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

 

Summer Solstice 2012

Hear the voice of the Bard!
Who present, past, and future sees;
Whose ears have heard
The Holy Word
That walked among the ancient trees.
~ William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience

A lot of folks have been thinking about the tornado we had last year – on June 1. The trees in the yard that lost limbs have started putting out fresh shoots, all along the broken off branches. By next year there will be fresh new twigs along every branch and, I hope, clusters of flowers. Sadly, this year there were no bees at all on my hawthorn tree by the house. In former years it was always covered with bees. (See the Nature News section below for updates on bee colony collapse).

The barn swallows finally gave up nesting in the entranceway. They had rebuilt their nest as usual but the presence of two cats plus one human coming and going proved too much for them. The woods are filled with bird song, however, and I have seen many snakes and toads. Life continues to flourish at a distance from the house.

My long haired, black cat almost died this past month and we still have no idea why. “Fever of unknown origin” was the vet’s diagnosis. I spent a few anguished days forcing water and tuna can liquid into his mouth with a syringe because he wouldn’t eat or drink. I can barely imagine what it must be like for a parent of a sick human child. Happily the cat is his old self again.

BIG BOOK NEWS!

HOW WRITERS CAN HELP EACH OTHER.

  • Publishing is evolving so quickly that it can feel overwhelming. Something that hasn’t changed is the generosity of writers helping each other. Here are some old and new ways for writers to help each other when a new book comes out.

The older, tried and true ways:

  • Support the author by buying the book or e-book.
  • Mention the book to your local library. Librarians often write reviews and are generally very cool people.
  • Urge your local bookstore to carry the book.
  • Write a review on Amazon (you can do this without making a purchase), Goodreads, or any other site that you frequent. The reviews can be as short as one sentence and don’t need to be longer than a paragraph.
  • Suggest the book to your book group. Authors are often happy to make an appearance (if local), Skype, or email with the members. Don’t hesitate to ask.
  • If you are part of an organization that books speakers for conferences, consider inviting the author.

The slightly newer, still in transition ways:

  • If you have a blog, invite the author to do a guest blog. Share it on Facebook.
  • Which brings up the big world of Facebook. There are three main ways to respond to FB and they each carry a different weight.
    Like: this is easy to do and appreciate
    Comment: this is more valuable and lots more interesting. The majority of people don’t get this far. You can do it on your page in a status update or on the author’s page as a comment.
    Share: This is the heavy weight contender and carries the biggest bang. For ex: Share the book’s website link on your page or go to the author’s blog, make a comment, and then share it with FB. Kapow!
  • House parties: With the closure of so many independent book stores, there are fewer venues for authors. And it has always been hard for author to get booked at the remaining bookstores where they don’t have an established base. Here’s what you can do: host a house party for the author. Invite a gang of readers to meet the author, do a potluck or snacks, and have fun. The author can meet with your friends in a relaxed atmosphere.

The Gold Standard

  • Word of Mouth. If publishing houses could buy this, they would. If you like a book, tell your friends and family. Buy it as a gift for those you think might like it.
    borrowed from
    pll@writingretreats.org
    www.writingretreats.org

Remember ~ you can order my books and DVDs from this website and get a signed copy and a personal note! ~
Here are the usual gleanings from this Month’s media…

ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

HERB NEWS

TRADITIONAL RECIPE FOR HEATHER ALE
Ingredients: Heather, hops, *barm, syrup, ginger and water.
Crop the heather when it is in full bloom, enough to fill a large pot.
Cover the croppings with water and set to boil for one hour
Then strain into a clean tub.
Measure the liquid and for every dozen bottles add one ounce of ground ginger,
half an ounce of hops and one pound of golden syrup or honey.
Bring to the boil again and simmer for 20 minutes.
Strain into a clean cask.
Let it stand until milk-warm and then add a teacupful of good barm.
Cover with a coarse cloth and let it stand till next day
Skim carefully and pour the liquid gently into a clean tub so that the barm is left at the bottom of the cask.
Bottle and cork tightly
The ale will be ready for use in as little 2 or 3 days
* BARM The yeasty foam that rises to the surface of fermenting malt liquors

NATURE NEWS

RELIGION NEWS

DRUID NEWS

PAGAN NEWS

ARTS

NEWS WE CAN USE

HEALTH NEWS

POLITICS/ETHICS

May your summer be bright and your gardens fruitful. All blessings of the warm season!