Forget ‘the environment’: Monbiot’s call for magic

George Monbiot challenges us in his article that we need new words to convey life’s wonders: “If we called protected areas “places of natural wonder”, we would not only speak to people’s love of nature, but also establish an aspiration that conveys what they ought to be. Let’s stop using the word environment, and use terms such as “living planet” and “natural world” instead, as they allow us to form a picture of what we are describing. Let’s abandon the term climate change and start saying “climate breakdown”. Instead of extinction, let’s adopt the word promoted by the lawyer Polly Higgins: ecocide.

“We are blessed with a wealth of nature and a wealth of language. Let us bring them together and use one to defend the other.”

His article goes to the heart of magical thinking, the type of magic that the corporate and political worlds have been using with such great effect against us by changing our consciousness to conform to their desires. It fits perfectly with Dion Fortune’s definition: “Magick is the art of causing changes in consciousness in conformity with the Will”, the Will in this case being the will of the corporations and politicians.

Estranging people from sacred nature of the living world took some serious magic. Calling places “Sites of Special Scientific Interest” insulates people from them, it objectifies their sacred nature. It allows people to become complicit in the ecocide, the climate breakdown and the murder of the living planet without them understanding at a conscious level what they are doing.

I want to write more about the need for a new religion soon, one that embraces the land, sea and sky as sacred, one that encompasses both Druidry and wider Pagan understanding. I want to explore that “change in consciousness” that the new age-ers have been talking about for the past 50 years.

The change in consciousness won’t happen by itself. You can’t expect 7 billion people to wake up one morning and realise that the Earth rather than their iPhone is sacred. It will require disasters such as the climate breakdown and the economic turbulence that peak oil brings plus it will need a heavy dose of thaumaturgic magick.

It is therefore not just a great challenge to come up with these new ‘frames’ but an essential one.

Let’s move from Sites of Special Scientific Interest to Sacred Sites of Spiritual Inspiration and subtly reframe corporate and political magic into enchantments that foster the right relationship between humans and the rest of the living world.

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Lughnassadh – reaping what we sow

Lughnassadh or Lammas. The time of first harvest, reaping what we sow. The cutting down of John Barleycorn to make bread. Loaf mass becomes Lammas. A time to store grain for next year too, making sure the cycle can continue.

As a tribe we reap what we sow. Last year we voted for Brexit only to find our European brothers and sisters start to leave the UK increasing shortfalls in professions such as nursing. Just as we leave the EU, so the EU will leave us.

Our actions have consequences. Just as planting the grain, harvesting and storing it ensure there will be a harvest in future years as well as food for this, so we must consider how maintain our vital services into the future.

We cannot simply buy in all our grain, food, computers, energy, etc. from other countries, especially if we have nothing to trade in return.

We need to produce, make and grow our own, be it grain or nurses. And we have to make sure we grow enough for our immediate needs but store some for future years too – both nurses and grain.

But we cannot isolate ourselves from our neighbours. They have always been part of our tribe too. I laugh at the racists who claim they are English with no idea about who the English are – descendants of the Danes but mixed with the tribes that were here before, the British, and the tribes that have arrived since, from just about every race and culture.

We must work with our neighbours, trade with them where there is mutual benefit to do so and always share understanding and support.

We may be an island with an island mentality that is bringing us the harvest called Brexit but we must salvage what we can from the ensuing storm and work out a way of ensuring that we can keep our vital services and businesses going into the future.


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Speaking out

Should Druids speak out on current affairs more often? I regularly listen to Though for the Day where Christians give 3 minutes of theology relating to a topical subject yet commentary from OBOD, BDO and TDN is quite rare despite the onset of the sixth mass extinction, climate change, etc. etc. – issues that should cut to the centre of our Druidic hearts.

Leadership and worship of the land, sea and sky are central to my practice of Druidry. For me worship is not simply about beating a drum and calling to the spirits, but it is also integral to every day actions. Action as ritual, ritual as action is the mantra from The Warrior’s Call who lead the Pagan fight against fracking.

I often get criticised for bringing politics into religion. I’m told it has no place there. Yet I look around and see Nature being decimated, the Earth being raped and people and animals suffering because of political decisions. How can we not speak out? How can we not discuss what should be done? How can we sit by and only talk about niceties?

Perhaps it is too painful to contemplate, the Earth taking her revenge on the species that has plundered her? Perhaps it is too easy to dream of wealth and fun, dreams that corporations enchant us with to maximise their profits? Perhaps it is a feeling of helplessness? Perhaps it is fear of the future? Perhaps it is a lack of a compelling future narrative?

If our religion is based on the worship of our Earth, a Nature spirituality, then we surely cannot sit by and let her be harmed? We surely must join The Warrior’s Call in her defence, join the voices of the Christian scholars who seem happy to speak out on social issues, and join the activists that are facing the corporate and political armies.

It is long past the time when we should speak out and we must speak now and we must speak loudly.


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it was 2am in the morning…

it was 2am in the morning
when I got in from the party
celebrating half a century of life
synthetic music
an era of rampant aggression and growth
alcohol fuelled conversations about cars and holidays
overweight conversations between overweight people
kids upstairs learning from parents
the cycle to rinse and repeat
the next cycle with more destruction and pollution
those great great grandchildren
not yet born
facing a future that that they will rue
because of adults stuck in adolescence
eternal youth without wisdom
worshipping the gods of greed
time to grow up
time to wake up
time to honour future generations
with a living planet
by living on one planet
with one planet living
by honouring our only planet
by honouring our mother
what will you do?

With blessings to Drew Dellinger


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i can’t sleep

Just been reminded of this and thought I would share it here:

it’s 3:23 in the morning
and I’m awake
because my great great grandchildren
won’t let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the earth was unraveling?

surely you did something
when the seasons started failing?

as the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?

did you fill the streets with protest
when democracy was stolen?

what did you do

The full poem by Drew Dellinger is here.

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Finsbury Park

I was pleased to see a statement of solidarity, albeit a very short one, from The Druid Network yesterday following the terrorist attack against Muslims in Finsbury Park.

Driving home last night, one commentator said that an attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths. We have to stand with people of other faiths, some of us will have experienced various level of discrimination and hatred towards our beliefs – this happens towards every faith and is one reason that I am keen on interfaith worth.

Recently I was in contact with my local Imam to offer a message of solidarity and I would encourage others to do the same. My non-Druid friends have had to do that very Druid thing of standing before an army to support our Muslim friends when the fascists have twice turned up outside the local mosque in the past 6 months. A huge act of bravery in the face of thugs – my only regret is that I didn’t arrive in time to stand with them.

As Druids we must show leadership against acts such as the London attack and a significant aspect of the this leadership is solidarity and love towards our brothers and sister who have been hurt.

May there be peace throughout the land.

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Three Druid actions in a dying world: responsibility, leadership and education.

The world as we know it that is dying. The planet will survive, life will survive, but it will be a tough future for those human and non-human animals (and those non-animals) that are around to experience it. So what can we do to lessen the pain?

JMG suggested that we should collapse now and avoid the rush. Simplifying life, reducing expenses to a bare minimum, growing our own food, getting out of debt etc. are all wise moves but is there anything else we should do? For me it is three connected things leadership, personal responsibility and education.

Firstly, eco and political activism require leadership. These are easy outside of a Druid context and I am always involved in a range of campaigns, but my Druidry gives me that sense of a whole picture, helps me join the dots and gives me that drive to carry on. It helps me really understand why I do what I do. It also motivates me – my commitment to the Earth and the gods drive me forward. I can’t rest or become exhausted while there are huge injustices and injuries to our fellow animals, plants or the Earth.

I think too that there is far more that I should do in terms of Druid ritual. I’ve led one small rite as part of the Warrior’s Call and I particularly like their mantra of Action as Ritual, Ritual and Action. I’ve led other occasional rites but I ought to do far more and seize opportunities to do these (it occurs to me that I missed an excellent opportunity last weekend).

Secondly, I lead a C21 lifestyle – it is almost impossible not to – but within that there are red lines that I won’t cross. These are the most polluting and destructive activities, for example I won’t fly or eat meat.  As an avid reader of John Michael Greer, there is a whole bunch of things that I toy with doing from his work on green wizardry and voluntary poverty explorations, its often very hair shirt though and doesn’t always go down well with my family!

But we are not going to lead a C21 lifestyle forever. Energy will become scarce in the future and those who are most dependent on it will suffer more than those who live on less. Learning the skills that our fathers and grandfathers had will see us well for the medium term and it will help preserve those skills so that we can pass them on too which leads us on to…

Finally education! Personal education, learning skills and how to cope but also teaching others. I was at a great Pagan festival last weekend and the workshops were superb: beekeeping, fire making etc. – real skills that society has largely forgotten but will be essential as things get tougher. We need to ensure that people can learn the skill they will increasingly need and that means that those of us who can, teach (and those of us who can’t, teach PE… to quote a great film ;-))

So my triad is complete… Druid actions in a dying world: responsibility, leadership and education.

Inspired by a discussion at The Druid Network

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