October 11, 2012

BBC Radio - The Druids

I ran into an interesting podcast on BBC Radio 4: In Our Time, The Druids.
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Druids, the priests of ancient Europe. His guests include:
  • Barry Cunliffe - Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at the University of Oxford
  • Miranda Aldhouse-Green- Professor of Archaeology at Cardiff University
  • Justin Champion - Professor of the History of Early Modern Ideas at Royal Holloway, University of London
Of particular interest is the "For Further Reading" listing associated with the podcast. It includes several standards but also a number of books that I am not familiar with. Certainly some of them will be added to my wish list.
 Of course, I'd be interested in a review of any of the books, particularly those dated since 2009. If you would like to submit a review to either Henge Happenings or to Keltria Journal, please do so to submissions@keltria.org.

October 2, 2012

Tony's Recommended Reading

Every few years it is good to reconsider which books a person recommends. Certainly some books fall out of favor and other books become better sources for information.  Sometimes we go back to a book read long ago that really crystallized some concept. Finally, the ideas we think are important change somewhat as we, ourselves,  progress. 

My top three recommended books in each of the service areas are:

Druid’s Path:

* Pagans and the Law: Understand your Rights by Dana D. Eilers
* Neopagan Rites: A Guide to Creating Public Rituals that Work by Isaac Bonewits
The Henge of Keltria Book of Ritual by Pat Taylor & Tony Taylor

Bard's Path:

 * The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell 
The Making of a Druid: Hidden Teachings from The Colloquy of Two Sages by Christian J. Guyonvarc'h  [Review]
The Celtic Way of Seeing: Meditations on the Irish Spirit Wheel by Frank MacEowen [Review

Seer's Path:

* The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul Beyerl
Fire in the Head: Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit by Tom Cowan
Celtic Wisdom Sticks:  Ancient Ogam Symbols Offer Guidance for Today by Caitlin Matthews

Survey of Religions

Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America by Margot Adler
Being a Pagan: Druids, Wiccans, and Witches Today by E. Hopman and L. Bond

* indicates a book new to my list.

September 22, 2012

I endorsed the "Open Letter on Family Planning"

The Religious Institute is asking ordained clergy, professional religious educators, theologians, and staff of religious institutions. to endorse an open letter on Family Planning.  I agreed with everything they are stating so I've endorsed it too.  If you agree with their position on family planning and  are one of the above, I think your support will also be appreciated.
Religious Institute | Endorse the Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Family Planning
Endorse the Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Family Planning

We seek your endorsement of the Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Family Planning.

Tweet about the Open Letter

You can read the full text of the letter by clicking here.
Read the current list of endorsers by clicking here.

To endorse the Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Family Planning, please complete the form below.

Please note: We are seeking endorsements from ordained clergy, professional religious educators, theologians, and staff of religious institutions. If you do not fit one of these categories, but would like to express your support for sexual justice, please join the Faithful Voices Network.

Thank you! We are deeply appreciative of your support of sexual justice.

Druid ritual closes Paralympics in London 2012

Great video showing BDO style Druid ceremony.  I'll bet the closing with dozens of fire handlers was totally awesome to see in person, the video was excellent!  See it on YouTube.

Paralympics 2012 Druid Ritual - YouTube
Former army medic, Rory MacKenzie, speaks words from a Druid ritual composed by Philip Shallcrass (Greywolf) and Emma Restall Orr (Bobcat) for celebrating the seasonal festivals of Paganism in open, public, multi-faith rituals that were pioneered by the British Druid Order in the 1990s at the Avebury henge in the UK and elsewhere, from Stonehenge to Seattle. Broadcast live to 750 million people worldwide during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics. Blessings to all.

July 7, 2012

Remembering Robert Heinlein

Robert Heinlein was born July 7th 1907 and passed on May 8th, 1988.
He was one of the most important science fiction authors of his day.  He is known for his nearly 60 short stores, over 30 novels, and his Hugo Award winning novel, Stranger in a Strange Land,
I first began reading his books in the ‘50s. His book, Have Space Suit -  Will Travel was something of a take-off of my favorite TV show of the time, “Have Gun – Will Travel.” Heinlein’s book was among the first science fiction novels I read as a child.  It expanded my education, gave me an appreciation for science, and expanded my imagination. (Maybe I, too, could go to the moon.)  In the ’60s I read Methuselah's Children and Stranger in a Strange Land. Amazing books and among the very few I have on my “reread” list.  In the Early ‘70’s he wrote “Time Enough for Love” which is arguably my all-time favorite science fiction novel. I still quote sayings from the main character in that book, Lazarus Long.  Sayings such as, “Everything in excess… Moderation is for monks,” “One man's theology is another man's belly laugh,” and “You can have peace -- Or you can have freedom -- Don't ever count on having both at once,” still provide a philosophical view of the world that can be life changing.  Lazarus appears in several of Heinlein’s books and I have seen a small book of nothing but Lazarus Long sayings. An amazing character who has a wisdom provided by Heinlein.
In the ‘80’s I met Otter G’Zell (now known as Oberon Zell-Ravenhart) and learned about the Church of All Worlds (CAW) and their fascinating tradition.  The CAW founders took ideas from Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land (social libertarianism water-sharing rituals, and many other concepts) and developed a wonderful religious path.  Some of the most wonderful, caring, loving people I’ve ever known have been CAW waterkin.  I’m proud to have been able to share water with so many of them. In many ways they have provided a template about how loving a church can be. I think of them often and know they will "Never Thirst."

Today, on the 105th anniversary of his birth, I remember Robert Heinlein and give thanks to him as an Ancestor.

May 21, 2012

Remembering Gwydion Pendderwen

Gwydion Pendderwen (Thomas deLong) was born May 21st 1946 and passed on November 9th, 1982.

He was a musician, conservationist, and Pagan and is probably best known for his music, including the albums,
Songs for the Old Religion and The Faerie Shaman.  He was also one of the founders of “Forever Forests”, an tree planning organization in Northern California. He was also one of the early leaders of the Feri Tradition and is known as the start of the “Watchmaker Line” in that tradition.

His music was among the first specifically Pagan themed music I ever purchased. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s there wasn’t much Pagan music available; Gwydion’s material was one of the few one of the few.  Songs such as “The Lord of the Dance “ and “We Won’t Wait Any Longer “ were important to the Neopaganism movement in general and helped define the period. He and the other folks Northern California Pagans set the tone and direction of Paganism in the 1980’s. Gwydion had given a concert at the Pagan Spirit Gathering, in 1980, before I began attending the Gathering.  With his release of Faerie Shaman in 1982, I was hoping he would return to PSG (in 1983) to promote it and give me the opportunity to listen to him in person.  I recall my sadness when I learned of his death due to a car accident in the fall of ‘82.  Because of his work with Forever Forests, I still think of him at Arbor Day and other times when tree planting take place.

Today, on the 66th anniversary of his birth, I remember Gwydion Pendderwen and give thanks to him as an Ancestor.

April 21, 2012

Cornwall schools to teach

As an American, I tend to feel that the separation of church and state is extremely important and I am always concerned when public educators teach religion.  That said, I am very pleased to see that Cornwall schools will include alternative religions, including Paganism, Wicca, and Druidism, in their program. The Cornwall Council's estimate of a 0.1% pagan population appears to be an attempt to be dismissive of Pagan acceptability when the others put the 2001 census indicating close to 8%.  Contrary to the Council, Druidism, Paganism, and Witchcraft/Wicca are not faddish and are growing throughout the world.

Religious Education now includes Paganism, Witchcraft in UK schools
Religious Education now includes Paganism, Witchcraft in UK schools
A U.K. school system has included the study of witchcraft and druidry on its official religious education syllabus for the first time, meaning pagan practices will be taught alongside contemporary religions, such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

March 26, 2012

Remembering Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell was born March 26th, 1904 and passed on October 30th 1987.

He was a mythologist, writer, and speaker and is best known for his PBS series with Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth that aired posthumously. He was a professor at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. His many books have had a huge impact upon understanding the purpose of myth in various cultures, throughout time, and include important insight into the functions of myth. Campbell’s book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, influenced George Lucas’s Star Wars and provided Lucas with a foundation to create a consistent mythology.

He had a great influence upon me as a writer and as a video lecturer, his is beyond comparison to any other speaker in his videos, particularly with Bill Moyers. His advice to “follow your bliss” is important to my personality, but his concept to MYTH – Make Yourself The Hero, was mind changing. His MYTH concept was the imbus for the “cattle raids,” which we held at many gatherings in the mid-west in the early 1990s. In the “cattle raids” we would steal each other’s stuffed toy cattle using and then tell stories about the evening fire. The stories would grow in the telling, often to mythic proportions. The story telling, where your actions became the basis for the development of new myth, became the stuff legends come from.

Likewise, The Masks of God was an important influence upon my understanding of how deity is interpreted by different cultures at different times. The cultural context of the people is fundamental to understanding the development of their myths as well as understanding how spiritual relationships develop.

Today, on the 108th anniversary of his birth, I remember Joseph Campbell and give thanks to him as an Ancestor.

March 24, 2012

"Solitary Druid" = murder your family - NOT

I always worry when the State wants to use their ignorance about Druidism as the basis for motive.  The idea that someone calling themselves a "solitary Druid" means that they wanted to get rid of their family is ludicrous.
I hope the judge bars the mention of the defendant's beliefs as no good can come to anyone, either the defendant or the Druid community, if the prosecution want to use such information in such a way.

That said, I would think that the defense would want the person's Druid beliefs brought up.  That Druidism holds that all life is sacred is an important tenet. And that "solitary Druid" only means a person following a Druid path without benefit of a grove, congregation, or in-person clergy.

I sincerely hope that Vaughn didn't do it and is found not guilty, but if he did it, there is no amount of honor price that could be paid for such a despicable act.  (Illinois abolished the death penalty last year.)  
Christopher Vaughn's defense team seeks to bar mention of his Druid beliefs - chicagotribune.com
In one dated April 24, Vaughn asked, "does anyone know of anyone in the Yukon territories by chance?" and added that he wanted to move there "permanently," said Assistant State's Attorney John Connor. Vaughn spent time in Canada a month later, he said.

Prosecutors also want to include a posting Vaughn made in which he called himself a "solitary Druid." Connor said it was another indication Vaughn wanted to rid himself of his family.

March 10, 2012

Author seeks essays on polytheistic experiences

Saw an interesting request for essays for inclusion in a book being done by an author, William McGillis. I think maybe I'll write up an essay about my encounter with a mountain lion and submit it. That encounter was probably the most spiritual, sacred, experience in my life. 

William McGillis « Cambridge Centre for Western Esotericism
Seeking thoughtful, original, and previously unpublished non-fiction essays recounting first-hand encounters with Gods, ancestors, spirits, disembodied intelligences, and sacred presences in nature.

February 21, 2012

Biography of Isaac Bonewits is in the works

I came across this website where someone is writing a biography about Isaac Bonewits. Certainly, Isaac had an important influence upon the Henge and upon Keltrian Druidism.  I hope that Seligman's book focuses upon Isaac's impact upon the Druid community as he suggests it will.  I'll be interested in reading the book when it comes out.

The Argothald Journal - A Biography of Isaac Bonewits
My name is Bill Seligman. I am writing a biography on the life of Isaac Bonewits. I intend to tell the story of his life; how he influenced the Neopagan, Druid, and Wiccan communities; and to include a generous share of "Isaac stories." It will be a biography, not a hagiography; I don't think he'd want his image to be polished (nor tarnished!) from anything other than what it was.

Please share this web page (http://bit.ly/IBbio) and my e-mail addresses ([bonewits.research] of [gmail.com] or [william.seligman] of [gmail.com]; sorry for the obfuscation) with anyone you know who is strongly connected to Isaac's life.

New Discoveries at Stonehenge?

Archaeology Magazine is one of the magazines I subscribe to, so I am always pleased to see when they run bits about western Europe, particularly the Celts or megalithic monuments. They're reporting "new discoveries" but I'm not sure what is new in their report.
  • There is evidence that there may have been alignments between specific stones and posts at the solstices.
  • Some of the bluestones were quarried in Preseli Hills in West Wales.
It is techno-cool that they apparently figured out where one of the stones was quarried to within a 6 by 15 foot area, but I'm not sure that is is really "new."  Anyway, glad to see a bit about Stonehenge.

From the Trenches - New Discoveries at Stonehenge - Archaeology Magazine
Stonehenge and its surrounding area continue to offer new information about how the prehistoric site was used. A ground-penetrating radar survey led by Vincent Gaffney of the University of Birmingham has revealed evidence of two large pits that, when viewed from the Heel Stone, a small standing stone near the entrance to the site, align with sunrise and sunset on the summer solstice. The pits may have held wooden posts or standing stones, and the area between them and the Heel Stone may have been used for summer solstice rituals.

Some of the stones from the site were the subject of a different study, by geologists Rob Ixer of the University of Leicester and Richard Bevins of National Museum Wales, to determine where they came from. The researchers used a technique called "petrography," a common tool for geologists for more than 100 years. It involves looking at extremely thin slices of rock under a microscope and describing the way the minerals that compose it blend with one another to form a unique texture—as distinctive as a fingerprint. By comparing rock fragments from some of the site's "bluestones" (a generic term used to describe stones outside the site's iconic center) to samples from a rhyolite outcropping at Preseli Hills in West Wales (above), Ixer and Bevins were able to narrow down the area where at least one stone had been quarried to a six-by-15-foot space. The information could lead archaeologists directly to the places where Neolithic people cut the rock that was made into Stonehenge up to 5,000 years ago. The geologists have examined about 700 pieces of rock from Stonehenge but have only completed analysis on a few pieces of rhyolite. "I've been at this for 20 years," says Ixer, "but it is really just the beginning."

February 16, 2012

Remembering Pamela Colman-Smith

Pamela Colman-Smith was born on February 16th, 1878 and passed on September 19th, 1951.

She was an artist, illustrator, writer, and editor. She edited the short-lived magazine The Green Sheaf that included material from Yeats. Yeats introduced her to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. There she met A.E. Waite. Her collaboration with Waite inspired her most famous and enduring work -- the Waite-Smith Tarot. That work, republished and recolored became know as the Rider-Waite Tarot, is the standard for most tarot readers’ collections.

I, like many interested in the occult and alternate spirituality, studied and practiced the Tarot. Of course, I began with the Rider-Waite Tarot. I’ll admit, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the artist/illustrator of the work in my early learning. It was several years later, and familiarity with many more Tarot Decks, that I grew to really appreciate the work that Pamela Colman-Smith did. Her work had endured like few others and is the standard by which all other A.E. Waite based tarot cards are judged against. Although I’ve grown to use another deck when I do tarot readings, I still can use the Pamela Coleman-Smith drawn decks.

Today, on the 134th anniversary of her birth, I remember Pamela Colman-Smith and give thanks to her as an Ancestor.

January 31, 2012

Giant Jesus at Primrose Hill?

I have always, in the back of my mind, had a notion that when I finally visit England,
I’d reach out to the various Druid groups in England and hopefully be able to attend some of the rituals around the country.  I had always figured that a visit to Primrose Hill would occur, even if by myself as it has traditionally been the site for so many Druid rituals and is so well known for it. 

However, doing so under
the gaze of a giant fiberglass Jesus would be very disconcerting.  It really is up to the local Druids to take up a call to action about this project.  But, I will say if they don't stop it and a giant fiberglass Jesus (It may as well be a giant plastic Jesus.) is erected, I probably won't be interested in visiting the site.  It certainly won't be on my registry of "Important Druid Sites" to visit.

I'll be interested in following this issue and see of the London Area Druids take take any action regarding the project.

Druid News « Druid Life
Plans to erect a giant fibreglass replica of the Rio De Janeiro ‘Redeemer Statue’ on top of London’s posh Primrose Hill have been revealed. The project will be funded by the Brazilian government to mark the end of the London 2012 Olympics and the hand over of the torch to the Rio Olympic committee for the 2016 Games. The installation, is based on the famous statue which overlooks Rio harbour from Corcovado mountain.

For the rest of that article, go to http://www.artlyst.com/articles/residents-up-in-arms-over-primrose-hill-jesus

As yet, no one has mentioned Druids. However, Primrose Hill in London has been an important meeting place for UK Druid groups for pretty much as long as there have been modern Druids. Those early groups would have been more fraternal and probably self-identifying as Christian, so it’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, their contemporary descendents have to say about it....

January 23, 2012

Remembering Marija Gimbutas

Marija Gimbutas was born on January 23, 1921 and passed on February 2, 1994. She was an was an archeologist who incorporated linguistics and mythology. In her work she developed the Kurgan hypothesis which stated that a peaceful gynocentric (matriarchal) society was, in the Bronze Age, replaced by an androcratic (patriarchal) society. In her view the the gynocentric societies were peaceful, respected homosexuals, and were egalitarian.

Gimbutas' books, particularly The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe: Myths and Cult Images (1974); The Language of the Goddess (1989), and The Civilization of the Goddess: The World of Old Europe (1991), were really important in defining much of what is today modern Goddess belief and built upon speculation that Neolithic Goddess cultures had superior social structures. She also defined a "Great Goddess" of which many other focused goddesses, such as river goddesses, snake goddesses, etc., were manifestations of.

In the 70's, I became read (The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe) and found it extremely interesting - eye opening even. She helped me understand the ramifications of Goddess worship from a social viewpoint. My understanding of how the various gods and goddesses can be viewed as manifestations of a single god and goddess was clarified by her writings. Although I continue to be a true polytheist, I understand the pantheistic view of deity because of Gimbutas.

Of course, several of her books are in my library. Her vision of "The Goddess" has given me an understanding of goddess worship and the implications of the social impact of such worship.

Today, on the 91st anniversary of her birth, I remember Marija Gimbutas and give thanks to her as an Ancestor.

January 4, 2012

Remembering Doreen Valiente

Doreen Edith Dominy Valiente was born on 4 January 1922 and passed 1 September 1999. She was interested in magic from an early age and studied occult. When she was 30, she met Gerald Gardner and was initiated into his coven the following year. She went on to become his High Priestess, split from him, and became the High Priestess of several other covens -- some that she formed. She went on to write several important books including An ABC of Witchcraft, Natural Magic, and much later, The Rebirth of Witchcraft.

During the mid 1970’s I was investigating various religious paths. Doreen’s book, An ABC of Witchcraft was one of the first books I read regarding Witchcraft. Her approach made more sense to me than Steward Farrar’s What Witches Do. I thought her approach was more in tune with Nature than some of the other materials I read at the time. (She may have been influenced by Robert Cochrane.)

She had a very positive approach to relationships with coven members and with the outside world in general. It was a refreshing approach to Witchcraft and was the closest thing I had found to my beliefs and expectations before I found modern Druidism.

Of course, we still have her books in my library. (Many of them are now out of print.) Her vision of Witchcraft gave me a much broader vocabulary of modern Witchcraft (Wicca) and an understanding of what it should be about. She provided a clear perspective of the Craft as a positive, life affirming, religion that was important for me to understand at a time when "Witchcraft" conjured visions of Satanic Rituals.

Today, on the 89th anniversary of her birth, I remember Doreen Valiente and give thanks to her as an Ancestor.

January 3, 2012

Remembering J. R. R. Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on 3 January 1892 and passed 2 September 1973. A university professor at Oxford, he is particularly noted for his fantasy works, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Ringstrilogy.

The Hobbit
was probably the first full-length novel I ever read. Certainly, I read it as a preteen and it is the first "real" book I can recall reading. I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy sometime in my teens and, of course, have seen all of the movies - several times. His detail of the Middle Earth helped give me a desire to understand the historical places that gave inspiration to his world.

Although not a direct influence upon my spiritual life, Tolkien's books helped to pave the way to my accepting alternative worlds and alternative world views.

I know that I still have copies of his books in my library that have made the move across the country and back again as his books have always been important to me. Although far down on my "I'd like to read again" list, his writings will always hold an important place in my heart.

Today, on the 120th anniversary of his birth, I remember J. R. R. Tolkien and give thanks to him as an Ancestor.