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

 

September blog – Enjoying the dregs of the summer

The big news here on this New England mountain is the drought. My elderberry bush is strangely lop sided this year; one half dried up and dying and the other half bending low with berries. The rowan (Mountain Ash) trees are suffering the most, with crinkled up leaves they appear to be at deaths’ door. I take heart from a story my brother once told me. He lives in Texas where there was a severe drought for three years. It was so bad that the oaks lost their leaves for the entire period. But once the rains returned, so did the leaves.

A few weeks ago I had a strange encounter with a hummingbird on the back patio where I have never had hummingbird feeders. In past years at this time my garden has been filled with roses and pink phlox. Now, due to the drought I have half as many flowers. One day I went out and a hummingbird started dive bombing my face. It was clearly trying to tell me something because it hovered for a minute or so at my eye level, chirping all the while. I got the message. I immediately got into the car and went out and bought a Hummingbird feeder.

Hummingbirds are powerful little animals. In Inca tradition they are the intermediaries with the angelic realms and help one to achieve the impossible.

This house is on a well and last week the well actually went dry and I had to wait a day before the pressure was high enough to turn on the faucets. I am getting used to a new routine; watering plants by hand from empty milk jugs, channeling grey water from the kitchen sink directly into the garden, squeezing out my laundry before I put it on the line to dry and saving the water to pour on the roses, only watering in the early morning and in the evening to prevent evaporation.

(Speaking of drought,  here is an article about a farmer who is succeeding with very little water )

The other big project around here is gathering acorns. I went down to a local lake and found a hollowed out stone and another stone that fits neatly into my hand, to use as a mortar and pestle/acorn smasher. My plan is to crack the acorns, leach them, dry the leached nuts, and grind them into flour. So many people I know have oak trees, it’s a wonder that we aren’t all making use of this amazing food source that was once a staple food of our ancestors.

Here is a little recipe from my newest herbal “Secret Medicines >From Your Garden”;

Acorn Cake

  •  1 cup olive or coconut oil
  • 1 cup acorn flour
  • 1 cup other organic flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground Cardamom
  • ½ tsp. ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground Nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground Allspice
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup raw honey
  • ½ cup Applesauce
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • Some powdered sugar to dust on top
  • Butter to grease the pan

 Method:

  • Grease and flour a Bundt pan
  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix the dry ingredients and spices in a bowl
  • Beat the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl
  • Combine the wet and dry mixtures and pour into the Bundt pan
  • Bake 30-40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Take out of the oven, allow to cool for 15 minutes, and then turn out on a rack.
  • Once the cake is completely cooled dust lightly with confectioner’s sugar.

How to process acorns
How to make acorn flour

FALL EQUINOX

The Equinox falls on September 22 this year. Here are some suggestions for how to honor the Devas and Land Spirits who have labored long and hard to create the bounty of our forests, fields and gardens;

Fall Equinox, Meán Fomhair, Alban Elfed (September 22)

  • Make offerings to a sacred fire; dry herbs, whiskey, butter, ghee
  • Pour milk offerings on stones
  • Offer ale and oatmeal gruel to the sea
  • Pour ale, honey, cider or milk on the Earth
  • Make a scarecrow from the new grain and place it in the exact center of your fields. Do not give it clothes. The Spirit of the Grain will inhabit the scarecrow and look out for the welfare of the crops.

ACTION ALERT

“A suspected Native American burial ground is slated for destruction during the high holy days of the Algonquian people who live here.  This is our time to memorialize the deceased and to celebrate life. All Tribal representatives were banned from inspecting this site, contrary to Federal policy (Bureau of the Interior, Section 106 and Bulletin 38) and in violation of MGL 114, Massachusetts burial protection law.  The law is designed to prevent “alienation of a burial ground for any other purpose,” but is being loop holed in this case.”

Please read and consider signing this petition to allow Native American tribal officers to inspect a suspected burial ground before it’s destroyed:

Please share to all your friends on various social networks.  This petition is being sent to the Hopi, Dineh, Oglala Lakotah, and several other First Nations offices.  A copy of this petition has been sent to President Obama, who is vacationing through the Algonquian holy days in the backyard of the Aquinnah Wampanoag, ironically.

Nahuhnushagk,

Rolf Cahat

Akwesasne Mohawk Tribal Member, Nipmuc descendant, science editor and researcher of Native American culture and religion, resident of Shutesbury

ANOTHER ACTION ALERT

We the people ask the federal government to call on Congress to act on an issue:

Stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline which endangers the water supply to Native American reservations.

Created by C.S. on August 15, 2016

“The Dakota Access pipeline is set to be constructed near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, crossing under the Missouri River which is the only source of water to the reservation. The pipeline is planned to transport approximately 470,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The potential of oil leaks would contaminate the only source of water for the reservation. While Dakota Access claims oil leaks are unlikely, an oil leak from a separate pipeline in North Dakota was discovered (8/15/16) to have leaked over 500 barrels of oil since the leak began on July 19, 2016. You can read the article here. A leak like this from the Dakota Access pipeline would leave the Standing Rock Sioux without any clean water”.

BIG BOOK NEWS

OK, this really is  BIG. The International Herb Association has chosen “Secret Medicines from your Garden” for their Thomas DeBaggio Annual Book Award – announced at their annual conference, held this year in Columbia, MD, August 18-21.

As I said to them; “Please tell the participants that I am very honored to be chosen. I am the kind of person who goes to a dinner party and points out the poison ivy growing by the front door to the hostess and also the edible tips of the hemlock trees growing in the yard. I see clippings from river birch trees lying in a pile at the edge of the garden and I tell anyone within earshot that they would make a great tea. These kinds of sentiments are not always understood (or appreciated) by a busy hostess at a dinner party! But I am sure plant people will understand. (smile).”

You can purchase a signed copy of the book from me via this website or find it in the usual places! The amazing thing is the book contains magical as well as medicinal uses of herbs. Apparently herb magic is no longer threatening to the general public (or at least to Herbalists!)

Article  about SECRET MEDICINES FROM YOUR GARDEN, the award the book just received and some local classes….

And an author interview here

WORKSHOPS AND CLASSES

  • THE HERBAL AND SPIRITUAL PROPERTIES OF TREES
    A slideshow and talk
    September 3rd , Pelham, MA
    Taught by Ellen Evert Hopman, Herbalist and Author.
    Ellen Evert Hopman is the author of  A DRUID’S HERBAL OF SACRED TREE MEDICINE, SECRET MEDICINES FROM YOUR GARDEN and other herbals. She  will be discussing the herbal and folklore traditions surrounding common North American trees and harvesting and preparation methods. Trees covered include; Larch, Oak, Hawthorn, Walnut, Pine, Redwood, Eucalyptus, Maple, Birch and many more…
    After the class  she will have some of her books on hand for signing. Her books and salves are also available for purchase in the shop.
    COST – Sliding scale $10 to $15 (Registration fee of $5 included in total cost)
    DATES – Saturday, September 3rd
    TIMES – 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
    LOCATION – The Bower Studio: 378 Daniel Shays Hwy, Pelham, MA 01002
    * If the class minimum is not met, all registration fees will be refunded and you will be notified.
    You may also pre-register by visiting the shop during business hours.
    ** Payment for classes will be due in full (minus pre-registration cost) at the start of class. Class fees must be cash or check, made out to the class instructor. Cancellations must contact us 48 hours prior to class so we can offer canceled spaces to others. Pre-registration fees are non-refundable. Read our FAQ for more info.**
  • Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore
    With Ellen Evert Hopman
    Sunday, October 2nd
    11:30 am – 5:30 pm
    $94 prepaid by September 25th
    $104 thereafter
    Crystal Wellness Center Upstairs at Crystal Essence 39 Railroad St., Great Barrington, MA
    To register please call: 413.528.2595
  • HERBAL TRAINING IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS
    October 15, 2016 – April, 2017Two Saturdays a month, 1-5 PM near Amherst, MA
    The yearly six month herbal intensive in the Amherst area starts October 15, 2016
    Cost: $1000 plus a $100.00 nonrefundable Xeroxing fee
    Ellen Evert Hopman is the author of; “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” and other volumes
    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.

ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

LANGUAGE NEWS

CELTIC NEWS

HERB NEWS

HEALTH NEWS

ART NEWS

NATURE AND CLIMATE NEWS

RELIGION NEWS

FAIRY NEWS

POLITICS AND ETHICS

*Enjoy the dregs of summer, the heady wine of autumn is on its way! Happy Equinox on September Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 10:21 AM EDT*

 

 

 

 

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