In The Depth Of My Soul….: Anamnesis

20170913 IN THE DEPTH OF MY SOUL ANAMNESIS REMEMBERINGAs you know I love ritual. Not just for the pomp and ceremony, but I love it because of its power and vitality, for the fact that it connects us to That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves, intensifies the moment, and can have such a deep meaning that we are transformed, and transported in delight.

I was watching a video recetly which had several recorded events of the hongi. The hongi is the ancient traditional Maori greeting, and is done by a gentle pressing of one’s nose and forehead to another persons nose and forehead. The ‘ha’ (breath of life), also seen as one’s soul, is then exchanged. Then the visitor, the ‘manuhirim’ is no longer a visitor but, wonderfully becomes a ‘tangata whenua’, one of the people of the Land.

As the video progressed, one act of hongi stood out from amongst the others. This person, a westerner, probably nervous and feeling out of place, went a long a line of Maori people, touched nose to nose, but at breakneck speed. The act was performed, but that person had forgotten the true meaning of the hongi, and so missed out on ‘something’. It was, sadly, rather shallow. There was no real meaning, no depth, no transformation, no sharing of the ‘ha’, the breath of life.

Ritual is important, because it slows us down. In ritual we remember. Remembering is so important. And when involved in ritual, and when remembering we go deep(er) and may be transformed, we enter sacred-time and sacred-space and encounter. Things, then are different.

The challenge, today, is that instead of going deep we are encouraged to operate at a shallow level. It seems to be the way of the world.

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

I have been to some fine ceremonies. Last Christmas, for instance, I was at an event where we sang wonderful tunes and awesome words, recited meaningful words from a bygone age, listened intently to a transforming story, and then afterwards I sipped coffee with the congregation. I was still in the ‘liminal zone’, but others around me were not. I’m not judging them because on other occasions I’m probably in their shoes, and maybe you have been, too? It happens.

After that ceremony those  near me talked about the weather and their rhumatism, the need to leave early to start cooking the Christmas turkey, they talked about a several-hour car journey to visit a relative, and one remarked that the minister was wearing a rather fetching stole.

‘Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out in the ocean.’ Christopher Reeve

Ritual is important, because it slows us down. In ritual we remember. But, those around me may have misunderstood the nature of the ceremony we had just witnessed, and had forgotten. It is here that ritual and stories come in useful, because through stories we remember.

There is an ancient story, one that we heard at that service, that includes the words, ‘Do this in remembrance of me…’. When I hear those words it’s like warm honey being poured down my spine – they are awesome and have moved me to tears on occasions. In them is power and love, invitation and joy. In them we remember.

In thinking of those words, we can view them merely from an academic point of view. There is nothing wrong with this, but there’s more. Go deeper. We can view them as words said by the One some two thousand years ago, and look back from a historical, ‘legal’ or dogmatic point of view. There is nothing wrong with this, but there’s more. Many in that congregation seemed to stop there – many do, and so miss out. Many stop at a shallow understanding of ritual and ceremony and story, but there is more. Go deeper.

When those words – and it could be other words and events that we ecnounter – are spoken or encountered they are deeper than deep. ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ is so significant because the ‘remembering’ is anamnesis!

Remembering is important. Anamnesis is so important.

In its weakest sense, and common today, anamnesis it is merely remembering an act, and carrying it on in the absence of the originator. It’s a looking back along that distant horizontal time-line. Oh, how the spirit of this age wants us to quickly move on to something else, so we miss the depth.

‘In the depth of my soul there is a wordless song.’ Kahlil Gibran quotes

There’s more for those who want to go deeper, and who really want to benefit.
In its deepest, purist sense, and the one I would encourage you to engage with, anamnesis has a vertical connection. It (ritual, ceremony or story etc) ‘lifts’ us off the normal time-line, and upward to the higher realm. Not just an act, but a participation; not with an absent host but one who is ever-present; not looking back in time, but living in continual ‘nowness” of the event; not earthly, but cosmic.

An example of anamnesis can be read in a previous article entitled, The Telling Place: Ritual And Anamnesis. (See here)

Anamnesis in ritual, in our times of meditation and quiet, in our services and ceremony is a ‘transporting’ back or coming into full partcipation with the event in mind – it is the time-frame you and I are living in, being superimposed over some major event so that the two are happening together.

Synchronous. Participation. Transformation.

My encouragement to you is: Don’t miss out, but to go deeper, and resist the spirit of the age to remain shallow. Go deeper, and revel in anamnesis, true remembering and true participation. True encounter. Liminal, not liminoid.

 

Celtic Practice: Making It Happen Takes Just 000127

20170911 CELTIC PRACTICE MAKING IT HAPPENI love stories, the myth, the magic of stories being told around a fire in the evening, but also those recent true stories of people who, unwittingly, made major discoverers, and here’s one just such story.

There is a story of Edward Lorenz who was a meteorologist who wanted to use computers to predict the weather – this is some time ago, when, like old radio computers had valves.

Working at MIT in the 60’s he came up with twelve mathematical equations to govern the computer program which mimicked the real world regarding temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction etc.

He started the program and out came reams of paper print-outs and predictions. When he inputted the same data he could never make them repeat themselves. The results were, perplexingly, always different. In the latter part of 1961, taking a short cut and wanting only to input one specific part of the data and to save time, he started the program in the middle instead, and typed in a few numbers to get the computer started, and went off in search of a good cup of coffee.

When he got back he found weather predictions so different from anything else that had gone before, that he started checking all the equipment.

Then he realised what was happening. One number the computer was working with was 0.506127 but to save space the computer was working to few decimal places only and ‘saw’ that number as 0.506. Inititially Lorenz hadn’t considered this ’rounding up/down’ as consquential, but now realised he was wrong to dismiss it.

‘The tiniest changes changes in the environment…not only your partner’s hiccup but also something far away as the gravitational pull of an electron at the far edge of the Milky Way’ can make a vast amount of difference.’ Barbara Brown Taylor

Lorenz found that the difference between the initial number inputted and the final rounded up/down number was just 0.000127, and that was all it took to create a major effect in the computer’s prediction.

Now consider: you and I in prayer, or sending energy or light or love, moving energy around or using it, manipulating it (in the nicest sense of the word), or engaging in a ritual or ceremony for someone, some area of the planet or for some particilar good outcoume such as a change of circumstances, healing, forgiveness etc. All it takes it 0.000127. It doesn’t sound much, but thats it – a little intentional action by you and I can have major effects. And don’t worry if you’re working alone – not that one is really ever alone.

It may be seen that greater observable power (maybe from a mature person or more people acting in concert) may have a greater effect, but though it’s good to aim for maturity or to get others involved, one person’s action can have a major effect invisibly and visibly.

‘Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.’ Samuel Johnson

Bigger is not always better, more discernible power doesn’t mean the outcome is quicker, better or ‘brighter’. I don’t think it works like that. That’s the view and philospohy of our modern day materialism, and we’re dealing with fundemental elements of the universe. Altogether different. Altogether stranger. Altogether more powerful.

All it takes it 0.000127. All it takes is that energy from intentional action to effect a change.

‘ There is another way to conceive the universe…not a clockwork universe in which individuals function as discrete springs and gears, but one that looks lore like a luminous web…In this universe…every interaction – between people and people, and people and things, between things and things – changes the face of history.’ (Barbara Brown Taylor).

It means that lightworkers and energy workers, healers, those praying to God, those using the Caim (see here), those engaging in Celtic, Christian or Druidic (or another faiths’) rituals and ceremonies, those advocating peace and love, those working in regular jobs which serve other people in any way, those who are writers or musicians or artists or dancers or actors etc who in some way want to inform others for their benefit or for their entertainment, those doing any kind of positive work in the physical and/or spiritual realm (and there is no real dichotomy between them), yes, everyone, including you and me, can have a positive effect in sending ‘energy’ to another via this luminous, instantaneous, all-connecting web, and then watch for the results.

And, all it takes it 0.000127.

Okay, this is an immeasurably small number to us non-scientists, and like the answer in Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy who marvelled at the answer 42 (but weren’t sure what it meant), it is easy to dismiss it by asking,’ what does that actually mean?’. It essence it means you and I can make a difference when acting in concert with the Universe, The Source, That Which Is Larger Than Us etc. Be encouraged, today

‘Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.’ (Robert Louis Stevenson)

 

Perceiving Anew: Seeing Through A Glass Darkly: 1 To Catch A Tiger…

20170906 PERCEIVING ANEW SEEING THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY 1Every so often there is talk about DNA advances, prehistory and the idea that some scientists have some of using the preserved DNA of the extinct mammoth. The thought goes that, although the mammoth DNA is incomplete it might be possible to use ‘bits’ of current-day elephant DNA to fill in the gaps. In theory, you might then end up with a living-breathing elephant-mammoth hybrid, but it could be the nearest thing to a living mammoth that has not existed for the last five thousand years.

‘The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost; for none now live who remember it. (The voice of Galadriel, The Lord of the Rings (movie))’

For some (few) years there has been a revival in all things Celtic and Druidic, and long may it continue. For through such passionate beliefs of people from all ages and walks of life, will come a greater community spirit, a greater appreciation and protection of nature, and a great appreciation of the things of the soul and spirit, and of spirits, elementals and the like, and a renewal of all that is good, wholesome and holy. and, the world needs it, fast.

But, the world has changed from the heyday of the Druidic society of yesteryear and much has been lost. The Celts, the Druids were a story-telling community and the passing on of traditions and history was done orally. There are gaps.

Some try academia to fill in those gaps – much like using elephant DNA with mammoth DNA, and ofcourse this is right to try (academia, that is). It will take us so far, but it will not take us all the way.

Those that pin all their hopes on academia to fill in the gaps will find huge blanks, still.

Nevertheless, academic study as one tool amongst several is to be encouraged. The ‘challenge’, however, in academic argument is that proponents of it might think it is the only way, and also fall into the ‘trap’ of using Greek and modern-day dualistic thought (eg black and white, right and wrong, left and right, I’m right and you’re wrong etc) to advance their understanding of a non-dualistic culture. It cant be done.

To catch a tiger, you have to think like a tiger.

‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.’ (Albert Einstein)

The greater the culture is technologically-advanced, the more likely its people are to ‘see’ through dualistic eyes, and the more likely to miss the point.

It has been suggested that to fill in the gaps in Celtic/Druidic stories, understanding, liturgy and ritual, perhaps memory is needed. The kind of ‘cellular’, ancestor-linked memory that can be ‘tapped’ through meditation (at various places), through ‘thin-place’ encounters, through the Caim, through intuition, or through dreams, prayer or imagination etc. I think there is some (great) mileage in this.

‘Pass it on to your children, and from your children to their children, and from their children to the following generation.’ Joel 1.3, The Book

Then, one places oneself in the path of the ancient-future memory-stream of the ancestors, and those stories of old, knowledge and wisdom are re-kindled in our hearts, and come alive in our daily living and daily practices, to be told and shared.

‘I believe that there is a place where our vanished days secretly gather. The name of that place is Memory.’ (John O’Donohue).

To the purist and the academic this is nonsense, and yet this is the very way it was done by the very culture the purists and academics wish to know more about. To find out more about the Celts and Druids of yesteryear, to rediscover their ways, one need only to enter into Celtic/Druidic culture, ‘philosophy’, beliefs and practices, today, and many are doing just that. And, benefitting.

The wise amongst you will quickly realise that this will mean that I will perceive memories of the ancients differently to you. I may rediscover parts of the gap that are different to the gaps you ‘recover’; and we may even be at odds over some things if we compare (if we were to ‘see’ things from a dualistic, modern approach). But, why resort to current-day perception and understanding when dealing with an ancient culture?

Theirs was a culture where truth was not contained in a science manuals, not catalogued, cross-referenced or even written down, but it flowed, was debated and told as stories around the village camp fire. And, it didn’t matter if their were lose or ragged ends, or various versions of the same story.

We need to be encouraged to see things through ancient eyes.

For instance, take some of the books of the Hebrew Testament. Dualists or academics will scratch their heads as they discover that the books are not in chronological order. To ‘moderns’ they should be! That’s the way they would appear on a modern-day bookshelf, after all. However, to the ancients, the book order was decided by the length of each book – starting with the shortest books first (or, was it the longest book, first), and ‘it worked’ for them. And, when we hear the stories and legends of (Saint) Brigit, sometimes she’s firmly placed at the end of the fifth century, and then in other stories is described as a ‘nanny’ to the baby Jesus, five hundred years earlier! The ancients would have known about this ‘discrepancy’ and not batted an eyelid. The point is, scientific understanding and dualism was not important to the ancients, indeed, it was unknown. To them, the stories and the benefits it wrought to the village and individuals, the moral and deep spiritual meaning, and the comfort it brought was most important, was paramount.

We need to be encouraged to see things through ancient eyes.

‘Celtic spirituality is a kind of somatic archaeology, a study of unearthing the deep resources of spirit within ourselves by accessing the wisdom, power, and inherent knowledge of the body. We have largely been taught to ignore the body and the deep resources of spirit within ourselves’. The Mist-Filled Path, Frank MacEowen

Nights Of Fog And Clouds: Liminal-Numinous Encounters

20170905 NIGHT OF FOG AND CLOUDS LIMINAL NUMINOUS ENCOUNTERSYes, I’m still in London. And last night was one of those nights where I woke up, at about 3am, and just couldn’t get back to sleep. They don’t happen that often – but I always think such interruptions might prove fruitful.

Usually in such circumstances I would have gone for a country walk, if in Wales, but I’m in London. And, so I relocated myself to the study, and there I sat, and pondered. And waited for an encounter with sleep. It didn’t arrive.

After about an hour – it could have been longer, or shorter, as time seemed irrelevant, and I had nothing really to measure it by – I half drifted off to sleep. It was as if a fog appeared. The study, still visible was rather opaque, obscured by this fog, but not totally – though it wasn’t the kind of fog that I’ve encountered in or near Capel Curig that moved in repsonse to air currents, and there no was smell to it, and no temperature change.

Room fog!

But, something felt different. I could hear myself breathing gently, hear the gentle ticking of the clock on the desk, but there was no other sound, and it seemed as though I should just remain as I was. Content. Content to let whatever was about to unfold, to unfold.

And, then, seemingly seconds later, I wanted to analyse this feeling, and my eyes became wide open, the fog disappeared and I was wide awake and alert again. I had no memory of what really happened, and I can’t tell you if ‘fog time’ lasted a few seconds or minutes or longer. But, something had happened. And, this got me thinking.

In physical locations or in the spiritscape of the mind, fog or clouds are an indicator that something special is about to happen. A(n) herald.

‘ Clouds and thick darkness surround Him…’. Psalm 97:2a, The Book

Time is skewed as we move into that sacred time-space, the liminal, and we may have no memory of what took place, just a pleasent ‘feeling’ that something significant had taken place as we look back and remember. Liminal encounters are usually experienced in the ‘now’ and ‘unpacked’ later as a memory of what happened. Has that happened to you?

Fog or clouds are an indicator that something special is about to happen or has happened.

On that night I saw a brilliant yellow-green light some 200 feet away from me, through the dense forest. I walked toward it. 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! Was it the Canwyll Corff, the corpse candle myth. Who knows?

Clackitt’s Wood, The Last Word (see here). Tadhg.

The Source of All, the Universe, elementals, That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves seems to use clouds, fog and the cover of darkness to draw near – whether this is a physical reality, or a just-as-real ‘inner’ visitation in our minds, mind’s eye or vision-eye. It’s as if unbridled power and energy and holiness must be ‘masked’ to ‘come closer’ to us, for our sake.

There is a story told that, in the 6th century, the poet Senchán Torpéist gathered the poets of Ireland together to see if any of them knew the story of the Táin Bó Cúailnge. None of them could give details that gave the whole story. They all only knew parts of it. And this grieved Senchán.

And so Senchán Torpéist sent three of the younger men to seek out a very old man who it was believed could tell them the complete story. They travelled far and eventually came to the grave of an ancient poet called Fergus MacRoich. Two of the young men travelled onward toward the next village for shelter for the night; one of the men stayed, and honoured the memory of Fergus MacRoich with a poem. And then slept by the great poet’s tomb.

Suddenly a mist enveloped the younger man. Now unseen by his two companions, this young man found himself in the presence of Fergus MacRoich. From that awesome encounter, which lasted three days and three nights, he learned many things from Fergus MacRoich. And many of the older stories – some of which were formerly partly lost, others lost completely – were now known to that younger man because of that liminal experience.

From that ancient story we can take heart that: those old stories, knowledge and the wisdom of the ancients, though seemingly lost to us, can be encountered and re-kindled; that there are ways of putting ourselves ‘in the way’ of numinous and liminal happenings using prayer, fasting, ritual, liturgy, meditation and even poetry etc.

Never minimise the effect of prayer, fasting, ritual, liturgy, meditation and even poetry etc. Never play down your status, and the power-from-beyond at your disposal. Never be so caught up in daily living that we miss those liminal events, those ‘Divine nudges’.

‘Thin places’ (see here) may be events and occurrences that cannot be scheduled, but maybe there are ‘thin place’-like experiences that we can encounter in certain ways. Encountering them by the use of music, poetry, liturgy, meditation, the Caim – perhaps because that’s so because we’re making ourselves ‘open’ to the experiences, and the experiences are happening more than we had hitherto had known about. In essence, such experiences happen much more often, but we were/are unaware of them. Until now.

As I sat there, in the study pondering these things I wondered how many times we have almost put ourselves ‘in the way’ of these numinous and liminal events and got distracted and unknowingly ‘pulled away’? How many times the Caim, as a ‘tool’ of ritual and intention might be of (more) use to us – and this started me thinking even more about the Caim (see here).

It was about 4am when I ‘crawled’ back to bed and waited for an encounter with sleep. It was an interesting night, albeit not an uneventful one, though. As I drifted off to sleep my last thought was, and one that I would dearly like to share with you now, is: Look out for fog and clouds in your life. Fog or clouds are an indicator that something special is about to happen to you.

‘The greatest stories are those that resonate our beginnings and intuit our endings, our mysterious origins and our numinous destinies, and dissolve them both into one.’ Ben Okri quotes

 

The Singing Moon: Full Moon On 6 September 2017: Tadhg’s Ephemera

20170904 SIGNING MOON EPHEMERA

Yes, it’s nearly that time again – the time of the full moon.

This full moon takes place on Wednesday, 6 September in the constellation of Aquarius, in the south-southern sky. From a London, UK aspect the moon rises above the horizon that evening at about 8pm, and climbs to its highest point in the sky just after midnight.

‘Sun adores the body
Moon romances your soul …’

(Shonali Dey)

I love the times of the full moon. Whether I’m in the wilderness of north Wales surrounded by huge, sky-hugging mountains, or in London surrounded by huge, sky-hugging buildings of concrete, metal and glass (as I’m am, now), the full moon rises, peaks down, and her warm light bathes me in ‘moon-magic’. Whatever you do, do look up. Whatever you do, do make time for her. Wherever you, are do pause. She smiles down upon us all. I do so love the full moon.

This full moon is know by many names: some know it as the Corn moon because it traditionally corresponds with the time of harvesting corn; others call it the Mulberry moon; still others call it the Fruit moon; and to ancient and latter-day Celts, and Druids it is (usually) known as the Singing Moon. The Singing Moon is my preference for it.

To ancient, and latter-day Welsh Celts the moon was personified as dear Arianrhod (pronounced ah-ree-ahn-rhohd). From ‘arian’, meaning silver, and ‘rhod’ meaning wheel’ or ‘disc.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

(Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon, Francis of Assisi)

The moon was long thought to affect those of unsound mind, hence the term lunatic. And, a calf born near the time of the full moon was thought to be more prone to deformity, and if it was, indeed, born deformed it was called a moon-calf. The term moon-calf also became an insult in late(r) medieval England. Ofcourse, we cannot forget the legend of the werewolf who, it is said, changes shape and transforms into a wolf at the time of the full moon.

‘Tonight the moon kisses the stars.
O beloved, be like that to me!’

(Rumi)

Ofcourse, these are myths and legends, and yet the moon does affect us all. The moon, as it resolves around the Earth affects the tides of the sea, and therefore affects our climate and seasons. But, it affects us in other ways.

For instance, a three-month psychological study of 1,200 inmates at Armley gaol in Leeds in 1998 showed a rise in violent incidents in the days either side of a full moon. And, in a study of 1,000 tonsillectomy operations, some 82 per cent of post-operative bleeding crises occurred nearer the full moon than the new moon, according to the Journal of the Florida Medical Association. And, the chances of being bitten by a dog are twice as high during a full moon according to a study at Bradford Royal Infirmary, which reviewed 1,621 cases of dog bite between 1997 and 1999.

‘The night walked down the sky with the moon in her hand.’ (Frederic Lawrence Knowles)

But the moon affects us all in deep and spiritual ways.

A face that gazes down upon us. A celestial body, so regular, providing a clear and bright light, and moon-shadows, too, if we’re fortunate. A reminder of nature and her benefits to us in placing the moon there to regulate the day and night, and seasons, so vital to life on Earth. A reminder, too, of the One who placed the greater lighter, and this lesser light, the Moon, in the sky. The Moon is truly ‘magical’, and doubly so for young lovers and the romantic among us, to those able to look beyond.

‘She used to tell me that a full moon was when mysterious things happen and wishes come true.’ (Shannon A. Thompson)

So, this magical full moon is a time to give thanks: a time to celebrate with a walk under the moonlight, perhaps stopping and lifting a glass of wine as a libation (which you can drink, if you wish) in honour of the moon. Or perhaps you might like to recite a poem or hold a small liturgical ceremony at the time of the full moon.  It need not be anything elaborate, but whatever you do, do enjoy this upcoming full moon.

‘The full moon – the mandala of the sky.’ (Tom Robbins)

Wishing many blessings to you, and those whom you love, at this time of the Singing Moon. Tadhg

 

Photograph, above, copyrighted and used by kind permission of Pennie Ley (click here). Bless you, Pennie.

 

The Celtic Month Of The Hazel Tree (5 August – 1 September)

20170802 CELTIC MONTH OF THE HAZEL TREEIn a few days time, on 5 August we leave the old month of Holly tree and move into a new Celtic month – the month of the Hazel tree.

Now the ancients started their days (and, so new months) from the prior evening from our reckoning, and so that would make it the evening of 4 August,  but the choice of which evening/day to celebrate the new month is up to you). But do celebrate and mark the time in some way. The month of the Hazel tree ends on 1 September.

Did you know…Turkey is the largest producer of hazelnuts in the world with approximately 75% of worldwide production.

Celebration
It’s always good to celebrate a new month in large ways or small. I would encourage you, at the very least, to draw aside one evening to ‘welcome in’ the new month, even if for say, twenty minutes. It’s can be a deeply moving, profound, spiritual event.

Slow down, and maybe read and/or recite some poetry and spend some time mulling over the words, and meditate upon them. A glass of wine or two might assist. The Hazel tree is connected with knowledge and wisdom, and so a poem or quote associated with knowledge or wisdom might be appropriate, or maybe use a quote from here  that evening. There’s also a link to a great and relevant story, below.

And, also, how about giving thanks for all the good things that have happened in the previous month, and think ahead to what might happen this month, seeking light and love and energy, and guidance for the month ahead from the Source of All.

‘All our wisdom is stored in the trees.’ (Santosh Kalwar)

The Tree
The hazel tree, corylus avellana, itself, is a deciduous broadleaf tree native to the UK. Usually coppiced, but when left alone they can grow to a height of about thity-five feet (12m) and can live for up to eighty years (and, perhaps, four times that age, if coppiced).

The hazel tree has a smooth, grey-brown bark, which peels with age, and has pliable, hairy stems. Leaf buds are oval, blunt and also hairy.

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

Bees usually find it very difficult to collect hazel pollen and can only gather it in small quantities. This is because the wind pollinated hazel has pollen that is not that sticky and actually repels one grain from another.

Once pollinated by wind, the female flowers develop into oval fruits, which hang in groups. They mature into a nut with a woody shell surrounded by a cup of leafy bracts (modified leaves).

Hazel trees grow across much of Europe, as well as parts of north Africa and western Asia. In the UK it’s often found under the canopy of the lowland oak, ash or birch woodland, and is also found sometimes in scrub and hedgerows.

Did you know…The hazelnut became Oregon’s official State Nut in 1989.

As with the harmony of nature, hazel tree leaves provide an abundance of food for the caterpillars of many moths, including the large emerald, small white wave, barred umber and nut-tree tussock. They may support many species of butterfly, particularly fritillaries. Coppiced hazel trees also provides shelter for ground-nesting birds such as the nightingale, nightjar, yellowhammer and willow warbler.

Hazel nuts are also eaten by woodpeckers, nuthatches, tits, wood pigeons, jays and a number of small mammals. Hazel flowers provide early pollen as a food for bees. And the tree trunks are often covered in mosses, liverworts and lichens, and the fiery milkcap fungi grows in the soil beneath.

‘She said that the planting of trees, like the education of children, was a gift to the future.’ (Cassandra Danz)

Myth & Symbolism
The Hazel is associated with ‘knowledge’ and there is a wonderful story about a young man named Fionn, which includes the hazel tree and the salmon of knowledge, and is a story to tell, retell at this time of the year or on the evening of your new month celebration, and to quietly ponder upon it (see here).

Hazel has a reputation as a’ magical tree’. In many parts of Europe, a hazel rod is supposed to protect against evil spirits, as well as being used as a wand and for water-divining. In some parts of England hazel nuts were carried as charms and/or held to ward off rheumatism. The hazel’s connection with the Well of Wisdom is evident by the tree’s frequent presence at holy wells throughout Britain and Ireland, where pilgrims. still continue to this day, festoon its branches with votive offerings in the form of pieces of cloth.

‘Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.’ (Kahlil Gibran)

The hazel’s association with wisdom extends to other cultures of the ancient world. In Norse mythology it was known as the Tree of Knowledge and was sacred to Thor; the Romans held it sacred to Mercury; and Hermes’ magic rod may have been made from hazel.

Conclusion
Whatever you do, my encouragement to you is to celelebrate the new month one evening as we enter the new month of the Hazel tree.  Appreciate the marking of time, the new month, and trees. Yes, love trees. Wishing you and yours a blessed Hazel tree month, Tadhg.

‘Make peace with people, make peace with animals, make peace with trees!’ (Mehmet Murat ildan)

 

Hymn For The Full Moon: ‘Rising Moon, So High…’ [Hymn, Poem, Liturgy]

20170801 HYMN FOR THE FULL MOONIn just over a week there will be a full moon. I know that to ancient and latter-day Celtic-Christians, Druidic-Christians, Druids and others the full moon was and is significant. Some, today, may focus more on the new moon, but for me, it is the full moon (and without judging others) that is important for ritual and celebration, or for just taking time to pause and gaze up at it in awe.

To ancient Christians the full moon was significant, it being the indicator, even today, of when Easter should take place. Indeed, there are several Psalms which heap praise on the moon and the One behind it, as do current-day Celtic Christians, Druids and others. We, each may have different ‘theologies’ but each one of us gazes at the same moon, the Earth’s faithful ‘companion’ in wonderment at its splendour.

On several occasions in the recent past I’ve used old Gaelic tunes to new words to celebrate the major seasons, and today I’ve used an old English ballad that goes back at least 350 years – Scarborough Fair, see link below – to the following words penned by myself. If you wish to use the tune for a full moon ritual for your group or for yourself, please check the tune’s link. Or, perhaps, without the tune you might like to consider reading it as liturgy or poetry.

Rising moon, so high in the sky.
Your silv’ry light is seen far and wide.
You circle the earth for all to see-ee.
Your fulsome face does smile at me.

Mighty full moon, oh stay for a while.
Shining so warmly, your wisdom descends
to friends, to lovers, you are the ice-breaker.
Reflecting the light of the Moon-maker.

Your beauty touches my heart and my soul.
Oh, thou great moon so close and so bright.
In you I become but a child
bathed in your light, your light so mild.

Praise to you, our dear Sister Moon.
In heav’n you shine so precious and fair.
We celebrate this time of full moon.
Praising the Source, the Three in One.

The tune is: Scarborough Fair (click here for the tune). When you click on that link there is a short musical preamble, and then the tune starts at 12 seconds into video and ends at 47 seconds, and that tune can then be repeated four times for the four verses above.

Notes:
v1 was inspired and based on words of the first part of Dvorak’s ‘Song to the moon’ from the opera, Rusalka.
v2 was inspired and based loosely on words of Rumi’s ‘Behind the beauty of the moon….’
v3 was inspired by  William Henry Davies’ poem entitled ‘The Moon’
v4 was inspired by a few lines from St Francis’ ‘The Canticle of the Sun’, also known as Laudes Creaturarum, and Psalm 81:3 (The Book,), and ends with the ‘Trinitarian/Three-realm formula.
Photograph, above, copyrighted and used by kind permission of Pennie Ley (click here). Bless you.

Greening-Truth: Even More Thoughts About Gwyl Awst [Harvest]

20170731 GREENING TRUTH MORE THOUGHTS ABOUT GWYL AWST HARVEST 1Harvest, or as it is known by some, Lammas, Lughnasadh, or Gŵyl Awst is almost upon us, and I’d suggest that within the first week or so of August we set aside time to celebrate this wonderful festival and give thanks for the earth’s bounty. I’ll be doing something on the evening of 7 August, the night of the next full moon.

However we celebrate it, it is a time of giving thanks for the earth’s lushness, fecundity, the daily provision of our food, and the ‘greenness’ of nature, and more: veriditas.

O most honoured Greening Force,

You know I love words, and at this special time of the year ‘veriditas’ is one of my favourites. It will be new to some, but it is deep and profound. Above it is rendered as ‘greening’ as in Greening Force, but in the ‘original’ it is veriditas (pronounced ver-idd-it-tass).

Some years ago the Nissan Micra car advertisement on UK tv, over a number of weeks, successively introduced viewers to portmanteau words. If you’re going on holiday you’ll probably pack your clothes into a suitcase. It has one major compartment. However, and maybe more popular in days gone by, you might have a one suitcase with two individual compartments, complete with their own individual lids, zip and lock. That’s a portmanteau. Two suitcases in one! And a portmanteau word is two words in one! Fused together.

You who roots in the Sun;
You who lights up, in shining serenity, within a wheel
that earthly excellence fails to comprehend.

Nisan Micra’s portmanteau words consisted of Spafe (to connote that their car was ‘spontaneous’ and ‘safe’); smig (‘small’ and ‘big’); Thractical (‘thrilling’ and ‘practical’). Lewis Carol does it in his book ‘Through The Looking Glass’, where one character uses the word ‘slithy’ to mean both lithe and slimy. And, even Paul the Apostle does it, when he writes about the abundance of grace. In Greek the prefix is huper – literally hyper-grace. A phrase which seems to upset some today as they seemingly’ play down’ that phrase and shy away from the Greek original word which is there for all to see in the Book, because it seems too radical.

Usually, because they are ‘invented’, portmanteau words shout for our attention and denote something deep, profound, unusual and even challenging is happening.

Hildegard of Bingen in her writings, here indented, does it. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a truly remarkable woman, and her then newly ‘invented’ word ‘Veriditas’ is a wonderful word for current-day Celtic Christians, Druidic-Christians, Druids and others who accept the earth and indeed the whole universe to be sacred and holy, to take on board.

Veriditas is a portmanteau word: ‘greenness’ and ‘truth’ fused into one glorious, and, for many, an as yet undiscovered word. It is the greening power of the Giver of Life. Greenness and truth.

Veriditas, unknown to some, forgotten by others, ignored by some, but to those who know it, it is a reminder of the greenness of nature and the One behind it, the growth that arrives as promised in the great cycle of nature, and that in nature, life and truth are one…that is, to those who know. Some are, sadly, oblivious to veriditas.

You are enfolded
in the weaving of divine mysteries.

This ‘greenness’ is an expression of bliss, the creative power of life, which can be witnessed in the flowerpots, gardens, parks, forests, and farmland all around us. In many senses it is correct to view Veriditas rather like the Matrix (of the movie of the same name). It is ubiquitous. Everywhere. And like those gardens and forests etc, there is more.

Hildegaard saw viriditas as something to be cultivated in both our bodies and our souls, also. It is internalised. Entwined in her teachings and beliefs, is the amazing and ‘revolutionary’ idea of the time, that verditas is responsible for the inspiration of music, art, writing, our individual and creative talents and skills, the natural world, our daily life, our all. Everything.

You redden like the dawn
and you burn: flame of the Sun.

And so, at this harvest-time I’d like to suggest this wonderful word ‘Veriditas’ and it’s deep meaning of green-truth as a ‘watchword’ for your harvest celebration and/or her ‘poem’ (indented throughout this article) as part of your liturgy for the festival.  Veriditas is Green-Truth, the Great Provider’s ‘fingerprint’ smudged all around us and visible to those with eyes to see.

May you and those whom you love have a blessed harvest, ‘green-truth’ celebration this year, Tadhg.

Thoughts About Gŵyl Awst, Or Harvest: Celtic Thoughts

20170728 THOUGHTS ABOUT GWYL AWST OR HARVESTYes, Lammas or Lammas-tide, or harvest as many churches know is almost upon us. I love this time of the year. Hard work for the farmers and rural farmhands, but their tireless labour is appreciated by us all.

Usually celebrated during the very first few days of August, you might want to consider celebrating it on the first day of August, or the following weekend, but I’d also suggest you might like to celebrate it at the time of the upcoming full moon (on the evening of 7 August).

It is, nevertheless, a time to be thankful for the earth’s bounty, and grateful to the Great Provider Of All for the last year.

We plough the fields, and scatter the good seed on the land, but it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand…

(Hymn by Matthias Claudius, Translated by Jane Montgomery Campbell, and one of my favourite, seasonal, hymns at primary school.)

It is called the first harvest, because there is a second harvest at the time of the Autumn Equinox. Others will also know this time as Lughnasadh [(the ‘commemoration of Lugh’), but I like to call it by its old Welsh name Gŵyl Awst.

Lammas, for the inquisitive amongst you, by the way, comes from the Anglo-Saxon festival of hlaefmass – loaf, and so it’s good to celebrate the time with a loaf of bread – home-baked or perhaps, something special bought from a local shop. Maybe eat this special bread after your main meal one evening, with lashings of butter on it, and eat slowly, savouring eat bite as an act of deep meditation, deep reverence and with deep thanks-giving. Rituals don’t have to be lavish and complicated. Simple ones, with intentionality goes a long way. Why not invite family and friends along?

So, my grandmother, a great one for making home-made food would, especially at this time, make bara brith – Welsh for ‘speckled bread’. It’s similar to the Irish loaf, barmbrack.

Oh, this was my favourite type of bread as a child. A cross between bread and cake! The smell of baking bread over the hearth in her north Wales county cottage was heavenly, so inviting, and so impedingly-scrumptious. I can still remember the smell of that baked bread wafting up my nostrils, and my stomach rumbling in anticipation.

As a child, I knew I was in for a treat. There was, and is, nothing quite like freshly-baked bread, still piping-hot, and covered in lashings and lashings of real butter.

In Ireland, some of the mountain pilgrimages have survived. By far the most popular is the Reek Sunday pilgrimage at Croagh Patrick, which attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims each year. The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland established the custom of blessing fields at Lughnasadh.This time then, is a time of giving thanks by all to mother nature for all her fruits, gratitude to the the Lord of the Harvest, and a celebration using what has been sown.

And so, this Lammastide, as it has been since I was a child, I’ll be baking several bara brith, and sharing one – yes, the breaking of bread with family and friends – in a simple, ‘after meal’ remembrance ‘feast’, remembering all the good things that have happened this year, and giving thanks, in silence and humility, to the Source of All for the harvest, for life itself.

There’ll be more about the harvest and harvest celebration on Monday, but meanwhile don’t forget the harvest hymn, that you may want to sing, recite as poem or liturgy – see here for the Hymn For Gŵyl Awst.

 

Sleeplessness & The Ancestors: Celtic Thought

20170727 SLEEPLESSNESS AND THE ANCESTORS

I mentioned yesterday that my doctor – ever-so cautious, but I’m not complaining – has loaned me some kind of electronic sphygmomanometer, the machine that measures my blood pressure, and this one bleeps and whirrs every half hour (for a day). And then the  ‘cuff’ around my bicep contracts for a minute, and then relaxes…for another thirty minutes. See here. It’s like an old Star Trek ‘tricorder’.

Well, having got off to sleep quite quickly tonight, it woke me up with its bleeping and whirring. Before I had fully woke up, it was as if an invisible assailant was gripping my arm as the ‘cuff’ contracted and squeezed my bicep. Or, it could have been the house bwg or (from Welsh to English, the boggart), See here. Every house may have one, according to my late Welsh grandmother.

But, alas, it was the digital sphygmomanometer doing what a programmed digital sphygmomanometer should do. But, at 2.33am, in the morning?

And so, I’m awake. I’m sitting in the study, in the dark, waiting for ‘sleep’ to revisit me. Right now, I’m wide awake. Oh, so wide awake. At times like these, I always believe there’s a reason for such unexpected alertness. Could it be an angel’s prod, an elemental speaking in hushed tones, the Companion, or something else that is calling, and prompting me to wake up and now stay awake? I gaze around the dark room. Well, almost in darkness – I lit a few candles on ‘the table’ a few moments ago.

I’m not sure if you have such ‘the table’ like this, or call it something else. It’s the focal point of this room, and perhaps, spiritual-energy-wise, the focal point of the house. It is changed from time to time to reflect the seasons or what’s on my heart, but right now it displays photographs and ‘memory-prodders’ relating to some of my family that have ‘gone ahead’ and whom I still love very much.

Love wins, every time.

In Christian Churches, in a few months time, All Soul’s Day will be celebrated. Sadly, such ritual services, along with others, such as Ascension Day, magnificent and full of meaning that they are, are ‘minimised’ or even forgotten in many places. In the Eastern and Orthodox Churches such ancestor commemorative services happen five or six times a year! Wonderful. And ofcourse, to ancient and latter-day Celts, Celtic-Christians, Druidic-Christians, Druids and others, such rituals may happen more frequently. I like that very much.

As I gaze at ‘the table’ I wonder if it is ancestor-worship? For some, it may be, and I don’t judge them. For others, and for me, at least, it is a revering of those who have ‘gone ahead’, being mindful of their lives, and giving thanks that if it were not for them that I (and you, with your respective ancestors and family-tree) would not be here now. A profound and sobering thought. And, one not lost to the ancients.

How much our society has lost in its ‘advancements’.

The UK £2 coin has an inscription on it, that is so relevant here. The edge inscription has written on it: ‘Standing on the shoulders of giants’. It comes from a letter written letter in 1676 by Sir Isaac Newton to his fellow-scientist Robert Hooke, acknowledging the debt he owed to other scientists, where he wrote: ‘if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants’.

Nanos gigantum humeris insidentes [standing on the shoulders of giants]

We are indebted, all of us, to those that have gone ‘ahead’ of us – family and friends. Some of them we might have known, but others, who ‘passed on’ before we were born, may have had no direct effect on us, but would have had a secondary effect on us, still, because of their influence down the ages on successive generations….they would have influenced one person, that person would influence another and so on, right up until we we born, and even after. Just as you will have an effect on the next generation (of children, friends, the wider family, neighbours, clients and others) and on future generations to come.

We have all benefitted from the ancestors, and future generations will look back at us as their ancestors, and my prayer is that they will be grateful.

You are not alone. You are part of the cosmic human web. The Church of old called this ‘scala naturae, or the ‘ladder of being’. Others know it as the Great Chain Of Being.

And, so I’m looking at ‘the table’ displaying some of my ancestors, thinking that I would like to display more photographs of them, and will do so in time for All Soul’s Day later in the year.

And, I was grateful for that thought. Perhaps that had been why I was so alert: to plan for a future ancestor-thanking ceremony and to give gratitude to the One who has blessed me (and you, with your ancestors of the ‘blood’ and/or ‘life-devoting-because-of adoption kind) down the ages.

But, there’s more. The next thought was: Stopping talking about, Tadhg, and do it, and not just for yourself, but for others, too!

And so, at 2.40am in the morning I decided on the ‘Nike principle’ of ‘Just Do It’. In addition to writing here, and I so enjoy that, and hope and pray that you get something out of it, too, but in addition, I’m going to ‘test the water’ and organise (planning now, and for two months or so ahead) a number of workshops and (actual) rituals along the lines of practical, and ‘earthed’ Celtic, Christian-Celtic, Druidic-Celtic and Druidic spirituality, in London and nearby.

‘All things work to the good..’ it says in one ancient sacred text, and how right that is.

Now there’s, a thought. And now its 2.50am and, yes, ‘sleep’ is revisiting me, and unless further paragraphs follow this, you will know that I eventually got back to sleep – after what was a useful ‘interruption’.

Blessings, Tadhg