Ritual & More Cosmic Consequences

20170525 RITUAL AND MORE COSMIC CONSEQUENCES AT NEW MOON1There is a new moon tonight, and being a new moon I’m afraid you won’t see much, if anything at all. It may be best, like many of the ancients did of old, to declare that tomorrow is the night of the new moon as then a sliver of the moon, forming a wonderfully bright arc will be evident, hanging  in the southern sky. Yes, for the next couple of days all this lunar activity will be viewable only from the southern hemisphere (and, maybe from equatorial locations).

New moon’s, seen or not, however, are a great time for ritual.

‘Ritual is the passage way of the soul into the Infinite.’ (Algernon Blackwood)

As an aside, and for the astronomers amongst you, tonight or tomorrow’s new moon will be lunation (number) 1168. [That’s 1,168 new moons since they were formally recorded and counted in astronomical almanacs.  Lunation 1 occurred at 02:41 UTC, on 17 January 1923.]

However, more exciting, is the view that new moon’s are seen by many as a time of ‘energising’, of new strength for projects, and of new beginnings, a time for rituals, as it the first day of the new lunar month.

‘…humans do have a remote control, granting us more power than we’ve ever imagined’. (Richard Rohr).

Yesterday, having mentioned the ‘inner’ effect of ritual, and the way it changes us – and that might be what is needed, as in coping with a traumatic event, or making vows of initiation or betrothal etc – I wanted now to explore ritual further. Ritual has far reaching  ‘ external’ consequences, and perhaps, more so at the time of the new moon. True, ritual has an ‘inner’ effect, but there’s more. Mae mwy (as we say in Wales)

Ritual has an external effect, too, as we enter liminality, that sacred time-space, what Richard Rohr calls ‘access[ing] the bigger field’.

We might all be aware of the First Nation peoples of America and their ritual dances for rain, but what about other peoples and ‘tribes’ and their rituals for averting a future calamity, sending light to a ‘darkened’ corner of this world, seeking protection for oneself or another, seeking healing for another, invoking energy through a fire ritual, giving a blessing by the sprinkling of water, a funeral ritual or prayer to commend a loved-one ‘into’ Bliss? All these are rituals with an external and far-reaching effect.

Personally, I do believe ritual and liturgy, founded on intentionality, has an effect. I’ll go out on a limb and say that this is because it doesn’t really depend on us. The power and effectiveness comes from the Source of All, and we are vital and necessary intermediaries.

Some may want to perform a ritual that prescribes a desired outcome in great detail, others are more vague, and some leave the ‘how to’ to the Source of All. That’s okay. I have no ‘challenges’ in performing a solo or group ritual to effect a distant (and sometimes, requested) outcome. Infact, I would encourage you and others to do so, as you feel led, to perform rituals for other places and lands, other people, drought areas, the precious eco-system and (against) animal extinction etc. All much needed.

Can I prove an outcome is as a result of my (or someone else’s) ritual? No, I can’t.

‘Despite the absence of a direct causal connection between the ritual and the desired outcome, performing rituals with the intention of producing a certain result appears to be sufficient for that result to come true.’ (Scientific American, 14 May 2014)

Those that undertake ritual practices do so because they, we, believe they have an effect – seen or unseen, immediate or delayed – but, nevertheless, they have an effect. Not all share that belief. If for one moment we, or they, believe that if it has no effect, then why do it?

That begs the question: if ritual and those other practices have an effect, then why’ do’ anything else, as all work is unnecessary? And, if we believe ritual has no effect then why do it, but rather why not only concentrate on doing a physical work or task, instead? Ritual or work?

Here’s a way forward.

‘Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.’ (St Augustine)

The two options need to be held in ‘balance’ or tension. One without the other is ineffective.  Personally, I believe that ritual is effective and work or a task to lead toward it, is necessary too.  And so, we can adapt St Augustine’s wise words to read: Perform a ritual as though no work would accomplish it; work towards an outcome as though no ritual would accomplish it.

It’s both ritual and work!

‘Ceremonial observance adds lucid layers — depth, dimension, drama and distinction — to our lives…When we set aside the quality time and claim the psychic space for ceremony, when we assume the authority to do so, we are able to transform our perceptions, our perspectives, our experiences, and in the process, our reality.’ (Donna Henes)

Note: Photo, above, used by kind permission of Pennie Ley, Copyright holder. All rights reserved, 2017

Remember Manchester. Tadhg’s Journal & A Call!

20170523 Remember Manchester JOURNALRemember Manchester.

Today is one of those days when I feel ‘flat’ and want to write little. Do you experience that kind of energy-less, kick -in-the-pit-of-the-stomach feeling, that lethargy at the arrival of sad news?

Today I’m thinking of all those innocent people in Manchester last evening: men and women, and dear children out enjoying themselves, laughing and joking, enjoying life, and someone then cuts short his life, and takes more than twenty people with him.

So sad.

And, what about the grieving family and friends? Today, parents will be without their children, children without parents, and so it goes on. Loss.

Remember Manchester.

Unfortunately, that kind of atrocity has gone on since time began, and it happens in other parts of the world. That doesn’t make it easier, though, for those grieving today.

What should our reaction be?

Hate? Revenge? Kill the murderers and snuff out one life before he, or she, takes many? Impose curfews. Dehumanise migrants? Arm citizens? Build a wall (physical or psychological)? Give into fear? To do any of that gives in to those who value life so little. To do any of that makes us no better than the murderer(s). To do that…gives in.

Perhaps our first thoughts should be with the grieving, and to remember them. To send them light, positivity, power and our prayers. Yes, them, first. Is that something we can do – I sincerely ask my Light-worker friends, Celtic Christians, Druids and others. Isn’t it times like this that ‘tribal names’ and distances between us mean little, and love and common humanity means much more? Yes.

Remember Manchester.

Our second thought? To go that one step extra, and show love. Not only love to the lovely, those like ‘us’, and those of our ‘tribe’ in our daily lives, but those others that some deem unlovely and different. Yes, it has to be love for all.

If bad or evil can be represented by darkness, it is not overcome with (more) darkness. Only light overcomes darkness, and the ‘weapons’ of light are wholly different to those of darkness.

‘The most precious light is the one that visits you in your darkest hour!’  Mehmet Murat ildan

The clouds may be hanging over that darkened city now, and for now in your rituals, and prayers and actions, I would ask you please: send light to Manchester. Please….

Remember Manchester.

 

Encountering Silent Teachers: That Ancient Oak Tree / Coeden Dderw Hynafol

20170517 ENCOUNTERING SILENT TEACHERS

Go out, go out I beg you
and taste the beauty of the wild.
Behold the miracle of the earth
with all the wonder of a child.
{Edna Jaques]

Near the perimeter of my garden in north Wales, before you reach the rivulet which is the unannounced boundary of my garden, just 20 yards/meters short of it is a wonderful, old, somewhat gnarled oak tree, standing slightly apart from other trees. Of all the trees in the garden, it is the oldest and most majestic, commanding respect from all.

My grandmother called it ‘coeden dderw hynafol’ (pronounced ‘goh-dun dare-ooh hin-af-foll’, which is Welsh for ‘ancient oak tree’, and that’s what I’ve always called it.

Interestingly, the word Druid, also comes from that Welsh word, dder, pronounced ‘dare-ooh’, for oak, and shows the high esteem that that tree was, and still is, held by them.

Oh, coeden dderw hynafol is a sight to behold. Even when ‘speaking’ to it in English, I’ve always addressed it, as though by a title, by its name in Welsh. I want to be respectful, after all.

Whether one believes that it has a dryad, an associated elemental, a spirit (or a spirit in the metaphorical or romantic sense), or wishes to personify or anthropomorphise this splendid tree, that is beside the point in many respects. It (still) has a presence, a nobility about it, and as it creaks and ‘moans’ in the wind it seems to ‘smile’ and declare to me and others that it was here long before we were born, and…and, yes, it will be here long after we’ve shuffled off this mortal coil.

It is a tree that evokes awe and humility in equal measure.

And so, there I was…nothing on tv….slowly walking, barefoot, toward coeden dderw hynafol at some time shortly after 11.30pm. There was hardly any light, the air was damp and cold – such is springtime in north Wales at this time of night – and the faint outline of  coeden dderw hynafol was etched, flat, without three dimensions apparent, against the dark, cloud-filled sky. The clouds seeming somewhat low and moving briskly, caught by an easterly wind.

I sat on the log just under the outstretched arms of the coeden dderw hynafol, and waited. The wind picked up and it started to rain, and the desire to run back indoors and avoid the rain was almost overpowering. Almost.

‘Only when we stop…do the stones begin to speak’. Mark Nepo

I love the rain, and though there was part of me that didn’t relish the thought of getting drenched, the ‘dominant’ inner voice was content just to let nature take its course. Any, why not? And so I sat on that log, gazing at coeden dderw hynafol and got drenched. Fortunately, there was no one around, and neighbours live some distance away,  so no one noticed my apparent foolishness.

Coeden dderw hynafol creaked, and groaned as it swayed in the wind, ‘moaned’ as the wind caught the top of its branches, and it provided only momentary shelter from the rain – its leaves now conveying downward all the rain it had ‘collected’. But, I will let you into a secret: it felt wonderful.

As I sat there with rain running down my forehead, onto my nose and running off the end of it, this ancient oak tree taught me: that regardless of what forces impact upon it, it stands. When buffeted it moves just a little, is pliable, and doesn’t stand so rigid that it breaks. Oh no. It ‘gives’ just a little. The noise it made wasn’t a cry of pain, but a delight that it was ‘dancing’ to the tune of the wind. And the rain it collected and which fell down on me was like the effect of a shaggy dog shaking itself to get dry and soaking everyone else in the process – something which ‘includes’ me, rather than excludes me, and which can bring on a wry smile. It was as though there was some giant, invisible aspergillum ‘flicking’ holy water on me, and blessing me. And it was comforting.

‘For a true contemplative, a green tree works just as well as a golden tabernacle’. Richard Rohr.

Now drenched, I realised that whatever life sends us, we are in control of our reactions and have the ability to come through the storm. As I sat there I could have been angry at being drenched, and angry that that oak had not provided sufficient cover to keep me dry. However, positive thoughts flooded my mind like warm honey. Coeden dderw hynafol had, in its own way ‘instructed’ me that I (and you, so ‘we’) have the resources to face adversity, and though we might ‘bend’ a little and feel the wounds, we will prevail. Coeden dderw hynafol also blessed me with the rain it had collected and which was now falling on me at quite a pace. It was a though this ancient friend was blessing me with holy water and including me. To be befriended by an oak tree is an amazing thing.

‘We inter-breath with the rain forests, we drink from the oceans. They are part of our own body.’ Thich Nhat Hanh

Soggy, cold, drenched but feeling blessed, I headed back to the house. I hadn’t gone too far when I stopped. It seemed wrong just to walk away. And so I stopped, and as mud oozed between my toes, I turned, and for just half a minute gave my silent thanks to coeden dderw hynafol, nodded and acknowledged my indebtedness to the lessons it had taught me that night.

Ofcourse, some might say it was crazy and puerile to regard that tree in such a way. A tree is just a tree, they might say. But, it didn’t (and doesn’t) feel like just a tree, in its presence. Ofcourse, if people regard it as just a tree, I would add that something deep still stirred within me, and I learned invaluable lessons.

However, I’d like to add that it is more than just a tree to me. There is more. Mae mwy, as they say in these parts, there is more. Coeden dderw hynafol is a silent teacher, and if you and I give ourselves time to draw aside and be still (wherever we are), each day we can learn something from these (and it may not be an oak tree) silent teachers that cross our life-paths.

‘And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play with your hair’. Kahlil Gibran

The Telling Place: Ritual And Anamnesis

20170515 THE TELLING PLACE RITUAL AND ANAMNESISI am an avid fan of ritual and liturgy. Not for any ‘spooky, or old-fashioned, and ‘quant’ reasons, but because ritual and liturgy, like a good piece of music, can usher us into a state of deep thought and meditation, waft us into the liminal realm of the imagination and on into sacred time-space; a ‘thin place’ [known as caol áit, pronounced ‘kweel awtch’ in Gaelic]. It has energy. It is status-declaring. It ushers us into (an awareness of) the Presence.

The sun had set. A chill had set in, but the air was still. No birdsong could be heard at all. And so,  a  group of twenty stalwarts sat in a circle, around the open fire, as the bodhrán sounded a slow drumbeat. One person nominated to lead the event, the Guardian, stood and moved in a clockwise direction, pausing at the four cardinal points, before moving to the centre of the circle. He invoked the energy of the Source of All.

It has been said by some modern-day scholars that ritual is outdated, and nothing more than a futile attempt to ensure the safety of an individual, who, when invoking the presence of an overpowering god or God, is fearful. Or, it’s to appease an angry god or God. I’d like to suggest something different. For me, ritual is a reminder that we continually stand in the presence of the Source of All, a wholly benevolent Power, and ritual acts as a reminder to us of that fact, and that this is a special time set aside to draw even closer, and/or to be aware of that fact. Ritual, then, is for our benefit. To (re-)empower and (re-)enable us.

Everyone waited with expectancy. All could perceive the flames from the fire, but little else. Night was drawing in. And, yet what our eyes couldn’t see, was more than made up by our ‘imaginal eyes’, our mind’s eye, the eyes of our hearts, our imaginations. Some saw ancient archetypes of power ‘skip’ from the flames, others elementals that moved in and out of the circle from the surrounding forest trees in a joyful manner, and still others ‘saw’ elusive power-animals at their sides. Some ‘saw’ nothing, but felt an almost over-powering tangible presence of benevolence descend, and embrace them.

There is a physicality to ritual, but it is more. If ritual is just a series of moves and words, and nothing else, then it’s akin to a Harry Potter spell – the kind, in that movie, where one has to be careful to get everything exactly right, otherwise, who knows what might happen? Ritual is a series of actions and words, and to be enjoyed, but it’s more. Left at that level, it is pure ‘theatre’.

It’s physical, but imaginal, too. Perhaps most of the ‘action’ takes place in the realm of the soul, that imaginal realm. It’s ‘in’ the imagination, but no less real (and some of us might say more real!) And, then there’s intentionality. If you didn’t get the ritual right, don’t worry. I do believe our intentions are most important, and that the Source of All honours our intentions.

The Guardian of the circle spoke of the illusion of time and space, and how we view it as linear. The Guardian also spoke of connectedness, of the ‘Great Chain Of Being’, or being ‘at one’ with our forebears, the Ancestors. He raised his hands, momentarily, and declared that the Ancestors were here! The drumming stopped.

You, like me, are probably ‘amphibian’. We, seemingly, live in two realm. We live in a world of dualism, separateness and individuality, and yet, deep within us we each yearn for connectedness and deep spirituality, as though that was our ‘default program’. I do believe it is.

We are connected.

Someone one said that what we do to others, we do to them. Connectedness.

Some say that if a butterfly beats its wings on one side of the planet, it might lead to a tornado elsewhere. Connectedness.

Scientists tell us that each one of us is made of atoms that, at one time, were inside a distant star that exploded – yes, we really are star dust. Astronomically, connected.

And, our ancestors? We wouldn’t be here if it were not for them, and many of our innate characteristics, unbeknownst to us, probably come from them in one glorious time-spanning family tree (of which we’re all part). Connectedness. Our ancestors, are here. If you don’t believe in ghosts, perhaps they’re here in actual spirit or presence, or in essence, or in our DNA (or all of those, and more)?

In this ritual, it felt as though we had been pulled out of physical time, as a group, and  into sacred space-time, and were propelled back in time to engage with the Ancestors in story. Or, was it that they had joined us? Or, was it that space-time does not exist, but the ritual, using metaphors, and using the illusion of pulling us out of physical time had given us an awareness of them in the ‘now’? Already there? Already connected, but unaware? I believe so.

This remembering is called anamnesis: a remembering that makes the original event present to the believer. In a very real sense, ritual negates time and space. The Passover Seder starts with the question, ‘How is  this night  different from all other nights?’ Ritual, then, brings the participant into that timeless realm of the sacred in which the time and space that separates the participant from the original event just disappears. It’s not just remembering. It’s a re-experiencing and a re-connectedness to that former event – in this case story and the Ancestors. Anything less that that, is merely mimesis, an imitation or re-enactment. Sadly as regards the latter, (especially, but not only in organised religion(s)), a lot of mimesis goes on in ritual.

A slight wind blew through the encircled people. In a low voice, the Guardian said that this time-space was a Telling Place, a place of story, myth and ‘magic’. Like a ‘thin place’ as Celts and Druids of old would have known it. For the next twenty minutes he told an ancient story of birth, and death, and re-birth. A story that was as old as the cosmos itself, and full of hope, and evident in the sacred text of many cultures. He went on to say that some know this as Saṃsāra, others know it as Moksha, and yet others know it as the Paschal Mystery. He said it was ‘built into the very fabric of the universe’.

As a Druidic-Christian, an inclusive and sociable person, I enjoy meeting new people, leading events, sharing deep spiritual truth, and listening to others. It’s by listening and then sharing, like iron sharpens iron, that we grow. In many cases, we’re saying the same thing, but using different words, or coming at it from a different perspective.

After twenty minutes the Guardian concluded the story and sat down, and some others from the circle, as they felt led, shared ancient stories, stories of life, and some shared parts of their life-story.

Our stories are as important to the Universe as its story is to us. Could it be that we are the product of the Universe’s wish to be self-aware? If so, there is a wonderful circularity there. Like an electric circuit that is complete and working. The Universe gave birth to us, so that ‘it’ could be aware of itself, and see itself, and did so by (even) including us as part of the Universe. The idea, then, that we’re separate is an error. We’re included in the cosmos, in nature (or as some might say, ‘life, the universe and everything’), but some, sadly, are unaware of this fact.

After a few minutes had elapsed since the last story-sharer had finished and sat down, the Guardian stood. The bodhrán sounded a slow drumbeat as the Guardian moved in an anti-clockwise direction, pausing at the four cardinal points, and ‘closed’ the meeting by moving back to the centre of the circle and raising his hands momentarily. The drumming stopped. Everything was still, and oh-so quiet. He said a short blessing-prayer and sat down. Slowly, ‘normal’ time and interaction resumed.

And so, we re-entered physical time. Ofcourse, we all knew that what we had experienced was still true, and still with us. But, we also knew that as humans, and living in the world we do today, that we need to ‘compartmentalise’ our awareness.  True, we can obtain glimpses of ‘real’ reality as we go about our daily life, but we also acknowledged a different mode of ‘operation’ when working in the office, the factory, when driving, or formulating a shopping list – all necessary activates that ‘pull’ us away from deep awareness. Regrettable, but perhaps understandable in living in this society. Nevertheless, That Which Is Larger Than Ourselves is on your side (so, don’t feel awful about it…but cherish those times when you can fully enter into that liminal space and/or the daily glimpses you might experience). It’s okay to be an ‘amphibian’.

However, you and I know that there’s more. And, the sharing of stories is a great way, an awesome way to exercise liminality, and enter into that Telling Place that transcends time and space. I do believe it’s about time I organised another Telling Place event.

Arianrhod In All Her Splendour: Full Moon Poem

20170510 POEM ARIANRHOD IN ALL HER SPLENDOUR FULL MOON POEMTonight, 10 May 2017, is the May full moon, in the constellation of Libra. To me and many it is known as the Bright Moon. To celebrate this full moon I wrote the following poem:

Arianrhod in all her splendour, moves by an invisible hand
and wanders companionless, like a silver wheel in the sky. She ascends.
This full moon’s lucid beam dominates the now darkened canopy, and
there, in her smiling face, we find sweet, unbridled understanding.
She befriends.

Her ‘lesser light’ moves across the sky above the city, grey.
Oh, robed in splendour, her surge of silver-light fills every window pane
and skips across rooftops, trees, streams, fairy fires, and silent railway,
and falls unbeknown on those who sleep now, and refreshment regain.
A blessing.

Arianrhod, spill your beauty on a thousand Earthly races,
on happy flowers that bloom in a myriad of hues,
on laughing, smiling, sad and all up-looked faces,
who, in wilding spaces, drink your wine of sweet, bless’d fallen dew.
A gracious infilling.

And paled now is her light,
as onward she moves lower in the sky. For the sun, opportune.
But, for now, dear Arianrhod reigns with love. She is mistress of the night.
A timely witness sent by the Truth who is beyond the Moon.
A glorious remembrance.

 

Note: Photo above is copyrighted, and used with kind permission. Gratitude to Pennie Ley [Link]

 

 

Tadhg’s Ephemera: The Bright Moon. Full Moon On 10 May 2017

20170508 BRIGHT MOON 10 MAY EPHEMERAIt’s that time…the time of Spring, pleasant weather, the time of the full moon, and when many consider this is a good time for releasing what is holding them back and working on new commitments, both in spirit and love, committing to an engagement, hand-fasting or marriage, or making some other commitment.

‘The world’s favourite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May.’  Edwin Way Teale

Essentials
On the evening of Wednesday, 10 May 2017 there is a full moon in the constellation of Libra (on the ESE horizon at 8.05pm from a London, UK perspective and rising gently to it’s ‘highest’ point that night just after midnight when looking southward).

This full moon is known as the Bright Moon.

Still others, though, such as other Celts, Celtic Christians, Druids and Pagan friends may refer to it as the Grass Moon, the Milk Moon or the Flower Moon.

‘Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.’ Psalm 89:37, The Book

It’s well and truly spring (in the northern hemisphere) and a time for growing plants and flowers,  and so, aptly, May is named for the Roman goddess Maia, who oversaw the growth of plants. And, doubly so, at this full moon in May.

Myths About The Moon
There are a number of myths about the moon, as these are:

Ancestor offerings: In some Chinese religions, offerings are made to the ancestors on the night of a full moon.

A full moon makes you ‘crazy’: Ever since ancient times, full moons have been associated with odd behaviour, sleepwalking, or violence . The words ‘lunacy’ and ‘lunatic’ come from the Roman goddess of the moon, Luna, who was said to ride her silver chariot across the dark sky each night. In England, in the  18th-century those on trial for murder could seek a lighter sentence on grounds of lunacy, if the crime occurred at the time of full moon. Also, the book,  ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ by Robert Louis Stevenson, was said to have been inspired by the strange , and yet very true, case of Charles Hyde, a London man who committed a numbers of crimes, all at the time of the full moon.

Even the BBC News reported, a few year ago, reported  that some British police departments have decided to add extra officers on nights with crime increases that occur at the time of a full moon (though there are many that think this may have to do with the response to opportunistic crime and more light at night be available for foul deeds because of the full moon).

Aliens on the Moon: In the 1820s,  Bavarian astronomer Franz von Paula Gruithuisen recorded that he had spied alien cities on the moon with his telescope. He called them Lunarians, and though many people derided his finding, he did at least have a modest-sized moon crater named after him.

Even today, there are those who believe their are aliens on the moon, maybe on the side of the Moon which doesn’t face Earth, and some believe images, from Chandrayaan-1 (an Indian Moon probe) appear to show a series of lava tubes snaking under the surface of the Moon, as it made by an intelligence, with thousands of scatted, perhaps, connecting caves.

It makes you think!

Full Moon ‘Releasing’ Ritual
This is a releasing ritual, releasing you from all that is holding you back. As with any ritual, it is an outward sign and activity of an inward occurrence. It can be done outdoors on the night of the full moon, but equally, it can be done indoors.

So, find a quiet place, and:

1. Light a candle (to denote entering into sacred space/sacred time). If you want, you can place crystals, power-rocks and other positive-tools around you.

2. De-clutter your mind of thoughts, clear your energy. This can be done by imagination, and so why not close your eyes and visualise that you are standing under a silver waterfall. As you so do, in your mind’s eye, imagine that all negativity being  washed away.

3. Take a few deep breaths to ‘center’ yourself, to move deeply within your being, and then ‘ask’ what it is that you wish to be released from. What is it that is holding you back? What is a limiting belief? What no longer serves a positive purpose in your life. In your mind’s eye, write it on a piece of paper. Wait for a short while.

4. As you breathe in, think of that piece of paper with that limiting belief written on it, and as you breathe out, imagine that that piece of paper moves into the candle and is burnt up. It no longer exists. Do this several times. [Remember, this is all taking place in your imagination, so please don’t actually set fire to anything you have with you!].

This type of breathing in/out with visualisation is like tonglen, in reverse.

5. After a short while open your eyes, fully enter this ‘realm’ by gazing gently at the candle for a few minutes. There is no rush. And then, to denote a closing of that sacred space/sacred time, blow the candle out. Wait for a few minutes. Doing things slowly, here, is good.

6. Ofcourse, this is a ritual, an outward sign or action of an inward occurrence, and you will still need to ‘do’ the necessary things in the physical realm to bring about a releasing of what is/was holding you back, and to work towards a positive outcome.

[Always concerned for you, I would ask that you do take appropriate professional advice if your ‘releasing negativity and embracing positivity’ in this ritual (and afterward) concerns money, land, health, relationships etc]

7. Keep a journal of your experiences in that ritual, what you did to ‘earth it’ and work towards releasing negativity and working towards positivity, detailing actions and how you felt at the time. It’s always good to look back, weeks, months or even years later.

Let me know what happens, if you wish.

‘May and June.  Soft syllables, gentle names for the two best months in the garden year: cool, misty mornings gently burned away with a warming spring sun, followed by breezy afternoons and chilly nights.  The discussion of philosophy is over; it’s time for work to begin.’ Peter Loewer

Gardening
Being a concerned about  nature, my suggestion is: that for those wishing to cultivate and benefit from nature, even a window box if you live in a city and haven’t got access to a garden, how about planting:

For shady, north-facing locations: English daisy, Fern (maidenhair, tassel, Boston, asparagus, Impatiens. Pansy, Parsley, Snapdragon.

Sun-liking, south-facing locations: Lavender, Marigold, Miniature rose, Rosemary (which is particularly good at attracting bees. We definitely need to look after bees).

‘May, more than any other month of the year, wants us to feel most alive.’ Fennel Hudson

And Finally…
…Wishing you a blessed May full moon, Tadhg

Power-Blessings 104: Mutual Support…In That Field Beyond: [4/4]

20170505 MUTUAL SUPPORT 4OF4 BLESSINGWe’re all different. We live in a world were the rights of the individual and individualism are writ large. And, though we enjoy many freedoms because of it – or am I just believing that because, like you, I was born into such a time as this – it can be rather solitary as an ‘aware person’, a mystic-Christian, a Druid, a hedge-witch, an ‘edge-walker’, or however you and I describe ourselves.

‘Be different. Be original. Nobody will remember a specific flower in a garden filled with thousands of the same yellow flower, but they will remember the one that managed to change its colour to purple.’  Suzy Kassem

At the end of this week of looking at Power-Blessings, we now turn our attention to looking at encouragement and, indeed, further encouragement to maintain, grow and advance the good work that we have been ‘called’ to do; to explore mutual support; to take it all one step further.

It would be easy to list good books, links to other websites and talk about ‘how to do…’ this or that, but I won’t. Each person reading this will be different, maybe so different (and that is a blessing) as to render all that irrelevant. But, it is important, I think, to share good practice (even if it is a different ethos or way of working to our own personal approach) because then we can learn from each other and adapt what we share to serve our local purposes.

‘Those who love peace must learn to organise as effectively as those who love war.’ Martin Luther King Jr.

A loose organisation, at least (unless you’re already part of one of the many, useful, groups of the internet that do provide support to ‘aware persons’,  mystic-Christians,  Druids, hedge-witches, ‘edge-walkers’ etc) may be beneficial. If you’re not part of such group, and I do recommend joining at least one that is closest to your work, then I’d like to hear from you. It’s all about mutual support – even if it’s a periodic email…but I’d suggest there’s more we can do.

‘Make connections; let rip; and dance where you can.’ Annie Dillard

Annie Dillard writes about Holy the Firm, in her book of the same name, and describes it as  substance that medieval alchemists and mystics etc were interested in. It’s a substance, they thought below earth, minerals, salts, and it acts as a bridge between the material and the spiritual world. Opinions vary as to whether it is a purely physical substance or a spiritual one, as it is between both! Perhaps, the thrill is in not knowing, and accepting it as ‘and/both’ (rather than our scientific age’s obsession with ‘and/or’). It’s like a sacred gap!

The late Thomas Merton (a Trappist monk), Cynthia Bourgeault (an Episcopal priest, teacher, author and retreat leader) and others talk of ‘le point vierge’ (‘the virgin point’, though it  sounds better in French, and is usually referred to in French). They describe it as the point, deep within each of us, were we can meet the Source of All in a real, and experiential, and experimental way; beyond pictures, beyond ideas and without metaphors intimately….in the post-ritual-activity stillness..’. It’s like a sacred ‘nothingness’; that is, no thing!.

This idea is taken up by Rumi, and precedes the above mentioned by many centuries. He wrote, ‘Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass [even] the world is too full to talk about.’ It’s like a  sacred beyondness.

‘An important part of response to divine love, once it has been received, is to pass it on to our neighbour in a way that is appropriate in the present moment.’  Thomas Keating (Trappist monk)

So, how can we assist each other, encouraged each other  and grow, mature and advance our work. I’d suggest:

  • we share best practice by email, and
  • we support each other by meeting with like-minded people (and I’m currently thinking of what I can do with this idea, so do keep reading the articles here over the course of this month as ideas and events are formed and planned, and
  • we can energise each other, perhaps by setting aside, a time each month (maybe part of a ritual, or indeed the whole of a ritual) to think of each other, specifically, and to send positive energy, well-wishes, power-blessings, light etc to each other…but intentionally, named, visualised, specific.

What do you think of this, as a initial practice?

In thinking about that last idea and developing it here, in the work that I do, I want to set aside time just for you! Whether we call that space place between the physical and spiritual realm by the name ‘Holy, the Firm’, or as ‘le point vierge’ or as a celestial field far beyond our ideas of right and wrong…or as the Caim (my term and practice, here, for entering that ‘gap’, liminal space, sacred space etc).

‘Life is a full circle, widening until it joins the circle motions of the infinite.’  Anaïs Nin

In essence a Caim ritual is about forming a circle (or think of an energy bubble in your mind’s eye), visualising the harvesting of celestial energy, moulding it, and sending it, and being prepared for reciprocity, and the latter is a moving into that still-point, le point vierge etc). Ofcourse, it’s more than that (but, if you’re interested in the idea of finding out about a (simple) Caim, please see here and here).

So, I’m resolved to perform a Caim each new moon for you!

But, to make it personal and meaningful I’ll do that (only) if you email me and ask me to do so, and in so doing I’d ask for you do to similar for me. Ofcourse, your background, ‘tribe’ and beliefs will be different to mine, and therefore any ritual you do may be very different to mine…but I don’t think that matters. Infact, I’d expect that, and see it as a blessing of our ‘kaleidoscopic’ diversity and intentionality.

So, are you up for it? (If so, just email me, so that everything is confidential, and will be kept confidential. Email: tadhg@tadhg.cymru

Whether or not you do….you still have my gratitude on getting this far with this article, and receive a blessing from me right now to empower you (even more so) in the good things that you are doing.

‘I am a living member of the great family of all souls; and I cannot improve or suffer myself, without diffusing good or evil around me through an ever-enlarging sphere. I belong to this family. I am bound to it by vital bonds.’ William Ellery Channing

 

Power-Blessings 103: The Joy Of Responsibility : [3/4]

20170504 RESPONSIBILTY 3OF4 BLESSINGIt was a dark and  stormy night. It was late November, it was seven o’clock on a cold and wet, rather inhospitable Wednesday evening, as I entered a large hall belonging to a faith-group, ready to deliver a talk to a group. I was told to be prepared to address a group of 60-100 people, and so I was ready.

When the time of the talk arrived, it was clear that the rain, the cold, the inhospitable weather, the fact that the nation’s favourite ‘TV soap’ was being aired on (and the series was at the point where a major cliff-hanger was about to be revealed), and a major football match (soccer, to my American friends) was about to start, had taken their toll on the attendance figures in this hall. I stared from the front at seven people.

I wasn’t upset, as I do believe the people that could benefit from the talk were there. It wasn’t even that my ego needed ‘massaging’. But, a change had to be made to my plans.

With a group of 60-100 a talk could be given from the front, with say, questions at the end. All rather formal, pre-planned, and somewhat ‘distancing’, but probably the best and most proficient way to deliver a talk to 60-100 people. But, not to seven people.

Be prepared to be ‘underwhelmed’.

How we conduct a blessing depends on the circumstances, even the number of people involved. In taking that talk as an analogy, we have to adapt. What would work in some circumstances, will not work in other circumstances. We need to be aware and adapt.

‘The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.’  Mark Twain

In that talk, rather than stand at the front and deliver it in the style of a monologue from a distance, I got the few people to form a circle, rearranging their chairs and including one for me, and we turned the event into a dialogue. I delivered the talk but paused occasionally and included everyone by asking open-ended questions, by making it informal, and more ‘cosy’. It worked.

How we deliver a blessing will change.

Over the last couple of days we’ve looked briefly at what a blessing it, initially looked at intentionality (see here), and then looked at examples of the source, or the Source of power-blessings (see here). So, when to bless, and how to bless, and the responsibility that follows it are just as  essential, and a few thoughts about this follow.

If a person asks for a blessing, then you can gauge how to deliver that blessing. If you’re in their home, it may just be a whispered prayer, or if they’re used to and expecting something more vocal then it could be a moderately loud blessing, set words or improvised prayer-blessing.

In a formal setting, such as in a service or ceremony it may be also more ritualised, with physical actions appropriate to the circumstances.

‘Create inclusion – with simple mindfulness that others might have a different reality from your own.’ Patti Digh, Life Is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally

But, never inappropriate, and do anything never likely to embarrass the one being blessed. Even if it means, and it may be  good idea, to explain what you intend to do, so that their are no surprises as the ceremony unfolds.

After all, we want to be inclusive, and not exclude or ‘distance’ people.

In a café I might see someone nearby, someone unknown who I feel may benefit from a blessing. In such cases I’d probably visualise a power-blessing going from me to them, perhaps as a ball of light – about the size of a golf ball. Why not? Visualisation is important, as it is part of intentionality which is all important. If that ball of light is a metaphor, and I believe it is, then it could be an imagining of an actual happening, and I believe it is. Faith.

It may be okay to send someone a blessing incognito…but not always.

There are times, especially if you know the person and you would like to bless them, to ask, first, and really listen to them. It may be awkward for them, they may be unfamiliar with blessings, and to launch into blessing them without their consent may not only upset them, it may put an obstacle between you and them (and that’s the exact opposite of what a blessing should do), and you may be left half-way through blessing them and look faintly ridiculous. Ofcourse, we want to act responsibly, and there is no pressure – or shouldn’t be. Do watch out for the ego!

There are times when it’s best to ask to bless someone.

‘Never allow your ego to diminish your ability to listen.’ Gary Hopkins

Oh, I know several people, especially at formal gatherings when dozens of people are expected, do like to dress up for the occasion. And, why not? If it’s appropriate and ‘adds’ something to the occasion it may be something to encourage others to do, or to do, yourself!

To give a blessing, means first, create a space and to enter into liminality (to cross over that ‘threshold’), and to do that requires preparation and an act of significance. In terms of many churches this may involve the officiant entering the chancel or at least a raised platform, the dais; for Druids and others it may be casting a circle and entering it; for others it may be the donning of ceremonial clothing. All denote the movement into liminal space, sacred space, the ‘blessing-space’. But, it’s done in such a way as to be appropriate and helpful. But, what if you haven’t got your special attire or ‘tools’ (and for this, some use a small bell or incense, candle etc, depending on the formality of the setting)? What then? Ofcourse, you can still bless, because in essence..

…It’s best to keep it simple, anyway.

In blessing responsibly, we might be led to pray for people at a distance, perhaps for people in other lands, for endangered species of animals, for some area of the world where calamity has taken place. Then do it. Do it in an appropriate way – which will be different depending on whether you’re at home or at a public event and are scheduled to bless, depending on whether it is an event with small numbers or large, and whether it’s formal or informal. Adapt. Always try to be inclusive, and involve others. It’s not just ‘theatre’.

‘When everyone is included, everyone wins.’ Jesse Jackson

Be encouraged to bless.

But, it may be a lonely task. In many cases you may have questions that go unanswered, may not see the end result of your blessing (and that’s okay, really), or you may find that much of what you do is behind closed doors (and, that too, is okay, as it’s only the ego that wants to hog the limelight). Known or unknown, whether you have blessed a thousand times or are endeavouring now to do your first blessing, it’s okay. The power behind a blessing comes from far beyond, and it isn’t our power that is the force behind it, anyway – and that’s awesome to comprehend. The Source provides the power behind an energy-blessing. And, that means, that usually, it’s best to bless and leave the outcome to the Source, and not be too ‘prescriptive’ about what we’d like to see.

‘Spoken words have power beyond measure.’ Debasish Mridha

We, then are much like conduits, placing ourselves in that power flow from the Source, as intermediaries – and their are benefits to us.. We are like conduits. Whatever happens when we give a blessing – and, don’t expect those we’re blessing will necessarily ‘feel’ anything (it might happen, it might not), the blessing is effective (maybe, in some positive way unknown to us) because it depends on the power-source, and that’s not us, but the Source of All. Always, positive.

It’s not about us. It’s about the Source. What do you think?

So, what’s stopping you?

‘If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times. In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more love you give away, the more love you will have.’ John O’Donohue

Tomorrow, having mentioned that blessing another, others, events, animals, the planet etc can be a lonely exercise or ‘calling’, we’ll look at further encouragement, ‘teaching’ and mutual support. How can we assist each other?

Power-Blessing 102: The Source: [2/4]

20170503 THE SOURCE 2OF4 BLESSINGYesterday we briefly looked at the definition of blessing and intentionality, both vital starting places, and essential on our journey into the realm of power-blessings (see here).

Today, we look, briefly (and it is only a brief overview of a vast theme), at the energy behind such blessings, what it is, and why and how it can be visualised.

‘Your longing desires to take you towards the absolute realization of all the possibilities that sleep in the clay of your heart; it knows your eternal potential, and it will not rest until it is awakened. Your longing is the divine longing in human form.’ John O’Donohue

There is a school of thought that says the universe is a ‘vast sea of energy’. Not just ‘up there’ and out in the furthest reaches of the galaxy and beyond, but also in the space and locations we inhabit, and, indeed, the matter out of which we are made.  All of it is energy of one sort or another.

Connectedness.

That means that we’re part of the universe and have access to its power. But, there’s more. Ken Wilber calls us ‘holons’. A holon (Greek: ὅλον, ὅλος, holos, meaning “whole”) is something that is simultaneously a whole and a part. The word was used by Arthur Koestler in his book The Ghost in the Machine (1967).

Part and yet whole/all.

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25;40b, The Book

We have our own intrinsic energy some say, and others might say the whole lot is ‘borrowed’ and comes from somewhere else, but it seems that we can share that energy, and it can be depleted, and be refilled. Refilled, from where? Opinions abound about ‘external’ sources.

Our energy? Another energy?

Some might not put too time into wondering where this source is, so long as the cycle of energy use, depletion and refilling is accomplished. Others, might say it comes from Universal energy, those who are from a sylvanic persuasion might say the energy comes from elementals or nature around us, others might say it comes from somewhere else, such as from angels or other benevolent beings of importance to the individual).

In each of these, if pressed, one would get a ‘picture’, or at last a good description of the source. Ofcourse, imagination comes into play here. Those who believe in a Universal energy store-house might picture a galaxy or the vast reaches of space, elemental energy-users might imagine a welcoming forest or forest inhabitants, an elemental and so on.

External and yet, internal.

‘The most important matter for a practitioner is to be able to break through the veil of the material plane in order to enter the ultimate dimension and see the interconnection between us and all other phenomena in the world around us.’ Thich Nhat Hanh,

So, when I put forward an ‘Ouranic store-house’ of energy ‘above’ us, and I do, I’m using picture-language, imagination and metaphor to describe something that, as those others already mentioned have found, is difficult to put into words, and we may well be describing exactly  the same thing in different ways. So, please don’t be upset if you have a different view to me – we can still learn from each other, and support each other.

It’s metaphorical.

Ouranos is Greek for the sky, or some would say heaven (and therefore, the Source, for me, is God. However, the use of the word ‘God’ is much overused in our society, so I go ‘further’ and would say the Source is the Christ – who manifested ‘himself’ initially 15 billion years ago, and works also through the universe, nature, events etc), and for me this is apt. That’s where, I believe, all real power and energy comes from. That’s my metaphor.

Ofcourse, the more I describe that sore-house ‘place’, the more inaccurate my description will be. Who can sum up the infinite vastness and majesty of spiritual places, such as heaven, using mere words? Rhetorical question. If we can imagine it, it must be much more.

But, (somewhat cheekily) I’d like to declare that I visualise that heavenly or ouranic store-house of energy as a wonderful meadow, tall with ripe corn, just waiting to be harvested by anyone that needs or wants it, and the Field-Owner is happy with you and I harvesting its energy – infact, it is grown for that specific purpose.. Now, ofcourse, it is more that that, but maybe on this occasion an insufficient ‘picture’ is better than none? Metaphors really are important.

What if earth
Be but the shadow of Heaven, and things therein
Each to other like, more than on earth is thought?’
John Milton, Paradise Lost

However, you describe it, I do believe we can ‘tap’ into that energy to fill (or refill) ourselves with the express purpose of passing that energy, those power-blessings on to others. There are a number of ways to ‘tap’ into that energy, such as one (or maybe a mixture) of the following

  • meditation (kataphatic)
  • good works
  • visualisation/imagination
  • intentionality
  • ritual (and you might like to get an inkling of power-ritual in this article poem – click here)
  • liturgy
  • prayer
  • meditation (apophatic) etc.

So, for instance, in using ritual I unusually use my imagination and enter, liminally, into that blessing-place; and also physically might wear something special, or light a candle or ring a bell  to signify the entering of sacred space. All metaphors – but important because they declare intentionality. Never diminish the imaginal (realm) or (physical) ritual, or liturgy. They open and close the path to amazing energy, and are the ‘carrier waves’ of power-blessings (as we will see tomorrow).

So, such energy comes from that store-house, for me it’s an ouranic store-house, but it’s more! Energy sounds so impersonal, just a matter of physics and mathematical equations, but I believe it’s more.

Personal.

Whether one accepts the idea of an Ouranic store-house, Universal store-house, elemental store-house etc, I do believe it’s more than just being zapped with energy. The Giver is Personal, the Power is Personal, it’s deeply experiential and meaningful, and our use of it as a conduit to other people, animals or nature etc is Personal.

That has repercussions when seeking that energetic infilling or refilling ourselves and using it for others. Responsibility is not a word that many like, but with tremendous power, responsibility is needed.

‘Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we blithely invoke? [We are like] children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness…we should all be wearing crash helmets.’ Annie Dillard, Teaching A Stone To Talk

How to exercise that power, the ways and how to do so responsibly is the theme of tomorrow’s article/blog.

 

Power-Blessings 101: Intentionality: [1/4]

20170502 INTENTIONALITY 1OF4 BLESSINGImagine in your minds eye,  thousand of  priests each Sunday morning, in their own locality invoking a blessing upon their congregation; or, in a small room an older person saying the words, ‘bless you’, to someone who has just done them a favour by visiting them; or a Christian praying for someone who is sick and who then utters those words of blessing at the end of the prayer; or a Druid in a grove, deep inside a forest uttering a blessing for nature in general and for an endangered species in particular. Each utters a blessing, and each believing it is necessary, even essential. And, it is!

We may not ‘see’ the effect of their blessing, but I do believe blessings are effective, and one day we will realise this. Perhaps, that day is today?

A ‘working’ definition of a blessing could be: an act of conferring on another person or object or event, some form of energy, or favour, or vital force that is person-related and full of power, with the intention of effecting some kind of change for the better. It’s a consecration. It’s effective. It’s something that is enjoyable and beneficial to all (and not just the person, animal or event being blessed).

‘A blessing is an invitation from one person to another to enter into and share this world. It is the opening of a door so we can enter this world together.’ David Spangler, ‘Blessing: The Art And The Practice’

If you think of a blessing in terms of some form of ritual and liturgy, then it takes place in time and space in the form of an action. But, it need not only be confined to this – a blessing could take the form of blessing others by assisting others with your skills and talents, drawing alongside them and giving them your time, giving them something physically, even smiling at someone to lift their spirits etc. All these are actions! But, there’s more.

‘A blessing is the passing of spirit between us. It’s a slash in the flesh of the ego…’, David Spangler, ‘Blessing: The Art And The Practice’

There are so many ways to bless, but perhaps the ritual and liturgy (action and words) is a good place to start, as that’s the channel it can flow through, initially. Subtle energy.

It flows though us, but I’d like to suggest that it originates elsewhere. Yes, each one of us has an inherent worth and power, and so we have an ‘energy store’ from which to bless people, animals and creation, the world and events, but there’s more. That’s not all of it.

We have access to a veritable infinite store-house of blessing-energy, and so we can view ourselves as a conduit calling upon that huge reservoir of blessing-energy, tapping into some and conferring it on others, moving it around, dealing with obstacles,  and overcoming them, of being filled up with that energy, depleting it, and then, in turn, ‘topping it up’. Such blessing-energy flows, and is quite ‘circular’!

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
‘Who touched me?, Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.’
But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.’ Luke 8:42b – 46, The book

There are a number of reasons why someone may not want to bless, whether they’re thinking of a time of ritual and liturgy, a time of prayer, of uttering the words ‘bless you’, or being involved in some action. Some may feel they’re out of their depth, others that they’re not qualified and maybe then defer to another, whilst others might feel its presumptuous, or maybe, they’re not quite sure what a blessing really is and how to confer a blessing. We can always find reasons not to bless. The ego can be quite good at ‘getting us off the hook’.

However, each one of us can bless! Even a novice, a beginner, with no formal experience can bless. And, if you feel uncomfortable, initially, or feel you’ve made a mistake…don’t worry. Intentionality, is of paramount importance here. The fact that you wanted to bless someone, an animal or part of creation, or an event, I believe, means a blessing was conferred. The Source of All honours our intentions.

‘What will you do with your one precious, wild life?’, Mary Oliver

Ofcourse, once you start, most people want to know more about how and when to bless, more about that huge and infinite store-house of blessing-energy etc. And, that’s where the next few articles may come in useful, and a few one-day workshops planned over the next few months will benefit some (and more about these will follow later in the week).

Suffice to say, if you’ve got this far in the article, I’d like you to take the next step, commit to reading the other articles that will follow, here, on this fascinating and essential theme, and start to wonder how you can be (more) involved in the blessing other people, animals and creation around us, and events etc. You have a vital role to play, that no one else can undertake. Only you.

If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times. In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more…you give away, the more…you will have.’ John O’Donohue

How do we prepare for blessing others, what is this infinite store-house of blessing-energy and how can we access it, what is reciprocity, how can we support each other? It continues tomorrow…and throughout this week.