13th Moon of Completion

Last Friday was the new moon – the Elder Moon – according to the ancient Celtic Tree Calendar.  This is the 13th moon of the year and it is traditionally the time to say ‘thank you’ and give back to the Earth.  It is also the time of completion and ‘letting go.’ 
The Elder tree is one of the most useful for ailments contracted at this time of year.  No doubt, this would have something to do with why ancient peoples named this month after the tree.  Its black berries can be boiled to make a syrup which is a powerful remedy against respiratory congestion and coughs.  Raw, these same berries are poisonous and, in ancient times, they might have been fed to an ‘elder’ human to speed up a slow and painful death.  The Elder tree in my garden has contributed some of its flowers on several occasions so that I might make a tea, rich in Vitamin C, which has helped alleviate attacks of hay fever. 

The ancient Celtic calendar can be confusing by our current standards, but at the same time, it makes perfect sense.  Samhain (November 1st) is the Celtic New Year, and, as the druids believed that death was the beginning of a new life cycle (after all, you must die before you can be reborn), so is November/December the death of the year and the beginning of a new cycle.  Seeds sleep beneath the earth, waiting to be reawakened. 
In Ireland, the Elder tree is sometimes called ‘The Old Woman’ and it should always be treated with respect.  There are quite a few stories and legends about people who cut elder trees without asking permission, and they paid the ultimate price.  The tree rejuvenates itself from shoots that grow vigorously from its base.  In this way, it has come to symbolise life itself, by appearing immortal. 
This moon’s lesson is one of patience, seeing tasks through to completion, tying up loose ends, and fulfilling pledges.  For those of us who have been Nano-ing all month, now through the new moon at the end of December, is the perfect time to complete our projects.  Indeed, for anyone who has anything significant to complete, now is the time to do it!  The Earth, the stars, the very juncture of the seasons, are all with us, supporting us on our journey to its end . . . and beyond. 

Until next week, 
Deep Peace of the Sacred Grove to You.


Say what you will about our ravaged economy, any country who elects a poet for president can’t be all bad. 

While more than a few U.S. Presidents have written books, they all did so after being elected.  Michael D. Higgins, the newly elected president of Ireland, has published several books (of poetry), and gifted me with copies, long before he was elected. 

Political parties aside, there is a feeling of long-term solidarity in this latest choice made by the people of this old island.  If we were still living in a druid society (and some of us are!), it would be only natural for a filí to be considered a lawgiver/poet/magician.  Filí was the ancient class of druid poets and they were the most revered class, for they could work magic with their words.  Primarily, they held the knowledge of the complete history of their tribe and, in many cases, the history of Ireland in general.  As knowledge was considered sacred, nothing was written down.  EVERYTHING had to be held in the head, meaning that a poet memorised vast amounts of information and recited it whenever the occasion arose.  Naturally, if you have a lot of facts to memorise, it’s easier if you can make a rhyme out of it! 

More so than any other culture or society in the history of the world, ancient Ireland accorded poets the most supreme rank available.  Poets paid no taxes and were exempt from military service. They had a freedom of movement to cross political borders denied even kings, and wherever they travelled they were entitled to the best lodging.  

Aras an Uachtaráin, Irish President’s Residence

In the filí tradition, poetry, music (harp playing), mnemonics, improvisation, quick wit, creative hyperbole and clever kenning were necessary attributes.  All things a modern politician might require.  Above all, though, was the great importance the ancient culture placed on a filí’s ability to pass on stories and accurate information to the next generations, without changing facts.  Now, THAT is a talent all politicians could acquire.  


Today’s post comes from a special guest, Theresa Jensen.  I met Theresa in 2004, at a faerie workshop in a beautiful redwood forest near Ben Lomond, California.  She’s one of those quiet, centred people who’s inner peacefulness is inspiring to those around her.  She’s been a practicing Druid for nine years and is a member of the Diore Brighid Seed Group near Oakland, California.  She’s also a member of OBOD and the British Druid Order.  She’s been married for 38 years and has 4 children and 8 grandchildren.  And if that’s not enough, her hobbies are making stained glass, music and, of course, reading! 

Recently, I listened to a lecture on Plato, where it was discussed that Plato introduced the term “psyche” which means “soul.”  Plato said that the human soul is separate from the body and that the soul would prefer not to be bound to it.  

I totally get that. 

I found Plato’s concept of the soul interesting for a couple of reasons. 

Everything alive has a soul.  In my mind, it follows that trees, grass, cows, chickens, anything that is alive is inhabited by a psyche, or soul.  Of course, Plato was not concerned with non-human issues that I know of.   I’m sure that somewhere during Plato’s time on Mother Earth there were Druid-like persons – Ageless Druids – that were very much concerned with, and communed with, non-human souls.  

As modern Druids, we strive for Awen, that state of being that causes our soul to achieve its fullest, happiest form.  Our aim is to honor the living beings inhabiting Mother Earth along side us.  In doing this, we are unconsciously striving to bring happiness to them.  How much better can that be?

I’m not into philosophy, but this little bit of information validated my chosen path - Druidry, or if you prefer, Druidcraft.

Why am I a Druid?

I feel the wind as it blows across my face.  The air caresses me like a gentle lover.  I am inspired to be giving and creative.  I honor the Air.  

As I shower, the water cleanses me, encompassing me with warm emotion and gratitude for its life-giving sustenance.  I honor the Water.

I face the warmth of the sun, pure energy warming me.  Cooking on a fire, appreciating that without flame many trees would die, many people would freeze.  Fire is indeed life-giving.  I honor the Fire.

Walking barefoot in the dirt, I imagine myself attached like a root, feeling the earth's energy feel me.  All things come from our mother, without exception.  I honor the Earth.

Druidry is something that defines me. 

A few years ago, my granddaughter asked me what was the point of believing as I do.  The answer - I would be lying to myself if I denied it.  I have to be a part of the ritual - that exercise that allows us to officially recognize our mother, to honor her through the various gods and goddesses that are a part of her.

It's not always easy, but it’s worth it.  When life gets in the way, and you're loaded with the daily drama of making it in the world, it's convenient to ignore the care and feeding of your soul.  On the other hand, when I meet with my seed group – my druid family – I feel amazingly better, more energized. 

So what’s the bottom line?  Attending the lecture about Plato opened up a new channel of thinking and considering for me.  You might even say, it brought a new muse into my life.