14th Mount Haemus Lecture: Music and the Celtic Otherworld

Karen photo Oct2009, Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids.

Dr Karen Ralls explains how Old Irish and Scottish Gaelic literature can offer us clues to the ways in which music and sound can enrich our spiritual practice. From the beautiful, enchanting music of the faery harp to the sacred singing of the choirs of angels, Celtic literature has many references to music and the Otherworld, and to the elements and the landscape. Karen will relate these references to scientific research to enrich our understanding of the relationship between music, consciousness, and place. Karen, a medieval historian, musicologist, and world religions scholar, obtained her PhD from the University of Edinburgh, followed by six years as Postdoctoral Fellow and Sr Lecturer (Univ. of Edinburgh) and Deputy Curator of the Rosslyn Chapel Museum art exhibition. Based in Oxford (UK), she is a musician (flute, wire-strung Celtic harp, tin whistle) whose published work includes the seminal Celtic academic study, Music and the Celtic Otherworld, The Templars and the Grail and The Quest for the Celtic Key.

13th Mt Haemus Lecture: Magical Transformation in the Book of Taliesin and the Spoils of Annwn

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Kristoffer Hughes, author of Natural Druidry, is a writer, teacher, workshop leader and Head of the Anglesey Druid Order. He is an Ovate of the Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids. He is a native Welsh speaker, born to a Welsh family in the mountains of Snowdonia in 1971. He is a keen student of Celtic literature and teacher of the Celtic mystery tradition, and a reader at the National Library of Wales. He lives on the Island of Anglesey. In his Mount Haemus research Kristoffer explores and interprets material from the legendary Welsh manuscript ‘The Book of Taliesin’ and presents an analysis of the magical transformations and mysteries it conveys.

11th Mount Haemus: Lecture Druidry & Transpersonal History

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Dr. Thomas C. Daffern is a philosopher, historian, and religious studies specialist. He was awarded his PhD from the University of London for a thesis which explores the history of the search for peace, and which proposes a new field of historiography, Transpersonal History. More recently he has developed the Periodic Table of the World’s Religious and Philosophical Traditions as a teaching aid for use in schools and universities. As a member of OBOD and as Peace Officer to the Council of British Druid Orders, he has had a long love-affair with Druidry and an eco-centred spirituality affirming the wisdom of primal peoples of all cultures, epochs and geographical regions. He founded and runs the Druid Peace Order dedicated to peacemaking and mediation, and directs the International Institute of Peace Studies and Global Philosophy.

10th Mount Haemus Lecture: What is a Bard?

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Dr Andy Letcher looks at the way in which Druidry is currently undergoing a process of reflection and self-examination. Given that it professes to be a timely and necessary worldview, to offer practical solutions to some of the world’s problems, why isn’t it more widely recognised and appreciated? One possibility is that it has yet to adjust fully to life in a post-Hutton world. Much of what we assumed to be true about Druidry has been revealed as the wishful thinking of Romantic laudanum addicts, Edwardian anthropologists and other fantasists. If we are drawn to call ourselves Druids or Bards, how do we answer the challenge thrown to us by the new historicity? Upon what principles can we base our practice?

Ninth Mount Haemus Lecture: How Beautiful Are They – Some thoughts on Ethics in Celtic and European Mythology

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Dr Brendan Myers explores the way in which In Druidry, both ancient and modern, ethical ideas are presented not in the form of rules and laws, nor in the form of a utilitarian calculus of benefits and harms, but rather in the form of character-values. This way of thinking about ethics is known in contemporary philosophy as ‘Areteology’, or ‘Virtue’. Furthermore, many of the most important Druidic virtues, such as honour, integrity, inspiration, strength, courage, and so on, are not only categories of ethics. They are also categories of aesthetics. We value them not just because they are right and good; we also value them because they are beautiful. I shall therefore also explore this overlap between the aesthetic and the ethical, and show how Celtic spirituality is particularly well positioned to embody a meeting place between the ethical and the aesthetic, the beautiful and the good.

Eighth Mount Haemus Lecture: Entering Faerie – Elves, Ancestors & Imagination

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Dr James Maertens (Alferian) explores the world of Faerie and its value for us today. Elves and Faerie folk are alive and well in modern culture, especially among the culture of magical folk and those pursuing a nature spirituality, but also most obviously in children’s literature. Fictional representations of the Hidden People are drawing more and more on the study of folklore and actual present-day accounts of “meeting the Other Crowd.” Rejecting the term “supernatural” and the dichotomy between subjectivity and objectivity, I consider the reality of the Sidhe as something that is part of Nature and part of the human psyche at the same time. Modern Druids must walk a fine line between the study of old folklore and the creation of new folklore. How do we live in a culture of scientific materialism and yet challenge the dominant knowledge paradigm?

Sixth Mount Haemus Lecture: Working with Animals

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Professor Roland Rotheram was the senior lecturer in Myths and Legends and Comparative Religious Studies for 12 years at the University of Staffordshire. In this study he develops a new theory on the relationship between humans and animals in a shamanic and spiritual context, exploring the symbolism of animal figures in early faiths and examining the links between various priesthoods and the animals they invoke in their rituals. Surviving traces of early nature beliefs in modern world religions are examined as well as those in use by those following the shamanic and druid paths.