Newsletter of the Reformed Druids of North America
February 1st, 20001
Oimelc Oimelc, the end of Winter. It is the turning point in the Season
of Sleep. Now is when the ewes come into milk and the first lambs are
born. It is the beginning of new life. This can be seen even at the Orinda
Grove site with the budding of new plant life.
Oimelc is the
festival of Bride, Brigid, Breedes, daughter of the Dagda, Sun-Maiden,
Daughter of the Dawn, Celtic Goddess of fire and the hearth, and of
birth. She is patroness of poets and bards, smiths and craftspeople.
Bride has perhaps had the longest enduring cult of any Celtic
goddess. This is evidenced by Her aspects being co-opted by the
early Christianizers into the figure of St. Brigid of Kildare. Even as a
saint Her identity continued to be associated with fire. No doubt the
legendE of St. Brigids monastery at Kildare (from cill dair meaning
chapel of the oakpossibly a telling connection) of a group of pagan holy
women originally tending the perpetual sacred fire of a pre-Christian
sanctuary on the site suggests that it is based on historic
Her eternal flame continued to burn in Christian times
at Her sanctuary at Kildare and was never allowed to go out--a tradition
which sprung from its pagan Celtic roots. This sacred fire was tended for
nineteen nights by nineteen nuns who each took a turn to feed the flame.
On the twentieth night, St. Brigid Herself was said to take over. That
night the nineteenth nun put the logs beside the fire and said: Brigid,
guard your fire. This is your night.EIn the morning, the wood was found
burned and the fire miraculously stayed lit. The fire was not extinguished
from the foundation of the monastery in the fifth century but once in the
thirteenth century until the reign of Henry VIII.
Minehan, a Brigidine Sister (Sisters of St. Brigid)--a restoration of the
Ancient Order founded in 1807 to revive again the spirit of St.
Brigid--relit St. Brigid's flame on Oimelc in 1993 at Solas Bhride, a
Christian Community Centre for Celtic Spirituality in Kildare. And so to
this day Her sacred flame continues to burn.
Unto Bride, Ruler of
Fire, Give us this little comfort now.E#060;br>
The History of the
Michael Scharding, former Arch
Druid of the Carleton Grove, current Arch Druid of Monument
What is a sigil?
circle bisected by two vertical parallel lines is known as the Druid sigil
in modern Druid groups. It is one of the many symbols now widely used by
Reformed Druids of North America, its offshoot called Ar nDraoicht Fein
(ADF) which started in 1983, which also had an offshoot The Henge of
Keltria. Therefore, it is a prominent symbol of Druidism in
Any group can use the sigil, if they wish, we're not
possessive about it, just send us a copy of your artwork for our gallery
False Origin Myth #1
There is a well
publicized myth that it came from a photograph of a Celtic-Romano temple's
foundation which had a square Roman foundation over laying an older Celtic
circular structure. It looks remarkably like the Druid sigil with two of
the rectangular while parallely intersecting the circle. However, this
shot published in Stuart Piggot's seminal work "The Druids" was first
published in 1966, three years after the RDNA was already documented as
heavily using the symbol. So that can't be it. None of the founders
probably had the background knowledge in 1963 of obscure archeological
digs, so they couldn't have come across it anywhere else in the first two
weeks of the founding of the RDNA.
Closer to the Truth
David Fisher, the founder of the RDNA, was eating lunch
at Goodhue Dorm Cafeteria on Carleton College Campus in Northfield,
Minnesota, USA in early April 1963 (perhaps April 1st?) and talking to
Norman Nelson and a few of his other friends. There were complaining about
a mandatory requirement to attend weekly religious services by the
college. They decided to start THEIR OWN religion to see if that was
satisfactory, and they decided on the name "Reformed Druids of North
So they traipsed up to the hill of three oaks soon
thereafter (April 17th, 1963) and had the first ceremony. David Fisher
claimed to have been initiated into a Fraternal Druid order in Missouri,
but they didn't believe him, because he had also tried to set up three
other semi-secret farcical organizations on the campus with a similar
story. But the others recognized the power of continuing an older
tradition. The sigil was apparently used during that ceremony.
from whence did it come? Probably from David Fisher's fevered imagination
(divine inspiration?, definitely inspired by spirits of whiskey).
I've conducted over 21 hours of research through various books of
symbols and magical runes, but I have found no trace of the circle with
two vertical lines. The closest thing is a Greek letter of a circle with
one vertical line (and David was possibly interested in starting a Greek
fraternity style group, which were banned at Carleton). The alchemical
symbol for oil is similar to that Greek letter.
What does it
Good question. There is no definitive answer on this
subject. It both means what you think it means, and it means something you
don't think it means.
Various designs have popped up, but there
were no ornate designs until 1969. It had always been simple three strokes
of a pen until that date. Recently, people have tended to draw it as a
wreath pierced and supported by two wooden poles.
various designs, visualizations, and descriptive readings have been
attempted of the Sigil. I'm in the process of collecting and listing
them WHAT DO YOU SEE IN A
From Michael Scharding,
Dear Amanda Bradley, Sister-in-the-Mother,
wish you a happy Celtic Year and beginning of the Time of Sleep in
Reformed Druidism (Samhain to Beltane). As a present I offer you this
Druid Sigil which I usually give to new 3rd Orders. What does it mean? It
is merely a lump of silver to some, worth $20.
To others it is a
symbol of weirdness, of people who refuse to accept societies
predetermined paths of spirituality.
To others it is a symbol by
which to recognize other Druids, but verily I believe that there are
many people in many faiths or codes who follow the Druidic path but use a
different name for it. Seek these people, too. To others, it is a symbol
of their desire to control the "magic" of Nature. I have done this too,
but beware of egotism, because the control of Natures magic can be abused
just as we have abused Natures other resources.
To others, it is
an indefinite thing. This simple symbol has seemingly never been adopted
or named before by any known group before 1963. It can be used as a tool
without existing prejudice for teaching.
To you, it will mean
whatever you wish. If you wear it, people will associate your deeds and
words with this symbol.
I give it to you with this in
Yours in the Mother, Michael Druid Missionary in
Japan My Vision of the Sigil Robert Harrison, ODAL, Carleton Grove
I've thought a bit about the sigil. The following
is born out of my experiences with a Rosen Method practitioner, my
experiences with the Mists of the Stone Forest Grove in Minneapolis, as
well as the events of the night of my vigil. In Neopagan Druidism, such as
we are, there is a tendency to three-ness. There are a number of three
aspected Godheads in Celtic mythology, for example. There is also the
aspect of three in time, which has Gaelic names for past present and
future that I cannot remember. Also, the three realities that the Cosmic
Tree unites: Upper World, This world, Lower World. Another "three" that we
at Mists worked with is that of Gods and Goddesses, Nature Spirits, and
Ancestors. In our rituals we invoke these three. The sigil of OBOD is the
three rayed sign, commonly translated as the rays of spirit, mind, and
My view of the RDNA sigil is that the two vertical rays
represent spirit and soul. Soul could alternately be called mind. I see
the difference between spirit and soul as being the two parts of life that
reach for the heavens(spirit), and that which embraces the Earth(soul). I
won't say that this is a sharp definition. They could just as easily be
two aspects of the same immaterial aspect of a human as two different
However, they have a body
around them, and I believe that is very effectively symbolizes the unity
of Life, especially within a Pagan worldview. The two rays extending in
both directions beyond the "body" can than have significant meanings of
the need to have the balance of an inner life coupled with the outer life
of experience. I am a believer in the mind/body connection, and this sigil
could well symbolize that too. That has been my experience of late with
this Rosen Practitioner. It's a subtle form of touch that reads the soul
as kept in the body. I was doing some experiments of my own in my last
session, and the results were outstanding.
This practitioner I see
is good. If I changed my mind in mid-stream, he felt it. I was changing my
energies, by centering very deeply. When I hit core, I get body rushes,
and when I did, he immediately noted it. I was being silent the whole
time, and experimenting with the method because I see this as being a
powerful tool for healing souls, which is a desire of mine. So the sigil
to me is very profound. I wear it constantly, and it serves to remind me
of my Third Order calling.
Carleton The Carleton Grove is currently
sleeping Nov 26 to Jan 15 due to school break.
Grove, Japan They are currently working on a pagan
journal. Things are difficult right now,
Monument Grove Mike
Scharding has been busy working on the Druid Archives files on the
internet with the assistance of Jason Hollywood. He wants to locate
other Druid Groups, increase the diversity of the collection, and update
New Twin Cities Grove? Ross the Solid wants to start a Grove here in the Twin Cities area
and is looking for members. He can be reached at mailto::email@example.com. Ross was
a member of the Big River Grove of St. Cloud MN
New Chico Grove Rhiannon
has recently started Draoi Croi Croga Garran (Druid Heart Spirited Grove).
She has in the past gathered quite a number of participants to learn the
Old Ways and participate in seasonal rites, meditations, and healing
rituals, and would like to continue the same in Chico. The Grove currently
has plans to build a Celtic sweat lodge, a round lodge for ceremony, and
is working on a standing stone arrangement. They also have a metal worker
who makes ritual items such as sickles, swords, etc. and Rhiannon
makes bronze Awen necklaces. These items are for view on their
Grove It truly is the Season of Sleep at the Grove
site. The Beltaine Rose lies dormant as well as the Elder. Our Birch
tree doesnt appear to be getting new buds and is possibly dead. If that
is the case when the weather warms up we will be looking to purchase
another. Birches grow better in threes so we will be looking for a source
that can supply us with several. Last Fall our poor Pine that had fallen
over and snaked around the Grove in a semi-circle was finally cut down. We
will be replacing it with a Pine native to the area, such as the Gray or
Foothill Pine, rather than a Monterey which is more coastal and is known
for falling over when it gets this large.
Yet even in this time of
time of sleep there are signs of life. The Pacific Snakeroot is sprouting
up all along the path up to the Grove site and in the Grove itself. Tiny
ferns are just beginning to unravel their fronds in the moist earth of the
steps. Brides tree, our spontaneous apple tree, has fuzzy pale green bud
just beginning to make themselves known. And of course the mushrooms
abound after the recent rains, poking their multi-shaped caps through the
fallen leaves of Winter. The most interesting one weve seen so far is the
Fluted Black Elfin Saddle (Helvella Iacunosa). The cap is grayish-black
and wrinkled looking and the stalk is white to dark gray with prominent
grooves and ridges. The look like tiny old men of the forest.
weekend our preceptor went wine tasting for her birthday at Rosenblum
Cellars in Alameda. One of the wines she tried was the 1999
Zinfandel from their Oakley Vineyards in Contra Costa county (where the
Grove site is located). Much to her pleasant surprise the wine tasted like
the smell of the Live Oaks that populate the Grove area. So if you want to
know what our Grove site area smells like and join us vicariously, but a
bottle of this Goats Milk Ice Cream
Back by popular demand! This
was a hit at last years Oimelc social. Now you too can make Goats
Milk Ice Cream as a fun and tasty way to celebrate the festival of the
lactation of the ewe!
2 cups very hot goats or sheepE
smilk 1/8 teaspoon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 4 egg yolks, slightly
beaten 1 pint heavy cream
sugar, salt, and egg yolks together in a heavy-bottomed pan. Slowly stir
in the hot goats or sheeps milk. Cook, continuing to stir, until
slightly thickened; remove and cool. Add the cream and the vanilla
extract. Chill. Freeze in a hand-cranked or electric ice cream
2001 Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco CA February 16-19,
Join the largest indoor gathering of tribes and traditions in
the country for a 4-day extravaganza of workshops, rituals, events,
networking and fun.
Presentations, rituals and panels from a wide
variety of guests including: Robert Anton Wilson, Diana Paxson, R.J.
Stewart, Raven Grimassi, Lon Duquette, Timothy Roderick, Rachel Pollock,
Victor Anderson, Mary Greer, Brian Wilson, Dossie Easton, Z. Budapest, Pat
Califia, Gus di Zirega , Kachinas Kutenai , Luisah Teish, M. Christian,
Musical performances, ritual theater and a Masquerade
Ball: Heather Alexander, Avalon Rising, Gaia's Voice, Pombagira,
Reclaiming, Bast ritual, Magical Acts Theatre, and a Rock-n-Roll ritual
with Leigh Ann Hussey.
Workshops, scholarly papers, author readings
and slideshows by special guests and local favorites
Over 65 vendor
booths featuring pagan, magical and earth oriented
Admission fee: $70 (includes all events for the entire
conference) $30 for a full day, $15 for evenings only.
information contact Ancient Ways, 4075 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, CA 94609,
(510) 653-3244, or view their web site at www.ancientways.com. Calendar
Astronomical Oimelc, when the Sun is half way between the Solstice
and the Equinox will occur on Feb 3 at 10:30 a.m. PST when the Sun will
reach 15 degrees of Aquarius (or by the alternative calculation when the
Sun will reach 16 degrees 18 minutes declination on Feb 3 at 1:20 p.m.
PST). Oimelc services will be held on Sunday, Feb. 4 at Solar
Please call for carpool arrangements (510)
654-6896. For the social observance of Oimelc we will be going immediately
after the service to ADs house.
Regular Druid services will be
held at Solar Noon on Feb. 11, 25, and on March 11. Instead of the
regularly scheduled service on Feb. 25, we might be attending the Early
Bloomers wildflower walk at the Marin Headlands. Please call the above
number to confirm.
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