Home » A Druid's Blog » December Blog 2017 – Hoping for Peace and Joy at the Winter Solstice

December Blog 2017 – Hoping for Peace and Joy at the Winter Solstice

So far November and early December have been mostly sunny and even warm here on the mountain. The drought we experienced this summer seems to have ended. At this time of year the hunters are all around and I hear gun shots every day, sometimes the ravens come to tell me about it, when something is killed nearby. There’s not much I can do except feel sad and pray for the Spirits of the deer.

I recently gathered Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus)  for eating and Turkey Tails (Tramedes versicolor) for tincturing. The latter are an immune modulating fungus. Most conch shaped mushrooms growing out of trees are medicinal for the immune system, and none of them (at least in New England) are poisonous.

To tincture a woody shelf fungus you first soak it in alcohol for a few weeks and then later cook it as a broth, then combine the two liquids. That’s because different things are extracted in alcohol and in water. The Chicken of the Woods freezes beautifully for eating all winter.

On a more personal note, like many Americans I have been exploring my ancestry. My mother always told us her maternal line were French Huguenots. What a surprise then to find out that her maternal line is almost entirely Slovenian! Oddly, I was born in Austria, which sits right next to Slovenia. I found out that Slovenia has gorgeous mountains, just like the Tyrol. Another interesting fact is that Slovenia has a beautifully progressive social safety net for all its citizens, and its not even a rich country.

As Americans suffer through the newest tax plan where Republican House members and Senators just voted to raise taxes on the middle class, increase health insurance premiums, leave 13 million more people uninsured, and explode the deficit by more than $1 trillion, and as Republicans also work to cut Medicare, heating assistance for the disabled, poor and elderly, school programs, meals on wheels and other bare necessities, I hope we will look to other developed nations to see how they manage to care for their people. Because this country is certainly going in the opposite direction at breakneck speed.

Back to Slovenia. Here are basic benefits that all citizens enjoy ;

  • National Health Care for all
  • All health benefits for children and youth including diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation
  • Counseling in family planning, contraception, pregnancy and childbirth care
  • Preventive care, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases including HIV
  • Treatment and rehab for diseases, transplants, emergency care including transportation, nursing care visits and care in the home and in institutions.
  • All employees get unemployment insurance and self-employed citizens can also insure themselves against unemployment
  • If a citizen gets sick their employer pays an allowance to them for 30 days after which the government covers the allowance, based on the worker’s average monthly pay in the past calendar year. Such coverage includes time off for transplanting tissue or organs for another person’s benefit, donating blood, caring for a family member and injuries.
  • Maternal leave lasts 105 days starting 28 days before a woman’s due date. She will receive an allowance from the government based on her past years average pay.
  • Paternal leave is 90 days. For the 15 days after the child is born the father receives 100% of his average pay. For the next 75 days he receives minimum wage.
  • One parent has the right to leave for 260 days after maternity leave expires. The allowance from the government is based on average pay in the preceding 12 months.
  • Every Slovenian child is entitled to a free education – aged three through college (Americans can attend college for free in Slovenia too, most classes are taught in English)
  • Parents can also collect a child allowance to help with maintenance and education costs, based on the average monthly income of the family in the past year.
  • Other parental allowances include a large-family grant, childcare allowance and partial payment for loss of earnings.
  • There are compulsory old age pensions too.

Guess what? Slovenians are healthier than we are. The US spends more per capita on health care than most developed nations and we have the highest maternal death rate and child poverty rate. We also have a lower life expectancy than most developed nations.

What is wrong with this picture? What can the USA learn from tiny Slovenia? Do they live longer because they don’t have the anxiety of losing their savings, house and home if they get sick? Are they more relaxed because the government helps them take care of their tiny, vulnerable children, instead of just yacking about “family values”? And why are the happiness and well being of already rich corporations and of billionaires more important than the health, happiness and welfare of the average American? Isn’t that what Democracy is supposed to be about?

By the time you read this you will likely be thinking of your Winter Solstice celebration. I wish everyone peace and joy in the coming year, because we are certainly going to need it.


 Very glad you guys like the books. We are still working on making a film happen AND WE NEED EVERYONE’S SUPPORT!


There is currently a sale going on for this botanical tour of the west coast of Ireland. I am not leading the tour, rather I hope to be going on it! There are still a few open spaces – highly recommended!


Speaking of herbs, here is a recent podcast lecture by me;

The Doctrine of Signatures



Anyone who buys 2 or more copies from me also gets a free herbal DVD!

*Reminder – you can order books from my website and get a signed copy with a personal note*


Nice that they included my kids herbal “Ellen Evert Hopman; Walking the World In Wonder (2000, Healing Arts Press).

“Although it’s geared towards kids who can read on their own, this book on herbalism is one that parents can use with their younger children as educational fun. Pictures and easy to follow descriptions convey what herbs are available at different times of the year, and what their purposes are. The sections are divided among the eight Sabbats, as well, so a child can learn what sorts of herbs might be picked at Beltane as opposed to later on when Mabon rolls around. Very cute book, easy to use.”









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