header new 11

PaganismZoroastrianism

Talk on Paganism given by Marianne Rohan on 17th January 2012

Christopher Lamb introduced Marianne Rohan and her friend Edith, Ed for short.   Thanks to the Warwick District Forum we have Marianne Rohan.

I’m Marianne

Basically we believe the Earth is our Mother and we are part of the mother and the mother is part of us and we’re part of nature and nature is part of us and there’s spirit is in everything.  There’s spirit in trees, the sun, other animals, the starts, the moon, and we’re all connected in a web of spirit and this is the life force of the universe.

Here is what one gentleman two thousand years ago said:

“In everything that is life is the law written. You find it in the grass, in the trees, in the rivers, in the mountains, in the birds of heaven, in the fishes of the sea; but seek it chiefly in yourselves.”

That’s from a gentleman who is connected with the Essenes of Qum Ran so it’s a two thousand year old definition of Paganism.

M> This is from the Essene Gospel of Peace Book One from codices found in the Vatican archives in 1923 and fractions found at Qum Ran in 1947 and 1956. The speaker is Jesus. I had not wanted to make a big discussion of this.

 Showing a figure of a goddess

The goddess, at one time, was the universal religion of the earth.  And some of the oldest religious artifacts are Goddess figures. This a reproduction of the Venus of Wittendorf, in Austria, said to be about thirty thousand years old. I can’t tell whether she’s just had a baby or is just about to have one. That’s a copy of a French one, known as the Venus of Lespurges and the original is said to be about twenty five thousand years old.

I was born into a family that was nominally? Christian, However, my mother’s father had been an Anglican priest in Cornwall and he was also one of the first to join the Cornish bards.  He joined in May 1928 and the Cornish Bards were reborn in 1927. At the age of ten I was a slightly peculiar child:  I took myself off to church twice on Sundays, by myself, and eventually got involved with the church choir and, at the age of twelve, I decided on a religious vocation: I worked hard at school; passed my ten O-levels and was studying for  five A-levels and was entered for an Oxford and Cambridge open scholarships. I was supposed to be quite bright in those days.  I was an official ordinand and I used to go and have tea with the Bishop three times a year and all that sort of thing.

And just after Christmas 1963 I went to Jesus College, Oxford for a week on a pre-selection conference.  This was a fairly high powered thing with the Archbishop of York and more doctors of divinity than I’ve ever seen in a room together since and the odd admiral sundry other good and great and various priests.  I had an argument with the priest about the role of women in the church.  I said "If a woman was the most virtuous and wise person surely she should be able to officiate. I got told, "If you can’t accept the word of the Lord you must have sinned.”  This was quite hurtful to me, a woman in my head. Then I was also having trouble studying the Old Testament.  Then on March 16h 1963 I woke up and the vision was gone:  my faith, my future career, my reason for studying, my purpose in life. I didn’t do very well with my A-levels.  The Headmaster withdrew me from the Oxford and Cambridge scholarship exams, writing to the colleges that I had had a nervous break down

I found it extremely difficult to study after that and I still do.  I still got offered a place at Pembroke college, Cambridge, but I didn’t take it because I didn’t think I deserved it. Even then I can remember I had a feeling that at some time I would get back to a faith of some sort, but I wandered round in the atheist dessert for nearly forty years after that. Then in ’99 I think it was, it suddenly came to me that we were part of the Earth, the Earth was part of us and somehow I formulated for myself the Gaian theory of Lovelock although I had not read Lovelock and Lovelock himself was an atheist. And I began to read about Goddesses and Druidry.

Originally a Hittite and Phrygian goddess, Cybele was a deification of the Earth Mother and was worshipped in Anatolia since Neolithic times. As with Gaia (the "Earth") or her Minoan equivalent Rhea, Cybele embodies the fertile Earth, a goddess of caverns and mountains, walls and fortresses, nature, wild animals (especially lions and bees).

One of the first I came across was Cybele, who was the Earth Mother of Anatolia and later of the Roman Empire, because she’d had transsexual priestesses to attend her. I came across her in a poem about Attis written by the Roman poet Catullus in 70 BC:

Attis with urgent feet treads the opaque ground of the Goddess,

his wits fuddled, stung with phrenetic itch,

slices his testicles off with a razor-flint,

sees the signs of new blood spotting the Earth,

knows arms, legs, torse, sans male members and

SHE ecstaticall snatches in delicate hands

the hand-drum of Cybele, the hand-drum of forest rites and Cybelele's torture,

with nervous fingers taps the hallowed hide,

shakes it an shaking summons the Mother's brood.

I looked into this and found trans-people had been priestesses of the Goddesses for six thousand years, including Ashereh, goddess of Canaan.

Then I decided in 2002 to go to the Goddess Conference in Glastonbury.

Shows another figure

It's origin is firmly rooted in medieval Christianity rather than it being some archaic survival of a goddess figure from antiquity. (down loaded from sheelanagig.org web site).

M > Yes, I know the figures are classified as mediaeval, but that does not alter my personal interpretation of the meaning of the carving and similar carvings which are found in various cultures. Images have the meaning one person puts on them and that may be entirely different from the intention of the original artist. I do understand that some people have difficulties with the use of any religious images, but then we were discussing my personal faith.

And on one of the workshops before the conference I went I went to Avebury and there, on top of the book case in the bookshop, I found my friend. Sheela-Na-Gig who gives birth to everything and to whom everything returns.  Lots of people think she’s from India or Africa, but, no she’s from the Anglican  church of St Mary’s, Kilpeck, near Hereford.  I had hysterics when I saw her, but she does stress the element of Paganism very succinctly.  Some people may not like her, but I do. So I took her home with me.  She’s a survivor:  she’s survived Henry VIII, Oliver Cromwell and the Victorians.

So I got very interested in the archeological and historical part of Paganism. As I had been going to read history so that’s not surprising.

Shows slide of Gobekli Tepe temple

Gobekli Tepe: The World's First Temple? | History & Archaeology ...

Predating Stonehenge by 6000 years, Turkey's stunning Gobekli Tepe ... Six miles from Urfa, an ancient city in south-eastern Turkey, Klaus Schmidt has made ... our time: massive carved stones about 11000 years old, crafted and arranged by ...  (found on web)

 

(down loaded from the smithsonianmag.org web site)

This is the oldest goddess temple building complex in the world. It’s  Gobekli Tepe in Turkey. It’s 11 and a half thousand years old.  These columns are fifteen foot high and if we go to the next column you can see some carving on there to a very high standard, which archeologists tell us nobody could do at the time, because obviously relief carving is a lot harder than just carving into the stone.  But, in one place there are two columns with lions on and there’s one in the middle with a goddess on and this is the goddess later known as Cybele, who later is shown in Rome in a chariot drawn by two lions and in Northern Europe she becomes the goddess Freya in a chariot  drawn by two big cats. So all this gives me an interest in the archeology and anthropology, and beliefs of our ancestors in Brigit's Isles.

Shows slide of Newgrange

The famous passage grave at Newgrange is contained within an oval mound with a diameter of around 300 feet. Along with Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, all located in the Boyne Valley near Drogheda, are perhaps the best known. Newgrange has been determined to be around 5100 years old (3100 b.c.) (Harbison 7). Other unexcavated mounds, mostly in the West, may also contain passage graves. Perhaps the best known of these is the massive one located on the top of Knocknarea, a mountain a few miles west of Sligo Town, which legend says contains the body of Queen Medb. This mound, like the passage graves of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth, is associated with the ruins of a number of smaller passage graves.

(Taken from the Archaeology of Ancient Ireland web pages)

This is Newgrange in Ireland, which is about five and a half thousand years old.  Ireland was fortunate in that it wasn’t conquered by the Romans and the English didn’t get over there until 1187 so lots of stuff survived in Ireland that didn’t happen in England.  That was it in the 60’s or 70’s when they did a restoration.  I’m not quite convinced that it looked quite like that.  You’ll see that above the entrance is like a window.  On the Winter solstice the sun shines down that channel right onto this triple spiral and it stays on it for exactly seventeen minutes and it’s still keeping good time after 5 ½ thousand years.

So Newgrange is part of quite an extensive complex of megalithic monuments in Ireland.  There’s Dowth and Knowth, Tara and lots of places and in Knowth they’ve found a stone map of Atlantis, which agrees with the map they’ve found in ancient Greece of Atlantis.  There’s also a stone with a astronomical calendar carved into it. They’re often dismissed by historians just as burial centres, but I think they’re more important than that. This is the triple spiral on one of the stones in the inner sanctuary. Triple spirals are used all over the world as a sign of the goddess.  It is very similar to the Hindu symbol (A-U-M or pranava).  I forget what it is called.

This is one of the oldest monuments in England, Stonehenge, I was there for the winter solstice in 2010 when it was all covered in snow and looked lovely.  I had to get there by 5 o’ clock in the morning and the sun didn’t rise till 8 o’ clock.

This is another famous place, Glastonbury Tor with the Pagan symbol of the labyrinth, cut into the hill, a symbol also found in Cornwall, Cumberland and in other places in the British Isles, I’m not quite sure of whether there was a circle on the top, but it’s certainly a very powerful place.  I don’t particularly like the tower up there because the last abbot was hanged on top of the tower, was hanged with two of his monks because they wouldn’t tell Henry the Eighth’s men the secrets of Glastonbury Abbey or where the special treasures were hidden.

Showing a tray holding alter symbols

Now most Pagan worship revolves round the four elements of Earth, air, fire and waster and the fifth element which is spirit or nature. If you see one of our alters you’ll see there will be something to represent Earth, something to represent air, water (that’s holy water from Glastonbury), fire and I use incense to represent spirits from nature. And that is a very similar set of things that you would find on a Hindu altar.

Now we celebrate eight major festivals of the year; the winter solstice, the summer solstice, the two equinoxes, Samhain which is you may know as All Souls Day and is the day when our ancestors in particular are remembered, which is very much like some Christian churches have a service for the dead that night. All the festivals used to be celebrated by the Christian Church and the Winter solstice is obviously the shortest day of the year and the Pagans used to carry on celebrating for a few days and after the third day the day was perceptively longer you know without artificial measuring instruments.  So the day of the 25th was the day of the return of the sun was celebrated.

Now we come to the next festival which is Imbolc, which some of you may know as Candlemas and that is the festival of Brighid, who is goddess of the Druids. Some stories say her ancestors came from Newgrange and others say that her father was a Druid.  And Kildare, in Ireland, there was a perpetual fire kept by nineteen priestesses and on the twentieth night it was left to the Goddess herself to keep the fire in.  And as we are approaching the festival of Imbolc, I have brought some of the things to do with Brighid's festival of Imbolc.

Shows items Bridie cross, Bridie eye and doll.

These represent some of the arts and crafts associated with Bridie, and these are great for teaching children. I didn’t think I’d like making these sort of things, but sitting in a room with other women sowing these  things in silence is quite therapeutic.

And then comes the Spring Equinox, also known by the name of the goddess

of that time, Ostara. You know it’s from Ostara that we get the Easter bunnies and the eggs and the mad March hares. Beltane which is May 1st-and that was a big fire festival and  the goddess at that time of the year is Rhiannon who doubled up as the goddess of love? Another goddess of Beltane is Blodeuwedd who is the goddess of flowers.  Then life cycle reaches the Summer solstice, and then Lammas, which is the first harvest. Mabon, which is the Autumn equinox and the second harvest of apples and the turnips and that sort of thing. Most Pagan groups start their year at Samhain. It didn’t make sense to me at first, but if you think of this as the beginning of the winter season it does make sense.

This is another sacred place in Glastonbury at the nearby Chalice Well, a place of pilgrimage for  Christian- Pagan- Buddhist and all sorts of people, the Chalice Well, which is now a world heritage peace garden.  There’s a walk in healing pool there, and the gardens are considered by some to be the English Lourdes. The nearby White Spring reservoir building (built in 1840 to provide a safe water supply to the people of Glastonbury, but never actually used) has been converted to a water temple with both a shallow healing pooling and a pool for total immersion. I was a bit nervous about going into this pool.

Picture of the main Altar in Glastonbury Goddess Temple

In Glastonbury we have what is probably the first new Pagan temple in Europe for quite a while.  The altar painting there is someone’s interpretation of the Lady Avalon.  There are also symbols on the painting, which also suggest Mary Magdalene and Mother Mary The temple is kept open seven days a week.  At the moment it’s only open four hours a day because of the problem of getting enough people  to mind the temple. Those who care for the temple are known as “Melissas”, a term meaning honey bee and first used as a name for everyday priestesses at the temple of Cybele in Rome.

We have also taken over what used to be St Benedict's church hall in Glastonbury which we use for the eight public festivals and for teaching.  In most Pagan groups the eight festivals of the year are open to anyone who wants to come.  The only time we really have closed sessions is if we are doing healing and that sort of work.

Picture of the Goddess parade in Glastonbury

Every year at the Goddess Conference, to celebrate Lammas, a wicker Goddess is paraded through the streets of Glastonbury. Quite a colourful occasion with two to three hundred slightly mad women. Some years we take the Goddess up the Tor.   Last year we took her down to the River Brue .

Showing picture of Pagan group at Avebury

This is a group of Pagans dressed in everyday clothes.

Not everyone wears funny dresses, but I like to wear the dress I had made for my dedication  when I am involved in ritual or I am speaking. I wear it to show openly that I am Pagan and a Pagan priestess. Priestesses and priests don’t have any power above anybody else: everybody should be able to get to the same spiritual level, but I’m prepared to put my head above the parapet and be counted.  Whereas lots of people are quite scared to be out in public They’re scared they’ll lose their jobs.  We had one girl in Glastonbury.  She was a solicitor for the Crown prosecution service and there was a picture taken of her dressed as the goddess Blodeuwedd with garlands and a crown of flowers.  This got printed on the cover of the Sunday Times magazine and she lost her job as they couldn’t take her seriously as a solicitor after that.  And teachers have lost their jobs, there was one, last Autumn 2002, who wrote an article in a magazine called Pagan Dawn under their religious name.  They got dismissed for bringing the school into disrepute.  People like OFSTED and that take a very dim view of it. I registered as a child minder in 2004 and they the inspector asked me where I would change a baby. So I said I’d always change a baby in the middle of a double bed, because you can sit there and you’ve got room to spread everything They saw my altar and said Oh dear! And they withdrew my approval and I had to take the case  to a tribunal. I got their notes, under the freedom of information act, and there was a comment "There are scuff marks on the entrance to the roof space.  What’s going on up there?” I won in the end subjected to three sessions with a consultant psychiatrist, which must have cost them £500 but she couldn’t find anything wrong with me.  This is the sort of prejudice that some Pagans experience.

Now viewing image of Druid Rites being performed at Avebury showing a stone with bound hands carved on it.

That was a handfasting at Avebury. You can see it here with the two hands still tied together.  The church still does this. Well the Church of England does anyway, because they wrap the stole around the hands.

Q. Who is the gentleman in his white robes?

That’s one of the Glastonbury order of Druids. The bridegroom and best man are also in white robes.

Q. But does that satisfy legal requirement for marriage?

No, not in this country.  In Scotland we can perform legal handfastings which count as marriages, but in this country we can’t. In Scotland there’s the Scottish tradition of the blacksmith at Gretna Green.

Handfasting is for a minimum of a year and a day on the first occasion, which is like an old fashioned engagement. You then go back and renew it for another year and a day or until the children have left school or whatever.

Q.  Not for life?

Well it depends what sort of a vow people want to make.  If they don’t want to make a commitment for life isn’t it better that they make a commitment till all the children have reached a certain age or something or something like that?

Now showing picture of Glastonbury

Now this is another place at Glastonbury called Bridie's Mound. There was a small monastery or abbey there and St Brigit is said to have been there. It’s also know as Little Ireland because of the number of Irish monks and nuns associated with spot. In Kildare where the flame of Brighid was kept alight for so many years, I mean it was alight for well over a thousand years until Henry VIII put it out. And in ‘93 the Brighidean nuns rekindled the flame and they’ve kept the flame alive ever since.  And the lady with the green skirt is Sister Mary Minehan, who brought the flame over from Ireland. I now keep the Brighid flame. I have a candle which is lit from a candle that was lit in Kildare.  The spirit of the flame is said to reside in the wick once lit from a sacred flame and the spirit of the flame is rekindled when we light it, so we can pass it on, and I keep it every Wednesday from dusk to dusk.

Now showing thorn tree

This another interesting point at Glastonbury.  This is the holy thorn of it’s said to be  grown from the staff of Joseph of Aramethia. It’s actually planted on a power point in the earth which is at the intersection of the Michael and Mary ley lines. Unfortunately in December of 2010 vandals took a chain saw to it. The Glastonbury holy thorns flowers twice a year in December and May and pieces of it are usually sent to the Queen at Christmas.  There were another two holy thorns were attacked at the same time and a week ago the holy thorn that was in the Chalice Well gardens blew over in a gale. You can see my little friend, Bridie doll in the branches.  We took our Bridie dolls for a walk after we’d made them.

Showing a chestnut tree

This is in Stoneleigh, in Warwickshire. This is an old tree, a sweet chestnut tree that’s died and there’s a new tree growing in the middle of it and we use it as an alter sometimes  for celebrations because it’s a very good example of death and rebirth  and this chestnut grove is in danger from that wretched high speed train.

Showing an alter

This is another impromptu alter.  It has generally an apple, which has a pentacle in the middle when you cut it across.  Pagans that have been a member of the fest for just one year.

Showing painting of Brighid

That’s another painting of Brighid as a midwife (she’s got a little baby in her hands), Sun goddess and goddess of crafts.

Another slide

And that’s the Japanese sun goddess Amaratsu, she’s also got a baby.  The same sort of theme in goddesses runs throughout the world. This is the Hindu equivalent of Brighid, called Savasrati.

Pagans are all individuals. Some like a Druid identity.  I talk about goddesses, but many Pagans don’t.  They just talk about the spirits of the Earth and Nature and they have no need to anthropomorphosise it, but me, being a little bit simple, I find I have trouble contemplating infinity and the eleven dimensions of string theory.  I find it easier to have symbols.  Many Pagans do it all on their own.  They don’t belong to groups.  We call them hedge- witches.

I think that’s given you a little bit of a flavour of things Pagan.  The group I belong to are very involved in healing work.  We sometimes will have several people doing a healing ceremony for one person and that seems to be quite powerful. as the group concentrates on studying Nature.  It’s everybody’s, individuals’ responsibility to get as close as they can to the spirit, the goddess, whatever you like to call it.  We have no sacred books.  We don’t need them, because all the laws of creation are in every living thing.  And by studying Nature, the stars and so on.  We say we have one rule, apart from loving the  Earth as our mother, one rule is doing no harm.  We don’t need volumes and volumes of laws.  Every decision you should test yourself. O.K. on some occasions it will be a choice between two levels of harm.  You know, nothing’s ever simple. You can apply that rule. I don’t know that people take the tenet of by the rule, Do no harm or at least do the least harm. O.K. you might get it wrong occasionally, but if you think pouring poison into a river.  That river goes into the sea. Fishes eat it. We eat the fishes. So we do ourselves harm don’t we. I’m quite sure we can apply that rule to everything and I think if everybody felt like that life here on Earth would be a lot better.

Most of our laws now are contract laws and the big books of law are all a means of control, but we don’t need those in the fundamental creed of the Pagans and Druids are enough.

Any questions?  Or comments?

You mention Hedge witch, but that implies that there is some sort of a link or an affinity between what we, rather naively might call witchcraft, white witches and Paganism.

Well Paganism and Druidry displays goddess worship of various forms of nature, Earth based spirit worship. Some people practice spells and divination and things like that, but generally we will never do anything that does harm to anyone.  Most of what is popularly thought of as witchcraft or paganism according to Hollywood is a travesty.  It’s not us. In fact a lot of us  goes back to the Sabatean heresy which is 17th century where some people came up with the idea that there were two ways of ensuring the return of the Messiah one was   by everyone being good and the other was by everyone being very evil so that so that He had to come back and they decided it was easier for everyone to be evil.

I don’t know how many of you remember the so called case of the Paganism in the Orkney's the 1990’s.

Shows a Pagan symbol

Now all the people there had a black resin reproduction of that and that was the soul thing for saying they were engaged in Satanic practices.  Can anybody tell me what that is?  It’s a Celtic bronze that was on the cover of a 7th century psalter and that is what caused the 19 children to be taken into care and those families being destroyed by people being completely ignorant.

Q. You speak about the spirits inhabiting natural things.  A number of religions have a sense of evil spirits, that there are good and evil spirits.  How do Pagans deal with the moral quality of the spirits?

Evil is a very difficult concept.  Lots of Pagans don’t think there is any such thing, but by doing thing that do harm we build up a bad vibration in the Earth.  If we do good, we are happy we build up a good vibration in the Earth. And you can change the course of history if enough people have a good vibrational level.  This is why the powers that be are so interested in frequencies.  This is why they changed the frequency of A from A = 435 Hz to A= 440 Hz. By changing that it produces a more martial feeling in people from the more natural scale they’ve done at 435.  There are all sorts of things like this that doing anything that harms the Earth if you like, is an evil, although lots of us would not call it evil, but doing harm to the Earth is our equivalent of evil.

But the spirits are not neutral

No, but I expect we’ve all gone into a house and thought ooooo!. I don’t like this place. It’s evil and gone into another house and Oh! I feel good in this place.  So by building up good vibrations or bad vibrations you can affect things.

But obviously you don’t believe in hell.

Well heaven and hell are here on Earth. If we do a lot of harm we create a hell. If we do a lot of good we create a heaven.

Q.        What about after death?

Obviously at death the spirit of the person leaves them.

When my mother died at the woodland burial; she’d been quite happy about life She loved nature.  She loved watching squirrels and birds.  She was quite happy to leave her spirit in a tree feeding all these creatures.  There was a nature programme on radio 4 where they counted over 800 kinds of flora and fauna dependant on one oak tree.  You know lots of people would be quite happy to think of their spirit in a tree.   Whether a spirit comes back into another body I don’t know, but certainly I think we can connect with our ancestors.  In that way a spirit doesn’t die.  When Clive Bond was doing the excavations of the abbey in the trenches he and other people tried to communicate with the monks and people who had been there and they got quite a lot of information and all the information that he got and they dug in those trenches they found wolves and so on.   And somehow spirits don’t exist after death.  Until we go there I don’t think we can ever know.

Some people believe they have past lives.  This may well be true, but, at the moment, we can’t prove that it is so and Pagans study because the more we know the more we know we don’t know.

Q.        Presumably a lot of Pagans have been through the process of being called up to do national service.  Do they take the position of conscientious objection to that?

Some will do. Yes.  I mean defending your homeland and house is one thing, but going to attack another country like Libya or Iraq or Afghanistan is a totally different matter isn’t it.  But defending your family and land from invaders is one matter, but actually going in and attacking other people’s homes and land is a totally different matter.  I mean obviously we have no rule, but I can’t see many real Pagans being happy with attacking another country.  I mean I thought, I missed National service by two years, but I did wonder what I’d do if I had to go and I decided I’d apply for the medical corps and work with the Quaker conscientious objectors and I would say the majority of Pagans would agree almost entirely with the Quakers position on that and I do know also of Pagans who are Quaker Universalists.

Q.  We were talking about lay lines? and some being very holy places And you also talked about the good vibrations.  Is there a sense that----------?

Yes.  I think they do. And I think you can change the vibration of energy itself.

Some people call it exorcism.  With happy feelings you can change the feeling of a place.  If you go into some church hall and all they’re ever used for is-------?           And they have quite a low vibrational energy.  You go into another church hall where they have play groups and happy clappy Sunday school and that and the energy level is different. You go into another and you do get a wonderful feeling of peace and you go into others and you’re not quite sure of the atmosphere.  I think it’s the same with lots of buildings. There are some office buildings that are very, very thick.

You mentioned Michael and Mary lay lines.  Explain a little more about             that.

Well there are two ley line that goes from Lands End, goes through St Michaels Mount, through various places in Devon, through Avebury.  In Avebury they cross in the centre of the four rings that they call the sanctuary, which is opposite--------? Then it goes on to Glastonbury. The first crossing in Glastonbury is where the Mary chapel of the abbey is. Then it crosses twice on the tor the place I know best is on the side of the tor. In some place the lines can be miles or more apart. Then it goes on Royston in Hertfordshire, Bury St Edmunds and the coast.

Q.        And these are lines of power?

Energy yes, the Michael line is the male line and the Mary line the female and the churches that are along the route, if they’re on the Michael line they tend to be called St Michael’s church and those on the Mary line are called St Mary’s church.  And I took the dowsing rods up the torr, because I was a bit skeptical and they actually worked. They found the lines and I was walking with my eyes closed trying not to make them cross and I did actually feel the energy. I felt the energy in the centre of the sanctuary at Avebury. It originally had wooden posts round it, which were eventually replaced so that actually there’s an enormous amount of concrete there, but putting my hands over the centre stone I had an electric shock.

Q.        something about the power at Stone Henge

When you feel this energy you really do feel them.  I’ve got some of the dowsing rods that -----------

One of them felt locked onto one of the stone at Avebury.  These forces do exist  in the Earth’s crust I’m quite convinced of that. And I think the Druids and those sort of people could actually channel that energy If we go to Kildare the round tower of the Kildare cathedral,  all these things are connected. In some places there’s a ----------? In the church yard which was obviously the focus of the energy in the earth on

And lots of ancient churches are built on these patterns.  If we look at Wells cathedral there’s a power crossing where the font was, where the higher alter was and in the centre of the chapter house. And the ancient Druids and the professors of old did know a lot.  A Guy named Tomms who had been a professional surveyor spent his retirement going round surveying all the same places and he found they all expressed elements of sacred geometry and he produced measurements from them one of the measurements was called the

Megalithic lark, which was 6ft 8in.  All these ancient, in Britain and North West Europe, were built according to these measurements. And about 1200 BC that measurements, the megalithic arc turned up in Crete as the fathom And the Greek story is that the Apollo came from the Peredes?, which was North West Europe or the British Isles could have been an Irishman

The mother in some stories lived on the Tor in Glastonbury.  There was a lot of hidden science in these ancient stories and that was transferred into the early church because the Calde? or ancient Celtic Christian church lived in perfect harmony with the Druids.  It was only when Rome tried to take over that there started to be problems and Romans invaded in AD43 and according to -------? the Druids were the Al Quida of the day because they were the educated middle class ------------?

Tell us something about the Charity Commissioners

Over the last ten years or so Paganism has almost become respectable.  Quite a few bodies have tried to get charity status in the 1980’s and 90’s.  If we go back to 1951, which was the last repeal of the witchcraft act, it wasn’t against witchcraft. It was against impersonating a witch.  Witchcraft didn’t exist, but they were pretending it did and that was repealed in 1951 and Druids and Pagans and goddess worshippers have gradually been crawling out from under the hedges and the groves because Paganism has never gone away.  It was practised in the church.  It’s only since 1945 that the Pagan element of Christianity, which was evident specifically in country churches, has disappeared from the scene. The church accepted that it had become respectable when the tent at Glastonbury was registered as a place of worship in 2003.The statement that was in some papers reads:

"We believe in the great goddess who is one of the many who is imminent and transcendent, personal and impersonal, constant and changing, local and universal, within and without all creation, who manifests herself through the cycle of seasons and the wheels of the year.  We believe that the goddess manifests a community herself through the whole of nature and the state of land, through visions and dreams senses and experience, imagination, ceremony and prayer.  We believe that those forms of words can be-------?

Then the next legal advance came in 2006 when a Pagan oath in court could add on to the affirmation “By all that I hold that I hold sacred I do solemnly and sincerely declare.” This was an advance for the situation with a witness in court. I wrote to the Lord Chancellor in about 2002 and got the usual sort of reply,

”Can’t understand your problem. What’s wrong with the affirmation?”

And then in September--------?The Druid network, that is based in Whichford near Shipston, actually got the Druid Network accepted as a charity. Up to 1995 there was no definition of religion in the charities act.   In 1995 they put a definition in the charity act of that year. And their definition was, this was when they registered the Church of Scientology, and their definition of a religion was, “A belief in a supreme being, the worship of a supreme being and the principles and doctrines of belief, which are neither immoral nor illegal.”  Now in 2006 they issued another version of the charities act and various Druids and other Pagans were involved in the consultations.  I believe Amoritsor was involved and various other Druids were involved and got it changed to “Belief in God or gods or goddess or goddesses or supreme beings or divine or transcendental beings or entity or spiritual principal, which is the object or focus of the religion referred to as the supreme being or entity.  A relationship between the believer and the supreme being or entity by showing worship of, reverence for or veneration of the supreme being or entity a degree of cogency, cohesion, curiousness? and involvement, an identifiable, positive, beneficial, moral or ethical framework”.  Which is as good a bit of gobbledygook

I love the work that had to be done by Emma and various other people to try and convince the powers at the charity commission that Druids were serious people.  They just couldn’t conceive of a deity in the form that we believe in although they have their Hindus and Buddhists as a religion and if you strip away the structure of Hinduism it’s basically Paganism and in Buddhism the object is to reach unity with the spirit of the universe isn’t it?

All look at the one Buddhist there who said, "Yes in a manner of speaking”

But you don’t have a supreme being.  In that sense it’s very much, I believe, in sympathy, because Buddhist, technically, belief in doing no harm as well; different paths to the same end.

So they had to be convinced of the seriousness of Druidism and that took the a long time.  The judgment of the charity commission was 21 pages. I don’t think you would want me to read all.

A complicated way of saying yes wasn’t it?

They decided that Druids did have a charitable, public purpose, that we did things for public benefit like open ceremonies, education, involvement in environmental projects and so forth.

To provide information on the principles and practices of Druidry for the benefit of all and to inspire and facilitate that practice for those who have committed themselves to this spiritual path.

And the advancement of religion for inspection who to be of the description of presences of the 2006 act, which was-----------?

a) A religion that

i) a religion that involves the belief in more than one god and a religion that does not involve belief in a god.

And so they go on and on and on.  The important thing is that now it has been registered as a charity, which will make it very much easier for other Pagan/Druid groups to get registration as a charity, which is important If we want to raise money to save a piece of woodland or restore a holy well or something like that.  Some Druids and Pagans were very much against getting official recognition because we are square pegs in a round hole.

This would enable you if you wanted, to own property and buildings for example. Would Pagans want to do that?

Well property, Glastonbury they did go into trying to register as a charity, but it was so difficult that they decided for the private company limited by guarantee.  Ideally they speak to the inspectorate/administrator about the process they came to because it hadn’t made clear to him about marrying and that.  Now that it’s changed to a charity I’m hoping that they will agree to change the temple to a charitable state because we don’t really like to use a place for religious worship as a place that’s a private corporation.  You know it seems to go against all that we stand for.

Is it known, more or less, how many Pagan groups there are?

No. There was a question on the census and we were on the 2000 census form and they only counted people if they said Pagan.  If you were Druids or Goddess or whatever you weren’t counted so this time there was a campaign to say Pagan/Druid, Pagan/Goddess, Pagan/ Witchen but I don’t know how many. I would guess the number’s going to be about half a million, but there’s still a great many who didn’t answer that question because a lot of people objected to the census being conducted by Lockheed Martin, which is a manufacturer of instruments of death.  And I know people who refused to fill in the census form because or refused to put anything more than their name.  They thought it was wrong.  They didn’t think the information would be confidential.  If you give it to an American company you’d expect it to become the property of the American Intelligence Agency, as are patent data, all your amateur book lists are all your Google lists are. There’s a paper financed by a company that was hounded by the CIA.  It was all part of this  information gathering thing.  That’s why lots of people didn’t put information in on the census, so we’ll probably not know how many there are.

Some people say they are atheist, but when you talk about the spirit of the earth they say oh yes that makes sense.

We don’t know how many Pagans there are, obviously Pagan Quakers, Pagan Christians, I know of a Christian Druid network, there’s a Christian Wiccan network and so on.  So those people would put themselves down as Christians, but they’re also Pagans.  I don’t see that one thing necessarily excludes the other

It seems to be very much a rural, country, loving activity.  The thing that springs to my mind is that over this decade, centuries there’s been an increased urbanisation of the world.  You mention that the high speed train is going through something that’s important to resolve.  How do you cope with that in a modern world with growing towns where the majority of the population lives in an urban environment now?

Well I live in Leamington and my friend here lives in Coventry.  It doesn’t stop you going out into the countryside and having a walk or walking in the memorial gardens in Coventry or the Jeffson Gardens and talking to the trees there.  It is possible to follow a Druid Pagan, path in a city.  It’s harder.

You have your little, old Druid in your house.  You try to have your house made of natural materials. Many Pagans follow a vegetarian or vegan life style. We try.   I think it is important that as many people do try because if we Act together we will change the vibrational atmosphere of the Earth.  In some respects we’re a bit like the crew of an ocean racing yacht.  When it tacks we all have to rush from one side to the other.  I think we have to be a bit like that.

We don’t all have to eat the same things, but if all translate the vibrational energy I think we can succeed.  Really we shouldn’t have any conflict with anybody with any other faith.  I think deep down most of the other faiths agree with our principles. They want to go about it a different way, but if everyone loves the Earth whatever you call it and starts to do no harm I think we’re all on the same level on different paths.

We believe we all have to do everything ourselves. We haven’t got a book of rules

How prominent is the word nature and in special, natural materials, they’re all natural. They’re more or less processed. They all come from the Earth in the last resort/

This is true, but man has to give materials that are much in sympathy with   the Earth?

I don’t know what that means.  Genetically modified food, food stuffs?

They’re not natural.

We’ve been breeding animals for centuries.. 

Yes, but that’s by natural selection.

It’s not natural selection.  It’s man made selection. 

Yes, but we’re not trying to actually interfere with DNA, which you are genetically modified organisms. You’re taking the DNA of one organism and putting it in the middle of another organism

But we share DNA physically. It’s not different genes.

Genetically modified organisms are destroying the Earth.  The yield was supposed to increase to increase for two or three years, but after that the yield decreases, because the organisms in the earth that produce humus and so on are killed.  Genetically modified food will cause massive starvation.

The most productive form of agriculture is organic, small scale farming.

You won’t get people doing that

You will.

Let’s move on to human genetic engineering, It does seem to me. It does seem possible to remove genes, which bring hereditary diseases to people.  Now this is also interference, if you will, with the nature of the body.  I see it as just an extension. It may be misused in some cases 

Well it is misused.  This is science for profit at the moment.  It’s not done for the benefit of humans.  It’s done solely for the profit of the big corporations. It’s not done for the benefit of the Earth or the benefit of humans.

Very true.

There’s a book on the subject that most Pagans feel quite happy about. We’re getting into a state where we’re losing contact and experience of the natural world and we’re paying for it.

It’s as bad as my point about urbanisation and the population of the world has increased hugely in the last hundred years so people have got to be housed and they’ve got to be fed. I mean that’s why the world itself has created the thing that it’s created to sustain its population.  It will peak at ten billion.  Indeed it’s said that. 

Yes, I mean population is quite a different subject.  We’re now looking at people who are being born now, particularly in the United States, are going to have a shorter life expectancy than their grandparents because their--------? are increasing.  In the 1920’s the American army dentist did an experiment on cats to try and his interest was to find what food keeps us fit and strong and cats were used because you can get several generations quite quickly. and he fed one lot of cats all on cooked, dead food and the other on raw food.  Within three generations the group fed on cooked, dead food started to have fertility problems, their penis elongated, because their bones were less dense and by the fifth generation their fertility was right down and this is what’s beginning to happen to humans their fertility is right down, because they’re not eating real food.  They’re eating junk manufactured in a factory

------? have a holiday and they get together and they worship beer? Do they?

Yes, well we have our big festivals and we also have our celebrations on the new moon and the full moon.

How often is that?

Well there are thirteen new moons and thirteen full moons in a year so that’s twenty six plus our wheel so that’s thirty four festivals a year.

Almost once a week

Yes, but if a festival comes near the full or new moon we obviously combine the two.  We have a festival at least once a fortnight.

I hope I’ve been interesting.

Applause

Rev. Christopher Lamb sums up:

I think it’s fascinating.  You’ve opened up all sorts of things here touching on huge issues as we were aware at the end of the conversation-------?

We shall be looking for links in other traditions where there are real overlaps, Well perhaps we can let people have a look at the things your friend has here.

 

End of recording

Philip Morris 4.2.2012

Copyright © 2017 Stratford on Avon Interfaith Forum
Website by Sites in Mind