Tadhg’s Ephemera & More: The Growing Moon: 11 April 2017

20170410 THE GROWING MOON 11 APRIL 2017 EPHEMERAFull Moon
Spring is truly here, and this month’s full moon takes place on Tuesday, 11 April 2017, in the constellation of Scorpio, the latter being seen, traditionally, as a water element.

This full moon rises around sunset, and sets around sunrise. This is the only time in the month when the moon is in the night sky all night long. The rest of the month the moon spends some time, at least, moving across the daytime sky.

‘The moon was reigning over their world, glowing its full splendour to all those willing to look up.’ Irina Serban

To the ancient and latter day Celts and Druids, such as myself, this full moon is known as the Growing Moon. Others regard/regarded it as the Seed Moon, the Pink Moon, the Awakening Moon, or the Egg Moon. Whatever we call it, this is a wonderful time of the month, and a time to sit, gaze up and ponder at our Earth’s wonderful companion smiling down at us.

On This Day: 11 April
1814 Napoleon surrenders unconditionally, and is exiled to the island of Elba.
1968 President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act.
2015 President Obama meets Raul Castro, the first meeting between USA and Cuban heads of state since the Cuban Revolution.

Further Ahead
On the evenings surrounding April 20, Mars, that red planet, traverses across the sky and will pass close to the Pleiades star cluster, the Seven Sisters. After the sky darkens, they should be visible as a faint group of seven stars to the naked eye, as several dozen stars within a binoculars’ field of view, and with a telescope you might see several hundred stars.

The name Pleiades comes from Ancient Greek, and is probably derived from plein (‘to sail’) because of that star cluster’s importance to the sailing season in the Mediterranean Sea. The name was later mythologised as the name of seven divine sisters, whose name was thought to be connected to their mother Pleione.

Also, look out for the annual Lyrids meteor shower which runs from 16 to 25 April, and which peaks before dawn on Saturday, 22 April.

‘The moon will guide you through the night with her brightness, but she will always dwell in the darkness, in order to be seen.’ Shannon L Alder

Soon, Earth Day
This year, Earth Day, occurs on Saturday, 22 April. Details of how you can get involved in a practical way can be viewed at the Earth Day website here.

And/or you can read their webpage and send out some positivity, good-energy, prayers and maybe hold an appropriate ritual, or meditate silently upon the Earth, extending love and peace to it and all its wildlife, and give gratitude.

‘And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair’. Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Also, in doing this by yourself or with others, you might like to consider turning off all lights and unnecessary household equipment to stop or reduce your electricity usage for an hour (refrigerators/freezers etc exempt), and, perhaps, spend that time in darkness, or use a candle for light for your meditation, ritual etc.

May you have a blessed full moon celebration. Tadhg.

Ephemera: Imbolc: Liturgy & Ritual: Ideas & Resources

20170127-imbolc3-ephemeraThe circle is turning, and Imbolc is coming ever closer. that time of the ushering in of Spring, a new season, a new start – sometimes called St Brigid’s Day or Candlemas.

Having looked at the meaning of this festival in brief – see here, and having thought about ideas that you might like to do to celebrate Imbolc, St Brigid’s Day or Candlemas in a meal – see here, today (in this third instalment) we look at a few ideas regarding ritual and liturgy (words and deeds) to celebrate this wonderful event, for you to consider. Do adapt this to suit your circumstances, and make this a truly memorable ‘fire festival’.

Words

The following are a few poems or prayers that you might like to use in some form of rite (which can be elaborate, or used at the time of a celebratory meal (with words spoken either before, during or after), or  read them to yourself as you consider the turning of the wheel, and Winter becomes Spring.

O most noble Greenness, rooted in the sun,
shining forth in streaming splendour upon the wheel of Earth.
No earthly sense or being can comprehend you.
You are encircled by the very arms of Divine mysteries.
You are radiant like the red of dawn!
You glow like the incandescence of the sun!

Hildegard von Bingen
English version by Jerry Dybdal and Matthew Fox

And/Or

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.

Robert Frost (1874–1963).

And/Or

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

Song of Solomon 2:11-12  The Book

And/Or

The wilderness and the desert will be glad,
And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom;
Like the crocus
It will blossom profusely
And rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
The majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the glory of the Lord,
The majesty of our God.
Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the [c]feeble.
Say to those with anxious heart,
‘Take courage, fear not..’

Isaiah 35:1-4a The Book

And/Or

Praise to you, Oh Caring one,
nurturing, generous and milky kind,
yet defiant as the snowdrop in a cold climate,
feisty, pure and natural
with your white singular unbroken focus,
Maid-Mother to us all,
praise to you.

Tess Ward (Anglican Priest), The Celtic Wheel Of The Year

And/or

A sleeping world emerges to new possibilities,
weakening winter’s icy grip,
and birdsong and bleating lamb
announce to all the promise
that in due season
creation bursts into life.
And whilst leaves that fell in winter
lie upon the ground,
soon to feed the earth
in nature’s wondrous cycle
of death and rebirth,
within the tree is a stirring of new growth
For the cycle of life
Which brings death and rebirth.

Copyright © John Birch, 2016. Used with permission. Click here to go to originating webpage.

And/or

We rejoice in the promise of Spring
For lengthening days
And sunlight’s warmth upon the soil
We rejoice in the promise of Spring
For a snowdrop’s beauty
Reflecting its Creator’s artistry
We rejoice in the promise of Spring
For new born lambs
Their joy and exuberance
We rejoice in the promise of Spring
For all of creation
And the majesty of its Creator
We rejoice in the promise of Spring

Copyright © John Birch, 2016. Used with permission. Click here to go to originating webpage.

Deeds/Action

Imbolc is a great time to start new things, and as hinted above in ancient sacred text, Springtime is not only a good time to reflect, give thanks and look forward in hope, but it’s also a good time to ‘do’ something – for yourself and others. So, here’s a few activities you might like to consider:

Fire: An Imbolc tradition, being a ‘fire festival’ was to light a fire! Fires celebrated not only Brigid, and the returning power of the sun, and in the Christian calendar, Candlemas is the time when when candles were lit for Virgin Mary and/or to signify the Christ-child as the Light of the world. A brazier might be inappropriate now, but why not light a candle (or several throughout the evening celebration, a short time of reciting poems and/or prayers)?

Water: Imbolc was also a time for visiting a spring or a well, to both purify onself and bring fertility to our dreams. Indeed, Well dressing (also once known as well flowering) was regularly practised in rural England. Then, wells, springs or other water sources were decorated with designs created from flower petals. So, why not set out to visit a riiver, stream, or well, nearby? Make it a special occasion.

House Spring Clean: Now is a great time to spring clean your home, usually undertaken before Imbolc Eve. It’s a wonderful time to get rid of anything that is cluttering up your home and stagnating the energy. But, don’t see it as a chore to be completed as quickly as possible. Take your time. This, too, can be a holy acivity!

Trees: Why not plant, or fund the planting of a tree? There is a great need for each of us to be wise stewards of nature, and here’s an opportunity to do something practical. For a web charity link for a tree-planting/forests preservation group in the UK, see here.

Make Brigid’s Cross: This is ideal for those artistically included, and if you can’t find any rushes to ‘weave’ together you can use drinking straws (and it will still mean something deep as it’s the intention that counts). Details of making a Brigid’s Cross is here.

Conclusion

So, there you have – the third and concluding part of the Imbolc 2017 articles. I hope you’ve found this all useful.

Whatever you do, my prayers and thoughts are with you and those whom you love. May you (all) have a happy, deep and blessed Imbolc. Tadhg

 

Everything You Wanted To Know About Jolabokaflod

161222-jolabokaflodExcerpt from Tadhg’s Journal: I love words, and if you’re anything like me, you might be interested in a new one (to me) that I came across yesterday.

The word is: Jolabokaflod. It’s Icelandic.

Okay, so it may be too late to really honour it this year, but the people of that small, but great nation of Iceland have the right idea, especially from my viewpoint as a book-lover.

‘I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.’  Jorge Luis Borges

They have something they call Jolabokaflod, and it means (Yule or) Christmas book flood!

In the few months before Christmas,  most books are sold in Iceland because of the upcoming event. Books are lovingly selected with family and friends in mind, bought months or weeks in advance (and the commercial side of things will hold events, fairs etc), and the books are then wrapped and stored, ready for Jolabokaflod.

And then on Christmas Eve it happens. Whatever you may have (additionally) bought for family and friends, Jolabokaflod happens, and you give a book to a loved family member or friend. Yes, it’s all about books. It sound wonderful. I know it’s not really rocket-science, and many people already do give books for Christmas gifts to be opened on that day, but the idea of a special day for it, is quite wonderful. Ofcourse, Jolabokflod could be used for us to reward those who served us throughout the year eg corner-shop owners, those who sweep our roads, postal delivery people etc. People we might not want to ‘officially’ buy a Christmas present for, but, nevertheless, want to say ‘thank you’, to.

‘Books are a uniquely portable magic.’ Stephen King

The idea then, is to open the wrapper of the book gift you’ve been given on Christmas Eve, discover the book you’ve been bought, and that evening curl up on the sofa with a cup of hot chocolate and that good, or retire early to bed and yes, take that new book and maybe a box of chocolate with you, and indulge.

‘You want weapons? We’re in a library. Books are the best weapon in the world.’ Dr Who

What a way to celebrate that liminal time – the time when all the Christmas preparations have been made (or of they haven’t, it’s probably too late now, so don’t worry) and Christmas Day isn’t quite here – and now you can relax in some well-deserved ‘me’ time.

‘Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.’ Mark Twain

Ofcourse, it’s really all about giving  books away, and if there’s not enough time this year to do that, I’m sure we’ll be excused just this once, if we buy one special book for ourselves, just to try out a sort of dry-run for next year’s Jolabokaflod. And, if you did that, what book would you treat yourself to?

Winter Solstice: A Liturgy For Alban Arthan 2016 [‘Lighten Our Darkness…’]

161220-alban-2016-celtic-litrugyYes, tomorrow marks, for those in the northern hemisphere, the shortest day, the longest night, the wonderful time of the Winter Solstice; or Alban Arthan as it is known in Wales.

The Winter Solstice is on Wednesday, 21 December 2016 , and many will celebrate as the sun rises  at 8.04am, in London, UK (albeit some 20 minutes later in north Wales).

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

Some Druids believe this light to be the Light of the hero King Arthur Pendragon who  is symbolically reborn as the Sun Child at the time of the Solstice. Others see the Light belonging to the star constellation known as the Great Bear (or the Plough). Others have many varied beliefs. Some, myself included, acknowledge many viewpoints out of respect for others, but focus on this light as being the Light of the Christ-child at this time.

‘There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’ Leonard Cohen

It is a most wonderful event when you gather a group of people together, who acknowledge that something wonderful happened and symbolically happens again and again, and each respects the other’s view knowing that it differs, but also knowing that the occasion is bigger, much bigger than the individual or even the ‘tribe’ they hail from. Truly, awe takes over.

For Iranian people, many celebrate the night of the winter solstice as, ‘Yalda night’, which known to be the ‘longest and darkest night of the year’. It’s a time when all the family gather together, usually at the house of the oldest family-member, and celebrate it by eating, drinking and reading poems (especially Hafiz). Nuts, pomegranates and watermelons are also served during this festival.

‘I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.’ Hafiz

At this time, The Dōngzhì Festival or Winter Solstice Festival is celebrated, and it is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese people. Traditional food, such tangyuan are served – these are glutinous balls of rice (equivalent to our dumplings, maybe), and can be served in a savoury or sweet broth.

How will you celebrate it?

You might be part of a Grove, faith-group or ‘tribe’, but if you’re not then the following suggestions can be used in part or adapted as suits your requirements. A simple meditation of gratitude before breakfast, or a lighting of a candle and a few words would suffice.

Here are some ideas (from previous articles) that you might consider using:

The ‘Circle is Turning’ (Winter Solstice version)
A few words have been adapted for the song to be used at the time of the Winter Solstice. It is full of depth and pathos – click here for the tune. It ‘fits’ the tune (with a bit of manoeuvring) and starts at 11 seconds into the video. The poem/song:

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

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

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

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

– oOo –

Candle-lighting liturgy: Requirement: 5 Candles and a candleholder (Advent-style)

The following is recited, as the first candle is lit:

All: We walked in darkness, but you showed us the light. We pray for those that walk in darkness, that they, too, may see the light that shines in the darkness. (Based on Isaiah 9.2)

The following is recited, as the second candle is lit:

All: The light shines in the darkness, still. And the darkness did not comprehend it. We give thanks for the light that guides us. (Based on John 1:5)

The following is recited, as the third candle is lit:

All: You are the light of the world, and indwell us, so that we become a light in the world. We seek ways to live out that light in our life, in service to all. (Based on Matthew 5:14)

The following is recited, as the fourth candle is lit:

All: There will be no night there, because Your light will illumine us. We praise you for that great promise of light. (Based on Revelation 22:5)

The following is recited, as the fifth candle is lit:

All: Light from Light Eternal, born this happy morning, we greet you. (Based on a carol, based on ancient sacred text)

– oOo –

Prayer For the Winter Solstice sunrise

Standing. Recite, facing south:
In this time when it is darkest,
we offer gratitude for all that was and is,
and for all that is about to be born in secret.

Recite, facing west:
In this season of expectation
we draw near in unity and peace for all,
to offer praise and worship to the Spirit of all.

Recite, facing north:
At this intersection of time and space
when Heaven touches Earth,
we look forward in anticipation and hope
to the year ahead.

Recite, facing east as the sun rises:
Yea, Lord, we greet you,
born this happy morning.
Brother Sun, who brings the day and gives light
testifies to your birth, and re-birth in our hearts.

– oOo –

Meanwhile, however and wherever you celebrate the Winter Solstice this year, please accept my blessing, both to you and those whom you love.. Blessings, Tadhg

May the light of your soul guide you.
May the light of your soul bless the work
You do with the secret love and warmth of your heart.
May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.
May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light and renewal…

(John O’Donohue)

Celtic Thought: The Answer To Life, The Universe, And Everything Is….36

1611208-is-thritysix-celtic-thought

There is a story from ancient times, that is still occasionally told, that when the universe was first created some fourteen billion years ago, the Creator left little bits of it in a less than finished state so that humans could finish the job, and so be involved in the artistic act of creation or re-creation, as co-creators.

Another story says that the Creator made everything some time ago, and it was good, and gave the original two gardeners charge of it, but it all went a bit askew when their focus was diverted elsewhere, and they needed to labour to restore it, after that.

In both cases, the early inhabitants and their descendants, that’s us, were given charge of it, and some essential work ensued.

And, then – you know I love my stories – there’s a story that follows, later on, a sort of celestial nudge of a story, that says some people were selected to intercede on behalf of others, or indeed on behalf of the universe itself. Chosen ones. I like that. A sort of superhero coterie before the word or even the idea of superheroes was ‘invented’ by DC Comics or Marvel.

‘You have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.’ J. R. R. Tolkien

Now, this is where it gets even more interesting, even more bizarre, and even more relevant and personal to you and I, and bizarre (and, yes, I know I’ve used that word twice, but I did so for effect, as it really does get bizarre). It gets weird!
You see, you could be one of these chosen ones.

Gasps from around the world, I hear. But, if this story is true, then you could be one of this select group of people.

And their responsibility is? It is said that the whole of creation would be folded up, that it would end, the apocalypse would happen, if it were not for the presence of these thirty-six chosen, or deemed-righteous, people on the Earth at any one time.

To add to this, there is yet another ancient story of a ‘tribal Father’ visiting an ancient city (or was it two) who was informed that the cities would be razed to the ground. Bargaining takes place. Mankind’s representative pleads that if there are fifty righteous people in the city that it would not be destroyed. The Creator accepts that. If you know the story, then Abraham being concerned that there may not be fifty righteous people in the city, seeks to lower the ‘insurance policy’ number to forty-five and the Creator agrees to ‘save’ the city for the sake of forty five. Abraham continue to bargain, obviously knowing that composition of the city’s unrighteous-righteous ratio, and lowers the amount. Eventually, mankind’s representative asks that the city be left alone if ten righteous people could be found. Well, the story ends with destruction.

But, the idea of a certain number of righteous people having an effect on other people, cities, the cosmos in a positive way was established, was set in stone (metaphorically, at this point. The ‘stone work’ actually comes later, with Moses!).

So, back to the Tzadikim Nistarim. Oh, did I mention that exactly who this group are, is a secret?

This group of people go by a number of names. But, the two collective names I like are: the Tzadikim Nistarim (that is, the ‘hidden righteous ones’) or the Lamed Vav Tzadikim (that is, the ‘thirty-six righteous ones’). And, their ‘descendants’ are alive, even today, so it is said.

Some of them may have mundane jobs (whatever mundane means), some may be in high office, or indeed, some maybe working in a local corner-shop in downtown [enter here the name of your village, town, borough etc], and still others may be working away leading some kind of Celtic, and/or Christian, and/or Druidic ritual. Yes, and those of many other faiths (or none) may be one of these ‘hidden’ people.

‘There is no mundane dimension really, if you have the eyes to see it, it is all transcendental.’ Terence McKenna

And, that means that you, regardless of your age, background, education etc, regardless of anything that others (or yourself) say that might disqualify you, yes, you may be one of these people, as you serve others, lead others, or look for work, as you battle an ailment, feel like crap (am I allowed to use that word?), or as you go about your daily routine. Your presence may be having an effect. Actually, I’d say it ‘is’ having an effect, nevertheless – such is the calling that you have been called to.

Are you one of the Tzadikim Nistarim?

If you are, carry on doing all the good things that you do – however ‘high or low’ (whatever that means) others view it. If you’re a shop worker  in the high street, strive to be a good one, the fate of the universe depends on it. If you lead people in any way, be a good leader, as the cosmos is looking on in hope. And, if you’re a…. well, whatever you do (and for me, that includes ritual – I really do love ritual, ceremony, liturgy etc, and I hope you do that, too), do it with relish. It is making a difference in smalls ways and large, and perhaps we won’t know until we ‘get there’ what difference we’ve made in the life of others and, indeed, in the universe.

‘In 900 years of time and space, I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important.’ Doctor Who

So, are you one of the Tzadikim Nistarim? I think you – yes you, as you read this – could be one of them, in which case I am pleased to know you. However, before you answer yes or no, there is one piece of information that I haven’t yet revealed, and will now do so.

The Tzadikim Nistarim are the hidden righteous ones, the emphasis here is on the word hidden. It was their name signifies! No one knows who the Tzadikim Nistarim are, and so they exist without fear or favour, without the light of publicity on them, and they are somewhat shy and tireless workers (in whatever field or task they’ve been called to). Hidden!

So, are you one of the Tzadikim Nistarim?

No one knows exactly who these thirty-six people are. They are the ‘hidden’ ones. No one knows who they are, not even the Tzadikim Nistarim themselves!

‘Each of us has a unique part to play in the healing of the world.’ Marianne Williamson

 

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

161116-advent-day-1-standard-ephemera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celtic Daily Living: The Three Realms

three-realms

We live in an age where  some   try to ‘package’ spirituality and sell it to us. How many times have you and I been asked to place our  hands on the tv screen and then send money, or type ‘Amen’ on a FaceBook page to receive a miracle? Many others, thousands upon thousands do it. They do it, without understanding  that miracles and grace they so eagerly want, infact flows to all, and is  acknowledged by those aware of it, and this occurs unconditionally.

So, how do we tap into that energy, that power, that grace-conduit, unbridled and deep spirituality?

I believe there are (at least) three realms, levels of existence.

‘Three is a magic number
Ya it is, it’s a magic number
Somewhere in that ancient mystic trinity
You’ll get three
As a magic number’

(Song lyrics)

Buddhists talk of three realms (which they call the Trailokya) consisting of:

  • the highest one described something akin to heaven (or four heavens, infact) called Arūpaloka;
  • the in-between one is the world of form (our Physical world) called Rūpaloka;
  • and a lower one, Kāmalokae. With respect to Buddhists, I’d like to build on, and slightly alter definitions, at least for this article.

Perhaps, we could view creation consisting on three realms for simplicity-sake, for now and we might ‘build upon and add to this later) sake. Certainly the ancient Celts were fascinated with numbers, and especially the number three! So, perhaps we could say there is:

  • the Realm of the Spirit (or the Ouranic Realm), and ‘under’ that,tic-tac-toe-1777815__180
  • the Realm of the Soul or Psyche (which unpacks thoughts using symbolism, dreams etc),  and ‘under that,
  • the Physical Realm, the one we all know the best.

If we don’t understand the relationship and power of each of these realms, then maybe our life will be less than it could be – like a car ‘firing’ with one engine cylinder dormant. It’ll move along the road, inefficiently, ‘lumpily’, you’ll have a bad journey,  not a good ride. Car engine damage eventually ensues.

Understanding and balance between these realms, then, and how they relate to our lives is what is needed. What do you think?

But, first a closer look at the three realms. The three realms are:

number-11. The realm of (the) Spirit: Some call this the Ouranic Realm:  My favourite mystic of yesteryear, the Lady Julian, believed that the ‘fall’ (if that’s how some interpret the early  Genesis story of humankind) did not affect humanity in this realm of (the) Spirit. We are therefore continually in bliss, come what may, and nothing can separate us. We can draw comfort from that.

The problem with  only living with this mentality, is that we separate ourselves from daily life, it could lead to arrogance, perhaps, and we really miss out on life’s lessons. We end up, then, as holy people, but unable or unwilling to relate to, or work with others, and that’s not really holiness at all.

Living a life with this realm in mind, as a balanced form of living, and living the otherconsciousness-1719995__180 realms as well, is what’s needed.

We approach this realm through participative religious or spiritual liturgy and ceremony/ritual etc, which is why the latter is important. It needs to be participative, as that ushers us into the liminal – that threshold between here and there – to access this realm (albeit in part, ‘at a ‘distance’ etc), whereas passively looking on is liminiod – a near miss but with only a second-rate feeling of encounter. How sad if many are accepting the liminiod and missing the ‘full-blown’ liminal encounter?

‘Love calls – everywhere and always.
We’re sky bound.
Are you coming’. Rumi

From here, good thoughts and ideas ‘descend’ to the Realm of the Soul, as if ‘out of the blue’.

number-22. The realm of the soul: Some call this the Psychic Realm: Don’t be phased by the last term; it really means the arena of the soul, the psyche, the area of mental faculties that we all possess. Hollywood has something to answer for, for its poor portrayal of this word and realm, and fear-mongering.

To only live in this realm will make us feeling we have achieved something, but without living in balance with the other two realm we only travel so far. Many people who subscribe to an organised religion may be operating only at this level, and wonder why things are not working out, are out of balance?

‘Change your thoughts and you change your world.’ Norman Vincent Peale

Maybe, what is needed is to live at this level, is study, reading, living it, understanding the symbolism of this level, but be aware that there’s more?

Prayer at this level is likely to be only a shopping-list type of prayer (and as part of a balanced prayer-life there’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s more). Move beyond that to the stillpoint, and you suddenly encounter the Source of All and graze that realm of the Spirit! Absolutely wonderful. Meaningful. Powerful. A time and place of encounter! It is the place of the imagination and dream-images, symbols that ‘seep down’ from the Ouranic Realm. A place to enter, and stay a while. Yet, some fear it.

‘Everything you can imagine is real.’ Pablo Picasso

But, ofcourse, only operate at this level and we miss such a lot. It’s here, that I encourage discerning men and women into the Imaginal Realm (which is part of this major realm) in my LiminalPeople ministry.

number-33. The Physical Realm: This is the easiest one to understand. We can look around and see it, hear it, feel it, shape it etc. If we’re aware and living in cognizance of the other two realms, then things really happen.

To recap: Thoughts start in the Ouranic Realm, permeate into our Psyche, that Psychic realm – usually as pictures, desires, symbols as that is the ‘language’ of the soul and the imaginal realm, and then flow ‘down’ to the Physical Realm, and appear, are manifested around us, essentially.

‘This world is but a canvas to our imagination.’ Henry David Thoreau

Ofcourse, if all three realms are not operating in balance, if we favour one – and many people favour the Physical Realm and/or the Psychic Realm then ego takes over, and what is manifest is sadly ‘misshapen’, skewed, negative and short-lived, if it is manifested at all.

number-4Balance: Balance is need in our lives, and awareness comes first to know how to ‘dwell’ and ‘use’ the power and opportunities of each realm. What do you think?

One way is to use the Psychic Realm as a ‘half-way- step in our understanding of the other two realms. In that Psychic Realm, or the Imaginal Realm (as I call it with discerning men and women who attend my sessions, worskhops) we receive information and power from ‘above’ and that would be (1) the Ouranic Realm; process those symbols of meaning and power in (2)  the Imaginal Realm (and so we ‘work’ there in my sessions –  it’s rather like a guided and directed ‘day-dream), and use affirmation and intentionality for it to manifest itself in (3) the Physical Realm.

‘The major work of the world is not done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people, with balance in their lives, who have learned to work in an extraordinary manner.’ Gordon B Hinckley

If all three Realms are used appropriately, benefits follow. Live only in one or two Realms,balance-154516_960_720 like many in organised religion, and benefits and manifestation are difficult. We have a form of understanding but lack the power of all Realms working in co-operation. 

So, using the Imaginal Realm, that realm of the Soul, is one way forward for some to start or go deeper, and that will be the theme of the ministry of Tadhg’s  LiminalPeople and it’s website. It’s through the Imaginal Realm, as one way of many, that we can tap into that spiritual power and benefit. You can have a sneak preview of the first webpage of LiminalPeople now, at:

www.liminalpeople.org

Do bookmark the front page please, and I’m hoping it’ll be fully functional by 16 November, and you may benefit. More details in a few days about the website.

 

three-realms

A Story For Today: ‘The Day Of Forgetting’

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In the seventeenth century in eastern Europe there appeared a pious, holy man, a great teacher, and a prolific teller of fables and parables with deep meaning. His name was Baal Shem Tov (literally, ‘the Master of the good name). Here’s a story entitled ‘The Day Of Forgetting’:

When the Baal Shem Tov saw that the people were in serious trouble, he decided to act in the only way he knew how. He went into the forest, to exactly the same place he had been to before, lit a fire in a specific way, and prayed a specific prayer to the Source of All. He asked the Source of All if this was sufficient? When he left the forest and went home, a miracle had occurred and the people were safe.

Some time later, the people were again facing a serious, traumatic problem. This time it fell Baal Shem Tov’s disciple, the Maggid of Mezrich to intervene. He went into the forest, to exactly the same place he had been told about, but he confessed that he did not know how to light the fire in a specific way, but he knew the specific prayer and prayed  to the Source of All. He asked the Source of All if this was sufficient? When he left the forest and went home, a miracle had occurred and the people were safe.

Some time much later, the people were once again facing a most terrible danger, and the grandson of the Maggid of Mezrich decided to intervene. He went into the forest, to exactly the same place he had been told about, but he confessed that he did not know how to light the fire in a specific way, and he didn’t know the specific prayer, but he  asked the Source of All if this was sufficient?  When he left the forest and went home, a miracle had occurred and the people were safe.

Some time much, much later, the people were once again facing a catastrophe, and now the great-grandson of the Maggid of Mezrich needed to intervene. He went into the forest, but he confessed that he did not  the location of where he should go, he didn’t know how to light the fire in a specific way, and he didn’t know the specific prayer, but asked the Source of All if this was sufficient?  When he left the forest and went home, a miracle had occurred and the people were safe.

In each case it was sufficient.

There are many deep meanings to the story: Maybe there is the fact that we do forget and that each generation needs to work at gleaning spiritual and other knowledge and wisdom? That sometimes we need to improvise with a good heart to fill in the omissions in our ritual knowledge? Perhaps one very pertinent truth to (Celtic) Christians, Druids and others is that, although specific locations, and specific prayers, and specific ritual is good, and wholesome, and important (if we know them), the most important ‘duty’ is to ‘show up’ humbly before the Source of All, and to be intentional, and authentic, and honest, and expectant?

But, to ‘sneak’ in another nugget of wisdom, the story also shows us that the Source of All is always eager to hear and act in our favour through events, through nature, through others etc; and the real action takes place, not with us (so we don’t have to worry if we’re imprecise), but by the Source of All who is always ready to bless and act on our behalf, and with unconditional, radical grace.

What do you think?

Essential Celt: Eight Practical Ideas To Celebrate Alban Elfed, The Autumn Equinox

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Soon it will be Alban Elfed, which is the Welsh, Celtic and Druidic name (for many) of the Autumn equinox (Thursday, 22 September 2016) – that great event when the length of the day and the night are the same, that great time of balance. The compass direction for this Equinox is ‘west’, and so the element is ‘water’.

All praise be Yours, my God, through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious, and pure.
St Francis of Assisi

A few people have emailed me recently, seeking ideas of how to celebrate the Autumn Equinox in practical ways in a faith-group setting, as a family or by themselves, and a few suggestions follow. The list is not exhaustive and you are most welcome to respond with ideas that you have, or with what you have done in the past.

‘May the stream of your life flow unimpeded.
Deep peace of the running wave to you.’
Celtic Prayer

Here, then, are a few practical suggestions of celebrating the event:

8p-fruit-untitled(1) Give thanks for the harvest. This could be a full-scale family meal, and/or friends meal on that evening, or part of a simple meal for one or two (such as the breaking of bread at the beginning or at some point throughout the meal. It can be done symbolically and/or accompanied by a prayer or a piece of poetry).

‘Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread  from the earth.’ (A Jewish prayer. Bread, here, could be seen to represent all  kinds of food for this meal).

(2) As time of gratitude you might like to recount all the good things that have happened in the past year, maybe write them on a piece of paper (or in your journal). You could even invite a few family and/or friends over to do this. You might like to start a gratitude jar Some like to celebrate this time by giving thanks by inviting friends and family over, and forming a circle so that each person in turn can verbalise something that they’re grateful for. Some incorporate the use of a ‘talking stick’, so that the ‘talking stick’ is passed, in sequence, to the next person who will speak, and therefore he or she then has ‘the floor’ and all others must listen. The making of a ‘talking stick’ and gratitude jar will be the theme of tomorrow’s post.

acorns-untitled(3) Plant a native seed, such as an acorn at this time, or make a contribution to a forest trust who will plant a tree on your behalf or in memory of a loved one, and so, ecologically restore balance in the world. In the UK, I can heartily recommend the Woodland Trust, see here.

‘Don’t say, don’t say there is no water.
The fountain is there among its scalloped
green and grey stones.

It is still there and always there
with its quiet song and strange power
to spring in us,
up and out through the rock.

(Denise Levertov)

8p-candle-untitled(4) Dedicate part of your house, a corner-table in a room, a shelf or window sill to celebrate this event of celebrating the Earth’s abundance: and so decorate it with cloth the colour of autumnal browns and those awesome autumnal orange and red colours, with nuts, berries; with autumnal flowers (real or artificial) such as fennel, hops, marigold or hawthorne berries, all of which are associated with the Autumn equinox (or anything you like); and a candle (but if you light the candle, do ensure theres a safe distance between any cloth, fabric or curtains etc).

(5) Think about ‘balance’ in the wider context. As ‘balance’ is the thrust of the Autumnal equinox (the balance between day and night), see how this affects you eg do you have your work – rest balance in harmony, and if not, what adjustments would you like, could you make?

(6) Make time to (re-)connect with your ‘inner’ self, however you do it: consider a silent meditation; consider a walking (silent) meditation or ‘amble’ in the country or city park; or listen to a soft piece of music and sip wine or coffee (and why not include chocolate) at home, just relaxing and getting ‘dreamy’ as the music plays etc.

8p-water-bowl-untitled(7) As the Autumn equinox element is water, why not place  a bowl of water on the meal table, or maybe, place a bowl of water for the day near the door, and then you can ‘bless’ yourself (and remind yourself to be grateful for water) as you leave or enter the house. Holy water? And because the season’s element is water, you might want to embellish it with sea shells or the like.

‘…You give them to drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light.’
(Psalm 36:8-9 part, The Book)

(8) Some might like to consider drumming, or using drum-based music to dance to. I do this reguarly, but I confess it is, for me, a private event. My dance moves are not the best in the world and I’m not sure if the public at large are ready for them, but they are ‘offered up’ as a ‘dance sacrifice’ for the season, and it’s enjoyable, and I would recommend you trying a ‘dance of gratitude’.

If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

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Poem: Gratitude At Bach Ac Yn Gyflym

160826 gratitude at bach POETRY LITURGY

At the far end of my garden, in the wilderness of north Wales, well, actually just over the unmarked and unannounced boundary of my garden, is a rivulet. Hidden by trees and gorse bushes, it rushes by the northern boundary, invisible to all, except to me and a few locals.

It’s small and fast. Small. Yes, with a slight run and jump you can easily jump over it. Fast. Well, fast for it’s size. It’s so small it has no name, here, except the one I gave it. To me, this stream or rivulet, this small river (as it widens as other tributaries join it further along) deserves a name. It was here before I was born, from a time when the mountains were carved, and it will be here long after I’ve gone.

To me, this ‘watery companion’ is: Bach ac yn gyflym. Welsh geographical place-names are very descriptive, and it seemed right to call this rivulet by this name. It means ‘small and fast’. Very apt. A very Welsh name.

I was as at Bach ac yn gyflym earlier today, at mid-morning. It was hot. An unusually hot and glorious day, even for August. And sitting on the edge of the rivulet, alone but not alone, in the shade of aged trees, and dangling my feet in it’s coolness, I couldn’t help but write words of gratitude to the One who opens the fountains of the deep. I wrote:

River of all that is Holy flows from the mountain,
and passes me by.
What was parched, is parched no more.
And what was lifeless, now teems with life.
The earth is green by the handiwork of God.
Viriditas.
And, the beast of the field honour the Giver of Life, the dragons and the owls, also.

We look on in awe, and pause in wonder.

In entering the river’s flow, we become the river.
Immersed. Baptised. Anew. ‘Oneing’ with God.
In entering the river’s flow, may what we do flow from us like this river
so that we become rivers of promise to others.

We will sing as no one ever has, flowing onward to the Great sea.
Oh, that our lives would be carried along by the flow of water,
that we are not concerned about the twists and turns it takes,
but  be mindful of the joyful and onward journey to the Source of All.

Lord of the river, this refreshing, small and fast river, we give you thanks.

(Words also inspired by the works of: John O’Donohue, Rainer Maria Rilke, Julian of Norwich, Isaiah 43:20).