You might, like me, have a liturgy you use each month – perhaps as a new moon, or like me you might like the monthly full moon. Here are words that can form as part of a liturgy or as a poem for the face’s moon. These words were used a year by me ago or so, and I like them to show the moon’s travail by us (as a full moon is due soon), but which can also be used for new moon words/liturgy soon after this liturgy/poem.
Not only do I like the moon because I am a Druidic-Christian (or as a Christo-Druid), and it fascinates me above the night’s sky, and as a poet it to meld words, but also as I am an amateur astronomer.
I hope this following liturgy/poem is useful to you.
Ah , The Kindly Face (Poem/Liturgy)
Ah, The kindly face.
The blessed Earth-maker moved and the Earth was split, rent asunder, and its twin was created, yes, the the Moon was formed. Blessed be the Moon-maker, who made this wonder, and who created its face to look down upon us.
Ah, the kindly face.
The crown of the moon is Oceanus Frigoris, a place ancient and old. A reminder that it is, indeed, the Sea of Cold, and, best seen in winter.
One eye is Oceanus Tranquillitatis, the Sea of Tranquility, or peace, where in July nineteen sixty-nine humankind first set foot on the moon in Apollo eleven. A fact to remember, in awe, as we gaze, upward, into the heaven[s].
The other eye is Mare Imbrium, the Sea of Rain. It is the larger of the two, so no need for eye-strain. But, on the day when it pours, and you choose to stay indoors, it may be the Moon to whom you should complain.
For, the moon controls the tides, and does impact upon our weather and part of the mouth on that face, Oceanus Procellarum, is the Sea of storms. And, as you and I look upward, together we now know.
But, there’s more, and no reason to quibble, for that mouth seems to dribble into Mare Humorum, the Sea of Moisture, to the south.
The blessed Earth-maker moved and the earth was split, rent asunder, and the the Moon was formed. Blessed be the Moon-maker, who made this wonder, and who created its face to look down upon us.
Ah, the kindly face.
And, as we look up, and wisdom seek, May we be a star in the (soon) waning Moon May we be a staff to the weak.1
The circle continues to turn. Imbolc, St Brigid’s Day, or Candlemas, as some call it, comes ever closer. Spring is in the air.
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.
Brigid was known for her hospitality. For the weary traveller no expense was spared by her.
Yes, you know I like stories, and here’s another about Brigid that I saw a few years ago.
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 person has. That we use in a world of surprises; 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.
Yes, 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! A few years ago, this is what I wrote.
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.
For others, this time of the year is known, to me, as Brigid’s Day (who is known as a healer, a saint or goddess by some, whose example to us today is one of unbridled hospitality and more), 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.
On 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.
Because 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.
Breakfast: 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
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
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 blessing to you at this time of Imbolc, Spring, Brigid’s Day and Candlemas is yours.
Each one of us love the changing moon – some like the new moon which cannot be seen on the dark’s night sky (and then a small sliver, a small crescent can be seen just a night or two later). For some it could be the first and last quarter, or the waxing or waning that changes with the moon, but for me, I love the full moon.
The full moon, for me, shows its moon-shadow, or it’s smiling of the moon’s face, or it as a huge orb of white that can show us of its splendour, and also, then, it shows it as a time as a special ‘full’ event, and can be used in ritual or liturgy. I love it.
And, yes, the next full moon takes place on 28 January, on evening or night in the UK (or other a northern countries) in the constellation of Gemini, the twins! This time the moon appears below the star Pollux. And then Pollux is followed by Castor. The three follow are in a line, and each appears equidistant to each other, that day.
Day surprises me and night scares me
haunts me and winter follows me
An animal walking on the snow has placed
Its paws in the sand or in the mud
Its paws have traveled
From further afar than my own steps…
This full moon is known in various times as: the Wolf moon (or sometimes as the snow wolf) for those of Medieval English times or some of those in the Northern America, today, after the howling of hungry wolves. But what ever you call it no one can but be of wonder of the packs of wolves who work through these lean and snowy times. Chinese people call this moon as the Holiday moon.
And some by the Celtic or Druid tribes call it the Quiet moon. Whatever you call it, do make it an important event for this full moon. For me, as a Druid-Christian (or Christic-Druid) I prefer it as the Quiet moon.
As a poem or as part of liturgy for the full moon, here is something that I penned 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.
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.
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.
Whatever you call this full moon do something special that evening. You might want to use a poem or liturgy/ritual as you view the full moon, you might want a small glass of wine. You might use a candle to celebrate the evening. Whatever you do, do something simple to make make it a special evening.
[Apologies if some of my wording of this article is a bit erratic. My speech is getting better, but there is still some time needed.]
The Ceremony Of The Night Of The Long Shadows To honour our ancestors at this time of Samhain
Friday, 30 October 2020 at 8pm (UK Time) Online Live-streaming via Tadhg’s FaceBook
For this ceremony you may need:
Three candles (though one may suffice)
One or more photographs of loved ones who have passed-on
Bowl of water
You might wish to use several photographs of many loved ones, or one photograph of one or two family-members that have passed-on, as representatives of all your ancestors. If taking such photographs to a physical ceremony do ensure you take only copies of the photograph/s to the ceremony, and not the original photographs. If participating at the ceremony at home, so display any photographs, safely.
The beginning/opening and closing/ending of this ceremony follows the usual style. The middle section is ‘the Work’, below, is especially about the honouring of ancestors, as it is Samhain.
This ceremony is will be broadcasted on Friday, 30 October 2020, at 8pm UK time, via livestream, Tadhg’s Facebook. Do check his facebook beforehand as it might be necessary for you to initiate a friends-link to view it, His link is at: https://www.facebook.com/tadhgjonathan.gardner
The Purpose Today we honour of ancestors at this time of Samhain. This is not to worship them, but to respect and honour them, and to remember them, too.
You might have one or two people in mind, today, who have passed on, recent ancestors; or you might have have ancestors from far back that you want to honour them by name or in general; in addition I would encourage you to also honour all ancestors of all times and space, who are the family of humankind in that realm and who are connected to us, and vice versa.
And so we will use this time to look back at that tree of life, to look at us, and to look ahead of those who are yet to come, who at one time, in the future, we also look back at us.
This ceremony may stir our emotions as we think of those whom we miss, but it is also about giving thanks for the life of our ancestors, those who are now in Bliss, and it is also about consoling each other and lifting each other up. Life continues in a different form.
And, so let us honour of our ancestors.
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 WORK: SPECIFCIALLY FOR SAMHAIN
It is said that if each generation is measured at about twenty-five years, and we have an idea in our mind of a five hundred span of time, then each of us has over two million ancestors. In thinking of our immediate ancestors or our family ancestors, do also think of the way that each one of us is connected to the global family of humankind.
The Three Form Honouring We look back, and remember and honour those who have gone before us. That is, those of our generation or the previous generations. We look at the love and actions that many ancestors made to bring us to this time and maturity, and we are indebted to them.
For some we might remember good things and send love, and yet for some we might remember those who have passed on but who were unkindly to us and others. Let us be honest in remembering our ancestors in Bliss.
And so, let us remember all our ancestors, too.
We remember and honour them. All: We remember and honour them.
[If you have one or more candles, do light one (or the only) candle here to remember and honour our ancestors. If you don’t have a candle, don’t worry, as I’ll light candle(s) vicariously, for you. We will also pause and meditation at this time.]
In the flow and ebb of life, we too stand in the tree of life. From our viewport we look back to those who have passed on. And, yet we look upward and ahead of those who are yet to come. Could it be that those future generations are looking back to us, and will, because of our love and action today, will honour you and I?
We remind and honour each other. All: We remind and honour each other.
[If you have two or more candles, do light the second candle here to remind ourselves or honour each other. If you don’t have a candle, don’t worry, as I’ll light candle(s) vicariously, for you. We will also pause and meditation at this time.]
We have looked back in honouring our ancestors, reminded each other of our part in that tree of life, but also look ahead for future generations. With expectation and love we send well-wishes to those who are yet to be born, even as they may be looking back from their viewpoint. We send love and well-wishes to those yet to come.
We think ahead and send love to those yet to come. All: We think ahead and send love to those yet to come.
[If you have a third candle, do light the third candle here to think ahead of those yet to come. If you don’t have a candle, don’t worry, as I’ll light candle(s) vicariously, for you. We will also pause and meditation at this time.]
“The sacrifice our ancestors gave yesterday Gave us today and our tomorrow” (Stephen Robert Kuta)
“My ancestors offer me bliss, love, and light. I gratefully receive that which is for my highest good…” (Amy Leigh Mercree)
Remembering Our Ancestors In A Spiritual Exercise Of Writing [If you have tissue paper and a pencil you might like to write a few happy memories to one or two ancestors on the tissue paper, or you might like to write a few lines as if writing a letter to some one or two that have passed on.
Or, you might like to write names on the paper.
Once you have done that, then pause for a moment as you meditate, and then put the paper in the bowl of water to dissolve the paper.
If you don’t have paper or pencil, you can use this time to think, in your mind, what you would write on the paper, and imagine using that bowl of water to dissolve that paper.
Music will be played, now, for about two minutes or three minutes, as you do this.}
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders [us]…And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1 part)
“You are the fairy tale told by your ancestors.” (Toba Beta)
“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” (Khalil Gibran)
As we close, we remember that Samhain is a time of liminality, a place of a special threshold; it is a ‘thin place’, a sacred time where we draw near to our ancestors. And yet, they are never far from us, and they live, forever, in Bliss.
This time is a reminder for all of us, that the Friend, the Universe, God, is embracing all who have gone before us, who is embracing us today, and who will embrace all of those who have yet to come.
“I am as sure as I live that nothing is so near to me as God. God is nearer to me that I am to myself; my existence depends on the nearness and the presence of God.” (Meister Eckhart)
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 We bless our ancestors, in Bliss, embraced by the Friend. We bless each other, our global family of humankind, secured by the Friend. We bless those yet to come who are known only to the Friend. And, We bless the Friend, the Universe, God who is always with us. Bless you each.
Samhain (pronounced ‘so-uhn’) is a wonderful festival ‘oozing’ with ancient Gaelic tradition and ‘magic’. Something you can participate in, wherever you are. It marks the end of the third harvest and the end of autumn, and it marks the advance of the season of winter. It is the start of the dark period, winter and the underworld, when our thoughts go to those whom we love who have passed-on.
‘Sometimes the veil between this life and the life beyond becomes very thin. Our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us.’ (Ezra Taft Benson)
It’s when, in rural communities, surplus cattle were culled, and their meat stored for the depths of winter.
It starts on the evening, at dusk, on Saturday, 31 October, but don’t forget that we’ll have a Facebook live-streaming event, a ceremony to celebrate the event, called Them Night Of Long Shadows, to honour the ancestors. More details about this will follow in a few days.
But, here’s some suggestions to whet your appetite, and to start thinking of Samhain. Samhain is a cross quarter day, indeed it’s the first of the year as it starts the Druid and ancient Celtic new year. It is a moon festival (as opposed to sun festivals, such as the solstices and equinoxes when time is measured by the sun’s elevation etc)
Winter advances: ‘ Since ancient times this time was seen as a feast of the dead, and the modern idea of Hallow’een ‘sits alongside’ it. Hallowe’en? The name comes from ‘all hallows eve’. When Christianity arrived in Celtic countries, and the church discouraged fortune-telling, and magic etc, a day of celebration of all the Saints of the Church was instituted on 1 November.
The wind is full of a thousand voices They pass by the bridge and me.’ (Loreena McKennitt, ‘All Souls Night’)
Many of our hallowe’en traditions, such as bobbing for apples which were originally part of the foretelling of the future, and the baking cakes containing “lucky tokens” also originated at this time, and survive to this day. In addition, and an import from America, it is a time for children (or all ages) to visit door-to-door dressed as something with a ‘deathly’ theme to it, to ‘trick or treat’.
A time to take stock Samhain, then, was a time when farmers would take stock of their animals – which would live, and which would be killed, and a time to finally gather in (any) residual harvest; a time when local and tradition rituals would be enacted eg bonfires, and embers of these would be taken home as a form of protection; young men would run around the villages boundary with torches, again, for the villagers’ protection, as that night, many believed that the veil between this world and the world of the dead was ‘thin’, and something might (or did) come through for a while. It’s a time for the imagination to run riot, and for stories to be told.
‘Somewhere in a hidden memory Images float before my eyes’. (Loreena McKennitt, ‘All Souls Night’)
Whether you believe this factually, ‘romantically’ or not at all, the stories of that night, retold around a bonfire, perhaps, intrigued men and women, and (no doubt) frightened (hopefully in a ‘nice’ sense) many a child. Even today, the tv ‘lights up’, innocently, with many horror movies at this time of year to keep adults ‘mesmerised’. It is a ‘thin place’, this time.
Taking stock? A ‘thinning’ of the veil between here and the other, ensures that this night, the evening of 31 October, is a feast, a celebration, a time of deep thought, a reflecting of the life of those that have gone before us.
Even in its simplest form – depending on your theology – it is a time to think about the ancestors, how they contributed to make us the person/people we are today, and to give thanks. A time to remember the ancestors in different, honouring ways. For me, reflection, thinking about the ancestors and the giving of gratitude to the Source of All predominates at this time.
Do something Others will indulge in ritual, and though each may have a different way to acknowledge this feast, I enjoy the variety, enthusiasm and intentionality that my Christian, Celtic Christian, co-Druids, Wiccan and other friends put into this festival. I have my own way, my own ritual to mark this time, and it may be that you do, too.
My advice to you is: Do it! Be honest to yourself, be sincere and intentional, be joyful about it, but in some way (large of small, complicated or simple) observe the time, and make it something good, and wholesome, and memorable.
Enjoy the feast A bonfire might be out of the question, but how about lighting a candle, at least for 10-20 minutes and thinking of your ancestors in a joyful and honouring way? They’re home. You might now be able to run around then edge of a village, but how about an evening walk, a silent walk of gratitude? Elementals? Here’s your opportunity to find our more about them – an evening when their activity is said to increase – and you can find a lot about them on the internet, but don’t make it only ‘book-learning’. Why not go for a county walk, or a walk in the park, or alongside a riverbank, and meditate in some way, to ‘day dream’ and reflect? And, then perhaps, later, treat yourself to a meal, a glass of wine, a warm coffee as you gaze at the cold night sky, and yes, even watch a good, scary movie?
Ofcourse, you might like a ritual of some sort or recite relevant poetry, or sing a song, and here’s a poem/song I penned some time ago. If you join the Facebook live-streaming event you might even hear me sing it.
The Circle is turning, autumn becomes winter.
The Circle is turning, autumn becomes winter.
The Circle is turning, autumn becomes winter. And nature sleeps, as the darkness falls.
The trees, they slumber. Deep roots are dreaming.
The trees, they slumber. Deep roots are dreaming.
The trees, they slumber. Deep roots are dreaming. I’m listening to the winter’s sacred rest.
The snow is falling, the earth is bless-éd.
The snow is falling, the earth is bless-éd.
The snow is falling, the earth is bless-éd. The hope of spring, ye-et to come.
The Circle is turning, (and) autumn becomes winter.
The Circle is turning, (and) autumn becomes winter.
The Circle is turning, (and) autumn becomes winter. And nature sleeps, as the darkness falls.
If you’re ‘brave’ enough to sing it, there’s a delightful melody (the tune of Fear a Bhata (The Boatman), a traditional Gaelic piece of music to accompany you)), but if you want to hear me sing it, just join me for that Live-streaming Night of Long Shadows Ceremony – details soon.
Or, you might like to read (and recite) Rabbie Burns’ poem ‘Hallowe’en’, part of which is:
Upon that night, when fairies light On Cassilis Downans dance, Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze, On sprightly coursers prance; Or for Colean the rout is ta’en, Beneath the moon’s pale beams; There, up the Cove, to stray an’ rove, Amang the rocks and streams To sport that night;
And, finally, you might like to recite the following traditional Scottish prayer:
From ghoulies and ghosties And long-leggedy beasties And things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us
However you celebrate it, do make it something spectacular and memorable. More about Samhain will appear here, as we think about The Long Of Night Shadows event, denials how to view it, and to print out a liturgy if you wish to participate.
The next full moon is almost upon us. And here is:
some facts about this full moon
a moon-related tale form ancient Wales
We know, scientifically, that without the moon, the Earth would be a very different place than it is today, and that it is unlikely that it would have been able to sustain life at all. Just a coincidence that we have a moon of such magnitude?
We know the Earth is is that ‘Goldilock’s Zone’, of just being the right distance from the Sun to harbour life. Too close and the surface of the Earth would ‘fry’, too far away and it would be too cold for life. Just a coincidence?
I cannot accept that it’s just a coincidence. The One Behind It All was, and still is at work, and so as you and I see the next Full moon, let us gaze in awe and silence at the marvel, that is the Moon, and The One Behind It All, the Universe, The Source, Love, The Friend, or any other suitable Name we wish to utter.
Facts & Lunation
The next Full moon tomorrow, Monday, 3 August 2020 at 4.58pm (from a UK viewpoint for this article) in the constellation of Capricorn.
This Full moon marks the midway point of Lunation #1207. A lunation is the astronomers’ name for the lunar month (of approximately 29 1/2 days), and starts with each new moon. This system of moon counting was invented by Professor Ernest W Brown in 1933, and he started the count with lunation number 1 at the first new moon of 1923. And the count has progressed from there, so we are now at the midway point of lunation 1207. For the inquisitive amongst you that might be asking what about the counting of lunar months before 1923 from a later perspective? The answer is, astronomers give them a negative number working back from the last new moon of 1922 which would be lunation -1.
“Harvest moon: around the pond I wander and the night is gone.” Matsuo Basho (1644-1694, Japanese poet)
Infact, this Full moon may be disappointing low in the sky, and won’t drift above the horizon until about 9.15pm, reaching its highest point at around midnight. If it’s a clear night, do look to the right of the moon (and up a little) and you might be fortunate enough to see the planets Saturn and Jupiter nearby in the constellation of Sagittarius.
”But even when the moon looks like it’s waning…it’s actually never changing shape. Don’t ever forget that.” Ai Yazawa
To some, this full moon is known as the sturgeon Moon, the Dog Days Moon, but I like to think of it as the Grain Moon or Corn, the Harvest Moon, that being so relevant to the Lughnasadh celebration yesterday or last Friday, the first harvest of the year.
Others might call it the Dispute Moon. The reason for it to be called the Dispute Moon is many and varied, and may simply be so because, as autumn and winter approaches, one’s survival centred on the good-will of others, and the upcoming months wasn’t a time when disputes should be started or continued.
There is an ancient Celtic story that Cerridwen, the Welsh muse or goddess of inspiration, mentioned in the Black Book of Carmarthen, is a personification of the Moon.
”She used to tell me that a full moon was when mysterious things happen and wishes come true.” Shannon A. Thompson
True, there are stories of Cerridwen in daily life, living near lake Bala (and having stayed at Bala I can highly recommend that area of Wales) and giving birth to a son and a daughter. Sadly, it is said that her son, Morfan (also called Afagddu) was ugly and so she compensated by making him wise by using magic. But, these things never run to plan.
There is also a view that, alternately, or perhaps as well as having an earthy life, Cerridwen was the Moon personified. Her name, from Welsh to English can be interpreted (depending on how you divide her name) as being ‘fair’ and ‘loved’, or ‘crooked white one’. The latter, I hold dear, as it does sum up the shape of the bright crescent moon hanging in the sky, appearing stooped or crooked. And, doesn’t the Moon inspire and invoke other-worldly wisdom? Dear Cerridwen. Dear Morfan.
So, if ever there was a time to celebrate, maybe with bread and something alcoholic, the full moon, in the wake of the first harvest of the year is such a time, as you gaze in awe up to out celestial companion. It’s a wonderful time to say a word or a prayer, raise a toast or offer a libation to the One who inspires us all, or just look up in silence and ponder the Moon-maker, The One Behind It All, The inspirer.”
It is a beautiful and delightful sight to behold the body of the Moon.“ Galileo Galilei
May the blessing of the Moon-Maker shine on you and all whom you love, and make you holy. Blessings, Tadhg
It’s nearly time for our celebration of Lughnasadh, or first harvest – Lughnasadh is the Irish Gaelic for ‘the commemoration of Lugh’ which was prevalent event in England in former years. If you live in England think of the area in London called Ludgate formerly called Luds Gate. This time, for some, is also called “Lammas”, from the old anglo-saxon – their word for loaf mass, a mass where the first loaf of bread of the harvest is consecrated.
a very brief outline of Ludhnasah, and
a hymn for it penned by Tadhg, and
a few verses about John Barleycorn from an ancient, mythical folk tune, and there’s more.
at the base of this article is your invitation to view/participate in our ‘live streaming’ Lughnasadh ceremony online, on Tadhg’s Facebook page, on Friday, 31 July 2020 at 8pm (UK time) though the event takes place in the northern hemisphere on 1 August (or the evening before). Do feel free to print this ‘article’ at home, for your personal use, as some of it will be used in the ceremony
In an agricultural society the begin of the harvest was a natural occasion to celebrate and to give thanks to the Divine for Its gifts. And, there is no reason in our technological society why we, too, should give thanks to the Lord of the Harvest, the Great provider.
This time of the year would, for our ancestors, have been a time of great joy, as the times grow darker. They would have started storing food for the winter.
But, the idea of celebrating harvest, giving thanks, storing for the winter goes back, goes back way before the times of the Church, way before even the Celts and Druids of the UK, and many thousands of years before that – and so it truly is an ancient and cosmic-celebratory time which no one religion, faith or tribe can lay exclusive ownership, which is entwined in our ancient and later day tribes’ survival and the honouring of That Which Is Larger Than Ourselves, the Great Provider.
Some time ago, with Lughnasadh or Lammas in mind, and with the idea of giving gratitude to the One Behind It All, I wrote the following Hymn For The Harvest:
HYMN FOR THE HARVEST
Lord of the harvest we come to you,
we thank you for the ripened grain
(for) the circle turning year by year.
Great provider of all humankind,
we thank you for the sun and wind,
the earth and all life-giving rain.
Surely, surely, you are good, The God of Green Hope, good to all. The Sacred Three, The Three in One.
Nature once in vernal green enrobed,
gives up its bounty, gifts for all
(and) prepares to sleep as autumn comes.
On our table you supply our bread,
We share with all, for all to be fed,
And joy in our heart at what shall be.
Surely, surely, you are good, The God of Green Hope, good to all. The Sacred Three, The Three in One.
Inspired by: Lord of the Harvest, Hymn by Joseph Anstice, 1836
To the tune of Siuil a Ruin. Link for that tune is here.
‘Green hope’ a reference to Romans 15:13, ‘The Message’, The Book.
THE STORY OF JOHN BARLEYCORN
It’s about this time of the year that many will recite, or sing the mythical song about John Barleycorn. Now, there were many variations of the song, and some have come down to us today. It’s mythical in that it’s a foundational story and was the very centre of peoples lives if we go way back.
How far back?
The first known written copy of the song appears in a manuscript penned by George Bannatyne in AD1568 (parts of the song are indented below). He was a wealthy merchant from Edinburgh and included the song of John Barleycorn in a collection of several poems, songs and other writings which he seems to have committed to paper as a simple amusement.
However there is some speculation that it was known and sung hundred of years earlier, and others think it goes way back to our civilizations’ tribal beginnings.
Why is it so profound and important?
John Barleycorn, could be seen as a symbolic figure; a poetic personification of the barley; the corn itself. Taken at this level the song describes the process of preparing the ground, sowing the seeds, watering and waiting for the crop to grow, followed by harvesting, threshing and milling. Finally, the products of brandy and bread made from barley are extolled for their virtues as staples of the diet of early agrarian peoples and upon which laborers, craftsmen and lords alike depended for their sustenance.
There were three men come out of the west,
Their fortunes for to try,
And these three men made a solemn vow,
John Barleycorn should die.
These are the first indications that the story in the song has its origins in a religious or magical ritual actually enacted in the pagan, agrarian past. If such is the case, then it would be reasonable to assume that the role of John Barleycorn would have been played out by a real person for the ritual – what we would call an enacted parable, today. And, that role-play is, indeed, acted out, today.
Did you notice that there are three men and that they come out of the west?
Why three? Why from the west?
The number three has been clearly demonstrated to have religious or magical significance in most human cultures around the planet since ancient times. The image of the Triad was adopted in later centuries by the Christian Church as a symbol of the Holy Trinity. In agrarian England – think of the triskelion or triquetra – it was originally ascribed to the worship of the Earth Goddess, who was represented in three aspects as a young maiden, a life-bearing mother, and a wise old crone.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that in the earliest Celtic writings and myths, the male heroes frequently set out in groups of three to undertake their sacred quests. It’s more than just a song – its about the cycle of life and humankind’s progress in it.
And, ‘The West’ was a euphemism for the ‘otherworld’ or ‘faerieland’ – the mystic isle across the western sea where myth and magic were commonplace, immortality could be found in the dwelling place of the gods.
Why they would come to kill him?
They let him stand till midsummer
Till he looked both pale and wan,
And little Sir John he growed a long beard
And so became a man.
They let him stand until midsummer day. He grew a beard and became a man. In the ancient pagan cultures, midsummer was the most important festival of the year, celebrated as the longest day, the victory of light before the long descent into Winter darkness.
This song is about the cycle of death and rebirth was of tremendous and practical importance to our agrarian ancestors.
John Barleycorn grows a long beard. In part, this is a simple reference to the ‘bearded barley’ which has long hair-like strands coming off the ear of corn when it is ripe for harvest.
They hired men with the scythes so sharp
To cut him off at the knee,
They rolled him and tied him by the waist,
And served him most barbarously.
They hired men with the sharp pitchforks
Who pricked him to the heart.
They wheeled him round and round the field.
When his time had come, John Barleycorn was sacrificed, his broken body was dragged through the fields to ensure future fertility.
John Barleycorn is the personification of barley, and because our ancestors life depended on it, he was the personification of life itself – life that grew from a seed, was cutdown and harvested and we benefited, died, only to return to life the following year.
YOUR INVITATION TO OUR LUGHNASADH CEREMONY FRIDAY, 31 JULY 2020 AT 8PM (UK TIME) INVITE & DETAILS OF HOW TO VIEW
If you haven’t already ‘friended’ Tadhg on his Facebook page, please see below.
Live-Streaming Video instructions: To view this inlcusive, participative, live-streaming video, you need to be a FaceBook friend of Tadhg’s as that it where the ‘broadcast’ can/will be seen. So: If you’re already a friend, or you’re been able to see many of the morning ‘Thought For The Day’ broadcasts via my Facebook site then you’re good to go.
If you’re new, not on Tadhg’s FaceBook friend’s list, or are not sure, do check here. If don’t see many previous videos there, or if you can’t gain full access to read that Facebook webpage then you’ll need to become a Facebook friend.
To become a Facebook friend: press the ‘friends’ link on Tadhg’s Facebook site – that link in the paragraph above. He will accept as soon as he can, and, when he does, please try the link again to see if you can gain full access, in readiness for the ‘broadcast’ on his FaceBook page. If you still can’t get access, or if there’s any ‘challenges’, please email him, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your are personally invited by Tadhg to a free workshop about the Celtic/Druidic ‘Eightfold Wheel Of The Year (and other notable dates), which will enhance your understanding of them, and benefit you in your daily life, solo or group ceremonies and rituals, and enhance your appreciation of the changing seasons
To view that FaceBook livestreaming workshop you will need to ‘friend’ Tadhg unless you already are a friend; otherwise details/links about that are below.
Friday, 17 July 2020, at 8pm UK Time
Tadhg’s Facebook Live-Streaming Workshop: Free Invitation
SEASONS: TURN, TURN, TURN The Eightfold Wheel Of The Year & Other Notable Dates
grab a coffee, pen and paper for notes
Using accurate, brief information, music and stories. Tadhg will outline the benefits to you of marking the seasons to make life even more interesting.
Live-Streaming Video: To view this live-streaming video, you need to be a FaceBook friend of Tadhg’s as that FaceBook page is where the ‘broadcast’ can/will be seen. So: If you’re already a friend, or you’re been able to see many of his morning ‘Thought For The Day’ broadcasts via my Facebook site then you’re good to go.
If you’re new, not on his FaceBook friend’s list or are not sure, do check here. If don’t see many previous videos there, or if you can’t gain full access to read that Facebook webpage then you’ll need to become a Facebook friend. To become a Facebook friend: press the ‘friends’ link on that very Facebook site – that link above. I’ll accept as soon as I can, and, when I do, please try the link again to see if you can gain access, in readiness for the ‘broadcast’.
If you still can’t get access, or if there’s any ‘challenges’, or you would like further details please email me, at: email@example.com.
As you now, I like to use the ancient and tribal names for the moon, relating to the month in which the full moon appears, in liturgy – especially the Full Moon ceremonies. It tells us a lot about how the ancient Celts, Druids, Jews, Christians, Pagans and others regarded and revered the moon, and the One Behind It All; and it connects us to the past, so that there is a very real link, a spiritual continuity as we look up to gaze in awe at the rolling sphere(s).
For instance, to some, the August full moon was/is known as the Sturgeon Moon because of the fish in the Great Lakes fished by the Algonquin tribes, to others it’s known as the Barley Moon, and to others, such as then Anglo-Saxons of old, the Grain Moon.
Here’s a poem for the full moon for each month of the year.
The night air is still, Quiet Moon,
and frost on the ground is strewn.
Sounds are muted and all is at rest,
Warmed we are, and so truly blessed.
We remember you in our praise tonight,
this betwixt, magical time of twilight.
Moon of Ice, we greet you well,
your smile charms us like a subtle spell.
And, as upward we crane our necks to look,
you write love-letters on our heart’s invisible book.
As you look down upon us and see
in us a reflection of the Immutable Three.
Open our hearts, our intellect and mind,
and search our ways, so that in you we find,
the reason for the smile on your face.
It is the ‘Moon of Winds’ Creator’s grace.
And, in gratitude and awe,
we cry out, insatiably, for more.
We welcome you Growing Moon,
whose face is carved like a sublime, ancient rune,
to remind us to look above and beyond,
to revere your light in that ancient pond,
to honour with all, and with our soul,
honour you, the One Behind It All.
The Bright Moon is May’s delight,
look kindly on Earth’s children tonight.
May we be blessed forever to be,
One with you, Eternal Three.
That divisions here on Earth, may cease,
as we celebrate this night as your timely feast.
We honour you, Moon of Mead,
and lift up our heads, lift up our need,
that in you, you will supply,
our humble requests, hear our plaintive cry.
That we might be blessed in your light,
and revel in oneness this summer’s night.
We celebrate midsummer, Oh Moon of Corn,
that from darkness, you are now full-born.
Around us mirth and joy is heard,
You light the world by the Creator’s word.
Teach us to listen and observe
to nature’s wisdom, to love all, and all to serve.
Welcome Barley Moon, a beaming light
o’er the golden grain at night.
Reflecting sun, giving food for our table,
you hang there in a sky, in a sea the colour of sable.
Your light now full, this month in size you grew.
Dear bright moon, we welcome you.
Welcome Singing Moon, of mirth and merriment,
of lovers’ poems, and words of lament.
At the close of day, upward many look and think,
and celebrate your beauty in song and drink.
And then in silence and awe,
we contemplate your beneficial, wholesome, tidal law.
Welcome Harvest Moon, new light reborn,
keeping watch over the cultivated corn.
As the temperatures fall and air begins to chill,
as owl noises can be heard from dale and hill,
so may we, in wonderment, pause and be still.
Ah, Moon of Snow, we welcome you,
yellow light in a sea of blue.
Created by the One Behind It All,
Arianrhod, by your name we call,
you, once again, to be,
and seek you, from incumbrance us free.
Cold Moon hanging in the darkened sky,
your love, your power, your face forever shy.
In awe we gaze upward, and and question, ‘why?’
Why should the Moon-Maker gift us,
with your smile so beauteous?
Cold Moon hanging in the darkened sky.
Ofcourse, there’s more. The above-mentioned poem can be used as liturgy by you in your solo Full Moon ceremonies, and perhaps you might like to use the particular part of the poem that relates to the month that your specific Full Moon ceremony covers. Indeed, within a couple of weeks a new Full Moon liturgy (Modwenna Rite) will appear on my blog, including this liturgy and more, ready for out next, inclusive, ‘open’, global, Full Moon ‘broadcast’ via FaceBook.
Finally, apologies for the misspelling of ‘nomenclature’ in the title of this article. It was deliberate. It so sounded like a (part) Moon spoonerism, that I couldn’t help but misspell it to describe the theme, moon names, moon nomenclature, of this article.
The moon header photograph is copyrighted: All rights reserved, 2020, Pennie Ley (see here). Used with permission. Many thanks Pennie.