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

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

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

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

How will you celebrate the winter solstice?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The trees, they slumber,
deep roots are dreaming.
The trees, they slumber,
deep roots are dreaming.
The trees, they slumber,
deep roots are dreaming.
I’m listening to the winter’s sacred rest.

The snow is falling,
the earth is bless-éd.
The snow is falling,
the earth is bless-éd.
The snow is falling,
the earth is bless-éd.
The hope of spring, ye-et to come.

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

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

Celtic Advent: Cosmic Thoughts At The Café

20171104 COSMIC THOUGHTS AT THE CAFE CELTIC ADVENT

Ever since the clocks went back an hour there has been an increasing expectation of the event. The nights draw in, the temperature drops and the anticipation just hangs in the air. And now, as I sit in the ‘Magic Café’, boxes marked ‘decorations’ are brought from a room at the back of the café to the main area, and they huddle in he corner.

Yes, the Celtic Advent is just around the corner.

‘Advent: the time to listen for footsteps – you can’t hear footsteps when
you’re running yourself.’ Bill McKibben

Depending on which calendar you follow, or which group you listen to, the Celtic Advent starts on 16 November (though in common with those ancient people and tribes the ‘day’ starts the evening before from our reckoning, and so it starts on the evening of 15 November). Others will point out that that 15 November is the first day (and so it actually starts on the evening of 14 November). Confused? Please don’t be: it means you get to decide.

Advent is a time of pondering on the cosmic significance of darkness, a time of personal preparation, a time to go dpeeper, a time of expectation, and then it culminates in a time of commemorarion as Light wonderfully enters the world. As the days grow darker, it’s Light we look forward to.

‘Pause. Listen for the whispers of your Soul.
Soul quietly flows through every part of you.’  Nancy Lankston

There are some who will set themselves, at this time, the task of reading more sacred text, or of attending an extra service, of spending a little bit more than usual, of adding an extra home ritual or prayer to their list or prayers – and all of these are wholesome, good and proper for you, if you feel ‘called’ to do one or more of them.

In the busyness of life, maybe the last thing we need is to be more ‘busy, busy’. Oh, it’s easy to get caught up in he hype fom the tv, the newspapers and radio, but once we’re aware of being ‘pulled along’ by the increasing flow of the pace of life at this time of the year, we’re in with a chance of doing something about it.

‘Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).’ Mark Twain

There are some who don’t feel called to attend this service or that, or to read extra sacred text, perhaps they want to take time to stop and pause, and to go ‘deeper’. If this isn’t quite you, if you are in the ‘let’s do extra’ group, then I would suggest you find those people. Sometimes doing things differently, even for part of the time, is exactly what we need, spiritually.

Ofcourse, if you’re cooking a turkey roast for the family celebrations or are working right up to the eleventh hour, it’s not easy, or even proper to pause right then. But, somewhere in our busy schedule there are opportunities to slow down, pause, and to look forward to Light entering the darkness, however we interpret that phrase. Sometimes, we can re-adjust our calendar to spend more time ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’.

I promise not to legislate for you, as you celebrate the Celtic advent, and I hope you wont legilsate the way I should celebrate it. To do so (or to become too busy) misses the point. To so do means that we’ve jumped out of the great invitation to be part of that cosmic event to erroneously, metaphorically, take a snap shot of it – and once we do that we have a wonderful ‘picture’ of the event from the ‘outside’, but we’re not part of it. So, really experience it this year.

And, so in this cafe, they’re unpacking boxes. And, as I sit here pondering the darkness, as I look through the cafe window onto a cold, dark blue sky’d city street, I look forward, in anticipation and expectation to Light entering the world, and what that means personally for me, for you, and others. And yes, ten mintes later I’m helping the cafe owner untangle a boxful of decorations. Perhaps, there is nothing wrong in the ‘doing’ or the busyness of the season so long as we make time for the real meaning of the season, don’t legislate for others and don’t ‘beat ourlsevlse up’; and pause to give ourselves long enough to consider the deeper meaning of this Celtic Advent.

I’ll be celebrating the start of the Celtic Advent on Friday eveing, 10 November (even if that means adding a few extra days in the lead-up to Christmas). For me this will mean a more leisurely approach, even more time to pause (sometimes), and go deeper, and being the start of the weekend the ‘pressure’ is off, and I can relax and enjoy the moment, the meal cooked for family and friends, to tell and listen to heart-warming stories, and ponder, maybe looking at a lone candle shining in the darkness as a metaphor for the occasion.

‘These special holidays give rise to various liturgical calendars that suggest we should mark our days not only with the cycles of the moon and seasons, but also with occasions to tell our children the stories of our faith community’s past so that this past will have a future, and so that our ancient way and its practices will be rediscovered and renewed every year.’  Brian  McLaren

To paraphrase some, this Celtic Advent was created for you and your benefit, and not the other way around.

My encouragement is for you to celebrate the start of the Celtic Advent with a meal – and yes, some will know that in ancient times it was a time of fasting, and if you’re called to do that, then do it), but also to take the time to ponder upon the themes of darkness and Light. As regards, the celebration I’m thinking of an Celtic Advent celebration meal at my London place, to start the season. You’re invited. Are you free?

 

Ephemera: It’s Time To Celebrate The First Day Of The Celtic Advent Season

161116-advent-day-1-standard-ephemera

For Celt(ic Christians) in the 6th century, today was the first day of the Celtic Advent season, some forty days before Christmas. It mirrored Lent which leads up to Easter. The Celtic Advent was (and still is) a great season.

So, happy Advent-tide to you and yours. Be blessed.

‘It is now, at Advent, that I am given the chance to suspend all expectation…and instead to revel in the mystery.’ Jerusalem Jackson Greer

In a time when the commercial side of Christmas has a tendency to take over, I like the idea of celebrating the beginning of Advent, today, knowing the Mystery and ancient continuity behind it. It also gives us a longer time to prepare for the coming of Christmas, that is, the real, deep, moving, comforting, spiritual aspect of Christmas, and the meditational aspect of preparation of what is to come.

This Advent, then, can be a time to rest, to accept the struggle, the darkness of the season with short(er) days and longer nights as a reality and see that as a metaphor for our own inner struggles and uncertainties. It is a time for complete honesty and authenticity before the Incarnated One, and a time of expectancy – yes, ripples in time, from the future flow this way, to us; veritable waves of comfort and joy. Christmas is coming. Advent is here!

‘All the element[s] we swim in, this existence, echoes ahead the advent. God is coming! Can’t you feel it? ‘ Walter Wangerin, Jr.

And so, in the 6th century, they would light a candle each day to celebrate the (Celtic) Advent – and there’s an encouragement to us all, perhaps to light a candle, if only for half an hour each evening during this season, and gaze upon it and ponder on the meaning of the Embody-ment, the coming of the Christ at that first ‘Christmas-time’ (and, daily, into our lives!).

‘Advent, like its cousin Lent, is a season for prayer and reformation of our hearts. Since it comes at winter time, fire is a fitting sign to help us celebrate Advent.’ Edward Hays

‘O’ antiphons sang at this time, was another early Celtic tradition. An antiphon, from the Latin ‘antiphona’, meaning ‘sounding against’, was a repeated line of the Bible used as ‘bookends’ to the Psalms in daily Prayer, helping those gathered remember important and relevant parts of Sacred text relevant to this season. Most people would recognise a version of these antiphons as the verses of the Advent carol O Come, O Come Emmanuel. They are still prayed in many churches – as they have been for more than a millennia and a half. Continuity.

I love continuity, especially as you and I, in part by lighting that candle, or singing (or speaking) those ‘O’ antiphons and/or carols and/or Advent prayers,  enter into the stream of the ancestors, that great cloud of witnesses as we do so.

May this eternal truth be always on our hearts,
that the God who breathed this world into being,
placed stars into the heavens,
and designed a butterfly’s wing,
Is the God who entrusted his life
to the care of ordinary people.
[He] became vulnerable that we might know
how strong is the power of Love.
A mystery so deep it is impossible to grasp,
a mystery so beautiful it is impossible to ignore.

(Poem/prayer: http://www.faithandworship.com used Under Creative Commons Licence)

So, a really happy Advent-tide to you and yours. Be blessed.