Spring-Time Song For Alban Eiler[Revisited]: Spring Equinox

20190318 SPRING TIME SONG FOR ALBAN EILER

Spring equinox or Alban Eiler as it’s known in Wales (which, translated from Welsh, means, quite aptly, ‘the light of the earth’) is almost upon us in the northern hemisphere: Wednesday. 20 Match 2019. And, with spring in the air you might feel like singing.

Confession time! I love singing: singing in the rain (yes!) when no one is about, singing in the shower under that personal ‘waterfall’ that ‘transports’ us elsewhere (doesn’t it?), singing to myself (or are we really ever alone?), singing when leading a group (and acting as their cantor), and at other times, too.

‘The song of Lúthien before Mandos was the song most fair that ever in words was woven…. Unchanged, imperishable, it is sung still in Valinor beyond the hearing of the world…’ The Silmarillion, J R R Tolkein

Singing is wonderful. Try it! And, don’t worry about being in tune. Just enjoy it, and as it says somewhere, ‘Make a joyful noise…’ (Psalm 100:1a, The Book). It’s also beneficial.

Here’s a couple of startling facts.

Did you know that researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, found that the heartbeats of the choristers synchronised when they sang together, bringing about a calming effect that is as beneficial to our health as yoga.  And the same scientists asked a group of lively teenagers to try three choral exercises – humming, singing a hymn and chanting. The scientists monitored their heart rhythms during each. It showed that singing had a dramatic effect on heart rate variability, which is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. This all formed part of a fascinating UK national newspaper article and can be read here.

Singing, then, is good for your body and you soul. So, this Spring equinox sing, and with that in mind, below is a song (penned by me about a year ago), and set to an old, memorable, Irish/Celtic tune

The following (and yes you can recite it as liturgy or read it as poem to complement what you might be doing to celebrate this time) is a song which can sung to the old, wonderful and mysterious Gaelic tune ‘Siuil a Ruin’. It is a song of praise about nature, and to the One behind it all, That Which Is Larger Than Ourselves.

Lord of the Spring we honour you,
we thank you for na-ture’s green,
(for) the Earth’s beauty no-ow seen.

Light and darkness dance together well,
in perfect, balanced humility,
in flower, plant and mighty tree.

Chorus: Slowly, slowly the Circle turns
and nature’s smile is seen by all.
Ho-ow is nature good to us.

Sacred time as the moon rises high
New life comes from that which did die,
new birth comes to us in the by and by.

Wolf and lamb, lion and leopard, too
Shall live one day in sweet harmony
As nature moves , and the Circle turns.

Chorus: Slowly, slowly the Circle turns
and nature’s smile is seen by all.
Ho-ow is nature good to us.

If you’re interested in the tune that ‘works’ with the abovementioned words, do check the link of Siuil a Ruin (as sung by Anúna) here. The words above ‘coming in’ at fifteen seconds into the tune.

And, just to recap that a few days ago, still with the Spring equinox in mind there was an article on this blog: Spring-tine blessing liturgy (see here). There, two resources to enhance your celebration of the Spring equinox and to give thanks to the That Which Is Larger Than Ourselves.

Wishing you and yours much light and love this Spring Equinox, Tadhg

 

Ephemera: Plough Monday And Celebrating Nature

20190101 PLOUGH MONDAY AND CELEBRATING NATURE EPHEMERA

It is good to heed old customs, or at least be aware of them, as ancient wisdom from yesteryear can have a beneficial impact on each of us today. One of my favourite customs is the tradition of Plough Monday.

Here’s an outline of the Plough Monday tradition, its history, and its relevance to us today, and here’s  a way of celebrating it, wherever you are, in a simple and meaningful way.

Plough Monday was usually celebrated on the first Monday after Epiphany (6 January), and in some areas its observance continues, and so Plough Monday this year is on Monday, 7 January 2019. Are you ready?

References to Plough Monday go back more than six hundred years in the UK to the Christian medieval period, and the event marks the start of the agricultural year, the resumption of farm work after the Christmas period, and the looking forward to springtime.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

W H Davies

By the 1400s, the event was dedicated to raising funds for local parishes — boundaries of which were determined by church location. Groups of qualified ploughmen formed plough guilds which had a plough light, continually lit in the local church, as a way of asking for God’s blessings on the fields, in much the same way we might light a candle or votive light for a special intention in church today. Part of the funds then collected on Plough Monday were used to help to keep these candles lit throughout the year. Some priests also blessed ploughs on that day.

However, there are some who view the event as a continuance of some earlier pre-Christian ritual marking the end winter (or a celebrating of the winter solstice) and the slow march of time to lighter evenings and warmer days, and it was celebrated to ensure much-needed agricultural fecundity.

Later, Plough Monday was an opportunity for farm workers (never adequately paid, then) to seek an extra income – by putting on plays for a fee, organising molly dancers to dance as a hat went onlookers around for donations, or by dressing someone as a ‘straw bear’ and who would be paraded through the streets as money was collected from passers-by.

No one knows when that latter tradition started but a newspaper report in 1882 wrote: ‘…he was then taken around the town to entertain by his frantic and clumsy gestures the good folk who had on the previous day subscribed to the rustics, a spread of beer, tobacco and beef.’

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.

Mary Oliver. Sleeping In The Forest

The straw bear event eventually died out in many areas, but was revived in 1980 in Whittlesea/Whittlesey, near Peterborough in England, and still continues. [More details here.]

And, over the last few years Churches and other faith groups have (re-)discovered the necessity and benefit of taking time to ponder upon the earth and its resources, our use of them, to amend our ways where we have been negligent of the Earth’s bounty, and/or to give gratitude, something which Pagans, Celts, Druids and other have been faithfully celebrating, unbroken. A service was held at Thaxted Church a couple of years ago to the end. [See here.]

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell, said: ‘Plough Sunday offers an opportunity to reflect on our relationship with the earth itself, a relationship we too easily take for granted – but also to pray for all those who work on the land and to give thanks for God’s provision.’

And so, what can we do?

I think the answer is some kind of small ritual for thanksgiving (or of repentance for the misuse of the Earth’s resources but finishing on a positive by giving thanks) and take our example from that ancient tradition of the plough light.

Perhaps on Plough Monday (7 January 2019) we might light a candle as we sit down to our evening meal, spend a minute in silent meditation, and then enjoy a hearty meal with gratitude. Ofcourse, it doesn’t have to be meal orientated. You might like to light a candle and say a verbal prayer, or take time to verbalise your gratitude to the Source of All, or recite some apt poetry (and two poems are indented above that you might like to use).

How you celebrate the event is many and varied, but there is something wonderful in that timeless continuity of lighting a plough light (candle) if only for twenty minutes or so, knowing that others have done so down the ages. And, ofcourse in some mysterious way we can be blessed by entering into that candle-light ritual, and ritual opens up a liminal doorway to the Other, to potential, to empowerment, and more, and takes us ‘out’ of ‘mechanical time’ into the sacred.

Wishing you a blessed Plough Monday, wherever you are.

Tadhg

 

[The header photo of the straw bear is used by kind permission of Kev747 at en.wikipedia]

 

 

 

Full Moon: Moon Of Horses: Celtic Ephemera [27/28 June 2018]

20180627 EPHEMERA FULL MOON 27 OR 28 JUNE 2018

There is a full moon coming up.

I love full moons, and this one will light up the sky splendidly on Wednesday and Thursday of 27 June 27 and 28 June 2018. This is because this full moon occurs at 0453 GMT/UTC, so depending on which time zone you live in, the full moon will be at its best late on Wednesday (June 27) or in the small hours of Thursday (June 28) in the northern hemisphere. Actually either/both nights will show a wonderful full moon.

‘The moon is the reflection of your heart and moonlight is the twinkle of your love.’ Debasish Mridha

It will be in the constellation of Sagittarius the archer, and the ringed-planet Saturn will be close by (about a distance of seven moon-widths from the moon, as you look at it).

Moon name: To some, this full moon was the Dyan Moon to those of medieval England, and today it is known as the Dyad Moon to some, the Planting Moon or Strawberry Moon, or Rose Moon to others, and the Moon of Horses to ancient and latter-day Celts, Druids and myself.

‘The full moon – the mandala of the sky.’ Tom Robbins

Moonfact: Although kept a secret at the time, on 20 July 1969, at the time of the first ever moon-landing, Aldrin took out a small container of wine and some bread that he had brought to the moon from Webster Presbyterian church near Houston, where he was an elder.

Aldrin then radioed to Nasa and said, ‘I would like to request a few moments of silence … and to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.’

He then ate and drank the elements of bread and wine: communion. The surreal ceremony is described in an article by Aldrin in a 1970 copy of Guideposts magazine: ‘I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.’

He also read a section of the gospel of John. During it all, Armstrong is said to have watched respectfully but without making any comment. This information was gleaned by me from the internet, and one has to be careful about the veracity of some claims made on the internet, but Snopes has it down as an accurate fact.

‘The moon stays beautiful with its craters, so why then are you afraid of your scars?’ Zubair Ahsan

Celebration: I know celebrating the full moon with communion elements may not be ‘everybody’s cup of tea’, but I would encourage you to celebrate this full moon in some meaningful way. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Something simple, intentional and moving (to you) is of great value.

As regards the universe, John Wheeler said, ’We are participators in bringing into being not only near and here, but far away and long ago.’

John Wheeler, an American physicist who is known for having coined the term ‘black hole’ said that each of us is intimately involved with the universe. From that, we can deduce that what we do does make a difference. He called it the ‘participatory anthropic principle. So, do celebrate this full moon in some way and make a difference: an intentional walk in moonlight, or a silent gazing at the full moon, a glass of wine ‘toast’ to the moon, or perhaps buy a moon chart to mark its progress and changes throughout the year, or a word of gratitude to the moon and/or the One Behind It All, or perhaps something else.

Oh Universal Presence,
bless us with the gentle light of your signs and wonders,
as we gaze heavenward to Earth’s companion, the Moon.

Gazing up we see a serene face looking back,
etched into grey-white rock.
May we see all humanity contained in that face,
and look in awe at all humankind, too.

May we see light and love in this radiant light from the full moon falling to the Earth, and covering all.
May we see we see the life of the universe in everything.
May we look upon the Moon’s face, to the One Behind It All
and be grateful.

That Place Of Peace: A Personal, Celtic Perspective On Death, Mourning And After

20180604 THAT PLACE OF PEACE DEATH MOURNING AND AFTERWith white roses and lilac-coloured flowers in hand I strode across the busy, noisy, bustling road, full of cars and people, and entered the cemetery. Passing the huge wrought-iron gates the world changed. Crossing that threshold, I left the world of busy-ness and noise behind. All was now at peace.

It was one of those sunny hot, June days – yes, even in London they get good weather occasionally, and that’s where I am for a while. London.

This, then, is a personal view, and some of my exploratory thoughts about death, mourning and what follows. Hopefully uplifting. My thoughts may be different to your views, but they are shared in the spirit of love and openness, and should you want to share your views and I hope you do, please do so by emailing me, directly. I am always happy to receive emails, and by so doing ‘iron sharpens iron’, indeed, and we learn and grow.

So, walking slowly through the cemetery there is, even in the middle of London, an air or peace, quietness and seeming solitude. Today, 2 June, is the birthday of my late dad, who passed on, just over a year ago, and the flowers are for his grave – a grave shared by my late mum, and nestling alongside those of my two grandmothers.

It’s an old cemetery, and I can’t but help notice that much of it is overgrown and sorely in need of mowing and some tender loving care – Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council please take note. I remind myself to contact them. Moving through the cemetery to the newer part I walk towards one of the few wooden bench seats around.

As I got nearer, and eventually sat on the bench seat, I spied my favourite tree, a dear and familiar friend, just a few feet away, that many years ago I named ‘Y llygad’ (pronounced ‘e hl-gad), and Welsh for ‘the eye’ (see header photograph). It feels like I’m being watched. I do believe am! I’m comfortable with that, and happy.

Resting there for a few minutes, thoughts come and go.

In Celtic Irish custom, and it moved throughout some of Welsh culture, too, there is a thought that when someone is about to pass on, the ban sidhe (pronounced ‘ban she’), a ghostly figure, would wail loudly. Many would say they have heard her cries in the distance, and many fear her for obvious reasons. She does get bad press. Perhaps rather than a ghoulish figure, the harbinger of death, maybe she is (as many would affirm) a fairy woman, a spirit who laments the loss-to-come to relatives, and who guides the way for the deceased, through the veil that separates this world from the next.

’…the Celtic…tradition recognises that the eternal and the transient world are woven in and through each other. Very often at death, the inhabitants of the eternal world come out towards the visible world.’ John O’Donohue.

More thoughts arise. At my grandmother’s death (and before the funeral) several women spent sometime keening. Keening being an old Celtic action involving deeply moving spiritual singing by older women – not quite wailing, then, but more uplifting, and with the benefit of drawing alongside grieving relatives. Nothing negative at all. Those keening women cared.

As I sat on that cemetery bench even more thoughts arose. Around me are dear people buried, who, like me, breathed, loved, knew ill-health, life’s ‘ups and downs’, and lived life to the full, and have now passed on. Passed where?

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

Rumi

In the peace and tranquillity of that place, lofty questions arose. As I looked at some very old gravestones, some so old that that much of the writing had been worn away, it seemed to me that the Book of Nature (and science) showed that nothing is lost, that cycles exist and continued, and transformation takes place. Some believe that those who have passed on are even more alive in Eden, or heaven, to others they are in the Summerlands, and to others they are in Hy Braesil. I suspect these are different names for the same place, the final destination of humankind.

’Life is eternal, and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.’ Rossiter W Raymond

Hy Braesil is one of my favourite terms, as it is wrapped in mystery and ‘magic’. Thought by some to be the place of life here-after, it is also said by some to be a mystical (physical) land far off the coast of north-west or western Scotland, and known to Celtic Welsh people, Scots and Irish people of old. Some say it only appears every six or seven years. Hy-Braesil, an island, was first drawn on maps in 1325AD by Angelino Dulcert, an Italian cartographer. It continued to be shown on maps until the 1860s.

Having rested there on that bench for a while, I moved off to the short distance to the family graves. Once there, I pulled the dead flowers out the flower-pots, cut the new flowers, save for one, and put the flowers in the flower-pots: one-third for my parents’ gravestone, and one-third each for my two grandmother’s gravestone flower-pots.

Wiping the gravestones, I then wait. On this occasion I have no prayer to say, only silent gratitude. It is enough, I believe. Gratitude to my late parents, my passed-on family, my ancestors and others. After several minutes I walk away, but not before a momentary head-bow.

Picking up the single rose, I walk in a certain direction – it differs each time. And then, on a gravestone, a different one each time, that is so weathered that no names can be read, or perhaps a gravestone that looks unkempt, I leave that single flower, as a mark of respect to that person, to acknowledge that they have not been forgotten.

But, for now they sleep. Or do they? From our perspective maybe they do, but in reality, maybe they are all more alive than ever, in a place where they no longer age, where there is no want and no sickness. Perhaps our perspective is wrong and needs to change? Maybe they are alive and it is we who sleep?

‘Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:’

William Wordsworth

Walking towards the large iron cemetery gates there are many profound, unanswered questions on my mind. Perhaps, there are somethings we will not know until we are ‘there’, and then those questions will evaporate as we will then know even as we are known. But, for the time being we revel in mystery and I am content with that.

‘We are all stories in the end, just make it a good one, eh?’, Dr Who.

Now, back in that busy street, cars speeding and people rushing about doing their shopping, it is easy to forget that we are more than just flesh and blood, as we unknowingly match the dizzying speed of a hectic world. But there is a distant echo, the voice of the Source, the bat khol, maybe the voice of our ancestors, or even an angel or elemental that whispers to each one of us that we are ‘Much more’. Be heartened.

 

Tadhg’s Invite: Table Talk

201711210 TABLE TALK INVITE DECEMBER 10Some of you will know that a couple of months back I spent some time on one of Scotland’s remote islands, Iona.

It was a wonderful time. It is an awesome and liminal place. It was a pilgrimage in many respects – a time to draw aside, remember vows made and promises to myself, and a time to think, meditate, pray and ‘re-energise’. I would heartily recommend a visit to Iona if you’re able to, and haven’t done so already.

Coffee? Tea? Chat in person? Skype call?

One of the deep thoughts I had there was of the sense of connectedness with you and all who read these articles, and the deep gratitude I have for you in reading articles here. But, there was more. In an age where we can cover vast distances in no time at all through the internet, I sought to think of ways of how to utilise that useful ‘tool’.

And so, I am now thinking that:

  • magic cafe File 10-12-2017, 20 26 24

    The coffee or tea is on me!

    if you live or work in London (UK) I’d really like to invite you for a cup of coffee to meet you and get to know you more, especially with the winter solstice, Christmas, new moon and the new year coming up. Time to meet, to celebrate another year and know each other more.  The easiest way to do this, is via text – and I can be  reached by text on the UK mobile telephone: 07743 956981.

I can mention some times I’m available at the Magic Cafe, Fulham Palace Road, Fulham, and will do so if/when you text (with directions). Or, you can mention some dates and times when you’re available to come to the Magic Café. We’ll try to work out a mutually convenient day/time. Don’t forget to tell me who you are.

  • Untitledif you live further afield, outside London or abroad, then maybe we can ‘connect’ via Skype. Again, please text availability using my UK mobile telephone: 07743 956981. My Skype name is: tadhg jonathan. We’ll try to work out a mutually convenient day/time. Don’t forget to tell me who you are.

Or,

  • if you’d rather send a text or two (or more) only, by all means use the mobile telephone number already mentioned, and we can get to know each other that way.

Ofcourse, this is optional and a personal invitation to you. But, if you would rather not do any of this, rest assured you are in my prayers and well-wishes as we journey together via this website, and I look forward to connecting with you in the future via articles, here.

Blessings, light and love be to you and yours, Tadhg.

 

201711210 TABLE TALK INVITE DECEMBER 10

 

 

Magic Café Revelations. Life-Story: We Are Changed In The Telling

20171122 MAGIC CAFE REVELATIONS LIFESTORY WE ARE CHANGED IN THE TELLING

As I sit in the Magic Café in London my imagination is energised into action. A myriad of thoughts flood my mind, and soon  pictures, words and sounds ‘solidify’ and take shape. Seemingly ‘filtered’ an ‘impression’ emerges – a train of thought with beginning, middle and end rises from that Other place.

Stories. We each have a wonderful story to tell, a life-story;  indeed we’re still living it day by day, in the spectacular and wondrous, and those other times and events we mistakenly deem to be mundane and unimportant, and sometimes in events that we might want to forget.

Our stories are important as they are part of the very fabric of the universe. Yes, as real, if not more so than a colossal supernova in the vast reaches of space, or the smallness, the gentleness of a delicate flowering plant. Our life-stories matter.

Find opportunities to tell your life-story, even to yourself. For in telling our story we use our imaginations, and when we use our imaginations a whole world opens up – a world of power, a world that accesses the Other, a conduit to That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves. In so doing we allow inspiration to flood us, for Arwen (if you’re a Druid and/or Welsh) or the Spirit to move within us, or if your ‘theology’ allows it, for the fae or elementals to whisper words of wisdom to us, or for Wisdom herself to ‘speak’ directly to us. Imagination opens us up to a world of wonders. The door opens when we use our imaginations and power, and energy and Love pour through. Indeed, we place ourselves in ‘the flow’ at such times.

Find opportunities to tell your life-story, even to yourself. For in telling our story we remind ourselves of what has happened and where we’ve been; of where we are now; and draw hope for the future of where we will be. Our stories, in the retelling, quietly voice our history with all its awkward corners and overcoming, shout out our status as one who is much-loved by the Lover of All, and yells out our future hope of promise and certainly, and continuity and bliss in the Other Country (that has already started). Our story is important  for when told we acknowledge our place in the Universe, our status.

‘We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience’. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Find opportunities to tell your life-story, even to yourself. For in telling our story we are changed. That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves does not leave us unchanged. In some deep, mystical and maybe imperceptible way, that power of Unconditional Love comes in, inspires us, confirms our Being, and then transforms us. We are not left unchanged. If you want to be smart, mix with smart people. It rubs off. If you want beauty tips then mingle with people who know about such things. It rubs off (and no pun intended). Guys (and ladies), if you want to know about how to use gym equipment and get/fit then fraternise with those in the know. When you encounter The Source of All we are changed – as surely as night follows day. It rubs off. Moses knew that.

When we encounter That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves in our stories by the use of the imagination, a ‘Divine osmosis’ takes place. An exchange. A cosmic swap occurs. It cannot but help happen. And That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves finishes (though that is debatable) with what many would term a blessing – but not a blessing into ‘the air’ and which is quickly forgotten, but a blessing with a spiritual and cosmic, tangible and/or spiritual transformation. Tears may flow,  or silence may endure as we consider such a thing in solitude and awe. Reaction or not on our part, our story is nevertheless important for when told we surrender ourselves to the Source of All, we are blessed in a myriad of ways. And that osmosis of grace is ‘infectious’. It flows to us from the Source of All, and from us to others, and blesses others around us, when our story is told.

‘Don’t let anyone tell your story. Pick up a pen and write your own.’ Majid Kazmi

So, tell your life-story. It matters.

And, so as I sit in the Magic Café, writing and consider whether to order another latte or not, and as you read this, and are perhaps at school or college, at home, or work tomorrow, the world spins, as does the galaxy, but in all the vast regions of space, and eons of time, your life, your life-story matters.

 

Magic Café Revelations: All Life-Stories Matter

20171121 MAGIC CAFE REVELATIONS ALL STORIES MATTER

I am sitting in a café in London, and it’s magic. I know this to be the case, as over the door it says in big bright lettering, ‘The Magic Café’, and it’s one of my favourite places to relax. As a regular I’ve got to know the other regulars that frequent this awesome place.

I’ve probably mentioned it in the past: there is the yachtsman, the Portugese lady, the journal lady, the nanny, and the taxi drivers. As I sit here today, I wondered if they had a name for me, or if the journal lady had written about me as she writes copiously at her table, right now, supping coffee and chewing on a croissant?

Each one of us has a story to tell.

I was once at a meeting where a speaker, originally from London and had spent a number of years in a remote corner of Africa, only to return and recount his story. After fifteen minutes or so he said that each one of us has a story to tell, and suggested that one by one – there were twelve us in this group – we might tell something of our story. It hadn’t got far, infact only two people had shared their story, when the third person said something like, ‘But you’re story is so much more important, so full of awesome events, that we would like to hear more’, to the speaker. And so the story-sharing came to an abrupt end. Disappointed.

‘A bruised reed He will not break.; Isaiah 42.3 The Book

As I sit in the Magic Café, now, I imagine what each of the regulars’ story might consists of. I can imagine, and do. I wonder in what way their lives are similar to mine, and their will be similarities. In what ways different, and there will be great differences. I wonder in what ways your life story and mine co-incide. It does! At the very least it co-incides as I write these words and you are reading them. Interaction. And, there’s more. In a spiritual realm my thoughts ‘flew’ as I write these word, and your thoughts ‘fly’ as you interpret them. Mingling.

We participate in each others story because of that interaction via the internet, via physically meeting or emailing or commenting, or even thinking about each other; and participate in each others story on a cosmic level which, right now might be more than we can conceive, but one day we will understand fully. Imagine that.

‘If I’m gonna tell a real story, I’m gonna start with my name’. Kendrick Lamar

But for now, I use imagination to understand the depth of our connectedness. And would suggest the same to you. Imagination is a spiritual gift even though we play it down, or use it just as a figure of speech. And, imagination, right now, fuels my desire, our desire to get to know each other (more). The more I think about, say, the journal lady in this café, sitting just a few feet away from me, the more inquisitive I am about her (in a wholesome way), and imagination does change things.

‘…we are talking about spiritual transformation, mediated by the imagination.’ Sandra M Levy

Using my imagination piqued my interest, and that in turn brought about a desire to know that person as a friend, and that in turn lead me to talking to her, and interacting on a verbal level (and more). Ah, she’s a retired doctor, and yes, she loves to journal. I know part of her story now, and she knows part of mine.

Each one of us has an awesome story to share, and unlike the third person in that group, mentioned above, your story is as great as anyone elses. And our stories connect us.

‘Your story is different from mine because of different experiences. Even so, somehow or other we fit them into a Big Picture, we develop a sense of how our own stories fit into a larger one…’ Sandra M Levy

Our individual stories connect us to each other because our stories form part of the chapters of the ‘big picture’ of the cosmos or the big Book, and in such a Book there are no incosequential stories, no inconsquential people. Your life story counts, and it’s writ large upon the universe. All life-stories matter. Share your story. It’s a good one.

But, there’s more…

 

 

Samhain 2017: Thoughts & Suggestions

201710030 SAMHAIN 2017 THOUGHTS AND SUGGESTIONS

As the nights draw in, and the clocks go back, and the temperature drops (in the northern hemisphere and particularly northern climes), it is a sure sign that Samhain is almost upon us.

Samhain (pronounced ‘soh-win’, though there are variation) is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season, and is sometimes greatly misunderstood. It marks the beginning of winter, and is traditionally celebrated from 31 October to 1 November, as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset.

In Gaelic tradition and thought there is the idea of ‘thin places’. These are places, times or events where the spiritual realm seems even closer than usual, and Samhain is just one such time.

Ofcourse, the modern-day Hallowe’en’ is known as a time of ‘trick or treat’, a modern and commercial ‘interpretation’ of those stories of old about ghosts walking the earth at this time and annoying humans. Whatever your view is on this modern view and activity by children, the ancient understanding of remembering those who have ‘gone ahead’ is, I think, one to be cherished (and it has been adopted by many churches in the form of All  Saints Day and All Souls Day for that reason).

My encouragement to you, then, is to use this time to give thanks to the Source of All for our ancestors who have given us so much (whether we know it or not, as we’re thinking of ancestors from one or two generations ago that we might have known, to those of  many generations before us, and who might have an indirect influence on us).

It is a time of reflection, in giving thanks, as the Circle of the Earth moves into the darkness of the winter season, with the hope of Light. In thinking of our ancestors, we can be grateful to them, grateful to That Which Is Larger Than Us for them, and do something in their honour and remembrance at this time.
Below are some suggestions.

You might like to mark Samhain, remember the ancestors, and mark the moving into the winter season by:

  • taking a nature walk in the country on in a city park. Observe and contemplate the colours, aromas, sounds, and other sensations of the season. Experience yourself as part of nature,
  • decorating your home with Samhain seasonal symbols and the colours of orange or you might place an autumnal wreath on your front door. Create displays with pumpkins, cornstalks, gourds, acorns, and apples,
  • lighting a token candle (and perhaps saying a prayer – perhaps one of those at the end of this page?),
  • creating an ancestor altar or table, with, perhaps photographs, heirlooms, and other mementos of deceased family, friends, and companion creatures, to reflect upon. Thank them for being part of your life. Sit quietly and pay attention to what you experience,
  • having a Samhain simple dinner, however you interpret it, to  think deeply about the new season of winter, the ancestors, and to give thanks,
    sharing with others, or just remembering to yourself, a story about your ancestors or a particular ancestor,
  • visiting a cemetery and tend the gravesite of a loved one there, or leave a flower on an old grave (perhaps worn over the years) if your ancestors are buried some distance away – in this way they too, are honoured, or
  • reflecting on your life over the past year. Using journals, planners, photographs, blogs, and other notations you have created during the past year. Consider how you
  • have grown, accomplishments, challenges, adventures, travels, and learnings. Meditate. Journal about your year in review, your meditation, and your reflections.

It is not necessarily a morbid time, but a time of thankfulness – a looking back, a taking stock, and a looking forward with hope.

You might like to consider the following prayers:

Early/Awaking Prayer:

Oh Hallowed Three In One,
as Autumn turns to winter,
may we see you more clearly in nature,
love your sonlight more dearly today,
and follow you more nearly in all circumstances,
as the Circle turns.

Or

Ancestors’ prayer:

Maker of time and space,
who is in all things and yet ‘above’,
be with all souls this evening.
Be with those who have lived on earth and are now ‘at home’ in Bliss.
Blessings be to my/our ancestors.
Be with those who live on earth now and journey onward in differing circumstances.
Blessings be to them and me.
Be with those yet to come, who, also, are part of the great family of humankind.
Bless them, too.
Maker of all time and space,
in gratitude do all souls, past , present and future, praise you,
and bless you this night.

Or

Evening/Closing Prayer:

Hallowed Spirit come with compassion this night,
and look upon all souls.
Darkness falls at your behest,
and winter closes in,
and yet the Circle turns.
In the darkness the Everlasting light still shines
in our hearts.
A beacon of hope to all.

Whatever you do, my prayer is that you mark this time in some way, and celebrate the season and the ancestors at this time is a deeply spiritual and wholesome way.

And may That Which Is Larger Than Us bless you and yours at this time, and all those that have gone before us. Light and Love be to all.

Tadhg