A Druid’s Web Log – Still waiting for the light of Spring

Winter just isn’t letting go in these parts (Western New England) and we still have several inches of snow on the ground. Last night they even had snow in Maryland! What a strange year. I haven’t seen my small troop of five male turkeys in a few weeks. There is still a pile of cracked corn waiting under the bird feeders. I suspect they have gone a courtin’ in the nearby forest. Meanwhile, I am visualizing the herbs and flowers that will soon be blooming in the garden, and making plans for the summer festival season.

This Moonth has been a time of heartbreak for so many. The ongoing holocaust in Syria, the mysterious loss of a Malaysian jet liner (still not found as I type this) and a fatal mud slide in Washington have added to the grimness of the season.

You can help some of the victims of the mud slide by following the links in this account of the tragedy;

Robin Youngblood is a Native American grandmother and world-traveling spiritual teacher. She was caught in the landslide near Seattle on Saturday.

She and a friend rode out the massive wall of mud as it turned her house to sticks.  As rescuers still search for missing neighbors she has started a fund for the families affected.

She says,
“Church of the Earth is setting up a fund for survivors of the Washington Mudslide. If you have anything to spare, all our families lost EVERYTHING!! From toothbrushes to clothes, household goods, and homes. Those of us who are still alive will have to find new homes ~ there’s nothing left to return to. Please send donations through paypal to revrobin@churchoftheearth.org , and we’ll see that the families most in need get your donations. All monies will be equally divided among the families listed with Red Cross, and we will not keep any money for administration costs.”

See more about Church of the Earth

Her story is also featured here.

Another spiritual tragedy of sorts is brewing for Druids in the UK and worldwide. There are plans afoot to build houses for soldiers that will block the Stonehenge sunrise on the Summer Solstice, one of the most important days for Druids and that monument.

You can help to keep that from happening by signing a petition.


The biggest news from me is that I am now collaborating with a script writer and an artist to create a graphic novel based on the book PRIESTESS OF THE FOREST – A DRUID JOURNEY. This is a completely new arena and the ultimate goal is to get more attention for the book and hopefully make it available to a producer or director.

***Remember – You can purchase signed copies of my books from this website! ***


Druid”  by Michael Conneely

Conneely’s book is a fascinating story that toggles between three threads, a knot work of interweaving tales that are at times Celtic fantasy, Science Fiction, Magical Realism and autobiography. The action begins in 428 CE, a period that is very familiar to me, basically because it’s the time frame and setting of my own Celtic novels, and then it careens into the future, then back to the present day.

The book revolves around the legend of Corra, the ancient Land Goddess who Saint Patrick supposedly banished into a lake at the base of the mountain that now bears his name (Croagh Patrick).

Reading the book is a pleasure if you can forget that the Celts probably never called themselves that (they would have identified with their tribal names) and that there was no “Ireland” in 428 AD. Also that Lugh was never a “Sun God” (that is a Victorian conceit) rather a God of skill. Áine (Ir. “brightness, glow, joy, radiance; splendour, glory, fame”) is a better candidate for an ancient Sun deity.

Wiccan (a modern religion circa 1930’s, invented by Gerald Gardner) elements abound in the book such as calling the quarters in ritual (the ancient Celts thought in terms of Three worlds; Land, Sea and Sky and five directions at least). The ancient Celts were also polytheist and did not think of “The union of the Goddess and the God”. Nor did they celebrate eight festivals (the ancient Fire festivals were Samhain, Imbolc, Beltaine and Lughnasad).

Other problems exist. A self-published work, the book is in real need of editing; sudden tense changes in mid-paragraph, typos, misplaced commas, odd lacunae in the type and anachronisms crop up frequently. For American readers the book needs a glossary; words like bothy, dun, geiss, and lough are not explained.

But if you can follow the story with an uncritical eye you will find within it a paean to the Old Woman of Ireland, the Goddess of the Land.  This is a rough gem of a story, penned by a true Druid, a man who passionately loves the soil and the Spirit of Ireland.


Here is a list of my public appearances for this year (so far) Please come by so we can meet and feel free to share this announcement!

  • June 4-9, 2014
    Ellen will be doing workshops at the 2014 annual Dowsers Convention
    Friday, Listening to Trees
    Monday Scottish Fairy Lore
    in Lyndonville, VT www.dowsers.org
  • June 21 and 22, 2014
    Mutton and Mead Medieval Festival Renaissance Faire, Montague, MA
    10:00am to 6:00pm
    Ellen will be signing her 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
  • Western MA Pagan pride Day
    A talk on Scottish Fairy lore
    Florence, MA
    September 27, 11 AM to 6 PM
  • 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.
  • Changing Times Changing Worlds
    Nov. 7-9, Crowne Plaza in Cromwell, Connecticut
    Ellen will teach a three part Druid Intensive including the Druidic wheel of the Year, the Ogham alphabet and meditating with trees.

Below you can catch up on the past Moonth’s gleanings from the media. Enjoy!







  • How to tap Maples
  • Birch syrup
  • Sycamore syrup – Sycamore sap flows on warm winter days – days during the January thaw and days during maple syruping season that are too warm for maple sap to flow (when daytime temperatures are greater than 50 – and even 60 – degrees Fahrenheit).
  • How to eat Nettles
  • Nettle Ravioli in Nettle Pasta
  • Nettle bread recipe
    For the Americans:
    2c + 2.5 tsp organic flour
    ½ c. full fat, organic milk
    ½ c. nettle tips
    1.5 tbs. fresh yeast
    6 organic
    free range eggs
    1/3c white sugar
    2.5tsp Cornish sea salt
    1/2c. soft, unsalted, organic butter
  • Amaranth; “All you have to do is eat the weed” (just make sure its growing on an organic farm)
  • Gardening with Wild Plants
  • A fabulous website about Yew trees
  • Irish trees
  • Plantain
  • For those who have been following the Drama, here is your FIRE CIDER UPDATE
    Facebook StoryLast week, the moderators of the Anti-Trademark Fire Cider page (which had over 3000 likes!) were sent messages saying that there has been a formal complaint made by Amy Huebner (Shire City Owner), that we are violating their trademark and rights. From Facebook: “The Fire Cider Anti-Trademark page has been taken down. Facebook does not moderate between parties, please contact the complaining party, Amy Huebner of Shire City Herbals.”We were not surprised! We felt silenced and angry. We were not violating a trademark, because we are not actually selling anything!Well, we are back! We have a new Facebook page.Please like and share!

    Amy’s actions motivated us to create a new website with much more information on it!

    Even though Amy intended to silence us, she pushed us to get more organized and have a central location for all our movement information! Thanks Amy!

    • New Website
      The website has lots of great information about the movement. You can download letters, signs, recipes. Upload information, pictures and more! Check it out!
    • Promotional Materials
      Download promotional materials from the website!

            • General info flyers
            • Recipes
            • Make your own Fire Cider poster
            • Campaign Updates
            • Boycott

      **Before you write or call a store, check the website for the most up to date list of stores who have supported the boycott Fire Cider!

      ** Make sure you upload the information about stores that have decided to make a concious choice to support our mission in protecting our tradition from SCH Fire Cider, so that they are not still getting letters, and our energy doesn’t get wasted!

      **Check the website for 3 different SAMPLE boycott letters! Remember, these are samples! If you don’t like any of them, use your own words!

      **Keep the pressure on! Have a letter writing get-together!

    • Petition
      *It is so empowering to see us all come together to protect our traditions. We have almost 7,500 signatures!*Help us by circulating the petition to reach 10,000 signatures!
    • Flood the Market*We’d love to see coops and health food stores across the country carrying a large selection of LOCAL Fire Ciders! Live in Alabama? Why should your Coop carry a Fire Cider from Massachusetts? And if you live in MA, your Coop could carry Fire Cider made right in the very same town!

      *More info on how to do this! 

    • Volunteer Information*We are hoping to solidify our volunteer coordinator this week!

      *Submit a volunteer form if you would like to lend a hand!

    • Toast to Tradition*On Sunday, March 9th let’s all celebrate Fire Cider. Make a toast to tradition! Share and post your photos on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc

      *Don’t forget to tag Tradition Not Trademark on Facebook or use ‪#‎freefirecider elsewhere!

  • ANOTHER FIRE CIDER UPDATEHappy Spring*Traditional Healers Alliance*
    New Volunteer Coordinators
    Campaign Updates

    Spring Equinox is here! Hooray!

    During the last few cold weeks of winter, the Anti-trademark Fire Cider group has been busy building an organizing structure. Our goals were to:

    • Broaden the Fire Cider movement
    • Incorporate more volunteers into the organizing group
    • To work more efficiently as an organizing group.

    We have decided to call it….(drum roll)……

    The Traditional Healers Alliance!

    It is now spring, and we are happy to share with you the mission statement!

Traditional Healers Alliance: Mission Statement
The Traditional Healing Alliance’s (THA) mission is to protect traditional herbal terms and practices from potential restrictions while keeping these terms and traditions accessible to the general public. This includes remedies, traditionally practicing herbalists, and whole herbs.
THA works to build and unify the herbal community and empower them to feel that they can continue to celebrate traditional healing practices and produce historical, traditional remedies without restriction.

THA’s goals are:
Revoke the Fire Cider Trademark, and protect other common herbal terms from trademark through legal action, awareness campaigns and direct action (boycott, letter writing, petitions).
THA is working to set a precedent in the herbal marketplace. The herbal community will not sit back and watch while our traditional herbal terms are turned into a corporate commodity.
Through it’s advocacy work, THA is raising awareness about traditional remedies and healing.

    • New Volunteer Coordinators

      Along with the organizing infrastructure, we have found 2 new volunteer coordinators! Amy Richards and Rachael Young will be contacting folks and directing them on how to plug into the Anti- Trademark Fire Cider campaign.

      If you have submitted your name, and not heard anything, it is because we have been busy finding the coordinators and creating the structure for you to plug into!

    • Campaign Updates

      Boycott: Still going strong! We are still encouraging folks to write letters and call stores. We have sample letters here.

      Flood the Market: We have lots of new brands of Fire Cider popping up! Keep sending us pictures of your products!

      Petition: We are still trying to get to 10,000! Keep sharing!

      Thank you for your continued support.

      The Traditional Healers Alliance




POLITICS AND ETHICS (because they are the same thing)


September 2012 – mid-harvest and the death of an old Oak

Please remember – you can purchase all my books and DVDs directly from this site via PayPal. You will get a signed copy and a personal note!


Last night we had our first night in the 40’s here on the mountain, and the maples along the roads are already showing faint washes of orange. The crab apples, still mostly green, are starting to blush red, and the Russian Olives, trees denounced as invasive, “illegal aliens”, are providing a vast crop of tart, vitamin packed jewel-like orange berries, a feast for birds and humans alike.

The flower garden is now producing nosegays of purple and white asters, Echinacea, Queen Anne ’s Lace, Goldenrod and Phlox and I am still getting orange and pink roses. I have seen large funnels of hawks and massive flocks of song birds, cresting in waves at sunset, practicing for their imminent migrations.

This summer I experimented with making fennel liqueur, a friend provided me with long stalks and I put the feathery leaves and flowers into jars of vodka, later adding well water and organic sugar. The result was fantastic. I also have Thai Basil liqueur that I will pass along as a Yuletide gift.

Basic Herbal Liqueur Recipe
30 leaves fresh basil (I use more)
1 1/2 cups vodka
1 1/2 cups sugar (I use less)
3/4 cups water

Place herbs and vodka in a clean glass jar with a tight lid. Let stand 6 weeks in a cool, dark place. Shake every few days.

Combine water and sugar in a pan. Heat until the sugar melts completely. Allow to cool.

Strain the vodka and herbs through a cheese cloth or strainer. Combine with the sugar-water mixture and keeps up to 1 year.

You can use Thyme, Basil, Fennel, Bee Balm, Rosemary. I use only organic sugar and herbs and well water. This is an old medieval recipe, in the old days they would have used honey I suppose. My favorite so far has been Thai Basil liqueur.

There are moose tracks in the mud along the stream behind the house. Last night there was a loud thump on the roof followed by the distinct patter of feet. The cats growled and ducked for cover because clearly something horrible was out to get them. I looked out the kitchen door and saw an enormous possum, waddling towards the pile of vegetable scraps in the side yard.

In Memoriam

It is with sadness that I must report the death of an old friend and mentor of mine, the largest White Oak tree in Massachusetts. Some heartless and cruel person thought it would be fun to use the old tree as a fireplace and they lit a fire inside the venerable oak, a tree that was older than the United States.

This tree held magical and spiritual significance for many. I would often go to it and find groups of people, families with kids, basking in the wonder of the giant presence. The place where the tree lived and thrived for centuries was a special location, I remember going there in late autumn and finding that the area surrounding the tree still had blooming flowers when the rest of the hillside was already bare branches. It was as if a cone of protection existed around the tree, or maybe it was the tree itself that was creating the special summer-like conditions. I also suspect that the Fairies and Nature Spirits had a hand in keeping the atmosphere just right. When we photographed the tree mysterious Fairy lights would often appear in the images.

As I got older I appreciated the tree more and more. There is a phenomenon that we all experience as we age, the “thinning of the canopy” of our own family tree. As children we have many older adults to look up to, aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents. With time these branches of our human family start to make their way to the Otherworld and eventually we find ourselves as the only ones remaining at the tree top, with youngsters looking up to us for a change. It’s an odd feeling.

When I would visit the old oak I got to feel like a kid again. I was just a tiny sprite next to its ancient gnarled trunk. Now I have lost a wise and patient counselor, mentor and friend. It feels like a murder.

To add to the tragedy, this is the tree after which the Whiteoak Druid Order was named. I founded the Whiteoak mailing list in 1996. By 1997 we had spent a year discussing “What is a Druid” and “What a Druid is not”. We had created teaching materials, rituals and tools and realized that we had become an Order. We dedicated the Order at Samhain, 1997.

The name “Whiteoak” had come to me in meditation. I live in a forest of red and black oak and I mentally asked the trees what to call the Druid mailing list I had founded. The answer came as a surprise. It wasn’t until years later that I learned the largest Whiteoak in Massachusetts was twenty minutes from my door, the Archdruid of trees in our area.

I feel privileged to have known the tree in its final days. My lifespan is so short; it’s a minor miracle that I got to know it at all.

You can read newspaper accounts of the tragedy here and see the effect this has had on our community;

Here is a beautiful Native American chant that someone sent me, for the spirit of the tree;

Please send your own prayers for the spirit of this tree. And everyone who reads this please reflect on the children around you and how they are being educated to revere and take care of nature. I can’t help but wonder what kind of upbringing the person had who torched this wonderful old tree. Their heart was closed to the beauty and sensitivity of the life of the tree, the forest, and the people who loved it all.

Here are some links to places children can go to experience the soul of nature and better understand its life and value;

Book news!

The Secret Medicines of Your Kitchen will be out in mid October from mPowr Publishing, London, England. The book features home remedies you can make from foods and spices already in your kitchen. It will soon be available for pre-order – stay tuned!

Below you will find some upcoming speaking events followed by the usual collection of the past Moonth’s news.

I am busily gearing up for this year’s herb class, I just visited a local bee keeper to get fresh bee’s wax and I have bags of walnut hulls and horse chestnuts in the freezer. Take the class and find out how to use them!

  • Herbal Healing Class
    A Six month intensive (near Amherst, MA)with Ellen Evert Hopman M.Ed. ~ Registered Herbalist AHG
    October 13, 2012 – April, 2013
    Two Saturdays a month, 1-5 PM
    COST: $1,000.00 (includes a $100.00 non-refundable Xeroxing fee)
    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.
    Please contact me for further information.


  • September 15, Forbes Library (near Smith College)
    Northampton, Massachusetts 2:30 – 4:30
    I will present a talk and slide show on the herbal uses of our native trees
  • September 22, CHARMED IN NEW ENGLAND
    163 Main Street, Marlborough, MA 01752
    Phone 508-263-9491
    I will speak about Druidism at the store ( if any Druids are in the area would love to have you join in!)
  • September 25, Awentree, Easthampton, MA
    Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Wood and Spirit, A lecture on Chinese Five Element
  • Pagan Pride Day near the Lilly Library
    September 29, Florence, Massachusetts Western MA.
  • Wiccanfest, October 5-8
    Ontario, Canada
  • Changing Times, Changing Worlds
    November 9 – 11
    Conference at U. of MA, Amherst, MA
  • Crystal Falls Wellness Center
    Saturday, November 17 Southampton, MA
    1- 3:30 pm
    Author fair, I will sell and sign books
    285 College Hwy (Rt 10/202)
    For more info: Lori (413) 536-7192 X1117








POLITICS/ETHICS (it’s the same thing you know)

Please remember – you can purchase all my books and DVDs directly from this site via PayPal. You will get a signed copy and a personal note!

May your harvest be fruitful, may all beings be happy. Have a joyful Fall!