Interview with Professor Hopman

By Artemis Gryphon Snowhawk

Our very own Professor Hopman has written a book entitled: Priestess of the Forest: A Druid Journey, and graciously granted an interview. This book is for “any­one who has European ancestry might be interested in the religion that was practiced from the Black Sea to Western France and Ireland, for a thousand years.”

Here are the rea­sons you should pick up a copy:

What inspired you to write this book?
I wrote the book for a number of reasons.

I’m concerned that some writers and members of the occult community are claiming that there were no fe­male Druids. One author even says that women were not allowed access to the mysteries and that the only “real” Druidic relationship was be­tween an older (male) mentor and a younger (male) student.

I have written an article about female Druids, Poets, Brehons, (lawyers and judges) and the evidence that we have for them; that will be published in the online magazine Magical Buffet in February, 2008.

Another reason I felt inspired to write this book is I often feel the winds of the Gods at my back, constant­ly urging me to write, teach, and celebrate the Druid tradition; my chosen spiritual path. I wanted to write a manual that would give the flavor of this tradition, its rituals, holy days, tools, practices and beliefs, in a pleasant form for beginners. It is a Bardic teaching tale, with the core tenets of our faith woven through it, and any reader would be able to create a personal Druid practice by studying the book.

Another aspect is while this book is not a strictly his­torical account; it does reflect the culture of pre-Chris­tian Western Europe and the ways of our ancestors. Anyone of European ancestry might be interested in the religion that was practiced from the Black Sea to Western France and Ireland, for a thousand years, (roughly 500 BCE to 500 CE) and that has never com­pletely died out.

How did you choose the title?
The story follows a Druid Priestess, an herbalist, living in third century Ireland.
It is called “A Druid Journey” because it is not just a novel; it’s also a spiritual text to be shelved with other spiritual books.

There are plenty of warriors in the book as well, which makes the story interesting.

How long have you pursued Druidism?
I have been a Druid since 1984, one of the earliest members of the Order of ADF, ‘Ar nDraiocht F’ein: A Druid Fellowship, founded in 1983. In 1986 I co-founded the Henge of Keltria, serving as its Vice Presi­dent for nine years. In 1996 I started the Whiteoak mailing list which officially became a Druid Order in 1997. I am a co-founder of the Whiteoak Order (Ord na Darach Gile) and Co-Chief of the Whiteoak Order (www.whiteoakdruids.org).

What format did you choose for this book?
It is written like any novel, with separate chapters, however, I have included an extensive glossary and pronunciation guide to assist the reader in understand­ing the ‘Old Irish’ terms used throughout the book and pertinent to the Druid religion.

There is also a list of resources at the back of the book, as well as an interview with the publisher.

How long did it take you to write this book?
This was my first book of fiction. While non-fiction takes between one and two years to write, I found this much more difficult because I wished to accurate­ly represent the cultural and religious elements while creating an engaging story.

This book took about nine years, including several re­writes and edits to the manuscript.

Your book is scheduled for sale beginning Febru­ary 1, 2008.
Why do you recommend readers pick up a copy?
I hope that readers will get a sense of what a beautiful tradition we share. Beginners to the Celtic or Druid path will be interested, not only in the story but in the book’s guidance and the recommended reading listed in the back.

What do you hope readers will retain from your book?
I believe readers will find reflections of modern times in its pages. As I was writing it Religious Right was gaining precedence on the American political scene.

I did not realize until after I had finished that there were strong parallels between current politics and those of ancient times. Our ancestors had to struggle with issues between church and state, just as we are today.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I have another book coming out in May 2008 entitled A Druid’s Herbal – For Sacred Tree Medicine. This book will be a study in Druidic concepts regard­ing sacred trees and will act as a guide to the medicinal and magical uses of trees. I plan to make that a required text for my class at the Grey School called Tree Medicine-Tree Magic.
I am currently finishing a book on Scottish herbs and magic that should be out in late 2008 or early 2009. It has been a very busy year!

Our thanks to Professor Hopman for this enlightening discussion of her new book, we look forward to its release and to her future works.

Priestess of the Forest: A Druid Journey can be ordered here.

You can also order A Druid’s Herbal – For Sacred Tree Medicine here.

WHISPERING GREY MATTERS 27 YULE 2007

Winter Solstice 2007 – Preventing War in the Season of Peace on Earth

I am home as I write this, stuck in a blizzard. It is wonderful to be here inside with heat and food and all the comforts of life. The wild birds are happy in spite of the snow; I filled the feeders to bursting with seeds and suet. The cats are dozing on sofas and chairs.

As the moment of Solstice approaches I reflect on how this is a Spiritual occasion that falls on all peoples everywhere, on all races, creeds, and religions, equally. It is a time that the whole planet rejoices and celebrates the return of the light.

Last night I met with local Quakers, Christians and others of my interfaith group, in an emergency meeting to discuss what we can do to stave off another “pre-emptive” war with Iran. We put our heads together and came up with some simple actions that Americans everywhere can participate in, to get the message out to our legislators that another war is just not an option. In fact, another war is downright un-patriotic considering the cost to towns, schools, paved roads, bridges, health care for the poor and elderly, food and toy and product safety inspections, disaster relief during fires and floods. (If you want to know exactly how much the current war is costing your town or city, go to this site and enter your zip code. If the billions that have gone into fighting an illegal war had instead gone into retrofitting our cars and homes to take different kinds of energy, or had been put into subsidies for research and development of wind, solar, geo-thermal, bio-mass, and other resources (plus conservation of course) wouldn’t we be much better off today?)

So how do we stop the politicians who are currently in power from dragging us into yet another mess that will only destabilize the Middle East further? Think of Pakistan with its nuclear weapons, right next to Iran. India and Pakistan have gone to the brink three times in the last fifteen years. If we attack yet another Muslim country there are forces out there that will do everything they can to get their hands on nuclear weapons. Even a ‘limited’ nuclear war will kill a billion people due to the effects of “nuclear winter”(according to Physicians for Social Responsibility).

OK, so what are some concrete actions that we as citizens can do? At the meeting last night we all agreed that it is not enough to just let politicians know how we feel. We must also find ways to actually make them DO SOMETHING.

Here are things that every person and community can try in the next few months:

  1. 1) Call your senators and ask them to sign on to Senate Resolution 356 (written by Durbin and Sanders). It states that any military action against Iran must be first approved by the Senate. Capitol Number 202-224-3121
  2. Ask your member of Congress to open hearings about who knew what and when, and why is the administration deceiving the public again regarding the National Intelligence Estimate. “In October of this year Bush raised the specter of World War III with Iran, because of its pursuit of nuclear weapons months after he had been told by our own intelligence community it was likely Iran halted its weapons program in 2003”. – Senator Joseph Biden (Delaware) December 4, 2007 Capitol Number 202-224-3121
  3. Ask your City Council to pass a resolution not to attack Iran. Local towns in my area have done this and it passed. (You can also ask your city or town to pass an anti-torture resolution while you are at it).
  4. Write an op-ed in your local paper about how peace and diplomacy should be the goal of all people, especially this time of year.
  5. Remind everyone that the Empire is stretched to the limit. These constant wars (now longer in duration than WW II) are driving the country into bankruptcy.
  6. Ask vets who have actually seen war to speak publicly about the physical and emotional cost, the brain injuries, lost limbs, and life long repercussions of battle and especially of too frequent deployments.
  7. Go to the National Priorities Project website and enter your zip code to see exactly what your community is paying for the current war and tell your friends and the local papers.
  8. Organize letter writing campaigns at your church or Coven or Grove. Bring paper, envelopes and stamps to the next meeting. Remember that the Civil Rights movement, the anti-Vietnam efforts, and many other worthy causes were fostered in places of religious worship.

One more thing

Here is one more thing to think about this Solstice Season. The House just passed H. Res. 847. While this House resolution is seemingly harmless, now would be a very good time for everyone to call their reps and remind them that they have constituents who are NOT Christian who deserve deep respect, also.

The House passed this bill on December 12, 2007. The vote was 372-9, with 10 members also voting “Present,” meaning they took no position on the legislation, and 40 not voting. One of the “Present” votes was cast by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.). More Democrats -195 – voted for the bill than Republicans, 177.

The nine members who voted against the bill – Gods bless them! – are Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.).

Here’s the text of H.Res. 847, just so you know how important Christianity and Christmas are:

“Recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith. Whereas Christmas, a holiday of great significance to Americans and many other cultures and nationalities, is celebrated annually by Christians throughout the United States and the world; Whereas there are approximately 225,000,000 Christians in the United States, making Christianity the religion of over three-fourths of the American population; Whereas there are approximately 2,000,000,000 Christians throughout the world, making Christianity the largest religion in the world and the religion of about one-third of the world population; Whereas Christians identify themselves as those who believe in the salvation from sin offered to them through the sacrifice of their savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and who, out of gratitude for the gift of salvation, commit themselves to living their lives in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Bible; Whereas Christians and Christianity have contributed greatly to the development of western civilization; Whereas the United States, being founded as a constitutional republic in the traditions of western civilization, finds much in its history that points observers back to its roots in Christianity; Whereas on December 25 of each calendar year, American Christians observe Christmas, the holiday celebrating the birth of their savior, Jesus Christ; Whereas for Christians, Christmas is celebrated as a recognition of God’s redemption, mercy, and Grace; and Whereas many Christians and non-Christians throughout the United States and the rest of the world, celebrate Christmas as a time to serve others: Now, therefore be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives– (1) recognizes the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the world; (2) expresses continued support for Christians in the United States and worldwide; (3) acknowledges the international religious and historical importance of Christmas and the Christian faith; (4) acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States and in the formation of the western civilization; (5) rejects bigotry and persecution directed against Christians, both in the United States and worldwide; and (6) expresses its deepest respect to American Christians and Christians throughout the world.”

See how your Congressional rep voted on the Christians and Christmas resolution.

All wishes for a safe and cuddly Solstice season to all my readers!