December blog 2016 Keeping the faith in the gathering darkness

We are finally getting some rain here on the mountain. The land has been so parched that my well went dry twice. Each time I had to wait days to use the water, relying on sponge baths and bottled fare. I have never seen conditions like this in New England.
The Canada geese left for the winter about a week ago and the local lake seems barren without them. A few wild ducks are hanging on.

I have a new animal neighbor – a black squirrel has appeared here in the oak forest where I have been for thirty years now. It’s the first time I have seen one in my neck of the woods. For me, black birds such as raven and crows have always heralded deep magic, luck and prosperity. I meditated on the meaning of the black squirrel and what I received was the word “gathering”.

Faced as we are with a very backwards looking new administration (“Let’s make America great again” like it was in the good old days when blacks had few rights and women knew their place) the only way we will overcome the bigotry is by “gathering”. Gathering together in our groups, gathering together to share information and resources, gathering together to oppose the primitive agenda of the great kleptocrat (klep·to·crat ˈkleptəˌkrat/ noun: kleptocrat; plural noun: kleptocrats a ruler who uses political power to steal his or her country’s resources) who says he has no reason to put his massive, international business interests into a blind trust because “the rules don’t apply to him”.

We are already seeing this in the gathering of Native Americans at Standing Rock, water protectors from just about every indigenous nation have come together in a historic effort to preserve the water for millions. We are seeing this in the preparations for a million woman march in DC on inauguration day.

Bill Moyers says it all in a powerful essay on where we are now as a nation. This all could have been avoided if half the eligible voters in America had bothered to make their voices heard. Hillary won the popular vote by two million, but the Great Deceiver managed to win the electoral college – at least as of this writing. Folks are also gathering together to try and oust him before December 19. Stay tuned. We live in fascinating times.

I am working on two books at the moment – a re-release of the old classic “Tree Medicine-Tree Magic” and a book about New England Witches. What with herb classes and a day job, I am keeping myself busy.

Below is the usual collection of book news, nature, climate, archealogy, religion, Celtic and ethics news. Looking forward to Winter Solstice and the return of the Light. May we all receive what we wish for.

A million woman march is being planned for January 21 in Washington DC, but local marches are happening too. Here is one: Boston Women’s March – January 21 12PM-3PM (Alternative to DC) Sat 12 PM · Boston Common

And don’t forget the Standing Rock water protectors as they face the coming winter. You can send cash or checks or donate via PayPal.

Checks or cash may be sent to:
Oceti Sakowin Camp
P.O. Box 298, Cannon Ball, ND 58528

*And please consider buying books for Christmas. If you order from this website you get a signed copy with a personal note! Please specify who you want the books signed to!*

Here’s a thoughtful essay on the financial plight of authors


  • On Thursday, December 29 I will be speaking on the radio at 9 PM – you can tune in here.
  • A new literary journal, “Enheduanna”, is born. I have a piece in there! Published just once a year, they are seeking contributions.
  • Legacy of Druids

    Legacy of Druids

    This book is a fascinating collection of interviews gathered together by Ellen Evert Hopman from some of the most influential people in the pagan/druid world covering the USA, Canada and Britain. It offers a unique view into the modern day world of druidry, what gives it an interesting spin is that the interviews were all carried out in and around 1996 – it is a wonderful time hop to see how druidry was perceived then and what the expectations were and compare them to now.

  • Review in “Green Egg” Samhain 2016 edition A Legacy of Druids By Ellen Evert Hopman, along with a forward by Phillip Carr-Gomm. This book is a compilation of interviews done by Ms. Hopman with prominent Druids over the course of the last twenty years. Interviewees include Phillip Carr-Gomm, Isaac Bonewits, and Arthur Uther Pendragon, along with Practitioners in Spirit such as Olivia Robertson and Susan Henssler ,as well as many scholars such as Ronald Hutton.
    This book shows a unique perspective of the history and development of Modern Druidry. This is indeed a must-read book by anyone following the Druid path, as well as anyone interested in Magickal history. One of my personal favorite quotes from the book is by an Anishinaabe, Elder of the Ojibwa:
    “It is time for the old Earth spirituality of the Europeans to start coming back. We are in real trouble if it doesn’t. People really need to start turning to their own ancestors for help. This is what needs to happen. Some people will be afraid of this. Why else would they burn everyone over there? If you’re following the lead of the Old Ones and people are afraid or critical of you, you know you are doing something right”.
    Once again, I give Legacy of Druids my highest recommendation and certainly hope there is a second edition coming, re-interviewing the same people who are available.









New Year’s 2013 – musing on Owls and Guns

Of Owls and Guns and a Brave New Year

As I was driving home late one night after attending a local contra dance I felt something hit the front of the car. I pulled over and discovered that a small grey spotted owl was stuck in the grill. I pulled it off and felt for a heart beat but it was already dead. The creature had beautiful yellow eyes that were still open, and beautiful little orange feet. It was no more than eight or so inches long and felt like a tiny child in my hand.

I took the owl home and placed it on my altar for two nights. Then I buried it in the center of the stone circle behind the house, wrapped in a cloth. I sprinkled some tobacco and sage on the ground and sang a few songs to its Spirit. I felt great sadness at the passing of the tiny perfect creature and it occurred to me that the owl that had passed was somehow connected to the terrible shootings of children in Newtown, Connecticut. I also felt that the Owl Spirit was working with me as an ally. I have been actively calling my political representatives demanding gun control and posting about this online ever since.

It was awful to hear a Whitehouse representative say “Now is not the time to talk about gun control.” the day after the shooting. That is exactly what they have said after every instance of mass murder and then they did nothing further to stop the carnage. It was even worse to hear the NRA’s insane prescription; that there be an armed guard or armed teachers in every school. These killings have taken place in movie theaters, shopping malls, parking lots and fast food restaurants. Are we supposed to have an armed guard on every corner? Is this the country we want? The NRA is now obviously nothing but a lobby for gun manufacturers.

The ancient Druids were the political advisors to royalty and nobles. As a Druid I have long felt the calling to speak up on issues that affect my community, state and world. I hope that everyone will make their voices heard on this, otherwise the only advice the politicians will hear is that of the gun lobby. (see below for links to online petitions and articles related to the appalling number of guns and gun murders in the USA).

We live in a culture that revels in violence. The Newtown, Connecticut killer was a fan of violent video games. A child who grows up with those begins to see that world as “normal”. Many young men in our culture can no longer see a future for themselves so the way to fame and glory in their minds is to kill those who are defenseless.

We have removed art and music from many schools because so little value is placed on creativity, even though art fosters critical thinking and music helps with math skills. Artists, creative writers and musicians are usually the most peaceful and gentle of souls and creativity fosters a sense that you can seek unique and different ways to live in our society, other than killing people to gain fame.

The killer’s mother was a gun “collector”. She thought that having more guns around would keep her safe. Obviously the more guns are at hand the more chance they will be used against a family member. Why weren’t her guns locked up? Why weren’t they kept secure and away from her mentally ill son? Why did she think six guns in her home were a good idea? This addiction to guns is a national illness that needs to be addressed.

A family that needs to hunt for food is using guns ethically (provided they know what they are doing, can kill the animal cleanly and not shoot fellow humans). The Newtown killer bought hundreds of rounds or stole them from his mother, anyone who buys hundreds of rounds should have to undergo a background check. No one needs an assault rifle or rapid fire pistol to hunt food for the table.

The Second Amendment calls for a “well regulated militia”. It is time that limits were once again placed on that amendment. The First Amendment has limits (you can’t cry “fire” in a crowded theater) and we all accept that. It was only recently, under pressure from the NRA, that the Supreme Court decided to ignore the first half of the Second Amendment and promote the last sentence as if the “right to bear arms” means every lunatic, child and untrained person has the “right” to walk around with a weapon. To read more, visit So You Think You Know the Second Amendment?

We need rational measures to stop the gun violence in this country. Close the gun show loop hole that still allows 40% of weapons to be sold with no background check. Re-instate the assault weapons ban (no one needs an assault weapon to hunt a deer or turkey for the table). Ban rapid fire pistols and clips. Investigate anyone who buys hundreds of rounds of ammunition over the internet (make sure they have a background check). Buy back the assault weapons that are out there and incarcerate those who buy, sell or use them in crimes from now on.

Also, the “R” rating should be placed on all videos and movies with massive violence. At the moment slight nudity earns an “R” rating while mass murder and mayhem earns a “PG-13″. That needs to be reversed. And look at the societal stresses that are causing young men to go berserk because they can’t imagine a future for themselves. Why is it just to have a tiny number of millionaires and billionaires who fight to keep wages so low that most of us struggle just to have a home, food and health care? The men who commit these crimes are symptoms of a very sick society.

The Owl that found me was apparently a Saw Whet Owl;read more on Owl symbolism.

On a more spiritual note, I had a beautiful Solstice a few weeks back, spent on a high windy hill in a house with about one hundred other folks. We invoked the ancestors who celebrated Solstice 26,000 years ago at the start of the previous cycle, and thanked them. Then we invoked the people of the future, 26,000 years from now, who will celebrate again on our planet. We visualized the planet that we wished them to have with clean waters, healthy land, and peace.

I put out a blue glass bowl and left it overnight to collect the rain, snow, moonlight and the sun light of the Solstice morning. An auspicious brew to herald the start of the new 26,000 year cycle. I will use it to anoint persons and things at the start of new projects.

I was blessed to spend New Years Eve in meditation at the Sirius Community, a Findhorn offshoot right here in Massachusetts. It was very spiritual and quiet, just the way I like it!


In my book Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore I discuss “The Airts” or the twelve winds of ancient Celtic cosmology. It is an ancient tradition to step outside at midnight to test the wind, and make a prediction for the coming year. I like to do this when starting a journey and any time I need to begin an important undertaking.

By tradition the winds have the following qualities;

  • East Wind (gaoth an ear)
    Its color is purple (corcur) a color that implies nobility (because only nobles were allowed to wear the color purple) and art.
  • East South East Wind (gaoth an ear ear-dheas)
    Its color is yellow (buidhe) and it is a good wind for fruit, fish and corn.
  • South South East Wind (gaoth a deas ear-dheas)
    Its color is red (dearg) and it is a good Wind for fishing, luck and prosperity.
  • South Wind (gaoth a deas)
    Its color is white (geal) and it brings a rich harvest.
  • South South West Wind (gaoth a deas iar-dheas)
    Its color is pallid (glas) or grey-green. It brings blight, battle and poor harvests.
  • West South West Wind (gaoth an iar iar-dheas)
    Its color is green and it brings healing. It is the Wind of the Mothers.
  • West Wind (gaoth an iar)
    Its color is dun (pale) (odhar) and it brings the death of a king, bloodshed, and justice.
  • West North West Wind (gaoth an iar iar-thuath)
    Its color is grey (liath) and it brings death, slaughter, and the fall of blossoms.
  • North North West Wind (gaoth an iar-thuath)
    Its color is dusky, swarthy, sable, gloomy (ciar) and it brings grumbling, quarrels and sternness but also strength and vindication. It can sweep away disease.
  • North Wind (gaoth a tuath)
    Its color is black (dubh) and it brings battle magic and drought.
  • North North East Wind (gaoth a tuath ear-thuath)
    Its color is dark grey (teimheil) and it brings sickness and battle venom.
  • East North East Wind (gaoth an ear ear-thuath)
    Its color is speckled (aladh) and it brings enchantments and magic.

(From Hopman, Ellen Evert, Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore, Pendraig Publishing, Los Angeles 2010, PP. 37-38.  Please do not copy or reproduce unless properly attributed!)

And finally, here are the past Moonth’s gleanings from the media and elsewhere;










Wishing all who read this blog a very healthy and happy and prosperous and peaceful New Year!