Library – Almanacs

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In our Grove library sits a small, but growing section of Almanacs. Of course you may question why anyone would want to read out of date almanacs. Or why we would want almanacs set for the Northern Hemisphere. They are good questions.

 

The answer is that you totally ignore the calendar parts of the Almanacs. The 4 different Llewellyn almanacs that are on offer all have very insightful articles on pagan life.

 

The Magical Almanac contains articles on “Practical Magic for Everyday Living.” They are laid out in sections relating to the 4 elements – Earth, Air, Fire and Water. This means there are pieces about soap making in the Water section and articles talking about food and kitchen witchery in the Earth sections.

 

The Witches Companion is again divided into 4 sections.

  • Community Forum with essays comparing Eclectic Wicca with Traditional Wicca, or discussing community issues like children, elders and coming across pagans we might not personally like.
  • Witchy Living has articles about day-to-day practice of paganism.
  • Witchcraft Essentials looks at different witchy practices, rituals and spells. This isn’t as cheesy as it sounds. The 2014 edition has an article called ‘Solitude and Quiet: Important Tools for the Magical Partitioner’ which urges you to take a break form the busy world we live in.
  • The last section is Magical Transformations – Everything old is new again. I can’t really work out what these articles seem to fit into, other than they seem to look at a variation of different views in paganism including looking into specific deities. There is also a good piece in the 2015 edition about why myth matters, for all those Bards out there.

 

The Sabbats Almanac is sectioned into the 8 seasonal Sabbats. Within each Sabbat there is an initial article about the season and then articles related to the following: Cosmic Sway, The Old Ways, Feasts and Treats, Crafty Crafts, All One Family, and a Ritual suggestion.

 

The Herbal Almanac contains 5 sections – Growing and Gathering Herbs, Culinary Herbs, Herbs for Health and Beauty, Herb Crafts and Herb History, Myth, and Lore. These are great little articles to help get you started on using and understanding herb use. However, word of warning, these have not been checked over by our resident herbalist and you should always check your sources, especially before digesting herbs.

 

The articles in these books range from a couple of pages to 7 or 8 pages long. So next time you arrive early to a ritual, and you have spare moment, please check out this section and read some articles. Let us know if they spark off any thought provoking ideas worth discussing in a blog post!

– Mary

 

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SerpentStar – Beltane 2015

This afternoon while I was scrolling through the blogs I follow, I spotted the Beltane issue of SerpentStar that I’d flagged to read a few weeks ago.
For those of you who may not heard of it, SerpentStar is the online, free newsletter for OBOD in the Southern Hemisphere. Sitting alongside Touchstone, its focus on traditions and seasonal celebration in the Southern Hemisphere is a welcome addition to the variety of work on the web from OBOD Druids.

I haven’t read SerpentStar in a while, and I have to say it’s changed a bit since I last looked. I opened it up to see a professional-looking, clean design, with some wonderful photos from groves across the Southern Hemisphere. The format is now more similar to Touchstone, with information about groves at the beginning, contributions in the middle, and upcoming events and advertising at the end. It had a nice sense of familiarity about it.

The contributions this quarter are a great read. There’s Pete Blake talking about his experience going to one of the UK OBOD Camps, Maria Ede-Weaving writing from the Northern Hemisphere on the paradox of the Beltane/Samhain Axis, and Todd William Dearing exploring the Sacred Masculine.

One of the things I love the most is seeing pictures from Australian OBOD groves – with our shared history they seem somewhat familiar, but the landscape and indigenous influences are also so different. I love seeing how OBOD Druidry is developing and responding to the traditions of the land.
The issue is primarily Australia-focused, but it doesn’t have to be! If anyone is interested in submitted their work to SerpentStar, submissions for their Lughnasadh issue are open until the end of January, so there’s plenty of time to submit those creative outputs that the summer brings.

-Nicola

Authentic You TV: Pamela at Kawai Purapura

Our Grove Modron, Pamela, was interviewed for an episode of Authentic You TV earlier this year. In this interview, Pamela talks about Druidry and the Grove of the Summer Stars.

It’s a great introduction to OBOD, our grove, and Druidry in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s well worth checking out if you’re interested in what our grove does, or to explain to others what your do!

Book Review: From the Cauldron Born by Kristoffer Hughes

Image: From the Cauldron Born
‘From the Cauldron Born: Exploring the Magic of Welsh Legend and Lore’ is actually the second book by Kristoffer Hughes. His first book, Natural Druidry, is out of print but still much sought after. The Cauldron Born is at its most simple, a book about the Myth of Ceridwen and Taliesin, it is a story that many within the Druidic and Celtic traditions are familiar with.  Its more complex edge, or what is different about this book, is how Mr Hughes writes and what he extrapolates from this myth. What is found within the pages of this book is very much Magic, Knowledge and Wisdom. You see Kristoffer Hughes is not just a Druid Priest, but he is also a ‘Pathology Technologist’ who works for Her Majesty’s Coroner. He has used this skill and training, of figuring out how and why a person died, to delve deep into the mystery that is the myth of Ceridwen, and the Mabinogion. But Mr Hughes goes further than this. Whether by design or not, this book is also teaching the reader – if they are willing to learn – to apply these various techniques to dissect and delve deeper into other mythologies and legends. In turn this deepens your own understanding and magical practice.

Kristoffer Hughes writes in an engaging way, which draws the reader on to the end of the chapter with ease and encourages the reader to participate in the various exercises. I did and found them most enjoyable. Kris has a wicked sense of humour and fun as well as a serious side, both of which are sacred and it is evident in his book. It made for great reading.

At the end of the book is a yearlong ritual meditation and practice. If you are an aspiring druid looking to expand on your OBOD gwers, or to deepen your work I highly suggest that you at the very least read this.  While they are simple exercises they have a depth to them which is inspiring.

While it is a northern hemisphere book, it is not too difficult to translate the correspondences for the southern hemisphere, and we are quite well practised at that. You may also need to find substitutes for some of the physical things required, but the research you put into this will deepen your understanding of place, and practice even more (well it did for me). And the extra good news is that this book has a follow on book, Celtic Magic, which so far is equally as good.

Do I recommend this book? A whole hearted yes!  This book is written in a very accessible way, while at the same time to the discerning reader many layers can be found. Put simply, this book has hidden depths. The novice may enjoy it, and somebody who has been walking their path for some years may also gain new insight and wisdom. These are often my favourite types of book, those that help you think and understand things from new and different angles.  Those that deepen your own magic and practice.

Having read Kris’s other books, Celtic Magic and The Journey into Spirit,  I can say that this is pretty much how the other two are written. From the Cauldron Born is a book about Druidry. It is about Magic, Myth and Cerridwen. It is about inviting Magic and Myth into your life and practice. It is about how you connect to your magic, your place and your land, and what that means to you. Read this book for yourself and see, but be discerning as always!

Personally, I give this book 5 awens out of 5.

-Polly Lind

 

Polly is an Urban Witch and Priestess who lives in the windy city Wellington, New Zealand.  For further writing from Polly, and to check out her latest crafts, try the links below.

Website: http://pollylind.com/
Etsy Store: https://www.etsy.com/nz/shop/UrbanWitchery

 

Podcast review: Druidcast

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As one of our first reviews on Podcasts we start with the OBOD podcast called DruidCast.

DruidCast is hosted by Damh the Bard. It comes out monthly and features songs, interviews and talks recorded at festivals. I am sure that we will feature posts about DruidCast in the future and some of us may like to include favourite episode suggestions in the comment section below.

However, I would like to bring your attention to Episode 03.

 

DruidCast Episode 03 was recorded way back in 2007 and it features an interview with Pamela on Druidry in the Southern Hemisphere, where she talks about the naming and beginnings of The Grove of the Summer Stars. It’s worth listening to if you weren’t around the Grove back then to gain some insight into our history. If you were around in the beginning, I am sure it will be of interest to remember how far we have come.
– Mary

Book Review: The Path of Druidry by Penny Billington

Image: The Path of Druidry

Image source: Llewellyn Worldwide

‘The Path of Druidry: walking the ancient green way’ by Penny Billington, is a complete course of study for those wanting to practice contemporary Druidry.

Penny shares her first hand knowledge, as an OBOD Druid, in clear conversational language with a hint of warm humour. The book is steeped in the Celtic mythology of the Mabinogion. Within each story Penny skillfully unlocks ideas that enlighten us to our humanness.

Each of the twelve clearly laid out chapters have a balance of thoughtfulness, theory and practical ways of trying out Druidry. To get the most from this book make the subtitle ‘walking the ancient green way’ literally and be prepared to get outdoors and explore. Even though Penny uses imagery from her home in Britain, I found it easy to relate the ideas in the book to New Zealand once I put my walking shoes on and explored her ideas in my local environment.

‘The Path of Druidry’ has plenty for everyone seeking to open their senses to the Druidic world of wonder while being thoroughly engaged at home, work and within their community. The book can be read by beginners who want a good foundation, and for those who want to expand their own familiar druidic practices. You are encouraged to delve deep into the treasure here.

-Dawn