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A Druid Missal-Any

An Un-Official Publication of the Reformed Druids

Oimelc Y.R. 39
(January 31, 2001)

Volume 18, Number 1


* Oimelc Essay
* News of the Groves
* The Great Cailleach Search (Festival Plans)
* Optional Things to do for Oimelc
* Life is a Birch, Whose Bark is Appealing!
* Birch-related Recipees
* Making Your Own Cheese
* Fertility Cycle of the Druid Year
* "Sudden-Oak-Death" Found in Redwoods
* A Miner's Lettuce Leaf Grows in San Francisco
* PantheaCon 2002
* Mistletoe Used in Remedy
* Resources: Books on Celtic Women
* Calendar
* A Druid Missal-Any

O imelc, one of the major High Days in the Druid calendar, is the Festival of Bride, Brigit, Bron, Dawn Maiden, Patroness of Poets, Bards, and Smiths, Celtic Goddess of the hearth, healing, inspiration, childbirth, cattle, and crops. Oimelc marks the end of the dark days of winter and the beginning of spring. Noticeable is the increasing length of the daylight hours.

Originally a pastoral festival, Oimelc was associated with fertility. The Irish word for Oimelc, Imbolc, is derived from the root word m(b)olg meaning lactation. Oimelc stems from the Old Celtic Ouimelko "ewe's milk." This was the time of year in agricultural societies when the ewes were first coming into milk and the beginning of the lambing season. This was important as milk was the first fresh food since the end of the harvest at Samhain. Sheep and Cattle were valued possessions both in human and underworldly society, and this is especially true of herding societies, such as early Celtic societies. The classical writers such as Pliny and Strabo comment on the use of milk and milk-products in Gaul, Germania, and Britain, showing its importance in those cultures.

That Oimelc is also known as Bride's Feast Day (La Fheill Brighde in Scotland) shows Bride's association with the fertility festival. Though little of the goddess Bride is known in detail, many of her associations were carried over into early Christian accounts of the saint. Anne Ross writes In her Everyday Life of the Pagan Celts that in the later Christian tradition, St. Bride's association with sheep and pastoral economy and fertility in general would seem to be carry-overs from her pagan predecessor 's role. In the Life of St. Brighid there are also various pagan attributes. She was said to be fed from the milk of a white red-eared cow, which was her totem animal as a pagan goddess. In Irish mythology white animals with red ears were considered supernatural or otherworldly. She was protectoress of the flocks and harm would come to any that harmed her cattle. She had the power to increase milk production. In artwork she was often shown to be accompanied by a cow, which Miranda Green writes is a manifestation of her mother Bofhionn, the White Cow who is the goddess of the sacred river Boyne. She is associated with the dandelion, thought it quite possibly could have been coltsfoot, a plant with similar attributes, which flowers closer to Oimelc. It is said that the milky white juice in the stems fed the young lambs.

Bride's association with the flocks is still evident in modern times. In the Carmina Gadelica, a collection of hymns and incantations by Alexander Carmichael records a charm for stock as recited by Archibald Currie, shoemaker. Charms are a poetic form dating back to Indo-European times used for protection.

The charm placed of Brigit
About her neat, about her kine,
About her horses, about her goats,
About her sheep, about her lambs;

Each day and night,
In heat and in cold,
Each early and late,
Each darkness and light;

To keep them from marsh,
To keep them from rock,
To keep them from pit,
To keep them from bank;

To keep them from eye,
To keep them from omen,
To keep them from spell,
South and north;

To keep them from venom,
East and west,
To keep them from envy,
And from wiles of the wicked;

To keep them from hound,
And keep them from each other's horns,
From the birds of the high moors,
From the beasts of the hills;

To keep them from wolf,
From ravaging dog,
To keep them from fox,
From the swiftness of the Fiann.*

*Fiann were hired warriors.

News of the Groves
For a list of groves. For the Full Grove Directory



Carleton Grove: News from Minnesota

All is going well here. The Circle is happily slumbering and the weather is cold. We plan to try out the new, more aerodynamic trays(#1) on Evans Hill this term. Hopefully we all survive the encounter. I'm looking at a long, hard, but hopefully educational term. And most of us that you know are working on comps2 now. We'll have to rely on the young druidlings to keep us entertained, I think.


Note #1
Mike Scharding, graduate of Carleton College explains: "Carleton's winter tradition is to steal lunch trays and go sledding on the nearby suicidally steep hill; 70 yard drop in 20 yards and a nice flat riding plain of 100 meters. If you 'pike position' in the center grabbing the edges you get an extra 30 and glide. They are also excellent squarish enough that you can spin if you keep your weight centered and avoid letting a corner dig in and flip you. I was three-time distance champion from 1990-93, and have the t-shirt to prove it from the nude Winter Olympics of 92!"

Mike further explains: "Comps are the 'Senior Year Comprehensive Exercise' that displays mastery of your major. It consumes about 50% of the time of a Carleton student's senior year (and sometimes junior year) and is roughly equivalent of a Master's Degree research paper in complexity, plus a grueling two hour oral examination by the department. It severely limits the Druidism of most senior Druids at Carleton, leading to many cases of Senioritis burn-out and grove near-collapses.

Many seniors only resurface in late May, after being in a 'undisclosed safe location' for several months. History papers tend to be about 50 pages, hundreds of hours of lab work for Bio/Chem students, entire choreographies for dance students, etc. As an example; "A Reformed Druid Anthology" was the result of my research, i.e. 'General History of Reformed Druidism' and its supplementary appendixes of primary resource materials. It took 14 redrafts, two years and over a 1,000 hours for me to get a history paper barely-acceptable to them. ARDA took another two years to polish up."

Emerald Grove: News from WA

Just rediscovered.

Seattle's Greenwood Grove STILL exists. It has bee renamed EMERALD Grove and is now under the leadership of grove ArchDruidess, Priya Kendrick. She can be reached at: or and her current Grove calendar website is

Volcano Grove: News from Tonga

I applaud the goal of doing twenty hours of druidic work a week from here on out. I have been considering something similar--starting with a physical tour of the groves beginning sometime next Fall. It would be highly educational, not to mention fun, to actually visit all the RDNA and related groves I could find contacts for. I am curious how many different directions folks have taken, how many different responses they have developed to the problems of being a druid...Also, I intend to be traveling within the states for a longish period, visiting all my scattered friends and relatives. How odd is it to come this far around the globe while knowing so little about ones own country?

Lower Order of Pele

Representatives of the Volcano Grove recently undertook a pilgrimage to the island of Tofua. There they were witness to no fewer than five simultaneous thunderstorms, spied several rare species of birds, bathed in a pool sheltered in the rainforest, and were blessed with the opportunity to behold real live lava. The Archfool himself undertook to climb over the lip of the cinder-cone to get a better look at the fire. (Tied to a firmly anchored rope--he is learning a few things!) Others were then able to scramble up the same rope and hold onto him while gazing a hundred meters straight down to the place where rocks are melted up and born again. Some days later he made a solo trip back up the cone without the rope (Goddess watching is dangerously addictive) and was blessed with a double lung-full of sulfuric acid and a badly lacerated leg while fleeing the cloud of vapors that emerged to punish his precocious-ness.

Bridgit is known in these parts as "Pele." Tongan being what it is, the word has several other meanings too--Dolphins, card playing, and Spinach-like trees all share the name of the Goddess of Fire. In such a heavily contextual language invocation becomes a dangerous and haphazard art.

If all goes well I should escape in March or April and be home for April or May. I have not seen New York in springtime for seven years. It is about time to get home.

Monument Grove: News from DC

Well, D.C. is without snow and mid 60s as of January 10th, which means winter is slow out here. The birds and the squirrels don't seem to mind since feeding them fistfuls of seeds, although the cherry trees accidentally bloomed last month. Mairi and Sine went on a trip to Alabama (don't ask me why) for New Year and tramped about in some swampland. I'm currently working with Nozomi on researching Celtic Women and giving her some leads. I'm also researching the attitudes of different religions towards animal sacrifice and/or laboratory testing. The article should be ready by the equinox.

Thoughts About Anarchy
Many religions, when organized to fit one select group's goals and aspirations, do tend to make it harder for other's to appreciate that religion's teachings. Groups, by their definition, tend to be excluding as well as including. I think it's possible to be a dissenter within a group and provide a valuable service, not unlike the fool/trickster in many mythologies.

The RDNA does have a thick anarchistic streak in it, but not as much as the Discordian church or the Church of Bob. We're more on the disorganized, lazy and incoherent end of the spectrum rather than on bringing down the governments.

Mother Nature, herself, has her rules, with winners and losers; as do most anarchists. She is indifferent to whether the rabbit escapes or the bobcat catches the rabbit. For many, this seems chaotic, not caring if the innocent or the bloodthirsty win, but rather it is neutral. In the biggest sense, Nature tends to lean to the "increasive" side, with life prevailing despite heavy casualties of death. Evil and good only apply to the actions of men outside this system.

Creeks-Called-Rivers Grove: News from Ohio

Song writing (or at least melody writing) is something I've been kind of toying with. I recently took up Appalachian dulcimer (because any idiot can play one), and have been having a lot of fun with it. I'm even slowly beginning to understand the whole key/notes/octave thing. An engineer by training, though, I'm not sure why things aren't simply expressed in hertz. My playing with the diatonic fret board has also led me to a bit of blowing on the tin whistle and pan flute. I'm doing alright on the tin whistle, but I'm not ready to do a Waterboys album, or anything. Meanwhile, Zamfir sleeps easy.

Big Ash Grove: News from MICH.

The Fire Ceremony

First you walk through the jungle looking for sticks. Gather as many as possible. When you get back to your village hut begin stacking them in a square (leave out like ten or so for later) so that it looks like a squished box with no top. Remember fire safety rules; like building a pit outside and doing it there, and have a bucket of water ready, just in case. Ok so now you set the pile on fire. Now you have to make friends with the fire; this consists of talking to it, sharing concerns and problems, and also feeding it a few drops of oil. I find patchouli or moldavite oil works good. Now that you have a new best friend you begin taking the other sticks, one by one, and put your problems into the stick. Such as financial problems, love problems, a healing need, a fear, etc. Feed the problems to the fire watching them being transformed

Then take some of the energy out of the fire with your hands...don't worry it's a friendly fire. And put the energy into your stomach, heart and brain; so that you make the right actions, have the right emotions and the right mental abilities to take care of the problem. After you've done this with all but one of your sticks, place the final stick into the fire with the prayer that the Earth Mother is healed. Don't take that energy out of the fire, let Momma E take that energy. Let the fire die out, while vigiling and meditating.

Akita Grove: News from Northern Japan

Our winter solstice ritual drama (Sun Goddess in the Cave) went quite well and the guests liked it. I worked on the dance until end and was nervous! The text is on We sang by a huge log fire until morning and welcomed the new sun. It was fun.

We plan for a big outdoor festival on Akanidai mountain with Big Cailleach Search. Peter is in charge because he likes running in woods, being cold and wrestling! The Search text will be in the Oimelc Druid Missal-Any and then everyone in America can prepare for their own fun on Vernal Equinox, but we will do it on Feb 1st. On Feb 2nd, Pat will wear the Demon Mask, and everyone will throw beans at him. He will take bad luck out of the house.

Feb 13th is the fourth anniversary of Beth Harlow's death We will have a small rite for her memory. Pat will publish a eulogy next issue.

Brother Eric will visit us in May, from America, so we will have special welcome at Akita Airport. He will bring presents to give to Mike (the post office is expensive). Unfortunately, his room at the shrine is unheated, so he will have to be drunk the whole time to live the visit.

Only 10 weeks left for bardic contest. Keep writing to me at

That's all. Thank you.

Ice Floe Grove: News from Antarctica

I'm doing fine. I'm wrapping up my research here, and guess what? I moving to Bolivia in June to join a friend in doing anthropological research in their portion of the Amazon jungle. I'm going to mostly be studying the researchers and seeing how they act as a group in a foreign landscape. The grove here will naturally cease soon, although I'm sure the penguins will continue the faith for many generations to come.

Speaking of beasties, I just heard the Pauxatawny Phil over in Pennsylvania will be receiving an armed guard for the Ground Hog's Day festival! I guess that's reasonable, considering that 6 more weeks of winter could hurt the U.S. economy. National interest is involved. Uh, huh?

Yours in the Freezer,

Silent Grove: News Grove! from Hamilton, Ontario

I guess since this is our first contribution to a "Druid Missal-Any," a brief introduction of our Grove would be in order. We currently have four members (yes, living, breathing entities). Our focus of course is a lot of things Druidic (and a lot of stuff that isn't) without any real focus on any particular area. We are a rather eclectic group, taking certain aspects from Taoism, Celtic/Scandinavian/Germanic druidism, Native Americana, a general spiritual connection with Nature, and hopefully combining this to create something new and least to us. Our focus is mostly on having fun, though seriousness won't escape us either.

Over the past week, our Grove has worked feverishly (gotta keep warm somehow in the winter) designing, developing and publishing our web presence ( Glen managed to secure us a domain name and has done most of the work getting the web page up and out there. The rest of us are busy little contributors. We hope to keep the website very active with fresh, new content on our on-line newsletter and events schedule. We're not going to take ourselves too seriously, so the web page is more of a fun place. If you're looking for serious historical druid stuff...well...that won't be the place to get it. You can also find a lot of general information about our Grove there.

We are all preparing for Imbolc but haven't decided where to hold our festivities as yet. It will probably be just the four of us, but nonetheless, it should be fun. As the year goes forward, we have a lot of ambitious things to do at our Grove. I just hope we haven't bit off more than we can chew! But the journey will of course be all the fun.

Flatulent Waters Grove: News from NY

This Grove, on the Niagara Falls, has disbanded and gone on to a more natural way of worship; long walks in the woods and casual contemplation by transcendental meditation.

Golden Oak Grove:News from Minnesota

Allfs well here, just a bit crazed right now due to the holiday goings on, seems like no matter how well you plan things there will be a multitude of things that just all go wrong and suddenly all well laid plans are thrown into chaos, but that's life I suppose...

The first thing to hit was the fact that some designer home decorator person of the year has declared that the only twinkle lights to be had for under $8.00 a pop are clear, I looked high and low only to find every style of clear lights imaginable, a few strands of outdoor blue lights, The only indoor ones I could find were red, green, and one strand of frosted gold, other than that it was clear, OiY!!!

Our tree this year is huge and perfect, but it took an entire afternoon to locate all the green and red lights in the Minneapolis St. Paul area and of course that one lone strand of frosted gold...

Not exactly what I had in mind for the tree but it did turn out very pretty--I put the greens inside to make it glow and the reds on the outside--it's lit and looks gorgeous but it isn't a bright beaming spectacle either which is good...

I wound the gold lights with the silk oak leaf garland and will light that up Solstice Morning...My tree topper was crushed beyond repair during our move last spring and I couldn't find anything to replace it that I liked, this year is a horrible year for holiday decorations, I looked again today for something to top the tree with and found the local K-Mart only had red/white/blue and clear stars, "no thanks," so I think tomorrow I'm going to put my daughters piñata up there, it's a sunshine so I suppose it's as appropriate as anything...

It's better than the other thought I had of dressing one of her baby dolls up as the baby sun god and tying to the top of the tree, hehehe...

I've just got done making cookies and have more to bake in the morning but right now I've got some where around 500 mini sugar cookies that need decorating...So far I've made candles, trees in two sizes, and stars...I've still got Moose, Suns, Holly leaves, Oak Leaves, Acorns, Stockings, and Angels to finish up...I got some new gel-food colors today in blue, purple, deep red, deep orange, black, deep green, so they ought to be very vivid once decorated with the colored frostings...I also got some bronze and gold dust to paint them with. It's really cool stuff, edible metallic dust, really makes the suns light up!


Mojo Grove: News from Down There

"Mojo" protogrove gathered at a local theatre to watched Harry Potter for pointers on magical thinking for our Winter Solstice.

We later convened at a local (Irish) Pub to compare notes.

Amon Sul Grove (a.k.a Gandalf Grove)

Amon Sul Grove celebrates Yule as the rebirth of the sun, and as such, the beginning of the new year. While the worst of winter's weather is still ahead, the lengthening days are our promise that the cycle of seasons will once again be repeated. Yule also basically coincides with the arrival of our seed catalogues. Much of January is spent planning the coming year's garden. By Oimelc, the cycle of life has already been jump started by starting some of the earliest seedlings indoors under full spectrum lights. As I write this, we already have tomatoes, pansies, and valerian that are up. The black cohosh and hawthorn are slow, difficult germinators and it is with both anticipation and trepidation that their containers are being watched. This year we are planning a major expansion of our varieties of medicinal herbs. Our winter has been mild, to date, and some of the irises are already beginning to come up.

Druid Heart Spirit Grove: California

Alban Gwyddion or winter solstice was wonderful. It was raining out so we ended up doing ritual indoors which made for a closer sharing when passing the triad bowls around we each took turns anointing each other with the awen on the forehead. Our sweat lodge is coming along slowly, I've leveled the ground and am getting ready to dig the surface of the inside of the lodge down a couple of feet. We are doing our regular new moon rites as we do every month here soon. For Canol Gaoaf (Imbolc) we are going to gather on the night of the Feb. 2nd and have another indoors ritual if the weather is too cold. I hope it will be nice so we can feel the energy of the stone circle again in ritual.

New homepage:

Baccharis Grove: News from California

Publisher of "A Druid Missal-Any"

Rain, rain, rain. It seems like it rained the entire months of November and December. We were only able to hold two services during that time (we usually meet every two weeks on the Sundays closest to the new and full moons in addition to the High Days). We weren't able to hold our Yule service due to rain. The morning was so overcast and misty that I was not able to welcome the Sun at sunrise at the Grove site on the day of the Winter Solstice, which I have been doing the mornings of every major and minor High Day since Spring Equinox of last year. When you are used to holding regular services you really begin to feel the lack of that spiritual "fix" that comes with doing rituals regularly.

The first rains in November brought an early Spring to Baccharis Grove with shoots of the Pacific Snake Root appearing in sunny spots and Golden Back Fern along the steps and path up to the Grove site. We are currently in a cold snap (lows in the 20s and 30s with snow predicted which is unusual for the Bay Area). I wonder how the cold will affect the vegetation, whether it will survive or die back to begin again when the weather warms up

It was very quiet this past service up at the grove. When it was all over AD Larry said, "It's been a quiet day at Grove Wobegon." I got a good laugh out of it. He'll kill me, but I think it is so "us". :)

Corn Grove: News from Iowa

We are going into abeyance for awhile.

We'll be back in touch perhaps within the year.

Wind in the Oaks: News from Oklahoma

Merry meet and all that. Him my name is Mark. Me and some of my friends have started a grove. I'm the Arch-Druid or what ever you want to call it. It basically started when me and as couple of my friends started reading about druids, and decided to become one (or some ), and the grove is named "The Wind In the Oaks Grove" (hope it isn't taken). There are 5 of us, but we don't have any duties, and the only reason I'm the arch-druid is because I'm good with knowledge and computers (high-tech druids LOL)

No, we don't really have any purpose or focus, other than cherishing the Mother together. The Grove is in Norman, Oklahoma. As for being able to get a hold of other groves, I am the only one who can do that now. As for why I was picked to be AD, I don't have any real idea why, except that perhaps I knew more about being a Druid then the rest. Well, if there is anything else you would like to know, let me know.

Well thanks again, and talk to you later
GM Pendragon

Ancient Circle Grove MOCC: News from NY

Here's all the news that fit to print:

Brother Evan Gort received his Naming Rite and also was welcomed into the first circle of study as Druid. He celebrated his Rite of Apprenticeship and received his silver oak tree pendant. It was a very emotional and moving ritual. We celebrated this important step with Br. Evan Gort, offering our support and freely giving him honour and encouragement.

Brother Aiden has taken a sabbatical from the Grove. He remains in our thoughts and prayers and stands firmly amidst us and is never without our support and encouragement. He will be welcomed back enthusiastically when he chooses to return to us. His skills as Grove Bard are sorely missed. Sister Lily Wolf will soon be celebrating a birthday! She holds a place of great honour in our Grove. She is the embodiment of the wisdom of the Crone. She is a unique and insightful member of the Grove, gifted in shamanic technique and drumming.

Ancient Circle has concluded for the year our upkeep of the Old Bramer cemetery in Hebron, New York. We still have a great deal of work awaiting us next year, but we are confident that we will not be defeated by the ever-persistent grapevines. A special thank you goes out to Argyle Central School Sophomore student, Amanda Spear for her assistance in keeping up the cemetery. She was a tireless worker, full of good humor and such a blessing to us!

We also were successful in adopting a needy family for Christmas. The generosity of the Grove members was a great joy! Preparing the box, wrapping the gifts and then shopping for a holiday food basket was a delight to my spirit! The box was delivered on December 20th. :) Happy Holidays!

Ancient Circle gathered at the home of Sister Lily for our Yule get together. This was a family event. A Yuletide altar was set up and individuals were able to go at their leisure and make their devotions and offerings there. The food was simple but festive, the company delightsome, and there was great happiness and love. Gifts were exchanged in the glow of 27 candles and Sister Lily's 8 foot tree! It was simply breathtaking! Truly the return of the Sun was not felt more strongly than by those who joined together to share it's return and felt it's life giving warmth deep in their spirits. What a wonderful time! Many thanks to Sister Lily for her hospitality.

We have heard many good things coming from our sister Grove in Kentucky, called Oaken Circle Grove. I beleive that they will soon be posting their activities on this page as well

note the extra "h" in the e-mail address!

Oaken Circle Grove MOCC: News from KY

Sherry in northern Kentucky has started a new grove in November 2001, which is an independent affiliate of the Missionary Order of the Celtic Grove.

A web address will be soon listed on the RDNA billboard, but e-mail is at

Order of the Mithril Star

"Butterflye grove" is gone. The leader has moved to the Seattle area and the remaining members have gone on a more Wiccan path.

The contact for Cylch Sequoia Sempervirons is now Angie Druid Fulmer,

There is an OMS/RDNA protogrove forming in Eugene OR. The contact would be me. :) We haven't decided on a name as yet.

There is also a protogrove forming in Bremington (sp?) WA. For now the contact is

In the Mother,
Stephen Druid Gabriel-MacMullen
Instructor, OMS-RDNA

The Great Cailleach Search

Devised by Patrick Haneke, Akita Grove
Collaborated with Brother Alex on his "Great Snogle Beast Hunt"
Plentiful Advice from Brother Mike
Researched & Transcribed by Sister Nozomi

A few years ago, when Brother Mike was in Japan, we went with him to a lot of the local pagan festivals. Mike suggested that we start our own, blending Irish and Shinto traditions. Like our Winter-Solstice service, here is our version of an Oimelc festival, with more focus on activity than liturgy; which the Japanese are famous for. Neo-Pagan rituals can be so dull, whereas the Celtic commoner was likewise more interested in the associated activities of the season. We'll still have an Oimelc service, but it will pale next to the Great Cailleach Search. Please enjoy.

The Straight Dope on the Cailleach Bhuer:
The primary figure in this action-drama.

Cailleach (Call y' ach) is the common Gaelic word for old woman, "Carli" in the Lowlands, "Black Annis" in England (Annis being a Celtic Water Goddess), "Cailleach ny Groamch" on the Isle of Man Cailleach Bhuer (Blue Women) or Hag of Beare is her name in the Highlands. Interestingly enough, an owl is called Cailleach nfOidhche meaning "old woman of the night."

I slapped a few half-remembered legends together and divined the rest. In the old days, old women were respected for the life-power and wisdom that naturally should accrue to the elderly. This particular old lady was a giant in Scottish tales who also represented winter. She could shape shift, either to a serpent or a comely lass and was considered quite wise. She could also become stone at will, indeed, remaining as a stone throughout the Time of Life (May 1st to Nov. 1st.). Thus, she is a natural choice for residing in a stone circle, I think, especially in a stone used for judging the Winter Solstice alignment.

She is reborn on Samhain and reigns throughout the Time of Sleep (Nov 1st to May 1st). After reviving, she washes her tattered plaid in the famous whirlpool off the coast of Jura ,"Corryvreckan" ("Coire Bhreacain" is the cauldron of the plaid), and the plaid emerges repaired and pure-white and she drapes it over the land. She bore a staff which could kill any plant and would freeze the ground if tapped. The young God of Spring, born on the Winter Solstice, (no name as yet) wanted to play with his forest friends, but they were too tired, and the Goddess refused to end the winter so early. She recommended that he should be in Galicia or Galetia, not the Gaeltacht, if he wanted some warmth. She complained that she wasn't finished freezing Loch Ness and was still perfecting her snowcap on Ben Mor and Mt. Snowdon, and the skiers would be most unhappy if she didn't finish that job. If she had time, she'd get around to freezing the Irish sea too.

Undeterred, he asked Cailleach Bhuer if is she was tired, and she admitted that she was getting a bit of a tension headache from concentrating so much on her work. She agreed to take a short break and play a short game of stickball. Spring God tossed stones and nuts, and she batted first. Many valleys and lakes were created by the impact from the stones she hit. She played a marvelous first round and then he asked to have a turn at bat. The staff was thus captured by the young God of Spring, who flung it into the holly bushes, because the staff would kill any other plant, and the holly would prevent her from retrieving it by guarding it with its fierce thorns.

He then ran off, unpenned, and gleaned a few of her seven Arkan Sonney (red, lucky, hairy pigs), whose hot little footsteps melted the snow. The Cailleach dispatched a squadron of her ravens to retrieve the piggies, but the Spring God eluded most of them. The little piggies ran all over the place with the young God, ruining her white blanket of snow. She forgave him later, after he explained the animals were getting thin and needed to eat new plants, but she required him to bring her a flower wreath at Beltane and return her staff next fall.

Not being able to freeze things anymore, she started her new job on Feb 1st. She went to the deep forest of the Isle of Youth and drinks a cup to return her to a more vigorous appearance. Then she works on weaving a new plaid for the next yearfs vegetation, which she will hand over to her sister at Beltane before transforming into stone for a long rest in the shape of a rock, under a flower wreath, who takes a pause in his morning activities that day to payback the old lady. He, of course, returned the staff at Samhain.

She was the patroness of deer and boar, protecting animals during the winter. She is sometimes depicted as riding a gray stallion with ravens and crows. The Book of Lecan, says she has been through seven life cycles, deaths and rebirth, and has had seven mates. Thus seven is a sacred number of perfection. There are numerous hills named after her, such as Ben Nevis and Schiehallon.

For more on her see:

The Fun Part: The Great Hunt

Now that you know the background, here is the activity we're planning. A similar one can be done for Beltane, which much nicer rewards..

Location: A forest with lots of trees or places to hide things. It should be smaller than one square mile, and with definable boundaries (roads, fire breaks, fences) to keep members from really getting lost. The smaller the vegetation cover, the smaller the Cailleach will be naturally. Distributing maps and cell-phones & GPS equipment is standard for the over-anxious. A finish line with an evergreen tree, a box, a campfire and a long rope is chosen. Games start and end there.
Number of Participants: As many as feasible.
Duration: The hunt should last about an hour or two. Older members will wait at the finish line in a suitably warm place (like a van).


  1. At winter solstice, the AD tells the tale of Cailleach Bheur, to burrow it into their psyches. Then the AD begins preparations for making a hunting package (whistle, secret envelope, hunting stick, tennis ball, piece of elastic, protection amulet, blindfolds, search flares) for each future participant. Train your bagpiper, get a bullhorn or airhorn, or superwhistle, etc. Prepare major amounts of hot chocolate and a feast for the returning hunters, preferably at the nearby onsen/hot spa! One long rope is also necessary and a campfire.
  2. The Archdruid, or her accomplice, hides a statue or mannequin or doll with a 3 foot long stick and hangs a piggy in the nearby area before the first snow fall, or before a predicted great snow fall, thereby covering the tracks and adding a sense of mystery. Caution should be made whereby, notable features are noted down, and the statue will not be completely covered by snowfall (tying it at chest high to a tree is a good idea.
  3. A few weeks or months later, the hunters (who've been hopefully training) gather at the starting point, in their best outdoors gear. The rules are explained and the hunting packets are distributed. The player's duty to bring winter to a quick end should be stressed, if the Gods will help. Players are crowned with short antlers, blindfolded and spun around. Bagpipes sounds and they rush off into the woods to find the Cailleach Bheur and her little piggy (Arkan Sonney).
  4. The first person who finds her statue/manikin places his amulet around the neck of the statue, he or she will grab her staff and use it to knock down the piggy from his cage (always set a few inches out of reach of the stick, to tease them into clever ploys to reach it.)
  5. The lucky fellow now grabs the piggy and immediately sounds her/his hunting horn (a shrill whistle) 7 times. The pig rustler will get seven blessings if he can make it back to the finish line and toss the stick into the holly/evergreen tree and put the piggy in a box filled with straw and carrots.
  6. After hearing the whistle , everyone tries to tag the pig rustler. If they tag the person, they take away one of the blessings for themselves, and the rustler will get symbolically spanked for each time they are tagged by the officiant. (If you like playing rough, you can have them try to take away the piggy and finish it themselves, but avoid bloody noses.)
  7. The winner gets a kiss from the AD, and will hide the piggy for the next year and oversee the preparations and is publicly blessed 7 times (her choice of which blessings to grant) with the staff. All the players are recalled. Players who tagged him/her (in order) may deduct one of the blessings as they see fit for their own use.
  8. The piggy is then tied to the middle of a long rope and placed over a fire (or a cauldron in non-fire-possible zones) and the grove splits into two sides (perhaps by Nov 1st to May 1st birthdays and May 1st to Nov 1st birthdays) to divine, by a "tug of war", whether winter or summer is stronger. The side to pull, the (quite possibly burning) piggy over 15 feet from the fire is declared the winner and all its teammates get three blessings, losers get one blessing each.
  9. After one hour, if no one has returned, sound the bagpipe's "Warning song" (or sound the siren in 2 blasts) and the players can open the sealed envelope with a description of the location of the statue. However, they lose 4 of the blessings if they do so. They can choose to not open the envelope and keep searching and thus lose only 2 of the blessings.
  10. If they haven't returned in 2 hours, play the bagpipes' "retreat song", shoot the flares into the skies and call out the National Guard to return the players. Winter will be longer than usual this year!

Some Optional Things
to do for Oimelc

By Alex Strongbow, ex-Carleton Grove

Well, here's my list of things to do for Oimelc, Imbolg, Candlemas, Ostara or whatever you wish to call it. It's a multi-faceted festival reflecting Bridget's diverse talents. If you were to combine them all you'd be "writing poems by candlelight about flaming metallic sheep." Sounds strange, but where do you think "steel wool" is from? Do not put it in the microwave, though, unless you want to see visions of Pikachu!

  • Banana-Split candles (Cherry, banana, pineapple ring; possible imagery...)
  • Make decorated candlestick holders.
  • Try to Predict (e.g. candle divining) whether winter will end soon and what day the last snow will be gone in the grove or some other spot.
  • Start planting seeds in little pots.
  • Get a candle-making kit at an art store.
  • Spring Cleaning Party
  • Make homemade butter or ice-cream (try goat's milk)
  • Fireworks ( if legal, secretly if illegal...)
  • Make a contest to find first flowers or awakened hibernators
  • Decorate the house: Bridget's Straw Crosses, ironwork, stained glass, candelabras, lava lamps, anything that's bright,
  • Melt lead and pour into molds to make items.
  • Sharpen knife, repair or replace tool collection
  • Rent "Lambchop's Funniest Songs"
  • Write poems together (perhaps within 5 minutes on a theme)
  • Rent "Babe" or "Ground Hog Day" with Bill Murray
  • Rent "Bell, Book , Candle" with James Stewart or "Silence of the Lambs"...
  • Rent "Wallace and Grommit" (Perhaps "A Close Shave" is best episode)
  • Decorate chair by fireplace.
  • Burn the dried up Christmas tree (watch it go fuuumph!)
  • Have a sheep day
  • Call up a farmer and have the kids come down for a sheep birthing.
  • Do some knitting with wool.

  • packed with stuff fun overview for a meal about Groundhog Day nice discussion on Candlemas more activities. pagan kids activities back issues (look also under ostara)

    Life is a Birch,Whose Bark is Appealing!

    By Sam Peeples, 1st Order, Ex-Stanford Grove

    Birch is derived from "Bright" in Indo-European and related to Sanskrit "bhurga," "Birkana" in German, "Beorc" in Saxon, "Bedwen" in Welsh, "Bjarkan" in Norse. "Beith" in Gaelic is the first month of a lunar calendar and as the start of the Ogham alphabet, it is appropriate for beginnings and entry into Druidism. S.T. Coleridge named it "Lady of the Woods". As birch is one of the first trees to come into leaf it would be an obvious choice as representation of the emergence of spring. Often it is the wood of choice for the Maypoles, Yule Log of last season, anytime, really! But, because of its associations with spring cleaning and babies, it is appropriate for Oimelc or Spring Equinox. Its wood is good for starting fires for any season.

    Birch trees are one of the most recognizable trees in the forest, with its slender trunk, banded bark, light branches, alternating serrated leaves and thin peeling bark. It usually grows in copses with multiple shoots in the same spot. They grow to 50-70 feet and are common to Europe and America. They tend to live 60 years. Birches are wind pollinated with little "catkins" in April, appearing with their leaves. Male catkins release pollen and fall apart while female catkins catch the pollen and release the winged seeds in mid-Autumn. The seeds are "pioneers" and tend to like bare sunny patches. Fallen Birch twigs from the parent tree have the capability of rooting and beginning a sapling. Never take a complete ring from around the trunk as this would halt the flow of nutrients and would kill the tree and only prune in late spring after leaves are out and past the "collar.". A healthy Birch's thirsty roots will spread twice as wide as the height of the tree. The Birch populations are currently being pestered by "Bronze Birch Borers," "Birch Leaf Miner" worms, and the Birch Canker fungus.

    In Britain there are three varieties:

    1) The Dwarf Birch (Betula nana), a Scottish Highland shrub that grows even on tundra.
    2) Silver (warty) Birch (Betula pendula) whose twigs are hairless and droopy but bear tiny warts and found on well-drained ground. It grows quite tall.
    3) Downy Birch (Betula pubescens), like the name, this smaller tree has peach fuzz, found on moors and swamps.

    In addition to the Silver Birch, America's major varieties are:

    1) Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera), famed for its peely white bark and black stripes. Popular with children who pull off its bark. A quick growing tree, it is often sought by timber companies.
    2) River Birch ((Betula nigra) is less common. Naturally found near rivers.

    Associations are: Birth, pioneering, fresh endeavor, purity, one of the three pillars of wisdom (Oak, Yew, Birch), exorcism. Folk and Magic Use: (as always consult your Doctor)

    Winter Birch Tree Cookies

    Christmas Baking (1997 Pillsbury Classic Cookbook)

    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 3/4 cup of sugar (possibly birch sap sugar?)
    • 1 tablespoon milk
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 1 egg
    • 2 cups Pillsbury BEST All Purpose Flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 package (12 oz) vanilla-flavored candy coating or almond bark, melted
    • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

    Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. In large bowl, combine sugar and butter; beat until well blended. Add milk, vanilla and egg; beat well. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. Add flour, baking powder and cinnamon; mix well. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. On lightly floured surface, roll balls into logs, 6 inches long. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 5 to 8 minutes or until light golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets. Cool completely. Place melted candy coating in pie pan. Dip logs into candy coating; place on waxed paper to cool. Drizzle melted bittersweet chocolate over logs to resemble birch trees. 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

    Highland Birch Sap Wine

    • 8 pints sap
    • 1lb chopped raisins or dried fruit
    • 2lb sugar
    • juice of 2 lemons
    • general purpose yeast

    Collect the sap from a number of trees so as not to overtap an individual tree, which could kill it. ( The sap should be collected in early March whilst it is still rising. Select larger trees, bore a hole about 1"-2" deep, around 4ft off the ground, place a tube or something similar in the hole and allow the sap to run down. Then put a suitable container underneath and allow to fill. The hole will heal naturally, but it wouldn't hurt to wedge a piece of birch bark over the hole to aid it. Boil the sap as soon as collected, add the sugar and simmer for 10 minutes. Place the raisins in a suitable bucket, pour in the boiling liquid and add the yeast and lemon juice when it has cooled to blood temperature. Cover the bucket and leave to ferment for three days before straining off into a demi-john and sealing with an air lock. Let stand until fermentation finishes, then rack off into a clean jar and let the sediment settle. Bottle the wine and store in a cool place for at least a month. Good for Vernal Equinox.

    Birch Tea

    This is an old and effective remedy to combat cystitis, urinary problems, gout, rheumatism and arthritis and to remove excess water from the body. To make the tea, collect the birch leaves (the best time is in the spring when the leaves are fresh) and dry them out of direct sunlight. Put 2-3 teaspoonfuls in a cup and pour on boiling water, then cover and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Take the tea 3-4 times daily or just occasionally if you need a mouthwash. Fresh leaves can also be used but as the months progress the leaves deteriorate.
    Further Links on Birches:
    Handicrafts ( )
    Baskets ( )
    Canoes ( )

    Making Your Own Cheese

    A Druid Missal-Any presents a recipe for making your own cheese for Oimelc! This recipe is for Queso Blanco, a South American cheese that is similar to the Indian cheese, Panir. It makes a great cooking cheese because it does not melt. The recipe is very simple and makes 1.5 pounds of cheese. I am certain goat's or sheep's milk could be substituted for cow's milk.

    1 gallon organic milk (whole, reduced fat or nonfat)
    1/3 cup vinegar (cider, grain or herb vinegar)

    Warm the milk to 195 degrees F. You should have a cooking thermometer. Stir the milk to keep it from scorching. When the milk is at 195 degrees F., stir in the vinegar. Turn the heat off and let the hot milk set for 10 minutes. The milk will quickly coagulate into solid white curd particles and a clear greenish liquid whey.

    Line a colander with fine cheesecloth and pour the curds and whey into the colander. Hang the bag of curd to drain for one hour or until the curd has stopped dripping whey. Remove the cheese from the cloth. It will be a solid mass of curd and may be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator until ready for use.

    Queso Blanco can be cut into half-inch cubes and used in a variety of dishes. Because it doesnft melt, it works wonderfully in all types of recipes, and can even be deep-fried. You can add it to soups, stir-fried vegetables or pastas; the cheese will take on the flavor of the surrounding food and spices. By itself, the cheese has a very distinct sweet taste.

    Thanks to the Straus Family Organic Creamery for this recipe from their newsletter! For more recipes, check out their Recipe Page at And you can email them at

    Fertility Cycle of the Druid Year
    By Nozomi Kibou
    Archdruidess of Akita Grove

    I apologize for the poor quality of this essay, but I hope you like it. You know, my father's grove is a fertility shrine (people, plants, animals too) so it is important subject for me. I have thought on Paganism and big four holidays and I think they are fertility holidays. Here are the reasons.

    Beltane: It is warm. Young people date and have sex (Pat says "It's a festival of muddy knees and grass-stained dresses"). Planting season.
    Lughnasadh: We know if we have a baby. People marry. Family starts.
    Samhain: Baby gets big. Spirits move in baby. Baby kicks. Hard to work in fields, but okay, that work is done, we can relax, start new plans of life.
    Oimelc: Baby is born. Sheep are born. Not much food, which is hard for mothers. Use sheep milk for babies? By equinox, can work in fields again. Grow baby plants!
    Beltane: Ready again for more babies? Maybe wait one more year, no?

    Sister Tegwedd says we don't need more babies now, "Zero Growth Population," so instead we are mind-creative. Yes, but there is no cycle for that. Most Japanese babies are also born in spring around Feb 1st. April's when school and government and business start a new year in Japan. Very convenient. Birth time of the year, April is. Old Europe started the New Year around Easter, but then changed to Roman Julian calendar. But now most people are not farmers in Wales or Ireland now, so the baby-schedule doesn't work well. Probably more babies in late summer with constant year-round food, long winters, and Fall school starts.

    In modern Ireland there are good luck rules for the wedding, which was often before baby-making. A good wedding will help fertility. See for many fertility rites of "The Traditional Irish Wedding" by Brian Haggerty.

    Old Ireland has no records of "before-birth" advice for women. There were warnings in 11th century that women should have purity of heart and mind and not "heat the womb" during sex; but church didn't like recreational sex back then. Saints took over from Druids in blessing women with fertility, in many unusual ways, including potions. Some babies were born from swallowing live bugs, worms or fish, unusual water plants, sex with giant otters or bird-monsters or night-dreams. There was mystery in how it happened. The best modern advice for all (including men) is to exercise and eat only health food for six months before starting baby/getting married. No drugs, tobacco, alcohol, fatty foods, chocolates, coffee, allergenic foods, meat, gambling and horse racing, avoid rabbits, and corpses. Choose foods with special traits to direct babies personality. In Japan we were special belly-belt to keep belly warm. Stay that way until milking is done. Of course this is not easy. Other tips on diet to make strong babies at

    Once with baby, a blessing from priest and soon grandparents is good. Some make a special bow/knot for the house. When birth comes, untie it and open all windows, doors, cabinets, knots in house and clothes. The baby comes quicker this way. Sometimes a special bird or animal will visit the house during pregnancy, give it honor, and a name to baby. Going to a forge and pushing the bellows would help the birthing later and make a strong baby. But the most important thing is of course strong love from both parents, no fighting and excitement in the house, peace and tranquility. With this, baby will grow well. If the baby did not go well, abortion by potion and self-abuse was also known. There is evidence of infanticide, too. Unfortunately, modern Ireland has worst rate for "caesarian" births (near 25% for first time), a weak midwife system, and no birth-centers as yet. ( ) Yet, this is because of the modern medical monopoly. In the past midwifes were common. This describes a 19th century Co. Mayo birth:

    "After she went into labour, the woman was transferred from her usual bed, which was in the kitchen by the fire, to the floor, which was covered with straw. She put on her husband's jacket, an outsize flannel garment with sleeves, made of homespun wool, or bainin. As the great event drew near, the husband stood at his wife's back, and placed his hands on her shoulders while she was in a kneeling position on the floor. With words of faith, hope, and encouragement, he supported her morally and physically in her trial, while the midwife got on with the great task of bringing a new human life into the world."

    Celtic sources have much more on the raising of children after birth than before birth. The most important fear was ban-sid (faery women) stealing the children and leaving a "changeling," an old faery who never got bigger and shrank. Sometimes the mother would be took and go to fairy hill to raise fairy-babies. This may have been due to emotional stress and mother running away or hurting the child (like that Texas case) in tight society with small support for mother's need. In famous case of Ard Macha, treating pregnant wife rude like the animal (making her race the horses) caused a weak-body curse on all men of North Ireland for many generations. The point is, let pregnant women do what they want!

    More Good sites:

    For Celtic Birth Customs for more Celtic birth customs
    Home Birth Society of Ireland How to predict the baby at , but I think it is a 51-49 chance so don't worry.

    Sudden Oak Death
    Found in Redwoods

    Peter Fimrite,
    San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer
    Tuesday, January 8, 2002

    California's magnificent redwoods appear to be susceptible to the same deadly disease that has infected oak woodlands along the Central Coast, preliminary testing shows.

    The test results, if confirmed in laboratory experiments, could prove economically, environmentally and spiritually ruinous for a state that is linked in the minds of people throughout the world with the giant trees.

    According to plant experts, DNA extracted from redwood sprouts on trees in Big Sur and on the University of California at Berkeley campus proved positive for Phytophthora ramorum spores.

    Scientists studying the disease were quick to point out yesterday that the data have not yet been conclusively confirmed in laboratory experiments on seedlings, as is standard before redwood can be officially designated a host.

    But the data are frightening nevertheless, given how important the timber industry is to the state's economy and the significance environmentalists place on the state's dwindling old-growth redwood forests.

    "We donft know what the ramifications are or whether the disease is killing redwoods, but, if so, imagine California without redwoods," said Matteo Garbelotto, a forest pathologist at the University of California at Berkeley. "I don't think that will happen, but it's something that makes me worry. It's a serious issue that is of great importance for everybody in the state."


    While the scientists seek confirmation, a San Rafael arborist, Ken Bovero, has told researchers he has confirmed through an independent laboratory what he has suspected for some time: that the pathogen is killing redwoods.

    It was not clear yesterday what scientific steps the independent lab used and Bovero could not be reached for comment.

    The disease, also known as sudden oak death, has killed tens of thousands of black oak, coast live oak and tan oak trees from Monterey County to southern Oregon

    The disease-causing organism, which is commonly referred to as a fungus but is more closely related to brown algae, is the same type of organism that caused the Irish potato famine in the mid-1800s.

    Although some chemicals have been shown to reduce infectious lesions, scientists have not found a cure.

    First detected in Marin County in 1995, it has spread like a plague through 10 California counties, infecting many other species of trees and plants along the way.

    Some areas, like China Camp State Park in San Rafael, have been so ravaged by the disease that campgrounds had to be closed, and dozens of trees had to be chopped down so they wouldn't fall on hikers.


    The concern about redwood trees began in earnest in September, when forest pathologists attending a conference in Carmel noticed a lot of dead sprouts coming out of redwood tree trunks at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

    The sprouts on redwood trees are important for regeneration. When a redwood tree dies, Garbelotto said, one of the ever-present sprouts grows and takes its place.

    Plant pathologist David Rizzo of the University of California at Davis took a sample, and laboratory tests performed by Garbelotto detected spores from the deadly pathogen. The discovery was a jolt to scientists because a redwood is a conifer, unlike any of the other hosts for the disease.

    Tests were then done on sprouts from several redwoods on the UC Berkeley campus, which also showed ramorum spores.

    "Because it was so serious, we didn't release the information publicly," said Garbelotto, adding that he had come forward now after it became clear the information was about to get out through another source.

    Garbelotto said researchers still had not determined whether the spores were actually infecting the trees or were simply present by coincidence. Studies also must determine how prevalent the pathogen is, whether it kills the trees or whether redwoods simply act as a host, like several other kinds of trees.

    Studies on redwood seedlings inoculated with the disease are expected to be completed this month and will probably answer those questions, he said.

    "Preliminarily, we did see from our samples in nature that the phytophtora was colonizing the tissue, but we have to confirm that," Garbelotto said.

    One need not be an economist or environmentalist to understand the seriousness of the potential problem.

    If the deadly microbe is, in fact, present in redwoods, it could be catastrophic, even if the mighty trees do not die from the disease.

    A statewide quarantine of wood products that currently limits the movement of wood products containing the pathogen would create a bureaucratic nightmare for timber companies. Just getting wood to the mill could become nearly impossible, especially if the wood has to cross county lines.

    Tourists who want to visit redwood country might also face restrictions because of fears that they would spread the spores on their shoes.

    E-mail Peter Fimrite at

    A Miner's Lettuce Leaf Grows in San Francisco
    I walk through downtown San Francisco and the Financial District every day to and from work. There is a row of Sycamore trees along Battery Street that last year had the patch of ground around them that gave them a little space between the their trunks and the concrete surrounding them covered with decorative pebbles and grates. Until that time small clusters of Miners Lettuce would sprout after the first Winter's rain. I thought how odd yet how tenacious these little plants must be to survive in such a place, mere inches from the exhaust of cars and the soot of the city.

    Last year at this time I was sad because I knew that the so-called beautification of the ground around the trees destroyed the habitat of this seemingly out of place native plant. Some grasses sprung up in their place and perhaps what looked like chickweed. But my favorite, the Miners Lettuce was gone, casualties in the name of civilization, though I still glance down to where they grew as if to eulogize them with that gesture.

    Today, as most days that I take that path, I looked down to where the Miner's Lettuce once grew. What was this that I saw? That familiar succulent bowl with the tiny white flower that grew from the middle of it! Did I believe what I saw? Yes, the Miner's Lettuce had returned! I don't know how or what, but somehow the managed to survive a year underground

    PantheaCon 2002?
    PantheaCon 2002? Double Tree Inn in San Jose, CA
    February 15-18, 2002