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.

 






The 7 Best British Festivals of 2015 – Your Summer Curated

Find your perfect summer music festival match with our essential guide to Britain’s best small and independent festivals of the year.

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Sundown over glampers. Image by Philip Volkers Photography.

By Slava T Gordon

Spring is finally in the air. The first flowers popping up all over the country means one thing of incredible importance – the festival season is nearly upon us! Festival lovers everywhere will agree, there is no place more deliciously suited to their needs than summertime in the UK. A fact that even those lucky ducklings who managed shimmy their winter away in far flung sun-kissed locales, such as Wonderfruit festival in Thailand, will confess… one of the main reasons for their flight of fancy being to ease the withdrawal pangs felt at the end of another great British summer.

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Bane + Antidote editor Alex Volkers’ reaction to the end of the festival season. Image by Philip Volkers Photography.

Each new season brings an ever-expanding list of festivals to choose from. We know you have plenty to do orchestrating your summer party schedule, without suffering the existential crisis of wondering if you’ve chosen the right mix of festivals. As professional revellers we are attuned to your dilemma. Keeping time with the offerings, we have translated undecipherable chunky beats into a list of the juiciest and most tantalising small and independent festivals on offer this summer. Armed with this guide you can spend more time rallying your favourite mischief-makers, focussing on the mayhem and completing your fancy dress inventory. When placing your seasonal bulk glitter order we encourage you to do your body (and mind!) a favour and stock up on Faust Potions too. The Recovery Pack was designed to help you maintain your shine and keep you bouncing ALL season long.

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A happy camper. Image by Philip Volkers Photography.

Shindig Weekender

Shindig Weekender

When: 23 – 25 May 2015.

Where: Near Bath.

Who: Norman Jay MBE, The Cuban Brothers, Dub Pistols – DJ, Joey Negro, A. Skillz.

What: A low-key collaboration by Bristol based Ghetto Funk and Pussyfoot. This party ‘for friends, by friends’ features a fantastic line-up chock full of big brassy beats and funky bass lines. More of a gathering than a festival there is little danger of losing your friends at this intimate event. Set in beautiful countryside near Bath there is an all-day cocktail bar, boutique camping, and a nightclub that keeps the party going until the morning sun. This year there is also a Kid’s Kingdom with daily circus shows.

Get in the Mood: The music lovers at monkeyboxing.com have compiled a ghetto funk compilation for your aural pleasure.

Red Rooster

Red Rooster

When: 5 -7 June 2015.

Where: Euston Hall, Suffolk.

Who: Kitty Daisy & Lewis, CW Stoneking, Ian Siegal, Son of Dave.

What: An immaculately curated weekend celebrating all that is great about the American South conveniently placed in an exquisite corner of Suffolk. Posse up and get down to the finest selection of roots, country, Americana, R&B and soul bands in this here land. When you’ve danced holes in your boots you can belly up to the table with your well-earned rock-and-roll swagger. Enjoy finger licking BBQ, mouth-watering gumbo, spicy wings and mac and cheese. Wash it down with a more than ample supply of American whiskey or craft cocktails (we are drooling already, do we have to wait until June?!). Late-night campfires, buskers and woodwork complete the atmosphere. If there is no room in your saddlebags due to a plethora of fancy dress there are glamping options available too.

Get in the Mood: Louder Than War offers a full rundown of last year’s festival complete with music videos.

Noisily Festival of Music and Arts

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When: 9 -12 July 2015.

Where: Coney Woods, Nosely Hall, Leicestershire.

Who: Stephan Bodzin, Grouch, Boris Brejcha, Parasense, Victor Ruiz, Joof, Loud.

What: Noisily is a godsend to dance music fans who continue to mourn the loss of the Glade Festival each July. For those who love to dance and prefer to do it non-stop and surrounded by like-minded, shiny, happy souls, then this festival has it all. Set in stunning and secluded woodlands location? Check. Under a canopy of wild psychedelic art paired with the latest in laser-light show technology? Check! Check! Featuring a stellar electronic music line-up (including the Liquid Stage), top-notch production values and a killer Function-One sound system? Check! Check! Check!

Get in the mood: England’s longest running and most comprehensive festival guide eFestivals offers a great summation of last year’s festival.

Give! 2015

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When: 17 – 20 July 2015.

Where: Stanford Hall, Leicestershire.

Who: TBA.

What: With only 750 tickets available this event is tiny by festival standards. A gathering of kindred spirits featuring all the elements of a well-produced music festival, we like to think of it as the family reunion of our dreams. Set in some of the most beautiful English countryside on the river Avon, Give! is a place for nourishing, replenishing and sharing as well as dancing to great tunes. There are plenty of options for boutique camping and a full menu of spa services. If you look pretty in pink all the better… for this year’s group photo on Saturday all revellers are encouraged dress to impress in their pinkest pink finery.

Get in the mood: Ben the Bee has curated the delectable offering that is House of Honey Radio, available 24/7.

Secret Garden Party

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When: 23 – 26 July 2015.

Where: Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire.

Who: Jungle, Cat Empire, Angus & Julia Stone, Caravan Palace, Public Service Broadcasting.

What: An eternal favourite of Bane + Antidote. Not one to rest on its well-earned laurels, Secret Garden Party finds ways to make our collective jaw drop in awe and shriek with delight year after year. Hands down it is still one of the most exquisite and magical festivals around. This year’s theme is ‘Childish Things’. The intent is to reclaim a youth that is wasted on the young. Pack your childish fantasies and your silliest mates and get ready to revel and play like it’s back in the day, when everything was new and wonder-full.

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Image by Philip Volkers Photography

Get in the Mood: Read the latest SGP line-up news by Haptic World.

 

 

 

Somersault Festival

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When: 23 – 27 July.

Where: Castle Hill Estate, North Devon.

Who: Laura Marling, Bombay Bicycle Club, Jimmy Cliff, Passenger, Crystal Fighters, Norman Jay MBE, Angus & Julia Stone.

What: From the team behind Wilderness Festival, this is the most exciting lifestyle festival that we have encountered. Billed as the summer camp for adults, this is perfect for music lovers with a taste for the outdoors, or adventurers who crave more from their time in nature. With a full menu of daytime activities there are many reasons to make sure you get a fair amount of rest. In addition to a top musical line-up you can learn surfing, rock climbing, coasteering, kayaking, rafting and mountain biking. When you’ve worn out yourself physically you can rejuvenate in the spa from Claire Hamilton the genius behind wildwellbeing. Follow that with gourmet feasts, campfires, immersive theatre and forest parties. Rinse and repeat for 5 days and you will head home knackered yet rejuvenated.

Get in the Mood: Latest news and line-up information at the comprehensive eFestivals website.

Festival Number 6

Festival Number 6

When: 3 – 6 September 2015.

Where: Portmeirion, Wales.

Who: Grace Jones, Belle & Sebastian, DJ Harvey, Kate Tempest, Young Fathers.

What: Definitely the most unique and arguably the most sophisticated UK festival this summer. With an explosion of colour and sound, Festival Number Six stages a full takeover of Britain’s only Italianate village. Festival season is a great time of year to visit the Grade II listed village of Portmeirion, Wales. You may recognize it as the location of 1960s cult TV show, The Prisoner. Featuring a full range of arts and cultural programming, multiple award-winning Festival Number Six has much going on above and beyond its incredible line up. Plus, this is the closest you will get to an authentic coastal Mediterranean experience without using your passport. In addition to the standard glamping options, early birds can secure a room in a renovated Victorian Castle. Now that’s truly Posh camping!

Get in the mood: Gigslutz offers a comprehensive review of 2014’s festival

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A summer well spent. Image by Philip Volkers Photography

 

 

How to Create a Romantic Atmosphere with Decor and Styling

Katherine Hudson of The Arabian Tent Company, the Queen of aesthetics, explains how you can stimulate the sensual with styling and decor.

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Katherine founded The Arabian Tent Company in 2004 because of her love of outdoor parties, and a wish to be able to recreate the magic of festivals at events and weddings. Her beautiful, unique designs do just that and so much more. Our favourite are the William Morris and La Rouge. Watch this video on The Life of an Arabian Tent Party to learn more.

1. How did fascination with decor and aesthetics begin?

As a child I lived in an old house, with rooms piled full of furniture my grandparents had collected.  One of my favourite things was climbing through these rooms. I was fascinated by the old faded chaise longues, rattan bed-heads, collections of truncheons, elephant feet and chests filled with tapestries… I’d carry pieces of furniture through into my own room to ‘re-style’ it regularly.  I simply loved the way you could make the space feel so different, depending on what you put in it.

2. In your opinion, what is the connection between aesthetics and mood?

There’s a huge connection between them.  We absorb the atmosphere of our surroundings, which effects the way we feel.  Just imagine standing in a brick tunnel; now lying on the grass in the park staring up at the blue sky; and now sitting at a table in your favourite restaurant… how different do you feel in each of these scenarios?!

3. Can colours and textures be aphrodisiacs?

www.lighttrick.co.ukAlthough I wouldn’t be quite as bold as to claim colours and textures can actually stimulate sexual desire, colours certainly have an effect on our brains…especially male brains!  Several studies both on humans and primates have found that the colour red worn by females makes men find them more attractive (although this doesn’t work the other way around!) and textures can certainly encourage us to be tactile…try wearing a pair of velvet leggings and see how many people ask to stroke your legs!

4. What would you say is the number one mistake people make regarding their physical surroundings when trying to create a romantic atmosphere?

Tuning in to listen to a romantic radio station, but then having to listen to the adverts in-between the music! Major buzz kill.

5. How can one create a romantic setting using aesthetics?

Think of each of the senses and ensure you’ve thoroughly tantalised it! Lighting is very important as www.lighttrick.co.ukit affects cognition and mood.  You just can’t beat candle-light (definitely no LED lighting), but ensure you’ve got enough candles – dim lighting isn’t sexy, but soft lighting is. Scented candles can stimulate senses in one. Women have been found to have a more acute sense of smell than men do. Scents like jasmine (which is said to induce euphoria), and sandalwood (which heightens sexual excitement by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system dominant during sexual arousal), and rose (an aphrodisiac for women) would all be great choices. Then ensure you’ve got tactile materials like silk or velvet around you.

6. Is a romantic atmosphere just for two or can it be used to stimulate other kinds of love and openness?

A romantic atmosphere certainly doesn’t have to be just for two, although creating one for multiple couples, like for a Valentine’s dinner party, can end up feeling clichéd and cheesy.  It’s about generating a relaxed feeling in people in order to encourage intimacy, but you do need to start with a basic level of trust within the group to begin with. It’s best not have too many people involved. So it would certainly work for a dinner party but not really for a large gathering like a wedding.

7. What is romantic for you?

Thoughtfulness. Although oysters are most definitely aphrodisiacs!

8. What are your predicted decor and styling trends for 2015?

Pops of bright colour on white/clean backgrounds will be big this year both at events and in ourDay of the Dead Shoot - weheartpictures-0113homes, as will metallic finishes and smokey glass!  Rather than large floral displays, we’ll be using statement trees and lots of green to add architectural interest and height at weddings. More herbs, berries and woodland touches such as fir-cones will be appearing instead of traditional floral displays, as ‘rustic’ is going to be a key wedding trend this year. That means lots of exposed wooden tables with benches being used in dining areas.  And lighting will be very important – LEDs are out. Warm white is in, with a revival of old fashioned Edison bulbs accented by mirrors and other eclectic objects eclectically mixed together.

9. If everyone could only have one styling item in their Valentine’s Day tool kit, what would it be?

A sumptuous large red velvet throw!

Check out The Arabian Tent Company Blog or follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest to keep up to date on this innovative company’s news.

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.