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" One touch of nature

makes all the world kin "

William Shakespeare

12 days of Meditation prior to Solstice

November 30th, 2020

Druid and astrologer, Sarah Fuhro, writes: “We are in a period of endings, and beginnings. This long strange year is ending, and a twenty-year cycle, which began in 2000 will end on the Winter Solstice (21 December)… Jupiter and Saturn represent a matched set of oppositions. Jupiter is expansive, Saturn concentrates. Together, like the opposing signs of each full Moon to the Sun, they present a wholeness of some aspect of energy and creativity. December 21, as we celebrate the return of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere, Jupiter and Saturn come together in the first degree of a new sign, Aquarius, after a year-long journey spent in Capricorn with Pluto and Pallas Athena. Jupiter and Saturn meet every twenty years and we often date historical periods from these conjunctions.”

So a new cycle begins at the solstice! To prepare for this, and to re-charge and re-calibrate, I’ve decided to practice a deep meditation for each of the twelve days preceding the solstice, and will be lying down for 20-30 minutes each time to follow the sequence of twelve meditations from The Garden of Flowing in Perpetual Happiness, starting December 9th. If this appeals to you too, you can find audios of them here.

Honouring Fragility, Hallowing Limitation

November 24th, 2020

Here’s that blog post I refer to:

When faced with Parkinson’s Disease, the Quaker writer John Yungblut wrote an essay entitled ‘On Hallowing One’s Diminishments,’ in which he described a different way of thinking he had developed about his progressively diminishing capacities. Rather than grieving over loss he decided to ‘hallow’ it – to make it holy.

Sharon Astyk has taken this idea and applied it to the environmental crisis. She has a blog called Casaubon’s Book, which she describes as ‘my explorations of our future, one that cannot but be shaped by peak oil, climate change and economic instability. I believe passionately that these crises are not the end of our world, but that they must be faced squarely, honestly and with integrity in the true sense of the world – the integration of our whole lives into our ethical principles’.

In an article on her blog (quoted and developed here) she explains Yungblut’s idea and then applies it to the coming diminishments she expects we will all experience as Peak Oil, Climate Change and the economic downturn really start to bite. She calls this ‘Hallowing the Descent’, and explains how Yungblut suggests we adopt a friendly rather than adversarial stance towards our sufferings or privations, which – since they won’t go away – will help us live with them more effectively. Yungblut points out how each diminishment comes with gifts, as Astyk explains: ‘the physical limitations that come with aging also bring with them ‘the reconversion from earning a living to cultural activity’ – that is, there is time to talk to others, to think, to devote to the outside world as we retire and age’. We could add ‘to devote to the inner world too’.

Yungblut then talks about the ultimate diminishment – death – and how accepting its inevitability is the most effective strategy.

I’d like to suggest another phrase which helps me apply this idea to my own life: ‘Hallowing Limitation’. Born in the post-war years, and growing up in a liberal society, I have spent most of my time immersed in a culture that has constantly pushed against limitations and restrictions. Go for gold! The sky’s the limit! This has been the message, not only of consumer marketeers, but sadly of motivational psychology and much of New Age popular spiritual psychology.

But now we need to accept that we may be entering an era in which we will need to limit our ambitions and desires. The mind is a wonderful tool, and with the power of a good idea we can change the way we experience our lives. If rather than feeling punished by them, we are able to hallow the limitations we might start to experience, they can become our allies rather than our enemies. This of course is the way to happiness taught by most spiritual traditions since time immemorial: that of limiting our desires and expectations, so we can open to the blissful awareness that exists beyond the desire body.

If this is too esoteric for you, here’s a down-to-earth image that illustrates the gifts that limitation might harbour – imagine losing access to the television!

Hallowing the Descent, Hallowing Diminishments, Hallowing Limitation – it all boils down to opening ourselves to the gifts that ‘Less’ has to offer: the gifts that silence can bring, that Being rather than Having or Doing can bring.

Philip Carr-Gomm

Awen at the British Museum!

November 15th, 2020

Awen is a central concept and experience in Druid spirituality. I’ve just heard about this fantastic project, even though it occurred 2 years ago. So beautiful!

Samhain 2020

November 3rd, 2020

The blessing I read at the end:

A Blessing for Winter

As the days grow shorter, the late autumn warmth ebbs fully away, leaving behind the damp whisper of winter
May you have solid walls to shelter you and a bright hearth to hold you welcome in its arms.

When the world insists, despite your body’s waning, on a continued quickening of pace
May a stillness settle itself within you and a quiet longing for peace guide you gently home.

If the ghosts of your more haunted days should return in the afternoon darkness, to whisper bitter nothings in your ear
May you have the gentleness of thought and tenderness of touch to usher them kindly away.

May the sharp sun enliven you
May the cold breeze awaken you
May the company of friends warm you
And may the crisp falling leaves remind you of the beauty of each and every fine and precious day.
Adam Harley

Samhain and Beltane Blessings!

October 30th, 2020

I am the dust in the sunlight,
I am the ball of the sun . . .
I am the mist of morning,
the breath of evening . . . .
I am the spark in the stone,
the gleam of gold in the metal . . . .
The rose and the nightingale
drunk with its fragrance.
I am the chain of being,
the circle of the spheres,
The scale of creation,
the rise and the fall.
I am what is and is not . . .
I am the soul in all.

~ Rumi

A ‘Yeats’ poem on the Pandemic

October 30th, 2020

Innisfree Garden – but in Millbrooke, USA

A Brief Pageant of English Verse

I won’t arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
I’ll sanitize the doorknob and make a cup of tea.
I won’t go down to the sea again; I won’t go out at all,
I’ll wander lonely as a cloud from the kitchen to the hall.
There’s a green-eyed yellow monster to the north of Katmandu
But I shan’t be seeing him just yet and nor, I think, will you.
While the dawn comes up like thunder on the road to Mandalay
I’ll make my bit of supper and eat it off a tray.
I shall not speed my bonnie boat across the sea to Skye
Or take the rolling English road from Birmingham to Rye.
About the woodland, just right now, I am not free to go
To see the Keep Out posters or the cherry hung with snow,
And no, I won’t be travelling much, within the realms of gold,
Or get me to Milford Haven. All that’s been put on hold.
Give me your hands, I shan’t request, albeit we are friends
Nor come within a mile of you, until this trial ends.

Author as yet Unknown – do tell me if you track them down and I’ll amend

Coming to Samhain: In Memory of Julian Yates

October 26th, 2020

I dedicated this evening’s tea to a friend who died on Friday: Julian Yates – a lovely bright soul. Here is a newspaper article about Julian with some good photos. And here is the Druid prayer we offer when someone dies, addressed directly to them:

Dear Julian,

May your journey to the Isles of the Blessed, to the fields of Bliss, to the land of freedom and splendour, be swift and sure.

May the Light be your guide on the journey.

May the blessings of the Spirits of the Tribe and of the Ancestors, of Time and of Place and of the Journey be with you.

May the blessing of the Spirits of North and South, East and West be with you.

May the blessing of the Lord and Lady of the Animals and the Woods, the mountains and the streams be with you.

May the blessing of the Uncreated One, whose child is the Created Word, and of the Spirit that is the Inspirer, be always with you.

By the beauty of the fields, the woods and the sea, by the splendour that is set upon all that is, we send you our love and blessings.