A Druid’s Web Log – Make a June garden for butterflies, bees and lightening bugs

In Celtic tradition it isn’t summer until the hawthorns bloom. Keeping to schedule, the local hawthorns bloomed mid-May. We had a terrible ice storm a few years ago and my Irish hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) raised from seed I brought back from Uisneach in county Meath, finally recovered enough this year to be covered in blossoms on at least one side of the tree. That tree is a favorite of the local bees. Years ago I used to get masses of honey bees who would stumble drunkenly from flower to flower. These days it’s mostly small wild bees and bumble bees.

As I write this it is the time of the Irises. I recently realized that this is the way I tell time. First its crocus time followed closely by Forsythia time, then there is Tulip and Dandelion time for a few weeks, and then the Lunaria take pride of place. Later in the summer it is the time of the Day Lilies who spring up like Fourth of July rockets. After that the Phlox, Raspberries and Blackberries have their moment, followed by the Elderberries and Tomatoes. In the fall it’s the asters of course, and the fabulous New England leaves.

The lightening bugs have re-appeared this week, along with a few butterflies and June bugs. If you live in a city you will never notice this, but living in the country it becomes quite obvious. Fields that are left to go wild, where native wildflowers abound, will be covered in the flashing Fairy lights of the lightening bugs. Across the street where some home owner or corporation has mowed, the lights suddenly disappear.

In old Scottish tradition it was imperative to keep a “Goodman’s Croft” or a wild space on your property, just for the Fairies. As is usual with these kinds of traditions, there is profound practical value to this practice. Without a wild corner of the field, lawn or garden, a place that no human is allowed to tread, the butterflies, bees and lightening bugs have no sustenance. It’s not just spraying that is doing them in. Please think about this as you plan your garden spaces.

In other news, I am presently re-editing the old classic TREE MEDICINE TREE MAGIC which has been out of print for over a decade. I am adding new recipes and other bits in the hopes of bringing it back into print.

Below is the usual fare of book news, herbal updates, archeology, religion, politics and ethics. Please enjoy the bounty. *And remember – you can order a book from this site and get a signed copy with a personal note!*

May your gardens be full of de-light!

UPCOMING WORKSHOPS

  • A TREE WORKSHOP IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
    Celtic Tree Lore class with Ellen Evert Hopman
    July 23,24 2016
    Misty Meadows Herbal Center
    183 Wednesday Hill Road
    Lee, NH 03861
  • HERBAL TRAINING IN MASSACHUSETTS
    October 15, 2016 – April, 2017
    Two Saturdays a month, 1-5 PM near Amherst, MA
    My usual six month herbal intensive in the Amherst area starts October 15, 2016
    Cost: $1000 plus a $100.00 nonrefundable Xeroxing fee
    My books include; “Secret Medicines From Your Garden” , “Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore“, “A Druid’s Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year”, “A Druids Herbal – Of Sacred Tree Medicine“, “Secret Medicines of Your Kitchen
    DETAILS: 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, 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.Stay tuned for more workshops and events…

BOOK NEWS

  • Another podcast; about Druids this time
  • Finding Druid Deities
  • A Legacy of Druids
  • In this podcast my part starts at 1:32
  • A Legacy of Druids
    Legacy of Druids

    Legacy of Druids

    ”A really interesting new book has been released today – A Legacy of Druids. It’s a collection of interviews with key figures in Druidry made by Ellen Evert Hopman 20 years ago.
    When Ellen asked me to write a foreword for the collection I was worried  – surely the material would be out of date? But once I started reading, I became fascinated. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and this book celebrates hindsight and asks the simple but highly relevant question: what legacy is modern Druidry leaving? We can see what predictions we got right and what we got wrong, what preoccupations are still prevalent in the community, and what have been forgotten. It all makes for a surprisingly good read! It’s available in e:book and paperback on both sides of the Atlantic.” Philip Carr Gomm

  • Secret Medicines from Your Garden: Plants for Healing, Spirituality, and Magic, by Ellen Evert Hopman (Healing Arts Press, $19.95, Paperback)
    Secret Medicines from Your Garden

    Secret Medicines from Your Garden

    “Full of mystical folklore, ancient wisdom, and modern research, this book acts as a guide for exploring herbal lore and the healing power of plants. Ellen Hopman shares the many uses of plants for food, spiritual growth, and magical ritual. She covers everything from simple home-made first aid remedies, remedies from Native American and Egyptian traditions, herbal astrology, and even shamanic Plant Spirit and Animal Spirit Medicine. Hopman also shares tips on how to intuit an unknown plant’s healing properties by using universal indications and contraindications based on different characteristics of each plant.” Conscious Community Magazine

ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

HERB NEWS

GARDENING NEWS

HEALTH NEWS

MENTAL HEALTH NEWS

NATURE NEWS

RELIGION NEWS

FAIRY NEWS

POLITICS AND ETHICS

 

February 2013 blog

Last month I reported that a tiny Saw Whet owl had struck my car. I associated the death of the bird with the then recent gun murders of children in Connecticut, and tried not to see it as a personal omen of impending death. But sadly I was wrong. Within a few weeks my thirteen year old, tortoise shell Soul Cat started going downhill. I took her to the vet and he diagnosed Lymphoma. She had to be put down right there in the office.

The vet was very sensitive to my loss. He wrapped her in a pink towel and placed her in a tiny white cardboard coffin. I brought her back home and buried her in the garden, under the Hawthorn trees that bloom with white blossoms in the Spring and are covered in red berries in the Fall. It is a spot that has become a cat cemetery, two other cats of mine are buried nearby, with natural rocks to mark their graves.

I should have known about the warnings from Owls. A few years ago I had a similar Owl experience as I was washing dishes one evening. It was summer and the kitchen door was open, with only a screen between myself and the three miles of woods behind the house. An Owl started to hoot, right outside the door. I had never heard an Owl that close to the house and I thought it must be on the roof, calling for its mate or its children. The hooting persisted. I thought to myself “Wow, that is a very loud Owl” and I kept washing the dishes. Finally the hooting got even louder and more persistent. It went on for several minutes. Finally I said to the Owl: “OK, I get that this is a message, thank you!” and I knew that someone close to me was about to die.

The next morning I turned on my computer and found out that Celtic scholar and linguist Alexei Kondratiev had passed to the Otherworld the previous day. Alexei was a very important person to me, he collaborated on every one of my books, providing Old Irish and Scottish terms for the glossaries, with pronunciation guides. He was generous to a fault, and never asked for payment. I would send him a smoked wild Alaska salmon after each book came out, by way of thanks. Celto-philes will recognize the symbolism of the “Salmon of Wisdom” and why the gift was so appropriate for him. He was my Druid, the touchstone to whom I went with historical and spiritual questions about the ancient Celts and Indo-Europeans.

(Excerpt from my book SCOTTISH HERBS AND FAIRY LORE, Pendraig Publishing)

Owl – In Scottish Gaelic the owl is called Cailleach Oidhche (the night hag) and is generally associated with Goddesses. In Welsh tradition Lleu had a magical wife created for him out of flowers by the magician Gwydion. When his wife, Blodeuwedd, plotted with her lover Gronw to kill him, Llew escaped by transforming himself into an eagle and flying into a magical oak. After regaining his human form Llew turned his wife into an owl. 9

Seasonally, February first to second (because all Celtic festivals begin on the eve of the festival day and last until sundown the next evening) marks the season of Imbolc, the ancient Celtic festival of the lactation of the ewes, of candle blessings, and of the Goddess Brighid. Here in New England we have a “January thaw” about the end of January each year and I like to think its because Brighid herself is walking across the land, greening the hills where her feet tread. After Imbolc the cold descends again and the world is frozen until early March.

There are very subtle changes happening on the mountain. While the ground is still slushy with melting snow, the Kinnikinnick bushes (Red Osier Dogwood, or Red Willow, Cornus stolonifera ) which the First Nations use to make smoking mixtures for personal prayer and ceremony are flaming red against the backdrop of fog and snow. I suspect the reddening of the branches has to do with the lengthening daylight. Flame-red twigs are also a fitting symbol for the Fire Festival of Brighid, the ancient Celtic healing Goddess who is Patroness of the hearth, the forge, and the fires of poetry and inspiration.

I was privileged to watch a family of muskrats down by the pond, as they added dried rushes to the roofs of their lodges, taking advantage of the thaw. I have found Coyote tracks in the snow behind the house. Beyond that, everything is still frozen in its winter stasis and nature is quiet, slumbering into Spring.

Gwyl Mair (Imbolc):

In my books and articles I have generally been focused on the Irish aspects of the Celtic Fire Festivals. I wanted to understand the “British” take on things so I visited Imbolc in Wales on 12/14/2012 and revisited The Apple Branch – A Path to Celtic Ritual, by Alexei Kondratiev, in order to understand the Welsh aspects of the season. According to tradition Sant Ffraid (Saint Brighid) floated over from Ireland on a piece of turf. (Presumably that is how the Irish Imbolc customs came to Wales).

In Wales Imbolc is called Gwyl Fair y Canhwyllau or “Mary’s festival of the candles” and Gwyl Mair Dechrau’r Gwanwyn or “The Feast of Mary at the Beginning of Spring”.

In English the festival was called “Candlemas” when folk brought their candles to be blessed by placing them on the altar of a church. Candles were also carried in processions or placed in kitchen windows. The mistress of the farm would give the head maid a lighted candle to be used later in the autumn. That candle was to be used during the darkest part of the year, the time for working by candle light, and handed back on February 2nd, when it was light enough that the animals could be fed without the use of a flame.

Divinations were done; two candles were placed on a bench or table and each family member would take a turn sitting between the candles. They would take a drink such as beer from a beaker or horn and then throw the goblet behind them, over their head. If it fell upright that presaged a long life, if it fell bottom up, that meant an early death.

Sunshine on Candlemas Day that meant there would be a good harvest, but if a single crow circled or hovered over the house on Candlemas Eve, that was a bad omen.

* Remember – when you purchase books and DVDs from this site you get a signed copy and a FREE personal note! *

*** Upcoming Workshop Announcement ***

I and my friend Crystalline Ruby Muse, an outstanding Celtic Bard, have created a weekend workshop that will take place this Fall at Earthlands Institute for Environmental Awareness September 20-22, in Western Massachusetts. The workshop is timed for the start of the Fall foliage season, with six vegetarian meals and lodging provided (and airport pickups for those who need them). Folks are registering already, a deposit will hold your space. Find the flier by opening the link below and please share widely!

Celtic Tree Magic Flyer

Celtic Tree Magic Workshop
With Master Herbalist and author Ellen Evert Hopman
And Celtic Bard Crystalline Ruby Muse

Workshop Overview

The ancient Druids of Ireland used the Ogham Tree Alphabet to share coded messages hidden from outsiders. Each letter is named for a tree or plant, and is surrounded with medicinal and spiritual lore. For centuries this language was only transmitted orally in order to protect its secrets.

Using the Auraicept na n-Éces, a 7th century work of Irish scholars, as well as other traditional sources, we will reveal the meaning of this language. We will teach the poetic, spiritual, medicinal and divinatory meanings of these Celtic trees, all of which can be found in North America, in a context useful for modern seekers. We will venture outdoors where we will lead participants in connecting with the trees through meditation, observation, singing and dancing amongst them. Participants will make wands for individual use using the Ogham divinatory meanings as a guide.

We will teach traditional and modern songs and incantations in Irish, Scots Gaelic, and English to deepen the cultural and spiritual context of our work together. The entire course will be interwoven with ceremony created through Celtic Reconstructionist scholarship, offering participants insight into original Celtic polytheistic spiritual practices.

Students will leave with homemade wands and experience in using them; knowledge for using the Ogham as a divinatory tool; deeper awareness of and connection with ancient and extant Celtic culture; some understanding of how to use these trees as medicine; traditional and original songs to sing in Gaelic and English; insight into ritual in a uniquely Celtic context that they can continue to develop in their own spiritual practice; and a greater sense of connection to the spiritual realms as expressed through nature, song, and community ceremony.

This workshop is appropriate for people who are completely new to the Ogham and Celtic Reconstructionist ceremony, as well as people who have some experience but would like to expand their knowledge and skills. It will be roughly one-third lecture, two-thirds participatory experience, which will include space for a question-and-answer format in which to cover the students’ preferred material.

For information on costs, more about the presenters, and the location of the workshop (in Petersham, MA at the beautiful Earthlands Institute for Environmental Awareness) please download the flyer.

Below you will find this Moonth’s assortment news, freshly gleaned from the internet;

NATURE NEWS

CELTIC NEWS

ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

HISTORY

LANGUAGE NEWS

DRUID NEWS

RELIGION NEWS

HEALTH NEWS

POLITICS/ETHICS

May Brighid spread Her cloak of healing, peace, and inspiration over everyone who reads these pages. A blessed Imbolc to all!

* Remember – when you purchase books and DVDs from this site you get a signed copy and a FREE personal note! *