Check out the all-star line-up for what looks like being a cracking event. Previous events have been amazing, offering an opportunity to engage with a wide range of modern Druids and Druidry. Plus music, stalls, and all manner of wonderment. Check out our own events page, or the DRUID 2013 facebook page, or the DRUID 2013 website, where you can book tickets. See you there...
Well, it's been, as I suspected it would be, a long, strange trip, but our ovate course is now almost complete. It will run to over 1200 pages, of which there are only 60 left to fill. I'm just waiting on a couple of articles from colleagues and we're there. The first five packages, i.e. ten months' worth, are ready to go, indeed the first half of the course is already online.
Why did I suspect it would be a long, strange trip? Well, for one thing, I've known a lot of people who've worked through the OBOD Ovate course and many of them have experienced life-changing events of one kind or another during it, often of a disturbing nature. I also knew the sort of stuff we were going to be dealing with in our course, including things like illness, madness and death. OK, we were going to be presenting many ways of dealing with those things, nevertheless, they are life's great traumas. So, I plunged in singing the Boy Scout mantra, "Be Prepared."
I made sure to program into the course many things that have helped me deal with life's crises over the years, rediscovered some long lost ones and came up with some new ones. I figured I would need them. I hadn't realised quite how much I would need them, nor that I wouldn't be the only one.
At the end of August 2012, my son, Joe, was rushed into hospital with a seriously infected appendix. Two weeks later, Joe was back home, thank the gods, when I was rushed to the same hospital with chest pains. It turned out that I had contracted pleurisy and my left lung had stopped working.
Through the winter, I kept hearing from people I knew who were suffering financial crashes, illness and emotional turmoil.
Now, obviously, it wasn't the fact that I was editing an ovate course that caused these things to happen, they just coincided with awful precision. However, as is my way, I kept my head down and, as much as possible, kept working.
I was rewarded with moments of great wonder, magic and elation, of awen's unfettered flow. One example was the re-discovery of an ancient Irish system of healing concealed in a cryptic passage in the middle of a medieval law text. I uncovered a huge amount of material to do with our ancestors approach to health and healing and how we can use the same methods today. This tallied beautifully with the Druid Herbal I'd been given by my old friend, Leon Reed, to incorporate into the course. I also came up with a new/old way of working with the spirits of trees, with assistance from friends in OBOD.
And then there were the Norwegians. As you'll see elsewhere in these blogs, we had the most amazing time hosting the World Drum, created by Sami drum-maker, Birger Mikkelsen (that's him, left). In April, we had the huge joy of meeting the shaman whose vision inspired the making, White Cougar, along with the overseer of the Drum's global travels, Morten Wolf Storeide, and two fellow Norwegian shamans, Lena M. Paalvig Johnsen (that's her, right) and Will Rubach. Lena and Will are members of a band called Balfolket. Check out this video of them on Youtube. They turned out to be four of the most amazing, inspiring people I've ever met. And to cap it all, I got to sing a duet with my all-time musical hero, the great Robin Williamson, co-founder of The Incredible String Band. Wow! I was truly blissed ... ecstatic ... on another plane ... Check out Robin's website, or search on Youtube for his beautiful music.
So, yes, it has been the proverbial roller coaster ride, but it's almost done. Has it been worth it? Emphatically and absolutely, yes. I truly believe that this course represents the best that contemporary Paganism and Druidry have to offer. It should establish once and for all that Druidry is a spiritual path capable of standing proudly alongside any other. You can check out samples from some of the booklets here... BDO Ovate Course Sampler ... bear in mind, however, that you will need to have successfully completed our bardic course before you can access the ovate course. The reason is simple. The bardic course lays a lot of foundations that are necessary to successfully follow the ovate course. Sorry, but there simply wasn't any other way to go about putting these courses together. However, I'm pretty sure you'll find it worthwhile. After six years of intense work, I certainly have. I've learned a lot. I've also had a lot of fun locating and creating a range of weird, wonderful, colourful illustrations for the booklets, of which this is one on the left. No, it's not what you think! It's actually a model of a rib cage and internal organs which was deposited 2,000 years ago into the healing spring that becomes the River Seine, sacred to the goddess Sequana, one of whose functions is to assist in healing and one of whose attributes is ... a duck!
About six months ago, I tried editing together a sampler pdf file with selections from our new ovate course. This proved to be more difficult than I'd imagined. The course runs to about 1200 pages, over 400,000 words and more than 550 illustrations. It's structured around the interweaving of natural cycles, of sun and moon, seasonal growth and decay, birth, life and death. It includes suggested texts for rites of passage and ceremonies of celebration. It traces the universal cycle from the moment of creation through to potential dissolution, both as revealed through science and in the myths of our ancestors. It delves into realms of seership, divination, astrology, philosophy, healing, herbalism, Otherworlds and other ways of seeing and being. Selecting just few pages to try and represent all this material wasn't easy. I was unable to complete it to my satisfaction, then life, other work and The World Drum led me away down other paths for a while. However, the sampler was not forgotten, so the other day I took another crack at it. It's still not possible to give more than a brief flavour of what's on offer, but a little taste is better than nothing, so I re-edited, shortened some pieces and added a few others. The resulting pdf file can be accessed by clicking here: BDO Ovate Course Sampler and is also available on the ovate course page.We're very, very excited to have this course online. We felt we'd done a good job on the bardic course, and feedback from it suggests that we have. With the ovate course, however, we feel we've upped our game to a whole other level. We believe that it represents a uniquely powerful vision of contemporary Druidry as a native spirituality of true depth and value, especially, of course, to those seeking a path rooted in the land and ancestry of Britain and Europe, yet viable for anyone, anywhere in the world. We love it, and we hope you will too.
NB. We have been asked if it is necessary to have completed our bardic course before you can access the ovate course. The answer is yes. This is because the ovate course builds on foundations laid in the bardic course and frequently refers back to information found in it.
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. Later 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 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.
Today 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 😉The 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 dance, 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.
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.
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 Letcher - http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CN7FaGutxGE#! The Northern Lights Shamanic Band - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXVIt-qLL3U
For information on the chaga plant and its medicinal uses, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inonotus_obliquus
Hi, I am a relatively new druid, and I was wondering- for ceremonies, should we wear the green, blue and white robes? I know what each one stands for, and in photos I've seen other druids wearing them. If we do, how much are they? Where on earth do you get them from? 🙂
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.
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. /|\