Time Between Time: A Is For Anamnesis

A IS FOR ANAMNESIS

Many of you will know that I am an avid fan of ritual and liturgy. Not for any ‘spooky, or old-fashioned, and ‘quant’ reasons, but because ritual and liturgy, like a good piece of music can have a deep and profound effect on us. It can usher us into a state of deep thought and meditation, waft us into the liminal realm of the imagination, and on into sacred time-space; a ‘thin place’ [known as caol áit, pronounced ‘kweel awtch’ in Gaelic].

Ritual (actions) and liturgy (words), and even the attire we choose to wear for an event, has energy and meaning. It is status-declaring. Power-evoking. It is ‘transportational’.  It ushers us into an awareness of the Friend.

The sun fell below the horizon. A chill had set in, but the air was still. No birdsong could be heard at all here in the New Forest. And so, a group of twenty stalwarts sat in a circle, around the open fire, as the bodhrán sounded a slow drumbeat. One person nominated to lead the event, the Guardian, stood and moved in a clockwise direction, pausing at the four cardinal points, before moving to the centre of the circle. Wearing a dorchau pen  (Welsh for ‘head wreath) made of oak leaves to signify his ‘office’, he lead the ritual and invoked the energy of the Source of All

It has been said by some modern-day scholars that ritual is outdated, and nothing more than a futile attempt to ensure the safety of an individual, who, when invoking the presence of an overpowering god, is fearful. Or, it’s to appease an angry god. I’d like to suggest something different.

For me, ritual is a reminder that we continually stand in the presence of the Source of All, a wholly benevolent Power; and ritual acts are a reminder to us of that fact, and that this is a special time set aside to draw even closer, and/or to be aware of that fact.

Ritual, then, is for our benefit.

It is for us – to (re-)empower; to (re-)enable us; to (re-)member us , that is to bring us back to that point of knowing that we are members of a greater whole. Definitely re-membered (and not just remembered!).

Everyone waited with expectancy. All could perceive the flames from the fire, but little else. Night was drawing in. And, yet what our eyes couldn’t see, was more than made up by our ‘imaginal eyes’, our mind’s eye, the eyes of our hearts, our imaginations. Some saw ancient archetypes of power ‘skip’ from the flames, others elementals that moved in and out of the circle from the surrounding forest trees in a joyful manner, and still others ‘saw’ elusive power-animals at their sides. Some ‘saw’ nothing, but felt an almost over-powering tangible presence of benevolence descend upon them, and embrace them.

There is a physicality to ritual, but it is more than that. If ritual is just a series of moves and words, and nothing else, then it’s akin to a Harry Potter spell – the kind, in that movie, where one has to be careful to get everything exactly right, otherwise, who knows what might happen? Ritual is a series of actions and words, and to be enjoyed, but it’s much more. Left at that level, it is pure ‘theatre’.

It’s physical, but imaginal, too. Perhaps most of the ‘action’ takes place in the realm of the soul, that imaginal realm. It’s ‘in’ the imagination, but no less real (and some of us might say more real!) And, then there’s intentionality. If you didn’t get the ritual right, don’t worry. I do believe our intentions are most important, and that the Source of All honours our good intentions.

The Guardian of the circle spoke of the illusion of time and space, and how we view it as linear. The Guardian also spoke of connectedness, of the ‘Great Chain Of Being’, or being ‘at one’ with our forebears, the Ancestors. He raised his hands, momentarily – orans style, and declared that the Ancestors were here! The drumming stopped. A descended as though the weight of accumulated time rested, providentially upon our shoulders.

You, like me, are probably ‘amphibian’. We, seemingly, live in two realms – though, not that of water and air. We live in a world of seeming dualism, separateness and individuality, and yet, deep within us we each yearn for connectedness and deep spirituality, as though that was our ‘default program’. And, I do believe it is.

We are connected. Someone once said that what we do to others, we do to them. Now, that’s connectedness.

Some say that if a butterfly beats its wings on one side of the planet, it might lead to a tornado elsewhere. That’s connectedness.

Scientists tell us that each one of us is made of atoms that, at one time, were inside a distant star that exploded – yes, we really are star dust. We are astronomically, connected.

And, our ancestors? We wouldn’t be here if it were not for them, and many of our innate characteristics, unbeknownst to us, probably come from them in one glorious time-spanning family tree (of which we’re all part). Rooted in time, that is connectedness.

Our ancestors, are here. If you don’t believe in ghosts, perhaps they’re here in actual spirit or presence, or in essence, or in our DNA (or all of those, and more)?

In this ritual, it felt as though we had been pulled out of physical time, as a group, and into sacred space-time, and were propelled back in time to engage with the Ancestors in story. Or, was it that they had joined us? Or, was it that space-time does not exist, but the ritual, using metaphors, and using the illusion of pulling us out of physical time had given us an awareness of them in the ‘now’? Already there? Already connected, but unaware? I believe so.

This deep type of remembering, in ritual and liturgy, or meditation is called anamnesis.

Anamnesis is a remembering, or re-membering (a rejoining of members) that makes the original event present to the believer. In a very real sense, ritual negates time and space.

The Passover Seder starts with the question, ‘How is this night different from all other nights?’ Ritual, then, brings the participant into that timeless realm of the sacred in which the time and space that separates the participant from the original event just disappears. It’s not just a casual remembering. It’s a re-experiencing and a re-connectedness to that former event – in this case story and the Ancestors. Anything less that that, is merely mimesis, an imitation or re-enactment. Sadly as regards the latter, (especially, but not only in organised religion(s)), a lot of mimesis goes on in ritual, and misses the point wonderfully (that latter word said somewhat sarcastically).

A slight wind now blew through the encircled people. In a low voice, the Guardian said that this time-space was a Telling Place, a place of story, myth and ‘magic’. Like a ‘thin place’ as Celts and Druids of old would have known it.

For the next twenty minutes he told an ancient story of birth, and death, and re-birth. A story that is as old as the cosmos itself, and full of hope, and evident in the sacred text of many cultures. He went on to say that some know this as Saṃsāra, others know it as Moksha, and yet others know it as the Paschal Mystery. He said it was ‘built into the very fabric of the universe’ and that all are partakers, being inhabitants on this Eucharistic planet.

As a Druidic-Christian, an inclusive and sociable person, I enjoy meeting new people, leading events, sharing deep spiritual truth, and listening to others. It’s by listening and then sharing, like iron sharpens iron, that we grow. In many cases, we’re saying the same thing, but using different words, or coming at it from a different perspective.

After twenty minutes the Guardian concluded the story and sat down, and some others from the circle, as they felt led, shared ancient stories, stories of life, and some shared parts of their individual life-story.

Our stories are as important to the Universe as its story is to us. Could it be that we are the product of the Universe’s wish to be self-aware? If so, there is a wonderful circularity there. Like an electric circuit that is complete and working. The Universe gave birth to us, so that ‘it’ could be aware of itself, and see itself, and did so by (even) including us as part of the Universe, especially, but not only in that Telling Place (story-telling) event.

The idea, then, that we’re separate is an error. We’re included in the cosmos, in nature (or as some might say, ‘life, the universe and everything’), but some, sadly, are unaware of this fact.

After a few minutes had elapsed since the last story-sharer had finished and sat down, the Guardian stood. The bodhrán sounded a slow drumbeat as the Guardian moved in an anti-clockwise direction, pausing at the four cardinal points, and ‘closed’ the meeting by moving back to the centre of the circle and raising his hands momentarily – orans style. The drumming stopped. Everything was still, and oh-so quiet. He said a short blessing-prayer and sat down. Slowly, ‘normal’ time and interaction resumed.

And so, we re-entered physical time. Ofcourse, we all knew that what we had experienced was still true, and still with us. But, we also knew that as humans, and living in the world we do today, that we need to ‘compartmentalise’ our awareness.

True, we can obtain glimpses of ‘real’ reality as we go about our daily life, but we also acknowledged a different mode of ‘operation’ when working in the office, the factory, when driving, or formulating a shopping list – all necessary activates that ‘pull’ us away from deep awareness. Regrettable, but perhaps understandable in living in this society.

Nevertheless, That Which Is Larger Than Ourselves is on your side (so, don’t feel awful about leaving behind those profound times of awareness…but cherish those times when you can fully enter into that liminal space and/or the daily glimpses you might experience). It’s okay to be an ‘amphibian’.

 

Full Moon Ceremony: 7 May, 2020: Your Invitation

full moon may 2020

 

Welcome. The following is an outline of a Full Moon Ceremony online, and you’re invited, and at home during lockdown you can participate and join in the the liturgy, or just let in ‘sink’ deep, from your own home, either ‘live’ or as a recording.

The twenty-five minute video broadcast will appear of my Facebook site (see here), and will still mean you can applaud the NHS workers, if in the UK. at 8pm.

Please check now if you’ve got full access to my Facebook site, and, if so, you’ll see some other videos recorded there. If you don’t see previous video or if you can’t gain full access then press the ‘friends’ link on my Facebook site, I’ll accept as soon as I can, and then try the link again to see if you can gain access then, in readiness for it. If you then can’t get access, or if there’s any ‘challenges’, please email me, at: tadhgtemp@googlemail.com.

I haven’t found a way to put a docx link here to simplify things so you can print out only the Order of the Ceremony – but I’m still working on it. Meanwhile, it maybe best to just print out the following so you can participate, but erase this paragraph and the three above this, before doing so.

 

FULL MOON CEREMONY
Order Of Ceremony 

Thursday, 7 May 2020, at 7.30pm (UK time)
Via Facebook video

GRACE GROVE, LONDON

 

For this ceremony you may need:

• A candle
• Safety matches

 

A CEREMONY FOR THE FULL MOON
Asaph Rite

Intention And Preface
Today our intention is to celebrate the Full Moon and the One Behind It All.
Lauded in many places, the Moon is personified by many. In Wales many know her in as Arianrhod (ah-ree-AHN-rhohd), meaning ‘silver wheel’. And so, to the ancient Celts and Druids, and latter-dy ones, too, she is known as the Silver Wheel that descends into the sea.

The time of the Full Moon can deeply affect us, revealing what was once buried and hidden on a personal and community level. It is a time of self-reflection.

Symbolically, as the Full Moon hangs in the darkened sky it has a way of revealing what is true and what isn’t, what is necessary and what isn’t, and in that there is release; an opportunity for our potential to manifest itself.

Our ancestors were much more in-tune with the night sky, and the cycles of the natural world, and would observe the moon and its phases, using them for practical purposes; for marking the days; for farming; to note the seasons; and for sacred ceremonies, rituals and celebrations.

This Full moon, in May, is known by some as the Milk Moon, or Planting Moon, and others know it as the Bright Moon, or Flower Moon.

Through tonight’s Full Moon Ceremony you will able to reconnect with the natural rhythm of the world which is present in everything, and to re-connect with deep wisdom and guidance in celebrating this Full Moon and the One Behind It All.

And so, come, participate, and join in the endless dance between the Earth and the Moon as we welcome the Bright Moon.

 
See yonder fire! It is the moon,
slowly rising o’er the eastern hill.
It glimmers on the forest tips,
and through the dewy foliage drips
in little rivulets of light,
and makes the heart in love with night.
(Henry Wordsworth Longfellow)

 
Light the Full Moon candle

On Rising
The Source of All is Spirit, and those who worship the Source of All must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24, The Book, paraphrase)

Calling The Quarters
Calling the Quarters, as we turn in sequence to face the four cardinal compass points, helps us to become fully present so we can deeply connect to the world around us, and create safe and sacred space for us all.

Facing East
Guardian of the East, Oh Ancient One of the air,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the wind.

All:
We welcome you.

Facing South
Guardian of the South, Oh Ancient One of the fire,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the flame

All:
We welcome you.

Facing West
Guardian of the West, Oh Ancient One of the waters,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the tides.

All:
We welcome you.

Facing North
Guardian of the North, Oh Ancient One of the earth,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the land.

All:
We welcome you

From the centre, perhaps adopting the orans posture
Guardian of all, Oh Ancient of Days,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with your power.

All:
We welcome you

.
Call For Peace
The call for peace is an affirmation that there is peace amongst us, now; and that peace is offered to the world though not all embrace this, today, but one day will do so.

Is there peace in the East?
All: There is peace in the East.

Is there peace in the South?
All: There is peace in the South.

Is there peace in the West?
All: There is peace in the West.

Is there peace in the North?
All: There is peace in the North.

Throughout the entire land there is peace.

 

The Ancestors Present
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance… and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us… (Hebrews 12:1 pt, The Book)

 
Praise And Gratitude
All/Some of the following praises may be used:

Praise be you, though all your creatures,
through Brother Sun,
through Sister Moon and the stars,
through Brother Wind,
through Sister Water
through Brother Fire,
through Sister Mother Earth.
(Francis of Assisi, Canticle of the Sun, excerpt/adapted)
Give thanks to the Maker of the heavenly lights—
The Maker’s faithful love endures forever.

 

The sun to rule the day,
The Maker’s faithful love endures forever.

And the moon and stars to rule the night.
The Maker’s faithful love endures forever.
(Psalm 136:7-9, The Book, paraphrase)

 

Acknowledging Regret
All/Some of the following may be used:

Creator of All, we have taken the natural world for granted,
and we have misused its resources and spoilt its beauty.
We have not fulfilled the great calling to be good stewards of the earth,
and its bounty we have distributed unequally and unfairly.

All: For this we are truly sorry.

Giver of life,
we acknowledge polluted air, and we groan with creation.
All: We regret.

Giver of Life,
we acknowledge rising global temperatures, and we groan with creation.
All: We regret.

Giver of Life,
we acknowledge poisoned water, and we groan with creation.
All: We regret.

Giver of life,
We acknowledge a plundered earth, and we groan with creation.
All: We regret.
Thanksgiving

Web-maker, Maker and Sustainer of the web of life,
who hears the voice of your children:
We thank you that in days of darkness, you sent light,
in the time of silence, a baby’s cry was heard,
and when we felt lost, you came to us,
for you did not leave us as orphans,
but, you are with us now.
We thank you.

The Work: A Story
The Silver Wheel, the Full Moon moves higher in the sky, and for our ancestors it would have been a miracle, and comforting to see the moon, regular and passing through its phases, and they would have told stories about it. Different cultures, in different countries, at different times would have told profound stories, stories containing deep wisdom or perhaps humour. Here is one story…

Take a few minutes to tell a relevant Moon story.

 

Various Prayers of Request
Some of the following prayers may be used:

Sustainer of the Earth and everything that is,
we bring our earnest requests to you for the plight of nature.

We think of Africa and its special needs, of human, animal and the environment.
We think of Antarctica and it special needs, of human, animal and the environment.
We think of Asia and its special needs, of human, animal and the environment.
We think of Australasia and ocean nations, and there special needs, of human, animal and the environment.
We think of Europe and it special needs, of human, animal and the environment.
We think of the Americas and there special needs, of human, animal and the environment.

 

We see continents and division, but the Moon looks down and sees but one planet.
May the Universe and the One Behind it all, hear our request.

Earth teach us freedom
as the eagle which soars in the sky.
Earth teach us regeneration
as the seed which rises in the spring.
Earth teach us to forget ourselves
as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach us to remember kindness
as dry fields weep with rain.
(Ute prayer, adapted)

Creator of All, grant us the wisdom to care for the earth and till it.
Help us to act now for the good of future generations and all your creatures.
Help us to become instruments of a new creation,
Founded on the covenant of your love.
(The Cry of the Earth, adapted).

Relevant Words
Some of the following sentences may be used during the Quiet Time Of Reflection or after:

Arianrhod in all her splendour, moves by an invisible hand
and wanders companionless, like a silver wheel in the sky. She ascends.
This full moon’s lucid beam dominates the now darkened canopy, and
there, in her smiling face, we find sweet, unbridled understanding.
She befriends.

Her ‘lesser light’ moves across the sky above the city, grey.
Oh, robed in splendour, her surge of silver-light fills every window pane
and skips across rooftops, trees, streams, fairy fires, and silent railway,
and falls unbeknown on those who sleep now, and refreshment regain.
A blessing.

Arianrhod, spill your beauty on a thousand Earthly races,
on happy flowers that bloom in a myriad of hues,
on laughing, smiling, sad and all up-looked faces,
who, in wilding spaces, drink your wine of sweet, bless’d fallen dew.
A gracious infilling.

And paled now is her light,
as onward she moves lower in the sky. For the sun, opportune.
But, for now, dear Arianrhod reigns with love. She is mistress of the night.
A timely witness sent by the Truth who is beyond the Moon.
A glorious remembrance.
(Tadhg Jonathan)

Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light,
Thou seemest most charming to my sight;
As I gaze upon thee in the sky so high,
A tear of joy does moisten mine eye.

Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light,
Thou cheerest the Esquimau/Eskimo in the night;
For thou lettest him see to harpoon the fish,
And with them he makes a dainty dish.

Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light,
Thou cheerest the farmer in the night,
and makes his heart beat high with delight
As he views his crops by the light in the night.

Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light,
Thou cheerest the eagle in the night,
And lettest him see to devour his prey
And carry it to his nest away.

Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light,
Thou cheerest the mariner in the night
As he paces the deck alone,
Thinking of his dear friends at home.

Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light,
Thou cheerest the weary traveller in the night;
For thou lightest up the wayside around
To him when he is homeward bound.

Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light,
Thou cheerest the lovers in the night
As they walk through the shady groves alone,
Making love to each other before they go home.
(William Topaz McGonagall)

Once upon a time I heard
That the flying moon was a Phoenix bird;
Thus she sails through windy skies,
Thus in the willow’s arms she lies;
Turn to the East or turn to the West
In many trees she makes her nest.
When she’s but a pearly thread
Look among birch leaves overhead;
When she dies in yellow smoke
Look in a thunder-smitten oak;
But (in May/now) when the moon is full,
Bright as water and white as wool,
Look for her where she loves to be,
Asleep in a high magnolia tree.
(Elinor Wylie)

Dreaming serenely up the sky
Until exultantly on high,
It shimmers with superb delight,
The silver navel of the night.
We are all like the bright moon, we still have our darker side.
(Kahlil Gibran)

The moon does not fight. It attacks no one. It does not worry. It does not try to crush others. It keeps to its course, but by its very nature, it gently influences. What other body could pull an entire ocean from shore to shore? The moon is faithful to its nature and its power is never diminished.
(Ming-Dao Deng)

I love to think that animals and humans and plants and fishes and trees and stars and the moon are all connected.
(Gloria Vanderbilt)

Always remember we are under the same sky, looking at the same moon. (Maxine Lee)

The moon, full-orbed, forsakes her watery cave,
and lifts her lovely head above the wave;
The snowy splendours of her modest ray
stream o’er the glistening waves, and quivering play;
Around her, glittering on the heaven’s arched brow,
unnumbered stars, enclosed in azure, glow,
thick as the dew-drops of the April dawn,
or May-flowers crowding o’er the daisy lawn;
The canvas whitens in the silvery beam,
and with a mild pale-red the pendants gleam;
The masts’ tall shadows tremble o’er the deep;
The peaceful winds a holy silence keep;
The watchman’s carol, echoed from the prows,
alone, at times, awakes the still repose.
(Willam Julius Mickle)

 

Commitment
Warm-winged Spirit, brooding over creation,
rushing wind and fire,
we commit ourselves to work with you
and renew the world.
(GreenAnglicans, part, adapted)
Source of all our being
and the goal of all our longing,
we believe and trust in you.
The whole earth is alive with your glory,
And all that has life is sustained by you.
We commit ourselves to cherish the your world
And to follow your ways.
(GreenAnglicans, adapted)

Closing The Quarters
Facing East
Guardian of the East, Oh Ancient One of the air,
we thank you for your presence with us today.

All:
We thank you.

Facing South
Guardian of the South, Oh Ancient One of the fire,
we thank you for your presence with us today.

All:
We thank you.

Facing West
Guardian of the West, Oh Ancient One of the waters,
we thank you for your presence with us today.

All: We thank you.

Facing North
Guardian of the North, Oh Ancient One of the earth,
we thank you for your presence with us today..

All:
We thank you.

From the centre, perhaps adopting the orans posture
Guardian of all, Oh Ancient of Days,
we thank you for your presence with us today..


All:
We thank you.

 

Final Blessings
One of the final blessings may be used:

May the beautiful full moon
light up your face,
light up your heart,
and light up you soul.

And may the One Behind It All,
whose image is etched upon the moon,
smile kindly upon you and those whom you love

Extinguish the Full Moon candle

 

[Note: The moon photo, above, is copyrighted by Pennie Ley, and used with kind permission. Gratitude to Pennie [Link]]

 

Copyright © 2020 Tadhg Jonathan Gardner (https://tadhgtalks.me)

Ritual And The Imaginal Realm: Benefits

RITUAL AND THE IMAGINAL

What is the imaginal realm?

The imaginal realm, the realm of sleep dreams, day-dreams and our conscious attempts to enter that realm, mean that it is a powerful place of energy and transformation. It is within and without!

We looked recently at creating a Focus Table for our ritual, but aswell as a focal point it could be seen as an ‘energy enhancer’, a place were we really appreciate the benefits of intentionality.

One way of using both the imaginal realm and that Focus Table, was in the recent spiritual exercise. It was an outline entry into the imaginal realm, a sort of Imaginal Realm 101, but, nevertheless, a profound and beneficial one, and I’d encourage you to try the exercise. It may be best to read and re-read the exercise so that you can do this alone and are familiar with the words. It easier if someone is narrating and guiding you – and this is where I work one-to-one with clients, even via the internet – but do try it by yourself.

‘A Word For The Week’ Spiritual Exercise

Sitting in a room, make yourself comfortable and ensure that you won’t be disturbed for this five minute exercise. Close you eyes, breath deeply, slowly, and imagine.

Imagine that there is a new door in one of the walls of the room, and its ajar. In your mind’s eye, imagine yourself walking towards it (even though, physically, you are still sitting on that chair in your room). And so, you walk towards the door, open it wider and walk through it.

You see a staircase in from of you, going up, with red carpet on it. There’s wood panelling on the walls, and as you climb the stairs you smell a mustiness in the air of old books. A different smell, but not entirely unpleasant.

You get to the top of the stairs, and peer through glass doors, at an old library – the kind that has bookshelves almost to the ceiling and which need a ladder for the uppermost books. You pull on one of the door handles and enter the library – The Great Library.

In your heart your intention is to find a book that will give you a ‘word for the week; in its title, on the book’s spine. As you look around, one book grabs your attention. You take it off the shelf, inspect the spine, and there – there is your word for the week.

You put the book back on its shelf, turn and pull on the door handle, and go through the library stairs. Walking down slowly, you notice the door to your room coming ever closer. You go through that door, and sit in the chair, exactly where you started.

Now you can open your eyes. The exercise is almost over, but to ensure you adequately ‘ground’ yourself (back) in the physical reality I’d suggest you give yourself a round of applause, as any kind of physical action acts as a good grounding ‘mechanism’.

Now, the word! What was your word?

If you have a word that you would like to share do email me. If you know the relevance of the word, and wish to share that too, please do so. If you’re not sure about the word’s meaning, I’ll certainly work with you if you email me, as ‘unpacking’ the results of what happens in that imaginal realm is also part of the work I undertake.

Ofcourse, in one to one sessions, similar to the abovementioned, clients have visited ‘the power station’ for physical or spiritual energy; the ‘field of dreams’ to ‘solidify’ their aims and hopes relating to work, moving location or some other significant decision; the hall of cledon’ for a one-word decisive answer; or a myriad of characters, helpers and allies. In one-to-one sessions, online with Tadhg, where would you like to visit, inwardly in that realm, who would you like to meet?

The interesting thing about the imaginal realm, also, is that is can also be the realm in which to do imaginal rituals as well as doing similar rituals in the physical world.

What is ritual? Here’s an anecdote to explain it.

‘And so, the person standing twenty feet in front of the crowd, stretched out one arm, and with something like a hiking pole in his hand, etched a circle in the soil as he turned in a clockwise manner. The group knew the significance of it. A person said to me, ‘It’s symbolic. Within that circle is sacred space, sacred time, and that’s different from mundane time. Well, It’s time to step into the circle. Ofcourse when you do step into that circle, and later step out, just remember that, as you do so, everything is really sacred. But for now, we do the ritual to help us focus on what’s necessary at this time’’

It has been said that ritual is mumbo jumbo, powerless and done to appease some angry god or the random forces of nature. But this this misses the point wonderfully.

Ritual has power, and is effective, and beneficial.

With clear and concise words and symbolic actions I can say something out loud, and in saying it out loud it seems to clarify my thinking. In doing some symbolic action, ritual, it gives me some kind of peace. I may say ‘bless you’ if you sneeze’, or I may throw a pinch of salt over my shoulder each time I use it, but it’s not mumbo jumbo. It helps me, even if it means I smile when I throw that salt over my shoulder.

Powerless? Not usually. The exchange of rings in a wedding ceremony, the drawing together of the curtains at a crematoria chapel, the lifting up a glass to toast someone contains some form of meaning, and therefore some form of power.

And who is it for? Well, however we see the animating force of the universe, it seems to me that the Universe needs no single human on a planet of eight billion to do anything for it/him/her. But, we get something out of it. The Universe doesn’t need it, but I do believe the Universe may encourage us as it sees us using positive words and actions for the benefit of all sentient beings, and for creation itself.

It’s as if the Universe is a master painter, a classical painter, and its work is creation. And, then the Universe says to us, ‘Here. Here’s the brush and palette, and there is a little corner down there that I’d like you to finish off, and make this masterpiece complete. Perhaps, that is ritual?

Ritual then, can be an individual activity in the physical realm or a group event, but it can also be something that you do in the imaginal realm – infact, utilising the imaginal realm in the way can enhance your ritual. In this way we can undertake rituals for a number of reasons – one which as suggested recently as a spiritual exercise was to use or focus table to send good energy, light and love and healing to all those affected by the coronavirus. This could be a ‘purely’ physical ritual, but I’d like to suggest that you do that as a start, but spend some time going inward, always ensuring you ‘ground’ yourself after with some kind of physical action (ie applause etc).

There’s much more to say about ritual in all realms, and the one-to-one work I undertake, and this will feature in articles and in the Thought For The Day over the next week or two, as well as appearing on a slightly revamped blog, here, to outline one-to-one services etc.

Tadhg Talks Online!

TADHG TALKS GLOBAL TIMES 1

For the foreseeable future, in addition to the regular articles, here, on the blog, TadhgTalks will also be online, on Facebook live!

Tadhg will be leading:

  • a ten minute Thought for the day, each weekday* at 9.30am (UK time, but see below), and
  •  a ritual, or workshop lasting about 20-30 minutes each Monday and Friday at 9.30pm (UK time, but see below)

The Thought For The Day ‘broadcasts will vary in content and style, so do keep in touch and let me know of any suggestions you have. The evening ritual or workshop will also vary in content and style too, and if a ritual it may be possible for you to participate at a distance, so, again, if you have any ideas please do let me know.

  • empowerment, growth, transformation
  • daily living during lockdown
  •  liminality, the imaginal, going deep
  • encouragement
  • your own ritual(s) during self-isolation
  • energy, what it is, perception, how to use it etc
  • blessings (house blessings, pet blessings, blessing others)
  • the caim (and other rituals)
  • ‘thin places’
  • connectedness and being etc

Meanwhile, do let me know how you’re coping with the lockdown or if you have a prayer request (confidentiality, always observed). I’d really like to hear from you.

Do contact me by email at: tadhgtemp@gmail.com

Global times for the Thought For The Day follow (and for the evening ritual/workshop just add 12 hours).

UK & Western Europe: 9.30am;  Central Europe: 10.30am; Eastern Europe: 11.30pm

USA. Alaska: 0.30am; Pacific: 1.30am; Mountain 2.30am; Central: 3.30am; Eastern: 4.30am

Australia: Western: 4.30pm; Norther Territory: 5.30pm; Queensland: 6.30; South: 7pm; NSW: 7.30pm

The times are thought to be correct, but do double-check. I look forward to seeing you there! If you can’t access the video via my Facebook site, do let me know.

Bright blessings to you and those whom you love, Tadhg.

 

* a slight change here to previous note about times.

[PS: Hopefully this reaches you. If posted on other groups’ sites it may transgress their ‘no self promotion’ rule, but there is no charge/cost involved here, and this is only being done as a service to the wider community and those who follow my blog during these tough lockdown times. Thanking the various admin. in advance. Blessings]

 

 

 

 

Greetings: Power & Praxis In Social Distancing

GREETINGS POWER AND PRAXIS IN SOCIAL DISTANCING

‘The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost…’ Galadriel’s voice, The Lord of The Rings, J R R Tolkein

And so the priest raised a hand and conferred a blessing, sometimes both hands were raised; the parent or guardian would say goodbye to their small child by bringing the palm of their hands to their mouth, bring that palm forward just a little and blow, to blow a kiss in the child’s direction; my grandmother would pretend to put her hand too close to the open fire and frown, blow her hand as she shakes it as if it is burnt. Such is the power of this type of symbolism.

From the small sample of the three actions of hand symbolism mentioned there is the conferment of a blessing, the issuing forth of love, and a warning instruction to be careful. Symbolism – we take it for granted but it is powerful as a symbol, but so much more. There is power there!

In the clearing, in ancient England the Druid stood next to the table, the altar, and there to one side was the cauldron. Opinions differ to its usage, but some believe it could have been used to burn fragrant herbs to be used as an offering. Smoke and a wonderful fragrance would fill the air and denote that this was a pure place, a special time, a liminal place, a ‘thin place’. Interestingly, the tribes of the First Nations of America would, at that time, be using their smudge sticks, ‘saging’, in a similar way. And, yes in Scotland similar practices would take place, except there it was (and still is) called saining. Great symbolic ideas seem to come alive, move and are adapted by many, and they gain from it. We gain from it.

Why concern ourselves with symbolism now?

As you know I do like to hug, or at more formal settings I like a handshake, or a combination of the two which is known as the pound hug, the man-hug, the dude hug or one-armed hug. None of which can be done today, and for some months to come, because of the coronavirus and the need for no physical contact.

‘We are symbols, and inhabit symbols.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson

So, what do we do? The world is changed. How do we use different hand and other  symbolism and actions to greet others?

Well, over the past few weeks there have been a variety of new options for greetings. The elbow to elbow tap is one, and some of the friendliest of people would do that with their right elbow to another’s right below, and then left to left. Others would tap their right foot against another’s right foot, and then left to left. And some combined the two so it became a little, comical dance. None of which can be done today and for some months to come because of the coronavirus, and the need to keep some social distancing (which, here in the UK is 2 metres apart, at least).

So, what do we do?

Below, are some fascinating alternatives from around the world, from ancient cultures and new, full of symbolism and power. There are many which can be used and adapted, imaginatively, to greet other people in this non-tactile period and so confer respect and act as a greeting from a distance (unless we’re in ‘lockdown’ in which case we shouldn’t be meeting people)… but these suggested symbolic greetings can also be used when communicating by video links such as FaceTime. Time to change. Time to experiment.

’Symbols are the imaginative signposts of life.’ Margot Asquith

Hand over the heart. The Bellamy salute was used in America, especially in respect to the flag when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. It meant extending and  lifting the right arm just above the horizontal. Some may now think of this as the salute by Nazis and right-wing extremists. Not so, until the rise of Nazism in the second world war. But, around 1942 the Bellamy salute was superseded by placing the right-hand palm on the left side of the chest and over the heart to show love and respect to the American flag and for which is stands. What a wonderful gesture, and a good gesture to others we meet (online) to do the same as an initial greeting as we speak words of greeting, too. A heartfelt gesture?

For some, a variation of this might be a double tap over the heart with an open palm, to denote greeting. A heartbeat, perhaps, denoting the blessing of life? I think a double tap with a closed fist is acceptable too.

Bowing or head-nod. How many times have you crossed a busy street with bags of shopping, whilst a car ddriver has stopped to let you across. You say ‘thankyou’ but it’s unlikely the driver will hear you, and so in all probability you do a slight nod of the head in the drivers direction. That visual  ‘thankyou’ can also be used as a greeting. As is the case in countries such as Japan though the nod may be a bow from the hip upwards. That may be too formal for many of us, but the slight, brief head nod as a greeting seems special enough to be used.

It is customary when meeting the Queen of Great Britian for women to curtsey and for men to do that slight head-nod as she passes by. If you’ve seen the Queen move along a line of dignitaries you will see a myriad of curtsies and head-nods like pistons in and engine. However, there is a story, allegedly true, that Dennis Skinner, an MP (then) and not one for giving to respecting the office of the monarch, was determined not to head-nod as she passed by. It is said that the Queen, who occasionally stops to talk to some of the line of dignitaries, and having spied Skinner in the line, deliberately stopped to speak to him in the quietest of voices. His immediate and reflex action was to move his head closer to the Queen’s to catch her words to give a reply. Yes, the Queen in that one brief moment gained a head-nod of respect from Skinner even without him knowing it. Allegedly.

Hand wave. In British Sing Language the typical greeting of ‘hello’ is a simple wave of the hand. With the elbow bent and the hand brought up to shoulder level, you simply wave your hand. I believe in American Sign Language the right hand is brought up to the side of the head and the action resembles a military salute. Perhaps done with less formality and covering a shorter distance before the salute ends.

’As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelite were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalakites were winning…. When Moses’ hands grew heavy…then Aaron and Hur held his hands up, one on each side’. Exodus 17:11-12 part, The Book

The ‘v’ sign. Popularised by the hippie movement of the 1960’s the ‘peace’ sign, which can be used in these weird times, consisted of making the letter ‘v’ with the index and middle fingers, the other digits brought together, and with the palm of the hand facing the recipient. Ofcourse, many will now that to do this sign with the back of the hand to the recipient is a grave insult. Odd that Winston Churchill, the UK’s wartime Prime Minister used it that way when addressing crowds of supporters and at rallying speeches throughout the country! Perhaps, intentional and directed at the enemy at the time?

The ‘vulcan’ salute is a novel one. One your right hand bring all your fingers together, thumb apart, and then separate the middle finger from the ring finger. You can say or mouth the words ‘Live long and prosper’, or even say that in the Vulcan language and then it would be, ‘dif-tor heh smusma’, but that may be taking things too far.

Used copiously by Leonard Nimoy who played the Vulcan known as Spock in Star Trek, and by many others since, its origin comes from ancient Hebrew. At a certain part in their ritual the Jewish Kohanim, the priest, would raise his right hand and make that sign. It resembles the Hebrew letter ‘shin’ which has three upward strokes and refers to the deity.

Double-handed heart. Cupping the fingers of the left hand to form the shape of a ‘c’, and doing the same cupping action with the right hand and bringing them together forms a heart shape. Maybe best used for those you know affectionately, rather then the CEO of your company during a teleconferencing session. To ‘add’ power to that symbolism the hand ‘heart’ can be moved several inches toward the recipient to show the act of giving.

‘I think that a symbolism is attached to particular images, becomes marked in the unconscious. To exorcise it, to rearrange it, to reshape it, to make it my own, involves unearthing it, describing it, deploying it in form, and then rearranging it [again].’ Sarah Charlesworth.

Namaste. This is one of my favorites and is used by many throughout the world and in the west. It’s simply bringing both the palms of your hands together, in front of your chest, usually with arms as close to horizontal as appropriate, coupled with the spoken word ‘namaste’ (pronounced nam-ass-stay), which means something like, ‘I bow to the divine within you’.

However, there are some symbolic actions of greetings that might not quite make assimilation into western thought. In one ancient Asian country, a ninth century cruel king had a black tongue. Monks, after he died, would poke out their tongues to greet people to show they were not the reincarnation of that callous black-tongued king, and that action of greeting passed onto the people, even today.

‘What I want to tell people is that you can mix the culture a little bit and it’s not always appropriation.’ Jain

I hope the abovementioned has given you a passion to take what is out there and adapt it appropriately to your need and sensitively depending on its origin. For thousands of years action and symbolism has passed from one tribe to another, one country to another, and each have shared their beliefs and actions, which , in turn, have ‘evolved’ over time. And, we are the better for it.  In the tough days ahead of temporary self-isolation and ‘lockdown’ because of the coronavirus we need a new ‘alphabet’ of symbolic greeting, and I do believe that societal journey, a remarkable one, has only just begun.

 

Fear Knocked At The Door [Cosmic Thoughts At Sainsbury’s]

FEAR KNOCKED AT THE DOOR

And so, I extinguished the single candle, symbolically showing that the ceremony was over. As I sat there, imaginally coming out of that sacred time-space into the mundane (if there is such a distinction) I clapped my hands. The latter, is grounding, and a good way to physically declare that ‘normality’ has been achieved.

Having tidied up, I picked up the shopping list and headed towards the door.

We are ‘amphibians’, of sorts. We live in the world of the physical universe where it’s necessary to be aware of time, to buy food and eat it, and yet we commune with the Beyond. Probably not at the same time, usually, but in one sense that demarcation is artificial and an illusion, and those who are aware of that joining of ‘the two rivers’ are best placed to experience liminality, a ‘thin place’, a peak experience, and go deeper.

’She was half human….half universe’ (A R Lucas)

But, we are ‘amphibians’ moving through two realms. Sainsbury, however, in these days of the coronavirus, was an experience that ‘brought me down to earth’. The long aisle which usually houses a glorious mix of vegetables on either side of the aisle, empty. Completely empty. I turned the corner, and entered the aisle where fridges on either side would normally house meat. Empty. Completely empty.

Some people ambled around with a single shopping basket, others meandered with those huge shopping trolleys full and overflowing with toilet paper, pasta, and bottled water. And not just one or a few of each products, but dozens!

’It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair …’ (Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens)

Shopping at Sainsbury’s was an experience. Some people were even tempered and moderate in their buying prowess. Others seemed to exude fear and panic. Electric tension filled the air.  They had that grim look of determination on their faces that declared that all should move out of their way as they charged towards the checkout with more than enough. Ofcourse, ordinarily, that wouldn’t have mattered, but these are extraordinary times. Their shopping trolley abundance meant that, perhaps, others with their shopping basket would go without.

As a species have the ability to dance with the gods, and yet some still persist in picking up the jaw bone of an animal to slay their neighbour, metaphorically. Now, I know people are frightened, scared of what might happen, but we have a choice.

Fear or hope? We need to choose well.

There is a story, a fable purportedly that comes from one of the American First National people. ‘One day a small child ambled towards their grandfather, and said, ‘Why is it that it feels like there are two dogs fighting within me, grandfather?’.

‘Indeed’, he said, ‘there are two dogs fighting within every person. One dog is crafty, wicked, greedy and violent. He looks out only for himself. The other dog looks out for all people. And, he is honest and kind, full of grace and generous. But, they fight.’.

‘So, grandfather,’ the small child said now rather worried, ‘which one wins?’

The small child’s grandfather replied, ‘Ah, whichever one you feed!’

We’re living through tough times at the moment, and we have a choice. It’s easy to be nice and loving, to declare our spirituality or religiosity to others when the going is good. But, the real test of our faith, our spirituality and love for humanity is how we react when the going is tough. It doesn’t matter how many Bible verses we’ve memorised or whether we can recount major parts of the work of Talisin, whether we wear a fish badge or the hammer of Thor if we don’t have a spirituality that is deeper than that, that looks at fear and replaces it with hope, and acts in a way that shows love to others whatever happens.

‘Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there’. (English proverb)

This article is an encouragement to you and myself not to give in to any fear we may experience – and we may, but to rise above it and to consider others as much as ourselves. We have a choice. Choose well.

These times are ‘…a test of our solidarity, our common sense and our love for each other’. (Angela Merkel).

It is difficult for each one of us, but it is the Golden Rule, and it’s logical, and it works, and it’s great to do and receive; that is to ;treat others as you would want them to treat you’.

And, so having bought a bottle of bleach (you can never have too much bleach), a jar of Marmite (you either love it or hate it), and having bought half a dozen small beers (someone said beer was a sign that God loved us), I headed towards the self checkout area, scanned the products, knowing that the green, amber and red lights on the pole would blink red. A sign for one of the shop assistants to come over, put a code in the machine to show I was of an age to buy alcohol. And, it blinked furiously.

She saw the red, blinking light. A stony-faced woman (the kind you would never play power with), tired and fed up, headed towards my direction. It had obviously been a tough day for her. She had probably had to deal with a myriad of impatient, complaining customers arguing over the last toilet roll in this massive supermarket.

‘It’s blinking red because I’ve bought alcohol’, I said. As she came closer I pulled out my driving licence and waved it in her direction, theatrically, and said, ‘Here’s my age ID’. She looked at my driving licence, looked at me – seeing me as a youthful sixty-five year old face – and laughed. I laughed too. Her stony-face and the angst of many angry customers simply melted from her face, disappeared into the Universe, and she cheered up. ‘I appreciate what you do,’ I said. She responded with a pleasing, ‘Thank you, that means so much to me’.

I am just like you, knowing that we often undervalue people who do the toughest of jobs. But, your mission and mine, should you and I choose to do it, is to treat others the way you would like them to treat you, tomorrow.

In AD 1416 at about the age of seventy-three Julian of Norwich passed on. She had spent most of her life as a deeply spiritual woman, wrote some great words and spoke out, about hope, in an age when institutions around her were negative, blaming the poor, and a plague killed millions of people in Europe. Like a beacon of hope in a dark, fearful, seemingly hopeless world, she reached out, bucked the trend, got into an awful lot of trouble for speaking the truth, and her words are as important today to us as they were then.

’All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well’. (The Lady Julian of Norwich)

These are tough times. Don’t feed the fears, please. It’s going to get better. We can do it. It’s not easy. We have a choice. We can do it – tomorrow is yet another opportunity to brighten someone’s day and be a beacon of hope and love. And, I believe that what we give out, comes back to us a thousand times bigger. So, get ready for a huge blessing.

 

The Caim Ritual: When Healing Is Needed: Coronavirus

THE CAIM CORONAVIRUS ACTION

Many are sick. The virus is spreading. Here is something you might consider doing. Ritual! Or, more specifically a caim ritual adapted to the need of the moment.

We are all aware of the coronavirus and the effect is it having. A few have written to me and asked for a simple ritual that can be conducted, in requesting a healing of people and the planet. The following ritual was conducted by me a few days ago, and you might like to use it in your ritual, quiet time or meditation time as a one-off or periodically. Do adapt it, as needed.

Introduction To The Caim: What Is It?

The caim is a profound ‘circling’ prayer used by ancient Celts and others over several millennia. It is still used by the discerning and those who know its power. 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. It is pronounced like the word ‘came’.

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, but 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.

The caim can be adapted, and has been adapted for the healing ritual that follows.

The Caim For World Healing In The Light Of The Coronavirus

You might like to use the following caim, either with your grove, church or group, or by yourself. It is a simple ritual that should take no more that ten minutes or so, and can be a stand-alone ritual or incorporated in a larger ritual you might have. It was used by me and a small group a few days ago.

The Caim Ritual 1: Preparation

It is preferable to have a time of entering into sacred space, and there are many ways of doing this – some have been mentioned in previous articles, but sitting quietly, meditating, perhaps lighting a candle is the simplest way. It marks an entering into liminal and sacred space and time – a place of power.

The Caim Ritual 2: The Threefold Prayer

On the central table lay a map of the world. Those present, as we all looked at the map, focussed on the plight of people affected by the coronavirus and its spread.

As the group remained seated, at a pre-arranged time designated people stood, moved nearer the table, to the space around it, and, one by one, spoke the following:

‘Let us think about all those at risk of catching the coronavirus, the general public and public service workers, that the virus may be eradicated’, someone said. We thought on this, and for a full minute we meditated in silence and power.

And, then:

‘Let pray and send good-thoughts to those who are have the coronavirus, that they may be quickly restored to full health’, someone said. We thought on this, and for a full minute we meditated in silence and power.

And, then:

‘Let us remember those who have passed-on, those now in the Place of Peace, acknowledging and honouring their passing-on, and let us remember those grieving at this time’, someone said. We thought on this, and for a full minute we meditated in silence and power.

The Caim 3: The Quarters

And, then I then moved to central table.

After a minute or so, I encouraged all to face south, the place of fire. I said, ‘Let us lift up holy hands to the south, and seek the healing purity of fire at this time’. And, all faced south and raised their hands. Some repeated the words, whilst others said ‘amen’, or ‘awen’ or their word of affirmation.

After, a minute or so I encouraged everyone to stand.

After a minute or so, I encouraged all to face west, the place of water. I said, ‘Let us lift up holy hands to the west, and seek the healing freshness of water at this time’. And, all faced west and raised their hands. Some repeated the words, whilst others said ‘amen’, or ‘awen’ or their word of affirmation.

And, then:

After a minute or so, I encouraged all to face north, the place of earth/soil. I said, ‘Let us lift up holy hands to the north, and seek the healing abundance of the soil at this time’. And, all faced north and raised their hands. Some repeated the words, whilst others said ‘amen’, or ‘awen’ or their word of affirmation.

And, then:

After a minute or so, I encouraged all to face east, the place of the wind. I said, ‘Let us lift up holy hands to the east, and seek the healing breath of the mighty wind of (the) Spirit’. And, all faced east and raised their hands. Some repeated the words, whilst others said ‘amen’, or ‘awen’ or their word of affirmation.

In facing the cardinal points I started with facing south. This ensured we ended up facing east, the place of the wind, especially pertinent bearing in mind the quote below (though you can vary the cardinal start point).

The words of ‘peace’ and ‘healing’ are intertwined. In the spiritual realm to seek or ask for peace is to seek healing; to seek or ask for healing is to ask for peace. Either word can be used. Or, you can use both.

The raising of ones hands, healing hands, is symbolic of sending a blessing and/or healing, and could be viewed as an enacted parable (something which the sages or prophets of old, as recorded in ancient sacred text, did). I like to think of each person being a conduit – receiving power from Beyond and disseminating it through their hands to the world (rather like the thought behind the powerful and meaningful dance of the whirling dervishes).

‘The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.’ John 3:8b, The Book (Contemporary English Version)

And, then:

And then, facing inward, facing the table as all raised their hands, I put a pebble of Larimar on the world map on the table, and said, ‘Great Spirit of All, heal the world of this virus’. Some repeated the words, whilst others said ‘amen’, or ‘awen’ or their word of affirmation.

Optionally. As we lifted hands this time, I asked that, those who wished to, to imagine a golden light moving from this place and encompassing the world – this is the healing light of the Spirit reaching all.

Now, Larimar is a special stone, known by some to have healing properties, and to associated with the elements of water and fire – both necessary for healing, both relevant to this ritual. The placing of the Larimar stone on the map is symbolic, so you can substitute something else for it. Other stones that you might use, instead, are agate, jade or quartz – or perhaps, something symbolic of healing and wellness such as soap or a tissue or even a vitamin tablet. This is not to belittle the ritual, but rather to work out a physical action of an inner and spiritual request, and place it on the world map. Or, you could write the word ‘healing’ on a piece of paper, and place it on the world map. Ultimately, it is intentionality and powerful symbolism that is important.

The Caim 4: Conclusion

We sat in silence for a while and ended the ritual, except that we were reminded that in all rituals, physical action follows. So, all were reminded to be vigilant and follow health officials’ suggestions of catching sneezes in tissues and binning the tissues, of not touching your face, and of handwashing with soap thoroughly at regular intervals. The ritual is in addition to the usual hygiene needed to ward off the coronavirus, and isn’t a substitute.

We concluded the ritual by grounding/earthing ourselves – that is I extinguished the candle; and all clapped, a physical action to denote a moving from liminal and sacred space and time to ‘ordinary time’ (as if there really is such a thing) and an action which many believe raises the power.

 

Celebrating Alban Eiler: Spring Equinox [Ephemera]

CELEBRATING ALBAN EILER

It’s spring, and the time of being half way through the season is fast approaching.

Yes, the Spring equinox (at least in the northern hemisphere) edges closer and closer, and this year falls on Friday, 20 March 2020. It’s a time of rejoicing as new energy is poured out and life in its fullness grows. Is it any wonder that the church in centuries gone by ‘overlaid’ Easter at this time of year – Easter Sunday, this year, being 12 April.

Blessed are you, Boundary- Crosser,
for breaking through the hard surfaces,
for coming in the quiet like the birdsong,
on the edge of night and day.

I wake into this day with you.
or
I lie down to sleep resting in you.

(Tess Ward, ‘The Celtic Wheel Of The Year)

The stars in the sky mark the seasonal boundaries, and as the sun traverses the sky in a great circle throughout the year, it crosses boundaries, and ushers in, not just a new season, but new thought and vitality. Who doesn’t feel  (generally) more energised waking up on a March morning than, say, compared to  a December morning.

’Spring adds new life, and new beauty to all that is.’ (Jessica Harrelson)

Many groups will celebrate the event by nominating a spring maiden with a basket of flowers or eggs, or both. The eggs representing new life, and the fertility of the Earth and creation. Days are getting longer, the weather is warming up a little, and the seeds of winter can now shoot forth. It’s getting lighter!

In Wales, and to many others, the deep name of the Spring equinox is Alban Eilir, which means ‘The Light of the Earth’, as light and life take precedence. Not just animal life or plant life, but all life as many ancients, and Celts and Druids and others today. see life in all living things, from rocks and stones, to rivers and springs, plants and trees – all life is sacred.

’I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’ (Luke 19.40, The Book)

The ancient Celts and others, even today (myself included) believed that the physical, spiritual and mental levels were intertwined, connected in perfect balance. And the Spring equinox (equinox meaning equal night) is the time of year when the days, in getting longer and longer, are equal in length to the night just for that one point in time (until later on in the year). After that,spring days are longer than the night, until midsummer.

So, do celebrate it. I know of few people that will celebrate it on the evening of Wednesday, 20 March as the ancients started their new days on the preceding evening, and a few groups/groves etc) will be celebrating it on the following Sunday.

‘The beautiful spring came, and when nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also’. (Harriet Ann Jacobs)

With celebration in mind, below is a song (penned by me some time ago), and set to an old, memorable, Irish/Celtic tune. The words can be recited and used by you as a celebratory poem or spoken as liturgy, but if you use the words as a song it can sung to the old, wonderful and mysterious Gaelic tune ‘Siuil a Ruin’, (click here for the tune – in that recording there is a musical preamble and the actual tune, which ‘fit’ the words below, starts at about fifteen seconds into the recording). It is a song of praise about nature, and to the One behind it all, That Which Is Larger Than Ourselves.

Lord of the Spring we honour you,
we thank you for na-ture’s green,
(for) the Earth’s beauty no-ow seen.

Light and darkness dance together well,
in perfect, balanced humility,
in flower, plant and mighty tree.

Chorus: Slowly, slowly the Circle turns
and nature’s smile is seen by all.
Ho-ow is nature good to us.

Sacred time as the moon rises high
New life comes from that which did die,
new birth comes to us in the by and by.

Wolf and lamb, lion and leopard, too
Shall live one day in sweet harmony
As nature moves , and the Circle turns.

Chorus: Slowly, slowly the Circle turns
and nature’s smile is seen by all.
Ho-ow is nature good to us.

How will you celebrate Alban Eiler? I haven’t decided yet, but I may go for a long country walk and experience the elements – the wind and rain, sunshine, and rocky terrain. Or, go somewhere with a friend of two and experience ‘dragon energy’, those liminal places where we feel closer to the Other. Maybe have breakfast with them in a rural spot (but if you aren’t able to leave an urban environment you can still go for an early town or city walk, meet friends in the park and have breakfast in a local café.) I might make  small shrine of spring flowers – buying them rather than picking them (which may be illegal in many areas). Or, maybe I’ll sit quietly near a large, old and wise tree and meditate. I’ll let you know. But, I do intend to come back to the theme of the Spring equinox as we still have some time to explore its significance to us today.

[Note: The header photo is of one of the guardians of the Forest – one of a number of dramatic sculptures placed in Thetford Forest, which straddles the north of Suffolk and the southern park of Norfolk, in the UK. They are designed to promote understanding about the need to protect our woodlands and forests, and nature in general. Designed by Tom Piper MBE, and  sculptured by Lisa Wright, I visited these awesome sculptures last year, and they remain in place until the end of May 2020. See here for more details.]

Ooops! Apologies for having the equinox date wrong. Now corrected, Tadhg

You Are Dust, Stardust: Reflections On A Wednesday

STARDUST REFLECTIONS ON A WEDNESDAY

If you’re in the United Kingdom and hold to those old traditions and customs then you will know that yesterday was Ash Wednesday. The day before, Tuesday, commonly known as Pancake Day, was when, so it is said, in years gone by,  it was the day to use up the flour as Lent, a time of fasting, was about to begin. And what better way to use up that flour than by making pancakes, coupled with sugar, syrup and/or fruit, and lemon juice. As a wee lad I can remember trying to flip the pancake over as it cooked in the frying pan and usually (but not always) getting it right. Great fun and a good tradition that many, even today, experience.

But, yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the day when, apparently, we are to remember the fact that we’re dust, animated dust, earth, or (poetically) clay! It’s a time of reflection, to consider our humility and frailty. And, what follows is a reflection on that!

We are (earthly) dust!

The ancients, living in a pre-industrialised, pre-scientific, pre-computerised age would have been more easily be able to reflect on this. It was there evident in their daily life: the cycle of birth, growth, death, re-birth etc. The changing of the seasons, growth from the soil, abundance and then decay as plant matter rotted and became fodder for the next year’s growth. All this would have been known to them, and death and dust would have been very familiar to them. As would their humility to the forces of nature, and their frailty.

‘…Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.’
(Genesis 3.19b, The Book)

It might seem morbid to dwell on this, but we live in an age of scientific marvels and do things in such a way that the experience of witnessing the demise of those around us is minimised, that we can become forgetful that we are dust! We are frail creatures! And, we only have a limited time here! Even if we don’t uphold the Ash Wednesday tradition, I do believe there is some mileage in thinking upon it, and what it means to us.

But, you know me – there’s more – and life here is followed by a returning to something else that continues onward, which some call the Summerland, heaven, elysium, arcadia, valhalla, nirvana or Jannah.

But, it’s good to remember that we are dust and will return to dust one day, for then it will encourage us to use the time we have here even better than we might hitherto have done. In this form, we only have now! And, Ash Wednesday is a great time to reflect upon that.

‘In reality, we are all travellers – even explorers of mortality’, (Thomas S Monson)

However if you didn’t get around to reflecting upon that fact today, and maybe wanted to have some form of quiet meditation, or liturgy, or poem reading to add to the event, you can always do that tomorrow. It’s intentionality rather than the exact timing that is important.

But, there’s more.

But, there’s always a flip side to these ideas, and always a balancing thought. We are dust, and will one day return to dust, and so we’re encouraged to make good use of the time. But. It’s not all negative. Apart from the Summerland, heaven, elysium etc, we can view our ‘dustly’ composition in another way.

We are stardust!

Yes, many of you will know that I’m an amateur astronomer. Nothing pleases me more than gazing up at the moon and its phases, the progression of planets across the night sky, and the constellations that rise, like Orion denoting the winter months are here, and fall in the sky as the seasons change. They are are great way to mark the seasons, and something the ancients, our spiritual ancestors, would have been doing for several millennia, quite naturally. Unlike them, I’m be blessed with such ‘tools’ as a Meade LX200 12 inch telescope (computer controlled), a planisphere, and a star atlas. But, the awe of gazing up and looking back into the distant past is always, always thrilling, as it must have been to them.

We are connected!

In looking up, we look at the Universe and a myriad of points of lights which are stars and galaxies. But, in doing so, we often make the mistake as though there’s some invisible barrier between us and the Universe. Yes, we live on the Earth and have a biosphere that makes life possible, but anyone looking this way, say from Alpha Centauri, would see our sun as just another point of light in their night sky, and not differentiate it from the Universe.

‘We are stardust,
we are golden,
and we’ve got to get ourselves
back to the garden’

(Joni Mitchell, Woodstock)

In many senses, there is no barrier, no separation, and the idea that the Universe is ‘out there’ and we are ‘down here’ is an illusion – and probably one that our ego quite likes as it makes us feel different, and therefore special.

But, the greater revelation, I believe, is to consider that we’re so special that we’re no different, in essence, to the Universe and have a special part to play in it. We are stardust, we are in the Universe and the Universe is in us, and we are the conscious part of the Universe looking back to itself. We are the stuff of stars! Star dust.

‘We are stardust, in the highest exalted way,
Called by the universe, reaching out, to the universe,
We are stardust, in the highest exalted way,
Reaching out, to the universe, with these methods and tools of science,

We are part of this universe,
We are in this universe,
The universe is in us,
Yes, the universe is in us’.

(We Are Stardust, Symphony of Science. Hear the song/see the video here.)

There are different ways of thinking about our connectedness to the Universe. The ancients celebrated the season and they believed what happened ‘up there’ affects ‘down here’. I don’t think they were far off the mark. NASA regularly montiors the sun for sunspots and coronal mass ejections of plasma, for instance, and issues warnings about ‘space weather’ which can affect national and corporate satellites, GPS, and even national electric grids. Others, may have ritualized that connection as in the first few chapters of Genesis, and still others by telling the story of Indra’s web (see here).

And, so today, as you read this do remember you are dust: connected, cosmic star dust!

 

The Heroes Journey For You & I: Return To Innocence

THE HEROES JOURNEY RETURN TO INNOCENCE

Many will know that I love to return to the wilderness, and especially to the wilds of north Wales periodically.

What is it that calls out to me?

One can only be in awe of the grandeur of the Welsh landscape, the rugged environment, the grey-green of the slate-grass, the heaven-ascending mountains, fresh valley streams, and wet, ragged sheep ambling this way and that, near Capel Curig. The call of the ancients still echoes on the mountains and in the valleys, here, and I must respond.

We are all on a journey , a heroes journey, and sometimes to advance on that twisting, unpredictable adventure of life we need to retrace our steps. We need to revisit those places of the past, and perhaps see them anew for the first time. Like a pole vaulter preparing for the high jump, he or she needs to pace backwards before starting the fast run to propel them over the bar.

‘The mountains are calling and I must go.’ John Muir

I’m back. I’m back at Drws i fyd arall (pronounced ‘droo zi fid arrah’), two trees in a forest clearing named by my friends and I when we were wee lads and lasses, and we imagined the two arched-together silver birch trees was a doorway to another place. And, those Welsh words aptly mean ‘door to another world’.

Such is the imagination of children.

Back in this place it seems to me that there is a circularity to each of our lives. As I look at those two leaning-together trees, forming an arched ‘door’, there is a remembrance that is unchanging, and yet something has changed.  We can return to the beginning and learn, partly because our  circumstances may have changed, partly because the world has changed, and partly because we have changed. Same places, new discoveries awaiting.  As I look at those two trees, they seem much, much smaller. It’s me. I’ve grown physically bigger.

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

Physically bigger and stronger than I was when I first encountered these trees as a child, there is deep down an ‘electric’ energy that seems to speak inwardly, now. Inaudibly I hear the words,  ‘Wait, for there is now more for you to know’. Doesn’t that apply to all of us? I  believe so. There is more, and if we pause in our busy schedules knowledge and wisdom will be revealed. Even in the mundane, places that we visit infrequently, places that we visit on a daily basis, in rural areas and in cities, the Voice speaks constantly, and if we still ourselves we will hear the Bat Kohl (the Daughter’s voice), the voice of the Source of All.

If, as a young lad, I believed that these two trees was a door to another realm, at least in my imagination, I don’t think I was far wrong. Now I have a greater understanding and more words to describe it. Now, I can comprehend deeper things, and yet know we all stand on the horizon of expectation and greater wisdom,  and are moving forward.

There are ‘doors’ set before each one of us – doors of opportunity that we might walk through easily, say, at work; doors of relationship and commitment that might take some work; doors of adventure, always. And, other ‘doors’ that present themselves in a myriad of forms, and at odd, awkward or unexpected times that are of a different. Drws i fyd arall is such a door. They are ‘doors’ which enter our daily life and take our breath away or speak deeply to us of that which is Beyond. Each encounter, each liminal or threshold experience is different, but you will recognise it as something deep and spiritual when it happens. The Causer of Deep Things will ensure you notice the encounter.

‘What you seek is seeking you.’ Rumi

It might require some effort to put ourselves in the way of such adventures,  if we feel the need. But, if the Source of All wants an encounter, then it will happen. The event’s production and occurrence isn’t up to us, thankfully. However, I do believe it is important to draw to one side, and that may mean pausing, or meditation in a forest or our even in living room, to pray in a group or singly, to recite some liturgy or perform a ritual so that we are attentive and accepting of them when they occur. Such activities are not for the benefit of the Source of All, nor to appease the Source (and why ever would we feel the need to do that?). No, pausing, meditation, prayer, liturgy and ritual are for our benefit.

Those two trees, Drws I fyd arall are in front of me, and as I sit on a felled log, I half-close my eyes and listen, inwardly. The forest sounds seem to ‘retract’ into the distance, and even though I can still feel the damp air on my skin it means less to me that it did. And, I wait. And listen. And wait.

’Every particle of creation sings its own song of what is and what is not. Hearing what is can make you wise; hearing what is not can drive you mad.’ Ghalib

I can feel damp, dead leaves under my feet. The life of trees is circular. Leaves grow to catch sunlight for photosynthesis, and are discarded when the sun is low in the sky and the temperature  drops. Leaves then become an incumbrance to the tree. But, in shedding them, much needed nutrients are released by them into the soil as they rot, and are collected by the tree’s roots, and the tree benefits in other ways. And, the following spring, trees adorn themselves with leaves once more. The perfect economy of nature.

Behind me, I can hear the soporific sound of a babbling brook. I’d stepped across it an hour ago – and at this point in the forest it is less than one foot deep and not more than three feet wide.  It’s quite fast for it’s size, and it meanders through the forest without a care in the world – except to be a babbling brook, to flow, and to do what a babbling brook does. And, it moves exquisitely along its course.

’How can you follow the course of your life if you do not let it flow?’ Lao Tzu

And, as I relaxed and bask in the forest around me, high above I could hear birdsong. Sitting in the trees, I could pick  our several birds by their unique birdsong. It was beautiful.

Resting high above me, they sang songs of joy. ‘Our hearts are just small birds waiting’, wrote mark Nepo.

An hour later, I was back home. But, I just had to sit quietly and ‘unpack’ the encounter. Some encounters can take your breath away, metaphorically or physically knock you off your feet. Others are more subdued in effect, but nonetheless real. Do not let ego, or other people’s ego inform you that the subdued kind of encounter is of a lesser quality than theirs or of any other kind. An encounter, is an encounter, is an encounter.

What was the commonality between those three experiences of damp leaves, a babbling brook, and birds and birdsong? It may vary from person to person, and it may be that you have your own ideas. And, ofcourse, it could be that you are experiencing an encounter now in reading this, in which case do meditate deeply on the ‘message’ from Beyond, for you! Who is to say that in reading this you are not encountering?

For me, the ‘message’ was that trees do what trees do and there is a (circular) purpose to it; brooks do what brooks do and enjoy their meandering course through the forest, almost oblivious to everything else; and the birds in those ancient trees burst into joyful birdsong and are scattered, they fly away, when something ‘big’ takes place – a noise, a nearby predator etc. They wait until an opportune time.

Everything flows.

Everything has its place. Everything, including you and I have our place in the great cosmic dance of life, which is unending – it changes in many ways (just as we grow in stature etc), it is transformed, it moves (in unexpected ways), and it flows, and it is unending.

And now for the application. It is necessary to earth such experiences. A good, in-depth and internal experience, however meaningful, will stay there unless it is earthed, grounded, and worked out in our daily life.

How do I apply that encounter and the ‘message’ to my daily life? Major decisions lay ahead for me. It might sound too easy to say I will emulate the tree and shed what is unnecessary – but isn’t that the lesson here for me?. I believe so. We do need a periodic ‘spring clean’ to offload what is holding us back. What was good and beneficial then, might be a ‘boulder on our back’ slowing us down, now. Decisions need to be made – tough choices. And, doubts will creep in. That’s part of what it means to be human. We have the ability to reflect and be objective. And the greater the decision, perhaps, the greater the doubts. And, the greater the reward. Do not lose heart.

But, don’t be perturbed as if you are being singled out – and it probably will feel like it – but it’s common to all humanity especially when we face major challenges ahead. But,  I need to offload some things and travel lighter. The brook meanders this way and that way effortlessly. Perhaps, there are times when no resistance is needed. The concept of wu wei wu (Chinese words, pronounced ‘woo way woo’) is ‘action-no-action’, a free -flowing spontaneity, that is, that sometimes the best way forward is acceptance.

…The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going’. John 3.8b, The Book.

 I need to accept more of what is coming (but that’s not to say we cannot and shouldn’t make course corrections along the way – that too is part of our humanity). And, those chirping birds that rest in high and ancient trees, and then fly. I need, having rested, to trust in flight (more), and be borne on the high winds, to have faith, to travel to diverse encounters, adventures and happenings.

Don’t be afraid to be weak.
Don’t be too proud to be strong.
Just look into your heart my friend.
That will be the return to yourself.
The return to innocence.

(Song by Enigma)

And now, to action! ‘Allons-y’, as the French say. ‘Let’s go!’.