A Newsletter of the Reformed Druids of North America
Beltane Y.R. 40
(May 1st, 2002)
Volume 18, Number 3
|CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE:
Beltaine, May Day, the first day of Summer and the beginning of the Season of Life. In the RDNA tradition the Waters-of-Life are returned to the Grove chalice and all Third Order Druids exchange their white ceremonial ribbons to red. At Baccharis Grove we add a natural fertilizer to the tree chalice as part of our offering to the Grove trees. Now is a good time for those who own bronze sickles to sharpen them for the coming season.
Beltaine is a pastoral festival. It is associated with fertility, the return and renewal of life to the face of the earth. It was also a period of purification for the animals of the as well as people. Fire and water seem to be the principle methods used for purification and to insure fertility of the coming year.
At sundown on Beltaine eve, the Druids kindled need fires or tein eigin from oak and other sacred wood. Household fires that were never allowed to go out were extinguished and relit from the need fire. At Uisnech, a ritual center in Ireland, this fire was kindled by the king's druid and the people would a bring a brand with which to relight their hearths. In the Lebor Gabala, the Book of Invasions, contains a story about the Druid Mide, for whom Meath is named, who was the first Druid to light a Beltaine fire at Uisnech for the clans of Nemed. This custom is also documented as being practiced in Scotland in the Highlands and Islands as late as the first quarter of the 20th century.
In ancient times cattle signified the wealth of the Celtic tribes as well as their continuation and survival. Thus it was importance to insure their fertility and health. To this end bonfires were lit on hills and mountaintops and the cattle that had been sheltered and stall-fed all winter were driven between the flames before being sent out to summer pasturelands. In his glossary Cormac, the ninth century Irish writer, Beltaine comes from Bel-tene, a goodly fire. According to Cormac the Druids kindled two great bonfires between which cattle were driven. There is some thought that in earlier times that the cattle were sacrificed to the deities in exchange for protection against disease, fertility, a good growing season, and a good harvest in the fall, and later evolved into symbolically passing the cattle between the fires.
Though people also passed between the Beltaine bonfires, their purification and fertility practices seem to be more centered around water than fire.
To the Druids the most sacred of all water forms was dew (found at dawn, the liminal, "otherworldly" period between night and day), especially the dew of Beltaine morning. The washing of the face in the dew of Beltaine morning and drinking from the well before sunrise was common practice. It was well known that holy wells were considered to bestow fertility upon women. The tradition of dew's potency has come down through the centuries and in Scotland and Ireland young women still rise before dawn on the first of May to wash their faces in the morning dew and let it dry in the air. The dew of Beltaine morning was often gathered and kept as a medicinal or beauty aid. It was said to bring a good complexion, cure sore eyes, prevent or cure headaches, skin ailments, and freckles.
Men who washed their hands in the May Dew were said to gain skill in opening lock and knots, in mending nets and untangling ropes. Women who did the same would be able to untangle threads. Walking barefoot in the dew cured soreness and insured healthy feet during the year.
Also common was the scattering of water to with which to bring fertility upon
those whom it falls. On Beltaine in Padstow, Cornwall the dancing 'Obby 'Oss was
known for bringing the promise of a husband or child to the young women it
covered with its skirts. But in pastimes the prancing and twirling about also
including water in this fertility ritual. The 'Oss would wade in Treater Pool
near the town, "drink" from the water, and sprinkle those assembled for good
luck. Early May festivities in Southern Ireland included a procession of
Mummers, one of whom dressed as a clown, carried a long pole with shreds of
cloth like a mop at the top. He would dip this into a pool of water or puddle
and liberally sprinkle it on the crowds about him, another symbolic gesture of
distributing the fertilizing properties of the water.
News of the Groves
For the Full Grove Directory
Carleton Grove: News from Minnesota
Mysteries at the Arb!
I. On a spot not that far from the circle a tree's been found with three trunks, two fallen and dead, the third still possibly living and standing up, so that the two dead trunks come out and encircle a fairly large area. There were three very large handfuls of nails all in about a two foot radius here, and the mystery is how they could've gotten there. There seems to be a fair amount of trash at this site, more than pretty much anywhere else in the Arb not far from the remnants of a small shack. There's some barbed wire fencing caught under one of the fallen trunks, but there are no posts for it anywhere around. (the stuff is about a foot wide, and it's on the ground for a ways in this vicinity.)
The only answer thus far is there are some kids from town that sometimes come down to that little fort back behind the circle and they are not always as neat as they should be. Has anyone considered fairy folk?
II. There has been an appearance of paved trails and some concern whether they will be expanded? One of the paths seems to have been carved out though the northeast section.
Sister Merri Webster provides the answer: "I know about the paved trails. Whether I know what you want the know is questionable. I don't think they are going to be expanded, at least not any time soon. There is a new trail, the Arb workers put it in this past summer. I think it is going to be made nicer (i.e. not a mud pit) but I don't think it's going to be paved.
Akita Grove: News from Northern Japan
Equinox was fun, and Naomi won the egg hunt with 23 eggs. Pat had five and stepped on two. Cherry blossoms are almost ready!
Pat's leaving tomorrow for his trip across Japan from Akita to Iwate. He took
three weeks vacation. It is about 200 miles by bird, with big mountains. I'm
worried about him, but I gave him a good amulet, so he will be okay. He plans to
stop at every shrine on the way and camp nearby. I'm not a good walker, but I
will walk with him on some of the return trip.
Digitalis Grove: News from DC, formerly Monument Grove
Well, Mairi has left our grove, taking Sine with her, of course. There is no specific knowledge of where she moved to, except that it is "in the vicinity of the Pacific Ocean," but she left the airport with a floral print shirt, so I have my suspicions it ain't Chile. We'll miss her and her musical talents. But our paths crossed before at Carleton, so I'm sure they'll cross again (three's the charm).
That leaves the DC grove a rather sparse membership, with only me, Earl, Sheeba, Eric, and Shane as the only Reformed Druids that I know are here. Eric and I are so busy with school and work that we can't plan schedules too well, so we've decided to pursue parallel services (i.e. we're breaking up.)
My reason for break-up is because of the rigors of preparing the next edition of "A Reformed Druid Anthology" (see the article below) for publishing in Beltane 2003, organizing the 40th anniversary next year, updating the Druid Archives (six years behind schedule), and running the websites, including the new mailing service for newcomer and old-timer interaction at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RDNAtalk/ to which you're all invited, just send me e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
I've decided my grove is in cyberspace and have renamed it "Digitalis Grove"
with the foxglove plant (natural choice, eh?) for our emblem. The fox, by the
way, appears in about 50% of Japanese Shrines as the primary spiritual resident
and are associated as the gods' messengers and bring fertility to rice.
Volcano Grove: News from Tonga
As you read this, the Tonga Grove is closed. Irony should have returned to Britain or New York and is probably having a good time.
Amazon Grove: News from Brazil, formerly Ice Floe Grove
Things are going fine. Should reach Maxto basecamp by April 12th. Take care everybody.
Silent Grove: News from Hamilton, Ontario
Our Grove has decided, not in haste, that we share no connection with the RDNA, and since our actions will be fairly robust in the weeks, months and years ahead that we should singly represent ourselves as the Canadian Druid and Bardic Society. We initially toyed with the idea back in January, prior to Imbolc, but recent events leave us little doubt that this is in the best interests of our Grove.
In the Mother, please notify all that we are leaving the Reform, and wish to have little to no contact with your organization up and beyond the people we have met on a one-to-one email basis.
Best of Luck!
Birch Grove: News from New Hampshire
Since Yule, we have been in the process of buying, with my brother and sister in law, 104 acres in central New Hampshire. It has a large manmade pond, about 20 acres of pasture, and the rest in woodlot rising up a ridge. There are many beautiful white birches on the land. We [my sister, who is Second Order], and I will not be able to move up onto it for another year, as we have much work down here to get ready for the move. But when we do, we have a dear friend nearby who is First Order, and several more interested people, and Birch Grove will be a much more active and regular thingie.
Right now we get together on an irregular basis. But we have a lot of fun when we do, and much interesting HairPull. love-joan
Dravidia Grove: News from Maryland
Have spent a great amount of time in research this month and have also acquired four new books, my favorite of which is a Celtic History book, and my Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines. Have spent almost as much time this week watching nature and learning more of the fascinating things that are always happening. The best was that my Parrolet went outside on porch to get some air the other day. She was only out there about half an hour and when I looked out the window to make sure no cats had pried her cage door open I was amazed to find about ten birds of different species sitting on the railing as if to be having a conversation with her. It does amaze me about the nature of communication between animals and the fact that a house pet could arouse so much curiosity in so short a time.
Also have started planting the herb garden again and getting ready for beautiful cycle of life that flows about us in the Spring.
Silver Oak Grove: News from North Carolina
We would like to be affiliated with your group if it's not too much trouble for you, and we're name the Grove of the Silver Oak. We are located in Wilkesboro, NC (West of Winston-Salem), with a current membership of seven. We are neo-pagan and have a love for nature. Our E-mail address is email@example.com.
Yours in the Mother,
Swamp Grove: News from Florida
It has been quiet down here in the Swamplands, we are gearing up for the rainy season and enjoying all of the greenery that comes with an early spring. We still follow the way of nature, even though we feel the pavement coming closer with every year. The Grove is made up of a few acres of land that we have tried to preserve and keep healthy and free from the developers who seem to multiply like rabbits down here, paradise isn't what it used to be. Wishing a good rain for all the folks along the east coast dealing with the draught.
Oaken Circle Grove: News from Kentucky
Greetings from the Oaken Circle Grove of Kentucky, our grove has began to grow in leaps and bounds. We are having a meeting April 12th for five new potential members. Our Beltane plans are set for May 4, 2002. We plan to erect a Maypole and bake tiny fairy cookies for the kids to hang in the trees and bushes as a fairy snack. We will have a nice fire in our fire circle and give thanks to the Mother for all her gifts, the gifts of new friendships as well as old. I want to give thanks to all the people that have emailed me about the grove and have tried to make it something special, I also want to thank our current grove members for all they have done. Love and Hope are the keys to the success of our grove and we already have an abundance of those. If you would like to learn more about us, please go to http://oaken_circle_grove.tripod.com/oakencirclegroveky/
Sherry of the Oaken Circle Grove
Amon Sul Grove (a.k.a Gandalf Grove)
Amon Sul Grove will be attending Beltane Kentucky April 26-28. The festival is held on private land in Menifee Co., an area that is known for its fundamentalist religiosity. Once when I was there on business, one of the little Pentecostal churches actuality had a sign out front that said "We do not handle snakes." I have a Darwin fish on my truck and a "The Goddess is alive and magic is afoot" bumper sticker on the tent camper. As the saying goes, getting there is half the fun. Last year there were over two hundred Pagans in attendance and there was much merrymaking.
Work schedules have put the spring gardening efforts behind schedule but we do have a few things started including a variety of medicinal herbs. We had a warm winter and then a really bad cold spell just when the daffodils were getting ready to bloom so that was a disappointment. The new tulips are doing well and are in full bloom at the time of this writing. The roses are budding up nicely but it looks like we lost the Monet which never recovered from being stripped almost bare during last spring's tent worm epidemic. This year's major project is to clear a large enough area to add a second row of grape vines. We lost several of the wine grapes that we started from cuttings that we purchased last year, but some of the survivors are doing well enough that we should be able to start taking our own cuttings.
Gandalf, Amon Sul Grove Scribe
Big Ash Grove: News from Michigan
The Grove Formerly Known As "Grove of One"
Well the BAG (Big Ash Grove) has once again been put into temporary hibernation.
It seems that every year around this time that happens, but hey without change there is no life...
so I see it as a blessing in a way.
Cat-in-the-Corner Grove: News from Colorado, formerly Pinata and Spider-Oak Grove
The Cat-In-The-Corner Grove (formerly Pinata Grove) is based in Denver, CO. The official membership is currently one human, two Northern Red Oak trees (represented by proxy), and a varying number of potted plants; the two feline members couldn't be bothered with actually joining.
Due to the "Semi-Official Season of Sleep Period of Introspection" that the AD found herself rather reluctantly undergoing shortly after Samhain, the Grove has been in a state of semi-hibernation. Also, the Grove worship site turned out to be a bit too public to be practical, so outdoor services were temporarily suspended (which wasn't too bad, considering that it was rather cold outside anyway). However, with Beltaine rapidly approaching, the AD plans to awaken the Grove once again; this also seems to be an appropriate way to herald the Awakening of the Earth-Mother and the beginning of the Season of Life.
Of course, the Grove still needs to find an appropriate Grove Site in which
to HOLD said Beltaine services. So any petitions to your Druidical
Deity-of-choice that an appropriate and at least semi-permanent site be located
in time for Beltaine would be much appreciated....
Faerie Spell Grove: News from California
We at the faerie spell grove are happy to announce that as of TODAY we are unveiling our NEW free email service --FOR THE PAGAN COMMUNITY!
Faeriespell.net is (as I type) being converted to a druidic-based free email service. We are using cutting edge software and over the next few months we will be building the best email service on the planet!--and it's FREE! We feel the pagan community can use a central meeting place (we happily volunteer) and a forum to exchange ideas, get news (hmm.. we are looking for a news service by the way)
The dedicated server package was bought today (multiple T-3 connection---so no more slow mail for us!) and the software is being configured--so maybe it will not be "pleasing to the eye" for a week or two. But we will be improving the look and feel of the site over time. We are also offering FREE WEB HOSTING to all friendly druids (no gimmicks - just don't hog up a ton of bandwidth that we have to pay for). We are doing this as part of our goal of building a business network of eco-friendly capitalists. If you want to make some money in a project outside of your day job--and want to work with crazy, creative druidic types, feel free to email us at Ohmygodiam@aol.com.
I want to end this now--as this is not the time or place for a business
pitch. But to all we wish the best of fortunes. And to the Silent Grove--three
caps please--maybe a few more in a week or two. But we will say--get OUT--do
something that is good for the environment around you--and if you can make some
money doing it--all the better! We need more druids at the wheel--and less
Cheney's and Bush's and Enron cronies. Think about this!
Druid Heart Spirited Grove : News from California
Druid Heart Spirit Grove's spring equinox went really well this year, even
though we had to do it indoors. We had a guest from a Gwyddonic order called
Nemeton Gwynvyd, and she brought some of their orders wonderful poetic verses
for the celebration that we added to the ritual during our devotionals. For
Calon Mai/Beltain this year we are having a campout and going to erect a tall
Mai pole to dance after the ritual, followed by a bardic circle and cook fire
outdoors and potluck dinner. The next morning we will do a sunrise ritual and
meditation followed by teas and coffee and cakes. Some members from my band "Beltain"
will be her for playing the music for the Mai pole and helping in the Bardic
circle where we will share some of our bands traditional arrangements on fiddle,
harp, octave mando, and bodhran. All who come are encouraged to bring musical
instruments and drums. I have made an online flyer that can be viewed at:
|Baccharis Grove: News from California
Publisher of "A Druid Missal-Any"
Chop wood, carry water. For being perhaps one of the smallest Groves in the Reform Baccharis seems to be one of the busiest. The Preceptor attended the sunrise on the morning of the Spring Equinox. As the sun rises over the hills in Orinda about a half an hour after the actual sunrise, it gave her some time to wander about the area. Usually some sort of critter wanders by. In the past it has included a skunk, a grey fox, and a doe and stag. This time there was no sign of any animals. At just about the time of the sunrise she scattered the Bride-og from Oimelc as is customary on the morning of the Equinox. There are a few deer bones around that particular area. On this morning the Preceptor noticed a larger one. It was a skull! Not only that, it was the skull of a stag! She carried the skull to the center of the Grove site to get a better look and noticed the time on her watch. It was 6:15 a.m. That means it was found precisely when the sun rose at 6:14! This gift of a stag skull was a reminder to have no expectations and to be grateful for the surprises Dalon ap Landu and the Mother bring.
On March 24 the Grove attended the very first Interfaith Pagan Pride "Return of the Snakes" parade in Berkeley. There were over 20 groups including Berkeley Morris and OBOD Groves from Walnut Creek and Sacramento. It was very well organized and had quite a good turnout for the first year.
After the past two services, as well as on the weekends in between, we have had work parties to dig up the holly and birches that didn't make it through the dry summer and fall of last year. We even put a potential new member who made it past the interview stage to work, hopefully not frightening him away. Water was brought up the hill for the newly planted trees and to refill the bowl set out for the wild animals. On the non-service weekends the Preceptor sawed the birches into manageable size to fit into the trunk of her car. With the assistance of a woodworker friend she plans to make a set of Ogham staves out of them. Another project was cutting down a branch of a Live Oak tree to let the Grove Pine Giuthas and the new Holly Cuileann receive more light.
You make Third Order, nothing really changes, externally. You work just as hard if not harder, for there is a calling, a sense of responsibility to something greater than oneself, a dedication. There are still the tasks at hand to do, tending the Grove site, the paths, making sure the trees get enough water, and that there is fresh water for the local animals. With increased humility it is still chop wood, carry water.
Why are We Called Reformed? - Revisited
Sister Mairi Ceolmhor's article from the Oimelc 2002 issue of A Druid Missal-Any spurred quite a discussion on what Reformed Druidism means and its relationship to other Reform movements. We present the correspondence here in full.
In the Vernal Equinox edition of the Druid Missal-Any, Mairi Ceolmhor speculates that Reformed Judaism "sounds quite a bit like us!" (in reference to the RDNA). Though this may be only one perspective on the historical similarities between the RDNA and other "religious movements" throughout history, and not to reflect on other Groves beyond an historical anecdote, Silent Grove does not in any way, past or present, draw parallels to any aspect of Judaism, whether Reformed or not, or its natural extension--Zionism. Indeed, Silent Grove strongly disengages itself from the current atrocities committed by the Zionist regime, and does not wish to have its Grove sullied by any suggestions of connections, associations or similarities with historical or contemporary Judaism/Zionism in part or as a whole.
April 16, 2002
I'm glad you've broken your silence to speak out on issues that matter to you. The following, is of course, my personal opinion in reply to your personal opinion for the possible benefit of the readers' opinions.
Each grove in the Reform is naturally free to choose its sources of inspiration, and equally free to choose which one's not to be inspired by (if it is possible to ignore a "purple rhino" once the idea is mentioned to you.) I believe what you most object to here is the collaboration between politics and religion. Any religion, once it has a desire to achieve and keep political or military power, will then proceed to protect that power, usually against rival religions. This is the sad fact of Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Sri Lanka, Israel/Palestine, Timor, the Wild West, and numerous other locales.
I understand the dilemma that possible association or resemblance to any group can bring about unfavorable comparisons. I'm still proud to have German ancestry, although I disdain the Nazism of the 20th century. I'm proud to be part Irish, but deplore the violence of North Ireland. I speak English, despite the millions of Celts killed, disenfranchised or enslaved (etc.) by Anglo-Saxon and French descendents. I doubt that any western institution (especially a religious one) or academic environment that hasn't been affected, influenced or involved with Judaism or Christianity (which is Judaism blended with Mithraic and Greek Mystery cults) or Islam for that matter, which was Mairi's argument.
While I'm sure some Reformed Judaics support Zionism, I believe the underlying purpose of that movement is to adjust Judaism to the realities of modern life, rather than to adjust the world to Judaism, which is more Zionic to me. If there is one lesson I've learned in Reformed Druidism, is that there are allies and good lessons in nearly every religion, if you know where to look (the opposite also holds true) and search well.
But I will agree with you, that the current situation in the Middle East, with its messy blend of racism/politics/ religion/class/lunacy is just plain discouraging. I hope that America doesn't go any further down a similar road of its own to extremism or preferential treatment for population based on religion. But, I do not know enough the details and history behind these religious conflagrations which touch so many related topics. But I am applying myself to a growing understanding. After all, the last reason why we're "reformed" is that we're trying to fix our mistakes, and we can learn much by relating to and engaging ourselves in the dilemmas of others.
This reminds me of what Isaac told Carleton-graduates in the 70s about "throwing the baby out with the bath water" (2nd Epistle of Isaac, pg. 30 of Apocrypha) when it comes to magic and associations with neo-paganism. Interestingly, Isaac (of all people) was accused by several people of being Jewish because of his name (which resembles the founder of Reformed Judaism), involvement with founding the Hassidic Druids of North America, and a few other reasons. I believe his reaction was "Charmed, but you're very mistaken."
On a final thought, I'm reminded that poem by Issho (Zen Harvest #19):
|Over the pond
casts its light
But the water won't be soiled
The moon won't be either.
But, I hope you at the very least found Mairi's article to be thought provoking? I welcome other input on dealing with PR issues of association with other groups and movements by the readers.
April 16, 2002
Actually, Brother Mike, all I am saying is that Silent Grove does not consider itself, in any way, influenced by historical or modern Zionism. We despise the situation in the Middle East, as provoked by war criminal Ariel Sharon in 1999 by his visit to a Palestinian holy location. We also despise the fact that your nation continues to fuel Zionist arrogance by providing $3B/annum in aid to a bellicose nation whose hegemonistic aspirations in the region are a detriment to world prosperity.
Any Druid would plainly see that the balance is completely torn asunder by misguided foreign policy that funds "war brokers" to pad their corporate coffers.
This is not the wish of the Mother. As such, and I am sure you feel it as well, things will be corrected in the near future. Divination would tell you as much.
With warm regards,
April 16, 2002
It was a poor choice on his part, wasn't it? Canada is a wonderful country, after all, I've thought of moving there. In a way, your grove appears to be negatively influenced by Zionism, as is shown by your outrage.
Doesn't take a Druid to realize such matters of the world exist. But it would take a Druid to know how to respond wisely. Without time travel, what would be a good course to take?
Most of my divination is about the Earth-Mother's acceptance of my sacrifices, not those of others.' I'm sure the gods hear those.
With warm regards,
April 16, 2002
All in the Mother,
It is in the spirit of good ale, good music, and a good heart, that I need to rectify Brother Mike in his assumptions as to my sunrise message.
Indeed, the message is that each Grove delivers unto themselves the deeds they see as fit.
It is simple to be an editorial proxy, however to be representative has been 'the downfall of all political/ religious movements.
I welcome, each and everyone of you, to visit our website in the weeks to come, as we begin to practice "Druidism" without getting lost on provocations such as, "What is Reformed?" and glorify far more important trivial frivolities from days a' yore! Indeed, you may find our catalogue will soon surpass the "un-official website" of the RDNA.
|Tsk! Such a shame that your arrogance exudes in statements that extol the self, rather than the Grace of the Mother. An old Taoist once proclaimed, "visit the river and sit there until you forget yourself. Only then can you become selfless."|
As far as the Zionist regime is concerned, our Grove feels no bitter hatred, only a sullen remorse that such a wondrous group of people could degrade themselves to the pit of hate once again, such that many societies will reward them with violence as they have done throughout history.
BTW, I'm glad you left in question marks.
A Zen Buddhist once dropped by a pizza parlor called "Zen Pizza." He ordered one with everything. The pizza came, and he paid, but he complained when the clerk didn't give him any change. The clerk quickly pointed out that, "change comes from within."
Therein lacks the wisdom.
With the Mother in our hearts,
April 16, 2002
All of this spirited thought has caught my eye. It is good to see some serious and intelligent exchanges of thought in neo/pagan (pick-your-favorite term and leave me alone!) circles--as it has been a bit dry around here locally.
I most highly agree with "Brother Glen" (hmm...Can I be different and call him "Unca Glen?") in philosophy and perceived fact (I was not there; therefore I must assume what is reported is somewhat factual). But there is so much more to this. I just wanted to put that in first!
In as short of a statement of my view as I can squeeze this:
hmm..."Reformed." I will avoid whipping out the dictionary and will just go straight into my personal diatribe here. The druids of old are dead. (or they are rrrrrrreally old and hiding with the faeries under the cairns!). They were hunted down like so many other wonderful indigenous civilizations of the earth by the "conquering empires" (I blame the xians mostly--but that is entirely personal) and most of the records we could hope to have to trace a solid lineage or collection of rituals and purposes are lost. This means that we in a very real sense are indeed practicing one of the most mysterious of all religions of the world in this day. Because no one alive (except for the afore mentioned rrrrrrreally old druids) knows exactly what they did and how they did it and why...We have only our best guesses. I hope I do not need to point out the fallacy of "modern science" over the past few millennia to show how mistaken we may be on them.
But I like to think we have a pretty good idea of "what drooids did." They like trees. Hey! I like trees! And there we have a start. This reaches into the shadowy realms of Celtic-recreationism and I am bound to (hopefully) offend some here with my line of thought. Anything we do today is nothing more than an educated guess of those who walked before us. But this can be quite liberating!
With all due respect to my Wiccan(tm) friends--including those I have to meet--Wicca(tm--Gerald Gardner circa 1964?) is a "re-formation" of a collection of beliefs from all over Europe. Pre 1960 there was no "Wicca." There were a variety of indigenous beliefs on every spot of dry land where people resided and the gods there reflected the environment of that locale. Now we have a hundred different official sects and a million different interpretations, blending Egyptian, Assyrian, Celtic, Hindu and other beliefs and calling it "Wicca(tm)." Hence it is an amalgamation of beliefs. Okay-that's cool as long as we can see it for what it is. Today's Wiccans(tm) are as eclectic as today's fast food establishments. A burger at Mc Donald's is vastly different from one at Burger King ("they use microwaves!") but they are both lumped into the category of burgers or the larger grab-bag term of American "fast food." So my mini-point here is that the systems of beliefs are varied even under the umbrella title of the predominant defacto "pagan" line of thought.
So--to bring this all together; "if" the druids are dead and gone (not to worry--we ALL die someday) and most of the records we could hope to enjoy have been destroyed then what we really have is a base of ideas and a completely new era. The planet is the same, but the world has changed. Some of us may choose to be "guardians of history" and keep to what little we do know--calling ourselves purists (I like that term btw) and that is all good.
Isn't the very essence of life--of nature herself the ability to adapt and survive? As druids we (should) all look around to the grand old lady herself and seek guidance by example. What does nature do? Nature adapts. The lion eats the zebra (yum!). If there are not enough zebras the lion eats something else or starves. Nature allows the cycle to evolve. Where there are fewer zebras and giraffes (for example) the trees grow more plentiful and the grass grows taller. Humans punch giant holes in the ozone and nature says--okay kids; play time is over--you die now. "Next!" All in all nature just adapts and keeps going on.
So if the world is a different world than it was back in the days of our fun-loving, golden-sickle wielding forbearers, then "could" (note: I did NOT say "should"--do NOT flame me for implying "should") our beliefs not adapt also? Would not those who went before us be disappointed if we did not see the world and create new songs and rituals to honor and bond with nature that are contemporary to our times and world around us? This is not to imply abandoning old beliefs at all--but more that the term "re-formed" could well be taken as: solid ideas based on a sound premise ("nature is good") and applied to the world around us in a contemporary style that has the maximum impact of intended purpose ("nature is cool").
I mean we could all build a house using only an axe. We "could" make a "Lincoln Log" cabin of sorts (note that I expressly do NOT condone the abuse, murder or butchering of trees or any plant-life--EVER!!!) but we have air-hammers now that shoot these really cool nails into (ahem) wood and build solid, well insulated houses--in a fraction of the time--it took our grandfathers and even more so those before to build homes for their families.
Should our personal spiritual beliefs remain in the stone age while all of our realities and perceptions advance forward at blisteringly divine speeds? Is this not the very reason that x-ianity has suffered such an attrition of real followers over the past 600 years and more so in the now deceased "2nd millennia?" The Renaissance came about as the "common man" (a sexist term I know) had more free time from labor and thus better health, more time to learn and thus a chance to look above the rantings of the Church and local nobility and say something to the effect of "screw this! This makes no sense at all!" Europe's collective eyes were opened and the world started a change that has led us to this very moment of internet debates.
None of this discounts any basic precepts ("nature is good") but it DID invalidate the forced dogma of the previous generations as they had infected current religious thought of that time ("nature is good because God is better than thou and so is the Earl and therefore thou musts toil in the fields of thine Earl in service to him in all of his holiness so thou mayest achieve a servile position in his garden in paradise"). I realize this is a lot to chew on--but it is blissfully simple.
If we strip away all but the premise of what those who came before us held true then we have a tree (no?). Okay--so let's consider decorating that tree one belief at a time. Add the ornaments of old by examining them to see if they are kept because of their timeless truth--or simple nostalgia. Can some broken and soiled ornaments not be placed in a jeweled box on display at the base of the tree in an honored position while new ornaments that reflect the time and the base notion ("nature is cool") be placed on the tree in their stead?
This is how I see us as reformed druids. I believe we laugh at nothing our forbearers did. If they thought the sun rose every day and not that the earth revolved around the sun--cool! But we know differently now; our understanding of that fact may negate a certain ritual that is focused on making the sun rise (I am being whimsically hypothetical here for example only)--but our songs of love of the sun rising are an extremely personal expression as we know that it is to our eyes that the sun rises and that is how we romanticize the moment and draw power from it.
The eternal flame has long-been extinguished. Okay--we still know how to make fire. Drop the torch--light a new one. Hell! Use "Hazel" or "Birch cut under the light of the first smiling crescent when Venus and the moon make a one-eyed smiley face just after sundown" if you like--but the fact that the torch is lit and carried and protected from harsh winds seems more important to me than trying to use the same old charred stump soaked in gasoline. I think that we all have our own interpretations of druidism--just as we all have our own beliefs on sex and monogamy/polygamy and polyandry. But one thing I do know for a fact is that whether we choose to like it or not - we all are products of this world as it is--not as it was "back when" and those beliefs are inherent in us. We can no more reject the world as it is today in our spiritual belief systems than we can live without the wonder of toilet paper, washing machines, refrigeration, toothbrushes or readily available soap and hot water.
So we are "21st century druids." Cool! I still like trees. But I also like my computer.
Okay--enough of my prosthelytizing! Thank you for reading--please feel free to write and tell me how sacrilegious I am.
Dusty the passing druid
April 16, 2002
Actually, in the case of the Druids, I think it was the Romans under Julius Caesar and succeeding emperors that were mostly responsible for eliminating them, at least in Gaul (i.e. France-ish area) and all of Britain except for Ireland. In Ireland it was probably still the Roman Empire, but yeah in its later guise of the Roman Catholic Church (I think Ireland was the only land to escape being conquered by the "Classical" Romans).
The Cat-In-The-Corner Grove
April 16, 2002
Year XL of the Reform
By Mike, Digitalis Grove of DC
It is the beginning of the Summer Half of the Year, when Druids break the seal on their whiskey bottles and secretly replace their red ribbons from the box of last-year's Maypole decorations. We love this time of year and look forward to sweaty days in our groves.
Beltane 2002 marks the beginning of Year 40 of the Reform, or XL as we like to write it. Because there is no year Zero in our timeline, the 40th anniversary will actually be at the end of year 40 on Beltane 2003, with a possible celebration at Carleton and at other groves. But let's not belittle this year. Because it is year XL, it may be our biggest year ever. Let's all try to "excel"!
Druidism is about:
You might wonder why I persist in using Roman Numerals, when the Celts were
not particularly fond of the Romans? Roman numerals are rather nice for many
things: inscribing in stone, enumerating outlines, labeling Monarchs and Popes,
encrypting the copyright dates of movies, and they're just anachronistically fun
things to play with.
May 1st in History
Ten Things to Do for Beltane
By Alex Strongbow, ex-Carleton Grove
1. Sex. Of course!
2. Wake up early, greet the sun, wash your face in the morning dew. Collect flowers and make garlands for those you care about.
3. An Oak King can be selected by various athletic competitions such as: races, wrestling, archery, stone tossing, sit-ups in one minute, fire kindling contest (first to boil cup of water), greased pole climbing, rodeo riding, or a combination of foolish macho things.
4. A maypole dance for the women (men too if not enough people). Last woman holding the ribbon will become the May Queen The May Queen and Oak King should symbolically (or actually) consummate their "marriage" in a symbolic gesture. http://altreligion.about.com/library/howto/htmaypole.htm
5. Picnic, leaving a symbolic offering of one piece of everything. Possibly foods are oatmeal, diary, berries, greens, wine, barley, honey, eggs, sweets. http://ww.keirle.freeserve.co.uk/page18.htm
6. Drama or play of Persephone returning from the underworld or a story of a woman returning from the fairy lands. Divination is a possibility.
7. Enjoy the waters of life (i.e. whiskey). If you're solitary, do some self-nurturing type of activity, like a walk in the woods of a state park and camp out or vigil.
8. Raise stones. It's always a good time to bring the community together to haul rocks around and make a memorial of some type to the event. I recommend using car hoods from a junk yard, long levers, and 15 ropes and a pulley.
9. Build a Bonfire. This might be hard for those of you in fire-prone areas like California, but a cauldron fire might be possible, or just use a barbeque/hibachi for the job. Some of you are girl-scouts, but here's some advice for the rest of you.
Apparently, the traditional wood to burn is oak, ash, thorn, rowan, apple, birch, alder, maple, elm, gorse, holly, hawthorn, and others from a story about the Battle of the Trees. I'd add a piece from any other tree in your forest. Collecting the woods and maypole would be a nice combination activity, and give time for certain members to "dally".
Be sure to remove all the dry materials in the vicinity and dampen the area. Now you can just pile a lot of logs if you'd like, or you can stack them. A pyramid shape or tepee shape is considered ideal, as boxy shapes tend to fall to the side rather than collapse inward (1999 Texas A&M disaster, anyone?). I recommend that you don't get too close to the fire, just in case a log rolls out. Leave spaces between the logs to allow air to circulate. Old Christmas trees make great center pieces (whooom!). Put the kindling and ever large pieces in the center.
There are many ways to make the initial flame. Magnifying glass, parabolic mirror, iron and flint, rubbing two sticks (use a bow to spin faster), magma, lightning, natural forest fires, and matches. As always, the key is to start small with shaved wood, dried grass, lint, cotton (yes, toilet paper is good) and add that to small sticks than keep adding bigger stick until the logs reach the magic temperature of 451 F. If all else fails, CAREFULLY throw a cup of gasoline onto it.
Dance around it, watch it, talk to your friends. Throw negativity away into the fire. Or send up prayers with the fire. Young couples may wish to jump over the fire together after it burns down.
As always, stay with the fire until you are able to handle all the ashes with your bare hand. If you can, you take a candle home and relight your furnace, like the ancient Celts did. http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/6992/bonfires.html
10. Do something no one else has thought that you really like!
|See these sites for ideas:
Ivy and the Vine
By Sam Peeples, free-roaming Druid
Why do modern Druids go gaga over trees? Well trees are really cool if you look at them, I mean REALLY look at them. They also tend to stay in one place, which makes it hard for them to avoid our affections. But some plants have the itch to roam, such as the vines, sometimes even abandoning their roots for sunnier destinies, as do some Reformed Druids.
In the famous Battle of Cad Goddeau, http://camelot.celtic-twilight.com/poetry/taliesin2.htm finally written down in the 9th century, the writer describes a huge army composed of plants going off to war. Privet and woodbine And ivy on its front. Celtophiles, naturally enjoy guessing at the hidden meanings in the epithets given to each plant. The modern neo-pagans also like to associate these trees with ogham, planets, emotions, colors, shoe-sizes and months of the year. Two of the listed trees, aren't trees at all, they're creepers, which is vine with me.
In these exceptional plants is a lesson. We've all heard the expression "standing on the shoulders of giants?" Nobody makes up a culture in a vacuum, we build on the work of our ancestors, occasionally throwing out a new leaf. Not everybody can be the stout tree in our society; some of us must attach ourselves to giants and build on their achievements to reach the same heights. However, left untamed, they tend to obliterate the intent of the original, leaving a monotonous conformity.
Gort was the Irish word for ivy, Hedera helix L., and it should be planted in the fall, with greenish flowers also blooming around Samhain. It is an ever-green plant like holly, and is actually part of the Ginseng family (araliaceae). It is native to Europe and not to America. Its berries are poisonous in large amounts to blood cells, but used to be considered a cure for hangovers. The leaves were brothed and places on wounds and sores. The ancient Greeks used it to garland poets and heroes and counteract the effects of wine. Romans fed it to cattle and gave it to newlyweds. Interestingly, Gort is also the name of the giant robot in the Day the Earth Stood Still.
Unfortunately, Ivy has a dark side. Its tendrils can push through bricks and stones, destroying a wall slowly. It can also run rampant in forests, cloaking and choking the trees and darkening the forest floor so that other plants cannot grow. It has all the characteristics of a weed: Rapid, widespread dispersal, very tolerant of a variety of ecosystems, rapid reproduction, opportunistic, quickly dominating ecological disturbed areas, resistant to eradication. A friend of mine says this sounds like most missionaries he knows.
Modern people associate Ivy with traditions and old-age. Many old mansions, colleges and castles are covered with ivy, softening the sharper details of a building. In the use of the term Ivy League, the word Ivy implies those pretentious snots and the parasitic upper class feeding off the common folk. Whoops, sorry about that rant.
Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac are relatives of the Cashew family (Rhus)
and not related to English ivy. However their three-some nature, shows that not
all good things come in three and that only through experience can fakes be
Muin was the Irish name for the grapevine (Vitis vinifera L) and it grows about 110 feet. Grapes rarely grow wild anymore and are culturally being replaced by blackberries. Grape cultivation was widely-known in pre-Roman Celtic regions, even remote areas like ancient Slovenia, since the 6th Century B.C. Gaulish wine became indispensable in later Roman times especially since the Christian churches had such a fondness for their drug of choice.
The boiled leaves can be used for skin inflammations and grapes are good for coughs and ingestion. We all know the side-affects of grape-wine by intoxication. However, we have heard about the benefits of a glass or two of wine every day. It is a pity that Americans can't follow the French in drinking wine from youth at meals, as I believe it would result in more responsibility in drinking under the guidance of their parents rather than frat-brothers. Perhaps the greatest lesson of wine is that even rotting (i.e. fermenting) can be a beneficial process to us.
Both vines grow spirally, which some modern pagans associate with reincarnation or the ever-returning nature of search for self. Some postulate the two as enemies since Ivy prefers wet climates, and the vine prefers dry. Ivy also counteracts intoxication, supposedly, although also being linked with the fairy world's altered state.
Other Materials of Interest
What do you get when you cross poison ivy with a four-leaf clover? A rash of good luck.
Tina: I just touched some poison ivy. Nina: That was a rash thing to do.
What is a magician with poison ivy called? An itchy witchy.
Japan & British Isles Connection
By Patrick Haneke Akita Grove
Transcribed by Nozomi Kibou, Akita Grove
With the Advice and Assistance of Larry Press, Baccharis Grove
Boring Intro and Disclaimer
What I am about to discuss, if of course, only personal beliefs, and should never be construed as reflecting those of other RDNA members, although there are some who might go with me a little ways into the deep-end of the pool of philosophy on the following subject. All of this is with tongue planted firmly in cheek, but some poor bastard will fall for it completely, I suspect!
As you know, the Akita Grove was founded by Brother Mike, and we've vastly improved it since then, and we have been focusing on a Shinto-strain of Reformed Druidism. Past RDNA groves have done other strains: Hassidic, Norse, Germanic, Orthodox Celtic, Humanist and other ethnic focuses; so this is nothing out of the ordinary. I'd like to give you a quick intro into Japanese similarities to the British Isles.
What is unusual is our vision that we received at this grove, that is shamefully messianic (and definitely messy). But, we'd like to share it with you for contemplation, with no expectation that you'll agree with it. It is, after all, just our personal views. One way among many.
Interesting Part Starts
Akita Grove members generally believe that Japan and the British Isles (especially Ireland) are the two most powerful spiritual nodal points on the Eurasian Continent.
In fact, if you map all the mounds and rock piles that prehistoric people produced, you have a giant snake whose tail is in Japan and whose head is a heavy concentration in the British Isles. To use a Japanese analogy, imagine two large flagpoles (one from Mount Fuji in Japan and one from Ben Mor in Scotland) between them is draped a long sacred rope (shimenawa) with holy folded-paper pendants hanging over the Eurasian continent. Now imagine one over the North American continent from NYC to SF. The lowest point of these two ropes is of course the Middle East and the Mid West. Can that be a coincidence?
Both of the two "low-point" locations were the meeting points of Oriental and Occidental beliefs forming new religions (Judeo/Christo/Islam and Reformed Druidism/Certain Plains Indians revivals respectively). Both had founders (Jesus and David Fisher) who were rather unwilling dupes who disappeared soon thereafter and whose teachings were sidetracked and redirected by their followers; much to their perturbment. Both started with a simple message which became complicated. Fortunately the RDNA hasn't become as politicized as Christianity so far in our first 40 years, and thankfully we didn't go in for that Martyrdom and Jihad thing.
We long for the day when Ireland will return to her polytheistic past, or just recognize that Roman Catholicism is polytheistic and be open to the undisguised return of older gods too. A friend suggested that perhaps we could start by bringing back the snakes? No, I replied, that would be bio-terrorism in the modern legal sense. We hope that Japan (through J.E.T. program, Martial arts and Anime), and America (through Neo-Paganism, Hollywood and Disney) will play a prominent role on re-erecting the pole in the British Isles.
We hope that you can learn a little about Ireland by studying its parallels
in Shinto and Hinduism. Don't forget Japanese Zen Buddhism came from India,
which are Indo-Europeans like the Druids! Irish Christianity? Well, in
neighboring Iwate prefecture, there is a place where Jesus was supposed to have
studied in his youth and later came and raised a family after his brother was
crucified in his place (now, there's an X-File.) It is all related. Glad I could
share that with you. The following comparison chart was inspired by Brother
Larry over in California.
There are some differences also.
1. Dry farm and animal husbandry
1. Rice paddies and fish husbandry
The Breakfast of Champions
By Eric Powers, Digitalis Grove of DC
Let's name the first brands that come to mind when we think of Ireland; Guinness, Irish Spring soap ,and Lucky Charms. Mike Scharding glommed onto Lucky Charms for St. Patrick's Day, knowing full well they had little to do with Ireland. But they're so "magically delicious" that he's been raving about them, but my idea of Irish Breakfast is bacon, poached eggs, blood sausage, boiled tomato, cheese, and lard on a bagel, and a hair of the dog that bit me. http://www.irishfestivals.net/irishbreakfast.htm Well, I'm no Third-Order guru, but I did some of my own research into the "Celticity" of Lucky Charms. You are what you eat, so what DID the Celts each for breakfast?
Lucky charms were invented in 1963 by General Mills worker John Holahan (an Irish immigrant who died in an unlucky car accident in April 2000) as the first cereal with marshmallow bits, or "marbits". Lucky Charms were created in Minneapolis Minnesota, not far from Carleton College. Is there a connection? Lucky's (his full name is L.C. Leprechaun) magic ability was changing the white marshmallows into colorful shapes (i.e. his treasure) with a license from the Leprechaun council. The original four "marbits" were pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, and green clovers. An amazing diversity of shapes have been added for special occasions. The current shapes are red balloons, blue moons, pink hearts, multi-colored rainbows, yellow and white shooting stars, Lucky's green hat with a green clover, orange and yellow pot of gold, and purple horseshoes. The full history of their marbits is at: (http://www.geocities.com/EnchantedForest/3278/cereal-generalmills.html) As a breakfast of champions, there is some doubt. According to one study(, http://www.gwally.com/tests/) "who prefer the cereal usually become accountants, Internal Revenue Service auditors, librarians who work at the reference desk, or low lever government bureaucrats that stagnate in a dead end position."
The question does remain, would the ancient Druids and magicians of the Celts have eaten Lucky Charms if they had the opportunity? Everybody loved milk. The main ingredients are oats and marshmallows, (plus sugar and vitamins) both of which may have been known to the ancient Celts, who inhabited lands from Denmark to Florence and Turkey to Portugal along the Mediterranean Sea in 200 B.C.
Oats were farmed in Germany as far back as 2500 B.C in Asia Minor and brought to Northern Europe around 1100 BC by the Scythians, about the time of the domestication of the horses as draft animals. Because of their non-glutenous nature, oats are not useful for bread, and have been used primarily for soups or feeding livestock. In ancient Ireland (i.e. Pre-Christian), oats (along with barley, wheat, rye, kale, turnips, beans, cherries and apples) were a staple of the Irish diet found mostly in porridge, and also in black pudding. Oats have an unusually heavy amount of proteins, fats and vitamins, plus it counteracts the high cholesterol in the Celtic diets. Oats were also especially resistant to climatic variations and austere conditions. Carried in times of war, oatcakes were roasted on swords over the fire. http://allaboutirish.com/library/recipes/rec-oatcakes.htm
Introduced by Sir Walter Raleigh, the potato's prospered in Irish damp conditions and became appreciated in the 18th century. Oats soon were grown only as a cash crop while the family ate potatoes. Irish oats are prepared a little differently than American oats (which are mostly rolled); see "before the potato" for details. Some oats companies in Ireland still operate like they did in the 17th century, such as Flavahan. Oats remain the sixth most cultivated cereal in the world (after wheat, maize, rice, barley, sorghum) and have recently become popular as a health food; however, 93 percent of oats produced are still used for animal food. Russia produces 45 percent of the world's supply followed by US 12% and Canada 8%.
As for the marshmallows, they've been around since 2000BC and were a mixture of sap from the mallow plant (found in marshes) and honey. It was so good, it was reserved only for gods and royalty. Now you don't have to be a "Veil of Isis" initiate to postulate a connection with Egypt. According to the famed Book of Invasions, Ireland was colonized by the Milesians. The Catholic Encyclopedia says:
|"The Milesians came from Scythia; and from that country to Egypt, from Egypt to Spain, from Spain to Ireland their adventures are recorded in detail. The name Scot which they bore was derived from Scota, daughter of Pharaoh of Egypt, the wife of one of their chiefs; from their chief Miledh they got the name Milesians, and from another chief Goidel they were sometimes called Gadelians, or Gaels. "|
Probably fictional, Scota was such a popular character it influenced the naming of both Scotland and Ireland:
|"In ancient times it was known by the various names of Ierna, Juverna, Hibernia, Ogygia, and Inisfail or the Isle of Destiny. It was also called Banba and Erin, and lastly Scotia, or the country of the Scots. From the eleventh century, however, the name Scotia was exclusively applied to Caledonia, the latter country having been peopled in the sixth century by a Scottish colony from Ireland. Henceforth Ireland was often called Scotia Major and sometimes Ireland, until, after the eleventh century, the name Scotia was dropped and Ireland alone remained. Even yet it is sometimes called Erin-chiefly by orators and poets."|
So it is conceivable that Scota was some sort of unnamed historical figure. Perhaps she was an Egyptian trade merchants daughter from the coast of the Mediterranean? Whoever the influence, they would have been familiar with the Marshmallow recipe and passed that tradition onto the new land. The marsh mallow plant is native to all of Europe, so herbalists in ancient Ireland probably knew it. So yes, marshmallows could be considered a possibly ancient Celtic treat or medicine in some format. The recipe used in the US until 1890 was mallow sap plus egg whites and sugar, whipped into a meringue. It was a rather gooey thing, which was often prescribed by doctors for sore throats with immune system booster and sold in little tins. However the substitution of gelatin and corn syrup and tube puffing have given them a dryer more stable form that can be mass-produced without the health benefits of the original.
The cereal is rich in symbolism for me. Its overall taste is sweet, reflecting a positive view of life. The oaten shapes are a fish for the Salmon of Knowledge, the clover for divine "three-ness," flowers for herbs and beauty, and the "x" piece for crossed swords of the conflict in life. The current marshmallows invoke; pink hearts for love and society, green hat for those humble times when we must eat our hat, blue moon for those sadder times when life is changing in unexpected ways, shooting stars for those pyrrhic moments in life's accomplishments, red balloon for the desire to grow and move up in life, purple horseshoes for our interaction with the animal and mineral kingdoms, rainbows for the diversity in society, the pot of gold for the goals and dreams in our lives. I haven't tried diving with my cereal yet, but it would be an interesting task.
So, we have the combination of Celtic and Egyptian's culinary traditions, plus American marketing genius. The conclusion is that you can eat Lucky Charms with a clear conscience, knowing that everything in the cereal (with the exception of the corn-syrup, food colors and the tri-sodium phosphate) is a Celtic food substance. I'd still recommend a shank of lamb, some porridge, beer and banger, but enjoy them if you dare!
The Druidic Candidate
By Victor D. Infante
Fri, 22 Mar 2002, Orange County Weekly, California
Can California Deal With A Druid For Governor?
In a country just now coming to grips with its millions of Muslim residents, and in a county that not long ago freaked out about the construction of a Hindu temple in Buena Park, a Druid running for governor is bound to raise eyebrows. But Libertarian gubernatorial candidate and Druid Gary Copeland doesn't just tolerate the flak: he welcomes it, like a guy who wrote the kick-me note he stuck on his own back--even when the flak is fired by fellow Libertarians.
"It doesn't bother me at all," says Copeland. "It's not an issue with me. It 's their issue, not mine. When people speak, they speak for who they are.It' s my path to serve, and I'm doing that. I know not everyone's going to agree, but that's okay."
But everything's not entirely okay. Copeland doesn't mask his annoyance at a Newsweek article that dismissed him as a "whacko" or with postings on a Libertarian e-mail list that chastised him for noting that he's a Druid in the California voter's guide, although he didn't note that he once advocated the use of LSD for spiritual purposes.
Indeed, it seems there's unease within the party over Copeland's unconventional religious beliefs--a "culture of peer pressure," Copeland calls it--that one wouldn't expect from the liberty-loving Libs. It's as if it's all right for Copeland to harbor unusual religious beliefs so long as he doesn't talk much about them.
"Since Libertarians are a third party, we find it difficult to be taken seriously or to be considered by voters," says Mark Murphy, director of a group called Libertarian Activists and a former member of the Orange County Libertarian Party Central Committee. "Obviously, we want voters to see we aren't any different from many of them. So, when Gary-who's a friend of mine, by the way--declares himself a Druid, there's a concern that trying to be taken seriously just went out the window."
Doug Scribner disagrees. "I'm upset that people would find his beliefs a setback to his candidacy. After all, how many Christian politicians openly proclaim their beliefs in ballot guides?" says Scribner, vice chairman of the county's Libertarian Party.
Copeland remains philosophical about the criticism; indeed, he remains philosophical about everything. When you talk to him, he's philosophical at a hundred miles per hour and will frequently answer questions as if he's reading from a Celtic I Ching. Why is he running for governor, for instance? "Because the path brought me here," he says.
It can be kind of frustrating. But beneath it, there's a refreshing sense that Copeland is deeply invested in his beliefs, both as a Druid and a Libertarian.
"It's an asset," he says. "I love my Druidry as much as I love my Libertarianism. I describe myself as an existentialist libertarian Druid. If I can't find an answer from one philosophy, I go to another. Anything that's indefinable, I go to Druidry."
Copeland says Druidry is a Celtic philosophy of magic, similar to the more popular Wicca. It's a circle of logic and spirituality based on the ideal of service to others--like The Lion King minus the cheesy soundtrack. One of the central tenets of Druidry is that no one should have authority over anyone but himself or herself--a point Copeland illustrates with a reference to The Lord of the Rings, noting that the ring Frodo carries has "so much power that, even if you did good things with it, it would pervert, subvert and seduce you."
|"That is the basis of all Celtic philosophy: that absolute power corrupts absolutely."|
That idea led Copeland to the steadfastly secular Libertarian Party. Around 1980, Copeland was working with Timothy Leary's Brotherhood of Eternal Love to spread the gospel of LSD and enlightenment when he got busted. Fortunately for him, he says, he was screwing the narcotics agent. Not wanting to deal with that, he says, the cops charged him only with low-level possession.
"I was using LSD to be spiritually enlightened," he says. "I was one of those peyote people who for thousands of years had been using hallucinogens to connect to the spiritual world. Who were the cops to tell me I couldn't?"
Soon after, he began running the Orange County branch of NORML, the marijuana-legalization folks, and soon after that, he fell in with the anti-prohibitionist Libertarians. In 1992, he ran for Congress against Dana Rohrabacher--himself a former Libertarian--and got killed, garnering just 7.7 percent of the vote. In '96, he ran for county supervisor, beating the Democrat in the race--which tells you something about the state of the Democratic Party in Orange County. He has worked in computers and recently founded his own company, NextCure, which will distribute information on drugs under FDA review.
None of this really gives him a leg up in the gubernatorial race against uberbland rivals Davis and Simon, but Copeland would rather run as he is than tailor his biography and message for the mainstream.
"The problem with most politicians is that they're pretending to be something they're not," he says. "They're trying to be something outside their natures." They think people won't like them if they're different. But people like to go to a taco stand and try different tacos. I'm not stupid; when I put the Druid thing in, I knew it would be a hook. If I hadn't done it, I wouldn't be talking to you right now."
Members of Baccharis Grove who attended the Interfaith Pagan Pride Parade in Berkeley got the chance to meet Mr. Copeland and wish him well in his campaign. We didn't get much of a chance to talk to him but did notice he wore quite a nice linen robe.
of the Year
Contest Winner Announced!
The long winter is finished and summer is now. The contest of song is over. You may send songs, but I will keep them, and not use them until November.
Thank you for the 40 songs and poems! I did not understand all of them, but I enjoyed them. Like Brother Donald said, it is hard to choose the losers and winners. The real winners are the readers, they were good songs. But I had to pick someone.
The winner of the 2001/2002 is Sister Tegwedd for "Celtic Goddess Chant."
|Brigid, Cerrydwen, Morrigan, Arianrhod Macha Bloudewedd, Rhiannon|
And here are my reasons:
1) It was easy for my understanding.
2) It was short and simple, which is in the Druidic spirit.
3) It is uses only nouns, which shows a love of things, which is very Druidic
4) It calls my favorite goddesses.
5) It is useful in liturgy
6) I cannot vote for Pat, despite his hard work, because his ego is too big already!
As prize, everyone should call Tegwedd, Bard of the Reform, XL, until May2003.
-Yours in the Mother
By Mike, Digitalis Grove of DC
Building on the work of my Sisters and Brother, I'm putting out another edition of ARDA next Beltane 2003 to mark our 40th anniversary. The Final-I-Mean-It deadline is March 21st 2003. The final version may reach 800 pages (It's 500 pages now). Because it's such a massive job, the sooner you can send in those materials, the more likely they'll be included. I'll be posting further updates at Lughnasadh and Samhain and Oimelc and listing new additions at http://www.geocities.com/mikerdna/update.html.
ARDA is a collection of various articles, trivia, documents and essays about the Reform. Being the pack-rat that I am, I'm not too choosy. ARDA has a bit more of an enduring feeling to contributions than A Druid Missal-Any which is more topical to the coming and goings of the Reform. If you haven' t seen ARDA yet, go to http://www.student.carleton.edu/orgs/Druids/ARDA/ We' re looking for the following types of materials:
Part Zero, One, Five and Seven will NOT change much, except for corrections.
Part Two: Apocrypha
We're looking for introspective essays, usually revolving on the theme "What is Reformed Druidism?" or "How should one go about Druidism?" One short paragraph to ten long pages of simple or complex arguments are acceptable. You do not have to write in biblical format.
Part Three: Liturgies
If you've done an unusual twist on a liturgy, have unusual invocations, ordination customs, new Orders, solitary or protogrove services; send them in.
Part Four: Trivia
Tell us about your constitutions, folklore, unusual customs or activities, voting rules, pamphlets, lists of accomplishments by members, new words, different holidays or regalia.
Part Six: Green Books.
This is a collection of stories of a multi-faith nature than contain lessons applicable to anyone. They can be copyright, self-made, public domain, anonymous stories that empower and wisen you. This is the one section of the ARDA 2 that we won't make available to "print on demand," due to the copyright reasons. Most of these have been going into my Hazelnut column, but I plan to add another 200 pages of stories and jokes myself over the last six years.
Part Eight: General History
If you've found an article about the RDNA, written one or would like to write an essay, DO!
Part Nine: New books of the Reform
We're adding more vigil stories, songs, music, and poetry from the Bardic Contest, and other sources. Preferably these would belong to the public domain. Also needed are grove histories, simple or complex.
Part Ten: Interviews
No promises yet, but I intend to get a few more interviews from Fisher, Nelson, Bonewits, A few more recent Carleton ADs, Joan, and any others who'd like to step in. These take a lot of time to type up, so please try to finish by Samhain.
Part Eleven: Magazines of the Reform
A possible reprinting of all past RDNA magazines and newsletters.
Mysterious Gold Cones
"Hats of Ancient Wizards"
By Tony Paterson in Berlin
Website www.telegraph.uk.co Filed: 17/03/2002
WIZARDS really did wear tall pointed hats - but not the crumpled cloth kind donned by such fictional characters as Harry Potter, Gandalf and Merlin.
The wizards of early Europe wore hats of gold intricately embellished with astrological symbols that helped them to predict the movement of the sun and stars.
This is the conclusion of German archaeologists and historians who claim to have solved the mystery behind a series of strange yet beautiful golden cone-shaped objects discovered at Bronze Age sites across Europe.
Four of the elaborately decorated cones have been uncovered at sites in Switzerland, Germany and France over the past 167 years. Their original purpose has baffled archaeologists for decades.
Some concluded that they were parts of Bronze Age suits of armour; others assumed that they served as ceremonial vases.
A third theory, which had gained widespread acceptance until now, was that the cones functioned as decorative caps that were placed on top of wooden stakes that surrounded Bronze Age sites of worship.
Historians at Berlin's Museum for Pre- and Early History, however, claim to have established with near certainty that the mysterious cones were originally worn as ceremonial hats by Bronze Age oracles.
Such figures, referred to as "king-priests," were held to have supernatural powers because of their ability to predict accurately the correct time for sowing, planting and harvesting crops.
"They would have been regarded as Lords of Time who had access to a divine knowledge that enabled them to look into the future," said Wilfried Menghin, the director of the Berlin Museum which has been carrying out detailed research on a 3,000-year-old 30in high Bronze Age cone of beaten gold that was discovered in Switzerland in 1995 and purchased by the museum the following year.
Mr Menghin and his researchers discovered that the 1,739 sun and half-moon symbols decorating the Berlin cone's surface make up a scientific code which corresponds almost exactly to the "Metonic cycle" discovered by the Greek astronomer Meton in 432bc--about 500 years after the cone was made--which explains the relationship between moon and sun years.
"The symbols on the hat are a logarithmic table which enables the movements of the sun and the moon to be calculated in advance," Mr Menghin said. "They suggest that Bronze Age man would have been able to make long-term, empirical astrological observations," he added.
The findings radically alter the standard image of the European Bronze Age as an era in which a society of primitive farmers lived in smoke-filled wooden huts eking out an existence from the land with the most basic of tools.
"Our findings suggest that the Bronze Age was a far more sophisticated period in Europe than has hitherto been thought," Mr Menghin said.
Another cone, found near the German town of Schifferstadt in 1835, had a chin strap attached to it. The cone, which is also studded with sun and moon symbols, is the earliest example found and dates back to 1,300bc.
Other German archaeologists have suggested that the gold-hatted king-priests were to be found across much of prehistoric Europe. Prof Sabine Gerloff, a German archaeologist from Erlangen University, has found evidence that five similar golden cones were exhumed by peat diggers in Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries.
These objects, described at the time as "vases," have disappeared. Prof Gerloff says, however, that her research suggests almost conclusively that they were hats worn by Bronze Age king-priests.
She is also convinced that a Bronze Age cape of beaten gold--the "Gold Cape of Mold" discovered in Wales in 1831--was part of a king-priest's ceremonial dress.
Prof Gerloff has used computers to create an impression of a Bronze Age oracle wearing a golden hat and with an elaborately decorated golden cape wrapped tightly around the shoulders.
Bastketmaking in Ireland
by Joe Hogan
(Paperback; 25.00 Euro / 22.50 USD / 15.00 UK; Wordwell, 300 pages)
The main purpose of this book is to record the techniques used in making Irish traditional baskets, a task that became more urgent as indigenous baskets, such as creels and lobster pots, began to go out of use. The history of the baskets and their uses are included because, in order to understand or even make these baskets, the author feels strongly that some knowledge of, and respect for, the people who made and used them is required. The book is structured so that each chapter contains information for the reader who has a general interest in traditional craft; each chapter also has a technique section giving details of how to make many of the baskets described. Contains numerous b/w photos and drawings.
From the Read Ireland Book Review
Read Ireland @ Phibsboro Bookshop,
342 North Circular Road, Phibsboro, Dublin 7, Ireland
Mon-Fri 10-5 and Sat 12-5
Astronomical Beltaine, when the Sun is half way between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice, will occur as 15 degrees of Taurus on May 5 at 9:38:40 a.m. PDT or as 16 degrees 18 minutes decl. on May 5 at 6:27:16 a.m. PDT. Beltaine services will be held on Sunday, May 5, at Solar Noon which is now 1 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. Please call for carpool arrangements (510) 654-6896. For the social observance of Beltaine we will be going immediately after the service to AD's house. As we have no cattle to drive between the Beltaine fires we will be having a barbeque instead. Regular Druid services will be held at Solar Noon, 1 p.m. on May 26, and June 9. Please call the above number to confirm..
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A Druid Missal-Any is an RDNA publication that began in 1983 by Emmon Bodfish and ran until 1991. This newsletter was re-established by his student Samhain 2000, Day 1 of Geamhradh Year 38