Category Archives: Musings/Thoughts

Lessons of the Five Streams

Friday 22/05/2020 New Moon ♉>♊

Friend Rowan, the only sense I didn’t use was taste…. not into tree licking, Y’see.

If it’s one thing I have learned during Lockdown, it’s that there is much that can be learned from our senses.

I originally wanted to write about the five senses and using Cormac Mac Airt’s journey to the Land of Promise as an example. But looking into this story a little further has revealed more meaning.

It’s easy in our Western Modern world to think of ourselves as separate from nature and that the world is entirely separate from us. It’s also easy to want to pursue any path of Paganism by wanting to connect with some unseen and powerful force.

I do believe that the world is a wonderful thing, and by connecting with it, there is much to learn.

By connecting with it, I don’t simply mean that we somehow mystically connect with the spirit of the Earth. Rather I’m talking about actually paying attention to what is in front of us and what is around us.

By being still and closing our eyes and breathing naturally, we will be assailed by all of our senses at once, the best thing to do here is to select one at a time and then work with the rest:

Feel the solid ground beneath us, the wind blowing around us, warmth, cold, any aches. These are the things we become aware of when focussed on touch.

Hear the wind about us, the wind in the trees, the creaking of any doors or fences, birds, distant vehicles and people, any machinery, the buzzing of insects, whatever else you can hear.

Smell the air you take in and what comes to mind? The smoke of someone burning wood or trimmings? The wet grass after the rain? The scent of your skin in the sun?

Taste is a little more tricky, but it’s one I tend to go with what comes first: I taste my mouth for any flavours: mouthwash, tea or coffee, what I ate, maybe nothing at all. I also look out for any flavours that I crave. Sometimes there’ll be a scent that’s quite strong and you can both smell and taste it. Both are linked after all.

Sight, isn’t just taking in what you see. In relaxing your eyes and focussing my vision on something before me allows my peripheral vision to take in: the flying of insects and birds, a weed growing amongst the flowers, the prowling cat in the shade…. the world happening when we aren’t just looking at what’s in front of us. Even with our eyes closed we can still see light and dark, colour and shade, bursts of light in the dark and the reflection of our own veins and optic nerves.

And if we pick up on something, we can try and find the source: which direction is the wind blowing from? Do I need a jacket when going out? Where is that bird flying to? Was that buzzing a fly or a bee? Where did that smell of burning come from? And what IS one of my cats prowling after!?

When the Irish High King, Cormac Mac Airt went in search of his wife and children, he found himself in the Land of Promise and saw three strange and wonderful sights. The second of these was a pool of water being fed by five streams. Around this pool were nine hazel trees, the nuts of which dropped and the salmon in the pool left behind the husks of the hazelnuts. At least, this is the version from Lady Gregory and I, in turn, learned another variation of that story (in the older editions there were three wells, each denoting the kind of generosity a person can be, the last being the most greedy). Regardless, Manannan Mac Lir explains to Cormac that the pool he saw was the well of wisdom.

By attuning to our senses, we find the world is richer than it first appears. When walking in Bulwell forest about a month ago, before the golfers returned, I could see dark clouds on the horizon, I could feel wet on the wind and about halfway I saw magpies and swallows taking shelter, even though the rain was in the distance. By the time I turned back, the rain had already started and the smell of petrichor was in the air. By the time I got back, I smiled in knowing why the birds had took to the trees and that I’d recognised it.

In being aware of our senses, we become mindful of our surroundings and less wrapped up in our own thoughts. When we’ve quietened down the internal monologue, then we free ourselves to be more observant and open to inspiration. And who knows- by becoming more aware of what’s going on around us, we may gain a glimpse of the magical.

Of Faith, Kindness and Beauty

Sunday 23/2/2020, New Moon

Another one inspired by being out doors! Seriously, being out in the world is the best way to connect with it and give you something to write about. When you’re someone whose as much as a book-thinker and over-thinker as I am, I’m now all for accepting the experience of things….. I believe that’s what’s called…. adventure! This originally took place on Tuesday 18th February 2020.

Inspired by this morning’s conversation with Devi about getting out of the house, I decided to go for a walk about town and the Arboretum.  Well, as far as I can physically go, I did take regular breaks as I’m still recovering from my hernia operation.


As soon as I got off the bus, I was approached by two Christians from the church up the road. Two friendly lads called George and Miles. They asked if I had anything they could pray for.  My response: “There’s nothing to pray for directly for me, but if you could pray for people to think rightly about climate change, that would be awesome“.  They seemed very pleased with that and invited me for tea at the church whenever I liked. I didn’t see the point in telling them I wasn’t Christian, I figured that if prayer could help inspire people in doing what they could with the crisis, then I might as well steer the Church-goers in that direction.

After a nice sojourn around the Arboretum, I found beauty in the young birch, and was impressed it was still standing after the storms, an older tree wasn’t so lucky and another young tree is now growing diagonally, almost horizontally. Young birch was very pleased for company and its spirit told me of the winds.

Young Birch speaking of the wind and the full moon.

The sign regarding kindness is from the cafe Fox Talbot’s, here in Nottingham. The cafe is a place that is both welcoming and has a relaxed and kind atmosphere, especially when I went to close the door (twice) and ended up opening it for two older ladies as they came in.  The timing was impeccable.

On the exterior of Fox Talbot’s

Sometimes, all you need is fresh air, beauty in the world and spreading kindness.

I’ll be aiming to publish my blogs on the New Moon now, as it feels right to do so.

Next New Moon: Tues 24th March.

Of Frost and Snowdrop

Sunday 9th February, Full Moon ♌

I will confess that I was struggling to think of a subject to write about. As usual, nature provided the answer!

Frosty sunshine in the back garden
Frosty sunshine in the back garden

As I looked out of the kitchen window to see frost upon the ground and the sun ascend the sky, I was happy. The cycles of nature and our seasons here in the UK are temperamental at best; we’ve had a warm winter so far here in the Midlands and very few frosty days. Every time I see the Christmas cards come out for December, I see the images of snow and ice and think: Was it ever like that, or is it what we expect? Winter here doesn’t normally bite until January/February. I recall having to stay at my previous boss’ house around this time in 2018, the snow was bad enough to cancel the buses from Derby back to Nottingham. I remember that because we don’t often get snow.

And so far, we’ve had a few frosts, but nothing permanent. I made my annual FB comment for Imbolc, using the snowdrops as a metaphor for seeing light in the dark, as well as heralding the ending of Winter, and just a way of getting people to appreciate the world around them. I also commented about how they had awoken early by at least a fortnight.

And there in lies the trap of expectation.

In modern Paganism and in Druidry, we have the festival of Imbolc on the First of February, as this is how it was worked out in accordance to our Gregorian Calendar for when La Fheile Bride (The Festival of Brighid) took place in Ireland. Similarly to Christmas, Imbolc has the conjured imagery of snowdrops growing around this date. It turns out snowdrops (aka Galanthus) flower anytime between January and March.

Frosted snowdrops anyone?
Frosted snowdrops anyone?

So, my innocuous FB post was in fact wrong. The snow drops grew exactly when they should, the fact we hardly had any snow this winter probably allowed them to have more light, and if their flowering time begins in January, then they are well within in season.

If we are serious about living with nature and being part of it (and no, I’m not saying we should give up having material possessions and eat only berries and wear tie-dye) then we ought to pay attention to the seasons around us more carefully in what grows, what dies, what migrates and what returns. If I am observant enough to know the idea of a “White Christmas” is now a myth, then I am observant enough to look out for the snowdrops being the signifier that the ending of winter approaches. And that these changes of the seasons do not conform to our dates.

Written Thursday 6th February, 4th Waxing Gibbous- ♋.

Additional- it was even frostier on Friday:

Of Lights and Shadows….

Photo from Nohat.cc
Photo from Nohat.cc

As Winter becomes stronger, as the air becomes cooler and the leaves of the leaves have left their branches empty and skeletal. I find my thoughts reflecting on the season.

On the themes of light and dark, naturally.

I actually find it interesting that our first assumptions upon both “light” and “Dark” in the modern Western world fall into “Good” and “Evil”. This is most likely an influence from Christianity, although there are parallels with Gallic Mat and Anm meaning “Good” and not good and were both used to describe the 62 months from the Calendar of Coligny (The only reliable record on how the Celts measured time we have) into which were good or not. If I understand correctly, each month consisted of 29/30 nights and was divided into a ‘bright’ half and a ‘dark half’. Nothing sinister, mind you, this was based on the halves of the moon. But I digress, and will update this post when my understanding of the Calendar of Coligny increases.

The practical versions of this point of view are obvious: The light half of the year is the warmer months, where more produce can grow, the animals follow their mating cycles (providing numbers for meat, tallow and leather) and the longer days allow for longer working hours…. although I can imagine that was met with mixed reactions. And the darker half allowed for harvesting, slaughter for Winter provisions and shorter working days, again met with mixed reactions. Either way, both extreme versions could prove disastrous: The Sun could bring drought, forest fires, famine. The freezing temperatures could bring hypothermia, diseases, death for those without stores for Winter as well as hardship.

Like nature, magic (are they not the same thing?) is neither good nor evil. Both can be beneficial and both can be destructive.

Both light and dark certainly have their benefits and drawbacks:

Light can reveal what was unseen or hidden. It can provide security and warmth. It can also provide good humour and positivity. But too much light can leave one feeling exposed, keep us awake when we should sleep. We can be blinded and even a refusal to accept harsh truths that must be met.

Likewise, the dark can provide cover for unseen deeds, it can provoke the “fight or flight” responses. It can be depressing to awaken to, go to work and come home in. It can feed our fears and open us up to despair. But it can also bring rest, comfort, coolness and stillness. It can provide cover for us when we feel vulnerable or wanting to retreat. And once you get past all the pre-made associations about the dark, it really isn’t that scary. There are animals, insects, birds and fish that live in it quite well.

I, myself prefer the times of dawn and dusk. Especially in the evening twilight when the sun has just gone down and the sky is a mixture of gold, bronze, baby blue fading into teal, indigo then black. When there is enough dark to see the first stars and enough light to give that excitement when I can feel magic in the air.

Light and dark are a cycle of continuity, how do you work with them? Do they affect you in different ways? Do you agree with the Modern Pagan view of Summer being a time of life and Winter a time of rest? Or do both seasons simply mean you crack on working regardless? The only difference being temperature, light and whether you’ll be dry or wet?

A Blessing for the Dead

Summer has indeed given way to Autumn. The nights are long and the trees are becoming bare, conkers have been falling to the ground for almost a month now.

As we approach Samhain and prepare for the remembrance of those whom have gone before us into the Great Mystery.

I felt it right to share this blessing I had created.

Having lost a dear friend earlier on this year, a friend’s partner losing their grandmother; Devi and I losing one of our three cats, I think it rather apt:

A Blessing for the Dead

Life’s Breath is but a whisper in the wind.

Life’s Light is but a spark in the embers.

Life’s Tears are but a drop in the ocean.

Life’s Flesh is but embraced by the Earth.

We are not tiny things in the world, but part of a greater whole.

Never to be forgotten.

Locksley2010 /|\

Sleep well, Bailey.

Religious Law and Personal Codes

I was inspired to write this post by two factors:

1, being this post on the concept of honour by Nimue Brown, it gives a great comparison on honour being an excuse to beat people up and honour being a sense of doing the right thing, despite all odds.

2, being a conversation with Devi regarding religion and her stance being that any form of organised religion is a method of control.

Both of these made me think of my concepts of honour and what religious laws (if any) that I followed.

What came to mind was my favourite quote from Diogenes Laertius when describing the observed law of the religion of the Celtic people:

…. to honour the gods, to do no evil, and to practise bravery….

Diogenes Laertius was writing about the Druids and the law they taught to the rest of Celtic society, he referred to Sotion and Polyhistor as is his sources, so this is really based on the accounts of other Greeks writing about the Celts. I don’t know if this was based on fancy or fact. Either way, when I first read this (must be about 13 years ago now!) It stirred something within me and I hold it within my heart, the first triad I had ever learned. If there was any actual religious edict to “follow” it is this. Even if the observance wasn’t strictly true, respecting ones ancestors, not giving in to moral weakness and having courage in all things can’t be a bad way to go.

I also follow, if that is the right word, the modern tenet of responsibility:

We, and we alone, are responsible for our lives and actions. Our will, our happiness and our destinies are our own.

Not a Druidical phrase per sè, but definitely a theme and mode of thought that came about in the 20th Century.

What moral codes do you work with and what inspired them?

How do I apply my Druidry?

Is the question that was brought up when filming ‘A Druid’s Pilgrimage’. The question isn’t about what methods I use in my Druidry, it’s about how I apply it to my everyday life.

New question: is Druidry something I am or is it something I do? Is more accurate in the basis of what I mean.

There are a few people for whom, their Druidry defines them. It’s what they do, it’s who they are and it’s what they make of themselves. And fair play to them. Not everyone can market themselves as a Full-Time Druid and make it their living.

For some, being a Druid is having a flashy title they can use as a status symbol, some people love the pomp and decoration when they say “Oh, I’m a Druid you know” knowing full well it makes them appear a little bit mysterious and of course, they become the talking point. And it isn’t just in Druidry you find this type….

For the majority, being a Druid is belonging to something. It’s being in touch with a path that resonates with you and allows you to see the world in a more respective way. It also shows you things about yourself you may not have been aware of; both good and ill. It was for me at least. Still is.

For me, I’m being a Druid when I’m there for someone who needs somebody to talk to. Or organising and running my Robin Hood Moot here in Nottingham. I’m being a Druid when I’m asked about something spiritual or being asked to perform a ceremony for a milestone event (I have one child blessing under my belt now). I’m being a Druid when I go to a place, pick up on the spirits there and pay my respects, or say a blessing of peace upon the rat one of my three cats killed and decided to bring back with them. I’m being a Druid when I’ve been asked to give a talk to a group of some kind. In short, I’m being a Druid when being of service to people and in my approach to the world.

When learning my Gwers, I am both being a Druid and doing my Druidry. In reading the course material, making notes, researching and practising out the Practicum, I am being, doing and learning all at the same time.

I am doing my Druidry when I pick up my books and start researching and making notes, or practising a solo ceremony, or meditating. I do my Druidry when lighting my candle and giving thanks or leaving offerings to the gods. I do it when telling a story to an audience.

There are two spheres in my life I don’t apply my Druidry, or it’s not the main focus, should I say. The first is on my acting. Being an actor, I have to become someone else, and they aren’t Druids. So, here at least it becomes secondary. Although I can feel the energy of the cast and crew and work with it accordingly. Strangely enough, there’s a lot of talk about energy when it comes to performing, not just in terms of stamina, but also in that it becomes something palpable and can either feed or drain the performer. Plus, a lot of performing work is ebbs and flow. My Druidic outlook stops me from feeding envy and arrogance, instead it encourages acceptance and knowing when to act and when to let go.

And there’s the survival job. Druidry and sales don’t really mix, although going through my day to day business, Druidry applies to my job more than I thought: being consciously mindful of materials I can recycle and re-use, reading a customer and either working with the energy they bring, or respecting their privacy when they have made it very clear they don’t want any assistance. And then there’s my thing about being truthful and honest. I remember reading in Peter Berresford-Ellis’ book ‘A Brief History of the Druids’…. (this was the book that introduced me to what Druids were and I put a lot of stock in his research, even if there are a few things that have been found to be false), and reading a part about Druids searching for the concept of Truth above all else. And this has informed how I look at things, and so if a customer tells me something that won’t work on their project, I have to tell them. Both in my service and in my core beliefs.

I take it back, Druidry does apply to my both my work and performing life, it wasn’t until I considered the questions raised in this post that I didnt realise how much.

So, if you ever feel the need to question how your beliefs and practices apply to your everyday life, or if, like me, you weren’t even sure until you start accounting for it, then look at what you are, what you do and when you are being.

Awen pendant by Tatterhood, photo by Locksley2010
Awen pendant by Tatterhood, photo by Locksley2010