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" A good traveller has no fixed plans,

and is not intent on arriving "

Lao Tzu

Guest blog – NEIGHBOURHOOD DRUID WATCH: Forest report 1 – Penny Billington

October 23rd, 2009

The dead leaves rustled: the leaf litter stirred. Wit h the eyes of a weasel, I missed nothing. Gwion Dubh, Druid Investigator. Still here and still true to the mission; plumbing the secrets at the heart of the deep forest.

Samhain time, and I’m hunkered down back in the ol’ grove after the last case. Nothing to do but check the thatch on the hobbit hole, booby trap the nut store against the pesky squirrels and croon dryad lullabies like a druid Bing. So plenty of the ticking stuff available to disseminate a bit of seasonal wisdom…

Here we are at the Celtic New year, the gestating time. If you couldn’t see the woods for the trees in lush summer, you surely can now, so let’s take a walk and have a chat to the local flora and fauna. Learn nature’s lessons, and bring them into your home, translating the wisdom of the woods into the health of the hearth: like thisaway…

Gwion’s ten tips from a Samhain stroll:


1. We’ll start through that tiny path the deer have made, and we’ll stay sharp! The earth is quiet under the leaves; the beating heart of all life. As we walk, keep sending out gratitude, keep noticing, keep the connection going. Then take that feeling home to communicate with your loved ones on a different level.

2. You hear that bird trill? Whenever one whistles, remember Rhiannon and the messages that might be pouring from Annwn, the inner realm.  Look for the spiritual message beyond the mundane events in your life.

3. Look at that sunset – and prepare to salute the great hunter later! Orion will be striding through the sky this winter, protective and strong.  Strengthen yourself with good food, enough sleep and a sense of inner contentment.

On we go now…

4. Let’s pause here and have a moment with a tree. Those dryads might be somnolent, but they’re still in there. Think about sustainable ways to heat your home.

5. See that fungus? Next time, bring a camera or sketchbook, and appreciate the sheer range and beauty of its various forms. Celebrate diversity and difference in your own life.

6. Stop here to scoop up a handful of leaf litter and loam and smell it. See how it cloaks the ground; resolve to buy new woolly socks and lag your pipes!

7. And here we are at a secret treasure; a stream, bubbling out of the ground, clear as crystal. Throw a mental message in a virtual bottle to be carried down to the sea, sending greetings to the minnows, the shrimps, the nyads. Conserve water at home.

8. If you fancy taking that branch for your wand, work out which tree it’s come from. Reciprocate with a gift: leave a little (natural, biodegradable!) something – or just a thank you. When you get home, send a letter or card, or make a phone call that’s overdue.

We’re on the homeward trail now…

9. Collect some woodland fruits for your nature table; go home and resolve to eat seasonally and from local sources, where possible.

10. Look for signs of burrows and think about the hibernating under-earthers. It’s winter; dance with the earth’s rhythm. Go home, forget the parties and slowwwwwww downnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

And here we are, back at the grove. A quick blackberry leaf tea for me, and then off for the nightly badger/druid philosophical discourse – if the tail-biting juniors will leave us in peace that is! It’s dark now, so, fellow druids, be safe out there. As you wend you way home, let nature do the talking: walk gently on the mother, who is all quiet and sereno on top, but busy, busy, busy underneath.

I’m in hibernation mode until Imbolc – unless the big Boss pipes me off on another case. But until then it’s the hammock and the wooden flute. And, just maybe, a quick teal telegram to a certain tame biographer to get her quill here pronto for some note taking.

Nothing like tall tales to while away the long, dark nights…and what about that last poisoning case at the spiritual retreat?  ‘The elves and the stewmaker’ – that one’s just too good to keep to myself…

But for now……….Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!


Gwion’s biographer, Penny Billington, is an OBOD druid, Touchstone magazine editor and author. Find out more about her and the world’s first Druid Investigator at