The July new moon is due tomorrow, 10 July, and the full moon will be due on Saturday, 24 July, 2021. For Celtic, Druids, and other Faiths isn’t it awesome to think of the new or full moon, soon?
The full moon is always wondered to me (both the new moon finds wonderful, too), and a poem (or liturgy) for the full moon follows, now, tonight, and it affects both hemispheres, too.
The first verse is our July poem from ‘Moonemclature (sp)’ of 8 July, 2020, but other verses include other words..
TheJuly Full Moon
We celebrate midsummer, Oh Moon of Corn, that from darkness, you are now full-born. Around us mirth and joy is heard, You light the world by the Creator’s word.
Teach us to listen and observe. to nature’s wisdom, to love all, and all to serve.
We remember those who are loved ones of the Southern Hemisphere, who see also the Wolf Moon, or the Ice Moon, and the Ice Winter and the Old Moon. Yet it changes the world, and we all see the Creator’s word.
May we take the stormy clouds and cold weather, as we know the nature’s balance all around us.
In July’s full moon, it is so light, above us, and the sky is darkness beyond the cloud. And, yet it shows us that Arianrhod is divine light.
Arianrhod loves us, and may we love Arianrhod, and love each other.
Beltane is fast approaching, as we look forward to 1 May in the northern hemisphere. In Wales we call it Calan Mai.
This festival is usually commemorated with bonfires, maypoles, dancing, and performing other rituals. And, as well there is a couple of English videos that you might like to watch.
“A little Madness in the Spring Is wholesome even for the King.” – Emily Dickinson
Ancient Celts used to light two bonfires. At one bonfires they believed the would purify themselves, as well as increase fertility in the world. At another bonfire they would pass cattle between them, and they belief they would would purify the cattle, and ensure the fertility of the herd. Although many modern Celtic doesn’t do the ritual, as you will see something similar that will encourage you to do some relevant practice.
Here is how you might like to do something close for Beltane (and there are a couple of videos that will show you Beltane being used in England), such as:
how about you use google for a photo of a maypole of (usually girl) children on the alter, and imagine it for five or ten minutes, and maybe use imagine yourself as part in it, or watching it close by. Here is a video of young children using a maypole in England: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncIAdeQGxoo
Do have something special for Beltane for yourself – have a liturgy or prayer, an altar, a meditation or imaginational time for a few minutes, or use the time in the forest or city park for a small time to celebrate this time of Beltane.
The next full moon starts on 27 February 2021 in the constellation of Leo the Lion in the south-east northern hemisphere. Here are a few ideas to make the full moon to make your different and enjoyable. Such as:
Sister Moon, Adapted Part of the Canticle: Liturgy
Moon Months Names (Liturgy or Poem)
Moon Bathing (Walking, Meditation, Saining etc)
Writing A Letter And Letting It Go
SISTER MOON: RITUAL: PART OF THE CANTICLE OF THE SUN BY FRANCIS (ADAPTED) This liturgy/poem may be used in its entirety, though some of it more slightly covers the full moon.
Oh Most High, All-Source, and Goodly-One, Great are your praises, your glories, and your blessings. All: Hail and welcome you.
As Brother Sun you give us the day, the light, and beautiful radiance. All: Hail and welcome you.
As Sister Moon you give us the Moon’s face who is gleaming, beloved and peaceful. In the firmament, as the full moon ‘rides’ the celestial circle, you bedazzle a myriad of luminaries – comets, planets, stars and galaxies, all beyond number. All: Hail and welcome you.
As Brother Wind you give us moderation of temperature and wind, and calmness and the moodiness of the currents ways. All: Hail and welcome you.
As Sister Water you give us moisture that is purposeful, that you bedew us, and fill us with sprinkling that is pure. All: Hail and welcome you.
Oh, Sister, Mother Earth, you supply the world and our nourishment anew, and with a magnificent panoply of flora and fauna. All: Hail and welcome you.
MOON MONTH NAME/S: POEM/RITUAL Here’s a poem/liturgy for the full moon for each month of the year. You can use the particular month’s moon that refers to the actual one month that refers to it, or you might like to say all twelve month’s verse and slowly use the appropriate month.
JANUARY The night air is still, Quiet Moon, and frost on the ground is strewn. Sounds are muted and all is at rest, Warmed we are, and so truly blessed. We remember you in our praise tonight, this betwixt, magical time of twilight.
FEBRUARY Moon of Ice, we greet you well, your smile charms us like a subtle spell. And, as upward we crane our necks to look, you write love-letters on our heart’s invisible book. As you look down upon us and see in us a reflection of the Immutable Three.
MARCH Open our hearts, our intellect and mind, and search our ways, so that in you we find, the reason for the smile on your face. It is the ‘Moon of Winds’ Creator’s grace. And, in gratitude and awe, we cry out, insatiably, for more.
APRIL We welcome you Growing Moon, whose face is carved like a sublime, ancient rune, to remind us to look above and beyond, to revere your light in that ancient pond, to honour with all, and with our soul, honour you, the One Behind It All.
MAY The Bright Moon is May’s delight, look kindly on Earth’s children tonight. May we be blessed forever to be, One with you, Eternal Three. That divisions here on Earth, may cease, as we celebrate this night as your timely feast.
JUNE We honour you, Moon of Mead, and lift up our heads, lift up our need, that in you, you will supply, our humble requests, hear our plaintive cry. That we might be blessed in your light, and revel in oneness this summer’s night.
JULY We celebrate midsummer, Oh Moon of Corn, that from darkness, you are now full-born. Around us mirth and joy is heard, You light the world by the Creator’s word. Teach us to listen and observe to nature’s wisdom, to love all, and all to serve.
AUGUST Welcome Barley Moon, a beaming light o’er the golden grain at night. Reflecting sun, giving food for our table, you hang there in a sky, in a sea the colour of sable. Your light now full, this month in size you grew. Dear bright moon, we welcome you.
SEPTEMBER Welcome Singing Moon, of mirth and merriment, of lovers’ poems, and words of lament. At the close of day, upward many look and think, and celebrate your beauty in song and drink. And then in silence and awe, we contemplate your beneficial, wholesome, tidal law.
OCTOBER Welcome Harvest Moon, new light reborn, keeping watch over the cultivated corn. As the temperatures fall and air begins to chill, as owl noises can be heard from dale and hill, so may we, in wonderment, pause and be still.
NOVEMBER Ah, Moon of Snow, we welcome you, yellow light in a sea of blue. Created by the One Behind It All, Arianrhod, by your name we call, you, once again, to be, and seek you, from incumbrance us free.
DECEMBER Cold Moon hanging in the darkened sky, your love, your power, your face forever shy. In awe we gaze upward, and and question, ‘why?’ Why should the Moon-Maker gift us, with your smile so beauteous? Cold Moon hanging in the darkened sky.
MOON BATHING (FULL MOON): WALKING, MEDITATION, SAINING, KATAPHATIC AND APOPHATIC SPIRITUALITY Moon bathing means basking yourself under the full moon – so that you can see the full moon, other you can’t see it, or that it is full somewhere close.
It fills you with positive energy, can boost you, rejuvenates you and creates you with new life changes. It can be used with meditation or with liminal ‘dream-like’ encounters.
So, the ‘direct’ method means immersing yourself into nice, warm water. The ‘indirect’ method means you can spend some time out of the house at the time of the full night and walk under it, or bask it in your house under a rug.
If walking under the night’s full moon it would be good to just gaze at it, or think or gaze deeply. Moonbeams are powerful. If done by your garden, you might have a nice wine or a nice cup of herbal tea – maybe echinacea, or nettle, or lavender, or camomile etc.
If walking in a bath or without using water but laying on a rug, you could mediate – if you are using a kind of liminal ‘dream-like’, Kataphatic encounter, then you might like to use a liminal adventure in a forest or beach at which the moon is present, and use its energies permeate yourself directly.
You might use a rose petals for the bath. Oh, our for laying under the rug you would might think of saining , or using one of those fragrance diffusers (with appropriate ‘oil’ diffusers such as with frankincense or myrrh).
Whatever you do, do be safe – if using water don’t use too much and not too hot, if you use a candle etc then be careful with yourself, with children or animals, and ensure fabrics.
If using a bath or if laying under a rug you might like to try a liminal ‘dreamless’ encounter. It’s best, then, to have a clock to encourage you to stop at ten or twenty minutes, and during that time you ask, think or look at ‘nothing’. This is called apophatic meditation or spirituality, and purposely seems of ‘nothing’ as the Source of All, as the Source of All is incomprehensible.
WRITING A LETTER AND LETTING IT GO At the time of the full moon is the best time to release to write. You could write a letter to yourself about the things you are worried about, or you might want to rid yourself of a habits, or add something about doing something positive. Or you might write a letter about someone who needs positive energy or similar, but the letter is never sent to them. I would suggest you write the letter on use water-solvable paper so it can be dissolved and not seen by anyone at the end of the event. Even a paper-shredder is usable. However, for safety-sake I wouldn’t encourage you burning the letter.
CONCLUSION I hope the few ideas mentioned here are useful to you, and I’d be pleased to see any ideas that you have used times at after times, showing me to then, please. In all cases intentionality is important. Do have a wonderful event this full moon event.
Blessings from Tadhg.
[The moon header photograph is copyrighted: All rights reserved, 2020, Pennie Ley (see here). Used with permission. Many thanks Pennie.]
This month’s February full moon is close. Don’t forget that many ancient civilisations had, and still have, the moon as a guide to their days and the change of seasons. And, the full month this month takes place on 27 February 2021 in the constellation of Leo the Lion in the south-east northern hemisphere.
“I am going to notice the lights of the earth, the sun and the moon and the stars, the lights of our candles as we march, the lights with which spring teases us, the light that is already present.” Anne Lamott
Moon names: The February’s moon is called by Celts and Druids as the Ice moon or the Snow moon.
Now, to the next (Full) moon to the Chinese people it may be the Budding moon; to the people of the Inuit peoples it is said to be the Seal Pup moon; the Storm moon as Wiccan; and the Horning moon of those who are Nordic.
Some call this moon (or full moon) as the Ash Moon or Ash Ogham Moon (as the Ogham Tree Ash covers 17 February to 18 March). But, not all of them.
Some might not use Ogham tree months as historically correct – but I often think it is still nice having Ogham ‘romantic’ months/trees/moons and having months allied to ecological trees. Others/most use January to December months, instead, and yet which includes a few despot Roman emperors. And Ogham/ecological trees are better… I think. What do you think?
It did occur to me, if there was any correlation between the Ash the month and to of recent day of Ash Wednesday on 17 February. Odd? I wonder?
For the February moon for those in the Southern Hemisphere the different names might be called: Grain Moon, Sturgeon Moon, Red Moon, Corn Moon, Dog Moon, Barley Moon. You might already have a Southern Hemisphere name already, but if you haven’t, then you might like to call one.
“With freedom, books, flowers, and the Moon, who could not be happy.” Oscar Wilde
(Scientific) Lunation: This moon is Lunation 1214.
Lunation 1, for those interested (for astronomers, astrologers, natural historians, myth etc) started at the first new moon in 17 January, 1923 by Ernest William Brown as a way of ‘figuring’ out the moon’s almanac to all. The next Lunation 1215 starts at the next new moon in March. So, the current moon, and the next full moon is now Lunation 1214.
“The moon looks upon many night flowers; the night flowers see but one moon.” Jean Ingelow
Myth: In Greek mythology, Leo is the lion near Nemea, part of Peloponnese, in Greece, that would terrorise the populace. Killing the lion was one of the Hercules twelve labourers. The lion’s death is placed in the constellation.
“Stay wild, moon child.” Riitta Klint
And more: The next may article cover ideas of what you might like to do as the next full moon eg liturgy or a few events.
You might, like me, have a liturgy you use each month – perhaps as a new moon, or like me you might like the monthly full moon. Here are words that can form as part of a liturgy or as a poem for the face’s moon. These words were used a year by me ago or so, and I like them to show the moon’s travail by us (as a full moon is due soon), but which can also be used for new moon words/liturgy soon after this liturgy/poem.
Not only do I like the moon because I am a Druidic-Christian (or as a Christo-Druid), and it fascinates me above the night’s sky, and as a poet it to meld words, but also as I am an amateur astronomer.
I hope this following liturgy/poem is useful to you.
Ah , The Kindly Face (Poem/Liturgy)
Ah, The kindly face.
The blessed Earth-maker moved and the Earth was split, rent asunder, and its twin was created, yes, the the Moon was formed. Blessed be the Moon-maker, who made this wonder, and who created its face to look down upon us.
Ah, the kindly face.
The crown of the moon is Oceanus Frigoris, a place ancient and old. A reminder that it is, indeed, the Sea of Cold, and, best seen in winter.
One eye is Oceanus Tranquillitatis, the Sea of Tranquility, or peace, where in July nineteen sixty-nine humankind first set foot on the moon in Apollo eleven. A fact to remember, in awe, as we gaze, upward, into the heaven[s].
The other eye is Mare Imbrium, the Sea of Rain. It is the larger of the two, so no need for eye-strain. But, on the day when it pours, and you choose to stay indoors, it may be the Moon to whom you should complain.
For, the moon controls the tides, and does impact upon our weather and part of the mouth on that face, Oceanus Procellarum, is the Sea of storms. And, as you and I look upward, together we now know.
But, there’s more, and no reason to quibble, for that mouth seems to dribble into Mare Humorum, the Sea of Moisture, to the south.
The blessed Earth-maker moved and the earth was split, rent asunder, and the the Moon was formed. Blessed be the Moon-maker, who made this wonder, and who created its face to look down upon us.
Ah, the kindly face.
And, as we look up, and wisdom seek, May we be a star in the (soon) waning Moon May we be a staff to the weak.1
The circle continues to turn. Imbolc, St Brigid’s Day, or Candlemas, as some call it, comes ever closer. Spring is in the air.
And with 2 February in mind, our thoughts turn to Brigid of Kildare. Brigid is viewed in differing ways, by different people. To some Brigid is an ancient Celtic goddess. The goddess of fire. Indeed, a sacred fire burned in Kildare in ancient time, as was kept burning by priestesses. In this way it was thought herds would be protected and harvests would be plentiful. To others, Brigid is a saint, and at the time of Candlemass, candles are blessed (and lit by some), and Brigid is remembered as one who symbolises motherhood, new birth, the springing forth of seeds and, in the recent past, some would bless (even) agricultural tools on that day. It’s spring (or nearly, so), after all.
Brigid was known for her hospitality. For the weary traveller no expense was spared by her.
Yes, you know I like stories, and here’s another about Brigid that I saw a few years ago.
On one occasion, going about her day, she came across some very tired, hungry and thirsty lepers. The plight of those dear people had already touched Brigid’s heart, and she made them as comfortable as she could. She ensured that they had had some food, but were thirsty.
One of those near to Brigid came to her and broke the bad news news: there was no beer for those thirsty lepers.
Brigid was deeply concerned, and it is said, immediately sprung into action. At the back of some nearby buildings she found an old bath, full of dirty bath water. She put her hand into the bathwater and blessed it. As the attendant drew off pints from that bath they found that it had changed! No longer dirty bath water, but the finest, freshest and coolest beer you could ever imagine, which was served to all.
The lepers and others were delighted, and had more than enough to drink, and there was plenty of beer left over.
You will have to forgive me – flippant only for a moment or two – but isn’t Brigid the kind of person you would like at all your parties?
I know sceptics may ridicule the bathwater-into-beer story, but there are some deep and profound truths ‘buried’ in it, if we take time to discover them. The need to be hospitable, and the joy in being so. The fact that we live in a world of abundance. The ‘power’ that one person has. That we use in a world of surprises; the Universe (God, the Elements, The Source of All) is friendly. The power in a blessing etc. All wonderful truths that are ‘unpacked’ in this unusual and delightful story about dear Brigid.
‘Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems’. Rainer Maria Rilke
Spring is close. However, you view Brigid, it may be good to give thanks for her example, for this season of rest, to look forward to the coming season of spring and the springing forth of plants etc, for growth, and perhaps to light a candle. Fire, however, you view dear Brigid, is a worthy symbol of her, and the lighting of a candle on her day a notable action to do.
The Ceremony Of The Night Of The Long Shadows To honour our ancestors at this time of Samhain
Friday, 30 October 2020 at 8pm (UK Time) Online Live-streaming via Tadhg’s FaceBook
For this ceremony you may need:
Three candles (though one may suffice)
One or more photographs of loved ones who have passed-on
Bowl of water
You might wish to use several photographs of many loved ones, or one photograph of one or two family-members that have passed-on, as representatives of all your ancestors. If taking such photographs to a physical ceremony do ensure you take only copies of the photograph/s to the ceremony, and not the original photographs. If participating at the ceremony at home, so display any photographs, safely.
The beginning/opening and closing/ending of this ceremony follows the usual style. The middle section is ‘the Work’, below, is especially about the honouring of ancestors, as it is Samhain.
This ceremony is will be broadcasted on Friday, 30 October 2020, at 8pm UK time, via livestream, Tadhg’s Facebook. Do check his facebook beforehand as it might be necessary for you to initiate a friends-link to view it, His link is at: https://www.facebook.com/tadhgjonathan.gardner
The Purpose Today we honour of ancestors at this time of Samhain. This is not to worship them, but to respect and honour them, and to remember them, too.
You might have one or two people in mind, today, who have passed on, recent ancestors; or you might have have ancestors from far back that you want to honour them by name or in general; in addition I would encourage you to also honour all ancestors of all times and space, who are the family of humankind in that realm and who are connected to us, and vice versa.
And so we will use this time to look back at that tree of life, to look at us, and to look ahead of those who are yet to come, who at one time, in the future, we also look back at us.
This ceremony may stir our emotions as we think of those whom we miss, but it is also about giving thanks for the life of our ancestors, those who are now in Bliss, and it is also about consoling each other and lifting each other up. Life continues in a different form.
And, so let us honour of our ancestors.
On Rising The Source of All is Spirit, and those who worship the Source of All must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24, The Book, paraphrase)
Calling The Quarters Calling the Quarters, as we turn in sequence to face the four cardinal compass points, helps us to become fully present so we can deeply connect to the world around us, and create safe and sacred space for us all.
Facing East Guardian of the East, Oh Ancient One of the air, we call upon the Spirit to be with us today. Come charge this circle with the power of the wind. All: We welcome you.
Facing South Guardian of the South, Oh Ancient One of the fire, we call upon the Spirit to be with us today. Come charge this circle with the power of the flame All: We welcome you.
Facing West Guardian of the West, Oh Ancient One of the waters, we call upon the Spirit to be with us today. Come charge this circle with the power of the tides. All: We welcome you.
Facing North Guardian of the North, Oh Ancient One of the earth, we call upon the Spirit to be with us today. Come charge this circle with the power of the land. All: We welcome you
From the centre, perhaps adopting the orans posture Guardian of all, Oh Ancient of Days, we call upon the Spirit to be with us today. Come charge this circle with your power. All: We welcome you.
Call For Peace The call for peace is an affirmation that there is peace amongst us, now; and that peace is offered to the world though not all embrace this, today, but one day will do so.
Is there peace in the East? All: There is peace in the East.
Is there peace in the South? All: There is peace in the South.
Is there peace in the West? All: There is peace in the West.
Is there peace in the North? All: There is peace in the North.
Throughout the entire land there is peace.
THE WORK: SPECIFCIALLY FOR SAMHAIN
It is said that if each generation is measured at about twenty-five years, and we have an idea in our mind of a five hundred span of time, then each of us has over two million ancestors. In thinking of our immediate ancestors or our family ancestors, do also think of the way that each one of us is connected to the global family of humankind.
The Three Form Honouring We look back, and remember and honour those who have gone before us. That is, those of our generation or the previous generations. We look at the love and actions that many ancestors made to bring us to this time and maturity, and we are indebted to them.
For some we might remember good things and send love, and yet for some we might remember those who have passed on but who were unkindly to us and others. Let us be honest in remembering our ancestors in Bliss.
And so, let us remember all our ancestors, too.
We remember and honour them. All: We remember and honour them.
[If you have one or more candles, do light one (or the only) candle here to remember and honour our ancestors. If you don’t have a candle, don’t worry, as I’ll light candle(s) vicariously, for you. We will also pause and meditation at this time.]
In the flow and ebb of life, we too stand in the tree of life. From our viewport we look back to those who have passed on. And, yet we look upward and ahead of those who are yet to come. Could it be that those future generations are looking back to us, and will, because of our love and action today, will honour you and I?
We remind and honour each other. All: We remind and honour each other.
[If you have two or more candles, do light the second candle here to remind ourselves or honour each other. If you don’t have a candle, don’t worry, as I’ll light candle(s) vicariously, for you. We will also pause and meditation at this time.]
We have looked back in honouring our ancestors, reminded each other of our part in that tree of life, but also look ahead for future generations. With expectation and love we send well-wishes to those who are yet to be born, even as they may be looking back from their viewpoint. We send love and well-wishes to those yet to come.
We think ahead and send love to those yet to come. All: We think ahead and send love to those yet to come.
[If you have a third candle, do light the third candle here to think ahead of those yet to come. If you don’t have a candle, don’t worry, as I’ll light candle(s) vicariously, for you. We will also pause and meditation at this time.]
“The sacrifice our ancestors gave yesterday Gave us today and our tomorrow” (Stephen Robert Kuta)
“My ancestors offer me bliss, love, and light. I gratefully receive that which is for my highest good…” (Amy Leigh Mercree)
Remembering Our Ancestors In A Spiritual Exercise Of Writing [If you have tissue paper and a pencil you might like to write a few happy memories to one or two ancestors on the tissue paper, or you might like to write a few lines as if writing a letter to some one or two that have passed on.
Or, you might like to write names on the paper.
Once you have done that, then pause for a moment as you meditate, and then put the paper in the bowl of water to dissolve the paper.
If you don’t have paper or pencil, you can use this time to think, in your mind, what you would write on the paper, and imagine using that bowl of water to dissolve that paper.
Music will be played, now, for about two minutes or three minutes, as you do this.}
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders [us]…And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1 part)
“You are the fairy tale told by your ancestors.” (Toba Beta)
“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” (Khalil Gibran)
As we close, we remember that Samhain is a time of liminality, a place of a special threshold; it is a ‘thin place’, a sacred time where we draw near to our ancestors. And yet, they are never far from us, and they live, forever, in Bliss.
This time is a reminder for all of us, that the Friend, the Universe, God, is embracing all who have gone before us, who is embracing us today, and who will embrace all of those who have yet to come.
“I am as sure as I live that nothing is so near to me as God. God is nearer to me that I am to myself; my existence depends on the nearness and the presence of God.” (Meister Eckhart)
Closing The Quarters Facing East Guardian of the East, Oh Ancient One of the air, we thank you for your presence with us today. All: We thank you.
Facing South Guardian of the South, Oh Ancient One of the fire, we thank you for your presence with us today. All: We thank you.
Facing West Guardian of the West, Oh Ancient One of the waters, we thank you for your presence with us today. All: We thank you.
Facing North Guardian of the North, Oh Ancient One of the earth, we thank you for your presence with us today.. All: We thank you.
From the centre, perhaps adopting the orans posture Guardian of all, Oh Ancient of Days, we thank you for your presence with us today.. All: We thank you.
Final Blessings We bless our ancestors, in Bliss, embraced by the Friend. We bless each other, our global family of humankind, secured by the Friend. We bless those yet to come who are known only to the Friend. And, We bless the Friend, the Universe, God who is always with us. Bless you each.
Samhain (pronounced ‘so-uhn’) is a wonderful festival ‘oozing’ with ancient Gaelic tradition and ‘magic’. Something you can participate in, wherever you are. It marks the end of the third harvest and the end of autumn, and it marks the advance of the season of winter. It is the start of the dark period, winter and the underworld, when our thoughts go to those whom we love who have passed-on.
‘Sometimes the veil between this life and the life beyond becomes very thin. Our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us.’ (Ezra Taft Benson)
It’s when, in rural communities, surplus cattle were culled, and their meat stored for the depths of winter.
It starts on the evening, at dusk, on Saturday, 31 October, but don’t forget that we’ll have a Facebook live-streaming event, a ceremony to celebrate the event, called Them Night Of Long Shadows, to honour the ancestors. More details about this will follow in a few days.
But, here’s some suggestions to whet your appetite, and to start thinking of Samhain. Samhain is a cross quarter day, indeed it’s the first of the year as it starts the Druid and ancient Celtic new year. It is a moon festival (as opposed to sun festivals, such as the solstices and equinoxes when time is measured by the sun’s elevation etc)
Winter advances: ‘ Since ancient times this time was seen as a feast of the dead, and the modern idea of Hallow’een ‘sits alongside’ it. Hallowe’en? The name comes from ‘all hallows eve’. When Christianity arrived in Celtic countries, and the church discouraged fortune-telling, and magic etc, a day of celebration of all the Saints of the Church was instituted on 1 November.
The wind is full of a thousand voices They pass by the bridge and me.’ (Loreena McKennitt, ‘All Souls Night’)
Many of our hallowe’en traditions, such as bobbing for apples which were originally part of the foretelling of the future, and the baking cakes containing “lucky tokens” also originated at this time, and survive to this day. In addition, and an import from America, it is a time for children (or all ages) to visit door-to-door dressed as something with a ‘deathly’ theme to it, to ‘trick or treat’.
A time to take stock Samhain, then, was a time when farmers would take stock of their animals – which would live, and which would be killed, and a time to finally gather in (any) residual harvest; a time when local and tradition rituals would be enacted eg bonfires, and embers of these would be taken home as a form of protection; young men would run around the villages boundary with torches, again, for the villagers’ protection, as that night, many believed that the veil between this world and the world of the dead was ‘thin’, and something might (or did) come through for a while. It’s a time for the imagination to run riot, and for stories to be told.
‘Somewhere in a hidden memory Images float before my eyes’. (Loreena McKennitt, ‘All Souls Night’)
Whether you believe this factually, ‘romantically’ or not at all, the stories of that night, retold around a bonfire, perhaps, intrigued men and women, and (no doubt) frightened (hopefully in a ‘nice’ sense) many a child. Even today, the tv ‘lights up’, innocently, with many horror movies at this time of year to keep adults ‘mesmerised’. It is a ‘thin place’, this time.
Taking stock? A ‘thinning’ of the veil between here and the other, ensures that this night, the evening of 31 October, is a feast, a celebration, a time of deep thought, a reflecting of the life of those that have gone before us.
Even in its simplest form – depending on your theology – it is a time to think about the ancestors, how they contributed to make us the person/people we are today, and to give thanks. A time to remember the ancestors in different, honouring ways. For me, reflection, thinking about the ancestors and the giving of gratitude to the Source of All predominates at this time.
Do something Others will indulge in ritual, and though each may have a different way to acknowledge this feast, I enjoy the variety, enthusiasm and intentionality that my Christian, Celtic Christian, co-Druids, Wiccan and other friends put into this festival. I have my own way, my own ritual to mark this time, and it may be that you do, too.
My advice to you is: Do it! Be honest to yourself, be sincere and intentional, be joyful about it, but in some way (large of small, complicated or simple) observe the time, and make it something good, and wholesome, and memorable.
Enjoy the feast A bonfire might be out of the question, but how about lighting a candle, at least for 10-20 minutes and thinking of your ancestors in a joyful and honouring way? They’re home. You might now be able to run around then edge of a village, but how about an evening walk, a silent walk of gratitude? Elementals? Here’s your opportunity to find our more about them – an evening when their activity is said to increase – and you can find a lot about them on the internet, but don’t make it only ‘book-learning’. Why not go for a county walk, or a walk in the park, or alongside a riverbank, and meditate in some way, to ‘day dream’ and reflect? And, then perhaps, later, treat yourself to a meal, a glass of wine, a warm coffee as you gaze at the cold night sky, and yes, even watch a good, scary movie?
Ofcourse, you might like a ritual of some sort or recite relevant poetry, or sing a song, and here’s a poem/song I penned some time ago. If you join the Facebook live-streaming event you might even hear me sing it.
The Circle is turning, autumn becomes winter.
The Circle is turning, autumn becomes winter.
The Circle is turning, autumn becomes winter. And nature sleeps, as the darkness falls.
The trees, they slumber. Deep roots are dreaming.
The trees, they slumber. Deep roots are dreaming.
The trees, they slumber. Deep roots are dreaming. I’m listening to the winter’s sacred rest.
The snow is falling, the earth is bless-éd.
The snow is falling, the earth is bless-éd.
The snow is falling, the earth is bless-éd. The hope of spring, ye-et to come.
The Circle is turning, (and) autumn becomes winter.
The Circle is turning, (and) autumn becomes winter.
The Circle is turning, (and) autumn becomes winter. And nature sleeps, as the darkness falls.
If you’re ‘brave’ enough to sing it, there’s a delightful melody (the tune of Fear a Bhata (The Boatman), a traditional Gaelic piece of music to accompany you)), but if you want to hear me sing it, just join me for that Live-streaming Night of Long Shadows Ceremony – details soon.
Or, you might like to read (and recite) Rabbie Burns’ poem ‘Hallowe’en’, part of which is:
Upon that night, when fairies light On Cassilis Downans dance, Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze, On sprightly coursers prance; Or for Colean the rout is ta’en, Beneath the moon’s pale beams; There, up the Cove, to stray an’ rove, Amang the rocks and streams To sport that night;
And, finally, you might like to recite the following traditional Scottish prayer:
From ghoulies and ghosties And long-leggedy beasties And things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us
However you celebrate it, do make it something spectacular and memorable. More about Samhain will appear here, as we think about The Long Of Night Shadows event, denials how to view it, and to print out a liturgy if you wish to participate.
‘Water, water everywhere…’. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
From the beginning of this month we moved, ritually, into the season of autumn (from a northern hemisphere viewpoint). Lughnasadh (1 August, though some opinions may differ by a few days) was the first day of the season.
That date was also the festival of the first harvest (wheat, barley etc), and half way through this season is Alban Elfed or Autumn Equinox (22 September) which is the time of the second harvest (soft fruits etc), culminating in Samhain (31 October), which is the third harvest of the season (of berries and nuts).
But, there’s more.
For the season of autumn the compass, cardinal point is west; and the predominating element is water; and water is the theme of this short article.
’We live on a blue planet that circles around a ball of fire next to a moon that moves the sea, and you don’t believe in miracles?’. Anonymous
In our groves, faith groups or solo rituals and practices, it is good to be reminded, especially in this water-orientated season, of this precious liquid. It is a necessity for life, is the object of our gratitude for it, and the source of our sheer wonderment that it occurs on this planet, and in such abundance – this is surely the ‘blue planet’.
Water is sacred.
It can teach us about Life and it can teach us about life (note the capital L and lower case use of the letter – to denote Life in all its mystery, and life in the ‘small things’ of our daily life), or is there no real division?
‘Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.’ Lao Tzu
In our rituals we might spend some time pouring some water from a jug into a bowl, and meditating of the wonder of water. Or, we might pour water into a cup, at some point during our ceremonies, to sip ad savour cold water, and meditate upon it. Or we might pour some out onto the garden (or window box or potted plant) as a libation – a sacred ‘thank offering’ to the Great Water Giver.
’A drop of water, if it could write out its own history, would explain the universe to us.’ – Lucy Larcom
Whatever you do, be encouraged to do one, or more things, water orientated in this ‘water’ season. If you’re fortunate to have rain (in these exceptionally hot and dry days), wrap up safely, grab a raincoat and/or umbrella and go for a walk – all the time appreciating the cool rain, and maybe, purposely getting wet to enjoy the moment. Even more reason to give gratitude.
’All water is holy water.’ Rajiv Joseph
In our liturgy – the spoken parts of our ceremonies – you might find the following poem (or is it a prayer of gratitude) penned by me a few years ago, useful, as part of the ritual.
But, there’s (even) more.
In our very being, the ‘exterior’ composed mainly of water, and in our spirit and soul, as well as our bodies, we are intrinsically connected to water, in actuality as well as a metaphor, of life in all its sacredness.
The vast oceans, that which sustains life on Earth,
which move at the behest of the moon,
the rolling tides that contains a myriad of sea-life, from plankton to the behemoth,
that which quenches the world’s need,
and from which all nourishment is assured,
acknowledgement is given.
From clouds you pour out rain upon the Earth, and enrich it.
Mighty lakes appear from which ancient forests of growing trees are fed,
and daily bread is produced for our table.
An abundance for many,
and a veritable gift from the Great Water-Giver.
It soothes and it heals.
For when an angel’s wing sweeps
across the surface of the Pool,
then healing takes place, and there is restoration.
It’s cleansing power, daily, washes the body,
and restores vitality.
A clean start. A refreshing start. A new start.
All is washed away.
And, in it celebration commences,
in appreciation, in sport, in swimming and in children’s’ play.
It quenches the soul, it nurtures the spirit;
and from those who are aware,
springs of sanctifying water flow,
and outward pour,
to friends, to enemies,
to those near, and to those far away.
Whether we have much, or little,
may the words, “Come, all. Drink. Share”, be on our lips.
Praise to the Great Water-Giver.
Note: Apologies for the wrong symbol for water used in the ‘header’ photo. The triangle should, infact, be pointing down to represent water in the four classical symbols. Pointing up represents air. Mea culpa!