‘A Druid’s Pilgrimage’ – a Druid-Actor’s perspective.

Nine Stone's Close, Photo by Author
Nine Stone’s Close, Photo by Author

What is it?

‘A Druid’s Pilgrimage’ is a documentary about modern day Druids and what they do. The documentary follows the narrative screenplay of a young girl, Gemma, who stays with her aunt and uncle, only to catch her uncle in his robes and performing a prayer to a tree. Her uncle introduces her to the concept of Druidry and takes her into the Derbyshire countryside on a pilgrimage. Asking questions along the way, Gemma learns about the spiritual path, the outdoors and herself. Throughout the film, footage of interviews with real-life, Druids will be shown to answer either one of her questions, or to back up a point the characters discuss.

How and why did I get involved?

In that weird and wonderful way of being contacted by a friend, who has a friend who knows a friend making a film. Seeming that I was one of the few Druids my friend knew who might be up for getting involved, he contacted me, then I was put in contact with the film director Roly Keates.

Roly had made more than a few documentaries previously, all based in Derbyshire: ‘The Wheel’ – a documentary about a spring in Belper. ‘If Walls Could Talk’ – the Romanticism of Drystone Walling. ‘Shred of Rome’ – A documentary on Romans in Derbyshire. ‘Lost History of Belper’ – a historical look at Belper, Derbyshire.

After talking with and meeting Roly, I felt relaxed in that he was sincere and genuine in his interest regarding Druidy. He came across it and felt it important enough to make a doumentary on the subject. I was initially an advisor, telling him my interpretation of Druidry as well as what little we know of them historically. In talking and chatting, and yes I had mentioned I am an actor, he asked if I’d be interested in playing the part. Well, I wasn’t going to say no to that kind of opportunity!

So, why did I do it? Because there is so little media representation that makes Druids and Pagans look good. Let’s be honest, we’re often portrayed as either being middle-aged hippies to be laughed at best, or robed lunatics seeking attention at worst. After talking with Roly about his project and seeing for myself he was taking Druidry seriously and wanted to portray this in a good way, I figured this would be a good thing for modern day Druidry and Paganism too.

What did I learn from it?

I learned to see Druidry through the eyes of another, how they perceive what I practice in a different light. The character I played (Dylan, very apt as that’s also my stage name) saw Druidry as a force for good in the world and seeking harmony in our existence. This made me realise how ‘bookish’ my Druidry tends to be and made me question how much and how little I actually practise it in my everyday life. I also learned that I can never learn my lines enough. One scene includes a huge monologue which, when filming, I just couldn’t stop getting wrong! I was very frustrated with myself but I learned something valuable: it’s not enough to know your lines, you have to know them backwards and upside down too. Kinda goes without saying, really, but hey-ho.

I learned how essential it was to use play to make my co-star feel at ease. By this I mean the girl who played Gemma, whom at 11, was playing in her first proper film. I felt it important for her to be relaxed, so we got to know each other through chatting, making faces at each other and playing games in between takes. Apart from going through our lines too! By the end, we’d developed a good camaraderie and when Roly told us to talk amongst ourselves in the Pilgrimage shots. It might look like we’re in deep conversation, but we were really talking about favourite colours, what our pets are like, pop songs and even a one-word-story game. She was cool, we made each other laugh.

Not really something I learned, but feel I have to say was how beautiful the Derbyshire countryside is. Whether it was standing before the oldest pear tree in the county (In Roly’s Aunt’s huge back garden, no less!), walking up to the stone circle at Arbor Low in both sunny and cloudy weather, walking amongst the buildings of Magpie Mine, sitting on rocks in a stream at Shining Cliff Woods, or standing on tall rock and visiting the “Druid’s Chair” at Harborough Rocks.

Would I do it again/get involved in another project like it?

If we had to reshoot something, absolutely! Would I do another project like it? No. Once I finish a project, I consider it done, so why would I do another of a similar ilk? I enjoyed performing in this one and I’m looking forward to it’s completion. If there was another documentary being made on the subject, I’d have to question the maker before joining in.

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An Inspired Triad

“A Druid seeks to balance the qualities of: Spirituality, wisdom and Nature.”

– Roly Keates, Director and Writer of ‘A Druid’s Pilgrimage’ coming soon in 2019!

A Druid’s Pilgrimage

1st Waning Gib ♏

Well, hello there! It’s been a whilst since my last blog post. Sorry about that. Life stuff. Will explain later, I promise.

For now, I Just wanted to share this link showing a clip from last week’s filming.

I’ve been involved in a documentary about Druids called ‘A Druid’s Pilgrimage’ Directed by Roland ‘Roly’ Keates. In fact the snippet shows me (under my actor name “Dylan Knight”) playing in the drama narrative that threads the interviews with real life Druids together. I’m currently on day #3 of filming and can’t wait to see it when the whole thing is done.

Anyway, here’s the link, sorry it’s on FB at the present, but more blogs will follow in regards to making it as well as the premier.

All the best,

Locksley. 😉

Imbolc 2019- Brigid’s Message.

Originally written on Sunday 3rd February 2019. 7th Waning Crescent, Cap.

The celebration of the returning lighter nights and the coming of Spring is here.

The snowdrops are in bloom amongst the frost; in recent years Winter always seems to bite the hardest in January-February. I must say that this winter has concerned me: It was mild for a long time. That doesn’t feel right…. especially after the abnormally hot Summer we had last year. But of course, the frost and snow did indeed come, and we will have to see if Winter’s cold kiss disappears quickly, or if it stays as long as it did in 2018.

Darkness and tragedy have affected many whom I know this winter. And I thought upon what kind of theme I could have for my Moot’s open ceremony. And then it struck me: enlighten the darkness.

Brigid’s Message

Since my beginnings in Paganism, I had always held a respect for Brigid, she appeared again in my more experienced Pagan years and again at the end of my Bardic Journey a few years ago when she told me:

When faced with the dark, look for the light. If there is none, then make your own“.

It has only been in the past year I truly understand what that means. Or should I say what it means to me. Your interpretation may be different from mine and rightly so.

For me, it means that we make our own light, we make our own way, our own destiny. I spent a lot of my life looking for signs and to be shown the right way that my life was supposed to go in order to fulfil its purpose. I gave my life over to fate. At almost 40, that’s a large portion of my life just….. waiting. And I’m done with that.

As I have written before, in what I call the‘Way of Fire and the Way of Water’, there is a time to wait and it is after you have taken the steps of action in order to make things happen. The gods will show you the directions, but they cannot tell you what to do or how to get there. That is for us to decide and the choices are for us to make. Whether we rise or fall is our responsibility and ours alone. If the gods are indeed ancestors as opposed to creators, then it is because they were seen as the best at what they were in their lifetimes.

The Inner Flame

Here we are, in the last part of the dark half of the year. Soon will come the longer days and the awakening of the plant realm (it already has), Imbolc is a time of creativity and of new beginnings. And so we can look to the light that inspires us; and if you can’t see it, make one. Because the gods aren’t going to do things for you. Allow yourself to follow that calling for something you want to do and want to achieve. It might be a new skill or a new project, whatever it is, let it allow you to shine with the light that you find/make. Allow it to shine out from within, whether it is something you can see or something you have to bring into being yourself.

You might be surprised at what it reveals.

Positive Masculinity

If you click the link below, you’ll find the new advert (that’s, commercial, for my readers in the USA and Canada) from Gillette. Supposedly, it’s controversial.

According to some negative feedback, it’s “emasculating men” and “insulting” to men’s rights and labels all men as being terrible people…. hmm. Really?

Watching it, I see images from the past adverts as well as attitudes that are now outdated. The advert recognises what men were thought to be, in fact Gillette even uses some of its old marketing, which for the time, was geared in that direction. And that’s just it, we’re talking about the depiction of what “masculinity” and “being a man” was seen to be in another time.

What the advert does is challenge those preconceptions and asks us men-folk “Is this the best we can be?” In the present, we have children committing suicide because of bullying, we have women angry at being treated as second-class citizens as well as other women scared of being abused (by no means am I saying women are weak, I’m trying to say they’ve had enough and are fighting back at those who deserve to be fought), and of course, dickhead behaviour seems to be on the increase by just about everyone.

For anyone who has followed me for a while, you will know I have written about masculinity before, I have even given an on going talk on the Masculine Principle in Paganism, I say on going because it’s a talk that constantly evolves, but my conclusion, so far, is the same….. read them and find out. 😉 nb: those articles are old now and I need to retouch them from the last time I did the talk in 2018.

Personally, I found the Gillette advert inspiring and uplifting. As a gentleman myself, I have always believed that everyone should do better. I loved the message behind it: by being better, we can inspire others, in inspiring others, we can inspire the next generation, in inspiring the next generation, we can make the world a better place. At no point did I feel the advert was saying all men were the supposed cruel, evil beings that some men are claiming the advert says….. if anything, their reaction says more about them.

The advert isn’t asking men to be anything less, it’s not about being “Woke” it’s about doing the decent thing. It’s about challenging our behaviour and attitudes and being something better. It’s not telling us to be soft or weak it’s asking us to be better. It takes strength to separate a fight, it takes courage to call somebody out and it takes bravery to stand up for someone…. this is “masculinity” at its best.

It’s not even about leaving our problems for the next generation to solve; it’s telling us to make a stand. Now. Right now. Our actions define us and people take note of them.

People are loud when it comes to shouting about “Toxic Masculinity” it’s the buzz-word of this portion of the 21st Century. Yet there’s hardly any encouragement or even any push for “Positive Masculinity”. And this advert is just that. It’s not saying “All men are asses” It’s saying there is Positive Masculinity and it should be encouraged.

As far as I’m concerned, Positive Masculinity is being the better man, it’s calling out when someone else is being a dick (about race, sex, gender, religion) it’s standing up for someone who can’t stand up for themselves, it’s doing the right thing. It’s taking responsibility for ourselves, our children and the world around us. It’s also not falling into the trap of reacting emotionally to any criticism of our gender and adopting a victim mentality.

On my FB post for New Year’s I wrote a message about everyone being more kind in the world and I seriously meant this. Even if it means doing at least one kind act everyday, those acts of kindness can be infectious. The amazing thing is that there seems to be a call going on for this and it’s world wide. This gives me hope for Humanity as a whole. And the Gillette advert, whether you like it or not, is now part of that.

It’s not just men who need to do better, it’s everyone. We all need to be better in ourselves and be better with each other. And to paraphrase one commentator on Twitter:

If you feel ’emasculated’ because of an advert on TV, then you’re doing masculinity wrong.

Nb: as much as I salute Gillette for their advert, I’m not a customer….. I’ve been a Harry’s Razors man since Sept 2018, when I trialled their razor and found it a better cut than my Mach 3…. soz.

“Fire and Blood”

So, 2019, we meet at last. A new year, a new card drawn for myself at the very beginning of the New Year. And fortunately, the title of this blog isn’t really what the year has in store….. I just used the Targaryen family motto because I thought it was cool! And, y’know, Fire Dragon and all…… I’ll get my coat!

2018 had the card of Owl-reversed (Cailleach Oidhche) the card of Detachment, Change and Wisdom. Although, being reversed, it warns of not seeking detachment as escape, the potential death of something and beginning of another…. And that even though night is here, to look for the approaching dawn.

Detachment: Watching out for not escaping or withdrawing into myself, I made sure I kept in contact with friends, visiting family when possible. I was even approached by the Pagan Community for doing talks for them and rediscovered not only could I do this, but that I also had a respect and welcome within the community I hadn’t realised I had…. I figured my pursuit of acting had estranged me from them. I’m glad to say it hasn’t and that I have a good friend base within the community and have even been asked to perform a handfasting for at least one couple this year! In Nottingham’s acting scene, I got to work with some lovely people and good friends. I proved to myself that I am good enough to come joint second in a monologue competition and that people want to work with me. So no, no shrinking away for me.

Death of one thing….. actually there was quite a few. Artemis and I are no longer housemates, as she went to Lincoln. We atill meet up to play D&D and bug each other on whatsapp now and then. The Grove of the Corieltauvi lost our fellow Druid, Luch Dorcha this year. We lost our friend, but his memory remains and we shall honour him. However, the Grove of the Corieltauvi no longer exists. At least not as it once did….. I have also pushed for the death of my marriage. I applied for divorce at the end of November, my spouse had received, signed and sent off the paperwork. All I’m waiting on now is the Court to get back to work and do their thing. And Artemis lost her father as well, a kind and humorous man. So yes, 2018 was a year of things and people dying…. “Light is born, light dies, in dying there is rebirth, in birth there is dying, so it is, so it always is”……

The Approaching Dawn….. Devi and I celebrated our first year together, we stayed in a Hobbit House at the beginning of the year in North Yorkshire. We don’t get to see each other every day, so we spend as much time together as possible and most importantly, we make each other happy and are looking forward to more years and adventures to come. In my working world, at the end of 2018, I was informed that I’ll be moving to a brand new store in Nottingham, rather than bussing it to Derby and back everyday. This means I get at least one hour back into my day instead of using two to get there and back again. I came into my own at work this year. I know who I am, what my strengths and weaknesses are and I am proud of my current team. I m looking forward to my new adventure with Mr S, who will be my new boss. And I’ll be looking forward to that extra hour for myself too. It will make all the difference….. not to mention more sleep!

2019 – Fire Dragon

Transmutation, Energy, Mastery are the keywords to the Fire Dragon (Draig Teine) card. This card speaks of connecting with the inner flame (something I’m very big on), finding the courage and drive to face life’s challenges as well as focussing one’s energies to overcome obstacles and gain objectives. This is a card less to do with gaining power or going into anything with all guns blazing; and more to do with the lesson I learned: the element is actually about combining will with responsibility. For how can you work with fire if you have no sense of control?

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