Archive for the druid Category

Earth Spirits, fact or fiction?

Posted in druid, paganism, shamanism, spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2012 by cerrilee

For some reason I have been thinking lately of a video I saw a few years ago on You tube called the ‘Wild Horses of Newbury’ and as often happens with these things, a magical synchronicity happened and someone posted it up on Facebook yesterday. For those of you who have not seen this piece of footage it is a recording of  something that happened at the Newbury bypass protests some years ago as some wonderful old Oaks were being felled to make way for yet another road.

As the Oaks were being cut and felled by the chainsaws in front of  the protesters, an army of  police on horses and yellow jacketed “security”,  in dark sunglasses many of them, hired for the “safety” of all, a pair of dark horses came running out of the fields apparently from no where. They ran to the trees being felled, in and through all of the crowds of yellow jackets they ran. The horses were obviously distressed, running backwards and forwards around the scene to the surprise and bewilderment of the officials. Then one of the horses went up to the row of police horses and seemed to speak to one in particular, it pressed it’s face onto the police horse and they seemed to be speaking to each other, the policeman sat stunned on the back of his horse and no one was sure what to do. After a while the horses left going back to where ever they had come, leaving the protesters sure that the spirits of the trees and the land had spoken to all present that day. Even as I write this now I find it hard to fight back the emotion from watching this clip of film again. I was not at the road protest but I know  the sense of loss stays with many after all this time. I strongly recommend everyone to watch it, especially any of those who find it hard to see beyond the atheistic fog that hangs over paganism these days.

For me the above encounter serves to confirm the ideas I have always believed, that all things are connected and that all life has the ability to communicate across species, gender and culture, if we only have the ears to listen and the eyes to see. It was just like the bit in the movie Avatar when the whole of life gathers together in one final showdown with the humans to fight back their destruction, I wonder if the director had seen the Newbury horses on YouTube?

The Horse has been a symbol of Sovereignty for thousands of years. Kings regularly symbolically married a horse as part of his coronation ceremony. The great White Horse carved into the chalk hill at Uffington in Wiltshire attests to their influence on our forebears and even today many cultures have them as a powerful part of their shamanic traditions. Then there is the Oak, a symbol of strength and majesty, it has been revered as the Druids tree for so many years. The great oaks of our lands have been a bridge between the upper, middle and lower worlds for millennia, a place to gather for communities for problems to be solved, celebrations to enjoy and names to be carved to declare undying love and, Oh irony of ironies, they have been a symbol of protection in the form of house frames, doors and ships. So is it any wonder, as the horses ran through the dreadful scene of destruction, that all watching felt that the spirits of nature were trying to tell us all to look at what we do, that something truly otherworldly was going on in those moments.

Watching programs like the three part BBC series ‘How to Grow a Planet’ also helps – again science proving everything I have always felt, you will never look at plants the same way after that program! Plants communicate with each other sending danger signals to warn of predators, their breathing process is responsible for the air we breath, everything has sentience even the blades of grass under your feet.

Many years ago these ideas became something of a mini crisis, I became very freaked out even cutting up carrots after watching a ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ (Roald Dahl  stories on TV), where a man invents a machine that could hear plants. He set it up next to an Oak and then hit the tree with an axe, the machine picked up the scream, he was also by a field of wheat being cut…..well I tell you I was a total vegetarian at the time and began to have real problems eating anything at all, it is all alive and breathing! Obviously I have calmed down a bit since and now needless to say try to honour everything I eat. I think that what this may be teaching me is that I have, at times, watched too much TV!

But seriously, if a person should ever need reminding or indeed the understanding that everything that lives, no matter what form it may take, is full of soulful, sentient energy, watching the Horses of Newbury will do it every time.

blessed be

The Quest for Druidry via Arthur, Ceridwen and other ancients myths.

Posted in Arthur, Ceridwen, cerri lee, druid, druidism, druidry, pagan, spirituality, wicca, witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2012 by cerrilee

I am a self confessed modern day druid, many people over the years try to tell me and others like me,  that I can not be a druid as I do not know what they did, there is no book of rules to follow so how do I know that I am doing is authentic enough to be called druidry?…etc.etc..

Well you know its true I don’t know for sure what they did, we have the writings of the Romans and Greeks which are interesting in their way and there is the wealth of archeology that continues to give us clues and food for the imagination.  I greedily gobble all this information up as it all helps to inform me of this islands bygone ages, giving me a connection to the land and my forebears. It is pretty safe to assume that the stone circles, ritual sites, earth works etc. around the islands that make up Great Britain and Ireland have had great significance over thousands of years to our ancient forbears and for many in the modern era they continue to hold a deep and abiding energy to draw on.

But what we really have are our stories, poems, our ancient myths and legends – and there are more than you would think that have survived, tucked away within apparently Christian texts. But ladies and gentlemen, when you know that starting a piece of writing with a dedication to Christ/God and finishing it with the same meant whatever was contained therein, could not be changed, then you can read apparently contradictory poems such as the Spoils of Annwn in a very different light. It is true that often you feel the need to be a language scholar in Old English, Middle Welsh or other ancient tongues to glean the information as it is hard to rely on translations and anyway how can we truly know the subtleties and nuances without the living language to draw upon?

But in spite of all that, the thing I find most extraordinary is that our fabulous, magical and moving tales of Arthur, Ceridwen, Merlin and many, many others are not taught in our schools, apart from the odd rendition of Grendel, which I have seen interpreted by youngsters who absolutely loved turning it into a wonderful play, these are our direct line back to all our peoples’ ancient soul. I know that there is the endless argument about where these tales belong, who claims ownership of them, where Arthur and Merlin actually lived etc, but that is all irrelevant in the end as it is the stories themselves that continue to speak to all who have an ear to listen and they don’t seem to care what part of the Isle of the Mighty you where born on!

Any way this was not supposed to be a rant on ownership of the tales, more I was thinking about my own journey with the myths over these many years and how I have become more comfortable to call myself a Druid in this day and age with their help. This year my intention is to explore on a deeper esoteric level specifically the Arthurian related stories, some of which I am very familiar with, some not so. Although reading the various interpretations of the stories and drawing conclusions on an intellectual level is obviously a large part of the work, it is not the main thrust of this exploration.

For me the joy of working with the stories is to find the eternal messages held within, to go beyond the words and dive deep into what they have to say on a spiritual level. Stories that have persisted for so long have gifts for every generation to feel and hear, profound truths that can open the doorways of perception,  revealing the secrets and mysteries held within, despite the passage of time and changing languages. This is how the ancients of all cultures have worked over the millennia, you honour the ancestors tales by the retelling, the reliving and enlivening, making them relevant to the audience, whilst retaining the spirit and content at the core.

So as a modern day Druid, how do you approach a journey of this kind? Well, at the risk of people reading this and thinking me a very odd sort, I will try to give you some idea of how I approach it. I decided to begin with connecting to the spirits and guides that thread through the myths, within ritual space, calling for a character from the stories to guide me for the duration of this journey. This first step took the form of a meditation held within a ritual space, which I can honestly say it was one of the most magical and profoundly moving journeys that I have experienced. I allowed the energy to guide my metaphorical feet and before I was even ready for it, I felt the energies building within the circle, the stories were impatient and their energy was palpable. I will not go into too much detail here, but it is enough to say I found myself standing before the Cauldron of Annwn, dark and pearl rimmed, kindled by the breath of the Nine maidens. Issuing from the cauldron was steam that curled and flowed around me and with full intent in my heart and mind I called for the myths to send a guide whilst I began to chant the Awen. As the first Awen began the energy rose and grew until it stopped being a sound and became an overwhelming feeling, a great sound beyond my own small voice, vibrating me to the very core of my being. The mists swirled and moved becoming images that built then faded, finally forming an indisputable presence, The Lady of the Lake.

There are times when no words will suffice and this is one of them, there was a sense of privilege to have Her in my circle, for me She is very real and what our journey holds I am not sure, but I have no doubt that I will be changed and moved in ways I cannot yet fathom. I believe that the Druids of the past would recognise my experience. I also know that whether you believe in my experience or put it all down to a vivid imagination, I am going to have an adventure that few would set out on. I will plumb the depths of these stories in a way that will be very personal but also hopefully, will shed light on some of the greater mysteries known by Druids from the past who listened to theses same tales.

 

Going back to source

Posted in art, cerri lee, clothing, damh the bard, druid, druidism, druidry, pagan, pagan music, paganism, sculpture, shamanism, spirituality, Uncategorized, wicca, witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2011 by cerrilee

Recently I have been pondering the magic of Art and it’s ancient mystical roots.

I have recently finished a piece of work called “Cernunnos” that for me speaks of the origins of the pagan Horned God and then, a couple of weeks ago, I watched a curious film called “The Cave of Dreams”  made in a recently discovered cave in France where cave paintings have been found, these paintings are believed to be the oldest found so far at around 35,000 years old.

I have been driven for a long time by the need to understand what Art is at it’s source and I have long wondered if it still can have the same mysticism and power in a culture that is swamped by banal and fatuous images.

Almost every culture has in some way or another over the millennia created animal-headed men that have come to represent Gods, they are very familiar to all whether you be Pagan, Christian or any other religion, and they seem to me to be both a natural and magical way to interact with those forces of nature. They are powerful images that conjure a primal response within us and for me that is the whole point of art, to illicit an emotional response. Even within modern Paganism today many find ourselves drawn to this primal image and connection.

In some of the earliest images it is hard to see whether it is a man wearing an animal mask or an animal behaving like a man, the boundary is blurred and I feel that was the point. In order to catch your pray you must first understand it, maybe even become it. So are the beautiful cave paintings art or magic or both?  Were the shamans of the tribes, as walkers between this world and the world of spirit, the ones who painted these images, or was every hunter a shaman/artist? Did each hunter believe that to capture the animal in the flesh he must first capture it’s spirit?  In the dark recesses of the ancient caves by flickering fire light and with the most basic of ingredients gleaned from the earth, did they sing, dance and drum to the spirits of the animals before the hunt? Did they bind the animals and hold their spirits to give any advantage to the hunters against the enormity of mammoth, lion or rhino. Maybe the shaman stayed in the cave until the hunt was done, holding that energy for the tribe doing battle with magical spear and arrow?

Then there are the many small sculptures of naked women with large breasts often called the “Venus” of where ever they were found, older still than the cave paintings in many cases, but one was found as a painting in the French cave with animals woven into the design to look like parts of her body. Did they call to a spirit of creation to aid them in the hunt also?

All of these dreams and notions keep me searching for ways to express the ineffable through art, inspired by the magic of the ancestors.

Beltaine journeys

Posted in art, cerri lee, druid, druidism, druidry, pagan, paganism, spirituality, wicca, witchcraft on May 12, 2008 by cerrilee

Beltaine, a time when nature seems to be at its most fecund and vibrant. There is a palpable change in the energy of the land and all life seems to step up a gear. The birdsong becomes louder and brighter, the lambs are bouncing for all they are worth in the fields already, flowers come thick and fast to the hedgerows and gardens and we feel more alive and vital as the Sun climbs higher into the sky and is with us longer each day. And we look to the trees to see the new green mantel of leaves emerge from the bare branches as the Goddess of Spring stirs and wakes.

Oak before Ash in for a splash, Ash before Oak in for a soak, and the higher the Rooks nest the dryer the weather, they say! Well this year it was the Oak by a long way and the the Rooks were as far up in the trees as they could manage, so maybe we are in for a dry spell, who knows!

On the Long Man hill we were blessed by the Sun as we gathered again to celebrate the turning of the eternal wheel. The wonderful Mythago Morris brought the circle together with a couple of dances. After opening the ceremony we held hands and formed a circle of unity and then with chanting and love the men and women parted company to honour the mysteries of the God and Goddess, both within and without.

For the Men a Toast, a Boast and a Promise!  to honour someone or something in your life, for something of which you are proud to have achieved and a promise for something you wish to achieve. Roars and cheers of pride, power and passion filled the air, the God in his glory was felt on that hill.

For the Women a time to say out loud of how the Goddess spoke to us and how she manifests through each of us, then a song of unity, strength and beauty that soared and spiraled around the circle binding us together with the Goddess and each other and as we sang the May Queen was divined. The women cloaked and crowned the May Queen and paid her honour due and then we heard a tune coming from the men’s circle which signaled that they too were ready to find the May King.

We danced around their circle as they sang to show the Goddess was with them as they rose up to face the ordeal to find the May King!

The Men gathered and made ready to run, all fired and tense for the race. The signal given the chase was on and like greyhounds across the great expanse of grass they ran finally disappearing into the trees in the distance, the May King would be the first one to find the Antlers hidden in the copse.

The May Queen and the women watched the men run and then waited to see who emerged carrying the prize, slowly the group came back into view but no horns were to be seen. They walked slowly all with their hands behind their backs, who had won the prize?

Eventually the waiting women caught sight of the antlers in the hands of one man who then brandished them with much whoop and ceremony from all. He was brought to the top of the hill where his cloak and crown were bestowed and the May King and May Queen were presented to each other and the the assembled company. For this moment they were our God and Goddess standing with us at the time of Beltaine, holding the energy of the land, they blessed the bread and drink and shared the feast with the circle, whilst poem and song was presented to honour the day.

With the Lord and Lady blessing the company, Mythago morris danced for us again and a fire was lit to represent the Beltaine fires of the ancestors and we all jumped through the flames. The feasting, poetry and dancing was done, so it was time for our King and Queen to return that energy to the land and for the circle to come to a close. With grateful hearts we thanked the spirits of place and all of the guides and guardians of Anderida for their inspiration, guidance and protection and wound our way to the Giants Rest for Ale, more dancing and the good company of like minds.

Blessed Be

Finding “The Goddess”

Posted in art, cerri lee, damh the bard, druid, druidism, druidry, pagan, paganism, sculpture, shamanism, spirituality, wicca, witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2008 by cerrilee

webrock.jpgWhat a journey this life is!

Lately I have found myself on a journey of self discovery and healing that is moving me to my very foundations, the universe seems to be conspiring to clear all of the detritus that has built up in my Psyche over the years, and one of the most profound parts of that journey has been a recent visit to Cyprus, the Homeland of my biological Father.

To set the scene a little I feel I need to give a snip of history to put the story into how important this is for me. I first found out about my biological Father when I was seventeen, some six years after the man I had believed to be my Father had died in a car crash. Not to make too long a story of it, I was a little surprised, not to mention curious! However, my Mother made it clear from what little she said, I would never be able to meet or find my biological father and, the Gods forbid I should discuss this with anyone, the last bit I think you can tell, I flagrantly ignored!

What she neglected to tell me at that point (it took another thirteen years for this bit) was, that I also had another Sister, a full sister from the elusive Cypriot! She is two years younger than me and had been adopted at birth, she had tracked us down as soon as she could and spent a year trying to pursued Mother to let her meet the rest of the family. I am happy to say that when Mother finally relented and allowed us to meet, there was an instant connection, it was as if my Sister had always been part of my life, and we have continued to be close.

Anyhow now you have a bit of history to put things in context, back to the point of the blog!

There is a place on Cyprus called “Aphrodite’s Sanctuary” and on the second day of our trip Damh and I decided to visit this place. We had been told of a stone there that had an amazing energy, so on what turned out to be the only bright sunny day we had in the week we were there we set of to find it. Having hired a little 4×4 and bought a map we set off. It was easy to find, we pulled into what seemed at first to be a slightly ramshackle site at the back of someones yard. We got out of the car and walked in to the newer looking part of the site, paid the grumpy lady behind the counter the few euros and went in.

The air was full of perfume and bird song as we walked through onto the site, the wind blew up the hillside off of the sea a mile or so away. We walked around the upper area discovering mosaics, old pathways, pomegranate trees and bits of the buildings that had lain around for centuries. We were virtually the only visitors there and we took our time and some photos, just soaking up the atmosphere which was pure peace. We then spent ages looking at the information boards full with information not only about the site but also the cult of Aphrodite. In those few relatively short paragraphs I learned so much and it awoke something deep within me.

I really had no idea quite how little I knew about this Goddess, to say that she has been generally underestimated is an understatement of epic proportion. This Goddess was know simply as “The Deity” for a long time and the age of the site is least Bronze Age possibly earlier, being used and rebuilt over thousands of years. She was and is an Earth Mother, the energy of her Sanctuary is beauty, peace and joy, and we hadn’t even found the stone yet!

We moved on from the info boards and on through a gateway set with simple murals made from small stones, into a courtyard with four or five large, old and beautiful trees, all of the buildings were newly restored medieval buildings, clean and elegant. We began to explore the open doorways that beckoned. Damh went into one whilst I explored another, we met in the courtyard and as I looked at his face I knew something had affected him, he said, “I will give you a minute alone in there”. Ok! I thought and walked up the cobbled ramp to a large doorway.

As I walked through the doorway from bright sunlight into the relative gloom of the vaulted room, a wave of energy washed over me that was so powerful that it took my breath away. I stood just inside the room and caught my breath and as my eyes adjusted, I saw “The Stone” sitting on a plinth placed in the center of the Eastern wall. The presence of this black piece of rock that was about three feet tall, almost conical but slightly flattened on three sides, was incredible. Either side of the rock there was information about it and how it was housed and the kinds of offerings that had been made to the embodiment of the “Deity” long before any anthropomorphic image, she was the very Earth itself and there was nothing to tell you that you could not touch “The Deity”, and so I did. I touched her smooth blackness and felt an acceptance the like I have never felt before, like all those people in ages passed, my ancestors, I touched the Goddess and she touched me.

In that place I felt the fragmented parts of my heart and soul begin to find a healing, maybe for the first time in my life, it was hard to leave that place and I will go back again, but it was getting on in the day and we had to leave at some point, so we traveled down the road a little further to the place that it is said to be the birth place of the Goddess, again it was a rock, or rather a large group on a mystical shore. There is a tunnel built to take you safely onto the beach under the busy road, it is long, thin and dark and feels like a birthing canal, and as you emerge blinking into the light the Rock formations are right in front of you, again breath taking! And to our surprise on all of the bushes along the beach there were tied white rags, offerings to the Goddess, just as at many sites have over here in Britain!

The Goddess is alive and even though she now has a supermarket, golf course and other modern day fripperies named after her, her power is still with us undiminished!

Finally I have made my Immrama to Cyprus after more than half a life time of being curious about the culture of my Father and physical aspects of being multicultural, in the genetic sense (there is another whole other story about the Irish part of my heritage), add to that a great deal of spiritual work on “The Ancestors”, personal ancestry, and connection to “The Land” with all of its cycles, myths and legends.

Many people on a spiritual path make connections with various Gods and Goddesses and I am no different, and needless to say that however you think about those connections, either because I wished to or because She called to me, I have felt a strong calling from Aphrodite. Many aspects of my life I have related to this Goddess and yet always found difficulty in relating to her stories, and now I know why. I have started to live as a whole person in a way that could not have been done without this soul quest, and I thank “The Deity” for her gift with all my heart.

blessed be

Cerri 🙂

The Cauldron is Born!

Posted in art, cauldron born, cerri lee, damh the bard, druid, druidism, druidry, pagan, pagan music, paganism, spirituality, wicca, witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2008 by cerrilee

p67web.jpgI have been a bit busy over the past few weeks trying to do my partner Damh the Bard’s new album cover, the album is called The Cauldron Born. I always start with such big ideas about the concepts for the covers and find that my technical abilities just do not come up to par when putting them into a Photoshop environment, thank the Gods for having a creative teenage daughter who is much more able on these fronts!

The process is an interesting one as the album has to be practically finished to get a real sense of how it is going to sound before you can have any idea of how the artwork should complement the energy, and then everything very quickly becomes time pressured in order to get everything out to press.

The whole album takes months to work on whilst having to fit it in with working, and the whole house takes on a air of creative tension. Damh works all hours on writing and recording in the front bedroom of our small bungalow, every now and then he will come out of the room either utterly frustrated or bouncing with child like glee depending on what he has achieved in the past couple of hours, at which point I become a sound board as we then go through various versions of the track to listen to the levels of each instrument and it is adjusted, deleted or sometimes new things added.

At these points I have to give an “honest” opinion, but also be the epitome of tack and diplomacy, neither of these two qualities are natural parts of my nature, I tend to be very straight forward with my opinion if I like something I am comfortable to say so, but equally if something does not work for me I will not say anything just to please, I really think that that is unfair and I would not be happy if someone was not honest with me. For me all opinion is subjective and personal and therefore should be taken with grace (if it is given with grace), whilst being comfortable enough to say thank you for your opinion I will consider the points you make, but still have the confidence to do what you feel is right for you.

And so it goes on over the months whilst I try to keep the noise to a minimum in the rest of the house, with phones ringing, people knocking at the door and the dog barking her head off at any little noise, it takes over your life and no mistake. So when it comes to the last stage which is the cover, Damh is champing at the bit to get the package out the door and to press – no pressure there then! 🙂

All of the fabulous and grand ideas of working with photos and line drawing which I started with at the beginning of the process are binned! There simply are not enough hours in the day to take the photos and work out how to turn them into the images in my head, it would take weeks and more dry weather than we have had for ages to get out into the woods and take the basic shots. Then I would have to find someone to teach me everything I need to know about Photoshop to transform them, and then do the extra artwork to overlay, so I go for simplicity.

The album has a very clean and clear feel to it and a good number of the song lyrics have strong feelings to them, so I felt that simple line drawings white on black dotted through the booklet would keep with that theme. So having worked out a simple image that hopefully best illustrated the feel of each song I set to work on drawing the images. I have to say that I work best with pencil sketching or clay so these images made me work outside of my comfort zone and I struggled with the idea that less is more, but in the end I hope I managed something acceptable.

I only used one photograph in the end and that was of a cauldron from a website (with the permission of the website owners of course www.jelldragon.com), and I have to say that with the technical help of my daughter Rosalie I have learned so much from this process and will be much more confident with the next one!

Art and Magic

Posted in art, cerri lee, clothing, druid, druidism, druidry, pagan, paganism, sculpture, shamanism, spirituality, wicca, witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , on January 15, 2008 by cerrilee

It seems that the universe is working some kind of magic for me at the moment! So many things are coming into my awareness that are teaching me some very strong lessons about my art and the way I think about it. Not the least of which was a great discussion at the moot last night on Symbolism.
For so many years I have not valued my attempts to express myself and seen nothing but imperfection in the things I produced, always comparing myself to others and never matching up in my eyes. But with a fairly new perspective, I think that was because I was always trying to control the piece and never let it speak for itself.

Art, to me, is communication of ideas and feelings, so the fundamental drive of an artist from my point of view, is to convey that feeling or inspiration that often hits you from both inside and out. It hits your head, your heart and your gut all at once and you feel compelled to share that passion with anyone who will listen, you want them to feel the same fire in their heads. But every time you put pen/pencil to paper or model a lump of clay the language used can often feel limited, not up to the task of conveying all that verve and gusto. To me in the past it seemed in order to reach out and communicate the things that had moved me so strongly, I had to find a symbolic language that anyone could access.

The problem with that kind of thinking is that everyone has their own internal symbolic language built from their own natures and their cultural nurturing. So I spent my time thinking and thinking and thinking and rarely doing anything for fear that I would not be able to speak clearly enough or in a language that people would want to hear!

Blimey! I tell you that is not a fun place to be and all self inflicted! If I want to I can blame my insecurities on my unsupportive parent, who never even passed a comment on anything I did except possibly to point out a number of flaws, but I think that is too easy a get out. I have been a grown up for quite a long time now and had three great kids of my own, all of which have grown up as very creative individuals and I managed to encourage them, why couldn’t I do the same for myself?

I think that I have finally found my own plain and simple truth, my journey has been to find the courage to not control the reaction from others by trying to second guess what anyone might want to hear and manipulate the image to that end, but to put stuff from my heart out there and hope that something I produce may speak personally to another individual. In truth my ego hopes others will see the depth of feeling I have for my spirituality, the natural world and mythical realms through the mediums I choose.

For me the Magic of Art is in the doing of it. In the process of exploration and experimentation you learn your own inner language and the more you use it the greater your vocabulary becomes and so the more confident you are to speak it out loud.