I've made a page for The Art of Conversation on Facebook. Since hearing that Capall Bann are going to print the updated version I am feeling enthusiastic! I also realised that some of my friends, co-workers, tribe & all haven't heard about it or read it.
What is interesting are the old friends who are being so supportive. Thanks folks!
When I wrote it, two forces combined to make it happen.
First of all, at the Treespirit Moot in 1990 we did a number of informal self organised workshops. Someone requested one about working with nature spirits. It was well attended & ended up being a fascinating experience. Two of us present, myself & Leslie from Leicester, had put in a lot of personal practice but most people didn't even know how to start. (The answer is of course, to walk out of your front door!) Originally Treespirit were going to compile an anthology of writings, the booklet would have been my contribution, but I was the only one who bothered.
This brings me to the second factor. Then, as now the Pagan scene was pretty well dominated by ritual magicians of various kinds & mythographers poring over fragments of medieval literature, folk tales & the encyclopedic if flawed musings of Edwardian writers like James Frazer. Not to mention Graves, Campbell et al. I was getting bored with this. It seemed to be so self-referential, based on dodgy scholarship & overly romanticised.
My booklet was a conscious attempt to subvert the dominance of old fashioned ritual magic (Pagans starting their rituals with banishments in Hebrew?) & over excited amateur intellectualism. I worked with folks from London Wildlife Trust doing urban conservation projects. I found myself thinking: "Some of these guys are more Pagan than the Pagans. What is going on?" the world has changed since then, of course. It might be hard for younger members of our community, to imagine that this is true. Maybe I could be accused of the wisdom of hindsight, but it's true.
What my friends & I did back then, "Get out in the woods & bang your drum," was somewhat looked down upon by many of the old guard. We called it "Shamanic" at the time, but that word soon lost its meaning as herds of New Age professionals started using the term to mean anything vaguely ethnic or earthy, involving percussion or Native American bits.
You know, I feel the same today, even more strongly! This has lead me to drift away from the general Pagan scene. This tendency has also been empowered & encouraged by the writing, speaking & company of the very wonderful Professor Ronald Hutton. It is clear that there are those who feel that once he scents blood, Ronald is a compulsive debunker & that he is trying to pull the carpet away. I feel that this is unfair. Our actual history is more wonderful, more mysterious & yes, more empowering than a Yeats, Tolkien or Zimmer-Bradley dream loosely based on a manuscript from the 12th century. Even though they are inspiring, wonderful writers.
So let's all walk out from our front door. Walk down the street. Explore. Find local places which fascinate us. Places of power. Places where we can feel something. The land is speaking, singing, calling to us. Are we listening?