January 2017 The winds of change blow in

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.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

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.”

David Hume

“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”

Winston Churchill

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.”

Titus Livius

History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again.”

Kurt Vonnegut

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.

Ten good things that happened in US politics this year

An exercise to create a better New Year, from ArchDruid Philip Carr Gomm

BOOK NEWS

  • 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.

    Hopman’s Secret Medicines from Your Garden takes the secrecy out of herbal medicine, and makes it accessible and straightforward for readers of all gardening prowess and healing needs.

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!*

ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

HERB NEWS

HEALTH NEWS

CLIMATE AND NATURE NEWS

RELIGION NEWS

CELTIC NEWS

FOLKLORE AND MAGIC

POLITICS AND ETHICS