Tadhg, On The Road To Hay On Wye. Mystery, Magic And Healing The Land

20180903 TADHG ON THE ROAD TO HAY ON WYE

In a few days I’m off on another short jaunt. Another adventure. And, who knows what might happen? Having just come back from the wonderful Matlock area of Derbyshire, this time I’m off to Hay On Wye, Wales.

‘The winds of God are always blowing, but you must set the sails.’ (Unknown)

The region of Hay on Wye is an area that abounds in myth and magic, and is a wonderful place to visit. The town nestles just inside Wales, separated geographically from England by the Dulas Brook, and Hay on Wye boasts the largest concentration of bookshops in the UK, so ‘I will be in my element’, as they say.

Division?

‘Where you are today and where you want to be lies a gap….’ Oscar Bimpong

Over those few days I also aim to visit the Brecon Beacons (national park in Wales) which is a huge open, rugged and wild place, the habitat of wonderful animals, insects, plants and trees. It also has some wonderful waterfalls, some amazing caves, and yes, plenty of mystery. There are a number of standing stones in the Brecon Beacons which were the ritual places of ancient Celts. No wonder the Celts of old loved that area (and latter ones still do). It is a place of mystery, a liminal place, a place where Here and the Other spiritually ‘connect’. A ‘thin place’ [see here].

Connection?

’In reality, we live in everyone. I live in you. You live in me. There is no gap, no distance. We all are eternally one.’ Amit Ray

And myth? What of myth? The River Wye that runs through Hay joins the River Lugg some ten miles to the east. One cannot but notice the similarity between the name Lugg as in the River Lugg, and Lugh the god of the Celts. However, Lugh comes mainly from Irish myth and probably means ‘of the long arm’, whereas Lugg as in the River Lugg, is thought to be more local, and means ‘the bright one’. But, it makes you wonder.

Ponder?

In that area other myth is recorded: the ghostly figures of Swan pool, the appearance of King Arthur’s cave, mischievous pwcas, and more. Perhaps we swim through myth and magic wherever we are, but are unaware of it. It may be noticeable or ‘felt’ only if we develop our (underused) senses of awareness. Maybe such myths and magic is ubiquitous?

‘How blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear!’ Matthew 13:16, The Book

Evidence for this comes from where the River Wye connects with the River Lugg. There, at Mordiford is an interesting myth. Legend has it, and one mentioned on the side of a local church wall, says that in a bygone age a dragon was harassing nearby villagers. It was eventually slain by a member of the local nobility, though such is the nature of myth, it might have been a convicted criminal who killed the dragon. Some even attribute the original owner of the dragon as a young girl by the name of Maud.

Although the stories vary, that dragon, in this region, is always prominent in such stories. And, what of Maud? A short walk through the nearby Haugh Wood brings you to a path, said to be found my dear Maude herself, called Serpent’s Lane. Serpent, dragon? It is said that at certain times of the year the dragon can be seen there, and you’ll know when you’ve reached the path even if you don’t spy the dragon, as legend says nothing grows there.

Just a myth? Or, something more?

’He is short-sighted who looks only on the path he treads and the wall on which he leans.’ Kahlil Kibran

But we can’t leave the myth there. Some of you may know that normally dragons are fairly placid creatures unless disturbed (and have six limbs), and it is more than likely that this ‘dragon’ [see here], was, infact, a wyvern because of local drawings showing a creature with four limbs – thus making it an altogether rather disagreeable creature. Not a dragon at all. A wyvern.

There’s more.

There is always more. Having buried a rock (a Rainforest Jasper rock) recently at Mam Tor [see here], Derbyshire in a simple Earth-healing ceremony, I intend to do the same, and for the second time, at Maen Llia in the Brecon Beacons national park, Wales.

Join me over the next few days, ‘imaginally’, in prayer, energetically, in a ‘kything’ sort of way, and participate albeit-geographically-at-a-distance, but in essence at no distance at all. Oneness!

’…that they may be one as we are one.’ John 17.22, The Book

An Eco Ritual: Healing The Land & A Celebration

20180820 AN ECO RITUAL AT MATLOCK

The following is a brief outline of an ‘eco’ ritual that I am intending to use for one of a series of ‘healing the land’ rituals over the next year or so – this one at the time of the full moon (26 August) near Matlock, England.

We often take the natural environment for granted and many feel separate from it, and yet as year succeeds year, we realise (more so) that we are connected to nature, indeed, we are one with nature. From the largest swirling galaxy, to this planet with its vast blue oceans, to its mighty trees and forests, to wolves and foxes and bears, and buzzing and sometimes annoying insects, to all of creation we, humankind, are one. Visible and invisible, all one.

The moment the angel enters a life it enters an environment. We are ecological from day one. (James Hillman)

I would encourage you to read the article, please, take it to heart, adapt it and try the ritual (physically in your neighbourhood and/or ‘imaginally’ within your house) so that you can participate, periodically, and make a difference, too, to your local area, wherever you are. And remember: intentionality is important.

We are children on the earth: people to whom the outdoors is home. Nothing can separate us from the vigour and vibrancy of this inheritance. (John O’Donohue)

There no right or wrong way of doing this, and in many cases (depending on the area, time, circumstances) you might have to adapt proceedings. Indeed, the most profound rituals are the simplest, so do ‘subtract’ from the following if it feels to ‘weighty’. Nothing, not even ritual, should come between us and awareness of Who Is.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about. (Rumi)

What follows, then, is an outline and is a prompt and encouragement to you to try (unless you have something that suits you better, in which case please email me and share). It may be, especially if the area that I’m drawn to for this ritual is busy, that I might only be able to recite some of the words below, or maybe only use the words in the section headed ‘The Work’ (see below) and then bury the Rainforest Jasper stone. But, that’s okay. Intentionality is important, remember. As much as I like Harry Potter movies for entertainment, this is not a Harry Potter spell and nothing bad will happen to me or you if we get it wrong (but you cant, because there is no right and wrong way of doing this, either).

The earth which sustains humanity must not be injured. It must not be destroyed! (Hildegard of Bingen)

The following, then, is for the first ritual for the healing of the land, but also a celebration of nature and an acknowledge that we are one with nature (and not apart from it) – and for me, the ritual will take place near Matlock.

Notes are in square brackets.

OPENING

Facing East, say:
May there be peace in the East.
Facing South, say:
May there be peace in the South.
Facing West, say:
May there be peace in the West.
Facing North, say:
May there be peace in the North.

Walking in a circle, deosil (clockwise)…[And, walking clockwise is usual to ‘energise’ or empower a circle, and show that things are about to happen as we move into sacred-space and time. Also, I like to trace out or actually mark a circle with a staff (some use a ‘wand’, others point with their index finger on their right hand)].
Say, when at Eastern cardinal point:

I/we acknowledge the East, for the wind that blows from the continent onto this land and distributes the seeds to provide us with food. I bless you, O God, of the East.

Say, when at Southern cardinal point:
I/we acknowledge the South, for the warmth of the sun which gives us a temperate climate and abundance. I bless you, O God, of the South.

Say, when at Western cardinal point:
I/we acknowledge the West, for the great sea which nourishes us and provides us with ecological balance. I bless you, O God, of the West.

Say, when at Northern cardinal point:
I/we acknowledge the North, for the ancient hills and valleys and streams without end, the sure foundation of this this emerald isle. I bless you, O God, of the North.

LAMENT

[It seems appropriate to ‘start where we are’ and acknowledge that humankind is responsible for much of the Earth’s degradation, hence this lament. But, I prefer not to linger here, as I do believe power and energy goes to what we focus on, and our focus is on the positive.]

Say:
I/we have forgotten who we are.
I/we have distanced ourselves from the unfolding of the cosmos.
I/we have become estranged from the flowing of the earth
I/we have separated ourselves from the cycles of life.
And, I am/we are truly sorry.

PURPOSE

Say:
I/we join with the Earth and with each other…
To bring new life to this land
To restore the purity of the waters
To refresh the air for all
To renew the forests
To care for the plants
To protect animals and insects

To revel in the blowing winds
To rejoice in the bright sunlight
To celebrate the turbulent seas
To dance on solid ground
To sing the song of the stars

To recall our destiny
To renew our spirits
To reinvigorate our bodies
To recreate the human community with justice and in peace
To remember the children

I/we join with the earth and with each other.

Yes, I/we join together as many and diverse expressions of one loving mystery: for the healing of the earth and the renewal of all life.

And/or

We live in all things.
All things live in us.
We rejoice in all life.

WORDS OF REMEMBRANCE

[It could be that here, others in your group could each take a line or two to recite those words below or those scattered throughout this article, or you can use one or more of them, if working alone.] Say:

I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding. (John O’Donohue)

We need joy as we need air. We need love as we need water. We need each other as we need the earth we share. (Maya Angelou)

The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature. (Hildegard of Bingen)

Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these. (Matthew 6: 28b – 29, The Book)

Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields…Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness. (Mary Oliver)

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature. (Joseph Campbell)

Each thing – each stone, blossom, child is held in place. Only we in our arrogance, push out beyond what we belong to…If we surrendered to Earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees. (Rainer Maria Rilke)

The Earth does not belong to us: we belong to the Earth. (Marlee Matlin)

Pick a flower on Earth and you move the farthest star. (Paul Dirac)

THE WORK

[If I have to forgo any other part of the ritual, this seems to me to be the crucial part, and when having recited the following words I then intend to scoop out a small amount of soil and bury a small Rainforest Jasper stone, and…] Say:

‘I bury this stone, Rainforest Jasper, for this land: for a deeper connection and harmony with nature and with plants, trees and animals, and with Mother Earth herself. The vibration of happiness and joy for life will flow outwards, throughout all life and carry strong energy for change and positivity to local communities. May all, everything, in this locality, be blessed by That Which Is Bigger Than Us.’

CLOSING

Walking in a circle widdershins (anti-clockwise)…[And, walking widdershins is usual to ‘dissipate’ energy or ‘close’ a circle, and show that things are now returning to ‘normal physical time-space. Also I like to trace out or actually mark the closing of the circle with a staff (some use a ‘wand’, others point with their index finger on their right hand]
Say, when at Northern cardinal point:
I/we give thanks for the North, for the ancient hills and valleys and streams without end, the sure foundation of this this emerald isle. I bless you, O God, of the North.

Say, when at Western cardinal point:
I/we give thanks for the West, for the great sea which nourishes us and provides us with ecological balance. I bless you, O God, of the West.

Say, when at Southern cardinal point:
I/we give thanks for the South, for the warmth of the sun which gives us a temperate climate and abundance. I bless you, O God, of the South.

Say, when at Eastern cardinal point:
I/we give thanks for the East, for the wind that blows from the continent onto this land and distributes the seeds to provide us with food. I bless you, O God, of the East.

END

[With the end of the ritual, it’s a good time to share food with others, but if you have done this by yourself there is no reason not to consume a snack, and if done in seclusion then it’s best to ‘ground’ yourself, even if that’s a walk around the garden or room, and a drinking a glass of water.]

The greatest forces lie in the region of the uncomprehended.  (George MacDonald)

 

The Caim 3: In Times Of Ecological Distress

20180716 THE CAIM 3 IN TIMES OF ECOLOGICAL DISTRESS

We live in a world where ecological distress occurs, weather patterns are changing, manmade disasters occur and animals are becoming extinct.

Closer to home: For some days fire fighters have been tackling a fire on Wanstead Flats, a large open expanse of land in Redbridge in east (well probably north-east) London. At one point some 220 fire fighters were fighting the ‘scrub’ fire. The weather in the UK, at least for the last three weeks has been unusually hot, very hot and dry, and although the cause of the fire is unknown, the blaze is significant and worrying.

Fire commissioner Dany Cotton said she was ‘praying for rain’ as long-lasting hot weather is creating favourable conditions for wild fires.

Prayer for rain?

What follows is a simple Caim ritual for an individual, but a ritual, nevertheless, full of power, with an ecological ‘challenge’ in mind that you might consider using (and adapting to suit your requirements, concerns). The Caim, as previously mentioned, is a ‘circling’ ritual and the circle was/is very much part of the daily life and ritual of ancient and latter-day Celts, Druids, Christians and others. This Caim is a ritual for rain for Wanstead Flats in London, but can be adapted for use by you, elsewhere.

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

After a few minutes, I take the staff I brought from the Isle of Iona, and use it to point to the floor, gently scribing a circle on the carpet.

I start off by facing east and slowly turn 360 degrees, clockwise, to cast the Caim. On this occasion the circle is not visible or marked out by rocks or pebbles but is in my mind’s eye. It is sufficient. At each of the cardinal points I pause, momentarily. Eventually I am facing north, and on this occasion turn to face east once again– the direction of Wanstead Flats from my location.

Ceremonial separation and the casting of the Caim has been achieved.

Previously, I had selected the Merlinite palmstone and put in on the small table within the Caim circle.

There are some who believe that palmstones have inherent power, others that such rocks are alive and posses a soul that can impart power, others hold that each rock has a guardian elemental that can be of use, others that intentionality can invoke or ‘borrow’ power from on High, some advocate that it is (just) a ‘tool’ to be used in a meaningful ritual, and there are others who accept that the ‘jury is out’ and all that matters is that it seems to work. Ritual is important

’We not only nurture our sacred relationships through ritual, but we are nurtured by them as well. In ritual, we move, and we are moved.’ Alison Leigh Lilly

Merlinite, also known as Dendritic Agate is an interesting rock. Many believe it is so-called as it is named after the wizard Merlin (Myrddin Emrys in Wales), and because of the stone’s ability to attract mystical and magical experiences to anyone who wears it.

It is said by some to allows a connective relationship between ourselves our environment. So, the rock is very suited for any working with any environmental issue, and doubly-so as the overriding element for this stone is ‘storm’, and so it is very much associated with rain

And, so I picked up the Merlinite palmstone, and with it in my hand and held it close to my heart. I closed my eyes, and began to visualise, imagine, hold in my mind’s eye a ‘picture’ of the desired outcome: rain, and lots of it pouring from the sky onto Wanstead Flats. I could see it, hear it, almost feel it, as I visualised it. Under my breath I utter the word, ‘rain’. Words are important, too.

’The human voice is the organ of the soul.’ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It is my belief that each one of us has access to untold power and energy, and that so often we are unaware of it. During times such as this, when invoking the power of the Caim, it is good to have in mind the source of such power. To me, I believe such power resides in the Source of All, who give to all ‘prodigally’. Others may have other ideas, but perhaps it is the case that we all see different facets of the One?

I raised my arms, opened them in the direction of Wanstead Flats, and waited for a few minutes.

What we ‘give out’ does ‘come back’, albeit in a different form. And, so having used words of power, invoking a blessing for Wanstead Flats in this Caim, I waited. The blessing does come back, almost instantly.

Feeling drained on energy, I paused. And, under my breath I said, ‘thankyou’ to the Source of All for the Source’s energy, and for the privilege of being a conduit for good.

The power part of the Caim ritual, the ‘standing in the gap’ has been completed.
Having accepted the blessing, I lowered my arms, and used the staff to scribe an imaginal circle on the carpet.

To close the Caim, some may like to reverse the direction they take, and move through the four cardinal points (perhaps, starting facing the east) in an anti-clockwise manner. You can choose the direction that is most fitting for you. Intentionality, after all, is all-important.

And, so I turned, holding the staff, and moving clockwise, I ‘scribed’ an invisible circle on the carpet as if to ‘erase’ the Caim circle formerly scribed.

And, then having closed the Caim, I walked about for the next few minutes as an opportunity to slowly, ceremonially, ‘come back’ to this realm, as an act of grounding.

Grounding, it is said, is the earthing of residual energy to the natural energy field of the earth. If you are not grounded you may feel dizzy, a little ‘spaced out’, or generally feel out of sorts. In any case, it is always a good idea to take a few minutes after any significant spiritual event to, slowly, attune yourself to ‘mundane’ time-space by taking it easy for a few minutes, and then by a taking part in a simple physical action eg walking, deep breathing etc for a minute or so. Grounding completed.

The Caim is versatile, and can be used as a ritual of protection for yourself or others, as a ritual for conferring blessings on others, seeking a remedy for an ecological ‘challenge’, as noted here in a Caim for rain for the ecological ‘distress’ of Wanstead Flats, London, for example. And, it can be used and adapted by you.

Other articles in this series are:  Caim 1: Personal Experience & Caim Essentials [Here], and Caim 2: Variations & Examples [Here].

 

Earth Hour 2018: A Joyful Response

20180319 EARTH HOUE 24 MARCH STEWARDSHIP MEDITATIONSoon it will be the time of Earth Hour 2018.

Earth Hour started in Sydney, Australia, in 2007. That event saw over million homes and businesses turn their lights off for one hour to make their stand against climate change that year. Now, Earth Hour is a worldwide movement organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and annually encouraging individuals, communities, and businesses to turn off all non-essential electric lights for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 pm on a specific day towards at the end of March, as a symbol of commitment to the planet.

‘Eventually, we’ll realize that if we destroy the ecosystem, we destroy ourselves.’ Jonas Salk.

The ancient Celts, Druids, ancient Hebrew tribes, first century Christians and others were Earth-focussed, in-touch with the seasons and the land, and knew that their livelihood depended on the Earth’s bounty. Somewhat removed, now, in modern society it is easy to forget our inter-connectedness and dependence upon the Earth, and a feeling of helplessness can overtake us.

What can we do?

Earth Hour this year will be on 24 March, and so all of us can participate in large ways and small, and all are encouraged to turn off all non-essential lighting and other non-essential power-consuming devices, wherever we are on the planet from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm (our) local time. A symbolic easy-to-do act just for one hour.

Below are some ideas, quotes, liturgies/poems and memories etc that have been used, and that you might like to use, adapted, or which can be used as prompts to encourage each of us to do something symbolic for the planet, this Saturday, and live simply for one hour, and joyously. The latter is important, as it shouldn’t be seen as an arduous task or a chore, but as a profound time, an enjoyable time in the main.

Blessing:
And so, before eating, by candlelight, we used the following as a blessing:

‘All praise be Yours, my God, through Sister Earth, our mother
who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces
various fruits and coloured flowers and herbs.
[St Francis of Assisi]

Meal:
We wanted to meet as friends and have a simple meal together. Just bread and soup in gratitude of the immense bounty of the Earth that we often forget. A simple meal in good company was perfect.

As a centre-piece on the table, as a reminder of why we had gathered was symbolism to represent the elements (five in this case, but you might have less or more), and so we had: a flower to represent earth/soil/rock, a small bowl of water, a joss-stick to represent air, a few candles to represent fire, and a small clay wild goose (an ancient Celtic representation of the Spirit).

We ate, we laughed, we enjoyed the occasion immensely. Ofcourse, afterwards you can supplement the time with music and/or singing.

Meditation:
Bathed in the light of a few candles, each member of the group was asked to close their eyes and imagine a scene. Initially, the co-ordinator asked the group to visualise the Earth as seen from space, blue, cloudy, majestic, full of life, a planet set in a sea of stars. One by one each person described what they had imagined.

After a short pause, the co-ordinator, asked each member of the group to visualise one distant land, perhaps seen on tv, full of animals and vibrant nature, and to describe it, and one by one each person did in just a few words. The co-ordinator summed up with a few words of gratitude to the Source of All.

After a sort pause, each person was asked to imagine an element of nature from their local neighbourhood, some to be thankful for. Each shared, and the co-ordinator summed up with a few words of gratitude to the Source of All.

Then, the co-ordinator asked each to imagine one scene where the Earth was ‘distressed’, through pollution or over-farming, through the loss of natural habitat, the further extinction of species, and each member shared what they ‘saw’. The co-ordinator summed up with prayerful words.

Lastly, the co-ordinator, asked each to imagine the Earth as it was when they started this meditation – a wonderful blue planet set in a dance amongst the stars, and to ‘flood it’ with our thanks, well-wishes and good-thoughts.

Sharing-time:
We shared prayers and poetry in a circle of fellowship lit by the light of one candle. Each invited person was asked to bring some prayer or relevant poem to share, and after each recitation a few minutes of silent meditation and reflection ensued. One such prayer was:

Deep peace of the quiet Earth to you,
who herself unmoving, harbours the movements
and facilitates the life of ten thousand creatures,
while resting contented, stable, tranquil.
Deep peace of the quiet Earth to you.
(Old Celtic Blessing)

A variation of this, one year, was to ask those attending to prepare a piece about their favourite mountain, or animal, flower, tree, ocean or river, as a way of giving thanks.

For instance, one person talked at length about trees and their connectedness, and how they actually ‘communicate’ with a beneficial and ‘joined up’ root system. Something similar was televised recently with Judi Dench, and can be seen on Youtube, here.

Another person shared about a written piece (and a short video) wolves and what remarkable animals they are, and something similar can be seen here.

Another shared a short video about Snowdonia – my favourite, and I admit to a slight bias here, see here.

Eucharist:
We shared a simple breaking of bread and wine in the home. One person blessed the bread and wine, and we passed the bread around. Several minutes later, the wine was passed around (and as we also wanted to think about the Earth, on many occasions the wine was substituted with unfermented red grape juice). And then several read relevant verses from the Bible, such as:

‘In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.’ Psalm 95.4 The Book.

All very simple, easy to plan and expedite. Very profound.

Baraka:
On this occasion, with lights off and the tv turned on, we watched part of the video ‘Baraka’. If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a treat. It is a wonderful series of profound clips and ethereal music that is nature-based, deep and spiritually moving, and highlights  our interconnectedness with all that is around us. It can be seen on Youtube, here.

Conclusion:
How will you commemorate Earth Hour? Whatever you do, by yourself or in the company of friends, my wish is that you do something simple, symbolic and joyful to mark the event, which ofcourse, is a prompt for us all to have a greater regard for the planet thereafter.

Blessings of Earth Hour be to you and yours, Tadhg.