Green-Spirited Ideas and Philosophy

On these pages you will find many snippets of information about green spirituality and walking with spirit in an Earth-Honouring way. May they inspire and guide you!

But also may your eyes be opened still further to injustice and disrespect and may you feel empowered to inform others of these travesties. Please don't be down-hearted but instead feel your green spirit rise like sap and know that like the standing nation of trees we are all connected...and all-powerful.

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THE SCANDAL OF THE POISONING OF THE LAND

Evidence of what is going on in the countryside of England today

These images show the sad remnants of a poisoning spree by the 'custodians of the land' . Here we can see agri-chemicals carelessly dumped by a farmer in Wiltshire, UK

A complete disregard for the land and its inhabitants is blatantly obvious

Here is the label for 'FANDANGO' front and back in close up so you can read it

Above: They call their poison 'Fandango' in a blatant show of disrepsect: to them its all a game. Unless they genuinely do think this is a 'joyful product'. Which in itself must be insanity...

HERE WE CAN WITNESS THE SHEER UNBRIDLED MADNESS OF CONTAMINATING THE LAND AND ITS INHABITANTS WITH A CHEMICAL 'DANGEROUS TO THE ENVIRONMENT' THAT IS SPRAYED OVER CROPS.

Then left in the field, discarded in anything but a 'safe way'. But how on earth could you discard this safely? And why worry about that when you've already sprayed it over the barley, corn and rape...and all the creatures and the soil...

Above: This poison was cheekily called GALA. How charming.

So, who are the manufacturers of this poison?

Bayer AG
A Corporate Profile

By Corporate Watch UK
Completed March 2002

SUMMARY:

Bayer AG is a massive German based chemicals and pharmaceuticals manufacturer. It has operations in most countries worldwide and had global sales for 2000 of nearly $30 billion. Its operations are divided into four sectors: Health, Agriculture, Polymers (plastics, synthetic rubber) and Chemicals. It has recently acquired Aventis' controversial cropscience business, making it a key player in the development, commercialisation and sale of GM crops. As a major player in 4 controversial sectors for over 125 years Bayer has a distinguished history of corporate crimes ranging from the manufacture and sale of controversial drugs (Heroin, Ciproxin and Baycol), the development of chemical warfare agents and poisons (Chlorine Gas, Zyklon B and VX), the use of forced labour during WW2, and numerous cases of poisoning, side-effects and environmental pollution connected to its chemical and pharmaceutical products. In December 2001, Multinational Monitor rated Bayer AG as one of their Top Ten Worst Companies of the year.

HISTORY:

The first incarnation of what is currently Bayer AG was born out of the rush by European industrialists to develop and manufacture synthetic dyes in the second half of the 19th century. Friedrich Bayer and Johann Friedrich Weskott opened a dye factory in 1863 in Wuppertal, Germany. The company Farbenfabriken vorm. Friedr. Bayer & Co. was launched in 1883. Bayer quickly diversified their activities into other areas of chemical manufacture, including photography and pharmaceuticals. Bayer also established operations throughout Europe and the US. Early Bayer discoveries included Antinonin (synthetic pesticide, 1892), Aspirin (1897), Heroin (1898) and Buna (synthetic rubber 1915). During WWI Bayer, along with other chemical manufacturers (both Allied and German), turned their attention to the manufacture of chemical weapons including chlorine gas used to horrendous effect in the trenches. During WWI Bayer had formed a close association with other German chemical companies including BASF and Hoechst. This relationship was formalised in 1925 with merger of these companies as well as AGFA, and others, to form the IG Farben Trust.
IG Farben continued to grow during the inter-war period as one of the most powerful chemical and pharmaceutical companies in the world. Products included polyurethanes and the first 'sulpha' drugs.
It is during Nazi-era Germany and WW2 that IG Farben (Bayer) entered its most sinister phase. IG Farben as the leading chemical company in Nazi Germany took over chemical plants across Nazi occupied Europe, used slave-labour in their factories (including operating their own concentration camp), conducted medical experiments on those held in the concentration camps and manufactured the poison gas used to kill thousands. At the end of the war the 1945 Potsdam Agreement called for the break up of IG Farben into its constituent companies. Twelve IG Farben employees and directors were jailed for war crimes at the Nuremburg Trials.
Bayer was re-established as Farbenfabriken Bayer AG in 1951, changing its name to the current Bayer AG in 1972. Although the post-WW2 Bayer is a different legal entity to the Bayer that pre-existed IG Farben, and that which formed part of IG Farben, a direct line of continuity can be traced between the personnel, infrastructure and technology of these 3 incarnations. Bayer has a very murky past that should be remembered.

Above: Some of Bayer's proud achievements thus far

German Bayer company named in Nazi lawsuit

A survivor of the Nazi concentration camps of the Second World War has accused the German pharmaceutical conglomorate, Bayer AG of conspiring with the Nazis to conduct human medical experiments for profit.

The survivor, Eva Mozes Kor, is seeking damages for alleged experiments done on sets of twins supervised by Joseph Mengele at the prison camp at Auschwitz.

She alleged that the experiments were overseen by Mengele and a representative of the Bayer company.

Asked about the charges, the company said it was very surprised.

Bayer is among twelve German corporations which agreed this week to set up a fund to compensate Nazi prison camp victims.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

Best-selling BAYER products you may care to boycott:

Adalat™
Hypertension treatment
Advantage™
Flea control product for dogs and cats
Aspirin™
Pain reliever based on acetylsalicylic acid
Avalox™ /Avelox™
Drug to treat respiratory infections
Betaferon™ /Betaseron™
Specialty drug to treat multiple sclerosis
Ciprobay™ /Cipro™
Medicine to treat infectious diseases
Kogenate™
Haemophilia treatment
Levitra™
Erectile dysfunction treatment
Mirena™
Hormonal contraceptive
Nexavar™
Medicine to treat kidney and liver cancer
Yasmin™ /YAZ™ /Yasminelle™
Hormonal contraceptive

Now meet DOW Pharmecuticals and Agro-chemicals.

Here are a few choice snippets...please research the sordid facts for yourselves.

The Dow Chemical Company (NYSEDOW) is a multinational corporation headquartered in Midland, Michigan, United States. As of 2007, it is the second largest chemical manufacturer in the world by revenue (after BASF) and as of February 2009, the third-largest chemical company in the world by market capitalization (after BASF and DuPont).

From 1951 to 1975, Dow managed the Rocky Flats Plant. Rocky Flats was a nuclear weapons production facility that produced plutonium triggers for hydrogen bombs Contamination from fires and radioactive waste leakage plagued the facility under Dow's management. In 1957 and 1969, fires burned plutonium dust in the facility and sent radioactive particles into the atmosphere. The fire in 1969 was the costliest industrial accident to ever occur in the United States up to that time. 3,500 barrels of lubricants and solvents, laden with plutonium leaked into the ground in 1967. Management of the facility was handed over to Rockwell International in 1975. A class action lawsuit was filed against Dow and Rockwell in 1990. In 2008 a federal judge ordered Dow and Rockwell to pay a combined $925 million in damages to citizens.

The United States military used napalm in their efforts during the Vietnam War. Dow was one of several manufacturers who began producing the compound under government contract in 1965. After experiencing protests and negative publicity, the other suppliers decided to discontinue the product, leaving Dow as the sole provider. The company carefully considered their position, and decided that this was a matter of principle, and "its first obligation was the government". Despite a boycott of all its products by anti-war groups and harassment of recruiters on some college campuses, Dow continued to manufacture Napalm B until 1969.

Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant containing dioxin, was also manufactured by Dow in New Plymouth, New Zealand and in America for use by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. In 2005, a lawsuit was filed by Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange against Dow and Monsanto Company, which also supplied Agent Orange to the military. The lawsuit was dismissed.

A major manufacturer of silicone breast implants, Dow Corning (Dow Chemical's Joint Venture with Corning Inc.) was sued for personal damages caused by ruptured implants. Per the 2005 10-K for The Dow Chemical Company filing, "On October 6, 2005, all such cases then pending in the District Court against the Company were dismissed. Should cases involving Dow Corning's breast implant and other silicone medical products be filed against the Company in the future, they will be accorded similar treatment." The Dow Chemical Company - 10-K Filing - 2005

The Bhopal disaster is world's worst industrial catastrophe due to a leak of methyl isocyanate on December 3, 1984 at a pesticide plant owned by Union Carbide India Limited, a subsidiary of UCC. Government agencies confirmed 3,787 deaths. Others estimate 3,000 people died within the first weeks and another 8,000 have since died from gas-related diseases.

Until the late 1970s, Dow produced DBCP (1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane), a soil fumigant, and nematicide, sold under the names the Nemagon and Fumazone. Workers at Dow's DBCP production were made sterile by exposure to the compound. These male reproductive effects were consistent with animal experiments showing that DBCP sterilized rabbits. The workers successfully sued the company, and most domestic uses of DBCP were banned in 1977. Amid growing concerns over the chemical's effects on male workers, Dow ceased production and reclaimed DBCP that had been shipped to its users. Despite warning from the company about its health effects, Dole Food Company, who was using the chemical on its banana plantations in Latin America, threatened to sue Dow if it stopped DBCP shipments, so Dow shipped half a million gallons of DBCP to Dole, much it reclaimed from other users. Plantation workers who became sterile or were stricken with other maladies subsequently sued both Dow and Dole in Latin American courts, alleging that their ailments were caused by DBCP exposure. While the courts agreed with the workers and awarded them over $600 million in damages, they have been unable to collect payments from the companies. A group of workers then sued in the United States, and, on November 5, 2007, a Los Angeles jury awarded them $3.2 million. Dole and Dow vowed to appeal the decision. On April 23, 2009 a Los Angeles judge threw out two cases against Dole and Dow due to fraud and extortion by lawyers in Nicaragua recruiting fraudulent plaintiffs to make claims against the company. The ruling casts doubt on $2 billion in judgments in similar lawsuits.

Wikipedia, the internet informational encyclopedia provider, recently discovered that Dow edited information in the encyclopedia that was seen as negative towards Dow. The information Dow edited was about the Bhopal Plant catastrophe and about birth defects caused by dioxin in Agent Orange, a herbicide used in Vietnam and produced by Dow. This is some of the same dioxin now polluting Dow's "backyard" in Michigan. The level of manipulation Dow uses to shape information makes the information not just biased but complete propaganda. And the Dow employees creating it aren't prosecuted by regulatory agencies when it is discovered. They are allowed to be promoted by Dow to new positions to continue their work. Dow's information can not be relied upon for any level of decision making.

A common pesticide re-approved by the EPA in 2001 sickens farm workers, say unions and activists who will file a lawsuit against the agency today, reports the Associated Press.The pesticide is chlorpyrifos, a potent neurotoxin used in chemical bombs during World War II. It's now sold by Dow AgroSciences under the commercial name Lorsban. No longer approved for residential use, chlorpyrifos is still used in agriculture, and the lawsuit alleges that 28 farm workers in California's Tulare County were sickened last month when a spray drifted into their vineyard from a nearby orchard.

Dow says the lawsuit is "without merit."

Dow has recently registered Profume* (Sulfuryl fluoride) for use in fumigating food commodities. There is not a pesticide used today that directly impacts our food supply in the entire world more than a fumigant. Now Profume will be used to fumigate our food supply.  Do you feel confident that this new Dow product has fully been investigated and has properly passed all the toxicology testing after understanding the dishonesty at Dow? Entire shiploads of food products will be fumigated with Profume. Most of the foods that are fumigated are ready for your table without further processing. The registration of Profume also has incredible similarities to Dow's move in having chlorpyrifos replace chlordane in the structural pest control market back in 1989.  Now Dow's Profume product is replacing methyl bromide which is considered an ozone depleter and methyl bromide is being phased out of most fumigant uses. Dow at one time also produced methyl bromide but got out of direct sales when competition got too fierce. They have been positioning their Profume product to replace methyl bromide for over fifteen years. At least one state which certainly realizes what its dealing with at Dow has so far not registered Profume.

Above: Dow, Terneuzen

Dow is the world's largest producer of plastics, including polystyrene, polyurethanes, polyethylene, polypropylene, and synthetic rubbers. It is also a major producer of the chemicals ethylene oxide, and various acrylates, surfactants, and cellulose resins. It produces many agricultural chemicals, perhaps being most famous for its pesticide Lorsban.Well-known consumer products include Styrofoam brand insulation. Former Dow product lines, Saran wrap, Ziploc bags and Scrubbing Bubbles were sold to S. C. Johnson & Son in 1997.

In 2008, Dow was reported as being the major supplier of pesticides based on aminopyralid which had contaminated manure and caused widespread loss of vegetable crops in allotments and gardens across the UK.

Above: Welcome to Dow country

Below are some of the legitimate residents of the land whose well-being - and continued right to exist as a species - is being destroyed by humanity. These photographs were taken in and around the Dow and Bayer poisoned fields of Wiltshire.

Above: A beautiful hare caught unawares
Below: A tortoiseshell butterfly suns itself

Above: Busy bee and clover

Above: Poppies in the sprayed fields of oil seed rape

All these photos are taken by Gary Howe

See more of Gary's photos here

IMAGES

To be updated very soon

Above: A shy young deer peeks out from behind the poisoned crop

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SOME THOUGHTS ON THE HUMAN NEED TO 'OWN'

Why can people not leave the exposed ammonites to rest? Can we not pause to wonder, then perhaps sketch or photograph them, and then walk away satisfied at this gentle interaction? Instead we so often want to take a physical piece with us, as if we feel obliged own a little piece of the land to somehow prove we were there. Sometimes a small stone or pebble will call to us, wishing to be part of our journey for a while, and this is a wonderful thing. Other times we may ask for a found object to come with us so that we may have a magical link with a place or time. But what is happening at Lyme Regis is not the same as our simply travelling with a mineral companion for a while, then parting ways naturally.

These fossils are being forcibly ripped apart and even if all vistors only take a tiny portion for themselves the culmulative affect is obviously going to be huge.

Ammonites are even more beautiful and fascinating 'in situ', freshly washed by the tide and naturally framed amongst a random pattern of the most incredible colours and shapes. Yet in recent years the number of visible ammonites and other fossils on the shore at this Dorset cove are dwindling noticably, with piles of dark split rock in their stead.

It would be nice if 'the tide turned' on this issue and the remaining, and as yet uncovered, fossilsed denizens of this place could remain undisturbed.

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Above: The Sovereignty of the Land

SOME THOUGHTS ON OUR INTERCONNECTEDNESS BASED ON THIS PAINTING

Here the deep green heart of the land sings its age-old secrets as the twilight gathers. A single human being, awed and ecstatic, has made the pilgrimage on this stormy afternoon to stand dwarfed between the earth and sky they honour and love. They thrill to the feeling of their tiny stature in the face of such true untamed majesty. They do not feel inferior but invigorated; reasssured.

Their human dreams fly free here, mingling with the caws of crow and rook as the corvids circle above, knowing instinctively that their time to roost is nearing. The solitary person in this ancient place does not feel fear at the lowering clouds and loss of comforting daylight. Nor do they feel insignificant in the face of the huge sweeping hills with the racing wind that could buffet them to the ground. And they certainly do not feel alone! Rather they accept and rejoice in their own essential role in the drama of existence, giving thanks for the awareness that allows them to fully appreciate it. They are an equal with a part to play along with all other beings that were, are, and will be again.

The pilgrim comes to this vast place of chalk and bone, flint and loam, to experience themselves as a vital, unique part of the whole; part of its timeless story. In this they celebrating their own place alongside all other created beings...seen or unseen, human or not...who have walked on, crawled through, flown over and burrowed into the rich soil then been taken back into the living darkness here. Beneath this solitary pilgrim's feet there are so many relics of those who came before: so many! Teeth and claws, vertebrae and votive objects, combs and coins, and the splintered skulls of hunter and hunted alike. Tiny creatures move through the sifting debris of lost lives, small mammals and worms tunnelling through soil rich with blood and hair. Humans are such a small part of it's overall story but vital none the less. The visiting human who stands on this land is always aware that beneath is another world whose powerful denizens are silent; absorbed.

Yet all around the human pilgrim, crackling in the rushing air above, is the same energy that sparks in their own awoken heart. It is the energy of existence itself and their own endless indefetigable essence is a part of that all-encompassing force. Yes, they feel rooted here - commited to the continnum of bright birth and slow degeneration experienced in this place; to the ongoing story of joy and loss that sustains this land - yet they know that they are at the same time everywhere and all things...and that this is the balance they must hold within them for the good of the All.

This is the bitter-sweet paradox of life.

And that small figure who knows this - who holds it like treasure deep at their core - is the wild spirit personified. For they come to celebrate the sovereignty of the generous, demanding mother land as a thing apart from themseleves...a singular place to be cherished...while simultaneoulsy acknowledging their own eternal, inherent creator nature that is that land and everything in it.

All is one here. It is a moment of power realised.

Let it be yours. Let it be ours.

No seperation. Only appreciation.

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MARCH 2006

Here is some of the recyclable rubbish I found on a very short walk up a lane near where I live. It is just as example of what I find, and collect up, all the time. Inspired by a tale about a woman in the U.S. who adopted a slice of highway to keep clean I always go out with a pocket full of carrier bags to fill up if necessary, which I then recycle also.

Looking at this singularly ugly pile we can see that if we could all collect such discarded human detritus and recycle it on a regular basis we would be making a huge difference!

If this stuff is left it just encourages more of the same. I myself have come to understand that I must be what I want to see in the world. I no longer waste time cursing stupid, lazy humans but rather act as I wish them to act, positively. The Earth is as my body and all human actions are as my actions. We are all connected.

Let me be peace, let me be an end to pollution!

THIS PAGE IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION SO PLEASE KEEP COMING BACK!

Meanwhile for a poetic yet grounded approach to the modern pagan path (pagan here meaning 'of the country' not a religious term) please see 'GREEN SPIRITUALITY' which is illustrated by Poppy and written by ROSA ROMANI ...HIGHLY RECOMENDED!

An Interview with Poppy Palin

This interview was originally done for the South Australian magazine Silver Wheel and also Pagan Times and sent to them in March 2005. Please contact don.vicki@ozemail.com.au

First of all, congratulations on your new book, ‘Craft of the Wild Witch’. It’s one of those rare books that contain a great deal of useful information, and yet it’s still written with a very poetic, enchanting style. It’s like piece of written artwork! Do you think that your artistic background helps you to see the world in a different way to the rest of us non-artist types?

Oh, that is so lovely, bless you! That may sound a bit facile or 'fluffy' but it is so rare for me to get such generous feedback from anyone. I seem to write these vast tomes in somewhat of a void a lot of the time! It’s like sending my children out into the wide world and never hearing another word on their life's progress. So, sincerely, thank you! Now, in answer to the question yes, I am coming to understand just how differently I do see the world. I serve the purpose of being a word-painter...one who observes the colours of life, both unseen and seen, and translates them for others. It's not a bad life-job to have, being an interpreter of our world's inherent beauty! You know, I realised this was my role when I was in one of my periods of ill health and I had dragged myself to a supermarket in some considerable pain. As I was walking I looked up and saw a simple wooden fence around a building site, a fence that folk were scurrying by with no heed at all. Yet the fence was glorious! It had been raining and the grain of the wood was dancing its own dream, all its subtle colours brought to the fore as a result of the bold rain's kiss. It woke me up to my role as a seer of the soul-songs that are present in the simplest things ...a translator of the transcendent into accessible soul-poetry. I want to bring the magic back to life by passing on such stirring observations of the seemingly 'mundane'. The real enchantment in existence is always much closer than we think. Even if we are bed-bound we can see so much that is miraculous and mysterious within our own four walls; I have been there and found magic in my own bedroom! And if my role is to encourage others to see it too, or, at the very least accept the presence of magic in their lives, then that is wonderful.

Another part of your artistic work utilises your skills as a tattooist. I believe you are in high demand for what is called ‘sacred art’. How would you define ‘sacred art’?

I am desperately in need of life to present me with a suitable tattoo studio...and, of course, the good health for me to be able to tattoo! I have a few more books I want to write, and have begun my next one, (SPIRITWALKING), but what seems to be the most valuable thing I can do at present is to work with tattooing as a sacred tool for personal transformation. For this I need good health and an accessible, affordable place to work from and believe me I am working to make both a reality! It is such an intense joy and overwhelming privilege to create a sacred piece of skin art for someone, I do love it. By 'sacred' I mean that which is resonant with our own divinity, with our own soul-song, be that our soul-song of joy, of pain, of longing or of belonging. The sacred is to be found in me acting as the Creator with the client as a representative of Creation ...together we birth what can be into what is. Saying this, I know that we are all the Creator, just as we are all Creation, but that as a facilitator I can be She who Creates, marking skin for a purpose that is wholly holy, offering a service which allows us to express manifestly what is unseen under the skin...our sense of spiritual purpose made flesh. Tattooing can be a deeply beneficial process which enables the person being 'inked' feel at home in their own skin. It is so rare for us to find someone who feels comfortable inside their own human body, or proud of it, warts and all, and tattooing ...sensitive, sacred tattooing...can assist in this. When a tattoo flows with the curve of a muscle or follows a serpentine path of energy over the body's landscape then it is something that can awaken us to the true miracle, and inherent beauty, of our own form.

So, in this quest I hope to find a place to work which offers me the opportunity to create a space which is conducive to ritual, celebration and contemplation as well as it being a hygienic work space for tattooing. This is a dream which will come to fruition as I am indeed most sought after for being a tattoo artist. Providing sacred skin art is a service that is needed in these times and I have no doubt that it will all come together when the time is right.

The term ‘wildwitch’ is a lovely, multidimensional word. How important was it to differentiate yourself from other terms such as ‘witch’ or ‘Wiccan’?

Well, without sounding in any way shape or form dismissive or derogatory I am not a 'religious' Witch with a capital 'w' or Wiccan because I don’t have 'beliefs' as such; instead I have simple, green-spirited, free-flowing faith in the sanctity of all life and in the mystery of existence. I strongly agree with the statement that 'beliefs divide us', (as expounded by Tim Freke, author of 'Jesus and Goddess') and don't want to force yet more limiting structures on people which create 'us' and 'them', ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ standpoints. Wicca is now a religion and I am non-religious by definition as the word religion derives from the Latin words ligo (to bind, tie), ‘religio’ (moral obligation, duty) and religiosus (god-fearing). Surely to be bound to one way of seeing, in a condition of fear, is undesirable for a free-thinking spiritual seeker? Also I have never really understood the need for a human-shaped, human-referenced religious deity in a Universe that is surely multi-dimensional and unfathomably vast; it is this limiting human-centricity that I desire so passionately to get away from! Besides this I find the Creator-energy in every being, in each passing moment, and do not desire to look to a higher source than a dandelion or a raindrop or, indeed, my own self, for my affirmation of the divine. Green spirituality is all about the equality of all who are on the Earth-walk...and beyond. It unites rather than divides. The Greening, of which I write and dream, promises a resurgence for the Earth and all her children. I cannot countenance divisions of any sort, really.


Although I acknowledge the wonderful work that is done by many, many Wiccans the world over and rejoice in their wise, Earth-honouring craftings, I find it completely baffling how some people blindly accept the precepts of Gardener or Alex Sanders (or some other 'traditional' leader) as yet another be-all-and-end-all religion; to me this is as disempowering and restrictive as the blind devotions of other 'literalist' religions. I know that Wicca has offered thousands of folk a valid alternative to patriarchal repressive religions (great!) but as autonomous, powerful, spiritual beings surely we need to question everything and have direct personal experiences and intense one-to-one communions with the energies inherent in all beings and places? The idea of swallowing yet more 'received' truths, even as an antidote to society's outmoded beliefs, doesn't seem to me to be too appealing! So, Wiccan? No, although I do have a respect for anyone working positively with wild, green energies for the good of the All, be they Wiccan, Christian, Buddhist or whatever hat they choose to wear!

To come back to the point of my own witchery, I myself was born a natural seer who has an inherent desire (and ability, I hope) to work with energies and to interact positively with the natural world and so I am, undoubtedly, a witch but without a capital 'w'. I think the capital 'w' is a way of denoting a role apart from others and I don't want this as I don't think a witch is any more in need of a capital letter than a plumber, teacher or carpenter. I wouldn't even use a label at all but we are human and we need something to hang our (pointy) hat on! So, why wildwitch? Well, the 'wild' in my (loosely given) label denotes that I was born this way and that I will remain, like the fox or bird, true to my own nature. Having the freedom to explore our own eternal nature whilst honouring nature is what the 'wild' is all about. And the 'witch' part of this denotes that I consider myself to be one who walks between the worlds for the good of the All, working magics in all I do, living an enchanted life with the help of the spirits and striving to be open-hearted, broad-minded and far-seeing. I feel it is important to offer people the alternative of 'wildwitch' as it is now an assumption that the only kinds of witches are Wiccans, be they solitary or coven practitioners. Even wonderful, lyrical hedge witchery isn't quite wild witchery as the former is still more or less recognisable (to one degree or another) as the Craft of the Gardnerians whilst the latter does not have too many of those assumed Wiccan precepts like deity or formal ritual. I guess my concept of wild witchery is more for the natural seer who needs some guidelines for safe interactions with the Otherworlds or who is in need of a bit of inspiration on their journey. It certainly isn't there to offer yet another label or to make another division; it just seeks to acknowledge those of us out there who are witches but not Wiccan types! It's bloody hard work being a witch and often as glamorous as digging a ditch and I know that there are those of us who were just born into that way of being who need a wee bit of guidance, not another set of hard and fast rules. The wild craft is self-regulating, autonomous, fiercely ethical and one hundred percent respectful to all beings....and to all ways of being if they have no harmful intent.

I understand that some years ago you experienced chronic fatigue syndrome, which gave you an opportunity to explore the non-physical realms. Do you think that you would be unaware of those Otherworlds if that illness had not occurred?

I still have M.E. and probably always will to one degree or another. It has been with me since 1988 when I caught glandular fever as a teacher and took one day off before going straight back into teaching and catching more viruses. I didn’t really collapse until 1999 when I had to close my tattoo studio and I so hope that I can open another studio in the next year or so, working limited hours as I regain my strength. I certainly had Otherworld contact before I got so very ill in 1999 but I didn’t have the enforced time to be there with it, day after a day, forging a deeper link and gaining more profound understanding of the Unseen realms. I would say to anyone suffering an ailment or chronic illness right now, or even to those enduring a sustained period of limitation of some sort, it really is valuable and for a reason. This isn’t more facile new-age bullshit, its shining truth! You need to rest and reflect, that's why you are being given the opportunity to do so, so go with it and never let anyone tell you that 'daydreaming' or spirit-walking aren’t beautiful and relevant things to do. Chronic fatigue is often a misnomer as for me it's M.E. all the way as fatigue isn't so much of a problem as pain (daily migraine) and debilitating things like loss of memory. I do want to spread awareness of the validity of this much maligned condition and so will speak out about it at any given opportunity. You know, it's real, it exists and yes, it bloody well hurts but it can have a profound purpose in our lives no matter how pointless and grim it may appear at times. It often strikes those of us who are, by our very nature, wildwitches or sensitives or seers and it is a way of our bodies (and the spirits) saying to us 'you can't run around like other folk, you just have to smell the roses more often and walk gently! So rest and talk with us and we will help you formulate a new way of being that is more akin to your soul-nature and less akin to society's frenetic pace!'

You currently live in Glastonbury, England, which is deemed to be a very mystical place. How important is it for you to live in a place that has such a mythical/magical reputation? Do you think you could ever live in places like New York, or Sydney?

Ah, but I live in Wells now which is the smallest city in the UK and very beautiful! For me, Glastonbury was the most unfriendly and unspiritual little town I have ever endured. I have lived in Liverpool, London and Manchester (big cities with bad reputations) and yet Glastonbury outdid them all for sheer unfriendliness. I think that there is zero that is spiritual about the High Street of a small Somerset market town called Glastonbury, except, of course, for the birds and beetles that live there! However, if you asked me about Avalon, the landscape of that area, then I know its got magic and power, for sure. I have seen the earth-lights dancing on the Tor at twilight…and no I do not do drugs or drink! That area is a portal that has been blocked with too much human want and need and desire and should probably never have been lived on/in; it‘s a place for pilgrimage, not dwelling. So, no to living in Glastonbury! But could I live back in a city? No, but only because I tend to suck up other peoples stress and pain like a human vacuum cleaner and I do tend to take on the land's condition too. So if the land is polluted and the people are stressed then voila!...so am I! I find I can heal when I am able to be in a place which is green and open and as 'un-peopled' as possible but that doesn’t mean I am anti-city or find them 'less than' country areas. Hey, I could be a wildwitch living on a main road in a place like North London, (believe me I've done it!), but I can be more effective if I live somewhere that is wilder and greener. I don’t want to be a hermit on a moor but I do need to be with the land to some degree, yes. Don't we all, really? The sadness of this age is that so many of us are literally forced to live apart from the cycles and rhythms of the wild land in order to survive…even when this survival is reliant on fossil fuels without which that fine veneer of ‘civilisation’ would surely crumble and fall. Likewise if there were a natural event that humanity perceives as a disaster (Mother Earth may see it quite differently) then the structure of society wouldn’t last long at all. But that’s another rant all together!

On your website, you often display the words, ‘Walk in Peace and Find Your Stars.’ What is your star? And where do you hope it will lead you?

Oh, I got this from one of the most beautiful and life changing books which I read about fifteen years ago at a point when I was thinking "hey, what the **** am I?!" I want to publicise it here so I will say that it was Gael Baudino's 'Strands of Starlight'. In it the characters had to centre themselves on their own inner constellation in order to be effective when working with energy. The book was about the transformation of a natural, frail healer-seer (witch) who was bitter about society/her persecution into a powerful Elf-woman filled with compassion and starlight. I held that notion and allowed it to become brightly and gently woven into my own consciousness. I found my stars through that book, really. To find our stars we need to go within to the velvet dreaming depths of our soul's night and witness that which makes us shine from the firmament we hold inside. To hold that star, to shine with it, is to walk in peace, in balance and beauty. Each of us has a very different star. I have found mine. That which illumines me is my ability to be a soul-poet; someone who can facilitate deeper understanding through evocative image and discourse. To find our stars is the single most valuable thing we can do, it will give life meaning and magic if we only afford ourselves the time to go within and look beyond the temporal into the eternal being-ness of self. By doing this we may also witness the firmament and so see our intrinsic connection to all the other stars...to All-that-Is. I now wear a star around my neck as it reminds me that we are all made of the same material as the distant fiery suns that illumine our nights; it says to me that we are one another and we are All-that-Is. The star is a powerful, protective, inspiring and unifying symbol to me. We are all that has ever shone and we find ourselves like stars...

(Incidentally the website to which you refer is now closed. A new one at www.poppypalin.org will be along shortly!)

Your pagan artwork is featured in books by Rae Beth, and in many of your other books, but ‘Craft of the Wild Witch’ doesn’t use any of your artwork, not even on the cover... Is there a reason for this?

They (Llewellyn, publisher) wouldn’t let me, said it wouldn’t sell! They turned down my art and cover. Believe me, what they had in mind for the cover for 'Craft of the Wild Witch' at first was far worse that what I ended up with so I accepted it, with sadness of course. It seems mad that Rae has my artwork to illustrate her books and I don’t have it…but I loved doing hers and am grateful for that opportunity at least! I have also illustrated 'Green Spirituality' by Rosa Romani which is definitely worth a plug here!

When writing about various times of the day, phases of the moon, and tides of the seasons, your writing is so poetic and full of reverence that it’s hard for me to work out if you have any favourites! Or do you simply find beauty and joy in all that you experience in the wild?

No, I am not unbiased! I would have to say dark moon, I am a dark moon nut. Yes! The whole waning is wonderful for the wildwitch who is not afraid to ‘look beyond’. And I love feisty autumn's turn into uncompromising, steely winter. I find summer to be essentially 'a tart' and far too obvious...give me the subtlety of a wind-whipped, briar-scoured November day above a glorious June! And bare black trees outlined like charred gallows against a blanched sky. Or silver gulls highlighted against the bruise of a storm cloud. I adore the 'un-peopled' aspect of twilight and shadows, of the desolate landscape in the throws of its abandon to hard frost and early dusk. I love the crone, the deep dank cave, the cawing of crows over stubble-fields, the stripped, pared bones of existence and that which is resolutely, unapologetically DARK! As the soul-poet Nick Drake once sang 'the darkness can give the brightest light'. I adore the concept of the 'dazzling darkness', isn't it so evocative? ‘Samhain’ to Midwinter has to be the witches time par excellence!

Well, its been a pleasure...I am amazed I have ground to a halt! Goodness but I have a lot to say! Thanks so much for the rare opportunity to really share.

In gratitude, may you find YOUR stars! In peace...

Poppy P, 15.03.2005


Interview with the Druid Network http://druidnetwork.org
Hi Poppy, and thank you for agreeing to be interviewed by The Druid Network. Can I start by asking, for those who are unfamiliar with your work, some background into what you do, and what interests you?

Well, I’m a green-spirited writer; my sole aim is to express my deep tender love for the Earth and its inhabitants for the purpose of touching others. I desire to move people and give them the practical tools to follow up their emotional response with ecological and magical action. This I combine with enchantment to enable those with a similarly green-spirited heart to feel empowered again, as part of a sacred process; to help them be able to make an unseen, as well as a seen, difference. The only thing about this which I find doesn’t sit easy with me is the fact that most publishers don’t think that using recycled paper, or that certified as ancient forest friendly, is feasible. So my dilemma is do I not write and at all and so deny my soul-urge, or can I find a way of living with the devastation of trees that restores my own sense of integrity and balance? I do not know if I have achieved that yet but what I do, religiously one might say, is to pick up every wee bit of paper I see and recycle it. That means all those receipt, tickets, chewing gum wrappers etc find their rightful home of my recycling bucket! This I do with an immense attitude of gratitude. Everything likes this that we can do counts. I’m trying to redress the balance in the context of this age.

You describe yourself as “a soul-poet, singer and wild enchantress. Can you elaborate on that a little. What do those words mean to you, what do they conjure in your minds-eye?

A soul-poet is one that paints with words that glow with the eternal presence of spirit. These words awaken our wild heart and the knowledge that we are fabulous immortal beings, beyond flesh yet gloriously within it today. A soul-poet seeks to weave words with both delicate poignancy and with ferocious passion, thus reflecting the natural elemental aspects of life on the Mother Earth. Her words are never lightly spoken, except with a lightness born of joy and that ever-present shining of our own spirits. That is what I aspire to be, a lyrical woman with plenty of soul, creating something that fires me up, lifts me higher, washes me clean and earths me…and hopefully what I do will have a similar effect on others. Its all about being inspiring and being inspired, whilst constantly encouraging our companions along the way.

So, sometimes I write and sometimes I sing as a soul-poet. I was in a rock band until recently but now am working on several more soulful, ambient musical projects with my partner. Physically I wasn't up to the demands of being a rock chick!! However, with both my written and sung words I aim to bring the magic back to life and am therefore a wild enchantress too, dancing between life and death, spirit and matter, with endless respect and unbridled delight. That’s what I love, it’s who I am and it’s a lot simpler than it sounds!

What defines your spirituality? Would you describe yourself as a Druid? Or perhaps as someone following another path?

You know, I have such a massive respect for, and kinship with, modern Druids and the general ethical ethos of Druidry as it is perceived today; Bobcat is such a shining example and simply one of the most honourable, creative and poetic people I have ever had the pleasure to spend time with. So, I enjoy and appreciate the energy of modern Druidry but I follow my faith, I have no beliefs. Beliefs divide me from others and keep me tethered and so I prefer to know…that I do not know, and flow on. Instead of belief I am seeking gnosis with every breath and honouring the sacred in each interaction with another being. My guiding light is my own immortal soul as it journeys and the generous, wise companion spirits who walk with me. My path is off the beaten track and, although it runs close by, and has similarities to, those who are Druids, Wiccan (or solitary Hedge) witches and modern pagans, my path is not one with a name. A way of wild enchantment comes closest but its just a green spirituality; very pure and powerfully simple!

In your book 'Craft of the Wild Witch – Green Spirituality and Natural Enchantment' you talk of connecting to the powers of nature, with practical examples of how to do this. As I read it I felt that it would sing to those already attuned to that desire. But how do you think we can bring the need to connect to the Earth around us, to the spirits around us, to those who will not listen? Also, you talk of environmental awareness and action – how can we be effective in this without stepping over the threshold of ‘unacceptable behaviour’, as seen by what I can only describe as mainstream society? Can we be effective without confrontation, and just through peaceful protest? And if we can, how do we go about it?

This contains one of the most important questions I will ever be asked so can I address the pressing issue of what to do with ‘those who will not listen’ or rather ‘those who do not feel as we do’? A few years back, a woman said to me that my worrying about society's views on this or that (in this case, society’s opinion on aging) was ‘none of my business’. Now I see the truth in this bald statement as I can only take responsibility for myself and let that filter outwards. I cannot, for instance, ‘tut-tut’ or get a judgemental attitude because someone else eats meat just because I haven’t for twenty three years and find it abhorrent. As an aside, I know that a hero of mine, Morrissey, gets a huge attitude on and won’t let someone eat meat in his presence or even form friendships with meat eaters. Well, that’s good for him but I prefer the’ Jamie Sams route’ right now, which is I aim to have compassion, if I can, and I just remain totally responsible for my actions and thoughts…and no one else’s. You know, what if that person eating his steak just hasn’t been exposed to the facts of factory farming or abattoirs yet? What if they're just not ready to make that connection? We can provide that information and act as examples but no more than this, what will banishing them or haranguing them do except make them angry or fed up? I see my role as a sort of alarm clock that offers a wake up call in beautiful ways; I am a gently challenging buzzer! Better still I would like to be as birdsong, filtering into conciousness, waking people as our feathered kin do...I find that these days I am inspired more and more by the flight of birds and less by human concepts, to be honest!

Along these lines it may be pertinent for me to say that I don’t share the view that those who aren’t ‘perfect’ are unspiritual or ‘less than’. I heard recently that people think Khalil Gibran is perhaps not worth reading because he had addiction problems. This seems totally narrow and judgemental to me…what Gibran the man chose to do to himself as part of his journey should not affect our appreciation of what Gibran the spirit created! I don’t think that any of us can afford to ‘get an attitude on’ because of what someone else chooses to do, or to see people’s physical actions and to overlook their bigger soul-picture. I think that just by being, with complete awareness and integrity, the best most loving beings we can be then we are having far more of an effect than if we keep blowing our energy on anger and making ‘us’ and them’ situations in our heads and lives.

Now, I am not saying that I sail through this issue with blithe grace, far from it. This is whole compassionate way of being can be hard…damn hard…and we all have our Achilles heel. My weak spots are manifold, but top of the list always is cruelty to our creature-kin. I feel ravening hatred for the hunters and vitriolic violent rage towards the vivisectionists yet I cannot go and blow them up, much as it would be temporarily satisfying. I aim to combine peaceful protest, campaigning, fundraising, boycotting of products etc and spreading information and use these as my ‘weapons’ alongside the way I live my life today. In as much as I admire the A.L.F etc I cannot find it within me to cause wilful destruction as one of my own most fervent prayers is ‘let me be peace’. In such situations the Serenity Prayer comes to mind as well as my utter conviction in the magical power of my own thoughts. Thoughts are our ‘weapons’, thoughts which can be just as effective at changing the web of existence as practical actions. I make magic with my thoughts, in a powerful yet subtle way, all the time when I accompany a meaningful gesture with a prayer. If our lives become an unfolding paean of praise for creation then enchantment is always part of what we do and the deep effects of enchantment should never be underestimated. Living an integrated magical life we become strong, stronger than the abusers and the destroyers. What we do does, and will, have an effect if we ‘keep on keepin’ on’. To resort to violence or hatred is to underestimate, or negate, our own inherent magical power. Righteous anger or violent behaviour against a perceived enemy creates that undesirable state of 'good' and 'evil', or 'us' and 'them' and as spiritual warriors, not evangelical crusaders, this is to be avoided. As Ghandi said, 'an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind'. We have other means to affect change.

So, it’s a thorny knotty subject to be sure and one that I am currently really working on. My editor at Llewellyn and I have been having discussions along just these lines as she too is an animal rights campaigner and has been wondering if she should join a group that uses violent direct action. I hope what I have said here will spark yet more discussions, I really do feel that the key is for us to see each day as an ongoing, unfolding prayer so that what we do is kind, is honest and full of integrity. If we are fully 'awake' as beings then we are fully aware of the consequences of our being on All-That-Is. Really, it is relatively easy to begin affecting change; we can all get active in such simple ways such as by writing informed letters of protest, by not buying certain products and going out of our way to find better, cleaner, more ethical ones, by attending demonstrations and adding our number, and BY NEVER GIVING UP OR THINKING IT ISNT WORTH IT. As a note here my health is pretty unstable to say the least and so I fully appreciate that we can’t all go out and protest or get active even if we wanted to. I would love to be a hunt saboteur but even my attempt at driving them to meets was thwarted by my recalcitrant body! However, most websites for ethical organisations, such as the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (www.buav.org), have a list of other things we can do to help. Every little counts, along with our focussed intent.

In conclusion, it is so damn hard to witness humans directly harming creatures, trees, the Mother Earth or eachother and not perform some act of war on them in retribution. I struggle with this daily. But, just for today, this is how I feel. I guess my little article on the Fairford protest in 2003 against the Iraq ‘war’ goes some way to add weight to my feelings. It can presently be found at www.poppypalin.net although that website is now officially closed.

What have been the main influences on both your spirituality and your environmental activism? And did you have someone who was inspirational to you growing up? If so, who was it and why?

I had no one at all to influence or inspire me as I grew up. I was brought up in a (very loving) working class household in Birkenhead, near Liverpool. There were no books, although I could read before I went to school, and there was no stimulus beyond mainstream ‘Seventies TV.I doubt that the Sweeney did much to shape me! I had absolutely no spiritual, magical, historical or ecological input at home or school. The general ethos around was pretty racist, materialist and, besides a lame Christianity, unspiritual. It was music that made me grow. I began going to see bands very early on and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of music and a huge passion for it. My first real influence on my life and ethics was the anarchist punk band Crass and their associated musicians. I stopped eating meat, became a feminist and a pacifist and opened my eyes to the crimes of society because of Crass; they were my full-on wake-up call and I have stayed awake ever since. This awareness/lucidity was interrupted only once for a period of a couple of years when I abused drugs and alcohol to try and 'numb myself out' of all the powerful feelings I was having about injustice...and also to try and get my natural psychic ability to shut down as it scared me. I don't touch any recreational drug now save tea and a few skinny roll-ups per week and I find not watching TV or being exposed to the mainstream media helps keep me alert to what I am feeling.

I actually lived in cities until I was twenty eight with no knowledge of how to grow a vegetable or tend a herb and with an untrained and unchecked psychism. My own sensitive soul came up from the rough compost of my unguided beginnings and made of itself what it would, with the help of music, but I had to wait until I was twenty eight before my flower heads grew any petals.Then I met the most fabulous green-spirited man, Mark Austin, and his (now ex) wife Rae Beth. Mark was the most fantastic teacher who enabled me to understand my psychic self and Rae was a great inspiration for living in a green-spirited, magical way. These two opened the petals and people like Satish Kumar, Carolyn Hillyer, Lisa Tenzin Dolma, Jamie Sams, Mary Summer Rain, Jill Smith, Bobcat and countless others, many who I have never even met, have kept them watered for me ever since. You know, it is rare to find someone of a green-spirited, or deeply spiritual, persuasion who grew up as I did but I know there must be some more…I just never meet them! Are you out there?!

And who and what inspires you today?

Ah, those folk mentioned above! I now seek out anyone who is ‘beyond belief’ and not of a certain creed or path, rather questing freely whilst retaining their compassion and green-spirited earthiness. The people I have encountered through tattooing are generally like this, bless them, and they have all inspired me greatly through their lasting physical commitment to their own spirit-paths. People like Timothy Freke are incredibly inspirational too and I wholeheartedly encourage anyone to attend one of his seminars. Along with Tim I enjoy the work of Dr Michael Newton who is looking at the way of the spirit without a 'religious' context. As a writer of fiction myself I love fiction writers like Charles De Lint, real soul-food! Steven King’s ‘Dark Tower’ series is phenomenal as a work of imagination but also inspires me as a glimpse of the reality of multiple levels of existence…as he says ‘there are more lives than these’. I also love Phil Rickman and any writer who combine the everyday lives of folk with magic and spiritual meaning. I aim to bring the enchantment back to the every day in just such a way.

Other artists inspire me too. Andy Goldsworthy’s natural sculptures in the landscape make me cry or gasp aloud, such is their soul-poetry. I love the work of Jan Morgan Wood and Sam Lauren Smith along with a whole host of others such as Lucien Levy Dhurmer but I could start getting boring here…its a visual thing after all! However if I could recommend the work of Ken Bushe on www.kenbushe.co.uk …pure elemental eloquence.

Then there’s music! Paul Weller is such an inspiration, he has been since I saw him perform age 13 at my first gig! He is getting better and better with age and is still so passionate and thought-provoking as well as writing such sweet, sweet songs. If there is a god in my life it’s definitely Paul! I also love U2 and their ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’ CD is one that got me through a really emotional, hard transition…it proved to me that through such creativity we can affect change in others. I have just discovered the Dave Matthews Band… their ‘Dreaming Tree’ has to be one of the most haunting and moving things I have ever heard. I have music I play to inspire me for each season, such as Kate Bush or Ed Alleyne Johnson, and am now creating my own. My partner Gary is also a huge inspiration, as is my ever-deepening love for him.

And finally the land…my heart will always be on the wild, high moors of Southern England although it finds comfort and strength in the downs of Marlborough and Warminster, Wiltshire as well as in the rocky places of Somerset. I adore, am completely besotted by, the land and its attendant energies. And I am utterly entranced by our creature-kin, especially the feathered kind. And the foxes. The land is so inspiring!

What were and are the main influences on your paganism?

I am not a pagan…a common misconception which is entirely understandable... unless you count my paganism as being with a small ‘p’ , as in ‘of the land’! I do not worship, save in my everyday acts of loving communion, and have no deity. I do however have faith in the Great Mystery and an overwhelming and undying affection for the Mother Earth and the beings she graciously allows to grow upon, within and above her skin. Although I have complete and utter respect for my fellow Pagans (with that all important capital P!) I do not share their desire to re-invent or resurrect past religions, or to even have a religion, and certainly not to worship or petition deity. In ‘Green Spirituality’ (by Rosa Romani) she says how important she feels it is to understand the difference between spirituality and religion. My free-flowing spirituality is resolutely green and in this I have a mutual, beautiful link with everyone who walks today in a pagan way. I enjoy speaking with Pagans and sharing their lives and feel fully enriched for sharing our common and verdant ground. Many of my friends are Pagan and I don't think it matters one jot that I am not.

Your set of divination cards – 'Tarot of the Wild Sprit' - received widespread praise and, from some traditionalist Tarot readers, some criticism too. What are your feelings towards those who expressed such different points of view on these cards?

Ah, a chance to set the record straight! I didn’t actually want them to be called Tarot as they were blatantly not a Tarot deck! I sent them out to the publisher as ‘divination cards’ and they insisted on Tarot so there we are…that’s why they are not a tarot except in the publishers desire to market them as such. Ho hum. No wonder people raved either way. I would like people to approach them as what they are…aids for transformation enhanced by magical fiction and imagery. I have tried to avoid the nit-picking reviews about its lack of worth as a tarot...its not my fault that its got the wrong misleading label on it! Just enjoy the artwork and the lyricism of the stories and forget it is a tarot, work with it your own way is what I say.In that way it has value and worth.

Can you tell us a little more about your artistic work – which was strongly in evidence in your tarot cards? And about your thoughts on body art? For some a tattoo is a sacred act. Would you also see it in that way?

Tattooing is a vast part of who I am and it has grew unbidden, reflecting the genuine need of green-spirited folk to have a rite of passage that is relevant today. To this end I am slowly compiling a new book, ‘Sacred Skin’ which will catalogue in beautiful detail my past clients and other willing participants as they reveal their inked skin in gorgeous photographs and tell their own tales to inspire or guide others who are considering this permanent step. The tattoo really is a tool for transformation…I have witnessed it many times. And as tattooist I have been part of that, what an honour! I am so grateful that I have the ability to work with people to bring about such profound and lasting change. I have seen, and personally experienced, the effects of bad or careless, soulless tattooing. It can ruin someone’s self image. However, with what I have done, and no doubt others too, there is such an opportunity to express the eternal spirit in a glorious, organic external way, flowing with the body we walk in. It’s great! And also very sacred as it is such an act of bravery in which there has to be an honouring both of the process and the journey as well as of the flesh we walk in. We can unify eternal and corporeal so beautifully succinctly with a well-placed, symbolic and stunningly executed tattoo. The pain is also part of this process; it suggests a sacrifice or an offering of ourselves which really gives a sense of a huge, powerful statement of intent.

You frequently talk of ‘soul-poetry’ and you are about to release two new CD’s of song. When you write poetry what are your thoughts and feelings? What are attempting to achieve through poetry and song?

To me my music and my lyricism are as one. The music I hope to make with Gary came from soul-poems I once wrote whilst out on the Somerset levels, alone. I found myself moving to a rhythm there and plucking the words from my journey. I ended up with ten soul-poems which came with their own innate tune and tempo. They were forged from the land at particular times of year and are resonant with the spirit of place as well as the emotional response I had to it. There will hopefully be two CD’s of these to begin with, which we are aiming to record and produce ourselves. There will be details of this on the Rosa website and then eventually on my own website when I get it up and running. After this we may do more ‘rock’ music with beautiful poetic lyrics…who knows…but we will still create music, of whatever flavour and colour.

The awareness of nature in all you do is very strong. With the cycles of sun and moon, of the seasons and the tides, do these forces affect your work, colour your words and artistry? And, if so, do you have a favourite (or least favourite!) time of year? And why?

Autumn. October. I want to eat it with a big spoon...I wish it lasted longer! I used to be a sun worshipping lizard whilst craving autumn…now I forget the sun, I simply crave autumn! My body has been overruled by my soul! I cannot think of anything more wonderful than an October day. Today is just that, a blue skies and scarlet leaves sort of day when the world is defined in sharp relief. Perfect! But I also adore the other kind of autumn day, a day of mists and sighs in shades of mauve and grey. I think many of us feel completely in tune with autumn’s song. For me it is not just because of the stunning colours of the season but also because I love the melancholy, the sense of passing, and of death. I am a person who loves to ‘go to ground’ and earth myself in fogous and long/round barrows with the spirits of the ancestors. I am very at home with old bones,granite stone, wild crones and the cawing of crows.

You seem to be one of the few artists who honour and illustrate your work with images of older women – the crone if you will. Why do you do this? And what do you think of others who concentrate on the beauty of youth alone?

YES!! I am totally dedicated to the depicting of older women, from realistic mothers to fantastic wrinkled grandmothers. There’s nothing wrong with the ‘maiden’ image, although it is over-venerated and used, but I need realism please! We are, as a society, sick with the cult of youth but, as I have previously stated, that’s not my business. All I can do, once again, is create my artwork and reflect the absolute beauty of older women back into a very dis-eased human world. It is vital to me and to who I am to create these powerful female images. VITAL.

I personally find about ninety five percent of art branded as ‘pagan’ to be really repugnant. If I see another badly drawn Guinevere type on a Persil unicorn, or a fairy with Barbie-tits I’ll surely vomit! I try to avoid such soulless things. Along with this I hate all the pseudo-glamour of the whole witchy thing. It doesn’t sit well with me, it’s unbalanced and false and perpetuates the lie of standardised female beauty. A particular pet hate is those awful paintings of goddesses who are meant to look like Celtic/medieval romantic ideals. Excuse me but where’s the leg hair, the under arm hair, the general look of people who hardly washed and didn’t possess a whitening toothpaste?! These uber-babe goddesses are glossy even by today's air-brushed standards! When I see a depiction of a Celtic woman, or a medieval one, with body hair it'll be a fine day indeed! It’s horrible that pagans tolerate such a low standard of artwork with such plastic, static subjects, which is why I like Carolyn Hillyer so much…those are real women in all their enchanting glory that she paints; her art is inhabited by wise and wonderful, colourful spirits.

I think it'd be beneficial for those walking an Earth-honouring path, in beauty and true balance, to move away from these standard pagan images and into a far more potent realisation of what it means to be incarnated as a female...and also as a male! (I could also ask where are the strong realistic male images?!) Pagan artists really could be making a far more magical statement and even weaving a great spell for equality and respect with their work instead of pandering to the youth cult and expressing something that verges on naff masturbatory fantasy at times.

I am always one for questioning things (thank you Crass!) but can I also say while I am on a roll here, why do Stonehenge and all other Neolithic-era monuments get lumped in as 'Celtic'? You see so many paintings of standing stones, especially Stonehenge, alongside romanticised Merlin's or Morgans or Celtic Deities. These monuments were pre-Celtic, pre-Druid...they are of the periods before the Celts came to Britain. Surely that's obvious? Sure, the Celts may have worked with them later but they were not the builders of such fantastic structures although we could be forgiven for overlooking this fact in light of what is presented. I truly feel that with all the imagery around today that we are fashioning an attractive myth and forgetting truth, burying it under a convenient glamour. I'm sure the pre-Celtic peoples of this land did not look half as glam or exciting as the Celts. As well as this, we know very little of the lives of the Neolithic ancestors up until later Celtic Britain,details of their worship or their apparel is lost to us as the Romans hadn't been here to write up their version of British life. Perhaps that's why its preferable to shift the time frame forward a thousand years or so and put in those peoples we do know a little more about, those statuesque and lovely people we know as Celts. Artwork is a powerful thing and reinforcing and perpetuating a lie through it is not, to my mind, desirable. Instead lets reflect and celebrate the glorious gritty truth, there is romance and magic enough to be found in that. We can use more of our imagination freely, and tune in with greater effectiveness to the spirits, if we are not stuck within a false framework. Then our art can truly shine.

It seems you are always very busy! Do you have time for hobbies? If you do, what are they?

No! I don’t have time for anything much beyond being driven to create, reflect and experience. You know, I am supposed to be resting and getting better from my long-term health problems but my soul has other ideas. My whole life, my work, my creativity, is who I am. There is no ‘free time’ and ‘work time’ as such. I just do what I do. However, a day on the moors, be that Exmoor, Dartmoor or West Penwith is just bliss and a welcome break, if my body is up to the challenge. I do try and get out every day somewhere, even if I can only manage ten minutes, and I am so lucky to live where I do where there are so many glorious places. I guess being outside is a hobby…or a passion.

Can you tell us about some of your previous books? What inspired you to write them?

Beyond a need to share and inspire I felt the urge to communicate that we are not alone. Whether that’s with our desire to recycle, or with our latent psychic abilities, or our need to understand and work good magic….we are NOT alone. It’s important in such a fragmented, boxed-up society to feel such a strong connection. To get feedback. I write because I am a word-painter and need to write, but also because I want to make those connections, unseen but powerful, across the land. Books do that as do music and art, they are means to make lasting, loving and deep links with others although we may never physically meet. Magic!

And what of the future? Are there things you still wish to do, to create?

I never stop needing to do things; there’s a list of projects and ideas for me to do that’s as long as Mr Tickle’s arm and I am just waiting for my body to catch up with my mind and spirit and let me do them! All I know is that the spirit is still moving me to share. I’ll flow with that until it leads me elsewhere. And it’s such a privilege to be able to share like this with you. Thank you, especially for letting me express how I feel at length. It is a real joy to share, bless you.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Poppy.

© The Druid Network 2003-5 http://druidnetwork.org

 

Letter to Local Press

This was sent after the supposed ban of hunting with dogs on Friday 18th February 2005

Dear Editor,

On Saturday 19th, just one day after the ban which by law forbids the senseless ripping apart of foxes, I was appalled to witness the flagrant flouting of said law by the Mendip Farmers Hunt as they paraded through the streets on their way to carry out their usual acts of barbarous cruelty. This sense of personal outrage was compounded by the complicity of the Police in this disgraceful act of civil disobedience. What other proponents of cruel and illegal acts would be allowed the run of the High Street on a Saturday to (almost literally) blow their own trumpet of defiance with full backing of the constabulary? When I posed this very question I was told by one PC that I too would be allowed to hold up the traffic and get police protection if I organised such a march for ‘my cause’...a cause which, by direct contrast, would not be illegal, only compassionate. I doubt that such a march, if allowed, would ever happen as those of us who fail to be intimidated by the bully-boy entourage of the Hunt and those of us with a keen sense of right and wrong already have too much to do. We'll be the ones trying to monitor these hunters as they break the law over and over, trying to stop them inflicting pain on sentient beings in the name of an outlawed and archaic ‘sport’. Tell me, if it really were all about ‘sport’ then wouldn’t drag hunting do as a replacement (legal) countryside pursuit?

Yours, Poppy Palin B.Ed (Hons)