragon.  And even those who did not have anything to share were still welcome to take in the energies and celebrations of Bealtaine. 

We shared honey, oatcakes and mead and we scattered the seeds given by the May Queen all around.

Our picnic at the top saw us around the fire sharing thoughts, puns (oh, they hurt!) and plenty of food and drink so that everyone had their fill….. because the midges certainly did. 

Bouquet and Wreath upon the altar. Oh look! There’s Cyberdragon’s home-made mead!

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Druidry talk: Connla’s Well

This month, we gathered at Dumbledore’s home to discuss Druidry! Greenfingers, Cyberdragon, Velvet, and I turned up, with Locksley joining us late.

Dumbledore had been doing some digging into the story of Connla’s well, and walked us through his research. There’s a variety of versions of related myths, Corylus_avellana_lindman_3where hazel trees grow about the well and drop their hazelnuts into the water, which feed the salmon who dwell within. Nuts, salmon, and water from the well grant wisdom and poetry. However, there also seem to be taboos about how it can be accessed, and in some cases people have been turned into rivers!

We started off discussing different ways to make sense of the myth. What is it saying about how wisdom and poetic inspiration can be attained? What are the many ways that we can read it? There was some discussion of the myth of Taliesin in this context… unsurprisingly!

From here, we broadened into a wider discussion of Druidry. Dumbledore floated the question, how much do we as a group care that Druidry was, in his terms, made up by a bunch of hippies in the 1960s? Apart from my objection that large parts of Druidry were made up by a bunch of hippies much earlier than the 1960s, it didn’t seem to bother many people that much of Druidry is quite “new”. We had a discussion around belief versus actions — as an OBOD grove, our members believe a wide variety of different things. However, we do have a shared body of practice that we can call on, in the study of the Bardic Grade, and the seasonal celebrations. We are a community of practitioners, not dogmatists, and we can evaluate the effects of that practice on our members to see if what we’re doing is having a positive effect.

This led into a discussion of how studying Druidry has affected our own lives. There was a lot of talk about the study of the Bardic grade, and what it had meant to us, including the changes that we had gone through over the course of our study. Some of these changes were subltle; others were much less so! These included rekindling creative pursuits, and realising parts of our lives that weren’t working for us. Dumbledore shared that he had found himself driven to plant tomatoes!

It was a really pleasant evening, and lovely to hear the members of the Grove talking so clearly about what Druidry had meant to us, in our own lives. It was clear that studying the Bardic Grade had been a meaningful experience for all of us.

(Image Carl Axel Magnus Lindman, Corylus avellana, Hassel [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
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Double Whammy:Thing! March Meeting and Alban Eilir 2017

Meeting took place on Tuesday 14th March 2017

It’s been a while since we saw Thorsson (aka D2) and we also had a large attendance with: 

Danceswithweasels, Teller and Vyvyan, Cyberdragon and Velvet, Greenfingers, Strider, Dumbledore (welcome back!), Briseilid (also welcome back!) and myself.

Thorsson did tell us that his plans to construct a talk about all things Viking and Saxon had actually gone under, but instead we settled into an Q&A session instead, with Teller leading the questions (this came about naturally, might I add). 

Thorsson began by explaining a ‘thing’ was an old term for a community meeting, especially one where people could discuss matters to be presented or even solved.  Laws could be made at these also.  An ‘Althing’ was a similar meeting on a larger scale, as attendance from all surrounding areas and neighbouring counties would be present.   He then touched upon how Iceland was the last Scandinavian island to become Christian, not because of submitting before the Christian God, but because all neighbouring folk were now Christian and they would not trade with Pagans.  Makes you wonder how many other people took on the newer religion because of trade….. 

More importantly, Thorsson, told us the tale of how he started doing a course on Druidry and asked how he would know who his god is.  After numerous pieces of advice, it wasn’t until Thorsson was one day driving his car when there was a storm raging outside, with the clouds thick and black and lightning flashing that he thought ‘Thor’.  He bought a hammer pendant (Mjolnir) to wear and it has felt right to do so ever since. 

Thorsson also explained that he doesn’t see Thor like the superhero in the movies, he sees him as a god of the community.  And seeming that Thorsson does a lot of work in Nottingham’s Pagan community, this is rather apt indeed. 

Other discussions (as inevitably happens when the GOC get together- Thank you Teller for keeping us on topic!) included: 

How would our Germanic ancestors dealt with anger in a situation of being wronged?  

Do Pagans need a path to follow? 

Is the reason that certain stories from a people (Norse, Irish, Native American, For example) which don’t make sense is because when written down, we have lost or don’t have the cultural meaning as a modern audience? 

Aren’t cathedrals brilliant?  Especially the engineering thought that goes into building them! 

Alban Eilir

Ceremony originally took place on Sunday 19th March 2017

Ever had that feeling of time running out when you thought you had plenty? Yeah, that’s how I felt when, at the above meeting, I was reminded about the ceremony….. I was convinced there was another week!  So, in answer to Strider’s question of “Whose run is it?” I consulted the Oracle (my smartphone with the appropriate diary entries entered) and patted his shoulder as I said “My friend, it’s you.” 

The marking of the Equinox (speaking of smartphones- I’ve just had to program in the word ‘Equinox’ despite it recognising “equinoxes” and “equinocti”.  Anyhoo….) Was indeed led by Strider, whom had split the ceremony into three parts: me to lead the opening, him to do the middle and Vyvyan to lead the closing bit.  I felt that worked very well.  Especially as, besides us three, there was only Cyberdragon and Greenfingers and they each took on a quarter.  Something for everyone! 

As we stood around the fire, we could see how far it’s light stretched.  And in the distance to the East was the pink glowing horizon of civilisation.  Compared to the palpable darkness of Imbolc, we actually could feel the shifting of the year and the heralding of the lighter nights to come. 

Strider spoke of the awakening of Spring and how our ancestors must have looked forward to its return.  With food stocks beginning to dwindle and the buds beginning to sprout, now was the time for planting and sowing for the harvest to come.  The return of the birds, and the population boom of the hares at this time of year also.  Strider spoke of the country ways when his father would take some moorhen eggs to eat, but would always leave some behind for the population to remain.  I couldn’t help but wonder if a city-dweller (of which I am one) would have had the same consideration.

He also gave the West Country story of the Goddess who came to visit animal kind and was so taken by the gift of a hare’s decorated egg (it was the only possession it had, y’see?) That she took on the hare’s form to be her sacred animal guise. 

Even the light rain around us felt more like a blessing, for without the rain can no growing thing be.  

We discussed many things about what Spring meant for us; what struck me was how energised we all were by it. Exciting and rejuvenating times indeed, especially after the long and dark winter we have just had. 

On the subject of giving offerings: 

Me: I give tobacco, or milk and honey if I can. 

Greenfingers: I use birdseed. 

Cyberdragon: I give alcohol.

Greenfingers: Well, birdseed isn’t cheap!

Mead made, supplied and printed by Cyberdragon!

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