There is so much chaos in the world this week that I decided to do some gardening to get away from it all. I have quite a large garden but a lot of it is grass. The back garden is raised above the level of the house so it is easy to work in as I don’t really have to bend down.

I have weeded, moved plants around and generally got my hands dirty. There is something about working in the soil with plants which are growing and therefore alive. I talk to them and encourage them to grow and they have done. Most of my plants in the garden at the moment are perennials so grow every year and they spread too. It is good to see how much they have spread over the winter months and many are already flowering. What joy this brings to my heart.

I then decided to fork over a small patch near the bird feeder. I recently moved some plants here after splitting them. They seem to be settled are starting to spread again.. After I started digging the birds rushed off but then settled in the nearby hedge watching me so they could pick up any worms that appeared. So I had company for that part of my gardening work.

Then it was time to water as the ground was quite dry. I have a lot of plants in pots as well and they needed water too. My little greenhouse has some pots in it which also needed watering. Salad greens are sprouting as are the peas. I am looking forward to eating them later in the year.

But what joy and satisfaction I gained doing this work. I had worked with the element of Earth and then Water and Air was all around me. My inner Fire gave me the energy to do the work so a good day with the elements.

Here is a photo of one of the plants in my garden.

Finding the balance

We have just celebrated the Equinox, a time of equal day and night. I have been taking a look at what is in balance in my and our world and what is out of balance. Looking at myself first of all, I have noticed that some things are in balance while others are not. If we look at our emotional, physical and mental bodies, are they all in balance? I think my emotional and mental bodies are in balance but not my physical one so I must find ways to deal with this. Next I looked at how I spent my days.

I am retired so don’t have to go to work but I do spend a lot of time working, either writing, making music or writing music and doing art work. Of course these could be considered as leisure activities! But sometimes they can be very hard work as well. I try to find a balance between doing these things and resting, taking time just to sit and stare, generally at the garden. I have been watching the blackbirds building their nest. It is a beautiful nest but I don’t want to disturb them by getting too close so I have not taken a photo of the nest. But watching the birds is an important part of my day. There are many of them and many different ones even though each one seems to have a character of its own.

There are many other things to look at for balance, do we/I overeat? Do we/I drink too much? Do we/I get angry or sad? Both of these make you out of balance especially anger. I look at the world around me and find very little of balance there. Our world is in crisis and our leaders seem paralysed and cannot make decisions to do the right thing. They are too busy fighting amongst themselves and making sure they get plenty of money to look out for the environment and the people they serve. So trying to keep myself in balance is important. I hope you can all do the same. Surely if we ourselves can stay in balance it will influence our world.

Bardic skills?

During my work with the druid order I never thought of myself as a bard. I always thought I was more aligned with the Ovate work, healing modalities, working with trees and plants. But looking back at what I have done and still do in my life I am beginning to think about my bardic skills.

I have always been a musician, I learned to play the piano at the age of seven and still play seventy years later. In the early years of my teaching career I composed the music for songs for children and remember being interviewed on the local radio while the children sang.

Since I was at school I have always sketched or painted and still do. But what is new over the last 20 years is the fact that I now also write. I have written several books, some of poetry and some about druidry while others are about local and family history.

Looking back at some of the poetry I wrote about twenty years ago I see that much of it also carries a message. Around the year 1999 and also in 2000 I set some of the poetry to music and made a CD. I have been looking at that recently and seeing that I can do better now where the music is concerned so I am busy re-arranging the songs so they have a piano accompaniment. I am also looking at setting other poems to music.

To me these are definitely bardic skills even though I never thought of them that way before. So here is a poem taken from one of my books and a photo taken early this morning.

The hope of Spring

Watching the new spring leaves unfurl
Gives me hope in a chaotic world;
New growth springs from the dark
Of the winter and makes its mark.

Signs of growth are everywhere,
The birds and trees all doing their share.
So in this dark material world
Is there light ready to be unfurled?

Can we look inside our hearts today
To find a better more spiritual way?
To live without such ugly greed
And only have what we truly need.

We do not need large houses and cars;
We do not need to travel to Mars;
Some clothes and food and a rainproof roof
Are really, truly, quite enough.

So watch the new spring growth today
And think about a spiritual way
To live your life with love and care
And cherish all, if you dare!

Going back to the basics

I have spent some time this week thinking about the things I used to do, some of which I could still do if I put my mind to it. Our ancestors did lots of things for themselves, made clothes, grew food and so on. But how many of us do these things now. I was taught at an early age to knit and to sew. I can knit complicated patterns for sweaters and sew quite complicated patterns for clothes. When my children were very young I knitted all their jumpers and made many of their trousers, skirts and dresses. Even though I no longer do these things I can still sew a button on if it comes loose and I can still replace zips in skirts and trousers. I wonder how many of the young ones today can do that.

I also learned to bake cakes and pies and to cook nourishing meals from scratch, no ready meals were available when I was young. At least I knew what was in the cakes and pies I made and all meat was sourced locally. I still cook from scratch generally but occasionally have a ready made meal such as lasagne as it is a lot of trouble to make it just for one person. I used to be proud of the chilli pasta dishes I made in the past.

In the past there were Guilds for craftsman like silversmiths, cordwainers and so on. Many of those skills have been lost as machinery took over. Some are returning but they are seen as speciality items made with love and care and generally quite expensive to buy.

Is it lack of time that is the problem? Many of us work long hours and are tired when we get home so take the easy often where cooking is concerned. It is the same with sewing but that skill is returning due to TV programmes such as The Great British Sewing Bee. I still sew small things such as cushion covers and occasionally make myself a pair of trousers as they will fit better than bought ones.

So what has this got to do with druidry? My way of living druidry is a simple way so I feel I must make the effort to live simply as well. To me that means I should try to grow my own food as much as I can. There is something very fulfilling about watching your vegetables grow in pots and produce lots of fresh food for you to eat. The taste is so much different that the veggies bought in shops! I can make my own bread if I want to and again the taste of that is so good and I know what ingredients are in it. As for making clothes maybe I should look at my stash of material and start sewing again. My mother used to make rag rugs and I have inherited her ideas for these too.

Doing these things will also help the planet as I will not be using plastic or manmade materials at all. To me this is a large part of who I am as a druid. The photo is of my mother and her mother, my grandmother to whom I owe my skills of cooking, baking, knitting and sewing

My kind of druidry

I am often asked what I do as a druid. Every druid will give you a different answer so here is mine. For me it is a way of establishing a connection with nature, of strengthening that connection and understanding how everything is connected.

So I have a connection with Mother Earth, the Moon, the Stars and planets, the four elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water, the Seasons, animals, stones and plants and our Ancestors. In fact all that there is on our planet. This is a living system and so is my druidry, evolving and changing as needed.

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 for those who come after us. Another aspect of my druidry is the way it allows me to get back in touch with Nature by working in special ways.

Life is a journey and being a druid helps me to understand that and each part of the journey as it comes along, the twists and turns of life, the challenges and the rewards. Each morning I open the door and breathe in the new day. I eat my breakfast while watching the birds, the trees and all of nature in my garden. I live my life each day as a druid, noticing the connections and how amazing our world really is.

I do not need to do ceremonies to celebrate the seasons or other things as they are part of my daily recognition of changes when I open the door. I don’t need to wear a robe to tell me I am a druid. I might wear one if I am officiating at a handfasting or other similar event but I feel I do not need one otherwise. I am a druid and I know that and live each day in a druid way so no robe is needed.

I am sure many of you will think differently to me but that is fine. We are all unique and no two persons are exactly alike. My photo was taken in my garden and show the amazing colours that nature give us.