November blog 2016 Spooky times and election fears

By the time you read this Samhain (Halloween) may have passed but never fear, the old date for the Celtic New Year’s festival was November 11. So you can probably still observe it!

The modern notion of Halloween with its billions of dollars in candy sales has lost the true meaning of the day, which was to give thanks to the Land Spirits who feed and clothe us, and to give thanks to the ancestors who fought, loved and survived just so we could enjoy our own walk upon the Earth. Here are some ideas for things to do, to honor the forces and Beings that sustain us;

 

Offerings for the Spirits of the Dead 

“Hogboon, Hogboy, Hugboy – From the Old Norse haug-búi a mound-dwarf or guardian Spirit that inhabits a burial mound. While these Spirits are helpful to those who offer them gifts such as wine, ale, or milk, they resent interference with their mounds, for example, children playing on them, or cows grazing on them (not to mention the intrusions of archaeologists and tourists!). They especially resent those who come to steal treasure from a mound.

The very best offerings for a Hogboon are the first milk when a cow calves, the first jug of new ale, or the offering of a rooster or a cow from the farmstead. It is very good luck to set up housekeeping near a burial mound, provided the proper offerings are made on a regular basis.

Neglect of the local Hogboon can lead to sickness in the cattle, loss of possessions, or a haunted house. A Hogboon that is well respected and cared for will help with the farm chores and even follow the family if they move house.” From *Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore* (Ellen Evert Hopman, Pendraig Publishing)*You can order a signed copy from this website!*

 

Offerings for the Fairies

“The best time to see Fairies is on the eve of a Fire Festival when they move house, from Fairy mound to Fairy mound. It is particularly important to leave offerings on your Fairy Altar at those times (a wooden or stone construction in the garden where food and drink offerings are left), for their refreshment. Fairies appreciate gifts of milk and ale on those nights, and milk and ale are offered to the Fairies at Samhuinn by pouring libations into tombs.” From Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore (Ellen Evert Hopman, Pendraig Publishing)

“Of course, every farm and homestead must have a section of land that is never plowed and where no human ever goes (The Gudeman’s Croft). Wild weeds and grasses are allowed to grow there undisturbed, as a shelter for the Brownies and other Fairies.”

From *Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore* (Ellen Evert Hopman, Pendraig Publishing)

Halloween, Samhain, Lá Samhna, Calan Gaeof (October 31, November 11 old style)

Make offerings to a sacred fire; dry herbs, whiskey, butter, ghee

Make offerings of rosemary (memories) to the fire

Leave a dish of the feast for the ancestors

Pour red wine, honey, cider or milk in the fields and on the stones

Offer ale and oatmeal gruel to the sea, in thanks for the seaweed and the fish

Leave a little of the harvest in each field and in the water

Leave a blessing for the trees

Gather the family and tell stories about grandparents, aunts and uncles who have passed. Bring out old pictures and remind the children of who they were and what they accomplished.

By the time you read this you may already have voted. Far be it for me to tell you how to vote. But please consider this;

The number of hate groups in the USA (and also in Europe incidentally) such as the KKK has increased dramatically since 2014. There is one candidate who has emboldened these kinds of monsters who are far worse than any Halloween specter. That candidate has deliberately allied himself with the “alt-right” who are misogynists and racists. His campaign is being managed by them and they are now creeping out of the shadows when before they remained hidden. He has given them a voice. Please think of the future of the country and of what it will look like if this candidate and his minions are given the dignity of high office.

As others have pointed out, Democracy can be lost by apathy and neglect.

*Yule is coming! Why not consider ordering books from this website. You will get a signed copy and a personal note from the author!*

BOOK NEWS

  • A new review just came out….
  • A Legacy of Druids: Book review by Ulchabhán

    Legacy of Druids

    Legacy of Druids

    Normally I am not drawn to reading collections of interviews – mainly because it is not easy to provide a cohesive narrative and I tend to get lost in a lot of the back and forth views. However, Ellen Evert Hopman’s book was a very pleasant surprise and an engaging and informative read.Each conversation should be taken in the context of the time of each individual’s practice as well as the particular connection of their varied developed practices. I liked that Ms. Hopman put an obvious amount of thought into trying to organize the insights shared into approachable topics of interest.While it is apparent from the well-researched variety of individuals who have been active in the Druid community over the decades that there is a great deal of diversity in what really constitutes “Druidism,” as a practicing Druid I felt a sense of underlying cohesiveness. As I read through each discussion, I enjoyed once again reviewing my own developed thoughts on what brought me on this journey. Each interview had its own flavor and presented a constantly morphing intellectual and spiritual case for all the threads that have woven our experiences into the truly rich and evolving Path I still walk with Joy and Gratitude.This book should be considered part of any library touching on the fire, music and connection of being a Druid. This is one I will return to many times to catch the layers of meaning more fully.Walk with Wisdom, Strength and GratitudeUlchabhán

  • And another review!
    Wednesday, October 05, 2016Review of Legacy of Druids: Conversations with Druid leaders of Britain, the USA and Canada, past and present by Ellen Evert Hopman (2016) Moon Books.Full disclosure: I was, to my amazement then and now, interviewed for this book. That is not why I like it, though I confess it is why I wanted to read it in the first place.Why Review Legacy of Druids on Brigit’s Sparkling Flame?I wouldn’t normally review a book like this on BSF as it isn’t actually about Brigit. However, there are two reasons to:1) it contains an early interview of me (September 3, 1996) which discusses my own spiritual path, and of course that involves the origin of the Daughters of the Flame in 1993 and its workings till 1996 (pp 29-39).2) More generally, it is fascinating from a historical perspective for Neo-Pagans generally, particularly but not exclusively those who identify as Druids or follow a Celtic-based path. Many Brigidines of course are in that number.Self-Indulgent MomentIt is a little weird reading the me of twenty-odd years ago. I notice I have mellowed. I want to correct two things I said in the book, and then I can forget me for the rest of this review:1) I was not able to carry through with my intention (a mere year ago) to stop producing the Daughters of the Flame newsletter. It is too central to the group. On, in less labour-intensive form, it goes.2) I say at one point, “On the way to the monastery I passed a high school called Saint Brigit’s. I had been into a couple of churches with shrines to St. Brigit, in Melbourne and elsewhere, and I found myself praying to Her as Goddess more pointedly than I had in the past. When I passed the school I said to my companion that I wondered what the students would think if they knew their school was named after a Pagan Goddess? (pg 32)”I no longer think that is a fair question. Though Brigit to me, and to most NeoPagans, is a goddess as well as a saint, I believe now that historically this was not likely the case, that it is a much more recent fusion. I won’t get into the argument for that here, just say that I would not ask that question in the same way, now.Brigit in Legacy of DruidsApart from my interview (pg 29-39), Brigit is mentioned a couple of times by other interviewees. Lady Olivia Roberston has an amusing reference to the “silliest poem” used by Ross Nicholls (progenitor of the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids) in honour of Brigit in his early Imbolc rituals.

    “It rather went like this … ‘Ah, sure now, we invoke the golden-haired blue-eyed Brighid, the sweet Brighid who gives us the good cow’s milk.’ This ghastly image … ” Pg. 51

    On to the Main Review!

    Synopsis: A thoughtful, chatty book—reading it is like visiting, mead in hand and cross-legged on the forest floor, or sipping tea and nibbling dainties in an overstuffed chair, one fascinating person after another as they reflect, through their spiritual history, opinion, and advice, an exciting time in the evolution of modern Druidry and Celtic Neo-Paganism. Far from giving a single self-praising paean, the subject is pondered with care, scepticism, and occasional grumpiness from a multitude of viewpoints.

    Druidism is a way of life. For some it is a religion. But either way, it is a belief system that honors the natural world in its many manifestations, a system that can work with other religious beliefs or stand just as well on its own … No one’s perception of it is quite the same.
    TopazOwl (pg. 102)

    The interviews for Legacy of Druids were done twenty and more years ago, in pubs, at gatherings, through letters and email. One might expect they would be a little stale after so long, perhaps no longer relevant, but this isn’t so. Indeed, with updated information tucked around the interviews where needed, they are an absorbing read, all the more so with the advantage of hindsight. They are fuelled by stories of each subject’s spiritual path, their vision and practice, their concerns and hopes for the movement, and by their diverse perceptions of the history and meaning of Druidry. Hopman, herself a modern Druid, and therefore versed in much of the history and many of the issues of the movement, asks brief, broad questions and allows the interviewee to take flight.

    The text is broken into four sections: “Druidry of the Spirit”, “Druidry and Politics”, “Scholars and Writers”, and “Musicians, Artists and Poets”, with introductory materials by Hopman, John Matthews (1996), and Philip Carr-Gomm (2015). Carr-Gomm’s “Failed Predictions, Hopes and Fears” and “The Core Issues”  give a useful overview for those (like me) who are not intimately acquainted with modern Druidry. Some of his comments seem a touch anti-Celtic Reconstructionist, which is unfortunate, but this is not a theme of the book.

    Elsewhere, Ronald Hutton gives a comparison of UK and American NeoPaganism, and, in greater detail, of British Druids and Wiccans, including in his observations the “interesting ironies”—or inconsistencies—found in each path.

    Erynn Rowan Laurie covers a lot of ground in her interview, offering many elements of belief and practice gleaned from the study of the ancient Celts which can be employed in our own practice. Although she is in the “Scholars and Writers” section, her views on the spiritual and social practice of poetry, her call to live out Celtic values like strength, honesty, and strong community relationships, and her final behest that we “Pursue the Salmon of Wisdom” (pg 215) struck strong chords in me in terms of my own spiritual practice.

    Idealism, hope, humour, and contemplation fill the book. I think the greatest value for me is the opportunity to see the unfolding of each individual’s spiritual path—the seeds in their young lives that led them to grow in the ways they have, and the fruits that are born of those seeds. The unselfconscious innocence of these stories is moving and often inspiring. It is fascinating to peek into the heads of such a broad array of practitioners, from the most practical to the utterly fey, to learn what they are reacting to both in the greater world and within modern Druidry and NeoPaganism, and how they and their companions have helped to shape those paths. The unique voice of each subject, expressing their intentions, their paths, how they have structured their groups and why, kept me absorbed long after I had intended to stop reading each night. They base there practice on received spirit communications, on meditations and dreams, on the teachings of friends and family, on knuckle-biting scholarly research, or on a combination of these. Some don’t identify strictly as druids, but follow a Celtic-inspired path. Portrayals of meetings between modern Druids and Catholics, of Druid groups splitting off from or working together with others, and so on lend the juice of gossip to the mix.

    I am intrigued, too, to see how various practitioners conceive of the history and meaning of Druidry, and what they choose to focus on within that understanding. Some of the ideas of ancient times and lineages read like wholecloth pseudo-history, where other histories seem grounded to greater and lesser degrees in evidence-based scholarship. I can’t help squirming when I read occasional assertions of what long dead people believed and how they behaved when I am pretty sure we can’t possibly know. But of course it’s not the purpose of this book to define for the reader the True History of Druidism. It is to learn the beliefs of modern Druids, and their views of their history are as individual and informative as their religious beliefs.

    Just as definitons of Druidry vary, ideas of who is a Celt, or who is entitled to follow such a path, are disparate. For instance, Kaledon Naddair in his rough and righteous rant warns against the misguided appropriation of Celtic culture: “ … the only people that have an automatic entitlement to the riches of the Keltic cultural tradition are Kelts! Kelts by race, birth, language and cultural upbringing in Keltic homelands! (pg 198)” Equally firm about the need to steer away from cultural appropriation and support the struggles of Celtic peoples is Erynn Rowan Laurie. “Respect for modern Celtic communities and languages [is] essential. The Celtic people are still under siege in all their remaining lands. Languages are dying, as are traditional practices, songs and stories. Going about trying to recreate something 2000 years old while ignoring the plight of those people’s descendants is nothing short of arrogant and disrespectful (pg 204)”.  However, her view of who might legitimately follow a Celtic Pagan path differs from Naddair. “I think that inclusiveness is important. We can’t rely on genealogy or geography to determine who is ‘Celtic’. The historical Celts roamed all over Europe, and lands beyond. Anyone worthy might be taken into the tribe through marriage or adoption (pg 205)”.

    In the end, I’m not sure what percentage of what is represented here is very closely linked to the ancient Celtic world-view—or what little we actually understand of it—though of course this varies from interview to interview. But what it does undoubtedly contain is a modern world-view that is lively, thoughtful, and filled with insights, which does indeed have elements of the ancestors’s ways, or at the very least a reverence for those ancestors, a reverence for the earth we are born of, and a joie de vivre that must ensure its continuation into the future. How we may see modern Druidry in another twenty years is a tantalizing question indeed.

    Summary

    I am delighted to have read this book. It is interesting, it is useful, and it helps to set a framework to our endeavours and remind us of what we are as Celtic-inspired NeoPagans: what we aspire to, what our responsibility is to ourselves and to our world. If our practice as NeoPagans of any stripe does what so many of these practitioners are in part attempting to do—change our relationship to self and others and shift our impact on the earth and her children for the better—then it is far more than a self-rooted exercise, however pleasant or helpful, it is a gift of healing to the world. For it to be such, we need to live up to the ideals we put forward in interviews like these, and leave factionalism and self-interest behind.

    Posted by  Mael Brigde

  • Secret Medicines from Your Garden gets coverage in Mother Earth Living!
    SecretMedicinesofGarden

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A Druid’s Web Log – Help for Nepal and other ways to help the planet

There is quite a bit of news this Moonth, possibly because so many of us have finally woken up from our winter slumbers. Below you will find news you can use, actions to help the planet and her people, and the usual archeology, herbal, nature, religion and Druid fare.

Regarding that horrible oil spill in California that is killing birds and sea life and the big drilling rig that everyone has been protesting in Seattle, here are my thoughts;

Instead of deploying troops to defend oil fields in the Middle East why not send troops to *protect* the Arctic from oil drilling? I believe a major strategic worry for our “leaders” is that if we don’t extract the oil someone else will. Send in the troops to keep others away from the land, animals, fish breeding grounds, etc. and for once, act in a way to protect the planet. At the same time we need a massive investment in wind, solar, bio-mass, geothermal and radical conservation. (Not nukes because we still have no idea how to handle the radioactive waste).

NATIVE AMERICANS IN NEW ENGLAND

ACTIONS TO HELP THE PLANET

NEPAL AID

  • *Please help send an acupuncturist to Nepal*Hello Dear friends, family, patients, acquaintances, etc.It is with the blessings and support of my family that I request need of your help to get to Nepal this October with Acupuncturists Without Borders. It has been a lifelong goal of mine to attend at least one Acupuncturists Without Borders Campaign. I was already considering the Nepal trip before the earthquakes and now I feel utterly compelled to do all I can to help.Any amount donated is helpful.  Please spread the word far and wide on your social media and email accounts.  I can’t do this without you.In love and service,Asherah Allen, Lic. Ac.

NEPAL UPDATE

  • As the Patrick McCollum Foundation prepares to fund and transport its second relief effort up into the high mountain villages in the northern regions of Nepal, major news sources report total devastation and extreme suffering in the area.  As shared before, the Patrick McCollum Foundation had targeted the remote mountain regions early on, specifically because we believed that that would be the area least served by the major NGOs.  As it turns out, our assessment was correct.  Those areas are in exactly the predicament we most feared.Government aid and the large NGOs have been unable to reach the mountain areas due to muddy roads, steep trails, and lack of professional guides.  This has left many still dying from injuries and exposure up there.  The death toll continues to rise, and the area is now being called the hardest hit.We are still collecting donations and every little bit helps.  Most importantly, the victims need tents, blankets, food and basic medical supplies which is what we are focusing on.  These of course are only temporary solutions to ease the immediate suffering.  The United Nations has issued an international plea for help and this will be a long hall situation.  The Patrick McCollum Foundation is a small NGO.  All of our projects are funded 100% by your donations, and our ability to respond is directly commensurate with your giving.  While we do not have the ability to support larger long term aid, our international connections and local connections in the area combined with our quick assessment and response time, placed us amongst the first to respond where it mattered most.  I personally am proud of that and of those in my community who showed up quickly.If you cannot donate, please take a moment to share your prayers with the people of Nepal.  They need all of the help they can get!Donations can be made online.100% of all donations go to the earthquake victims, not our overhead.

*Some of my upcoming speaking events*

  • MUTTON AND MEAD REN FAIRE
    Western Massachusetts
    June 20/21
    I will be signing books at “Ye Celtic Books and Herbals”
  • ADVANCED FORMULA MAKING AND CASE TAKING CLASS
    September 5-6, 2015
    119 Cherry Ct, Matamoras PA 18336
    Advanced case taking and formula making class with Ellen Evert Hopman, Herbalist AHG
    Learn Basic Five Element Theory; seasons, flavors, taste, voice tone, emotions
    Learn the basics of Facial Diagnosis; lines, colors, moles, blemishes
    And learn an advanced formula making technique to design individually crafted remedies for individuals
    In-between we will walk outside and meet some of the plants and trees in the garden and make some remedies to take home.
    Weekend Fee $125 which includes class, lunches, and supplies.
    Please send fee to Marjorie Forbes Spadoni 119 Cherry Ct, Matamoras PA 18336
    If you need to stay over locally there is a Best Western 5 minutes away. Local campgrounds and on site camping are also available.
    484-347-7489 for more info
  • A TALK ABOUT HERBS AND DRUIDS (podcast)
  • ADVANCED FORMULA MAKING AND CASE TAKING CLASS
    September 25-26-27, Philo, California (near Mendocino)
    Advanced case taking and formula making class with Ellen Evert Hopman, Herbalist AHG
    A Friday night lecture on the Doctrine of Signatures.
    On Saturday and Sunday you will learn basic Chinese Five Element Theory; seasons, flavors, taste, voice tone, emotions and the fundamentals of Facial Diagnosis; lines, colors, moles, blemishes
    You will also learn an advanced formula making technique to design individually crafted remedies for individuals
    In-between we will walk outside and meet some of the plants and trees in the garden.
    The Philo School of Herbal Energetics website has information on directions & lodging. $150 for the weekend;
    Lodging: They do not offer lodging. Please go to the Anderson Valley Chamber of Commerce page for available lodging.
  • SIX MONTH HERBAL INTENSIVE IN WESTERN MA (near Amherst, MA)
    October 17, 2015 – April, 2016
    Two Saturdays a month, 1-5 PM
    The Western Massachusetts School of Herbal Studies
    Intro to Herbalism and Self Care
    With Ellen Evert Hopman M.Ed. ~ Registered Herbalist AHG, author of “Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore“, “A Druid’s Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year”, “A Druids Herbal – Of Sacred Tree Medicine” and other books and DVDs
    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.
    Cost: $1,000.00 (plus a $100.00 non-refundable Xeroxing fee)
    MA NURSES CAN GET CEUS BY TAKING THIS COURSE

ACTION NEEDED, MORE THINGS YOU CAN DO

  • Fire Cider Update May 26, 2015 — Hello Free Fire Cider Supporters!
    Check this new development out in our newsletter attached to this message…
    SHOCKING NEW LAWSUIT! The cider is hitting the fan!Three herbalists have been sued by Shire City Herbals The “Fire Cider 3” need your support
  • RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION IN THE US ARMED SERVICES US Navy discontinues religious services for minority religions. I’m assuming you’ve seen the news about a Navy recruitment center’s discontinuation of religious services for minority faiths, including Pagans. Lady Liberty League is asking for contacts in the Navy and also for support from other Pagan groups in seeking a resolution to this issue. View the Wild Hunt article here.Some progress appears to be made, but things are still in process.  Any Pagans, Heathens, Wiccans, Druids, Pantheists, and/or related paths who are active duty Navy, Navy veterans, Navy civilian support — please email ASAP.

Below you will find the last Moonth’s crop of archeology, religion, nature and ethics news. *Please remember – you can purchase signed books from this website!*

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All blessings of the Summer light! Please consider purchasing a book from this website – you will get a signed copy and a personal note!