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It has been said by some modern-day scholars that ritual is outdated, and nothing more than a futile attempt to ensure the safety of an individual, who, when invoking the presence of an overpowering god, is fearful.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’.

 

TableTalk Invite About Life, The Universe & Everything: 15 May 2020: Live Streaming

TABLE TALK MAY 2020

Here’s your opportunity to pull up a chair, grab a coffee and indulge in Table Talk – the kind of chat we all like after a good meal, as we relax and stretch out, and spend time in good company. You are invited, you can participate.

In the comfort of your own home you can listen, comment, or even email questions to Tadhg about life’s big issues, as he does a live-stream broadcast on FaceBook, this Friday evening.

 what is liminality, and why is it useful?  Where is the soul? what’s the difference between a dragon and a wyvern? what makes good ritual? what’s the difference between ritual and ceremony? what is life’s purpose? what’s a latter-day celt/druid look like? who am I? What is a ‘thin place’?  Is the Universe alive? What’s the difference between the imagination and the imaginal?

You can participate by viewing, but if you want to email a question before Friday, please do so. His email is: tadhgjonathan@googlemail.com  If you need a topic prompt, do check out his blog (here) to get an idea of things he’s covered in the past, and especially check (here) to read printed versions of ‘physical’ table talks in the past)

Now, the broadcast will take place on Tadhg’s Facebook page.

If you check that page (see below) and see only a brief outline and no previous recorded broadcasts then you will need to ‘friend’ him from that page to view the broadcast, he will accept and then you’re ready to view and participate this Friday. If you can see previous recorded broadcasts on that page then you’re already a friend and are ready to go! Do check here. Any ‘challenges’ please email Tadhg, and he’ll do his best to assist.

The live broadcast will be at 7.30pm (UK Time), Friday, 15 May 2020 on FaceBook, and will be recorded if you can’t make it at that time.

I look forward to seeing you there. Blessings, Tadhg

 

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)

Arianrhod: Full Moon Poem. And Your Full Moon Ceremony Invite

full moon ceremony may 2020

The moon by many ancient tribes and faiths of yesterday personified the moon, and for many this continues today –  latter-day Celts and Druids, and others, as well as writers, poets, and romantics. In Wales she was, and is. known as Arianrhod (meaning silver wheel).

And, with the next full moon this Thursday, 7 May 2020, below is a poem to celebrate the event.

There will also be a Full Moon Ceremony ‘broadcasted at 7.30pm (UK time) this Thursday,  ‘on my Facebook site, here, and you’re invited! That link will take you to my FaceBook site, and if you can see many previous recorded broadcasts then you know you’re set for the Full Moon Ceremony. If you only see a brief outline and little or no recorded broadcasts you will probably need to press the ‘friends’ link button (from my Facebook site. I’ll accept the next time I’m online and then you should be able to view and/or participate at home, ready for the upcoming Ceremony. A printable ceremony outline will appear within a couple of days.

Meanwhile, the poem about the moon, penned by me a few years ago.

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.

 

Bright blessings to you and yours during these difficult, ‘lockdown’ days, Tadhg

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

 

Beltane 2020: Your Online Invitation & Order Of Ceremony. Sunday, 3 May

beltane 2020

Welcome.

The following is an outline of this Sunday’s online, video of the Beltane ceremony. And, you’re invited; and at home during lockdown you can participate and join in the liturgy as it happens, or just let in ‘sink’ deep, from your own home, either ‘live’ or as a recording. If you belong to a grove and would normally celebrate this time with them, please (if there is a ‘clash’ of times) give them priority so that everything is done with respect.

The video broadcast will appear on my Facebook site (see here). Please check that now if you’re in doubt about connecting later. If it doesn’t work, if you can’t gain access to my general Facebook site please subscribe/follow, and then try the link again to see if you can gain access then, in readiness for Sunday. [Note: if you can’t gain  full access ie you can’t see previous videos Gf any kind on my facebook site then press the friendship link on my Facebook site, and I’ll accept as soon as I can] then If you still can’t get access to my Facebook page(s), 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 please feel free to print out  the Order of the Ceremony for your own use. Meanwhile, it maybe best to just print out the following liturgy so you can participate, but erase this paragraph and the three above this, before doing so.

BELTANE 2020
Order Of Ceremony

Sunday, 3 May 2020, at 7.30pm (UK time)
Via Facebook video

GRACE GROVE, LONDON

For this ceremony you may need:

• A candle
• Safety matches
• Writing paper (if solo, at home)
• Pen or pencil (if solo, at home)

A CEREMONY FOR BELTANE
Kebius Rite

Intention And Preface
Today our intention is to celebrate the cross quarter day of Beltane – a Gaelic word meaning ‘bright fire’. Beltane is half way between the past spring equinox and the upcoming summer solstice. It is a ‘fire festival; the beginning of summer.

Some may have memories of dancing around the maypole; of seeing someone dressed as the May Queen and even as Lord of the May; of bringing wild flowers into the home; or of making daisy chains; or of lighting a bonfire. Some, may have memories of seeing someone dressed as Jack In The Green, a man covered in a wicker frame and foliage and who represented nature and The Green Man.

So, let our ceremony of the celebration of Beltane, the ‘bright fire’, begin.

Light the Beltane candle

On Rising

Blessed are you Source of All.
In your verdant welcome you spring from the earth,
and your loveliness heartens us and renews us.

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, as community.

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, our community, 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 Are Present With Us
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
Some of the following praises may be used:

Praise to you Gentle Breeze of the Spirit,
for you blow where you will.
I hear the sound of you but
know not where you come from
or where you go.
Let us be aware of your presence
as you breathe across our lives this day
though we can never grasp you.(Tess Ward)

Praise to you, Oh Supplier of air.
The wind rises as a mighty tempest and powers weather systems
and, yet as a gentle breeze, it moves leaves along the path.
Ebb and flow.

Praise to you, Oh Provider of fire.
The fire scorches the earth, from which new life emerges
and, yet as small and humble flame it gives heat and light to all.
Ebb and flow.

Praise to you, Oh Bringer of water.
The great seas maintain the planet’s life-equilibrium
and, yet in our homes it provides our daily, individual and essential needs.
Ebb and flow.

Praise to you, Oh Giver of earth.
The earth provides vast fields for the seed, from which nourishment grows,
and, yet it is a reminder of the great circle of life, and death, and new life.
Ebb and flow.
(Tadhg Jonathan)

O most noble greenness, rooted in the sun,
shining forth in streaming splendour upon the wheel of the Earth.
No earthly sense or being can comprehend you.
You are encircled by the very arms of Divine mysteries.
You are radiant like the red of dawn.
You glow like the incandescence of the sun.
(Hildegard of Bingen, English version by Jerry Dybdal and Matthew Fox)

Most High, all powerful, Source of All,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honour, and all blessing.
Praised 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, except/adapted)

Praise to you Maker of the Summerland,
who sends the sunshine, bringing ease and light.
Praise for the outside days with doors and windows open,
neighbours’ music, children playing…
when the birds sing out the pleasure of ordinary all through the day.
For loving all under the sun, praise to you.
(Tess Ward, except)

The Work: Beltane (adapted for home/distant participation)
The Great Circle moves on, and as the Earth turns around the Sun so we celebrate Beltane. It is a day when farm animals would have been be released into the fields, and was the time associated with the fecundity of nature, of fertility, growth and maturity, and Of new ideas.

Do take a few minutes to think deeply, silently of all that we have to be thankful for at this time of Beltane, and for all that we wish to bring to fruition – these can be our wishes and dreams, our goals or projects, or a prayer for ourselves and others, for nature etc. If at home, solo, you might like to write your thoughts on paper. Music can be played here for two to three minutes.


Various Prayers of Request

Some of the following prayers may be used:

Life-force of God, you make the sap to rise,
the swelling of bud to burst the sheath.
May we let the fruits of your Spirit grow in us this day.
Spirit of love abide in our ears as we listen to stories different to our own.
Spirit of joy beam in our eyes as we meet the gaze of another.
Spirit of peace breathe through our attitude.
Spirit of kindness blow through the words we speak.
Spirit of patience breeze across our frustration before we say or act.
Spirit of faithfulness guard us when we’re tempted to stray.
Spirit of generosity spill over in all we think or do or say.
Spirit of gentleness be fragrant in all our dealings with the world.
Spirit of self-control do no limit, but channel the abundance of your fruits
as we partake in your transforming ways blowing through this day/time.
(Tess Ward, adapted)

Creator God, forgive our moments of ingratitude,
the spiritual blindness that prevents us
from appreciating the wonder that is this world
the endless cycle of nature,
of life and death and rebirth.
Forgive us for taking without giving,
reaping without sowing.
Open our eyes to see,
our lips to praise,
and our hands to share.
May our feet tread lightly on the path we tread
and our footsteps be worthy of following
for they lead to You.
(Unknown)

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)

In our waking, be blessing us,
in our journeying, be keeping us,
in our working, be helping us,
in our sleeping, be watching us,
in our living, be guiding us,
in our dying, be receiving us.
(Unknown)

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 here:

We too can begin a new life, one that brings satisfaction and enrichment, whether this is by singing, dancing, running through the waves, walking barefoot on the grass… Perhaps your dreams are greater than this, or perhaps more conservative, but whatever they are, Beltane is a wonderful time for expressing who you truly are. (Carole Carlton)

Ah! my heart is weary waiting, Waiting for the May: Waiting for the pleasant rambles, where the fragrant hawthorn brambles, with the woodbine alternating, scent the dewy way; Ah! my heart is weary waiting, waiting for the May. (Denise Florence McCarthy)

If it could only be like this always – always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe… (Evelyn Waugh)

Smell the sea, and feel the sky. Let your soul and spirit fly. (Van Morrison)

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. (John Steinbeck)

We are all part of the Earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the dew of the meadow, the body heat of the pony and humankind – all belong to the same family.
(Chief Seattle, 1786-1866, Attributed, 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 Blessing

As we close the ceremony the work here is finished, and yet it still goes on in our mind, body and spirit, as we revel in nature’s bounty and the One behind It All.

One of the final blessings may be used:

May the blessing of the red sun as it sinks below the horizon be yours.
May the blessing of orange, the colour of flame and hearth be yours.
May the blessing of the wild, green earth and all life be yours.
May the blessing of the blue sea and wind which calls forth waves upon it be yours.
May the blessing of indigo, the twilight colour of change and coolness be yours.
May the blessing of violet, the colour of majesty and might be yours.
And may all the colourful blessings of the God + Of The Rainbow be upon you and yours, now and always
(Tadhg Jonathan, The Rainbow Blessing)

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak to mind your life.
(John O’Donohue)

Deep peace of the running wave to you,
deep peace of the flowing air to you,
deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
deep peace of the shining stars to you,
deep peace of the Son of peace + to you (and yours), forever.
(Unknown. Early Scottish)

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
(Old Celtic Traveller’s blessing)

Extinguish the Beltane candle

Copyright © 2020 Tadhg Jonathan Gardner. All rights reserved. Email: tadhgtemp@googlemail.com

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.

The Time Of Presence, Or A Permissible Walk In London: A Poem

THE TIME OF PRESENCE

It’s dark, it’s half past ten, right now
and around me shadows grow.
The city lampposts, try to cast their light.
Beaming radiant hope far into the night.
And, eight million people wonder what’s going on,
But no one knows.
This is the time of lockdown.

And yet we’re not alone, my friend
this is far from being the end.
In these strange days that we find ourselves in.
Elementals from above, descend,
and invisibly move amongst us,
so unknown, so quietly.
This is the time of new beginnings.

And so I walk fast, on and on,
past peopled houses in the night.
With our new time of self-isolation,
sweeping all across the nation.
There is one message we must never forget,
Forget, never.
This is the time, we’re together.

 

[With apologies to Simon & Garfunkel]

 

 

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.