Sunday, November 15, 2015

Corr Bolg

The Irish Crane Bag

The above bag was made for me by Kelsey Goodwin at StarLeather 

She makes wonderful pouches/sporrans that are very affordable and she does custom work at a very fair price. 

     Since I was child I would often collect things I found and put them in a special bag. My magic pouch held rocks, twigs, roots, nuts, feathers, bones, shells, teeth and more. I had special names for each item, and I would on occasion talk to them, hold them and use them in an imaginative play of sorts. I still have a few of these items from early youth and today they hold a deeper meaning for many reasons. As the years have gone by this meaningful collection has waxed and waned as it should. Items have been lost and others were given away to those whom I felt were in benefit of a gift. It wasn't until I was around the age of eighteen that I heard the term 'Crane Bag' used for what I had always dubbed in childhood as my magical pouch. After almost twenty years in a Druid Order I came to understand this in a new way. Though there there still was a cloudiness, or a fog surrounding this Crane Bag of sorts. Many of us on the Pagan path use a Crane Bag simply to hold our items, but what do we really know about the bag? Let us briefly examine where this tradition comes from, and to what it may allude to.

    Why is it called a Crane Bag?

If we look to Irish Mythology where this term originates; Corr Bolg (Crane Bag) we will glimpse a theme as to why the Crane Bag held such importance.

This is a poem from ‘The Poem-Book of Finn’, (Duanaire Finn) Contained within describes the magical Crane-Bag of Manannán & Aoife, the daughter of Delbaeth. How she had been turned into a crane by the jealous Iuchra. How she went to live within Manannán’s household until she passed away. Manannán made the magical bag out of her skin, (as human or crane?) within it held his many treasures. It was passed on in time to others again & again throughout the many tales in Irish mythology.  

Duanaire Finn
I have a question for thee, Caoilte, man of the interchanged weapons: to whom did the good Crane-bag belong that Cumhall son of Treanmhor had?
A crane that belonged to gentle Manannan — it was a treasure of power with many virtues — from its skin, strange thing to prize — from it was made the Crane-bag.
Tell us what was the crane, my Caoilte of many exploits, or, tell us, man, why its skin was put about the treasures.
Aoife, daughter of dear Dealbhaoth, sweetheart of Ilbhreac of many beauties — both she and luchra of comely hue fell in love with the man.
luchra, enraged, beguiled Aoife to come swimming, it was no happy visit: when she drove her fiercely forth in the form of a crane over the moorlands.
Aoife then demanded of the beautiful daughter of Abhartach: ’How long am I to be in this form, woman, beautiful breast-white luchra?’
‘The term I will fix will not be short for thee, Aoife of the slow-glancing eyes: thou shalt be two hundred white years in the noble house of Manannan.
‘Thou shalt be always in that house with everyone mocking thee, a crane that does not visit every land: thou shalt not reach any land.
‘A good vessel of treasures will be made of thy skin — no small event: its name shall be — I do not lie — in distant times the Crane-bag.’
Manannan made this of the skin when she died: afterwards in truth it held every precious thing he had.
The shirt of Manannan and his knife, and Goibhne’s girdle, altogether: a smith’s hook from the fierce man: were treasures that the Crane-bag held.
The King of Scotland’s shears full sure, and the King of Lochlainn’s helmet, these were in it to be told of, and the bones of Asal’s swine.
A girdle of the great whale’s back was in the shapely Crane-bag: I will tell thee without harm, it used to be carried in it.
When the sea was full, its treasures were visible in its middle: when the fierce sea was in ebb, the Crane-bag in turn was empty.
There thou hast it, noble Oisin, how this thing itself was made: and now I shall tell its faring, its happenings.
Long time the Crane-bag belonged to heroic Lugh Long-arm: till at last the king was slain by the sons of Cearmaid Honey-mouth.
To them next the Crane-bag belonged after him, till the three, though active, fell by the great sons of Mile.
Manannan came without weariness, carried off the Crane-bag again; he showed it to no man till the time of Conaire came.
Comely Conaire slept on the side of Tara of the plains: when the cunning well-made man awoke, the Crane-bag was found about his neck. 

What can be said from this?
    In the previous poem we learn that the Crane bag was made by Manannán ma Lir containing many personal treasures to him. Aífe was transformed into a crane by a jealous rival, luchra; she spends 200 years in the household of Manannán mac Lir. When she dies, he uses her skin to hold things precious to him. Though when she dies is she in crane form or a human? The personal items included are his knife, shirt, the king of Scotland's shears, the king of Lochlainn's helmet, the bones of Assal's swine, and the girdle of the great whale's back. Notice that at high tide the treasures are visible in the sea, but at ebb tide they vanish. To what does this allude? Should our Crane Bags wax and wane with the moon and tides each month?
    There is a lot of speculation that the bag contained the letters of the Ogham alphabet. Perhaps it was a bag of Ogham lots carved or burnt on wood? Specifically here, we can suggest the last five letters of the Ogham are being mentioned through symbolism of the original twenty script, making it a twenty five basic script. One early form of Ogham divination was done by observing the legs of cranes. We also see that the bag went through various owners, including Lugh Lamhfada and Liath Luachra from whom it is obtained by Fionn ma Cumhaill. 
   Let us start picking this apart. We know that Manannan was the God of the sea, we have reference to objects that are seen and unseen through the timing of the tides within the bag. Objects like his shirt and his knife and thus a bag created out of a cane-woman. Did the bag hold water? Is there something special dealing with the moon maybe and the concept of these tides? If Manannan is the Sea God, then is he not responsible for the ebb and flow of the tides? Suggesting what could be visible and yet unseen would be within his control and not just that of the natural cycles. Something to consider if you have a personal Crane Bag. Who is allowed to see what, and which times we allow it. We are dealing with sight here, so the seen and unseen could be a light vs. darkness correlation. Could these following Ogham letters on the right hand side of the diagram below represent the items (treasures) listed from this poem? Do they not look like shears/sciccors, a helmet, etc? Was this suggested a form of a hidden language. Maybe language to be hidden from others through use of the Ogham? The Ogham was not a language of the masses in its earliest form as we know. 

What of these treasures? 
     The shirt of Manannán and his knife, what could possibly be the Sea Gods shirt? Since we are not talking about an actual tunic, maybe it's not even fabric at all. Maybe its the ocean itself or something of the ocean like sea weed? It could have been the knowledge of weaving even, maybe like the ebb and flow we could apply some sort of weaving pattern? This is seen possibly as the (AE) Ogham. The knife that he had belonged to Guibhne the Smith God, and it might be the knife like hook found in the Ogham (IO). Maybe it wasn't a knife at all but the knowledge of smith-craft? Maybe the knife is a Druids sickle or reaping hook, maybe its the crescent moon above the water? The King of Scotland's shears (Ui), A good question we may ask is what did the shears symbolize? Cutting, trimming, perhaps keeping up on hygiene or appearances. We do know the Celts were often manicured and took pride in appearances. The King of Lochlainn's helmet (OI) might also be found by their shape among the Ogham. What is a helmets job, protection of the head, what is in the head? The Celts thought that the head was the seat of the soul and it was highly venerated, and sometimes taken in battle. It could be that the helmet represented an attribute of protection of such things? The bones of Asal's swine, and a bone from the great whales back could be cross bones laid overlapping one another creating the (EA) ogham. Bones are symbols of our bodies death, though why the swine & the whale? Are stones of the earth the bones of the earth which many carved Ogham onto, who is to say. A much deeper study of all of these symbols should be considered. I feel these are possible suggestions of the corresponding attributes pertaining to these diphthongs.

    We know that mythology gives us stories that are full of symbolism and metaphors, that things are never what they appear. We see that Aoife in her passions is punished by someone who has a jealous heart. He punishes her by transforming her form into that of a Crane. This theme can be found in a few myths where someone is punished by being transformed into an animal. It is only natural to assume that since she was transformed into a Crane that she should be in the presence then of Manannán with his very watery attributes. What we should mention is the transformation into an animal within a story was never seen as a punishment, the punishment was that they were forbidden to willingly on their own accord to transform back into human form until a given time. As all the tales tell us today, Aoife spent 200 years as a Crane in the company of Manannán. The theme of time within Celtic myths is not how we understand it in our culture, especially that of otherworldly time in the Sea Gods home none the less. From what we gather from the lore, a few moments in the other-world can be generations in our time, and sometimes the opposite where years over there can be but a few moments in our time. This is not suggesting that the Celts didn't understand time, simply that as pastoral and agricultural culture their concept of the seasons, of the light and dark half of the year was perhaps so 'organic and natural' that we are missing something from our own cultural understanding. We would have to live that lifestyle to understand it. I feel to accomplish any real understanding multiple generations would have to undergo living as they did to try and understand where their mindset originates. On a side note, have you ever been camping for a prolonged period of time, say a week or more with no technology, no watches, phones, no time; just sun up, sun down? It changes you, it resets your inner clock! 

     So, then how does a woman become transformed by jealousy? In good Celtic response I would say, 'not hard'. In a very real humanistic approach we need to try to apply this to what we know if we hope to learn from these stories. Ask yourself, how in your life has someone's jealousy and actions changed and transformed you? Aoife was banished to go live with Manannán. Would a jealous lover not cause you to be repelled or seek exile from their presence? Perhaps even to move away and be alone with only the Gods and the ocean. A place full of vast openness always considered to be the place of unknown and unpredictable; which could be be said of anyones future. The part of Aoife being punished is also a theme to explore. When one feels jealousy, they act out of betrayal and harshness. Have you ever been jealous yourself, how did you feel and act? Though any such punishment we may bestow upon those we feel wronged by is only a mask of sadness we wear, not anger. In the end we are only punishing ourselves. 

   Let us examine the Crane in Celtic lore. It can be said that the bird is associated with knowledge or wisdom. It has its ties to the Ogham language as people could read omens from the position of the Cranes feet while it stood still on one leg, or even in flight. In the Irish Book of Leinster Midhir has three cranes which guard his fortress. They had abilities like that of being able to steal away an attackers will to fight. There are three Cranes which are said to guard the entrance to Annwn the Welsh Underworld. Three cranes stand upon a bulls back in a Gaulish carving. Perhaps the Crane speaks of the Goddesses dark aspects? With its loud cry it became later associated with that of mean and unpleasant women in later folklore. Though before this we can see in tales the Crane is a good omen, where Fionn MacCumhail's Grandmother shape-shifts into a crane to save his fall from a cliff when he was a child. In our esoteric studies we learn of the Crane Pose. This is where the individual stands on one foot, closes one eye, with a rock in one hand and pointing with the other. They turn the stone in their hands over and over, recite a certain style of poetry with their backs to a Hawthorn tree as they return ill will to the sender. Powerful stuff. 

What do we put into our Crane Bags and why?
   It is agreed that within our bags the items that are contained are symbols for other things. The power they have is in our ability to attach meaning and memory to them. Just as in Manannán's bag with his the shirt, helmet, and bones. These items were no doubt symbols for things, and not the actual items mentioned. Your items could be sacred objects from locations or pilgrimages, things that represent deeds done, or rites of passages you've been through. Your items could represent anything from the people you know to specific types of energy you work with. A common practice is often that objects being so personal are not for the common view of others or even anyone at all depending on the individual. It is the practitioners microcosm of their magical world. We use these items upon our altars for certain work, we use them for personal divination, and healing, and sometimes in a sort of chess game allowing us to place desired items at certain points; thus actively shaping our unseen world in hopes for a desired outcome.
    I make it a point to shape many (not all) of the items in my bag to form them into highly personalized items. For example a rock from a certain location may be altered by inscribing or carving a symbol upon it. This creates not only an object with a meaning and memory but one that has physical work put into it, forming it into something else entirely. I have two Crane Bags, one is my esoteric/magical bag, the other is a sort of modern Druid take on a EDC survival kit. To give you a good example of what is in my magical Crane Bag I will give you some of the basic items, without of course their private personal attributes:

     My crane bag is made of deer leather, and can fit the size of a giant phone book within it. It has a small inner pocket which often holds items for ready use. Like a pipe and a tobacco pouch. It is the over the shoulder style bag like a haversack. There is a triskele I painted very roughly with three cranes heads on the flap of the bag which was done in woad. The toggle style closure to it has an antler button from which a bear claw and an elk ivory dangle. From some of its hanging leather ties I have an Ice Age walrus tooth that is carved, hazel nuts with ogham, a small bone skull, a red squirrels tail, a ravens talon, a sea shell from Tintagel Cornwall, and an owl feather from New Forest England.
     Inside my Bag I have many small bags and some loose items. I have an Ogham set of the 20 trees each being from the corresponding tree. Many types rocks/minerals carved with various symbols. Teeth, bones, feathers, an owl and a hawk talon, rocks from many holy places in Ireland, Wales, England, a small piece of a castle in Scotland, turff from Ireland, a needle, thread and a thimble, a druids egg, a large carved piece of mandrake root, a hand carved pipe of Cernonnus, a broken harp string, a braid of hair, a boars tusk, carved figures on ice age antler, bog oak, bog yew, a rowan wand carved with ogham, a cloth for divination, old coins from over seas, sheep knuckles, Fidchell game pieces carved with ogham, a leather roll-out Fidchell game board, a promise ring cut in half! a seeing stone to magnify things, my sons umbilical cords, an effigy carved out of mistletoe, acorns, a sun dried Irish potato, an herbal smoking mixture, a salmons skull painted with woad, a flask of real Irish poitín, and various other things made from bone, stone, horn, antler, amber and wood. Sometimes I carry my Broze-Age replica Sickle, and my gold torc when not wearing it.
      As you can see, you can put what ever you want in your Crane Bag, as long as each item is highly personal and personalized. Sometimes I only carry certain objects with me, other times my bag is full. Wax and wane. Much of the power of these objects comes from the memories and associations they symbolize to you. Your bag is not a catch all, you don't just gather items and toss them into your bag. They are carefully selected, worked on and added with great purpose. They are your 'world' in microcosm, ebbing and flowing at all times.
    The question of why we hold certain objects with power or reverence could be looked at that in different ways. Perhaps the item does hold its own personal power, and that alone is enough. It can be a simple item like a feather or a river rock that just called out to you, and we didn't analyze it any further. We just knew where its home was; that being within our Crane bag. Another perspective is that you quested for an item, you might have been looking for an object to have in your bag designated for a certain individual like a grandparent, an ex, or even a child. Why do we gather such items? Why do some of them call to us? Why do we place value on them as important things to us? Maybe the more important question is, what do we do with them and how do we use them once we have them? That is not a topic I can address here, and is for the individual to find out for themselves. If you are interested in making a Crane Bag I would suggest some further reading on Celtic tales, meditation, and working with some inspiration to design your own. It need not be fancy, and might simply be a small cloth pouch worn on your belt, or even a sporran. Only you have these answers.

A Basic Guide to EDC and Other Kits

 An in depth overview from a Druid Bushcrafter

     There are Pagans today of various cultures have a fervent relationship for the outdoors. We not only consider Nature our church in a way, but our life-school as well. It is in places created by the divine that we feel closest to our roots, our ancestors, the seasons, and deity. Often times there is no need for ritual or fomality. We quiet the mind, observe, and allow ourselves to be filled with beauty and inspiration. Many people of this path love camping, hiking, and backpacking trips. Some of us go hunting and fishing, others go rock climbing and even kayaking or canoeing. It is from being an avid outdoorsman & Druid that I was hoping to inspire those of you with some insight into how to go about making a basic survival kit or necessities bag. There are a few versions of different kits I will mention towards the end of this write up.
    The idea of a Druid's Crane Bag for me doesn't contain items of an esoteric nature, but rather items that I would carry to stay alive while out in the woods. Something like a small Haversack or even a Sporran/belt pouch. (Although I do have a pretty tricked out Crane Bag full of oghams, fetish totem items, and personalized paraphernalia of carved rocks, roots, and bones I use for personal divination) If you are interested in the esoteric nature of the Celtic Crane Bag please follow the link to a write up I did on it here.

   This Basic guide and overview up is not intended in any way to be an instructional or a what you should do with the following items format. It is up to the individual to learn, study, and practice the skills and techniques in the outdoors before they can feel comfortable in places of distant and great beauty. There is always that what if, or being lost or stranded that could happen. Because of this I wanted to list a few items that I feel are valuable beyond any sort of monetary association and give my Druidic insights into them. 

   With television shows such as: Dual Survival, Ray Mears, Survivorman, Bear Grylls, to name just a few; people have been passively educated through entertainment and often feel they have what it takes to make it in the wilderness. This armchair attitude of survival education is dangerous and disrespectful. You do not just grab some gear and go into the woods and try to survive. Surviving is what you do if you are in a compromised situation, all the while trying for rescue or getting out is the goal. If you do go out into the woods and try and survive you will either get hurt, have a horrible time, or worse; you could die. There are virtually tons of books, articles, websites, schools, and products now aimed at people into prepping, bugging out or hunkering down. Survivalism, bushcraft, and even primitive living skills are all the rage these days. When I grew up I never heard of the term 'Bushcraft'. My Grandfather and his three brothers along with my father and his five brothers were simply "outdoors men". They knew the forest for the trees, they would hunt and fish & trap. They farmed their land, raised animals, and were simple people who never really struggled. They did all these things which now seem to be a fad of sorts like Homesteading. To them that was just normal everyday life. It is sad that we have become complacent in this era and lazy to where we have traded our given right to live free for connivence. 

   I wanted to share with you what things work best for me. It may not suit your style or methodology, but this information is valuable nevertheless. The collection of information here was made possible from many years of experience. I've tried & tested this material over a period of fifteen years thats proved its worth. Online forums, videos & books have helped make organizing this article possible; though nothing can replace experience - aka what people call, 'dirt time'. 

   Before building any basic kit, I would begin with building a storehouse of knowledge. Read, study, go out and try and experiment with what you may have already. Apply your techniques to see what works for you. After some serious time outdoors you'll get a feel for your own way of doing things with your education. It is a good idea to try these things while camping. While at a campsite you are already in the outdoors and since nature is our school there is no better time than while relaxing at a campsite; besides you should have some of the items already with you. It's only after that you should consider taking the next step in building a serious kit. It could be your EDC (every day carry) a bug out bag, an emergency pack you keep in your vehicle or even a backpack you use often for hiking/backpacking. 

   With knowledge gained from study and personal experience, you should also have the ability in addressing the means to control your bodies core temperature in various situations or conditions. Being able to look at your environment to see and use what resources are available to you. This knowledge adds to your outcome of being comfortable in your psychological mindset when a situation arrises. These things plus what items you carry in your basic kit will be to your advantage.

Some thoughts on building your 'kit'
   As stated much of this information can be found online through websites, youtube videos, and other outdoor forums. Many have contributed articles and videos showcasing specific items & where to shop to save you money on obtaining material for a basic kit. Always be open to learning from others, you never know what new tricks or techniques you can adopt to make your own for a better rounded education.   
   Something should be said about overdoing it vs. being redundant. I personally feel that two is one, and one is none. It is a well known idea that if you have only one knife and it becomes lost, now you have none. Though I feel strongly against packing unnecessary items if you can find the right things that are multi-purpose. Now onto some basic items that you might use while in nay-chur.


Skyclad in the woods? Not on this trip Mr. Druí
   Your 1st defense against the elements is what you are wearing when the undesirable may happen. If you are going hiking, backpacking or camping always know all the possible variables of what weather could come your way, and pack accordingly. If its mid Fall and the nights are cold, with any possibility of snow; by all means pack as it will be unfavorable. Clothing is a form of shelter in allowing you to control your bodies core temperature. Layers are your friend in cold climates. This would be a part of your Cover that will be discussed as we go. 

A pack. 
   You will need some sort of means of holding the following items of your kit. It does not have to be expensive. You may find one at a thrift store, an Army-Navy surplus outlet, or even a garage sale. It might be a school type book-bag or something leaning more towards the style you'd go hiking with. Personally I like a bag that has both adjustable waist and chest straps to help in load bearing and comfort. You might like a over the shoulder haversack, it's all what works best for you. 
    I have used various day packs, backpacks & bags over the years. All depending on what I am doing and how long I think I will be gone depends on which pack I bring. My current everyday pack is the Maxpedition Vulture 2                     I find it best suits my personal needs of space and durability for the things I do on a daily basis. For me it works great as I have three little boys that require me to carry stuff for them. You should buy what you like because you'll use it more that way. With our ability to use the internet, one should be fully aware of what they are buying. You can always watch and read reviews and make up your own mind on what you like and why. There is really no wrong choice, simply make sure its well made and wont fall apart. 

My Druid Thoughts on Packs
  The idea of carrying a backpack is a very ancient idea. We have reference to one such example with Ötzi the Iceman. The idea of having to carry items allowing ones hands to be free for other tasks is no doubt an ancient one. An easy way of carrying things was just a large piece of fabric, or even an animal hide. Items tossed into the center, folded and rolled up, the corners tied to each other and slung over the shoulders or across the chest. You can picture primitive cultures wearing this, allowing them to walk with a spear as they surveyed the land from higher elevations. I often do this technique while having simple family outings. While packing I always end up tying it up and yelling, "Hobo-Go!" It has often occurred to me that it might have been one of the 1st of our human inventions. After all a Mother needs to carry a baby while on the move. Wrap em' up and have a space to carry stuff. 

~The Pathfinder School teaches a very easy to understand & good approach using what Dave Canterbury calls the 10 C's of survivability.  It is a great place for beginners or even more advanced students of the craft to begin or even review things they already are familiar with. Lets take a look at these 10 C's which seem to transcend into the very basics that all cultures have relied on since our earliest times. 

1. Cutting tool. 
   A good knife! Make sure it is a fixed blade & full tang. I like knives that are at least 4-5 inches in blade length. Something thick enough that could be used for batonning and splitting wood if need be. Many people like 1095 steel for its ability to use with creating fire with combination of a Ferrocerium Rod and ease of sharpening. Though there are metals like INFI, Cpm 3V, Cpm 154, S35vn, VG-10, D2, A2, 01, and AUS 8 Steel and so many more which are also wonderful choices. It's all personal preference. Currently my two main carries are:

1) A Hawkins Dogwood custom knife by Dan Eastland

Mine is: 1/8 in. Cpm 154 steel, convex grind, spear point, spalted birch wood handle, fancy brass pins, with a leather sheath. 

2) My smaller back up blade I often use as my EDC is a Becker D'Eskabar D2 steel, flat grind, with custom handles. 

     Honestly though, there are tons of great knives out there; You just have to find which one you would rely on most often for the purpose you wish to use it for. Don't buy the hype with those swaering to brand loyalty. There are many people out there pushing one knife over another as 'better'. Perhaps for them it is? It may take a few years in different conditions for you to find which knife/kinves works best for you. Remember a bushknife used around camp is much different than something you'd carry for survival, or even for kitchen prep. This could be said about your EDC knife as well; so folders are out of the question for lots of tasks, but could be great around camp. Have you ever played chew the peg/mumbly peg? When I think of knives I think function and purpose. Again, do your homework on types of steel and alloys. The conditions you'll most likely find yourself in are a factor to consider before purchasing. Will it be wet, bloody, snowy or even near/on the ocean? Have fun field testing, and be careful. Keep it sharp, keep it clean and remember to take care of your knife so it can take care of you. Invest in some good sharpening equipment and know how to use it. 

Some things to consider: Type of metal, weight of the knife, how you'll be carrying it, Rockwell hardness scale, thickness of blade, what types of things will the knife be used for, how much money are willing to invest, how will you be sharpening, type of edge/grind you prefer - flat, scandi, convex, etc, how well it holds an edge- does it sharpen easy in the field?

Before buying a knife please read some information on Steel FAQ: 

Other knife companies you could consider reviewing: 

Dogwood Custom Knives:

 ~ Last but certainly not least is:
 Mora Knives! Not full tang, but these knives are awesome, affordable, and perform many tasks that outshine other knives. For the price, everyone should one at least one Mora. 

My Druid Thoughts on Knives
When I carry a knife, (which I 'ALWAYS' do) I like to reflect on the Celtic Iron Age. A time when so many smiths transformed their environment leaving bronze by the way side. The forge, a magical place of elements and transformation. The Celtic tools and weapons made of Iron, albeit not much of it was transformed into he best hardened steel, the fact they had this material allowed a sense of cultural growth. It made lives easier, and lives easier to be lost as well. I often dream of a time of proud Celtic nobility having swords, and long knives, and farmers with better tools. Mostly I think of the magic the Smiths conjured in their artistic imaginations while designing and creating such works of the La Tene cultures beauty. The art work they created on even their weaponry shows a skill and care that was done with wonder. When you carry your knife try and think back to when we didn't use metal at all, when all we had was stone. Try then if you can to imagine only having that to do the tasks you achieve with ease as your modern knife slides with ease through woods like oak, ash, and thorn. Remember the best knife to have is the one you happen to have on you. Keep it sharp, keep it clean, and keep it on you. 

2. Combustion device.
     This could be a fire striker with a Ferrocerium Rod or a magnesium block with striker attached or flint and steel. Things like char cloth, and a magnifying lenses have their place, and serve a great purpose. There are many choices available to you and all it takes is some time outdoors to get comfortable with what tools work best for you. Personally I always carry a small fire kit. I use to have one attached to my knife in my Esee pouch, one in my pack, and one in my EDC kit. Why the redundancy? Well I would rather have a means to make fire than not where I live. 

My basic fire kit contains the following: 
1 orange BIC Lighter - more on this below.
A large ferriicum rod with striker
A pill bottle full of micro inferno, and petroleum jelly soaked cotton balls
Charred items, a tin, a magnification lense

    In my pack I also carry: A magnesium block with striker, more petroleum soaked cotton balls, a zip lock bag with dryer lint, another orange BIC lighter, and a smaller ferro rod and striker, and a few small packets of Insta-Fire. Remember a zippo or a bic is NOT a means of having a sure flame. They can be damaged, run out of fuel, and don't work well in the rain or very cold temperatures. But here are some thoughts on BIC lighters:

~ Did you know?
Your trusty BIC lighter can be used when it's out of fluid. How you ask? Given that its not soaked, and if it you can dry it, the flint will still spark. Take the spine of your knife and scrape off shavings of the side of the lighter. Yes, shave off plastic shavings, add them to a well made tinder bundle, roll that finger over the lighter to ignite some sparks on the plastic shavings inside your tinder bundle and there ya have it. Do NOT throw away a lighter. Matches can run out, but a lighter can be used even out of fuel. For that matter, a broken or soaked cell phone that will not turn on can also be of use. Take out the battery, add it to a tinder bundle, use your knife to punch a hole in it and it should smoke, and ignite. Who you gonna call anyway, Ghostbusters? 

     With fire being an extreme component to the psychological mind set of being comfortable, cooking, warmth, and safety I go a little heavy on redundancy at times. Something to be said about the ability to make fire with no combustion tools. It is very hard, and takes lots of practice. It is not something you can watch on youtube and just do. Once you get better with the many techniques, the knowledge gained from knowing the woods and how to do this will add in your ability to psychologically feel more at ease. I think the bow drill technique is one that many people should have a go at. It's not that hard once you get a feel for it. My 7yr old is already pretty good at it. 

Always exercise caution when working with fire! 
Leave the area like you found it, leave no trace you were there. Make sure the fire and all the coals are extinguished before you leave your site. Remember that wind can cause fires to relight and could cause massive forest damage. Learn about how fire works, types of fires you can build and what purpose they can serve you. Cooking fires are different than camp fires, or even survival cold weather fires. *Did you know in places like Ireland and Scotland parts of the ground are peat/turf, and it too will burn underground and cause unspeakable damage. Always use caution, and have respect. 

My Druid Thoughts on Fire
     There has been many nights of solitude in remote areas that without fire, my imagination would've installed fear or even panic. Remember where there is no imagination there is no fear. I think about early humans, and their relationship to fire. What it meant to them was far more important than it is to most of us. Imagine a world with no electricity, what impenetrable darkness is like. That type of darkness is hugely lost to us, and to our consciousness. We place lights everywhere like streets, veicheles, on billboards. Areas like 'the woods' that are unexplored symbolize this primitive darkness to us. Fear of the unknown, always staying on the path, not traveling at night have been common themes in many children's stories. Our darkness unexplored these days is inner darkness, our inner-personal and cultural darkness. There to we bombard our senses with light and distraction. The glow of television, computer screens, and a house full of lights makes us feel safe & secure. It won't though you know. Take away electricity for a week or longer and watch us become savages. Something happens to us at fireside, our thought process changes, we dream with our eyes open. We safely explore inwardly things like memory, emotion, and if we are lucky we might even be gifted a chance to gain insight into what otherwise is hidden from us...'ourselves'!

For our Celtic ancestors Fire was important enough to have entire festival become a main focus for. What would Samhain or Bealtaine be without fire? Think about that for a bit.

3. Cover/Shelter 
   Your 1st defense against the elements is your clothing. Cover begins with what you are wearing in combination to the elements and environment you are in. Dress wisely when you are going outdoors. Know your fabrics, layering, know the weather and conditions of possibility. You may like Gore Tex, you may like down, some like wool hunting coats and oilskin match coats  each of us is different. Cover could be anything but not limited to the following: 
- A heavy duty survival space blanket.   They are usually red or orange on one side and reflective metallic silver mylar on the reverse. 
- A tarp, one with grommet holes I find works best.  Know how to create different types of tarp-shelters! You can achieve warm temperatures if constructed in combination with an emergency blanket. This could save you from hypothermia, Do your homework. 
- Those 55 gallon drum liners are great light weight options-as these things can be converted into a small sleeping sack, poncho, help gather water, or even help in shelter building. 
- A good heavy 100% wool blanket is worth its weight in gold. I stress heavy and 100% wool for many reasons. 

The Goal here is micro-climates and controlling your bodies core temperature. 

Why do I like 100% wool?
Wool is naturally flame retardant. This helps around camp fires. 
Wool helps regulate body temperature due to its moisture wicking ability
Wool is naturally hypoallergenic, meaning it is resistant to bacteria, mold, and mildew which are known to cause reactions in some people.
Wool is known to be dust mite free. Since mites like moisture they will seek others fabrics. Dust mites can trigger asthma attacks for some.
Wool retains its warmth (about 70-80%) even when it's soaking wet.
Wool when wet, dirty, greasy or grimy will still perform the same, this is not true of most synthetic fabrics.
Wool doesn't collect much static. Static attracts lint, dirt, and dust.
Wool is very durable. Properly cared for it will last a long time. Possibly longer than your life span. Many of us own vintage wool blankets today. 
Wool dyes well
Wool is easy to sew 
Wool has been used for thousands of years for all of the following reasons.

 Could you use a sleeping bag in place of a a heavy wool blanket?
   Of course, but the nice thing about using the wool blanket is that it can be used as a shelter, can be worn as a poncho or wrap style robe. You can also make it into a carry all or a pack-style carry. It is versatile. Where as to modify a sleeping bag causes loss of what its purpose is intended for. Depending on time of year, conditions, by all means use a sleeping bag! Going out into a late fall and winter environment with just a wool blanket is foolish. A military sleep system  is great for colder weather, though why not bring along that blanket as well for multi-use. 

~ Important Note: Not all wool blankets are created equal. Many are 70% wool with other synthetic fibers. Some 80% wool with 20% synthetics. Also, - Not all 100% wool blankets are created equal either. Some are lightweight and others somewhat heavier. For some odd reason here in the US it is increasingly difficult to obtain a good quality 100% heavy wool blanket. The devil is in the details, as we are looking for a quality item here. When you do find one they are expensive or have limited quantity. If you are looking for military wool blankets be careful! It is easy to get ripped off online. I would avoid sites like Ebay or Amazon unless you know for sure. If the description reads anything like "military style" wool blanket, or army "type" blanket and doesn't give you a percentage of wool, it's rubbish. Note the word 'style', & 'type' a dead giveaway that its illegitamate. If the price seems too good to be true, it most likely is fake. Anything generally under $50 will be fake or not worth it. If it lists the weight of the blanket and its not even close to 5 lbs. it is most likely fake, or a wool blend. Of course buy what you can afford, if you happen to find a 90% wool blanket thats under $20 by all means get a few. You could even sew them together. I once found some 80-20 wool blankets at Harbor Freight for under $10. They are not the greatest but again for under $10, I bought three. I sewed two of them together, and made a hunting shirt out of the third. They performed just fine for family tent camping. I wouldn't use them for a survival blanket. 
   There are good heavy weight wool blankets out there that are not military ie. Pendelton and Hudsons Bay six point (usually around the $250-350 and up.), some of them could work for your kit while others will not perform well and will even tear as they are made for indoor use. Do keep your eyes open while shopping at thrift stores. People often get rid of things they think are old and no longer valuable. Flea Markets & estate sales are wonderful places to look, even Craigslist. I once heard of a gentleman obtaining the following from an Amvets thrift store: Goretex Jacket shell jacket, small day pack, military 300 weight polartec jacket, and 2 good 100% wool blankets for a grand total of under $60. Now thats a steal of a deal! Just further proof that if you look around you can find good deals. 

Military blankets to keep an eye out for that are good to use: 

~Swedish Officers Blanket (so far it seems to be the softest) Next to impossible to find. Know anyone in Sweden?

~ Dutch Naval Blankets- White with Red stripes. They are big, soft, and thick. 

~Germany Military Grey (NVA or striped) be careful of modern reproductions. 

~ German Bundes-Eigentum brown blanket. be careful of modern reproductions.

~ Italian Officers Blanket (They are a medium coffee color not grey, or greenish) Look for the real ones by looking them up on Google in Italian. Be sure to use the words "official" ~ Coperta militare italiana da Ufficiali Esercito Italiano 100 x 100 Lana calda. La coperta Militare Italiana. 

*Note: The Italian Army has three blankets. A bunk or cot blanket, it often has a star on it. A field blanket, commonly called an officers blanket here in America but its not! There are many knockoffs of this blanket made in India or 90% not made in Italy. Lastly the real or official officers blanket, only sold currently by one company in Italy. They have an E.I. on them! 

~ Here is all three in a picture: 

~ Italian Naval Blanket- Blue with a white anchor on it. 

~ Italian Air Force Blanket- Blue and White with an Eagle in the center.

~ Italian Air Force Blanket/Vintage- Two tone Tan. Greek key scroll and an Eagle in the middle (One of my favorite blankets!) Super dense, warm, not that big, but soft!

~ Hungarian white wool blanket- 4 lbs. 64" wide by 72" long, dyes well.

~ Czech Army Issue wool blanket- 56" by 72" and 4 1/2 lbs. white with blue stripes.

~ Polish Grey Blanket- 60" x 79" 5lbs. 

~ Danish grey blanket with blue stripes. 59" by 67" (buy 2 and sew together) 4 1/2 lbs. 

~ CZECH REPUBLIC GREEN BLANKET - 52" by 82" and 4 1/2 lbs. 

~ GERMAN GRAY BLANKET WITH BLACK STRIPES- 52" by 80" and 4 1/2 lbs. dense and great for match coats. Many have yellow names or numbers stitched on them that can be removed. 

~ Bulgarian grey blanket with a black stripe. Hard to find

~ Bulgarian off white or cream wool blanket- 66" by 62" soft, dyes well, and weighs 4lbs. 

~ French Green wool blanket - many have yellow letters or numbers stitched on them, 

* Many good Military 100% wool blankets may have a heavy odor of moth balls. Simply hang it outside for a few days and it should be just fine. Even in the rain, just let it dry and be sure to flip in now and then. If it smells after a few days, let it get rained on more, and dry in a good wind. Hit it with some febreeze and let it dry. It'll be fine. Don't buy the hype of washing it or adding hair conditioner to the wash. Though if you must feel free to wash it in cold water only, with mild wool soap, or hand wash it in the tub and line dry it works even better. Never use a dryer for 100% wool blankets. Unless of course you want a baby blanket. 

Interested in a one of a kind super thick hand woven one at a time wool blanket? Look into getting a Baker's Bundle from Tony Baker. They run $400 + and are like the first Hudson Bay Blankets used by early pioneers. He only makes a few a year. They are expensive but a hand loomed/dyed thick 100% wool blanket is something you can pass to grandchildren. 

Tony Baker
Baker's Bundles
718 E. 500 South
Marion, IN 46953
Phone: (765) 517-2515

Also, if you are inclined to carry things like a small backpacking tent, a covered hammock, a goretex bivy, so be it; they all work great for cover or in combination with one another. Remember, two is one, one is none. Cover/shelter options are endless. Since I brought up clothing something should be said about Boots.

     It has been said that we spend most of time on our feet or on our backs. Invest in good boots and in a good bed. Take care of your feet and your back. A good night sleep in the woods is vital, so cover/comfort is important. Boots for your feet are also just as important. Every persons feet are unique, you might have foot problems or some sort. You may go through hiking boots in a yearly fashion. This is my suggestion- Invest in a good pair of boots that will last you years, many many years. The kind you can break in and have re-soled. Expect to pay anywhere from $300-600 for a great pair of boots. Yes that seems like way too much, but if they last 10+ years it evens out. Gore Tex can break down in a year or three, and then you have a leather boot with lining that doesn't work that you paid decent money for. I would suggest a good quality all leather boot that you can treat with something like Obenaufs Heavy Duty LP.  Currently I wear Alico Summit Backpacking Hiking Boots but have heard wonderful things about Limmer boots made by Peter Limmer and Sons in New Hampshire. You could pay good money for boots like; Asolo, Vasque, Scarpa, Zamberlan. Don't get me wrong, lots of their models are awesome. I've worn a few myself, and even as I type this I'm considering a pair of Zamberlans. It does depend on what you use your boots for, how often you wear them, etc. Feet, treat em' right - Oh and socks... get good socks! 

My Druid Thoughts on Wool Blankets
Let us give thanks to the sheep and its gifts. Ancient people often kept sheep for what they could obtain from the animal as not all of them were seen as merely a food source. It was an amazing renewable resource for them that provided a means of shelter, comfort and even for trade. There was a time ancient Romans wore Celtic cloaks as a sign of their wealth. I think back to the arts of drop spinning, making and using a loom, and it is something of great respect I have for these ancestral weavers. There is a reason our Celtic ancestors used wool for their tunics, pants, dresses, cloaks, and later their coats & kilts. It is still a fiber modern science has yet to replicate. 

(Sings) Yit wisnae for the weavers whit wid we do
            We wadna hae claith made o' oor woo'
            We widnae hae a coat, neither black or blue
            If it wisnafor the wark o' the weavers

~ Did you know? 
The  Breacan an Fhéilidh (belted plaid) or Feileadh Mòr (great plaid) has its roots from the Celtic Brat (Cloak) The Great Kilt which was generally woven on a loom that created a 25-30" inch wide product at about 9 yards long was then cut in half and sewn to create a 60" inch wide product of about 4 yards total to be worn belted. Before the mid 1600's the Scots just as the Irish wore Tunics and Cloak. This Cloak was the jacket of the time and could be worn many ways by both men and women. To learn more on the Celtic cloak and to see good examples on the many ways it was worn please follow this link to a post I wrote on just that. 'How to wear a Cloak' You can wear your wool blanket the same way. 

4. Container.
    I would suggest something heavy duty with the ability to boil water in. A 32 oz.18/8 stainless steel canteen with a wide mouth is a good choice. Why 32 oz? Most popular methods of water purification require a container of 32 oz. container, so its just easier to do the math that way. Again, shopping around will provide useful options. You may find something at a dollar store that will work for you until you upgrade to a better bottle like Klean Kanteen. Be sure to examine the inside of the bottle you are looking into. Are there seems? Is there a seem on the bottom, and while holding it can you indent the metal by sqeezing it? It might be too flimsy? All bottles will have seems, though the type of seem is important and if you compare a good quality stainless steel water bottle to a dollar store aluminum bottle you will notice the difference in quality, which ultimately is about how it will perform being used over the fire. I carry a 64 oz Klean Kanteen in my pack for trips, but I do have other sizes like 40 oz and 27 oz. It is always with some other water things like a lifestraw or a sawyer mini. My EDC water carry is: The Ultimate Bottle Cooking Kit 2

Which includes: 32oz. Stainless steel bottle & cup set  
                        Stove & Grill Top
                          A fire striker
                          Package of micro infernos
                          Bottle hanger
                          Light my fire Titanium Spork
                          Water bottle bag that carries everything plus room for more.
(Which I store a multi-tool, fire kit add ons, and have added 25 feet of Paracord for cordage.) A nice little compact kit of various items that stores compact and I use daily.

I like it because I can carry a small EDC Fire kit in the pockets, attach things to its MOLLE webbing, I can attach it to my pack, my belt, it is very versatile. You may find another system works better for you, and thats the point. 
    Carry what works for you. Don't just buy something because it's popular & it's promoted by someone. I always recommend that you field test your gear, beat the hell out of it to see if it stands the test of time. For a long time I carried a military issue canteen with stainless steel canteen cup. It worked great for what I used it for, and I still keep it in my car; thats if my kids are not using it. 

My Druid Thoughts on Containers
To reflect. Imagine being somewhere and having to make a container because you didn't have one. The energy it takes to do this causes loss of calories and I can tell you, its not easy if you don't have the right tools. A vital strategy of survival is the calorie crunch. If you look at primitive cultures today even in the most remote parts of the rainforest they will often have somewhat modern containers to cook or boil water in. When I carry my 18/8 stainless steel bottles or bush pots I often think of the ancient past, how people on the move had to lug around iron. Thank goodness they had carts, wagons, and horses. For a moment think of what it would be like to carve bowls from wood, make woven baskets from natural cordage, and things of this nature. Trades and skills that are becoming rapidly lost to us. Learn these skills if you can and share the knowledge with others before things like this are lost. Can you boil water in a carved out bowl using the rocks from a fire? You sure can, it might be a great idea to learn how. 
    There are many ways to cook food, and boil water if you do not have a container. An insight into primitive skills is a good place to do your research and begin trying these techniques out. I have listed some wonderful book sources at the end of this article. Remember to ask yourself when you look around, "What resources do I see that will help me in the task I need to perform?" Nature can provide but it is up to you to have the know how. Cody Lundin says: "The more you know, the less you need." He's got a very good point; Learn those ancient skills! 

5. Cordage.
    Something that is not easy to obtain in nature without a serious amount of work and loss of calories is rope. It is best to have the know how in case of a situation, but there are some options to carry that will make your life so much easier. There are two main types people often carry. 
    Lets start with Paracord  Always read the fine print. It should be 550Lb test strength, with 7 inner strands. There are cheap versions out there that are just fibers inside a nylon shell calling themselves Paracord, and they will not give you the options real Paracord will. I will not get into all the things cordage can be used for, but real 550lb test 7 strand paracord is wonderful stuff. 
    The next popular type of cordage is what many people call Bank line. This tarred (somewhat tacky) rope can be found where they sell cat fishing supplies. You may find it at Walmart, or Bass Pro. shops or even online. Sometimes called Mariners Line  it can also be broken down into smaller strands. Bank line comes in various test strengths and I've seen it online at very affordable prices. Each of these options are good to carry, I personally carry some of each. I keep different hanks of either 25 feet or 50 feet of paracord as I find carrying a hank of a 100ft often tangles in the field. Paracord comes in many colors, so depending if you are wishing to stay hidden or be rescued consider this before you buy some. I love the camo, and the olive drab but having some bright orange cord is nice. You can see it, you wont trip on it while walking around camp and its just one more option of being spotted for rescue. They make a glow in the dark option but I have never seen it in person, and don't know anything about it. 

Druid Thoughts on Cordage
     As stated it is good to know what to use, and how to make cordage in the wilderness. Your rope can be lost, run out, get ruined and then what? Also good to look into is how to make cordage from sinew. Natural textiles are the first things to disappear in the archeological record. They break down and return to the earth whence they came. Leather, sinew, and other ropes made of fiber like Nettle and Hemp were once all that we had. They were used by people for everyday functions as we use cordage today. Think back to the Neolithic and the builders of Stonehenge, the roping off of those giant stones, this was all done with natural cordage! Think of the many ships the Celts and Vikings had, all those ropes were natural, all the way down to the explorers & the ones on the Mayflower. For some reason many of us think that a natural rope is inferior, look at Ötzi the Iceman;Ötzi                   he too was using natural fiber cordage. All of the first people to climb Mt. Everest used natural cordage. It is a skill worth learning. When you use your bank line, or your paracord remember that just because you didn't have to make it doesn't mean you shouldn't know how to make cordage if need be. Since we are talking about rope, why not learn a good five knots or so to add to your metal tool kit. It will come in handy for setting up camp with tarps. Here is a link to learn how:

6. Compass. I like the Silva Ranger 515 Compass myself, but the important things is to just buy a good one. A button compass has its place, and that is meant for back up. Many of them do not work well. You can buy a nice compass for under $50. Look for something that has a mirror, and a moveable bezel. Some even have a small magnifying lens built into them. Just another multi-purpose item for fires. Know how to use your compass! For navigation & for signaling. It is a valuable tool often underestimated and not used enough. All people... I stress, ALL PEOPLE wander and drift when not able to sight a source to aim for. You can not reach a point blindfolded in a field. Here is a fun experiment: with a friend in a large wide open flat field take turns trying to reach a very far off point blind folded. Walk behind them and eventually you will see them drift from their course. Sometimes they will even circle back without knowing it. 

Druid Thoughts On navigation.
      People for thousands of years didn't have compasses, yet they navigated by land and sea trading and traveling afar. With the attitude of the more you know the less you need, you can apply your bushcraft knowledge to this subject as well. Say your compass is lost, you don't have a back up, or even your small one is broken. There are means of navigating using nature. I would suggest learning how to read the woods, the sun, stars and even moon to be able to fashion a means for direction. The how to's are out there, learn them and practice them. 
      Can you imagine Bronze Age sailors, the ones responsible for creating and using the Nebra Sky Disk,  or others on the ancient amber routes for travel and trade. It is all amazing to us, yet it was the only world they knew. If they were able to use such skills, we can to. If only we maintain a positive attitude and keep on with perseverance. A positive attitude goes a long way in combination with education. Let nature be your guide. 

7. Candling Device (Headlamp)
   Why a headlamp and not a flashlight? Have you ever tried setting up camp, building a fire or anything that otherwise requires using your hands while its dark? Yes, I carry a flashlight sometimes two, a good one and a smaller very reliable back up in my EDC pack. Though my EDC and my recommendation will always be a handsfree light of some type. 
   What you want to pay attention to
Is it water resisant/proof? 
What kind of batteries does it take? 
How long does the battery life last? 
Are there flash or strobe options? 
What is the brightness (lumens), and are there settings for different power levels? 

   Not that you should be wandering around in the dark, but if trying to be rescued; Perhaps you are lucky enough to be walking down a dark rural road, a strobe or flash option is valuable to have. There are many great headlamps out there and if you keep in mind the things to look out for, you'll be all the better off.

Weight. 88 grams
Wide or focused beam pattern
Max. 80 lumens
Max distance. 68 meters
Max battery life. 190 hours
Takes 3 AAA compatible: alkaline, lithium, rechargeable Ni-MH, rechargeable Ni-Cd
Water resistant
Has a tiny whistle for emergency attached to head band
Switches between High, Efficiency, and Strobe
Also Has red light option, and red strobe

My Druid Thoughts on Torches
    Just as in the above with the topic of fire and light, something about pulling a log from the fire to see your way into the dark conjures up images of old. How people made and used torches long ago is still a skill to be valued. It is not as easy as one thinks simply pulling a log from the fire to see what's out there. Though there are many good ways one can build a natural torch. I would suggest learning a few ways in case one of them simply isn't working well. 
   I admire those ancient ancestors who braved those deep caverns in france  to paint and capture images from a world that is lost to us. By torch light, they mixed pigments, blew paint from their mouths, and created art, leaving us a record of a time in history we can only dream about. Such beasts like the wooly mammoth, dire wolf, cave bear, wooly rhinosours and giant heards of bison and deer roamed grasslands, as ice sheets still covered areas of much of europe. Hunting with sharpened stone spears, and possibly being hunted themselves, this had to be a time of extreme survival. A an interaction with a human species (Neanderthal) that was completely alien to themselves must have been mind blowing. Conjecture exists here that our redhair DNA comes from interbreeding with their species from a Blonde mutation. When I hold a torch and look into the darkness I can almost hear the sound of a language that I do not understand. I can feel a something within me that is them. A connection to history and an unknown spirituality that they revrenced. That I am here because of them. 

8. Cotton Bandana. 
   The versatility of a cotton cloth or bandana has so many functions it would be hard to list. I will try and name just a few so you can see why I carry a few with me. 

- To be used for First Aid, cuts or wounds, tieing off something.
- To be used for rescue. A bright color like orange would help in this
- To use for making char cloth for fire starting
- To use for filtering sediment of merky water
- To protect your head from the elements
- To use for basic camp clean up
- To use for tieing pieces to trees for finding you in the woods
- To make a sling with which to use stones for hunting small game
There are so many more.
What is important is that it is cotton, and that it is large enough. You could easily go to a craft store and buy what you like and use that. Often suggested is a 3'x3' square of cotton cloth for addition to the common bandana. I like Orange because it stands out in the woods. 

Druid Thoughts on Cloth
    Think back to a time when cloth 1st appeared in our history. We went from leather, hides, fur, and woven grasses to working with drop spinning, looms, weaving and sewing things of fine delicate and complex patterns. Flax Linen was a wide spread textile used for everything we use cotton for today. In combination with wool such material allowed not only a more comfortable standards of living, but gave them an ability to artistically express themselves as a culture helping them to define who they were at times just by style of dress. Can you not see the Celtic Chieftain dressed in his large check pattern plaids, variegated wool tweed like tunics of various colors. Layers of linen and wool, heavy cloaks for inclement weather fastened by a fibula. Beautiful! 

   A heavy duty needle/canvas needle to use for punching through thick material. You can magnetize these with 100% silk cloth or a good magnet to be used for a compass, sew up torn gear or yourself if you must. You could carry some heavy duty upholstery thread with you as well. It is very useful, light weight and is extra cordage for things. To carry a few different size needles is also not a problem, they take up no space in a sewing it or pocket fishing kit. 

My Druid Thoughts on Needles
   Can you imagine our early ancestors working with the same size needles we do today fashioned out of bone? How did they drill the eye on those things? There have been many needles found from the Neolithic period, some of them still in perfect shape and sharp! We can easily go to a craft store and buy a needle but for us to make one would prove futile and often impractical. Why not could carry one or two, after all they weigh nothing. Picture if you will these Neolithic people working with stone and bone around a fire, threading a bone needle with sinew to sew hides and furs required for their daily lives. You can almost hear the women chatting just as they do today. I wonder what they were talking about? I bet if you listen carefully to the sound deep within yourself you can understand that conversation. 

   100 mile an hour tape, Military duct tape, Gorilla tape; These are all very good choices to carry. Many have said that if duct tape cant fix it, it isn't really broken. You can make and repair so many things with these types of tape. From First Aid, to almost anything, it does come in handy. Fix your boots or tarp shelter, torn poncho, all sorts of stuff, even fletching for making arrows. 
I carry a small 2'' wide roll of Gorilla tape in my EDC, but on longer trips I carry a wider and bigger roll. Again a multi purpose item is better any day than a tool that serves only one purpose. 

Druid Thoughts on Sticky Stuff
   It has often been said if ancient people had duct tape and super glue the world as we know it would be very different. What would our ancestors know of tape? No doubt they used sticky things of a glue like nature, certain plants when chewed or even making pine pitch style adhesives and adding leather and sinew would have been their tape and glue. It is these Primitive wilderness skills we should learn to honestly appreciate as we carry around a roll of tape. On that, why not learn how to make some sticky stuff out in the bush. 

~ Did you know?
Neanderthals for thousands of years were making and using a well made pitch from birch and pine resins to use to secure the sinew on and around their spears. It is quite possible that we learned the skill from them. You could ask my wife she's part Neanderthal with that natural red hair of hers. I kid. 

  * The above items in combination with the knowledge of how to use them for multipurpose applications will be a blessing in disguise. The following 5 items could been seen as redundant, but worth mentioning or adding to your pack.


11. Cutting tool #2
   Above we have listed 'a good knife'. This cutting tool #2 item should be an option to carry. Many chose a good quality folding saw. They are lightweight, perform wonderfuly and save on your knife. Why bother chopping small wood down with your knife, when you have a saw to do the job much easier. You may chose a backpacking axe depending on the location and conditions you'll be in. They are both very valuable items to consider in bushcrafting or backpacking. For the next to nothing weight of a folding saw, why not also carry a small back packing axe?
I carry the Bacho Laplander  folding saw in my EDC. Anytime I will be out for more than 2-3days I will carry my vintage Gränsfors Bruk Small boys Axe that was my Grandfathers (made between 1916-1940) in addition to the folding saw. Here are some Axe companies with models that would be suitable for your needs. I look forward to obtaining quite a few of these myself so I can pass them on to my children and grandchildren someday. I like camp axes that are around 18-23 inches in total length, anything longer for a backpack is a bit of a burden unless you have conveyance. 

Some affordable options

Check out this review of their product compared to other popular more expensive axes.
Carpenters Axe $50
Traditional Multi-Purpose Axe $70
Hatchet $30

Marbles Axes:

Condor Axes: 

Greenland pattern axe 16"  $47
Woodworker axe $ 47
Scout Hatchet $43
Swedish pattern 34" long. $60
Greenland pattern axe 26" long $56
Danish Pattern Axe 34" $60

Higher Priced Axes
Gränsfors Axes
Gränsfors Bruks Ray Mears Wilderness Axe - kind of expensive but a great inventment
Gränsfors Wildlife Hatchet
Gränsfors Outdoor Axe
Gränsfors Hunter’s Axe
Gränsfors Small Forest Axe - Very popular and widely used. Usually around $130
Gränsfors Scandinavian Forest Axe
Also see their: adzes, draw knives, froe, splitting axes, files and stones

Wetterlings Axes:
Wilderness Hatchet
Outdoor Axe
Bushman Axe by Les Stroud
Foresters fine axe
Scandinavian Forest Axe
splitting wedge

Hultafors Axes:
Trekking Axe
Hunting Axe- CLASSIC
Felling Axe HY20

12. A 2nd Container.
   This could be anything from another canteen with nesting cup, a larger heavy duty water holder, or even a basic mess/cook kit/bush pot. The point here is one is none. If you are able to boil water and cook something at the same time, it is rather nice. Remember to create a container from a natural means expends calories you may not have, it could fail, or you might be in a position where the resources are not available. A container that you can boil or cook in is very valuable. Self reliance outfitters sells a Bushpot that I love.   

13. 2% tincture of iodine.
   This is most frequently used to treat water. Pregnant women, breast feeding women, and those with health problems should NOT use this! Using this is not a permant solution to maintaining potable water, but should get you through conditions where otherwise water is unhealthy to drink. Again, knowing the many ways to purify water to make it safe to drink is what this about. You could chose to carry a water filter, a life straw, or even other water purification tablets found in camping-sporting goods stores. I would suggest a life straw, and a back packing water filter because they are fool proof, light weight and Id rather be safe than sick on a long trip. Iodine is good to have, but anyone thats used it will tell you, it's nasty!

14. Sharpener.
   Know how to sharpen and care for your knife! You can use the right rock, your leather belt, etc. Carrying a good small diamond sharpener with you saves time and effort. There are many affordable options and they can be found in stores and online alike. They weigh virtually nothing, and are small enough that for how well it works, the why not carry it opinion outweighs the why bother attitude. If you take good care of your knife, it will be there for you to perform properly when you need it. 

15. Slingshot bands (55lb pull strength)
The bands can be used on a fashioned sling shot in the feild if not already carrying a sling shot. You could use them in a pinch to drink from like a straw from a puddle of fresh rain water, you could even burn them to make some black smoke for signaling. I would also add to this some ranger bands. They come in handy to fasten things to other items, weigh nothing, and are also multi-purpose. Ok you could pick up a Pocket Hunting sling shot ;-)

~ If possible take some courses. There is nothing better than the experience of hands on learning from someone that is qualified to teach the skills required. Look into your local area to see about qualified teachers. You may also wish to use some vacation time to attend some classes taught by leading professionals in this field. Many of them offer a 4 day class worth every penny. 

On 'Kits'

I have never been one to buy a pre-made kit sold by anyone. I have looked at their contents and made my own based on my own needs, and location. There are so many variables: 

- What you do for a living? Are you in law enforcement, a fire fighter, 1st responder. Maybe your just an outdoorsman or a good ole average day hiker?

- Where do you travel/envrionment? Where are you most often in your daily routine. How can you pack/plan for that? What region and seasons do you encounter, what weather is in your region?

- Are you packing for children often with you? You may be a parent and be responsible for little ones. Do you have a few books, a few toys and snacks? The psychological mindset of the child during an event is important. If you can remain clam and show them while facing a challenge that you are composed they will not be as frightened as if they see you panic. 

- Medical needs? Do you suffer from any medical conditions? Do you have back up or extra medicine with you in your personalized kit?

The point here is only you will know in time what to carry with you for the where and when. Even with this, things can and do change per season. Is your kit a belt pouch, a backpack, a tote you keep in your car. Lots to consider. Keeping in mind the above 10 C's, and other items lets look at some other items that some of us carry in our kits, cars, bags and pouches. Why? Because as Adam Francis says on his Equip to Endure (E2E) youtube channel, "If you're not always prepared, you're never prepared." He's got a great point there. BTW: His channel is full of reviews and wonderful content. 

Other items that may come in handy:

Multi tool: The Leatherman Wave is the standard it seems. 

Swiss champ knife is a great tool

Sealine dry bags

The Pathfinder Pocket Hunter with take down arrows for your slingshot

A Pocket Fishing kit

Rat Traps, and or other snares or traps

A take down bow and arrows

Guns and ammo for hunting and protection

and so many more! 


Some Wood Tools to have around the house

Felling axes 4-5 LBS
Camp axes
Carpenters axes
Take down buck saw drywood baco blade
fro or froe - splitting wood
Draw knives
Spoke shave for fine carving
Carving knives 

Winter Car kit ideas: YMMV

Wd40 pen
Tool Kit
550lb 7 strand para cord
adjust 6'' crescent wrench
allen wrench set
jb weld tubes
eletrical needle nose pliers
channel lock pliers
elec. wire
carpenter penic w/ tape
heavy duty zip ties
tire gauge
mini sharpie
mini pry bar
driver bit set
gorilla tape
locking pliers
tow rope
mini strobe light
road flares
extra batteries
glow sticks
$20 in cash
extra windshield fluid
gas can/funnel 
flashlight/and headlamp
bow saw or small folding saw
axe or hatchet 
heavy 100% wool blanket
mylar blanket
few gallons of water
drinks- tea bags, powdered energy drinks
a few good books to read
bic lighters
packable snow shovel
sunglasses- snow blindness takes a few moments and is paralyzing.
hand-feet warmers
solar cell phone charger
fix a flat
extra medication if you take meds daily, ie inhalers
small medical kit- asprins, etc 
a few toys if you have children
18/8 stainless steel water bottle
heat/rock salt
jumper cables
road reflector triangle
tire iron
spare tire
plug converter for lighter plug

My favorite Survival & Bushcraft Book List

Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival by Dave Canterbury

Advanced Bushcraft: An Expert Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival by Dave Canterbury

When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes by Cody Lundin 

SAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere by John 'Lofty' Wiseman

Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties: The Classic Guide to Building Wilderness Shelters (Dover Books on Architecture) By D.C. Beard

SAS Urban Survival Handbook: How to Protect Yourself Against Terrorism, Natural Disasters, Fires, Home Invasions, and Everyday Health and Safety Hazards by John 'Lofty' Wiseman

Primitive Skills and Crafts: An Outdoorsman's Guide to Shelters, Tools, Weapons, Tracking, Survival, and More by Richard Jamison

Primitive Technology II: Ancestral Skill - From the Society of Primitive Technology by David Wescott

The Outdoor Survival Handbook: A Guide To The Resources & Material Available In The Wild & How To Use Them For Food, Shelter, Warmth, & Navigation by Ray (Raymond) Mears

~ Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope it is a valuable source for your needs. Remember ~ "Let Nature Nurture your Nature!" & May the Force be with you.