Samhain Y.R. XLVI
October 14, 2008 c.e.
Volume 24 Issue 7
Founded Summer Solstice, Y.R. XLVI
Formatted for double-sided printing.
Digitally stored on bio-degradable recyclable electrons! It is a carbon-neutral publication.
A temporary publication until A Druid Missal-Any magazine resumes.
For Submissions: Send to firstname.lastname@example.org
I just can’t help myself. I’ve dug up yet more articles on rocks, as I have in the previous three issues. I should be just
about done with rocks now. The other theme for Samhain this year is, surprise!, DEATH. We are beginning a health corner,
to avoid DEATH, and are joined by Irony Sade’s column on Druidic health tips and answers to questions while he is studying
in medical school. I will continue on this DEATH theme for the Yule issue also (yes, so un-warm and un-fuzzy). Oimelc will
delve into the prickly issues of removing troublesome members, how to spot a bad leader and methods for responding to
ultra-orthodox-Druids. Oimelc will also start a Children and Parenting Corner. Keep reading, we’ll do our best to entertain
Table of Contents
o News of the Groves Pg 2
o ARDA was Temporarily Out of Order Pg 2
o Druid Academy Nomination Award Committee Pg 3
o How to Honor Ancestors Pg 4 o Story: The Monkey’s Paw Pg 5
o The Allure of Ogham Pg 10 o Health: Top 21 Ways to Avoid Dying Soon Pg 12
o Health: Ask Doctor Druid, an Advice Column Pg 14
o Story: The Manor in France Pg 15
o Story: Shortest Ghost Stories Ever Pg 15
o Story: An Evening with the Grim Reaper Pg 16
o Story: Three Mini Murder Mysteries Pg 18
o Story: Eat No Stones Pg 19
o Story: Pecans in the Cemetary Pg 19
o Book: Rider on a Pale Horse Pg 20
o Book: Ogham The Secret Language of the Druids Pg 21
o Book: A Druid’s Herbal and Sacred Tree Medicine Pg 21
o Bardic Corner: Love Oghams in the Sand Pg 25
o Bard in Review: Gordon Bok (biography & 2 songs) Pg 25
o Craft Corner: How to Read Barcodes Pg 28
o Craft Corner: Fun with Rocks Pg 32
o Cooking Corner: What I did for Fall Equinox Pg 35
o News: What happens with a Near-Death Experience Pg 37
o Stuff: Real Native Celtic Wood Ogham Sets Pg 38
o National Geographic Find Celtic Bog Bodies in Canada Pg 39 o Publishing Information Pg 39
o Answers to the Mini-Murder Mysteries Pg 39
News of the Groves
Submit your RDNA grove or protogrove news 3 to 4 weeks
before the eight Druid festivals to email@example.com
The thirty groves of the RDNA and RDG are at
Carleton Grove: News from Minnesota
I received reports that recruitment at Carleton went well and several
donated materials (money, shovels and musical instruments).
Mango Mission: News from South-East Asia
Life is going well, my next child will be born around Yule time
if all is well. The Druid Inquirer really blossomed in this issue, and I’m hoping the next two issues will be as good, I certainly will be more busy very soon.
White Rabbit Grove: News from Wisconsin
While the Grove services continue to be for current members only, the Arch Druid Helgaleena Healingline
remains active on the Internets via Sermons on the Blog. These are prompted by the seasons and can be accessed at http://helgaleenas.livejournal.com And we will NOT be giving out candy at the end of the month either, not even sugar skulls which our hispanic neighbors are so fond of!
The Healing Line (608)226-0052 USA is open for telephone advice.
Koad Protogrove: News from Ohio
Innaugural Protogrove ritual held on 22 September 2008 for the Autumnal Equinox Plans to hold a Samhain ritual at or near Samhain
Yours in the Way,
Hemlock Splinter Grove: News from Upstate New York
Irony is doing well at medical school and has begun a column in the Druid Inquirer called “Ask Doctor
Druid” in our health section.
ARDA was Out of Order Temporarily (but ok Now)
For a short time, the website at Carleton College holding A Reformed Druid Anthology
files, was not accessible by people off-campus. It appears to be back online now. Please
alert me if you have troubles again.
In case of temporary inaccessibility, the 2004 Edition’s main files (not Green Books or
Magazines) are available at http://www.scribd.com and search for A Reformed Druid Anthology. We are also in the process of setting up other, more detailed, back-up storage sites.
Druid Academy Nomination Award Committee (DANAC)
Annual Golden Oak Awards
(The "Oakie" Awards)
The Druid Academy Nomination Award Committee (DANAC) consists of prominent members of the
Henge of Keltria (HoK), Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF), the Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA),
Order of the White Oak (OWO), the Reformed Druids of Gaia (RDG) & Order of the Mithril Star (OMS), and the Missionary Order of the Celtic Cross (MOCC).
The DANAC members wish to learn more about happenings in their own group, and in other groups, and encourage the best of the best by acknowledging the annual accomplishments of modern Druids.
In order to provide potential nominations to the DANAC, Mike Scharding (RDNA) is soliciting submissions for the Oakies in the following 10 categories:
1. Most interesting internal grove project begun or completed in 2008. Non-exhaustive examples include:
liturgical design, fund- raising, recruitment, education, development, site-planning, web- development,
meeting style, festival/meeting idea, etc.
2. Inspiring external project begun in 2008 by a grove or member (s) of ADF, Keltria, RDNA, MOCC, OWO,
RDG & OMS. Non-exhaustive examples include: activism, ecology, public outreach, legal moves, publishing,
charity, civic involvement, interaction with other religious organization, etc.
3. Greatest hardship overcome in 2008 by a member of ADF, Keltria, RDNA, MOCC, OWO, RDG &OMS.
Publicly admissible, of course, no gossip please. Non-exhaustive examples incluede: persecution, financial
obstacles, medical impairments, isolation, time constraints, educational restraints, etc.
4. Best Poem or song released in 2008 by a member of ADF, Keltria, RDNA, MOCC, OWO, RDG &OMS.
5. Best work of Art completed or released in 2008 by a member of ADF, Keltria, RDNA, MOCC, OWO, RDG
&OMS. Non exhaustive examples: painting, drawing, sculpture, digital art, clay, collage, photography, etc.
Dance choreography will be considered if an internet video is provided. Collaborating artists will receive a
6. Best craftwork completed or released in 2008 by a member of ADF, Keltria, RDNA, MOCC, OWO, RDG
&OMS. Non exhaustive examples: leatherwork, metalwork, clothing, needlepoint, moulding, weaving,
jewelry, basketry, woodwork, stonework, etc. Food, drink, cosmetics and brewing can't be tested easily
enough in disparate parts of the U.S. Collaborative craftspeople will receive a single prize.
7. Best academic book released in 2008 by a member of ADF, Keltria, RDNA, MOCC, OWO, RDG &OMS. At
least 50 pages in length, can be on any subject somehow applicable to "Druidism", modern or ancient, such
as history, religion, crafts, art, philosophy, spirituality, ethnicity, language, etc.
8. Best novel or short story released in 2008 by a member of ADF, Keltria, RDNA, MOCC, OWO, RDG &OMS.
9. Best "Druidical" essay or article released or printed in 2008 by a member of ADF, Keltria, RDNA, MOCC,
OWO, RDG &OMS
10. Best movie or video-clip or instructional video, released or revised in 2008, that advances the positive
perception of Druidism in some way produced by a member of ADF, Keltria, RDNA, MOCC, OWO, or RDG
Candidates can be members of the RDNA (or NRDNA, etc.), but you can also pass on interesting candidates to me from ADF, Keltria, MOCC, OWO, RDG &OMS. Write-ups describing the candidate should be 50-150 words, provide a sample of the text, photo of the object, file, web links and e-mail contacts as appropriate. Submissions must be received by Mikerdna@hotmail.com by Yule or earlier, if you can.
I will then submit up to two candidates in each category to the DANAC for further consideration. We will publish the both the RDNA results and the DANAC results (if released in time) in the Imbolc 2009 issue of Druid Inquirer.
Winners of each the 10 DANAC awards will receive a $33.33 prize from the Druid Academy, a blessed pretty rock, and international fame and kudos.
How to Honor Ancestors
We all have ancestors, some living, most of them have passed on. The RDNA does not have
any specific traditions on revering ancestors, although most of the other modern Druid groups
have incorporated this concept, which is common among Nature and folk-based religions. In a
sense, many believe ancestors are the best intermediaries of the living with the deities. Who
cares about you more than those who raised you and your parents and your parents’ parents?
Naturally, the farther in the past, the more descendents that ancient ancestor has to care for, so expect a slower response as you drift back 30, 50 generations.
Whether you believe in reincarnation, paradise, eventual nirvana, or whatever, if there is an afterlife, ancestral spirits tend to be part of the picture. Many researchers believe that ancestor worship is the base root of all religions, but its role has been denigrated by more “evolved” religions as too local or parochial. Perhaps the clan-religion, nation religion,
world religions are methods of bringing people out of highly localized ancestral concerns and including less-related people into a great sense of community?
What do we know about out hundreds of thousands of personal ancestors? Even the most dedicated genealogist of a royal family member can generally only go back about 10 to 14 generations, and often the lesser family lines are not well covered. The average American knows his ancestors usually only as far back as their great-grandparents, and maybe the direct maternal or paternal lines a few generations further. Most of what these folks know is just the name, date of birth, where and when; only simple factual information. We have culture, some family traditions, but the rest of our ancestors hover facelessly, collective, in the past. They are in your genes and your soul. I might ponder if friends of the family might also be part of that pool. Most of us have ancestors who were adopted by someone too.
In Japan, and in other countries, usually the eldest son is entrusted with maintaining a family shrine, usually paternal line and makes offerings and prayers at regular intervals. Many American families, even Christian, will have a section of their house where family photos congregate, along with heirlooms and family items. These are pseudo altars of a sort too, just less formal. All over the world, families and clans will host reunions to re-establish and strengthen ties with distant cousins, and share family lore and forge new traditions.
There are numerous traditions that incorporate reverence for ancestors, which is indirectly a self-respecting measure too. I’ll list some of the ones I like the most:
Make Halloween More than Fear: Traditionally Samhain was about honoring returning (good) spirits who came back
for these few nights, and of course, keeping out the bad ones who also might show up. We tend to focus on the bad ones now and dwell on the frightening aspect of death. However, how often do you talk to your children about welcoming back grandpa or Aunt Myrtle? The idea that good returns too, that is can be a very comforting concept for children. Rather than horror flicks, why not watch a movie of a sad, tragic death story and talk with kids about it. Fluke, the movie of a father reincarnated as a dog, trying to rejoin the family, is very touching.
Have a home altar: decorate it with family photos, as many as you can dig up, some safe candles or incense (watch the smoke detector). Visit once a day or once a week. Try to visit longer on the anniversary of a loved one’s demise. Come by and talk to the spirits once in a while about hard things in your life and ask for advice and meditate there. You might assign one child to maintaining the shrine and dust it, replace candles, etc.
Empty plate: This charming tradition is the plate for Ezekial in some Jewish traditions. The POW-MIA often hosts a missing-man service, where a table is set once a year with symbolic plates, flowers, salt, lemon, etc. At all festivals, set the table for one extra person, put some food there, and come-who-may will be able to join you.
Live a respectable proud life: Ancestors generally wish the best for you and your family. They take pride in your accomplishments, just as they did when they were living. Be careful of course, many traditions in the world, including
the Celts, have taken the “family honor” thing to unlawful levels. It is still you life to live, and the needs and burdens of
the past cannot squelch those of the future.
Learn about your ancestors: Do some genealogical work, back a few generations. Make a family tree with your children. Collect interesting family stories about each person and write them down with a photo and some details. Visit their hometowns or homelands. Study the language or culture of those ethnic roots for a few weeks. Share what you learn with your children and make sure each gets a copy. You might even assign a report on one to each child to plan a research expedition.
Visit graves: Usually memorial and veteran’s day are the busiest. In Latin American and some parts of the United States, on Dios de Los Muertos (sp?) around Halloween, families will have a picnic and set up an ofrido (altar) at the family grave site, sometimes for a day or two. Check your local cemetery to see if this is permissible, and what the proper rules are.
Carry a momento: perhaps your grandfather’s cufflinks, your grandmother’s silk handkerchief. Perhaps keep in your
wallet your uncle’s coin from his sailing trip to Zanzibar.
Take care of your self: Most of all, stay healthy, keep your body whole (it is a gift from them after all) and hearty.
THE MONKEY'S PAW (1902)
from The lady of the barge (1906, 6th ed.)
London and New York
Harper & Brothers, Publishers
(A classic Halloween 6 page story, I've loved it since age 8.)
by W.W. Jacobs
WITHOUT, the night was cold and wet, but in the small parlour of Laburnam Villa the blinds were drawn and the fire burned brightly. Father and son were at chess, the former, who possessed ideas about the game involving radical changes, putting his king into such sharp and unnecessary perils that it even provoked comment from the white-haired old lady knitting placidly by the fire.
"Hark at the wind," said Mr. White, who, having seen a fatal mistake after it was too late, was amiably desirous of preventing his son from seeing it.
"I'm listening," said the latter, grimly surveying the board as he stretched out his hand. "Check."
"I should hardly think that he'd come to-night," said his father, with his hand poised over the board.
"Mate," replied the son.
"That's the worst of living so far out," bawled Mr. White, with sudden and unlooked-for violence; "of all the beastly, slushy, out-of-the-way places to live in, this is the worst. Pathway's a bog, and the road's a torrent. I don't know what people
are thinking about. I suppose because only two houses on the road are let, they think it doesn't matter."
"Never mind, dear," said his wife soothingly; "perhaps you'll win the next one."
Mr. White looked up sharply, just in time to intercept a knowing glance between mother and son. The words died away on his lips, and he hid a guilty grin in his thin grey beard.
"There he is," said Herbert White, as the gate banged to loudly and heavy footsteps came toward the door.
The old man rose with hospitable haste, and opening the door, was heard condoling with the new arrival. The new arrival also condoled with himself, so that Mrs. White said, "Tut, tut!" and coughed gently as her husband entered the room, followed by a tall burly man, beady of eye and rubicund of visage.
"Sergeant-Major Morris," he said, introducing him.
The sergeant-major shook hands, and taking the proffered seat by the fire, watched contentedly while his host got out whisky and tumblers and stood a small copper kettle on the fire.
At the third glass his eyes got brighter, and he began to talk, the little family circle regarding with eager interest this visitor from distant parts, as he squared his broad shoulders in the chair and spoke of strange scenes and doughty deeds; of wars and plagues and strange peoples.
"Twenty-one years of it," said Mr. White, nodding at his wife and son. "When he went away he was a slip of a youth in the warehouse. Now look at him."
"He don't look to have taken much harm," said Mrs. White, politely.
"I'd like to go to India myself," said the old man, "just to look round a bit, you know."
"Better where you are," said the sergeant-major, shaking his head. He put down the empty glass, and sighing softly, shook it again.
"I should like to see those old temples and fakirs and jugglers," said the old man. "What was that you started telling me the other day about a monkey's paw or something, Morris?"
"Nothing," said the soldier hastily. "Leastways, nothing worth hearing."
"Monkey's paw?" said Mrs. White curiously.
"Well, it's just a bit of what you might call magic, perhaps," said the sergeant-major off-handedly.
His three listeners leaned forward eagerly. The visitor absentmindedly put his empty glass to his lips and then set it down again. His host filled it for him.
"To look at," said the sergeant-major, fumbling in his pocket, "it's just an ordinary little paw, dried to a mummy."
He took something out of his pocket and proffered it. Mrs. White drew back with a grimace, but her son, taking it, examined it curiously.
"And what is there special about it?" inquired Mr. White, as he took it from his son and, having examined it, placed it upon the table.
"It had a spell put on it by an old fakir," said the sergeant-major, "a very holy man. He wanted to show that fate ruled people's lives, and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow. He put a spell on it so that three separate men
could each have three wishes from it."
His manner was so impressive that his hearers were conscious that their light laughter jarred somewhat.
"Well, why don't you have three, sir?" said Herbert White cleverly.
The soldier regarded him in the way that middle age is wont to regard presumptuous youth. "I have," he said quietly, and his blotchy face whitened.
"And did you really have the three wishes granted?" asked Mrs. White.
"I did," said the sergeant-major, and his glass tapped against his strong teeth.
"And has anybody else wished?" inquired the old lady.
"The first man had his three wishes, yes," was the reply. "I don't know what the first two were, but the third was for death. That's how I got the paw."
His tones were so grave that a hush fell upon the group.
"If you've had your three wishes, it's no good to you now, then, Morris," said the old man at last. "What do you keep it for?"
The soldier shook his head. "Fancy, I suppose," he said slowly.
"If you could have another three wishes," said the old man, eyeing him keenly, "would you have them?"
"I don't know," said the other. "I don't know."
He took the paw, and dangling it between his front finger and thumb, suddenly threw it upon the fire. White, with a slight cry, stooped down and snatched it off.
"Better let it burn," said the soldier solemnly.
"If you don't want it, Morris," said the old man, "give it to me."
"I won't," said his friend doggedly. "I threw it on the fire. If you keep it, don't blame me for what happens. Pitch it on the fire again, like a sensible man."
The other shook his head and examined his new possession closely. "How do you do it?" he inquired.
"Hold it up in your right hand and wish aloud,' said the sergeant-major, "but I warn you of the consequences."
"Sounds like the Arabian Nights," said Mrs White, as she rose and began to set the supper. "Don't you think you
might wish for four pairs of hands for me?"
Her husband drew the talisman from his pocket and then all three burst into laughter as the sergeant-major, with a look of alarm on his face, caught him by the arm.
"If you must wish," he said gruffly, "wish for something sensible."
Mr. White dropped it back into his pocket, and placing chairs, motioned his friend to the table. In the business of supper the talisman was partly forgotten, and afterward the three sat listening in an enthralled fashion to a second installment
of the soldier's adventures in India.
"If the tale about the monkey paw is not more truthful than those he has been telling us," said Herbert, as the door closed behind their guest, just in time for him to catch the last train, "we shan't make much out of it."
"Did you give him anything for it, father?" inquired Mrs. White, regarding her husband closely.
"A trifle," said he, colouring slightly. "He didn't want it, but I made him take it. And he pressed me again to throw it away."
"Likely," said Herbert, with pretended horror. "Why, we're going to be rich, and famous, and happy. Wish to be an emperor, father, to begin with; then you can't be henpecked."
He darted round the table, pursued by the maligned Mrs. White armed with an antimacassar.
Mr. White took the paw from his pocket and eyed it dubiously. "I don't know what to wish for, and that's a fact," he said slowly. "It seems to me I've got all I want."
"If you only cleared the house, you'd be quite happy, wouldn't you?" said Herbert, with his hand on his shoulder. "Well, wish for two hundred pounds, then; that'll just do it."
His father, smiling shamefacedly at his own credulity, held up the talisman, as his son, with a solemn face somewhat marred by a wink at his mother, sat down at the piano and struck a few impressive chords.
"I wish for two hundred pounds," said the old man distinctly.
A fine crash from the piano greeted the words, interrupted by a shuddering cry from the old man. His wife and son ran toward him.
"It moved, he cried, with a glance of disgust at the object as it lay on the floor. "As I wished it twisted in my hands like a snake."
"Well, I don't see the money," said his son, as he picked it up and placed it on the table, "and I bet I never shall."
"It must have been your fancy, father," said his wife, regarding him anxiously.
He shook his head. "Never mind, though; there's no harm done, but it gave me a shock all the same."
They sat down by the fire again while the two men finished their pipes. Outside, the wind was higher than ever, and the old man started nervously at the sound of a door banging upstairs. A silence unusual and depressing settled upon all three,
which lasted until the old couple rose to retire for the night.
"I expect you'll find the cash tied up in a big bag in the middle of your bed," said Herbert, as he bade them good-night, "and something horrible squatting up on top of the wardrobe watching you as you pocket your ill-gotten gains."
He sat alone in the darkness, gazing at the dying fire, and seeing faces in it. The last face was so horrible and so simian that he gazed at it in amazement. It got so vivid that, with a little uneasy laugh, he felt on the table for a glass containing a little water to throw over it. His hand grasped the monkey's paw, and with a little shiver he wiped his hand on his
coat and went up to bed.
IN the brightness of the wintry sun next morning as it streamed over the breakfast table Herbert laughed at his fears. There was an air of prosaic wholesomeness about the room which it had lacked on the previous night, and the dirty, shrivelled little paw was pitched on the sideboard with a carelessness which betokened no great belief in its virtues.
"I suppose all old soldiers are the same," said Mrs White. "The idea of our listening to such nonsense! How could wishes be granted in these days? And if they could, how could two hundred pounds hurt you, father?"
"Might drop on his head from the sky," said the frivolous Herbert.
"Morris said the things happened so naturally," said his father, "that you might if you so wished attribute it to coincidence."
"Well, don't break into the money before I come back," said Herbert, as he rose from the table. "I'm afraid it'll turn you into a mean, avaricious man, and we shall have to disown you."
His mother laughed, and following him to the door, watched him down the road, and returning to the breakfast table, was very happy at the expense of her husband's credulity. All of which did not prevent her from scurrying to the door at the postman's knock, nor prevent her from referring somewhat shortly to retired sergeant-majors of bibulous habits when she found that the post brought a tailor's bill.
"Herbert will have some more of his funny remarks, I expect, when he comes home," she said, as they sat at dinner.
"I dare say," said Mr. White, pouring himself out some beer; "but for all that, the thing moved in my hand; that I'll swear to."
"You thought it did," said the old lady soothingly.
"I say it did," replied the other. "There was no thought about it; I had just----What's the matter?"
His wife made no reply. She was watching the mysterious movements of a man outside, who, peering in an undecided fashion at the house, appeared to be trying to make up his mind to enter. In mental connection with the two hundred pounds, she noticed that the stranger was well dressed and wore a silk hat of glossy newness. Three times he paused at the gate, and then walked on again. The fourth time he stood with his hand upon it, and then with sudden resolution flung it
open and walked up the path. Mrs. White at the same moment placed her hands behind her, and hurriedly unfastening the strings of her apron, put that useful article of apparel beneath the cushion of her chair.
She brought the stranger, who seemed ill at ease, into the room. He gazed at her furtively, and listened in a preoccupied fashion as the old lady apologized for the appearance of the room, and her husband's coat, a garment which he
usually reserved for the garden. She then waited as patiently as her sex would permit, for him to broach his business, but he was at first strangely silent.
"I--was asked to call," he said at last, and stooped and picked a piece of cotton from his trousers. "I come from Maw and Meggins."
The old lady started. "Is anything the matter?" she asked breathlessly. "Has anything happened to Herbert? What is it? What is it?"
Her husband interposed. "There, there, mother," he said hastily. "Sit down, and don't jump to conclusions. You've not brought bad news, I'm sure, sir" and he eyed the other wistfully.
"I'm sorry----" began the visitor.
"Is he hurt?" demanded the mother.
The visitor bowed in assent. "Badly hurt," he said quietly, "but he is not in any pain."
"Oh, thank God!" said the old woman, clasping her hands. "Thank God for that! Thank----"
She broke off suddenly as the sinister meaning of the assurance dawned upon her and she saw the awful confirmation of her fears in the other's averted face. She caught her breath, and turning to her slower-witted husband, laid her
trembling old hand upon his. There was a long silence.
"He was caught in the machinery," said the visitor at length, in a low voice.
"Caught in the machinery," repeated Mr. White, in a dazed fashion, "yes."
He sat staring blankly out at the window, and taking his wife's hand between his own, pressed it as he had been wont to do in their old courting days nearly forty years before.
"He was the only one left to us," he said, turning gently to the visitor. "It is hard."
The other coughed, and rising, walked slowly to the window. "The firm wished me to convey their sincere sympathy with you in your great loss," he said, without looking round. "I beg that you will understand I am only their servant and merely obeying orders."
There was no reply; the old woman's face was white, her eyes staring, and her breath inaudible; on the husband's face was a look such as his friend the sergeant might have carried into his first action.
"I was to say that Maw and Meggins disclaim all responsibility," continued the other. "They admit no liability at all, but in consideration of your son's services they wish to present you with a certain sum as compensation."
Mr. White dropped his wife's hand, and rising to his feet, gazed with a look of horror at his visitor. His dry lips shaped the words, "How much?"
"Two hundred pounds," was the answer.
Unconscious of his wife's shriek, the old man smiled faintly, put out his hands like a sightless man, and dropped, a senseless heap, to the floor.
IN the huge new cemetery, some two miles distant, the old people buried their dead, and came back to a house steeped in shadow and silence. It was all over so quickly that at first they could hardly realize it, and remained in a state of
expectation as though of something else to happen--something else which was to lighten this load, too heavy for old hearts to bear.
But the days passed, and expectation gave place to resignation--the hopeless resignation of the old, sometimes miscalled, apathy. Sometimes they hardly exchanged a word, for now they had nothing to talk about, and their days were long to weariness.
It was about a week after that that the old man, waking suddenly in the night, stretched out his hand and found himself alone. The room was in darkness, and the sound of subdued weeping came from the window. He raised himself in bed and listened.
"Come back," he said tenderly. "You will be cold."
"It is colder for my son," said the old woman, and wept afresh.
The sound of her sobs died away on his ears. The bed was warm, and his eyes heavy with sleep. He dozed fitfully, and then slept until a sudden wild cry from his wife awoke him with a start.
"The paw!" she cried wildly. "The monkey's paw!"
He started up in alarm. "Where? Where is it? What's the matter?"
She came stumbling across the room toward him. "I want it," she said quietly. "You've not destroyed it?"
"It's in the parlour, on the bracket," he replied, marvelling. "Why?"
She cried and laughed together, and bending over, kissed his cheek.
"I only just thought of it," she said hysterically. "Why didn't I think of it before? Why didn't you think of it?"
"Think of what?" he questioned.
"The other two wishes," she replied rapidly. "We've only had one."
"Was not that enough?" he demanded fiercely.
"No," she cried, triumphantly; "we'll have one more. Go down and get it quickly, and wish our boy alive again."
The man sat up in bed and flung the bedclothes from his quaking limbs. "Good God, you are mad!" he cried aghast.
"Get it," she panted; "get it quickly, and wish---- Oh, my boy, my boy!"
Her husband struck a match and lit the candle. "Get back to bed," he said, unsteadily. "You don't know what you are saying."
"We had the first wish granted," said the old woman, feverishly; "why not the second."
"A coincidence," stammered the old man.
"Go and get it and wish," cried the old woman, quivering with excitement.
The old man turned and regarded her, and his voice shook. "He has been dead ten days, and besides he--I would not tell you else, but--I could only recognize him by his clothing. If he was too terrible for you to see then, how now?"
"Bring him back," cried the old woman, and dragged him toward the door. "Do you think I fear the child I have nursed?"
He went down in the darkness, and felt his way to the parlour, and then to the mantelpiece. The talisman was in its place, and a horrible fear that the unspoken wish might bring his mutilated son before him ere he could escape from the room seized upon him, and he caught his breath as he found that he had lost the direction of the door. His brow cold with sweat, he felt his way round the table, and groped along the wall until he found himself in the small passage with the unwholesome thing in his hand.
Even his wife's face seemed changed as he entered the room. It was white and expectant, and to his fears seemed to have an unnatural look upon it. He was afraid of her.
"Wish!" she cried, in a strong voice.
"It is foolish and wicked," he faltered.
"Wish!" repeated his wife.
He raised his hand. "I wish my son alive again."
The talisman fell to the floor, and he regarded it fearfully. Then he sank trembling into a chair as the old woman, with burning eyes, walked to the window and raised the blind.
He sat until he was chilled with the cold, glancing occasionally at the figure of the old woman peering through the window. The candle end, which had burnt below the rim of the china candlestick, was throwing pulsating shadows on the ceiling and walls, until, with a flicker larger than the rest, it expired. The old man, with an unspeakable sense of relief at the
failure of the talisman, crept back to his bed, and a minute or two afterward the old woman came silently and apathetically beside him.
Neither spoke, but both lay silently listening to the ticking of the clock. A stair creaked, and a squeaky mouse scurried noisily through the wall. The darkness was oppressive, and after lying for some time screwing up his courage, the husband took the box of matches, and striking one, went downstairs for a candle.
At the foot of the stairs the match went out, and he paused to strike another, and at the same moment a knock, so quiet and stealthy as to be scarcely audible, sounded on the front door.
The matches fell from his hand. He stood motionless, his breath suspended until the knock was repeated. Then he turned and fled swiftly back to his room, and closed the door behind him. A third knock sounded through the house.
"What's that?" cried the old woman, starting up.
"A rat," said the old man, in shaking tones--"a rat. It passed me on the stairs."
His wife sat up in bed listening. A loud knock resounded through the house.
"It's Herbert!" she screamed. "It's Herbert!"
She ran to the door, but her husband was before her, and catching her by the arm, held her tightly.
"What are you going to do?" he whispered hoarsely.
"It's my boy; it's Herbert!" she cried, struggling mechanically. "I forgot it was two miles away. What are you holding me for? Let go. I must open the door."
"For God's sake, don't let it in," cried the old man trembling.
"You're afraid of your own son," she cried, struggling. "Let me go. I'm coming, Herbert; I'm coming."
There was another knock, and another. The old woman with a sudden wrench broke free and ran from the room. Her husband followed to the landing, and called after her appealingly as she hurried downstairs. He heard the chain rattle back and
the bottom bolt drawn slowly and stiffly from the socket. Then the old woman's voice, strained and panting.
"The bolt," she cried loudly. "Come down. I can't reach it."
But her husband was on his hands and knees groping wildly on the floor in search of the paw. If he could only find it before the thing outside got in. A perfect fusillade of knocks reverberated through the house, and he heard the scraping of a
chair as his wife put it down in the passage against the door. He heard the creaking of the bolt as it came slowly back, and at
the same moment he found the monkey's paw, and frantically breathed his third and last wish.
The knocking ceased suddenly, although the echoes of it were still in the house. He heard the chair drawn back and the door opened. A cold wind rushed up the staircase, and a long loud wail of disappointment and misery from his wife gave him courage to run down to her side, and then to the gate beyond. The street lamp flickering opposite shone on a quiet and deserted road.
The Allure of Ogham
by Mike the Fool
Later in this issue of the Druid Inquirer, I will review two books that delve into
the subtleties of Ogham and the trees that are associated with each letter. However, in
this essay I would like to bring up a point that was completely missed by both very
academic books: "Why are people fascinated by Oghams"? What accounts for the
popularity of a few scratch marks on some stones in the countryside?
Let's face it, people who become modern Druids, more often than not, are fascinated by the Celts. They are attracted to the Celts because they revered Nature, especially trees, more so that many other large religions of the world and hung around outdoors. It's a powerful image. But modern Druids also tend to love the fact that Druids and Bards were quite educated and gifted. Nowadays we simply cannot imagine a respectably educated person who can't read and write, and often dismiss the achievements of a non-literate society. Think of all the "great" civilizations, Hindu, Chinese, Egyptian, Hebrew, Roman, they all did so with ancient writing systems. But then think of other that didn't, Mayan, Incan, Aztec, Polynesia, Bantu, a few in Eastern Africa too; but there were limits there. Some had some method of recording or marking the tombs and monuments and calendars, but that was about it.
So when Modern Druids discovered that the ancient Druids could write in Ogham from about the third or fourth century, it is a big point of pride for us. Hey, these guys can write too, and they figured it out themselves! Ireland like Iceland and Scandinavia and Lithuania were located on the fringe of Europe from the perspective of Rome and Greece and Russia. Rome didn't even deign to go after Ireland while conquering Britain in the 1st century BCE. Like many empires, it was in overstretch at that point. Some of the richest folk Indo-European traditions have been preserved there until even the 20th century.
Various reports of Caesar and others claim that the Celts of France were familiar with Greek (and like Phoenician) letters from the trading posts set up since 500 BCE in the Mediterranean region, and might have used them for trade. Ogham began to appear on stone markers from about the 3rd or 4th century in Ireland and areas of the British coast where the Gaidheals were wont to invade (mostly Scotland and Isle of Man). Wales and Britain were Pagan Roman colonies at that time. Runes begin to appear in Scandinavia around that time near the Roman colonies of Germany. Likely, the Irish and the Scandinavia saw some of the possibilities of a literate culture, i.e. decorating monuments, letters, secret messages, etc. and devised a system for their language. You must remember that before the invention of paper, the materials and training for writing were prohibitively expensive for making frivolous collections. It would have been limited to law tracts, treaties, genealogies, kingdom finances, and some religious matters (most of which would be so scripted that memorization would be necessary anyway).
As we know now, the Latin alphabet is perfectly capable of representing the languages of the Irish and the Swedes, with few extra letters and aspiration marks, and would eventually do so. Latin letters are also very angular and easy to chip onto monuments and altars. Many pagan Pagan Celtic altars in France and Britain and what is now Germany are written in Latin letters listing the Celtic God's name and the Roman God's equivalent. So one must wonder, even if Ireland (4th/5th century) had put off Christianization as long as the Scandinavians (12 century), would the Irish have developed and implemented the use of Ogham into a regular form of writing books?
Probably not. It seems that it was going to remain the preserve of the elite, likely the Druids and a few nobles. After Christianization, Romanization and Anglicization, probably only 5 to 15% of Druidic lore leaked into the writings of sympathetic monks, law tracts, health works and stories by the 13th or 15th century. Like a portrait with only a few remnants of canvas still attached to the frame. This is true for a lot of the non-Roman and Greek ,Indo-European religions that were late in the race for a literary culture. A point of interest is that the Irish Monks, their base safe from Barbaric hordes at that time (before the Vikings), became "the lighthouse of civilization and Christianity" during the Dark Ages after the fall of the Roman Empire, sending out educating missionaries to Germany, Britain and France for centuries to come.