Home » A Druid's Blog » September 2012 – mid-harvest and the death of an old Oak

September 2012 – mid-harvest and the death of an old Oak

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Last night we had our first night in the 40’s here on the mountain, and the maples along the roads are already showing faint washes of orange. The crab apples, still mostly green, are starting to blush red, and the Russian Olives, trees denounced as invasive, “illegal aliens”, are providing a vast crop of tart, vitamin packed jewel-like orange berries, a feast for birds and humans alike.

The flower garden is now producing nosegays of purple and white asters, Echinacea, Queen Anne ’s Lace, Goldenrod and Phlox and I am still getting orange and pink roses. I have seen large funnels of hawks and massive flocks of song birds, cresting in waves at sunset, practicing for their imminent migrations.

This summer I experimented with making fennel liqueur, a friend provided me with long stalks and I put the feathery leaves and flowers into jars of vodka, later adding well water and organic sugar. The result was fantastic. I also have Thai Basil liqueur that I will pass along as a Yuletide gift.

Basic Herbal Liqueur Recipe
30 leaves fresh basil (I use more)
1 1/2 cups vodka
1 1/2 cups sugar (I use less)
3/4 cups water

Place herbs and vodka in a clean glass jar with a tight lid. Let stand 6 weeks in a cool, dark place. Shake every few days.

Combine water and sugar in a pan. Heat until the sugar melts completely. Allow to cool.

Strain the vodka and herbs through a cheese cloth or strainer. Combine with the sugar-water mixture and keeps up to 1 year.

You can use Thyme, Basil, Fennel, Bee Balm, Rosemary. I use only organic sugar and herbs and well water. This is an old medieval recipe, in the old days they would have used honey I suppose. My favorite so far has been Thai Basil liqueur.

There are moose tracks in the mud along the stream behind the house. Last night there was a loud thump on the roof followed by the distinct patter of feet. The cats growled and ducked for cover because clearly something horrible was out to get them. I looked out the kitchen door and saw an enormous possum, waddling towards the pile of vegetable scraps in the side yard.

In Memoriam

It is with sadness that I must report the death of an old friend and mentor of mine, the largest White Oak tree in Massachusetts. Some heartless and cruel person thought it would be fun to use the old tree as a fireplace and they lit a fire inside the venerable oak, a tree that was older than the United States.

This tree held magical and spiritual significance for many. I would often go to it and find groups of people, families with kids, basking in the wonder of the giant presence. The place where the tree lived and thrived for centuries was a special location, I remember going there in late autumn and finding that the area surrounding the tree still had blooming flowers when the rest of the hillside was already bare branches. It was as if a cone of protection existed around the tree, or maybe it was the tree itself that was creating the special summer-like conditions. I also suspect that the Fairies and Nature Spirits had a hand in keeping the atmosphere just right. When we photographed the tree mysterious Fairy lights would often appear in the images.

As I got older I appreciated the tree more and more. There is a phenomenon that we all experience as we age, the “thinning of the canopy” of our own family tree. As children we have many older adults to look up to, aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents. With time these branches of our human family start to make their way to the Otherworld and eventually we find ourselves as the only ones remaining at the tree top, with youngsters looking up to us for a change. It’s an odd feeling.

When I would visit the old oak I got to feel like a kid again. I was just a tiny sprite next to its ancient gnarled trunk. Now I have lost a wise and patient counselor, mentor and friend. It feels like a murder.

To add to the tragedy, this is the tree after which the Whiteoak Druid Order was named. I founded the Whiteoak mailing list in 1996. By 1997 we had spent a year discussing “What is a Druid” and “What a Druid is not”. We had created teaching materials, rituals and tools and realized that we had become an Order. We dedicated the Order at Samhain, 1997.

The name “Whiteoak” had come to me in meditation. I live in a forest of red and black oak and I mentally asked the trees what to call the Druid mailing list I had founded. The answer came as a surprise. It wasn’t until years later that I learned the largest Whiteoak in Massachusetts was twenty minutes from my door, the Archdruid of trees in our area.

I feel privileged to have known the tree in its final days. My lifespan is so short; it’s a minor miracle that I got to know it at all.

You can read newspaper accounts of the tragedy here and see the effect this has had on our community;

Here is a beautiful Native American chant that someone sent me, for the spirit of the tree;

Please send your own prayers for the spirit of this tree. And everyone who reads this please reflect on the children around you and how they are being educated to revere and take care of nature. I can’t help but wonder what kind of upbringing the person had who torched this wonderful old tree. Their heart was closed to the beauty and sensitivity of the life of the tree, the forest, and the people who loved it all.

Here are some links to places children can go to experience the soul of nature and better understand its life and value;

Book news!

The Secret Medicines of Your Kitchen will be out in mid October from mPowr Publishing, London, England. The book features home remedies you can make from foods and spices already in your kitchen. It will soon be available for pre-order – stay tuned!

Below you will find some upcoming speaking events followed by the usual collection of the past Moonth’s news.

I am busily gearing up for this year’s herb class, I just visited a local bee keeper to get fresh bee’s wax and I have bags of walnut hulls and horse chestnuts in the freezer. Take the class and find out how to use them!

  • Herbal Healing Class
    A Six month intensive (near Amherst, MA)with Ellen Evert Hopman M.Ed. ~ Registered Herbalist AHG
    October 13, 2012 – April, 2013
    Two Saturdays a month, 1-5 PM
    COST: $1,000.00 (includes a $100.00 non-refundable Xeroxing fee)
    Covers Western herbal Materia Medica, formula making, case taking, Chinese Five Element Theory, Homeopathic First Aid, Flower Essence Counseling, plant identification, ethno botany, and hands on herbal techniques such as poultices, tinctures, salves etc. An herb walk outdoors, slide shows of plants and hands on preparations are included.
    Over 400 pages of handouts are included with the course. A certificate of completion is offered at the end.
    Please contact me for further information.


  • September 15, Forbes Library (near Smith College)
    Northampton, Massachusetts 2:30 – 4:30
    I will present a talk and slide show on the herbal uses of our native trees
  • September 22, CHARMED IN NEW ENGLAND
    163 Main Street, Marlborough, MA 01752
    Phone 508-263-9491
    I will speak about Druidism at the store ( if any Druids are in the area would love to have you join in!)
  • September 25, Awentree, Easthampton, MA
    Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Wood and Spirit, A lecture on Chinese Five Element
  • Pagan Pride Day near the Lilly Library
    September 29, Florence, Massachusetts Western MA.
  • Wiccanfest, October 5-8
    Ontario, Canada
  • Changing Times, Changing Worlds
    November 9 – 11
    Conference at U. of MA, Amherst, MA
  • Crystal Falls Wellness Center
    Saturday, November 17 Southampton, MA
    1- 3:30 pm
    Author fair, I will sell and sign books
    285 College Hwy (Rt 10/202)
    For more info: Lori (413) 536-7192 X1117








POLITICS/ETHICS (it’s the same thing you know)

Please remember – you can purchase all my books and DVDs directly from this site via PayPal. You will get a signed copy and a personal note!

May your harvest be fruitful, may all beings be happy. Have a joyful Fall!

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