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Chris Wood

The Streams of Wisdom

In British mythology, these are the Isles of the Wise. Some of that wisdom arises from the land itself – the upwelling magic of the Earth, rising in countless ‘Green Chapels’ or sacred centres. But some of the wisdom has come from other places, brought on streams of culture to this land.

Three ancient Streams of Wisdom make up the colours of the Sovereignty of the Land: the Red Stream of the Celtic West, where the sun sinks red on the ocean; the White Stream of the Germanic lands, brought over white-topped waves; and the Black Stream of the cultures of the Mediterranean and Middle East, the traditions of the Black Land, the Wine Dark Sea and of ink.

The talk explores these ancient streams, as they have poured into the cauldron at the heart of the Green Chapel, and the heady brew they have created here. Holding them in the same place demands skill; they are not to be mixed lightly. From their confluence arises great power, for good or ill, as with Merlin’s vision of the Red and White dragons fighting under Vortigern’s tower. And Sovereignty holds them in Her very being.

The skill to hold the streams and their power together is especially important, as there is a more recent stream too. A Blue Stream of Wisdom runs turbulently across the oceans from all those diverse, once exotic cultures that have been exploited by the people of the Isles of the Wise over the last half millennium – a stream of guilt and pain as much as of inspiration and joy. If we can understand our ancient roots in their power and diversity, then we are in a better position to welcome, be inspired by, and comprehend, productively and respectfully, the diversity of global traditions.

This work is an on-going pilgrimage out along the streams and back to the Green Chapel, undertaken together over the last two decades by Chris Wood and Val Thomas, and shared with others at various times along the way.