Posts Tagged ‘Modern Druidry’
The following series of posts recounts the tales of our adventures on the island of Iona in the Hebrides in the west of Scotland. We went there for the Autumn Equinox. Of course, my tales will be primarily from my perspective as Kal has his own stories to tell, and amazing they are too. Of course, we journeyed together so our stories intertwine to some extent. Where Kal acted as a foil or sidekick I will include his aspects, otherwise you’ll get predominantly mine.
Scotland sticks in my mind for many reasons – I used to live there as a small boy, I love the mountains (they are my Air/Sky image for elemental meditations) and I hate the weather (muggy and midge-ridden in summer, unbearable wind and rain in winter). However, despite my reservations I had two necessary goals that Iona seemed to be the perfect place to satisfy. These were:
- To discover the quest or task that would keep my busy for the next eighth of the wheel of the year, and
- To learn more about an unidentified energy form that I had found at Karnak Temple in Egypt, and which I had subsequently map-dowsed as also being present in Iona.
One ferry, two ferries, three ferries, more
The first ferry is from Oban to the island of Mull. Oban is a lovely little town that deserved more time, and as we pulled away on the ferry I saw a rounded hill behind a castle on the shoreline and I made a mental note that I needed to come back this way again. There was something about that hill….The tourism tagline at the moment is “It’s closer than you think“. It’s not. They lie. I thought it was about a five and a half hour drive and I wasn’t far wrong. And we live in the North of England. From anywhere else it’s even farther. The tagline should be “It’s further away than you’d like, and then a wee bit more – but it’s worth it (if it’s not raining, which it usually is)”. Truth in advertising? Not likely. Not catchy enough.
The sun shone and we were able to stand on deck watching the waves churn into spume below the boat’s keel and the seabirds wheel and whirl in our wake. The rising mountains of Mull were a formidable but fascinating prospect for the drive across the island to Fionnphort where we would catch our second ferry – this time to the tiny island of Iona. The drive across Mull was idyllic. Rarely have I seen such beauty. Firstly over the mountain passes, then the road by the lakeside became picture postcard perfect. All too soon we were at the tiny ferry terminal and ready to board the ferry to Iona. So I left my staff behind in the tea room on Mull.
Of course I had to go back for it on the ferry. I can now say I’ve been to Iona twice. Settled and with staff, we were ready to begin our island adventure. We started at the first feature to make an appearance – the Nunnery next to St.Ronan’s Church.
I would say that what happened next was a perfect introduction to the uniqueness of this island, and it set the tone for the whole set of adventures that followed.
Well, I see that Kal got his summary out first. Still, “if you can’t beat them…”
Generally, what type of year it has been? Dis-jointed, slower than last year’s breakneck speed, measured, with lots of deep synchronicities. When I come to review the year I realise that I still made lots of progress on the various tasks that I was lead to perform in order to progress along my path of Druidry.
Below are the main topics that I have picked out from this year’s blog posts. I have tried to keep the explanations to a minimum, so have included links back to the original postings if you want the detail for each of the topics. What I thought was a quiet year has actually turned out to be incredibly packed and busy. The topics are in no order whatsoever, which kind of fits with the way that the year’s learning has come about – seemingly haphazard, but all threading into and through itself like some kind of cat’s cradle whose overall pattern will only be known when the final moves have played out.
26 topics I have been involved in this year:-
a) Healing – Most of the year has been spent developing healing skills, whether that was using remote energies, balancing the chakras, healing with the hands, or with crystals. I have realised that I am more attuned to healing places than people currently, but that is changing. The healing energies can be attuned to different colours for particular effects. To work with these energies I need to understand which “colour” is missing from a site and then call upon the energies of the local living entities to gather together to create this missing colour and thus heal the site. [related posts: My Five Healing Rays, Healing Rays Explained]
Also, in conjunction with my friend Mike, we created a new healing centre at The Bridestones in Cheshire. [related posts: A New Healing Centre]
b) Re-discovering the bard - Discovered great new music (and that I like the new forms of folk music) at The Green Man Festival, and saw Roy Harper in concert in London. This year music has really connected with my heart and stirred great emotions. I have written more poetry this year than in other years too. [related posts: Green Man Festival, Roy Harper]
c) Astrological links to Venus, Orion’s Belt and Sirius affirmed at almost every site. Also Scorpius, astrological links to Arthur and the Great Bear constellation. The constellations of Serpens, Corvus and Perseus have been especially meaningful to me this year, guiding me along a very meaningful path from one end of an energy ley to another. [related posts: Serpent at Castlerigg, Arthurian Archetypes of Corvus, The Berth and Death of Scorpius, The Three Stars of Fertility, Absorbing Orion at Lud's Church]
You may have noticed the lack of podcasts this year on Hedge Druid? There’s a reason for that. In the first half of the year the reason could be put down to a mounting pressure of “work”. Mostly this was spiritual work, and with all the good weather we have had in England this year then the Great Outdoors claimed a large part of my time, and this was reflected in the amount of time-consuming podcast work that I could do. Right, that’s my pathetic excuse out of the way. Now, what about the recent months? I did intend to re-establish the podcast once the weather got worse. It has worsened, but still I don’t feel inclined to get back into the studio to record and edit an hour’s worth of audio. Why not? I think there’s a deeper and wider reason.
I have been noticing that other pagan blogs have also begun to falter in their regularity and their commitment. Could it be that we all expanded too quickly, and pushed ourselves too hard to produce content? Possibly, but I think the real reason is due to a difficulty in maintaining momentum when this year has been out of synchronisation with itself. Let me explain.
The Moon, The Sun and The Earth sources
Last year our blogs flourished. Mostly these are blogs that are talking about magickal work, mystical happenings and spiritual progress. What general effect has happened that could account for the difference between last year’s ease and this year’s difficulty? Simple. It is the synchronisation of the phase of the Moon with the Celtic Festival dates. Last year the high points in the solar cycle were matched by high points in the lunar cycle. In other words, at the major lunar festival dates the Moon was also usually in its Full Moon phase.
The Celtic Wheel of the Year is a cycle that records the high points of the year’s energies. It tells the pagan watcher when the Earth itself is producing the most energy in its co-operative cycle with The Sun. In my experience, and I speak only for myself here, I do not use The Sun as my primary magickal power source. For me it is The Moon. Last year was therefore a “bumper year” in terms of the number of coincidences between the Solar and Lunar high points. Magick was abundant and easy. Motivation was plentiful, and so a great deal of work flowed, and many posts got produced. Blogs flourished that dealt with these subjects.
This year the story has been completely reversed, and how dispiriting must that have been to many of our pagan friends whose magickal sources are Moon-dependent? This year the Full Moon phases NEVER coincide with any of the Solar Festival dates in the Celtic Year. Only Spring Equinox came close. The result of this, goes my tenuous hypothesis, is that motivation has taken a battering. Magickal people must have found themselves either doing Sun OR Moon work, but never being able to being the two together.
I have been thinking about The Census that is being taken at the moment. It seems that we are not free to express our beliefs openly, and instead we will have to confirm to an existing label in order to have our beliefs recognised. I rebel against that idea. Instead, where the form asks for me to define my belief structure I have come up with a few terms that I am considering some options for the “Any other religion, write in” box.
Here are my suggestions, perhaps one will strike a chord with you too:-
- Evangelical Etherist - someone who preaches to others about the invisible energies and enjoys laughing gas.
- Virtual Neo-Druid - not quite at the stage of being a fully-fledged modern druid, and possibly may not exist either.
- Hedonistic Pantheist - someone who really enjoys believing that Nature is a living force that pervades all things. May involve nudity. May contain nuts.
- Pagan Ele-Mentalist - follows the old ways, believes in at least four divisions of Nautre, and may be mentally unstable.
You may have to write in the margins with those. Only a bit of fun, because we shouldn’t take these things too seriously.
I took a look at the statistics for the blog for last year (2010) and compared them with the year before. In 2009 we had 12,000 page views in the year. This year we have had an astonishing 75,500 – more than a six-fold increase!
All we can say is thanks to all of you who have found our humble little blog of interest. We hope it has inspired your own quests, whether that be dowsing, druidry, visiting ancient monuments or other esoteric subjects.
We will be bringing you much more of that sort of thing this year too, buiilding on our findings from previous years.
In the near future we will be out celebrating Imbolc at Lindisfarne, and checking whether the energy lines that go there are linked to the Arbor Low stone circle in Derbyshire.
We are beginning to plan the year’s excursions and have decided upon Yorkshire and South Wales this year as places that we would like to visit.
So stay in touch, stay tuned, and listen our for our podcasts as we explore the world of earth energies, ley lines, sacred sites, dowsing and druidry from the ground up and hopefully answer some of life’s mystical, magical and mysterious along the way.
Love and gratitude.
Gwas & Kal.
This post is the second half of a post I did after the Summer Solstice. My purpose was to record the eight points in the year because at each of these artificial stages which were roughly aligned to the Celtic or Neo-Pagan calendar I would be seeking a task by communing with Nature. The task would be a guiding principle that I could use in order to develop spiritually along my chosen path of being a hedge druid.
You can read about the first four “folds” of the year in my previous post, here. However, I will briefly recap the first four, before going on to describe the final four:-
- Yule to Imbolc – to be still, and to cleanse myself in preparation for the unfolding year. Accordingly I did nothing at all!
- Imbolc to Spring Equinox – to awaken the energies of sacred sites; to contact spirits of place and prepare myself and sacred sites for the work ahead. I spent time communing with Spirits of Place and walking circles to awaken them.
- Spring Equinox to Beltane – to connect to the earth’s energy grid; understand the nature of Neutral earth energy forms and to extract and utilise Neutral energy. I began to link to various sites, and connected myself to the earth grid. I investigated neutral energy and found something that I later called Primal Energy.
- Beltane to Summer Solstice- to learn how to diffract, dissociate and extract the different frequencies that my energy field can generate. Then to learn how to bring those frequencies together again to form a pure white energy form. I learned how to extract a single energy colour from my whole field, and how to combine them all into a white light energy.
All of this work seemed like a preparation for something. Little did I know! Now I present the final four folds of the year, and their increasingly complex task assignments:-
SUMMER SOLSTICE to LAMMAS
The Summer Solstice is the easiest point in the year for us to define. Being sun-based this day is fixed upon the rise of the sun on the longest day of the year. As has become our custom this year would see Kal and I in Glastonbury for the Solstice, working on our heart chakra and finding out what the next part of the year was about.
- To wake The Dragon and let it fly.
I firstly had to ensure that my heart chakra was well balanced and filled with the energies of the sun and the solstice. With the sun at its peak the perfect place to be for the Solstice always seems to be Glastonbury with its reputation for being the heart chakra of these islands, and Glastonbury Tor has a reputation within that reputation for being the heart of the Glastonbury. Well, yet again, we were not disappointed, either with the copious amounts of heart energy available in this town, or with the wonderful energies of this time of the year.
My task to waking the dragon would take me eventually to Cadair Idris where I would walk along the back of the dragon to its head. There I did a walking meditation, collecting dragon’s teeth and using them to act as acupuncture points to release the spirit of the dragon. All this was done surrounded by the dragon’s breath – the mist.
Since doing that act I have been able to feel energy much better than before. My dowsing response is also much stronger, and I often don’t need the rods to feel auras or to follow energy lines. I have also taken on a new appreciation for the power of the mountains.
LAMMAS to AUTUMN EQUINOX
As the summer ripens the crops so the year’s quest began to get more juicy. Rather than receiving some kind of prophetic vision instead I was given three little words, and from that phrase I had to extrapolate my own tasks. This was beginning to make me more independent.
- To make magic manifest
- To bring magic into daily use
I began to find meditation spaces in nature that I could retire to in order to do more work regularly. This worked while the weather stayed good and I got out often and did an almost daily meditation in nature. I began to work with my navel chakra and learned how to draw out invisible threads of energy that could be used to perform magic with. I incorporated several methods of connecting and drawing energy from nature to form energetic shapes around me for different purposes.
At the end of this phase of the year I was much more familiar with, and happy to use, natural magick on a daily basis. It had become a part of my routine and was now woven into the fabric of what I was trying to do to progress. Incense and crystals were valuable tools in this work, and I was using them often.
AUTUMN EQUINOX to SAMHAIN
As the leaves turned brown and fell I found myself enveloped in a long-term quest to re-energise particular sacred sites. The first one was local to me, but the second was in the town of Llangollen in North Wales. I found myself going to the hill of Dinas Bran a few times at all hours of the day and night after I received a curious riddle concerning Merlin.
- To journey into the Underworld and wake the Spirit of Merlin from his sleep
The instruction was accompanied by a riddle that gave me directions to follow in order to fulfil the quest to meet the spirit of Merlin. This quest involved the preparation of a wand of rowan, the location of a special stone church surrounded by ancient yew trees, and a deep meditation into the Underworld. This journey required me to learn new skills such as how to protect my energy body and make myself invisible to shades.
When the quest was completed I had new stronger keener abilities, and I had performed a sort of alchemical wedding by combining within myself the forces of male and female energy.
SAMHAIN to WINTER SOLSTICE
A time of the year associated with the veil between worlds, with death and the Underworld, with spirits and ghosts. It came as little surprise then that my new quest would be revealed at the tree most symbolic of this threshold – the yew.
So many of this year’s quests have involved the ancient yew tree at Llangernyw that I have lost count. It seems to be our natural starting point because of its incredible energies, and its association with the concept of shamanic journeying. It is truly a gateway between worlds. The Samhain quest began with the tree too. As with many of the quests it sounded simple, but was actually the most complex and dangerous yet.
- To free spirits.
Such a simple statement, but when unpacked, so complex to deliver. For this task I have had to do a lot of background reading about the concept of spirit rescue or release.
I have also had to confront a great deal of my own inner philosophical prejudices concerning the way that the world is constructed, and what it means to venture beyond the veil of death. This feels like a natural extension of my journey into the Underworld, which at the time I took to be a metaphorical journey until the seriousness was impressed upon me. It was a real journey, and failure to prepare could result in actual physical repercussions.
This quest also has a serious side. Whilst I am tasked with learning new skills, and understand that performing spirit rescue is a question of choice, nevertheless there could and no doubt will be some hairy and scary moments along this path, for which I have to prepare properly.
The first half of the year was concerned with me locking myself into the rhythm of the seasons. It involved tasks that were mainly preparatory – at the start of the year I was idle, resting, recuperating my energy levels and winding myself up to race headlong at the year. Then I was gently re-introduced to the energies of the land as they returned, and was given the task to co-operate in the re-introduction of energy back into the sacred sites that I love.
The turning point was the Summer Solstice. From then on the quests became very personal and very challenging. They began to involve me having to learn new skills. The quests sometimes included riddles for me to solve, clues to information that would help me to achieve the results. I worked hard to embrace each new quest, and tried my utmost to meet the requirements in the timescales laid out by the passing of the year. I was rewarded at each stage with new powers, new skills and new insights into the world of Natural Magick, subtle energies, and the world beyond the senses.
I know that each of the quests that I undertook was but an introduction to the breadth and depth of the skills that a hedge druid could be required to master. I now look forward to repeating this process next year, and once I have a second year to compare this year to, I will look to see whether there are any obvious correspondences and patterns which will allow me to be even better prepared in the following years.
The Wheel of the Year has rolled forward and I have moved with it. Now I feel the wind rushing through my hair and it is exhilarating!
Related post: My Eight Fold Year – the first four folds
A bit of a break from the reports of visiting ancient sites and dowsing. In this post I want to tell you how I found my own sacred grove. As a fledgling druid I have got to a stage in my training where I want to be free to experiment with the suggestions that I am reading and hearing from other people. I have my own ideas about what it means to be a druid too, and now I need somewhere that I can be free to try these things out. A place where I can feel totally alone, uninhibited and yet within a protective space. I’m looking for my Nemeton, my sacred grove. Yesterday I found it. Here’s how that came about.
For many months I have been driving past a hill on my route to work. It has been catching my eye many many times. Sometimes I have not been able to ignore this impulse, and I have had to stop off on occasion to go for a walk, either away from the hill, or up past the hill where there is a defined path regularly used by walkers. No-one seems to go up the hill, however, because it if fenced off with barbed wire, and covered in bracken and undergrowth. I too have been content to wander all around it for several weeks. It “just so happens” that I have been spending more and more time in that area for “no apparent reason”.
Yesterday, on the way home from work I felt an urge to stop off. Occasionally, and particularly when the sun is out and the day is fine, I get these urges to stop off. Usually I go dowsing some question that is in my mind, or a topic that I am working on at the time. This evening I stopped the car at the usual place and wondered if I should take my dowsing rods. “Not tonight” came the response in my mind.
For some reason I walked up the side of the hill, along the path taken by walkers. I passed a field in which I knew there was a solitary stone that emanated bad energies, and I made sure I walked around its area of influence before I got up onto the side of the hill that provided lovely views over my local area. I stopped, admiring the view, then began to look for a way into the fenced off part of the hill. I soon found an animal track, and noticed that the wire was a bit looser where the animal track entered the hill’s sparsely forested side. Squeezing myself carefully under the barbed wire I began my ascent through swathes of bracken, climbing upwards all the time towards the summit. I found it was easier to follow the animal tracks – clearly they knew the best way!
I got to the top of the hill and found an old oak tree with a long low branch that was positively inviting me to sit on it. So I did. There was no view to speak of here, because the trees all around obscured it. So, I thanked the tree for offering a seat to me, and I pushed on, heading towards the heart of the hilltop. Only a few minute’s walk and I was in an area that was both wilder and yet lighter than the other parts of the hilltop. A vaulted canopy was created by some very old oak trees whose top branches formed the slightest roof. Beneath this canopy was a wide space, almost like a natural church aisle. I stopped to look at it, resting my back against an oak tree that formed the ‘font’ of this natural church. I marvelled at this formation, and began to wonder if this was a place where I could find some freedom and peace? The Sun was behind some clouds at this point, and there was no wind, so it seemed incredibly peaceful.
I stood up. I projected the thought out into the wood, “Am I welcome here?” – to which a crow in a nearby tree top cawed a response. “Would I be permitted to use this place as my sacred nemeton – my place of free expression?”, I asked to the trees and any nature spirits that might inhabit the area. A wind blew up out of nowhere and rustled the tops of the trees in response to me. I have become more accustomed to the signs that Nature gives now. I knew this was a positive response, but I wanted more assurance. I called out to the elements to confirm this, asking them to show me a sign if they agreed with the trees. A gust of wind blew stronger now, visibly shaking all the trees on the hilltop, then going completely silent again. At that moment, as I looked up imploringly to the sky, the sun moved out from behind a cloud. A shaft of sunlight streamed through the trees and threw a spotlight into my ‘church’ illuminating its length, and then the sun faded behind a cloud again. There was no delay between the asking and the receiving a response – it was within seconds, that was what was so astonishing.
I had my answer. This was my place to work with druidry and natural magick. Permission had been granted. I thanked the trees, and everything that had got involved in that decision, and I followed a more natural path down the other side of the hill. Going home I felt utterly contented now. I had a special place to work, one where I felt I could be truly free in Nature. Let the summer days be long and fruitful!