April blog 2015 Spring has Sprung and it is still snowing!

Incredibly it is still snowing on March 30 as I type this. Here in New England we are adjusting to living in the arctic, while in the west, Alaska to California, the lack of snow and rain means a continuing heat wave and drought. It feels as if the Earth has tilted on its axis.

I have stopped putting out suet and bird seed, as I normally do this time of year, to discourage bears. Ravens and crows have been frequenting the pile of seed that has accumulated under the feeders, thrown out by rapacious squirrels. Woodpeckers have been seen scratching the ground for seed too, they must be very hungry due to a lack of insects in the continuing cold. Possum tracks have re-appeared in the snow under my kitchen window where I throw out compost like egg shells, rotting fruit and vegetable parings.

I have reached an age where I have started wondering if I have reached the end of my creative projects. Last year at some point I thought I might be done with writing, but no, the Gods had other plans. Amazingly there are now TWO new books in the offing; THE SECRET MEDICINES OF YOUR GARDEN will be out in Spring 2016 from Inner Traditions Bear & Co., and another book  A LEGACY OF DRUIDS will be out from Moon Books later this year.

I was sitting on a collection of interviews and conversations I had done with Druids in the US, Canada and Britain, some twenty years ago. For some reason I got a sudden inspiration to trot out those old interviews that never got published. Some of the persons I interviewed have since crossed the veil; Isaac Bonewits, Olivia Robertson, Tim Sebastian, and possibly others. In any case, I hope this book will be a contribution to Druid history. Philip Carr Gomm is writing the foreword for which I am deeply honored.

Some places where I will be teaching, in Pennsylvania, California and Massachusetts:

  • TREE MEDICINE TREE MAGIC
    May 29, 2015 at 3:30pm to May 31, 2015 at 4:00pm
    119 Cherry Ct Matamoras PA 18336
    Weekend Workshop Hosted by Ellen Evert Hopman
    A Friday night slide show of some common North American trees illustrating their medicinal and magical properties. 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 will 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.Weekend Fee $125 which includes class, lunches, and supplies.Please send fee to Marjorie Forbes Spadoni 119 Cherry Ct Matamoras PA 18336
    If you need to stay over locally we have a Best Western 5 minutes away. Call 484-347-7489 for more info
  • ADVANCED FORMULA MAKING AND CASE TAKING CLASS
    September 5-6, 2015
    119 Cherry Ct, Matamoras PA 18336
    Advanced case taking and formula making class with Ellen Evert Hopman, Herbalist AHG . Learn Basic Five Element Theory; seasons, flavors, taste, voice tone, emotions. Learn the basics of Facial Diagnosis; lines, colors, moles, blemishes and learn an advanced formula making technique to design individually crafted remedies for individuals. In-between we will walk outside and meet some of the plants and trees in the garden and make some remedies to take home. Weekend Fee $125 which includes class, lunches, and supplies.Please send fee to Marjorie Forbes Spadoni 119 Cherry Ct, Matamoras PA 18336. If you need to stay over locally we have a Best Western 5 away. Call 484-347-7489 for more info.
  • ADVANCED FORMULA MAKING AND CASE TAKING CLASS
    September 25-26-27, Philo, California (near Mendocino)
    Advanced case taking and formula making class with Ellen Evert Hopman, Herbalist AHG. A Friday night lecture on the Doctrine of Signatures. On Saturday and Sunday you will learn basic Chinese Five Element Theory; seasons, flavors, taste, voice tone, emotions and the fundamentals of Facial Diagnosis; lines, colors, moles, blemishes. You will also learn an advanced formula making technique to design individually crafted remedies for individuals. In-between we will walk outside and meet some of the plants and trees in the garden.The Philo School of Herbal Energetics website has information on directions & lodging. $150 for the weekend; register here. Lodging: They do not offer lodging. Please go to the Anderson Valley Chamber of Commerce page for available lodging.
  • SIX MONTH HERBAL INTENSIVE IN WESTERN MA (near Amherst, MA)
    October 17, 2015 – April, 2016
    Two Saturdays a month, 1-5 PM near Amherst, MA
    The Western Massachusetts School of Herbal Studies
    Intro to Herbalism and Self Care With Ellen Evert Hopman M.Ed. ~ Registered Herbalist AHG author of “Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore“, “A Druid’s Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year”, “A Druids Herbal – Of Sacred Tree Medicine” and other books and DVDs. 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)
    MA NURSES CAN GET CEUS BY TAKING THIS COURSE

More news:
I had a few small articles in the new issue of Aontacht/ Druidic Dawn

Here is a wonderful volunteer opportunity for college students or others who would like to help build housing on a Sioux reservation this summer;

Below you will find the usual assortment of gleanings from the media and *you can order my books from this website and from the other usual places*  Enjoy!

ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

HERB NEWS

HEALTH NEWS

NATURE NEWS

RELIGION NEWS

FAIRY NEWS

  • You need to be careful when baking bannocks because the fairy folk may come into your house if you do not put a hole in the last cake, or break a piece off of it, of put a live coal on its top. If you don’t do these things, the fairy folk will sing the following:
    Little cake
    Without gap or fissure,
    Rise and let us in!
    …and they will be in!
    (Ronald Black (ed.), The Gaelic Otherworld, 2005, p. 10)

POLITICS AND ETHICS

Hot Herbs and a Cold War

The infamous Polar Vortex has been rippling over the nation for weeks now and the knee high ice on the mountain is hard as cement. I can no longer follow the comings and goings of the wild beasties; coy-dogs, fisher cats, moose, deer and foxes, because their trails leave no mark. The only exceptions are the wild turkey tracks that festoon the hardened snow in the driveway. A bleak winter for sure.

At the same time the wider world is heating up as Russia flexes its muscles and expands into Ukraine. I am old enough to remember when Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Russians. I remember the outrage I felt because the US did nothing – as a European born child of the post WWII era the sight of tanks rolling into cities was just too vivid to ignore, even from the safe distance of the USA. I am a bit older now and I understand the dangers of flinging a country gleefully into the fray (think of the wasted lives from the catastrophic wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan). I suspect there is not much Americans and the West can do, once the Russian Bear starts dancing. It feels like the Cold War is heating up once again.

Meanwhile, there is a hot little drama unfolding in the Herbal world as well. Our tiny little microcosm of society has even made it into National Public Radio in recent weeks. The looming controversy has to do with a company from Vermont (of all places) that has decided to patent a folk remedy that has been around for decades (and longer) called Fire Cider. At this time they are issuing “cease and desist” legal orders to any small purveyor of the product that happens to carry it on their website.

This kind of strong arm theft and protectionism of a folk remedy sets a very dangerous precedent. Old hippies will remember the popular “Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap”. Thankfully Dr. Bronner did not try to copyright the term “Castille Soap” which is essentially what this miserable little company “Shire City Herbals” has done. A boycott is in progress. Read more here;

ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE TO MAKE THIS A BETTER WORLD – the Fire Cider controversy heats up!

FIND A RECIPE TO MAKE YOUR OWN FIRE CIDER

 TAKE ACTION STEPS!

*Contact your local stores to inform them of your thoughts on this issue. We are asking people to continue to communicate their concerns in a direct and respectful manner. SAMPLE BOYCOTT LETTER AT BOTTOM OF THIS EMAIL: Please send store responses here.

* Submit any information you might have through the centralized submission form.

* Continue to share the petition.

*Volunteer your time and expertise. We need organizers to help start bio-regional groups! SUBMIT YOUR INFORMATION HERE.

* Flood the market with Fire Cider!! Sell your own in stores, and at Farmers Markets. Check out the “How to make a Fire Cider” label on our Blog.

* Write a blog post about Fire Cider! Post pictures. Let’s get the Google hits on our side!

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ROSEMARY’S MESSAGE

Dear Friends,

The saga of Fire Cider continues….

I wish to thank you all for your ongoing support. It’s been amazing to see how many people have mobilized over this issue and who are willing to support free ownership of Fire Cider. To me this issue is larger than just fire cider. However, in this moment it is most important that the name and product “Fire Cider” be returned to its rightful owners, the herbal community, many who have been making, using, and selling Fire Cider longer than Shire City Herbals has been in existence. When I first made Fire Cider, named it such, and taught hundreds of other people how to make it through my books, videos, classes, and conferences, I never imagined for a moment that anyone would think they could claim it as their own, or worse, deny others the right to sell it.

I believe in trademark laws, and I believe in supporting the success of small and large ~ yes, large ~ businesses as well but only if they demonstrate the ethics and integrity that have been part of the herbal community and movement since it was seeded in the early 1970’s. But, this is clearly a case where a company claimed ownership of something it neither created nor named. In fact, we have written documentation, including copyrights that Fire Cider was in existence in the 1980’s.

I read Shire City Herbals’ recent response to why they feel they have the right to keep the name they trademarked. Though I thought their letter was well written and very tactful, I also found it very interesting how they have rewritten the story in their best interest. In ‘their story’ they become the victims and the herbal community becomes the bullies who are trying to destroy ‘the small business that puts food on their table’. Though, yes, sadly there have been accusations and less than positive messages hurled from both sides, Shire City Herbals fails to mention the thousands of thoughtful well written emails/letters supporting their business but requesting they drop the trademark and suggesting viable win/win solutions.

They have also failed to mention that when they sent out the cease and desist letters, that it meant that other small companies who counted on the sales of Fire Cider to put ‘food on their tables’ no longer could do so. And further, they failed to mention that there are companies who have been selling Fire Cider at farmers markets, local food stores, online, and through their catalogues far longer than Shire City Herbals has been in business. What happens to these companies when they get their cease and desist orders?

It was interesting to read in an earlier email from the Shire folks that Dana had learned to make Fire Cider from his grandmother, who he claims fed it to him as a small child. He asserts that he had no other knowledge of fire cider outside of this experience within his family. However, there are many different versions circulating online of how Dana learned to make Fire Cider, including the possibility that he learned about it during his time at the Southwest Institute for Healing Arts. If he did learn about it in his studies than they knowingly trademarked something that wasn’t truly their own.

Finally, in ‘their story’ they claim they are the protectors of the name Fire Cider and trademarked it so that other larger companies wouldn’t grab it. This seems to be one of their main arguments for holding onto the name. I appreciate that Shire City Herbals feels protective of ‘their’ name and wants to protect big companies from grabbing the trademark but we propose that there is a wiser, fairer and better option, one that benefits everyone, not just their company. From their lenses, they become the crusaders for herbal medicine bringing the knowledge of fire cider and its benefits to the masses, ignoring the hundreds of people that have been doing this quite successfully before them. No one denies their success, but they are following in the footsteps of a huge movement started long before they sent out the first announcement of their company or trademarked their first product.

Perhaps this whole discussion is tied into the intellectual property rights of the herbal community, much like the property rights of indigenous people? Who has a right to ‘own’ these formulas and claim title to names that have been used by thousands of people? What’s the future of popular products/names like Zoom Balls, Kava Chai, Healing Salve, Kloss’s Liniment, or even Elderberry Syrup? Will they too get claimed and tied up in private ownership? It’s an interesting and challenging process. Let’s do what we can to get Fire Cider back so that other companies can sell it in their local farmers markets, local stores, online and in catalogues. Shire City Herbal folks can of course continue as well, but should do so under a trademark of their own unique name like Shire Fire Cider or whatever they choose.

In addition to addressing the issues with Fire Cider, let’s do something bigger. Let’s do what we can to create a legal safe haven, or an ‘Herbally Owned’ trademark (thanks to Sara Katz for this one), where we can safeguard Fire Cider and other popular ‘public’ formulas so this doesn’t occur again. All of this time and energy is well spent, I feel, if we can intentionally create a way to ensure that all herbalists will have equal access to our herbal traditions now and in the generations to come.

This is a great wake up call! I have appointed a core team that I entrust to lead us through this, we continue to need your support however you are able to give it. Let’s go for it, together!

With you in herbal ways,

Rosemary Gladstar

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UNIFYING POINTS OF THE ANTI-TRADEMARK HERBAL MOVEMENT

These can be used in articles, talking to the public, radio shows….

* The term “Fire Cider” was coined by Rosemary Gladstar. She has published copyrighted books coining the term “fire cider” from the 90’s, and has freely shared this term since the 1970’s. This term has become a generic herbal term that many herbal companies sell their own version of. This anti-trademark fire cider movement sprang up after a business trademarked term, “Fire Cider”, bringing to light a bigger issue within the herbal community, trade-marking common herbal terms. The herbal community is now fighting to keep them in public use.

*This is not about Shire City Herbals as individuals or their business, this is about defending a generic herbal term and keeping it in public use. Shire City Herbals responses to the issue are not accepted by this community, and we are reacting with an organized response. This grassroots movement is working to protect other generic herbal terms as well as “Fire Cider”.

*We have a petition going to revoke this, with over 3000 signatures in the first 48 hours. This demonstrates that this term is generic and should not be trademarked.

* There is an active boycott, with herbalists/ supporters contacting retailers of Shire City Herbals Fire Cider, and returning their product to the stores. This boycott will end when the term “Fire Cider” is back in public use.

* This type action opens the door to trademarking of traditional medicines for profit. The biggest reason that this is dangerous is because herbs and herbalism have always been widely available to everyone. Trademarking traditional terms will change the herbal market into something that looks more like what the pharmaceutical industry looks like right now, with corporations owning words/terms that were previously accessible to the public.

*This anti-trademark movement is working towards keeping traditional herbal terms in the hands of small businesses, teachers and the general public. Through legal measures, a boycott, and a petition, we are working to protect herbalists from being penalized for using terms that have always been in public use.

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SAMPLE BOYCOTT LETTER

Dear Retailer,

I am writing to raise your attention to a public controversy regarding one of the products you carry, Shire City Herbal’s Fire Cider.

“Fire Cider” is an herbal product that has been made and sold by numerous small companies since the early 1980’s. The name was coined by Rosemary Gladstar over 35 years ago, she has shared the name and the basic recipe freely since then to thousands of people; it’s as common as “Elderberry Syrup” in the herb world. The name and recipe are published in Rosemary’s books from the 90‘s and pamphlets from the 1980’s. But even more importantly, there are many herbal companies that use this term for a similar product – every producer has a slightly different recipe, but almost everyone markets it as “Fire Cider”.

The manufacturers of this particular Fire Cider, Shire City Herbals, hired a lawyer and trademarked the name, and have started taking legal action against other herbal companies that sell Fire Cider. People who have been selling this product for over 30 years have been told that they can no longer call what they sell “Fire Cider”, because Shire City Herbals has the exclusive rights to use that name.

Why should you care about this?

This type of action will open the door to trademarking of traditional medicines for profit. The biggest reason that this is unethical is because herbs and herbal terms have always been widely available to everyone. The precedent of trademarking traditional herbal terms could change the many vibrant, varied herbal businesses into something that looks more like what the pharmaceutical industry looks like right now.

This company has been approached by Rosemary Gladstar and thousands of supporters asking them to remove the trademark, and they will not do this. We do not object to trademarking an original product and original name, but Shire City Herbals claimed and then trademarked a product and name that was made and sold by many small herbal business’s long before they ever sent out their first bottle of Fire Cider. We are not objecting to their using the name, we are asking them to trademark it under their own original name, such as Shire City Fire Cider, so that other companys that have been making and selling Fire Cider can continue to do so.

We would like you to consider removing Fire Cider made by Shire City Herbals from your shelves until they revoke the trademark. Please consider contacting the company and encourage them to remove the trademark. If keeping herbal products and their commonly used names free and in public use is important to you, then this is a great way to show it!

There is an active petition asking the United States Patent and Trademark Office to remove of trademark. At this time we have over 7000 signatures.

 The public also showed their support for this issue on World Fire Cider Making Day, February 2, 2014 with thousands of people making their own versions of Fire Cider.

Thank you for your time,

YOUR NAME

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In other health related news, General Mills recently announced that Cheerios will now be made *without any genetically modified ingredients*. But genetically modified organisms are still lurking inside other General Mills cereals like Chex, Honey Nut Cheerios, Golden Grahams, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Lucky Charms.

I just took action to demand that General Mills remove GMOs from all of its breakfast cereals. Please do so too.

Some personal goings on;

A RECENT INTERVIEW

UPCOMING SPEAKING EVENTS AND APPEARANCES

  • June 4-9, 2014
    I will be doing workshops at the 2014 annual Dowsers Convention
    Friday, Listening to Trees
    Monday, Scottish Fairy Lore
    in Lyndonville, VT
  • June 21 and 22, 2014
    Mutton and Mead Medieval Festival Renaissance Faire, Montague, MA
    10:00am to 6:00pm
    I will be selling books at YE CELTIC BOOKS AND HERBALS
  • September 5-7, 2014
    Tree Medicine Tree magic
    A weekend intensive in Pennsylvania on making tree medicines and learning Irish tree lore
  • 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.

And as usual, below you will find the rest of the past Moonth’s news. Enjoy!

 ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

CELTIC NEWS

HERBAL NEWS

HEALTH NEWS

NATURE NEWS

SCIENCE NEWS

PAGAN NEWS

ARTS NEWS

POLITICS/ETHICS

Keep the faith everyone, Spring is coming!