imelc, one of the major High Days in the Druid calendar, is the Festival of Bride, Brigit, Brid, Dawn Maiden, Patroness of Poets, Bards, and Smiths, Celtic Goddess of the hearth, healing, inspiration, childbirth, cattle, and crops. Oimelc marks the end of the dark days of winter and the beginning of spring. Noticeable is the increasing length of the daylight hours.
Originally a pastoral festival, Oimelc was associated with fertility. The Irish word for Oimelc, Imbolc, is derived from the root word m(b)olg meaning lactation. Oimelc stems from the Old Celtic Ouimelko “ewe’s milk.” This was the time of year in agricultural societies when the ewes were first coming into milk and the beginning of the lambing season. This was important, as milk was the first fresh food since the end of the harvest at Samhain. Sheep and Cattle were valued possessions both in human and underworldly society, and this is especially true of herding societies, such as early Celtic societies. The classical writers such as Pliny and Strabo comment on the use of milk and milk-products in Gaul, Germania, and Britain, showing its importance in those cultures.
That Oimelc is also known as Bride’s Feast Day (La Fheill Brighde in Scotland) shows Bride’s association with the fertility festival. Though little of the goddess Bride is known in detail, many of her associations were carried over into early Christian accounts of the saint. Anne Ross writes In her Everyday Life of the Pagan Celts that in the later Christian tradition, St. Bride's association with sheep and pastoral economy and fertility in general would seem to be carry-overs from her pagan predecessor’s role. In the Life of St. Brighid there are also various pagan attributes. She was said to be fed from the milk of a white red-eared cow, which was her totem animal as a pagan goddess. In Irish mythology white animals with red ears were considered supernatural or otherworldly. She was protectoress of the flocks and harm would come to any that harmed her cattle. She had the power to increase milk production. In artwork, she was often shown to be accompanied by a cow, which Miranda Green writes is a manifestation of her mother Bofhionn, the White Cow who is the goddess of the sacred river Boyne. She is associated with the dandelion, thought it quite possibly could have been coltsfoot, a plant with similar attributes, which flowers closer to Oimelc. It is said that the milky white juice in the stems fed the young lambs.
Bride’s association with the flocks is still evident in modern times. In the Carmina Gadelica, a collection of hymns and incantations by Alexander Carmichael records a charm for stock as recited by Archibald Currie, shoemaker. Charms are a poetic form dating back to Indo-European times used for protection.
All is going well here. The Circle is happily slumbering and the weather is cold. We plan to try out the new, more aerodynamic trays1 on Evans Hill this term. Hopefully we all survive the encounter. I’m looking at a long, hard, but hopefully educational term. And most of us that you know are working on comps2 now. We’ll have to rely on the young druidlings to keep us entertained, I think.
1Mike Scharding, graduate of Carleton College explains: “Carleton's winter tradition is to steal lunch trays and go sledding on the nearby suicidally steep hill; 70 yard drop in 20 yards and a nice flat riding plain of 100 meters. If you ‘pike position’ in the center grabbing the edges you get an extra 30 and glide. They are also excellent squarish enough that you can spin if you keep your weight centered and avoid letting a corner dig in and flip you. I was three-time distance champion from 1990-93, and have the t-shirt to prove it from the nude Winter Olympics of 92!”
2Mike further explains: “Comps are the ‘Senior Year Comprehensive Exercise’ that displays mastery of your major. It consumes about 50% of the time of a Carleton student’s senior year (and sometimes junior year) and is roughly equivalent of a Master’s Degree research paper in complexity, plus a grueling two-hour oral examination by the department. It severely limits the Druidism of most senior Druids at Carleton, leading to many cases of Senioritis burn-out and grove near-collapses.
Many seniors only resurface in late May, after being in an ‘undisclosed safe location’ for several months. History papers tend to be about 50 pages, hundreds of hours of lab work for Bio/Chem students, entire choreographies for dance students, etc. As an example; "A Reformed Druid Anthology" was the result of my research, i.e. ‘General History of Reformed Druidism’ and its supplementary appendixes of primary resource materials. It took 14 redrafts, two years and over a 1,000 hours for me to get a history paper barely acceptable to them. ARDA took another two years to polish up.”
Seattle's Greenwood Grove STILL exists. It has been renamed EMERALD Grove and is now under the leadership of grove ArchDruidess, Priya Kendrick. She can be reached at: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and her current Grove calendar website is http://www.scn.org/~emerald.
Volcano Grove: News from Tonga
I applaud the goal of doing twenty hours of druidic work a week from here on out. I have been considering something similar--starting with a physical tour of the groves beginning sometime next fall. It would be highly educational, not to mention fun, to actually visit all the RDNA and related groves I could find contacts for. I am curious how many different directions folks have taken, how many different responses they have developed to the problems of being a druid...Also, I intend to be traveling within the states for a longish period, visiting all my scattered friends and relatives. How odd is it to come this far around the globe while knowing so little about one’s own country?
Lower Order of Pele
Representatives of the Volcano Grove recently undertook a pilgrimage to the island of Tofua. There they were witness to no fewer than five simultaneous thunderstorms, spied several rare species of birds, bathed in a pool sheltered in the rainforest, and were blessed with the opportunity to behold real live lava. The Archfool himself undertook to climb over the lip of the cinder-cone to get a better look at the fire. (Tied to a firmly anchored rope--he is learning a few things!) Others were then able to scramble up the same rope and hold onto him while gazing a hundred meters straight down to the place where rocks are melted up and born again. Some days later he made a solo trip back up the cone without the rope (Goddess watching is dangerously addictive) and was blessed with a double lung-full of sulfuric acid and a badly lacerated leg while fleeing the cloud of vapors that emerged to punish his precocious-ness.
Bridgit is known in these parts as “Pele.” Tongan being what it is, the word has several other meanings too--Dolphins, card playing, and Spinach-like trees all share the name of the Goddess of Fire. In such a heavily contextual language invocation becomes a dangerous and haphazard art.
If all goes well I should escape in March or April and be home for April or May. I have not seen New York in springtime for seven years. It is about time to get home.
Monument Grove: News from D.C.
Well, D.C. is without snow and mid-30s as of January 10th, which means winter is slow out here. The birds and the squirrels don’t seem to mind since feeding them fistfuls of seeds, although the cherry trees accidentally bloomed last month. Mairi and Sine went on a trip to Alabama (don’t ask me why) for New Year and tramped about in some swampland. I’m currently working with Nozomi on researching Celtic Women and giving her some leads. I’m also researching the attitudes of different religions towards animal sacrifice and/or laboratory testing. The article should be ready by the equinox.
Thoughts About Anarchy
Many religions, when organized to fit one select group’s goals and aspirations, do tend to make it harder for other's to appreciate that religion’s teachings. Groups, by their definition, tend to be excluding as well as including. I think it’s possible to be a dissenter within a group and provide a valuable service, not unlike the fool/trickster in many mythologies.
The RDNA does have a thick anarchistic streak in it, but not as much as the Discordian church or the Church of Bob. We’re more on the disorganized, lazy and incoherent end of the spectrum rather than on bringing down the governments.
Mother Nature, herself, has her rules, with winners and losers; as do most anarchists. She is indifferent to whether the rabbit escapes or the bobcat catches the rabbit. For many, this seems chaotic, not caring if the innocent or the bloodthirsty win, but rather it is neutral. In the biggest sense, Nature tends to lean to the “increasive” side, with life prevailing despite heavy casualties of death. Evil and good only apply to the actions of men outside this system.
Ancient Circle Grove MOCC: News from NY
Here's all the news that fit to print:
Brother Evan Gort received his Naming Rite and also was welcomed into the first circle of study as Druid. He celebrated his Rite of Apprenticeship and received his silver oak tree pendant. It was a very emotional and moving ritual. We celebrated this important step with Br. Evan Gort, offering our support and freely giving him honour and encouragement.
Brother Aiden has taken a sabbatical from the Grove. He remains in our thoughts and prayers and stands firmly amidst us and is never without our support and encouragement. He will be welcomed back enthusiastically when he chooses to return to us. His skills as Grove Bard are sorely missed. Sister Lily Wolf will soon be celebrating a birthday! She holds a place of great honour in our Grove. She is the embodiment of the wisdom of the Crone. She is a unique and insightful member of the Grove, gifted in shamanic technique and drumming.
Ancient Circle has concluded for the year our upkeep of the Old Bramer cemetery in Hebron, New York. We still have a great deal of work awaiting us next year, but we are confident that we will not be defeated by the ever-persistent grapevines. A special thank you goes out to Argyle Central School Sophomore student, Amanda Spear for her assistance in keeping up the cemetery. She was a tireless worker, full of good humor and such a blessing to us!
We also were successful in adopting a needy family for Christmas. The generosity of the Grove members was a great joy! Preparing the box, wrapping the gifts and then shopping for a holiday food basket was a delight to my spirit! The box was delivered on December 20th. Happy Holidays!
Ancient Circle gathered at the home of Sister Lily for our Yule get together. This was a family event. A Yuletide altar was set up and individuals were able to go at their leisure and make their devotions and offerings there. The food was simple but festive, the company delightsome, and there was great happiness and love. Gifts were exchanged in the glow of 27 candles and Sister Lily’s eight-foot tree! It was simply breathtaking! Truly the return of the Sun was not felt more strongly than by those who joined together to share its return and felt its life giving warmth deep in their spirits. What a wonderful time! Many thanks to Sister Lily for her hospitality.
We have heard many good things coming from our sister Grove in Kentucky, called Oaken Circle Grove. I believe that they will soon be posting their activities on this page as well.
Oaken Circle Grove MOCC: News from KY
Sherry in northern Kentucky has started a new grove in November 2001, which is an independent affiliate of the Missionary Order of the Celtic Grove. A web address will be soon listed on the RDNA billboard, but e-mail is at email@example.com
Creeks Called Rivers Grove: News from Ohio
Song writing (or at least melody writing) is something I’ve been kind of toying with. I recently took up Appalachian dulcimer (because any idiot can play one), and have been having a lot of fun with it. I’m even slowly beginning to understand the whole key/notes/octave thing. An engineer by training, though, I’m not sure why things aren’t simply expressed in hertz. My playing with the diatonic fret board has also led me to a bit of blowing on the tin whistle and pan flute. I’m doing all right on the tin whistle, but I'm not ready to do a Waterboys album, or anything. Meanwhile, Zamfir sleeps easy.
Big Ash Grove: News from MichiganThe Fire Ceremony
First you walk through the jungle looking for sticks. Gather as many as possible. When you get back to your village hut begin stacking them in a square (leave out like ten or so for later) so that it looks like a squished box with no top. Remember fire safety rules; like building a pit outside and doing it there, and have a bucket of water ready, just in case. Ok so now you set the pile on fire. Now you have to make friends with the fire; this consists of talking to it, sharing concerns and problems, and also feeding it a few drops of oil. I find patchouli or moldavite oil works good. Now that you have a new best friend you begin taking the other sticks, one by one, and put your problems into the stick. Such as financial problems, love problems, a healing need, a fear, etc. Feed the problems to the fire watching them being transformed
Then take some of the energy out of the fire with your hands...don’t worry it’s a friendly fire. And put the energy into your stomach, heart and brain; so that you make the right actions, have the right emotions and the right mental abilities to take care of the problem. After you’ve done this with all but one of your sticks, place the final stick into the fire with the prayer that the Earth Mother is healed. Don’t take that energy out of the fire, let Momma E take that energy. Let the fire die out, while vigiling and meditating.
Akita Grove: News from Japan
Our winter solstice ritual drama (Sun Goddess in the Cave) went quite well and the guests liked it. I worked on the dance until end and was nervous! The text is on http://www.geocities.com/mikerdna/akitanews.html. We sang by a huge log fire until morning and welcomed the new sun. It was fun.
We plan for a big outdoor festival on Akanidai Mountain with Big Cailleach Search. Peter is in charge because he likes running in woods, being cold and wrestling! The Search text will be in the Oimelc Druid Missal-Any and then everyone in America can prepare for their own fun on Vernal Equinox, but we will do it on Feb 1st. On Feb 2nd, Pat will wear the Demon Mask, and everyone will throw beans at him. He will take bad luck out of the house.
Feb 13th is the fourth anniversary of Beth Harlow’s death. We will have a small rite for her memory. Pat will publish a eulogy next issue.
Brother Eric will visit us in May, from America, so we will have special welcome at Akita Airport. He will bring presents to give to Mike (the post office is expensive). Unfortunately, his room at the shrine is unheated, so he will have to be drunk the whole time to live the visit.
Only 10 weeks left for bardic contest. www.geocities.com/mikerdna/bard.html. Keep writing to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s all. Thank you.
Ice Floe Grove: News from Antarctica
I’m doing fine. I’m wrapping up my research here, and guess what? I am moving to Bolivia in June to join a friend in doing anthropological research in their portion of the Amazon jungle. I’m going to mostly be studying the researchers and seeing how they act as a group in a foreign landscape. The grove here will naturally cease soon, although I’m sure the penguins will continue the faith for many generations to come.
Speaking of beasties, I just heard the Pauxatawny Phil over in Pennsylvania will be receiving an armed guard for the Ground Hog’s Day festival! I guess that's reasonable, considering that 6 more weeks of winter could hurt the U.S. economy. National interest is involved. Uh, huh?
Yours in the Freezer,
Order of the Mithril Star
“Butterflye Grove” is gone. The leader has moved to the Seattle area and the remaining members have gone on a more Wiccan path.
The contact for Cylch Sequoia Sempervirons is now Angie Druid Fulmer, email@example.com
There is an OMS/RDNA protogrove forming in Eugene OR. The contact would be me. We haven't decided on a name as yet.
There is also a protogrove forming in Bremington (sp?) WA. For now the contact is:
In the Mother,
Stephen Druid Gabriel-MacMullen
http://mithrilstar.50megs.comSilent Grove: New Grove!
I guess since this is our first contribution to a “Druid Missal-Any,” a brief introduction of our Grove would be in order. We currently have four members (yes…living, breathing entities). Our focus of course is a lot of things Druidic (and a lot of stuff that isn't) without any real focus on any particular area. We are a rather eclectic group, taking certain aspects from Taoism, Celtic/Scandinavian/Germanic druidism, Native Americana, a general spiritual connection with Nature, and hopefully combining this to create something new and fresh...at least to us. Our focus is mostly on having fun, though seriousness won't escape us either.
Over the past week, our Grove has worked feverishly (gotta keep warm somehow in the winter) designing, developing and publishing our web presence (http://www.silentgrove.org). Glen managed to secure us a domain name and has done most of the work getting the web page up and out there. The rest of us are busy little contributors. We hope to keep the website very active with fresh, new content on our on-line newsletter and events schedule. We’re not going to take ourselves too seriously, so the web page is more of a fun place. If you're looking for serious historical druid stuff...well...that won’t be the place to get it. You can also find a lot of general information about our Grove there.
We are all preparing for Imbolc but haven’t decided where to hold our festivities as yet. It will probably be just the four of us, but nonetheless, it should be fun.
As the year goes forward, we have a lot of ambitious things to do at our Grove. I just hope we haven’t bit off more than we can chew! But the journey will of course be all the fun.
Flatulent Waters Grove: News from NY
This Grove, on the Niagara Falls, has disbanded and gone on to a more natural way of worship; long walks in the woods and casual contemplation by transcendental meditation.
Golden Oak Grove: News from Minnesota
All’s well here, just a bit crazed right now due to the holiday goings on, seems like no matter how well you plan things there will be a multitude of things that just all go wrong and suddenly all well laid plans are thrown into chaos, but that’s life I suppose...
The first thing to hit was the fact that some designer home decorator person of the year has declared that the only twinkle lights to be had for under $8.00 a pop are clear, I looked high and low only to find every style of clear lights imaginable, a few strands of outdoor blue lights, The only indoor ones I could find were red, green, and one strand of frosted gold, other than that it was clear, OiY!!!
Our tree this year is huge and perfect, but it took an entire afternoon to locate all the green and red lights in the Minneapolis St. Paul area and of course that one lone strand of frosted gold...
Not exactly what I had in mind for the tree but it did turn out very pretty--I put the greens inside to make it glow and the reds on the outside--it’s lit and looks gorgeous but it isn’t a bright beaming spectacle either which is good...
I wound the gold lights with the silk oak leaf garland and will light that up Solstice Morning...My tree topper was crushed beyond repair during our move last spring and I couldn’t find anything to replace it that I liked, this year is a horrible year for holiday decorations, I looked again today for something to top the tree with and found the local K-Mart only had red/white/blue and clear stars, “no thanks,” so I think tomorrow I’m going to put my daughters piñata up there, it’s a sunshine so I suppose it’s as appropriate as anything...
It’s better than the other thought I had of dressing one of her baby dolls up as the baby sun god and tying to the top of the tree, hehehe...
I've just got done making cookies and have more to bake in the morning but right now I’ve got some where around 500 mini sugar cookies that need decorating...So far I’ve made candles, trees in two sizes, and stars...I’ve still got Moose, Suns, Holly leaves, Oak Leaves, Acorns, Stockings, and Angels to finish up...I got some new gel-food colors today in blue, purple, deep red, deep orange, black, deep green, so they ought to be very vivid once decorated with the colored frostings...I also got some bronze and gold dust to paint them with. It’s really cool stuff, edible metallic dust, really makes the suns light up!
“Mojo” protogrove gathered at a local theatre to watch Harry Potter for pointers on magical thinking for our Winter Solstice. We later convened at a local (Irish) Pub to compare notes.
Amon Sul Grove
Greetings from Amon Sul Grove,
Amon Sul Grove celebrates Yule as the rebirth of the sun, and as such, the beginning of the new year. While the worst of winter’s weather is still ahead, the lengthening days are our promise that the cycle of seasons will once again be repeated. Yule also basically coincides with the arrival of our seed catalogues. Much of January is spent planning the coming year’s garden. By Oimelc, the cycle of life has already been jump-started by starting some of the earliest seedlings indoors under full spectrum lights. As I write this, we already have tomatoes, pansies, and valerian that are up. The black cohosh and hawthorn are slow, difficult germinators and it is with both anticipation and trepidation that their containers are being watched. This year we are planning a major expansion of our varieties of medicinal herbs. Our winter has been mild, to date, and some of the irises are already beginning to come up.