Beltane 2020: Your Online Invitation & Order Of Ceremony. Sunday, 3 May

beltane 2020

Welcome.

The following is an outline of this Sunday’s online, video of the Beltane ceremony. And, you’re invited; and at home during lockdown you can participate and join in the liturgy as it happens, or just let in ‘sink’ deep, from your own home, either ‘live’ or as a recording. If you belong to a grove and would normally celebrate this time with them, please (if there is a ‘clash’ of times) give them priority so that everything is done with respect.

The video broadcast will appear on my Facebook site (see here). Please check that now if you’re in doubt about connecting later. If it doesn’t work, if you can’t gain access to my general Facebook site please subscribe/follow, and then try the link again to see if you can gain access then, in readiness for Sunday. [Note: if you can’t gain  full access ie you can’t see previous videos Gf any kind on my facebook site then press the friendship link on my Facebook site, and I’ll accept as soon as I can] then If you still can’t get access to my Facebook page(s), or if there’s any ‘challenges’, please email me, at: tadhgtemp@googlemail.com.

I haven’t found a way to put a docx link here to simplify things so please feel free to print out  the Order of the Ceremony for your own use. Meanwhile, it maybe best to just print out the following liturgy so you can participate, but erase this paragraph and the three above this, before doing so.

BELTANE 2020
Order Of Ceremony

Sunday, 3 May 2020, at 7.30pm (UK time)
Via Facebook video

GRACE GROVE, LONDON

For this ceremony you may need:

• A candle
• Safety matches
• Writing paper (if solo, at home)
• Pen or pencil (if solo, at home)

A CEREMONY FOR BELTANE
Kebius Rite

Intention And Preface
Today our intention is to celebrate the cross quarter day of Beltane – a Gaelic word meaning ‘bright fire’. Beltane is half way between the past spring equinox and the upcoming summer solstice. It is a ‘fire festival; the beginning of summer.

Some may have memories of dancing around the maypole; of seeing someone dressed as the May Queen and even as Lord of the May; of bringing wild flowers into the home; or of making daisy chains; or of lighting a bonfire. Some, may have memories of seeing someone dressed as Jack In The Green, a man covered in a wicker frame and foliage and who represented nature and The Green Man.

So, let our ceremony of the celebration of Beltane, the ‘bright fire’, begin.

Light the Beltane candle

On Rising

Blessed are you Source of All.
In your verdant welcome you spring from the earth,
and your loveliness heartens us and renews us.

The Source of All is Spirit, and those who worship the Source of All must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24, The Book, paraphrase)

Calling The Quarters
Calling the Quarters, as we turn in sequence to face the four cardinal compass points, helps us to become fully present so we can deeply connect to the world around us, and create safe and sacred space for us all, as community.

Facing East
Guardian of the East, Oh Ancient One of the air,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the wind.

All: We welcome you.

Facing South
Guardian of the South, Oh Ancient One of the fire,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the flame

All: We welcome you.

Facing West
Guardian of the West, Oh Ancient One of the waters,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the tides.

All: We welcome you.

Facing North
Guardian of the North, Oh Ancient One of the earth,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the land.

All: We welcome you

From the centre, perhaps adopting the orans posture
Guardian of all, Oh Ancient of Days,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with your power.

All: We welcome you.

Call For Peace
The call for peace is an affirmation that there is peace amongst us, our community, now; and that peace is offered to the world though not all embrace this today, but one day will do so.

Is there peace in the East?
All: There is peace in the East.

Is there peace in the South?
All: There is peace in the South.

Is there peace in the West?
All: There is peace in the West.

Is there peace in the North?
All: There is peace in the North.

Throughout the entire land there is peace.

The Ancestors Are Present With Us
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance… and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us… (Hebrews 12:1 pt, The Book)

Praise And Gratitude
Some of the following praises may be used:

Praise to you Gentle Breeze of the Spirit,
for you blow where you will.
I hear the sound of you but
know not where you come from
or where you go.
Let us be aware of your presence
as you breathe across our lives this day
though we can never grasp you.(Tess Ward)

Praise to you, Oh Supplier of air.
The wind rises as a mighty tempest and powers weather systems
and, yet as a gentle breeze, it moves leaves along the path.
Ebb and flow.

Praise to you, Oh Provider of fire.
The fire scorches the earth, from which new life emerges
and, yet as small and humble flame it gives heat and light to all.
Ebb and flow.

Praise to you, Oh Bringer of water.
The great seas maintain the planet’s life-equilibrium
and, yet in our homes it provides our daily, individual and essential needs.
Ebb and flow.

Praise to you, Oh Giver of earth.
The earth provides vast fields for the seed, from which nourishment grows,
and, yet it is a reminder of the great circle of life, and death, and new life.
Ebb and flow.
(Tadhg Jonathan)

O most noble greenness, rooted in the sun,
shining forth in streaming splendour upon the wheel of the Earth.
No earthly sense or being can comprehend you.
You are encircled by the very arms of Divine mysteries.
You are radiant like the red of dawn.
You glow like the incandescence of the sun.
(Hildegard of Bingen, English version by Jerry Dybdal and Matthew Fox)

Most High, all powerful, Source of All,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honour, and all blessing.
Praised be you, though all your creatures,
through Brother Sun,
through Sister Moon and the stars,
through Brother Wind,
through Sister Water
through Brother Fire,
through Sister Mother Earth.
(Francis of Assisi, Canticle of the Sun, except/adapted)

Praise to you Maker of the Summerland,
who sends the sunshine, bringing ease and light.
Praise for the outside days with doors and windows open,
neighbours’ music, children playing…
when the birds sing out the pleasure of ordinary all through the day.
For loving all under the sun, praise to you.
(Tess Ward, except)

The Work: Beltane (adapted for home/distant participation)
The Great Circle moves on, and as the Earth turns around the Sun so we celebrate Beltane. It is a day when farm animals would have been be released into the fields, and was the time associated with the fecundity of nature, of fertility, growth and maturity, and Of new ideas.

Do take a few minutes to think deeply, silently of all that we have to be thankful for at this time of Beltane, and for all that we wish to bring to fruition – these can be our wishes and dreams, our goals or projects, or a prayer for ourselves and others, for nature etc. If at home, solo, you might like to write your thoughts on paper. Music can be played here for two to three minutes.


Various Prayers of Request

Some of the following prayers may be used:

Life-force of God, you make the sap to rise,
the swelling of bud to burst the sheath.
May we let the fruits of your Spirit grow in us this day.
Spirit of love abide in our ears as we listen to stories different to our own.
Spirit of joy beam in our eyes as we meet the gaze of another.
Spirit of peace breathe through our attitude.
Spirit of kindness blow through the words we speak.
Spirit of patience breeze across our frustration before we say or act.
Spirit of faithfulness guard us when we’re tempted to stray.
Spirit of generosity spill over in all we think or do or say.
Spirit of gentleness be fragrant in all our dealings with the world.
Spirit of self-control do no limit, but channel the abundance of your fruits
as we partake in your transforming ways blowing through this day/time.
(Tess Ward, adapted)

Creator God, forgive our moments of ingratitude,
the spiritual blindness that prevents us
from appreciating the wonder that is this world
the endless cycle of nature,
of life and death and rebirth.
Forgive us for taking without giving,
reaping without sowing.
Open our eyes to see,
our lips to praise,
and our hands to share.
May our feet tread lightly on the path we tread
and our footsteps be worthy of following
for they lead to You.
(Unknown)

Earth teach us freedom
as the eagle which soars in the sky.
Earth teach us regeneration
as the seed which rises in the spring.
Earth teach us to forget ourselves
as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach us to remember kindness
as dry fields weep with rain.
(Ute prayer, adapted)

In our waking, be blessing us,
in our journeying, be keeping us,
in our working, be helping us,
in our sleeping, be watching us,
in our living, be guiding us,
in our dying, be receiving us.
(Unknown)

Creator of All, grant us the wisdom to care for the earth and till it.
Help us to act now for the good of future generations and all your creatures.
Help us to become instruments of a new creation,
Founded on the covenant of your love.
(The Cry of the Earth, adapted).

Relevant Words
Some of the following sentences may be used here:

We too can begin a new life, one that brings satisfaction and enrichment, whether this is by singing, dancing, running through the waves, walking barefoot on the grass… Perhaps your dreams are greater than this, or perhaps more conservative, but whatever they are, Beltane is a wonderful time for expressing who you truly are. (Carole Carlton)

Ah! my heart is weary waiting, Waiting for the May: Waiting for the pleasant rambles, where the fragrant hawthorn brambles, with the woodbine alternating, scent the dewy way; Ah! my heart is weary waiting, waiting for the May. (Denise Florence McCarthy)

If it could only be like this always – always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe… (Evelyn Waugh)

Smell the sea, and feel the sky. Let your soul and spirit fly. (Van Morrison)

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. (John Steinbeck)

We are all part of the Earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the dew of the meadow, the body heat of the pony and humankind – all belong to the same family.
(Chief Seattle, 1786-1866, Attributed, adapted)


Closing The Quarters

Facing East
Guardian of the East, Oh Ancient One of the air,
we thank you for your presence with us today.

All: We thank you.

Facing South
Guardian of the South, Oh Ancient One of the fire,
we thank you for your presence with us today.

All: We thank you.

Facing West
Guardian of the West, Oh Ancient One of the waters,
we thank you for your presence with us today.

All: We thank you.

Facing North
Guardian of the North, Oh Ancient One of the earth,
we thank you for your presence with us today..

All: We thank you.

From the centre, perhaps adopting the orans posture
Guardian of all, Oh Ancient of Days,
we thank you for your presence with us today..

All: We thank you.

Final Blessing

As we close the ceremony the work here is finished, and yet it still goes on in our mind, body and spirit, as we revel in nature’s bounty and the One behind It All.

One of the final blessings may be used:

May the blessing of the red sun as it sinks below the horizon be yours.
May the blessing of orange, the colour of flame and hearth be yours.
May the blessing of the wild, green earth and all life be yours.
May the blessing of the blue sea and wind which calls forth waves upon it be yours.
May the blessing of indigo, the twilight colour of change and coolness be yours.
May the blessing of violet, the colour of majesty and might be yours.
And may all the colourful blessings of the God + Of The Rainbow be upon you and yours, now and always
(Tadhg Jonathan, The Rainbow Blessing)

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak to mind your life.
(John O’Donohue)

Deep peace of the running wave to you,
deep peace of the flowing air to you,
deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
deep peace of the shining stars to you,
deep peace of the Son of peace + to you (and yours), forever.
(Unknown. Early Scottish)

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
(Old Celtic Traveller’s blessing)

Extinguish the Beltane candle

Copyright © 2020 Tadhg Jonathan Gardner. All rights reserved. Email: tadhgtemp@googlemail.com

The Night Of Long Shadows: 2. More Thoughts

20191207 THE NIGHT OF LONG SHADOWS 2 MORE THOUGHTS

At the time when the world seems to come alive, at Christmas time, when the glare of neon fills the shops, ‘tumbles’ of out the tv in the shape of even more ‘over the top’ tv adverts, and store music seems altogether louder, this time of the year can make some people, the bereaved, those celebrating anniversaries or Christmas alone, feel even more lonely.

“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.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other”
doesn’t make any sense.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

[Rumi]

I’m not convinced, and it’s a personal thought, that many of those people want to be continually despondent, and they do acknowledge the gaiety of the season around them, it’s just that they may need some acknowledgement of their deep feelings and need for someone to hold space for them, and the ‘Night Of Long Shadows’ service may be the vehicle to assist them. See here for the #1, earlier article.

I had hoped to organise such an event this year, but the response has been somewhat low (and there are a number of understandable reasons for that) and many churches already had their programs arranged.

Relevant to you? Read on.

Nevertheless the following may be of use to you in planning a group event, or an event for yourself – you can still benefit, I believe, from the article, even if it’s to offer one-to-one comfort to a bereaved person. You might be just the person the Universe, ‘That Which Is Bigger Than Us’, The Source uses tomorrow?

So, what follows are thoughts about the shape of such a service, a plan with suggestions, that can be downsized and adapted if it is for a ‘solitary’ event with one person, or ‘up-scaled’ and adapted should there be a dozen or more people attending. Notes are included as to the rationale behind suggestions.

‘And when the stream that overflows has passed,
A consciousness remains upon the silent shore of memory;
Images and precious thoughts that shall not be
And cannot be destroyed.’

[William Wordsworth]

The following, then is an idea:

The Welcome

The environment might be one of subdued lighting. A few candles could be lit to welcome people, and project an other-worldly setting for a sacred-space, liminal encounter. Welcoming and being made comfortable is all-important.

If it’s for a group, then the celebrant would remember their two key roles. Firstly, to explain at the beginning and as the service progresses what is about to happen, to put people at ease, and so there are no unwelcome surprises. Secondly, to be sympathetic to those attending and to encourage them in their grief to participate and so benefit. They are, ofcourse, our primary concern, and some maybe want to just sit and watch – but they too are benefiting.

The atmosphere and tone of voice by the celebrant should reflect the occasion – one of a welcoming tone to draw alongside the bereaved person(s) and yet celebrating the life of those who have passed-on, but without any ‘over-solemnity’. Be natural, be understanding, be yourself.

Going Deep

In such an event we move from ‘clock time’ into ‘sacred-space’ time. Liminality ushers us into an altered state. This may sound jarring to some, but it just means we acknowledge that we have gone, and are going deeper into the real meaning of things – and similar happenings occur when we witness a christening, a wedding or major event. It’s a ‘magical’ time. We move out of the mundane, into the sacred.

‘Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints in the snow…’

[Mary Elizabeth Frye]

Music, particularly background music can assist us, to ensure our souls to ‘fly’, and move us into that liminal state where things happen. Music takes us deep(er). For me, I love Taize chants which have profound words and amazing harmonies (but if you didn’t want words sung or specifically Christian words sung, then Taize instrumentals are amazing (and a long sample of that can be found here).

The nature of this service is to ensure the group know what to expect, and to know what is expected of them, but to keep them in the ‘moment’, and so some forethought of what happens next and how to announce i,t and introduce it are important. Here, ‘unhurried’ is my favourite word.

At the very end of the event, musicwise, as it is Christmas time, as people file out, perhaps a seasonal song could be played. A moving ending such as ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’ by Enya (see here) is a wonderful finale. For those wanting an instrumental version only, the Piano Guys have a wonderful version [here].

Tributes

It could be that some might want to share anecdotes about their loved-ones. They should be encouraged. No one should feel coerced or forced. Gentle invitations to share can be given, and accepted, even if some get tongue-tied, tearful or use words that we might feel inappropriate. The bereaved person needs to be heard – this is their time – and all are accepted.

‘I’d like the memory of me
to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an afterglow
of smiles when [the] day is done.’

[Helen Lowrie Marshall]

At some point early on some might like to display photograph copies of their loved-ones on an altar or table for the duration of the service. They would need some advanced noticed to bring copied photographs, and copies are best for fear of original, old, memorable photographs getting damaged or lost.

Also, if pebbles and chalk is available, some might like to write their loved-ones name on a pebble at some time during the event, and place it on the altar or table. The memorial stones or pebbles are a wonderfully profound idea. Or messages or loved-ones names could be written on post-it notes and displayed.

Honesty

Getting the balance just right is important. Feelings with be raw in some people, and need to be expressed – and yet the event should not be without hope.

Several things spring to mind. Interspersed throughout the event comforting readings can be made, and read out by pre-arrangement, so ensuring that you have a few people who can assist you is important. Such readings could be from sacred text or uplifting poems, the kind used throughout this article.

Silences will abound, and these can be cathartic, so never be in a hurry to fill them with words or music. Yet, be sensitive, and do move the event on if it feels right.

Comforting

By prearrangement it might be best, to have several people primed and able to sit alongside, or move to those who become tearful.

Comforting words, could be used:

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.’ John 14:1-3

‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ Matthew 11:28-30

One of my favourite uplifting poems (and it can be adapted) is by Henry Van Dyke, entitled ‘I am standing by the seashore’.

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says;
“There, she is gone!”

“Gone where?”
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, “There, she is gone!”
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout;
“Here she comes!”

Other comforting words can be found in the writings of Seneca, ‘In the presence of death’; ‘No man is an island’ by John Donne; ‘The unknown shore’ by Elizabeth Clarke Hardy etc

Conclusion

Ofcourse, the abovementioned is but an outline, and will need adapting for a larger group or for yourself, if you want to celebrate the life of a loved-one at this time, in a solitary manner. Adaption and sensitivity is important.

Perhaps the final corporate act would be closing music, as mentioned earlier, proceeded by an announcement to those that wish to stay, to stay for refreshments and conversation, are encouraged to do so. As regards the latter it would be good to have several mature and sensitive people on hand to draw alongside those taking up the offer of refreshments, and to engage in polite conversation. For some attending, even that, may be too much. But some may welcome it. Additionally, it might be good to have other people available that could go deeper still, only if requested, and then comforting words and prayer can be offered.

Even then, it is imperative for those on hand to know their role is to hold space, to draw alongside the bereaved person, and that listening is absolutely necessary. Many of those who are bereaved will appreciate you and others listening to them. Our role is not to ‘fix’ people, but to be there for them.

‘Grieve for me, for I would grieve for you.
Then brush away the sorrows and the tears.
Life is not over, but begins anew,
with courage you must greet the coming years…’

[Navaho prayer]