The Elements: Air: A Word Spoken In Season…

20170307 a word in season CELTIC THOUGHTIn this season, spring, air is the remembered and celebrated element. Something so invisible,  so powerful, sometimes so forgotten, and yet so vital for our existence.

Here’s a few thoughts about air from a Celtic, Christian (Celtic), Druid point of view.

So, take a breath, maybe a deep breath through the mouth and hold it for two seconds, and then release it. Maybe, do that again…and then return to normal breathing. We often take breathing for granted, and yet that simple exercise is such a momentous thing to do. Air. Dare I call it a miracle?

Air. There is power in breathing.

‘Spoken words have power beyond measure.’ Debasish Mridha

When we’re sad our breathing becomes heavy, and we emit heavy sighs. When we’re joyful we can laugh so much that it seems our lungs will burst or we’re likely to hyperventilate and get giddy. When fearful, we hold our breath and concentrate on listening to the environment. And, when we’re about to do something hard or spectacular we take a long deep inhale of a breath as if to prepare ourselves. Breathing then, and in the short exercise above, is a kind of prayer, a celebration of life, an exercise in ‘being’ and a thanksgiving of (and for) the gift of life itself.

Air. There is life in breathing.

In one of my tribes’ stories, it is often said that Moses timidy got the better of him, and he  never asked the Source of All his (or her) personal name, but that the Source of All was gracious enough to reveal it. Over the centuries that name, being so special was never uttered in full, and so we’re left now with the (usually unpronounced) name YHWH (and which, when you add vowels, becomes YaHWah (pronounced ‘yah-way’) for those that want to pronounce the name). Scholars, however, were quick to realise that the letters YHWH represented breathing sounds, aspirated consonants. Add some vowels, and you get the name YaHWeh. But, ‘breathing’ consonants.

‘Breath is the finest gift of nature. Be grateful for this wonderful gift.’  Amit Ray,

So, could it be that the name of the Source of All is the sound of breathing? I will be more emphatic and say…

Air. God’s name is (the sound of) breathing.

I have stood in Clackitt’s Wood and between tall high-rise buildings in London and with the air quite still at ground level, have heard the wind skim and distort the tops of trees, and over those trees and those tall buildings  heard the wind ‘groan and moan and wail’. Power.

Some years ago I was on a school’s governing board, and coming late to it, I was (as were other governors placed on a subcommittee, too), put on the ‘Exclusions sub-committee’. Along with two other governors I herd my first case of a very young student who had been excluded and through this ‘hearing’ the school was frantically trying to put into place measures to ensure the pupil got ‘back on track’. The childe sat in the chair, as her parents told the governors, ‘It’s a pity she’s not as bright as her sister!’. I watched as those words took hold, saw the child’s head droop, shoulders curl as her ego reeled from that ‘battering’. (Negative) Power. I’m happy to say the governor chairing that subcommittee gently rectified the situation, encouraged the parents not to be so negative or compare that child to anyone else, and ‘built up’ that child’s confidence, and I’m pleased to say that measures put in place led to that pupil returning to achieving good things. Power.

Air. Words have the power to ‘crush’, or ‘build up’.

What we say does have an effect. We can use our words, in relating to others, to ‘crush’ their ego, or encourage and ‘build them up’. Of course, I’m advocating the latter. In our rituals (and our ceremonies etc) whether in a group or alone, our words have energy, and do make an impact. In that sense this can be a cautionary word, to be careful in uttering negatives.

‘When you realize the awesome power of words, you can change lives.’  Tammy Kling

However, I like to think of it as an encouragement for us to utter positive words – whether in a group or individual prayer, ritual or ceremony, or whether we’re talking to friends, families, strangers or whoever we encounter. I’m advocating, that we use words of encouragement, or even a blessing (and we’ll look at that word, blessing, in a few days) toward others.

Air. With a word of command the universe sprang into being.

Air reminds us to use our words wisely both in talking to others, to ourselves or ‘into the air’ in a solo or group ritual etc. Your words have power. Use wisely…but do use!

‘Words have magic. Spells and curses. Some of them, the best of them, once said change everything.’  Nora Roberts, Jewels of the Sun

In Dark Times, Shine: 3/5: And, Action! [Celtic Thought]

20170306 and action CELTIC THOUGHTHere’s part three of ‘In Dark Times, Shine’ albeit slightly delayed. If you wanted to recap the earlier parts, please see here for part 1 about your distinctiveness, and here for part two about empowerment.

So, here’s part three: In Dark Times, Shine: And…Action.

We do live in dark times. There are those around us who need spiritual-liberating, to be freed from their ‘prisons’ to enable them to be the person that are destined to be, and you could probably be, probably are going to be instrumental (along with others, perhaps) in that mission.

Whether you’re a latter-day Celt, a Christian Celt, a Druid or of some other faith or tribe, we all need to ‘shine’ and work for the good – in small ways and large, wherever we are.

This is not to heap so much responsibility on you that you’re actively thinking of how to work with millions of people and losing sleep about it – but it’s about working with those you encounter today. Just a few people. Just a small number of loving actions. Not a chore. Not a bore. But,  a joy. Not counting how well we’ve done, and not keeping score, but doing what you and I believe we’re called to do in the moment, and feeling good about it (although it may appear as energy leaving you and prompt feelings of tiredness).

Now that you know that you’re called to do something that only you can do in a unique way, and now that you know that you have been granted the power and energy to do it, what do you do? It’s all about action.

A clue to what we’re meant to do could be where we’re located and what you like doing – your giftedness, what is on your heart, and the circumstances you find yourself in.

‘Do not despise these small beginnings…’ Zechariah 4:10a, The Book

The Source Of All is quite clever (an understatement, of course, but then I’m British) at arranging all this, and providing opportunities for you to be active. Ah, synchronicity!

Location
I know some who are placed in rural areas, others who live in huge cities, and others whose work takes them to wild places. Wherever you are, this could be an indication of what you might consider doing.

‘Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can’. Arthur Ashe

Jeremy works at a local store in a large town. It is his job to work at the check-out counter, and his gift is that of listening. He  always greet customers with a hearty smile, and will always listen to them. When he only has one customer he will strike up a conversation, and always be encouraging. His gift of listening, really listening, and of encouragement is able to be exercised through his regular job.

Zoe lives in a rural area. She loves the countryside, and her part time job is that of an administrator in a nearby village. At other times, she gives guided tours around the countryside and places of interest, and in this way hopes to encourage others to take an interest in the environment, and animal and tree preservation. She feels her gift is to give knowledge to others about rural life and ecological protection.

Where you are may be an indication of what you’re called to do, and where action can take place. Does this apply to you?

Sometimes, just being in a place, and just showing up is enough!

Giftedness
You may be accomplished at something – have a gift and/or have spent some time studying (and rememeber, it is never to late to start studying or enrolling on a course of somekind), and this, too, could be an indication of what action you can take.

‘We are all gifted. That is our inheritance.’ Ethel Water

We cannot be masters of everything, but each one of us has a unique gift (or several), and it can be used to allow us to be who we are, and be used to build up others, also.

Sarah is a wonderful musician. She used to work as a curator at a local museum, and then concentrated on her music. Her full-time job became part-time as the music (joyfully) took up more of her time, and then latterly her full-time work (if you can call it work) is her music! Her gift is to entertain people and sometimes to move them deeply in matters of the spirit through music.

Sam is a dextrous man. By trade his work is a plumber. By day he works ‘solving’ plumbing problems, repairing leaks etc, and an assortment of other activities associated with plumbing. His gift is that practicality! Most evenings he and his house-bound wife spend some time in praying, sending out positive-thoughts, good-wishes, wholesome rituals etc (using the caim form of ‘enacted’ prayer, sometimes) for ecologically sensitive areas of the world, for wildlife preservation, for war-torn area of the world, famine areas, as well as for their local area and family and friends. They wanted to do something together, something that could be done from their small home. They believe this work to be vital. It is.

I know some wonderful musicians, others who are dextrous with their hands, others are authors, and others who are encouragers, and am in awe as they use their gift for others. Sometimes, I wish I had half of their talent, only to stop those thoughts in their track and realise that I, too, have a unique gift that they don’t possess. And you have a unique gift (and some lesser gifting’s in other areas) that others might envy (in a nice way), too. Use your gift(s), enhance it by practice, enjoy it, use it for the benefit of others. Does this apply to you?

Events
In small ways, in seemingly random events that happen during the day, in large ways and small, you might find yourself interacting with people, and being able to offer assistance. Of course, it depends on the event and your giftedness. But, there will be ways that you can use your gift (and you may have other major gifts and a host of minor gifts – so never back off of an action by disqualifying yourself). ‘Random’ events might be just what the Source Of All has arranged for you to encounter the person who needs to hear from you, to meet and interact with you, to be ministered to, by you!

I’ve always been in the right place and time. Of course, I steered myself there.’ Bob Hope [Or, did he steer himself there?]

Of course, your gift(s) may be something that needs some ‘diarising’ and planning, and that too, can allow you to serve others. I know accomplished energy-workers who have clients that benefit from their services. Others who organise ceremonies and rituals for individuals and families etc. Others who play and sing in faith group assemblies and clubs – all ways of being wonderfully active in building up others and themselves, too.

Together
Whatever your gifting(s) are, do use them. Don’t disqualify yourself. Ofcourse, I’m not encouraging you to ‘bite off more than you can chew’, and to always  have a healthy balance, but it’s  within your scope of capability and it wont offend others by ‘stepping on their toes’, then do it. You may not be able to do everything – infact you won’t be able to! Once, again the Source Of All has it all worked out. It’s quite clever: We need each other.

‘Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.’ Henry Ford

We are called to action, and within the framework of team work.  After leading a funeral. someone said to me,  ‘Tadhg, thank you for doing that. I couldn’t have done it’, only for me to respond by telling them how naturally they served me in other areas , in areas I couldn’t excel in, and how that also encouraged me! I only say this because I’m sure the same has happened to you.

We need each other. Whether your gift is practical, artistic, active, passive, if you’re an author (or a potential author), a musician, a Celtic or Druidic ceremonialist, a light-worker, energy-worker, an administrator, a cleaner, a plumber, mechanic, be the best you can be, and ‘do it’. This is your time to shine.

‘I am only one, but I am one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will’. Edward Everett Hale

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention (again) the wonderful story about the child and the starfish: see here.

[PS: Any names used, apart from my own, have been changed, and anecdotes about other people were used with permission].

In Dark Times, Shine: 2/5: Empowerment [Celtic Thought]

20170221-walking-in-dark-times-celtic-thoughtHaving looked at our distinctive yesterday (in part one, see here), we now move into considering empowerment to do what we’re called to do.

You may have your own ways of empowerment, but if you haven’t or if you would like to consider different ways (to use, to adapt and use), here’s a few ideas that I find beneficial.

‘Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Empowerment is necessary to do what we’re called to do. This can be an informal influx of energy obtained by, say, a walk in a park or forest. Nature is wonderful, and a real and genuine source of energy and inspiration. Or, you might obtain energy from a visit to an art galley or listening to a piece of music; or we can approach it in ways to specifically ensure we have an influx of energy, a more formal approach, and some of these ways are outlined below.

But, empowerment is necessary, lest we work from a position of depleted energy or exhaustion and don’t accomplish what we’ve set out to do.

In ancient text the Christ says: ‘…but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’ Luke 24:49, The Book

I like that idea. Empowerment is something we can be clothed with – it can be seen as a protective, energetic cloak or coat, enveloping us. And, is something we need (and which can be depleted, and restored!).

So, here’s some ideas for empowerment:

Under The Blanket
empowerment-adorable-20374__340Susanna Wesley, the mother of  John and Charles Wesley, and eight other children (or was it more?) and found it difficult to find space and time to be by herself to meditate and pray, especially with so many children around the house and the challenges of eighteenth century living – it was not a bed of roses. Lots of  problems and heartaches. Infact, twice the house where she lived was burned to the ground, losing everything she and her husband owned. It was assumed that their church members did it because they were so upset at what her husband had preached in the pulpit.

She struggled to find a secret place to get away from it all, somewhere where she could ‘commune’. She stumbled upon the idea of a prayer apron or blanket – a ‘tent’ over her head. So, she informed her children that when they saw her with her an apron or blanket over her head, that meant she was in prayer and couldn’t be disturbed. And it worked. The children didn’t disturb her, and Susanna found these times to be very beneficial for deep meditation and prayer.  Others have emulated Susanna since. So, you could find your own prayer or meditation blanket!

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6, The Book

The Tallit
The Greek word for closet or room is tameion which is the same word to describe what happens when one puts on a tallit. Ah, the tallit.

empowerment-tallitThe tallit is primarily a Jewish prayer shawl, mainly used by men but, today, many women use it, too. Tallit is Hebrew for a robe, a cloak, or a sheet. It is draped over the shoulders (with deep respect and after much prayer), but in putting it on, the ritual involves covering the head, fully, momentarily.

It, too, is like a prayer blanket. Indeed, it has been known as the little tent, and some say references to tents in ancient text may actually refer to the period that the tallit covers the head – a tent for the head, separating the person from the rest of the world, monetarily, as if they were in a separate, secret room. (And, for those interested, we know the Christ wore one of these, as there are references to people touching the fringe, the tassels, of his garment, tallit, to seek healing. Also, Paul we’re told was a tent-maker, and there is a view (and one that I subscribe to), that he was, infact, a tallit-maker).

So, why not buy a tallit? It can be used in prayer and meditation as an aid, and can be used in the caim – see below, though it’s not essential to the caim.

The Caim
The caim is a profound ‘circling’ prayer used by ancient Druids, (Christian) Celts and others over the millennia. I like to think of it as a bubble that surrounds us (and which scribes a circle on the floor, into which we stand or sit).  It is still used by latter-day Celts, some Churches who value its benefits, and by some wiccans, pagans, light-workers, mystics and others.

‘Real power comes by empowering others.’ Denis Waitley

empowerment-soap-bubble-manThe making of the caim, the ‘stepping into it’, and using its power for your blessing, protection and for others is pertinent here. What you send out, does come back. Send out a blessing, and you get a blessing back.

The caim is about surrendering to the Source of All, so that some of that power can flow through us, like a conduit. Through us and onto others.

‘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

For information on how to bless others, and so be blessed; or maybe you want to adapt the caim for blessing and empowerment only, so that you can then, later, bless others by performing a caim on their behalf or do some other activity on their behalf, please see here.

Smudging
Of course, the caim can be understood to be one ritual among many, and you may have your own ritual. But, if you haven’t please do consider this one (or more, depending on what you want to accomplish).

‘Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.’ Buddha

empowerment-6fb7425b1a234dc3a468d885305ff98fFor indigenous people of north America and others smudging was, and still is, and important, and special, and sacred act. So, why not you?
Often, smudging involves a four-direction ceremony, and this sits well with those whose tribe is ancient Celtic or Druidic in nature, or similar.

Clear your room or space of clutter and mess, open up windows and curtains and allow air to enter. Light your sage (or other herbs) and then fan the smoke with a feather around your body and anyone else in your space.

‘As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.’ Marianne Williamson

In turn, you may then want to face each compass cardinal point starting with, say, the east, and in turn say a prayer. Here’s a guide to help you get started.

Taking your time, for there is no rush, you might want to say:
Eastward: ‘Facing east, we greet the air, the  wind which can fell mighty trees, and seek that power to do good

Southward: Facing south, we greet the sun at its highest point, and ask for power from that which provides light and warmth to all the earth, to fill us’.

Westward: Facing west, we greet that great body of water, with giant waves and currents that dissipates energy around the globe, to shower us with its power and blessing.

Northward: Facing north, we greet the earth, that which provides a sure foundation, that we might not stumble, but might be sure-footed in what we do for good.

Of course, this is only an outline, and you may wish to add to it to make it true to you, or adapt it to suit your particular purpose. I usually conclude with a prayer to the Source of All, the One behind it all!

Conclusion
Instead of smudging, you could use a candle, moving it to the four cardinal compass points and reciting those words. Experiment. Try something different.

In all of this, intentionality in ritual is important. It is what it means to you that’s important. And, of course the Source is important, too. In a very real sense, it doesn’t depend on us to get it right, but on the Source of All to be profligate, and we have just such a promise. So, don’t hold back. Be empowered to do good in these dark times.

Tomorrow, in part three, we’ll look at actions, and some ways we can ‘shine’ and assist others.

‘Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.’ Andre Gide

 

20170221-walking-in-dark-times-celtic-thought

Oh, The Power You Have…And Yet May Not Even Use.

 161219-power-you-have-celtic-thought

I know a lot of people. Some of them believe they have ‘god in their pocket’ and he’ll do whatever they want him to do. Others, believe in a ‘pantheon’ of gods, spirits and elements and seek to manipulate them with ritual and words. Still others, enter into the mystery (be it to encounter one God, many gods, spirits and elementals, and are more circumspect at what is going on). And, it this group – Christian, Celtic, Druid, other faiths – that intrigues and fascinates me the most, because it seems to be the more, honest, real, authentic and power-ful approach. For them, this life is an amazing process of journey and discovery.

Such a group, infact,  have great power.

One of my favourite tv programs was Star Trek. And, who  couldn’t but love and be irritated in equal measure than by Deanna Troi’s mother, played so well by Majel Barrett-Rodenberry (and yes, she was the wife of Gene Rodenbury, the program’s creator).  Majel played the part of Lwaxana Troi, annoyingly well.

If anyone forgot her status, as stories unfolded, she would quickly remind them that she was Lwaxana Troi, Daughter of the Fifth House, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed’. She loved those grandiose titles and clung to them as if it was in them that power resided!

‘Great acts are made up of small deeds’. Lao Tzu

I am so confused by ‘fake news’. It’s now rumoured that the Russian government might have been at work to skew the Brexit result, or is that, itself, deliberate fake news? For those of a mature age, ‘fake news’ in old language is ‘telling lies’ and is frowned upon. I don’t know if the Russians have been up to no good, but I hear the UK government are taking it seriously. I think, in my humble opinion, that our Parliament ought to put its own house in order, first. I have lost count of the number of lies being told by Members of Parliament.

And, here is where power comes in. Our power.  What of the power you and I have? We have a lot of power….especially if we don’t vote for, nor support in any way any politician who lies, and maybe email them when our local MP or any major MPs tells ‘whoppers! That’s real power – the power to (more) hold out politicians to account.

I am concerned about plastic and microbeads polluting the ocean. Some governments want a voluntary ban by companies, some are bringing in legislation within a few months or years. I have a better solution. That we, as consumers, stop buying any sea-polluting or bee-killing product as from this week. Trust me, industry will get the message a week later, and nature will start healing…because of your power!

‘If people don’t think they have the power to solve their problems, they won’t even think about how to solve them.’ Saul Alinksy

The holding our MPs (more) to account and nature-loving buying-power are just two examples. You’ll think of more, I’m sure. But, those are at least two of my new years resolutions to make 2017 even better!

We don’t need hugely long titles like Lwaxana Troi to wield power, we don’t  need be in high Office. All we need is to exercise our democratic and buying-power rights, to exercise our power locally, and, additionally, to exercise our innate spiritual power, however you see it. So, please be encouraged to exercise your power, and if you want to ‘envelope’ it in wonderful Celtic Christian prayer and/or Druidic ritual – which I love and appreciate so much because it keeps me centred – even better. What about you?

Ora et labora: prayer and action.