Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Making Things

I had planned the walking meditation today after shopping but it did not happen. But whilst shopping I picked up a few art materials. I have always been into art and draw alot but it comes and goes. Lately I have had the urge to make things...maybe its a New Year thing?

Anyway, I bought a good quality blank note book that will fit in my pocket and have made my own diary for 2012. I wrote the month headings in Anglo Saxon lettering and decorated them (I found some nice pens too). I will add the yearly festivals, moon phases and anything else that marks the turning of the year. Making my own diary is a good reminder of the cycle of time and how precious it is. It's also nice to customise it to my use, with space for notes, wish lists and drawings. Plus I so need to be more organised!

Here are some scribblings:


I also picked up some air-drying clay and hardener. The plan is to sculpt my own God and Goddess statues. I am quite excited about this as I have not messed around with clay for ages and I will able to add my own interpretation, so I hope they will mean more than something bought in a shop. There is also scope to make pendants, plaques, runes, anything that comes to mind. The only thing I need is more time!

When I am making these things I will ask for inspiration, try to concentrate on their purpose and meaning and hope to imbue them with some power.

I think I will post the making in steps so that I can look back at the creative process.

Men and Stereotypes

Over the past few days I have been reading other blogs and getting a feel for the pagan blog community. The vast majority of blogs are by women, hardly surprising as there are more women than men in the pagan community. One exception seems to be among the Druid community, where I have found more men, perhaps this will be turned upside down as I explore further, or maybe men connect Druidism with being male (this would be strange given classical references to powerful female Druids). Maybe we all want to emulate the greatest Druid of all:

(I hope I am not offending Druids, but I loved reading Asterix as a Kid)


Modern paganism certainly appeals more to women and this makes sense when you consider the intuitive aspects and how it follows the cycles of the year, the moon and life. Some articles say that it is because modern paganism is Goddess-centric but I disagree. I don't think any man who thinks about his beliefs follows the male Judeo-Christian God just because he is depicted as a man, or because there have been wars fought in his glory. It is true that Judeo-Christian religion leans towards male control and this is a shame. It is as much a shame that some modern pagans desire a lean towards female control. Some men might think this is already an established principle and be put off. In either case, imbalance feels wrong. There must be a place for men in neo-paganism for the sake of balance.

So how do you explain the prevalence of the female? The fact that the Goddess is considered powerful and equal to the God, an undisputed place leading practice and worship, the cyclical nature of the year and holding intuition in high regard might be a few reasons that women are attracted to the Old Religion. There is also a lack of dogma and plenty of free debate - so women have a strong voice and there is room for discussion - and women are great communicators and society builders, more so than most men.

How could men be put off Pagan ways? The first is mentioned above, the impression that it is completely matriarchal and that men are not welcome (although this is obviously untrue). Perhaps men have lost touch with the cycles of the year, society is less agricultural, and even the seasons can be side-stepped with modern techniques and tools. Seasonal food is available all year round. Fewer people follow hunting seasons (not a bad thing). We leave an air conditioned house, get in a car, go into an office, sit under strip lighting and drive home without experiencing the world outside. The seasons seem to merge. Of course this still happens to women, but women seem more naturally attuned to time, cycles and change and this might simply be because of the menstrual cycle. Perhaps modern women have this last, vital thread linking them to nature - a lifeline! Men probably have bodily cycles, but we are less attuned and the changes are probably more subtle. In the past men marked the cycle of time by task: ploughing, planting, harvesting, hunting. Now, unless we work outdoors, tasks are independent of season and weather.

Another thing that might put men off is the use of some quite kitsch Pagan imagery. Nowadays, some Old Religion archetypes are presented in a childish or camp way that does not have wide appeal with adult males. Lets take the fairy as an example. Most non-Pagan men, especially those with children, see fairies like this:


Now, if they have looked further into fairy lore they might be familiar with:


Still quite cute!

Unless they have read further, much further, they wont have seen fairies like this:


Or this:


Lets face it, Tinkerbell is aimed a little girls. She is cute nowadays, although J.M. Barrie originally depicted her a pretty jealous, selfish and vindictive. They start out liking Tinkerbell but this might lead to a broader interest in fairies and fairy lore as they grow up, culminating in a deeper knowledge of Fae Folklore. An interest in fairies might never develop in a male as he is never introduced to them. Also, the "darker" images of fairies might never crop up in a non-Pagan's life, unless they find them by some other path - as a folkloreist, goth or metal head.

And so we come to another sticking point for many men - Camp.

To lots of men, the Pagan world can seem quite camp, or even retro-camp. Dressing in robes, chanting, dancing in groves all seems a bit over the top. Of course some of it is just imagined. Now, unless you come from a culture that already celebrates campness, this can be a bit disconcerting. Many Pagans I have met also love rock and metal, already a heady mix of masculine and camp.


If you can see the irony in all this and are secure with your sexuality then there is probably no problem. Gay men seem to have no trouble with this and they too revel in the camp - they are famous for it! And why do they feel unabashed at celebrating this side of themselves? Probably because they can see the irony and fun in it, or are open to different ways of being. They can accept different types of sexuality and therefore different ways of thinking and expression. And I think that it is partly because of this, that there are many gay male pagans (not because they are like women, as some heterosexual men seem to think - in my view all men are equally masculine unless they feel trans-gender).

Paganism is heavily stereotyped and it takes a unique individual to see through all this, quite often a person who is stereotyped themselves!

As well as being stereotyped as cute and a bit camp, the history of Paganism is often sanitized. Even the darker stereotypes have become camp classics, aided by the horror genre. How camp (and admittedly cool) is The Wicker Man? (not the latest one, that was crap). But were the original wicker men camp, not if you were burned in one! And what else did the Celts enjoy? Collecting heads. And some of our heathen ancestors tied their enemies to trees by their own entrails. Tolund man was strangled. Odin lurks at gibbets and talks to hanged men. The list goes on...

I am not suggesting that Neo-Pagans should practice this in the modern age, we live in more enlightened times, but we should avoid presenting a squeeky clean Pagan past where everyone lived in blissful harmony with nature and where more gruesome practices were a perversion introduced by men. There are plenty of Goddesses and female deities that deal in the darker side.


Paganism Disney style has alot to answer for.

Unfortunately the average man (and often woman) in the street will see all this and conclude that Paganism is just silly. They might even feel threatened by it, express hatred for it or react violently against it.

It is a shame that many men feel like this and do not get the chance to explore beyond their preconceptions and assumptions. If they did, they might discover more about themselves and how the sacred male and sacred female in all of us balances and makes us who we are.

They might also get to thinking about the male principle and its place in the universe. Despite the apparent dominance of the Goddess, the male is still present. He courts the Goddess, is her lover, a father, a seer. He dies and is reborn. He brings light and fire, but also destruction. He is the Lord of the wild hunt. These are the male mysteries and I can't wait to explore them.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Labyrinths

For the past two days I have been thinking about walking. For a long time now I have been saying that I must take more time out to walk, if only to get fitter. There is also the idea that I could relieve alot of stress through some kind of walking meditation.

I have tried the sit-down kind of meditation and it has got me through some rough patches in the past, if only because it calms and focusses the mind. But walking meditation would be new. As well as being a new relaxation-meditation it should also enhance awareness, an eastern/Buddhist concept to which I wholeheartedly subscribe but practice too little. I spend so much of my time unaware, or maybe I just switch off with the sensory overload that seems to be around sometimes.

The advice I have is to begin the walk with steady breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, and follow the breath as in regular meditation. But as I walk I am to observe physical and mental feelings. First starting to observe the pressure of weight on my feet and root myself to the earth and then begin to walk, feeling the feet, ankles, calves, thighs, working upwards, and note both pleasurable and uncomfortable sensations right to the top of my head. It is also advised to note the distribution of weight, balance and posture. And the environment - is it windy, cold, damp, how is this affecting me? Thoughts might occur and I can acknowledge and dismiss these if I wish, or mediate on a single idea.

These ideas about walking got me thinking about Labyrinths. These are fascinating to me and another example of an ancient and wide reaching human concept. They are found across cultures and there are three types: 7 circuit, 11 circuit and 12 circuit. As you walk the path you can meditate, perhaps on a problem. With each 180 degree turn the brain swaps focus from left to right. On reaching the centre you can linger and meditate some more or head straight back out and continue your perambulation back and forth.


They are a great symbol for journeying and this seems appropriate to this blog as I set out on a spiritual path. As I say, they appear in all cultures and periods, from ancient Crete to the Celts and in medieval Chartres cathedral . But they also feature in the native American tradition. The Hopi indian Labyrinth represents the enfolding energies of the Earth Mother. The straight line represents the child. The child is not enclosed, even at the centre, showing that we are free but supported.


Hopi Labyrinth



I think the Labyrinth is something I will keep coming back to. Next I would like to find one near me and walk it, and if I can't find one I'll just walk. Eventually I think I will trace one out in a garden. I'll record the outcome of my walk here I think.

My final thought about the Labyrinth is this: "it just looks right". There is something fundamentally beautiful in certain symbols. Maybe it's in the geometry of the thing, it just feels like a bit of the universe expressing itself.

(see links on right for more Labyrinth info)

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Books

As I go along I will be reading a great deal, using books and other blogs for inspiration and information. There are many books that have brought me to this point but I have forgotten many of them. Each one opens up a new path, a new adventure. A book can even change a life.

So as I write I want to review the books I have read and share some of my thoughts and feelings about them.
First up, I just have to mention "The Book of English Magic" by Philip Carr-Gomm and Richard Heygate. I have dipped in and out of various magical traditions all of my life and have been fascinated by various practices and groups on and off. It has always been pretty directionless though and I have always craved an overview - this is it.

This book delves into English magical tradition in summary, giving history and some basic practice, but it is approachable and very entertaining. It is also very well researched and written.

The book takes us on a journey through England's magical landscape and history - people and places. It is packed with interviews with contempory magicians too. There are links to information, recommended reads and things to try, even make and do (e.g. dowsing).

I would also recommend this book to people not embarking on a magical path, its interesting and entertaining in its own right.

The principal author is Philip Carr-Gomm - leader of the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids.



UK


USA

Friday, 20 January 2012

Beginnings

These ramblings have been a useful exercise and have allowed me to get things straight. Without labelling myself a specific type of believer I can definitely say that I am drawn to Earth based religion, a religion like that of my native, British, pre-Christian ancestors. British because this is where I was born, it's where I grew up, it's a familiar landscape and I am already steeped in British folklore and culture.

For the most part I can only speculate how my ancestors went about their religious practices, but I think there is just enough remaining in the landscape and customs of this country to allow me some interpretation. I might even be able to ask my ancestors for guidance. And there are always new discoveries. The rest of living a good life is down to my own integrity.

So what are the central tenets so far:

1/ God and Goddess duality.
2/ Female Goddess as lover and mother.
3/ Male God as lover and father.
4/ Earth as female.
5/ Sun as male.
6/ Spirit and communication with spirit.
7/ At least two worlds.
8/ Communication with the otherworld.
9/ Passing into the Otherworld at death.
10/ Birth, death and rebirth.
11/ Attunement with the seasons.
12/ Honouring the ancestors.

This is enough to be going on with and it gives me a foundation for further study, there is so much more to explore and I will record it here. It is likely to be much less structured from here on in as I will dip in and out and record ideas as and when they come up.

A Cosmology Continued: The Veil Between Worlds

There is clearly a barrier between this and the Otherworld but it is not impenetrable. Some describe it as a veil, a translucent barrier that separates but allows flow back and forth. Some believe that the veil is thinner at certain sacred times, at Samhain (Halloween) for example.

We are able to look into the Otherworld and sometimes pass into it. The later is a dangerous practice as attested by myths and legends. People that pass into the land of the fairies become trapped or find that moments spent in the Otherworld equate to hundreds of years in the mortal world.

As for the location of the Otherworld of our ancestors, we are probably best looking downwards rather than up. A heaven in the sky is a Judeo-Christian concept. To many in the ancient world the Otherworld lay beneath their feet, deep in the earth or below this plane of existence. This makes sense if communication with Otherworld spirits begins in caves. The Sun also sets and disappears behind the horizon each day, does it pass into the Otherworld below? And does the Moon rise out of the Otherworld each night? Gods and Goddesses are later thought to inhabit a world below our feet, their power expressed in tremors, eruptions or water rising through hot springs, as at the temple of Sulis-Minerva in Roman Bath for example.

Our prehistoric ancestors drew abstract and strange depictions of some spirits and beings, and in later periods any number of mythical beings were accepted as living either in the Otherworld, or belonging to the Otherworld and coming into ours. They can help us, harm us or are indifferent. Some protect sacred places. They are too numerous to discuss here.

But the Otherworld also contains the spirits of plants and animals as found in our world. Importantly, a belief in a life beyond death leads us to suppose that our ancestors pass into the Otherworld. It is a reflection of our world.

The word reflection is important here. Before the invention of mirrors, the only place that our ancestors would see a reflection of our world would be in water. They probably also noted that things were reversed in the reflection. If this were the Otherworld looking back, could some dualities be taken to be reversed? Perhaps a short time in the Otherworld was long in ours, maybe death became life. And given that you could glimpse the Otherworld in water, was water a conduit to that world? The answer is probably yes, for we have so many legends of Otherworld journeys through water and so much evidence of offerings being placed into water, right up to the 14th century in England (Witham Fens, Lincoln). Places near and in water were important. Wells and springs were sacred places of worship.

Aside from water are there other gateways to the Otherworld? Caves and underground places were definately gateways and these interact with water too. Water flows into the ground at some places and out at others. And can things reaching deep into the earth be gateways, things like trees and rocks? And can we erect gateways in this world that are reflected in the other, things like standing stones?

Recent theories on the meaning of standing stones lend weight to the idea that they are a conduit between worlds. It is suggested that the stones represent ancestors and are places representing our death in this world. This is based on archeological study into the interrelatedness of ancient sites and current anthropology. Only yesterday I watched a YouTube clip of a native American Ojibwa Grandmother talking about a walk around the great lakes. They came across seven rocks on which their ancestors had left carvings and she described the rocks as Grandparents. She also talked about the sacredness of the waters and trying to get men to help in the journey (that elusive male principle again).



So when we touch standing stones are we touching ancestors on the other side? Can we send them messages through the stones, do we honour them at stones and are they aware that we do? And when we erect a stone on this plane of existence is there a mirror image on the other side? It is tempting to suggest that there is when we find sets of standing stones, banks and even a central hearth arranged like a house as at the Ring of Brodgar, Stenness in Orkney. Even the entrance is aligned to face the local settlement linking the living with the dead (or perhaps the still alive).


In contrast to stone circles it seems that wood henges were used to represent life. At wood henges there is evidence of large gatherings and feasting involving numbers well in excess of the local population. Maybe this is where thanks were given for life and abundance, or perhaps where blessings were received. Could ancestors in the Otherworld send blessings through the wood from one world to the other? The henges were made of trees, beings with their branches in the sky and their roots in the underworld. Beings that cross worlds, as the ash Yggdrasil does in Norse mythology. Was fertility, health and prosperity transmitted from the Otherworld into the henge and the surrounding land?

Stone Henge and Wood Henge on Salisbury Plane are linked like this. It seems that life was celebrated at Wood Henge and death at Stone Henge. The two were linked by a watery journey down the river Avon. Perhaps the dead were feasted at wood henge and taken to Stone Henge for a final blessing. Stone Henge is also aligned with the sun, that symbolically dies and is reborn on the winter solstice, a fitting metaphor for passage to the next life.

So ancestors were clearly important in ancient belief and were very much a part of everyday life. We know this because our own ancestors kept theirs very close. Burials are seen in doorways, under hearths and even in post holes. It is only later that burials take place away from the home in cemeteries, perhaps as beliefs in haunting become prevalent. The Romans belived that ghosts or Lemures could roam and cause problems so they buried outside their city walls. But for the most part our ancestors kept their ancestors close.

The great tombs that housed our ancestors show that they were honoured. And could these tombs have been a conduit to the otherworld? Some are erected around standing stones so could the tomb be a portal to the Otherworld? Again, alignment with the solstice sun might suggest that the illumination of the remains at a time of death and rebirth could facilitate transit. Newgrange in Ireland and Maeshowe in Orkney are the most famous examples.


So belief in an Otherworld was essential to our ancient ancestors and it remains with us today.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

A Cosmology Continued: Spirit World

Did our most distant ancestors believe in a spirit world, what many call the "Otherworld"?

If we assume that they believed in a spiritual God and Goddess, a special world outside our own could be assumed to be a requirement, somewhere for them to reside.

Cave art suggests that they believed in a spirit world and that they could express glimpses of that world through painting. Images of grids and dots are found in some of the deepest and most inaccessible parts of cave complexes, in places where they might never be seen by others. Our ancestors clearly went to a great deal of effort making these images. They would first have to obtain and grind pigments, some of which must have been precious. Then they would need a carrier for the pigment, such as fat or water. Also implements to paint with. They would carry these and a light source deep into the cave, risking injury, and paint images metres above the cave floor. And these images were often very abstract, occurring as dots, lines, grids, zig-zags, catenary curves and filligrees. In recent years it has become possible to induce visions of similar patterns in the minds of modern people by variously stimulating the retina and visual cortex of the brain. These are called entoptic phenomena. They can also be achieved using hallucinogenic drugs. So our ancestors were seeking altered states of conciousness. They might have used hallucinogens or could have induced visions through sensory deprivation deep in the caves. Perhaps they sat and waited until visions came to them out of the mysterious darkness. These visions must have been strange to them as they did not match anything in the known world. Perhaps they came from another world?




So seated deep within the womb of Mother Earth they revceived visions, perhaps glimpses of another world, perhaps messages. Their senses must have been spinning, we have all been in dark barely lit places and seen strange shadows, heard strange noises, felt the hair stand up on the back of our necks, felt a presence. Many shamanistic cultures still seek visions like this, inducing trance through sensory deprivation, fasting, hallucinogens, chanting, drumming and meditation in dark or exposed places. Did our ancestors enter the cave with questions and come out with answers? Were they leaving messages or offerings from our world to the spirit world? Were they being initiated and leaving the cave reborn? We will never know for sure, but for them there was clearly another world that could be communicated with.

For many years it was thought that our ancestors might have been asking the spirit world for direct intercession, carrying out sympathetic magic to help them in hunting. It now seems that this is not the case. The remains of prey animals do not generally match animals in the cave paintings. For example, the inhabitants of the Lascaux caves mostly ate wild goat. Far easier to kill than bison, and safer too! So they were seeing very clear visions of animals in their mind and representing them on cave walls in two dimensions. Most of the animals depicted are in profile and although they have colour, there is no shading, no perspective and no composition. They are making a very clear image of the animal and its physical characteristics so that there is no mistaking it. So rather than asking to kill such animals, they might have been asking for their help or some of their power. And if this is the case they might have been trying to link with the animal spirit.


Today, shamans still attempt to link with animal spirits and many people claim to have animal spirit guides. Shamans and initiates in all sorts of cultures don costumes and masks and imitate animal spirits. Much later mesolithic finds from Star Carr hint at shamanistic rites - deer skulls with holes drilled could be head dresses or masks.


Animal spirits are not just about food, they bring messages, power, help and guidance. The movements of animals are also interpreted in divination. Even today, people see a single magpie as a portent for bad luck. In many cultures the gods can disguise themselves as animals (or even plants and objects).

So cave artists were certainly depicting visions of things imagined and real. Later beliefs in the spirit world suggest that it was believed that these came from somewhere else, outside of the artist. It is interesting to note that many modern artistic geniuses have described the feeling that they are just channeling their art from the outside and even describe a trance like state - they are a conduit. Given the beauty, accuracy and skill of the prehistoric cave painters we could attribute genius to them. Afterall, on entering the Altamira caves Picasso is quoted as saying: "after Altamira, all is decadence"......."we have learned nothing!"

A Cosmology

In trying to get my thoughts in order I have been attempting to formulate a workable cosmology that combines the fundamental beliefs that seem to have endured through the ages in Britain B.C. Much of this is based on prehistoric studies and what we know about the artifacts, legends, customs and religion of later copper, bronze and iron age peoples. If we start at the beginning of the Paleolithic this covers a vast time span. From the first evidence of religious belief to the rise of civilization there are around 26,000 years to cover (depending upon school of thought). And for the vast majority of this time period we know nothing absolute about religious belief or spirituality. Much is inferred.



We will never know exactly how our most distant ancestors viewed the cosmos but some beliefs seem to have endured through time. Ancient peoples had the same brain power as we do now and probably had similar motivations and emotions, so perhaps we can assume that they made observations and drew comparisons as we do. Whenever we have a new experience our brain searches through its archive for similar experiences. We describe things as being "like...", we use metaphor. I think that one of the earliest comparisons drawn was that between the Earth and the Mother. Both nurture developing life and bring it forth.


But before a baby is born man and woman unite and "something", an energy or life force passes between them. Here it seems sensible to suggest that the male power comes from the sun. People surely observed that light is needed for growth. It is interesting that the sun and then male gods, took on greater importance in the neolithic agricultural revolution, where the link between sunny weather and crop yield must have been more closely followed. It is probably true that the Earth Mother was the principle deity for a long time. Not only did life appear to develop within the Earth, everything was a child of the Earth. One can imagine our ancestors trying to maintain a balance between killing their fellow creatures for food and seeking the blessing of the Earth Mother. Afterall they knew that she could turn on them with flood and quake. It is appealing to think that they asked permission and honoured the "spirit" of the animals killed as some native cultures do to this day. Or maybe they considered themselves set apart and blessed by the mother? We cannot know for sure.

Although the female principle was probably dominant, the male principle was still present and needed for the creation of life. The male would also provide for the female, especially during the vulnerability of pregnancy and caring for infants. The male principle in the form of the sun was also capable of anger and retribution: he could parch and scorch the Earth making it barren, or he could absent himself, removing warmth and light.

So a belief in a balanced Goddess and God interaction seems sensible. We will never know for sure if the apparent absence of male images in Paleolithic art points at a dominant Goddess or matriarchal society (big debate). For all we know, depiction of the God principle was taboo, abstract or metaphoric. To a majority of people the balanced view is intuitively correct. This balance is probably best summed up by the Ying-Yang symbol used in Taoism. Ying often represents the female and yang the male. Each has a dot of colour from the opposite principle. They are balanced and interdependent. Of course this is a recent Chinese invention (500-600 B.C.) but the balance is pleasing.


A God and Goddess duality also fits in with archetypal stories from across the globe where male and female principals interact, particularly with the cycle of the year. An interaction with yearly cycles is particularly strong in northern european mythology because there are very clear differences between seasons. Sir James George Frazer picked up on this theme in his book "The Golden Bough" (1890) when he described a yearly rebirth of a God King, his union with the maiden Goddess, the creation of new life and then his death. Here the God King can be equated with tales of the holly or oak king, and in his vigorous youth he is sometimes seen as the green man, chasing and seducing the young Goddess. The cycle of his rebirth and death follows that of the sun at the solstices.

So deity was present, male and female, Earth Mother and Male principle (probably the Sun). These were balanced overall as each was interdependent, but the Goddess was given particular devotion as lover, mother and nurturer. Perhaps unsurprising as the presence of the male principle came and went through death and rebirth and could be mysteriously distant (probably in his shed ;). These could be personified in image and sculpture (although clearly male images were few). And abstract invisible things, "energies", passed between people, animals, plants and deities bringing about change and creation.

Pagan?

To anybody interested in matters religious, the words I have already written might have caused the word Pagan to pop into their mind. It's a loaded word, a them and us word.

Like most words of this kind it has a simple origin. The latin word paganus meant "country dweller" or "rustic". It became a pejorative term to describe those that had not adopted the new, sophisticated, imperial Christian religion. People clinging to old superstitions and polytheism, people considered backward. Religion aside, use of this word as an insult must have been pretty offensive to country people, but Rome was intensely heirarchical and engagement in civic life was considered the apogee of cultural achievement.

The word pagan does not seem appropriate to our age. In its literal sense it depends on where you stand in society and on having a contrasting, state sponsored religion generally accepted as "true" by all persons that are considered "normal" and part of "society". But our world view has grown since Roman times and normality and society are now accepted as variable and relative.

So I will avoid the word Pagan here. By all means consider me a Pagan if you wish. I guess I can be a little bit rustic at times...

In the spirit of exploring fundamental British beliefs and values I would urge the use of one word above all others:

Tolerance.

Always Back to Britain B.C.

Maybe it's a cultural thing, or a product of exposure to all things British because I am.........British, but I keep returning to the ancestral beliefs of our diverse, strange and amazing island for fulfilment. And the beliefs that most appeal are those that could now be considered folklore, tentatively linked to our distant past, some surviving Christianity as traditional and "quaint" customs. I have nothing against Christianity and it contains a great deal of beauty and wisdom, yes it has also inspired horrific actions but so have many religions, not because they are inherently bad but because of human interpretation, law making, power-play and dogma. But Christianity as it currently stands is not for me. I think sometimes that Christianity lost its way a very long time ago, perhaps at the moment of Constantine's conversion.

So I keep returning to the beliefs of Britain B.C., those that are lost but hinted at in the archaeological record and those that survive in stories and customs. Perhaps they are best called northern european beliefs because this country has always been a melting pot of culture, with multiple phases of migration, invasion and integration. And indeed some beliefs have a common thread and are seen in multiple northern european cultures, hinting at an older core belief, value or archetype.

Start

This is an exploration. A place to pull together my thoughts on spirituality.

Since a child I have explored all sorts of religious and spiritual approaches, some historic and passed, some resurected and recreated for our age and some that we consider an everyday part of life, society and even constitution. I'm no expert or theologian, far from it. Professionally I'm a scientist, so it could all end in atheism. I have no idea where this will go. But I do need somewhere to put my thoughts, I keep coming back to certain themes, values and gut feelings.

So here goes.......