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 – Beltaine (May Day) 2016

After a very warm winter we were suddenly assaulted by below freezing temperatures and even snow earlier this month. As a result the Day Lillies and other early spring plants are looking very crisp around the edges. My garden is usually glorious this time of year. Now the plants are confused and there are very few Spring flowers.

Last weekend I visited the wilderness area down the road with some friends. We walked on a sandy beach and noticed giant wolf-like paw prints (probably Coy-wolves) in the sand and we were treated to the sight of Bald Eagles wheeling overhead, doing their aerial dance. Birch trees were dressed in their new catkins and the skunk cabbages were up on schedule. It’s comforting to know that some things are still happening as they should.

It will be Beltaine (May Day) in a few days, the official start of summer in Celtic areas. Modern celebrants like to observe on May 1 but in ancient times it was the blooming of the Hawthorn trees that heralded the festival. In my area that won’t happen until at least mid-May. Keep an eye on your local Hawthorn trees, or find out when the herds start migrating back up into the hills, for a more accurate assessment of the official start of summer wherever you are.

The US elections are growing nearer. Please consider the Earth and her creatures when you select a candidate. We have very little time left to save fragile wildlife and preserve human health and wellbeing.

Below you will find the usual Moonthly offerings of archeology, nature, herb, health, religion and ethics news. Enjoy!

BOOK NEWS

A REVIEW

  • Ellen Evert Hopman, A Legacy of Druids: Conversations with Druid leaders of Britain, the USA and Canada, past and present“A Legacy Of Druids presents a collection of interviews from some of the most prominent druids in the community, including Philip Carr-Gomm, Mara Freeman, Ceisiwr Serith, Arthur Uther Pendragon and even Ronald Hutton. What perhaps makes them particularly interesting is that these interviews were conducted around 20 years ago, making A Legacy Of Druids a window into the recent past, which is intriguing to compare and contrast with the current landscape of the Druid community today.For me, Druidry has been one of the harder Pagan paths to grasp, as what Druidry actually is always seems to be rather difficult to pin down (even within the context of Paganism, which is itself hard to pin down). This book didn’t really answer the question of what exactly Druidry is – what it did do, however, was give a sense of what Druidry is like. All the Druids selected for interview in this book approach their path from different ways, but after a while you see some patterns emerge that help to distinguish Druidism from other Pagan paths. I noticed that a large percentage of Druids in A Legacy Of Druids had experienced vivid visions and supernatural experiences, and that there’s a particular emphasis on comparing Druidry with Native American traditions – you could sum up Druidry as “Pagan/Celtic Shamanism.”Many of the questions asked in the interviews are the same, which means that there is a little repetition and overlap in answers. But each interview has its own points of interest, and I particularly liked the interviews with Ceisiwr Serith (a lot of surprising truths revealed), Arthur Uther Pendragon (one of Druidry’s most colourful and outspoken individuals), Rollo Maughfling, and Isaac Bonewits (his dealings with Anton La Vey were particularly intriguing). For me, the interview that stood out the most was with Ronald Hutton. I’m a little biased as I’m a big Hutton fan, but it was really fascinating to hear more about his personal life and views. As always, A Legacy Of Druids proves the general rule that a book with Hutton’s name in it usually has something of merit.A Legacy Of Druids is a solid resource for those interested in the history of modern Druidry and more about the lives of those who have made the community what it is today.”
  • An author interview I did with a fellow in India
  • How I became an Herbalist 

RECENT PODCASTS

ANOTHER LEGACY OF DRUIDS REVIEW

  • A Legacy of Druids “Provides a better-rounded picture than the stereotypical television portrayal of Druids as rebellious savage that Roman soldiers felt compelled to slaughter.
    A common belief was Druids did not leave written history because to write something down would cause the memory to go. If this is true or not, I don’t know. The best way to understand Druids is to talk to them, rather than pick up information from self-proclaimed experts on the Internet.Author Ellen Evert Hopman gathers Druids from all walks of life including politicians, spiritual leaders, poets, and musicians. It is a nice collection because no one is alike, which means the interviewees while having a shared faith didn’t always have the same practices, rather like almost any other religion.
    I applaud Hopman for her effort and research. She’s not just a woman in search of an interesting topic, but an archivist of sorts, gathering her own faith history as  Archdruid of the Tribe of Oak.The Legacy of Druids is a much-needed book that demonstrates not all Druids s are bearded old men. Now, there’s nothing wrong with an elder in a ceremonial robe, but it’s also okay sometimes just to be another person standing in line at the water and soil conservation center waiting to get his or her rain barrel. It’s excellent read to expand your horizons.”

*REMINDER – you can order signed copies of my books from this website. You will receive a signed copy with a personal note!*

UPCOMING WORKSHOPS

  • A PLANT TALK IN MASSACHUSETTS
    May 15
    Pelham, MA 1 PM – 3:30 PM
    A lecture on The Doctrine of Signatures, an ancient plant classification system
  • A TREE WORKSHOP IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
    Tree Magic and Medicine class with Ellen Evert Hopman
    July 23,24 2016
    Misty Meadows Herbal Center
    183 Wednesday Hill Road
    Lee, NH 03861
  • AN HERBAL INTENSIVE IN MASSACHUSETTS
    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…

ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

HERB NEWS

HEALTH NEWS

 NATURE NEWS

 RELIGION NEWS

POLITICS AND ETHICS