May Blog 2017 – Beltaine and the Beginning of Summer!

In previous blogs I have mentioned the family of crows and the black squirrel that I fed all winter. Recently they were joined by a small flock of wild turkeys. Initially there were three, a large tom and two hens, now it’s down to just one hen. It may be that the other hen is nesting. It may also be that some hunter killed the tom. There have been a lot of gunshots around the house recently, which makes me very sad.

A hunter told me that wild turkeys don’t taste that good and are a real pain to pluck. So why do hunters take pleasure in killing them for sport? It baffles me.

In celebration of May and the traditional Celtic beginning of summer I offer some activities you can do at this blessed time of year;

Collecting May Dew on a Beltaine morning is an old custom…

Samuel Pepys (1633–1703) wrote several diary entries that mention his wife’s repeated nighttime excursions with either her friends or maid to collect May and June dew.

 

28 May 1667—After dinner, my wife away down with Jane and W. Hewer to Woolwich in order to a little ayre, and to lie there tonight and so gather May dew tomorrow morning, which Mrs. Turner hath taught her as the only thing in the world to wash her face with, and I am contended with it.

 

10 May 1669—Troubled about three in the morning, with my wife’s calling her maid up, and rising herself, to go with her coach abroad to gather May-dew—which she did; and I troubled for it, for fear of any hurt, going abroad so betimes, happening to her. But I to sleep again, and she came home about six and to bed again, all is well.

In his Natural History of Ireland (1652), Dr. Gerard Boate gives instructions on how to best collect and preserve dew:

The English women, and gentlewomen in Ireland, as in England, did use in the beginning of the Summer to gather good store of Dew, to keep it by them all the year after for several good uses both of physick and otherwise, wherein by experience they have learnt it to be very available. Their manner of collecting, and keeping it was this. In the month of May especially, and also in part of the month of June, they would go forth betimes in the morning, and before Sun-rising, into a green field, and there either with their hands strike off the Dew from the tops of the herbs into a dish, or else throwing clean linnen cloaths upon the ground, take off the Dew from the herbs into them, and afterwards wring it out into dishes; and thus they continue their work untill they have got a sufficient quantity of Dew according to their intentions. That which is gotten from the grass will serve, but they chuse rather to have it from the green corn, especially Wheat, if they can have the conveniency to do so, as being perswaded that this Dew hath more vertues, and is better for all purposes than that which hath been collected from the grass or other herbs. The Dew thus gathered they put into a glass bottle, and so set it in a place where it may have the warm Sun-shine all day long, keeping it there all the Summer; after some days rest some dregs and dirt will settle to the bottom; the which when they perceive, they pour off all the clear Dew into another vessel, and fling away those settings. This they doe often, because the Dew doth not purge it self perfectly in a few dayes, but by degrees, so as new dregs (severed from the purer parts by the working of the Dew, helped on by the Sun-Beams) do settle again; of the which as often as those good women see any notable quantity, they still powre off the clear Dew from them: doing thus all Summer long, untill it be clear to the bottom.

 

The dew thus thoroughly purified looketh whitish, and keepeth good for a year or two after.

Violet, Rose or Dandelion Jelly

Fill a glass jar with either Dandelion flowers (Taraxacum officinale) (remove the stems and green sepals from the Dandelion flowers or they will be bitter) or fragrant old fashioned Tea style rose petals (Rosa spp.) (Please do not use the genetically engineered scentless varieties), or Blue Violets (Viola odorata). Pour enough boiling hot water over the flowers until the jar is filled. Allow the jar to sit overnight.

 

Strain out the flowers and reserve the liquid. For every two cups of liquid add the juice of one lemon and a package of powdered pectin*. Place the liquid in a non-aluminum pot and bring to a boil. Add a tiny piece of butter (to prevent froth) and four cups of organic cane sugar and bring to a boil again. Boil hard for one minute; pour into clean jars and seal.

 

*Some people feel that the liquid pectin works better these days.

Violet Flower Syrup

The flowers of Viola odorata and Viola canina are made into a syrup that is laxative and lowers a fever. It is also taken for epilepsy, insomnia, jaundice, sore throat and headache. To make the syrup;

 

Pour freshly boiled water over an equal volume of flowers

 

Steep 10 hours and then strain out the flowers

 

Reheat the liquid adding an equal portion of fresh flowers

 

Let stand for 10 hours

 

Do this several more times then bring to a simmer, cool slightly, and add honey until a syrup consistency is reached.

Excerpts from  SECRET MEDICINES FROM YOUR GARDEN (order via this website or find it in the usual places!)

May Day is also a traditional time for political marches and protests. Here are a few useful links;

BOOK NEWS

“An excellent book, detailing the story of a healer thrust into the political games played between the Druids and the Christian priests with the throne of the kingdom as its playing surface. Hopman writes an excellent tale that weaves around the intricacies and beauty of what the life of a Druid may have been like during the initial “invasion” of the Christian beliefs into the islands of Britain. The detail placed into the various ritualized aspects of the cycles of Life is a superb basis upon which the entire tale is painted. Character development is extremely strong, and the pacing of the story is quite good through most of the book. The final two chapters of the book are absolutely staggering in the depth of insight through the characters’ eyes”

The next two books in this trilogy are “The Druid Isle” and “Priestess of the Fire Temple – A Druid’s Tale”, available on Amazon or get  signed copies of all three books from me via this website!

Below you will find the usual collection of archeology, climate, nature, herb, health, religion, Celtic, Druid, and ethics news. Enjoy!

*Reminder – you can order books from this site and get a copy signed by the author and a personal note!*

ARCHAEOLOGY NEWS

HERB NEWS

HEALTH NEWS

CLIMATE AND NATURE NEWS

RELIGION NEWS

CELTIC NEWS

POLITICS AND ETHICS

 

A Druid’s Web Log – Lughnasad/Lammas is upon us as heat grips the nation

It’s been a rough month. I nearly cried watching Bernie Sander’s capitulate to Hillary Clinton. So many of us Democrats feel betrayed – we wanted a new FDR and instead were manipulated into backing yet another bank and corporate bought leader. As a woman I feel no elation in the choice I was handed.

At least Debbie Wasserman Schultz was finally fired. Thousands of us signed petitions to oust her months ago, due to the abysmal way she scheduled debates. She understood that Clinton had vast name recognition and Bernie had none so she made sure he would get as little exposure as possible. The few debates that were held were at unlikely and inconvenient times. Thanks to WikiLeaks we now know that she also tried to smear him as an “Atheist” when he has never claimed that title.

To make things even more depressing the garden is frying in drought-like hot sun, way up here in New England. We are in the midst of a seven day heat wave, thanks to the climate change brought on by the very corporate interests that Bernie tried to challenge and that Hillary apparently backs. I have been out in the garden daily, hauling jugs of water to the plants, just to keep them alive.

It appears that the Revolution will take a bit more time…

We are now in the time of Lughnasad (Gaelic) or Lammas (Anglo-Saxon, from “Loaf Mass”), the festival of first fruits. It is important to make offerings to the Land Spirits at this time, to ensure a safe and fruitful harvest. Here are my suggestions;

Lughnasad, Lammas, Lunasa, Lá Lúnasa, Calen Awst

(End of July to second week of August)

  • Make offerings to a sacred fire; dry herbs, whiskey, butter, ghee
  • Pour milk offerings on stones
  • Climb a high mountain and leave offerings of quartz, flowers, fruits and grain
  • Offer butter to lakes
  • Flowers, fruits and coins to water
  • Float a wreath down a river
  • Float a small wooden boat with candles and flowers down a river
  • Decorate standing stones with wreaths or garlands of wheat
  • Offer a loaf of the new grain
  • Make offerings of the first harvest; vegetables, basil, herbs
  • Pour stout, honey, cider or milk in the fields and on the stones
  • Make grain dollies, feast of breads, cheese, baked goods, and leave a dish for the land spirits
  • Make offerings to water of fruits and flowers
  • Leave blessings for the trees.

May your harvests be fruitful!

BOOK NEWS

*Reminder – you can purchase my books from all the usual places or order a signed copy from this website! With a personal note!*

  • Secret Medicines from Your Garden: Plants for Healing, Spirituality and Magic
    SecretMedicinesofGardenWritten by Laura PerryI’ve been practicing herbalism for more than 20 years and I’m pretty picky about herbalism books. For me, this one stands out in a very positive way. It’s both deeper and wider than the usual encyclopaedia-style herbal. Hopman leads the reader through the process of getting to know the herbs personally, almost intimately, and includes information I haven’t seen elsewhere. Sometimes when I’m reading a book for review it feels like work, even if it’s a good book, but this one was just a delight the whole way through. It’s crammed full of information and I could really feel the author’s love for the Green People coming through on every page. This book feels less like an instruction manual and more like someone introducing me to all her friends.The book is divided into four parts. Part One: A Wild crafting Primer takes the reader through wild crafting by season rather than via the usual alphabetical listing. I’m really pleased with this. A seasonal arrangement is the smartest way to organize herbs that will be foraged or picked in the yard and garden. This section includes not just seasonal plant information but also some great information about the Doctrine of Signatures, which is a way to help understand an herb’s uses based on its physical characteristics.Part Two: Exploring Invisible Dimensions of the Plant World explores some of the more spiritual aspects of herbalism. Hopman provides a separate chapter for Dracaena and Mullein, two plants that are obviously special to her. Dracaena is the endangered tree whose resin is the ever-popular Dragon’s Blood. One very nifty bit from this section is the author’s instructions for how to make a working torch from the bloom stalk of the mullein plant. I’ve always called the bloom stalks ‘mullein torches’ but now I know how to make a mullein torch that will actually burn and provide light!Part Two also includes chapters on animal spirit medicines, herbal astrology and how to work with the plant spirits. Hopman’s animal spirit practices are based on Native American concepts, largely from the region in the north eastern U.S. where she lives. This is a fascinating set of information that groups plants with particular animals spirits (bear, elk, badger, and so on) based on the plants’ overall energy and purpose. This provides a deeper meaning for these herbs, a different point of view about the medicine they can offer us. Just a note: Many of the plants in this section are native to North America and can’t be found elsewhere. But most of the herbs in the rest of the book are common throughout the northern temperate zone.The chapter on herbal astrology and plant alchemy associates plants with the planets and zodiac signs, which is a really interesting practice that goes back centuries. I especially enjoyed the chapter on plant spirits. I think it’s important to have a relationship with the plants and not just use them as if they were bottles of pills on a shelf. Hopman offers some lovely ways to show your appreciation to the plant spirits, including singing and offering them prayers and blessings.Part Three: Enjoying Nature’s Bounty once again serves up plenty of useful information, including some things you won’t find in most herbals. There’s a whole chapter on Bee Medicine, which is so important now that the bees are in danger from human practices such as certain pesticides. This chapter includes the history of magical and practical uses of bees, honey and beeswax as well as all kinds of interesting bee lore and both medicinal and culinary recipes.Part Three also includes a chapter on kitchen medicine: helpful uses for the herbs and spices you can find at your local supermarket. This part also includes some subjects I’ve rarely seen in herbals: instructions for how to plant and grow a hedgerow as well as all sorts of information about both deciduous and coniferous trees. I was fascinated by the chapters about the trees, especially all the recipes for food, medicine, and incense from the leaves, bark, resin, and other ‘tree parts.’The final section is Part Four: Formula Making, and just this section alone is worth the price of the book. In addition to all the usual instructions for how to make herbal teas, tinctures, poultice, and so on, Hopman includes a large compendium of information based on her teacher William LeSassier’s method of constitutional prescribing. This technique arranges herbs by hot/cold/wet/dry characteristics and applies them based on this system to many common health conditions. Many years ago, I learned the hot/cold/wet/dry correspondences (which go back at least as far as the Middle Ages) when using herbs for magical purposes, but I’ve never seen the system organized so thoroughly and with such detail for medicinal and health uses.

    The book finishes with several helpful appendices. There’s an excellent section on herbal contraindications, which is very important because so many people seem to think that natural automatically means safe. The Sources and Resources section is extensive and is organized by chapter. The book finishes with three indexes: plants by common name, plants by scientific name and a list of common health concerns.

    The whole tone of Secret Medicines is friendly and informative, obviously written by someone who cares deeply about the plants and about making sure the knowledge of how to use and respect them is not lost. This one is already one of my favourite herbal references, and I’m sure it will continue to maintain a place of honour on my shelves.

    ~review by Laura Perry

    Author: Ellen Evert Hopman
    Healing Arts Press, 2016
    pp. 337, $19.95

  • A new review of A LEGACY OF DRUIDS
    Legacy of Druids

    Legacy of Druids

    Thank you, Ms. Hopman, for writing this book! I enjoyed the ethnographic interview style as it allowed me to easily imagine myself as the fly on the wall. The interviews captured the heartfelt thoughts and aspirations of genuinely interesting people who, I think, would not be afraid of being considered outliers. Some were wonderfully eccentric and yet all were intellectually challenging, thoughtful and imaginative. The all shared the will and curiosity not just to question and to explore ideas, but also to manifest them. Their propensity to stick a finger in the eye of modernity was refreshing. The format of the book makes it an easy read in so far as the writing style was neither dense nor academic. The ideas expressed by the Druid Leaders were thoughtful, non-dogmatic and I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that they obviously disagreed amongst themselves, too. Each interview stands alone from the others. As such, one could read each interview independently to gain unique insights. Taken together, the interviews weave a compelling tapestry of memory, courage, curiosity and intent from wonderfully curious minds. This is not stale history; this is living history.

    Cuardaitheoir Eire

  • And another…A Legacy of Druids by Ellen Evert Hopman is a capsule held in time, with interviews by Druids from all over the world that were taken twenty years ago. It is interesting to hear their stories, especially from those people I know now, and whose perceptions have changed with the passage of time.It’s not a book on how to be a Druid, but rather a conversation with an entire room full of them. You get to “work the room” so to speak in this volume, finding so many different personalities, histories and visions for the future. The foreward by Philip Carr-Gomm was perhaps the most interesting for me, and which coincided with my perception of Druidry as it is today. That this should be so is obvious; as a nature-based tradition, Druidry is always evolving, and here was have the proof that this is so.Dynamics, schisms, traits, perspectives of different Druid traditions, with a lot of American vs British is reflected in the interviewees’ words. That these perceptions and their individual predictions for the future have changed over the last twenty years is, I think, a very good thing. With the popularity of the internet, dialogue has opened across vast oceans, with views being shared, references, academia, experiential gnosis and more. The divide between the two has lessened greatly, to the benefit of all.Of course, I did not agree or resonate with the words of every Druid (or Druid friendly person) interviewed. Like being at a party, there are some people you want to hang out with and others that you don’t. But all of it is informative, in its raw, unedited state. You get real flavour of who that person was at that time, and what Druidry meant to them at that particular point in time.A very interesting, and original work. I would love to see a modern version of this done, with as many of the same people in the original work, as well as new voices!Joanna VanderHoeven(I fully agree that someone else should spend thousands of dollars and travel around the USA and UK to gather more contemporary Druid voices. To anyone who takes up the task, best of luck to you!)

UPCOMING CLASSES

  • Register for The Herbal and Spiritual Properties of Trees on September 3rd
    Limited to 10 participants!
    Class minimum* – 4
    Taught by Ellen Evert Hopman, Herbalist and Author.
    Ellen will be discussing the herbal and folklore traditions surrounding common North American trees and harvesting and preparation methods.
    After class, she will have some of her books on hand for signing. Her books and salves are also available for purchase in the shop.
    COST – Sliding scale $10 to $15
    (Registration fee of $5 included in total cost)
    DATES – Saturday, September 3rd
    TIMES – 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
    LOCATION – The Bower Studio: 378 Daniel Shays Hwy, Pelham, MA 01002
    * If the class minimum is not met, all registration fees will be refunded and you will be notified.
    You may also pre-register by visiting the shop during business hours.
    ** Payment for classes will be due in full (minus pre-registration cost) at the start of class. Class fees must be cash or check, made out to the class instructor. Cancellations must contact us 48 hours prior to class so we can offer canceled spaces to others. Pre-registration fees are non-refundable. Read our FAQ for more info.**
  • The Western Massachusetts School of Herbal Studies
    Intro to Herbalism and Self Care
    With Ellen Evert Hopman M.Ed. ~ Registered Herbalist AHG
    author of “Secret Medicines From Your Garden”, “Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore“, “A Druid’s Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year”,”A Druids Herbal – Of Sacred Tree Medicine“, “Secret Medicines of Your Kitchen” and other books and DVDs
    October 15, 2016 – April, 2017
    Two Saturdays a month, 1-5 PM near Amherst, MA
    Call for information: (413) 323 4494
    http://www.elleneverthopman.com (order books from this site and get a signed copy and a personal note from the author!)
    DETAILS: 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, an herb walk outdoors and hands on herbal techniques such as poultices, tinctures, salves. Over 550 pages of handouts are included with the course. A certificate of completion is offered at the end.
    Cost: $1,000.00 (plus a $100.00 non-refundable Xeroxing fee)“My class at the Western Mass School of Herbal Medicine was a wonderful experience. Anyone interested in the history of the uses of herbs and their medicinal uses will appreciate this course. The instructor, Ellen Evert Hopman, is amazing. Her passion for herbalism is portrayed through her knowledge of many years in the field and appreciation of Mother Earth. I thank her for sharing her skills and passing on a true tradition of our natural habitats. And I cannot forget to mention you would be working with an author as well. Just a little added extra!”~ Lealani Maxwell-Mason, B. S. Business/ Psychology”The information she shared with me has helped me in many aspects of my life! I learned the skills to identify, and properly utilize, many herbs as; essences, teas, salves, poultices and tinctures. I found her program to be quite thorough!” ~A. Potter“Studying herbalism with Ellen Hopman provided an opportunity to connect in an intimate learning circle with one of the most learned, experienced and wise woman herbalists of the Pioneer Valley and beyond. I left this course with a strong foundation in herbal practice both in the realm of materia medica and in applying knowledge to clinical situations. The experience in practice and depth of wisdom offered by this teacher is profound and unique. I highly recommend her course.” ~ A. PyecroftMA NURSES CAN GET CEUS BY TAKING THIS COURSE*Reminder – you can purchase my books from all the usual places or order a signed copy from this website! With a personal note!*
  • An old filmed interview done at Pantheacon
    My website is wrong; it should be http://www.elleneverthopman.com and I have had a few more books since this was done!

*Below you will find the past Moonth’s archeology, herbal, religion, Fairy, nature, politics and ethics news. Enjoy!*

ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

ANTHROPOLOGY

HERB NEWS

HEALTH NEWS

NATURE NEWS

RELIGION NEWS

FAIRY NEWS

DRUID NEWS

POLITICS AND ETHICS

 

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