A DRUID MISSAL-ANY
Samhain, 39 Y.R.
Samhain, Samhuinn in Scots Gaelic, Sauin in Manx, from sam fuinn "Summer's end," marks the Celtic New Year, the day when the veil between the Worlds is the thinnest. Fires were lit on sacred hills this night. It was customary to extinguish the household fires, symbolizing the end of Summer, and then relight them from the ceremonial fire marking the beginning of the new season, Winter, the Season of Sleep. For the first time Baccharis Grove will be enacting this tradition during the service when the Third Order Druids exchange their ceremonial red ribbon for white. After the New Year's revelry and merrymaking rejoicing in the bountiful harvest of the previous year, we prepare ourselves for this long period of darkness as our thoughts turn to contemplation, reflection, and renewal.
This Samhain issue marks the one year anniversary of this publication of A Druid Missal-Any. It is beyond your editor's wildest dreams that the Missal-Any would increase from a mere two pages that very first issue to this longest issue of eighteen. Groves reporting seasonal news grew from two to twelve. The number of subscribers has grown both in hard copy, email, and internet subscriptions. We have had to increase the yearly subscriptions to $6.00 with issue due to the increase in length and postage. The Missal-Any has indeed become a vehicle for other RDNA Groves to keep in touch with one another and the Reform. I wish to thank Larry and Susan, the other officers in the Grove, for their support and encouragement in this endeavor, Mike Scharding for his patience with my idiosyncrasies (a polite term for pickiness and stubbornness) and for making the Missal-Any available on the internet, and Emmon, as always, without whom none of this would be possible.
News of the Groves
Festivities for the Equinox included food, music, merriment, and story-telling, and maybe even a fire. In October, there was a nature walk to enjoy the fall colors and observe plants and animals. On the full moon was a torch-lit procession to the Arb.
Monument Grove, D.C.
Things are quieting down, at the time of this writing (Oct 3rd) and people are going about their lives again. Mike moved Oct 20th to the S.E. corner of Washington, closer to the Capitol Building (personal safety has never been his forte). He intends to give the house a goodly amount of blessings, before moving in.
Akita Grove, Japan
My sister Megumi, has moved to Tokyo, dropping our Grove to five family members. Her new husband doesn't like religion. We are assisting my father to run the local Matsuri festival at his Shrine (jinja), and he was curious how the American pagans have their festivals, which is when we first down sat and talked. He was a bit disapointed with some of the customs, Pat explained, but liked Beltane and Samhain; and he already knows about Christmas, "It has good points, but we know more. They should study here."
Father has a good idea. RDNA members will learn much if they come. Brothers Mike, Pat, and Arik came and are happy with the effects the JET program. 2,000 Americans come each year, teach English, receive much money, and do town festivals for one year. It is famous and good. Applications need to be in on December, so don't wait. On HTML, type http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/jet/index.html or ask Brother Mike (email@example.com) who works at the Japan Embassy in D.C. (this is the JET home office, too). You must be less than 35and have a B.A. Other ways are difficult, too.
So come to Japan!
Halloween is famous in Japan, and some towns have celebrations for it. Japan has own in August (obon festival) for dead people. We will make pumpkins and have a fire for all night, yea!
Creeks Called Rivers Grove
We've been semi-busy planning our Samhain Spooky Gorsedd and Festival of Party Food. The costume theme this year is "Redneck Tolkien," and we've been working on digging up Appalachian ghost stories for telling. Other than that, Feck's wedding in the land of sand, gambling, and Elvis is our only big news.
Amon Sul Grove
During August we attended two festivals: Summerland, near Dayton, Ohio and Lammas, at Oakthorn Farm in Menifee County, Kentucky. Both events involved much merrymaking and many opportunities to get to know other Pagans. Oakthorn Farm is owned by a central Kentucky Pagan and it is the site of several festivals each year. Lammas was a fairly small gathering of 20-30 persons and it had a family reunion atmosphere to it. Summerland is sponsored by the Sixth Night Grove, ADF and this was their third annual gathering. Those who enjoy elaborate rituals would have found the Saturday rite particularly interesting (Amergin, Senior Druid to the Grove, is an old and dear friend and we have an ongoing discussion about his "High Church" approach to ritual and my own preference for spontaneity). Some of the subscribers to the kypaganforum (a Yahoo E-group) had been discussing starting a Pagan Night Out in the Lexington area and we had our first monthly get together in August. We meet at an Irish pub and practice the ancient art of conversation over a pint or two. The Grove's web site at: http://geocities.com/gandalf4.geo, is working some of the time. Contact the grove by sending an email to Gandalf952@cs.com.
Grove of One
The Dilemma of a Gemini Druid
Greetings, Brothers and Sisters, in the Mother and Be'al! I have a problem. Now, granted many of you may not take astrology seriously, but based on my own observances, I'd have to say there might be something to it. You see I have the Moon, Sun and Jupiter (I think, it's one of the big planets) in Gemini. Apparently Gemini in general have problems making decisions, but according to my friend Susan, I might as well go and hide from the world; I should join a monastery or something. I can't make up my mind about anything! I've always fighting with myself over which religion I want to be a part of. I've been a Christian (wide variety), Buddhist, Taoist, Wiccan, Satanist and Asatruer. Hell, I even hung out with the Hare Krishnas for a day! It spills out into my mundane life as well windows or Linux? Linux or BSD? BSD or Windows!?! AHHHHH!
I guess this is why I was overjoyed to have stumbled (drunkenly?) over
Brother Mike's website. Finally I was allowed to think whatever the hell I
wanted to, even if it would change the next hour. Yea, I even found others
just as screwed up as I. However I don't get to talk much to other Druids
(besides Mike every other month or so), being fairly lazy about
communicating with people. So, I suppose this is an open letter to see if
other Druids share this Dilemma. Maybe, from what I've read in the ARDA, we
have more in common than just an appreciation of Nature; perhaps we all
share the Dilemma of a Screwed up.err, umm I mean Gemini Druid.
I'm working on called The ELDAR Tree (Electronic Library of Druidical Awareness and Research). It's a CD-ROM of a whole bunch of sacred writings from all over the world, with a nifty interface. If you'd like a copy, probably around Yule, let me know. I don't know if I'll distribute it beyond friends, since the whole legality thing gets rather tricky as far as wide spread distribution, but if you want I suppose I could burn up about 25 copies and offer them through A Druid Missal-Any. After that it'd have to be a grove sharing thing.
Missionary Order of the Celtic Cross Muskogee, Mother Grove
Preparations for Samhain-Yule season are currently under progress, which should disturb EVERYONE. The Archdruid has found recipes for Bread of the Dead for Dia de los Muretos and will be making copious amounts. An odd combination has found it's way into the Muskogee Grove that will no doubt dumbfound the entire Druid community, but we gotta go with what works. Belly dancing and St. Jude. Which leaves us with the question of can a Druid group have a Patron Saint? Belly dancing you ask? Who are we to argue??? Anyhows, this fall and winter season should be quite lively here.
Myrddin A Maeglin, Archdruid of the Grove, continues adding our prayers to the intertribal council fire lit in Summit, OK on Sept. 11 for the victims of the attacks. Let all of us pray for wisdom. This declare above all: Healing and Light and Peace.
MOCC, Seattle Grove
Daniel Hansen (DC01:Scharding) has also entered the Third Order of DAL after a period of six years of study, and is considering the establishment of an RDNA grove.
As predicted in the I-Ching, Tarot, and entrails of gummy worms; The Swamp Grove has risen from the swamp. Actually, we found some new members who asked about our Druidic past and the old members became nostalgic for the old ways. Since you informed me that most of the founding Druids were pretty much Taoists anyway, we figured that it was silly to stop being reformed Druids, even though it is pretty silly BEING a reformed Druid. We still have many ties to the Pagan community and participated in the local move to stop the Christian coalition from placing religious posters in public schools around the county. Our new website is: http://swampgrove.spiritualitea.net
We are preparing for a Walk With the Ancestors on the 27th with some of the other local Pagans. The Cypress Moon Circle have a wonderful area up in Bonita Springs, about 40 minutes or so north of us, and since our Grove has still not dried out from the heavy rains of late September, we are happy to have a dry place and some good company on Samhain. We have also been planning our next Grove gathering, possibly the Festival of Silly Hats, sometime soon.
Ancient Circle Grove
Our Samhain gathering will be a memorable affair. We will commence with a procession and ritual. Two members will receive their rites of apprenticeship at this time. Feasting, games, dancing and drumming around the bonfire will bring the evening to a close. Each Grove member will depart from the gathering toting home a souvenir bottle of "Middle Ages Brewery" limited edition "Druid Fluid" barley wine.
November 3rd marks our first convocation. At this time new officers will be elected and the year in retrospect will be presented by the Archdruid, Purse warden and Scribe. We will discuss our plans, hopes and dreams for the upcoming year.
We currently have four new people who are interested in the Grove.
Ongoing projects include maintaining the upkeep at an old cemetery (in which we have utilized the free labour of high school kids in need of a community service project as a course requirement), and producing "Ancient Circles Gathering," a newsletter distributed free to the public to foster a greater sense of community spirit among those who practice an earth-based spirituality. Our food pantry is small but growing and our bank account reflects the same modesty.
We will be working with the DSS to "adopt" a needy family at Yule and share our own abundant blessings with those who have less, to make the holiday a joyous affair for everyone.
A more formal schedule of meetings will be instituted in the coming year and classes on a variety of subjects will also be implemented. This at the request of Grove members.
Filing for our non profit status is an ever ongoing drama. (Editor's note: be careful of this becoming a Grove drama as well as a bureaucratic one. We speak from experience!)
As always, the public is welcome at our rituals.
Druid Heart Spirit Grove
Druid Heart Spirit is getting ready for our Samhain campout. We have had some difficulty in getting everyone's schedules squared away and in order, but I think we've got a plan now. Our Samhain campout has been rescheduled for the weekend following the actual Samhain date. Even though we did not hear back from to many, we are still going to do it, and jump the Samhain fires all night, and play music.
The Yahoo groups e-mail list has proved to be a sufficient means for attracting new membership inquiries, and is bringing new folks to the Grove. The Celtic Sweat lodge is taking longer than I wish. Digging three feet down into clay soil is hard work, so we decided to wait till we have a roto-tiller to help us along.
Our new member Celeste and I had a wonderful time going through our First Order ordinations at Baccharis Grove. Such great company were they to be around.
It has been a long dry summer up at the Orinda Grove site and some of the Grove's sacred trees suffered. Water wars continued to ensure with the tenant of the main house who didn't understand the importance of keeping the drip lines running the hotter, drier months. Deciding to take things into our own hands we made a request to Taranis for a little rain for the trees at the Fall Equinox service. Two days later there was the biggest thunderstorm and lightening show the Bay Area had seen in 20 years. Never underestimate a request to the deities. And be careful what you wish for!
This past year the Grove Elderberry did not revive itself from its winter dormancy. Our Preceptor made the trek up to the North Coast Native Plant Nursery in Petaluma, where we had gotten our native Foothill Pine earlier in the year, to purchase a native Blue Elderberry in time to plant and dedicate for Samhain. There is a new manager at the nursery. When I noticed bags of seeds and asked if she could start actually trees from them, she replied half jokingly with the help of some spells. It was after that I saw a copy of Drawing Down the Moon on the office bookshelf. I took it down to show her where the RDNA is mentioned. She was quite pleased to be supplying trees for a sacred Grove. For transplanting the Elder we came across Foxfarm Organic Planting Mix with earthworm casings and bat guano.
Our Preceptor is taking beginning Scottish Gaelic classes found through The Gaelic Society of America, ACGA. Yes, such things are still available! You can find local classes by looking at their listing of classes on http://www.acgamerica.org/language/classes.html or on the Scottish Gaelic Learners Association of the Bay Area page: http://members.tripod.com/~scotgaelic/index.html
Druid News from Outside the Reform
Isaac Bonewits (BK68:Larson), former Arch Druid of ADF, has another good essay for us about the perils of fundamentalism and the ways to cure it. The full article is at: http:///www.neopgan.net/Call-to-Arms.html or http://www.geocities.com/mikerdna/isaacrant2.html
Skip Ellison, ADF's Archdruid, will be in Madison on November 1st. An informal gathering of Wisconsin and nearby ADF members is planned for that evening.
. Liturgical Rigamarole
This is a discussion of the various Groves that arose from your editor possibly opening up the proverbial can of worms by desiring to resurrect the Council of Dalon Ap Landu (being a member is one of the perks of being a Third Order Druid). Not realizing that what she had known it as by time she joined the Reform in the 80s and what it had been intended as during the early years at Carleton were indeed two entirely two different entities.
From the Baccharis Grove Arch Druid: "Originally, CoDAL was INTENDED to be a governing body that would make decisions for the Reform as a whole. Whether it ever actually WAS such I don't know, but if so it didn't last for long--in fact, the Druids being who and what we are, the Reform as a whole is ungovernable, so any such attempt is doomed from the start. At any rate, I'm sure that this organization (or something analogous to it) must be what Mike understands you to mean when you speak of "the Council of Dalon Ap Landu."
On the other hand, by the time you and I came on the scene CoDAL had ceased to exist as a governing body (if in fact it ever was such), but we all continued to use the term "Council of Dalon Ap Landu" to refer to what amounts to a mailing list: in effect, all the Third Orders whose addresses we knew. Whenever any of us had some announcement, suggestion, complaint etc. that we thought ought to concern the Reform as a whole (or just those Third Orders whose addresses we knew), we'd send it out to everybody on the list, and claim that we were thereby notifying the Council of Dalon Ap Landu. Here, "Council of Dalon Ap Landu" was arguably a misnomer, but we retained the term for historical reasons i.e. the mailing list was in fact more-or-less just the people who would have been on the real governing body, had there been one. Obviously when you speak of "the Council of Dalon Ap Landu," it's this second sense that you mean.
A discussion ensued amongst the various Groves over hierarchy and the validity of the Orders .
Amon Sul Grove:
One of the reasons that I "jumped the broom" and took up with the RDNA was that I was convinced that it truly believed in diversity. To me, this begins with embracing a full spectrum of opinions. The subject line of the email that I responded to was Liturgical Rigmarole. It was not my intent to in any way question the right of anyone to embrace hierarchical structures. I was just expressing a personal opinion that such structures are "silliness." As far as I am concerned, recognition of faithful service comes from the respect of one's peers, not from being elevated to the next level. I have known too many people who have risen to the highest degrees of whatever organization they were in and were still total losers. As far as I am concerned, respect is earned and not conveyed by titles. I return to my assertion that all Druids are equal and I continue to have concerns that "Orders" are elitist.
Faerie Spell Grove
hee hee! (let the old man speak for a moment...)
This is what keeps the minds fresh and alert--dissenting voices are allowed to be heard. Every note on this so far has had its merit. I agree that practice and study do assist in a better understanding of the world around us, but it is far better to be a loose band of tree huggers than to focus so tightly on regimen that we become like the Catholic Church. Personally after 25 years of serious practice and study, I have come to laugh at myself--for nature has taught me more in her simplistic complexity than any book or ritual ever has.
I am humbled by the layers of knowledge at our disposal if we just learn to observe nature do her thing (as we are even a part of that while we observe). And on a great cosmic scale as with the cellular level--we are all equals. Ribbons and badges of honor are wonderful fineries, but nature would only laugh at our self-glorification anyway. Why do you think all the druids wore white robes. Should we start wearing colored robes and denote who get to carry a walking stick?
Okay enough of my ranting. Of course I love you all and I know you are all correct!
It is unfortunate that you have had bad experiences with people being raised up the hierarchical ladder without merit. I too have experienced that in other groups non pagan related, and it seems based on such things as popularity, one is "good" that day, or the proverbial kissing up. There are some Druid groups where if you read certain books, take certain classes you come out a Druid. To mind my being a Druid is much much more than that.
In the RDNA I haven't experienced the things both you and I have in other situations. In that the RDNA is like a breath of fresh air blowing up a mountain side. The Carleton Druids set down the tradition of the three orders (see A Druid Anthology). It wasn't something that was made up along the way to satisfy those who were power hungry. In my 17 years as an RDNA Druid those who were merely in it for the title didn't last long and eventually faded away.
In my experience those who achieved the higher orders did so out of recognition of faithful service and the respect of one's peers. When one is the ordaining ArchDruid of a Grove s/he in my opinion should have the wisdom to weed out those who have questionable motives for climbing that hierarchical ladder.
But as is one of my favorite sayings of the RDNA, it is one way, yea, one way among many. It the orders don't work for you that is ok too.
Faerie Spell Grove
Okay! Here's some fun food for thought:
...having read both of your wonderful emails I am proud to be a druid (whatever the hell that is) and be associated with the RDNA. I have never been a joiner, but throwing in my lot with the RDNA just sounded like too much fun. I am deadly serious about my practice and as far as study, research and all the rest of that junk that goes along with one who gets to carry the "oak stave" (oooh! I just impressed myself!) to thump the youbnins with. But I tend to watch what I allow myself to be called as my ego is bigger than any title one might pass on.
Thus I go by no title at all (well maybe "Grand Poobah"--from the Flintones, "faerie prince" or maybe something like "that hippie bum who should cut his hair and get a 'real' job" depending on the ritual and whether I am playing with my pet squirrels or being humbled by the majesty of a nearby family of hawks and their ability to fly outside of a metal can with wings).
In your own worlds, your words carry a sanctity reserved for the highest of truths. What we seem to be discussing here is not so much the matter of who gets to wear what, but more an extremely personal view of what spirituality means. Again, I can find points that I like in both of your arguments, but I am leaning (personally) towards Gandalf's line of thinking (being a philosopher at heart--regimen is an extremely powerful tool that too easily becomes an inescapable trap). So in short, I agree with you both and believe that what you state reflects truths far more powerful in your magics than simple Freudian leanings. This is how you bond with the world. And I think it is really cool that you two are so open as to share these thoughts!
So here's the punch line. In light of all of this I hope not to bore you with more of my cryptic ramblings, but rather to entice a smile to pass across your face with my next nutty idea.
Having seen covens again and again I have seen the inherent problems and wisdom contained in hierarchical structures. I have long pounded my own pulpit to all who would listen that "someday" I would start my own order and everyone would start out as an HP. Welcome to the coven/grove/elite group of metaphysicians (or whatever...) Now go out and buy yourself the biggest sword you can find and tell all your friends that you are a High Priest/ess. Use it to get laid--and abuse your power in any way you think fit. As one progressed in their learnings, they would be stripped of their ribbons and badges one by one until they attained the vaunted title of "peon" and had the distinct honor of being a "nobody."
Very Zen in a way, but not for the same purpose. Knowledge creates power which creates responsibility. Responsibility is a heavy stone to bear and takes some strong shoulders to carry it with you throughout the day. I have been creating leaders for quite some time now and made far too many mistakes along the way--thus I have learned the power of titles well and I play with them occasionally to remove any emotional attachment I may have to them. The moral of this story is not that titles are worthless, but that when one truly becomes a master, one needs no title at all. It shows in every thing you do. It's the rest of us who need reminders of how far we have progressed. If that comes in the form of a title, woo hoo! But it is really meant for us, is an extremely personal thing, and means little to anyone else, because the wiser you are, the more you can learn from people who know less than you. If that reminder comes in the form of a badge (trophy) or a badger (totem/guide), take it to heart, but don't allow it to be an outwardly shining light--because it tends to blind some and just annoy others.
...okay I will be climbing down off of my high horse as soon as I can find a ladder tall enough after that tirade. It is 3 am and I am just annoying myself now. I am off to bed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and as for mine--well I am glad I have the excuse that it is 3 a.m.--lest it might have been better worded.
I myself follow the same line of thinking. The group that I have study on their own for the most part. We get together to share the knowledge we accumulate, and to pass it on. We are separate, but one. We each have our own views, our own reasons for being Druids, and our own gifts that we bring to the RDNA. We are Druids. Individuals with common goals and a love for nature that surpasses all other things. We are the spirit of the woods, and the voice of nature. We will always be Druids regardless of others views. Even if tomorrow we no longer share the views of the RDNA, we will still be Druids. Forever we serve.
The reality of the order is always been clear to me, we are individuals serving the higher purpose of the Earth. Though badges are nice finery, they only show your dedication. Your respect comes from actions, and not from badges. I myself have been a Druid for 20 years by myself, and have done so of my own choice. I have recently become part of the RDNA, now hold a Grove of my own, and have no badges whatsoever. I have areas in all three, but does that mean I am not a Druid because I have no badges? No it doesn't. It simply means that being a Druid is more that simple finery and title. It is a way of life that earns respect by action. A Druid is (in essence) a physical part of nature's actions. We are a part of the whole plan that makes up life, and not just the part that makes up man kind. If any Druid out there holds the material things and badges more sacred, then to me s/he does not know what a Druids purpose is yet. I hope that my ranting hasn't made anyone angry, and I apologize if it has. I am a Druid. We tend to do that.
I totally agree with you! True, some people join a group for achieving that badge only. I have seen a lot of people, once they achieve it, feel like they no longer need to put any more work into what they are doing. It is a certain amount of frustration for me, because I see that level of achievement as carrying a certain amount of responsibility with it.
My badges as it were are mere symbols of what I have achieved (red ribbons, bronze sickle--though this is very dear to me as it belonged to my dear friend and mentor who has passed on) but I done them with honor and humility and can only hope that I can live up to what they symbolize to me.
For me becoming Third Order is a stepping-stone. I haven't slacked up on my studies at all (and I include academic as well as spiritual), and continue to be very active in my Grove, doing research on Celtic as well as I.E. practices we can incorporate into our services, and working on my won spiritual development. It is important to me to be able to consecrate the waters-of-life in the name of Dalon Ap Landu as prescribed by the Founders of the RDNA.
But this has been my path. It is what is right for me. I cannot tell anyone to do the exact same thing, because each one of us has our one path. If someone should come to me for advice, that is all I can do, advise. I can say what worked for me, make suggestions and recommendations, but I cannot say this is what you should do. You will know in your heart of hearts what is right. Someone asked me earlier in the year "how do I get to be Third Order?" without even asking what the RDNA is all about. For obvious reasons I did not follow up on it.
I hope you do not mind me making this assumption, but it seems to me that our philosophies are not that far off, but it is our methodologies that differ. Your posts have been very thought-provoking and have caused me to put into words what I have but felt up until now.
. On Divination
A Short Talk and Dialog
By the ArchDruid, Baccharis Grove
I had in mind to lead off with the perfect, most appropriate quote; that meant, of course, finding the book containing it. Having found the book, I see that the full quote runs about a page and a half, extravagantly violating all principles of fair use (and necessitating a great deal of typing). Rather than quote in full, I paraphrase; this is appropriate, since the full quote is itself a paraphrase. Here I paraphrase Xenophon paraphrasing Socrates:
"It is not given to man to know all things; that is the province of the gods. But as the gods have given us our limited rational faculty, so have they also given us the oracles. Some questions are suitable to our rationality, and those we must answer rationally; other questions must be put to the oracles. It is arrogant and impious to attempt rational answers for questions that are beyond our rational understanding; likewise it is impious to ask of the gods answers that we can perfectly well find ourselves."
Thus far my paraphrase. An over-simplification perhaps, but otherwise (I trust) a reasonably accurate account of what the translator said Xenophon said Socrates said.
Now let me go back and restate the whole thing (putting words in everyone else's mouths):
1. There are several reasons why a question might not be rationally answerable
a. We may lack information.
b. There might be a rational answer, but we might be too limited intellectually to find it, or to understand it once found.
c. It may be in the nature of the question itself that there is no rationally-attainable answer.
In any of these cases, there could still be an answer (or at any rate, an APPROXIMATE answer) which is attainable IRRATIONALLY (or at any rate, not WHOLLY RATIONALLY).
2. In some important ways, the different divination systems are more-or-less
equivalent; which one(s) you choose may be a matter of taste and
temperament, or just an accident (though some would say it's no "accident")
of which you are exposed to first. The important thing as I see it is that
a. You have a way of answering questions rationally.
b. You have another way of answering questions that you can't answer rationally. c. You know which is which.
3. In other ways, divination systems are all quite different. Each imposes its own view on the world, and tends to answer all questions in the context of that view. (To a hammer, the world is nothing but nails; to a saw, it's nothing but boards.) In fact, each system is best suited to certain sorts of question; nonetheless, it does NOT do to second-guess the oracle--IT knows better than you do which sorts of question it can answer (personal experience speaking here).
Querant: How do I find the information needed to answer a question? And how do I know when I have found that information--does a little "ah ha!" go off in the brain?
Augur. Oops! I think you're assuming one does a divination to find missing information, and then uses that information to (rationally) answer the question. That's not how it usually works.
True, information alone can be the difference between being able or unable to answer a question rationally. And in fact, we CAN use divination to (try to) discover missing information, but I don't know that that works very well. Rather, we may use divination not so much to find the information needed to answer a question rationally, but precisely because we lack that information, and so cannot answer the question rationally.
As for how we know we've "got it right", I think we can only know we have the right information when it gives us the right answer. And how do we know we have the right answer? How do we EVER know? Same sort of tests we apply to any purported answer to any question.
Speaking from experience (not of divination per se but of trying to understand things in general, such as why something happened in a certain way, etc.): sometimes part of understanding is waiting to understand.
Querant: How do I answer questions that I can't answer rationally? Blind faith?
Augur: Blind faith? That may work for some (maybe--I'm unconvinced), but not for me. Of course, there's no guarantee you can answer those questions at all--but the oracles give you additional tools. ALSO, the oracles let you see additional facets of questions that you CAN answer rationally.
Querant: Tools? Let you see? Oh this is beyond me, at least right now! And how else would you know other than faith?
Augur: You're looking at a thing--might not be a physical thing; it might be a social situation, an ethical question, or whatever. You can look at it from a variety of viewpoints (psychological stances, assumption sets, modes of investigation, etc.), and the thing is so complex that no single viewpoint gives a complete picture of it. Rational investigation gives you some of those views of the thing; divination might give you other views of it. The more different directions you view the thing from, the more you know about it. (Though perhaps, not the more sense you can make of it.)
But blind faith? Perhaps you're faith-oriented, whereas I'm unfaith-oriented. As I said, I approach divination as a rational exercise, even though I'm working in a non-rational realm. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Querant: Then it seems to be one of those gut feeling things, like you know when you know, hence the "ah ha!" although knowing and feeling come from two different places--they would seem to be related--oh, but they are both senses! The message comes from or through the senses? How can you test a sense?
Augur: It may be that a highly developed gut perception is the ideal. I'm not sure I'd call that "divination"; it may go beyond divination i.e. it may be a direct perception of that of which divination gives indirect hints. Alternatively, it may be just another mode of divination (depending on how you care to categorize things).
When I think of divination I generally have in mind some system that lets you use your rational faculty (to whatever extent possible) to get information from non-rational sources.
At any rate, I'm head-oriented, rather than gut-oriented, and so I use head-oriented divination systems. I'm sure there are legitimate gut-oriented approaches, but that's terra incognita to me.
Querant: Does divination then come from the head, as it is trying use our RATIONAL faculty?
Augur For me, it does; for you, maybe not.
Querant: In Tarot readings when there was no answer to be found YET, I've noticed that the cards would be ill-dignified and say something about being selfish or out for gain, etc.
Augur: The oracles do that. Not only do you get answers to the questions you ask, but you get answers to questions you didn't ask, and comments on the state of your act in general.
Querant: I've learned that that means I'm not meant to know yet--is this the "there is no answer?"
Augur: Not necessarily. It could also mean you're asking the wrong question, or asking the wrong oracle (i.e. using the wrong method of divination), or whatever. It could even be that the oracle really is giving you an answer, but that you can't see it.
Querant: The kinds of questions I asked most recently when I got the ill-dignified cards were job related ones. Sometimes it just wasn't the time for an answer (maybe I was being pestery or impatient or disparate) or I discovered I didn't phrase the question right.
Augur: Yeah. It can depend a LOT on your current psychological state. It also helps to practice a lot (says one who doesn't).
Querant: How do I find my divinatory method?
Augur: Trial and error. You need to cast about, to see which methods are most congenial to you.
Querant: How do I find out what the methods are?
Augur: Read a lot. Talk to other people. Note also that you don't have to use somebody ELSE'S method; you can modify an existing method to suit your taste (that's what's usually done), or create your own out of whole cloth (that's also done surprisingly often). I think that practice with any method will give insight you can use in learning, modifying, or creating another method.
Querant: How do I become familiar with a method's view so that I know how the answers are colored and adjust accordingly?
Augur: By working with that method A LOT. But don't pay too much mind to the differences between the method's views, at least at first. Remember, it's not wise to second-guess an oracle.
Querant: Should I do a web search for methods? If so, should I search on the keyword "divination?"
Augur : I haven't tried. I'm sure you'd get some hits that way. I've merely learned about numerous systems (generally only a token amount about them) over the years through reading and discussion. I've followed up on the ones that seemed interesting and congenial, and ignored the rest.
Querant: Why would I use divination? The augury for the sacrifice? Any other instances?
Augur: The augury for the sacrifice is one of the traditional instances; it' s really just a special case of the augury for ANY important public function.
I think you should do divinations over ANY important question that doesn't have a really obvious rational answer (and many that do). However, I admit right up front that I don't follow my own advice here as much as I should.
Note though that I don't mean you should ever base an important decision solely on divination--or even primarily on divination-that's just silly.
Querant: Is an oracle a deity?
Augur: You can treat them as such, if that's your bent. I generally don't personify them, except sometimes when talking about them to others. I use the term "oracle" as shorthand for "divination system", with the understanding that such a system is far more complex than it appears at first--so much so, that we might well treat it as sentient, with its own (inscrutable) will--though, as I've said, I generally don't.
Querant: Do or can the Celtic deities play a part in the divination in any case?
Augur: They may have for Emmon; they could for you, if you want them to. And it WAS the old Indo-European tradition that
1. The gods spoke through oracles
2. We don't dare do anything important without first checking whether it's OK with the gods
Prayer in the Work Place?
"It's not just for Ashcroft in the morning anymore!"
By an Anonymous Druid in Antarctica
Sure! Why if Ashcroft can hold a bible-study and prayer meetings in his governmental office in the Department of Justice before starting work, why not me! I was also inspired by my research on Islam where people pray at least five times a day, and a religious man blesses Allah 100 times a day. The Hassidic Druids of North America in the 70s advocated that their members be able to write a blessing for any occasion. I'm not to be outdone on anything, so I devised an ambitious schedule to fill the day with prayer. Before coming here, I also had to navigate the daily rat-race. Turning into a sacred activity will require a new outlook. The possibilities of hexes, prayers, blessings, spell casting are endless, so charge up your non-descript wand (i.e. PowerPoint collapsible pointer rod or a pencil) at night, you'll need it.
Now, rather than make a really long article, I defer to the Reformed Druidic tradition of challenging you to come up with your own appropriate words. As they say, "Prayers need not be long, when the heart is sincere." Just a few words or a sentence will suffice, and you'll soon become really insightful and poetic with practice (i.e. your Bardic skills). Let each time, be as the first. Perhaps if you don't feel like praising at those times, you should just say, "Not now, sorry." You don't have to selfishly wish for personal gain in these situation, I find it's rather nice just to acknowledge the joy of participating in life's abundant activities. The first week sucked. They may be whispered, shouted, signed or silently thought; "The gods know our hearts, even when we don't know the words." We in the RDNA are after awareness right? Besides you've heard that people who are married, those who pray, and vegetarians tend to live longer; why? Because they must carefully think about what they're doing, take a concern in those around them, and abstain from most unhealthy activities.
Here are some recommended situations to try some praying, most are obvious, and you can think of more:
Cooking and Partaking of Food (all meals)
Partaking of Waters (all times)
Dressing (wards of protection, attracting love and respect)
On seeing the sun, moon or sky
On leaving the house: (invoke protection)
On first touching the ground
On first sight of a living creature
On meeting a friend
Commuting (all times)
Restraining Road Rage
On hearing a wise thing
On hearing good news
On avoiding disaster
On entering and leaving your workplace (very Japanese)
Photocopier (apology for paper wastage)
Computer Wards (no crashes)
Impromptu blessing for good health (sneezing)
Word Processing (make me glib)
Handing in reports (be impressed)
Undertaking new projects
Modifying office moods
Office betting pool
Gossip (protect me, get him)
Recycling (return, to come again)
Meetings (anti-boredom/pressure, speakership)
Mid-day yoga (energy-raiser):
Late afternoon fatigue (focus):
Dealing with children and spouse:
Going to Sleep:
Other Special Situations:
Office Magic Equipment:
Computer for divining weather and unknown knowledge.
Paper-weight for storing energy.
Staple for binding power "So staple it be."
PowerPoint pointer rod.
A Few Thoughts About Samhain and Sacrifice
By Mortus, the Morose Druid
(Please refer to NRDNA's 1979 article: http://www.geocities.com/druidarchives/pent3-2part2.html titled "Now, About Those Human Sacrifices.." about Celtic Gaul.)
We all know that there are only three certain things in life; death, taxes and idiots. As much as we dislike them, often all three arrive together. But with this essay, please tolerate the first and third.
Well, it is Samhain, so it's time to bring up that perennial subject; death. (Fun activities at the end.) Yes, death, a subject rarely brought up willingly in our modern cult of youth and life. It is a huge far-reaching subject, on which I'd like to endlessly ramble for a six pages. It is a huge topic that we all are deeply concerned about. Life is, of course, not separate from death, it only looks that way because, "Death stares old men in the face, and lurks behind the back of youth." Perhaps one of the reasons we are so shocked in our society by sudden violent death, is that we persist in that infantile belief of immortality, bolstered by medical and social advances that virtually promise us a death by old age. Death always comes out of season to us, it seems. Yet, throughout history, death was a daily possibility and old age a rare achievement; therefore worthy of respect. (Possibly, a reason why current seniors are not respected is that there are too many of them?) Talk to an insurance salesmen if you really want the morbid statistics of modern dangers. Our fear of death, combined with our materialistic fear of economic loss has made the whole concept of "sacrifice" particularly unpleasant to many today.
The very word "Sacrifice" tends to ring warning alarms to pagans, who must constantly prepare arguments and defenses against ill-informed persecution; "Oh, we only use vegetables or Sacagawea Dollars," or such.) But while this word is bandied about in this preparation of America for a "new" war, let's pause to reflect on it's meanings.
Here's a popular view of sacrifice from the O.E.D. (abridged edition);
" sacrifice: n. 1.a. The act of offering something to a deity in propitiation or homage, especially the ritual slaughter of an animal or a person. b. A victim offered in this way. 2.a. Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim. b. Something so forfeited. 3.a. Relinquishment of something at less than its presumed value. b. Something so relinquished. c. A loss so sustained. 4. Baseball A sacrifice hit or bunt. [Middle English, form Old French, from Latin sacrificium: sacer, sacred; see SACRED + facere, to make.]
To "sacrifice" is to "make sacred", which means:
"sacred adj. 1. Dedicated to or set apart for the worship of a deity. 2. Worthy of religious veneration. 3. Made or declared holy: sacred bread and wine. 4. Dedicated or devoted exclusively to a single use, purpose, or person: sacred to the memory of her sister; a private office sacred to the President. 5. Worthy of respect; venerable. 6. Of or relating to religious objects, rites, or practices.
Many cultures make daily offerings, to "respect," "feed," or "bribe" the spirits by setting aside something they want to "pay back" the gods for the kindness of giving it to the devotee in the first place. Taxes operate on a similar level, by our repaying society for the conditions that gave us a good business environment. The ancient Celts, to take but one collection of cultures, would sometimes bury sacrifices of food, animals, dislikable neighbors, in special pits; perhaps as a fertility-death cyclical bargaining (I give you one skinny deer in the fall, you give me 6 months' interest.say, three fat deer in the spring?) The Celts were also quite fond of throwing treasures and leaden body-shaped-parts into hot springs, pools, rivers, wells, fountains, oceans or anything wet. The Romans drained them and took the loot; initiating perhaps the first recycling campaign?) Hopefully, the gods will further bless us and the government will further improve our economic security and quality of life; a cycle of thanking. Uh-huh, that's the theory. And what is the greatest of material losses, but the death of our physical body? What do we get in return?
As a falling tree produces an arboreal opening for a new saplings to grow towards the sun; so does death provide new space for youth to grow. What we call ourselves now, is not the same self we will become in five minutes. You can't step in the same river twice. Even physically, parts of us come and go, with every breath and excretion. I was told that our complete skeleton is reformed on a cellular and molecular level within every 7 years, and few cells in your body were atomically or biologically present 10 years ago. Life is a process not a stationary condition. (Decomposition and reclamation are processes too.) We merely do not notice the death that is around us, when the forces of growth are more apparent or ascendant. Yet we fear the loss of something we've lost many times before. We want quid pro quo; "if I die and give up this body, I WANT eternal life, or.I'll be really miffed about it!" The truth of the matter is that we probably didn't choose to be in this world and we likely won't be able to choose when and how we'll go. They also say, you can get by in this world with only half of what you' re born with, if used rightly. That's all a hard pill to swallow and many religions and industries are built upon this grievous issue. I guess, it's what you do in between that makes all the difference and be glad that we are such a potentially long-lived species among animals.
Some of us have gone beyond a greedy desire for maximum duration of life to assist others. We all revere our parents, teachers and heroes for the hardships and injuries they have sustained on our behalf. Why do good people suffer? That's a $60 billion dollar question. I'm not going to go into a good and evil debate, because I'm not convinced they actually exist beyond the level of concepts. Some say that death and suffering inspire us to use our time wisely, and they are inherent to the biological reality of life on Earth. Around Sept 25th, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said the 9-11 disaster has had some positive impact; "Suffering breeds character, and character breeds faith, and in the end faith will prevail. This suffering has allowed, in the darkest hour, the light to shine most clearly."
Some of the reasons for tragic death are probably poor preparation, unforeseen consequences, and just plain bad luck. Such comfort takes a longtime, if ever, to reassure the victims. Starvation and wasting away are not inherently noble in themselves. Mother Theresa once said, "I pray much better when well-fed and dressed comfortably." Another troubling issue, is that the people most directly responsible for the tragedy died in hopes of receiving divine reward for what is mostly a political statement in a "David and Goliath" act where we were the loser. While suicide for reasons of depression or cowardice are often not esteemed, but doing fool-hardy acts for a cause or to save a group are oft considered heroic even if the result is dead people. I guess for many moderns, it's not a question of "if" they die, but how they live and die. I believe, however, that you shouldn't make that choice to die for others without their permission. All too often, violent acts are result of cheating and are used in place of long-term remedies, ostensibly due to time constraints; thereby dampening rather than solving a problem.
Now, as you all know in the Druid Chronicles "The Early Chronicles," it was determined in April 1963, that the RDNA would not choose animal or human sacrifices (lawyers and politicians were included in 1965), irregardless of their purported effectiveness. Most, if not all, Druid, Wiccan, and Neo-Pagan organizations since then have followed a similar tradition to ours. There is, of course, the agonizing issue of whether fungi are to be treated as plants or animals, as they have characteristics of both! ) There are strangely no records on how to choose a sacrifice, but there is some guidance on how to do think about a sacrifice:
"For one man, the sacrifice of life is the offering up of himself to a god or gods. To another, it is an offering up of his mind to a search for truth."-Book of Faith, v.9
"If one but says "Dalon ap Landu" with the knowledge of the power of it, truly the whole Universe will be forever consecrated."-Thomas the Fool, 1970
Many peoples believe, that spirits with feelings inhabit all objects and creatures, not just "Homo Sapiens Sacrificius." I, personally, try to take only willing sacrifices by divining the feelings of the plants or objects, which might take a long time. And as always, thanks and apologies before and after are to be recommended. I'm moving towards vegetarianism, but still occasionally eat reptiles, fish and bugs. I try to reduce the frequency of consumption and have rarely done the butchering (cowardice on my part, not unlike many Hindus) but I try to be respectful. After all, according to "Babe" they say, "What you eat, walks and talks tomorrow" and "You are what you eat, from your head down to your feet." What goes in, will come out. My wife says that means I'll become a vegetable as I grow older.
In my experience, a sacrifice is rejected when there is a hastily chosen unwilling plant, a poorly directed purpose, misguided intentions of participants, or the gods are in a plain weird mood; and killing for no purpose is not commendable. From my observation, the most common sacrifices in the RDNA have been; leaves, branches, berries, tufts of grass, acorns (plantable afterwards), flowers, home-grown vegetables, etc. The divination of the winds will decide whether the sacrifice is acceptable, and we must patiently await and abide by their decision, not ours. I sometimes cheat though, by only holding services on windy days in areas with many birds. An area, largely unexplored, is how to have an RDNA service or activity without intentionally harming anything, (if such is possible, counting the squashed grass under our dancing feet, airborne microbes, etc. See Jainism.) Would it be too much to bring the ceremony to the uncut offering, which would then live a life of service?
It would be well for the squeamish Neo-Pagans to remember that animals are still routinely raised and killed for religious feasts throughout the world. Examples could include Thanksgiving Turkeys, Christmas Goose/Ham, Easter Lambs, July 4th BBQ, Sajigor goat sacrifice in Kalasha, India, Kosher meat preparation, the ever-popular Uidhyah goat sacrifice for Eid holiday in Islam, the reverent buffalo slaughters among Native American plains tribes to teach their children, pig feasts in Borneo, Santeria rites, etc. Christianity prizes the voluntary human sacrifices of its founder and martyrs. Historically, the pre-diasporic Judaic kingdoms had their own fair share of temple sacrifices (and possibly may have again if a few hard-core Orthodox Jews can ever remove the "Dome of the Rock" mosque from the site of the Solomon's Temple.) For those tribal hunters who are still in an ever-present-holy-moment-union with the Earth, any act of hunting is a religiously imbued activity. Ancient tribes are especially afraid that angering an animal's spirit, would reduce the hunt next year. All this goes on, yet journalists would be delighted to uncover a report on a dog killed by some pathetic Satanists. And yet in America, home of the top animal protein consumers, husbandry and abattoirs are conveniently efficient and simply barbaric; if not unhealthily operated as a whole. No one prays at their deaths.
But why do people kill things in a religious service, if most religions are life-affirming, in theory at least? A possible theoretical liturgical reason, offered by the venerable Isaac Bonewits (2nd Epistle, Ch7), is that a living (plant, fungal, bacterial or animal) creature allegedly releases energy on its death, (and some while it's alive, too), which might amplify the resonance of a magic raising activity. [I wonder if a flashlight, a plutonium cell, dancing, sex, or campfire could substitute the necessary energy in place of living sacrifices?] Perhaps it is so.
I also disagree with the above definition's hint that only "victims" are sacrificed. While all religions have offered material sacrifice in some format, most ancient cultures freely accepted the necessity or advantage of sacrifice of living creatures, some even considering it such an honor as to volunteer themselves. In some cases, the volunteer would be instructed with lengthy messages to convey to the deities involved, kind of like a court witnesses being briefed by lawyers to present their villages case. However, I suspect that the vast bulk were less than thrilled with their candidacy, often being the criminals, disliked trouble-makers, or prisoners of war of a society. Civilization helped make it possible, as self-sustaining small villages needed as many people alive as possible, due the death rate; but cities often have less-than-necessary inhabitants to be mistreated or sent to war.
With rare exceptions, death is irreversible and final; so unsanctioned killings have been punished more severely than non-fatal injuries by legal codes of most states. It's not my purpose to wade deeply into the debate the pros & cons of capital punishment (see China, Florida, and Texas), but it's interesting that priests are still an integral part of the execution process, although few would label these priests as "blood thirsty"; rather, they're merely there to comfort the victim and restrain the vengeful passions of bystanders, and perhaps to mitigate the executioners' guilt for breaking one of their 10 commandments. To their credit, that great Fertility Cult, (known as the Catholic Church) now tries to sacralize life; and prevent such state-sponsored murders, albeit sometimes to excess. The Druids, themselves, were often also present at matters of life and death, like councils of war, exiling (which equaled death) or executions. Depending on the individual, perhaps they enjoyed or dislike the responsibility involved. One could also make the case that vendettas and war are a "viral" form of human sacrifice that is out of control and self-feeding (like an inferno), soon bereft of whatever religious impulses that may have motivated or restrained the initiators. Once life is stripped of its holy aspect, fearful things become conceivable.
I can think of three attitudes towards death. 1. If you feel that death is an end to all existence, it is a dirty distasteful thing to be feared and avoided at all costs and deeply mourned. 2. If you feel that death is a one way journey to a (hopefully) pleasant place, then death should be an acceptable; if not desired. Of course, "A man's dying is more the survivors' affair than his own," so you shouldn't recklessly hasten your death, widows really hate being told "He's in a happier place." 3. If you feel that death is a two-way or cyclical journey, then the above applies, plus any apprehension or anticipation of having to start all over again from scratch; either in re-birth or re-incarnation. Perhaps it is so.
The ancient Celts and Europeans, on first glance do not seem inordinately afraid of death; in fact, many literary heroes hardly even notice their death until long after the fact. After all, "A brave man dies but once-a coward many times." In the case of the Celts, there are references to ancient Celts loaning money and expecting repayment in the next life. People would keep the heads of enemies or friends, occasionally talking and giving them a feast. But, how the average Joe McBlow felt is less certain. Perhaps, it's along the lines of "It's a good day to die.tomorrow" or "Who wants to live forever?.Okay, but who ELSE?" or "I am not afraid to die, I just don't to be around when it happens."
In Celtic myth, there are tales of Avalon (Island of Apples), Tir nan Og (Land of Youth), Islands out West over/under the Ocean (America?), Hybrasil, Annwyn (in the Tales of Pryderi), and the Faery underworlds of mounds and tombs. See the Voyage of Mael Dun for another interesting journey by boat. A general sense of connection is thought to exist in the same place, like parallel universes, that are crossed-over sometimes (especially on holidays like Beltane and particularly Samhain). Ghosts, spirits, saints, saints, monsters, faeries are rampant in their mythology that continues to this day.
So, finally, as you know, the greatest traditional remnant concerning death is the great fire-festival of Samhain (or the triple holiday of Halloween, All Saints' Day, and All Souls' Day). You've read already read oodles about Samhain on the internet, you know its roots and know all that stuff about it being a Celtic new-year (a new calendar year in the NRDNA). I'm a "doer" not a "liturgist;" festivals for me are about doing interesting related projects. Here are a variety of uncommon activities (I tire of pumpkins) that I believe are especially appropriate during this period of time.
. Samhain Suggestions!
Visit and tidy-up the graves of family, friends and respected people.
Seances are popular at this time of year, but book in advance!
Hold a "dumb feast" with no talking and plates for ancestors.
Contemplate your own funeral arrangements, especially if you want to fight
"The Industry" and have a natural funeral free of chemical and air-tight sealed caskets.
Include the dead in your thoughts during the daily grind.
Begin a custom of thanking the things we kill and eat.
Visit an abattoir or kill your own dinner (fish is the least unpleasant), which will open your eyes and heart to some cold facts.
Work on your will, living-will, powers-of-attorney, and insurances.
"Sacrifice" some fun, for retirement planning.
Discuss deeper issues of after-life with your children and spouse.
Research genealogy and visit elderly relatives (research for Eulogies).
Get a health-check-up and other medical appointments. Quit smoking.
Rake leaves, plan a composting heap (done properly, they don't stink)
Plant acorns, salt meat and jerky, pickle things.
Go hunting or fishing [or "camera-stalking" of prominent politicians.]
Volunteer to escort children for Halloween (you get candy, too!)
Adopt an overseas child or assist a charity.
At Carleton, we'd pour molten-lead or wax into cold water and divine things.
Protest the most recent prejudiced horror-flick of the season.
Lobby against the funeral industry.
Make a list of 100 things you've done, and 100 more you want to do.
Contemplate capital punishment, war, crime, sanitation and vegetarianism.
Bless your pets with smoke (yes, jumping through a fiery hoop is okay.)
Clean your home, extinguish your oven/furnace's pilot-light and relight it.
Replace the batteries in your smoke detector, buy a fire extinguisher, etc.
. Neolithic Farmhouse Discovered in Scotland
The remains of a Stone Age farmhouse, built more than 1,000 years before the pyramids, have been uncovered by archaeologists in a cornfield in Perthshire (Scotland).
The 6,000-year-old home, complete with a living area, bedroom and cooking area, lies close to Britain's longest Stone Age burial cairn near Callander. Historians believe that it and the Auchenlaich cairn were part of the same Neolithic settlement.
The discovery, by archaeologists from the universities of Glasgow and Stirling, is one of two such structures uncovered in Scotland. The other is at Balbridie, Deeside. Gordon Barclay, an archaeologist from Stirling University, said: "This type of enormous timber building is only the second of its kind ever found. This is a very important site, even longer and possibly even older than what we have found before. There is nothing like it anywhere else in Europe." The building is 25 metres long and nine metres wide with walls formed by massive timber posts each about one metre apart. A second line of posts one metre in, along with posts inside the massive room, once supported a thatched roof.
Dr Barclay said the size and built strength of the farmhouse indicated that the Neolithic people were skilled engineers. "This is no shack that somebody has thrown up. It is an enormous, very sophisticated piece of engineering, built to last. The only other evidence we had was of much smaller, lighter structures. This proves that the Neolithic people were engineers as skilled and intelligent as modern man." Because there were no metal nails, the house was made almost entirely from timber shaped to fit together with timber pegs. The farmhouse was split into compartments by light wooden partitions set into the ground. On a large sunken area to the north, the team discovered burnt red gravel, showing that fires had been regularly lit there.
The archaeologists discovered more than 200 pieces of Stone Age pottery and cereal remains which will be radiocarbon-dated. Dr Barclay said: "These were the first farmers ever to cultivate land in Scotland."
Sources: The Times (7 September 2001 http://www.thetimes.co.uk/) and The Daily Telegraph (9 September 2001 http://news.telegraph.co.uk)
. Bronze Age Trove Found at Sewage Site
From the Irish Times, Friday, September 28
A £6.5 million Co Limerick sewage scheme has unearthed a rich vein of archaeological treasures.
The scheme, at Castleconnell on the banks of the River Shannon, has yielded a range and density of finds. The finds are unusual for such a confined area according to archaeologists. They also indicate there has been human activity there for thousands of years.
To date, four fulachta faidh, or ancient cooking places, three hut sites, a furnace and four human burial sites as well as nine other pits have been excavated. According to a spokesman for Limerick County Council's archaeological unit all of these are tentatively dated to the early Bronze Age of 5,000 BC to 1,500 BC. Charcoal samples have been sent for analysis and the results will clarify the date range. Numerous artefacts have also been found including over 100 pieces of worked flint, 10 stone axes and a fragment of a rotary quern.
Three locations along the route of a pipeline were archaeologically tested in advance of the work being carried out. At one of these sites, Hermitage, the farm of Mr P Moran, significant remains were uncovered and Aegis Archaeology Limited are currently excavating this area.
According to Limerick County Council yesterday the sewage scheme will provide for expansion of the village and its hinterland. It is also expected that the scheme will provide for the improvement of the water quality and amenity value of the River Shannon.
. BOOK REVIEW
By Mike Scharding, Monument Grove
Pagans & Christians: The Personal Spiritual Experience by Guz DiZerga, Ph. D. 240pgs, ISBN 1-56718-228-3 by Llewellyn Worldwide (St. Paul, MN 55614-0383)
Dr. DiZerga is a political scientist and Wiccan elder with Brazilian roots who has released this new book, with the aim of establishing and promoting a framework for inter-faith dialogue between Pagans and Christians that is philosophically based. He is apparently a very wise man who has learned to temper his anger and delves into the deeper core issues that Ecumenical talks rarely reach. His supportive arguments make heavy reference to Roman/Greek Classical forms of Paganism, which of course is has great amounts of textual support as opposed to other forms of European paganism. (He also draws upon Latin-American forms.) There are areas of weak spots, he is not an expert on early Christianity; and there are some gloss-overs of some touchy issues; e.g. sexuality; so I finished it with some unanswered questions. This book, while not perfect, is very well written with many golden nuggets buried amongst numerous semi-precious stones. It should be part of the library of anyone working with ecumenical councils.
Part One gives an overview of paganism's central general beliefs, focusing on the authority of personal spirituality. I would hesitate to give this book to your mom as her introductory book. It assumes a lot of general factual knowledge about Paganism, but would be a good follow-up.
Part Two: Christian Criticisms of Wicca rebuts some myths focusing on the relationship of Spirit and the Natural world, why good things happen to bad people, and claims of ultimate authority. This is his best written section.
Part Three: Pagan Criticisms of Christianity. He shows that the Pagan view of nature is already present to a degree, without being an apologist, in Scripture and that Christianity does not depend in any sense upon a claim to spiritual superiority. He finally reconciles the two faiths and talks about the ways they can mutually benefit from interaction.
"Many Pagans who take such a view of Christianity define themselves against it. In doing so, they remain to some extent still within its power, even to the point of avoiding those Pagan practices that most overlap with Christian practice, such as prayer. By defining Pagan religion as different in all respects from Christianity, some Pagans unintentionally narrow their own spiritual lives."
"Christianity does offer a unique and valuable path to the Sacred, but unique does not equal exclusive in the worth of religions any more than it does in the worth of people."
"[Paganism] exemplifies personal responsibility, for no one can hide behind scripture and disclaim responsibility because of its supposed objectivity."
"Love can only be fulfilled by the existence of the beloved. It is even more fulfilled when the beloved in turn is also fulfilled. A being loving unconditionally will therefore find delight even in the beloved's loving another. This is why the concept of a jealous God is utterly incomprehensible to me, as it has long been to many Pagans."
"Suffering is an enriching manure for the human spirit. It is a compost for the heart. Genuine empathy for others often arises most readily after we have suffered ourselves."
. Carleton Calendar Available
This year's has a beautiful picture of the Hill of the Three Oaks, showing the oaks in silhouette against an orange sky. Additional copies of the calendar are available from the Carleton Bookstore for $3.00 plus shipping:
Carleton Bookstore One North College Street Northfield, MN 55057 (800) 799-4148
Astronomical Samhain, when the Sun is midway between Equinox and Solstice, will occur on November 6, 2001 at 11:20 p.m. PST. (By the alternative method of calculation, the Sun will reach 15° of Scorpius Nov. 7 at 12:38 a.m. PST.) Samhain services will be held on Nov. 4 at Sundown, which is 5:07 p.m. Please call for carpool arrangements (510) 654-6896. For the social observance of Samhain we will be going immediately after the service to Le Bateau Ivre Restaurant in Berkeley.
Regular services will be held at Solar Noon on Nov. 11, Dec. 2 and 16. Please call the above number to confirm.
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