Here is some information for the Hawthorn tree or Hauthe the Ogham details for the alphabet, it’s full moon name, and the Hawthorns spirituality and mythology
So, here’s more about it.
Name as the Hawthorn tree or Huathe
Huathe pronounced Hoh-uh
The tree is energetic, strength, a decision-maker
Alphabet for one that ours calls: H
Ogham has one ‘stave’ to the left (see photo below)
Its month or moon month is: 13 May – 9 June
Poem: Siegfried Sassoon:
Not much to me is yonder lane Where I go every day; But when there’s been a shower of rain And hedge-birds whistle gay, I know my lad that’s out in France With fearsome things to see Would give his eyes for just one glance At our white hawthorn tree.
The Hawthorn is associated with the realm of the Fae and it tandems the oak and ash trees with them, too.
Some Christians believed that hawthorn branches formed that crown of thorns that adorned the bloodied heads of Jesus at the Crucifixion. It is also thought that Joseph of Arimathea planted the Holy Thorn Tree while traveling with the Holy Grail after Jesus’ death by going to Glastonbury in Britain
Hawthorn has a matched capacity to support local wildlife. Hawthorn tree or hedgerows have been often seen teeming with life, and it is said the Celts definitely noticed this by birds and rodents nearby.
The Latin word for the Hawthorn is called crataegus, and it comes from the Greek ‘kratos’ for hardness of its wood, and for ‘akis’ to mean sharp. Its thorns are known by many who are might unaware of it. They are prolific.
I thought a word search – with you and I finding the up or down or diagonal words from Celtic or Druid words – might be fun of the twelve words on the right list from Druid to Alban Hefin for the summer solstice, or bandraoi as the female Druid, or dorchau pen (head wreath) etc.
Word Search Puzzle #1: Celtic & Druid: English & Welsh I’ve fondly looked of word searches over the last six months, and I think using them can be useful for all/most of us, as well as them being fun, and doubly for me because of aphasia by my myself.
So, do let me know if you like the word search, please. Maybe you can find out how many minutes and seconds if might be take you to see twelve ‘competitions’ it might take you (to yourself) or letter an email to me so we’re not competitive.
It’s always good to look think about or spirituality, or liturgy, or ritual, as a later Celt or Druid etc, but it’s good to see ourselves as a twenty-first century cosmic‘ navigator’, and aware of nature, of the Source for All. And that’s what I’d like to do now – ie how we can use our hands and fingers and how we can use the sun, the moon, and the sky stars, and be aware of nature around us ie air temperature to insects etc.
So, here’s three ways, that roughly, we can be a ‘twenty-first cosmic navigator’ using:
air temperature crickets (insects)
SUN ‘MINUTE-FINGERS’: Here is a way to find out how your fingers can give you how many minutes are left before sunset. Just for fun.
So, bring together your four fingers, as in the photo above, and keep your arm as long as you can.
Now, turn your fingers, together, at 90degrees, and then you count how many fingers are different between the sun’s horizon and end of the sun. If there’s one breadth finger between the horizon and the sun then it’s 15 minutes before sundown. Two fingers breadth will show 30 minutes before the sun’s dawn, and each extra finger adds 15 minutes – although it will probably only work better, time wise, with only one to four fingers to work.
AIR TEMPERATURE CRICKETS (INSECTS): Here is a way, when you have insect crickets in your part of your land, you can find out air temperate in Celsius.
So, firstly, you count how many one cricket (male ones) chirps in twenty-five seconds.
Then, secondly, count the total chirps and then divide the number by three.
And then, thirdly, you add the number four.
And, that’s how you find out the temperature in Celsius.
For Instance, if within 25 seconds one cricket chirps for 57chips, you divide 57 by three. So it’s 19. And, then you add the number 3. So, it is 57/3 + 3 = Celsius temperature is 22c. The number the chirps, the greater the higher Celsius.
This is called as Dolbear’s Law, known after Amos Dolbear who published it in 1987. However, Margarette W Brook reported it in 1881, but it went unnoticed until after Dolbear’s publication.
ASTRONOMICAL ‘FINGERS’: Here is a way to show how your fingers make into degrees to stars, planets, comets etc. So, similar to the photo above, bring together your four fingers, and keep your arm as long as you can.
So, hold your fingers to the star in the sky. One (breadth of the) finger shows your showing 1 degree. Two breadth of the fingers means 3 degree are applied, three fingers means 5 degree, four fingers mean 7 degree are shown, and use all four fingers and a thumb close to your finger means you show 10 degrees of the star’s sky
If, for instance a planet, say, Mars is said to be 3 degrees from the moon today, then you can check the moon from away a number of fingers. One finger would show it is from one degree from the moon, but two breadth fingers would show 3 degrees of you away where Mars is from.
Or, you might know a planet or comet etc how many degrees (fingers) it is from certain to a star or constellation.
You might like to try your fingers for the degrees for part of the constellation Orion. Do see that constellation just above here. In the two bright stars are the stars Betelgeuse and Bellatrix – see the two large stars in the photo above here. They are Orion’s shoulder’s. Both stars nicely fit four (breadth) fingers, and are shown by about 7 degrees from others. Here, you can use the night sky, your fingers, and use a sky map on other ways, and become a stellar cartographer! Roughly.
AND THERE MORE. WILDLIFE NAVIGATOR? Over the next few weeks I’d like to do a few articles called ‘the twenty first comic navigator’. Then, we can encourage ecology outside in the forest, and into our towns and cities, too, and in fun ways, too.
Yes, it’s that time again. The circle, the wheel of the Earth continues to turn, and nature’s cycle ushers us, once again, into spring. It’s time to celebrate. Here’s some ideas of how to celebrate the event with a meal, ritual and words (liturgy). Really celebrate! A few years ago, this is what I wrote.
Event: Imbolc (favoured pronunciation ‘ih-mulk’), Brigid’s Day, Candlemas Date: 1 or 2 February Thought: ‘It’s the start of spring. Let’s celebrate’ Incense: Rosemary, Frankincense, Myrrh, Cinnamon Decorations: Corn Dolly, Spring Flowers, St Brigid’s Cross, Candles Colours: White, Orange, Red
Imbolc was traditionally a time of weather divination, and the old tradition of watching to see if serpents or badgers came out from their winter dens may, it is said by some.
For others, this time of the year is known, to me, as Brigid’s Day (who is known as a healer, a saint or goddess by some, whose example to us today is one of unbridled hospitality and more), or Candlemas, a time of rededication and purity, and the lighting of candles. Nevertheless, however you regard it, it is the first day of spring, and time to celebrate.
Meal And because it’s a celebration, what follows are a few ideas of things you can incorporate into you main meal of the day (or other meals, as you feel appropriate).
You might like to do the whole meal as an Imbolc or Spring celebration, or just one part of it. I’d suggest the latter, especially if this is the first time you specifically celebrate the event, and in any case, it’s usually the small things that are most significant. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate, expensive spread, after all it’s intentionality that is important.
On a number of occasions I’ve had a normal meal, and ‘focused’ on part of the meal to celebrate the event, and bought a special bread for after the meal. A remembrance of bread being a staple food, the Bread of life.
So, try something different, experiment by adding something to your main meal, say, that you may not usually buy.
Meal Preparation Whether it’s a meal for yourself or a few others, too, preparation can be fun, meaningful and easy to accomplish. If you’re not usually into formality or table lay-out I’d suggest having just one or two additional elements.
Candles! I love candles, and I’d suggest the simpler the candle setting, the better. One candle, lit, on a table looks great. Go for ‘minimalist’ approach if you wish – it can, in many circumstances, make it even more meaningful.
Because the sun would still be low in the sky and light in the evening would be dim, and because early Romans believed candlelight would scare away evil, and because Jesus is the light of the world, candles were specifically used (for all or some of those reasons) at this time – hence in many churches they celebrate this time as Candlemas.
Later, as you gaze upon that lit candle, remember, the sun rising higher in the sky and Spring returning, new life, a ‘chasing away’ of the dark and light dawning, and ponder on growth, good things, and hope. Give thanks to the Source of All.
Nature on display! I really like those displays that contain berries and fir cones etc and they look great as a table display. Or, hwo about a small bunch of inexpensive spring flowers! Both can look great, and act as a great reminder of gratitude to the earth, to nature.
For this event, celebrate with foods that honour the earth, hearth and home, such as milk products vegetables, bread etc, and these are incorporated in the suggestions below.
Breakfast: Imbolc is about milk – think of baby ewes being born and their mother’s milk flowing to nurture them. It’s a time of fertility, new life. So, why not try something different, milk-wise to pour over your breakfast cereal
Whether you eat this meal focussing on Imbolc, or Candlemas, or with Brigid in mind, whether you eat it by yourself or with others, it’s a great way of remembering the bounty of the earth, all those that have been involved in bringing it to your table, and ofcourse it’s a great time of expressing gratitude to the Giver of All. Take time to ponder.
Words & Ritual Throughout the meal, maybe between courses, or at the beginning and at the end, it’s good to pause, to give thanks. As you light the candle or gaze upon the lit candle, some may like to recite a poem or prayer at certain times. Here’s some words that you might like to use or ponder upon:
O most noble Greenness, rooted in the sun, shining forth in streaming splendour upon the wheel of Earth. No earthly sense or being can comprehend you. You are encircled by the very arms of Divine mysteries. You are radiant like the red of dawn! You glow like the incandescence of the sun!
Hildegard von Bingen English version by Jerry Dybdal and Matthew Fox
For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
Song of Solomon 2:11-12 The Book
Praise to you, Oh Caring one, nurturing, generous and milky kind, yet defiant as the snowdrop in a cold climate, feisty, pure and natural with your white singular unbroken focus, Maid-Mother to us all, praise to you.
Tess Ward, The Celtic Wheel Of The Year
Finally Do plan a great event, enjoy it, and take your time. We all rush around far too much, and here’s an opportunity to slow down and appreciate the simple, natural things in life as we yet again mark the season’s change, and give thanks.
Wishing you and blessing to you at this time of Imbolc, Spring, Brigid’s Day and Candlemas is yours.
Each one of us love the changing moon – some like the new moon which cannot be seen on the dark’s night sky (and then a small sliver, a small crescent can be seen just a night or two later). For some it could be the first and last quarter, or the waxing or waning that changes with the moon, but for me, I love the full moon.
The full moon, for me, shows its moon-shadow, or it’s smiling of the moon’s face, or it as a huge orb of white that can show us of its splendour, and also, then, it shows it as a time as a special ‘full’ event, and can be used in ritual or liturgy. I love it.
And, yes, the next full moon takes place on 28 January, on evening or night in the UK (or other a northern countries) in the constellation of Gemini, the twins! This time the moon appears below the star Pollux. And then Pollux is followed by Castor. The three follow are in a line, and each appears equidistant to each other, that day.
Day surprises me and night scares me
haunts me and winter follows me
An animal walking on the snow has placed
Its paws in the sand or in the mud
Its paws have traveled
From further afar than my own steps…
This full moon is known in various times as: the Wolf moon (or sometimes as the snow wolf) for those of Medieval English times or some of those in the Northern America, today, after the howling of hungry wolves. But what ever you call it no one can but be of wonder of the packs of wolves who work through these lean and snowy times. Chinese people call this moon as the Holiday moon.
And some by the Celtic or Druid tribes call it the Quiet moon. Whatever you call it, do make it an important event for this full moon. For me, as a Druid-Christian (or Christic-Druid) I prefer it as the Quiet moon.
As a poem or as part of liturgy for the full moon, here is something that I penned a few years ago.
Arianrhod in all her splendour, moves by an invisible hand
and wanders companionless, like a silver wheel in the sky. She ascends.
This full moon’s lucid beam dominates the now darkened canopy, and
there, in her smiling face, we find sweet, unbridled understanding.
Her ‘lesser light’ moves across the sky above the city, grey.
Oh, robed in splendour, her surge of silver-light fills every window pane
and skips across rooftops, trees, streams, fairy fires, and silent railway,
and falls unbeknown on those who sleep now, and refreshment regain.
Arianrhod, spill your beauty on a thousand Earthly races,
on happy flowers that bloom in a myriad of hues,
on laughing, smiling, sad and all up-looked faces,
who, in wilding spaces, drink your wine of sweet, bless’d fallen dew.
A gracious infilling.
And paled now is her light,
as onward she moves lower in the sky. For the sun, opportune.
But, for now, dear Arianrhod reigns with love. She is mistress of the night.
A timely witness sent by the Truth who is beyond the Moon.
A glorious remembrance.
Whatever you call this full moon do something special that evening. You might want to use a poem or liturgy/ritual as you view the full moon, you might want a small glass of wine. You might use a candle to celebrate the evening. Whatever you do, do something simple to make make it a special evening.
[Apologies if some of my wording of this article is a bit erratic. My speech is getting better, but there is still some time needed.]
Samhain (pronounced ‘so-uhn’) is a wonderful festival ‘oozing’ with ancient Gaelic tradition and ‘magic’. Something you can participate in, wherever you are. It marks the end of the third harvest and the end of autumn, and it marks the advance of the season of winter. It is the start of the dark period, winter and the underworld, when our thoughts go to those whom we love who have passed-on.
‘Sometimes the veil between this life and the life beyond becomes very thin. Our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us.’ (Ezra Taft Benson)
It’s when, in rural communities, surplus cattle were culled, and their meat stored for the depths of winter.
It starts on the evening, at dusk, on Saturday, 31 October, but don’t forget that we’ll have a Facebook live-streaming event, a ceremony to celebrate the event, called Them Night Of Long Shadows, to honour the ancestors. More details about this will follow in a few days.
But, here’s some suggestions to whet your appetite, and to start thinking of Samhain. Samhain is a cross quarter day, indeed it’s the first of the year as it starts the Druid and ancient Celtic new year. It is a moon festival (as opposed to sun festivals, such as the solstices and equinoxes when time is measured by the sun’s elevation etc)
Winter advances: ‘ Since ancient times this time was seen as a feast of the dead, and the modern idea of Hallow’een ‘sits alongside’ it. Hallowe’en? The name comes from ‘all hallows eve’. When Christianity arrived in Celtic countries, and the church discouraged fortune-telling, and magic etc, a day of celebration of all the Saints of the Church was instituted on 1 November.
The wind is full of a thousand voices They pass by the bridge and me.’ (Loreena McKennitt, ‘All Souls Night’)
Many of our hallowe’en traditions, such as bobbing for apples which were originally part of the foretelling of the future, and the baking cakes containing “lucky tokens” also originated at this time, and survive to this day. In addition, and an import from America, it is a time for children (or all ages) to visit door-to-door dressed as something with a ‘deathly’ theme to it, to ‘trick or treat’.
A time to take stock Samhain, then, was a time when farmers would take stock of their animals – which would live, and which would be killed, and a time to finally gather in (any) residual harvest; a time when local and tradition rituals would be enacted eg bonfires, and embers of these would be taken home as a form of protection; young men would run around the villages boundary with torches, again, for the villagers’ protection, as that night, many believed that the veil between this world and the world of the dead was ‘thin’, and something might (or did) come through for a while. It’s a time for the imagination to run riot, and for stories to be told.
‘Somewhere in a hidden memory Images float before my eyes’. (Loreena McKennitt, ‘All Souls Night’)
Whether you believe this factually, ‘romantically’ or not at all, the stories of that night, retold around a bonfire, perhaps, intrigued men and women, and (no doubt) frightened (hopefully in a ‘nice’ sense) many a child. Even today, the tv ‘lights up’, innocently, with many horror movies at this time of year to keep adults ‘mesmerised’. It is a ‘thin place’, this time.
Taking stock? A ‘thinning’ of the veil between here and the other, ensures that this night, the evening of 31 October, is a feast, a celebration, a time of deep thought, a reflecting of the life of those that have gone before us.
Even in its simplest form – depending on your theology – it is a time to think about the ancestors, how they contributed to make us the person/people we are today, and to give thanks. A time to remember the ancestors in different, honouring ways. For me, reflection, thinking about the ancestors and the giving of gratitude to the Source of All predominates at this time.
Do something Others will indulge in ritual, and though each may have a different way to acknowledge this feast, I enjoy the variety, enthusiasm and intentionality that my Christian, Celtic Christian, co-Druids, Wiccan and other friends put into this festival. I have my own way, my own ritual to mark this time, and it may be that you do, too.
My advice to you is: Do it! Be honest to yourself, be sincere and intentional, be joyful about it, but in some way (large of small, complicated or simple) observe the time, and make it something good, and wholesome, and memorable.
Enjoy the feast A bonfire might be out of the question, but how about lighting a candle, at least for 10-20 minutes and thinking of your ancestors in a joyful and honouring way? They’re home. You might now be able to run around then edge of a village, but how about an evening walk, a silent walk of gratitude? Elementals? Here’s your opportunity to find our more about them – an evening when their activity is said to increase – and you can find a lot about them on the internet, but don’t make it only ‘book-learning’. Why not go for a county walk, or a walk in the park, or alongside a riverbank, and meditate in some way, to ‘day dream’ and reflect? And, then perhaps, later, treat yourself to a meal, a glass of wine, a warm coffee as you gaze at the cold night sky, and yes, even watch a good, scary movie?
Ofcourse, you might like a ritual of some sort or recite relevant poetry, or sing a song, and here’s a poem/song I penned some time ago. If you join the Facebook live-streaming event you might even hear me sing it.
The Circle is turning, autumn becomes winter.
The Circle is turning, autumn becomes winter.
The Circle is turning, autumn becomes winter. And nature sleeps, as the darkness falls.
The trees, they slumber. Deep roots are dreaming.
The trees, they slumber. Deep roots are dreaming.
The trees, they slumber. Deep roots are dreaming. I’m listening to the winter’s sacred rest.
The snow is falling, the earth is bless-éd.
The snow is falling, the earth is bless-éd.
The snow is falling, the earth is bless-éd. The hope of spring, ye-et to come.
The Circle is turning, (and) autumn becomes winter.
The Circle is turning, (and) autumn becomes winter.
The Circle is turning, (and) autumn becomes winter. And nature sleeps, as the darkness falls.
If you’re ‘brave’ enough to sing it, there’s a delightful melody (the tune of Fear a Bhata (The Boatman), a traditional Gaelic piece of music to accompany you)), but if you want to hear me sing it, just join me for that Live-streaming Night of Long Shadows Ceremony – details soon.
Or, you might like to read (and recite) Rabbie Burns’ poem ‘Hallowe’en’, part of which is:
Upon that night, when fairies light On Cassilis Downans dance, Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze, On sprightly coursers prance; Or for Colean the rout is ta’en, Beneath the moon’s pale beams; There, up the Cove, to stray an’ rove, Amang the rocks and streams To sport that night;
And, finally, you might like to recite the following traditional Scottish prayer:
From ghoulies and ghosties And long-leggedy beasties And things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us
However you celebrate it, do make it something spectacular and memorable. More about Samhain will appear here, as we think about The Long Of Night Shadows event, denials how to view it, and to print out a liturgy if you wish to participate.
The Om Mantra, also sometimes spelled Ohm or Aum is considered the sound that created the universe in Hindu and Buddhist mythologies. In the Book of Genesis all that was created was created with a few words; and the Logos is the Principle that formed everything and continues to keeps in active, is known as the Word. The aborigines of Australia speak of song-lines, the song-paths which were sung by their primordial ancestor-spirits who walked across the landscape, singing its land-forms into being. For aborigines, even today, those songs are ongoing and need to keep being sung to ensure ongoing maintenance of the environment.
On a Detroit evening, from her apartment on the tenth floor, she lit the candle and said a few words. Tongue-tied, the words came out as a jumble, but she knew what she meant to say, and Angels, whose interest had piqued by this short liturgy, drew ever closer unbeknown by her, and their smile radiated in the spiritual realm.
In his house on the suburbs of Canberra, he walked around the room three times carrying a candle, walking deosil (pronounced ‘joss-all’, and meaning, clockwise, sunward) as a blessing. As he did that and uttered one word, ‘Peace’. And as he did, so did the spirits of the place, the genii locorum, assembled and gazed in awe at this saining (a Scottish inspired version of a blessing invoking protection, similar to ‘smudging’), and graced the area.
And scientists, and ancient and latter-day mystics talk of the sound within all matter, of vibrations at the cellular and atomic level, that keeps all matter together and gives each part of intrinsic uniqueness.
A group of druids gathered on a windswept hill in north Wales, barely sheltered by old oak trees, invited the ancestors and goodly spirits, and recited an elaborate liturgy, and unbeknownst to them a myriad of entities, almost as old as the earth, came closer, surprised at the confidence and power of that group.
It is said the words have power, and rightly so. Within humankind we can choose to exercise words as positive tools to encourage and build up others, to assent to small and lofty projects, and with a two words a couple can consent to marriage. Or, we can choose to utter negative words to end projects, to humiliate others, and end friendships and relationships, and dishearten someone so much so that they slink away crestfallen. It is for that reason that Thich Nhat Hahn recommend we only use ‘loving speech’, to each other’s and to all creation.
A group of children were playing between two trees, imagining that the arched trees were portals to another planet or dimension. And, as they jumped between the trees they would gleefully shout out ‘abracadabra’. As they did, so benevolent elementals from afar strained to hear their laughter, and blessed the children having fun.
The Druids and ancient Celts, in a less hurried world and who realised the non-separation of the Here and the Other would have had a better idea of the power of words, something that we are only re-discovering.
In ‘The Tibetan Book Of The Dead’, that in that in-between state of life and death, the bardo plane, we are each thought to review our life, and are cleansed. Many suggest that the two phrases often heard there are, ‘I love you’ and I forgive you’, and though the wayfarer may think that days have elapsed, rather, only a few minutes has past. So, profound is the significance and power of those two phrases.
You know I love liturgy, and at any event I can, would encourage you to join in with me. There may be a ritual, an action to do, but words… oh words to recite meaningfully, and when we do these things I do believe the Universe delights in us.
At the end of her liturgy, in her Detroit apartment, she wondered in her confusion of a few uttered words would render the ceremony ineffective. She need not have worried. Those Angels observed silently, and smiled approvingly. It was intention that was all-important.
Our words are powerful and effective, but it is the meaning behind that matters most. If we are worried about getting a bit tongue-tied and how that may effect our ritual, then we’ve ‘lowered’ our efforts to something like a Harry Potter spell, if that were possible, and missed the point.
As the sun set of that house in the Canberra suburb, the man wondered if such a simple liturgy – of just one word – was enough. If he could have peeked into the invisible realm he would have seen the spirits of the place retiring having marvelled at his actions and powerful word.
The power is not in quantity of words uttered. And, if faith is important, it is the One Behind It All whose faith in us, which is all-important.
And as two Druids drove home from north Wales they talked and reminisced about the wonderful ceremony, but each realised that simple or elaborate, what was most meaningful was that each had done his or her part, and those silent, invisible ancient entities approved.
And what of those children playing in that make-belief portal to another world? They all grew up, for that playfulness took place some fifty-five years ago.
One of those children now grown up, sat in front of his iPad and typed these words, ‘Even in innocence, in the playful games of children words are powerful. Little did those children realise, but this one now knows, that perhaps their ‘magical’ word to usher them into another planet or realm may have been more powerful than they could have expected.
‘Abracadabra’ rather than sounding like a nonsensical word to some, is a word of energy. It comes from the Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke), and ‘abraq ad habra’ means ‘I create as an speak’. Even in our innocence, my friends and I, invoked the power of the Universe and it joined in our childlike games and blessed us. Such is the benevolence of Creator And Sustainer Of All Things.
In all that we do, with solo ceremonies or together, do take to heart the words and rituals that we do. Ofcourse, take them seriously, plan well, but enjoy them, and never ensure that our words and actions at those times lose their innocence. Never recite by rote. It is better to keep it simple if needed, powerfully succinct, but if it need to be longer, never to ensure that we forget that we are ‘dancing’ with the Unseen who approves greatly.
Did these behind-the-scenes actually happen or were they the product of a fertile imagination? Who knows? I would like to think they happened, and that they illustrate a truth about our status and intentions about words. I would like to suggest that the spiritual realm is deeper and wider that we have hitherto imagined. And, that we are being invited to co-operate in having an effect in profound and yet invisible ways. One thing I do know, is that…
…words are powerful, and that the benevolent Universe is listening and inviting us to draw closer, in love.
We can look around at creation and marvel, and stare in awe from the nearest and smallest seed or snowflake, wonder at the majesty of water (a lake, the sea etc, especially as we’re in the season of autumn and it’s corresponding element is water), and gaze at the furthest, brightest and most mysterious star we can see in the sky, and feel so small.
What is the Maker of All like? Who created all that we can see, and indeed all that we cannot see (now that we know the the majority of the universe is some form of invisible energy)?
This is not about the Creator’s physical appearance, but His and Her character and benevolence (but both pronouns do an ‘injustice’ to the One – such is the limit of our language. However, to use ‘it’ is worse, as that’s impersonal and my understanding, experience and theology accepts the Universe as entirely personal, and not a ‘thing’).
Our ancestors, those ancient Celts, Druids, Pagans, early Hebrews and Christians, and tribespeople (then and now) would not have ‘suffered’ from that notion of a/the dichotomous god/God, nor with the separation between the spiritual and the mundane, but would have been so closer to nature to realise that connectedness in their daily lives. We, because of the current zeitgeist of materialism‘, might need a little coaxing and encouragement – hence (this) liturgy and poetry.
When we look around and we’ll feel separated – a modern, and sadly all-too-common feeling – it is good to be reminded that we are not separated. When we feel lonely, it’s good to know again that we’re never alone. And, when, in this time when many rant that the Universe is unfriendly and conditional, it is good to ‘feel’ the opposite, to see the Truth – that the Universe is on our side and wholly benevolent.
The following was penned recently – written as liturgy (which can be added to, and incorporated to liturgy already written elsewhere by Tadhg) to underline the Universe’s unconditional love for each of us, or it could be read as poetry that we can recite and take to heart at any time. But, it underscores our status in creation, and hopefully, gives us heart in a time in which many are in need of (inclusive) hope, love and acceptance.
Liturgy of Acceptance
On the day we looked up, the face of the Mighty Three looked down, and had compassion. The Great Spirit saw us and replied, and love, unconditionally was poured out in abundance.
On the day we cried out, the Voice from Above spoke. Sublime whispers could be heard, promises of care and protection were made, which said, ’I will not leave you as orphans, but will come to you’.
On the day we remained silent, unable to speak, and felt lonely, the Mysterious One came, visited us, and we saw an outstretched arm, an invitation to each of us to take hold, and dance in that Eternal Dance of the Divine.
The Source of All, the Prodigal One, the Universe, The Friend is our friend, indeed.
It’s nearly time for our celebration of Lughnasadh, or first harvest – Lughnasadh is the Irish Gaelic for ‘the commemoration of Lugh’ which was prevalent event in England in former years. If you live in England think of the area in London called Ludgate formerly called Luds Gate. This time, for some, is also called “Lammas”, from the old anglo-saxon – their word for loaf mass, a mass where the first loaf of bread of the harvest is consecrated.
a very brief outline of Ludhnasah, and
a hymn for it penned by Tadhg, and
a few verses about John Barleycorn from an ancient, mythical folk tune, and there’s more.
at the base of this article is your invitation to view/participate in our ‘live streaming’ Lughnasadh ceremony online, on Tadhg’s Facebook page, on Friday, 31 July 2020 at 8pm (UK time) though the event takes place in the northern hemisphere on 1 August (or the evening before). Do feel free to print this ‘article’ at home, for your personal use, as some of it will be used in the ceremony
In an agricultural society the begin of the harvest was a natural occasion to celebrate and to give thanks to the Divine for Its gifts. And, there is no reason in our technological society why we, too, should give thanks to the Lord of the Harvest, the Great provider.
This time of the year would, for our ancestors, have been a time of great joy, as the times grow darker. They would have started storing food for the winter.
But, the idea of celebrating harvest, giving thanks, storing for the winter goes back, goes back way before the times of the Church, way before even the Celts and Druids of the UK, and many thousands of years before that – and so it truly is an ancient and cosmic-celebratory time which no one religion, faith or tribe can lay exclusive ownership, which is entwined in our ancient and later day tribes’ survival and the honouring of That Which Is Larger Than Ourselves, the Great Provider.
Some time ago, with Lughnasadh or Lammas in mind, and with the idea of giving gratitude to the One Behind It All, I wrote the following Hymn For The Harvest:
HYMN FOR THE HARVEST
Lord of the harvest we come to you,
we thank you for the ripened grain
(for) the circle turning year by year.
Great provider of all humankind,
we thank you for the sun and wind,
the earth and all life-giving rain.
Surely, surely, you are good, The God of Green Hope, good to all. The Sacred Three, The Three in One.
Nature once in vernal green enrobed,
gives up its bounty, gifts for all
(and) prepares to sleep as autumn comes.
On our table you supply our bread,
We share with all, for all to be fed,
And joy in our heart at what shall be.
Surely, surely, you are good, The God of Green Hope, good to all. The Sacred Three, The Three in One.
Inspired by: Lord of the Harvest, Hymn by Joseph Anstice, 1836
To the tune of Siuil a Ruin. Link for that tune is here.
‘Green hope’ a reference to Romans 15:13, ‘The Message’, The Book.
THE STORY OF JOHN BARLEYCORN
It’s about this time of the year that many will recite, or sing the mythical song about John Barleycorn. Now, there were many variations of the song, and some have come down to us today. It’s mythical in that it’s a foundational story and was the very centre of peoples lives if we go way back.
How far back?
The first known written copy of the song appears in a manuscript penned by George Bannatyne in AD1568 (parts of the song are indented below). He was a wealthy merchant from Edinburgh and included the song of John Barleycorn in a collection of several poems, songs and other writings which he seems to have committed to paper as a simple amusement.
However there is some speculation that it was known and sung hundred of years earlier, and others think it goes way back to our civilizations’ tribal beginnings.
Why is it so profound and important?
John Barleycorn, could be seen as a symbolic figure; a poetic personification of the barley; the corn itself. Taken at this level the song describes the process of preparing the ground, sowing the seeds, watering and waiting for the crop to grow, followed by harvesting, threshing and milling. Finally, the products of brandy and bread made from barley are extolled for their virtues as staples of the diet of early agrarian peoples and upon which laborers, craftsmen and lords alike depended for their sustenance.
There were three men come out of the west,
Their fortunes for to try,
And these three men made a solemn vow,
John Barleycorn should die.
These are the first indications that the story in the song has its origins in a religious or magical ritual actually enacted in the pagan, agrarian past. If such is the case, then it would be reasonable to assume that the role of John Barleycorn would have been played out by a real person for the ritual – what we would call an enacted parable, today. And, that role-play is, indeed, acted out, today.
Did you notice that there are three men and that they come out of the west?
Why three? Why from the west?
The number three has been clearly demonstrated to have religious or magical significance in most human cultures around the planet since ancient times. The image of the Triad was adopted in later centuries by the Christian Church as a symbol of the Holy Trinity. In agrarian England – think of the triskelion or triquetra – it was originally ascribed to the worship of the Earth Goddess, who was represented in three aspects as a young maiden, a life-bearing mother, and a wise old crone.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that in the earliest Celtic writings and myths, the male heroes frequently set out in groups of three to undertake their sacred quests. It’s more than just a song – its about the cycle of life and humankind’s progress in it.
And, ‘The West’ was a euphemism for the ‘otherworld’ or ‘faerieland’ – the mystic isle across the western sea where myth and magic were commonplace, immortality could be found in the dwelling place of the gods.
Why they would come to kill him?
They let him stand till midsummer
Till he looked both pale and wan,
And little Sir John he growed a long beard
And so became a man.
They let him stand until midsummer day. He grew a beard and became a man. In the ancient pagan cultures, midsummer was the most important festival of the year, celebrated as the longest day, the victory of light before the long descent into Winter darkness.
This song is about the cycle of death and rebirth was of tremendous and practical importance to our agrarian ancestors.
John Barleycorn grows a long beard. In part, this is a simple reference to the ‘bearded barley’ which has long hair-like strands coming off the ear of corn when it is ripe for harvest.
They hired men with the scythes so sharp
To cut him off at the knee,
They rolled him and tied him by the waist,
And served him most barbarously.
They hired men with the sharp pitchforks
Who pricked him to the heart.
They wheeled him round and round the field.
When his time had come, John Barleycorn was sacrificed, his broken body was dragged through the fields to ensure future fertility.
John Barleycorn is the personification of barley, and because our ancestors life depended on it, he was the personification of life itself – life that grew from a seed, was cutdown and harvested and we benefited, died, only to return to life the following year.
YOUR INVITATION TO OUR LUGHNASADH CEREMONY FRIDAY, 31 JULY 2020 AT 8PM (UK TIME) INVITE & DETAILS OF HOW TO VIEW
If you haven’t already ‘friended’ Tadhg on his Facebook page, please see below.
Live-Streaming Video instructions: To view this inlcusive, participative, live-streaming video, you need to be a FaceBook friend of Tadhg’s as that it where the ‘broadcast’ can/will be seen. So: If you’re already a friend, or you’re been able to see many of the morning ‘Thought For The Day’ broadcasts via my Facebook site then you’re good to go.
If you’re new, not on Tadhg’s FaceBook friend’s list, or are not sure, do check here. If don’t see many previous videos there, or if you can’t gain full access to read that Facebook webpage then you’ll need to become a Facebook friend.
To become a Facebook friend: press the ‘friends’ link on Tadhg’s Facebook site – that link in the paragraph above. He will accept as soon as he can, and, when he does, please try the link again to see if you can gain full access, in readiness for the ‘broadcast’ on his FaceBook page. If you still can’t get access, or if there’s any ‘challenges’, please email him, at: email@example.com.
Here is both an account of a telling-place event that took place in London one winter’s evening, and an invitation to you to participate in a live-streaming ‘lockdown’ Telling-Place, via Facebook and the internet, wherever you are, this Friday.
It’s global, it’s free, it’s different and profound, and you’re invited, and can participate from the comfort of your own home. [Yes, the scheduled Table Talk event has been changed, but I hope you’ll find this change into a Telling Place event, beneficial, deep and something altogether different. It will be recorded.
You are still invited to gather with coffee, participate by sharing in the comments section (and those who wish, by prior arrangement can share stories as a guest ie split screen). Perhaps, in addition to gathering at home with a coffee, you might also like to dim the lights and have a candle or two (or more) ready to be lit when we all light them).
Details of the next, online Telling-Place invitation (formerly a Table Talk Event) are at the base of this article.
The ancients knew the value of story-telling when they met together at ancient Telling Places – on a dark, cold evening, a bonfire would burn in the middle of their circle at the edge of the village or in the forest. There, fragments of memory were woven together, and ‘bits’ become ‘whole’; and all added to the complete story, as stories were told.
Everyone was included – some participated by listening, others by telling a story. Slowly, fragments of memory, separate and ‘isolated’ were re-membered, joined together. The opposite of dismemberment.
But, there’s more.
Those that witnessed the Telling-Place event were ‘re-membered’, in that they too, were joined to the ancestors, those that had gone before, and if we were able to look ‘up’ the timeline we would see them joined with those yet to come. All joined together. And, you can experience the same at the next Telling-Place event.
‘You are the fairy tale told by your ancestors.’ Toba Beta
Last year at an event in London, amalgamating the ritual of forest-located former Telling-Place events, a group gathered in a building.
At one such Telling Place in a building in London, Tadhg spoke to those that had gathered there. “Tonight, is a time of listening, a time of sharing a story (whether something from your own life-story that is not too personal and which can be shared), or a story that you have heard and which means a lot to you. Stories of dark and light, stories of creation, of endings and beginnings, down and up, of people and places. Stories that cause us to think deeply. Stories and a few activities, yes a few activities that you will be invited to join in with, that make you go ‘oooh’, or ‘ahhhh’. Stories of myth, ‘magic’, and imagination.”
A short time was given over for people to amble and introduce themselves to four other people in fifteen minutes, as they tucked into some delightful food from the smorgasbord and filled their glasses with various chilled fruit juices. Everyone talked enthusiastically. A hub-bub ensued, sounding rather like the friendly drone in a bee hive.
Now back at their tables, everyone settled down.
Tadhg explained as he went along, and opened the Telling Place officially.
A candle was lit, and in doing this simple ritual, Tadhg explained that it was 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, the original, archetypal Telling Place.
Tadhg spoke these words: ‘The Wise Ones spoke of the illusion of time and space, and how we view it as linear. It is circular. They also spoke of connectedness, of the ‘Great Chain Of Being’, or of being ‘at one’ with our forebears, the Ancestors. He raised his hands, momentarily, and declared that the Ancestors were here!
The drumming stopped.
“This remembering”, Tadhg continued, “is called anamnesis: a remembering that makes the original event present to each of us. In a very real sense, ritual negates distance in time and space. It bring us, into that timeless realm of the sacred in which the time and space that separates us from the original event, the first Telling-Place, perhaps, or what separates us from the Other just disappears. Everything is concurrent.
‘We keep stories alive because to re-member is to put broken pieces back together. We keep learning from stories how to make things whole.’ Mark Nepo.
It’s not just remembering. It’s a re-experiencing and a re-connectedness to that earlier event – in this case story and the Ancestors. Anything less that that, is merely mimesis, an imitation or re-enactment. This is more. This is anamnesis.
Tadhg told a story, and after twenty minutes Tadhg 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.
Two shared stories from their own life, stories of challenging times and of overcoming. Two other shared stories, fables, that had meant a lot to them and which were well received by all. The evening continued well, with each person giving support and praise to others, as well as receiving it. It was so uplifting.
Tadhg lit another candle.
At this point he explained that, at the end of the year it was a good time to review the positive and the not-so-positive events of the year, and to deal with them. He suggested that each person takes two pieces of paper. One would, if that person so wished, would be displayed on the wall later and would contain one or two positive highlights of the year. It would be a form of written gratitude to the Source of All.
‘The imagination of early childhood has no limits. This is why children are fascinated by stories. A story has permission to go anywhere…. The child rarely experiences the story as an observer. The child enters the story, it experiences the drama from within.’ John O’Donohue
The other piece of paper, would be private, and would highlight negative points and negative thoughts and actions that had happened during the year. People wrote feverishly. A few minutes later each person put the gratitude sheet on the wall; each person took the sheet of negative thoughts and actions and, at Tadhg’s suggestion, symbolically dealt with them by placing them into the shredder machine.
Tadhg said a few words, a prayer…ensuring that that negativity was truly gone!
More stories were shared.
Tadhg lit another candle, and talked about remembering those who had gone before us – to remember them with joy. He talked about how our ancestors would have used this time to celebrate the lives of the Ancients, and because of the season, he spoke of Modranicht, called “the Night of the Mothers” or simply “Mothers’ Night”. And, because it was the end of the year, everyone had been asked to bring a copy of a photo of a relative who had passed on, that they wanted to honour, and some also shared stories of those relatives – many quite witty stories that made many smile, and all uplifting – about loved-ones that had passed-on.
Later, Tadhg lit another candle. This time, as some time had elapsed and the evening was drawing to a close, he asked each person to close their eyes, to meditate, and to use their imagination.
“Here is an imaginal ‘Encounter-Message’ exercise: If you would, imagine that this room is filled with your Higher Self, or an elemental, a goodly spirit, an emissary from the Source of All, from the Universe, an angel or fae perhaps. Don’t worry about what they look like but imagine they have a message for someone in the room – not you – but for someone else, and it’s one word, or two, but no more than three, and it’s uplifting. “
“You can imagine them speaking this to you” , Tadhg said, “or writing it down. Now, when you have it, open your eyes and write it down on a piece of paper.”
Everyone wrote something, and everyone then shared the word, two or three that they had been given, not knowing who it was for. Although Tadhg said those present that they may want to share any word heard if they felt it was relevant to themselves. Others, he said, might just quietly like to ponder upon a word heard, silently, that they felt was relevant to them. There was no pressure.
Other stories followed. After a few minutes had elapsed since the last story-sharer had finished and sat down, the Tadhg stood. The bodhrán sounded a slow drumbeat as Tadhg 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.
Tadhg said a short blessing-prayer and sat down. Slowly, ‘normal’ time and interaction resumed.
The event closed with the extinguishing of the candles.
Tadhg explained that each of us were now moving back into mundane time. He suggested we all stand, and applaud – applaud each other for making the evening such a joy, applaud the Other and Ancestors, and others for being present, and applause as a form of ‘grounding’ to ensure that we had ‘fully’ come back into ‘mechanical’ space and time.
One by one, people left. That evening tears were shed, smiles were witnessed, and many were transformed. Each had had an encounter with the Other. In the distance, as car doors opened and closed, the hushed whispers of ,‘See you at the next Telling Place’, could be heard in the still, silent frozen air of that December evening.
‘I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?’ Zhuangzi.
Your Invitation To The ‘Telling Place’ FaceBook Event (Formerly a Table Talk Event) Friday, 24 July 2020 At 8pm UK Time on Tadhg’s FaceBook Page
This will still be an inclusive event, slightly different, but hopefully as deep and profound as other events. You are still encouraged to participate as fully as you wish, make comments as we go along, and definitely come prepared with a cup of coffee. You might also like to have a candle or two (or more) and matches to hand at home to light the Telling Place Candle(s) all together when we start, to show our connectedness. You might also like to have pen and paper to hand as we’ll also do an imaginal ‘Encounter-Message’ spiritual exercise, too.
This will be an adapted Telling Place event so that you can participate via lockdown, wherever you are. Do make adjustments for the differing time zones, please. It will be recorded.
If you haven’t already ‘friended’ Tadhg on his Facebook page, please see below.
Live-Streaming Video instructions: To view this streaming video, you need to be a FaceBook friend of Tadhg’s as that it where the ‘broadcast’ can/will be seen. So: If you’re already a friend, or you’re been able to see many of the morning ‘Thought For The Day’ broadcasts via my Facebook site then you’re good to go.
If you’re new, not on Tadhg’s FaceBook friend’s list or are not sure, do check here. If don’t see many previous videos there, or if you can’t gain full access to read that Facebook webpage then you’ll need to become a Facebook friend.
To become a Facebook friend: press the ‘friends’ link on Tadhg’s Facebook site – that link above. He will accept as soon as he can, and, when he does, please try the link again to see if you can gain full access, in readiness for the ‘broadcast’. If you still can’t get access, or if there’s any ‘challenges’, please email him, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.