Rivers: Nature And Supernature. The Power & The Myth

20180908 RIVERS NATURE AND SUPERNATURE

Where is a body of water things happen. It’s not just that humankind sometimes uses oceans and rivers to (artificially) mark out territory at a superficial level, and things happen because of that. But, it’s deeper. There’s more.

As you know I’m in Hay On Wye, just inside the country of Wales, and chuckled to myself last evening as I walked the twenty minutes to the shop. To get there I crossed over a bridge over the small but vibrant Dulas Brook. It’s a wonderful Brook.

’It is life, I think, to watch the water. A man can learn so many things.’ Nicholas Sparks

Momentarily I stood there and looked down, and pondered the fact that half of me was in England, and half in Wales. I know, sometimes my inner child runs rampant – but, what not?

I was in no particular rush,  and so sat down beside the brook, away from the road, and enjoyed the solitude. 

Water, bodies of water, rivers and lakes have played an important part over the years in the belief system of many religions and faith groups. 

Millions of Hindus, with ashes over their bodies, plunge into the River Ganges in the hope that their sins will be washed away. The ancient Hebrews believed  that the Pool of Bethesda would heal them when it’s waters rippled declaring the presence of an invisible angel. And, many Christians bathe in the River Jordan for a blessing. The latter, ofcourse, use blessed or holy water in christenings and on other occasions when it is ‘flicked’ at the congregation. And, who can forget the old story, and one of my favourites, of dear Brigit turning bath water into beer!

’he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the [blind] man’s eyes. ‘Go,’ he told him, ‘wash in the Pool of Siloam”. So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.’ John 9: 6b-7, The Book

Cleopatra, it is said knew of the healing properties of the water of the Dead Sea, and many today bathe in it, (or buy its water for home use) in the hope it will heal them (and indeed some say it may have some beneficial effect for skin ailments etc  because of its high salt content). But, there’s more.

Ah, water.

As I sat there and gazed into the Dulas Brook and with the sun setting, I wondered of the number of ancient Celts, Christians, Druids, Pagans and others that have done the same. Wales is that kind of place. It is a land of mystery and magic, where ancient voices can be heard in the wind and the energy of bygone ritual flows through the earth. Water, it seems, invited, and the Giver of Water moves through this land.

The ancients believe water could heal. And, at Buxton in Derbyshire is the ‘well’ that was flowing before the Romans invaded England, and which was used by Druids and others for healing. It was originally called Aqua Arnemetiae meaning. ‘the waters of the goddess who lived in the sacred grove. Know it is known as St Anne’s well.

Healing?

The ancient Celts and Druids told of stories where the Otherworld is reached by going under the waters, such as pools, lakes, or the sea, or by crossing the western sea. In Irish Immrama tales, a beautiful young Otherworldly woman would oftenapproach the hero and invite him to go away with her, as she sings to him of this happy land. He follows her, and they journey over the sea together and are seen no more.

A gateway?

Could Dulas Brook be a gateway to Annwn, the OtherWorld in Welsh mythology, that place of eternal youth and where disease was unknown?

The ancient Celts and Druids (and others) also believed that around water, such as lakes, rivers and brooks, elementals inhabited the area. Many still believe this today, and stories abound of good and not-so-good events around, or involving, water.

The spirits of watery places were honoured as givers of life. Sequana, it is said, seems to have embodied the River Seine at its spring source, the goddesses Boann and Sionnan give their names to the rivers Boyne and Shannon, and the ancient name for the River Marne was Matrona ‘Great Mother’.

Could there be a correlation between the River Lugg, just a few miles away, and Lugh? In the past I’ve dismissed it, but now I’m seriously considering the link.

It makes you think.

And, as I sat there gazing into the Dulas Brook I could see how water and the human imagination could ‘connect’ and deep thoughts take place. Ofcourse, many might dismiss such thoughts,  but what if imagination, like water, houses mysteries that defy rational explanation? What if we are surrounded my the miracle and magic that is water, but are oblivious to the fact?

Just a body of water? I would venture that when we gaze upon a lake, river or ocean there is much more than the eye can see. 

’Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.’ Albert Einstein

 

 

Tadhg, On The Road To Hay On Wye. Mystery, Magic And Healing The Land

20180903 TADHG ON THE ROAD TO HAY ON WYE

In a few days I’m off on another short jaunt. Another adventure. And, who knows what might happen? Having just come back from the wonderful Matlock area of Derbyshire, this time I’m off to Hay On Wye, Wales.

‘The winds of God are always blowing, but you must set the sails.’ (Unknown)

The region of Hay on Wye is an area that abounds in myth and magic, and is a wonderful place to visit. The town nestles just inside Wales, separated geographically from England by the Dulas Brook, and Hay on Wye boasts the largest concentration of bookshops in the UK, so ‘I will be in my element’, as they say.

Division?

‘Where you are today and where you want to be lies a gap….’ Oscar Bimpong

Over those few days I also aim to visit the Brecon Beacons (national park in Wales) which is a huge open, rugged and wild place, the habitat of wonderful animals, insects, plants and trees. It also has some wonderful waterfalls, some amazing caves, and yes, plenty of mystery. There are a number of standing stones in the Brecon Beacons which were the ritual places of ancient Celts. No wonder the Celts of old loved that area (and latter ones still do). It is a place of mystery, a liminal place, a place where Here and the Other spiritually ‘connect’. A ‘thin place’ [see here].

Connection?

’In reality, we live in everyone. I live in you. You live in me. There is no gap, no distance. We all are eternally one.’ Amit Ray

And myth? What of myth? The River Wye that runs through Hay joins the River Lugg some ten miles to the east. One cannot but notice the similarity between the name Lugg as in the River Lugg, and Lugh the god of the Celts. However, Lugh comes mainly from Irish myth and probably means ‘of the long arm’, whereas Lugg as in the River Lugg, is thought to be more local, and means ‘the bright one’. But, it makes you wonder.

Ponder?

In that area other myth is recorded: the ghostly figures of Swan pool, the appearance of King Arthur’s cave, mischievous pwcas, and more. Perhaps we swim through myth and magic wherever we are, but are unaware of it. It may be noticeable or ‘felt’ only if we develop our (underused) senses of awareness. Maybe such myths and magic is ubiquitous?

‘How blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear!’ Matthew 13:16, The Book

Evidence for this comes from where the River Wye connects with the River Lugg. There, at Mordiford is an interesting myth. Legend has it, and one mentioned on the side of a local church wall, says that in a bygone age a dragon was harassing nearby villagers. It was eventually slain by a member of the local nobility, though such is the nature of myth, it might have been a convicted criminal who killed the dragon. Some even attribute the original owner of the dragon as a young girl by the name of Maud.

Although the stories vary, that dragon, in this region, is always prominent in such stories. And, what of Maud? A short walk through the nearby Haugh Wood brings you to a path, said to be found my dear Maude herself, called Serpent’s Lane. Serpent, dragon? It is said that at certain times of the year the dragon can be seen there, and you’ll know when you’ve reached the path even if you don’t spy the dragon, as legend says nothing grows there.

Just a myth? Or, something more?

’He is short-sighted who looks only on the path he treads and the wall on which he leans.’ Kahlil Kibran

But we can’t leave the myth there. Some of you may know that normally dragons are fairly placid creatures unless disturbed (and have six limbs), and it is more than likely that this ‘dragon’ [see here], was, infact, a wyvern because of local drawings showing a creature with four limbs – thus making it an altogether rather disagreeable creature. Not a dragon at all. A wyvern.

There’s more.

There is always more. Having buried a rock (a Rainforest Jasper rock) recently at Mam Tor [see here], Derbyshire in a simple Earth-healing ceremony, I intend to do the same, and for the second time, at Maen Llia in the Brecon Beacons national park, Wales.

Join me over the next few days, ‘imaginally’, in prayer, energetically, in a ‘kything’ sort of way, and participate albeit-geographically-at-a-distance, but in essence at no distance at all. Oneness!

’…that they may be one as we are one.’ John 17.22, The Book

At Mam Tor: Earth-Healing Ritual And More

Today, the weather was overcast and cloudy, and quite cool because of a northerly wind. It rained intermittently. Suitably attired with anorak, waterproof over-trousers and hiking boots, and water I headed to the hills. There was work to be done, and ‘adventure’ like the feel on the skin of an approaching storm was in the air.

‘Today expect something good to happen to you no matter what occurred yesterday.’ Sarah Ban Breathnac

Today was the day when I was to undertake my first simple Earth Healing ritual which would involve saying a simple prayer of dedication as I buried a small Rainforest Jasper stone.  

Rainbow Jasper, some say is a ‘helpful stone to connect with Mother Earth and the energy of the natural world, and may be used in earth healing rituals.’ And, it can ‘aid you to make a stronger connection to the great forests and green areas of the planet, as Rainforest Jasper encourages you to have a deeper, more heart based love for the earth.’ Whatever your views on that stone are, at the very least it can,  and does act as a focal point for our concern and prayer  for peace and harmony on, and in the Earth.

Having travelled some ten miles, I stopped momentarily at the foot of the large hill – to me a mountain. How fitting that this Earth Healing ceremony and Rainforest Jasper should be buried at the top of this large hill (517m  or 1,696 ft in height), rightly called Mam Tor or The Mother Hill. Healing, Rainbow Jasper, Earth-Healing, connectedness at high places, the Feminine aspect of the Divine, it all fitted together. This was to be the place.

‘Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.’ Francis of Assisi

I advanced up the side of Mam Tor and was soon at the peak. A few people came and went, and as I sat on a boulder watching them and waiting for a lull in their coming and going, I prayed.

Reaching down I buried the small rock of Rainforest Jasper (about the size of my thumbnail) and simultaneously prayed under my breath, ‘I bury this stone, Rainforest Jasper, for this land: for a deeper connection and harmony with nature and with plants, trees and animals, and with Mother Earth herself. The vibration of happiness and joy for life will flow outwards, throughout all life and carry strong energy for change and positivity to local communities. May all, everything, in this locality, be blessed by That Which Is Bigger Than Us.’

I stood up, silent for several minutes looking at the awesome scenery. Here, some three thousand years ago (and verified by recent archeological finds) Celts lived at the top of Mam Tor. There and in this area are glimpses of Druid activity. And, not for the first time did another Druid stand at the peak of Mam Tor. The wind picked up and it was if I could hear the voices of the Ancients, those Celts who had lived here, Druids who had performed their rituals and others calling out in affirmation.

‘I heard your voice in the wind today
and I turned to see your face;
The warmth of the wind caressed me
as I stood silently in place.’ Author unknown

And so, I slowly picked my way down Mam Tor. Although requiring more effort to ascend Mam Tor it took longer to get down as I gingerly placed feet in foot holds and steps, so as not to tumble. I was in no rush, either. The scenery is wonderful and the whole area radiates with the ‘magic’ of the ages and liminality. Truly, this is a place where many caol áit (a Celtic/Gaelic word, pronounced ‘kweel awtch’ and which means ‘thin places’) exist. [See here for more information about thin places].

I then drove toward where I was lodging,feeling that my adventure for the day was complete. I felt as though what needed to have been done, the Earth Healing ritual, had been accomplished. And, yet those Welsh words that my grandmother would often use when I was a child rang in my ears, ‘Mae mwy’, ‘there is more’.

I drove for about twenty miles, about a days journey for our ancestors, and so still in the area of Mam Tor, and decided to stop and have lunch at a local pub at Birchover. 

The Source of All does have a sense of humour. The local public house (pub) was called ‘The Druid Inn’. And perhaps, not for the first time did another Druid imbibe in that establishment (or area). Though I hasten to add it was primarily the food that had led me to stop there, and any drink was non-alcoholic as I was driving. Nevertheless, the ‘co-incidence’ of the pub’s name hadn’t gone unnoticed.

Birchover, so I found out as I tucked into a steak and ale pie, is situated near a number of features of geologic and historic interest: there are numerous tunnels, several prehistoric and ancient carvings in caves, and a number of stone circles on nearby Stanton Moor.  Such stone circles and carvings was evidence, in many locals’ minds of ancient Druid ritual in the area.

Whoever you go in this part of the world there is mystery, but there’s more. It is everywhere, if we have eyes to see.

‘The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.’ Anais Nin

Truly, we are surrounded by mystery. We all live in the twenty-first century of technology and mechanical time, the hustle and bustle of busy jobs, and dualism that makes little room for meditation and deep spirituality, but take a moment to scratch beneath the surface and the legacy of the Ancients,  Celts of old and Druid’s appear in all its wonderment.

Underneath the carcophany of modern daily life The Source still speaks. The spirituality that we all crave is there, and it is just a heartbeat away. There is no separation, except that we we think. ‘Truly, I am with you, even to the end of the age’, said the Human One.  And it is so. Mysterious, and true. Mysterious, and comforting. (Just) Breathtakingly Mysterious. The Mystery.

 

As Above, So Below. Thoughts On Status & Responsibility At The StarDisc

I’m in Derbyshire, England for a few days, and soon to have the privilege of leading a baby-naming ceremony. But, I’ve ‘built’ some rest and relaxation into this trip, which means exploration and adventure, and who knows what might happen. 

Right now I’m at the heart of Stoney Wood…known as the Gateway to the stars. It’s been raining on and off for the last two hours, there’s a wind blowing and the clouds are grey and low, and I’m now venturing ever closer to the StarDisc. My first encounter. 

The StarDisc is a wonderful work of art that is arresting, intriguing and profound. It is a 21st century stone circle and celestial amphitheatre created by Aidan Shingler. It spans 12 meters (40 ft). Carved into black granite floor is a star chart that mirrors the night sky of the northern hemisphere. The surface of the stone circle is inscribed with the constellations and their names, and also a depiction of the Milky Way. Around the perimeter of the StarDisc are twelve silver granite blocks which are seats denoting the months of the year.

I’m gazing at the StarDisc, standing on it, looking down. I can seen the stars etched into the black granite floor, but with a light coating of rain on the surface I can see the reflection of the clouds (and little patches of blue sky, now) as I look down. As above, so below. 

The fact that we can glimpse and in a small way comprehend something of the universe declares the paradox that we find ourselves in when we think about our status in the universe. We are part of the universe, built of clay (or carbon) and yet we have the ability to see the universe. Are we not the universe looking at the universe?

The tallest, and heaviest,  and richest, and grandest of us pale into seeming insignificance when measured against the vast distances involved in the planet we inhabit. Becoming less significant as we think about the solar system in which out planet could go unnoticed. Then consider the millions of solar systems, many of them larger than this one, in the galaxy, and then – yes, mae mwy, there’s more – and the millions of galaxies, some of them ‘super galaxies’ that populate the known universe. And now scientist suspect other universes. We’re small. And our status matches this? A paradox.

What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving, how express and admirable in action, how like an angel in apprehension, how like a god!’ Hamlet, William Shakespeare 

It’s a paradox because although we are seemingly small and seemingly insignificant we are here because That Which Is Bigger Than Us has called us into be, chosen us from before the beginning of time. You being here is not an accident. Seemingly small, we are bigger. Seemingly insignificant, we are significant. We are loved by The Source of All.

As I look down at that black granite floor I cannot but be in awe that we, humankind, have the ability to ask questions, posit answers, and gain wisdom. We are sufficiently mature to know that we know a lot, and yet know that we need to be in a state of humility for there is much more to know. Like children.

You are…’the lifter up of my head’. Psalm 3.3b, The Book.

As I look down, in the rain-soaked reflection I am seeing what is above – not just the star fields of the night-sky etched into the granite floor which is awesome, but the clouds and sky reflected to. In moments of quietness and solitude, in meditative states, and when humble we ‘see’ more. As below, so above. 

So in our ‘small-bigness’ what are we to do? 

We each have a responsibility. That maybe a word that some shun, but just as a parent has a responsibility and knows the joys of parenthood, so we have a responsibility and can realise the joy of being chosen for a specific task (or many) in ministering to others.

But, the ego can ‘kick in’ here. There are some who would say that much training is needed, and that may be so. But, the ‘trap’ seems to be to remain in a perpetual state of training for the ‘big day’ when you and I will be ‘ready’. The ‘big day’ never arrives. We then never mature, and others will never hear your words or be ministered to by your actions. Ofcourse, some training is needed, and the alternative ‘trap’ is to eschew any training at all and just leap into ministering without much foundation. Balance is needed.

I believe in trying to get a balance between individual freedom on the one hand and social responsibility on the other. Chris Patten

As I look at the StarDisc, which has a Stone Henge feel about it I cannot but feel humbled that those who built Stone Henge and those that worshipped there some time later, though they never left written records, did leave us a legacy, from which we can benefit, because they took their responsibility seriously. They studied and trained, and gave out – they ministered in thought, word and deed. And I dare say, some of them sometimes got it wrong. But I do believe that That Which Is Bigger Than Us understands. Better some study and then ministry, than all study and no ministry, or all ministry and no study.

What is our responsibility? No answer can be given here to the level of maturity we each find ourselves at, or need. Some may need much training before ministering (however we define that word, or believe our calling to be). But, some practical outwork is always needed so that study isn’t all…well, study. Some, may know that they have only studied and for such a long time that ministry is long overdue. Balance is needed. 

And, perhaps that is where the Anamcara, the ‘soul friend’, is useful. The Anamcara, and it could be a good friend acting in that role or it could be a latter-day Anamcara, is someone who has a mature knowledge of spiritual matters, is grounded, and who has your best interest at heart. They will tell you honestly your surrender ‘walk’. Do you have an Anamcara?

In everyone’s life, there is great need for an anam cara, a soul friend. In this love, you are understood as you are without mask or pretension. The superficial and functional lies and half-truths of social acquaintance fall away, you can be as you really are. Love allows understanding to dawn, and understanding is precious. John O’Donohue

I’m still standing on the StarDisc, the rain is coming back and it’s time for me to go. But what of you? Is your current study-ministry ratio in proportion? Do you have an Anamcara?  It’s now pouring with rain, and as much as I like the rain, I’m moving, somewhat fast, towards shelter. My last thought as I seek shelter under a huge old tree, is, bearing in mind that each of us are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses down the ages, what are our priorities in ministering to others? What is our ministry? What is our calling? What is our responsibility to each other?

These questions, the answers of which will differ for each one of us,  are so important when ministering as a Celt, Druid, Christian etc, but they need to be asked, even if the answers are elusive.

It’s time to move on.

 

[Unable to upload ‘header’ photo as I’m ‘on the road’ and current computer program won’t allow photo uploading.]

 

 

 

And The Moon Steps Lower…: Ephemera: 26 August 2018 Full Moon

20180822 EPHEMERA AND THE MOON STEPS LOWER 26 AUGUST 2018

Yes, it’s nearly the time of the next full Moon. Infact, this Sunday, 26 August 2018 sees the next full moon, rising above the horizon (from a UK perspective) at about 8.22pm and reaching its highest point in the sky early on Sunday morning (at about 2am). Looking south, it will be in the constellation of Aquarius, the Water Bearer.

And the moon steps lower,
quietly changing
her luminous masks, brushing
everything as she passes
with her slow hands
and soft lips…

(Harvest Moon by Mary Oliver)

This full Moon swings to the south of the antisolar point, and so it is south of the Earth’s shadow, so there is no eclipse (partial or total) of the full moon. In fact, all the full Moons for the rest of 2018 dip south of the antisolar point and ‘beneath’ the Earth’s shadow. For the technically-minded this full Moon (month/cycle) is designated as Lunation number 1183 (that is, 1183 new Moons since Professor Ernest W Brown started counting new Moons, beginning with the new Moon of 17 January 1923).

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

To ancient cultures, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Druid and others the Moon was significant in their calendar, farming, rituals, daily life etc.

To some, this full moon is known as the Fruit Moon, the Women’s Moon, the Sturgeon Moon, the Corn Moon, and to some, especially (ancient and latter-day) Celts, to myself and others, it is 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 continued. Survival might have depended on keeping ‘short accounts’ and getting along with one’s neighbours.

‘Sometimes the night can be your best therapist. For the Moon is free, and always there to listen’. A Y Greyson

Ah, the Moon. 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. 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 bright crescent moon hanging in the sky, appearing stooped or crooked. And, doesn’t the Moon inspire? Dear Cerridwen.

As you gaze up at the full Moon, do pause and meditate and make this full Moon (and/or new Moons) an important part of your life, and, say a word or a prayer, raise a toast or offer a libation to the One who inspires us all. The Moon-maker. The One Behind It All. The inspirer.

‘What was most significant about the lunar voyage was not that men set foot on the moon, but that they set eye on the Earth’. Norman Cousins

No information about the moon would be complete without the amazing announcement, in the last day or so, of finding water at the polar regions of the Moon.

Back in 2008/9 India’s first Moon probe, Chandrayaan 1, with a Moon mapping instrument on board from NASA, orbited the Moon for about a year, and returned valuable data. That data, in a new study led by Shuai Li of the University of Hawaii and Brown University, was reviewed and showed a distinctive ‘signature’ which, they say, can only be water ice.

That find may not herald life on the Moon, but it may make mankind’s future exploration of the Moon and of space, our journey to the stars, easier. An amazing find.

‘The Moon is our local port opening to the universe; in the future, it’s through that port we will sail our ships to the coastless oceans’. Mehmet Murat Ildan

 

An Eco Ritual: Healing The Land & A Celebration

20180820 AN ECO RITUAL AT MATLOCK

The following is a brief outline of an ‘eco’ ritual that I am intending to use for one of a series of ‘healing the land’ rituals over the next year or so – this one at the time of the full moon (26 August) near Matlock, England.

We often take the natural environment for granted and many feel separate from it, and yet as year succeeds year, we realise (more so) that we are connected to nature, indeed, we are one with nature. From the largest swirling galaxy, to this planet with its vast blue oceans, to its mighty trees and forests, to wolves and foxes and bears, and buzzing and sometimes annoying insects, to all of creation we, humankind, are one. Visible and invisible, all one.

The moment the angel enters a life it enters an environment. We are ecological from day one. (James Hillman)

I would encourage you to read the article, please, take it to heart, adapt it and try the ritual (physically in your neighbourhood and/or ‘imaginally’ within your house) so that you can participate, periodically, and make a difference, too, to your local area, wherever you are. And remember: intentionality is important.

We are children on the earth: people to whom the outdoors is home. Nothing can separate us from the vigour and vibrancy of this inheritance. (John O’Donohue)

There no right or wrong way of doing this, and in many cases (depending on the area, time, circumstances) you might have to adapt proceedings. Indeed, the most profound rituals are the simplest, so do ‘subtract’ from the following if it feels to ‘weighty’. Nothing, not even ritual, should come between us and awareness of Who Is.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about. (Rumi)

What follows, then, is an outline and is a prompt and encouragement to you to try (unless you have something that suits you better, in which case please email me and share). It may be, especially if the area that I’m drawn to for this ritual is busy, that I might only be able to recite some of the words below, or maybe only use the words in the section headed ‘The Work’ (see below) and then bury the Rainforest Jasper stone. But, that’s okay. Intentionality is important, remember. As much as I like Harry Potter movies for entertainment, this is not a Harry Potter spell and nothing bad will happen to me or you if we get it wrong (but you cant, because there is no right and wrong way of doing this, either).

The earth which sustains humanity must not be injured. It must not be destroyed! (Hildegard of Bingen)

The following, then, is for the first ritual for the healing of the land, but also a celebration of nature and an acknowledge that we are one with nature (and not apart from it) – and for me, the ritual will take place near Matlock.

Notes are in square brackets.

OPENING

Facing East, say:
May there be peace in the East.
Facing South, say:
May there be peace in the South.
Facing West, say:
May there be peace in the West.
Facing North, say:
May there be peace in the North.

Walking in a circle, deosil (clockwise)…[And, walking clockwise is usual to ‘energise’ or empower a circle, and show that things are about to happen as we move into sacred-space and time. Also, I like to trace out or actually mark a circle with a staff (some use a ‘wand’, others point with their index finger on their right hand)].
Say, when at Eastern cardinal point:

I/we acknowledge the East, for the wind that blows from the continent onto this land and distributes the seeds to provide us with food. I bless you, O God, of the East.

Say, when at Southern cardinal point:
I/we acknowledge the South, for the warmth of the sun which gives us a temperate climate and abundance. I bless you, O God, of the South.

Say, when at Western cardinal point:
I/we acknowledge the West, for the great sea which nourishes us and provides us with ecological balance. I bless you, O God, of the West.

Say, when at Northern cardinal point:
I/we acknowledge the North, for the ancient hills and valleys and streams without end, the sure foundation of this this emerald isle. I bless you, O God, of the North.

LAMENT

[It seems appropriate to ‘start where we are’ and acknowledge that humankind is responsible for much of the Earth’s degradation, hence this lament. But, I prefer not to linger here, as I do believe power and energy goes to what we focus on, and our focus is on the positive.]

Say:
I/we have forgotten who we are.
I/we have distanced ourselves from the unfolding of the cosmos.
I/we have become estranged from the flowing of the earth
I/we have separated ourselves from the cycles of life.
And, I am/we are truly sorry.

PURPOSE

Say:
I/we join with the Earth and with each other…
To bring new life to this land
To restore the purity of the waters
To refresh the air for all
To renew the forests
To care for the plants
To protect animals and insects

To revel in the blowing winds
To rejoice in the bright sunlight
To celebrate the turbulent seas
To dance on solid ground
To sing the song of the stars

To recall our destiny
To renew our spirits
To reinvigorate our bodies
To recreate the human community with justice and in peace
To remember the children

I/we join with the earth and with each other.

Yes, I/we join together as many and diverse expressions of one loving mystery: for the healing of the earth and the renewal of all life.

And/or

We live in all things.
All things live in us.
We rejoice in all life.

WORDS OF REMEMBRANCE

[It could be that here, others in your group could each take a line or two to recite those words below or those scattered throughout this article, or you can use one or more of them, if working alone.] Say:

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

We need joy as we need air. We need love as we need water. We need each other as we need the earth we share. (Maya Angelou)

The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature. (Hildegard of Bingen)

Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these. (Matthew 6: 28b – 29, The Book)

Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields…Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness. (Mary Oliver)

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature. (Joseph Campbell)

Each thing – each stone, blossom, child is held in place. Only we in our arrogance, push out beyond what we belong to…If we surrendered to Earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees. (Rainer Maria Rilke)

The Earth does not belong to us: we belong to the Earth. (Marlee Matlin)

Pick a flower on Earth and you move the farthest star. (Paul Dirac)

THE WORK

[If I have to forgo any other part of the ritual, this seems to me to be the crucial part, and when having recited the following words I then intend to scoop out a small amount of soil and bury a small Rainforest Jasper stone, and…] Say:

‘I bury this stone, Rainforest Jasper, for this land: for a deeper connection and harmony with nature and with plants, trees and animals, and with Mother Earth herself. The vibration of happiness and joy for life will flow outwards, throughout all life and carry strong energy for change and positivity to local communities. May all, everything, in this locality, be blessed by That Which Is Bigger Than Us.’

CLOSING

Walking in a circle widdershins (anti-clockwise)…[And, walking widdershins is usual to ‘dissipate’ energy or ‘close’ a circle, and show that things are now returning to ‘normal physical time-space. Also I like to trace out or actually mark the closing of the circle with a staff (some use a ‘wand’, others point with their index finger on their right hand]
Say, when at Northern cardinal point:
I/we give thanks for the North, for the ancient hills and valleys and streams without end, the sure foundation of this this emerald isle. I bless you, O God, of the North.

Say, when at Western cardinal point:
I/we give thanks for the West, for the great sea which nourishes us and provides us with ecological balance. I bless you, O God, of the West.

Say, when at Southern cardinal point:
I/we give thanks for the South, for the warmth of the sun which gives us a temperate climate and abundance. I bless you, O God, of the South.

Say, when at Eastern cardinal point:
I/we give thanks for the East, for the wind that blows from the continent onto this land and distributes the seeds to provide us with food. I bless you, O God, of the East.

END

[With the end of the ritual, it’s a good time to share food with others, but if you have done this by yourself there is no reason not to consume a snack, and if done in seclusion then it’s best to ‘ground’ yourself, even if that’s a walk around the garden or room, and a drinking a glass of water.]

The greatest forces lie in the region of the uncomprehended.  (George MacDonald)

 

Tadhg, On The Road To Matlock. The Ministry Of Baby-Naming & Healing The Land

20180814 TADHG ON THE ROAD TO MATLOCK

I love rituals and what follows are a few thoughts about the use of water and other ‘tools’ in ritual, especially with a couple of upcoming events.

  • I’m leading a baby-naming ceremony, and then
  • I’m conducting a healing of the land ritual, and more.

And, both events are taking me to the wonderful area of Matlock, England in a couple of weeks.

But first the ceremony: It was with the greatest of pleasure that I accepted James and Caitlan’s invitation to lead their new baby’s naming ceremony which takes place a couple of weeks’ time. (Yes, I’m on my way to the Matlock area of England.) Caitlan and James had asked me for a blended ceremony and one that was full of Celtic and Druidic meaning. As is usual in these matters all three of us (James, Caitlan and myself) were involved in outline planning so that it will be a special, meaningful, memorable and bespoke day for them and their baby.

And, all this got me thinking about rituals for babies and, because James and Caitlan wanted their baby to be sprinkled with water, it also got me thinking about the meaning of water in such ceremonies.

’In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans; in one aspect of You are found all the aspects of existence.’ Kahlil Gibran

We might each have our particular way of opening and closing rituals, of casting and closing circles of sacred time-space, but what about the contents, the part of the ceremony that is peculiar to the requirements of the day, and what about the meaning behind it? Intentionality is all important.

‘Life in us is like the water in a river.’ Henry David Thoreau

Water is life. Without it we could not survive. Indeed, the human body is made up of roughly 60% of water, with the lungs and brain amounting to considerably more. It’s fitting then, that at a baby’s first ceremony water should be involved. And, so here are a few thoughts that might prove useful, in part, to you as regards baby naming, rituals involving water, or perhaps, to ponder upon now, and some ideas that will be used in this wonderful ceremony in two weeks’ time.

At that future ceremony, I mentioned to James and Caitlan that I would welcome guestsmatlock baby-20339_960_720 and give them an outline of the major events within the ceremony. This is always useful to do in public events, so that guests aren’t caught unawares or embarrassed, and can feel at ease. It encourages guest to relax and feel ‘at home’ with the more mystical and deep meaningful parts of the ritual.

And so, there should be phrases of welcoming and explanation, perhaps then casting a circle or caim, or some aspect of entering sacred space-time, that liminal space where each will, hopefully, encounter.

Ceremonialist:
Let us bless this water to be used in this naming ceremony.

From the imagination of the Great Provider,
we think upon the gift of water poured into that primeval sea,
in which life was first formed, and moved upon of the face of the Earth.

We value water that comes to us in nature’s cycle, in rainstorms, and provides each one of us with nourishment and life.

Blessed be (this) water,
in a profound and truthful way, our first mother.

Ofcourse, there will be more wonderful words, awesome ritual and a sacred-time event as the baby is given her name. The above mentioned is just a glimpse of what is to come. And, they’ve asked me to don my alb (complete with cincture and stole) to underline to all the ‘different’ and joyous nature of this event. It will be a wonderful time for all, and a memorable one, with fond memories for the parents to cherish for years to come.

But, there’s more!

Secondly, the ‘work’ or ministry: Just a few miles away from Matlock is the Peak District National Park, and it’s there that I will both rest and work. I’m spending a few days ‘communing’ with nature, basking in a company of elementals and ‘recharging my batteries’. I love nature, and that spending a few days in that National Park will be blissful. But, there’s even more.

Part of that time will be ‘work’ or ministry. Whilst there I intend to ‘crystal plant’. I am MATLOCK RAINFOREST JASPER 1111 Untitledmost concerned about the ecological ‘stress’ we place the Earth under, and this not only shows in bizarre weather patterns, but in food shortages in various parts of the world, and abroad and ‘at home’ it shows, sadly, in the impact upon animals, insects, plants and trees.

‘Energy work is priceless. It makes every day extraordinary and transforms the mundane to the holy.’ Silvia Hartmann

Healing of the land is needed.

Whilst in the Peak District National Park, I intend to seek out a quiet spot and undertake a short but profound Land Healing Ritual. This will involve a few words, an opportunity for me to offer my flute-playing as an offering, and there I’ll pour out some of the nearby spa water (from St Anne’s Well, Buxton) as a libation, and then bury a small Rainforest Jasper gemstone 9see small photograph) which is renowned for emitting gentle energy and healing the land.

In this small way energy is raised, a blessing is given, healing can take place and one person (or more, if you join with me at that time in thought, wherever you are) will have made a difference. A blessing, said John O’Donohue ‘…is a powerful and positive intention that can transform situations… Whenever you give a Blessing, a Blessing returns to enfold you.’

‘Who touched Me?’ Jesus asked. But they all denied it. ‘Master,’ said Peter, ‘the people are crowding and pressing against You.’ But Jesus declared, ‘Someone touched Me, for I know that power has gone out from Me.’

Over the next year it is my intention to ‘crystal plant’, be part of raising the power, be involved in blessing in several parts of the country as a healing ritual for the land, and I would encourage you to consider doing similar, if you can (physically or imaginally).

Fellowship: And then there’s a third reason. Ofcourse, I’m going to be in thematlock coffee-690054_960_720 neighbourhood of Matlock from 22 August to 29 August, and would welcome some company if you’re nearby. I’m sure we would have a great time of fellowship if we met at, say, a local café for an hour or so. Do let me know if you live nearby (and then I’ll email/text details nearer the time). Yet another awesome reason to make the most of my jaunt to that fantastic part of England.

Do our rituals make a difference? I believe they do, and so I would welcome your positive thoughts at that time. In a few weeks I’d also like to outline a Land Healing ritual that we can all, wherever we are, take part in and truly make a difference.

 

20180814 TADHG ON THE ROAD TO MATLOCK

Dreams, The Gate To Eternity?

20180810 DREAMS THE GATE TO ETERNITY

Ancient cultures, Celts, Druids, Hebrew nations and others have long held great store in dreams. Perhaps, we can learn something from them?

That evening, as I sat alone reviewing the day, his depression weighed heavily on my heart. A myriad thoughts vied for space in my mind as I thought about that young man in need. As I slowly dozed off, I fell into a deep sleep and began to dream – one of those profound dreams that seemed to be lived in ‘real time’, a lucid dream.

I was in a thick, old, dense forest, walking towards what looked to be a clearing in the distance. I laboured onward, slowly and with considerable effort. As I walked on there was, indeed, a clearing that was well lit as if it had an encampment fire in the middle of it, except, there was no camp fire. Just a bright light without a visible source, lighting up the clearing and the perimeter trees, but not permeating further into the dark forest.

’Trust in dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.’ Khalil Gibran

I was standing near the centre of the clearing, and the plight of that young man, his depression was on my mind. Looking at the surrounding trees, the light played on them and I perceived creatures hiding behind many of the trees. Angels? Elementals? The Fae etc? No one at that time said a word but in my heart, as I looked around, I felt that these hidden creatures were of enormous power, and were hiding not because they were fearful of me, but because they were so powerful that they were fearful of doing me harm.

I stood there and ‘heard’ what one of them, or was it all of them, said. ‘Learn what you can about Juniper trees’. Still unable to speak, and standing there for what seemed hours, nothing more transpired. I awoke.

Over the next few days, I did some research, but even without trying too hard, synchronicity ‘kicked in’.

In ancient sacred text I re-read of a man named who had carried out, what he believed to be God’s will, but was running in fear of his life from a ruler. He laid under a Juniper tree and fell asleep, twice, and on both occasions was woken up and nourished by an angel. Later, having believed himself to be alone and retreating to a cave he had an encounter in the cave. A voice spoke and said, ‘What are you doing here’. I get goose bumps every time I read that account. The Voice was in the cave, too (and not outside), thus assuring Elijah he wasn’t alone. The Source of All never leaves us (even if we think the Source does). And, confessing his fear and depression that man received power and boldness from perceiving things differently. The circumstances may not have changed, but his outlook did change.

‘The stuff of our lives doesn’t change. It is we who change in relation to it.’ Molly Vass

In some cultures, I found out that the Juniper tree is thought to be a guide and gatekeeper to the Imaginal realm, bringing humankind in contact with the powers and blessings of the Invisible realms. In Germany, I’m told the name for the Juniper tree is ‘wacholder’. It means the ‘tree of awakening’.

I found out that Juniper is used cross-culturally to bring blessings, and to make sacred. Thus, it is said, it can help one to listen more closely to our inner wisdom, uncover our true path, and connect more deeply with matters of the Spirit, bringing one in touch with the Sacred in your life. Truly, there was great wisdom to do as those creatures had tasked.

Over the next few days as I pondered on such things, and an assurance ‘tumbled’ across my spirit, and it seemed to me that that young man, currently depressed, was undergoing something much more profound and deeper than I had first envisaged. Something deeper than he knew, too.

Also, in the ‘cave’ he found himself in, he needed to know that he wasn’t alone, and so, so far as I possibly could, I drew alongside the younger man and ‘held space’ for him – walking along with him, without judgment, sharing his journey to an unknown destination. I knew that this was his current path, and that there was nothing I could materially do, except to be there for him. Sometimes the best aid we can give someone comes not in words but in the simple action of being there for them.

’ Perhaps the oldest working truth of self-discovery is that the only way out is through.’ Mark Nepo

Maybe there are some dreams that you have dreamed that were significant, or perhaps with hindsight you now see them as significant to you. Dreams can be very powerful wisdom-givers, for when we’re asleep we’re free from distractions and our barriers are lowered. And the Source of All, who communicates profound matters in metaphors and ‘pictures’ (as there is no other way) has our undivided attention. When asleep and dreaming we are (more) receptive to That Which Is Bigger Than Us. Truly, dreams can be very important.

After some months that young man’s depression lifted.

 

‘Tis Mystery All’. Living With The Unknown In An Age Of ‘Must Know’

20180804 TIS MYSTERY ALL LIVING WITH THE UNKOWN IN AN AGE OF MUST KNOW

I’m in London and it’s still hot – heatwave weather. Earlier I took myself off to the local park and that’s where I am now. In the bustle of a busy city, I’m sitting in the shade of a mighty oak tree, with a coffee nearby, a good book, and eyes that are half closing in the heat of the day, as my mind begin to wander. I wonder…

‘Hamlet: And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’ William Shakespeare

It is on hot, balmy days that much musing takes place. Have you noticed how, in ancient text, in those hot lands of old that Divine contact usually took place near or under trees, where men and women were resting from the day’s heat and perhaps were more ‘open’ to the numinous.

‘Then God appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre in the heat of the day, while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent. And Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw three men standing nearby…’ Genesis 18:1-2a, The Book

It was many years ago, and I suppose I was six or seven years old at that time, that my grandmother told a story to me one evening. We were at the far end of her garden, sitting in the shade of an old, mature, gnarled oak tree, an oak tree unlike the many others in her garden. Quite similar to this oak tree in this city park. It, too, was a hot August evening. My eyes were half-closed, then, and my imagination ran riot.

She told the story of ‘the lights’ in the wood, which she described like fire-flies, but as she would say, ‘there’s more to it than that’, or just ‘there’s more’. She said that several years ago she had been walking in the nearby woods once evening and out the corner of her eyes she spied several lights in the distance, gaily dancing. Luminous green orbs they were. She said she wasn’t afraid as she seemed enveloped in an almost palpable peace. As she drew near, she said, the lights just disappeared. I was enthralled. Even at that young age it got me wondering.

She went on to say that they might have been the spirits of the place, or tree spirits, and as she said that she winked at me. Was that a ‘knowing wink’ meaning that I should take what she had said to heart? Or was it a ‘make your own mind up’, kind of wink?

‘One day you might find out…but then you might not’, she said enigmatically. ‘It’s the journey that counts…’. Perhaps, nature or the One behind it all gives us a periodic ‘wake up’ call?

’Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’ Hebrews 1:1, The Book

That was then.

Now, I know that the ancient Celts, Druids and Romans did have a belief in the spirits of the place, protectives spirit, the genii loci as they called them. They had a deep and abiding belief in such a spirit in each location with its own perspective and mannerism. Today, we might laugh at such a notion, but admit that, at times, we do ‘feel’ at home in certain places, but then dismiss it as nothing more than an emotional feeling. A shallow view of the genii loci when compared to our ancestors.

But suppose the Celts, Druids, Romans, and not forgetting my grandmother, suppose they were right, and our disbelief is nothing more than twenty-first century ‘distancing’ and scepticism?

I also remembered, at that time, her saying that the lights might, indeed, be the Will-O-The-Wisp. And as I look back now I wonder if that was what I saw, once.

’Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.’ Neil Armstrong

About eighteen months ago I wrote that a few years ago I went for a night stroll in the local woods. I can’t remember now if it was a problem getting to sleep or being woken up in the early hours and unable to get back to sleep. But I went for a walk. Then I wrote: My thoughts were then interrupted by a brilliant bright yellow-green light, visible some 200 feet away through dense forest. The mysterious light had piqued my interest, and once again my heart rate quickened. I sat there watching it. It made no noise. It never seemed to move. After about fifteen minutes of sitting there, wondering what it could be and not drawing any logical conclusion, I got to my feet and slowly moved towards the direction of the light.

Then, the air was colder than ever, the fog masked the exact location of the light until I got to within about fifty feet of it. At about forty feet from it – and the light source seemed about eight foot wide – it went out! No sound! No light. I stopped. After a few minutes I carried on walking, gauging my steps so that I’d have a rough idea of walking some forty feet. After forty feet, I stopped. I must have been right on top of the light source, and for the next few minutes looked around for evidence of what had caused the bright light – but I could see nothing untoward. A mystery.

So, now I’m wondering: Will-O-The-Wisp or dryads?

’It is the dim haze of mystery that adds enchantment to pursuit.’ Antoine Rivarol

Years ago, under that oak tree, my grandmother pondered if it could have been the Will-O-The-Wisp or a dryad, that is, a tree spirit, or the spirit of the place. Who knows?

Perhaps somethings are just too mysterious. Interestingly (as I was then sitting under an oak tree, as I am now), there is much to say that trees, and especially Oak trees have a spirit associated with them. When you think oak, think dryad or a similar term, drys. And, as regards the oak tree, think Druid. Drys signifies ‘oak’ in Greek, and dryads are specifically the spirits of oak trees, whilst the dryads of ash trees were called the Meliae.

’There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.’ Aldous Huxley

So, as I open my eyes fully on this still-oh-so-hot London day I am now no nearer solving the challenge: Did I witness a dryad, the Will-O-The-Wisp, the Canwyll Corff [pronounced can-noo-will-korf] that is, the ‘corpse candle’ (see here), or something else? Was it in this physical realm or in the imaginal? Did it have a specific meaning or was it a ‘nudge’ just to prompt me into a state of awareness?

Maybe, the ‘message for me and perhaps you, is that we might need to wonder (more)?  To have a beginner mind as Buddhists say, to be born again and again and again, to see through the eyes of a child maybe needed? It’s the journey that is important, and as we journey onward it is perception, wonder, mystery and awe that, perhaps, we can open ourselves to, and profit from (more).

‘If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.’ William Blake

My grandmother, always ready to listen (as well as tell stories), would often conclude her stories by saying to me, ‘Now, what do you think, dear one?’