A Great Cloud Of Witnesses: Celtic Thought

20170811 GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSESAs you may know, I’ve spent the last few days in in a beautiful, secluded, thick, old, ‘magical’ forest to ‘re-charge my batteries’, and be ‘primal’. Without creature comforts, no tv, no mobile phone, no internet. And it worked. Batteries ‘re-charged’. And, I’m back.

A lot has happened over the last few months and I needed this break.

There were a jumble of reasons for the need of a break of some kind, and sitting on a log, now, in this secluded forest, overlooking a wonderfully still lake I realise the benefits to me of taking this ‘time out’ in a rural area.

In the tranquillity of these surroundings thoughts pour out in an unstructured way, and I’m content with that. It needs to happen.

Thoughts flooded my mind. I had thoughts of being absent from my Dad. My Mum passed-on about three and a half years ago, my Dad about four and a half months ago. I miss them. I have fond memories of them both, and now the grief at my Dad’s passing-on is changing, like my Mum’s did.

Could it be that the greater the love for someone, the greater the grief at their passing-on. And even if so, this wonderful, new-to-me, strange and unfamiliar place is helping me.

In ancient Roman ‘theology’ they would say that each area, such as this one, has its own genii loci – its own ‘spirits of the place’. To ancient and latter-day Celts, Druids and others we might talk of the elementals and dryads that inhabit each area, and in modern parlance some might talk of the ‘feel of a place’, though I suspect ‘modern’ people are interacting with the spirits of the place without knowing, and yet lack the ability and language to be fully aware or describe it. This place is different, but just as welcoming as any rural, natural wilderness. There is a peace here.

‘…there is still a beauty in grief. Your grief shows that you have risked opening up your life and [gave]…your heart to someone’. John O’Donohue

It’s starting to rain now. Could they be tears? There’s part of me that reckons this may be so, but there’s a deeper feeling, a ‘voice’ deeper inside, deeper ‘out there’, that subtly hints that the rain is a ‘washing away’ of the old, and a ‘cleaning’ in preparation for the new, for the next stage. I remain on that log. Expectantly. And soaked.

Grief changes, and our memories of loved-one may never fade (I hope not), but how we consider them, daily, does change. In this ‘Eden’ of a forest something is changing in me. No longer do I just look back to my parents’ form of bodies, for that for me, would now be to ‘entomb’ them in the past and be backward-looking, and ‘restrictive’. Something has changed. I’m content.

‘Now you glimpse the possibilities of being with them in a new way. If you loosen the sad grip of grief, a new belonging becomes possible between you…the belonging between us and our loved ones in the unseen world. It is a subtle and invisible belonging…’. John O’Donohue.

Birds are still singing high in the trees, and though the light rain is making ripples, occasionally on the lake, fish can be seen coming close to the shore and gobbling food. The clouds are high and sparse, and so the rain is more of a drizzle. There is mist ‘rolling’ slowly down nearby mountains. It is bliss. I’m happy.

Everything seems so right. I look around and there is a natural balance to everything, a harmony, that everything is as it should be. A calmness pervades everything here, including me. For now, we only see in part.

‘Depth is height.’ Meister Eckhart.

The thought comes to me, that it is time to view my ‘loss’ in a different way and if I were to remain at the stage it would be as if I were held back. It’s now time for me to move on. Not to forget, but to remember and to do so with deep gratitude, but in a new(er) way. Now, it is time to realise that my, indeed, our loved ones live on – just as real and energetic as they did before when in physical-body form, but now in an unseen and subtle realm (from our point of view, at present), and just as close to us as ever. Perhaps, more so.

‘From their side, our friends in the unseen world are always secretly embracing us in their new and bright belonging’. John ODonohue.

It’s stopped raining, but I am joyfully soaked. A jumble of thoughts still flood my mind, but that’s all right. I find myself laughing – not a hearty laugh, but not a keep-it-to-myself laugh, after all there’s no one around. No one, except nature and elementals, dryads, companions, and angels maybe. Who knows? And that’s the overriding thought as I get up off this log, and as cold, wet clothes now brush against parts of my body as I walk – not entirely clothes-comfortable – but it makes me laugh even more. Oh, the overriding thought….is that there’s more. That’s my favourite Welsh phrase that I quote and which has been quoted to me in sacred places, in liminal encounters, and in ‘thin places’.

There is more! Mae mwy (pronounced ‘may mee-oh) as it is in Welsh. And there is more. There is more to our surroundings than we have so far imagined if we have eyes to see. More to life. And, for those who have loved-ones who have passed-on there is more, for them, for you, for me, and not only by way of fond memories, but the fact that they are still with us, loving us, encouraging us, embracing us in real, but albeit subtle ways.

‘…we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,..’ Hebrews 12:1b, The Book

I rose up, walked back to the small cottage I was staying in, soggy but joyful, cold but content, missing my parents, yes, but ‘energised’ by the fact that they live on – as do all of those that we have said ‘goodbye’ to as they enter Bliss, that which some call the Summerland, and still others call it Jannah. In the Welsh language it is called Caer Wydyr (the glass fortress). Life goes on there, and the ancestors are not far from any us.

Take heart. Blessings to you and yours, here and there, Tadhg

(Many thanks for your prayers, well-wishes and energy sent during my break. Greatly appreciated and felt).

Celtic Thought: Befeathered Friends at 4am [Tadhg’s Journal]

20170531 BEFEATHERED FRIENDS AT 4AMThis morning, at some unbelievably early hour I was awakened by birdsong. Left to my own devices I would have curled up and gone back to sleep, but I couldn’t. Not only was the birdsong so loud, but it had an altogether other-worldly rhythm that, in some strange and positive way ‘enticingly disturbed’ my sleep.

Invitational.

Listening to it for some time, I slowly rolled out of bed, grabbed the dressing gown and ambled downstairs. As I approached the backdoor the birdsong grew louder. Opening the door and being ‘hit’ by early Capel Curig morning cold air, I stepped onto the lawn – no shoes, so it was a ‘very awakening’ experience.

‘Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches.’ Psalm 104:12, The Book

The birdsong, at least those nearby ‘dawn choristers’, stopped abruptly. I had been spied.

I waited.

They waited.

I waited a little longer.

They waited even more.

As I  sat on a garden chair, slowly, and one by one birds started to sing again. And, before long, a number of them were in full flow, and I was enveloped in a complex melody of pure, unadulterated birdsong that ebbed and flowed. And, it was wonderful.

Included.

I’ve often written about our separation from nature, and that’s true in one sense. Humanity, oftentimes acts as though it has a second planet in reserve,. But, in this sense, as I sat on that garden chair, that separation is only we think and so act out, but it is that, only.  We think we’re separate, and so we miss out because, actually, we’re not separate…we just think we are.

Erroneous thinking.

I do believe that if we slow down, and stop sometimes; if we ‘hear’ the invitation of all that is around us, we will know that we are part of all that is. As I heard the birdsong this morning I could only but listen in awe. Not as a passive bystander, but as someone now included in this avian symphony of nature.

Union.

As I sat there, I remembered some words of the late Gerald G May, a fellow cancer sufferer (though he, sadly, succumbed, and I survived by the grace of That Which Is Larger Than Us). In the wilderness, whilst at the beginning of his ailments, at dusk he found himself surrounded by cicadas in the bushes. Unseen, but not unheard.

‘I notice that the drone [of the cicadas] is not a steady sound at all. It reveals an underlying rhythm, and the rhythm also is a composite, an intricate summation of cadences. One cicada’s rhythm joins that of another to generate a third conjoint beat, so that two insects create at least three rhythms…

Sensing the rhythms within the drone, I begin to beat the drum with them. I try to pick out a cadence and follow it, but it feels too complex; I cannot tell one pulsation from another for more than a few moments. Then, in the way I have learned to receive gifts, I quit trying. Relaxing, I just beat the drum, allowing my own rhythm to emerge and find its place in the overall sound. Then a wonder: I sense a change in the cicada song, a subtle shift that seems to be a response to my joining them…as if each insect in its buzzing has adjusted itself a tiny bit to create a space for me, for my sound.

I am lost now, lost into the firelight’s flickering on the tree leaves, warmth mingling with cool night star sparkles, all into the cicada song; I have been shown the way into the joining. I have been guided in a harmony path, to a oneness within which I am, once again, freshly and absolutely alive’. Gerald G May ‘Wisdom Of The Wilderness’.

Could it be that in our perceived separation from nature, we’re missing the point? Could it be that in believing we’re some ‘distance’ from nature that we’re really the ones separating ourselves from all that is holy? Could it not be the case that we are part of nature, we are not separated, and not at some ‘distance’ from it, but included! We’re there…but we just don’t know that we’re there!

‘We need a powerful new story that we are a part of nature and not separate from it. We need a story that properly situates humans in the world — neither above it by virtue of our superior intellect, nor dwarfed by the universe into cosmic insignificance. We are equal partners with all that exists, co-creators with trees and galaxies and the microorganisms in our own gut, in a materially and spiritually evolving universe. This was the breath-taking vision of the late Father Thomas Berry.’

Realisation.

I have to confess that I sat there at 4am this morning, with the ambient temperature somewhat lower than I would have liked (especially for the way I dressed),  I didn’t care. I didn’t want extraneous or complaining thoughts to come between me and this embrace by nature. It was a time just to enjoy it, revel in it, marvel at it, and gaze at the marvel that is nature.

And, nature gazed back.

‘The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.’ Meister Eckhart

As I write this I’m toying with the idea of setting the alarm clock for 4am for tomorrow, to ensure that I put myself in the way of another nature-encounter.

Celtic Thought: Life Is Like…

20170413 LIFE IS LIKE...CELTIC THOUGHTAt the far end of my cottage’s garden in Capel Curig (in north Wales) is a rivulet. Hidden by trees and gorse bushes, it rushes by the northern boundary, invisible to all, except to me and a few locals. It’s so small – you can leap over it – it has no name, except for the one I gave it. To me, this ‘watery companion’ is: Bach ac yn gyflym. Welsh geographical place-names are very descriptive, and it seemed right to call this rivulet by this name. It means ‘small and fast’.

Here’s a few thoughts as I watched Bach ac yn gyflym flow by, and as (for some) we are nearing the end of a specially remembered week that culminated in dramatic events, that many take to heart.

Metaphorically, life is like a stream, perhaps something like Bach ac yn gyflym. I was going to write about encouraging you to step into that Life-stream, but I do believe we are all in it, already.

“You wander from room to room hunting for the diamond necklace that is already around your neck!” Rumi

This stream isn’t just life events as we experience them with all their surprises, twists and turns; it is that, but it is also more. There is more! Mae myw! It is Life, the Life-Giver itself (and apologies for that impersonal pronoun when Life itself is anything but impersonal, but Life is also beyond ‘he’ or ‘she’, and yet encapsulates both/all).

This Life-stream embraces us as we live life, and my encouragement then to myself and others, bearing in mind we are all already in that flow, is to encourage each of us to have an awareness and/or remembrance of being part of it.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Revelation 22:1 The Book

As I sit and watch Bach ac yn gyflym flow by I witness leaves and debris float by. Some of it swirls into little eddies caused by indentations in the river bank, and stay there for a while. Out of the main flow of the stream, they may look or ‘feel’ safer and linger for a while, but the power they experienced just seconds before is diminished. And then, maybe unexpected to them, but not to me as an observer, the current catches them and off they go at great speed to their destination.

Maybe, we too, can feel safe or get comfortable, or maybe too safe and too comfortable, and object to the buffeting of life. In being too cosy, like those leaves in that riverbank indentation we can feel safe, but lose access to power and energy. Even in that ‘safe’ position we are still in the Life-stream, but maybe unaware. Even in that ‘safe’ position we have access to that power and energy. But, we don’t use it….after all, we’re (momentarily) unaware of it.

“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.”  Rainer Maria Rilke

Being aware of our status (we’re all in that Life-stream) and aware of the power and energy (and that it is available to us), will, I think, put life events into perspective. There is no ‘maybe’ with a river, no need to barter, no worry of it stopping, no concern about where it is going or its destination. It flows. It knows. It is.

It’s flowing now, carrying us in an amazing ever-changing movement in that Divine, energetic dance, and if we’re quiet we might just ‘hear it’ and experience its all-embracing love. And then, the next step is to revel in that Life-flow wherever we are or whatever our circumstances might be, to enjoy its energy for good (purposes), and to pass (recognition of) it on to others. What do you think?

“I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.” John O’Donohue

 

Ephemera: The Celtic Month Of The Willow Tree [15 April-12 May]

20170414 CELTIC MONTH OF THE WILLOW TREE EPHEMERAFriday, 14 April is the last day of the Celtic month of the Alder Tree, and 15 April sees the start of the new month of the Willow Tree (though some like to start that day, in common with ancient cultures, at sunset on the evening of 14 April).

Essential Data
Month: Willow Tree
Dates: 15 April – 12 May
Common Name: Willow
Celic /Gaelic Name: Shellach
Scientific Name: Salix

The Gaelic words for willow are shellach, or suil, and its name features in Scottish place names such as Achnashellach in Ross-shire, Glensuileag in Inverness-shire and Corrieshalloch on Speyside. It is also called sallow (from Old English sealh, related to the Latin word “Salix“; Willow).

‘Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.’ Bruce

About The Tree
Willows, also called sallows, and osiers, and come from the genus Salix. Willows have abundant watery bark sap, and soft, usually pliant, tough wood, with slender branches, The roots are remarkable for their toughness, size, and tenacity to life.

The leaves are typically elongated, but may also be round to oval, frequently with serrated edges. Most species are deciduous or semi-evergreen.

Willows are dioecious, that is they have male and female flowers which appear as catkins on separate plants; the catkins are produced early in the spring, and often before the leaves.

Willows are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, such as the mourning cloak butterfly, and ants, such as wood ants, and it is common to find aphids coming to collect honeydew, as sometimes do wasps.

Willow is used to make charcoal (for drawing), willow stems are used to weave baskets and three-dimensional sculptures, such as animals and figures and are also used to create garden features. Willow is grown for biomass or biofuel, in energy forestry systems, and large-scale projects to support willow as an energy crop are already at commercial scale in Sweden.

Willow is one of the ‘Four Species’ used ritually during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. In Buddhism, a willow branch is one of the chief attributes of Kwan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion. And, Christian churches in north-western Europe, Ukraine and Bulgaria often used willow branches as a substitute for palms in the ceremonies on Palm Sunday.

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there we hung up our lyres. Psalm 137:1-2, The Book

Folklore
Because many willows grow close to water, legends, magic and folklore associated with the willow tree include many references to water. The moon, too, is often linked to the willow tree. Indeed, Culpeper says in his Complete Herbal book says, ‘The moon owns the willow’.

Hecate, for instance, the powerful Greek deity was goddess of the moon and of willow. Associated with water, her priestesses used willow in their water divination.

The willow muse, called Heliconian was sacred to poets, and the Greek poet Orpheus also carried willow branches (wands?) into the Underworld, having received his gift by touching the Willows in a grove sacred to Persephone.

Willow groves have been used by many types of artisans to gain eloquence, inspiration, skills and the gift of prophecy.

There is a wonderful creation myth in Druidic mysteries. Two red snake eggs were hidden within the willow tree, and it was from these eggs that the Universe was hatched. One egg contained the Sun, the other the Earth.

Also, Hildegard, the Christian mystic spoke of creation and the universe as an egg, when she recounted her third vision, and wrote: ‘After this I saw a vast instrument, round and shadowed, in the shape of an egg, small at the top, large in the middle and narrowed at the bottom; outside it, surrounding its circumference, there was bright fire…’

Traditionally, in spring rituals, these red eggs were replaced by hens’ eggs, coloured scarlet for the Sun and eaten at Beltane. This act transferred later to the Christian celebration of Easter.

Interestingly, Greek Orthodox Christians, even today, dye hens eggs red on Holy Thursday to symbolise the Christ’s blood poured out to death on Good Friday, and that egg also symbolises the new life of Easter Sunday. There is also a game called tsougrisma and played in Greece, today, in which two people take one red egg each in their hand, and alternately try to break their opponent’s egg – the winner being the one whose egg doesn’t crack first.

All around my hat I will wear the green willow.
All around my hat for a twelve-month and a day.
And if anyone should ask me the reason why I’m wearing it
It’s all for my true love who’s far, far away.

Steeleye Span

Healing
The cunning folk used the willow tree, extensively, for healing. It is said (and, please do not try the aforementioned) that they made an infusion from the bitter bark of the willow tree as a remedy for colds, fevers, and to treat inflammatory conditions such as rheumatism. They also chewed young willow twigs to relieve pain.

In the early nineteenth century modern science isolated the active ingredient responsible, salicylic acid, and from this the world’s first synthetic drug, acetylasylic acid, was developed and marketed as Aspirin.

Celebration
The willow is known by some for its wisdom-instilling and creativity-giving properties, and so, whatever you do to welcome in the new month, perhaps you could light a candle and meditate for a while and seek a creativity-boost, and/or read a few apt poems about the willow tree or trees in general, or visit an art gallery in person or online, for inspiration. Awen.

Wishing you, and those whom you love, a very blessed new month.

Tadhg’s Journal: Dayenu. For Now!

20170407 FOR NOW DAYENU TADHGS JOURNALSome of you will know that my dear, 91yo Dad, Robert – a brave, loving, clever, gentle giant of a man – passed on last Monday evening.

Caer Wydyr

As you can imagine emotions seem to be a roller-coaster ride for me and close family. In all of this I want to thank my friends here, Celts, Christian, Druid, Pagan and others – too numerous to mention – for your kind words, thoughts, energy-sending, prayers, ritual, caim-casting etc, and for those that sat with me in the silence. It means a lot.

My heart is filled with gratitude for all those well-wishers.

It is all too easy to rush through life’s ‘judders’, upsets, disappointments and traumas, as if to try to escape them, or at least speed them up to return to normality, whatever that is. I’ve realised that ‘going through it’ is necessary, and though I don’t want to prolong the pain and heartache, neither do I want to artificially steer a course through it to quell the pain. The journey is necessary.

The journey, at this time, (just) is.

It has its own time. I’m learning something each day. It will end. But, perhaps, not just yet. Life is a mystery, and sometimes there are no easy answers. It’s then that I take comfort, and have done so, in those who send words of comfort, who verbally and in word form via FaceBook or email  sit with me, metaphorically or in actuality, for a while.

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvellous
to be understood…

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have all the answers.

Let me keep company, always, with those who say
‘Look!’ and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

Mary Oliver

The ancients had a word, hupomone, which means to ‘stay with whatever is happening’, and that is what I am doing. Not speeding through this part of the journey, nor purposely slowing it down. Just staying with it.

‘…the call is not to run away when things become challenging. Stability demands that we stay with difficult experiences and stay present to the discomfort they create in us’.

Christine Valters Paintner

In some instances, like the current event it is impossible to run away from it. But, even so, I get though each day, I grow, somethings are shaken loose, I enjoy good company, I am lifted up by others, I realise more of what it essential in life and what isn’t, I move through this experience slowly, thoughtfully, and not alone.

Dayenu.

Today, was but one day on this journey. Tomorrow, another. The Unseen Guide guides, consoles, empowers me (and you) one day at a time, and visits us in the myriad of people and events that we encounter each day. One day…it is enough.

 

Tadhg’s Journal: ‘And Nothing Happens…?’

20170110-nothing-happens-journalExcerpt from Tadhg’s Journal: Have you ever had one of those days when expectations ran high? Where your heart beat faster, when there seemed to be ‘electric’ in the air, like an approaching storm, and you felt sure something significant was about to happen? But, nothing happened!

Yesterday (again), for me, was just such a day.

On the surface, as regards any significant event…zero, zip, zilch, nada, nothing!

But, at the end of the day when the noise of life lessened, and the ‘monkey mind’ wasn’t quite so active, deep inside there seemed to stir a quiet voice saying otherwise, an intuition that suggested that significant events had indeed happened, but that I (or you) were not aware of them, or perhaps had misinterpreted them. Maybe, passing them off as trivial?

There is another way of perceiving life. The ancients, the Celts, the Druids of old, and many today know there is more to life than meets the eye, and that we can, sadly, sometimes be caught up in the busyness of modern life that we miss it, as our appreciation of life becomes…superficial, shallow, surface-level, so fast. But, and here’s one of my favourite Welsh phrases, mae mwy – there is more.

That quiet voice of positivity that whispers to us, is the voice of the bat kol (literally, ‘the daughter’s voice’, the voice of the Divine) that we all have access to, and which (or should that be ‘who’) constantly speaks to us. It is the voice of the Friend, but a voice that we seldom heed.

I’m reminded of the following poem by Juan Ramón Jiménez:

I have a feeling that my boat
has struck, down there in the depths,
against a great thing.

And nothing happens! Nothing… Silence… Waves…

Nothing happens? Or has everything happened,
and are we standing now, quietly, in the new life?

Significant things, then, are happening to us everyday, sometimes revealing themselves as large and significant, sometimes disguised as ‘small’ events that we might be tempted to overlook. Sometimes they appear to be very mundane (whatever that means), but they do happen. Please don’t overlook them.

Maybe the first birdsong we heard of the day was a ‘call’ just for us to draw aside, rest and relax, and appreciate nature? Perhaps, that baby’s smile ‘tugged’ a deep memory within us that reminded us of how loved we are? Or, was that argument we witnessed on the city bus between a couple, a reminder to you of the fragility of human relationships, and an encouragement to contact a family member or friend that evening?

These are events with cosmic consequences. They are ‘whispering sages’ from whom we can learn, if we but pause, heed the event and seek to be aware of its meaning and significance in our daily lives.

It is written in ancient sacred text: Do not neglect the day of small things.

Every event in our life is significant, because there is no such thing as an insignificant person, and the Divine is constantly communicating in our thoughts, through word and through actions.

You and I are standing in that new life;  and yesterday, significant things actually did happen to us. And, today…….?

Celtic Thought: Lessons In [Over]Thinking.

20170109-lessons-in-over-thinking-111

Did you ever see the movie, ‘Bruce Almighty’? It’s the one where Bruce Nolan played by Jim Carrey, is a television field reporter at his wits end. Life just doesn’t seem fair.

At one point, in the movie, Bruce is driving along asking God for a sign. As he drives he passes a road side indicator panel – the kind that warn of impending road works –  showing the words ‘Caution Ahead’. He doesn’t notice it.

A truck loaded with road signs (of the kind: yield, stop, slow down etc) pulls out in front of him causing him to mutter and swerve, and he’s oblivious to it. He asked for a sign, got it, and didn’t recognise it for what it was.

‘I had a dream that I was awake, and I woke up to find myself asleep.’ Stan Laurel

I’m one week into the new year, as are you, but I’m feeling a bit like Bruce Nolan. Expectant, but there’s a nagging feeling that maybe I’m ‘asleep’?

It all started a few days ago. I like good music, and do appreciate a good choreographed choir. I say that with some trepidation, because I wouldn’t win any votes on Britain’s Got Talent for my singing. So, a few days ago – oh, I do hope they invite me back – I was at a place (and that’s as precise a description as I’m going to give), where the congregation, many of whom are dear, sweet friends, just could not sing. I wept. Not because they couldn’t sing, but because it moved me. They had a joy, a love and a ‘holy innocence’ that reached down into my core and caught me up with their offering to the Source of all. A magnificent inclusion that was overwhelming. A ‘thin place’ event. And it was enough. I realised afterwards that I could have ‘switched off’ completely, and been critical, and missed something oh-so-special at that service.

Can we be so critical, that we miss being moved by the little things in life?

‘My friends are the beings through whom God loves me.’ Mark Nepo

And then, a couple of days ago, at my ever-so-humble, north Wales cottage, Tŷ Gwin, I had one of those wake-up-in-the-early-hours-of-the-morning events. It’s at times like that, that to get back to sleep, I like to go for a walk in the nearby forest – suitably dressed, ofccourse, and regardless of the time. As a Celt, a Christian and a Druid, I love nature, the wilderness, the barren places where ritual and/or meditation can take place, and where you can hear the Source of All. But, that night is was raining. Normally, that wouldn’t stop me, but I could hear the rain in torrents hitting the windows as it was caught by gusts of wind, it was even colder-than-cold outside, and if I’m honest there was a little bit of ‘stay-indoors-and-keep cosy’-ness that enveloped me, and forced me to remain within the cottage. What could I do?

So, unusually for me, I stayed put, and put the radio on for a while, instead. As I sat on the sofa in a semi-comatose state – well, drifting in an out of a day-dream state – I could hear the radio’s music in the background. Okay, I admit I am not a fan of Cyndi Lauper, but the song’s refrain continued to vie for my attention. I tried to resist, I really did. But, in the end I had to climb that metaphoric ‘staircase’ out of the day-dream state to listen more so. ‘If you’re lost you can look and you will find me, time after time; If you fall I will catch you, I will be waiting, time after time’.

Could it be that the Source of All uses any means he/she wants to get our attention, and to get the message across, even to the point of using Magic Radio? (105.4 FM in the UK for those interested, and also available on DAB radio). It’s an interesting thought.

‘…but [the Source of All] will rejoice over you with singing.’ Zephaniah 3:17b, The Book

And now as I write this, I’m wondering whether I should continue or whether it just sounds plain odd, daft, as soppy as a box of frogs? But, if you’re reading this then you’ll know the choice I’ve made.

Ofcourse, in concluding this, and mentioning two examples of something that I could have missed but didn’t, it begs the question: If the Source of All communicates with us, and I do believe that is the case, then ‘What have I…..umm, what have we missed, say, even in the last few days?’

This shouldn’t make us downcast, nor neurotic, but should gently, hopefully, tease an answer to that question, and positively spur us on to be alert to what Mark Nepo calls those ‘quiet teachers’ that speak to us all, all the time.

‘Often we find it easier to think our way around things rather than to feel our way through them.’ Mark Nepo

 

Tadhg’s Journal: Christmas Shopping, Me, Mike Tyson, And Meditation.

161214-christmas-shopping-journal

Journal: Over the last few days I’ve discovered several things: I am really a mystery shopper, and Christmas shopping is a wrestling-match or boxing-match with the god of commercialism, and I realise, even more so for me now, the deep benefits of meditation.

How did this happen?

I bought something from eBay and it didn’t arrive, even though delivery was expected exactly seven days earlier. I complained. If you know me, I’m not the complaining sort. I’m quite Buddhist in my approach to life, infact….but I mean, I waited a week beyond the delivery due date! I emailed the company and said they scored one out of ten in my books (and I think that’s quite generous, as I hadn’t received the goods) and they said they’ll send the order again as they didn’t want it to affect their rating. I replied and said I’d be happier if they sent a duplicate order to keep me, the customer, happy, rather than only worry about their rating. The finer point that I was making was, I think, somehow lost. Afterwards, meditation  helped me. I’m calm.

The Master said, ‘If your conduct is determined solely by considerations of profit you will arouse great resentment.’ Confucius

I need hearing aids. I know people look at me at say, ‘Surely, you don’t need hearing aids at your age, aged 25’. That was Brit humour there. But, if I don’t have hearing aids I’d never be able to understand what’s going on when I watch the X-Files on tv. More Brit humour. Nor, would I be able to understand the machinations of UK central government policy and statements these days without my hearing aids. Umm, on that occasion I was being serious, sadly.

And, so I bought a set of hearing aids about five weeks ago – if anyone is interested, they were twice as expensive as Theresa May’s leather trousers! Very expensive! Now, one hearing aids went ‘kaput’. They promised to fix it within a week, and so I waited an extra week…but, nothing. So, I phoned them today and explained it was now two weeks after the event, and they said the audiologist was busy, but would ‘phone back. He didn’t. I phoned again, and was told the same thing. I confess, I increased my voice, but only by one decibel, to infer dissatisfaction, and said, ‘We’re all busy, and I paid a quadrillion pounds for these hearing aids’. Okay, that was hyperbole on my part. The audiologist eventually ‘phoned back. Afterwards, meditation  helped me. I’m calm.

‘To live fully, we must learn to use things and love people, and not love things and use people.’ John Powell

Serious point: And, now I know why some people are upset. True, we don’t know the difficult life circumstances they’ve been through or are going through, but neither do we know the trouble they’ve had in doing their Christmas shopping this year – it does seem more problematic than last year don’t you think? Everyone seems eager to sell, but maybe not-so-hot on delivery and after-sales service. Meditation  helped me. I’m calm.

But, please have pity on grumpy people this Christmas. Have pity on me if you see me – I might have had the (Christmas) commercial equivalent of three rounds with Mike Tyson! Meditation  helped me. I’m calm.

‘Meditation is a way for nourishing and blossoming the divinity within you.’ Amit Ray

I know you can’t rest, and need to know the conclusion of the two accounts, above. Yes, after waiting an extra week and complaining via eBay, and the company emailing me back, the item was delivered an hour later! And, after waiting an extra week, the audiologist said it had been awaiting collection in the store for a week, and apologised that no one had contacted me, as promised. Meditation, then  helped me a lot today. I’m calm. How are you faring?

 

Celtic Thought: The Answer To Life, The Universe, And Everything Is….36

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There is a story from ancient times, that is still occasionally told, that when the universe was first created some fourteen billion years ago, the Creator left little bits of it in a less than finished state so that humans could finish the job, and so be involved in the artistic act of creation or re-creation, as co-creators.

Another story says that the Creator made everything some time ago, and it was good, and gave the original two gardeners charge of it, but it all went a bit askew when their focus was diverted elsewhere, and they needed to labour to restore it, after that.

In both cases, the early inhabitants and their descendants, that’s us, were given charge of it, and some essential work ensued.

And, then – you know I love my stories – there’s a story that follows, later on, a sort of celestial nudge of a story, that says some people were selected to intercede on behalf of others, or indeed on behalf of the universe itself. Chosen ones. I like that. A sort of superhero coterie before the word or even the idea of superheroes was ‘invented’ by DC Comics or Marvel.

‘You have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.’ J. R. R. Tolkien

Now, this is where it gets even more interesting, even more bizarre, and even more relevant and personal to you and I, and bizarre (and, yes, I know I’ve used that word twice, but I did so for effect, as it really does get bizarre). It gets weird!
You see, you could be one of these chosen ones.

Gasps from around the world, I hear. But, if this story is true, then you could be one of this select group of people.

And their responsibility is? It is said that the whole of creation would be folded up, that it would end, the apocalypse would happen, if it were not for the presence of these thirty-six chosen, or deemed-righteous, people on the Earth at any one time.

To add to this, there is yet another ancient story of a ‘tribal Father’ visiting an ancient city (or was it two) who was informed that the cities would be razed to the ground. Bargaining takes place. Mankind’s representative pleads that if there are fifty righteous people in the city that it would not be destroyed. The Creator accepts that. If you know the story, then Abraham being concerned that there may not be fifty righteous people in the city, seeks to lower the ‘insurance policy’ number to forty-five and the Creator agrees to ‘save’ the city for the sake of forty five. Abraham continue to bargain, obviously knowing that composition of the city’s unrighteous-righteous ratio, and lowers the amount. Eventually, mankind’s representative asks that the city be left alone if ten righteous people could be found. Well, the story ends with destruction.

But, the idea of a certain number of righteous people having an effect on other people, cities, the cosmos in a positive way was established, was set in stone (metaphorically, at this point. The ‘stone work’ actually comes later, with Moses!).

So, back to the Tzadikim Nistarim. Oh, did I mention that exactly who this group are, is a secret?

This group of people go by a number of names. But, the two collective names I like are: the Tzadikim Nistarim (that is, the ‘hidden righteous ones’) or the Lamed Vav Tzadikim (that is, the ‘thirty-six righteous ones’). And, their ‘descendants’ are alive, even today, so it is said.

Some of them may have mundane jobs (whatever mundane means), some may be in high office, or indeed, some maybe working in a local corner-shop in downtown [enter here the name of your village, town, borough etc], and still others may be working away leading some kind of Celtic, and/or Christian, and/or Druidic ritual. Yes, and those of many other faiths (or none) may be one of these ‘hidden’ people.

‘There is no mundane dimension really, if you have the eyes to see it, it is all transcendental.’ Terence McKenna

And, that means that you, regardless of your age, background, education etc, regardless of anything that others (or yourself) say that might disqualify you, yes, you may be one of these people, as you serve others, lead others, or look for work, as you battle an ailment, feel like crap (am I allowed to use that word?), or as you go about your daily routine. Your presence may be having an effect. Actually, I’d say it ‘is’ having an effect, nevertheless – such is the calling that you have been called to.

Are you one of the Tzadikim Nistarim?

If you are, carry on doing all the good things that you do – however ‘high or low’ (whatever that means) others view it. If you’re a shop worker  in the high street, strive to be a good one, the fate of the universe depends on it. If you lead people in any way, be a good leader, as the cosmos is looking on in hope. And, if you’re a…. well, whatever you do (and for me, that includes ritual – I really do love ritual, ceremony, liturgy etc, and I hope you do that, too), do it with relish. It is making a difference in smalls ways and large, and perhaps we won’t know until we ‘get there’ what difference we’ve made in the life of others and, indeed, in the universe.

‘In 900 years of time and space, I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important.’ Doctor Who

So, are you one of the Tzadikim Nistarim? I think you – yes you, as you read this – could be one of them, in which case I am pleased to know you. However, before you answer yes or no, there is one piece of information that I haven’t yet revealed, and will now do so.

The Tzadikim Nistarim are the hidden righteous ones, the emphasis here is on the word hidden. It was their name signifies! No one knows who the Tzadikim Nistarim are, and so they exist without fear or favour, without the light of publicity on them, and they are somewhat shy and tireless workers (in whatever field or task they’ve been called to). Hidden!

So, are you one of the Tzadikim Nistarim?

No one knows exactly who these thirty-six people are. They are the ‘hidden’ ones. No one knows who they are, not even the Tzadikim Nistarim themselves!

‘Each of us has a unique part to play in the healing of the world.’ Marianne Williamson

 

Celtic Mythological Beasts: Bestiary: ‘L Is For  The Llamhigyn Y Dwr’, Or, ‘Don’t Go Out After Dark’

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Bestiary: ‘L Is For  The Llamhigyn Y Dwr: ‘It’s December, and Welsh lakes are getting colder than ever. That which lives at the bottom of the biggest lakes, stirs. Stirs, and is very hungry…’. So, started one of the stories that my grandmother would tell me when I was a child.  The story of the  Llamhigyn Y Dwr.

My grandmother would then proceed to tell me the blood-curdling story of the Llamhigyn Y Dwr (pronounced hlam-ig-in ee door], which means, ‘Water Leaper’. It was a great story that used to make me smile, as I had heard it many times before, and also scare me. As a child I loved that. Doubly so, because within a few hundred yards of my grandmother’s cottage was a large lake. Could it be home to a Llamhigyn Y Dwr? I never went too close to that lake after dusk, alone, as  child.

Anyone who walks past a Welsh lake, had better watch for ripples on the lake’s surface, or listen for any sounds of wings being flapped in the air above. It could be the Llamhigyn Y Dwr, especially if the sun has gone down.

Want to know what this mythological creature looks like? Ofcourse, you do.

The story is myth. But, myth here may mean unreal, but it could also mean a founding story, a momentous story – the latter meaning is the more academic understanding of the word ‘myth’, and if so, then, perhaps, the Llamhigyn Y Dwr may, indeed, live in our physical plane. You have to decide.

The Llamhigyn Y Dwr, however, is a most fearsome creature.

It is said to have a body resembling a frog, but has bat-like wings, and a long, tapering tail. But, don’t think of a cute little frog that could fit in the palm of one hand, nor a huge toad that might be able to fit into a shoebox! No, the Llamhigyn Y Dwr stands over seven feet tall, and with it’s tail it measures  fifteen feet long. It also has a rather nasty ‘stinger’ on the end of its tail. And it’s wings? It’s wingspan is over twenty feet. When it’s hungry, it is said to eat insects and birds, and the occasional sheep using its formidably powerful jaws, and sometimes, just sometimes, it is said to attack people.

water_leaperIt is ‘at home’ in the water, and is a good swimmer After all is part frog. But, with elements of  bat incorporated into its physiology, it is also adept at flying extremely well. Fortunately, it is not too good at scrambling along on land.

As a child I had witnessed the occasional savaged sheep, and put that down to fox attacks. My grandmother suggested a different cause. I loved the not knowing.

As children we would talk about a local lake fisherman, Bryn Allgone. We used to tell each other how he went fishing after dusk – oh didn’t he know the Llamhigyn Y Dwr feed at sundown and throughout the night? As children we embellished the story, as if to outdo each other in our story-telling skills, and to scare ourselves even more. We loved that.

Bryn, we said, had mysteriously disappeared one night when lake-fishing, and no adults now talk about the fateful event. Ofcourse, it’s a story we used to re-tell as children, and when adults dismissed the story as nonsense, that would only confirm to us  that the story was, indeed, true, but that the adults were too scared to ponder such a bad end for Bryn, or  that they were  protecting us children from such a nasty story. It only helped to perpetuate our own child-like horror story about poor Bryn.

‘And, what was left of Bryn, after the Llamhigyn Y Dwr attacked and ate Him?’, we would ask each other. ‘Nothing’, was the well-used reply that was shouted back’. And, then after a pause we’d exclaim, ‘After all, he was Allgone!’. Oh, how we laughed. Now you know the sort of child I was, and the friends that I associated with. Oh, wonderful times.

But now? There are some who say that the Celts, those Druids of old could talk the language of the Llamhigyn Y Dwr and placate it. There are none alive who speak its language, and so it vents it anger.

And so, it’s a brave person that fishes alone at some of Wales’ largest lakes, after dark. ‘The Llamhigyn Y Dwr is stirring. It’s December. It’s hungry….’

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