Green Wizardries, A Tree Without Sin

Maxine Rogers


by Maxine Rogers

I sometimes like to listen to a video blog or podcast while I am working in the kitchen. One of my favourites is Danu’s Irish Herb Garden on Youtube. I think of it as the All-Druid Channel. I think the lady presenter, Terri Conroy, may also be a Druid and she has many interesting hobbies and ideas and pretty views of rural Ireland in her videos.

I have been trying to find a solution to the problem of Christmas trees. We have many beautiful ornaments and even the proper German candle holders and candles for our tree. Yes, we light our tree with real, live candles. When people from Germany hear this, they look very serious and tell us that we can only light the candles while we are looking directly at the tree and singing carols. It is okay. We never look away from the tree while the candles are lit. There are few sights finer than a decorated tree lit with candles.

I am not a Christian, but my husband still likes to celebrate Christmas and have a tree. Celebrating Christmas is fine with me because I celebrate the Feast of Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun, on the same day. No, the problem is the tree itself.

You see, as a Druid, I feel compelled to reduce my burden on the Living Earth and I feel it is unkind to kill a little tree just to support some ornaments for a few days. I had been thinking of ways around this. An artificial tree is quite out of the question as they are made of plastic and will be an environmental problem, and a very toxic one, for millennia. I also do not like how they look.

I was thinking of getting a few boughs together and tying them into a bundle to form a tree without sin. I had turned on Danu’s Irish herb Garden and there she was, doing exactly that. She was walking through the forest after a storm to see what sort of branches and greens had been blown down. I expect she had to prune a few branches to get her Druid tree but I am sure any tree would prefer to lose one branch rather than be cut down entirely.

I often find enough blown-down evergreens to make a wreath and swags for the house. The benefit of making your own rather than using artificial greens is that natural greens make the house smell wonderful and help to lift the mood. Artificial greens are just nasty to the senses.

My husband just had to prune out some maple branches growing from a cut stump so I will use those, along with some evergreens for the scent, and bind them tightly together to make a good shape and put them in a bucket, wedging the stems in with rocks so the whole bouquet holds its shape and then fill the bucket with water. Then, we will decorate our “tree.”

I hope some of my readers will consider producing their own, more environmentally friendly, Christmas tree this year. I was horrified when I saw the price of a scruffy-looking bunch of Christmas trees at the grocers. They were something like $40 which is quite a bit of money for something you are only going to throw away in a few days in any case.

Another tradition that I hope to encourage is the custom of Wassailing. Wassail is old English and it means, “be healthy.” The correct response is, “drink hale!” Which means to drink health. Wassail also means to go sing to your friends and neighbours. We did this last year by calling up some friends on the phone and asking if it was a suitable time to Wassail them. They said it was and put us on speaker phone. We sang them a Christmas song and at the end of it, they were screaming for us as if we were rock stars.

I found out later that they had been so inspired by our wassail that they got some LED candles and went and wassailed their brother’s house . So, I hope that even if we cannot get together in person, we can still wassail by phone.

At this season, I get out my watercolours and paint small card fronts on watercolour paper for the festivals of midwinter. It is a great excuse to use glitter! I buy card stock from Abraxas Books and find I can make a festive card and an envelope cut from printer paper for less than .25 cents a card. People love the cards I make because I cared enough to make them something myself.

I hope some of you readers will give this a try. It is a fun tradition to paint with friends and family. There are heaps of free tutorials on Youtube that show you how to use the paints. Many of them are very beginner friendly and you don’t need anything more than some kids’ paints, paper and glue.

I don’t hold with buying presents for these festivals as no one enjoys it and much money is wasted. Instead, I baked cookies including my famous Mexican shortbread which is dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Everyone loves these rich, buttery, not too sweet treats. I collect pretty tins and fill them treats them to give family and friends.

I also make my own chocolate from cocoa butter, cocoa, honey and a dash of vanilla. It is really very simple to make. I just heat all that in a double boiler and add a little more cocoa butter if the chocolate is too thick or more cocoa if it is too sweet. This year, I made patties of peppermint fondant and dipped them in the delicious fresh chocolate. My friends were delighted. I also has some sour cherries that I had preserved in sugar and alcohol. I bound them with a little fondant and covered them in fresh chocolate. I think they are wonderful.

No matter what holiday you are celebrating this month, I wish you joy of it and hope you find some of my suggestions useful.


The all-driud channel tree.

Home-made cards, Presents I made, wassailing the neighbours.