Surrounded By A Great Cloud Of Witnesses…Thoughts About Samhain 2018

20181102 GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES THOUGHTS ABOUT SAMHAIM 2018

I’m back at Capel Curig in north Wales just for two or three days. The weather is changing, and the mornings and evenings are particularly cold, and I love it.

At this time of year, mist rolls off the mountains in the distance and as you walk about so water droplets cling to the skin and clothes almost unawares. It’s a wonderfully refreshing experience: in essence I’m walking in a cloud of a myriad water particles.

Near the end of my garden is an old gnarled elder tree. It lives up to its name. It must be the oldest tree around here by far, it is an Elder elder. Underneath its branches there’s a bench seat, and that is where I am now, with the sun about to rise, sitting, embraced by a cloud, somewhat cold but enjoying it, pondering the last few days.

‘For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone….Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life’. Herman Hesse

The sacred elder tree is, by some, thought to be the home of the Elder Mother, and as guardian of the tree she is a type of genius loci, the spirit of the place. In Germany the elder tree is also sacred and associated with Frau Holda, who, it is said, brings the souls of unborn babies from that place where they initially reside, to soon-to-be-pregnant mothers, and looks over and protects both. I like that idea. Each one of us still has the Elder Mother or Frau Holda looking out for us, or perhaps she is known by another name to some? Our guadian angel, perhaps?

Yes, the elder tree is a gateway, a prompt, between realms and is about life.

It is said that sleeping beneath the elder tree might result in access to the other realm(s) in dreams, though in Ireland caution was employed as it was said that, sometimes, one could be physically transported by the fae – yes, bodily ‘away with the faeries’!

But, I’m not sleeping, just meditating deeply, day-dreaming about the last few days, and the happy memories I have. I’m content.

With my eyes half closed, and now quite warm (layers, always wear layers when it’s cold), and being quite comfortable on a well-worn bench seat, with the tree trunk forming a back rest, I go even deeper into my thoughts, and the physical world seems, momentarily, less of a priority.

Ah, wonderful thoughts bubble up, and my heart really does leap for joy.

Samhain is the end and the beginning, and the last year has been wonderful. That’s not to say it has been one long peak experience for me, for family and friends I know. It has been a challenge in part. Some of you will know that what I joking called ‘man flu’ last March turned out to be pneumonia, which resulted in eleven days in hospital. A tough, painful time, but joy, real joy. Our joy doesn’t depend on our circumstances but on our response. True, I’d rather not repeat that experience of pneumonia but I learned from it, and was introduced to the wonderful UK NHS ‘free at the point of need’ health care service, and the ‘angels’ who staff it. A cause for joy!

‘Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day’. Henri Nouwen

Looking back, a time of reflection can be very cathartic, but Samhain is also about looking ahead. The year ahead will, no doubt have its ups and down for you and me, but my prayer is that we seek out the good and learn in all things, and respond with joy.

Deeper thoughts bubble up as I sit here. Samhain is that time when we think of the ancestors, that time when the veil is unusually thin and the Other Realm is palpable. In days of old, and as a great story-telling time around the village or camp fire, many would be told of spirits crossing over, and it’s from there that we get children (and adults), at Halloween, dressing as Frankenstein, zombies or ghouls. Yes, Hollywood has a lot to answer for, but its fun. But, at this time my mind wanders to the ancestors.

‘Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.’ Rumi

In my imaginal state I think of all my ancestors. To call it the family tree is apt, because that is what is must look like – and if we form branches, then those that went before form thicker branches, and the trunk and even the roots. We’re here because of them. Co-incidentally (if such a concept exists) the elder tree behind me groaned as a sudden gust of wind caught its high branches. And, then my thoughts turn to my late parents – my dear mum and dad, and Colin my brother who died at birth, and grandparents and others who have ‘passed on’, and I am flooded with gratitude for them all. I am comforted knowing that they, and others, are in the Summerlands, in Jannah, in Valhalla or Fólkvangr, Caer Wydyr (the glass fortress), or heaven.

Ofcourse, from my understanding of theology the ancestors are always with us – but ceremonies and times such as Samhain are useful reminders.

And, still my mind wanders. Ah, Samhain celebrations.

A week ago I was in the Portsmouth area for a meeting, and it was my privilege and joy to witness a Samhain celebration, there. One always hopes that in going somewhere new, in passing through, one is always included in a ritual, and that certainly was the case there.

‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight…’ Hebrews 12.1a, The Book

I was greeted by a wonderful group of people at Hilsea Lines, was encouraged to fully participate (as much as I wanted), and witnessed an awesome, moving and great, relevant celebration, with people who were passionate about what they were doing – and when one or two needed prompting, others were supportive and loving, and a little bit of laughter ensued, but, ’laughing with’ and not ‘laughing at’. In my mind, as I recollect that rather cold day, last Sunday, I experienced warmth and love, inclusion and acceptance. And, yes, one could feel the ancestors there, looking on, joining in. It was a wonderful, deep, thought-provoking celebration.

Just as we are connected to our ancestors, so we are connected to each other.

‘When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.’ John Muir

And so, with the sun peeking above the horizon, I open my eyes, and walk back to Ty Gwin, my little cottage, for breakfast. As I do, so that cloud of water droplets collects in my hair, on my skin, and on my clothes, so much so, that by the time I enter the boot room of the cottage, ‘I’m fair soaked’. Surrounded by invisible droplets of water in that cloud that I walked though I got wet. As we go through life, and Samhain is a good reminder, we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, the ancestors. We are all connected in space and time, and in ‘realmic’ ways we can only now imagine.

Wonderful Samhain, All Souls/All Saints Day.

Tadhg,On The Road To Portsmouth: Samhain, Land-Healing & More

20181025 TADHG ON THE ROAD TO PORTSMOUTH

I am a man on a mission. I’m now in Portsmouth (in England), and despite a need, earlier, to call the car break down service, and whoever thought that the immobiliser on the car would immobilise without a care, delay the journey by ninety minutes, and be rectified by a step that, with the appropriate computer ‘strapped’ to the car engine was as simple as ‘turning it off and turning it on), my view about this weekend began to change, but I’m here.

The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air (Elvish translation). Much that once was is lost; for none now live who remember it…. The Lord Of The Rings 

The mission?

This weekend I aim to conduct yet another small ritual regarding the healing of the land, but also will meet some rather interesting people and witness their Samhain event this Sunday.

I have now conducted two rituals, spoken the same words twice, and buried a small rock of rainforest Jasper in two locations. This weekend the ritual, the words, that action with a small rock of rainforest jasper will take place in Portsmouth, and it is both, indeed, exciting and necessary.

Is it necessary to travel to special or sacred places, is it a ‘must’? 

I don’t believe it is necessary. The good work of healing the land can be done by anyone reading this, wherever they are. Intentionality, is important. But sometimes, when an effort to travel isn’t made, sometimes we forget to do that event. Too easy, and the needs of daily living crowd in  and drown out our good, proposed works. Perhaps, that’s one reason why travelling to special  places – such as Portsmouth, for me – can be beneficial. There are none of the usual daily interruptions.

In conducting this ritual my mind is unsettled  because there is a genuine and real need to heal this land (of the United Kingdom, but isn’t it the same elsewhere?). It is not only the physical land that is sick (and made worse by fracking and a general disdain for all that is green in the pursuit of corporate greed), but there is a sickness in our institutions.

Doesn’t it feel like things have changed? That does seem to be my perception. Oh, they always have been changing, little by little, but now it seems more so, or that we’ve crossed some invisible ‘line’ and have lost something. The world is changed.

People are worried. People are seeking. People are asking questions. What do you think?

This ritual will encompass the thought that healing is needed in the land of elements, and healing is needed in the realm of human affairs and activity. This isn’t a rant about Brexit (which is actually something I am most worried about, and desire the least), but about admitting that there is a need for something to change and it has to start with us. 

‘If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.’ Mahatma Gandhi

Our rituals, sacred words and actions, our prayers, positive energy, light and love, our visualisation and imaginal times, are the best place to start, can reap wondrous effects, and can (and some might say,  should) lead to (physical) action in the world to promote peace in its widest and fullest sense.

‘Where there is no vision, the people perish….‘ Proverbs 29.18a, The Book

For many Druids and others Samhain (pronounced soh-uhh) marks the death of one year and the beginning of the new year. If so, what is your vision for the new year?

Whatever good things you have committed to do in your life, in large ways and small, in healing the land, Samhain is a good time to (re-)start. Your ritual, sacred words, imaginal visualisations, your prayers and positive-energy sending, may seem odd, unfamiliar or seem even small, but it is a start, and we have more power at our disposal than we can ever imaginal. And, then action – the need to put our thought into action – is imperative.

I am sitting in the bedroom of a person who, a few hours earlier, I didn’t know (and thank you Airbnb), having been ‘rescued’ earlier by two car breakdown staff, and will this weekend meet some fine people and witness a Samhain event with them,  and cannot but wonder: the working today for a common, good, goal, the serving of each other in love, and being there for each other, the working out of something new has already started.

For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now…[and] even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption… Romans 8.22-23 (part), The Book.

Change is in the air, we can feel it. But, just as a new life rises from the embers of the burnt Phoenix, as the Paschal Triduum shows us that that darkest Friday was eclipsed by Easter Sunday, just as a woman enduring a painful labour will give birth to new life, so we be can be part, no actually we are, part of something wonderful, already. Sometimes to get a better view of what is happening we need not use our eyes.

Ofcourse, this is not to minimise the stresses we find in the land, in human institutions and in our daily, individual lives,  but a reminder that sometimes it is often darkest before the dawn. In many cases we just need a different perception.

Samhain is that time, ‘borrorwed’ by some who will dress up and trick or treat for Hallow’een, when we think of the ancestors. Who they are, where they are will change from one persons view to another. Perhaps, sometimes we are all in need of a change of perception. Even then, in thinking of the ancestors, I try to imagine a tree and look back at all the ancestors I know, realising that someone in a hundred years time may do the same and then I’ll be included in their family tree as they look back, and so, in my mind’s eye I turn to look to the future and imagine them. I know that may seem crazy to some, but I enjoy that exercise, and do believe the way forward is in a change our perception in our daily lives, our land and land use, and in our human institutions.

[Humans] ‘look separate because you see them walking about separately. But then, we are so made that we can see only the present moment. If we could see the past, then of course it would look different. For there was a time when every man was part of his mother, and (earlier still) part of his father as well: and when they were part of his grandparents. If you could see humanity spread out in time…it would not look like a lot of separate things dotted about. It would look like one single growing thing- rather like a very complicated tree’. C S Lewis

 

 

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).