"Why you are laughing?" She asked through the rock door of refuge.
“The most beautiful Goddess has appeared. She is a most skillful dancer!” One of the Gods responded.
Hearing this, Amaterasu, who was a proud Goddess and said, “This is a performance I must, by all means, see.” And opened the door just a crack. The God conversing with Amaterasu then took out a mirror and placed it in front of her.
Amaterasu saw her face in the mirror and exclaimed, “My! What a beautiful Goddess!”
Wondered by her own beauty, she open the door wider to see better. A strong God, named Amenotadikarao, didn't miss that chance. He grabbed the slit, and pulled it wide open. Still bedazzled by her reflection, she heard the cock’s crow, and was thus drawn out from the cave. The Kami (Gods) then quickly threw a shimenawa, or sacred rope of rice straw, before the entrance of the cave (now in Kyushu Island) to prevent her return to hiding. No choice, the sun Goddess Amaterasu returned to the world. After that, Susanoo behaved better, well, most of the time.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ******
Amaterasu’s chief place of worship is the Grand Shrine of Ise, the foremost Shinto shrine in Japan. She is manifested there in a mirror that is one of the three Imperial Treasures of Japan (the other two being a jeweled necklace and a sword.) The genders of Amaterasu and her brother the moon God Tsukiyomi no Mikato are remarkable exceptions in worldwide mythology of the sun and the moon.
Amenouzume is happy and sexy dancing God whose dance make spectators dazzled or entertained or raises spirits. Much of her followers are strippers, comedians, sandwich men and such artists and entertainers. Her lesson is that even in the most dire times, there is a place and role for joy, hope, love and entertainment.
Solstice Drama Part Two:
Props and Staging
It will follow almost the same process and language (with improvisation) as the story.
Mayumi will play the role of Amaterasu, the Sun. Nozomi will play the role of Amenouzume, the Dancer. Pat will play the role of Susanoo and Amenotadikarao (bad boy and strong guy.) Little Naomi will be the impish winter sprite, armed with snowballs.
Other grove members and guests will play the audience of the Gods (about five people,) maybe even Father will attend.
We’ll hold it near the Shrine in a small open area on the Emperor’s birthday (Dec 23rd) which is appropriate and a holiday. We’ll make a mini rice field, set aside a square area for the sun’s house, some hand-made straw ropes, and a little dance stage, stage decorations, plus put together a horse puppet (later used for piñata,) collect some mirrors, kids jewelry, and some tiaras. Caves are hard to find in Akita, so we’ll make a stout wicker hut (bigger than a sweat lodge) and roll a rock in front of it. We’ll use tiki-torches for dramatic lighting in the evening and set up a portable searchlight in the cave, for her dramatic exit. Nozomi has begun practicing her dance, which is going to be quite the eye-opener for such a shy one! Perhaps Susanoo and Amaterasu will have more children?!
Some Optional Things for Oimelc
By Alex Strongbow, ex-Carleton
A Druid Missal-Any, Oimelc 2002
Well, here’s my list of things to do for Oimelc, Imbolg, Candlemas, Ostara, or whatever you wish to call it. It’s a multi-faceted festival reflecting Bridget’s diverse talents. If you were to combine them all you’d be “writing poems by candlelight about flaming metallic sheep.” Sounds strange, but where do you think “steel wool” is from? Do not put it in the microwave, though, unless you want to see visions of Pikachu!
Banana-Split candles (Cherry, banana, pineapple ring; possible imagery…)
Make decorated candlestick holders.
Try to Predict (e.g. candle divining) whether winter will end soon and what day the last snow will be gone in the grove or some other spot.
Start planting seeds in little pots.
Get a candle-making kit at an art store.
Spring Cleaning Party
Make homemade butter or ice-cream (try goat’s milk)
Fireworks ( if legal, secretly if illegal…)
Make a contest to find first flowers or awakened hibernators
http://www.partytown.com/menus/imbolc.htm for a meal
http://www.education-world.com/a_lesson/lesson048.shtml about Groundhog Day
http://orderofthecauldron.homestead.com/cadlemas.html nice discussion on Candlemas
http://www.ghostdragon.net/sabbats/imbolcactivities.html more activities.
http://members.tripod.com/acorns3/archives.html pagan kids activities back issues (look also under Ostara)
Goat’s Milk Ice Cream
A Druid Missal-Any, Oimelc 2001
By Stacey Weinberger
Back by popular demand! This was a hit at last year’s Oimelc social. Now you too can make Goat’s Milk Ice Cream as a fun and tasty way to celebrate the festival of the lactation of the ewe!
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups very hot goat’s or sheep’s milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 pint heavy cream
Mix the sugar, salt, and egg yolks together in a heavy-bottomed pan. Slowly stir in the hot goat’s or sheep’s milk. Cook, continuing to stir, until slightly thickened; remove and cool. Add the cream and the vanilla extract. Chill. Freeze in a hand-cranked or electric ice cream freezer.
Things to Do for Spring Equinox
By Alex Strongbow
A Druid Missal-Any, Spring Equinox 2002
Well, that’s a really hard question. We know that most sowing in the fields would be done by now and it was time to change to spring clothes and spend more time outdoors. When it comes down to, we’re talking about eggs and sunlight, right?
Break down, and enjoy the Easter egg decoration party. Especially the Ukrainian style wax and decoration. If you’re an overachiever, go into Faberge.
Have half an omelet, sunny side up, of course.
Hide treasures in the forest or park. Tall grasses equals stepped-on eggs.
Be early for April Fool’s day.
Go out to the pub for Saint Patrick’s day and live it up.
Spend the whole day with a watch and see if day REALLY equals night.
Set up and synchronize your solar-calendar (that rock-henge in your back yard. A great site, for setting up your stones in a parking lot or a field is www.efn.org/~jack_v/AstronomicalCalendar.html Strangely, the design looks like a basketball courts lines! Could there be a connection?!
Get your garden planted, if you haven’t started. Try old-fashioned “heirloom seeds” at www.seedsavers.org or Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) at 3076 North Winn Road, Decorah Iowa 52101 at 319-382-5990.
Make waffles. Write “Clinton” with maple syrup. Hee. Hee. Enjoy taking half-way opinions on important subjects and carefully study both sides of issues.
Change your wardrobe to summer-style suits, sandals and wear a flower. I’ve been thinking. Many religions have strange headgear or hair-styles, and we haven’t since that weird “bald-forehead” style in the 450s AD, so let’s go out for straw hats?!
Ten Things to Do for Beltane
By Alex Strongbow
A Druid Missal-Any, Beltane 2002
Sex. Of course!
Wake up early, greet the sun, wash your face in the morning dew. Collect flowers and make garlands for those you care about.
An Oak King can be selected by various athletic competitions such as: races, wrestling, archery, stone tossing, sit-ups in one minute, fire kindling contest (first to boil cup of water,) greased pole climbing, rodeo riding, or a combination of foolish macho things.
A maypole dance for the women (men too if not enough people.) Last woman holding the ribbon will become the May Queen The May Queen and Oak King should symbolically (or actually) consummate their “marriage” in a symbolic gesture. http://altreligion.about.com/library/howto/htmaypole.htm
Picnic, leaving a symbolic offering of one piece of everything. Possibly foods are oatmeal, diary, berries, greens, wine, barley, honey, eggs, sweets. http://ww.keirle.freeserve.co.uk/page18.htm
Drama or play of Persephone returning from the underworld or a story of a woman returning from the fairy lands. Divination is a possibility.
Enjoy the Waters of Life (i.e. whiskey.) If you’re solitary, do some self-nurturing type of activity, like a walk in the woods of a state park and camp out or vigil.
Raise stones. Its always a good time to bring the community together to haul rocks around and make a memorial of some type to the event. I recommend using car hoods from a junk yard, long levers, and 15 ropes and a pulley.
Build a Bonfire.
This might be hard for those of you in fire-prone areas like California, but a cauldron fire might be possible, or just use a barbeque/hibachi for the job. Some of you are girl-scouts, but here’s some advice for the rest of you.
Apparently, the traditional wood to burn is oak, ash, thorn, rowan, apple, birch, alder, maple, elm, gorse, holly, hawthorn, and others from a story about the Battle of the Trees. I’d add a piece from any other tree in your forest. Collecting the woods and maypole would be a nice combination activity, and give time for certain members to “dally.”
Be sure to remove all the dry materials in the vicinity and dampen the area. Now you can just pile a lot of logs if you’d like, or you can stack them. A pyramid shape or steppe shape is considered ideal, as boxy shapes tend to fall to the side rather than collapse inward (1999 Texas A&M disaster, anyone?) I recommend that you don’t get too close to the fire, just in case a log rolls out. Leave spaces between the logs to allow air to circulate. Old Christmas trees make great center pieces (whooom!.) Put the kindling and ever large pieces in the center.
There are many ways to make the initial flame. Magnifying glass, parabolic mirror, iron and flint, rubbing two sticks (use a bow to spin faster,) magma, lightning, natural forest fires, and matches. As always, the key is to start small with shaved wood, dried grass, lint, cotton (yes, toilet paper is good) and add that to small sticks than keep adding bigger stick until the logs reach the magic temperature of 451F. If all else fails, CAREFULLY throw a cup of gasoline onto it.
Dance around it, watch it, talk to your friends. Throw negativity away into the fire. Or send up prayers with the fire. Young couples may wish to jump over the fire together after it burns down.
As always, stay with the fire until you are able to handle all the ashes with your bare hand. If you can, you take a candle home and relight your furnace, like the ancient Celts did.
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/6992/bonfires.html Or you can do something no one else has thought that you really like! See these sites for ideas:
http://www.circlesanctuary.org/pholidays/Beltane.html Good customs.
http://www.witchvox.com/holidays/beltaine/beltainehistory.html A lot of info.
www.cyberwitch.com/wychwood/Temple/beltane.htm Good history
Summer Solstice Activities
By Alex Strongbow, ex-Carleton Grove
A Druid Missal-Any, Summer Solstice 2002
It is not a major holiday, but here are some activities to surround the holiday.
Short and simple, the list looks like this:
Picnics, beach parties, and fireworks
Bonfire (It’s always a good time)
Fire-Fly searching, bug collecting (and release?)
College or family reunions
Charging magical tools
Hardest work on a long-term project or making a journey
Eating a super-big sundae
Hauling rocks and attuning your megalithic calendar
Baseball, soccer, hurley, outdoor games.
Searching for St. John’s Wort
Backyard volcano building (see familyeducation.com site)
Some Possible Lughnasadh Activities
By Alex Strongbow, a Druid Lost in the Woods
A Druid Missal-Any, Lughnasadh 2002
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.
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.
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.
Some Optional Activities
for Fall Equinox
By Alex Strongbow, a Druid Lost in the Woods
A Druid Missal-Any, Fall Equinox 2002
Fall Equinox is the opposite twin of Spring Equinox, only that life is now giving fruit and dying at this point in the year’s cycles, sometimes known as Michaelmas in the Catholic calendar; when contracts and rents were collected (as at Easter.) What harvesting began in Lughnasadh should be about finished by the Equinox. In times past, autumn was a dreaded season, as people scrambled to prepare food for the long, deadly winter. Only in recent centuries, with assured food supplies, have we begun to romanticize the season. For modern society it is a time for starting school and the end of summer vacations.
It’s possibly the last chance to have the types of fun summer outdoor group activities that characterize Beltane, Mid-summer and Lughnasadh. So it offers an opportunity to repeat previous ones, or try out one that you didn't have time for.
A picnic is definitely in order or participation in final harvesting. Traditional choices would be grapes, acorns, wheat bread, goat, Indian corn, horn of plenty, cornbread, corn, root crops (i.e. onions, carrots, potatoes, etc.,) pomegranates, nuts, goose, mutton, dried fruits, apples, beans, and squash.
Prayers towards protection, balance, and success in life are auspicious.
Building a doll of grains to be burnt in the spring or fed to animals.
Sitting under trees with nets to catch falling nuts and leaves, perhaps saving a leaf from each year in a collection. The rest should be made into a leaf pile for the kids.
The changing leaves can also be dipped in paraffin and put on wax paper. After the leaves dry, they may be placed around the house or in large jars with sigils of protection and/or abundance
Take notes on which trees turn color first, which fall soonest, and into which colors.
Follow the migration of birds.
String nuts into a necklace.
Plan a trip to see the fall colors in the mountains.
Do the Halloween farm-visit early and beat the crowds.
Make a grapevine wreath for the door.
Deer season opens. Contemplate it and find some deer. Vegetarians can protest the sporting elements of it.
A good time to give to local charities to feed the poor.
When do certain animals begin to disappear?
Bake bread from scratch (i.e. grind the grains into flour.)
Note the date of the first frost and its effects on plant life.
Put up storm windows, check insulation and pack away the air conditioner.
Start notice the location and time of sunrise, noon and sunset and continue through winter.
Plant acorns and other nuts and wait for spring growth.
Fertility Cycle of the Druid Year
By Nozomi Kibou
Archdruidess of Akita Grove
A Druid Missal-Any, Oimelc 2002
I apologize for the poor quality of this essay, but I hope you like it. You know, my father’s grove is a fertility shrine (people, plants, animals too) so it is important subject for me. I have thought on Paganism and big four holidays and I think they are fertility holidays. Here are the reasons.
Beltane: It is warm. Young people date and have sex (Pat says “It’s a festival of muddy knees and grass-stained dresses.”) Planting season. Lughnasadh: We know if we have a baby. People marry. Family starts. Samhain: Baby gets big. Spirits move in baby. Baby kicks. Hard to work in fields, but okay, that work is done, we can relax, start new plans of life. Oimelc: Baby is born. Sheep are born. Not much food, which is hard for mothers. Use sheep milk for babies? By equinox, can work in fields again. Grow baby plants! Beltane: Ready again for more babies? Maybe wait one more year, no?
Sister Tegwedd says we don’t need more babies now, “Zero Growth Population,” so instead we are mind-creative. Yes, but there is no cycle for that. Most Japanese babies are also born in spring around Feb 1st. April’s when school and government and business start a new year in Japan. Very convenient. Birth time of the year, April is. Old Europe started the New Year around Easter, but then changed to Roman Julian calendar. But now most people are not farmers in Wales or Ireland now, so the baby-schedule doesn’t work well. Probably more babies in late summer with constant year-round food, long winters, and Fall school starts.
In modern Ireland there are good luck rules for the wedding, which was often before baby-making. A good wedding will help fertility. See http://www.ireland-information.com/irishweddingtraditions.htm for many fertility rites of “The Traditional Irish Wedding” by Brian Haggerty.
Old Ireland has no records of “before-birth” advice for women. There were warnings in 11th century that women should have purity of heart and mind and not “heat the womb” during sex; but church didn’t like recreational sex back then. Saints took over from Druids in blessing women with fertility, in many unusual ways, including potions. Some babies were born from swallowing live bugs, worms or fish, unusual water plants, sex with giant otters or bird-monsters or night-dreams. There was mystery in how it happened. The best modern advice for all (including men) is to exercise and eat only health food for six months before starting baby/getting married. No drugs, tobacco, alcohol, fatty foods, chocolates, coffee, allergenic foods, meat, gambling and horse racing, avoid rabbits, and corpses. Choose foods with special traits to direct babies personality. In Japan, we were special belly-belt to keep belly warm. Stay that way until milking is done. Of course this is not easy.
Once with baby, a blessing from priest and soon grandparents is good. Some make a special bow/knot for the house. When birth comes, untie it and open all windows, doors, cabinets, knots in house and clothes. The baby comes quicker this way. Sometimes a special bird or animal will visit the house during pregnancy, give it honor, and a name to baby. Going to a forge and pushing the bellows would help the birthing later and make a strong baby. But the most important thing is of course strong love from both parents, no fighting and excitement in the house, peace and tranquility. With this, baby will grow well. If the baby did not go well, abortion by potion and self-abuse was also known. There is evidence of infanticide, too. Unfortunately, modern Ireland has worst rate for “caesarian” births (near 25% for first time,) a weak midwife system, and no birth-centers as yet. Yet, this is because of the modern medical monopoly. In the past midwifes were common. This describes a 19th century Co. Mayo birth:
"After she went into labour, the woman was transferred from her usual bed, which was in the kitchen by the fire, to the floor, which was covered with straw. She put on her husband’s jacket, an outsize flannel garment with sleeves, made of homespun wool, or bainin. As the great event drew near, the husband stood at his wife’s back, and placed his hands on her shoulders while she was in a kneeling position on the floor. With words of faith, hope, and encouragement, he supported her morally and physically in her trial, while the midwife got on with the great task of bringing a new human life into the world.”
Celtic sources have much more on the raising of children after birth than before birth. The most important fear was ban-sid (faery women) stealing the children and leaving a “changeling,” an old faery who never got bigger and shrank. Sometimes the mother would be took and go to fairy hill to raise fairy-babies. This may have been due to emotional stress and mother running away or hurting the child (like that Texas case) in tight society with small support for mother’s need. In famous case of Ard Macha, treating pregnant wife rude like the animal (making her race the horses) caused a weak-body curse on all men of North Ireland for many generations. The point is, let pregnant women do what they want!