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 – Make a June garden for butterflies, bees and lightening bugs

In Celtic tradition it isn’t summer until the hawthorns bloom. Keeping to schedule, the local hawthorns bloomed mid-May. We had a terrible ice storm a few years ago and my Irish hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) raised from seed I brought back from Uisneach in county Meath, finally recovered enough this year to be covered in blossoms on at least one side of the tree. That tree is a favorite of the local bees. Years ago I used to get masses of honey bees who would stumble drunkenly from flower to flower. These days it’s mostly small wild bees and bumble bees.

As I write this it is the time of the Irises. I recently realized that this is the way I tell time. First its crocus time followed closely by Forsythia time, then there is Tulip and Dandelion time for a few weeks, and then the Lunaria take pride of place. Later in the summer it is the time of the Day Lilies who spring up like Fourth of July rockets. After that the Phlox, Raspberries and Blackberries have their moment, followed by the Elderberries and Tomatoes. In the fall it’s the asters of course, and the fabulous New England leaves.

The lightening bugs have re-appeared this week, along with a few butterflies and June bugs. If you live in a city you will never notice this, but living in the country it becomes quite obvious. Fields that are left to go wild, where native wildflowers abound, will be covered in the flashing Fairy lights of the lightening bugs. Across the street where some home owner or corporation has mowed, the lights suddenly disappear.

In old Scottish tradition it was imperative to keep a “Goodman’s Croft” or a wild space on your property, just for the Fairies. As is usual with these kinds of traditions, there is profound practical value to this practice. Without a wild corner of the field, lawn or garden, a place that no human is allowed to tread, the butterflies, bees and lightening bugs have no sustenance. It’s not just spraying that is doing them in. Please think about this as you plan your garden spaces.

In other news, I am presently re-editing the old classic TREE MEDICINE TREE MAGIC which has been out of print for over a decade. I am adding new recipes and other bits in the hopes of bringing it back into print.

Below is the usual fare of book news, herbal updates, archeology, religion, politics and ethics. Please enjoy the bounty. *And remember – you can order a book from this site and get a signed copy with a personal note!*

May your gardens be full of de-light!

UPCOMING WORKSHOPS

  • A TREE WORKSHOP IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
    Celtic Tree Lore class with Ellen Evert Hopman
    July 23,24 2016
    Misty Meadows Herbal Center
    183 Wednesday Hill Road
    Lee, NH 03861
  • HERBAL TRAINING IN MASSACHUSETTS
    October 15, 2016 – April, 2017
    Two Saturdays a month, 1-5 PM near Amherst, MA
    My usual six month herbal intensive in the Amherst area starts October 15, 2016
    Cost: $1000 plus a $100.00 nonrefundable Xeroxing fee
    My books include; “Secret Medicines From Your Garden” , “Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore“, “A Druid’s Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year”, “A Druids Herbal – Of Sacred Tree Medicine“, “Secret Medicines of Your Kitchen
    DETAILS: 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, 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.Stay tuned for more workshops and events…

BOOK NEWS

  • Another podcast; about Druids this time
  • Finding Druid Deities
  • A Legacy of Druids
  • In this podcast my part starts at 1:32
  • A Legacy of Druids
    Legacy of Druids

    Legacy of Druids

    ”A really interesting new book has been released today – A Legacy of Druids. It’s a collection of interviews with key figures in Druidry made by Ellen Evert Hopman 20 years ago.
    When Ellen asked me to write a foreword for the collection I was worried  – surely the material would be out of date? But once I started reading, I became fascinated. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and this book celebrates hindsight and asks the simple but highly relevant question: what legacy is modern Druidry leaving? We can see what predictions we got right and what we got wrong, what preoccupations are still prevalent in the community, and what have been forgotten. It all makes for a surprisingly good read! It’s available in e:book and paperback on both sides of the Atlantic.” Philip Carr Gomm

  • Secret Medicines from Your Garden: Plants for Healing, Spirituality, and Magic, by Ellen Evert Hopman (Healing Arts Press, $19.95, Paperback)
    Secret Medicines from Your Garden

    Secret Medicines from Your Garden

    “Full of mystical folklore, ancient wisdom, and modern research, this book acts as a guide for exploring herbal lore and the healing power of plants. Ellen Hopman shares the many uses of plants for food, spiritual growth, and magical ritual. She covers everything from simple home-made first aid remedies, remedies from Native American and Egyptian traditions, herbal astrology, and even shamanic Plant Spirit and Animal Spirit Medicine. Hopman also shares tips on how to intuit an unknown plant’s healing properties by using universal indications and contraindications based on different characteristics of each plant.” Conscious Community Magazine

ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

HERB NEWS

GARDENING NEWS

HEALTH NEWS

MENTAL HEALTH NEWS

NATURE NEWS

RELIGION NEWS

FAIRY NEWS

POLITICS AND ETHICS