Things That Go Bump In The Night: Random Thoughts & One View On Meditation

20170712 THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT 1You could be forgiven, especially after my (likely) encounter with the Gwrach y Rhibyn early yesterday morning, for thinking that a night in the woods would be out of the question. Oh, but you don’t know me.

In north Wales I live in a rural and relatively remote area, and I love it. It is a complete contrast to city life and my time spent in London. Here, near Capel Curig, I can relax, breathe easily and walk lightly upon the earth. It’s a great place – even when peering out of the living room window at lush, grey-green mountains in the distance – to let thoughts meander. And, tonight (the evening of 11 July, 2017) thoughts, for no seeming reason, were rife.

There was only one thing for it – a hike (albeit a short one this time) and a night under the stars. I have my favourite nearby places and haunts to camp, usually about an hour’s trek away from where I live, but last night a walk into the forest lasting about ten minutes would put me in thick forest, and would suffice. And, ‘awalking’ I went.

‘The sky grew darker, painted blue on blue, one stroke at a time, into deeper and deeper shades of night.’ Haruki Murakami,

And, after erecting the tent under a deep blue-black, clear sky and a ‘starry, starry sky’, sometime shortly before midnight, those rampant thoughts raced even more.

Alone.

Firstly, the Gwrach y Rhibyn – the witch, that hag of the mist and portent of death! Fearful of the Gwrach y Rhibyn? No, when told numerous stories of that hag I was always taught to have a healthy respect for such beings, or if you’re not too sure whether such beings exist then insert the word ‘stories’ for ‘beings’. And, so I was taught to have a healthy respect, but no fear. However, as I sat there, outside the tent I can assure you that my eyes were wide open and I was alert. One cannot be complacent. I’m reminded of those people that rear lions from cubs and then invite a fully grown male lion into their house. I like reading about such events, but to me that’s one step too far.

Healthy respect.

If I encountered the Gwrach y Rhibyn out there, in the open, that’s okay…but to invite her into my house, where she could ‘turn’ and then I would have the problem of removing her, is quite something else. But, I’m not a fearful sort of person. Not silly, or ‘over brave’, but not fearful. I told you my thoughts were racing that evening. So, a healthy respect for the hag of the mist is good. But, all is well. She’s not here.

Other thoughts continued to flow like boats on an ocean. And, so it was an opportunity to meditate. There are different ways that word ‘meditate’ is used, and different forms of meditation, and for some of my friends the word and process is anathema, and it confuses me why they should think that.

Open mindedness.

The ancient and latter-day Celts and Druids are an imaginative lot. If you read some stories of old you get the impression of a myriad of shape-shifters and ‘magical’ things happening. Why, even dear St Patrick was said, at one time, to have shape-shifted into a deer to escape danger. And there’s at least one reference in the Book to a talking donkey. And, don’t even get me started on selkies and kelpies. Did these actually happen or where did they occur in the imagination of someone’s thoughts? And, does that really matter? They happened!

Joan of Arc at her trial: I hear voices telling me what to do. They come from God.
Robert: They come from your imagination?
Joan: Of course. That is how the messages of God come to us. (Scene I)

Those inner workings of the mind are important, and meditation is all-important. Bearing in mind different forms of meditation and interpretations of the word, here’s one definition: meditation is the ability to objectively hold a thought at arms-length, metaphorically’, and analyse it. It’s the one I was using last night in the forest, as I held each thought at arms-length and inspected it.

Analysis.

Meditation isn’t about letting your mind go blank (and so you don’t need to worry if anything will ‘crawl’ in that vacant slot (even if such negative things exist)). Right then, last evening, there was no probability of my mind going blank. As I sat there, quietly, a large number of thoughts moved through my mind, like boats endlessly sailing across the ocean.

Thoughts such as: What would those Christian friends (who don’t know if my Druidic tendencies) think of me if they knew? What would my Druid friends (who don’t know of my (Christian) theological degree and ordination) think of me if they knew? What should I do now about the possibility of moving house after Christmas? Should I re-paint the outside of my house? Should I take up Ben’s challenge (after I ‘thrashed’ him at chess) of a wrestling match? Actually, that one is easy to answer. Self-preservation kicked in.

‘Each flying thought, a flying thought pursues.’ C B Langston

But, other thoughts, for no real reason, raced though my mind, like speedboats on the ocean. Infact, very much like ocean-liners on the ocean. Meditation, in the form I was practicing that night, was very much like peacefully gazing out to sea and looking, intently, only on the distant area where the sea ‘touches’ the sky. Focussing on that area, you’re then aware of vessels passing in the nearer field of view but you pay them no attention. I’m sure you’ve done that, in reality, when on the beach. And, that for me, was last tonight’s meditation. Not focussing on all distracting thoughts, except for the one that I wanted to analyse.

Objectivity.

Each thought – about the Gwrach y Rhibyn, what some of my Christian friends might think of me, what my Druid friends might think of me, and Ben’s challenge – was analysed. This is not to say they worried me, nor that  I had to work through them, frantically. Quite the opposite. This form of meditation is all about focussing on one thought, holding it at arms-length, and objectively analysing it from all possible angles. ‘Well, I didn’t know I had so much emotional baggage attached to that thought’, and ‘Why do you, dear thought, keep returning, and you seem bigger than before?’. And, ‘This is a powerful thought…only If I grant it that power’, or ‘That’s an interesting thought, but I’ll come back to you later, dear one’, and so on.

We, each, have that power to hold thoughts in an objective way, and as with any muscle, the more we do it, the more it grows. The more we say to ourselves we cannot do it, it’s too hard or give up, so the faculty reduces. You are not your thoughts. You are more!

‘You are more than your thoughts, your body, or your feelings. You are a swirling vortex of limitless potential who is here to shake things up and create something new that the universe has never seen.’ Richard Bartlett

And so, as I sat there, and it was gone 2am before I turned out the torch’s light, I had systematically worked though a number of thoughts – many which you will never know about.  And, that may be a good thing. After all, What would those Christian friends (who don’t know if my Druidic tendencies) think of me if they knew? What would my Druid friends (who don’t know of my (Christian) theological degree and ordination) think of me if they knew? You can see the irony here, I’m sure: those few detailed admissions here, that genie is now out of the bag, for all to see. But, I’m that kind of guy. And, I trust you, anyway!

Between friends!

As, I laid there, and with sleep descending quite fast, I heard a rustle in the undergrowth nearby. That thought was nipped in the bud quite quickly, analysed within seconds and dismissed. If that was the Gwrach y Rhibyn, she had better not come between me and my sleep! Oh no! Needless to say, after what seemed only a few minutes I opened my eyes to the most glorious yellow and bright sunrise, and assumed, after all, that it wasn’t the hag of the mist. But, it makes you think! And, there I go again!

Through A Glass Darkly: A Celtic Perspective

20170703 THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY PERSPECTIVEDoes Channel 4 tv station still use the ‘4’ logo that is made up of disparate parts that change the whole of the logo depending on how you view it? And, as the camera moves around it, the jumble of parts suddenly becomes the number ‘4’, but only for a second or two, and then it’s just a jumble again as the camera moves on.

‘For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.’ 1 Corinthians 13:12, The Book

Perspective is all important.

I once ‘accidently’ got into a discussion with someone who wanted to convince me that the sun and moon were the same size, because during a total eclipse the moon exactly covers the face of the sun. I talked to them about perspective, and that the sun is much larger than the moon but much further away, but to no avail. Perspective fail!

‘A group of blind men heard that a strange animal that they had never encountered before, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form.

Out of curiosity, they said: ‘We must inspect and know it by touch, to know more about this strange animal’. So, they sought it out, and when they found it they groped about it.’ In the case of the first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said, ‘This being is like a thick snake’.

For another one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, the elephant is a pillar like a tree-trunk.

Another blind man who had placed his hand upon its side said, ‘The elephant is a wall’. Another who felt its tail, described it as a rope.

The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is that which is hard, smooth and like a spear.’

Each had a different idea about what the elephant really looked like. None were actually wrong, but neither had any of them an idea of the totality of what an elephant looked like. (Ancient Indian parable.)

This morning – yes, I’m still in London – I was out in my little garden looking at a site in the distance that’s about to be developed, and I gave thanks that, for a short while, I can see the River Thames as it flows nearby. The view is wonderful. But, there is part of me that, right now, would prefer to gaze a the green-grey mountains of slate and granite of home, Wales.

But, what we see and how we relate to it, depends on us. Doesn’t it?

Someone with me in London might like the ‘buzz’ of the City, others might not like the noise. If in Wales, some (like me) might revel in the majestic beauty of nature, but others might not be able to ‘acclimatise’ to the much slower ‘country time’.

This got me thinking. How we ‘see’ things affects what we regard as them being ‘of value’. Perspective is very important.

If I look at a tree, and I have axe in my hand, and as a Druidic-Christian see the tree as an ‘ensouled’ being or as having the Creator’s stamp on it, or as a panentheists (as I am, just like the early Christians) believe that that tree ‘inhabits’ God, then I will regard it differently than if I just saw it as a materialist might, as kindling.

So, in London, as I gaze upon that building site, it could be just a mess, or I could see it as an opportunity to create a product or service that will serve people, and in this case, might actually improve the local environment and be wholesome (and holy). It is then something much more ‘noble’ that a mere a bricks and mortar development.  In Wales, perhaps it’s easier to appreciate nature, or could it be that there’s so ‘much’ of it (in its wild state, because nature also  ‘inhabits’ the cities, too) that its easy to be complacent and unappreciative? And so, we still need to looker (more) intently, perhaps?

And, what about when we talk theology or chat about spiritual things, or the deep and profound things of life? Are we so immersed in twenty-first materialism that we only glance at the surface? Don’t answer immediately, please, because those ‘spectacles of materialism’ have an uneasy way of slipping over our eyes even without our noticing.

I’ve been to two funerals recently. The first was unbelievable tough on me (and close family) to endure, the other was tough to endue, but our perspective on these major events of life change depending on how we look at those events. The materialist, attending that funeral, might see a box, a coffin, a casket and nothing more. Someone else might have a hope of more, of new life as one is ‘absorbed’ into the earth. Others, such as myself, even in grief, separation and tears might ‘see’ (in their mind’s eye) that person in heaven, also known as the Summerland or Caer Wydyr (in Welsh, the glass fortress), and might confuse others by talking of pre-life (which happens to be one of my favourite themes) and that we’re all ‘there’ now (but that later point is for another time)!

But, what does this all mean?

It means, perspective will be different to different people, depending on their (our) location, inbuilt views, learned views, expectations (limited or otherwise), ‘tribal views’, and once we accept a multiplicity of views – metaphorically peak over the edge – then our voyage of discovery really takes off. There’s always more!

‘I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.’ John 16.12, The Book

So, be ‘open’! Step outside the cultural ‘norms’, move toward the edge – become an ‘edge-walker’ – have you ever noticed how all the interesting things, development, maturity and growth all happen at the ‘edges’? – and have a peak at a possible alternative, and maybe ‘more real’, viewpoint.

‘I live my life in widening circle that reach out across the world.  I may not ever complete the last one, but I give myself to it. I circle around God, that primordial tower. I have been circling for thousands of years, and I still don’t know: am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song?’ (Rainer Maria Rilke)

There’s more. There is always more to experience, more to discover, more to understand (differently). More, that catches us by surprise and challenges ‘old’ limitations. There’s more. Mae mwy (in Welsh)

[Note: The painting in the ‘header’ in today’s article is called ‘Escaping criticism’, and was painted by Pere Borrell del Caso, 1835-1910, a Catalan painter. He was well-known for this kind of optical illusion style of painting which is called trompe l’oeil, French for ‘deceive the eye’.].

 

Ritual & More Cosmic Consequences

20170525 RITUAL AND MORE COSMIC CONSEQUENCES AT NEW MOON1There is a new moon tonight, and being a new moon I’m afraid you won’t see much, if anything at all. It may be best, like many of the ancients did of old, to declare that tomorrow is the night of the new moon as then a sliver of the moon, forming a wonderfully bright arc will be evident, hanging  in the southern sky. Yes, for the next couple of days all this lunar activity will be viewable only from the southern hemisphere (and, maybe from equatorial locations).

New moon’s, seen or not, however, are a great time for ritual.

‘Ritual is the passage way of the soul into the Infinite.’ (Algernon Blackwood)

As an aside, and for the astronomers amongst you, tonight or tomorrow’s new moon will be lunation (number) 1168. [That’s 1,168 new moons since they were formally recorded and counted in astronomical almanacs.  Lunation 1 occurred at 02:41 UTC, on 17 January 1923.]

However, more exciting, is the view that new moon’s are seen by many as a time of ‘energising’, of new strength for projects, and of new beginnings, a time for rituals, as it the first day of the new lunar month.

‘…humans do have a remote control, granting us more power than we’ve ever imagined’. (Richard Rohr).

Yesterday, having mentioned the ‘inner’ effect of ritual, and the way it changes us – and that might be what is needed, as in coping with a traumatic event, or making vows of initiation or betrothal etc – I wanted now to explore ritual further. Ritual has far reaching  ‘ external’ consequences, and perhaps, more so at the time of the new moon. True, ritual has an ‘inner’ effect, but there’s more. Mae mwy (as we say in Wales)

Ritual has an external effect, too, as we enter liminality, that sacred time-space, what Richard Rohr calls ‘access[ing] the bigger field’.

We might all be aware of the First Nation peoples of America and their ritual dances for rain, but what about other peoples and ‘tribes’ and their rituals for averting a future calamity, sending light to a ‘darkened’ corner of this world, seeking protection for oneself or another, seeking healing for another, invoking energy through a fire ritual, giving a blessing by the sprinkling of water, a funeral ritual or prayer to commend a loved-one ‘into’ Bliss? All these are rituals with an external and far-reaching effect.

Personally, I do believe ritual and liturgy, founded on intentionality, has an effect. I’ll go out on a limb and say that this is because it doesn’t really depend on us. The power and effectiveness comes from the Source of All, and we are vital and necessary intermediaries.

Some may want to perform a ritual that prescribes a desired outcome in great detail, others are more vague, and some leave the ‘how to’ to the Source of All. That’s okay. I have no ‘challenges’ in performing a solo or group ritual to effect a distant (and sometimes, requested) outcome. Infact, I would encourage you and others to do so, as you feel led, to perform rituals for other places and lands, other people, drought areas, the precious eco-system and (against) animal extinction etc. All much needed.

Can I prove an outcome is as a result of my (or someone else’s) ritual? No, I can’t.

‘Despite the absence of a direct causal connection between the ritual and the desired outcome, performing rituals with the intention of producing a certain result appears to be sufficient for that result to come true.’ (Scientific American, 14 May 2014)

Those that undertake ritual practices do so because they, we, believe they have an effect – seen or unseen, immediate or delayed – but, nevertheless, they have an effect. Not all share that belief. If for one moment we, or they, believe that if it has no effect, then why do it?

That begs the question: if ritual and those other practices have an effect, then why’ do’ anything else, as all work is unnecessary? And, if we believe ritual has no effect then why do it, but rather why not only concentrate on doing a physical work or task, instead? Ritual or work?

Here’s a way forward.

‘Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.’ (St Augustine)

The two options need to be held in ‘balance’ or tension. One without the other is ineffective.  Personally, I believe that ritual is effective and work or a task to lead toward it, is necessary too.  And so, we can adapt St Augustine’s wise words to read: Perform a ritual as though no work would accomplish it; work towards an outcome as though no ritual would accomplish it.

It’s both ritual and work!

‘Ceremonial observance adds lucid layers — depth, dimension, drama and distinction — to our lives…When we set aside the quality time and claim the psychic space for ceremony, when we assume the authority to do so, we are able to transform our perceptions, our perspectives, our experiences, and in the process, our reality.’ (Donna Henes)

Note: Photo, above, used by kind permission of Pennie Ley, Copyright holder. All rights reserved, 2017

Darkness, Ritual And Cosmic Consequences

20170524 DARKNESS RITUAL AND COSMIC CONSEQUENCES1

‘So much of the world is plunged in darkness and chaos…

So ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.’

(Leonard Cohen)

If the negative things of the world can be represented by darkness, then great darkness visited Manchester on the evening of Monday, 22  May, 2017. The families and friends of those who have lost loved ones, need this time to grieve and receive support, and they in our prayers, I’m sure.

But, what can we do?

Those who live in Manchester are rallying around and doing a stalwart job. They are no strangers to terrorist attacks. It was in June 1996 that an IRA bomb injured over 200 people there. During that time I was  in London, and London itself saw a large number of IRA terrorist incidents, and on one occasion I was just three streets away from a bomb explosion.

But, what can we do?

The are parts of the Press who have their own ideas about what to do, and it appears that in the online comments’ section of online newspapers, and even on FaceBook some people have their own ideas about what should be done. ‘Send all radicalised people back to an Islamic country’. ‘The UK should close its borders’. ‘Build a wall’.

But, not all terrorists are Muslim, and not all Muslims are terrorists; and from the Muslims I know, they, too, are upset and confused by it all, and they are peaceful people. And, not all terrorists are from ‘outside’.

There is anger in the air, and that is to be expected. But, we each have a choice: to give into fear or rise above it.

‘Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living
in better conditions.’

(Hafiz)

Richard Rohr in his book ‘The Divine Dance’ writes about this, and alludes to the two archetypal trees: ‘The tree of knowledge of good and evil’ and ‘The tree of Life’.

He confesses that he has generously ‘eaten’ from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It’s the way that  leads to judging others, that allows our egos to ‘promote’ ourselves whilst looking down on those who are different, to making rash comments based on temper and self-centredness. It leads away from Light, and away from the Flow of the Spirit. It distances us from all that is holy.

He says it comes natural to him. If we’re honest, it comes naturally to us all.

But, he goes on to talk of another metaphor. Another choice we have. The tree of Life. This way leads to life and understanding, positivity, love, compassion, and puts us (back) into the Flow of the Spirit. It is altogether inclusive, holy, transforming and worthwhile.

He talks of a choice in one sense between the two archetypal trees, and yet his choice is reduced. If he has taken a stand to side with the Light (and we might have, as well), then the metaphorical tree of Life is the only real option. It alone leads to Life and positivity, and that which is wholesome. It alone is in the flow of the Spirit. It alone puts things into perspective and then we ‘see’ others and nature in a different light. It raises out sights.

‘…God is no longer small, punitive, or tribal. They once worshipped their raft; now they love the shore where it has taken them. They once defended signposts; now they have arrived where the signs pointed. They now enjoy the moon itself instead of fighting over whose finger points to it most accurately, quickly, or definitively.’

(Richard Rohr)

And yet our egos rebel. Do we need to succumb to the rants of our egos? No!

But, what can we do?

Sometimes, we just need time to compose ourselves, to still that inner (and ‘lower’) voice – the reptilian part of our brain that responds in a knee-jerk fashion. Sometimes, a little time is all we need. Time to slow down and look ‘upward’.

For me, and I know it is the case for many Christians, Celtic Christians, Druids, Lightworkers and Pagans, and others that I have talked with, prayer and/or ritual is the way to slow things down and put huge events into perspective. It is a way to lead us into that Flow.

Prayer and/or ritual slow us down. We get the privilege, then, of time to think. Time to reflect and make a measured response based on compassion and mercy. An opportunity to put things into perspective and appreciate that there is a higher (and wider) realm of connectedness that, albeit invisible to us, is real and powerful and effective in this realm, if we align ourselves with it.

To the mystic Christian, Celtic Christian, Druid, Lightworker and Pagan etc they ‘see’ this awesome ‘invisible’ realm of Light and Life, and benefit; the onlooker-sceptic sees someone seemingly doing something that is ineffective and ‘odd’, and sees no benefit.

I venture that prayer and ritual ushers into that liminal realm of power and purpose, and is effective in ways known and unknown to us, and it does  changes things. But,  to the sceptic, I would say that it is still effective because it (also) changes things….it changes us, too.

For it’s there that we deliberately step into the Flow of the Spirit, and its then that change and transformation takes place. A small physical action, ritual, with cosmic consequences. That ‘space’ or moment in time gives us the opportunity not to dehumanise others, not to rant or give in to quick and callous thoughts, decisions or action. It changes us, if we allow it.

But, what can we do?

So, tonight (and this never precludes positive, physical action and work(s of mercy) which are also still necessary)),  I’ll perform a ritual, light a candle, send energy and would encourage you to do that same. Never tire of prayer and/or ritual. It is effective. It is making a difference in, and to, this world. You can make a difference.

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it’. John 1:5, The Book

There is more. Mae mwy (as we say in Welsh). There is always more (to prayer, and ritual, and light).

 

Encountering Silent Teachers: That Ancient Oak Tree / Coeden Dderw Hynafol

20170517 ENCOUNTERING SILENT TEACHERS

Go out, go out I beg you
and taste the beauty of the wild.
Behold the miracle of the earth
with all the wonder of a child.
{Edna Jaques]

Near the perimeter of my garden in north Wales, before you reach the rivulet which is the unannounced boundary of my garden, just 20 yards/meters short of it is a wonderful, old, somewhat gnarled oak tree, standing slightly apart from other trees. Of all the trees in the garden, it is the oldest and most majestic, commanding respect from all.

My grandmother called it ‘coeden dderw hynafol’ (pronounced ‘goh-dun dare-ooh hin-af-foll’, which is Welsh for ‘ancient oak tree’, and that’s what I’ve always called it.

Interestingly, the word Druid, also comes from that Welsh word, dder, pronounced ‘dare-ooh’, for oak, and shows the high esteem that that tree was, and still is, held by them.

Oh, coeden dderw hynafol is a sight to behold. Even when ‘speaking’ to it in English, I’ve always addressed it, as though by a title, by its name in Welsh. I want to be respectful, after all.

Whether one believes that it has a dryad, an associated elemental, a spirit (or a spirit in the metaphorical or romantic sense), or wishes to personify or anthropomorphise this splendid tree, that is beside the point in many respects. It (still) has a presence, a nobility about it, and as it creaks and ‘moans’ in the wind it seems to ‘smile’ and declare to me and others that it was here long before we were born, and…and, yes, it will be here long after we’ve shuffled off this mortal coil.

It is a tree that evokes awe and humility in equal measure.

And so, there I was…nothing on tv….slowly walking, barefoot, toward coeden dderw hynafol at some time shortly after 11.30pm. There was hardly any light, the air was damp and cold – such is springtime in north Wales at this time of night – and the faint outline of  coeden dderw hynafol was etched, flat, without three dimensions apparent, against the dark, cloud-filled sky. The clouds seeming somewhat low and moving briskly, caught by an easterly wind.

I sat on the log just under the outstretched arms of the coeden dderw hynafol, and waited. The wind picked up and it started to rain, and the desire to run back indoors and avoid the rain was almost overpowering. Almost.

‘Only when we stop…do the stones begin to speak’. Mark Nepo

I love the rain, and though there was part of me that didn’t relish the thought of getting drenched, the ‘dominant’ inner voice was content just to let nature take its course. Any, why not? And so I sat on that log, gazing at coeden dderw hynafol and got drenched. Fortunately, there was no one around, and neighbours live some distance away,  so no one noticed my apparent foolishness.

Coeden dderw hynafol creaked, and groaned as it swayed in the wind, ‘moaned’ as the wind caught the top of its branches, and it provided only momentary shelter from the rain – its leaves now conveying downward all the rain it had ‘collected’. But, I will let you into a secret: it felt wonderful.

As I sat there with rain running down my forehead, onto my nose and running off the end of it, this ancient oak tree taught me: that regardless of what forces impact upon it, it stands. When buffeted it moves just a little, is pliable, and doesn’t stand so rigid that it breaks. Oh no. It ‘gives’ just a little. The noise it made wasn’t a cry of pain, but a delight that it was ‘dancing’ to the tune of the wind. And the rain it collected and which fell down on me was like the effect of a shaggy dog shaking itself to get dry and soaking everyone else in the process – something which ‘includes’ me, rather than excludes me, and which can bring on a wry smile. It was as though there was some giant, invisible aspergillum ‘flicking’ holy water on me, and blessing me. And it was comforting.

‘For a true contemplative, a green tree works just as well as a golden tabernacle’. Richard Rohr.

Now drenched, I realised that whatever life sends us, we are in control of our reactions and have the ability to come through the storm. As I sat there I could have been angry at being drenched, and angry that that oak had not provided sufficient cover to keep me dry. However, positive thoughts flooded my mind like warm honey. Coeden dderw hynafol had, in its own way ‘instructed’ me that I (and you, so ‘we’) have the resources to face adversity, and though we might ‘bend’ a little and feel the wounds, we will prevail. Coeden dderw hynafol also blessed me with the rain it had collected and which was now falling on me at quite a pace. It was a though this ancient friend was blessing me with holy water and including me. To be befriended by an oak tree is an amazing thing.

‘We inter-breath with the rain forests, we drink from the oceans. They are part of our own body.’ Thich Nhat Hanh

Soggy, cold, drenched but feeling blessed, I headed back to the house. I hadn’t gone too far when I stopped. It seemed wrong just to walk away. And so I stopped, and as mud oozed between my toes, I turned, and for just half a minute gave my silent thanks to coeden dderw hynafol, nodded and acknowledged my indebtedness to the lessons it had taught me that night.

Ofcourse, some might say it was crazy and puerile to regard that tree in such a way. A tree is just a tree, they might say. But, it didn’t (and doesn’t) feel like just a tree, in its presence. Ofcourse, if people regard it as just a tree, I would add that something deep still stirred within me, and I learned invaluable lessons.

However, I’d like to add that it is more than just a tree to me. There is more. Mae mwy, as they say in these parts, there is more. Coeden dderw hynafol is a silent teacher, and if you and I give ourselves time to draw aside and be still (wherever we are), each day we can learn something from these (and it may not be an oak tree) silent teachers that cross our life-paths.

‘And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play with your hair’. Kahlil Gibran

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 Thought: Deep Calls To Deep In An Age Of Shallow

20170418 DEEP CALLS TO DEEP CELTIC THOUGHTIs it just me, or has the world moved into the ‘shallow end’ of the swimming pool, metaphorically? And, if it’s always been this way, perhaps more so nowadays? I’m used to politicians alarmingly giving glib and shallow answers (and doubly alarming when the public or journalists swallow wholesale what they say without question), but it seems to me that in other  spheres of life there’s been a movement to quick and shallow, rather than slow and deep.

I hear your voice on the wind
And I hear you call out my name.

Could it be that, though the mass media, we’re conditioned to accept the quick answer, the frivolous and not wait and ponder? In many cases we’re so caught up in the moment, the noise, the neon glare of the city, that we miss that still, small voice. Richard Rohr quotes a psychological phenomenon that states if we don’t ‘anchor’ a new experience and encounter as something unique, then within fifteen seconds it will be stored in the brain as a run-of-the-mill event and hardly remembered. Dwell with mystery.

Be not afraid, come follow me
Answer my call, and I’ll set you free”

Why is it that we so easily pleased? To ‘dive deep’ demands that we slow down, really allow information and experience to ‘sink in’, but that way of working is alien to the world we live in. And yet, for those who do take time, the rewards are out of this world.

Why are we so content to swim in the shallows? For some, it’s fear. Many shun solitude and quietness, run from experiential knowledge or body wisdom, because they feel they will be out of their depth. Actually, that’s true. But, it’s when we’re out of our depth that we experience the guiding on the Unseen One, who is more than capable to buoy us up.

Why are we so busy? Many have the mistaken notion that ‘a full diary, makes for a happy life’. True, many people have jobs that demand that we’re time-conscious, but sometimes, maybe many times, that way of working spills over into our recreation time. Remember: you don’t have to answer your mobile phone immediately it rings.

And then, often, we miss out on dolce far niente – my favourite Italian phrase which means ‘sweetly, doing nothing’. Try it!

I am the voice of the future, bring me your peace
Bring me your peace, and my wounds, they will heal

Why are we so fearful? Our society encourages us to be in control at all times. Why would anyone dive into the deep end, and risk being caught up in currents that take one to unknown places? And, yet if we don’t we well miss out. Surrender.

To put ourselves in the way of the Source, to encounter the Source by slowing down and listening intently, and responding deeply is a risk, but it’s worth it.

It’s like diving or swimming in the ocean. Immense. Frightening. Powerful. And yet, amazingly refreshing, beautiful and rewarding. Then, deep calls to deep. In that liminal space,  answers don’t come easily, and pain is exposed rather than covered over, but it is where healing and transformation takes place. It is dealing with the real wound, rather than just applying a zeitgeist ‘band-aid’.

We live in a time where it is easy to avoid those tough questions, to ignore our own foibles, to fill our days with busy-ness and sometimes meaningless activity, to turn on the tv etc. But, deep calls to deep, and yet often we resist and we long to stay at the shallow end.

I am the voice that always is calling you
I am the voice

Take for example, ritual. Any ritual can be done glibly. The words can be recited, actions done automatically and quickly, and before we know it we’re saying ‘amen’, ‘so be it’, ‘so mote it be’, or awen, or similar.

But, the take time, to slow it down, to ponder upon each phrase and to use intuition and imagination to take ourselves into that ‘magical’ and powerful place of liminality, and we can encounter the Source, The Voice, The Friend. Deep calls to deep, and we benefit when we respond in kind. It is one of the reasons that I (as a latter-day Celt, Druidic Christian etc) cherish, love, and waste no time in finding ways to celebrate events and the seasons in liturgy and ritual. Ritual opens the door to another place of power, purpose and potential, it ushers us into a ‘thin place’, and we benefit in so many different ways. Have you experienced a ‘thin place’, liminality?

Ne’er do I sleep throughout all the cold winter long
I am the force that in springtime will grow

Right now, the voice of the Source continues to speak deeply to each one of us. I do believe the Source never stops providing us with opportunities to encounter, and ritual is one way in which the Source reminds us to draw near, or dive deep, to ‘lose ourselves’ in that Great Ocean of Encounter.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be writing more about how we can grow and be transformed, can move into that liminal realm of encounter, and benefit – infact, some have asked for day workshops on this very theme, and so, it’s very much as case of ‘watch this space’.

Meanwhile, my encouragement to myself and to you is to go deeper in the things that make for Encounter. Deep really does call to deep. Respond in kind.

Blessings, Tadhg.

 

Quotes above from the song, ‘The Voice’, by Celtic Woman

 

Tadhg’s Journal: A Treasure In The Darkness?

20170323 treasure in the darkness TADHGS JOURNALMy thoughts are racing right now, careering from acceptance, stillness and peace to fear, uncertainty, confusion and stressful worry – such are some of the emotions in dealing with someone so close and so dear to me who is now receiving palliative care.

If there was an ‘off button’, some way of stepping out of the current story in which I find myself, of changing this impending tragedy into a comedy, I would press it. It was the same when I had oesophageal cancer ten years ago. If I could have changed the circumstances as I went through it, then, I would have done. Alas, in the current situation as with that event ten years ago, there is no option of an alternative story-line.

And so, emotions career to the far ends of an opposing, invisible, and a seemingly indeterminate spectrum.

‘If you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention.’  Tom Peters

I have no easy answers if you have been, or are going through this kind of roller-coaster ride as a loved-one is prepared for the return ‘Home’. But, even as I write this, something, That Which Is Larger Than Ourselves, whispers into the confusion in which we are placed.

Entering into that inner sanctuary, the Caim, much-loved by ancient  Christians, Celts and Druids, and others, I sit. Outwardly, I sit, too, and with my eyes closed, I go ‘inward’, to that sacred space, deep ‘inside’. The Caim is a wonderful place from which to visualise others, to inwardly (or sometimes physically) to enact a ritual within that Circle, and send energy to them. Now, I’m in a place of darkness, even in the Caim. But, it’s not a brooding darkness of chaos or fear of the unknown. It simply is…..dark. A place to be alone with the Alone.  Yet another use for the Caim.

‘And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches..’ Isaiah 45:3a, The Book.

And, so, ‘I welcomed in the tender grace of unknowing and gave myself over to fertile darkness, despite the fears or voices that long for certainty or the ones which think they have already got it all figured out,’ said Christine Valters Paintner in her book, ‘The Soul Of A Pilgrim’.

Surrender!

In this inward -dark-but-peaceful place, in this Caim of Solitude I sit, and wait. Unspoken questions arise: Should I do this? Should I do that? What if….? It feels like a trillion thoughts are ‘firing’ all at once, beckoning activity, and yet someone – could it be The Friend – brings one over-riding thought to the fore (and, if there is an almost-thought, then this was one), like a distant memory that was embedded deep within but is only now surfacing, rather than an audible voice.

Hupomeme!

Hupomeme is an ancient Greek word, beloved of desert monks who were undergoing tough times. It means to stay with whatever is happening!

And that word was the seeming whisper in that Caim of Solitude, that inner sacred space, spoken by the Source of All. Leaving that Caim, I returned to the world of a trillion thoughts, of erratic emotion-swings, of uncertainties…but I know I have the experience and memory of an alternative realm of peace which is just as real, and maybe more real, that this one.

‘God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches by means of opposites so that you will have two wings to fly, not one.’  Jalaluddin Rumi.

Celtic Daily Living: The Three Realms

three-realms

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

20161027-edgewalker-standard-thoughts

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.