Review of my 2018

What a year it has been! Despite all the depressing and, quite frankly, rage inspiring bollocks from politics around the world, and the growing problem of plastic and climate change around the world, etc., etc., here in this little part of the world, at my home on the edge of the heath near the North Sea, it’s not been a bad year.

Hedge Druid CoverI finished the Big Book of Druidry (as I like to call it) and it was a labour of love. So much work went into that volume, and I hope that it reaches people like The Awen Alone did. I received so many emails from people about The Awen Alone this year, so many wonderful and life-changing stories, and I am so grateful that people took time out of their busy lives to write and share their story.

I also started on another book, veering away from Druidry and into the realms of the Hedge Witch. Stay tuned!

All this writing, combined with an incredible heat wave over this summer, meant that I was much more sedentary that usual, which has resulted in a sluggish body and a few extra pounds that I can feel in my joints. So, this last month I’ve already started to be more active, doing yoga and going for 5k walks as often as I can, and already I can feel my strength returning. I will be teaching intermediate belly dance classes beginning the second week of Jan, so this will also add to my physical activity. I resolve to keep this up over the next year, to be a healthy and as active as I can be, and to enjoy the beauty of nature right outside my doorstep no matter what is on my plate, or whatever the weather.

While writing the new book I’ve felt a shift in my own practice as well. I feel a returning to the path of the witch, where it all started for me 25 years ago at Melange Magique when I was a 19-year old investigating the book shelves of that wonderful shop, in between fussing the cats that freely roamed the aisles and lay upon the counters. With a lot more experience and knowledge behind me, it has given it an entirely new flavour. I have always been a witch, but I had to study to become a Druid. This is the basis for the current work I am writing, which I hope to finish next year.

It’s also led me down side paths that again were explored many years ago, but never fully completed. I’ve felt a call to honour the Germanic and Scandinavian deities that are a part of my heritage, and so my research and practice into the culture, folklore, mythology and more has been re-awakened. While looking at some witchcraft practices for East Anglia to use as examples in my new work, I realised just how similar some of these were to those of north and western Europe, such as the practice of a high seat in seidr. In fact, the art of seidr has intrigued me greatly, and I feel that this will complement my own practice of hedge witchcraft nicely.

Druid College UK logo (194x114)Druid College continues to be successful, and due to a high demand for online courses, next year we are putting Year 1 on hold in order to create an online course. This will consist of video and audio material, a downloadable book and online meetings with others on the course. We hope to have this available by 2020, fingers crossed! Our current Year 2 students are doing so very well, and it is indeed a great pleasure to be working alongside such people. After each weekend session, as soon as I get in the car with Robin, we both say how wonderful the people are that have chosen to work with us, and how blessed we are by those that have chosen to join. They bring so much, and I am eternally grateful that these first four years have been as good as they are, which is to say, brilliant!

There have been a few bumps in the road this year, which have given me lessons of experience to work from in the rest of my life. Having to say goodbye to my 16-year old cat last December was so very hard, to make the decision to end her life rather than have her suffer days or weeks of pain as her chest was filled with water due to congestive heart failure and she had trouble breathing, eating, walking, movement of any sort. That was the first time I had to make that kind of decision, and  although I doubt it will be any easier should there be a next time, and it took a long time for me to get over it even though my baby girl passed quickly and painlessly, I know it was the right thing to do in that situation. I suffered all winter long from having to make that decision, and my new boy Barnabus was a ray of light during that troubled time.

bullying-1As well, I had a difficult experience of another sort, when a peer decided to attack me on social media after I had contacted her to request permission to use two verses of an Irish poem she translated. To this day I still have no idea what set her off, but the vitriol of the attack was shocking, and the attempt to destroy me and everything I do quite mind-boggling. It brought back old pains of bullying when I was a child, and affected me on a physical level as well as mental. I realised this when I was walking down my street to the village shop, and in the middle of the street my heart started pounding and I felt very unsafe, like bullies were just waiting around the corner. I had to remind myself that I was 43 years old and no longer a young teenager, and no one was going to physically hurt me. It opened my eyes to the old scars that never truly heal, and I have learned how to better deal with such experiences. Namely, don’t read posts like that on social media, don’t get involved and don’t read all the uninformed comments either! Let the haters hate, there’s not much I can do about their behaviour anyway. As long as I am physically safe, and emotionally okay with a good support network of family and friends, that is what really matters, not what strange people say.  I’m still working on compassion for people like that though. It’s not easy.

seidr album coverBack to the creative front, I hope to add more to my Bandcamp page over the next year. I started an album called Seidr, which will contain the songs and chants that come to me in my work over the next year. Perhaps there will even be a blog post or two about the practice of seidr, but in the meantime there is an excellent video by Professor Jackson Crawford on the subject. (I have a total nerd crush on this guy!) There are also some good books, such as The Nine World of Seid-Magic by Jenny Blain, and The Norse Shaman by Evelyn Rysdyck. I also hope to record more podcasts for the page and its subscribers, as well as record the audio book for The Hedge Druid’s Craft. The Awen Alone and The Crane Bag are already on there as audiobooks, so do take a look if you’re interested. All of these will be/are available to subscribers, as well as any new material in the coming year, so you really do get your money’s worth!

So, for this winter I shall be investing heavily in hygge, being more physically active, exploring new paths and learning from past experiences. I hope that 2019 will be a good year for you all, and see you all in the New Year!

Love,

Jo. x

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Escaping…

Right now, I’m in “book jail”, as Jhenah Telyndru so wonderfully describes it: when you are working so hard on a project, and it’s pretty much all that you can think about. I’m currently working on my 7th book, and this one’s a big one for Llewellyn Worldwide.  However, today I thought I would get out and check on the progress of autumn in my area, because before you know it, it will pass you by! Sometimes it’s just nice to do something different creatively, so…

Here are some of the moments, captured on camera.

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A quiet moment in the beech wood…

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A crow going to join his mates…

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This year’s youngling!

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A proud mama…

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The last of the heather…

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A majestic hawk…

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A moment with the Old Oak

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The incredible autumn skies…

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Going for a canter…

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Harvesting the carrots

Wonderful news!

A lovely thing arrived in the post this afternoon – my fully signed contract with Llewellyn!  It’s an honour and a pleasure to write for this publishing company. My very first book (Scott Cunningham’s Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner) started me on my journey down the Pagan path around 25 years ago. Since then, many Llewellyn volumes are displayed proudly on my bookshelf, and in 2019 my book will be joining them!

More details to come, but for now, that’s all that I can say 🙂

20 Things You May Not Know About the “Zen Druidry Lady”

Some things you may not know about the “Zen Druidry Lady” 🙂

 

  • I spent my spare time in my youth figure skating at the ice rink at the end of my street all winter long
  • When I wasn’t figure skating, I was cross-country skiing or downhill skiing
  • I know all the lyrics to pretty much every Taylor Swift song
  • I know the entire script of Jim Henson’s movie, Labyrinth, by heart
  • I played the head of a pirate nation in a Live Action Role-Playing system
  • I was also an elf in another LARP system
  • I began writing my first book when I was fourteen
  • I only have an automatic, not manual driver’s license (but I can drive/operate a tractor with bucket)
  • I used to ride a Yamaha Xmax before I got my driver’s license
  • I was a volunteer and member of the Valley Farm Mounted Troop, part of the Suffolk Division of the Legion of the Horse for the Volunteer Corps of Frontiersmen
  • I also competed in Western horse-riding competitions
  • I rode down the aisle, side-saddle, next to my husband (who was on his own horse) at our wedding
  • I sing silly, improvised songs to my cats. A lot.
  • My cats LOVE my songs.
  • I play golf (at eco-friendly sites)
  • I never measure the quantities of anything when I bake – I always wing it
  • I am a very good swimmer
  • I do a very good screaming chimpanzee impersonation
  • I work for one of the largest classical music festivals in the world
  • I can play the guitar, strumstick, drums, flute, recorder, harmonica, and piano (none of them particularly well)

 

Dancing With Nemetona now available!

My latest book, Dancing with Nemetona: A Druid’s Exploration of Sanctuary and Sacred Space, is now out – two weeks early!  Only 8 copies left on Amazon – grab yours now!

Pick up your copy HERE

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Reblog: Dedication, Devotion and Duty

This is a reblog from my channel at Moon Books:

Spring has sprung, and everything, myself included, seems to be go going throttle.  My garden is awash in a sea of yellow daffodils and forsythia, contrasted by the purples and pinks of grape hyacinths, hellebore and crocuses.  The birds are singing their heart out, the owls are very active at night and the air is tingling with the anticipation of warm summer days to come.

And yet I must remind myself to slow down, to savour the moment, to remember my intention for this year; to take a step back and focus on studying, learning and personal development.  Speaking engagements and workshops are kept to a minimum, and I’ve learned to say “no” in order to keep to my resolution.  My third book for Moon Books, a guide for solitary Druid, is in its proofing stages, and after that is done I shall be able to work on a long neglected fourth project; a pagan fiction centred around Avalon.  My focus is set, my path is determined.

As I walked a turf labyrinth with three lovely sister souls before the spring equinox this year, three words kept thrumming through my veins and in my head as I made my way to the centre.  Dedication. Devotion. Duty.  I felt them vibrate in my very soul, the words reminding me of what it means to be a Druid, even when you’re a Druid that’s taking a year off from ceremonial work and other engagements.

These three things are central to my personal Druidry.  Without them, I cannot rightly call myself a Druid.

Dedication – this word has so many slightly varying meanings and applications.  I am dedicated to my gods, to my path, to the land where I live, to my family and to my community.  The word, dedicate comes from the latin dedicare – to declare, to devote, to indicate and consecrate.  I declare to all my spiritual path in the usage of the word Druid.  I indicate my intentions to follow that path through my words and, more importantly, my actions.  The world to me is consecrate – there is no unsacred place. Through how I live my life; I demonstrate my dedication to being a Druid.  Everything that I do reflects my Druid worldview.  I am utterly dedicated to this life path, feeling it stir my passion and fill me with awen.

In our society today, dedication can seem a bit off-putting.  If someone is dedicated to a cause, they may sometimes appear a bit too outside of the status quo.  It can have connotations of fanaticism (another word that’s meaning has changed since its original latin origin).  If I tell someone that I am dedicated to my gods, whether they are pagan or not, I can get some pretty odd looks. A lot of people may think that when I say this, I am giving over my entire life to another.  This is not the case – this is using the inspiration from the gods, from the land, from the land, sea and sky to guide me to living a harmonious, more holistic life utterly attuned with nature.  If I gave my life over to my gods I would not be able to function.  I have free will. I am dedicated to them and their teachings through the natural cycles, but dedication does not equal submission…

Read the full article HERE