An Introduction to ‘Healing Body Meditations’ with Steve Nobel

An Introduction to ‘Healing Body Meditations’ with Steve Nobel

We invite you to discover our audio meditation guides, here to accompany our new Mandala book: Healing Body Meditations.

Recorded by author Steve Nobel, this introduction to the book and accompanying meditations walk you through the chakras and give you guidance on meditation.

Watch the introduction here

Listen to Steve Nobel’s calming voice, sit down, close your eyes and focus on your inner strength. 

Meditations

Connecting with Feelings

(Opens in Youtube)

Opening to Wholeness

(Opens in Soundcloud)

Healing body meditations, 30 mandalas to enhance your health and wellbeing.

 I want to talk to you briefly, about the basic principle behind this innovative book of healing meditations, and the transformational power of imagery, of symbols.

 Why are symbols important? Well, as Carl Young pointed out, they emerge from our highest aspirations, and also from our deepest psychic roots.

 Prehistoric cave paintings, remind us, that symbols have been with us since the dawn of civilization. In our modern world, we are constantly surrounded by symbols.

 We do not, however, always grasp, the far-reaching daily effects, symbols and metaphors have on us; their power to influence us has long been known to advertisers, which is my millions have been spent to find the right symbolic messages to shape our buying habits.

 In our complex inner lives, symbolism is an internal language, whereby, our unconscious minds, attempts to communicate meaning to us. Many books have been writing on interpreting dream symbology. What is not so often considered, is that symbolic language is a two-way street. That means, not only our unconscious mind seeks to speak to us, but we can learn to speak back.

 Using symbols, we can help to enrich many aspects of our lives. It can help to enhance our peace of mind, our vitality, and also, help to generate healing, which is, our course, what this book is all about.

 I was introduced to the incredible power of symbols in my early 30s when I began studying different magical systems. I learned the power of meditation, and how to also, use simple rituals and symbols for healing, and personal empowerment.

I learned the focusing on different symbols, had different effects on my psychological state. For instance, it is quite hard to feel depressed or upset while focusing on a symbol such as a field of golden sunflowers, glowing in the midday sun.

Symbols cannot only change our psychological state, they can activate resources deeply held in our conscious mind. One method, that’s quite commonly practised nowadays, is to meditate on the chakras; seeing them as different coloured flowers, opening from the base of the spine to the top of the head. This book has many similar practices that can be employed to access the miraculous healing power of the body.

The 30 healing mandala meditations in this book, have been specially devised to address the meditators relationship with his or her own body, with symptoms such as pain, fatigue, or anxiety.

Meditation is a time honoured way to settle our anxiety and fears. It does this by concentrating our mind upon essentials, the underlying rightness of our being, right now, in the universe.

Meditation helps us physical feel more at ease, and it’s through this sense of peacefulness, that the body starts to heal itself; throwing off the tensions, fatigues, and toxins that have accumulated during everyday life.

Key health benefits have been observed over time, including: stress reduction, improved sleep, lower blood pressure, improved cardiovascular function, and even improved immunity.

 The mandalas in this book are meditation tools to help you enhance your health and wellbeing. Apart from the specific benefits described for many of them, they’re all intended to provide a positive foundation for healing. These mandalas are far from traditional in their imagery, their unusual feature is that they are focused on a particular body part, or system. The idea is to encourage acceptance of the body and all of its processes.

 Often, when we are ill, we shy away from our physical body, and particularly the idea that it’s troubling us. To engage in an accepting relationship with the fact of our illness and all our symptoms, is to take one step towards health.

 One of the principles of this book, is the idea that healing energy, can be summoned by the mind, and directed where needed by the power of the imagination; expressed at it simplest, bringing hopeful feelings on a symptom or body part, can only be beneficial, since hope and positive energy is the opposite of anxiety. Anxiety can only make us feel worse, and can only cause or exacerbate an illness.

 Hope and positive energy, on the other hand, makes us feel stronger; puts us in a better frame of mind to receive the body’s natural healing. Positive energy is also related to power of intention, or the law of attraction, as it’s often called. By visualising a goal, we can increase our change of attaining it.

 If we can visual positive healing and energy, bathing for example, a wound of some kind, we can accelerate the healing.

 Follow your intuitive judgement in selecting any of the mandalas in this book. It may not have any obvious connection with the body part or systems you are concerned about, but there may be something in the imagery that draws you. Always trust your intuition.

– Steve Nobel

Interview with Cilla Conway on the Byzantine Tarot (Podcast part 2/2)

Interview with Cilla Conway on the Byzantine Tarot (Podcast part 2/2)

Cilla Conway is an intuitive artist who works primarily with the concepts of archetypal energies, alchemy and metamorphosis. 

In collaboration with John Matthews, she created The Byzantine Tarot, published in June 2015.

This is the first tarot deck inspired by the Byzantine Empire. This sumptuous and evocative package will appeal to all those with an interest in history, ancient kingdoms, iconography and history of art. Cilla Conway and John Matthews talk about how they came up with the idea for the deck and how their collaboration came about.

Cilla explains a few of the cards:

  • The Tower
  • Six of Swords
  • Knight of Staffs
  • Ace of Cups
  • Countess of Coins

Watch here!

Get to know the Knight of Staffs, the Countess of Coins and the Ace of Cups in this video. Grab a cup of tea and sit down with Cilla and Steve chatting about tarot.

Listen to Part 1 here- Steve Nobel with John Matthews

Download to listen on the go.

Subscribe so you never miss an episode!

We publish a new podcast every 2 weeks on interesting Mind, Body, Soul and Health topics

Cilla Conway Interview transcript
for those who prefer to read:

 

 

Steve:   Hello and welcome. My name’s Steve Nobel. Today I’m speaking with John Matthews and Cilla Conway on The Byzantine Tarot: Wisdom from an Ancient Empire.

Cilla Conway is an intuitive artist who works primarily with the concepts of archetypal energies, alchemy, and metamorphosis. She’s the co-author of The Byzantine Tarot, published in June 2015 in collaboration with John Matthews. And her website is cillaconway.com.

Steve:   Okay, so hi Cilla. Thank you for joining me. Can I ask you, what drew you to this project? Why Byzantine Empire?

Cilla:     It was quite a strange set of coincidences. One of the guys at Watkins where I used to work, had this postcard on the wall which was of Elijah, it was an icon. And I just though, my god, that’s the Tarot hermit. So I asked him if I could have a copy and he gave me the postcard. And I had this in my mind, you know, this is the start of a new Tarot deck, because projects do seem to address themselves to me like that.

And then when I met John at this launch, I said, “I’m thinking of doing a Byzantine Tarot,” and he said, “Oh, I’ve been thinking about that for ages! But if you’re doing it I can’t do it.” And I said, “Well why? Because I’m a painter and you’re a writer. Can’t we pool our resources?”

Steve:   Great. Was it challenging? I mean, just getting all the art from these images, or were they fairly easy? Is there a lot of art to draw upon?

Cilla:     There’s a huge amount of art to draw upon, and I went to Istanbul about two or three times, found this absolutely amazing church, which is now a museum. It’s off the beaten track, you really have to travel to get there. And they had a book, so I used the book a lot, and of course all the mosaics and stuff like that as well.

Steve:   I’ve been asking John about some of the images on the cards and I’ve picked these five cards. Now, the first one, the Tower card. Can you say something about the artwork there?

Cilla:     Yeah, that one I did a sort of conventional tower first, but I kept on seeing this little sculpture again and again and again, of this guy sitting in a pillar. He’s quite a fixture in Byzantine, not iconography but legend, because he wanted to withdraw. So he went along and he built himself a 10 foot pillar, but people then started coming and talking to him, and his tower would get higher and higher and higher and eventually ended up as 40 foot high. Don’t ask me what the snake is, I’m assuming the snake is temptation.

Steve:   Yeah. It’s a beautiful image. It looks like some ancient mage under the sun really there. It’s amazing.

Cilla:     Very striking image, that’s why I wanted to do it.

Steve:   Well the other card I’ve got is the Six of Swords. Now this one, I’m not sure if it’s been drawn of gained from some older piece of art. Well, John told me it was a soldier returning, but this looks like someone’s painted it from an older piece.

Cilla:     I copied, not completely straight, but I copied every single image in the whole deck-

Steve:   Right.

Cilla:     From the mosaics and from the other work that I found in this chapel. So if you know your Byzantine art, you’ll see the references everywhere.

Steve:   This is a beautiful image, and I love the kind of striking purply, lilac in the background. And the sky looks this kind of terracotta. It’s a beautiful colouring.

Cilla:     The funny thing is … you know, I live in Italy now. And I’ve just realised that the mountains that I pained in the background, are more or less, with poetic licence, very similar to the mountains that I look at every single day now, but I’d never seen them then.

Steve:   Oh right. Northwest Tuscany aren’t you?

Cilla:     Yeah.

Steve:   I’ve been there’s, it’s a beautiful place.

Cilla:     Absolutely gorgeous.

Steve:   Now the Knight of Staffs, there’s a kind of very Grecian look about this one. This guy … I said it’s mini harp, but John reminded me it’s a lyre. It looks like something out of ancient Greece this one.

Cilla:     Yeah. This is probably me doing poetic licence. The figure would have been drawn from Byzantine art, but I wanted a slightly creative figure for the Knight of Staffs. This is just one of my things. And so I put the lyre in and I have no idea if they had lyres, I’m hoping they had lyres, but you’re right it does look Grecian.

Steve:   It looks like snowdrops by his right foot, is that significant? Or creative licence again?

Cilla:     Creative licence.

Steve:   Okay, okay. I don’t know, it looks like something … compared to the whole image, the snowdrops are quite striking I think.

Now the chalice, the Ace of Cups, now this is absolutely beautiful and it looks kind of very, I guess Byzantine or Orthodox Christianity.

Cilla:     Orthodox. Yeah definitely.

Steve:   Where did you get this image from?

Cilla:     Big book on Byzantine art. They had a couple of huge exhibitions in London, and I got the books on both of them, and I found this image in there, just thought it’s so beautiful, I’ve got to use it for the one of Cups. And then John said that it was the image that he always imagines the Grail to be, so that was quite a nice sort of coincidence.

Steve:   The last one, the Countess of Coins. This one is really beautiful, I really love this image. It looks almost like slightly mediaeval as well, doesn’t it?
Cilla:     Yeah. But again, Byzantine woman, I probably changed the background to the buildings because I wanted it to fit in there. But she would have been taken straight from Byzantine art. Oh, I know who she is, she’s Catherine, Saint Catherine, she had a big wheel. So you know, you don’t really want to put that in there.

Steve:   Oh right. She’s holding a … well kind of holding a large coin, so I suppose there’s kind of a similar sort of thing.

Cilla:     Yeah.

Steve:   How did the two of you work? There was one other Tarot deck where there was a very famous one, the Crowley one, where you had Crowley with all the meaning and then you had the artist and they went backwards and forwards for about five years I think. Was this kind of bouncing backwards and forwards with imagery and meaning?

Cilla:     It did bounce back and forward, but poor old John more or less had to put up with what I did, because I would look at it and I’d get some ideas, then I’d draw it up and I’d send it to him. He’d say, “Yeah, yeah, great. This is what the meaning could be.” There were a couple that he said to me, “Really, you can’t do that.” The Knight of Swords, yes, I copied from an icon, and he said, “You just couldn’t kill a dragon like that. The staff just doesn’t work or the sword doesn’t work.” And I was like, “Okay, but fine, that’s where it is.” So poor old John had to more or less put up with what I did.

Steve:   No, it’s amazing. Just looking through the book, there’s some amazing images here. And if anybody’s drawn to this piece of history, as John said it’s very good for dealing with complicated issues because it draws upon the Byzantine imagery and worldview.

Cilla, thank you so much, and thank you John for joining us. And all the best with this project. I’m going to be using this deck and playing with it for sure. So thank you so much. All the best.

Cilla:     It’s a pleasure, thank you very much.

The Byzantine Tarot

John Matthews and Cilla Conway

The first tarot deck inspired by the Byzantine Empire, this sumptuous and evocative package will appeal to all those with an interest in history, ancient kingdoms, iconography and history of art.

The Byzantine world, which lasted from 330 to 1453 CE, combined the elegance and power of Rome with the opulence and splendor of the Orient. This combination brought about richness in the world of art, literature, and spirituality that has seldom been equaled. Yet it also has a mysterious resonance, and it is to this world of emperors and empresses, saints and sinners, faith and miracles that the creators of this dazzling new tarot have turned, capturing the Byzantine vision, magic, and enchantment.

 

£21.99 

ISBN: 9781859063910

Tao Te Ching arrives – and it gets the cat’s approval!

Tao Te Ching arrives – and it gets the cat’s approval!

Gorgeous advance copies of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching have reached happy author and illustrator Chao-Hsiu Chen
at her home in Italy.

Here are some photos of Chao excitedly opening her parcel,  and discovering her newly printed books!

Tao Te Ching by Chao-Hsiu Chen:

Approved by cats!

Chao-Hsiu Chen is a renowned artist, philosopher and musician who grew up in Taiwan studying Taoist, Confucian and Buddhist teachings. She is the author of over forty books, which have been translated into more than twenty languages, and her paintings are regularly exhibited around
the world.

Visit her website: chaohsiuchen.com

Tao Te Ching 

Chao-Hsiu Chen

The eternal fascination of this classic work – first published over 2,000 years ago – lies in its profound wisdom, and the light it casts on the spiritual and moral pathway we must all walk.

Chao-Hsiu Chen’s new and accurate translation draws on the original Chinese text, each of the eighty-one chapters beautifully illustrated with Chao’s own distinctive art and calligraphy.

Read the chapters in sequence, or select one at random each day, for inspiration and guidance to illuminate your way.

Available on the 28th June 2018

ISBN: 978-0764355585

John Matthews on the Byzantine Tarot (Podcast part 1/2)

John Matthews on the Byzantine Tarot (Podcast part 1/2)

This is the first tarot deck inspired by the Byzantine Empire. This sumptuous and evocative package will appeal to all those with an interest in history, ancient kingdoms, iconography and history of art. 

John Matthews talks us through how he came up with the idea for the deck with Cilla Conway and what the Byzantine Tarot can bring us. John explains a couple of the cards:

The Tower 
Six of Swords
Knight of Staffs
Ace of Cups
Countess of Coins

The Byzantine world, which lasted from 330 to 1453 CE, combined the elegance and power of Rome with the opulence and splendour of the Orient. This combination brought about richness in the world of art, literature, and spirituality that has seldom been equaled. Yet it also has a mysterious resonance, and it is to this world of emperors and empresses, saints and sinners, faith and miracles that the creators of this dazzling new tarot have turned, capturing the Byzantine vision, magic, and enchantment.

Watch here!

Take a good look at Cilla Conway’s artwork on the Byzantine Tarot cards, timed so that you can see what John and Steve are talkng about.

Download to listen on the go.

Subscribe so you never miss an episode!

We publish a new podcast every 2 weeks on interesting Mind, Body, Soul and Health topics

For those who prefer to read, here is the interview transcript:

 

 

Steve:  Hello and welcome. My name’s Steve Nobel. Today I’m speaking with John Matthews and Cilla Conway on The Byzantine Tarot: Wisdom from an Ancient Empire.

Now John has been a full time writer since 1980, has produced over a hundred books on myth, faery, Arthurian legends, and Grail studies, as well as books of short stories, poetry, and books for children. He lives in Oxford, England with his wife Caitlín who’s also a writer, and a white cat named Willow, and his website is hallowquest.org.uk. There will be a link going out with this podcast.

So hi John.

John:  Hello Steve.

Steve:  So John, how did this all come about?

John:  Well it was interesting, because actually it was because I was doing a launch party for an earlier book at Watkins bookstore in London, and Cilla was there and we got chatting. We’d run into each other a couple of times before, but we didn’t really know each other well. And we just got talking and I happened to say, “One thing I’ve really always wanted to do was a Byzantine Tarot,” and she looked at me and she said, “But that’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

So after a few moments awkward silence we just kind of went, “Well, why don’t we just do it together?” And it worked very well. Because Cilla is a fantastic artist and has a really deep understanding of the style of the period and the place. And I have quite a good knowledge of the history of Byzantine. So you know, we put it together and hey presto.

Steve:  Well, I did actually read about the Byzantine history several months ago. Amazing empire wasn’t it? The power of Rome combined with the opulence and splendour of the orient. Now, can you just say something about why is the Byzantine world so important?

 

John:  Well it’s a kind of matrix point really, as you said it has elements if the Roman world, it has elements of the oriental world, and particularly of the belief systems of both places. Because of course by this time the Roman empire is nominally Christian, and so you have a very strong Christian focus in the great cathedrals like Hagia Sophia and so forth. And it brings those two streams together in a very powerful way. And also the literature, the literature of the east and the literature of the west really combine here into something wonderfully elaborate and picturesque.

 

Steve:  Now I’ve read in the Tarot book that you say the Byzantine world became synonymous with the idea of complexity and chicanery, from its early days. Can you say something about that?

 

John:  Yeah, well I mean the Byzantine court is very famous for being immensely complex. You had categories for everything, you had people in charge of who put what on the table, who cooked it, how it was cooked, who dressed in what, who could speak to the other person. Very hierarchical. And there was a great deal of evidence of backstabbing and climbing, people trying to climb the ladder through the court to be part of the emperor and empress’s entourage.

The whole complexity of the thing has become in a way synonymous with very complex political manoeuvring. To this day you still get people talking of political situations as being very Byzantine, implying that they’re complex and sometimes devious. So that’s the kind of energy that comes out of the place.

 

Steve:  Yeah. Now, I know John that we chatted before about this deck and you said it’s very good for complex issues. What I’ve noticed with Tarot as I’ve used them over the years is different decks have different flavours and are good for different things. What kind of issues have you used this deck for?

John:  I think I said that, I said that it was good for complex issues, because of the very thing that I just described. The whole complexity of life at court and the Byzantine world in general. So I find that this is particularly good for those kind of everyday issues that we come up with, like problems in the workplace, sometimes problems at home, but more often to do with exterior forces if you like. So if you’re having a particularly hard time at work, if you are running into problems with your neighbours or your landlord, that kind of … very good for legal problems for instance. I did a reading for someone who was having horrendous legal problems, and it was really very pointed and clear. So that kind of thing.

Steve:  Right. Now, the Rider-Waite deck kind of set the associations of the Minor suits in stone didn’t it? The swords or air and the ones of fire and so on. But you’ve kind of got different associations. Could you say something about your suits?

John:  Well we do still have swords. Staffs instead of staves. Cup is still a cup. And the coins are still coins. So basically, they’re still the same sort of courtly associations that you have in the standard right away to other well known decks of that kind. But what we did do was to make them reflect the particular emphasis within the empire itself. So there’s a very strong emphasis on money, there’s a very strong emphasis on power. There’s a very strong emphasis on warfare. There’s a very strong emphasis on love.

So you’ve got all of the … so the traditional meanings are there, but we applied them to the world of the Byzantine Empire, which as I said, was very complex and there were lots of interactions between people. So we’ve got each of the suits reflects those specific meanings. So anyone who is familiar with Tarot finds this deck very easy to work with. Because although we have applied it, if you like, to the world of Byzantine court, people still recognise the imagery and the meanings that would come from a standard Rider-Waite style deck.

Steve:  Now I’ve picked five cards just to get a kind of understanding myself of the deck, so I’m just going to ask you to comment on the meanings of these cards. Now, the first one is from the Major and it’s the Tower card. And this is beautiful image of looks like some kind of mage dressed in blue, standing on a tower with a great serpent weaving up towards him, and there’s a kind of sun radiating down overhead.

 

John:  Yes. Anyone who’d familiar with the standard meanings of Tarot, will know that it’s usually the lightning struck tower or sometimes the falling tower. It always represents a break in life, a change, sudden and unexpected and sometimes shocking. We wanted to find something different because there wasn’t an exact parallel anywhere that we could find in Byzantine iconography. So Cilla came up with this one. The character standing on the top of the pillar is an old saint called Saint Simeon Stylites and he spent the last 40 years of his life sitting on top of a pillar, and people would send food up to him and everything else would be sent up or taken down. And so we liked this idea of the solitary figure who is sort of holding out against the world on top of this pillar. And then the serpent represents the sudden and unexpected break, the change, and stress if you like, of an unexpected turn of events.

Steve:  Powerful card, yeah.

John:  It’s a very powerful card isn’t it? Yeah, I love it.

Steve:  So the next card John is the Six of Swords, and here’s, looks like a kind of traveller or pilgrim on the road, an old … I’m not saying he’s an old man, but a guy with a staff. There’s these six swords buried in the ground, and behind him there’s a town with these kind of purple mountains.  Lovely image actually.

John:  It is a lovely image. Well he actually is not a pilgrim, he’s a soldier returning from the wars. All of the swords feature people who are involved in the army in some way or other, in being soldiers. So here he’s coming home, presumably after long years of service or after an intense battle. And he’s heading for home. And somewhere in the distance there, in the little village or town, is someone waving to him, waiting to welcome him home. Presumably his wife.

But the swords are there because whatever he does, he can’t quite forget the fact that he was once a soldier, or still is a soldier, and that reminds him of the world that he comes from.

Steve:  Yeah. I can just now see a little figure kind of waving.

John:  There’s a woman waving from the walls I think. So soldier coming home from war, you could say if you wanted a short version.

Steve:  So next one I have is the Knight of Staffs, and here’s a man sitting on what looks like a rock, playing a kind of flute, and beside him is another mini harp type of thing.

John:  Yes, it’s a lyre. 

Steve:  Lyre.

John:  Yes again, well in this case the staffs as I said, has to do mostly with the courtiers who attended upon the emperor and empress in the court. We do know that there were a number of wandering musicians who would go from place to place, rather in the same way that the bards did in the Celtic world. And they were musicians, they could tell stories, they would write and read poems, sing songs. And they were entertainers in fact. So this one, the Knight of Staffs is a performer, an entertainer, someone with the subtle qualities that such people have.

Steve:  Next card is the Ace of Cups. Now this looks a really beautiful Byzantine chalice. Is this an image from a real chalice?

John:  Yes it is. It’s one of my own favourites actually. It’s one of the number of such objects, cups, vessels, cauldrons and so on, round the world that have been at one time or another associated with the Holy Grail. So it is rather important, because there is a strong association of Grail mythology with Byzantine. There’s even a story that the Grail was taken there at one point and kept within the city, but it vanished after the city was sacked by the Turks in the sixth century.

We wanted something that would suggest that Grail imagery, the sense of the peace, there’s a dove of peace flying down into it you’ll see. And there are fish underneath it. It’s kind of floating over the water. And we’ve got the fish of peace, [inaudible 00:10:12], and the dove of peace descending into the cup. So yeah, it is a very powerful image.

Steve:  And the final card is the Countess of Coins. Beautiful woman sitting in what looks like some kind of courtyard, dressed in kind of gold and peach coloured clothing, and holding a large coin in her left hand.

 

John:  Absolutely, yes. I mean this is another … you’ll notice that as you go through it, that there are so many rather wonderful characters here that were mostly taken from actual Byzantine iconography. Cilla will talk about this I know. She really represents the, I would say the ladies of the court if you like. Even although in the Byzantine Empire as in the rest of the ancient world, women were not equal to men, they did have a very powerful role. And married women control their own diaries, and often came with their own households. So they were in positions of quite considerable power. And the Countess of Coins is really, she guards the power and the bounty within the Guild to operate it within the court. So she’s a very powerful courtly figure.

Steve:  Beautiful. Well John, it’s an amazing deck, beautiful book and fantastic cards. So thanks for talking and I wish you all the best with the project.

John:  You’re very welcome. Thanks a lot.

The Byzantine Tarot

John Matthews & Cilla Conway

The first tarot deck inspired by the Byzantine Empire, this sumptuous and evocative package will appeal to all those with an interest in history, ancient kingdoms, iconography and history of art.

The Byzantine world, which lasted from 330 to 1453 CE, combined the elegance and power of Rome with the opulence and splendor of the Orient. This combination brought about richness in the world of art, literature, and spirituality that has seldom been equaled. Yet it also has a mysterious resonance, and it is to this world of emperors and empresses, saints and sinners, faith and miracles that the creators of this dazzling new tarot have turned, capturing the Byzantine vision, magic, and enchantment.

 

£21.99 

ISBN: 9781859063910

Giveaway – WIN the Druid Plant Oracle!

Giveaway – WIN the Druid Plant Oracle!

 The BEAUTIFUL Druid Plant Oracle is in a Prize draw! 

We’ve just released an interview with PhilipCarr-Gomm, [read it here] – and to celebrate we are giving one pack away to one lucky person!

 TO ENTER TO WIN:
SHARE, COMMENT or Like the pinned post on our facebook page!

Remember to LIKE the page – we run lots of giveaways and share excerpts from our books.

 Prize draw ends 10th May 2018
 Only open to UK Postal Addresses

UPDATE 10/05/2018: This Prize draw has now ended. A winner has been randomly selected.

 

The Druid Plant Oracle

Philip & Stephanie Carr-Gomm

Discover the herbs, flowers and fungi considered sacred in the Druid tradition, with this beautifully illustrated oracle. The virtues and qualities of each plant, and the ancient folklore and mythology associated with them, offer wisdom, inspiration and guidance, in this enlightening pack.

The perfect companion volume to the bestselling Druid Animal Oracle, this is a must-have title for all those interested in Celtic and Pagan subjects and the world of nature.

Price: £21.99

ISBN: 978-1-85906-419-1

Philip Carr-Gomm was trained by the Chief Druid Ross Nichols. He is Chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and the author of many titles, including The Druid Way and Druid Mysteries.

Interview with Philip Carr-Gomm on the Druid Plant Oracle

Interview with Philip Carr-Gomm on the Druid Plant Oracle

We interviewed leading Druid Philip Carr-Gomm to find out more about The Druid Plant Oracle, which he co-wrote with his wife Stephanie Carr-Gomm. 

Philip talks about symbols, such as the cauldron, archaeobotany, mistletoe and how to use the cards for guidance.

Discover the herbs, owers and fungi considered sacred in the Druid tradition, with this beautifully illustrated oracle. The virtues and qualities of each plant, and the ancient folklore and mythology associated with them, offer wisdom, inspiration and guidance, in this enlightening pack.

Watch here!

Take a good and close up look at the Plant cards, see some card spread ideas, excerpts from the book, all timed to apprear on screen while Philip is talking.

Download to listen on the go.

Subscribe so you never miss an episode!

We publish a new podcast every 2 weeks on interesting Mind, Body, Soul and Health topics

Want more from Philip Carr-Gomm? Check out this interview on the Druid Plant Oracle ->

Read the interview

Steve:            Hello, and welcome. My name is Steve Nobel and today I’m speaking with Philip Carr-Gomm on The Druid Plant Oracle. Now, Philip wanted to be a writer from a young age, but it really came about when he met a publisher at a dinner party in London. He was then in his late 30s and he was invited to write a book on druidry which went on to be a bestseller. Nowadays Philip is a psychologist, psychotherapist and writer on druidry. He’s the author of many books and oracle decks including The Druid Animal Oracle and The Druid Plant Oracle, both of which he co-authored with his wife Stephanie. If you want to find out more about druidry, his website is philipcarr-gomm.com, and there’ll be a link with this podcast. Welcome to you, Philip.

Philip C-G :   Hello. Hi there.

Steve:            My earliest introduction to druidry was actually through the amazing Asterix graphic comics. I really loved. I read them all, I think. I really like them as a kid for many reasons, but one of the reasons now I realise was that they showed this druidry and ancient way of living in a very positive light in numerous way, but a lot of Earth-based spiritual paths have not always been promoted this way. Has this been challenging for you as a druid?

Philip C-G :   Well, it’s funny you should mention Asterix, because many people that’s their first introduction, particularly on the continent actually in France and Germany and so on. It’s true that Julius Caesar and some of the classical authors gave druidry a bad press, and of course, later Christian writers. The thing about Asterix is that if you remember there’s this wonderful image of the cauldron that bubbles away and that gives the druid, what was his name, Getafix, I think, get his fix of the juice from the cauldron, which gives him incredible strength. Although, of course, it’s just a cartoon, there’s a grain of truth in there, which is, well, a number of things.

One is that the cauldron is a hugely powerful symbol for us as druids. It’s the primal symbol that in Christianity became the holy grail, but is the symbol of the divine feminine, of the womb of the goddess, of nourishment, of spiritual nourishment, and of inspiration. The drink that comes out of the cauldron in druidry is awen in Welsh or immas in Irish, which is the elixir of inspiration, of divine inspiration, which is what druids seek. Because druidry is at its heart a way of seeking inspiration. We work with this idea tremendously. Of course, there’s a link there with plants because there are all sorts of suggestions about what plants might have been in that cauldron to produce that magical elixir.

Steve:            Now, I’ve read somewhere that you wrote, “As the wilderness is eradicated, so some wilderness disappears in us also.” Now, most of us live in urban settings, and some of us have never even ventured in the wilderness. Is this a problem?

Philip C-G :   I think it’s a huge problem. We’re going through a period in the story of the Earth and humanity which is absolutely critical, this period of mass species extinction, with this five runaway trains really, one being the population, the other being pollution, the other being habitat degradation and species extinction, and that’s four. There’s a fifth one, but that’s enough of them for the moment. I can’t remember that for the moment. They’re all seriously out of control, and what we need to do is we need to address them, as many, many people are. It’s important to focus on the positive. One of the ways to get back in touch with our deep selves, with our souls, with our purpose in life and to be of more value to others in the world is to get in touch with the world outside, with wilderness, which is why druidry is a spirituality that is celebrated outdoors as much as possible. We don’t have buildings, churches or temples. Our temple is the Earth and our sacred places are stone circles and clearings in the woods and spots besides rivers and seas, and so on.

Steve:                        Wonderful. You mentioned inspiration, and I think a lot of young people are looking for inspiration perhaps in music or celebrities, you know David Bowie in my day. They’re not really looking internally or certainly not so much in the wilderness for it, do you find?

Philip C-G :   Exactly. The desire for inspiration and transcendence, for mystical experience is absolutely hard-wired into us, I believe, which is why when young people who are brought up in what’s called the consensus reality, sort the box of consensus reality and they start to break out as they grow up, that’s why they turn to drug taking and drinking and so on, in an attempt to get out of the box and expand their awareness and to have new experiences and consciousness. I think there’s a real duty amongst spiritual leaders and spiritual groups and any of us involved in this movement, really, to say to young people, hey, look, we understand why you’re doing this, but there’s a safer way to do it. There’s a more long lasting, effective way to do it, which is to follow these ways, these magical ways which can produce altered states of consciousness and a deeper sense of being alive in the world.

Steve:            It’s an interesting point, because you mentioned the drug taking and the psychedelic culture, which has been really a party party thing, but that also was part of the ancient way of connecting with the spirit worlds, wasn’t it? There were magic mushrooms and various other things that were taken.

Philip C-G :   Exactly. At the moment there’s this big fascination for ayahuasca to such a degree that demand now exceeds supply, apparently, and so the usual story is happening where the plant is being cut with or substituted with other things which are not good for you. There’s this story that I think there isn’t evidence for this, but some people in the 60s developed a story or a narrative that went that the druids were the sacred guardians of the mushrooms in the British Isles, and that’s why we are mycophobic in Britain, not mycophilic as on the continent. What that means is mycophilic is people who love mushrooms and who go out mushrooming, so if you’re in France, people will happily go out with baskets, pick mushrooms, and every local pharmacy will have charts explaining which ones are toxic and which ones aren’t, but people don’t do that in Britain.Somebody developed a theory, well, the reason why it’s taboo in Britain is because the druids were in charge of the mushrooms, because we have two psychedelic mushrooms that grow naturally in Britain, amanita muscaria, and the other one that’s fly agaric.

Steve:            Fly agaric.

Philip C-G :   Yes. Liberty caps. Fly agaric and liberty caps. There’s a very good book called Shroom by doctor Andy Letcher who dismisses this theory, but it’s a theory nonetheless. It points to exactly what you say which is the spiritual relationship that people have developed between humans and plants.

Steve:            Now the healing tradition of plant medicine seem to have a lot of it gone underground as allopathic medicine came to the fore and wanted to elbow out the way these healers and kill them off and all that. Has it been challenging rediscovering some of this lost world of druid herb lore?

Philip C-G :   Well, the thing with The Druid Plant Oracle, it’s been such a fascinating project because it’s really like such a lot in druidry. It seems to be lost but it’s just beneath the surface. A very common reaction somebody might have if you talk to them about druidry or if you say, “I’m getting interested in druidry. I’m following … ” They’ll say, “Well, there’s no evidence. There’s nothing around. It died out thousands of years ago and it’s just all fantasy.” That person just doesn’t know enough. They haven’t read enough. They haven’t studied enough, because actually there’s loads of material just waiting to be discovered really and rearticulated. That applies to the animal traditions and it applies to plant lore as well.

Although it’s true that allopathic medicine and modern approaches have pushed a lot of this stuff underground, luckily the holistic movement and the alternative health movement have been pushing back, as it were, and rediscovering stuff. You find if you look at plant lore, you find you can go right back to herbals that were produced at the same time as the ancient druids. The science of archaeobotany, which is a wonderful science really, which is extraordinary, and sometimes it’s called paleoarchaeobotany. It’s basically finding, digging up soil and discovering remains of plants from thousands of years ago. To a layperson that seems extraordinary that you could find any remains at all, but the fact is you can.

If you take, for instance, there’s a wonderful place called Llyn y Fan Fach which is a lake in Wales. Up on the top of that in this very windswept location there’s a cairn, bronze age cairn that was excavated a few years back by archaeologists and they discovered the cremated remains of a young woman. Alongside those cremated remains were traces of meadow sweet, enabling scientists to say when this woman’s remains were buried there, offerings were made of meadow sweet, and that’s, is it 4,000 years ago, 5,000 years ago. You think how can they possibly tell? They can and they do it by putting what they find under a microscope and detecting the cell structure that remains of whatever remains are there.

We’re familiar with the stories of is it from Tutankhamen’s tomb of grains of wheat or whatever being found and people being able to regrow them from thousands of years back, and that’s because they were sealed in a tomb, in a dry, hot place. Even in a windswept, wet place like the British Isles, archaeobotany can tell us what was growing at the time of the ancient druids and what they were cultivating and so on. That’s how Stephanie and I worked on The Druid Plant Oracle. We first of all turned to archaeobotany and said, okay, what was around at the time of the ancient druids, so we had a picture of that. Then we looked at the cotemporary herbals and said, okay, what were they talking about then.

Steve:            Now, I was raised a Christian as most people in this country, but what I love about druidry is it’s a path of direct experience and revelation unlike here’s the book and here’s what you have to believe type of thing. As you were writing this oracle deck, did you find that the plants themselves were inspiring you with what to say and what to do?

Philip C-G :   Here’s the extraordinary thing. It’s perhaps easy to believe that you can go inside in a meditation and become aware of the human being who tells you stuff, and whether it’s your imagination or you’re actually contacting somebody who’s died in the past or a being on another plane is a matter of belief and so on. One can imagine that. You can sort of imagine it with an animal getting, contacting an animal and perhaps that also bringing you information and so on. A plant, to the sceptic that would seem extraordinary that a plant could give you insight or information or healing in some way just in this inner world. An exercise I like to do in workshops is I just ask people, I just take them on a little journey up to Llyn y Fan Fach, this lake in Wales just for five minutes imagining they’re drifting on a cloud and travelling there and so on.

I get them to sit by the lake gazing at the lake and so on, and then I say, “Just imagine now that you can sense behind you a plant growing. Don’t turn around. Just feel it behind you. Just feel the colour. Get a sense for the colour that’s coming towards you. Get a sense for whether the energy is sharp or soft. What’s the kind of feeling there?” And so on. Then I get them in their imaginations to turn round, keep their eyes closed, feel the plant more, and then open their inner eyes and look at the plant, touch it, and then get a message. Get why am I seeing you. What is extraordinary is virtually everybody gets information, is astonished by how real the experience is and how the message or healing or energy or quality that is conveyed to them, how much it’s of help to them.

That’s really the basis of this. There’s this idea that what the plant oracle isn’t, it’s not a herbal that’s going to teach you how to make herbal concoctions and drinks and so on. There are plenty of those books, very valuable and helpful books. What it’s doing instead is it’s working with plants in a different way. It’s saying, look, these are the sacred plants of the druid tradition. These are the ideas that are traditionally associated with it. Here are some of the stories associated with this particular plant, and here’s what it might mean in your life if you draw this card in the oracle. Plants have been used as oracles, I mean the yarrow, for instance, was used as an oracle in the highlands of Scotland for centuries, as it was used strangely enough in China with the I Ching as well.

Steve:            I took the liberty of pulling a card from the deck before we spoke and I picked mistletoe, and you got a beautiful image here of mistletoe growing on an oak at the time of the winter solstice. Now the card has an upright meaning and a reverse meaning. Could you just talk us a little bit through this?

Philip C-G :   Yes. Sure. It’s interesting you chose the mistletoe, because of course that’s the plant most famously associated with the druids. The reason we associate it with the winter solstice is because the winter solstice is the time of the greatest darkness. It’s the time of the longest night. Then the whole year turns on that fulcrum, as it were, round to the light again. What we do in a druid ceremony is we put out all the lights, we extinguish candles or whatever light there is, and then we just bathe, as it were, in the darkness for a while, that sort of nurturing, nourishing power of the darkness. Then we light one candle, and then everybody in the circle lights a candle from that. You have a wonderful magical moment of everybody standing there with these little flames.

Then we hand out mistletoe. The mistletoe, those little white berries symbolise that same thing, that point of light in the darkness. It symbolises the awen that we talked about earlier of inspiration, these three drops of elixir that comes out of the cauldron, that the cauldron of darkness, if you like, of the womb. Drawing it symbolises inspiration and it’s great to draw that card if one’s going through any kind of difficulty or just any confusion of lack of clarity, or sense of darkness. It’s also used in druidry as a symbol of fertility. When you squidge a mistletoe berry and it’s rather like male sperm, so it’s been associated in that way with the idea of fertility.

It’s also auspicious to draw it when you’re trying to stimulate your own creativity, your own fertility and creativity. It’s also used to symbolise healing as well. Of course, mistletoe technically is poisonous, it’s toxic. You can’t just munch mistletoe berries to get better, but it was called All Heal, and in fact in anthroposophical medicine mistletoe is used as a medicine for cancer, and with some very interesting research around that. I think it’s a strong, good card to draw. Then this idea of the reversed meanings that you talked about. There’s generally a tradition in using cards is you can just use them for them to mean one set of meanings, but because truth is paradoxical and life is paradoxical, and there’s often a shadow side to things, or there’s a way in which something can be good for you in one moment and bad for you in the next at a different time in your life and so on, so it’s important to take that into account as well.

Of course, if you look at the opposites of all these things, and fertility is sterility, inspiration is actually the lack of guidance and so on. It’s drawing one’s attention in the reversed meaning to perhaps one is going through a period of sterility, and then you need to just sit with that and just allow that and so on.

woSteve:            Wonderful. Great. I know there’s a number of ways you can use this deck. For example, you can use it as a magical tool for creating the future. You can use it for meditation, but can I ask you just about how do we use it for guidance?

Philip C-G :   Well, what we don’t ask you to do is to use it to tell the future, because probably too long a discussion for us to have about that, but there’s a real problem with oracles as fortune telling. You have this business of the self-fulfilling prophecy, of suggestibility and so on. The way oracles can be tremendously helpful is in giving guidance. It’s as if our life and the flow of events is like the surface of a river that we’re looking at. There’s this flow of events, and what an oracle is helping you to do is just to go a little deeper and to connect or become aware of some of the currents that are flowing beneath the surface. What an oracle can do is it can say, ah, have you considered that? Look at this particular inference, and this seems to be the direction you’re going in.

This is where the fortune telling side comes in but in a gentle way. If you carry on like this, this is the direction you might be going in. Time to take stock, and that’s why you quoted earlier this thing about magically creating your future. You see, that’s where it gives you the choice. It says, look, your life is going this way, you can encourage this direction or you can take a different direction. You’re actually engaging in the process of literally creating your future.

Steve:            Wonderful. Now, the oracle comes with a beautiful book. Lovely, gorgeous, colourful cards, and I must say illustrated by Will Worthington. We should mention him. There is also something where you can actually do all the different spreads, aren’t there? Something that you can lay them on.

Philip C-G :   Yes. There are two spread sheets.

Steve:            Philip, thank you so much for speaking with me and all the best for your work.

Philip C-G :   It’s a pleasure. Thank you so much, Steve.

The Druid Plant Oracle

Philip & Sephanie Carr-Gomm

Discover the herbs, flowers and fungi considered sacred in the Druid tradition, with this beautifully illustrated oracle. The virtues and qualities of each plant, and the ancient folklore and mythology associated with them, offer wisdom, inspiration and guidance, in this enlightening pack.

The perfect companion volume to the bestselling Druid Animal Oracle, this is a must-have title for all those interested in Celtic and Pagan subjects and the world of nature.

 

 

 

Price: £21.99

ISBN: 978-1-85906-419-1

Philip Carr-Gomm was trained by the Chief Druid Ross Nichols. He is Chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and the author of many titles, including The Druid Way and Druid Mysteries.