A Newsletter of the Reformed Druids of North America

 

Oimelc, 38 Y.R.

February 1st, 20001 c.e.

 

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 “legendE of St. Brigid’s monastery at Kildare (from cill dair meaning chapel of the oak—possibly 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 precedence.

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.

Sister Mary 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 Sigil

Michael Scharding, former Arch Druid of the Carleton Grove, current Arch Druid of Monument Grove

What is a sigil?

The 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 America.

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 collection.

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 Story

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 America."

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.

So 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 mean?

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.

Since then, 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 SIGIL?

From Michael Scharding, 11/11/97

Dear Amanda Bradley, Sister-in-the-Mother,

I 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 Nature’s magic can be abused just as we have abused Nature’s 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 mind.

Yours in the Mother,
Michael
Druid Missionary in Japan
 



My Vision of the Sigil
Robert Harrison, ODAL, Carleton Grove (associated)

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 body.

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 things altogether.

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.


 



News of the Groves
 
Carleton
The Carleton Grove is currently sleeping Nov 26 to Jan 15 due to school break.

Akita Grove, Japan
They are currently working on a pagan journal. Things are difficult right now, socially.

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 mailing lists.

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 dracos49@yahoo.com. Ross was a member of the Big River Grove of St. Cloud MN 1994-96.

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 website.

You can contact
Rhiannon at jbeltain@pacbell.net or write her at 1959 Vilas Rd. Cohasset, CA. 95973. Their website address is http://www.connect.to/DruidHeart.

Baccharis 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 doesn’t 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. Bride’s 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 we’ve 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.

Last 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
 



Goat’s Milk Ice Cream

Back by popular demand!  This was a hit at last year’s Oimelc social.  Now you too can make Goat’s Milk Ice Cream as a fun and tasty way to celebrate the festival of the lactation of the ewe!

half cup sugar                           

2 cups very hot goat’s or sheepE smilk
1/8 teaspoon salt                       1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten      1 pint heavy cream

Mix the sugar, salt, and egg yolks together in a heavy-bottomed pan. Slowly stir in the hot goat’s or sheep’s 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 freezer.

 



 

PantheaCon 2001
 


Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco CA
February 16-19, 2001

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, Mara Freeman

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 products.

Admission fee: $70 (includes all events for the entire conference) $30 for a full day, $15 for evenings only.

For more 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 Noon.

Please call for carpool arrangements (510) 654-6896. For the social observance of Oimelc we will be going immediately after the service to AD’s 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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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