Ascension Day Ceremony (Live Streaming) 21 May 2020: Your invitation

ASCENSION DAY 2020

Welcome. The following is an outline of a planned live streaming Ascension Day Ceremony online, and you’re invited. It’s inclusive! Yes, open to all.

It will take place this Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 8.15 (UK Time) on my FaceBook site.

You can printout the order of ceremony below and join in the liturgy during the Ceremony, or, as you watch the Ceremony, just let it be a form of meditation and let it ‘sink in’ deeply. The Ceremony will be recorded.

The live streaming Ceremony will appear on my FaceBook site [do click here].

Please check now if you’ve got full access to my Facebook site, and, if so, you’ll see some other, previous, videos recorded there. If you don’t see previous video or if you can’t gain full access then press the ‘friends’ link on my Facebook site, I’ll accept as soon as I can. Once I’ve responded do then try my FaceBook site again to see if you can gain access then, in readiness for the live streaming video. If you still can’t get access, or if there’s any ‘challenges’, please email me, at: tadhgtemp@googlemail.com.

I haven’t found a way to put a docx link here to simplify things so you can print out only the Order of the Ceremony – but I’m still working on it. Meanwhile, it maybe best to just print out the following so you can participate, but erase this paragraph and the five above this, before doing so.

 

ASCENSION DAY CEREMONY: ORDER OF CEREMONY

Thursday, 21 May 2020, at 8.15pm (UK time)
Via Facebook video

GRACE GROVE, LONDON

 

For this ceremony you may need:
• A candle
• Safety matches

ASCENSION DAY CEREMONY
Dunstan Rite

 

Intention And Preface

Our intention, at this time, is to come close, and together, to explore and celebrate the Mystery of the Ascension. The Book tells us that the Christ lead his closest believers to the Mount of Olives, gave them instructions, blessed them and departed.

And so, as we light this candle our inclusive Ceremony begins.

 

Light the Ascension Day candle. Music may be played.

 

Reading

The Ascension of Jesus
When he [the Christ] had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. (Luke 24:50-54, The Book)

 

Calling The Quarters

Calling the Quarters, as we turn in sequence to face the four cardinal compass points, helps us to become fully present so we can deeply connect to the world around us, and create safe and sacred space for us all.

Facing East
Guardian of the East, Oh Ancient One of the air,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the wind.

All: We welcome you.

Facing South
Guardian of the South, Oh Ancient One of the fire,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the flame

All: We welcome you.

Facing West
Guardian of the West, Oh Ancient One of the waters,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the tides.

All: We welcome you.

Facing North
Guardian of the North, Oh Ancient One of the earth,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the land.

All: We welcome you

From the centre, perhaps adopting the orans posture
Guardian of all, Oh Ancient of Days,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with your power.

All: We welcome you

 

Call For Peace

The call for peace is an affirmation that there is peace amongst us, now; and that peace is offered to the world though not all embrace this, today, but one day will do so.

Is there peace in the East?
All: There is peace in the East.

Is there peace in the South?
All: There is peace in the South.

Is there peace in the West?
All: There is peace in the West.

Is there peace in the North?
All: There is peace in the North.

Throughout the entire land there is peace.

 

The Ancestors Present

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance… and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us… (Hebrews 12:1 pt, The Book)

 

A Poem. One Person’s View: In A Cloud

In a cloud.
A cloud?
A bit dramatic wasn’t it, Jesus? A bit over the top!
Hands raised.
Floating heavenwards ……
And I’ll lay odds that
future artists
will dress you in shining white,
and paint the sky deep blue –
to ‘match’ your eyes.
OK – so there were some precedents:
Elijah and his chariots
and that fiery cloudy pillar thing that moved around the wilderness; but those were the old ways –
you aren’t like that.
Is this really what you want us to remember about you, Jesus? That you disappeared in a cloud
and that you now live somewhere above the skies,
way beyond our reach?
What about your stories, your friendship; your tears, your pain, your laughter?
What about the way you believed in us, trusted us,
sent us out to teach and heal?
I’m not sure that you being alive somewhere where we cannot see you, talk with you, laugh and cry with you,
is going to be much help to us, Jesus.
Please, can’t you find a way of living with us,
close enough somehow for us to know that you’re near?
You said something once about a Spirit,
a holy Spirit from God,
who would come to us.
Does that mean you’re coming back to us?

And if you are –
no dramatics this time, please Jesus. Just come back to us quietly …
No more clouds!

© Ruth Burgess from Fire and Bread, published by Wild Goose Publications. Used with permission.

 

Poem/Prayer: In Others

Help us to see.
‘Why do you stand looking up towards heaven?’ (Acts 1:10–11a)
We look for you,
straining our eyes
into the far country,
but our vision is disrupted by the least, the lost,
the littlest, the last among us.
We race after you, trying to catch up, and turning the corner find only
a homeless family
in our path.
We wander the streets, yearning to find you, calling your name,
but it is only
a single mother who turns and wearily smiles,
a street person
who whispers ‘hello’,
a little girl who pirouettes and takes our hand.
Gone …
But you are still here, Lord. Help us to see.

© Tomas M Shuman from Fire and Bread, published by Wild Goose Publications. Used with permission.

 

The Ascension Explained

The Source of All, full of wisdom and grace, in the Christ at the time of the His Ascension also raised up humanity, and this is what some know as the hypostatic union. The most basic explanation for the hypostatic union is that the Christ is both God and man. He is both perfectly and fully divine, and perfectly and fully human.

C S Lewis wrote: ‘God did not dress up in a human body and then discard this at death, returning to some preferable spiritual state. God’s hypostatic union to creation is permanent. Christ retains his full, created, creaturely humanity in the resurrection. [In the Ascension]. Including his body.

The Ascension proclaims and celebrates [the fact that the] Christ takes this creation [up] into the full presence of God.

The metaphorical language of “up” must never allow for an escapist spirituality. If we do not find God in our everyday life of work, sport, friends, food, music, nature, bodies,… we do not find God at all.’

 

Additional words of explanation may be used here

 

Ancient Reflection On The Ascension

The following is an ancient poem written by Cynewulf, an Anglo-Saxon who lived during the eighth century. His name means ‘kin of the wolf’, and it is thought he may be Cynewulf of Lindisfarne (who died around AD780). And so from more then 1200 years ago we read his poem, his message to us:

Music may be played

Then suddenly was a loud voice heard
upon the breeze. A throng of heavenly angels,
a shining squadron, heralds of glory flocked
crowding down. Our King departed
through the temple roof where they looked,
those who still remained in the trace of their beloved
in that place of assembly, his chosen thanes. (491-97)

They saw their Lord mount up to the heights,
the God-Child from the ground. Their minds were sad,
hot about the heart, thoughts mourning
for they would never again be allowed
to see their loved lord any longer under the skies.
The heralds hove up a song, of the kindred above,
praising that noble one, celebrating
the Origin of Life, rejoicing in the light
which illuminated the head of the Savior. (498-505)

They saw two all-bright angels beautifully
agleam with adornments about that First-Child,
the Glory of Kings. They called down from the heights
with wrought words across the multitude of men
with a bright voice: “What are you waiting for,
people of Galilee in a circle? You may clearly
see the True Lord travelling into the skies—
the Owner of Victories will ascend upwards from here
to his new home, the Start of Nobility,
with his company of angels, the Origin
of Humanity, to the homeland of his Father.” (506-16)

The Ascension (Christ II)
Christ II (aka The Ascension) by Cynewulf

 

Prayer For Those In Need

Great Comforter of All, we pray for all people who are in trouble and fear today:

For those who are sad because someone they have loved has died

For those who are anxious because they are unwell, stressed or in pain

For those who are lonely because someone they love is not there for them.

For those for whom work is exhausting or emotionally draining.

For those who are struggling with finances or are facing the prospect of unemployment

Surround those in need with your wisdom, your spirit, your healing and your life-giving peace.

 

Prayer For Ourselves

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through our soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May our gravity be lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May our thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may we be about who to become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May our sense of irony bring perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,
May our mind stay clear of all it names.

And, may our prayer of listening deepen enough
to hear in the depths the laughter of God.

(John O’Donohue, adapted)

 

Prayer For Creation

God of creation, who loves all that is made and all that has evolved,
open our eyes,
that your love might be reflected in our care for the planet.
Through the One who walked this earth and calls us by name.

 

The Ascension: Significance

The Ascension, then, is the moment in history where the Christ in all his physical, bodily humanity, returns to the presence of God. It is the beginning of the reversal of any separation, real or perceived, as our representative of humankind is bodily dwelling again with God. The Christ and His glorious return to heaven paves the way for a reborn humanity, of which we are members, and this is only the beginning. That is why Ascension Day is significant, and more so that it is a ‘gift’ that is beyond the keeping of any one tribe or people, beyond the bounds of any one religion. It is, in every age, for all. It makes earth a truly Eucharistic planet.

 

Closing Words

What do you mean by saying,
“He ascended to heaven”?

That Christ,
while his disciples watched,
was lifted up from the earth to heaven
and will be there for our good
until he comes again
to judge the living and the dead.
But isn’t Christ with us
until the end of the world
as he promised us?

Christ is truly human and truly God.
In his human nature Christ is not now on earth;
but in his divinity, majesty grace, and Spirit
he is not absent from us for a moment.

 

Closing The Quarters

Facing East
Guardian of the East, Oh Ancient One of the air,
we thank you for your presence with us today.

All: We thank you.

Facing South
Guardian of the South, Oh Ancient One of the fire,
we thank you for your presence with us today.

All: We thank you.

Facing West
Guardian of the West, Oh Ancient One of the waters,
we thank you for your presence with us today.
All: We thank you.

Facing North
Guardian of the North, Oh Ancient One of the earth,
we thank you for your presence with us today..

All: We thank you.

From the centre, perhaps adopting the orans posture
Guardian of all, Oh Ancient of Days,
we thank you for your presence with us today.

All: We thank you.

 

Final Blessing

Music may be played.

May you who believe in the Ascended One, also in heart and mind there ascend, and with the Christ continually dwell

And the grace of the Triune God, be upon you and remain forever with you and those whom you love. Amen.

 

The Ascension Day candle is extinguished.

 

Full Moon Ceremony: 7 May, 2020: Your Invitation

full moon may 2020

 

Welcome. The following is an outline of a Full Moon Ceremony online, and you’re invited, and at home during lockdown you can participate and join in the the liturgy, or just let in ‘sink’ deep, from your own home, either ‘live’ or as a recording.

The twenty-five minute video broadcast will appear of my Facebook site (see here), and will still mean you can applaud the NHS workers, if in the UK. at 8pm.

Please check now if you’ve got full access to my Facebook site, and, if so, you’ll see some other videos recorded there. If you don’t see previous video or if you can’t gain full access then press the ‘friends’ link on my Facebook site, I’ll accept as soon as I can, and then try the link again to see if you can gain access then, in readiness for it. If you then can’t get access, or if there’s any ‘challenges’, please email me, at: tadhgtemp@googlemail.com.

I haven’t found a way to put a docx link here to simplify things so you can print out only the Order of the Ceremony – but I’m still working on it. Meanwhile, it maybe best to just print out the following so you can participate, but erase this paragraph and the three above this, before doing so.

 

FULL MOON CEREMONY
Order Of Ceremony 

Thursday, 7 May 2020, at 7.30pm (UK time)
Via Facebook video

GRACE GROVE, LONDON

 

For this ceremony you may need:

• A candle
• Safety matches

 

A CEREMONY FOR THE FULL MOON
Asaph Rite

Intention And Preface
Today our intention is to celebrate the Full Moon and the One Behind It All.
Lauded in many places, the Moon is personified by many. In Wales many know her in as Arianrhod (ah-ree-AHN-rhohd), meaning ‘silver wheel’. And so, to the ancient Celts and Druids, and latter-dy ones, too, she is known as the Silver Wheel that descends into the sea.

The time of the Full Moon can deeply affect us, revealing what was once buried and hidden on a personal and community level. It is a time of self-reflection.

Symbolically, as the Full Moon hangs in the darkened sky it has a way of revealing what is true and what isn’t, what is necessary and what isn’t, and in that there is release; an opportunity for our potential to manifest itself.

Our ancestors were much more in-tune with the night sky, and the cycles of the natural world, and would observe the moon and its phases, using them for practical purposes; for marking the days; for farming; to note the seasons; and for sacred ceremonies, rituals and celebrations.

This Full moon, in May, is known by some as the Milk Moon, or Planting Moon, and others know it as the Bright Moon, or Flower Moon.

Through tonight’s Full Moon Ceremony you will able to reconnect with the natural rhythm of the world which is present in everything, and to re-connect with deep wisdom and guidance in celebrating this Full Moon and the One Behind It All.

And so, come, participate, and join in the endless dance between the Earth and the Moon as we welcome the Bright Moon.

 
See yonder fire! It is the moon,
slowly rising o’er the eastern hill.
It glimmers on the forest tips,
and through the dewy foliage drips
in little rivulets of light,
and makes the heart in love with night.
(Henry Wordsworth Longfellow)

 
Light the Full Moon candle

On Rising
The Source of All is Spirit, and those who worship the Source of All must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24, The Book, paraphrase)

Calling The Quarters
Calling the Quarters, as we turn in sequence to face the four cardinal compass points, helps us to become fully present so we can deeply connect to the world around us, and create safe and sacred space for us all.

Facing East
Guardian of the East, Oh Ancient One of the air,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the wind.

All:
We welcome you.

Facing South
Guardian of the South, Oh Ancient One of the fire,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the flame

All:
We welcome you.

Facing West
Guardian of the West, Oh Ancient One of the waters,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the tides.

All:
We welcome you.

Facing North
Guardian of the North, Oh Ancient One of the earth,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the land.

All:
We welcome you

From the centre, perhaps adopting the orans posture
Guardian of all, Oh Ancient of Days,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with your power.

All:
We welcome you

.
Call For Peace
The call for peace is an affirmation that there is peace amongst us, now; and that peace is offered to the world though not all embrace this, today, but one day will do so.

Is there peace in the East?
All: There is peace in the East.

Is there peace in the South?
All: There is peace in the South.

Is there peace in the West?
All: There is peace in the West.

Is there peace in the North?
All: There is peace in the North.

Throughout the entire land there is peace.

 

The Ancestors Present
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance… and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us… (Hebrews 12:1 pt, The Book)

 
Praise And Gratitude
All/Some of the following praises may be used:

Praise be you, though all your creatures,
through Brother Sun,
through Sister Moon and the stars,
through Brother Wind,
through Sister Water
through Brother Fire,
through Sister Mother Earth.
(Francis of Assisi, Canticle of the Sun, excerpt/adapted)
Give thanks to the Maker of the heavenly lights—
The Maker’s faithful love endures forever.

 

The sun to rule the day,
The Maker’s faithful love endures forever.

And the moon and stars to rule the night.
The Maker’s faithful love endures forever.
(Psalm 136:7-9, The Book, paraphrase)

 

Acknowledging Regret
All/Some of the following may be used:

Creator of All, we have taken the natural world for granted,
and we have misused its resources and spoilt its beauty.
We have not fulfilled the great calling to be good stewards of the earth,
and its bounty we have distributed unequally and unfairly.

All: For this we are truly sorry.

Giver of life,
we acknowledge polluted air, and we groan with creation.
All: We regret.

Giver of Life,
we acknowledge rising global temperatures, and we groan with creation.
All: We regret.

Giver of Life,
we acknowledge poisoned water, and we groan with creation.
All: We regret.

Giver of life,
We acknowledge a plundered earth, and we groan with creation.
All: We regret.
Thanksgiving

Web-maker, Maker and Sustainer of the web of life,
who hears the voice of your children:
We thank you that in days of darkness, you sent light,
in the time of silence, a baby’s cry was heard,
and when we felt lost, you came to us,
for you did not leave us as orphans,
but, you are with us now.
We thank you.

The Work: A Story
The Silver Wheel, the Full Moon moves higher in the sky, and for our ancestors it would have been a miracle, and comforting to see the moon, regular and passing through its phases, and they would have told stories about it. Different cultures, in different countries, at different times would have told profound stories, stories containing deep wisdom or perhaps humour. Here is one story…

Take a few minutes to tell a relevant Moon story.

 

Various Prayers of Request
Some of the following prayers may be used:

Sustainer of the Earth and everything that is,
we bring our earnest requests to you for the plight of nature.

We think of Africa and its special needs, of human, animal and the environment.
We think of Antarctica and it special needs, of human, animal and the environment.
We think of Asia and its special needs, of human, animal and the environment.
We think of Australasia and ocean nations, and there special needs, of human, animal and the environment.
We think of Europe and it special needs, of human, animal and the environment.
We think of the Americas and there special needs, of human, animal and the environment.

 

We see continents and division, but the Moon looks down and sees but one planet.
May the Universe and the One Behind it all, hear our request.

Earth teach us freedom
as the eagle which soars in the sky.
Earth teach us regeneration
as the seed which rises in the spring.
Earth teach us to forget ourselves
as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach us to remember kindness
as dry fields weep with rain.
(Ute prayer, adapted)

Creator of All, grant us the wisdom to care for the earth and till it.
Help us to act now for the good of future generations and all your creatures.
Help us to become instruments of a new creation,
Founded on the covenant of your love.
(The Cry of the Earth, adapted).

Relevant Words
Some of the following sentences may be used during the Quiet Time Of Reflection or after:

Arianrhod in all her splendour, moves by an invisible hand
and wanders companionless, like a silver wheel in the sky. She ascends.
This full moon’s lucid beam dominates the now darkened canopy, and
there, in her smiling face, we find sweet, unbridled understanding.
She befriends.

Her ‘lesser light’ moves across the sky above the city, grey.
Oh, robed in splendour, her surge of silver-light fills every window pane
and skips across rooftops, trees, streams, fairy fires, and silent railway,
and falls unbeknown on those who sleep now, and refreshment regain.
A blessing.

Arianrhod, spill your beauty on a thousand Earthly races,
on happy flowers that bloom in a myriad of hues,
on laughing, smiling, sad and all up-looked faces,
who, in wilding spaces, drink your wine of sweet, bless’d fallen dew.
A gracious infilling.

And paled now is her light,
as onward she moves lower in the sky. For the sun, opportune.
But, for now, dear Arianrhod reigns with love. She is mistress of the night.
A timely witness sent by the Truth who is beyond the Moon.
A glorious remembrance.
(Tadhg Jonathan)

Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light,
Thou seemest most charming to my sight;
As I gaze upon thee in the sky so high,
A tear of joy does moisten mine eye.

Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light,
Thou cheerest the Esquimau/Eskimo in the night;
For thou lettest him see to harpoon the fish,
And with them he makes a dainty dish.

Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light,
Thou cheerest the farmer in the night,
and makes his heart beat high with delight
As he views his crops by the light in the night.

Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light,
Thou cheerest the eagle in the night,
And lettest him see to devour his prey
And carry it to his nest away.

Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light,
Thou cheerest the mariner in the night
As he paces the deck alone,
Thinking of his dear friends at home.

Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light,
Thou cheerest the weary traveller in the night;
For thou lightest up the wayside around
To him when he is homeward bound.

Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light,
Thou cheerest the lovers in the night
As they walk through the shady groves alone,
Making love to each other before they go home.
(William Topaz McGonagall)

Once upon a time I heard
That the flying moon was a Phoenix bird;
Thus she sails through windy skies,
Thus in the willow’s arms she lies;
Turn to the East or turn to the West
In many trees she makes her nest.
When she’s but a pearly thread
Look among birch leaves overhead;
When she dies in yellow smoke
Look in a thunder-smitten oak;
But (in May/now) when the moon is full,
Bright as water and white as wool,
Look for her where she loves to be,
Asleep in a high magnolia tree.
(Elinor Wylie)

Dreaming serenely up the sky
Until exultantly on high,
It shimmers with superb delight,
The silver navel of the night.
We are all like the bright moon, we still have our darker side.
(Kahlil Gibran)

The moon does not fight. It attacks no one. It does not worry. It does not try to crush others. It keeps to its course, but by its very nature, it gently influences. What other body could pull an entire ocean from shore to shore? The moon is faithful to its nature and its power is never diminished.
(Ming-Dao Deng)

I love to think that animals and humans and plants and fishes and trees and stars and the moon are all connected.
(Gloria Vanderbilt)

Always remember we are under the same sky, looking at the same moon. (Maxine Lee)

The moon, full-orbed, forsakes her watery cave,
and lifts her lovely head above the wave;
The snowy splendours of her modest ray
stream o’er the glistening waves, and quivering play;
Around her, glittering on the heaven’s arched brow,
unnumbered stars, enclosed in azure, glow,
thick as the dew-drops of the April dawn,
or May-flowers crowding o’er the daisy lawn;
The canvas whitens in the silvery beam,
and with a mild pale-red the pendants gleam;
The masts’ tall shadows tremble o’er the deep;
The peaceful winds a holy silence keep;
The watchman’s carol, echoed from the prows,
alone, at times, awakes the still repose.
(Willam Julius Mickle)

 

Commitment
Warm-winged Spirit, brooding over creation,
rushing wind and fire,
we commit ourselves to work with you
and renew the world.
(GreenAnglicans, part, adapted)
Source of all our being
and the goal of all our longing,
we believe and trust in you.
The whole earth is alive with your glory,
And all that has life is sustained by you.
We commit ourselves to cherish the your world
And to follow your ways.
(GreenAnglicans, adapted)

Closing The Quarters
Facing East
Guardian of the East, Oh Ancient One of the air,
we thank you for your presence with us today.

All:
We thank you.

Facing South
Guardian of the South, Oh Ancient One of the fire,
we thank you for your presence with us today.

All:
We thank you.

Facing West
Guardian of the West, Oh Ancient One of the waters,
we thank you for your presence with us today.

All: We thank you.

Facing North
Guardian of the North, Oh Ancient One of the earth,
we thank you for your presence with us today..

All:
We thank you.

From the centre, perhaps adopting the orans posture
Guardian of all, Oh Ancient of Days,
we thank you for your presence with us today..


All:
We thank you.

 

Final Blessings
One of the final blessings may be used:

May the beautiful full moon
light up your face,
light up your heart,
and light up you soul.

And may the One Behind It All,
whose image is etched upon the moon,
smile kindly upon you and those whom you love

Extinguish the Full Moon candle

 

[Note: The moon photo, above, is copyrighted by Pennie Ley, and used with kind permission. Gratitude to Pennie [Link]]

 

Copyright © 2020 Tadhg Jonathan Gardner (https://tadhgtalks.me)

Arianrhod: Full Moon Poem. And Your Full Moon Ceremony Invite

full moon ceremony may 2020

The moon by many ancient tribes and faiths of yesterday personified the moon, and for many this continues today –  latter-day Celts and Druids, and others, as well as writers, poets, and romantics. In Wales she was, and is. known as Arianrhod (meaning silver wheel).

And, with the next full moon this Thursday, 7 May 2020, below is a poem to celebrate the event.

There will also be a Full Moon Ceremony ‘broadcasted at 7.30pm (UK time) this Thursday,  ‘on my Facebook site, here, and you’re invited! That link will take you to my FaceBook site, and if you can see many previous recorded broadcasts then you know you’re set for the Full Moon Ceremony. If you only see a brief outline and little or no recorded broadcasts you will probably need to press the ‘friends’ link button (from my Facebook site. I’ll accept the next time I’m online and then you should be able to view and/or participate at home, ready for the upcoming Ceremony. A printable ceremony outline will appear within a couple of days.

Meanwhile, the poem about the moon, penned by me a few years ago.

Arianrhod in all her splendour, moves by an invisible hand
and wanders companionless, like a silver wheel in the sky. She ascends.
This full moon’s lucid beam dominates the now darkened canopy, and
there, in her smiling face, we find sweet, unbridled understanding.
She befriends.

Her ‘lesser light’ moves across the sky above the city, grey.
Oh, robed in splendour, her surge of silver-light fills every window pane
and skips across rooftops, trees, streams, fairy fires, and silent railway,
and falls unbeknown on those who sleep now, and refreshment regain.
A blessing.

Arianrhod, spill your beauty on a thousand Earthly races,
on happy flowers that bloom in a myriad of hues,
on laughing, smiling, sad and all up-looked faces,
who, in wilding spaces, drink your wine of sweet, bless’d fallen dew.
A gracious infilling.

And paled now is her light,
as onward she moves lower in the sky. For the sun, opportune.
But, for now, dear Arianrhod reigns with love. She is mistress of the night.
A timely witness sent by the Truth who is beyond the Moon.
A glorious remembrance.

 

Bright blessings to you and yours during these difficult, ‘lockdown’ days, Tadhg

[Note: The moon photo, above, is copyrighted by Pennie Ley, and used with kind permission. Gratitude to Pennie [Link]]

 

Celebrating Alban Eiler: Spring Equinox [Ephemera]

CELEBRATING ALBAN EILER

It’s spring, and the time of being half way through the season is fast approaching.

Yes, the Spring equinox (at least in the northern hemisphere) edges closer and closer, and this year falls on Friday, 20 March 2020. It’s a time of rejoicing as new energy is poured out and life in its fullness grows. Is it any wonder that the church in centuries gone by ‘overlaid’ Easter at this time of year – Easter Sunday, this year, being 12 April.

Blessed are you, Boundary- Crosser,
for breaking through the hard surfaces,
for coming in the quiet like the birdsong,
on the edge of night and day.

I wake into this day with you.
or
I lie down to sleep resting in you.

(Tess Ward, ‘The Celtic Wheel Of The Year)

The stars in the sky mark the seasonal boundaries, and as the sun traverses the sky in a great circle throughout the year, it crosses boundaries, and ushers in, not just a new season, but new thought and vitality. Who doesn’t feel  (generally) more energised waking up on a March morning than, say, compared to  a December morning.

’Spring adds new life, and new beauty to all that is.’ (Jessica Harrelson)

Many groups will celebrate the event by nominating a spring maiden with a basket of flowers or eggs, or both. The eggs representing new life, and the fertility of the Earth and creation. Days are getting longer, the weather is warming up a little, and the seeds of winter can now shoot forth. It’s getting lighter!

In Wales, and to many others, the deep name of the Spring equinox is Alban Eilir, which means ‘The Light of the Earth’, as light and life take precedence. Not just animal life or plant life, but all life as many ancients, and Celts and Druids and others today. see life in all living things, from rocks and stones, to rivers and springs, plants and trees – all life is sacred.

’I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’ (Luke 19.40, The Book)

The ancient Celts and others, even today (myself included) believed that the physical, spiritual and mental levels were intertwined, connected in perfect balance. And the Spring equinox (equinox meaning equal night) is the time of year when the days, in getting longer and longer, are equal in length to the night just for that one point in time (until later on in the year). After that,spring days are longer than the night, until midsummer.

So, do celebrate it. I know of few people that will celebrate it on the evening of Wednesday, 20 March as the ancients started their new days on the preceding evening, and a few groups/groves etc) will be celebrating it on the following Sunday.

‘The beautiful spring came, and when nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also’. (Harriet Ann Jacobs)

With celebration in mind, below is a song (penned by me some time ago), and set to an old, memorable, Irish/Celtic tune. The words can be recited and used by you as a celebratory poem or spoken as liturgy, but if you use the words as a song it can sung to the old, wonderful and mysterious Gaelic tune ‘Siuil a Ruin’, (click here for the tune – in that recording there is a musical preamble and the actual tune, which ‘fit’ the words below, starts at about fifteen seconds into the recording). It is a song of praise about nature, and to the One behind it all, That Which Is Larger Than Ourselves.

Lord of the Spring we honour you,
we thank you for na-ture’s green,
(for) the Earth’s beauty no-ow seen.

Light and darkness dance together well,
in perfect, balanced humility,
in flower, plant and mighty tree.

Chorus: Slowly, slowly the Circle turns
and nature’s smile is seen by all.
Ho-ow is nature good to us.

Sacred time as the moon rises high
New life comes from that which did die,
new birth comes to us in the by and by.

Wolf and lamb, lion and leopard, too
Shall live one day in sweet harmony
As nature moves , and the Circle turns.

Chorus: Slowly, slowly the Circle turns
and nature’s smile is seen by all.
Ho-ow is nature good to us.

How will you celebrate Alban Eiler? I haven’t decided yet, but I may go for a long country walk and experience the elements – the wind and rain, sunshine, and rocky terrain. Or, go somewhere with a friend of two and experience ‘dragon energy’, those liminal places where we feel closer to the Other. Maybe have breakfast with them in a rural spot (but if you aren’t able to leave an urban environment you can still go for an early town or city walk, meet friends in the park and have breakfast in a local café.) I might make  small shrine of spring flowers – buying them rather than picking them (which may be illegal in many areas). Or, maybe I’ll sit quietly near a large, old and wise tree and meditate. I’ll let you know. But, I do intend to come back to the theme of the Spring equinox as we still have some time to explore its significance to us today.

[Note: The header photo is of one of the guardians of the Forest – one of a number of dramatic sculptures placed in Thetford Forest, which straddles the north of Suffolk and the southern park of Norfolk, in the UK. They are designed to promote understanding about the need to protect our woodlands and forests, and nature in general. Designed by Tom Piper MBE, and  sculptured by Lisa Wright, I visited these awesome sculptures last year, and they remain in place until the end of May 2020. See here for more details.]

Ooops! Apologies for having the equinox date wrong. Now corrected, Tadhg

You Are Dust, Stardust: Reflections On A Wednesday

STARDUST REFLECTIONS ON A WEDNESDAY

If you’re in the United Kingdom and hold to those old traditions and customs then you will know that yesterday was Ash Wednesday. The day before, Tuesday, commonly known as Pancake Day, was when, so it is said, in years gone by,  it was the day to use up the flour as Lent, a time of fasting, was about to begin. And what better way to use up that flour than by making pancakes, coupled with sugar, syrup and/or fruit, and lemon juice. As a wee lad I can remember trying to flip the pancake over as it cooked in the frying pan and usually (but not always) getting it right. Great fun and a good tradition that many, even today, experience.

But, yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the day when, apparently, we are to remember the fact that we’re dust, animated dust, earth, or (poetically) clay! It’s a time of reflection, to consider our humility and frailty. And, what follows is a reflection on that!

We are (earthly) dust!

The ancients, living in a pre-industrialised, pre-scientific, pre-computerised age would have been more easily be able to reflect on this. It was there evident in their daily life: the cycle of birth, growth, death, re-birth etc. The changing of the seasons, growth from the soil, abundance and then decay as plant matter rotted and became fodder for the next year’s growth. All this would have been known to them, and death and dust would have been very familiar to them. As would their humility to the forces of nature, and their frailty.

‘…Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.’
(Genesis 3.19b, The Book)

It might seem morbid to dwell on this, but we live in an age of scientific marvels and do things in such a way that the experience of witnessing the demise of those around us is minimised, that we can become forgetful that we are dust! We are frail creatures! And, we only have a limited time here! Even if we don’t uphold the Ash Wednesday tradition, I do believe there is some mileage in thinking upon it, and what it means to us.

But, you know me – there’s more – and life here is followed by a returning to something else that continues onward, which some call the Summerland, heaven, elysium, arcadia, valhalla, nirvana or Jannah.

But, it’s good to remember that we are dust and will return to dust one day, for then it will encourage us to use the time we have here even better than we might hitherto have done. In this form, we only have now! And, Ash Wednesday is a great time to reflect upon that.

‘In reality, we are all travellers – even explorers of mortality’, (Thomas S Monson)

However if you didn’t get around to reflecting upon that fact today, and maybe wanted to have some form of quiet meditation, or liturgy, or poem reading to add to the event, you can always do that tomorrow. It’s intentionality rather than the exact timing that is important.

But, there’s more.

But, there’s always a flip side to these ideas, and always a balancing thought. We are dust, and will one day return to dust, and so we’re encouraged to make good use of the time. But. It’s not all negative. Apart from the Summerland, heaven, elysium etc, we can view our ‘dustly’ composition in another way.

We are stardust!

Yes, many of you will know that I’m an amateur astronomer. Nothing pleases me more than gazing up at the moon and its phases, the progression of planets across the night sky, and the constellations that rise, like Orion denoting the winter months are here, and fall in the sky as the seasons change. They are are great way to mark the seasons, and something the ancients, our spiritual ancestors, would have been doing for several millennia, quite naturally. Unlike them, I’m be blessed with such ‘tools’ as a Meade LX200 12 inch telescope (computer controlled), a planisphere, and a star atlas. But, the awe of gazing up and looking back into the distant past is always, always thrilling, as it must have been to them.

We are connected!

In looking up, we look at the Universe and a myriad of points of lights which are stars and galaxies. But, in doing so, we often make the mistake as though there’s some invisible barrier between us and the Universe. Yes, we live on the Earth and have a biosphere that makes life possible, but anyone looking this way, say from Alpha Centauri, would see our sun as just another point of light in their night sky, and not differentiate it from the Universe.

‘We are stardust,
we are golden,
and we’ve got to get ourselves
back to the garden’

(Joni Mitchell, Woodstock)

In many senses, there is no barrier, no separation, and the idea that the Universe is ‘out there’ and we are ‘down here’ is an illusion – and probably one that our ego quite likes as it makes us feel different, and therefore special.

But, the greater revelation, I believe, is to consider that we’re so special that we’re no different, in essence, to the Universe and have a special part to play in it. We are stardust, we are in the Universe and the Universe is in us, and we are the conscious part of the Universe looking back to itself. We are the stuff of stars! Star dust.

‘We are stardust, in the highest exalted way,
Called by the universe, reaching out, to the universe,
We are stardust, in the highest exalted way,
Reaching out, to the universe, with these methods and tools of science,

We are part of this universe,
We are in this universe,
The universe is in us,
Yes, the universe is in us’.

(We Are Stardust, Symphony of Science. Hear the song/see the video here.)

There are different ways of thinking about our connectedness to the Universe. The ancients celebrated the season and they believed what happened ‘up there’ affects ‘down here’. I don’t think they were far off the mark. NASA regularly montiors the sun for sunspots and coronal mass ejections of plasma, for instance, and issues warnings about ‘space weather’ which can affect national and corporate satellites, GPS, and even national electric grids. Others, may have ritualized that connection as in the first few chapters of Genesis, and still others by telling the story of Indra’s web (see here).

And, so today, as you read this do remember you are dust: connected, cosmic star dust!

 

The Curious Incident Of Brigid & The Bathwater: Imbolc/Candlemas [Re-visited]

20180122 THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF ST BRIGID AND THE BATHWATER...

The circle continues to turn. Imbolc, St Brigid’s Day, or Candlemas, as some call it, celebrated on (or near) 2nd February comes ever closer. Spring is in the air. It’s a wonderful time of the year.

If we’re still in the season of winter, and we (technically) are (as it started on 31 October, marked by the festival of Samhain, also called All Saint’s Eve by some, and progressed to its ‘height’ with the winter solstice) We are now coming to the end of that winter season.

Imbolc, 2 February (or a day earlier than that to some), marks the end of winter, and is the first day of spring. Yes, something, some change are in the air.

‘There is a delightful phrase in Gealic, ‘Ag borradh’, meaning that there is a quivering life about to break forth.’ John O’Donohue

And, if today is anything to go by – it was so relatively mild, weatherwise – spring is here, or is ‘just around the corner’. I could detect a slight ambient temperature increase today, a change in the prominent wind direction, you could almost smell it in the air. Something had changed. The circle continues to turn and this season is coming to an end.

And with 2 February in mind, our thoughts turn to Brigid of Kildare.

Brigid is viewed in differing ways, by different people. To some Brigid is an ancient Celtic goddess. The goddess of fire. Indeed, a sacred fire burned in Kildare in ancient time, as was kept burning by priestesses. In this way it was thought herds would be protected and harvests would be plentiful.

To others, Brigid is a saint, and at the time of Candlemas, candles are blessed (and lit by some), and Brigid is remembered as one who symbolises motherhood, new birth, the springing forth of seeds and, in the recent past, some would bless (even) agricultural tools on that day. It’s spring (or nearly, so), after all.

‘I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around at all the flowers, and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen’. Anne Lamott

Yes, and you know I like stories, and here’s another about Brigid. She was known for her hospitality.

For the weary traveller no expense was spared by Brigid.

On one occasion, going about her day, she came across some very tired, hungry and thirsty lepers. The plight of those dear people had already touched Brigid’s heart, and she made them as comfortable as she could. She ensured that they had had some food, but were thirsty.

One of those near to Brigid came to her and broke the bad news news: there was no beer for those thirsty lepers.

Brigid was deeply concerned, and it is said, immediately sprung into action. At the back of some nearby buildings she found an old bath, full of dirty bath water.

She put her hand into the bathwater and blessed it. As the attendant drew off pints from that bath they found that it had changed! No longer dirty bath water, but the finest, freshest and coolest beer you could ever imagine, which was served to all.

The lepers and others were delighted, and had more than enough to drink, and there was plenty of beer left over.

You will have to forgive me – flippant only for a moment or two – but isn’t Brigid the kind of person you would like at all your parties?

I know sceptics may ridicule the bathwater-into-beer story, but there are some deep and profound truths ‘buried’ in it, if we take time to discover them. The need to be hospitable, and the joy in being so. The fact that we live in a world of abundance. The ‘power’ that one good person has. The Universe (God, the Elements, The Source of All) is friendly. The power in a blessing etc. These are all wonderful truths that are ‘unpacked’ in this unusual and delightful story about dear Brigid.

‘Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems’. Rainer Maria Rilke

Spring is close.

However, you view Brigid, it may be good to give thanks for her example, for this season of rest, to look forward to the coming season of spring and the springing forth of plants etc, for growth, and perhaps to light a candle. Fire, however, you view dear Brigid, is a worthy symbol of her, and the lighting of a candle on her day a notable action to do.

And now, I’m off to do just that: Light a candle in remembrance of Brigid, think deeply on her example, say a few words (springtime poems and prayers), and seek to elements of her example to my daily life. Won’t you join me?

Celebrating Spring: Imbolc / Candlmas: Ephemera

imbolc snowdrop-4026893_960_720

It’s nearly that time. Half way between the Winter solstice and the Spring Equinox is the beginning of spring. It’s called Imbolc, or Candlemas by many Churches.

And, so the circle continues to turn, the Earth continues on its (elliptical) orbit around the sun, and yet another wonderful, major festival is almost upon us. It’s time to celebrate in large ways and small, in groups and by yourself.

It’s intentionality that’s important, so I would encourage you to do something this Imbolc, and to enjoy it, to celebrate, to give thanks to That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves, the Friend.

Event: Imbolc (favoured pronunciation ‘ih-mulk’), Brigid’s Day, Candlemas
Date: 1 or 2 February (but many will celebrate it on Sunday, 3 February this year)
Thought: ‘It’s the start of spring. Let’s celebrate’
Incense: Rosemary, Frankincense, Myrrh, Cinnamon
Decorations: Corn Dolly, Spring Flowers, St Brigid’s Cross, Candles
Colours: White, Orange, Red

Imbolc, in the Celtic seasonal calendar marks the beginning of the lambing season and signals the stirrings of new life. It is traditionally the great festival and honouring of Brigid (Brighid, Bride, Brigit). She is one of my favourites.

About Brigid

Brigid, so loved as a pagan Goddess that her worship was woven into the Christian church as St Bridget, and rightly remembered and revered. To some she is a Goddess of healing, poetry, of fire, of the Sun and of the Hearth. To others, a saint. What matters is that she is remembered. It is awesome that such a person can unite us in deep spirituality, if we let that deep spirituality take hold.

Brigid is the keeper of a sacred springs and wells; she is the patroness of sweet water. Water is the nourisher. Water, sustainer of life on earth. And water, together with fire 9a symbol denoting Brigid), are the instruments of the forge. Brigid is the goddess of the forge and smith craft. Heat and fire tempered by water. Perfect balance.

She is also said bring fertility to the land and its people and is closely connected to midwives and new-born babies.

Symbols of Brigid

With the coming of spring, the following are some symbols that you might like to consider in some form of quiet time, some form of meditation on that day, and there are also some ideas listed below of things that you can do, things you might like to bring into the house and/or put on your home altar, such as:

Snowdrops. The first gift of Spring in the bleakness of Winter.

Candle(s). Imbolc is a Fire Festival and fire of all kinds is associated with Brigid – the fire of creativity, the protective hearth fire, and her fire wheel – the Brigid Cross, which heralds her, according to some, as a Sun Goddess. A lit candle as you have your meal or as you gaze or meditate upon it, is a wonderful way to celebrate her and the return of spring, to give thanks to the One Behind It All, the Source of All.

Brigid’s Cross. This is a traditional fire wheel symbol – found at the hearths of homes throughout Ireland and beyond as a symbol of protection. A customer in the shop recounted finding a hearth in Ireland, in recent years, adorned with over 200 Brigid Crosses – 200 years in the life of a hearth and a family, overlit and protected by Brigid.
Brigid Doll. A very old tradition involved the making of a Brigid doll which can be included in ceremony and/or placed in ‘Bride’s Bed’ to bring fertility and good fortune to the home.

If you’re interested in making a St Brigid’s cross, do click here.

The Serpent. In Celtic mythology Brigid was associated with an awakening hibernating serpent which emerged from its lair at Imbolc. Traditionally serpents were associated with creativity and inspiration – the powerful Kundalini energy of the Eastern Mysteries. Paths of earth energy were called serpent paths and at Imbolc they are stirred from their slumber. And in the Hebrew Testament a bronze serpent is lifted up and all who gazed upon it were healed.

Sheep. Brigid’s festival is at the beginning of lambing – you might be fortunate to try eat ewe’s milk cheese!

The seed. From the seed new life sprouts. And you might like to consider planting a seed, or more. It need not be an expensive plant, but a packet of inexpensive seeds that you might like to grow on a piece of common ground, in your garden or in your window-box.

Blackberry. Sacred to Brigid, the leaves and berries are used to attract prosperity and healing.
Ginger. Ginger revitalises and stimulates the ‘fire within’

Prayers for Imbolc & Brigid

Praise to you O Caring one,
midwife of our newness and growth,
nurturing, generous and milky kind,
yet defiant as the snowdrop in a cold climate,
tend the fresh shoots of our emerging as we set foot this day.

(Tess Ward, Celtic Wheel of the Year 2007)

And

O most noble Greenness, rooted in the sun,
shining forth in streaming splendour upon the wheel of Earth.
No earthly sense or being can comprehend you.
You are encircled by the very arms of Divine mysteries.
You are radiant like the red of dawn!
You glow like the incandescence of the sun!

Hildegard von Bingen
English version by Jerry Dybdal and Matthew Fox

And

For the cycle of life
Which brings death and rebirth
Response: We rejoice in the promise of Spring

For lengthening days
And sunlight’s warmth upon the soil
Response: We rejoice in the promise of Spring

For a snowdrop’s beauty
Reflecting its Creator’s artistry
Response: We rejoice in the promise of Spring

For new born lambs
Their joy and exuberance
Response: We rejoice in the promise of Spring

For all of creation
And the majesty of its Creator
Response: We rejoice in the promise of Spring

Copyright © John Birch, 2016. A link to his page here.

And, so this Imbolc or Candlemas my encouragement is for you to celebrate it and give thanks to the Source of All. If you want ideas about celebration meals to mark the festival please see here.

Meanwhile, the Green blessings of the season be you and those whom you love. Tadhg.

 

 

January’s Full Moon: The Quiet Moon: Ephemera

moon blog

To the ancients, ancient Celts and Druids, Wiccans, pagans and other ancient tribes-people the moon played a great part in their calendar, their daily and spiritual calendar, working and social life. It governed, not just the progression of the month, but also related life to the seasons, to the days’ length, to the planting and reaping of seed in agricultural communities. To them is was also a mystical body, shrouded in secrets, and many cultures have lively and interesting myths about the Moon.

’The moon looks upon many night flowers; the night flowers see but one moon.’ Jean Ingelow

And yet today many tend to minimise their focus on the moon. And even then, many of those who look at it do so only from a scientific viewpoint, and many urban dwellers may miss its birthing and dying and re-birthing all together, as it moves across the sky, blocked by city high-rise buildings, as it faithfully revolves around the Earth every month.

It is worth making the effort to travel to a less-cluttered environment to gaze at the Moon at its fulness. To ponder, to wonder, to give thanks.

‘When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.’ Mahatma Gandhi

For the astronomically inclined the Moon orbits the Earth in the prograde direction and completes one revolution relative to the stars in about 27.3 days (a sidereal month), and one revolution relative to the Sun in about 29.5 days (a synodic month). But, there’s more.

Yes, the first full moon of the year occurs on Friday, 10 January 2020 at 7.21pm (UTC/Greenwich Mean Time) in the constellation of Gemini.

It will appear low in the eastern sky at that time, near the stars Castor and Polux (The Twins), and close by the Moon will be the star Wasat (Arabic for ‘the middle’), and interestingly it ‘sits’ in the middle of the waist of Castor and Polux. As the night progresses so the Moon will climb higher in the night sky.

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

To the Celts this full Moon was/is known as the Quiet Moon, but the Wolf Moon to those of medieval England and ancient and latter-day Wiccan. Others may know it as the Cold Moon, the Ice Moon or the Old Moon. But, there’s even more.

Some time ago I penned this poem about the moon:

Arianrhod in all her splendour, moves by an invisible hand
and wanders companionless, like a silver wheel in the sky. She ascends.
This full moon’s lucid beam dominates the now darkened canopy, and
there, in her smiling face, we find sweet, unbridled understanding.
She befriends.

Her ‘lesser light’ moves across the sky above the city, grey.
Oh, robed in splendour, her surge of silver-light fills every window pane
and skips across rooftops, trees, streams, fairy fires, and silent railway,
and falls unbeknown on those who sleep now, and refreshment regain.
A blessing.

Arianrhod, spill your beauty on a thousand Earthly races,
on happy flowers that bloom in a myriad of hues,
on laughing, smiling, sad and all up-looked faces,
who, in wilding spaces, drink your wine of sweet, bless’d fallen dew.
A gracious infilling.

And paled now is her light,
as onward she moves lower in the sky. For the sun, opportune.
But, for now, dear Arianrhod reigns with love. She is mistress of the night.
A timely witness sent by the Truth who is beyond the Moon.
A glorious remembrance.

I’m not sure if you will seek out the Moon this Friday (and the weekend, why not?), but my encouragement is for you to do so. Gaze in silence for a few minutes at that bright disk with its smiling face looking back, maybe verbalise a prayer (see below), or raise a glass to it, and ponder on the awesomeness of the Moon and the Moon-maker.

O Divine Presence
Bless to me the lustre of your signs and wonders,
traces of our final home in land and sea and sky.
As you have made the mark of heaven in a human face,
may I see the imprint of your family likeness in every living thing
that your blessing might radiate
each day and each night,
until heaven and earth are One.

The Celtic Wheel Of The Year, Tess Ward

Wishing you and those whom you love the blessings of the Moon-maker

Tadhg

 

 

The White Stone Ritual: A Time Of Beginnings

20191229 WHITE STONE RITUAL

It’s coming up to the start of a new year, indeed, a new decade and the following White Stone Ritual may prove useful  to you (as an individual or group) in starting the new year.

Although the ritual can be used, say, within the first week of the new year or later, or at the start of a new project or on a feast day or event, as it can be adapted in many other ways to be used on many other occasions).

To recap, we recently looked at the Burning Bowl Ritual. That’s a form of ‘letting go’ ritual which can be performed in a group setting or by an individual. More can be gleaned by clicking here.

And, now having obtained some kind of ending, of closure, the next ritual is about moving forward, positively – it’s the White Stone ritual.

 ’When you become the image of your own imagination, it’s the most powerful thing you could ever do.’ RuPaul

Outline
For the White Stone Ritual you will need a white stone, but any palm-sized stone will do, and you can improvise with paper etc if no stone is to hand. Be inventive. It’s intentionality that is important, here. You will also need a pen, preferably a marker pen or pencil.

In this White Stone ritual we are doing two things.  We are meditating to glean what it is we need that is positive: a new name to denote a new start (and this could be a spiritual name to run alongside our given name),  or a word to focus upon for the coming year or so, and then, secondly, to take part in a simple but profound ritual of writing that onto the white stone (or improvised item).

White Stone: Significance
The symbolism attached to the white stone is ancient and profound. It is said that, in antiquity, when a prisoner was freed from prison he (or she) would be given a white stone. By this stone he/she could prove they had served their time, that something significant had happened (that is, that they were in prison, but are now free), and could look forward to the future with some positivity.

 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says…I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’ Revelation 2:17 (part), The Book

The White Stone Ritual, then, is about new beginnings, a new name or spiritual focus, positivity, moving forward, and about energy.

 The White Stone Ritual
You may want some sacred music playing in the background, and/or recite some relevant spiritual verses or a relevant poem (some of which are used throughout this article at various points, but if you use them you may need to ‘relocate’ the words/poems used in this article to different places within your ceremony for it to ‘flow’).

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

And nothing happens!
Nothing…Silence…Waves…

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

Juan Ramón Jiménez

You might want to recite some words of liturgy. Be open, be adaptable, but don’t disqualify yourself or belittle the ritual in any way for any lack perceived, for at the end of the day a simple but (improvised) ritual can have a significant effect of positivity and power.

So:

  • Close your eyes, and hold the white stone, or other stone, or small piece of paper in the palm of your left hand and place your right hand over it. Take a slow, deep breath and exhale. Meditate. Remember, we might be asking for a spiritual name, but a name  can also mean the ‘nature of’ something, your spiritual identity or spiritual focus
  • Ask yourself quietly, ‘What is the main spiritual quality that is need to move forward ?”
  • Take a slow, deep breath again and exhale. Now, think of one or more words that describe your highest spiritual essence. Listen intently.

‘I have great respect for the past. If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going. I have respect for the past, but I’m a person of the moment. I’m here, and I do my best to be completely centred at the place I’m at, then I go forward to the next place.’ Maya Angelou

  • Just allow a few words to ‘bubble up’. There is no need to force the name or the words of your intended spiritual focus. Just allow it to surface from your depths. It can be words such as: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, forbearance, gentleness, faith, self-control, energy etc.

‘Words are containers for power, you choose what kind of power they carry.’ Joyce Meyer

  • You can select a word or two now (but, if circumstances dictate, then you may choose to change it later, so the name or word(s) that come to you today can be kept, or altered depending on the guidance you receive from the bay kohl, that still small voice.
  • When you’re ready, you may open your eyes.
  • Write your name or the words given to you in that time of meditation on the white stone with a marker or pencil (if the ink runs off, don’t worry. It may be aesthetically nice for the word(s) to remain on the stone (or paper etc) but it’s intentionality that counts. You wrote it once, the ink didn’t remain as a word or more, but you did it! And, that intentionality, not the inks permanence or impermanence that is important.

’I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it until it begins to shine.’ Emily Dickinson

  • Reflect on the name or words that came to you and on the significance of the whole white stone exercise. Place your stone  or paper in a prominent location now, and over the next few days and weeks, so you will be reminded of your new name, or new spiritual focus.
  • You might want to just sit/stand there for a few minutes. Something wonderful has occurred, whether you know it or not. A new beginning is underway. A new determination has been rooted in your psyche, and new energy is at your disposal, energy from the Source of All.

’Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.’ Abraham Lincoln

Earthing
This ritual, like any other ritual moves us from ‘mechanical time’ to the realm of sacred-time, sacred space. In ‘returning’ it is important to mark that returning occasion with a physical action. If outside, you might like to walk about a little. If indoors, then a small hand clap to mark your return is sufficient. Some small, token, physical action is important to end the ritual.

Blessings, Tadhg.

[To ensure you’re kept informed of other rituals and articles in the future, do ‘sign up’ on Tadhg’s  ‘TadhgTalks’ blog or his FaceBook site, or email him, or drop him a line to say ‘hi’.]

 

 

The Burning Bowl Ritual: The Year’s End

20191227 BURNING BOWL RITUAL

As we come to the end of the year, you might find the Burning Bowl ritual useful.

‘Attachment is the source of all suffering.’ Buddha

Many of us (if not all of us) have things that seem to cling to us and hold us back. Attachments.  It could be something that some have said to us, or unfortunate events that we’ve experienced, inappropriate reactions, uninspiring thoughts, outdated ideas that have served their purpose in the past but which now serve no useful purpose, or negativity etc. All these seem to cling to us, and other things, too,  and can hold us back from being who we are meant to be.

Our reactions to life events, if we’re not careful, can become something like a weight that clings to us, that weighs us down, but it is so subtle sometimes, or we’re so used to the same actions and reactions, that we are hardly conscious of it.

‘The original, shimmering self gets buried so deep that most of us end up hardly living out of it at all. Instead we live out all the other selves, which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather’. Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets.

This is where the Burning Bowl Ritual can prove to be useful.

It is a form of ‘letting go’ ritual which can be performed in a group setting or by an individual, and what follows is the rationale behind it, its purpose, along with some resources that you can use or adapt, as needed.

If it is time to release that which is holding you back (and there are ‘seasons’ so there is no pressure to perform the ritual as a ‘must do’ at this time), then do read on.

A Burning Bowl ritual is a transformative ritual.

It is traditionally performed on New Year’s Eve or other meaningful holidays or dates. There’s some flexibility here, and so, with the end of the year coming up you might like to move the ritual around by a few days (or more). It is a good way to release that which we’re clinging to and which is unhealthy: the past, negativity, or pain, of dealing with old resentments, hurt, grudges, regrets, or suffering. It is a another step on the adventure of becoming who you really are, and embracing the benefits now.

However, as you prepare or, indeed, perform the Burning Bowl ritual it is important to try to be in a positive, peaceful mood.

In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself. – Deepak Chopra

It’s a celebration of the end of all that is holding us back, and the release into something new.

Step-by-Step Guide

Essentially, you start by writing what you want to let go of, and then you’ll burn that piece of paper. But, there’s more. So for this you will need:

• Paper
• Pen
• Matches or a lighter
• A safe, burn-friendly surface (like a metal or glass bowl, fireplace, etc.)

Safety
Do not burn something valuable out of spite, like legal documents, photographs, or something that could be important to another person. It is a symbolic act, and so writing on a small piece of paper will suffice.

Also avoid burning something that is highly flammable or something that can cause you harm, and any burning should take place in a safe area outside. Ensure you, others and the environment are safe,

Use a large enough unburnable bowl or a container (like metal), and do be aware of your environment or surroundings. Ensure no harm.

Intentionality
Throughout the burning ceremony, remain calm and grounded in your intent. The ceremony should not be performed to shake away anger or frustration. There is no ‘wrestling’ with negative emotions or feelings – it is a ritual of serenity.

You might like to think or voice out loud your intentions, such as:

• I am peaceful
• I am grounded
• I let go of attachments
• I find peace when I let go

The Four Quarters
For those that like to acknowledge the four quarters, the cardinal compass points the abovementioned could be recited as you face, first phrase to the west, the turn and recite the second phrase to the north, the third to the east, and the fourth to the south. The reason for ending facing the south is that symbolically south represents fire (the main element in this ritual), but you can start or finish at other cardinal points as you feel are appropriate.

When your intentions are clear and focused, you can determine what you want out of this ceremony.

Grounding
Here, you can sit down or stand firmly with both feet on the ground for a few moments until you feel present and grounded. As negativity or tension releases from your body, let it pass. Stand quietly in prayer or meditation, while you honour your commitment to change.

Writing & Burning
Write down what you’re ready to let go of on your piece of paper. It could be a word or a phrase that sums up that which is holing you back. It may be best just to spend a minute or two doing this, and avoid writing more than a few words. Being succinct is good.

‘Nothing releases like forgive. Nothing renews like forget.’ Ray A Davis

Now that you have listed what you want to let go of, hold it for a few minutes. Read it, reflect on it, but try not to react negatively.

Now, it’s time to burn. Light the piece of paper on fire or throw it, carefully, into the pre-lit burning bowl. Watch it burn, take a few deep breaths, and you might like to rub your hands together for a final release  of the attachment you just let go of.

In burning that piece of paper, you have symbolically ended any power that attachment had over you, and have embraced that which is positive and which is about to come (or, its already there, depending on your viewpoint).

So…
By burning away clinging, negative attachments, you can free yourself from any regret, sorrow, or pain, and look forward to a brighter future. Let the burning ceremony allow you to sense a feeling of closure, that will allow you to move on.

So, as we come to the end of the year, and if it feels like the right time, and you feel its right to let go of attachment, do try a burning ceremony.

But…
But, if you’re performing the ritual indoors where an open flame may not be appropriate or safe, and the same may apply if you live in the city, then do adapt the ceremony.

If a (literal) burning bowl is inappropriate or unsafe, then after you have written what you want to release on paper you might like to ‘feed’ it through the shedding matching,  or rip it into little pieces and put it in the rubbish/garbage bin (in small enough pieces that no one can read it), or write it on rice paper and watch it dissolve in a bowl of water (and in a very symbolic action, it occured to me that you might substitute ordinary paper for toilet paper, write on that, and afterwards flush it down the toilet! How symbolic is that?).

‘When you reach the end of what you should know, you will be at the beginning of what you should sense.’ Kahlil Gibrán, Sand and Foam.

The abovementioned are a few ideas for a Burning Bowl ritual, an ending to that which is holding us back.

Earthing
This ritual, like any other ritual moves us from ‘mechanical time’ to the realm of sacred-time, sacred space. In ‘returning’ it is important to mark that returning occasion with a physical action. If outside and having faced the four quarters then you might like to walk about a little. If indoors, then a small hand clap to mark your return is sufficient. Some small, token, physical action is important to end the ritual.

But, There’s More
Within the next couple of days, in time for the first day (or few days) if the new year, I’d like to mention the White Stone ritual which is a way, after releasing that which was holding us back, will move us on it a positive and life-affirming way (and for which one or two white stones that can fit in the palm of your hand may be needed – but as always, do improvise).