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!*
- A new review just came out….
- A Legacy of Druids: Book review by Ulchabhán
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.
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!
- A Late Archaic burial found in Chihuahua
- First burial barrow constructed in 1000 years
- The oldest shoe ever found
- A Romano-British hoard of silver and gold
- Women at Hadrian’s Wall
- Where the stones for Newgrange were sourced
- Ten of the world’s best ancient cave paintings
- More evidence for how agriculture got started
- Ancient Europeans ate voles, other rodents
- A 4000 year old child’s rattle is found in Siberia
- Stonehenge – the good the bad and the ugly
- A 5000 year old stone map found in Denmark
- A Roman camp found in the UK
- An ancient bear bone that changes Irish history
- Brugh na Boinne (Newgrange) (video)
- A new temple found in Peru
- What color did Vikings paint their houses?
- Cave paintings found in Basque area of Spain
- A new analysis of the Quadriporticus in Pompeii
- Australia’s “Stonehenge” may be world’s oldest observatory
- Untouched Mayan tombs found
- Were ancient Chinese terra cotta warriors based on Greek models?
- Over 400 Roman shoes found at Vindolanda
- 19,000 year old human footprints found in Tanzania
- The 9 tribes of ancient Scotland
- A 1,600 year old untouched buffalo feast found in Alberta
- Evidence that humans had cancer 1.7 million years ago
- Artifacts prove ancient peoples visited glaciers in Wyoming
- Oak trees in Old European culture
- An ancient man in China was buried with Cannabis plants
- Ancient peoples travelled widely
- 1000 prehistoric people to have their genome sequenced
- Foragers were healthier than farmers
- A Mesolithic man and his dog went to Stonehenge
- A Pompeiian house virtually reconstructed
- Is this Ireland’s Stonehenge?
- Metal found in Alaska confirms pre-European indigenous contact trade with Asia
- An Iron Age mound found in England
- A new Bronze Age warrior’s tomb discovered
- How the ancient Native Americans grew crops in salty soil
- 2000 year old Roman face cream found
- Human bones found near a Viking sword
- An ancient reindeer culture is disappearing
- China is putting wild American ginseng on the brink of extinction
- Pine pollen (video)
- Processing acorns (video)
- Eat acorn grubs (really!)
- How to eat sweet chestnuts (NOT horse chestnuts!)
- Stinging nettle soup
- Make acorn brownies
- Maple trees
- Why lawns are suicidal
- DEA to reverse proposed ban on kratom – for now
- Skip the flu shot – use elderberries instead
- Trees as medicine (video) You can learn more about tree medicine from my book A DRUID’S HERBAL OF SACRED TREE MEDICINE – get a signed copy from this web site or find it in the usual places
- Doctors: climate change is now a health crisis. Divest from fossil fuels
- Healthcare worker’s cell phones are contaminated with Staph, MRSA
- Has the human lifespan hit its natural limit?
- A massive uprising of Polish women forced the right wing government to drop an abortion ban
- Bernie takes on the greed of the drug companies
- Caffeine seems to protect older women from dementia
- 25 year old Australian student invents polymers that destroy antibiotic resistant super bugs
- A child dies from gun shots every other day in the USA
- As Flint suffers big pharma raises cost of lead drugs 2,700% in act of pure greed
- Gut bacteria may the cause of migraines (and pro biotics an answer)
CLIMATE AND NATURE NEWS
- World is set to lose 2/3 of wild animals by 2020 study warns
- International whale talks vote down whale sanctuary in southern ocean
- Japan, Norway, Iceland plead for “cultural” whale hunts
- The secret life of trees – how they communicate
- El Nino is over, climate change is not
- Global warming is affecting how the Earth wobbles
- A new way of converting Co2 into a green fuel
- Beautiful map shows every river basin in the USA
- Ancient birds could honk and quack, voice box shows
- A new sauropod found in Australia
- Was Venus the first habitable planet in our solar system?
- After menopause killer whale moms become pod leaders
- A condor appears in New Mexico
- Millions face hunger by 2030 unless agriculture transforms radically, due to climate change
- The true nature of foxes (video)
- ICC urged to take Monsanto to court for crimes against humanity, the planet
- Worms trapped in amber help explain species migration
- Schools are not preparing students for the AI future
- Spiders don’t have ears but they can still hear you coming
- Become a space citizen
- German lawmakers vote to ban the combustion engine by 2030
- Being a climate change hypocrite
- A film about closing nuclear power stations debuts in MA, VT
- Trees have feelings, friends
- Wolves – man’s best friend (video)
- Mega droughts of 35 years duration looming for American southwest, if fossil fuel emissions are not cut
- Climate groups urge more action against fossil fuels
- Scientists sign letter in support of Dakota pipeline protestors
- The latest on wolves, birds and bees
- Dark matter and the movement of galaxies
- Proof that apes have a theory of mind, can guess what others are thinking
- Factory farms – This photo essay is fascinating and frightening. The UN has already said that the solution to most of the world’s problems is small organic farms.
- India is growing record amounts of non-GMO rice, proving that GMOs are not necessary
- Capitalism vs climate – terrifyingly Capitalism is winning
- Fracking industry seeks to punish those who support drilling bans
- Its time to tax fossil fuels and stop subsidizing them
- Bacteria that eat plastic discovered
- Fantastic Fungi (video)
- How to contact the banks funding the Dakota access pipeline that threatens water and all life in the region
- How trees communicate
- International treaty to protect trees worldwide
- The original “Tree Huggers”
- China plans to plant ¼ of its land in forest by 2020
- 7 species of bees in Hawaii declared endangered
- Bumble Bee set to be listed as “endangered species”
- Scientists back Dakota Pipeline fight; citing environmental risks
- Forget Paris – drastic change is needed
- The TPP is a polluter power grab
- Neolithic burial mounds are making a comeback
- The ancient roots of Samhain (Halloween) in Ireland
- What traditional Paganism actually looked like (video)
- Mormons embarrass the rest of the Religious Right by not backing Trump
- Samhain (pronounced “Sow-in”) the Celtic New Year
- A spooky traditional tale of Samhain
- Invocations of Brighid, Goddess and Saint
- Wind on Sea (video)
- Halloween in Ireland
- The Seal (video)
- Rite for the old hag – cutting the Cailleach
- When the birds spoke Gaelic
- Halloween in Northern Ireland
- Samhain (Halloween) in Ireland (video)
- Imbas forosnai
POLITICS AND ETHICS
- Voters face a perfect storm of intimidation on election day
- Protestors arrested, maced at Dakota Pipeline
- KKK officially endorses Trump
- NAACP calls for a moratorium on charter schools
- Sanders and Warren on the stump together; first defeat Trump then fight for a revolution
- A bigger deal than TPP yet Trump and Clinton have not said anything about the TISA agreement
- Flint residents still don’t have clean water
- GOP blocks aid to sick coal miners, fine with lavish pensions for mine owners and CEOs
- Its official. We are now at war in Yemen.
- Why women voters identify with Trump’s accusers
- Germany advises South Africa to dump nukes, coal for green energy
- Pants-suit flash mob dances for Hillary
- Supreme Court upholds ban on guns for domestic abusers, defying NRA
- Homegrown terrorists are motivated by US atrocities abroad, FBI study finds
- Karl Marx – relevant yesterday and still relevant today
- Howard Zinn “war is terrorism multiplied 100 times”
- Mike Pence’s anti-abortion, anti-female positions
- As Trump brags about evading paying taxes, Bernie Sanders is working on a bill to close tax loopholes
- Yahoo has been spying on customers – this is what Snowden warned us against
- Are “pure” diets and Yoga just a distraction from the ravages of Capitalism?
- How Trump avoided paying taxes for 18 years
- Helicopter parents are preventing their children from studying literature, history
- Fundraiser for Dakota Access pipeline protests
- As child poverty in Maine increases, governor keeps diverting TANF funds
- Trump wants to slash Social Security “from a moral standpoint”
- False Equivalency – Trump vs Clinton
- Iceland just sent its bad bankers to jail
- Statistically White Supremacists are a bigger threat to Americans than radical Islam
- Dakota Pipeline protesters ready for winter
- Nasty women have much work to do in this election
- Belgian voters reject corporate trade agenda
- Bernie pledges to hold Democrats feet to the fire
- 75 arrested in Ottawa as Canadians demand climate action from Trudeau
- AT&T is spying on their customers for profit
- Big Pharma about to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to keep drug prices high
- Student debt means minimum wage needs to be much higher – $16 or $17 an hour
- Chris Christie’s career is over, aides say he knew about lane closures before they happened
- Snowden: “journalists are a threatened class” due to government surveillance