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

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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

 

November blog 2015 Honoring the Ancestors and Creeping off to Yet Another War

I just finished celebrating a very quiet three day Halloween here on the mountain. In ancient times Samonios (later called Samhain or Samhuinn) was a three day festival according to the Gallo-Roman Coligny Calendar . There is an entry “TRINOX[tion] SAMO[nii] SINDIV” (three-nights of Samonios today) which implies that Halloween was observed for three days and nights. We moderns have preserved that to some extent with All Saints Day and All Souls Day and of course, our day to celebrate ghoulies and ghosties and trick or treating.

My own observance consisted of placing offerings for the Fairies on the altar in the garden; whole grain toast and honey, milk and honey, and apple crisp, on each of the three nights. I took a few moments with my students on October 31 to share stories of our ancestors and those we had lost in the past year. We munched small offerings of pomegranate seeds and chocolate in their memory.

It is a somber time. It feels like the US is slouching into yet another war, and this time its boots on the ground in Syria. In my own life a company I have worked for, for almost a decade, has decided to move to Texas where they can pay lower wages and offer fewer benefits. A hundred locals are being laid off as a result, which does not seem to factor into anyone’s calculations. We workers are expendable and only profit margins have any real meaning.

But life will go on, as it always does. Below you will find the usual assortment of news from the archaeology front, nature news, herb, news, religion, ethics and politics, and if you are reading this I wish you a very happy and prosperous Celtic New Year. May your fires be bright and your hearth warm!

BOOK NEWS

  • A recent podcast that covers Druids, Herbalism and many other topics;
  • My newest herbal is already available for pre-order;
    Secret Medicines from Your Garden
    Plants for Healing, Spirituality, and Magic
    A guided exploration of herbal lore and healing plants found in yards, forests, meadows, and hedgerows
  • My newest Druid book A Legacy of Druids – Conversations with Druid leaders of Britain, the USA and Canada, past and present (Moon Books) has just completed its final edit and the cover is being designed. It will be out Spring of 2016. Endorsements are already coming in;
    ‘This extraordinary assembly of Druids reveals the paths leading to our native, spiritual heritage, without fear or favour. Deep and true!’ – Caitlín Matthews, author of Celtic Visions, past-presider of OBOD.
  • Nimue Brown of Moon Books writes; “Recently I have learned from the Society of Authors that if you get 50 book reviews on Amazon, then Amazon might start paying more attention to your book. I also learned, that ratings on Goodreads can lead to being listed in the Goodreads Choice Awards. We’re talking in the thousands here, by the looks of it. Not easily done, but worth knowing all the same. In terms of increasing visibility, reviews clearly have a lot of influence.”If anyone here has read my books would you please pen a short review on Goodreads or Amazon? Blessings in advance! (smile)

*Reminder- you can purchase signed books from me via this website and get a signed copy with a personal note from the author. Perfect for Yuletide giving! Please specify who you want the books autographed to if they are gifts.*

ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

PAGAN NEWS

HERB NEWS

NATURE NEWS

RELIGION NEWS

LANGUAGE NEWS

POLITICS AND ETHICS

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