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Newsletter of the Reformed Druids of North America
Fall Equinox Y.R. 41
(Sept 14th, 2003)
Volume 19, Number 6
|CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE:
Fall Equinox Essay
Fall Equinox. A minor High Day in the Druid calendar, there is no evidence of a specific day or ritual being celebrated in Celtic tradition. However there was some evidence that the tribal communities involved themselves with ceremony that reflected itself in the process of the year that insured their survival: the Harvest. By the time of the Equinox the harvest is fully underway.
The harvest has become associated with the archangel Michael and Michaelmas, said to be the most pagan feasts of the Christian calendar, in Celtic countries. Michael is the Christian saint most often associated with Lugh. Early Christian missionaries co-opted the image of Michael as warrior with flaming sword conquering Lucifer for Lugh Lamfhada (of the long arm) as this image might have suggested to Celtic minds similarity to Lugh in his role as protector and defender with his spear victorious over the Fomorians. Lugh is associated with the sea. His foster father was the sea-god Manannan mac Lir. In Normandy St. Michael is the patron of mariners perhaps another co-option. Lugh was said to have invented horse-racing and that sport was a main feature of Lughnasadh celebrations in Ireland. The Highland image of Michael is of the saint pictured on a winged horse. He is also the patron saint of horses and horsemen, and there was also horse-racing, as well as the appropriation of horses, on his feast day, another link between Lugh and Michael. That Michael became associated with the harvest is no coincidence. In Scotland Lughnasadh is celebrated on St. Michael's Day or Michaelmas, which takes place on September 29.
On Michaelmas eve the women of the village baked a special bannock called the "struan Micheil." It was made from all the cereals grown on the farm during the year. This struan represented the fruits of the field (note that Lughnasadh is also known as the festival of first fruits). Oats, barley, and rye were the only cereals grown in the Scottish Isles. These were fanned on the floor, ground, and their flour used in equal parts in the struan. The struan contained a peck of flour and was baked on "uinicinn," a lambs-skin. The flour was moistened with sheep's milk, the sheep being deemed the most sacred animal. It was for this purpose that the sheep were retained in milk till Michaelmas (since Oimelc), after which they were allowed to remain in the pastures and hills and run dry. The struan was baked by the eldest daughter of the family. As the struan gained consistency in firing, it was covered on both sides with three successive layers of batter of cream, eggs, and butter. Various ingredients were added into the small struans, such as cranberries, bilberries, brambleberries, caraway seeds, and wild honey. There was quite a bit of ceremony surrounding the baking of the Michaelmas struan. According to Alexander Carmichael in his collection of hymns and incantations, the Carmina Gadelica:
"Many cautions are given to her who is making the struan to take exceptional care of it. Ills and evils innumerable would befall herself and her house should any mishap occur to the struan. Should it break before being fired, it betokens ill to the girl baking it; if after being fired and before being used, to the household. Were the struan flag (baking stone) to fall and the struan with it, the omen is full of evil augury to the family. A broken struan is not used. The 'fallaid,' dry meal remaining on he baking board after the struan is made, is put into a 'mogan,' footless stocking, and dusted over the flocks on the following day;being the Day of Michael; to bring them 'piseach agus pailteas agus pronntachd,' progeny and plenty and prosperity, and to ward them from them 'suileachd agus ealtraidh agus dosgaidh,' evil-eye, mischance, and murrain. Occasionally the 'fallaid' is preserved for a year and a day before being used."
On the morning of the Feast of Michael all go to early mass, taking their struans with them to church to be blessed by the priest, who urges them to praise Michael for the bounty of grain and wool, the fruits of the field and of the flocks. This is very reminiscent of Lughnasadh, celebrating the bounty of the harvest.
Here is a basic bannock recipe that can be used as a basis for making your own "struan Micheil."
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 ounce butter, melted
Approximately 6 tablespoons water (substitute here with sheep's or goat's milk for the struan Micheil)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine 2 cups of the oatmeal with the baking soda and a pinch of salt. Add the melted butter and the sheep's milk, a tablespoon at a time, until you have a stiff but pliable dough.
Spread the remaining 2 tablespoons of oatmeal on a pastry board and roll out the dough to approximately 1/8-inch thickness. Using a wine glass, cut the dough into 3-inch rounds.
Back the rounds on a greased baking sheet for 15 minutes, or until they begin to turn a golden brown color. Turn off the heat and leave them on the oven with the door open for 5 more minutes.
Allow to cool and store in an airtight container. Makes approximately 12.
News of the Groves
Carleton Grove: News from Minnesota
Carleton is out of session until the 15th of September however that hasn't stopped news from accruing. Co-AD Corwin Troost has gone into exile in Japan for the fall. We're sure that he'll bring back news from the paleo-pagans that Mec (Ed. note: Mike Scharding) keeps telling us about. Meanwhile AD Stephen Crimmins has been having a druidic time at his summer job in the Carleton archives where he has been reorganizing the International Druid Archives and is working on updating Mec's out of date Index to the Archives. He is also preparing hopefully for the fall term and getting ready to spot sheep straying from the flock of new students heading towards the Arb. We'll see how it turns out in the next issue of the Missal-Any.
-Stephen, Arch Druid
News of the Groves in Japan
The Shikoku Grove and Akita Grove have not sent in their updates this summer, but they have been receiving very strange weather, according to the newspapers. Japan has experienced one of its coolest and wettest summers in history; which has led many experts to predict serious shortfalls in rice and other vegetable harvests throughout Japan (between 10-35% below average), and ruining the tourist trade in mountain retreats and beach-front communities. There were three prefectures, however, that were predicted to have a normal crop; Akita, Tokushima and Okinawa. The first prefectures happen to have RDNA groves, and Okinawa is an island so far to the south that it doesn't really matter. So whatever you are doing out there in Japan, keep it up, and share it with the rest of the country!
P.S. Those of you who would like to work for a year or two in a traditional
pagan village of Japan assisting in English instruction in junior high schools
at a generous salary starting next July; contact
email@example.com for info on how to work on the JET Program.
Amber Oak Grove: News from Toronto, Canada
Membership: Four. Location: Greater Toronto area of Ontario.
The grove's main focus is on the myths of the Celts and applying them to our lives. We are a simple and open group of people who work together for the betterment of self and the earth. Many of us come from extensive Wiccan background and as such our work is influenced by our past associations.
We have a zero tolerance policy for the use of drugs and alcohol within our
circle when we meet and an age restriction of 19 years or older. We, in the
interest of group safety, screen all possible members before information is
The Hidden Wood Grove: News from Pennsylvania
We have been real busy the past couple of months. My son came down with Transverse Myelitis. He was in the hospital for a few weeks and is now home. He is able to start to move his feet and a little bit of his legs.
Otherwise we are looking forward to the Fall and the changing of the leaves and cooler weather. The apple cider festival will be coming soon (all that good apple cider and butter).
May your gods go with you,
Bamboo Grove: News from Delaware
I never got around to thanking everyone for the "Bard of the Reform XLI" award (or at least, I don't remember doing so in the newsletter)...so, um, thanks! Although it may have been bestowed with the wry sense of humor characteristic of the RDNA, I do appreciate the honor.
Well, as they say, there is a time for everything. And right now, my life is going through transitions within transitions. One relationship is waning as another blossoms, and there is a lot of sadness and happiness mixed into one confusing bundle of emotions.
The saddest transition of all is that the Grove will probably split up as one relationship ends...the two guinea pigs, Panda and Rygel, will probably go with my "ex," as will the two corn snakes, Onyx and Loki. The Arch-Druid is looking droopy and rather pale green-as opposed to the vibrant, bright green a healthy bamboo plant should have-so if anyone knows of any good advice for bamboo care, please pass it along.
Otherwise, the Grove is rather quiet for now. It is a time for reflection, and "getting my bearings."
Blessings to all,
BrightMirage (Bard of the Reform XLI)
Hemlock Splinters Grove: News from New York
Things at Hemlock Splinters are quiet due to the employment of the Arch Druid Irony and the loss to college of his right hand and younger brother Omen. Most of our efforts this summer have gone into the preparation of a wire harp and flute CD hopefully to be released later this year. The leaves are turning here in the north.
Winter is coming.
Digitalis Grove: News from the District of Columbia
Well, summer's over and my Korean classes are continuing. I spent many weeks
perfecting the rules of Sigily from the last issue (there were not significant
changes) and trying to research other Celtic games in an article that will
follow in this issue. The potential grove members that I had expected, never
materialized, so my Grove is operating a minimum capacity still as I casually
spend the next three months in a job search and recover from a recent house-move
of about one block to the south. ARDA 2 is still on my friend's computer being
beautified for printing and release, which he says will come quickly this fall;
meanwhile I sit on a pile of checks here.
Grove of Ynys Avallach: News from Georgia I have gathered a group together here and we have been meeting for some time. We have concluded that we would like to form an RDNA grove. So far we have four people, a rough set of rules and offices and the like, we're sticking with just Nature is Good as tenets go, to minimize points of contention, and that covers the short list.
Oh year, we have tentatively name ourselves The Grove of Ynys Avallach and I have been thrown into the position of leading this quartet. We wanted to use something that expressed our mixed Irish/Welsh heritage and love of the Myths of Avalon and Camelot. I was hunting around and found a reference where the word Avallach had also been used as the name of Morgan Lafey’s father, in Welsh myths, but still would be translated as Isle of Apples, so it worked out pretty good and we went with it.
Our little grove has a yahoogroup set up at
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/YnysAvallach/?yguid=155554261 and a webpage
that is under construction, but I do not have the link for it right now.
Missionary Order of the Celtic Cross (MOCC)--Muskogee/Mother Grove: News from Oklahoma
On Aug. 3 we had a Grove picnic at Elliott Park in Muskogee, OK. All was not sunshine and roses. One participant got sick from the heat, and while we were off at the picnic, one of our members' homes was broken into. Even so, before the problems started, a good time was had by all.
The following Saturday, Sis. Chenretzig was named and entered into the grade of Novice Ovate. She's the first one to be named in the M/M Grove since 1998 or 99. We are glad to have her among us.
The Liturgy Manual 2003 is almost completed. It looks like it may top out at about 100 pages. It combines not only things that were generated by the M/M Grove, but also the Sharayean Mystery School Tradition and a smidgen of RDNA (like the Original Basic Tenets of Reformed Druidism). New to it is a timeline of the MOCC that demonstrate how a non-Carleton-affiliated Reformed Druidism just kind of sprouted up in the countryside of Northeastern Oklahoma, then how it kind of grew up wild. Attention is given to the difference in language used by the MOCC and other branches of Reformed Druidism, and the question of whether the MOCC is of RDNA or DCotSG descent.
Questions about the Liturgy Manual 2003 can be answered by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We're looking forward to Samhain 2003. The MOCC turns 20 years old on that
night. Rumors of the sacred event are preceding it, and it has taken on the name
"A Really big kick ass party." Libations may be expected.
Rowan-Oak Grove, MOCC: News from Oklahoma
Rowan-Oak Grove, the Tulsa area grove for MOCC, is pleased to announce our listing at: http://www.witchvox.com/ and our online community sites: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rowan-oakgrovetbrsc and http://www.msn.com/groups/creativepaganimity
Our membership both on and offline is growing, not counting the three grove cats we have a grove community in Tulsa of about 35 at the moment including several clergy members and secular officers as well as novices in training and general congregation. Our online community has representatives from other groves in the area and members as far away as Nova Scotia, Canada, with about 15 members total.
Lughnasadh was our 25th annual picnic rite and it was a blast. we will be celebrating in september both full moon and Mabon. as usual these will be open meetings. 101 lessons are being held both online and at my home or area parks when the weather is nice.
Those wishing more information may contact m.s. white raven arch-druidess at: email@example.com
brightest blessings and may the sea, sand, and sky always be your guides!
Cattle Protogrove: News from Texas
Just wanted to tell you all that the Cattle Protogrove has temporarily (the next 4 years or so, not including summers) moved to Commerce, Texas. Commerce is a small town outside Dallas and is surrounded by lots of open land, its great.
As soon as I got here and I finished unpacking, I pulled out my travel alter and chalice and several book I tend to read over and over (not so classic titles such as: A Druid's Herbal, Tree Medicine Tree Magic, and Year of Moon Season of Trees). I walked to the spot in my closet area (which is actually very open to everyone) that I had deliberately not put anything on. Its just above all my drawers and has a mirror behind it. I twisted the beg like legs into place on the bottom of my altar and placed it in the back, with the chalice to the front and off to the side a little. A small oak box I have (which I keep herbs in it cause it looks cool) was placed on the adjoining side. First thing off I ran out to the nearest liquor store and bought the smallest bottle of Jameson's they had (for usage in my dry dorm BAH!). As soon as I walked back into my room I had... oh a good three people staring at my little makeshift altar area, my roommate included. Being the good christians they are, they first accused me of being a satanist. Of course this was simply not true, I told them I was a druid and had to explain this to them, which I am not very good at I must say, and gave them Mike's site as a reference for all the questions I could not answer. Before long I think just about everyone in this college of 9,000 students knew that I was a Druid.
Well, I suppose now there will be no awkward moments when I am trying to explain to someone what religion I am. Anyways, I'll be sure to keep you updated further.
Walk in peace,
Cylch Cerddwyr Rhwng Y Bydoedd Grove, Order of the Mithril Star: News from Oregon
Well, it's official: as of tonight (Sept. 4), The Order of the Mithril Star is now a schism (or satellite) group of the Reform and the American Druid Family. This decision was not made lightly, but with much deliberation and divination and soul-searching by myself and the MG, taking all recent factors into account. What this means:
We have remodeled the OMS website to reflect our new direction. It actually resembles the pre-RDNA state, with a few exceptions, and some dressing up. We have taken nearly all mention of RDNA out, except for a couple places where it is appropriate. We have made sure that any new people visiting the website will NOT automatically assume that the OMS speaks for anyone but itself as an independent entity and an "autonomous collective" of Reformed Druidry.
We will also be adding a "dedication" page that will list ALL of our sources of inspiration, of which the Reform is a significant one -hopefully in the next week or so. This is a work-in-progress, and by no means finished...
We are now an independent entity, yet still consider ourselves a part of the Reform and the American Druid Family - it's like we moved out of the house, but we are still in the neighborhood...
We realized that any closer relationship (as we were originally planning) is now a fruitless endeavor, as there are irreconcilable differences between ourselves and the very outspoken schism of the "N"-RDNA...and we are not really sure exactly what the "silent majority" actually feels, so...
Although the group entity of OMS has done this, this does not mean that as individuals we can't still remain connected with the friends we have made in the RDNA. There are some really nice people in here that some of us would like to stay in touch with...
Those of you OMSers who choose to leave all this behind are free to leave the RDNAtalk group, and those who wish to remain here may do so, that decision is up to you as individuals. There is no more group requirement of any kind for you to be involved herein.
As we have been told many times by the Reform, we are perfectly capable of standing on our own as an independent entity, and I think we will all come out of this stronger and more grounded than before.
Hazelnut Mother Grove: News from California
The Abbott's Inn School of Magick is open once again!
The Abbott's Inn School of Magick was founded 33 years ago in Berkeley, CA. I founded the school because I felt there was a need to teach the magickal arts in a kindly, playful, and gentle way. Whenever possible I would engender humor and whimsy into the subject matter. The classes were more like workshops, where the students were encouraged to on occasion to teach the teacher. Sometimes there would be at least 10 people in the class. We would go around the room and each person would tell the group why they were interested in a certain arcane subject. There were a lot of people who would want one-on-one classes. As time went on there would be other teachers teaching other classes. The reason why it was called the Abbott's Inn School of Magick was because sometimes the classes would have no time limit and those present would stay until the wee hours. Thus the concept of an inn.
Today in 2003 I would like to teach in much the same style and encourage others to join the Inn and teach as well. Today there is a need to learn the magickal arts, to use this knowledge for practical purpose. I hope that I and others can help you in this regard.
Stephen W. Abbott, AD
Dean and Founder of the Abbott's Inn School of Magick
Duir de Danu Grove: News from California
What the coming harvest means to me is the ready availability of a lot of my favorite fruits and vegetables. Corn on the cob, that all-American staple is available for a good price. Nectarines and plums are in abundance. My friend's tomatoes are ripening, and she usually brings over a few for me to savor.
Chronicler and Co-ArchDruid of Duir de Danu Grove, the South Bay Grove
Poison Oak Grove, News from California
Publisher of "A Druid Missal-Any"
It has been quite active at Poison Oak Grove this past season.
The water situation is being worked out with the tenant of the main house so the driplines to the sacred trees up at the Grove site will stay running when the weather is hot. And soon we will have our own direct hookup to the top of the hill.
Undaunted by the demise of the White Alders we have purchased a new Himalayan Birch to go in the East direction of the Grove trees. The Himalayan Birch was recommended by the nursery as better able to cope with hot weather than the European Birch, which needs cold. I asked the nursery about planting in threes, which Emmon had said he was told to do with Birches, and he had never heard of that. I do know that since Birches like water, three would require more than one (which is perhaps why the Alders didn't thrive, in addition of having a particularly hot summer last without the benefit of a continuous drip until they had gotten established). Keeping that in mind I regretfully broke with the tradition of three Birches that goes back to '81 for the well-being of the tree.
With Poison Oak Grove now being over a year old now it seemed like it might be a good time for grove elections. It has been RDNA tradition to hold elections on between the Fall Equinox and Samhain Eve with the new officers assuming their roles Samhain day.
Poison Oak grove is looking at the upholding the long tradition of holding a Samhain vigil this year. We would hold a regular service with the last waters of life of the year at or just before sun down, vigil at the cabin with food and drink, good conversation, and cheer, and at sun up hold the Samhain service when the Third Orders exchange their red ribbons of office for white, and the waters in the chalice would be replaced the waters of sleep. This would take place, deities willing, the night of Nov. 1.
Famous Irish harper Patrick Ball is playing at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley, and will be telling Samhain stories the same night as our vigil, Nov. 1. We might get industrious (overly zealous?) and do the sundown service, go to the concert, and come back for the vigil.
Grove member Stacey was invited to the board meeting between the Orinda Park and Rec Foundation and the Muir Heritage Land Trust, the organizations who now oversee the land that the Grove site is on. It took place on Emmon's property and they hiked the perimeter along Miner Road, to the Orinda Highlands, back down the hill
Member Stacey has also acquired a new Druid Mobile and requests Enbarr,
magical steed of the Manannan mac Lir, to keep it running well and smoothly, and
to watch over and keep it safe from harm.
Gandalf's Reflections On The Arts Zymurgical
By Gandalf, Amon Sul Grove
The Discovery of Beer
There are those who claim that one of the main reasons that our distant ancestors gave up their nomadic ways and began the practice of agriculture was to assure a supply of grain for the making of beer. Think of a time, eons ago, when our ancestors had learned to use fire and to make storage containers (tightly woven baskets or clay pots). Wild grain had been gathered and stored. Water was added to soften the grain. For some reason the grain was not eaten and sat for a day or two. Someone realized that the grain might be saved if it was dried over the fire. After being roasted, the grain had an odd sweetness to it. When it was needed, the grain was once again put in to soak. Someone drank the water and/or ate the uncooked grain and it was good. Grain gathering became a major activity. Someone discovered the cause and effect relationship between covering grain with dirt and new plants sprouting. One of the great things about it was that after you made the beer, you still got to eat the grain. What a concept! Why wander around taking your chances on where your next meal might come from when you could get drunk and eat well at the same time?
Yeast are fungi that break down sugar molecules and by doing so produce alcohol and carbon dioxide. When one works out the physics involved, this molecular division process results in a release of energy that is used for metabolic and reproductive processes. Try this link if you are interested in the underlying science: http://www.yeastgenome.org/VL-yeast.html.
Home Brewing and Vinting
First and foremost, this is not rocket science. There is an abundance of websites that are dedicated to beer and winemaking. Most stores that sell equipment and supplies also stock books. You can probably get everything you need for thirty to forty dollars. If you stay with it, you’ll recoup your investment in a short time. You will know exactly what's in your libation. There's also a genuine satisfaction in drinking something that you made yourself.
If you have access to a major metropolitan area, there is almost certainly a location that carries everything that you need. If you are really out in the boonies, everything is also available through the Internet. The following is a list of essentials:
Primary fermenter. I used a plastic garbage can for a long time. A few years ago, the place that I get my supplies started stocking Ale Pales which are essentially seven gallon plastic buckets that have a spigot near the bottom. They have a bail, which makes them easy to pick up, and the spigot facilitates racking off (draining).
Secondary fermenter. Not an absolute necessity, but helpful for many projects. Usually a five gallon bottled water jug. The use of a secondary fermenter requires an airlock, because alcohol turns to vinegar with prolonged exposure to air. Since secondary fermentation still involves the production of carbon dioxide, any air in the container is forced out and the carbon dioxide protects whatever you are making. Using secondary fermenters produces a clearer product that has less sediment. Beer that is made using a secondary fermenter may take longer to build up a head.
Hydrometer. A hydrometer measures the specific gravity (SG) of the mix and indicates the potential strength of the end product (potential being the term because all of the sugar is not processed by the yeast). Bottling beer at the correct SG is essential to having the right amount of carbonation. A word of caution: malt liquors (beers with over six percent alcohol) are often a recipe for a hangover. I usually make mine at four-five percent. In making wine, knowing the potential strength is important for predicting whether or not the wine will be dry or sweet. The maximum alcohol content that can be achieved through natural process is eighteen percent, but that's under ideal conditions. Taking the SG to a potential of eleven will usually produce a relatively dry wine. Anything over fourteen may taste syrupy.
Beer containers. The best containers are rubber-stoppered bottles such as those used for Grolsch and Kulmbacher. That way, if you bottle with a little too much residual sugar, the excess gas forces its way through the gasket. No exploding bottles or beer that spews out when opened. It's also an excuse to drink some good imported beer. I originally used quart bottles. However, since there’s usually some sediment in homemade beer, sometimes the second pint was a little murky. Twelve ounce returnable bottles can also be used (no twist offs). Bottles, caps, and capping tools are sold by most suppliers. The basic math for a five-gallon batch is 20 quarts, 40 pints, or about 53 twelve-ouncers. A few years ago, I inherited an old refrigerator. For about two hundred dollars I was able to convert it to a draft beer dispenser. The home brew goes into five gallon Cornelius kegs (their primary use is for fountain soft drinks).
Wine containers. Once again, this is an excuse to indulge oneself. If you frequent your local pub, the bartender may also be able to help you out. Especially if you have demonstrated that Tipping is not a city in China. If my math is correct on the metric conversion, you'll need around twenty-seven bottles for a five-gallon batch. There are different types of wine bottles and some work better than others, primarily due to sedimentation issues. The best bottles are the tapered ones that many German wines come in. Sherry bottles do not work as well work because the air has a tendency to bubble as it goes in stirring up the sediment.
Boiling pot. Unless you are really into beer making, you'll be using malt extract, which needs to be boiled. When making wine, an alternative to using sulfites (which I am allergic to) is to bring the wort (your mix before fermentation) to a low boil.
Stirring stick. During initial processing and primary fermentation, everything needs to be stirred a lot except for the last few days before racking off. I use a wooden spoon and dowel.
Funnel. Get one that has a groove in the side of the spout so that air can come out as liquid goes in.
Beer. As mentioned, making beer usually involves malt extracts. Malt comes in a variety of shades from pale to dark and can be hopped or unhopped. What one uses is a matter of personal preference. Please note that even the light varieties will usually produce a beer that is darker than the American Pales that most of us are used to. The cans of malt sold by suppliers are intended to make five gallons. This is a manageable quantity that can be consumed while still fresh. The malt extract, by itself, will not have enough sugar to make the beer strong enough. I recommend powdered malt for the booster but in a pinch I've used regular sugar. Incidentally, most modern beers contain two drugs: alcohol and hops. The hops are one of the reasons that beer makes you sleepy. Hops are also a preservative (probably their original use). Since home brews are not pasteurized, the hop can be essential in extending their shelf life. If your supplier is well stocked, there will be a wide variety of hop available. Some brewers are very picky about their hops, but I've never found much difference between the different varieties. Hop is easy to grow but it needs to be trellised. The hop that I raise is a generic variety that I ordered from the Gurney Seed Company. Email me around March if you would like a root cutting.
Wine. I've never used the concentrates, so I cannot speak to results from their use. I've been fortunate enough to have access to real grapes (usually Concords but I have used whites). If there's a farmer's market in your community, check with the sellers there. Wine can also be made from a variety of other ingredients. There are those who scoff at non-grape wines, but I am not one of them. I have peaches, pears, apples, strawberries, and kiwi planted but they’re not producing yet. A bushel of grapes is sufficient for five gallons of wine, but unless you have wine grapes, there won't be enough natural sugar to get the job done. I typically use plain old beet sugar for wine. Grapes are easy to grow but take time and need a lot of room. We've been at our current location four years and the first vines that I planted (Concords) are just starting to produce. If you know someone who grows grapes, the prunings can be used to start new vines. Once you get started, you have an unlimited supply. For the last two years I have been buying wine grape cuttings from this location: http://www.bunchgrapes.com/. I should be able to start propagating my own wine grapes by next year. I may even have a few Concord cuttings that I won't need. Email me around March if you're interested. Mead requires using some honey for sugar content and taste. I have blackberry mead in a secondary fermenter as I write this. Mead can also be flavored with spices such as ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Yeast. Once again, there are many varieties available and some individuals are very passionate about what they use. Since the basic process is the same, I'm pretty indifferent. I typically use a top fermenting beer yeast. Incidentally, it's easy to keep a starter bottle. Just stir up the sediment, fill a pint with it, and keep it the refrigerator until it's needed. Miscellaneous. If making wine, you'll need corks and a corking tool. There are many flavorings, clarifiers, chemicals, etc. available. I usually forego them.
The Process for Beer
Boil the malt using about three gallons of water. The boil takes about 45 minutes. If using unhopped malt, add hops at the beginning and end of the boil. Let the wort cool; add malt or sugar to obtain desired SG. Add yeast. If using a top fermenter, in about two days, the mix will develop a corona. Use a stainless steel strainer to skim off the solids in the corona. In about a week, the SG will drop to bottling level (.10). If not using a secondary fermenter, rack off and bottle. If using a secondary fermenter, rack off and airlock. Let settle for about a month or so, rack off, add priming sugar to get mix to .10 SG, and then bottle. Store in a cool, dark place if you have one. In 2-4 weeks sufficient additional fermentation should have occurred to build up a head. Getting the head right is one of the most difficult parts of beer making. If you're using resealable containers, you can reprime if you don't get enough carbonation. If you're using screw caps and you get to much carbonation, you can loosen them and let them sit for an hour or two and then reseal. Rubber stoppered bottles will bleed off any excess carbonation. Since there will always be some sediment, pouring requires a steady hand and practice. When making beer, it may be a good idea to not start out trying to make Pales. I've found Ambers and Darks to be much easier.
The Process for Wine
I usually puree the grapes in a blender and then heat them to a low boil. Let cool. Some water can be added but you have to careful or the end product will lack color and body. Add yeast. In a few days the solids will begin to float to the top. Skim off with a stainless steel strainer. If you are not using a secondary fermenter, bottle at around 10 SG. If using a secondary fermenter, rack off and airlock. Two months in the secondary fermenter is usually sufficient but I've left it longer. Wine should be stored on its side so that the corks stay moist. To deal with sedimentation, shake the bottle and let it sit upright for a few weeks before opening. Uncork and rack off the entire bottle. Once again, a steady hand is beneficial.
Whiskey is essentially distilled beer and brandy is distilled wine. Unfortunately, in the United States, making your own spirits, even for personal use, is illegal. However, I'm getting tired of boiling the hell out green beans in a water bath canner to get them properly sterilized when half as much time in a pressure canner would get the job done. Pressure canners are also easily converted to pot stills. Be sure to spend the extra money for stainless steel. A friend of mine had an aluminum pot still and although it wasn't a poisoning hazard, his product had a definite metallic taste. Do some research before building a still. Lead poisoning is a serious hazard. I no longer drink moonshine unless I personally know the person who made it. Two drinks and you can go blind or die!
The Internet has a lot of designs for making refractory stills and some
suppliers are selling them for around three hundred dollars. Refractory stills
are much more efficient, producing an output that is up to 170 proof with a
single run. Pot stills usually require triple distillation to achieve a final
product that is around 120 proof (hence the designation XXX). My understanding
is that there is pending litigation about the legality of selling refractory
stills. My suggestion is, if you buy one, do so in person and pay cash.
Otherwise there will be a shipping or credit card trail that might be used to
track you down if the federal government and liquor lobby prevail. It is
relatively easy and inexpensive to get a permit to make ethanol for fuel, which
then makes your still legal. However, once again, you are on record as owning a
still. The law requires that anything removed from the premises must be
denatured (rendered undrinkable).
In general, zymurgy is a messy process. Many books and articles on home fermentation dwell at great length on all kinds of sterilization activities that involve chemical compounds of questionable utility. Zymurgy had been around for millennia before microbes were ever identified. In over thirty years of practice, the only time I ever lost anything was when I used some ground fall apples to make applejack and I didn't boil the mixture first. That was clearly an error on my part. Soap should be used sparingly. Small traces of soap can throw off the taste. Soap also impairs the ability of beer to make a good head. I use lots of hot water and paper towels.
The preceding is an overview. Zymurgy is a learn-by-doing art. Almost everyone who practices it has the occasional batch that doesn't taste very good. However, considering some of the commercial products that I've had, even my failures have their counterparts in the marketplace. Even if the taste is a little off, the alcohol is still there. Just remember that, with modern techniques, what you will be drinking is almost certainly much better than some of the stuff that the ancients had.
A Druidic Vision of the World ...
A Commentary Series
Order of Whiteoak (Ord na Darach Gile)
There has been much debate in regards to White Oak's letter entitled "The Reinstatement of Truth" in the Druid community. Some have said that we, as Druids, should stick to spiritual matters and stay out of politics. The ancient Druids were however advisors to the kings. I feel that this letter is keeping in that tradition. --Ed.
* * *
In the spirit of Service and Involvement that is so much a part of contemporary Druidism, members of The Order of the Whiteoak have decided to honor a request to present our vision of the World as it Could Be in response to our understanding of the World as it Is. We have chosen to do so by addressing some of what we consider the most pressing national and international concerns of our time in a series of letters that express our understanding of the problems that exist and our vision for possible solutions. The following is the first of these letters.
August 27, 2003
The Reinstatement of Truth
One of the prime tenets of all disciplines of contemporary Druidism is the honor of the virtue of Truth. By our estimation, the viability of any governing body or political administration must be judged by the degree of trust that may be placed with the public servants in power. We live in a time of governance by an administration that places this sacred tenet in low esteem, and has betrayed the trust of the public it serves in numerous ways.
In the highest military and civil branches of our government, there has been the deliberate creation of an atmosphere that encourages only the reporting of information that supports the political agendas of the administration in power. Concurrently, information and intelligence that runs counter to that agenda has been ignored, obfuscated,and buried under the excuse of national security. Lies, fictions and exaggerations have been promoted and widely distributed to encourage warfare in Iraq, then excused as error or as a justifiable means to the administration's political ends.
The consideration of Truth in the decision making process is valued only when it supports the political goals of this administration and its few international allies. To our sorrow, we observe this lack of honor for the Truth becoming an acceptable habit practiced not only by those who hold power but by those who seek it, and as an example set by of our leadership, becoming more prevalent in all areas of our national public life. This lack of appropriate ethical behavior is evidenced not only in the promotion of the ongoing war in Iraq, but in the more general "War on Terrorism", and in policy building in the areas of civil rights, education, the rebuilding of the economy, and the protection and stewardship of national and world natural resources and ecological concerns. A brief list of insults to the ideal of Truth by this administration includes but is not limited to:
The deliberate use of fraudulent documents presented publicly by the President, notably in the State of the Union address, to gather public support for the war in Iraq ...
Gross exaggerations, inaccuracies and misleading statements presented to the United Nations as fact in the United States' case for a legitimate war to overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein ...
The administration's continued assertion of unprovable and unlikely connections between Hussein and Al Qaida ...
The administration's attempts to circumvent the Constitution with the Patriot Act and the proposed Patriot Act II in an effort to convince the public that giving up our most precious civil rights would make us somehow safer...
This administration's refusal to release information about meetings concerning the establishment of a national energy policy where representatives of corporations such as Enron and Halliburton were present as consultants ...
In spite of overwhelming scientific evidence of the damage still being caused to the environment by ecologically unsound business practices of major corporations, this administration still ignores the public interest in favor of increased profits for corporate cronies ...
The use of the slogan "leave no child behind" as a description of a desperately underfunded and gutted education program that is instead leaving so many children behind ...
Our vision of the world that could and should be includes a return to the understanding that as servants of the electorate, the powers that be are accountable for Truth in all facets of governance. With the clear understanding that the intelligence community must keep some state secrets secure, we envision an ethic in force that demands Truth in the use and gathering of this secure information. We envision an ethic in force that makes Truth an absolute imperative in the public administration of our laws and processes. We envision a world in which the ability to determine and act on and in Truth is a prime factor in deciding who will be elected to serve. We envision a world in which Truth is not used by the governing bodies only when it is convenient, and where lies are not used for expedience in place of the Truth.
While it is still True that in our form of government the authority to govern is still subject to the will of the People, our vision of the world as it could be includes higher involvement and an assumption of responsibility for our national fate by the governed. The Order of Whiteoak members join with all the other voices who call for accountability from our current administration on these breaches of the ethic of Truth.
As contemporary followers of the Druid Path, we function in a society where Druids are no longer institutional advisors to those in the highest seats of power. We are therefore obliged to make our voices heard as individuals and from the combined voices of our Order to help fulfill our ethic of Service to Truth. We stand not only with other followers of our discipline, but with those who are issuing this demand from other faiths, as Truth is held as a prime tenet of all faiths.
We refer you to one of our honored wisdoms from the ancient Triads of Ireland that resonates with the Truth in all faiths:
"Three ruins of a tribe: a lying chief, a false judge, a priest fond of refusing." --- The Triads of Ireland, 96.
The Order of Whiteoak
Permission is granted to repost as long as nothing is altered or removed.
Mystifying Celtic Board Games
By Mike Scharding, DC Grove
It appears that the Celts played many types of board games before the advent of Cards and Chess in the 2nd Millennium from the Middle East via the Caliphate. However, as usual, they never bothered to write down the rules for posterity. As a result when boards and tantalizingly incomplete folklore references were uncovered, no modern archaeologist has been able to very clearly explain which named game went with which board or rules. Where experts disagree, the rest of us can throw in our own guesses; and a result is a confusion of websites with contradictory rules for games of the same name. I'll try to give you the web-sites, possible rules and variations and then let you figure out your own satisfactory method of play.
One school of thought claims that all games of chance (drawing lots, spinning wheels, dice, dominoes, etc.) are derived from forms of divination by the common masses, and that some boards were designed to keep track of the score from these rolls. Another branch of board games were an imitation of deciding hunting strategies in the dirt, replication of real battles or children's playground fights; such as chess, checkers, fox and geese, tafl, and the Celtic board games in this article. There may well have been some mystical elements, or divine intentions that could be derived from the outcome of the games. Disputes could be settled over board games, rather than resorting to arms.
This is not strictly a Celtic game, but one introduced from the various Scandinavian invasions from the 5th century onwards, and likely spread throughout the British Isles. It soon died out with the advent of chess as a strategy game of choice for nobility and the rise of mercenary armies instead of brotherhood bands, and the rules are also a bit hazy, but have passably been reassembled in the 20th century, although some may be actual new creations unlike the original. Many of the following Celtic board set-ups are sometimes postulated to be variants of Tafl, so we might as well explain its rules first.
There are different sized boards, and different distribution of pieces, but the generally theory is that there is a "king" in the center, with a few bodyguards around him, and about twice as many enemies lined up at the edge of the board. The king's strategy is to escape to the edge (or corner of the board for an extra challenge). The enemy'ss strategy is to capture the king. Both sides proceed by alternate turns. Captures are made by either side by moving two of their pieces such that they are on directly opposite sides of their opponent's piece (not diagonally), which is then removed from the board. I call this "squeezing" or "pinching" them. All pieces move like rooks in chess and can move horizontally or vertically, as many spaces as they wish, so long as no one is in the way. There are many variations that try to limit the inherent advantage of the king slipping through the net of the enemy to freedom.
Possible rule additions:
Only the king can occupy the center or the corner spaces.
King must be captured on all four sides.
The enemy cannot occupy both squares adjacent to a corner at the same time (diagonally one square away is fine, I think).
A piece can be "squeezed" against a corner square or the center square by a single piece on the opposite side.
A player may move into and rest on a space between two of the pieces of the opponent, without dying, in effect, requiring the surrounding opponent to move away and then back to effect the capture.
The king and his defenders cannot enter the original squares held by the defenders at the beginning of the game.
Fidchell (Fithcheall) and Gwyddbwyll
Now we get to the murkier world of the Celtic board games. Fidchell and its apparent Welsh linguistic cognate, Gwyddbwyll, appear often in ancient legends of fairies and the recreation of nobility as seen at http://www.seekermagazine.com/v0499/tongues.html and http://ipc.paganearth.com/diaryarticles/history/games.html . There are also accounts of kings giving boards to honored guests, on the reservation that they never give it away or sell it, implying a kind of holy status to the gift. The translation, "wood knowledge," also implies that some type of wisdom can be gained from playing the game; and what that is, well, you'll have to find out and relate it to us.
A 7 x 7 board was discovered in 1932 in a crannog (lake dwelling) in Ballindary, Ireland up north with little holes drilled in it, and head-shapped pegs. (See the sketch to the right.) and so people tried to figure out whether it was Bran-dubh or Fidchell. Most have guessed it was Fidchell, and that it was basically a "mini-Tafl" board with king in the middle, two guards radiating from each side and three foes on each side of the board. The goal was likely to get the king from the "belly button" to the corner (or "arms and legs") where the special quarter circle was etched. Could this be a description of how the soul emanates from the center to the limbs?
Variations that have been suggested:
Players must answer a riddle or trivia question to move on their turn,
possibly prepared in advance, according to agreed limits or a common agreed
topic that both know well.
Have to throw a dice and get an even number to move on your turn, although I doubt how well this would work.
Bran-dubh and Ard Righ
(Pronounced Bran-doo and Ard-ree)
We know even less about these variants on the same 7 x 7 board graphic as above. Bran-dubh means "Black raven" and Ard Righ means "high king" from the Gaelic. One reconstructed postulation that I liked has the king in the center and one prince on each diagonal from the king (four total). One baron flanks each side of the corner squares (i.e. 2 in each corner), thus eight barons in total. See this link for a visual presentation of this arrangement. http://users.indigo.net.au/darke/treubh/brandubh/lg_board_pieces.jpg.
Barons go first. All pieces can move one square in any direction, but barons and princes could also move two diagonally if the spaces are empty. You capture by stepping on someone on a single space move, but the king is immune to attack. The goal of the game is for the barons to wipe out the young princes and visa-versa. Usually, the princes run and hide while the king runs about like a maddened rhinoceros taking out the barons. If any piece stays in the corner for two rounds it is considered to be lost in the woods and removed from the board. Only the king can go on the center square. Most games I played end up with the king defending a prince in a corner region, with the prince bouncing between two squares behind the king, forcing a draw. Thus, it was recommended that players play two games, each time switching positions and adding up their total surviving pieces at the conclusion of their likely draws to determine an overall victor.
Fox and Geese (or Deer and Hounds)
Fox and Geese is probably also a Viking game of the hunt (and there are a few others) that spread widely in Celtic lands. 13 geese (some with more) and one fox are on the board (some with two). All move one square at a time, horizontally and vertically (others allow a diagonal move without capture). The fox captures by leaping over the geese, but can only jump one goose at a time. Thus two geese lined up are an insurmountable barrier to him. The goal of the geese is to chorale the fox until it cannot move. The fox is trying to eat all the geese.
One such variant board is at
How to Make the Boards:
These games have links to print out your own board that can be glued onto a stiff cardboard or sheet of plastic or glass. The playing pieces can be made from coins with affixed labels, colored glass baubles, draughts from checkers, pawns from chess, different colored rocks, candies, or carved wooden pieces. As far as I know, there are no on-line forums to play these games. Feel free to improvise the rules to make the games more balanced, or develop larger boards and new moves to widen the possibilities of play.
Naturally, the reconstructed rules may not resemble the original games, but
then we'll probably never know those rules; but the gods appreciate the effort.
When Leaves Leave Us
By Mike the Fool, DC Grove
Those of us in the northern half of the American continent are treated to the spectacular cycle of the four seasons. With our Druidic tendency to learn from trees, I thought it appropriate to write a little about what I've raked up from our teachers. Trees and plants offer so many possible models to understand the world and our place in it. Naturally, it consists of only my own opinions.
The Science of Leaves
Leaves amaze us. They come in many shapes and sizes, some are single leafed, others are compound (like an ash or locust). It appears that the shape has much to do with strategy. The vascularization of the leaf (the plumbing) tends to be radiative from the stem and spine, and the farther you are from that "backbone," the harder it is to supply and receive nutrients. It's more efficient to keep the edge of the leaf equidistant from these veins. Thus you tend to see lobing like oaks, maples, and such rather than just round leafs. No leaf can utilize all the sunlight that falls on it, and by being slightly transparent and lobed, lower branches can pick up the excess that is missed.
If they are so wonderful, then why do leaves change color and fall off in the autumn? Actually leaves are never constant, they change from the first pale greens of spring, to the dark greens of summer, and then finish in a blaze of rainbow glory. This is all due to the varying concentration of chlorophyll, a vital green pigment, that is present in the leaves. This chemical aids in transforming water and carbon dioxide from the air into sugars and starch that will feed the rest of the tree, something science is still trying to imitate. There are also yellow to orange pigments hiding in those leaves, which are completely masked from view by the abundance of chlorophyll for most of the year.
In the fall after the fruits, nuts and seeds are ripened, due to dropping temperatures and declining sunlight, the tree turns off the mechanisms of the leaves, and begins to withdraw the sap from the leafs, and the chlorophyll is allowed to degenerate. The more hardy pigments like orange (carotene), yellow (xanthophylls) or red (anthrocyanin) gradually become more visible. Different trees tend to have different colors in the fall, and the amount of sunlight or water and temperature will also affect the display. Aspen, birch and hickory tend to be yellow. Oaks are usually brown from the tannin. Beech can be bronze. Dogwood and sumacs range from purplish to red due to the anthrocyanin formed by trapped glucose. In order to slowly suffocate the leaf and protect the branch, a fragile cuticle of cells begins to build a barrier from the branch to the leaf. Eventually the leaf will be broken off by the wind or from its own disintegrating weight.
The Philosophy of Leaves
Leaves are the faces of the trees. Such tender, thin, flexible and fragile on the fringe of the organism. If they were made of the same sturdy materials as the branches, they would be unable to accomplish their tasks. It is their short, sad duty to be bombarded by the sun, munched on, blighted and live short lives; while sustaining the larger organism.
For me the leaves are representative of our interaction with the environment. We all have these little "antennas" out to bring in nourishment to different parts of our lives raining on us in all directions. Some of these leaves are attuned to sports, love, religion, food, politics, relationships, environment, entertainment, music, etc. The new ones on the top of our consciousness, tend to get more attention and sunlight, while the older ones down a few stories, live in shade, doing the best they can to get the sun's eye. In such a way, our irregularities can nourish others near to us, allowing them to supplement our weaknesses with what they pick up.
Every season of the year has its rough storms and strong winds, but most of us have gone through a few periods of "autumn" when we have pulled away from our outer world, shunned tradition sources of comfort, withdrawing resources inside ourselves away from extremities, and hunkered down for a long winter of re-examination of our identity and roots. But these leaves, when they fall, also will land on the outside of our roots, enrichening the exterior soil; and next spring, new leaves will likely emerge in most of the same spots as before on the branches. Sometimes a branch or limb may not grow back in the spring, but that's the changing palate of life.
The leaves never know
Which leaf will be the first to fall...
Does the wind know?
www.stormfax.com/foliage has an excellent list of toll-free foliage hotlines
for about 30 states from California to Georgia; useful to check before making
those trips to the mountains to see the fall colors. It also has useful
instructional pages for children.
www.fs.fed.us/news/fallcolors is run by the USDA Forest Service that details the foliage conditions at national forests from Washington State all the way to Washington D.C.
www.yankeefoliage.com is mostly geared for the North East from Yankee magazine, but it also has some arts and crafts ideas for using those leaves that you collect.
The Leaf Quiz
The following quiz is to test your knowledge of the more common trees of North America. I only chose trees that lose their leaves or needles in the fall in the upper half of the U.S. and Canada, since it's eternal spring down in the South. Although each genus may have dozens of distinctive species (such as Red Oak, White Oak, Burr Oak, etc.), I tried to pick the most identifiable species for this quiz. To check if your answer is correct, rest the cursor on the picture, and after a few seconds of lying still, a small box will pop up with the name of the leaf. Keep track of your score.
The leaf pictures are in a random order, but the following list of names is alphabetical: ash, beech, birch, cherry, chestnut, dogwood, elm, gingko, hawthorn, hazel, hickory, horse chestnut, larch, locust, magnolia, maple, oak, poplar, sassafras, sumac, sweetgum, sycamore, walnut, willow.
|Master of the woods.
You've obviously been oudoors a few times.
Average cubicle bound American (ACBA)
Hie ye to the forest, knave, and learn your trees!
The Soul of Juliana Spring
By Irony Sade
Copyright November 2000
A Druid Missal-Any is proud to present the fourth and second to last installment of the story of a young woman whose passion for the harp caused her to sell her soul. The Missal-Any staff wishes to remind the readers that before selling your soul, to consider carefully all the consequences. Can you live with them? Can you die with them?
We also would like to apologize for repeated chapters in the snail mail and email versions from the Lughnasadh issue. The Missal-Any had become a bit missal-aneous between the web and hard copy versions.
The wetlands behind my forest rose and fell with the changing water table. A family of wood ducks moved into a dying soft maple, and I watched each May to see their chicks take their kamikaze leap of faith. The young ones hatch in a hole fifty feet up the trunk and are raised there by their long-suffering parents. When the ducklings decide they are ready to leave, they scramble to the opening and tumble out. They then have but moments in which to learn to fly. Each spring I sat watching in the moss, and the terror and the joy of each plummet peeled years from off my heart.
The young lady who had sold me her soul was making the most of those years. While Sam drilled and researched his way toward twin degrees, Juliana played. She studied, practiced, improved, discovered, and soon she was herself discovered. The fiddle player of Sheebeg Sheemore was quitting the band, and the group's manager had offered her his place. "What do you think?" She asked over the crackling phone from Seattle, "Should I take it? "
"That depends on what you want."
"What do you mean?"
"Do you want to be a popular, successful, possibly rich and famous musician? Or do you want to be the best harpist in the world?"
"I want to be the best in the world," she decided.
"When you know what to do. "
"Yes, I guess so"
"Are you happy?" I chanced, just before she hung up.
"Deliriously! No worries at all!"
For several years after this she was traveling, six seasons in Ireland, three in Prague. She had moved beyond what any teacher could teach, into the boundless and stupefying realm of self-mastery. She learned something from every person she watched, heard, or played with, incorporated each skill into her own playing, and blossomed. She caught wind of an archaic bard in Scotland, of a novel percussive harping technique from Argentina. She traveled to see and to study, sharing always what she had learned.
A withering bout of Dengue Fever ended Sam's three-year tour as a village doctor in Papua New Guinea. He returned to the mid-west and started a family clinic, eventually buying a house with the profits. My own life and works progressed too, over that slow decade, but this is Juliana's story, not mine, so I shall not speak of those.
Late one December the couple invited me to spend the holidays with them.
"Julie is giving a Christmas concert," Sam told me. "And, well, we were thinking about getting married."
"After twelve years, I should certainly hope so!"
"We wondered if you would want to be in the ceremony."
"I would be delighted."
The concert taxed one's credulity. It was said that the old Celtic bards had three musical gifts: They could make an audience laugh, weep, or sleep dreamlessly at will, such was the power of their music. Juliana was almost that good. She played moods, memories, concert pieces, orchestral segments that were feats of pure skill, and songs that seemed dragged out of the listener instead of the harp. She played and played, and a hall full of musicians, students, artists, academics, fans, strangers, stragglers, and I sat in frozen wonder, our hearts scoured and our minds in awe at what her fingers drew from those shimmering chords.
When it was over I moved through the clamoring sea of admirers and stood beside the stage as the waves swept about her, saying the things that people always say when trying to express admiration of the inconceivable. Juliana stood flushed, as thin and tall as the day we had met, thanking them all with a quiet, blushing, angelic grace. One boy of ten or so was ushered forward between his parents and stood with fire in his eyes as they offered up their praise.
"My daddy says you must have sold your soul to play like that," he piped out between the thank-yous.
"Wow, wait," His father laughed, a hand on the boys arm.
"That's not true, is it? It's just lots of hard work and practice, right?" His parents chuckled nervously. Juliana smiled.
"I practice all the time," she assured the young, earnest eyes. "Hours. Every day."
The boy nodded as he was led away, but I witnessed how the harpist shivered once his back was turned. The flush of exhilaration had drained from her. The crowds flowed on unheeding.
There was tension over the dinner table of Hammersmith and Spring that night. Sam looked silent questions at the both of us through the meal, while the conversation danced and wandered, avoiding things not said in threes. I retired to leave them alone after the pudding, but the walls were thin, and when I lay down to rest in the dark spare room, their words crept through the woodwork.
"But what if he's right?"
"This is what you've wanted your whole life, Ju."
"But what has it cost us?"
"What about it?"
"Then he asked that it was as if all the things I haven't thought of in ten years leapt back. I've been so busy playing I never thought about the price! Sam... I sold that man my soul! Do you have any idea what that means?"
"No more than you do, when you stop to think about it."
"What's going to happen to me?"
"Ju. That man's been the best friend either of us has ever had. Did you know he talked the Chair of the Admissions board into letting me enter that seven-year program when I was still a junior? I didn't find out till after I'd graduated! He's helped us with everything we've ever asked, been there when our own families were not around."
"And I owe him my soul."
"So what if you do? You thought about all that before you left college and decided it was worth the sacrifice."
"Well, now I'm thinking about it again. I don't want to go to Hell, Sam, or just stop when I die, or go wherever Druids believe soulless people go. How can we even be talking about belief? If he buys the things he must know what happens to them!"
"You're getting hysterical, Ju."
"No I'm not! I'm just scared."
"Would you rather give up your music?"
There was silence after that, or sounds too soft for me to hear through pine.
I turned slowly from the wall feeling every one of my years, and the bitter pit of all the things that men have ever called me. Judas, Efnisan, Heart-wrecker. What becomes of people who cannot forgive themselves?
The doorbell chimed.
Sam's soft tread moved to answer.
There was a crash, a scream, the sounds of struggle, and I was out the door and moving before I knew I had risen.
A man I had never seen was swearing in the hall. Sam sat upright but dazed against the sofa, blood coloring his sandy pale hair. Glass from the door was sprayed across the carpet. The intruder turned to face me. We both froze.
Juliana's father was skeleton thin, his flesh burned off by the flames within him. A long coat billowed round him like a dark, wild, robe, threadbare and whisper thin. He looked like a man to whom heat and cold were the same: both inconsequential to the climate inside. His arms and jaw writhed in a frenzy of continual motion, the left hand, claw-like, snaking out toward me. He waved an iron crucifix like a blunt, inverted sword, and his eyes blazed with something that I never hoped to see. I looked up at him.
"You," he whispered. His knees crouched like a fighter's.
A door slammed and locked behind me. Juliana's voice was frantic on the phone. I studied his shoulders and the angle of his feet, feeling the room about me, and hoping there was space to move.
"I come only to reclaim my daughters soul, and God sees fit to set a devil against me, to test my will and courage. Well?" He roared, "Curse me, Druid! You cannot stand before the wrath of righteousness. Do your worst."
"I am your daughters friend, Mr. Raskin, and no more a devil than you are."
Blood from Sam's scalp dribbled from the crucifix.
"You lie. I've studied you. Orgies in the woods, preaching to young students, scheming and smiling and striving to undo two thousand years of Christ's work on earth. You seduce people away from the Trinity with your Triple Goddess and blind them with your nature worship. You tell them the world is God's word made flesh and the Good Books be damned and manage to hide my daughters movements from me across eleven years! Yes, I know you, you thrice damned Druid. Curse away before I strike you down."
"We both teach what we believe, Russell. No human being knows the full truth of reality. We each live as we think best and pay the price for that choice. You know this. Do not make it any worse."
There was a siren and the squeal of tires in the drive. Record timing, that.
"Clever, Druid, trying to turn my mind against me. But you are wrong. I know." He shuddered. "I know the will of God as well as you do, who seek to pervert it. And I know this too," he swung the cross in an all-encompassing arc. "The Lord has told me that no human hand can stop me in my mission. Not him on the floor, nor the foolish arm of the law, nor you neither, devil though you be. Curse away and meet your doom."
"Put down your weapon!" Came a voice from the door. Young, scared despite its training. "Throw down your weapon! -- Base, I need backup!"
"I will not curse you, Russell, and I will not let you touch your daughter. I have been her friend for eleven years, watched her through every storm, helped her realize a dream you would not even see. I have been more of a father to her than you have, and not you nor God can take that from me."
"I will take her from you now," he growled, advancing. (Drop your weapon, Mister!) "The care of her soul is in my hands, and takes precedent over any dreams of the flesh. God condones all actions undertaken in the interest of the soul. I will have her from you before she ends up just like her mother!" He spat these last words with a roiling hiss and raised the cross on high.
I do not often read people's minds. Sometimes I wish I never did at all.
"You bastard," I breathed. "What that you've done would your God condone?"
Russell Raskin halted mid stride. His eyes bulged. His throat gurgled something that would never be a word. His left side spasmed violently, and the force of it spun him twitching to the ground. The crucifix leapt from his hand, hiding its face in the carpet. Russell curled and splayed, and then lay still.
The policeman came forward, gun drawn.
"I would have shot him. Really, I would have."
Shut up, I willed him.
"What did you do to him?" He asked in awe.
"Nothing. Call an ambulance."
The beeps and muted bustle of the world's worst waiting room fought the smell of antiseptic for possession of the air, as I sat down to wait beside Juliana Spring. The slump of her tempered shoulders informed me she had no emotions left. Sam was sleeping down the hall, six stitches, no fracture, and an egg on his crown fit to hatch the Christmas turkey we had not had time to eat.
"Is he awake?" I offered, by way of conversation.
"What did you do to him?"
My eyes winced shut.
"I did nothing"
"How is he?"
"Doctor Sato says his mind is clear, but his body is completely wrecked. She says it was either a stroke or a heart attack, or possibly both at once. She says it's hard to tell because we don't have any medical records..."
She trailed off, gazing through the tiles. Her hands tore at a Styrofoam cup.
"The police searched his house for paperwork, but they couldn't find anything useful. Just junk and religious tracts...no records...no will..."
"They found..." Her voice died. She tried again.
I put my arm around her, but she was done with tears.
"They found my mother's teeth in the basement."
"You know? Why do you always know?"
I shook my head.
"What will you do?" Said I, when the silence became too painful.
"He's dying, isn't he?"
"Yes," I responded, knowing it was true.
"When I suppose I'll have to forgive him."
"That is up to you."
Nurses flitted past, pale as ghosts, busy as angels, each sacrificing their Christmas day to make the world a touch less painful. After a timeless tedium Juliana squeezed my hand.
"Thanks." Only a whisper, but sincere.
I smiled thinly.
"He wants to see you, you know," said Juliana suddenly.
"That's what he said."
"He didn't say. He just asked me to send in the damned Druid if he came around."
I contemplated the machines, the smells of death and healing.
"Then I will go and see him."
Witness the Autumnal Equinox
Sunrise and Sunset
at the UMass Sunwheel!
SUNRISE @ 6:45 a.m., SUNSET @ 6:00 p.m.
MONDAY & TUESDAY -- SEPT. 22 & 23, 2003
Members of the University community and the general public are invited to witness the passing of the seasons by joining Prof. Judith Young of the U.Mass. Dept. of Astronomy to watch the Sun rise and set over the tall standing stones in the U.Mass. Sunwheel for the upcoming Autumnal Equinox.
Visitors for the sunrise viewing should arrive at 6:45 a.m., and visitors for the sunset viewing should arrive at 6:00 p.m. The sunrise and sunset events will be held on BOTH MONDAY and TUESDAY September 22 and 23, 2003. For those interested in learning about the sky, there will be a presentation which will include the cause of the seasons, the Sun's path in the sky, the phases of the Moon, and the story of building the Sunwheel. Bring your questions, your curiosity, and DRESS VERY WARMLY; a $3 donation is requested. Sunwheel T-shirts & sweatshirts will be available for purchase to help cover the cost of future stone paths at the site.
The exact instant of equinox is 6:47 a.m. EDT on Sept. 23, very close to sunrise on Sept. 23. On the equinox, any observer located on the Earth's equator will see the Sun pass directly overhead at local noon and that person will cast no shadow at noon. For all observers on Earth (excluding the N and S poles), the Sun on the equinox is up for 12 hours and down for 12 hours, illuminating all latitudes! (At the N and S poles, the Sun would encircle the horizon for 24 hours, either very slowly rising or very slowly setting for the entire day). From the Sunwheel here in Amherst, the equinox Sun will be seen to rise and set through the stone portals in the East and West, a very lovely sight as we experienced last year. This year, the sky will be particularly beautiful in the early morning, with the waning crescent Moon visible before sunrise.
The U.Mass. Sunwheel is located south of Alumni Stadium, just off Rocky Hill Road. It can be easily reached from the center of Amherst, following Amity St. to the west, on the right hand side of the road about 1/4 mile after crossing University Drive. ALL VISITORS SHOULD WEAR WARM CLOTHING, SUITABLE FOR STANDING STILL ON WET OR SOGGY GROUND. In the event of rain, the events will be cancelled, and visitors are encouraged to visit the Sunwheel on their own. For more information on the U.Mass. Sunwheel, check out the web site at http://www.umass.edu/sunwheel/index2.html or call Judy Young at 413-545-4311. To arrange a Sunwheel visit for your class or group, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Judith S. Young
Professor, Dept. of Astronomy
620 GRC Tower B
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003
New Roman Goddess Found
A new Romano-British goddess called Senua has been identified among a buried hoard of gold and silver.
The goddess was part of a hoard discovered near Baldock, in Hertfordshire, the British Museum revealed on Monday.
Previously unheard of in the Roman world, she is believed to be a British version of the popular Roman deity Minerva, associated with wisdom, the crafts, healing and springs such as the spa at Bath.
British Museum specialist Ralph Jackson said: "Senua might have been likened to Minerva for any one or more of these perceived powers."
The hoard, found by a treasure hunter with a metal detector and now acquired by the museum, comprises 26 objects including gold jewellery, a silver figure and votive plaques of silver alloy and gold.
The museum said the treasure was buried in a manner that suggested it was being stored for safekeeping against possible raids.
One of the key pieces was the badly eroded 15 cm tall hollow silver figure identified as Senua dressed in a full-length garment, her left shoulder bare and her left arm supporting a fold of drapery.
Her hair is parted on the crown and formed into a bun on the nape of her neck, but erosion has taken away much of her arms, her feet and her face.
Although there was nothing on the statuette itself to identify it with Senua, a silver base for a figurine and inscribed with the goddess's name was found nearby and is believed to be the missing stand.
Along with the figure, several of the 19 plaques were also dedicated to Senua.
"Much work remains to be done on the hoard and on the investigation of its context, and it is likely there will be new and significant revelations," Mr Jackson said.
"For now though, this find has furthered our understanding of religious practices at the time and added a new name to the Roman-British lexicon," he added.
The Baldock hoard, thought to date from the late 3rd or 4th Century AD, will go on display at the museum from the middle of September.
The hoard was discovered in September 2002.
Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/england/beds/bucks/herts/3199191.stm
Published: 2003/09/01 17:02:49 GMT
© BBC MMIII
One of our subscribers sent in this etymology of the name Senua which offers some insight to Her name:
"Senua" looks related to "senos, senâ, senon" (of which, only "senos" and "senâ" are attested, afaik, and "senon" would be a reconstructed neuter form), which means "old, ancient." The Old Irish word "sen" (whence the modern Gaelic "seann" and "sean") is obviously cognate, as is the word "hen," found in Cornish, Welsh, and Breton. It could be "sen-" + *uâ or "sen-" + *u- + -â (the latter being the typical feminine suffix), but neither Gaulish nor Proto-Celtic lexicons list a word or root like *uâ or *u-, so these would be reconstructions and I would have to guess at a possible meaning. It could also be a dialectical variant of "senâ" (requiring a dialect that conjugated "senos" as a u-stem noun, for which there is no attestation, but we are talking about Brittonic here, and not Gaulish, so maybe; I'm not as familiar with Brittonic and its dialects) in which case it would mean "The Ancient One" (feminine).
Adoltoues Dęuonôm tei eti suobo,
(Croman mac Nessa),
Austria's Road Safety Solution: the Druids
By Michael Leidig, Vienna
The Telegraph, London
Sunday, August 10, 2003
Druids have been brought in to reduce the number of accidents on Austria's worst stretches of autobahn.
The Druids have put up huge roadside monoliths to restore the natural flow of 'earth energy'. After the huge pillars of white quartz were put up beside a deadly stretch of road during a secret two-year trial, the number of fatal accidents fell from an average of six a year to zero.
Gerald Knobloch, who describes himself as an archdruid, used a divining rod to inspect the 300-metre stretch of Austria's A9 highway in Styria and restore "earth energy lines".
"I located dangerous elements that had disrupted the energy flow," he told the Sunday Telegraph. "The worst was a river which human interference had forced to flow against its natural direction. By erecting two stones of quartz each weighing more than a ton at the side of the road the energy lines were restored."
The pillars had a similar function to acupuncture, he said. "Acupuncture needles also restore broken energy lines. What acupuncture does for the body, the stones do for the environment."
Harald Dirnbacher, an engineer from the highway authority, admitted that they turned to Mr. Knobloch as a last resort. "We had put up signs to reduce speed, renewed the road surface and made bends more secure, but we still kept getting accidents. At that point we couldn't think of anything else to do and decided we might as well try anything.
I admit when we first looked at it (energy lines) we were doubtful. We didn't want people to know in case they laughed at us, so we kept the trial secret and small-scale. But it was really an amazing turnaround."
Scientists are skeptical of the claims. "Natural sciences need evidence. Whatever can't be measured, does not exist," said Georg Walach, a geophysics professor at Leoben University in southern Austria. "These energy lines and their flow cannot be grasped or measured, and their existence is therefore rejected by scientists."
However, the motorway authorities are extending the Druids' role across the country, paying them about $5,600 for each investigation—a fraction of the cost of resurfacing the road. "Of course, the fall in accidents could be due to something else, as we are continuously repairing the roads." Said Mr. Dirnbacher.
Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, A Dictionary of the Welsh Language
Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, the great Welsh historical dictionary, has been completed after over eighty years' work. The project began in 1921 with the first 27 years being spent on collecting material for the dictionary. The first 64-page part appeared in 1950, and the final part (the 61st) was published at the end of 2002. Complete sets (4 volumes) of the dictionary can now be ordered through bookshops or directly from the University of Wales Press for 150 pounds sterling until the end of February 2003, when the price will revert to the usual 190 pounds.
Work began in January 2002 on re-editing the A-B section of the Dictionary, first edited in a very concise manner in the 1950s, and the first draft of this work is available online at http://www.wales.ac.uk/dictionary/gpc_pdfs.htm. The second edition will also be published in parts, and a shorter electronic version is also in preparation.
For full details, please see the Dictionary's website at: http://www.wales.ac.uk/dictionary/. [Note: demand for sets has been so great that some volumes are currently being reprinted. There may be a delay of several weeks.]
Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 3HH
ffôn/tel: +44 (0)1970 627513 ffacs/fax: +44 (0)1970 627066
Irish Trees: Myths, Legends & Folklore by Niall MacCoitir
(Trade Paperback; 22.50 Euro / 26.00 USD / 15.75 UK; 229 pages, with illustrations throughout
Hardback; 35.00 Euro / 40.25 USD / 24.50 UK)
Ancient Ireland was once heavily wooded and a squirrel could travel from Cork to Killarney without touching the ground. So it is no surprise that the mythology and folklore of trees were part of everyday life. A sprig of mountain ash tied to the tails of livestock kept the fairies from harming them. A staff of blackthorn was the best to have when out walking at night to ward off evil spirits.
This book, beautifully illustrated in specially-commissioned watercolours by Grania Langrishe, brings together the myths, legends and folklore associated with the native Irish trees. There are two main themes: the tree as a marker of important places, such as the royal site or holy well, and the role of different trees as sources of magical power in folk customs and traditions. Many 'powers' were common to different trees in spheres as diverse as fertility, magic, and the tree as a link between this world and the spiritual.
From Read Ireland @ Phibsboro Bookshop,
342 North Circular Road, Phibsboro, Dublin 7, Ireland
The Autumn Equinox will occur on September 23 at 3:47 a.m., Pacific Daylight
Time. Grove celebrations will take place on Sunday, September 21at 4 p.m.
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Samhain 2000, Day 1 of Geamhradh Year 38