Preparations For Winter Solstice 2017: ‘The Lighting Of The Five Candles’ Ritual/Liturgy

20171213 LIGHTING OF THE FIVE CANDLES RITUALYes, it’s nearly that time again, the time of the winter solstice (for those in the northern hemisphere). Yesterday we looked at a song for the this season and the actual event, see here, and today, as promised there’s more. Today, we’re looking at another idea to celebrate this wonderfully ‘thin place’ time., to celebrate the event of winter solstice and to give gratitude to the Solstice-Giver.

How will you celebrate the winter solstice?

The Lighting of The Five Candles Ritual/Liturgy

Requirement: 5 candles (in appropriate holders etc for safety-sake, eg votive candles.

The following can be recited by you, and/or friends or family, and/or your faith group. Do adapt the words and action as you feel appropriate to make it meaningful to you. And, there is no rush. This could take a minute or two (and could be part of a larger ritual that you might have planned), or you could pause before the ritual lighting of each candle and meditate, in which case the ritual might take many more minutes.

The liturgy is based on sacred text, but is inclusive and so might appeal to a ‘wider audience’ of another faith or belief without too much adaptation.  It is, after all, a suggestion, to encourage you to celebrate, and do something intentional and meaningful at the time of this wonderful event.

The four candles could represent the four quarters of the earth, the cardinal points, the four Gospels, the four elements, and the fifth could represent the Spirit? So, here’s a suggested liturgy/ritual.

As the first candle is lit the following is recited:

You/All: We walked in darkness, but you showed us the light. We pray for those that walk in darkness, that they, too, may see the light that shines in the darkness. (Based on Isaiah 9.2)

The following is recited, as the second candle is lit:

You/All: The light shines in the darkness, still. And the darkness did not comprehend it. We give thanks for the light that guides us. (Based on John 1:5)

The following is recited, as the third candle is lit:

You/All: You are the light of the world, and indwell us, so that we become a light in the world. We seek ways to live out that light in our life, in service to all. (Based on Matthew 5:14)

The following is recited, as the fourth candle is lit:

You/All: There will be no night there, because Your light will illumine us. We praise you for that great promise of light. (Based on Revelation 22:5)

The following is recited, as the fifth candle is lit. You might want to light the fifth candle and say the following only on the day of the winter solstice and/or Christmas Day, but it could be said at any time this season – you get to choose)

You/All: Light from Light Eternal, born this happy morning, we greet you. (Based on a carol, based on ancient sacred text)

Wishing you the blessings of this season of dark and Light Tadhg.

 

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

Poem: The Winter’s Light [Winter Solstice]

20171128 THE WINTERS LIGHT POEM

Winter solstice is coming nearer.

I do so love this time of the year. Dark evenings arriving earlier, the temperature dropping, and plans are made. That which we could take for granted now has to be planned. Heating system okay? Enough fuel? Enough salt for the paths, or enough food in the larder? Is my neighbour prepared? What about local wildlife? The season of winter is upon us. And, I love it.

So, one evening (or more) draw up close to the fire or a table lamp, or your favourite corner of your favourite room, making sure the tv is off and distractions are unlikely, and relax.  Contemplate on the turning of the circle as we move to midwinter, and the year just gone. Sometimes I find it’s best just to ‘rest’ at those times, in an attitude of gratitude to the Source for nature etc, and keep thoughts to the minimum. When lovers meet, their company is enough – words are unimportant.

The following poem may assist you in your contemplation of the season, and doubly so if you imbibe your favourite drink – for me, I’ve ‘re-discovered’ Horlicks malt drink, and I’ll be sipping that. Or, you might like to use the poem as part of your liturgy, as an individual, or for your family or (faith)group.

Winter solstice approaches.

The day is over, and night comes early.
Orion is higher in the sky now,
and imaginations are unshackled.
Above us the gods of yesteryear move across the heavens.

The trees are sleeping.
Deep roots are dreaming.

The silvery December moon rises
and the face that smiled upon the Birth,
of yesteryear, also smiles on us.
Above us Rhiannon advances.

The trees are sleeping.
Deep roots are dreaming.

Wise ones seek the Truth,
and beings of light, lit their Way.
Angels? Fae? The Watchers? Elementals, The Others?
And, about us unnamed, invisible Companions guide us still.

The trees are sleeping.
Deep roots are dreaming.

We dance together in the dark,
as the Circle turns, and yet
we dance joyfully and with purpose.
We celebrate the season, that is.
And, around us, in the darkness
we ‘see’ the Friend at work.

The trees are sleeping.
Deep roots are dreaming.

And yet in the darkness,
there shines a Light.
And, in remembrance, we light this festive candle
to the Sun of Righteousness.
And, we declare to all, near and far;
peace and hope, light and love
be to you and yours.
Now, and forever more.

The trees are sleeping.
Deep roots are dreaming.

Winter solstice approaches.

Blessings of The Source of All be to you and yours at this time,
Tadhg

Tadhg’s Ephemera: 12 January 2017 Full Moon & More.

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Full Moon: On 12 January 2017 at 11:34 UTC, with the moon in the constellation of Cancer the Crab, there’s a full moon. To the ancient and latter-day Celts this full moon is the Quiet Moon – so-called as all seems quiet. however, we know that the apparent dormancy of this season hides nature’s activity and is  but the prelude to spring, which is just around the corner.

To others this full moon is known as the Ice Moon or the Wolf Moon.

Something To Do: Perhaps, when gazing at the full moon, this time could be a time offile-11-01-2017-11-07-12 gratitude for the last year, and a time of prayer, meditation and a looking forward to all that could be in the forthcoming year. A time to plan good things, and to look forward, positively. It’s also an opportunity to do all this  in front of a lit candle – to remind us of the gift of light, to slow us down (we’re usually all far to busy), and to dwell on the simple and profound things in life. Rest. Meditate. Enjoy.

‘January is the quietest month in the garden. … But just because it looks quiet doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. The soil, open to the sky, absorbs the pure rainfall while microorganisms convert tilled-under fodder into usable nutrients for the next crop of plants. The feasting earthworms tunnel along, aerating the soil and preparing it to welcome the seeds and bare roots to come.’  Rosalie Muller Wright, Editor of Sunset Magazine.

Moon Creation Theories: Some Thoughts: The last theory about the creation of the moon talked of a collision of a small wandering planet, named Thea, some zillions of years ago. However, a new theory has emerged in the last few weeks about how the moon was created, rejecting a popular theory that it was born through a single giant collision.

In a new study, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science ran computer simulations and determined that the moon may have been formed by a number of collisions with smaller objects rather than one large collusion.

But, just for fun, I thought – being the amateur astronomer, that I am – I  would like to offer another theory: that the moon itself was moving freely through space at one time,  and encountered the Earth and its stronger gravitational field, and moved into a ‘parking orbit’ aeons ago. As the moon had moved through space the front of it would have encountered debris and that’s is why it is pitted – and that would be the back of the moon, now, which continually faces away from the Earth; the other side of the once wandering moon, shielded from such debris as it moved through space would be protected and less pitted, and that’s the ‘face’ that shines down upon us, now. If the theory catches on: it’s known as ‘Tadhg’s Wandering Moon Theory’. Just a thought.

‘As the Sun goes down
And the Moon rises
And the Golden Pond turns to silver
Blessed is the one who creates us
Blessed is the one who makes us
Blessed is the one who fashions us.’

(Derived from Authorised Daily Prayer Book of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth)

13 January: As an aside, this day, 13 January is the day that many remember St Kentigern (also known as St Mungo) who died around this time in 612AD. Kentigern had a full and rich life, and is perhaps best known for founding Glasgow in Scotland all those years ago. I’m sure Glasgow, with a current population of just over 600,000 people, salutes you.

‘There is a moon inside every human being. Learn to be companions with it.’ Rumi.

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Ephemera: It’s Time To Celebrate The First Day Of The Celtic Advent Season

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For Celt(ic Christians) in the 6th century, today was the first day of the Celtic Advent season, some forty days before Christmas. It mirrored Lent which leads up to Easter. The Celtic Advent was (and still is) a great season.

So, happy Advent-tide to you and yours. Be blessed.

‘It is now, at Advent, that I am given the chance to suspend all expectation…and instead to revel in the mystery.’ Jerusalem Jackson Greer

In a time when the commercial side of Christmas has a tendency to take over, I like the idea of celebrating the beginning of Advent, today, knowing the Mystery and ancient continuity behind it. It also gives us a longer time to prepare for the coming of Christmas, that is, the real, deep, moving, comforting, spiritual aspect of Christmas, and the meditational aspect of preparation of what is to come.

This Advent, then, can be a time to rest, to accept the struggle, the darkness of the season with short(er) days and longer nights as a reality and see that as a metaphor for our own inner struggles and uncertainties. It is a time for complete honesty and authenticity before the Incarnated One, and a time of expectancy – yes, ripples in time, from the future flow this way, to us; veritable waves of comfort and joy. Christmas is coming. Advent is here!

‘All the element[s] we swim in, this existence, echoes ahead the advent. God is coming! Can’t you feel it? ‘ Walter Wangerin, Jr.

And so, in the 6th century, they would light a candle each day to celebrate the (Celtic) Advent – and there’s an encouragement to us all, perhaps to light a candle, if only for half an hour each evening during this season, and gaze upon it and ponder on the meaning of the Embody-ment, the coming of the Christ at that first ‘Christmas-time’ (and, daily, into our lives!).

‘Advent, like its cousin Lent, is a season for prayer and reformation of our hearts. Since it comes at winter time, fire is a fitting sign to help us celebrate Advent.’ Edward Hays

‘O’ antiphons sang at this time, was another early Celtic tradition. An antiphon, from the Latin ‘antiphona’, meaning ‘sounding against’, was a repeated line of the Bible used as ‘bookends’ to the Psalms in daily Prayer, helping those gathered remember important and relevant parts of Sacred text relevant to this season. Most people would recognise a version of these antiphons as the verses of the Advent carol O Come, O Come Emmanuel. They are still prayed in many churches – as they have been for more than a millennia and a half. Continuity.

I love continuity, especially as you and I, in part by lighting that candle, or singing (or speaking) those ‘O’ antiphons and/or carols and/or Advent prayers,  enter into the stream of the ancestors, that great cloud of witnesses as we do so.

May this eternal truth be always on our hearts,
that the God who breathed this world into being,
placed stars into the heavens,
and designed a butterfly’s wing,
Is the God who entrusted his life
to the care of ordinary people.
[He] became vulnerable that we might know
how strong is the power of Love.
A mystery so deep it is impossible to grasp,
a mystery so beautiful it is impossible to ignore.

(Poem/prayer: http://www.faithandworship.com used Under Creative Commons Licence)

So, a really happy Advent-tide to you and yours. Be blessed.

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

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

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

Autumn ends, its the first day of winter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do something to mark the time. Make it memorable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, finally, a traditional Scottish prayer:

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