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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Druid

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Beltane and the Singleton

Beltane is fast upon us – here in Suffolk, the hawthorn is in bloom already, and I have heard the first cuckoo of summer.  The oak leaves are just coming out, and the beech and ash are lagging behind, sluggish after their long sleep.  The garden is abloom, and the forest is filled with bluebells, their soft energy shimmering in the sunlight. It is, indeed, Beltane.

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Not satisfied with the response to a complaint that I had made at the beginning of April regarding two sexist comments that Ken Bruce had made at the beginning of his BBC Radio 2 show on 2 April, I have written back to the BBC and am sharing this story with you. What we say DOES matter, and we need to speak out against what we think is wrong. As a Druid, I take speech quite seriously (when I'm not being The Fool, but there is method in my madness there as well - indeed, a good friend of mine this weekend said that I am one of the most intelligent people she knows, and also the silliest - but I digress...)

What happened was that I wrote in to BBC Radio 2 because Ken Bruce had called Lynne Bowles a "whale" (in jest) and in the next breath said something about her putting on a French maid's uniform. Many people would say that taking this out of context is making it appear worse than it actually is. What I am saying is that the context of sexism doesn't matter - it's still sexism. Ways to undermine women's power in our society is becoming more and insidious where it cannot be achieved through brute force. Here is the correspondence that I have received back from my complaint, and my further response.

I am putting this here on my blog as well as my Facebook page. My original post in which I tagged the BBC has mysteriously disappeared from my Facebook timeline. It is my intention to make this public, and whether it is simply a Facebook error or a more targeted silencing, I shall never know - what I do know is that they cannot touch this blog.

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  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    Dear Madam/Sir at the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit, I began this complaint with regards to remarks made by Ken Bruce. What I wou
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    Dear Mr Martin, Would I be endearing myself to you if I called you a whale? I'm not trying to be deliberately sexist, but how abo
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    UPDATE: Endearing? And deliberate or not, it isn't right! Dear Ms van der Hoeven Thanks for contacting us again regarding Ken Br

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Women in Druidry

Within Paganism, there appear to be an equal number of women and men in leadership roles.  One of the most popular Druids today is Emma Restall Orr, one of the most popular Wiccans is Starhawk.  Heathenry has Galina Grasskova and Diana L Paxon.  There are countless others in all pagan paths and traditions that stand alongside the men in equal roles of leadership, teaching and more. 

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  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    I hadn't heard that about Welsh bards - interesting!
  • Lia Hunter
    Lia Hunter says #
    This post makes me want to go explore Welsh mythology more. I hadn't picked up on a passivity in the females of the stories, but I
Welcoming the Light at the Spring Equinox

The sun rises ever earlier, the days becoming longer. Soon the balance will tip, when the night gives way to the lengthening days. The spring equinox falls on March 20th this year, and after a very wet winter I am very much looking forward to it.

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Here in my garden in Greece Henry the tortoise sunned in the garden for a little while then went back to sleep when it clouded ove
Desperately seeking Druid: The over-sexualised images in D&D fantasy games

I love playing Dungeons and Dragons.  It is where I first came across the term, "Druid".  In the Forgotten Realms series, there was a Druid whose concern was in the balance, in keeping encroaching man out of the wilderness, and who could shapechange into a white hawk, summon insects to harangue enemy spellcasters, throw down lightning bolts and other such things.  I left the Druids in the realm of fantasy until much later in life, when I found out that Druidry is a reality, albeit a little different to the fantasy novel character…

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • J'Karrah
    J'Karrah says #
    What? You don't find a chain mail brazier, leather thong, and 9 inch platform stripper heels to be appropriate female battle atti
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    It's such a shame that you had to modify all the miniatures, isn't it? Elder Scrolls is quite good, but I don't do computer game
  • ScarletteSpider
    ScarletteSpider says #
    When i'm looking for a picture to represent my character, do you have any idea how long and hard i have to look to find a female i

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Druid Magic

Druids aren’t associated with magic in the same way that other Pagan traditions, such as Wicca or Witchcraft seem to be.  Yet I’ve found that in every spiritual path, there are elements of magic contained within that are often very similar in nature.

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Death, Impermanence and Reincarnation

I haven't sung for a while now. Sometimes when you're sad or grieving, your body and soul just don't want to sing.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

The Wild Gods I love the word wilderness.  It conjures up images of windswept moors and heathland, dark tangling forests and craggy mountaintops.  That spirit of the untamed, the uncivilised, that spark that humanity cannot touch, much in the same way as deity is traditionally viewed.  For many Druids, that wilderness is deity – it has the power to give or sustain life or the power to kill.  It has not and, in many places, cannot be touched by human hands, existing without any human interference.  I like to think that same dark spark exists within our own human souls as well, offering us the sanctity of the wilderness within.

The concept of the “untouched” wilderness is an interesting one.  I rather wonder if it has anything to do with secular religious views that have crept into our culture predominantly for the last thousand years or so.  The concept of the virgin forest, the virgin wilderness – I have to say, I really dislike the term.  It is nice to think that there are places in the world where humans have never been – but still, it’s the terminology that is rather uncomfortable.  I have been to places where humans have lived with the landscape, and who live there no more – the wilderness has returned.  Where stone buildings once stood, nature has reclaimed it, slowly destroying it until nothing remains but the songs on the wind.  Virginity cannot ever be reclaimed – and in this regard, I find the term does not work within the context of the natural world.  As it works in cycles, what happened once can be undone.

As wilderness flows with the cycles, it shows that it cares little about anything else. It exists to exist – there is no other.  It follows its own song, and will continue to do so.  Humans may interfere with the existing wilderness, “taming” it if you will, but it will continue to carry on attempting to restore itself to its original state.  It is that spirit, that sense of soul song reclaiming itself again and again that I find so fascinating.  The weeds will continue to sprout in the garden, whether we are farming organically or not (I really hope that all reading this do!).  The wind will continue to blow regardless of skyscrapers, bridges, mountaintops or 500 year old yew trees.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Courage

As the darkness approaches, I find myself thinking more and more about courage. What is courage? Personally, I think courage is so subjective – there is no one definition that would suit everyone. Yet I shall give it a go in any case.

The dictionary defines courage as: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery. I would posit that courage is the quality of mind/spirit that enables a person to face difficulties, etc in spite of fear. It is just not true that the brave know no fear – I believe that they simply get on with it. There is no such thing as a fearless person, unless that person has not the mental capacity for it, having suffered physical brain or emotional trauma.

What causes fear? For the most part, fear is the unknown. As humans, we crave constancy, security. We’re not especially fond of change, at least in great quantities. We fear what we cannot see – many are afraid of the dark. Is this an instinctual fear, based on what could attack and eat us from the shadows? I had an experience a couple of weeks ago, in my own backyard, where I went to offer some food at my altar – a large dark shadow that was not usually there made me stop in my tracks. A bear, my first thought was. Then my brain worked through the processes of logic – there are no bears in Britain. I’m not in Canada anymore. What animal would be big enough to create this? A stag? Would he attack me in this, the rutting season? No, he couldn’t get through the hedge with his rack at this time of year… After going through these thought processes (which probably took less than a second) I simply stepped forward to investigate, and found it to be a large branch from the beech tree that came down in the high winds. I smiled at the brain’s way of dealing with it and made my offering, honouring the darkness and shadows as well.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
November skies

There's just something about a November sky.

For many, November can be a month of hard coping, with the clocks changing, the nights drawing in, the colder air and wetter weather.  Yet we often miss the beauty of this month, lost in our own solipsism.  Looking around us, we see that there is so much more than our own worlds, than our own lives. As Bjork said, "nature is ancient and surprises us all"…

Just getting over a bout of chicken pox, it would be so easy at this time to fall into introspection, into dulled apathy or even despair.  Having an illness of any kind can turn our thoughts inwards and, it has to be said, not always in a good way.  Looking outside helps. Literally.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Samhain and the Ancestors

What with the rage of the storm St Jude passing over our area on Monday morning, we were without power for a couple of days (as well as being without land line phones -mobile masts were also out).  At this time of year, when the clocks have gone back and the nights are drawing in, the change can be quite dramatic, especially when you are living without power.

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Thank you for the timely reminder.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Awen and Despair

Sometimes being a Druid in today’s society can seem so futile, so pointless.  When people are driving their SUV’s and other gas guzzlers to the corner store, or changing the goalposts on the UK badger cull to suit the targets that they set out in an insane attempt to murder as many of the creatures as possible; when people are leaving lights on in their home or their computers on all day because they are too lazy to turn them off, when we keep using plastic bags because we’re too lazy to carry our own into a shop, when we buy cosmetics that have been tested on animals and judge homeless people on the street as ‘good for nothing’ – how on this earth can one go on? And in the name of Druidry, no less – how can we still follow the paths our hearts take us on, when everything around us seems to be crumbling under the weight of the ills of the so called “modern world”?

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Beginning With Honour

The first steps on the Druid path aren’t the most important. In fact, it is the continuing progress we make along our path that is crucial to understanding the nature of our spirituality.  However, simply finding a path in the first place can be the most difficult task of all.

Leaves, golden and deep, russet red, fell to the forest floor as I climbed to the summit. I could smell the burgeoning leaf mould amid the acrid pines, winter on the wind.  As I approached the tree line I knew he was there, waiting for me.  I changed quickly from coyote to woman and stepped out of the shade into the autumn sunshine.  The wind was cool, and the view from the mountaintop was spectacular, as the fall colours glistened in the lazy golden glow.  I stepped forward towards the crystal clear pool, and cupped my hand, drinking the clear, cold liquid.  A small yellow leaf fell into the pool as I finished drinking, and twirled there in the breeze.
I gazed a while at the little leaf, floating on the water, before turning away and approaching my guide.  He stood, his leathers and feathers blowing in the afternoon wind.  He looked out over the lands and sky before him, silent.  I stood next to him, silent too for a space.

“You have a question,” he said, after some time had passed.
“Yes,” I said.  I took a deep breath.  “What is my path?”

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you for your wise words.
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    You're very welcome! x

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Gods in Druidry

Who are the gods in Druidry?  There is no one answer to this question, as deity, like religion, is such a personal thing in Paganism.  There is no single authority telling us who our god is, or what She is saying.  There are books, teachers, Orders, Groves etc that can offer paths of a tradition that may lead to a relationship with the gods, but again they won’t tell you exactly who they are – we’re given a map and a compass but we have to find our own way.

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  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills says #
    This is something that I've been thinking about lately as I try to deepen my spirituality. I'm a member of OBOD, which has a lot o
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    I love the concept of The Mystery... x

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
A Day in the Life of a Druid

The alarm clock goes off, Aerosmith is playing on Planet Rock.  There is a small white cat lying between me and my husband, her little head resting on my pillow.  A spotted grey cat is curled up against the small of my back, sharing in the warmth.  My husband gets up, showers and comes back to kiss me goodbye.  I sigh, stretch, and slowly extricate myself from the sleeping, furry softness to greet the day.

Standing by the top landing window, overlooking my back garden and the horse paddocks beyond that, down the valley towards the little nature sanctuary, my eyes coming back full circle to see the sun, rising over the North Sea (I cannot see the sea from here, but it is less than a mile away).  I let its light wash over me – sunny mornings have been few and far between, and with eyes closed I drink it in.  “Hail to the Day, and Day’s Sons, farewell to Night and her Daughters. With loving eyes look upon us here, and grant peace to those living here. Hail to the Gods, hail to the Goddesses, hail to the might fecund Earth. Eloquence and native wit bestow upon us here, and healing hands while we live”.  Another deep breath,  and so the day begins.

Headings downstairs, I get food ready for the cats, and boil the kettle for my tea.  The cats slowly make their way downstairs to breakfast.  After getting my lunch ready, I prepare my own breakfast, and sit down at the table with a cup of nettle tea.  “I give my thanks for this food I am about to eat.  To the spirits of land, sea and sky, know that you are honoured”.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Lammas Mysteries

Taking a walk this morning, out in the sunshine, my soul expanding as I free it into the blue skies studding with soft clouds, I hear the sounds of the combine harvesters working in the fields, taking in the wheat.  I breathe deeply, and give thanks to the Goddess for what she provides, and also think of ways in which I too can give back.

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  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    Hi Anne - you're most welcome, and blessings of Lammastide. x
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Joanna -- when I moved to western Oregon, I encountered wheat fields for the first time. (They surround our town, Forest Grove, al

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