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Newsletter of the Reformed Druids of North America

Lughnasadh Y.R. 41
(Jul 31st, 2003)

Volume 19, Number 5

 

 

CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE:

Lughnasadh Essay
News of the Groves
The Mountain, a Poem
Sigily, a Druidic Board Game.
The Missionary Im-Position
The Soul of Juliana Spring, Part 3.
Calendar



 Lughnasadh, festival of the funeral games of Lugh the Sun God, or, given by Lugh in honor of his father the Sun, depending on your tradition. It is the beginning of the Celtic harvest season, and is often called Festival of the First Fruits. Lugh, from the same root word as light and luminous, is one of the younger generations of gods in the Celtic pantheon. Like other Indo-European solar deities, his growth was rapid,, being the size of a 10 year old when he was five, and gaining full manly size and skill by age 10 or 12. He is the multi-competent god, not specializing in one function, but capable in all. Even as a child he was expert at any craft or skill from his first attempt at it. As a boy of eight, according to Welsh legend, while his goddess-mother was measuring his foot for a shoe, he picked up a bow and arrow and shot a wren in the leg. This, the story goes on to explain, was the favorite demonstration shot of Celtdom's best crack archers. His mother was delighted, and Lugh went on to become a parent's dream come true. He was good at everything, polite, chivalrous, and an example of filial devotion.

 Later, as a young man, when he applied for admittance to the company of the elder gods, he is quizzed by the gatekeeper as to what he can offer. "I am an excellent smith," he says. "We have Goibhne the smith," said the gatekeeper. "We have no need of that." And this continues to be the reply as he lists each one of his skills. The gods already have one of their number who is an expert in that domain. Finally, frustrated, the boy shouts, "But do you have anyone who can do them all?" The gatekeeper reflects that, no, they do not. And so Lugh is admitted.

Lugh is the patron of craftsmen, apprentices, and artists. In another tradition, he is also associated with money and the accumulation of wealth. This is his only functionalistic connection with a harvest festival. The Funeral Games of Lugh, whose title for this high day may also refer to the fact that by now the Sun is past his Zenith, and is declining again toward the South.

In the R.D.N.A. traditions, anyone who has a garden, grows anything, etc., should save their first picked produce of the summer season, and bring it or a portion of it to the Service, to be offered up in the altar fire, with hopes of prosperity in the years to come.

By Emmon Bodfish, reprinted from A Druid Missal-Any 1986


 News of the Groves 
 

 Carleton Grove: News from Minnesota

Part I reported by Stephen Crimmins, Arch Druid

With Carleton out of session the Carleton Grove is taking a break from regular activities. The second part of the 40th Reunion was held around the solstice and, though very few of the people at the Beltane celebration were present, the second part of the reunion was also successful with a number of former Carleton students showing up for a few, or many of the activities along with two Carleton students, myself and Corwin, my fellow Archdruid. There was even a request that we sing The Ash Grove made by members of the class of '53, though we were sadly unable to comply.

Though the most of my fellow students have left, Northfield it self is certainly ripening...it's particularly nice to be out of session right now so that I can notice this... Though it means hot days and nights and mosquitoes, the summer has brought other gifts, including a ripening blackberry bush in the back yard. We started to pull the ripe ones off the other day and after a few minutes we had decided to turn our bounty into an after dinner treat of cobbler that night. We braved mosquitoes and thorns and found ourselves with a few cups of blackberries. Though not carried out with other druids, I think this was a thoroughly druidic activity.

Part II reported by Mike Scharding

It's summer time, and the June Reunion for the 40th Anniversary was a mixture of small successes amidst a baffling over-estimate of general turnout. Carleton had provided a mailing to 400 past members, and listed us prominently in the official schedule, yet only a handful showed up at any one event. The May Reunion had about 35 people over the weekend, as compared to June Reunion at 24 with a large overlap of 8 local people. I had been expecting about 50-60 people. That being said, the weather was all too sunny, 95F and not much wind. That might have had something to do with the reluctance to trudge about in the jungle-hot Arb.

Many people stopped by the lunch and dinner tables to comment on their memories of the RDNA or to inquire about Wicca. The planned movie had to be scrapped due to a missing tape. The archives rummage turned into a round-robin chat session and photo-exchange from May Reunion. The sweatlodge went well with 6 attendees from the 1985-present period, with old-timer Brandon Schields and Alice Cascorbi leading one session. Unfortunately, the tarp and poles and broken shovel were thrown out by grounds crew two days later, after we forgot to take them down. Which was interpreted to mean it was time to get new materials.

The main service had nine attendees, and a rose was offered by one member, and Steven climbed up into an Oak tree and cut off a small twig and dropped into a large white sheet held by the members (ala Pliny the Elder). Mike also gave a severed head sacrifice [of cabbage], and then solemnly said, "Lettuce pray,"and the winds politely answered. A fiery wooden wheel was rolled down the hill in the Scottish tradition to gauge the future, depending which direction it fell. The Druids were generally dissatisfied with the omens, after which Richard Shelton confided to me that you shouldn't state which side is good until it has already fallen down. I guess I still have much to learn about divination. After the service, we went to the Stone Circle for lunch, but due to the heat, it was quickly concluded and no games ensued.

The mysterious Midnight Torch-lit Tour of the Arb went well. As usual the wishing game was done on the field below the Hill of Three Oaks, wherein blindfolded members try to walk from one set of rugby goal, across the field, and through the other goal posts. Most members did loop-de-loops or amusingly wandered off into the cornfields. The toilet paper torch idea went reasonably well and was cheap amusement. If you soak the toilet paper roll on a stick in alcohol, be sure to use vodka or higher strength; but certainly keep it loosely wrapped to allow air in; and it is advised to have a light window screen wrapped around it to catch floating flaming fragments. On the way through the Arb's prairie section we were surprised to find a small herd of cows happily munching away as part of the restoration project. There hadn't been cows in the Arb since 1963, and so this was taken as a good sign of returning good times; especially for college pranksters. There were literally thousands of lightning bugs in the forest to match the star-spangled sky above us on that warm night.

There were no vigilers and the farewell service on Sunday morning was attended only by two members. We thanked the spirits of the Arb for hosting us and asked them to look after the current students.


 Akita Grove: News from Japan

Nozomi says that all is doing well and hopes to rejoin RDNA chats and society in December when she has more free time. Pat sends a new game called "Sigily" to the other RDNA members, and the full rules are listed in a separate article in this issue.


 Birch Grove: News from New Hampshire

Birch Grove is meeting, when we can get a few minutes to rub together, in our beautiful woods. We are broke, not getting enough hours of work for the last three months and eating out a lot as we shuttle between the old property and the new, and stressed out. Our carpenter has almost finished cutting the remaining hemlock framing which he had to leave last Fall when the Winter came too early. He says we can start framing in a week or so. Phyllis & I are his crew. So we expect to be exhausted most of the Summer. We have a foundation, a septic system, and a well. We are still trying to sell the old house.

We love being up here. It is beautiful. The fireflies are so numerous it's mesmerizing to watch. The Milky Way stretches across the sky, the Moon sets in Maxfield Parrish blues. The cut wood we are hauling from the hayfield to the building site smells so sweet. We are stressed, with our awareness pulled in so many different directions, and worrying about money, and yet...We have no real doubt that we will be able to finish the house, at least in some form {maybe not the fanciest finishes or appliances}and be able to celebrate Yule in it. We have worked and planned and dreamed so many years for this, it's still hard to believe we are here and doing it.

So there's our harvest. We hope our Autumn is long enough for us to enjoy what we are reaping for years and years to come. We have so much to learn & to do & to build. Being Human we often wish, of course, that we could have done all this years ago. But, like a garden, we grew in our own time & way, and this fruit, borne however late, is full & sweet.

Happy Autumn to all the Druids. We wish we could show all of this to all of you.


 Bamboo Grove: News from Delaware

As Lughnasadh approaches, I have the sense that life has produced an especially bountiful harvest this year. After 6 1/2 long years, I've finally graduated college. I now have a beautiful condo to share with my significant other and assorted grove members (cat, guinea pigs, mice, snakes) and it overlooks a river, well, a river used by barges at times and industrial sites nearby, but a river nonetheless.

Lest you think my life is all berries and sunshine, there have been some thorns that have pricked my hand as I reached for the ripest fruits; the full time job I had lined up for after graduation, which I thought would be perfect for me, turned out to be something completely different from what I had imagined. I ended up leaving after a short time in order to find a different way to sustain myself financially and more importantly, to nourish my soul at the same time. So in this season of harvest, I hope to have a big plump job fall right into my gathering basket!

To me the harvest means that it is time to look for the fruits of my labor (be it physical, spiritual, etc.), to look back on a season of growth and hard work, to reflect on what could be changed for the better next time around, and a time to be thankful for what I have been given (even if it meant getting a hard lesson or two). It is a time of things winding down, a waning moon, sitting on the porch and reminiscing about the past year, a pause in the frantic rush of life, and a time to sit down to a full table filled with the bountiful harvest of the Earth Mother.

May you all have a bountiful harvest,
BrightMirage


 Digitalis Grove: News from DC

Mike is looking for new grove members interested in chatting or meeting in the D.C. metro region, so write to mikerdna@hotmail.com.

In his spare time, Mike is looking for a new job with an international relations aspect, studying introductory Korean (to expand from Japanese specialty to North East Asian affairs), continuing to train a guide-dog puppy, and moving to a new house. No rest for the weary, I suppose.

As for the ever-extending deadline for ARDA 2 publication, it is sad to say, the main volume won't be ready until mid August (at best), with the Green Books and Magazines undergoing a second close review by Mike and Stacey respectively. Be sure, when the internet version does come out, you'll hear quickly on the conference; but in the meantime be patient.


 Dravidia Grove: News from Maryland

Hello all,

Weather is hot, rainy, hot, rainy, feeling like a yo-yo here. All is well except the adjustment to the local bullfrogs that have moved in under the back of the house, and the 2 billion ants that seem to be everywhere, have started my college courses and am quite busy due to work, college, family and all that.

Have spent a lot of time observing the stars when they are out doing some of the editing for the 400 and some files that everyone wants a copy of. Have added a friend to help with the editing and have added about 7 new books to my physical library, most of which are by Cunningham. When to find time to read them hmmm.. Well that is all...

Dolanimus


 MOCC--Muskogee/Mother Grove: News from Oklahoma

In cooperation with the Muskogee Public Library, MOCC: Muskogee/Mother Grove's Bardic College put on a Bardic Circle in June. It was announced on Witchvox and in the Muskogee Daily Phoenix. Five people showed up, and we had selections from Cherokee mythology, 1950s-60s popular music and even a "rabbit-jumped-into-the-hole" story. For those of you unfamiliar with the "rabbit-jumped-into-the-hole" genre, it appears to be invented by Rebecca Jean Saunders and is carried on by her stepson Mark Sydney Harris. It begins with an anecdote, campfire story or urban myth type of setting, then the protagonist is distracted by a moving color (white, brown, black, spotted or so forth). They begin following the color along by way of a merry chase that leads nowhere, then "rabbit-jumped-into-the-hole" The whole point of the story is, of course, that the rabbit jumped into the hole. We received more email than attendees at the meeting, so we assume there is enough curiosity about the Bardic Arts to warrant to warrant another Bardic circle.

In the MOCC Grove of the Three Rays, one of our online groves, there was a couple postings wondering about the lack of unity in the faith community. After posting my response, I spent some time wondering about unity in the M/M Grove. The song "Circles" says: "The greater the circle, the more the love grows..." M/M Grove learns this lesson every month. While some groves have problems with unity--even if they have lots of activities and a strong ritual base, our grove keeps getting this wonderfully eclectic bunch of folks. We freely admit that, direction wise, we may be different as day and night, but grove-wise we're definitely a community.

Being a community has meant a lot of things for us. I'd like to share a few of them with my colleagues. Not everyone can make meetings, even once in a while. Still, everyone who feels a part of it can identify with the grove. Our Rule may have a hierarchy, but we usually ignore it because our Grove has a heart. Plan for pliability. The Grove belongs to the Gods, not to a guru, and not to gossip. Like all relationships, a Grove takes work, communication and trust. Not everyone is at the same place spiritually...no two trees are identical either, but they seem to share the same dirt just fine. Be extended family for one another. Spend time on yourself. Wounds heal. Seeds happen. Hibernation is cool. Everyone accomplishes, everyone shares, everyone benefits.

No grove is without its problems, but you don't kill a tree just because it is growing in a different direction than the rest. Wild is healthy. Diversity contributes to the survival of the whole. It is okay to have scrub brush among the oaks. In the eyes of the Old Ones, there is neither high-class or low-class, only kinfolk. Do not let the banner touch the ground...if one leader falls, have extra leadership to help take up the slack. Everyone is capable of being a leader, they only need the opportunity to understand that fact with hands-on experience.

Br. Myrddin A Maeglin
Archdruid, MOCC: Muskogee/Mother Grove


 Cylch Cerddwyr Rhwng Y Bydoedd Grove, News from Oregon

Thou art God/dess:

The Sun God Lugh has been sending one heat wave after another to us here in the Rogue Valley, and we are doing our best to stay cool! Gardening and magickal workings are only done in the early morning, dusk, or late into the evening during this season! The first Rogue Valley Druid leadership summit was held at Sybok and Ceridwen's cabin in the Cascade foothills in early July. We all agreed to disagree, and not let our differences become barriers to networking. In anticipation of their relocation to the "Redwood Empire" Sybok & Ceridwen handed over the controls to the So. Oregon Pagan Network website and discussion group to Aigeann, lead Druid of the Rogue River ProtoGrove (ADF). Future meetings were discussed.

Ceridwen and Sybok plan on a fact-finding mission to Arcata CA later in August. We'll meet with members of the Sequoia Pagan Alliance (http://www.sequoiapagans.org/) and with old friends from the original "Jefferson Index", as well as meet, greet, and hug our friends, the sequoia sempervirons.

The Midsummer session of Druidcraft 101 is well under way. We started this time with a record breaking 120 total. With Lesson 3 just sent out, we are down to a more reasonable 86. So far no new members have joined. But, "waiting is." The next online Druidcraft 101 class begins November 2nd. To enroll, send a blank email to druidcraft101@yahoogroups.com or enroll online at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/druidcraft101 For more details, visit http://www.mithrilstar.org/d101.htm

Druidcraft 202 (A Walk Through the ARDA) began June 22. This is a revised class encompassing the NEW improved ARDA. Once again, Norm and Michael are with us sharing their unique perspectives, and they seem to be having fun doing it, although the class as a whole seems rather unfocused, therefore, most druidic! The next session begins November 30th. To enroll, send a blank email to druidcraft202@yahoogroups.com or enroll online at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/druidcraft202 For more details, visit http://www.mithrilstar.org/d202.htm

ProtoGroves are now forming in Talent OR, New York City, Connecticut and Georgia. The Mother Grove will relocate from Grants Pass OR to Arcata, CA in the Spring of 2004.

Progress is being made in Ceridwen's Astrology for Pagans classes: on July 7, the Beginning class has graduated into the Intermediate sessions, and there will be an Advanced session soon for the other Intermediate class. A new Beginning class will start in November 1, 2003; to enroll, send a blank email to: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/astropagan101/

Several students have expressed an interest in becoming "Professional Astrologers" as well. Ceridwen has been putting together a Certification program towards this end, as well as working on a "Pagan Studies" program which will include other classes besides Astrology, such as Numerology, Tarot, Shamanic Pathworking, and many others.

If you are interested in a private consultation about your Astrological chart, please visit her home page at: http://www.mithrilstar.org/huntersmoon/

OMS wishes all of you in the RDNA a most bountiful first harvest for Lughnasadh, and abundant blessings throughout the season!

May you never thirst,

Ellis "Sybok" Arseneau, AD
Ceridwen Seren-Ddaear, Clerk
Cylch Cerddwyr Rhwng Y Bydoedd Grove, OMS-RDNA


 Poison Oak Grove, News from California
Publisher of "A Druid Missal-Any"

The seven acres of native oak, bay, and shrub wilderness that belonged to long time member Emmon Bodfish, upon which our grove site is, has officially been preserved as open space. Emmon left the land in his will to the people of Orinda. After four years an agreement between the city, the Orinda Park and Recreation Foundation, neighbors, and the Muir Heritage Land Trust ensures that the open space remains an official wildlife sanctuary with public access. Rental income from his house and small cabin which sit upon the land will be used as an endowment for the park and to pay for its ongoing maintenance. Eventually, a portion of the revenue might fund parks and recreation activities citywide.

A dedication service was held on Tuesday, July 22, at the home of the president of the Orinda Highlands Association.

The community, who has known that the grove site existed since the early 80s when it was established, has graciously allowed us to meet upon the site and hold services. The only request they have made is no more fire in the altar for fire safety reasons. Your editor has worked hard to forge a relationship with the community leaders so that we might continue to use the site, and tend it as Emmon had. We continue to be grateful to the community and to Emmon's lawyer and executor Mr. Garrett Riegg for allowing us to be involved and to be able to use the land.

There is a memorial plaque now, set in a boulder covered with moss, alongside one of the hiking trails just off the driveway up to the house. On it is a poem written by Emmon in 1982 about the hill upon where his property resides, which he affectionately referred to as "Messeur Mountain."


 

The Mountain

From the thick grass
On the Mountain
I see this will be a
Rich year.
The last two
Were poor years.
And no amount of worry
Or effort of the will
Will make any difference.

I choose to pick and eat
This wild lettuce
And not that one.
How random
it is: (Death)
Without any connection
To the moral character
Of either herb.

NO BLAME, then
when Nature gathers me.

It is always cold
On the Mountain,
Not just this year.
Jagged scarps, forever fogged in.
Ferns in the dark gorges
Steep ravines
Unimaginably rugged...

I am afraid,
If I settle long
On Messeur Mountain,
I would not go back. [will]



 Sigily, a Druidic Board Game

By Pat Haneke and Mike Scharding
(Refer to Board Graphic at End of Article)

Sigily Background:
Sigily was invented by Pat Haneke and Mike Scharding in 2003. It is considered part of the Public Domain for free use. If you market it, please give half the profits to the Nature Conservancy charity. The original idea is based on 2000 year-old, but wildly popular,  Korean New Year divination & gambling game called "Yut Nori". Pat suggested to Mike that it could be adapted for Druidic use and gave the basic additional rules and Celtic touches. The Druid Sigil was invented in 1963 by the Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA), and is used by ADF and Keltria also. It can be played any time of the year, but it is especially appropriate on Lughnasadh, famous for its summer horse racing and arts & crafts. There are many rules, but after playing the simple version first, the advanced rules will introduce more elements of strategy.

Game Summary:
King Connor wishes to divine the future of his new reign at Tara, the capitol of Ancient Ireland. To gauge the fates, he has called the best chariot teams from the four provinces of the kingdom to hold a year long race around the circumference of the island of Erinn, stopping at the holy groves of the kingdom; which are marked with Druid Sigils. The race will be both a strange trip of time and distance, and death will be but a temporary lull for the duration of the game, as players will be reborn from the cauldron of heroism. The goal is to get all your chariot teams from your province (and your partner's chariots if 4 people are playing) in a complete circuit of the board. You toss Ogham sticks to determine how many moves you can advance a chariot. It is a grand adventure of both chance and strategy. Various treasure coins will be collected by landing on spaces, answering question cards, taking short cuts through the fairy land, and destroying your partner's chariots by combat. If you get rich enough, the Druids on your team can cast spells to improve your chances of winning.

 Preparation:
Print out board and glue securely to wood, stiff plastic or metal background. Make four sets of four marked dimes (tape a letter of the province on them, "L", "U", "M" or "C") for the 4 chariots of each province's team. Players may number or "name" their chariots after friends or family. Collect 52 pennies for the treasure coins and place the number of pennies on each sigil (heads up, of course) as in indicated on the board (1 for plain sigils, 2 on the 8 holiday sigils, 2 each on the 8 fairy sigils, and 4 on the center sigil.) Get four short (3" to 5") pieces of half-circle rounded molding strips from a frame store or hardware store (or just use 4 Popsicle sticks), for the Ogham sticks using in counting moves. They should roughly land flat side up half the time, to be acceptable. Mark the flat sides of the sticks with the ogham letters for dog (cu), deer (fiadh), cow (tarbh) and horse (each), perhaps drawing a figure. The rounded side of the stick may be painted black. (If satisfactory sticks are unavailable, use four quarters, with face being equivalent to flat side up.) If gambling; 2 players put 26 dollars or quarters (depending on your instincts) in the pot on the side of the table to be divided at the end of the game; based on counters collected, 3 players put in 17 dollars or quarters in the pot, if 4 players, put 14 dollars or quarters in the pot. Agree on any advanced rules before the game starts!

Where to start: The starting point of the game changes depending on the calendrical date on which it is played. The starting point is the nearest future (or current) holiday of the Druid year. Nov. 1 is Samhain, Dec 21 is Winter Solstice, Feb 1 is Oimelc, March 21 is Spring Equinox, May 1 is Beltane, June 21 is Summer Solstice, Aug 1 is Lughnasadh and Sept 21 is Fall Equinox. All chariots entering the board begin one sigil clockwise from that starting point and continues clockwise around the board.

Number of Players: Can be played from 2-4 player, with possible allied teams in a 4 player game. If 2 players, use 4 chariots each; if 3 players use 3 chariots; if 4 players, use 3 or 4 chariots. With 4 players, using teams, both partners must finish all their chariots to win the game. Connaught & Leinster are partners as is Ulster and Munster in 4 player games.

Ogham Sticks:
How to Throw the Ogham Sticks: The person who is going to drop the sticks (or 4 quarters) raises them about a foot off the ground, and another player makes a big circle with 2 hands. The dropping player drops the sticks through the hole or may throw them against a wall, ceiling, statue, etc. DO NOT LET THE STICKS HIT THE BOARD! Elaborate dropping methods are permissible, as is pleading to the gods to influence the results.

How to Count the Ogham Sticks: You generally count the number of sticks that are flat-side up. If they land on their end, remaining vertical, then they are considered flat side up.
One Stick Flat Side Up ("Aon") is one moves
Two Sticks Flat Side Up ("Dha") is two moves
Three Sticks Flat Side Up ("Tri") is three moves
All four Sticks Flat Side Up ("Ceither" or "Kay-her") is four moves
All four Stick Round Sides Up ("Coig") is five moves
(If using 4 coins, treat the "head" as Flat Side Up.)

If you get A "Ceither" (4) or "Coig" (5) everyone cries "Is Math Sin!" (pron. "Smashing!"), meaning "that's great!", and it allows a player to another free throw after moving their chariot. A limit of three free consecutive free throws is in effect, after which the turn of play automatically moves to the next player.

In combat, if a tie results, the tie-breaking is determined by the highest animal on the flat side of their stick. From lowest to highest (dog, deer, cow, horse). If both tied players have the same animal highest animal, then they throw again. If using coins, throw them again.

 Who Starts:
Advanced rules should be decided before the order of play is determined. Each player throws the sticks, highest goes first. Remaining players throw again to determine second, etc. Ties require players to throw again. Player 1 is Connaught, Player 2 is Ulster, Player 3 is Leinster and Player 4 is Munster. Each player sits on the appropriate side of the board. Playing on the floor is recommended, unless adequate table space permits the sticks to be thrown without hitting the board (and knocking things out of place).

General Play:
After throwing the sticks, a player may introduce one of their chariots onto the board to the number of spaces after the starting point of the game, or they may advance one chariot that is already on the board. You may not pass a turn or refuse to move, a chariot has to be moved or introduced into play. Only one chariot may move per throw of the sticks, a move cannot be divided among 2 chariots. Do not count the original holiday sigil from which the game begins as part of your move. (Example if game is played on November1st, Samhain is the starting point. If a "tri" (3) is rolled, then a player may introduce a chariot and advance to the Winter Solstice). When you finish on a sigil with money on it, stack the coin under your piece, and this booty will travel with your piece. You do not collect coins from sigils that you jump over, i.e. on which you do not finish. Likewise, when you jump over another piece, they are unaffected, unless you finish your move on their sigil space.

To complete the circuit of the board, you must land on (or pass) the holiday sigil that you began from, after circling the board or taking a short cut. That chariot then leaves the game and is placed on the appropriate chariot marker on the bottom of the board. When all chariots of your team (and your partners) have finished, then you win the speed portion of the race. The game continues until there is only one player remaining on the board. The fastest team will have good health and fortune at love, while the richest player will do well in terms of business in the coming year. If playing by advanced rules with magic spells permitted, completed players may still cast spells on their turn using some of their stored treasure.

Outline of a General Turn:
1. Player has the option to declare and play one spell . Most spells can only be played at this time. Spell effects commence at this point.
2. If a player has a chariot in Fairy Land, they throw to see if fairy darts kill the chariot.
3. Player takes preparatory action needed to move a specified existing piece including:
Declaration of intent to enter fairy land from entrance spaces (and tests whether they can enter).
Intention to go backwards according to Home Territory Advanced Rules. 4. Throws sticks for their turn
5. Player decides if they will introduce a chariot or take action with a specified existing chariot.
6. Moves chariots, fights, etc.
7. After all moves are finished, a Druid Curse or a Stone Skin spell can be cast.
8. Says "My turn is over" and hands the sticks to the next person.

 Fighting:
Celts thrill in personal combat, and you should seek to clash with your opponent as often as possibly. If your chariot (with all it's accumulated booty) lands on a chariot from your own team (or your partner's), then the 2 (or more) chariots are fused piggy-back style on top of each-other until they reach the goal together (or die together) acting as one single unit, under the control of the "top" player, producing an even higher stack of combined coins that will be kept by the top player after completing the cycle. After completing a cycle, both fused players will be placed on their own province's chariot marker on the bottom of the board, but all the carried booty is split between the two players. If the "top" player had a "ceither" (4) or "coig" (5) move to reach that sigil, then they can use their free throw to continue after fusing together. Fused players do not get multiple attacks.

However, if your chariot finishes its move on an enemy's chariot, then you must fight! Both players throw the sticks. Whoever gets a higher score lives (attacker gets an extra point in attacking, putting the defender at a disadvantage, except possibly under the advanced rule of home territory advantage) and all the coins of the loser are stacked under the winner, and the loser is removed from the board, but may be re-introduced later in the game, just as they were in the beginning. Ties in fighting are broken by noting who had a "higher" animal on the flat side of the stick, but if both have matching high animals, throw the sticks again. If the winner had "ceither" (4) or "coig" (5) move to reach that sigil, then they can use their free throw to continue.

Note: On the Fairy (green) sigils, different rules apply. The fairies do not like fighting in their territory and punish those who participate. Both sides will lose all coins, which are added to the Center Sigil's treasure pot. Both players must roll to see who wins and loses. The attacker still has a +1 advantage. The loser is removed from the board as usual (to be reintroduced later possibly from the starting point), but the winner must return to the holiday sigil that they used to enter the fairy lands, and that specific chariot may not re-enter the fairy lands by that specific entrance for the remainder of the game, although that individual chariot may enter other fairy gates on other holiday sigils. Other chariots on the same team are not affected by this blockage. Fairy rules for fighting apply on Beltane, Lugnasadh, Samhain & Oimelc, but do not apply on the yellow sigils of solstices or equinoxes.

Holiday Sigils:
Solstices and Equinoxes: If you land on these solar holiday sigils, then you can throw the sticks again. If you are not playing with advanced card rules, then the first yellow sigil after the starting point should be "turned off" to slow down the start of chariots in the game. If playing by advanced rules, you need to answer a question card first and if you can answer it well, then you can throw the sticks again. Fairy rules for fighting do not apply on solstices or equinoxes.

Beltane, Lughnasadh, Samhain & Oimelc: These sigils are considered magical safe-havens and under the protection of the fairy folk, which discourages fighting (see Fairy rules for fighting). If you stop on one of these four holiday sigils, then on your next turn you can say (before your next throw of sticks), that you wish to attempt to cross the veil between this world and the next and proceed further into the fairy lands (the green sigils in the middle of the board) and attempt a short cut. To cross the veil between world requires a special throw before your normal throw. If you get "aon", "dha" you must throw again and move that many sigils into the fairy lands. However, if your special throw had resulted in a "tri", "ceither" or "coig", none of your chariots may enter the fairy lands that round, and must throw your normal move and advance that chariot around the long way (clockwise) around the board; and a failed fairy land entrance attempt removes your right to a free throw (which would normally accompany a "ceither" or "coig").

Fairy Land:
The fairies are the shrunken remnants of the ancient deities of Ireland, and they guard their realm furiously from unwelcome mortal guests, who seek their treasure and wisdom. Certain days of the year are considered to bring the mortal world and fairy world into close contact, on which it is easy to cross-over.  The Beltane, Lughnasadh, Samhain, Oimelc holiday sigils; plus the nine green sigils in the center of the board are all considered be places where the mortal and fairy world overlap, and thus fall under fairy land rules for fighting purposes (see above).

Be warned, the deeper reaches of fairy land (the nine green sigils in the center) are especially dangerous to mortals. At the beginning of each of your turns that starts with one or more of your chariots in the deep fairy land, you must throw the sticks to determine if your chariot is overcome by fairy darts shot from the misty side of those roads. If your sticks result in a "aon" you are fatally wounded, and all the treasure under your chariot goes to the fairy jackpot in the center, and your stricken chariot returns to the holiday sigil that was used to enter the fairy lands, and may not re-enter the fairy-lands through that holiday sigil (you can try again through other holiday sigils). This is similar to losing a battle in fairy lands. If you did roll a "dha", "tri", "ceither", or "coig", then you are entirely unharmed, and you may throw again and advance as normal. Each further turn with a chariot in fairyland requires a new saving throw of the sticks to defend each chariot that you have in there. Naturally, you don't want to dawdle in the fairylands, but to progress through very quickly.

You must move forward in the Fairy Lands, and once you cross over the center sigil, you have to choose which of the three exits you'll head towards. You cannot backtrack.

Wind spells do not affect players in Fairy Land. Druid Curses likewise cannot be laid in Fairy Sigils. Fireballs can hit players on Beltane, Lughnasadh, Samhain and Oimelc but cannot affect players in deeper Fairy Lands. Chariots cannot cast fireballs within Fairyland, or shoot them out of Fairy Land at players in the mortal realm outside.

Fairy Jackpot/ Sigil Coin Refill System A lot of money tends to build up in the center sigil from all the spells cast, confiscated wealth from fights in fairy land, and special backwards moves by home territory advantage. If a player lands on the jackpot they get all the money accumulated up to that point, and can cause the nouveaux riche player to get out of hand. If more money goes into the pot after that acquisition, the player still remaining on that spot will not collect the new money, but rather the new money will go on the side for the next person to land on the spot. The limit for the Fairy Jackpot is 7 coins. After that, all new coins that will "overflow the jackpot," and they should be distributed to empty fairy sigils radiating from the center sigil, one at a time. If all the fairy sigils have a least one coin, then the overflow should fill empty sigils on the main board beginning with the starting point of the game and going clockwise around the board, one sigil at a time. This overflow mechanism will ensure that money will be recycled for use in later rounds of the game.

When you safely exit the fairy lands, from any of the exits, you continue clockwise around the board. If the exit point happens to be the "finish line" (example, if the game starts from Samhain, and you'll probably choose to exit the fairylands on or past Samhain), then you are finished with that chariot, and then move that chariot to the "winner's platform" at the bottom of the board. Once a chariot finishes the course of the board, it may not be reintroduced into play.

End of Game:
At the end of the game, when only one player has not completed moving his chariots around the board and on to the winner's platform, then play will cease and all players count all their treasure. The first player or (team of partners) to finish his team of 4 chariots gets 2/3 of the remaining treasure still unclaimed on the board, and the remaining third of the unclaimed coins is distributed among the losers in order of game play, one at a time. Coins under chariots still on the board still belong to the uncompleted player for the purpose of counting. Each coin gets one dollar or quarter that was bet at the beginning of the game.

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Advanced Optional Rules

After the basics of the game are mastered, players may wish to add more rules to spice up the game even further and at more elements of strategy and excitement. The addition of some or all advanced rules should be agreed upon before the order of players is determined.

Random Gambling:
After mastering the basics of the game, you may wish to gamble on individual throws or fights. General rules of which can be worked out by those betting, using player's personal money. This has no affect on game play, but can be a fun addition, both sides must agree for a bet to go into effect.

Solstice & Equinox Question Cards:
Before the beginning of the game, before teams are selected, 12-16 index cards are divided among the players. Each player secretly (i.e. not even telling a partner) writes a question on the card, that is not impossible, but reasonably challenging, of a druidic nature. Then (without being read) the cards are shuffled and placed by the sided of the board. When someone lands on a solstice or equinox sigil, they draw a card, if they can reasonably answer the question, they will get a free throw of the sticks, and they rip up the old card. If the cards run out, then the players automatically get a free throw of the sticks from that point onwards. If they rolled a "ceither" or "coig" to reach the Solstice/Equinox, and answered the question card correctly, they do not get 2 free throws (but if they answer the question wrongly, they lose ALL free throws, and it becomes the next player's turn).

 Home Territory Advantage Rule:
Each of the players has a territorial quadrant of the board between Beltane, Oimelc, Lughnasadh and Samhain that matches their team's provincial name. In that area, they are very familiar with the terrain and backwoods trails. All of their chariots beginning on a sigil there move an additional space.

If they have a chariot on one of those 5 sigils in their home territory, they may announce (BEFORE they throw the sticks) that they wish to move that chariot backwards on that turn. That backward jumping chariot loses one coin which goes in the Fairy Jackpot in the Center Sigil, and the exact result of the Ogham sticks is then used to go backwards (they don't get an additional bonus space, which is only for forward moves). If they go backwards with a "ceither", and are still in their home territory than may announce to go backwards again (before throwing their free throw), otherwise if they have moved backwards out of their territory, they must resume clock-wise rotation on further moves of that chariot. If a player uses backwards moves to go past the starting point, they DO NOT WIN by then advancing past the starting point; they must make a full circuit or take a short cut, just like other players.

Two changes to fighting rules, is that in their home territory, that player has a +1 in attacking or defending, and the other player has no advantage in attacking or defending. Also if a partner lands on your chariot while in your territory, the piece with the home territory advantage goes ON TOP. Naturally, this rule should be agreed on before the provinces are allotted at the beginning of the game, as it will drastically affect the game.

 Magic Rules:
Each chariot has three riders; a driver, a warrior and a druid. There are eight different possible spells whose inclusion may be individually approved before the game starts. A spell is generally cast before the sticks are thrown on your turn. To cast a spell requires you to sacrifice a few coins or "heads", which will then go into the fairy jackpot in the center sigil. Only one spell can be cast before each turn to throw sticks. Four spells require coins under one specific chariot, four spells can be cast using coins drawn collectively from several chariots of a province (including ones that have already gone to the winner's platform).

* Four Specific Chariot Spells *

1. Druid Curse: By sacrificing 2 coins under a specific chariot, a player can permeate that particular sigil under the chariot with a deadly curse for the remainder of the game. It may be cast before throwing the sticks on their turn, or, after their turn (but certainly before the next player throws their sticks). Only 1 Druid curse, by any player, per territory (Ulster, Leinster, Munster or Connaught ) is permitted to avoid an impassable mine field from developing. Beltane, Lughnasadh, Oimelc and Samhain sigils can not be cursed. The 2 sacrificed coins are placed in the Fairy Jackpot in the Center Sigil. A special marker is placed on that sigil (such as a nickel) to mark the cursed spot. Any future chariots (including the one that cast that spell) that lands again on that cursed sigil, will die. All the wealth of that cursed chariot will go to the Fairy Jackpot in the Center Sigil, and the cursed chariot dies and goes off the board; but may be reintroduced again later.

2. Fireball: Before throwing sticks on your turn, you can sacrifice 2 coins from a single chariot. You can then fling a fireball up to two sigils in front or behind that chariot (even if the defender is on a Beltane, Oimelc, Lughnasadh or Samhain sigil; without fairy land fighting rules; but fireballs cannot affect people in deep Fairyland in the center). The defending chariot must throw sticks to determine if they take damage. If they roll a "aon" or "dha" the defender dies and is removed from the board, if "tri" there is no damage and the fireball dissipates, if "ceither" or "coig" is thrown then the spell is reversed onto the original caster, who must now throw sticks to determine their own fate (and this may continue to ping-pong back and forth). Whoever's chariot is killed by the fireball is removed from the board, but their treasure under the chariot remains on that sigil on the board, slightly roasted.

3. Free Turn: A single chariot may sacrifice 4 coins under it, before throwing sticks, to ensure that it will get a free turn after the sticks are thrown. If they subsequently get a "ceither" or "coig", they do not get 2 free turns.

4. Stone Skin: After your turn, but before the next player throws sticks, you may sacrifice 2 coins under your chariot to endow your chariot with invulnerability until it advances again. No one can land on that sigil of a stationary stoneskinned chariot without automatically losing combat. Once the player moves that chariot again, the spell is broken. Stoneskin also protects against Fireball.

* Four Collective Chariot Spells *

5. Remove Curse: Must be cast before throwing sticks on a player's own turn. Two coins from any or all of a player's chariots may be sacrificed to remove one Druid Curse from anywhere on the board.

6. Clock-wise Winds of Speed: Before throwing the sticks on their turn, a player may sacrifice 3 coins under 1 or more of their chariots (including completed chariots) from one province (e.g. 3 coins from 2 Ulster chariots), which will cause a fierce wind to blow for three complete rounds of play. All the chariots on his team and his partner's team will move one extra square when advancing, but other rolls (fighting and fairy entrance) are unaffected. Multiple spells of this nature, may overlap and are cumulative. Backwards moves under home territory rules for anyone are impossible under the duration of this spell.

7. Counter-Clock-Wise Winds of Sloth: Must cast the spell before throwing the sticks on their turn. Cost: 3 coins. Similar to Winds of Speed, but all the chariots on your opponents' teams will move one space slower for three rounds of play. Backward moves under home territory rules for all players get a +1 on their moves. These spells are also cumulative.

8. Freeze: Before throwing sticks on your turn, you can sacrifice 3 coins from one (or more) of your chariots. This will force another player of your choice to lose a turn, unless that player sacrifices 5 coins to block the spell. A player cannot be frozen more than twice in a row. A frozen player will be passed on their turn of play, and may not cast spells, but may still defend normally against physical attacks on the board.

Stacked Chariots = Super Chariots Rule:
If the players agree with this rule, then stacked chariots in combat get one attack per chariot. E.g. If two chariots (from one or more partners) lands on an opponent's chariot, then the attacker gets two attacks and the defender gets one defending attack. The defender's roll is higher than both attackers, both attackers die. If one of the stacked chariots dies, it is removed but, the remaining chariot may continue the attack It is possible for one attacker and one defender to die in such situation. If two groups of stacked players meet in combat, then each attacking and defending chariots should be paired up for individual combats, until only one remains.

Territorial Starts:
Players may wish to begin on different starting points, especially if playing with the home territorial advantage advanced rules. If so, Ulster starts on Lughnasadh, Leinster on Samhain, Munster on Oimelc, Connaught on Beltane.

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These are just the tentative rules, that need to be worked out by some play groups. I would appreciate any suggestions for an official set of rules to be published in the Samhain 2003 edition. Send those comments to mikerdna@hotmail.com

 Click on image for large, clear, easy-to-read, full 8"x11" window with the game board ready for a color print-out! Takes about 2 minutes to download


 The Missionary Im-Position

By Mike Scharding, DC Grove

Naturally, I speak here only for my own opinion. As you may have been following in the RDNAtalk conference, my thoughts have been turning to those young MIB who knock on my door to share the Good News with me. I'd like to share some thoughts based on my own limited experience in door-to-door sales of the mundane variety, although I have little academic marketing experience. However, perhaps some of the parallels may be interesting.

I should start off by admitting that I actually admire the dedication and sense of inquiry that most door-to-door missionaries possess. I am also a somewhat reluctant spiritual missionary myself, as is shown by the fact that most of you are reading this essay because of my outreach internet efforts, providing access to RDNA historical material. My strategy is however naturally passive. I make suggestions but do not insist on them to the exclusion of others. I am just there. People come, sometimes stay, and often leave soon. Like a tree, I passively watch their passage and shade them while they are near by. I occasionally invite a friend to attend. Many pass under my limbs without even knowing a Druid is present. This I feel is a rather common RDNA method of grove dynamics, it may not be the most organizationally effective way, but it is the most satisfactory method I have found. It is one way, yea, one way among many.

Now, if I was a Treant, like in the Tolkien movie, I could pull out my roots and walk about lobbing boulders about and being a noisy nuisance. And in certain circumstances, I might contemplate such action. Others make this a matter of course, and we see them at our doors every month or two, because we have a large Mormon barn in our neighborhood, so we tend to get the lazy ones who are not willing to travel far. It pains my cynical post-modernist heart to credit them, but most of those to whom I talk to are actually rather nice, wholesome people with more community spirit that my hermitic nature can muster up. But there is something rather unsettling about the whole door-to-door thing, and I'm not sure that they are aware of it. Occasionally, you'll get the hard sell from some door to door friends, that reminds me of a past part-time job that I once had, I think you'll see the parallels and be forewarned.

Nature Abhors a Vacuum Salesperson

 In 1995, I answered one of those "Big money for part-time fun work" posters, and got sucked up into a scam-filled operation selling well-known expensive vacuum cleaners in Minnesota. I learned a lot about the way you set up a campaign with many applications to missionary activities. First you divide up a town among the employees, distribute invitations for a free "no-obligation" comparison test via newspapers or coupons, with free complimentary present and literature. When someone bites at the bait, you send out the young commission-paid worker to the address at the appointed time, with promises of how well they will be awarded on the often slim chance of a successful sales (10% conversion rate is considered high, with a 10% cut of the overpriced good). Othertimes you just knock on doors up and down the neighborhood taking advantage of your sad tired visage to entice compassionate people to invite you in.

What happens next is you give your spiel, and start doing good deeds (such as vacuuming like a madman around the house) and showing off the features of a professional cleaner. Now most people, (and few will admit it), don't mind a little grime in the corners, dust on the lampshade, or dirt under the sofa-cushions. People get by with a simple system of their own, but feel a bit guilty about it, and this is your entry point. You, as a seller, by your zealous example associate your vacuum cleaner with a virtuous clean lifestyle. Mites and dust are a natural part of life, and for most of us they actually build-up our immunological defenses against real parasites; but if given a choice in life, people would like to live in aseptically clean environment, free of grossness. The odds are, even if they buy your brand of cleaner, that they wouldn't put that much more effort into cleaning, but they COULD if they wanted to.

This is called "overbuying" and the car and computer salesmen ply this trick just as often as door-to-door salesmen. The customer is also acquiring "membership" or association with great clean people, who like mountains, are more often admired from afar or bypassed, rather than climbed and imitated. Certainly, some will actually read your cleaning suggestions book and may actually follow the instruction manual you provide; but similar results could probably be had by diligently using any other cheaper vacuum cleaner.

Cleanliness is like unto Godliness

Mark Twain once said, "A cynic knows the price of everything but not its worth." Every salesman must truly believe in the product that they are selling. You must study the other brands of vacuum cleaners only so far as to know their weaknesses, to be able to denigrate them, and then select tests that you know are going to show those faults. Few people are prepared to defend their own cleaners to a well-prepared offense that they are not expecting. The salesman makes it a matter of faith that your own product's deficiencies are more than matched by its strengths; and the cleaner must naturally be taken as a whole item. I spent 30 minutes being instructed in the cleverness of its foaming carpet cleaner head. All types of methods of agitating the cleaning liquid were attempted before the inventor realized that a simple cheap cloth mesh over the end would foam-up the liquid. When explaining this to the people, they begin to associate a few clever features of the cleaner to the rest of the whole contraption, which may indeed be pretty standard fare.

Now the vacuum cleaner sales pitch would start by discussing how much it cost to attain this marvelous product, for which a newly invented need was now apparent. For those of you interested, this $900 vacuum cleaner really only cost $250 to produce, and were sold to the local head agent for $300. The salesman would naturally calm down the customer and "call his boss" to cut a deal, say to $750, which was still too much. Eventually you barter down to a reasonable $500 in regular payments. They get a slightly sup-ed up cleaner, and probably put on a list of "easy marks" for other high-pressure sales agents. You and your boss split the profits. My idealism got the better of me, as did low sales performance, and I left soon afterwards.

What to do with Door Knockers

 I know that most missionaries perform their actions as a matter of testing the strength of their faith, a sign of compassion to the beknighted followers of the wrong faith, and to follow the instructions of their superiors, and these I tolerate and a few I admire. A few are witless and na´ve people with but a few scraps of scripture to cover their nakedness, and I try not to scare them in their delicate condition. For some, their sense of self-worth is painfully dependent on getting others to follow their own pathway, and I feel sorry for these. Indeed I generally feel that those who come to my door may well indeed be the gods in disguise and I feel obligated to assist them in some fashion, even salesmen and missionaries. However, others are belligerently bigoted and seek to stamp out anything that disagrees with their vision, and these I abhor.

I suspect that many of these groups are outward oriented, sometimes in a pyramid scheme, with all the spiritual profits rising organizationally to the founder. It is true that perhaps some form of spiritual community is better than none, but I like to think that the ones that I choose are better, than the ones that choose me; assuming there is free will, of course. Most people, I believe, tend to belong to a faith that operates nearby out of convenience more than avid support of their "small print" of social policies and theological beliefs outlined by their inner circle of organizers. I have always wondered why they don't apply this strong energy into improving the members that are already part of their community? Some groups even seem to exist only to recruit more members. The Mormons are so desperate for growth, as to actually convert the already deceased ancestors of current members, and as a result, they have one of the most massive genealogical collections in the world, as my parents found out in their own family research. Quite likely, several of your own ancestors have been converted in this manner already! Thus much good occasionally does appear to result indirectly from these activities.

There appears to be a few common responses in the Neo-Pagan and Druid community towards these wandering door knockers. Some choose the "duck and cover" maneuver and refuse to answer the door, which is avoiding the whole issue. There a few (like me) who politely listen and refuse to respond either way, giving neither support nor denial to their cause, basically taking up their time to save some other unknown resident the experience. The most popular and funny, but probably rarely performed, are the "shock and awe" responses of overwhelming these people from narrow backgrounds with lavish displays of "see how weird and unsettling my lifestyle is! oooga booga!"

 However, if you think you can surprise them with your Druidness, your mirthful days may be numbered. I recently came across a book which I read a 92 page point-by-point book of a series by Zondervan Guides to Cults and Religious Movement that teach how to witness to Pagans. It is called Goddess Worship, Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism. (ISBN 0-310-48881-8 $6.00) If you want to go head to head against the toughest bible-thumper, I recommend you read it to see what arguments are coming. It was an interesting applying logical methods to sell rather non-sensical fantastical spiritual myths. It is another of those circular argumentative systems that once you accept one point, you are locked into a series of semi-logical faith-based points of belief. Maddening as I found it, it provides intriguing insights into the whole process.

A nice counterpoint is to realize that world views are a dollar a dozen, and I'd recommend reviewing the following two books: The Truth About Neo-Paganism written by one-time RDNA member Anodea Judith (of Chakra fame). ISBN 1-56718-567-3 which is $3 at 60 pages. Another book is Pagans and the Law: Understand Your Rights which is a good handbook to simple legal questions that many Pagans should know, if you get flak for your religious beliefs. I'll hopefully be reviewing this book in a future issue.

In conclusion, I believe that the best preparation for dealing with the missionary is to follow the Druidic path of asking yourself the hardest questions ahead of time, to know what you really believe; and find out what areas of your spiritual life can be met with community involvement, psychiatry, lifestyle modifications and simple greater awareness. After you've done that you should be able to explain the satisfactory nature of your beliefs and perhaps give them a little useful insight to take back with them.


 

The Soul of Juliana Spring

By Irony Sade
Copyright November 2000

Here we bring you the third installment of a young lady who sells her soul to a Druid to become the best harper in the world, against the wishes of her father:

Chapter Eight

With no further prelude, Samhain was upon us. The displaced pair stayed on to wait out the weekend traffic and tie up some last loose ends. The celebration was at my house that year, in the woods out back. I invited my guests to join if they wished. Juliana begged off, pleading illness, leaving me once more in the kitchen. Baked pies, breads, and squashes; mulled wine, cider, and mead helped to distract me from her troubles. Sam came down after a bit to help me cook.

"What is Samhain, exactly?" He asked as we sat amid the smells and bubbling pots, a pile of apples and peelings between us.

I swallowed a crisp of red skin and reached for a Macintosh.

"Samhain is the Druidic New Year. The harvest is in, the god is dead, the goddess is going into mourning until she gives birth to him anew on the Winter Solstice, December 21st."

I flicked some seeds onto the table and shot Sam a hidden look. He was still listening.

"It is a time when we remember all the people and things we have lost that year. Friends who died, lives that changed, parts of ourselves that we choose to lay to rest. It is a time when spirits of the dead come half way back to earth. Some people believe that messages can be passed between them and the living, tonight." I paused. He waited.

"It is also the beginning of the New Year, and we remember that there is birth in all death, life in all change. It is a time to recall that things move on, however bleak or dismal the threat of winter seems." Sam was staring at me, the knife idle in his hands.

"What are you going to do?" He asked. 

"Sit around a fire and talk, mostly. Sing, remember, tell stories." I waved a peeled apple. "Eat good food."

The right corner of his mouth twitched upwards.

"No devil worship?"

"'Fraid not. Sorry."

His grin became a full smile. I smiled as well.

"You are a good listener, Sam. Thank you."

We piled in the last slices of fruit, added the final dusting of spices and lemon, then pinched down the sage sprinkled crust. The first batch of pies was ready to be pulled from the oven.

"Those do look good. I think I may join you."

"We would be honored."

Chapter Nine

That night I watched the flames, listening to the stories of loss, grief, and healing. Some of those who came remembered Sam from Beltain, half a year before, and they welcomed him quietly. Samhain is a much more subdued holiday, deeper than the festival of spring, and less wild. You could say that the one celebrates Life, the other Death, but that is only half true. Sex and Sacrifice are closer; Spring and Autumn. In the one the world is leaping back to life, winter is vanquished at last, and all of nature pours forth its joy in reproduction and song. In the other we see the dark half of the year beginning. Winter is real, the leaves are down, and the god has given himself in sacrifice that the world might continue on without him. They are Beltain and Samhain. They may be irreducible. I sat between the old year and the new, and wondered what would become of us all.

 A few people did actually burn letters to the dead. One man declared his life in the closet was over. A woman said good-bye to her father, killed in a car wreck eight years before. Food was passed, eaten, enjoyed. Sam said nothing, but his eyes burned, and I saw that he understood.

The stories continued. My mind was worn out by other peoples' troubles. I stared vacantly into the fire, content to merely listen. One lady sang of the Fairie Courts riding and the rescue of Tam Llyn from Elfland's Queen. The song seemed to take shape in the coals as I dozed, the great host passing, Tam with the star upon his brow, Margaret waiting, waiting, in her circle of holy water, the soul searing beauty of the Queen and her riders. I saw faces amidst that flickering host. One was a tall woman with eyes like the sunset and a face like Juliana might wear in another twenty years. She smiled, reaching out a long hand to brush my cheek; and then there was only the cold night wind, and smoke stinging tears from my old, tired eyes.

Chapter Ten

 The morning they left I gave Juliana a new harp. The black cherry pillar gleamed like plaited hair in the low sunlight of my library. The knotted maple soundboard whorled, swirls and ripples of grain on grain, eddies of foam on a long white shore.

"She is strung with wires," I cautioned, as I watched Juliana's fingers quiver. "They ring differently than gut or nylon strings. You will have to learn to finger all over again."

"But where did it come from?" Juliana breathed.

"She is my harp, Lorelia- and older than you are too, I might add, so show some respect!" I smiled. The harp whispered, my voice resonating in her sound box. It sounded like a chuckle.

"You are a better player than I, Miss Spring. I think she would rather live with you."

Her sandy haired lover was grinning. Juliana threw her arms around me and squealed.

Chapter Eleven

The next day my phone rang, early. I answered. For a long moment there was nothing. Then came an indrawn hiss.

"Thrice damned Druid. I know who you are. Let me speak to my daughter."

"Good morning to you too, Mr. Raskin. That was a nasty way to start a conversation."

"You are a Devil worshiping hell spawn. Why should I be polite to you? Your soul will rot in Lucifer's bowels till the day when God dissolves you both."

"The Devil is a Christian figment, Mr. Raskin. You would know more about him than I."

"You are corrupting my daughter, leading her astray from the church and her family, encouraging her in that damned music and distracting her from God's will. Let me speak to her."

"Who is to say God did not give her that passion, those dreams, the gift she has for music?" 

"Don't play games with me. Where is my daughter?"

"She is already gone. You have driven her away from both of us."

"Where is she?"

"I am sorry to say that is none of your business. If she chose not to tell you herself, then I am not about to."

"Tell me where she is! I'll kill you, Druid!"

"Vengeance is mine," saith the Lord." You are not He, Russell Raskin. I am perfectly willing to be judged by God. Try anything yourself and I will see you in court."

There came a long drawn hiss of air forced between teeth.

"You thrice damned Druid. I'll see you in Hell."

"Only if you are there. Good night, Russell."

I broke the connection before he could curse me again. Leaves swirled past my windows in their endless autumnal Totentanz. I stood and watched them, breathing very slowly.

To Be Continued...


 Calendar

Lughnasadh will be at as 3:25 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, Thursday, August 7th, 2003. Poison Oak Grove will hold its Lughnasadh celebration on August 3, at 4 p.m.


  A Druid Missal-Any


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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