How to Throw a Kick Ass Hen Party

Join us for the second instalment of the electric three-part Alternative Hen series, penned by Mistress of Mayhem Siobhan Scanlon, founder of The Peacock Bride. In part two Siobhan proffers poultry pearls of wisdom, explaining how you can throw a sizzling bash for even the most disgruntled of hens.

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Anyone who has had the pain, I mean pleasure, of organising a hen party knows all too well the challenges sometimes faced. Trying to please 20 ladies can be difficult at the best of times but throw location, cost, food, activities and sleeping arrangements into the mix and unless you carefully manage this you’re likely to end up with hen’s egg on your face. Below are a couple of simple tips that can really make the difference between a ‘MEH’ party and an ‘Sha-mazing’ bash.

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1. Save money on the RIGHT things

In the last few years, the price of hen parties has sky rocketed. But there are some clever ways to save money so you don’t have to sacrifice a month’s salary on pleasing the bridezilla.

– Consider self-serve options for accommodation, such as glamping or renting a house. You can pre-load the place with bubbles and breakfast, saving you a fortune on sleeps and eats.

– Call restaurants/cafés in advance for any group deals. You’d be surprised how often they are willing to create a set menu for group bookings. That way the cost is set, everyone is clear and you don’t have Greedy Gertrude at the top of the table ordering steak to get her money’s worth.

– Fish around for any BYOB (bring your own booze) options in the area. These are becoming more and more popular, and are a massive relief to the budget without actually sacrificing anything.

2. Nobody likes to be dictated to a hen party is NOT a military operation

dictator henI’m all for having set plans, and for a hen party it’s a must – but there are certain ‘rules’ to be considered when it comes to planning. Before bulldozing ahead with a one-size-fits-all approach, it’s worth bearing in mind that people’s expectations of a hen party can vary massively depending on their own situation. Understanding this is the key to a successful hen party!

Let people dip in and out of activities as they wish. I organised my sister’s hen party last year, and we decided to take a jaunt on some electric bikes for a couple of hours. This wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so I had arranged a masseuse to come to the venue for anyone who preferred that. There’s little worse than feeling obliged to do something you don’t want to do, especially when you’ve paid good money to be there. Besides, when the pressure is off, people will most likely get involved of their own accord. By setting the tone for a relaxed and flexible weekend early on, the hens will be onside from the get go!

3. Never underestimate the power of FUN FUELERS

‘Fun Fuelers’ are what we like to call any paraphernalia that, in a nutshell, generate fun! Remember, often hens are meeting for the first time or you may be flying solo for the weekend, so having a couple of icebreakers are a great way to quickly unite a group in a natural way.

Things such a photo props, hats, inflatables and piñatas goad people to get involved. There’s full fuelersnothing more unifying that discussing your outlandish costumes or watching the blindfolded bride-to-be beat the living daylights out of a unicorn piñata.

4. Arrange as much as you can advance

Where possible, prebook and pay for as much as you can. The only thing worse than being forced to wear matching pink t-shirts that say ‘Zilla’s Hen Party’ is being landed with another £200 bill at the end of the weekend. The last hen I went to included food for the weekend, taxis, drinks, dinner, club entry, even some champagne caviar! It was such a relief to all the hens at the end of the weekend, and there was no begrudgery over the price tag.

5. Dont be afraid to switch it up

Don’t be afraid to switch up the traditional format of the hen party and stray from the ever popular two-night/one-day activity format. One-nighters are becoming more and more the done thing, and you’ll find that people generally tend to give it socks for the night. Another trend is that of day parties – still life painting, ice cream making, laughter yoga and clay pigeon shooting are all the rage amongst 2015 hens. Do what your little heart heart desires but for pete’s sake consider your hens in the process.

Connect with The Peacock Bride’s whimsical world of poultry cool via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Stay tuned next week for the third and final instalment of the Alternative Hen series, where Siobhan will be exploring the art of Peacocking with party accessories.

We leave you to ponder the words of Charlotte Brontë, ‘I would always rather be happy than dignified,’ she says. Second that Charlotte. Cluck fucking cluck.

#alifelessordinary #badlybehavedbalance






Evolution of the Hen

Join us for the first of an electric three-part series penned by Mistress of Mayhem Siobhan Scanlon, founder of The Peacock Bride. In part one, Siobhan canvasses the surprising history of this most feminine of rituals. 

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IMG_0491Way back in 5th century Sparta, a man called Brad got down on one knee and popped the question to his college sweetheart Tiffany. Brad, feeling a little nervous about the whole commitment thing called on his farmer friends to ditch the land, bring the banter and send him flying up the aisle with a bang. And so the stag was born.

The hen took a little longer to hatch. The exact origin is unknown but many believe it emerged in North Africa sometime between the 6th and 20th century. The term ‘hen party’ has long been debated with some claiming it is derived from henna, aHenna celebration wedding custom in many cultures. Henna, if to be believed is capable of purifying the bride and keeping her free from evil. Personally, I’m not buying it. More realistic in my opinion is the claim by a local US paper in 1897 that ‘hen party’ was a “time honoured idea that tea and chitchats, gossip smart hats, constitute the necessary adjuncts to these particular gatherings”. A better representation of the hen we know today for sure but really it wasn’t until the birth of the 1960’s sexual revolution that the flamboyant celebrations began to characterise the bride-to-be’s last night of freedom.

90s henIn the 70’s the bride was paraded around her work place as colleagues sang and danced to none
other than ACDC’s Highway to Hell, in celebration of the upcoming nuptials. At the time the celebration was more about the brides choice to relinquish work and embark on her new path of domesticity and motherhood. Far removed from todays celebration and hallelujah for that. The 90’s saw the emergence of the more risqué bash with w*lly straws, blow up dolls and more whips than Jamie Dornan could handle on a good day. Following this the hen weekend was born and hens began flocking to far away towns in their broods.

Optimized-the-peacock-bride-10The last five years have seen chicks take the hen to the next level with brides looking for more than
just a booze filled bash and activities like laughter yoga, life drawing, knicker making and sumo wrestling have become more and more popular. In short the modern day hen party can be whatever you want it to be.

And so there it is; an ancient basis for what has become as a modern rite of passage for any bride to be. Throw in a dash of pink, a handful of glitter and a unicorn piñata… Hey presto, we have the modern day hen party!

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Connect with The Peacock Bride’s whimsical world of poultry cool via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Stay tuned next week for the second instalment of our alternative hen series, where Siobhan will dismantle the dictatorship of the blueprint hen.

We leave you to ponder the words of Mae, ‘there are no good girls gone wrong – just bad girls found out,’ she says. Give in, and have a hell of a time doing it we say.

#alifelessordinary #badlybehavedbalance






One For All and All For Plankton

Chiara Grioni is a photographer, avid diver and intrepid explorer with a passion for the sea and all its creatures. Chiara Grioni and Jasmine Spavieri co-founded The Sea Musketeers, an educational outreach team that aims to change society’s destructive attitude toward marine ecosystems.

Festival heads – put down your baby wipes and travel shampoo – this one’s for you.

LITTLE THINGS KEEP A KINGDOM RUNNING from chiara obscura on Vimeo.

How did The Sea Musketeers come together?

I happened to be travelling and diving in Indonesia in the aftermath of the terrible floods in North Sulawesi in January 2014, that devastated the lives of thousands.

The disaster was exacerbated because the locals throw their rubbish in the rivers and block runaways and it all eventually ends up in the sea. The amount of plastic under water was depressing.

There is an urgent need to educate the wider population, specifically on marine plastic and the dangers it poses to the sea and to all of us. One of my underwater photos was shortlisted for environmental photographer of the year.

Together with fellow ocean lover and science writer Jasmine Spavieri we decided to come up with a project that would bring awareness and inspire the younger generation to change their attitude and behaviour towards plastic, and founded the Sea Musketeers.

How did the name come about?

We wanted a fun and effective name for our project. It took a while before we both agreed on it and then we were really excited about it. Apparently, Cousteau and his crew used to call themselves the Sea Musketeers. We only found that out whilst we were checking if the domain was free and so we thought it was a great omen!

What’s your mission?

The Sea Musketeers aim to protect the sea and defend the defenceless in our oceans and on land. Plastic in the sea affects us all.

Inspired by Boyan Slat – a very young Dutch inventor, environmentalist and aerospace engineer who works on methods of clearing plastic waste from the oceans – we decided to go on a voyage and explore the scale of the problem first-hand. We wanted to share our findings in an engaging way in the hope of educating and inspiring younger generations to come up with solutions.

We researched and found a boat called The Sea Dragon which facilitates researchers, scientists and adventures alike.

Where did you go?

Departing from Falmouth in Cornwall, Uk, we travelled to the Azores Islands and then onto the Canary Islands, navigating around the North Atlantic Gyre. We sampled the sea every day.

What are the problems you are working to highlight?

During our voyage we found a plastic soup of tiny fragments in the ocean, invisible to the naked eye, in a vast sea of blue.

PHD Micro-plastics students from Exeter University are trying to prove for the first time whether plankton are eating micro-plastics in the wild. We’re still waiting for the results.

It has already been proven that marine worms are eating micro-plastics, which compromises their energy levels and therefore affects their fertility. Plankton are responsible for producing 50% of the worlds oxygen, but they also absorb two thirds of the CO2.

Micro-plastics are defined as anything smaller than 5mm because that is when plastic becomes bioavailable – which means it can be eaten by the planet’s smaller organisms. It was recently discovered that even corals are now eating plastic.

Plastic takes forever to dissolve. It is hard to estimate the time-frame correctly, as it has only been around for about 100 years, but some types of plastic are thought to be able to last for over 500 years.

We basically created a monster, out of precious resources, that will outlive us all while gradually suffocating and killing life on our planet.

The problem is not only micro-plastics. Plastic has a devastating effect on marine life. Birds are found dead with guts so clogged full of plastics they had reached the point of not being able to digest anything.

The other huge problem is that plastic acts as a sponge: it will absorb toxins from the environment and release them inside the organism that eats them, like a fish for instance. When we eat that fish we absorb them too.

Some of our researchers have tested the levels of toxicity in their own blood and have found high levels of PCBs (which cause cancer), DDT (that causes reproductive toxicity), PAHs (which cause development delays) and high levels of flame retardants. The list goes on. One of the researchers was pregnant and incredibly concerned as to what she would be passing to her unborn child.

What are you hoping to achieve?

We aim to deter people from using plastic as much as possible; especially single use plastic bags. The power of changing consumer mentality is with the consumer. You can only get results if you can get people to change their habits, rather than waiting for legislation to force them to. The key for this big change lies with the next generation.

We want to see the production and use of plastic bottles, plastic bags and micro-beads stop immediately.

What’s the solution?

We can all stop using plastic bags, cosmetic products with micro-beads, plastic bottles and synthetic clothing. We can re-cycle and re-use. In bottled water for instance: I wonder how many toxins are accumulated by 1 litre of water after it has been sitting in plastic for a few months?

We are lucky in that we can just open the tap and drink safely from it – or even filter it. So why not take full advantage of that and eliminate bottled water and all it entails?

We cannot have any determinable idea of how long it will take before we all choke on our own plastic – considering that it will take at least 500-1000 years for plastic to bio-degrade. It’s easy for us all to think we throw stuff away, but sadly there is no away. Currently there are only unsustainable options: We burn it, we bury it, or we chuck it in the sea. Send it into space I say, at least we won’t be killing life!

Stay tuned for the sequel… The Space Musketeers.

If you want to learn more about The Sea Muskeers, visit their website or Facebook page.

You can see more of Chiara’s incredible photography of Indonesian floods, marine pollution and critical conservation work on her website.

CHIARA GRIONI, YOU ARE OFFICIALLY A GLOBAL ANTIDOTE – WE SALUTE YOU.

 

 

Best International Festivals of 2015

No tickets to Burning Man? We’ve compiled a winning list of alternative international festivals.

By Slava T Gordon

It is not just a hint of spring that is fresh in the air this week. In an alarming number of spandex-loving households around the world a real panic is setting in. We are referring to that sinking feeling when you realise that you and many of your favourite miscreants failed to secure tickets to Burning Man 2015. As the festival grows in popularity, without being able to scale-up to Glastonbury-style proportions, this problem is bound to compound each year.

Fortunately, it is nearly impossible to go to Burning Man and return to the ‘default’ world untouched (watch out for gropers… just kidding) and unmoved (watch out for epiphanies). Its impact is evident in the diverse and exciting Regional Burns that are springing up in an ever-increasing number of locations around the globe. Burning Man culture is spreading its influence and ethos like a gloriously shimmering, neon art-seeking virus.

anThis is not, however, to belittle the scab of your FOMO (fear of missing out). Your forthcoming 2015 Playa absenteeism may be due to a lack of tickets. Or perhaps you feel you have ‘graduated’ from the Black Rock Desert experience. Whatever the reason, now is the right time to be in your particular predicament. In your hands you hold the guide to the best and the brightest international festivals the world has to offer.

There is a global smorgasbord of funk and adventure on offer this year, at radical hotspots where participation and self-reliance are equally highly prized. So kick back, don something outrageous and take a deep breath… Crisis averted! All that is left is to make sure you order the right amount of Faust’s Potions natural hangover cures, to fuel and sustain your insatiable festival appetite all summer long. Game on!

 

Transahara 

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When: 8 – 12 April

Where: Morocco

Who: World-class line-up featuring full range of electronic music.

What: Calling all electronic-music-loving-extreme-adventurers who yearn to make love to the dust! 2015 is your last chance to enjoy the unparalleled experience that is Transahara. The organizers are claiming this to be the final chapter in the odyssey of their unique blend of breath-taking landscape and soul-shaking sound systems – or is it soul-shaking landscape and breath-taking sound systems? Both apply. Set in an undisclosed location in the Moroccan Sahara, the dancing, camping and art all take place for 4 days amidst dramatic sand dunes. This event attracts only the boldest and most intrepid souls on the festival scene. Transahara is one of the most ambitious festivals taking place this year.

Get in the Mood: Check out The Hedonist’s in-depth conversation with Transahara founder Abdou Elouali.

 

AfrikaBurn

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When: 27 April – 3 May

Where: Tankwa Karoo National Park, South Africa

Who: Open-source. Participant generated content.

What: With an equally stunning, brutal and remote desert location, AfrikaBurn is the closest you can get to the Burning Man experience outside of Nevada. As an official Regional Burn, all 10 Guiding Principles are abided by, including ‘decommodification’. This means that no money changes hands once you arrive. Be sure to pack everything you need to stay alive and thrive in order to have the best week of your life. There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer and perform. There are also a number of art grants available to support creative projects.

Get in the Mood: MORE THAN FOOD have created A Review Through the Lens of Instagram to inspire your trip. 

 

Lightning In A Bottle

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When: 21 -25 May

Where: San Antonio Recreation Area Bradley, California

Who: Flume, SBTRKT, RL Grime, ODESZA, GRiZ, Tycho, John Digweed, Panda Bear, Wolf + Lamb, Shaun Reeves.

What: LIB is the perfect festival for eco-conscious electronic music connoisseurs. If you have been to Coachella you have probably already encountered the Do Lab stage. Their jaw-dropping large-scale sculptures, pounding bass and fully immersive experience are often cited as being the best thing about Coachella. You may not have been aware that these Burning Man veterans host their own music and arts festival, but now you know, and it is a visual and sonic stunner. With an ethos as strong as their musical line-up, LIB is the only US festival to win the prestigious ‘Outstanding Award’ in each of the 5 years A Greener Festival has been running the scheme. None of the green-goodness gets in the way of fun and games. Rather, it creates an evolved playground where one feels safe to push the boundaries to their outer limits. In addition to a healthy portion of earth-shaking beats, there is a teeming buffet of workshops of offer.

Get in the Mood: The wonderful people at Locale Magazine have put together a complete list of everything you need to know about LIB including a playlist of music videos from the headliners.

 

Meadows In Mountains 

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When: 12 -14 June

Where: Rhodopes Mountains, Bulgaria

Who: Albrecht Wassersleben, Mo Kolours, Beat Pete, Binh, Brand New Wayo, Bruni Schmidt, DNR Viny + more TBA.

What: Truly a family affair, MITM is an intimate gathering of 1000 kindred spirits, started by two brothers on their mum’s retirement farm, situated in a lush and ethereal Bulgarian setting above the clouds. If you value Burning Man as your spiritual home but for whatever reason find yourself unable to make the pilgrimage this year, we urge you to reroute yourself to Bulgaria. A ‘leave no trace’ event, this team practices what they preach – all areas of the festival are immaculate and litter is unheard of. All the stages are constructed from locally sourced timber with limited plastic use across the site. In addition to camping there is on-site accommodation in the farm’s own abandoned village. Great find Mum!

Get in the Mood: Read this great review of last year’s festival by Meoko.

 

Þjóðhátíð (Festival of the people), Westman Islands Festival

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When: 31 July – 3 August

Where: Westman Islands, Iceland

Who: John Grant, Quarashi, Skítamðrall Jonas Sig, Mammút, Kaleo, Jðn Jðnsson, Sálin Hans Jðns Mins.

What: Going strong since 1859, this is the longest running and most unique festival on our list, Þjóðhátíð is located on a remote island created by a volcanic eruption. This Icelandic festival is known for its jovial atmosphere. Locals pitch tents on the beautiful shoreline and offer a warm welcome. Expect spectacular fire displays each night. There is also opportunity to participate in native sing-alongs to the tune of copious amounts of alcohol. This is a rocking 24/7 party without much time (and limited darkness) for beauty sleep. Mischief-makers who revel in all things fluorescent will blend in perfectly. Many islanders wear day-glo fisherman’s outfits to protect themselves from the unpredictable weather. Island transport is via festively decorated communal trucks kitted out with sound systems. Make time to hangout with the hospitable natives and to sample smoked puffin, a local delicacy. You will come away having experienced the festival familiarity in an entirely new way.

Get in the Mood: Fest300 explains the history of Þjóðhátíð, and everything you need to know on getting there and back again.

 

Symbiosis Gathering – Ten Year Re:Union

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When: 17 -20 September

Where: Woodward Reservoir, Oakdale, California

Who: TBA.

What: Large portions of the revellers at this sponsorship-free American ‘transformational’ festival have been to Burning Man – some will be heading there straight from the Burn with their impressive art pieces in tow. With mutant vehicles, all night parties, a stunning natural backdrop and fully costumed revellers it is the perfect place to soak up the vibes if you missed out on Burning Man. This may also be your last opportunity of the summer to soak up the sun and blow away any tenacious mental cobwebs. Could there be any better way to accomplish this than by rocking a mermaid tail while swanning about at Symbiosis?

Get in the Mood: Most festival goers have dreamt about creating their own ideal festival. With this simulation game you can try your hand at creating your perfect event.

 

Wonderfruit 

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When: 18 -20 December (TBC)

Where: Siam Country Club, Chonburi, Thailand

Who: TBA.

What: Last year saw the debut of Wonderfruit festival. While still too early to share line-up details, you want to keep space in your diary for this gem. Expect dancing in bikinis until dawn, mouth-watering banquets, curiosities around every corner, large-scale art installations, a fully equipped wellness area and a jam-packed schedule of stimulating programming. We are welcoming next year’s event as brilliant excuse for a winter sun seeking adventure.

Get in the Mood: Read Bane + Antiodote’s Review of Wonderfruit 2015. 

 

WITH THIS LINE UP, YOU’D BE WISE TO PURCHASE A FAUST’S ESSENTIAL TRAVEL KIT TO EASE JET LAG AND COMBAT HANGOVERS.

You might also like: The 7 Best British Festivals of 2015 – Your Summer Curated.






Hamish Guerrini on Modern Ritual

Hamish Guerrini: white rabbit, wedding bard and celebrant. Hamish explains how he uses ritual and innovation, creating magical spaces within weddings and festivals.

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By Ace Volkers

Ritual is a very important part of my life, in an entirely non spiritual sense. There’s something about framework, tradition and process that have the ability to pull me more entirely into the present. That level of focus and care is a way of being that feels like something more than just bouncing from one sensation to the next. And when those frameworks, traditions and processes are amplified and acted out in a group setting, I find that a heightened ability to connect with others and sense of euphoria normally ensues.

Role play and costume form an important part of the rituals of my summers. When my husband and I were planning our wedding last year I began by focussing on the components of those rituals, equally the symbols of our relationship. It was then that it occurred to me that ritual had always been an important part of our relationship. So many of our best adventures had been highly ceremonial. I think we got to know each other by creating the rites of our own personal belief system together, our way of being in the world with one another.

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It made perfect sense for Hamish Guerrini to marry us. Many a summer had we spent twirling around in our field-worthy regalia at the heart of his Glastonbury wonderland. I still get goosebumps when I think about the magic that he spun for us. I could go on and on, but luckily I don’t have to, because here we have Hamish Guerrini himself, in an exclusive for Bane + Antidote on the topic of ‘Modern Ritual’.

Visit Hamish’s website to learn more about his incredible work.

Tell us what you do Hamish.

I perform wedding ceremonies for couples who don’t want a church wedding, and want something alternative to a civil ceremony. My ceremonies are light, straightforward and often quite short. I recognise the need for depth and gravitas and try to hold the space with respect, but I also inject a good helping of humour to soften the corners!

What is your philosophy?

My philosophy is very much of the perennial type, embracing all religions in the belief that we all came from one place and we are all returning to that place.

How did you first become a celebrant?Phalex_0232

It was kind of by accident. I helped the mighty Druid master Ivan Macbeth construct the White Stones of Hascombe. It’s the biggest stone circle to have been constructed using the old methods since 3000 BC. My job was to entertain the 100 strong workforce and keep the spirits up with  amusing and uplifting songs! At the end of the year long process I wrote an Inauguration Ballad, then Ivan Macbeth honoured me by naming me Bardic Druid at a summer sunrise ceremony in the middle of Stonehenge. Being a Bardic Druid allows me to write poems, songs and perform ceremonies like weddings and namings.

Why do you do what you do?

I am a strong believer in the institution of marriage as a force for good in the world, and I enjoy helping couples realise their dreams.

Are all the couples you marry spiritual?

Everyone has differing spiritual thresholds. I have incorporated Catholic, Buddhist and even atheist elements into ceremonies. This diversity is not always for the couple themselves, but also for close relatives who might otherwise feel excluded or weirded out by ‘fluffy new age clap trap’!

What is ritual to you?

Ritual is the framing of a ceremony, it’s a hanger on which the deeper content is hung. I was raised by Jesuits and Benedictines who know a thing or two about ritual and I still love to go to Latin Mass and Benediction for the sheer intensity of the form and beauty of the chanting.

Phalex_0444Tell us about the importance of ritual in wedding ceremonies.

There is need for focus and theatre in any social gathering. It has a containing effect and sets people at their ease, especially when it is explained that there will be a clear beginning, middle and end.

How important is the wedding ceremony for the quality of the celebration that follows?

The ceremony sets the tone for the entire day. I bring the family and friends together, and try invoke in them the spirit of generosity and love for the two people in their midst, who are about to embark on the greatest of adventures. The most important part of the whole ceremony is the collective agreement that everyone present is gathered, not only to witness the promises made, but also to give their own vow to support and encourage the couple in sticking to their promises, come what may. It is the instigation of a new tribe.

Is there a ritual that you always use to marry people?

Phalex_0478What I tend to do is use the ancient British Druidic form, inviting the guests to form a semi-circle surrounding the couple. Then it’s time for readings, poems and songs from friends and relatives. The rings are sent around the gathered guests in a bowl of holy water, and blessings for the couple are spoken. Then the rings are exchanged, and I often ask the couple to jump over a yew staff, which represents the two individuals jumping over the hearthstone into their new home of marriage.

Do the rituals you use to marry people come from you or from the couple?

We have meetings beforehand and discuss the couple’s life together and the elements they want to include in their ceremony. I am sometimes asked to write a poem to encapsulate their story, so quite in depth research is often needed.

Phalex_0681Have you noticed a change in the way that people use ritual over the years?

Yes. More and more people have a pick’n’mix approach to religion and spirituality. I don’t see this as a disadvantage, indeed it seems to me that mankind has been picking-and-mixing since the dawn of thought. Each religion assimilates and absorbs prior ones, bringing messages and traditions forward to suit new needs. The story of the First Council of Nicaea illustrates this well.

How can people work ritual into their everyday lives?

Work, play, coffee, pubs, music, films… They can all be undertaken ritually

Is there a place for ritual within hedonism?

I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. At the rabbit hole, a venue I run at Glastonbury Festival, there is an intricate system of initiation and revelation. It’s all a part of a ritualistic theatre setting designed to deepen the festival experience, which can easily become an empty and two-dimensional hedonistic affair. Interestingly, recent archeological research has uncovered evidence of thousands of years of crowded dancing at Stonehenge. The priest and the party have always gone hand in hand it seems.

Can parties be ritualistic in themselves?

Raves, gigs, dinner parties, weddings… They all need a framework – an ordered map of spoken and unspoken rules.

If you want Hamish to marry you, visit www.hamishguerrini.co.uk.

 






Obstacles to Happiness by Anthony De Mello

These powerful words are by Anthony De Mello, a great spiritual teacher – a lesson in uninterrupted happiness. He reminds us not to get bogged down by the roles that society assigns us. As a radical thinker and renowned philosopher, we use De Mello’s words as a critical component of our mental-wellbeing first aid kit. This chapter is an excerpt from his brilliant book Awareness. We hope you find it useful.

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Obstacles to Happiness by Athony De Mello

What I’m about to say will sound a bit pompous, but it’s true. What is coming could be the most important minutes in your lives. If you could grasp this, you’d hit upon the secret of awakening. You would be happy forever. You would never be unhappy again. Nothing would have the power to hurt you again. I mean that, nothing. It’s like when you throw black paint in the air; the air remains uncontaminated. You never color the air black. No matter what happens to you, you remain uncontaminated. You remain at peace. There are human beings who have attained this, what I call being human. Not this nonsense of being a puppet, jerked about this way and that way, letting events or other people tell you how to feel. So you proceed to feel it and you call it being vulnerable. Ha! I call it being a puppet. So you want to be a puppet? Press a button and you’re down; do you like that? But if you refuse to identify with any of those labels, most of your worries cease.

Later we’ll talk about fear of disease and death, but ordinarily you’re worried about what’s going to happen to your career. A small-time businessman, fifty-five years old, is sipping beer at a bar somewhere and he’s saying, “Well, look at my classmates, they’ve really made it.” The idiot! What does he mean, “They made it”? They’ve got their names in the newspaper. Do you call that making it? One is president of the corporation; the other has become the Chief justice; somebody else has become this or that. Monkeys, all of them.

Who determines what it means to be a success? This stupid society! The main preoccupation of society is to keep society sick! And the sooner you realize that, the better. Sick, every one of them. They are loony, they’re crazy. You became president of the lunatic asylum and you’re proud of it even though it means nothing. Being president of a corporation has nothing to do with being a success in life. Having a lot of money has nothing to do with being a success in life. You’re a success in life when you wake up! Then you don’t have to apologize to anyone, you don’t have to explain anything to anyone, you don’t give a damn what anybody thinks about you or what anybody says about you. You have no worries; you’re happy. That’s what I call being a success. Having a good job or being famous or having a great reputation has absolutely nothing to do with happiness or success. Nothing! It is totally irrelevant. All he’s really worried about is what his children will think about him, what the neighbors will think about him, what his wife will think about him. He should have become famous. Our society and culture drill that into our heads day and night. People who made it! Made what?! Made asses of themselves. Because they drained all their energy getting something that was worthless. They’re frightened and confused, they are puppets like the rest. Look at them strutting across the stage. Look how upset they get if they have a stain on their shirt. Do you call that a success? Look at how frightened they are at the prospect they might not be reelected. Do you call that a success? They are controlled, so manipulated. They are unhappy people, they are miserable people. They don’t enjoy life. They are constantly tense and anxious. Do you call that human? And do you know why that happens? Only one reason: They identified with some label. They identified the “I” with their money or their job or their profession. That was their error.

Did you hear about the lawyer who was presented with a plumber’s bill? He said to the plumber, “Hey, you’re charging me two hundred dollars an hour. I don’t make that kind of money as a lawyer.” The plumber said, “I didn’t make that kind of money when I was a lawyer either!” You could be a plumber or a lawyer or a businessman or a priest, but that does not affect the essential “I”. It doesn’t affect you. If I change my profession tomorrow, it’s just like changing my clothes. I am untouched. Are you your clothes? Are you your name? Are you your profession? Stop identifying with them. They come and go.

When you really understand this, no criticism can affect you. No flattery or praise can affect you either. When someone says, “You’re a great guy,” what is he talking about? He’s talking about “me,” he’s not talking about “I.” “I” is neither great nor small. “I” is neither successful nor a failure. It is none of these labels. These things come and go. These things depend on the criteria society establishes. These things depend on your conditioning. These things depend on the mood of the person who happens to be talking to you right now. It has nothing to do with “I.” “I” is none of these labels. “Me” is generally selfish, foolish, childish—a great big ass. So when you say, “You’re an ass,” I’ve known it for years! The conditioned self—what did you expect? I’ve known it for years. Why do you identify with him? Silly! That isn’t “I,” that’s “me.”

Do you want to be happy? Uninterrupted happiness is uncaused. True happiness is uncaused. You cannot make me happy. You are not my happiness. You say to the awakened person, “Why are you happy?” and the awakened person replies, “Why not?”

Happiness is our natural state. Happiness is the natural state of little children, to whom the kingdom belongs until they have been polluted and contaminated by the stupidity of society and culture. To acquire happiness you don’t have to do anything, because happiness cannot be acquired. Does anybody know why? Because we have it already. How can you acquire what you already have? Then why don’t you experience it? Because you’ve got to drop something. You’ve got to drop illusions. You don’t have to add anything in order to be happy; you’ve got to drop something. Life is easy, life is delightful. It’s only hard on your illusions, your ambitions, your greed, your cravings. Do you know where these things come from? From having identified with all kinds of labels!

You can learn more about the work of Anthony De Mello from The De Mello Spirituality Center.