Music, Chants, Songs and Dances
Listen to Joseph Nemeth talking about his Missa Druidica and hear samples in the video clip at the end of this page. Better quality samples can be heard by listening to the audio files on this page. See also Joseph’s website Themon’s Musings.
See Nickomo & Rasullah’s website for details of CDs and books: www.nickomoandrasullah.com
A perpetual calendar that presents the Celtic/Druidic festivals alongside their Christian counterparts, with illustrations, exercises and folklore. See MysticChrist.co.uk for details. Here is a sample page:
The Naked Hermit: A Journey to the Heart of Celtic Britain by Nick Mayhew-Smith, SPCK Publishing 2019
Descending into the darkness of a long-abandoned hermit’s cave, wading naked into an icy sea to pray, spending the night on a sacred mountain, Nick Mayhew-Smith recounts an extraordinary one-man mission to revive the ancient devotions of Britain’s most enigmatic holy places. Based on ground-breaking research into the transition from Paganism to Christianity, this book invites the reader on a journey into the heart of the Celtic wilderness, exploring the deep-seated impulse to mark natural places as holy. It ends with a vision of how we can recover our harmony with the rest of creation: with the landscape, the weather and the wildlife, and ultimately with the body itself. Hear an interview with the author.
The Shaken Path: A Christian Priest’s Exploration of Modern Pagan Belief and Practice by Paul Cudby, Christian Alternative 2017
The Shaken Path is a detailed account of the Revd Paul Cudbys research into modern Pagan pathways. Stemming from a period of study leave, Paul immersed himself in many different Pagan worlds, meeting, befriending and experiencing Pagan beliefs and practices in a spirit of openness and friendly Christian engagement. The result, a description of and reflection on, the worlds of Wiccans, Witches, Druids, Heathens, Animists and Shamans, is an in-depth description and critical reflection on what he found.
Celebrating Planet Earth, a Pagan/Christian Conversation edited by Denise Cush, Moon Books 2015
Arising out of the Ammerdown meeting of Druids, Pagans and Christians in 2014, this collection of essays will appeal to Pagans and Christians interested in making connections; academics and students in Religious Studies taking courses on inter-faith dialogue, Paganism or Christianity; and anyone with an interest in inter-faith activities. Contributors include leading figures in the British Pagan, especially Druid, world, in the Christian Forest Church movement and earth-centred Christianity and academics in the field of religious studies. As well as academic discussion, there is a practical emphasis on personal spirituality and ritual practice, and the possibility of these being shared across the Pagan and Christian traditions.
Forest Church by Bruce Stanley, Mystic Christ Press, 2013
From the book’s description: “I’d rather be on the mountains thinking of God, than in Church thinking of the Mountains, wrote John Muir. Many people can describe transcendent moments in nature where they feel deeply connected to something bigger than themselves and Forest Church is a way to explore that connection within community; a new way of being church. Forest Church is a fresh expression of church drawing on much older traditions when sacred places and practices were outside but it is also drawing on contemporary research that highlights the benefits of spending time with nature in wild places. ‘God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars’ wrote Martin Luther. Forest Church isn’t just normal church happening outside, instead it attempts to participate with creation. And it isn’t just a fellowship group doing an outside activity, we aim to learn, worship, meditate, pray and practice with the trees, at the spring, along the shore. Throughout the ages people have walked this path within the Christ tradition and have found a meaningful expression of their spirituality, finding inspiration and structure through the rhythms of the seasons, the characteristics of plants and animals and the sacredness of place along with the wisdom of the scriptures and the pattern of prayers. This book will be a resource to anyone exploring facilitating Forest Church whether as a self-contained group, a retreat, a group holiday or as an occasional event attached to an existing church. In many ways it will also inspire any individual wanting to explore their own sacred nature connection.’
One Amazon reviewer is critical: ‘if you’re a Christian who wants to play at Paganism, or a Pagan who wants to play at Church, then this may be the book for you.’
But most reviewers love the idea of the Forest Church: ‘Bruce Stanley’s easy to read, inspiring, practical book is written with his skills as a life coach and a naturalist to the fore. He takes spirituality beyond its traditional confines of building and doctrine to a new kind of church that is earthed in experience of the outside world and the One who made it. His refreshing, inclusive and enthusiastic approach is timely and will speak to today’s hunger for a church that can reach wider and touch deeper simply by starting with the ground we stand on.’ Tess Ward, Chaplain and author of The Celtic Wheel of the Year.
Earthed: Christian Perspectives on Nature Connection – Essays by Various Authors, Mystic Christ Press 2014
The first Forest Church groups arose towards the end of 2012. The book Forest Church by Bruce Stanley (see above) appeared the following year, aiming to enable these groups to develop their own practices. Written over the winter of 2013/14, Earthed, the third publication from Mystic Christ Press, is an attempt by sixteen practitioners to share their early reflections. It includes essays that are poetic, practical and personal as well as those that are more academic and theological in nature. Reflecting the Forest Church movement, it avoids making universal claims, but rather explores possibilities and invites readers to engage in a transformative process. It addresses some of the history of Christian thought, unearthing ancient understanding that predates and challenges our present-day technocracy, and shows a way for Christians to engage positively with other earth-based spiritualities.
This book is now out of print and therefore hard copies are relatively rare. If you have trouble getting hold of a copy try contacting your nearest Forest Church group in the UK. It does not appear to be available in e-book form.
The Lives Around Us: Daily Meditations for Nature Connection by Dan Papworth, Christian Alternative 2016
The Lives Around Usis a series of short meditations for individuals or groups. It can serve as a Lent book or at any time of the year. Its purpose is to tap into the present public interest in nature connection and encourage this to be formed in concert with Bible reading and regular (daily or weekly) prayer.
Each chapter begins with descriptive reflection on a specific creature (animal, plant, fungus, mineral) followed by one or two thoughts about what we can do for them practically. There is a Bible reading and then a section that encourages prayer and sometimes a prayerful activity.
Author Dan Papworth first trained in Environmental Science and later studied Theology, in which he has a Masters Degree. He was ordained in 1999 and has worked in a variety of settings, including parishes and hospital chaplaincy. He is the founder and facilitator of Cheltenham Forest Church, having been part of the Forest Church movement from its beginnings. He is a co-author of Earthed: Christian Perspectives on Nature Connection and a contributor at the Greenbelt Festival. He now works part time and is an author and spiritual director. He has lived in Cheltenham since 2008.
The Gnostic Celtic Church: A Manual and Book of Liturgy by John Michael Greer, Lorian Press, 2013
The Gnostic Celtic Church (GCC) is an independent sacramental church of nature spirituality affiliated with the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), a contemporary Druid order. The GCC has chosen to establish what was once called a regular clergy, as distinct from a secular clergy-that is to say, something much closer to monks than to ministers. This was the core model for clergy in the old Celtic Church in Ireland, Wales, Brittany, and other Celtic nations, in the days before the Roman papacy imposed its rule on the lands of Europe’s far west. Members of the Celtic clergy were monks first and foremost, living lives focused on service to the Divine rather than the needs of a congregation, and those who functioned as priests for local communities did so as a small portion of a monastic lifestyle that embraced many other dimensions. In all Gnostic traditions, personal religious experience is the goal that is set before each aspirant and the sole basis on which questions of a religious nature can be answered-certain teachings have been embraced as the core values from which the Gnostic Celtic Church as an organization derives its broad approach to spiritual issues. Those core teachings may be summarized in the words “Gnostic, Universalist, and Pelagian” which are described in this book.
The Path of The Blue Raven by Mark Townsend, O Books, 2006
‘I was really honoured to have been sent a pre-release copy of this book by the author so that EOLAS could print a review prior to the November release date. But I was even more honoured when having read the book and sent a courteous reply to Mark that I discovered a true friend and spiritual companion too. What I want to get across before I get into the nitty-gritty of the book review is that Mark Townsend is a genuine, honest and enthusiastic guy. Since receiving his book we’ve had many lengthy exchanges via e-mail and he is most definitely a man who sees the magic in the world and constantly strives to awaken that magical spark in others in both his writing and his day job as a magician, spiritual guide and minister. This is a true story of the authors own journey from being drawn to Christianity at an early age, through accepting his calling and ordination to his chance meeting with Druidry and a new found understanding of the magic that he thought he’d never find. This is not a book for any Christian committed to their faith and ignorant of alternatives as it has already ruffled some feathers within the Church, but in my opinion we should all go through points in our journeys where we have a major crisis of faith and it either makes that faith stronger or we move on to what feels right. And that is just what Mark describes and he chose to join us in the realm of Druidry. When I read ‘The Path of The Blue Raven’ I immediately wanted to go out and buy 5 copies to give as gifts for my friends who will definitely recognize the struggles of the spiritual seeker. I love it. It’s so authentic! I love that I can connect with the honesty. I love that I can connect with SO many parallels. But most of all I LOVE how I keep hitting points that will help people I know who are struggling with their own journey. It’s a book you’ll want to share. I have many friends who are active Christians, and recently a couple of them have been saying, “You just HAVE to read The Shack. It’s about a man’s meeting with God and it’ll make SO much sense to you.” No problem, once one of them gets round to buying me a copy of course I’ll read it, and I’m sure I’ll find worth in it too, because I’m very open to other people’s opinions and ideas. But now I have a way to reciprocate thanks to Mark! As we come up to the Christmas season I thoroughly recommend this book as gift for anyone out there that wants to understand what Druidry is all about but who doesn’t want to plough through one of the hefty tomes detailing ancient Celtic practice. This book is easily accessible and you are immediately drawn into the story of a man who isn’t afraid to bare his soul and laugh at his own failings in order to assist the reader in attempting to ease their own struggles. I sincerely wish Mark all the best with this book and those to come in the the future. I already know that something special is in the pipeline so keep your eyes peeled for future reviews. Mark Townsend is a name you should keep an eye on – I know that this is just the start of a writing career that will add a lot to the Druid community, the wider pagan movement and will attract a lot of people still on the fringes to join us in our magical Druidic journey.’ Review by Damian Carr, Ord na Darach Gile, Secretary of The Druid Order of White Oak
The Wizard’s Gift by Mark Townsend, O Books, 2008
The Wizard’s Gift is written by Mark Townsend, an ex-Anglican priest who, having recently left the church, now looks to find similar spiritual connection within the pagan traditions. The tale has speed from start to finish, created in the main through very short chapters. The speed is entirely appropriate as the whole story runs over only eight days. It bounces between the lives of a man and a woman as they come together; the man seeking escape from his clinging fundamentalist Christian home life and the woman seeking meaning in her life after both a professional disappointment and an abusive relationship. The male character, Sam, meets a shaman-like figure in the woods, a seeming wizard who guides Sam through a series of revelatory experiences, while the female character Jane finds a Tarot reader who sets her off into new possibilities. The interaction between Sam, his mother and the elder of their sect, Reverend Morris, is intense and I found it reminded me of some aspects of my own youth. I enjoyed the book almost from start to finish. The qualification is due in part to what felt like a hasty ending – even for a short work like this (the book runs to about 150 pages) and also to one of the later chapters which leant heavily on Christian and Christian-like psalms and quotations that abruptly pulled me out of the flow. That’s down to issues in my own past and shouldn’t be expected to affect other folk. I hope. The story’s not as simple as my précis suggests and, being written by a practicing illusionist, one ought perhaps not to expect it to be so! So, gentle reader I hear your question; ‘a bit of a Christian book then?’ I wouldn’t say so. It’s written by someone of a Christian background certainly. But the message of the book is very much to become fully aware, to live within each and every moment, rather than simply pass through one’s life as driftwood on a river, and that’s as Druid as it comes. Reviewed by Mark Rosher – The Druid Network
Celtic Spirit Fire by Michael J. McCoy, Wordclay, Bloomington, IN., 2008
I’ve recently had the pleasure of discovering this book, yet another in the genre of “Pagan attempting to reconcile with Christianity” that seems to be the going theme this summer. The author, a former Christian clergyman, is an Irish-American struggling to recover from his Irish Catholic upbringing while embracing Celtic Reconstructionist spirituality.
The work begins with the best “Celtic” creation myth I have ever read. As most Druids know we have no Celtic creation myth left to us from ancient times, other than the account of The Cailleach dropping the Western Isles from “under her apron” (from her vagina) yet somehow McCoy manages to craft a plausible creation story that is redolent with poetic Truth.
Next follows a wisdom tale that features talking salmon and the initiation quest of a warrior, also well written and filled with inspiring imagery and spirit. Then we are given an account of the author’s apprenticeship as a glass artist, filled with observations about the place and power of Celtic philosophy and Celtic symbols in works of art. Finally there are original prayers for healing, for the blessing of meals, for warriors, for safe journey, for Celtic baptism, for the hearth, for various life passages, and for the festival of Samhain (oddly none of the other Fire Festivals are covered in the work).
It is a very Irish book, written in English but using Irish vernacular phrases and filled with pints, fish and chips, rashers, bangers, scones and tea, and plenty of traditional music and “craic”. It tackles issues that modern Catholics are struggling with such as clergy sex abuse and oppressive church dogma, guilt and Hell fire, but throughout it is also filled with hope; pointing the way towards a future where Celtic spirituality may once again be honored as a respected world religion.
I am pleased that most of the Celtic books the author references are in the Whiteoak basic reading list or ones that are otherwise well known to me. The spirituality of the author has a very familiar feel. The only downside that I found was the cover design.The poetry of the images and philosophy within its pages deserve a more sedate and dignified cover, but perhaps the author intended the garish red cover and purple prose to convey something of the Celtic warrior spirit. It would be a wonderful book for any Celtic Reconstructionist to curl up with on a lazy summer afternoon. Highly recommended. Reviewed by Saille (Ellen Evert Hopman)
ChristoPaganism: An Inclusive Path by Joyce & River Higginbotham, LLewellyn Books 2008
Witches praying the rosary? Catholics reading Tarot cards? For some, it’s blasphemy. For others, it’s a launching pad to enlightenment. But for interfaith experts Joyce and River Higginbotham, it’s a new reality begging for intellectual study. More and more, Pagans and Christians are incorporating each other’s practices into their own belief systems, forging hybrid spiritual paths that borrow from both earth- and scripture-based religions. Standing in two worlds at once, ChristoPagans are sparking a new conversation about the nature of faith and the evolving spiritual needs of a chaotic world. With scholarly poise, the Higginbothams wade into this provocative religious pairing, deftly navigating its minefield of heresy and personal bias. Free of political agenda but ripe with open-minded curiosity, ChristoPaganism launches a whole new dialogue on the subject of personal belief. From the Publisher’s Catalogue.
Jesus the Master Builder: Druid Mysteries and the Dawn of Christianity by Gordon Strachan, Floris Books, 2000
The activities of Jesus before the start of his ministry at the age of thirty have been the subject of much speculation. Did he travel beyond the bounds of Palestine in his search for wisdom knowledge? Where did he acquire the great learning which amazed those who heard him preaching and enabled him to cross swords in debate with Scribes and Pharisees? A number of legends suggest that Jesus travelled to the British Isles with Joseph of Arimathea, who worked in the tin trade. With these legends as his starting point, Gordon Strachan uncovers a fascinating network of connections between the Celtic world and Mediterranean culture and philosophy. Taking the biblical image of Wisdom as the ‘master craftsman’, Strachan explores the deep layers of Mystery knowledge shared between the Judaic-Hellenic world and the northern Druids – from the secret geometry of masons and builders, which Jesus would have encountered in his work as a craftsman in Palestine, to the Gematria or number coding of the Old and New Testaments.
The Missing Years of Jesus: The Greatest Story Never Told by Dennis Price, Hay House, 2009
Did Jesus learn from the Druids? ‘And did those feet in ancient time Walk upon England s mountain’s green And was the holy Lamb of God, On England’s pleasant pastures seen’ Do William Blake’s lyrics for the popular hymn Jerusalem reveal an extraordinary insight into the so-called missing years of Jesus – the 18 years that are unaccounted for in the Bible from when Jesus was a boy of 12 to his sudden reappearance at the age of 30? Archaeologist and classical scholar Dennis Price has investigated the clues in Blake’s evocative poem and has paid meticulous attention to the accounts in the ancient Aramaic and Greek versions of the Bible, and he has also conducted an exhaustive and unprecedented study into the myths and legends of Christ in Britain. With the assistance of specialists in their own fields and by viewing this enthralling subject as a modern missing person s investigation, Dennis Price has pieced together the various pieces of the jigsaw and now presents compelling and highly original evidence that Christ did indeed visit Britain in the company of Joseph of Arimathea in ancient times. The weight of new material suggests that Christ remained in Britain for several years before eventually returning to his homeland in the east, and this truly extraordinary book now provides a wealth of new information for all those who are intensely curious about this otherwise undocumented period in the life of the most famous person the world’s ever known.
Embracing Jesus and the Goddess: A Radical Call for Spiritual Sanity by Carl McColman, Fair Winds Press, 2001
The Christian Druids: On the filid or philosopher-poets of Ireland by John Minahane, Sanas Press, 1993
Jesus through Pagan Eyes: Bridging Neopagan Perspectives with a Progressive Vision of Christ edited by Mark Townsend, Llewellyn 2012
Reverend Mark Townsend, a former vicar of the Church of England, offers an historically important and provocative portrait of Jesus Christ—a compassionate, lifeaffirming, nature-inspired spiritual teacher, freed from the limiting ideology of the Church. This remarkable book is truly unlike any other, a thoughtful and deeply moving collection of more than two dozen stories, essays, and interviews about Jesus from today’s most respected Wiccan and Druidic leaders. Contributors such as Maxine Sanders, Christopher Penczak, Janet Farrar, Diana Paxson, Philip Carr-Gomm, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, and Raven Grimassi explore the historical figure of Jesus in relation to witchcraft, the tarot, goddess worship, and shamanism—while illustrating how this god of the Christian church blesses and inspires many who cannot or will not be part of his “official” family.
Celtic Wheel of the Year: Celtic and Christian Seasonal Prayers by Tess Ward, O Books, 2007
The “Celtic Wheel of the Year” offers an original and inspiring selection of prayers for individual use. Divided into monthly sections, it incorporates Celtic Christian and Celtic Pagan traditions in a single pattern of prayer. Prayers combine the Christian seasons with the seasons of the Solstices and Equinoxes. But they also reach beyond both traditions, dancing together and finding a new way of worshipping; one that we can enjoy in private spirituality or as a partaker of established religion.
Here’s an example of Tess Ward’s work:
Solstice Communion – A Eucharistic Prayer with intercessions written for Fr. Mark Townsend’s Ordination by Rev. Tess Ward
We are approaching the long day
The day for brightness, for lightness, for life-giving renewal
When the sun burnishes at full strength
Rays flaring like the mane of a lion
With courage and energy at its heart.
On this day we will raise the bread of Christ
like a monstrance of life death and new life
drawing us into the power and struggle of God’s Spirit in the world.
This is the day between Pentecost and the Summer Solstice
when the warm earth is bursting with joy
This is the day for rejoicing and being with friends
for fruitfulness and creativity
for celebrating the fire in our spirits
and finding our compasses set at true
as we venture on in our journeys.
But the longest day is a day that must pass
It is the day that looks toward the shortest day
It is the day when the sun will begin to wane
And we are reminded that
light belongs with shadow
flourishing with diminishment
So as the sun draws all to its zenith,
we embrace with love all that must fade.
In silence, let us remember all that is broken in our world at this time……
Those whom we know who need our prayers and holding in the light…….
And let us place ourselves in the divine rhythm of life death and new life
as we come to this table now……..
For Christ was born in the milk and moon of earth
pushed from the dark soupy waters
into a wall-less world.
We saw him with our own eyes
Touched him with our hands
We saw road-dust on his feet, smelt sea-salt in his hair,
Toil behind his finger nails
And gathered round a table with those whose faces are like ours
Planted in a particular time and a place
He took a loaf in his hands and blessed it
He broke it open and said “Take eat, this is my body broken for all that is broken.
Share it to remember me”.
He took a pitcher of wine and poured it into a cup.
He blessed it and said “Drink from this for compassion’s sake for it is my blood poured on this earth so love may flow and heal this troubled world. Share it to remember me.”
And here with the song of the birds
and the abundance of the fruits and flowers
Amongst the orchards and the river and the gentle curve of land
Here amidst the fiery forces of nature
He hung alone upon a tree
rooted in the humus and soil of all that lives.
He gathered all the silence of the mountain times to himself
And let the darkness come upon him.
He plunged down and down and darkly down
through emptiness and chaos, through formless void.
He plunged so deeply and so violently that he touched bottom
And the Spirit hovered over the face of the deep
and shone in the dazzling darkness
and the heavy mass of all that is unhealed was rolled away.
And love carved a space inside the centre
into which a voice might speak
an echo of the first and deepest sound ever made
longing for union
a word issuing forth from the womb of the eternal
a cry so natural it calls us to come to our senses.
For as it was then so now and here
Spirit from the beginning,
breathing through all,
through flame and wave
through land and pore
in the hills and on the shore
and the dear flesh of every one we ever loved.
Come brood over these earthly things
That they may become for us the body and blood of Christ
Breathe peace through the
struggle and the striving
Breathe joy through root and star
Breathe love down to the skin and the sinew,
the blood and the bone,
For you are the lived life.
You dwell within us and among us.
You are here.
You are there.
You are one.
Contemporary Druidry: A Historical and Ethnographic Study by Michael T.Cooper, Sacred Tribes Press, 2010
‘This book is impressive. It is written by an evangelical Christian who did an excellent job of investigating Druidry in a fair and non-offensive way. He tells the truth about how most Christian festivals have Pagan roots. He even has a chapter on why Christians convert to other faiths and how they feel deprived and frustrated with the church as it is. Pagans and Christians alike should read this it would make it easier for both sides to understand eachother.’ Amazon reviewer Dr. Michael T. Cooper is the president and founder of the Timothy Center for Sustainable Transformation, a global non-profit corporation focused on raising the quality life of the marginalized through creating businesses that address social needs. Prior to his work with the Timothy Center, he was on the faculty of Trinity International University for 10 years and taught cultural engagement and social entrepreneurship. He spent 13 years in Eastern Europe as a missionary, 10 of those with the Evangelical Free Church where he pioneered the work in Romania. Contemporary Druidry is one of the fastest growing religions in Western society. This book addresses the attempt by practitioners to bring an ancient spirituality into the mainstream. It examines ancient Druid beliefs and critiques the contemporary expression by comparing the two. Relying on eight years of research and more than 200 interviews, the book provides an outsider’s look at this faith.
Eucharist and the Living Earth by Hugh O’Donnell, Columba Press, 2012
Engaging with environmental concerns, O’Donnell places emphasis on the Eucharist as creating a cosmic dimension drawing us into communion not as a solitary individual but as a participant in the whole of creation, and includes a discussion on the relevance of the equinoxes and solstices.
Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul: Celtic Wisdom for Reawakening to What Our Souls Know and Healing the World by John Philip Newell, HarperOne, 2021
The Forest Church
‘Forest Church is a fresh expression of church drawing on much older traditions when sacred places and practices were outside – but it is also drawing on contemporary research that highlights the benefits of spending time with nature in wild places. Forest Church isn’t just normal church happening outside, instead it attempts to participate with creation. And it isn’t just a fellowship group doing an outside activity, we aim to learn, worship, meditate, pray and practice with the trees, at the spring, along the shore…’