Celtic Thought: Tadhg’s Relative Theory Of Time

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You can save it, use it, abuse it, mark it, lose it, even kill it. One British ‘superhero’ (yes, we do have fictional superheroes, too, albeit, not the sort that wear their underwear on the outside) even travels through it in a funny blue police telephone box from yesteryear.

‘Some people live more in 20 years than others do in 80. It’s not the time that matters, it’s the person.’ The Doctor, Season 3, Episode 6

It’s time! And, I have a theory about it.

There is a time, a special time, that is, there’s a time that is really special  for me. No, it’s probably not the time you’re thinking of. But, it’s fast approaching. Perhaps you have a special time, too?

I’ll give you some clues: it’s not Christmas Day that I’m thinking about right now, and it only lasts for  just a few hours.

I was going to be clever and mention chronos and kairos, both being Greek words for time; the former being the passage of time (tick-tock), and the latter being the word for opportunity (as in, ‘Oh my, if only I had the time to do that?’). But, I won’t.

For me, the evening of Christmas Eve is that (next) special time, and then only a few hours of it, and for a specific reason.

I know people who have spent and spent, and spent a fortune on Christmas gifts;  others have spent a fortune on Christmas food; some have spent a lot of time in getting just the right decor for the living room or their house-altar, pressing the Druid regalia etc, and some have have done a myriad of other things in preparation for the season. Now, none of this is necessarily wrong, and so this isn’t a rant. But, the fast approaching special time will ‘take care’ of it, in any case.

That special time is a time when: if we haven’t bought that gift for aunt Maude, then it’s too late; if the decor isn’t right then we only have a few hours left to ‘fluff’ things up, and if we haven’t got the paraphenalia that we need (be it a nativity set, a druid’s staff, or a set of lovely-smelling Yankee candles in place), then….yes, it’s too late. Yes, it’s that time of  ‘it’s too late now, lovey…but did that really matter in the first place?’ that I’m refering too.

Time?

Priorities?

‘The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.’ Stephen Covey

But, all that is history when that special time comes about.  And, there’s no time-travelling, blue police box involved. There’s no need!

Then, it’s too late. And then I suddenly ‘wake up’, realise that I’ve been caught up in the Christmas frenzy, and know that it’s too late, and am quietly pleased. Actually, I’m deliriously happy. I love that time. And, here, that happens at about 8pm on Christmas Eve. Shops are closed. Bus services are reduced. People are off the streets and busying themselves at home, and even city sounds seem subdued as if some kind of huge storm is approaching.

At that special time the gifts I’m going to give are wrapped, the clothes (‘civilian’ or celtic/Druid ‘spiritual’) that I’ll need have been washed and pressed, and everything else that needs to be done has been done…and if it hasn’t then ‘hey-ho’, or should that be ‘ho-ho’? Too late. It’s then too late even to participate within the commercial side of the season, but who really wants to do that?  Oh, commerce, does. Too late to buy! Too late! And, that special time is a blessing to us all, as time itself changes our priorities from ‘things’ to ‘people’; from shallow to depth; to spiritual matters, however we define that word; to perceive things from a wider, cosmic and eternal perspective.

So, I guess there is a special time, which for me is a few hours on Christmas Eve, much to the annoyance of the world of commerce, but maybe there’s a  sacred time, too. Sacred time is whenever we are being intentional and doing something wholesome.

This is the time between times.
The time between past and future.
It is all we really have.
It is all we really need!
(Tadhg)

Sacred time, then, is when we’re being intentional and doing good things, and they can take a myriad of forms.  For instance,  sacred time can be you on my doorstep holding two cups of coffee, one of which is for me.  And, if you’re not local to me, I’m sure there’s someone local to you who might welcome your company. It’s the small things that count. It’s your time that matters: intentionality and action.

You see, it’s not the coffee that counts, it’s you and your time that’s impotant. And, for that you don’t need a time-travelling blue police box. We already have the gift of time. The Source Of All has seen to that. It’s all we really need. Relatively speaking.

‘Yesterday’s the past; tomorrow’s the future; but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.’ Bill Keane

Random Thoughts From A Blue (Without The Aid Of Woad) Celt

161201-random-thoughts-celtic-thoughtRandom thoughts: It’s been one of those days. Do you have them? ‘Bitty’!

Bits of this and bits of that, and maybe, depending on your work, that is how it is at the moment. Today, has been ‘bitty’ for me, though that isn’t a complaint, as those ‘bitty’ thoughts’ led to some productive outcomes.

But, ‘bitty’ in thought and deed.

Here’s some of those random, ‘bitty’ thoughts: Firstly, I must not mention footwear in my articles, at least for the next couple of weeks, as I used footwear as a metaphor to break out of constricting dogma two days ago, only to express the virtue of some dogma and how useful it can be, yesterday.

Do not think of footwear. But, I bet you just did?

I’m an avid reader of the newspaper, and today I learned that one politician had said one things behind closed doors and another thing, blatently untrue, to the Great British public; that money being given to one needy section of public expendture isn’t  ‘new money’ at all, but had been agreed in the last budget for one area of pblic spending  was really  ‘old money’ being spoken about, again; and that taking back control of our borders – and I know it’s an emotive subject – may mean we don’t! And, that led me to suspect that the real news was being buried somewhere. And, there it was. Oh my, I didnt know that there are 250,000 homeless people in the UK, right now. That snippet of news got swamped, almost. A topic for prayer, a caim, and positive-energy-direction if there ever was one.

I’m still not mentioning footwear.

The temperature is dropping. The last few nights have been below zero (that’s zero celsuis for the few remaining quant people still using fahrenheit), and only just above zero during the day. Thankfully for some, sadly for me, it will improve over the next few days. Oh, I do like snow. Even in town, when the clouds are thick and grey with snow, and the streets and rooftoops are brilliant white, laden with snow – a topsy-turvy, paradox of the ground being ‘brighter’ than the sky – I love it. I’m even well-prepared, having brought several wooly hats, two scarves and thinsulate gloves with me, from Capel Curig. But, so far. No snow. I do love snow. Dear Clerk of the Weather: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Inspired by a friend, some thousands of miles away, I’ve taken up jogging to keep fit – well, actually to get fit(ter) and then maintain it. Whatever you do, because of my hard-earned efforts from jogging, please do not forget pantone (colour) 15-4020, otherwise known as Cerulean blue. It’s a rather nice pale blue colour, and what with evenings here falling to freezing or just below, pantone 15-4020 matches the colour my legs go, when I go jogging, well at least, initially. But, I think the jogging it paying off. I’m aiming for pantone 13-1520 by the end of the month.

I’m leading a hand-fasting event at the weekend – a bit of a formal event, and everything is prepared and I’m so excited (as are the intended couple), but um, I’ll let you into a little secret: I love formal events, but feel uneasy at the same time. Oh, don’t get me wrong, such events are ‘magical’, and the couple involved are totally in love, and I love leading such events, it’s just that, it’s just that hooded albs can be so ‘different’!

For instance, a shirt and tie is acceptable anywhere, but a hooded alb when out and about in, say, Cleethorpes High Street, is another thing. But then, such items of wearing apparrel are only for special occassions and not for Cleethorpes High Street (and no disprect to Cleethorpes); and the different ‘gear’ is different, and that’s what equally makes me feel uneasy in part, but pleased that wearing approrpriate, special clothing at such a liminal event. And, it is expected.

‘Clothing doesn’t really change a man. But it changes how others react to him.’  Brandon Sanderson

Yes, appropriate clothing for approrpriate events. And, hand-fasting ceremonies are different, are wonderful, and I can’t wait to lead it -hooded alb or no hooded alb. Items of clothing should be appropriate to the event, don’t you think?

Which brings me onto the photo used to head this article, today.

Firstly, I have to clear up any misunderstanding. I am not one of the guys in the photo. You can tell I’m not, because if I were my legs would be a rather fetching shade of pantone 15-4020 or Cerulean blue. Also, I’d be wearing more clothes – those poor guys are going to catch man-flu, if they’re not careful.

And, yes, my last random thought is: thank goodness those guys in the photo are wearing appropriate footwear, if nothing else…I mean if little else! I apologise for mentioning footwear, but I have to admit that that thought went through my mind. And maybe, the hooded alb is all part of the experience. After all, I will be more appropriately dressed for the hand-fasting event than those mountain-top guys, won’t I?

But enough about me. What about you?

And, meanwhile, please do pray for those without housing this Christmas, those in any kind of need – they need our prayers, positive-thought-energies, and even ‘bitty’ action.

Regards

Tadhg

 

Celtic Daily Thought: But At Times, Keep Your Shoes On…

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…Yes, sometimes, it’s good to keep your shoes on. Aha! Having wrote, yesterday, about those dogma-shoes of restriction (of extreme religion, ‘churchianity’ or the like, or any unwelcome and unnecessary restrictions) that we wear, and which cripple us and hold us back, there are some things that are good for us.

Dogma-shoes may be ‘out’! But, protective-shoes, are definitely still ‘in’. Life can be complex, I know.

So there I was, this morning, moving some hefty paving-stones around the garden , and it was a damp and cold day. Brrrr! I had put on my ‘gardening boots’, bought some years ago and which have aged alongside me like a close friend, and they have steel toe-caps. They are not flattering. I wouldn’t win a fashion contest in them, but they are functional. And, I love them….if only because, ten minutes into moving these paving stones around the garden this morning (using a kind of paving-stone ‘walking motion’, of swivelling them to rest of alternating corners as I half-turned them – and, that sentence made sense to me, but apologies if it doesn’t really make sense)…one paving stone slipped (due to the cold and dampness in the air) and fell onto the toes on my left foot! Crash! But, toe steel-capped boots are a blessing, I’ve found. No damage done. Sometime it pays to have oh-so-unfashionable-but-restrictive shoes on, protective footwear, appropriate for the task in hand.

Having said, yesterday, to go barefoot – to remove any outmoded restrictions in our lives, perhaps sometimes, protective-boot-dogmas are needed (or progressive-boot-dogmas can be inserted there). Certainly, tangibly, that was the case today.

So there I was this afternoon, at the cottage. I met Ben for a match. Ben, who is a young-ish neighbour, and who was born in New York is physically strapping, a massive man, muscular and built-like-a-farmhand, sort of man. He’s astute, strong, full of energy, could floor Tarzan, overpower Superman and think nothing of it, and Batman wouldn’t even have time to reach for his bat-[insert here a gadget of choice], and as an amateur wrestler, Ben hardly ever loses. But, I beat him. Oh, yes, it wasn’t a technically pure match, but I beat him, fair and square. He didn’t like it. His ego was bruised,  due to my win. Did I mention I won? The match, for him, went downhill from the thirtieth minute. That was when I used my knight to take his queen, and the rest, as they say, was history. I love chess. But, if you employ a consistent strategy, a dogma-of-moves, the potential of winning is enhanced.

And now here I am typing, or is it word-processing? And, it dawned on me that there is a need for us to remove those old, restrictive dogma-shoes, that hold us back, but that’s only half the story.

There’s more!

There is a need for a framework in our lives, a belief. Call it goodly-dogma, lifestyle or relevant-faith, but it can be a force for good. Practically, steel toe-capped boots saved my poor little toes today, a good chess strategy assisted me to beat a friend at chess, and maybe a positive belief in the Good and That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves, is needed. I’ve found that to be the case. Goodly-dogma (that enables, and I know I’m now using dogma in a different way). But, what do you think?

The last word, well almost the last word goes to Ben, – he’s the wrestler chap. Having lost the chess match – oh be still, my rejoicing ego – Ben issued a challenge for me and him to ‘hit the mats’ next time! With suitable protection and strategy in place, it occurred to me that I might just beat him at wrestling, albeit that thought only stayed with me for several seconds. But,  fortunately for me, ‘sanctified common-sense’ or lifesaving-dogma clicked in, and I politely refused. Sometimes, that which ‘restricts’ us, certainly restricts us from accepting rash challenges can be the best way forward. Sometimes, my advice is: don’t remove your protective-dogma-shoes.

 

Celtic Daily Thought: Time To Take Off Your Tight Shoes…

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A thought: Whenever I can, I like to go around barefoot. What about you? In the house, in the cottage, at the beach, yes I’m barefoot, whenever possible. Not only does it feel better, but it connects me to the earth – do you feel the same? – and if I’m involved in leading a ritual or ceremony then it reminds me that we’re on holy ground, and if Moses can do it, then we can, too! Health and safety excepted, ofcourse.

This got me thinking about shoes! I’ve had some great shoes in my time – thank you Clarkes, and some others that pinched, and what should be a joy, or even at least uneventful, that is the action of walking, then becomes a constant reminder of pain, as every step reminds you: your shoes are too tight, take them off! Expletives deleted.

The shoes I’m also talking about is more than what’s wrapped around our feet, but some of our attitudes and beliefs, that at one time may have served us well (though with hindsight, I have my doubts, sometimes), but now restrict us, or ‘cripple ‘ us, and hold us back. And are so painful, too boot [pun not intended].

So, are your dogma-shoes too tight?

Our first reaction is to dismiss this ‘challenge’, after all, these shoes have served us well for years, so why change? But, they’ve been faithful, and I’ve got used to them.  Why change? They’re ‘fashionable (our shoes and our beliefs)? Why remove them? Because, they don’t serve you well, now! Because they’re hurting you? And yet, we do resist. We like our old habits, even bad and painful ones; we cling!

As Elvis Presley once sang:

Well, you can knock me down,
Step in my face,
Slander my name
All over the place.

Do anything that you want to do, but uh-uh,
Honey, lay off of my shoes.

Are your dogma-shoes too tight? Are we making excuses, being held back?

‘If you put on shoes that are too tight and walk out across an empty plain, you will not feel the freedom of the place unless you take off your shoes. Your shoe-constriction has you confined. At night before sleeping you take off the tight shoes, and your soul releases into a place it knows. Dreams glide deeper.’ Rumi

Rumi has the right idea. Some of those constrictions are too painful to put up with any longer. Some of them have to go. Take off your tight dogma-shoes, and relax. Interesting, he suggests we take them off at night and as our soul, at rest, eases into sleep,  we move into the place of dreams. Unrestricted, ‘de-shoed’ and free, the soul flies and soars, and the Encounter takes places. Ofcourse, having taken off our dogma-shoes, the ego, with one last effort of self-preservation, then tries to persuade us that our dreams and the Encounter mean little or nothing, and it’s best to put our oh-so-tight shoes back on. Much safer, it suggests! And, many do!

‘You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth?’, The Book

Tadhg’s Journal: ‘Drws I Fyd Arall’: Encounter Or Imagination?

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This morning, having gone to bed earlier than usual last evening, I was awake early. And, having done all that was necessary – ablutions-wise, it was still only 7am! At times when I can’t sleep, or awake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep (something which rarely happens, but I always feel is significant), or wake up (too) early, I always head for  Culpepper’s Wood, when in north Wales.

‘The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.’ John Muir

So, at about 6.20am this morning, with a couple of layers of external clothing on, and donning my faithful woolly hat, I ventured out for the short walk, only to be met by an oh-so-cold blast of air as I opened the kitchen door to leave the cottage. My…it was cold (and that was a British understatement). It was a good-to-be-alive, but please, ‘no colder’, sort of air-embrace. If I wasn’t awake before, I was wide awake then, and more so, as I ‘battled’ through the morning, freezing fog so common in these parts.

I slowly made my way to Culpepper’s Wood.

I’ve mentioned before, how as a child, my friends would avoid the area in the middle of Culpepper’s Wood which contained Y goeden mellt, the Lightning Tree (see here). We would all avoid it, except for me. I loved the power and mystery that both seemed to repel and invite, in equal measure, even as a child. And more recently, I wrote of a mysterious and meaningful ‘encounter’ there (see here).

Today, I passed Y goeden mellt, the Lightning Tree, having paused in its presence just long enough to be respectful, and walked further into the forest for another few minutes. Beyond the Lightning Tree is another area that all my childhood friends liked, and felt safe, and played in, as did I.

‘I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives…
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.’ Wendell Berry

It’s interesting how recollections as an adult of childhood occurrences can change over time. I was looking for two, very tall, thick silver birch trees. As a child, these were two huge trees, exactly 153 steps beyond the Lightning Tree (and I did measure the steps, then, but none of my friends at that time, would – they really didn’t like the Lightning Tree at all). Slightly fewer steps now, as an adult. And, there they were – looking a little thicker, older, weathered, both bowed a bit more that I can remember, and not-so-tall. Probably about fifteen feet in height, and still arched like an ancient door.

Ah, the door! As children, and our child-imaginations ran rife at the time, we called these two trees  Drws i fyd arall [pronounced ‘droo zi fid arrah’].

‘We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.’ Walt Disney

I’m not sure, as children whether some or all of us had access to some unknown source of esoteric wisdom (or maybe that’s inbuilt in children, and there’s a thought?), or whether we had all watched too many sci-fi programs on tv.

This was well before the days of Star Wars or StarGate (and the myriad of off-shoots), but comfortably placed in an era when ‘Lost In Space’ was first aired on tv.

Oh, how we all related to our-same-aged Will; and emulated the robot when it bellowed out, ‘Danger, Will Robinson’, as it seemed to do far too often; and how we hissed when Zachary Smith got up to no good. Indeed, it was probably one or more episodes in particular that might have been behind us calling these two trees, Drws i fyd arall. Zachary Smith was usually the one to find some alien artefact, conceal it from the rest of the team, try to use it for his own ends and end up with problems…only for others to resolve the problem at some cost.

There were several ‘Lost In Space’ programs where Zachary Smith had come across a alien’s ‘standing mirror’, which he thought was just a mirror, but unknown to him (initially), it was some kind of alien transport system – yes, stepping through the mirror would take you to an alien world that was totally different, and so you would know things have changed, or it would allow access to a parallel universe where only subtle changes might occur (and so you might now know that you’ve been transported, initially). It was cross between StarGate and Sliders, but many years before both – what a brilliant idea.

And so, early this morning, having walked on further than the Lightning Tree, there were the bowed, arched, silver birch trees: Drws i fyd arall.

It was like a home-coming. There they were. Drws i fyd arall as we called them, or in English, ‘the door to another world’ was right in front of me.

As children we had endless fun passing through these arched trees, that door to another place. Our imaginations ran riot. Today, I stopped to look, sat down, and dwelt on those old memories.

Each one of us has our own Drws i fyd arall, our door to another world. We might not want to imagine stepping through that portal to another level of existence (though you might find it fun and/or beneficial to try), but we might, as adults, distance ourselves from that, and call it potential or opportunity, or choice. That’s the grown-up thing to say. We might call it prayer or meditation. How we use it is important. Take prayer or meditation, for instance. One can dip ones toe into the water, have a shopping list of prayers, or meditate ‘lightly’ and reap some benefits; or one can dive deep and deeper still, and go beyond to be alone with the Alone. One is ‘distancing’ and partial, the other is all-embracing, powerful and culminates in an encounter.

I sat down, and stayed looking at Drws i fyd arall for about ninety minutes, until the sun came up at 8.05am. I was in no rush. And then stood, to head back to the cottage. Walking just a few yards, with so many wonderful thoughts in my head of childhood memories of what Drws i fyd arall meant as a child, and now as an adult, I looked back. It seemed to call.

As children, we would have no hesitation running through the two arched trees and pretending we had entered a door and everything was different, as though we were in a strange place – and after Brexit and events of the last few weeks, it seems as though we might have been transported to an alien world, in fact!

‘I have a thing for doors. I always think of them as a threshold to something new.’ Jada Pinkett Smith

But, it seemed to call. Turning and getting closer, there was part of me that wanted to walk through Drws i fyd arall or ‘the door to another world, and part of me that thought that to do so was ‘as silly as a box of frogs’. For some minutes, a mind-battle raged. Ofcourse, I knew that I wouldn’t literally be transported to an alien world if I walked through these two trees, and I knew the outcome (of passing through them or not) would be the same.  Or, would it? And so, I tarried for a few minutes, before trekking back to the cottage.

Ah, now you want to know if I once again walked through Drws i fyd arall or ‘the door to another world?

Well, I did! And it was fun! Frivolous! It brought back some great memories! And confirmed one thing: I may not have been transported to an alien planet, but by succumbing to Drws i fyd arall I chose to allow the ‘magic’ of the place to win the day and enter, for imagination to gain the upper hand on this occasion,  to embrace the unknown, and go forward positively with a smile on my face. For many people in these tough and strange times that might be such a change in outlook that it would be like them entering a different dimension.  But, maybe that’s what  Drws i fyd arall or ‘the door to another world’, is all about. A metaphorical-yet-real change of perspective that alters everything. A portal to another place (of attitude, rather than location)?

So, have you found your Drws i fyd arall or ‘the door to another world’?

 

Celtic OrthoPraxis: Today, As You Encounter ‘Reflective Robots’…

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‘The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.’ William Makepeace Thackeray

As a child, did you ever have toy figures or dolls that you would set out, play with, and re-enact some of the scenes from your childhood life?

I used to have lots of action figures to play with as a child, and one action figure in particular represented a rather grumpy school teacher. I’d use the action figure to re-enact various scenes, knowing always that at the end of the game that that particular action figure would go back in the box. But, ofcourse, I grew out of that kind of playing with action figures by the time I was 40yo. (Actually, I was much younger than that, but I just wanted to bring a smile to your face). 

It’s interesting the number of people, family, friends and strangers that (sometimes) seem to upset us. It has been said that upsetting scenarios will often repeat themselves until (in a positive way) we have found the message they are trying to communicate to us.

‘Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.’ Carl Jung 

Even more interesting is that Carl Jung believed that those who irritated us were, in some way, reflecting back to us something about ourselves that we may not want to encounter. He called it the ‘shadow’ or the ‘shadow self’, and (that’s something for another occasion), although the shadow is something we hide, it is a veritable power-house of energy that can be used positively and creatively.

But, the idea of reflection is the theme for today. As we go about our daily life, at home, school, college, work etc, Jung would tell us that what we ‘see’ in others, the way they interact with us, is a direct result of something of us being reflected in others. 

In others, we see a ‘mirror’ of ourselves, and usually the negative ‘bits’ that we find offensive!

So, here’s a game for us to play, a spiritual game, and it goes like this:

The Great ToyMaker has created an endless variety of robotic toys, and some of these you will encounter today, and they will look so lifelike. The Great Toymaker has programmed these toys to amuse you and comfort you, and to do so, they are attuned to your thought waves.

The ‘challenge’ is that you have so many thoughts, and conflicting ones at that, that sometimes, the other toys, these robots become confused. [Please don’t blame them for this, and please don’t blame yourself, either. It is the way it is, and they and you don’t need blame, but forgiveness, if anything.]

A conflicted mind sends out dual, confusing signals, and so those robotic toys will say and do annoying things. Forgive yourself and them, and that’s really like the Great ToyMaker’s robotic toys’ ‘reset button’ being pressed, and they’ll modify their words and behaviour, as you mind sends out one signal and not conflicting ones.

So, today the Great ToyMaker will ensure that certain robotic toys, looking extraordinarily lifelike, will cross your path and will show you something about yourself. They will outwardly reflect something of your inner you. Be prepared, as they’ll act just the way your thought waves ‘command’ them. Be forgiving.

And, with practice your aim is for a consistent signal to be sent and not conflicting thoughts. 

When you hear and see something untoward from the robotic toys you meet today, ask yourself what it is within you that is being reflected back and needs analysing and, perhaps, changing? And, don’t forget to ‘reset’ that encountered robotic toy by forgiving it! And, forgive yourself, too! Yes, think: robot, re-set, forgive!

[Based on an exercise by Hugh Prather in his book, A Book Of Games: A Course In Spiritual Play].

As a deep-thinker, creative person, Celt and/or Christian and/or Druid, who is concerned about a number of issues, I’d suggest trying this for today, at least. I’ll join you, in doing so, too! And, it may be best not to let on that you’re playing some kind of spiritual game to those encountered robotic toys, or even that you view them as robots! Let me know, please, what happens. If interested in this type of  spiritual game, there’s another article, based on another of Prather’s exercises here.

‘He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.’ Lao Tzu

The Telling Place: The Story Of The Monk And The Moon.

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A thought: Black Friday , that day of ‘commercial rampage’, the day after Thanksgiving Day, is fast approaching. Even here in the UK, where Thansgiving isn’t celebrated – sorry, America – that ‘sales day’ will be screened on the tv news as some people will go wild, and wrestle tvs and other items from the hands of other shoppers, and head towards the tills, and save a few £pounds.

Values?

Here’s a story:

An aged monk, a devout man of faith, lived a very simple kind of life, all by himself, in a very small hut at the foot of a mountain. Each day he would perform a ritual, give what little food he had to the poor, and return home at night to sleep.

One evening in wintertime, a thief came to the hut, broke in, only to discover there was absolutely nothing of value to steal.

The old monk returned home, and caught the thief still in his hut. ‘You must have come a long way to visit me, my friend’, he told the thief, ‘and you should not return empty-handed.’ The old monk looked around, and said, ‘Please take my clothes as a gift.’

The thief was amazed and didn’t know quite what to say. He took the clothes and ran off into the night.

Now the monk sat naked, watching the moon. ‘Poor fellow,’ he said to himself, ‘I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon’. 

Priorities? Values clarification?

C S Lewis summed this up, when he wrote: “If we consider the unblushing promises of reward … it would seem that…our desires [are] not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about…when infinite joy is offered us, [and, we are] like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.’

Too easily pleased? What do you think?

An Encounter With Nwyfre In London?

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I’m still in London.

There is a forest not far from where I live in north Wales, old and dense; ancient. I love it. And there, after a long, winding trek through the thick forest is a small clearing stands ‘Y goeden mellt’, the Lightning Tree. (See here).

But, I’m still in town, still in the city, and won’t be back in Capel Curig for at least another few days. And yet….deep in my spirit there’s a restlessness. There are several places where I’ve experienced nwyfre (pronounced ‘noo-iv ruh’) , and one of those it when in the presence of that Lightning Tree.

Nwyfre, traditionally and literally has to do with the wind and the sky. If you can imagine fast flowing, light clouds, low in the sky, say, or the wind ‘howling’ of the tops of trees, then that’s evidence of nwyfre. But, it’s more that just an atmospheric phenomenon – to those with deep awareness, insight, enlightenment, to those who are poets and those who might have a ‘romantic’ inclination, it’s more.

‘Time and attention are the most precious gifts we can give.’ Rob Liano

Nwyfre, at its deepest and most profound, and I would say its most real level, is: Spirit, and the connectedness of everything because of Spirit, and the flow of energy (love etc) between them. 

And so, feeling a fair amount of ennui last evening, I went for a walk along the banks of the River Thames in the heart of London. It was late and the air was now cold, very cold, and the wind was howling over the rooftops of nearby high-rise buildings, making a wailing sound like some kind of invisible bansidhe (pronounced ‘ban-shee’). Oh, the wind moaned a deep, mournful, relentless groan.

I felt small in comparison to the power of the wind that raced across city rooftops and shook the trees. I felt separated, as something of a different order altogether to that barometric pressure that moved noisily, and yet invisibly, nearby. And yet, connected. That’s nwyfre!

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with… the Spirit.’ The Book  (part)

Gazing at the river, only dimly lit by street-lighting, I breathed in – air. Nwyfre! The same wind that blew high above me, that howled across the rooftops, that had come from unknown parts in its journey to who knows where, was now in my lungs and coursing through my veins. I ‘discovered’ that I am no longer separate because of nwyfre! That which was outside, literally, is inside of me. We are encompassed by it. Cocooned. Connected.

‘The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.’ Carl Sagan

Walking now, to keep warm – it seemed colder than ever, and fog was moving in – I ‘discovered’ also that I no longer felt that small. Nwyfre! Not separated, not small, but knew that we are all connected. Connected and powerful. I experienced that at Y goeden mellt’, the Lightning Tree in Wales on many occasions when surrounded by a forest, and in solitude; and now in the heart of London – surrounded by eight million soul – I experienced it once more.

I ‘discovered’ a third fact. And this one that affects you, wherever you are. You too, can experienced that connectedness of nwyfre. In thinking of spiritual experiences many think of out-of-the-way and difficult places to visit, but it doesn’t have to be only that way. Where you are, right now, is as special, as sacred, and as holy as Y goeden mellt, and so is every place, too.

‘We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibres connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibres, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.’ Herman Melville

In the heart of London I experienced the connectedness of nwyfre, and wherever you are, you can too. Ofcourse, if our minds are too busy, we’ll miss the invitation of nwyfre. It seems we have a choice.

‘When you make a choice, you change the future.’ Deepak Chopra

It was now bitterly cold, and as I headed home – about a four minute walk from where I was at that point, I looked at  the lights in those high-rise apartments, the glow of tv screens ‘playing’ on curtains and the apartments’ ceilings, and the general busyness of the metropolis, and felt saddened that unwittingly some had made a choice, and had missed the opportunity of encountering nwyfre. And, the really sad thing is that they never even knew that they had already made a choice.

‘When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.’ William James

 

Ephemera: The Celtic/Druid Month Of The Elder Tree [25 November – 22 December]

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The year is progressing and we’re about to leave the Celtic and Druidic month of the Reed, and enter the month of the Elder on 25 November (although, the ancients and the oldest religions would celebrate the new day the evening before  ie the evening of 24 November). And so, a new month draws nearer.

English name: Elder Tree
Welsh name: Ysgawen (pronounced ‘us-gaw-wen’)
Latin name: Sambucus Nigra
Month: 25 November– 22 December

This month of the Elder is the thirteenth month, and therefore the last month of the traditional Celtic calendar. It’s a time of endings and beginnings, a tree and therefore a month, of contrasts.

‘If winter comes, can spring be far behind?’ Percy Bysshe Shelley

Etymology: There is a view, and a plausible one at that, that the word Elder comes from the Anglo-saxon word ‘aeld’, meaning fire, because the hollow stems of the tree were used as bellows to blow air into the centre of a fire, in ancient times.

sambucus_nigra_004Dendrology: A mature Elder tree grow to a height of around 15m, and can live for about 60 years. The tree is identified by its short trunk (bole), and grey-brown, corky, furrowed bark. it has relatively few branches.

Its leaves are pinnate, resembling feathers, and probably don’t smell too good. Individual trees flowers are creamy in colour, highly scented, and have five petals. After pollination by insects, each flower develops into a small, dark purple and a somewhat sour berry.

Tradition: The Elder has long been associated with symbolising life and death (and re-birth), judgement and protection. Elder leaves have even been found carved onto Celtic flints that were used in funeral sessions. And, Druids would (and still do) pronounce judgement(s) under this wonderful tree.

Traditionally, the Elder has been thought to attract the fae. Elder branches were hung over horse stables to keep evil away, and its leaves are thought to be good as an insect-repellent. And, any ancient house-builder would have told you that it’s best to build your house near an Elder tree as they are said to afford some protection against lightning strikes (but, maybe not too close to any tree, now, just in case).

It is also associated with creativity, regeneration, and transformation.

The Elder tree, then, is a versatile and most powerful tree, and maybe it’s from this that prompted J K Rowling to weave the Elder wand into her fictional and most entertaining Harry Potter stories.

For Harry Potter fans, of the Elder wand, ‘It is said to be the most powerful wand that has ever existed, able to perform feats of magic that would normally be considered impossible, such as mending another wand damaged beyond normal magical repair…’

hearth-1Promptings: The Elder month is the month when it grows darker and colder than ever before, and energy is depleted; it’s therefore a good time to finish old projects and ‘tie up lose ends’ as we move towards the winter solstice (23 December).

But, it is a month of contrasts, and so as new energy is ushered in, new life begins, so there’s an encouragement to stat new projects, or at least plan them.

As you huddle around that hearth of home, or maybe light a symbolic candle and gaze into its flame, it’s a time to look back, yes, but it’s also a time to look forward with anticipation and hope.

‘Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.’ Edith Sitwell

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A Thought: ‘Mind The Gap’. A Brief Visit To Dystopia

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This isn’t a book review, although initially it may read like one.

A few months ago I finished reading my first Neil Gaiman book, called ‘Neverwhere’. I’d heartily recommend the book if you like fantasy fiction; and if you like London, you’ll definitely like this book. I won’t spoil it (too much) if you’re tempted to read it, but it’s about a man who helps a women, and the consequence of that is that he ‘falls through the cracks’ metaphorically (almost metaphorically, maybe literally in this story) and ends up in an underground London, a dystopian version of the one above. And, in that macabre place, his adventure starts.

‘Metaphors failed him, then. He had gone beyond the world of metaphor and simile into the place of things that are, and it was changing him.’ Neil Gaiman

This really isn’t  book review, and I only mention the book, now, because I think that somewhere over the last few weeks and months, it feels as though I’ve entered some kind of parallel world, one with some continuity to the one I left, but a dystopian version of it, same-but-different. Everything seems a bit more extreme, some people more intolerant, politicians telling more terminological inexactitudes than before, and expectations seem lower.

‘Mind the gap!’ Neil Gaiman

Perhaps, I’ve fallen through the gaps in the pavement? And, if you’re reading this and are experiencing the same, then maybe the same thing has happened to you? Or, has it always been this way for us, for Celtic Christians, Druids, Pagans, those who are aware of the ‘bigger picture’ and who encounter That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves?

So, what to do? My favorite phrase is, ‘…business as usual’, and perhaps until we all re-trace our steps, we just carry on. We do the big things, and especially do the small things to spread light and life, which might only be holding the door open for someone at one particular time.

‘You’ve a good heart,’ she told him. ‘Sometimes that’s enough to see you safe wherever you go.’ Neil Gaiman

Or, it might be a myriad of other good things to do,  even though we might be at odds with the values of the society we now find ourselves in, and even though there will be overt (and covert) pressure to conform.

It’s written in one sacred text: ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…’

Ofcourse, you might feel very content and happy with the ways things are: that either means you are a natural inhabitant of this dystopian world (and so, it probably, won’t seem dystopian to you) or you’ve assimilated some or all of its ways.

However, if you feel a certain uneasiness with things, experience ennui deep in your soul, or look around and see some in authority acting ‘as soppy as a box load of frogs’, then we’re in good company, and it can only mean one thing….

‘…If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.’ C S Lewis

Meanwhile, if you work out a way to get back, please let me know? Have a great and blessed weekend, you and yours. Tadhg