Sacred Tree Profile: Birch’s Medicine, Magic, Mythology, and Meaning

The Druid's Garden

When I was growing up in the Allegheny mountains of Western PA, and I was still a very small child, my father and I would seek out the sweet birch saplings.  A good sapling was tall and lithe, but bent easily.  Dad would bend a sapling down, and hold me on the end of it, letting me bounce up and down like a ride.  A few days later, when we walked back through those same woods, the sapling was back upright and growing tall.  It was no trouble for a birch to bend to give a small child a ride and then bounce right back up!

When I was 14, the a forest behind my house that I loved dearly was logged.  For many years, my sorrow kept me out of that forest–I didn’t want to see it cut, I didn’t want to see my many tree friends gone.  And…

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Wildcrafted Yule Tree Ornaments – Painted Wood, Wreaths, Awens, and Pentacles

The Druid's Garden

As the Winter Solstice is coming up quickly and the tree just went up this past week, I’ve been busy in my art studio and out on the land looking for great things to add to the Yule tree.  As a druid who is deeply concerned about the amount of plastic and “throw away‘ quick purchase items, like cheap plastic ornaments, I didn’t want to buy any ornaments for the tree, but rather, to make them from wildcrafted materials. So today, I wanted to share two simple ways to make nice ornaments for a Yule tree from natural materials and simple tools.

Handmade Stag and Pentacle Tree Topper with Handmade Ornaments Handmade Stag and Pentacle Tree Topper with Handmade Ornaments

Painted or Burned Wooden Round Ornaments

One simple method for creating ornaments is a painted or woodburned wood rounds. These are simple slices of wood that you can decorate in a variety of ways–painting them, burning…

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Marzanna – Goddess of Winter

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By Phoenix of Elder Mountain – Its that time of year again to honor the Goddess of Winter Marzanna, an archaic night goddess, a primal connection to woman and her shamanistic and animistic mysteries of the past, present and future. These pre-religious rites are still done in very simple ways today and I hope you join us again this year in making her. Marzanna is a night goddess in her origins and is a sacred mystery. 

Marzanna is one such seasonal lunar goddess who represents the Winter time of year and are based on a goddess who represents mother earth. I moved away from the simplicity of the traditional Polish Marzanna ritual in Slavic paganism because it is too simple for such a powerful and prehistory goddess and because these rituals do not honor Winter or Winter Moons as a Winter Goddess. These pagan rituals only glorify Spring and leave out…

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The Spiritual Realms of Water

Elder Mountain Dreaming @ gmail

The area of Pomerania, the north-western part of modern Poland, is symbolically surrounded by three major rivers: the Vistula from the east, the Oder from the west, the and Noteć from the south. The northern barrier of this post-glacial area is the southern coast of Baltic Sea. One of the dominant features of this type of landscape is numerous, relatively small lakes and a predominantly longitudinally-oriented network of rivers. As drinking water reserves, as well as habitats of species utilized by the early medieval economy, they must have played an important role in the cultural landscape and religious ideas.

In the following article, we intend to take a closer look at the significance of water in pre-Christian Pomeranian beliefs of the early medieval period, i.e. from the arrival of the Slavs to the region (ca. 6th–7th century ce) to the mid-13th century (which conventionally mark the end of the early Middle Ages…

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The Goal of Spiritism

Mountain Man Traditional Healing

What’s the goal of Spiritism as a philosophy? It might be an odd question, but it was certainly one on the minds of the early Spiritists like Allan Kardec. As a both a philosophical movement and “science” (as the early members would come to call it) Spiritism sought to ultimately prove the existence of an afterlife to those who might not believe, or redefine the definition of the afterlife for those still held in the grip of overbearing religious traditions. Most of these proofs came in the form of seances where mediums would channel certain spirits in order for the assembled group to gain some sort of new knowledge from the session. Much of this knowledge consisted of details and assurances about the afterlife, the role of spirits, the purpose of life, etc. Occasionally, as with the many channeled passages found in Kardec’s works, these spirits might also provide essential…

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Spiritism vs Spiritualism

Mountain Man Traditional Healing

One of the first things that always comes up when I start talking about Spiritism is the question, “Is that the same thing as Spiritualism?” A lot of folks have heard about the latter, mostly through media portrayals of spirit mediums, and possibly the stories connected to greats like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini, both of whom had extensive interaction with Spiritualist mediums. But not a lot of people have ever come into contact with Spiritism, unless of course you are from esoteric communities in South America, which has held the largest population of Spiritists since the birth of the movement in the latter part of the 19th century. In that case you’ve probably heard of Espiritismo, which will be talked about in greater detail in a later post as it has taken on some other, more unique forms. For now, I’d like to talk about some…

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Weather Prognostication and the Wooly Bear Caterpillar

The Druid's Garden

In the last week, I’ve seen almost 50 wooly bear caterpillars. These caterpillars are also known as “wooly caterpillar”, “bear caterpillar” and “wooly worms” (latin: phyrrhartica isabella). These fuzzy, brown and black caterpillars come out just as the weather grows cold. I often find hidding in woodpiles or garden mulch getting ready to hibernate till the spring. The cold seems to summon them forth–you see nothing of them all summer, and then, a few weeks before Samhain they are everywhere. And, dear readers, they are here with a message.

These caterpillars, not unlike other famous wildlife in the area, have long been known to predict the harshness of winter. If a wooly bear caterpillar has more brown than black, that means the winter is mild. But, if the caterpillar has more black than brown, the winter will be tough. Here’s a graphic I made to share this wooly bear caterpillar…

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Acorn Folklore

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By Phoenix of Elder Mountain – This Autumn we have had an abundant of Acorns in the Pacific Northwest and in folklore, it means that we are going to have a mighty winter. The Sacred Oak Trees all grow from these little tiny acorns, which the squirrel is the one who graciously plants them in the ground everywhere. I gathered some Autumn articles of Acorns myths and mystery. Enjoy!

Acorn Folk Legends
The Celts, Romans, Greeks and Teutonic tribes all had legends connected to the mighty oak tree. Typically, the oak was related to deities that had control over thunder, lightning, and storms. In Norse legend, Thor found shelter from a storm by sitting under a mighty oak tree.

Today, people in some Nordic countries believe that Acorns on the windowsills will protect a house from being hit by lightning. In parts of Great Britain, young ladies followed a custom of…

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What can Druidry offer in dark times?

The Druid's Garden

Things seem broken right now. These last two weeks have been a very hard week for many people. The national conversation here in the USA grows more difficult by the day, and it seems nearly every nation is facing many kinds of serious issues. These challenges are happening concurrently at many levels—internationally, but also in communities we care about, in our families, in our homes. Things are tough. They seem tougher for many of us today than they were yesterday. Many of us fear that they will likely be even tougher tomorrow. This is the reality of industrial decline, the reality of the climate crisis before us.

The questions that I’ve had for myself, and my fellow druids is a simple one: what can druidry offer us in these dark times?

I’ve been thinking about the role of druidry in all of this, this question a lot, not only over…

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Sacred Tree Profile: Apple’s Medicine, Magic, Mythology, and Meanings

The Druid's Garden

“Nothing gives more yet asks for less in return, than a tree: particularly, the apple” –Johnny Appleseed

“As the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my loved one among the sons. I took my rest under his shade with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.” – The Song of Solomon

Spirit of the Apple - from the Plant Spirit Oracle (www.plantspiritoracle.com) Spirit of the Apple – from the Plant Spirit Oracle (www.plantspiritoracle.com)

All summer long, we have had so much rain and thunderstorms.  Penn Run, a small creek behind my home, once again overflowed, raising several feet for a time.  When the waters had subsided, I was delighted to find delicious wild apples lining the banks–the river had carried them to me as a blessing for this wonderful Fall Equinox!  It reminded me that I have been wanting to write of the apple–of her magic, of her folklore, and of her abundance=. And so…

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