Official Publication of the Reformed Druids of Gaia, Inc.

1 Geimredh YGR 01 - Samhain / Yule 2006 - Vol.5 No. 1
rdg.mithrilstar.org

"I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment
with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines."

~~ Henry David Thoreau, 1817 - 1862

MUSINGS FROM THE ARCH-DRUID
by Ceridwen Seren-Ddaear /|\

As I write this, we are getting the first real rainstorm of the season…and we’ve had nearly a dozen small earthquake tremors in the last few days as well. Mother Gaia is really going through her seasonal shift, here on the Redwood Coast!

This has always been my favourite time of year, and I find myself naturally tending to turn inward in response to the slowing of the Earth’s rhythms. Meditation becomes easier, visualization sharper, and the Awen exceptionally strong and flowing…

One thing that I am very pleased to report is that RDG is experiencing an influx of new members since the highly successful Mabon Gathering – including a handful from across the pond…and the best news is that Cylch Cerddwyr Rhwng y Bydoedd (the Mother Grove of RDG) has gained a new local member as well! A warm welcome to Darkcryst… :)

We are highly encouraged to make this an annual event, and I hope to meet more of you next year…there is nothing like a face-to-face encounter with those one has met online – it is an awesome feeling, and much deja’ vu was experienced that weekend…

There was a proliferation of poetry submitted for this issue of the newsletter – I guess the Awen is flowing in many places at this time! Thanks to all who have contributed their beautiful and evocative writings – this newsletter is made brighter by their inclusion… :)

This issue focuses mostly on the Crone and on Power Places. I hope you all enjoy the insights and inspirations from the Cauldron of Ceridwen…and that you will be lovingly guided to the next step on your path – easily and without struggle or doubt. Our thoughts are especially powerful at this time of many intense and empowering astrological configurations, so we at the MG are taking advantage of the energies to empower our visions and goals…and you can choose to do so as well!

Blessings of the Season of the Crone…
In Gaia,
Ceridwen Seren-Ddaear, AD /|\

"Still in bloom --
California flowers dance
to winter song
."

~~ Victor P. Gendrano


* * * A Success! * * *

Overview of Events

The 1st Annual West Coast Gathering of Reformed Druids was held this past Mabon at the Avenue of the Giants at Humboldt Redwoods State Park in Weott, CA. About 20 Druids, mostly from California and Oregon, camped out together in a beautiful grove of old growth Redwood beside the Eel River. This campground was set off from the rest, giving us an enchanted, very private space in which to commune with the Redwood spirits.

Groups represented were RDNA, ADF, and OBOD, with a handful of people from other Druid-related groups.

Friday night we held a communal dinner that I must say had some highly creative and exotic food offerings for such a woodland setting – people went all out, and it was very impressive!

This was followed by a Bardic Circle with (contained) bonfire and drumming – and even a little belly dancing! The stories and songs that were shared were inspiring, and we went to our beds that night happy that we had come. The next morning only one Druid was brave enough to immerse himself in the freezing cold Eel River (perhaps we have some "polar bear club" Druids?) LOL!

Saturday afternoon we experienced a healing circle led by Arch-Druid Ceridwen Seren-Ddaear, and enhanced by the presence of no less than five Reiki Masters among us. Everyone felt a powerful energy connection, and those particularly worked upon seemed to feel a lot better afterwards. This led to a brief discussion and questions about Reiki and crystal chakra healing processes.

The pinnacle of the entire weekend was our Mabon ritual on Saturday night – a full blown formal RDNA ritual with procession – that was enhanced by the fact that many people wore beautiful mostly hand crafted robes. The ritual was "inspiring and followed the thread to becoming better pagans, renewing our purpose and opening a new path of exploration. The baying of the hounds off in the distance added to the feeling of acceptance of our purpose" (Lavender Wynd - see below).

It was at this ritual that the "Reformed Druids of Gaia" incarnation was officially midwifed into existence - and there was much rejoicing! :)

And the feast on Saturday night even surpassed Friday night's! The biggest hit was the shrimp in garlic sauce... ;)

As we shared a last communal breakfast on Sunday morning before packing up to leave, we remarked how our generous hosts – the trees themselves – seemed to be smiling and happy with our presence there – happy to be honored, and perhaps themselves healed a bit by our healing energies and harmonious gathering of kindred spirits and tree-hugging Druids! We also considered the weekend a complete success and resolved to do this again next year...

Feedback & Stories

(We thank these Druids for granting permission to print their experiences)

Tiffiny’s Druid Gathering Experience:

Something really groovy happened to me at the convention and I want to share with all of you.

First, some background. In the years I have been practicing, I have been unable to successfully do a visualization involving light (visualize a ball of light...etc). I've tried, but got nothing. Then something wonderful happened at the convention...the ability finally worked.

We were all seated together for a healing circle. The first round of healing was a blessing for my unborn son. As we all focused and directed our energies, I felt the energy race around the circle as it passed through me. My unborn son felt this too and responded with a few kicks. Once we completed this round, I noticed my other son fast asleep on his chair...Reiki energy is powerful stuff. :-)

Our next round was directed towards a participant who was nearing surgery for a herniated disk. I've experienced this condition, although mine was minor enough to be treated with chiropractic, and could sympathize with his pain.

We all once again joined hands and directed our energies towards this man. As I focused, I saw a brilliant white light surrounding him, enveloping him in healing energy. Having never done such a thing, I found it rather cool and continued with the unguided visualization. After a moment or so, my focus was drawn to his spine, where a ball of white light entered his back. The light traveled to the affected disk, and I saw, ironically enough, scar tissue. I don't know whether there would be scarring, as I do not know his history or what caused the injury, but that is what I saw. The light continued to pulse and glow, and I felt it was healing the injured area.

Our next person received a crystal chakra healing. This was a little different, as we were no longer holding hands. Once again, I was able to visualize our subject completely surrounded in white, healing light. It was quite the experience.

After the healing circle, we broke apart to prepare for ritual. Once inside the circle, we were led on the familiar guided visualization. For the first time, I truly saw a ball of emerald light over my heart chakra. Per instruction, I was able to see and feel the energy travel down through me, deep into the earth and return. Likewise, the energy traveled up through the top of my head, high into the stars, until it attached to the Sun and returned back to me. Once the two energies met, they intertwined in a yin/yang pattern and spun round until the energy shot through my hands, feet and head in a pentagram like fashion. While I was visualizing my own energy, I was also seeing everyone else in the circle firmly connected to our Earth and the stars, with the light traveling though them as well.

I enjoyed the gathering very much...I really enjoyed relaxing in the company of new friends and found the weekend provided me a much needed battery recharge...

While camping during pregnancy provided it's own challenges, the setting was beautiful and experience memorable. Would
I attend next year? Yes! I look forward to making this an annual tradition.

A heart-felt thank you to El and Ceridwen for assisting me on this wondrous journey; it was awesome.

And this from Dianne/Lavender Wynd, facilitator of Dragon Wicca):

Thanks so much for hosting this event....we found the new friends to be quite enjoyable, a great relaxing opportunity as well as the harmony of the group was quite magical in and of itself.

The evening storytelling was to me, quite a highlight. The sharing of Christian backgrounds by the two "preachers' (now grown-up) kids", shared some new insights to why the population of Druids, Wiccans and such are growing at record numbers while Christianity is fading fast. I think we all came away with new insights and respect for what we are trying to accomplish. While it may not have been a planned workshop, it was great to be able to share ideas and thoughts without the usual "bashing" of other religions.

The ritual on Saturday night was inspiring and followed the thread to becoming better pagans, renewing our purpose and opening a new path of exploration. The baying of the hounds added to the feeling of acceptance of our purpose. I felt the pentagram of light forming between all of us, connecting one and all, and empowering the pangs of birth.

I would love to gather together again next year...The fresh air relieved my head congestion and healed more naturally than any box medication could have!

The Sunday breakfast and working together to "feed the masses and keep the coffee going" was a great exercise in teamwork as well as the opportunity to get to know one another, keep the fire going as well as develop new friendships. The community worked together without friction, anger, bossiness or micromanaging. We spent the better part of three hours from starting the communal fire until the dishes were washed and put away. Everyone played a part using their particular strengths...

Darkcryst’s comments:

I had a great time! I enjoyed meeting the other Druids and listening to their stories about how they came to find their own personal path. The Reiki session was amazing and El and Ceridwen need to be commended for their wonderful ritual that they prepared for the Mabon celebration. Telling ghost stories around the campfire was fun too!

I will definitely be there next year...

We are still waiting for photos to be processed and sent to us by the folks who had cameras... :)

"To see a hillside white with dogwood bloom is to know a particular ecstasy of beauty,
but to walk the gray Winter woods
and find the buds which will resurrect that beauty in another May
is to partake of continuity."

~~ Hal Borland

Elements Invocation

I am the cup, the chalice of life
Ever filled, ever flowing
Molded by what I hold, shaping what I pour
I am the waters of creation

I am the sword, giver of death and spring
Ever sharp, ever piercing
Edged by what is true, cutting what is not
I am the fires of rebirth

I am the salt, purifier of the earth
Ever seasoned, ever healing
Birthed by what is rock, growing with the world
I am the spice of mother

I am the censor, keeper of the air
Ever fresh, ever blowing
Scented by what I touch, moving with my will
I am the winds of change.

~~ Source Unknown ~~

"Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter.
Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom,
but we hope it; we know it."


~~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quotes
(German Playwright, Poet, Novelist and Dramatist. 1749-1832)

Bardic Writings of RDG Members

(The following three writings by Druid Jillbe were generously submitted to us for the
purpose of sharing her talents and inspirations with the readers of this newsletter)

JOURNEY
© Jillbe Badb

Wandering singer of the forest am I
In my land where three
mountain ranges meet
Many have called me stranger
But at length called me a poet

I have been a recluse and existed within a redwood
I have traveled and lived
in a metal cocoon
I have dwelt under the winter stars
For a year and a day,
I wore nothing but rags

I have been a glowing coal
I have been a hidden mushroom
I have been the scent of heather
I have been a goblet of water

For 30 years in the
womb of unawareness
In state of blindness
But at length was a poet

I have seen a hawk
carry off a snake
I have stood within
ancient castle walls
I have dreamed others’ futures and pasts
I have built shelter in the desert

I am a ten-pointed star
I am a beginning and an end
I shall be until the end of the Summerlands
And it is not known whether I am song or magick

Learned Druid,
Can I memorize your words?
Or sing to you of trees?

chalice, pentagram, chakra stones

Calan Gaeaf Chant

by Jillbe Badb

Time which is no time, threshold of the year
Deities, Ancestors and Sidhe appear
Lugh travels back into the Summerlands
The Morrigan marries the Dagda again

Ceridwen summoned, prophetic power
Honor Donn - Cernunnos - first ancestor
We call on Caillech, destroyer, veiled one
Bringer of our young god to the redwoods

Dalon ap Landu died, resurrected
Showing our founders we are connected
Evoke Sequoia, forest Queen of Fey
Mother of Cywarch, patron divinity

This New Year, reflect on what’s come to pass
On Gaia, in our Order, groves, and nests
Let us share water on this sacred night
And rebirth ourselves with magick and light

Gaia Web

by Jillbe Badb

Mirrors reflecting deities
Seven Sisters of Pleaides
Stars and Planets shining on me
Creating webs of destiny

They say “As Above So Below”
Eternity for Gods to know
Spiral of seasons come and gone
Heading towards evolution

Four Realms holding the secret keys
Labyrinth of Fire, Earth, Wind, Sea
Internal sigil of Three Rays
Guide me to the end of my days

Trinity of Oak, Birch and Yew
Whispering tree songs to the few
Ancient mysteries cloaked in white
Blue glowing orbs float in the night

Within their fire a Drake appears
Blessing seekers and the seers
Dancing shadows in the forest?
Holders of memories long past?

(The following two writings by "honorary member" GeorgeAnne Smith were
generously submitted to us for the purpose of sharing her talents
and inspirations with the readers of this newsletter.)
If you like her poetry, visit her website at: http://www.freewebs.com/feedingthesoul/

Autumn in the Blues

by GeorgeAnne Smith


Clouds own the October skies.
Grays of sundry tones
Overwhelm the heavens above.
Songs of feathered brethren
Fade in the air currents that
Assist them southward.

Open landscapes are now dotted by
Desert sagebrush that
Hug distant hills in
Shades, like rusting copper pennies.
In late afternoon, you breathe in
Bits of ice-blue chill, and
Dark of night creeps in early.

Dormant garden spots are withered;
Their green harvests of summer now
Brown as they return to the earth.
Deciduous trees slough the
Fall foliage; in brilliant hues of
Maroon, brick, saffron, and umber.

An autumn palette; a reminder that
Winters white majesty is nigh.

MIGHTY REDWOOD
by GeorgeAnne Smith

(reprinted with permission)

Energy abounds here with elegant grace
I stroll in leisure, this sacred place.
The tall ones stand, giants of the land
Magnificent their stature, their beauty grand.

The mighty Redwood towers high above
Guardian of the forest, home for the dove.
Walk through this land, just feel the power
You can feel their magic, hour after hour.

Allow this peacefulness to have its due
Immerse in the energy known by few
And in the majesty of silence there
Be grateful for the powers that care.

"In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy."

~ William Blake quotes (English visionary Mystic, Poet, Painter and Engraver. 1757-1827)

Image - samhain altar

Samhain Rite for Solitary Pagans

Ancestor Night, Celtic New Year, October 31st

Image - bar

Tools

In addition to your magickal tools, you will need:

* An Orange Altar Cloth
* Cauldron
* 1 Black Taper Goddess Candle
* 1 Black Taper God Candle
* 2 Carved Turnip Candle Holders
* 1 Black Votive Candle
* 1 White Pillar Candle
* 1 Apple
* A Bolline
* A Plate of Fruit
* Vegetables and Breads
* Pictures or Mementos of Departed Loved Ones
* Samhain Incense (Mint, Nutmeg, Apple)

Image - bar

Preparation

Sweep area, moving in a deosil manner. Outline your circle with a black cord, fresh turned earth, or salt. Place the black taper Goddess Candle to the top left on altar. Place the black taper God candle to the top right on altar. Place the black votive candle in the cauldron, positioned on floor in front of the altar. Plate of Fruit, Vegetables, and Breads should be put in-between Goddess and God candles at top center of altar. Apple and Bolline should be placed in center of altar, on a Pentacle if possible. Arrange the rest of your tools and props according to personal preference. Bathe or shower for purification. If you have magickal jewelry or jewelry passed on to you by departed loved ones, this is the ritual to wear it all. Sit and meditate to ground and center. When ready to begin, play some appropriate soothing music for ambiance.

Image - bar

Cast the circle and call Quarters...... invoke the Crone aspect of the Goddess by lighting the black taper Goddess candle and saying:

"Dark Mother, ruler of the night, Goddess of death and rebirth, Hear and behold Your child this night as I honor Thee and Thy realm. I stand humbly before Thee, asking for Thy blessing and favor. Lift, now, the Veil between the worlds, as this time-out-of-time begins, That I may commune with my ancestors as they journey to the Summerlands."

Image - flamepot

Step back from the altar and concentrate on the Goddess candle's flame. Should it rise and flicker, proceed. If not, silently project your wish to commune with your loved ones that have passed on. When you feel that your wish has been acknowledged, invoke the God by lighting the black taper God candle and saying:

"Dark Father, aged Consort of the Crone, Lord of the Underworld, Hear and behold Your child this night as I honor Thee and Thy realm. I stand between Thee and Thy Lady, asking for blessing and favor. As this time-out-of-time approaches, stand ever guard as the Veil lifts, Keep safe my ancestors, and all of my loved ones As they journey to the Summerlands"

Image - flamepot

Step back from the altar and concentrate on the God candle's flame. If it rises and flickers, proceed. If not, silently project your wishes that your loved ones be kept safe on their journey. When you feel that your request has been acknowledged, step back up to the alter and pick up the apple, saying:

"Tonight as the barrier between the two realms grows thin,
Spirits walk amongst us, once again.
They be family, friends and foes,
Pets and wildlife, fishes and crows.
But be we still mindful of the Wee Folke at play,
Elves, fey, brownies, and sidhe."

Image - apple half with star

Cut the apple crosswise with the Bolline to reveal the symbolic pentagram at the core. Take a bite of one half of the apple and set it back on the Pentacle. (This apple and others will be buried outside later, after the ritual is done) Continue:

"Some to trick, some to treat,
Some to purposely misguide our feet.
Stay we on the paths we know
As planting sacred apples we go."

Wand: Pagan Willow

Now take your wand in your projective hand to bless the "Feast of the Dead". Wave it over the plate of fruits, vegetables, and breads, saying:

"This Feast I shall leave on my doorstep all night.
In my window one candle shall burn bright,
To help my loved ones find their way
As they travel this eve, and this night, until day.
Bless my offering, both Lady and Lord
Of breads and fruits, greens and gourd."

Replace the wand on the altar, step back and bow your head. Stay silent for a minute or two as the blessing is given. Proceed by lighting the black votive candle in the cauldron and saying:

"Dark Mother Your cauldron is a well of death and rebirth,
Dark Father Your sword both protects and annihilates.
Hear me now as the past year slowly dies, only to be reborn again.
Today, the last of the Harvests is complete.
This symbolic harvest is of my thought-seeds,
Planted and nurtured throughout this past year.
May the good come to pass and the bad be cast aside.
With Your divine guidance and protection,
I step into the New Year,
May I have good health, prosperity, and happiness."

With the flame of the black votive candle light the white pillar candle, saying:

"As the New Year is born, we are all reborn
With new hopes and dreams.
Guide me in the future as in the past.
Give me strength and courage,
Knowledge and fulfillment,
Assist me as I attempt to achieve my goals."

Image - candle

Snuff the black votive candle and replace it. Remove the white pillar candle from the cauldron and place it in the center of your altar. Stare in to the flame and think about the goals that you are setting for the upcoming year. When done, say:

"Every beginning has an ending,
And every ending is a new beginning.
In Life is Death, and in Death is Life.
Watch over me, my loved ones, and all of my
Brothers and Sisters, here and departed,
Who, tonight are joined together again for
Fellowship and celebration.
Bless us all as we light our bonfires, our hearth fires,
And the eternal fires in our hearts.
Guide us and protect us,
Tonight and throughout the coming year.
Blessed Be! Blessed Be!"

As you say "Blessed Be!" stretch out your arms over your alter as if to embrace all of your ancestors, your departed loved ones, and everyone on Earth. As you say "Blessed Be" again, embrace yourself with a reborn love and pride.

Image - bar

It is now time for meditation and spellworking. Associated spellworkings would include those for protection, self-confidence, and dissuading harm. If there is no spellworking, celebrate with Cakes and Ale, then release the Circle. Clean up. You are done. Leave the white pillar candle burning somewhere it won't be disturbed. Some use it as the single candle in their window, but I leave it on my altar and use an electric candle in the window to dissuade a fire!

Image - bar

***This Samhain Ritual and Planner are dedicated to MyztkM'jyk as she begins her
Year and a Day study. We wish her wisdom and fulfillment...

--Adapted by: Akasha Ap Emrys for all of her friends and those of like mind.--
Copyright © 1997-99 Akasha, Herne and The Celtic Connection wicca.com. All rights reserved.

"Many of the phenomena of Winter are suggestive of an inexpressible tenderness
and fragile delicacy.
We are accustomed to hear this king described as a rude and boisterous tyrant;
but with the gentleness of a lover he adorns the tresses of Summer."

~~ Henry David Thoreau

Image - cader idris

The Wide-Spun Moment

Ecstasy and Madness in Celtic Tradition

© Mara Freeman 1998
(reprinted with permission)

There is a high mountain in North Wales called Cader Idris, the chair of the giant Idris, who had a liking for the stars. Although it is a pleasant enough climb of sheep-cropped turf and rocky outcrops by day, the legend goes that to spend a night there will cause you either to die, go mad or become a poet. For Cader Idris is one of those sacred Celtic mountains, hills or barrows that can lead the traveler into bourns from which they may, if unprepared, not return.

Image - cader idrisThe legend of Cader makes evident how thin the line is that separates ecstasy, madness and death in Celtic tradition. Early literature abounds with examples from real life and legend, both of people who have purposefully trained in techniques of ecstasy, and those whom fate has carelessly hurled outside the confines of ordinary consciousness.

Among the highest-ranking men in early Ireland were the Filidh, a title meaning both 'poet' and 'seer.' The word itself comes from the root 'to see,' for to the Celts, vision and poetry - the rapture of illumination and the inspired voicing of it - were inseparable; the in-breath and out-breath of the ecstatic experience.

As in Eurasian shamanic cultures, the Fili was trained in mantic techniques that taught him how to leave his body to ascend to the sky or descend to the underworld to communicate with spirits and the dead, for as Irish scholar Daithi ÒhÒgáin writes, the Irish poet-seer "was a mediator between the supernatural powers and the human race" who displayed many of the traits of the shaman. The ecstatic journeys of the Irish druids and Filidh (their functions were often interchangeable) was to gain imbas, roughly translated as "knowledge which enlightens," which was seen as a gift from "the god that kindles fire in the head." The treasures they brought back from these realms might be poetry or prophecy - hidden truths with which they returned to enlighten the tribe. The Christian church put an end to most of these practices, so we have only a few brief but tantalizing glimpses of what must have once constituted a substantial living body of magical knowledge.

In one story, for example, we hear how the great druid Mog Ruith embarks upon ecstatic soul-flight:

Mog Ruith's skin of the hornless, dun-coloured bull was brought to him then and his speckled bird-dress with its winged flying, and his druidic gear besides. And he rose up, in company with the fire, into the air and the heavens…

To enter an inspired trance dressed in bird costume was a common technique of Siberian shamans, for as Mircea Eliade comments:

"Birds are psychopomps. Becoming a bird oneself or being accompanied by a bird indicates the capacity, while still alive, to undertake the ecstatic journey to the sky and the beyond."

But this was only one of the many paths that took druids and filidh through the gates of the Image - shepherdOtherworld. They might have traveled by the road of darkness and dreams as described in a 10th century glossary: The poet lies on his back with his hands over his eyes and invokes the spirits to come to him. He stays in this position for three days and nights, guarded by watchers who make sure he doesn't turn over. This is reminiscent of the classic position for incubatory sleep used in the Asclepian healing temples of Ancient Greece, because it bestows sleep only deep enough for significant dreams to be recalled easily on awakening. A similar technique was in use much later in the Bardic schools of 17th century Scotland where, according to a traveler's account:

"They [the Bards] shut their Doors and Windows for a Days time, and lie on their backs with a Stone upon their Belly, and Plads about their Heads, and their Eyes being cover'd they pump their Brains for Rhetorical Encomium or Panegyrick; and indeed they furnish such a Stile from this Dark Cell as is understood by very few..."

Special foods or drinks may have been consumed as a means to ecstatic consciousness. The Celts were from Indo-European tradition and most likely had their own version of the mysterious drink of the Vedic people: soma, which was personified as 'lord of speech', and as a poet, seer and sage. The word for drunkenness, meisce, signified both "intoxication" and "inspirational ecstasy" in Old Irish, and in later days at least, it was fully expected of any serious Irish poet that he would "add strength to his flights of genius" by downing several jugs prior to composition.

If the juice of the barley kindled "fire in the head" of later poets, in earlier times the brew of inspiration may have been a mead made from hazels, the tree most associated with poetry and magic in the Celtic world. Many early Irish tales describe poets and seers as "gaining the nuts of wisdom" from hazels, while Scottish druids were said to eat the nuts to gain prophetic powers. Image - ceridwen, cauldronHazel mead was said to be a powerful intoxicant, and even to this day there are country-dwellers who believe hazelnuts to have divinatory powers, and use them in fortune-telling games at Halloween.

Whether the Celts, like the Norse, drank an actual "Mead of Poetry" we will never know, but eating and drinking magical substances is also clearly a metaphor for imbibing the wisdom of the Otherworld. Early Irish literature abounds with tales of heroes who venture into the Otherworld and gain its wisdom by drinking from a wonder-working cup or well. And Welsh Bardic literature frequently refers to the "cauldron of inspiration" which contains a mysterious substance called awen, the Welsh equivalent of imbas. Awen literally means "flowing spirit" and is bestowed only by the generosity of Ceridwen, the poets' muse and mistress of the cauldron. An early poem by a Welsh bard describes his experience of awen when he taps into its powerful force:

"The Awen I sing,
From the deep I bring it,
A river while it flows,
I know its extent;
I know when it disappears;
I know when it fills;
I know when it overflows;
I know when it shrinks;
I know what base
There is beneath the sea."

Here the source of awen is in the depths of the sea, a traditional location for the Celtic Otherworld. But it emerges also from the depths of the poet himself, who may have drunk the "intoxicating mead" of the druids. The flowing drink from cauldron or cup sets into motion the flowing spirit from deep within.

One class of Welsh people acted as oracles when filled with awen. In the 12th century, the traveling monk, Giraldus Cambriensis, met these Awenyddion on his journey through Wales. He recounts:

"When you consult them about some problem, they immediately go into a trance and lose control of their senses... They do not answer the question put to them in a logical way. Words stream from their mouths, incoherently and apparently meaningless and lacking any sense at all, but all the same well expressed: and if you listen carefully to what they say you will receive the solution to your problem. When it is all over, they will recover from their trance, as if they were ordinary people waking from a heavy sleep, but you have to give them a good shake before they regain control of themselves... and when they do return to their senses they can remember nothing of what they have said in the interval... They seem to receive this gift of divination through visions that they see in their dreams. Some of them have the impression that honey or sugary milk is being smeared on their mouths; others say that a sheet of paper with words written on it is pressed against their lips..."

As we have seen from the legend of Cader Idris, special places in the landscape were gateways to the Otherworld, and could be entered in a state of trance or sleep. These might be hills or burial-mounds known to be frequented by faeries or ancestral spirits, or sometimes by riversides or on the sea, since water led down into the underworld. The sleeper usually experienced being taken to a magical land by a faery woman who became his mistress and muse, and bestowed the gift of poetry and prophecy upon him. This was most likely to happen when the turning of the year from one season to another left the gates to the Otherworld ajar: at Beltane (May 1st) or Samhain (November 1st) – the threshold times.

Such journeys take the inner traveler out of time, seeming to last for hundreds of years, when only a night has passed. Or as Irish writer James Stephens described it in his retelling of a story about Fionn McCumhaill:

"In truth we do not go to Faery, we become Faery, and in the beating of a pulse we may live for a year or a thousand years. But when we return the memory is quickly clouded, and we seem to have had a dream or even seen a vision, although we have verily been in Faery. It is wonderful, then, that Fionn should have remembered all that happened to him in that wide-spun moment."

Fionn, who gained imbas by drinking from an Otherworld well or by eating the Salmon of Wisdom according to different accounts, was a true poet-seer who could alter consciousness at will, and bring full remembrance of the ecstatic state back into the everyday world. But there are others in Celtic tradition who were blasted open by forces so strong that ever after the gates to the Otherworld hung loosely on their hinges, swinging wildly in the wind that blew through their minds.

In Ireland these people were known as geilt, probably meaning "wild." Many of them lived in Glenn Bolcan, a valley in County Kerry where "all the lunatics in Ireland" were supposed to be. They lived as wild men, foraging for roots and watercress, in kinship with the animals. Stories about the geilt and their British counterparts often recount how it was the horrors of war caused them to lose their minds.

The most famous of these was Suibhne, once king of Dalriada, who, during a battle was beset with terrifying visions:

"Huge, flickering, horrible aerial phantoms rose up, so that they were in cursed, commingled clouds tormenting him, hovering, fiend-like hosts constantly in motion, shrieking and howling."

Image - suibhneSuibhne rises up out of the battlefield, and flies away to the forest where he proceeds to turn his back on mankind, and to herd with deer, run along with the showers, and flee with the birds, and to feast in wildernesses."

The shattering of his mind sentences him to a life of stark alienation from society, but has also unlocked for him the gifts of poetry and seership. Like the druid Mog Ruith, he now is able to fly to the upper world like a bird, and he makes his home in a yew tree dressed in feathers reminiscent of the druid's cloak. Here God speaks to him, granting him prophetic knowledge "every morning and every evening."

He describes his life in the woods in verse of heartfelt intensity and poignant beauty. When he is told that his wife is sharing his bed with the pretender to his kingdom, he asks her to come and see him, and recites poems to her about their past life - poems that are considered among the most beautiful in Irish literature. But madness is never far away, and periods of exquisite clarity give way to insane visions: headless bodies and bodiless heads, streaming blood, come screaming and leaping towards him, talking about him among themselves and clutching at him till he escapes "into the filmy clouds of the sky."

More than one scholar has compared Suibhne and the geilt to novice shamans whose first entry into ecstatic states is a disorienting and terrifying experience that sends them fleeing into the wilderness. Among some Siberian communities, experienced shamans would teach these sensitives how to control such states and integrate them within their lives for the benefit of the tribe.

Another famous mad poet-seer was Merlin, in early Welsh literature termed "Wyllt," the Wild. LongImage - merlin before he appeared as the wise magician of Arthurian legend, his history was recounted in the 12th century by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his Vita Merlini whose opening lines declare: "I set myself to sing of the madness of the bard of prophecy."

Like Suibhne, Merlin was a king who went mad at the horror of seeing so many of his friends and family slaughtered in a battle. He too becomes "wood-wild" and spends his days wandering through the great forest of Celydon, with a gray wolf by his side. He suffers harsh freezing winters foraging for food, and whenever the occasional traveler chances to catch sight of him, he runs away. His chief refuge is an apple-tree that seems to have magical properties, because when he is in it, none of the search parties can find him. Here, according to a Welsh text, he composes many prophetic poems, mostly full of grim warnings of the doom that would come upon Wales at the hands of the English, but made personal and touching by each verse being addressed to another beloved companion, a small wild pig:

"Oh little piglet,
oh blissful sow,
don't take your morning nap,
don't rummage in the undergrowth,.
if you saw
the sheer violence
that I saw,
you wouldn't sleep in the morning."

For a short while, he recovers his sanity when his brother-in-law, Rodarch, sends a musician to sing and play to him:

"Little by little as he played, he coaxed the madman to put by his wild mood under the sweet spell of the zither."

But when he returns to court with the minstrel and sees the crowds of people waiting to greet him, he "went mad; and once more his derangement filled him with a desire to go off to the forest, and he longed to slip away."

At length his sister Ganieda, realizing that nothing will persuade him to return to the life of the court, builds for him in the forest a house of glass. Here he wanders by night, gazing at the stars and singing the prophecies he learns from them. And unlike Suibhne, who meets with a violent end, Merlin at last recovers his sanity by drinking from a healing spring. In his prayer of thanks to God for this miracle, he rejoices that he is no longer plagued by an ecstasy that gave him no peace:

"I was taken out of my true self; I was as a spirit and knew the history of people long past and could foretell the future. I knew then the secrets of nature, bird flight, star wanderings and the way fish glide. This distressed me and, by a hard law, deprived me of the rest that is natural to the human mind. Now I am myself again, and I feel strong in me that life with which my spirit had always filled my limbs."

For to live in the forest like these "wild men of the woods," is to pay allegiance to the untamed Image - cader idrishinterland of consciousness, the rich but dangerous preserves of the mind that lie beyond the well-paved courts of consensus reality. The dense and often trackless medieval forest represents a halfway state between this world and the Otherworld, and Suibhne and Merlin in their trees also live suspended above the ground, not unlike certain early hermits of the Middle East who lived on top of columns to be closer to heaven. The crazy poet-seers literally lived on the very threshold of the Otherworld, but unlike the trained filidh, had no ability to close its gates at will. As Welsh country-people knew for centuries: to spend the night on Cader Idris is to be close to the brilliance of the stars, but also within reach of the cwm annwn, the Hounds of Hell that fly above its crest hunting for souls.

You can buy Mara's CD's here

Visit her website at:
http://www.celticspirit.org/

Image: Filidh - http://elfwood.lysator.liu.se/art/j/c/jchan/filidh.jpg.html

Image: faerygateway2 - http://elfwood.lysator.liu.se/art/u/k/uktara2/fairygateway2.jpg.html

Image: Suibhne - http://www.celtic-twilight.com/ireland/suibhne/index.htm

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."

~~ Albert Camus

Tarot Blessing

This is a blessing to say when you are shuffling tarot cards, to make the reading work out better, and to see the meanings of the cards more clearly:

"Silver moonlight, and Sunlight of Gold,
Light my way clearly as the cards unfold,
Show me the subconscious,
And secrets untold.

Show me what the past, the present and future doth hold,
Let me see clearly the cards meanings,
Be they bright and warm, dark or cold,
God and Goddess be with me, and bless me as the cards unfold.
So Mote it be!"

~~ Source Unknown ~~

"The English winter - ending in July,
To recommence in August."


~~ Lord Byron

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND:
REFORMED DRUIDISM 101 - THE ONLINE COURSE

Yes it's back, and the Samhain session of RD 101 is well under way, this time with 11 seekers. We're trying something new this time: team teaching, with 4 experienced Druids teaching this session.

Another new innovation is that we're charging a $12 fee, which includes a personal copy of Stranger In A Strange Land. The fee is applicable to the student's dues if s/he should later decide to join OMS.

The next online RD 101 class begins November 16, 2006. This next class is unique in that it will introduce the student to the Reformed Druids of Gaia - and most of the references to Stranger in a Strange Land, and to the OMS, have been eliminated.

To enroll online in the November session, go to http://rdg.mithrilstar.org/d101.htm There is a $3 fee for enrollment, applicable to your initiation fee should you decide to join the RDG later on.

"The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event.
You go to bed in one kind of world and wake up in another quite different,
and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?"


~~ J. B. Priestley (1894 - 1984) English author, dramatist

Image - crone

The Charge of the Crone

by Gypsy and Riverhawk
(reprinted with permission)

Hear the words of the Grandmother of Time:
She who has been known as
Hecate, Erishkagel, Cerridwen, Kali-Ma,
Anna, Perenna, Spider Woman,
and many other names -
some feared, and some loved,
but none ever ignored.

She it is who brings wisdom and
the awareness of eternity.
She has been the Maiden, and remembers that joy.
She has been the Mother, and recalls that pleasure.

But age has changed her,
and taught her the mysteries of
the Wheel that is ever turning,
the Wheel that is life, death, and rebirth.
She is the whirling tornado, the erupting volcano,
the rising tidal wave, the trembling of the earth's crust.

With age comes an understanding of the past,
and a glimpse of the future.
For, in the turning of the Wheel,
the past is the future,
and the future is the past.

She is the Learned One, the Teacher,
the Bringer of Inevitable Change.
She is the Dark of the Moon, the Hidden One,
the invisible unknown that lies ahead.
But do not fear her for she is not malicious,
and her touch, however harsh, is love.

Only in ignorance is she scorned and reviled.
Those who do not know her,
parody her as the ugly old woman
whose powers were said to blight crops
and sour the milk in the cow.

It is fear that turns her age into abomination,
her wrinkles into hideous deformity,
and her voice into an evil and manipulative cackle.
For those who sought power over the earth were afraid
to face her wisdom and her unalterable truth.

But in the old days, we sat at her feet to learn the most ancient lore.
From her came the knowledge of the healing herbs,
and the chants and songs that shaped our lives.
She sat in honour at our councils, our marketplaces, in our homes.
She governed our governing, and interpreted our laws.
She gave focus to our changing seasons.

She was our teacher, our oracle, our promise of rebirth.
Come, honour her as of old,
listen now to the words of Wise One,
the ancient Seer, the Crone!

Image - crone

"One kind word can warm three winter months."

~~ Japanese Proverb

RD 202 - The ARDA Revealed

We began a new class, Reformed Druidism 202 this season, whose purpose is to explore the massive tome known as A Reformed Druid Anthology. RD 202 is currently under way with 8 students and a teaching team of three. The course is loosly based on Michael Scharding's 12-step self-study, found in Volume 1 of ARDA.

We're charging a modest fee of $3, which includes your own personal copy of the Druid Super Disk, which contains two versions of ARDA plus numerous volumes of other Reformed Druid materials compiled by RDNA archivist Michael Scharding. This fee is applicable to your initiation fee should you decide to join the Reformed Druids of Gaia.

The current session is now closed to new students, since it's far enough along as to impose a hardship on anyone joining this late and tyring to catch up with the class.

Another session will begin next year at about this same time.

"Look! the massy trunks Are cased in the pure crystal;
Each light spray, nodding and tinkling in the breath of heaven,
Is studded with its trembling water-drops,
That glimmer with an amethystine light."

~~ William Cullen Bryant, A Winter Piece

"Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty."

~~ Stanislaw J. Lec (1909 - 1966) Polish aphorist, poet, satirist

Earth Song

Listen to things more often than beings.
Hear the voice of the fire,
hear the voice of the water,
Listen in the wind to the sighing of the bush:
This is the ancestors breathing.

Those who are dead are never gone;
The dead are not down in the earth:
They are in the trembling of the trees,
In the groaning of the woods,
In the water that runs,
in the water that sleeps,
They are in the hut,
they are in the crowd.

Those who are dead are not ever gone;
They are in the woman's breast,
they are in the wailing of a child,
They are in the burning log
and in the moaning rock.
They are in the weeping grasses,
in the forest and the home.

Listen to things more often than beings.
Hear the voice of fire,
hear the voice of water.
Listen in the wind to the sighing of the bush.
This is the ancestors breathing.

(traditional song from Senegal)

"Have you ever noticed a tree standing naked against the sky,
How beautiful it is?
All its branches are outlined, and in its nakedness
There is a poem, there is a song.
Every leaf is gone and it is waiting for the spring.
When the spring comes, it again fills the tree with
The music of many leaves,
Which in due season fall and are blown away.
And this is the way of life."


~~ Krishnamurti

WOODS AND THEIR MAGICKAL USES

Oak

The oak tree is the tree of Zeus, Jupiter, Hercules, The Dagda (The Chief of the Elder Irish gods), Thor and all other Thunder Gods. The royalty of the Oak needs no enlarging upon. The Oak is the tree of endurance and triumph, and like the Ash, is said to count the lightings' flash. The Oak is a male wood, which is ideal for the construction of any tool that needs the male influence such as Athames, certain wands and staffs. The midsummer fire is always Oak and the need fire is always kindled in an Oak log.

Occult Aspects:
Endurance, triumph, strength, power, dominion, prosperity, sacrifice, guardian, liberator.

Birch

With the exception of the mysterious elder, the Birch is the earliest of the forest trees. The Birch is used extensively in cleansing rituals. Throughout Europe, Birch twigs are used to expel evil spirits. Birch rods are also used in rustic rituals to drive out the spirits of the old year.

Occult Aspects:
Controlled by the Lunar influences. Birth, healing, Lunar workings, and protection.

Hazel

The Hazel is a tree of wisdom. In England, all the knowledge of the arts and sciences were bound to the eating of Hazel nuts. Until the seventeenth century, a forked Hazel stick was used to divine the guilt of persons in cases of murder and theft. We have retained the practice of divining for water and buried treasure.

Occult Aspects:
Wisdom, intelligence, inspiration, wrath.

Alder

The Alder is the tree of fire. In the battle of the trees, the Alder fought in the very front line. It is described as the very "battle witch" of all woods, the tree that is hottest in the fight. From the alder, you can make three different dyes, red from its bark, green from its flowers, and brown from its twigs; this symbolizes the elements of fire, water and earth. The Alder wood is the wood of the witches. Whistles may be made of this wood to summon and control the four winds. It is also the ideal wood for making the magical pipes and flutes. To prepare the wood for use, beat the bark away with a willow stick while projecting your wishes into it. The Alder is a token of resurrection.

Occult Aspects:
Controlling the four winds, banishing and controlling elementals, resurrection. Making magical dyes.

Ivy / Vine

The Ivy was sacred to Osiris as well as to Dionysus. Vine and Ivy come next to each other at the turn of the year, and are jointly connected to resurrection. Presumably, this is because they are the only two trees that grow spirally. The Vine also symbolizes resurrection because its strength is preserved in the wine.

Occult Aspects:
(Vine) Faerie work, Joy, Exhilaration, Wrath, Rebirth.
(Ivy) Fidelity, Constancy, Love, Intoxication.

Yew

The Yew is known as the death tree in all European countries. Sacred to Hecate in Greece and Italy. Yew wood makes excellent bows, as the Romans learned from the Greeks. This strengthened the belief that Yew was connected with death. Its use in England is recalled in Macbeth where Hecate's cauldron contained:"...Slips of Yew, slivered in the moon eclipse.” The Silver Fir of birth and the Yew of death are sisters. They stand next to each other in the circle of the year and their foliage is almost identical.

Occult Aspects:
Destructive workings concerning death. Not recommended for magical tools. "...for I am the tomb to every hope.

Rowan

The Rowan is seen as the tree of life. It is also known as Mountain Ash, Quickbeam, The Witch or Witch Wand. In the British Isles, Rowan is used as a protection against lightning and magical charms of all sorts. In ancient Ireland, the Druids of opposing forces would kindle a fire of Rowan and say an incantation over it to summon spirits to take part in the battle. The Rowan is also used for many healing purposes. The "Quickbeam" is the tree of quickening. Another use was in metal divining. In Ireland, a Rowan stake was hammered through a corpse to immobilize the spirit.

Occult Aspects:
Divination, healing, astral work, protection.

Ash

The Ash is sacred to Poseidon and Woden. The Ash is considered to be the father of trees. The Ash is the tree of sea power, or of the power resident in water. Special guardian spirits reside in the Ash; this makes it excellent for absorbing sickness. The spirally carved druidical wand was made of Ash for this purpose.

Occult Aspects:
Sea power, karmic laws, magical potency, healing, protection from drowning.

Pine

External symbol of life and immortality. It is one of the few trees that are androgynous. It was also worshiped by the ancients as a symbol of fire because of its resemblance to a spiral of flame. It is regarded as a very soothing tree to be near.

Occult Aspects:
Strength, life and immortality, rejuvenation.

Willow

The Willow was sacred to Hecate, Circe, Hera, and Persephone, all death aspects of the Triple Moon Goddess, and was often used by the Witches in Greece. The moon owns it. Female symbol. It is the tree that loves water most and is sacred to the Moon Goddess who is the giver of dew and moisture, generally. The Willow is the tree of enchantment. Can be made into a tool to make wishes come true.

Occult Aspects:
Moon magic, psychic energy, healing, inspiration.

Elder

A waterside tree, the Elder has white flowers that bloom to their peak in midsummer (as is also true for the Rowan) thus making the Elder another aspect of the White Goddess. The Elder is also said to be the crucifixion tree. The inner bark and the flowers have long been famous for their therapeutic qualities.

Occult Aspects:
Witchcraft, banishment, magical art, waters of life.

Hawthorn

The Whitethorn or Hawthorn or May Witch takes its name from the May. It is a generally unlucky tree and its name, translated from the Irish Brehon Laws, had the meaning "harm". The Goddess, under the name Cardea, cast spells with the Hawthorn. In many cultures, the month of the Hawthorn (May) is a month of bad luck for marriages. The Hawthorn blossom, for many men, has the strong scent of female sexuality and was used by the Turks as an erotic symbol. The monks of Glastonbury perpetuated it and sanctified it with an approving tale that the staff of Joseph and the Crown of thorns were made of Hawthorn.

Occult Aspects:
Purification, enforced chastity, male potency, cleansing.

Holly

Holly means "holy". The identification of the pacific Christ with the Holly is poetically inept, as it is the Oak king, not the Holly king that is crucified on a
T-shaped cross. The Holly has many uses form making a dye from its berries to being used as an aphrodisiac.

Occult Aspects:
Holiness, consecration, material gain, physical revenge, beauty.

White Poplar

The tree of the Autumn Equinox and of old age is the shifting leaved White Poplar, or Aspen, The shield makers tree. Heracles bound his head in triumph with popular after killing the giant Cacus (the evil one). The Black poplar was a funeral tree sacred to the Mother Earth. Plato makes a reference to the use of Black poplar and Silver Fir as an aid in divination. The Silver Fir standing for hope assured and the Black Poplar for loss of hope. In ancient Ireland, the coffin makers measuring rod was made of Aspen, apparently to remind the dead that this was not the end.

Occult Aspects:
Hope, rebirth, divinations.

Redwood

Coast Redwoods are the tallest tree species and among the largest living organisms ever to inhabit the Earth. Redwoods are named for the beautiful red color of their bark and heartwood. Individual coast redwood trees can live for hundreds of years. In some areas of their range, they can live more than two thousand years. The oldest recorded coast redwood is 2,200 years old. Redwood trees are true "living fossils," having existed largely unchanged for millions of years. Redwood fossils as old as 160 million years have been found throughout the western United States and Canada and along the coasts of Europe and Asia. Close ancestors of the coast redwood have been living since dinosaurs first appeared. Although redwoods can grow from seeds, they more commonly reproduce from sprouts. New trees can sprout from the roots of parent trees, from buds at the base of a tree, or from a fallen tree. If a tree is cut or burned, a circle of trees may sprout from the stump, forming a "fairy ring" of new trees.

Occult Aspects:
Longevity, endurance, vision, perspective.

Almond

Almond has a very sweet natural being. Aids in self-protection.

Occult Aspects:
Fruitfulness, virginity.

Apple

It is an old English custom to drink to the health of the Apple tree with a good glass of cider all in hopes of encouraging the tree to produce a good crop next year.

Occult Aspects:
Fertility.

Coconut

The Coconut is feminine and very fertile. The shell represents the womb, and the milk, fertility.

Occult Aspects:
Protection from negative psychic forces.

Fig

The Fig is androgynous. The fruit representing the feminine and the triple lobed leaves suggest the masculine force.

Occult Aspects:
Balance.

Mistletoe

The mistletoe was sacred to the Druids and to the Norse. It was considered to be the great healer and has both male and female qualities. It was so well regarded by the Norse (because it was sacred to Freya) that they refused to fight in the vicinity of Mistletoe. The custom of hanging Mistletoe in the house to promote peace comes from this. Generally regarded today as a symbol of love and purity.

Occult Aspects:
Love, fertility, sexual potency.

Palm

Is regarded as particularly powerful because of its incredible durability and because it is self renewing, never changing its leaves. Aids in rejuvenation.

Occult Aspects:
Resurrection, and the cycle and matrix of life.

Peach

The Peach is an emblem of marriage.

Occult Aspects:
Abundance, fruitfulness, happiness.

~~ Source Unknown ~~

"The trees down the boulevard stand naked in thought,
Their abundant summery wordage silenced, caught
In the grim undertow; naked the trees confront
Implacable winter's long, cross-questioning brunt."


~~ D. H. Lawrence, Winter in the Boulevard, 1916

The Ritual

by Lone Wolf
(reprinted with permission)

Merry Meet and Merry Part
Till once more meet anon
For ere we meet our life complete
When th' Lady's work be done

So grab your wand and goblet
And journey to sacred grove
For through the river freely run
The Horned God nears the cove

Cast the Circle, set the table
Dei'ty joins us soon
Dance around the sacred altar
To ask th' Lady's boon

When moonlight sheds her glowing rays
'Cross all within the Ring
We shall know our Lady's ways
And hear Her melodious sing

Joining do we hand to hand,
As hand from hand we close
For the Ancients' celebration
And the truth in part we know

"Green thoughts emerge from some deep source of stillness
which the very fact of winter has released."


~~ Mirabel Osler

The Druid's Egg newsletter is supported by our online store:


Avalon Risen is proud to offer members of the Reformed Druids of Gaia a 5% rebate on any order over $30 from our "AG" collection. To sign up with RDG and begin saving with us, surf over to http://rdg.mithrilstar.org/join.htm today!

Members of the Order of the Mithril Star can save even more! We're offering OMS members a 10% rebate on any order over $30 from our "AG" collection. To sign up with OMS, surf over to http://mithrilstar.org/join.htm

(Note: rebate applies to "AG" items only. Avalon Risen cannot rebate on items purchased through our Amazon.com affiliation)

"So with the stretch of the white road before me,
Shining snow crystals rainbowed by the sun,
Fields that are white, stained with long, cool, blue shadows,
Strong with the strength of my horse as we run.
Joy in the touch of the wind and the sunlight!
Joy! With the vigorous earth I am one."


~~ Amy Lowell, A Winter Ride

SAMHAIN

© Dame Niamh )O( Gealach
High Priestess, Sisters of the Burning Branch
Sisters of the Silver Star, Circle of the Silver Hive

(reprinted with permission)

I am a twist of black paper
Dancing in a wind-eddy.

Blown three times round the gatepost,
Wrapped briefly round the lamppost
Hanging by wingtip from a branch
Plié into a puddle on the pavement.

I am a shout that bells around the corner
Ricochets diminished from the bushes,
Whistles down a chimney,
Chuckles in the porch-eaves,
Murmurs blending into the wind.

I am a shape-changing shadow
I whisk along behind a loping cat,
I solidify in corners, melt in streetlights,
Flit across the round-faced moon,
Fingering the rime round the moon,
Whispering a rhyme round the moon.

I am a figment of the night's imagination,
A clown-face suspended in midair
To exorcise your ghosts,
To invite your dear departed to Dumb Supper,
To remember the sweet departed on this night,
And howl off hooting into the tunnel of night.

"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth,
for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire -
it is the time for home."


~~ Dame Edith Sitwell

Samháin Colcannon

© Dame Niamh )O( Gealach
High Priestess, Sisters of the Burning Branch
Sisters of the Silver Star, Circle of the Silver Hive

(reprinted with permission)


For every person, a large potato. Peel and cut in quarters. Have a big pot of boiling water, well salted, handy. For every 2 people, half a yellow onion (the strong kind). Peel and cut in quarters. You don't want the potatoes to turn into mush!

Shred a large head of regular cabbage, cut out the core. Throw into the water with the potatoes and onions, and cook till potatoes are done.

In a saucepan, heat whole milk and a half stick of butter (you may want more). Drain the potatoes, onions and cabbage and put in a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher or if you have a food mill, you can use that too.
Slowly add milk and butter and mix till well combined. A sprinkling of pepper is good on top. This is filling and goes well with everything.

If anything is left over, mix it with an egg and some bread crumbs and fry it in croquettes!

"Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things,
but just look what they can do when they stick together."


~~ Vesta M. Kelly

'Goddess of the Western Isle'

The Goddess of the Western Isles is a deity of great wisdom and mystery, one of the most ancient of forms of the Goddess in our islands. She is the guardian and mistress of the underworld. It is through Her that we must pass to seek rebirth after death.

She has great power but also much love and understanding. We feel her touch when the wind blows from the northwest, hear her voice in the waves of the western ocean.

She has a secret name, is a changer of shape, her power is greatest at Samhain. To love her is to discover a profound sense of the real beauty in the mystery of the wheel of the seasons, creation and the great Goddess. The constellation of stars associated with the Goddess of the Western Isle is Corvus.


"The tendinous part of the mind, so to speak, is more developed in winter; the fleshy, in summer.
I should say winter had given the bone and sinew to literature, summer the tissues and the blood."


~~ John Burroughs, The Snow-Walkers

Dispatches from RDG's Autonomous Collectives

In celebration of this very special Samhain, Rogue Rescue is opening a memorial section to those wishing to publish memorials of their departed beloved animal companions. Beginning October 31, these can be viewed at: http://home.earthlink.net/~roguerescue

As many know, Rogue Rescue is a community service project of Clan of the Triple Horses - http://home.earthlink.net/~triplehorses/ - an RDG group based in southern Oregon . This memorial section will be permanent, and it is our hope it will give a crumb of comfort to those grieving, as well assure them they are not the only one who feels the deep bond that humans can make with animals. We will be welcoming submissions on an ongoing basis. Please feel free to send jpeg pictures, poetry or brief paragraphs about your departed pet to triplehorses@gmail.com

The Mother Grove of the RDG will honor the Season of the Crone by holding its celebration on Friday, November 3rd, at the abode of the Arch-Druid Ceridwen and Scribe, El. At this time we will fully integrate our newest local member Darkcryst into the fold, as well as having our traditional "Dinner & Divination" with the other members in attendance.

This will be followed by healing and magick, and any seasonal business the Grove needs to deal with - which will mostly involve plans for RDG's role in the New Year...

"In a way Winter is the real Spring - the time when the inner things happen;
the resurgence of nature."


~~ Edna O'Brien

Remembrance Cookies

These cookies can be made on Hallow's Eve. They can be shaped like people and the herb rosemary is added to the dough as a symbol of remembrance. Some of the cookies are eaten while telling stories or attributes of special ancestors, reminding us that we still have access to their strengths--or perhaps a predisposition to their weaknesses. The rest of the cookies are left outside by a bonfire as an offering. This can be a solemn ritul, but it need not be.

Ingredients for the cookies:

* 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
* 1 c. butter or margarine (softened)
* 1 egg
* 2 t. vanilla
* 1 t. almond extract
* 2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
* 1 t. baking soda
* 1 t. cream of tartar
* 1 1/2 T. chopped rosemary

Heat oven 375 degrees. In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter, egg, vanilla, almond extract, and rosemary until creamy. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Fold flour mixture into sugar mixture. Beat until dough forms and refrigerate for three hours. Divide dough into halves. Roll out one portion to 3/16 of an inch on a floured surface. Cut out with gingerbread women or men cutters and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat rolling and cutting with second portion. Bake for 5-7 minutes.

Source: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Parthenon/7039/AshlinCC.html

"Nature chose for a tool, not the earthquake or lightning to rend and split asunder,
not the stormy torrent or eroding rain,
but the tender snow-flowers noiselessly falling through unnumbered centuries."

~~ John Muir

WELCOME TO THE YEAR OF THE GAIAN REFORM 01

Back at the beginning of the Reform, the students at Carleton decided that their movement was significant and important enough to mark it with it's own epoch, and thus was born the 4 month calendar of the RDNA. On this new calendar, 1963 was year "1" or YR (Year of the Reform) 01. Years prior to that were designated "BR" or "Before the Reform" and ran backwards, so 1960 was BR 03, 1959 was BR 04 etc. The first day of the new calendar was Beltane of 1963, and this coming Beltane of the secular year (or c.e. (common era)) will begin YR 45.

The Reformed Druids of Gaia was born this past Mabon. It was decided that this event marked the beginning of a new Druid epoch, a significant turn in the evolution of the Reform movement important enough that it should merit it's own epoch. Thus, the calendar of the Reform has been reset and so we are once again at year 01. In this case, YGR 01 (or Year of the Gaian Reform 01), marking the beginning of the first year of the RDG. The New Gaian Year will begin on Samhain, 2006 c.e., in keeping with the Celtic custom of marking the New Year at this time.

You can keep track of the new Reformed Druid calendar at: http://rdg/mithrilstar.org/calendar.htm

"The stag bells, winter snows, summer has gone
Wind high and cold, the sun low, short its course
The sea running high.
Deep red the bracken; its shape is lost;
The wild goose has raised its accustomed cry,
Cold has seized the birds' wings;
Season of ice, this is my news.
"

~~ Irish poem, 9th Century

THE STATE OF THE REFORM
NEW YEARS DAY Y.G.R. 01

As of today 295 Druids have registered with the RDG:

135 members are First Degree Druids.
25 members are initiated Second Degree Druids
6 members are eligible for ordination into the Third Degree
12 members are ordained Third Degree Druids

During B.G.R. 01, we experienced a net membership gain of 143

Total Groves chartered: 2 (+ 2 new Proto-Groves)
Total US Members: 269
Total Canadian Members: 12
Total UK Members: 7
Total International Members: 24
Total Countries represented: 9
Total US States represented: 37
Total Canadian Provinces represented: 6
Top 5 US States: CA=16, OR=19, WA=12, FL=11, NY=7

"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape -
the loneliness of it - the dead feeling of winter.
Something waits beneath it - the whole story doesn't show.
"

~~ Andrew Wyeth

Regeneration

by Alison Katherine Jones

Deep in the spiral depths,
held by the arms of mystery,
I wait. But what am I?
All flesh and bone are diminished
to nothing in the fire that forges freedom,
in the release of darkness, (where time and
tide are long forgotten), not dreaming,
but being.

And history stirs a circular motion,
a path of unending doom and glory,
of the passage of great nations, civilizations,
heroes, heroines, the greats, all risen and fallen
again to dust, ground beneath the feet of time's progress.

In this blackened silence, particles shift and weave
their threads together, into a swaddling shawl, ready
to receive the story of new beginning.

Small, shriveled, wet with morning dew,
life knocks a rhythm, incessant in my chest.
Here in the heart of the cauldron am I,
a sum of many parts, joyfully waiting
to be born.


"Turn down the noise. Reduce the speed. Be like the somnolent bears,
or those other animals that slow down and almost die in the cold season.
Let it be the way it is. The magic is there in its power.
"

~~ Henry Mitchell

The Nine

by Lone Wolf
(reprinted with permission)

All your life
The Nine surround you
The heart that listens to the Nine
Can see into itself
In a stormy night when nothing is right
Or a calm day when clouds are white
The Nine are there to guide me
Eastern Dragonfly, he who guides my Dreams
Southern Elk, of strong vitality
Western Lynx, keeper of Secrets and Time
Northern Beaver, of family and home and actions
Above me, Buffalo; prayer, strength and abundance
Below me, Frog; honor and cleansing, transformation to better
Within me, Black Panther; embracing that which is Unknown
To my Left lies One Woman, whom I cannot yet see
To my Right lies Wolf, the Teacher who guides my footsteps
These are the Nine
That lead a Child of the One Triad
To the Future on its way
Blessed Be the Nine
Thanks to the Great Spirit and the Medicines

"Sharp is the night, but stars with frost alive
Leap off the rim of earth across the dome.
It is a night to make the heavens our home
More than the nest whereto apace we strive.
Lengths down our road each fir-tree seems a hive,
In swarms outrushing from the golden comb.
They waken waves of thoughts that burst to foam:
The living throb in me, the dead revive.
Yon mantle clothes us: there, past mortal breath,
Life glistens on the river of the death.
It folds us, flesh and dust; and have we knelt,
Or never knelt, or eyed as kine the springs
Of radiance, the radiance enrings:
And this is the soul's haven to have felt.
"

~~ George Meredith, Winter Heavens

ASTROLOGY FOR PAGANS

Ceridwen currently has four Advanced sessions and one Intermediate session in progress. Because of this large amount of classes, she is taking a long "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 private database and schedule will be set up that will conform to your own personal needs - NO WAITING! All of the pertinent charts and tables will be calculated and sent to you, as you need them. Each lesson will be offered whenever YOU are ready for it - no homework deadlines! - 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

"Of winter's lifeless world each tree
Now seems a perfect part;
Yet each one holds summer's secret
Deep down within its heart."


~~ Charles G. Stater

ALMANAC

Today is Samhain, or November 1, 2006 CE.

It is the 1st the day of the 1st Year of the Gaian Reform, the 1st day of the Season of Geimredh, and the 1st day of the Month of MÌ na Samhna.

It is also Wednesday, in the common tongue, or Dydd Mercher in Welsh.

It is the Druidic day of the Hazel.

NEW MOONS occur on 20 Geimredh, 50 Geimredh and 79 Geimredh.
FULL MOONS
occur on 5 Geimredh, 34 Geimredh, and 64 Geimredh.

The birthday of Co-Founder El Arseneau, occurs on 15 Geimredh.

The Sun enters Sagittarius on 22 Geimredh.

The birthday of Celtic Bard and Honorary RDG Druid, Robin Williamson, occurs on 24 Geimredh.

The birthday of CAW founder and Honorary Reformed Druid, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, occurs on 30 Geimredh.

Me·n Geimhridh (December) begins on 31 Geimredh
(a Friday - Dydd Gwener - Day of the Apple).

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

The Sun enters Capricorn on 51 Geimredh.

Deireadh Geimredh (January) begins on 62 Geimredh
(a Monday - Dydd Llun -- Day of the Willow).

The Sun enters Aquarius on 81 Geimredh.

The Season of Earrach, the first day of MÌ na hOimelc , 1 Earrach YGR 01 begins at Sunset on January 31st.

". . . there is a wonderful joy in leaving behind the noisy city streets and starting out
along the white road that leads across the hills. With each breath of the sharp, reviving air
one seems to inhale new life. A peace as evident as the sunshine on the fields takes possession
of one's inner being. The trivial cares which fretted like a swarm of mosquitoes are driven away
by the first sweep of wind that comes straight from the mountains. . . . The intense silence
that broods over the snow-bound land is a conscious blessing. The deep blue of the sky and
the purple shadows cast by the trees and plants are a feast to the eye. The crunch of the snow-rind
beneath our feet and the varied hum of the telegraph wires overhead are music to our ears."


~~ Frances Theodora Parsons

Brugh na Bóinne (Newgrange)

How is it named?
For the river that rises in the bog of Allen
And flows to the sea at Inver Colpa.
Called after Boann, Goddess of the rivers.
Peat dark and slow meandering
Making it’s lazy way through the land.

The Dagda had his house here,
And Angus Og after him,
In the wide bend of the river.
Angus of the generous hospitality,
With inexhaustible ale
And meat and fruit
To feed his many guests.

Lugh of the long arm lies here,
And Slaine, king of the Fir-Bolg,
Buried atop his hill.

Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth,
Look down on the valley.
Resting places of the great
Warriors and Chieftains.

It was here, at Linn Feic,
That the hero Finn McCumhaill
Caught the salmon of knowledge.
Burned his thumb on the hot flesh
And tasted before Finegas the Poet.

Wide green valley, lush with rich grass.
Cattle and sheep shall thrive here.
And fruit trees of all kinds shall flourish.

Fish abound in the stream,
And stags frequent the forest.
You shall not hunger long
In the Valley of the Boinne.

~~ Source Unknown ~~


"The winter comes: the frozen rut
Is bound with silver bars;
the white drift heaps against the hut;
and night is pierced with stars.
"

~~ Coventry Patmore, 1823-1896

REFORMED DRUIDS OF GAIA
LAUNCHES A NEW
ONLINE CONFERENCE

A new online conference has been launched to provide a meeting place for members of the newly formed Reformed Druids of Gaia, and to serve as a place where seekers might ask questions and voice concerns. Anyone interested in Druidism as well as already established Druids are invited to join the discussions. Use this box to sign up to RDG Talk:

Subscribe to rdgtalk
Powered by groups.yahoo.com

"There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow.
It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray, every blade of grass, every spire of reed,
every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance."


~~ William Sharp

Minnesota Druids

By Eric Powers, Boston Grove
Feb 2005, For the Public Domain
Originally "California Girls"
Click or copy and plug address directly into a
new browser window for music:

http://www.garyrog.50megs.com/midi/californiagirls.mid

Well east coast Druids are hip
I really dig their stylish wares
And the southern Druids with the flak they take
I'm impressed that they're even there

The Southwest's deserts' druids
Have the gift of second sight
And the Montreal Druids with the fires they burn
They keep their grovemates warm at night

I wish they all could be Minnesota
I wish they all could be Minnesota
I wish they all could be Minnesota Druids

The west coast has the sunshine
All year worship keeps them tanned
I love those Zen Druids on pacific island
Groves of palm trees in the sand

I been all around this great big world
And I seen all kinds of Groves
Yeah, but I couldn't wait, those 4 seasons are great,
To meet the coldest Druids in the world

I wish they all could be Minnesota
I wish they all could be Minnesota
I wish they all could be Minneosta Druids

I wish they all could be Minnesota
(Druids, Druids, Druids yeah I dig the)
I wish they all could be Minnesota
(Druids, Druids, Druids yeah I dig the)
I wish they all could be Minnesota
(Druids, Druids, Druids yeah I dig the)
I wish they all could be Minnesota
(Druids, Druids, Druids yeah I dig the)

Yule Blessings

by Yusef

 

Blessings to you from the Earth Mother.
She is the Moon.
She watches over all of us by.
The light that she casts over the blessed earth.
Walk her night lit path
And happiness you will find at every turn.
Blessed be!

Blessings to you from the Sky Father.
He is the Sun. He holds us up
And brings us strength. Carry his sword
To cleave the evil from your path
And you will be unmolested.
Blessed Be!

Blessings to you from the Great Spirit.
It binds us all together:
Man to womyn; beast to beast; all.
We are it and it is us.
Blessed Be!

May you have a wonderful Holiday.
The time has come for the sun to be reborn
He lies in his Mother's womb waiting...
Awaiting his reappearance on this plane.
Let us all rejoice in his rebirth and ours.
Blessed Be!

Source: http://www.angelfire.com/moon/yule/

"To shorten winter, borrow some money due in spring."

~~ W.J. Vogel

Solstice Fires

by Ian R Thorpe

Solstice fires burn bright as newborn stars
shedding warmth where frost - wolf's icy breath
silvers streams, kisses each leafless branch,
making the eternal mother yield.
Frosted buds glitter like frozen tears
as nature mourns the mother's little death;
dark demons spread a heavy shroud to blanch
colour from the woodland, heath and field.

But of each thing a little spark, preserved
and tended by the ones who serve the flame
survives to light embryo season's birth,
'til life returns one more, vibrant and green.
Reaching higher each day the pale sun curves,
not strong enough to set the sky aflame.
So while nature languishes in dearth,
this darkest night the solstice fires burn.

Source: http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewpoetry.asp?id=125296

"Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments,
embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour."


~~ John Boswell

Aspects of Yule

by: Zephyr Lioness

Time of deepest darkness
The God is born anew
Seedling in the frozen earth
Awaiting springtime dew.

The ground, an icy wasteland,
Though neighbors hearts are warm
We share our goods with everyone
So no one comes to harm.

Snow lies on her shoulders
Frosted mantle for her hair
Winter's Queen is giving birth
The Goddess, always there

The sun is growing brighter.
It happens every year
Promising return of light
For sod and oak and deer

Stag King, his mighty antlers
Rising from a drift
Leaps for the hunter's arrow
Just as strong and swift

He knows his time has ended
He is heading to the plain
Where joy caresses memory
Like softly summer rain

New fawn takes his first step,
The buck he will become.
After the time of knowing
A new year has begun.

Source: http://www.angelfire.com/moon/yule/


"O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the spring shall blow
Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth."

~~ John Davies, 1570-1626, Ode to the West Wind.

May wonder ever illumine your souls as the candle
does a room on a long, winter’s night,

May joy blow through your heart with the
intensity of the north wind in a blizzard,

May peace cover your lives like a blanket of
fresh fallen snow.

Blessed Solstice!

The Mother Grove wishes all of you
a most inspiring Samhain, a joyous Yule,
and abundant blessings throughout the season!

May you never thirst!

Arch-Druid Ceridwen Seren-Ddaear, Managing Editor/Webmaster
El Arseneau, Scribe
Jillbe Badb, Contributing Editor
Cylch Cerddwyr Rhwng y Bydoedd Grove

NEXT ISSUE WILL BE PUBLISHED ON Imbolq - 1 Earrach YGR 01

WANT TO JOIN THE REFORM? http://rdg.mithrilstar.org/join.htm

WANT TO DONATE TO THE REFORM? http://rdg.mithrilstar.org/donate.htm

The Druids Egg -- 1 Geimredh YGR 01-- Vol. 5 No. 1
Send letters, submissions to mithrilstarnews-owner@yahoogroups.com
There is no guarantee that your submission will be published.
All submissions become the property of RDG.

Triquetra Chalice - http://avalonrisen.mithrilstar.org/chalices.htm#rc25

Censor - http://avalonrisn.mithrilstar.org/misc_tools5.htm#ibhans

Two-handled Chalice - http://avalonrisen.mithrilstar.org/chalices.htm#17

Filidh - http://elfwood.lysator.liu.se/art/j/c/jchan/filidh.jpg.html

faerygateway2 - http://elfwood.lysator.liu.se/art/u/k/uktara2/fairygateway2.jpg.html

Suibhne - http://www.celtic-twilight.com/ireland/suibhne/index.htm

firedrake - http://www.mysticrpg.net/modules.php?name=Races&file=viewrace&id=77

Crone - http://www.daylightartworks.com/portfolio.html

Spirithowl - http://www.ravenmedium.com/TotemAnimals.htm

05Reading_the_Gilded_Tarot - http://www.macworldexpo.com/live/20/HP920840

three of cups - http://tarot.com/about-tarot/decks/browsedecks.php?newdeck=goddess

newgrangex - http://andycharles1.tripod.com/id5.html

Winter Goddess - http://adriannwelch.com

ME Layton's Yule Blessings - http://artfulfantasies.lunagrove.com

 

 

All other pictures are believed to be public domain, gathered from around the internet
over the years. and/or sent to us by friends. However, if there is an image(s)
that has copyright information associated with it and the copyright holder wishes for
it to be removed, then please email us and we will remove it. Or, if any of the
artwork is yours and you just want us to give you credit (and the piece can remain
on site), please send us your link/banner and we will be happy to do so.

Published four times each year by The Mother Grove of the
Reformed Druids of Gaia, Inc.
Cylch Cerddwyr Rhwng y Bydoedd Grove
Eureka, California USA
"Nature is groovy"

Copyright © 2006

No portion of this newsletter may be reproduced by anyone for any purpose
without the express written permission of the
Arch-Druid, Ceridwen Seren-Ddaear