In ancient times, a Sacred Grove was a place of sanctuary as well as a place where Druids worshipped. It was a place where the spirit was refreshed and where comfort could be given. Sacred Groves were often a quiet clearing in the forests and woods but modern druids often use stone circles high on the moorland for this purpose.
But druids also have a sacred inner Grove. This is also a place of peace and harmony where they can go at any time to gain inspiration and refreshment of the spirit.
Yesterday I found a leaflet published by Rutland County Council. They have produced a set of Heritage Trail leaflets. According to their information on the goddess figure it is a Sheela-na-gig.
It was hidden for many years, set as a stone in the threshold of the church doorway. It was discovered during renovation and placed in its current position. No-one seems to know anything else about it. The church itself is 12th century.
On Boxing Day some friends and I went to visit a goddess figure in the churchyard at Braunston in Rutland. No-one really knows much about this but the church is built on a mound which could have been a pagan site. Here is a photo of the figure together with my friends standing by it so you will get some idea of its size.
This weekend is the Straw Bear festival in Whittlesey. When I lived in Whittlesey, this was one of the highlights of the year. The story of the Straw Bear can be found at http://www.strawbear.org.uk
The small town will be filled with Morris dancers, Molly dancers, Sword dancers, etc. Here is the Straw Bear banner and a photo of the bear being ceremonially burned.
Druids celebrate eight festivals, spread fairly evenly throughout the year. The next festival is Imbolc on 1st February. This is a spring festival celebrating the awakening of the earth. I will write more about this nearer the time.
But there are already signs of spring around. Cherry blossom is blooming in the town centre, bulbs are appearing and I have plants in my garden that have flowered all through the winter months. Each morning I walk down my garden path looking to see what is happening. The flowering currant has beautiful buds and there are some wild flowers appearing, pink and yellow. I wonder what tomorrow will bring.
Here is another stone circle in Cumbria.
For me, I find druidry gives me a philosophy, a way of looking at things, a way which emphasises how everything is connected. It also helps me to look at ways of preserving our environment.
Another aspect of druidry is the way it allows you to get back in touch with Nature by working in special ways (More about this later)
Life is a journey and being a druid helps me to understand each part of this journey, the twists and turns of life, the challenges and the rewards.
Here is a photo of another special place in Weris, Belgium.
I am often asked about druidry and what it is. For me it is a way of establishing my connection with nature, of strengthening that connection and understanding how everything is connected.
So there is a connection with Mother Earth, the Moon, the Stars, the four elements; Earth, Fire, Water and Air; the seasons, animals,stones and plants.
This is a living system and so is my druidry, evolving and changing as needed.
Here is one of my favourite trees, a 300+ year old beech tree.