Thursday, December 2, 2010

What Druidry Means to Me

Druidry to me means finding peace, joy and stability in my every day life through the continual cultivation of a right relationship with the Earth and everything that lives upon it.

It's that simple. :-)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Samhain To-Do List

1. Meditate on my life, and what I'd like to begin/end/change in the coming year.

2. Create a fun and tasty all-locally-grown feast for my family - include some silly items like Rosemary Garlic Blue Mashed Potatoes from locally-grown All-Blue potatoes.

3. Spend some extra quality time with the furry children and the green leafy children.

4. Order will-making software so I can get my personal paperwork updated.

5. Plant garlic and perennial onions in the garden for next year.

6. Make some of my famous ketchup!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Alban Heruin (Summer Solstice)

A ritual to be performed at noon on the longest day of the year.

Have an altar ready, indoors or out as weather or situation dictates, with representation of the elements, a druid sword, a special clear chalice with appropriate drink (or water), and a simple feast of whatever fruits of early summer were ready for harvest from the garden that morning.

[Perform solitary grove opening then move into seasonal blessing below.]

[Stand facing the noonday sun in the south and say the following aloud with feeling...]

The earth turns, and with its turning, the sun "rises" and that which we call time is called into being
The earth circles the sun, and with its circling, that which we call the seasons become
And with these times and with these seasons the Sun gives order to our existence
And with this order we measure out our lives upon this earth

On this, the longest day of the year, we give thanks for the blessings summer brings
We give thanks for the light, for without it, the plants could not grow
We give thanks for the warmth, for without it, the earth would be barren
We give thanks for summer for within its warm and fertile embrace the plants of summer grow to bring forth the fruits of the harvest!

Lift the chalice from the altar

The maiden of spring becomes once again the green queen of summer! Behold the richness of the growing season, the fertility of the living earth, and the first fruits of the year. We give thanks for the return of summer and the rich promise of a new harvest to come!

[Salute the noonday sun with chalice]

Father Sun, bless and warm us!

[With chalice, salute the earth]

Mother Earth, bless and feed us!

[Pour a small libation from chalice to each tree in the grove in turn, and by either pouring into dishes or dipping fingers into the chalice, let the critters have a taste as well]

All of life, live! Grow! Rejoice!

In Gaia, all life is one!

[Bow head and drink also from the chalice, signifying oneness with all the other life present]

[close grove]

Modified Solitary Grove Ritual

Ceremony to open, close and work within the Druid Grove


One Druid
Basic Altar Setup (elements, altar candle and sword)
Seasonal Items or Offerings
Cakes & Ale


Written Affirmations


Basic Altar setup placed upon white or colored cloth or special items appropriate to the season, and on table or other flat surface in center of open space. If indoors, the potted Grove Trees can be moved to encircle the altar area. If burning affirmations, have a cauldron with salt or ash base ready, as well as matches for lighting fire. All artificial lighting is turned off during ritual, but natural sounds of water or of family pets joining the ritual are welcome.

Opening the Grove:

Druid enters the Grove from the North, lights the altar candle, and proceeds to proclaim peace to the four directions and throughout the Grove by saluting each direction with an open hand in turn and saying “I proclaim peace in the North” (South, East, West…) or by partially unsheathing, then re-sheathing the small sword from the altar while saying the same.

Conclude this portion with “Golden Aspen Druid Grove is now open. Let nothing hinder or interrupt the work of this Grove.”

Consecrating the Grove:

Hold each element up in turn to do their work of cleansing and protecting the Grove. “Ask” the elements of air/sky, water/sea, and earth/land to be a part of the mystery and magic of the grove ritual, and to cleanse the participant and the area of any negative or unproductive feelings they might be carrying into it. State with each presentation of the elements, “May [element] cleanse and prepare this Grove and all present for its holy work and banish from here any element of discord or other hindrance to its peace.” Conclude with “I hereby declare this Grove cleansed and consecrated for all work required of it this day.”

Working Within the Grove:

At this point, the Druid will do whatever work is required, or desired, within the Grove. Any seasonal ritual, personal working or meditation can be inserted here. Here is also where affirmations should be given voice and then burnt in the cauldron. If there is no other work required, move to thanking the Universe for providing sustenance, symbolized by the Cakes and Ale.

Closing the Grove:

Proclaim the work of the Grove to be finished for this day by unsheathing the sword and holding it aloft for a moment, and then sheathing it again and saying “I declare the work of the Golden Aspen Grove closed for this day; may good fortune and peace follow all who are a part.”

Spiritual Development Essay II

The goal of spiritual development, in my opinion, is gaining the willingness and ability to:

* look within one's self and discover the inconsistencies within one's own belief system, and then work to resolve those inconsistencies in order to strengthen the solidarity of our own internal belief system
* look at how one has been relating to the world at large and, using the "new and improved" version of one's beliefs, work to eliminate the inconsistencies between what one believes and how one acts in the world and how one treats others
* and, three, to continue to think about and refine these two spheres of thought throughout life, putting into practice any changes made to one's beliefs so that our beliefs and actions remain more or less consistent as we grow.

This process may result in an abandonment of a traditional religious belief, it may entail a change to a totally different belief system, or it may result in the person remaining within their current belief system but pursuing it with renewed understanding and more active involvement. However, as long as the goal is an improved ability to discern "truth" and to put that truth into practice, then the result will hopefully be greater spiritual development.

In my view, there are many barriers to achieving a state of continual spiritual development. The first is the fact that we often find it quite difficult to be honest with ourselves about who we are and what we really believe. Everyone wears various masks in their every day life that show only the parts of ourselves that we want the rest of the world to see. We even wear masks that serve to show only the parts of ourselves to ourselves that WE want to see! It is not fun to look at the primitive and sometimes violent emotions that churn behind our facades. The hardest part of true spiritual development is it requires you to pierce through the masks you wear and delve into the mess that lies behind them.

In my experience, it is often quite painful to admit that you are even wearing a mask - nearly everyone wants to believe that they are "honest" and "good" and the general consensus is that "good honest people" don't wear masks. And certainly "good honest people" don't have all that violent emotional churning going on behind the scenes! So, while a mask may be what we think we need in order to live with ourselves in peace, the more masks that we create the less we are able to access what lies behind them and the less we are able to do the work that is required to advance our lives spiritually.

Therefore, mentoring others in their spiritual development, while rewarding at times, can also be a very complicated and dangerous undertaking. It is more than enough work for most of us to just mentor ourselves. Helping others to undergo that difficult process is even more tricky. However, if the person requesting mentoring is sincere in their wish to undertake the task, there are a few things I believe can be done to aid them in this that go beyond simply pointing them in the direction of helpful resources.

First, we should not try to tell our mentee what they should do, even if we think we have the "right" answer, or that they are in some way not being honest with themselves about something they do or believe. Popping delusional bubbles is best left to the person who has them. If they cannot do it, then that generally means it cannot be done at that time. So we as mentors should try to leave any arrogant "I'll just HELP them out of their delusions" attitude at the door. In fact, popping one's own delusional bubbles is a skill that is so worth the work required to hone that we as mentors should strive to not deprive our mentees of the experience.

Second, I think mentors should resist the temptation to try to do all the mental work for a mentee when they are struggling. It's okay to make a few suggestions, but if you try to map everything out for them that you think they should be doing, then they won't own the process and owning one's own journey is imperative for achieving true spiritual development. Besides, who says we as mentors can really know it all anyway? That is serious arrogance! Worse, if the mentor is shown to be right about some things, the mentee may begin to try to relate to their mentor as yet another authority figure interceding between themselves and their concept of god. While that kind of regard might please some people's egos, adding yet another layer between our mentees and the divine is not at all what mentors should be working towards.

Third, I believe we should make peace with the fact that some parts of this journey are just going to be painful. There's little that can be done about that, and perhaps it is just as well. We all tend to value the things we've had to work the hardest to obtain, and spiritual development is no different in this respect. A mentor needs to learn to "sit with the pain" when a mentee is experiencing it, and allow the pain to do the work it needs to do without too much interference. Comforting a mentee is definitely appropriate, but I think it is important to realize that taking away the pain is not always the best thing to do: sometimes it is necessary to fully experience the pain of our own shortcomings in order to bring about the desire for true change.

Spiritual Development Essay

People, generally according to their personality and culture, have differing levels of need for a connection with something larger than themselves. Some people have a very high need to connect with a "god object" and others have a very low need for that type of emotional connection. Others fall more in the middle ground. I believe religion is the means by which people reconcile the outer world of rational experience with their inner emotional life and need to feel as if they belong to something larger and more powerful than themselves.

I believe that, also dependent upon people's culture and personality, is how different people go about relating to that something bigger. Some people rely upon this "god object" for protection. Some rely upon it (actually, they rely upon those who claim to serve it) to tell them what is the moral way to live their lives. Some want to use this god object to reward themselves and punish those they do not like. Some just want the emotional high that accompanies communion with their god object. I believe a lot of the reason for this difference is cultural in nature - that it often depends upon the religious atmosphere in which one is raised.

The reason I say it is dependent upon the atmosphere in which one is raised is because tribal affiliation is a strong human need - so strong that people generally tend to self-select into tribal groups even if they are not born to one. People incorporate tribal-type groups into their lives on many levels without even thinking about it. The choosing of sports team affiliations, school affiliations, gang affiliations, political affiliations, and even who you might root for on "American Idol" could be said to fall into this tribal pattern. One could even make the argument that product brand affiliation falls into this category!

Even if you don't want to take the analogy quite that far, it seems apparent to me that tribal affiliation is very important to most people. What this means is that if you are raised in a culture (tribe) with a strong religious affiliation, you may well buy into that affiliation out of your need to feel that you "belong." I think that is part of the reason why, until recently, people in different parts of the world tended to be more or less homogeneous in their spiritual beliefs within their cultural groups. People may say that they follow a particular religion because they believe it to be "the truth," but in my opinion the need to belong to their cultural tribe is so strong that people tend to overlook the parts of their group's religious tenets that do not make sense, or make excuses for them, rather than admit these inconsistencies and question them. I believe getting past that unthinking belief and fear of not belonging is an important step towards discovering one's true spiritual path.

I believe a large part of what a particular person believes on a spiritual level is also influenced by a second layer: their culture's need to also, as a community organism, belong to something that is larger than itself. I think this is why nearly all religions rely upon a select group of shamans, priests, clergy, or elders to determine what the larger tribal group believes, and which are the practices the group will or will not engage in. The laity generally concern themselves with their relationship to the community through adherence to its approved belief system, and the higher ups tend to concern themselves with the tribe's continued relationship to the cosmos, as they interpret it. This two layer system must work pretty well, because it is fairly common among religious groups, even among those that pride themselves on encouraging their adherents to engage in direct communication with the divine.

Another aspect of individual spirituality is personal in the sense that people tend to interpret events they experience in the "real" world in different ways according to their personalities and upbringings. For example, let's take the case of three different people who, while on walk in the woods, narrowly escape being hit by a tree falling over the trail. Each person experiences something that is very much the same, yet each will interpret the event according to their own inner, emotional needs and concordant spiritual belief system. One person might interpret the event as an "attack" upon them, personally. They may believe that evil forces are out there trying to do them harm. Therefore, they may experience this event as proof they need to further appeal to their gods for protection. Another person might experience this near-miss as proof that their gods are protecting them, and that they are therefore cared for, valued and loved. This person might be prompted by the event to declare their gratitude in a worshipful or sacrificial manner to the powers that they believe have spared them an untimely demise. Yet a third person may consider the event startling, but not as proof that the universe cares or doesn't care for them personally. This person might dismiss the event as random and while they may feel relief at not being hit over the head with a tree, they would probably not feel the need to commune with any gods over the event.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Infusion, decoction, tincture, salve...

For my Healing Spiral I am required to make at least one infusion, one decoction, one tincture and one salve. Here are the herbal medicines I've made and used on a regular basis to complete that requirement...

Infusions: red raspberry leaf, chamomile, peppermint, fennel seed, rose, feverfew

Decoctions: elderberries, ginger root, cinnamon bark

Salves: throat and chest balm with menthol, lip balms, arnica bruise balm

Tinctures: willow bark, hawthorn berry, dandelion, elderberry, feverfew

I have also made some capsule medicines with powdered cinnamon and ginko.

Picture, left to right: elderberry syrup from decoction, dried feverfew, chest and throat balm, red raspberry leaf, rose petals, hawthorn tincture, lavender buds, chamomile tea (infusion) and cinnamon capsules in the middle, along with one of my herbal healing books I used for this spiral.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Healing Herbs and Plants

Here is a list of the healing herbs I currently have growing in my garden.

Aloe Vera, Aronia, Artichoke, Basil, Bearberry, Borage, Calendula, Catnip, Cayenne, Dandelion, Echinacea, Elderberry, Feverfew, Flax, Garlic, Ginger (Galangal Root), Hops, Horsetail, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Meadowsweet, Parsley, Peppermint, Plantain, Raspberry, Rhubarb, Rose, Rosemary, Sage, Spearmint, Stevia, Thyme, Wild Cherry, and Yarrow.

Picture: a pot of wild (captured!) feverfew growing on my balcony. Feverfew grows wild here in spots, and this one was in danger of being mowed over this spring, so I moved it to a pot where it could finish its life cycle (and be harvested) in peace.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What My Garden Teaches Me

(This post is one of several I have written that attempts to explain what Druidry means to me, in a practical every day sense.)

My garden is my primary Druidry instructor. My garden brings the Universe down to a size that my feeble human mind can wrap itself around and understand. My garden lets me participate in the drama of birth and life and death in a way that draws me in and compels me to pay attention. My garden is a metaphor for me, for my life, and for my place in the universe.

This verse, adapted from a popular poem (Dorothy Frances Gurney) sums this up quite nicely for me.

"The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth...
One is nearer the divine in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth."

All of nature is my teacher. But in my garden, as with any personal relationship, the lessons I learn are more poignant and compelling because they take place closest to where I live, closest to my heart. So, what has my garden taught me over the years?

It's taught me that I am happiest when I have dirt under my fingernails.

It's taught me that you can wrestle with Mother Nature, but you can't truly "win." You may gain some mastery over her for a short time, but as the saying goes, "Nature always bats last." In the end, she will do as she always does - and that is as it should be.

It's taught me that working with Nature is far better than working against it.

It's taught me that the natural ways of soil and clean air and moist humus and warm sun make for happier plants and a healthier gardener.

It's taught me that no matter how small a space I may have, I will always be happiest sharing it with something else that is alive.

My garden has taught me that all life is intertwined and dependent. Human life is no exception to this rule.

It has taught me that even the humblest, most "desolate" place may hide some magic within - if you look for it.

It has taught me that the smell of green things growing is far better than any perfume.

It has also taught me my place. The garden feeds me. One day I will feed it. Life will go on, but in a different way, and that is also as it should be.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Healing Spiral - Recertified in Adult CPR

Just took the exam to re-certify (had the full classes a few years ago for Infant, Child and Adult CPR) in Adult CPR and passed - First Aid is next to go, then I'll be completely finished with this spiral!

Edited to add: First Aid exam taken and passed, too! All finished with this part of my Degree work!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Morning Sun Salutation

A short ritual to greet the day


One Druid
Clear glass chalice with water
One G2V class star (substitution allowed if not available from your location)


Get up early enough to watch the sun rise. Pick a spot with a clear view of the horizon.


Watch as the sun slowly moves from below the horizon and into view. Appreciate its beauty, and the light and warmth it gives. (If it is cloudy, imagine the sun shining beyond the clouds sending its light and warmth to the Earth.)

Salute the rising sun with your open palm facing outward and give thanks to the sun for its gifts – light, warmth, energy, just enough gravity to keep the earth from being flung out into darkest space... If the sun is not visible that morning imagine it where it should be and salute that spot in the sky.

Notice where on the horizon the sun has risen and make a mental note to notice the changes in its location as the year progresses.

Fill the glass or goblet with the cool water, and raise it in front of you as if toasting with it to the sun. Watch the sparkles of light from the new day dancing within the clear depths. Imagine the life giving energy of the sun flowing into the water and pooling there as liquid gold. Imagine the water becoming charged with this energy and life.

Drink the water meditatively. Savor the coolness of it as it travels down your throat and into your body. Feel the energy from it moving into your being, bringing with it health, vitality and life.

When finished, wash and dry and put away the goblet. Go about the rest of the day with a good attitude.

This is a good ritual to perform at least once a week, if not more often.

Desert in Bloom!

Today my husband and I went on an "explore" out into the desert north of here. We love to do this on occasion, and in the early summer is the best time, because 1) it isn't so danged hot, and 2) the snow has just melted and the flowers are often out.

Flowers in the desert are generally not very showy - but they can be quite fascinating. Today we saw some miniature monkey flowers (mimulus) that we've seen elsewhere in the Craters of the Moon ecoscape. These are tiny - and I do mean TINY - flowers that bloom in early summer between the time the snow melts and the time the temps get hot enough to bake the ground.

This tiny clump of three Monkeyflowers could be hidden from view with a silver dollar. Each of the plants within the clump could be covered up with a quarter. That is how small these are. It's amazing to see them all over the ground.

This photo covers an area just a bit wider than a foot or so. There are other flowers besides the mini-monkeyflowers there, but I haven't identified them yet. It's just amazing what treasures you can find if you look down while out on a walk!

This is one of the things I love most about Druidry - it not only encourages, but in a way it mandates that I take the time to enjoy even the small things one can find in nature. How many years of my life have I simply walked past tiny wonders without even taking the time to really appreciate them? How much of my life have I spent not ever bothering to lift my head up to the night sky and stand in amazement at the billions of worlds whirling around above my head?

I love most how this path has re-awakened my feeling of wonder.

Old Poetry Found Again

I wrote this a couple of years ago, but found it again just this past weekend while going through some of my files. Okay, I'm no bard, but it's a start.

Elemental Truths

The salt of all the primordial seas
is present still inside of me
The first waters that fell as rain
flow now eternally through my veins

The very earth upon which I stand
is one with the substance of my hands
My creative thoughts do ebb and flow
as air's gentle winds upon me blow

Sometimes I am fire, a formidable force
as tides of emotion through me course
Other times I am gentle as the starlit sky
to whose awesome beauty I raise humbled eyes

Of this holy Earth I am but a small part -
may its rhythms beat forever within my heart

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pimpin' My Altar

Here's a picture of my altar, all packed up in a special box I decorated just for this purpose. The box is 5.75 inches on a side, and has a gold oak leaf imprinted upon the top. The goal was to have everything I needed for the basic AODA rituals and ceremonies in a small enough container that it could be easily tucked into a backpack, suitcase or into my Crane Bag.

Here is a picture of the altar case, opened. The AODA patch I received when I first joined decorates the inside of the lid, and gives an idea of the scale. In the case are two altar cloths - one is a lacy white doily and the other is a pretty green mistletoe print that I can use under it if I want. I will have other holiday themed cloths at some point, I just haven't cut them out yet. Also in the case are two tiny chalices for water and salt, a small candlestick for the beeswax candles I use, and a tiny incense burner. There is also a small sword and sheath, a pack of matches, a bottle of some special water, a small jar to hold the salt when it's not being used, a small black cauldron, the actual altar platter that everything rests upon, and a small goblet and platter for cakes and ale.

This is a really nice piece of petrified wood that I often use to support the other items when I'm at home. It's nice and flat and polished on the top, and I like the idea of using something that came from a tree so long ago. This is also something that's been in the family for a while - came from a relative that was a geologist.

Here is everything for a Grove Ceremony all out on the altar and ready to go (except for the tiny token cakes and ale.) You can see the tiny sword and sheath out and ready. The sword is a martini pick, and I made the sheath from some heavy paper and decorated it with Awens.

Like Paper in Fire

I've been going through my CD collection lately and also soliciting suggestions from friends about songs that can be used as sources of inspiration for meditation and ritual. I received back quite a number of great ideas (thanks, AODA Public friends!) and have begun to comb through them. But this morning, while going through the music I already have, I came across this old favorite: Paper in Fire, by John Mellencamp. The verse that really struck me today was this one:

"There's a good life
right across the green fields
And each generation
Stares at it from afar
But we keep no check
On our appetites
So the green fields turn to brown
Like paper in fire"

I couldn't sleep this morning, so I got up for a while around 3am. During that time I read some of the online blogs I occasionally visit. One of them, The Automatic Earth had a guest article from a young man living in Kenya, who wants to know what is going to happen to his generation and the generations that come after now that we, the elders of our time, have incurred debt unimaginable, as well as burned through the majority of the "easy oil" on the planet and have used it to joyride in personal automobiles, wage war all over the globe, make stupid throwaway trinkets out of plastic, and pile all the residue and packaging from our excesses up in gargantuan landfills on the land and continental size "garbage gyres" in the sea. As painful as it may be to examine our own culpability here, well - I believe he has the right to ask. I just wish we had a good answer for him.

The bottom line is - "we kept no check on our appetites." For all our vaunted human brainpower, for all our supposed ability to reason beyond the moment - we chose to behave no differently than the simplest of single cell creatures. We behaved just like yeast do when given a rich environment. We used the easy energy to grow fat, procreate like mad, and then, in true yeasty fashion, to piss in our own nests. We gave no serious thought to the future, to what our children or grandchildren would need to live healthy and happy lives. We set up an economic system that rewarded our own short-sighted greed and pushed the payment for it upon the next generations. We, the generations who unlocked the potential behind the "black gold" from the ancient past have partied hearty on our inheritance and have refused to acknowledge that we are just as bound by limits as any other lifeform on this planet. We refused to keep a check on our appetites so that future generations could make use of this wonderful legacy of millions of years of fossilized sunlight. We chose instead to blow the vast majority of it on one continuous drunken binge - the energy that took geologic ages to accumulate and concentrate will be effectively gone within 100 or so years of its debut. Within just one human lifetime, give or take a decade or two, we blew an inheritance that could have lifted not just one, but many generations of our kind out of abject poverty, pain and despair. All that will be left to show for the party is a mountain of debt and a planet full of trash and poison.

We could stop squandering what we have now and save at least some of this bounty for future generations, but most of us are too selfish, shortsighted or ignorant to make the sacrifices required. We would rather pretend that the limits do not exist, or that somehow our super brains will figure out a way to make them not count. And we will do this right up until the end. And what we will leave for our children and their children will not be pretty or healthy. They will live their lives in the stinking mess that we've created. And they will be the ones that pay for what we, their parents and grandparents, have done.

Kids, I'm truly sorry for my part in this, but I don't quite know how to stop. I guess it's time to put some serious effort into figuring that out.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Proposed "Idaho Ogham"

I'm still working some of this out, but here it is as it stands now...

First Series

Letter: Beith
Traditional Tree: Birch
Idaho Equivalent: Water Birch (Betula occidentalis) -- This multi-stemmed tree grows 15-25 feet tall, producing decorative catkins in April and May. It grows well on moist sites, especially near a pond or stream. Native to the Rocky Mountain states - including Idaho - and grows from 3,000-9,000 feet in elevation.

Letter: Luis
Traditional Tree: Rowan
Idaho Equivalent: Dwarf Mountain Ash (Sorbus scopulina) - This 10-15 foot tall shrub to small tree is a cousin of the European Rowan. It is deciduous with compound, sharply serrated leaves. The small white flowers are borne in large, dense, flat-topped clusters and appear in summer. Fruits are reddish-orange, have the typical "five pointed star" on their bottom end and grow in large-ish clusters that ripen in late summer to early fall. Grows wild on the windswept tops of many mountains near here.

Letter: Fearn
Traditional Tree: Alder
Idaho Equivalent: Sitka Alder (Alnus sinuata). This is the alder that forms large glades at mid to upper elevations in the mountains of this state. It is notable for its very long male catkins and clusters of dainty woody cones.

Letter: Saille
Traditional Tree: Willow
Idaho Equivalent: White Willow (Salix Alba sp.) Many varieties of the White Willow are established in most of the riparian areas all over the state. Medicinally important plant.

Letter: Nuin
Traditional Tree: Ash
Idaho Equivalent: No native true Ash trees, but Canyon Maple (Acer grandidentatum), a shrubby or somewhat tree-like maple which usually matures at 10-15 ft is quite common in the mountains near streams. Its bark is dark brown and scaly and is branches are stout and erect. The thickish, three- to five-lobed deciduous leaves turn bright red and gold in the fall. A cousin of the Sugar Maple, larger Canyon Maples can be tapped for syrup if you can brave the snow and get to them early enough in the year.

Second Series

Letter: Huath
Traditional Tree: Hawthorn
Idaho Equivalent: Douglas Hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii) -- This thorn-bearing shrub can grow to 15 feet tall. It is moderately drought tolerant and produces a purple-black fruit in summer that is favored by birds. Fruits have medicinal value and can be gathered in fair quantity in the autumn, if you can beat the Grouse to them.

Letter: Duir
Traditional Tree: Oak
Idaho Equivalent: "Sweet Idaho Burr Oak" - found growing wild in north Idaho (Quercus macrocarpa) is found in a variety of habitats from dry hillsides to moist bottomlands, rich woods and fertile slopes, mainly on limestone soils, and the sweet acorns are considered quite edible and sweet with only minimal preparation (leaching.)

Letter: Tinne
Traditional Tree: Holly
Idaho Equivalent: Creeping Oregon grape (Berberis or Mahonia repens ) -- A low-growing, evergreen subshrub or ground cover with holly-like leaves. Drought and shade tolerant, it is native to the forest understory. Grows 1 foot tall and flowers are a bright yellow in April and May with edible blue berries later in the season.

Letter: Coll
Traditional Tree: Hazel
Idaho Equivalent: Hazelnut, Beaked (Corylus cornuta) Grows 3-12 feet in height, edible nuts; yellow, fall color; stream banks; well-drained soil.

Letter: Quert
Traditional Tree: Apple
Idaho Equivalent: Wood’s rose (Rosa woodsii) There are no native apples, but apples and roses are related, and there IS a lovely wild rose that grows in the mountains here, that has large rosehips that we make rosehip jam from. Native along riparian corridors primarily, this 3-4 foot tall shrub produced simple pink flowers in late May and early June. This shrub spreads vegetatively to form thickets. Bright red rose hips in fall and winter are showy and attractive to wildlife.

Third Series

Letter: Muin
Traditional Tree: Vine
Idaho Equivalent: Clematis, Western Virgin's Bower (Clematis columbiana) up to 15 feet long, blue to lavender flowers; feathery, plumed seed pods, blooming May - July in moist forested areas.

Letter: Gort
Traditional Tree: Ivy
Idaho Equivalent: Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) is a species of Rubus, native to western and northern North America, including Idaho. It is a dense shrub up to 2.5 m tall with canes 3-15 mm diameter, often growing in large clumps which spread through the plant's underground rhizome. Unlike most other members of the genus, it has no thorns. The leaves are palmate, 5-20 cm across, with five lobes; they are soft and fuzzy in texture. The flowers are 2-6 cm diameter, with five white petals and numerous pale yellow stamens. It produces a tart edible composite fruit 10-15 mm diameter, which ripen to a bright red in mid to late summer.

Letter: Ngetal
Traditional Tree: Broom or Fern
Idaho Equivalent: Western Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum) Western bracken fern does not persist in forests beyond about 200 years, and is considered a useful indicator of seral forest communities in some forests, and in aspen (Populus tremuloides) communities, an indicator of site deterioration. Edible fiddleheads in the spring.

Letter: Straif
Traditional Tree: Blackthorn
Idaho Equivalent: Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) -- This deciduous shrub typically grows 8-15 feet tall and spreads vegetatively. It produces clusters of white flowers on pendulant spikes in the spring. Fruits ripen to a deep purple to black color in summer and often make a great syrup for pancakes.

Letter: Ruis
Traditional Tree: Elder
Idaho Equivalent: Blue Elderberry (Sambucus cerulea) - Deciduous shrub to 15 feet tall, it produces small white flowers in summer and powdery blue fruits in late summer. Blue elderberry has pinnately compound leaves, grows best in well-drained soil in sun to partial shade, requires plentiful water, and is not preferred by deer.

Fourth Series

Letter: Ailm
Traditional Tree: Silver Fir
Idaho Equivalent: Fir, SubAlpine (Abies lasiocarpa) The majestic spire-shaped conifer of our highest elevations. Soft, blue-green needles.

Letter: Onn
Traditional Tree: Gorse
Idaho Equivalent: Silver Buffaloberry (Sheperdia argentea) - This deciduous shrub to multi-stemmed small tree reaches 10-15 feet in height. It has silvery, narrow, entire leaves. Branches are opposite and spine-tipped, and its fruits are reddish-yellow and provide an excellent food source for birds. Will spread vegetatively. Drought tolerant and grows best in full sun.

Letter: Ur
Traditional Tree: Heather
Idaho Equivalent: Purple Huckleberry (Vaccinium spp.) Huckleberry is a name used in North America for several plants in the family Ericaceae (Heather family), in two closely related genera: Vaccinium and Gaylussacia. The huckleberry is the state fruit of Idaho in the United States and has wonderfully tasty and fragrant purple to black fruit. It prefers the moist and humus-y forest understory at higher elevations in the northern part of the state.

Letter: Eadha
Traditional Tree: Aspen
Idaho Equivalent: Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides). An extremely attractive, fast-growing tree which spreads aggressively by underground suckers. Rarely reproduced by seed - many stands are genetically identical and can be thousands of years old. "Pando (or The Trembling Giant) is a clonal colony of a single male Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) located in the U.S. state of Utah, all determined to be part of a single living organism by identical genetic markers and one massive underground root system, although whether it is a single tree is disputed, as it depends on one's definition of an individual tree. The plant is estimated to weigh collectively 6,000 tonnes (6,615 tons), making it the heaviest known organism." [] Gorgeous gold and golden orange fall color on the leaves and the almost chalk-white bark with deep black markings make groves of it stand out in the mountains in the autumn.

Letter: Ioho
Traditional Tree: Yew
Idaho Equivalent: Yew, Pacific (Taxus brevifolia). Our Pacific Northwestern native yew is a shrub or small tree with unusual plate-y bark and a very interesting cone. Needs summer moisture.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Samhain - necklace of the ancestors

And, they're all made of oil, too. ;-)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Vernal Equinox

So, here is where we spent the Spring Equinox this year - near Bruneau Gorge (pictured above) camping in Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park. I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the end of winter and the coming of Spring, than to be out in the wild enjoying the outdoors! It was still quite blustery and cool, but we hiked, went driving around and exploring, canoed, and joined a star party at the Park observatory. There wasn't much blooming on that weekend, but things were definitely starting to green up.

I am thinking seriously about trying to schedule more trips out to the wild during major holidays this coming year. I would love to spend Summer Solstice, for instance, in a lovely old Aspen Grove that we stumbled upon in the mountains while exploring the area last fall...

For a pet who has passed on...

We had one of those sad events in our household a couple of weeks ago. My stepson's pet hamster, Samwise Gamgee (affectionately known as "Sammie Hammie" to those who loved him) passed along in his sleep one afternoon. We knew he was probably not going to be with us much longer, as he was starting to experience some of the age-related hamster issues that plague these little guys who are often quite inbred. But the reality of his passing was still very upsetting for us all.

We created a nice ritual for saying goodbye to Sammie that I thought I would share here. First, we all had a good cuddle and cry and talked about what a wonderful little hamster he was. And, this was very true - unlike many hamsters who seem to have a real mean streak, Sammie had not one mean bone in his little body. He loved to be picked up and held and to sit on people's shoulders. My husband had even made a little song up for when he wanted to call him out from his little house - and Sammie would hear that song and climb up the ramps to the top of the cage where he could be picked up. So, we had a lot of loving memories to share of our time spent with the little guy.

Then, we discussed how everything that dies goes back into the Earth, and from the elements that once were the hamster - or the person - we knew, new life would spring. So in the spirit of that knowledge, my son chose not to put Sammie into a box or anything that would inhibit his returning to the Earth. He chose instead to simply wrap him up in a piece of brightly colored cloth, along with a sprinkle of his favorite hammie food.

We chose to bury Sammie out in the back yard, in a special area we've reserved for departed pets. My son wanted to dig the hole himself, so we helped him do that. Then, we placed Sammie tenderly in the earth, and told him goodbye. My son put some earth in on top of the little bundle, several inches of it (we have dogs and cats, so we buried him deeply to keep him unmolested.) Then, we planted some daffodil bulbs on top of the burial site - one bulb for each person in the family who loved him. In this way we celebrated the new life that would come from our loss.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Druid's Egg has found a home

Druid's Egg has found a home in a necklace I created to celebrate the solstices and equinoxes. I wanted something galactic themed with stars and nebulas and just a general astronomy feel to it. So I put Druid's Egg into a necklace with "Starlight AB" vintage crystals, gold disks and some accent beads that have silver dots to look like stars.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Took the plunge, finally! (New Etsy Shop)

After a lot of encouragement from friends and family, I've opened up an Etsy shop to sell some of my beads, focals and miniature vessel creations. I don't have a lot in there at the moment, and no finished pieces yet - but I'm going to work on it for the next few months and see how things go.

The link is Ritual Offerings Etsy Shop

Here are a few more of the items online right now...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Oil People: You are what you eat

This is a set I'm calling "Oil People: You Are What You Eat." It's made from a lovely matte metallic glass, and expresses the fact that most of us are actually made of oil.

No, really - we are. You see, there used to be a whole lot fewer of us on the Earth. Then along came the discovery of cheap and relatively abundant energy in the form of fossil fuels, mainly oil. The unearned largess left to us by the captured solar energy of the past enabled us to create huge and complicated machines to do a lot of the work of survival for us, and mandated huge and complicated social and economic systems to support those machines. On top of that, we use oil and natural gas to mine phosphates and to create nitrogen for fertilizers that enabled us to artificially sustain much-heavier-than-natural growth of the plants we and our food animals eat, so another consequence of all this cheap energy was a suddenly much greater supply of agricultural products (especially food) which has enabled our human populations to literally explode.

Now there are a whole lot more humans alive than there has ever been in all of our planet's history. However, most of us wouldn't even be here without the cheap energy oil has provided - this is why I chose a glass for this set that has a lot of the visual characteristics of an oil slick. But the problem is, oil is a finite resource. Some day soon we will have to fully face that fact, and our population will once again drop back to sustainable levels that reflect what our planet is able to carry without "cheating" by using up fossil energy from the way far back past.

Unfortunately, our species has shown a lot of signs that we will likely choose to fight and to kill for the last energy effective drops of this limited resource. And that is the reason why the all of the focals in this set are skulls. If we had only listened to what the earth was trying to tell us about limits before we reached this point, we could have avoided the wars and death that are likely to follow. But, we didn't. People are just not very good at planning ahead, especially when it involves sacrifice. And what is to come will be all the more tragic for our species because of that.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Earth Path Report for 2009

The Earth Path has three goals. I will list them and then give a report on my progress for the year below each.

1. Performance of a regular series of experiences and practices designed to increase your awareness and knowledge of the natural world, and to decrease the negative impact of your own life on the living Earth.

Hiking and camping: We again spent a lot more time outdoors camping and hiking than we did the previous year. We bought a little old used camping trailer and fixed it up - now we have a mobile home base that will allow us to stay out longer, sleep in comfort, and still get in plenty of sunshine, fresh air and take in beautiful views. One of our favorite places this year was Toppance Canyon, which we visited twice this year for long weekends. It has a lovely creek running through it, Toppance Creek, and a nice mix of open meadows, feeder creeks and woodsy hillsides. We did a lot of hiking and some grouse hunting up in the hills this summer and fall there, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

We also spent a lot more time fishing and tried a couple of new places we'd never been to before. I re-discovered how much I enjoy being out in a kayak on a lake or stream! And fishing from one proved to be just the ticket - we spent several afternoons out on a local pond fishing from kayaks and caught our limit of delicious young trout nearly every time. Instead of flies or bait, though, we used roostertail spinbaits. The trout just tear those up - can't seem to leave them alone. :-)

Our goal for the next year is to continue to explore Idaho further, including taking some trips to special places for hiking and rockhounding purposes. Because I like to make "meaningful jewelry" from semi-precious gemstones and my lampwork art glass, I thought I might enjoy finding and personally preparing some of the stones that I will use for future projects. Idaho is a rockhound's paradise, so this coming year I have in mind at least two, and possibly three outings to places that are known for having interesting finds. I especially want to try my hand at panning for Idaho garnets, and if I find some of the right size, tumbling and polishing them, then drilling them for use in jewelry.

Eating more local food and wasting it less: This year we've met our goal of eating locally a consistent 75%. We've done this by buying local basics in bulk, gardening intensively here at the house, buying produce from local vendors, and preserving what we can find locally in season so it can be used later in the year. Something that made a big difference this year was finding some local folks raising beef and pork. We bought the animals "on the hoof" and then paid a local butcher to slaughter, cut and wrap them for us. The animals were raised in humane surroundings, butchered close to home and the steer was also grass fed and not given unnecessary hormones or antibiotics. Turns out the Farmer's Market, while cool, isn't the only game in town. Craigslist is a virtual cornucopia of places to get local foods! We split both the half beef and the pig with some friends of ours that live in north Idaho, and both families were well pleased with the meat. We're planning to do this again this year and to branch out to local chevon and lamb, and perhaps split a farm-raised elk in the fall.

The garden this year was a tremendous success, in spite of some very odd weather and a rather significant reduction in our already short growing season. We literally had wheelbarrow loads of tomatoes! We are STILL eating some of the "Long Keepers" as I write this, nearly three months after harvesting them! Those are definitely going back in next year, it's a wonderful luxury to have fresh home-grown tomatoes so far into the winter. They aren't anywhere near as tasty as summer 'maters, but they'll definitely do.

This year we froze a lot more fresh vegetables, but I still managed to can 3 or 4 hundred more jars of local fruits, vegetables, meats and broth, condiments and pickles to replace what we ate last year and augment our storage. I also ventured further into making our own condiments, putting up some very tasty homemade ketchup, chutney, bbq sauce and hot sauce in addition to the sweet and dill relish, jams, jellies and other things I already do.

Next year we are going to add more storage foods to our garden by using some space at my folks' home to grow things that require a lot of room, like corn, popcorn, sunflower seeds, winter squash, dry and green beans. If all goes well, we should be able to keep our 75% local goal and maybe even do a little bit better. I don't think we will ever be able to be 100% local unless the food system collapses, but 75% is pretty darned good, I think. Especially for people who must, for now, live in the city.

Composting and recycling: We joined our local recycling program this year, and I'm happy to report that this has enabled us to recycle a much larger portion of our refuse than in the past. We probably are recycling around half of it now, whereas before it was more like 10% or so. I am happy with this improvement, and don't mind paying the extra 5 bucks a month to help make it happen.

We are doing a little better with our composting efforts. We have a bucket for scraps on the kitchen counter now and if we will only try to remember to empty it more often, then I will be happy with our progress there, too! That's unfortunately what you get when you have two rather absent-minded adults running the place...

2. Participation in a regular series of seasonal Druid celebrations, including at least the two solstices and two equinoxes, which are traditional in the AODA.

Again, as I said last year - since I'm a solitary here, nearly all of my holy day celebrations have been either just minor affairs for my own benefit, or "virtual" gatherings with the AODA Inner Grove group. I've attended *all* of the Inner Grove rituals this year. I've also begun some preliminary work on some rituals that I'll be using in my Third Degree project.

One thing that is new this year - I'm making some plans to start a study group here at some point in the future - just in case someone else in the area decides they want to experience and study druidry. As far as I know I'm the only AODA druid in this area - for all I know I may be the only druid in the area, period! But, you just never know what the future holds. I'm going to call the study group the "Golden Aspen Group" after the lovely aspen trees we have here. We saw some this fall while out exploring and I have some pictures that are just wonderful. I'll try to post them later. This aspen grove was an old grove we stumbled upon while hiking. The tree trunks were pretty massive for aspen, and the trees themselves were tall and lovely. It was a magical spot. I wish it was closer so I could visit it more often, but if it was, it would probably get spoiled.

3. Practice of a regular series of spiritual exercises including daily meditation.

My meditation practice is becoming a bit more regular. I'm meditating now whenever I can find even a few minutes spare time and some quiet space. I would like to meditate more often and for longer periods of time, but sometimes it's just hard to get that much time alone and uninterrupted. I'm going to keep working at it, and as long as I can say every year that I've improved, then I'm going to call it "good enough." Maybe some day my life won't be quite so hectic, but for now, this is the way it is.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Druid's Egg Art Glass Focal

Here is something I made while messing around on the torch the other day. It's a focal bead in the shape of an egg. It's a type of bead called a "galaxy" bead. I am calling it Druid's Egg, because of the shape and because it has a bit of the magic of the Universe inside it. I may make some other beads to accent it and see how it looks in a necklace soon.

Better pictures of Land and Sea...

I finally got my photo set up back together, and took some better pictures of Land and Sea yesterday.

I'm thinking about replacing the triple oak clusters with something custom made from Art Clay Copper later this year, because while the ones I'm using currently are nice, they don't lay quite like I'd like them to.

Here is a closeup of the focal on Sea:

Sky is still under construction, but I'm hoping to have that finished up soon. I've been hip deep in projects for the past couple of months, so this has had to take a back seat for a bit. But I'm still determined to finish as soon as I can so I can start my Third Degree work.