A Hymn For Alban Hefin [Summer Solstice]: Revisited

20180530 A HYMN FOR ALBAN HEFIN REVISITEDThe Summer Solstice, known to the Druids of old in the Welsh language as ‘Alban Hefin’ (which means ‘the light of the shore’) is a few weeks away.

The words, based on ancient words, below, can be read as poetry or liturgy at the time of the solstice, or indeed, at any time. They can also be used as a song, which works well to the tune of ‘She moved through the fair’, a wonderful, otherworldly Gaelic, Celtic tune of old.

So, happy Alban Hefin to you and yours, and here is ‘A Hymn For Alban Hefin’ (albeit written by me last year and now repeated for this season).

Great Light above.
All hail the sun
from whom all life proceeds,
Oh Glorious One.
Unending, unbroken
you traverse the sky.
Turning night to day.
With joy we cry.

Unresting, unheeding
in beauty you shine.
Full of health and vigour
poured out like new wine.
For all humankind
your riches bestow
from heaven above
to the Earth below.

All life you create
in the circle of love.
And we celebrate
your end-less gifts.
Laud and honour
for-ever be,
to you Bless-ed One,
For-ever Three.

Great Light above.
All hail the sun
from whom all life proceeds,
Oh Glorious One.
Unending, unbroken
you traverse the sky.
Turning night to day.
With joy we cry.

Tune: ‘She moved through the fair’. For an instrumental version of that song, to familiarise yourself with the tune and to ‘fit’ the words above, do click on the following link. The first fifty-five seconds of the recording gives an outline tune to verse one and subsequent verses. [Tune link].

Words inspired by: Light’s Abode, Celestial Salem, attributed to Thomas á Kempis

 

 

Encountering The Òran Mór

20180226 ENCOUNTERING THE ORAN MORI’m sitting cross-legged, in a darkened room. Dark, save for one, small candle with its gentle flickering light projecting barely-seen shadows on the wall. It’s peaceful. I’m at rest.

Tonight my meditation is kataphatic – that is I’m going to use thoughts and ‘pictures’ from my imagination to be my ‘silent teachers’, and then in an unstructured way – that is non-directed, and I aim to be open to the Awen (pronounced by some as ar-wen; though I like the three syllable pronunciation, ah-(w)oo-ern), that Spirit of creativity known to ancient (and latter-day) Celts and Druids, and others (and known by various other names).

As I sit here, eyes closed, there is no sound except for the sound of the wind, outside. I’m back in London, and my small apartment is one of a few, that, like most modern architecture can be prone to ‘funnel’ the wind and create a sound – like that of a long moan. I love it. I can hear it now. The wind is blowing from the east, and it’s cold air. As I begin a time of quietness, it is nature reminding me that, even in the city, nature predominates.

My mind wanders, and I let it.

The mournful sound outside reminds me of a story I once heard when I was a child. The flickering candle light, even with my eyes closed, gently reminds me of the glow of the hearth as that story was told. My mind conjures up pictures of yesteryear, of childhood, of innocence.

My grandmother, would tell me that: In the beginning, and it varies between cultures, nothing existed. But all that is, was brought forth by a sound. Some call it the word or Word, others of a Celtic or Druidic persuasion call it the Òran Mór (some pronounce this Oran-mor, others oh-ran mohr). The words differ, but the wonderfully deep meaning persists.

Òran Mór, the Great Song or Great Music, song of the universe, was (and is) the continual love song of the Source of All, and through it everything that is, was brought into being, and continues because of the Òran Mór, my wise grandmother would say to me.

‘…while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy’. Job 38.7 The Book

Everything vibrates, my grandmother would remind me, and so everything is ‘dancing’ to the music of the Òran Mór. Then, the former was a difficult concept to understand as a child, but the latter was understandable. As a child I loved dancing. And so, Òran Mór is nature’s dance, such as a bird chirping, a frog croaking, leaves making a sound in trees when the wind blows, the sound of rain or the waterfall, our breath, a babies cry, our cells, and for those with scientific instruments to measure it, the very rocks and stars oscillate and participate in Òran Mór.

‘As you entered the world, your first independent action was to breathe, and then to make sound – the sound of your creation. Since then, each time you’ve made a sound you’ve re-created yourself’. Stewart Pearce, The Alchemy Of Voice

Oh, she was clever, if not confusing, especially to a wee lad to me, as I was then. I only partly understood then what my grandmother was saying about about the Òran Mór, but in remembering now, I can piece together much of what she said, and now understand it more so.

‘All things emanate from this Great Song of power that is spinning vibrantly through all life, from the microcosmic level of electrons, atoms…to the giant swath of whole galaxies…’, Frank MacEowan, The Mist-Filled Path

My grandmother would often ask me to listen out for the Òran Mór, as for us, it can also be heard as a barely audible whisper of wisdom, heard in nature, those ‘silent teachers’ or on the lips of others. Have you heard the Òran Mór as an audible sound, or as an inner whisper, or a paradoxical unheard ‘sound’ of inclusion that seems palpable, or through nature?

For humankind, we share in the ‘dance’ of the Òran Mór along with nature, but are blessed to acknowledge it – to be both part of it, and to ‘understand’ it (in part), objectively. In that sense our very words and singing can form part of the Òran Mór. Our breath has power. What a blessing to add to it. To be embraced by it. How important it is for us to speak words of ritual or ceremony, to speak positively to others, to utter gratitude, to sing or chant in groups or individually to nature and/or the Source of All. When we do so, we join in with the Song of the Universe, and the latter joins in with us. We become part of a magnificent cosmic symphony.

‘The Òran Mór is already within us waiting silently for the activation of our memory…The human soul enlivened with the Great Song becomes aware that it is a manifestation of the theophany of Creation…’ Frank MacEowan, The Mist-Filled Path

And so, often, my grandmother would send me out into her garden to listen. I have a feeling that it gave her time to attend to other things or to be by herself for a while, but it fascinated me – I was sent on an adventure to discover…who knows what?

When I returned she would ask me what I heard. And like the small child I was I would recite at breakneck speed, and without many pauses for breath, everything – listing the buzz of flies, the sound of birdsong, the bleat of a ragged sheep, the sound of thunder reverberating in nearby mountains, the sound of my footsteps, the sound of a babbling brook, the crack of a tree branch breaking nearby and falling from a great height, and the sound of an aircraft overhead.

‘And which of those was the Òran Mór?’, she would ask. ‘All of them?’, I would answer, hedging my bets and phrasing it as a question. ‘Ofcourse, all!’, she replied, and smiled as only she could.

I’m sitting here now in this darkened room, eyes half open, listening to my breath as those wonderful  ‘picture’ images of yesteryear disperse in my mind. The candle flame dances and splutters, as I realise that’s Òran Mór. The wind outside is howling like a ban-sidhe (pronounced bann-she), that’s Òran Mór, and as I sit here and chant then I, and you too, as you sing or chant or speak now or later, join in with the Òran Mór, and we add something valuable to the fabric of the Universe, and the Source of All joyfully sings with us.

‘And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and the loud rumbling of thunder. And the sound I heard was like harpists strumming their harps. And they sang a new song…’. Revelation 14:2-3a The Book

I blew out the candle flame. Sat cross-legged in the silence of the room, but still  hearing the howling, moaning sound of the wind outside. Yes, wherever we are, rural or urban centres, in a forest or an apartment block, we are reminded that Òran Mór is ubiquitous. It is with us now (though many would say the Òran Mór is personal, and so ‘it’ is not quite the word to use, but such is the limitation of language in dealing with major spiritual themes) . Even as you read this, rest assured that you and I, and all of creation are part of that glorious, ancient, powerful, connection that is the Òran Mór, the Great  Song.

 

Preparations For Winter Solstice 2017: Song: The Circle Is Turning

201711212 PREP FOR WINTER SOLSCTICE SONG THE CIRCLE IS TURNINGYes, it’s nearly that time again, the time of the winter solstice (for those in the northern hemisphere). Winter solstice takes place on Thursday, 21 December, this year (2017) – it’s the longest night, the shortest day: sunrise is at 8.04am,  which is all important for those wishing to celebrate this wonderful midwinter event.

‘Light can only be understood with the wisdom of darkness.’  Ka Chinery

In Wales it is known by its Druidic name, ‘Alban Arthan’, which is Welsh for ‘Light of Winter’. And so it is time of merriment around the camp or village fire for Celts, Druids, Welsh folk ancient and modern, a time to light candles in the darkest of times, and a time to acknowledge that deep in the earth the seeds of hope are becoming active, and that Light and spring are on their way. It is seen as a time of rebirth and renewal.

How will you celebrate the winter solstice?

Today, and over the next couple of days I’ll suggest a few ideas that you might like to consider for yourself if you will be celebrating alone, for your friends or family, of faith-group.

Kazran Sardick: ‘On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact mid-point, everybody stops and turns and hugs. As if to say, “Well done. Well done, everyone! We’re halfway out of the dark’. Dr Who,  A Christmas Carol

The following song is one you might like consider (a song, or maybe as poetry/liturgy). The words are contemporary,, that I penned last year for this time, but the tune is an old gaelic tune, known as of Fear a Bhata.

The tune fits the following song words well, and the tune is full of depth and pathos. You might like to listen to the tune and read through the words a few times before singing – but do have a go. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Our intentionality and ‘offering’ is what is important, as is to enjoy the experience in celebrating Light in the depth of darkness.

‘The light shines in the darkness… John 1:5a, The Book

The tune can be heard  here. The words ‘fit’ the tune (with a bit of manoeuvring) and starts at 11 seconds into the video).

But, here’s the words to the poem/liturgy/song:

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

There will be more ideas tomorrow. Meanwhile, blessings to you and yours, Tadhg

Hymn For The Full Moon: ‘Rising Moon, So High…’ [Hymn, Poem, Liturgy]

20170801 HYMN FOR THE FULL MOONIn just over a week there will be a full moon. I know that to ancient and latter-day Celtic-Christians, Druidic-Christians, Druids and others the full moon was and is significant. Some, today, may focus more on the new moon, but for me, it is the full moon (and without judging others) that is important for ritual and celebration, or for just taking time to pause and gaze up at it in awe.

To ancient Christians the full moon was significant, it being the indicator, even today, of when Easter should take place. Indeed, there are several Psalms which heap praise on the moon and the One behind it, as do current-day Celtic Christians, Druids and others. We, each may have different ‘theologies’ but each one of us gazes at the same moon, the Earth’s faithful ‘companion’ in wonderment at its splendour.

On several occasions in the recent past I’ve used old Gaelic tunes to new words to celebrate the major seasons, and today I’ve used an old English ballad that goes back at least 350 years – Scarborough Fair, see link below – to the following words penned by myself. If you wish to use the tune for a full moon ritual for your group or for yourself, please check the tune’s link. Or, perhaps, without the tune you might like to consider reading it as liturgy or poetry.

Rising moon, so high in the sky.
Your silv’ry light is seen far and wide.
You circle the earth for all to see-ee.
Your fulsome face does smile at me.

Mighty full moon, oh stay for a while.
Shining so warmly, your wisdom descends
to friends, to lovers, you are the ice-breaker.
Reflecting the light of the Moon-maker.

Your beauty touches my heart and my soul.
Oh, thou great moon so close and so bright.
In you I become but a child
bathed in your light, your light so mild.

Praise to you, our dear Sister Moon.
In heav’n you shine so precious and fair.
We celebrate this time of full moon.
Praising the Source, the Three in One.

The tune is: Scarborough Fair (click here for the tune). When you click on that link there is a short musical preamble, and then the tune starts at 12 seconds into video and ends at 47 seconds, and that tune can then be repeated four times for the four verses above.

Notes:
v1 was inspired and based on words of the first part of Dvorak’s ‘Song to the moon’ from the opera, Rusalka.
v2 was inspired and based loosely on words of Rumi’s ‘Behind the beauty of the moon….’
v3 was inspired by  William Henry Davies’ poem entitled ‘The Moon’
v4 was inspired by a few lines from St Francis’ ‘The Canticle of the Sun’, also known as Laudes Creaturarum, and Psalm 81:3 (The Book,), and ends with the ‘Trinitarian/Three-realm formula.
Photograph, above, copyrighted and used by kind permission of Pennie Ley (click here). Bless you.