With Samhain In Mind: Words of Power & Might

20181012 WITH SAMHAIN IN MIND WORDS OF POWER AND MIGHT

With Samhain coming ever closer, that time when we, whether Christian (thinking of All Souls’ Night), or Druid, or Celtic etc, think of the ancestors and those who have ‘gone ahead’, and which also marks the beginning of winter, the echo from another age of tradition beckons us to pause, draw aside and to ponder deeply.

Here is another article, the second of a few in preparation for Samhain and winter, and this one includes relevant and lively liturgy that you might like to use in your own Samhain (group or solo) celebration, and it includes a song especially suited to the season.

‘Don’t ever diminish the power of words. Words move hearts and hearts move limbs.’ Hamza Yusuf

Samhain is a time to look backwards with gratitude, as we remember all those that have gone before us, and it’s a time to give thanks, and look forward.

Life, seemingly ‘defeated’, becomes alive once more (or undergoes a transformation, which appears to us as ‘death’). Nevertheless, the Circle turns, and what was (seemingly) dead is resurrected. It can be a tough time for some, so do be encouraging and supportive of them, but in essence it can be a time of great positivity, as we become (more) aware of the closeness of that other realm, and of the triumph of Life.

‘Life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth. Life is eternal.’ Eckhart Tolle

With that in mind, you might like to consider using/adapting the following liturgy/prayers:

Early/Awaking Prayer:

Oh Hallowed Three In One,
as Autumn turns to winter,
may we see you more clearly in nature,
love your son-light more dearly today,
and follow you more nearly in all circumstances,
as the Circle turns.

Or

Ancestors’ prayer:

Maker of time and space,
who is in all things and yet ‘above’,
be with all souls this evening.
Be with those who have lived on earth and are now ‘at home’ in Bliss.
Blessings be to my/our ancestors.
Be with those who live on earth now and journey onward in differing circumstances.
Blessings be to them and me.
Be with those yet to come, who, also, are part of the great family of humankind.
Bless them, too.
Maker of all time and space,
in gratitude do all souls, past , present and future, praise you,
and bless you this night.

Or

Evening/Night-Shielding Prayer:

Hallowed Spirit come with compassion this night,
and look upon all souls.
Darkness falls at your behest,
and winter closes in,
and yet the Circle turns.
In the darkness the Everlasting light still shines
in our hearts.
A beacon of hope to all.

And then, there’s more!

However good your singing voice is, you might like to sing the following song (or use it as a poem or liturgy for your celebration). Remember, you don’t have to sing like the late, great Pavarotti or Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Don’t disqualify yourself. You can do it.

‘I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better’.  Maya Angelou

It is intentionality that is all important, and the Source of All smiles at our efforts and values them. So, deep breath, and dance as though no one can see you, and sing as though no one can hear you, and enjoy the ‘connectedness’ of the season.

Song: The Circle is turning

Verse:
The Circle is turning, we celebrate winter.
The Circle is turning, we celebrate winter.
The Circle is turning, we celebrate winter.
And nature sleeps, as the darkness falls.

Chorus:
The trees, they slumber, deep roots are dreaming.
The trees, they slumber, deep roots are dreaming.
The trees, they slumber, deep roots are dreaming.
I’m listening to the winter’s sacred rest.

Verse:
The snow is falling, the earth is bless-éd.
The snow is falling, the earth is bless-éd.
The snow is falling, the earth is bless-éd.
The hope of spring, ye-et to come.

Chorus
The Circle is turning, we celebrate winter.
The Circle is turning, we celebrate winter.
The Circle is turning, we celebrate winter.
And nature sleeps, as the darkness falls.

The tune is ‘borrowed’ from a great and well-known traditional Irish Gaelic folk tune, Fear a’ Bhàta (The Boatman), see here for a link to the tune. It ‘fits’ the words quite well, but to give you a helpful prompt, for each verse and chorus above, the tune  starts at 10 seconds into the video and ends at 55 secs, with each verse/chorus, above, being a repetition of that.

‘No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.’ John Keating

Don’t worry about tune repetition, as many traditional Gaelic ballads were composed of simple, repetitive, but wonderful tunes.

And, finally…

If you want to (re-)read the first article in this Samhain preparation series and perhaps use that poetry in your own celebration, do check here: With Samhain In Mind: Winter Haiku.

Meanwhile, over the next two weeks there’ll be one or two more articles for Samhain and the start of the winter season to prepare you for an awesome celebration.

Much light and love to you and yours at this time, Tadhg

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.

 

Samhain. Celtic New Year[s Resolution]. Something To Do?

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Tonight heralds the beginning of winter, which is also the beginning of the ancient Celtic and Druid new year. New year equals New Years resolutions, and I’ve made a few resolutions.

But, what are your New Year’s resolutions?

If that question caught you on the hop, why not spend part of this evening, Saimhain, thinking about a few resolutions, after all tonight is all about reflecting on the past (and thinking of the ancestors) and is a looking forward.

‘Let go of what was and embrace what to be.’ Lailah Gifty Akita

Here’s some of mine:

wrestlers-pixabay-1-671958_960_720Sport to keep fit. I used to love playing squash, and it kept me fit. But, I got out of the habit. And, yes, I have put on a few kilograms of ‘relaxed muscle’, meanwhile. Now, I’m going to redouble my effort to take up a sport…starting this week.

Physical fitness, ofcourse, being important, and should be all part of our life-style balance. I need something to get the blood pumping (more). Okay, maybe not the sport pictured!

More meditation. I love the various forms of meditation – apophatic, kataphatic etc, and am going to spend some more time meditating for my own benefit. But, it occurred to me that others might like to know about meditation and creative visualisation, Imaginal thinking etc from a ‘doing’ point-of-view and reap the benefits, and so (alongside the new website which is just a couple of days away), I’m going to be organising some workshops and one-one-sessions for those interested in meditation, creative visualisation and the imaginal (probably starting mid November). Watch this space!

‘If you asked me for my New Year Resolution, it would be to find out who I am.’  Cyril Cusack

Study: As you know I love to read, and from a wide choice of themes and styles, but in addition, I’m going to ‘home in’ on one particular field of study for a while. Hmmm, but what genre? To do justice to this one, I’ll have to give it just a few more days of serious consideration. But, I promise not to let this resolution ‘drift’.

wood-100181_960_720Connectedness. I am going to redouble my effort to be aware of connectedness, and how that relates to me and nature, me and the past and present and future, me and others around me, me and the ‘others’ etc.

And, to ‘earth it’, in a practical way so that it does some tangible good. And, not just me, but how it relates to others relate to nature, animals, the spiritual dimension etc. Connectedness must be ‘two way’, otherwise its not really connectedness.

Practice forgiveness. I’m going to try to do better at forgiving. I don’t have a problem with this one, though I don’t want to boast as though I’m some super saint. It’s just that I am challenged when politicians say one thing this week and the opposite the next, and then declare, ‘I never said that’. So, I’m going to practice to be more forgiving, and ‘pinch myself’ at some times to look below that surface at the ‘inner person’. But, between you and me, I cant wait for 8/11/2016 to come and go. Lord, forgive me for wishing away time.

So, what are your New Year’s resolutions?

Something to do: So, grab a piece of paper and have pen poised. Have a beverage of your choice to hand, and in, say, twenty minutes write a few things that you would like to do, positively.

‘Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.’ Albert Einstein

You don’t have to reveal your resolutions. It’s just a good way to get you (and me) thinking about resolutions and doing something practical and good and wholesome, and starting it now.

Ofcourse, if you did want to comment, that would be good, or you can always email me: tadhg@tadhg.cymru

And, a Happy Samhain to you and those whom you love.

Tadhg

 

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Essential Celt: Samhain 2016. Something Of Its Meaning, And Resources

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Samhain is  wonderful festival ‘oozing’ with ancient Gaelic tradition and ‘magic’. Something you can participate in, wherever you are. Literally meaning the ‘end of summer’, it marks the advance of the season of winter. Various pronunciations abound, though I prefer ‘sow-in’, sounding like ‘soh-un’, but in Wales many pronounce it as ‘soh-een’; but, it’s definitely not ‘sam-hane’.

Winter advances: With daylight hours now becoming shorter, especially in northern latitudes, traditionally 1 November, the first day of winter, was designated as the time of this feast, though by our way of reckoning it’s the 31 October. The difference? Well, to ancient Celts, (Celtic) Christians, Druids and others, the new day started in the evening. So, the festival which falls on 1 November, is celebrated the evening before – hence the evening of 31 October (from our viewpoint).

Autumn ends, its the first day of winter.

‘The wind is full of a thousand voices
They pass by the bridge and me.’Loreena McKennitt, ‘All Souls Night’

Since ancient times it was seen as a feast of the dead, and today Hallow’een ‘competes’ with it. Hallowe’en? The name comes from ‘all hallows eve’. When Christianity arrived in Celtic countries, and the church discouraged fortune-telling, and magic etc, a day of celebration of all the Saints of the Church was instituted on 1 November. Many of our hallowe’en traditions, such as bobbing for apples which were originally part of the foretelling of the future, and the baking cakes containing “lucky tokens” also originated at this time, and survive to this day. In addition, and an import from America, it is a time for children (or all ages) to visit door-to-door dressed as something with a ‘deathly’ theme to it, to ‘trick or treat’.

A time to take stock: Samhain, then, was a time when farmers would take stock of their animals – which would live, and which would be killed, and a time to finally gather in (any) residual harvest; a time when local and tradition rituals would be enacted eg bonfires, and embers of these would be taken home as a form of protection; young men would run around the villages boundary with torches, again, for the villagers’ protection, as that night, many believed that the veil between this world and the world of the dead was ‘thin’, and something might (or did) come through for a while. It’s a time for the imagination to run riot, and for stories to be told.

‘Somewhere in a hidden memory
Images float before my eyes’.
Loreena McKennitt, ‘All Souls Night’

Whether you believe this factually, ‘romantically’ or not at all, the stories of that night, retold around a bonfire, perhaps, intrigued men and women, and (no doubt) frightened (hopefully in a ‘nice’ sense) many a child. Even today, the tv ‘lights up’, innocently, with many horror movies at this time of year to keep adults ‘mesmerised’.It’s a ‘thin’ time.

Taking stock? A ‘thinning’ of the veil between here and the other, ensures that this night, the evening of 31 October, is a feast, a celebration, a time of deep thought, a reflecting of the life of those that have gone before us.

Even in its simplest form – depending on your theology – it is a time to think about the ancestors, how they contributed to make us the person/people we are today, and to give thanks. A time to remember the ancestors in different, honouring ways. For me, reflection, thinking about the ancestors and the giving of gratitude to the Source of All predominates at this time.

Do something: Other will indulge in ritual, and though each may have a different way to acknowledge this feast, I enjoy the variety, enthusiasm and intentionality that my Christian, Celtic Christian, co-Druids, Wiccan and other friends put into this festival (even though, for some of it – not all – I am an observer). I have my own way, my own ritual to mark this time, and it may be that you do, too. My advice to you is: Do it! Be honest to yourself, be sincere and intentional, be joyful about it, but in some way (large of small, complicated or simple) observe the time, and make it something good, and wholesome, and memorable.

Do something to mark the time. Make it memorable.

Enjoy the feast: A bonfire might be out of the question, but how about lighting a candle, at least for 10-20 minutes and thinking of your ancestors in a joyful and honouring way? They’re home. You might now be able to run around then edge of a village, but how about an evening walk, a silent walk, of gratitude? Elementals? Here’s your opportunity to find our more about them – an evening when their activity is said to increase – and you can find a lot about them on the internet, but don’t make it only ‘book-learning’. Why not go for a county walk, or a walk in the park, or alongside a riverbank, and reflect? And, then perhaps, later, treat yourself to a meal, a glass of wine, and yes, even a good, scary movie?

Ofcourse, you might like a ritual of some sort or recite relevant poetry, or sing a song, and there are some resources below.

Resources: Here’s some resources that you might like to use to get you into the ‘mood’ of celebrating Samhain:

‘The circle is turning’ (poem and song lyrics) can be viewed here.

If you’re ‘brave’ enough to sing it, there’s a delightful melody (the tune of Fear a Bhata (The Boatman), a traditional Gaelic piece of music to accompany you: here. For the technically minded each of the verses start at 11 seconds, 57 seconds, 1 minute and 43 seconds, and 2 minutes and 31 seconds into the tune

Or, you might like to read (and recite) Rabbie Burns’ poem ‘Hallowe’en’, part of which is:

Upon that night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans dance,
Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the rout is ta’en,
Beneath the moon’s pale beams;
There, up the Cove, to stray an’ rove,
Amang the rocks and streams
To sport that night;

Loreen McKennitt’s  delightful song, ‘All Soul’s Night’ can be heard here.

And, finally, a traditional Scottish prayer:

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

Essential Celt: A Song/Poem For Samhain [‘The Circle Is Turning’]

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The Earth continues to move around the sun in it’s great circle, its orbit. The circle is turning.

Soon, with Samhain (pronounced like ‘sowin’ (with ‘ow’ like in ‘glow’*)) on 31 October/1 November – the Celtic new year – we will be leaving autumn and entering the season of winter. Winter, being that time when we look northward on the compass point, and reflect upon the earth, its blessing to us, it’s store. It’s a time when we brace ourselves for shorter days and longer nights, colder temperatures and harsher conditions, and maybe, even snow.

The circle is turning.

It is a time when trees are bare and the soil is naked. A time when little or nothing grows. A time of nature’s sleep. And yet, underground, in the womb of the earth, unseen, seeds slumber, and the hope of spring is contained therein.

Winter is a’coming, and the following poem heralds its approach.

The words below, a poem or liturgy for a Samhain ceremony, to celebrate the movement into winter, can be read or verbalised, but also sung to the tune ‘Fear a’ Bhàta’.

This wonderful traditional song, ‘Fear a’ Bhàta’ (pronounced ‘fair-ah vart-a’, and is translated as ‘The boatman)’, is a Scots Gaelic song from the late 18th century, and is sung by a woman who captures in the lament the emotions of a courtship now ended. Another understanding of the song is that is sung from the viewpoint of a fisherman’s wife waiting on the quayside, anxious for her husband’s fishing boat, long overdue, to return. She fears the worst. It is a song of sorrow, and yet expectation, and hope for the future.

The circle is turning.

The tune is a great one for the moving into winter. It is full of depth and pathos – click here for the tune – and the following poem ‘fits’ the tune (with a bit of manoeuvring). The poem/song:

– oOo –

The Circle is turning,
(and) autumn  becomes winter.

The Circle is turning,
(and) autumn  becomes winter.

The Circle is turning,
(and) autumn becomes winter.
And nature sleeps, as the darkness falls.

The trees, they slumber.
Deep roots are dreaming.

The trees, they slumber.
Deep roots are dreaming.

The trees, they slumber.
Deep roots are dreaming.
I’m listening to the winter’s sacred rest.

The snow is falling,
the earth is bless-éd.

The snow is falling,
the earth is bless-éd.

The snow is falling,
the earth is bless-éd.
The hope of spring, ye-et to come.

The Circle is turning,
(and) autumn becomes winter.

The Circle is turning,
(and) autumn becomes winter.

The Circle is turning,
(and) autumn becomes winter.
And nature sleeps, as the darkness falls.

– oOo –

If you listen to the tune and the abovementioned words don’t seem to ‘fit’, please email me.  I’ll then attempt to sing it, record it, and send a very simple acapella version of it to you – please request by email to me at: tadhg@tadhg.cymru

(I will gladly oblige, if you’re going to use it at Samhain or thereabouts, but please email only if necessary, to spare my blushes, as my singing isn’t that good).

(Note: * Their are several ways to pronounce Samhain. I’ve used the one I’m most familiar with).