Gŵyl Awst (Harvest): Meaning, Celebration Ideas, Hymn And More!

20180723 GWYL AWST HARVEST MEANING IDEAS HYMN AND FULL MOON ECLIPSE

Harvest is almost upon us. Others, ancients, Celtics, Druids and early Christians, and latter-day ones know this event by a number of names, such as Lammas Lughnasadh, or Gŵyl Awst (as it is known in Wales). The latter being my preferred choice.

It’s a wonderful time to take stock at what has happened this year, to reflect and to give thanks, to learn, even through the tough times. It’s a time to give gratitude to the Source of All.

Lammas, or whatever name your prefer, is observed on 1st August, usually.

The word Lammas comes from the Anglo-Saxon hlaf-mas, meaning “loaf-mass”, and is the festival of the wheat harvest. If you think it’s far too early to think about harvest in the northern hemisphere, don’t worry. This is the first harvest harvest of the year. There’s another harvest celebration later on, at the time of the Autumn Equinox.

You might want to celebrate this festival on Wednesday 1st August, then; or you might like to delay it until the following Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

My grandmother, a great one for making home-made food would, especially at this time, make bara brith – Welsh for ‘speckled bread’. It’s similar to the Irish loaf, barmbrack, which is also delicious.

Oh, bara brith was my favourite type of bread as a child. It’s a cross between bread and cake! The smell of baking bread over the hearth in her north Wales county cottage was heavenly, so inviting, and so scrumptious. I can still remember the smell of that baked bread wafting up my nostrils, and my stomach rumbling in anticipation.

Alternatively you could celebrate Lammas a little early, say, on Friday, 27th July or that weekend – bearing in mind there’s also a full moon on Friday, 27th July, and more

But, there’s more. Yes, there’s a full moon coming up and it’s a total eclipse of the moon. All happening on 27 July 2018. It’s also known as a blood moon as total lunar eclipses – the Earth coming between the Sun and the Moon, makes the moon ‘glow’ with a dull red colour. It will be visible from the UK from moonrise at around 9pm. At different times it will be viewable from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and most of south America, but not the USA or Canada, so I’m told. From a UK persepctive lunar totality will start at 9.21pm and finish at 10.13pm.

So, a great reason to celebrate Lammas, Harvest, Lughnasadh, or Gŵyl Awst, at the same time as the full moon eclipse, unless you really like ritual and want to keep them separate.

As a child, I knew I was in for a treat. There was, and is, nothing quite like freshly-baked bread, baked in the hearth, and served, still piping-hot, and covered in lashings and lashings of real butter. I can remember butter running down my chin as I ate a huge chunk of fresh bread.

Wonderful.

Abundance.

Blessed.

And so, this Lammastide, as it has been since I was a child, I’ll be baking several bara brith, and sharing one – yes, the breaking of bread with family and friends – in a simple, ‘after meal’ remembrance ‘feast’, remembering all the good things that have happened this year. Giving thanks, in silence and humility, to the Source of All for the harvest, for life itself.

We are blessed, my grandmother used to say, when we share bread.

Ofcourse, you might like to just gaze at the moon this harvest time, walk in its light, or wait until 1st August to do that. Whatever you do, I would encourage you to celebrate Lammas, Harvest, Lughnasadh, or Gŵyl Awst.

Part of your celebration could be baking, or buying a nice loaf of bread from your local supermarket – from the bakery section – and inviting a friend or family member over, or by giving them a loaf, or by donating a small amount of money to a food agency for those with insufficient food, as an act of gratitude for a good year and as action to assist others.

We must give more in order to get more. It is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest. Orison Swett Marden

Or, you might like to leave some food out (appropriate food for wildlife, ensuring that food left wont cause harm to wildlife) or pour out a small libation as a ‘thanks offering’ to That Which Is Bigger Than Us. Some friends pour out a small ‘tot’ of whisky or vodka or water at such times – a ‘giving back to the Earth’ which is full of meaning.

And, don’t forget to include in your gratitude those whose work brought food to your table: farmers, fisherman, factory processing people, drivers, store staff etc. A positive thought, prayer, light directed to them, I’m sure, would be appreciated.

You might like to recite a poem to celebrate this harvest time or recite some form of liturgy to make the time special of thankfulness. Or, perhaps reflect and meditate and give thanks at home, or during a night (or moon-lit) walk, or liturgically.

‘Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. ‘Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.” Exodus 23:16, The Book

I love singing and yet find a paucity of songs that reflect my Celtic upbringing and nature-loving viewpoint. And, so you might consider using the following song or hymn written by me last year:

HYMN FOR 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 ancient Celtic folk tune of Siuil a Ruin (see below)

‘Green hope’ a Romans 15:13, ‘The Message’, The Book, reference.

To get an idea of how the words above fit the Gaelic, traditional folk tune Siuil a Ruin, please click the link here. That recording plays a little preamble introduction and then after about 16 seconds two verses are played of that folk song, followed by a chorus, and the tune exactly fits the first two verses and chorus of the words above. Simple! I hope. Any queries, please contact me (and yes, I might even sing it for you).

‘The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest;. William Blake

Whatever you do, I wish you and yours light and love as Gŵyl Awst approaches. Many blessings, Tadhg.

 

A Hymn For Alban Hefin [Summer Solstice]: Revisited

20180530 A HYMN FOR ALBAN HEFIN REVISITEDThe Summer Solstice, known to the Druids of old in the Welsh language as ‘Alban Hefin’ (which means ‘the light of the shore’) is a few weeks away.

The words, based on ancient words, below, can be read as poetry or liturgy at the time of the solstice, or indeed, at any time. They can also be used as a song, which works well to the tune of ‘She moved through the fair’, a wonderful, otherworldly Gaelic, Celtic tune of old.

So, happy Alban Hefin to you and yours, and here is ‘A Hymn For Alban Hefin’ (albeit written by me last year and now repeated for this season).

Great Light above.
All hail the sun
from whom all life proceeds,
Oh Glorious One.
Unending, unbroken
you traverse the sky.
Turning night to day.
With joy we cry.

Unresting, unheeding
in beauty you shine.
Full of health and vigour
poured out like new wine.
For all humankind
your riches bestow
from heaven above
to the Earth below.

All life you create
in the circle of love.
And we celebrate
your end-less gifts.
Laud and honour
for-ever be,
to you Bless-ed One,
For-ever Three.

Great Light above.
All hail the sun
from whom all life proceeds,
Oh Glorious One.
Unending, unbroken
you traverse the sky.
Turning night to day.
With joy we cry.

Tune: ‘She moved through the fair’. For an instrumental version of that song, to familiarise yourself with the tune and to ‘fit’ the words above, do click on the following link. The first fifty-five seconds of the recording gives an outline tune to verse one and subsequent verses. [Tune link].

Words inspired by: Light’s Abode, Celestial Salem, attributed to Thomas á Kempis

 

 

Preparations For Winter Solstice 2017: Song: The Circle Is Turning

201711212 PREP FOR WINTER SOLSCTICE SONG THE CIRCLE IS TURNINGYes, it’s nearly that time again, the time of the winter solstice (for those in the northern hemisphere). Winter solstice takes place on Thursday, 21 December, this year (2017) – it’s the longest night, the shortest day: sunrise is at 8.04am,  which is all important for those wishing to celebrate this wonderful midwinter event.

‘Light can only be understood with the wisdom of darkness.’  Ka Chinery

In Wales it is known by its Druidic name, ‘Alban Arthan’, which is Welsh for ‘Light of Winter’. And so it is time of merriment around the camp or village fire for Celts, Druids, Welsh folk ancient and modern, a time to light candles in the darkest of times, and a time to acknowledge that deep in the earth the seeds of hope are becoming active, and that Light and spring are on their way. It is seen as a time of rebirth and renewal.

How will you celebrate the winter solstice?

Today, and over the next couple of days I’ll suggest a few ideas that you might like to consider for yourself if you will be celebrating alone, for your friends or family, of faith-group.

Kazran Sardick: ‘On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact mid-point, everybody stops and turns and hugs. As if to say, “Well done. Well done, everyone! We’re halfway out of the dark’. Dr Who,  A Christmas Carol

The following song is one you might like consider (a song, or maybe as poetry/liturgy). The words are contemporary,, that I penned last year for this time, but the tune is an old gaelic tune, known as of Fear a Bhata.

The tune fits the following song words well, and the tune is full of depth and pathos. You might like to listen to the tune and read through the words a few times before singing – but do have a go. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Our intentionality and ‘offering’ is what is important, as is to enjoy the experience in celebrating Light in the depth of darkness.

‘The light shines in the darkness… John 1:5a, The Book

The tune can be heard  here. The words ‘fit’ the tune (with a bit of manoeuvring) and starts at 11 seconds into the video).

But, here’s the words to the poem/liturgy/song:

The Circle is turning,
we celebrate winter.
The Circle is turning,
we celebrate winter.
The Circle is turning,
we celebrate 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,
we celebrate winter.
The Circle is turning,
we celebrate winter.
The Circle is turning,
we celebrate winter.
And nature sleeps, as the darkness falls.

There will be more ideas tomorrow. Meanwhile, blessings to you and yours, Tadhg

Hymn For Alban Hefin [Summer Solstice 2017]

20170621 ALBAN HEFIN 1111The Summer Solstice, known to the Druids of old in the Welsh language as ‘Alban Hefin’ (which means ‘the light of the shore’) is almost upon us.

And to celebrate Alban Hefin, this Wednesday, 21 June 2017 at 5.24pm (UK time), I’ve written a poem, and have set it to music –  using a well-known and (personally) much-loved, delightful old Gaelic tune called ‘She moved through the fair’ – and so as well as a poem, it’s also a hymn for Celtic Christians, Druidic-Christians, Druids and others who might like to use it at the upcoming wonderful event of Alban Hefin.

The words are below, and so, at this stage it’s a poem or liturgy. But, I might find a way and be ‘brave’ enough to record it and sing it ready for tomorrow’s post. Meanwhile, the tune (though the unknown-to-me musician/singer breaks into singing at one point – singing the original song – can be found at here to give you an idea of the tune. )

So, happy Alban Hefin to you and yours, and here is ‘A Hymn For Alban Hefin 2017’

Great Light above.
All hail the sun
from whom all life proceeds,
Oh Glorious One.
Unending, unbroken
you traverse the sky.
Turning night to day.
With joy we cry.

Unresting, unheeding
in beauty you shine.
Full of health and vigour
poured out like new wine.
For all humankind
your riches bestow
from heaven above
to the Earth below.

All life you create
in the circle of love.
And we celebrate
your end-less gifts.
Laud and honour
for-ever be,
to you Bless-ed One,
For-ever Three.

Great Light above.
All hail the sun
from whom all life proceeds,
Oh Glorious One.
Unending, unbroken
you traverse the sky.
Turning night to day.
With joy we cry.

Tune: She moved through the fair
Words inspired by: Light’s Abode, Celestial Salem, attributed to Thomas á Kempis

Essential Celt: A Song/Poem For Samhain [‘The Circle Is Turning’]

161009-song-for-samhain-standard-poetry-liturgy

The Earth continues to move around the sun in it’s great circle, its orbit. The circle is turning.

Soon, with Samhain (pronounced like ‘sowin’ (with ‘ow’ like in ‘glow’*)) on 31 October/1 November – the Celtic new year – we will be leaving autumn and entering the season of winter. Winter, being that time when we look northward on the compass point, and reflect upon the earth, its blessing to us, it’s store. It’s a time when we brace ourselves for shorter days and longer nights, colder temperatures and harsher conditions, and maybe, even snow.

The circle is turning.

It is a time when trees are bare and the soil is naked. A time when little or nothing grows. A time of nature’s sleep. And yet, underground, in the womb of the earth, unseen, seeds slumber, and the hope of spring is contained therein.

Winter is a’coming, and the following poem heralds its approach.

The words below, a poem or liturgy for a Samhain ceremony, to celebrate the movement into winter, can be read or verbalised, but also sung to the tune ‘Fear a’ Bhàta’.

This wonderful traditional song, ‘Fear a’ Bhàta’ (pronounced ‘fair-ah vart-a’, and is translated as ‘The boatman)’, is a Scots Gaelic song from the late 18th century, and is sung by a woman who captures in the lament the emotions of a courtship now ended. Another understanding of the song is that is sung from the viewpoint of a fisherman’s wife waiting on the quayside, anxious for her husband’s fishing boat, long overdue, to return. She fears the worst. It is a song of sorrow, and yet expectation, and hope for the future.

The circle is turning.

The tune is a great one for the moving into winter. It is full of depth and pathos – click here for the tune – and the following poem ‘fits’ the tune (with a bit of manoeuvring). The poem/song:

– oOo –

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.

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.

– oOo –

If you listen to the tune and the abovementioned words don’t seem to ‘fit’, please email me.  I’ll then attempt to sing it, record it, and send a very simple acapella version of it to you – please request by email to me at: tadhg@tadhg.cymru

(I will gladly oblige, if you’re going to use it at Samhain or thereabouts, but please email only if necessary, to spare my blushes, as my singing isn’t that good).

(Note: * Their are several ways to pronounce Samhain. I’ve used the one I’m most familiar with).