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We brought the World Drum to Ironbridge, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution that did so much to remove so many of us from contact with the land. Before the Industrial Revolution, about 80% of us in Britain lived and worked on the land. 20 years after it, 80% of us were living in towns and working in factories. The rite we made there was the smallest so far, with only about nine of us taking part, but it was good. We spoke of peace at the town's war memorial before moving onto the iron bridge itself, where the Drum sounded out. Below us flowed the great River Severn, sacred to the goddess Sabrina. With its flowing waters, we sent our prayers for a renewal of reverence for our Mother Earth and an end to greed and exploitation.

Like our World Drum ceremony on Glastonbury Tor, the one on Clee Hill in Shropshire was again blessed with beautiful sunshine and brilliant blue skies. There must be something about the World Drum and high places... Winding our way up Clee Hill we must have looked a little like the Fellowship of the Ring striding across stone and turf and, in places, still deep snow. Because of the snow, we had all thought it would be freezing on top of the Hill. In fact, it was very mild and there was very little wind.Morten Wolf's 'Speech for Mother Earth' opened our rite, and then we drummed, passing the World Drum around the circle as well as playing our own. We chanted our awens and sent good energy flowing out across the land. It is indeed a very beautiful place with the most amazing panoramic views across a huge swathe of the West Midlands. There are ancient burial mounds and even a Giant's Chair. I can see why Suzanne Thomas, whose idea this rite was, is so keen on the place.

Also thanks to Suzanne, we had the unusual experience of drumming in a public library in Ludlow in Shropshire. This followed a session where we introduced the Drum and its many journeys to a group of children.

We also drummed with a 1600 year old yew tree in the churchyard at Hope Bagot, also in Shropshire.

This weekend, we take the Drum to North Wales and to the sacred Druid isle of Anglesey. Should be good ...

Many blessings,Greywolf /|\

Well, it's been an adventurous few days. Our first public rite with the World Drum was at the great Avebury henge in Wiltshire. We gathered in the South Circle a little before noon and announced our intention for the rite. About 60-70 people joined us, including a group who had flown over specially from Canada and a family from India. Peace was called to the four quarters and the powers of the directions were invoked. Morten Wolf Storeide's 'Speech For Mother Earth' was read, our ancestors and the spirits of place called upon, and the heartbeat of the World Drum sounded. Lorraine took the World Drum around the circle with a spare beater so that everyone in the circle played the Drum, including several children. About twenty other drummers in the circle picked up the rhythm of the World Drum, joining the beats of their own drums with the heartbeat of Mother Earth. Energy gathered and folk danced and swayed with the sound. It was a beautiful, free-flowing, powerful and energetic rite, closing with the Druidic Oath of Peace and a chanted awen. Matthew Holbrook put up a photo-montage of the rite on the Net a couple of hours after it ended and received over 1300 visits in the first 24 hours. Afterwards, we talked to people about the Drum, its journeys and its message. The World Drum at StonehengeLater the same day, at around 5.15pm, a much smaller group gathered in the visitors' car park at Stonehenge. We had contacted the Gorsedd of Bards of Cor Gawr, a group the BDO founded 17 years ago to enable ritual access to Stonehenge, to ask if they could arrange for us to take the Drum there. Christine Cleer and Helen Tarrant of the Gorsedd made the arrangements, though we were only able to take 12 people into the stone circles, apparently because the grass had been trampled to mud in parts of the henge by a larger gathering there at the Spring Equinox.
In the event, two people didn't make it so we were only 10 and the World Drum. Most of the 10 brought their own drums. Again, we called for peace, using a bardic branch of peace decked with bells, we called the powers of the four directions, the ancestors, the spirits of place and the gods of our ancestors. We drummed, passing the World Drum from hand to hand. We then placed the Drum and our own drums on and around a low domed stone near the centre of the henge, linked hands and chanted a rolling awen.The World Drum at Stonehenge
The following day, we were atop Glastonbury Tor in brilliant sunshine with a circle of about a 100 people, at least one of whom had flown over from America for the event. This was an amazing rite. We called upon Britannia, the ancient goddess of our lands, daughter of Neptune. We called upon Albion, the sleeping giant who is the spirit of the people of our lands, all of them, of whatever race, religion or culture. We called upon the goddess Brigit, patroness of bards. We called upon the coiled Dragon who resides within the Tor. And then we drummed. There were, I think, about 30 drummers in the circle and wow did we drum! The energy in that sacred place under the blazing sun was just amazing. The power flowing up from the earth was palpable. It was one of most powerful rites I've ever taken part in.
DSCF0040Today is Wednesday, April 3rd and our fourth public rite was at Ironbridge in Shropshire, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. 20 years before the Industrial Revolution, 80% of our population lived on the land and worked in agriculture. 20 years after it, 80% lived in towns and cities and worked in factories, mines and mills. Many of us thus lost our close connection with Mother Earth, so this seemed like the right place to bring the World Drum's message of re-connection with our great Mother. Again, we were blessed with brilliant sunshine and blue skies. Our rite was divided between an observation platform overlooking the River Severn, the town's war memorial, where we prayed for peace and played the Drum, and the centre of the iron bridge itself, with the waters of the great river flowing below us. Here we heard an invocation of Sabrina, the goddess of the river, given by Elaine Wildways. And then, yes, we drummed. We were photographed and Greywolf was interviewed for the Shropshire Star newspaper and attracted considerable attention from visitors and locals alike. It was a moving rite.
The town of Ironbridge, formerly a polluted hive of industrial activity, is now a peaceful, beautiful place nestled in its steep river valley, proving the extent to which our Mother Earth can return beauty and peace to the world given a chance and a little time. Yes, definitely the right place to take the World Drum.
Next events are at Clee Hill in Shropshire this weekend, including a Drum rite followed by a folk night at Hope Bagot village hall on Friday evening, a rite on Titterstone Clee on Saturday, and a rite at the local church on Sunday morning. ... Then Anglesey ... and more ...
Working with the World Drum is a profoundly moving experience. Knowing that it has passed through so many hands before us, so many countries all over the world, so many cultures, all linked together, heart to heart, in sacred ceremonies for our Mother Earth and for World Peace. It is a powerful, undeniable spiritual call and one we are honoured to respond to in these rites. May our Mother Earth be honoured by all, and may all know peace and joy. So may it be!

The World Drum is about to begin its travels around the UK, beginning with a rite among the great sarsen stones of Avebury in Wiltshire on Saturday, March 30th, meeting at 11.30am. Avebury has always seemed to me a great and welcoming, maternal place, so to bring the Drum that bears the heartbeat of Mother Earth to Avebury is, as they say, a no-brainer 😉Glastonbury TorThe following day, the Drum travels to Glastonbury Tor, again gathering for the rite at 11.30am. At Glastonbury, we aim to work with the goddess Britannia, the female spirit of our land, and with Albion, the male (some say androgynous) spirit of the people of Britain ... all the people, whatever their geographical or racial origins ... for we are a rainbow nation comprised of the different folks who have arrived in these lands since the end of the last Ice Age. We shall ask these two great spirits to spread the messages of the Drum, messages of peace and reverence, throughout our own lands and to lands beyond, through the Drum, the heartbeat of our Mother Earth.
The weather here in the UK is unseasonably cold, much of the country being under snow and in the grip of Winter. Avebury and Glastonbury look set to be cold, but both lie outside the zone of snow that's blanketing the North and East. Winds also look like being light over the weekend, so we should be OK. Do wrap up warm for both events though. Bring drums and Ironbridge, Shropshiredance, it's a good way to keep warm 🙂
Next Wednesday, we head North, gathering again at Ironbridge in Shropshire, birthplace of the Industrial Revolution that has brought so many benefits and so many problems to humankind. The World Drum is a call to restore a spiritual balance to our relationship with Mother Earth, while the Industrial Revolution brought about the beginning of the wholesale stripping of resources from the Earth, itself leading to widespread ecological problems and pollution of air and water. To counteract the harm being done by industrial processes, we need to clean them up, recycle rather than mine, phase out the use of non-biodegradable plastics, and build to last instead of to fall apart and be replaced. We need to replace the capitalist notion of producing for profit with the egalitarian concept of producing for use. End of sermon...
And then on to Titterstone Clee, Cae Mabon, Anglesey and Wildways ... Much to do ... May our endeavours be blessed. Join us if you can, join the beat of your own Drum, your own heart, with the beat of the World Drum, the heartbeat of our Mother Earth.
Many blessings,
Greywolf /|\

For details of all these events, including maps showing how to get to them, go to The World Drum events page and click on the individual events.

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The World Drum
The World Drum

As mentioned in an earlier post, White Cougar, the shaman whose vision inspired the creation of the World Drum, is joining us for this weekend, along with Morten Wolf Storeide, who has been overseeing the Drum's travels around the world for the last seven years. While they're with us, we have a wonderful opportunity to join with them in a Saami rite of blessing and healing. This will use the World Drum and a healing plant called chaga and will be on Friday evening. Saturday will see the main Druid Hedge Schools teaching sessions, beginning in the morning, breaking for lunch and running all afternoon.
Saturday evening is the main eisteddfod with special musical guests, Robin Williamson (Incredible String Band), Andy Letcher (singer-songwriter with Telling the Bees), Greywolf, The Northern Lights Shamanic Band and Jake Thomas. There will also be music on Friday and Sunday. Sunday there will be more Hedge Schools Druidry, including forest skills in the 40 acres of beautiful woodland, as well as further ritual and entertainment. Sunday lunchtime, as well as the shared meal, there will be a bring-and-buy market and more live music, followed by our farewell ceremony with the World Drum. Yay! Come and join us. This weekend is offered at a bargain price as Elaine and Garth at Wildways are providing everything at cost. We don't anticipate making any profit from this weekend, but that's not what it's about. It's about spreading the word, making ritual, making friends and sharing music and magic.

Check out these tracks by some of the guests at our Saturday night concert: Greywolf - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkCqslJWDcg  Robin Williamson - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOBT1X34Imw Andy Letcherhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CN7FaGutxGE#! The Northern Lights Shamanic Band - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXVIt-qLL3U

For more details and booking, go to the Events Page. Or download this PDF Leaflet.

For information on the chaga plant and its medicinal uses, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inonotus_obliquus

The World Drum being played in ceremony on Dragon Hill, May, 2006.

At 11.30am on March 31st, we'll be bringing the World Drum to Glastonbury Tor to create a ceremony to strengthen humanity's spiritual relationship with our great Mother Earth. We shall call upon the two great spirits of our own land, the goddess Britannia and the giant, Albion, who some say sleeps beneath the Tor, awaiting our time of greatest need. Glastonbury resident, Geoffrey Ashe, says in Camelot and the Vision of Albion, (Panther, 1975):
“As the Eternal Man prior to all history and Creation itself as we know it, Albion is both human and divine, both male and female, enjoying complete balance and harmony. He is perfectly wise and perfectly innocent. … Albion's waking cannot mean simply a social upheaval or national liberation, though such events might well follow. It implies the return of human beings to full human stature and integrity; their becoming what they were always meant to be. That is the first step towards any true revolution....Somehow, human beings must recapture the lost glory in themselves, must transcend their present state, if they are to change the world. The way up is through Eden....or Avalon....The relevance of all this to Blake's idea of human regeneration is, first, that the heightened vision is needed....[quoting Blake]: If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.... Thanks partly to the Celts and their bardic tradition ... the ancient presences still hover around us. The ancient quests can still be renewed.”
Geoffrey Ashe also wrote the following in the late 60s/early 70s underground newspaper, Gandalf's Garden: “Britain will begin to be reborn when Glastonbury is. The Giant Albion will begin to awake when his sons and daughters gather inside the enchanted boundary, and summon him with the right words, the right actions, a different life.”
Come and join us if you can, bringing love, peace, energy, enthusiasm, spiritual power, and a drum if you have one, to join with the heartbeat of Mother Earth and awaken the sleeping giant.

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Robin Williamson harping
Britain's finest bard, Robin Williamson

We're delighted that White Cougar, the Norwegian shaman whose vision inspired the creation of the World Drum, and Morten Wolf Storeide, who oversees the Drum's travels around the world and across cultures, will both be joining us for this weekend of teaching, ritual and music.

And, speaking of music, we're equally delighted to announce that we have Britain's première bard, multi-instrumentalist, and brilliant singer-songwriter, the great Robin Williamson, joining us. Robin's set will feature songs from throughout a career that spans six decades. Robin founded the Incredible String Band in the 60s. Paul McCartney declared their 5,000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion his favourite album of 1967 - the year of Sgt. Pepper and of Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced? and Axis: Bold as Love - Hendrix was also a String Band fan, as was Bob Dylan. Led Zeppelin said their inspiration came from 'listening to an Incredible String Band album and following the instructions'. Robin has since performed and recorded with his own Merry Band, with former String Band colleagues, brass bands, jazz musicians and other stars of Britain's folk scene. Also playing for us will be BDO chief, Greywolf, who promises a set taken from the Sign of the Rose album and some new songs not yet recorded.

During the day on Saturday, we have workshop sessions from seven guest presenters, including Greywolf, on many aspects of Druidry. All in all, this will be an amazing weekend, and all for the absolute bargain price of £55. Or you can come to all of the workshops and the evening concert on Saturday for only £21. What are you waiting for? Don't delay, BOOK ONLINE today!!! See you there. /|\

As part of our ongoing plan to merge BDO Druidry with the surrounding wonderment that is the 21st century, we now have online booking available for two wondrous weekend events occurring in April next year. The first is at Cae Mabon in North Wales, a remarkable venue with a roundhouse, long-house, hot tub, &c, all in a beautiful woodland valley setting, and will be centred around the World Drum, with a visit to nearby Anglesey, an important centre of Druidry 2,000 years ago and still home to some remarkable ancient sacred sites. The second is the launch weekend for the Druid Hedge Schools Project and will feature workshops and music from an assortment of guests, including our very own Greywolf and other contributors to our courses. This will take place at Wildways, a remarkable venue with a roundhouse, long-house, sauna, &c, all in a beautiful woodland valley setting (hmm, that sounds familiar). Book for both events via our Events Page and ensure some Springtime magic. /|\

In the meantime, if I don't get another chance to get online with an update between now and then, may I take this opportunity to wish all our visitors and our many friends around the world a happy, peaceful, warm and loving Midwinter, from all of us at the BDO /|\

As you may have noticed, we're in the process of making changes on the website that should make navigating around it easier and also enable us to add more pages. Among other things, we plan to have a gallery page, a blog and, perhaps most important, a contacts page.

Work is progressing on our new ovate course, albeit more slowly than planned due to that curious pattern of events, accidents and adventures we call 'life.' My belief in the course has grown as it has grown. Right at the beginning, I was concerned that we'd put so much into our bardic course that there wouldn't be enough left for an ovate. I couldn't have been more wrong. The ovate course is, in fact, almost twice the length of the bardic and full of amazing stuff. I can say that because a lot of it is written by other hands. We have a whole cycle of seasonal rituals composed by Elaine Wildways, who has also provided a number of rites of passage for women. Well-known Pagan author, Elen Hawke, has written a cycle of rites and meditations for the phases of the moon, and on sidereal astrology. Leon Reed writes on astrology and herbalism, and we also have contributions from Blue Fox, who provided so much of our bardic course, and others. I am, I have to admit, quietly pleased with my own contributions too.

As with the putting together of the bardic course, I have found editing the ovate course a stimulating, educational and inspirational experience. Among other things, I've learned about the links between the Celts of the classical period with neighbouring civilisations; ancient Greek philosophy; the Hindu Ayurvedic system, and the origins of the universe. One of the things I'm most pleased with is that I finally came to understand a medieval Irish text I'd known for years, and, having begun to understand it, it led me to develop a whole group of therapeutic techniques based on it that one medical professional has described as having the potential to be 'bigger than Reiki.'

A pdf sample containing extracts from the ovate course will be posted on the Ovate Course page soon. The one for the bardic course is already available on the Bardic Course page at the foot of the text.

Back soon with further news.

Many blessings,

Greywolf /|\

It was 19 years ago today, a complete Metonic cycle ago, that about forty of us stood together in the South Circle at Avebury and swore "by peace and love to stand, heart to heart and hand in hand," creating as we did so the Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri. All these years later, the Gorsedd still gathers at Avebury to celebrate the turning of the Wheel of the Year.

That first ceremony (left) was paThe first gathering of the Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri, Autumn Equinox, September 1993.rt of a multi-faith gathering organised by the late Tim Sebastion, founder of the Secular Order of Druids. Tim asked me to create a ceremony with a Druidic framework but suitable for people of all faiths, since the weekend was attended by Christian ministers from three different denominations, Wiccans, Druids, Heathens, Earth Mysteries folk, Reichian therapists, UFOlogists and others. The rite that I came up with provided the template for the Gorsedd, not only at Avebury but elsewhere, as far afield as the Seattle-based Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Pugetia, who are also meeting today.

Our ceremony in 1993 was attended by, among others, Philip Carr-Gomm, Emma Restall Orr, Shan Jayran, Gordon Strachan (author of 'Jesus the Master Builder'), Graham Harvey, Ronald Hutton, John Michell and many other notable folk. One of my fondest memories of the day is of asking those who wished to be initiated as bards of the Gorsedd to step forward. I had included a short initiation because two members of the BDO, Gary and Debbie, had asked to be initiated as bards shortly before and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. I was only expecting the two of them to step forward. In the event, about 30 of the 40 present did so, at which point Philip Carr-Gomm, who was standing next to me, leaned closer and said quietly, "Erm, what do we do now?" Thus was a legend born, amongst humour and goodwill. Little did we know that, only two years later, the Avebury Gorsedd would be attracting upwards of 500 people and that Ronald Hutton would be referring to it as "the central event of the new Druidry."

Many blessings to all the thousands of bards around the world who have been initiated at BDO Gorseddau and others inspired by them in the 19 years since that memorable day,

Greywolf /|\

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Master of ceremonies: soldier Rory MacKenzie introduced the procession of 'Mad Max' characters. MacKenzie had his leg blown off by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq

Click the photo to view a short (5 mins) video of the Druid speeches and other beautiful highlights of the closing ceremony.

We were sworn to secrecy beforehand, but Emma Restall Orr and I were approached by the organisers of the 2012 Paralympics closing ceremony with a surprising request. They wanted our permission to use parts of the gorsedd ritual we wrote in 1997. So, about 21 minutes into the ceremony, these words went out to 750 million people around the world, spoken by Rory Mackenzie on behalf of Help For Heroes:

I call upon the spirit of Autumn. The spirit of water, of the ebb and flow of emotion; of open seas and running streams, of cleansing rain; spirit of the evening sun, of twilight and of Autumn.
I call upon the spirit of Winter. The spirit of earth, of the womb of creation; of the night and the snows of winter, deep roots and ancient stones.
I call upon the spirit of Spring. The spirit of air, the breath of life; of sunrise, and of new life and of new growth.
I call upon the Spirit of Summer. The spirit of fire, of energy of passion; spirit of the noonday sun, the heat of summer, vitality and abundance.
My friends, let the festival commence!

And then, about 30 minutes in, Rory spoke these words:

The circle is unbroken,
The ancestors awoken.
May the songs of the Earth
and of her people ring true.
Hail to the Festival of the flame
of root and branch, tooth and claw,
fur and feather, of earth and sea and sky.

When the original gorsedd ceremony was composed in 1993, it was designed to bring together people of many faiths, cultures and backgrounds at a multi-faith conference in Avebury. Its use in the Paralympics closing ceremony seems perfectly in keeping with this original intention, and Emma and I were happy to agree to the request. Plus the Paralympics have been very effective in changing attitudes towards disability, which is no bad thing.

We like to think that the inclusion of words from a modern Pagan rite in such a high profile context, seen by so many people around the world, may herald a new appreciation of the creative and inspirational role played by paganism, both historically and in the present, and a return of Druidry to the mainstream of our culture.

Blessings to all,

Greywolf /|\