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  • Writer's picturePortland Jones

Priestess of the Forest - A Druid Journey

The Druid Trilogy book 1

Ellen Evert Hopman

Ethne is a Druid healer. We meet her living alone in the forest, waiting for sick and injured people to be brought to her when illness and accidents arise. She is renown as a healer with formidable skills that will aid their recovery. She loves her home and her surroundings, feeling at one with nature.

Her life is disrupted when she has to return to town to live with her people, required to do so by Druid elders. Or was her life disrupted by the injured warrior she healed and came to care for? Obedience is expected. As a Druid priestess, she is bound by oaths that she took many years ago. Her role is to do what is necessary for the people, to protect them in any way she can.

For the first time, she finds conflict between what she must do as a Druid and what she would do for herself as a woman. This is a time of crisis for her people. There is very real threat to their way of life from the Christian religion that has reached their shores. Not prepared to live side by side with the existing ways of the people, it seeks to squash their beliefs, denying their gods and traditions. Women were valued and treated as equals, until the bringers of the Christian religion thought they should be subjugated and made subservient to men.

The new religion brought with it riches and promises to persuade and cajole people into giving up the old ways. Men previously glad to be guided by Druid wisdom set it aside. Who was to be trusted? In an age where strength in battle was seen as giving the right to rule, no one was safe. The ending was perhaps unexpected, as Ethne, through hardship, gained insight and understanding of what was important, what was to be valued, and how to reconcile these into a workable reality.

The characters are well drawn, leading you to sympathise with their struggles and to feel their distress at the conflict between what they wanted to do and what was right. I found myself urging them on, reading rapidly to see if they would stay true to their beliefs or to themselves.

When I started reading this story, I became captivated by the history of how people lived in the days when Christianity was just arriving and trying to establish itself as the dominant religion, when Kings ruled with a Druid at their side to impart wisdom and knowledge handed down through generations. We meet first a skilled healer and see her in action collecting herbs and plants to use as medicines to cure sickness, at the same time weaving enchantments asking gods and goddesses to aid with the cures. I felt that the author had more than a passing knowledge of herblore, either that or she was great at telling a convincing yarn. Calls to the gods and goddesses are worked in full, a part of the narrative to be read and absorbed, not glanced over.

We learned the best way to hunt deer, how to care for weaponry, how to live in tune with nature, offering thanks for the gifts given. For me, I was paying so much attention to this charming snapshot of an older way of life that I almost forgot that this was the background for a story. I felt I learned a great deal from this book, then stopped to ask myself – is this fact or is it completely fiction? The writing suggested it was written by someone who knew. Imagine my pleasure when I read to the end and then read the back matter.

The author Ellen Evert Hopman is indeed a master herbalist, registered with the American Herbalists Guild. She has a deep knowledge of the Druid, has written Druidry-related titles, and was co-founder of the Order of the Whiteoak. Ellen is the current Archdruid of the Tribe of the Oak. If only all knowledge could be imparted in this way, fiction woven into fact. It would be a much more enjoyable way of learning.

I asked the author to tell me a bit about themself and their publishing journey.

I actually wrote my first book “Tree Medicine Tree Magic” while I was in graduate school. I had recently moved to New England where the growing season is quite short – just about three months – and I couldn’t figure out how indigenous people or settlers survived here with no greens all winter. After all, they couldn’t just go to the Stop and Shop for a bag of salad. Then I looked out my window and saw all the trees. I figured that must have something to with it and I set about trying to find a book (yes, a book, there was no internet at the time) that would tell me how to do that. When I couldn’t find one, I made a supreme leap of illogic and decided I must write it myself. I had never written a book before and I was not an English major.

As a student I was working part time in the university library shelving books and lo and behold I began to notice tree books appearing in my stacks. So, on breaks I took notes. And “Tree Medicine Tree Magic” was born. That’s what I was doing with my spare time, rather than drinking or smoking weed! 😊

I had never felt the need to self-publish because every single book I had written was picked up by a publisher. But my trilogy of Druid novels went out of print because the publisher didn’t think they were selling fast enough. After getting over the shock and disappointment I decided to try self-publishing and it’s worked out well for me. I think it’s because I already have a “name” and people seek out my books now. I have about sixteen books so far, I can’t keep track, LOL, because I just sold two more and am writing another one!

In terms of marketing, I spend one day a week promoting on Facebook and Twitter. I choose one book a week and blast it out. I also keep a monthly blog where I always feature quotes from my books, along with other new content, and links to where people can buy them.

Covid has been a blessing in many ways because I am now being invited to speak on videos and podcasts all over the US and in Europe and I don’t have to travel. I speak on a variety of subjects and always tie in my books. I was even invited to speak at the Parliament of the World’s Religions last year, which was virtual. Usually, you have to fly to some place, it could be anywhere on the planet, to attend.

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