A Day On Winchester Cathedral And The Great Hall: Celtic And Arthur Etc


Oh, ok, it’s different to what I normally do.

I spend most of the time for Winchester Cathedral and Winchester’s Great Table, on last Wednesday. Wonderful. I will use other history, and poets etc, but only mention part of it today. But, it’s awesome history.

Celtic
The first bit of Winchester is the appear of its the Iron Age, from about around 150BC, establishing by both a hill fort and also a trading settlement. Winchester was the exclusive home of the Celtic Belgae tribe.

Winchester Cathedral.
The small of Winchester is for the early to the cathedral – the part of the stone – is about 4ft to 4ft (and about 2ft high) – is the amazed for 650AD. See the photo below.

Winchester appears in early Welsh literature was called as Cair Guinntguic or Caerwynt. Over 800AD and again 1100AD was given as new names.

Alfred the Great (848/49 – 26 October 899) was King of the West Saxons and was King of Angel-Saxons from about 886 to 899. For those status from was from about from 200-250 year seen from above – see the above status, please.

(Original)
Gif her ðegna hwelc ðyrelne kylle 
brohte to ðys burnan, bete hine georne, 
ðy læs he forsceade scirost wætra, 
oððe him lifes drync forloren weorðe. 

(Today)
(‘If any man has brought here a leaky pitcher
to this stream, let him repair it speedily,
so that he may avoid spilling the clearest of waters
or losing the drink of life.’)

An administrator Alfred came from advocated, justice and order and established a code of laws and a reformed coinage. See the status at the beginning of the photo at the statue above – showing part of him on Alfred

If more was given to more new times – those 1150AA more so. See more below and below it.

The (Winchester) Great Hall
The Great Hall is about 35ff long, and is 18ft wide, and it was beautiful from 1222 and 1235AD. The Round Table, though photo view by my, see the photo below, is said to be almost 800AD and 1200kg.

There King Arthur is at the top, and 24 knights are mention – Sir Galahad knight is number at number 1, Sir Lancalot are number two, as the the both liked numbers of part of like of part of number 1 for the clock.

Merlin was not added in this being added then, but there knights were addressed after King Arthur, such as:

  • King Arthurs seen as between the 24 Knights
  • Sir Galahad (Son of Sir Lancelot)
  • Sir Lancelot
  • Sir Gawain
  • Sir Percivale
  • Sir Lionell
  • Sir Tristram de Lyones
  • Sir Gareth
  • Sir Bedivere
  • Sir Bleoberis
  • Sir Lacotemale Taile
  • Sir Lucan
  • Sir Palomedes
  • Sir Lamorak
  • Sir Bors de Ganis
  • Sir Safer
  • Sir Pelleas
  • Sir Kay
  • Sir Ector de Maris
  • Sir Dagonet
  • Sir Degore
  • Sir Brunor le Noir
  • Sir Lebius Desconneu
  • Sir Alymere
  • Sir Mordred

As mentioned, only a little was added about Winchester. But, I hope you liked it – Winchester is about 25 miles from the sea, and that is about half way between south and north, in the south of England.

(All parts of photo are shown by myself).

The Caim (Review)

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

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 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 Ichoose 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: tadhgtemp@gmail.com

Bless you, Tadhg.

Word Search Puzzle: Celtic & Welsh #1

I thought a word search – with you and I finding the up or down or diagonal words from Celtic or Druid words – might be fun of the twelve words on the right list from Druid to Alban Hefin for the summer solstice, or bandraoi as the female Druid, or dorchau pen (head wreath) etc.

Word Search Puzzle #1: Celtic & Druid: English & Welsh
I’ve fondly looked of word searches over the last six months, and I think using them can be useful for all/most of us, as well as them being fun, and doubly for me because of aphasia by my myself.

So, do let me know if you like the word search, please. Maybe you can find out how many minutes and seconds if might be take you to see twelve ‘competitions’ it might take you (to yourself) or letter an email to me so we’re not competitive.

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

MOON 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Celtic Advent: Even More Cosmic Thoughts At The Magic Cafe

20191114 EVEN MORE COSMIC THOUGHTS AT THE MAGIC CAFE CELTIC ADVENT

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.’ Helen Keller

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 parts of the UK have even had a dusting of snow.

Anticipation just hangs in the air as autumn gives way to winter, or is my ‘inner child’ even more overactive than usual? As I sit in the Magic Café in Fulham, London I read and drink coffee, and talk to friends that come and go. There’s much talk about politics and the impending election, which way to vote, should one vote tactically, and what of the future. There is a sense that the very soul of the nation is at stake for generations to come.

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

And yet, without minimising such day to day concerns about politics, for in many cases it is within the mundane that myth, magic and miracles take place, there is more.

Yes, the Celtic Advent is here.

Celtic Advent is always 15 November to 24 December, Christmas Eve, and it was a time of fasting and preparation that mirrored Lent which was celebrated in the lead up to Easter. But, I’d like to suggest something a bit different.

Whether you are a Christian, Celt, Druid or of some other belief, or a blend of two or more, this is a good time to prepare in the lead up to Christmas or the Winter Solstice.

Advent for many, is a time of pondering the cosmic significance of darkness, a turning of the great Circle and the seasons change, a time of personal preparation, a time to go deeper, a time of expectation.

It is at this time of the year that nature seemingly dies. Death is something the ancients didn’t fear, and this time of the year for them would be a time of remembrance and storytelling as regards the ancestors. What about us?

‘Praise to you Keeper of those I love and can no longer see.
I have entrusted to you the care that was mine once to give,
the embrace that was mine once to feel,
the story that was mine once to share.
Praise you for the love that I can never be separated from.
For even with the last fallen leaf and the flowers gone,
those I have loved are not under the earth,
they are here in my heart, they are here.’

Tess Ward, The Celtic Wheel Of The Year

And then, the season moves on and culminates in a time of joyful commemoration as Light wonderfully enters the world at the time of the Winter Solstice and/or Christmas.

As the days grow darker, it’s Light that we look forward to.

‘Counsellor of my soul, you quicken my soul’s progress this Winter day by the strength of your example. I look forward to your light to help me discover the track of the day’s question’. Caitlin Matthews, Celtic Devotional.

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.

You might like to consider reading a page a day of a book you read some time ago, or use the links below once a day to set your day up with an uplifting word or thought for the Celtic Advent.

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 the hype from 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. So, perhaps it maybe best to use this time to slow, reflect and take on board on a thought for the day (see below)?

‘Be aware of the ancestral teachers, the grandparents and elders of the spiritual traditions, whose footsteps have kept the pathways open.’ Caitlin Matthews, Celtic Devotional.

And, so in this cafe, having just packed away the Halloween decorations ten days or so ago, they’re now unpacking boxes of Christmas decorations. 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.

‘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. So far as possible, slip beyond the rational (not into irrationality, but towards the arational, beyond rationality) for a while.

As regards, the celebration I’m thinking of an Celtic Advent celebration some time into the season and maybe couple it with a ‘telling place’ experience: a time of imagination and story, perhaps at the Magic Cafe one evening. Time to reflect. Time to go deeper. Time to encounter the imaginal and be transformed. Time for community. You’re invited. Are you free? Details soon.

If you’re interested on taking on one ‘extra’ thing, such as a thought for each day, for this season, here’s some links that you might like to dip into daily during this season:

BBC Radio 4 Thought For The Day: Here

A Forty Day Pilgrimage through the Advent Season with Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Saints: Here

Celtic advent calendar: Here

Contemporary and Ancient Celtic Blessings: Here

Meanwhile, many blessings of the Celtic Advent to you and to those whom you love. Tadhg.

 

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.

 

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.

 

An Encounter With Vulpes Vulpes In London: Nature In An Urban Environment

20180619 AN ENCOUNTER WITH VULPES VULPES

Last night was one of those evenings where it occurred to me that I had been sedentary for far to long.

It was approaching midnight, and I had emailed a few urgent emails, completed a liturgy for an upcoming handfasting of two wonderful people, had watched the football on tv, and had just picked up a book to read. Sedentary, that the thought that occurred to me. It was if my whole body was experiencing restless leg syndrome and not just my legs, and it yearned for movement.

The best option seemed to be to go for a walk, and that’s what I did.

I’m back in the city, in my small ground floor maisonette in a central London borough, which nestles very close to the River Thames. I am surrounded by city parks, an abundance of wonderful cafes, and densely packed housing, And so, with the thought of movement in mind, I strode manfully out of the door at midnight.

’Solvitur ambulando.’ A Latin phrase meaning, ‘It is solved by walking.’

The streets, well at least the side streets, here, and not the main road in the distance, were deserted, empty of people and devoid of moving cars. It felt great to be in the city and yet have space to myself. Surrounded by thousands of people and yet no one in sight. Oh the people were there. Inside their houses, curtains drawn, and in some the light from the tv flickering away was perceptible, but only just, as I walked by.

I thought I might walk towards Parsons Green, and to get there I’d have to walk down a long, well-lit side street. It had now just gone midnight, and I was half way along that street, and it felt, unnervingly, as if I was being watched. I purposely stopped, looked around, expecting to see a stalker or some ne’er-do-well, but saw nothing. No one.

’Being a nocturnal creature myself, I often find myself in dark alleys or strange places late at night. If there were werewolves around, I’d be likely to run into them, being the night owl that I am.’ Dean Ambrose

I continued walking, and still the feeling of being watched persisted. I carried on walking and the line of cars parked either side of the road ended. I was passing by a school and the road marking prohibited parking at that point. I walked on about thirty paces further on, giving enough time for my stalker to be denied the shelter of parked cars, and I stopped, turned around in the most untimid manner I could muster, and faced my stalker. And, there he was.

Vulpes Vulpes.

Yes, my stalker, my ‘watcher in the night’, was a rather splendid, well-fed red fox. Fulham has many urban foxes on its street, and most can be heard, or seen, or smelled when they move about at night.

My companion was about twenty (human) paces behind me, and he too, stopped, and just looked at me. I didn’t move a muscle. Not afraid, but I didn’t want to scare this little chap away. I stopped for some time. He remained still.
Looking at me, his little head cocked to one side as if trying to solve a mystery of what I was doing. I felt the urge to do the same, but resisted it.

It is thought that there are about 150,000 foxes in the England. Here in London they scavenge their food from litter bins and so their food is usually an unhealthy diet of human food scraps, consisting of curry, chips, fish fingers and bacon butties, and as were near the Thames, maybe the odd water rat or two. Considered by man to be a nuisance, I have to admit that I am in awe of nature as it pushes back to reclaim, in part, the domain that was once solely its world. And, the fox is a particular favourite. I admit crows come a close second and they can be seen early morning and throughout the day in Fulham, but I love foxes, especially city foxes. And, this particular fox was still looking at me, and had sat down.

Did you know: The red fox is the most common type of fox, but there are about 47 different subspecies of red fox; Foxes belong to the dog family and use similar facial expressions and body postures to pet dogs, such as wagging their tails when greeting family members; Foxes have strong family ties. Young foxes often stay with their parents for a few years and help raise future cubs.

Having watched this wonderful beast for sometime I turned away and carried on walking. But only for a few paces. I stopped and deliberately turned. He had moved, about the same distance I had covered and had stopped when I had stopped, and was still twenty paces behind me. I laughed, and walked on and stopped. I turned and there he was. Twenty paces behind. I was nearing Parsons Green, and so stopped one last time, turned, and…he was gone. I felt a little loneliness creep in, having lost my companion and that feeling of being watched.

There are some who say that when humankind was in its infancy and we lived in peace with all animals, that communication between humans and animals, and vice versa, was possible. Others say that in that world of blurred boundaries, even shape-shifting was possible. Are these ideas true, or metaphorical or romantic? That’s a rhetorical question, as I don’t need an answer as I love mystery, and however we interpret those ancient-world notions, there is always something to learn.

There are some others who believe that animals that appear ‘out of nowhere’ and come unusually close to us are attracted by our inner being, our soul. Have you ever been somewhere and an animal or insect has come close, perhaps too close, and unexpectedly so, to surprise you?

Or, perhaps, they say, the animal companion (for a while) is a manifestation of our soul.

In Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy ‘His Dark Material’, Lyra Belacqua has an (external) animal representation of her (inner) soul which manifests itself as a red moth when she’s a child, but as a red-gold pine marten when she’s an adult.

Or perhaps an unexpected animal, the red fox in this case, is a messenger from That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves (and who cannot but remember those old Sunday School stories of Balaam’s donkey and its urgent spoken message?).

’We need another and wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals…We patronise them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form far below ourselves. And therein we err, and err greatly. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost…living by voices we shall never hear.’ Henry Beston

Being a man in this age, ofcourse I wanted to know. And so, I researched something about the red fox, and sadly discovered that they are generally hated as a terrible nuisance on city streets. Okay, I accept in January, or thereabouts, the cry of the vixen, can sound like a baby’s cry, and can be somewhat unnerving or alarming on city streets, and the result of all those curries they eat does make a mess on the pavement – and what an awful smell! But, they are wonderful creatures.

They have lost much of their habitat to humankind (and if truth be known it is us who are a nuisance to them, as they were her first), are they are sorely misunderstood, and present no real danger. I like the idea of nature ‘pushing back’ in the city, as if to say, ‘I’m still here, and I don’t mind sharing, but just share with me, too, please’.

Understanding wild creatures is one thing, but there’s more. There is a point where we can so draw near to them that we can sense them – and I do believe that being ’watched’ feeling I had, or the surprise you might have had when an animal or inset came unusually close to you, is part of an intuitive sensing and connectedness with that animal that we might experience in short bursts, but our ancient ancestors, druids, celts and others would have experienced it much more or perhaps all the time. Lucien Levy-Bruhl, a French philosopher, calls this ‘participation mystique’ (mystical participation) and it occurs beyond our logical, rational thought processes. It is like a ‘sense’ that we have but seldom use now , but it can be increased by usage, like a muscle, if we choose to exercise it.

Foxes, I believe, are a gift from the Universe, from That Which Is Bigger Than Us, and are a reminder that nature is abundant and beneficent, ubiquitous (even in the city) and to be enjoyed, and can be understood at a cerebral and knowledge-level, but also by that ‘sensing’, by taking hold of that mystical participation of deep connectedness at a soul level that our ancestors possessed.

And so, I’m almost back home, having completed my walk. I’ve walked for almost an hour, my fox-companion is nowhere to be seen, the streets are still deserted, but I am left wondering: just a chance encounter, a shape-shifter, an outward reflection of my inner soul, or a guardian of some kind who kept me safe from an otherwise dangerous event, or a messenger from Beyond? Thank God for Vulpes Vulpes.

What was the meaning of that encounter? No, don’t answer it. I want to revel in the mystery of not knowing cerebrally, as it brings me (and us) closer to the Mystery.

 

 

The Caim 1: Personal Experience

20180608 THE CAIM 1 PERSONAL EXPERIENCEMany times in the (distant) past my time of prayer or ritual-liturgy time more resembled a shopping list of wants with the word ‘Amen’ or ‘So be it’ tacked onto the end of it. I really wanted something more, something deeper, something more meaningful. I wanted to spend more time with the Source Of All, to ‘see’ afresh, in my mind’s eye.

CAIM 11

The caim was one answer.

This evening I went into the study, closed the door and ensured I wouldn’t be disturbed. I made a space in the middle of the room and marked out a circle of about 5-6ft diameter, with pebbles. and lit a candle.

Tonight I was to use the caim to send healing-power to a friend in need, and what follows is a personal account of one use of the caim, among many.

With no other light the candle-light is soft and soothing, and so encourages a meditative state. By lighting the candle I marked this time as different, special, and the beginning of something new. Sacred-space time.

The caim is a profound ‘circling’ prayer or ritual-liturgy

It was used by Celts of old, and by others. It is still used in various forms 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. Individuals as well as groups. Yes, it can be used by anyone who knows the value of prayer or ritual-liturgy.

As I stand in a candle-lit the room, I quieten my mind, and relax.

After a few minutes, I point to the floor.

I have already marked out a circle with small pebbles, and, as I point (and sometimes use a staff), I slowly turn my body, revolving 360 degrees. I like to start by facing east usually, 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.

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.

Many, today, use a minimalist three-stage approach to the caim at least in the beginning of their caim practice. This is:

  • making a caim and
  • using a prepared ‘set’ prayer, or liturgy, or creative visualisation, and
  • closing the caim and an act of ‘earthing’ it.

My eyes are closed now, and in my mind’s eye I’m imagining that inner journeying 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 journeying toward the Source of All.

Sometimes I like to visualise that I’m in a wonderful forest and enter a clearing that is well-lit. A kataphatic approach. Other times I try not to visualise at all, and that is an apophatic approach. The caim is adaptable.

That inner space that I entered is liminal space. For me, I 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. However, the imaginal realm is real. It is a place of peace, power, and potential.

CAIM 12

It is an intermediary space, the gap 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 feel safe, I feel ‘cocooned’ from all that is happening in the world about me. I am at peace within this circle.

Tonight I am using creative visualisation – mind pictures and symbolic action instead of words.

If we accept that there is place of Bliss which is, symbolically, a higher plane, then we could all usefully use some of that power.

And so, I raise both my hands above my head for about a minute, and visualise the blossom of golden trees in that higher realm, and the pollen of golden plants blowing in the gentle wind and falling on me. It is power from on high. Not my power, but power belonging to That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves, the Source Of All who gladly shares it with us.

By raising my hands I seek empowerment from beyond, from the Universe, from The Source Of All.

Whilst in that circle, the caim, each of us in that place are intercessors.

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

I then change position.

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

We can even use the caim to send a power-blessing to world event that has happened that has caused a major upset, or it could be a prayer or ritual-liturgy for a future event, the locality, a sad event somewhere else on the planet, or it could be an ecological need. Whatever the need is, the caim is a good spiritual ‘tool’.

And then, having moulded and shaped that power-blessing, I ‘push’ that power-blessing, symbolically, in the direction I’ve imagined that that person or event to be. In this case I am visualising a friend in need of healing who is in Singapore.

You don’t have to be geographically accurate in your aim of the power-blessing – it’s the intention that’s important. And, it is the Source Of All who delivers.

I use my body to sway back and forth, gently shifting my weight on one leg and then the other – rocking backward and forward just a little, and with my hands in front of me I move them as though I’m gently pushing something. No physical effort is really required in this pushing movement. It’s symbolic.

I do this for a minute or two, thinking of the person in question and their need, knowing that the Source Of All will work through this caim.

If it helps, you might even like to vocalise who, or for what, the power-blessing is for, and the desired outcome. ‘Help [name],’ or ‘Heal [name] etc.

And, as I stand there I sense the power-blessing leaving me and journeying to the person in need….and it arrives immediately. There is no time delay.

You might imagine the desired effect already taking place, even though it may take some time in the physical realm to come about in actuality. You might have in mind what a solution for that person is and you might be specific in visualising it; or, you might not want to be specific as to what a solution might look like and leave it to the Source Of All to work out.

And now, 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 of healing energy.

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 now, energetically – although it may work its way out in my life in a different way to that original power-blessing, and over time. But, I do believe it comes back as a ‘gift’ so that we also benefit.

What we send out, comes back in one form or another.

I inhale to, metaphorically, and with my arms open wide, embrace and accept the return energy-blessing. It’s here.

I give thanks to the Source Of All for the power-blessing that has gone out and which is effective, and now returned without any diminishment.

Now it’s time to return to physical reality – the realm of the senses.

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

With my eyes open, I point to that circle of pebbles. 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) – to close the caim.

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

I extinguish the candle and collect up the pebbles.

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. It is intentionality that is all important. Adapt it, and use it to best serve you needs, and that of others.

That’s it. Well almost.

CAIM 13

Having sent out a power-blessing, there is always some work to be done, to joyfully work towards making the prayer, that ritual-liturgy come about in the physical realm. It needs to be ‘earthed’.

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, feeling as though you need to spend days teaching them to make the energy-prayer come about. The Source of All will deal with the latter; our part is to ‘earth’ the caim in this physical realm with a symbolic, associated act.

Having prayed for that person’s health, I’ve just emailed them and arranged to meet them socially and in that way I might cheer them’.

If someone is not well, we don’t need to feel responsible for their healing as the Source of All (working through medical practitioners etc) will have that in hand, but maybe a get-well card from us could be sent to them to buoy them up, and encourage them. That’s ‘earthing’, and the action doesn’t have to be something that the person in question knows about!

Or, if we’ve used the caim, say, for someone to grow spiritually, we might plant a seed in our garden; if we’ve used the caim to send someone a blessing, then we might blow a kiss in their direction. It’s a symbolic action, and it’s usually best done in secret.

The caim, then, is versatile, and several times over the next two weeks we’ll return to it, and look at how it can be used for ecological purposes, for healing, giving blessings to people and/or animals, or projects, for protection etc, and how it can be adapted for group settings and more formal settings.

Meanwhile, do try the caim, and let me know your experience, please.

20180608 THE CAIM 1 PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

A Walk In The Rain & More: Deep Thoughts…

201800514 A WALK IN THE RAIN AND MOREThe weather has been unusual of late. Very hot for days and the quite cool, dry for a time and then raining all day. Today started off sunny and then clouds tumbled from the mountains to the valley floor. And yet each valley, here in north Wales (and elsewhere) has its own micro-climate, and it is truly amazing. Unpredictable many times, but amazing.

‘For we know in part and we prophesy in part…For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.’ 1 Corinthians 13.9-13.12 Part, The Book

Balance? For thousands of years before the imprint of humankind was found in these valleys, there was a balance in the weather – slate-grey mountains ‘carpeted’ with lush grass, lichen and a myriad of insect life because of rain.

I weed and steward the small patch of earth called my garden, but nature does a far better, far richer, and far grander job of tending the ‘gardens’ that form vast undulating, majestic valleys, here.

’I’m stunned at how the choreography of fate is exquisitely disguised as chance.’ Mark Nepo

It rained recently, and I got caught out in it. Clearly, even being a native, I only know ‘in part’ what the weather will do, though I do pride myself on ‘reading’ the signs (and usually that is sufficient to predict something of what the weather is about to do).

Who am I to grumble? The Clerk of the Weather knows best, and watered that valley. I’m a cheery soul, but that on that particular occasion, far from home and sopping wet, it didn’t make me chuckle. Was it chance? An Intelligence? Fate? However, as I walked home, now seemingly a few pounds heavier wearing rain-sodden clothes and feeling colder, it reminded me of some awesome words of St Francis of Assisi.

Misreading (of the weather and its purpose)? Perhaps it wasn’t that I’d upset God (as if the Source of All works in that arbitrary way) or annoyed the genii loci or the fae as some here might have told me, that opened the skies; perhaps it was ‘just right’ and in that valley, out walking, I was ‘in the way’.

‘In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.’ John Muir

Nevertheless, the rain was a ‘quiet teacher’ to me on that occasion and I learned that it didn’t really matter who caused it, the result was the same, and there was nothing I could do about it.

Traversing the copse that leads to my garden and house, I couldn’t but help notice how much ‘brighter’ things looked, leaves glistened as if polished, the air seemed lighter, sounds clearer, and there was that lovely smell of rain on otherwise dried earth – petrichor. St Francis’ words continued to echo in the labyrinths of my mind, and a lightness from somewhere in my being bubbled up – but only very gently. Hardly noticeable.

And then my feet were firmly striding the rustic-style paving stones that stretched the length of my lawn, and I had to admit the rain was just what the lawn needed. It was a vivid green, looking great, ‘washed’ and baptised from above, and even those weeds seemed glad – ofcourse they were.

‘A weed is but an unloved flower. Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Perspective? And then into the house, through the kitchen door at the side (as very few use the front door here; and you can tell a friend because they, too use the side door that, here, leads into a small boot room and then into the kitchen. Peeling off my sopping wet clothes, and sitting in the kitchen to finally dry off, that earlier gentle bubbling from deep within became a full laugh. And I laughed heartily.

So I got caught in a downpour, a rain storm. Many people are far worse off than me, and in many parts of the world lots would be extremely grateful for several hours-worth of rain for washing (and now I was feeling washed and great), for drinking and cooking with, and for their fields and crops. In that simple rain shower there was more going on – visibly and invisibly, at the macro level and at the micro, cellular level; and perhaps in other realms unknown to us the rain was having a beneficial effect (even if I (or you) were (or are) unaware of it). I laughed even more. Nature is wonderful. Status? I suddenly felt humbled.

Awareness. And then, St Francis’ words tumbled fully to the front of my mind.

Such love does,
the sky now pour,
that whenever I stand in a field,
I have to wring out the light
when I get
home.

(St Francis of Assisi)

And, as I sat there, drying off, it came to me: that Which Is Bigger Than Us is present in the world, and in nature such power and wisdom is known and the mystery celebrated; that there is pain and suffering, and much inconvenience (in rain showers etc) and that mystery is usually (and eventually) accepted; and that come what may, in some way the Source of All makes all things, ultimately, beautiful and new, and there is much that is beyond our understanding.

‘Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.’ Roger Miller

And then, having dried off and put on a new set of clothes, as happens in the valleys, the sun started to shine and there was not a cloud in the sky. Nature is absolutely wonderful (and has a sense of humour, methinks).