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Newsletter of the Reformed Druids of North America
Lughnasadh Y.R. 39 (August 1st, 2001)
Volume 17, Number 5
Lughnasadh, funeral games of Lugh in honor of his foster mother, the beginning of the harvest, the Feast of the First Fruits. Technically still summer one can already feel the chill of the coming fall in the air here in Northern California. Though the sun is still setting late into the evening, the daylight hours begin to shorten and effort is begun in earnest to bring in the harvest while there is still light in the sky.
Lughnasadh was a festival that lasted a month long, beginning in mid-July and ending mid-August. It was a time of great feasting and games, as well as being a time of assemblies where political and legal matters were settled. Origins of the festival tell that it was established by Lugh to commemorate his foster-mother Tailtiu, the last queen of the Fir Bolg, who died at Teltown, (in County Meath) on August 1. After clearing the great forests of Ireland for cultivation she collapsed from exhaustion, and as she was dying asked Lugh to hold funeral games in her honor every August.
This year the wheat we left from the offering of the Bride-og beside the Grove altar at Oimelc sprouted. As part of our Lughnasadh service we will be re-enacting the Celtic ceremony of the Iolach Buana, the Reaping Salutation. As is tradition, we will be using a sickle, freshly polished and sharpened for the occasion.
The practice of the reaping salutation appears to be related to the "crying the neck" custom that was practiced on large farms in Devon. An old man, or someone else acquainted with the ceremonies, would go around to the sheaves as the laborers were reaping the last field of wheat, and pick out a little bundle of the best he could find. This bundle he would tie up very neatly and plat and arrange the straws very tastefully. This was called "the neck" of the wheat. After the field had been cut, the reapers, binders, and the women stood around in a circle. The person with "the neck" stood in the center of the circle, grasping it with both hands. He would first stoop and hold it near the ground, and all the men forming the ring would take off their hats, stooping and holding them to the ground in imitation of the person with "the neck." They then would all begin in a very prolonged and harmonious tone to cry "the neck!" at the same time slowly raising themselves upright, and elevating their arms and hats above their heads. The person with "the neck" did this also raising it on high. This was done three times.
The cries then changed to "Wee yen! Way yen!" which were sounded in the same harmonious manner three times. After this everyone burst out in joyous laughter with much capering about. One of the laborers would then grab "the neck" and run as fast as he could to the farmhouse, where the dairy maid or one of the other female domestics stood at the door with a pail of water ready to douse him, reminiscent of a rain charm. "The neck" was then hung in a place of prominence and honor within the farmhouse where it remained until the spring when it was mixed with the seed corn before it was sown or fed to the horses or cattle at the start of ploughing.
from the Carmina Gadelica, collected by Alexander Carmichael
The day the people began to reap the corn was a day of commotion and ceremonial in the townland. The whole family repaired to the field dressed in their best attire to hail the God of the harvest.
Laying his bonnet on the ground, the father of the family took up his sickle, and facing the sun, he cut a handful of corn. Putting the handful of corn three times sunwise round his head, the man raised the "Iolach Buana," reaping salutation. The whole family took up the strain and praised the God of the harvest (ed.: Michael, who Lugh became co-opted by in Christian times), who gave them corn and bread, food and flocks, wool and clothing, health and strength, and peace and plenty.
When the reaping was finished the people had a trial called "cur nan corran," casting the sickles, and "deuchain chorran," trial of hooks. This consisted, among other things, of throwing the sickles high in the air, and observing how they came down, how each struck the earth, and how it lay on the ground. From these observations the people augured who was to remain single and who was to be married, who was to be sick and who was to die, before the next reaping came around.
God Bless Thou Thyself my reaping,
Each ridge, and plain, and field,
Each sickle curved, shapely, hard,
Each ear and handful in the sheaf,
Each ear and handful in the sheaf.
Bless each maiden and youth,
Each woman and tender youngling,
Safeguard them beneath Thy shield of strength,
And guard them in the house of the saints,
Guard them in the house of the saints.
Encompass each goat, sheep and lamb,
Each cow and horse, and store,
Surround Thou the flocks and herds,
And tend them to a kindly fold,
Tend them to a kindly fold.
For the sake of Michael head of hosts,
Of Mary fair-skinned branch of grace,
Of Bride smooth-white of tingleted locks,
Of Columba of the graves and tombs,
Columba of the graves and tombs.
Carleton Grove: News from Minnesota
Carleton College is on summer break until September. Ehren reports that he is in Ann Arbor, enjoying some high=level physics courses. He didn't know there was a RDNA grove there 1973-76, but he cannot seem to find an adequate place to worship yet.
Monument Grove: News from DC
With the influx of pilgrims (and the fourth of July festival), D.C. is fully
charged up. But, all is quiet here in despite the usual hullabaloo. All in all
it is a pleasant summer. I've been busy with Japanese classes and keeping the
website up to date with all the new Groves joining it. We are now at the
ridiculous level of 27 or so Groves. The vast majority of which are probably
what you would call "Protogroves" in the "official" sense but, that only means
they don't have a constitution and a Third Order Druid yet. I have gotten a
membership from ADF, yes me, so that I can keep tabs on our granddaughter group;
which appears as busy as ever. Take care!
Volcano Grove: News from Tonga
One of the men I work with here, Saia, by name, has been asking me about Druidism. Religion plays a huge role in Tongan life, and I often ask him to describe parts of its impact. Invariably he returns the questions; "What are the religious duties of a druid?" "What money does the church collect, and what is it used for?" "What are the requirements for being a priest?" "What obligations do they have?" "Do they serve for life?" "Can they marry?" "Are there Druidic schools?" "To what moral code are Druids bound?" As it is the delicious doom of every Druid to answer such things for his or her self, I can only pass the questions on. May they stimulate much thinking.
A thing that fascinates me about his line of questioning is its purely practical focus. Not "What do you believe?" but "What do you do?" In a way it is not such a bad place to start. Actions are driven by values which may be derived from and supported by wildly divergent beliefs. Thus, if it be found that a group of Druids hold similar values, they can act in concert, even if those values are supported by different or even incompatable beliefs which each individual has developed through his or her independent search for spiritual truth. The forum then becomes: I value X; therefore I will do Y. This shift in paradigms has immediate consequences. Not the least being that it moves one out of the highly contested and poorly articulated realm of theology. Values, furthermore, seem to have a longer half-life than beliefs, which may suddenly shift in the light of new experience. Changes in what people value come only - I suspect- with a distinct change in a person’s character, which experience shows is rare indeed. The challenge is that one must engage in serious introspection to discover to which values one is really committed.
I did tell Saia the three moral commands supposedly taught by the old Druids: "Act Bravely, Honor the Gods, Do No Evil." Tongan is a tongue of many puns, and I discovered as I said it that the last statement also translates as "Don't Copulate Badly," a commandment bound to enthuse a certain class of Druids!
Somehow or other I have now been here over a year. Next Beltaine will mark my release from the Peace Corps. Still no clear plan on what is to follow. Japan is looking less likely. So is traveling right round the world, a trip many ex-volunteers arrange. I have gotten too deeply into this culture to enjoy a touristic whirlwind of several dozen others. I intend to see many other countries, but I wish to know them personally, and that will take time. I know I will return to the states, see my family, maybe publish a few stories. If possible I would like to criss cross the country a time or two, visiting al my scattered friends and correspondents. Perhaps I will build a new harp and simply be a bard for a while. Tis still too soon to tell..
Akita Grove: News from Northern Japan
It is rainy season in Northern Japan, which have dampened many of our outdoor frolics, forcing us to look toward indoor entertainments. With the heat and humidity, much of the grove is not willing to do much, although we are planning a trip up to the mountains to cool off.
Nozomi and I will be camping for a week and a half in the World Heritage area "Shirakami (White God?) Mountains." We will meditate, perform austerities, practice waterfall meditation, and perhaps some frolicking with the foxes. This is inspired by the Yamabushi (mountain saints) who wear ridiculous decorations while testing their spirits, visiting mountain shrines, doing dangerous stunts, and learning wilderness skills. Since there are no roads in the area, we intend to go in about three days and make camp.
Some members of our Grove will join us on July 28th to have our Lughnasadh service closer to the trail head. Unfortunately we cannot have a campfire in that forest, but we will have races, tests of strengths, a feast and a handfasting. Nozomi and I will renew. We pray the rice harvest will be bountiful.
In the meantime, we both have a very interesting ribald story for you. Take care! Yours in the Mother, Pat & Nozomi.
Druid Heart Spirit Grove: California
The Solstice was peaceful. We had just a few people here to celebrate with,
everyone else was either out of town or too hard to contact. I've been working
on trying to contact and organize for a campout for Lugnassa here on my
property. I wanted to have a full on festival with workshops, morning rituals,
Bardic fire circle etc. But, by the time I got my printer fixed to make the
flyers, that computer burned out. We are still doing the campout on the weekend
of Aug. 4-5, it might not be as large as I hoped. If anyone wants to attend,
please e-mail me at: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Baccharis Grove: California
Baccharis Grove is on hiatus the month of July due to our Preceptor participating in the Live Oak Renaissance Festival in Santa Barbara. She reports:
Even though I am not able to attend services, which I sorely miss, I am finding that I am in other ways able to uphold my Druidic practices, even unwittingly. Now this faire takes place in a California Coastal Live Oak forest that is beautiful to behold. Deer graze in the ravine. Western bluebirds fill the air, and there is evidence of wild turkey by their square-tipped feathers left on the ground. We arrived quite late the night before workshops and set up were to begin. I parked the car, turned off the engine, and then realized the car would get pretty hot sitting in the middle of field, so I moved it to beneath one of the oaks.
On Sunday while loading the car for the trip home small light green leaves on the ground caught my eye. These were not the dark green of the live oak! Upon closer inspection I saw that they were mistletoe. I looked up and located the hanging boughs in the branches of the oak tree. I remembered Pliny the Elder's words in his account of the mistletoe ceremony, "The mistletoe, however, is found but rarely upon the oak; and when found, is gathered with due religious ceremony" I felt extremely lucky and honored to have found this particular oak to park under. Was it coincidence, or instinct?
Last weekend I went by the corn dollie booth to purchase a birthday present for a friend. There also for sale were Bridghid's crosses made of wheat. Wanting to buy one from a Pagan-friendly source I bought it as well. Later that night our guild master was struggling, having a difficult time trying light a fire in our fire pit. Being practiced from setting our Grove's altar fire I offered my assistance and built a "Texas firebox." Lo and behold it lit immediately! I couldn’t help but think of the corn dollie I had bought earlier, and of Bride, goddess of the hearth and fire. Was it coincidence, or instinct? In the morning there were a few embers smoldering but they were not lighting. I once again used my skill at building a fire. This time the fire lit before I had even finished. I thanked Bride once again for Her help.
Amon Sul Grove (a.k.a Gandalf Grove)
The summer solstice was celebrated by observing the sunrise and sunset at the Sacred Circle. The Waters of Life was consumed on a regular basis during and between the two ceremonies. The Grove has adopted the following tenets:
1. The Amon Sul Grove is devoted to the worship of Nature.
2. We believe that all Druids are equal and consequently we do not recognize any hierarchical structures or "Orders."
3. All members are authorized to conduct any and all rites and rituals related to Druidism.
4. All offices are strictly functional and do not carry any status beyond conducting necessary organizational tasks of the Grove. The Arch-Druid shall publicly represent the Grove. The Scribe shall be responsible for the Grove correspondence. The Purser shall be responsible for handling the Grove finances.
5. Anyone wishing to be a member of the Grove shall inform the Scribe of such intent.
We will soon have a web-page up and running. Keep an eye out for it! Contact the Grove by sending an email to http://www.geocities.com/mikerdna/Gandalf952@cs.com
Dragon Oak Grove: News from Virginia
A new Grove has been formed in Virginia Beach, VA. Contact: Penny Kotyk via email at HexxOmbres@aol.com or through MSN Messenger at email@example.com. Their homepage is http://www.geocities.com/dragonoak1/index.html
|Candle Grove: California|
Contact Dusty White at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Order of the Mithril Star, Cylch Cerddwyr Rhwng Y Bydoedd: Mother
Grove of Oregon|
OMS Butterflye Grove: Colorado Springs
OMS Cylch Sequoia Sempervirons Grove: Crescent City, CA
Greetings from Cylch Cerddwyr Rhwng Y Bydoedd, the Mother Grove of the Order of the Mithril Star of the Reformed Druids of North America (Southern Oregon Branch). Our Mother Grove's name is Welsh and it means "Circle of Walkers Between Worlds," an allusion both to the Druidic Shamanism we practice and in honor of our co-founder, Adam Walks Between Worlds, who passed to Tir Na Og in February 1997.
We have been in existence since Samhain 1995 and currently have three Groves total and over 57 members throughout the United States. Although we started out as a Thelemic oriented tradition of eclectic Witchcraft, with a heavy influence of Heinleinism, our practices have evolved over the last few years to a much more Celtophilic, Druidic focus and have very recently affiliated with the RDNA as an expression of our Druidry.
We are proud to be representatives of RDNA and hope to live up to her high standards of scholarship.
Our website is currently located at http://www.ormus.org/mithril
May you never thirst, Stephen Gabriel
Vice-Arch Druid Order of the Mithril Star of the Reformed Druids of North America
MOCC Muskogee/Mother Grove
Br. Thomas Lee Harris, Jr. returned from the pilgrimage to Lawrenceville, GA on April 1st, making him the April Fool's Archdruid, apparently. There was an attempt to return on Good Friday so he could step off the bus saying "Muskogee, Muskogee, thou who killest the prophets," in recall of that fabulous pre-Reform Jewish Druid Br. Jesus's words in the gospel account concerning his entry into Jerusalem, but the glorious opportunity was foregone in order to be there for friends having medical problems.
There was a drumming hour on July 14 near Arrowhead Mall in Muskogee, but, being Oklahoma in the Summertime, it was just too dang hot. Two former members of the Muskogee Grove will be returning by Lammas, and an attempt at making the Grove much more active will be made, provided a decent schedule can be arrived at.
The Chronicle and the Ballad
of the Death of Dalon ap Landu
In 1999, the Hazelnut Grove, in a period of isolation and frustration with no reading material on Dalon Ap Landu (a God only known to the RDNA, apparently we discovered him in 1963) decided to replace him with the much better documented "Hu Gadarn," who has a history running back to 1703 when Iolo Morganwg discovered him.
The reason for the ballad about the battle is that the AD wanted to just ditch Dalon Ap Landu because he couldn't find any literature on him, and he was afraid that we would be laughed out of the room by those for whom we did demo rituals. He did, however, find literature on Hu Gadern. Well, as always in the Reform, there were those of us who rebelled and felt that Dalon Ap Landu should not be just unceremoniously dumped like a bad date. And it hit me one Friday night during our Druid Think Tank meeting. If DAL must die, let him die as any Celt would want to, in battle. So, I wrote the chronicle and the ballad.
We figure that he was a thought form created by the founding fathers of the Reform, because still being Christians, they felt uneasy about calling up any real Pagan deities. It is my personal belief that by now as a result of having been called upon for 30 plus years, he is at least an eggregore by now, and one day could attain true godhood. And in ritual, whenever Hu Gadern's name is mentioned, we whisper Dalon Ap Landu’s name that it may remain a mystery to the multitude.
The Death of Dalon ap Landu
And in those days a great cry went up from those of the cross traditional circles that a ritual shall be held to show the multitude what the Druids of the Reform did in their worship. In the writing of the ritual for the common worship, the scholars and Druids had pored through tome after tome in the Arch Druid’s great Celtic library, but could find no reference for the name Dalon ap Landu, or even of his progenitor Landu, and much did the ArchDruid fear the ridicule of the scholars of the cross traditional circles. But a name did come up. One Hu Gadern was the Lord of the Groves for the ancient Cymry, and so his name replace that of Dalon Ap Landu.
But there were those in the Grove who mourned the passing of Dalon Ap Landu. To them, even a young god was a fit deity who should not be cast aside as a worn shoe. Long did they whisper whenever the name of Hu Gadern was mentioned the doughty name of Dalon Ap Landu. To some it did seem as an in-joke, and to others a mystery.
But there was one who gathered her courage to speak onto the ArchDruid, "If he is to be dead, let him die a fit death for a Celtic deity. Let him die in battle."
And behold, the ArchDruid objected not.
Long had Hu Gadern slumbered under the barrows of the honored Celtic dead. But as gods will often do, Hu Gadern stirred when he heard his name being called. Lo, did they call upon his name to bless the sacrifice of life and the libation. And when he stirred, he knew that there was another god he must face in combat for the privilege of being called upon to bestow the blessings. And behold did he know this, because when his name was called, the other's name, Dalon Ap Landu, was whispered softly.
And when that name was called, be it ever so softly, Dalon Ap Landu did hearken onto his name, even as so youthful a god was he, did hearken onto his name. He knew he must face his nemesis in open combat, in a duel to the death. He armed himself with a spear made of the deadly yew, and armored himself with a targe of solid oak and armor of oaken bark; for after all was he not Lord of the Groves? His shining copper locks were held back by a strip of under-bark, and his blue eyes flashed in the sun.
When the two came together, thunder roared among the boughs of the trees and the ground under them shook. Dalon Ap Landu struck first a blow upon Hu Gadern's mighty thew. But that did not even slow Hu Gadern down, and he, with his spear also of deadly yew, ran Dalon Ap Landu's noble chest through. All the youths who were looking on wept bitter tears for the death of the young and doughty Dalon Ap Landu. Manfully did he struggle with Death. But the Cailleach did scoop up her charge and sped away with Dalon Ap Landu.
But even now in the rites when the name of Hu Gadern is called upon, the name of Dalon Ap Landu is ever whispered by some, and so shall it continue to be a mystery onto the multitude.
The Ballad of the
Long were his locks of shining copper hue
His spear was of the deadly yew
Long had the scholars toiled to find his name so true
His only crime was that he was new
Scholars did find as Lord of Groves one Hu
Only thirty six years had he, as gods go, that's pretty new
They came together, a clash of arms, Dalon and Hu
Then came the spear of the Lord of Groves named Hu
And still we sing of the death so long and cruel
by Tegwedd Shadow Dancer
Note from Mike Scharding, Monument Grove:
We have it on very good authority (from a certain anonymous Floridian Druid) that Dalon Ap Landu choreographed his death in 1999, with the help of Braciaca, his drinking buddy, in order to take a well deserved vacation under the auspices of the Deity Protection Program. After blessing the Everglade's mangroves (which are overseen by the god, Darolia) he returned to full duty and bears no grudges. "I enjoy this dying-rebirth god activity, you know, it's invigorating," was his only comment. For further news updates, please contact your nearest tree.
The Parathentical Epistle
(Where do people get their ideas on Druids?)
As always, I speak for myself, and certainly do not represent the opinions of the Reform or other members. Why, in fact, I don't often agree even with my self. Sometimes I have the most interesting conversations when I talk to myself.
Few people join the Reform, or any other Druid group for that matter, without some pretty strong preconceptions already established. Man has always wished to control Nature, rather than be controlled (or rather, just a part) of Nature, so myths are rife with gods, demi-gods or even mere mortals can twist or manipulate mighty Nature to their own whims and needs. "Man" is often defined as the animal which uses tools, although we know that chimps use sticks and some birds sew their nests. I would redefine Man as an animal that uses drugs,which may make you smile(I refer you to the 5th Order for further guidance), but in a real way we all wish that we were something that we are not. There are several avenues to accomplish this goal, mainly: drugs, insanity, and fantasy. Religion tends to wander in and betwixt these three options, acting as a possible accelerant to their flames.
Fantasy is by far the most socially acceptable option in our present society. This can take on many forms; day-night-wet dreams, the entertainment media which provides us a brief respite, living our dreams vicariously through other more famous people (i.e. soap operas), myths –gossip- stories, drama and games.
Tolkienn is often credited with being the grand-daddy of the Fantasy movement, so we all should add "The Hobbit" to our Grove libraries. I seriously believe that without Tolkienn, there would be no Reform. (Or if there had been no McCarthy or inquisition. As all of you Dr. Who fans know, changing the past in reality is a very dangerous activity, but changing our understanding of the past is big business).
So, let's talk about Dungeons and Dragons, an influential off-shoot of this Fantasy movment. We all know that Role-Playing Games (RPG) and the medieval Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), both starting in 1971-ish, grew hand-in-hand with the Neo-Pagan/Wiccan/New-age emergence. Perhaps, those evangelists are correct in saying that RPGs are a breeding ground for Paganism; which they add is a "bad thing" Strangely enough, I kind of agree with them. I first played D&D in 4th grade in the school yard, exploring the "S2: White Plume Mountain" scenario, as, can you guess? Yes, a 6th Level Druid named "Magoor" if I remember rightly. My understanding of magic was heavily influenced by that game over the next 8 years, as well as by the definitions of the 9 alignments (Lawful Good, Neutral Evil, True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, etc.), and the ordering of the Planes of Existence. (I dare not touch the topic that experience points and advancement are only gained by slaughtering others, which is actually capitalism) D&D provided a structure for me in which multiple pantheons of deities, ruling separate realms, could co-influence their respective spheres of activity over our mortal plane of existence (a concept that is no doubt conducive to my own eclectic brand of Druidism). Yet it wasn't until College, that I began to depart Catholicism (the True Paganism!, according to some people.)
I am sure that Brother Isaac Bonewits (refer to his academic "Real Magic" tome or his RPG "Authentic Thaumaturgy" would be the first to agree with me, that these popular visions of fireball-flinging wizards are perhaps detrimental and distracting to the more practical magic that we are usually inclined towards practicing (although it would be fun to unleash a ninth-level "gcreeping doom" (i.e. a cloud of bugs) upon certain opponents.) As Brother Shelton (CL69:Savitzky) once told me, "I spent most of my time telling people what the druids were not."
So that brings us back to Nature and the perception of our relation to it. In numerous fantasy novels (in particular, the "Shannara" series), computer games ("The Druid" and the game "Mystery of the Druids" advertised in the Samhain issue, etc) and also in AD&D (where we are a special sub-class of Cleric); where we have been laden with the image of a rather crochety old man, usually robed with a deep hood, who is rather neutral of human concerns (because nature does not concern itself with good or evil), hauling rocks around the landscape for no apparent reason (perhaps they were the inventors of the construction cartel?), in control of secret powers related to the control and protection of Nature, and loitering in dark leafy groves singing groovy tunes (that sounds like me, except the "old" part, I'm only 30). Unlike most clerics, the powers of fantasy figures come through the study of Nature not the imploration of the god(s), and "absorbing of energies" or the gruesome activities of which the Ancient Druids are often accused (perhaps rightly), we can also change shape!
Adding to this stew, are the Celtophiles; who claim the Druids could do anything your ancestors could do, and could do it better (if they really wanted to try), including an imposing list of cultural, judicial, musical, medicinal, philosophical & astrological skills that would make a modern renaissance liberal-arts student blush in shame. I suppose they didn't have specialists back then? Don't forget that famous verse of "Gimme that old time religion" goes "We will worship like those Druids, who drink fermented fluids, waltzing naked through the woo-ids, and that's good enough for me!" (This, at least, describes the Carleton Grove rather too perfectly.) As for the general public's opinion, don't forget lead guitarist Nigel's adept summary, in the movie "Spinal Tap" with his introduction to the song Stone Henge; "Long ago, in a mystical land, were a strange race of people, the Druids. No body knew who they were, or what they were doing. But their legacy lives on in STONEHENGE!"
Finally, there are our siblings in the UK & Europe, who are dotty over dolmens, heady over henges, and have a really poor fashion sense towards ridiculous headgear, unflattering robes, & gaudy jewelry. (I'm sorry, perhaps I'm really AM talking about us?) This has been going on for at least four centuries, (see "The Famous Druids" by Owen in 1979)!
Whew! For good or bad, this is the image and mental baggage, which nearly all our recruits bring with them to the RDNA. What's the problem with it, because it sounds really exciting and it is great for marketing our image (except that bit about sacrificing, which I might discuss further next time)? Well, nothing I guess really is really wrong, but I believe the founders of the Reform had different key elements; simplicity & revolutionary defiance (which I might add are key Scottish attributes). The RDNA began over the issue of not being coerced into worshipping the way other people want us to do (and perhaps it still is?). Now, I am a rather antagonistic person myself, being 41.32352% or so Celtic-ish (The easiest way to make an Irishman to decline an action is to order them to do it), always taking up an opposite view to balance things (there is my lasting imprinted notion of "neutrality" again), so I hate being defined by other's fantasies (mine are sufficiently strange, thank you!). But it is only by examining your presumptions and preconceptions that you can know where you're coming from and going to.
The previously described image (the word "describe" also has a meaning of corralling or limiting) is rather similar to the one that many in the ADF, OBOD, Keltria & some of us are (perhaps willingly) striving towards, I believe. What has made us stand apart from the pack of other Druid groups, is probably our well-developed sense of sarcastic humor (an ancient Druid trait) & our skillfully inept organizational skills (unfortunately, also an ancient Celtic trait). However, borrowing the Taoist image of "the un-carved block of wood" whose future shape is yet undetermined, and therefore infinitely versatile; I believe each and every grove, yea!, every Druid in the Reform should consider stripping away these accretions (there's that "Waltzing naked in the woods" cry for simplicity!), return to the seed of Druidism (which may be something about Nature, isn't it?), then allow their trees (& grove) to follow Nature's course (please be reserved on pruning the mistletoe that clings to your boughs, too).
Like it or not, as a group, we are diverse, anarchic and eclectic. In the past we had Norse, Zen, Celtic, Hasidic, Wiccan, Non-Aristolean, Humanistic, Orthodox and others paths which had no easy labels (take a look at http://www.geocities.com/mikerdna/www.geocities.com/mikerdna/wheregrove.html for a fuller list).
In all honesty, our group has not been conducive to a Reform-wide mythology, theology, voting rules, set ritual, long-term membership, powerful-lobbying body, fund-raising, recognition by IRS, or fashion (Och lord, how I've tried, but I am a color blind Scot, yowsers!) For most, that sounds like failure. But a leopard shouldn't complain about its spots. I heard once that a sign of a good teacher (hopefully, one of ours is the Earth-Mother ) is not the answers she gives, but the kinds of questions that she raises. I believe that, under her tutelage, we have produced a healthy crop of really good questions about some very basic concepts and issues, (bull-shit is very good fertilizer). As long as that activity continues, whether we call it Druidism or not (an oak is an oak is an oak), then the RDNA lives on. Now that I've said my piece, what do you think?
The Greymalkin Gazette needs YOUR articles or poetry. The length for articles, good original articles on any topic in Paganism or Magick is between 300 and just under 1,000 words (one to four typed pages). Poetry does not have a length limit, but something like the Sagas or the Eddas would probably be too long. Good topics are those about the Goddess. It should be the body of the email, as I have a tough time opening attachments. Send to: email@example.com (at Hazlenut Grove) or if on hard copy, snail mail to:
The Greymalkin Gazette
P.O. Box 6775
San Jose, CA 95150-6775
Do something delightfully fun and different—sign up for the Learning Annex summer afternoon herb walk in Marin County's magnificent Tennessee Valley!
With herbalist Catherine Abbey Rich as your guide, you'll learn about the awesome healing powers of herbs, plus how to: identify herbs you can use for both cooking and medicinal purposes; use them in a variety of soothing remedies, comforting herbal teas, delicious soups, and full meals. Plus: folklore and herbal remedies from around the world. The walk is an easy three-hour hike. Please dress in layers, bring water and sunscreen, and wear comfortable shoes.
Sunday, Sept. 9, 3 to 6:30 p.m.
Course fee: $39.
Call (415) 788-5500 to register.
Lughnasadh, when the Sun is half-way between Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox, will occur on August 7, at 3:54 a.m. as 15 deg of Leo or as 16 deg 18 min decl at 6:25 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time. Lughnasadh services will be held on Saturday, Aug. 4 at Solar Noon. Please call for carpool arrangements (510) 654-6896. For the social observance of Lughnasadh we will be going immediately after the service to Pyramid Brewery in Berkeley. Regular Druid services will be held at Solar Noon on Aug. 19, Sept. 2 and 16. Please call the above number to confirm.
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All original authors contributing to A Druid Missal-Any have and maintain their own copyrights. The published pieces are here with the permission of the original author.
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