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.)

 

 

Tadhg’s Ephemera: The New Month Of The Holly Tree [8 July – 4 August]

20170706 THE CELTIC MONTH OF THE HOLLY TREE

This Friday is the last day of the Celtic month of the Oak, and Saturday, 8 July is the start of a new month – but remember the ancient Druids and Celts, and many other ancient peoples, too, started their new day in the evening. So, you can celebrate the new month this coming Friday evening if you wish, or Saturday evening.

The upcoming new month is the Celtic and Druid month of the Holly, and it’s a wonderful month.

About The Tree

Common Name: Holly
Scientific Name: Ilex aquifolium
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Miscellaneous Information: The name ‘holy’, which probably derived from the Prot-Indo-European language for ‘prickly’, came to us through the Old Norse word ‘hulfr’. In German it’s hulst, French it’s houx, and Welsh as celyn.

Mature trees, can grow up to 15m and live for about three hundred years. The bark is smooth and thin with numerous small, brown ‘warts’, and the stems are dark brown. Its leaves are dark green, glossy and oval in shape, with younger plants have spiky leaves.

The holly is dioecious: male and female flowers occur on different trees. Flowers are white with four petals. Look out for its bright red berries and shiny, leathery leaves that usually have spiny prickles on the edges.

Love is like the wild rose-briar;
Friendship like the holly tree,
The holly is dark when the rose briar blooms,
But which will bloom most constantly?

(Emily Bronte)

The tree is native in the UK and across Europe, north Africa and western Asia. It is commonly found in woodland, scrub and hedgerows, and especially in oak and beech woodland.

Holly provides dense cover and good nesting opportunities for birds, and its dry leaf litter is used by hedgehogs and other small mammals for hibernation.

The berries are a vital source of food for birds in winter, and are also eaten by small mammals such as wood mice and dormice.

Holly wood is the whitest of all woods, and is very heavy, hard and fine grained. It can be stained and polished, and is used, sometimes, to make furniture or used in engraving work. It is also commonly used to make walking-sticks. Holly wood also makes good kindling, and burns with a strong heat.

Mythology And Symbolism

For centuries, holly branches have been used to decorate homes, especially in winter. In the Christian tradition the bright red berries represented the blood of Christ, and was a reminder at Christmastime of the Christ’s impending crucifixion and that new life springs from that.

The Holly and the Ivy
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly wears the crown.

(Traditional carol)

For ancient and latter-day Celts and Druids, the tree was also seen as a fertility symbol and a charm against witches, goblins and the devil. It was thought by many to be unlucky to cut down a holly tree.

It is said the oak tree attracts lightning, but the holly tree repels lightning, and so it was often planted around homes for protection from lightning strikes, and for this reason it is viewed as a symbol for protection. But, please don’t shelter under one, nor any tree, in lightning storm!

Interestingly, science has actually discovered the distinct leaf-shape of the holly acts as a natural repellent for lightning’s electricity, allegedly, making the holly’s protective significance more than just lore, perhaps.

I’ll bid the hyacinth to blow,
I’ll teach my grottos green to be;
And sing my true love, all below
the holly bower and myrtle tree.

(Thomas Campbell)

As the ‘ruler’ of winter, the holly is also associated with dreams and the subconscious. Druids would often invoke the holly energy for assistance in dream work.

In Celtic mythology the Holly King was said to rule over the half of the year from the summer to the winter solstice, at which time the Oak King defeated the Holly King to rule for the time until the summer solstice again.

In heraldry, the holly represents truth.

Celebrating The Month Of Holly

However you would normally celebrate a new Celtic month, it would be a good idea, perhaps, to:

  • spend some time contemplating on a holly twig, if you’re able to buy some, or print out a photo from the internet of holly, and have that on your table near a candle, and
  • think about the various associations that holly has: fertility, protection, the blood of the Christ, and what this means to you and others – always good to know what others believe, even if you have a deep-seated belief, and
  • perhaps use some of the quotes above in your time of celebration (which can be incorporated into a meal or similar, or token meal), but make it a good time of celebration as we move into a new month, a new start.

And, there’s also a full moon too, this weekend, so that is also something that can be incorporated into your new month celebration – but more about the upcoming new moon, tomorrow.

Blessings, Tadhg

 

 

Tadhg’s Ephemera: The Full Moon & Month Of The Oak Tree [9 June 2017]

20170607 THE FULL MOON AND THE MONTH OF THE OAK TREE EPHEMERAThis Friday, 9 June 2017 it is time for a double celebration. There is a full moon and it’s also the last day of the Celtic month of the Hawthorn tree. On 10 June we move into the Celtic month of the Oak tree (and if you want to follow the lead of the ancients, the new month starts on the preceding evening from our point of view) so it, too, can be celebrated on 9 June, if you so wish.

The Full Moon

Thus upcoming full moon, rising low in the sky (from a UK aspect) takes place with the moon moving toward the constellation of Scorpius, and with the planet Saturn nearby.

To some this full moon is known as the Dyan or Dyad moon, to others it’s the Strawberry moon, or the Flower moon. To many Celtic Christians, Druidic-Christians like myself and other Druids it is the Moon of Horses (or the Mead moon). But, whatever you call it, it is a time to celebrate.

God made two lights – the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night….’ ( Genesis 1:16a, The Book)

For many the time of the full moon is an ideal time to let go of anything that is holding you back. To do this, particularly for those that know the power of ritual, enacted-prayer and symbolism, you might like to:

  • Create sacred time-space by lighting a candle.
  • If possible, put yourself in a position where you can gaze at the moon. You may be indoors and this may not be possible (or, indeed, the moon may not be visible from where you are…but don’t worry). It’s still a good exercise to go for a night walk, later on, maybe after this little ceremony.
  • Quieten your thoughts. Move into that silent-for-prayer realm, or a state of being grounded. You’re now in sacred-time space.
  • Place a large water-filled bowl in front of you.
  • Write the name of everything that is holding you back and that you reasonably surrender, on a small piece of paper. Read it out loud. Fold the paper. Place it in the bowl of water.
  • Close your eyes. Relax. Imagine the ink dissolving because of the water. Water cleanses, it purifies. It is used in various ancient tribes and religions to signify a new start, a washing away of the old. Whatever you wrote, picture the writing disappearing. Imagine in your mind’s eye that you’re releasing whatever was holding you back.
  • Relax (even more so) and enjoy the moment.
  • When ready, slowly open your eyes and extinguish the candle. You’re now out of sacred time-space (or are you? Perhaps it goes on and were unaware of it, and yet, still benefit?).
  • Celebrate this release by going for a walk that evening under the full moon, if it’s visible, but even if it’s not, then a nice, awesome, night walk is still beneficial.

Celebrate. Give thanks. Enjoy.

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

The Celtic Month Of The Oak Tree

The upcoming month is the Celtic month of the Oak Tree. It starts on 10 June (but 9 June if you start the new day the evening before from our modern perspective) and it runs until 7 July.

‘Of all the trees that grow so fair,
Old England to adorn,
Greater are none beneath the Sun,
Than Oak and Ash and Thorn.’ (Rudyard Kipling)

The Oak month falls during a time when the oak trees are beginning to reach their full blooming stages. The Oak is a strong, powerful, and typically larger-than-its-neighbouring trees, towering tree.

It is a tree that is sacred to all Druids. Linked by name as the word ‘druid’ comes from a proto Indo-European root word meaning ‘to see’ or ‘oak-knower’.

‘This oak tree and me, we’re made of the same stuff.’ Carl Sagan

To some the Oak tree symbolises durability, purity, constancy, life, loyalty, wisdom, resilience, power or strength. The latter three themes, tying in with the full moon at this time, as power and strength will be needed to surrender what might be holding you back, and to forge ahead.

‘Storms make the oak tree grow deeper roots.’ George Herbert

So, happy new month of the Oak tree, and a happy full moon. Asking blessings from the Three-In-One to you and yours. Love, Tadhg.

 

Ephemera: The Celtic Month Of The Hawthorn Tree [13 May – 9 June]

20170511 CELTIC MONTH OF THE HAWTHORN TREE EPHEMERAWe’re coming to the end of the Celtic month of the Willow Tree, and Saturday, 13 May 2017 sees the start of the new month, the Celtic month of the Hawthorn Tree.

So, this is a great time to celebrate in some way – and don’t forget that the ancients started their day the evening before, from our perspective – so if you want, you can celebrate the event this coming Friday evening, but for me, this time, it’s Saturday evening.

Essential Data
Month: Hawthorn Tree
Dates: 13 May – 9 June
Common Name: Hawthorn
Celtic /Gaelic Name: Huathe (pronounced ‘oo-ah-huh’)
Scientific Name: Crataegus Monogyna.

About The Tree
The Hawthorn can be a shrub in a hedgerow, or grow into a  tree, with mature Hawthorn trees reaching a height of about 15m, and they are characterised by their dense, thorny habit. The bark is brown-gray in colour, and is knotted and fissured, and its twigs are slender and brown, and covered in thorns.

‘Poetry and imagination begin life.
A child will fall on its knees on the gravel walk
at the sight of a pink hawthorn in full flower,
when it is by itself, to praise God for it.’

Florence Nightingale

The flowers of Hawthorns trees are hermaphrodite, that is, that both male and female reproductive parts are contained within each flower. Flowers are highly scented, are white or occasionally pink in colour, and have five petals, and grow clusters.

hawthorn_flowers

Hawthorn tree flowers

Once pollinated by insects, flowers develop into deep red fruits known as ‘haws’.The Hawthorn is of great value to wildlife. It can support more than three hundred varieties of insects. It provides food for caterpillars of many moths, its flowers are eaten by dormice, and provide nectar and pollen for bees. It provides food for many migrating birds such as redwings, fieldfares and thrushes, as well as small mammals.

The dense foliage also makes it a fantastic nesting shelter for many species of bird.

Health Benefits (Complementary)
The flowers, leaves and fruits of the Hawthorn are said to have properties that reduce blood pressure and stimulate the heart. They can act as a mild sedative, and can assist with relieving migraine, menopausal conditions, angina, and insomnia. Ofcourse, the aforementioned is from a traditional (and non-scientific) standpoint, and should you wish to try Hawthorn as complementary medicine do consult a qualified herbalist, and in all cases check with your (allopathic) health practitioner, first.

Oh! come to see me, when the soft warm May
bids all my boughs their gay embroidery
wear,
In my bright season’s transitory day,
While my young perfume loads the enamoured air.
Oh, come to see me, when the sky is blue,
And backs my spangles with an azure
ground.
While the thick ivy bosses clustering through,
See their dark tufts with silvery circlets
crowned.
Then be the Spring in all its pomp arrayed,
the lilac’s blossom, the laburnum’s blaze,
Nature hath reared beyond this Hawthorn glade
No fairer alter to her Maker’s praise.

George W.F. Howard

Folklore
Many consider it unlucky to bring it into the house, and others equate it with illness and even death. In Britain, for instance, in medieval times it was said that hawthorn blossom smelled like the Great Plague. Botanists, interestingly, have since found that the chemical trimethylamine in hawthorn blossom is also one of the first chemicals formed in decaying animal tissue. And, so it comes as no surprise that hawthorn flowers are associated with death.

But, for me, the Hawthorn is, and should be considered, a wonderful, holy tree (especially, but not only, when treated with respect). I do think the Hawthorn has received ‘bad press’ over the years.

In Ireland, for instance, Hawthorn trees have always been thought of as faery trees. And, so as not to attract the attention of the fae, unnecessarily, nor wishing to upset them, the Hawthorn was sometimes known simply as ‘gentle bushes’, or ‘May’.

Clouties_near_madron_well

Cloths tied to a tree near Madron Well in Cornwall

Hawthorns also often stand over holy wells, and these were viewed, traditionally, as  thresholds of the Otherworld, where pilgrims festoon them with ribbons, rags and other votive offerings. These wells were called Clootie wells and the strips of cloth or rags tied to branches were part of a healing ritual, or as a prayer-token on half of someone else.

Hawthorn, it is said, can be used for protection, love and marriage.

Britain’s most famous Hawthorn Tree is the Holy Thorn of Glastonbury. It is said that Joseph of Arimathea, the uncle of the Virgin Mary, arrived at a hill overlooking Glastonbury Tor with two holy vessels containing the blood and sweat of Jesus. Joseph thrust his staff into the ground, where it sprouted and immediately grew into a Hawthorn tree, where ‘descendant’ trees still stand on that hill. These particular hawthorn blooms twice a year; in May and again about Christmastime. Traditionally, a sprig of one of these Glastonbury Hawthorns trees is sent to the Queen, who is said to decorate her breakfast table with it on Christmas morning.

And, there are legends that the crown of thorns worn by the Christ at his crucifixion was made of Hawthorn, which makes it both ‘lucky’ and ‘unlucky’ depending how you interpret that Paschal event.

Celebration?
Tomorrow, we’ll look at a few ways to celebrate the upcoming new month.

Blessings of the Hawthorn, Tadhg

 

20170511 CELTIC MONTH OF THE HAWTHORN TREE EPHEMERA

Tadhg’s Ephemera: The Bright Moon. Full Moon On 10 May 2017

20170508 BRIGHT MOON 10 MAY EPHEMERAIt’s that time…the time of Spring, pleasant weather, the time of the full moon, and when many consider this is a good time for releasing what is holding them back and working on new commitments, both in spirit and love, committing to an engagement, hand-fasting or marriage, or making some other commitment.

‘The world’s favourite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May.’  Edwin Way Teale

Essentials
On the evening of Wednesday, 10 May 2017 there is a full moon in the constellation of Libra (on the ESE horizon at 8.05pm from a London, UK perspective and rising gently to it’s ‘highest’ point that night just after midnight when looking southward).

This full moon is known as the Bright Moon.

Still others, though, such as other Celts, Celtic Christians, Druids and Pagan friends may refer to it as the Grass Moon, the Milk Moon or the Flower Moon.

‘Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.’ Psalm 89:37, The Book

It’s well and truly spring (in the northern hemisphere) and a time for growing plants and flowers,  and so, aptly, May is named for the Roman goddess Maia, who oversaw the growth of plants. And, doubly so, at this full moon in May.

Myths About The Moon
There are a number of myths about the moon, as these are:

Ancestor offerings: In some Chinese religions, offerings are made to the ancestors on the night of a full moon.

A full moon makes you ‘crazy’: Ever since ancient times, full moons have been associated with odd behaviour, sleepwalking, or violence . The words ‘lunacy’ and ‘lunatic’ come from the Roman goddess of the moon, Luna, who was said to ride her silver chariot across the dark sky each night. In England, in the  18th-century those on trial for murder could seek a lighter sentence on grounds of lunacy, if the crime occurred at the time of full moon. Also, the book,  ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ by Robert Louis Stevenson, was said to have been inspired by the strange , and yet very true, case of Charles Hyde, a London man who committed a numbers of crimes, all at the time of the full moon.

Even the BBC News reported, a few year ago, reported  that some British police departments have decided to add extra officers on nights with crime increases that occur at the time of a full moon (though there are many that think this may have to do with the response to opportunistic crime and more light at night be available for foul deeds because of the full moon).

Aliens on the Moon: In the 1820s,  Bavarian astronomer Franz von Paula Gruithuisen recorded that he had spied alien cities on the moon with his telescope. He called them Lunarians, and though many people derided his finding, he did at least have a modest-sized moon crater named after him.

Even today, there are those who believe their are aliens on the moon, maybe on the side of the Moon which doesn’t face Earth, and some believe images, from Chandrayaan-1 (an Indian Moon probe) appear to show a series of lava tubes snaking under the surface of the Moon, as it made by an intelligence, with thousands of scatted, perhaps, connecting caves.

It makes you think!

Full Moon ‘Releasing’ Ritual
This is a releasing ritual, releasing you from all that is holding you back. As with any ritual, it is an outward sign and activity of an inward occurrence. It can be done outdoors on the night of the full moon, but equally, it can be done indoors.

So, find a quiet place, and:

1. Light a candle (to denote entering into sacred space/sacred time). If you want, you can place crystals, power-rocks and other positive-tools around you.

2. De-clutter your mind of thoughts, clear your energy. This can be done by imagination, and so why not close your eyes and visualise that you are standing under a silver waterfall. As you so do, in your mind’s eye, imagine that all negativity being  washed away.

3. Take a few deep breaths to ‘center’ yourself, to move deeply within your being, and then ‘ask’ what it is that you wish to be released from. What is it that is holding you back? What is a limiting belief? What no longer serves a positive purpose in your life. In your mind’s eye, write it on a piece of paper. Wait for a short while.

4. As you breathe in, think of that piece of paper with that limiting belief written on it, and as you breathe out, imagine that that piece of paper moves into the candle and is burnt up. It no longer exists. Do this several times. [Remember, this is all taking place in your imagination, so please don’t actually set fire to anything you have with you!].

This type of breathing in/out with visualisation is like tonglen, in reverse.

5. After a short while open your eyes, fully enter this ‘realm’ by gazing gently at the candle for a few minutes. There is no rush. And then, to denote a closing of that sacred space/sacred time, blow the candle out. Wait for a few minutes. Doing things slowly, here, is good.

6. Ofcourse, this is a ritual, an outward sign or action of an inward occurrence, and you will still need to ‘do’ the necessary things in the physical realm to bring about a releasing of what is/was holding you back, and to work towards a positive outcome.

[Always concerned for you, I would ask that you do take appropriate professional advice if your ‘releasing negativity and embracing positivity’ in this ritual (and afterward) concerns money, land, health, relationships etc]

7. Keep a journal of your experiences in that ritual, what you did to ‘earth it’ and work towards releasing negativity and working towards positivity, detailing actions and how you felt at the time. It’s always good to look back, weeks, months or even years later.

Let me know what happens, if you wish.

‘May and June.  Soft syllables, gentle names for the two best months in the garden year: cool, misty mornings gently burned away with a warming spring sun, followed by breezy afternoons and chilly nights.  The discussion of philosophy is over; it’s time for work to begin.’ Peter Loewer

Gardening
Being a concerned about  nature, my suggestion is: that for those wishing to cultivate and benefit from nature, even a window box if you live in a city and haven’t got access to a garden, how about planting:

For shady, north-facing locations: English daisy, Fern (maidenhair, tassel, Boston, asparagus, Impatiens. Pansy, Parsley, Snapdragon.

Sun-liking, south-facing locations: Lavender, Marigold, Miniature rose, Rosemary (which is particularly good at attracting bees. We definitely need to look after bees).

‘May, more than any other month of the year, wants us to feel most alive.’ Fennel Hudson

And Finally…
…Wishing you a blessed May full moon, Tadhg

Ephemera: The Celtic Month Of The Willow Tree [15 April-12 May]

20170414 CELTIC MONTH OF THE WILLOW TREE EPHEMERAFriday, 14 April is the last day of the Celtic month of the Alder Tree, and 15 April sees the start of the new month of the Willow Tree (though some like to start that day, in common with ancient cultures, at sunset on the evening of 14 April).

Essential Data
Month: Willow Tree
Dates: 15 April – 12 May
Common Name: Willow
Celic /Gaelic Name: Shellach
Scientific Name: Salix

The Gaelic words for willow are shellach, or suil, and its name features in Scottish place names such as Achnashellach in Ross-shire, Glensuileag in Inverness-shire and Corrieshalloch on Speyside. It is also called sallow (from Old English sealh, related to the Latin word “Salix“; Willow).

‘Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.’ Bruce

About The Tree
Willows, also called sallows, and osiers, and come from the genus Salix. Willows have abundant watery bark sap, and soft, usually pliant, tough wood, with slender branches, The roots are remarkable for their toughness, size, and tenacity to life.

The leaves are typically elongated, but may also be round to oval, frequently with serrated edges. Most species are deciduous or semi-evergreen.

Willows are dioecious, that is they have male and female flowers which appear as catkins on separate plants; the catkins are produced early in the spring, and often before the leaves.

Willows are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, such as the mourning cloak butterfly, and ants, such as wood ants, and it is common to find aphids coming to collect honeydew, as sometimes do wasps.

Willow is used to make charcoal (for drawing), willow stems are used to weave baskets and three-dimensional sculptures, such as animals and figures and are also used to create garden features. Willow is grown for biomass or biofuel, in energy forestry systems, and large-scale projects to support willow as an energy crop are already at commercial scale in Sweden.

Willow is one of the ‘Four Species’ used ritually during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. In Buddhism, a willow branch is one of the chief attributes of Kwan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion. And, Christian churches in north-western Europe, Ukraine and Bulgaria often used willow branches as a substitute for palms in the ceremonies on Palm Sunday.

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there we hung up our lyres. Psalm 137:1-2, The Book

Folklore
Because many willows grow close to water, legends, magic and folklore associated with the willow tree include many references to water. The moon, too, is often linked to the willow tree. Indeed, Culpeper says in his Complete Herbal book says, ‘The moon owns the willow’.

Hecate, for instance, the powerful Greek deity was goddess of the moon and of willow. Associated with water, her priestesses used willow in their water divination.

The willow muse, called Heliconian was sacred to poets, and the Greek poet Orpheus also carried willow branches (wands?) into the Underworld, having received his gift by touching the Willows in a grove sacred to Persephone.

Willow groves have been used by many types of artisans to gain eloquence, inspiration, skills and the gift of prophecy.

There is a wonderful creation myth in Druidic mysteries. Two red snake eggs were hidden within the willow tree, and it was from these eggs that the Universe was hatched. One egg contained the Sun, the other the Earth.

Also, Hildegard, the Christian mystic spoke of creation and the universe as an egg, when she recounted her third vision, and wrote: ‘After this I saw a vast instrument, round and shadowed, in the shape of an egg, small at the top, large in the middle and narrowed at the bottom; outside it, surrounding its circumference, there was bright fire…’

Traditionally, in spring rituals, these red eggs were replaced by hens’ eggs, coloured scarlet for the Sun and eaten at Beltane. This act transferred later to the Christian celebration of Easter.

Interestingly, Greek Orthodox Christians, even today, dye hens eggs red on Holy Thursday to symbolise the Christ’s blood poured out to death on Good Friday, and that egg also symbolises the new life of Easter Sunday. There is also a game called tsougrisma and played in Greece, today, in which two people take one red egg each in their hand, and alternately try to break their opponent’s egg – the winner being the one whose egg doesn’t crack first.

All around my hat I will wear the green willow.
All around my hat for a twelve-month and a day.
And if anyone should ask me the reason why I’m wearing it
It’s all for my true love who’s far, far away.

Steeleye Span

Healing
The cunning folk used the willow tree, extensively, for healing. It is said (and, please do not try the aforementioned) that they made an infusion from the bitter bark of the willow tree as a remedy for colds, fevers, and to treat inflammatory conditions such as rheumatism. They also chewed young willow twigs to relieve pain.

In the early nineteenth century modern science isolated the active ingredient responsible, salicylic acid, and from this the world’s first synthetic drug, acetylasylic acid, was developed and marketed as Aspirin.

Celebration
The willow is known by some for its wisdom-instilling and creativity-giving properties, and so, whatever you do to welcome in the new month, perhaps you could light a candle and meditate for a while and seek a creativity-boost, and/or read a few apt poems about the willow tree or trees in general, or visit an art gallery in person or online, for inspiration. Awen.

Wishing you, and those whom you love, a very blessed new month.

Luna, Faithful Companion: Full Moon Poem

20170411 LUNA FAITHFUL COMPANION POEMThere are different ways of perceiving the moon, or indeed any other object.

We can look at the ‘surface’ of things, and as regards the moon for instance, scientifically describe it as an happy accident or chance happening from which we can derive some benefit. Distant observation.

Or we can get ‘closer’ and describe how bizarre that ‘co-incidences’ should have happened in relation to us, the planet and the moon, and think deeply. Synchronicity.

Or we can get closer still, encompass the other two ways of perceiving the moon, but also ponder, silently, in awe what effect the moon has on us, means to us, and meditate upon the hand that flung it into space, and look ‘beyond’ the veil to discover a continual uncovering of truth and meaning. We can experience a connectedness like never before. Oneness.

Here’s a poem ‘Luna’, regarding the latter, in gratitude to the Source of All at this time of the full moon.

The moon’s face smiles as her love is poured out.
Earth’s faithful companion of old, Luna, without a doubt,
depicts landmarks of whitened seas and grey isles
as her love is poured out, the moon’s face smiles.

On this night she takes her rest
with a myriad stars around her pale-yellow, brilliant dress.
It is time for us to draw closer. A cosmic invite as
she takes her rest on this night

Shining on the world below.
Witnessed by lovers, wild beasts, owls and crow.
That moment of ‘nowness’, moonlit, presence-defining,
on the world below, shining.

Moonbeams dance across the firmament, that is a vast space,
From Mare Imbrium to your face.
A meaningful encounter, not produced by chance, as
across the firmament that is a vast space, moonbeams dance.

High in the sky she shines, above the mist,
you are embraced, known, much-loved, and moon-kissed.
So revel in nature’s love, accept it, never asking why, for
above the mist, she shines high in the sky.

Wishing you a blessed full moon celebration. Tadhg

This poem is a swap quatrain. That is, where the first line is repeated in the last line of each stanza, but rearranged so that the first part of that line becomes the second, and vice versa. I hope that made sense. Blessings.

Tadhg’s Ephemera & More: The Growing Moon: 11 April 2017

20170410 THE GROWING MOON 11 APRIL 2017 EPHEMERAFull Moon
Spring is truly here, and this month’s full moon takes place on Tuesday, 11 April 2017, in the constellation of Scorpio, the latter being seen, traditionally, as a water element.

This full moon rises around sunset, and sets around sunrise. This is the only time in the month when the moon is in the night sky all night long. The rest of the month the moon spends some time, at least, moving across the daytime sky.

‘The moon was reigning over their world, glowing its full splendour to all those willing to look up.’ Irina Serban

To the ancient and latter day Celts and Druids, such as myself, this full moon is known as the Growing Moon. Others regard/regarded it as the Seed Moon, the Pink Moon, the Awakening Moon, or the Egg Moon. Whatever we call it, this is a wonderful time of the month, and a time to sit, gaze up and ponder at our Earth’s wonderful companion smiling down at us.

On This Day: 11 April
1814 Napoleon surrenders unconditionally, and is exiled to the island of Elba.
1968 President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act.
2015 President Obama meets Raul Castro, the first meeting between USA and Cuban heads of state since the Cuban Revolution.

Further Ahead
On the evenings surrounding April 20, Mars, that red planet, traverses across the sky and will pass close to the Pleiades star cluster, the Seven Sisters. After the sky darkens, they should be visible as a faint group of seven stars to the naked eye, as several dozen stars within a binoculars’ field of view, and with a telescope you might see several hundred stars.

The name Pleiades comes from Ancient Greek, and is probably derived from plein (‘to sail’) because of that star cluster’s importance to the sailing season in the Mediterranean Sea. The name was later mythologised as the name of seven divine sisters, whose name was thought to be connected to their mother Pleione.

Also, look out for the annual Lyrids meteor shower which runs from 16 to 25 April, and which peaks before dawn on Saturday, 22 April.

‘The moon will guide you through the night with her brightness, but she will always dwell in the darkness, in order to be seen.’ Shannon L Alder

Soon, Earth Day
This year, Earth Day, occurs on Saturday, 22 April. Details of how you can get involved in a practical way can be viewed at the Earth Day website here.

And/or you can read their webpage and send out some positivity, good-energy, prayers and maybe hold an appropriate ritual, or meditate silently upon the Earth, extending love and peace to it and all its wildlife, and give gratitude.

‘And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair’. Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Also, in doing this by yourself or with others, you might like to consider turning off all lights and unnecessary household equipment to stop or reduce your electricity usage for an hour (refrigerators/freezers etc exempt), and, perhaps, spend that time in darkness, or use a candle for light for your meditation, ritual etc.

May you have a blessed full moon celebration. Tadhg.

Haiku #7: Vernal Equinox[ology]: Ephemera

20170320 vernal equinoxolgy EPHEMERAAs you may know, I’m fascinated by the traditional haiku – short Japanese poems consisting of three lines; and the lines containing firstly five syllables, then seven, then five; and somewhere in the haiku there is usually a seasonal reference (called a ‘kigo’), however oblique.

It’s the Spring equinox today, and time to celebrate the time of equal day lengths and equal night. I also love liturgy and ritual, and so have penned three haiku to celebrate today and to use this evening as liturgy in part of my ritual for the ocassion.

And, so, here’s some words, in the form of haiku, to mark the season, the turning of the Circle, and in praise to the One behind it all.

Equal nights for owls,
And days for soaring eagles.
Vernal equinox.

Ascendant light, now.
The night but bows for six months.
Perfect harmony.

Celebrate, candle!
Mark the Circle’s turning, well.
Oh, Veriditas!

You might have your own unique way of celebrating this time, but if you want to use (and adapt) any, or all, of the haiku above, please do so. But, however, complex or simple your ritual and liturgy is, my encouragement is to do something today (or even tomorrow) to celebrate this wonderful day – so light a candle, meditate, plant a seed (or, perhaps donate a small amount of money to a tree-planting charity), or pause in gratitude as the Circle turns. Praise be to the Circle-Turner.