What makes me a Druid? My Grove, Revealed, spring 2013

My Grove Revealed, 2013

Nature just dumped another foot of welcome snow upon us, at the top of our Wisconsin hill. I managed to clear the paths to the Grove without falling upon my caboose more than once. Most passers-by don’t even know my Grove is there. That’s just fine.

Still, my ministry could use a bit of visibility, as it has evolved into a form largely virtual. Belief in one’s own existence is worth reaffirming, and so I will render here in words what physical form we have. I still don’t want you to visit. When Season of Sleep ends, in less than two weeks, the Grove will be mud, all betwixt and between. Strangers would trample us.

When first White Rabbit Grove came online, we were in a very different physical setting, a riverbank near a protected wetlands area. But then we lost our lease, and the move was traumatic on all levels. As I reflect, in this time of preparation for another cycle of green, we have been at our present elevation for five years! It’s about time I got over my mistrust of its possible impermanence. All things have a season. So I celebrate the roots we have established here upon the hilltop.

By the way, despite the Grove’s name, there are no white rabbits here, just the regular brown kind. When Mike the Fool named us, I believe he was remarking upon the front teeth of the Archdruid, and I admit I’m not brown in any season. We also are a Grove with only one human member, the others being plants and animals. As the Archdruid fares, so does her Grove, which is as it should be.

Technically we are in an urban area. However our animal members are largely wild– raccoon, possum, squirrel, hawk, crow, skunk, jay, dove, woodchuck, and so on. There are anthills and mole hills. There are bird nests and a squirrel majordomo. As well as the herbs and flowers I have introduced, there are the outstanding trees, the pillars of our status as Grove.

Most numerous species is the speckled Alder. Alder is a nitrogen-fixing tree, as is black Locust, without the inhibiting effect upon growth at its base that Locust has. Alder’s much more generous, as well as a pioneer. Innumerable tiny insects drill its small leaves for sap year round, so that they constantly fall and regrow. My herbs and flowers cozy up to their very bases, even twine up their trunks.

In addition they serve as Grove ‘furniture’– tool racks, fence posts, tent pegs, and so on. They tend to remain slender and easy to train and prune to shape, never a huge tree. I would change the name of the Grove to Alder, if it weren’t so cliche to name Groves after species. This Archdruid cannot get over the presentiment that I may need to relocate again someday and leave my hill of Alders behind.

It’s not surprising to find pioneer tree species so numerous here, as the house that used to be here burned down. Another pioneer species, Box Elder, is our second most numerous. Prairie tribes revered this tree, though farther east it’s largely a colonizer of so-called waste ground, with wood that is weak and easy to fracture. That is why many people dislike having Box Elders nearby, as they are prone to drop limbs upon one’s house in a storm. But if you want a maple in a hurry, they are eager to please, and their plentiful seedlings are sweet in a salad. For those who tap for sap, Box Elder is nearly as fine as Sugar Maple for syrup.

I spend quite a bit of time pruning and weeding the Box Elder volunteers so that they don’t crowd out the sunshine, as well as the other species. However I consider them solid Grove citizens, my ‘prairie balsawood’.

There are distinguished arboreal holdovers from before the house fire. The most eminent in my estimation are the Chokecherries. When the Archdruid arrived here the parent tree was in its dotage, barely putting out leaf any longer, but around its broken down remains have sprung up colonies of suckers and animal-spread saplings, with wonderful cherry aroma and shiny foliage. In 2012 I was able to taste the first crop of maybe a dozen delicious, stony fruit, suitable for pemmican. Aside from encouraging them to leave the paths clear, I am delighted to let the Chokecherries return.

From the previous house’s garden I was gifted with perennial flowers, and also the shrubs Lilac and Honeysuckle. The latter is considered invasive by the state Department of Agriculture, and I must agree, as its bright red berries are never eaten by anything, and it grows so fast that one must constantly cut it back to nearly nothing just to let in the sun. However its golden-white blossoms have their charm, and as a young Druid on vigil I was very grateful for its gift of dry tinder in a drizzle, so I am not about to forbid it in my Grove.

As for Lilac, this fragrant ornamental dots the sites of so many abandoned homesteads that it’s practically a resident species of the European invasion, like wild apple and day lily.
Though it isn’t edible like those examples, organic gardeners have successfully used lilac leaf spray to make garden crops taste bad to pests.

The Grove also boasts distinguished individual representatives of their species. Foremost among them is our huge Blue Spruce, whose dense umbrella of boughs serves as the vestibule of the Grove. Every year it is claimed by a squirrel, as it is highly desirable real estate for them, as well as nest site for several types of birds. Hawk has left signs of its kills here, sometimes squirrel. Blue Spruce and Fir boughs are the best source of bedding if you are going to camp out; I leave it to the critters, as the Archdruid’s Residence is in close proximity.

If I were ever to vigil again, by preference it would be upon Spruce’s spicy and insulating floor of needles and boughs. When I had no home of my own once upon a time, the conifers provided. I am glad to have at least one conifer represented in the Grove. The previous Grove site ran instead to Cedars both red and white, which are primarily incense trees.

Nowadays my Cedar, as well as my delicious Mulberry, have to come from elsewhere. I don’t miss them greatly because they are accessible in my neighborhood, and the humans haven’t objected to my gathering thereabouts.

Elm and Silver Maple have crept back as individual exemplars here. Both are fine solid trees with tasty seeds for the Grove members who relish such things. And in 2012 I fund a new baby! For the first time in Grove history, we will have an Oak. Its two small leaves upon a sturdy stem went brilliant red at frost. My heart is glad. I cannot wait for the muddy spring to reveal it again.

I hope you enjoyed this introduction to our Grove. It’s not just a bunch of pixels on the web. It’s actual beings in an actual place on the planet. Because Nature is Good.


Arch druid, White Rabbit Grove

somewhere in Wisconsin

Healing Lines: MY GROVE– Revealed!>

Druid Life

I’ve been thinking for a while that it might be interesting to lay out what it is that makes me feel entitled to use a hefty word like ‘Druid’ in public places. When I started out as a student, I definitely did not feel able to claim druidhood, it took years of learning, regular ritual attendance and interacting with people who definitely were Druids to get me to that point. The key transition points for me were, completing the three levels of the OBOD course, and being involved in running a group. I’d now add to that the occasional celebrant work, teaching, book writing and blogging. If it quacks like a Druid and waddles like a Druid, it may of course be an outsized duck in a robe…

Well, I don’t have any robes, I have no beard, no staff, no wands, no sword, not even a cloak at present……

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One Response to “What makes me a Druid? My Grove, Revealed, spring 2013”

  1. helgaleena Says:

    Now featured in the Spring Equinox issue of Druid Inquirer!


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