September blog 2014 Druids Working for Peace as the Summer Light Wanes

OUR GRIEF IS NOT A CRY FOR WAR

I wrote this in 2002 but it is still relevant for today.

As the light of summer wanes the tides of war are licking at our feet; bombing raids are in full force again in the Middle East. Here in the US the effects of war have been felt in an ever more militarized police force. With the recent beheading of an American by the dreaded ISIL, it feels like we are in a new “Hundred Year’s War”. Will it end in my lifetime?

Meanwhile, the memory of September 11 looms, the event that set so much destruction in motion. Here is an editorial I wrote in 2002 that bears re-posting;

Remembering September 11, 2001
by Ellen Evert Hopman

OUR GRIEF IS NOT A CRY FOR WAR

Most religions agree on one basic principle; that creation comes from one eternal SOURCE. Some call it Goddess, some call it God and some call it The Mother of Ten Thousand Things. Whatever its ultimate nature, we are all a part of it. When dealing with a tragedy like September 11 we are faced with an aspect of ourselves that we may have a hard time looking upon and living with. Yet it, too, is a part of sacred creation.

Over the next week the media and the government will be doing their utmost to revive the feelings of shock and despair that we first experienced a year ago. Whether it is being done to increase ratings, to sell papers, or to build the propaganda effort for a war against Iraq, we will find ourselves awash in sentiments that were first born on that terrible day a year ago.

As human beings we have a choice in how we handle the emotions that will arise in us and in our fellows. In the words of Gregg Braden (author of Walking Between the Worlds);

“What if one person chooses to see beyond hate for those who oppress, while still living among those who oppress? This does not mean that they condone, agree with, or would ever choose to have oppression in their lives. It simply means that one person has chosen to become more than the circumstances they find themselves immersed within, breaking the cycle of response that has been, becoming the higher choice”.

As we experience the renewed drum beats for war and remembrance, we would do well to remember that every actor in the drama; perpetrator, victim, and witness, is an aspect of the sacred, a part of the divine whole. As Gregg has described in his book, we should use this anniversary of grief to witness our own responses and as a tool for growth.

The most primitive response to the memory of 9/11 is to react with rage, demanding vengeance. For many this will be the most immediate and lasting response.

Another understandable, but no less primitive, response will be denial. There are those who refuse to watch television, or read newspapers, or listen to the news, preferring to “stay happy” and focus “only on the positive”, in a kind of New Age never never land. Growth cannot occur in this walled off state, nor will this numbness spur us to take the necessary compassionate action.

Pain and suffering are evident all around us, as they have been continually in the last year. The bombing of civilians in Afghanistan, the deaths of children in Iraq, brought on by sanction driven deprivation, the tit for tat violence in Palestine and Israel, are all aspects of our common crisis.

It is only by facing these events directly, and by allowing the full horror to penetrate, that we can finally respond with compassion and begin the steps to change our present circumstances.

“I am in all beings. All beings are in me. This is the whole truth.”
-Ashtavakra Gita 6:3-4

All beings are aspects of one creative SOURCE, constantly evolving and seeking to know itself. As we gaze, clear eyed, at the suffering around us, let us bless the actions of those who have taken life, for seeking to know themselves in the taking of life. Let us bless the victims who have given their lives, for seeking to know themselves in the giving of life. And let us bless the witnesses who seek to know themselves in the witnessing.

In the words of the Midewewin (open heart) teachings of the (Native American) Anishnabe;

“All life is sacred and every act is a ritual”

Let us conduct ourselves well this week of the anniversary of 9/11 by wishing health and happiness on all beings, of every race, religion and color, in every corner of our small planet. And let us gaze upon sorrow with compassion and without a furthering of violence.

copyright Ellen Evert Hopman

Permission is granted to forward this as long as nothing is removed or altered including this permission statement.

DRUIDS WORKING FOR PEACE

Given all the mayhem happening in the world at this time, Druids around the world will be performing a peace ritual each month on the night of the Full Moon. If anyone feels inclined to join in, please do (the next one is September 9, 2014).

It is claimed in the classical writings that the Druids held the power to stop armies engaging in combat and that may have been because one of their priorities was peace. Today’s Druids wield nether the power or influence of the classical Druids but our priorities remain the same. The achievement of peace is a central aim within today’s Druidic communities. It is with this in mind that The Druid Network has, at this time, now engaged in spiritual work to help bring about peace, not just on the local scale like the classical Druids, but on a worldwide scale enabled by the technology of today.

We therefore invite anyone and everyone to engage with us in our aims, through the use of our International Full Moon Peace Intention Ritual.  This ritual, which will be held on the full moon of each month, is suitable for use on its own or in conjunction with any other type of ritual. It can be done on an individual basis or through a community based ritual.

Travel is unnecessary, just putting aside a place and time is all that is required. Ideally, the aim is for people to engage with the ritual at the time of the full moon. However, life does not normally allow for such specific timing, therefore we would request that you aim to do the ritual within the 12 hour period either prior to or just after the full moon if you cannot do the ritual at the specific timing of the full moon.

We have worded this ritual to have no specific political or religious favor, it is a ritual for peace without taking sides.

The Ritual

First we would suggest that everyone starts with the calls for peace in each direction.

“May there be peace in the east,
may there be peace in the south,
may there be peace in the west,
may there be peace in the north,
may there be peace in the whole world.”

After that we suggest each individual or group proceed with whatever ritual opening they usually use and when that is complete use the following:

We honor the fallen,
Those who chose to fight,
And those who had no choice,
Those whose fate it was to die in conflict.
We honor and remember them.

(pause to honor and remember those known and unknown who have died in conflict.)

We stand in the web of life, each of us connected to each other.
Our thoughts and deeds ripple outwards across that web.

(pause to reach out and feel our connections to each other and the web of life)

Today we stand for peace, today we act for peace.
Let each of us be a channel for peace.
Peace in our hearts.
Peace in our lives.
Peace in the world.

(pause and focus on being a channel for peace and radiating that peace out across the world)

After that we suggest closing your ritual in whatever is your normal fashion.

(Meanwhile, if anyone is interested in the serious study of Druidism there is a local Grove near Amherst… Tribe of the Oak)

One of my Grove members reported this about the last Full Moon peace ritual;

” I got the words, got a candle and instinctively went outside to perform the rite. As back story, I and my brother his wife and children are all living with my folks in one dwelling. It is wonderful, it is chaotic, it is… family! My brother, whom I have had words with and felt regret for them all day was out. He is a veteran and served in the US Air force. My intuition leading the way I told him in brief about the ritual, he knows I am a Druid and is mildly curious himself on the lore and studies. I asked him to light the candle for those who have fallen by him, with him and around him. We spoke of peace and of the reasons for it. He had a proverb to speak and we were at peace. Amazing.

Then my dad came and he, a veteran as well was asked by me to remember to fallen and to connect with the web of life.

We went to Chatham Light and gazed at the moon, talked, laughed and were again at peace.

Such is the way of powerful rituals in small packages.

Peace in my heart.
Peace in my life, my family.
Peace in the world.”

This was my own little ritual, here in Western MA;

“I myself had a beautiful little solitary rite by a lake down the road. It was just me and the still lake, beavers and pines as a giant orange Full Moon rose. I sent peace to the directions and then visualized the whole Earth covered with the cloak of Brighid. I visualized all the trouble spots I could think of; Palestine, Israel, Syria, Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. and gathered the peace of the scene before me and sent it to the hearts of all who are suffering.”

In honor of my grandfather, Lt. Paul Evert, aviator WWI

THINKING OF BEES

On the nature front I have been thinking a lot about bees. Their plight world-wide due to poisoning by nicotine-based pesticides has gotten me to look at the world through bee eyes. Take a look around your garden and lawn and see if there are blooming flowers or blooming trees. If your lawn is neatly trimmed and sprayed with weed killer and your bushes and trees are neatly cropped, chances are you live in a wasteland, as far as the bees are concerned.

In ancient Scottish tradition there was always a “Goodman’s croft” in the garden or field. This was a corner left wild for the exclusive use of the fairies (read more about this in my book SCOTTISH HERBS AND FAIRY LORE). The wildflowers there would have also been very attractive to bees, butterflies and other winged creatures. I have decided to make a bee garden just for the bees, behind my patch of comfrey, roses and angelica. I am sowing milkweed, yarrow, and queen Anne’s Lace, all flowers with compact clusters of blooms, just for the bees (I am sure the Fae will appreciate the plot too).

UPCOMING ELECTIONS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Turning to politics, there is a primary coming up in a few days, here in MA. I have been paying close attention and have finally settled on a candidate to support for governor. Here’s why I am supporting BERWICK for governor of MA;

“After careful consideration and review of the currently available data, I oppose the construction of the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline. We should not commit to new natural gas infrastructure until we know for certain that it is necessary to meet our energy needs. To date, I am not convinced that that case has been made.

“I aim to set Massachusetts on the path towards becoming the first carbon neutral state. To achieve this ambitious goal, we must double down on aggressive efforts for additional conservation and efficiency, solar, off-shore wind, and hydro-electric power to replace existing fossil fuel sources.

“While we need a ‘bridge’ fuel in the *short* term until we can power our grid and mobile sources with a minimum of fossil fuels, I am very concerned about the legitimate dangers of making any more long-term investments in natural gas infrastructure. New pipelines, including the Kinder Morgan pipeline, create infrastructure that locks us into the use of fossil fuels for far longer than necessary.

“Instead, we should focus on plugging dangerous leaks from the existing natural gas infrastructure, which waste energy and release greenhouse gases even more harmful than carbon dioxide. Let’s also support innovative technologies that help smooth demand during peak times. And let’s understand the important role that faster and better development of Massachusetts’ off-shore wind power resource can play in breaking the stranglehold of fossil fuels.

“We need a comprehensive statewide energy plan that moves us towards a safe, reliable, and cost-effective future with a minimum of greenhouse gas emissions, and I will see to it that we have one. Until we do, it is a mistake to make long-term investments in new fossil fuel infrastructure.”

Dave Marsh
Policy Director
Don Berwick for Governor

Below you will find the usual collection of archeology, nature, religion and ethics news. * You can order books from this website and receive a signed copy with a personal note*

SOME UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Save The Date Saturday 9/13/14 1-3 PM @ All Things Local in Amherst, MA
    $15 or $30 w/ the $20 book included
    THE SECRET MEDICINES OF YOUR KITCHEN
    Join local herbalist and author Ellen Evert Hopman in a discussion of home remedies that you can make from the foods and spices already in your kitchen. Get ready for winter with a recipe for Fire Cider (and have a taste!), learn which herbs can be used to make herbal salves, learn new uses for the spices on your kitchen shelf, and many other topics. Ellen teaches a six month herbal intensive near Amherst every year, October to April. Visit her online here.
    Ellen will have copies of her books on hand for sale and signing.
    For more information call 413- 253-2667
  • Western MA Pagan Pride Day
    Florence, MA
    September 27, 11 AM to 6 PM
    Ellen will speak on Scottish Fairy Lore and have herbal salves, tinctures and books for sale and signing
  • Tree Medicine Tree Magic: October 4th & 5th at the Philo School of Herbal Energetics – California
    A Weekend Workshop With Druid Ellen Evert Hopman
    On Saturday morning we learn about the Irish “Tree alphabet” and then go outside to perform a traditional Druid tree meditation and learn to listen to the trees. Saturday afternoon we learn more about the “Tree Alphabet” and then gather tree medicines such as leaves, pine needles, flowers, barks, etc. Sunday we prepare medicines from the ingredients we have gathered. Each student can leave with a hand-made set of Ogham divination cards, based on the ancient Irish Ogham “Tree Alphabet”. Please bring a notebook and pen, and wear comfortable shoes and outdoor clothes as you will be outside part of the weekend. Ellen will also have books with her to sell and sign.
    The Philo School of Herbal Energetics website has information on directions & lodging. $150 for the weekend; register here.
    Lodging: We do not offer lodging. Please go to the Anderson Valley Chamber of Commerce page for available lodging.
  • Herbal Healing Intensive
    October 18, 2014 – April, 2015
    Two Saturdays a month, 1-5 PM near Amherst, MA
    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, and hands on herbal techniques such as poultices, tinctures, salves etc. An herb walk outdoors, slide shows of plants and hands on preparations are included.
    Over 400 pages of handouts are included with the course. A certificate of completion is offered at the end.
  • Changing Times Changing Worlds
    Nov. 7-9, Crowne Plaza in Cromwell, Connecticut
    Ellen will teach a three part Druid Intensive
    Including the Druidic wheel of the Year, the Ogham alphabet
    And meditating with trees.

ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

CELTIC NEWS

HERBAL NEWS

HEALTH NEWS

NATURE NEWS

RELIGION NEWS

FAIRY NEWS

POLITICS AND ETHICS

Wishing peace upon the world, in our homes and lives.

February 2013 blog

Last month I reported that a tiny Saw Whet owl had struck my car. I associated the death of the bird with the then recent gun murders of children in Connecticut, and tried not to see it as a personal omen of impending death. But sadly I was wrong. Within a few weeks my thirteen year old, tortoise shell Soul Cat started going downhill. I took her to the vet and he diagnosed Lymphoma. She had to be put down right there in the office.

The vet was very sensitive to my loss. He wrapped her in a pink towel and placed her in a tiny white cardboard coffin. I brought her back home and buried her in the garden, under the Hawthorn trees that bloom with white blossoms in the Spring and are covered in red berries in the Fall. It is a spot that has become a cat cemetery, two other cats of mine are buried nearby, with natural rocks to mark their graves.

I should have known about the warnings from Owls. A few years ago I had a similar Owl experience as I was washing dishes one evening. It was summer and the kitchen door was open, with only a screen between myself and the three miles of woods behind the house. An Owl started to hoot, right outside the door. I had never heard an Owl that close to the house and I thought it must be on the roof, calling for its mate or its children. The hooting persisted. I thought to myself “Wow, that is a very loud Owl” and I kept washing the dishes. Finally the hooting got even louder and more persistent. It went on for several minutes. Finally I said to the Owl: “OK, I get that this is a message, thank you!” and I knew that someone close to me was about to die.

The next morning I turned on my computer and found out that Celtic scholar and linguist Alexei Kondratiev had passed to the Otherworld the previous day. Alexei was a very important person to me, he collaborated on every one of my books, providing Old Irish and Scottish terms for the glossaries, with pronunciation guides. He was generous to a fault, and never asked for payment. I would send him a smoked wild Alaska salmon after each book came out, by way of thanks. Celto-philes will recognize the symbolism of the “Salmon of Wisdom” and why the gift was so appropriate for him. He was my Druid, the touchstone to whom I went with historical and spiritual questions about the ancient Celts and Indo-Europeans.

(Excerpt from my book SCOTTISH HERBS AND FAIRY LORE, Pendraig Publishing)

Owl – In Scottish Gaelic the owl is called Cailleach Oidhche (the night hag) and is generally associated with Goddesses. In Welsh tradition Lleu had a magical wife created for him out of flowers by the magician Gwydion. When his wife, Blodeuwedd, plotted with her lover Gronw to kill him, Llew escaped by transforming himself into an eagle and flying into a magical oak. After regaining his human form Llew turned his wife into an owl. 9

Seasonally, February first to second (because all Celtic festivals begin on the eve of the festival day and last until sundown the next evening) marks the season of Imbolc, the ancient Celtic festival of the lactation of the ewes, of candle blessings, and of the Goddess Brighid. Here in New England we have a “January thaw” about the end of January each year and I like to think its because Brighid herself is walking across the land, greening the hills where her feet tread. After Imbolc the cold descends again and the world is frozen until early March.

There are very subtle changes happening on the mountain. While the ground is still slushy with melting snow, the Kinnikinnick bushes (Red Osier Dogwood, or Red Willow, Cornus stolonifera ) which the First Nations use to make smoking mixtures for personal prayer and ceremony are flaming red against the backdrop of fog and snow. I suspect the reddening of the branches has to do with the lengthening daylight. Flame-red twigs are also a fitting symbol for the Fire Festival of Brighid, the ancient Celtic healing Goddess who is Patroness of the hearth, the forge, and the fires of poetry and inspiration.

I was privileged to watch a family of muskrats down by the pond, as they added dried rushes to the roofs of their lodges, taking advantage of the thaw. I have found Coyote tracks in the snow behind the house. Beyond that, everything is still frozen in its winter stasis and nature is quiet, slumbering into Spring.

Gwyl Mair (Imbolc):

In my books and articles I have generally been focused on the Irish aspects of the Celtic Fire Festivals. I wanted to understand the “British” take on things so I visited Imbolc in Wales on 12/14/2012 and revisited The Apple Branch – A Path to Celtic Ritual, by Alexei Kondratiev, in order to understand the Welsh aspects of the season. According to tradition Sant Ffraid (Saint Brighid) floated over from Ireland on a piece of turf. (Presumably that is how the Irish Imbolc customs came to Wales).

In Wales Imbolc is called Gwyl Fair y Canhwyllau or “Mary’s festival of the candles” and Gwyl Mair Dechrau’r Gwanwyn or “The Feast of Mary at the Beginning of Spring”.

In English the festival was called “Candlemas” when folk brought their candles to be blessed by placing them on the altar of a church. Candles were also carried in processions or placed in kitchen windows. The mistress of the farm would give the head maid a lighted candle to be used later in the autumn. That candle was to be used during the darkest part of the year, the time for working by candle light, and handed back on February 2nd, when it was light enough that the animals could be fed without the use of a flame.

Divinations were done; two candles were placed on a bench or table and each family member would take a turn sitting between the candles. They would take a drink such as beer from a beaker or horn and then throw the goblet behind them, over their head. If it fell upright that presaged a long life, if it fell bottom up, that meant an early death.

Sunshine on Candlemas Day that meant there would be a good harvest, but if a single crow circled or hovered over the house on Candlemas Eve, that was a bad omen.

* Remember – when you purchase books and DVDs from this site you get a signed copy and a FREE personal note! *

*** Upcoming Workshop Announcement ***

I and my friend Crystalline Ruby Muse, an outstanding Celtic Bard, have created a weekend workshop that will take place this Fall at Earthlands Institute for Environmental Awareness September 20-22, in Western Massachusetts. The workshop is timed for the start of the Fall foliage season, with six vegetarian meals and lodging provided (and airport pickups for those who need them). Folks are registering already, a deposit will hold your space. Find the flier by opening the link below and please share widely!

Celtic Tree Magic Flyer

Celtic Tree Magic Workshop
With Master Herbalist and author Ellen Evert Hopman
And Celtic Bard Crystalline Ruby Muse

Workshop Overview

The ancient Druids of Ireland used the Ogham Tree Alphabet to share coded messages hidden from outsiders. Each letter is named for a tree or plant, and is surrounded with medicinal and spiritual lore. For centuries this language was only transmitted orally in order to protect its secrets.

Using the Auraicept na n-Éces, a 7th century work of Irish scholars, as well as other traditional sources, we will reveal the meaning of this language. We will teach the poetic, spiritual, medicinal and divinatory meanings of these Celtic trees, all of which can be found in North America, in a context useful for modern seekers. We will venture outdoors where we will lead participants in connecting with the trees through meditation, observation, singing and dancing amongst them. Participants will make wands for individual use using the Ogham divinatory meanings as a guide.

We will teach traditional and modern songs and incantations in Irish, Scots Gaelic, and English to deepen the cultural and spiritual context of our work together. The entire course will be interwoven with ceremony created through Celtic Reconstructionist scholarship, offering participants insight into original Celtic polytheistic spiritual practices.

Students will leave with homemade wands and experience in using them; knowledge for using the Ogham as a divinatory tool; deeper awareness of and connection with ancient and extant Celtic culture; some understanding of how to use these trees as medicine; traditional and original songs to sing in Gaelic and English; insight into ritual in a uniquely Celtic context that they can continue to develop in their own spiritual practice; and a greater sense of connection to the spiritual realms as expressed through nature, song, and community ceremony.

This workshop is appropriate for people who are completely new to the Ogham and Celtic Reconstructionist ceremony, as well as people who have some experience but would like to expand their knowledge and skills. It will be roughly one-third lecture, two-thirds participatory experience, which will include space for a question-and-answer format in which to cover the students’ preferred material.

For information on costs, more about the presenters, and the location of the workshop (in Petersham, MA at the beautiful Earthlands Institute for Environmental Awareness) please download the flyer.

Below you will find this Moonth’s assortment news, freshly gleaned from the internet;

NATURE NEWS

CELTIC NEWS

ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

HISTORY

LANGUAGE NEWS

DRUID NEWS

RELIGION NEWS

HEALTH NEWS

POLITICS/ETHICS

May Brighid spread Her cloak of healing, peace, and inspiration over everyone who reads these pages. A blessed Imbolc to all!

* Remember – when you purchase books and DVDs from this site you get a signed copy and a FREE personal note! *