Ogham Alphabets And More: Saille Or Willow

Here is some information for the Saille or Willow, the Ogham details for the alphabet, it’s full moon name, and the willows spirituality and mythology – as there was about the Fearn/Alder in last week. So, here’s more about the Saille or Willow.

Ogham Details:

  • Name as the Saille or Willow.
  • Alphabet for our S
  • Ogham as four ‘staves’ to the right (see below)

I sat beneath a willow tree,

Where water falls and calls;

While fancies upon fancies solaced me,

Some true, and some were false.

Who set their heart upon a hope

That never comes to pass,

Droop in the end like fading heliotrope

The sun’s wan looking-glass.

(Poem part: In The Willow Shade by Christina Rossetti)

The Saille or Willow month or moon is: 15 April – 12 May:

As well as the month or moon for ancient tribes eg it’s the Poeny moon by many Chinese people, the growing moon by many Celtics, or the next Saille moon or Willow moon (on 26 April in 2021).

Medicine

In Willow Flower Essence, part of Bach Remedies is used as a remedy for floor people with bitterness and resentment; for people who are stuck in a position of blaming others etc.

Spirituality & Mythologies

Druids associated the tree with courage, strength and the evolving spirit, and it is also linked with death and resurrection.

A circlet can be woven of Willow to wear during any of the spring celebrations and Lunar rituals. Fresh flowers, or silk if you prefer, can be inserted in this crown, ribbons be woven throughout the circlet.

In some Druid stories, it is said, the universe and all mankind was hatched from two scarlet eggs hidden within the willow tree. One egg formed the sun and the other the Earth.

In Hebrew culture the willow tree is associated with the Feast of the Tabernacles. There shelters were built using the branches of the willow, a tradition which still followed in Jerusalem today, mainly.

The tree details:

The Willow is a aromatic tree and is often found most near lakes, pond and other waterways throughout temperate areas.

The bark is of the willow is grey, rough, and with furrowed into narrow ridges. Twigs are yellow to brown, and are flexible and droopy. It’s flowers are in the forms of catkins, and are about 1 to 2 inches in length, and with yellow, hairy scales at the end of short. Catkins appear in early spring. The fruit matures in late spring to early summer.

Conclusion

Here is for the previous Fearn or Aldrer, and it’s Ogham details for you: https://tadhgtalks.me/2021/04/14/ogham-alphabets-and-more-fearn-alder/

Many blessings, Tadhg.

Six Miles Away: Herne The Hunter And Elen Of The Ways

For a new weeks (more) I’m living near the Great Windsor Park,  and it is just some 6 miles away. It is full of deers and a multitude of wild life, amd it’s a wonderful area. In ancient times this was part of the larger Berkshire  Forest, and it was replete of old myths, even today.

You know I can’t stop looking for myths and stories around, and I have two myths for you, today. One of:

  • Herne the Hunter, and another of 
  • Elen of the Ways.

Herne The Hunter

Of, Herne the Hunter he is said to have antlers growing from his head, rides a horse, torments cattle, and rattle chains. The latter may be mythological ‘right’, but the latter sounds theatrical. And it is, as it becomes from the words of William Shakespeare. 

Herne the Hunter, either used a horse or was seen alone in the forest. He was said to be seen as a free and nobly forested-spirit, and was (because of his antlers) he was associated with deers. 

As a male character he was related to the fecundity and ecological balance of the forest. To Druids, Celts and many others Herne the Hunter symbolised alertness and potently, his reverence and his spreading tree-like antlers to epitomise the forest. Stags are also associated with shape-changing, and appear throughout celtic mythologies several people became stags for a while. Even at least one occasion it was said  St Patrick became a shape-shifting deer using the féth fíada. Féth denotes ‘mist’, and fíada originally means the ‘knower’.

There is an old tale goes that Herne the Hunter,
Some time a keeper here in Windsor Forest,
Doth all the winter-time, at still midnight,
Walk round about an oak, with great ragg’d horns…

(In The Merry Wives of Windsor, the Shakespeare  pays tribute to the ghost of Herne the Hunter, wandering Windsor Forest).

It was said that he was especially close to a huge oak tree, known as Herne’s Oak. As these things happen, that tree was felled in 1796, though others said it was a different tree that was Herne’s Oak, though that was, itself, was blown down by winds August 1863. 

However, Queen Victoria planted an oak tree and it stays for all to see – along with a number of many other oaks and other trees. Perhaps, the balance of the forest is that life and death moves on, but the myth of Herne the Hunter continues as long as we remember him.

Whatever, the view of Herne the Hunter is, it is (I believe) a welcome thought. With Herne the Hunter we remind ourselves, in story, myths poetry, ritual, of the flora and fauna, the need of forests, of life and death (and life), and of the great balance of nature.

Elen Of The Way

Elen of the Ways is our second Celtic (Druid etc), ‘antlered’-person, changeable and who is, also, elusive in the forest. 

Here’s a mythology: In The Dream Of Macsen Wledig (part of the Mabinogion), Mackenzie is out hunting but gets sleepy, and has a dream.

Elen of the Ways is depicted as a mysterious woman of power who knows how to gets what she wants. Macsen Wledig slept, and he experienced a dream.

In that dream, he travelled way across mountains and along rivers, and undertook a sea voyage. He crossed an island and found a magnificent castle, and there was a beautiful woman and he fell in love with her. 

Macsen had found the woman of his dreams within his dream! Ofcourse, he never gets his kiss. When he moves to kiss her he awakens, and in the waking world he can see no Elen of the Ways.

And so, Elen of the Ways, is said to be to all look for her. She may assist those who travel the world’s ways and roads geography, and also perhaps she may assist us in our spiritual journeys or our slumbers, as we listen for her dreamful advices.

Twenty-first Century Cosmic Navigators (2): Awareness Of Clouds

It’s always good to look at clouds, as a later Celt or Druid etc, but it’s good to see ourselves as a twenty-first century cosmic‘ navigator’, and aware of nature.So, here’s a few ways that we can consider and look about clouds. The ancients, as well as scientific ways can lead after a few clouds.

“A Dream is where a boy can swim in the deepest oceans and fly over the highest clouds.” ( J. K. Rowling
)

Since the dawn of time, when our first ancestors were capable of craning their necks and looking at nature in awe, the sky has mesmerised humankind. The blue sky, insects buzzing and birds flying, the stars in the night sky forming a myriad of patterns in which to form their mythology and track the course of time, enthralled the ancients. And clouds. Clouds, too, caught the imagination of those giants of old.

He answered them, ‘When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky…’ (Matthew 16:2-3a, The Book)

As I lay on a picnic blanket in Richmond Park, west London, as a child with my mother beside me, we played that game of looking up at the clouds and imagining what the various cloud shapes looked like. ‘It looks like a television’, my mother said. As the high winds slowly changed the cloud’s shape, I waited, laughed and then exclaimed loudly, ‘It now looks more like a whale.’ And, so it went on.

The ground we walk on, the plants and creatures, the clouds above constantly dissolving into new formations – each gift of nature possessing its own radiant energy, bound together by cosmic harmony. (Ruth Bernhard)

Ofcourse, years later, I learned more about clouds, was even more fascinated by it, and now I’d like to suggest how you can also love what each cloud means. Such as:

Low clouds

Stratus clouds are small, light, diffuse clouds. They are the kind of widespread cloud that uniformly blanket the whole sky, and which can be seen especially, but not only around mountains and coastal areas. Look out for light drizzle.

Stratocumulus clouds, about 7000 feet above us, are thick, but usually patchy clouds, with ‘gaps’ that allow you to see the blue sky occasionally, or if its near dawn or dusk allow the suns rays to shine through in several shafts of light. This effect is called crepuscular rays, God’s rays, Buddha rays or Jacob’s ladder.

The thickest and lowest clouds are cumulus clouds (see photo above). They’re usually fast, floating around, with puffy clouds with flat bases. Generally their upper parts often resemble cauliflowers, and they are not the harbingers of rain. But, it may be these that are the ‘shape-shifting’ clouds that, in my boyhood, resembled animals and inanimate objects.

Middle clouds

Nimbostratus are usually middle (perhaps middle to low) clouds and can look grey, diffuse clouds and they can be seen as the harbinger of rain, (and depending on the seasons) they can hair or snow). See photo below.

Above these clouds are altocumulus clouds. They can be a multitude of rounded ‘clumps’ of cloud, almond shape, and resemble fish scales – hence it may be called a ‘mackerel’ sky.

Altostratus clouds are usually thin, featureless grey clouds. Usually thin enough to reveal the position of the sun, and sometimes the moon at night, and because these diffuse clouds may contain ice crystals you might also see a halo, a coloured ‘corona’ around the sun or moon in the clouds.

High clouds

‘High-Flyer’s’ are cirrostratus clouds, ‘floating’ above 20000 feet, and could often be referred to as ‘the clouds that aren’t really there’, as they can cover hundreds of square miles, but can be so ‘thin’, so high and so subtle that they’re often overlooked by earth-bound observers.

“The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious. And why shouldn’t it be?–it is the same the angels breathe.” ( Mark Twain)

Cirrus clouds, also known as ‘mares’ tails’ are fast-moving clouds, and are usually buffeted by high winds – think of aircraft turbulence; but because they can be so high, as anything far away, the ‘illusion’ is that they are slow moving. But, this isn’t the case. See photo below.

If there are to be any clouds about on a summer’s day, then the lofty cirrocumulus clouds are the ones that will delight. These clouds are high and are really tiny ‘cloudlets’, regularly spaced, and maybe with a ‘rippled’ effect. Cirrocumulus clouds tend to reflect the red and yellow colours during a sunset and sunrise, and so they have often been referred to as “one of the most beautiful clouds”. This occurs because they reflect the unscattered rays of light from the early morning or evening sun.

Conclusion: Next time you see a cloud (and it’s safe to do so), why not pause, and when you can, let me know what you ‘saw’, and if it had a deeper meaning to you. Perhaps the cloud shows your what science tells you about the weather etc, or perhaps the cloud has some kind of imaginative sky ‘drawn’ is for you,, or perhaps it is a ‘message’ from the Great Cloud-Giver? Happy cloud-spotting!

The Curious Incident Of Brigid And The Bath Water (Reviewed). Imbolc 2021

The circle continues to turn. Imbolc, St Brigid’s Day, or Candlemas, as some call it, comes ever closer. Spring is in the air.

And with 2 February in mind, our thoughts turn to Brigid of Kildare. Brigid is viewed in differing ways, by different people. To some Brigid is an ancient Celtic goddess. The goddess of fire. Indeed, a sacred fire burned in Kildare in ancient time, as was kept burning by priestesses. In this way it was thought herds would be protected and harvests would be plentiful. To others, Brigid is a saint, and at the time of Candlemass, candles are blessed (and lit by some), and Brigid is remembered as one who symbolises motherhood, new birth, the springing forth of seeds and, in the recent past, some would bless (even) agricultural tools on that day. It’s spring (or nearly, so), after all.

Brigid was known for her hospitality. For the weary traveller no expense was spared by her.

Yes, you know I like stories, and here’s another about Brigid that I saw a few years ago.

On one occasion, going about her day, she came across some very tired, hungry and thirsty lepers. The plight of those dear people had already touched Brigid’s heart, and she made them as comfortable as she could. She ensured that they had had some food, but were thirsty.

One of those near to Brigid came to her and broke the bad news news: there was no beer for those thirsty lepers.

Brigid was deeply concerned, and it is said, immediately sprung into action. At the back of some nearby buildings she found an old bath, full of dirty bath water. She put her hand into the bathwater and blessed it. As the attendant drew off pints from that bath they found that it had changed! No longer dirty bath water, but the finest, freshest and coolest beer you could ever imagine, which was served to all.

The lepers and others were delighted, and had more than enough to drink, and there was plenty of beer left over.

You will have to forgive me – flippant only for a moment or two – but isn’t Brigid the kind of person you would like at all your parties?

I know sceptics may ridicule the bathwater-into-beer story, but there are some deep and profound truths ‘buried’ in it, if we take time to discover them. The need to be hospitable, and the joy in being so. The fact that we live in a world of abundance. The ‘power’ that one person has. That we use in a world of surprises; the Universe (God, the Elements, The Source of All) is friendly. The power in a blessing etc. All wonderful truths that are ‘unpacked’ in this unusual and delightful story about dear Brigid.

‘Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems’. Rainer Maria Rilke

Spring is close. However, you view Brigid, it may be good to give thanks for her example, for this season of rest, to look forward to the coming season of spring and the springing forth of plants etc, for growth, and perhaps to light a candle. Fire, however, you view dear Brigid, is a worthy symbol of her, and the lighting of a candle on her day a notable action to do.

Bless you, from Tadhg

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?