Earth Hour 2018: A Joyful Response

20180319 EARTH HOUE 24 MARCH STEWARDSHIP MEDITATIONSoon it will be the time of Earth Hour 2018.

Earth Hour started in Sydney, Australia, in 2007. That event saw over million homes and businesses turn their lights off for one hour to make their stand against climate change that year. Now, Earth Hour is a worldwide movement organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and annually encouraging individuals, communities, and businesses to turn off all non-essential electric lights for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 pm on a specific day towards at the end of March, as a symbol of commitment to the planet.

‘Eventually, we’ll realize that if we destroy the ecosystem, we destroy ourselves.’ Jonas Salk.

The ancient Celts, Druids, ancient Hebrew tribes, first century Christians and others were Earth-focussed, in-touch with the seasons and the land, and knew that their livelihood depended on the Earth’s bounty. Somewhat removed, now, in modern society it is easy to forget our inter-connectedness and dependence upon the Earth, and a feeling of helplessness can overtake us.

What can we do?

Earth Hour this year will be on 24 March, and so all of us can participate in large ways and small, and all are encouraged to turn off all non-essential lighting and other non-essential power-consuming devices, wherever we are on the planet from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm (our) local time. A symbolic easy-to-do act just for one hour.

Below are some ideas, quotes, liturgies/poems and memories etc that have been used, and that you might like to use, adapted, or which can be used as prompts to encourage each of us to do something symbolic for the planet, this Saturday, and live simply for one hour, and joyously. The latter is important, as it shouldn’t be seen as an arduous task or a chore, but as a profound time, an enjoyable time in the main.

Blessing:
And so, before eating, by candlelight, we used the following as a blessing:

‘All praise be Yours, my God, through Sister Earth, our mother
who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces
various fruits and coloured flowers and herbs.
[St Francis of Assisi]

Meal:
We wanted to meet as friends and have a simple meal together. Just bread and soup in gratitude of the immense bounty of the Earth that we often forget. A simple meal in good company was perfect.

As a centre-piece on the table, as a reminder of why we had gathered was symbolism to represent the elements (five in this case, but you might have less or more), and so we had: a flower to represent earth/soil/rock, a small bowl of water, a joss-stick to represent air, a few candles to represent fire, and a small clay wild goose (an ancient Celtic representation of the Spirit).

We ate, we laughed, we enjoyed the occasion immensely. Ofcourse, afterwards you can supplement the time with music and/or singing.

Meditation:
Bathed in the light of a few candles, each member of the group was asked to close their eyes and imagine a scene. Initially, the co-ordinator asked the group to visualise the Earth as seen from space, blue, cloudy, majestic, full of life, a planet set in a sea of stars. One by one each person described what they had imagined.

After a short pause, the co-ordinator, asked each member of the group to visualise one distant land, perhaps seen on tv, full of animals and vibrant nature, and to describe it, and one by one each person did in just a few words. The co-ordinator summed up with a few words of gratitude to the Source of All.

After a sort pause, each person was asked to imagine an element of nature from their local neighbourhood, some to be thankful for. Each shared, and the co-ordinator summed up with a few words of gratitude to the Source of All.

Then, the co-ordinator asked each to imagine one scene where the Earth was ‘distressed’, through pollution or over-farming, through the loss of natural habitat, the further extinction of species, and each member shared what they ‘saw’. The co-ordinator summed up with prayerful words.

Lastly, the co-ordinator, asked each to imagine the Earth as it was when they started this meditation – a wonderful blue planet set in a dance amongst the stars, and to ‘flood it’ with our thanks, well-wishes and good-thoughts.

Sharing-time:
We shared prayers and poetry in a circle of fellowship lit by the light of one candle. Each invited person was asked to bring some prayer or relevant poem to share, and after each recitation a few minutes of silent meditation and reflection ensued. One such prayer was:

Deep peace of the quiet Earth to you,
who herself unmoving, harbours the movements
and facilitates the life of ten thousand creatures,
while resting contented, stable, tranquil.
Deep peace of the quiet Earth to you.
(Old Celtic Blessing)

A variation of this, one year, was to ask those attending to prepare a piece about their favourite mountain, or animal, flower, tree, ocean or river, as a way of giving thanks.

For instance, one person talked at length about trees and their connectedness, and how they actually ‘communicate’ with a beneficial and ‘joined up’ root system. Something similar was televised recently with Judi Dench, and can be seen on Youtube, here.

Another person shared about a written piece (and a short video) wolves and what remarkable animals they are, and something similar can be seen here.

Another shared a short video about Snowdonia – my favourite, and I admit to a slight bias here, see here.

Eucharist:
We shared a simple breaking of bread and wine in the home. One person blessed the bread and wine, and we passed the bread around. Several minutes later, the wine was passed around (and as we also wanted to think about the Earth, on many occasions the wine was substituted with unfermented red grape juice). And then several read relevant verses from the Bible, such as:

‘In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.’ Psalm 95.4 The Book.

All very simple, easy to plan and expedite. Very profound.

Baraka:
On this occasion, with lights off and the tv turned on, we watched part of the video ‘Baraka’. If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a treat. It is a wonderful series of profound clips and ethereal music that is nature-based, deep and spiritually moving, and highlights  our interconnectedness with all that is around us. It can be seen on Youtube, here.

Conclusion:
How will you commemorate Earth Hour? Whatever you do, by yourself or in the company of friends, my wish is that you do something simple, symbolic and joyful to mark the event, which ofcourse, is a prompt for us all to have a greater regard for the planet thereafter.

Blessings of Earth Hour be to you and yours, Tadhg.

 

Dragons And Alban Eiler 2018 [Celebrating Spring Equinox]

20180313 DRAGONS AND ALBAN EILER CELEBRATING SPRING EQUINOXWith the Spring equinox, 20 March 2018, still in mind, a time of balance between light and dark (equal night and day lengths), this time of the year is a timely reminder to celebrate the life-energy returning to the earth, of re-birth, of new beginnings, especially with Easter just under three weeks away . In Wales, Spring equinox is known as Alban Eiler, which means ‘the light of the earth’.

In Iran, the festival of ‘No Ruz’ begins just before the Spring equinox. The phrase means ‘new day,’ and this is a time of hope and rebirth. Usually, a lot of cleaning is done, old broken items are repaired, homes are freshly repainted, and bright flowers are gathered and displayed indoors. A spring-clean!

In ancient Rome, a ten day celebration in honour of Attis, son of the great goddess Cybele, around this time. A pine tree, which represented Attis, was chopped down, wrapped in a linen shroud, decorated with violets and placed in a sepulchre in the temple, involving a ceremony with blood. Sacrifice!

And in old England, Wales, and other cultures around the world, the two equinoxes of the year were known as Dragon Days, and these wonderful creatures were celebrated in fairs, processions and in general merriment. Here the dragon, or representations of it (especially, but not only in Chinese and Japanese cultures) were carried through streets,  to carry the Fire energy into the inner realms, to activate the fire within. It is said the dragon goes underground for the winter, but surfaces in the Spring. The dragon, then, is also an ancient energy symbol representing Earth energy, dynamism, fire, will and courage!

And who cannot but be amazed at the intricate dragon designs by (latter-day) Celts and druids.

‘I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind….’. John Lennon.

Yes, dragons are associated with the Spring equinox (and the Autumn equinox).

Dragons also capture the public’s imagination in many fantasy books and films, appearing in the 2010 film ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ to the more adult-oriented ‘Game of Thrones’ books, and to ‘The Hobbit’ book and movies.

Did you know, the ancient Japanese believed quartz was formed from the ‘solidified’ breath of the dragon. To them quartz represented power, perfection and purity.

And, even in God’s own country, Wales, the dragon appears on the national flag. There, the story is told that long ago a Celtic king wanted to build a castle at a particular location, but for a variety of reasons was continually thwarted. He was advised to sacrifice a young boy (who turned out to be Merlin). Merlin warned the king that his chosen site for a castle was above an underground lake where two dragons lay sleeping. The king’s men dug down and did find two dragons (one red, one white) who started to fight fiercely. The red dragon triumphed and was said to represent the king’s people, thereafter. And, ofcourse, a representation of that dragon appears on the flag. A myth? Well, in 1945 in an excavation of that area, Dinas Emrys, the site revealed evidence of a lake and a fortress dating back to that Celtic king’s time. Food for thought, eh?

Yes, dragons are associated with the Spring equinox (and the Autumn equinox).

Did you know that in Chinese and Japanese cultures to have a dragon statue or picture or painting in the house was said to bring immense good fortune.

And, as nature blossoms at this time of the year, what can be more awesome than spending (more) time in sunlight and in forests. Not only, then is the pineal gland stimulated (physical action), leading to well-being; but there is a (greater) spiritual connection (a spiritual action) in and through nature. Some call the interaction and feeling of more vital energy between these two, dragon fire!

If you want to find out more about much-misunderstood dragons, and especially the difference between them and wyverns, do check an earlier article by Tadhg, here.

‘People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons. From within.’ Ursula Le Guin,

 

Words For Alban Eiler 2018 [Celebrating Spring Equinox]

20180310 WORDS FOR ALBAN EILER 2018 CELEBRATING SPRING EQUINOXThe Circle is turning, and in less than two weeks it will be the time of Alban Eiler as it’s known in Wales (which, translated from Welsh, means, quite aptly, ‘the light of the earth’), otherwise known as the Spring equinox.

That day, Tuesday, 20 March 2018, is when the length of day and night, light and dark are of equal length, and thereafter we move slowly toward summer (in the northern hemisphere) when the sun climbs higher and days lengthen even more.

Alban Eiler is a time of balance, the half-way point in this season of Spring, and time to celebrate. And more so in ‘old’ cultures and farming and earth-based communities such as the ancient Celts, Druids and middle-eastern cultures of yesteryear and others, and even today where the acknowledgement and tracking of the seasons is vital to life and well-being.

In Wales, the grey and rugged, majestic mountains take on a grey-green hue now, and upon closer inspection many wild, spring flowers erupt in a joyful profusion upon them – and some flowers are ‘protected’ in Wales so that their exact location is a secret. And, springtime it maybe, but it (still) rains a lot if north Wales and clouds are a constant feature, but it is spring and ‘green’ makes another timely re-appearance, and everything changes, and, yes, it’s time to celebrate.

To celebrate this wonderful event, here’s some words and a song that you might consider using and/or adapting as a liturgy for Alban Eiler, for your own celebration. Ofcourse, you might like to use them (only) as poetry to supplement your litugy or non-liturgical ‘quiet time’ in marking the event, and that too is good. So do feel free to use some of the words below, adapting to suit your outlook or requirements.

Earth Blessing (adapted)

As Spring flowers grow and buds appear on many trees, this can be a time of reflection. After a long winter, Spring unfolds at the behest of the God of Green Hope, and blesses the Earth with a wonderful bounty, and so it’s a time of extreme gratitude, as well.

(Facing east)
Blessed be the One who crosses boundaries,
who is evident in the lengthening day,
in the turning of the Great Circle, and
who is felt in the soft, refreshing Spring wind.

(Facing south)
Blessed be the One who is evident in the greenness of nature,
Viriditas,
who makes plants grow and flower,
and the trees to prepare for blossom, and
who warms the earth as the sun rises higher in the sky.

(Facing west)
Blessed by the One who causes nature to stir from her sleep,
who waters the earth, and calls to the deep;
and the deep joyfully replies and stirs to life, and
who changes the slow, icy brooks into life-laden babbling streams.

(Facing north)
Blessed be the One who speaks to the earth,
and from the rocks new life appears,
who showers the earth with rain from your storehouse of abundance, and
who blesses the earth, which, in turn, blesses us.

(Facing east)
Lord of the elements, ‘Three-Personned’ Life-Giver, we praise you.

For Personal Renewal

For those celebrating by themselves, or indeed, in groups, a time of personal in-filling or ‘energising’ may be desirable, and the following may prove useful.

Lord of Springtime, Lord of All,
refresh us and awaken our senses.
Cleanse us inwardly,
and dispel the dust of resistance and old habits,
and fill us with your love and grace,
that the blessings you give us, we can give back to you
in eternal praise.

Alban Eiler Song: Nature’s Smile

A time of celebration wouldn’t be much of a celebration without a song. The following (and yes you can recite it as liturgy or read it as poem to complement what you might be doing to celebrate this time) is a song which can sung to the old, wonderful and mysterious Gaelic tune ‘Siuil a Ruin’. 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.

If you’re intrested in the tune that ‘works’ with these words, do check the link of Siuil a Ruin (as sung by Anúna) here.

And, Finally….

Meanwhile, the blessings of Alban Eiler be to you and yours, Tadhg.

Appendix

Technical stuff follows regarding the tune: The first few seconds of that video/music, on the above-mentioned link, is a preamble, and the tune for the first verse is from 16 seconds in, to 30 seconds; the second verse’s tune is from 31 seconds to 47 seconds; and the chorus’s (non- italicised above) tune is from 45 seconds to 58 seconds. It is best to use the above-mentioned timings/tune again, as a repetition for the abovementioned song’s next two verse and chorus, rather than let the video play on beyond 58 seconds. If all that is confusing, don’t worry, as I might even be persuaded to sing it for you. Do contact me, in that eventuality. But be warned, I am no John Denver!

 

 

The Moon Of Winds: 2 March 2018: Ephemera

20180227 EPHEMERA FULL MOON OF WINDS 20180302Yes, it’s nearly that time again, the time of the full moon. I know some clebrate the new moon, but for me it is the glory and the brightness of the full moon that lifts my heart, energises me, and causes me to lift my head and give thanks to the Source of All. And, who can’t resist looking for their moon-shadow at such a time.

Here’s some:

  • information about the next two full moons,
  • an ancient story to ponder upon, and
  • maybe something to do, by way of celebrating these two full moons.

‘Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and the stars mirrored in your own being.’. Rumi

Lunar Information

Infact, because the lunar cycle is about 29.53 days and the first full moon is at the very beginning of the month of March, the full moon after that is right at the end of March (it being a long month, too).

Yes, there are two full moons in March,  and so the second one is therefore known as a blue moon.

The next full moon, then, is on Friday, 2 March in the constellation of Leo – look east – and is known by various names: the Full Worm Moon, The Full Crow Moon, or The Lenten Moon. To ancient and latter-day Celts, Christian Celts, Druids like myself, and others many know it as the Moon of Winds.

Moon-Earth Distance: 374,573.6 km
Moon-Sun Distance: 148,290,091.0 km

You can tell I’m an amateur astronomer, cant you?

And the full moon, later in March, is on Saturday, 30 March in the constellation of Virgo, and near the bright star Spica. Look eastward, though as dawn approaches it will sit low in the west.

Moon-Earth Distance: 381,199.6 km
Moon-Sun Distance: 149,475,451.0 km

And this moon’s name? Maybe, as for the moon’s name earlier in the month, but  prefix the name with the word ‘later’ ie the Later Full Worm Moon, the Later Moon of Winds etc. However, this full moon is between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and that Saturday is known by some as Joyous Saturday, so perhaps we could call it the Joyous Moon (especially as Lent will have ended by then). But, you get to choose.

‘If the Sun and Moon should ever doubt, they’d immediately go out.’ William Blake

Story

Although many talk about the man in the moon, and look up and see a face etched onto the surface of the full moon, other cultures see things differently.

There are a number of fables and myths about the moon – and you know me, I love stories. Here’s one, wonderful, story from the Buddhist tradition, and which is prevalent in China, Japan, South and North Korea.

This tale is about a monkey, an otter, a jackal, and a rabbit who decided to extend charity on the day of the next full moon, believing they would receive a great reward. At that time, an old man met them and begged for food.

When the old man asked the monkey for food, it gathered fruit from a tree and gave it to him. The otter collected fish and presented them to the old man. The jackal stole a lizard and a pot of milk, and gave them to the old man.

When the old man encountered the rabbit, the rabbit was embarrassed and was

Rabbit_in_the_moon_standing_by_pot

Rabbit with cooking pot

upset that he only knew how to gather grass, and believed the old man wouldn’t welcome that as food. Immediately, the rabbit threw himself into a fire – self-sacrifice, to provide the old man with some tasty food. However, the rabbit didn’t die. Infact, the rabbit wasn’t even burned!

The old man then revealed himself to be Sakra, the embodiment of the Universe, and blessed the rabbit for its sacrificial love. In honour of the rabbit’s intention, Sakra drew the likeness of the rabbit on the Moon for all to see, for all eternity.

Perhaps, when you look up at the next full moon, you might be able to see the outline of that rabbit?

‘Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light!’ Psalm 148:3, The Book

Celebration

You may want to celebrate this full moon. I do, and I’d heartily recommended it as a way of marking time, celebrating the circle of the moon and nature.

In many ways the best way to celebrate and/or give thanks is to go out and gaze in awe and appreciate the wonder of that full moon, and the Source of All who made it, in the stillness of the night. But, in addition, you might like to:

⦁ say a few words of gratitude out loud or to yourself, or incorporate it in a ritual that you might do periodically, and maybe drink a celebratory drink as you gaze in awe, or

⦁ remember a loved one who has passed-on, and bless them, and remember good things about them as you look up, or

⦁ send up good-thoughts or a prayer about an upcoming event or for someone known to you that might need energy or healing, expecting the Source of All to hear and respond.

‘Maybe the wolf was in love with the moon, and each month they cried out for a love it would never touch.’ Amy Steele, The Wolves

Meanwhile, wishing you and yours many blessings at this time of the Full Moon. Tadhg.

[Many thanks to Pennie Ley for the use of the moon ‘header’ photo. Copyrighted]

20180227 EPHEMERA FULL MOON OF WINDS 20180302

Full Moon, Spring And Ribin Bhride

20180129 FULL MOON SPRING AND RIBIN BHRIDE

‘Blue moon you saw me standing alone.’ (Billie Holiday)

It’s Spring…..well nearly.

I know different parts of (even) the northern hemisphere may experience Spring in a number of weeks rather than in the next few days – such is the UK’s mild climate compared to other places – but there’s things are never exact, and traditionally on the wheel of the year the season’s change is celebrated as Imbolc or Brigid’s Day. So, whatever the weather, it’s time to celebrate Spring (in the northern hemisphere).

What follows is in two parts. Firstly there’s some awesome information about the upcoming full Moon – a ‘triple whammy!’ and a first since 1866, and secondly, there’s some wonderful ideas and words to assist you to celebrate Spring, Imbolc, Candlemas or Brigid’s Day on the 1 or 2 February.

Ephemera: The Triple Lunar Experience

In the small hours of 31 January, the moon will do something that it hasn’t since 1866. It will be super Moon, a blue moon and lunar eclipse – and all three will coincide for a rare and spectacular astronomical feast. And what a way to celebrate Imbolc, Spring, and Brigid’s Day, albeit a couple of days early – but who’s counting.

moon 18341965_1686669498015885_2704673373144549450_nOn January 31 the Moon will be a super Moon – meaning that, because its orbit around the Earth is not completely circular, but an ellipse, this time around it will be slightly closer to the Earth. If visible from your location, the Moon will appear about 15% bigger (and because of illusion, it will appear bigger still, if it’s low on the horizon) and about 30% brighter. That’s a super Moon.

In addition, this full Moon will be the second one in January, and will therefore as it’s the second full Moon in a month, it’s known as a Blue Moon – but it won’t look blue.

And, if all that wasn’t enough this full Moon will experience a lunar eclipse: those in western US, Australia and much of Canada, Russia and Asia will be able to see a total eclipse, whilst a partial eclipse will be see by those across the eastern part of the US, India, eastern Europe and Scandinavia. The Moon may look red during the eclipse.

A ‘triple lunar experience’, lies in wait for you – a great treat, the likes of which has not been experienced since 1866. More details and timings about this wonderful event can be viewed here.

Celebration Time
Celebrate good times, come on! (Let’s celebrate)
Celebrate good times, come on! (Let’s celebrate)
It’s time to come together
It’s up to you, what’s your pleasure
Everyone around the world
Come on!

(Kool & The Gang)

Celebrating Spring, Imbolc, Candlemas & Brigid’s Day

So, having outlined one way to celebrate Imbolc, Spring, or Brigid’s Day in an earlier article (see here), below is a practical suggestion to do, and an outline liturgy that you might like to use in part in your celebration (ritual), and adapt as required.

ribbons img_7932-mediumRibín Bhríde: How about participating in Ribín Bhríde (the ribbons of Brigid)?
Brigid was/is renowned as a healer, and this can be used as an enacted prayer. If you need healing or know someone who does, then cut up brightly coloured material (about half inch wide and about six to eight inches long) and tie a few ribbons onto small branches in the evening whilst thinking of the person who needs healing. Left there, the ribbons will catch the morning dew, and can then be lovingly removed over the next day or two.

And/Or…

Because Spring is the season that celebrates the sun climbing higher into the sky, and winter receding, it’s fitting to celebrate with the use of light and candles (hence, Candlemas for some). And so, at various points when using the material, below, you might like to lights a candle at the beginning, during or end of the following (or several candles if you use several of the pieces below).

Blessed be you, Light of Life,
Source of the sacred flame within each of us,
light which the darkness cannot put out.
I rise up with you this day/I rest with you this night.

(The Celtic Wheel Of The Year, Tessa Ward)

And/or…

….because we’re moving into the season of Spring (and the symbol of that is wind or air, and the dominant direction is east) you might like to use:

Still the Breath Divine does move, and the breath Divine is Love.

(William Blake)

And/or…

The secret life of Me breathes in the wind
and holds all things together soulfully.

(Hildegard of Bingen)

And/or…

Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
which fans your face on a sultry day,
the air which you breathe deeply, rhythmically,
which impart to you energy. consciousness, life.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.

(Celtic prayer)

And/or…

The soul rides on the feathers of the wind.

(Meister Eckhart)

And/or…

Blessings of wind be upon me.
May my sails billow wide,
May I breathe deeply the gift of inspiration,
May I be carried to the place of my resurrection,
May I be fully free.

(Christine Valters Paintner)

And/or…

Turner of the seasons,
Energy of the first flaring forth,
Source of newness and creativity,
Hidden activity in the darkness,
Align us with your budding presence
In this season of Spring.

Heartbeat Of The Seasons: Earth Rituals For The Celtic Year by Kathleen Glennon

Blessings of this season to you and yours, Tadhg.

[Many thanks to Pennie Ley for the use of the moon photo. Coprighted]

20180129 FULL MOON SPRING AND RIBIN BHRIDE

Time To Celebrate Spring: Imbolc, Brigid’s Day, Candlemas

20180127 TIME TO CELEBRATE SPRING IMBOLC BRIGIDS DAY CANDLEMASYes, it’s that time again. The circle, the wheel of the Earth continues to turn, and nature’s cycle ushers us, once again, into spring. It’s time to celebrate. Here’s some ideas of how to celebrate the event with a meal, ritual and words (liturgy). Really celebrate!

Event: Imbolc (favoured pronunciation ‘ih-mulk’), Brigid’s Day, Candlemas
Date: 1 or 2 February
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 was traditionally a time of weather divination, and the old tradition of watching to see if serpents or badgers came out from their winter dens may, it is said by some, be a forerunner of the North American idea of Groundhog Day.

For others, this time of the year is known as Brigid’s Day (a healer, whose example to us today is one of unbridled hospitability), or Candlemas, a time of rededication and purity, and the lighting of candles. Nevertheless, however you regard it, it is the first day of spring, and time to celebrate.

Meal
And because it’s a celebration, what follows are a few ideas of things you can incorporate into you main meal of the day (or other meals, as you feel appropriate).

You might like to do the whole meal as an Imbolc or Spring celebration, or just one part of it. I’d suggest the latter, especially if this is the first time you specifically celebrate the event, and in any case, it’s usually the small things that are most significant. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate, expensive spread, after all it’s intentionality that is important.

pixabay imbolc bread 232On a number of occasions I’ve had a normal meal, and ‘focused’ on part of the meal to celebrate the event, and bought a special bread for after the meal. A remembrance of bread being a staple food, the Bread of life.

So, try something different, experiment by adding something to your main meal, say, that you may not usually buy.

Meal Preparation
Whether it’s a meal for yourself or a few others, too, preparation can be fun, meaningful and easy to accomplish. If you’re not usually into formality or table lay-out I’d suggest having just one or two additional elements.

Candles! I love candles, and I’d suggest the simpler the candle setting, the better. One candle, lit, on a table looks great. Go for ‘minimalist’ approach if you wish – it can, in many circumstances, make it even more meaningful.

pixabay candle ereeBecause the sun would still be low in the sky and light in the evening would be dim, and because early Romans believed candlelight would scare away evil, and because Jesus is the light of the world, candles were specifically used (for all or some of those reasons) at this time – hence in many churches they celebrate this time as Candlemas.

Later, as you gaze upon that lit candle, remember, the sun rising higher in the sky and Spring returning, new life, a ‘chasing away’ of the dark and light dawning, and ponder on growth, good things, and hope. Give thanks to the Source of All.

Nature on display! I really like those displays that contain berries and fir cones etc and they look great as a table display. Or, hwo about a small bunch of inexpensive spring flowers! Both can look great, and act as a great reminder of gratitude to the earth, to nature.

For this event, celebrate with foods that honour the earth, hearth and home, such as milk products vegetables, bread etc, and these are incorporated in the suggestions below.

pixabay man sun 4544Breakfast: Imbolc is about milk – think of baby ewes being born and their mother’s milk flowing to nurture them. It’s a time of fertility, new life. So, why not try something different, milk-wise to pour over your breakfast cereal

Whether you eat this meal focussing on Imbolc, or Candlemas, or with Brigid in mind, whether you eat it by yourself or with others, it’s a great way of remembering the bounty of the earth, all those that have been involved in bringing it to your table, and ofcourse it’s a great time of expressing gratitude to the Giver of All. Take time to ponder.

Words & Ritual
Throughout the meal, maybe between courses, or at the beginning and at the end, it’s good to pause, to give thanks. As you light the candle or gaze upon the lit candle, some may like to recite a poem or prayer at certain times. Here’s some words that you might like to use or ponder upon:

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

Or,

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

Song of Solomon 2:11-12 The Book

Or,

Praise to you, Oh Caring one,
nurturing, generous and milky kind,
yet defiant as the snowdrop in a cold climate,
feisty, pure and natural
with your white singular unbroken focus,
Maid-Mother to us all,
praise to you.

Tess Ward, The Celtic Wheel Of The Year

Finally
Do plan a great event, enjoy it, and take your time. We all rush around far too much, and here’s an opportunity to slow down and appreciate the simple, natural things in life as we yet again mark the season’s change, and give thanks.

Wishing you and yours blessings at this time of Imbolc, Spring, Brigid’s Day and Candlemas. Tadhg

 

20180127 TIME TO CELEBRATE SPRING IMBOLC BRIGIDS DAY CANDLEMAS

 

 

The Curious Incident Of Brigid And The Bathwater: A Profound Story For Today

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, comes ever closer. Spring is in the air.

‘O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?’. Percy Bysshe Shelley

If we’re still in the season of winter, and we are (and, 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 soltice, we’re now coming to the end of that season). Imbolc, 2 February (or a day earlier than that to some), marks the end of winter, and is the first day of spring.

‘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 Candlemass, 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, you know I like stories, and here’s another about Brigid.

Brigid was known for her hospitality. For the weary traveller no expense was spared by her.

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. 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.

 

Brigid’s Cloak: A Profound Story For Today

20180118 BRIGIDS CLOAK A PROFOUND STORY FOR TODAYIt’s late. I’m still in London, but now things have settled down somewhat I’m able to slow down (even more). Earlier today, in a huge supermarket nearby I spied jars of Horlicks lined up at eye level, just calling to me, almost. I had never noticed them before. Horlicks, if you’ve never had it, is a delightful malt drink, usually in powder form and was something that many children grew up drinking. So far as I know it’s extremely healthy.

It’s even later, and I’m on an oh-so comfortable sofa, and having added hot milk to that Horlick’s powdered malt drink, it now resides in a cup just a couple of feet from me. Lights are low. And as I sip it, in my mind’s eye I am immediately transported back – memorywise – to my early childhood days. Amazing how a simple taste can remind us of past things and pleasant events.

I’m reminded of a time, about this time of year, but many years ago. I was sitting in my grandparents’ cottage in Wales. I must have been about seven years old. It was late in the evening, then, and I had positioned myself, comfortably, near the hearth. The main living area of the cottage was partially lit and the fire’s orange glow bathed everything in a warm, restful, flickering, other-worldly light.

My grandpa had just given me a hot cup of Horlicks, as my grandmother started to tell another of her wonderful stories.

As I sip from a cup of Horlicks now, I’m reminded of that story from yesteryear – and it’s all the more poingnant as it was then coming up to St Brigid’s Day, and so it will be again in about two weeks from no. Some (myself included) call it Imbolc (pronounced various ways, but I quite like ‘ih-mulk’), and many call it (now) Candlemas.

As I sat there all those years ago, my grandmother told a story about Brigid of Kildare (in Ireland). The story went something like this:

Dear Brigid approached the King of Leinster with a request for some land on which to build her monastery. She thought deeply about the location, and felt led to build it in Kildare. There, it would be near a lake where water was available, and in a forest where firewood would be plentiful, and also near a large, lush area just right for the growing of crops. Self-sufficiency.

However, the King refused her request.

Brigid wasn’t deterred by his refusal. Rather, she thought about it, prayed about it, and made her request again to him, but this time she added, ‘I would respectfully ask the King to grant me as much land as my cloak will cover.’

Seeing her small cloak, the king laughed out loud, and then granted her request.

Brigid then removed the cloak that was on her back, and gave instructions to her four helpers each to take a corner of the cloak and walk in opposite directions – north, south, east and west. They did this. And, as they did this the cloak began to grow, and grow, and grow. It was soon the size of a large table cloth. And, they carried on walking. And soon it was the size of a living room carpet. And, they carried on walking. And, soon dear Brigid’s cloak had spread across many, many acres of land. She now had sufficient land to build her monastery.

The King was greatly dismayed, but also amazed at this seeming miracle. The King realised that this woman was truly blessed, and had great power. The King was impressed and supported Brigid’s work with money, food and gifts.

My grandmother ended the story, summing up that Brigid was indeed a clever woman, one in touch with great power from the Source of All (that which some call God), and that the story tells us that we do, indeed, live in a world of abundance, but sometimes we need to ‘see’ things differently, and trust in the timely provision of what we need.

That story of dear Brigid (St Brigid to some) made a big impression on me then and throughout the years: I believed then and still believe that we do live in a world of natural abundance and blessing, and Brigid and this story about her is one that we can take to heart and draw strength from.

 

Wisdom 1: Wisdom…She Cries Out

20180104 WISDOM 1 WISDOM SHE CRIES OUTWe live in an age of scientific marvels, a time when knowledge seems to increase by leaps and  bounds. I’m told, knoweldge-wise it could be said that we have ‘discovered’ more in the last thirty years than in the three thousand years before that. Phenomenal. And, yet in all of this surfeit of knowledge there is, in some, a nagging disquiet. Mae mwy, as they say in Wales, ‘there is more’.

We have knowledge; we need wisdom.

In our rush as a society to obtain knowledge perhaps we have lost something vital that some are only now (re-)discovering; the wisdom of the elements, of simplicity, of encounters with the Other (that some call the Source, the Word, God, or Spirit). And, we are indebted to those who show us alternative ways of being, however strange and different such ways are. It is when we encounter such ways that we understand and  value deep wisdom.

We have knowledge; we need wisdom.

The young man was at the end of his training, soon he would go on to be a teacher. Like all good pupils, he needed to challenge his teacher and to develop his own way of thinking. He caught a bird, placed it in one hand and went to see his teacher.

‘Teacher, is this bird alive or dead?’

His plan was the following: if his teacher said ‘dead’, he would open his hand and the bird would fly away. If the answer was ‘alive’, he would crush the bird between his fingers; that way the teacher would be wrong whichever answer he gave.

‘Teacher, is the bird alive or dead?’ he asked again.

‘My dear student, that depends on you,’ was the teacher’s reply.

We have knowledge; we need wisdom.

It has been said that knowledge is the accumulation of facts and data that you have learned about or experienced. It’s being aware of something, and having information. Knowledge is what we acquire through study, research, investigation, observation, or experience. The old Gaelic word for this would be fios – pronounced ‘fis’.

Wisdom, however, is the ability to discern and judge which aspects of that knowledge are true, right, lasting, and applicable to your life. It’s the profound ability to apply that knowledge to the greater scheme of life. It’s also deeper; knowing the meaning or reason; about knowing why something is, and what it means to your life.The old Gaelic word for this would have been eolas – pronounced ‘oh-lass’. In Welsh it would be called gwybod, pronounced ‘goo-bud’

We may be content with just knowledge, believing it to be sufficient, but as individuals, groups and as a society as  whole, wisdom in much needed, perhaps more than ever today.

‘Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks…’ Proverbs 1: 20-21, The Book

For some, 6 January is a day associated with wisdom, and tomorrow we’ll look at resources that you might like to consider using or adapting to suit your requirements as you consider celebrating the wisdom of the universe, this vital Source-given, ubiquitous ‘resource’.

‘In the beginning all creatures were green and vital. They flourished amidst flowers,’ wrote Hildegard of Bingen in her praise of the greening power, the Veriditas of God

We have knowledge; we need wisdom.

 

 

Time To Ponder The Quiet Moon: 2 January 2018: Ephemera

20171231 FULL MOON 02 JAN 2018There’s a full moon coming up in January and so it’s time to celebrate. Well, actually there’s two full moons coming up in January.

Because January is a long month containing thirty-one days, and the lunar month is roughly 29 1/2 days, it sometimes happens that when there’s a full moon right at the beginning of a long month, like January, there’s another right at the end. And this year, that’s the case.

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

But, the moon, apart from being Earth’s satellite (though some now call it a binary planet because of its relatively big size)  was, to the ancients,  used to mark time and the seasons – and this is still the case for some today.

And, as its face ‘smiles’ down upon us, doesn’t  it have a mystical and ‘magical’ quality? This is something the ancients were aware of, and even today those who are ‘awake’ look up, pause and ponder at the moon with fascination and gratitude. It calls us to think deeply, to recognise our place in the universe, and to ‘peer beyond the veil’ and consider the origin of all things in nature.

The month’s early full moon is in the early hours (from a UK perspective) of Tuesday, 2 January 2018 in the constellation of Gemini (see header photo) near the star Mekbuda in the western part of the sky.

‘January! The first month of the year,
A perfect time to start all over again.
Changing energies and deserting old moods,
New beginnings, new attitudes.’

Charmaine J Forde

To the ancient Arabs that star, Mekbuda (translates as) the ‘lion’s paw’, was part of a larger Arabic constellation, but today, from our perspective, it’s part of the Gemini constellation – ‘the twins’ – and the star is near the kneecap of one of the pair. You can tell I’m an amateur astronomer, cant you?

Interestingly, Mekbuda is 1183 light years away – so light arriving on the Earth now would have left there about AD834, when King Oengus died and was suceeded by his nephew as ruler of the Picts, when Mo Xuanqining the Chinese philosopher was born, and when Adelchis of Italy died.

‘The Sun, Moon and Stars are there to guide us.’ Dennis Banks

To some this moon is the Winter moon, or the Cold moon, to others its the Ice Moon or Wolf Moon. To many Celts and Druids and others, it’s known as the Quiet Moon. I’m supposing that, whatever er call it, the name should be prefixed with the term ‘early’ to mark it as different to the second full moon of January which is set to occur on Wednesday, 31 January (and which can be called any of those names and prefixed with the word ‘later’ to avoid confusion).

Some celebrate the new moon, but for me I prefer celebrating the full moon (sometimes with the lighting of a candle, sometimes by gazing up at it and drinking one drink in celebration, or in the recitation of poetry or liturgy). What about you?  And, with that in mind, I’d commend some words by Hildegard of Bingen which can be said to yourself or as part of a spoken celebration to add to your moon ritual of gratitide – as you gaze upon the upcoming full moon.

I’m the secret fire in everything,
and everything smells like Me.
The living breathe
My sweet perfume,
and they breathe out praise of Me.
They never die
because I am their Life.
I flame out-
intense, godly Life-
over the shining fields of corn,
I glow in the shimmer of the fire’s embers,
I burn in the sun and the moon and the stars.
The secret Life of Me
breathes in the wind
and holds all things together soulfully.
This is…[the Creator’s] voice.

Hildegard of Bingen

Blessings of the Moon-Spinner to you and yours at this time, Tadhg.