‘Oh Day Of Fire And Sun’: Poem With The Solar Eclipse In Mind

20170818 OH DAY OF FIRE AND SUN ECLIPSE POEMNext Monday, 21 August 2017 there is a (very) partial solar eclipse from the UK’s aspect, as the moon moves across the face of the sun, and a total eclipse takes place for several states in the USA. With the sun and that eclipse in mind, here’s a poem to celebrate the event.

Oh day of fire and sun,
pure as a naked flame.
Your golden light came
down smiting me with eternity.

The night is now gone; shadows have fled away,
and we now most sure that it is day.
And yet, mysteriously, the darkness falls
as a feather wafted from an eagle in flight,
as the moon succeeds the sun.
For a while, the sun eclipsed. Twilight.

The sun is our Lord and father.
The bright face of the gate of day.
Let’s celebrate this Sun of Righteousness
for light and life he brings in his sway.
And so we will be glad and exult in You, oh yes!

May the sun shine brightly each day,
warming us deeply in our soul.
And, with promises sure, it is so.
For, we are the all one, all the children of the Sun.
That’s all we really need to know.

The poem is a ‘found poem’. That is, rather like a paper collage but it uses words, lines or phrases from other sources, other existing poetry, fusing them together, making minor alterations here and there, to make something new, different and original. For the sources for this poem, see below:

Lines 1, 2 Sarah Teasdale; Lines 3, 4 Sri Aurobindo; Lines 5, 6 John Bunyan; Lines 7, 8 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; Line 9 Robert Louis Stevenson; Line 10 – ; Lines 11, 12 Reel Around The Sun (Poem), Riverdance; Lines 13, 14 Christmas Carol based on Malach ch4v2, The Book; Line 15 Psalm 9v2, The Book; Lines 16, 17 Ermestine Northover; Line 18 -; Lines 19, 20 Tinie Tempah.

Holy Compline: Celtic Reflections: Book Of The Hours.

20170726 HOLY COMPLINEIt’s well after 10pm on a somewhat cloudy, windless, balmy night here in Capel Curig, and the air, and everything else is still. I like evenings like this. Alone with the Alone. No interruptions. Even nocturnal animals seem to be still, or it could be that my rambling around the garden at this hour has scared them off.

And then it happens. My ‘tricorder’ (and that’s exactly what it looks like (for Star Trek fans)) bleeps twice, whirrs for about twenty seconds and the ‘arm band’ contracts, and then after half a minute it ‘relaxes’. Yes, my overly-cautious doctor (but I’m not complaining) has fitted me with some kind of electronic sphygmomanometer that measures my blood pressure every half hour (for a day). Immediately I’m pulled out of that liminal space, sacred space and time, into ‘physical’ time.

But, after a short period. I’m back. Ofcourse experiencing the event is a constant series of ‘nows’, and even stopping to think and analyse the experience can have that ‘pulling out’ effect, and so I revel in the experience. Accepting it. Enjoying it. Learning from it.

At this time of the evening my inclination is to move into ‘compline’ mode. Compline is an ancient Church practice and consists of night prayer, sometimes called Prayers at the End of the Day, as it would have been the final church service (or office) of the day in the tradition of canonical hours. Many today call it Night-shielding, and I quite like that title.

As so, in an attitude of Compline or Night-shielding, I sit in the garden, at 10.08pm, in almost total darkness, and think and give thanks, and it is wonderful. Absolutely quiet. Absolutely still. It is blissful.

Compline is a time to review the day. My day has been busy, and only partially fruitful. As is the case, I have had to fit into the diary of others, who have had to fit into their office hours and computerised diaries. Yes, even here in Capel Curig ‘machine time’ can intrude, sometimes.

And then I remember, I was fitted with that electronic sphygmomanometer earlier in the day.

My day has also been somewhat upset by distant news of a squabble between two friends. Ofcourse it’s not for me to take sides, and invariably it is never easy to see who is at fault (and I try never to apportion blame, anyway), but I have to admit in this case it seems their is one clear perpetrator, and one clear victim. Not that it helps. I’m too far away to be involved, even to provide a ‘listening ear’ to both. The most I can do is send both of them prayer, light, energy and love, and ask the Great Reconciler to put them in the path of someone who can assist. Right now it is all I can do. Right now, I believe it is sufficient.

Lots of good things happened, too, for which, as I sit here in the garden, in the dark, I’m grateful to the Giver of Time and Opportunities.

But it’s Compline, a time of review. And so, encouraging you to have you own time of Compline I’d ask you what has happened in you day, today? A five minute review is good.

Compline is also about being thankful. Is there something (or more than one) that you are thankful for, that happened today?

Compline is also night-shielding, a time of looking forward to winding-down and seeking protection. And as I review the day, and it has been a day of contrasts, a day that has at times been quite unnerving, the night-shielding words of Tess Ward come to mind:

Oh Spirit of Presence,
toll your bell in me, and in each one of us
who shares this lonesome night.
Cover with your wings the little ones, in illness and ill times
who stare into the dark with sleepless eye.
Send them your angels and carry their prayers
in the downy mystery of your hope.
Break our soul’s weariness with sleep’s refreshment
before the first-light comes and feather on the breeze
reminds us of your company through long nights past.

The thoughts and words above may not suit all, but they are wonderful words, and are an encouragement to me and to you, perhaps, to formulate our own night-shielding liturgy, prayer or power words – whatever word(s) we’re comfortable with to describe this ritual. There is power in words. There is power in intentionality

And then…

There’s a couple of bleep sounds coming from my waist – yes, this ‘tricorder’ device is currently sitting on my belt. It bleeps, the band around my bicep whirrs and contracts, and once again I’m pulled out of liminal space and into ‘physical’ time. The band ‘relaxes’ shortly after.

Strangely, now I’m aware of,  and can hear animals moving about. A rustle here, a scamper there. I can hear the movement and creak of tree branches swaying in a ever-so gentle breeze, and I look down at the digital sphygmomanometer to view its read-out, that it also ‘memorises’ for the doctor to study, tomorrow.

The digital display reads 22:31, and for one moment my heart races – which is just as well that’s happening now, after the 30 minute recording – as I ponder if that’s my blood pressure of 22 over 31 (in which case I’m in deep trouble), or if that’s the time. I laugh to myself knowing, and hoping, that that’s the time. Ofcourse it is. Compline, however, is a heart affair, a movement of the soul, love of life and gratitude for what takes place in ‘machine’ time, too.

It is a time to look forward, to seek protection for the night for yourself and/or others.

Be encouraged to try your own Compline ritual occasionally, at sunset or maybe an hour after, and revel in the flow of ‘nature’s time’ and be thankful.

Blessings, Tadhg

 

Time To Sit And Be Still: Celtic Reflection On Nature

20170704 TIME TO SIT AND BE STILLBack home now, and in my garden in Wales there are just over a dozen wonderful trees. From spring onward they erupt, joyfully with their ‘hands’ raised in praise and extending skyward, in the most delightful and different shades of green as they sprout leaves.

Wonderful trees. I love trees.

This morning, as the sun was just rising, I walked past two silver birches (betula pendula), a horse chestnut tree (aesculus hippocatanum), two ash trees (fraxinus excelsior), and two English oak trees (quercus robur), but didn’t quite make it to the end of the garden to name them in this article. I like to familiarise myself with trees, especially, but plants and wildlife in particular, and know their latin names.

‘The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.’ (John Muir)

Names are not just convenient ways for us to differentiate between different objects. Names are responsible for the differences between all things on this earth. Names have power.

As I stood there, looking at those other trees, I whispered their name – not their lain name, as I was ‘naming’ them only as I passed the trees and ‘greeted’ them. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to ignore those wonderful trees, and so I collectively called them…Kin.

‘Perhaps we are here in order to say: house, bridge, fountain, gate, pitcher, fruit-tree, window…to say them more intensely than the Things themselves ever dreamed of existing’. Rainer Maria Rilke

Reverence.

There is a school of thought that says that we are separate from nature. We think we’re separate, and act accordingly, we treat nature in an inferior (and, badly in many cases) because we see it as other, different from us, and ‘distant’.

Nature is wild. It doesn’t conform to our straight city lines. It must be controlled, at least that is the current thinking. Many have a(n ancient Greek) dualistic idea about this. For them, there is nature and humankind. Separate.

Dualism sadly dominates the current thought in our culture, and it is difficult to step outside it. But not impossible.

‘All the big problems of the world today are routed in the philosophy of separateness and dualism.’ (Satish Kumar)

And so, there is another school of thought, and the dualists will roll their eyes at this, that says we are all connected. There is a oneness in creation (like a luminous web, for those who have eyes to see it), and, though we might think we’re separate, we’re not.

Illusion.

I like that idea of connectedness. Rather than the duty to subdue nature, we have a responsibility to respect it’s raw, ‘natural’ wildness and to extend reverence to it. As I stood in the garden this morning I was overwhelmed but the lush greenness of that wild and wonderful place.

‘Green is the colour of relentless desire. Even from under earth smothered with concrete or tarmacadam, the green (grass) blade will rise’ (John O’Donohue)

Green is the colour of life, new life, energy, vitality, youthfulness, growth and maturity. It is the sign that life abounds, that there is hope, and for Druids and Celtic-Christians (and for those who know the history of our once-agrarian community) it is a sign that the cycle of life continues, that new life is here, and, yes, that leaf-fall is not far away. Circularity.

Nothing can really stop ‘green’ advancing. Trees asleep in the winter, ‘chomping’ away silently on the leaf-fall of the previous autumn, suddenly wake up and spring forth without reference to humankind. Weeds, too!

I like the idea of the cycle or circle in nature. It’s how we can, and in agrarian times had to mark the seasons. How sad that many do not recognise nature’s cycle today, or the moon’s phases – something which current Druids and Celtic Christian do, and those of old, those ancient Hebrews (and especially the Psalmist) did. In not marking the passing of the seasons we are poorer for it. Be encouraged to observe the seasons – odd though it may be to our ‘find-anything-in-the-local-supermarket’ mentality, and as odd as it may appear to others, it puts us back in touch with nature. Try it!

Sit and be still
until in the time
of no rain you hear
beneath the dry wind’s
commotion in the trees
the sound of flowing
water among the rocks,
a stream unheard before,
and you are where
breathing is prayer.

(Wendell Berry)

Cycles for the annual seasons. And, perhaps a larger cycle for humanity, too. One creation story, tells that the earth was formed in epochs, and the formation of the Garden, and that the last addition to the Garden was humankind. There, our fore parents were placed in a lush and vibrant green forest. Time went by and access to that Garden was lost – or could it be that we just think we lost access to it. Could it be that some with their nature-based ritual or ‘science’ or intuition are catching glimpses of the Garden as it ‘breaks through’ momentarily?

At the end of that creation story – of things yet to come – humankind eventually draws near to a wonderful green rainbow. Green, again. The colour of life, new life and hope. Circularity. Restoration. Elemental.

Viriditas.

And so I observed those wonderful trees this morning. Not separate from them, but connected to them, and sharing space with them in this garden, and the Garden. Truly, we are all embraced, whether we know it or not, by the God of Green Hope (see Romans 15:13, The Book (‘The Message’ version)).

Whether you live in a rural area or the city, nature abounds. The city may have its humankind-constructed monoliths, but nature displays its love and plenitude in green fecundity in city parks, small gardens or window-boxes, weeds between the pavement stones, and a myriad of animals (such as mice, urban foxes, a myriad of birds etc) and insects – is it ‘flying ant time’, yet? How do they know when to come out, and all together?

Nature is wonderful, even in the city.

‘Every blade of grass has an angel that bends over it and whispers, “Grow! Grow!’. (The Talmud)

‘Go elemental’.

 

The Spider & The Monk. A Story About Persistence.

20170629 THE SPIDER AND THE MONK PERSISTNCEI was at Speakers’ Corner, in central London recently. It’s a place, where on a Sunday afternoon, orators assemble to explain their philosophy, talk about anything they want, and rant. Yes, some of them, unfortunately, rant. Not all.

That Sunday I learned a lot.

I listened to a ‘northern poet’ who had attracted a crowd of about fifteen people as he read and read and read the most captivating of his, original, poems. An amazing northern, droll, no-nonsense accent. I listened to someone else who shared about their being abducted by aliens. Fascinating. And I talked to another about their belief of chem trails, and yet another who spoke of global calamity this August, or was it September? I can’t remember.

‘I choose to fill my days with what I’m passionate about, and live with purpose.’ Ann Curry

I learned that some people are well-meaning, but could be wrong.
It’s a great place to spend an afternoon. Most speakers are ‘inviting’, most are at the very least entertaining, but some aren’t.

After they had finished speaking to the crowd I spoke to some of the speakers one-to-one. They shared several attributes in common: they were passionate about their belief, they spoke well, and most of them listened intently.
I learned that the best speakers also listen.

There were others at Speakers corner who were not so ‘inviting’, they were repelling.

‘Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another…’ James 4:11a

It breaks my heart to say this, but of the six Christian speakers there, five were of the ‘repelling’ kind. As a Druidic-Christian I am aware of the disparity between the love of the Christ and that love in our lives, and like most people, I admit that there’s a ‘gap’ and work on it – and where that’s not possible there’s always grace. However, those five group were shrill in what they had to say.

‘When the sage points at the moon, the fool looks at the finger.’ Chinese proverb

For the first time in Christian company (for a long time) I felt like an outsider. Without knowing much about me, they hurled their brand of belief at me without really listening to me – apparently anyone who doesn’t think like them is going to hell. Me included! Inwardly I wept. Is that the kind of reception Mr and Mrs Public get from some Christians? So unloving.

I learned that for some their ego-dominance over others is paramount. So sad.

I remember a story of a monk who was travelling by a calm stream, and he saw a spider in distress floating on the top of the water, dying. He stopped, stooped down and reached out with his hand, cupping the spider, and gently putting it on the dry water’s edge. The spider bit him. The monk left the spider and went on his journey.

The following day the monk was walking by that very stretch of the river, and saw the spider in distress in the water. He stopped, stooped down and reached out with his hand, cupping the spider, and gently putting it on the dry water’s edge. The spider bit him.

On the third day the monk was walking by that very same stretch of the river, and, again, saw the spider in distress in the water. He stopped, stooped down and reached out with his hand, cupping the spider, and gently putting it on the dry water’s edge. The spider bit him.

‘Why did you do that?’, the monk asked.
‘It’s what we do!’, the spider said emphatically.
‘But, why do you keep rescuing me day after day?, the spider enquired.
‘It’s what we monks do’, came the reply.

It seems that, at Speakers’ Corner at least, there are those who ‘rescue’ and there are those who ‘bite’. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that that view is wider than just Speakers’ Corner in London.

Some ‘rescue’. Some ‘bite’. It’s global. All, unless they’re aware,  keep on doing what they do, or at least ego-believe they should do.

I learned that the Biblical view of being aware of wolves in sheep’s clothing is, indeed, true. It’s just that, as I responded with inclusivity, peace, acceptance and love I was called the ‘wolf’ by those Christians, who saw themselves as loyal sheep. Apparently, not all that glistens is gold; not all those who claim the truth are speaking the truth!

I learned that some ‘sheep’ bite (but they probably aren’t ‘sheep’ at all…but that’s between them and the Source of All).

If you’ve come across such Christians – and such egotism occurs in all spiritual beliefs and religions (and I’ve found it even in Druids). Oh yes, wherever you find people and people-groups, everywhere you will find such unthinking ‘cutting-to-the-core’ attitudes and remarks. Then, if you’re trailing light and love, working in a way that is good and wholesome (whether or not the ‘crowd’ understand you) keep on doing good and don’t respond negatively, nor stop. That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves has given you that work, that task, that ministry to do and no one can do it quite like you.

‘Energy and persistence conquer all things.’ Benjamin Franklin

Why should you keep doing good – rituals, prayers, energy-working, light-working, acts of kindness and service, paid work, voluntary work etc – in the face of such ‘biting’ negativity and opposition…

“…Of Great Worth”: A Story

20170628 OF GREAT WORTH A STORY TO MAKE YOU THINKIt seems most of my deep thoughts take place around sipping coffee or waking up at sunrise, and especially so when they both coincide. Today, then, was not unusual in that respect. Sitting at the garden table, drinking coffee, as the sun rose, I reminisced.

I was thinking of one of my grandmother’s, the one that used to live nearby when I was a wee lad in north Wales. I now know that she had had a tough life, but never seemed to go without, was always quite able to make ends meet by ‘recycling’ and darning – does anyone darn socks any more?. She lived on ‘slender means’. The world was different then, people (especially in Wales) were much poorer, and yet possessed in greater amounts a community spirit, a contentment and a resilience to meet come-what-may with a defiant smile, and they loved and laughed. My grandmother was always singing, always quite jolly, and always had an opinion. Ah, the older Welsh generations.

All this got me thinking, especially as she loved to tell stories, of a story I heard some time ago about ‘worth’, which always buoys me up, and I’d like to re-tell it here especially for you. You know how much I love stories and story-telling.

‘There is a story of an elderly lady reminiscing, thinking back to when she was a child. She said: Oh, I remember that it was pouring with rain and I was allowed to play in the house rather than the garden that day. I was enjoying myself so much, that I got a little careless and broke an old vase – a family heirloom – that stood in the corner. It had been there for years.

I knocked it accidentally, and it fell to the floor, and smashed into a thousand pieces. I screamed out loud. In shock? In terror (at what my mother’s reaction would be)? In fear? In disappointment (that I could be so careless)? I screamed. I cried.

My mother rushed into the room. Alarmed. Worried. My mother looked at me, then looked at the smashed vase, and then looked back at me. Her face changed. Her face appeared relieved, and then a smile appeared upon it.

I ran to her crying. She opened her arms and gave me a huge hug. Before I could say I was sorry, she spoke. ‘Thank God. I thought you were hurt’, she said. With tears in her eyes she consoled me, and it was that day that I realised that I was the family treasure, and to my mother, of great worth.”

I don’t think I can add to that story, except to say that it applies to you, to all of us. Never doubt that you are of great worth, and are much loved by That Which Is Larger Than Ourselves.

 

Be Of Good Cheer: Words Of Encouragement For You

20170626 BE OF GOOD CHEER

‘The best of healers is good cheer’. (Pindar 517-438 BC)

Some time ago, a young lady sat opposite me – the group I was with had just come from a church service – and we were in a nearby pub for a drink and discussion. It seems the most interesting things happen when we’re at rest or relaxing, don’t you think? The topic in the group centred around the GoodNews (however we define that), and at the mention of that word (or is it two) the young lady burst into tears, sobbing uncontrollably. As positive a person as I am, I suddenly realised then, that for some, the GoodNews (or some peoples version of it) isn’t good news at all. I wept inwardly.

And yet, ‘God is the happiest being in the universe’ (G. K. Chesterton).

I visited Speakers’ Corner in central London yesterday. It’s a place where, usually on a Sunday afternoon, anyone can get up and voice their opinion, and many do just that. There are some who will be articulate about alien abduction, chat about chem trails, be erudite in their discussion of the finer points of existentialism, and there’s one man there who wears a sign upon which are scribed the word, ‘I know the secret to eternal youth’. Ofcourse, when asked what it is, he refrains from revealing it by replying, ‘Well, if I told you it wouldn’t be a secret!’. That was funny. I laughed.

‘Humour brings insight and tolerance. Irony brings a deeper and less friendly understanding.’ (Agnes Repplier)

This isn’t a rant.

If what you think, say or do is good news, is the GoodNews, that is, whatever you do – whether it’s sending light and love, prayers or liturgy or ritual, energy-sending, works of service, (even) paid work, if it is positive and life-giving, wholesome and/or serving others, then please, please, please by what you say and do, spread that positivity, and do it with a passion. This is my hope. Do not hold back. The world needs you. And you don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to have everything ‘sorted’ in your life…being human is sufficient!

This is a plea.

‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.’ (Marianne Williamson)

There is an old story about the plague in medieval England that I told to a group of friends, recently.  I hasten to add that this was in my small garden in my London place (and not the pub!). The story goes that a village – and about one in three in England died of the plague at that time – had been infected with the plague. Each day more and more people died. Some moved away, and that probably assisted in spreading the plague, but you couldn’t blame people for doing so. The doctor of that village decided that he would stay and continue to treat people, make them comfortable and possibly clear the village of the deadly plague. One of my friends tried to finish the story for me by saying, ‘..and you’re going to tell me that the plague left that town and the doctor lived happily every after’. To which I added, ‘No, the townspeople died of the plague and so did the doctor. No miracles happened. Just passionate, costly, selfless love by the doctor, and that’s why that story is known and still told, today’.

The world has many people in ‘darkness’ and, sadly, it has some people who ‘darken that darkness’.

The world needs you.

It needs quiet, sober, passionate light-workers, pray-ers, energy workers, liturgists and/or ritualists, poets and musicians and writers, people who will listen non-judgementally, people who will hold space for those suffering, people of good-cheer, aye-sayers and not nay-sayers, it needs Celts and Celtic Christians and Druids and other well-meaning people of other faiths and none. It needs awesome people, like you!

In large ways and small, please spread light and love. Never belittle what you do, who you are. That Which Is Larger Than Us has put you here for a purpose (whether or not others understand that purpose).

‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.’ (Martin Luther King Jnr)

Back in that pub, recently, a few of us were sharing our favourite quotes. I hope I don’t give the impression that I ‘live’ in pubs. It’s just that the local one has a cosy, comfortable, living-room atmosphere, complete with a nice carpet which just invites the kicking off of shoes, it has a sofa and books! Two of my favourites! It also does a mean tomato juice drink with Worcestershire sauce. There, we shared our favourite quotes and maxims, and all the quotes were uplifting and love-centred. The only one I can now remember, and which is offered here to you by way of encouragement, is…

‘All shall be well; and all shall be well; and all manner of thing shall be well’. (Lady Julian of Norwich)

That made me, inwardly, weep…but this time, for joy. Please be encouraged. I don’t know what you’re going through, but you are needed, loved, and you’re doing a great job, and my prayers are for you.

Love, Tadhg

[PS: Apologies if you got several notifications about this post. I had to ‘trash’ previous versions before arriving at this one. Blessings, Tadhg]

In Dark Times, Shine: 2/5: Empowerment [Celtic Thought]

20170221-walking-in-dark-times-celtic-thoughtHaving looked at our distinctive yesterday (in part one, see here), we now move into considering empowerment to do what we’re called to do.

You may have your own ways of empowerment, but if you haven’t or if you would like to consider different ways (to use, to adapt and use), here’s a few ideas that I find beneficial.

‘Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Empowerment is necessary to do what we’re called to do. This can be an informal influx of energy obtained by, say, a walk in a park or forest. Nature is wonderful, and a real and genuine source of energy and inspiration. Or, you might obtain energy from a visit to an art galley or listening to a piece of music; or we can approach it in ways to specifically ensure we have an influx of energy, a more formal approach, and some of these ways are outlined below.

But, empowerment is necessary, lest we work from a position of depleted energy or exhaustion and don’t accomplish what we’ve set out to do.

In ancient text the Christ says: ‘…but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’ Luke 24:49, The Book

I like that idea. Empowerment is something we can be clothed with – it can be seen as a protective, energetic cloak or coat, enveloping us. And, is something we need (and which can be depleted, and restored!).

So, here’s some ideas for empowerment:

Under The Blanket
empowerment-adorable-20374__340Susanna Wesley, the mother of  John and Charles Wesley, and eight other children (or was it more?) and found it difficult to find space and time to be by herself to meditate and pray, especially with so many children around the house and the challenges of eighteenth century living – it was not a bed of roses. Lots of  problems and heartaches. Infact, twice the house where she lived was burned to the ground, losing everything she and her husband owned. It was assumed that their church members did it because they were so upset at what her husband had preached in the pulpit.

She struggled to find a secret place to get away from it all, somewhere where she could ‘commune’. She stumbled upon the idea of a prayer apron or blanket – a ‘tent’ over her head. So, she informed her children that when they saw her with her an apron or blanket over her head, that meant she was in prayer and couldn’t be disturbed. And it worked. The children didn’t disturb her, and Susanna found these times to be very beneficial for deep meditation and prayer.  Others have emulated Susanna since. So, you could find your own prayer or meditation blanket!

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6, The Book

The Tallit
The Greek word for closet or room is tameion which is the same word to describe what happens when one puts on a tallit. Ah, the tallit.

empowerment-tallitThe tallit is primarily a Jewish prayer shawl, mainly used by men but, today, many women use it, too. Tallit is Hebrew for a robe, a cloak, or a sheet. It is draped over the shoulders (with deep respect and after much prayer), but in putting it on, the ritual involves covering the head, fully, momentarily.

It, too, is like a prayer blanket. Indeed, it has been known as the little tent, and some say references to tents in ancient text may actually refer to the period that the tallit covers the head – a tent for the head, separating the person from the rest of the world, monetarily, as if they were in a separate, secret room. (And, for those interested, we know the Christ wore one of these, as there are references to people touching the fringe, the tassels, of his garment, tallit, to seek healing. Also, Paul we’re told was a tent-maker, and there is a view (and one that I subscribe to), that he was, infact, a tallit-maker).

So, why not buy a tallit? It can be used in prayer and meditation as an aid, and can be used in the caim – see below, though it’s not essential to the caim.

The Caim
The caim is a profound ‘circling’ prayer used by ancient Druids, (Christian) Celts and others over the millennia. I like to think of it as a bubble that surrounds us (and which scribes a circle on the floor, into which we stand or sit).  It is still used by latter-day Celts, some Churches who value its benefits, and by some wiccans, pagans, light-workers, mystics and others.

‘Real power comes by empowering others.’ Denis Waitley

empowerment-soap-bubble-manThe making of the caim, the ‘stepping into it’, and using its power for your blessing, protection and for others is pertinent here. What you send out, does come back. Send out a blessing, and you get a blessing back.

The caim is about surrendering to the Source of All, so that some of that power can flow through us, like a conduit. Through us and onto others.

‘If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times. In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more love you give away, the more love you will have.’ John O’Donohue

For information on how to bless others, and so be blessed; or maybe you want to adapt the caim for blessing and empowerment only, so that you can then, later, bless others by performing a caim on their behalf or do some other activity on their behalf, please see here.

Smudging
Of course, the caim can be understood to be one ritual among many, and you may have your own ritual. But, if you haven’t please do consider this one (or more, depending on what you want to accomplish).

‘Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.’ Buddha

empowerment-6fb7425b1a234dc3a468d885305ff98fFor indigenous people of north America and others smudging was, and still is, and important, and special, and sacred act. So, why not you?
Often, smudging involves a four-direction ceremony, and this sits well with those whose tribe is ancient Celtic or Druidic in nature, or similar.

Clear your room or space of clutter and mess, open up windows and curtains and allow air to enter. Light your sage (or other herbs) and then fan the smoke with a feather around your body and anyone else in your space.

‘As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.’ Marianne Williamson

In turn, you may then want to face each compass cardinal point starting with, say, the east, and in turn say a prayer. Here’s a guide to help you get started.

Taking your time, for there is no rush, you might want to say:
Eastward: ‘Facing east, we greet the air, the  wind which can fell mighty trees, and seek that power to do good

Southward: Facing south, we greet the sun at its highest point, and ask for power from that which provides light and warmth to all the earth, to fill us’.

Westward: Facing west, we greet that great body of water, with giant waves and currents that dissipates energy around the globe, to shower us with its power and blessing.

Northward: Facing north, we greet the earth, that which provides a sure foundation, that we might not stumble, but might be sure-footed in what we do for good.

Of course, this is only an outline, and you may wish to add to it to make it true to you, or adapt it to suit your particular purpose. I usually conclude with a prayer to the Source of All, the One behind it all!

Conclusion
Instead of smudging, you could use a candle, moving it to the four cardinal compass points and reciting those words. Experiment. Try something different.

In all of this, intentionality in ritual is important. It is what it means to you that’s important. And, of course the Source is important, too. In a very real sense, it doesn’t depend on us to get it right, but on the Source of All to be profligate, and we have just such a promise. So, don’t hold back. Be empowered to do good in these dark times.

Tomorrow, in part three, we’ll look at actions, and some ways we can ‘shine’ and assist others.

‘Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.’ Andre Gide

 

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In Dark Times, Shine 1/5: Distinctiveness [Celtic Thought]

20170220-in-dark-times-1-celtic-thoughtIf you read the newspapers, watch tv or listen to the radio there seems to be more ‘darkness’ about than ever. Is there more confusion, fear and bitterness in the world, or are we just more aware of it?

Putting ‘fake news’ aside, just what is going on? I know a lot of people are unnerved by recent events, and maybe not without just cause, and it does seem the ones in ascendancy just get angrier and angrier, and that can spill over and affect us all.

‘It’s the end of the world as we know it…’, so sang R.E.M in (would you believe) 1987

What Do We Do?
keep-calm-shoppingAs a Brit I am reminded of the resurgence over the last few years of those war time posters (and cups and mugs etc) that say something like ‘[something witty here] and ‘carry on”!  I think there’s some truth in that. So, we carry on? Yes, but there’s more!

‘Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.’ Seneca The Younger

I do believe it’s not the end, but the beginning of something new. Sadly, Seneca got there before me, in saying that!

As a latter-day Celt, and speaking to you as a Celt, Celtic Christian, or Druid etc, we come from a long line and tradition that has ‘weathered’ many storms of change in the past. Times change. Truth remains. Indeed, in one ancient text it refers to such changes and perception of extreme and seemingly unusual feelings as being like birth-pangs. It’s a beginning of something wonderful and exciting – a call to people of vision – but  it’s not without pain, confusion, fear and some much-needed adjustment. But, take heart!

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

We Carry On…
What so we do? I would suggest that we do not give into fear, are not provoked, and, at least ‘carry on’ in doing good. Let your light shine! But, there’s more.

…And Then Do More
hand-pixabay-1331323_960_720If we think in terms of light, love, positivity, good deeds, self-love, other-love, good-thoughts, prayer, wholesome  action, and yes, even ritual, then perhaps there’s scope for us to do even more (not necessarily in terms of the amount we do (but if you want to, that’s okay, but don’t overdo it)), but in the quality, passion and effectiveness of what we’re doing)! Yes, maybe we can step it up a gear!

Of the eight billion people on the planet, the Source of All has made you unique. There is no one quite like you, nor is there anyone with quite the same gifts, talents and calling. You’re different, and different for a reason.

‘Why fit in when you were born to stand out?’ Dr Seuss

So, be distinctive!

Now, once you know your distinctiveness and calling, then you can be ‘subversively’ good and be distinctive, and when someone notices your words or actions you can minimise the effect. In this sense subversive is used to mean action against the system of brokenness and fear and confusion by thinking, saying and doing good things. Even so, the response may not always be positive from other people, and  that’s one good reason for the low-key approach.

The other approach is to be openly distinctive and throw caution to the wind. Flaunt it, or at least don’t be covert. However, do bear in mind that, ‘Notwithstanding how good you are, you…[may]… be perceived as bad by the masses when you take the extraordinary steps that lead to distinctiveness…’.  said Ernest Agyemang Yeboah. Be cautious.

And Then…
hands-1926414_960_720However, we probably all need some energy – however we define it – for new work, or greater work, or deeper, or prolonged work. We can only give from a position of strength – in the sense if we have no energy or are exhausted, if we have nothing to offer that is refreshing or vibrant, then…..well, we will have nothing to offer, nor the ability to deliver it. Be prepared to do what you’re called to do, but do ensure that you have the energy and resources.

‘Every man and woman is born into the world to do something unique and something distinctive and if he or she does not do it, it will never be done’. Benjamin E Mays

Of course, this begs the following questions:

  • Do we know who it is that calls us?
  • Do we know our gifts and attributes?
  • Do we know what it is we’re called to do?

You might like to answer those questions – keeping it to yourself – to clarify the ministry or path you’re on and/or to act as an encouragement to spur you on (further). If you wish to email questions, or answers to these questions, specifically, by all means email me at: tadhg@tadhg.cymru]

‘Let your light so shine…’ Matthew 5:16a, The Book

Empowerment

Once we know our distinctiveness and calling, then power and energy ‘to do’ is needed. Tomorrow, in part 2 we’ll look at individual empowerment.

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The Elements: The Wind Whispers

20170215-the-wind-whipers-poetry-and-liturgySince the celebration of Imbolc or Candlemas, usually the first few days of February, we’ve moved into the season of spring. Sometimes, local weather patterns prevail for a time to give a wintery feel, but rest assured spring is on its way. [Except for my antipodean friends. Sorry].

For ancient Celts, Christian Celts, Druids and those of many other ancient tribes, the cardinal point for spring is the east. So, my recommendation is that, for any ritual or recitation you make to celebrate the season, you face the east – unless you have a fixed custom, of course. For me, at this time, I like to start three compass/cardinal points ‘back’, and so as I work my way through a recitation at each compass point in a clockwise fashion, I end, for this season of spring, by facing the east. East represents spring time.

And the main element of spring is air/wind.

Here’s a poem entitled ‘The Wind Whispers’, about this season of spring and its main element:

– oOo-

I hear your voice on the sound of the wind,
and I hear you call out my name
deep within.

With no companion to my mood
I walk, but know
that in my solitude
I must bow to the wind that buffets me so.

Tonight was the first spring thunder
in the mighty rush of rain.
And the earth, like a child that knows her poems by heart,
declares, yes, that it’s spring once again.

And so I part the thrusting branches
and come  beneath
the blesséd and the blessing trees,
that look upward at God all day
and lift their leafy arms to pray.

Beneath a canopy of stars,
of broken branches showing the scars
of many winds and so much strife,
this is life.

Yes, the wind whispers to us all.
Its words carry across the tree tops, and it sings.
And, back comes the wind full strength with a body-blow
dandelion-pixabay-smalllike that of angel-wings.

Praise be to you my dear Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and now serene,
I hear your voice…and I hear you call out my name,
welcoming me, and those of my kin.

-oOo-

This is a ‘found poem. That is, a new poem fashioned from, and/or based upon the thoughts and words of others that have gone before. In this case, this poem written by me, was prompted by some great words penned by:  Rudyard Kipling, Sara Teasdale, St Francis of Assisi, Joyce Kilmer, Rainer Maria Rilke, Wendell Berry, and Douglas Malloch.

 

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Ephemera: The Celtic Month Of The Ash Tree [18 February-17 March]

20170215-ash-tree-month-ephemeraTime to prepare. This Saturday, 18 February 2017, sees the start of the new Celtic month of the Ash (though, common with ancient cultures and their calendar you can choose to start the new month the evening before, from out point of view, if you wish).

So, here’s some information about the  Ash tree, something about the ancient origin and myths associated with this glorious month, and something to do by way of celebration.

Common name: Ash, Common ash, European ash
Scientific name: Fraxinus excelsior. (Fraximus means firelight, in Latin)
UK provenance: native
Interesting fact: Ash trees can live up to 400 years – even longer if coppiced.

About The Ash Tree
When fully grown, Ash trees can reach a height of about 35m. They are tall and graceful, and often grow together, forming a domed canopy. Their bark is pale brown to grey, which fissures as the tree ages.

‘The ash before the oak, choke, choke, choke;
The oak before the ash, splash, splash, splash.’

ash-tree-ncI am told that the leaves have the ability to move in the direction of sunlight, whilst, sometimes the whole crown of the tree may actually lean in the direction of the sun. Another characteristic of ash leaves is that they fall when they are still green.

The Ash tree is dioecious: that is, male and female flowers typically grow on different trees, although sometimes a single tree can also have male and female flowers on different branches. Flowers are purple and appear before the leaves in spring.

Once the female flowers have been pollinated by wind, they develop into conspicuous winged fruits, or ‘keys’, in late summer and autumn, commonly known as ‘helicopters’ to children!.

‘Of all the trees that grow so fair,
Old England to adorn,
Greater are none beneath the Sun,
Than Oak and Ash and Thorn.’

Rudyard Kipling

Usage
In ancient times Ash wood was used to make the shafts for arrows and spears.

The Ash trees wood ability to flex meant it was used to build wagons and coaches, as the wood could easily absorb bumps and shocks. It was also used as a veneer for furniture.

And, today, Ash is still used to make high quality sports goods such as hockey sticks, billiard cues and tennis rackets.

Myth
ash_yggdrasil_by_friedrich_wilhelm_heineMany believe the Ash to be a very important tree, magical. For instance, in Scandinavian countries the world tree, Yggdrasil (see right), was thought to be a giant Ash tree. In Ancient Greece, Ash trees were sacred to Poseidon (the God of the sea), and wood from the Ash tree was frequently used to make charms to protect the wearer against drowning.

And, Hesiod, a Greek philosopher,  believed the first man was born from the Ash tree. This gave rise to the planting an ash tree at the birth of each baby. Of course, then, the state of the tree was thought to serve as an indicator of that person’s health and strength.

‘I was that ash tree that grew flowery
and strong as any among it;
and you were the meadowlark who sought
a safer shelter in its shadow.’

Juan Cristóbal Romero
Translation: Erin Goodman

In many ancient cultures Ash was renowned for its healing properties, and sick children would be passed though the branches of the Ash tree for healing and speedy recoveries. And, it was thought to cure warts.

Indeed, the Ash is associated with the Welsh Magician-God Gwyddion, who bears an Ash staff or wand, a potent symbol of healing, transformation and empowerment as regards matters of destiny. And, whilst talking of staffs or wands, St Patrick, it is said banished all the snakes from Ireland with an Ash stick, which, in Irish mythology, was the preferred wood for a magic wand.

With the advent of Christianity the Ash tree took on other holy associations. Ash tree wood’s unique ability to burn well (hence its Latin name Fraximus excelsior) whilst green was attributed to the fact, by some, that it was the very wood that warmed the stable where Jesus was born, and ever since then it has held that ability. Some believed that it was an Ash fire in the stable where Jesus had his first bath in the warmth of its fire, and then went onto believe that it was therefore beneficial for new-born babies to have their first bath in front of a fire made with Ash logs,  in the hope that they would have a long and pious life. An interesting story, don’t you think?

Time To Celebrate
So, this Friday evening or Saturday evening, why not celebrate the new month. Many regard this new month as the month of self-renewal, deep thought, inspiration-by-nature and a time of creativity.

‘Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvellous.’ Bill Moyers

keyboard-1395316__340So, why not draw aside and do something creative, such as start a daily journal (if only for the month), write a poem or two that day (and, why not try your hand at writing a haiku. See here for the basic idea and examples). Science, too, many say is ‘encompassed’ in the general mood of this month – so why not visit a science museum or watch a science-related movie or read a science-related book (see here for a recommended book), all focusing on the wonder of nature and the universe we inhabit. Or visit a local building or site of historical interest, or treat yourself to a visit to a local art gallery – do something different.

‘You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.’ Maya Angelou

Of course, in addition (and highly recommended as I enjoy liturgy and ritual), you can always enact a rite at home: light a candle, recite some wonderful,  relevant words to usher in the new month and Spring, and/or meditate in silence on the moment, and pause. And enjoy that pause, that liminal moment.

 

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