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

 

Imbolc blog – A warm January in New England as Brighid walks the land

This Moonth has been rather warm here on the mountain. We started January with a brief spate of snow and cold but soon settled into a pattern of weather that is at least ten degrees warmer than “average” every day. Instead of the expected New England snow we are getting rain. I have started imagining a summer with temperatures that are ten degrees above normal and it is unnerving.

There have been no animals around, no coyotes barking their husky calls at dusk, no deer, bears or moose in the yard. No wild turkeys at the feeders or possums at the compost pile. I am thinking it’s because a local lumber company has been cutting for months, just down the road. My hope is that once they are done and the undergrowth comes back, it will provide food, shelter and an increase in wildlife. The only animals that still seem to be in abundance are the beavers. The pond down the road is expertly blocked up by a mound of silt and chewed branches and is over spilling its banks. States with water issues would do well to think of beavers, they create wetlands wherever they go.

As a good American citizen I have been dutifully trying to keep up with the presidential debates. Last night I tried once again to watch the Republicans. While the Democrats are enthusiastically putting forward new ideas and solutions to improve ordinary citizen’s lives, the Republicans seem fearful. “Americans are terrified” said one of them, going on to declare that ISIL is about to get us and therefore we should be contemplating another invasion of the Middle East. Oddly these are the same people who want everyone to walk around with a gun, despite the fact that thirty three thousand Americans kill themselves and each other every year with guns and the evidence shows that having a gun in the home makes it far more likely that someone in that home will die by accident, homicide or suicide. We sure live in a topsy turvy world.

Besides, how do you wage endless wars and also cut taxes? The sainted Ronald Reagan was mentioned in last night’s debate. But there was not a word about how he grew the military and TRIPLED the national debt. “Voodoo economics” was what we called it at the time.

I was unable to listen to the Republican’s for more than a few minutes. I opted instead to watch the new season of the X-Files on Fox. I can see why Fox wanted that show. If you analyze the plot, besides the usual (and well done) search for extra-terrestrials, the new series is fixated on the idea that the BIG EVIL GOVERNMENT is behind all of the planet’s woes. A perfect propaganda platform for Fox. Watch with a discerning eye and see what I mean.

As I type this it is still January. February 1-2 marks the time of Imbolc, the all-important Fire Festival of the Goddess Brighid, who has been my Patroness for thirty years. On the eve of Imbolc I will put out my clooties (strips of cloth to be used for healing work), a bowl of milk and honey and a dish of oatmeal and butter for Brighid as She passes. I will place a candle in the snow (if we have any!) to burn all night, and make a new “Bride doll” out of straw. Below are some facts about this important Celtic festival, followed by the usual book news and a roundup of the past Moonth’s archeology, religion, herb, nature, political and ethics news. Enjoy!

IMBOLC CUSTOMS

  • Make a Brighid’s cross with your kids
    More…
  • How to lay out a Brighid’s “brat” or cloak
    “A ribbon or piece of cloth exposed on St. Briget’s Eve became endowed with curative powers. It was believed that no work which involved the turning of a wheel should take place on the saint’s day. The placing of a periwinkle in each corner of the kitchen likewise hints at a remote pre-agricultural origin for the festival, but it came to be associated with the pastoral promise of spring, of warmth, new grass, lambs and milk. It is said that the saint placed her foot in water on her feast day so that on that day it begins to warm up each year.”
  • Biddy Boys
  • How to make Bairin-Breac / Barmbrack, a traditional Imbolc bread
  • Song for Brighid (video)
  • Gabhaim Molta Bríghde – Ein traditionelles Lied zu Ehren Brigids. / A traditional song honoring Brigid.Original text Irisch-Gälisch:Gabhaim molta Bríde…
    Ionmhain í le hÉirinn
    Ionmhain le gach tír í
    Molaimis go léir íLóchrann geal na Laighneach
    A’ soilsiú feadh na tíre
    Cean ar óghaibh Éireann
    Ceann na mban ar míneTig an geimhreadh dian dubh
    A’ gearradh lena ghéire
    Ach ar Lá ‘le Bríde
    Gar dúinn earrach Éireann
    English translation:I am praising Bridget
    Who is daughter of Ireland
    She is a daughter of all countries
    We all praise herThe bright light of Leinster
    Bringing light to the country
    The leader of the youth of Ireland
    Our leader of gentlewomenHere comes the dark, hard winter
    Cutting with its sharpness
    But on St. Bridget’s Day
    Ireland’s spring is close by
    Deutsche Version:Ich preise dich, Brigid
    geliebt in ganz Irland
    geliebt von allen
    preisen wir dich.Flamme von Leinster
    erfülle das Land mit Licht
    Jede Frau Irlands liebt dich
    jede gute FrauDer Winter kommt dunkel und kalt
    schneidend und frostig daher
    Aber am Tag Brigids
    Kommt der Frühling zu uns.
  • Virtual Shrine of Brighid  (stop by and leave a prayer)

BOOK NEWS

The book has its own Facebook page and can be pre-ordered now on Amazon.com US or Amazon.com UK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The second book is SECRET MEDICINES FROM YOUR GARDEN which is also available for pre-order!SecretMedicinesofGarden
    Secret Medicines from Your Garden
    Plants for Healing, Spirituality, and Magic
    Ellen Evert Hopman
    Coming Spring 2016A guided exploration of herbal lore and healing plants found in yards, forests, meadows, and hedgerows
    • Draws on traditional knowledge and remedies from around the world, including Native American, Celtic, and Egyptian traditions
    • Provides simple recipes to safely make herbal remedies from local plants and honey for first aid, immune support, and treatment of common ailments
    • Reveals the “triangle” formula-making system of William LeSassier
    • Explains how to work with plant spirits, herbal astrology, and Animal Spirit Medicine

    Weaving together ancient wisdom, mystical folklore, and modern plant research, master herbalist Ellen Evert Hopman explores the many uses of flowers, trees, common weeds, and ornamental plants for food, medicine, spiritual growth, and magical rituals. She reveals the herbal lore surrounding each plant, drawing on traditional knowledge and remedies from around the world, including Native American, Celtic, and Egyptian traditions. She includes recipes throughout so you can make medicines from wild and domesticated plants easily found in yards, forests, meadows, and hedgerows, and she discusses what to plant to ensure you have leaves, berries, and flowers all year.The author reveals how to quickly intuit an unknown plant’s properties using the signatures of plants—universal indications and contraindications based on the form, color, and location of a plant. She includes an in-depth section on honey and Bee Medicine, allowing you to appreciate the labors of these plant-dependent insects. Exploring the magical role of herbs in ancient ritual, Hopman provides recipes for Egyptian temple incense and their sacred medicine known as “Kyphi” or “Kaphet,” used to purify the body, banish insomnia, and promote vivid dreaming. She explores shamanic Plant Spirit and Animal Spirit Medicine as well as herbal astrology. She also explains the “triangle” formula-making system of her herbal mentor William LeSassier to help you develop custom herbal remedies tailored to a person’s unique strengths and weaknesses.Showing how to easily incorporate wild plants into your life to receive their healing benefits throughout the seasons, Hopman reveals the power of the bounty that Mother Nature has provided right at our doorstep.Ellen Evert Hopman has been a teacher of herbalism since 1983 and is a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild. A Druidic initiate since 1984, she is a founding member of The Order of the White Oak, an Arch Druidess of the Druid Clan of Dana, and a member of the Grey Council of Mages and Sages. The author of several books, including A Druid’s Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year, she lives in Massachusetts.

    Healing Arts Press

    ISBN 978-1-62055-557-6

    Spring 2016

Below you will find the usual last Moonth’s gleanings from the media.

*Reminder* you can always purchase signed books from this website and get a *personal note* from the author! (me)

ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

HERB NEWS

NATURE NEWS

HEALTH NEWS

RELIGION NEWS

NEWS YOU CAN USE

POLITICS AND ETHICS