A Newsletter of the Reformed Druids of North America
Summer Solstice Y.R. 41
(June 17th, 2003)
Volume 19, Number 4
|CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE:
Summer Solstice Essay
idsummer, Solstice, Greine-Stad, Sun-stop, today the Sun reaches its most northerly declination, at 2:44 A.M. Pacific Standard Time. This is the festival of the Goddess Danu, mother of the gods and men. Bonfires are lit on hilltops and the night is danced away. Tossing grain or coins into the air this day is said to help one's prosperity. This is the morning that the Sun would rise over the heel stone at Stone Henge, but for the fact that the Earth has processed far enough on its axis since 1500 B.C. to move the sunrise point out of line with the ancient markers. In the 18th and 19th centuries, English Druid groups held ceremonies there. But now the Henge is fenced off and protected, and accessible only with permission of the government. The huge numbers of tourists were eroding the soil around the monoliths and there was concern that the monument would be damaged. The smaller, less well-known stone circles, such as Callenish or the Maidens are still accessible to the public, as is Avesbury.
The Druids did NOT build Stone Henge. It antedates their arrival in Britain by many centuries. It was William Stuckeley, in 1717, who mis-located them there. He did some of the best antiquarian field work of his day, but his later theorizing wildly outstripped his data. The mistake was an honest one, however, considering what was known in his day. He showed that the stones were not a memorial to King Arthur, nor a Roman temple, as had been previously supposed. He was the first to accept them as definitely pre-Roman. The only knowledge of pre-Roman Britain he had came from the Roman and Greek writers of the Classical period. They said that Britain was inhabited by Celts, whose priests were the Druids. So, if the stones were pre-Roman, Stuckeley reasoned, they must have been assembled by the Druids. He knew of no other candidates. We now feel that Stone Henge and the numerous other stone circles were set up by at least three different, pre-Celtic races, best described, I think, by Clannad's phrase, "the race no one knows." Clannad is an Irish music group who have produced several records, of which their latest, "Magical Ring" is, in our opinion, their best. (We highly recommend it.)
In many English, Irish and Welsh villages, bonfires are lit in the squares, or in Scotland, it is the day for a community picnic on the moors. Then, on mid-summer's night, the shortest night in the year, which will be the twenty third, (long, boring, astronomical explanation here omitted) single women would put a bouquet of Mugwort or St. John's Wort under their pillow, to bring dreams of their future husbands. If you try this, let us know what happens. We need this research.
By Emmon Bodfish, reprinted from A Druid Missal-Any Summer Solstice, 1985.
News of the Groves
For the Full Grove Directory
Carleton Grove: News from Minnesota
Well, of course the big news was the May Reunion. There is an article below with some more of the details, but let's just say it was quite a busy weekend, full of big events and small private moments. Nostalgia and lots of walking for everyone.
Corwin Troost '05 and Stephen Crimmin '04 were officially inducted ArchDruids of Carleton for the upcoming year by the departing Merri Weber (after a record four peaceful years as AD at Carleton), who is off to pursue Graduate studies in Ann Arbor MI. The two ADs will be spending the summer at Carleton, attending the 40th Anniversary June Reunion (see Below) and working in the Archives (hopefully doing some proxy work for Mike on the side).
There is a need to boost recruitment numbers next fall, so let's all wish
Akita Grove: News from Japan
No news from Akita, except that little Taiyo is doing fine and Pat is doing
some part-time trucking to cover the costs of the expanded family.
Acorn Proto-Grove, Newmarket Ontario, Canada
The 40 year sigil shirts and mugs will be available at our Proto-grove store site until the end of June if anyone is interested: http://www.cafeshops.com/madebydruids. Proceeds go to support our tree plantings.
Bamboo Grove: News from Delaware
The Bamboo Grove has grown! We now have 4 mice, 3 snakes, 2 guinea pigs, and 1 cat. The Arch-Druid (bamboo) is flourishing, reaching out with beautiful, delicate green leaves. I am pleased to announce that the Scribe/Caretaker of the Grove (namely myself) and my significant other have just graduated from college! The Grove is moving to another location, still within DE, as both my significant other and myself have full-time jobs closer to PA. Life is good!
The Hidden Wood Proto-Grove: News from Pennsylvania
We are planning a few nature hikes to show some of the younger members how to appreciate the Mother. That is if it ever stops raining here.
Hemlock Splinters Grove:News from New York
Beltain was a great success at Hemlock Splinters Grove, despite or because of the week's worth of weather working it took to drive off the predicted downpour. Instead the sky was beautifully clear-which dropped the temperature into the thirties and made the bonfire a welcome gathering site. The maypole was almost thirty feet tall, due to a slight miscalculation. The poor dancers were reeling by the time they finished.
The berm pond is now entering its second spring and the diversity of wildlife
has exploded. Muskrats, at least two species of water snakes, a new
(unidentified) turtle, several ducks, a wood thrush and mocking bird have joined
the community. We are hoping to create some small canoe trails into the
inaccessible reaches of the marsh, but may have missed our window this year as
nesting season has long since started.
Digitalis Grove: News from DC
Mike is in the last throes of publishing ARDA 2 (see below) and completing the second June Reunion preparations (see below).
Fortunately for his schedule, the Grove has shrunk again. Eric has gone to Boston, leaving the known human component of the grove as just Mike. There are rumors that Paul from FL and Mirage from DE and a few others may be relocating here over the summer, so a zestful grove may re-develop quite soon.
Mike graduated from the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University in DC on May 18th. The weather forecast was quite certain about a 50F rainy event for the ceremony on the Ellipse between the Washington Monument and the White House. Mike took things into his hand and tapped on the Washington Monument and asked George to intercede on behalf of his university with the skygods (the monument is the tallest building in DC). Sure enough, the rain soon stopped, and a muddy ceremony was enjoyed by all. Afterwards, per tradition, Mike thanked the monument and threw his hat up against the side of the obelisk, reaching the 11th stone, which he counted as good luck.
They say that when you learn another language, you acquire another soul. I
truly believe there is something to this, since you acquire another window and
set of tools to express your mind. So far, I've studied English, French, Scots
Gaelic, German, Japanese, and American Sign Language. As you know, I'm trying to
enter the foreign service or pursue a career in North-East Asian affairs. Well,
I'm trying another, Korean at the neighbouring Korean Embassy starting June 9th.
So perhaps a Korean translation of the Order of Worship may be in the works by
the end of the year of instruction?
Eurisko Grove, News from Virginia
Eurisko Grove (RDNA Protogrove) regrets to announce the dissolution of our
grove. We will be conducting a dismissal ritual on June 21.
Oaken Circle Grove: News from KY
The Oaken Circle has now disbanded. We wish the best to all out there .
former founder of Oaken Circle
Cattle Proto-Grove, News from Texas
I don't know how many of you are new and how many of you even remember me...but I was the one shipped off to a military school and after much trouble ended up finding peace with nature there anyways. I am free at last, graduated from high school, finally. I am happy to announce the reopening of the Cattle Protogrove in Dallas, Tx now that I have graduated. I am working on getting the website back up and will keep you posted till I do. Anyways, just wanted to let you all know I am free finally and wanted to let those who live in and around Dallas to go ahead and give me a holler at my email firstname.lastname@example.org perhaps we could arrange something.
Walk in peace,
Cylch Cerddwyr Rhwng Y Bydoedd Grove, News from Oregon
Thou art God/dess:
The Imbolq session of Druidcraft 101 ended about a week ago. Of the 100 who started the class, 23 finished and of those 15 joined the Reform and all 15 of those have completed the requirements for 2nd Order. This is the first time in the seven years, or 21 sessions of D101 that we've had such a large finish! Generally we get maybe 5-7 new members. This was a remarkable session.
The next online Druidcraft 101 class begins June 22 and will last about 16 weeks. To date there are already 92 students enrolled, but we have lot's of room. To enroll, send a blank email to email@example.com or enroll online at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/druidcraft101. For more details, visit http://www.mithrilstar.org/d101.htm
The next Druidcraft 202 course (A Walk Through the ARDA) will begin June 22. This will be a revised class that will encompass the NEW improved ARDA and will take approximately 40 weeks! (Not for the feeble!). Once again, Norm Nelson and Michael Scharding will be joining us to share their unique perspectives. To enroll, send a blank email to to firstname.lastname@example.org or enroll online at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/druidcraft202. For more details, visit http://www.mithrilstar.org/d202.htm
Two new protogroves are forming. One in Talent Oregon, and the other near Atlanta Georgia. Both protogroves plan to present a "LIVE" version of Druidcraft 101, and of Druidcraft 202.
Sister Ceridwen is deeply involved in her beginning and intermediate Astrology classes. For info on upcoming classes (held online)—or to get a chart and private consultation—go to http://www.mithrilstar.org/huntersmoon
Plans for Imladris—Our Druid Monastery and Pagan Conference/retreat center have progressed to a new level. The business plan is being revised and it has been decided that we will relocate to the Arcata CA area, and try to purchase 40-60 acres adjacent to Redwood National Park. This will happen probably within the next 18 months. See http://www.mithrilstar.org/imladris for more information. Once established, we intend to invite the entire RDNA out for a convention!
May you never thirst,
Ellis "Sybok" Arseneau, AD
Cylch Cerddwyr Rhwng Y Bydoedd Grove, OMS-RDNA
Nemeton Awenyddion: News from Cohasset, CA
Well, summer came after winter this year with hardly any spring at all. It rained straight for weeks, then the sun came out to a high 97 degrees right away. Now were planning to try to make up for the Beltain campout that didn't work because of the wet weather, and have the campout at midsummer Alban Hefin on June 21st. The campout will be open to all who accept our Laws of Harmony.
We are planning a possible rebirth ritual for a new initiate during the campout, if she can make it out.
Nemeton Awenyddion, although affiliated with RDNA, is now independent and separate of the American Gwyddon order and no longer associated with their ways. We will continue to teach, work, and learn as we always have, in the gentle ways of peace.
Duir De Danu Grove, News from California
Duir De Danu, the South Bay NRDNA Grove continues to hold Celtic Night on the second Saturday evening of each month. The projected meetings for the next two months are: June 14th and July 12th. The current topic for activities/discussion is The Ogham. We have been making Ogham Fews from popsicle sticks (did we get full of popsicles!), and the next step will be the making of reading cloths and bags to hold the fews. Notify Tegwedd at email@example.com or the MaDagda at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to attend. If we haven't met you in person, we'd like to before the meeting.
Chronicler & Co-ArchDruid of Duir De Danu Grove, NRDNA
Poison Oak Grove, News from California
Publisher of "A Druid Missal-Any"
Apologies from your editor for the lateness of the Midsummer Missal-Any. There is a saying that I can't remember in Latin, but it translates to something like "In life there is death, in death there is life." (If any of the readers know what this phrase is, please send it in to the Missal-Any at poppinjay@ earthlink.net or the address at the end of the newsletter).
The beginning of the Season of Life started for several members of Poison Oak Grove at the Mecca of Reform Druidism, Carleton College. We had the supreme pleasure of meeting founders Norm Nelson and David Frangquist (names we had only read about in the Chronicles!) and those who came thereafter: Dick Shelton, Katya, Mike Scharding, MerriBeth Weber, Stephen Crimmins, Corwin Troost, as well as former Berkeley and Live Oak Grove AD Joan Carruth. After a disappointing Friday night that was supposed to consist of camaraderie and music (the Carleton students took off leaving the old timers and visitors to do all the preparation for the Beltaine potluck), the Beltaine service on Saturday more than made up for it. We started at Monument Hill where we processed up to the monument and each drew a sigil upon it. We continued to the Hill of the Three Oaks and each traced the sigil carved in the boulder, then on to the Stone Circle where Norm lead the service, the consummate AD.
After your editor returned from the pilgrimage to Carleton she received word
that her mother was failing and needed hospice care. A week and a half later she
passed on to Tir nan Og. I was at least able to spend the last week with her by
her bedside so she did not have to begin her journey alone. Brother Larry is now
in a similar position and we wish his mother a peaceful passing as well.
Lark Proto-Grove, Tampa, FL
Lark Proto-Grove, Tampa, FL After a bit of thought, a visit to some of your RDNA info pages, and some discussion with friends and acquaintances, I have decided to respond to your prodding and announce the formation of a plain vanilla RDNA grove. I have found four other people who have expressed interest in belonging (who doesn't want to "belong" after all?). For the natural, outdoorsy sound of it and for the definitions listed below (clipped from Merriam-Webster), I'd like to have our little corner of Druidry known as the Lark Grove. We are located in and around Tampa, Florida. You can list me, Esther Searfoss, at my recently-created-specifically-for-this-purpose email address as the contact: email@example.com.
Main Entry: lark
Date: circa 1811
: something done solely for fun or adventure
Main Entry: lark
Function: intransitive verb
Etymology: probably alteration of lake to frolic
: to engage in harmless fun or mischief--often used with about - lark·er noun
As to what we stand for (I wrote these down though I'm not sure the other members have ever articulated these sentiments but I'm 99% sure they share them):
40th Anniversary RDNA Reunion News
Extensive Info, Maps and Travel Details:
If you could not make it in May, you could always choose to attend the Annual 2003 Carleton Alumni Reunion, which is on the Midsummer, conveniently enough. I suspect the June meeting will be potentially even larger in attendance than the May meeting which had over 30 people. I couldn't decide which I wanted to participate in, so I chose to attend both (since other research commitments bring me to Northfield then, including the release of my third full-length movie). The schedule will firm up by May 17th, but some events will happen on all 4 days. Attend those that look interesting to you.
No reservations are needed (unless you're staying in the supercheap dormitory facilities with cheap meals, so sign up with Alumni Affairs properly, and checkmark the "Druid Reunion" on the application form) so just show up and jump in. In general most Druid meals will be with the general alumni body, but at the Druid picnic on Saturday, everybody should BYOB, BYOF and BYOMI (musical instruments) so we can have a fun potluck, no matter how few (or many) arrive. Please somebody bring musical instruments and songs to share! Until you arrive, you won't know who's there, including yourself. Dress cooly (Avg. temp is 92F in day and 80F at night) in clothes that you don't mind getting dirty, and be prepared for mosquitos. Sensible footwear recommended. The Solstice (Mid-Summer) activities are still loosely scheduled, and will be quite simple, and alternative activities & sites will occur in case of rain. Friends & family are welcome.
Our events will be listed in the standard schedule of Alumni activities (we may also attend related groups' activities like arb-walks and folk-dancing). A full list of events will be on a schedule when you show up. Ask for "THe Druid Reunion Schedule." The difference for June will be: no current students, more Alumni events, more mosquitoes!, 95F weather, & cheap on-campus housing. Non-Alumni should carefully arrange lodging, & contact me if you are at all puzzled. If you're really strapped for funds, I do have FREE space in an extra reserved room in 1st Floor of Goodhue with 2 beds and room for 3 people on the floor. First called, first reserved. ;)
Note, official Druid events & strongly encouraged events by other groups are Boldfaced and those events by other groups which we casually recommend, are in standard font. See the Alumni site, for the full schedule at www.carleton.edu/alumni Many non-Druid events haven't decided on a location yet, but will be listed on the Druid handout sheet and on official reunion schedules. Don't feel obliged to show up at everything, there are just too many events, but please pick a few that are interesting. You should drink plenty of fluids and rest often.
Thursday, June 19th:
Friday, June 20th:
Fire preparation, lodge building & sanctification of site will actually begin at 8:30pm and sweats will begin around 10:30pm or so. You're welcome to help the setup. If you arrive after a sweat has already started, just sit by the fire quietly until the men and women inside the lodge finish, and then you can join when the next one begins after a short rest. About 5-7 people can fit into the lodge at one time, and the moderate sauna-like conditions last 20-25 minutes. If you have led one before, and would like to learn how, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange details or to ask questions. Location: Druid's Den not too far from Hill of Three Oaks.
Saturday, June 21st
NOTE If the final editting of "Drake's 7" is not sufficiently completed in time, then we'll show our 2 hour 1995 movie "Gatorr: The Rabbit Warrior" which is a humorous & bizarre barbarian spoof of a young lad seeking his lost sister, fighting a band of rogues, and finding spiritual enlightenment from the Lepus Monastary in Uzbekistan. This was also filmed entirely on campus with a mostly Druidic crew and cast. Location:Boliou Art Hall's small movie theatre.
Sunday, June 22nd
ARDA 2 Update
By Mike, Digitalis Grove of DC
At long last, the 2003 2nd Edition of the 1996 A Reformed Druid Anthology will be available after the solstice for free viewing on-line http://www.student.carleton.edu/orgs/Druids/ARDA/ . (Only the Main Volume and Green Book Volume, are done so far.) Keep checking the site every few days thereafter, until it is posted there. The 1st Edition of ARDA will still be available on-line at the same site.
The 50 physically printed sets of the Main Volume and Green Book Volume should be mailed out this month, with the Magazine Volume coming out in August. Numerous logistical delays, a birth, graduation and Reunion planning delayed our team from the Mid-May goal. We hope you can be patient for a few more weeks.
The Main Volume may be available for a commercial on-line print-on-demand service sometime in the late fall of 2003 through http://www.amazon.com, so if you were too late to order the 1st Printing, and still want to print out your own copy, I'd recommend waiting until then and have it neatly bound and mailed to you at very little cost. Otherwise get a 4 inch thick D-ring binder and a few reams of paper, and some coffee; because it’s a long print-job. Don't let your boss catch you doing it at work!
It's hard to believe that a group so intent on first-hand observation of Nature, should spend so much time writing about it. We hope that you are pleased with the 1500 pages (2657 documents in all) in the three hefty volumes (eight pounds & 6 oz.) of this barely portable Archival collection. If what you want is not in there, go out and find it in our greatest library, i.e. Nature herself. As always, the opinions therein expressed are solely those of the authors at the time of writing them, and if we have made any errors, omissions or listed the wrong authors, please send those corrections to me at email@example.com
It makes an excellent door prop and bookshelf filler, but for those interested in actually studying this mammoth collection, Sybok of the OMS is offering to moderate an online conference to review the 20 Step self-study program, found in Part Zero of ARDA 2. This Druidism 202 class will take you through most of the collection in a systematic chronological order; reading related materials form the various sections scattered throughout the 3 volumes; and will likely linger from Summer Solstice to Winter Solstice, progressing in a leisurely manner. Other members will post questions, share thoughts, take a quiz, and quibble over related issues in this new conference. Norman Nelson '65 and myself Mike Scharding '93 will also be there to offer some historical notes and awful puns. The sign-up website is at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/druidcraft202/ or send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
With that said, I will take a break or two from archiving and then begin
collecting materials for the 2008 ARDA 3, which will hopefully take less time to
The Forty-Year Long Protest March
By Norman Nelson, Founder
Imagine yourself and a couple friends organizing a protest march to correct what seems to be an injustice. A year later, the injustice is irrevocably ended. Forty years later, the march continues! What happened?
Since I find myself in exactly that situation, I was asked, "What do you think about the continuation of Druidism?" [These comments are mine only, but from conversations with some of the other founders, I believe they represent a consensus of opinion.]
First, some forty-year-old history:
Back in the long-ago days of the early 1960s, several students at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, decided that the college's religious attendance requirement was actually doing a disservice to religion by forcing people to attend. (A graduation requirement, it said that, seven weeks out of each ten week term, students must attend a religious service of some sort.) Most of us were religious, and we felt that forced religion turns people away from faith, rather than attracting them.
Most students at Carleton attended the weekly Congregational services at the college chapel, conducted by the chaplain. Some attended the downtown churches of their own denomination, and then filled out "chapel slips" to be handed in to the deans for credit. For those who belonged to churches or religions not represented in town (such as Jews), there were official campus organizations which gave them credit for attending their meetings. The situation had actually become so ridiculous that even the atheists had a campus group which met for chapel credit!
To organize a protest against the requirement, we decided to start our own "religion" and apply for chapel credit. If we got it, we would show how ridiculous the requirement was; if we didn't, we would protest and accuse the administration of hypocrisy, since we were attending religious services.
In the early spring of 1963, the Reformed Druids of North America was formed; we even drew up a constitution for ourselves as a campus organization. The official date of the founding was Beltane, 1963.
We were very careful to structure our "religion" so that it didn’t require giving up any other faith; we didn't want to antagonize any one. (I've always called Druidism supplementary, not designed to supplant any other belief.)
After six or seven weeks of Saturday afternoon services, at the end of the school year in mid-June, several men and two or three women submitted chapel slips for the last Druid service of the school year. We were careful also to go for our "regular" chapel credit, just in case. (The Druids met on Saturday so as not to conflict with any Sunday services people wanted to attend.)
The slips for the women were accepted by the Dean of Women's office, while the Dean of Men's office rejected credit for the men.
After the rejection, one of the founders went to the Dean of Men's office and asked why we had been turned down. He took along a list of "strange" religious groups from the Minneapolis phone book, and asked "Would this be acceptable? Would this? Would this?" Finally, with all his other reasons exhausted, the Dean said that we couldn’t receive the credit because we weren't "an officially recognized campus organization;" we didn't have a faculty advisor.
The next fall, the speaker at one of the first (also mandatory) weekly all-student convocations was a new professor, who spoke about his anthropological work in the Aran Isles, where Druid practices still continued under a thin veneer of Roman Catholicism. Before he left the room that night, RDNA had a faculty advisor! We knew we had outfoxed the Dean!
That fall, we received chapel credit for our services, and again when we started at Beltane for the spring. We felt that we had definitely won our protest.
It gets even better: the day I graduated in 1964, the college Board of Trustees met and abolished the religious attendance requirement. I learned recently that one of those who most favored the repeal was the Episcopal bishop of Minnesota, who also argued as we had that the requirement was a disservice to religion. I’ve also heard that the college chaplain supported it, and that subsequently, enrollment in religion classes increased dramatically.
So, in June of 1964, there was suddenly no more need for protest, and therefore no more need for the Druids. Our victory was total, and most of the founders fully expected our organization to disappear very quickly.
However, for some participants, RDNA had begun to take on a meaning of its own. (We joked that, for the students who couldn't stomach organized religion, our disorganized one was perfect!) In reality, through their meditations and study of their role in nature, they had begun to find a personal, meaningful realization we had never intended to impart. RDNA met their requirements for a faith that explained their lives. For them, it was no longer a joke. You can see this happening with David Frangquist, the author of "The Chronicles," as his writing changes from a parody of the Bible in the first chapters to a serious examination of what it meant to be a Druid.
Now, forty years later, here we are. Not only is Druidism still here, it’s thriving! RDNA continues in its original form for some, but numerous "offshoots" have also arisen, attracting different sorts of people to their different emphases. While I've not looked into them, I salute them for answering the religious needs of their participants.
Personally, I still believe that RDNA is a supplement to other faiths, as I think do the other founders. But I must respect those for whom it has become their exclusive faith. Given our origin, I’m a little bemused by that, but I think I can understand it.
And, more importantly, I think that Druidism, in its various manifestations, should and will continue. Even if it eventually becomes meaningful only to one person, it still deserves recognition for that. I guess we wrought far better than we thought we did when we started our little "protest march".
A Whole of Druidry
By Dana Felber, Reprinted with Permission
What is the "whole" when it comes to Druidry? Since Druidry is a spirituality that largely looks to the past for its practices and beliefs, this begs the question of, what was the whole of Druidry when there were actual Druids in the world? We tend to romanticize our ancestors, certain that they were not stumbling around in the dark as we are, wishing they were here to teach us their supposed certainties. But...is there such a thing as a One True Druidic Way to seek for? Did such a thing ever exist?
The Celts were a dominant force in Europe for the better part of a thousand years. As moderns in a culture that changes significantly from one decade to the next, we tend to telescope time when we think about the past and speak of Celtic culture and spirituality as though it were a neat, easily-defined package and that what was valid at the end when things were actually written down was bound to be already in place in the beginning. But no culture, especially a fragmented tribal one such as the Celts' is going to ever be consistent across the board, let alone over a period of a thousand years. Moreover, Celtic spirituality is rooted in venerating the spirits of place, which can differ drastically from location to location and even change over time. The nature of those spirits—temperament as it were—will also effect that particular tribe's outlook.
A lot of people today base their Druidry to a greater or lesser extent on the Irish materials that date to around 400 CE and later. It's very tempting to do so because there's a lot of it, more documentation than for any other place or time. And this is fine of course if this is what truly calls to an individual. But to exclusively focus on this material as what should define Druidry for everyone contains some inherent and flawed assumptions.
One assumption is that, coming as it does from the period when Druidry either died out or went underground, the Irish material represents all that was best in the whole history of Celtic culture, a synthesis and summary as it were. This in turn contains an underlying--erroneous--assumption of its own: that a culture or spirituality "progresses" in a linear fashion, i.e., that what comes first is "primitive" and what comes later is "advanced"...and therefore "better." But is this in fact the case? If it is, then it would logically follow that the spirituality we possess today is what is truly superior. Why on Earth are we looking back to a "primitive" past for anything worthwhile or valuable? Or...perhaps our more remote ancestors possessed wisdom we have in fact lost, but that could be regained, if we make the effort.
Another assumption is that one Celtic culture is interchangeable with another because "we're all Celts." Yet Irish culture is very distinctive from Welsh, Scottish, Manx, Breton or Cornish culture, as anyone familiar with them or living within them would explain. Indeed, those could be fighting words to actual individuals living within these cultures today and seeking to keep them from being overwhelmed and lost. It's also frustrating and ultimately offensive to the many people living outside the Isles on the European continent who are reaching back to their ancestors of the Celtic tribes of their region. Some of these people are working very hard to discover that culture, their sacred sites and local spirits, yet when they reach out beyond their locale to share or to learn from other groups, they are often met with indifference or dismissal or an attempt to assimilate them into a thinking they have no resonance with.
So...what is the whole of Druidry? That which, by rights, we should be giving our allegiance and devotion to even as we seek to uncover what it is out of the obscuring mists of the centuries? I think most people here would agree that no modern Druidic group has the exclusive corner on our wisdom. In my experience of the larger groups, the leaders themselves would agree with that. And Celtic culture itself was so steeped in intense individuality as to preclude such a thing. Yet one continues to run into this notion in the broader modern Druidic community. How does it come about?
A lot of people come to paganism and/or Druidry with the Judeo-Christian model of spirituality/religion so embedded within them that they can't conceive of something significantly different that can legitimately be called "spirituality." There must be deities, there must be hierarchy, of both pantheon and clergy, there must be set rituals, liturgies, practices, prayers, creeds and beliefs common to the whole group. So that's what they go looking for—and it's easy enough to find exactly that in certain segments of Druidry. But what about the rest? What about the people in the next newsgroup, next email list, next Druid organization? Are they wrong? Sometimes that's the reaction that occurs—we've all seen it. But that gets right back to attitudes found in Judeo-Christian thinking, the Protestant who tells the Catholic they're going to hell because they pray to saints, or the Jew who smiles smugly at the Gentile neighbors because he/she is certain of being one of "God's chosen people." Why do people who have - apparently - broken free of these molds want to go there? There's so much more to Druidry and Celtic culture and history than any one tribe's piece, or one person's interpretation of that piece. But it demands that we stretch ourselves, be willing to take some risks and be willing to think outside the box we've grown up with. Ultimately it's a quest for a Grail that will heal the very real Wasteland that's all around us. But we have to strive for what the warriors of the Red Branch and Arthur's Logres had: courage to step into the unknown. In this day and age, this kind of courage is less about facing a challenging enemy or dangers in a physical contest and more about opening our minds.
It's tough. We come to a new spirituality not knowing the ropes, uncertain of what we're doing. If someone takes a stance of authority and declares, "This is the way it is!" we often don't know enough in that neophyte stage to be able to judge whether or not the pronouncement is valid for us. Add to that that we want to belong, be a part of a group, a community. Accepted, validated even, in what is often a scary decision taken in defiance of friends and family. So even if these authoritative pronouncements strike us as not quite right, we tend to say, "Well, that's the way it is. The group needs me to go with them." Which all right as long as there's an adequate comfort level. But that doesn't mean we should stop seeking for our personal Truths (and we all have them) or refuse to accept them when they lead us away from the group, however difficult that parting might be. Because putting acceptance in a group above that seeking flies in the face of the Druidic maxim "The Truth against the world."
I think it's no accident that the hero who goes on a quest into unknown and dangerous lands is revered in the Celtic cultures and held up as an ideal to emulate. Imagine someone like Cu Cuchulain or Gawain coming back home, eager to tell of his adventures and the strange things he saw and experienced—and being told to shut up because he might upset people. Or being called a liar by the elders because they've never seen or heard of what he's talking about, so of course it doesn't exist. The seeking of adventures was expected of Celtic warriors and was encouraged by the institution of set occasions when the tribe would gather to hear--and praise--what had befallen them. Perhaps it's because our ancestors didn't have the kind of access to information we do today—we tend to think we can know it all, or at least be able to look it up. They lived in a world full of unknowns and, if the tale s are true, valued an eagerness to learn about what lay outside their sphere, an open-mindedness and acceptance of the unexpected that anyone would do well to emulate. The Druids were acknowledged the intellectuals of their day, and as modern intellectuals on a Druidic path, we too should be always striving for the open mind, and be alive to the spirit of inquiry that is part of the concept of awen/imbas. It's true, this may take us outside our comfortable notions of who and what we are, but to me this is what every story ever written about a quest is all about: leaving what is comfortable to take risks and achieve something. It's no accident that overcoming fear is an integral part of these stories. Fear is what keeps thinking narrow and what truly breeds differences, persecutions and wars, what alienates people and causes their voices to fall silent. Water needs to flow free to be clear and healthy; trapped, it stagnates, grows foul and breeds poisons.
So what is the Druidic "whole"? What else can it be but every person who comes to this path heeding a call of ancient voices with a sincere desire to learn and a willingness to be open to new ideas and teachings but who also has the conviction to hold to their own Truth against the world, however nascent and unarticulated it might be to begin with. They may come by unlikely or unpromising paths, enamoured of teachings they will later discard in quiet embarrassment, but the point is that they do come and they should be welcomed with encouragement rather than contempt for their ignorance. For the wisest person who ever reads these words will remember that he or she once knew no more than they.
40 Years Wandering in the Wilderness
By Mike Scharding, Pundit
I was watching an old movie, the other weekend about Moses and the Israelites' 40 years of wandering in the wilderness looking for their god. "Just like the druids." I thought smirkingly to myself, "without that Golden Calf bit and professional hair-styling."
As a frazzled Reunion coordinator, the May 1-4th weekend in Northfield Minnesota was appropriately one long trudge for me from one location to another, carrying stones (but not tablets), looking after food, fording rivers, and concentrating on the "trees rather than the forest." However, as I step back after a few weeks of rest and reflection, I can give you still only the briefest of overview of the busy schedule.
There have been forty revolutions of the earth around the sun since our little revolt began at Carleton College. Was year 40 much different from 39? I'm not sure, but it was an "XL"-ent year, I thought, and worthy of a big party; two in fact (next one is on the solstice). It was a sign of divine favor, perhaps, that the weather was very nice despite dire predictions of rain. To my surprise, the rain stopped a little after my arrival and began a little after our departure. Events were frequent, and relatively well attended, but many members took leave to sleep and walk around on their own instead of trying to go to all functions. With the leaves more or less out, and no mosquitoes, who could blame them.
For the 40th memorial service, we processed out from Monument Hill where the first service was held in April 1963, and filed to the Hill of 3 Oaks to the sound of music from the nearby Spring Concert, then passed through the Druid Den encampment and finally walked through the woods to reach the massive Stone Circle. As the service began, Joan Carruth did an excellent cant of the Hymn of the Earth Mother, then powerful gusts of wind nearly knocked members off their feet in response to the call to the four winds. Using one of the original glass chalices, Norman Nelson (2nd AD of Carleton) charged the waters, and Frangquist passed around the well-aged whiskey to both young and elder Druids present. Numerous speeches on the temporal nature of the original Druid movement, its evolving encouragement of deeper spiritual searching, and its tenacious continuation were made by Nelson, Frangquist and Shelton; with readings from Rumi, Idries Shah, Christian and Buddhist scriptures. A great feast, using the altar stone for the table, then ensued; followed by a Maypole dance, a wedding, a "don't-want-to-marry-you" service (pre-emptive divorce?), donut games, long chats and good fun.
There was also an archival session, at which members commented that the documents in storage are in better condition than themselves, and requested that their bodies be kept there for another forty years. The interview with 4 year Archdruid MerriBeth Weber '03, showed that things had not changed much over the years, and Druidism was a happy string of events, friendship, research and pursued interests. The college food was considered passable in the new dining facility, and several meals were attended, backgrounds exchanged, and plans decided. A Carleton-style Sweatlodge went well, despite the arrival of quizzical security officers during the set-up preparation; several members afterwards camped out in the area. The cooking and Bardic event was poorly planned and a definite flop, although good back-rubs were given out, but the Saturday bonfire was filled with jocular conversation, political debate, and fire gazing reflection; followed by a 90 minute walk in the pitch darkness of the extensive forest of the lower-Arb; listening to the sounds of the night. Ross and I passed the night in conversation around the campfire.
In the morning, the vigiling Corwin Troost and Stephen Crimmins were ordained as Third Order Druids, and Corwin (after some hasty coaching) led the Farewell service and did remarkably well despite frosty fingers and having his notes blown away. Both were then installed as Archdruids after the farewell ceremony by the departing Merri Weber. Ross and Dan both entered the Second Order after appropriate reflection, on that chilly morning. A large contingent then went to breakfast and then left on the shuttle bus back to the airport.
This was the third big Druid Reunion on record (1976 & 1993 being the other two), and probably the largest. About 15 current students turned out (recruitment was low this year) and about 15 old timers showed up including alumni (among them; Norman Nelson '65, David Frangquist '66, Richard Shelton '71, Katya Luomala '78, Darren '91, Mike Scharding '93, Ehren Vaughn '02, Chris Middleton '02), some relations (Julie Doneaux, Ross Wilke) and a few NRDNA members on their first visit to Carleton (Larry Press AD of Live Oak Grove, Joan Carruth AD of Birch Grove, Stacey Weinberger AD of Poison Oak Grove) and assorted family members and pets. A definite "multitude" was in attendance over the weekend.
All in all, a very full experience, one that brought together people from many generations and distant locations to commemorate a common search for awareness through Nature.
Now to get ready for the June Reunion....
The Soul of Juliana Spring
By Irony Sade
Copyright November 2000
Here we bring you the second installment:
And so it began. We met beneath the oaks the next day on a hillside overlooking fields and meadows creeping slowly back to wild. A brook danced its nearly inaudible way along the foot of the hill. Too far away to really be a presence the red brick buildings of the university dorms glowed in the morning light. Juliana wore long tan pants that made her look even taller, and a dark light sweater against the chill of the wind. She looked willow thin against the trees, and strode along with the cased harp as if it weighed nothing. She sat down on the end of the bench. I folded my coat across my knees. For a long time there was silence.
"I love this place," she remarked at length. "Sam and I used to come out here on walks before things got so busy."
"What does Sam have to say about all this?"
"I told him everything. He said that he couldn't quite believe it had happened, but that he thought it was very brave of me. He also said it was me that he loved, soulless or not, and that he'd stay with me through everything."
Far away I watched the movement of students to and from the dorms, smaller than ants and twice as aimless.
"He is a remarkable man if he means that. I hope he follows through."
"What do we do now?"
"I do not know yet. Play for me."
The harp case looked homemade. Juliana unzipped it and set the leather carefully aside. The harp stood shoulder high as we sat before it, darkly gleaming chestnut, unadorned. She screwed in its legs and settled the instrument back into her arms.
"What should I play?" She asked, brushing the strings. It was already tuned.
"Anything you wish."
She brushed the chords again and bent her long dark hair. So softly it seemed that she was still warming up, Juliana began to play.
In the middle air before us a cloud of insects danced beside a small yew tree. From its branches darted forth a small brown bird, flickering and flitting into the swarm, matching its mindless, eye-defying movements with its own. It tumbled about immune to gravity with no discernible wing beats, but a twisting, fluttering, graceful confusion of feathers and open beak. Then it was back in the branches, panting, as the swarm danced on, unconsciously reduced. After three long breaths it darted forth again.
She was good. Better than I had been after six years practice, but then, I had never had her passion. There was a freedom and a flow to her movements already beyond anything I could muster. She would never be my student, I decided.
At the end of the second piece the harpist's hands floated away from the strings. A breeze stirred her hair and caught the last of the chords, stretching them out into an inhuman blaze of harmony that drifted softly down the wind. Far below us water shimmered.
The lady turned to me with her heart shaped face. I searched for, found my voice.
"How much did you say you practiced?"
"Maybe two hours a night."
"What about your classes?"
"I have one right now, actually." She gazed over at the dorms. "It doesn't seem that important anymore."
"Then why do you take them?"
"Force of habit. It keeps my father happy, and I'll need some sort of skills if I can't make it as a musician." I turned my face towards her.
She realized it now, I saw. There was no more 'if' in this adventure. We were playing all or nothing.
"Do you want to be in school?" I asked.
"I like the atmosphere, the people, but no, not really."
The bird was back in the air again.
"If you dropped your classes, kept your job, and stayed with Sam, would you have enough money to pay a teacher?"
She considered, strangely calm as the possibilities assailed her.
"Good. I will try to find you one. Where do you work, by the way?"
"Down at the Symposium. I'm a waitress there."
"I shall have to visit sometime. Have you got a telephone?" She told me the number and I committed it to memory.
"Here is mine if you need anything. I will call within the week."
"What should I tell my father?"
"That is up to you." I replied, smiling. "And make that six hours a night." I turned to go. She stopped me with my name.
"What's the other half of our bargain? You never said. Whatt will happen afterwards?"
I waited, still as the rough skinned oaks. The wind brought a sheen to Juliana's eyes that almost looked like tears. Her lips began to form a question I had no way to answer. I spoke to cut her off.
"Do not think about it. If you let it worry you the concern will keep you from concentrating completely on the harp. Without that commitment you will never become the best, and the whole deal will be pointless. I am not the Devil, Juliana. You have nothing to fear."
Her eyes were not wholly convinced, but I had said too much already. I left her sitting with the harp and fled to the shadow of the silent trees.
That afternoon I made some calls. I was looking for the best teacher in an hour's radius. Not the best player - for any musician could get jealous of what Juliana Spring was going to become. We needed someone who could teach her all the things I could not, and who would be able to let her go when she moved beyond their skill. It took me longer than I had thought, but at last I found a woman who would serve, and made a reservation at the Symposium.
The restaurant where Juliana worked was very much a creation of the town it served. Its clientele were students and faculty, townies out for a night's splurge, and the occasional interloper like myself. The Mediterranean food it prepared was better than most, and the staff was no slower than many. Juliana was a bit too striking to make the perfect waitress, too ethereal to draw the biggest tips. She saw me when I entered and pounced upon my table to claim it as her own.
I gave her the number of the instructor I had found. She very nearly jumped with glee.
"It's going to work," she bubbled over my order. "I talked to all my professors, and they say it's all right. Some of them think I'm nuts, of course. Sam says we are still on, too, so I'm living there, and the manager here let me up my hours to thirty, so I can probably even save a little!" She grinned proudly. "And I'm playing seven hours a day!"
"Bring my food!" I laughed. "People will think I am flirting with you!"
Spring erupted into summer that year, as it always seems to manage. Beasts that had been wild and rutting a few months before settled down to raising families. The equinox came and went with its festivals of balance, and the stars slid slowly backwards through the heavens. The Hunter began to appear in the mornings again, his jeweled belt and longbow burning down the year. Leaves glowed, and in simpler climes people worked to gather in the harvest.
Juliana and I kept in touch throughout the changes. I also met quietly with her teacher now and again. Sam passed at the head of his class and began courting medical schools. Juliana lost her job, but found another closer to the city. Together they bought an old, tired station wagon and found a way to make both their schedules work. Juliana's teacher discovered her student had been fingering wrong all along, and showed her a new way of sitting that took the strain off her spine. Juliana said she was happier than she had ever been.
Three nights before Samhain someone tried to pound my door in. I came out from the kitchen and pulled it open. The woman the storm blew into my hall was a wreck, her face and hair plastered with tears and rain. She was nearly hysterical, tumbled words escaping in great gasps and stutters.
"I got back from work... and Sam was there... and the door was down... and he said he just came in... and started screaming... and threw Sam around... and was looking for me... and started throwing things... and... and... "
I barred the door and pulled her into the kitchen, still shaking. Juliana went into the softest chair and the tissue box went into her lap. The kettle was still smoldering quietly to itself. I grabbed it and a box from the high shelf.
"Tea." I told her. "Drink."
She grasped clumsily at the deep mug, her lungs still sobbing. I waited until she managed to take a full sip without slurping.
"Who?" I asked her. She stared at me blankly.
"Who threw Sam around?"
"My father... He found out I wasn't taking classes and discovered where we were living somehow. He tore the door down looking for me. When Sam told him I wasn't there he just went wild. He smashed everything he could find and kept roaring about me being a disobedient slut until our neighbors called the police. They were still there when I came home, and the landlord as well, but my father left before they could catch him." She paused for breath, clutching at the tea.
"He found out you were not taking classes?"
She nodded dumbly.
"Had you not told him?"
"I told him I'd gotten a scholarship so that he could stop paying tuition, and that I was working as a nursing intern over the summer. I gave him the number of a girlfriend who would say I lived there but was out at the moment if he called..."
She stared into her mug. I stared into her ear.
"It was stupid, I know. But I didn't want to face him."
"You lied," I breathed softly.
"So what? I sold my soul too. What damage is a lie going to do?"
"Selling your soul is just a sacrifice. A lie is a blow to your own integrity—that is much worse."
"You've got to be joking. Haven't you ever told a lie to avoid trouble?"
"No! When I do something as bad as lying you had better believe it is for something more important than just avoiding trouble!"
Juliana stared up at me, shocked out of her shock for the moment. My voice was louder than I had intended.
"You have a weird set of morals," said she.
You do not know the half of it, thought I.
I turned away from her, studying my dishes. In the reflection of a hanging pot I saw her take another sip from her mug. Her face took on an odd look.
"Why am I drinking mushrooms?"
She nodded, still puzzled, then her lovely frame collapsed, crashing back into shock and despair. Her voice was almost too faint to hear.
"He smashed my harp."
There was a knock at the door.
I turned, palms tingling.
"Don't go," she whispered. Her eyes were very large.
I walked through the hall to the door's heavy oak panels and laid my long left hand upon them.
The young man who stood there was big, but not tall. He wore a checkered mackinaw and a tattered blue cap. There was a chaw of tobacco in his cheek, and he looked up at me with amusement and contempt in his grey-blue eyes. He touched his hat brim in the ritual of respect.
"I'm here for Miss Raskin," he drawled.
He grinned and spat tobacco.
"I followed her here. That's her car out front. Don't try to tell me she's not around."
"There is a Miss Spring here. I have never heard of a Miss Raskin."
He spat again on my clean stone porch.
"Spring's not her real name."
"Who are you?"
"I'm a friend of her father, Mr. Raskin. He told me to come and find his little girl." He smirked up at me. His smile showed oddly clean teeth beneath the brown slime.
"I know she's in there."
"Mr. Raskin is currently liable for housebreaking, assault, and destruction of property. Miss Spring is currently under my protection. Cross this threshold and you will be liable for trespassing, assault and attempted kidnapping."
The clipped words flowed from a well of controlled wrath.
The man on the porch took a half step backwards.
"Now. Did Mr. Raskin tell you to find his daughter, or to find her and bring her back?"
"He... He only said to find her, sir."
"Then you have done as he asked. Go tell him where she is, if you feel you have to." The visitor rolled his poison uncertainly between his cheeks.
"He's still going to want her back," he appended.
"Then we will speak to him in the morning. Goodnight, Tom. It would be best for you not to come here again."
I closed the door in his startled face and dropped the heavy beam across it. Juliana was sitting still and pale when I returned to the kitchen.
"Who was it?"
"Thomas Weedon from Willard's Landscaping, according to his hat. Do you know him?"
"He goes to father's church. I didn't think he'd do anything like this."
"Is your name Juliana Spring?"
"Juliana Spring Raskin. Spring was my mother's name. I've never much cared for the Raskin part."
My eyes searched the woman sitting in my favorite chair, wondering what else I did not know about her. I felt the sweat of adrenaline evaporating off my sides, the almost taste of blood along my tongue.
"What are we going to do now?" she asked.
The storm churned outside like the Wild Hunt in training. Beneath the wind I heard a car start up and leave.
"You and Sam are going to stay with me while we sort this out. Tomorrow morning you are going to talk with your father."
Bleach would only have darkened Juliana's face.
"Could I have some more mushrooms?"
The couple stayed for four nights. Sam and I packed up their apartment. It only took two trips; they owned very little beyond clothes and books. I collected the tangle of nylon and shattered walnut as Sam talked to the landlord. The harp was beyond repair.
"What are your plans?" I asked when Sam returned.
"We’ll move somewhere else. There are a couple of schools that seemed excited about my coming. I did pretty well last year, and my medical requirements are all finished. I might try talking one of them into accepting me a year early. There is a seven-year MD/PhD program I was especially looking at. It can't hurt to apply anyway. Desperation must count for something"
"I'm more worried about Julie," he added after a pause. "That harp was her life. I don't know what she's going to do without it."
The day after the attack Juliana called her father. Their conversation was brief and private. She emerged from my study in tears. I held her as she wept and came as close as I ever have to hating someone I had never known. There was more grief in it than anger, really, but hate is such a simpler word.
"What did you tell him?"
"Everything. He doesn't understand."
"Except where we are going and about our bargain. He figures I'm damned anyhow, so what's the difference? He said I'd end up just like Mother."
"What happened to her?"
"She was a dancer. She taught at some of the community centers, YWCA and places like that. She was very good, but it was always just a hobby. Then one day she got an offer to join a dance troupe and get paid for it. My parents fought about that for weeks. She felt she had only ever been a housewife and was entitled to at least try for her own career, and that even if it only lasted for the season it would be an adventure, so what was the harm in it? He argued that she would be abandoning her sacred duty as wife and mother. Making a charnel exhibition of her God given beauty, I think he called it. She said he had no right to talk like that, and that she was going to go off with them anyway.
"Then one day she did... I came home from school and she was just gone, no note or anything. Dad fumed about it for months. He still gets furious if anyone mentions her. I kept hoping she would come back, or write, but she never did." Juliana sniffed.
"Why couldn"t she have taken me with her?"
She fell silent. I stayed with her there in the darkening room until Sam came home to my rescue.
To Be Continued...
WITNESS THE SUMMER SOLSTICE AT THE UMASS SUNWHEEL
SUNRISE @ 5:00 a.m. & SUNSET @ 7:30 p.m.
SATURDAY & SUNDAY
JUNE 21 & 22, 2003
Members of the University community and the general public are invited to witness the passing of the seasons by joining Dr. Judith Young of the U.Mass. Dept. of Astronomy to watch the Sun rise and set over the tall standing stones in the UMass Sunwheel for the upcoming SUMMER SOLSTICE. Visitors for the sunrise viewing should arrive at 5:00 a.m., and visitors for the sunset viewing should arrive at 7:30 p.m. The sunrise and sunset events will be held on both Saturday and Sunday, June 21 and 22, 2003.
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, insect repellent, and be prepared for cool temperatures when the Sun is down. Visitors are also welcome to bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on. A $3 donation is requested to help with the cost of stone pathworks and exhibit expansion which are planned for the Sunwheel. Sunwheel T-shirts & sweatshirts will be available for purchase. Visitors are also welcome to bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on.
At the time of the summer solstice, when the days are longest and the nights are shortest, the Sun rises and sets at its most northerly location, over the tallest stones in the Sunwheel. The word 'solstice' means standstill, and refers to the fact that at solstice, the Sun appears to rise and set in the same direction for over a week. Even though the instant when the Sun is most northerly is on June 21 in the afternoon, visitors will be able to see the Sun rising and setting over the summer solstice stones in the Sunwheel from June 17-26. The astronomical cause of the Sun's standstill is one of the topics which will be explained during the Sunwheel gatherings.
The UMass Sunwheel is located south of Alumni Stadium, just off Rocky Hill Road and across from the maze. The Sunwheel 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. In the event of rain, the events will be cancelled, and visitors are encouraged to visit the Sunwheel on their own.
For more information on the UMass Sunwheel, check out the web site at http://www.umass.edu/sunwheel
Dr. Judith S. Young
Professor, Dept. of Astronomy
620 GRC Tower B
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003
THE STONEHENGE ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
TUESDAY 10 JUNE 2003.
NEW STONEHENGE ROAD WOULD BRING "MASSIVE DESTRUCTION" TO WORLD HERITAGE SITE
New plans by the Highways Agency (1) to upgrade the A303 trunk road near to Stonehenge would devastate an outstanding archaeological landscape of international importance (2) according to the Stonehenge Alliance, a group of environmental organizations opposed to the scheme (3).
If completed, the plan would sink the central 1.3-mile (2.1-km) section of the road into a tunnel bored beneath the UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS). But it would also involve bulldozing new junctions, slip roads, and a brand new four-lane dual carriageway across one third of the WHS causing massive destruction to the protected landscape.
The Stonehenge Alliance is not alone in criticizing the plan. UNESCO's official adviser on UK World Heritage Sites, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS-UK), has said it does not support the short (2.1 km) bored tunnel. The National Trust, which owns much of the land around Stonehenge, has asked the Highways Agency to explain why it will not consider longer tunnels .
Speaking for the Stonehenge Alliance, Dr. Kate Fielden said: "Stonehenge is not just the stone circle: it's a unique complex of interrelated monuments extending over a landscape of some 5,000 acres . The Highways Agency's glossy before-and-after photos are highly misleading: they show nothing of the destruction on either side of the short tunnel; nor do they give any idea of the visual impact of its presence in such a special place. Even with the tunnel, the sound of traffic would still be heard at Stonehenge. We welcome efforts to secure the future of the World Heritage Site, but we fail to see how bulldozing a motorway through it would achieve that end. This hugely damaging and intrusive scheme would provoke an international outcry; the government must look at other alternatives."
Notes to editors:
1. A303 Stonehenge Improvement: Have Your Say On Detailed Plans, Highways Agency News Release 500/SWW/03, 29 May 2003, reissued 5 June 2003.
2. "The Stonehenge World Heritage Site is internationally recognized as an outstanding archaeological landscape. Inscription on the World Heritage List places Stonehenge, with Avebury and its associated sites, beside other World Heritage Sites of outstanding universal value such as the Pyramids in Egypt, the Taj Mahal in India and the Great Wall of China." Foreword to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site Management Plan, English Heritage, April 2000.
3. The Stonehenge Alliance is an informal alliance of organizations and individuals formed, under the Chairmanship of Lord Kennet, to oppose the Government's currently preferred road scheme for the upgrading of the A303 at Stonehenge and to put forward alternatives which are less damaging to archaeology and the environment. Stonehenge Alliance supporters include: Ancient Sacred Landscapes Network, The Council for the Protection of Rural England, Friends of the Earth, RESCUE: The British Archaeological Trust, The Pagan Federation, and Transport 2000.
4. ICOMOS-UK Press Release, 12 December 2002; National Trust Press Release, 10 December 2002.
5. "The boundary of the WHS encompasses over 2,000 hectares [5000 acres] of land containing a high density of both buried and visible 'upstanding' archaeological sites and monuments... Much of the area surrounding the WHS is also of archaeological importance." Stonehenge World Heritage Site Management Plan, English Heritage, April 2000, section 2.1.8.
THE STONEHENGE ALLIANCE Position Statement June 2003
The Stonehenge Alliance is a group of organisations and individuals opposed to the Government's scheme for widening the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down, which proposes a 2.1km bored tunnel close to the Stones and 2.4km of above-ground dual carriageway within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site (WHS). This road scheme is part of a minimally consulted 'Stonehenge Master Plan' (now renamed 'The Stonehenge Project') and it coincides with the Government's plan to make the A303 into a 'strategic route' to the South West.
The Stonehenge Alliance supports the principles of the widely agreed Stonehenge Management Plan which recognises that the whole archaeological and spiritual landscape of the WHS is of outstanding international importance and should be conserved-not just that part nearest to the henge monument.
The Stonehenge Alliance also strongly supports the concerns raised by ICOMOS UK.*
|These include: 'The proposal . . . does not
go far enough in healing the scars in the Stonehenge landscape or in making
it available for people to enjoy in peace and quiet';
'The short tunnel would not allow reinstatement of key spatial features and associations within the WHS . . . which in visual as well as access terms would remain compromised';
'the Stonehenge landscape . . . should . . . not be a candidate for an above ground dual carriageway'; and 'The benefit analysis should include intangible as well as tangible benefits. This means considering the very high local, national and international 'existence' value of the Stonehenge landscape and the 'bequest' value put on it by those who believe it to be a key part of their national and international heritage'.
The Alliance calls for an holistic approach to sustainable management of the landscape and archaeology of the Stonehenge WHS and its visitors, in line with the aims of the WHS Management Plan and the requirements of the World Heritage Convention. This would involve putting the 'Stonehenge Project' on hold, giving priority to the Management Plan, and reconsidering proposals for the A303 in the light of ICOMOS UK's statements of concern.
* The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) is the official adviser to UNESCO on cultural World Heritage Sites.
THE STONEHENGE ALLIANCE IS SUPPORTED BY: Ancient Sacred Landscapes Network; CPRE; Friends of the Earth; The Pagan Federation; RESCUE: The British Archaeological Trust; Transport 2000 and others
Pagan Celtic Britain by Anne Ross
(Trade Paperback; 35.00 Euro / 40.00 USD / 23.00 UK; 540 pages)
In this book the author employs archaeological and anthropological evidence, as well as folklore, to provide a broad insight into the early Celtic world. She begins by examining Celtic places of worship—the shrines and sanctuaries in which sacred objects were housed and from where they would be ritually displayed when various rites and sacrifices were conducted before the people. She describes the divine warriors with their aquatic, therapeutic and fertility connections. The importance of animals is also analyzed, especially birds, the gods' favourite form of creature for metamorphosis. The reader learns how Celtic places of worship changed with the arrival of the Romans when Romano-Celtic temples were erected and new deities and cults evolved. This book is gripping as the author leads the reader through the evidence from ritual pits and cult sites, votive wells, sacred precincts and mountains.
From Read Ireland - THE Source for Irish Books on the Internet! Please send orders, questions, criticism or general comments to:
Read Ireland @ Phibsboro Bookshop,
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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