Happy New Year!
There is an old Scottish tradition of going out at midnight on New Year’s Eve and testing the winds, the direction of the wind at that time will give you your New Year’s prediction. For me it was a West Wind. The Western direction in Celtic thinking had to do with storytelling and history keeping; both of which were Druidic functions. So for me at least, this will be a year when the lessons of history are foremost.
We all know the old aphorism “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana). Whether we are looking back to the 1930’s, to the 1950’s or back to the Roman Empire, this will be a year when we will need to pay close attention to the lessons of the past. Here are some other wise historical musings to ponder;
“Only strong personalities can endure history, the weak ones are extinguished by it.”
“The history of free men is never really written by chance but by choice; their choice!”
Dwight David Eisenhower
“The world`s history is constant, like the laws of nature, and simple, like the souls of men. The same conditions continually produce the same results.”
Friedrich von Schiller
“History is the discovering of the principles of human nature.”
“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”
“The study of history is the best medicine for a sick mind; for in history you have a record of the infinite variety of human experience plainly set out for all to see; and in that record you can find yourself and your country both examples and warnings; fine things to take as models, base things rotten through and through, to avoid.”
“History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again.”
According to the more detailed Scottish science of wind divination (the “Airts”) the West Wind has other dire implications. From which direction did the winds blow in your neck of the forest?
By Scottish tradition the winds have the following qualities;
- East Wind (gaoth an ear)
Its color is purple (corcur) a color that implies nobility (because only nobles were allowed to wear the color purple) and art.
- East South East Wind (gaoth an ear ear-dheas)
Its color is yellow (buidhe) and it is a good wind for fruit, fish and corn.
- South South East Wind (gaoth a deas ear-dheas)
Its color is red (dearg) and it is a good Wind for fishing, luck and prosperity.
- South Wind (gaoth a deas)
Its color is white (geal) and it brings a rich harvest.
- South South West Wind (gaoth a deas iar-dheas)
Its color is pallid (glas) or grey-green. It brings blight, battle and poor harvests.
- West South West Wind (gaoth an iar iar-dheas)
Its color is green and it brings healing. It is the Wind of the Mothers.
- West Wind (gaoth an iar)
Its color is dun (pale) (odhar) and it brings the death of a king, bloodshed, and justice.
- West North West Wind (gaoth an iar iar-thuath)
Its color is grey (liath) and it brings death, slaughter, and the fall of blossoms.
- North North West Wind (gaoth an iar-thuath)
Its color is dusky, swarthy, sable, gloomy (ciar) and it brings grumbling, quarrels and sternness but also strength and vindication. It can sweep away disease.
- North Wind (gaoth a tuath)
Its color is black (dubh) and it brings battle magic and drought.
- North North East Wind (gaoth a tuath ear-thuath)
Its color is dark grey (teimheil) and it brings sickness and battle venom.
- East North East Wind (gaoth an ear ear-thuath)
Its color is speckled (aladh) and it brings enchantments and magic.
(list from SCOTTISH HERBS AND FAIRY LORE by Ellen Evert Hopman, Pendraig Publishing)
It wasn’t all bad – some positive things that happened in 2016.
An exercise to create a better New Year, from ArchDruid Philip Carr Gomm
- At the moment the old classic TREE MEDICINE TREE MAGIC is being edited. It should be re-released by late spring, in an expanded version with tree recipes added to each section, from Pendraig Publishing. I am also at work on a book about New England Witches….stay tuned!
- On December 31, 2016 I did a podcast on the book SECRET MEDICINES FROM YOUR GARDEN, herbs, communicating with trees and other topics. It’s also posted on Marla Brooks Facebook page, the Facebook Stirring the Cauldron page, on Twitter, iTunes and on the website.
- “Secret Medicines from Your Garden gets nominated as one of the top 25 occult books of the year by Spiral Nature Magazine! Read the review here.See the other top 25 books here.
- And “A Legacy of Druids – conversations with Druid leaders in Britain, the USA and Canada, past and present” made Patheos’ top ten books of 2016!
*Reminder – you can order books from this website and get a copy signed by the author and a personal note – please be specific about who you want the book signed to!*
- Secret Medicines from Your Garden: Plants for Healing, Spirituality, and Magic, by Ellen Evert Hopman
Healing Arts Press, 9781620555576, 384 pp., 2016
In Secret Medicines from Your Garden, master herbalist, Druid priestess, and lore mistress Ellen Evert Hopman shares some of her herbal healing wisdom with her own distinct stamp of individuality, elevating this book above and beyond a simple reference book. What takes shape in these pages is a holistic resource for herbalists comprising herbal lore, recipes, and personal anecdotes, making this an ideal companion for anyone seeking an herbal mentor.Rather than offering an appendix of herb names and functions (many are present, and the reader can skim them in some parts), readers get to experience them with Hopman as she retells parts of her journey with plants. In this way, the teaching in this book is alive. Herbalist and author Matthew Wood notes in the foreword, “we feel the thread of the writer’s experience and life running through the pages, unifying diverse lessons into a flowing and almost living narrative,”1 and the result is pretty empowering. One gets the sense that this is Hopman’s goal here.
Like herbal healing itself, Secret Medicines from Your Garden instills the reader with a sense of self sufficiency and being supported by the earth. The author, who’s work is testament to this, is clearly committed to her craft and has paved a courageous path for many aspiring herbalists to see. In the introduction, “Walking the Green Path,” Hopman explains a visit to Rome during grad school where she studied art history but “felt a pull to go to the countryside.”2 Following the instruction of a monk, she went to a hillside Franciscan community where she wandered in the wilderness, partook of community baking and community activities for four days. Here, plants called to her, and their voice was so strong it prompted her to “throw out everything [she] was doing.”3 This is when she began working with plants. Reading about her journey inspired me, and reminded me of times I’ve felt a similar pull to change my own path, many of which have been prompted by experiences in nature.
Hopman also shares pieces of advice she received that helped her realize the importance of permission to find one’s own way in a creative healing art like herbalism: “After I studied with the First Nations for five years, one of the elders said to me: ‘It’s great that you are learning the ways and honoring our ancestors. But you need to honor your own.”4 It was then she discovered Druidry, and set out to find other Druids, which adds, of course, a unique depth of value to Hopman’s career as a herbal healer. Plants opened a doorway for Hopman that changed her life and worldview. I don’t doubt that for many who read this book it will open doors to doing the same.
Hopman offers everything the reader needs to start tapping into, and strengthening, their own connection with plants: in part one, “A Wildcrafting Primer,” Hopman reveals how to intuit a plant’s properties based on their form, colour, location and more. For instance, plants that thrive in the shade tend to be cooling, plants with hollow stems will help clean out tubes in the human body, and so on. Not just with woodland herbs, but ones common in cities like dandelion, nettle, tulip, wisteria, and others.
Dandelions, for example, are usually thought to be weeds in cities and suburban areas, but this book shows how they can be used as healing herbs. As well as supporting kidney and liver functions, a small section called “The Energetics of Color,” explains that yellow flowering plants like dandelions can also enhance a sense of personal power. Hopman shares ways to consume dandelion greens (mixed into a salad after being rinsed, or dusting them with flour, salt and pepper and frying in butter), and make dandelion tea from their roots. She also writes that the flowers can be used to make wine. This usage seems way more interesting than my previous experiences using dandelion, which has been limited to buying dried herbs at a bulk store and steeping in hot water and lemon to make a pretty run-of-the-mill dandelion tea.
Will I opt to pick dandelions from my downtown Toronto neighbourhood this spring? Maybe not, but Hopman, who lives in a forest in New England, does share some cautions for urban foragers in this section: “Gather plants at least one thousand feet from a roadway to avoid the pollutants that abound there, such as those from car exhaust and brake lining”5 The next time I find myself in a locale that grows dandelions in abundance one thousand feet from a roadway, I’ll be sure to pick some to try out a fresher tea.
In part 2, “Exploring Invisible Dimensions of the Plant World,” Hopman looks at animal spirit medicines and herbal astrology, and ways to communicate with plants, including topical sprays, singing to plants, and more. In Parts 3 and 4, “Enjoying Nature’s Bounty” and “Formula Making,” Hopman shares bee medicine and kitchen medicine recipes, including oils, salves, incense, bath sachets, cookies (pine gingerbread, anyone?), and teas for physical and spiritual healing. The book ends with a comprehensive table of constitutional prescribing (treatment using herbs, based on the whole person) and a glossary of contraindications (any reasons to not use certain herbs for example, during pregnancy, or for those with heartburn, etc.),Hopman provides instructions for the “triangle” formula-making system of her mentor, William LeSassier, to help the reader make custom herbal remedies tailored to a person’s unique strengths and weaknesses. She writes that recording this formula and sharing it was one of her major impetuses for writing the book.6 The 18-part system aims to help herbal practitioners design a balanced approach for long-term prescribing, combining cleansing herbs, building herbs, and tonic herbs in the right proportions.
Below is the usual assortment of archeology, climate, nature, religion, Celtic, ethics and other news. I hope your New Year is stellar and filled with peace and joy.
*Reminder – you can order books from this website and get a copy signed by the author and a personal note – please be specific about who you want the book signed to!*
- The year 2016 in archeology
- Analysis of the diet of an Iron Age broch dweller
- Remains of a rare 3 million year old animal found in Argentina
- Re-examining the history of the Vikings based on new evidence
- A Viking era belt buckle may depict Loki
- Why archeology needs to come out of the cave and into the digital age
- Disputing the recent Newgrange roof box controversy
- The history of Shetland (video)
- Scotland’s oldest surviving piece of tartan
- What beer tasted like in 6000 BCE
- Like Newgrange, Gavr’inis in France is oriented to the winter solstice
- The best paleoanthropology of 2016
- The Pallasboy project/archeology and art
- An Irish brooch from a Viking grave
- Ancient shipwreck found in Caesarea includes statue of Luna, the Moon Goddess
- Prehistoric tombs are telescopes without a lens
- Paleontologists aflutter over fuzzy dinosaurs
- 3.6 million year old foot prints found in Tanzania
- Why don’t humans have penis bones?
- A Bronze Age metal “cape”
- North America’s lost Medieval city
- Ancient rock drawings found in Iran
- Human blood, organs and a virus found in ancient pottery
- Dolmens and megaliths in Montana align to Solstices and Equinoxes
- A dinosaur tail trapped in amber has feathers
- A 6000 year old British house is found
- An undisturbed Neolithic tomb in Orkney is being excavated
- Winter sunlight at Dowth
- A boy’s 13th century homework is preserved on birch bark
- Human remains and pottery found on Angelsey
- A decommissioned Iron Age broch found in Orkney – with human remains
- A huge ritual site found that pre-dates Stonehenge
- Herbs, trees and fungi to forage in winter
- How to make a Turmeric (or ginger) bug
- California Spikenard for colds
- Plant grown in a bottle is watered just once in 53 years
- How to make Metheglin (herb flavored Mead)
- Make your own Fire Cider – great for colds
- Icelandic winter time lamb stew made with medicinal herbs
- Irish government approves medical Cannabis ( a great alternative to the opioid epidemic)
- Magic mushrooms shown to ease depression, anxiety in cancer patients
- Conifer infused Vodka
- Cannabis/CBD infused oil
- CBD is now a schedule 1 drug (what idiocy)
- 1100 Doctors, nurses, petition Trump to curb fossil fuels to protect health
- Strobe lights appear to reduce Alzheimer’s causing plaque in the brain
- A new diabetes treatment might eliminate injections
- How Trump wants to change Medicare (hint: it will not help seniors)
- Fears mounting over proposed Medicaid cutbacks
- Rights groups launch campaign to protect abortion access
CLIMATE AND NATURE NEWS
- Trump peddles climate change doubt while the world moves ahead and acts
- How much could Trump damage the planet? The numbers are in.
- A new study on the warming planet feedback loop
- Fukushima radiation found in Canadian salmon
- The lesson of Chernobyl – we should run away screaming from nuclear power until we can idiot proof it
- Mesozoic Christmas trees
- Obama signs ban on drilling in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic (can you hear the seals applauding?)
- Two alien life forms trying to communicate (video)
- More attempts to communicate with aliens. This time its bats.
- Communities along the DAPL pipeline fear for their drinking water
- EPA finally concludes that fracking pollutes drinking water
- World’s oldest sea bird is expecting again
- A hunter kills the last of the Druid wolves
- Last month’s Zoology news in pictures
- Earth’s day lengthens 2 milliseconds per century
- Climate change in pictures
- Trump administration wants to privatize Native American land for fossil fuel extraction
- A massive coal mining project moves ahead in Australia, sounding the death knell for the Barrier Reef
- The consequences of Trump’s carbon obsessed energy policy
- Meanwhile, solar is fast becoming the cheapest world electricity source
- How the planet can still survive Trump (it won’t be easy)
- A 16 year old comes up with solution to the world plastic problem in the oceans
- New clues about whale evolution
- Einstein’s theory on speed of light may be wrong – tests are in the works
- Cassini spacecraft about to end its mission in Saturn’s rings
- A Santero speaks about spiritual cleansing (video)
- Physicist finds that all matter has spirit/is alive. (That’s just basic Animism)
- Why do Christians hunt the wren?
- Winter among the Mari – Europe’s oldest Pagans
- Winter Solstice in Hungary
- For the first time in many centuries, Polish Pagans are about to build a new temple
- The origins of Yule
- Millions of Muslims defy ISIL by marching but the western media is mostly silent
- How to celebrate Hogmanay
- How to build a Celtic round house (in Welsh) (video)
- Celtic lore of the honey bee
FOLKLORE AND MAGIC
- The Witch of Monroe County, West VA and a traditional cure for rheumatism
- Guarding the house with hidden objects
- Newfoundland’s mummery tradition revives
- How to appease household spirits
- Hunting the Wren in pictures
POLITICS AND ETHICS
- Republicans would like to scrap the Endangered Species Act
- Women’s rights march in DC is stronger than ever, despite legal obstacles
- The evidence for Trump’s impeachment may already be in place
- Speaking for us all – A list musicians snub Trump’s inauguration
- The biggest job killer in the US is actually automation
- 100 CEOs have as much retirement wealth as 41% of American families
- The battle for DNC chair pits establishment vs progressives
- Conservatives send Trump their wish list; gut the rules for climate change, nutrition and wages
- Democrats seek to mandate that Trump divest from his businesses to prevent conflicts of interest
- Trumps cabinet is wealthier than 1/3 of US households combined
- California governor vows to protect the climate in defiance of Trump
- Trump’s ultra-right wing Israeli policy will inevitably lead to more war
- Corporate tax havens abroad are creating massive income inequality
- Jill Stein and the Greens seek a re-count of votes in MI and PA
- Obama, Army Corps of Engineers deny permit for Dakota pipeline
- Lakota celebrate the victory with caution
- Republicans start a leftist professor watch list (chilling)
- Trump allies with Wall Street, Hedge Fund managers (not the average American)
- Trump’s new HHS secretary says no woman in the USA has had trouble affording birth control
- Nestle is being sued for using child slaves for labor on cocoa farms
- Trump will keep his private security team once in office. Methinks the man is scared.
- Chinese newspaper: “Trump has no sense of how to lead a superpower”. Ya think?
- Chomsky on Trump in the Whitehouse
- Michael Moore on what you must do about Trump in 2017, a 5 point plan
- Sanders comments on Trumps irresponsible and juvenile nuclear arms race tweets
- Kasich quietly signs law blocking local municipalities from raising the minimum wage
- How to resist Trump while saving the planet – 6 lessons
- Booming US arms sales may explain never ending wars
- Trumps EPA cabinet pick has strong ties to the fossil fuel industry and Koch brothers
- Why one vet felt compelled to go to Standing Rock
- GOP is creating a professor watch list – essentially Gestapo tactics
- Sanders: how to make social security solvent and increase benefits
- Rep. Maxine Waters vows to fight Trump all the way
- The media boosted Trump 24/7 for two years, now they are thinking of fact checking everything he says? (A bit late but at least they are starting to call him on his BS)
- Calls mounting to boycott North Carolina in face of anti-democratic measures by GOP
- Buoyed by DAPL fight, Canadian tribes vow to oppose a pipeline
- Why is Trump so indebted to Putin? Follow the $$$
- Explore in depth – Trump’s private Russian connections
- Singer quits Mormon Tabernacle Choir rather than sing for Trump’s inauguration; “It would be like endorsing tyranny and fascism”