Black Hawthorn

•May 19, 2009 • 3 Comments


I’ve decided I want to make a trek to a local park or wild spot once a week to meditate and get into nature. I also want to start making not of what plant and animal life I come across. This last week I identified some Black Hawthorn growing in a local park.

Black Hawthorn, Crataegus douglasii is the only hawthorn that grows as a tree in British Columbia (that’s where I live *grin*). I harvested some dead fall branches and took some photos. I figure if I make an effort every time I go to learn something eventually I’ll be a Wildcrafted Druid. After all what good is a Druid that doesn’t know his trees eh? Let alone how his local ecosystem works.

Crataegus is derived from a Greek ‘kratos’ meaning “strength”.  Douglasii, named for David Douglas, plant explorer. The word ‘hawthorn’ derives from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘haguthorn’ which means a ‘fence with thorns’. Haw is either an old word for hedge or a word for apple (fruit). The references I found were mixed.

Black Hawthorn is a strong wood. Traditionally the wood was used for such things as digging sticks, handles. The wood also burns hot, so it was favoured for cooking and smithing fires. The thorns were used to pierce ears, lance boils or used as fish hooks. The leaves, new shoots and inner bark were burned and mixed with ash and grease for black face paint.

Black Hawthorn is part of the rosaceae (rose) family. It grows from sea level to mid elevations. It tends to grow in thickets as a small tree or a large shrub in meadows or along waterways. It likes lots of sunlight.
Flowers appear in clusters having 5 white petals with an unpleasant odour. Blooms in May to June.
Fruits also appear in clusters and can be red, purple or blackish. Fruits are edible and sweet, but seedy.
Leaves are oval, deep green in colour and toothed at the top.
Bark is reddish brown with thorns that protect the tender shoots and leaves.
It can be propagated readily from bare root, cuttings or seeds. Seedlings are hardy.
Its lifespan is moderate relative to most other plant species.
Its growth rate is moderate.
Hawthorn thickets grow thick and offer protection and food to birds and small animals.
Hawthorn growing along waterways help keep prevent soil erosion.

Hawthorn has been used medically for heart ailments and high blood pressure. It aids in kidney disease, nervous conditions and has also been know to aid in weight loss. Hawthorn can be taken to help combat Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory loss, arthritis, osteoporosis, leukemia and attention deficit disorder.

Doses must be taken regularly and must be taken over an extended period of time to be effective. Parts used include fresh and dried fruits, leaves and flowers.

References

Trees in Canada by John L. Farrar
A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve
Perscription for Herbal Healing by Phyllis A. Blach
http://www.bcadventure.com/adventure/wilderness/forest/hawthorn.htm
http://www.gardenguides.com/plants/plant.asp?symbol=CRDO2
http://www.forthall.net/plants/black_hawthorne_crataegus_dougla.htm

Beltaine Poems

•May 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

These are my latest attempts at poetry 🙂

A Seed Blessing

Seed to root, stem and leaf
Flower to fruit, corn and sheaf

Dark of earth, light of sky
Sown for birth, ripe for scythe

Grain and feed, bread and meat
Ale and mead, feast and eat

Seeds we lay, now to sprout
Blessed today, this we shout

A Pagan I Am

I’m Pagan as you can see,
But how could I really be?
A Pagan I am for I am free,
I am myself and truly me.

This one I wrote with Juniper

Feast and Fire

Feast and fire
Dance and desire
This Sacred Rite
Our great delight
Here we dine
And drink May wine
Now we toast
Who we love most
Green Oak King
To him we sing
Leaf and bud
Stag and stud
Sky and Earth
Brings rebirth
Seed of the field
Land be healed
Here we stand
To bless the Land
This our clan
Woman and man
Lovely lass
Raise your glass
The first of May
Its time to play
Feast and fire
Dance and desire
(Repeat last two lines x3)

Beltaine at Misty Acres

•May 4, 2009 • 3 Comments

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I was a very busy Druid preparing for Beltaine! Hopefully you’ll forgive me. 🙂

My projects for this year were to make a Greenman/Oak King mask, make a hobby horse, put a handle on my new sickle blade I got for my birthday, write some seasonal poetry and to repair and reinforce the Great Boar from last years games. I’m happy to say I got them all completed, even though I was working on them right up until the last night. I’ll post more about those projects later.

For Beltaine this year I spent three days at Misty Acres with Juniper in Greenwood, BC. Friday I spent helping with preparations, the most noteworthy was attempting to dig a three foot deep hole in rocky mountain soil for the Maypole. I managed a foot and a half before darkness and exhaustion. *chuckle* Well… it wasn’t just the digging; there was some seasonal outdoor hanky-panky in there as well. *grin* Apparently, a sweaty Druid with a shovel occasionally uttering profanity has a certain appeal.

Saturday we had time for a few last minute preparations before people started showing up. We had some time to visit before we started the games. This year I brought a Druids’ Hearth favourite, the Great Boar Hunt! We have a giant black Celtic style boar painted on a large piece of wood. Each participant gets to throw 3 spears per round. Killing blows to the head or torso are worth two points; all other shots are worth one. Usually after three rounds the winner is declared. This year our winner was declared our May King. Hail the King! The Great Boar hunt is traditional at this time of year because the Boar represents the Hag, a sterile manifestation of the goddess of the land, which must be slain so that she may be reborn as the Flower Maiden. This year we also had a hobby horse race. Participants could ride a hobby horse, broom, stang or other such device. One rider rode a boar spear! *chuckle* I entered the Faery hobby horse I made; named after Manannan’s horse, Enbarr of the Flowing Mane. In the men’s heat, I WON! I did have a trick up my sleeve though. I used a carrot on a stick. *chuckle* And oddly enough I won by a carrot! Great fun. For the women’s heat the winner was declared May Queen. Hail the Queen!

There was a wildcrafting walk/talk lead by the resident hedgewitch. We identified some different types of plants and talked about proper ways to harvest and other such things.

Misty Acres has a lovely Grove that has a nice view of the valley and a great little pond near by. Unfortunately it is more of a walk than a few of the mobility challenged could manage. We held the ritual in a large open field where we had unpacked and camped.

The ritual was a Celtic Hedgewitchy rite. I was asked to stand as Priest and Oak King, and I was honoured to do so. Some of the elements in Juniper’s ritual I really liked. The most notable was the use of a walking meditation (as opposed to ‘normal’ grounding meditations where you stand still, close your eyes and ‘be a tree’). The walking meditation blended into creating a furrow into the mythic earth, and growing a hedge to guard our sacred space. You can find Juniper’s blog and a copy of the ritual at http://walkingthehedge.net/blog or in my links section.

As any worthy High Day celebration we ended with a Feast! Arguably one of my favourite parts; nothing beats great food, and great company. I toasted, and then boasted that I would complete my ADF dedicant program before next years Beltaine. So now I’m committed and honour bound to keep my word.

Sunday was clean up and some down time. All and all an awesome weekend, but as usual, too short. Ah well, one of the beauties of Paganism is we get eight High Days! Yay us! *chuckle*

I want to extend my thanks again to Juniper and Misty Acres for hosting this event. I know the amount of work and time, money and energy that goes into organizing. And all too often our leaders and organizers go un-thanked un-blessed and unappreciated.

Here is my final Beltaine toast of 2009. Here is to all those leaders and organizers that give so much to our community! Thank you. *takes a swig of wine* GHOSTI!

Ogham Scholarship Questions

•March 28, 2009 • 3 Comments

I read an article today by Peter Berresford Ellis today, entitled The Fabrication of ‘Celtic’ Astrology. http://cura.free.fr/xv/13ellis2.html

Basically the article talks about Robert Graves’s lack of scholarship in his book The White Goddess, and how the tree calendar and zodiac has no historical pressident. Worse even is the fact that it goes against the work of scholars far more qualified than him. This came as no surprise to me. I know many druid groups do not recommend Mr. Graves work as scholarship.

This article has raised other questions for me that I’m hoping someone wiser and more well read than myself can answer.

Mr. Ellis quotes Professor Robert MacAlister, “the greatest living authority on Ogham”, who wrote Corpus Inscriptionem Insularum Celticarum. He also makes reference to Dr. McManus who wrote A Guide to Ogam. Here is a fairly lengthy quote from Mr. Ellis’s article going into some of the discrepancies in how most of the current books present the Ogham.

“Dr McManus echoes other scholars when he points out that the basic twenty characters of Ogham were not all named after trees. I’ll confine the meanings given by Dr McManus to the letters Graves’ actually uses, which are not tree names.
L = Luis (claimed as a rowan) either comes from luise (flame, blaze) or lus (plant, herb). It is not placed in a context that makes either derivation reliable. N = Nion or nin (claimed as ash) is a fork or loft. H = Uath (claimed as hawthorn) means horror or fear. T = Tinne (claimed as ash and sometimes holly) means a bar, rod of metal, ingot etc. M = Muin (claimed as vine) means neck or throat. G = Gort (claimed as ivy) means a field. R = Ruis (claimed as elder) is from the word for red.
As for the consonant: M = Muin, the vine was not native to Ireland anyway, and when it was introduced, the Old Irish was finchí, a loan word from the Latin vin. The word muin was, as stated, neck or throat, which is still found in modern Irish muineál.
The letter ‘P’ does not appear in Irish until the early Middle Irish period, being adopted from Latin, and is given by O’Flaherty as P Pethboc, claimed as a dwarf elder. Of course, pethboc occurs neither in Old nor early Middle Irish. Peith-bhóg occurs in Early Modern Irish, either as a corruption of a Latin loan word or, as Professor O’Rahilly contends the ‘p’ might be an early modern softening of ‘b’ perhaps from beithe (birch). At least Robert Graves realised the fact that a ‘P’ could not possibly exist in the early Q-Celtic Goidelic form. The famous identification of the two forms of Celtic is P in Brythonic and Q in Goidelic. At least Graves was mindful of his Ps and Qs! But how could he fit P = Pethoc into his thesis? Admitting that it was not an original Irish letter he says (p184) that he believes it simply stood for the Irish NG and arbitrarily substitutes the form nGetal claimed as a name of the dwarf elder.
Curiouser and curiouser! This is a negative, dative and vocative form. According to Professor Meroney: The spelling nGetal points to an original getal, but no such word survives otherwise in Irish.’ Dr McManus however thinks getal was a verbal noun of gonid wounds or slays’. I am of the opinion that this spelling getal, however, points to an original cetal. Already in Old Irish an eclipsed c-appears as g-, compare nach gein [– nach n-cein]. And here 1 will disagree with my learned colleague Dr McManus because he overlooks a word in Old Irish gedal (if the dental d is rendered t) then we do have a word for the broom plant. In gedal, however, Robert has to loose his ‘reed’ and winds up with broom. The Old Irish for a reed is cuisle. It is from this word for reed that we get the word for a pipe and cuisleoir a piper because the reed is the basic component of the pipes. I think even those who are not linguistically minded are wondering why Robert Graves could assert this linguistic conjuring act, changing the spurious P = Pethoc = dwarf elder, to the equally spurious Ng = nGetal = which he claims as ‘reed’? Your guess is probably as good as mine.
We can go on and point to the G whose tree name’ given by O’Flaherty is supposed to be gort = ivy. but the Old Irish word for ivy is eidnen and the word gort actually means a field, as given above.”

So now here is where my questions start. ALL the books on my shelf in regards to the Ogham (and I have quite a few), associate them completely with trees.

Lets take The Druids’ Alphabet by ADF Archdruid, Skip Ellision. The ADF speaks out against Graves’s work. Chapter seven of Mr. Ellision’s book is titled “A Warning About Robert Graves”. Mr. Ellison also sites the same source material from Prof. Robert MacAlister, and Dr. McManis, that Mr. Ellis uses in his article.

See where I’m going with this? Its pretty much consensus that in that Graves+Ogham=Bad. So than why does everyone, including an Archdruid, who should know these things; continue to base their Ogham on trees, something that seems to have absolutely no scholarship behind it?

Has anyone traced the actual roots and meanings for all the Ogham like the ones sited in the article by Mr. Ellis? I really don’t care if they are not based on trees. I would rather be working with a system that is as accurate as current scholarship will allow.

I’m going to have to get the source material and find out.

Vision

•March 27, 2009 • Leave a Comment

 

More writing about the nine virtues for my dedicant program.

 

Vision is the guiding star of the nine virtues. It gives one direction and purpose. Vision is more than dreams or goals, they are specific and unique. Someone who is able to see things in a new light and either has a new way of accomplishing something or has a completely new purpose. Usually in regards to an advancement in thought or process. Visions can become the driving purpose behind someone’s life. They can be brought about by a state of heightened awareness, or a brush with the supernatural. Having a vision in of itself is not enough to bring it to completion. The difference between someone who is called a dreamer or a visionary is that the visionary has more than just vision. They have a plan they have laid out to follow, and the resources and strength of character to preserver until it is accomplished.

 

Ostara at Oakstone Grove, ADF

•March 26, 2009 • 1 Comment

As a dedicant I am asked to journal my celebration and experiences of the High Days.

This year for Ostara my girlfriend and I traveled to Vancouver to celebrate with Oakstone Protogrove, ADF. Even though I have been a practicing ADF druid for years, this was the first time that I have been able to attend a rite with other ADF members, and not be the one in charge of organizing and leading the event. It was defiantly a nice change. The rite was held in an occult book shop in a castle-like building in New Westminster. The Patron of the rite was Dagda Mor. We started off with a well told story about the time The Dagda’s harp was stolen by the Formorians, and how it was retrieved without bloodshed. I had been asked by Firinn if I wanted to have a part in the ritual. I agreed to open and close the gates Druids Hearth style. The Druids Hearth uses the ritual Gaelic phrases from Ian Corrigans book, Druidheachd. So with my trusty apple/bell branch and the petrified shell sacred to Manannan, I parted the veil, and closed it again later on. We offered sacrifices to the Kindreds, and to The Dagda as the Patron God. The Gods offered us protection in return for our sacrifices. To receive the blessing we all shared the waters of life, which happened to be a delicious bottle of cranberry mead. While the mead was going around we sang a chant where the men’s part was the line “power of the spirits”. Now oddly enough due to the mead the meaning of “power of the spirits” took on a bit more meaning. Delicious! Energy was high, and great fun was had by all. The evening came to a close far too soon, and so to, our trip to Vancouver. Happy Ostara everyone!

Piety

•March 26, 2009 • 1 Comment

My initial reaction to the word piety was negative in the sense that it is hollow action, or put on for show, perhaps even snobbish or pretentious. The mood is summed up quite well with the slang term “goodie goodie”. Now while the modern meaning could be seen in such a way, the meaning has changed when you compare it with that of the original Latin pietas. In the modern meanings there is a division between pious actions, done out of habit, for outward appearances or to win favour or forgiveness; and “true” spiritual piety, done because one understands and accepts their responsibilities to family and friends, their Gods and organizations to which they belong. The latter meaning is the only one that appears in the original Latin. True piety is the actions of one who consciously fulfills their role in society through dutifulness, observance and reverence.