Ephemera: The Dark Moon & Story: Full Moon November 2017

20171102 DARK MOON AND STORY FULL MOON 5 NOVEMBER 2017 EPHEMERA

You know I like full moons, and the next full moon in November takes place in the early hours of this Saturday morning (4-5 November 2017), so you should have a fine view Friday or Saturday night, weather permitting.

‘The Sun, Moon and Stars are there to guide us.’ Dennis Banks

This moon, just missed being classified being a ‘supermoon’ (meaning that its orbit brings it slightly to the Earth than its many other orbits, and so appears slightly larger) as it passes into the constellation Cetus on its way between Pisces and Aries,  is viewable in the southern sky on Friday and in the south-east on Saturday (from a UK aspect).

‘November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.’ Emily Dickinson

To those of medieval England this full moon would be known as the Snow Moon – and according to the weather forecast for December in the UK snow is predicted, with night temperatures of some where in the region of -8c. Certainly holly berries were out in abundance and a deep, deep red indicating a tough winter ahead.

‘In November, the earth is growing quiet. It is making its bed, a winter bed for flowers and small creatures. The bed is white and silent, and much life can hide beneath its blankets.’ Cynthia Rylant

To others this full moon is known as the Tree Moon, The Beaver Moon, or The Huneter’s Moon. To many fellow Celts, Christian Celts, Druids and to me as a Druidic-Christian it is known, because of the nights drawing in, as the Dark Moon.

‘Drink in the moon as though you might die of thirst.’ Sanober Khan.

According to scientists the moon was  contributory factor for life on Earth by poviding a ‘shield’ to many rocky bombarments during the time of the early solar system – hence the reason that the far side of the moon, always turned away from us, is so pitted. It also assisted the earth is acquiring a stable orbit as it  ‘ironed out’ any wobbles or eccentric orbits, so that the Earth faced the sun in just the right way to ensure a fairly stable, habitable, climate, and ofcourse the moon beneficially regulates the tides, and affects the weather. I don’t believe in co-incidences. The Source prevails.

In addition sacred text also lauds the benefits of the moon: ‘God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also’. (Genesis 1:16, The Book).

So, this full moon – as the Circle of the Year moves on, as seasons change and it’s right to mark those changes – it’s time to give thanks to the silvery face that smiles down upon each one of us, regardless of our circumstances, and time to give thanks to the One who created and sustains it for our benefit. Light a candle, walk in the moonlight (and perhaps see your moon-shadow), raise a glass of wine to it, or say a silent prayer to the Moon-Maker, pause in a busy schedule and just gaze upward to the moon (or where it may be, if cloudy), but my encouragement is to do something, however simple, however brief, to celebrate this most wonderful moon, and to give thanks.

There is an African myth, still told to many children today, that at one time the sun and moon didn’t live in the sky. You know I love fictitious stories (esepcially ones full of meaning), and so as you ponder upon the moon this week, maybe imbibe a glasss of wine in honour of it, here’s that story:

Many years ago, the hot sun and the flowing water were very good friends, and they both lived on the earth. The sun very often used to visit the water, but the water, for some reason, never returned the visits. At last the sun asked the water why he never visited. The water replied that the sun’s house was not nearly big enough, and that if he came with all his people – all those creatures that lived in the sea, he would drive the sun out of his home. And water didn’t want that.

The water then said, ‘If you want me to visit you, you will have to build a very large house. But I warn you that it will have to be very large, as my people are numerous and take up a lot of room’. The sun promised to build a very large house, and soon afterwards, he returned home to his wife, the moon, who greeted him with a broad smile.

The sun told the moon what he had promised the water, and the next day, they both began building a large house to entertain the water and all the creatures that lived within water.

When it was completed, the sun asked the water to come and visit him. When the water arrived, one of his people called out to the sun, and asked him whether it would be safe for the water to enter, and the sun answered, ‘Yes, do come in.’

The water began to flow in, followed by the fish and all the other water animals. Very soon, the water was knee-deep in the house, so water asked the sun if it was still safe, and the sun again said, ‘Yes,’, and so more of them came in.

When the water was at the level of a man’s head, the water said to the sun, ‘Do you want more of my people to come?’

Not knowing any better, the sun and the moon both said, ‘Yes,’. More and more of the water’s people came in, more and more pond, lake, river and sea cratures entered the house until the sun and the moon had to sit on top of the roof.

The water once again asked the sun if it was still okay to keep coming in. The sun and moon answered yes, so more and more of the water’s people came in.

The water soon overflowed the top of the roof, and the sun and the moon were forced to go up into the sky…and they have been there ever since.

Blessings to you and yours at this time of the Dark Moon, Tadhg

 

Tadhg’s Ephemera: The Harvest Moon & Rhiannon (Poem)

20171004 TADHGS EPHEMERA HARVEST MOON AND RHIANNON POEM

In ancient Welsh stories, myths, Rhiannon  was a personification of the moon – much as we might talk about the man in the moon, or Chinese people might talk about rabbit in the moon.

In Japanese folklore, a fox, a rabbit and a monkey are accosted in the woods one evening by an old man. Hungry, the old man begs the animals for some food. The monkey gathered nuts, the fox stole some fish, but the rabbit — who ate only grass — had nothing to offer. When the other animals teased the rabbit, he offered himself as a meal and hopped onto the old man’s fire. Deeply touched, the old man gave the rabbit immortal life by placing him on the moon.

A quant story, a good myth, and one that makes us look up at the moon, and wonder.

So, this Thursday, 5 October sees the October full moon in the constellation of Pisces (though it’s on the cusp with Cetus). The moon rising above the horizon in the east, from a London aspect, just after 7pm.

‘God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also.’ Genesis 1:16, The Book

In medieval England this full moon was known as the Blood moon; and to ancient and latter-day Cherokees (so I’m told), it is known as the Harvest moon, to Celts, Celtic Christians and to many of my Druid brothers and sisters it is known as the Harvest moon.

Some time ago I wrote a poem about the full moon:

Like a silver penny stitched onto the dark fabric of the sky,
placed there by the Friend, she shines and takes no rest.
Smiling upon all, faithfully she rises, and moves oh so slowly from west
to east, undiminished.
Ashen light.

Upon all humanity she gazes, and
upon bowed sheaves of corn in lonely fields.
Upon lowing cattle, and a myriad of creatures,
upon sleeping trees with relaxéd arms, she peers.
And, upon valleys deep and mountains high,
this harvest moon is illumined in all her glory,
this night.

Affecting artists, musicians, lovers and humbled souls,
and those who momentarily upward gaze in awe,
she influences cells and seas alike, and vast ocean tides.
The moon is within us all, bright,
and that inner journey, is the enlightening, exhilarating ride.
Inner light.

Tonight, Rhiannon in all her fullness smiles and dances for the Friend;
and the Friend smiles back, and dances, too.
And, you?

Interestingly, 5 October is the feast day of St Murdoc, known as the last of the ancient bard and who lived as a hermit near a lake in Argyleshire, Scotland – and who was famed for compiling the Scottush Menology (Calendar of Saints) in the 8th century.

And on 5 October, King Alfonso VII recognises Portugal as a Kingdom (1143), Spain declares war on England (1796, but we’re friends now), the Jarrow march sets out to London (1936), and the Beatles released their first record, ‘Love me Do’ (in 1965).

A busy time, then, this Thursday in world affairs, today and in the past. And yet, my encouragement is to find time to pause and look up at the smiling moon, and to give thanks. Maybe our prayer, in a world that might be decribed in many places as fractured with wars, rumours of wars, and many killed and injured in Las Vegas and other places, is that the moon, and the Moon-giver, would spill her beauty and smile on a thousand Earthly races, and for peace to prevail.

Sending blessings to you and yours for peace at this time of the full moon.

Tadhg

 

Twitter Addendum: And, in mentioning busyness, my plans for a pilgrimage to Iona and Skye, in Scotland are gathering pace – I start out on that journey this coming Saturday or Sunday, and would appreciate your well-wishes, light, love and prayers.

If you want to follow my progress do check this page, TadhgTalks (and you’ll find a twitter ‘cartouche’ there with all the latest updates, if you go to the generic page – click large banner photo at the top of the page – rather than an inidivually themed page). Or, you can check my twitter page, direct, daily here. Once there, you’ll also get the opportunity to register to ‘follow’ and receive updates. Let’s stay in touch.

 

The Singing Moon: Full Moon On 6 September 2017: Tadhg’s Ephemera

20170904 SIGNING MOON EPHEMERA

Yes, it’s nearly that time again – the time of the full moon.

This full moon takes place on Wednesday, 6 September in the constellation of Aquarius, in the south-southern sky. From a London, UK aspect the moon rises above the horizon that evening at about 8pm, and climbs to its highest point in the sky just after midnight.

‘Sun adores the body
Moon romances your soul …’

(Shonali Dey)

I love the times of the full moon. Whether I’m in the wilderness of north Wales surrounded by huge, sky-hugging mountains, or in London surrounded by huge, sky-hugging buildings of concrete, metal and glass (as I’m am, now), the full moon rises, peaks down, and her warm light bathes me in ‘moon-magic’. Whatever you do, do look up. Whatever you do, do make time for her. Wherever you, are do pause. She smiles down upon us all. I do so love the full moon.

This full moon is know by many names: some know it as the Corn moon because it traditionally corresponds with the time of harvesting corn; others call it the Mulberry moon; still others call it the Fruit moon; and to ancient and latter-day Celts, and Druids it is (usually) known as the Singing Moon. The Singing Moon is my preference for it.

To ancient, and latter-day Welsh Celts the moon was personified as dear Arianrhod (pronounced ah-ree-ahn-rhohd). From ‘arian’, meaning silver, and ‘rhod’ meaning wheel’ or ‘disc.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

(Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon, Francis of Assisi)

The moon was long thought to affect those of unsound mind, hence the term lunatic. And, a calf born near the time of the full moon was thought to be more prone to deformity, and if it was, indeed, born deformed it was called a moon-calf. The term moon-calf also became an insult in late(r) medieval England. Ofcourse, we cannot forget the legend of the werewolf who, it is said, changes shape and transforms into a wolf at the time of the full moon.

‘Tonight the moon kisses the stars.
O beloved, be like that to me!’

(Rumi)

Ofcourse, these are myths and legends, and yet the moon does affect us all. The moon, as it resolves around the Earth affects the tides of the sea, and therefore affects our climate and seasons. But, it affects us in other ways.

For instance, a three-month psychological study of 1,200 inmates at Armley gaol in Leeds in 1998 showed a rise in violent incidents in the days either side of a full moon. And, in a study of 1,000 tonsillectomy operations, some 82 per cent of post-operative bleeding crises occurred nearer the full moon than the new moon, according to the Journal of the Florida Medical Association. And, the chances of being bitten by a dog are twice as high during a full moon according to a study at Bradford Royal Infirmary, which reviewed 1,621 cases of dog bite between 1997 and 1999.

‘The night walked down the sky with the moon in her hand.’ (Frederic Lawrence Knowles)

But the moon affects us all in deep and spiritual ways.

A face that gazes down upon us. A celestial body, so regular, providing a clear and bright light, and moon-shadows, too, if we’re fortunate. A reminder of nature and her benefits to us in placing the moon there to regulate the day and night, and seasons, so vital to life on Earth. A reminder, too, of the One who placed the greater lighter, and this lesser light, the Moon, in the sky. The Moon is truly ‘magical’, and doubly so for young lovers and the romantic among us, to those able to look beyond.

‘She used to tell me that a full moon was when mysterious things happen and wishes come true.’ (Shannon A. Thompson)

So, this magical full moon is a time to give thanks: a time to celebrate with a walk under the moonlight, perhaps stopping and lifting a glass of wine as a libation (which you can drink, if you wish) in honour of the moon. Or perhaps you might like to recite a poem or hold a small liturgical ceremony at the time of the full moon.  It need not be anything elaborate, but whatever you do, do enjoy this upcoming full moon.

‘The full moon – the mandala of the sky.’ (Tom Robbins)

Wishing many blessings to you, and those whom you love, at this time of the Singing Moon. Tadhg

 

Photograph, above, copyrighted and used by kind permission of Pennie Ley (click here). Bless you, Pennie.

 

Ephemera: The New Month Of The Vine: 2 September – 29 September

20170831 CELTIC MONTH OF THE VINEThe new month is almost upon us. Leaving the month of the Hazel (tree) behind us, we start the new Celtic month of the Vine on 2nd September, and it finishes on 29 September.

Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
close bosom-friend of the maturing sun,
conspiring with him now to load and bless
with fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run…

(John Keats)

There are different calendar variations, and different calendars much loved by different ‘tribes’, some calendars older than others, and the oldest (which will be the theme of an article soon) and most loved by purists is also one that some would say seems to be the least ‘workable’ for every day living.

It’s because of that that I use this tree calendar, which some call the Beth-Luis-Nion Celtic Lunar Tree Calendar/alphabet.

No spring nor summer’s beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face….’.

John Donne

The Beth-Luis-Nion calendar consists of 13 lunar trees. The calendar is based on a lunar year as opposed to a solar one, and so there are there are 13 lunar months in each year. Being tree-based it also reminds us of our love for trees and nature, and all things green, and is life-centred. I love it. And, it’s understandable. And, as we move into September, the month of the Vine, we greet the changing season and the colour changes in nature, and we can gaze upon the vine and give gratitude to nature and nature’s never-ending cycle, express love and appreciation to That Which Is Larger Than Ourselves, The Holy One.

‘Ah, September! You are the doorway to the season that awakens my soul… but I must confess that I love you only because you are a prelude to my beloved October.’

Peggy Toney Horton

The month of the vine, and romantics amongst you may know, is the month is associated with happiness and wrath. The sceptics may wonder whether this has something to do with the fact that the vine harvest would occur this month, and wine may indeed be the bringer of happiness, but it can also be the bringer of wrath, especially when imbibed to excess.

Nevertheless, wine, as well as having a social aspect, was and still is used in ritual to bring us closer to all that is Holy, and usher us into sacred time of communion.

This month of the Vine, September, also sees a full moon on the 6 September, and the time of the autumn equinox on Friday, 22 September – that time when with the diminishing day light, the length of day and night are equal in length for a brief period as we move toward winter.

‘Equal dark, equal light
Flow in Circle, deep insight
Blessed Be, Blessed Be
The transformation of energy!
So it flows, out it goes
Three-fold back it shall be
Blessed Be, Blessed Be’.

(Unknown)

Now, swans are seen as a symbol of love and fidelity around the world because of their custom of mating for life, and, for many, this month is associated with the swan.

It is said that ancient Druids saw swans as representing the soul. In ancient Ireland, the bards, for instance, would wear a special ceremonial cloak called a tuigen, which was made of songbird feathers, but the cowl would consist of the skin and feathers of a swan.

The Celts also loved their stories. Here’s an ancient Gaelic/Celtic story about love and swans, it’s so relevant to the start of the new Celtic month, and is full of meaning:

Aengus had fallen in love with a young woman he had seen, seen in his dreams. Each night he would close his eyes, fall into a deep sleep, and dream only of her.

It took him three years of searching the length and breadth of the land before the young woman of his dreams was found by him. Her name was Caer Ibormeith. Every second year, she and over a hundred other young women, were chained in pairs, and were transformed into swans for a year.

Aengus was madly in love with her, and was told he could indeed marry the young lady of his dreams, but only if he could identify her in her swan form. Aengus looked at all the young women who were now swans, but to him, they all looked the same.

Inspiration came to him. He immediately turned himself into a swan, and recognised her at once. Much in love, they flew away together, singing beautiful music that put all listeners asleep for three days and nights.

I find that story quite charming, and appropriate for this month. Swans. Love. Two souls, finally, in a bond of togetherness, forever. Love wins!

May the Blessings of the Sacred Three be upon you and those whom you love as we move into the month of the Vine, Tadhg

 

Haiku #10: Harvest Celebration With Alban Elfed In Mind

20170828 HAIKU 10 HARVEST CELEBRATION ALBAN ELFEDIn a few weeks time it will be Alban Elfed (which is Welsh for ‘the light of the water), and it is the second and final harvest of the year (for those of us in the northern hemisphere. It’s one of my favourite times of the year.

It will then be the time of autumn equinox (so I’ll come back to that in a few weeks). Then we’ll be celebrating the time of equal day and equal night, and have in mind water as water is the ‘dominant’ element for the season, and the westward-looking compass point is the ‘dominant’ point on the ‘wheel’ for that time. Oh. it’s a great time to indulge in deep thought, ponder nature’s provision and extend gratitude.

As you may know, I’m also fascinated by the traditional haiku – those short Japanese poems consisting of three pithy lines; and the lines containing firstly five syllables, then seven, then five. And here’s a few haiku (which can be viewed as several stand alone poems, or one of several verses) with Alban Elfed in mind. The Haiku, below, can be used in liturgy for that time or (just) as poetry for the season.

Nature’s circle turns,
and night and day are balanced.
Time for heartfelt thanks.

Water, that gives life,
often taken for granted,
appreciated.

The earth’s provision
at this bless-ed harvest-time,
for all people, stored.

Easterly winds blow,
renew our spirit’s within.
Congruous lifestyle.

Warming sun of all,
now, in this season balanced.
Sun of righteousness.

Nature’s circle turns,
and with gratitude given.
Source of All be praised.

The verses can be viewed as one poem with several verses, and if used in Celtic, Proto-Christian or Druidic liturgy/ceremonies you might like to consider facing the cardinal compass points as you read/recite it: Verse two, for instance, is about water, the dominant element for this season and so one would face west; verse three one would face north for the element of earth; verse three is about air/wind and so one would face east; and verse four is about the sun element and so one would face south.

But, whatever you do, and however you celebrate this time, my recommendation is that you take ‘time out’ to reflect and/or so something special and appropriate to give gratitude for the earth’s awesome bounty.

The Corn Moon: Celtic Full Moon: 7 August 2017: Tadhg’s Ephemera

20170804 TADHGS EPHEMERA CORN MOONThis Monday, 7 August 2017 sees another full moon. Known to some as the Fruit moon, Sturgeon moon, the Grain moon, it is known in China as the Harvest moon. Latter-day* and current-day Celts know it as the Dispute moon or the Corn moon. I prefer the latter as it’s more descriptive of the season, as we’re in the season of the first harvest of the year.

Did you know: The Moon is moving away from us by 1.48inches (3.78cm) a year.

In the early hours of next Monday morning there is a partial eclipse of the moon at 4.50am UTC and this is something for early-risers to look out for. And, then in the evening the full moon can be seen in the constellation Capricornus, is the south-eastern part of the sky.

Did you know: According to astronauts, Moon’s dust smells like gunpowder.

You know I like stories, and though to us the following two stories may seem strange, they both come from ancient and noble people, and from them we can learn so much.

Story #1: Tipä´ke‘so: A Menominee Tribe Story:
Once upon a time Ke´so (the Sun), and his sister, Tipä´ke‘so, (the Moon) lived together in a wigwam in the east. The Sun dressed himself to go hunting, took his bow and arrows and promptly left. He was absent for such a long time that when his sister came out and up into the sky to look for her brother she became distressed. She travelled for twenty days looking for the Sun; but he finally returned, bringing with him a bear which he had shot.

The sun’s sister still comes up into the sky and travels for twenty days; then she dies, and for four days nothing is seen of her. At the end of that time, however, she returns to life and travels twenty days more.

And the moon steps lower,
quietly changing
her luminous masks, brushing
everything as she passes
with her slow hands
and soft lips…

(Harvest Moon  by Mary Oliver)

Story #2: Heng-O and The Twelve Moons: Chinese Story:
In ancient times, it is sais that Chinese people believed that there were twelve Moons, just as there are twelve months in one year. Some also believed that there were ten Suns as there were ten days in the Chinese week. The mother of the twelve Moons was the same of that of the ten suns.

At the beginning of each month, the mother, Heng-O, washed her children in a lake at the far western side of the world. Then each Moon, one after the other, would travel in a chariot for a month and journey to reach the opposite eastern side of the world.

There, the Suns would begin their journey. It was believed that the Moons were made of water, and either a rabbit was living in their interior. The story exists in many cultures, prominently in Asian folklore and Aztec mythology.

This rabbit, Jade rabbit, was also the name of the successful Chinese probe to the moon which sent back valuable data for an amazing thirty-one months – though the expectation was that it may only operate for three months! Well done, China.

Conclusion:
The ancients celebrated the journey of the moon across the sky and it’s phases, they revelled in the turning of the circle, the seasons, and were in awe at those lights in the sky, the stars and comets. Our understanding of the sky may be greater than there’s – but they were (and are) wise and can still teach us many things – nevertheless don’t let scientific advancement dampen your awe. Enjoy the upcoming full moon in a significant way: by reciting a poem, enjoying a special meal, an evening walk in silence pondering upon the moon’s beauty (‘moon bathe’), perhaps use some liturgy or ritual, but whatever you do, my encouragement is for you to mark the wonderful time of this full moon in some special way to you.

There’s also an post from a few days back, which is a Hymn For The Moon, that you might like to use as a song of praise, or as a poem or liturgy in a ritual (click here).

Photograph, above, copyrighted and used by kind permission of Pennie Ley (click here). Bless you.

 

[* Addendum: In the opening paragraph where it’s written ‘Latter-day and current-day Celts know it…’, it should read ‘Ancient Celts and latter-day Celts know it…’. Oops!

 

The Celtic Month Of The Hazel Tree (5 August – 1 September)

20170802 CELTIC MONTH OF THE HAZEL TREEIn a few days time, on 5 August we leave the old month of Holly tree and move into a new Celtic month – the month of the Hazel tree.

Now the ancients started their days (and, so new months) from the prior evening from our reckoning, and so that would make it the evening of 4 August,  but the choice of which evening/day to celebrate the new month is up to you). But do celebrate and mark the time in some way. The month of the Hazel tree ends on 1 September.

Did you know…Turkey is the largest producer of hazelnuts in the world with approximately 75% of worldwide production.

Celebration
It’s always good to celebrate a new month in large ways or small. I would encourage you, at the very least, to draw aside one evening to ‘welcome in’ the new month, even if for say, twenty minutes. It’s can be a deeply moving, profound, spiritual event.

Slow down, and maybe read and/or recite some poetry and spend some time mulling over the words, and meditate upon them. A glass of wine or two might assist. The Hazel tree is connected with knowledge and wisdom, and so a poem or quote associated with knowledge or wisdom might be appropriate, or maybe use a quote from here  that evening. There’s also a link to a great and relevant story, below.

And, also, how about giving thanks for all the good things that have happened in the previous month, and think ahead to what might happen this month, seeking light and love and energy, and guidance for the month ahead from the Source of All.

‘All our wisdom is stored in the trees.’ (Santosh Kalwar)

The Tree
The hazel tree, corylus avellana, itself, is a deciduous broadleaf tree native to the UK. Usually coppiced, but when left alone they can grow to a height of about thity-five feet (12m) and can live for up to eighty years (and, perhaps, four times that age, if coppiced).

The hazel tree has a smooth, grey-brown bark, which peels with age, and has pliable, hairy stems. Leaf buds are oval, blunt and also hairy.

‘The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.’ (John Muir)

Bees usually find it very difficult to collect hazel pollen and can only gather it in small quantities. This is because the wind pollinated hazel has pollen that is not that sticky and actually repels one grain from another.

Once pollinated by wind, the female flowers develop into oval fruits, which hang in groups. They mature into a nut with a woody shell surrounded by a cup of leafy bracts (modified leaves).

Hazel trees grow across much of Europe, as well as parts of north Africa and western Asia. In the UK it’s often found under the canopy of the lowland oak, ash or birch woodland, and is also found sometimes in scrub and hedgerows.

Did you know…The hazelnut became Oregon’s official State Nut in 1989.

As with the harmony of nature, hazel tree leaves provide an abundance of food for the caterpillars of many moths, including the large emerald, small white wave, barred umber and nut-tree tussock. They may support many species of butterfly, particularly fritillaries. Coppiced hazel trees also provides shelter for ground-nesting birds such as the nightingale, nightjar, yellowhammer and willow warbler.

Hazel nuts are also eaten by woodpeckers, nuthatches, tits, wood pigeons, jays and a number of small mammals. Hazel flowers provide early pollen as a food for bees. And the tree trunks are often covered in mosses, liverworts and lichens, and the fiery milkcap fungi grows in the soil beneath.

‘She said that the planting of trees, like the education of children, was a gift to the future.’ (Cassandra Danz)

Myth & Symbolism
The Hazel is associated with ‘knowledge’ and there is a wonderful story about a young man named Fionn, which includes the hazel tree and the salmon of knowledge, and is a story to tell, retell at this time of the year or on the evening of your new month celebration, and to quietly ponder upon it (see here).

Hazel has a reputation as a’ magical tree’. In many parts of Europe, a hazel rod is supposed to protect against evil spirits, as well as being used as a wand and for water-divining. In some parts of England hazel nuts were carried as charms and/or held to ward off rheumatism. The hazel’s connection with the Well of Wisdom is evident by the tree’s frequent presence at holy wells throughout Britain and Ireland, where pilgrims. still continue to this day, festoon its branches with votive offerings in the form of pieces of cloth.

‘Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.’ (Kahlil Gibran)

The hazel’s association with wisdom extends to other cultures of the ancient world. In Norse mythology it was known as the Tree of Knowledge and was sacred to Thor; the Romans held it sacred to Mercury; and Hermes’ magic rod may have been made from hazel.

Conclusion
Whatever you do, my encouragement to you is to celelebrate the new month one evening as we enter the new month of the Hazel tree.  Appreciate the marking of time, the new month, and trees. Yes, love trees. Wishing you and yours a blessed Hazel tree month, Tadhg.

‘Make peace with people, make peace with animals, make peace with trees!’ (Mehmet Murat ildan)

 

Thoughts About Gŵyl Awst, Or Harvest: Celtic Thoughts

20170728 THOUGHTS ABOUT GWYL AWST OR HARVESTYes, Lammas or Lammas-tide, or harvest as many churches know is almost upon us. I love this time of the year. Hard work for the farmers and rural farmhands, but their tireless labour is appreciated by us all.

Usually celebrated during the very first few days of August, you might want to consider celebrating it on the first day of August, or the following weekend, but I’d also suggest you might like to celebrate it at the time of the upcoming full moon (on the evening of 7 August).

It is, nevertheless, a time to be thankful for the earth’s bounty, and grateful to the Great Provider Of All for the last year.

We plough the fields, and scatter the good seed on the land, but it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand…

(Hymn by Matthias Claudius, Translated by Jane Montgomery Campbell, and one of my favourite, seasonal, hymns at primary school.)

It is called the first harvest, because there is a second harvest at the time of the Autumn Equinox. Others will also know this time as Lughnasadh [(the ‘commemoration of Lugh’), but I like to call it by its old Welsh name Gŵyl Awst.

Lammas, for the inquisitive amongst you, by the way, comes from the Anglo-Saxon festival of hlaefmass – loaf, and so it’s good to celebrate the time with a loaf of bread – home-baked or perhaps, something special bought from a local shop. Maybe eat this special bread after your main meal one evening, with lashings of butter on it, and eat slowly, savouring eat bite as an act of deep meditation, deep reverence and with deep thanks-giving. Rituals don’t have to be lavish and complicated. Simple ones, with intentionality goes a long way. Why not invite family and friends along?

So, my grandmother, a great one for making home-made food would, especially at this time, make bara brith – Welsh for ‘speckled bread’. It’s similar to the Irish loaf, barmbrack.

Oh, this was my favourite type of bread as a child. A cross between bread and cake! The smell of baking bread over the hearth in her north Wales county cottage was heavenly, so inviting, and so impedingly-scrumptious. I can still remember the smell of that baked bread wafting up my nostrils, and my stomach rumbling in anticipation.

As a child, I knew I was in for a treat. There was, and is, nothing quite like freshly-baked bread, still piping-hot, and covered in lashings and lashings of real butter.

In Ireland, some of the mountain pilgrimages have survived. By far the most popular is the Reek Sunday pilgrimage at Croagh Patrick, which attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims each year. The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland established the custom of blessing fields at Lughnasadh.This time then, is a time of giving thanks by all to mother nature for all her fruits, gratitude to the the Lord of the Harvest, and a celebration using what has been sown.

And so, this Lammastide, as it has been since I was a child, I’ll be baking several bara brith, and sharing one – yes, the breaking of bread with family and friends – in a simple, ‘after meal’ remembrance ‘feast’, remembering all the good things that have happened this year, and giving thanks, in silence and humility, to the Source of All for the harvest, for life itself.

There’ll be more about the harvest and harvest celebration on Monday, but meanwhile don’t forget the harvest hymn, that you may want to sing, recite as poem or liturgy – see here for the Hymn For Gŵyl Awst.

 

The Rainbow Blessing [Celtic Poem, Liturgy & Blessing]

20170710 RAINBOW BLESSINGWe live in a universe full of vibrant colour, and though we can only see part of the spectrum, what we can see is wonderful in its beauty.

We can witness the yellow radiance of the daily new-born sun as it rises above the horizon, to the deep red colour of evening and sunset. Grass, trees, flowers, a superabundance of insects and animals, nature arrayed in all its beauty is set before us in a blaze of colour, to gaze upon in awe and for us to be blessed.

The following, then, may be used as a poem for yourself or as liturgy in a ritual, and as a blessing to you and others:

Title: The Rainbow Blessing

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.

Blessings, Tadhg

 

 

Tadhg’s Ephemera: The Moon Of Calming [9 July 2017]

20170707 TADHGS EPHEMERA MOON OF CALMING 9 JULY

It’s that time again – a full moon is imminent.

I love this time of the month, as that heavenly face looks down upon us all. Whatever our differences, tribal allegiances, wherever we find ourselves, that silvery, wonderful face looks upon us all, without judgement.  It’s a time to draw near, to offer gratitude, to celebrate the new moon just as the ancients would have, and it’s a time to ponder in awe, and draw strength.

‘The moon looks upon many night flowers; the night flowers see but one moon.’ Jean Ingelow

The next full moon is on Sunday, 9 July 2017 at 5.07am UTC, in the constellation of Sagittarius, but at that time in the early morning it will be very low in the sky from the UK’s viewpoint, so it may be best to view it Saturday evening, toward midnight or after.

Data

This full moon, to some is known as the Rose moon, or Mead moon, or the Hay moon. To ancient and latter-day Celts and Druidic-Christians like myself (and others) it is known as the Moon of Calming.

‘And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years’. (Genesis 1:14, The Book)

Pluto is nearby this full moon, but the bright star very close to the moon – almost touching it – is 56 Sagittarii, an ‘orange giant’, which is some 204 light years away.

Light leaving 56 Sagittarii some 204 years ago and arriving today, entering your retina, as you look at it now, left that star in 1813 – and during the year of 1813:

  • Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was published anonymously in London;
  • there was a three week raid by the British on Fort Schlosser, Black Rock and Plattsburgh, New York (Sorry, America);
  • Robert Southey becomes Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom;
  • one of my favourite philosopher-theologians, Søren Kierkegaard, was born;
  • and Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi, the Italian composer was also born that year.

An alternative view if that, is that all those above events, if it were possible to view them from the star 56 Sagittarii, would only just now be arriving, and that’s what any alien there would ‘see’ and understand of our planet – as it was 204 years ago. Such are the vast distances of space. However, light leaving the moon would take just 1.3 seconds to reach your eye!

‘The day, water, sun, moon, night – I do not have to purchase these things with money.’ Plautus

Liturgy

The following might be useful in your celebration of this full moon, in gratitude to The One Beyond The Moon. These are two liturgical poems or prayers that I’ve come across:

Oh Divine Presence,
bless to me/us the lustre of your signs and wonders,
traces of our final home in land and sea and sky.
As you have made the mark of a human face in the heavens
may I/we see the imprint of your family likeness in every living thing
that your blessing might radiate
each day and each night,
until heaven and earth are One.

(Tess Ward, adapted)

and

I call on strength
from silver moon.
I call on strength
from every sandy strand.
I call on strength
from mountain peak.
I call on strength
from moorland bleak.
I call upon the Spirit
providing strength from here.

(Adapted from David Adam’s book ‘Tides And Seasons’)

I wish you all – whether you have a full moon meal, a party, a full moon ritual, or just take the time to light a candle and/or gaze at the moon in awe and gratitude – I wish you all a wonderful Moon of Calming occasion, and many blessings.

‘We are going to the moon that is not very far. Man has so much farther to go within himself.’ Anaïs Nin

(Thank you  to Pennie Ley for letting me use one of her wonderful photographs (copyrighted, 2017)  for the ‘header’ to this article.)