new book: The Wanton Green

Over the last year, I have been one of a team editing a book that has now been released. The Wanton Green is an exciting collection of essays from (mostly) British pagans exploring their relations to places


cover image by Damian Hughes

From the main Press Release:

From the lost magics and holy waters of London to bleak Staffordshire Moorlands; from childhood adventures in Rochdale to faeries in Devon and Cumbria, a new book, The Wanton Green, offers readers a different perspective on landscape


As our relationship with the world unravels and needs to take new form, or maybe to reconnect with an older pattern, The Wanton Green presents a collection of inspiring, provoking and engaging essays by modern pagans talking about their own deep and passionate relationships with the Earth. With contributions from 20 authors that range from Druids to Heathens, from Chaos Magicians to Witches, Shamans and Voudou Mambo, Wanton Green brings voices from the diverse and growing Pagan community of Britain to the environmental debate and promises food for thought and inspiration for the spirit


Contributors include Emma Restall Orr, Runic John, Robert Wallsi, Jenny Blain, Melissa Harrington, Graham Harvey, Maria van Daalen, Susan Greenwood and Susan Cross


Ordering copies

a) direct from me £ 11.99 a copy, + £2.00 P&P for first copy and £1 per copy after that (cheques to Creeping Toad, or I can invoice you – address: 51-d West Rd, Buxton, SK17 6HQ

b) from Mandrake, the publishers

c) through a local bookshop or on-line store



The Wanton Green:

contemporary pagan writings on place

editors: G MacLellan and S Cross


Mandrake Books, Oxford, 2011

ISBN: 978 1  906958 29 9



Chapters and sections include

Personal journeys, intimate connections

Fumbling in the landscape,             Runic John

Finding the space, finding the words, Rufus Harrington

Stone in my bones,                         Sarah Males

A Heathen in place: working with Mugwort, Robert Wallis


By river, well and sea

Wild, wild water,                                     Lou Hart

Facing the waves,                                     Gordon MacLellan

The dragon waters of place: a journey to the source, Susan Greenwood


Exploring – mud on your boots, mud on your hands

Catching the Rainbow Lizard,             Maria van Daalen

The rite to roam,                                     Julian Vayne

Places of Power                                     Jan Fries

Art is natural magic,                         Greg Humphries


Step back and consider

Pagan Ecology: on our perception of nature, ancestry and home, Emma Restall Orr

We have no imagination,             Susan Cross

Crossroads of perception,             Shani Oates


Where are the wild places

Devon, Faeries and Me,                         Woody Fox

Lud’s Church,                                     Gordon MacLellan

Places of spirit and spirits of place: of Fairy and other folk, and my Cumbrian bones.                                    Melissa Harrington

A life in the woods: protest site paganism, Adrian Harris

We first met in the north,             Barry Patterson

The king who sites upon the water, Barry Patterson

The Ballad of the Tyne Plover,             Barry Patterson


Urban wildness

Museum or Mausoleum – A Pagan at play in King Solomon’s House ,                                                             Mogg Morgan

Hills of the ancestors, townscapes of artisans, Jenny Blain

Smoke and mirrors,                         Stephen Grasso

America,                                                Maria van Daalen

Standing at the crossroads: A beginning at the end?

various authors



Learning Outside The Classroom – new courses!

Afternoon workshops

“Learning Outside The Classroom” courses with the Peak District National Park



9th January 2012 , Flash School near Buxton

waving giant at the Just-so Festival, 2011

How do we get our classes to take hold of their own inspirations and work together to create exciting and dramatic events? What activities can capture the colours and patterns of nature for our celebrations?


This workshop will offer:

• activities to help groups plan and design celebrations

• a look at creative themes you might use in a celebration

• give you a chance to try some useful  art activities with lanterns, flags, big masks, spectacular standards and unbelievable hats…

• take time for us all to share ideas and experiences

All courses run from 1:30 – 5:30pm and cost £70. If your school books more than one of any of our charged for courses you will receive a 20% discount on all courses.


Newham, London: processing through the local park

For more details, please contact:

Sarah Wilks, Tel: 01433 620373



21st March 2012, at Losehill Hall Youth Hostel, Castleton,

Based around a maths treasure hunt, come and discover how learning in the fresh air can help develop an enthusiasm for maths, as well as deepen mathematical understanding and thinking.

shapes, patterns, sizes and silhouettes - an old oak has so much to offer!

This workshop will offer:

• activities to develop mathematical skills in real life contexts

• working with maps and coordinates to engage pupils and encourage them to lead their own learning

• developing maths through story and drama activities

• activities that use a kinaesthetic approach to teaching maths OR enjoying maths through hands-on, engaging making and doing



All courses run from 1:30 – 5:30pm and cost £70. If your school books more than one of any of our charged for courses you will receive a 20% discount on all courses.


For more details, please contact:

Sarah Wilks, Tel: 01433 620373

and pirates offer coordinates, geometries, distances, depths and arguments over the fair sharing of treasures!














22nd March 2012 Moorland Discovery Centre, National Trust Longshaw Estate, Hathersage

small hands create precise stories with natural objects...

Step out of the classroom and into a world where everything around us is having adventures. The processes and patterns of nature, the lives of animals and plants, all offer rich inspirations for new poems and wild stories

Looking for Adventures Everywhere, during the afternoon we will:

• shape communal poems out of special moments and memories

• work outside building our own storywalk: with activities that could work either joined together to create a whole experience or that might stand alone as individual exercises: atmosphere poems, riddles, animal diaries and wildlife characters

• make laced-up books drawing all these earlier activities together

• end with a quick story-telling session, sharing our new poems and stories


All courses run from 1:30 – 5:30pm and cost £70. If your school books more than one of any of our charged for courses you will receive a 20% discount on all courses.


For more details, please contact:

Sarah Wilks, Tel: 01433 620373

Workshop leader:Gordon MacLellan: as Creeping Toad, Gordon has been leading celebrations with schools and community groups for more than 20 years. From playschemes with hundreds of children to quiet garden events, Gordon’s experience reaches from South African arts festivals to Manchester schools, from Highland woods to Buxton’s lantern processions.


Excitements at Annesley

A few days working with Foundation Stage children at Annesley Primary School, Nottinghamshire.

camels got priority in our desert tents!










With a theme “Children in other countries”, we set off on expeditions to make new friends:


We could fly in a ‘plane

            We could drive in a car

            We could ride on a donkey

            Or hang onto a motorbike

            We could sail in a boat

            Or gallop in a horse

            We could squeeze all of us onto one elephant

            Or have an elephant each

            Or we could sit on a flying carpet


Children went off exploring, finding other adventures, other animals, other children


            One group went to cold places and made a tent and a campfire. They cuddled up with polar bears at night to keep warm. They met wolves and bears and many friendly animals


the arctic encampment (including stray penguin)

            In Africa. another group saw lions, but were not afraid, although on person was scared of elephant noises


Working in the school garden, we made those tents, built those shelters, found homes for monkeys, frogs and crabs, assembled that picnic ( nuts, apples, leaf-ice-cream), photographing and drawing the results. Eventually we made friends with other children and recorded our adventures on pop-up cards with grown-ups doing the writing because when you are 4 years old it’s useful to have minions to do those sort of things….


On a tropical island, children made houses and met giant tortoises

And Jack (3 years old) said:
The eagle and the owl are friends,

            And beavers make dams,

            Whales swim in the sea,

            And squirrels climb trees,           

            But the eagle flies

            High in the sky.


inside of a pop-up card - an animal friend


assembled stories


My Forgotten Forests

Old trees and young trees, Red Fox Valley

Picking up on the lovely “Forgotten Forests” project, I made a point of going back to some of my personal “Forgotten Forests” when I was visiting my parents a couple of weeks ago. They still live in the house where we all grew up, in the ‘concrete jungle’ that is Cumbernauld New Town. Out of that visit, came the following….



I spend a lot of my time “on the road”, travelling around, visiting schools, telling stories, leading workshops. Emotionally, I’m very self-contained but once in a while, I find myself wishing I was travelling with someone else, someone to share experiences with. And this time, to share these woods with. For these are the woods that shaped me, gave me the chance to become who I am now. These trees, stones and pools offered solace and shelter and inspiration to my teenage self. These forgotten forests were my refuge as I grew into an awareness of myself as both gay and pagan.


the reflective waters of the toadpool in Blackwood

Red Fox Valley. Blackwood. Here I watched my first roebuck, encountered the scarab-excitement dor beetles for the first time, caught my first Great Diving Beetle, met wood anemones and the sharp, sour leaves of wood sorrel. There are pools at the heart of both places: ponds for exploring, offering palmate newts and common toads and a richness of delight.


Blackwood in spring sports bluebell clouds among the rubbish that is scattered through the trees. The bluebells suggest age and some of the trees hold a century or two, predating the quarry and somehow surviving the devastation of the rest of the hillside. Now the trees have claimed the quarry site as well, branches knitting over awkward hollows and sudden drops. The main quarry flooded at some point. A deep, dirty brown pool with fish that moved the water but that I never quite saw. The water gave no clues, reflective but with no clarity, it could have been bottomless or maybe just waistdeep. Mysterious. Kelpie waters, full of invitation, promise and threat. The oldest trees are on the edge of the woods. Their offspring crowded inwards, to the very banks of the pond. They are not big trees, but hefty, gnarled and twisted, holding their own mystery with their moss and lichen and those defiant, enchanted bluebells. The faerie trilogy of trees: Oak, Ash and Thorn.

old trees in Blackwood


To walk through Glencryan Woods, along the edge of Red Fox Valley is to look down into a forested depth. A canopy view from the rim of the glen, peering down into the burn’s cut, layers of sandstone quarried by water and tunnelled by men looking for fireclay. The old mine workings were always a temptation and a threat, unstable tunnels, dropping bricks. There were caves too, to scramble into and dream of wildlives, living rough, foraging Crusoes; the lost, unknown, mysterious wildmen of the woods. For me, greater and more lasting than adventure, Red Fox Valley woods brought stillness. The pool at the head of the glen was where “meditation” moved from exercise to experience with the reflections in that water and the trembling leaves of birch trees.  Back down in the glen, line of old, old beeches taught me patience, with branches to scramble onto and there to sit and simply stop. The beeches’ presence kept clear the earth beneath green-filtered canopy, offering a space for my first dances of transformation, My first, adolescent, ceremonies were here, opening myself, giving myself to a green world.


a path through the woods, Red Fox Valley

These were the forests that shaped me, that held my heart safe in their wooden treasure-chests until I was ready to leave, a sapling myself, and go out into the world beyond the woods. My own Broceliande, a faerie land where I could disappear and be safe from that other world from a while. They are still there, these woods. Maybe not forgotten anymore. They look more cared for now. There is less rubbish, but more people. Blackwood is ringed by some new estate of smart houses but the old, twisted trees have survived; while the woods in Red Fox Valley have grown, are growing, swallowing the old sneaky tracks through the trees, offering sensible gravelled paths instead. But a wildness is still there, in both woods; a freedom of toads, adventure and stillness. A wildness at the heart of things.

Red Fox Valley


Latest worksheets

New worksheets

A fishy flavour for this set – big fish, small fish, fish to wave or fish to wear on your head!

There are two pages to each worksheet: a “leader’s sheet” with equipment list and hints on leading the activity and a straightforward “how-to-do it” page.  One page of the Flying Fish sheet has flown away…will track it down!

The original books for these sheets was “Talking to the Earth”. That and the more recent “Celebrating Nature’ are still available – follow the link to my website: Gordon’s books


"Giant fish" activity sheet
"Giant fish" activity sheet
"Flying fish" activity sheet - leader's sheet to follow
Fat Fish on Sticks - worksheet
"Fat fish on sticks" leader's notes
"Fishy windsocks" - leader's sheet
"Fishy windsocks" activity sheet
Made along the lines of a "giant fish"

Training courses coming up….

I am even more elusive than usual just now for people looking for workshops for adults or professional training sessions. (You can always set up your own training course and book me for that!). Most of the following events are still being finalised so come back to this page to find out more or drop me an email and I can let you know details as they confirm


Workshops in the diary just now for the next few months include:


            Lights, Words and Inspiring Places, 4 – 6 November, near Dunkeld, Perthshire. Drawing ideas out of the November weather and from mountains, moors, stream, wood and stone to give us words, to shape poems, spin stories, making quick puppets and holding the essence of autumn in tiny  lanterns, printed tissue and leaf-lightcages.

For the SpeyGrian Trust (, booking and costs through:


            Wild Words: planned for early December, a one day workshop down in the West Country: playing with words, making stories, building books. Details to be confirmed – contact Gordon for more information


            Institute for Outdoor Learning, March 2012, Hollowford Centre: probable workshops on this exciting event


Southend Educational Trust, Essex, (tentative) April 2012, a day working  with school grounds and finding ways of inspiring literacy through playgrounds, playing fields, flowerbeds and vegetable plots. Details to be confirmed


a fish-lantern for a SpeyGrian weekend?


A week of workshops

A week of hectic workshops pushed African memories to the back of my mind for a while as I need to concentrate on the here and now of slightly mad puppet characters and their evolving stories*.
A whirlwind week with 5 days of workshops since last Monday including three Moorland stories sessions for Borderland Vocies (why not look at and join our Facebook group Moorland Stories), a noisy day making night-time mobiles to carry bats, owl and other excitements into your dreams, a dauntingly quiet day with the woodland Trust (but a chance to meet some excellent Woodland Trust rangers and the delightful Cath Aran, another storyteller )

storytellers, rangers and remarkably few members of the public!


And to-day, a pleasant workshop at Tittesworth Reservoir and maybe 40 people settling down to make puppet s- some to take away and some for us to keep….gradually accumulating numbers for our Moorland Stories Enchanted World of Puppets at the Just-So Festival


* The old woman who lives in Rock Hall in the Roaches and spends her time counting fossils, the mermaid who lives in Doxey Pool nearby, the Moorlands Bear and his endless quest for more honey, and the puppy who lost his voice – stolen by the frog in his throat……


South African workshops, 2011

re-imaganing: exploring possible futures

2 weeks in South Africa, old friends, new friends, new workshops and an exciting new centre to work with


The Re-imagining festival in Grahamstown was part of the annual National Arts Festival exploring new perspectives on the environment and social change in South Africa. I always find when I visit this beautiful country that people are full of new ideas, new ways of looking at issues. Visiting RSA challenges me to look at what I bring to sessions and inspires me to find my own new perspectives and gives me new things to think about


Re-imagining addressed sustainability education by opening up spaces for discussion, space to listen think, talk and share.


My role: to work with local children on building stories, not with serious outcomes but to help children (and anyone who wanted to join in) to let their imaginations go, to find a degree of imaginative freedom and confidence in their own value as thinking creative people


So we used our immediate environment for inspiration and shaped new stories, made animals with our fingers, shaped characters out of leaves and scrap card and found adventures everywhere from the centre’s leaf-shaped pool to the caves of a rockery and a recess in a wall

books take shape after an afternoon of exploring stories


and in the quiet spaces between sessions, and between shows and exhibitons in the wider festival,  I let my own imagination wander


1. Head down a hole

Full of sand and hope

Dreaming of aardvarks


2. The aloe lifts fire

To a pale, cloudless sky.


Embrace a flower, ignite your spirit

more adventures!

a story expedition, ready to set off!


finding stories in the environment

Sunday 24th July 2011

Hollowford Centre, Castleton   10am – 3pm

A day to play with words, this workshop will help us find “adventures everywhere”… anywhere. It will offer activities designed to draw inspiration from simple observation, fostering confidence in participants’ own skills and encouraging improvisation within supportive activity structures. The activities used will also allow ideas to merge as a number of short activities flow together to give longer more intricate adventures

We will play with words, using language as another tool

to explore, enjoy and celebrate our environment.

We will use spoken, shouted, whispered, sung or written words and will explore exciting ways of holding onto written words in bog books, wild scrolls, mapsticks, water pictures and tales hidden in treasure chests

The activities used here have been tried and tested with family groups, on adult events and with school children – often in situations where Literacy is an issue and activities are needed that remove worry and fear and encourage simple enjoyment of words


Programme will include first words: setting out on an adventure

adventures everywhere: activities for a story-building walk: short activities with minimal equipment for use outside

holding onto adventures: ways of recording our words

bigger stories: working in groups to make quick, longer pieces


o developing story characters

o deriving adventures from found objects or


o making your own books

o the value of treasure

o story bundles


Price: £30 + vat (£36 inc vat)

Places are limited and will be allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis

Payment in advance will secure your place on the programme


To book or for further information please contact Hollowford at

Tel. 01433 620377

Bring: lunch, outdoor clothes, a sense of fun

Materials: provided

Finding Hollowford

Directions can be found on their website:

making stories, building books


Adventures Everywhere! Creeping Toad on Tour 2011!

Adventures Everywhere!

stories under our feet, tales from hills and woods and local streets


in the woods or in a classroom, Gordon's tales captivate and enchant....

…sneaking out of school what did the children find?

…what did we see, when the salmon swam up the river?

…the tiger’s roar shakes the clouds with thunder and the world changes…

With stories to inspire, enchant and engage, workshops to captivate, books to make and new stories to find, Creeping Toad activities involve participants in worlds of marvel and wonder and leave people full of words and images and ready for action

“like dogs who need toys to have fun and be happy, children need fun and to play to be happy. Then we learn well. With Gordon we play and have fun and learn at the same time”

Year 5 pupil, Runcorn

Gordon MacLellan – Creeping Toad – is one of Britain’s foremost environmental art and education workers…and he tells stories too! Newly returned from project work in South africa over the summer, Gordon sets off across Britain on another tour of terrible tales, mischeivious legends, wild stories and moments of gentle wonder


Tour dates (these are still tentative and may shift a bit as bookings come in)

Week beginning:

29th August 2011: central Scotland

5th and 16th September, 2011: Highland Region

early November:         Perth and eastern Scotland

December 2011, January 2012: East Midlands, Cheshire, Lancashire


making stories, building books

A day’s visit to your school might include


storytelling performances: lasting up to 60 minutes for up to 90 children at a time

stories outside! using the school ground, we’ll take storymaking out of the classroom and use the immediate environment, the day’s weather and whatever we can find to shape a set of stories never told before (allow 60 minutes for a class session)

story and book workshops: taking a bit longer (allow 90 minutes for a class) as well as discovering the stories that no-one has ever heard before, now we will build those into the books that no-one has ever read before and leave the classroom with a library no-one has ever visited before!


your own themes and ideas: or are you exploring a particular theme that you would like to involve some stories in? pirates….tropical islands….ancient cave people…..where in our school would bears live?…castle adventures,  have all featured in recent Creeping Toad projects

Charges: £250 a day: includes storyteller’s fee, travel and materials. Can be paid on the day or I can invoice you


For further information:

visit the Creeping Toad website at


To book: contact Gordon directly at

or by telephone on

01298 77964

effective workshops absorb people.....





Environmental storytelling, art and celebration – Education, Training & Workshops