Aims of the Foundation
One of the principle aims of the Foundation is to rediscover the spiritual relationship between mistletoe and Druidic philosophy. Here we may be able to establish an understanding of the hidden mysteries of our tradition and work with the polarities in order to create a true balance within the human understanding of deity. This is not to affirm the dualism of polarity, but to move beyond the extreme polarisation that is held within the revealed religions, with their bias towards god or goddess, right or wrong, good or evil … and find the power of true connection. Addressing this in many ways, the Foundation looks at mythology, herb lore, ritual and magic, finding congruence and relevance, securing the place of this sacred plant in the sacred traditions of the present and the future. Allowing personal interaction on a hands-on level, another key aim of the Foundation is to encourage the propagation of mistletoe within our sacred Groves, exploring the botany of this precious plant. This in itself will be no easy task, the plant has a reputation for being extremely difficult to germinate and as the Foundation unfolds this will become part of the learning process.
However, individual modern-day Druids have had some success with this venture, so we know that it is not impossible or indeed implausible. Environmental issues are another prime concern of the Mistletoe Foundation. These concerns involve the protection of habitats that are still able to host mistletoe, and to provide a database that details its distribution and apparent decline in the Midlands and Northern Britain. Obviously, any oak trees that may still sustain mistletoe would be regarded as sacred within a Druidic context and therefore we would endeavour to secure their protection. Sources of Inspiration The Mistletoe Foundation was inspired by the ancient roots of our tradition and, through its work, we shall build a bridge from our illustrious heritage into the twenty first century. In doing so, our journey is one which lays great value on ‘walking our talk’. We know from Classical accounts that mistletoe was held to be deeply sacred by the Druids, especially when discovered upon an oak tree. On the sixth day of the new moon closest to the Winter Solstice, it was harvested with great ceremony as an offering to the gods. It would seem that this was a pivotal date within the ancient Druidic calendar, using a natural albeit very unusual parasitic plant species. It is this sacred act, the rite of cutting the mistletoe, which lies at the heart of the Foundation. Perceived as an offering of cosmic male fertility to the goddess of the land, of the sacred womb of creation, the rite is a metaphor expressing the union from which nature emerges. Sacred Connection Mistletoe contains many healing properties including the ability to combat various types of cancer.
Often referred to as All Heal in old texts and folklore, it is believed that we have merely scratched the surface with regard to its medical applications and potential. Concerning its relationship with the human condition, mistletoe has always exuded energies of a very positive nature upon our psyche. From the joy and goodwill of kissing beneath a sprig of mistletoe at the Christmas or Midwinter party, to simply bringing it into the home as an expression of the festive season, we have for thousands of years in continuity looked upon this plant as an inspiration to bring the benevolent side of our human nature to the surface. In its power we see reflected the beauty of nature’s rite of union. It teaches us of gentleness and power, connection and joy: we express it in the wonder of that festive kiss which begins a new cycle of the growing year. Just as its physical qualities can heal, so its spiritual quality – its energy – heals too, allowing us to open our soul to the deepest lessons about relationship, inspiration and creativity. Through our reverence for nature, with the language of Druidry, we look then to the mistletoe as a teacher and a guide.
MISTLETOE: THE DRUID HERB
It’s all going on between the leaves, there from midwinter, through early spring and to the equinox, on the female plant the berries sit betwixt last year’s stems and her flowers between the leaf nodes are busying themselves in readiness to produce next winters lunacious spheres. Between each pair of leaves a three headed flower waits for the pollen to be carried from the male plant. The berry almost never grows between the leaves and forms from last year’s flower.
From the land of timeless wonder, the land of promise, where all lived together in peace in a world of abundant beauty; there comes a guide, holding over his shoulder a branch, a branch that has growing upon it both flowers and fruit, a branch which sings healing and peace to all those who hear its song.
It is with this branch that the chosen hero of the tale can walk into the Otherworld to meet divine beings or find insight and understanding to bring back to the physical world and fulfil a destiny.
This branch, sometimes call the “Hero’s Bough” or the “Silver Branch” is considered magic and of another world, but we only need to look at the English Mistletoe (Viscum album) to find a plant that has both ripened fruit and pollinating blossom at the same time of the year. Is it that the branch of legend is our mistletoe?
Mistletoe stands alone in the kingdom of the plants.
- The only seed that germinates in the light, well it doesn’t germinate so much as wait for the vernal equinox then hatch.
- It is unaffected by the gravity of the earth.
- Constantly growing, this deciduous and evergreen woody shrub has no growth rings.
- Heals by poisoning.
Is it because of the differences that mistletoe was seen as living outside of the three realms?
Is it thus that the mistletoe was overlooked by Frigg when she asked all that lives in land, sea or sky to never harm her son.
Another Goddess of love, Aphrodite, guides her son to the mistletoe in order to gain access to the underworld, likening the roll of the mistletoe to the silver branch of celtic legend.
Of the link to druidry and mistletoe in a chapter by Pliny the Elder he states: “The druids held nothing more sacred than the mistletoe and the tree that bears it.”
The Mistletoe Foundation believes in the magic of mistletoe and through public ceremony honouring the plant and the sacred land it grows above. With talks, planting days, art exhibitions and taking mistletoe and druidry into schools the Mistletoe Foundation is opening the awareness of both to a wider audience and a greater understand of each into the future.
Further information about the work of the Foundation see www.mistletoefoundation.co.uk