Essential Celt: Even Before We’re Born The Journey Begins….

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Here’s a thought: Ancient Celts and other early tribes and spiritualties had a very different perspective about time, life and death than we have. They saw the world in a totally different way. More unified, whereas we see it in a dualistic way. More harmonious, whereas we analyse it in various ‘departments’. More connected, whereas we regard it as separate from us, and so on.

But, what about the life and death of the individual? What about the march of time?

There is a wealth of literature about life after death in the world. And lots, about life before birth  to be found in the Eastern world and very ancient religions and spiritualties, Islam, for instance; there is, sadly, a paucity of such information and understanding  in the West.

And, yet, living ‘in time’, whether we view this as real (for now) and/or an illusion, we are ‘wired up’ to think of ‘before’, ‘now’ and ‘after’ in one long time-line, it seems.

If you came out of somewhere, then you had to be somewhere before you came…As well as having an ‘afterwards’, every person has a ‘before…Each of us comes from somewhere more ancient than any family’. ‘ John O’Donohue

So, here are a few thoughts to ponder upon. Nothing dogmatic. Just a few thoughts for you to mull over, from a different perspective, perhaps from an ancient Celtic viewpoint? Not advocating the thought of re-incarnation with its multiple births and multiple deaths, but rather, suggesting a ‘what if’ scenario: what if we have lived before birth? Pre-life!

‘Dans la nature rien ne se crée, rien ne se perd, tout change. In nature nothing is created, nothing is lost, everything changes.’.  Antoine Lavoisier.

The abovementioned phrase is an interesting one, and one that many subscribe to, and in a scientific manner many draw assurance from it that life goes on after death, albeit in a different form.

But, if nothing is lost and is merely transformed, why should that process only start after our demise here? Taking that phrase at face value almost demands that we consider the process to have already started before our birth here, and part of the transformation process is what actually brought us here.

According to the Talmud, it’s written, that even before we’re born, just before we’re conceived, infact, and before we find ourselves in the comfort of the womb, we had some sort of pre-life. Our own personal angel, perhaps our guardian angel instructed us in all that is to take place, and actually teaches us all the wisdom we will ever need to know on the Earth. And then, just before we move into this realm of time…the angel purses its lips, raises its index finger to its lips in a kind of teacherly hush gesture, and then moves that finger to our lips, just under our noses. Hush! And, everything the angel taught us is immediately forgotten. And, then we move into this world of time. And, that is how, it is said, each one of us receive that small indentation in the skin beneath our noses which is just above the centre of our top lip, which is known as the philtrum.

‘Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.’

William Wordsworth

Could it be, then, that we have lived before being born here, and lived in a timeless, eternal realm of the spirit? A wonderful place – a place of wonder! And then, for some reason we seemingly left it to enter this world of time, for a period of physical life, only to return to that timeless realm upon our demise here?

Ofcourse, if that is so, then perhaps, the idea of leaving that timeless realm to come here, is an illusion. For, though we hopefully will spend many decades here, in that timeless realm of our origin we are absent (literally) no time at all. Many years here, for instance,  would be the blink of an eye, there. It would be no time at all – how could it be anything other, in that realm of no-time? And so, perhaps, we never left! But it only seems so, from this ‘world of time’ perspective.

‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born…’ Jeremiah 1.5a, The Book

And then, if we never left…and this does, I admit, sound strange, then those who came before us, and those who are yet to come are in that timeless realm, now, and, this is where it gets even stranger, so are we. Now.

From our viewpoint:  Birth into time. Departure. The Afterlife.

Or

In actuality: Pre-life, forgetting, a (seeming) birth into time (also), a seeming departure, a seeming return…but we never really left. We just think we did.

However, I am not suggesting that life ‘in time’ is a dream-like illusion. I believe it is real, and being here is necessary, and what we do here is important. It’s just that for this ‘time’ we are in two places at once, and as one of those realms is the realm of ‘no time’, this is could be said to be entirely reasonable to believe. (But, if you want to imagine that our life here, in actuality, is compressed into a nano-second, and that we’re absent for a nan-second from that eternal realm’s point of view, and then return to that realm, that works, too).

There is a ‘story about a little girl who wanted time alone with her infant brother. Her parents were suspicious of her motives. What if she did something to harm the baby? The big sister was so persistent that her mom and dad finally decided to allow her ten minutes alone with him in his room. After they closed the door, they listened quietly. They felt chills when they heard their daughter say, ‘Baby, tell me what heaven is like. I’m starting to forget.”

I find all this tremendously reassuring. Birth then is a welcoming of an old ‘new’ soul, and ofcourse to be celebrated. Wet the babies head who may be a few weeks old, but in a real sense he/she is a fellow timeless traveller of an awesome heavenly origin. Death, like that seeming departure from that eternal realm into this one, and then the return back home, is then, a wonderful transformation of state, a very real continuation. It’s a going home (that we never really left, but the ‘scales fall from our understanding’). Will you see your loved-ones again. Yes, when you get there. But, then (in that timeless realm) you’re already there, maybe having a wonderfully long, joyous conversation with your lived ones, right now. But, as you’re ‘in time’ you just don’t know it – from this ‘in time’ viewpoint.

Ofcourse, you may not agree with any of this. And as a (Celtic) Christian, Druid, Pagan, Light-Worker etc, you may have your own views. As I said, I don’t intend to be dogmatic, but as a fellow-traveller I would value your views and input. So, what do you think?

‘Time is not a thing that passes … it’s a sea on which you float’. Margaret Atwood.

Celtic OrthoPraxis: ‘Deep Listening’ Or ‘What I’ve Learned In The Last Two Days’.

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The last couple of days have been an emotional roller-coaster ride, and have been somewhat of a jolt to my life and lifestyle. With the passing-on of a good friend, to an emergency ambulance call, yesterday, and a seven hour visit to hospital with an ill, close family member, whilst tests were done (and everything is okay, but), it’s been a time of listening intently to others, taking time to ‘be’ with them, and giving them encouragement.

It’s also been a time when others have ministered to me – because, that’s what it is. Ministry. Over the last few days I have been touched by the prayers, good-thoughts, ‘directed-energy’, well-wishes sent, and rituals conducted by Christians, Druids, Pagans, Light-Workers and others. All, in their own way have buoyed up my spirit, and whose efforts have been greatly appreciated by me. I am all the richer because of these loving people, who listened and responded. Grace be to you.

‘The task now is to slow down enough, and be present enough to enter each moment  that calls’. Seven Thousand Ways To Listen, Mark Nepo

I’ve read various differing theologies on the internet, over the years and umpteen books, about what to say when someone needs you, really needs you. In some cases I’ve ignored the advice, because people who are ailing don’t want theology, don’t need a four-point sermon or talk, and don’t want as easy answer to a complex issue which may have no easy answer, or maybe have no discernable answer at all! They want me! They want you. Your time, your being with them, your soul-to-soul contact, and sometimes that doesnt even have to include words. Just being there is sufficient.

But, being there and listening is the answer. It connotes something. It may not be easy to do – real listening. We live in a world that likes to measure outcomes, and not to do so, may mean….well, that nothing has been accomplished. But, deep listening is needed, vital, and does have unmeasured, and immeasurable outcomes.

‘You can practice deep listening in order to relieve the suffering in us, and in the other  person. That kind of listening is described as compassionate listening. You listen only for  the purpose of relieving suffering in the other person.’ Thich Nhat Hanh

Listening with the mind, generally, then, is a surface level understanding and response. The kind where, when we’re not so well, someone might say, ‘Yes, I know what you mean’, to you. And, inwardly you’re thinking, ‘You can’t possibly understand, because you’re not me!’. It’s well-meaning, and a start. But, it only goes so far.

Listening with the heart, generally, then, is a more honest approach and a deeper approach. The kind where, when we’re not well, someone might say, ‘Yes, I’m trying to understand, but….’. Then, you feel a closeness, a warmth, and some benefit.

Listening with the spirit, is the closest, most loving, and the most beneficial approach of these three, I believe. When we’re ill, someone might say, ‘I’m here….’, and say little else, or they may say nothing at all, but take your hand and look you in the eye, and be with you in the silence. And, then you know, you really know that you have been inwardly touched – a soul to soul closeness. And, this is the most beneficial of all.

‘Deep Listening is listening in every possible way to everything possible to hear no  matter what you are doing. Such intense listening includes the sounds of daily life, of  nature, or one’s own thoughts as well as musical sounds. Deep Listening represents a  heightened state of awareness and connects to all that there is.’ Pauline Oliveros

Listening – and I’m also writing to myself to put it into some form, what has happened to me over the last two days, as much as to anyone else –  isn’t just using our ears. It’s about ‘tuning’ into what is happening around us, to people around us, to what is really happening at a deeper level – perhaps best described as peaking at ‘what is happening beyond the veil’, that which is invisible to our eyes, inaudible to our ears, but is oh-so real. So real is deep listening, it is beyond words. What do you think?

 

In Memory Of Jimmy

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Today it feels as though the ‘wind has been knocked out of my sails’. My dear, dear friend, known to many simply as ‘Jimmy’ passed on, yesterday. I found out this morning, and am in shock.

Jimmy, probably stood at just under five feet, was slightly built, built like a horse-jockey. In the times we worked together – he was a volunteer, and had been so for about seventeen years before I got there –  he would recount stories to me of him ‘wrestling’ with six-footers, of putting the world to right, and dialogues of what he had said to others or would have said, and he would also spend some time ‘bending my ear’, at least initially. But, I’m a patient guy.  He was a stickler for routine  – it was the way he coped; he was pedantic to the minutiae – it was the way he showed his love; and he gave – he was a great volunteer to the poor and needy in this area. He had a heart of gold.

As I got to know him, I understood more of the ‘battles’ he had endured, and still faced each week. The word  that epitomised Jimmy was ‘hero’. Even after leaving the post where I had been employed, we kept in touch,  and we would meet up every two or three weeks for coffee. If I was lax and wasn’t quick in contacting him to arrange a rendezvous, I’d get a late evening text, saying, ‘Are you free for coffee, maty’. Yes, Jimmy’s spelling was atracious and he could never find the question-mark button on his mobile phone. His misspelt texts always made me laugh. And, I liked being called ‘maty’ by him, his mate. He just wanted someone to listen to him – and I did just that. Isn’t that what we all want?

We’d meet in the cafe in Wandsworth. He would get there early, to pay for my coffee, and so next time I’d get there twenty minutes earlier (with a good book to read, to bide the time) to ensure I was already in place to pay for his coffee….except he pre-empted this, and got there even earlier to buy me a coffee.

We would talk and talk, and talk some more. He was an interesting man, and would always conclude our cafe-meets with a hearty hand-shake, and  with the words, ‘Give my regards to your Dad, and bring him along next time!’. I liked that a lot. He cared. Each time I left him, after our cafe-meets, I learned more and more about him, about the real Jimmy.

And now he’s gone. Passed on.

He suffered a massive heart attack yesterday, during the night. He was 42yo. I can imagine him, having been taken to the After-Life by angel-wing, giving God a tough time in Heaven. I miss this dear man, who became a good friend, and so will all fellow-volunteers where he worked, and all those whom he lovingly served, locally. He was one of the most altruistic people I knew. A great man.

[There is no Christian, Druid, Celtic, pagan or light-worker message to this post, today, but I am posting it on various sites -as I would normally do, places frequented by the aforementioned friends, in the hope that (depending on your theology) you would bless and pray (send good-thoughts, energy etc) for Jimmy, to his mother, wider family and his friends, please, who miss him sorely.]