A Journal of Celtic Spirituality and Sacred Trees

Issue 2, July 1993

In This Issue:
Out On a Limb: Editorial - Imré Rainey
If You Can Only Use it Once, It's Not Worth Using - Brighid MoonFire
From Brighid's Hearth: Preparing Herbs - Brighid MoonFire
Folklore and Practical Uses: Oak - Muirghein ó Dhún Aonghasa (Linda Kerr)
Lunar Energies and Esoterica: Oak - Epona & Imré
Poetry: Oak - Fion
Poetry: Neck Pain - Raven
Poetry: Circle - Raven
Mistletoe - Brighid MoonFire
Oak Moon Meditation - Brighid MoonFire
Letters to the Editor
Bubbles From the Cauldron - book reviews, etc.

Publisher: The Garden Club
Editor: Imré Rainey
Editorial Assistant: Muirghein ó Dhún Aonghasa (Linda Kerr)
Staff Writer: Brighid MoonFire (Michelle Bell)
Cover art by Imré Rainey

THE HAZEL NUT, Volume I, Issue 2, Copyright © 1993 The Garden Club. July 1993, Oak Moon. THE HAZEL NUT is published monthly by The Garden Club. All rights reserved. Copyright reverts to the individual artist or writer upon publication. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the editor and author.

Opinions expressed by authors do not necessarily reflect the views of he editor and The Garden Club. The publisher and editor make every effort to ensure the accuracy of all information published, but cannot be held liable for errors, changes, or omissions, or for any incurrances from the application or the practice of any matter contained herein.

THE HAZEL NUT is the official publication of The Garden Club. Its purpose is to provide a forum for networking, personal contacts, and research and information, as well as to spread understanding of the bedrock of our tradition, the Celtic tree calendar/alphabet (Beth-Luis-Nion system) as researched and explained by Robert Graves in The White Goddess. Each issue, in addition to our regular articles, we will feature one or more of the lunar trees; its herbal uses, folklore, esoterica, and other aspects. In this we hope to help you make the most of the trees and the lunar energies in a positive way.
Oak is the seventh tree in the Celtic tree calendar. It usually occurs around June or July, and this year it runs from June 19-July 18.


Imagine spending three to four days in the woods, celebrating knowledge and its sharing amongst Pagan family and friends. Imagine sitting, surrounded by fellow seekers, listening to a voice of experience teaching you about Pagan dancing and its purposes, about channeling and creative imagery, about natural healing and the art of rune casting; all the while knowing that you have shamanic journeying, Unitarian-Universalism, and three days of learning still to come.
Now, imagine a circle of fire encompassing thirty people as they chant and dance; forming a mystical boundary so Nature and Her mysteries may be shared and worshiped; as was done thousands of years ago amongst the wise of the Earth.
How wonderful! You have just visualized Moondance '93 -- a festival of knowledge presented by The Garden Club. Friends from Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Alabama joined our family for the 4-day festival over the Memorial Day weekend. Thank you all for helping us maintain a peaceful, eclectic, intellectual, and wildly Pagan environment. We hope to see you again at Moondance '94, scheduled for the weekend of May 12-15, Thursday through Sunday.


Epona suggested that, instead of ripping my hair out while trying to put aspects of the lunar mysteries into words, I explain to you how difficult it is to verbalize or, much worse, write that which has existed for eons, but has remained a part of understanding that has only come through experience. There are infinite aspects to the lunars. Each tree has its own mythology and myster-ies, yet they are all related -- as should be expected in a spiraling and continuous reality. Attempting to explain these mysteries is like describing Disneyland to a Zulu bushman. Yet, even though it seems impossible, it isn't, because everyone experiences each lunar -- although at different levels. So when we are attempting to describe the euphoria that is felt during Oak, most people will understand it, even though some will experience it as a state of peace after Hawthorn, while some will be bouncing off the walls without knowing why.
We sincerely hope that by giving you our perspective of the moons, the trees, and the energies of each month, that you will benefit by knowing that you are not going crazy, but that you are a human experiencing something that, I feel, exists and has existed since the beginning of time. If you feel that we are missing an important point or that you are experiencing the moons in a different way, please contact us and help us to grow. We hope to achieve a medium for progress in our paths and yours through the sharing of knowledge; so please send us your correspondences and we will gladly respond.

Blessed Be! - Imré


by Brighid MoonFire

Every day in America, human beings are becoming more like monkeys. See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. If we don't see it or hear about it, then it must not be happening. And we wouldn't want to offend anyone by saying something that they may not want to hear, now would we?
Well, guess what. It happens anyway, whether or not the human population wants to stand up and recognize it. Our mother Earth is becoming a vast waste dump for our trash and disposable lifestyle. And one of the best solutions is also one of the easiest -- RECYCLE!!
Recycling can be easy, fun, and challenging. We try to recycle everything we can around our house. If it can't be recycled, put into compost, or the dog won't eat it, then I try not to buy it. And good managing of what you bring into your household is a good way to limit what your household throws out.
So what can be recycled? Paper (computer paper, office paper, cardboard), glass (all colors), plastic (generally only 1 and 2), corrugated cardboard, aluminum (cans, foil, pie plates), tires, motor oil, steel cans. Check in your local yellow pages for the recycling center nearest you and give them a call to find out what they take.
I find it generally helps me to remember to choose only recyclable products when shopping if I take my own bags with me. Cloth or net bags are available from a variety of different sources and are stronger than the plastic bags at the grocery stores, and they have convenient handles unlike the paper bags. But be ready for some confused looks from your baggers at the store. Many of them aren't ready for you to answer "cloth" to their "paper or plastic?" question.
So what do you do with products that can't be easily recycled? Items like clothing, furniture, or broken-down appliances? Give them away. Many places will take broken appliances or furniture. Some will pay cash for them; others will give you a receipt for tax deductions. Look in your yellow pages for Social Services to locate a few of these places. Homeless and battered women's shelters are always on the lookout for clothing and children's toys.
What happens if your city or town doesn't have a recycling center that takes a large variety of recyclables? Check the nearest large city. Stock your recyclables until you go on a shopping trip. Find out if any of your neighbors or friends work there and see if they would be agreeable to taking the recyclables in for you. Start local pressure to expand your recycling center. Or you can also try to not buy anything that isn't recyclable in your area. We're fortunate enough to live in a large city that does have a good recycling center. It doesn't pay out any money for your trash, but the money that it gets goes to help support the city zoo.
OK, so WHY should you recycle? Well, how about these reasons...

Each year Americans throw away:

2 billion razors
220 million tires
30 billion tin cans
2.5 billion batteries
50 million tons of paper
80 million auto batteries
25 billion styrofoam cups
18 billion disposable diapers
35 billion tons of yard waste

Trash collected by volunteers during a 3-hour cleanup along 157 miles of Texas beaches in 1987:
31,773 plastic bags
30,295 plastic bottles
15,631 plastic six-pack rings
28,540 plastic lids
1,914 disposable diapers
1,040 tampon applicators
7,460 milk jugs

We could rebuild our entire commercial air fleet with the aluminum cans we throw away every three months.
75,000 trees are used to make one edition of the New York Times Sunday newspaper.
14 billion pounds of trash are thrown into the sea every year -- that equates to about 1.5 million pounds per hour.
As many as 100,000 marine mammals die each year after ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic debris.


National Recycling Coalition
A coalition of recycling companies and organizations.

Coalition for Recyclable Waste
P.O. Box 1091
Absecon, NJ 08201

The Entanglement Network
c/o Defenders of Wildlife
1244 19th St., NW
Washington, DC 20460


What Can I Do to Make a Difference? by Richard Zimmerman, 1991, The Penguin Group, New York, NY.


by Brighid MoonFire

In our last publication I talked about the use of herbs in pest repellents, and made mention of different ways to prepare the herbs, including infusions or decoctions. It occurred to me that many of you out there may not know exactly what these terms mean. (Of course, I though of this after we had gone to press.) In the future when I do this, please feel free to call or write in and yell "time out!", "back it up," and "what are you talking about?"
There are three basic liquid types of herbal preparations: infusions, decoctions, and tinctures.
Infusions are the simplest and common method. If you can make tea, then you can make an infusion. Use an infusion if the herb part(s) you are working with are the leaves, flowers, or green stems. You can use fresh or dried herbs (1 part dried herb can be replaced with 3 parts fresh herb). Use one teaspoonful of dried herb and pour one cup of boiling water over it; let it steep for 10-15 minutes before straining. You can also use muslin teabags or teaballs to hold the herbs. If you use large quantities of this tea, then keep your stock in a jar or bottle in the refrigerator.
Decoctions are used if you are working with the roots, bark, or nuts of a plant. Cut up fresh parts or grind the dried ingredients. Put the herb into a non-aluminum pot, add water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain while hot and drink.
Tinctures are preservative mixtures that are made with alcohol and herbs, and are very concentrated. Therefore, the amount you will take will be quite small compared to the infusions or decoctions. The amounts of the herb that you put into the bottle vary. I've heard anywhere from four to seven ounces, although I still think it depends on the size bottle you're using. A good method is one from Susan Weed, who says add the herbs until they fill the jar and the contents are spongy -- they give a little. You don't want them hardpacked. Then cover them with a liquor that is at least 30% alcohol (60 proof). Vodka works well. Keep the jar in a warm place and shake well twice a day for two weeks. Then strain the liquid through muslin or cheesecloth and keep in a tightly closed dark bottle or in a dark place. If you prefer not to use alcohol, cider vinegar can be used instead. Dosages of tinctures vary, depending on the tincture, but it usually goes from three to 10 drops. They can be taken straight or in water. They can also be put into compresses or baths, or made into ointments using cocoa butter or beeswax.


by Muirghein ó Dhún Aonghasa (Linda Kerr)

Quercus alba L. -- White Oak. Canada southward to the Gulf of Mexico, as far west as Texas.
Q. rubra L. -- Northern Red Oak. Same range as White oak.
Q. velutina Lam.- Black Oak. Same range as White Oak.
Q. robur L. -- English Oak. British Isles, Europe, North Africa, West Asia, naturalized in the American northeast; planted in southeast and Pacific Coast.

Description & History

The Oak has come to symbolize strength and endurance, and clearly displays these qualities in the long life and tremendous size of some species. English oaks grow very slowly, the trunk of some rarely exceeding 20" in diameter in 80 years (1). This neck-breaking pace slows down even more when they reach 100 years old -- increasing by less than 1" per year. However, the wood from these slowly-maturing oaks is practically indestructible; "logs have been dug from peat bogs, in good preservation and fit for rough building purposes, that were submerged a thousand years ago (2)."
English oaks reach a great girth in their old age; some have measured 36'-46' in girth, with the spreading branches extending over 300' in circumference. The Courthorpe Oak in Yorkshire is 70' around. King Arthur's Round Table was made from a single slice of oak (3). At this size, the interior of these oaks are usually decayed and hollow in the center, and their age has been estimated at one to two thousand years (4). Gog and Magog are two remaining trees of an avenue of oaks leading towards Glastonbury Tor. When the rest of the avenue was cut down in 1906, someone from the timber firm remembered one of the oaks being 11 feet in diameter, and more than 2000 season-rings were counted (5).
There are approximately 58 species of oaks, ranging in size and shape from tall and straight to low and spreading, with most of these in America. Not all oaks are deciduous; Quercus coccifera, the kermes oak, is a prickly evergreen native to the Mediterranean. Another evergreen oak is the holm oak, Q. ilex, native to the Mediterranean and to America, which also has thorny leaves, similar to a holly (Ilex is the genera name of hollies, which are usually, but not always, evergreen; holm is a old country name for holly).
The timber of the oak is both hard and tough; other trees are harder or tougher, but no one tree has both of these qualities in such a degree as the English oak. Its elasticity and strength made the English oak invaluable in shipbuilding; so much so that Phillip of Spain gave orders to the Armada to burn and destroy every oak in the Forest of Dean in England, so as to cripple their navy. A century later, over a period of 25 years, nearly 17,000 loads of oak timber were sent from this same forest to the British naval dockyards (6). In America, the evergreen live oak (Q. virginiana Mill.) and the white oak were used in shipbuilding. The wood of the white oak is still used for whiskey and wine barrels.
The bark of most oaks yields a tannic acid; the English oak bark was employed in tanning leather. In America, tanners used the chestnut oak (Q. prinus L.), which has a very high tannin content. An infusion of the bark, with copperas added, gives a purplish dye, which the English used to dye wool, and the Scottish Highlanders use to dye their yarn. Oak bark with salts of iron yields a black dye; with salt of tin, yellow. The American Indians dyed their skins red with the bark of the chestnut oak (7), and black oak was used for tannin, medicine, and yellow dye.
Acorns were a staple food of the American Indians; rinsed, dried, and pounded into a flour, and used for bread, pudding, soup, etc. A year's supply for a family would be 500 lbs. of acorns (8). Most acorns must be rinsed or boiled several times to remove the bitter tannin, but the acorns of the swamp chestnut oak (Q. michauxii Nutt.) are sweet, and can be eaten raw, without boiling (9). Acorns are very nourishing, containing carbohydrates (45%) in the form of starch, 43% fat, and 5.2% protein (10). The word acorn is derived from Æcern in Old English, which comes from acer, a field. Grigson says it may have meant the produce of the field, and that it was turned it into 'acorn;' as in the 'corn' or fruit of the oak (11).

Medicinal Uses

Of the oaks common to the United States, the bark of the white oak is the most medicinally useful, being strongly astringent and antiseptic, and slightly tonic and hemostatic. It is useful for agues (a fever like malaria), and is a good substitute for Quinine for fever, especially when taken with chamomile flowers. Working tanners in early century England were quite resistant to consumption (tuberculosis of the lungs), as they worked with and freely inhaled powdered oak bark. A snuff can be made from the freshly collected oak bark, dried and ground to a fine powder, and taken for this ailment (12).
Oak bark tea is a good astringent gargle or mouthwash for the mouth and throat (especially chronic sore throats), and can also be applied locally to bleeding gums and hemorrhages. A decoction of the bark is useful in a variety of other ailments; among them menstrual problems (taken as a douche), goiter, internal hemorrhages, and fevers (13). For chronic diarrhoea, make a decoction of 1 oz. bark to a quart of water, boil this down to a pint, and take in cupful doses (14).
The infused tea can be used to wash sores and skin irritations. The tea, taken internally or externally (as an enema or douche) is good for hemorrhoids or other rectal problems, and blood in the urine. When taken as a tea and also applied externally, it will help varicose veins (15).
The distilled water of the oak buds, before they become leaves, is good internally or externally for inflammation, fevers and infections; also for leucorrhoea and hemorrhoids (16).
The skin that covers the acorn was considered effective in stopping the spitting of blood, and powdered acorns taken in wine was thought to be a good diuretic. A decoction of acorns and oak bark, made with milk, was used as an antidote to poisonous herbs and medicines (17).

Oak Galls

Oak galls are spherical protuberances on the tree; excrescences produced by secretions of the larvae of different insects, who live in them until mature. "The young larva that hatches from the eggs feeds upon the tissues of the plant and secretes in its mouth a peculiar fluid, which stimulates the cells of the tissues to a rapid division and abnormal development, resulting in the formation of a gall. The larva thus becomes completely enclosed in a nearly spherical mass, which projects from the twig, furnishing it with a supply of starch and other nutritive material. The growth of the gall continues only so long as the egg or larva lives or reaches maturity and passes into a chrysalis, from which the fully-developed gall-wasp emerges and escapes into the air through a hole bored with its mandibles in the side of the gall (18)."
The galls of Q. infectoria, indigenous to Asia Minor and Persia, are used commercially for the preparation of gallic and tannic acid, and are used in tanning and dyeing, and in the manufacture of ink. Medicinally, the galls are a strong astringent, the most powerful of all vegetable astringents; used as an internal tincture for diarrhoea, and cholera, and as an injection for gonorrhoea. An external preparation of galls may be applied to painful hemorrhoids, and to stop bleeding from nose and gums. An infusion may be used as a gargle in a sore throat and inflamed tonsils (19).
Oak galls occur on all parts of the tree; when they form on the shoots they can greatly distort its growth. When the galls form on the oak's leaves, they are called "oak-apples."
In England, May 29 is Oak-Apple Day, or Royal Oak Day. This supposedly began with Charles II, but is probably much older. In Oxfordshire, a piece of oak with an oak-apple on it, which was considered special, was worn before midday. In the afternoon this was replaced by ash leaves. "Lady Raglan (Folklore, L. i, 1939) has linked the ceremonies of Royal Oak Day, at the end of the May cycle, with the Green Man of May Day, at the beginning of the cycle. The heads so frequently carved in churches, with leaves around them, sometimes issuing from their mouths, represent the Green Man, the Jack-in-the-Green, or Robin Hood or King of May, the sacrificial victim. The leaves depicted are sometimes hawthorn, but usually oak (20)."


The oak has been venerated as a sacred tree throughout Europe since ancient times; "sacredness reinforcing its strength, and strength reinforcing its sacredness (21)." Indo-Germanic religion had its oak cult, probably dedicated to Thor, a thunder god. The oak has a long association with thunder gods; including Zeus and Jupiter, perhaps because the oak is struck more often by lightening than any other tree (22). Oak branches have been employed by many cultures, including Greeks and Romans, to magically induce rain (23). The oak also shows a connection with rain in this old English saying:

'If the Oak's before the Ash,
Then you'll only get a splash;
If the Ash before the Oak,
Then you may expect a soak (24).'

We also see evidence of ancient respect for oak ashes and charcoal identified in prehistoric cremations, even from the Isles of Scilly near Scandinavia, where oaks would not have likely grown. Coffins of the Bronze Age in Denmark were made of the trunks of oaks, and oak is still used to build coffins (25).
But the oak's most well-known association was to the Celtic Druids, who worshipped and worked magic in the huge sacred oak groves of Britain, Ireland, and Gaul. Frazer tells us that the name Druid is supposed to mean 'oak men (26).' Many place-names in the British Isles include the word Derry, as in Derrynane, from Doire-Fhionain (27); and some oak forests in Herefordshire are called 'the derry (28)' Derry is from Doire or Dair, meaning oak. According to Grieve, when the Druids found mistletoe in an oak, they danced round it to the tune of 'Hey derry down, down, down derry,' which she says literally signified 'In a circle move we round the oak' (her emphasis) (29). Kildare in Ireland, where St. Brigid is said to have built her church, was Cill-dara, the church of the oak. Druids took their name from Dair, Doire, or Duir, the oak (30). The Druids were Dairaoi, or dwellers in the oaks, and the Dryades were priests of the oak. According to Bonwick the oak was sacred because the acorn and its cup represented the male and female principles (31).
The oak gave special medicinal and magical properties to any plant growing on it; not only to the Druid's mistletoe, but also polypody ferns; a type of fern used as a laxative and expectorant (32).
Oak, ash and thorn (hawthorn) were trees to swear by, and oak has long been considered a proper tree to meet or rest under. The old English practice of the 'beating of the parish bounds' consisted of "the clergyman and his parishioners going the boundaries of the parish and choosing the most remarkable sites (oak-trees being specially selected) to read passages from the Gospels, and ask blessings for the people (33)."
"Even as timber the oak tree now has only a shadow of its old power and a tithe of its old ubiquity. When the Neolithic settlement of Great Britain began, oak was the natural cover across vast areas. The forests dwindled. Through the later centuries oak was overcut for house-building, boat-building, and ironically for charcoal, to smelt the iron which would supplant it so much as a key material. When oak became scarce it was replaced for some purposes by elm, a poor substitute; and then by imported deal; and finally by cast-iron, steel, and concrete. Through the Middle Ages the oak fed the Englishman's swine. It tanned his leather, fought his naval battles, carried his merchant cargoes, spanned his houses, churches, and cathedrals, and did a thousand other jobs. For the first time in history we can manage without oak. The reputation remains, but the worshipful and powerful tree has declined into a patriarch on half-pay (34)."


(1) Grieve, Mrs. M. A Modern Herbal (2 volumes). 1931. Dover Publications, Inc., New York, NY, pg. 594.
(2) Ibid, pg. 595.
(3) Ibid, pg. 594.
(4) Ibid, pg. 594.
(5) Howard-Gordon, Frances. Glastonbury, Maker of Myths. 1982. Gothic Image, Glastonbury, England, pg. 45.
(6) Grieve, pg. 595.
(7) Ibid, pg. 595
(8) Hutchens, Alma R. Indian Herbology of North America. First published 1969, Copyright 1973. Merco, Ontario, Canada. Published in London, England, pg. 207.
(9) Little, Elbert L. The Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Trees, Eastern Region. 1980. Albert A. Knopf, New York, NY, pg. 277.
(10) Grieve, pg. 596.
(11) Grigson, Geoffrey. The Englishman's Flora. 1955. Phoenix House LTD, London, England, pg. 250.
(12) Grieve, pg. 596.
(13) Hutchens, pg. 207.
(14) Grieve, pg. 596.
(15) Lust, John. The Herb Book. 1973. Bantam Books, New York, NY, pg. 295.
(16) Hutchens, pg. 207.
(17) Ibid, pg. 207.
(18) Grieve, pg. 596.
(19) Ibid, pg. 597.
(20) Grigson, pg. 252.
(21) Ibid, pg. 250.
(22) Ibid, pg. 250.
(23) Frazer, Sir James George. The Golden Bough. 1922. MacMillan Publishing Co., New York, NY, pg. 89.
(24) Grieve, pg. 595.
(25) Grigson, pg. 250-251.
(26) Frazer, pg. 186.
(27) Bonwick, James. Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions. 1986 (written in 1894). Dorset Press, U.S., pg. 234.
(28) Grieve, pg. 548.
(29) Ibid, pg. 548.
(30) Bonwick, pg. 235.
(31) Ibid, pg. 235.
(32) Grieve, pg. 307.
(33) Ibid, pg. 594.
(34) Grigson, pg. 254.


by Epona and Imré

The Celtic lunar calendar is composed of 13 lunations; Birch through Elder. The lunar year is divided into two halves; Birch-Oak, and Holly-Elder. The Gaelic for Oak is Duir, meaning 'door,' and Oak is also the hinge on which the door of the year swings. We are, therefore, standing at the door into the other half of the year -- on one side is the past, and on the other awaits the future. Are you happy with what you have achieved since Birch? Now is the time for amends, for once you walk through the door, and we all do, you will be asked to honestly evaluate yourself, just as Karma will.
Oak can also be a time of uncertainty. You may not be sure whether you will win or lose if you take that step. In truth, it will probably be both; no gain is made that something is not lost. What you get out of it, however, depends on how well grounded you are, and how strong.
Oak is known for its strength, and its attraction for fire in the form of lightening (Summer Solstice usually occurs during Oak). A saying for this moon is 'If your roots are as deep as your branches are high, tempt the lightening flash.' This speaks of trial by fire, which can either destroy you, or temper you.
The past will be purified by the energies that abound so that we can all continue the never-ending spiral of growth. Use the strength of the Oak; its power of endurance is why the ancient ones gave it domain over this lunation. Yield to the trial-by-fire; for, with the help of the Oak, you will dance with the euphoria of success. However, remember that only s/he whose 'roots are as deep as her/his branches are high' (1) will pass into Holly unscathed.

Points to look up: Cardea, Janus, Jupiter, chariot (in the tarot), number seven.

Glyph: 'I am a god that sets the head afire with smoke.' Also: 'I am both the oak and the lightening that blasts it.'

(1) This is an allegory describing the Oak. It does not imply ignorance of our ancestors regarding oak physiology, but is a warning that only one who is well grounded in her/himself can possibly survive a test such as fire -- which pervades the lunar month of Oak. [Note that whenever an obvious distortion of reality occurs in a myth, that is where the deepest mysteries lie.]


- by Fion; Duir '93

Lookin' over Baldwin Mountain
watchin' the fire burn
They say that ol' lightening
don't hit three times a turn

But I just saw with my eyes
an oak tree turn to flames
No one to see or say
yet I know it's all the same

Now a little lazy river
just flowed by and by
That flamin', burnin', tree of strength
which no more called the wind

Hercules needed a bucket
but all he had was a club
So the fire kept on burnin'
and nothing could be done

Oh oak tree, oh oak tree
so strong, broad and wide
You've protected me and kept me
from harm's sake by and by

So summer time is on the rise
like the fire from the ground
My feet start to dancin'
it's fire time all around


- by Raven, '93

Impress me, impress me!
the neo-pagan cried.
So we gave him "Woman's Mysteries"
but he said the author lied!

Impress me, impress me!
the neo-pagan said.
So we invited him to classes
but he got bored and went to bed!

Impress me, impress me!
was the neo-pagan's chant.
But when we asked for help to move
said "my back hurts, so I can't!"

Impress me, impress me!
was the neo-pagan's whine.
But when he got his reading list
said "I just don't have the time!"

Impress me, impress me!
was the neo-pagan's demand.
But he scoffed at our High Priestess
and said the boss should be a man!

Impress me, impress me!
was the neo-pagan's shout.
But we stuffed his mouth with cotton
and calmly chucked him OUT!


- by Raven, '93

star shine singing

soul light
glow bright
Goddess song ringing

night song
we belong
offerings now bringing

birds cry
hearts fly
Her praises singing


by Brighid MoonFire

Think of the oak tree and one thing people always seem to associate with it is Mistletoe. Mistletoe is that bright green plant growing way up in the tops of the trees, that we all gather 'round to kiss under in the Yule time.
Mistletoe (Phoradendron serotinum, North American version; or Viscum album, European version) is actually a parasitic evergreen plant that grows from seeds which are dropped by birds. The seeds imbed themselves and their roots into the host tree through the bark, weakening it. Its most common hosts are the poplar and apple trees, but it also grows on many other types of deciduous trees, and quite often on evergreens. Yet the most magical mistletoe is said to grow on the oak tree.
It was originally called "herb of the Sun," "Acmistle and Misteltan," and "twig of the mist" by the Anglo-Saxons; "lchelwydd" by the Welsh; and "all-heal" by the Druids. This magical plant was also known by the ancient spelling of Misseltoe.
Mistletoe was the chief of the seven sacred plants of the Druids, and it is from the Druids that we get most of our legend and lore about this plant. It was a symbol of fertility from these ancient times. The European plant's berries grow in pairs, side-by-side, like testicles. The Druids considered the white berries to be drops of the Oak God's semen, to correlate with the Holly's red berries, which were the life-force blood of the Goddess Hel. It was with great phallic symbolism that the Druids would "castrate" the Oak God by cutting the mistletoe from its branches on the sixth day of the Moon with a golden sickle and catch it in a white cloak. If the plant touched the ground, it would lose its virtues. The Druids then sacrificed two white bulls to the God and placed the mistletoe in water, and later the water would be given as a talisman against evil.
But the Druids weren't the only culture that cherished the mistletoe. In the Norse religion mistletoe was known as Guidhel, the guide to hell that led Aeneas through the underworld, as his Golden Bough. It also symbolized the death of the "beautiful god" Balder, killed by a spear of mistletoe wielded by the blind Hod, another version of one-eyed Odin, supposed to be Balder's father. From this version of the dying and resurrected god arose the legend of the famous magic sword Mistletoe.
The golden color of the withered mistletoe was connected with its supposed ability to find buried treasure through its magical familiarity with the underworld, and it is from this legend that it got its claim to be able to open any and every lock. This key also connects with the fertility symbolism of the mistletoe in that it is the "key" that opens the underworld womb, and key and phallus were supposedly interchangeable in mystical writing.
Today we only see the mistletoe as a love charm, and kissing under it is all that is left of the earlier sex orgies in honor of the earth and in hope of a fertile season. But it is this past Pagan heritage that is the reason, according to the church, that mistletoe is still banned in many of the churches today during their Christmas celebrations. In fact, some Christians claim that mistletoe was the forbidden tree in the middle of the trees of Eden; i.e., the Tree of Knowledge, and that it was the wood for Jesus's cross.
Regardless of the mystical and magical legends and facts behind this plant, we do know that among other things, its berries are highly poisonous. It also lowers the blood pressure by slowing down the heart rate and dilating the arteries. It has a sedative effect on the nervous system, and there is evidence that it may have anti-tumor activities.


Walker, Barbara. Women's Encyclopedia of Myths & Secrets. 1983. Harper & Row, Publishers Inc., New York, NY.
Walker, Barbara. Women's Dictionary of Symbols & Sacred Objects. 1988. Harper & Row, Publishers Inc., New York, NY.
Mabey, Richard. New Age Herbalist. 1988. Macmillan Publishing Co., New York, NY.
Hudol, Myrddin. Article: "7 Sacred Herbs of the Druids."


by Brighid MoonFire

This is a guided imagery in which you will experience the oak tree and some of its characteristics. It was originally written in the Oak Moon of 1992 and was used in our circle that moon. It may be read aloud to a group or another person, or you can record it on a tape player and play it back for yourself. The '...' are pauses. You may want to play with it a little to get the feel for the pause times that are best for you.

Sit down. Close your eyes. Begin by taking several deep breaths and exhaling fully.... Imagine a large, beautiful, oak tree standing strong and tall.... See the beauty of the tree.... Notice its rough bark.... See its massive roots that extend deep into the ground.... Look up and see its broad, expansive canopy of leaves above you.... Touch the tree and feel its strength.... Now see yourself standing beside the oak tree.... Feel your feet reach deep into the rich and accepting earth.... Feel the coolness of the earth as it envelopes you.... Now feel your arms as they reach high into the sky.... Higher than you ever thought possible.... Higher than is possible.. Feel your fingers stretch out into leaves and multiply.... Feel your hands and tendrils stretch until they reach the heavens.... Relax and enjoy the feeling of being connected with the heavens and the earth at the same moment.... Feel the power and strength of the heavens and the earth and know that you are a part of that power and strength.... Now look inside yourself as the oak tree.... See the strength and endurance that you have.... You have the power to withstand tragedies, hardships, and disappointments without bending or breaking.... You have the ability to scatter your seed upon the world, and watch them grow and know that they will be strong and sturdy.. Whether they are the seeds of future generations, or the seeds of compassion, of caring, or of guidance. They will flourish and be strong, and you gain more strength from this knowledge.. Now imagine yourself as a person again and feel strong and proud because you now know that you have the oak tree within you.... Now see yourself as you are now.... Feel your strength and your connection with the heavens and earth.... Remember these feelings and draw on them.... When you feel ready, open your eyes.


Unto the Editor:
I just finished your first issue. Excellent articles! I especially enjoyed "Lunar Energies & Esoterica: Hawthorn." I think it would be a good idea to include the glyph for the moon in this column.
I also thought the article on herbs was exceptional! It was timely and educational. Thank you for a much needed periodical.
B.B.! All Hail Discordia!
John Thistle
LaGrange, GA
P.S.: The group name was my idea, by the way.

Unto the Editor:

John Thistle doesn't know what he's talking about. The idea for the name was mine.
Rudy the Red


The Real World of Fairies, by Dora van Gelder. 1977. The Theosophical Publishing House, U.S.
Softcover, $6.95.
- Reviewed by Imré

For the person who is just beginning their reading on the 'fairie folk' or the 'little people,' The Real World of Fairies will be entertaining. Please do not take this as gospel, but Gelder's views on these "super"-natural beings is restricted. She attempts to describe non-human beings, who live in a realm much different from ours, with human restrictions and values (which is the only thing that I did not like). The forward, by Claude Bragdon, is very well written, and adds a taste of logical merit to the book.

Devas, Fairies and Angels, by William Bloom. 1986. Gothic Image Publications, Glastonbury, England.
Softcover, $4.95.
- Reviewed by Imré

On the other hand, Devas, Fairies and Angels is a must for the adventuresome Pagan.
Concise, useful, and to the point, plus sound and convincing arguments. Read this!

The Illuminatus! Trilogy 3-volumes-in-one: The Eye in the Pyramid; The Golden Apple; and Leviathan; by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. 1975. Dell Publishing, New York, NY.
Fiction (?), Softcover, $12.95.
- Reviewed by Muirghein

One of Robert Anton Wilson's major interests is in secret societies, and he and Robert Shea toss them all -- real or imagined -- at the reader in this very chaotic, Discordian book. Reading this can be rather confusing at times, as they switch characters, places, and even years in a single paragraph, or even in a single sentence! Once you get used to this, though, the story is very entertaining, if very weird. It's very unpredictable, especially the ending. Read it, enjoy, and remember: don't trust anyone.