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A Druid Missal-Any

An Un-Official Publication of the Reformed Druids

Lughnasadh Y.R. 40
(August 1st, 2002)

Volume 18, Number 5


Lughnasadh Essay
News of the Groves
Some Possible Lughnasadh Activities
The Willow Tree
Heroes of the Willow
Sigil Construction 101
Irish Sring and Irish Cleanliness
Pagan Library of Minnesota
Welsh are the True Briton, Study Finds
Why the Archbishop is Embracing Pagan Roots
Book Review
Missal-Any Notes

Big L ughnasadh, festival of the god Lugh. In one tradition these festivities marked the funeral games originally held by Lugh in honor of his murdered father Cian. In another tradition, in Ireland, they commemorate the death of Lugh's divine foster mother Tailtiu, who cleared the forest from the plains of Ireland to make them fit for agriculture and died of the effort. She is a goddess of agriculture and one of the Irish female origin-figures. Irish clans often traced their ancestry to a female divinity, a goddess of the land. Lugh is the son of Ethniu and Cian, and the grandson of Balor, the elder Sun God, whom he later vanquishes in battle, reminiscent of Zeus overthrowing Chronos.

 Lugh is the youthful Celtic Deity of Light, eulogized as "The Shining One." Some see in him an evolved form of the Neolithic "Young Year God," representing the Sun, born on Winter Solstice, married at Summer Solstice, and triumphant at Lughnasadh when he brings the harvest. He is fated to die on Samhain at the end of the harvest season and to sleep until the returning of the Sun on Winter Solstice.

Lugh is the multi-competent god, patron of all crafts and of commerce, protector of travelers, poet, harper, physician, smithy, magician, and defender of the people against their oppressive Fomorian king. Some scholars think he is cognate with Grecian Apollo. He is master of the throwing spear and has the title "Lamhfada," long arm, far reaching; he owns the spear that cannot miss its mark but seeks out its enemy.

The Sun is now half way between Solstice and Fall Equinox, and already the days are perceptively shorter, though the strong heat is still to come. This festival marks the beginning of the harvest. The first fruits are of each farmstead were brought and offered in the sacrifice. Sheep had been sheared, and the surplus wool and lambs could be bartered.

apples In Reformed Druid tradition, any members who have a garden, a fruit tree, or a tree that gives mast or nuts, or wild land that gives any vegetable food, bring the first fruits picked this season to offer in the Lughnasadh bonefire. (No Animals! That was forbidden by The Reform in 1963 which gave us our origin, constitution, and laws.) Lugh's tree is the apple. I cannot find a scholarly reference on this, but so folklore and tradition have it. (If you know of one, send it in and get a free subscription if it checks out.*) Celebrate with apples, apple pie, cider, apple jack, and the planting of apple trees. Lugh is the divine father of the Celtic champion, Cu Chulain. Reread some of these epics** aloud.

--Emmon Bodfish

*This still holds.
**The Tain Translated from the Irish Epic Tain Bo Cuailnge, tr. Thomas Kinsella, Oxford University Press, 1983.

(Reprinted from A Druid Missal-Any, Lughnasadh 1990.)

News of the Groves
For the Full Grove Directory



Carleton Grove: News from Minnesota

On June 22, 2002, several long-time members of the Reformed Druids of North America gathered on the Hill of Three Oaks, ( ) at Carleton College, for a Solstice Liturgy and fellowship. This took place as part of the Carleton Alumni Reunion Weekend. Among those present were:

  • Dick Shelton, Arch-Druid of Carleton, 1969-1971
  • Ellen Shelton, Arch-Druid of Ann Arbor, mid-70s
  • David ("the Chronicler") Frangquist, Arch-Druid of Carleton, 1964-1966, Author of much of the original Chronicles, Patriarch of Belenos
  • Deborah Gavrin Frangquist, first woman to vigil for the 3rd Order (c. 1966).
  • Michael Scharding, Arch-Druid of Carleton 1993-1994, compiler of ARDA, historian of the RDNA
  • Galia (Gerre) Goodman, 3rd Order, 1970

    All of them contributed to A Reformed Druid Anthology, and figure significantly in the events and thoughts recorded therein.

    Dick had organized the event and presided. David was Preceptor (who else but the Patriarch of Belenos on Midsummer). The Liturgy was the old Carleton Midsummer Service (see ARDA) with somewhat updated language. For the Waters-of-Life we used Glenmorangie, a single malt, and an impressive upward step from the ancient Black and White.

    Afterwards, several of us walked through the Carleton Arb to visit other sites, sort of a Reformed Druid Pilgrimage. We visited Monument Hill ( ), where the first Druid Services were held in 1963, and where Dick and I both did our 3rd Order vigils. We also visited the Druid's Den, east of Three Oaks, which has been used by the Carleton Druids in more recent years. Before returning to Campus we walked to Faculty Hill, Site of the first Samhain service. You may have read about it in the Later Chronicles.

    For a while Michael, Dick, and David were walking a little bit ahead of the rest of us. This was a particularly impressive--the three most influential Arch-Druids in the history of Carleton together. With the aid of Faris Keeling (one of my Druid contemporaries) I was able to get a couple photographs of this historic chat.

    This weekend was particularly meaningful for me. David's view of Druidism, and indeed of all religion, greatly influenced my own beliefs and I had been wanting to meet him for over 30 years. It was also my first meeting with Michael, to whom we all owe a debt for his revival of interest in the Reform at Carleton and beyond, and for the enormous effort he has put into ARDA and other Druidical projects. I also met Eric Hilleman, who administers the Druid Archives at the Carleton library, and thus ensures that this large collection (see ) will be preserved and enhanced for the future. It was also a chance to talk again with Dick, my predecessor as Arch-Druid of Carleton and my old mentor in matters Druidical, and with other friends old and new from the RDNA.

    I hope to post some photos on the Web in the next few weeks. Meanwhile there is a picture of the Franquists at (lower right).

    Glenn McDavid

    Akita Grove: News from Northern Japan

    We possess a good time here in Japan. It is unbearably hot and rainy. We gave a big party in August for dead ancestors called "Obon." Many people visit their parents. I live with my father, but maybe mother will come back from Vietnam. Pat had big adventure across Japan, now is my turn! It will soon be hard for me to travel, so I go now. I am going to Oga half-island by bus, to Namahage land! Pat says it is "tacky," but I like the place. There will be many festivals in Japan in August, but we will have an easy Druid service, and then harvest rice in a near farm in later August!

    Amazon Grove: News from Brazil
    Ian apparently came down with a stomach ailment and was taken back to their base camp, but has already returned to whatever scientific studies he is up to down there (or is he on vacation!). He just wanted people to know, "The trees are just grand down here, but not safely huggable, because of the little critters swarming around here." As always, we await our next installment of postcards.

    Foxglove produces digitalis used in medicine to treat heart patients Digitalis Grove: News from DC, formerly Monument Grove

    My vacation to Carleton College went well and although I was unable to meet any of the Archdruids, I did get to meet Sancho (2nd) who is working in the Druid Archives there. He reminded me of how blissfully simple some of the Druids can be in a non-organized sense, even while those in charge are busy running things in a formal manner. He assisted me in sifting through the archives for more potential additions to the second edition of ARDA (mostly Liturgical materials and letters). As a side note, my Druidesque movie, Drake's 7, which was mostly filmed with Alumni Druids is visually edited and awaiting soundtrack and F/X, possibly by Christmas.

    At the folk dance reunion, I met with David and Dee Frangquist (AD 64-66), Dick Shelton (AD 69-71), Glenn McDavid (AD71-72), Gerre Galia Goodman (ARDA, pt2), Faris Keeling ('74), and several Druids from the 70s and 90s. As usual, it was an honor to meet with them, listen to their wisdom and join them for a summer solstice ritual on the Hill of Three Oaks; followed by an arboretum tour of Druid holy sites and the Rocks of Irony. Earl the Dog participated in all the aforementioned activities enthusiastically.

    Dravidia Grove: News from Out There

    Actually things here are kinda slow. Am working a lot o hours, and this area is in serious need of rain. We have had some interesting developments in the area with a new fish found in Maryland. It is the Frankenfish, somewhat of a rarity here. Am doing some research on the migration. Other than that the Grove is quiet.

    Socratic Hemlock Hemlock Splinters Grove, News from NY

    Irony Sade of Volcano Grove has moved back to the States and says Hemlock Splinters Grove should be active again before too long. He would love to put it in touch with the (frighteningly) organized members of the RDNA. This additional news just in from him:

    We had a couple of massive full moon bonfires, and visited a ritual performed by a Peruvian shaman for the solstice. Other than that, the tadpoles are frogging, the new snapping turtle has been eating wood ducks, and the oak tree planted from one of the acorns from the old Carleton grove has stretched another foot or so toward the sky. Impromptu music seems to be playing a central part in our gatherings. In other news, I was doing some research at the Eastman School of Music on the old wire strung harps--which I am learning to play--and found a book from the 1780's which attempted to trace the history and antiquity of the Irish harp by linking it back to the druidic traditions. I am working with the curator to spend more time in the archives. The books are climate controlled, and I live far away, but I'll see what can be learned...

    Thanks again!

    A view of the beaches in Hampton, Virginia Eurisko Grove: News from Virginia

    The Eurisko Grove is in Hampton, VA and we can be reached at . "Eurisko" in Greek means "I discover things" which is the general approach we have to our Druidry. We are all previously Wiccan trained and studying under ADF.

    Five members in total; three humans (Mike 'Gwydion" Ream, Jacquie Ream, Vonn Gants), one dog (Apollo), and one cat (Agnes).

    Our length of office is generally one year from Yule to Yule.
    Mike and Jacquie Ream = co-senior druids
    Vonn Gants = student
    Apollo = head of security
    Agnes = keeper of mysteries

    Our basic tenets are:
    1) Nature is good
    2) When in doubt consult your nearest tree
    3) Question authority
    4) Each member of Eurisko Grove is encouraged to study under different teachers
    5) Suggested titles of recognition; protege, contemporary, and mentor
    6-10) to come as we think of them

    We started the process of ploughing through the ARDA and interested in vigiling sometime. Jacquie and I are both members of Grove of the Other Gods (ADF).

    A sapling among the oaks

    Swamp Grove: News from Florida

    All is hectic at the Grove...We are re-locating the grove to another site here in the area, we are currently looking at land, the land that we currently use is being sold and we need a permanent grove area. The spirit of the Grove lives, no matter where it is located. Thanks to our members and friends who have pledged their help in the re-location and re-dedication of Swamp Grove, it should all be resolved within a couple of stress-filled months. A great summer wish to all our Brothers and Sisters in the reform.

    a beautiful grove emblem Oaken Circle Grove: News from Kentucky

    Greetings from the Oaken Circle Grove of Ky, we are happy to announce that our grove is still growing and that we are making progress towards becoming incorporated and one day tax exempt.

    Our solstice celebration was a success and you can find some pics of it on our webpage, we are currently planning out Lughnasadh gathering. We hope it will be a success as well. We recently had a paganing for four month old Laurelin, it was a beautiful ceremony and we would like to welcome her to a life of the old ways and hope that she gains all the knowledge of the ancestors as well. Much of the information on our grove is on our webpage, please feel free to check it out.

    Many Blessings,

    Founder of the Oaken Circle Grove

    Mojo Grove

    Mojo grove spent Summer Solstice communing with nature, and a small group of like minded folks from a local Tribe of First People/Native American/Aboriginal/Indians (we don't know which is PC anymore, and don't wanna be disrespectful) mostly, Mojo grove members observed the ceremony as guests and absorbed the vibes, and added our own (vibes). Then it was food, drink, and merriment for all. For the upcoming Lughnasadh we will be observing the astronomical date (although if something comes up for the calendar Lughnasadh--well, we're flexible!) Near the astronomical date will be a powwow with the same tribe, and Juju is working on being a part of the ceremonies as a token Druid. Will report in the Mabon issue (do we have a Mabon issue).

    Faerie Spell Grove: News from CA

    Hey--Just an update here...

    I have been buried in work over the last two months creating an email service ala hotmail. Well, it finally works and dare I say looks pretty damned cool!?

    Now that leads to my super-secret project--which is (shh!)

    which is kinda empty and blank and boring at the moment. that the email service itself works and the basic templates are designed to my exacting specifications I am going to start work soon on my grand design, that being: a pagan (well druidic, but the heathen-dog pagans can come along and find a happy home too!) portal. Webmail basically--again ala Hotmail/Yahoo, but with sections people can visit to chat with other pagans, post news, create mailing lists and most important of all--a complete and ever-expanding library of knowledge. This includes in depth lessons from those who know (think "Pagan University") and spell help, ritual ideas for the creatively challenged (including fun and rather zany ritual ideas), humor and of course a place to share thoughts and ideas.

    I have been working on this concept for nigh many a year and now it is almost ready to build.

    My question is simply this: Have I forgotten anything. Are there any happy pagans out there who might like to contribute their computer skills, web design abilities, art or lessons/contacts/ideas to this project?

    I am fairly certain that I have all of the bases covered and am not asking for anyone to do any work for me. But it seems the considerate thing to do to get some feedback and/or a wish list if people want before I have everything "set in stone" so to speak.

    Oh well...I don't really think this qualifies as "news" yet, but if you have any ideas on how I can get the word out that we are open to assistance or even just general rants while we build this monster I would be deeply appreciative.

    Okay thanks!

    Faerie Spell grove

    Hazelnut Grove: News from CA

    The wheel turned to the time that Stephen Abbott, the ArchDruid, also called Tyroch Windtraveler, should celebrate his natal day. Stacey of the East Bay, said "This is important!" and gathered the faithful to sojourn up to the north where Stephen abode.

    And he did abide in a flat with two women, another man, a dog and a cat. The other man, called by name Brian, cooked hamburgers for all. The faithful sat with Stephen, saw his toys and wondered. Stephen did open his gifts with many an ooh and ah. There was a cake that was so rich no one could bear to have more than a thin slice.

    This chronicler wanted to do a reading for him, but the time was taken up by a motion picture on the talking box. Before dark, the faithful descended to the south to their own abodes.

    Baccharis Grove: News from California

    Due to the intervention of Life, the Universe and Everything that it entails, Baccharis Grove is in hiatus for now. The Arch Druid and the Server celebrated Summer Solstice with the rites of Weberos, duly offering charred sacrifices to the Gods. They seemed to be warmly accepted.

    They also replanted their three little Oak trees, grown from acorns gathered from Grove property, and found that it was just in time. Says the Server "Although the Oaks are only one year old and quite small, their tap roots had grown extremely long and were in danger of growing out of their large 12" pots, getting trapped and being broken. That is the main danger in transplanting an Oak, if the tap root breaks, the tree will very likely not survive. All three were transplanted successfully and seem to be thriving in their new 20" pots. As they were transplanted, they were dedicated to the Earth Mother (we know, that seems superfluous) and asked to grow and be healthy and happy in their new home on our property. We have also discover that our little apple tree has eight small apples that are growing nicely and the grape vines that we thought were decorative have many clusters of green grapes! They are probably Thompson's but I'm hoping for Muscat's. The roses are blooming profusely and our damask rose scented geraniums are huge, four to five feet across. Our neighbors have already picked several five gallon buckets of green beans, cucumbers and huge cabbages. They happily share their bounty with us and we are all looking forward to tomatoes! The Earth Mother has certainly been generous with us!"

    Poison Oak Grove: News from California
    Publisher of "A Druid Missal-Any"

    In a fit of severe anti-socialism the Preceptor of Baccharis Grove has decided to take a sabbatical. She has formed a "contingency" grove by the name of Poison Oak Grove (seemed fitting), though to be considered a "legal" grove in the RDNA tradition there needs to be three officers, she likes the sense of "groveness."

    Though it was overcast the morning of the Summer Solstice she rose early to watch where the Sun would have risen had she been able to see it. As one person put it, Belenos was being quite demure. After all, He's done the same floor show for so long he can be subtle from time to time.

     Some Possible Lughnasadh Activities

    By Alex Strongbow, a Druid Lost in the Woods

    Basically, early August is a "hey, the farming is turning out alright!" agricultural festival and horse race time. Because it is a rather warm time of the year, and like other parts of the Northern Hemisphere, it is also a good time for big crowds of people to travel and have some constructive fun. Tailtiu, Lugh's mom, is commemorated in funeral games that last a week or so. I've put together a list of some events that might be done throughout August.

  • Food was scarce before the harvest, so you might consider fasting before the festival begins, eating only seasonal foods that you can research as being available before world-grocering began. Perhaps combined with a camping trip, to test your rigor. Epona and her totem, the horse
  • Brehon Wedding/Handfasting: A young couple will put their hand through a hole in a stone and pledge to officiant and public their intention to try living together for a year before deciding on a permanent marriage.
  • Settling of Legal Disputes: Advice or mediation in long-term disputes could be sought from other members of the grove (perhaps on slips of paper pulled from an anonymous box). Alliances with other organizations may be approved now.
  • Horse racing: Well, few of us have horses, but a trip to a derby, dog track, or Nascar race would be appropriate, as would attending a summer track and field meet. Gambling is encouraged. If you do have a few horses (or can rent them), it is traditional to race along a river or ford a river mid-race.
  • Bonfire: Not associated with hearth-fires, but just for fun and illumination of nocturnal partying. Sacrifice bad habits and unwanted things from your life by throwing symbols of them into the fire, this is good anytime. Perhaps, a competition between teams to build the biggest/oddest Lammas tower?
  • Prearrange to collect the last sheaf of wheat from a farmer and make it a Cailleach doll (old woman), much like the Bride-og at Oimelc in February. It should be placed on the mantle over the winter and destroyed in the spring, perhaps ploughed into the ground.
  • Celtic Olympics: Yes the games of Tailtean, were held until the time of the Norman invasions in the 12th century. Perhaps modeling them on a highland games, which are frequent this time of year, would be apt. Events could include:
  • Wrestling in either Greco-Roman fashion (pinning shoulders to the ground), Sumo (no touching ground except feet or leaving circle) or WWF smackdown rules.  Highland games, the Caber toss
  • Hurley, Cricket, Soccer, or Rugby matches.
  • Foot races, wheelbarrow races, bicycle, piggy-back, sack-races, obstacle courses
  • Hammer Toss, Shot put, heavy rock lifting or caber toss
  • Sword dancing, country dancing, interpretive dance etc.
  • Long jump, high jump, pole-vaulting with walking sticks
  • Boffer-sword/Quarter-staff bouts, preferably on a log over a river.
  • Massive tug-a-wars, wacky relays, tag, human pyramids, or egg-toss contests.
  • Archery, fire-arms, catapulting, slinging or spear toss contest
  • Have a "Rhibo," a welsh game where people line up facing each other, making a bed of arms and then fling them up in the air. It is advisable to catch them on the way down.

  • Mental contests for the less physically-gifted:
    Chess, poetry, story-telling, lying contests, geometry jousts and math matches (bring out old SAT prep sheets), joke-telling, banjo-dueling, scavenging hunts.
  • Large elaborate parades or activities to test the strength and endurance of young folk, usually through a forest, to a special spring or well or curving up and around a hill.
  • Make plans for the winterization preparations.
    Feasting!: Foodstuffs include Beef, broccoli, cherries, spinach, any type of early berry, corn, potatoes, homemade bread (particularly wheat, oat, and especially corn bread), berry pies, barley cakes, nuts, apples, rice, roast lamb, acorns, crab apples, summer squash, turnips, oats, and all grains. Drinks: Elderberry Wine, Mead, Ale, Meadowsweet Tea, and Cider
  • If you live near an abattoir, you could attempt a Tarbh Feis (cattle meditation) by wrapping yourself in a freshly killed bull's hide after eating 10 pounds of beef at a crossroads and sleeping overnight while Druids sing around you. You could then prophesy the 2002 elections by this method, perhaps, or the fertility of the harvest might be gauged from your dreams.
  • Offer first-fruits from your garden and plant all the seed of fruits eaten at festival. Bake a loaf of bread in the guise of a man and tear him apart by wild-cats. Include bilberries or blueberries in your feast; these were a traditional fruit, whose abundance was seen as an indicator of the harvest to come. Make a cornwheel of ripe grains.
  • Gather and make acorn bread:

    Other Lughnasadh Related Pages

  • All you need to know, and more.
  • Excellent list of activities in detail.

  • The Willow Tree

    The Willow Tree
    By Sam Peeples, free-roaming Druid

    Found throughout the British Isles in various species, the Willow is also common in Europe, North Africa and America. It is known as Saille in Irish Gaelic. The botanical name of the willow Salix purportedly comes from the Celtic word sal meaning near, and lis meaning water. Other Gaelic words for willow are seilach and feature in Scottish place names such as Achnashellach in Ross-shire and Corrieshalloch on Speyside. These names would have referred to both the presence of willow and related industries utilizing the willow's gifts. The verb and girl's name Sally may be derived from the Willow. In Cornish it is called Helygenn. Other names include: Willow, Witch 's Tree, Pussy Willow, Salicyn Willow, Saille, Sally, Withe, Withy, Witches' Aspirin, Tree of Enchantment, Osier, Tarvos Tree, and Sough Tree. The Greeks called it Helice, and thus is associated with Helicon (abode of Muses). The Anglo-Saxon welig, from where the name willow is derived, means pliancy. It represents S in Ogham script.

    Saille, or S
    Willows just love water and are often found in moist soils or near running water, along with alder, hazel and birch. It is occasionally found in the under-story of other trees or on the edges of meadows or in areas cleared by fire. Most of the 20 British willow species (330 in total and related to poplar, 100 in America) are bushy, but the White, Black (i.e. Pussy Willow) and Weeping Willow often become tree sized (50'to 80') and most well known for long, thin, variably droopy, flexible branches with few twigs. Its long thin leaves are easily recognizable as yellow in the fall. Yellow flowers arrive in April or May along with the Robin, and easily cross-breeds with other willows. The bark is most removable in the summer, containing 13% tannin and small amounts of salicin. Be careful not to ring the tree when removing bark or it will die, take vertical slices.

    willows gone to seed The dispersal of thousands of small windblown seeds is used by yellow willow to reproduce itself (2.3 million seeds per pound). Male and female flowers (in the form of catkins) occur on separate plants. Like other willows, it is reliant on insect pollination, especially from bees [31]. After fertilization, a capsule develops which eventually splits open during spring or summer, dispersing the myriad of minuscule seeds. The production of large quantities of seeds ensures that some will fall on favorable sites. The seeds have a cottony down which allows them to float long distances in the wind, and on water. Seeds are non-dormant, remaining viable for only a few days. They germinate rapidly, usually within 12-24 hours if a moist seedbed is reached [6].

    Practical Uses of Willow

     First and foremost, trees are quite happy the way they are without being utilized by us, and serve their own niche in the ecosystem without being exploited. 'Nuff said.

    Irregardless of size, willows are easily pollarded and make straight poles in 4-5 years, which is good for fencing and baskets, and very munchable to horses, moose, beaver and elk and nested in by birds.

    Willow's ability to absorb shock without splintering is still utilized in the making of cricket bats and stumps (note also the similarity between "wicket" and "wicker") and polo balls. ( )

  • The Dutch use it for making clogs.
  • The Celts used it for chariot wheel spokes.
  • The Romany use it for clothes pegs
  • The bark's tannin was used for reddish dye and tanning leather.
  • Before the advent of plastics, willow was widely used to make a variety of containers, from general basketry to specialized applications such as lobster pots and bee hives.
  • A 6th century basket was discovered by archaeologists on Shetland, and apparently made of willow, used the same weaving techniques as those still practiced in Scotland
  • Some people twist living willows into outdoor furniture and odds shapes.
  • Many plant willows on riverbanks to prevent erosion and control flooding.
  • Artificial limbs were once made from this light wood.
  • Willow is used as core wood for laminated furniture (esp. Ikea)
  • The wood was preferred for making charcoal for gunpowder.
  • Used as bottoms of wheelbarrows, chariots, mills and washboards.
  • Roots make a purple dye used in France/Sweden for Easter eggs.
  • Willow wood is light but strong enough to make roofs and rafters, boats and carts .
  • Do not plant close to septic tanks or sewer lines as the roots will invade!
  • If you do have a low, wet area in your yard, this tree will actually "dry up" that area.

    Mythological Connections

    Even in the Adventures of Neera it is a withy ring of willow that must be placed around the ankle of a hanging corpse if Neera is to win the golden sword of Aillil. The placing of this withy plunges Neera into an Otherworld adventure. He is held captive in the Sidhe world and set to physical work but wins through with the support of a Sidhe woman. When he returns to Cruachan, no time has passed. It is still Samhain. He proves his story by showing the fresh blossoming twig he has carried out with him

    British and Irish mythology is also rich with legends of the beguiling, Willowy Spring Maiden who is called Olwen, Niwalen, Gwenhyver, Cordelia, Blodeuwedd and many others, who initiate the young King into a deeply sexual experience.

    The ancient Celts believed that the spirit of the dead would rise up into the sapling planted above a grave, which would grow and retain the essence of the departed one. Throughout Britain many cemeteries, particularly those situated near rivers, lakes or marshes, are often to be found lined with willow trees to protect the spirits in place.

    In Sumer, 4000 BCE, Ishtar's predecessor, Belili, was known as the Willow Mother.

     Often associated by the Greeks with water and the moon; it is linked to legends of Ceres, Apollo's harp, Minerva's bird "Wryneck" who only sleeps in willow, and Orpheus who gained bardic skills by touching willows in Proserpine's grove. In Athens, it was an ancient custom of the priests of Asclepius to place willow branches in the beds of infertile women. This was done in the belief that it would draw the mystical serpents from the Underworld and cure them. The ancient Spartan fertility rites of the goddess Artemis, also demonstrates the willows connection with fertility and fecundity. In that ceremony, male celebrants were tied to the tree's trunk with willow thongs, they were then flogged until the lashes produced an erotic reaction and they released, fertilizing the land with their seed and blood. How quaint. The Greek sorceress Circe is said to have had a riverside cemetery planted with willow trees dedicated to Hecate and her moon magic. Here male corpses were wrapped in un-tanned ox-hides and left exposed in the tops of the trees for the elements to claim and the birds to eat.

    In Jerusalem, for the worship of Jehovah, the Feast of Tabernacles was also called the Day of the Willows. Willow branches were carried in processionals, used to roof the small temporary shelters (sukkah) during the festivities, the branches were later burned in the Temples. (Lev. 23:40).

    In Britain the more recent, "Christianized" use of willow to symbolize grief probably originated with Psalm 137:

        By the rivers of Babylon
        we sat down and wept
        when we remembered Zion.
        There on the willow-trees
        we hung up our harps.
    (Biblical scholars point out that these 'willow-trees' were probably Euphrates poplar (Populus euphratica) and not the weeping willows (Salix babylonica) which originated in China.) During the 16th and 17th centuries the association became particular to grief suffered by forsaken lovers, who also adopted the custom of wearing a cap or crown made of willow twigs and leaves. By the nineteenth century illustrations of weeping willows were commonly used as ornaments on gravestones and mourning cards. Willow boughs were also used to decorate churches in Britain on Palm Sunday instead of largely unavailable palm leaves.

    The Seneca, a North American indigenous tribe, has a loving bond with all Trees, calling them The Standing People. They consider the Willow to be a source of gentle humility, charm and grace, adding elegance as She touches Her fronds to the Mother Earth, sweeping away fear to nurture peace.

     One old tradition concerning the willow is still celebrated today by Rumanian Gypsies. This is the festival of Green George, which takes place on the 23rd of April. A man wearing a wicker frame made from the willow represents the character of Green George, which is then covered in greenery and vegetation from the land. This is symbolic of the willows association with water that fertilizes the land bringing fruitfulness to the fields. On the eve of the festival and in a gay and lively manner, everything is prepared in readiness. A young willow tree is cut down and re-erected at the place of the festivities, there it is dressed and adorned with garlands. That same night all the pregnant women assemble around the tree, and each places an article of clothing beneath it. The belief being that if a single leaf from the tree falls on a garment over night, its owner will be granted an easy child delivery by the willow goddess.

    At dawn on the 23rd Green George appears in all his splendor and knocks three nails into the tree, removing them again he then proceeds to the nearest river, lake or stream from whence the tree was cut and throws them into the water, this to awaken the goodwill of the waters spirits to their proceeding. Returning he collects the willow tree and takes it back to the river, lake or stream, and dips its branches and leaves in it until they are heavy with water, thus awakening the tree's beneficial and fertile qualities. The water spirits and the willow tree's beneficial qualities evoked, all the communities animals, flocks and herds are led to Green George who raises the tree and shakes water onto them in blessing ensuring fertility for the coming year. This done the tree is taken back to the place of festivities and re-erected. Feasting, drinking and merriment then commences in thanks to the tree and water spirits.

    Magical Uses of Willow (user beware)

    White Willow is a tonic, anti-periodic and astringent. It has been used in dyspepsia connected with debility of the digestive organs. In convalescence from acute diseases, in worms, in chronic diarrhea and dysentery, its tonic and astringent combination renders it very useful. one dram of the powdered root. one or two fluid ounces of the decoction

    Black Willow: The bark has been prescribed in gonorrhea and to relieve ovarian pain; a liquid extract is prepared and used in mixture with other sedatives. Largely used in the treatment of nocturnal emissions. Fluid extract, 1/2 to one dram

     Country folk have long been familiar with the healing properties of willow. They made an infusion from the bitter bark as a remedy for colds and fevers, and to treat inflammatory conditions such as rheumatism. The decoction is made by soaking 3 teaspoons (15ml) of the bark in a cup of cold water for two to five hours. Then bring to the boil. Strain and take a wineglassful each day, a mouthful at a time. The bark can be dried, powdered and stored in an airtight container. The sap gathered from the tree when it is flowering can be used to treat facial blemishes and dandruff. Young willow twigs were also chewed to relieve pain. In the early nineteenth century modern science isolated the active ingredient responsible, salicylic acid, which was also found in the meadowsweet plant. From this, the world's first synthetic drug, acetylasylic acid, was developed and marketed as Aspirin, named after the old botanical name for meadowsweet, Spirea ulmaria. Aspirin is now derived from coal and petroleum. The amount swallowed to date in the USA is approaching an annual 35 million lb. or five tablets a week for every man, woman, and child.

    In times of hunger the softer inner bark, the "bast," was dried and ground into a flour. Although very bitter it provided nourishment and a source of vitamins and minerals. In colonial times the bast was brewed into tea, which was considered a specific against malaria and a poor man's alternative to quinine.

    Willow can additionally be useful in cases of hysteria and nervousness and as a Quinine substitute (although this is used only when Quinine is unavailable). Willow can be used to loosen tightness in the chest produced by pneumonia, whooping cough and other respiratory infections.

  • For a wish to be granted, you must ask permission of the willow, explaining your desire. Select a pliable young shoot and tie a loose knot of it while expressing what you want. When the wish is hopefully fulfilled, return and untie the knot. Don't forget the last part.
  • When willow wood is carried in your pocket, it will give bravery, dexterity, and help one overcome the fear of death.
  • Willow is one of the nine woods of a Beltaine Fire (Birch, Oak, Rowan, Willow, Hawthorn, Hazel, Apple, Vine, Fir)
  • The wind in the Willows is said to be the whisperings of a fairy in the ear of a poet. It is also rumored that Willow trees can uproot themselves and stalk travelers at night, muttering at them.
  • Its leaves are used in love attraction sachets. Willow leaves or twigs can also be used in spells to create loyalty, make friendship pacts, treaties, or alliances.
  • To find if you will be married soon, on New Year's Eve, throw your shoe into a willow; if it doesn't catch in the branches the first time, you have eight more tries; success means you will be wed. The rhyme goes:

        "Throw your shoe high up
        into the branches of a Willow tree;
        If the branches catch and hold the shoe,
        you soon will married be."
  • Willow has the ability to banish depression and sadness; sitting beneath a willow tree calms and soothes the emotions. Try it out, this one works!
  • Shavings of the wood, pieces of bark and whole leaves can be placed in a Dream Pillow or placed in a small bag, either under your pillow or under the bed itself.
  • The willow has long been used for dowsing and for finding buried objects.
  • If you need to share a secret, confess to a willow and the secret will be trapped.
  • Because of its coppicing ability, it is a symbol of renewal, growth and fertility.
  • Willow is used to bind the birch twigs to the ash handle of a broom.
  • Willow caps were presented to all people who were disappointed in love. It is customary in the present day for villagers in Wales to ask a rejected suitor on the morning of his sweetheart's marriage to another man, "Where is your willow cap? We must make you a willow cap." The same applies to a spinster whose lover discards her for another girl.

    Green Willow,
    or All Around My Hat.

    Traditional British Song Chorus:
    All around my hat I will wear the green willow
    And All around my hat for a twelve month and a day
    And if any one should ask me the reason why I'm wearing it
    It's all for my true love who's far, far away.

    Fare thee well cold winter and fare thee well cold frost
    Nothing have I gained but my own true love I've lost
    I'll sing and I'll be merry when occasion I do see
    He's a false deluding young man, let him go, farewell he and...


    Other night he brought me a fine diamond ring
    But he thought to have deprived me of a far better thing
    But I being careful like lovers ought to be
    He's a false deluding young man let him go farewell he and...


    Quarter pound of reasons and a half a pound of sense
    A small sprig of time and as much of prudence
    You mix them all together and you will plainly see
    He's a much deluding young man let him go farewell he and...


    All Around My Hat.
    As sung by Steel Eye Span.

    Here are some alternative lyrics but I'm afraid I lost the email and cannot remember who sent them to me. Sorry.

    My love she was fair, and my love she was kind
    And cruel the judge and jury that sentenced her away
    For thieving was a thing that she never was inclined to
    They sent my love across the sea ten thousand miles away.

    All around my hat, I will wear the green willow,
    All around my hat for a year and a day
    And if anyone should question me the reason for my wearing it
    I'll tell them that my own true love is ten thousand miles away.

    I bought my love a golden ring to wear upon her finger
    A token of our own true love and to remember me
    And when she returns again, we never will be parted
    We'll marry and be happy for ever and a day.

    All around my hat...

    Seven, seven long years my love and I are parted
    Seven, seven long years my love is bound to stay
    Seven long years I'll love my love and never be false-hearted
    And never sigh or sorrow while she's far, far away.

    All around my hat...

    Some young men there are who are preciously deceitful,
    A-coaxin' of the fair young maids they mean to lead astray
    As soon as they deceive them, so cruelly they leave them
    I'll love my love forever though she's far, far away,

    All around my hat...

    Sing All a Green Willow

    Text by William Shakespeare (1564-1616), from The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice, Act IV scene 3. Based on an old traditional text.

    The poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree,
    Sing all a green willow.
    Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee,
    Sing willow, willow, willow.
    The fresh streams ran by her and murmur'd her moans,
    Sing willow, willow, willow.
    Her salt tears fell from her, and softened the stones,
    Sing willow, willow, willow,
    Sing all a green willow must be my garland.
    Sing all a green willow;
    Let nobody blame him; his scorn I approve.
    Sing willow, willow, willow,
    I call'd my love false love; but what said he then
    Sing willow, willow, willow:
    If I court moe women, you'll couch with moe men!
    Sing willow, willow, willow.

    More Links About the Willow

  • about cricket bat willows
  • Medicinal use of willow
  • A good summary of Willow's occult nature.
  • Full of practical knowledge
  • Chock-full of lore.
  • rence.html Good for details on environmental connections and seeding ideas.
  • Good eco-lore on willows through world.
  • Good for people interested in associations.
  • a more emotional sensitive understanding
  • Another good hodge podge of lore.
  • Herbal lore.
  • for historical survey of weeping willows.

  • Heroes of the Willow
    By Mike, Digitalis Grove

     Perhaps you haven't seen the movie, "Willow" (1988) If not, now would be a good time; and of course the DVD version is preferred. The story plot is a mixture of standards and innovation. Evil queen Bavmora and evil daughter fear that a new-born child will dethrone her, kills the mother, and searches for the nurse-maid who floats it down the river. Little hobbit-like people receive the baby. But, a normal life with wife and children is disrupted when Willow is asked to use every ounce of ingenuity and skill to escort a special Daikini baby past evil forces to the kingdom of Tir Asleen. Willow's life-long dream is to be a great sorcerer. After being passed over to become the High Aldwin's apprentice, Willow is told by his mentor that Willow's biggest downfall is that he lacks faith in himself.

     With an assortment of magical tools from wizards and his wife, a few simple slight of hand, and a lot of courage, Willow debating life and philosophy all the way with Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), the brownies (Rick Overton and Kevin Pollak) and others. Willow may not be big in size or have fought in any great battles but he proves that strength of the human heart and spirit is a lot stronger than the strength of a great army.

    Further Links on Movie
  • Has a good overview of the movie.
  • Warwick Davis (willow) fanpage, in which he also played the title role in the murderous "Leprechaun" 6 movie series and Harry Potter (Prof. Flitwick and Goblin Banker) and numerous films.
  • Compares Willow with Star Wars. (Wicket played the Ewok, "Wicket", in earlier Lucas films)

    Sigil Construction 101

    By Mike, Order of Lugh

    For 40 years, the RDNA, ADF, and Keltria have been flashing those Druid Sigils with a circle and two parallel lines. We don't know where it came from, except possibly from Fisher's feverish mind (see for more on sigils), but people have been asking me to sell them one, and I get this wonderful idea. Why don't we just make them ?We make up everything else in this group, so why not? Revolt against pre-fab, mass-made religious articles!

    Being inspired by Lugh, and being a cubicle-bound secretary, I open the drawer to actualize my words. All the materials I need are in there. First take a book ring (see illustration to right) which will form the ring base of the sigil, and they come in many sizes. A side benefit is that you can clip your final sigil on to a button hold, hand it from one of your pierced body-parts, use it to remove ticks and chiggers, or to pick-up and turn-over bacon (large model recommended).

    Now to lay the bars onto the circle, balanced on either side of the joint-hinge and the snap-close. These bars can come from snipped coat hangers, paper clips, wire stocks at a bead and jewelry store, or hardware store by the foot. To avoid a sigil that is heavy on the front side, and looks funny when it inevitably flips over, you may wish to in-set the bars. If you have access to a metal shop with a fine-quality metal file (or a simple nail file and lots of patience) you can gouge the four grooves into the book ring. I like to divide the circle into three sections of equal horizontal width, but perhaps you like each section to contain equal amounts of area (remember your geometry classes), follow your muse here. The bars or rods can then be either welded, set with epoxy, or tied on with clear fishing line (if you're skillful). Don't have the bars extend past the circle too far, or they'll catch on things and poke you (round and polishing the edges is advisable) Goldish bars on a silvery ring make a nice contrast. A weight of about one ounce (four ounces is the same as a quarter-pounder patty) will make it hang well, any lighter and it will flop about. I caution against soldering, since the lead prevents you from dipping your sigil into the Waters (if you're into that custom).

    The final step is getting the string. You can use yarn (if you're daring), leather, waxed cotton cord (found at bead and craft stores in various colors, I like black), ribbon, parachute cord, fishing line, or twine. Just remember if you catch your necklace on something, you'll get garroted! For the knot to close the string, I like to tie a double-fisherman's knot, which has the added advantage of allowing you to adjust the length while you're wearing it, by pulling the knots closer or father apart.

    Attaching the pendant. The following is one way, yea, one way among many. I detest running the cord simply through the book ring, as it never lies flat, the knot closing the string always works its way around to the pendant, and the book ring might open (unless you solder it shut) and you lose the pendant (life is about giving up possessions too, I suppose). I like to hide the joint of the book ring by binding a "prussic knot" over the hinge, between the two bars on the top of the sigil. That way the knot closing the loop of the necklace will lie at the nape of your neck, and can be lengthened and shortened easily.

    Cost of the materials, with borrowed tools and free labor, about $2 each. You're welcome to mass-produce them with this design and process. They're not copyrighted. Enjoy.

  • Prussic knots illustrated:
  • Easy soldering
  • Soldering basics:
  • Jewelry supplies

  •  Irish Spring and Irish Cleanliness

    By Eric Powers, Digitalis Grove of DC

    Okay, I wrote the "Lucky Charms" article for Beltaine, so I had to do the follow up. It is a fact of life for us mortals, as I am sure Nozomi will attest, that things get dirty, smelly and unpleasant to the touch; especially our friends. Until our not-so-distant ancestors, people didn't mind the smells to "risk" bathing, and the oils protected the skin and made wrestling easier. But to prepare wool and clean clothes, you need to remove the grime and so soap was invented. Soap was usually just boiled animal fat, wood ashes (or Pot ash), water and lye ( )

    Then 30 years ago, people learned the advantages of adding perfume, artificial green color, a country's name, a season, and calling it "Irish Spring." But why not call it "Prussian Autumn" or "Ukrainian Winter"? Colgate-Palmolive yields millions of dollars in annual profits from the sale of Irish Spring soap, a product that was only created to improve their image with a bitter and angry Irish community. In fact, Colgate-Palmolive was one of the last large corporations to abandon an officially stated anti-Irish policy. It was well into the 1950s, just a few short decades ago, that Colgate-Palmolive in adherence with that policy, routinely refused Irish and Irish-Americans employment based on their nationality. When Colgate-Palmolive was asked in 1993 to support a National Irish-American Heritage Museum, the request was refused because Colgate-Palmolive was focusing on "the educational needs of youth and minorities." A look at their official web-sites, conspicuously avoids giving a product history (there are five varieties now) or any reasoning why they chose the name. They only describe it as:

    "Irish Spring Original launched in 1972 with its classic green striated bar and quickly established Irish Spring as a leading brand for deodorant soap. Irish Spring Original's great, invigorating scent helps keep you feeling clean and fresh."

        Helps keep you feeling clean and fresh,
      1. Great invigorating scent
      2. Rich striated emerald green bar
      3. Used by men and women everywhere
      4. Long-lasting deodorant protection

    And of course, "keeps you clean as a whistle" (followed by dirty sexually inviting whistle). This phrase means "Neatly and effectively done; pure." As in the example: "He maneuvered himself out of that sticky situation as clean as a whistle." The reasoning is that a whistle needs to be clean and free of moisture and debris to produce a clear sound. The oldest literary example is Planch・(1851) in Extravaganza where a character says, "Or else his head cut off, clean as a whistle." Which is quite a Celtic feat.

    The Celts are in a rather wet area of the world and many legends revolve around bathing and washing, more so than their Saxon neighbors (King Arthur stories aside). In both Irish and Scottish legend, there is the legendary washing woman at the ford (where water was shallow and lots of rock). The warrior, who would encounter her washing bloody linen, may rightly suppose that his death on the battlefield is not far off. Morgan as Modron appears in this connection in a sixteenth-century folk-tale. CuChulainn saw two maidens washing his bloody garments on his way to his last battle. The Washer is also one of the guises of the Morrigan. Legends are replete with her, as are ban-sidhe legends. They vary on whether by sneaking up on her you can change your fate, or whether her mere gaze would kill you. I suspect they originate from women robbing the corpses after battle, cleaning them up and taking back spoils. Somehow the legend is a foresight of this event.

    man entering a rath bog for a quick swim Bathing incidents are such a great opportunity for story-tellers to get their characters naked, see each other naked, be consumed by their passions, and make poor life-decision choices without any blame. Valuable items like Swan Princess/Selkie/Mermaid items can be stolen and wives gained, great warriors can be disarmed, and hearts can swoon during bathing scenes. Modern movies have not under-used this technique; but since Psycho, have added it as a good opportunity to kill off characters, after gratifying the young male audiences.

    Examples are replete in legends. Angus Og had a palace at the river Boyne at whose estuary the Milesians landed. It was there that Eithne loses her veil of invisibility while bathing in the river. I would think that you would keep that on, while bathing outdoors? The church on the banks where Eithne died was named Cill Eithne by St Patrick. Midhir is a lord of the Otherworld. He lives in the mound of the sidhe at Bri Leith. He is one of the Tuatha De Danann and the foster father to Oenghus, who is the child of Eithne, the result of her seducing by Eochy. The seduction comes about when Elkmar, her husband, is put under a spell where he loses track of time. He believes himself to have been away overnight whereas he has slept for nine months, allowing the birth of the child. Midhir, himself, falls in love with a mortal, a girl called Etain, who he also sees bathing. She is the daughter of Aillil. They fall in love with each other at first sight and are soon in bed together. This creates something of a problem when he returns home and presents Etain to his wife, Fuamnach, who (like Juno) finds no ends of means to torment him and young lovers; starting a tragic cycle of stories. This was quite a mess out of trying to get clean.

    just washing, do not want to be in a folk tale Nessa, the wife of Cathbad the Druid was another bathing beauty. Her name was originally Assa or "Gentle,", but after Cathbad had killed all her tutors, she took up arms as a woman warrior and was afterwards called "Ungentle" or Niassa (Nessa). Cathbad surprised her bathing without her weapons, but he spared her and granted her only to have her as his wife. She bore Conchobar on the day prophesied as the birthday of Christ. I'd have rewritten the ending a little differently.

    There is a place called Abbeyfeale in County Limerick (Gaelic on map: Mainistir na Fiale meaning from the river Fiale), that is traditionally derived from the legendary Fial, wife of Lewy. She was spotted by him while she was bathing naked in the river and not realizing that the voyeur was her husband expired from shock and shame. The abbey was founded by Brian O'Brien in 1188, upon an earlier foundation.

    Maurice was walking one day by the shore of Lough Gur when he saw the beautiful other-world woman Aine bathing. He seized her cloak, which act magically put her into his power, and then lay with her. He probably did something else, for in this way Gearoid laria was conceived, and when he was born, Aine appeared at the castle of the Earl to present the child to him. There's a shocker for him!?

    One book I read mentioned:?

        Certain Irish social customs are also recounted in the Hisperica Famina. The early Irish frequently bathed frequently and considered bathing of guests as an act of hospitality. One text describes the custom of cleaning the feet of travelers: "Fill the steady hand basin with water and wash your dirty feet with flowing draughts; wipe clean your muddy soles with the clear liquid," and again: "pour a clear draught from the wooden tank and wash your dirty feet." The early Irish had a highly developed vocabulary for bathing, with separate words for washing the feet, the hands, hair, or immersing the entire body. For example; Osaic was the Old Irish word for washing the feet.

    Now we know, the Celts used soap long before the Romans did, because those new-comer Romans build their empire long after the Celts arrived in the region, but they used it to wash their hands in the morning and during bathing. After bathing they would comb oil and scented herbs into their hair. The Romans rubbed their bodies with olive oil and herbs and then scraped it off with a device called a speculum. Another little tidbit about this type of "bathing" is when the gladiators did it, the "residue" of combined sweat dirt and the oil concoction was sold to wealthy women as a virility drug that was taken internally. Of course the more famous the gladiator the more expensive it was. (And the Romans called us barbarians) Pretty disgusting isn't it?

    While the Celts on the other hand used soap made from vegetable oil and herbs (kind of like what we have now) the only difference per se was the inclusion of lie. Another odd little tidbit about Celtic grooming is that they used stale urine to bleach their hair white; possible inspiring tales of blond Celts, when (touristic commercials aside) in fact most Celts are dark or brunettes. We also know from tales of Celtic grooming habits of all the body-paints, make-up and cosmetics that the Celts (or at least the upper-class) used, and this requires something to remove them before reapplication, i.e. soap.

    A Fulacht Fiadh for big cook outs There are also several Fulacht Fiadh (kidney or horse-shoe shaped mounds of burnt stone surrounding a wood or stone lined trough set into the ground ),such as in Lochadoon Valley in Cloghane. Warriors of the Fianna, or anyone on extended summer hunts, wouldn't want to haul around a big iron pot and a deer, so they need to cook big hunks of deer or boar somehow. First a stone or timber-lined trough near a stream would be filled with water and then rock would be heated in an adjacent fire before being dropped into the water, a process that was continued until the water boiled. The joints of meat were then placed in the water to boil. It may sound pretty unlikely, but modern archaeological experiments have shown it to be a quite economical and effective method of cooking. It has also been suggested that Fulacht Fiadh were used for bathing or as saunas.

    An Teach an Allais According to a link (listed below), the Gaels were also into building Sweathouses known as Teach an Allais, which may have been derived from all the Viking colonies in the Gaeltacht region, perhaps lasting as long as 1902 in distant rural areas without running water80 sweathouses existed in Co. Leitrim in the late 19th Century, but seem to be limited to Co. Leitrim, Fermanagh, Cavan, Sligo, and a few isles of western Scotland; Jura, Colonsay, Argyll, and Kilmartin Valley. They are highly dismantable stone-igloos, and possibly were recycled in other regions. Sweating removes poisons in the body, improves appearance by unclogging pores, combats the persistent rheumatism of North Europe and (surprisingly) warms you up on cold nights. Peter Berresford Ellis in The Druids describes one as:

    "The further development of the medicated bath was the hot-air bath, used in Ireland as a cure for rheumatism until recent years. The structure in which these baths were given was known as Tigh an alluis, or "Sweating house" One such ancient structure survives on Inishmurray in Donegal Bay and several have been described in the last century particularly in the north of Ireland. They are small constructions of stone, five to seven feet long. A turf fire was kindled inside until the house was heated like an oven. The fire was removed. The patient, wrapped in a blanket, crept in and sat down on a bench. The door was closed up. The patient remained until in a profuse perspiration and then, on leaving, was plunged into cold water and then rubbed warm. The patient was encouraged to meditate (dercad) to achieve sitchain (state of peace). It is not beyond the realm of possibility that this act, found in many cultures in the world as a religious action, had similar religious connotations in the Celtic world." [6]

     Most dwellings of the Sidhe (people of the hills) are old raths (now submerged lake forts), duns (old dirt embankments of ruined castles), disused par-terre root-cellars/homes, or still-buried cromlechs (those stones stacked on top of each other were once covered by mounds of dirt). This has brought up the idea to me, that perhaps those sidhe or fairies (in certain cases) were not so much a primordial displaced race, a distant race of gods, but memories of vision-crazed mystics who came out of their little sweathouses, still entranced, and performed healings or other magical activities? Those fairy-tales of people out in the night could be stumbling in upon a clandestine meeting of folk-shamans/what-have-yous in their sweathouses, high on who knows what kind of local weed. A nearby stream, which fairies can't cross, might be based on ancient cures for madness. Suddenly surprising the patient with a plunge into cold water was practiced from ancient times to the 19th Century. Boats were constructed which would break up and force patients to swim to the shore in the cold water and there were bridges which would collapse when patients were crossing them. The cold water shower or plunge was a "shock" treatment designed to bring a deranged person to his/her senses. It is an intriguing idea.

     Several other culture/religions are obsessive about cleanliness, possibly because it's healthy, but perhaps to distance themselves from the grubby peasants who don't have the time to clean things up as well as a church with excess lazy layman's labor. Shinto revolves around purity, if Nozomi's articles are true; and certainly the Judeo-Christian bible is frantic about being clean (which was interpreted by the Christians to be a spiritual matter, thus bringing on several plagues, and moralistic catastrophes): [most of Leviticus, 1 John 1:9, 15:3; 2 Corinthians 7:1, James 4:8, Ephesians 5:26-27] No where in the bible does it say "Cleanliness is next to Godliness," which is derived from a sermon by John Wesley (1703-1791) or possibly Francis Bacon (1605) "Cleanness of body was ever deemed to proceed from a due reverence to God."

    But the evidence does not show that this was the Celts made the spiritual connection, except as described above, they just wanted to look good, and who can blame them? Regardless, you should be able to buy Irish Spring now knowing that, advertising hype aside, soap is a Celtic innovation to Europe (as is the deep plough and iron). Even without your personal home sauna, you 'll come out of your bath, invigorated, spiritually purified (Shower Shugyo, anyone?), and not so stinky.

    Next time: Celtic Dietary Problems!

    More Interesting Links

  • How to make soap.
  • the Science of soap
  • soap recipes
  • What is pot-ash
  • David Lynch's review of Irish Spring
  • Lucky vs. Trix rabbit WWF match
  • Palmolive exploits Irish
  • on being Irish in America
  • Gaelic Sweathouses
  • Celtic Grooming
  • Eachna's Celtic Grooming page with also a lengthy chapter on hand-made woad.
  • A Social History of Ancient Ireland by P.W. Joyce, Volume II Chapter XXII: Dress and Personal Adornment. This chapter can be found to be partially transcribed on this web site

  • "Celtic Body Decoration Pack" by Andy Sloss. This body art kit came out November, 1999. It came with a small but surprisingly thick book, a few transfers, and two bottles of body paint. I don't think the majority of the 'kit" is worth it, BUT, the book is surprisingly useful for both basic body-art, and as a mini-guide to Celtic line art in general. It has hundreds of line art examples, as well as how to draw knotwork. There are zoomorphic examples, totem animals, mirror-backs, and more. The book alone is worth the cost to have all these types of images in one handy reference.

  • Miscellany

    Library of Alexandria Pagan Library of Minnesota

    Envision it. A library filled with books about Paganism and Magick. Not just the few shelves at the local public library. Not just bubblegum Wicca.

    In Minneapolis, this is already a reality.

    The New Alexandria Library and Resource Center opened its doors in September 2000. We have over 1500 books, several hundred periodicals, assorted video and audio tapes and a beautiful statue of Isis. Our intent is to be a resource not just for the local Pagan community but for Neo-Pagans worldwide. Our collection is growing every day, ranging from first editions of Gardner and Murray to Pagan fiction (Terry Pratchett, anyone) Our holdings include books on Paganism--paleo, meso and neo, Wicca, Goddess Studies, Mythology, Shamanism, Queer Spirituality, Divination, Thelema, and Magick We are also the proud repository of two special collections: the Paul Tuitean Memorial Norse collection and the Steven W. Posch Semitica collection. We have what we hope will become the definitive collection of pagan periodicals, and, in addition, the ephemera of our community: festival brochures, ritual scripts, flyers announcing pagan events.

    We are staffed by volunteers, and depend entirely on contributions from the community to survive. To further this work of the Goddess, we urgently request your assistance. We welcome donations of books and other materials. (Please contact us first to avoid duplication.) Most of all, we need your generous financial support.

    For more information contact us at New Alexandria Library and Resource Center, 3005 Oakland Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55407, phone 612-823-3673 (long distance calls returned collect), email us: or check our web page:

    Magenta Griffith, Librarian
    Steve Posch, Board Member
    for the New Alexandria Library.

    Welsh are the True Britons, Study Finds

    From the Independent

    By Barrie Clement

    01 July 2002

    The Welsh were here first and are therefore the "true" Britons, genetic research published today indicates.

    While many post-war historians thought the Anglo-Saxon influence on England may have been limited to political and commercial elites, the new analysis reinforces the more traditional idea of an invasion of Germanic tribes.

    Scientists from University College London found a stark difference between the men they tested in England and those in Wales. The genetic make-up of the Englishmen was almost identical to people in an area of the Netherlands where some Anglo-Saxons are thought to have originated.

    The researchers concluded that the "foreigners" invaded the area now covered by England, wiping out between 50 and 100 per cent of the indigenous population, but failing to move into Wales.

    Analysts from UCL tested the Y chromosome - usually inherited unchanged from father to son - and looked for certain genetic markers.

    They chose seven market towns in England and Wales mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and compared the data with samples from Friesland, now a northern province of the Netherlands.

    Mark Thomas, of the Centre for Genetic Anthropology at UCL, said it appeared that England was "ethnically cleansed" by people moving from the Continent after the Romans left.


    Assistant's Note: Perhaps, this will encourage the more isolationistic people of Britain to be more amenable to viewing their own country as a "land of immigrants"

    Rev. Williams Why the Archbishop is Embracing Pagan Roots

    From British News, Times Online,
    By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
    July 19, 2002

    THE man expected to be the new Archbishop of Canterbury will be inducted as a druid in a 200-year-old ceremony with pagan roots in Wales next month. As the sun rises over a circle of Pembrokeshire bluestones, the Archbishop of Wales, the Most Rev Dr Rowan Williams, will don a long white cloak while druids chant a prayer to the ancient god and goddess of the land. After a trumpet fanfare and the thrice partial sheathing and unsheathing of a 6ft6in sword, a citation will be read. Dr Williams will close his hands in prayer while the archdruid, wearing a crown and shield over his bardic robes, will enfold them in his own and utter words of welcome. That will be the moment that Dr Williams, who will adopt a new, bardic name, is accepted into the white druidic order, the highest of three orders of the Gorsedd of Bards, the Welsh body of poets, musicians, writers and artists. The Mistress of the Robes, Sian Aman, will then clothe him in a druidic white headdress, and a steward will lead him to join the other assembled druids inside a sacred circle. The ceremony will take place "in the face of the sun, in the eye of the light" at the start of the Welsh National Eisteddfod at St David's, Pembrokeshire, in early August. Although organisers insist the Gorsedd's pagan roots are long behind it, contributors to discussion forums on the Church in Wales website have already suggested it is "nearer to Shintoism than Christianity".

    Evangelical leaders in the Church of England described it as "unbelievable". The Rev David Banting, chairman of Reform, the conservative evangelical group, said: "We are concerned that Christian leaders should concentrate on the celebration and promotion of the Christian faith in all its wonder and power rather than dabbling in other things." Dr Williams will not be the only church leader admitted as an honorary druid to the Gorsedd. The Right Rev Daniel Mullins, retired Roman Catholic bishop of Menevia, South Wales, is a member. He insisted: "It has no link at all with ancient druidism." A former Archbishop of Wales, the Right Rev George Noakes, is also a member. Dr Williams is a prolific author and poet. His book of poems, Remembering Jerusalem, is currently high on the religious bestsellers list.

     ? The Gorsedd of Bards takes its name from the high seat, which in prehistoric times referred to the mounds on which the sacred kings were wedded to the female spirit of the land. It was invented in the 18th century by the Welsh scholar Iolo Morganwg (Edward Williams), a Welsh cultural icon suspected of sympathies with French revolutionaries and American rebels. On June 21, 1792, he laid out a circle of stones on the grass and proclaimed a Gorsedd of Bards-not in Wales but on Primrose Hill in Camden, North London. Morganwg, who claimed to have found an ancient Welsh manuscript with the ceremony but in fact wrote it himself, pronounced his first Welsh Gorsedd at the Eisteddfod in Caermarthen, Wales, in 1819. The Gorsedd of Bards has been closely associated with the National Eisteddfod since it was founded in 1860 and the three ceremonies-the crowning of the best free verse poet and the awards for prose and strict metre poetry-attract thousands with their pageantry and Celtic lore.

    seating the bardic winner The Archdruid, Dr Robyn Lewis, a retired lawyer and deputy circuit judge, defended the archbishop's right to be inducted into the Gorsedd. Only fluent Welsh speakers are allowed in. He said: "The Gorsedd is an organisation which concerns itself with literature, poetry, music and art of all sorts including architecture. We meet in a circle of stones, a mini Stonehenge, that we erect in the towns where the Eisteddfod takes place." The three orders of the Gorsedd, white for druid, blue for bards and green for ovates, are the closest thing in Wales to an honours system. The Queen is an ovate, but the Prince of Wales has never been invited to join. The actor Richard Burton was also a member, as was Lloyd George. Dr Lewis said: "We are not like the English druids. The Stonehenge druids are a pot-smoking crowd. Ours is a very respectable society. The ceremony is not pagan. It is just a ceremony. It is quite innocent, there is no serious paganism about it at all. It is a society for the furtherance of the arts in Wales, nothing more. We are not theistic, atheistic, pantheistic, agnostic or anything." He added: "All sorts of people have been members. The Queen was given a green robe although not all of us want her and she never turns up."

    He was saddened by the prospect of Dr Williams's promotion. "Quite frankly, we do not want him to go to Canterbury. We feel he deserves it, but we feel we need him here. He is a fluent Welsh speaker for a start, and that will be wasted in Canterbury, wasted on the desert air." The archbishop's chaplain, the Rev Gregory Cameron, defended Dr Williams. Speaking in Welsh on BBC Wales, he said: "The Gorsedd is not full-blooded paganism, it is an institution making an appeal to the natural universe, to what Wordsworth described as the power of nature."


    From the Read Ireland Book Review

    Serpent and the Goddess by Mary Condren
    (Paperback; 13.99 Euro/13.50 USD/11.50 UK; New Island Press, 266 pages)

    When first published in 1989, Mary Condren's brilliantly researched account of the decline of female power in Western civilisation provoked considerable controversy and debate. Exploring uncharted territory, it precipitated and unprecedented amount of research and publication on Celtic religious origins and societal structures. Over a decade later, the book is widely regarded as the pre-eminent book in its field, a classic study of gender, power, and spirituality. Working her way through the corresponding ages of Eve, Brigit, and Mary, the author traces both the rise of patriarchal consciousness and its disturbing implications for society. By reclaiming a matri-centered culture that has been written out of history, the author offers the reader a view of a more optimistic future, reawakening us to the possibilities of an enriched female consciousness.

    Read Ireland@Phibsboro Bookshop, Mon-Fri 10-5 and Sat 12-5

  • Tel: +353-1-830-9828
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    Lughnasadh, when the Sun is half-way between the Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox, will occur on Wednesday, August 7 as 15 degrees of Leo at 9:40:44 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, or alternatively as 16 degrees 18 minutes decl on August 7 at 12:03:32 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

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