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Newsletter of the Reformed Druids of North America

Vernal Equinox, 38 Y.R.

March 15th, 20001 c.e.


What is an Equinox?

Equinox, three months past the Winter Solstice, Yule, marks the astronomical arrival of Spring. This is when the Sun crosses the celestial equator following the ecliptic moving northward. The celestial equator is the projection of the Earth’s equator on the sky. It divides the sky into two equal hemispheres and is everywhere 90 degrees from the celestial poles. If you watched the Sun for the course of a year it would appear to circle the sky. This apparent path of the Sun is the ecliptic. Another way to define it is to say the ecliptic is the projection of the earth’s orbit onto the sky.

Days and nights are now of equal length, and at the North Pole the sun rises above the horizon after a six month absence. The Sun rises exactly due East and sets exactly due West. The noon day Sun is shining directly upon the equator.

It is a time of balance. As the days start to warm, the nights remain still cold. While there are new buds of green foliage on the Sweet Gum trees outside my window, the thorny balls from the previous year still hang from their branches, stripped of their seeds by the local wild birds. But it is a time not just of balance in Nature but in our own selves. It is a time to look within and to reevaluate our lives, looking at where we’ve been thispast year, and looking towards our own new growth with the coming of the new season. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that the East, the direction of the dawning Sun, also represents new beginnings.

Mad Sweeney News

Mountain stream, clear and limpid, wandering down towards the valley, whispering songs among the rushes—oh, that I were as the stream!

Mountain heather all in flower—longing fills me, at the sight, to stay upon the hills in the wind and the heather.

Small birds of the high mountain that soar up in the healthy wind, flitting from one peak to the other—oh, that I were as the bird!

Son of the mountain am I, far from home, making my song; but my heart is in the mountain, with the heather and the small birds.

Welsh; John Ceiriog Hughes; 1833-87.

Equinox at the Sunwheel

Visit the University of Massachusetts Sunwheel!

Members of the University community and general public are invited to join Prof. Judith Young of the U.Mass. Department of Astronomy to watch the Sun rise and set over the tall standing stones in the U.Mass. Sunwheel for the upcoming Vernal Equinox. Visitors for the sunrise viewing should arrive at 5:45 a.m., and visitors for the sunset viewing should arrive at 5:15 p.m. The sunrise and sunset events will be held on both Tuesday and Wednesday March 20 and 21, 2001.

This is the first equinox to occur since the tall standing stones were added to the Sunwheel; on the equinoxes, the Sun will be seen to rise and set through the East and West stone portals. The sky will be particularly beautiful in the morning, since the waning crescent Moon will be visible in the East just before sunrise. For those interested in learning about the sky, there will be a presentation which will include the cause of the seasons, the Sun's path in the sky, the phases of the Moon, and the story of building the Sunwheel. Bring your questions, your curiosity, and DRESS VERY WARMLY; a $3 donation is requested. Sunwheel T-shirts & sweatshirts will be available for purchase.

The U.Mass. Sunwheel is located south of Alumni Stadium, just off Rocky Hill Road. It can be easily reached from the center of Amherst, following Amity St. to the west, on the right hand side of the road about 1/4 mile after crossing University Drive. ALL VISITORS SHOULD WEAR WARM CLOTHING, SUITABLE FOR STANDING STILL ON FROZEN OR WET GROUND. In the event of rain, the events will be cancelled. For more information on the U.Mass. Sunwheel, check out the web site at and see photos of the recent construction. To arrange a Sunwheel visit for your class or group, call 413-545-4311 or e-mail


Potential Cure for Oak Killer

From the San Francisco Chronicle, March 9, 2001 Peter Fimrite, Chronicle Staff Writer

Scientists battling the killer disease threatening California's oaks have discovered a potential cure, the first big break in their efforts to curb the fast-spreading plague.

While the discovery may not help wildland areas, it could be the savior for thousands of landmark oak trees in parks and on private property.

Experiments on 90 potted live oak trees in Sonoma County since last August determined that the compound phosphonate all but eliminated the deadly lesions that characterize sudden oak death.

"I am totally excited," Matteo Garbelotto, a forest pathologist at the University of California at Berkeley, told The Chronicle yesterday. "This is an incredibly lethal disease, and we really don't have anything we can do to stop it once it gets into a tree. This gives us something we can use."

Garbelotto, who has been working day and night for months in the lab, mostly with discouraging results, will be addressing a conference in San Rafael today on the issue.

Sudden oak death has killed tens of thousands of coast live oak, black oak, and tan oak trees along a 190-mile range of coastline between Monterey and Sonoma counties. And it has been spreading at a feverish rate.

Plant biologists recently found the disease in Shreve's oak trees in Santa Cruz County, wild huckleberry bushes in Marin County and commercial rhododendron plants at nurseries in Germany, the Netherlands, and Santa Cruz County.

The phytophthora that causes the disease is the same type of organism responsible for the Irish potato famine in the mid-1800s and the current die-off of Port Orford cedars in the Pacific Northwest.

The pathogen is commonly referred to as a fungus, but, in terms of its evolutionary heritage, is more closely related to brown algae.

This particular strain has proved to be both mysterious and highly adaptable. It has been found in rainwater and in soil, on the leaves and on the stems of trees and plants.

During the experiment, potted trees were infected with the phytophthora in August and in November. Within 48 hours of the second application, all the trees--the newly infected and the ones with 3-month-old lesions—were treated with one of four compounds, copper sulfate, al-fosetyl, metalaxyl and phosphonate.

Garbelotto said some trees received stem injections and some soil drenches, and others were treated topically.

Injection was the most effective form of treatment, and phosphonate was clearly the best compound, reducing fungal growth in the new and old infections three- to fourfold, according to Garbelotto. The size of the lesions were reduced to virtually nothing.

He said al-fosetyl and metalaxyl were both somewhat effective in killing the pathogen, but there is concern that phytophthora can develop resistance to those compounds based on previous experiments on potatoes. Copper sulfate didn't work on the disease but may prevent the pathogen from entering the tree when it is used as a coating.

Garbelotto emphasized that the data were still preliminary and that a lot of work remained to be done before a specific product could be recommended. There are currently many different product lines selling phosphonate, mostly as a fertilizer.

"We should think of this as kind of an exploratory phase," he said. “We need to refine the treatment and work out methods of administering the chemicals, whether it's through injections, sprays or through soil drenching. We also need to do more tests at different times of the year.”

No matter how effective the chemicals are, they still won't be able to stop the pestilence from spreading.

“It's fantastic news, but it is not going to solve the problem because you're not going to do aerial spraying over seven counties of open space and national forest,” said Marin County Supervisor Cynthia Murray, who has been lobbying hard for emergency funding. “There's just no way to do a massive application.”

Even if a spray were developed, one need only look at the efforts to contain the glassy-winged sharpshooter to see how difficult a statewide campaign could become.

Proposals to spray pesticides on the voracious pest, which has spread the incurable Pierce's disease in 13 counties while feeding on grape vines, has created a furor in Sonoma County. Environmental activists, citing threats to public health, have vowed civil disobedience if anyone tries spraying the vines.

The most anyone can hope for with regard to sudden oak death is that beloved trees like the majestic, and sick, 400-year-old oak at Boyle Park in Mill Valley may now be saved from the wood chipper.

Meanwhile, hikers and bikers are being asked to clean their boots and tires of mud to prevent the disease from spreading. Bills asking for $10 million to fight the disease are scheduled for hearings in the state Senate and Assembly. And a quarantine preventing the movement of oak wood and infected plants across state lines is under consideration by the state and by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Leave No Trace

As Druids and lovers of Nature we tend to spend a lot of time outdoors, be it holding services, hiking, or overnight camping. With the coming of Spring and warmer weather and our thoughts turn towards those outings in the woods it is important that we keep in mind the philosophy of Leave no Trace.

Leave No Trace is a program of outdoor ethics managed by the non-profit organization LNT Inc. dedicated to building awareness, appreciation, and most of all, respect for our natural lands. Following these simple principles of Leave No Trace we are able to enjoy our activities outdoors while still preserving our environment:

Plan ahead and prepare
1. Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
2. Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
3. Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
4. Visit in small groups. Split larger parties into groups of 4-6 people.
5. Repackage food to minimize waste.
6. Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.

Travel and camp on durable surfaces
1. Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
2. Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
3. Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary. In popular areas
4. Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
5. Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
6. Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent. Avoid pristine areas.
7. Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
8. Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.

Dispose of Waste Properly
1. Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter.
2. Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
3. Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
4. To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

Leave What You Find
1. Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
2. Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
3. Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
4. Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

Minimize Campfire Impacts
1. Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
2. Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
3. Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
4. Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

Respect Wildlife
1. Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
2. Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
3. Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
4. Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
5. Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors
1. Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
2. Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
3. Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
4. Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
5. Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.


News of the Groves


Druid Heart Spirit Grove, Chico, CA

Everything has been going well. Sister Rhiannon has been writing new tunes, making new things, and sewing robes she’s embroidering Celtic Knots on. There is a lot of snow up there what can ya do? Sister Rhiannon is also writing a book on Druidic Ritual with Cymric and Irish deity guides, pronunciation guides, healing meditations, song lists, and more. Reformed Druidic Wicca, Missionary Order of the Celtic Cross Thomas Harris of Reformed Druidic Wicca hopes to be going to Washington D.C. this summer to meet with Mike Scharding of Monument Grove to re-establish the line of Archdruidic Succession from the RDNA to RDW. They have a new name that they operate under, the Missionary Order of the Celtic Cross (MOCC), but technically it is a fellowship in the “grouping” of RDW. They have groups spread out all over everywhere with Muskogee, OK, Seattle, WA and Argyle, NY being the three most active. Currently all Groves of the MOCC are independent and proudly autonomous, but there is talk of getting 501 (c) (3) status. For more information contact


Baccharis Grove

Baccharis Grove has been quite busy these last couple of weeks of winter. For Oimelc we revived the Scottish tradition of the Bride-og, a doll representing Bride made out of corn (grain) from the previous harvest. We took a cob of Indian corn and wheat sheaves left from the memorial we held for Emmon last November and fashioned a doll with a linen dress and kerchief, adding dried millet stalks for the arms and legs, and native grasses from the area surrounding the Grove site to form her basket. At the Praise portion of the service the Preceptor read from the Carmina Gadelica and the Grove bid “Let Bride come in!” It looks like our offering of the Bride-og was accepted. The millet has been eaten by the birds and the wheat is beginning to sprout.

After our Grove Pine, Ghiuthais, fell over last year and had to be cut down, we decided to replace it with a native Pine tree. Our research took us to the Digger or Gray Pine (Pinus sabiniana), which is native to the East Bay, particularly the Orinda Hills and Mount Diablo area. We were able to locate one at North Coast Nurseries in Petaluma which specializes in California natives and reforestation. Our Preceptor recounts her tale of trying to dig up the old Ghiuthais:

I went up to the Grove to try and remove the old Pine, try being the operative word. I tried to saw the trunk at the post root portion, but after I got past the bark and into the meat of the tree I couldn't saw anymore because the wood was damp. So I thought to myself, I'll dig all around the stump, loosening it from its earthly binds. I cut through several roots with the aforementioned saw, and continue to dig. Ok this is working. I then moved around to the base of the tree. Broke the damn shovel. So it was old and partially rotted, still, I am disgusted. I took up everything and went back down the hill to the cabin, put on some music, and laid down. Bought a new shovel on the way home. Where's that 20 mule team when you need them?

The Grove has organized a work party in two weeks to take up the shovel again. Volunteers are welcome.


News from the Tonga Grove’s AD,

by Irony Sade (Carleton AD 97-00)

Dear Druids,

I read all the books you sent me. Thank you deeply. Machiavelli was fascinating, deserving of further study. The one truly disturbing thought it produced was this: will any system of thought that does not make the acquisition of power one of its objectives eventually become a tool for one that does? If so, what are we to do about it? As my mother kindly pointed out on e must distinguish between force and power, but still I suspect the quandary remains. The Buddhist answer -- I suspect-- would be to distinguish between inner and outer power. Have enough power in yourself and noone can wield power over you (or have no self...) When I think of Reformed Druidism as a "system" of thought, it seems that its goal - if it has one- is understanding. (I also suspect it is also too small and esoteric a way for any external powermonger to notice!) The old Druids though, were very powerful, and very hard to manipulate - which is why Rome had them killed. Bears thinking about....

Fate seems to enjoy messing with my mind. Each time I get something all planned out the wyrds weave some new thread past mine that sets me all adrift again. I don not know if I will aim for Japan. The need to do useful work I can believe in is nagging at me and I am struck with Socrates’ truth that the philosopher needs to be a citizen of the world. The U.N.’s calling me. The creation of a cooperative peaceful, culturally divers and environmentally sound planet is something I could work for whole heartedly. I know not by what means I would do this, nor how , now where, but it tempts me to try. My worry is the assertion that the world’s ills are not susceptible to political solutions, but spiritual ones.... There seems to be some truth in that. The Bahai’s (worth intensive study - they are practically Druids already!) maintain that the purpose of religion is peaceable union and understanding, a cross cultural binding force - and insist further that it is better to be without religion than to support one that serves division. Them too I must learn more about....

Incidentally do your realize that any charismatic religious leader to rise on a large scale in the next several decades will be immediately branded the Antichrist? What a subtle and nasty trap. One could almost believe they did that on purpose.

Yours truly, Irony

News from the Monument Grove

by Michael Scharding (Carl AD 93-94)

Dear Irony,

DC grove ain’t doing well. But spring is coming soon, along with the Japanese Cherry Blossom festival which I’m helping to organize with another member of the grove. Spring is kind of, well almost, wait a minute,… nope, almost, here, I think…..

Now, most religions claim that they intend to achieve world-wide love and understanding and wisdom; but many people don't want to do this. I think that social engineering is more interesting (external) than personal growth (internal) to those people. It's that old "It is easy to see a mote in someone's eye than a beam in your own." or "Your neighbour's smoke from the window is more noticeable than the blazing fire on your roof."

I like to think that noone else was searching as hard as me, but they probably just weren't noisy about it like me (Pray to God in a closet, not on a street corner), or more likely (since I wasn't well like by many), they avoided me.

As for Anti-christs: Yes, I expected this. Believe it not, Pat Robertson and Rev. Moon teamed up in the Bush election campaign, although Pat believes Moon is the anti-christ himself!! Considering the split in America, perhaps we'll get a 1/2 Christ, who is good most of the time, and like us the rest of the time. (BTW: Holy-land just opened in Orlando, to give the experience of being with Jesus and learning how wrong the Jews were.... excuse me? That got a great reply in the Washington Post article.)

As for "Druid" vs "druid". Beats me, I always capitalize it for Druidism as a religion, like I capitalize Catholicism, the religion (but not catholicism, a system of universal belief). However, we don't capitalize "priest" for a Catholic cleric, so perhaps we shouldn't, but if I say he is a Catholic, I would. Druid is used for too much purposes. We wouldn't capitalize firefighter, ovate, bard, prostitute or filidh because they are jobs, right? My answer once again is, I don't know. Popular usage is to capitalize it, probably because it makes the Wiccans & Neo-Pagans (eh?, there I do it myself..) feel more important with capital letters, just like they do with IRS 401(c) tax exemption makes them a "real" religion. Stick to one system and be consistent. Don't let your German (or 17th century English) confuse your modern spelling rules.

ADF looks like RDNA, of course, they're eclectic outdoor worshippers (just in a narrower band), drink like fishes, love the sigil, have the waters of life (which Carleton doesn't use much anymore), are kooky and crazy as us in their personal lives. The difference is that they have business meetings, keep minutes, pay dues, submit taxes, have a 30 page collection of by-laws, can excommunicate, rescind priests, publish newsletters, have a hierarchy linked to a study program, and want to impress other Neo-Pagans. In a word, they're almost well-organized, much of the time.

Yours truly, Mike


STRANGE REQUEST of the Season:

From: "Guy A. DeVicaris"
To: Save Address
Subj:Can you use real magic like fire from your hands?

Mike’s response: Um, haven’t tried that yet. Sounds a little dangerous, though. Maybe I should practice outdoors with safety goggles?


Siol Cultural Enterprises, a distributor/wholesaler of Gaelic language and Celtic interest books, music, and videos has their new website up and running at Their email address is also changing to (or They have also been given approval to start taking payment using VISA. Just in time for their sale items: All Gàirm books (Dwelly's, Thomson's, Modern English-Gaelic Dictionary, Am Mabinogi, A' Choisir Chiuil, etc..), as well as Bun-Chursa Ghàidhlig, are 15% off when ordered before Mar. 31, 2001! Please note that delivery probably will not occur until late April unless already in stock. E-mail them to reserve a title or for full a list of titles.

SEl Cultural Enterprises 3841 Highway 316, P.O. Box 81, St. Andrew's, NS, CANADA B0H 1X0. Phone/Fax: (902) 863-0416.


Spring Equinox, when the Sun crosses the Equator, will occur on March 20, 2001 at 5:31 a.m. PST. Spring Equinox services will be held on Sunday, March 18 at Solar Noon. Please call for carpool arrangements (510) 654-6896. For the social observance of Spring Equinox we will be going immediately after the service to AD’s house. Regular Druid services will be held at Solar Noon on March 25, April 8, and April 22 (Earth Day). 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