Eyes Wide Open: The Luminous Web And You

20180501 EYES WIDE OPEN THE LUMINOUS WEB OF LIFE AND YOUAt the end of my garden in Capel Curig in north Wales, where it meets a rather distinctive, mysterious and therefore much-valued copse, there are a small number of gorse bushes growing wild. I love them.

I could tell you, as I looked at them, that their botanical name is Ulex europaeus, but that’s rather an academic and clinical view of them. Not very interesting. But, there’s so much more about them.

‘Everybody loves to tell me I was born an old soul
Better keep my eyes wide open’

Sabrina Carpenter, singer

I could tell you, and it is so true, that they are wonderful to look at, and when they flower between January to June their flowers are a most vivid, breath-taking and brilliant yellow. It is an also an important shrub as it provides shelter and food for many spiders, other insects, and birds such as Dartford Warblers, Stonechats and Yellowhammers. But, there’s more. Even more. There is always more. Mae mwy as they say in Wales

What if our perception is stunted? Our understanding limited?

What if our perception of other people, of nature and the cosmos, what if the view we hold even about ourselves is arrested, partial and limited by our twenty-first century thought? Like looking into a dirty, in-need-of-a-polish mirror. We do, after all, live in a society which idolises science, and which is very much the offspring of ancient Greece with its dualistic view of the world.

What if we’re blind to what is really out there?

Composition

Once, as I gazed at those gorse bushes after a rain storm they bristled with light, the reflected light of the sun in thousands of water droplets on their spiny leaves and stems, caught in their flowers and on a myriad of spider’s webs that had ‘colonised’ them. As I half-closed my eyes and let my imagination flow I could see the shrubs, the water, the lights were Life itself. And what’s more it wasn’t only the shrubs the exuded such Light-lIfe. It was everything.

‘…there is another way to conceive…life…not [as] a clockwork universe in which individuals function as discrete springs and gears, but [as] one that looks far more like a luminous web, in which the whole is far more than the parts.’ Barbara Brown Taylor, The Luminous Web.

In our mind’s eye, in our imaginations – which are no less real (and maybe more so) than the physical world we see with our two eyes – Life is not separate parts that are autonomous but are facets of the One, that Life Web. Each seeming part, an observable node, is invisibly connected to that one Luminous web, but for now we might only be able to glimpse it periodically using our mind’s eye. It is enough.

The universe, then, shines and shimmers with an ancient light that is, currently, too fantastic to behold. And what of you and I? Oh, yes, as people who are connected to that Life-Web, we too shine. ‘I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being’, said Hafiz, and ‘Let your light so shine…’, said The Christ (Matthew 5:16a, The Book). Ofcourse, there are those who will find it hard to believe, and those who will fight against such a notion, but I do believe it is true.

There is always more. Mae mwy as they say in Wales. Our composition, our outlook, our very status are all wonderfully, graciously entwined and part of that Luminous web of Life.

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship…’ (C S Lewis)

No Limitations

That Web stretches outward and is more luminous and expansive than we can yet imagine, touching everything in the universe. Why, that Web connects you, as you sit in front of your computer or iPhone reading this, with, say, the Crab Nebula, some 6500 light years away. Send out a ray of light to the Crab Nebula today and it will arrive in AD 6718. But, I would venture that that connectedness takes no travelling time should you ‘jangle’ the web of which you’re part (by sending a good-thought, a prayer, light and love in that direction, or elsewhere). Physical limitations don’t apply. The web in the Crab Nebula instantly responds. It can do no other.

There’s a wonderful book by one of my favourite ‘old’ Brit authors, John Wyndham. Amongst his great books, he was renowned for writing ‘The Day of the Triffids’. But he also wrote a book called ‘Chocky’, a delightful book that has twists and turns that causes challenges along the way. Matthew is the main character in that book and he gets into awful trouble at school for being different and acting oddly. His drawings and paintings in art classes, for instance, have odd colours for the sky and sea. Perhaps, purple instead of blue, and orange instead of green-blue water. And why do the buildings he paints seem odd and compressed? Matthew is getting his ideas from beyond, from someone else in another part of the universe – it is a sci-fi book, and a very good one at that. And this is what happens in his physics class:

‘It arose…from Mr Caffer’s assertion during a physics lesson about the speed of light was the limit; nothing, he dogmatically stated, could travel faster than light.

Matthew, put up his hand. Mr Caffer looked at him.

‘Oh’, Mr Caffer said, ‘I might have expected it. Well, young Matthew Gore, what is it you know that Einstein didn’t?’

Matthew already regretting his impulse said, ‘It doesn’t matter, sir’.

Mr Caffer insisted on a reply.

‘Well, sir. It’s just that the speed of light is only the limit of physical speed’, said Matthew.

‘Indeed. And perhaps you can tell us what travels faster?’

‘Thought, sir,’ said Matthew.

In sending a good-thought, a prayer, energy, light and love in any direction, you and I, as we’re part of that shimmering, Luminous Web, do so instantly. There is no time, no time delay involved. It’s instantaneous. Quantum physics, too, now seems to be hinting at this.

The physics that we’re so used to – and it does perform a good task when driving, shopping, mending the toaster etc – do not apply at the very deepest, spiritual, cosmic, energetic, intimate and ‘magical’ level of the Universe, of which we’re part.

Limitations do not apply, and you are not what you (probably) thought you were!

And finally…

You, too, shine with a myriad points of ancient and cosmic lights, and one day ‘when we’re there’, we will see each other as we really are, and know each other even as we are known, as it says in ancient sacred text. Meanwhile, so look deeper, more intently, intentionally, with your mind’s eye. An amazing world awakes  for those keeping their (spiritual) eyes wide open.  There is always more. Mae mwy as they say in Wales

‘There is a radiance in all things that is indestructible and almost unperceivable.’ Mark Nepo

 

Imagination: In Between Are The Doors…: A Thought

20180111 IMAGINATION IN BETWEEN ARE THE DOORS

‘The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination.’
(Albert Einstein)

With the candle lit, and sitting crossed-legged, I waited. Eyes gently closed and breathing being slow but regular, I waited a little more. Slowly I started to relax and the sense of mechanical time receded into the distance. Intentionally, I moved deeper within.

Liminality approached.

Gradually my thoughts stilled – oh there will always be a stray or nagging thought, or two, or three, but the way to deal with them is to spend no time or energy on them, but to ignore them. If you pay heed to them, even mentally note them and ‘file’ them for later attention you have ‘stepped out’ of this special time of Encounter. Just let the thoughts go.

Liminality, the ‘threshold’ is the ‘gap’ between Here and There. It is a wonderful place, accessed here by the imagination, and sometimes unwittingly visited when we relax and daydream (or dream). It is a place of peace, power and potential. A place of Encounter.

‘You say God speaks to you, but it’s only your imagination.’ These are the words spoken by the inquisitor to Joan of Arc during her trial for heresy.

‘How else would God speak to me, if not through my imagination?’ Joan replied.

This time, one of many, I was to use a kataphatic approach. Using mental pictures and symbols, I imagined a spiral staircase ascending before me. It had a rich, red stair carpet that felt thick underfoot.

The event was a guided event but not directed – that is the outcome was not scripted, and in this way I was hoping for a word of information, of direction. Ofcourse, sceptics and those firmly entrenched in twenty-first century thinking will question this approach, but it seems to work, at least for me, and so I commend it to you – even if you try it only because you’re curious or you think it might be fun to do.

Did you know that Friedrich August Kekulé, the German chemist, told of two dreams he had at key moments of his work. In his first dream, in 1865, he saw atoms dance around and link to one another. When he awoke, he immediately began to sketch what he saw in his dream. In another dream, in which he saw atoms dance around, then form themselves into strings, moving about in a snake-like fashion. This dream continued until the snake of atoms formed themselves into an image of a snake eating its own tail. This dream gave Kekulé the idea of the cyclic structure of benzene.

And so, I found myself at the top of the staircase, and pushing the large oak door open, I was in the corner of a large room, a hall, a library, infact. Just the right place to find a word of guidance, information. I could smell the dust of old books and the smell the polish used on the two dozen long wooden tables, which spanned, almost, the breadth of the library. Books ‘hugged’ all the walls, and huge frosted windows high up, tinted yellow, let in the light. The room was bathed in an other-worldly sunlight glow, or warming yellow. My heart leaped.

To my left and about twenty feet away, sat three librarians . They were indistinct  and glowing a deep yellow. Angels? Elementals? Was this Library a representation of Heaven, The Other Place, or Caer Wydyr (the Glass Fortress, as they call it in. Wales)? Apart from those three librarians and me, there was no one else in the room.

Was this a dream, a day-dream, a vision or the rambling thoughts of neurones ‘firing’ randomly in my brain brought on by the digestion of too much cheese? Or, was it a deep encounter? To consider that at this point would have ‘broken’ that ‘connection’ and allowed rational thought to overpower this experience. Right now, it didn’t matter to me. I was enjoying this experiential encounter.

‘There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.’ (Aldous Huxley)

I wandered around the Library, occasionally stopping and exploring the bookshelves to see if anything significant manifested itself. What was the word for me? Nothing. After what seemed like many minutes I found myself near the Librarians’ desk. One of them beckoned to me. Still indistinct, and glowing yellow, and without a word being spoken, I was handed a large, dusty, ‘dog-earred’ book. I took it, bowed (for some reason, but odd things like that can happen in such experiences), and turned to a long table behind me to explore the book.

I came into this liminal realm for a word of information, and believed the book would assist. As I was about to open it I was aware that the three Librarians were now behind me, peering over my shoulders. Benevolence. I was cocooned in the yellow glow they were emitting and a peaceful warmth like honey seemed to ‘pour’ over me. It made me laugh heartily for no reason.

I looked at the cover of the book, it read: The Count Of Monte Cristo. I had read that book at school many years ago, so it wasn’t on my mind and there was no reason for it to appear in this event, but this was a guided event, and not directed, and so events can seemingly take on a life of their own. But it it my belief that The Guide of All does permit encounters in this manner and prompts ‘from a distance, if ‘we have ears to listen’, if we are receptive. After all, Joseph was ‘spoken to’ in a dream. I have no doubt that the  Source of All speaks, similarly, today in dreams, in the physical realm, through others, through nature.

I gradually leafed through the pages of that book, and at page 12 I felt the Librarians draw back as though they had done all that was necessary. Near the very top of page 12, a word leaped out at me. ‘Patience’. That was my word. That was for me. I knew it. In the busy-ness of all that had happened to me over the last few months, and which was now (thankfully) drawing to a close, the word I needed was, that I was to have just a little more patience (and for a little longer).

‘Patience is not sitting and waiting, it is foreseeing. It is looking at the thorn and seeing the rose, looking at the night and seeing the day. Lovers are patient and know that the moon needs time to become full.’ (Rumi)

For that second time in that event I laughed inwardly. I turned to thank the Librarians. But, as soon as I had said the words ‘thank you’, I was ‘back’, and the Library had gone! The dream, day-dream, vision was gone. I was  conscious of sitting cross-legged in a dark room, and of the flickering candle in front of me, aware of mechanical time, and noticed now many thoughts crowding in. I had left that liminal experience, sacred time/space (and a type of ‘access’ I would commend to you) and was, indeed, back from that imaginal realm and firmly in the sensible realm (that is, this realm of the senses). Back, but different. Changed.

‘ Love is patient and kind…’ (1 Corinthians 13:4a, The Book)

Patience was what was commended to me, and a word that I took to heart, and would apply (more so) in my daily life. I extinguished the candle but sat there for some time, dwelling on that encounter which to me, (still) means a lot.

‘Imagination creates reality’. (Richard Wagner)

 

Celtic Practice: Making It Happen Takes Just 000127

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, all it takes it 0.000127.

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

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

 

Perceiving Anew: Doors To A Close Encounter: Imagination

20170908 PERCEIVING ANEW DOORS TO A CLOSE ENCOUNTER

‘Those who are Awake live in a state of constant amazement…’. (Jack Kornfield)

It was my first real full-time job and the journey across London, taking this bus, and then that train, alighting there and taking that particular escalator down to another platform for another train, and so on, was all new to me. Several years later, I was doing the same journey but without noticing much at all about the journey. And, on some occasions as I walked onto the platform to get my second train I’d stop, pause and think about the last minute or two of my journey, and not really have any memory at all of what had just happened. It was as if it had become so lost in the mundane that I hadn’t noticed anything at all, and my mind had gone blank. I couldn’t remember the advertisements on the wall, or who had passed me in the tunnels that connect one platform to another, and not even the direction signs.

I’m sure that happens to us all at various times.

Our minds not only wander, but they can seemingly ‘shut down’ or filter out much of what is really going on. It’s like reading a page from a book, maybe you’re in a hurry, and you suddenly realise at the end of the page that, although you’ve read it, you haven’t really read it and you no understanding of what the words meant. And, so you re-read it, and then it makes sense.

When perceiving anew, I think we need to ensure that we’re perceiving deeply. I love liturgy, I love poetry, but just reading the words on the page, as if by rote, academically, in a shallow manner only gives a surface-level of understanding. I want that liturgy, those wonderful words, to embrace me like a warm hug, to be like a Mediterranean sea that I can fall into. I want to connect. To be enveloped.

‘Nowness’

To perceive anew, I’d suggest being present in our mind is a first step. Thinking back is good, and planning for the future is good, but being present ‘now’ is even better.

And so he knelt down, closed his eyes, and prepared for a deep encounter. Around him, and invisible to him, hosts of powerful and ancient benevolent beings assembled. Some might call them ‘companions’, others elementals, other might call them the fae, or the Watchers, or angels. But, these Watchers crowded in to see how this person would encounter and interact with the loving-energy of the Source of All. A minute went by.

He could almost feel the distractions of the world being ‘unpeeled’ as he moved, inwardly, to some kind of inner stillness and peace. The wristwatch he was wearing, suddenly bleeped. It distracted him, and as he looked at it he remembered all the things he had to do. Opening his eyes, and getting to his feet, he rushed to the door to catch the 9.05am train. The moment had passed.

We can miss an awful lot by not being present. That ‘slipping back’ into not being present will happen, but perhaps an aim for us might be to work towards more times of ‘nowness’, and specified times of being present. Good habits are good. And, when present to be aware of what might be, what we might not see but can ‘sense’ or intuit, and that we’re surrounded by That Which Is Bigger Than Us. To be aware of the Mystery.

Aim: To be present in our mind, and to give our all to the moment, task, and event. To be fully alive. To realise there is more, and to be expectant.

Meaningful Actions

She now found himself, as usual, at the main service. She loved this service, all the pomp and ceremony, and ofcourse she loved the rich, majestic words that were used. They had the ability, as it were, to whisk her back in time, almost, and connect her to those that had gone before. Continuity. She listened intently.

It was then that she realised that the pace of the words spoken said by the person at the front seemed to be speeding up. Getting noticeably quicker. Instead of those words ‘inviting’ her ‘into’ the service and depth, they seemed to repel her. Could it be that the person saying those wonderful liturgical words was in a hurry, had important things to do? Were they even caring about those in the pews who were listening and willing to be transported into that Place of Encounter? She wondered. But, she had lost the thread of what was going on, and then seemed to just looked on at the liturgical activity as though she was an outsider. Things felt a bit ‘shallow’. She left. The effect of ‘distancing’.

It is easy to go through the actions and miss the meaning. I am sure you, like me, have been part of a ceremony where certain events have to take place in a certain order, or we’re involved in some kind of task at work where we had to process things in a certain order. It’s easy to get blaise. And, then you suddenly realise that someone will be buying the product or will be relying your calculations, or depending on you, and you’re not quite sure if your actions gave the process the due weight it needed. If someone is going to buy that product, we might ask ourselves did I put enough care and effort into making it, wrapping it etc? If leading a ceremony or providing a service we might ask ourselves if we have helped or hindered someone?

It is easy just to go through the motions. In any ceremony, the words and actions are important, but their ‘effectiveness’ stems not from the actions themselves, necessarily, but from the care and attention, the love, intentionality and time we put into them. Depth.

Aim: To take time for meaningful actions, and to enjoy the liturgy and actions, and see them an a conduit to something more.

And, it may be here that many people might stop. But, not you.

Imagination
Le Point Vierge

But there’s more.

Accepting that being present is necessary, and the ‘invitational’ liturgy, actions, words and songs are wonderful, to be used and appreciated, and can usher us closer to the Source of All, there is more

Imagination is all important. Frowned on by some, seen as something relegated to childhood only, and seen as unreal, imagination is seemingly used only by advertisers who know its power, and then proceed to sell us this holiday, or that car, or entice us to spend money in yet another sale.

He got home from work. Feeling tired he slumped onto the sofa, and his eyelids started to become heavy and close. He felt himself drifting off, and it was such a lovely feeling, he just lay there. In his mind’s eye it was as though he was in a busy room. As his mind focussed it became recognisable as a café.

There were about ten tables, and about seven other people drinking coffee. It was a warm and cosy café. Not too light, not too dark. The walls were a magnolia colour, and had prints of paintings on them of the great masters. He looked around at the other people in the café. Others looked at him, momentarily. They looked normal. And yet something within him saw something was not quite as it should be, something was different. He didn’t have the words to describe it but the was more going on than meets the (minds) eye.

He let this dream-like episode play on. With a cup of coffee now in front of him, he sipped it. It tasted heavenly. It was then that he noticed all the other occupants had left, and it was just him and the barista, alone.

He could hear himself talking to the barista. ‘We’re alone, how extraordinary that it should happen just like that’,  he said as he clicked. The barista, a person who looked like she had been doing this work for a long, long time, learned over his table, and with the voice of an angel , said, ‘Honey, you ain’t never alone’.

He woke up. But sat there quietly pondering on the meaning of that encounter.

Using our imagination  as we move through the day and especially when in quiet times of prayer, ritual, ceremony etc – is of paramount important, and is yet another vital step of moving closer to an encounter with the Source of All. Imagination complements our actions, and ‘adds’ to them.

Ofcourse, in one sense we’re always close(r), never alone, and so why use imagination? But, it seems to me we benefit from those times when we know we’re close, and we can use imagination as a conduit to step into that Place of Encounter. Times that usher into that awareness are important.

Aim: To draw near using our imaginations as a ‘tool’ for liminal encounters, both externally and internally.

These inward encounters have been called various names down the ages. Some call them liminal doors, le point vierge, ‘thin places’, peak experiences, or to the Quakers they are known as the Inner Light. But, they exist, and imagination is one way of putting ourselves in the flow of events and times that lead to a deep, meaningful, ‘inner’ encounter with the Beloved. It’s the Meeting Place, and you’re invited.

Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing
and right-doing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.

Rumi

 

The Telling Place: Ritual And Anamnesis

20170515 THE TELLING PLACE RITUAL AND ANAMNESISI am an avid fan of ritual and liturgy. Not for any ‘spooky, or old-fashioned, and ‘quant’ reasons, but because ritual and liturgy, like a good piece of music, can usher us into a state of deep thought and meditation, waft us into the liminal realm of the imagination and on into sacred time-space; a ‘thin place’ [known as caol áit, pronounced ‘kweel awtch’ in Gaelic]. It has energy. It is status-declaring. It ushers us into (an awareness of) the Presence.

The sun had set. A chill had set in, but the air was still. No birdsong could be heard at all. And so,  a  group of twenty stalwarts sat in a circle, around the open fire, as the bodhrán sounded a slow drumbeat. One person nominated to lead the event, the Guardian, stood and moved in a clockwise direction, pausing at the four cardinal points, before moving to the centre of the circle. He invoked the energy of the Source of All.

It has been said by some modern-day scholars that ritual is outdated, and nothing more than a futile attempt to ensure the safety of an individual, who, when invoking the presence of an overpowering god or God, is fearful. Or, it’s to appease an angry god or God. I’d like to suggest something different. For me, ritual is a reminder that we continually stand in the presence of the Source of All, a wholly benevolent Power, and ritual acts as a reminder to us of that fact, and that this is a special time set aside to draw even closer, and/or to be aware of that fact. Ritual, then, is for our benefit. To (re-)empower and (re-)enable us.

Everyone waited with expectancy. All could perceive the flames from the fire, but little else. Night was drawing in. And, yet what our eyes couldn’t see, was more than made up by our ‘imaginal eyes’, our mind’s eye, the eyes of our hearts, our imaginations. Some saw ancient archetypes of power ‘skip’ from the flames, others elementals that moved in and out of the circle from the surrounding forest trees in a joyful manner, and still others ‘saw’ elusive power-animals at their sides. Some ‘saw’ nothing, but felt an almost over-powering tangible presence of benevolence descend, and embrace them.

There is a physicality to ritual, but it is more. If ritual is just a series of moves and words, and nothing else, then it’s akin to a Harry Potter spell – the kind, in that movie, where one has to be careful to get everything exactly right, otherwise, who knows what might happen? Ritual is a series of actions and words, and to be enjoyed, but it’s more. Left at that level, it is pure ‘theatre’.

It’s physical, but imaginal, too. Perhaps most of the ‘action’ takes place in the realm of the soul, that imaginal realm. It’s ‘in’ the imagination, but no less real (and some of us might say more real!) And, then there’s intentionality. If you didn’t get the ritual right, don’t worry. I do believe our intentions are most important, and that the Source of All honours our intentions.

The Guardian of the circle spoke of the illusion of time and space, and how we view it as linear. The Guardian also spoke of connectedness, of the ‘Great Chain Of Being’, or being ‘at one’ with our forebears, the Ancestors. He raised his hands, momentarily, and declared that the Ancestors were here! The drumming stopped.

You, like me, are probably ‘amphibian’. We, seemingly, live in two realm. We live in a world of dualism, separateness and individuality, and yet, deep within us we each yearn for connectedness and deep spirituality, as though that was our ‘default program’. I do believe it is.

We are connected.

Someone one said that what we do to others, we do to them. Connectedness.

Some say that if a butterfly beats its wings on one side of the planet, it might lead to a tornado elsewhere. Connectedness.

Scientists tell us that each one of us is made of atoms that, at one time, were inside a distant star that exploded – yes, we really are star dust. Astronomically, connected.

And, our ancestors? We wouldn’t be here if it were not for them, and many of our innate characteristics, unbeknownst to us, probably come from them in one glorious time-spanning family tree (of which we’re all part). Connectedness. Our ancestors, are here. If you don’t believe in ghosts, perhaps they’re here in actual spirit or presence, or in essence, or in our DNA (or all of those, and more)?

In this ritual, it felt as though we had been pulled out of physical time, as a group, and  into sacred space-time, and were propelled back in time to engage with the Ancestors in story. Or, was it that they had joined us? Or, was it that space-time does not exist, but the ritual, using metaphors, and using the illusion of pulling us out of physical time had given us an awareness of them in the ‘now’? Already there? Already connected, but unaware? I believe so.

This remembering is called anamnesis: a remembering that makes the original event present to the believer. In a very real sense, ritual negates time and space. The Passover Seder starts with the question, ‘How is  this night  different from all other nights?’ Ritual, then, brings the participant into that timeless realm of the sacred in which the time and space that separates the participant from the original event just disappears. It’s not just remembering. It’s a re-experiencing and a re-connectedness to that former event – in this case story and the Ancestors. Anything less that that, is merely mimesis, an imitation or re-enactment. Sadly as regards the latter, (especially, but not only in organised religion(s)), a lot of mimesis goes on in ritual.

A slight wind blew through the encircled people. In a low voice, the Guardian said that this time-space was a Telling Place, a place of story, myth and ‘magic’. Like a ‘thin place’ as Celts and Druids of old would have known it. For the next twenty minutes he told an ancient story of birth, and death, and re-birth. A story that was as old as the cosmos itself, and full of hope, and evident in the sacred text of many cultures. He went on to say that some know this as Saṃsāra, others know it as Moksha, and yet others know it as the Paschal Mystery. He said it was ‘built into the very fabric of the universe’.

As a Druidic-Christian, an inclusive and sociable person, I enjoy meeting new people, leading events, sharing deep spiritual truth, and listening to others. It’s by listening and then sharing, like iron sharpens iron, that we grow. In many cases, we’re saying the same thing, but using different words, or coming at it from a different perspective.

After twenty minutes the Guardian concluded the story and sat down, and some others from the circle, as they felt led, shared ancient stories, stories of life, and some shared parts of their life-story.

Our stories are as important to the Universe as its story is to us. Could it be that we are the product of the Universe’s wish to be self-aware? If so, there is a wonderful circularity there. Like an electric circuit that is complete and working. The Universe gave birth to us, so that ‘it’ could be aware of itself, and see itself, and did so by (even) including us as part of the Universe. The idea, then, that we’re separate is an error. We’re included in the cosmos, in nature (or as some might say, ‘life, the universe and everything’), but some, sadly, are unaware of this fact.

After a few minutes had elapsed since the last story-sharer had finished and sat down, the Guardian stood. The bodhrán sounded a slow drumbeat as the Guardian moved in an anti-clockwise direction, pausing at the four cardinal points, and ‘closed’ the meeting by moving back to the centre of the circle and raising his hands momentarily. The drumming stopped. Everything was still, and oh-so quiet. He said a short blessing-prayer and sat down. Slowly, ‘normal’ time and interaction resumed.

And so, we re-entered physical time. Ofcourse, we all knew that what we had experienced was still true, and still with us. But, we also knew that as humans, and living in the world we do today, that we need to ‘compartmentalise’ our awareness.  True, we can obtain glimpses of ‘real’ reality as we go about our daily life, but we also acknowledged a different mode of ‘operation’ when working in the office, the factory, when driving, or formulating a shopping list – all necessary activates that ‘pull’ us away from deep awareness. Regrettable, but perhaps understandable in living in this society. Nevertheless, That Which Is Larger Than Ourselves is on your side (so, don’t feel awful about it…but cherish those times when you can fully enter into that liminal space and/or the daily glimpses you might experience). It’s okay to be an ‘amphibian’.

However, you and I know that there’s more. And, the sharing of stories is a great way, an awesome way to exercise liminality, and enter into that Telling Place that transcends time and space. I do believe it’s about time I organised another Telling Place event.

Celtic OrthoPraxis: Today, As You Encounter ‘Reflective Robots’…

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‘The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.’ William Makepeace Thackeray

As a child, did you ever have toy figures or dolls that you would set out, play with, and re-enact some of the scenes from your childhood life?

I used to have lots of action figures to play with as a child, and one action figure in particular represented a rather grumpy school teacher. I’d use the action figure to re-enact various scenes, knowing always that at the end of the game that that particular action figure would go back in the box. But, ofcourse, I grew out of that kind of playing with action figures by the time I was 40yo. (Actually, I was much younger than that, but I just wanted to bring a smile to your face). 

It’s interesting the number of people, family, friends and strangers that (sometimes) seem to upset us. It has been said that upsetting scenarios will often repeat themselves until (in a positive way) we have found the message they are trying to communicate to us.

‘Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.’ Carl Jung 

Even more interesting is that Carl Jung believed that those who irritated us were, in some way, reflecting back to us something about ourselves that we may not want to encounter. He called it the ‘shadow’ or the ‘shadow self’, and (that’s something for another occasion), although the shadow is something we hide, it is a veritable power-house of energy that can be used positively and creatively.

But, the idea of reflection is the theme for today. As we go about our daily life, at home, school, college, work etc, Jung would tell us that what we ‘see’ in others, the way they interact with us, is a direct result of something of us being reflected in others. 

In others, we see a ‘mirror’ of ourselves, and usually the negative ‘bits’ that we find offensive!

So, here’s a game for us to play, a spiritual game, and it goes like this:

The Great ToyMaker has created an endless variety of robotic toys, and some of these you will encounter today, and they will look so lifelike. The Great Toymaker has programmed these toys to amuse you and comfort you, and to do so, they are attuned to your thought waves.

The ‘challenge’ is that you have so many thoughts, and conflicting ones at that, that sometimes, the other toys, these robots become confused. [Please don’t blame them for this, and please don’t blame yourself, either. It is the way it is, and they and you don’t need blame, but forgiveness, if anything.]

A conflicted mind sends out dual, confusing signals, and so those robotic toys will say and do annoying things. Forgive yourself and them, and that’s really like the Great ToyMaker’s robotic toys’ ‘reset button’ being pressed, and they’ll modify their words and behaviour, as you mind sends out one signal and not conflicting ones.

So, today the Great ToyMaker will ensure that certain robotic toys, looking extraordinarily lifelike, will cross your path and will show you something about yourself. They will outwardly reflect something of your inner you. Be prepared, as they’ll act just the way your thought waves ‘command’ them. Be forgiving.

And, with practice your aim is for a consistent signal to be sent and not conflicting thoughts. 

When you hear and see something untoward from the robotic toys you meet today, ask yourself what it is within you that is being reflected back and needs analysing and, perhaps, changing? And, don’t forget to ‘reset’ that encountered robotic toy by forgiving it! And, forgive yourself, too! Yes, think: robot, re-set, forgive!

[Based on an exercise by Hugh Prather in his book, A Book Of Games: A Course In Spiritual Play].

As a deep-thinker, creative person, Celt and/or Christian and/or Druid, who is concerned about a number of issues, I’d suggest trying this for today, at least. I’ll join you, in doing so, too! And, it may be best not to let on that you’re playing some kind of spiritual game to those encountered robotic toys, or even that you view them as robots! Let me know, please, what happens. If interested in this type of  spiritual game, there’s another article, based on another of Prather’s exercises here.

‘He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.’ Lao Tzu

Celtic Daily Living: The Three Realms

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We live in an age where  some   try to ‘package’ spirituality and sell it to us. How many times have you and I been asked to place our  hands on the tv screen and then send money, or type ‘Amen’ on a FaceBook page to receive a miracle? Many others, thousands upon thousands do it. They do it, without understanding  that miracles and grace they so eagerly want, infact flows to all, and is  acknowledged by those aware of it, and this occurs unconditionally.

So, how do we tap into that energy, that power, that grace-conduit, unbridled and deep spirituality?

I believe there are (at least) three realms, levels of existence.

‘Three is a magic number
Ya it is, it’s a magic number
Somewhere in that ancient mystic trinity
You’ll get three
As a magic number’

(Song lyrics)

Buddhists talk of three realms (which they call the Trailokya) consisting of:

  • the highest one described something akin to heaven (or four heavens, infact) called Arūpaloka;
  • the in-between one is the world of form (our Physical world) called Rūpaloka;
  • and a lower one, Kāmalokae. With respect to Buddhists, I’d like to build on, and slightly alter definitions, at least for this article.

Perhaps, we could view creation consisting on three realms for simplicity-sake, for now and we might ‘build upon and add to this later) sake. Certainly the ancient Celts were fascinated with numbers, and especially the number three! So, perhaps we could say there is:

  • the Realm of the Spirit (or the Ouranic Realm), and ‘under’ that,tic-tac-toe-1777815__180
  • the Realm of the Soul or Psyche (which unpacks thoughts using symbolism, dreams etc),  and ‘under that,
  • the Physical Realm, the one we all know the best.

If we don’t understand the relationship and power of each of these realms, then maybe our life will be less than it could be – like a car ‘firing’ with one engine cylinder dormant. It’ll move along the road, inefficiently, ‘lumpily’, you’ll have a bad journey,  not a good ride. Car engine damage eventually ensues.

Understanding and balance between these realms, then, and how they relate to our lives is what is needed. What do you think?

But, first a closer look at the three realms. The three realms are:

number-11. The realm of (the) Spirit: Some call this the Ouranic Realm:  My favourite mystic of yesteryear, the Lady Julian, believed that the ‘fall’ (if that’s how some interpret the early  Genesis story of humankind) did not affect humanity in this realm of (the) Spirit. We are therefore continually in bliss, come what may, and nothing can separate us. We can draw comfort from that.

The problem with  only living with this mentality, is that we separate ourselves from daily life, it could lead to arrogance, perhaps, and we really miss out on life’s lessons. We end up, then, as holy people, but unable or unwilling to relate to, or work with others, and that’s not really holiness at all.

Living a life with this realm in mind, as a balanced form of living, and living the otherconsciousness-1719995__180 realms as well, is what’s needed.

We approach this realm through participative religious or spiritual liturgy and ceremony/ritual etc, which is why the latter is important. It needs to be participative, as that ushers us into the liminal – that threshold between here and there – to access this realm (albeit in part, ‘at a ‘distance’ etc), whereas passively looking on is liminiod – a near miss but with only a second-rate feeling of encounter. How sad if many are accepting the liminiod and missing the ‘full-blown’ liminal encounter?

‘Love calls – everywhere and always.
We’re sky bound.
Are you coming’. Rumi

From here, good thoughts and ideas ‘descend’ to the Realm of the Soul, as if ‘out of the blue’.

number-22. The realm of the soul: Some call this the Psychic Realm: Don’t be phased by the last term; it really means the arena of the soul, the psyche, the area of mental faculties that we all possess. Hollywood has something to answer for, for its poor portrayal of this word and realm, and fear-mongering.

To only live in this realm will make us feeling we have achieved something, but without living in balance with the other two realm we only travel so far. Many people who subscribe to an organised religion may be operating only at this level, and wonder why things are not working out, are out of balance?

‘Change your thoughts and you change your world.’ Norman Vincent Peale

Maybe, what is needed is to live at this level, is study, reading, living it, understanding the symbolism of this level, but be aware that there’s more?

Prayer at this level is likely to be only a shopping-list type of prayer (and as part of a balanced prayer-life there’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s more). Move beyond that to the stillpoint, and you suddenly encounter the Source of All and graze that realm of the Spirit! Absolutely wonderful. Meaningful. Powerful. A time and place of encounter! It is the place of the imagination and dream-images, symbols that ‘seep down’ from the Ouranic Realm. A place to enter, and stay a while. Yet, some fear it.

‘Everything you can imagine is real.’ Pablo Picasso

But, ofcourse, only operate at this level and we miss such a lot. It’s here, that I encourage discerning men and women into the Imaginal Realm (which is part of this major realm) in my LiminalPeople ministry.

number-33. The Physical Realm: This is the easiest one to understand. We can look around and see it, hear it, feel it, shape it etc. If we’re aware and living in cognizance of the other two realms, then things really happen.

To recap: Thoughts start in the Ouranic Realm, permeate into our Psyche, that Psychic realm – usually as pictures, desires, symbols as that is the ‘language’ of the soul and the imaginal realm, and then flow ‘down’ to the Physical Realm, and appear, are manifested around us, essentially.

‘This world is but a canvas to our imagination.’ Henry David Thoreau

Ofcourse, if all three realms are not operating in balance, if we favour one – and many people favour the Physical Realm and/or the Psychic Realm then ego takes over, and what is manifest is sadly ‘misshapen’, skewed, negative and short-lived, if it is manifested at all.

number-4Balance: Balance is need in our lives, and awareness comes first to know how to ‘dwell’ and ‘use’ the power and opportunities of each realm. What do you think?

One way is to use the Psychic Realm as a ‘half-way- step in our understanding of the other two realms. In that Psychic Realm, or the Imaginal Realm (as I call it with discerning men and women who attend my sessions, worskhops) we receive information and power from ‘above’ and that would be (1) the Ouranic Realm; process those symbols of meaning and power in (2)  the Imaginal Realm (and so we ‘work’ there in my sessions –  it’s rather like a guided and directed ‘day-dream), and use affirmation and intentionality for it to manifest itself in (3) the Physical Realm.

‘The major work of the world is not done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people, with balance in their lives, who have learned to work in an extraordinary manner.’ Gordon B Hinckley

If all three Realms are used appropriately, benefits follow. Live only in one or two Realms,balance-154516_960_720 like many in organised religion, and benefits and manifestation are difficult. We have a form of understanding but lack the power of all Realms working in co-operation. 

So, using the Imaginal Realm, that realm of the Soul, is one way forward for some to start or go deeper, and that will be the theme of the ministry of Tadhg’s  LiminalPeople and it’s website. It’s through the Imaginal Realm, as one way of many, that we can tap into that spiritual power and benefit. You can have a sneak preview of the first webpage of LiminalPeople now, at:

www.liminalpeople.org

Do bookmark the front page please, and I’m hoping it’ll be fully functional by 16 November, and you may benefit. More details in a few days about the website.

 

three-realms

Your Journey: Becoming An Edge-Walker

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I’m an avid reader of books, and I like to read from a wide genre and different styles, so that I can get a broader glimpse of the world through the eyes of others from all walks of life. I’ve just finished a book written by a man that walked the  Amazon.

‘You have to just dive over the edge. You haven’t got time to mess about’. Ralph Fiennes

And, I’ve also just finished re-reading a book by Cheryl Strayed about her hike of more than a thousand miles along the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to Washington State in the USA. Great adventurers, arduous journeys, ‘highs’ and lows’ from people who had tough times, but who overcame obstacles, and thereby grew in many ways, and returned changed.

It got me thinking. In what ways do we – you and I – prosper when we leave our comfort zone and venture forth into the unknown, ‘to boldly go’, and move from the centre to the edge. The edge is where adventure and treasure can be found.

‘Only ever doing what feels comfortable is a form of suicide.’ Oli Anderson.

Our natural ‘default’ position is of being ‘centre settlers’, we enjoy our comfort zones, love the ‘comfrotable armchair’ of life, but unbeknown to us that armchair can be a most dreadful place, a place that’s so comfrotable that we’re lulled into a warm, cozy, false-sleep of complacency (if we spend all our time there) as the clock ticks on, and opportunity paases us by.

‘The most dangerous place is in your safety zone.’ Robin S Sharma

So, what’s the answer, fellow sojourner?

Caution: The following is to whet your appetite, and to encourage you to become an ‘edge-walker’, someone who doesn’t always stay within the confines of their safety zone, but ventures forth on an awesome adventure. Therefore, as you read this article and, maybe, proceed towards the edge, do so cautiously, ‘testing the waters’ as you go, using reason,  some logic, and lots of common-sense to ensure your safety, but don’t be timid about new experiences. Oh, and, yes, use lots of imagination, too. Great things happen at the edge, as you will find out….that is, if you leave your comfort zone.

‘Beyond the edge of the world there’s a space where emptiness and substance neatly overlap, where past and future form a continuous, endless loop. And, hovering about, there are signs no one has ever read, chords no one has ever heard.’ Haruki Murakami.

The Journey

So, what would a movement toward the edge, a journey into the unknown look like. There are a number of common stages, and these are:

1. The status quo: This is our home, where we are now! It’s where we are before we start out, it’s the ‘ordinary’ life, but a place where we experience the feeling of not quite fitting in. Do you feel that you don’t quite fit in?

2. The Call:  The comes a time when we receive a mysterious and/or unexpected invitation, message or challenge. It could come in the physical realm, or it could be an inner conviction, which calls us to something greater. It’s natural to query our capabilities, and some never get beyond this stage, sadly, because they seemingly disqualify themselves.

3. Meeting Your Mentor: As if by ‘magic’, someone who will equiip us with the nitial information to get us started, give us the necessary ‘tools’ for our journey to the edge, and give us great encouragement, will arrive. You may have heard the maxim, ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear’. Well, it’s true. And, maybe for you, this stage is happening right now, as you read this article.

‘Don’t assume, this journey to the edge is only a physical journey to some remote land. For you, it could be an inner journey of discovery, just as every bit as real as a trek through a jungle, a desert, or up a mountain.’

4. Departure: Now, we leave. Ofcourse, thoughts arise as to whether we’re doing the right thing. Family and friends may query the logic of what we’re doing – they have, maybe, the best will in the world, but they’re not you or I, and they haven’t received our calling. But, we’ve answered the Call (though some do turn back even at this point, sadly), and we leave the familiar. We move over the ‘city limits’ into the liminal zone – over the threshold into the unknown. We depart, and take the first real step towards our adventure towards the edge.

‘Our journey could be a physical one. It could be an imaginal one, a real imaginal one. As Pablo Picasso said, ‘Everything you can imagine is real.’

5. Adventure, Trials & Allies: As our adventure unfolds, there may be trials along the way. Tests of somekind, perhaps. But, don’t worry, help is at hand. We will find allies along the way, too, who will possess just the skills or infotmation we need, to assist us. In the physical realm we will be assisted by people, locals and those with specialist knowledge. But, what of the imaginal realm? Why, then you are limited only by your imagination. Perhaps, as in our night dreams, we will encounter and be assisted by companions, angels, elementals, animals.? Who knows? All ‘energies’ within our psyche.

6. The Cave: Here is a totally unknown land or experience. It requires boldness on our part, but we’ve come this far, and so we carry on. In one ancient story, Jonah found himself being tossed about by the sea (having been thrown overboard), and a big fish, maybe a whale, comes swimming along. That’s akin to a huge (animal) cave.

7. Crisis?: It might be, not always, that things come to a head. We face a crisis along our journey, in our life. It comes ‘out of the blue’ and ‘knocks us sideways’! It might be that we have to traverse a huge desert. Perhaps it is facing a, metaphorical, monster or challenge, something we have to overcome. For Jonah, it was being swallowed by the big fish. A form of ‘death’; certainly a massive ‘jolt’ to his system, and humbling.

8. The Reward, The Treasure: After traveling so far, our efforts are rewarded and we find what we’ve been looking for whether it is in the physical realm or imaginal realm: this could be information, wisdom, answers, guidance, healing, growth and transformation etc. Perhaps, we didn’t know what to expect, maybe we were looking for transformation, but it is at the edge that we discover it.

‘We live at the edge of the miraculous’, Henry Miller

Here at the very edge – where things are totally different to home, we discover what you’ve been seeking.

‘For some in imaginal realm sessions with Tadhg, some have come with questions, say, and in that inner, imaginal realm, have been directed by an ally or two to an imaginal landscape eg an inner library, only there to discover the answer to the question that has been troubling them. Like a night dream sequence this inner journey can yield great benefits,

9. Going Home: The journey is almost over, and now the journey home (easier than the outward journey) commences. But, we’re carrying treasure, now. But, there’s more.

10. Different!: There’s more. We’re not the same as when we embarked upon the journey. We’ve grown, matured, maybe, even transformed. Something has changed. We’ve moved up a spiritual stage. And, maybe we ‘wrestle’ with how we will use this treasure and transformation: for ourselves and/or for others? Maybe, there’s another ‘battle’ of a different sort here? Nevertheless we resolve it, maybe with the help of allies, or the mentor, and journey home

11. Back Home: This is the final stage of this particular quest. We’ve returned home to the ‘ordinary’ world. We’ve grown, got treasure or some sort, matured, been transformed, faced challenges and overcome them, and even more.

12: What Next? But, there’s even more. We know two (more) things. Firstly, the treasure we have and the experiences we’ve had have shown us that we need to share them, share our ministry, with others and not keep them to ourselves. Our horizons and outlook have broadened. Secondly, in coming home to the ‘ordinary’ world, the familiar, our ‘eyes have been opened’, and as we look around, we realise that this place, home, isn’t ‘ordinary’ at all, but it extraordinary, and always has been (but, formerly, we never knew it).

Ofcourse, this is but one adventure. There will be others, and they, too, may follow the abovementioned steps but the experiences and aims will be totally different.

The End, Or Is It?

‘Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.’ Albert Einstein

Right now, you can go on an inward, imaginal journey of power and potential. You can become an edge-walker. It’s a journey to find answers to questions you might have; a journey to discover treasure which may be wisdom, guidance or healing; to explore strange, new, inner worlds of the psyche where answers and treasure manifest themselves like symbols in our night dreams; and where you can encounter angels, archetypes, animal guides, companion(s), all metaphors of energies encountered in dream (but, here, done purposefully), all by booking a one-to-one creative-visualisation, imaginal session with Tadhg in person, or via Skype.

‘When you get to the end of all the light you know and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.’ Edward Teller

You can benefit from a physical journey to the edge, sure; but you can also (just as much) benefit from that inward journey of adventure and discovery. If you have questions about that inner, imaginal journey, of using creative imagination or this article, do contact me by email at: tadgh@tadhg.cymru or, in the next 7-10 days await for the announcement about Tadhg’s dedicated website, which will give much more information. Details of that website will follow within the next few days.