Around Lughnasadh this past Summer I was interviewed by Phil Widdows for the UK’s premier folk and acoustic music podcast Folkcast. Well, I am delighted to say that the interview has now been released as a Folkcast Special Edition. Me and Phil talk about my music, my path to Druidry, Motley Crue, glam rock, Morris Dancing, the Spirit of Albion movie and much more. So make a nice cuppa and have a listen.
A couple of weeks ago I played at the PF Devon and Cornwall conference, a gig I love to play each year, and a great reason to step foot upon my home county of Cornwall. On the Sunday after the conference the Boscastle Museum of Witchcraft opens for that one Sunday, so many of the people at the conference descend upon the town to see what’s been happening at the museum.
Now I cannot go to Boscastle without walking to the top of the cliffs to look out upon the mightly Atlantic ocean, and it was here, about 14 years ago that I heard the refrain that opens my song The Winter King in the sound of the sea as it struck the cliffs below. So this time I took some footage on my walk up to put into a video to go with the song.
It’s VERY shaky, but it does show the beauty of the place, and the inspiration behind the refrain, and the rest of King Arthur’s song. I hope you enjoy it, despite the wobbly videoing!
So I’ve been home for a few days now and have had a little time to reflect on my time in the USA. Thinking of the Pagan Spirit Gathering I have one overriding impression – that there is a worldwide Pagan community. Some people say that Paganism is so diverse that it has ceased to be anything more than a word to describe a fractured spirituality. That there is nothing that holds it together. But for me that view was proved utterly wrong when I crossed the Atlantic ocean to play music, and offer a couple of talks, to over 900 American Pagans and find that I feel utterly at home – that the rituals, the chants, the viewpoints being discussed, the general vibe of the camp felt just the same as our Anderida camps, and that these also share much with other camps and events that are happening throughout Britain. Maybe it is just that Paganism appeals to people on a spiritual quest, and that after a while their path might lead away from it, so they can continue their Journey elsewhere. I wonder whether those who see Paganism as fractured are just being called away from it, and rather than just open to that new path, they see their old path as broken, rather than their new path as a continuation of their life quest – who knows. Any relationship can end in either co-operation, or anger, and I guess spiritual relationships are no different… So I’ve come away from the PSG feeling a renewed hope, a renewed connection with my own quest, and a revitalised energy to do even more in service of this community I love so much.
The PSG also gave me time to reflect on my appointment as Pendragon of the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids. As darkness fell one night I walked to the ritual field to see a massive candlelit Labyrinth. Some people were sitting, just looking at this beautiful thing, whilst others had been called to walk it. I sat for a long time, looking at the spiral path laid out before me. Thinking of it as my own path that, although it has appeared to take sudden twists and turns throughout my life, had been just one path, spiralling, but leading me directly to where I was sitting now. The decisions I’ve made, the changes I’ve undertook; learning to play the guitar, sending off a stamp for the OBOD course, giving up my own company in the Agri-business as I just couldn’t square it with my spiritual beliefs anymore, relationship changes, making friends, and losing some along the way, had all led me to this point, and to taking up the sword for the Order.
The peace of the night was enticing, and so I stood and walked across the threshold into the Labyrinth. Around the outer edge altars had been set up in the four directions, so at each I stopped and made my offerings and prayers. It was a long walk to the centre, with plenty of time to think, to remember, and eventually I came to the centre. Here I sat, soaking up the night, feeling the circling, spiralling people who were either walking into or out from this still point all around me. And there I opened even more and listened.
The Pagan community exists, without doubt. I think it is coming of age and is calling out for a rite of passage. But just as our modern society has abandoned these so we no longer mark when a child becomes a man (other than being able to drink legally), or when a girl becomes a woman, it’s up to us to guide it though this process. After all it is us who are the Pagan community – our spirits make up it’s body. Although we can sometimes see our own bodies as separate from who we are, just a vehicle to carry us around, it is good to recognise that the body, the community, is not separate, and if it is nurtured, honoured and loved, it’ll serve the whole, and the individual.
In March 1994 I sent off for the introductory leaflet for the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I remember receiving it in the post a few days later, opening the envelope, seeing the stone ‘trilithon’ on the cover, and then reading about the Druids, the Ovates, the Bards. As I read I realised that I’d thought this way for years. I was so excited that I immediately sent off for their introductory pack. Soon, this large brown envelope appeared through my letterbox, so I took it to Ditchling Common pond, to read it by the water. It was a beautiful hot day. I settled down and began to read…
How the price of a stamp can change your life.
16 years later I am standing in Glastonbury Town Hall with 200 other Druids. A ceremony has been prepared for two people – the Pendragon of the Order, Will Worthington, and myself – the person who will shortly step into the role he has so wonderfully fulfilled over the past 19 years. I am feeling excited, nervous, a waterfall of emotion is flooding over me as I see Will stand before the altar, and return the Order’s sword. He is honoured, he is celebrated, he is loved. Tears are filling my eyes as I know just how much he has gone through during those 19 years, and what this moment must mean to him.
Then I am brought forward.
I have been a facilitator of the Anderida Grove for 13 years. I have initiated many people into the Bardic tradition, as I was initiated as a Bard at the Spring Equinox in 1995. After completing the training courses of the Order in 2002 I asked my Grove to re-initiate me as a Bard as this is where I felt my life’s journey had led me, and it’s where I wished to stay. So I hadn’t been through a rite of passage like this for 8 years. It’s good to remember what it feels like. The unknown, the way it can feel like the Universe is watching you, seeing what you do, listening to your responses, taking note, and shifting things into alignment. There is no need to go into any detail about the ritual itself. All of those feelings returned to me, and reminded me once more of the hidden power that lies behind this modern Druidic tradition. I was given the blessed scabbard, and the Order’s sword, and proclaimed the new Pendragon of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. With it, new doors have opened. I felt as I did the day after my Bardic initiation. It’s like my eyes have opened even more to the wonders of life. It’s hard to explain how this all feels. I am so full of the excitement for life I could just explode! But there are quieter, subtle shifts too. Magic is happening.
I’m off to the USA on Saturday to play some concerts at the Pagan Spirit Gathering. It’s a week-long camp so I’ll hopefully have some time to just sit quietly and meditate, and allow this all to sink in. But I don’t think they’ll let me take the sword on the plane! I’m sure this won’t be the last post about this experience, and I thought long and hard about posting anything at all. I didn’t want it to seem like an ego driven thing, but silence can also be interpreted as ego. I take this role on humbly, with honesty, and integrity, and with the aim of service to the Order, and this tradition I love so much.