1 Geimredh 43 - Samhain / Calan Gaeaf 2004 - Vol.3 No. 1
www.mithrilstar.org

Blessed Samhain to All

Samhain (S-un), (or SOW-en), known in Modern Irish as L Samhna (Laa Su-Nu), in Welsh as Nos Galan Gaeaf (that is the night of the Winter Calends), in Manx as Laa Houney (Hollantide Day), Sauin or Souney; is, of course, the eve of “All Saint’s Day”, All Hallow’s Evening or Halloween.

Among other things, it is the beginning of the Winter Half of the Year (the seasons of Geimredh & Earrach) and is known as ”the Day Between Years.” The day before Samhain is the last day of the old year and the day after Samhain is the first day of the new year (though for clarity’s sake, most New Reformed Druids assign each Samhain to the year following it. Being a day “between years,” it is considered a very magical night, when the dead walk among the living and the veils between past, present and future may be lifted in prophecy and divination.

As the Celtic New Year, it is the time when the veil separating the worlds of men and of the Tuetha de Dannan is at its thinnest, allowing the spirits of the dead, the faery folk, devas, etc., to pass back and forth with little effort.

Samhain Around the World

In Scotland, people would place stones or nuts in the ashes of the hearth before going to bed Samhain night. Anyone whose stone had been disturbed during the night was said to be destined to die during the coming year.

On Crete, each family prepares a pot of porridge (made by boiling wheatberries, pomegranate seed, raisins, currants and almonds) and then carries it from house to house throughout the village. At each home, a little of their porridge is taken out and added to the household's pot and a little of that household's porridge is added to theirs. By the end of the day, each family takes home a nearly identical mixture of the village's porridge to honour all the departed.

In Sicily, this day is called the Festival of the Dead and it is an important celebration, especially for the children, as their dead relatives return to leave them traditional candies and cakes as well as toys.

In Latin America, families celebrate the Day of the Dead by visiting cemeteries and cleaning the graves of their relatives. They also honor the memory of departed loved ones by leaving them flowers and by baking traditional cakes and pastries.

In Finland, the celebrations we associate with Samhain actually occur around Easter.

The white son of darkness, at Samhain in his antler head
dress he leads the wild hunt out from Yynis Whittrin the Isle
of Glass, better known as Glastonbury Tor. With his red, black and white hounds and his hooded riders Gwyn as Lord of
war and death gathers the souls of the dead, leading them
through the underworld to rest and rebirth. A powerful
perhaps frightening image.

There are however many aspects to this complex deity.
His role as Lord of death is a crucial part of the sacred cycle.

Gwyn has many other faces - he is a Lord of the forests,
a being of great knowledge and wisdom - he has great
concern over the fate of the earth.

Gwyn is the lover of Creudlad, and he is
Lord of the Tylwyth Teg [Welsh Faeries].
He beckons you where the veil is thinnest to
follow him into another place.


REFORMED DRUIDISM 101: THE SELF-STUDY ON CD-ROM V.9.0

We've been selling it it at Avalon Risen, on the D101 homepage, and on eBay. We're charging the general public $19 for the CD, but OMS members can pick it up for $5 (and that's post paid). See http://www.mithrilstar.org/memd101cd.htm to order
at the member's price (of course, you must be a member to get it at that price).

Also, we've been giving it away to new members who join without going through (or signing up for) the online D101 class -- that way they don't have to wait for a new session to begin -- they can just jump right in to the self study.

     

AVALON RISEN
RECOMMENDED BOOK LIST PARTIALLY ONLINE

Last May we launched our online store, featuring Order-related items, including "Mithril Star" pendants, ritual cloaks, and T-shirts. We've become wholesalers with AzureGreen, and can get anything in their catalog ( www.azuregreen.com ) for you at 15% off their regular retail prices (but only if you use the AzureGreen link on the Avalon Risen webpage).

The "official" OMS Bibleography continues to grow. If you haven't checked it out lately, please do. Sybok has put a lot of hours into this effort. The bibliography is now up 90% and functioning. Sybok is still working on the "miscellaneous" page, but should have that up within the week. Then he will be going back and adding in all the suggested works that have been coming in (thanks to those who have contributed). The bibliography is very much an ongoing work in progress, so be sure to check it from time to time for updates.

One of the things about it is that it functions as a "suggested reading list" but it also reveals something of the character of the Order, in much the same way that perusing a new friends book shelf will reveal something of their character.

About 99% of the books have links either to our own Avalon Risen sale site, or to Amazon.com, where you can purchase the item. The only ones that don't are those we couldn't find and are out of print.

Check it out: http://www.mithrilstar.org/avalon/bibleo.htm

Do feel free to make suggestions. And if you have a review of any work therein, please submit it and we'll give you the credit. Also, you have to know we didn't -- we couldn't -- read every book in the list. If you believe or are aware of a book that shouldn't be on the list, for whatever reason, please let us know (and tell us why). Likewise, if we've left something out, or "misplaced" a book (maybe it's in the wrong catagory?).

Our online store is at http://www.mithrilstar.org/avalon and features a shopping cart powered by Pay Pal, so you can do all your shopping easily and conveniently.

Please keep checking that page, as we will be adding new inventory to the store every week! We already have many beautiful ritual items in there!

Also, if there are any items that you see on the AzureGreen website that you think we should carry in our store, please write us and we will consider it.

Cailleach - The Veiled One
A Dedication to the Crone

by Ceridwen Seren-Ddaear

The Cailleach (KAL-y-ach) is the Ancient Earth herself. She is the lichen-covered rocks and the mountain peaks. She is the bare earth covered with snow and frost. She is the Deep Ancestress, veiled by the passage of time.

At Hallowmas, Brighid withdraws her green mantle from the Earth. With a last stunning flourish of colour, her power withdraws into the ground. The very soil now holds all of Life. Plants have deposited their seeds there, to wait for the return of the Light. Trees now only live in their roots, leaving their branches bare to the keen winds. Animals as small as insects and as large as bears go into the Earth to sleep the Winter away. The wet of the Winter rains helps last year's plants to transform into fertile soil for the next season of growth.

The Cailleach is the Goddess who oversees this transformation. She is the one who watches over the culling of old growth. She is the Death Goddess, who lets die what is no longer needed. But in the debris of the passing year, she also finds the gems, the seeds for the next season. She is the guardian of the seed, the keeper of the essential life force. She holds the very essence of power.

This is the hag of winter, often described as an ugly giantess leaping from mountaintop to mountaintop. The rocks she drops from her apron become hills. She has a blue-black face with only one eye in the centre of her forehead. Her teeth are red and her hair is matted brushwood covered with frost. She wears grey clothes and a great plaid is wrapped around her shoulders. When the Winter storms rage through the hills, people say the Cailleach is tramping her blankets. She washes her plaid in the eddies of the Corryvreckin off the Scottish coast, and the next day the hills are white with snow.

It is clear that the Cailleach is one with the land, clothed in snow in winter, with brushwood growing on her body. Her one eye shows that she sees beyond dualities to the ultimate unity of all things on the Web of Life.

Her appearance alone makes her awesome to encounter. It is hard to relate to someone that ugly. Whenever people encounter her in meditation, they usually feel fear and awe, because she is clearly very powerful. She is the essential power of the Earth, and she has made it clear to me that she will continue to punish our disrespect for her with flood and other natural disaster. This is not a lady to be trifled with.

In Celtic myth and legend, the hag is often equated with the Sovereignty of the land. The spirit of the land traditionally held the sovereign power, and any king only held office by symbolic marriage to the spirit of the land. The story of Niall makes this very clear.

Women who identity with this Goddess find that she gives them Sovereignty in their lives - a special kind of power and confidence. The Cailleach, fierce though she may be, lives in all of us. She gives us the wisdom to let go of what is no longer needed, and keeps the seeds of what is yet to come. She stands at the cusp of Death and Life.

Of course, the Cailleach’s best known guise is that of the winter goddess, representing cold, darkness and death. In the winter months she rides through the air on the back of a wolf (the Gaelic word for January is Faoilleach, “wolf month”), bringing freezing cold, blizzards and ice. Highland tradition says that she has a magic wand which she uses to strike down the tiniest signs of spring growth — she acts as destroyer, bringing the frost that kills the first shoots of plants, the early lambs. Many sources say that her reign ends on April 25, now a Christian festival to celebrate the Annunciation, centuries ago - L na Caillich, Cailleach Day, the beginning of spring in Scotland. Others say she remains active until Beltane, and that the varying winter conditions in April represent her last fight against the arrival of spring.

Some stories tell of the Cailleach’s son who represents spring and who, in order to defeat winter, has to free a young girl held prisoner by his mother. The Cailleach escapes his fatal blow by becoming part of the landscape, turning into a rock or boulder (there’s a Cailleach Mountain in the Cuillins on the Isle of Skye, for example — one of her haunts).

The next aspect of the Cailleach is closely related to the above. She is also a weather goddess, a goddess of storms. The west coast of Scotland is her favourite haunt. In her guise as storm goddess she is usually known as Cailleach Bheur. Bheur means sharp and can apply to wind and weather as well as a person.

The one place that is mentioned most frequently in connection with Cailleach Bheur is the whirlpool of Corryvreckan, just north of Jura. It is one of the spots most feared by sailors as its power can change very suddenly. West coast lore has it that the whirlpool is Cailleach Bheur’s washtub. In winter, she is said to wash her plaid, representing the whole of Scotland. When she has finished, the plaid is white and Scotland is covered in snow.

At other times of the year, sailors need to look and listen. Are there little wavelets on whirlpool, foam gushing? Cailleach Bheur is treading her laundry. Is there a noise like thunder? It’s the Cailleach’s sneeze! Both are sure signs that it would be very dangerous to go near the whirlpool. Further inland, the Cailleach can control tidal lochs, causing storms so violent that boats can’t leave harbour. This could have had serious consequences in the days before roads and bridges were built.

But the Cailleach does not only act as destroyer. On the contrary: some attribute to her the creation of the whole of the Hebrides! There are lots of anecdotes about landscape creation, both deliberate and accidental. The Cailleach is said to walk about carrying stones in a basket or a creel occasionally dropping them, thus creating mountains and groups of islands such as the Garvellachs. A wonderful bawdy story features the giant Cailleach wading through the sea, apron full of rocks, near the Ayrshire coast when a French sailor moves his boat underneath her. As the storyteller quaintly puts it, “he tickles her where you would expect a Frenchman to tickle a woman” — she shrieks and drops one of her rocks (the Frenchman has a lucky escape!) which we now know as Ailsa Craig. Loch Awe came into being when the Cailleach of Cruachan failed to cover the well on Ben Cruachan in time, and the water gushed out down into the valley, flooding villages and drowning people. She was devastated and she turned to stone, became the boulder that can still be seenon top of the mountain. You can visit Cruachan Power Station near Oban and enjoy a tour into the mountain — the story is part of it!

The Cailleach is very fond of animals, which leads on to the last aspect, that of the supernatural guardian. Many a Cailleach acts as a guardian of deer, looking after their welfare and making sure that there is a healthy population. The most famous of deer guardians is Cailleach Beinne Brice, the Cailleach of Beinn Bhreac (or Ben Breck) near Loch Treig in Lochaber. Local hunters were once familiar with her. Their relationship was one of mutual respect. The Cailleach was happy to speak to them, to tell them how the deer were doing, to tell them how many they could shoot and when. The hunters would always keep to her instructions, knowing that she had control over the balance between human and nature. People would notice if they did something wrong, such as the two young lads who went hunting on Stob Coire Claurgih in the Grampians. The Cailleach pointed them in the right direction to shoot a deer. The lads tied a rope around it and dragged the stag all the way home… or so they thought. When they arrived, only the rope was left. They told their father how they had found the stag, and their father asked, “Did you bless the meat?” When they denied it, their father explained: “Well, if you don’t bless the meat, then it’s the fairies who get their share!”

So, as you have seen, there is more to the Cailleach than her winter goddess aspect. You may have felt her presence on a cold January night — I have, and I’m sure she dropped those big snowflakes on my nose to nudge me into getting back to my research! — but don’t just look for her there… find her in Scotland’s mountains, by the lochs, in pastures and meadows, and in the forests… for she is in all of them, a mistress of the land.


Olde Welsh Prose
(Author Unknown)

He who knows the ways of beast and birds,
Who can distinguish them by sound and cry,
Who knows the bright quicksilver life in streams,
The courses that the stars take in the sky,
May never had laid hands on books, yet he,
Is sharing wisdom with infinity...
He who works with sensitive deft hands
At any woodcraft, will absorb the rain,
The sunlight and the starlight and the dew,
That entered in the making of its grain;
He should grow tall and straight and clean and good,
Who daily breathes the essence of wood,
He who finds companionship in rocks,
And comfort in the touch of vine and leaf,
Who climbs a hill for joy, and shouts a song,
Who loves the feel of wind, will know no grief;
No loneliness that ever grows too great;
For he will never be quite desolate...
He shares, who is companioned long with these,
All ancient wisdom and philosophies.

 

MEET OUR NEW TREASURER

Owing to the problems of managing
the Orders monetary assets from a
long distance, our former Treasurer,
Br. Phaedrus, stepped down from
his role in late summer.

We were pleased to find a willing
and very capable replacement in
the form of a new member of the
Mother Grove from Garberville, CA:
Moonflower.

Moonflower, a CPA by profession,
has enthusiastically
taken over the office of Treasurer,
and has actually thrown herself
into the Order, advancing to the
3rd degree in almost as many months!



LUGHNASADH SESSION OF REFORMED DRUIDISM 101 CONTINUES

As an Order, we're adapting more and more of RDNAs traditions (with our own little tweaks of course) every year, and our online course is reflective of that. So in August, we changed the name of the course to Reformed Druidism 101, which is much more acurate.

The current session has 14 survivors, and 4 have already joined the Order (2 were members going in). Sadly, a few who did not survive simply refused to pay their obligation. Honor can be so lacking in the Pagan community.

The next session will begin in January. If you are a member of the Order and need to take it, use this link to enroll: http://mithrilstar.org/d101enroll.htm

If you are a member of the Order, the money commitment does not apply to you.

THE STATE OF THE ORDER
NEW YEARS DAY Y.R. 4
3

As of today we have 138 members, of which:
21 members are eligible for ordination into the First Degree.
16 members are ordained First Degree Druids.
3 members are eligible for ordination into the Second Degree
4 members are ordained Second Degree Druids
3 members are ordained Third Degree Druids
1 member is eligible for ordination into the Fourth Degree
1 member is an ordained Fifth Degree Druid
2 members are ordained Seventh Degree Druids

During YR 42:
186 students started the Druidcraft 101 class
15 finished and became members

During YR 42, the Order experienced a net Membership gain of 15

Total Groves: 2
Total US Members: 116
Total Canadian Members: 9
Total International Members: 22
Total Countries represented: 11
Total US States represented: 32
Total Canadian Provinces represented: 6
Top 5 US States: OR=12, CA=9, WA=10, FL=11, NY=7
Total members in areas with Redwood Groves: 4


4th ONLINE ORDINATIONS COMING UP AROUND YULE

Our next online ordinations will be held in the mithrilstar chat room sometime around Yule.

There are (as of this writing) 21 Druids eligible for the First Degree, 3 eligible for Second and 1 eligible for 4th.

If you are in a hurry, or not able to make an online ordination, and don't want to wait for the online date, you may make a private appointment with Ceridwen or Sybok for a phone or chat room ordination - or you can contact one of the three new Third Degree Druids, as they are empowered to perform the rites for First and Second degrees.

Write the clerk of the Mother Grove for a list of 3rd's.



ASTROLOGY FOR PAGANS

Ceridwen currently has four Advanced sessions and one Beginning session in progress. Because of this large amount of classes, she will be taking a "hiatus" from the group class format for quite some time (at least until all of her current students graduate)...

Ceridwen is, however still offering PRIVATE TUTORING sessions! Because of the increased "personal attention" these entail, there will be a sliding scale fee required...

If you wish to take advantage of this offer, or need more information about it, send an email to: Ceridwen Subject line: AstroPagan private tutoring

You will then be contacted immediately and a schedule will be set up that will conform to your own personal needs - NO WAITING! Each lesson will be offered whenever YOU are ready for it - and if you need to take time off at any point for personal business or holidays or whatever reason, your schedule will be adjusted accordingly!

Or...

If you are interested in a private consultation about your Astrological chart, please visit her home page at:

http://hunters-moon.org

ALMANAC

Today is Samhain / Calen Gaeaf, or November 1, 2004 CE.

It is the 1st day of the 43rd Year of the Reform, the 1st day of the Season of Geimredh, and the 1st day of the Month of M na Samhna.

It is also Monday, in the common tongue, or Dydd Llun in Welsh.

It is the Druidic day of the Willow.

FULL MOONS occur on 26 Geimredh, 56 Geimredh, and 86 Geimredh.

NEW MOONS occur on 12 Geimredh, 41 Geimredh and 71 Geimredh.

The birthday of our Co-Founder, Sybok Pendderwydd, occurs on 15 Geimredh.

The Sun enters Sagittarius on 21 Geimredh.

Men Geimhridh (December) begins on 31 Geimredh
(a Wednesday - Dydd Mercher - Day of the Hazel).

Yule / Alban Arthuan, or the Winter Solistice occurs on 51 Geimredh.

The Sun enters Capricorn on 51 Geimredh.

Deireadh Geimhridh (January, the new common year 2005) begins on 62 Geimredh
(a Saturday - Dydd Sadwrn -- Day of the Sequoia).

The Sun enters Aquarius on 80 Geimred.

Irish Galway Wassail

While wassailing is now usually associated with Yule, it originated around Samhain. It was usually done by a group of individuals who had imbibed too much Samhain ale. They would gather stones or weapons and cider and go out to find the largest apple tree around. There, they throw the stones (or fire their weapons) into the branches of the apple tree to frighten away evil faeries. They would then drink to the tree's health and sustenance. Today, "wassailing" means the drinking to the health of anyone with a spiced punch or cider.

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 baked apples, cut into small pieces
5 egg whites
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
8 whole cloves
1 quart ale
1 cup cooking sherry
1 cup Irish whiskey

Directions

1. Bring the water and cream to a slow boil and remove from heat.

2. Beat the egg whites well.

3. Thoroughly mix in all the remaining ingredients except the alcohol. Allow this mixture to cool slightly, enough so that the heat from it will not crack your punch bowl. If you have a non-glass container for your wassail, you can skip the cooling process.

4. Blend in the alcohol just before serving, and be sure to offer the traditional toast to the old apple tree.


The Mother Grove wishes all of you a most blessed New Year,
and abundant blessings throughout the season!

May you never thirst!

Arch Druid Ceridwen Seren-Ddaear, Managing Editor/Webmaster
Sybok Pendderwydd, Clerk
Cylch Cerddwyr Rhwng Y Bydoedd Grove, OMS

NEXT ISSUE WILL BE PUBLISHED ON Imbolq / Oimelc - 1 Earrach YR 43

WANT TO JOIN THE ORDER? http://www.mithrilstar.org/join.htm

WANT TO DONATE TO THE ORDER? http://www.mithrilstar.org/donate.htm

The Druids Egg -- 1 Geimredh YR 43 -- Vol. 3 No. 1
Send letters, submissions to mithrilstarnews-owner@yahoogroups.com
There is no guarantee that your submission will be published.
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Published four times each year by The Mother Grove of the
Order of the Mithril Star
Cylch Cerddwyr Rhwng y Bydoedd Grove
"An autonomous collective of Reformed Druidry"

Copyright (c) 2004