Tadhg’s Journal: When Prayer Becomes Spell-Work?

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Journal excerpt [A trip down memory lane]: I mix with people from many different backgrounds, faith-groups and ‘tribes’, and welcome the input and learning I gain from their different beliefs and ways of working. I am indebted to them.

‘Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance…’. Hebrews 10:22a. The Book

What they all have in common is a deep belief, and inclusiveness, and a passion. I value that today, and did so, just as much when starting out in matters spiritual, many years ago.

So, there I was (many, many years ago), a member of a ‘one-day’ healing workshop. It was hugely appreciated by me, as I wanted to be both a volunteer for this group as a prayer minister, and learn something from them about prayer, blessing and ministering to others. I was a wee, young man at the time. Maybe, somewhat naïve.

After all the theory and note-taking, and all the sharing in the workshop, and even more theory, we moved into the practical session – for some the least attractive part of the day.

We got into groups of three: for the first practical session, one would be the pray-er, one would be the recipient of the prayer-blessing, and one would observe and share their observations and encourage, afterward.  We would then have two more practical sessions, and swap roles, and in that way all three of us would experience ‘wearing those three different hats’.

Everyone seemed reluctant to be the one to pray first, so even at that early age, I said I’d go first. And I did.
I prayed for Ben. [The name has been changed to protect his anonymity]. The idea was to pray for and bless  the recipient, and for them to report any temperature external-skin changes. Did they feel suddenly hot, suddenly cold etc? Ben, I should point out came from a hugely hyper-hyper, reformed background, where such demonstrations are frowned upon, and had already said he was the kind of person that didn’t experience ‘Divine external experiences’ – never once in his life.

Nevertheless, I prayed. Mildred [the Observer – not her real name] observed. And, Ben ‘received’…..nothing.  Well, nothing external, nothing detectable.

Mildred the Observer reported her ‘findings’ and declared that the prayer didn’t work because Tadhg departed from the healing prayer by changing a few words! I so wanted to thank Mildred for her encouragement – but we were in a holy place.  I was nonplussed. I did ask Mildred, perhaps, it seemed as though nothing happened because Ben was the kind of person who had already declared that he was not the demonstrative type, and he nodded in assent. I also said, the blessing, nevertheless, had been given and we shouldn’t always be so worried about not receiving external ‘signs’. Ben had been blessed, I gently concluded. Ben smiled, assuredly.
‘No!’, said Mildred. ‘It was because you got the wording wrong. You departed from the prayer-formula because you changed a word or two. And, that’s why nothing happened’.

I did admit to changing a word or two, words that better seemed to fit my character, better fitted the situation, and which didn’t change the prayer-request one bit. Mildred was unconvinced.

 

Although of a young age, and somewhat naïve (then), there was something deep inside that informed me not to worry.

 
Changing a word or two in a prayer, if said from the heart, will have the desired effect. The Friend understands.

 
But it did cause me to question, later that day, what was Mildred thinking, when it came to prayer?

‘Be present with your want of Deity, and you shall be present with the Deity.’ Thomas Traherne

If she thought a word or two would change or nullify the prayer, then maybe she saw prayer as:
– magic? (A bit lit a Harry Potter spell, where, if you get the word wrong in a spell, then instead of making someone a price, you turn him into a frog), or
– dependent on her (or me, as I was the pray-er) (Our words, then,  have total power over everyone, including God it seems, and that God cannot or won’t act if the wording is incorrect), or
– a right way to pray and a wrong way etc.
One thing I’ve learned (and hopefully, it’s more than one thing, but I’m only listing one here and now) is this: it doesn’t depend on us!

 

‘When your intentions are pure, so too will be your success.’ Charles F Glassman

My mature Christian friends, as well as my mature Druid, Celtic, Wiccan, Light-worker friends and others, at least those I’ve spoken to, on this matter, seem to agree: it’s intentionality that is important, and the Source that is all-powerful.
If we get the lines wrong, nothing bad is going to happen. Further, if we believe we can get it wrong, we might be deterred from praying or blessing in the first place. If we ‘have the wrong end of the stick’, well, who wants to be turned into a frog?

 

No, its our intentionality that’s important. A prayer or a blessing isn’t a spell that can be mis-cast if we get a word wrong. A prayer is part of our communication with the Other.

 

I was once at a prayer meeting – still young, and so this occurred many years ago. Someone, who had only just joined that church and was new to ‘church circles’, church decorum and church language, took a turn in praying. She started praying about a friend who was really unwell, and she felt this came from the devil (whether that’s so or not, might be the theme of another article).

Sarah [not her real name], stood to pray, got a bit tongue-tied, was full of emotion and passion, and started rambling a little. None of us could hear her properly, not even the minister next to her….until she shouted, ‘Satan ,why don’t you f**k off, and leave my friend alone’. The minister heard her, I heard her, we all heard her. I loved Sarah for her authenticity in that prayer meeting, and I admit to trying to stifle a wry smile. I do believe God heard her.

‘May your prayer of listening deepen enough to hear in the depths the laughter of God.’  John O’Donohue

But, did God hear her prayer? Did he honour it? I like to think he did. I don’t think that that prayer went unanswered because an ‘unusual’ form of wording was used. I don’t think he ignored Sarah because she used a rude word. Her intentions were pure.

Of Course, our prayers are not Harry Potter-like spells. Intentionality is important in our prayers – and we should never fear to pray because we might not know  the words and get a word or two wrong, and yet many do fear. That’s a shame.

‘Pray continually…’ 1 Thessalonians 5:17, The Book.

 

[Apologies that the spacing on this article seems ‘odd’. I’m working on it]

Celtic Thought For The Day #11: Better, Together!

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I have a theory. If you want to be successful, hang around successful people. If you want to be clever, hang out where clever people go. And, if you want to be wise, then….well, you get the picture. It’s like osmosis, almost – we can soak up all those good things when in company.

I’m better off in company, than living a solitary life. [Please don’t misunderstand me: sometimes we need to draw aside, and some are called to the solitary life, but not me.] How about you?

And, that’s where you come in. I’m not going to ask you, if you’re thinking about me, to press the ‘like’ button and cut and paste, to prove it – oh, how I dislike it when asked to do that.

I want to just take this time to say thankyou, for frequenting my posts and/or locality so that I can benefit from your company, and learn from you. To date: I’ve benefitted from Light-workers, from Druids, Wiccan, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu friends and even evangelical Christians, oh and atheist friends, too, and others that I haven’t mentioned, but who are much-loved.

Better, together? Outside of your ‘tribe’, who are you grateful for?

A Fivefold Blessing For You: Refreshing Rain

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We live in a fast-paced age. It used to be that news would travel across the Atlantic, say, in a week and around the world in several weeks or even months, and then it took only hours with the telegraph; and today, with the internet, global news is simultaneous.

If the news is of murders and riots, famine, war or disease etc, it can be depressing. There is little time for reflection when everything is simultaneous. Little time to prepare oneself when the news is broadcast on tv, and enters straight into the living room. Little time to process the news, and assess the way in which we’re affected by those continual ‘negative jolts’.

We can suffer from ‘mean world syndrome’, become tired, over-anxious, exhausted and bewildered – what some might call ‘soul fragmentation’ or ‘soul loss’, and more so if we’re involved in the healing or creative arts, or some other (people-orientated) spiritual ministry.

Some are called to a life of solitude, but if you’re anything like me, you move between the mundane and the spiritual – but know that there is, really, no separation.  And, so, it is easy, then, to become ‘drained’ (and not even know it!).

There are times when it’s necessary to pause, just for a little while, and maybe, now, is just such a time for you? Time to pause and ‘re-charge’ those ‘batteries’, ready for the next instalment of this wonderful adventure called life.

I like liturgy – what we say is powerful. With a word all that is visible and invisible, was made!

And, so here’s an intentional, from-the-heart blessing (a sort of ’emergency repair kit’ for the soul) if you are weary, or in need of that much-needed ‘pause’ or need a refreshing energy influx;  from me to you, especially.

A fivefold blessing:

When the earth calls out to you, and reminds you of your vulnerabilities and hurts,
may there grow a mighty tree of strength and righteousness to quell your fears.

When the sea rages, and all you feel is the wrath of other people’s anger,
may refreshing rain fall kindly upon your soul to comfort and calm you.

When life’s winds blow loud and hard, and knock you off your feet,
may you hear the Voice, the Spirit, the Awen, the bat kol, speaking gentle words of encouragement in your ear.

When the sun scorches, and tests all that you once held dear,
may the moon, that pale, gentle, downward-looking face, smile upon you, to reassure you that you are not alone.

And may the Friend,
the Giver of Life,
the One who cares for all,
forever bless you in indescribable ways.

 

Celtic Wisdom: The Caim

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The caim is a profound ‘circling’ prayer used by ancient Celts and others over the millennia. It is still used by latter-day Celts, some Churches who value its benefits, and by some wiccans, pagans, light-workers, mystics and fellow-druids friends known to me. Even, Evangelicals.

Yes, it can be used by anyone who knows the value of prayer.

The word caim is gaelic, and it has to do with ‘protection’ or ‘sanctuary’; it is derived from the root word meaning ‘circle’, to bend, or turn, and this becomes apparent when you start forming the caim.

Introduction

The rudiments of forming a caim are known to us, but much detail was not recorded or has been lost in the mists of time. I like to think it was the former, and that those who used the caim of old, didn’t want to legislate the minutiae of what should be done.

Rather, they wanted to pass on the idea and deep spiritual concept, the essentials, so that it could be purposely adapted to suit the group or individual using it in the future, and its contents changed to meet the circumstances or need of the pray-er, and so would remain vibrant.

It’s flexible.

Many, today, use a minimalist approach to the caim. This is:

  • making a caim and
  • using one of the prepared three-fold prayers, see the appendix, especially (but not only) when incorporating it in a formal, group service of some kind, and
  • closing the caim.

The minimalist approach is good, and is a great place to start, but there’s so much more to it, and so I’d also like to take your further on this exciting adventure.

Bearing in mind we have been left the essentials of the caim, I’ve found most benefit is derived, for me, when I ‘fuse’ it with something else: with creative visualisation to form an innovative variation.

That is, I use imagination.

In using imagination, I see this as thought-intentionality, to complement my words of any prayer said. I would encourage you to try the same.

Imagination? The I Am has given each one of us a great imagination, one to be used. Indeed you use your imagination when you watch tv. You might be watching a thriller or ‘spooky’ movie and suddenly someone or something jumps out of the shadows in the storyline, and you flinch. You do that because you’re engrossed in the movie; yes, your imagination was at work. It’s as though you were ‘in’ the movie. Such is the power of imagination.

Imagination is also at work when advertisers show you sun-drenched beaches for your prospective holiday on tv or in the newspaper. You imagine you’re there. You also use your imagination, when, say, you’re planning a big event and need to think about the decor, food, gifts etc. Or, maybe youre an artist, a writer, like to journal, or are a musician, or even just ‘doodle’? None of that would happen without imagination.

And, you can use your imagination here, in the caim, as a force for good. You can use it to draw near and encounter, to bless others, and bless yourself in a ‘visual‘ manner. It’s a win-win situation.

It may feel strange or ‘forced’ at first, but do persevere and do try it several times. Don’t be too analytical as you experience the caim (as to be analytical means you ‘jump out’ of the experience – a sort of ‘are we there yet’ event, which usually means ‘no’!). Don’t make it into a chore, but, rather, enjoy the adventure.

Many times my prayer time resembled a shopping list with the word ‘Amen’ tacked onto the end. I wanted something more. Something deeper. To spend more time with the Holy One. To ‘see’ afresh, in my minds eye. The caim was one answer.

So, find a place where you won’t be disturbed, and,  do mute the mobile phone. Take some time to centre yourself – that is, to slow down your mind and just lightly enter that ‘inner space’, that dreamy-state of the mind. Relax. You are always in control, but surrender. At this point, it is best to keep your eyes open.

Making a caim

As you stand (and it can be outdoors or indoors, in a room in your house etc) extend your arm, point to the floor, (say about four to six feet away from your body) and slowly turn your body through a full circle. There, you’re inscribing an invisible, imaginal circle, the caim.

As I stand in a candle-lit the room (and one that I use as a study, a sanctuary, and where discerning men and women come for liminal sessions with me), I stand and quieten my mind. There is no rush.

After a few minutes, I point to the floor. I have already marked out a circle, about six foot (2 metres) in diameter, with rocks (which are just smaller than my fist, and which can be removed later), and slowly I turned my body, revolving 360 degrees. I like to face east, but the choice is yours. I start off facing east and end up facing east. I also like to turn deosil, clockwise to begin the caim.

Sometimes I have a chair in that circle of stones to use after turning 360 degrees, but today I’m standing.

Stage 1: The Separation

Now, it may be good to close your eyes as you enter into the first of three stages, the first being: separation. This is a leaving of worldly distractions, of slowing those thoughts down, and journeying inward to that place of peace, power and potential. You are still in control, but you make an effort not to focus on distractions. Trust me, you will get thoughts of what else you could be doing, who you should have telephoned, or what you should buy at the shops etc, but let them go.

My eyes are closed now, and in my mind’s eye I’m imagining that I’m journeying inward to a comfortable and safe place, a place that is full of power and potential. I slow my breathing, quieten my mind, and over the next few minutes enter a state of ‘rest’. I’m metaphorically journeying toward the Source, God.

Stage 2: Transition or ‘Gap’ Time

The space that you’ve entered is liminal space, the imaginal realm. Some like to call it the realm of the imagination, and that’s okay. For me, I like to call it the imaginal realm, as in our culture, when one talks of the imagination it is perceived as a place of pure fantasy and unreal.

That place, the imaginal realm, to me, is as real as the physical realm.

It is an intermediary space between the physical realm (which we can all relate to and understand – it is the place of the body) and the ouranic realm (the place of the spirit, where all that is good and holy originates).

‘ I looked for someone among them who would…stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land…but I found no one. Ezekiel 22: 30 (part), the Book

The imaginal realm is the place of the soul. To me, it is ‘the gap’, a place of encounter that the Ancients boldly wrote about.

I feel safe, I feel ‘cocooned’ from all that is happening in the world about me. I am at peace within this circle. For me, I have inscribed a circle of the floor around me, but it is a circle when it touches the floor; I perceive it as a bubble of power, big enough to encapsulate me and more. It is, to me, the ‘closet’ or ‘room’ that  the Christ said we should enter.

Some, may like to pray an already-written prayer (only) at this stage (see appendix), and then move onto the final stage, that is stage three. This is the minimalist approach, but I like to go deeper. How about you? There is nothing to fear.

If we accept that there is place of Bliss which is, symbolically, a higher plane, then we need to use some of that power. And so, I raise both hands for about a minute, and visualise the blossom of golden trees, and the pollen of golden plants falling on me, power from on high. Not mine, but belonging to That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves.

There is no rush. Just enjoy the experience. If you find it difficult to visualise, or if nothing seems to happen, do continue, and don’t worry. Even if we don’t experience anything, I do believe things are happening, and I do believe it’s our intentionality that counts, and all this is rewarded by the great Rewarder of All.

The woman in great need, pushed through the crowd and, ‘…came up behind Jesus and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.“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.”… Luke 8:45-46 (part), the Book.

We’re in a place of peace, power and potential, a place between the physical realm and the ouranic realm; and each of us in that place are intercessors. We’re standing in the ‘gap’ between the physical realm and the Other.

I lower my hands now. And wait for a minute or two.

Now, I like to hold my hands, gently, in front of me, as though I’m holding something. In my imagination I am holding something – a power-blessing. I like to mould it, and shape, and imagine it to be the size of a football.

Hopefully, you’ve already decided who you’re going to prayer for. It could be for a specific person in need, an event that has happened that has caused a major upset, or it could be a prayer for a future event, the locality, a sad event somewhere else on the planet, it could be an ecological need. Whatever the need is, the caim is a good spiritual ‘tool’ to use.

Whatever the need is, I imagine it outside this safe ‘bubble’.

And then, I like too ‘push’ that power-blessing in the direction I’ve imagined that that person or event to be. You don’t have to be locationally accurate – it’s the intention that’s important.

And, just to redouble my effort, I imagine that I have to use my body to sway back and forth, gently, for a minute, as if you really ‘push’ that power-ball of prayer-blessing to the recipient or location. I don’t do an exaggerated ‘push’ as though I’m meeting resistance – there is no resistance, here – but I like to be intentional about that ‘push’.

You might even want to vocalise who, or for what, the power-blessing was for, and the desired outcome. ‘Help [name],’ or ‘Heal [name] etc.

And, off it goes….and arrives immediately. You might imagine the desired effect already taking place, even though it may take some time in the physical realm to come about. This is faith.

And so, I lower my hands. And relax. The power-blessing has gone out. I give gratitude in my heart to the Parent of Lights, for enabling me to be a conduit.

But, there’s more.

As I stand, and continue to face the direction that that power-blessing was sent. I wait for a minute or so. With my arms out, at shoulder height, I wait. I breathe deeply several times in anticipation, believing that what was sent out, comes back – although it may work its way out in my life in a different way to that original power-blessing, I do believe it comes back as a ‘gift’ so that we also benefit.

I do believe a blessing comes back to the sender, in one form or another, immediately or some time in the future. And, that’s one good reason to send out something positive, rather than something negative.

I inhale to, metaphorically, accept the return blessing.

Just a little more!

Time for more gratitude to the Power who supplies all that we need. Here you can add vocal prayers, vocal praise, vocal gratitude. I, then, lower my arms.

It’s about time for us to return and leave the imaginal realm, that liminal place.

Stage Three: The Return

This is really a reversal of stage one, and is something that need not be rushed. Take a minute or two to still your mind. Just bask in the closeness of your encounter…even if you can’t feel anything. The Friend is close.

As you stand there, allow your breathing to return to normal, slowly open your eyes, perhaps not focussing on anything in particular, but just ease yourself back to that former state.

With my eyes open, I point to that circle, I used stones, but you can point to where the invisible circle, the one you inscribed earlier, is.

Slowly I turn my body through 360 degrees. I like to face east, and so face east once I’ve gone full circle. But, I move in the opposite direction this time – anti-clockwise (or widdershins, as it is known) – to close the caim.

And then I wait for another minute, and leave the circle.

If the outline I’ve used seems overly complex, don’t be deterred. It’s the way I choose to use the caim, and it comes naturally, having done it many times. Use it as a framework, but not as a rigid formula. You will develop your own ‘habits’, and then you’ll find, over time, most of them, as you perform the caim, will change, but that’s okay. You cannot make a mistake. It’s all about intentionality.

The caim is a spiritual ‘tool’ for you to use – one amongst many – and not a magical formula that won’t work unless you get it absolutely right. Adapt it, and use it to best serve you needs, and that of others.

That’s it. Well almost.

A Gesture To ‘Ground’ The Power-Blessing, And More

Having sent out an power-blessing, there is always some work to be done, to work towards making the prayer come about, in the physical realm. I do believe the One Who Answers Prayer does indeed answers prayer, but I also know that people like you and me, are used to bring it about, and that is an amazing privilege.

It doesn’t mean that you have to do everything to bring about that specific power-blessing, but just be open to work towards it.

We need to do something in the physical realm, after using the caim. Even a small gesture is good.

For instance, if you’ve prayed for someone to get though their exams, the action now needed might be that you give them some verbal encouragement, rather than, say, spending days teaching them. If someone is not well, maybe a get well card could be sent to them. If you’ve prayed for assistance to rectify an environmental calamity in another part of the world, you don’t have to sell everything and visit that place, but it could be that you might consider sending a small amount of money to a relief agency, as a gesture.

You don’t have to do it all by yourself – a small gesture to ‘ground’ that prayer-blessing, and ‘cement’ that intentionality, maybe, is all that is needed.

And, all action should be legal, decent, honest, borne out of love, and with a healthy ‘dollop’ of common-sense added for good measure.

I also usually journal

I like to record what I’ve used the caim for, and what I’ve done, practically, ‘to ground’ that prayer. It’s always good to look back, and see what a difference you have made, or may have made, and add the outcome to the journal. If you see no tangible outcome, then write that at a latter date, but I do believe you can, and have, made a difference, even if you can’t see it.

If you want more information or have a question, or have tried the caim (perhaps for the first time and want to share your experience), please do contact me. I also lead workshops about the caim and other liminal events (in physically locations, as well as online via skype, individually and in groups).  Email: tadhg@tadhg.cymru

Regards

Tadhg

 

Appendix: For introductory set prayers (if needed):

If you’re praying for a need that you have, you might like to pray, as a start:

Circle me, Lord. Keep protection near and danger afar.
Circle me, Lord. Keep light near and darkness afar.
Circle me, Lord. Keep peace within; keep evil out.

If you’re praying for someone else, you might like to pray:

Circle (name of the person in need), Lord. Keep (name the good you want revealed) near and (name the negativity you want removed) afar.
Circle (name of the person in need), Lord. Keep comfort near and discouragement afar. Keep peace within and turmoil out.
Circle (name of the person in need), Lord. Keep hope within and despair without.

Confessio #7

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One of my confessions is that…I kiss men. That statement, depending on which part of the world you come from, will either ensure that you stop reading now, or continue because you accept the practice, or are intrigued by what I mean. But, it’s true.

One of my ‘musical heroes’ of yesteryear, sang in nasalised manner, and the song’s refrain was, ‘…for the times they are a-changing’, and I’ve concluded this is so. Especially in the area of male-to-male greeting in Europe.

‘Mange tout, Rodney’, Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter, in ‘Only Fools And Horses’, played by David Jason

I considered myself au fait with such male-to-male greetings and those unwritten rules, but all that has changed, it seems

When you have English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Italian and French, and French-Canadians in the family, and younger and more mature people as well, and then ‘of the land’ eco-warriors, and Druids, and Freemasons, and local council professionals, then in one way or another, male-to-male greeting is much more complex than it used to be.

‘I have become all things to all people…’, Paul in the Book, 1 Corinthians 9:22a

Paul gives some broad principals of adapting to differing settings, but nowhere does he give even a hint about how you weigh up the situation and act accordingly. But that’s Paul. All those letters, and not a word about male-to-male greeting. He must have committed a few faux pas in his time, surely? If so, he knows how I feel.

Let me outline, some of the quandries I found myself in this week alone:

  • I visited my brother at County Hall. He came toward me with his right hand extended. I walked toward him with both arms ready to embrace. Surrounded by officials, what was one expected to do?
  • half way through the large and very formal Church service in the City, they had ‘the peace’! If you have ever experienced that event or similar, it is the ‘Marmite moment: you either love it or hate it. The service lead minister was walking toward me with both arms extended, and I, as service assistant minister, was moving toward him with both arms extended. What would happen?
  • a cousin from Italy arrived that I hadn’t seen for some time. He came toward me, but there was no unusual no arm movement to indicate the style of greeting. But, he’s Italian! What happened next? What was I to do?

What to do?

In the first instance a handshake might be good for the more formal setting but it was a family member. So I hugged. Full embrace. It might have prompted a few grins from onlookers, but I’m sure there are other things for them to worry about, and my greeting was sincere.

In the second instance at the Church service – and I do like ‘the peace’ event – the service lead minister came toward me and we shook hands and half-embraced each other with the ‘free’ arm. A pound hug, I believe it’s called. Some eyebrows were raised at such informality, I’m sure, but hey, I do believe those people will be in for a shock when they get to Heaven. Ofcourse, it’ll be a pleasant one, by definition. One can hardly hate such informally in Heaven. I mean, it wouldn’t be Heaven then, would it?

And finally, my cousin from Italy. Without thinking he embraced me, and I followed suit. It seemed the natural thing to do. And, then we kissed. No, not a lip to lip, tongue-usage kiss, but a ‘southern Mediterranean’ male-to-male kiss on each others cheek. The setting was right. The rule here, it seems is not to pucker up, but briefly rest one cheek against the other. Cheek to cheek momentarily.

I do believe any ‘awkwardness’ I have felt in the past – not now – has been only ‘me’. Others look on without judgement, and even it they did judge, I’m not (now) concerned.

‘In all things, be natural. And don’t feel you have to explain yourself.’ Tadhg

I’ve found that if greetings, such as those mentioned above, come from the heart, and they should, there is no wrong or right way. Just the natural way. Natural male to male greeting. Ofcourse, those from even more widely-separated cultures may experience a shock when visiting Europe, but isn’t it good to experience this culture-shock? It pulls us out of our lethargy, and it encourages us to review what we say and think and do in the presence of others! That uneasiness can be seen on Bush’s face as he’s greeted by the Italian President.

Quelle surprise.

And maybe, one more ‘confession’. I kiss my sons. Their friends are used to it, as are most of the family, but sometimes one or two (distant) family members might query it. But, hey ho!

When I greet my sons and say good-bye they get a kiss on the top of their head. It’s my way – peculiar or not – but its my way of showing fatherly love for my dear sons, and yes, I’ll even go so far as to say it is my way of annointing them, encouraging them, declaring that I’m proud of them, and blessing them. All of that in a kiss, and for me, something that would be miserably lost in a mere handshake.

In all of this male-to-male greeting rule changes I’ve learned to take the lead if the other party seem uncertain, to aim for the more friendly approach rather than the more formal, and to do it from the heart, and then one cannot go wrong. Ofcourse, that encourages some friends in my presence, and unnerves others. Be warned!

Are you going to San Francisco…

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Excerpt from Tadhg’s Journal: I must be getting old. Umm, older. Earlier this morning, as I sauntered through a shopping mall looking for a leaving-gift for someone, the background music was a very old, yet familiar ‘pop’ song. Well, familiar to me.

If you’re going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…

I confess, I sang along, in public (a totally un-Brit thing to do, but typically Welsh), and even added some ‘grace’ notes, too. And, I knew all the words. And now I know I’m old – you see, I really didn’t care if I was overheard! Ah, peace man!

That got me reminiscing as I took my time over a cup of coffee in The Magic Café.

Do you know, when I was at school and aged about nine, so that’s going back a few years, one of my favourite hymns – yes, in those days school assembly each day consisted of at least a prayer or two and a hymn –  was by Percy Dearmer. I always thought his surname was Dreamer (and I liked the sound of that, even more), but there you go. Part of the hymn’s verse was, and still is stirring, Truth-laden stuff.

Jesus shared all our pain, lived and died, rose again,
rules our hearts, now as then for he came to save us
by the truth he gave us…

Oh, I love that hymn, and it’s very apt for this Easter time. Strident, strong piano chords (staccato), awesome words, and the memory of little children, including myself at that time, singing aloud. A great memory. Wonderful. I know a recollection like that is personal and may not mean much to you, but it was a time of innocence for me. The innocence of childhood. Ah, innocence!

And then, one of my son’s friends had a birthday recently, and showed a photo of their birthday party at McDonald’s many years ago.

I’m lovin’ it.

Tempus fugit. Part of me reminisced. What had I done with all those years and wouldn’t it be good to get them back? Actually, they are full of great memories, some happy, some albeit sad, that nevertheless I wouldn’t like to lose.  So I’m happy with tempus fugit – the fact that time flies, but maybe it could slow down just a little from now? Ah, happiness.

Peace, innocence, happiness! At this time of the year I would suggest that you take just a few minutes to look back, give thanks and express that gratitude. Peace. Innocence. Happiness. Gifts from above, to all.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.
[John O’Donohue]

To all my family, to all my friends: Christian (of every ‘flavour’ near and far), Jewish faith, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, (Neo)Pagan, Druid, Shaman, Wiccan and others that I know and love, my prayer is that Godly-peace, innocence and happiness, at this Easter time be yours.

Blessings from Tadhg.

The Voice…

02 BODYPRAYER  confession 6

From an interrupted, shallow sleep I awoke early,
and walked into the night, as if called by a Voice deep within.

The Voice?
An elemental? An ancestor? My imagination? Bat kohl?

The air was cold and damp,
the darkness seemed to envelope me,
the trees ‘closed in’, and all was quiet.
Nothing stirred.
Nothing at all.
And with some trepidation,
into a forest clearing I slowly strode.

A fallen tree provided a seat,
and I sat, and waited.
The air felt ‘electric’ as though something would happen,
like a ‘silent storm’ approaching.
And I waited. And shivered.
Waited. And got damp.
Waited.
And then from within, or without,
almost undetectable, a quiet, loving, voice was heard.

The Voice.
Slowly, unhurriedly, powerfully, the Voice said:

“As above, so below,
there are things you should know.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Voice? An angel? The Deity? Awen?

Shrove Tuesday & Ash Wednesday

000000 standard ash confession word face pexels TIME 111 SML wristwatch copy

This Wednesday is special. It’s Ash Wednesday, and I love it.

It’s also the first day of Lent. Why is it called Lent? Lent is an old English word meaning ‘lengthen’, and so Lent, observed in spring, is when the days begin to get longer.

It is the time before Easter which is used as a time of fasting, to ‘mirror’ the time of fasting Jesus did in the desert some two thousand years ago.

Have you ‘given up’ anything? Some, people give up a bad habit, some give up something they really desire as an act of surrender to the will, others use the time to ‘add’ something positive to their lifestyle to benefit others or themselves, such as reading a good, appropriate book for the season. Try it! But, make it a spiritually-founded activity.

“Lent is a time to renew wherever we are in that process that I call the divine therapy. It’s a time to look what our instinctual needs are, look at what the dynamics of our unconscious are.” Thomas Keating

So, why is it called Ash Wednesday? This Wednesday, using the ashes, usually from last years palms from Palm Sunday, ashes are put on the forehead as a blessing, in the sign of the cross. Sometimes, as the ashes are put on the forehead, the words, ‘”Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”, are recited by the one anointing, but not always. But, it is a blessing.

I really like the idea of taking the ashes-blessing ritual being taken outdoors. In the last few years some churches have done just this – going into towns and marketplaces to anoint people, passers-by, even drivers with ashes. ‘Ashes to go’! See photo at the top of the page.

“The first person that I see on Ash Wednesday with a cross on their forehead always scares the living daylights out of me until I remember.” Unknown quote.

And, as an side, all this is preceded by Shrove Tuesday. Why is it called Shrove Tuesday? Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the ritual of ‘shriving’ that Christians used to undergo in the past. In shriving, a person confesses their sins and receives absolution for them.

And so Shrove Tuesday is a time when traditionally one would use up various goods, celebrate before the sombre period of Lent starts, and traditionally it is known as ‘Pancake Day’, here. Why, there were even Pancake races! Pancake races are thought to have begun in AD 1445. A woman had lost track of the time, it is said, on Shrove Tuesday, and was busy cooking pancakes in her kitchen. Suddenly she heard the church bell ringing to call the faithful to church for confession. The woman raced out of her house and ran all the way to church; still holding her frying pan and wearing her apron.

Pancakes here (at least for Shrove Tuesday), being a simple affair of a thin batter of flour and eggs cooked in the pan, over which a little lemon juice and sugar is poured once the pancake is on the plate, and then the whole thing is rolled over. I remember as a child being given several such pancakes, after dinner on Shrove Tuesday as a treat, and loved them. and now many years latter, i still follow that tradition and love the memories it rekindles Try it!

Ofcourse, there is the spiritual side of it.

Ash Wednesday: Time to reflect and share our thanks, for this is the time that we remember the greatest sacrifice.

So, this Shrove Tuesday, celebrate the good things in life, make yourself a pancake or two, or at least reflect upon the good things in life; and then on Wednesday, remember Lent is a time of abstinence, priorities and taking stock of your life and lifestyle, and so you can enter into a 40 day period of deep reflection. Try it!

Be An Undercover Agent For The Day

pixabay wall-e-933315_640 copyHave you ever had one of those days when nothing seemed to turn out right?

One of those days when people annoy you – could the bus driver care any less as I got on the bus, or did that car driver really have to cut in like that and at great speed? Blame!

Or what about when  events conspire against you – did those birds really have to ‘bless’ my car with the contents of what they ate? I blame the birds or the council department that planted so many trees in an urban environment. Blame!

Or, what about when you turn on the tv news program – was that right, that someone, a sportsperson and so much fitter than me, and two-thirds my age had just passed on? I blame competitive sports councils or God? Blame!

The problem with blaming others is that it is a very real, and very potent form of attack, and it doesn’t solve anything. Infact, it probably makes matters worse.

And, on top of that, at the end of the day, you relax and reflect, and then you have a sneaking suspicion that it just seemed a bad day because of your perception. There’s a nagging feeling of…something amiss!.

Somewhere, deep inside you, there’s a voice that so wants to recite all the good things that happened – you can just feel it – but you oppose it. And, why not, you say to yourself, after all, you’ve invested so much time and effort  in one point of view, the negative, that you’re just not going to change your mind.  It was an awful day, you say to yourself.

It was an awful day, or was it? Someone else should be blamed, or not? Was it just that we were looking for the negative things, and didn’t even notice the good. And, if we’re honest, it’s more than likely that lots of good things did happen, but we were just suffering from the twenty-first psychological ‘ailment’ that we’re all subjected to, of ‘mean world syndrome’.

Could it be that what we saw, all those negative things, was a reflection of how we felt deep  down inside, or maybe it’s an unwelcome habit or tendency we’re prone to? Why, then might start to blame ourselves? Blame!

The problem with self-blame is that it is self-attack, it enhances that negative cycle as we misperceive the world around us, and it doesn’t solve anything. Once in the cycle of negativity and blame, it’s difficult to break out of it – but not impossible.

What if there was another way to react?

Here’s one spiritual exercise you can try – and that I sometimes use in group workshops, usually at the end of the session, so it’s like homework, but good homework. It’s about stopping the blame game, forgiving and blessing because we ‘see’ the bigger picture (but sometimes forget).

I think you’ll enjoy the exercise – it’s a bit of fun, too.  And hopefully you’ll benefit from it, so I do heartily recommend that you try it.

So, sit back, relax, enjoy, read and imagine…

— o0o —

Here’s one exercise, from many. This one is about you forgiving other people and forgiving yourself in the process, and blessing others. You can it try right now. Imagine:

You come from a far off country, and the Ruler of that country is called The Celestial Toymaker. And he or she has sent you on a mission, here. Yes, you’re an undercover agent. A good one.

Everyone here, everyone you will meet today is a toy robot, made by the Celestial Toymaker, and that includes you. And, all those robot toys you meet today will provide you with endless hours of amusement – that’s what toys do – unless they’ve forgotten that they are toys in which case their programming may go awry. Then, you may find they don’t provide you with any entertainment at all, and some of them, on occasions, may irritate you.

You might find it easy to react badly back to them, but you know two things. Firstly, they’re only acting that way because they’ve forgotten they are toy robots and so misbehave. And secondly, you know that you’re a toy robot and so know that you don’t have to ‘misbehave’ back to them because you know you’re a toy robot – though you also know you sometimes forget (and that affects fellow toy robots that you then come into contact with).

The Celestial Toymaker has asked you to contact him (or her) with a progress report as you encounter all those toy robots, today.

There is only one thing to do, well two things really, and these form your mission, today. Here is your mission, should you choose to accept it.

  • Firstly, if you come across a misbehaving toy robot, one that annoys or upsets you – remembering that this behaviour is only because they’ve forgotten who they really are, and have forgotten the Celestial Toymaker – you are to report to the Celestial Toymaker using certain code words. And these are, ‘I forgive you’. This can be done as a thought-communication, rather than out loud, so no one (apart from the Celestial Toymaker) will know. He (or she) will then know you are forgiving a wayward toy robot, and will work on that misbehaving toy robot in the most gracious of ways.
  • Secondly, if you come across a toy robot that pleases you in any way, then the coded report to the Celestial Toymaker that will alert him (or her) to the fact that you’ve encountered a well-behaved toy robot is, ‘Bless you’. The Celestial Toymaker will know that you have found a well-behaved toy robot, and will bless them, too.

Ofcourse, once you’ve sent that coded message you can interact with those toy robots in any appropriate way – working well with the behaved ones, and extending forgiveness and understanding to the wayward ones. After all, the Celestial Toymaker is ultimately in control.

And, you’ll also notice that the Celestial Toymaker will bless you, because of your faithfulness, and because he (or she) loves all his toy robots. Every single one of them. Even the ones that go wrong. Bless them!

So, fellow agent, fellow toy robot, do you accept your mission? I hope so. Try it for twenty-four hours. Imagine, a whole day of ‘forgiving’ and/or ‘blessing’ fellow toy robots.