Celtic Lifestyle: EarthGrief: An Introduction

20170529 EARTHGRIEF AN INTRODUCTIONWhatever we attach ourselves to, will cause us give ourselves fully in love, and the more attached we do that, the more we will experience grief one day. I don’t want to sound negative or morbid, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t give ourselves to another – of course not. After all that’s part of what it is to be human and alive, and what it means essentially to live in the present.

But, grief is a fact of life.

In the book, ‘The Wild Edge Of Sorrow’, the author, Francis Weller writes about five ‘gates’ of grief. ‘Each of these doorways leads to the communal hall of grief, and each helps us to understand the many ways that loss touches our hearts and souls…’.

One of these ‘gates’ opens when we acknowledge the losses of the world around us.

As a Druidic-Christian, and knowing other Celtic Christians, Druid and pagan friends (and others), there is a painful realisation that the world is reeling in agony at the unlimited effect of rampant commercialism.

‘What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.’  Mahatma Gandhi

Which one of us hasn’t prayed a prayer or conducted a ritual for some part of the world’s geographical environment, diminishing rain-forest or endangered animals?

We are affected. Our psyche feels this devastation because the greater part of our psyche lies outside of our body: the body does not live in the psyche, rather, we live within the psyche. And, everything is connected because everything possesses a soul. This earth-connection is the anima mundi (the soul of the world). This devastation of the planet is known, by some, as EarthGrief.

‘A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.’ Franklin D. Roosevelt

It’s not that we witness, say the destruction of a forest, and feel sorrow at it as if from some distance, but in being connected we are hurt, too! If we don’t feel that hurt, then it may be a case of our perceived great separation from the planet – nature deficit disorder.

We are connected in essence; but we may perceive ourselves as separate. We are hurt because of it; but we may not be aware of that hurt. Because we’re unaware, EarthGrief continues.

‘I love to think that animals and humans, and plants, and fishes, and trees, and stars and the moon are all connected.’ Gloria Vanderbilt

It’s not a case of wanting to make you feel dreadful, of causing a sense of guilt, or of putting you (or myself) in a position where we throw our hands up in the air and forlornly cry out, ‘I can’t make a difference, can I?’.

Perhaps, initially, it’s a case of giving the term a name: EarthGrief.
And, then perhaps, it’s a case of acknowledging, in ritual, the sense of loss because of EarthGrief. There are a myriad of other things we can do, but those two make for a good start.

Francis Weller writes, ‘There is a ritual that my community does annually called Renewing The World…[It] lass three days, and we begin with a funeral to acknowledge all that is leaving this world. We build a pyre, and then together we name and place onto the fire what we have lost…The first time I did this ritual, I was planning on drumming and holding the space for others. I made an invocation to the Sacred…

Francis Weller goes on to describe the sense of grief that they all felt in that ritual and which, physically, pulled their bodies onto their knees, as many people sobbed.

It wasn’t a case of morbidity or an over-indulgence in grief, for griefs-sake on their part, but an admission of real connectivity, of  EarthGrief, and a growing awareness that it need not be this way. 

Chellis Glendinning says we are born ‘as stone age children’. We enter the world, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, as people ‘designed for’ and connected to nature, and this state he calls the primal matrix. However, what was once a seamless flow into a connected world has become a perceived breach: we are still connected in essence, but we just don’t know it, and act accordingly.

‘O most honoured Greening Force,
You who roots in the Sun;
You who lights up, in shining serenity, within a wheel
that earthly excellence fails to comprehend.
You are enfolded
in the weaving of divine mysteries.
You redden like the dawn
and you burn: flame of the Sun.’ Hildegard of Bingen,

But, now we know. And, that’s a good start. Firstly, to give this plight a name, and secondly, to perform our own solo and/or collective Renewing Of The Earth ritual.

It’s a start!

Remember Manchester. Tadhg’s Journal & A Call!

20170523 Remember Manchester JOURNALRemember Manchester.

Today is one of those days when I feel ‘flat’ and want to write little. Do you experience that kind of energy-less, kick -in-the-pit-of-the-stomach feeling, that lethargy at the arrival of sad news?

Today I’m thinking of all those innocent people in Manchester last evening: men and women, and dear children out enjoying themselves, laughing and joking, enjoying life, and someone then cuts short his life, and takes more than twenty people with him.

So sad.

And, what about the grieving family and friends? Today, parents will be without their children, children without parents, and so it goes on. Loss.

Remember Manchester.

Unfortunately, that kind of atrocity has gone on since time began, and it happens in other parts of the world. That doesn’t make it easier, though, for those grieving today.

What should our reaction be?

Hate? Revenge? Kill the murderers and snuff out one life before he, or she, takes many? Impose curfews. Dehumanise migrants? Arm citizens? Build a wall (physical or psychological)? Give into fear? To do any of that gives in to those who value life so little. To do any of that makes us no better than the murderer(s). To do that…gives in.

Perhaps our first thoughts should be with the grieving, and to remember them. To send them light, positivity, power and our prayers. Yes, them, first. Is that something we can do – I sincerely ask my Light-worker friends, Celtic Christians, Druids and others. Isn’t it times like this that ‘tribal names’ and distances between us mean little, and love and common humanity means much more? Yes.

Remember Manchester.

Our second thought? To go that one step extra, and show love. Not only love to the lovely, those like ‘us’, and those of our ‘tribe’ in our daily lives, but those others that some deem unlovely and different. Yes, it has to be love for all.

If bad or evil can be represented by darkness, it is not overcome with (more) darkness. Only light overcomes darkness, and the ‘weapons’ of light are wholly different to those of darkness.

‘The most precious light is the one that visits you in your darkest hour!’  Mehmet Murat ildan

The clouds may be hanging over that darkened city now, and for now in your rituals, and prayers and actions, I would ask you please: send light to Manchester. Please….

Remember Manchester.

 

Ideas, Liturgy & Ritual For The Celtic Month Of The Hawthorn Tree

201705012 IDEAS LITURGY RITUAL FOR THE MONTH OF THE HAWTHORN TREESaturday, 13 May 2017 sees the start of the new month, the Celtic month of the Hawthorn Tree, and it’s a great time to celebrate. 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 evening, but for me, this time, it’s Saturday evening. You get to choose. And some depending on what they’re doing are celebrating over the whole weekend. So, why not you?

Essential Data: Celtic Month of the Hawthorn Tree: 13 May – 9 June. Celtic /Gaelic Name: Huathe (pronounced ‘oo-ah-huh’).

I’m sure you have some great ideas for celebrating the new month, but if you haven’t, or if you wish to add something different, do consider the following ideas, liturgy and ritual (as suggestions, and adapt as best suits your requirements).

This new month, now officially summer (in the northern hemisphere) is about power, spiritual growth, God-given sexuality (apologies to the ‘children of Augustine’), and God-blessed fertility. To ancient Celts, Christian Celts, Druids, Pagans and others it was a great time for hand-fasting, engagements, marriages and the starting any kind of creative activity (eg new work, new projects, new hobbies, new starts etc), and to latter-day ones, it still is!

My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Behold, he is standing behind our wall,
Song of Solomon 2.9a, The Book

IIDEA1DEAS
Why, to celebrate this new month, you might like to:

  • undertake anew hobby (you know you’ve always wanted to do [insert here the positive hobby, pastime etc- take up a sport (or lose weight (for yourself, if you wish, and not because of media or societal ‘pressure’, or indeed put on weight)
  • make a definite time and date to visit a local art gallery or museum (and take in the creativity of others, and appreciate great art), or go to a jazz band evening (or equivalent)
  • give yourself quality time by visiting a park or one of those ornate gardens (or even a forest), and why not go with family and/or friends and make it into a picnic too, and appreciate good company and being in the midst of nature
  • slow down and choose one task that you do, dare I say an everyday task, such as drinking tea, cleaning the toilet or washing your face, and so it slowly, joyfully and with awareness, as a holy act of serving
  • watch an eco-conscious movie or documentary on tv (one evening or anytime if you’re unable to leave the house easily)
  • make a donation to a woodland-orientated charity, or an animal charity for threatened species etc if able to, and/or send a blessing.

IDEA2LITURGY
You might like to take some time to use (and/or adapt) some of the following liturgy and poems to celebrate the new month, and take time to savour the turning of the wheel in everyday life and ‘mundane’ tasks.

I will wash my face
in the nine rays of the sun,
As Mary washed her Son
in rich fermented milk.
Love be in my countenance,
benevolence in my mind,
dew of honey in my tongue,
(and) my breath as the incense.

[From: Carmina Gadelica]

And/or

God, we are truly bearers of the light from above, within and around us. Help us to be bearers of that light to others who seek a vision of the goodness and beauty of Your Creation. We ask that you help us and our creative work to be witnesses to your love, your kindness, and your care for us. Continue to inspire us with the gift of your imagination. Amen.

[Grace Episcopal Church, Paris, TN (USA))

 And/or
Today as the new month begins
I hope for (you) wonderful things
That a new page is turning
And fresh times will come
I wonder what this month will bring.

I pray for (your) days to feel bright
For (your) sleep to be sweet in the night
For (your) health to be full
And (your) dreams to come true
May your/my heart feel happy and light.

Used with the permission of Prayerscapes

IDEA3RITUAL
If you’re a ‘solitary’, or finding yourself alone at the beginning of this new month, here’s an idea of celebrating this month of creativity and new starts in a simple and profound way. Such as:

  • Initially, draw aside and find a space where you won’t be disturbed (for a short time, perhaps half an hour or so).
  • Perhaps darken the room, make yourself comfortable by sitting on the floor (a cushion might be a good idea, too), and enter into sacred space, and so, after a few minutes…
  • light a small candle
  • close your eyes and ‘centre’ yourself (by not dwelling on extraneous thoughts, and by breathing slowly and deeply (and perhaps concentrating on your inhalations. Some, at least for the first minute or so like to ‘focus’ on a single abstract word (like love, or grace, or peace)), but only for a short while
  • for the next few breaths (and, don’t count them, because you’ll ‘jump out’ of sacred space), say the word of one thing creative act, project or achievement that you’re grateful for as you exhale, and as you exhale that spoken word imagine it as ‘energy’ going out to the Universe, the Source, God with gratitude, and then after a few minutes…
  • for the next few breaths (and, don’t count them, as it doesn’t need to be precise), imagine that you’re inhaling energy, positivity and creativity from The Universe, the Source, as a metaphor of ‘topping up’ and increasing your creative energy (and you might even want to speak the word ‘increase’ or similar), and then after a few minutes…
  • for the next few breaths, as you exhale, say the name of one person (or two or so in following exhalations, but don’t rush anything) that you would like to send some of that creative energy onto, so that they might benefit, and then after a few minutes…
  • spend a short time just being still, and then slowly open your eyes, perhaps say a word or two (or three) to close this sacred time/sacred space (such as ‘Amen’, ‘So be it’ or similar), and then,
  • extinguish the candle. It’s a good idea to wait another minute or so, to fully enter into the physical realm again, as there’s no rush, and the longer you linger, the more you spend in that blessed.

An after thought: Don’t worry or be concerned about giving away some of that creative energy, as I do believe that life is about sharing, and whatever energy and blessings(s) you give out will come back to you and in abundance.

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

So, enjoy this new month of the Hawthorn Tree, and blessings to you and those whom you love, Tadhg

 201705012 IDEAS LITURGY RITUAL FOR THE MONTH OF THE HAWTHORN TREE

Power-Blessings 104: Mutual Support…In That Field Beyond: [4/4]

20170505 MUTUAL SUPPORT 4OF4 BLESSINGWe’re all different. We live in a world were the rights of the individual and individualism are writ large. And, though we enjoy many freedoms because of it – or am I just believing that because, like you, I was born into such a time as this – it can be rather solitary as an ‘aware person’, a mystic-Christian, a Druid, a hedge-witch, an ‘edge-walker’, or however you and I describe ourselves.

‘Be different. Be original. Nobody will remember a specific flower in a garden filled with thousands of the same yellow flower, but they will remember the one that managed to change its colour to purple.’  Suzy Kassem

At the end of this week of looking at Power-Blessings, we now turn our attention to looking at encouragement and, indeed, further encouragement to maintain, grow and advance the good work that we have been ‘called’ to do; to explore mutual support; to take it all one step further.

It would be easy to list good books, links to other websites and talk about ‘how to do…’ this or that, but I won’t. Each person reading this will be different, maybe so different (and that is a blessing) as to render all that irrelevant. But, it is important, I think, to share good practice (even if it is a different ethos or way of working to our own personal approach) because then we can learn from each other and adapt what we share to serve our local purposes.

‘Those who love peace must learn to organise as effectively as those who love war.’ Martin Luther King Jr.

A loose organisation, at least (unless you’re already part of one of the many, useful, groups of the internet that do provide support to ‘aware persons’,  mystic-Christians,  Druids, hedge-witches, ‘edge-walkers’ etc) may be beneficial. If you’re not part of such group, and I do recommend joining at least one that is closest to your work, then I’d like to hear from you. It’s all about mutual support – even if it’s a periodic email…but I’d suggest there’s more we can do.

‘Make connections; let rip; and dance where you can.’ Annie Dillard

Annie Dillard writes about Holy the Firm, in her book of the same name, and describes it as  substance that medieval alchemists and mystics etc were interested in. It’s a substance, they thought below earth, minerals, salts, and it acts as a bridge between the material and the spiritual world. Opinions vary as to whether it is a purely physical substance or a spiritual one, as it is between both! Perhaps, the thrill is in not knowing, and accepting it as ‘and/both’ (rather than our scientific age’s obsession with ‘and/or’). It’s like a sacred gap!

The late Thomas Merton (a Trappist monk), Cynthia Bourgeault (an Episcopal priest, teacher, author and retreat leader) and others talk of ‘le point vierge’ (‘the virgin point’, though it  sounds better in French, and is usually referred to in French). They describe it as the point, deep within each of us, were we can meet the Source of All in a real, and experiential, and experimental way; beyond pictures, beyond ideas and without metaphors intimately….in the post-ritual-activity stillness..’. It’s like a sacred ‘nothingness’; that is, no thing!.

This idea is taken up by Rumi, and precedes the above mentioned by many centuries. He wrote, ‘Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass [even] the world is too full to talk about.’ It’s like a  sacred beyondness.

‘An important part of response to divine love, once it has been received, is to pass it on to our neighbour in a way that is appropriate in the present moment.’  Thomas Keating (Trappist monk)

So, how can we assist each other, encouraged each other  and grow, mature and advance our work. I’d suggest:

  • we share best practice by email, and
  • we support each other by meeting with like-minded people (and I’m currently thinking of what I can do with this idea, so do keep reading the articles here over the course of this month as ideas and events are formed and planned, and
  • we can energise each other, perhaps by setting aside, a time each month (maybe part of a ritual, or indeed the whole of a ritual) to think of each other, specifically, and to send positive energy, well-wishes, power-blessings, light etc to each other…but intentionally, named, visualised, specific.

What do you think of this, as a initial practice?

In thinking about that last idea and developing it here, in the work that I do, I want to set aside time just for you! Whether we call that space place between the physical and spiritual realm by the name ‘Holy, the Firm’, or as ‘le point vierge’ or as a celestial field far beyond our ideas of right and wrong…or as the Caim (my term and practice, here, for entering that ‘gap’, liminal space, sacred space etc).

‘Life is a full circle, widening until it joins the circle motions of the infinite.’  Anaïs Nin

In essence a Caim ritual is about forming a circle (or think of an energy bubble in your mind’s eye), visualising the harvesting of celestial energy, moulding it, and sending it, and being prepared for reciprocity, and the latter is a moving into that still-point, le point vierge etc). Ofcourse, it’s more than that (but, if you’re interested in the idea of finding out about a (simple) Caim, please see here and here).

So, I’m resolved to perform a Caim each new moon for you!

But, to make it personal and meaningful I’ll do that (only) if you email me and ask me to do so, and in so doing I’d ask for you do to similar for me. Ofcourse, your background, ‘tribe’ and beliefs will be different to mine, and therefore any ritual you do may be very different to mine…but I don’t think that matters. Infact, I’d expect that, and see it as a blessing of our ‘kaleidoscopic’ diversity and intentionality.

So, are you up for it? (If so, just email me, so that everything is confidential, and will be kept confidential. Email: tadhg@tadhg.cymru

Whether or not you do….you still have my gratitude on getting this far with this article, and receive a blessing from me right now to empower you (even more so) in the good things that you are doing.

‘I am a living member of the great family of all souls; and I cannot improve or suffer myself, without diffusing good or evil around me through an ever-enlarging sphere. I belong to this family. I am bound to it by vital bonds.’ William Ellery Channing

 

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.

Celtic Thought: When Life Is A ‘Storm’

20170228-when-life-is-a-storm-1-celtic-thoughtAs we’re still in the season of spring, the cardinal point is east, and for latter-day Christian Celts, Celts and druids (and others who are aware) the primary element is air or wind.

An, for me, the latter is apt.

As many of you will know, my Dad was rushed into hospital recently – and, it feels as though I’ve been hit by a tornado, or buffeted about like a sail boat on a wind-tossed sea. Of course, it has been much worse for my 91 yo Dad (but the good news is, he is well on the road to recovery, and each day is getting stronger, and it is hoped he’ll be home within a few days).

Life, especially over the last week, then, has been a roller-coaster ride of emotions and physical ‘duress’ for me, a time when the body seems to ‘kick into automatic’ to get things done, and then exhaustion (of all kinds) comes upon oneself in the evening, in those times of rest or at least of requested rest.

For those who are acquainted with the old UK tv comedy program ‘The Vicar of Dibley’, you may remember an episode where the few attendees at the church council were meeting during bad weather. For several minutes the debate turned to previous instances of bad weather, and recollections: ‘Do you remember the great storm of…..?’, only for that title to be contested by someone because others knew it as the ‘Great Wind of….’, and so they went on to explain that for it to be a storm there had to be wind and rain.

This last week life for me feels like a great storm – wind and rain – and at sea, too!

I mention this, because I know you will have faced similar ‘storms’ in life, albeit with different events, and in different circumstances, and at different times, or maybe, you are going through just such a ‘storm’ right now? .

‘The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’ John 3:8, The Book.

No one can wave a wand and conclusively say that such ‘storms’ will go away. I know, if that were possible friends would do that for me, and I would do that for my friends, just as I would do that for my dear Dad. [Though, never stop asking, praying or engaging in ritual, please. There’s more].

But, I have been ‘buoyed up’, comforted and empowered (as has my Dad, especially), by the large number of dear friends from all backgrounds and ‘tribes’ who have sent well-wishes, good-thoughts, positivity-energy-packages and prayer, and maybe that has had a tangible effect. It feels that way, and that is sufficient. And, in some mysterious way (that we won’t discover for some time) maybe it has had other positive effects. And, maybe, that’s what it is all about?

Endurance in a ‘storm’. Journeying together. Caring for each other.

The fact that, in different ways we do travel together, support each other across the distances between us, and want to do good things, is important. I do believe that intentionality counts in the universe. We must never think that our well-wishes, good-thoughts, energy-packages or prayers etc are too small or insufficient. We must never stop our good deeds, out good-thoughts sending, rituals and prayers. These are  important. They work (albeit in ways we may not immediately expect, or even see now), and they are products of intentionality in practice.

Love in action.

From my sailing days – a small sail boat, borrowed from a friend, and sailed off the coast of Anglesey – I know that when a storm blows in, it’s time to trim the sails (that is, to reduce the area of sail exposed to the wind) and if its a bad storm to move to ‘bare poles’ and have no sail at all. It depends on the storm. As the waves ‘hit’ the sail boat, there comes a point where instead of running with the wind and waves, one quickly turns the sail boat about and faces into the wind and waves, depending on circumstances, and faces, head-on, into the oncoming surges.

At sea, how we react  depends on the storm.

In life it is much the same. The analogy holds true, for there comes a point where we hold resolutely to the tasks in hand and ride the ‘waves’, and then later we turn to face the oncoming storm. It’s almost damage limitation then and endurance. We accept some change in circumstance, but try to ward of the worst. We become more honest with ourselves, and accept the confusion (and maybe express anger and unfairness) that abounds, we become more resolute, and yes, we acknowledge our vulnerability.

So let the wind blow us
to wherever it says
we are supposed to go’
Let the wind blow us
to wherever it says
we are supposed to go
(Joshua Radin)

Nevertheless, at the end of that day, I do believe that the Source of All is Master of all, and aids us.

I want to express my gratitude to all those who sent well-wishes, good-thoughts, energy-packages or prayers. I do believe these have made a difference, and I’m humbled by your love and concern for my dear Dad. Thank you to all my dear Christian, Celtic, Druid, Pagan friends and others to numerous to mention. ‘Thank-you’ seems to small a word (or is that two?), but it’s all I have right now and it comes from my heart to you. I hope you understand. Blessings, Tadhg

‘May all the Light and Wisdom of your work
return to bless you a thousand times.’ John O’Donohue

Tadhg’s Ephemera: The Moon Of Ice: 10 & 11 February 2017 Full Moon & More.

20170208-moon-of-ice-ephemeraBrace yourself! The next few days is a busy time, astronomically-speaking, and for those that cherish and mark the passing of the seasons, or enjoy looking ‘heavenward’ to the skies for significant events.

Lunar eclipse: 10 February, the shadow cast by the Earth starts to move across the surface of the Moon. Lunar eclipse.

‘The moon makes love
to the ocean,
and in this holy conception it gives birth
to a little tide.’

A P Sweet

moon-untitled111The Moon will only ‘graze’ the outer edge of the Earth’s long shadow and so it won’t be a total eclipse of the Moon. Rather, it’ll be a penumbral eclipse and so you’ll see the Moon’s light grow dim, but it won’t lose all its light, and it may become reddened. The penumbral eclipse will start very slowly at first, hardly noticeable, at 22.35 UTC, but will be at its maximum some 2 1/2 hours later, and then by 2.35 UTC (the next day) it’ll all be over. It should be viewable, clouds permitting, from north America, Europe, Africa and most of Asia, but not so from Australia – sorry, Australia.

Full Moon: 11 February: It’s a full moon and therefore of significance to the ancients, and latter day Christians, Pagans’ Celts, Druids and others. It  will be in the constellation of Leo; and this Full moon is known as the Moon of Ice (or, the  Ice Moon) to ancient and latter-day Celts, but is also known as the Snow Moon, Storm Moon or Wolf Moon to others.

‘Only the moon’s smile can cure the unseen scars of darkness’. Munia Khan

We can still rightly claim to be in the season of Imbolc – it was only a week ago – and Imbolc has an association with milk, so why not wrap up warm, grab a cup of hot milk and gaze at the Moon of Ice, in awe, in wonder, and with gratitude, and ‘unwind, take time to relax and marvel at the Moon, and/or celebrate the occasion, ritually, in a way appropriate to your tribal, core and/or heart-felt expression, as its face smiles back.

Comet: 11 February and a few days after: Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková is expected to reach its maximum brightness now and over the next two weeks, and will be visible. It was discovered by astronomers Minoru Honda, Antonin Mrkos and L’udmila Pajdušáková in December 1948.

comet-602281_960_720Comet (definition): A celestial body moving about the sun, usually in a highly eccentric orbit. It has a central mass surrounded by an envelope of dust and gas that may form a tail that streams away from the sun. This flowing tail is why it’s called a comet, as the word comet comes from the old Greek word, komḗtēs, meaning ‘long hair’; and the comet’s tail does look, poetically, like hair flowing from it.

The comet will be passing through the constellation Hercules during its closest approach on February 11th, and then it will move through the constellations of Corona Borealis, Boötes, Canes Venatici, Ursa Major and into Leo at the end of February as it recedes in brightness. It then ‘flies’ away from us on its orbit, not to return until the Spring of 2022. It’s best viewed though a pair of binoculars.

And then, the planets: Mars appears near Venus in the western sky for some time, whilst Venus visible for a time and then vanishes into the sunset weeks later in later in March. Jupiter, meanwhile, rises in the east and is spectacular even with a pair binoculars. Saturn rises in the east just before morning sunrise.

‘Late February days; and now, at last,
Might you have thought that
Winter’s woe was past;
So fair the sky was and so soft the air.’

William Morris

20170208-moon-of-ice-ephemera

Ephemera: Imbolc: Liturgy & Ritual: Ideas & Resources

20170127-imbolc3-ephemeraThe circle is turning, and Imbolc is coming ever closer. that time of the ushering in of Spring, a new season, a new start – sometimes called St Brigid’s Day or Candlemas.

Having looked at the meaning of this festival in brief – see here, and having thought about ideas that you might like to do to celebrate Imbolc, St Brigid’s Day or Candlemas in a meal – see here, today (in this third instalment) we look at a few ideas regarding ritual and liturgy (words and deeds) to celebrate this wonderful event, for you to consider. Do adapt this to suit your circumstances, and make this a truly memorable ‘fire festival’.

Words

The following are a few poems or prayers that you might like to use in some form of rite (which can be elaborate, or used at the time of a celebratory meal (with words spoken either before, during or after), or  read them to yourself as you consider the turning of the wheel, and Winter becomes Spring.

O most noble Greenness, rooted in the sun,
shining forth in streaming splendour upon the wheel of Earth.
No earthly sense or being can comprehend you.
You are encircled by the very arms of Divine mysteries.
You are radiant like the red of dawn!
You glow like the incandescence of the sun!

Hildegard von Bingen
English version by Jerry Dybdal and Matthew Fox

And/Or

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.

Robert Frost (1874–1963).

And/Or

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

Song of Solomon 2:11-12  The Book

And/Or

The wilderness and the desert will be glad,
And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom;
Like the crocus
It will blossom profusely
And rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
The majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the glory of the Lord,
The majesty of our God.
Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the [c]feeble.
Say to those with anxious heart,
‘Take courage, fear not..’

Isaiah 35:1-4a The Book

And/Or

Praise to you, Oh Caring one,
nurturing, generous and milky kind,
yet defiant as the snowdrop in a cold climate,
feisty, pure and natural
with your white singular unbroken focus,
Maid-Mother to us all,
praise to you.

Tess Ward (Anglican Priest), The Celtic Wheel Of The Year

And/or

A sleeping world emerges to new possibilities,
weakening winter’s icy grip,
and birdsong and bleating lamb
announce to all the promise
that in due season
creation bursts into life.
And whilst leaves that fell in winter
lie upon the ground,
soon to feed the earth
in nature’s wondrous cycle
of death and rebirth,
within the tree is a stirring of new growth
For the cycle of life
Which brings death and rebirth.

Copyright © John Birch, 2016. Used with permission. Click here to go to originating webpage.

And/or

We rejoice in the promise of Spring
For lengthening days
And sunlight’s warmth upon the soil
We rejoice in the promise of Spring
For a snowdrop’s beauty
Reflecting its Creator’s artistry
We rejoice in the promise of Spring
For new born lambs
Their joy and exuberance
We rejoice in the promise of Spring
For all of creation
And the majesty of its Creator
We rejoice in the promise of Spring

Copyright © John Birch, 2016. Used with permission. Click here to go to originating webpage.

Deeds/Action

Imbolc is a great time to start new things, and as hinted above in ancient sacred text, Springtime is not only a good time to reflect, give thanks and look forward in hope, but it’s also a good time to ‘do’ something – for yourself and others. So, here’s a few activities you might like to consider:

Fire: An Imbolc tradition, being a ‘fire festival’ was to light a fire! Fires celebrated not only Brigid, and the returning power of the sun, and in the Christian calendar, Candlemas is the time when when candles were lit for Virgin Mary and/or to signify the Christ-child as the Light of the world. A brazier might be inappropriate now, but why not light a candle (or several throughout the evening celebration, a short time of reciting poems and/or prayers)?

Water: Imbolc was also a time for visiting a spring or a well, to both purify onself and bring fertility to our dreams. Indeed, Well dressing (also once known as well flowering) was regularly practised in rural England. Then, wells, springs or other water sources were decorated with designs created from flower petals. So, why not set out to visit a riiver, stream, or well, nearby? Make it a special occasion.

House Spring Clean: Now is a great time to spring clean your home, usually undertaken before Imbolc Eve. It’s a wonderful time to get rid of anything that is cluttering up your home and stagnating the energy. But, don’t see it as a chore to be completed as quickly as possible. Take your time. This, too, can be a holy acivity!

Trees: Why not plant, or fund the planting of a tree? There is a great need for each of us to be wise stewards of nature, and here’s an opportunity to do something practical. For a web charity link for a tree-planting/forests preservation group in the UK, see here.

Make Brigid’s Cross: This is ideal for those artistically included, and if you can’t find any rushes to ‘weave’ together you can use drinking straws (and it will still mean something deep as it’s the intention that counts). Details of making a Brigid’s Cross is here.

Conclusion

So, there you have – the third and concluding part of the Imbolc 2017 articles. I hope you’ve found this all useful.

Whatever you do, my prayers and thoughts are with you and those whom you love. May you (all) have a happy, deep and blessed Imbolc. Tadhg

 

Ephemera: The Celtic Month Of The Rowan Tree [21 January – 17 February]

20170120-rowan-tree-month-ephemera-222Today is the last day of the Birch tree month, and tomorrow, Saturday, 21 January 2017  is the first day of the Celtic month of the Rowan tree.

So, here’s some information about the tree, the month, folklore, and some encouragement to do something to celebrate the new month, the month of the Rowan tree.

Name: The name ‘Rowan’ tree is recorded from 1804, and before that it was known as the ‘rountree’, though going further back it is derived from the old Germanic verb ‘raud-inan’, meaning ‘to redden’, in reference to the trees wonderfully red berries.In Old English the tree was known as the cwic-beám, and some, maybe a very few, still refer to the tree as the quicken, or the quicken-tree.

Oh! Rowan Tree Oh! Rowan Tree!
Thou’lt aye be dear to me,
Entwined thou art wi mony ties,
O’ hame and infancy.
Thy leaves were aye the first o’ spring,
Thy flow’rs the simmer’s pride;
There was nae sic a bonny tree
In a’ the countryside.Oh! Rowan Tree.

Part of a traditional Scottish poem/song, by Carolina Oliphant. She was descended from Clan Oliphant, an old family which had settled in Perthshire in the 12th century.

rowan-tree-wiki-common-licence-800px-rowan_tree_20081002bAbout the tree: Rowan trees occur widely throughout Europe, in western Asia in Russia and the Caucasus region, in north Africa in the mountains of Morocco, and in north America (where they may be called the Mountain Ash).

They are fast-growing trees, a short-lived pioneer tree in the rose family, Rosaceae. They reach a maximum height of about 10-15 metres. The flowers blossom after the leaves have appeared, usually around May or early June. They’re  creamy-white in colour. Individual flowers have a diameter of about 1 cm, and they grow in dense clusters or corymbs, each containing up to 250 flowers, and measuring 8-15 cm. across. The strong, sweet scent attracts pollinating insects, including many species of flies, bees and beetles.

The Rowan tree is a tough tree. It is a strong wood that has been used to make spinning wheels, spindles and walking sticks over the years.

rowan-druidess-alexandre_cabanel_004Celts & Druid views: Held by many of the ancients, Celts and Druids to be sacred, the Rowan tree was often planted in or near places of worship, and so you may find them (still) growing close to stone circles, groves, or where ley lines cross, or near houses.

Imbolc, the festival associated with the Goddess Brigid and known by some as Candlemas falls within the Rowan Tree month (in about ten days time), and is another time for celebration.

Rowan was the prescribed wood on which runes were, and still are, inscribed to make rune staves.

Folklore: The Rowan tree is said to be one of the most protective of all trees, and is first and foremost a protection against negative influences. The Rowan has protected homes for centuries, and many today are delighted to see a Rowan tree (or several) growing nearby houses.

According to folklore, the dragon is the Rowan tree guardian. It appears frequently in Celtic myth often depicted as a snake-like creature or a worm. When the dragon swallows its own tale it symbolizes immortality, which is another attribute of the Rowan tree feature.

The Rowan is yet another tree sacred to Brigid of the Tuatha Dé Danann, patron of crafts and spinning.

rowan-tree-wiki-common-licence-rowanberries_in_late_august_2004_in_helsinkiGreek mythology tells us  how Hebe, the goddess of youth, dispensed rejuvenating ambrosia to the gods from her magical chalice. When, through carelessness, she lost this cup, the gods sent an eagle to recover it. The feathers and drops of blood which the eagle shed in the  fight with the demons, who had the cup, fell to earth, where each of them turned into a Rowan tree. Hence the Rowan trees leaves took on the shape from the eagle’s feathers, and the appearance of its berries from the droplets of blood.

In Norse mythology it is regarded as the tree from which the first woman was made, (the first man being made from the Ash tree). It was also said to have saved the life of Thor by bending over a fast-flowing river in the Underworld which was sweeping him away, and helped him back to the shore.

Celebration: The way in which some celebrate, in ritual, the beginning of each Celtic month is many and varied. Whichever way you celebrate, I would encourage you (particularly if you’ve never set out to celebrate the new months) to, at least:

  • make yourself a drink to sip and enjoy (wine, coffee, hot chocolate, water etc) to get into the mood of peace and calm, and to make this a good, comfortable and blessed time, and
  • with your eyes closed, let your thoughts quieten, and meditate deeply on giving thanks for the month that has ended (and maybe list, mentally, some of the good things), and to think ahead to the new month (and maybe, think (but, don’t worry) about some of the challenges ahead and where energy will be needed – it’s okay to ‘drift’ in and out of meditation, here, and
  • because the Rowan tree is the tree for protection and positive energy, do something relevant, maybe lighting a candle, seeing its energy displayed as light, and imagine/prayer/send protective energy to where it is needed (in your life, in the life of your family or friends, or anywhere in the world or cosmos, and
  • when you come to the end of this time, extinguish the candle, but take a few minutes to contemplate the new month in a positive way.

Happy Rowan tree month to you and yours, Tadhg.

20170120-rowan-tree-month-ephemera-222

 

Journal: Three Mysterious Encounters In Clackitt’s Wood

 20170119-mysterious-encounters-journal

Have you ever had one of those ‘something is going to happen’ moments?’ It’s the kind of feeling of ozone or ‘electric’ in the air as a distant storm approaches, a good but also slightly unnerving feel of anticipation, an impending unknown.  I hope so, for then you can relate to how I felt last evening.

‘The greatest storms on our Earth break not in nature but in our minds!’ Mehmet Murat ildan

Last evening as I sat in the living room of my oh-so-cosy humble cottage – Tŷ Gwyn (meaning, the ‘white house) -in north Wales,  I had read two chapters of a most interesting book, and that was enough, and as their was nothing on tv, I sat there, a little listlessly.

A ‘call’ to get some exercise or at least leave the confines of the cottage beckoned from deep within. The more I sat there, the more this feeling grew to become an almost tangle ennui, a fidget,  an unmistakable  itch that just wouldn’t go away until I moved.

Deep within a voice spoke, and as if it were a memory, I was seemingly going to expect three words of wisdom, or three encounters, or three somethings. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and I wasn’t even sure where that thought had originated.

And so I moved.

Hopeful Man…
Sometimes you just have to face what is coming. Sometimes we have a choice; sometimes we don’t.

Tonight, I had a choice, but deep within my soul there was a good-unease, a ‘call’ that just would not go away, and so, as comfortable as I was, I wanted to put myself in the path of what was coming.

‘Uncertainty and expectation are the joys of life. Security is an insipid thing.’ William Congreve

Moving to the back door located in a small boot room, off the kitchen, I  donned my outer gear, including my trusted wellington boots, and headed for the garden with a flashlight in hand. It was a cold, damp, and foggy out there, and the wind howled in the distance like a wailing bansidhe (pronounced ‘ban-shee’). It was about 10pm.

Walking down toward the bottom of the garden it grew darker, colder, more damp, and the fog grew thicker, freezing fog, causing visibility to drop from thirty feet to about ten feet. Just before the boundary of my garden the forest, wonderfully, encroaches, hiding a small rivulet. To me, this ‘watery companion’ is: Bach ac yn gyflym. <For more details from a previous article, see here>

Jumping over the rivulet, the forest become thicker, and technically I was now on the edge of Clackitt’s wood – my favourite local place an ancient and wild place, the haunt of yesteryear of Celts, Druids, Pagans and others, and latter-day ones, too; and a place full of mystery, full of ‘magick’.

I continued walking for many minutes, before spying the felled tree that always makes for a seat to ponder. I sat on it, and pondered. The fog was even thicker here, the temperature dropped, and my levels of expectancy rose. I had the feeling that I was supposed to just wait, and as I grew into that thought, so a calm and powerful peace came over me, a warm glow enveloping me, almost like being bathed in warm milk and honey. Tranquillity

Have you ever had that ‘remain-at-peace-whatever-happens’ feeling?

Wise Man…
I waited, and waited , and waited, and it grew darker, colder, more damp, and the quietness of  this ancient place was both comforting and unnerving. I waited, some more.

About an hour past when I heard footsteps in the distance coming my way. My heart rate quickened, until a dog appeared, and moments later its owner – a local farmer and friend appeared. here>

He is a ‘stout man’, ‘solid’ like a tree, but maybe carrying a few excess pounds (but, who isn’t?), semi-retired and with several sons who now do  much of the farm work for him. <For more details from a previous article, see here>

He let out a muted grunt, presumably of surprise, as I shone the light on him, and then on me to allay his fears. Recognising each other, he came closer, and then sat beside me. We didn’t talk for a while, and later, only sporadically as we took in the solitude of the place. He is a man of few words.

‘You’re wrapped up warm, Tadhg. So much so it looks as though you’re going to be here all night’, the farmer-friend said, as he got up to leave. ‘I could well be’, I replied. My farmer-friend called his dog to heel, turned to me and said, ‘Wise, Tadhg. Ne’er cast a clout ’till May be out’, and he left as we said our respective goodbyes, and I was once more alone.

It occurred to me that we often dismiss old adages and wise sayings, and yet the ancients, the Celts, Druids and others knew things, especially about the seasons, that we often belittle or are unware of. Do you feel there is room for you (and myself included) to grow into this knowledge.

Was this the first encounter? Study and take to heart the wise words of the ancients!

My farmer-friends words echoed in my mind. He was right: ne’er cast a clout ’till May be out’. Stayed wrapped up warm until the May blossom comes about. How often had I recited that, but never really though it through. In the solitude of Clackitt’s wood I thought long on hard on that saying. Wise words indeed.

My thoughts were interrupted, by the sound of fast-paced footsteps coming my way, accompanied with a rhythmic, deep and fast breathing sound as though someone or something was running fast, and the sound was getting louder, so it was coming my way. Once again my heart quickened. So unexpected was this sound – which seemed frantic and distinctly ‘odd’  and out-of-place, that I instinctively found my right hand had grasped a branch that was on the forest floor – it was  about three feet long, and a solid, and dense, about three inches thick, and heavy.

A minute later the running, noisy steps stopped. Whoever it was, whatever it was, was now at the edge of the small clearing – I was sitting in the middle of, say a twenty foot clearing – but the deep, heavy, laboured breathing sound continued. Whoever it was stepped forward, turned to face me, and a forehead-flashlight shone in my direction. I aimed my torch back.

Tarzan…
‘Ben?’, I said, rather hesitantly, but in a way as to not display any timidity. And, as this person stepped forward, I was relieved to see that it was indeed him – a good friend of mine was Ben. And here he was doing some kind of forest jogging.

‘Tadhg?, he replied, expressing some surprise, and using a couple of expletives peppered thought his sentence.

He, too, sat down beside me, on the felled tree, extended his hand for a handshake, and I responded in a similar fashion. One thing I should mention about Ben is that this young guy is super-fit, an immensely muscular man, a ‘gym-rat’, with great strength (witnessed by me as he works on a local farm), and he wrestles; and he could fell Superman, Batman, Tarzan and an assortment of superheroes, I do believe. Why, in his current running gear he even looked the part! <For more details from a previous article, see here>

And, to make me feel (even more) unfit, as I shook his hand, his hand was powerful, determined and huge compared to mine. If I had an out-of-control ego it would now be reeling from a bruising.

We talked, but not before he spied the branch that I was letting slip onto the forest floor, which he grabbed, perhaps knowing this was my impromptu ‘weapon’ when I didn’t know if he was a stranger or a forest wild beast.

Now I felt not just unfit but puny, as he put the middle of the branch against one of his brawny knees, as he sat, and grabbed either end of the branch with his hands, and pulled it towards him, with a huge amount of effort. With a deep, determined, prolonged grunt, a flexing of huge biceps, the branch broke into two, with a loud crack.

He laughed. I laughed for different reasons – remembering that after I had thrashed this guy at a game of chess, recently, he has invited me to ‘hit the mats’ and face him at his sport: wrestling!  Friedrich Nietzsche once said that, ‘That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.’ but I don’t think Nietzsche was thinking of wrestling a brute of a man, like the one that sat next to me.

We talked some more, and then we said our goodbyes as he continued his keep-fit jogging regime he had talked about, but not before another almost-debilitating handshake from him.

He left. I was again alone. And my thoughts raced. What was the lesson here. I knew the answer.

It occurred to me that we can become so spiritually-mind, and/or so busy doing all manner of ‘good’ things, that we can neglect physical fitness, and I had. I need a regular fitness regime. The second encounter? Keep-fit encouragement: balance!

Okay, I wasn’t going to get as fit as Ben, and wouldn’t want to, otherwise he might think I was doing it in anticipation of accepting his wrestling challenge. I consider myself a tough guy – fairly tough guy, tough-ish – but I’m not foolish.

But, it is easy to ignore our own, personal, physical fitness and aim to be ‘super spiritual’. But, I see that imbalance as an error, and  I now knew this encounter with ‘superman’ Ben was an encouragement to get fit and stay fit. But, does this apply to you? Do you have an appropriate and balanced fitness regime?

‘Second by second you lose the opportunity to become the person you want to be. Take charge of your life.’ Greg Plitt

My thoughts were then interrupted by a brilliant bright yellow-green light, visible some 200 feet away through dense forest.

Maybe…
The mysterious light had piqued my interest, and once again my heart rate quickened. I sat there watching it. It made no noise. It never seemed to move. After about fifteen minutes of sitting there, wondering what it could be and not drawing any logical conclusion, I got to my feet and slowly moved towards the direction of the light.

The air was colder than ever, the fog masked the exact location of the light until I got to within about fifty feet of it. At about forty feet from it – and the light source seemed about eight foot wide – it went out! No sound! No light. I stopped. After a few minutes I carried on walking, gauging my steps so that I’d have a rough idea of walking some forty feet. After forty feet, I stopped. I must have been right on top of the light source, and for the next few minutes looked around for evidence of what had caused the bright light – but I could see nothing untoward. A mystery.

As I stood there, and wondered: Maybe, it  had been pure imagination, a product of a waking dream or something else. Maybe it had been a ‘will o the wisp’, gas emissions that hover over lakes in summer when the evenings and nights are warm and are ignited into a glow. But, there was no lake here, and it was cold, and there was  no smell of methane. Maybe it was….? I had no idea, and yet even as that mystery ambled around my mind, I experienced a deep calm in that place. Extraordinary peace.

It occurred to me that sometimes we won’t know, and that life is going to be a mystery, and that we should enjoy that not-knowingness. A close encounter of the third kind? Revel in mystery!

I walked back to Tŷ Gwyn  wondering what the light in Clackitt’s wood could have been. Any ideas?

Having removed my outer gear when I got home, I slumped onto the sofa, and recounted the three encounters and what they meant. I also considered the fact that had I been to lazy, too busy, or too spiritually-minded that I might never had left the cottage and ventured forth on a foul evening into Clackitt’s wood – that ancient and wild place, full of mystery, full of ‘magick’

What might we be missing in life? If you had three encounters today or tomorrow (and you might), what three things would they ‘say’ to you? What do you think?