A Newsletter of the Reformed Druids of North America
Samhain Y.R. 41
(October 28th, 2003)
Volume 19, Number 7
|CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE:
Celtic New Years, the Day Between the Worlds, the Druid year starts on Samhain. The sun is half way between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice. Samhain marks the end of the harvest season. All fruit and grain not gathered in by Samhain Eve must be left in the fields to feed the birds and wild animals, the flocks of Cernunnos, and its vegetable life essence, its "spirit" becomes the property of "The Little People," "the Sidhi," and feeds them. (Is our word "fairy," derived from "fear an sidhi," meaning in proto-Gaelic "a person of the Sidhi," one of the little people?) Sidhi is pronounced in Gaelic as English "shee." A Banshee, the spirit that gives prophecies and mourns for the dead, means literally "a woman of the Sidhi."
Another folk tradition, probably from old Druid times, holds that "Pukas," mischievous spirits, will come out on Samhain night and steal the nourishing essence of any food crops left in the fields, or, if it is not to their liking, will despoil it. Their mythic descendents swarm out in the forms of hordes of trick-or-treaters and disguised, costumed revelers.
This is the night when the Other World, the world of the dead, the future souls, and of the ancestors, comes the closest to our world and "dimension hopping" is the easiest. It is a time to honor dead ancestors, and remember old friends. This was the "day of the dead" long before the Christian era. The dead were thought by the ancient Celts to have a winder and truer perspective on things than we mortals do, and to be able to advise their descendents and friends. They know all history, are aware of all forces and causes, and can intuit the future better than we. Pay your respects at graves or memorials, ask questions of departed friends, ancestors, or mentors. Leave food offerings for them at you Samhain Eve celebrations and vigils. Get out old photographs. Review the past, this pre-Samhain week, and pay old debts, spiritual or emotional. Find lost belongings; make amends. Then celebrate.
Emmon Bodfish, A Druid Missal-Any, Samhain 1989
Editor's note: Readers might have noticed quite a few reprinted lead articles
this past year. It has been a year of changes for your editor with the death of
her mother and the unfortunately all too often ensuing family strife.
Republishing was not meant to be a cop-out, but a way to maintain the standard
of the Missal-Any as set by its founder Emmon, as well as to publish his words
and research, which still have worth today and provide inspiration and impetus
for further study.
News of the Groves
For the Full Grove Directory
Carleton Grove: News from Minnesota
Carleton awakens, stumbles and continues. A few weeks into the term we have a
few interested new comers (most of whom are from my dorm, and some of whom I
didn't meet until they came to a druid event). We had a nice little fire on the
Equinox. Currently, after a week cold spell Carleton warmed up a bit and now
there is a plague of Asian Beetles, (for those not familiar, they look a lot
like ladybugs except they bite) locusts, and others. We're waiting for all the
town's first born to be taken next.
Dover Grove: News from Massachussetts
Eric, former member of Digitalis Grove in Washington, DC, has settled into Dover MA and established the Dover Grove of the Quiet Reformed Druids of North America. Using the Silent Liturgy that he and Mike Scharding devised in DC, he will meet regularly with his outdoorsy neighbours, Betty and Bob, at their local apple orchard or at the hills around Farm Pond in the town of Sherborn nearby or the banks of the Charles River by the railroad tracks on this lookout perch. They naturally are using apple jack at the services. As for recruiting, they're not really seeking more members, but just wanted to let us know they're doing fine, but anyone or anything that is there at the time of a service is welcome to partake.
Oh, disappointingly, there are no white cliffs, as far as Eric can tell in
town, like its namesake in England.
Hemlock Splinters Grove: News from New York
Dark the night
Bare the trees
Cold the wind outside.
Sleeps the light
Since the day god died
Rowan-Oak Grove, MOCC: News from Oklahoma
rowan-oak grove will be holding its convocation at our samhain costume party. we will also be holding a day of the dead vigil on nov.1 as part of our samhain rites the classes this month deal with development and control of mental and emotional discipline and how they relate to the druid path.
grove membership was added to when my new neighbor joined our outer court congregation making the official count 36 offline. bro. werebear has joined our staff as secretary/treasurer, enormously easing the amount of paperwork the arch druidess must do.
rowan-oak grove is also forming a band called the new age bards (at least till we decide on a better name) and will possibly in a couple of months have our debut performance at the gypsy cofeehouse, our fave hangout.
thats all for now...
m.s. white raven, arch-druidess
rowan-oak grove, tag for mocc
Poison Oak Grove, News from California
Publisher of "A Druid Missal-Any"
Poison Oak Grove has held its first elections. Its new officers will assume their roles beginning Samhain for one year. The new officers are:
Archdruid: Stacey Weinberger
Preceptor Ignatz Fezman
Server Morag Bhann
Based on the observation from last year that an abundance of acorns at the
grove site meant a wet winter, we are keeping note whether this year's abundant
crop will do the same. We are experimenting with learning to predict the weather
based on nature, like what we assume the ancient Druids did.
Dalon Ap Landu Research Project
Stephen Crimmins, Carleton AD, has decided to compile a book of Dalon Ap Landu myths. (Yes, he knows that only 1 exists, so far) He is looking for anybody interested in Dalon ap Landu to add their own myth. As he see's it at the moment it would be best to vaguely follow the outline provided by Thomas Lee Harris Jr. (if he doesn't mind) provided in the Samhain 2002 edition of A Druid Missal-any. However, feel free to write myths unrelated to that story.
Other suggestions for myths; you may want to imbed jewels of wisdom (or not) within your story, or perhaps involve Dalon ap Landu in the history of your grove or your druidry (or not), perhaps even try to explain some of the mysteries of the RDNA (in truly mythical form) (or not). And don't worry if your myth contradicts with other myths (or not), it'll look more like a real cycle of myths.
If you are interested in contributing, or if you have questions, email Stephen @ crimmins at carleton.edu (for the next 9 months or so before Carleton kicks him out.)
Druidism and Wicca; a Comparison
By Daven (Member, Ord Draiochta na Uisnech)
Version 2.0 (Last updated 7-29-03)
In my contact with Druids from other groups I come across information occasionally that answers questions many of us in the RDNA have, in regards to who and what we are as druids and what do we tell others when they ask. Sister Rhiannon of Druid Heart Spirit Grove has addressed the question of what is he difference between Wicca and Druidism in an earlier Missal-Any (put in the issue.) This is an essay by Daven who gives another in depth view on the differences between Druidism and Wicca.
On first meeting a Druid, many Wiccans feel a bond - a commonality must exist. Normally the Wiccan will start talking about The Goddess, their Circle and so on and be somewhat lost when the Druid starts talking about the Triune Thought, the Triskel and Honor or other relevant terms who's meaning may not be immediately clear.
I feel that the confusion stems from misunderstandings and misconceptions. This article will attempt to explain some of these concepts that may confuse the Wiccan.
The Rede/The Law of Returns
Of all the differences that a Wiccan has with Druidism this is probably the most prevalent. In Druidism, there is no "rede." In fact, the only people that the Rede pertains to are those who ascribe to it, it is unique to Wiccans.
Most Wiccans profess some version of the familiar "an it harm none, do as you will" or another. They are truly shocked, confused and/or even irate when the Druid goes "That's nice" and disagrees that this moral guideline has anything to do with them. Some may even accuse the Druid of lacking morals.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the moral concepts within The Law of Returns and the Rede, when boiled out of their archaic language, permeate Druidism. Normally Druids call this the Celtic Virtues. Generally these virtues are described as Honor, Loyalty, Hospitality, Honesty, Justice and Courage. These six principals permeate the entire body of Druidic thought and ritual.
Briefly stated the virtue of Honor requires one to adhere to their oaths and do the right thing, even if it will ultimately hurt others or oneself in the process. A Druid is obligated to remain true to friends, family and leaders thus exhibiting the virtue of Loyalty. Hospitality demands that a Druid be a good host when guests are under one's roof. Honesty insists that one tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth to yourself, your gods and your people. Justice desires the Druid understands everyone has an inherent worth and that an assault to that worth demands recompense in one form or another. Courage for the Druid does not always wear a public face a-standing-strong-in-the-face-of-adversity, alone or with companions. Sometimes Courage is getting up and going about a daily routine when pain has worn one down without complaint or demur.
Outside of the scope of these six virtues, anything goes. Understand that the virtue of Justice demands that one consider the actions one is going to take before they are taken, since any harm to the inherent worth of another will demand that recompense be paid. It also covers many things like "The Law of Threefold Return." Justice, by necessity, is just. For actions that harm, you must pay a price, and actions that promote good thing will pay good back to you. That's just. It acknowledges the divine in each and every person. It assures a truly committed society they don't have to fear a knife in the back, or a burglary. It makes sure that even enemies can sit down in a room together and be civil to one another.
It must be understood that the concept of Threefold Return came from Eastern Philosophy and is most closely associated with the Hindu and Buddhist concept of 'Karma.' There has never been anything similar to this concept in European thought.
These virtues do not preclude arguments or conflict. On the contrary, the Celts were some of the most combat-obsessed people we know. From myths we know Celts practiced blood feuds, had clan conflicts, wars. The individual Celt was proud, and fierce demands were made that self-independence was a supreme right. What the Celtic Virtues ensured were the continual functioning of an isolated tribal society.
Think about these concepts when applied to the current government. What if all leaders were truly loyal to those who swore loyalty to them? What if all those who swore loyalty to a leader were coerced by society to be faithful to that oath? What if a guest under someone's roof were guaranteed food and shelter? What if Justice was truly Just, not simply expedient or so concerned with the criminal's rights that crimes were un-recompensed?
This is the ethical standard of most modern Druids. Because it is not summed up in a couplet or long poem does not mean it's nonexistent. It is merely expressed in a different fashion.
Calling Quarters and Magic
Wiccan magic is concerned with projecting the willpower of the caster into the universe, normally through natural energy flows. Part of this magick and ritual is calling on the four quarters of the world, North, South, East and West. Generally there are classical Hermetic elements associated with those quarters, Air, Earth, Fire and Water. These elements give power and energy to the ritual and generally boost the "feel" of the ritual. Druidry is votive in nature, meaning that a critical component of the spirituality and magic is the relationship one has with the Gods, for they are never ordered or commanded, but they are petitioned as friends and companions.
Under very specific circumstances Druids occasionally used the same structure of calling upon the Natural World. Even then it's vastly different from "standard" Wiccan practices. In Druidic rituals the Land, Sea and Sky are called upon.
Each of the Three Realms has specific attributes and very definite associations with them. If I were to ask a Wiccan where the Gods lived, many would not be able to tell me, for the Elemental Quarters hold no answer. But ask a Druid who also uses and understands the Three Realms in a cosmological sense, and the immediate answer will be "The Sky."
Each Realm is associated with a time of life, a stage of development and a mental quality, as well as having several other associations, ranging from Magical to the Time of day.
The Sea is the time before time, when we are not born. All life comes from the Sea. It is where we go at death; it is the source of Dreams and Inspiration. It is the realm that is traveled over to get anyplace when coming from or going to Ireland.
The Land is the here-now. It is this moment, life, and creation, all that is around us. It is fertility, conscious thought, the Universe. All science fits into the realm of the Land, for it is all concerned with the physical realm.
The Sky is the dwelling place of the Gods, the super-conscious, logic and thought. It is where logical ideas come from, and it is a place we hope to gain eventually, to become one with the Gods. It is also where Divine Inspiration comes from.
Every single one of the associations for the elements in the classic Hermetic elemental structure exist in Druidic belief and practice within the three Realms. They are not broken out into separate aspects or spheres as they are in Wiccan beliefs and practices. There are no elementals, deva of the elementals, rulers of the elements or realms in Druidic belief or practice. The realms have no spirits, no consciousness of mystical places, and certainly no angels associated with them because the realms simply are all encompassing. For Druids, it would be like trying to reduce the entire universe down to one human consciousness.
Which brings us to Druidic magic. It's different in some very fundamental ways from Wiccan Magick.
In Wiccan magick, a Circle is cast, the Quarters are called, the Gods are (preferably) asked to bless the work, energy is raised and the spell is cast. After a while, the Wiccan will send that energy off with their desire "tacked on" to it. The intention being that the energy will work to bring their desire to pass.
A Druid, by contrast, is not raising energy. The Druid will invoke the Realms, invite the Gods to the ritual, possibly invoke the Hallows and Provinces (depending on the ritual structure the Druid uses) and then ask the Gods to do them a favor. For this, the Druid will offer food, service of body and/or mind to the Gods, a literal sacrifice to them. In one ritual to help me with a job, I dedicated a blood donation to the Red Cross to Lugh (for his Spear) and used that as my sacrifice to him for a favor I needed. In the same ritual, I baked the Dagda some bread and offered it to him and then gave it to the birds. It depends entirely on what you are willing to give and what the Gods want in return.
In this case, the reasoning is that as a druid, we are members of the Land. Things that could happen in the future belong to the Sky, where the Gods live. Therefore, it's easier for the Gods to make certain things come to pass than it is for us, since we are busy dealing with the now. So, asking the Gods to make an action more likely to happen is an efficient use of your energy. Nothing is free. The Gods will demand and have a right to demand a price from those who need something. If we want the object of the ritual, it makes sense for us to pay the price demanded in order to get it.
As my teacher pointed out to me, the Gods are reasonable. They won't demand anything that would decimate us to provide. If they did, it could be a test to see how strongly you are committed to gaining what you want. For example if a Druid was casting a spell to gain a new job, and barely had enough money to feed himself and his family, I doubt the Gods would demand gold from that Druid, mainly because the Druid probably doesn't have the means to gain the Gold. They may demand a feast for themselves, which the Druid and his family would also share.
It should also be mentioned that witchcraft is a collection of granny-tales and native superstition, sometimes based in fact, but quite often based in protecting oneself from the Elves and Fairey. A Druid doesn't try to protect themselves from the realms of the Fairey, but rather strives to come to a partnership with those forces, so that they are working with the Druid, not against them. The High Magick in Wiccan practice is generally also influenced from other sources, most notably the Kabala of Judaism and the Ceremonial and Hermetic Magick of the Middle Ages. Druidic magic, rather than being "Do Steps A, B, C, D and E, in order to get outcome 78," is more of a give and take between working partners, a quid pro quo system of cause and effect.
Sacred Space and the Circle
Along with Magic, a concept that often confuses Wiccans when dealing with the Druid is the lack of a Circle in ritual. They point out that Stonehenge and other places similar to it are in a Circle, mounds are circular in shape, many Griannes are circular, and so too are the Celtic forts or duns. So why don't Druids use Circles?
It's because the creation of the Sacred Space is much different to a Druid. Since we are part of the Land, and the Land is everywhere and includes everything we see, touch, smell and taste, all that we interact with is sacred already. How can we, at the beginning of the ritual, sanctify that which is already sacred? Creating a "Sacred Space" is therefore redundant.
The Circle for a Druid is not for containment, as the Druid him/herself will become the container for the energy channeled into the ritual. It is simply an area that is set aside as "more sacred" than the surrounding area, or as a doorway through which other beings and ancestors can travel if they so choose.
The closest a Druid will come to this Wiccan ritual is to invoke the Ancient Provinces of Ireland. In this, once the Realms are invoked and the Gods invited, a Druid would call upon the Provinces of Ulster, Leinster, Munster and Connacht as well as the Center of Uisnech. The Druid will call upon the qualities associated with those provinces and use them to help in rituals. This is about as close to "calling the quarters" as Druidism gets. Each Order may use different processes in this case, and different representations. Most Druids stick with only invoking the Land, Sea and Sky.
Another reason Druids do not use a Circle is that a Circle excludes as well as includes. When a Circle is cast, the primary purpose is to contain the energy raised by the chanting, dancing, singing and other energy raising activities. Additionally, it protects the people inside the Circle from external antithetical influences, and in some cases it is designed to protect those outside the Circle from what is going on inside. The twin purposes of a Circle, containment and protection, would cut the Druid off from the very forces he wished to invoke for the ritual. Thus, most Druidic traditions discard the Wiccan concept of artificially designated "sacred spaces" altogether.
The Gods and Goddesses
One of the major differences that Wiccans need time to understand is Druidism is not duo-theistic, but polytheistic. Duotheism sees One God and One Goddess, both of which contain all the qualities possible within them selves, including attributes that could be assigned to the other sex. In this view, Kali is the same Goddess as Rhiannon who is the same Goddess as Sif who is the same Goddess as Athena and Artemis and Demeter and so on and so forth.
In Druidism, the Gods and Goddesses are separate individuals. Each has his/her own personality, desires, jobs, spheres of influence and flaws. Lugh tends to be arrogant, The Dagda overconfident, and so on. There is also no Maiden-Mother-Crone equivalent deity in Druidic practice. This also restricts the Druid to the Celtic Pantheon, although there is some choice as to which Celtic pantheon Irish, Welsh or Gaulish.
Shoving all the Gods together in one divine lump would be analogous to saying that I am the same as you, after all, we are both human. You have the same wants, the same needs, the same drives, the same hobbies, the same thoughts and opinions simply because we have the same general shape. To a Druid, this is not only incomprehensible, but also laughable to the point of idiocy since the Gods are not cardboard cutouts of each other. It's asking for a lot of trouble from the Gods for a human to tell Them what They will and will not be.
I feel this is probably the greatest sticking point for most Wiccans during their initial encounter with Druidism. But it can be overcome through the use of mythology.
The Book of Shadows and Mythology
Druids have no Book of Shadows. We may, as individuals, have a journal of our growth as people and as Druids, a place where we put down our thoughts and feelings on different topics. It's our Journal, and it's up to the individual to keep up to date.
When a Druid first joins an order or group, s/he may be given a ritual book, outlining the ritual structure or framework for the rituals the group uses, or a list of rites do to by rote for each of the holidays that are to be celebrated. This book of ritual structure and liturgy is about all they are given. Much of the spiritual path they will have to discover on their own.
Now, this does not mean that they have to eat hemlock to discover that it's poisonous. On the contrary, each Druid is encouraged to read and study the body of work that is available on different topics and not to take anything on faith or because their mentor says so. Studying is a requirement, not just an activity.
The student Druid is expected to read mythology, to read books on subjects such as the Ogham, divination, ritual structure, to study the whys and wherefores of the practice. Along with that they will, in some cases, be required to write articles on what they have found out, even if every other Druid in existence has already discovered and published the same piece of information. The student will still be expected to try to find it on his or her own. There is nothing like the thrill of discovery to ensure an idea remains in the student's mind.
It has been stated in the past that mythology is the key to Druidism, and that can be true. Not only are there clues and hints as to the actual history of Ireland, but also there are statements as to a Deity's personality, likes and dislikes, what will please one or anger another. In addition, hidden in the myths is a wealth of information on the beliefs of modern Druids. What qualities do the Land, Sea and Sky have, where are the places of power, how can one divine from the flights of birds what will happen and other such gems.
Without this reading and study, these gems will be hidden from the student, and in all honesty the student who is unwilling to do the work will probably be dismissed from the ranks of the Druids. But, in addition to this study, Druidism is a way of life. It is something that will be reflected in every action and every thing the Druid does. You may not be able to say that someone is a Druid, but once you know you will never mistake it for anything else.
Unfortunately, there are no "one book and I'm a Druid" books out there. True Druidism is a compilation of many different books, not all of them directly related to Druidism, each of them providing a part of the puzzle. It's the gathering of pieces and putting them together that is the quest and hallmark of the modern Druid.
In this section I wish to make one thing clear, I am Wiccan myself as well as being a Druid. I have very few illusions about Wicca and I'm simply stating what I know to be the only conclusion one can come to based on current facts. I am not trying to put Wicca down nor am I glossing over facts.
Gerald Gardner created Wicca. He didn't create it in its present form, for like every living thing, Wicca outgrew what he thought it was and changed to something not readily recognizable by him. Does this invalidate Wicca? Not at all. Does the fact that a radio was invented invalidate the walkie-talkie?
Wicca has a history that can only be traced back to the 1950's or so. Some scholars place the actual dates of Wicca's invention earlier, some later, but most agree that it was in the mid 1950's. This ultimately means that Wicca is not centuries old, going back to the Paleolithic caveman as some have claimed. No religion that we currently have goes back that far. As society changes, so too does it's religious institutions.
While Gardner pulled from multiple sources to make Wicca, he did pull a few elements from the Celtic practices based on what was believed at the time. But Wicca is not Celtic. Ian MacAnTsaoir and Dawn O'Laoghaire covered this particular point in detail in their essay "Why Wicca is not Celtic". 
Druidism has a documented history going back to the late 1600's and the Gentleman's Clubs and Societies of the time. John Tolland organized the first "Druid" Society in Europe, the Universal Druid Bond. From there, groups kept joining and splitting off, being created and dying, each with a kernel of Tolland's to start their particular brand of Druidism. The most recognizable group that is a direct line descendant of the UDB is the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids, or the OBOD. The OBOD and the Ancient Order of Druids stayed in existence through WWI and WWII and continue to the present.
In 1963 in Minnesota, the Reformed Druids of North America was formed, starting the first Druidic group on the American continent. With the focus shifting from a Fraternal order (which, admittedly, the descendants of the UDB grew out of) to being a scholarly order, modern Druidism was born. From humble beginnings as a protest against the requirement of Carleton College that there be religious services held for many school events with mandatory attendance, many new groups sprang into existence. The ADF (Ar nDraiocht Fein) started in the 1970's [Actually, in the early 1980s.] and spawned many splinter groups, The Henge of Keltria being the most famous and successful so far.
Modern Druids have a verifiable history that has been documented and researched. Druids do not claim straight-line descent from the Celts for that would be dishonest. We don't have to invent a history going back to the caves to justify our faith.
Tools do tend to be important to the Modern Druid. The tools aren't used the same way a Wiccan would use them.
The tools that are important to me are the Staff, Cauldron, Spear, Sword and Stone. Other Druids may disagree with this list. I have heard of other tool lists and certainly each Order will have their own valid ideas concerning what tools are necessary. Also, it should be noted, that a Druid can do a ritual without any tools at all except the mind.
These tools are not important in and of themselves, they are important for what they represent. For Wiccans, each tool is consecrated and identified as personal. Only the owner should touch/handle an athame for example because it is infused with their personal energies and another person handling the blade could contaminate that energy.
When a Druid sanctifies a sword for example, it is a representation of the Sword of Nuada. Any other Druid with access to it can use it in theory. The athame is exclusively the Wiccan's the sword is Nuada's and it is He who grants his permission for Druidic use.
The Spear previously mentioned is the Spear of Lugh, the Cauldron the Cauldron of the Dagda, and the Stone is representative of the Stone of Fal. Each of these were treasures that the Tuatha de' Dannan brought with them from their cities when they came to Ireland from the North, and are each very magickal artifacts.
The Staff is representative of a Tree, and a Tree connects the three realms, namely the Sea (represented by the water table) Land (Earth it rests in and on) and Sky (the air). As such, it reminds us to do the same thing, and to try to keep those connections in mind. This is why trees are revered in Druidism, although not worshiped.
As a part of this, the Pentagram or Pentacle do not appear anywhere in Druidic practice, at least not those practices that do not have a heavy dose of Wicca in them. The two main symbols of Druidism are the Triskel and the symbol of Awen /|\. Both these symbols have threes contained within them, representing triune thought, in that everything comes in threes, Good-Bad-Indifferent, Land-Sea-Sky, Mind-Body-Spirit, and so on. The Triskel reminds us that it's important to bring those three qualities, whatever qualities they may be, together into one and in that point where they connect, become balanced in the center. This triune thought is central to Druidic thought.
One last component that may make many Wiccans do a double take is Divination. For the most part, Tarot cards are not used in modern Druidic practice. Now, that is not to say that Druids don't use Tarot to divine the future, because they do. It is saying that Tarot cards are not taught as a divinatory tool per se. Other means of divination are stressed and the Tarot only taught after those initial means of divination are mastered.
The tools most Druids use in forecasting the future are Ogham script, watching nature, and divining by scrying into water, smoke or even the fire. In most schools, Ogham is taught as one of the primary means of divination. Each of the 20 or 25 letters of the Ogham alphabet (there are several different and conflicting sets of Ogham letters that scholars have identified; none yet know which is more authentic than others) have a relationship to a tree, and in each case, that tree has a personality that can tell us a lot about what the Letter is saying. While interpretation may differ from FUThARK superficially, the results and the spreads are the same.
In watching nature, the Druid simply sits outside and watches. They will watch the clouds, the flights of birds, the patterns water skimmers make on the lake, the sound of the crickets chirping, listen to the birds of the Gods and so on. Each of these will tell the Druid certain things from which he can extract information.
It must also be mentioned that in some cases, the Divination of a Druid comes from searching the mythology. By Druidic belief, things move in cycles, in circles. Actions in the past can and do repeat themselves in the present and in the future. By looking into the history or the myth, one may be able to extract what could happen next and make informed guesses and predictions on what should happen next based on what happened before. It is an intuitive leap to a possible new outcome based on understanding of the stories that we study.
Groves vs. Covens
The basic structure of Wicca is the Coven; the basic structure of a Druidic group is the Grove. Each has similarities in that there are attendees, leaders, watchers and guardians. Each person in the group has a role, and each has a specialty, even though ideally, everyone present has the same skills.
In contrast to a Coven, however, a Druidic Grove usually has a connection to a larger order. Whereas a Coven will normally only be connected to another Coven if it "hived off" from it, a Druid Grove is part of a larger overall structure. A central organization, like the ADF, is a larger umbrella group that directs all the Groves that call themselves part of the ADF. They have the final decision regarding who is or is not a member of their order, who may or may not study with their order and so on. Because of this, all Druids who are part of that order are members of the umbrella organization. Thus an ADF Druid from Lyon France could travel to Sydney Australia and worship with an ADF Grove there, and vice-versa as long as the language is not an issue. He could also travel to the United States and worshiping in any Grove in the States.
That also means that there is one office of information for the Order, one spokesman for the Order, and that the Head of the Order (sometimes referred to as an Arch Druid) can speak on behalf of the entire organization. The Head can also make rules, collect fees, give degrees and ordinations and so on. Most Druidic organizations like this are 501(c)(3) certified, which makes them a church in every legal sense of the word in the United States.
Each Grove, while not totally autonomous, does have its own teachers and leaders who are authorized to act on behalf of the Order in local matters. While the local Druid head of the Grove may speak out on taking down a monument in the local city, a statement on matters of national importance (like the Presidential Election) or world importance (like the Pope's apology) would come from the Head of the Order.
Solitary Druids do exist. While these Druids have every right to call him/herself a Druid, s/he should only speak for him/herself and not try to make all-encompassing statements. Solitary Druids are free to follow their own conscience concerning their beliefs and practices. Many Solitary Druids eventually become members of an Order to get a grounding in the basics of a style of Druidism, and from there may move on to develop their own form of Druidism. This is how the Ord Draiochta na Uisnech developed.
These differences are key to understanding the dichotomy between Wicca and Druidism. This document does not claim one is better, more right, more ancient or any thing else than the other. Instead, it is trying to explain the things that a Wiccan may not necessarily understand about Druidism. It is hoped it will help foster understanding and amicable relations between the two groups. Its goal is to affect an understanding that while we are both Pagan religions, Wicca is not Druidism and Druidism is not Wicca. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. Both are critical components to modern Neo-Paganism and both have a lot to learn from each other.
© 2003 Daven, all rights reserved.
Permission is given to freely distribute this unaltered in print form, websites and email newsletters whatsoever, so long as this copyright statement and author biography remains intact. Redistributing it in a print medium for profit is prohibited without the expressed written consent of the author. Please contact the author at email@example.com
About the author: Daven is a practicing Wiccan of 12 years, having studied
for a significant portion of his life. Daven recently joined the Ord Draiochta
na Uisnech to continue his Druidic studies, ceasing to be a Solitary Druid. To
read more of his articles and thoughts on Druidism and Wicca
Part One: Team Sports
By Mike Scharding, Digitalis Grove
The ancient (and modern) Celts didn't just do board games, but engaged in a variety of athletic pursuits, and from these countries, many of the organized team sports can trace their roots. Most popular team sports are historically merely a recent phenomenon. It is likely that most team sports derive from sacred festival games, where you had large groups of restless young people, into the more secular pastime of today. that When I refer to team sports, I am generally referring to seasonal play between consistent groups of people; and not just the target competitions, fighting bouts and strongman contests of a single festival, which will be covered in the next installment of this series. In this three part article, I'll discuss the basics of outdoor sports, highland games, and drinking/pub games among the ancient and modern Celtic peoples; based on internet research, some SCA background, and a half dozen courses on medieval history.
You need to understand the geographical climate of Britain. Until the 10th century, the vast majority of the population of the British Isles (perhaps a total of 2 or 3 million), lived in small self-sufficient hamlets, surrounded by bogs, moors, forests, mountains, stormy seas, with only rudimentary deliveries unless they were on a river or ocean or near the king's highway. Most people probably never traveled more than five to six miles from home, except possibly on pilgrimages, marauding in war bands, cattle drives to the market, fishing or on church business (forerunner of the postal service). Divided by local dialects, long standing feuds, and roving bandits; these small population that were very suspicious of the next village down the road. People were generally always hungry, not very healthy (have you ever seen those small suits of armor?), sports medicine was crude, unfarmed open fields were rare (churchyards, river banks and market squares were still a possibility), and non-necessary physical exertion or practice was not a highly prized social virtue. Regional sporting leagues were thus rather unlikely, but where large numbers of youths congregated for military training, or fostering in a royal court, team sports could be assumed to have popped up as a supplement to martial training, as we'll find with hurling. The diverse climates of the British Isles brought about summer and winter variations of this basic diversionary activity.
From the 12th to 18th centuries, as times began to get more peaceful, cities grew, and trade routes opened up in Europe, church officials and local lords often disdained or barred team sports as likely to erupt in violent mobs (which they usually did), accompant gambling, and deviation from their spiritual and secular duties to the Lord and lord respectively. Such forms of peasant organization, training or traveling were considered subversive threats to the political-economic status quo, although the nobility themselves engaged in numerous ancient pastimes together themselves such as warring, whoring, hunting, and gambling with the fortunes of their country (the idyllic hopes of an actual knight was not too different from a gangster rap video if you read their epic ballads). Instead, serviceable peasants were encouraged to practice archery, do military drills, and prepare for war; which also was the most common form of population control at the time. Despite these bans, historical records increasingly find evidence of rudimentary sports developing; often in the form of progressively frequent bans on sporting activities, rather than detailed descriptions of the rules or team structures themselves.
Most sports federations, organized systems or rules, and teams date only from the late 18th or 19th century, when large portions of the population began attending public schooling; and some form of orderly dignified play was needed to release the repressed youthful spirits of children of Victorian Britain; who increasingly no longer needed to work in sweatshops all day. With increasing leisure time, free cash, personal hygiene, and interest in vigorous healthy exertion; sports soon bloomed as a respectable pastime for rich and poor until the 1970s. The world empires of the British, French, Dutch, Japanese and Americans quickly disseminated these games and lifestyles, and national teams began to proliferate and compete. Since the invention of the TV and computer games, and fitness clubs, with an ever-aging population demographic; sports participation has precipitously declined in Europe. In recent years, sports federations there have bemoaned an ever earlier age of specialization in one sport, intensifying focus on winning instead of playfulness, decrease in sportsmanship, increased interest in solitary exercise clubs, and a decline of interest in minor traditional sports by talented athletes. According to a recent survey, the top ten participatory sports in the United Kingdom are: walking, swimming, cycling, exercise, snooker/billiards, ten pin bowling/skittles, weight training, darts and -finally- soccer.
Large Team Sports
Hurling is possibly the oldest known field game in Europe. It figures prominently in early Irish lore and the Brehon laws of the 6th century; thus going back at least 2000 years. The only definite thing we know about hurling is that this ancient game is the model for most Celtic sports, including camogie, a female version, Scottish shinty, Welsh bandy (or banty), Cornish out-hurling, ice hockey, field hockey, Gaelic football, and modern Irish hurling. Hurling was banned in 1366 by the Statutes of Kilkenny (along with mixed marriages by the invading Anglo-Normans) and strongly enforced by the Galway Statutes of 1527 due to the violent matches that would ensue after the game. Gaelic Football was devised as a substitute, by removing the hand-held sticks from the game. Hurling was revived in the 18th century by some local barons who added rules of honor to prevent fights, and hurling was institutionalized by the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1884. In the 19th century, variants of hurling, such as Scottish shinty (or camanachd at www.shinty.com) and Welsh bandy (played on ice) and hockey (Hokie), emerged and developed on similar rules. Golf (or kolf), a possible solitary descendent of Shinty, also became popular in the 18th century, but is recorded back to the 15th century, and probably has ancient antecedents of bored shepherds whacking rocks with a stick all over the world.
The legends, which were revived from extinction by Sechan Torpeist, a 7th century bard, tells the story of how Setanta, the nephew of King Conchobair Mac Neasa of Ulster, receives the name of Cuchulainn:
|Setanta journeys to his uncle's court to
join the boy's corps. He shortened his walk by hurling his silver sliotar
(ball) and then throwing his bronze hurley stick after it. He would run and
catch both the sliotar and the hurley stick before they hit the ground. Soon
he arrived at court, and his hurling abilities amazed the boys of the corps.
Legend has it that he was able to score with ease and when he guarded the
goal he never let a shot in.
One day King Conchobair was invited to a banquet at the house of Culainn and asked his nephew to join him. Setanta agreed to go after he finished playing a hurling game. While at the feast Culainn asked the king if all the guests had arrived. King Conchobair, forgetting about Setanta, said yes and Culainn unleashed his hound to guard the house. When Setanta arrived at the feast the great hound leapt up to attack him, but Setanta quickly hurled the sliotar at the hound and it went down the beast's throat. The boy immediately grabbed the stunned hound by his feet and smashed its head into the floor of the stone courtyard killing him.
When the guests heard the baying of the hound they ran outside and were surprised to see Setanta alive and the beast dead. King Conchobair was overjoyed but Culainn was sad at the loss of his favorite hound. Setanta offered to find a hound worthy of the one he had slain and vowed to guard Culainn's home until such an animal could be found. Thus Setanta became known as Cuchulainn, which translates to "the hound of Culainn".
The stick, or "hurley" (called caman in Gaelic) is curved outwards at the end, to provide the striking surface. The ball or "sliothar" is similar to a field hockey ball with raised ridges. Hurling is played on a large pitch of 137m long and 82m wide. The goalposts are similar to those in rugby, with the crossbar lower than a rugby one and slightly higher than a soccer one. Each game lasts 90 minutes.
You may either strike the ball on the ground, or up in the air. Unlike hockey, you may pick up the ball with your hurley and carry it up to four steps in your hand. After those steps you may bounce the ball on the hurley and back to the hand, but you are forbidden to catch the ball more than twice. To get around this, one of the skills is running with the ball carefully balanced on flat of the hurley The Sliothair may also be kicked with the feet, but only the goalie may use the hand to stop a hit ball, and this really really hurts. To score one point, you must put the ball over the crossbar with the hurley, or under the crossbar and into the net by the hurley for a goal of three points.
There are usually 15 members on a team, although some variants will have fewer players. Goalkeepers may not be physically challenged while inside their own small parallelogram, but players may verbally or physically harass them into playing a bad pass, or block an attempted pass. Teams are allowed a maximum of three substitutes in a game, which can be quite strenuous. Players may switch positions on the field of play as much as they wish.
|Right corner-back||Full-back||Left corner-back|
|Right corner-back||Center half-back||Left corner-back|
|Right half-forward||Centre half-forward||Left half-forward|
|Right corner-forward||Full-forward||Left corner-forward|
60 pages of official hurling rules are at: http://www.gaa.ie/html/pdf/gaaguide.pdf
Gaelic Football can be aptly described as a rough blend of soccer and rugby, although it definitely predates both of those games. It is a field game, derived from hurling, and it is thought that the rough Australian Rules Football evolved from Gaelic Football through the many thousands of Irish who were either deported or emigrated to Australia from the middle of the nineteenth century. Gaelic Football is played on a pitch approximately 137m long and 82m wide and each team consists of fifteen players, arranged like a hurling team. The ball used in Gaelic Football is a little smaller than a soccer ball and can be carried in the hand for a distance of four steps, and can be kicked or "hand-passed", a striking motion with the hand or fist. After every four steps the ball must be either bounced or "solo-ed", an action of dropping the ball onto the foot and kicking it back into the hand. You may not bounce the ball twice in a row. When played by men, it may not be picked directly from the ground. Physical contact is allowed, shoulder to shoulder, but no tackling. The goalposts are the same shape as those that are on a rugby pitch, with the crossbar a little lower than a rugby one, but slightly higher than a soccer one To score, you put the ball over the crossbar by either foot or hand / fist for one point, or under the crossbar and into the net by foot or the hand / fist in certain circumstances for three points.
The rules of Gaelic Football http://www.gaa.ie/html/pdf/gaaguide.pdf
Rugby and Soccer/Football
The origin of soccer is widely contested by most countries in the world, who simply can't imagine a time when they didn't play it. I used to hear folklore stories from my father about English workmen in the 10th century who were digging in an old battlefield and uncovering the skull of a Danish soldier. Since the Danish had recently occupied England, the workers began to kick the skull around with glee, which probably hurt their feet. Most Celts reportedly showed greater respect for the heads of their foes and friends. Actually, football games (known as soccer only in America) have been recognizably documented in the ancient writings of the Chinese (who generally kept detailed decent records of everything, long before the Celts even arrived in Britain) as early as 80 B.C., and soccer-like games have been appearing in Asian literature ever since. In Britain, the world-touring Roman soldiers who were unhappily stationed in that barbaric land probably introduced the game to the locals before the 5th century, possibly in an attempt to kill off the local population with this new violent sport. There is mention of the game as far back as 1175, in the book "History of London," and in those days it was a vicious mass scale hooliganesque contest between two villages.
|"Up to two thousand people used to take
part, there being no age restriction nor was it limited to the male
population. There is evidence that matches took place between married woman
and spinsters. The teams would meet at noon at a point decided upon by the
leaders of the two villages, usually a point midway between the two
villages, and a ball would be thrown in the air. The object being to take
the ball back to one's own village where the goalposts were situated; these
could be anything from a pool of water or center post in their own town
square, and later in the town square of the opponent. The actual ball also
varied from a piece of animal hide to a bundle of rags and signified either
an item of warfare or of hunting. The means of getting the ball back to the
goals was unspecified; but carrying it, kicking it and hitting it with
sticks and clubs were the most popular. Some of the players were on
horseback whilst others, carried swords in addition to their clubs and
The field of play was not restricted in any way and normally was anywhere between the two villages - up and down the hills, across valleys, through the farming fields and across rivers. Many people were maimed for life, some killed and others drowned when the mob went through a river or stream. It was thus an ideal way of settling family and other feuds. In many cases a game took place within a game, with ambushes being set to enable private duels to be settled. Play for the day was only abandoned at sunset. When a village were successful in getting the ball back to their own goal they symbolically killed it. The usual method was by drowning in the village fountain or rubbing it into the dirt at the local market. Afterwards the ball would be cut up and shared amongst the leaders."
A historical record of the development of soccer in England shows that Eton college produced the earliest known rules of the game in 1815, perhaps implying that until then, chaos was preferred over order, with street battles often ensuing afterwards. A non-carrying variant known as football soon began to be divorced from rugby. Order gradually came to the game, and standardized rules known as the Cambridge rules were adopted by England's major colleges. American Football began to radically diverge from rugby only after the invention of the quarterback's long-bomb throw in the 1930s at Notre Dame (due to a modification of the shape and a loophole in the rules), that allowed the ball to be thrown forward instead of sideways, that changed it into a staccato game to sack the quarterback or a few running backs, rather than the fluid chaos of rugby.
The rule they decided upon were roughly:
The points are roughly: A Try for 5 points is awarded when the ball is carried or kicked across the goal line and downward pressure applied to the ball (i.e. touches the ball down) A conversion is the kick for 3 points is taken immediately after a team scores a try. The ball must be kicked through the goal posts.
History of Rugby http://www.angelfire.com/biz4/bigbrian/origins.html History of Rugby
Curling: Celts on Ice
For centuries, modern curling has been a favorite game in Scotland during the mild winters, and may be an old local adaptation of lawn bowling, which reputedly dates from ancient Roman times. The first unequivocal historical record of the sport is from notary John McQuhin , who noted a challenge about throwing stones across the ice between a monk at Paisley Abbey and a relative of the abbot in February 1541. Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland (1781 - 1799) wrote eloquently of the place in parish life that curling occupied. For example, the minister of Muirkirk in Ayrshire wrote: Their chief amusement in winter is curling, or playing stones on smooth ice. They eagerly vie with one another who shall come nearest the mark, and one part of the parish against another, one description of men against another, one trade or occupation against another, and often one whole parish against another, - earnestly contend for the palm, which is generally all the prize, except that perhaps the victors claim from the vanquished the dinner and bowl of toddy, which, to do them justice, both commonly take together with great cordiality, and generally without any grudge at the fortune of the day; wisely reflecting, no doubt, that defeat as well as victory is the fate of war. Those accustomed to this amusement, or that have acquired dexterity in the game, are extremely fond of it. The amusement itself is healthful; it is innocent; it does nobody harm; let them enjoy it.
Although the Netherlands also have some evidence in favor of an independent origin, it was Scotland where the game matured and achieved popularity, and where you can still find the highest number of curlers per capita. Curling is popular in parts of Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand, and a number of European countries. As early as 1924, curling made an appearance at the Olympics, as a demonstration sport, but it did not achieve full status as an official event until 1998; although it is probably the least televised aspect of the Olympics.
Curling is a large class of games, including lawn bowling, bocce, boules, shuffleboard, and (in some cases) marbles, that all have the same basic idea in common. Taking turns, competitors launch (throw, roll, or slide) a projectile (ball or puck) toward a target. After several rounds, the player or team with the projectile closest to the target wins; a large part of the strategy is displacing your opponent's projectiles while protecting your own. You get one point for each stone of yours that's closer to the target than the opponent's first closest stone.
It is only member of this class that is played on ice. A curling rink will have one or more playing surfaces, which are sheets of ice 146 feet long by 14 feet wide. At the end of each sheet is a circular bullseye-like target painted under the ice, consisting of a ring 12 feet in diameter with two smaller concentric rings and an inner circle called the tee, which is the target. The projectiles are big round granite stones about 12 inches in diameter and weighing up to 44 pounds. Handles on the tops of the stones enable the players to control them on the throw, and give a little spin. Each team has four players, and each player has two stones. Starting at one end of the ice rink, a player will "throw" (slide) the stone toward the target. Teams alternate until all the stones have been thrown, at which point the score is counted. Only stones within the outer ring of the target can be scored. The team with the stone closest to the tee wins that end (or round), collecting one point for each of their stones that's closer to the center than any of the opposing team's stones. After eight or ten ends, the team with the highest score wins.
The stones have a tendency to curve, or curl, as they slide down the ice, similar to bowling. By putting a deliberate spin on the flung stone, players can control the direction and extent of that curl and use it to their advantage. But the stone's fate is not determined only by physics after it is thrown, the fun still continues. As the stone slides toward the target, one or two players will slide in front of it, sweeping the ice vigorously with little brooms or brushes (called besoms). This looks rather goofy, but it's a key strategy of the game, because brushing the ice is actually polishing it, giving the stone a smoother surface of melted water and thus extending the stonefs range and influencing the direction of the stone, making the competition much more complex.
Handball is simple and involves only two or four players (singles or doubles), a ball, durable hands and a few walls. The size of court (60 feet x 30 feet and 40 feet x 20 feet) depends on local custom. Handball is actually much like squash (but without rackets) with the players striking the tiny ball against the front wall, in the hope that it will bounce past their opponent or bounce twice on the floor earning them a point. You've probably seen kids do this at school with tennis balls. The ball is struck with the palm of the hand, or sometimes with a closed fist. When a player has twenty-one points, they have won the game and the player who is first to win two games is declared the winner of a match. One of its great appeals is that it can be played to middle age and beyond.
Uniquely among the Irish Gaelic Games, handball has a thriving international dimension due to Irish emigration in the nineteenth century, but US Army personnel were responsible for bringing the game to mainland Europe. Wherever the game is played throughout the world, the various versions are all thought to be linked to the traditional Irish game, with the possible exception of "Fives", a game played in the United Kingdom and "Pelota", a game similar to handball which was first played in Spain's Basque region.
What about Cricket?
Sadly, I'm out of space this issue, and Cricket is about as English a game as
exists. Go to the following page for more information.
The Soul of Juliana Spring
By Irony Sade
Copyright November 2000
And so we come to the end of this tale of Juliana Spring
Russell Raskin lay like a skull on a pillow, his hands gnarled and nearly lifeless on the sheet that pinned him down. Wires trailed beneath the cloth. A tube bled oxygen into the air beneath his nose. His eyes followed me as I entered the room. There was a chair by the window. I sat.
"You knew." His voice was quiet.
"I looked into your eyes and saw the truth that lived there."
"God told you," muttered Russell. "He told you, so that you would tell me, that I might see my life for what it was. The bastard. You are no better than I was. Why should He let you win?"
I said nothing.
"He did not lie, you know."
"I do not think the gods can lie. It seems a purely human art."
"He told me no human hand would stop me, too. I did not realize that meant He would."
"Perhaps he was giving you the chance to stop yourself."
"Shut up with the righteousness, will you?"
I studied the wires and tubes, the machines that stretched his life.
"Look at me- a dying preacher discussing God with a Druid. I must be mad."
"I once read that the important religious distinction was not between those who believed and those who did not, but between those who loved and those who did not. What you or I believe may not matter so long as we act with love."
"What does not leave me any better off," growled Russell.
I looked away.
"You loved them both, Russell. You could not have hated so powerfully else."
"Do you believe that?"
I shrugged carefully.
His eyes blazed.
"Answer me, damn you! Do you believe that? Or are you feeding me lies so I'll die content?"
"I was offering an interpretations of events that might bring you peace, should you choose to believe it. How could I know what you felt?"
"You knew what I did."
'What is not the same thing. Besides, is it not the role of priests to bring comfort to the dying?"
"Not this priest. I've never wanted comfort. Comfort keeps you from facing the truth."
"Facing the truth just got you killed."
"Bullshit. Hiding the truth got me killed. Owning up to it just let me die- that and your damned questions. And don't expect me to thank you for that either!"
"I don't. Believe me."
Raskin coughed, exhausted by the effort.
"Why did you do it, anyway?" He asked.
The preacher was silent.
"I heard her play, you know. At the concert. A friend of a friend told me about it. That's how I found you. She is good. If God loves music you may not have done such a bad thing."
"She has thrown her whole life into the harp," I responded. "I only hope she forgives me that."
"If not, it's nothing worse than what I've done."
"So? You only hid the truth. I let her believe a false one."
"That's not as bad as murder. Maybe I will see you in Hell after all." The pale Christmas sunshine sidled slowly down the wall. Church bells caroled in the steeple outside.
"Why did you want to see me?" I asked.
The old man chuckled.
Who else was I supposed to talk to? Juliana? My flock? Haven't you read your Nietzsche? All friends lie. Only your enemies will tell you the truth."
I smiled ruefully. There was nothing I could say to that.
"Speaking of which," said Russell sharply.
I stilled my features. Dying as he was, this man could still wound me.
"I've heard it said that Juliana sold her soul to play the way she does. Do you know anything about that?"
"There are different ways to sell ones' soul," I answered very carefully. "One can drive a supernatural bargain, one can destroy some thing or quality central to ones' identity, or one can commit ones' self so completely to a single pursuit that everything else must be neglected. Out of countless paths Juliana has chosen one- and never left it. She has never explored anything else, never tried to discover other worlds, other loves, other things she could be. She has brutally pruned her own possibilities, and thus accomplished something practically impossible. In that sense she has sold her soul. To me that is an admirable and terrifying choice."
Juliana's father watched me very quietly.
"There was nothing supernatural involved?"
"There was nothing supernatural involved."
Russell grunted. It could have meant anything.
"What a strange way to think," he muttered at last.
Minutes drifted by. Raskin's breaths were getting weaker.
"Is Sam alright?" He asked me suddenly.
"A few stitches. He will be fine."
A certain tension went out of him.
"Last request time, isn't it?"
I bit my lip, nodded.
"Tell Juliana she can perform at my funeral." He grinned savagely. "Bet she always wanted to play me to death."
"I'll do that."
Russell Raskin glared up at me. His grey eyes burned, dimming.
"Thrice damned Druid! Take care of my little girl for me."
"I will," I whispered, and he was gone.
Very few people can manage a funeral and a wedding in the same week with any sort of grace. Sam was one of those few. Watching him move amongst the wedding guests and the mourners from Russell's church, I realized what it was in him that my lovely harpist loved. Juliana Spring Raskin Hammersmith refused to have the wedding put off. She put on all the requisite roles and played at both events.
There was something new in her music now. In her triple guise as daughter, widow, and angel of death, she played at the funeral something I had never heard. There was grief in it, and longing, forgiveness, surcease and healing. She was burying both her parents that day, though none but we three knew it. She played what she played, and the gathered mourners wept, longed, suffered, and forgave, without ever understanding what it was for.
"What was that?" I asked her later.
"The music in my dreams. I just sat and listened and played what I felt. It is the first time that has happened."
"Maybe it was worth it," she added.
She was staring at nothing at all as she spoke. I knew not if she addressed myself, or the grave.
"Juliana," I began.
"No." She stopped me. "I am not the best in the world yet. Almost, but not yet. That might not be so important now, but this new thing is. This is a thing I need to explore."
She rose and left me where the wind played games with the snowflakes and the headstones, the memories and the souls.
At the wedding she played love, but that is an impoverished word to call what was in her music. She played the passion of the newly wed, the depth and humor that comes of knowing another life and mind through twelve long years. She played the tender care of a parent- and this from someone who had never had a child. And she played something else. A thing too powerful to name, that choked me with a private longing. It reached inside to drag out notions I had sworn I would never entertain, and left me shaken with its passage. Juliana's eyes caught mine as she touched the strings, and she smiled at me for the first time since the concert.
At last she released us and took Sam's hand in hers. The guests gaped, daring only to breath. The pastor stood slowly at the head of the chapel. He stretched forth tremulous arms and raised his face to the heavens.
"Amen!" He exclaimed.
And that was the wedding.
Now I grow weary of the passage of time, and this telling has nearly reached its end. Five years later Juliana was the best harpist in the world, without a doubt, by any standard you cared to name. There were those who said she was the best musician in the world, that she played on peoples' souls instead of strings.
The seasons' changeless change had swung through to Beltain again when the couple came to visit me. I led them down to the workshop where I had labored all winter.
"I have something for you," I let on as we approached.
Standing on the bench was a small traveling harp of darkest mahogany, completely unadorned, polished as glass. Its strings glowed like liquid sunshine in the clear spring light.
"Is that what I think it is?" Sam wondered aloud.
"Golden strings," I smiled. "The best harpists have always had them."
"You're trying to make a legend out of me, aren't you?" Said Juliana.
"If I am, I am too late. You are that already. I just wondered what gold harp strings might sound like, that is all, and you are the only one good enough to do them justice."
She gave me a quick hug.
"You are too kind."
"Hardly. But come outside. The Maypole is starting."
The rest of the day was a time of celebration and life, that fluid, wonderful, time defying clarity that once seen remains forever living in a persons' heart. The feast was consumed, the pole danced and braided, the King and Queen of the May chosen, crowned and married. I sat on a sun soaked log to rest my knees after the ceremony, watching the wedding games. The King and Queen stood in a circle of revelers, their hands tied to full wine cups, holding a kiss between them. Those in the ring joked, teased, and shouted, gleefully doing everything they could short of actual contact to make the couple laugh and break it off.
Juliana collapsed lightly to my right, flowers in her hair and laughter in her eyes.
"All these years, all these Beltains," she began. "How is it that you never married?"
I looked at her in surprise. Her eyes teased mine.
"Who would have had me?"
"I might have."
"I am twice your age, dear."
"Not any more you're not."
"True. But you had Sam."
"True." She gazed at him fondly from across the green.
"We are thinking of having children, he and I. I am not quite too old yet."
She laughed. "But what sort of mother would a soulless woman make?"
"Juliana Spring," sighed I, and took her hand in mine. "I never took your soul."
"I never took it. Your soul has been yours all along."
"But you did! Our bargain- you spoke those words and I felt it leave!"
"It was all in your mind then. I do not really know if souls can be sold. Lost, saved, destroyed, nourished, abandoned, loved, certainly, but to the best of my knowledge your soul is with you always, love it or hate it, to do with as you will. What would I have done with an extra soul, anyhow?"
The harpist's jaw worked soundlessly.
"But if you couldn't buy my soul, why did you even want to meet me in the first place?"
"I wanted to see what it was like to want something that badly. I never have, you know. Most people never do. I could not imagine a desire so strong in a person that young. I had to meet you."
Laughter erupted throughout the glade. Someone had started people-fishing with doughnuts.
"You tricked us," she said at last.
"I did. Are you angry?"
"I don't know yet... If there was no bargain, then everything you've done..."
"I did nothing." I cut her off. "It was all you, Juliana."
"What would you have done all those years ago, if I had told you souls could not be sold, that only practice, passion, and infinite dedication could make you a better harpist? What if I had told you that even with guidance, time, and expert teachers there was no guarantee you would ever be as good as you wanted, or that dream music could never be properly reproduced? I had never even heard you play, remember?"
"I might have become a nurse," she reflected. "Why didn't you though?"
"Because you were serious. Because you were strong enough to make me wonder. Because the gods love it when we act bravely." Her deep, deep eyes searched mine.
"And because, watching you, I got just an inkling of how powerful that desire might be."
In an ideal world she would have kissed me then. But we were in this one, and the moment passed.
"I will name my firstborn after you."
"Even if it is a girl?"
"Even better! I could never have done it without you."
"Nonsense," said I, but it is hard to sound believably stern when your cheeks are flushing crimson.
Juliana played her new harp for us that night, while the couples snuggled and the stars blazed down. She sat on our log in a borrowed cloak with her hair blowing long about her shoulders. The strings burned golden in the firelight as they sang, and a whole generation of listening fools began to believe in magic.
It was the story of her life we heard, made music, wordless and eloquent. Dream songs from her childhood, her mother vanished, father possessed, early despair in her years in college and the flush of young love in meeting Sam. Then came the power, the wonder, the mystery and horror of an unspeakable bargain, the surrender, confidence and strange purity it engendered, and at last the full splendor of the mature theme began. Two decades of concentration and skill in one ascending spiral, the struggle, journey, grief, love, discovery, mastery... and at the end, when I was sure there could be nothing left to feel, came joy.
The Language of the Picts
From the Orkneyjar: the Heritage of the Orkney Islands site
At the forefront of the great mysteries surrounding the Picts, and one which has stimulated the most discussion and argument over the centuries, is the language these people spoke.
According to historical records written by contemporaries of the Picts, they spoke a different language to that used by the other inhabitants of Scotland. A clear reference to this can be found within the accounts of St Columba's life in which we learn that he required an interpreter in order to converse with the northern Picts.
However as the Picts themselves kept no written records of their lifestyles, beliefs or heritage, their language has now all but disappeared. The only sources that can give vague clues as to its nature are some of the carved inscriptions they left, placenames and certain accounts of Pictish names written by external sources at the time.
As with all things Pictish, however, the lack of concrete evidence has led to a number of opinions and theories as to the form of the spoken language of the inhabitants of Northern Scotland in the early centuries of the first millennium. Some claim that the Picts spoke an old language indigenous to area - a language that predated the language of the Britons, the Scots and the Irish. This language did not have an Indo-European origin but was instead a survival of the ancient language used by the Bronze Age people of the area.
Then there is the idea that the Picts merely spoke a variant of a Celtic language related to the language of the Ancient Britons. When the Celts arrived in this country, they brought with them an Indo-European language which replaced the existing languages of country.
Along the same lines is the idea that the Picts spoke a version of Ancient British that contained elements of Irish Gaelic - fragments picked up over the years through contact with the Scotti - the invading Irish settlers who claimed territory down the west coast of Scotland. This theory is strengthened by the fact that the writing system used by the Picts - Ogham -originates in Ireland.
The final theory is not actually related to the spoken language of the Picts but instead focusses on the later inscriptions they made using Ogham. It has been suggested that although the Picts used this Irish writing system, they used Old Norse. This is a convincing theory that consistently appears to make sense out of what was once thought to inexplicable.
Dr Richard Cox, a lecturer in the University of Aberdeen's Department of Celtic claims that the ogham inscriptions found in Orkney as well as in other parts of Scotland, were actually written in Old Norse, the Scandinavian language of the Vikings.
His discovery, published for the first time in 1999 went against the research community which had long believed the inscriptions to be an ancient form of Gaelic or a long forgotten Pictish language.
Dr Cox explained: "The inscriptions are written in ogham, a writing system using a series of straight slashes on, through or below a central stem line. We think it was developed in fourth century Ireland and later brought to Scotland. While the system was used to write Gaelic in Ireland, no-one has been able to make sense of the inscriptions in Scotland.
"But using Old Norse, the inscriptions can be translated meaningfully. Many are memorials, recording who carved the stone and in whose memory it was erected."
The 19 inscriptions Dr Cox studied make up about half the ogham inscriptions found across Scotland.
"This discovery is of major significance for our understanding of the early history of Scotland and Scandinavia. There is plenty of evidence, through placenames for example, of Scandinavian influence in some parts of Scotland but these stones provide clear evidence of strong links between Scotland and Norway in areas where other areas is absent." said Dr Cox.
"In Scandinavia memorial inscriptions like these would be carved in runes not ogham. The question is why are these stones carved in Old Norse but using a system of writing developed in the Gaelic speaking world? The evidence suggests strong links in language and learning and in religious custom between Norse and Gaelic-speaking communities."
Copyright © Sigurd Towrie, 1996-2003
Treatment of Oak Death
Scientists say Product Helps
Infected trees fight disease
Peter Fimrite, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, October 3, 2003
The first major breakthrough in the treatment of the tree killer known as sudden oak death has been approved for use on oaks, a development that could save thousands of homeowners' trees from the plague.
The phosphite product, developed by the Australian company AGRICHEM, protects endangered oaks from infection and helps infected trees fight off the disease, according to UC scientists.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation approved two versions of the compound Wednesday - one is a spray, the other an injection- for use by professional arborists and foresters.
"This is not the final solution," warned Matteo Garbelotto, the UC Berkeley forest pathologist who has led scientific research on the deadly microbe. "It is just one tool in a series of efforts to stop the spread of the pathogen. But it also gives us hope. The general belief had always been that you can't do anything to stop disease in the forest. This shows there are things that can be done."
The microscopic disease, known scientifically as Phytophthora ramorum, has killed tens of thousands of tan oak, coast live oak and black oak trees in California and Oregon, and has spread to at least 27 other tree and shrub species, most of which act as hosts but do not die.
Scientists believe 11 other kinds of plants and trees have also been infected, but the research verifying them as carriers has not been completed.
The virulent microbe, which throws off spores like flowers shed pollen, has, in essence, scraped whole sections of California's oak dotted hills and valleys bare.
In some canyons in Big Sur every tan oak tree has been killed. Some 40 to 45 percent of the majestic live oaks have died in hard-hit areas, including Marin County.
The chemical, also known as phosphonate, is expected to be available for use on private trees by Oct. 22, after arborists who want to use the product go through two days of training at UC Berkeley.
On Thursday, Garbelotto demonstrated its use - expected to cost homeowners about $30 per application. One way to treat oaks is to inject the chemical into the tree's vascular system with a syringe. The other is to spray the bark with a mixture of phosphite and organosilicate, a chemical that helps the bark absorb the chemicals.
Phosphite is absorbed into the tree and moves up into the leaves, Garbelotto said. It then enters the cambium, the part of the tree the pathogen attacks. The presence of phosphites in the cambium prompts the tree to release chemicals that fight off infections, he said.
The original studies on phosphonate in 2001 showed marked reductions in lesions on trees, but it was registered as a fertilizer and could not be used to fight sudden oak death.
Garbelotto said further studies in Australia, where a different phytophthora is killing trees, proved the compound worked against the kind of disease affecting oaks.
The new product is good news for homeowners whose oak trees can add $30,000 to the value of their property.
But the battle continues on many other fronts.
The disease has been found in nursery plants in Sacramento and in Placer and Stanislaus counties; in King County, Washington; and in Medford and Portland, Ore. A nursery in Vancouver, B.C., was also found to have the disease. And, for the first time, the two mating types of the disease were recently found in Portland, leading to fears that the two could mate and create a new kind of killer immune to the phosphite treatment. The other mating type was previously found only in Europe.
And, even if the disease can be controlled in some places by the newly approved chemicals, it can still live for years and years in hosts like the bay tree and infect future generations of oak trees.
©2003 San Francisco Chronicle
Longtime Berkeley Bookstore Closes
TO ALL THE FRIENDS, COLLEAGUES AND PATRONS OF SHAMBHALA BOOKSELLERS:
It is with great sadness that I must inform you that I have decided to sell this business.
I have put this decision off as long as possible hoping that the economics of the book industry would stabilize and that of the community in general would improve. I have shared the grim realities of our situation with you in several previous "Open Letters". While many of our long-time friends have rallied to our support, market forces have proven stronger and the trend has continued to further weaken us.
For some months now we have been unable to pay our bills in a timely manner despite rigorous efforts to cut overhead, reducing both hours and staff. The past two years have seen a steady decline in business, a 20% drop in sales in 2002 (operating at a loss) and an additional 30 to 40% so far in 2003.
Things, as they say, can't go on this way.
There are many different factors that have contributed to this situation, but the principal two are the general economy and the current nature of the book industry. The downturn in the nation's economy has adversely affected small businesses all around the country, with perhaps a special focus on California and the SF Bay Area in particular.
Still, 35 years is a pretty good run for a little bookshop. I have always treasured and have striven to continue the legacy of Shambhala Booksellers. It has added untold benefit to my life to have worked here these past 24 years. It has been a privilege to have served and worked with you.
I urge those of you who have outstanding trade or credit slips to please come in and make use of them. I wish, as far as possible, to leave no debt outstanding.
Hopefully we will see, as the elders have told us, with every ending comes a new beginning.
Oak Ash & Thorn in San Jose - Nov. 15th
Ah yes, another season is passing...twenty dollar bills are beginning to turn bright colors...governors are falling from the trees...and the cool breeze of autumn bears the faint whiff of another batch of home brew gone terribly, terribly wrong.
Must be time for a South Bay show! Join us at the Fiddling Cricket Folk Club on November 15th for an evening of food, drink and song as The Espresso Garden & Café presents an evening of sonic debauchery with Oak Ash & Thorn.
Tickets are $14, the show starts at 8 p.m. and seating is limited, but the food is great and the beer is cold, so come down early for dinner and a good seat. Better yet, reserve a place by calling (408) 394-3353 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org For more information or directions, visit www.fiddlingcricket.com or our website at www.oakashthorn.com
We look forward to seeing you there!
Oak Ash & Thorn
3rd Annual Interfaith Pagan Pride Parade
and Celebration Returns
Sponsored by K.P.F.A. 94.1, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, and Berkeley Community Media (Ch.25)
SATURDAY MAY 15TH, 2004, 10am-5pm at CIVIC CENTER PARK IN BERKELEY, CA
New Location! New Celebration!
We are pleased to announce our third Annual Parade and Celebration, that will no doubt prove to be the best yet! This year, we have expanded the celebration to include vendors, crafts, and food (positioned nearby.) We are also exited to announce that we will be featuring an "Author's Circle," in which you can meet and converse with the Pagan community's leading published Authors!
Speaking of Authors, our Parade Marshal for this year will be none other than the wonderful Ms. Diana Paxson, author of NUMEROUS books, and Priestess of Hrafnar, an organization which practices the native religion of the Germanic peoples (Asatru) and Norse shamanic skills, such as oracular seidh. Find out more about Hrafnar and Diana Paxson Here: http://www.hrafnar.org/
And Don't Forget...
AWARDS FOR FLOATS AND COSTUMES! We are continuing to encourage the participation of floats and costumed participants this year, and will offer special awards for both BEST FLOAT and BEST COSTUME, so don't miss your chance to show us how creative you can be!...and if your serious about building a float, We have a new handbook entitled "Building a Parade Float: A guide for Amateurs" that we would be happy to send you. Just drop us a line at email@example.com Also, this years event will be covered by our newest sponsor, Berkeley Community Media (Ch.25,) so dress in your brightest and smile for T.V.!
Camera Shy? Bring a mask, or come down and cheer the community on...we would definitely love that!
What? You have not heard of this event? Then you are in for a treat! The Interfaith Pagan Pride Parade and Celebration started in March of 2001, as a community service to the "Interfaith" members of the pagan community, as well as friends and neighbors who support the unity that this celebration represents. The event is inclusive in that it brings together those members of the Pagan community (as described by the Interfaith Center at the Presidio,) who follow Earth-Based, Nature Centered, and or Polytheistic Beliefs. Among the many groups included in this description are Native American (North, Central, and South), Afro-diasporic, Neo-Pagan, Taoist, Shinto, Aboriginal, Hindu, traditional Shamanic, and African spiritual communities. These communities comprise roughly 1/4 of the World's Population, and we members of most of these communities to participate in the Event.
We are endorsed by the Interfaith Center at the Presidio, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual /Transgender Pride Parade, Reclaiming, the Berkeley A.C.L.U, and the Covenant of the Goddess; all internationally recognized organizations.
Please feel free to pass this invitation on to others, and bring your Family and Friends! Check out our latest Newsletter here: http://ppp.magiclamp.net/mn/Newsletter.asp
2004 Pagan Pride Day ... Modesto
We are happy to announce that the date and location have been set for the 2004 Modesto Pagan Pride Day Harvest Fest !
The 2004 Harvest Fest will be on Saturday September, 11th , 2004 at the American Legion Hall in Modesto, California. Admission to the event will be completely free with a canned food donation.
We plan on offering 20 to 30 craft vendors, covens, and non profit booths in addition to 4 to 5 authors and speakers. Bands, mythic dancers, entertainment and more will grace our entertainment stage on the deck. We will also be featuring an art show, discussion panels, and a 9/11 memorial.
We hope some of you will be able to make the drive to Modesto and take part in our large 9/11 Memorial this year. It'll probably be one of the largest Pagan memorials around. We are planning a second memorial ritual in respect to 9/11. We will also be having a large Memorial Banner that we hope to get 100s of Pagan signatures on before we send it to New York and Washington DC!
You can get much more information about the Modesto Pagan Pride Day at this URL: http://www.aupagans.com/Modesto/PPD.html
FOOD FOR THOSE IN NEED
AUP also features a year around food bank open to all of those in need of a little extra help. If you or someone you know would like to receive more information on the Association Of United Pagans Food Bank, please visit this URL: http://www.aupagans.com/Modesto/Services_FoodBank.html
Blessings and MoonLight,
DragonHawk & MoonRaven
Coordinators: 2004 MPPD
Modesto Pagan Pride Day
120 San Juan Drive
Modesto, CA 95354
Some of you may be familiar with Carmina Gadelica, a six-volume set of traditional Gaelic poetry -- hymns, chants, incantations, work songs, blessings, etc., collected by Alexander Carmichael between the mid-1800s and early 1900s. Carmichael himself lamented the fact that he was unable to transcribe the tunes and was only able to collect the poetry itself (although that, in itself, was a major feat of great importance).
Our Celtic group, Distant Oaks, has just released a new album entitled "Gach Là agus Oidhche: Music of Carmina Gadelica", which features thirteen songs from volumes I, II, and III of the collection (various types of poems which we set to original music in traditional styles), along with dance tunes (reels, jigs, slip jigs, strathspeys) and slow airs (both original and newly composed tunes).
The line-up and instrumentation is as follows:
Of particular interest to learners is the 20 page booklet, which includes all of the song lyrics in both Gaelic and English, along with historical and cultural notes concerning Carmina Gadelica, Alexander Carmichael, and the individual pieces on the recording (21 tracks of music in all).
If you're interested in reading more about it, listening to sound clips, seeing the beautiful hand-designed cover by Titus Woods, or obtaining a copy of the recording, please visit our new Web site: http://www.northernwindrecordings.com
If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Leis gach deagh dhùrachd,
Celtic & Early Music
Astronomical Samhain, when the Sun is half-way between the Fall Equinox and
Winter Solstice will occur this year on Friday, Nov 7 as 15 deg of Scorpius at
12:14:45 a.m. Pacific Standard Time or by an alternate calculation as 16 deg 18
min. decl. 09:29:09 a.m.
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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