Celtic Thought: Life Is Like…

20170413 LIFE IS LIKE...CELTIC THOUGHTAt the far end of my cottage’s garden in Capel Curig (in north Wales) is a rivulet. Hidden by trees and gorse bushes, it rushes by the northern boundary, invisible to all, except to me and a few locals. It’s so small – you can leap over it – it has no name, except for the one I gave it. To me, this ‘watery companion’ is: Bach ac yn gyflym. Welsh geographical place-names are very descriptive, and it seemed right to call this rivulet by this name. It means ‘small and fast’.

Here’s a few thoughts as I watched Bach ac yn gyflym flow by, and as (for some) we are nearing the end of a specially remembered week that culminated in dramatic events, that many take to heart.

Metaphorically, life is like a stream, perhaps something like Bach ac yn gyflym. I was going to write about encouraging you to step into that Life-stream, but I do believe we are all in it, already.

“You wander from room to room hunting for the diamond necklace that is already around your neck!” Rumi

This stream isn’t just life events as we experience them with all their surprises, twists and turns; it is that, but it is also more. There is more! Mae myw! It is Life, the Life-Giver itself (and apologies for that impersonal pronoun when Life itself is anything but impersonal, but Life is also beyond ‘he’ or ‘she’, and yet encapsulates both/all).

This Life-stream embraces us as we live life, and my encouragement then to myself and others, bearing in mind we are all already in that flow, is to encourage each of us to have an awareness and/or remembrance of being part of it.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Revelation 22:1 The Book

As I sit and watch Bach ac yn gyflym flow by I witness leaves and debris float by. Some of it swirls into little eddies caused by indentations in the river bank, and stay there for a while. Out of the main flow of the stream, they may look or ‘feel’ safer and linger for a while, but the power they experienced just seconds before is diminished. And then, maybe unexpected to them, but not to me as an observer, the current catches them and off they go at great speed to their destination.

Maybe, we too, can feel safe or get comfortable, or maybe too safe and too comfortable, and object to the buffeting of life. In being too cosy, like those leaves in that riverbank indentation we can feel safe, but lose access to power and energy. Even in that ‘safe’ position we are still in the Life-stream, but maybe unaware. Even in that ‘safe’ position we have access to that power and energy. But, we don’t use it….after all, we’re (momentarily) unaware of it.

“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.”  Rainer Maria Rilke

Being aware of our status (we’re all in that Life-stream) and aware of the power and energy (and that it is available to us), will, I think, put life events into perspective. There is no ‘maybe’ with a river, no need to barter, no worry of it stopping, no concern about where it is going or its destination. It flows. It knows. It is.

It’s flowing now, carrying us in an amazing ever-changing movement in that Divine, energetic dance, and if we’re quiet we might just ‘hear it’ and experience its all-embracing love. And then, the next step is to revel in that Life-flow wherever we are or whatever our circumstances might be, to enjoy its energy for good (purposes), and to pass (recognition of) it on to others. What do you think?

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

 

In Dark Times, Shine: 2/5: Empowerment [Celtic Thought]

20170221-walking-in-dark-times-celtic-thoughtHaving looked at our distinctive yesterday (in part one, see here), we now move into considering empowerment to do what we’re called to do.

You may have your own ways of empowerment, but if you haven’t or if you would like to consider different ways (to use, to adapt and use), here’s a few ideas that I find beneficial.

‘Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Empowerment is necessary to do what we’re called to do. This can be an informal influx of energy obtained by, say, a walk in a park or forest. Nature is wonderful, and a real and genuine source of energy and inspiration. Or, you might obtain energy from a visit to an art galley or listening to a piece of music; or we can approach it in ways to specifically ensure we have an influx of energy, a more formal approach, and some of these ways are outlined below.

But, empowerment is necessary, lest we work from a position of depleted energy or exhaustion and don’t accomplish what we’ve set out to do.

In ancient text the Christ says: ‘…but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’ Luke 24:49, The Book

I like that idea. Empowerment is something we can be clothed with – it can be seen as a protective, energetic cloak or coat, enveloping us. And, is something we need (and which can be depleted, and restored!).

So, here’s some ideas for empowerment:

Under The Blanket
empowerment-adorable-20374__340Susanna Wesley, the mother of  John and Charles Wesley, and eight other children (or was it more?) and found it difficult to find space and time to be by herself to meditate and pray, especially with so many children around the house and the challenges of eighteenth century living – it was not a bed of roses. Lots of  problems and heartaches. Infact, twice the house where she lived was burned to the ground, losing everything she and her husband owned. It was assumed that their church members did it because they were so upset at what her husband had preached in the pulpit.

She struggled to find a secret place to get away from it all, somewhere where she could ‘commune’. She stumbled upon the idea of a prayer apron or blanket – a ‘tent’ over her head. So, she informed her children that when they saw her with her an apron or blanket over her head, that meant she was in prayer and couldn’t be disturbed. And it worked. The children didn’t disturb her, and Susanna found these times to be very beneficial for deep meditation and prayer.  Others have emulated Susanna since. So, you could find your own prayer or meditation blanket!

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6, The Book

The Tallit
The Greek word for closet or room is tameion which is the same word to describe what happens when one puts on a tallit. Ah, the tallit.

empowerment-tallitThe tallit is primarily a Jewish prayer shawl, mainly used by men but, today, many women use it, too. Tallit is Hebrew for a robe, a cloak, or a sheet. It is draped over the shoulders (with deep respect and after much prayer), but in putting it on, the ritual involves covering the head, fully, momentarily.

It, too, is like a prayer blanket. Indeed, it has been known as the little tent, and some say references to tents in ancient text may actually refer to the period that the tallit covers the head – a tent for the head, separating the person from the rest of the world, monetarily, as if they were in a separate, secret room. (And, for those interested, we know the Christ wore one of these, as there are references to people touching the fringe, the tassels, of his garment, tallit, to seek healing. Also, Paul we’re told was a tent-maker, and there is a view (and one that I subscribe to), that he was, infact, a tallit-maker).

So, why not buy a tallit? It can be used in prayer and meditation as an aid, and can be used in the caim – see below, though it’s not essential to the caim.

The Caim
The caim is a profound ‘circling’ prayer used by ancient Druids, (Christian) Celts and others over the millennia. I like to think of it as a bubble that surrounds us (and which scribes a circle on the floor, into which we stand or sit).  It is still used by latter-day Celts, some Churches who value its benefits, and by some wiccans, pagans, light-workers, mystics and others.

‘Real power comes by empowering others.’ Denis Waitley

empowerment-soap-bubble-manThe making of the caim, the ‘stepping into it’, and using its power for your blessing, protection and for others is pertinent here. What you send out, does come back. Send out a blessing, and you get a blessing back.

The caim is about surrendering to the Source of All, so that some of that power can flow through us, like a conduit. Through us and onto others.

‘If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times. In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more love you give away, the more love you will have.’ John O’Donohue

For information on how to bless others, and so be blessed; or maybe you want to adapt the caim for blessing and empowerment only, so that you can then, later, bless others by performing a caim on their behalf or do some other activity on their behalf, please see here.

Smudging
Of course, the caim can be understood to be one ritual among many, and you may have your own ritual. But, if you haven’t please do consider this one (or more, depending on what you want to accomplish).

‘Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.’ Buddha

empowerment-6fb7425b1a234dc3a468d885305ff98fFor indigenous people of north America and others smudging was, and still is, and important, and special, and sacred act. So, why not you?
Often, smudging involves a four-direction ceremony, and this sits well with those whose tribe is ancient Celtic or Druidic in nature, or similar.

Clear your room or space of clutter and mess, open up windows and curtains and allow air to enter. Light your sage (or other herbs) and then fan the smoke with a feather around your body and anyone else in your space.

‘As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.’ Marianne Williamson

In turn, you may then want to face each compass cardinal point starting with, say, the east, and in turn say a prayer. Here’s a guide to help you get started.

Taking your time, for there is no rush, you might want to say:
Eastward: ‘Facing east, we greet the air, the  wind which can fell mighty trees, and seek that power to do good

Southward: Facing south, we greet the sun at its highest point, and ask for power from that which provides light and warmth to all the earth, to fill us’.

Westward: Facing west, we greet that great body of water, with giant waves and currents that dissipates energy around the globe, to shower us with its power and blessing.

Northward: Facing north, we greet the earth, that which provides a sure foundation, that we might not stumble, but might be sure-footed in what we do for good.

Of course, this is only an outline, and you may wish to add to it to make it true to you, or adapt it to suit your particular purpose. I usually conclude with a prayer to the Source of All, the One behind it all!

Conclusion
Instead of smudging, you could use a candle, moving it to the four cardinal compass points and reciting those words. Experiment. Try something different.

In all of this, intentionality in ritual is important. It is what it means to you that’s important. And, of course the Source is important, too. In a very real sense, it doesn’t depend on us to get it right, but on the Source of All to be profligate, and we have just such a promise. So, don’t hold back. Be empowered to do good in these dark times.

Tomorrow, in part three, we’ll look at actions, and some ways we can ‘shine’ and assist others.

‘Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.’ Andre Gide

 

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