Monday, June 23, 2014

A look at this thing people call Druidry.

I think preserving a culture, defending it, and not allowing it to be polluted by romantic or foreign otherwise fantasy is a just and noble cause. I see all faiths as being beautiful paths up the same mountain, or colors of the rainbow. It is a very difficult position, because many so called fundamentalists are not tolerant. They are self serving, close minded, and unwelcoming to goodness and divinity in any universal sense. Which at the very core or roots of all faiths share an unspoken unity and an agreed principle. 

     I often times have had it with the vast majority to Neo Druids and their wishy washy hippy attitude, they have no respect for culture or tradition. Yet they are the first to rip off, or steal from the traditionalist to try and use something ancient to fit their needs. I ask where would their tradition be without its roots, roots that many of us are still keeping alive without foreign influence. They invent things, and give it gaelic names to make it seem like they are something else, and for the most part they are pretending to be something they are not educated in.

     What these Neo-Druids do is no more connected to the practices of Wiccans with their Eastern mysticism, Judeo-Christian-derived symbology, ripped-off Masonic-based rituals (courtesy of Gardner), Thelemic ideology, etc. None of which is Celtic in the least, despite the trappings and poorly-pronounced and vastly misunderstood nomenclature they apply. They can claim whatever they want, they have a right to speak as much as I do, but I reserve the right to dismiss them as fools. The Draoithe are a part of a larger overall culture, not alone, solitary wizards running around playing "Celtic High Priest" at Neolithic stone circles with empty trappings derived in the 18th century. It does not earn them any respect from the real tradition-bearers.

     There are very clear-cut elements that define traditional Gaelic (and, to a lesser extent, other Celtic) culture(s)- a social structure defined by the Féinechais (Laws of the Freemen, aka Brehon Law) that have been the core of our cultural structure since time immemorial, the existence of the various loose castes- féine (freemen), laochra (warriors), aos dana (poets, seers, draoithe, craftsmen, etc.) and the ríochais (airí, or lords, and the chieftains and/or kings). Religiously, there is also a great deal of pre-existing core defining elements- veneration of the Gods, namely the Túatha de Dannan for the Gaelic tribes, the Ancestors, the triune realms of Sea, Land, and Sky (represented within Gaelic faiths as Tír Tairngire, Mide, and Tír na nÓg respectively), the veneration of spirits, the personal responsibility of the individual to maintain their relationship with the Gods and Ancestors, etc. 

     From an outside perspective it may all be a big mish-mash, but the differences are less like those between Judaism and Christianity, and more like the differences between Christianity and Vedic-influenced Hinduism. In other words, VASTLY different, so much as to be incompatible.

     A tradition and culture exist because of things that define them. Those from outside of a culture or tradition that wish to embrace a free-form way of life are welcome to do so, but when they threaten the existence of my culture and way of life by trying to corrupt it, then I have a SERIOUS problem. If one wishes to hold to a self-indulgent do-what-thou-wilt way of life, feel free, just don't call yourself something you are not.  

     If people try and pervert our way of life by trying to promote their Neo-Druidic faith as something Gaelic or Celtic, and then they are crossing the line into corrupting what I and our people hold dear. I will not only have a problem with that, I will fight to my last breath to protect our way of life. If they don't agree with it, they can go found their own organization and call it something modern without the trappings of our cultural labels; stop pissing in our well. These are the issues I have with many--- but not all.

     (Rhetorically) Do you present what you believe and practice a traditional Gaelic or Celtic culture and faith, ie The Way of "druidism", etc.? If not, then you're not guilty of what many of the neo-druid groups are. If you are, then we have a problem. It would be as if someone living a communist lifestyle claimed they were democratic, apples and oranges. ALL Celtic cultures- and the faiths that are an intrinsic part of them- are focused on the túath, the tribal body, and the extended family clan. Even solitary folks of our faiths and culture still recognize this to be a truth. Far too many folks out there have presented wholly non-Celtic agenda-laden socio-political drivel wrapped in Celtic terminology and claimed it to be the traditional Celtic faith, eschewing the very things that are the centerpoint of traditional Celtic cultures- honouring the tribe, the Gods, the Ancestors, and holding to the customs and laws of our people, albeit with a good foundation in the living native languages of our people.  

     Cultural theft is still theft, as any Amerindian who has had to deal with plastic shaman can tell you. If you aren't following the culture, but pray to the Gods, and call it your own personal practice, that's fine, again it's a different matter. As for how it affects me personally, it erodes all that I hold dear, causes confusion and misinformation to be spread out there that has created biases and prejudices that I have had to personally fight against (namely people associating things- Celtic with hippies, new-age mysticism, self-aggrandizing and self-indulgent behaviour, a lack of a moral compass, complete lack of personal integrity, etc. due to ten frillion neopagan Wiccan-types out there who want to glom onto to the name, but don't have the drive, ambition, dedication or work ethic to actually become what they claim to be), and I find it offensive in the extreme. This whole new-age mentality of "I can do what I want, and call it whatever I want, and you can't say a damned thing about it" is, pardon my language, bullshit. I CAN and WILL say something about it, and I will educate as many people as I can to the fallacy that has been spread, to shine the light of truth on the lies spread by unscrupulous cult-leaders and authors, and do my best to smack an apathetic Gaelic populace awake to what is being done- both within the Homelands and without- to our culture. I am a Sinsearaí, I honour the Túatha de Dannan and my Ancestors, I honour my family and clan, I honour the ways of our people, and I will be dead before I back down from that.

     Also to add to that- this is not a game. This is not some book or social club. This is our CULTURE, this is our FAITH, the very things we have fought to reclaim from the dustbin of history where empires and usurping foreign faiths have tried to put it, to the deaths of millions. The English under Cromwell annihalated two thirds of our entire PEOPLE, not to mention how many millions more died in the starvation of the many famines Ireland endured under foreign occupation. It was during that time that the last vestiges of our native culture, language, customs, etc. were stamped out, forced into obscurity in the most rural parts of Ireland or carried abroad by those sold into slavery or who managed to flee. 

     Christianity is a foreign faith that pushed women back from the near-equal status they had enjoyed- at a time when the so-called "civilized" societies treated them like chattel- to become near-property, stripping them of their right to rule, to lead, to fight, to stand before the túath as bandraoi or ríghan. It took power from our people and put it in the hands of priests, took the chieftains and kings who were chosen by the people and relegated them to seconds-in-command to an unelected clergy of a foreign faith with foreign ideologies and ethics. It broke the Pact between the Tribes of Miled and the Túatha de Dannan that had stood for a thousand years and more, and led to the eventual loss of sovereignty as invader after invader plundered our homeland. Not even the Romans set foot on our soil in conquest, but once the pact was broken and the old faith forgotten in all but the most rustic of regions, in came the Northmen, then the Normans, then the English, and now, the European Union. This is the price of forgetting our oaths and our ways. Those of us who seek to redress this have an uphill battle against a sea of misinformation, perversions of history and outright deceitful propaganda espoused by everyone from the Church to the neopagans today, all of whom have their own agendas, none of which are for the benefit of OUR people, only their own ends. This is why it is so offensive to see people further eroding a culture and faith that has already had numerous efforts to extinguish it.

     People often focus on the Druids, and some corrupt version of Gael Pagan tradition instead of seeing the ratio or break down of CULTURE, where faith is/should be everywhere within the culture. It seems all too often the only focus is on spirituality and not the rest of the cultures many layers and subtle sub-layers of then and now. They are and should be overlapped and interwoven. Ask any modern Druid what they know of the old laws, the lore like the Táin Bó Cúailnge and you will find not much. Ask any harper to tell a traditional story while he plays his cruit using the 3 strains, they can't. Ask any Irish dancer about the earliest dances and what rituals they were about, they do not have the answer. Yet some of us know these things, and are trying to keep them safe from being lost. We wish to share them, and try as we might with groups like Neopagans, they piss on their roots of tradition, and we become defensive. So where does that leave us? Looking like war mongers, defensive, when all we really want is to share our culture in its Gaelic form, and not have what we have worked and died for perverted for romantic self indulgent title seekers. 

(Taken from a Conversation I had with a friend) 


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Imbolc is a holiday many celebrate in early February but what is it all about? 

For those that are not apart of the ancestral culture or aware of its customs this is a very brief overview of what this festival is all about. Lets begin with the etymology of name Imbolc. In modern Irish the name of the feast i-mbolg, meaning 'in the belly' is aptly named for a time when Winter is pregnant with Summer. Thought to be derived from the root m(b)lig meaning 'milk' which actually means something more akin to 'lactation'. Alternatively there is also another common name this festival is known by which is Oímelc (modern Oímealg) which stems from the Old Celtic word Ouimelko, 'ewes milk'. 

  This feast was said to be celebrated when the milk first began to flow in the ewes. This is about a month or so before the lambing season begins. This would place the date somewhere near the 1st of February with a window of two weeks before to two weeks after depending on the season and geographical location.

   In Old Irish it's Brigit, modern Irish Bríd, modern Scotts Gaelic: Brìghde or Brìd, anglicized as Bridget. Lets then leave behind Saint Brighid here as it is conjecture to weather or not her existence actually happened since so much of her life is based on the Goddess that predates her by thousands of years. Our focus is who Brigit the Goddess is since we are talking about Imbolc and not Lá Fhéile Bríde (The feast day of Brighid) 

So what's in a name?
  It has been suggested that the name Brigit goes back to Brigantia or Briganti from the insular Celtic tradition. Possibly from Brigindu mentioned in Gallic lore. Her names stems from Brig meaning height, like in brigâ which is applied to in hills and mountains. From Brigantia it could translate to something closely to, "she who raises herself on high, who is exalted." Though the roots of Brigâ are much more complex than just height. In Irish Brí, Scots Gaelic Brigh, Manx Bree all have wide range of meanings such as; 'power, force, meaning, invigorating essence', along with 'hill'. In the Brythonic languages like Welsh we see that Bre means hill but Bri could also mean, 'fame, value, respect'. No doubt the upwelling force that is both raised up and that which imparts strength. It's the Brigantia/Brigindu from Gallic lore that develops linguistically into Brigit of the Medieval Irish Period. 

In Irish Mythology Brigit is the daughter of the Dagda champion of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Some say she was the link between the Dannan and the Fomorian before the Lugh lore happens. Besides many of her characteristics being tied to the land, her bigger role is mostly seen as tied to the welfare of the Tribe. It is hard not to see her in triple form as banfhile (female poet) the one who brings inspiration to the poets and bards, she is a patroness of the forge and consort to the smiths, she is said to be associated with the weapons of the forge that the warriors carry. Brigit is also the healer, the herbalist and associated with cleansing the home and hearth. This element of fire related to her character is seen throughout in all of the previous mentioned functions. From the forge, to hearth, to the sun; Brigit and fire can not be separated. Her fire is the inspirational life giving force. With the fire of fertility within the earth and that of its quickening of solar light it is no wonder why so many still use candles to honor her. 

In nature
Brigit is associated with the White Cow, from her mother Bó fhionn goddess of the river Boyne. Although many consider the dandelion-caisearbhán in Irish, bearnan bride Scots Gaelic to be her flower it is was most likely coltsfoot (adhann) with its similar appearance, medical properties, and its blooming date much closer to the actual Imbolc festival itself. Brigit is said to have a messenger bird, the oystercatcher called bridean, brid-eun - Bríd-bird in Scotland &  giolla Bríde (Bríd's servant) in Connacht. Some also see her associated with the Adder. Given her Formorian connection (more on this adder lore later).

Traditional Surviving Customs
     There are common themes which Imbolc addresses. There is the re-awakening of the land and its fertility with the new agricultural cycle beginning. The creative force of the tribe and land merged into one. It is when forces of creativity of Tribe and Land merge that we take part in such customs. Many invite the spirit of this Goddess into their homes, & at their hearths welcoming her to bless them with protection. Often times a corn dolly or even a woman of the family would play the role of Brigit. Blessing the Clan with fire and water is very common as well as making the Cros-Bríde (Bridget's cross) though sometimes it is called crosóg (little cross) or Bogha Bríde (Bridget's bow) Most of the ones we see today are made from either plaited rushes or straw, but it isn't uncommon to see them made from sedge, cord, or vines. The well known four armed cross in its swastika shape was 1st found to be used in Ulster but today it's the most well known of the crosses. There are trefoil type designs that symbolize Birigt's threefold nature, as well as very intricate woven crosses like a sun wheel that are also used. The symbol shows movement, cyclical change, that light returns again and offers hope like that of the symbolism of the Snowdrop flower. Lets not forget it is both the symbolism os fire and water used in this festival, as in the medieval Irish we have the word imb-fholc which means "to wash oneself". 
     The less known cloak or mantle of Brigit (Brat Bríde) was traditionally just this, a cloak or mantle usually like a large blanket made of wool. It was hung at or out the window during the evening and over night of the feast and was said to absorb the powers of Brigit herself to benefit the family in their future times of illness or protection. Many today use a cloth, a ribbon or even a special reserved lap/couch blanket in place as their Brat Bríde. This was something you did every Imbolc and some suggest that it took seven years to gain its full powers of healing and protection. 
    One Imbolc tradition in Ireland is that when a young girl of the family goes out to cut and gathers the rushes and returns to the home and stands at the threshold of the house saying, "Be on your knees and open your eyes and let the blessed Bríd in." Téigi ar bhur nglúine, agus osclaigi bhur súile, agus ligigi Bríd bheannaithe isteach. The family would respond with sayings like, "Three times welcome, noble lady. - (Sé do bheatha , 'sé do bheatha, 'sé do bheatha, a  bhean uasail.) Or " O Brigit Come in, you are a hundred times welcome." - (O Bríde, tar isteach, ta céad fáilte romhat.) Afterwards the young girl would enter the house with the rushes and either bring them to the feasting table and lay them upon or under it or to the hearth of the home. It would not be uncommon for her to bless he food or drink that might be out at the feasting table. After the feasting the family would make the crosses and the Draoi would bless them so that they could be hung from doors for protection. There are places in Ireland where the family would come together and make a special loaf of bread shaped like a Brigits cross and lay it upon a a bed of rushes. After the bread was consumed at the feast the rushes were used to make the family crosses. Sometimes each loaf of bread had a small cross under it, or even bread crumbs were sprinkled over it. 

The well known corn dolly or straw doll called Brídeóg was often dressed in children's clothes and carried around the village by the children who went from house to house singing songs, reciting special prayers and giving families Brigits blessing at this time of year. Sometimes they would also hand over a Brigits cross to the house hold in thanks for their generosity of payment of either coin or food. In some communities a young girl was to take on the position of Brigit and wear a crown of rushes and a veil carrying a shield and wearing a Brigits cross as she lead a procession through the streets. In certain places the Brídeóg was put to bed with a wand by her side and over night would rise and leave a mark on the ashes of the fireplace. If a mark was seen it was an omen of good luck for the family. Some places in Scotland used no doll but prepared a bed for Brigit and invoked her at the threshold of the house saying, "Brighd, Brighd, come in: your bed is ready - (A Bhrighd, a Bhrighd, thig a steach: tha do leabaidh air a charadh)

There is also the custom of Brigit's belt/girdle (Crios Bríde) in which a larger hoop of braided straw was constructed. Four Brigit's crosses hung from it to mark the quarters. In Connacht, mainly in Connemara and the Aran Island where this tradition seems to have survived best the women were said to carry the Brídeóg (straw doll) where the men carried the Crios Bríde (Brigit's belt) Visiting house to house people were welcome to step through the hoop for encouraged blessings of health. Something like this was commonly sung:

Crios Bríde mo chrios,
Crios na gceithre gcros.
Eirigh suas, a bhean an tighe
Agus gaibh trí h-uaire amach.
An té rachas tré mo chrios,
Go mba seacht bhfearr
a bheidh sé bliain ó inniu.

My girdle is Bríd's girdle,
The girdle with the four crosses.
Rise up, women of the house
And go out three times.
May whoever goes through my 
girdle be seven times better a year
from today.

It was standard that men would pass through the belt/girdle sideways beginning with their right foot. Women on the other hand passed trough by brining it down upon them over their heads before they stepped out of it with their right foot. This went on and on sometimes with the individual going through the hoop usually three times. We can see how this is like birth, how it reenacts the passageway and how we are invoking birth and spring during Imbolc. 

In Scotland we find the connection to Brigit and the Adder. Just as we may be familiar with the watered down Groundhog custom where it sees its shadow or not prognosticating winter, so to a much earlier custom survives at this time of year. If the adder was seen and left is hole than you knew spring was soon upon you but if it came out and went back in you were indeed due for another month of unfavorable weather conditions. 

Moch maduinn Bhride
Thig an nimhir as an toll.
Cha bhean mise ris an nimhir
Cha bhean an nimhir rium.

On Brede's morn the serpent
will come out of the hole
I will not harm the serpent,
nor will the serpent harm me.

~ Carmina Gadelica

Interesting to note in other versions of this the Adder or serpent is called Rioghan (Queen) Ireland lack of snakes gave way to using the hedgehog (gráinneog) for this divinatory rite. There is so much more that could be said about Birigit, the forge and the blessings of the Smiths tools but for the sake of length I will leave this out. Just know that the Tribes Smith is payed special attention and blessings during this time for it is they who provide our tool through a magical process of creation with in their forge through Brigits help and inspiration. I hope you have gained an insight into some of the traditions of Imbolc and understand it in a way that you might have before. I can only hope you have the means of actually celebrating it with a group having read this. There is no better way to understand something than to go through it, be apart of it and allow it to shape you. 

How to make a Brigit's Cross

Friday, November 15, 2013

How to wear a cloak

Conas a chaitheamh bhrat

This could easily be titled how to wear a wool blanket, or how to wrap up in a blanket. With some of my interests being Celtic Iron Age reenactment, and Bushcraft I put some consideration into the thought that not everyone might have the knowledge on how to wear the various styles and why they were/are worn. Below you will find picture by picture as a step by sep how-to explaining the process. There is no right or wrong way, only personal preference. You may wear yours differently and that is fine. Though in wearing a brooch or a fibulae which shoulder you wear it on does denote ones culture. Also too, you never want the pin to be pointing towards you for safety reasons. Always have the point pointing away from you. 

   The blanket I used for this example was a 80%wool- 20% synthetic Harbor Freight wool blanket. They are very smelly out of the package almost like some type of fuel. I washed it with a nice soap as the online description says they are machine washable. I did a second rinse, and air dried it on the line for two days. It was rather linty with some tufts that came off when I shook it out. I smudged it real well with sagebrush and let it sit out for a few more hours after that. There was no smell, it was soft and for the price of $10.00 it cant be beat for a house/car blanket or something for reenactment. The size is 60"x80"  Lets get to the pictures.

 We see a very simple style of the cloak. With the left being folder over and the right flap coming across on top to be fastened at the left shoulder. This was a very common way the Celts wore their cloaks.

This is the same as above only that the front material is thrown over the shoulder to allow more freedom of movement.

Hoods were not common to the Celtic culture as they were simply not needed as this style shows one would just pull the fabric up around their head allowing the heat to stay in, and the bad weather to stay out.

Here we see that the blanket or fabric is folded over into a third. 

 By folding the blanket over into a third and then fastening the brooch one created a double layer of fabric around the body, and a quadrupled layer over the chest. This allows for extra warmth keeping the bodies core temperature controlled in very cold and windy climates. Note the arms are still free to move. 

This shows the same style from the side. 

Again, this image shows the same style. I am lifting up a double layer to show that the two create a quadruple layer over the neck, heart, lungs and core of the body. 

I have readjusted the fabric as you can see near o my neck to all this double layer to be worn down as shown, or up in a hood in the following picture.

Double layer acting as extra protection over the head as a hood.

As you can see I have sewn two loops of 550 7-strand paracord to my blanket

 I pull the blanket over my head meeting my nose. Notice the position of the paracord loops. 

I wrapped the blanket around me with my right hand brining the fabric to my left side and the left side of the fabric covering that. I belted it with a wool tablet woven belt on my upper hips which allows for my fabric to be around my chest. One could the same over the pant line if they so wished. 

I tied the paracord and am wearing it in the down fashion. 

Notice that this style allows for pockets. Very handy!

This is the same style just with the fabric pulled up. You don't even need to untie anything.

You can take the top down to cool off and regulate your bodies temperature. 

If you are wearing it down, you can take the side corners and tuck them up and in to create pockets. People who wear the Great Kilt know how this is done already. 

With the hood up just like in image #15 notice how "robe style" this looks. A possible insight into weather or not the Druids actually wore robes? 

Here you can see that I have the blanket folded completely in half  showing the paracord loops.

With the fabric folded completely in half, the paracord loops are on the inside flap closest to my rear end. This is important for the next step.

I have tied the inner flap like a belt creating a powder skirt. If you have a winter Gore-tex parka you will likely have one on the inside of your coat made from elastic with a snap. By tying this inner flap down, it prevents up drafts of cold air and keeps you warmer. 

With the blanket still folded in half (not tied) pull up both layers on top of your head as shown. Notice the paracord in my hands which is the bottom layer, now on top of my head.

Take the paracord loops and slowly pull back the top layer from your head bringing it all the way down.

Now that you have dropped that top layer, you have one for a hood and a layer on the bottom (which has the paracord loops) you can if you wish tie them to create the powder skirt.

This is a better picture showing the bottom layer tied off and the hood up. 

This is what it looks like with the hood up, bottom layer tied off and your hands free to move about. 

Here are some images of me in Celtic reenactment garb. Notice my Brat (cloak) and how it is worn. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Wilderness Vids

  These are some of my favorite vids. I will make you a PROMISE. Something I never do for various reasons. If you watch these, study them well and start getting out there in nature and having some dirt-time to practice these things, you will learn something. Something about yourself, nature, and about what life is all about. I hope you enjoy them and learn a few things in the process. I have chosen to leave out a giant section of vids on Trapping, Blacksmithing, Processing Game, Tanning, Archery, Muzzle loaders due to length. If these topics are of great interest to you I would encourage you to subscribe to this channel and look into them on your own. I hope you enjoy these but more so I hope you find the joy in actively taking part in doing them. This would be the greatest gift I could give anyone. Nature is our only home, why not learn about it?! 

Survival Basics

The 10 Piece Emergency Kit

Final 5's of a 10 piece kit

Clothing: Dressing for the woods
Survivability vs Sustainability
Jam Knots 3 that do it all
Light weight scout pack set up

Wool Blankets 
Making a wool blanket shirt Part 1
Making a wool banket shirt Part 2
(Also see 'Wrapping in the wool blanket' in the Sleeping Category below) 

Bushcraft on a Budget:
Wool Blanket Pack / Bed Roll

Water Purification Techniques

Ninja Shelter: Quick and easy tarp shelter. (One I use most often)


Fire Tricks Ferro Rod and Quartz
Fire Lay The Proper Construction and Ignition after a Night of Rain 


Basic Knife Handling and Bush Craft Notches Part 1
Basic Knife Handling and Bush Craft Notches Part 2

Stone Knapping
Making Simple stone tools from Flint

Natural Cordage

Over Nights
Series 1)

Series 2)

Traditional Woven Trumpline

Pocket Hunting system 

Using a compass to take a visual bearing
Pace counting and dead reckoning
Pace count Part 2 and Resection
Estimating distance and pace counting lecture
5 Navigation techniques every woodsman should know
Taking a bearing from your Map made easy
Blazing the woodsmans code
Map reading Declination and Scale
Navigation by Terrain Part 1
Navigation by Terrain Part 2

Eastern woodlands Trees and their uses
Top 5 medicinal plants of the Eastern woodlands
Herbal Medicine for the woodsman

Common mans small Trap- Trapping 
Fishing Equipment explained
Frog Gigs and spear fishing
Making Primitive Fish hooks part 1
Making Primitive Fish hooks part 2

On the Waters Edge
Part 1 Compact Fishing Rods and Systems
Part 2 Quick Catch for Breakfast
Part 3 Make a quick pole for fishing
Part 7 Shallow weed beds and gutting.
Part 9 Float lines and limb lines
Part 11 Making a cane pole for fishing