‘Pagan Portals – Australian Druidry: Connecting with the Sacred Landscape’ review by Antonia Newlands as published in the Imbolc 2017 edition of SerpentStar, the Southern Hemisphere newsletter of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD).
When I first held a copy of this book in my hand, I remembered the time I met its author, Julie Brett. It was an Imbolc ritual some years ago in the Dandenong ranges, where all the participants had awoken long before the cold dawn to stand amongst the mist and trees to honour the seasons. We were rewarded for our tired, freezing effort by the shooting stars which heralded our arrival. The subsequent enveloping darkness ensured a powerful connection with the adjacent spring which was consecrated to Brigid.
The previous evening, Julie had informed me that she had driven across from Sydney to the Victorian ritual as part of the research for her forthcoming book on Australian Druidry. For her, it was insufficient to merely collate and reproduce data on the subject, she needed to experience Druidry through the stories of those who practiced this tradition across the country and the land that they lived on. At the time I could sense the strong need for this book to be present in the world. But what inspired me most about Julie’s diligence in her work was that she was heavily pregnant at the time. In addition to creating a book, she was creating a child.
As Julie passed through the initiation of motherhood, she simultaneously carved a path towards becoming a published author. I ordered the book online the instant it was in print and I was delighted with what I read. Instead of simply guiding its readers towards
connecting with the Australian landscape, which it most definitely does, I held in my hands a tool which could be used anywhere in the world to facilitate a rich and fulfilling earth based spiritual practice, created from direct observation and communion with
In translating the remnants of an historical European tradition into a modern Australian context, Julie Brett has synthesized a universal approach which can be used to create a personal relationship with the land and seasons anywhere and everywhere in the world.
This can enrich the lives of all readers in their own way, for as she puts it, “…in our connection with nature, we feel the presence of the Divine”. Based on her own observations, Julie Brett discusses how to create a local Wheel of the Year and suggests how this could reflect in the psyche of those who live on that land. Most excitingly, her regular practice of working with her own Wheel of the Year has produced a description of different seasons, relative to her own native coastal New South Wales and the concept of two phases of death and regeneration.
One phase relates to the death and rebirth of the sun at midwinter. This would be fairly unsurprising to most people who follow Druidry. However, the second phase of destruction and regeneration relates specifically to the combination of land and seasons in Australia, and describes the death and rebirth of trees which occurs in bushfires. How these two phases are reflected in the land and the psyche, both of the Australian people and further afield, merits and receives worthy consideration.
Interspersed throughout the text is a narrative which could be used both as a guided meditation, as a way of considering your own path or even just a simple story. In addition, the book discusses the symbolism of various native Australian animals, plants and trees. Whilst having presented her own experience and research, Julie places a strong emphasis on the reader establishing their own personal relationship with the aspects of nature they encounter around them.
The book finishes up with a detailed account of how to create your own Druid ritual. It gives a clear framework to work within whereby you can utilise your own special relationships with the aspects of the land, its ancestors, the ancestors of Druidry and your own ancestors.
This review has really only touched the surface of the wisdom contained within Julie Brett’s ‘Australian Druidry’. This book is a treasure to both Australians and non-Australians alike, who wish to discover the sacredness in both themselves and the land on which they live. Through her words, may you find your own flowing inspiration in the hardening of the bark, the thin needles of the she-oak, the duality of the platypus and the Spirits of your own place.
Whispers of Ancient Wisdom by Johoanna Robson. Review of ‘Pagan Portals – Australian Druidry: Connecting with the Sacred Landscape’ dated 23/8/2017.
As an Australian residing in the Land Down Under, I have found it difficult to build my practice according to the seasons and landscape here. All the information I had access to was written by those in the Northern Hemisphere and, honestly, very little of it made sense for me. For example, why celebrate Yule in the middle of summer? Thankfully here in Australia we have a strong druid community led by artist and writer Julie Brett. Julie has written a Pagan Portals book just for us Aussies to help us connect with our local land. In all truth, this is a good book for anyone no matter where you are in the world.
I have been following Julie Brett on social media for about 6 years or more now. I found her through her beautiful jewellery. Early this year (2017) her book, “Australia Druidry: Connecting with the Sacred Landscape” was published by Moon Books as part of their Pagan Portals series. As soon as I knew I purchased a copy directly from Julie, who was kind enough to sign it for me. I devoured it in a couple of sessions, my only complaint being that it was too short. Yes, I know it’s a Pagan Portals book and they are designed to be short. I hope that Julie will write something more comprehensive for Australian practitioners, because information specifically for us is scarce.
When I get a pagan book, the first thing I do is look at the reading list at the back of the book. Many times I am disappointed because there isn’t one or there’s only a couple of books on it. Not with this book. There’s a good sized reading list and it’s divided into categories. So far I’m impressed.
Even though there’s only 107 pages in this book, it’s chock full of information.
Julie starts by defining Australian Druidry and sharing her story. She then goes into connecting with nature. In this section is the bit I love the most. She talks about the Wheel of the Year and ways that we can re-imagine it for use here in Australia. Our landscape and weather is completely different to the UK. I live 10 hours north of Julie, and that changes things again. This landscape is vastly different across its breadth and depth. Within the pages of Australian Druidry, Julie has suggested ways of keeping track of the days and seasons so that you can create your own Wheel of the Year. I haven’t seen any other book that does that. Most authors assume that the information they give concerning the Wheel of the Year is a “one size fits all”. It’s not.
In the last section of the book Julie talks about practicing as an Australian Druid. There are ideas here for mixing “traditional” Druidic stories and practices with the local land and spirits of place.
I found this book easy to read and understand. It is written in a logical way, and there are plenty of things to think about. Within the words and ideas in these pages there is an honouring of the indigenous Australians. Nothing is appropriated. Everything is written with respect and sensitivity.
If you are an Australian or living in Australia and walking any sort of magical path, you need this book. It is one of the essential books for understanding how to connect with the local landscape and bring that into your practice. So, go buy it!