In Dark Times, Shine: 2/5: Empowerment [Celtic Thought]

20170221-walking-in-dark-times-celtic-thoughtHaving looked at our distinctive yesterday (in part one, see here), we now move into considering empowerment to do what we’re called to do.

You may have your own ways of empowerment, but if you haven’t or if you would like to consider different ways (to use, to adapt and use), here’s a few ideas that I find beneficial.

‘Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Empowerment is necessary to do what we’re called to do. This can be an informal influx of energy obtained by, say, a walk in a park or forest. Nature is wonderful, and a real and genuine source of energy and inspiration. Or, you might obtain energy from a visit to an art galley or listening to a piece of music; or we can approach it in ways to specifically ensure we have an influx of energy, a more formal approach, and some of these ways are outlined below.

But, empowerment is necessary, lest we work from a position of depleted energy or exhaustion and don’t accomplish what we’ve set out to do.

In ancient text the Christ says: ‘…but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’ Luke 24:49, The Book

I like that idea. Empowerment is something we can be clothed with – it can be seen as a protective, energetic cloak or coat, enveloping us. And, is something we need (and which can be depleted, and restored!).

So, here’s some ideas for empowerment:

Under The Blanket
empowerment-adorable-20374__340Susanna Wesley, the mother of  John and Charles Wesley, and eight other children (or was it more?) and found it difficult to find space and time to be by herself to meditate and pray, especially with so many children around the house and the challenges of eighteenth century living – it was not a bed of roses. Lots of  problems and heartaches. Infact, twice the house where she lived was burned to the ground, losing everything she and her husband owned. It was assumed that their church members did it because they were so upset at what her husband had preached in the pulpit.

She struggled to find a secret place to get away from it all, somewhere where she could ‘commune’. She stumbled upon the idea of a prayer apron or blanket – a ‘tent’ over her head. So, she informed her children that when they saw her with her an apron or blanket over her head, that meant she was in prayer and couldn’t be disturbed. And it worked. The children didn’t disturb her, and Susanna found these times to be very beneficial for deep meditation and prayer.  Others have emulated Susanna since. So, you could find your own prayer or meditation blanket!

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6, The Book

The Tallit
The Greek word for closet or room is tameion which is the same word to describe what happens when one puts on a tallit. Ah, the tallit.

empowerment-tallitThe tallit is primarily a Jewish prayer shawl, mainly used by men but, today, many women use it, too. Tallit is Hebrew for a robe, a cloak, or a sheet. It is draped over the shoulders (with deep respect and after much prayer), but in putting it on, the ritual involves covering the head, fully, momentarily.

It, too, is like a prayer blanket. Indeed, it has been known as the little tent, and some say references to tents in ancient text may actually refer to the period that the tallit covers the head – a tent for the head, separating the person from the rest of the world, monetarily, as if they were in a separate, secret room. (And, for those interested, we know the Christ wore one of these, as there are references to people touching the fringe, the tassels, of his garment, tallit, to seek healing. Also, Paul we’re told was a tent-maker, and there is a view (and one that I subscribe to), that he was, infact, a tallit-maker).

So, why not buy a tallit? It can be used in prayer and meditation as an aid, and can be used in the caim – see below, though it’s not essential to the caim.

The Caim
The caim is a profound ‘circling’ prayer used by ancient Druids, (Christian) Celts and others over the millennia. I like to think of it as a bubble that surrounds us (and which scribes a circle on the floor, into which we stand or sit).  It is still used by latter-day Celts, some Churches who value its benefits, and by some wiccans, pagans, light-workers, mystics and others.

‘Real power comes by empowering others.’ Denis Waitley

empowerment-soap-bubble-manThe making of the caim, the ‘stepping into it’, and using its power for your blessing, protection and for others is pertinent here. What you send out, does come back. Send out a blessing, and you get a blessing back.

The caim is about surrendering to the Source of All, so that some of that power can flow through us, like a conduit. Through us and onto others.

‘If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times. In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more love you give away, the more love you will have.’ John O’Donohue

For information on how to bless others, and so be blessed; or maybe you want to adapt the caim for blessing and empowerment only, so that you can then, later, bless others by performing a caim on their behalf or do some other activity on their behalf, please see here.

Smudging
Of course, the caim can be understood to be one ritual among many, and you may have your own ritual. But, if you haven’t please do consider this one (or more, depending on what you want to accomplish).

‘Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.’ Buddha

empowerment-6fb7425b1a234dc3a468d885305ff98fFor indigenous people of north America and others smudging was, and still is, and important, and special, and sacred act. So, why not you?
Often, smudging involves a four-direction ceremony, and this sits well with those whose tribe is ancient Celtic or Druidic in nature, or similar.

Clear your room or space of clutter and mess, open up windows and curtains and allow air to enter. Light your sage (or other herbs) and then fan the smoke with a feather around your body and anyone else in your space.

‘As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.’ Marianne Williamson

In turn, you may then want to face each compass cardinal point starting with, say, the east, and in turn say a prayer. Here’s a guide to help you get started.

Taking your time, for there is no rush, you might want to say:
Eastward: ‘Facing east, we greet the air, the  wind which can fell mighty trees, and seek that power to do good

Southward: Facing south, we greet the sun at its highest point, and ask for power from that which provides light and warmth to all the earth, to fill us’.

Westward: Facing west, we greet that great body of water, with giant waves and currents that dissipates energy around the globe, to shower us with its power and blessing.

Northward: Facing north, we greet the earth, that which provides a sure foundation, that we might not stumble, but might be sure-footed in what we do for good.

Of course, this is only an outline, and you may wish to add to it to make it true to you, or adapt it to suit your particular purpose. I usually conclude with a prayer to the Source of All, the One behind it all!

Conclusion
Instead of smudging, you could use a candle, moving it to the four cardinal compass points and reciting those words. Experiment. Try something different.

In all of this, intentionality in ritual is important. It is what it means to you that’s important. And, of course the Source is important, too. In a very real sense, it doesn’t depend on us to get it right, but on the Source of All to be profligate, and we have just such a promise. So, don’t hold back. Be empowered to do good in these dark times.

Tomorrow, in part three, we’ll look at actions, and some ways we can ‘shine’ and assist others.

‘Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.’ Andre Gide

 

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In Dark Times, Shine 1/5: Distinctiveness [Celtic Thought]

20170220-in-dark-times-1-celtic-thoughtIf you read the newspapers, watch tv or listen to the radio there seems to be more ‘darkness’ about than ever. Is there more confusion, fear and bitterness in the world, or are we just more aware of it?

Putting ‘fake news’ aside, just what is going on? I know a lot of people are unnerved by recent events, and maybe not without just cause, and it does seem the ones in ascendancy just get angrier and angrier, and that can spill over and affect us all.

‘It’s the end of the world as we know it…’, so sang R.E.M in (would you believe) 1987

What Do We Do?
keep-calm-shoppingAs a Brit I am reminded of the resurgence over the last few years of those war time posters (and cups and mugs etc) that say something like ‘[something witty here] and ‘carry on”!  I think there’s some truth in that. So, we carry on? Yes, but there’s more!

‘Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.’ Seneca The Younger

I do believe it’s not the end, but the beginning of something new. Sadly, Seneca got there before me, in saying that!

As a latter-day Celt, and speaking to you as a Celt, Celtic Christian, or Druid etc, we come from a long line and tradition that has ‘weathered’ many storms of change in the past. Times change. Truth remains. Indeed, in one ancient text it refers to such changes and perception of extreme and seemingly unusual feelings as being like birth-pangs. It’s a beginning of something wonderful and exciting – a call to people of vision – but  it’s not without pain, confusion, fear and some much-needed adjustment. But, take heart!

‘Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living
In better conditions.’ Hafiz

We Carry On…
What so we do? I would suggest that we do not give into fear, are not provoked, and, at least ‘carry on’ in doing good. Let your light shine! But, there’s more.

…And Then Do More
hand-pixabay-1331323_960_720If we think in terms of light, love, positivity, good deeds, self-love, other-love, good-thoughts, prayer, wholesome  action, and yes, even ritual, then perhaps there’s scope for us to do even more (not necessarily in terms of the amount we do (but if you want to, that’s okay, but don’t overdo it)), but in the quality, passion and effectiveness of what we’re doing)! Yes, maybe we can step it up a gear!

Of the eight billion people on the planet, the Source of All has made you unique. There is no one quite like you, nor is there anyone with quite the same gifts, talents and calling. You’re different, and different for a reason.

‘Why fit in when you were born to stand out?’ Dr Seuss

So, be distinctive!

Now, once you know your distinctiveness and calling, then you can be ‘subversively’ good and be distinctive, and when someone notices your words or actions you can minimise the effect. In this sense subversive is used to mean action against the system of brokenness and fear and confusion by thinking, saying and doing good things. Even so, the response may not always be positive from other people, and  that’s one good reason for the low-key approach.

The other approach is to be openly distinctive and throw caution to the wind. Flaunt it, or at least don’t be covert. However, do bear in mind that, ‘Notwithstanding how good you are, you…[may]… be perceived as bad by the masses when you take the extraordinary steps that lead to distinctiveness…’.  said Ernest Agyemang Yeboah. Be cautious.

And Then…
hands-1926414_960_720However, we probably all need some energy – however we define it – for new work, or greater work, or deeper, or prolonged work. We can only give from a position of strength – in the sense if we have no energy or are exhausted, if we have nothing to offer that is refreshing or vibrant, then…..well, we will have nothing to offer, nor the ability to deliver it. Be prepared to do what you’re called to do, but do ensure that you have the energy and resources.

‘Every man and woman is born into the world to do something unique and something distinctive and if he or she does not do it, it will never be done’. Benjamin E Mays

Of course, this begs the following questions:

  • Do we know who it is that calls us?
  • Do we know our gifts and attributes?
  • Do we know what it is we’re called to do?

You might like to answer those questions – keeping it to yourself – to clarify the ministry or path you’re on and/or to act as an encouragement to spur you on (further). If you wish to email questions, or answers to these questions, specifically, by all means email me at: tadhg@tadhg.cymru]

‘Let your light so shine…’ Matthew 5:16a, The Book

Empowerment

Once we know our distinctiveness and calling, then power and energy ‘to do’ is needed. Tomorrow, in part 2 we’ll look at individual empowerment.

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The Elements: The Wind Whispers

20170215-the-wind-whipers-poetry-and-liturgySince the celebration of Imbolc or Candlemas, usually the first few days of February, we’ve moved into the season of spring. Sometimes, local weather patterns prevail for a time to give a wintery feel, but rest assured spring is on its way. [Except for my antipodean friends. Sorry].

For ancient Celts, Christian Celts, Druids and those of many other ancient tribes, the cardinal point for spring is the east. So, my recommendation is that, for any ritual or recitation you make to celebrate the season, you face the east – unless you have a fixed custom, of course. For me, at this time, I like to start three compass/cardinal points ‘back’, and so as I work my way through a recitation at each compass point in a clockwise fashion, I end, for this season of spring, by facing the east. East represents spring time.

And the main element of spring is air/wind.

Here’s a poem entitled ‘The Wind Whispers’, about this season of spring and its main element:

– oOo-

I hear your voice on the sound of the wind,
and I hear you call out my name
deep within.

With no companion to my mood
I walk, but know
that in my solitude
I must bow to the wind that buffets me so.

Tonight was the first spring thunder
in the mighty rush of rain.
And the earth, like a child that knows her poems by heart,
declares, yes, that it’s spring once again.

And so I part the thrusting branches
and come  beneath
the blesséd and the blessing trees,
that look upward at God all day
and lift their leafy arms to pray.

Beneath a canopy of stars,
of broken branches showing the scars
of many winds and so much strife,
this is life.

Yes, the wind whispers to us all.
Its words carry across the tree tops, and it sings.
And, back comes the wind full strength with a body-blow
dandelion-pixabay-smalllike that of angel-wings.

Praise be to you my dear Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and now serene,
I hear your voice…and I hear you call out my name,
welcoming me, and those of my kin.

-oOo-

This is a ‘found poem. That is, a new poem fashioned from, and/or based upon the thoughts and words of others that have gone before. In this case, this poem written by me, was prompted by some great words penned by:  Rudyard Kipling, Sara Teasdale, St Francis of Assisi, Joyce Kilmer, Rainer Maria Rilke, Wendell Berry, and Douglas Malloch.

 

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Ephemera: The Celtic Month Of The Ash Tree [18 February-17 March]

20170215-ash-tree-month-ephemeraTime to prepare. This Saturday, 18 February 2017, sees the start of the new Celtic month of the Ash (though, common with ancient cultures and their calendar you can choose to start the new month the evening before, from out point of view, if you wish).

So, here’s some information about the  Ash tree, something about the ancient origin and myths associated with this glorious month, and something to do by way of celebration.

Common name: Ash, Common ash, European ash
Scientific name: Fraxinus excelsior. (Fraximus means firelight, in Latin)
UK provenance: native
Interesting fact: Ash trees can live up to 400 years – even longer if coppiced.

About The Ash Tree
When fully grown, Ash trees can reach a height of about 35m. They are tall and graceful, and often grow together, forming a domed canopy. Their bark is pale brown to grey, which fissures as the tree ages.

‘The ash before the oak, choke, choke, choke;
The oak before the ash, splash, splash, splash.’

ash-tree-ncI am told that the leaves have the ability to move in the direction of sunlight, whilst, sometimes the whole crown of the tree may actually lean in the direction of the sun. Another characteristic of ash leaves is that they fall when they are still green.

The Ash tree is dioecious: that is, male and female flowers typically grow on different trees, although sometimes a single tree can also have male and female flowers on different branches. Flowers are purple and appear before the leaves in spring.

Once the female flowers have been pollinated by wind, they develop into conspicuous winged fruits, or ‘keys’, in late summer and autumn, commonly known as ‘helicopters’ to children!.

‘Of all the trees that grow so fair,
Old England to adorn,
Greater are none beneath the Sun,
Than Oak and Ash and Thorn.’

Rudyard Kipling

Usage
In ancient times Ash wood was used to make the shafts for arrows and spears.

The Ash trees wood ability to flex meant it was used to build wagons and coaches, as the wood could easily absorb bumps and shocks. It was also used as a veneer for furniture.

And, today, Ash is still used to make high quality sports goods such as hockey sticks, billiard cues and tennis rackets.

Myth
ash_yggdrasil_by_friedrich_wilhelm_heineMany believe the Ash to be a very important tree, magical. For instance, in Scandinavian countries the world tree, Yggdrasil (see right), was thought to be a giant Ash tree. In Ancient Greece, Ash trees were sacred to Poseidon (the God of the sea), and wood from the Ash tree was frequently used to make charms to protect the wearer against drowning.

And, Hesiod, a Greek philosopher,  believed the first man was born from the Ash tree. This gave rise to the planting an ash tree at the birth of each baby. Of course, then, the state of the tree was thought to serve as an indicator of that person’s health and strength.

‘I was that ash tree that grew flowery
and strong as any among it;
and you were the meadowlark who sought
a safer shelter in its shadow.’

Juan Cristóbal Romero
Translation: Erin Goodman

In many ancient cultures Ash was renowned for its healing properties, and sick children would be passed though the branches of the Ash tree for healing and speedy recoveries. And, it was thought to cure warts.

Indeed, the Ash is associated with the Welsh Magician-God Gwyddion, who bears an Ash staff or wand, a potent symbol of healing, transformation and empowerment as regards matters of destiny. And, whilst talking of staffs or wands, St Patrick, it is said banished all the snakes from Ireland with an Ash stick, which, in Irish mythology, was the preferred wood for a magic wand.

With the advent of Christianity the Ash tree took on other holy associations. Ash tree wood’s unique ability to burn well (hence its Latin name Fraximus excelsior) whilst green was attributed to the fact, by some, that it was the very wood that warmed the stable where Jesus was born, and ever since then it has held that ability. Some believed that it was an Ash fire in the stable where Jesus had his first bath in the warmth of its fire, and then went onto believe that it was therefore beneficial for new-born babies to have their first bath in front of a fire made with Ash logs,  in the hope that they would have a long and pious life. An interesting story, don’t you think?

Time To Celebrate
So, this Friday evening or Saturday evening, why not celebrate the new month. Many regard this new month as the month of self-renewal, deep thought, inspiration-by-nature and a time of creativity.

‘Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvellous.’ Bill Moyers

keyboard-1395316__340So, why not draw aside and do something creative, such as start a daily journal (if only for the month), write a poem or two that day (and, why not try your hand at writing a haiku. See here for the basic idea and examples). Science, too, many say is ‘encompassed’ in the general mood of this month – so why not visit a science museum or watch a science-related movie or read a science-related book (see here for a recommended book), all focusing on the wonder of nature and the universe we inhabit. Or visit a local building or site of historical interest, or treat yourself to a visit to a local art gallery – do something different.

‘You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.’ Maya Angelou

Of course, in addition (and highly recommended as I enjoy liturgy and ritual), you can always enact a rite at home: light a candle, recite some wonderful,  relevant words to usher in the new month and Spring, and/or meditate in silence on the moment, and pause. And enjoy that pause, that liminal moment.

 

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Celtic Thought: Life On Boil?

20170214-life-on-boil-celtic-thoughtOver the Christmas period I discovered the limits of the old cooker/stove I have. It’s small, it’s old, it’s well-used….but it works.

‘What matters is not the idea a man holds, but the depth at which he holds it.’  Ezra Pound

Over breakfast this morning, my thoughts turned to buying a new one – to entertain more (at least that’s my excuse). And, I’m also reading a Richard Rohr book that reminds us, deeply, of how those ancient Celts and mystics had a different perception about the world. Rohr also goes onto say that spiritual things, and especially our descriptions and thoughts about the Source of all, are but metaphors at the very best.

So, here’s a metaphor about life. Life is like a pan of water on the stove.

(Now I’m thinking of Forrest Gump, but that thought  has now passed). We earnestly want life to be untroubled and just ‘simmer’, we want an easy time, but life isn’t always like that. Sometimes, no matter how cool, calm and collected we are (and sometimes we might be an ‘agitation’ to someone unknowingly, and yes, sometimes knowingly) life gets ‘hotter’ and hotter’, and like it or not life ‘boils’. This strikes home as maybe the ‘fallout’ after an argument; a worrying ‘distancing’ from someone for some reason,and before we know it, it’s  too late to make amends; or some other calamity that seems to come out of nowhere rears its ugly head. Unwelcome news is always….well, unwelcome! Right now, I’ve had some ‘bad’ news. I have gallstones – apologies if you’re eating as you read this.

‘We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves…groan inwardly as we wait..’ Romans 8.22-23 part, The Book.

If life is like a pan of water on the stove, then sometimes, life boils.

And, to make it worse. Whilst my pan or yours (ie life) is boiling, some smart-alec, some holier-than-thou person (whose life only ever simmers, or so they tell us) looks on, condescendingly.  Our life is ‘boiling’, and now we have to deal with the ‘heat’ and judgementalism (from others, and sometimes even from ourself).

One of my favourite mystics from yesteryear, Meister Eckhart wrote: ‘Life is a boiling up and pouring out of itself, scalding and melting and bubbling within itself, light penetrating light. For life is as it were a gushing up, a thing welling up in itself, pouring a part of itself into another part, as it runs forth and bubbles over beyond itself.’

So, life is a boiling up!

Suddenly, as I sit here supping coffee, having read that, thought about it, life feels a little bit (more) understandable. Sometimes, life ‘boils’ or perhaps that is this life’s normal state, and the Source either sends it or allows it, and yet we in some almost-unbelievable way benefit from it.

This led me onto some more thoughts:

– we can be our own worst enemy, beating ourselves up. Stop it. The Incarnated One talked about showing love, and that includes us as well as others, and

– sometimes calamity will come our way and life will ‘boil’ – and those that look on because they say they only ever ‘simmer’ are either being untruthful or are missing out in some real and cosmic way, so don’t worry about them, and

– all things work to the good. If we’re promised by the Source of All that all things will be rectified, and we lose someone because of an argument and then ‘lose them ‘because they slip out of time and into Eternity, it may seem to be over, but the promise hasn’t been fulfilled! Logic (as well as deep spirituality) demands that it isn’t over, yet. There’s more to come, and I find that comforting. Life goes on elsewhere, and if things are not resolved here, then they are resolved there, and that buoys me up in the present. It means that if you or I went to a spiritualist (and I’m not advocating that – apologies to my spiritualist friends) then Great Aunt Maud who I might have upset just before she went ‘Home’ wont be upset with me – she’s in Bliss, (and it wouldn’t be Bliss if she were upset),  and finally,

– because of my already-there-because-we-never-existentially-left theology (but we just think we have left Bliss), we’re (still) in that place of Peace where the ‘boiling’ has stopped, where all things are resolved, but for the time being the physical world seems to obscure that Heavenly realm from our point of view. So, I’m really right there with Great Aunt Maud, reconciled.

Ah, if only more people thought like those ancient Celts, and Druids of old.

However I feel today, or you feel…whether we’re going through a segment of life which is ‘boiling’ at the moment, it will pass, and in one very real sense it has already been dealt with. In that Place-Beyond-Time all things have been resolved and reconciled in the most ‘bigly’ (to use a word by someone who’s name I can’t remember) way you can imagine. But, don’t spend too much time imagining…because for the time being we cannot possibly imagine that realm of total peace and bliss. Remember, such deep, spiritual things can only be attempted using metaphors.

He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Revelation 21:5, The Book

Meanwhile, I’m still pondering buying a new cooker/stove. What do you think? Not necessarily about the last sentence but about the last few paragraphs?

 

Celtic Thought: In Praise Of Urban Trees (Or ‘The Sentinels Of Parson’s Green’)

20170213-in-prasie-of-urban-trees-celtic-thoughtIt sometimes feels easier to be embraced by the simple beauty of nature in rural areas. Even if the ‘Rockies’ or Yr Wyddfa (Mt Snowdon in north Wales, in my rural neighbourhood) are some way off, a small copse here or there, wayside flowers or a tree branch shed in a storm and providing a much needed seat for me, affords a remembrance or connection with the Great Outdoors.

And yet I’m now in London (UK) for a while, in an area that hosts almost 200,000 people, where the ratio of people per street is phenomenally high compared to rural Wales. I love Capel Curig. And for other reasons I love this part of London: a borough which nestles alongside the River Thames; jam-packed with a kaleidoscope of awesome, diverse  people; sporting a number of cafés – great places for avid book-readers, like me; and with a number of open, green spaces.

It sometimes feels like it takes more ‘work’, but perceiving nature in this place is possible – if only for the fact that nature itself really is ubiquitous, and we may, for the most part in urban areas, merely be unware of it.

‘The trees are God’s great alphabet:
With them He writes in shining green
Across the world His thoughts serene.’ Leonora Speyer

Not far from where I live (when in London) is Parson’s Green – a small area of open space, triangular in shape – was it a plague pit in medieval times? And it has great, green open area, with high trees from another era, and two public houses (it used to be tree) at its edges. It is a most wonderful, magical area, busy but with a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’. Yet many miss its beauty in their rush to nearby Parson’s Green (London) Underground Station.

It is a magical area. A small oasis of beauty, a swathe of green in a sea of grey.  A ‘garden’ of solitude surrounded by a cacophony of sound. And in the centre are its two tallest trees. I first saw them as a boy some years ago, and they are still as tall, if not taller, than ever. They are the ‘guardians’ of this place, nature’s sentinels, and some might say they are its senior dryads. I rarely pass that way without a slight head-nod of respect to them.

There is something so sure and dignified in a tree’s presence. The Celts had a refined sense of worthy wonder of trees. For them many trees were sacred. Near their holy wells there was often either an ash or oak tree.’ John O’Donohue

These two trees are giants.

And that’s interesting, the myths from different cultures about two giants. In Roman times the myth of Gog and Magog (which are names that appear in ancient text) was ‘imported’ to Britain and quickly became the ‘protectors’ of London. Even today a few old buildings in Central London sport effigies of Gog and Magog, and at the Lord Mayor’s annual procession it is usual to see larger-than-life effigies of them on vehicles in the procession. In Greek mythology the Aloadae were two giants who were presumptuous enough  to attempt to storm the home of the gods by piling three mountains – Olympus, Ossa and Pelion on top of each other. Goram and Ghyston, too, are legendary giants in the folklore of the Bristol area. And, Fulham (this borough in question) had its own myth of two giant sisters who, it is said, built the churches on either side of the River Thames [see here].

‘Oh Trees, Trees, Trees…wake. Don’t you remember it? Don’t you remember me? Dryads and hamadryads, come out, come [out] to me.’ C S Lewis

Yes, these two tall trees amongst dozens of others, are giants, sentinels of Parson’s Green, in the heart of London.

And, for those who pause in their rush to and fro from home to the train station, and vice versa, the wildness of nature, the green-goodness, the magic of this place,  even a dryad or two, it’s spiritual presence and giftedness-from-the-Source-of-All may be revealed to those who takes time, are aware, and pay their respects.

‘The groves were God’s first temples.’ William Cullen Bryant

If ever you have the opportunity to move through Parson’s Green, or indeed in some other urban area where nature reminds us of it’s presence, then temporarily forget  about the busyness of the day and allow yourself to be transported into the realm of sacred space, sacred time, where the imaginal re-imposes itself and where Green-Spirit can embrace you in that ‘thin place’.

Something to do? If you’re in a built-up area, seek out a green space, find a tall tree, be aware, take time, be still, pause, and enjoy the view, the tree’s presence, and the One-Behind-It-All.

‘Only in the pauses between things, in the brief contemplative spaces of just being, can we catch a glimpse of love itself.’ Gerald G. May

Celtic Thought & Journal: ‘I Have No Words’

It is not often that I find myself speechless, but there are times. Such times, are times when those who should know better, act in a less-than-expected way (eg perhaps inept politicians, but this isn’t a rant. Honest), and times when, say in an argument, it’s best to say nothing, or feign that you have no words (but you certainly have the thoughts! I know, I’m not perfect). But, there are other times.

And, other times are times and places that take your breath away. See the photograph below.

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This photograph taken in that ancient land of the Celts, of Druids, and Christian saints of old, underscores the amazing, wild, rugged, prodigal and beautiful creativity of the Source of All.

When words are few or absent, then it is best to just stand a stare, and appreciate the expanse that is nature; to give gratitude to the Source in absolute silence; to acknowledge how special-we-are-and-yet-how-small-we-are, and do what comes naturally….

…Standing there, I had no words…but, yes, enveloped by the ‘magic’ of that place, cocooned in its power and majesty, I could do nothing other than be overwhelmed and cry.

Haiku #6: Regarding The Moon Of Ice [Ephemera].

20170209-moon-of-ice-poetryI’m fascinated by the traditional haiku – short Japanese poems consisting of three lines; and the lines containing firstly five syllables, then seven, then five; and somewhere in the haiku there is usually a seasonal reference (called a ‘kigo’), however oblique.

With the full moon, this time it’s known as the Moon of Ice [see here for details], imminent, here’s a haiku regarding that wonderful, blessed event. An event to ponder, to take time and be still. To gaze upon. To give gratitude to the Source of All. The Haiku:

Windy weather wanes.
The Spring full moon is so bright.
Look! Her smiling face.

shoe-1433925_960_720A voice from above,
‘Remove your shoes, my dear friend.
The ground is holy’.

Be still and wonder.
The Source of all is sending
Grace to all. Blessings.

 

 

 

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Tadhg’s Ephemera: The Moon Of Ice: 10 & 11 February 2017 Full Moon & More.

20170208-moon-of-ice-ephemeraBrace yourself! The next few days is a busy time, astronomically-speaking, and for those that cherish and mark the passing of the seasons, or enjoy looking ‘heavenward’ to the skies for significant events.

Lunar eclipse: 10 February, the shadow cast by the Earth starts to move across the surface of the Moon. Lunar eclipse.

‘The moon makes love
to the ocean,
and in this holy conception it gives birth
to a little tide.’

A P Sweet

moon-untitled111The Moon will only ‘graze’ the outer edge of the Earth’s long shadow and so it won’t be a total eclipse of the Moon. Rather, it’ll be a penumbral eclipse and so you’ll see the Moon’s light grow dim, but it won’t lose all its light, and it may become reddened. The penumbral eclipse will start very slowly at first, hardly noticeable, at 22.35 UTC, but will be at its maximum some 2 1/2 hours later, and then by 2.35 UTC (the next day) it’ll all be over. It should be viewable, clouds permitting, from north America, Europe, Africa and most of Asia, but not so from Australia – sorry, Australia.

Full Moon: 11 February: It’s a full moon and therefore of significance to the ancients, and latter day Christians, Pagans’ Celts, Druids and others. It  will be in the constellation of Leo; and this Full moon is known as the Moon of Ice (or, the  Ice Moon) to ancient and latter-day Celts, but is also known as the Snow Moon, Storm Moon or Wolf Moon to others.

‘Only the moon’s smile can cure the unseen scars of darkness’. Munia Khan

We can still rightly claim to be in the season of Imbolc – it was only a week ago – and Imbolc has an association with milk, so why not wrap up warm, grab a cup of hot milk and gaze at the Moon of Ice, in awe, in wonder, and with gratitude, and ‘unwind, take time to relax and marvel at the Moon, and/or celebrate the occasion, ritually, in a way appropriate to your tribal, core and/or heart-felt expression, as its face smiles back.

Comet: 11 February and a few days after: Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková is expected to reach its maximum brightness now and over the next two weeks, and will be visible. It was discovered by astronomers Minoru Honda, Antonin Mrkos and L’udmila Pajdušáková in December 1948.

comet-602281_960_720Comet (definition): A celestial body moving about the sun, usually in a highly eccentric orbit. It has a central mass surrounded by an envelope of dust and gas that may form a tail that streams away from the sun. This flowing tail is why it’s called a comet, as the word comet comes from the old Greek word, komḗtēs, meaning ‘long hair’; and the comet’s tail does look, poetically, like hair flowing from it.

The comet will be passing through the constellation Hercules during its closest approach on February 11th, and then it will move through the constellations of Corona Borealis, Boötes, Canes Venatici, Ursa Major and into Leo at the end of February as it recedes in brightness. It then ‘flies’ away from us on its orbit, not to return until the Spring of 2022. It’s best viewed though a pair of binoculars.

And then, the planets: Mars appears near Venus in the western sky for some time, whilst Venus visible for a time and then vanishes into the sunset weeks later in later in March. Jupiter, meanwhile, rises in the east and is spectacular even with a pair binoculars. Saturn rises in the east just before morning sunrise.

‘Late February days; and now, at last,
Might you have thought that
Winter’s woe was past;
So fair the sky was and so soft the air.’

William Morris

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Creatures Of Myth & Magic: The Old Story Of The Gwyber & What We Can Learn From It.

20170207-the-old-story-of-the-gwyber-story-and-myth-1Last evening was one of those evenings, with nothing on tv, and I’d finished part of reading a book and come to a natural juncture in it, that I found myself at a loose end. What to do? So I reached for one of my grandmother’s old journals. Like me, she journalled a lot, and this particular  old and dusty journal of hers was probably one of a few that I had never really read in depth.

Placing in on the small table in front of the armchair, it fell open, roughly midway, and there was the story about the Gwyber. My grandmother was a prolific story-teller, and used to tell me and my brother amazing stories about some of the forgotten creatures of Wales. Interestingly, there was always a moral attached to the tale. Isn’t that they way with ancient story and myth?

And, so I began to read another of her stories about this area of Wales, a place of myth and ‘magic, a place of ancient Christians meeting in the woods (for safety),  of Druids, Pagans, of Cunning folk, and mythical creatures such as the Gwyber.

Ah, the Gwyber. When reading it, I bore in mind those stories from ancient times. stories about: Angels singing at the dawn of creation; Jonah and the sea creature, the sun standing still, George and the dragon, the ‘Dyfed triangle’ – the latter being very current. Did they really happen? What meaning, morals or wisdom do they impart to us today? And so, in that light, I read on:

My Grandmother wrote: Now, the Gwyber (sometimes spelled ‘Gwiber’) is a most dangerous creature that you would not want to encounter, but if, by happenstance you did come across one, you should slowly back off, never losing eye-contact.

Gwyber is Welsh for viper or adder, and though those are small snakes, the Gwyber is more. It can travel on land or in water, and it can move silently. It eats fish, and when it is really hungry it will slither onto dry land or swoop down from the sky and devour small sheep and other animals.

Actually, although many believe the Gwyber resembles a dragon (and dragons are wonderful and beautiful creatures), the Gwyber is really a much-scaled, scarred wyvern, and some have feathered wings. [If you want to know the difference(s) between a dragon and a wyvern, see my article here].  Now, the Gwyber is really a cross between a long snake and a wyvern, and it stands about 7 feet tall (2 meters), is green or grey in colour, and is easily camouflaged, virtually unseen. Some say they can actually become invisible.

Oh, and you should know, they have long teeth; long, long fangs which drip poisonous venom and which can kill. It can spit that venom, too.

There is a story, that a long time ago local residents of Penmachno [just ten miles south-west from where I live a Capel Curig], the villagers and farmer were being harassed by the Gwyber, a most monstrous beast who devoured the villagers livestock, and so they offered a large sum of money to anyone who could kill the foul beast.

Up stood a young man by the name of Owen Ap Gruffydd. Owen, who lived nearby but in the mountains did his research and visited a local wise man called Rhys Ddewin who told him that his chances of defeating the Gwyber were non-existent, and that he would receive a fatal bite from the creature. Owen left, depressed and greatly worried.

The following day, Own visited Rhys Ddewin for advice, again, but this time Owen was dressed as a vagrant. He told the wise man of his plan, and Rhys Ddewin , again told him, that he would lose the battle, fall, and suffer a broken neck. Owen left, even more depressed, and even more worried.

The day after that, Owen went back to the wise man, enquired about his chances of killing the creature. Owen was dressed, now, like a miller. Rhys Ddewin, freely gave him advice about the Gwyber, and concluded that the young miller would die by drowning.

Owen could bear it no more, and pulled of his miller-worker’s disguise, and became angry with Rhys Ddewin. ‘Three times I’ve visited you, Rhys Ddewin, and each time you’ve given me a different prediction regarding my own demise’, Owen shouted.

Rhys Ddewin just smiled sadly and said, ‘We will see. Time will tell’.

Owen was a young man, fearless, and maybe a wee bit stubborn, and he ran out of Rhys Ddewin’s cottage at Penmachno, and set off down the alley in search of the Gwyber, to kill it.

The valley was steep, indeed, and as Owen was striding across some rocks, the Gwyber struck, swooping down from the sky, flapping its tremendous wings. Without warning, the Gwyber bit poor Own on the neck. Owen fought back bravely, and lashed out wildly with his sword. So wildly that Owen slipped on the rocks. He fell awkwardly, with such a force that he hit his head and he heard the most gruesome snap – like a branch breaking, as his neck broke. Owen rolled on those slippery rocks, and fell into the deep, fast-slowing river at the foot of the valley, and drowned.

When Owen’s lifeless body was discovered by his friends, they set off to kill the Gwyber. After several hours of searching, they found the Gwyber on the bank of the river, wounded, bloodied, exhausted, half-dead thanks to Owen’s battle with it, but not quite dead. With a blood-curdling scream the Gwyber lunged at them. They each let loose a hail of arrows, and the creature fell backwards, plunged into the river and was never, ever seen again.

The people of Penmachno were pleased that Owen and his friends, by working together, had killed the creature, but were saddened that the good fight had had an enormous cost to dear Owen.

Even to this day the people of Penmachno, it is said, rarely venture into the nearby national park at dusk – Gwydir national park – alone, for fear of encountering the Gwyber. Ah, the Gwyber! Ah, in Gwydir!