The Power Of Words: Liturgy & Intentionality

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.

The Salmon Of Knowledge: A Story Of Meaning

There are stories from antiquity that are still, oh so very relevant to us, and speak to us across the great distances of time. Here’s one from the time of ancient Celts and Druids, that tells of the way the Universe can benevolently ‘nudge’ circumstances in our favour, as it did for one young man.

Do bear in mind that to the ancient Celts and Druids the Hazel tree mentioned in this story was/is associated with ultimate wisdom.

The story goes, that:

…a young boy called Fionn, after his father died, was brought by his mother to a poet named Finnegas to be tutored and learn all he could, so that young Fionn could eventually join a group of well-renowned Irish warriors.

But, in order to join that mighty band of warriors, a man needed to have great wisdom and, yes, a knowledge of poetry. Finnegas the poet taught Fionn all he knew, and Fionn grew to be a fine young man.

Finnegas often talked wistfully about the myth of the salmon of knowledge. The salmon of knowledge was a fish that swam through the rivers of Ireland and nibbled at hazelnuts that dropped into the river (hence the ‘knowledge’ connection), but it was elusive, and so very difficult to catch. Anyone who caught it, however, and was first to eat that particular salmon would gain all the wisdom of the world.

Many months later as Fionn was studying, he heard Finnegas calling him frantically from outside. Running to the river, Fionn saw that the Finnegas had, indeed, caught the salmon of knowledge!

Finnegas the poet instructed the young man to cook the salmon, slowly, for him to eat later, but warned him not to taste the fish at all – Finnegas knew that this was the salmon of knowledge, and wanted that knowledge for himself, and not for the young man.

The young Fionn did as he was told and began cooking the fish over a crude fire. He watched it carefully so as not to burn it, and occasionally turned the fish, which was on a skewer, so it could be rotated and cooked evenly,

Some time later, Fionn saw that the fish was about to fall into the fire and ash. Immediately, reaching out, he grabbed the fish to push it back on the skewer, and in the process burned his thumb.

Without thinking, Fionn stuck his thumb in his mouth and sucked it to soothe the burn. Guess what? Several flakes of that salmon was ingested by Fionn.

When Finnegas the poet saw what Fionn had done, he grew very sad. Ultimate knowledge! He knew that he would never gain all the knowledge of the world that he desperately sought after, but, eventually, he grew to be happy at the thought that Fionn had gained that wisdom and he believed Fionn would be the greatest warrior the Fianna, that band of Irish warriors, had ever known.

And, indeed that was the case. Fionn grew to be leader of that mighty band of warriors, and became a great leader in Ireland.

—ooOoo—

And, that’s how Fionn obtained great nowledge, and is yet another example of how the Universe, the Great Spirit, the One Behind It All can so work things on our behalf, too. This was read at Tadhg’s Thought For The Day on Tuesday, 8 September 2020 at his live-streaming Facebook broadcast.

Ephemera: Harvest Moon: Facts & Myth (Lunation 1207)

EPHEMERA FULL MOON HARVEST MOON

The next full moon is almost upon us. And here is:

  • some facts about this full moon
  • a moon-related tale form ancient Wales

We know, scientifically, that without the moon, the Earth would be a very different place than it is today, and that it is unlikely that it would have been able to sustain life at all. Just a coincidence that we have a moon of such magnitude?

We know the Earth is is that ‘Goldilock’s Zone’, of just being the right distance from the Sun to harbour life. Too close and the surface of the Earth would ‘fry’, too far away and it would be too cold for life. Just a coincidence?

I cannot accept that it’s just a coincidence. The One Behind It All was, and still is at work, and so as you and I  see the next Full moon, let us gaze in awe and silence at the marvel, that is the Moon, and The One Behind It All, the Universe, The Source, Love, The Friend, or any other suitable Name we wish to utter.

Facts & Lunation

The next Full moon tomorrow, Monday, 3 August 2020 at 4.58pm (from a UK viewpoint for this article) in the constellation of Capricorn.

This Full moon marks the midway point of Lunation #1207. A lunation is the astronomers’ name for the lunar month (of approximately 29 1/2 days), and starts with each new moon. This system of moon counting was invented by Professor Ernest W Brown in 1933, and he started the count with lunation number 1 at the first new moon of 1923. And the count has progressed from there, so we are now at the midway point of lunation 1207. For the inquisitive amongst you that might be asking what about the counting of lunar months before 1923 from a later perspective? The answer is, astronomers give them a negative number working back from the last new moon of 1922 which would be lunation -1.

“Harvest moon: around the pond I wander and the night is gone.” Matsuo Basho (1644-1694, Japanese poet)

Infact, this Full moon may be disappointing low in the sky, and won’t drift above the horizon until about 9.15pm, reaching its highest point at around midnight. If it’s a clear night, do look to the right of the moon (and up a little) and you might be fortunate enough to see the planets Saturn and Jupiter nearby in the constellation of Sagittarius.

”But even when the moon looks like it’s waning…it’s actually never changing shape. Don’t ever forget that.”  Ai Yazawa

To some, this full moon is known as the sturgeon Moon, the Dog Days Moon, but I like to think of it as the Grain Moon or Corn, the Harvest Moon, that being so relevant to the Lughnasadh celebration yesterday or last Friday, the first harvest of the year.

Others might call it the Dispute Moon. The reason for it to be called the Dispute Moon is many and varied, and may simply be so because, as autumn and winter approaches, one’s survival centred on the good-will of others, and the upcoming months wasn’t a time when disputes should be started or continued.

There is an ancient Celtic story that Cerridwen, the Welsh muse or goddess of inspiration, mentioned in the Black Book of Carmarthen, is a personification of the Moon.

”She used to tell me that a full moon was when mysterious things happen and wishes come true.” Shannon A. Thompson

Moon Myth/Story

True, there are stories of Cerridwen in daily life, living near lake Bala (and having stayed at Bala I can highly recommend that area of Wales) and giving birth to a son and a daughter. Sadly, it is said that her son, Morfan (also called Afagddu) was ugly and so she compensated by making him wise by using magic. But, these things never run to plan.

There is also a view that, alternately, or perhaps as well as having an earthy life, Cerridwen was the Moon personified. Her name, from Welsh to English can be interpreted (depending on how you divide her name) as being ‘fair’ and ‘loved’, or ‘crooked white one’. The latter, I hold dear, as it does sum up the shape of the bright crescent moon hanging in the sky, appearing stooped or crooked. And, doesn’t the Moon inspire and invoke other-worldly wisdom? Dear Cerridwen. Dear Morfan.

Conclusion

So, if ever there was a time to celebrate, maybe with bread and something alcoholic, the full moon, in the wake of the first harvest of the year is such a time, as you gaze in awe up to out celestial companion. It’s a wonderful time to  say a word or a prayer, raise a toast or offer a libation to the One who inspires us all, or just look up in silence and ponder the Moon-maker, The One Behind It All, The inspirer.”

It is a beautiful and delightful sight to behold the body of the Moon.“ Galileo Galilei

May the blessing of the Moon-Maker shine on you and all whom you love, and make you holy. Blessings, Tadhg

 

Harvest Celebration: Lughnasadh / Lammas (Outline) & Your ‘Live-Streaming’ Invitation

30072020 HARVEST OUTLINE AND INVITATION X

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.

Here is:

  • 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: tadhgtemp@googlemail.com.

 

‘Telling Place Event’: Account & Your Invitation For Friday, 24 July, 2020

20200721 TELLING PLACE

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: tadhgtemp@googlemail.com.

 

Time And The Realm(s) Beyond: A Celtic/Druidic View Of Conflation

time a conflation

It’s January and I’m back at Capel Curig, north Wales, where my late grandmother’s cottage is situated. When I left the cottage the sun was just going down. Now it’s twilight, that ‘magical’ time when anything can happen. I’m walking deep into the forest, here.

We live in a world governed by time. To get to work, meet a family member, even to go shopping we schedule and mark such events by time, and see it as consecutive and linear. That idea seems to suit the way we perceive time for out twentieth century events. Time seems to ‘fit’ well around our human-centric activities.

A few minutes later, as I look up I see the wispy, crepuscular clouds, high above me, just losing their sunlit glow. And, then darkness closes in, fast, and the forest trees around me lose their three-dimensional setting, and ‘distance’ seems to be no more, as trees just look like dark brown paper cut-outs, ‘flat’ in the near distance.

Some may be thinking that it isn’t our activities that shape our view of time, but that time shapes us and affects us, but we’re not aware of it.

Current view: time is ever-advancing, continual and consecutive.

There was once an idea in astronomy that time continued in a straight, ever-advancing fashion until the expanding universe reached the point where it could expand no more, and then it would contract. At that moment, time itself would start to go in reverse (but anyone experiencing that reversal wouldn’t be aware of it). If that was happening now, you and I wouldn’t be aware of it. It would appear normal. Affected by ‘backward-running’ time, but unaware.

Current view: the sequence of events, linear time-wise, is necessary to tell a story or record events. Many admit that as things seems to repeat themselves that time is circular and not linear. Perhaps, it’s both. Things do seem to repeat themselves, but as the weeks and years advance, they do so with minor variations. Perhaps, it is both, and that time is, infact, the shape of a ‘slinky’ toy.

Walking on for half an hour or so I’m at an area where, as children, my friends and I played. Even now this place, Drws i fyd arall (pronounced ‘droo zi fid arrah’) as we called it provokes fond memories and a current air of mystery. Drws i fyd arall was our childhood name for two ‘fused’ and arching trees in this clearing – Drws i fyd arall means ‘door to another world’ and was so named as our childhood imaginations ran riot. Was it just our imaginations that gave these trees their name, or was it these trees and this ‘magical’ area that ‘spoke’ to us and prompted us to describe it so?

Playing as a child with my friends here, happened some fifty-five years ago, but it doesn’t seem as though time has moved on. Logical, scientifically and empirically time has moved on, though. Experientially, and now as I stand before these two trees, my feeling, my intuition tells me otherwise. I believe the ancients, those Celts, Druids, Pagans and others would have held the latter, experiential, timeless view.

The ancient Greeks had two main terms for time: chronos and kairos. To them, Chronos was quantitative, and was time that measured hours and minutes. Think, ‘tick tock’. Their other word for time, kairos. Kairos is time, but it is qualitative. Think, ‘timely opportunity’.

At Drws i fyd arall was I experiencing both chronos and kairos, but ‘majoring’ and receptive to Kairos? There is part of me that baulks at the idea of describing peak experiences in that way, especially as I’m not a dualist, but a unitive thinker, and especially as those divisions are born out of ‘scientific’ thinking without trying to perceive things from those other time-less realms.

At Drws i fyd arall those distinctions didn’t matter. Me, and you if you were here, like our Celtic, Druid, and Pagan ancestors would, I think, have been immersed in the moment – having entered sacred space/sacred time. Outside of strict definitions of chrono or Kairos.

I sat down, looking at the two trees arching over, and in the almost-complete darkness, my eyelids beginning to half-close and it seemed the darkness began to play tricks, as I saw sparks and strands of light, flashes, that appeared and disappeared. One moment, there (and perhaps in my mind’s eye) was a scene of me with my friends when we were all about six years old (including sound), then another scene appeared of me as an older teenager, and then another set of images appeared, as if in front of me, of my friends and I aged about ten (when one of them fell out of a tree). And, so it went on. Seemingly, time-disjointed events, apparently  at random.

It was a few weeks later, recounting this incident, that I realised that if the author of these images were fae, the genius loci (spirit of the place), elementals or the ancestors, then they may not teach in out twentieth century, linear, way. Why should they? They inhabit different realms, have different priorities, and perceive time in a different way.

Not all cultures in the world write from left to right, not all the books in the Hebrew part of the Book are in chronological order (but are in order of size), and some cultures never used the zero in maths or counted in base ten numerals (as some got to 8, and that was it. Our nine would be written as 11). Why then, should those we encounter from other realms not communicate and do things differently.

The three main scenes that appeared before me, upon reflection, seemed to be a group of my very young friends and I playing together, wonderfully oblivious to anything around us, but in community. The second scene showed me, alone, deep in thought and appreciating nature, and appreciating actions and consequences. The final scene was back, nearer in time to the first scene (but a few years on) and showed my friends concern (and mine) for a friends who had falled from a tree, and being concerned about him, and being concerned about the tree (though I suspect it was a concern that a branch we used to swing from was unusable now).

As an adult, if I re-arranged those scenes into chronological order then it would appear as disjointed stories, just lovely memories, and nothing more. In keeping the scenes in the way they were presented – ‘crazy timing’ from our point of view – they did, indeed, made sense, and delivered a ‘message’. Perhaps, something like this: initially we all might have be concerned about our group, ourselves or our community, and only look to our own group interests. Then we grow and look outward to the needs of others. And, third, the scene showed a ‘marrying’ together of community, outward concern and maturity, and bringing the two into harmony: perfect balance.

I left that clearing, somewhat confused then, but ‘unpacked’ the images and sequences, and they made sense – an otherworldly, ‘differently-timed’ sequence of events, but they contained a deep and profound meaning, all the more potent because I had to strip away twentieth linear-time understanding, and surrender to the moment.

Could it be, that for the author of these images, fae, the genius loci (spirit of the place), elementals or the ancestors, time is perceived, as they communicate to us, in order of importance rather than chronological order? I think so. It’s for the same reason that dreams seem odd in that they usually don’t follow  sequential time, from our point of view, but appear random – or, perhaps are cast that way so that an overall message is conveyed rather than just a memory of events, as one might see on a holiday. The latter being great memories but rarely containing a profound meaning of other-worldly important. Time, then for them, would be conflated.

Jarod Kintz wrote: I had a dream about you. We were racing to be the slowest person on earth. You were winning which meant you were losing. You were gloating because you were a winner and I was taunting because you were a loser.

It is one thing to accept this conflation of other-worldly time and see it as different to linear time, it is another thing to, sometimes, to surrender to it and experience. There are sometimes, when the encounter is so ‘abrupt’ that we’re living that ‘nowness’ of time as we experience numinous events even before our cerebral faculties are aware (and that brings us back to dream encounters, where much of our logical cerebral brain cells are ‘asleep’).

In closing, I’ve learned to accept what these peak experiences give us, in the order they produce the event, as the sequence is as important as the contents, and may indeed, contain greater truths they want to convey. Think of those movies, where, after just a few minutes into the action, a subtitle appears and says something like ‘Fifteen years earlier’. Yes, the story is important, but the sequence – even if not following chronological order – adds to the message being conveyed. What do you think?

 

Drws I Fyd Arall (Revisited) & Your Invitation To Three Live-Streaming Broadcasts

LIVE THREE

Below is an article I wrote some time ago: The Voice. Since the dawn of time humankind has heard that inner voice. Many tribes of old, the Ancients, Druids, Celts,  and Ancient texts  all testify to the Voice in the desert or wilderness places, or atop high mountains. The Voice I wrote about spoke of a ritual. And so, ritual features in one of the live streaming videos to be broadcast this week. But, there’s more…

Three Facebook Live Streaming Video Events: And You’re Invited:
– Monday, 8 June 2020: The Alphabet Of Ritual
– Wednesday, 10 June 2020: Things That Go Bump In The Night: Energy, Elementals & More
– Friday, 12 June 2020: Tadhg’s Table Talk

All events take place at 8pm (UK Time). Monday & Wednesday events are seminar-style so do have pen and paper to hand. They will last about 50 minutes. Time for comments and questions, too. Friday is like the after-dinner experience of a chat with friends over coffee and will probably last about 90 minutes, so do have a cup of coffee ready. It’s participatory! It’s free! It’s inclusive! All welcome.

Important: To view and/or participate in any of these live streaming events you will need to be a FaceBook friend. If you’re not, or are not sure, please see ‘To View….’ at the end of this article. The broadcasts will be recorded.

Article: Drws I Fyd Arall (Revisited): The Voice
One night, several years ago, I woke up from a shallow sleep and went for a walk to this place, and this is what I wrote:

A warm feeling enveloped me. Palpable. And not only an external feeling, but internal too, pervading my whole being. And then, as has happened albeit infrequently in this place in the past, I heard the Voice once again. Some will say that it’s only imagination, but I can only say, to me, it was and is, more, oh much more. From an interrupted, shallow sleep I awoke early, and walked into the night, as if called by a Voice deep within. An elemental? An ancestor? My imagination? The Bat kohl?

The air was cold and damp,
the darkness seemed to envelope me,
the trees ‘closed in’, and all was quiet.

Nothing stirred.
Nothing at all.
And with some trepidation,
into a forest clearing I slowly strode.

A fallen tree provided a seat,
and I sat, and waited.

The air felt ‘electric’ as though something would happen,
like a ‘silent storm’ approaching.

And I waited. And shivered.
Waited. And got damp.
Waited.

And then from within, or without,
almost undetectable, a quiet, loving, voice was heard.
The Voice.

Slowly, unhurriedly, powerfully, the Voice said:
“As above, so below,
there are things you should know.”

“Human words are powerful, they are a door,
your actions are effective, they are pure metaphor.”

“And so I speak of humanity’s cosmic task,
To be revealed, evidenced, enjoyed, without any mask.”

“And so, don’t just sit, but take heed and do,
these are worded-actions-prayers for many, and for you.”

“And so, again I say, as above, so below,
remember these things; they are things you should know.”

“Through prayer, does that which is unseen, unmanifest,
reveal itself and take form in the blessed.”

“And so, I mention,
with your hands at your side, walk humbly,
take seven half-steps forward, its a journey of intention.”

“And now, raise your hands in simple ‘surrender’,
and point both to Heaven, that domain of awesome splendour.”

“Widen your arms, and so scoop, and harvest
pure energy, pure ‘gold’, and be prepared to be feel blessed.”

“Draw in that power, by folding your arms like an ‘x’ on your chest,
and feel its benefits, its warmth; you’re at peace, at one, ‘at home’, at rest.”

“Then stretch forth your arms, and mould with your hands
as if a ball, that ‘globe-like’ power-blessing from the ouranic meadowlands.”

“With one foot leading, and with knees part bent,
sway back and forth, in preparation for that ‘goodness’ to be sent.”

“In your mind, name the loved-one, the recipient, the friend,
and in your heart, see them, imagine them, to that end.”

“‘Push’ with your hands, that power-blessing from you to them,
and sigh the sound of the ages, the ‘so be it’, the ‘amen’.”

“And then, your hands drop to your side,
power has gone out; but there is no lack,
for the power-blessing that went forth, also comes back,
in another way and at another time, and so you, too, are blessed.”

Having done everything as directed,
I stood there in awe.
The air was cold and yet I felt warm,
the night so dark but in my mind’s eye it seemed to glow.

The Voice had gone.
The Voice? An angel? The Deity? The Awen?
You decide.

I do believe The Voice speaks wisdom to us all. I don’t think we need to go to special places – though sometimes that seems to be something that we, as humans, need to do that to prompt us, to jog our memories or put us in the right frame of mind of openness. But, I do believe The Voice speaks still, perhaps in the city. Can you hear it?

The idea of ritual will be one of our evening broadcasts this week by Tadhg.

To view…
To view any of the three live streaming videos, you need to be a friend of mine on Facebook. So, first:  If you’ve been able to see my morning ‘Thought For The Day’ broadcasts via Facebook then you’re good to go.

If you’re new, not a current FaceBook friend do check here. If don’t see previous videos there or if you can’t gain full access to that webpage then you’ll need to become a Facebook friend

To become a Facebook friend: press the ‘friends’ link on my Facebook site, I’ll accept as soon as I can, and then do try the link above again to see if you can gain access, in readiness for the ‘broadcast’. If you still can’t get access, or if there’s any ‘challenges’, please email me, at: tadhgtemp@googlemail.com.

 

 

June’s Full Moon & Your Full Moon Ceremony Invitation: Friday, 5 June 2020 At 8pm (UK Time)

MOON 2

Tomorrow (Friday) evening sees the June full moon in all its glory. Yes, it’s time to celebrate again. Below is an outline of the details of this moon – what sort of moon is it? A wolf moon? Wine moon? And you’ll find some astronomical data. But, you’ll also find your personal invitation to join in our second Full Moon Celebration online.

Full moon data &
Your personal Full Moon Celebration invitation. It’s live!
See below. Yes, you’re invited!

The next full moon is almost upon us. There is something mystical, ‘magical’ and calming about the full moon as it brightens and glides higher into the sky. No wonder the ancients paid particular attention to the Moon and each month it ushered in.

Full Moon Data
This full moon will be in its fullness on Friday, 5 June 2020,  just after 8pm (UK time) in the constellation of Scorpio. At that time it will be below the horizon (from a UK aspect) but IT will climb higher as the night goes on. It will be just above the horizon at 9.15pm and, in the southern sky in the northern hemisphere, it may be viewable to many nearer midnight or later.

Some will know this full moon as the Strawberry moon, to me and the ancient and latter-day Celts and Druids it is the Moon of Horses; to Wiccans many call is the Dyad Moon; and the Chinese people call it the Lotus Moon. In the southern hemisphere where the seasons are switched this full moon is known by some as the Oak Moon, the Cold Moon, or the Long Night’s Moon.

But, whatever name you call it, the full moon is a time for celebration: perhaps by walking in the light of the full moon (and have you ever seen your moon-shadow?) and pondering its awesomeness, raising a glass of wine to its glory, meditating on the Moon-Giver, or reciting liturgy or a poem in its honour and to honour the One Behind It All?

Ofcourse, all that can be done after our live celebration – after all, the moon won’t be visible until nearer midnight.

The ancients loved their stories (and perhaps we still do, but do so by+ going to the cinema, watching a movie on tv), and here’s a mythical and magical story from ancient times, though not notably Celtic or Druid in essence but still entertaining and through-provoking, about the moon.

There is a very interesting Chinese myth about this woman who was said to live on the moon. There are several variations of the myth but the essential story is that she and her husband were once immortal beings but were made mortal because of their extremely bad behaviour.

They attempted to regain immortality through the use of an immortality pill to raise them back to lofty heights, but Chang’e became greedy and took too much of  it, and ended up floating high into the sky and on onward  to the moon where she remained stuck forever. Perhaps, it is Chang’e’s face that looks down upon us?

She is the subject of much Chinese poetry and is one of the central reasons for celebration each Autumn during the Chinese Moon Festival. And, Chang’e was the name of the lunar probe sent to the far side of the moon by China about sixteen months ago.

Your personal Full Moon Celebration invitation. It’s live!
Yes, we’re about to hold out second, online, live, Full Moon Ceremony online, and you’re invited, and at home during lockdown you can participate and join in the liturgy, or just let it ‘sink’ deep, either ‘live’ or as a recording.

Live Full Moon Ceremony ‘Broadcast’ via FaceBook
Friday, 5 June 2020 at 8pm (UK Time)
Join us! 

So, first: To see  the broadcast and join in you need to be a FaceBook friend of mine. If you’ve been able to see my morning ‘Thought For The Day’ broadcasts via FaceBook then you’re good to go.

If you’re new, not a current FaceBook friend do check here. If don’t see previous videos there  or if you can’t gain full access to that webpage then you’ll need to become a  FaceBook friend: press the ‘friends’ link on my Facebook site, I’ll accept as soon as I can, and then do try the link above again to see if you can gain access, in readiness for the ‘broadcast’. If you still can’t get access, or if there’s any ‘challenges’, please email me, at: tadhgtemp@googlemail.com.

Second: You can watch the broadcast and take it ‘in’ as a form of meditation, and that would be good. But, to fully participate, why not go to last month’s article and download or print out the liturgy so you can follow, and recite parts in response, and fully participate. The Full Moon Ceremony liturgy can be found here.

So, I hope to ‘see’ you at our second Full Moon Ceremony. Come and participate! Some new material and music added!

Meanwhile, wishing you and yours the blessings of the Moon-Giver at the time, Tadhg

 

The Story Of The Blackthorn Tree: A Lesson In Respecting Nature

BLACKTHORN TREE

The grandfather clock ticked loudly in the hallway, and every quarter of an hour there would be a loud thud, and a few seconds later it would chime. The kitchen, a place chosen by my grandmother in all the cottage, was  where she spent most of her time, in her rocking chair, near an open hearth – it’s what country folk in this rugged part of north Wales did.

Now, This is some years back, and I was probably just wee lad of about five years of age.

A storm was raging outside – valley weather can change suddenly and be most severe, and being a young boy I couldn’t help but look out at the window. Rain lashed against the window panes, wind blew the trees about outside, especially the large one at the end of my grandmother’s garden, and thunder and lighting raged across the sky, intermittently. But, I was fairly warm and comfortable – as snug as a bug in a rug.

‘What type of tree is that, at the end of your garden?’, I asked my grandmother, still looking intently out of the window.

‘If you come here’, she said, ‘I’ll tell you, and I’ll tell you a little story about it, too’, she replied. My grandmother was a prolific story-teller, a seanchai, and everyone in the family loved her deep and profound stories.

I could never resist a good story, either, and still can’t, and so I stopped peering out of the window, ambled to the foot of her rocking chair, and sat on the floor – the floor consisted of paving stones in the kitchen, but warmed by the heat from the open fire. I was even more comfortably warm, in complete contrast to the coolness near the window and the storm outside.

She said, ‘In nature, everything is in equilibrium, in balance. Sometimes the weather is sunny and dry; sometimes it is cold and thundery, like now. Everything balances out.

In nature everything should be respected, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because life on this planet depends on it, even you and I. And that tree, the one you asked about, is a noble blackthorn tree.

Now the blackthorn tree is a canny tree. It produces lovely flowers and awesome berries, that I sometimes boil, but it demands respect, and you never want to touch it carelessly. It has two inch long spikey protrusions on it, like needles. Some of the farmers here use them as cattle-proof hedges.’

She moved her head closer to me, momentarily, and in a hushed voice, asked, ‘Would you like to know a secret story about the blackthorn tree’. She knew I couldn’t resist a good story, and so I nodded eagerly, and as the hallway clock juddered and chimed once more, she continued.

‘There was once a farmer, who really didn’t care about the land he farmed. He was just in it for the money, and he was never satisfied. He was always looking for ways to get more and more out of the land, to get richer and richer. He noticed that in the middle of his field stood a lonely, but very large blackthorn tree. It had been there since before he was born. It was a noble, majestic specimen, and a very fine and proud tree, too.

The locals used to believe that the Lunantisidhe, moon-fae, used to live in blackthorn trees or used to live nearby them and looked after them. They are good creatures, but it would never do to upset them. Also, some people believe that the Cailleach, that old crone that you’ve probably heard outside on occasions, carries a staff made of a blackthorn branch. – and with it she can summon up a storm. Perhaps , like the one outside?’.

I quickly looked toward the widow and back. It’s true I had heard the Cailleach several times, but also remembered that my grandmother always said that there was nothing to fear from her, if you gave her due respect.

My grandmother continued, ‘That money-mad farmer was insistent that that blackthorn tree had to be felled, and that would give him more land to farm, more crops, and more money. He asked for help, but not one of the locals would help him chop the tree down. They knew the farmer didn’t really respect the land, was besotted with money, and they knew the myth of the blackthorn tree and the very protective Lunantisidhe, or moon-fae.

The farmer grew angry with them, and the next morning, as the sun came up, he took an axe to the tree. It took him hours and hours, and as his axe cut into the tree, so it looked like blood was coming out of the blackthorn tree. Certainly, the farmer’s arm was bloodied, as some of the long thorns from the tree scratched and dug into his arm.

Once the tree was felled, the greedy farmer stood back, sweating and with sore, aching muscles cursed the tree for the work it had caused him.

He turned around. His jaw dropped and his heart raced. His farm house was ablaze. And being made of wood and with a thatched roof there was no way of saving it. His house was completely destroyed. And, as the timber burnt and cracked, and crackled, and flames leapt into the air, in the breeze whispers could be heard to those that had ears to hear. It was the angry voices of the Lunantisidhe who had sought revenge, by balancing nature. The tree had lost its life at the hands of the greedy farmer; the farmer had lost his home. All because he did not respect nature, the blackthorn tree or the Lunantsidhe.’

She finished the story, and I couldn’t resist going back to the window, to gaze outside at that storm and that noble blackthorn tree standing at the end of her garden. If I listened hard enough would I hear the Lunantisidhe?

Now, I’m much older. But, in that story of myth and magic, and told many years ago, is there a moral there for us as individuals and as a society when it comes to appreciating and protecting nature?

 

Fear Knocked At The Door [Cosmic Thoughts At Sainsbury’s]

FEAR KNOCKED AT THE DOOR

And so, I extinguished the single candle, symbolically showing that the ceremony was over. As I sat there, imaginally coming out of that sacred time-space into the mundane (if there is such a distinction) I clapped my hands. The latter, is grounding, and a good way to physically declare that ‘normality’ has been achieved.

Having tidied up, I picked up the shopping list and headed towards the door.

We are ‘amphibians’, of sorts. We live in the world of the physical universe where it’s necessary to be aware of time, to buy food and eat it, and yet we commune with the Beyond. Probably not at the same time, usually, but in one sense that demarcation is artificial and an illusion, and those who are aware of that joining of ‘the two rivers’ are best placed to experience liminality, a ‘thin place’, a peak experience, and go deeper.

’She was half human….half universe’ (A R Lucas)

But, we are ‘amphibians’ moving through two realms. Sainsbury, however, in these days of the coronavirus, was an experience that ‘brought me down to earth’. The long aisle which usually houses a glorious mix of vegetables on either side of the aisle, empty. Completely empty. I turned the corner, and entered the aisle where fridges on either side would normally house meat. Empty. Completely empty.

Some people ambled around with a single shopping basket, others meandered with those huge shopping trolleys full and overflowing with toilet paper, pasta, and bottled water. And not just one or a few of each products, but dozens!

’It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair …’ (Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens)

Shopping at Sainsbury’s was an experience. Some people were even tempered and moderate in their buying prowess. Others seemed to exude fear and panic. Electric tension filled the air.  They had that grim look of determination on their faces that declared that all should move out of their way as they charged towards the checkout with more than enough. Ofcourse, ordinarily, that wouldn’t have mattered, but these are extraordinary times. Their shopping trolley abundance meant that, perhaps, others with their shopping basket would go without.

As a species have the ability to dance with the gods, and yet some still persist in picking up the jaw bone of an animal to slay their neighbour, metaphorically. Now, I know people are frightened, scared of what might happen, but we have a choice.

Fear or hope? We need to choose well.

There is a story, a fable purportedly that comes from one of the American First National people. ‘One day a small child ambled towards their grandfather, and said, ‘Why is it that it feels like there are two dogs fighting within me, grandfather?’.

‘Indeed’, he said, ‘there are two dogs fighting within every person. One dog is crafty, wicked, greedy and violent. He looks out only for himself. The other dog looks out for all people. And, he is honest and kind, full of grace and generous. But, they fight.’.

‘So, grandfather,’ the small child said now rather worried, ‘which one wins?’

The small child’s grandfather replied, ‘Ah, whichever one you feed!’

We’re living through tough times at the moment, and we have a choice. It’s easy to be nice and loving, to declare our spirituality or religiosity to others when the going is good. But, the real test of our faith, our spirituality and love for humanity is how we react when the going is tough. It doesn’t matter how many Bible verses we’ve memorised or whether we can recount major parts of the work of Talisin, whether we wear a fish badge or the hammer of Thor if we don’t have a spirituality that is deeper than that, that looks at fear and replaces it with hope, and acts in a way that shows love to others whatever happens.

‘Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there’. (English proverb)

This article is an encouragement to you and myself not to give in to any fear we may experience – and we may, but to rise above it and to consider others as much as ourselves. We have a choice. Choose well.

These times are ‘…a test of our solidarity, our common sense and our love for each other’. (Angela Merkel).

It is difficult for each one of us, but it is the Golden Rule, and it’s logical, and it works, and it’s great to do and receive; that is to ;treat others as you would want them to treat you’.

And, so having bought a bottle of bleach (you can never have too much bleach), a jar of Marmite (you either love it or hate it), and having bought half a dozen small beers (someone said beer was a sign that God loved us), I headed towards the self checkout area, scanned the products, knowing that the green, amber and red lights on the pole would blink red. A sign for one of the shop assistants to come over, put a code in the machine to show I was of an age to buy alcohol. And, it blinked furiously.

She saw the red, blinking light. A stony-faced woman (the kind you would never play power with), tired and fed up, headed towards my direction. It had obviously been a tough day for her. She had probably had to deal with a myriad of impatient, complaining customers arguing over the last toilet roll in this massive supermarket.

‘It’s blinking red because I’ve bought alcohol’, I said. As she came closer I pulled out my driving licence and waved it in her direction, theatrically, and said, ‘Here’s my age ID’. She looked at my driving licence, looked at me – seeing me as a youthful sixty-five year old face – and laughed. I laughed too. Her stony-face and the angst of many angry customers simply melted from her face, disappeared into the Universe, and she cheered up. ‘I appreciate what you do,’ I said. She responded with a pleasing, ‘Thank you, that means so much to me’.

I am just like you, knowing that we often undervalue people who do the toughest of jobs. But, your mission and mine, should you and I choose to do it, is to treat others the way you would like them to treat you, tomorrow.

In AD 1416 at about the age of seventy-three Julian of Norwich passed on. She had spent most of her life as a deeply spiritual woman, wrote some great words and spoke out, about hope, in an age when institutions around her were negative, blaming the poor, and a plague killed millions of people in Europe. Like a beacon of hope in a dark, fearful, seemingly hopeless world, she reached out, bucked the trend, got into an awful lot of trouble for speaking the truth, and her words are as important today to us as they were then.

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

These are tough times. Don’t feed the fears, please. It’s going to get better. We can do it. It’s not easy. We have a choice. We can do it – tomorrow is yet another opportunity to brighten someone’s day and be a beacon of hope and love. And, I believe that what we give out, comes back to us a thousand times bigger. So, get ready for a huge blessing.