World Druidry Survey – Grace Period Begins

The World Druidry Survey is now closed to new participants. As I prepare the survey data for analysis, there will be a three week grace period, allowing for participants who have already begun their surveys to complete their work and submit their final responses for inclusion in the analysis. Once the analysis phase of the project begins (on May 20, 2019), no further responses will be accepted.

Fillable PDF versions of the survey will remain available for download, throughout this grace period. Completed forms must be returned to me by May 19th, in order to be included in the analysis.

May your journey into memory bless you with its richness; May Awen flow for you, as you formulate your responses!

Yours, under the California Coast Live Oaks,
Larisa A. White, M.S.Ed., Ph.D.

World Druidry Survey – Final Call

The time has come for the official, final call for participation in the World Druidry Survey.

The six-month data-gathering phase of the survey will end on May 1st, 2019. This means that, after April 30th, I shall not respond to new requests for links to the SurveyMonkey forms. The SurveyMonkey account for this project will be closed on Sunday, May 19th (the day before they charge me another $300, which is the annual fee for using their service). Therefore, anyone who has requested and received a SurveyMonkey link prior to May 1st will have a 19-day grace-period in which to complete their SurveyMonkey responses.

The PDF survey forms will also remain available for completion until Sunday, May 19th. Any completed PDF forms received (via email or postal service) before the end of the day on May 19th will be included in the study. Any PDFs arriving after that date will be too late to be included in the analysis.

So, if you have considered participating in the Survey, but have not yet begun the process, now is the time to do so. If you have begun your Survey, but have not yet completed it, pour yourself a double, and get to it!

Analysis will commence on Monday, May 20, 2019. And I am really looking forward to it!

The response of the world community of Druids has been amazing. 691 completed surveys have been submitted thus far. Let’s see if we cannot break the 700-response mark.

Yours, with much gratitude, under the misty California Coast live oaks,
Larisa

A Cuppa Tea from the Garden!

It was time to prune back the ornamental Camellias, and clean up the dead flowers and fallen leaves. My mother-in-law (from China) was coming over for brunch, just before my day of gardening. As she passed by my waiting basket and hedge clippers, she asked: Was I planning to make some tea?

Tea?

According to her, the fussy-flowered Japanese cultivar (Camellia japonica), which is typically grown as a garden ornamental, also has leaves that can be used to make tea, just as the leaves of the regular “tea” making varietal (Camellia sinensis) – only somewhat less flavorful.

I had my doubts. But after verifying by web-research that Camellia leaves are not considered toxic, and can, indeed be used to make tea, I set out to harvest some shiny, waxy new leaves for an experiment in tea making!

I harvested one large cookie-rack-full of baby Camellia leaves, and let them wither indoors overnight, covered with a towel. By lucky coincidence, our weather for the next few days was expected to be in the upper 70s and low 80s, which would allow for fermenting at room temperature. The process I attempted to follow was one which I obtained from the University of Hawaii’s Cooperative Extension Service: Tea Processing (PDF downloaded from U. of Hawaii). The following morning, I wrapped the withered Camellia leaves in a couple of layers of cheese cloth, and kneaded and crumbled them, as the handout suggested. Then, I spread them in a thin layer on damp paper towel, and covered them with a wet towel, and set them in the sun to ferment in the heat.

The result was about 1/2 cup of what looked and smelled like a mild black tea.

The next morning, I brewed a few cups of tea with it, to serve to the family with breakfast. Much to my surprise, it yielded a very respectable cup of oolong-stye tea!

I believe the main trouble I had in getting my desired black tea out of the process was that we live in a very dry area, and so, while I set the tea out in the warm sun (covered with damp towel) to let it ferment in the heat, the towel dried out too quickly, and the dry heat stopped the fermentation before the full flavor had been achieved. Next time, I will try re-wetting the towels periodically, to keep it fermenting for a few hours longer, before allowing the dry heat to stop the process.

I had for a long time regretted my attachment to coffee and tea, and other culinary staples that I thought must be transported half-way around the world, with the associated carbon-footprint attached. Now, it seems, all I need to do is plant a few more Camellia bushes (probably sinensis variety), and snip my own leaves for a local-harvested tea supply. It sure makes pruning “chores” a whole lot more palatable!

Wisdom from our Elder Brothers

The Mamas of the Kogi people of Colombia are true ancestors of spirit to modern-day Druids. They have a very deep and detailed understanding of the ecological principles that rule the workings of our Living Earth. Anyone interested in defending or protecting Mother Nature should listen, very carefully, to their words.

Having studied ecology for decades, myself, and having engaged in small-scale ecological restoration projects, I used to think that I understood quite a bit about ecology — until I watched this pair of films. Now I realize that my knowledge was still limited, focused on the workings of individual ecosystems, in isolation. The Kogi offer an even deeper level of understanding, tracing all the golden threads that weave the various ecosystems together into a united, magical whole.

The two documentaries here explore first, who the Kogi are, historically and sociologically, and second, the wisdom they have to offer regarding what needs to be done to heal the Earth Mother and save the world.

I hope you enjoy watching them as much as I did!

Oak Tree Masting Year

We are always observing the activities of the flora and fauna in our yard (native CA ecosystem restoration area), and this past fall, we became quite concerned when we noticed that most of the native Oak trees on our property (which are normally evergreen), were dropping the majority of their leaves, over winter. Were they overly drought-distressed? Succumbing to a disease? We had no idea, but were worried.

Then, as I was reading the amazing book, “Hidden Life of Trees,” I stumbled upon Peter Wohlleben’s description of how nut-bearing trees such as oaks will (in unison) drop a very high proportion of the leaves in their crowns, to make room for the ridiculous number of flowers (and later, the acorns) which they plan to make in the following year, which they have decided (in unison) will be a masting year. Masting years are the years in which the oaks bear a bumper-crop of nuts. They do this only once every several, unpredictable number of years – so as to produce more food than the regular population of nut-predators can possibly consume in a year, thus increasing the likelihood of successful procreation. They risk death by starvation in order to do this, but once masting year is over, they work hard to replace all the leaves they had jettisoned for the masting season.

So, I wrote the question in my diary, last autumn: does the leaflessness of oaks portend a masting year, where we live? Now, in the first warm sunshine after a long, rainy winter, we have the answer…

A masting year, it is! Achoooo!

So now, I know, when the oak leaves drop from a healthy-looking, California Coast Live Oak tree:

  • It is a good omen;
  • Plan to spend time in the autumn, harvesting and processing acorns;
  • Recognize that Nature will provide well for your family in the coming year.