Spring on Wanstead Flats

Tested out an old Olympus Zuiko OM 50mm lens on my Panasonic GH3 camera at the weekend over on Wanstead Flats. After a long hibernation you can see Spring starting to visit the Flats.


I wish I was better at identifying wildflowers – I’ve sat here with 3 wildflower books on my desk, looked at 4 websites and I still can’t identify this beautiful little plant that was growing along the avenue that once led from Leytonstone High Road to the gates of the grand Wanstead House.

I show this picture to my 80-year father who instantly identifies it as Blackthorn. A Druid website says that in plant lore, “The Blackthorn tree is esoterically known as both the Mother of the Woods and the Dark Crone of the Woods.” And is also said to have, “the most sinister reputation in Celtic tree lore” associated with “ill omens” and to witches represents “the dark side of the Craft”.


I’m going to stick my neck out here and say this is a gorse bush but with the caveat that I could be wrong and they merely look like a gorse to the untrained eye.




All Power to the Druid Councils – Stewart Home

Stewart Home

I first heard Stewart Home reading his poem All Power to the Druid Councils on a CD given to me by a friend and frequently misremembered fragments come back to me – particularly when the world seems to be going through a period turmoil (when is it not?).

So here it is from Stewart’s website


London – City of the God of Light?

In his illuminating book, Ancient Paths, Graham Robb slips in this intriguing alternative source for the name of London while cycling along a ‘Druidic pathway’ in France unraveling the secrets of the Celtic world.

“The northernmost point of the meridian, five hundred kilometres from Chateaumeillant, lies at a place disconcertingly named  Loon Plage. The ‘beach’ is a desolate zone of wind-bent poplars and container trucks queuing for the cross-Channel ferry. In the late Iron Age, when sea levels were higher than they are today, Loon was an island called Lugdunum, which means ‘fortress of Lugh’, the Celtic god of light.

Lugdunum shared its name with several other important Celtic towns: Laon, Leiden, Loudun, Lyon and perhaps London.”

London not as old King Ludd’s hill, or the Llyn din from Welsh meaning ‘lake fort’, or the Londinium of the Romans, but the City of the God of Light. On those days when London lies snugly beneath a duvet of grey cloud I must say it’s hard to imagine but it deserves to be added to the list – who knows, maybe the Druids had a sense of humour.

Urban Druid


I recorded this video on a walk in Epping Forest last November – ruminating of the idea of urban druidry. I’d just bought Living Druidry by Emma Restall Orr – I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a Druidry correspondence course for years, initially tickled that such a thing was even possible but then increasingly drawn into the idea of connecting with some form of environment based faith system (you can put that down to impending middle age if you like). But every time I dip my toe in the pagan pond it always turns up ethereal folk swanning around in Wiltshire or somewhere similarly scenic and Arthurian.

Ambresbury Banks

Ambresbury Banks

Well for me there is nothing more Arthurian than Epping Forest – one of the candidates for the real King Arthur was knocking around these parts, Ambrosius Aurelianus, who re-fortified Ambresbury Banks up near Theydon Bois. But getting away from supposed previous Golden Ages why can’t druidry be just as relevant to a dirty old city like London as to the chalk downlands and sweeping green hills.

In my mind though, when I entertain the idea the Urban Druid it looks as if it would be to druidry what Tony Hancock’s artist was to the art world in The Rebel.



Pagan Britain by Ronald Hutton


There’s an intriguing and rewarding review of Ronald Hutton’s Pagan Britain by Graham Robb, author of The Ancient Paths – discovering the lost map of Celtic Europe, which I have lying unread on a stack of books behind me. I’ll soon be adding Pagan Britain to the pile and place it next to Robb’s book to see what happens. I’m fond of dabbling in a bit of neo-paganism myself but lurking in a corner of my mind as I do so is the idea that it is mostly a C18th invention.

Historians should be “prepared to stand back and let the public dream its own dreams”, Hutton says. Members of that public who venture into this dense, erudite work in search of dream-fuel will have many sleepless nights. But, for Hutton, flimsy speculation is the enemy of truth, and in this, it seems, archaeologists are almost as guilty as credulous neo-pagans. In fact, there was probably no “organised and self-conscious British pagan religion throughout the Middle Ages”, instead witchcraft was mostly a construct of theologians and magistrates. And there is no evidence “that any active pagan religion survived anywhere in the island, in opposition to Christianity, throughout the Middle Ages, let alone longer“.Graham Robb – The Guardian 25.01.14

read the review here

Topographical Rambling Goes Beat – The Streets Escapist

The topographical ramble, the derive, the drift, the sarha (Arab/Palestinian expression meaning to roam without restraint where the spirit takes you – see the brilliant Palestinian Walks) – has gone beat with Mike Skinner’s latest release The Escapist. The video sees Mike heading off in a reverie on a 770 mile fugue from Dover to Cannes like an electro Ivor Gurney – although Gurney merely walked from High Wycombe to Gloucester in just over a day – a paltry 76 miles that produced a piano prelude in D-Flat minor.

Could Skinner’s muso-psychogeograhical detour have been inspired by Krautrocking Archdrud Julian Cope who traversed the unlikely path from pop to being an expert on neolithic monuments and godhead of neo-paganism.
Or am I making that connection because they both appeared the current Observer Music Monthly