Book Review: Earth Tree – An Anthology of Poems

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EARTH TREE – An Anthology of Poems
by Dawn McKenzie

Copies are available from Dawn McKenzie
Email: Leafspr8@xtra.co.nz
$NZ20 + postage

Natures riches, blended knowingly with elemental cycles, with spiritual beliefs, set within the magical land that is Aotearoa, this poetry captures it all. Readers are transported by the imagery created, born of Dawn’s life experience and deep understanding of the connection between all life forces. Delightful drawings of the branches and leaves the trees featured are sprinkled throughout the text, enriching the verse still further. ‘Earth Tree’ is a must have collection of poetry for both those who understand well our dependence and empathy with our planet and also for those who desire to discover it.

“She knows the cycles
Daybreak to sundown,
The seasons –
Beltane’s buds to winter bareness.
She knows the creative cycles,
The birds in her branches
Nest, fly,
and make their homes in her boughs.”

~Les

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Book Review: Awareness – A De Mello Spirituality Conference In His Own Words

I founawerenessd this on the internet a number of years ago and thought that fellow grovers might be interested: AWARENESS; A de Mello Spirituality Conference in His Own Words by Anthony, S.J.; Edited by Stroud, J. Francis, S.J. De Mello (Author).

Anthony de Mello was a Jesuit priest 1937 – 1981. His writing is thought provoking and challenging. Despite being a Jesuit priest most of his themes are equally applicable to persons from any spiritual believe. In the introduction he tells us that we are all born asleep and that many of us never wake up; most don’t even want to. Among other things he challenges his listeners / readers:

  • to look at who they really are themselves and stop being a slave to their upbringing.
  • to reconsider their motives for ‘good works’.
  • to consider the age old question of ‘who am I?” or indeed “what is this thing I call ‘I’?”.

It has nice short sections which I particularly like so that I can be challenged and have something to think about for hours, days (or longer) without having to spend hours on the pre-reading.

Quite topically (considering de Mello died in 1981) he tells this story:

I remember hearing about a man who asks his friend, “Are you planning to vote Republican?” The friend says, “No, I’m planning to vote Democratic. My father was a Democrat, my grandfather was a Democrat, and my great-grandfather was a Democrat.” The man says, “That is crazy logic. I mean, if your father was a horse thief, and your grandfather was a horse thief, and your great-grandfather was a horse thief, what would you be?” “Ah,” the friend answered, “then I’d be a Republican.”

I have included a couple of short extracts for you as a taster. If you are interested, here is a link to an online PDF version: http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/tonyawareness.pdf

THE MASQUERADE OF CHARITY

Charity is really self-interest masquerading under the form of altruism. You say that it is very difficult to accept that there may be times when you are not honest to goodness really trying to be loving or trustful. Let me simplify it. Let’s make it as simple as possible. Let’s even make it as blunt and extreme as possible, at least to begin with. There are two types of selfishness. The first type is the one where I give myself the pleasure of pleasing myself. That’s what we generally call self-centeredness. The second is when I give myself the pleasure of pleasing others. That would be a more refined kind of selfishness.

The first one is very obvious, but the second one is hidden, very hidden, and for that reason more dangerous, because we get to feel that we’re really great. But maybe we’re not all that great after all. You protest when I say that. That’s great!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FINDING YOURSELF

The great masters tell us that the most important question in the world is: “Who am I?” Or rather: “What is ‘I’?” What is this thing I call “I”? What is this thing I call self? You mean you understood everything else in the world and you didn’t understand this? You mean you understood astronomy and black holes and quasars and you picked up computer science, and you don’t know who you are?

~ Linda

Lugh Lamhfade by Moria

Here is the lyrics for the song we sing at Lughnasdh, Lugh Lamhfade by Moria.

Lugh, Lugh, Lugh Lamhfada
Lugh the shinning one
Lugh, Lugh, Lugh Lamhfada
Warrior of the Sun

God of craftsmen
Lugh of the long arm
All knowing all wise
LUGH!

Travelled to the West
With the Tuatha da Danaan
Celtic sun god
LUGH!

Lugh, Lugh, Lugh Lamhfada
Lugh the shinning one
Lugh, Lugh, Lugh Lamhfada
Warrior of the Sun

Slayer of Balor
The champion Formore
Warrior sun god
LUGH!

Lugh Chromain
Now called Leprechaun
Sleeping with the aes sidhe
LUGH!

Lugh, Lugh, Lugh Lamhfada
Lugh the shinning one
Lugh, Lugh, Lugh Lamhfada
Warrior of the Sun

Lugh, Lugh, Lugh Lamhfada
Lugh, Lugh, Lugh Lamhfada
Lugh, Lugh, Lugh Lamhfada
Lugh

Here is us singing it at Druid Camp 2017:

Here is Moria’s nephews band singing it:

Lughnasadh Camp 2017

Last weekend we had our annual Lughnasadh Druid Camp. We say that Camp starts on Friday, but really it starts on the Thursday as we all troop in to set up tents, pick up the shopping (which was ordered online this year!), unpack it and set up the kitchen in the barn. This year we had delicious meals cooked by our wonderful Joarn and Martha.

Camp always has a theme and this year wimg_4273as Head, Hands, Heart and Hallows. Every morning we start with a camp meeting, where we each share a word for the day, we chant Awens and go over the plan for the day.

Friday was our Head day, were we got to put our thinking caps on! We started by having a opening ritual which naturally went over time so we pushed back the tree workshop we had planned. The great thing about this year’s camp was all the gaps we left in the roster so we could be flexible (and have time for naps.) I won’t say much about the tree workshop because that will be a post for another day. It was a great starting workshop that helped us find a tree each for camp. We ended this day with a Eisteddfod about the meaning of The Druid’s Prayer which led to lots of meaningful debate and a greater understanding for all.

Saturday was our Hands day. Before we could get started using our hands we had a Skype call with Philip Carr-Gomm so he could give us his thoughts on The Druid’s Prayer which created further discussion and understanding of the prayer. There were lots of creative activities for us to set our hands to, wood carving, fibre weaving, painting, drawing, Harakeke weaving, bread making and crocheting! I had set out to learn to crochet. With lots of help and support from many of the other ladies at camp I learnt to crochet one granny square but came away with half a blanket thanks to the generosity of those who could already crochet!

Saturday evening we had much delight having a sing along of many of our songs. Some of these we recorded. You can hear our song Lugh that our talented band leader, Moria, wrote by going here or listen to it below.

Of course, a camp sing along wouldn’t be complete without a short telling of Bob the Sheep God before we sung our Bob version of Lugh. Bob has become one of my favourite camp traditions as it is full of inside jokes. It is a story about the creation of myths and legends that has taken on a life of its own. It is also extremely ridiculous, giving us all a good laimg_4260ugh.

Sunday was our Heart day. We celebrated Lughnasadah with a ritual. Unfortunately we had to have this inside because the wind, which had blown down all the tents during the night, had blown over a ‘sacred’ gorse tree onto the path way to the Grove! After our ritual, and a delicious lunch, we had a Poetry and Prose writing workshop to get us all connected to the heart of story telling, and seeing how easy it can be to get words flowing through us. We continued this story telling on at our evening Eisteddfod where we played a story telling game.

Hallows day was on our last day, Monday. In the morning we had a beautiful sharing circle about death and entering the Summerlands. This was followed by a discussion on how to be practical and prepared in the lead up to entering the Summerlands. Here are some links to the documents that were discussed:

That evening we had a Eisteddfod discussion on where you believe your power is coming from when you do your working. It was proposed that there was two different ways of believing where the energy comes from and that neither is wrong. It was an enlightening discussion that helped us think about our own beliefs and practices.

After Eisteddfod we trekked out to the Grove to preform the closing ceremony, as the sun died down for the day which seemed very fitting.

On Tuesday morning we packed up, with the knowledge that it was our last camp for a couple of years. According to our fabulous planner Nicola it was the fastest pack up ever. I love camp, but it will be exciting to spend time developing the endeavours we are looking to spend our time on in the future.

~ Mary

Lughnasadh Soup

At Lughnasadh camp each year, the Lughnasadh ceremony on Sunday is followed by a communal lunch. Campers, other Grove members and visitors share a meal, of which this delicious soup is the basis.


Lughnasadh Soup (double recipe – need 2 big stock pots) (32 large serves)


img_426116 tablespoons olive oil
8 teaspoons ground cumin
6 teaspoons turmeric
8 heaped teaspoons minced garlic
8 litres vegetable stock (32 tsp Rapunzel stock powder with 32 cups water)
8 cups red lentils (rinsed)
16 medium-sized carrots
16 stalks celery
8 large kumara
salt and freshly ground black pepper

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Chop the onion in 1cm chunks and cook in the oil or butter for about 5 mins till clear. During this time, stir in cumin, turmeric & garlic. The spices should smell fragrant, but should not burn.

Add the liquid and the lentils (more makes a thicker soup), and simmer, stirring now and then.

Cut the carrots and celery in 5mm slices, and the thinly peeled kumara in 1cm cubes. Add them and cook gently, with the lid, tiimg_4264lted, for 20-30 minutes, or until everything is tender. Leave the soup chunky, or puree all or part of it, depending on the texture you like. Thin with extra stock, or water if very thick. Taste and season last of all.

Serve with crusty bread and optional cheese. Corn fresh off the cob is also a fitting accompaniment!

(This soup is based on Alison Holst’s Creamy Lentil and Vegetable Soup from her book, Meals without Meat.)

Lughnasadh Songs

With Lughnasdah approaching I thought I would share with you a playlist of 10 songs that are appropriastump-in-forest-picjumbo-comte to this festival. Most of these you can find on Spotify or Youtube, which I have linked where possible. I will also link to where you can buy the songs from. In no particular order, here you are:

  1. Lughnasdah ~ Damh the BardLet’s start of with a song from our Pendragon, Damh the Bard. This song is a catchy song from his 2002 album Herne’s Apprentice and it follows the story Corn King in the style of John Barleycorn songs.
  2. Lughnasdah Dance ~ Gwydion PendderwenThis song is by one of the first Pagan musicians, Gwydion Pendderwen, who released this on his 1975 album Songs for the Old Religion.  Damh the Bard features a version of this song on The Cauldron Born which is easier to buy.
  3. Scarborogh Fair ~ Various artistsTo be fair, I did spot this on Star Foster’s list of Lughnasdah songs and agreed. She listed the Simon and Garfunkel version of this traditional English ballad, which is arguably the most well known. However, Damh the Bard also does a cover on his latest album, Sabbat. I promise that this list isn’t just a list of Damh songs!
  4. Heartbeat of Harvest (Lughnasadh) ~ Cernunnos RisingThis song about the lessons learnt from the harvest. It is off Wild Soul by English singer/songwriter, Cernunnos Rising, aka George Nicholas.
  5. Harvest Song ~ Spiral Dance
    This Australian band’s offering starts of sounding like a Christmas carol before it beats up, which I like. This comes from The Quickening.
  6. John Barleycorn ~ Various artists
    Another British folksong, this song can be found in many places. There are 2 versions of this song that I really enjoy from the album John Barleycorn Reborn, which is a great album for this time of year. And yes, I am aware that Damh the Bard also has a version of this song.
  7. Lughnasadh ~ Threefold
    This song is from the British new age group, Threefold. Its found on their album, The Very Best of Threefold.
  8. Lammas Moon ~ Touch the Earth
    Touch the Earth are a tribal folk band, which is show cased in this song from their album Full Circle.
  9. Lammas Song ~ Inkubus Sukkubus
    Inkubus Sukkubus are a gothic rock pagan band. If you are put off by them being a rock band I would still recommend this song as it leans more towards gothic pagan song than rock song. It is from their album Wild.
  10. Rise of the Corn ~ Carolyn Hillyer
    This song has a tribal beat with beautifully sung lyrics over top. I couldn’t find where to buy this song but you can check out more of Carolyn’s work on the Seventh Wave Music site.

Let us know what your favourite songs for Lughnasadh are in the comments below!

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Women sustainability 

Sorry menfolk. This post is going to be more for women. I hope to get a post more suited for men in the future.

But for today let’s talk about our menstrual cycle! For many of you this can be a skirmish subject to think and talk about. Exploring why our society doesn’t accept our bodily functions might be a post for another day.

As females we can produce a lot of waste each month when we have our period so I thought we could explore some more environmental friendly options. I heard about Moon Cups a year ago, but asimg_2563 I am a pad user instead of a tampon user I wasn’t pushed to make the move. A couple of months ago I found out about reusable pads. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to look before, after all it was our our foremothers dealt with their monthly!

As soon as I read about them I ordered a variety to try out from Trade Me. They come in various different colours and thickness. My personal favourite are sold by Skin Deep Boutique.  It has an absorbent bamboo inner which fold up nicely looking like a little purse in your bag. There are domes on all of them that help them stay in place, like wings on disposables. It is also handy for folding over a used one and popping into a zip lock bimg_3245ag or or a little bag like one I got from Ecomoon Boutique, for when you are out and about.

If you have a few to last you 2 days you can soak and wash one days worth while wearing the other. I keep a bucket in my laundry that I just pop them in to soak, refreshing the water each time. Sometimes they can take some time to dry so I have enough to last 3 days.

There are more than just benefits for the environment with making the switch. There are benefits to your wallet and body as well. After making the initial purchase you shouldn’t need to buy more for years, instead of spending $8 a month! The real thrifty of you could even look at making your own!
I have noticed that the reusable pads sit and feel a lot nicer against my body. My cramps aren’t as painful and my flow isn’t as heavy. Other reported benefits include:

  • Less rashes from the lack of airflow caused by disposable pads
  • Avoiding the toxins that are byproducts of bleaching during the making of disposable pads
  • You can get really pretty fabrics that make you smile and feel good

 

If you are more of a tampon person than a pad then I would highly recommend investing in a Mooncup. They are soft, silicone cups that you insert instead of a tampon. When it is time to change instead you pull it out, clean it and then reinsert it. They have a little stem to help. They have much the same benefits as reusable pads:

  • Good for environment
  • Saves you money
  • Non toxic
  • Ideal for those with sensitive skin
  • Can get in various colours if you wish
  • They also have the added benefit of not running out because you only need one!

If you really can’t stand the idea of using these great, reusable products and want to stick to disposablimg_3244es then I recommend checking out the tampons and pads that The Organic Initiative are making.

I really hope that this post has made you reconsider how you work with your body’s menstrual cycle. Please feel free to share this with your fellow sisters and share your experiences in the comments below!

– Mary

Summer Solstice 2016

I hope everyone has had a fantastic holiday period. On Sunday the 19th December our Grove celebrated Alban Hefin/Summer Solstice/Litha. It was a nice day so we all walked out to the Grove using the neimg_3852w pathway that many of us hadn’t used yet. It has been a couple of years since I joined in for the  Summer Solstice ritual as I usually run a children’s circle and join mid way. However this year we only had one Child of the Light turn up and he wanted to join us in the circle.

During the ritual we honoured the King of the Trees and the Child of the Light. We had 4 people call in Maori, which is more than I ever remember having before. It gave me goosebumps as they welcomed the ancestors and the atua into the circle. Having this aspect of relationship with the culture of the land we are working on is a very special part of our Grove.

We had our eisteddfod after our feast inside. Here we shared poems, old and new, that related to the celebration. As it is close to Christmas our story teller, Moria, shared a story about Christmas traditions being changed when settlers discovered that trees were different in New Zealand. Here we have the Pohutakawa tree which flowers img_3854bright red at this time of year. New Zealanders also use pine trees to decorate in their houses.

As it is also near the close of the calendar year, we also reflected on those that we have lost this year, personally and within the bardic/artistic world. Our musician, Glenn lead us in a beautiful rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. There were many wet eyes.

To celebrate Alban Hefin/Summer Solstice at this time of year, so close to Christmas, can be very confusing. All around us people are celebrating Winter traditions and Santa is fainting from heat exhaustion. It makes it all the more important for us to be honouring the Sun and the cycles of the seasons.

– Mary

The Christmas Fairy


Have you ever wondered how Santa and Krumpus gather names for their naughty and nice list? They use fairies of course!

The Christmas Fairy is the fairy in charge. She makes sure that all the children has a fairy who is monitoring their behaviour. The fairy who has you will usually have about 5 other children in your neighbourhood that they keep an eye on.

The fairies watch you as you play with your friends and when you spend time with your family. They know if you have been hitting your little sister or if you have lied to your parents and got your brother in trouble. They know if you haven’t been sharing with your friends or excluding someone from your play. When they notice that you are doing a lot of these things they pass your name on to Krumpus!

Krumpus is a terrible old grinch of a character. He will put coal in your stockings, even though nobody should be using coal because it isn’t a renewable energy source! He makes a huge mess when eating the cookies and he prefers rum to milk so will spill the milk all over the living room! As for presents he will leave none!

If the fairy who is watching you notices that you are offering to help look after your little brother, or that you are listening to your older sister when she is watching out for you they will suggest that your name goes on the list for Santa. They might observe you inviting the new, shy child to join your game. Or perhaps they have seen you tidy your toys away when you have finished playing with them. All these will help you get reported to Santa.

Santa will visit you on Christmas Eve while you are asleep. He won’t leave a mess while eating any treats you may leave him. Although Mrs Claws ask that some of you leave him some fruit instead! Santa will leave some yum and interesting treats in your stockings and the Christmas Fairy works with his elves to help him deliver the gifts the children want or need.

So next time you have to decide if you are going to be naughty or nice, check to see if your fairy is around!

– Mary

Criminal Buddha

Recently I have become obsessed with true crime podcasts. I won’t bore you with the ins and outs of this but I did come across a particular episode that I thought many of you would be interested in.

The episode is from a podcast called Criminal which is usually an interview on various aspects of crime. They have featured interviews with dog handlers, ex cons, victims and other professionals and people that have been involved with crime in general.

The episode I want to draw your attention to is Episode 15: He’s neutral. It is about a couple who put up a Buddha statue in their neighbourhood and it transformed their community. Next time you have a spare 15 minutes give it a listen and let us know what you think in the comments below!

Mary