Thursday, October 31, 2013


About six years ago I was working as a carpenter in San Francisco, completely re-doing a house in Noe Valley for a rich Google exec. The project was so involved that we actually cut the house off its foundation, hoisted it into the air, and built another level to lower it down onto--effectively turning a three-story building into a four-story. (Probably would have been cheaper and easier to just demolish the whole building and start fresh, but San Francisco has some pretty restrictive building codes that we were able to get around by preserving some of the original structure, and the Google guy had plenty of money to burn.) Shortly after hoisting the house, the general contractor in charge promised all the grunt carpenters a free iPod if we could get things ready to drop the house by a certain date. We managed it, and we got our iPods.

In all honesty, I'm not too fond of the iPod, or the iTunes program you have to install in order to use it. I feel like the program is always mucking about with my music collection--my iPod ended up jammed full of repeated songs, and irritatingly void of full albums. Plus it seems like iTunes wants me to update my version every other day, which is a drag, and which seems to screw around the rest of my computer. On top of all that, the iPod battery lasts only a fraction of what it used to, and replacing the battery isn't really a feasible option.

But there is one good part of this story: through iTunes I discovered the Druidcast. It's a monthly podcast sponsored by, and affiliated with, the U.K.-based Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, and hosted by Damh the Bard. I originally downloaded the first four podcasts, and then something went weird with my iTunes and I didn't get any more. But those first four episodes were marvelous--they introduced me to an eloquent, organized, friendly form of neo-paganism, with an active group of intellectually-stimulating folks who cared about some of the things that were beginning to become important to me.

For a long time I was limited to those first four episodes. I listened to them all more than once, and they helped form part of the foundation of my interests in mysticism, pantheism, spirituality, and the natural world--especially the idea that nature can provide succor from the challenges of modern life. Those first four episodes planted seeds that would later bear fruit in many of my creative endeavors, most notably for my novel Blood Brothers--Verlvik's view of the world, and Athemon's special abilities, both reflect ideas and thoughts that started germinating in me during the time period in which I discovered the Druidcast.

I never went on to explore the other offerings of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, but recently (finally) I've gotten around to downloading further podcasts. I've listened through the seventh episode now, and they continue to be just as crucial as the first four.

To help give you an idea of the sorts of things the Druidcast covers, and which I find inspiring, here's a transcription of a snippet of Philip Carr-Gomm--the leader of the Order--speaking of the life of the order's founder, Ross Nichols:

"The message I take from him is it's worth striving for ideals--even if you've been wounded, even if you're going through difficult times, or the world is going through difficult times, hold on to those ideals, and cherish them. Create if you can some kind of sanctuary--a little place, a corner in your garden or in your home, or if you can get away to a little patch... do that, hold on, and keep connecting as much as possible to the natural world and to your spiritual path. And this will manifest, your dream will come true. It may not come true in your own life... [but] the benefits and the blessings will pass to lots of people, people all over the world. Which is what you can see now with the Order."

If you're interested in hearing the Druidcast for yourself, you can access all back episodes by clicking this link.

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