Tree Workshop 

I had attended a tree workshop about 20 years ago when I lived in the Wairarapa; and elements of it had really stuck with me since that time. I felt it would fit well with the Grove of the Summer Stars camp; as it encompassed Head, Hands, Heart and Hallows. As a newby with the Grove of the Summer Stars, I wanted to contribute something. As I’m less of a singer or storyteller (so far!) a Tree Workshop seemed like a perfect thing for me to share with other Druids.


As an introduction to the Tree workshop group members took a few minutes to think about why trees were important to them.

We then shared the large number of responses, which included:

friends, heritage, family tree, past & future, longevity, joy of listening to their wisdom, calming, strength, nurturing, can create from them – wand/staff/drawing/weaving, housing/shelter (birds, insects, us), Dru = ‘of the Oak’, food for lowest to most complex lifeforms, healing, beauty, convert air so we can breathe, magic, fuel – fire, heat/warmth, chemical processes,Green = Heart energy, protect, forest intelligence, Papatuanuku’s cloak, floats/burns – make things with it, leaves (like books), stops erosion, brings water, harmony/balance, help to loose our sense of separation, sacred trees, different trees have different personalities, joy – a gift to share, gift of spirit, climb it, wear it…

I think it might have been at this part of the workshop when we had a brief visit from a dragonfly, which we took as a good omen for the both workshop and the retreat!


The next activity was to draw a tree, (but not from life) free hand. Once drawn, we spent some time analysing the characteristics of the trees people himg_0612ad drawn, which could intuitively represent aspects of themselves. The group then split into pairs to discuss their findings. Some very animated and enthusiastic discussions ensued.There was also some friendly competition between some participants, to see who had the most tree ‘accessories’ e.g. a mushroom, swing, child, fairy, snail, etc…!

I then led the group in a guided meditation, where they visited their sacred Grove, but on this occasion there was an additional tree waiting for them at the centre of their Grove, which had a message, energy or blessing to share. There was less discussion following the completion of the meditation; as the participants found something personal and profound to take with them through the rest of the day.

One of the biggest impressions I had taken from the tree workshop I attended so long ago, was the memory of a delightful character known as ‘the man of the trees’.

Richard St.Barbe Baker (Born: October 9, 1889 – Died: June 9, 1982), was a gentlemanly character, passionate about trees – who encouraged the planting of trees all over the world, and in NZ.

He also credited trees with keeping him in good health for much of his life, and suggested one could put their hands on a tree to receive energy. We watched NZ On Screen’s 1981 video documentary (about 20 minutes) about him and his work. This video is available online at this link:

In addition, there are several web articles about Richard St.Barbe Baker available online if you do a Google search.

We ended by having a play with my tree oracle and runes.

– Claire


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


Sustainability and green living is a very big part of my daily practice as a Druid. To me, it is so important to be living in a way that works with Mother Earth and help protect her for future generations. I do this is through making conscious choices about how I discard of our waste and how and what we buy. This isn’t always easy and I am constantly seeking to expand on my knowledge and question the way I am consuming.

I am planing a couple of posts that will detail ways that I have found to live sustainably or sharing resources that I have discovered  or highlighting companies that make things that help. Sometimes these companies are small and don’t have the advertising power that similar products have as their products last longer and they aren’t drawing in repeat users as often. These companies need our support to keep going.

I know that many of you already try to live in a green way as well. If you want to share any of the ways you do things please feel free to flick us an email or leave a comment to make sure that it gets covered in these posts. I look forward to seeing our discussions around this!


The end is nigh

A colleague asked me yesterday: Is pollution an ethical issue?

My gut response; my intellectual, spiritual and emotional responses are yes, yes, a thousand times: YES!

Our Earth is sacred, an expression of The Divine Something that some call God.  Human beings are natural organisms that evolved on this Earth – we are part of this sacred biosphere. We are reliant on her for our sustenance.

And we are desecrating our own house. We are desecrating this Earth by our actions. It is estimated that 30 – 50% of all different species will be extinct by mid century.

One of the primary causes is pollution. One example is ocean acidification caused by CO2 pollution in the atmosphere. The CO2 dissolves in water to make weak carbonic acid. This threatens all shellfish, corals and other organisms that use calcium carbonate as part of their exoskeleton. Even weak acids will dissolve calcium carbonate.

Is it ethical to let all these organisms die? This is starting to happen now, and will continue unless we reduce CO2 pollution into our air. Or to draw on a Maori perspective – reduce the pollution of the realm of Tawhiri Matea.

I could continue to write for another six months, and still not compile a full list of the ways we are polluting Gaia, and and causing extreme distress to many; human and other.

How can this not be an ethical issue? Surely the sixth mass extinction is an apocalyptic and still partly preventable event? An event worse that the extinction of the dinosaurs! The events we have set in motion are unstoppable. Much damage has already been done: Forests cleared, water fouled, air polluted and soil contaminated. But there is much that can be done to help, to heal, Earth.

How can inaction be an ethical response? All over Earth there are thousands, millions, responding to this great ethical issue of our time. I could write for another six months and still not list properly all of the wonderful work being done.

Permaculturists, inspired and guided by the ethics of Care for Earth, Care for People and Fair Share for All, are a good example.

The end of society as we know it is nigh. And this is not only because of present and looming environmental disaster.

Technology! Buckminster Fuller presents a strong argument that the only thing that actually truly changes human society is technological change. In the broad sweep of history, religions and civilisations come and go. But once a technology has been developed its effects continue.

“We live in a time where the old gods are dying and new gods are being born. A time where Kali dances destruction and gives birth to the new. It is a time of grief. Of rending clothes and wailing. The old is going and we don’t know what will replace it.”

Caitlin and John Matthews – The Western Way

Technological change is happening exponentially. For approximately the last hundred years the computational power of our society has doubled about every two years. There is more computing power in one of our smartphones than President Clinton had available to him as President of the United States.

3D printers are now making prosthetic limbs at a cost that is about one thirtieth of the usual cost. With this technology the marginal cost of manufacturing new items approaches zero. This could destroy economies, such as China, that are reliant on manufacturing. Literally, hundreds of millions could be out of work. By the same token, life changing and enhancing technologies are becoming affordable for all. Maybe we need to redefine employment?

Solar power is another example. It is estimated, using the current, observed, exponential growth rate of solar panel usage, that there will be enough electricity produced in 25 years to supply all human energy needs. This will mean that the marginal cost of units of energy, produced using printed solar panels, will approach zero. This means that OPEC will no longer have much economic influence and oil is a sunset industry. What will this mean for the Middle East?

This will be a transition from a capitalist society based on scarcity value, to a society where energy abundance is the norm. This was the vision Buckminster Fuller wrote about in “Critical Path”.

What will be the ethics that guide us on this transition? Can we make this transition – or have we damaged our environment so much that social breakdown is inevitable? Is this not an impending apocalypse? A lifting of the veil on something new?

The end IS nigh, and we don’t know what will be next! And I find this profoundly uncomfortable, but also incredibly exciting!

– Richard


In addition to the work of permaculturists, I also want to acknowledge Dark Mountain Project and Salim Ismail as primary influences on this piece of writing.

Suggested links

The Dark Mountain Project

Video: Salam Ismail on exponential growth

Salim Ismail – Website Climate Change means one world’s death is another’s birth

The Western Way: A Practical Guide to the Western Mystery Tradition – The Native Tradition by John and Caitlin Matthews

3D printed limbs

Enabling the future – 3D printed prosthetics

Buckminster Fuller

Buckminster Fuller – Website

The Critical Path, by Buckminster Fuller

Biodiversity and Endangered Species

Endangered Species International: The five worst mass extinctions

Center for Biological Diversity: The extinction crisis (the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals)