With Samhain In Mind: A Winter Haiku

20181004 WITH SAMHAIN IN MIND A WINTER HAIKU

With Samhain (and different pronunciations of that word abound, but I quite like the pronunciation ‘soh-uhn’) just a few weeks away, the Circle turns ever closer as the final harvest of the year is about to be brought in and celebrated, and the season of winter creeps closer, at the end of this month. In Wales, this first day of winter is also known as Calan Gaeaf.

With that winter season in mind, here’s a (series of) haiku, and each can be read in succession – either as poetry, prayer or as part of a liturgy to celebrate the harvest and season of winter, Samhain.

I am fascinated by the traditional haiku. It’s a wonderful poetic style and I’d encourage you to write a poem or two in that style. An awesome discipline, and great fun.  Haiku are Japanese-style short poems consisting of three lines: and the lines should contain firstly five syllables, then next line contains seven syllables, and the last line contains five; and somewhere in the haiku there is a seasonal reference, however oblique.

So, a winter haiku, a resource for you to use and adapt as you think of the last harvest of the year, winter, Samhain.

1
The northern winds blow.
Ice and snow slowly creep south.
Life sleeps in the earth.

2
Harvesting takes place.
And, grateful hearts raise a song
to the Source of All.

3
Winter tilts the Earth.
The sun reclines; and winds roar.
White frost cocoons all.

4
Revelry takes place,
and nature’s bounty is shared
with mankind and beast.

5
Naked are the trees.
Sparse, the green shrubs and bushes.
Harsh, the cold on skin.

6
Hail, winter Spirit.
That which dies now at your hand
will soon come alive.

7
The Circle moves on.
And the promises of old
are heard loud and clear.

8
‘As long as earth lasts,
seedtime and harvest, summer,
winter, never cease.”

9
The Deity smiles,
and blesses all; but for now,
the northern winds blow.

Over the next two weeks or so, other aspects of Samhain will feature here; ritual, thoughts, maybe even a song or two. Many blessings, Tadhg.

 

Full Moon: The Singing Moon & More: Ephemera

20180923 EPHEMERA THE SINGING MOON 25 SEPTEMBER 2018

In a society of ‘mechanical time’, where the emphasis is on greater productivity and acquisition, there are a few discerning people, and that includes you, who are aware of nature’s cycles and their deep meaning, and who really celebrate life and the turning of the Circle, and who ‘see’ beyond the surface level.

There is a realm we can encounter that is beyond, where rationality may not ‘rule’ but which is not irrational, but ‘arational’. Above. Beyond. It is there that we can meet, and appreciate that which is beyond, and full Moon’s are wonderfully liminal events and times

‘In the depth of my soul there is a wordless song.’ Khalil Gibran

For you, here’s some vital information, information for all Celts, Druids and others about the upcoming full moon and another astronomical sight to see a little later on, and a story about the Moon and Sun. You know I like stories and ancient myth, and this one doesn’t disappoint. It’s time to pause and consider deeply.

‘Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.’ Matthew 6:28a-29, The Book

FULL MOON DETAILS
The next full moon takes place on 25 September 2018 at 2.52 UTC, and so it will look (almost) full on the evening of Monday, 24 September and Tuesday, 25 September 2018, and viewable  in the south-eastern sky (from a UK aspect). It’s time to celebrate.

’There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.’ George Carlin

Some call this full moon the the (Full) Corn Moon or Harvest Moon. The term ‘Harvest Moon’ refers to the Full Moon that occurs closest to the Autumnal Equinox. Others call it the Barley Moon, the Fruit Moon, or to some Druids and Celts, such as myself, it’s called the Singing Moon.

MYTHICAL STORY ABOUT THE MOON AND SUN
You know I love stories, and here’s an ancient myth from the Philippines about the Moon and the Sun.

At the very beginning of time the Sun and the Moon were married, and they had many children. These were the bright stars you see in the night sky. Now, the Sun was very fond of his children, but whenever he tried to embrace any of them, he was so hot that he burned them up. This made the Moon very angry, so angry infact she finally forbade him to touch them again, and he was greatly grieved.

One day the Moon went down to the spring, as usual, to do some washing, but before she left she told the Sun that he must not touch any of their children in her absence. When she returned, however, she found that he had disobeyed her, and that several of the children had, sadly, perished.

She was very angry, and picked up a banana tree to strike him. He retaliated by throwing sand at her, and some landed on her face, and to this day you can see the dark marks of sand on the face of the Moon.

Their argument got worse and the the Sun started to chase the Moon. And, now they have been arguing and chasing each other ever since. Sometimes he gets so near that he almost catches her, but she escapes, and so the chase goes on.

ANOTHER ASTRONOMICAL SIGHT
For the astronomically-minded, or for those who like to look upward and gaze at the stars, the end of the month is significant. On 29 September the Moon will be quite close to the bright star Aldebaran. If you look at the Moon, and hold one arm out, and form a fist but with three fingers extended as if giving some kind of (arms-length) scout salute (each finger then being about 1.5 degrees), that’s the perceived gap between the Moon and Aldebaran.

’May you touch dragonflies and stars, dance with fairies and talk to the moon…’ Unknown

Aldebaran appears about 5 degrees away from the Moon, and is an orange giant star some sixty-five light years from us, situated in the constellation of Taurus. The space exploration probe Pioneer 10 which left the solar system is headed in the direction of that star, and should have a (relatively) close encounter in about two million years.

In Hindu astronomy Aldebaran is called Rohini, ‘the red one’ and is thought to be the wife of the god Chandra (which is the Moon); in Bengali it is called Stacidan because of its orange colour; and to the ancient Greeks it was known as Lampadias, ‘the torch-bearer’. As regards the Greeks, it was recorded that that star was occulted (covered (just)) by the Moon on 11 March AD509.

’The moon is the reflection of your heart and moonlight is the twinkle of your love.’ Debasish Mridha

As well as featuring in ancient myth, references to Aldebaran have featured in Star Trek, Far From the Madding Crowd, Ulysses, Lord of the Rings, and in a Rolling Stones song.

CELEBRATION
You may want to celebrate this full moon. I’d heartily recommended it as a way of marking time, pausing to put things into perspective, and to celebrate the circle of the moon and nature, and to ponder upon The One Behind It All.

In many ways the best way to celebrate and/or give thanks is to go out and gaze in awe and appreciate the wonder of that full Moon, and the Source of All, in the stillness of the night. But, in addition, you might like to:

  • say a few words of gratitude out loud or to yourself for the bounty of this year’s food, harvest,  the simple things in life, for personal prosperity or health, or incorporate it in a ritual that you might do periodically, and maybe drink a celebratory drink as you gaze in awe, or
  • remember a loved one who has passed-on, and bless them, and remember good things about them as you look up, or
  • send up good-thoughts or a prayer about an upcoming event or for someone known to you that might need energy or healing, expecting the Source of All to hear and respond.

’Tell me the story…about how the sun loved the moon so much, that she died every night…Just to let him breathe…’ Hanako Ishii

Be blessed, Tadhg.

 

[With gratitude to Pennie Ley (FaceBook Link) for the kind use of the Moon photograph header, above. Copyrighted. All rights reserved, Pennie Ley, 2018].

Table Talk: One Evening In September. [Life, Sex, Faith/Belief And More]

20180916 TABLE TALK ONE EVENING IN SEPTEMBER

A few of us had met and had the most wonderful three-course meal, recently. And now, with the crockery and cutlery cleared away and the dish-washer chugging away in the kitchen, we settled, with full stomachs, in the lounge.

Such post-meal evening discussions like this had happened before – there was no agenda, everyone’s viewpoint was valid, the conversation might be tossed too and fro in a myriad of directions, and Chatham House rules applied (which meant that nothing could be mentioned outside this meeting that identified any member without their consent – and so the following identifies me, Tadhg, but no one else.

What follows is ‘table talk’. [With apologies to Martin Luther].  It may ramble, it might not cover some of the things relevant to you (or it might), but through this I hope that interest is sparked and maybe some questions are raised (and answered), and that you find the article informative.

Someone asked: Tell us about the importance of ritual that you speak so much about on TadhgTalks.

Tadhg replied: Ritual is important to me, and I would encourage it in the daily life of others. In one sense we already live lives that encompass daily rituals, or yearly ones in the form of anniversaries. But, they are important reminders to us, can help us to make time for the essentials in life, and if done with intentionality they can have great meaning and effect.

The flip-slide of that is that they can so easily be done by rote and lose meaning and effect.

’What matters is not the idea a man holds, but the depth at which he holds it.’ – Ezra Pound

With a ritual there is a ‘surface level’ meaning that observers can see and understand, easily. But, it shouldn’t stay there at that level. There is a deeper meaning, and it is possible, and advantageous, to go ‘inward’ in contemplation. For instance, for the last two months I’ve done an Earth-healing ritual. On the ‘surface level’, anyone watching would have seen my physical actions (and physical actions are important), but there is a ‘deeper level’ of contemplation, the imaginal realm where ‘inwardly’ I am was performing that ritual without physical limitation, and others taking part in the ritual would be encouraged, similarly, to go inward.

’The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.’ Albert Einstein

That ‘deeper level’ some might call prayer or meditation.

Someone asked: But, in any group that uses contemplation in a ritual won’t each person ‘see’ something different?

Tadhg replied: Absolutely. That’s to be expected, and in one a very real sense it is to be encouraged. For instance, in leading a ceremony someone might refer to the Fae, another to elementals, others to gods of all descriptions that area meaningful to them, others might refer to the wolf aspect of nature, and I might refer to the Source of All. To me, these are all manifestations of the One in creation.

’A group of blind people heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they said: ‘We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable’. So, they sought it out, and when they found it they groped about it. In the case of the first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said ‘This being is like a thick snake’. For another one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, the elephant is a pillar like a tree-trunk. Another blind person who placed his hand upon its side said, ‘the elephant is a wall’. Another who felt its tail, described it as a rope. The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is that which is hard, smooth and like a spear.

We might each get a glimpse of That Which Is Bigger Than Us, and describe it in out own way, but that can’t mean that any of us know more than others, as the Truth is beyond comprehension. We each get glimpses that are different, and that’s why sharing and listening to each other’s experience and understanding, accepting the different ways to describe things, especially when different to our own, can only be a good thing to enhance our journey. Its a learning curve.

Someone asked: So, what about sex?

There was a little bit of laughter, but the questioner was encouraged to be specific. Refilling the glasses helped everyone here.

Someone asked: Well, one of the reasons I’m A Druid is that I like the way it deals with sex, life and death and rebirth, and isn’t prissy or embarrassed about procreation. And, that’s different from when I was a Christian. The Church then  seemed uptight about even using the word. So, Tadhg, as A Christian-Druid what would you say?

Tadhg replied: It is true, that in many cases churches are hung up on the word, and I know some that flatly refuse to use the word ‘sex’ in any way. The word ‘pregnant’ comes a close second in the tables of banished words in those places, and they prefer to use the phrase ‘with child’. It’s odd.

Right now, I can see two reasons why some, perhaps most, churches are ‘afraid’ of using sex or talking about it. One could be pure ego. It’s a constructed taboo which sets them apart from society, and perhaps they like that. I can’t understand that desire for artificial separation or ‘distancing’ from society, but it could be ‘ego’.

Or, it could be a plain (or wilful) misunderstanding of ancient text and its application. The challenge, and church history, provides proof, is to understand what St Augustine did when he became a Christian. Now, some may say he brought in much good theology, but he brought in more. When Manichaeism was banned, many Manichaeists became Christian almost ‘over night’. And St Augustine was a Manichaeist who converted, and sadly brought in some Manichaeists anti-sex notions which were seized upon by Reformers, and others ever since.

It seems to me to be a false dichotomy, and unnecessary ‘distancing’ from the One who created everything good.

’Sex is a part of nature. I go along with nature’. Marilyn Monroe

For me, ancient text provides a healthy understanding of procreation and the God of Procreation and our responsibility, but its interpretation is (still, unknowingly by some churches ‘seen’) through Manichaeist spectacles which have little to do with essential foundational, balanced, responsible beliefs of the early Church.

I apologise for the course in Church history, but sometimes it’s important to divide what is foundational, and what is more recent and which just appears foundational.

Someone asked: Tell us about the standing stone you just visited in Wales, where you did an Earth-healing ritual.

Tadhg replied: Ah, that was Maen Llia, at the very north of the Brecon Beacons national park. And bearing in mind what we’ve mentioned about glimpses of knowledge and wisdom, and misunderstanding things (because of relatively new ideas which weren’t there at the beginning), Maen Llia is a wonderful reminder of how little we do know.

The current view is that our ancestors dragged that stone there some forty-thousand years ago and laid it flat, and about four thousand years ago it was upended (and now stands about twelve feet talk, nine feet wide, and two feet thick), and no one has a clue what its purpose was. I quite like that admission, because we can all share our ideas, tonight, about it, and no one is wrong.

So, what was its use for (when flat and then, later, when stood on its end)?

Various people said:

  • Perhaps it when flat it was used as a raised platform for the Druid to stand on to address the crowd.
  • Maybe it was used as a seat for someone to tell stories to people seated around it, sitting on the ground.
  • And/Or, when flat, maybe it was some kind of throne or seat to dispense judgement from.
  • Maybe it was upended when the crowd grew to big, and then the Druid would conduct rituals in front of it, and it was some kind of ‘backdrop’ to ‘push’ the sound forward to amplify the speaker’s voice
  • Or, perhaps it was used as a marker to show a nearby village, or denote a holy location, rather like Celtic crosses or the many cairns (piled-up stones) throughout the UK

Joshua said…’Each of you bring back one rock, one for each tribe of Israel, and carry it on your shoulder.  They will be a sign among you. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these rocks mean?’ ‘Tell them the water stopped flowing in the Jordan…’’ Joshua 4. 5b-7a, The Book.

And, so it went on. Do you have any thoughts about Maen Llia or standing-stones in general?

Someone asked: So, is ritual enough?

Tadhg replied: That’s good question. Bearing in mind there’s the physical, ‘surface level’ ritual of doing that is important, and there’s the inner ‘deeper level’ aspect of ritual which involves the imagination or mind’s eye. There is more. There is always more.

It’s my belief, and others may disagree, that both aspects of ritual need to be ‘earthed’, and that something (more) needs to be done. For instance, the Earth-healing rituals consisted of words and actions, the imaginal aspect. But then I ‘earthed’ the rituals by burying a Rainforest Jasper stone.

The ‘earthing’ can be varied and roughly associated with the ritual, but it can be a loose connection. So, I think it would be acceptable, in ‘earthing’ that ritual to have planted some seeds in a city plant-box the next day, or by writing to the local council to preserve some city park trees, instead of burying the rock. True, the aforementioned examples don’t accomplish anything in the national parks where I conducted the ritual, but a loose connection is, I think, good enough. And, with all things being inter-connected, maybe the seed-planting and writing to the local council will affect things further afield, in ways we cannot ‘see’.

’I had to decide what I was going to do, and what I was going to be. I was standing there, waiting for someone to do something , till I realised the person I was waiting for was myself.’ Markus Zusak,

There were many more questions  in the lounge that evening, but I think I’ll save them for another time. Meanwhile, drinks were refilled and the evening continued to flow. Maybe next time, you’ll be here. Youre more than welcome.

Now you know what was on the hearts and minds of friends after that meal, how about you sharing something of your spiritual journey (either here or by email to me), if you wish. Whether you do or don’t, rest assured that I appreciate you taking the time to read this and other articles of mine, and you are in my thoughts as we travel along this Path.

Much light and love be to you and yours, Tadhg

 

Tadhg, On The Road To Hay On Wye. Mystery, Magic And Healing The Land

20180903 TADHG ON THE ROAD TO HAY ON WYE

In a few days I’m off on another short jaunt. Another adventure. And, who knows what might happen? Having just come back from the wonderful Matlock area of Derbyshire, this time I’m off to Hay On Wye, Wales.

‘The winds of God are always blowing, but you must set the sails.’ (Unknown)

The region of Hay on Wye is an area that abounds in myth and magic, and is a wonderful place to visit. The town nestles just inside Wales, separated geographically from England by the Dulas Brook, and Hay on Wye boasts the largest concentration of bookshops in the UK, so ‘I will be in my element’, as they say.

Division?

‘Where you are today and where you want to be lies a gap….’ Oscar Bimpong

Over those few days I also aim to visit the Brecon Beacons (national park in Wales) which is a huge open, rugged and wild place, the habitat of wonderful animals, insects, plants and trees. It also has some wonderful waterfalls, some amazing caves, and yes, plenty of mystery. There are a number of standing stones in the Brecon Beacons which were the ritual places of ancient Celts. No wonder the Celts of old loved that area (and latter ones still do). It is a place of mystery, a liminal place, a place where Here and the Other spiritually ‘connect’. A ‘thin place’ [see here].

Connection?

’In reality, we live in everyone. I live in you. You live in me. There is no gap, no distance. We all are eternally one.’ Amit Ray

And myth? What of myth? The River Wye that runs through Hay joins the River Lugg some ten miles to the east. One cannot but notice the similarity between the name Lugg as in the River Lugg, and Lugh the god of the Celts. However, Lugh comes mainly from Irish myth and probably means ‘of the long arm’, whereas Lugg as in the River Lugg, is thought to be more local, and means ‘the bright one’. But, it makes you wonder.

Ponder?

In that area other myth is recorded: the ghostly figures of Swan pool, the appearance of King Arthur’s cave, mischievous pwcas, and more. Perhaps we swim through myth and magic wherever we are, but are unaware of it. It may be noticeable or ‘felt’ only if we develop our (underused) senses of awareness. Maybe such myths and magic is ubiquitous?

‘How blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear!’ Matthew 13:16, The Book

Evidence for this comes from where the River Wye connects with the River Lugg. There, at Mordiford is an interesting myth. Legend has it, and one mentioned on the side of a local church wall, says that in a bygone age a dragon was harassing nearby villagers. It was eventually slain by a member of the local nobility, though such is the nature of myth, it might have been a convicted criminal who killed the dragon. Some even attribute the original owner of the dragon as a young girl by the name of Maud.

Although the stories vary, that dragon, in this region, is always prominent in such stories. And, what of Maud? A short walk through the nearby Haugh Wood brings you to a path, said to be found my dear Maude herself, called Serpent’s Lane. Serpent, dragon? It is said that at certain times of the year the dragon can be seen there, and you’ll know when you’ve reached the path even if you don’t spy the dragon, as legend says nothing grows there.

Just a myth? Or, something more?

’He is short-sighted who looks only on the path he treads and the wall on which he leans.’ Kahlil Kibran

But we can’t leave the myth there. Some of you may know that normally dragons are fairly placid creatures unless disturbed (and have six limbs), and it is more than likely that this ‘dragon’ [see here], was, infact, a wyvern because of local drawings showing a creature with four limbs – thus making it an altogether rather disagreeable creature. Not a dragon at all. A wyvern.

There’s more.

There is always more. Having buried a rock (a Rainforest Jasper rock) recently at Mam Tor [see here], Derbyshire in a simple Earth-healing ceremony, I intend to do the same, and for the second time, at Maen Llia in the Brecon Beacons national park, Wales.

Join me over the next few days, ‘imaginally’, in prayer, energetically, in a ‘kything’ sort of way, and participate albeit-geographically-at-a-distance, but in essence at no distance at all. Oneness!

’…that they may be one as we are one.’ John 17.22, The Book

An Eco Ritual: Healing The Land & A Celebration

20180820 AN ECO RITUAL AT MATLOCK

The following is a brief outline of an ‘eco’ ritual that I am intending to use for one of a series of ‘healing the land’ rituals over the next year or so – this one at the time of the full moon (26 August) near Matlock, England.

We often take the natural environment for granted and many feel separate from it, and yet as year succeeds year, we realise (more so) that we are connected to nature, indeed, we are one with nature. From the largest swirling galaxy, to this planet with its vast blue oceans, to its mighty trees and forests, to wolves and foxes and bears, and buzzing and sometimes annoying insects, to all of creation we, humankind, are one. Visible and invisible, all one.

The moment the angel enters a life it enters an environment. We are ecological from day one. (James Hillman)

I would encourage you to read the article, please, take it to heart, adapt it and try the ritual (physically in your neighbourhood and/or ‘imaginally’ within your house) so that you can participate, periodically, and make a difference, too, to your local area, wherever you are. And remember: intentionality is important.

We are children on the earth: people to whom the outdoors is home. Nothing can separate us from the vigour and vibrancy of this inheritance. (John O’Donohue)

There no right or wrong way of doing this, and in many cases (depending on the area, time, circumstances) you might have to adapt proceedings. Indeed, the most profound rituals are the simplest, so do ‘subtract’ from the following if it feels to ‘weighty’. Nothing, not even ritual, should come between us and awareness of Who Is.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about. (Rumi)

What follows, then, is an outline and is a prompt and encouragement to you to try (unless you have something that suits you better, in which case please email me and share). It may be, especially if the area that I’m drawn to for this ritual is busy, that I might only be able to recite some of the words below, or maybe only use the words in the section headed ‘The Work’ (see below) and then bury the Rainforest Jasper stone. But, that’s okay. Intentionality is important, remember. As much as I like Harry Potter movies for entertainment, this is not a Harry Potter spell and nothing bad will happen to me or you if we get it wrong (but you cant, because there is no right and wrong way of doing this, either).

The earth which sustains humanity must not be injured. It must not be destroyed! (Hildegard of Bingen)

The following, then, is for the first ritual for the healing of the land, but also a celebration of nature and an acknowledge that we are one with nature (and not apart from it) – and for me, the ritual will take place near Matlock.

Notes are in square brackets.

OPENING

Facing East, say:
May there be peace in the East.
Facing South, say:
May there be peace in the South.
Facing West, say:
May there be peace in the West.
Facing North, say:
May there be peace in the North.

Walking in a circle, deosil (clockwise)…[And, walking clockwise is usual to ‘energise’ or empower a circle, and show that things are about to happen as we move into sacred-space and time. Also, I like to trace out or actually mark a circle with a staff (some use a ‘wand’, others point with their index finger on their right hand)].
Say, when at Eastern cardinal point:

I/we acknowledge the East, for the wind that blows from the continent onto this land and distributes the seeds to provide us with food. I bless you, O God, of the East.

Say, when at Southern cardinal point:
I/we acknowledge the South, for the warmth of the sun which gives us a temperate climate and abundance. I bless you, O God, of the South.

Say, when at Western cardinal point:
I/we acknowledge the West, for the great sea which nourishes us and provides us with ecological balance. I bless you, O God, of the West.

Say, when at Northern cardinal point:
I/we acknowledge the North, for the ancient hills and valleys and streams without end, the sure foundation of this this emerald isle. I bless you, O God, of the North.

LAMENT

[It seems appropriate to ‘start where we are’ and acknowledge that humankind is responsible for much of the Earth’s degradation, hence this lament. But, I prefer not to linger here, as I do believe power and energy goes to what we focus on, and our focus is on the positive.]

Say:
I/we have forgotten who we are.
I/we have distanced ourselves from the unfolding of the cosmos.
I/we have become estranged from the flowing of the earth
I/we have separated ourselves from the cycles of life.
And, I am/we are truly sorry.

PURPOSE

Say:
I/we join with the Earth and with each other…
To bring new life to this land
To restore the purity of the waters
To refresh the air for all
To renew the forests
To care for the plants
To protect animals and insects

To revel in the blowing winds
To rejoice in the bright sunlight
To celebrate the turbulent seas
To dance on solid ground
To sing the song of the stars

To recall our destiny
To renew our spirits
To reinvigorate our bodies
To recreate the human community with justice and in peace
To remember the children

I/we join with the earth and with each other.

Yes, I/we join together as many and diverse expressions of one loving mystery: for the healing of the earth and the renewal of all life.

And/or

We live in all things.
All things live in us.
We rejoice in all life.

WORDS OF REMEMBRANCE

[It could be that here, others in your group could each take a line or two to recite those words below or those scattered throughout this article, or you can use one or more of them, if working alone.] Say:

I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding. (John O’Donohue)

We need joy as we need air. We need love as we need water. We need each other as we need the earth we share. (Maya Angelou)

The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature. (Hildegard of Bingen)

Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these. (Matthew 6: 28b – 29, The Book)

Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields…Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness. (Mary Oliver)

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature. (Joseph Campbell)

Each thing – each stone, blossom, child is held in place. Only we in our arrogance, push out beyond what we belong to…If we surrendered to Earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees. (Rainer Maria Rilke)

The Earth does not belong to us: we belong to the Earth. (Marlee Matlin)

Pick a flower on Earth and you move the farthest star. (Paul Dirac)

THE WORK

[If I have to forgo any other part of the ritual, this seems to me to be the crucial part, and when having recited the following words I then intend to scoop out a small amount of soil and bury a small Rainforest Jasper stone, and…] Say:

‘I bury this stone, Rainforest Jasper, for this land: for a deeper connection and harmony with nature and with plants, trees and animals, and with Mother Earth herself. The vibration of happiness and joy for life will flow outwards, throughout all life and carry strong energy for change and positivity to local communities. May all, everything, in this locality, be blessed by That Which Is Bigger Than Us.’

CLOSING

Walking in a circle widdershins (anti-clockwise)…[And, walking widdershins is usual to ‘dissipate’ energy or ‘close’ a circle, and show that things are now returning to ‘normal physical time-space. Also I like to trace out or actually mark the closing of the circle with a staff (some use a ‘wand’, others point with their index finger on their right hand]
Say, when at Northern cardinal point:
I/we give thanks for the North, for the ancient hills and valleys and streams without end, the sure foundation of this this emerald isle. I bless you, O God, of the North.

Say, when at Western cardinal point:
I/we give thanks for the West, for the great sea which nourishes us and provides us with ecological balance. I bless you, O God, of the West.

Say, when at Southern cardinal point:
I/we give thanks for the South, for the warmth of the sun which gives us a temperate climate and abundance. I bless you, O God, of the South.

Say, when at Eastern cardinal point:
I/we give thanks for the East, for the wind that blows from the continent onto this land and distributes the seeds to provide us with food. I bless you, O God, of the East.

END

[With the end of the ritual, it’s a good time to share food with others, but if you have done this by yourself there is no reason not to consume a snack, and if done in seclusion then it’s best to ‘ground’ yourself, even if that’s a walk around the garden or room, and a drinking a glass of water.]

The greatest forces lie in the region of the uncomprehended.  (George MacDonald)

 

The Caim 3: In Times Of Ecological Distress

20180716 THE CAIM 3 IN TIMES OF ECOLOGICAL DISTRESS

We live in a world where ecological distress occurs, weather patterns are changing, manmade disasters occur and animals are becoming extinct.

Closer to home: For some days fire fighters have been tackling a fire on Wanstead Flats, a large open expanse of land in Redbridge in east (well probably north-east) London. At one point some 220 fire fighters were fighting the ‘scrub’ fire. The weather in the UK, at least for the last three weeks has been unusually hot, very hot and dry, and although the cause of the fire is unknown, the blaze is significant and worrying.

Fire commissioner Dany Cotton said she was ‘praying for rain’ as long-lasting hot weather is creating favourable conditions for wild fires.

Prayer for rain?

What follows is a simple Caim ritual for an individual, but a ritual, nevertheless, full of power, with an ecological ‘challenge’ in mind that you might consider using (and adapting to suit your requirements, concerns). The Caim, as previously mentioned, is a ‘circling’ ritual and the circle was/is very much part of the daily life and ritual of ancient and latter-day Celts, Druids, Christians and others. This Caim is a ritual for rain for Wanstead Flats in London, but can be adapted for use by you, elsewhere.

As I stand in a candle-lit the room, I quieten my mind.

After a few minutes, I take the staff I brought from the Isle of Iona, and use it to point to the floor, gently scribing a circle on the carpet.

I start off by facing east and slowly turn 360 degrees, clockwise, to cast the Caim. On this occasion the circle is not visible or marked out by rocks or pebbles but is in my mind’s eye. It is sufficient. At each of the cardinal points I pause, momentarily. Eventually I am facing north, and on this occasion turn to face east once again– the direction of Wanstead Flats from my location.

Ceremonial separation and the casting of the Caim has been achieved.

Previously, I had selected the Merlinite palmstone and put in on the small table within the Caim circle.

There are some who believe that palmstones have inherent power, others that such rocks are alive and posses a soul that can impart power, others hold that each rock has a guardian elemental that can be of use, others that intentionality can invoke or ‘borrow’ power from on High, some advocate that it is (just) a ‘tool’ to be used in a meaningful ritual, and there are others who accept that the ‘jury is out’ and all that matters is that it seems to work. Ritual is important

’We not only nurture our sacred relationships through ritual, but we are nurtured by them as well. In ritual, we move, and we are moved.’ Alison Leigh Lilly

Merlinite, also known as Dendritic Agate is an interesting rock. Many believe it is so-called as it is named after the wizard Merlin (Myrddin Emrys in Wales), and because of the stone’s ability to attract mystical and magical experiences to anyone who wears it.

It is said by some to allows a connective relationship between ourselves our environment. So, the rock is very suited for any working with any environmental issue, and doubly-so as the overriding element for this stone is ‘storm’, and so it is very much associated with rain

And, so I picked up the Merlinite palmstone, and with it in my hand and held it close to my heart. I closed my eyes, and began to visualise, imagine, hold in my mind’s eye a ‘picture’ of the desired outcome: rain, and lots of it pouring from the sky onto Wanstead Flats. I could see it, hear it, almost feel it, as I visualised it. Under my breath I utter the word, ‘rain’. Words are important, too.

’The human voice is the organ of the soul.’ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It is my belief that each one of us has access to untold power and energy, and that so often we are unaware of it. During times such as this, when invoking the power of the Caim, it is good to have in mind the source of such power. To me, I believe such power resides in the Source of All, who give to all ‘prodigally’. Others may have other ideas, but perhaps it is the case that we all see different facets of the One?

I raised my arms, opened them in the direction of Wanstead Flats, and waited for a few minutes.

What we ‘give out’ does ‘come back’, albeit in a different form. And, so having used words of power, invoking a blessing for Wanstead Flats in this Caim, I waited. The blessing does come back, almost instantly.

Feeling drained on energy, I paused. And, under my breath I said, ‘thankyou’ to the Source of All for the Source’s energy, and for the privilege of being a conduit for good.

The power part of the Caim ritual, the ‘standing in the gap’ has been completed.
Having accepted the blessing, I lowered my arms, and used the staff to scribe an imaginal circle on the carpet.

To close the Caim, some may like to reverse the direction they take, and move through the four cardinal points (perhaps, starting facing the east) in an anti-clockwise manner. You can choose the direction that is most fitting for you. Intentionality, after all, is all-important.

And, so I turned, holding the staff, and moving clockwise, I ‘scribed’ an invisible circle on the carpet as if to ‘erase’ the Caim circle formerly scribed.

And, then having closed the Caim, I walked about for the next few minutes as an opportunity to slowly, ceremonially, ‘come back’ to this realm, as an act of grounding.

Grounding, it is said, is the earthing of residual energy to the natural energy field of the earth. If you are not grounded you may feel dizzy, a little ‘spaced out’, or generally feel out of sorts. In any case, it is always a good idea to take a few minutes after any significant spiritual event to, slowly, attune yourself to ‘mundane’ time-space by taking it easy for a few minutes, and then by a taking part in a simple physical action eg walking, deep breathing etc for a minute or so. Grounding completed.

The Caim is versatile, and can be used as a ritual of protection for yourself or others, as a ritual for conferring blessings on others, seeking a remedy for an ecological ‘challenge’, as noted here in a Caim for rain for the ecological ‘distress’ of Wanstead Flats, London, for example. And, it can be used and adapted by you.

Other articles in this series are:  Caim 1: Personal Experience & Caim Essentials [Here], and Caim 2: Variations & Examples [Here].

 

The Caim 2: Caim Variations & Examples

20180712 THE CAIM 2 CAIM VARIATIONS AND EXAMPLESIf ever there was a need to focus our attention, to ‘be’, to be intentional in our locality and the world, to draw in or harvest positive energy and direct it to those who need it, it is now.

What we do is preceded by our thoughts, what happens externally through us was initiated in that interior realm, and any power we use comes to us from far beyond, and flows through us. It does so because That Which Is Bigger Than Us graces us with the status of ‘co-creators’.

There is a great need for the power of the Caim – that circling ritual or prayer.

A few weeks ago we looked at the Caim in outline. See here. There are various uses for the Caim. Traditionally, a ritual of individual protection, it can be adapted to suit the requirements of the hour.

‘The problem with the world is that we draw the circle of our family too small’. Mother Teresa

The main part of the Caim, I call ‘Standing in the Gap: Using the Caim’. After preparing the Caim, that is ‘drawing’ or casting the Circle, it is here, in this middle segment, that the actual energetic part of the ritual takes place. And as regards that, here are a few journal ‘fragments’ of previous Caim ritual to encourage you to consider using it.

Ofcourse, you can take parts of what follows and ‘mix and match’, and so you don’t only have to use an activity highlighted by me in, say, the healing section, there only. But, you can adapt it and use it elsewhere, as appropriate.

Do experiment. It may not feel as though it ‘works’ the first time but you can try activities, altering them slightly as you go along. In essence, you cannot make a mistake, and can always do an event over and over again until you’re satisfied. The Universe understands, and it is your intentionality that is important here. So:

For Individuals For Healing

As I stood, alone, in the middle of the circle, with only candle-light flickering in the corners of the room, I closed my eyes. I had brought a photo of someone that had a dangerous kidney complaint and who was in need of urgent healing, and now held that photograph close to my heart. I started to imagine them. I faced, roughly, the direction of where that person lived, and said out loud what was on my heart, and sought the One to heal them.

‘We need to surrender the outcome…we must co-operate with change rather than resist it.’ Sandra Ingerman

At times like this, I think it is important not to be (too) prescriptive as to the outcome and how it is to be achieved, but to leave that to the One. However, I do believe it is right to visualise that person as they would be when back to full health.

And so, I raised one hand, upwards, metaphorically heavenward, and closed my fingers rapidly as if grasping something quickly. In my mind’s eye I visualised grasping ‘solidified healing’ from above (okay, that may stretch the imagination too much, but to me at that time I visualised sparkling, golden, radiant, healing, heavenly fog! For those that have come across the word, think: shekinah). This visualisation is a metaphor, but it’s powerful and effective as it is intentionality that is all-important, and so I ‘threw’ (or, more accurately it was an open-palmed ‘push’, of) what I had gasped toward the person in need and healing, and uttered the words, Be healed’.

Although in poetic form, you might like to enact and/or adapt the following actions:

Slowly, unhurriedly, powerfully, the Voice said:
‘As above, so below,
there are things you should know.’

‘Human words are powerful, they are a door,
your actions are effective, they are pure metaphor.’

‘And so I speak of humanity’s cosmic task,
to be revealed, evidenced, enjoyed, without any mask.’

‘And so, don’t just sit, but take heed and do,
these are worded-actions-prayers for many, and for you.’

‘And so, again I say, as above, so below,
remember these things; they are things you should know.’

‘Through prayer, does that which is unseen, unmanifest,
reveal itself and take form in the blessed.’

‘And so, I mention,
with your hands at your side, walk humbly,
take seven half-steps forward, its a journey of intention.’

‘And now, raise your hands in simple ‘surrender’,
and point both to Heaven, that domain of awesome splendour.’

‘Widen your arms, and so scoop, and harvest

pure energy, pure ‘gold’, and be prepared to be feel blessed.’
‘Draw in that power, by folding your arms like an ‘x’ on your chest,
and feel its benefits, its warmth; you’re at peace, at one, ‘at home’, at rest.’

‘Then stretch forth your arms, and mould with your hands
as if a ball, that ‘globe-like’ power-blessing from the ouranic meadowlands.’

‘With one foot leading, and with knees part bent,
sway back and forth, in preparation for that ‘goodness’ to be sent.’

‘In your mind, name the loved-one, the recipient, the friend,
and in your heart, see them, imagine them, to that end.’

‘‘Push’ with your hands, that power-blessing from you to them,
and sigh the sound of the ages, the ‘so be it’, the ‘amen’.’

‘And then, your hands drop to your side,
power has gone out; but there is no lack,
for the power-blessing that went forth, also comes back,
in another way and at another time, and so you, too, are blessed.’

More of the poem can be read here.

It is my belief that, in this case, all people, everywhere with the same complaint would benefit in some way. That Which Is Bigger That Us is so, so generous.

For Individuals For Beneficial Group/Local/Tribal/Global Outcomes

Alone, and in that circle, I was moved to pray for a part of the world where tribal divisions had erupted, innocent people were being harmed. There was a great need for negativity to be transformed into positivity, hate changed into love, anger into peace. At other times I’ve prayed for ecological disasters to be abated and/or transformed.

‘You breathe in the pain of a specific person or animal that you wish to help. You breathe out…spaciousness or kindness…’ Pema Chödrön

This time I had brought a globe (of the world, but a print-out or rough drawing of the countries’ outline would suffice) into the circle, and placed my hand, open-palmed over the area in need. As I imagined that area which was in need, I breathed in.

  • As I breathed in, I imagined breathing in all the negativity, pain and hatred of that region.
  • As I breathed out, I imagined the love and peace of the Universe flowing through me (and others) to people in that region.

I did this several times: breathing in negativity, breathing out love and positivity. Some may recognise this as a form of tonglen, a deep and effective technique used by Buddhists and others. Breath has been used as a powerful metaphor for healing and blessing from ancient times: Think: John 20:22, The Book.

At then at the end, as a variation on tonglen, and if you’re concerned about inhaling at that negativity, although the The Source of All can effectively deal with it without any detriment to you, you could try the following: With the idea of one deep exhalation and inhalation in mind, arch you head back so your face is heavenward. And then as you imagine negativity, exhale! Imagine it all leaving your body.  And then, as you visualise light from above flooding you, inhale deeply. There, it’s done. If ever there was a need for cleansing from formerly inhaling negativity, the situation is reversed and you’re cleansed.

For Group Liturgical Caim(s)

Whereas the abovementioned was very much centred on an individual conducting a Caim on behalf of another or a local or global area, sometimes the Caim can be included within a larger ritual or even be a larger, formal ritual itself, and might be used in various ways.

For ceremonies or services to do with ecology the Caim could be used for land healing, global healing, for seeking to redress a specific disaster or wrong and sending energy out.

It might be used as a blessing circle. The service or ceremony leader might invite, one by one, all those who would like a blessing, a change of ‘luck’, inner cleansing, or a new start, or healing. Or, for the start of a new company or project.

It could be used as part of an animal blessing day (perhaps on the feast day of St Francis) and pet-owners, along with their pets, could be invited into the circle.

How formal or informal you make this part of the ceremony is up to you, but in all cases it is best if a few minister to a group of say a couple of dozen or more. I’ve led a number of formal, liturgical Caims, and they are very moving, indeed.

You might include drama, enacted/active metaphors, poetry, or words that the congregation can join in, periodically.

In such cases as a handfasting, appropriate attire was expected.

If it helps others to think or meditate deeply, to be drawn, positively, into what is going on (liminal encounters) then appropriate attire is an asset. Ofcourse, what you wear as leader depends on what is expected of you and how Durham Albcomfortable you feel.

And so, on this occasion, a handfasting ceremony, I wore a hooded robe (but please don’t think ‘cosplay) in white, or if outside in woodlands then I would have worn a brown one (think Franciscan).

Around the waist I tied a white cincture (think: belt or, better still, think white rope). Image result for silver celtic four dragons pendant tain

I hung a chain around my neck, with a symbol on it. On this occasion the chain held a circular pendant depicting four Welsh/Celtic dragons representing the four elements, or the four persons of the Trinity (and if you find that confusing or heretical, do ask me.) On other occasions I’ve hung a Celtic cross, or similar, on the chain.

And then, I wore a stole – a white one with the symbolic fishes (representing the Christ) – Trinity Fish Stole (070)think: long scarf, similar to what one of the Dr Who characters wore. I’ve got several stoles: white, black, red, green etc, some simple and others with symbols stitched on them, and wear them depending on the ceremony type, or season.

What you wear, and usually the less formal the better (unless it’s a formal handfasting or large ceremony to usher in the seasons etc) doesn’t have to be flamboyant. Something simple can be worn as a token symbol – it doesn’t have to be expensive, and it can be just as meaningful.

Why bother with all this? Well, you don’t have too.

But wearing different clothing may help you, it may assist others to recognise that something altogether different is happening and that all have entered sacred-space, and have been ushered into the liminal realm. It is there, where significant and mysterious things and power can positively be encountered by all. Think of the way surgeons might sterilise their hands and wear operation-green clothes as they prepare to undertake an operation. It shows that some different is about to happen, and that ‘they mean business’.  It is the same here, though its not essential, it might be worthwhile and beneficial to you and others, to set aside certain clothes and/or pendants etc for ceremonial or ritual use. Think of religious leaders and clergy, ancient and current-day Celts, Druids, Pagans and others. Apparel can be important to them, and to you.

Finally…

The Caim is adaptable, and how you use it will be determined by you and the requirements you and others have. Do experiment and do enjoy the experience. And, if you would like to refresh your memory of the essential Caim, details can be found here.

Have a happy and blessed time using the Caim.

 

20180712 THE CAIM 2 CAIM VARIATIONS AND EXAMPLES

 

 

Let Your Light Shine: An Encouragement

20180704 LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE AN ENCOURAGEMENT NHS

‘Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.’ Og Mandino

She lit the candle, she sang a song, and then she went quiet. She gently touched the back of one of my hands. A Druid, a Pagan, a Christian, a Hindu? It didn’t matter to me. After several minutes she said she had concluded her prayer for me. Would the prayer ‘work’, would I be healed? Right there and then, what moved me to tears, was that she cared enough to go out on a limb, to make herself vulnerable, and be intentional for my sake. Right there and then, it was enough.

There is an old quote that I like: nanos gigantum humeris insidentes.

It translates as, ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’. It is said that Bernard of Chartres, some 800 years ago, used to compare us, metaphorically, to dwarfs perched on the shoulders of giants. He pointed out that we can see much more and much farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature. Because of them.

It isn’t often that I write about a government institution, but Thursday, 5 July 2018 sees the UK’s National Service (NHS) reaching the age of seventy years. I’m never sure about the politics of other countries, when it comes to medicine, but I can only say the NHS is a Godsend, much-loved by millions in the UK, and has saved countless lives, including mine.

Happy 70th Birthday, dear NHS

On 5 July, 1948, a nervous, and very ill girl, Sylvia Beckingham, then aged 13 years, was admitted to Park Hospital in Manchester with a potentially fatal liver condition. Until then patients, apart from the few that were fortunate to gain access to the few free hospital, would have to pay. Not so, little Sylvia. She was the first ever patient to be treated on the NHS.

‘He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” The Book, Luke 10:25-37

It’s not often that I laud a politician, but Aneurin Bevan, the Minister of Health in 1948 is to be praised for his foresight and vision, and passion to found the NHS despite opposition by some at the time. I am so pleased he overcome that opposition.

Aneurin Bevan was born on 15 November 1897 in Tredegar in Wales. His father was a miner and the family were poor and working class, and Aneurin (or Nye) grew up in a setting that gave him first-hand experience of the problems of poverty and disease.

In his early fifties, Aneurin Bevan, on 5 July 1948, true to his ‘calling’ ensured that the government of that day took over responsibility for all medical services and there was free diagnosis and treatment for all. The NHS was born that day, because of him.

Angels walk amongst us, and they can usually be found in hospitals wearing tabards with the word ‘volunteer’ on the back or chest, or wearing white, or blue, or green.

It’s not often that I talk about my medical history, but sometimes it’s right to mention it. Oh, there was that eleven days in hospital a few months ago, which turned out to be pneumonia. Then about seven years ago it was necessary for me to undergo a thyroidectomy. And about eleven years ago I was admitted to hospital as I had oesophageal cancer. That necessitated umpteen appointments, endoscopies, CT scans, three cycles of chemo, a massive operation, and several weeks of radio-therapy. Following that were umpteen check-ups, and even voice ‘lessons’ (as part of the oesophagostomy operation meant going in through the side of my neck to ‘tie things up, and it bruised by vocal chords).

No one at any time sat me down to talk about money and payment, because the NHS was, and is, free at the point of need. I had the best service from a myriad of caring professionals, and all that was discussed were operation procedures, recuperation, follow-up and the like, with much encouragement. Four and a half years later, I received the ‘all clear’.

If it were not for others, I wouldn’t be here. I suspect that that is the same for you. If not healing via a hospital, you are here because of others, nevertheless.

It might be fairly easy to ‘look back’ and imagine ourselves as part of a family tree, the web of life, and wonder. The next step, I would suggest is to ‘look forward’, to imagine future generations, as that tree grows, and what they might look like and do, because of us; and to imagine how they might be grateful to us as they look back at us.

‘Life is not a solo act. It’s a huge collaboration, and we all need to assemble around us the people who care about us and support us in times of strife.’ Tim Gunn

Yes, we are here because of others, and others in the future will be here and/or affected by us because of our actions and the legacy we carve out, in our words now, our thoughts, our rituals and prayers for healing and guidance etc. Because of you. You cared, you prayed, you lit incense, you performed a liturgy, and That Which Is Larger Than Us heard, and responded.

And so for a very dear friend, I lit the candle, sang a song, and then went quiet as I meditated, visualised an ‘inner caim’. I gently touched the back of one of their hands. A Druid, a Pagan, a Christian, a Hindu? It didn’t matter to to the person next to me. After several minutes I said that I had concluded my prayer for them. Would the prayer ‘work’, would they be healed? Right there and then, what moved them, I believe, was that I cared enough to go out on a limb, to make myself vulnerable, and be intentional for their sake. Right there and then, I believe it was enough.

What is true for me, I believe is true for you. Follow your passion. Don’t hold back.

‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.’ Marianne Williamson

 

The Caim 1: Personal Experience

20180608 THE CAIM 1 PERSONAL EXPERIENCEMany times in the (distant) past my time of prayer or ritual-liturgy time more resembled a shopping list of wants with the word ‘Amen’ or ‘So be it’ tacked onto the end of it. I really wanted something more, something deeper, something more meaningful. I wanted to spend more time with the Source Of All, to ‘see’ afresh, in my mind’s eye.

CAIM 11

The caim was one answer.

This evening I went into the study, closed the door and ensured I wouldn’t be disturbed. I made a space in the middle of the room and marked out a circle of about 5-6ft diameter, with pebbles. and lit a candle.

Tonight I was to use the caim to send healing-power to a friend in need, and what follows is a personal account of one use of the caim, among many.

With no other light the candle-light is soft and soothing, and so encourages a meditative state. By lighting the candle I marked this time as different, special, and the beginning of something new. Sacred-space time.

The caim is a profound ‘circling’ prayer or ritual-liturgy

It was used by Celts of old, and by others. It is still used in various forms by latter-day Celts, some Churches who value its benefits, and by some wiccans, pagans, light-workers, mystics and fellow-druids friends known to me. Individuals as well as groups. Yes, it can be used by anyone who knows the value of prayer or ritual-liturgy.

As I stand in a candle-lit the room, I quieten my mind, and relax.

After a few minutes, I point to the floor.

I have already marked out a circle with small pebbles, and, as I point (and sometimes use a staff), I slowly turn my body, revolving 360 degrees. I like to start by facing east usually, but the choice is yours.

I start off facing east and end up facing east. I also like to turn deosil, clockwise, to begin the caim.

The word caim is gaelic, and it has to do with ‘protection’ or ‘sanctuary’; it is derived from the root word meaning ‘circle’, to bend, or turn, and this becomes apparent when you start forming the caim.

Many, today, use a minimalist three-stage approach to the caim at least in the beginning of their caim practice. This is:

  • making a caim and
  • using a prepared ‘set’ prayer, or liturgy, or creative visualisation, and
  • closing the caim and an act of ‘earthing’ it.

My eyes are closed now, and in my mind’s eye I’m imagining that inner journeying to a comfortable and safe place, a place that is full of power and potential. I slow my breathing, quieten my mind, and over the next few minutes enter a state of ‘rest’. I’m journeying toward the Source of All.

Sometimes I like to visualise that I’m in a wonderful forest and enter a clearing that is well-lit. A kataphatic approach. Other times I try not to visualise at all, and that is an apophatic approach. The caim is adaptable.

That inner space that I entered is liminal space. For me, I call it the imaginal realm, as in our culture, when one talks of ‘the imagination’ it is perceived as a place of pure fantasy and unreal. However, the imaginal realm is real. It is a place of peace, power, and potential.

CAIM 12

It is an intermediary space, the gap between the physical realm (which we can all relate to and understand – it is the place of the body) and the ouranic realm (the place of the spirit, where all that is good and holy originates).

I feel safe, I feel ‘cocooned’ from all that is happening in the world about me. I am at peace within this circle.

Tonight I am using creative visualisation – mind pictures and symbolic action instead of words.

If we accept that there is place of Bliss which is, symbolically, a higher plane, then we could all usefully use some of that power.

And so, I raise both my hands above my head for about a minute, and visualise the blossom of golden trees in that higher realm, and the pollen of golden plants blowing in the gentle wind and falling on me. It is power from on high. Not my power, but power belonging to That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves, the Source Of All who gladly shares it with us.

By raising my hands I seek empowerment from beyond, from the Universe, from The Source Of All.

Whilst in that circle, the caim, each of us in that place are intercessors.

Empowered, I now lower my hands now. And wait for a minute or two.

I then change position.

Now, I hold my hands, gently, in front of me, as though I’m holding something. In that imaginal realm I am holding something – a invisible power-blessing of healing. I move my hands and mould it, and shape it, and imagine it to be the size of a football.

We can even use the caim to send a power-blessing to world event that has happened that has caused a major upset, or it could be a prayer or ritual-liturgy for a future event, the locality, a sad event somewhere else on the planet, or it could be an ecological need. Whatever the need is, the caim is a good spiritual ‘tool’.

And then, having moulded and shaped that power-blessing, I ‘push’ that power-blessing, symbolically, in the direction I’ve imagined that that person or event to be. In this case I am visualising a friend in need of healing who is in Singapore.

You don’t have to be geographically accurate in your aim of the power-blessing – it’s the intention that’s important. And, it is the Source Of All who delivers.

I use my body to sway back and forth, gently shifting my weight on one leg and then the other – rocking backward and forward just a little, and with my hands in front of me I move them as though I’m gently pushing something. No physical effort is really required in this pushing movement. It’s symbolic.

I do this for a minute or two, thinking of the person in question and their need, knowing that the Source Of All will work through this caim.

If it helps, you might even like to vocalise who, or for what, the power-blessing is for, and the desired outcome. ‘Help [name],’ or ‘Heal [name] etc.

And, as I stand there I sense the power-blessing leaving me and journeying to the person in need….and it arrives immediately. There is no time delay.

You might imagine the desired effect already taking place, even though it may take some time in the physical realm to come about in actuality. You might have in mind what a solution for that person is and you might be specific in visualising it; or, you might not want to be specific as to what a solution might look like and leave it to the Source Of All to work out.

And now, I lower my hands. And relax. The power-blessing has gone out. I give gratitude in my heart to the Parent of Lights, for enabling me to be a conduit of healing energy.

But, there’s more.

As I stand, and continue to face the direction that that power-blessing was sent. I wait for a minute or so. With my arms out, at shoulder height, I wait. I breathe deeply several times in anticipation, believing that what was sent out, comes back now, energetically – although it may work its way out in my life in a different way to that original power-blessing, and over time. But, I do believe it comes back as a ‘gift’ so that we also benefit.

What we send out, comes back in one form or another.

I inhale to, metaphorically, and with my arms open wide, embrace and accept the return energy-blessing. It’s here.

I give thanks to the Source Of All for the power-blessing that has gone out and which is effective, and now returned without any diminishment.

Now it’s time to return to physical reality – the realm of the senses.

As I stand there, I allow my breathing to return to normal, slowly open my eyes, perhaps not focussing on anything in particular, but just ease myself back to that former state.

With my eyes open, I point to that circle of pebbles. Slowly I turn my body through 360 degrees. I like to face east, and so face east once I’ve gone full circle. But, I move in the opposite direction this time – anti-clockwise (or widdershins) – to close the caim.

And then I wait for another minute, and leave the circle.

I extinguish the candle and collect up the pebbles.

The caim is a spiritual ‘tool’ for you to use – one amongst many – and not a magical formula that won’t work unless you get it absolutely right. It is intentionality that is all important. Adapt it, and use it to best serve you needs, and that of others.

That’s it. Well almost.

CAIM 13

Having sent out a power-blessing, there is always some work to be done, to joyfully work towards making the prayer, that ritual-liturgy come about in the physical realm. It needs to be ‘earthed’.

For instance, if you’ve prayed for someone to get though their exams, the action now needed might be that you give them some verbal encouragement, rather than, say, feeling as though you need to spend days teaching them to make the energy-prayer come about. The Source of All will deal with the latter; our part is to ‘earth’ the caim in this physical realm with a symbolic, associated act.

Having prayed for that person’s health, I’ve just emailed them and arranged to meet them socially and in that way I might cheer them’.

If someone is not well, we don’t need to feel responsible for their healing as the Source of All (working through medical practitioners etc) will have that in hand, but maybe a get-well card from us could be sent to them to buoy them up, and encourage them. That’s ‘earthing’, and the action doesn’t have to be something that the person in question knows about!

Or, if we’ve used the caim, say, for someone to grow spiritually, we might plant a seed in our garden; if we’ve used the caim to send someone a blessing, then we might blow a kiss in their direction. It’s a symbolic action, and it’s usually best done in secret.

The caim, then, is versatile, and several times over the next two weeks we’ll return to it, and look at how it can be used for ecological purposes, for healing, giving blessings to people and/or animals, or projects, for protection etc, and how it can be adapted for group settings and more formal settings.

Meanwhile, do try the caim, and let me know your experience, please.

20180608 THE CAIM 1 PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

A CountDown To Alban Hefin: Celebrating The Sun

20180528 COUNTDOWN TO ALBAN HEFIN CELEBRATING THE SUNFor many people today, and certainly in ages past the four compass points were important to daily life and ritual. Those four points represent winter (north), spring (east), summer (south) and autumn (west). Tonight I have the sun, summer, fire, the south in mind as we are in the season of summer and are racing toward the summer solstice.

The summer solstice, Thursday, 21 June 2018 is the time of the longest day of the year, and a time to consider the sun. In Wales that event is lovingly known as Alban Hefin, which means ‘The Light of the Shore’. That event and the shoreline are mystical times and places, liminal, they are ‘thin places’, a meeting of two realms, places and times where things happen.

’Brother Sun and Sister Moon
I seldom see you seldom hear your tune.’

(Donovan: Brother Sun, Sister Moon)

Midsummer’s day is also celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox church, the Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican churches as a feast day, celebrating the birth of John the Baptist, who was the herald to the (incarnated) Light.

And so, the following then has summer and the sun in mind, in general and might6 be useful to you now, and then over the next couple of weeks more articles will appear with the summer solstice in mind, and with ideas of how to celebrate that time in action and ritual.

On midsummer’s eve many people stayed up all night (or perhaps even more woke up early the following morning) to watch the sun rise on the longest day of the year. Candles were carried, bonfires were lit on hilltops and aromatic herbs were thrown into the fire.

‘This is the solstice, the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight, the year’s threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of and becomes the future; the place of caught breath.’

(Margaret Atwood)

It was thought that if sick cattle or any poorly people passed through the smoke of that bonfire they would be healed, whilst others might chose a ‘tame’ part of the bonfire and jump across it to ward off bad luck and/or to seek an abundance that year in fertility of the land etc.

Don’t worry If you’re not attending a bonfire celebration, a token and just-as-meaningful candle can be lit as a focal point for to think of the summer solstice and to celebrate that time. Ritual ideas, words and ideas will follow over the next week or so.

But, to whet your appetite the amazing words of that mystic, Hildegard of Bingen spring to mind.

’I, the fiery life of divine essence, am aflame beyond
The beauty of the meadows, I gleam in the waters,
And I burn in the sun, moon and stars.’

(Hildegard of Bingen)

The summer solstice is a dual celebration: on one hand there is much revelry and enjoyment because it is the longest day of the year and the sun is in its ascendancy, but it is also the time when days start to grow shorter, nights longer and the darkness begins to grow. Yes, the circle turns, and the great cycle continues. Tempus fugit.

Although not the summer solstice tonight, there is nothing to stop us celebrating the sun (especially, but not only, in the season of summer) and giving thanks to That Which Is Greater Than Us for it, and so, tonight, I lit a candle.

In the middle of one of the busiest cities on the planet, in my small city garden (okay, a yard), occasionally interrupted by ambulance sirens,  a small oasis of calm ‘blinked’ into existence for a few minutes. On this occasion I didn’t move in ritual, but I revolved the candle in its arrow-marked ‘saucer’: first ‘aiming’ it at the west and pausing, then slowly turning it to face north, then east, and then slowly, and reverently turning it so that it ended facing the southern compass point; the south, representing fire,  the sun.

I closed my eyes and spent a few minutes in silence, aiming not to produce a thought, but just to revel in that inward solitude as best I could, and in the light that the candle was giving out.

And then, quietly I gave thanks using an adapted prayer of ancient Hebrew origin as a basis for my words. Intentionality is all-important.

‘Praise to you, Oh Source Of All, that the celestial heights, the messengers and other hosts, the sun and moon and shining stars should praise you, and here I am, praising you, too, for everything. Sun of righteousness, thank you’.

(Ancient Hebrew prayer adapted)

I sat there for a few more minutes, in silence, and then extinguished the candle flame. The little flame, creating so much light before was dark was gone, and the darkness closed in.

I sat there in the darkness, with the occasional ambulance siren wailing in the distance, a helicopter flying quickly overhead, and despite the busy-ness of others, it was awesome. This oasis of quietness and light slowly, and very slowly,  ‘folded up’, and it was gone (or was it?). And yet, in darkness that surrounds me now, the sun’s light yet blesses someone else with its vitality and abundance.

’Brother Sun and Sister Moon
I now do see you, I can hear your tune
So much in love with all that I survey.’

(Donovan: Brother Sun, Sister moon)