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

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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!*

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A Druid’s web log – Spring is coming! Don’t forget to vote on March 1!

Encounters with Bernie

A few days ago I went to my second Bernie Sanders rally at the University of Massachusetts. I found myself standing in line a full five hours before the speech, on a freezing cold, clear day. By chance I was in the midst of a cheerful and enthusiastic bunch of students, band members as it happens, who were mostly Poly Sci majors (and one Forester). One of the students said he wants to run for Congress someday (he was dressed in a jacket and tie and I could see that he was ideally suited for that job). The students were happy, excited, and joyful with anticipation.

There were reporters there who clearly had an agenda. The current media meme is that Bernie’s supporters are mostly “young people”. Several reporters came over to our group and asked the students why they liked Bernie. All the students were amazingly articulate and well informed. There were even reporters from Canada. One of them asked a student why he admired Bernie so much. After she finished recording the student’s opinions I chimed in with “Bernie is cute but Trudeau is hot!” and the reporter loved that. She ran over to the crew to tell them what I had just said.

We were handed blue and white signs by someone that read “Students for Bernie”. Never mind that I was a baby boomer in their midst, I also had a sign. I don’t know if it was because I was with the marching band, but we soon developed a well-oiled routine. When a press photographer would point their camera our way I would yell “signage!” and everyone would veer in the photographers direction at once, holding up their sign for the camera.

The sense I had from the students was they felt real affection for Bernie. “We love him” one of them told me. When I was their age the mantra was “Don’t trust anyone over thirty”, the idea of feeling affection for a seventy four year old politician would have been unthinkable.  I recall that a few years ago a younger co-worker of mine explained that it was Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead who had made it “cool to be old”. Here was a vivid example.

The reporters ignored the older folks in the line, probably because we didn’t fit into their current narrative about who is supporting Bernie. There were a wealth of wonderful local characters that could have provided human interest stories; my poet friend Penny, in her seventies, who was dashing about urging the students to cheer, My professional story teller friend Rona who appears to be in her late fifties or early sixties, who insisted on standing for hours in the pit before the stage, rather than take a seat. There was even a group of middle aged Buddhist nuns in their saffron robes. And then there was me.

Last time I heard Bernie I was worried because his speech was outside, to over a thousand people from the overflow crowd and there was no security. This time was very different. We were finally let in to the stadium and had to walk through metal detectors, empty our pockets and bags, and be wanded. I was forced to throw out the apple and energy bar I had secreted away in my pockets.

The sports arena slowly filled over the next few hours, in the end there were over nine thousands of us. When Bernie finally came out Jane was with him and looked very happy and ready to be First Lady. Bernie gave his familiar stump speech to an audience that was on its feet cheering as Jane smiled and beamed. At the end Bernie came down and shook hands with the students on the floor.

It is my fervent hope that the students who came to see their idol, Bernie, will actually show up to vote on March 1, which is election day in Massachusetts. Bernie is the real deal, a true FDR Democrat. EVERYONE, GET OUT AND VOTE! Feeling the Bern!

Watch a video of the event here.

Meanwhile, Bernie is still the only candidate who even mentions global warming. Here is an update on where we are at, as the species that is causing the sixth mass extinction.

SUPER TUESDAY IS MARCH 1 AND MANY STATES ARE VOTING;

Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia will hold primaries for both parties. Alaska will hold its Republican caucus while American Samoa will caucus for Democrats. Colorado will caucus for both parties though only the Democrats are choosing a candidate.

 PLEASE GET OUT AND VOTE!!! YOUR FUTURE IS AT STAKE!!!

BOOK NEWS

A WORKSHOP IN NEW HAMPSHIRE AND MASSACHUSETTS

  • Tree Magic and Medicine class with Ellen Evert Hopman
    July 23,24 2016
    Misty Meadows Herbal Center
    183 Wednesday Hill Road
    Lee, NH 03861
  • My usual six month herbal intensive in the Amherst area starts October 15, 2016
    Cost: $1000 plus a $100.00 nonrefundable Xeroxing fee
    Please contact me for more details.Stay tuned for more workshops and events…

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Happy Spring Equinox to all who read this and may your gardens bloom!