A Journal of Celtic Spirituality and Sacred Trees

Issue 5, September 1993

In This Issue:
From Further Out - Muirghein ó Dhún Aonghasa (Linda Kerr)
From Brighid's Hearth: Arthritis - Freya
The Huna System of Magic and Prayer - Rhianon
How to Pray -Muirghein ó Dhún Aonghasa (Linda Kerr)
From Samhain to Halloween - Muirghein ó Dhún Aonghasa (Linda Kerr)
Poetry: The Earth is Round - Shadowcat
A Twentieth Century Divination - Mirhanda Spellesinger
Spider Woman and the Moon - Stormy
Folklore & Practical Uses: Ivy - Muirghein ó Dhún Aonghasa (Linda Kerr)
Lunar Energies & Esoterica: Ivy - Freya and Epona
Folklore & Practical Uses: Reed - Muirghein ó Dhún Aonghasa (Linda Kerr)
Lunar Energies & Esoterica: Reed - Imré and Muirghein ó Dhún Aonghasa (Linda Kerr)
Runes: What Are Runes? - Stormy
Bubbles From the Cauldron - book reviews, etc.

Publisher: The Garden Club
Editor: Imré Rainey
Layout Editor: Muirghein ó Dhún Aonghasa (Linda Kerr)
Contributors: Epona (poetry), Freya, Mirhanda Spellesinger, Rhianon, Shadowcat (poetry), Sherlock (artwork), Stormy.
Cover graphic by Muirghein

THE HAZEL NUT, Volume I, Issue 5, Copyright © 1993 The Garden Club. October/November 1993, Ivy/Reed 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 the 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.
Ivy is the eleventh tree in the Celtic tree calendar. It usually occurs around October or November, and this year it runs from October 15-November 12.
Reed is the twelfth tree in the Celtic tree calendar. It usually occurs around November or December, and this year it runs from November 13-December 12.


My plea for submissions has been heard-so much so, that we had to add 4 extra pages! Keep 'em coming--we especially need artwork, light-hearted articles, comics, and fiction. I would also like to encourage letters to the editor; if you have anything to say about anything at all--not necessarily about THE HAZEL NUT, either-write to us!
As we get closer to Halloween, newspapers will be printing their usual glop and mish-mash on origins, satanic connections, modem evils, etc of Halloween. Sometimes, however, a paper actually prints a factual, non-biased piece on Halloween, Paganism, or Witches. Recently I received an article printed in the Macon (Georgia) Telegraph, on September 19, 1993, featuring one of our subscribers. Apparently the writer is Pagan, also, and it shows. An example: "First, let's talk about what being a Pagan is not. It's not worshiping the devil. It's not being decadent, promiscuous or prancing nude through the woods. It's not sacrificing animals." The article and pictures were excellent, and mentioned several local Pagans by mundane name or by their Craft name.
This is a great time of year to do public relations and dispel some of the erroneous notions people hold about Pagans and Witches. For some ideas, Green Egg publishes a booklet called Witchcraft, Satanism and Ritual Crime: Who's Who & What's What for educating the general public, teachers, and law enforcement officials. This can be ordered for $2.00; the address is: Green Egg, P.O. Box 1542, Ukiah, CA, 95482.
Some people really do believe that Halloween is a holiday of devil-worshipers--you can try to re-educate them with some historical background on the festival. See "From Sarnhain to Halloween," this issue, plus look at some of the sources listed, which should be available in any library.
Above all, be truthful about your beliefs, be gentle in your explanations, and don't try to shock folks. This is the WRONG time of year to boast about all the weird herbs and concoctions you might use, the black nasty your last ritual attracted, or how your cat is so psychic. People think we're strange enough already, at best; let's not compound that view.
Until next time, party on, dudes! - Muirghein


by Freya

It is during the winter months when most begin to feel the aches and pains of arthritis and rheumatism, and, after reading through several books, I have found many different suggestions on how to ease and relieve the aches and pains. Note: pre-prepared teas, tinctures, liniments, etc. may not be readily available. You could check natural food stores or a nutrition store; however, you'll probably have to make them yourself.
A liniment (a medicated liquid that you rub into the skin) made from Eucalyptus is soothing to sore and inflamed joints and should be applied directly to the affected area. Also for external purposes, Fennel oil, an oldtime remedy, and Angelica extract, are good for swelling and pain when applied directly. For internal medicine, I capsule of Turneric or Chaparral taken 3 times daily will help relieve arthritic pain and act as an anti-inflammatory. Another good anti-inflammatory is White Willow bark; take 2 capsules every 3 hours or as needed.(1)
Rubbing Cayenne tincture over an inflamed joint and then wrapping a piece of red flannel around it overnight will usually relieve the pain of arthritis. One could also use Cayenne as a liniment or a poultice on the inflamed area (a poultice is a soft preparation of herbs, roots, etc., applied directly to the skin).(2)
Sassafras tea is helpful with relieving arthritic pain. Simmer 1 teaspoon of the root bark in a cup of water for 10-15 minutes in a non-aluminum kettle, then pour into a non-aluminum pot over leafy herbs (Peppermint, Comfrey, etc.) and let steep for 15-20 minutes. One cup of Sassafras tea daily for several weeks will not only help in pain relief but will actually cleanse your whole system.(3)
Here is a more in-depth recipe:
6 parts Oregon Grape root
6 pt Prince's Pine or Parsley root
3 pt Sassafras root bark
3 pt Black Cohosh
3 pt Prickly Ash bark
3 pt Guaiacum
2 pt Ginger root
To make a tea, use 1 oz. of herbal mixture to a pint of water, and simmer for 30 minutes.
Make a liniment with:
2 parts Ginger root
1 part Cayenne
1/2 part Lobelia
Note: eating animal foods, consuming alcohol, sugar and denatured foods should be reduced, since this creates a deposit of acid in the joints. Also attempt to avoid damp areas and try not to let your joints get cold. Using circulation-promoting herbs externally is a good idea.(4)
Another liniment for arthritis is an equal mixture of Wintergreen and Yerba Santa in a pot, with enough olive oil to cover. Simmer for 30 to 60 minutes. Strain, and apply to affected areas when it cools.(5)
Another tea that is helpful is an equal mixture of Alder Buckthorn bark, American Angelica root, Black Cohosh, Colombo, Valerian root, Rue, Scullcap, and Yellow Gentian root. Bring 1 cup of water almost to a boil, then remove from heat. Add 1 heaping teaspoon of herbs and steep until water is lukewarm. Take 3 cups a day, a half-cup at a time.(6)


(1) Mindell, Earl. Herb Bible. 1992. Simon & Schuster, NY, pg. 222-223.
(2) Tierra, Michael. The Way of Herbs. 1980. First Washington Square Press, NY, pg. 225-226.
(3) Haas, Elson M. Staying Healthy With the Seasons. 1981. Celestial Arts, CA, pg. 55.
(4) lbid, pg. 55.
(5) Lust, John. The Herb Book. 1974. Bantam Books, NY, pg. 457.
(6) Ibid, pg. 457.


by Rhianon

In my continuing search for an explanation on the workings of magic, two books were recently recommended to me that I found to be very enlightening. The Secret Science Behind Miracles and The Secret Science at Work , both written by Max Freedom Long, document ancient Polynesian Huna traditions such as 'firewalking,' the 'death-prayer,' and 'healings' as evidence of workable magic performed by native magicians. Long found it difficult to learn first hand exactly how the kahunas, or 'keepers of the secret' worked, due partly in that he was a white man, but mainly because the old kahunas had died and there was no one to train others to carry on this art. In his research, Long noted that chants and rituals were an important part of this magic, and had the idea of studying their language for words which named something that had to do with man's mental and spiritual nature. Long searched the Hawaiian dictionary and soon found that the kahunas had done an excellent job of naming the elements of psychology and placing them in their root words. Through their words and symbols, Long unraveled an unseen force that the kahunas understood and knew how to make contact with through prayer.
Long writes that the kahunas understood three 'parts of mind' as three separate entities, and referred to them as the 'low self,' 'middle self,' and 'high self.' The low self does the remembering. The middle self cannot remember, but can use reasoning to arrive at an understanding of what is going on about it. The high self has the mental ability to remember, and also has reasoning powers far superior to that of the middle self. The high self is able to see into the past and into that part of the future which has become crystallized, but most important, the high self is always ready to respond when it is asked.
The low self has three abilities which are lacking in the middle self and are very important in magic: (a) the ability to sense radiations from things that are not registered by the usual sense organs; (b) the ability to fasten to a person or thing with which contact has been made by way of an 'aka finger' or thread, and each time contact is made, the thread is made stronger and becomes easier to follow; and (c) the aka finger is capable of using all five senses to get impressions of the thing that contact has been made with, and these sensory impressions can be sent back along a connecting aka finger thread and presented to the middle self as visual thoughts. The aka fingers can also reverse this flow so that not only can the impressions be sent to the middle self, but also to the high self as telepathy.
The high self can neither see nor hear, as only the low and middle selves live in physical bodies. Only the low self can make ideas into thought-forms and send them along the established aka threads to the high self. The middle self, although it is connected with the other two selves by aka cords, does not have the ability to use the telepathic mechanism.
'Mana,' or vital force, is created by the low self from the food we eat and by the air we breathe; and the activities of each of the three selves depend on this substance. Mana is the force that we know as the 'will,' and it is the force that makes the low self obey orders. Failure to break a bad habit is an example, as it is usually much easier (but not necessarily better) to let the low self be in charge. Mana only acts when the low self uses it to charge and vitalize aka substance, such as an aka finger when it is projected.
The kahunas believed that the high self must be furnished with enough low self mana to enable it to mold conditions into 'answers,' and that the middle self must visualize the condition to be brought about before asking the high self to do its part. Unless the low self is trained to understand this, so that all three selves play their parts in this creative operation, the prayer goes unanswered.
In these books, Long reveals the basic nature of magic that involves a form of consciousness which uses some form of force, and manipulates that force through an invisible kind of physical matter. When a ritual is performed, visual thoughts form a cluster and are sent telepathically along an aka cord to the high self. With a sufficient supply of mana, these thoughts become invisible molds in which the high self has the knowledge and the power to work with other high selves to materialize these conditions into physical reality. An instant answer requires a very large amount of mana to enable the high self to bring about the changes required on a physical plane.
Although I have chosen to write predominately on the Huna philosophy of prayer answering, Long's investigations and restoration of the Huna way of life offer fascinating explanations to many other 'miracles,' such as telepathic mutual healing, crystal gazing, and instant healing through the high self. I have found the way of the Huna very helpful in my search, and highly recommend that others take the time to explore these books.


by Muirghein ó Dhún Aonghasa (Linda Kerr)

Prayer is not an exclusive concept of the Christians; it is something we each do all the time, but maybe by different names. I refer to it as 'programming.' Whatever you call it, it DOES work, and sometimes all too well, giving rise to one of our favorite expressions, 'Be careful what you ask for; you just might get it.' These ideas, from the Huna books by Max Freedom Long,(1) may help you make your prayers more effective.

Decide what your prayer is-form it carefully with much thought given to it; understand any changes that may come about as a result-accept the responsibility for it. Make it simple, but accurate. BE SPECIFIC! (I once programmed for a lighted, two-way make-up mirror. The next day, I got it-in pieces!) Also, do not change it, add to it, or delete from it once it is made and sent. Write it down if necessary, to be repeated word for word.
Visualize the desired condition. See yourself as healthy, in a new job, etc. Have FAITH that it will come to be. What you visualize (thought form) you will receive. (Once again: Be Specific!)
Talk to your low self. Explain the prayer, why you want/need the desired condition, why it would be best for both of you (middle and low selves). Your low self will not send a prayer it doesn't believe in. It will 'block the path' for a number of reasons--fear of the changes to be brought about, guilt for having sinned (done harm to someone or yourself), a fixation (irrational complex), or evil spirits attached to the low self. The path must be clear before the prayer can be sent.
Mana: Repeat the prayer three times to your low self, asking it to send the thought form (seed) with mana to the High Self. By the trice repeating, you are impressing on your low self the importance of the prayer, thereby strengthening the thought form to be sent along the aka cord. Daily send more mana to the High Self to 'water' the prayer 'seeds.' (Unceasing prayer.)
Work! You must do your part. You cannot expect to have your prayer for a new job answered if you do not go through the want ads and look for a job. It is useless to pray that the horses don't get out if you don't mend the fence. This also helps convince your low self that you are deserving of the desired condition, so it will open the path to the High Self and send the prayer.

In the Huna system, the low self refers to your child-like inner self, or your unconscious. The middle self is your rational, logical, conscious self. The High Self is the 'parent-self' the super-consciousness, the one who can bring your prayers to fruition. The prayer is decided upon by the middle self, and sent by the low self to the High Self. The path the prayer takes is the 'aka cord,' or 'aka path.' The energy used to send prayers along this path is called 'mana,' energy, or 'personal power,' created by the low self in various ways; one is by meditation. Some of these terms may sound foreign, but in this system, you really don't need to know why it works, just how. For more info, read the Huna books listed below.


(1) Long, Max Freedom. The Secret Science Behind Miracles, 1948, and The Secret Science At Work, 1953. DeVorss &Co., Publishers, Marina del Rey, CA.


by Muirghein ó Dhún Aonghasa (Linda Kerr)

The Gaelic Celts

Our modern-day Halloween has its beginnings in the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced Sou'win). The Celts had a great reverence for nature; the passing of the seasons was of great significance to them. This particular festival marked the end of the summer, and their new year, beginning November 1.
The Celtic New Year was a very fragile time of endings and beginnings, full of divinations and protective rituals for the coming year. The 48-hour period from October 31 to November 2 was called Oidhche Shamhna, "The Vigil of Samhain"; (Schauffler, ix) the fabric between this world and the next was at its weakest, spirits and faeries were abroad, and even the bravest folk stayed indoors at night. (Although the Celts gave great reverence to their dead, who were thought to be always close by, they still didn't want too close of a contact with them!)
During the Vigil of Samhain, the Lord of the Dead, called Samhain, assembled the souls of all who had died during the previous year. (according to Walker, 372, Samhain was named for the Aryan Lord of Death, Samana, meaning "The Leveller.") At death the souls of the good entered the body of another human, and the souls of the ones who had sinned were confined to the bodies of animals. (Linton, 5; Douglas, 565; Schauffler, ix) Samhain then decided what form they should take for the next year; some were released to go to the Druid's form of heaven.
The Sun god was also celebrated at this season. Fires were lighted on hilltops and open spaces in his honor. "The Sun, as ripener of the grain, was thanked for the harvest, now safely stored against the winter." (Linton, 4) The bonfires also strengthened the Sun for his coming battle with cold and darkness. (Linton, 4) The fires had other purposes; to welcome the winter season, purify the people and land, and ward off evil spirits, then at their strongest. (Hole, 87) In the home, all cooking fires were put out and new ones kindled for the new year.
As the British Isles came under Roman influence, some of the rites of the Roman festival of Pomona were incorporated into the Samhain activities. Pomona was the goddess who cared for the fruits and presided over harvests; (Douglas, 565) her festival was held around November 1. (Schauffler, ix)

The Middle Ages

The Celtic festival of Samhain continued in one form or another through the Dark Ages, although the original meanings were probably lost, and vague superstitions put in their place. Folk still believed, however, that the dead walked abroad, and were allowed to visit their former homes during these 48 hours.
In 834 A.D., the Church took note of this, and moved their Feast of All Saints from May 13 to November 1. (Linton, 6; Douglas, 576) This was a feast in honor of all the saints, known or unknown. All Saints' Day became known as All Hallows Day, and October 31 as All Hallows Eve. (All Saint's Day is one of the highest ranking feasts, along with Easter, in the Roman Catholic church; its observance displaces all others. The feast was retained by the Protestants after the Reformation, and it is observed by the Anglican church; Douglas, 576) "Hallow" means "to make sacred or holy." (American Heritage Desk Dictionary, 444) Christianity had sanctified the pagan season.
In 988 A.D., the Church set All Souls' Day on November 2, rounding out the 48-hour Vigil of Samhain. All Souls' Day is a festival set apart for those who have died in the faith, although they have not suffered martyrdom or achieved sainthood. (Linton, 13) Part of this festival was the return of the spirits of the dead to visit their former homes, and naturally, everything possible was done to make them welcome. (Schauffler, 10)
The family spent the day in prayer and at church-services. After supper was cleared away that night, food and drink were set out on the table, and the fire was banked. The family then went to bed, and the souls of the ancestors came at midnight to eat and warm themselves by the fire. "In southern Italy in the 14th century, every family prepared a special feast for its dead members on All Soul's Day. In Salerno especially this custom reached elaborate heights. There a table was set and laid with a bountiful meal. Then all the members of the household went to the church and stayed there the entire day, leaving the house open for the ghosts. It was a very bad omen if any of the food remained uneaten when the family returned, for this meant that the ghosts were expressing disapproval...As a matter of fact, there was seldom any food left when the family returned; the practice was known to all the surrounding villages and on the morning of All Souls' Day thieves and beggars from near and far gathered on the outskirts of the town. When all the good people were in church, they swarmed into the town and enjoyed a fine feast. The church banned this custom in the 15th century, proclaiming that it smacked of paganism. No doubt the housewives of Salerno were relieved at no longer having to cook dinners for all the thieves in the countryside." (Linton, 18. Also see Linton, 19-21, for other cultures.)
The theme of the dead assembling and returning to their homes is common to other cultures as well; the Latvians believed that during the October Feast of the Dead, the departed spirits returned on horseback to visit their families. "As late as the 17th century, Latvians would lay the skin and guts of a horse on a grave, to help the return of the dead." (Simpson, 39)

Halloween Fires

In the Gaelic countries of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and Brittany, the old traditions associated with the Celtic Samhain survived into the 19th century. The Halloween fires, called Samhnagan by the Scots, were still lit at dusk, although they were not for Samhain, the Celtic god, but for Halloween gaiety and a defiant welcome to the winter season. (Linton, 24)
In the Scottish Highlands in the 18th century, "each family would carry lighted torches into the fields on October 31 and march about the fields sunwise (clockwise) in the belief that good crops would thus be ensured for the coming year. At dark the torches were taken home and thrown into a heap for a bonfire. Each member of the family would put a stone in the fire and mark a circle around it. When the fire was burned out the ashes were raked over the stones. If any stone was found misplaced in the morning, or if there was a footprint near it, the person to whom the stone belonged believed that he would die within a year." (Douglas, 568)
In Wales, people carried armloads of straw, gorse, and other easily-ignited materials up to hilltops, and lit fires at dusk. The people roasted apples and potatoes, danced around the bonfire, and leapt through the flames. "The end of the ceremony was usually a headlong flight down the hill to escape the hwch ddu gwta, the tailless Black Sow who was one of the terrors of Hallowe'en. Out of the shadows of the pagan past she came at the moment when the flames died down, and all fled before her, crying 'May the tailless Black Sow take the hindmost!' She might sometimes be encountered elsewhere on All Hallows Eve, and always, like the other strange wanderers of that night, she was dangerous." (Hole, 88)


To the spirits originally gathered by the Lord of the Dead were added troops of goblins and fairies. In the Middle Ages, due to the Church's uprising against what they considered to be "witchcraft," ugly old witches and their black cats also began to be associated with Halloween. (Linton, 7) Prudent folk stayed indoors to avoid encountering all these strange creatures.
However, there are always a few brave souls willing to challenge the night. "Guisers" were people decked out in strange costumes intended to impersonate the returning dead, going from house to house and singing and dancing to keep evil spirits away.
In England, prior to the Reformation, women and girls went "souling," visiting houses and begging for "soul cakes." In return for the cakes, prayers were offered for the souls of the donor's dead relatives. (Schauffler, 12-13) In time only the children kept to this, singing instead

"Soul! Soul! for a soul cake!
I pray, good mistress, for a soul cake!
An apple or a pear, or a plum or a cherry
Any good thing to make us merry.
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for him who made us all.
Up with the kettle and down with the pan,
Give us good alms and we'll be gone." (Linton, 12)

In the 17th century, the Irish peasants went about asking for donations for a feast in honor of St. Columba, who had by then taken over the place of the Old Lord of the Dead. (Douglas, 571; Linton, 17)
Another form of souling was carried on in Ireland till after the 1900's. On Hallows Eve, people paraded through the district going to each house, asking for contributions in the name of "Muck Olla." (Linton, 102; Hole, 90) This was a legendary boar of monstrous size. (Hole, 91) The name is probably a perversion of that of an old Celtic god; the custom certainly reminds one of the spirits in their animal bodies, and the Lord of the Dead as Muck Olla.
The procession was led by a man in a white robe wearing a horse-head mask, or the skull of a mare. "The horse was sacred to the Sun God, which indicates that this custom was a survival of a Druid rite." (Linton, 102) The leader "was called Lair Bhan (White Mare). After him walked young men blowing cow horns, with the remainder of the procession trailing behind this group." (Linton, 102) They stopped at each house, demanding contributions to Muck Olla, and predicting dire things if not satisfied. They returned home laden with eggs, corn, potatoes, and other farm produce. Our modern "trick-or-treat" is probably a direct descendent of this custom. (Halloween was not celebrated in America until after the Gaelic peoples began to arrive from the Old World (the Puritans thought anything fun was evil), and especially after the Irish immigration during the Great Potato Famine of the 1840's; Linton, 100-101.)


Another tradition that is very ancient, and is still around today, is apple-ducking or bobbing. In its older form, it involves a divination game. The person who gets an apple pares it round and round in one long strip and throws the peel over their shoulder. The letter it most resembles upon landing is the first letter of their future lover's name. (Schauffler, 7)
Going back even further, ducking for apples represented soul symbols (the apples) in the Cauldron of Regeneration (the water). (Walker, 372) Owls, bats and cats are also soul symbols cats were sacred to the Celts, who believed they had once been humans who were changed to that form as a punishment for evil deeds. (Douglas, 566) Again, this brings to mind the Lord of Death gathering for regeneration all the souls who had been confined to an animal body for the past year.
The Gaelic people had many games and divination rites associated with Halloween, many of which were practiced in Europe and America until the turn of this century. Most of these harken back to the Celtic new year, when divinations were performed to see what the new year would bring, and games were played to keep the evil spirits at bay. The use of fruits and nuts for divination is borrowed from the ancient Roman festival of Pomona, goddess of fruits and harvests. (Douglas, 570) Originally, the divinations were probably considered to be utterances by the ancestral dead; later they became questions of love and marriage. The season is now regarded as a time of merry-making rather than for serious consultation of magic oracles. (Douglas, 571)
Apples played a prominent part in divinations; if a girl peeled an apple in front of a mirror in a room lighted with a candle, an apparition of her future husband would appear behind her in the mirror. Another method required the girl to cut the apple into nine slices, eating eight of them, and, while standing with her back to the mirror, throw the ninth slice over her shoulder. Turning quickly around, she would see her husband-to-be looking at her from the glass. (Hole, 90)
The English would tie a lighted candle on one end of a stick and an apple on the other, suspend it from the middle and set it spinning. The object was to bite the apple as it swung past and not get burnt by the candle. This may be a diminished relic of the ancient hilltop fires of Samhain. (Douglas, 570)
Another candle game was the candle leap. This involved setting 12 candles in a fairly large ring on the floor, representing the 12 months of the year. A person leapt over each candle in turn. If the leap was clear, that month would be prosperous. If a candle was blown out or knocked over, however, that month would be very unlucky, even bringing death. (Hole, 90) The rhyme "Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candle-stick" may have originated from this game.


A curious tradition is the jack-o'-lantern. I have found several different explanations for these; the most amusing is this legend from Ireland. Keep in mind that turnips and rutabagas were common in the British Isles; pumpkins are an American tradition.
A sour man named Jack lived a life of drink and evil deeds. One day Jack drank a bit too much, and his soul began to slip away. The Devil came to claim him, but Jack lured him up a tree, then marked a cross on the trunk so the Devil couldn't come down. Jack then extracted a promise from him that he would never seek Jack's soul. When Jack finally died, he was turned away from heaven because of his love of drink, so in search of somewhere to go, he tried hell. But the Devil wouldn't hear of it, because of the trick played on him in the tree, and hurled a hot coal at him. Jack was eating a turnip at the time, and caught the hot coal with it. With nowhere to go, he was doomed to wander the earth with his lantern lighting his way until Judgement Day. (Linton, 43-45)

According to C. Hole, jack-o'-lanterns are an impersonation of the returning dead and other spirits walking abroad. By this impersonation, they hope for protection of themselves and others from the power of these specters. In some districts in England, turnip-lanterns are hung upon gateposts on Halloween for the express purpose of protecting the house from evil spirits. (Hole, 91)
It seems that anything done to keep the spirits away, was once done to welcome these same spirits, who only became "evil" towards the Middle Ages. In Britain, people hollowed out turnips and placed candles inside them to make food offerings to the spirits of the dead; and the Irish put candles in their windows to guide the spirits home at Samhain. (Hole, 188)
Superstitions abound at Halloween. Here is one to think about, told by Lillian Eichler, from "Hallowe'en." "The white hare is more feared on Halloween than any ghost. The superstition is that when a maiden, having loved not wisely, but too well, dies of a broken heart, her spirit comes back in the shape of a white hare to haunt her deceiver. The phantom follows him everywhere, and is invisible to all but him. Ultimately it causes his death on some dark Hallowe'en. We see the white hare as a symbol of conscience. It is usually conscience that gives rise to fear, and fear, to superstition." (Schauffler, 4)


The American Heritage Desk Dictionary. 1981. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, MA.
Douglas, George William, The American Book of Days. 1948. H.W. Wilson Co., New York, NY.
Hole, Christina, British Folk Customs. 1976. Hutchinson and Co. Ltd., London.
Linton, Ralph and Adelin, Halloween Through Twenty Centuries. 1950. Henry Schuman, New York, NY.
Schauffler, Robert Haven (compiled by), Hallowe'en - Our American Holiday Series. 1961. Dod, Mead and Co., NY.
Simpson, Jacqueline, Library of the World's Myths and Legends - European Mythology. 1987. Peter Bedrick Books, New York, NY.
Walker, Barbara G., The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. 1983. Harper & Row, San Francisco, CA.


- by Shadowcat '93

I am the Mother.
I live I breathe.
I gave you life,
none other.
My seas, my blood
that fills your veins.
Mine the fruit that
filled your bellies.
Mine the Stag that
fed your brother.
You flow with my Moon Sister,
My tides in your ocean
guide me to your lover.
And mine the Earth,
that will hold you one day
like a child in the womb.
As I bring you back to
Your Mother.


by Mirhanda Spellesinger

In ancient Rome, one form of divination involved "the chance overhearing of a word at unexpected times (as when passing two other wrapped in conversation). These often contained messages far different than their speakers' original intent...It was believed that the deities themselves had revealed [this method] to humans." (1) In modern times one could run the risk of being slapped for eavesdropping. So this method being not necessarily safe, I have devised a modern alternative.
First, prepare yourself for divining in your usual manner. Go to your living room and turn off all the lights, smoulder some incense and seat yourself comfortably on your couch or easy chair. Formulate your question and take the T.V. remote-control in your projective hand. While concentrating on your question, turn on the set and proceed to "channel-surf." The snatches of conversation, commercials, music-videos, etc. that you hear will provide your answer. Write down the words or phrases you have heard. They may be symbolic and require you to meditate on their true meaning.
In the immortal words of Gene Wilder in the movie Young Frankenstein, "It could work!"


(1) Cunningham, Scott, The Art of Divination. 1993. The Crossing Press, Freedom, CA.


by Stormy

Spider Woman walks the night sky,
Every night she crawls on by,
She hasn't wings, she doesn't fly,
Suspended on a thread in the sky.

She walks a-stepping on each star,
Around the North, East, South and West
She is seen by many a far
Doing what she always does best.

She takes the silver-golden thread
Starts weaving on her magic loom,
High in the heavens over head--
She begins weaving a new moon!

Beyond the heavens where birds fly,
There hangs a sliver in the sky,
Sweetly smiling at all below
Adding more thread as she goes.

Fuller the moon grows everyday,
Pregnant and round along the way--
With moonbeams gently flowing,
The luminous circle glowing.

High in the heavens overhead,
Spider Woman looks at the moon
Collects the silver-golden thread,
Unraveling that thread so soon.

Each and every single night
The Moon is shrinking out of sight
Onto a ball of silver-gold
So next month's story can unfold.

Spider Woman is another name for the constellation Orion. Orion is one of my favorite constellations in the sky. At the latitude we live in, Orion is most easily seen during the winter months. Orion can actually be seen now at 3:00 a.m. in the very far Southeast comer of the night sky. Pleiades is last seen around the first of May and Orion can be seen in the very early evening of Spring in the Southwestern portion of the sky before disappearing. Then Orion begins to reappear in late fall.
In South America, Spider Woman can be seen easiest in the Spring. To various Northern and Southern Indians she was attributed to weaving the creation of life, controlling the seasons, moon cycles, and fertility.


by Muirghein ó Dhún Aonghasa (Linda Kerr)

Hedera helix Linn. - English Ivy. Temperate zones of Europe and Asia, and also introduced into the U.S.
Parthenocissus quinquefolia - Virginia Creeper, American Ivy. Found in almost all parts of the U.S. Introduced into Europe from Canada.


English Ivy is a well-known evergreen climbing plant, which is found in American gardens, and, of course, in England. Ivy climbs by means of fibers on its stem, which resemble roots. Small disks at the end of these fibers attach themselves to the surface of the bark or wall against which the ivy is growing. However, ivy is liable to injure the trees it twines around; its fibers will become true roots on soil, deep crevices, or even bark, and obtain nourishment for the plant by abstracting juices from the tree.(1)
If left alone, ivy will eventually overgrow its tree or wall, and begin to grow out in a bushy form. Its stems become much more woody, rather than pithy, so as to support itself. "It at once, so to speak, feelsthe strain and makes wood sufficient to meet it."(2) The leaves change from the angular five-lobed form to small and oval. At this point, and only this point, ivy will produce flowering branches projecting a foot or two beyond the climbing stem, with flowers at the end of every shoot. These flowers usually open in October, and continue to expand through late December. The berries, which follow the flowers, provide many birds with food during severe winters, before ripening in the spring. In addition, the leaves afford winter shelter to birds, and many will build their nest in the ivy.(3)
Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is not a true ivy, but rather a relative of the grape vine. Its physical similarities to the ivy earned it the name American ivy, and it original latin name Vitis hederacea, but occasionally its nature will reveal itself when what should have been a tendril becomes a flowering branch and bears a full bunch of pea-sized grapes.(4)
Ivy's generic name Hedera is supposed to be derived from the Celtic word haedra, meaning a cord, or from the Greek hedra, a seat. Ivy's English name is said to stem from iw, meaning green, because of its evergreen nature. The yew tree's name is derived from the same word.(5)

History and Uses

Ivy's greatest use is as an ornamental covering of buildings and walls; it is said to be the only plant which doesn't make walls damp. Its leaves, from the way they fall, act as a curtain, forming a sort of armor against the environment and holding and absorbing all rain and moisture. The leaves are rarely hurt by frost, and do not suffer from smoke or polluted air. Ivy can live to a great age, its stems becoming woody and reaching a considerable size, sometimes up to a foot in size.(6)
In the past, ivy was used in lathes by turners, but as the wood is very soft, it was seldom used in England except for sharpening the knives of leather-dressers. The wood is very porous, and was at one time mistakenly thought to separate wine from water; actually, the wood absorbs the color of the liquid passed through it. In early America it was used in thin slices as a filter. In Scotland, an ivy leaf was the identifying badge of the Gordons.(7)


Robinson says the flowers of English ivy (H. helix) decocted in wine relieves dysentery, and Culpepper tells us the yellow berries are good for the spitting of blood and jaundice, and the white berries, taken internally, will kill worms. He also says the berries will 'break the stone,' presumably a kidney-stone, and promote urine and menstrual flows.(8) According to the old English Leechbook of Bald; to relieve sunburn, smear the face with young ivy twigs boiled in butter.(9)
The leaves of ivy are antispasmodic, but are primarily used as an external wash for sores, burns, cuts, dandruff, and other skin problems. Lust warns us that the leaves may cause dermatitis in sensitive people. Small doses of ivy are said to dilate the blood vessels, and large doses to constrict them. NOTE: English ivy is also said to break down red blood corpuscles by releasing their hemoglobin, and Lust says the whole plant, including the berries, is poisonous, and should be used only under medical supervision.(10)
American Ivy (P. quinquefolia) bark and twigs are tonic, astringent, alterative, and expectorant. It is good for coughs, colds, and bronchitis, and also has been used for a rare disease, scrofula. The bark or twigs are usually made into a syrup, but a decoction can also be used.(11)
Grieve's entry on American ivy says it has stimulating, diaphoretic, and cathartic properties, but she doesn't say what part she's referring to.(12) She does say the berries are strongly purgative and emetic. They are good for fevers; in early England, they were infused in vinegar and used to treat plague and similar diseases. During the Great Plague of London, the berries were used because of their antiseptic and perspiration-inducing qualities.(13) The resin of ivy, extracted from the stems, is said to be a good filling for a hollow tooth. The leaves are aperient and emetic; the juice of the leaves is said to cure headache when applied to the nostrils, and an infusion of the leaves and berries is good for a severe headache. A decoction of the leaves, applied externally, will destroy head lice, and fresh bruised leaves will relieve bunions and corns.(14)


Ivy's primary association is with wine and Bacchus, to whom the plant is dedicated. Bacchus wore a wreath of ivy on his head, and the wearing of ivy leaves to prevent intoxication was an old custom.(15) According to Meyers, who claims "there is a great antipathy between wine and ivy," the leaves would protect one from drunkenness, and the effects of intoxication were removed if a handful of ivy leaves were bruised and gently boiled in wine and drunk.(16) Early English taverns and innkeepers hung a sign depicting an ivy bush over their doors to "indicate the excellence of the liquor supplied within: hence the saying 'Good wine needs no bush.'(17)"
Throughout the ages, ivy has been regarded as a symbol of fidelity; Greek priests presented ivy wreaths to newly-married people. Ivy leaves also formed the poet's crown.(18)
Ivy has a strong tradition at Christmas, along with holly. Both were plants of power, especially useful for protection in the dead of the year(19). The custom of decorating houses and churches with Ivy at Christmas was forbidden by one of the early Councils of the Church, because of its pagan associations, but the custom is still observed.(20, 21)
In the Highlands and islands of Scotland ivy kept evil away from the milk, butter, and animals. Ivy circlets, or ivy plaited with honeysuckle and rowan, were hung over the doorway of the barn and put under the milk pails on the night before May Day. In France, ivy is one of the herbs of St. John collected before the fires were lit on St. Johns' Eve (June 21). (22) And in Shropshire, people believed that if children drank milk out of cups made of ivy-wood, it would cure whooping cough.(23)


(1) Grieve, Mrs. M. A Modern Herbal (2 volumes). 1931. Dover Publications, Inc., New York, NY, pg. 440.
(2) Grieve, pg. 441, quoting from Professor Henslow, Floral Rambles in Highways and Byways.
(3) Grieve, pg. 441.
(4) Ibid, pg. 840.
(5) Ibid, pg. 840.
(6) Ibid, pg. 441.
(7) Ibid, pg. 441.
(8) Culpepper, Nicholas. Culpepper's Complete Herbal. W. Foulsham & Co., Ltd., London (originally written in 17th century), pg. 201.
(9) Ibid, pg. 442.
(10) Lust, John. The Herb Book. 1974. Bantam Books, New York, NY, pg. 183.
(11) Ibid, pg. 97; Hutchens, Alma R. Indian Herbology of North America. 1973. Shambhala Publications, Boston, MA, pg. 165.
(12) NOTE: Culpepper's uses for English ivy are similar to Grieve's uses for American ivy, and her description of American ivy's properties are very different from my other, more modern, references. I think she may have begun talking about American ivy, but then gone off on a tangent with the true (English) ivy. At any rate, when looking for practical medicinal uses, always refer to the more modern text, as the old herbalists did not seem to hesitate to use poisonous plants to achieve their ends.
(13) Grieve, pg. 840.
(14) Ibid, pg. 840-841.
(15) Ibid, pg. 441.
(16) Hutchens, pg. 165, quoting from Meyers, Joseph E. The Herbalist. 1939. Published by J.E. Meyers, USA.
(17) Grieve, pg. 441.
(18) Ibid, pg. 441.
(19) Grigson, Geoffrey. The Englishman's Flora. 1955. Phoenix House LTD, London, England, pg. 116.
(20) Grieve, pg. 441.
(21) For more info, see Folklore & Practical Uses: Holly, Issue #3, July 1993.
(22) Grigson, pg. 207.
(23) Ibid, pg. 116.


by Freya and Epona

Ivy is the eleventh moon of the Celtic lunar/tree calendar. It is during this moon that one must deal with the battle between clarity and confusion--searching for clarity on a sea of confusion. As you drift around searching for clarity, you find yourself bombarded with confusing messages and unclear ideas. You may discover that while you feel you are clear on an issue, there is still a part of you that is not so sure.
It is also during this time of year that the female energies are at their strongest. Most likely, your experience of this moon will be determined by your balance of male (yang) and female (yin) energies. On the norm, women begin to feel stronger and more in tune to those around them. On the other hand, men seem to have crossed a line into absolute chaos. (Try to imagine pigs on rollerskates!) This is why some women appear to be very dominating over the men in the lives around this time of year.
This battle of clarity vs. confusion, and yin vs. yang, is best symbolized by the legend of the Wild Hunt. In one form it is depicted as a roebuck fleeing through a thicket, pursued by a hunter, who hopes to ensnare the creature in his net.
Psychologically speaking, the roebuck is the out-of-control yang energies and the low self. The low self is our child-like unconscious which drives our base instincts and emotions. The hunter and the net are symbolic of the yin energies and the middle self; which is our rational, conscious self. The capture of the roebuck in the net represents the low self/yang being reigned in and integrated with the middle self/yin.
I realize that this may appear very confusing (ha, ha); however, it is typical of the moon and nothing new. A recommendation to help this feeling is to wear a wreath of ivy on your head, as the Bacchanalian revelers did to overcome their drunken state.

From whenth, springs the whitened roe?
In what moon a-hunting stag will you go?
For your return from what you see
I send silver branches of an apple tree.

- by Epona


by Muirghein ó Dhún Aonghasa (Linda Kerr)

Cytisus scoparius - Broom. Indigenous to England, grows wild all over temperate Europe and northern Asia, on sandy pastures and heaths. Sparingly naturalized in sandy soil in North America.
Phragmites communis - Reed grass. Tall wetland grass found around margins of streams and in wet lowlands.
Typha latifolia - Broad leaf cattail. Worldwide range. Common to North America.
T. angustifolia - Narrow leaf cattail. Worldwide range. Common to North America.

Reed seems to be a generic name for any tall, reed- or grass-like plant, usually growing on sandy soils or near water. Some plants which would qualify are the cattail, reed-grass, wild rice, bamboo, and broom. Broom has a long colorful history, and a great many uses, so that is what this article will concentrate on, although others will be touched upon.


Broom is a colorful, hardy, deciduous shrub, which looks very much like its namesake; and was, in fact, used for broom-making in the past. It grows to a height of 3 to 5 feet, and produces numerous long, slender, erect bright green branches, which are very flexible and tough. It generally doesn't have leaves, but if growing in wet places, will develop leaves consisting of three small, oval leaflets, or single leaflets near the top of the plant. Its large, bright yellow flowers contain pollen but no nectar; to expel its pollen the flower 'explodes' when landed on by a bee, who is then dusted with the pollen. After a second and more violent explosion, the bee is struck on the back with the stigma, and can then gather pollen with its mouth and legs. These flowers are followed by oblong, shaggy pods, which burst when the seeds are ripe, flinging them some distance. "The continuous crackling of the bursting seed-vessels on a hot, sunny July day is readily noticeable."(1)

History & Uses

Broom is now known as Cytisus scoparius, although in the past it was named Spartium scoparium, Genista scoparius, and Sarothamnus scoparius. The name Sarothamnus is formed from the Greek words meaning 'to sweep' and 'a shrub,' and scoparius is from the Latin scopa, a besom (broom). Its medieval name was Planta genista, connecting the broom to the family of Plantagenets in England. One legend tells how this came to be: Geoffrey of Anjou came upon the broom plant as he was going into battle, and plucked it out to place in his helmet. He is reputed to have said: "This golden plant, rooted firmly amid rock, yet upholding what is ready to fall, shall be my cognizance. I will maintain it on the field, in the tourney and in the court of justice."(2) After his descendent, Henry II, also adopted it, it gave its name to his family line, the Plantagenets. Broom was adopted very early as the badge of Brittany, and its first official heraldic appearance in England was on the Great Seal of Richard I. Broom is also the badge of the Forbes of Scotland.(3)
The uses of broom are many; the twigs and branches are good not only for making brooms, but also for baskets, and in the north of England and Scotland for thatching cottages and cornricks, and as substitutes for reeds in making fences. The bark of broom yields an excellent fiber, similar to flax; and has been used for manufacturing paper and cloth. The bark also contains considerable amounts of tannin, which has been used for tanning leather. The seeds have been used as a substitute for coffee. Before the introduction of hops, broom tops were used to render a bitter flavor to beer, and make it more intoxicating.(4) "Shepherds have long been aware of the narcotic properties of Broom, due to Sparteine, having noticed that sheep after eating it become at first excited and then stupefied, but the intoxicating effects soon pass off."(5)
The roots of broom will hold the earth together when planted on a steep bank, and it is one of the first plants to grow on sand dunes, flourishing near the sea spray. It is a good sheltering plant for sea-side growth, and also a protective shelter for wild game and other types of shrubs.(6)


In some parts of England, the broom was thought a sign of plenty when it bore many flowers. The flowering tops were used in decorating the house for the Whitsuntide festival, but it was considered unlucky to use them for any menial chores when in full bloom.(7)
Broom is a plant of love and magic. At rustic weddings, a bunch of green broom tied with colored ribbons was carried when the usual rosemary was unavailable.8 Its magical powers are seen in an old ballad, in which a lady fears losing her 'maiden-head' in a meeting with a knight. But a witch-woman tells her:
"But when y gang to Broomfield Hills,
Walk nine times round and round;
Down below a bonny burn bank,
Ye'll find your love sleeping sound--
(The nine times' walking has put him to sleep:)
Ye'll pull the bloom frae aff the broom,
Strew't at his head and feet,
And aye the thicker that ye do strew
The sounder he will sleep." (9)
Broom was also connected with fairies and elves; in the ballad of Tam Lin, the Queen of the Fairies speaks from a bush of broom. In another ballad, a lady who has been seduced by an elfin knight uses the power of the broom to see through his wiles. And in a poem from the 13th century, a wife consults the magic broom:
"Tell me, being in the broom,
Teach me what to do
That my husband
Love me true.
When your tongue is still,
You'll have your will." (10)


"Broom was used in ancient Anglo-Saxon medicine and by the Welsh physicians of the early Middle Ages. It had a place in the London Pharmacopoeia of 1618 and is included in the British Pharmacopoeia of the present day."(11) Some of its official forms are Broom Juice (Succus Scoparii), obtained by pressing out the bruised, fresh tops, and adding alcohol; and Infusion of Broom (Infusum Scoparii), made by infusing the dried tops with boiling water for 15 minutes, then straining.(12)
Broom seeds are emetic, and the tops are diuretic and cathartic, and were used in the form of decoctions or infusions for bladder and kidney infections.(13) Although still used in folk medicine in Europe, broom is considered too dangerous by American herbalists.(14) The tops may have hallucinogenic properties when smoked in cigarettes, but Lust tells us that large doses of broom can cause fatal poisoning.(15)
The toxic constituent of broom is Sparteine, which in small doses slows the heart for a short period of time, then increases its rate while also raising the pulse. In large doses, Sparteine causes vomiting and purging, weakens the heart, depresses the nerve cells, and lowers blood pressure. It bears a strong resemblance to the action of hemlock on the heart, and in extreme cases, causes death by impairing the action of the respiratory organs.(16) As it both slows down the heart and stimulates uterine contraction, it was once used in this country to slow the pulse in cardiac disturbances and to induce labor, but its use has been discontinued because of its toxicity.(17)

Other Reed-Like Plants

Reed grass, Phragmites communis, is a tall wetland grass, with lance-shaped leaves up to 1 foot in length, and flowers in a tall, dense plume. The plants grow in a dense cluster. The Chinese use this plant to clear fevers, quench the thirst, and promote diuresis and salivation. The plant is also edible; the first shoots of spring may be eaten raw, but are best steamed until tender. Chop the shoots up and place in a steamer for 5 minutes. Make sure you use the plant immediately after harvesting; otherwise it becomes very tough and stringy. In the fall, the seeds may be stripped, crushed and cooked with wild berries. The seeds may also be ground into flour, or cooked in stews and soups. The root contains starch, which can be leached out.(18)
Cattails, Typha latifolia (broad leaf) & T. angustifolia (narrow leaf), are a familiar plant around lake sides, and are a versatile food. The roots, new shoots, flowering heads, and spikes are edible. (Caution: before eating cattail shoots, learn to distinguish them from their poisonous look-alike iris shoots.)(19)
Find the shoots in the spring, reach down into the mud and pull. Peel off the outer leaves; underneath is the tender tongue, or core. This is whitish and crisp, and may be used as an asparagus substitute. Sauté this core for 3 to 5 minutes in butter; season with a few drops of soy sauce, and a pinch of wild ginger.(20)
A bit deeper in the soil is the long root where the cattail was attached. The root core is an excellent source of starch. Eat the root raw as a quick energy food, or crush the dried roots in cold water and leach out the starch. This starch may be added to soups and stews as a thickener, like arrow-root.(21) The inner portions of the root and stem can be cut into 1 or 2 inch pieces and cooked in soups or stews. The root is fairly rich in starch and sugar, and a sweet-tasting flour can made from it. This is similar to rice and corn flour, and very nutritious. The Indians would macerate and boil the roots to produce a syrup used for a sweetener for other dishes.(22)

Cattail Pastries:

2 cups cattail flour
1 tsp salt
2 cups water
vegetable oil
"Scrape and clean several cattail roots. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet in a 200 F oven to dry overnight. Skin roots and remove fibers. Pound roots until fine. Allow to stand overnight to dry. In a saucepan, bring salted water to a boil. Remove from heat and fold in flour. Beat until mixture forms a thick paste. Cool to room temperature. In a deep fryer, heat about 3 inches of oil to a temperature of 400 F or until oil smokes. Spoon out dough onto a floured cookie sheet to form a cake 1/4 inch thick. Cut ribbons 1/2 inch wide and about 5 inches long. Carefully lift ribbons into the hot oil. Deep-fry for 5 minutes or until golden brown, turning at least once. Lift out and set on a paper towel to drain off grease. Serve hot with honey spread on top."(23)

About mid-June, the male flowering head of the cattail, located above the female flower spike, may be stripped off. This high-protein flour extender will keep in your freezer for 8 months. Meuninck suggests adding the male parts the pollen, anthers and stamens to your favorite pancake mix, about 1 cup of cattail parts to 2 cups of mix. You could also try the pollen and cattail parts mixed with equal parts whole-wheat flour in cookies, muffins, biscuits and bread.(24) This flour contains protein, sulphur, phosphorus, carbohydrates, sugar, and oil.(25) For a high-energy food, mix 5 parts cattail pollen with 1 part raw honey. This is quick to prepare, and has a long storage life if refrigerated below 40°F.(26)
The young female bloom spike can be cooked like corn-on-the-cob. Gather the green spikes in early spring, and boil or steam in lightly salted water, about 10-15 minutes, till tender. Drain, and serve with butter. The very young spikes may be eaten raw.(27)
Along with its great food value, cattail has other uses: Indians lined papoose baskets with the soft down from the blooms; pioneers used the stems for candle molds; and people dipped the spikes in coal oil and used them for torches. The fibers from the blossoms, stems and leaves can be used as jute, and for stuffing furniture and making burlap and webbing; and the fluffy flowers can be pressed and made into a good sound and heat insulating material.(28) Cattails also have a few medicinal properties: they have been used to treat gonorrhea, worms, and diarrhea, and the chopped root can be applied to burns and minor cuts. The Chinese use the plant to stop bleeding.(29)


1 Grieve, Mrs. M. A Modern Herbal (2 volumes). 1931. Dover Publications, Inc., New York, NY. pg. 124-125.
2 Ibid, pg. 125.
3 Ibid, pg. 125.
4 Ibid, pg. 126.
5 Ibid, pg. 127.
6 Ibid, pg. 125.
7 Ibid, pg. 125.
8 Ibid, pg. 126.
9 Grigson, Geoffrey. The Englishman's Flora. 1955. Phoenix House LTD, London, England, pg. 128.
10 Ibid, pg. 129.
11 Grieve, pg. 124.
12 Ibid, pg. 127.
13 Ibid, pg. 127.
14 Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. Edited by Claire Kowalchik and William H. Hylton. 1987. Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA, pg. 55.
15 Lust, John. The Herb Book. 1974. Bantam Books, New York, NY, pg. 349-350. 16 Grieve, pg. 127.
17 Rodale's, pg. 55.
18 Meuninck, Jim. Edible Wild Plants and Useful Herbs: The Basic Essentials of. 1988. ICS Books, Inc., Merrillville, IN, pg. 4.
19 Ibid, pg. 1.
20 Ibid, pg. 1.
21 Ibid, pg. 2.
22 Harris, Ben Charles. Eat the Weeds. 1961. Keats Publishing, Inc., New Caanan, CN, pg. 103.
23 Hunt, David (ed.). Native Indian Wild Game, Fish & Wild Foods Cookbook. 1992. Fox Chapel Publishing Co., Lancaster, PA, pg. 208.
24 Meuninck, pg. 2.
25 Harris, pg. 103.
26 Meuninck, pg. 2.
27 Ibid, pg. 2.
28 Harris, pg. 105.
29 Meuninck, pg. 2.


by Imré and Muirghein ó Dhún Aonghasa (Linda Kerr)

The twelfth moon of the Beth-Luis-Nion calendar is Reed, or Ngetal. The Reed moon is a time to protect the home and prepare for the coming winter. The ancient Egyptians used Reed to form the shafts of their arrows. In cast of attack, these arrows would saturate the air and swiftly fly, like the rays of the sun, towards their enemies. For this reason, the Pharaohs, who were believed to be gods on the Earth, used these solar rays to signify their divine royalty, displaying their command of the sun.
Ngetal brings the harsh winter season to the old Celtic lands. In Ireland, the Reed was used to thatch roofs; this was an effective way to protect the house from the cold winter air. It was believed that a house was not completed until its roof was properly thatched (the mystery of the number 12 established power and order).
Reed also speaks to us of the death of the year. The dried river beds, carpeted with the tall Reed, rattle the haunting call of death as the blistering cold winds dive through them. The screech of the night owl, the bird of Reed, warns of the death of a loved one.
This is a time of change, which to some can be terrifying. If, in the previous moon, you did not reign in your low self, your base emotions, they can run rampant with you now. As the end of the year creeps towards us, we feel the need for companionship, but are frequently not happy with our own company. Use this moon to go inside yourself; examine your feelings, your emotions, your unconscious self. Repressed emotions will only spill over; they must be acknowledged, and gently brought to light.
There is another side to Reed-the joy of music. Music to still the fluttering heart, music to lay ease to the shadows beyond the firelight, and in the depths of the unconscious. For what overcomes terror but joy? Music can also bring companionship and brighten the dark winter months.
"I am the threatening noise of the sea," proclaims the Reed before she reveals her deepest mystery-the mystery of protection and joy. For, although she reigns over the beginning of the season of death, she also provides the protection, within her wands, to aid the lonesome traveler through the path of icy death with the rays of the sun, which awaits its birth at the Winter Solstice.


- by Epona '81

Netting the roebuck of my raveling mind,
Around the twice-squared circle I run...
...To stop and suddenly See...

To and fro
The Spider weaves;
The mind in lunar light:
Perfect mirror...

To and fro
The Spider weaves,
But She knows Her nets
Are made for food and progeny.

How knows the Spider
Whither Her place to Spin?

She ceases Her netting to and fro
And flings Herself
Between the net just passed
And the net that's yet to be,
Flowing on Her silken cord,
Riding through Infinity.

And, then...
Once more,
To and from,
She weaves;
Once more She goes,


- by Epona '81

0 clinging vine,
Wrapping around the reedy stem.
0 grasping me,
Clinging to a core of Nothingness.
Through the very hollow of me
Is a channel of Life's flowing.

But a reed which never dies
Never sings...
And the reed, which sings with 'human' sounds,
Is still a reed,
With Hollow Core;
As is the dying reed,
Growing its song along restless shores.

The hollowness, the hallowedness,
Is there in life and death.
Just know:
The Flowing Through of Life
Is not changed
By clinging.
Only difference in the music,
The musing,
The reed may have
By its special form.
...The rest is Life's.

What are runes? Where are they derived from? How do you use them? These questions and more will be answered as I write this column each issue.
There are 24 Elder Futhark Runes of Germanic origin, 16 Younger Futhark Runes of Norse origin and 24 to 33 Old English Runes. Because of the interest in the Celtic revival, I will discuss the 24 Elder Futhark Runes used by the Anglo-Saxons.
"Futhark" refers to the first six runes of the Elder Runic Alphabet of German origin. They are Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansur, Rad, and Kano. They spell out FUTHARK.(1)
There are now 25 runes with the addition of the blank rune 'Wryd,' which was added sometime at the beginning of this century. Runes have been around for 2,000 years and some of the symbols are much older than that.
Wryd is a rune of the unknown, and represents the beginning, the end, and total trust. It is the Sanskrit Karma, that which we are, the total sum of what we once were, and the total sum of what we can become as our debts and credits shift. It requires that we take total responsibility for our own actions, be they good or bad.(2)
Wryd takes its name from the Norse Wryd, pronounced weird. Wryd is the collective name for the three beautiful Norse sisters known as the Norns. They are known as "Urdhr," past; "Verthandi," present; and "Skuld," future. They had the responsibility of keeping the yew tree Yggdrasil watered, pruned and looked after. They represented all knowledge, were special patrons of the art of divination, and had the power to weave destiny.(3)
The Norn sisters gave Odin the runes during his shamanic experience on the World Tree, Yggdrasil. Monica Sjoo, coauthor with Barbara Mor of Great Cosmic Mother, and illustrator of the cover of Ariadne's Thread by Skikhinah Mountainwater, was taught in her native country that the Norns were the originators of the runes.(4) This conforms with the transformation of Goddess matriarchal myths to the patriarchal myths. Nearly every source about the runes will give credit to Odin, with a vague reference as to who actually gave him the runes and the wisdom to understand them. Much of the truth is lost because the original wisdom was not written down, but was by word of mouth. Also, during the European mandatory conversion to the patriarchal religions, much was lost or combined into these religions.(5)
Some people are particular about their runes and do not loan them or let anyone touch them. I have a set of ceramic runes to teach others but my personal set is made from cherry wood. My cousin and three daughters all have runes made from oak wood. My husband cut the small rectangular 1" x 3/4" pieces for us and I burned the rune symbol into each piece while meditating upon the meaning of each. Runes can be made out of natural materials such as stone or from wood of any of the sacred trees, but please use discarded branches. Rune sets purchased from metaphysical stores can be expensive to purchase. A set that you make is very special and much cheaper. My husband calls my runes the 'little Druids.'
Runes should be stored in either handmade or store-bought bags with draw strings. They should be large enough to hold all the runes, and to allow a hand to go into the bag to pull a rune out. The bag used to store the runes should also be made from a natural material like cotton, leather or silk.
The easiest way to get started in rune divining is to ask a 'yes' or 'no' question. Mix the runes up in the rune bag and select one with the left hand, usually referred to as the pagan hand. One school of thought is that if you are right-handed, the right hand is active and conscious, while the left hand is passive and subconscious. If you are left handed, then the left hand represents the active and subconscious, while the right hand represents the passive and subconscious.(6)
There are eight runes that when turned are read the same either way and cannot be used in answering 'yes' or 'no' questions. Place them back in the bag if chosen, shake up the runes and choose another that can be reversed.

These are the runes that cannot be reversed:

Gifu - gifts, partnership, love, a kiss
Yr - defense, yew crossbow, check money resources
Ing - fertility, family, relationships, marriage
Jara - cycles, fruition, to complete a project
Hagal - disruptions, hail, can overcome eventually
Sigel - wholeness, sun, light, victory is possible
Daeg - day, breakthrough, can be different tomorrow
Is - ice, standstill, wait for a thaw then proceed

The runes that have reversed positions are:*

Ur - strength, aurochs, wild energy, health
Odal - inheritance, ancestral home, spiritual source
Os - signals, messenger, word of mouth, communication
Man - mankind, self, relationship you have with yourself and/or others
Eolh - protection, elk, be on guard
Nyd - pain, constraint, mandatory experience you would not have chosen but need
Peorth - initiation, cups, chance, secret, finding something you lost
Tir - victory, able to overcome an obstacle
Ken - torch, opening, fire, able to see the way
Wyn - joy, happiness
Feoh - possessions, cattle, nourishment, business
Rad - travel, wheel, cycle of life
Lagu - moon cycles, rhythms, flow, water, tides
Eh - movement, horse, progress, journey, job changes
Beorc - family, fertility, growth, birch tree, new beginning
Thom - gateway, Thor's hammer, protection

*Reversed positions have the opposite meaning of meaning above.


(1) Dolphin, Deon. Runic Magic. 1987. Newcastle Publishing Co., Inc., North Hollywood, CA, pg. 28.
(2) Peschel, Lisa. A Practical Guide To the Runes: Their Uses In Divination and Magick. 1991. Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN, pg. 30-33.
(3) Ibid.
(4) Mountainwater, Shekhinah. Ariadne's Thread: A Workbook.of Goddess Magic. 1991. The Crossing Press, Freedom, CA, pg. 218.
(5) Gadon, Elinor W. The Once and Future Goddess Magic. 1989. Harper & Row, Publishers, San Francisco, CA, pg, 111-114.
(6) Willis, Tony. The Runic Workbook: Understanding and Using the Power of Runes. 1990. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., New York, NY, pg. 30.

Stormy (Carol Thompson) lives in Auburn, AL with her husband Don and three daughters. Her interests are: esoteric study of runes; Wicca; and women's mythology. She is currently working on a book about runes.


Dear Editor:
I must voice my dismay at your inclusion of the poem "Pride Before the Fall" by Raven in the Hazel/Vine, September (Vol. I, No. 4) issue. I felt this poem to be insulting to the many solitary practitioners of Wicca. It seemed to imply that Solitaires are foolish enough to practice negative magick.
It is time for Pagans to stop Pagan-bashing. We all share basically the same beliefs and do many of the same things in our circles. We all love the Goddess and God by whatever names we know them. Leave the Pagan-bashing to the Fundies! Let all of us Druids, Gardnerians, Faerie Faith, Solitaires, Dianics, whatever live in peace with each other! I cannot stand to see my Pagan sisters and brothers snipe at each other over who is "more" Wiccan than whom. Let us finally realize that IT JUST DOES NOT MATTER HOW ONE COMES TO THE CRAFT! What matters is that we all felt and heard the call of the Goddess. The Lady and Lord have chosen each of us and who are we to question Their wisdom? After all, who initiated the first Witch?
Let us in the future emphasize our similarities and not our differences. As the saying goes, "We all come from the Goddess."
Love and Light,
Mirhanda Spellesinger
Oneida, TN

(Editor's reply)
Dear Mirhanda:

It seems that there is a constant, on-going battle within the Pagan, especially Wiccan, community regarding group vs. solitary status of a practitioner. I personally think this is silly and petty, but I do have a broader opinion of the matter.
Regardless of religion, spiritual path, or lack thereof, each being on this planet is a unique individual on a personal path. At various times during our journeys, we bump into people who have a certain flavor or twist to their path that may interest us and we tag along for as long as the flavor suits us. When we are no longer benefitting from the knowledge that they have to share, we give them our thanks and blessing and continue separately. People who make qualitative statements about other people's paths--i.e., 'solitaires' or 'group members' are better or worse than the other--are only making public statements of their own lack of self-esteem and understanding, and if that's what they need to make themselves feel worthwhile, then let them have it, because we know better.
I don't think Raven was attempting to state a political bias with her poem. Her words struck me as a statement warning the debutante of the dangers of becoming self-absorbed and egocentric when studying the magical arts. In this case, the neophyte refused the help of wiser teachers and started her own group (she didn't have circle alone). One does not have to join a coven or study group in order to receive a few words of wisdom from another (we all read books, and that certainly doesn't make us a member of the author's coven, although we are learning from them).
I thank you for your concern. I personally do not condone any kind of political architecture where religion is concerned and I will make every effort to keep that kind of propaganda out of THE HAZEL NUT.
Imre Rainey, Editor


The Art of Divination, by Scott Cunningham. 1993. The Crossing Press, Freedom, CA. Softcover, $12.95.

While this is not the only book on divination that you will ever need, it is an excellent overview of almost every method of divination ever used by humanity. This is an excellent reference for those who want to know more about divination or for those who haven't yet found a method that they like. There is also an excellent bibliography in the back to help the reader find a more in-depth study of his or her chosen method. Scott gives many methods of divinaiton--he even gives a method of divining the best method to divine with! The methods covered in this book include: alomancy, austromancy, bibliomancy, botanomancy, catoptromancy, cromniomancy, dactylomancy, lecanomancy, phyllorhodomancy, and tephramancy. There are many others in addition to this short list. For those who want to expand their knowledge of divination, or for those seeking a first book on divination, this book is recommended most highly.
Reviewed by Mirhanda Spellesinger

Wheel of the Year: Living the Magical Life, by Pauline Campanelli. 1990. Llewellyn Pulbications, St. Paul, MN. Softcover, $9.95.

This is a book no Witch should be without! It covers the year month-by-month and contains ways to celebrate our religion every day. Ms. Campanelli gives us many ideas aobut how to seasonally decorate our homes, much folklore, even spellwork! For example, the November chapter contains such information as: a fire-magic ritual, dressing ritual candles, the color wheel, the Wheel of the Year, an explanation of the Snow Moon, the Pagan origins of Thanksgiving, and much, much, more! The October chapter includes: apple traditions, a wassailing ritual, the Jack-o'Lantern, the Blood Moon, the Samhain Feast of the Dead, traditional methods of divination for Samhain--I could go on and on. I give this book my highest recommendation! At $9.95, this book--richly illustrated by Dan Campenelli-- is a steal. You will find yourself referring to this one over and over again!
Reviewed by Mirhanda Spellesinger