Fios Or Sleepless In Capel Curig: Tadhg’s Journal

20170123-fios-tadhgs-journalThe sun rose at 8.11am this morning in Capel Curig in rugged north Wales. Exactly, ninety minutes before that, I was heading south in my garden at my cottage, Tŷ Gwyn. And, it was oh-so cold.

‘Walking is also an ambulation of mind.’ Gretel Ehrlich

To put it into context, apparently, the UK is experiencing minus (Celsius) temperatures due to a ‘polar’ vortex moving across it. According to the Government’s Meteorological Office it wall last a couple of days. According to one newspaper, however, their headline read: UK Weather Alert: Britain to be smashed by Siberian Mega Freeze. To Last Until March.

Hyperbole? I hope so!

To be honest, this morning was ‘fresh’, it was about -2 Celsius, and yes, it was (lovely and) cold. Nose-stingingly cold. And, I as trudged to the end of the garden, I noticed there was rime on the trees; the air was fresher-than-fresh, the sun hasn’t risen, and all around me was an awesome, enveloping freezing fog that blotted out everything (almost). I couldn’t really see anything. Where was I? I wasn’t sure!

Lost in space? Sort of!

‘Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.’ Erol Ozan

And I revelled in that seemingly not-knowingness. Ofcourse, I knew where I was really, that is in my back-garden, but for a few seconds of not seeing anything to confirm exactly where I was,  a great feeling of ‘lostness’ came over me, and it got me thinking.

Perception? Different!

For a few seconds the ‘guide wheels’ of my eyes were off, and I couldn’t see anything to locate myself precisely in the garden. I could have been anywhere. Maybe there was a vague outline of a tree to one side – but it looked ‘flat’ against the misty, seemingly sky-painted, white backdrop, and it could have been a small tree some twenty feet away or a huge tree about a hundred feet a away. I surmised the later, but I really had no way of knowing.

How sure are we?

That was the question I asked myself when, some thirty minutes later I was back in an oh-so-warm cottage. How sure are we? We live in an age of exaggeration – about the weather and other things, and a time of fake news. It’s not always the ones that shout loudest and proclaim that they now, not always the ones who alone say that they are right, who are infact right. They could be wrong? I like it when someone says, ‘I’m not quite sure’. For then there’s evidence of a questing spirit and potential progress can be made.

Gaelic has two wonderful words that come in useful here – regarding knowledge, fake news or that ‘in my garden locational lostness’.

Eolas in Irish Gaelic (but, call me biased, as I think the welsh word gwybodaeth sounds better, but then I’ve a Welsh heritage) means knowledge, but related to bland information. I had some ‘information’ about my garden and where I was located (roughly), though my perception was limited by the fog. Eolas, may relate to the bland news in a newspaper, that is, just reading it as it is presented to us, as fact. Superficial knowledge, without enquiry. It takes us so far.

‘People care much more for how things look than how things are.’ Donna Lynn Hope

Fios in Irish Gaelic (gwybod in Welsh) has an altogether deeper, questioning meaning. It means ‘to know’, to really know. Although I was in may garden, I knew in my heart where I was – even if I couldn’t see properly. Fios takes us further. This kind of knowing is akin to the knowledge between husband and wife. It’s deeper! More ‘intimate’. I might know a married couple, but that couple know each other! 

And, so as I sat there, at the kitchen table with a hot drink to hand and thawing out, realising that we’re all presented with eolas, superficial knowledge; the real imperative – that only some do, sadly – is to ‘look beyond’, not just using our eyes, and to ‘see’ what is really there, really happening in our daily life and environment around us, really happening in the news and world around us, really happening in our spiritual walk, and to go deeper.

‘The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.’ W B Yeats

Some might say eolas is good, fios is better. Be inquisitive. Don’t accept surface answers. Explore. Ask. Seek. Go deeper.

Ephemera: The Celtic Month Of The Rowan Tree [21 January – 17 February]

20170120-rowan-tree-month-ephemera-222Today is the last day of the Birch tree month, and tomorrow, Saturday, 21 January 2017  is the first day of the Celtic month of the Rowan tree.

So, here’s some information about the tree, the month, folklore, and some encouragement to do something to celebrate the new month, the month of the Rowan tree.

Name: The name ‘Rowan’ tree is recorded from 1804, and before that it was known as the ‘rountree’, though going further back it is derived from the old Germanic verb ‘raud-inan’, meaning ‘to redden’, in reference to the trees wonderfully red berries.In Old English the tree was known as the cwic-beám, and some, maybe a very few, still refer to the tree as the quicken, or the quicken-tree.

Oh! Rowan Tree Oh! Rowan Tree!
Thou’lt aye be dear to me,
Entwined thou art wi mony ties,
O’ hame and infancy.
Thy leaves were aye the first o’ spring,
Thy flow’rs the simmer’s pride;
There was nae sic a bonny tree
In a’ the countryside.Oh! Rowan Tree.

Part of a traditional Scottish poem/song, by Carolina Oliphant. She was descended from Clan Oliphant, an old family which had settled in Perthshire in the 12th century.

rowan-tree-wiki-common-licence-800px-rowan_tree_20081002bAbout the tree: Rowan trees occur widely throughout Europe, in western Asia in Russia and the Caucasus region, in north Africa in the mountains of Morocco, and in north America (where they may be called the Mountain Ash).

They are fast-growing trees, a short-lived pioneer tree in the rose family, Rosaceae. They reach a maximum height of about 10-15 metres. The flowers blossom after the leaves have appeared, usually around May or early June. They’re  creamy-white in colour. Individual flowers have a diameter of about 1 cm, and they grow in dense clusters or corymbs, each containing up to 250 flowers, and measuring 8-15 cm. across. The strong, sweet scent attracts pollinating insects, including many species of flies, bees and beetles.

The Rowan tree is a tough tree. It is a strong wood that has been used to make spinning wheels, spindles and walking sticks over the years.

rowan-druidess-alexandre_cabanel_004Celts & Druid views: Held by many of the ancients, Celts and Druids to be sacred, the Rowan tree was often planted in or near places of worship, and so you may find them (still) growing close to stone circles, groves, or where ley lines cross, or near houses.

Imbolc, the festival associated with the Goddess Brigid and known by some as Candlemas falls within the Rowan Tree month (in about ten days time), and is another time for celebration.

Rowan was the prescribed wood on which runes were, and still are, inscribed to make rune staves.

Folklore: The Rowan tree is said to be one of the most protective of all trees, and is first and foremost a protection against negative influences. The Rowan has protected homes for centuries, and many today are delighted to see a Rowan tree (or several) growing nearby houses.

According to folklore, the dragon is the Rowan tree guardian. It appears frequently in Celtic myth often depicted as a snake-like creature or a worm. When the dragon swallows its own tale it symbolizes immortality, which is another attribute of the Rowan tree feature.

The Rowan is yet another tree sacred to Brigid of the Tuatha Dé Danann, patron of crafts and spinning.

rowan-tree-wiki-common-licence-rowanberries_in_late_august_2004_in_helsinkiGreek mythology tells us  how Hebe, the goddess of youth, dispensed rejuvenating ambrosia to the gods from her magical chalice. When, through carelessness, she lost this cup, the gods sent an eagle to recover it. The feathers and drops of blood which the eagle shed in the  fight with the demons, who had the cup, fell to earth, where each of them turned into a Rowan tree. Hence the Rowan trees leaves took on the shape from the eagle’s feathers, and the appearance of its berries from the droplets of blood.

In Norse mythology it is regarded as the tree from which the first woman was made, (the first man being made from the Ash tree). It was also said to have saved the life of Thor by bending over a fast-flowing river in the Underworld which was sweeping him away, and helped him back to the shore.

Celebration: The way in which some celebrate, in ritual, the beginning of each Celtic month is many and varied. Whichever way you celebrate, I would encourage you (particularly if you’ve never set out to celebrate the new months) to, at least:

  • make yourself a drink to sip and enjoy (wine, coffee, hot chocolate, water etc) to get into the mood of peace and calm, and to make this a good, comfortable and blessed time, and
  • with your eyes closed, let your thoughts quieten, and meditate deeply on giving thanks for the month that has ended (and maybe list, mentally, some of the good things), and to think ahead to the new month (and maybe, think (but, don’t worry) about some of the challenges ahead and where energy will be needed – it’s okay to ‘drift’ in and out of meditation, here, and
  • because the Rowan tree is the tree for protection and positive energy, do something relevant, maybe lighting a candle, seeing its energy displayed as light, and imagine/prayer/send protective energy to where it is needed (in your life, in the life of your family or friends, or anywhere in the world or cosmos, and
  • when you come to the end of this time, extinguish the candle, but take a few minutes to contemplate the new month in a positive way.

Happy Rowan tree month to you and yours, Tadhg.

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Journal: Three Mysterious Encounters In Clackitt’s Wood

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Have you ever had one of those ‘something is going to happen’ moments?’ It’s the kind of feeling of ozone or ‘electric’ in the air as a distant storm approaches, a good but also slightly unnerving feel of anticipation, an impending unknown.  I hope so, for then you can relate to how I felt last evening.

‘The greatest storms on our Earth break not in nature but in our minds!’ Mehmet Murat ildan

Last evening as I sat in the living room of my oh-so-cosy humble cottage – Tŷ Gwyn (meaning, the ‘white house) -in north Wales,  I had read two chapters of a most interesting book, and that was enough, and as their was nothing on tv, I sat there, a little listlessly.

A ‘call’ to get some exercise or at least leave the confines of the cottage beckoned from deep within. The more I sat there, the more this feeling grew to become an almost tangle ennui, a fidget,  an unmistakable  itch that just wouldn’t go away until I moved.

Deep within a voice spoke, and as if it were a memory, I was seemingly going to expect three words of wisdom, or three encounters, or three somethings. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and I wasn’t even sure where that thought had originated.

And so I moved.

Hopeful Man…
Sometimes you just have to face what is coming. Sometimes we have a choice; sometimes we don’t.

Tonight, I had a choice, but deep within my soul there was a good-unease, a ‘call’ that just would not go away, and so, as comfortable as I was, I wanted to put myself in the path of what was coming.

‘Uncertainty and expectation are the joys of life. Security is an insipid thing.’ William Congreve

Moving to the back door located in a small boot room, off the kitchen, I  donned my outer gear, including my trusted wellington boots, and headed for the garden with a flashlight in hand. It was a cold, damp, and foggy out there, and the wind howled in the distance like a wailing bansidhe (pronounced ‘ban-shee’). It was about 10pm.

Walking down toward the bottom of the garden it grew darker, colder, more damp, and the fog grew thicker, freezing fog, causing visibility to drop from thirty feet to about ten feet. Just before the boundary of my garden the forest, wonderfully, encroaches, hiding a small rivulet. To me, this ‘watery companion’ is: Bach ac yn gyflym. <For more details from a previous article, see here>

Jumping over the rivulet, the forest become thicker, and technically I was now on the edge of Clackitt’s wood – my favourite local place an ancient and wild place, the haunt of yesteryear of Celts, Druids, Pagans and others, and latter-day ones, too; and a place full of mystery, full of ‘magick’.

I continued walking for many minutes, before spying the felled tree that always makes for a seat to ponder. I sat on it, and pondered. The fog was even thicker here, the temperature dropped, and my levels of expectancy rose. I had the feeling that I was supposed to just wait, and as I grew into that thought, so a calm and powerful peace came over me, a warm glow enveloping me, almost like being bathed in warm milk and honey. Tranquillity

Have you ever had that ‘remain-at-peace-whatever-happens’ feeling?

Wise Man…
I waited, and waited , and waited, and it grew darker, colder, more damp, and the quietness of  this ancient place was both comforting and unnerving. I waited, some more.

About an hour past when I heard footsteps in the distance coming my way. My heart rate quickened, until a dog appeared, and moments later its owner – a local farmer and friend appeared. here>

He is a ‘stout man’, ‘solid’ like a tree, but maybe carrying a few excess pounds (but, who isn’t?), semi-retired and with several sons who now do  much of the farm work for him. <For more details from a previous article, see here>

He let out a muted grunt, presumably of surprise, as I shone the light on him, and then on me to allay his fears. Recognising each other, he came closer, and then sat beside me. We didn’t talk for a while, and later, only sporadically as we took in the solitude of the place. He is a man of few words.

‘You’re wrapped up warm, Tadhg. So much so it looks as though you’re going to be here all night’, the farmer-friend said, as he got up to leave. ‘I could well be’, I replied. My farmer-friend called his dog to heel, turned to me and said, ‘Wise, Tadhg. Ne’er cast a clout ’till May be out’, and he left as we said our respective goodbyes, and I was once more alone.

It occurred to me that we often dismiss old adages and wise sayings, and yet the ancients, the Celts, Druids and others knew things, especially about the seasons, that we often belittle or are unware of. Do you feel there is room for you (and myself included) to grow into this knowledge.

Was this the first encounter? Study and take to heart the wise words of the ancients!

My farmer-friends words echoed in my mind. He was right: ne’er cast a clout ’till May be out’. Stayed wrapped up warm until the May blossom comes about. How often had I recited that, but never really though it through. In the solitude of Clackitt’s wood I thought long on hard on that saying. Wise words indeed.

My thoughts were interrupted, by the sound of fast-paced footsteps coming my way, accompanied with a rhythmic, deep and fast breathing sound as though someone or something was running fast, and the sound was getting louder, so it was coming my way. Once again my heart quickened. So unexpected was this sound – which seemed frantic and distinctly ‘odd’  and out-of-place, that I instinctively found my right hand had grasped a branch that was on the forest floor – it was  about three feet long, and a solid, and dense, about three inches thick, and heavy.

A minute later the running, noisy steps stopped. Whoever it was, whatever it was, was now at the edge of the small clearing – I was sitting in the middle of, say a twenty foot clearing – but the deep, heavy, laboured breathing sound continued. Whoever it was stepped forward, turned to face me, and a forehead-flashlight shone in my direction. I aimed my torch back.

Tarzan…
‘Ben?’, I said, rather hesitantly, but in a way as to not display any timidity. And, as this person stepped forward, I was relieved to see that it was indeed him – a good friend of mine was Ben. And here he was doing some kind of forest jogging.

‘Tadhg?, he replied, expressing some surprise, and using a couple of expletives peppered thought his sentence.

He, too, sat down beside me, on the felled tree, extended his hand for a handshake, and I responded in a similar fashion. One thing I should mention about Ben is that this young guy is super-fit, an immensely muscular man, a ‘gym-rat’, with great strength (witnessed by me as he works on a local farm), and he wrestles; and he could fell Superman, Batman, Tarzan and an assortment of superheroes, I do believe. Why, in his current running gear he even looked the part! <For more details from a previous article, see here>

And, to make me feel (even more) unfit, as I shook his hand, his hand was powerful, determined and huge compared to mine. If I had an out-of-control ego it would now be reeling from a bruising.

We talked, but not before he spied the branch that I was letting slip onto the forest floor, which he grabbed, perhaps knowing this was my impromptu ‘weapon’ when I didn’t know if he was a stranger or a forest wild beast.

Now I felt not just unfit but puny, as he put the middle of the branch against one of his brawny knees, as he sat, and grabbed either end of the branch with his hands, and pulled it towards him, with a huge amount of effort. With a deep, determined, prolonged grunt, a flexing of huge biceps, the branch broke into two, with a loud crack.

He laughed. I laughed for different reasons – remembering that after I had thrashed this guy at a game of chess, recently, he has invited me to ‘hit the mats’ and face him at his sport: wrestling!  Friedrich Nietzsche once said that, ‘That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.’ but I don’t think Nietzsche was thinking of wrestling a brute of a man, like the one that sat next to me.

We talked some more, and then we said our goodbyes as he continued his keep-fit jogging regime he had talked about, but not before another almost-debilitating handshake from him.

He left. I was again alone. And my thoughts raced. What was the lesson here. I knew the answer.

It occurred to me that we can become so spiritually-mind, and/or so busy doing all manner of ‘good’ things, that we can neglect physical fitness, and I had. I need a regular fitness regime. The second encounter? Keep-fit encouragement: balance!

Okay, I wasn’t going to get as fit as Ben, and wouldn’t want to, otherwise he might think I was doing it in anticipation of accepting his wrestling challenge. I consider myself a tough guy – fairly tough guy, tough-ish – but I’m not foolish.

But, it is easy to ignore our own, personal, physical fitness and aim to be ‘super spiritual’. But, I see that imbalance as an error, and  I now knew this encounter with ‘superman’ Ben was an encouragement to get fit and stay fit. But, does this apply to you? Do you have an appropriate and balanced fitness regime?

‘Second by second you lose the opportunity to become the person you want to be. Take charge of your life.’ Greg Plitt

My thoughts were then interrupted by a brilliant bright yellow-green light, visible some 200 feet away through dense forest.

Maybe…
The mysterious light had piqued my interest, and once again my heart rate quickened. I sat there watching it. It made no noise. It never seemed to move. After about fifteen minutes of sitting there, wondering what it could be and not drawing any logical conclusion, I got to my feet and slowly moved towards the direction of the light.

The air was colder than ever, the fog masked the exact location of the light until I got to within about fifty feet of it. At about forty feet from it – and the light source seemed about eight foot wide – it went out! No sound! No light. I stopped. After a few minutes I carried on walking, gauging my steps so that I’d have a rough idea of walking some forty feet. After forty feet, I stopped. I must have been right on top of the light source, and for the next few minutes looked around for evidence of what had caused the bright light – but I could see nothing untoward. A mystery.

As I stood there, and wondered: Maybe, it  had been pure imagination, a product of a waking dream or something else. Maybe it had been a ‘will o the wisp’, gas emissions that hover over lakes in summer when the evenings and nights are warm and are ignited into a glow. But, there was no lake here, and it was cold, and there was  no smell of methane. Maybe it was….? I had no idea, and yet even as that mystery ambled around my mind, I experienced a deep calm in that place. Extraordinary peace.

It occurred to me that sometimes we won’t know, and that life is going to be a mystery, and that we should enjoy that not-knowingness. A close encounter of the third kind? Revel in mystery!

I walked back to Tŷ Gwyn  wondering what the light in Clackitt’s wood could have been. Any ideas?

Having removed my outer gear when I got home, I slumped onto the sofa, and recounted the three encounters and what they meant. I also considered the fact that had I been to lazy, too busy, or too spiritually-minded that I might never had left the cottage and ventured forth on a foul evening into Clackitt’s wood – that ancient and wild place, full of mystery, full of ‘magick’

What might we be missing in life? If you had three encounters today or tomorrow (and you might), what three things would they ‘say’ to you? What do you think?

Poem: Gökotta [Revisited]

20170118-gokotta-poetry

Surrounded by the majesty, that is unspoiled nature.
Above, is draped a most beautiful azure canopy, that lightens by the moment.

And, here I sit in the glade of Elveden,
gazing wistfully at the lake,
looking into the mid-distance. Pondering. Waiting. Musing.
Morpheus surely reigns?

Morning mist hovers above the lake,
not yet scorched by the sun
which slumbers below the horizon,
and which marches ever closer.
Air of Imminence.

In the fog, my imagination runs amok.
Birdsong from afar masks, almost, what seems to be
the sound of children playing, children laughing.
Is it the drowsiness of solitude, of the moment?
Or is it elementals all around, unseen, chattering to each other
and greeting the birth of this new day?
Pleasant unknowing.

The grass bends, flowers sway gently.
and yet the mist remains.
Could this be an, as yet, unregistered breeze
or the fae jumping from to and fro, from flower to flower?
The Talmud declares that each blade of grass has its own angel
whose sole purpose is to whisper, ‘Grow, grow.’
Sancta simplicitas.

And, then the day begins.
The son of Hyperion rises on the horizon
in all his brilliance, and
pierces the mist,
and heralds the start of a new day.
The Sun appears.
I find myself standing in awe, in praise of the Sun of righteousness.
Orans.

Could it only have been idle thoughts,
my imagination?
Could it have been angel-song?
Or, could it have been that in the clearing of Elveden,
that ancient den of elves,
that elementals had truly been at play?

Alone with the Alone!

— oOo —

[Early morning reflections, Capel Curig, Wales]

Note: Gökotta is a Swedish word, and the closest English meaning is: to wake up early in the morning to go outside to hear the first birds sing.

Celtic Thought: Overcoming Nature Deficit Disorder & You

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If you imagined the life of the ancients, ancient Celts and Druids, those from yesteryear, you would probably be imagining an idyllic rural village, sparsely populated, and with plenty of open-space, greenery and fresh air.

Corraidhín’s father was a fletcher, an arrow-maker and spear maker to his (Celtic) tribe, the Durotriges, and so it was apt that his only son should be called Corraidhín, ‘little spear’. Many years past and Corraidhín’s father wanted to mark the time that his boy would became a man.

On his sixteenth birthday, at dusk Corraidhín’s father led him into the thickest part of the wild, huge forest, and there blindfolded his son and got him to sit on a tree stump. The instruction to Corraidhín was not to take off the blindfold, nor move off the stump until the sun came up, when his father said he would return. If he survived the night, then he would be welcomed back as a man.

Corraidhín did as he was told, and could hear the noise of his father’s footsteps retreat into the distance. Soon he noticed the air temperature drop. The moisture from the moss on the tree stump had now soaked  into his undergarments. It was cold, damp, smelly. Animal noises seemed louder and closer, and they sounded like big animals, too. This worried him. Corraidhín also noticed a myriad of fragrances that filled the air – some fragrances were sweet and delightful, some (and it worried him) were the results of nearby animals defecating. Not too good, he thought. He was even more stressed, worried.

Corraidhín’s sleep was intermittent and light, interrupted by sounds of the forest – animal noises, animals scurrying nearby, hoots, growls, barking.

Cold and damp, sometime later Corraidhín sensed sunlight on his face, and as instructed he could now remove the blindfold. He had survived a night in the forest, and learned something more about nature, about really experiencing it.  With the blindfold off, Corraidhín blinked to focus his eyes – there were the plants that were so pungent, birds that had squawked all through the night and animals that had disturbed his sleep…and there about thirty feet away was his father slumped up against a tree, with a blanket around him, keeping an eye on his son.

And, today? If you imagine life today in the twenty-firstLee century, with the majority of people living in urban areas and living hectic lives, you would probably think of high-rise apartments, no gardens, and less than fresh air. Even those who are fortunate to live in rural areas may find themselves racing around and not interacting with the local environment, such is life today for many.

Lee and Fiona woke up, as the alarm clock bleeped loudly, intrusively. It was 6.30am. Hurriedly, the vied for the toilet, then the bathroom,  hastily dressed themselves, and headed downstairs to the kitchen. Through the window they could see the glow of the sun which was still ten minutes away from rising. They gobbled down breakfast consisting of porridge and coffee, and each consumed a slice of toast as they rushed down the garden path on their way to work, oblivious to the built-up environment around them.

It was a fifteen minute walk to the train station, and they knew that they’d probably arrive with a couple of minutes to spare before the 7.45am train arrived. They were stressed. Today was going to be a busy day for both of them. Annoyingly, the train was fifteen minutes late. They were even more stressed. Fiona ‘phoned ahead to reschedule an appointment or two. The train seemed to crawl along. Even more stress for both of them.

Finally the train arrived. Now to wait for the bus. The first bus was full, and so they had to wait. Stress upon stress. They could do nothing but to wait for the next bus, and hope. People in the queue jostled them, and complained.

With a little time on their hands, Lee and Fiona could smell the fumes from passing cars, the noise of a police siren several blocks away, and the smell and mechanical noise of a refuse vehicle as it emptied nearby bins.

The bus arrived, and they got on – it was soon full, and they endured the thirty minute journey squashed together like sardines. Eventually, they arrived at their respective. offices. Offices that had air conditioning – no smell at all, really, except where the smell of antiseptic filled the air (used by cleaning staff on desks etc an hour before staff arrived). There were no plants, no windows, just fluorescent lights, and the clatter of computer keyboards being struck incessantly. Work commenced in  their small, work station-booths, grey, ‘clinical’, clean and ergonomically designed for maximum output.

This ‘distancing’ between modern people and nature – something that the ancients, ancient Celtic, Druids and others wouldn’t have experienced – this ‘challenge’ is called nature deficit disorder.

Nature deficit disorder, whilst it’s not a medical term (and what follows is not medical, but informational), is said to be real, and affects many people today. Could it be affecting you?

Nature deficit disorder is a phrase first used by Richard Louv in 2005, in his book, ‘Last Child in the Woods’, which centres on the fact that people today, and especially children, are spending less time outdoors due to fear etc or because of nature knowledge deficit (another challenge in its own right) resulting in a wide range of challenges such as behavioural problems.

Many with natural deficit disorder:

  • have undue stress,
  • find it difficult to relax adequately
  • are not getting enough rest,
  • feel uneasy in wide open spaces,
  • have a fear of nature and/or strangers, unnecessarily,
  • have sleepless nights etc.

Nature deficit disorder is a real challenge for many people, especially but not only those in urban areas. Ofcourse, balance is needed: we live in a technological age and benefit immensely, and may not be able to avoid technology due to our work, and indeed may not want to avoid it completely. But, a balance between the grey of technology and the green of nature is needed, and it seems for many people it is the latter that we’re missing.

‘We inter-breath with the rain forests, we drink from the oceans.  They are part of our own body.’  Thich Nhat Hanh

But there are ways to deal with nature deficit disorder, and these are:

  • taking time to go for walks in a forest, or to spend come time (a ‘green time’, say, on a Saturday is a good habit, or a lunch hour, sometimes) in a city park if you’re in a rural area,
  • a week camping (or glamping), or staying at a bead and breakfast place in a rural area,
  • play outside (maybe, tennis in the park etc?)
  • go for river walks
  • contemplate/meditate in a quiet areas
  • visit a city farm or a botanical garden
  • do something different that gets more air in your lungs, your eyes seeing more green, and coming closer to the plant and animal kingdom.

Ofcourse, none of this is ‘rocket science’, but it’s worth considering for two reasons. Firstly, it’s easy to slip into being so busy that we encounter nature deficit disorder even without knowing it, until we feel that unnamed malaise, that ennui, that irritability taking hold. And, secondly,  one we’re aware of it, we can take steps: be intentional, diarise times to spend in nature areas mentioned above, and also maybe do some of the things mentioned below.

‘One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.’  William Shakespeare

In addition, and maybe secondary efforts to overcome nature deficit disorder, you might also like to: read books on nature and those that have trekked in some wonderfully picturesque areas of the world, to create a small potted garden on a balcony, buy a few green plants to put around the house (especially in areas where you tend to want to relax or spend most time), or have a special ‘nature table’ (with a few plants on it, stones or pebbles or sea shells, mementos from holidays etc), perhaps even meditate on a forest landscape (real or imagined).

These are secondary, but have the advantage that they can be put in place very easily, may work for you if you find it difficult to leave the house (whether  that’s because of time constraints, working hours or physical immobility etc), and can only be a positive addition to those in the primary list, above. They cannot hinder and may, too, be beneficial.

‘Your deepest roots are in nature.  No matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of life you lead, you remain irrevocably linked with the rest of creation.’  Charles Cook

So, why not reclaim your ‘right’ to nature, wherever you are, right now and reap the physical benefits. And, then there are spiritual benefits, too, as in nature we may (re-)discover the One, the Source that holds everything together.

 

Celtic Thought: The Art of Travelling Light In The Twenty-First Century

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If you’re anything like me, you generally find that you accumulate things fast, and say, the house or apartment can easily fill up with clutter of all shapes and sizes. Then a periodic-spring clean is needed.

And then, generally, before disposing of things I weigh up their value – not necessarily in monetary terms, but in emotional or spiritual values, what memories are attached to an item, what it means to me etc.

‘Something that is yours forever is never precious.’ Chaim Potok,

We can do this in the physical realm as we look around at physical clutter and surprise ourselves at what we have amassed; we can also do this in the spiritual realm, and see what is weighing us down or holding us back (and on occasions we’ll find that an item straddles both realms, as if there is a real division between them). But, for the sake of this article, I’ve (artificially) used that kind of dichotomy, and talk, separately about the physical and spiritual realm.

Physicality: Eckhart Tolle tells a great story of a women who had cancer and only had a few months to live. On top of all that, she had lost a most expensive diamond ring. I say lost, but she was adamant that her housekeeper had stolen it. It consumed her waking thoughts and ate into the little time she had left.

Eckhart Tolle asked her four simple questions, and these were:

Do you realise that you will soon, perhaps very soon, have to let go of it?

How much time do you need before yo will be willing to let go of it?

Will you become less when you let go of it?

Has ‘who you are’ been diminished by this loss?

As time passed and the woman’s conditioned worsened, she thought about Tolle’s four questions, and thought less about the suspected theft by the housekeeper, and eventually, graciously  ‘released’ that item from her mind. She immediately experienced more joy, as she realised that she wasn’t, infact, defined by her possessions!clutter-360058_960_720

But, what about us? What physical possessions are cluttering up our space, and holding us back? My encouragement to you and myself is to make a list, look at our environment, to de-clutter ourselves of unnecessary items, and travel light on our sojourn, our pilgrimage as we pass through here. What could you live without?

‘Out of clutter, find simplicity.’ Albert Einstein

Spirituality: But, Tolle’s pertinent and wise  questions can also be applied by us to matters of the spirit.

Over the years we may have picked up spiritual ways of working, liturgy, ritual, theology, that were good at the time, but now don’t serve us in a positive way, and may, indeed, be holding us back.

There’s some interesting stories about Jesus after his resurrection that have a common thread running through them, as he visits a group of his friends. One of them, Thomas, doubts and is invited to feel Jesus’s wounds. On another occasion Mary Magdalene is told not to touch. And, yet on another occasion Jesus cooks breakfast for his friends, and presumably touches them in serving up a fish meal. So, what is going on? Touch, do not touch, touch! Are these contradictions as some have suggested?

I love conundrums like this, because it means we have to delve deep and put aside our preconceived ideas, that baggage we unnecessarily carry around, if we want to unearth the truth.

And so, deep spirituality follows, that I believe applies to us all.

‘Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig.’ Marcus Aurelius

Do not…: Quick Latin lesson follows, but please don’t be discouraged. The Latin translation of the words of The Master spok to Mary  are ‘noli me tangere’ and are commonly translated as ‘do not touch’. Is this a contradiction (as elsewhere some are invited to touch)? No. No contradiction. But, at present, it’s still a conundrum. I do so love conundrums – they are really learning opportunities, if we pursue them and persist to the end.

Perhaps a better translation of ‘noli me tangere’ is not ‘do not touch’, but ‘do not cling!’. Then, it begins to make sense: touch, do not cling, touch! Logical! Reasonable! Consistent!

Touching is allowed, but clinging isn’t (helpful). Conundrum solved!

We are invited to touch – but do not cling. Whether we’re thinking of physical clutter or spiritual clutter, touching and analysing, reviewing etc is allowed (and is commended as we weigh up its value), but clinging isn’t.

Somethings (and not all) have to go! Spiritually-speaking, what could you live without?wind matterhorn-968_960_720.jpg

Clinging onto something, as though it is ours and always will be, unchangingly, is unhelpful and inaccurate, and cause heartache.

Note to self and to you: Do not cling. Do not be held back!

And these are wise words to sojourners or pilgrims, such as us, as we pass through here, because we are commended to travel light, and not be weighed down, ‘cumbered with a load of care’, as it is written somewhere.

Travel light, my dear friend, travel light! Do not cling.

 

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Poem: Afon Nant Peris [Re-Visited]

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In this rugged, wild, grey-green place, the stream flows.
Downstream represents the past, of days gone by, the old, the familiar and known.
It is an empty plate of cakes, just crumbs, now gone; it is yesterday’s meal.
The flowing water is time.

I reckon you look upstream! Most do.

Upstream is unfamiliar. It is tomorrow charging towards us and becoming ‘now’.
It isn’t redshift; it is blueshift!
It is the future, it is potential, opportunity, a ribbon of possibility reaching toward us.
It is the unknown. A challenge. A risk.

Time could be the harbinger of good or of bad,
however we define those words.
And yet Rumi’s wisdom of inviting in all those who knock at the door of one’s life echo loud.
For in playing host to all, we may accept a benevolent ‘guide’ from beyond,
and grow in stature.

The flowing water is time.

As I stand motionless and observe, the water flows and yet so do I.
A body that ages,
a mind that thinks,
a heart that beats involuntarily,
a planet that spins. And one that orbits.
A solar system that moves.
Tempus fugit.
Everything is in a state of flux.

And so I, like you, look upstream.
Could this be Afon Nant Peris, or even Pishon?
But, I crane my neck and look upstream,
for it is from there that the Spirit calls out to us by name.
The Spirit whispers in the desolation, the forest, even in the city.
The Spirit’s echo can be heard in this place. A holy place. A ‘thin place’.
And, God’s activity is recorded in the past, felt in the present, and reverberates to us from the future.

It is there that The Friend dwells,
and which, for us, is that other country we heard of so long ago,
and to which we journey on.

Yes, the flowing water is time

Celtic Thought: Under-Thinking & The Lesson Of The Three Gates.

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To Boldly Go…: When I was a wee lad, I marvelled at those early (and later) Star Trek episodes on tv. You know, especially, parts where the USS Enterprise’s Captain would ‘speak into the air’ and preface his (or her) question with the word, ‘Computer….’.

Any question, it seems, could be asked, and back came an immediate answer. Fantastic.

I wondered about a world where that fictional computer would be a fact, and hoped I could take advantage of such wonders. And guess what? It’s arrived. We live in such a time as that. Type on the computer keyboard, access Google, or speak to Siri or Alexa, and back comes the information. Knowledge. And yet….?

A few days ago I talked about perception, and how we can ‘over-think’ and miss the beauty of nature, dwell on anything but the present, and miss that inner, small, still voice, the Bat Kol: see <here>.

So, today I’d like to balance that previous statement and issue a challenge, about the perils of under-thinking. See what you think?

‘We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.’ Buddha

Under-Thinking: We have so much knowledge at our fingertips that, sadly, we cannews-1-1746491__340 become deluged in a flood of information and not know what to do. .

And, to make matters worse, the internet and especially Facebook give instantaneous answers which may not always contain true facts, but falsehoods. And, it get’s worse with the advent of purposeful ‘fake news’, and the quickness at which such falsity to be spread by cutting and pasting on the internet.

Such erroneous information can ‘distance’ us from the truth, from the Divine because of ‘under-thinking’ and because of our swallowing wholesale such falsity

‘Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…’. Romans 1:22, The Book.

We have so much information available to us. And yet….?

It is reckoned that humanity has discovered as much information in the last 20 years than the previous 20,000 years. We have an immense amount of information, but many would say there has not been a proportionate advance in society, spiritually.

‘Any fool can know. The point is to understand. Albert Einstein

Examples: Here’s some examples of ‘suspect’ knowledge  gleaned from the internet about knowledge, courtesy of Google and/or FaceBook:

One person was adamant that the moon and the sun were the same size and shared aneclipse-wallpaper-1492818_960_720 almost identical orbit.

I pointed out that I believed science had shown that the sun is much further away and bigger than the moon, and that the rules of perspective showed that an object that was further away would appear smaller. It is, nevertheless, a wonderful co-incidence or God-incidence, natural-incidence that they appeared the same size at times of eclipses. But, he wasn’t convinced. What do you think?

Another person…

One theological professor wrote that Jesus came from a middle-class, rich  family as both Joseph and Jesus were carpenters, and today many carpenters (especially those involved in church and old building restoration) can attract large salaries. This just didn’t sound right. An interesting opinion, but was it factually correct?

I wondered if Joseph  and Jesus would have undertaken such restoration work in their day, or whether their daily bread would have come from the humble making  and repairing of tables and chairs, and cart-wheels, in which case they’d probably would have been quiet poor, as most people of that time would.

However, the definitive  answer lay in the Gospel account of Mary and Joseph’s taking of the baby Jesus to the Temple. I checked. It is recorded that they offered two doves in gratitude for the birth. Interestingly, according to the book of Leviticus (which that professor seems to have overlooked) , the offering should be sheep…unless the family were poor, and then doves is acceptable. So, now we know: they were poor. But, why didn’t the professor know that?

‘We wanted knowledge, only to discover that what we really needed was wisdom.’ Anon.

But, there’s a remedy…

The Three Gates Of Speech: We are bombarded with facts, some of which are true and three-gatessome are false. Which ones do we accept? Which ones do we pass on to others, but word of mouth or by cutting and pasting on the internet?

The answer I believe is for us to stop, consider and apply the traditional ‘three gates of speech’, said to have been spoken by Rumi, and, to which I’ve cheekily added a fourth.

Rumi said, ‘Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates:
At the first gate, ask yourself “Is it true?”
At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?”
At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”

So there we have it.

When confronted by a fact and before accepting it and passing it on – ask if it is true? Why is that news released now? Is the source reputable or is it from a ‘pressure’ group or someone with an ‘axe to grind’?

I recently read a most bizarre article on alternative cancer treatment and sugar. After three minutes research I ascertained that the author was a chiropodist! I am sure he is a most professional chiropodist, but why would anyone accept such advice on cancer when that isn’t that persons specialism, and bad advice in that area can have such dire results? And yet 99% of the thousand comments made accepted his seemingly authoritative statements, and were positive and enthusiastic about his revolutionary (but I believe lethal) advice! Tragic.

When considering facts, does  it seem odd or are those inner ‘alarm bells’ ringing? Is the information vital and beneficial to us? It is kind and wholesome and uplifting?

If such facts or words fail at any one of those three gates, Rumi suggests they should be disregarded. Discernment.

‘Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits…’ 1 John 4:1a

Fourth Gate?: My fourth gate would be: If in doubt, and before passing it on, do check it on Google, by typing in the relevant words, followed by the words ‘scam’ or ‘spoof’. It only takes a few minutes. Or check the background of the originating person or organisation – you wouldn’t believe the number of patriotic and well-meaning statements displayed on the web by extremist groups, who want to lure you in to their way of thinking by seeminglybalance-1-15712_960_720 innocuous remarks that are linked to their website(s).

Balance: So, there we have it. Whereas we can over-think and miss the Divine in life; so too we can be deluged with ‘fake news’ and find ourselves ‘distanced’ from the truth, from the Divine because of ‘under-thinking’ and swallowing wholesale such falsity.

‘Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7, The Book

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Tadhg’s Ephemera: 12 January 2017 Full Moon & More.

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Full Moon: On 12 January 2017 at 11:34 UTC, with the moon in the constellation of Cancer the Crab, there’s a full moon. To the ancient and latter-day Celts this full moon is the Quiet Moon – so-called as all seems quiet. however, we know that the apparent dormancy of this season hides nature’s activity and is  but the prelude to spring, which is just around the corner.

To others this full moon is known as the Ice Moon or the Wolf Moon.

Something To Do: Perhaps, when gazing at the full moon, this time could be a time offile-11-01-2017-11-07-12 gratitude for the last year, and a time of prayer, meditation and a looking forward to all that could be in the forthcoming year. A time to plan good things, and to look forward, positively. It’s also an opportunity to do all this  in front of a lit candle – to remind us of the gift of light, to slow us down (we’re usually all far to busy), and to dwell on the simple and profound things in life. Rest. Meditate. Enjoy.

‘January is the quietest month in the garden. … But just because it looks quiet doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. The soil, open to the sky, absorbs the pure rainfall while microorganisms convert tilled-under fodder into usable nutrients for the next crop of plants. The feasting earthworms tunnel along, aerating the soil and preparing it to welcome the seeds and bare roots to come.’  Rosalie Muller Wright, Editor of Sunset Magazine.

Moon Creation Theories: Some Thoughts: The last theory about the creation of the moon talked of a collision of a small wandering planet, named Thea, some zillions of years ago. However, a new theory has emerged in the last few weeks about how the moon was created, rejecting a popular theory that it was born through a single giant collision.

In a new study, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science ran computer simulations and determined that the moon may have been formed by a number of collisions with smaller objects rather than one large collusion.

But, just for fun, I thought – being the amateur astronomer, that I am – I  would like to offer another theory: that the moon itself was moving freely through space at one time,  and encountered the Earth and its stronger gravitational field, and moved into a ‘parking orbit’ aeons ago. As the moon had moved through space the front of it would have encountered debris and that’s is why it is pitted – and that would be the back of the moon, now, which continually faces away from the Earth; the other side of the once wandering moon, shielded from such debris as it moved through space would be protected and less pitted, and that’s the ‘face’ that shines down upon us, now. If the theory catches on: it’s known as ‘Tadhg’s Wandering Moon Theory’. Just a thought.

‘As the Sun goes down
And the Moon rises
And the Golden Pond turns to silver
Blessed is the one who creates us
Blessed is the one who makes us
Blessed is the one who fashions us.’

(Derived from Authorised Daily Prayer Book of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth)

13 January: As an aside, this day, 13 January is the day that many remember St Kentigern (also known as St Mungo) who died around this time in 612AD. Kentigern had a full and rich life, and is perhaps best known for founding Glasgow in Scotland all those years ago. I’m sure Glasgow, with a current population of just over 600,000 people, salutes you.

‘There is a moon inside every human being. Learn to be companions with it.’ Rumi.

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Tadhg’s Journal: ‘And Nothing Happens…?’

20170110-nothing-happens-journalExcerpt from Tadhg’s Journal: Have you ever had one of those days when expectations ran high? Where your heart beat faster, when there seemed to be ‘electric’ in the air, like an approaching storm, and you felt sure something significant was about to happen? But, nothing happened!

Yesterday (again), for me, was just such a day.

On the surface, as regards any significant event…zero, zip, zilch, nada, nothing!

But, at the end of the day when the noise of life lessened, and the ‘monkey mind’ wasn’t quite so active, deep inside there seemed to stir a quiet voice saying otherwise, an intuition that suggested that significant events had indeed happened, but that I (or you) were not aware of them, or perhaps had misinterpreted them. Maybe, passing them off as trivial?

There is another way of perceiving life. The ancients, the Celts, the Druids of old, and many today know there is more to life than meets the eye, and that we can, sadly, sometimes be caught up in the busyness of modern life that we miss it, as our appreciation of life becomes…superficial, shallow, surface-level, so fast. But, and here’s one of my favourite Welsh phrases, mae mwy – there is more.

That quiet voice of positivity that whispers to us, is the voice of the bat kol (literally, ‘the daughter’s voice’, the voice of the Divine) that we all have access to, and which (or should that be ‘who’) constantly speaks to us. It is the voice of the Friend, but a voice that we seldom heed.

I’m reminded of the following poem by Juan Ramón Jiménez:

I have a feeling that my boat
has struck, down there in the depths,
against a great thing.

And nothing happens! Nothing… Silence… Waves…

Nothing happens? Or has everything happened,
and are we standing now, quietly, in the new life?

Significant things, then, are happening to us everyday, sometimes revealing themselves as large and significant, sometimes disguised as ‘small’ events that we might be tempted to overlook. Sometimes they appear to be very mundane (whatever that means), but they do happen. Please don’t overlook them.

Maybe the first birdsong we heard of the day was a ‘call’ just for us to draw aside, rest and relax, and appreciate nature? Perhaps, that baby’s smile ‘tugged’ a deep memory within us that reminded us of how loved we are? Or, was that argument we witnessed on the city bus between a couple, a reminder to you of the fragility of human relationships, and an encouragement to contact a family member or friend that evening?

These are events with cosmic consequences. They are ‘whispering sages’ from whom we can learn, if we but pause, heed the event and seek to be aware of its meaning and significance in our daily lives.

It is written in ancient sacred text: Do not neglect the day of small things.

Every event in our life is significant, because there is no such thing as an insignificant person, and the Divine is constantly communicating in our thoughts, through word and through actions.

You and I are standing in that new life;  and yesterday, significant things actually did happen to us. And, today…….?