Dark Of The Moon: 15 May 2018 [Ephemera: New Moon]

201800512 THE DARK OF THE MOON 15 MAY NEW MOON EPHEMERASome of you will know that I am an amateur astronomer, having been encouraged to observe the night sky and especially the constellations many years ago by my dad.

It was my dear mum and dad who also bought me my first, albeit small, telescope when I was a wee lad. Oh, I loved that telescope. Treasured it. It opened up a hitherto unseen dimension and gave me a different perspective, and not just astronomically-scientifically. That passion has never left me.

’When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.’ Mahatma Gandhi

My long-time fascination with astronomy – then a small pocket-size telescope and now many years later with a motorised, computerised ‘tracking’ 12 inch Meade telescope – also fits well with my nature-inquisitiveness and nature-appreciating disposition, as well as the chosen path of being a latter-day Celt and Christo-Druid (or is that a Druidic-Christian?). Amazing how life unfolds.

In thinking about astronomical, cyclical events (something which Celts, Druids, ancient Hebrews and Christians, and many other ancient and noble cultures would have celebrated, and later-day adherents still do) I would commend some kind of pausing, ritual, appreciation to the Source of All at the time of the full moon and/or this new moon.

Tonight the moon kisses the stars.
O beloved, be like that to me.
(Rumi)

When we look up we view the heavens we might think that we are separate from them, but in essence we ‘swim’ through space as if in a rocket and there is no separation. We ‘swim’ through space because our feet are firmly planted on the Earth, which as a planet in the solar system and ‘swims’ through space. We are space explorers and space-citizens, indeed we are space-connected, in every sense of the word(s).

For me the full moon is most energising and awesome for giving thanks and for ritual, as well as pouring out its light in abundance for the practical purposes of late evening ritual and safety. However, recently some have email me to ask for some consideration to be given to the new moon, which for them is equally energising and awesome for ritual. I am most happy and privileged to oblige. New moons, like full moons, are great times to praise The One Behind It All, That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves.

‘…people…are not the only creatures capable of praising God, after all, There are also wolves and seals. There are also wild geese and humpback whales. According to the Bible, even trees can clap their hands.’ Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar In The World.

The next new moon is on the morning of Tuesday, 15 May 2018.

Did you know, that even today, in Cornwall, south-west England some people nod to the new moon and turn the silver coins in their pockets. In Edinburgh some men and women turn the rings on their fingers at that time and make a wish, and on the islands of Barra (off the west coast of the Scottish mainland) it is said that some women curtsey and men bow low in the direction of the new moon.

King of the moon,
Though King of the sun,
Though King of the planets,
Though King of the stars,
Though King of the globe,
Though King of the sky,
Oh, lovely Thy countenance,
Thou beauteous beam.

(Part of the Rune of the ‘Muthairn’, Carmina Gadelica)

So, the next new moon rises above the horizon (for those in the northern hemisphere) at 5.39am, about half an hour after sun rise, and for that reason (as the moon, this time, ‘tails’ the sun so closely there will be nothing to see.

Even then, because the new moon reflects no light and won’t be seen – and in astronomical terms is called the dark moon or dark of the moon – it is usually only a day or so after that that it is seen as a slim crescent in the sky. And then, that is the time when some celebrate the new moon. However, the slim-crescent moon starts to distances itself from the sun and may be visible low on the horizon when the sun has set below the horizon late in the day on 16 May.

’There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.’ George Carlin

This time, the new moon may be disappointingly close to the horizon for those in Europe and America. But, there is nothing to deter you from celebrating the wonderful event on, say, the evening of 15 May, in the absence of (even a thin crescent of) the invisible-to-us)  new moon.

So, however you celebrate this new moon – whether it’s a pause in your busy schedule and a gazing upwards on that evening, a word of gratitude whispered to the Source of All, a glass of wine held aloft, or a full-scale new moon ritual with others or by yourself, or something else, I send you the blessings at this time of the new moon to you and yours, Tadhg.

 

To Know The Dark…: A Thought

20180108 ENCOUNTERING THE KNOW THE DARKAnd so, having prepared the room for this ceremony – just me, this evening, I sat down on a cushion in the middle of the room. With the door slightly ajar and with my eyes now accustomed to the darkness, I could make out just a few things.

I lit the candle.

Such a small light, and yet its flickering light illuminating all the walls and the furniture in the room. And as the small candle flame flickered, so there was that ‘dance’ between light and dark. Sometimes darkness would move across part of the room, sometimes light, and seemingly in equal measure. No real competition. No angst. Just a natural interplay of light and dark, a paradox.

With the lighting of the candle I entered sacred space (and sacred time) and paused to Encounter.

‘Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again.’

(‘The Sound of Silence’, Simon & Garfunkel)

Oh, how some like the light. Oh, how some fear the dark. In many cultures and belief systems there seems to be a dichotomy between light and dark – one is liked, the other feared. And yet, ‘scratch’ a bit deeper and that dualism (so loved by the Greeks, and so (unwittingly) inherited by the West, dissolves.

Ofcourse, we can talk about being the dark, meaning ignorance; we can talk about seeing the light, meaning we now know something we didn’t formerly know. And, so in that instance it all seems easy to understand – but only because we have used light and dark in one way and as one metaphor to suit our purposes for that event. Life is much more complex. The universe is much more complex. Spirituality is…you get the picture.

The acceptance and meaning of light and dark depends on the circumstances, our use of them as metaphors, and the context. Be comfortable with ‘opposites’, with paradox.

For instance, it is in the darkness that wonderful things happen; planted seeds in the soil grow into might plants or trees, the baby in the womb is ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ and develops, and the Source of All moves.

‘[God]… made darkness his secret place; his pavilion… were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies’.

(Psalm 18:11 part, The Book)

It is no secret that I love the great outdoors, and being from north Wales I am well-used to expect rain and storms. Did you know in the part of Wales I hail from it rains some 330 days per year. And I love it. Cold, and damp and raining and windy….are all wonderful weather patterns to me. For some reason, I feel an Encounter more in the storm and/or the night than on a bright summer’s day when the sky is blue and there is not a cloud in sight. Indeed some of you will have read some of my previous articles where Encounters or significant events took place in forests on sleepless nights – see here for an example.

Could it be that when it is dark, wet, cloudy, stormy we aren’t distracted by the sun and the things that it encourages: sunbathing, picnicing, wonderful scenic walks – all good in themselves and to be enjoyed, but which may make deep Encountering difficult sometimes?

And so, having lit the candle, I waited to Encounter. In the darkness as well as the light, and maybe even more so in the darkness, I Encountered. With no visible distractions in that darkened room, I was alone with the Alone. And it was wonderful.

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is travelled by dark feet and dark wings.

(Wendell Berry, ‘To Know the Dark’ from The Selected Poems of Wendell

And then, wanting to go deeper, I blew out the candle flame. And paused for what seemed just five minutes – but when I checked afterward a full half hour has passed. In the darkness, I met the Friend. In the darkness, with no distractions, with no pre-conceived ideas or expectations, we can Encounter.

‘And the vision that was planted in my brain
still remains,
within the sound of silence’.

(‘The Sound of Silence’, Simon & Garfunkel)

 

Celtic Thought: Seeing In The Dark

20170419 CELTIC THOUGHT SEEING IN THE DARKFor many, light equals safety. And for them, darkness infers insecurity and may lead to feelings of fear. It is the case that, sometimes, we talk about light in a positive way, darkness in a negative way, but it need not always be the case.

True, when we ‘shine a light’ on something, metaphorically, we can come to see it, picture it, and understand it, and perhaps even quantify it. This may be an advantage when speaking of physical things. What then of spiritual things, and when we need to use a different form of perception? If we’re talking about the deep things of the Source, then ‘seeing’ can be a handicap. Think of the Source, and whatever ‘picture’ or metaphor we use by way of a description  will be limiting and therefore inaccurate. The Source is beyond our imagining, and cannot be quantified.

So, a different form of perception is needed. We need: seeing in the dark. And that means, befriending the dark.

‘I said to my soul, be still, and let darkness come upon you
which shall be the darkness of God.’ T S Eliot

I admit, when I’m in north Wales, I love night walks in the forest. These can be deeply spiritual and rewarding. My eyes are rendered virtually useless as I navigate my way in near total darkness, and yet other ways of perceiving arise. I become more attuned to the sounds of animals, the ‘sighing’ of the trees as the wind blows through them, the sound of a nearby rivulet, the smells of trees and flowers, the feeling of the earth underfoot, and deep feelings of ‘presences’. I love it. I’m safe but lost (in wonder). Alone (but surrounded by nature). Wrong-footed visually (but something deep inside comes to the fore to guide me). Isn’t that encounter? Connectedness? We need a different way of seeing and that starts with befriending the dark.

Why?

Because the Source ‘inhabits’ the dark, too. And, in that darkness we are not distracted to see the Source as this thing or that. The Source, in the dark, is invisible, close, true and (almost) palpable. More so, in the dark.

[The Source]…’parted the heavens and came down, [and]
dark clouds were under his feet’ Psalm 18:9, The Book

With no visual distractions, with darkness all around, we rely on that which is deep within. In the dark there is no false illusion, no eyesight-vision at all, no distractions, no opportunity to quantify. Deep calls to deep. An encounter with the Source, as a result of deep meditation, cannot be described in terms of length and breadth, cannot be quantified, but merely spoken of in near-miss metaphors at best,  with the use of clumsy words. But, with our eyes closed in meditation or prayer, we enter the dark[ness]. And encounter in a deep, dynamic, earth-transcending, indescribable, real way.

‘You will…be led upwards to the Ray of the divine Darkness which exceeds all existence.’ Dionysius, Mystical Theology.

It sounds paradoxical: the way to the Source is not to use your eyes; if you want to ‘see’, then look into the dark; the Source is such a great Light that the Source uses darkness to make us comfortable; darkness releases us from the handicap of visual-quantification; in the dark we ‘see’ more.

‘There is in God (some say) a deep, but dazzling darkness.’ Henry Vaughn, The Night.

Do not fear. Make friends with the dark.