10 Questions with a Druid

James W. Maertens holds a doctorate in English literature from the University of Minnesota. He is a freelance writer of fiction and scholarly musings on the subjects of myth, Druidry, magic, and history. He is also a wandmaker and full-time, at-home Dad. He’s a Druid Companion of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, a member of the Ancient Order of Druids in America, and Chancellor of the Avalon Center for Druidic Studies, which he founded. James’s Druidic name is Alferian and his philosophical interests range from Taoism and neoplatonism to alchemy and ceremonial magic.

Avalon Center for Druidic Studies (http://www.avaloncollege.org) was founded in 2004 to be a school of higher education offering courses and study programs inspired by the ancient Druids, Bards, and Ovates. It is intended to become a center for the serious scholarly study of Druidic philosophy and ancient Celtic traditions. ACDS presently is developing a curriculum of online college-level courses and working towards establishing a physical campus offering residential study. For more information and to apply as a student or a teacher, please see their web site.

1. What is a Druid?

Well, that depends on who you ask. The ancient druids are known to us through the contemporary writings of Classical writers such as Julius Caesar who set out to conquer the Gauls in what is now France and who harassed the British in what is now the British Isles. The Romans tended to describe the old druids as priests of the Gauls and Britons, intellectual leaders, doctors, judges, seers and wizards. We have medieval Irish tales that speak of Druids as cultural and political leaders, advisers to kings, sometimes set in opposition to Christian missionaries such as St. Patrick. Merlin, the wizard of King Arthur in the romances has become a classic image for the Druids of old. Sort of the last survivor of the old class of wizards who advised the Celtic kings.

Today the term “druid” refers to people who are inspired by the bits and pieces of the pre-Christian Celtic myths and legends and the hints we have from the Classical historians. These folks are usually members of one of the many Druidic orders, some dating back to the 18th century. The Druid Revival that occurred in England and Wales in the 18th and 19th centuries attempted to emulate the ancient “priests of nature” and revere them as the indigenous British sages and wise men of the oak groves who fought against foreign conquerors. Some of the early antiquarians who started the oldest Druidic orders sincerely thought they were preserving an ancient wisdom older than that of the Christian church. They were seeking a spirituality rooted in their own land and its peoples, not in the Middle East and the Biblical history of Israel and the Abrahamic religions. Equally well, they sought a philosophy that was not Greek and Roman, for that was considered equally foreign. However, hardly
anyone today claims to be preserving the practices and lore of the Iron Age druids. We are all quite interested in the Celts as a kind of silent lost culture from which most Europeans descend one way or another. It is the part of European culture which was largely unknown until the Druid Revival and the Irish Renaissance in the last century because, unlike the Greeks and Romans, the Celts didn’t write down anything and left almost no stone monuments.

In the middle of the twentieth century, there was another surge of interest in the idea of the Druids both in Britain and in America, spurred partly by the boom in academic study of the ancient Celts. So, now there are several branches of what is sometimes called Druidry or Druidism. I myself categorize modern druids into three types.

First, there are political druid groups in England who aim to protect the people’s right to access Neolithic stone circles such as Stonehenge.

Second, there are religious druid groups who pursue Druidism as a Neopagan polytheism. Some of these don’t even focus on Celtic deities but seek to reconstruct a hypothetical Proto-Indo-European religion.

The third category are philosophical druids, whose organizations operate more like traditional magical orders or lodges, pursuing a particular current of initiation with their own individual ceremonies and approaches to meditation, healing, seership, and magic. The three categories obviously blend and are not meant to be mutually exclusive.

So, you see, because there is no single thing called “The Druid Path,” there can be no easy definition of what a Druid is – or indeed what they were two thousand years ago. And that’s really the center of the deal: Each person pursing their own inner druid and what it means for them to be a druid. It may mean practicing magic. It may mean worshiping Brighid and Lugh or Cernunnos and Cerridwen. It may mean being an ecologist with spritual leanings, or even an atheist who just feels a deep reverence and respect for Nature (however that is defined). Some druids today pursue what they see as ancient Celtic shamanism, a kind of religion that is like the sages and medicine workers of many tribal peoples around the world. Others are seeking connection to their own family roots in one or more of the Celtic-speaking cultures — often Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Brittany, Cornwall. Still others, myself included, are drawn to Druidry as a deep calling that cannot be readily explained by any obvious family connections. So, in the broadest terms, a modern druid is someone who feels some affinity
with those ancient wise men of the legends, about whom we know very little for a fact.

Finally, if that wasn’t complicated enough, the ancient Bards of Ireland, Wales, Scotland and elsewhere are considered to have been a part of the Druid order and the only part of it that survived openly in the medieval feudal courts. The Bards were (and are) storytellers, musicians, keepers of history, flatterers and satirists of the powerful.

In the broadest terms, the Bards were the creative artists of their times and understood how, for humans, reality is woven of words, images, and feelings. This also made a bard something of an enchanter.

2. Is being a Druid different from being a Wiccan or a Pagan?

Some modern Druids are Wiccan or eclectic witches, many consider themselves Pagans, but some are
Christians and some are atheists, so there is a definite difference. Modern Druidry in Britain was revived in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids around the same time that Gerald Gardner was creating Wicca. Of course, some Wiccans will deny that Gerald Gardner invented Wicca as such, but be that as it may, historically, the Druid orders of the British Druid revival contributed a lot of ritual imagery and structure to Wicca. Gardner was a member of the Ancient Druid Order, and the ADO was itself apparently influenced by the ceremonial magical tradition which draws on medieval and ancient Egyptian sources. So, there is a family resemblance among all these threads of philosophy and practice. And, again, the answer to your question all depends on what sort of Druidry one is practicing. Generalizing is hazardous, but from my experience Druid orders and local groves are
much less intimate groups than a witch’s coven.

The object of druid groves is not usually to perform magical rites, however the more polytheistic sort of druids do raise “energy” in group rituals for transformative purposes.

One generalization that is sometimes made is that druids are more cerebral and witches more ecstatic, but I think it’s very hard to generalize about either movement. For me it is more about quiet meditation and communion with trees and animals and plants and about creative endeavors, such as writing and wood-carving. For other druids, it might be about quite different things, but the desire to commune with nature and sacred places seems very common among druids. In America, I suspect the tendency is to want to commune with and connect to wilderness or places of great natural beauty, while in England and Ireland the desire is to connect to places of particular historical significance or places such as Glastonbury Tor and Stonehenge, which are obviously sacred places in the landscape of our British ancestors, even if we can only guess at the details of their practices and beliefs.

3. I’m (insert any religious denomination here). Can I be a Druid?

Yes, as long as your religion is compatible with a philosophy that is completely open to individual conscience, inspiration, and respect for all people and all beings. A lot of Neopagans were raised in Christian or Jewish households and have turned to Neopaganism of one sort or another as a way of finding a religion that was more respectful of Nature, sexuality, women, and which was not steeped in the ideas of sin, punishment, and authoritarianism. Certainly, some ancient European pagan cultures were quite patriarchal and did not take an ecological point of view. But still, the root ideas of these religions of the country folk (the “paganus” in Latin) inspire a religion that returns modern people to a deeper connection with Nature and the cycle of the seasons, instead of the profound alienation that most people experience in modern Western culture.

One can find similar movements within Christianity certainly. The Traditional British Druid orders were founded as fraternal organizations and, like Freemasonry, did not require a member to renounce his or her religious beliefs, whatever they were. Orders such as OBOD and the AODA (Ancient Order of Druids in America) are not constituted as strictly “pagan” organizations. Avalon Center is the same way. While the study programs we offer are often of particular interest to Neopagans, the Center does not promulgate any particular religion,nor is it a religious organization.

4. I have horrible allergies. Seriously, I’m allergic to just about anything that grows outside. Is my destiny as a Druid ruined?

No. While druids do like to carry on outdoors and in the Natural surroundings, there is a side to Druidry,
especially as expressed in orders like the OBOD, which is mainly contemplative and focused on work in one’s “inner grove” within the imagination that is the doorway to the Otherworld.

Study of divination, healing, and the bardic arts are all part of OBOD’s Druidry and certainly the Druidry that Avalon Center embraces. And, of course, many if not most druids today live in cities. My own vision of a center for Druidic learning places our campus in a rural setting and has the students working with gardens, animals, and forestry, as well as learning the arts of sustainable living, but there is such a range of interests and ways of pursuing one’s own sacred expression that it is pretty wide open.

5. If I become a Druid do I get to have some cool magical name?

You can do that without becoming a Druid. Many druids today follow the tradition of magical lodges and take Druidic names, sometimes at each grade of Druidry (if they have grades in their particular tradition).

My own Druidic name (Alferian Gwydion MacLir) combines three parts that were bestowed on me by my inner guides at the grades of Bard, Ovate, and Druid within OBOD. The three names are actually from three languages — Elvish, Welsh, and Irish — and that triplicity and interweaving of language influences is part of my own peculiar Druidry. The purpose is not to get a “cool” name but to take a name that signifies your self-transformation into something new. Many druids take names from Celtic mythology or one of the Celtic languages, but many also follow the Native American tradition and chose animal names. A magical name is sometimes kept completely secret, like a secret identity, distinct from one’s public face. Many receive their names from their inner guides during meditation.

6. Do I have to be British to be a Druid, or does it just help?

No, you do not have to be British or have Celtic blood ancestry to be a druid in most groups. Very few modern druids consider it to be a matter of nationality. The larger druid organizations draw members from all over the world and the AODA is a specifically American group that has historical connections to the traditional British orders. ADF (Ar n’Draiocht Féin) is a different sort of organization that promulgates religious Druidism and Neopaganism more generally, but has separated itself from the Wiccan traditions. But nevertheless, ADF is primarily an American organization and most of its members are American. Traditional British Druidry does, however, focus a good deal on the sacred landscape of Britain and Ireland and on the languges and concepts of those cultures in their pre-Roman forms. The Arthurian legends also figure prominently in the teachings of orders such as the OBOD. So, if you are an American Anglophile like me its fine, but if you have no interest in the history and culture of Britian and Ireland (or some region of Old Celtic Europe), then your druidry will probably take a somewhat different form. I believe many American druids are influenced strongly by the shamanic spiritual culture and myths of Native American tribal peoples. Indeed, so are many of the British Druids.

7. Your school talks about the “Bardic tradition”. If you would kindly demonstrate this by writing a poem about The Magical Buffet?

There once was a girl named Rebecca
Whose tastes ranged from London to Mecca
She offered up choices
From alchemy to oysters
In a buffet for magical trekkers.

8. Who is your favorite character from The Lord of the Rings trilogy?

Oh, that’s a tough one. Galadriel, I’d say. I quite identify with Bilbo, however.

9. Arthur or Lancelot?

Arthur.

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question?

What is the capital of Assyria?

(Ahem, cough) Assyria in earliest historical times referred to a region on the Upper Tigris river, named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur. Later, as a nation and Empire, it also came to include roughly the northern half of Mesopotamia (the southern half being Babylonia) the capital being Nineveh. (thank you www.wikipedia.org!)

High Performance Symbolism: The Jaguar

By Rebecca
Known for its power and grace it is no wonder that a manufacturer of luxury cars would chose the jaguar as its emblem. Unfortunately for you motoring enthusiasts this month’s column is not about the cars but about the animal. We’re going to discuss the jaguar as a symbol.

Jaguar: Master of Cars
Jaguar: Master of Cars

Everyone is familiar with the animal, but we’re not talking about a mere mortal animal, we’re talking about the jaguar as something more than flesh; we’re exploring it as a symbol for larger things. Generally, you will find the jaguar being treated as a symbol amongst the native tribes of Central America since they derive most of their traditions from the ancient Aztec and Mayan cultures. Let me tell you, those Mayans and Aztecs respected the jaguar…and for more reasons than it could eat you!

For the Mayans the jaguar was the master of animals and a creature of the underworld. It was said that their eyes were a passage to the underworld, and more so, if you gazed into the eyes of a jaguar your future would be revealed to you. I’m guessing a one-way ticket to the underworld was a common prediction revealed through this practice! For the Aztecs the jaguar was the guardian of the four pathways of the world. To the Toltecs the jaguar represented the moon. (For those of you with inquiring minds, the eagle represented the sun.) The coming of twilight was attributed to a jaguar devouring the sun. You can imagine the Toltecian irony if somehow they stumbled across a jaguar eating an eagle!

The Popol Vuh, a collection of ancient myths of the Quiche Mayans, references the jaguar often. Most notably when they list the symbols one with authority to rule must possess amongst them is the paw of a jaguar. You know, the guy took out a jaguar, are you going to tell him he doesn’t have the authority to rule?

Jaguar: Master of Animals
Jaguar: Master of Animals

For modern Central American shamanistic cultures, the jaguar is the premier guide. (Much the way it is the premier vehicle in the world of cars! Man, I should be getting some cash from Jaguar for this column!) Only the strongest, most powerful shaman can claim that he works with the jaguar. If they are truly worthy, they may even take on the form of the animal!

So, what does this all mean? It means that the jaguar is not only a beautiful animal and a fine automobile but a creature that has come to embody something more. The jaguar represents the moon, the underworld, it is the guardian of the pathways; themes that are echoed in the myths and legends of many cultures. It is just another thread in the tapestry that weaves all of humanity together.

On a non-symbolic note, the jaguar was declared an endangered species for the United States on March 28, 1972.
To learn more about this animal and what you can do to help it visit www.fws.gov

The Art of Telling a Ghost Story

by David Pitkin

Long before the human past was recorded in writing, tales of the heroic and mysterious experiences of the ancestors were being told around campfires. In this way culture, values and a sense of wonder were passed on. Even in our more modern and “scientific” times, Americans love to sit and listen to tales of the supernatural, stories that push the envelope of imagination.

In my ten-year experience as a teller of ghost stories, I’ve discovered that most attendees have had an unnerving, perhaps ghostly, experience of some sort. So, it is a ghost story teller’s dream, to have an audience with the proper “mind set” before the first word is spoken. The listener most enjoys a tale that might easily have happened to them, whether or not it is true. There is an extra chill, however, when I bring my history teacher’s background and skepticism to the talk. I pass on only those stories that my research suggests are true.

Thus, people enjoy stories that feature the individual, be it a child, housewife, soldier or businessman…someone like them. In this way, they can identify with the thrill of each word, imagining or remembering their own experiences with the uncanny. Thus, in setting the scene, my stories usually begin with the state or country where the tale originates, and from there, we go to the town or city, then down to the neighborhood, store or dwelling. By the time I am describing the house, church, business place or school, everyone is hooked, even though many are still trying to remain objective.

In every audience there are those who desperately want to have their boundaries of thought and experience breached. They hope for an adrenaline rush or chill as they identify with the protagonists of the story being suddenly confronted with mystery. The location of each individual’s boundary lies in a different place. Some hope for a tale so horrific that they will not dare to fall asleep at night; others expect only to be intrigued by the story’s elements. So, a recitation of the facts of a story might terrorize one individual while bringing only a slight smile to the face of another. My motivation in storytelling is not to create fear in my listeners, though some depart from the story session scared. No, my aim is to speak (often humorously) about the often-usual death and reappearance of a person just like us.

Years ago, I chose not to try scaring people because today’s headlines can do that job better than I. My motivations are to speak about death and its survival by some part of the departed human personality. Often, audience members are wide-eyed when I recount stories from my personal experience, as I’ve seen, heard, touched, been touched, walked through, and smelled entities that are apparently ghosts. And I have had many dream contacts that I deem genuine. Yet, ghosts hint that what we call life or consciousness does go on despite bodily death. And, as this process happens no matter how horribly an individual dies, I tend to recount the episode in a humorous way; what is there to be scared of?

While stating the known facts of any story, one has to avoid too much dogmatism. It seems not wise to force the listener to a conclusion. Ghost stories are far more effective and entertaining if the speaker provides the known facts of the case, then lead the listener to draw his/her own conclusions. When the audience arrives at a scary finale within themselves, it seems that the outcome of the storytelling is much more satisfactory to them.

Human beings the world over are more alike than unalike, so that a good story should be able to translate to other cultures. An example of this is the “hitchhiker ghost,” a genre of ghost tales. In these tellings, the protagonist is always driving or sailing along blissfully and encounters (with many variations) a stranger. The stranger is in need of transportation from that spot to another and the traveler offers to help. Again, with so many alterations, the stranger always tells a brief story and then disappears; leaving the subject shaken when the traveler learns the story was true. This type of story is found in cultures worldwide. Likewise, there are the “murdered peddler stories” throughout eastern America.

It seems necessary that the effective storyteller must involve the listener’s emotions and not just their intellect, as it is in the feelings that we are most vulnerable and sensitive. A strictly non-emotional recitation of an episode’s facts will eventually put an audience to sleep. Good emotional stories, as Hollywood knows, touch us where we live.

The listener, as hero or heroine of his/her own life, almost always identifies with the traveler, as that is essentially the role we all play in life. Then, when, at story’s end, the traveler discovers that such a person did, in fact, exist and often met some horrible end, the listener is first shocked, then immediately grins or laughs out loud at the implausibility of it all. Later, reflecting on the story, the individual may draw certain philosophical conclusions and attempt to refute the apparent truth of the tale.

Ghost stories, as well as stories in general, are most effectively told, I think, if the storyteller moves about while talking, engaging each listener eye-to-eye. Gestures are another part of the story’s effectiveness for some reason, though I haven’t fully discovered why. Bodily movements are ages-old devices for speakers, and this lesson is not lost on modern-day politicians.

There is another quality residing in listeners which often makes the storyteller seem greater or wiser than he/she is. Each of us has a wealth of experiences and memories secreted in our unconscious mind. Each individual also possesses an almost totally forgotten fund of dream scenarios, images and early-life experiences. Therefore, each listener at a storytelling event (especially on occasions where the basic issues of life and death are related) brings more to the experience than they realize. Good storytelling energizes that hidden or forgotten part of our self, and thus the recited tales seem credible.

My experiences with parapsychology and counseling psychology have taught me much about the universal self or soul that transcends the single lifetime. If indeed, as I suspect, there is a much greater purpose to life than America’s search for constant amusement, then there must be an “operations center” within us that continually seeks new connections to truth and profound meaning. In the midst of a good story experience, I believe, that hidden part of us is energized. Therefore, no two listeners will hear the same story. Each takes away from the episode a different realization, conclusion or lesson. It is as if an artist painted a scene containing several elements, and each viewer at the gallery enjoyed and remembered a different item afterward.

In the end, good stories and good storytellers can help us connect with that which is universal and transcendent in us all. The greatest mystery is not so much the ghost stories I love and love to tell, as it is the eternal quest for a lasting meaning that we have pursued through time.

As a retired teacher of world cultures and religions, Pitkin taught 36 years in NY State schools. In 1974, following a major illness, he began a quest for enlightenment in parapsychology and developed an expertise in numerology. He had visited a haunted barn in 1968 and, following a study of the Riley House in Saratoga Springs, NY, became a dedicated collector of the details of hauntings. Traditional religions, he found, offer little constructive information about the souls trapped between the physical realm and the eternal, spurring him to write his successful “Saratoga County Ghosts” in 1998. Now a widely-sought after speaker, he has appeared frequently throughout the eastern United States.

Profile: Coven Oldenwilde

Article Provided by Coven Oldenwilde

Coven Oldenwilde is a deliciously wicked mix of olde world and new — a wildlife habitat and 3-story Appalachian Covenstead, and a cutting-edge training ground in the Bible belt that teaches Witches worldwide savvy ways to eliminate religious persecution.

Founded on Samhain in 1994, the Coven is a 501(c) (3) religious nonprofit that practices a blend of traditional British Gardnerianism and experiential Italian Strega magic, led by High Priestess Lady Passion and High Priest *Diuvei (authors of the critically acclaimed The Goodly Spellbook: Olde Spells for Modern Problems).

Bold advocates of the antiquity, beauty, and validity of the Olde Religion in everyday life, the pair has garnered extensive coverage of their trail-blazing spiritual activism in print (AP, Washington Post), radio (BBC, NPR), and TV news (CNN, etc.).

“We became politically-adept early on by experience,” explains *Diuvei. “We learned the only way to thrive was to insist on our rights by publicizing the buried laws that upheld them, and to expose bigots’ own words to the light of print. This method evokes public sympathy, and has made Asheville a safe haven for thousands of Witches who move here each year from all over the nation.”

One of many successful examples from their extensive Wiccan web site: their campaign against North Carolina’s anti-divination law forced legislators to repeal it in 2004. International celebrity spokes-Witches, Lady Passion and *Diuvei often work Witchcraft for TV studios (Universal, Sci-Fi), production companies (A. Smith & Co., L.A., Trafford Media, England), and series (Extra!, Finding America).

“Last year we were filmed circling with an Indian family from war-torn Kashmir. Their 16 year-old daughter had made her own black cape and robe and was breath-takingly beautiful. They all danced a Cone of Power with us and played music with all their hearts. It was absolutely inspiring!”

For the past 30 years Lady Passion and *Diuvei have helped thousands of people worldwide solve their medical, magical, and legal problems. Legal clergy, they marry and bury folks, sponsor prison and military Covens nationwide, bless new homes and de-ghost houses prior to re-sale, secure Pagans’ religious rights, give fascinating, empowering talks about their magical adventures, the politics of persecution, and Conscientious Objectorship to War, heal with herbal medicines they brew, and teach the Craft of the Wise to people of all ages and backgrounds — from soccer moms, to cops and Mensa members.

“Probably the most gut-wrenching problem I help with daily is Witches who’ve been repressed to such a degree they don’t feel empowered enough to resist when they’re being blatantly persecuted,” Lady Passion says ruefully. “It strikes me as odd, for Witches have a long, proud history of defying bad laws, leaders, and landlords. But most of the time all they need is support in the form of a reminder: A Witch’s backbone is a bully’s kryptonite. Then they’re off to make their abuser regret it,” she grins.

Rave reviews for their The Goodly Spellbook caused it to be practically sold out of its initial run within four months of its international release. “We’re ecstatic that readers who devour fiction like Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code want to work real ancient, yet easy magic,” smiles Lady Passion.

The book’s mystique is that it reveals never-before-published material about The Secret Language of Witches, Barbarous Words of Power, Magical Alphabets, and the mystical methods politicians and advertisers use to manipulate the masses. Lavishly illustrated and replete with fascinating true tales of the authors magical experiences, the 476 page hardcover book covers healing, protection, attraction, discernment, concealment, and repulsion spells, and teaches Magical Gestures, Witch dance steps, Herbalism, Sacred Music, and much more.

Organized into 3 parts — Scope (magic history); Skills (traditional techniques); and Spells (hundreds of authentic, easy olde charms for all life’s needs) — The Goodly Spellbook lists all its sources and includes helpful Glossaries of Magical & Medicinal Herbs and Common Craft Terms.

The book’s success has raised demand for Lady Passion and *Diuvei’s work to a fever pitch. Indeed, they just returned from an extensive book tour in England where they were featured in a popular BBC London radio interview (hear a snippet or their full interview at: oldenwilde.org).

So what’s next for this revolutionary power-Coven? One thing you can count on, whatever they do, it’ll be unprecedented.

Mommy’s Little helper: The Domovoi

by Rebecca

Want a little help around the house?  Why not try attracting one of these little guys?  The worst that could happen is only death!  Seriously, this month we are discussing the Domovoi, the helpful little house spirits found primarily in Slavic folklore.

The Domovoi are house spirits.  They are viewed as protectors of the home and sometimes even help with chores (ala the shoemaker’s elves).  The Russians acknowledge its guardian aspect so much that they call their Domovoi “Grandfather” behind its back.

Domovoi are rarely seen.  Most often when seen they are mistaken as a family pet skittering from one spot to another.  Some stories speak of the Domovoi as a shapeshifter that can change its appearance to mimic that of the master of the house.  Frequently in Russian folktales they are described as elderly men with beards, the Slavic tradition has them as small friendly old men sometimes covered in hair, and most impressively the Polish say they resemble the male head of family living or dead.

The favorite place for these guys to live is either the threshold under the door or under the stove.  When a new house is constructed, homeowners can attract Domovoi by placing a piece of bread down before the stove is put in.

So, you have a Domovoi…now what?  Proper respect must be paid to your little household helper.  They enjoy salted bread wrapped in white cloth (sodium and carbs, they’re smart little guys), laying out white linen to invite him to eat with the family, and old shoes in the yard are all things that help keep your new friend happy.  In addition, great care should be taken when choosing live stock or household pets.  Animals they like they treat with great care (traditionally caring for livestock) but if they take a dislike to any animal they will take great glee in tormenting the animal.

A properly run house keeps your Domovoi happy, which is good because the Domovoi can act as an oracle for your home and family.  If your Domovoi is playing music on a comb there very well could be a wedding in the near future.  A warm friendly touch always signals good fortune.  If he shows himself, it’s a warning of death, and if he is weeping then it will be a death in the family.  A cold touch at night from him might be a warning of your own impending death.

Now before you go, these guys are great why wouldn’t every home want to attract one keep this Russian folktale in mind:

The Domovoi are well known for braiding the manes of horses.  Well one Domovoi took to braiding a maiden’s hair each night.  Her hair always looked lovely despite the fact that she didn’t even own a comb!  He told her to never unbraid her hair and to never get married.  However, like all lovely maiden’s of folklore she decided to marry and to comb out her long hair.  On the morning of her wedding the bride was found dead.

Although helpful bear in mind that Domovoi are known to cause death in those they feel have wronged them by choking them with their hands or sitting on their chest until they suffocate.  No wonder why some tales speak of the Domovoi as if they are fallen angels!

Holy crap!  I have a Domovoi but now that I have read that I don’t want him!  What do I do?  Well my friend, you may be stuck.  You are better off seeking his goodwill and protection but you can try to disarm him with offerings of kasha, juniper, and tobacco.  If you have one and are moving, do the next guy a favor and formally invite your Domovoi to move with you and your family.  If you do not he will avenge himself on the departed family as well as the new one.

Overall Domovoi are pretty good guys to have around.  They are helpful members of the household, just be sure to treat them as such or else…

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Magical Buffet Mythology: Artemis

By Rebecca

Artemis is known as the goddess of the hunt, the wild, the moon, and childbirth.  The later originating from the fact that Artemis assisted her mother Leto in the birthing of her brother Apollo, which took place immediately following Artemis’ own birth.  Most women aren’t able to do much of anything following their own birth aside from wriggling, squirming, and crying, let alone assist their mother in the birth of their twin!  But it is the wild that Artemis is generally associated with.  She is known as a wild woman and gifted hunter.  Also, like the teen pop stars of our era, she gets a lot of press over her virginity.  Unlike our pop music teeney boppers Artemis kept her virginity!  (Oh yeah, I went there!)

Some say that Artemis’ mother Leto knew that neither of her children would have much luck in love.  Perhaps as a premonition, perhaps mother’s intuition, or maybe it was the fact that Artemis choose to live deep in the wilderness and spend her time hunting and protecting wildlife and not a moment on manicures!  However she knew, Leto was correct…Artemis was definitely not going to settle down with a man.  The myths vary, but all have the same theme.  At some, point Artemis asks her dad, Zeus the grand high poohbah of the Greek pantheon, to grant some wishes.  Now me, I would’ve asked for a body that wouldn’t quit, maybe some occult secrets, and some handsome Greek man to attend me, but Artemis had other things in mind.  A hunting tunic, a bow, and quiver full of arrows, hounds, stags to lead her chariot, and nymphs as her hunting companions are all things that have been said to have been requested.  Now some retellings say that Artemis asked Zeus to say that she never had to marry, others say that she asked her father to grant her eternal virginity.  Whatever she may have asked, it’s fair to say that Artemis kept her legs together tighter than a banker’s smile.

This leads us to the quintessential Artemis story.  It been told several different ways, here is my special version.  One day Artemis is bathing and frolicking in a lake with her virginal nymph companions.  Along comes this man, in most of the retellings he is the Theban prince and hunter Actaeon.  Well Actaeon had been out hunting with his dogs and decided it was time for a much needed rest.  He settles down, the dogs lounge, everything is normal.  Then Actaeon hears it; women’s voices, all giggling and being playful, and some water splashing.  Perhaps in the time of goddesses roaming the earth man should have known better, but I prefer thinking of this as a prime example of the hot blooded human male stepping in it.  Carefully he approached some brush and when he pushes the foliage aside, he sees Artemis in all her hot goddess nakedness frolicking with her not god level but still pretty darn attractive nymphs!  Now Actaeon is no dummy, he immediately recognizes the goddess Artemis but he can’t look away.  Yeah, she’s the wild huntress, but at that moment, she was also a totally hot babe of mythological proportions!  Actaeon realizes that he may be pressing his luck and goes to leave when…snap!  He steps on a branch.  Of course, Artemis turns and sees the prince.  Now most of us would’ve let out a yelp or perhaps smacked him across the face, but we are not Artemis.  She turns the prince into a stag.  In some stories, she turns herself into a hound and rouses the prince’s dogs into chasing down and eating the prince.  Other times it is just said that she causes the prince to be eaten by his hounds.  Either way, Actaeon is dog food.

NNYPRS

After a full day at work my husband Jim and I set off for fun and adventure in Malone, NY. We had been invited to a Friday the 13th party to benefit the Northern New York Paranormal Research Society, also known as NNYPRS. So after a rushed meal at our local Moe’s (Tip for the Traveler: A rushed meal of quasi Mexican food is NOT the way to start out a 3 hour drive! There was a lot of burping going on!) and a quick stop to fill up the tank we hit the road.

The drive up north started out beautiful. Northern NY has lovely views of foliage and suddenly Jim and I understood why someone would drive somewhere just to look at leaves. Then it got dark. The roads got curvy going through the mountains, and our MapQuest directions became more and more questionable. Fortunately, Merrill McKee, President and Co-Founder of the NNYPRS, had emailed me his preferred directions and they got us to our luxurious Super 8 accommodations without issue.

Once we got our stuff situated at the hotel, it was time to meet Merrill and his team members face to face for the first time. The benefit was held at a restaurant/bar called Spotted Willy’s. Jim and I had no idea what to expect from this place. The restaurant portion was very attractive and the food smelled wonderful, the party was held in the back tavern which was rustic and cozy, complete with a functional fireplace.

This was where Jim and I met Merrill, Angie, Dale, Dave, Nick, and friends of the NNYPRS. It’s clear to see they are a group of people that take paranormal investigation seriously, and try not take life as seriously. Merrill was an outgoing host and also was the provider of the entertainment since he owns the DJ company that was playing music and offering up karaoke. Let me tell you that Merrill and his wife Angie are fantastic singers! Jim and I were both incredibly impressed at Angie’s vocal stylings! To help raise some money there were raffles for a free session with Dale, NNYPRS co-founder and resident psychic, $100 off the DJ services of M-n-M Entertainment, which is Merrill’s DJ company, and for a $20 gift certificate for Spotted Willy’s. Needless to say, I bought 4 tickets in the hopes of a reading with Dale! Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. All in all it was a casual event where alcohol was consumed, music was played, and conversations were had. At 11pm, which is way past my bedtime, Jim and I headed back to the Super 8 to rest up for the following days big event, the “Metaphysically Speaking” gathering where Merrill was going to be the guest speaker.

I woke up to silence. The kind of deep silence that tells you something is wrong. I rolled over to see what time the digital clock had, and it was black. That’s right, the power went out. Jim and I attempted to get a good nights rest after that revelation, but we both tossed and turned and essentially slept like crap. At 7am there was still no power! After some discussion of what this could mean, we decided to get dressed and head over to Massena, NY where the “Metaphysically Speaking” group was meeting and hopefully there was power. As we got closer to Massena we started to notice lights. With great relief we pulled into Spankie’s to have a greasy diner breakfast.

“Metaphysically Speaking” is a group that meets once a month at the public library in Massena, NY. The group is coordinated by Bob Leboeuf, an incredibly friendly man who is well versed in metaphysics and the hosting of this event. The event runs from 1pm to 4:30pm with a half hour break in the middle. Merrill was the guest speaker. He did a brief introduction of his organization and what they do and then opened the floor to questions. The group quizzed him on topics as close to what he does as how to identify hauntings, to as incredibly unrelated as dream interpretation. Merrill handled all the questions with great enthusiasm and demonstrated an extensive knowledge of all things paranormal, but also in most things metaphysical as well. Even with no sleep Merrill was able to keep me engaged and entertained.

Jim and I had a great time and made some wonderful friends, but at 4:30 the road was calling and we had to start the 4 hour journey home. At the end of the day, we were exhausted but happy to have made the trip.

To learn more about the Northern New York Paranormal Research Society visit: www.nnyprs.com

If you need a great DJ in upstate NY visit: www.mnmdj.com