Double Whammy- Alban Heruin 2015 and June Meeting


Can you see the Awen in the sky?

It’s been a month of rescheduling, but we’re a tenacious bunch and we did our Solstice Ceremony on Tuesday the 23rd of June instead of the 21st.

And the weather that eveing was gorgeous! We could even see the setting sun through the trees just as the ceremony was coming to its close.

Strider was our MC for the evening and had even set the fire bowl so we could honour the sun with a fire.   As he was reading out the beautiful words about the height of Summer, the light and dark nights; and of Pan. I sought to revive the fire that had begun to dwindle.  And revive it I did… Although I had set fire to a lock of my own hair in the process! No injuries sustained, I promised myself that next time, I’ll tie it back.

It was the first ceremony to incorporate a CD player, as Strider played us ‘Sunset Hypnos’ by Leafblade to help us contemplate the Solstice.

After that, we were invited to approach the fire and share something, if anything, that inspired us to speak.  Dumbledore came forward and spoke of how we as a Grove are playful and joyous in what we do, ‘mystic fools’ as the Sufi would say.  Although his version was much more eloquent.  We then sauntered back to the car park where we shared food and conversation about The Illuminati and Freemasonry… And how modern depictions of film and internet are completely wrong.


The good Narrow Boat 'Ragamuffin'

June Meeting (took place on Tuesday 16th 2015)

It was a pleasure to see our Tatty Ayn once again! She reflected the marina around her in being calm and serene.  It was really good to sit outside and be surrounded by such a peaceful spot.  There was even a lovely sunset, too!

It was Vyvyan’s first time there and her first encounter with the Question Cards…. All three of which related to Druidry.

Q1: Is Druidry: a journey; a way station; a destination? -Dumbledore.
A: The answers laid more towards a journey.  Druidry isn’t something that you aim to master, it’s something you seek to understand.  And in this interpretation, the journey and learning never really ends.  I can see how someone would see it as a destination of sorts “I want to be a Druid, so I shall complete all three grades until I am there…” But that’s not the point.  For only one of us would I even say it’s a possible way station, but even then I’m using the term ‘Way Station’ very loosely.

Q2: Druidry- is it for life or just ceremonies and camps?
Is Druidry what you do or what you are? Where does the line blur?- Luch Dorcha and Cthulhudruid.

A: There are those who, undeniably, for them do see Druidry as something for camps and ceremonies.  The performance aspect of the ceremonies and the social networking of the camps is where their Druidry is.  For some, it’s when the Gwers is opened, for others it is merely a name given to something done and is a part of life anyway.  Can I honestly say, hand on heart I’m a Druid every day? Maybe not, but I can say I am a Bard most days.
Ideally, Druidry should be part of who we are, but lives are complicated things and sometimes it’s what we do.  The answers here depend on how we lead our lives.

Q3- Does a Pagan/Druid community exist?
How do we as Druids fit into the Pagan community?- Luch Dorcha and Cthulhudruid.

A: There are indeed Pagan and Druid communities that exist.  Depending on the Pagan and Druid, it is how much they put into it that results are seen or not.  An active Pagan or Druid community will become noticed by the public, the GOC for example, has been asked to speak at a conference and been approached by people who are wanting to know what Druidry is from the website and blog page alone!
In an area with no visible Pagan community? Look around! Go on the internet and search for local based groups or national sites (like OBOD or the Pagan Federation).  Or go into your local Crystal shop, they usually have posters or contacts for local Pagan groups.  Or even better, start your own! The last does come with its own problems however, basically, don’t make yourself a target to be laughed at or stalked (no, I’m not joking).  Depending on the Druidry group in the area, you might be welcome as an outsider, or you might be turned away because you are not a member of the Order.  What you have to remember is that Druidry is a Mystery Tradition as well as an Earth-based philosophy and spirituality.  Some Craft based Pagans are like this as well.  It’s nothing to feel disheartened about, there are somethings that shouldn’t be revealed to someone who came to their first meeting only to discover that the secret of magic isn’t what they thought.  How do Druids fit into the Pagan community? It depends on the area, the location and who is involved with what.  At present in the East Midlands, I’d say Druids are growing in the Pagan communities, some help organise festivals, some go into Outreach programs for prisoners, others protest against Fracking.  I’d even go so far to say that Druids in the East Midlands (not just counting the GOC) keep themselves busy with outreach and environmental issues whilst Pagans celebrate who they are, make themselves visible for people to come to moots and get involved.  Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but what would happen if they actively joined forces?


Sunset at Leicester Marina

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Beltane 2015


Our Beltane Altar... How the mead did flow...

At last! Beltane!

Another wet one this year, but that’s ok.  How can we enjoy the green of Spring and Summer if the plant realm isn’t watered?  We were blessed with rain and brief clear skies, we even saw the peachy, copper of the setting sun.

There were only a few of us last night as we had chosen to reschedule due to the Grove’s availability, but we carried on and our fellow Grove-mates were in our thoughts.

After a chat about WW2 and the SS uniforms being designed by Hugo Boss (it was news to me and Cymro, at least!) We decided to get cracking on.  Especially as the rain appeared…

Cymro was the host and had even written a script (something we rarely do) so I was very surprised he called for us to ‘abandon script’ as it were and just wing it instead.  He seemed to just want to let the ceremony flow naturally instead.

On the car journey there, me and Dumbledore were joking about ritual stereotypes, in this case ‘…Right, who’s going to be the one wanting to be in charge and end up forgetting everything?…‘ Ironically, I fulfilled that role! Not the wanting to be in charge bit, but fluffing up the order of peace and then totally mixing up when to bless the circle with fire.  And I had to dash and bring my bag carrying the incense before the circle was cast! Incidentally, I called upon Fox to represent North and chaos ensued… I thanked him for his bare-faced cheek.

Cymro blessed the circle with seeds and flowers, I like it when he does that, it adds a third blessing, I feel.

Cymro led the meat of the ceremony by having us all remain in the tight circle we formed for some ass-kicking Awens.  Going with the flow, he then asked us to share what Beltane meant to us.  For him, it was the renewal of life and the sunlight.  For him this was truly the New Year as things awaken and grow, the celebration of the turning of Arianrhod’s wheel.  For Dumbledore, it was about the flow, the newness of life and the neccessity of rain.  For me it was union, May has always been a time of romantic pursuit, so I saw fit to share the news that me and River had started our new relationship (see, River, I did it, we’re officially out now!).  For Danceswithweasels, it was less about renewal and more about simply being able to enjoy the light nights again, especially after so much dark.  For Strider, it was the turning of the wheel and recognising the seasons.  He also pointed out that we were not alone… Pan was watching us. 

Because our fire wood had gotten wet, we decided to forgo the Beltane fire and just use our lanterns and candles instead.  Strider offered to lead us in a fire spiral, where we all join hands and make a looping dance around the fire until we drop everybody else off back into their places.

So that was our Beltane, it was a bit damp and we (I) muddled things up but we persisted and had a jolly good time indeed.

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Elen of the Ways – revisited

Back in April 2013, I wrote a Grove blog about Elen of the Ways.

Since then, I’d been asked to speak more about my path working with Elen at our recent April 2015 Grove meeting. My talk expanded on the introduction I gave in my previous blog. Since my 2013 blog, there have been two books published about Elen of The Ways (links in blog comments) for those who may wish to explore Elen’s trackways further.

For me though, Elen is not found in the pages of a book, but is encountered as a Deer sometimes antlered goddess archetype of the land, as guardian of the trackways and dreamways. So illustrated with some items from my Elen altar, to show how I bring my work with Elen in to my spiritual practice, I shared some background about Elen and how I work with her.

DSC00265   DSC08063

Some of my Elen altar items                  Reindeer and red deer drums and malas

My talk led to an interesting debate about how animals who make themselves known to us in childhood may become our later lifelong animal guides and how these may link to respective deities. Although I was speaking specifically about Elen, a female antlered goddess/archetype, I’m drawn to all Deer and work also with Cernunnos and this led to a wider debate on the many links and overlap between antlered and horned deities in general; how deer of either sex may be figuratively depicted with antlers as a clear identifying deer characteristic; through aspects of shamanic shape shifting, to discussing aspects of the Dao. All told a typically wide ranging, esoteric Grove discussion.

Walking my path with Elen

I’ve been aware of a connection to Deer since childhood and more deeply since my teens when I became aware of Hind walking with me. I often sensed a deeper connection with Deer and sometimes a presence with them, a woman of the forest with deep red hair, clothed in leaves and the matter of the forest. Occasionally this lady had antlers sprouting from her head. Her name was never given to me. But then in the early 90s I found a postcard of an antlered goddess in Avebury Henge shop, shown in photo above. The card said her name was ‘Elen’. I also bought a card of a lady with a stag entitled ‘Encounter at Wistman’s Wood’. Both of these images spoke to me of the lady who appeared in my meditations or out on the land with Deer in nature. And now I had a name – Elen. I framed these cards and they’ve been on my wall now for over 20 years, in what is now my ever expanding Elen altar. In those days though, it was very difficult to find out more about Elen, but I knew then that I wasn’t the only one who saw this, sometimes antlered, Lady – guardian of Deer.

Years later via the internet, I found links to articles by Caroline Wise who’d been researching Elen of the Ways for many years and pictures by Chesca Potter who also envisioned Elen as an antlered goddess. Since then there has been a growing interest and connection with Elen of the Ways, with many now finding themselves called by Elen. As I said in my previous blog, my personal feeling is that the resurgence in perception of Elen as a deer/reindeer goddess is probably tapping in to a more ancient memory in the landscape and trackways of Britain that Elen evokes and guards, mirrored by the growing wild Deer population in Britain. I’m very fortunate to have gained some very ‘deer’ (sic) friends following Elen’s trackways with whom I spend time on the land, in meditation and on retreat.

Both Deer and Elen herself have guided me on paths and trackways. In meditations these tracks often appear as silvery threads and I may be led by Elen, my Hind and/or other deer through forests, moorlands, mountains, river valleys and out in to arctic lands where the deer are reindeer. I may be taken up high, as if viewing the earth from the top of a high mountain or even higher, with vistas as far as the horizon, with silvery threads radiating out across the landscape from various points. Following the ancient herd migratory tracks, to the power of the heart-hoof-drum-beat.

I’m drawn by the tracks of deer and reindeer, particularly to the arctic, west of Scotland etc landscapes where the energy of Elen and her herds of deer – reindeer recent and past, still call so strongly. I’ve been blessed to spend some time with the reindeer and Sámi reindeer herders on several visits to Sweden and Finland over the years and feel very lucky to be visiting the Cairngorms and Inchnadamph bone caves soon following the tracks of deer/reindeer past and present with some of our lovely Elen clan.

Elen may appear differently to each of us, but for me she’s strongly associated with liminal times, dreamtime, dusk, dawn. And different aspects of Elen resonate at different times of day and in and between seasons as maiden, mother and crone. I encounter Elen most strongly in the forest, in mountain and moorland landscapes and in her crone aspect in winter ice and snow in the arctic taiga and tundra. I find her particularly amongst the trees, especially oak, birch and pine. Her strongest link is to Deer/Reindeer, but along with some others in the Elen clan, I also find Elen strongly associated with Wolf, the Deer/Reindeer’s ancient predator. This predator-prey relationship is an ancient, primal dynamic and working with these different aspects can be transformational. Certainly walking Elen’s trackways has led me to a more shamanic spiritual practice, working closely with my Deer/reindeer and Wolf guides.

So who is Elen?

This is a summary of what I expanded on in my talk. If you don’t know about Elen, you might want to read my 2013 blog first.

In the Mabinogion in the Tale of Macsen Wledig (Elen of the Hosts (Elen Luyddog) is depicted as a Goddess of Sovereignty and solar deity. She appears to Macsen Wledig as a visionary dream and he follows his dream from Rome to Wales to find and marry her and in so doing marries the land. Elen is said to have inspired the building of the ancient roads and trackways across Britain, Sarn Elen in Wales being one of the most famous reputedly named after her.

“Thereafter Elen thought to make high roads from one stronghold to another across the Island of Britain. And the roads were made. And for that reason they are called the Roads of Elen of the Hosts, because she was sprung from the Island of Britain and the men of the Island of Britain would not have made these great hostings for any save her.”


Then there’s the aspect of Elen mythically associated with deer/reindeer and the archetype of the antlered goddess. Female reindeer (N American caribou) which once also roamed Britain and large parts of continental Europe also bear antlers and keep them for longer during the year than males, to enable them to feed beneath the winter snow and protect their calves. And it’s the migratory paths of the reindeer, leading on eventually to the native red and other deer that provide the link to Elen’s trackways. There’s on-going debate about whether Elen’s link to deer and in particular her depiction as an antlered goddess is an ancient or a relatively modern association. Although there’s no direct evidence of the historic worship of an antlered goddess specifically named Elen, there are many threads which support an ancient female deity linked to rein/deer and more specifically the link of Elen to deer.

My previous blog highlighted the etymological links of various names for Deer/Reindeer with the El prefix from the Gaelic/Celtic, Baltic, Slavic countries. The El prefix is said to derive from two roots: proto indo-European meaning red-brown as in colour of deer and links to names e.g. Elen, Elena, Ilona with an Hungaro-turkic root where El means mother of life, linking to deer as mother of life and often depicted as one of the primary forms of birth-giving goddesses, creatrix of life and protector of reindeer.

I spoke about the traditionally Shamanic/animistic cultures of the indigenous arctic people, who still live and work with reindeer, where there are numerous different traditions revering deities linked with the reindeer herds and links between the souls of reindeer and humans. Such as the Sámi Sun deity Beaivi / Beivve represented as either male or female in different aspects and Sámi tribe traditions. In the aspect as the returning sun maiden, Beaivi is typically depicted with her daughter Beaivi nieida in an enclosure (cart) of reindeer antlers /bones, bringing the sun back across the sky after winter. Beaivi is also credited with the herding and domestication of wild reindeer, with the reindeer said to have been birthed from the sun and gifted to human kind, and in some Sámi tribe legends, the Sámi people themselves are also borne from the sun, sharing the same heritage as the reindeer. The Kola Sámi termed the reindeer goddess – Lady of the reindeer, who was mistress of wild animals, whilst the Evenki tribe called the reindeer goddess Bugady – mother of the universe and the Russian goddess Rozhanitsa – mother goddess of North, was often depicted as a rein/deer.

On the Mongolian steppe and beyond there are numerous Bronze Age ‘reindeer stones’, with link to solar aspects and where the reindeer are depicted sometimes as ‘flying’ or leaping in to the sky, often with the sun – solar disc between their antlers. The mummified bodies of some Pazyryk people were also found tattooed with ‘flying’ reindeer. This imagery of flying reindeer is strong amongst the arctic people and reflects the shamanic practices of ‘spirit flight’ as or with the reindeer.

Through time, as the ice sheets retreated and climate changed, the reindeer retreated north, but some authors and folklorists propose that the memory of these ancient reindeer god/desses may have continued and evolved in to the later Deer goddesses of Europe.

Classically some link Elen to the goddesses Artemis (Greek) and Diana (Roman) who are both also closely associated with deer and are huntress protectors of their respective domains. There are numerous Scottish folklore tales of deer goddesses and/or their deer priestesses, with links to aspects of the Cailleach. The Cailleach Bhéara/Beare (Irish) is thought to have been imported in to Scotland as Cailleach Bheurr, where she is more directly attributed as a Deer goddess. And from Irish mythology, Sadbh enchanted as a white deer, who became the wife of Fionn mac Cumhaill, who protected her within his fort. However, she was tricked out and returned to deer form and forever lost to Fionn, though he later came across his son Oisin (little fawn) in the woods, who had been raised by Sadbh as a hind. Also Flidais of the Tuatha Dé Danann, goddess of animals, woodlands and fertility, was said to ride in a chariot drawn by deer and “as goddess of the domestic herds” had a magical cow of plenty.

For more information about Elen, see the links in the comments box of this blog and my previous Elen blog.

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The horrific countryside 

Dumbledore posted an article by Rob MacFarlane on our Grove Facebook page about the resurgence of the English countryside in eerie and horror fiction and media, with particular reference to a story by M R James. You can read the article Here

The following are some thoughts that the article inspired:

“I guess the theme of the “rural idyll”  was first introduced into the popular consciousness during the aftermath of the industrial revolution (and embellished by romantic movement). 

The ideal of gentle pastoral simplicity and tranquility as seen through the misty eyed, rose tinted, remembrances of those crushed into the overcrowded, industrial, smog filled, urban chaos of the early to mid 1800’s cities has, passed down (somewhat diluted) into the modern urban mindset. The industrial revolution witnessed a massive population shift as people fled (economically forced out of) the rural life to the urban sprawl. And, as happens with most diaspora people, many of them became to regard what they had left behind as a sort of “paradise lost” or timeless Garden of Eden complete with green meadows, babbling brooks, gentle sunsets and simple, yet happy inhabitants. And, to a certain kind of independently wealthy person of the  leisure classes who could engage with rural nature in a very superficial and comfortable way, it probably was. To the actual rural people who worked and relied on the land for their existence, the reality then, as now, is very different. 

One of the comforts of the modern technological and industrial mindset is that we have fooled ourselves into thinking we’ve conquered and tamed nature, or at least we can do so if the motivation is right. Britain is a long conquered land that has been cultivated for thousands of years. Apart from places like the moors, it’s a haven of pastoral beauty. Farms, villages and small market towns litter the agricultural landscape. There are no savage predator beasts that prowl, no real danger of deadly poisonous snakes or spiders, there are no convenient land borders for invaders to swarm across. The climate is temperate and the wildlife timid or semi-domesticated. The land is dependable, the land is safe. 

Except, of course, deep down inside we know that that just isn’t true. 

The feelings of unease that make authors like Machen, Blackwood and James so potent doesn’t derive entirely from the supernatural elements of their fiction. Instead it comes from confronting the protagonist, and therefore the reader, with the realisation that we are not in control, we don’t or can’t fully comprehend our environment. They point out that our belief that we have “tamed” nature is pure hubris. Nature under the surface patina of calm domesticity is still very much wild, unpredictable and dangerous. The true sense of unease is the striping away of our certainty and civilised safety. It’s like the unwelcome reminder that the faithful dog sitting by your hearth is actually a wolf. 

James and Lovecraft, one subtly and one less so, draw upon how insignificant we are to nature, how fleetingly temporary our short lives are on the grand scale of the enduring landscape. Blackwood and Machen, amongst others, remind us that nature follows it own rules, is full of the hidden and unknown. They show us that nature in its pure form is beyond our comprehension and certainly beyond our self imposed comfort zone. 

We seek safety in community and society, our instinct is to band together against the darkness, so what is more disturbing than to become isolated and alone? To be cut off from civilisation? To be thrust into a hostile unknown and uncaring landscape? A landscape we thought we knew? A landscape we thought populated but is in fact emptier of humans inhabitants than we’d believed, a landscape with darkened corners and hidden wild places?

In horror nature at best is indifferent to us, our short lives barely registering across its untold centuries. At worst nature is vengeful and malignant, toying with us and extracting revenge for the damages we have done her or purge the guilt of our rejection of her.

As we realise that the dog in our house is actually a wolf, and that our land of pastoral beauty is really wild and chaotic, perhaps our biggest cause for unease comes from the realisation that our own veneer of rational civilisation is so fleetingly fragile and that just under the surface hides our own uncontrollable wild nature.”


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Double Whammy! March 2015 meeting and Alban Eilir 2015

Eisteddfod 2015 (Took place on Tuesday 10th March):

Following the success of last year’s Eisteddfod, and by popular demand, we held another night of stories, poems, music and puppets.  Even Lady Morgana and D2 were able to come along and enjoy the evening.

Vyvyan and Taleteller were our gracious hosts, allowing us into their lovely home for a night of entertainment.

Once we were settled in and got food we were ready to begin.

And once the puppets came out, the night began with jokes about fisting and ‘spreading the love’.  I would facepalm, but even though I didn’t start it, I did partake of this conversation.

Friends of Dumbledore: Rasputin the Wolf, Draco the Dragon (Small), Smaug the Dragon (Big), Quoth the Raven and Wol the Owl.

Friends of Dumbledore: Rasputin the Wolf, Draco the Dragon (Small), Smaug the Dragon (Big), Quoth the Raven and Wol the Owl.

Vyvyan kicked off proceedings with her acoustic rendition of Steve Goodman’s  ‘City of New Orleans’.  She did it beautifully and apparently has been criticised about her playing… Whoever did that to her deserves to be shot.  In the knee.  I’m not just saying this, she was brilliant!

Dumbledore was next, he brought some manouverable friends with him: Rasputin the Wolf, Quoth the Raven (I got to play with him for a while), Draco the (smaller) Dragon, Smaug the Dragon (greater) and Wol the Owl.
Dumbledore told us the story of ‘The Man Dressed as the Devil’ an amusing tale about a Mummer’s player who everyone believes is the Devil because of his costume.

Danceswithweasels played us a Pink Floyd track, then told us the real-life story of how her family became adopted by Spike, an emaciated Tom who grew to be a huge fluffy boy cat and feline bruiser!

Briseilid shared with us her words on the Northern Lights, or as they were called in this telling: Revontulet or ‘Fox Fires’ in Finnish.  Not quite a poem and not a story.  It was a painting of words speaking of frost and the beautiful, if spectral Aurora Borealis.

I told the story of Yallery Brown, a tale from Lincolnshire telling the dangers of contact with the ‘Fairy Folk’.  I had to get Strider to give some examples of the Lincolnshire dialect… Didn’t understand a word!

Taleteller lives up to his name and gave us the Welsh story of Gwythyr ap Greidawl and Gwyn ap Nudd, both fighting for the hand of the Lady, Creiddylad.  It was the first time I saw him in action and was blown away with how he engaged his audience and took us all into the realms of Arthurian myth.

Strider, last but not least, told us the Irish story of ‘The Soul Cages’ involving the strangest creature with the head of a fish, a humanoid body and wearing a hat as well as smoking a pipe!

It was a really good night and it was a shame I was sooooo tired as I felt I couldn’t take it in properly.  I’m already looking forward to the next one.

Alban Eilir 2015 (Took place on Friday 20th March):

What a day! The Equinox, a solar eclipse AND and super-new moon all on the same date.  I don’t know much about astrology, but from what little I do know, Friday was a whopper!  Apparently when I got to the Grove, Greenfingers told me he had to have a word with a van blocking the gate… the driver and friend were using our entrance as a dogging spot!

It was a cool and crisp night, the stars were out and we had the pleasure of having both Taleteller AND Vyvyan attend the ceremony.  About which, there seems to be a bit of a thing in our ceremonies: when calling the quarters, some of our callers are following the pattern of calling for peace in the quarters.  Whilst not a bad thing, it makes an interesting observation.

Being a special time, I wanted us to perform a ceremony that involved working with the Life-force of the universe, to absorb the creative potential of the equinox, to receive inspiration into the subconscious from the currents of the solar and lunar event.  And of course to tap into the energised stillness of the New Moon.  So I made this a ceremony about drawing the concept of Nwyfre from Earth and sky.  I was even inspired by a separate ceremony I was invited to on the day, so I borrowed the act of drawing the rune of the Sun on another’s forehead.  In so doing, I was inspired to say the words “Strider, may you be blessed on this day and on this night.”

Strider, after this part of the ceremony, told us of something he saw while we were drawing on Nwyfre and putting the call out to the universe for us to get in touch with our own personal power.  He saw life as what could be best described as a ‘Toilet Roll’. Where you could imagine a straight and pristine sheet as being a memory, a retaining of good experiences, whereas if we come across a bad one, we can tear it out and flush it away.  He put it way more eloquently than that, but I thought it a very good example of an insightful metaphor.

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February 2015 Meeting- How we use our Druidry…..

Gezellig Chutney was our host for Tuesday’s meeting.

After being tricked by Google maps at least twice, I eventually found my way from the tram stop.  It turns out Dumbledore’s Sat Nav point blank refused to accept Gezellig’s house number and Cymro Ap Arthan gave up after being led to Bestwood, but not where he wanted to be.  Half an hour of searching yielded no success so off he popped.  I don’t blame him.  It’s as though Bestwood in Notts, is some kind of Bermuda Triangle of the East Midlands.  This comes as no surprise though, the country park and forest contain things…. I’ve camped three times at the Country Park and there has been some very active phenomena in that place.  I have a friend who is a paranormal investigator who has taken some pictures of balls of light, the likes of which I have physically seen at the Hearth Grove.  And I ain’t talking specks of dust on the lens!

Anyway.  Upon entering Gezellig and his lady’s gorgeous home, I was very impressed by how spiritual it was.  It was like an indoor Glastonbury with Goddess artwork here and there, the odd Plant Oracle card (I loved how the one on show was Puffball, card of exploring the Mysteries) here and there.

Taken From The Druid Plant Oracle by Philip & Stephanie Carr-Gomm, Artwork by Will Worthington

Taken From The Druid Plant Oracle by Philip & Stephanie Carr-Gomm, Artwork by Will Worthington

Apart from Gezellig, his lady, Dumbledore, Strider, D2, Greenfingers and myself; there were fellow guests of Gezellig Chutney.  One of whom I already knew from Nottingham’s Pagan scene.

We were all smudged with burning Sage in order for us to leave today’s stresses behind and allow us to be in the right mind frame for tonight’s meeting.  Gezellig led what he called ‘Attunement’ we at the Grove normally call it the proceedings, and there were some rather impressive Awens.

He presented us with a weighty smoky-quartz which acted as a talking stick, so that we all get a say and all listen to one another as we shared our experiences of how we use our Druidry in our everyday life.  This varied from person to person, for one it was a way of being as they incorporated Druidry into their everyday life, using it as a full spirituality.  For another it was teaching the wisdom of the Natural World around us to children.  For another it was having the courage to pursue her creative endeavours, for others it was awareness of the world around us or being ethically minded or even an attempt at finding Britain’s spiritual source.

It was quite interesting that at least five of us found that since joining OBOD, our exploration of the Bardic course has indeed changed us.  Going back to the BBQ at ‘Ragamuffin’ when we first met Greenfingers, he was nervous and looking for validation as well as ‘the CORRECT way of doing things’.  Fast forward to six months on and he is calm in himself and has now even picked up and learned how to play music.  I don’t think he even worries about doing ritual and meditation by the book, because these things are individually experienced to all of us.

We then got into a friendly discussion into those people who don’t follow a respect for nature, do we help them? If so how?  How can we convince what I call a ‘Phone-Zombie‘ to stop gazing at their hand held device and actually look at the world around them? Apart from grabbing it and smashing it against the nearest brick wall?  There was no real easy answer for this, the best we could decide as an overall answer was to teach the children.  Because its the children who ask all the questions, and if we open their eyes to the world outside instead of on a screen, then they will ask their parents all kinds of things.  It is ironic I write this on my PC and will in turn send it so you can read it on whatever device is your interface.  Hi.  How are you? Stop for a moment and try this: Close your eyes and see what you can hear all around you.  What scents come to your nose? what can you feel?  Then open your eyes and see what is there.  Take in the colours, the the faces, the shapes.  this is your world too.

How do you use your Druidry?

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Imbolc 2015

The shadowy druids looked on from their darkened hoods, their eyes glistening with malice as the poured the blood into the fire.  A baby’s cry pierced the silence and the golden sickle was revealed….

Is NOT how it went.

Sorry, bit of dark humour there.  Hello! Merry Imbolc!

The Imbolc ceremony we had took place on Tuesday 3rd Februaury 2015 on the night of the full moon! And a gorgeous night it was too.


Photo by Michael S. Yamashita, National Geographic.

Yes, it was cold, the sky was open and showing the Moon and stars, the air was chill and the ground still had frost and even the remains of snow.

During our planning in January Imbolc had no one leading it, so as soon as I told the other members of the GOC I had an idea, that was it.  Go me.

I wanted to work with the idea of ‘lactation’ being the literal translation of Imbolc.  So I wanted to include milk in the ceremony.  According to the Order, especially in the Druid Plant Oracle, Druidic practice used the offerings of milk and honey to give thanks to the Gods.  I rather liked the idea of that, last year I performed this on a separate Imbolc ceremony from the Grove. I dedicated it to Brighid and I got my answer, it just took a BIG push for me to do what I needed to.  So this year, I wanted to do something similar but not to any specific deity.  Following recent talks with the Grove members (good talks, lots of interesting and revealing informative talks!) I have come to accept that not all members of the GOC worship or honour deities.   So I kept it general.

When setting up, me and Strider worked with the stars and were a little confused when North turned out to be in a slightly different place.  Luch Dorca even questioned this (quite rightly), but no! According to the Pole Star and my compass… North was indeed THAT direction…. we’d been doing it slightly wrong for a few years.  Whoops!

I’d requested folks to bring lanterns, this was because I wanted us to have a bringing in of the light.  That and it looked cool.  There was no wind and the fire was burning brightly.  Yes! An actual fire compared to last year’s sorry attempt at lighting one (that was one of mine, too).

I gave a little talk on Imbolc being a time of the harshest part of Winter, yes the nights were getting shorter, but that doesn’t mean it was getting any warmer.  Imbolc marks the ending of the season and the arrival into Spring and I wanted this to be an actual celebration of giving thanks, instead of asking for something in the New Year.  I  knew 2014 was a bad year for quite a few people of the GOC, myself included.  In fact I’ll say it as it is: It was a right bastard!  But, there were things we could still be thankful for and it was these things, great and small, I wanted to reflect on.  It was these small flames of hope in what was an otherwise dark year that kept us going I wanted to be thankful.  So with an oat biscuit, a smidgeon of honey and a pouring of goats milk onto the earth, I gave thanks to Brighid in her Smith aspect.  It was her that allowed me to forge my getting back on track to being a performer.  Part of that forging process had my life change completely!

Others gave their thanks and offerings, all were honest and heartfelt and I was proud to be amongst such friends who could feel comfortable enough to share their gratitudes whether it was deity, friends and family, the Grove, a project.  Those who didn’t share, no problem, the whole thing was voluntary anyway.

Briseilid revealed she found the Goat’s milk funny because it reminded her of being given it fresh (literally, from a milked goat!) when she was much younger.  Luch Dorca didn’t find it funny… all the honey had oozed all over the altar cloth.  Sorry.

This was Vyvyan’s first ceremony with us and she seemed to enjoy herself and even joined in the banter.  Hopefully we’ll have both her and her husband, Taleteller, with us for Alban Eilir.

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