Have you ever thought about ritual and the need to go to certain locations, ever wondered about quantum physics, whether dogs have souls and other gnawing questions? Seven people did!
It had been a couple of months, but a few of us met earlier today in a local café, and as we ate croissants or pain au chocolat, and imbibed various types of coffee with seasonal syrups we sat back and talked about those lofty themes. We all aired our views, asked our question, all learned something from each other, and laughed a lot. It was a great time of deep and meaningful fellowship.
‘Learning life’s lessons is not about making your life perfect, but about seeing life as it was meant to be’. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
There was no set agenda, and what follows is a record of our ‘table talk’, albeit a brief outline of what followed.
Someone asked: So, is it important to go to specific places to perform a ritual?
Tadhg replied: Ah, the answer is no and yes. But I don’t think you would be happy with me if I left the answer just there.
In one sense, it isn’t important to go to a specific place to perform a ritual, because you could perform it, as a group or by yourself, anywhere, even in your house.
On many occasions I’ve used the caim and other ritual, and used visualisation with it, using my imagination to imagine being at that place in my mind. If intentionality is important, and it is, then a ritual in a substitute place, will suffice and be effective. So, if sending light and love to an area in need or of concern to you, to say, Chengdu in China, or to California, USA, or Jaipur in India, one doesn’t need to visit. A ritual, time set aside, somewhere else, with time to visualise and imagine deeply is just as effective.
‘Ritual is able to hold the long-discarded shards of our stories and make them whole again. It has the strength and elasticity to contain what we cannot contain on our own, what we cannot face in solitude.’ Francis Weller
Having said that, there are times when it may be good to go to specific places, physically. For instances, I’ve been invited to a wedding, and to support the bride and groom I will attend, physically. And, it would be bad banners to stay away. Other Druidic and Christian, and other faith celebrations do sometimes mean physical attendance is needed to show support, to give ‘out’ to others, and to ‘receive’ from them. For the benefit of others.
I went to Maen Lli in Wales to perform an Earth-Healing ritual, and in that case, I felt it necessary to actually go there to do that ritual, in part because it would mean something even deeper to me (or to others looking on). It was a kind of pilgrimage. So, it was mainly for my benefit in that case. But, being there, on that occasion, meant so much more.
Someone asked: So, what then are the important ‘ingredients’ to ritual, at the essential and deepest level?
Tadhg replied: Two major ‘ingredients’ are intentionality and sincerity, and those attributes I do believe, can change things.
In the strange, infinitesimally-small world of quantum physics/mechanics it is scientifically accepted that matter, at its deepest level, acts differently when it is observed by humans compared to when unobserved. The Universe changes the outcome depending on human input. Also, Carl Jung talked about the collective unconscious and the way it affects humankind, and perhaps in some way we are adding or changing this in some way by ritual at the deepest level.
‘If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics.’ Attributed to Richard Feynman
I think it is not too great a step to imagine a changed outcome when ritual (done with intentionality and sincerity) is employed. Ofcourse, the outcome may be subtle, it may be delayed or work its way out in a way that we cannot perceive, but I do believe ritual (prayer etc) changes things.
Someone asked: Each of us sitting around this believe different things – some minor difference and some major. How do you reconcile this?
Tadhg replied: It could be that we’re closer to a unity of belief than we thought. For instance, which one of us holds the same kind of belief that we held, say, ten years ago?
I hope there has been some change because that denotes growth and a maturing. Anything else means no growth! So, our commonality is that we’re all on a journey the same journey, experienced in different ways. And, maybe we’re all at differing stages of development? And, that’s the area for fundamental comparison. It’s good to discuss with others their belief and ours, as in part, that’s how we grow together, if done in love – but if we discuss our individual changes and growth then we understand each other and the Universe a bit more than we would otherwise have done. Then, our task could be to build each other up, further, along our chosen paths.
’In essentials, unity; in differences, liberty; in all things, charity.’ Philipp Melanchthon
Also, where we have differences maybe they could be because of different words used, or seen as different metaphors of the same thing? You might see an angel, I might see an elemental, others might see a ghost? Who is to say what is more accurate?
What we can say is that each of us saw something awesome, unusual and other-worldly.
I might talk of the soul, others might use the term psyche, and yet others might use the word ‘atman’. A Jewish person talking of God’s bounty might refer to the miracle of manna and quail in the desert, whereas a Christian might refer to the first miracle at Cana – the changing of water into wine by Jesus. Others might tell the story of Brighid changing bathwater to beer to quench the thirst of weary travellers. All declare the provision of the Source of All.
‘The longer we listen to one another – with real attention – the more commonality we will find in all our lives. That is, if we are careful to exchange with one another life stories and not simply opinions.’ Barbara Deming
We have more in common, and a closer affinity to each when we understand our fundamental beliefs, than we can at first imagine.
Someone asked: Do animals have souls?
Tadhg replied: That’s an interesting question. You will find a huge amount of research on this. Many mainline Christian denominations and many Jewish groups, and others, are adamant that only humankind have souls.
Rabbi Moses Cordovero, a leading mystic in 16th-century, recognised that animals do have some kind of spiritual energy, which he calls nefesh heyuni, but his view was that it was not a soul in the conventional sense. Once the animal dies, nothing survives.
‘A Druid is likely, then, to acknowledge a tree, river or stone to have spirit, or soul, or consciousness. This consciousness is as different from human consciousness as a stone’s nature is different from human nature.’ Druid Network
However, Plato on the other hand believed that animals and plants possess souls, and he’s quite convincing, as were some of the saints of old.
It’s noteworthy that St Francis Paola called his pet animals by their names even after their earthly lives had ended. He apparently believed they continued to exist after their deaths. And let’s not forget St Francis of Assisi who preached to animals and creation for a reason. Why preach to them if they have no soul?
‘That is why such a person never ceases to pray also for the animals… that they may be preserved and purified’. St Isaac.
I am convinced that all animals, plants, indeed all of creation possess a soul and continue on – they live, they die or change and continue on, made new; and that’s part of my Druidic Christian (or Christo-Druid) belief. I have no misgivings in blessing animals or any part of nature, or organising a ritual for animals’ healing etc, and have done so in the past, and infact I consider it a joy to do so.
‘And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Revelation 21.5a, The Book.
Someone asked: Earlier you mentioned ritual, and visualisation, but what about actions, what about action or work. Aren’t they necessary.
Tadhg replied: Another good question. Once you’ve experienced a ritual, or visualised or made a prayer request, there is usually a need to ‘do’ something allied to the ritual, visualisation or prayer.
If for instance I am concerned about the plight of those caught in the California fires and who need shelter, after a ritual, visualisation or prayer for them I might be led to ‘do’ something. Now that could be something connected with that situation and might involve sending money to the American Red Cross, but it could be something loosely connected with it, such as planting a tree (or sending money to a tree-growing charity) so that each time you look at, or think of, that tree you’ll remember those caught in the California fires.
‘You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth. For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons… When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.’ Kahlil Gibran
So, action or work may be needed, but it need only be loosely connected with what the ritual, visualisation or prayer was about, and it can be a token action and something achieved within minutes. Don’t ever feel you need do so much that is becomes a burden and troublesome. You may not be called or able to resolve the issue. Small efforts can reap huge benefits.
Conclusion: Now you know what was on the hearts and minds of friends in that café. Do stay in touch, do sign up to receive notifications of future articles. Also, the thought occurred to me to have ‘open’ or limited-number café events in London so that you might be able to savour the experience of ‘table talk’ if in/near to London?
Would you believe this is the 500th article I’ve written. Thank you for reading this, and for being loyal and reading my previous articles. Do stay in touch, even if it’s to say ‘hello’.
Much light and love be to you and yours, Tadhg