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

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CLIMATE AND NATURE NEWS

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POLITICS AND ETHICS

 

A Druid’s Web Log – A Harvest of Acorns

The big news this Moonth has been ACORNS. This amazing food source is available to us for free, wherever there are oak trees. Our European ancestors relied on them for carbohydrates, thousands of years before wheat ever made an appearance. If you are lucky enough to have a White Oak tree (Quercus alba) leaching won’t be much of a problem. For all other oaks you:

  1. collect the nuts
  2. smash them one at a time between two rocks and pick out the meat
  3. immediately drop the meat into a bowl of fresh water so they don’t oxidize
  4. grind the nuts in a blender
  5. store in the fridge, covered with water for 2 weeks, changing the water every day
  6. strain and bake the ground up nuts in a slow over (80 – 100 degrees) for about a hour with the oven door slightly open to let out steam
  7. grind in a coffee grinder and make into flour.

You will find recipes for acorn cakes, breads, etc. in my newest herbal SECRET MEDICINES FROM YOUR GARDEN (Healing Arts Press).

Acorns are an amazing crop that can feed humanity without cutting, killing, tearing up the soil, or using water for irrigation.

PLEASE make sure you are registered to vote. THEN GO AND VOTE! The future of the Earth is at stake, the Supreme Court, and many other things!

*Below you will find the usual assortment of book news, archaeology, nature, climate, Druid, Fairy, religion, herb and health news. Enjoy!*

BOOK NEWS

  • Secret Medicines from Your Garden: Plants for Healing, Spirituality, and Magic
    Written by Lisa Mc Sherry
    Published: 17 September 2016
    I have old favorites in my book collection, especially amongst my herbals. My copy of Cunningham’s Encyclopedia is dog-eared and just this side of tattered.
    I’ve got a new favorite to add to that shelf.
    Hopman starts off with an unusual choice, a chapter on wild crafting. It’s odd and brilliant and wonderful to be introduced to this subject through the eyes of an herbalist and druid. Hopman takes us through the seasons, ending with a chapter on (winter) cold and flu care and then bug repellents. Honestly, that section alone made me happy.
    The reader is then treated to discussions on more subtle aspects of the plant world, including herbal astrology and communing with the plant spirits. I fell in love with Secret Medicines all over again with her chapter on Bee Medicine in the third part. I was completely impressed with her final section: Formula Making.
    It was odd to get used to, but I came to appreciate how plants are the focus in one section, only to sprout again in another, thus revealing new information that may be overlooked by others. I also appreciated how Hopman constantly encourages the reader to make whatever path they walk their own.
    This is an excellent primer and highly recommended.
    ~review by Lisa Mc Sherry
    Author: Ellen Evert Hopman
    Healing Arts Press, 2016
    pp. 384, $19.45*You can purchase this book and others through this website and get a signed copy with a personal note!* *Yule is coming!*
  • An interview on blog talk radio 9/20/2016 – my part starts at mark 1:07
  • September 15, 2016 A radio interview   WMCB-lp 107.9FM
    Low Power Radio for Greenfield Massachusetts & Franklin County

ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

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