A Druid’s Web Log – Still waiting for the light of Spring

Winter just isn’t letting go in these parts (Western New England) and we still have several inches of snow on the ground. Last night they even had snow in Maryland! What a strange year. I haven’t seen my small troop of five male turkeys in a few weeks. There is still a pile of cracked corn waiting under the bird feeders. I suspect they have gone a courtin’ in the nearby forest. Meanwhile, I am visualizing the herbs and flowers that will soon be blooming in the garden, and making plans for the summer festival season.

This Moonth has been a time of heartbreak for so many. The ongoing holocaust in Syria, the mysterious loss of a Malaysian jet liner (still not found as I type this) and a fatal mud slide in Washington have added to the grimness of the season.

You can help some of the victims of the mud slide by following the links in this account of the tragedy;

Robin Youngblood is a Native American grandmother and world-traveling spiritual teacher. She was caught in the landslide near Seattle on Saturday.

She and a friend rode out the massive wall of mud as it turned her house to sticks.  As rescuers still search for missing neighbors she has started a fund for the families affected.

She says,
“Church of the Earth is setting up a fund for survivors of the Washington Mudslide. If you have anything to spare, all our families lost EVERYTHING!! From toothbrushes to clothes, household goods, and homes. Those of us who are still alive will have to find new homes ~ there’s nothing left to return to. Please send donations through paypal to revrobin@churchoftheearth.org , and we’ll see that the families most in need get your donations. All monies will be equally divided among the families listed with Red Cross, and we will not keep any money for administration costs.”

See more about Church of the Earth

Her story is also featured here.

Another spiritual tragedy of sorts is brewing for Druids in the UK and worldwide. There are plans afoot to build houses for soldiers that will block the Stonehenge sunrise on the Summer Solstice, one of the most important days for Druids and that monument.

You can help to keep that from happening by signing a petition.

SOME PERSONAL STUFF

The biggest news from me is that I am now collaborating with a script writer and an artist to create a graphic novel based on the book PRIESTESS OF THE FOREST – A DRUID JOURNEY. This is a completely new arena and the ultimate goal is to get more attention for the book and hopefully make it available to a producer or director.

***Remember – You can purchase signed copies of my books from this website! ***

BOOK REVIEW

Druid”  by Michael Conneely

Conneely’s book is a fascinating story that toggles between three threads, a knot work of interweaving tales that are at times Celtic fantasy, Science Fiction, Magical Realism and autobiography. The action begins in 428 CE, a period that is very familiar to me, basically because it’s the time frame and setting of my own Celtic novels, and then it careens into the future, then back to the present day.

The book revolves around the legend of Corra, the ancient Land Goddess who Saint Patrick supposedly banished into a lake at the base of the mountain that now bears his name (Croagh Patrick).

Reading the book is a pleasure if you can forget that the Celts probably never called themselves that (they would have identified with their tribal names) and that there was no “Ireland” in 428 AD. Also that Lugh was never a “Sun God” (that is a Victorian conceit) rather a God of skill. Áine (Ir. “brightness, glow, joy, radiance; splendour, glory, fame”) is a better candidate for an ancient Sun deity.

Wiccan (a modern religion circa 1930’s, invented by Gerald Gardner) elements abound in the book such as calling the quarters in ritual (the ancient Celts thought in terms of Three worlds; Land, Sea and Sky and five directions at least). The ancient Celts were also polytheist and did not think of “The union of the Goddess and the God”. Nor did they celebrate eight festivals (the ancient Fire festivals were Samhain, Imbolc, Beltaine and Lughnasad).

Other problems exist. A self-published work, the book is in real need of editing; sudden tense changes in mid-paragraph, typos, misplaced commas, odd lacunae in the type and anachronisms crop up frequently. For American readers the book needs a glossary; words like bothy, dun, geiss, and lough are not explained.

But if you can follow the story with an uncritical eye you will find within it a paean to the Old Woman of Ireland, the Goddess of the Land.  This is a rough gem of a story, penned by a true Druid, a man who passionately loves the soil and the Spirit of Ireland.

EVENTS AND PUBLIC APPEARANCES

Here is a list of my public appearances for this year (so far) Please come by so we can meet and feel free to share this announcement!

  • June 4-9, 2014
    Ellen will be doing workshops at the 2014 annual Dowsers Convention
    Friday, Listening to Trees
    Monday Scottish Fairy Lore
    in Lyndonville, VT www.dowsers.org
  • June 21 and 22, 2014
    Mutton and Mead Medieval Festival Renaissance Faire, Montague, MA
    10:00am to 6:00pm
    Ellen will be signing her books at YE CELTIC BOOKS AND HERBALS
  • September 5-7, 2014
    Tree Medicine Tree Magic
    A weekend intensive in Pennsylvania on making tree medicines
    And learning Irish tree lore
  • Western MA Pagan pride Day
    A talk on Scottish Fairy lore
    Florence, MA
    September 27, 11 AM to 6 PM
  • Herbal Healing Intensive
    October 18, 2014 – April, 2015
    Two Saturdays a month, 1-5 PM near Amherst, MA
    A six month intensive. Covers Western herbal Materia Medica, formula making, case taking, Chinese Five Element Theory, Homeopathic First Aid, Flower Essence Counseling, plant identification, ethno botany, and hands on herbal techniques such as poultices, tinctures, salves etc. An herb walk outdoors, slide shows of plants and hands on preparations are included.
    Over 400 pages of handouts are included with the course. A certificate of completion is offered at the end.
  • Changing Times Changing Worlds
    Nov. 7-9, Crowne Plaza in Cromwell, Connecticut
    Ellen will teach a three part Druid Intensive including the Druidic wheel of the Year, the Ogham alphabet and meditating with trees.

Below you can catch up on the past Moonth’s gleanings from the media. Enjoy!

ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

RELIGION NEWS

NATURE NEWS

DRUID NEWS

CELTIC NEWS

HERBAL NEWS

  • How to tap Maples
  • Birch syrup
  • Sycamore syrup – Sycamore sap flows on warm winter days – days during the January thaw and days during maple syruping season that are too warm for maple sap to flow (when daytime temperatures are greater than 50 – and even 60 – degrees Fahrenheit).
  • How to eat Nettles
  • Nettle Ravioli in Nettle Pasta
  • Nettle bread recipe
    For the Americans:
    2c + 2.5 tsp organic flour
    ½ c. full fat, organic milk
    ½ c. nettle tips
    1.5 tbs. fresh yeast
    6 organic
    free range eggs
    1/3c white sugar
    2.5tsp Cornish sea salt
    1/2c. soft, unsalted, organic butter
  • Amaranth; “All you have to do is eat the weed” (just make sure its growing on an organic farm)
  • Gardening with Wild Plants
  • A fabulous website about Yew trees
  • Irish trees
  • Plantain
  • For those who have been following the Drama, here is your FIRE CIDER UPDATE
    Facebook StoryLast week, the moderators of the Anti-Trademark Fire Cider page (which had over 3000 likes!) were sent messages saying that there has been a formal complaint made by Amy Huebner (Shire City Owner), that we are violating their trademark and rights. From Facebook: “The Fire Cider Anti-Trademark page has been taken down. Facebook does not moderate between parties, please contact the complaining party, Amy Huebner of Shire City Herbals.”We were not surprised! We felt silenced and angry. We were not violating a trademark, because we are not actually selling anything!Well, we are back! We have a new Facebook page.Please like and share!

    Amy’s actions motivated us to create a new website with much more information on it!

    Even though Amy intended to silence us, she pushed us to get more organized and have a central location for all our movement information! Thanks Amy!

    • New Website
      The website has lots of great information about the movement. You can download letters, signs, recipes. Upload information, pictures and more! Check it out!
    • Promotional Materials
      Download promotional materials from the website!

            • General info flyers
            • Recipes
            • Make your own Fire Cider poster
            • Campaign Updates
            • Boycott

      **Before you write or call a store, check the website for the most up to date list of stores who have supported the boycott Fire Cider!

      ** Make sure you upload the information about stores that have decided to make a concious choice to support our mission in protecting our tradition from SCH Fire Cider, so that they are not still getting letters, and our energy doesn’t get wasted!

      **Check the website for 3 different SAMPLE boycott letters! Remember, these are samples! If you don’t like any of them, use your own words!

      **Keep the pressure on! Have a letter writing get-together!

    • Petition
      *It is so empowering to see us all come together to protect our traditions. We have almost 7,500 signatures!*Help us by circulating the petition to reach 10,000 signatures!
    • Flood the Market*We’d love to see coops and health food stores across the country carrying a large selection of LOCAL Fire Ciders! Live in Alabama? Why should your Coop carry a Fire Cider from Massachusetts? And if you live in MA, your Coop could carry Fire Cider made right in the very same town!

      *More info on how to do this! 

    • Volunteer Information*We are hoping to solidify our volunteer coordinator this week!

      *Submit a volunteer form if you would like to lend a hand!

    • Toast to Tradition*On Sunday, March 9th let’s all celebrate Fire Cider. Make a toast to tradition! Share and post your photos on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc

      *Don’t forget to tag Tradition Not Trademark on Facebook or use ‪#‎freefirecider elsewhere!

  • ANOTHER FIRE CIDER UPDATEHappy Spring*Traditional Healers Alliance*
    New Volunteer Coordinators
    Campaign Updates

    Spring Equinox is here! Hooray!

    During the last few cold weeks of winter, the Anti-trademark Fire Cider group has been busy building an organizing structure. Our goals were to:

    • Broaden the Fire Cider movement
    • Incorporate more volunteers into the organizing group
    • To work more efficiently as an organizing group.

    We have decided to call it….(drum roll)……

    The Traditional Healers Alliance!

    It is now spring, and we are happy to share with you the mission statement!

Traditional Healers Alliance: Mission Statement
The Traditional Healing Alliance’s (THA) mission is to protect traditional herbal terms and practices from potential restrictions while keeping these terms and traditions accessible to the general public. This includes remedies, traditionally practicing herbalists, and whole herbs.
THA works to build and unify the herbal community and empower them to feel that they can continue to celebrate traditional healing practices and produce historical, traditional remedies without restriction.

THA’s goals are:
Revoke the Fire Cider Trademark, and protect other common herbal terms from trademark through legal action, awareness campaigns and direct action (boycott, letter writing, petitions).
THA is working to set a precedent in the herbal marketplace. The herbal community will not sit back and watch while our traditional herbal terms are turned into a corporate commodity.
Through it’s advocacy work, THA is raising awareness about traditional remedies and healing.

    • New Volunteer Coordinators

      Along with the organizing infrastructure, we have found 2 new volunteer coordinators! Amy Richards and Rachael Young will be contacting folks and directing them on how to plug into the Anti- Trademark Fire Cider campaign.

      If you have submitted your name, and not heard anything, it is because we have been busy finding the coordinators and creating the structure for you to plug into!

    • Campaign Updates

      Boycott: Still going strong! We are still encouraging folks to write letters and call stores. We have sample letters here.

      Flood the Market: We have lots of new brands of Fire Cider popping up! Keep sending us pictures of your products!

      Petition: We are still trying to get to 10,000! Keep sharing!

      Thank you for your continued support.

      The Traditional Healers Alliance

HEALTH NEWS

FAIRY NEWS

PAGAN NEWS

POLITICS AND ETHICS (because they are the same thing)

 

Hot Herbs and a Cold War

The infamous Polar Vortex has been rippling over the nation for weeks now and the knee high ice on the mountain is hard as cement. I can no longer follow the comings and goings of the wild beasties; coy-dogs, fisher cats, moose, deer and foxes, because their trails leave no mark. The only exceptions are the wild turkey tracks that festoon the hardened snow in the driveway. A bleak winter for sure.

At the same time the wider world is heating up as Russia flexes its muscles and expands into Ukraine. I am old enough to remember when Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Russians. I remember the outrage I felt because the US did nothing – as a European born child of the post WWII era the sight of tanks rolling into cities was just too vivid to ignore, even from the safe distance of the USA. I am a bit older now and I understand the dangers of flinging a country gleefully into the fray (think of the wasted lives from the catastrophic wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan). I suspect there is not much Americans and the West can do, once the Russian Bear starts dancing. It feels like the Cold War is heating up once again.

Meanwhile, there is a hot little drama unfolding in the Herbal world as well. Our tiny little microcosm of society has even made it into National Public Radio in recent weeks. The looming controversy has to do with a company from Vermont (of all places) that has decided to patent a folk remedy that has been around for decades (and longer) called Fire Cider. At this time they are issuing “cease and desist” legal orders to any small purveyor of the product that happens to carry it on their website.

This kind of strong arm theft and protectionism of a folk remedy sets a very dangerous precedent. Old hippies will remember the popular “Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap”. Thankfully Dr. Bronner did not try to copyright the term “Castille Soap” which is essentially what this miserable little company “Shire City Herbals” has done. A boycott is in progress. Read more here;

ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE TO MAKE THIS A BETTER WORLD – the Fire Cider controversy heats up!

FIND A RECIPE TO MAKE YOUR OWN FIRE CIDER

 TAKE ACTION STEPS!

*Contact your local stores to inform them of your thoughts on this issue. We are asking people to continue to communicate their concerns in a direct and respectful manner. SAMPLE BOYCOTT LETTER AT BOTTOM OF THIS EMAIL: Please send store responses here.

* Submit any information you might have through the centralized submission form.

* Continue to share the petition.

*Volunteer your time and expertise. We need organizers to help start bio-regional groups! SUBMIT YOUR INFORMATION HERE.

* Flood the market with Fire Cider!! Sell your own in stores, and at Farmers Markets. Check out the “How to make a Fire Cider” label on our Blog.

* Write a blog post about Fire Cider! Post pictures. Let’s get the Google hits on our side!

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ROSEMARY’S MESSAGE

Dear Friends,

The saga of Fire Cider continues….

I wish to thank you all for your ongoing support. It’s been amazing to see how many people have mobilized over this issue and who are willing to support free ownership of Fire Cider. To me this issue is larger than just fire cider. However, in this moment it is most important that the name and product “Fire Cider” be returned to its rightful owners, the herbal community, many who have been making, using, and selling Fire Cider longer than Shire City Herbals has been in existence. When I first made Fire Cider, named it such, and taught hundreds of other people how to make it through my books, videos, classes, and conferences, I never imagined for a moment that anyone would think they could claim it as their own, or worse, deny others the right to sell it.

I believe in trademark laws, and I believe in supporting the success of small and large ~ yes, large ~ businesses as well but only if they demonstrate the ethics and integrity that have been part of the herbal community and movement since it was seeded in the early 1970’s. But, this is clearly a case where a company claimed ownership of something it neither created nor named. In fact, we have written documentation, including copyrights that Fire Cider was in existence in the 1980’s.

I read Shire City Herbals’ recent response to why they feel they have the right to keep the name they trademarked. Though I thought their letter was well written and very tactful, I also found it very interesting how they have rewritten the story in their best interest. In ‘their story’ they become the victims and the herbal community becomes the bullies who are trying to destroy ‘the small business that puts food on their table’. Though, yes, sadly there have been accusations and less than positive messages hurled from both sides, Shire City Herbals fails to mention the thousands of thoughtful well written emails/letters supporting their business but requesting they drop the trademark and suggesting viable win/win solutions.

They have also failed to mention that when they sent out the cease and desist letters, that it meant that other small companies who counted on the sales of Fire Cider to put ‘food on their tables’ no longer could do so. And further, they failed to mention that there are companies who have been selling Fire Cider at farmers markets, local food stores, online, and through their catalogues far longer than Shire City Herbals has been in business. What happens to these companies when they get their cease and desist orders?

It was interesting to read in an earlier email from the Shire folks that Dana had learned to make Fire Cider from his grandmother, who he claims fed it to him as a small child. He asserts that he had no other knowledge of fire cider outside of this experience within his family. However, there are many different versions circulating online of how Dana learned to make Fire Cider, including the possibility that he learned about it during his time at the Southwest Institute for Healing Arts. If he did learn about it in his studies than they knowingly trademarked something that wasn’t truly their own.

Finally, in ‘their story’ they claim they are the protectors of the name Fire Cider and trademarked it so that other larger companies wouldn’t grab it. This seems to be one of their main arguments for holding onto the name. I appreciate that Shire City Herbals feels protective of ‘their’ name and wants to protect big companies from grabbing the trademark but we propose that there is a wiser, fairer and better option, one that benefits everyone, not just their company. From their lenses, they become the crusaders for herbal medicine bringing the knowledge of fire cider and its benefits to the masses, ignoring the hundreds of people that have been doing this quite successfully before them. No one denies their success, but they are following in the footsteps of a huge movement started long before they sent out the first announcement of their company or trademarked their first product.

Perhaps this whole discussion is tied into the intellectual property rights of the herbal community, much like the property rights of indigenous people? Who has a right to ‘own’ these formulas and claim title to names that have been used by thousands of people? What’s the future of popular products/names like Zoom Balls, Kava Chai, Healing Salve, Kloss’s Liniment, or even Elderberry Syrup? Will they too get claimed and tied up in private ownership? It’s an interesting and challenging process. Let’s do what we can to get Fire Cider back so that other companies can sell it in their local farmers markets, local stores, online and in catalogues. Shire City Herbal folks can of course continue as well, but should do so under a trademark of their own unique name like Shire Fire Cider or whatever they choose.

In addition to addressing the issues with Fire Cider, let’s do something bigger. Let’s do what we can to create a legal safe haven, or an ‘Herbally Owned’ trademark (thanks to Sara Katz for this one), where we can safeguard Fire Cider and other popular ‘public’ formulas so this doesn’t occur again. All of this time and energy is well spent, I feel, if we can intentionally create a way to ensure that all herbalists will have equal access to our herbal traditions now and in the generations to come.

This is a great wake up call! I have appointed a core team that I entrust to lead us through this, we continue to need your support however you are able to give it. Let’s go for it, together!

With you in herbal ways,

Rosemary Gladstar

——————————————–

UNIFYING POINTS OF THE ANTI-TRADEMARK HERBAL MOVEMENT

These can be used in articles, talking to the public, radio shows….

* The term “Fire Cider” was coined by Rosemary Gladstar. She has published copyrighted books coining the term “fire cider” from the 90′s, and has freely shared this term since the 1970′s. This term has become a generic herbal term that many herbal companies sell their own version of. This anti-trademark fire cider movement sprang up after a business trademarked term, “Fire Cider”, bringing to light a bigger issue within the herbal community, trade-marking common herbal terms. The herbal community is now fighting to keep them in public use.

*This is not about Shire City Herbals as individuals or their business, this is about defending a generic herbal term and keeping it in public use. Shire City Herbals responses to the issue are not accepted by this community, and we are reacting with an organized response. This grassroots movement is working to protect other generic herbal terms as well as “Fire Cider”.

*We have a petition going to revoke this, with over 3000 signatures in the first 48 hours. This demonstrates that this term is generic and should not be trademarked.

* There is an active boycott, with herbalists/ supporters contacting retailers of Shire City Herbals Fire Cider, and returning their product to the stores. This boycott will end when the term “Fire Cider” is back in public use.

* This type action opens the door to trademarking of traditional medicines for profit. The biggest reason that this is dangerous is because herbs and herbalism have always been widely available to everyone. Trademarking traditional terms will change the herbal market into something that looks more like what the pharmaceutical industry looks like right now, with corporations owning words/terms that were previously accessible to the public.

*This anti-trademark movement is working towards keeping traditional herbal terms in the hands of small businesses, teachers and the general public. Through legal measures, a boycott, and a petition, we are working to protect herbalists from being penalized for using terms that have always been in public use.

—————————————————–

SAMPLE BOYCOTT LETTER

Dear Retailer,

I am writing to raise your attention to a public controversy regarding one of the products you carry, Shire City Herbal’s Fire Cider.

“Fire Cider” is an herbal product that has been made and sold by numerous small companies since the early 1980′s. The name was coined by Rosemary Gladstar over 35 years ago, she has shared the name and the basic recipe freely since then to thousands of people; it’s as common as “Elderberry Syrup” in the herb world. The name and recipe are published in Rosemary’s books from the 90‘s and pamphlets from the 1980′s. But even more importantly, there are many herbal companies that use this term for a similar product – every producer has a slightly different recipe, but almost everyone markets it as “Fire Cider”.

The manufacturers of this particular Fire Cider, Shire City Herbals, hired a lawyer and trademarked the name, and have started taking legal action against other herbal companies that sell Fire Cider. People who have been selling this product for over 30 years have been told that they can no longer call what they sell “Fire Cider”, because Shire City Herbals has the exclusive rights to use that name.

Why should you care about this?

This type of action will open the door to trademarking of traditional medicines for profit. The biggest reason that this is unethical is because herbs and herbal terms have always been widely available to everyone. The precedent of trademarking traditional herbal terms could change the many vibrant, varied herbal businesses into something that looks more like what the pharmaceutical industry looks like right now.

This company has been approached by Rosemary Gladstar and thousands of supporters asking them to remove the trademark, and they will not do this. We do not object to trademarking an original product and original name, but Shire City Herbals claimed and then trademarked a product and name that was made and sold by many small herbal business’s long before they ever sent out their first bottle of Fire Cider. We are not objecting to their using the name, we are asking them to trademark it under their own original name, such as Shire City Fire Cider, so that other companys that have been making and selling Fire Cider can continue to do so.

We would like you to consider removing Fire Cider made by Shire City Herbals from your shelves until they revoke the trademark. Please consider contacting the company and encourage them to remove the trademark. If keeping herbal products and their commonly used names free and in public use is important to you, then this is a great way to show it!

There is an active petition asking the United States Patent and Trademark Office to remove of trademark. At this time we have over 7000 signatures.

 The public also showed their support for this issue on World Fire Cider Making Day, February 2, 2014 with thousands of people making their own versions of Fire Cider.

Thank you for your time,

YOUR NAME

—————————————————–

In other health related news, General Mills recently announced that Cheerios will now be made *without any genetically modified ingredients*. But genetically modified organisms are still lurking inside other General Mills cereals like Chex, Honey Nut Cheerios, Golden Grahams, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Lucky Charms.

I just took action to demand that General Mills remove GMOs from all of its breakfast cereals. Please do so too.

Some personal goings on;

A RECENT INTERVIEW

UPCOMING SPEAKING EVENTS AND APPEARANCES

  • June 4-9, 2014
    I will be doing workshops at the 2014 annual Dowsers Convention
    Friday, Listening to Trees
    Monday, Scottish Fairy Lore
    in Lyndonville, VT
  • June 21 and 22, 2014
    Mutton and Mead Medieval Festival Renaissance Faire, Montague, MA
    10:00am to 6:00pm
    I will be selling books at YE CELTIC BOOKS AND HERBALS
  • September 5-7, 2014
    Tree Medicine Tree magic
    A weekend intensive in Pennsylvania on making tree medicines and learning Irish tree lore
  • Herbal Healing Intensive
    October 18, 2014 – April, 2015
    Two Saturdays a month, 1-5 PM near Amherst, MA
    A six month intensive. Covers Western herbal Materia Medica, formula making, case taking, Chinese Five Element Theory, Homeopathic First Aid, Flower Essence Counseling, plant identification, ethno botany, and hands on herbal techniques such as poultices, tinctures, salves etc. An herb walk outdoors, slide shows of plants and hands on preparations are included. Over 400 pages of handouts are included with the course. A certificate of completion is offered at the end.

And as usual, below you will find the rest of the past Moonth’s news. Enjoy!

 ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

CELTIC NEWS

HERBAL NEWS

HEALTH NEWS

NATURE NEWS

SCIENCE NEWS

PAGAN NEWS

ARTS NEWS

POLITICS/ETHICS

Keep the faith everyone, Spring is coming!