In our last Woodland Bard Live Online session we entered into the deep memories of the Earth through the hawthorn tree.
We chanted to the Earth Mother and entered the well of memory. In its depths was the old Bard who would be our guide.
His name is Tuan MacCairill and he witnessed the coming and going of the races of Ireland as well as the stirrings of nature through the forms of the animals.
In Celtic lore and indeed indigenous culture all across the world it is the animals which are our guides and hold the memories of the Earth. Tuan MacCairill by taking the forms of the animals of Land, Sea and Sky is able to enter into the evolution of the Earth tracing its early stirrings back to the first species that would have witnessed it.
I’m Tuan MacCairill, ancient bard of old,
remembering our Celtic ancestry and the stories once told.
‘I approached the caves of the hoary sleepers. I was old and decrepit.
In the cave I was born again, young and glad of heart.
I was a stag of nine tines, king of all deer,
Victory and joy were easy for me.
I witnessed all the deeds of Neimheadh.
I was a wild black, king of all boar herds,
Faithful to any custom.
I witnessed all the deeds of the Fir Bolg.
I was a great eagle,
King of all the skies,
I rejoiced in youth and vigour.
I witnessed all the deeds of the Tuatha de Danann
I was a speckled salmon,
King of all fish,
Wise beyond all years.
I was eaten by the Queen of the Milesians and as a human born again.’
As we enter the well and connect to our inner landscape we can experience the deep memories that are contained in our souls. As you enter the well and meet Tuan MacCairill imagine taking the form of a deer, feel what it is like to be this powerful animal of the land and experience the qualities of victory and joy.
Continue on into your inner landscape and become a bristly black boar in the old woods, feel its strength and determination. Ask yourself what customs are you faithful to? What are the elements that hold you to the essence of all that you are?
In your own time become an eagle and soar across the landscape rejoicing in youth and vigour. What is that spark that keeps you alive and full of energy?
Then finally enter the Salmon pool and meditate deeply on your innate wisdom, experience a connection to the deep memories of the Earth:
- Meditate -
This Sunday (30th May) at 6pm you may wish to join us for our next Woodland Bard Evening which uses the power of story, poetry and chant to aid deep meditation.
THE FIVE INVASIONS AND FIVE EXTINCTIONS
In our Woodland Bard Evenings we have been exploring the Takings of Ireland (Lebor Gabala Erenn).
These invasion myths are fascinating for they not only do they cover an evolution of the land but also its destruction as the various attempts of creation end in disaster. When we remember that this was written before science had uncovered so much of the earth’s history, it is incredible the understanding it brings of ecology and evolution.
My interpretation of the story you will find in the above recording.
We now know that there have been five mass extinctions which demonstrates this concept of whole species being wiped out is exactly how the creative powers of evolution has behaved.
These stories ironically are often called the Five invasions of Ireland. We will continue these stories in more detail but for now the five races in this context would be the first race of Cessair or Banbha, followed by Partholon, the Queen of which was Dalny, the Neimheadh who’s Queen was Macha and then the Firbolgs and the Tuatha de Dannann.
This theme of extinctions has come to light in recent times as the actions the human race has had upon the earth are becoming more and more apparent. The five mass extinctions were often to do with change in atmosphere and climate and it is the plants that are needed to stabilise these effects. Once there has been a mass extinction the remaining species will then start to thrive. As with the story above it is like a constant balancing act as creation changes and responds to how species colonise, sea levels change and volcanoes erupt. The last extinction which wiped out the dinosaurs may have come from a shower of asteroids hitting the earth.
The further theme explored in the above story is how creation reacts to change. After Banbha is taken down to the sea the Giantess Domnu gives birth to the giants which start as disfigured grotesque beings and then become the most beautiful beings ever known. This as we have already explored is how nature is, embodying all aspects of dark and light.
After each extinction or successive wave of evolution the surviving species left can then flourish, they are the ideal species to cope with the new conditions and are now free from all competition.
We are currently in a sixth extinction which is a process that usually happens over millions of years. The fact is this latest extinction process is happening a hundred times more quickly than the natural evolution rate.
The facts are staggering and I write them here not to induce fear but to bring us into alignment of the truth of what is happening. Today we have to be careful about the sources that we study, we have to make sure the facts have been correctly gathered and researched.
Expert scientists that are well-informed by correctly gathered research include Sir Robert Watson who is the chair of the intergovernmental platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem services, Professor Kathy Willis, a plant scientist and Professor Elizabeth Hadly who is a biologist as well as the important work of Dr Toby Gardner who is a director of Transparency for Sustainable Economies.
For the first time in history scientists and economists from all over the world have assessed human activities and their global impact. Many of these experts have been aware of this crisis for at least 25 years and because of the pressure from gigantic corporations and Governments, the facts have been completely ignored.
Currently we are destroying species from all parts of the world from all different orders and classes simultaneously at the highest rates ever in history!
- In 50 years 60% of all birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have declined.
- Twenty five percent of our plant species are threatened.
- Five hundred thousand insects are in danger.
- Thirty percent of the world’s soil has been degraded and now has a low biodiversity.
- Three quarters of all our large animals have disappeared from the areas they are historically found.
- Five hundred thousand species of animal and plant species are in danger of extinction.
- The land surface has lost ninety percent of its wetlands.
- Seventy five percent of the land surface which is not covered in ice is being used for just one species.
We currently destroy about ten million hectares a year of Forest per year. In just 40 years we have cut a billion hectares, an area the size of Europe. How can this not have an effect when we are aware plants support our key life cycles? Our crops depend on the soil and three quarters of the world’s food crops require insect pollination.
Although climate change is rapidly becoming the biggest issue we need to face, currently habitat destruction is the most serious threat driven by our consumption of mainly soy, cocoa, coffee, palm oil and beef.
The incredible facts to currently note is we do have enough cleared land to feed the world especially when you consider forty percent of our food is wasted and the solutions are economically viable creating jobs and opportunity to come out of our current world recession.
Top economists such as Professor Lord Nicolas Stern and Sir Partha Dasgupta are stating that if companies pay a high price for extracting from nature it will benefit us all creating affordable food without the need for expansion and waste. The banning of CFCs was the perfect example of how quickly industry adapted to create more environmentally friendly products.
The above information is yet another example of how the most ancient mythology is still relevant today and as we continue the story cycle we shall see that working in harmony with the planet that was expressed from what seems as early as megalithic times is paramount to the intrinsic motivation of all indigenous people from around the world.
If you would like to explore your indigenous connection to the land, join us for our Woodland Bard evenings.
The next one is on Sunday 16th May@6pm, all are welcome.
Willow invites us to acknowledge our grief and suffering and be aware of the destruction we unleash onto the green world. Owning up to the part we play in harming nature need not be a depressing or guilty process but an empowering, compassionate and ultimately freeing process.
It is only by entering the darkness, feeling grief and truly acknowledging the darker aspects of ourselves that we can discover the strength of bees which is the entrance to the ‘Delightful land of honey and wine.’
The Kennings of the Willow tree take us into the realms of death linking willow to bees, grief and loss:
Willow, the colour of the lifeless one
owing to the resemblance of its colour to a dead person.
Hue of the lifeless.
Beginning of loss, willow.
Strength of bees.
Book of Ballymote 1391
In Celtic lore the old women of wisdom, may be gnarled and twisted just like a Willow but command respect and bestow wisdom. In fact it is the old crones like the Cailleach and the Morrigawn who are the guardians of wisdom and the mysteries of death.
Meditation- Gifting the land
Visualise the land, a place you have a deep connection with as in previous meditations, somewhere you know on the physical realm. Imagine going into the land through a doorway or well and as you go into the land you arrive within it experiencing your patch of land as it looks in subtle reality.
It may look the same or maybe you notice differences, allow it to express itself however it wishes to be seen. It may be a different time of day or have a different flora or aspect.
Focus on pouring your love into the land, feel that gentle connection to all of life. As you breathe you become more and more relaxed and feel more connected.
Now get a sense of a Willow tree and as you walk the paths of your inner landscape allow her to reveal herself.
Sit under the old mother willow protected and nurtured.
After a while make an offering to the tree, you may wish to offer what you value the most and as you offer it watch the Willow transform your gift and without expectation see if she offers something back. Gently pray and offer blessings to the Willow and all of nature, be filled with peace.
We can all feel the support of nature with the knowledge that we must also give something back.
I will leave you with these simple words from the Penan tribe from Borneo in South East Asia whose words are now reflected in our most recent scientific research:
‘We as Forest people have to be equal to one another. There’s absolutely no one above the other. We are exactly the same.
Trees are like humans. If the really big trees die, so do all humans.
If the forest dies, humanity dies. The Forest may die. The forest says: We are all part of the same family’
If you would like to join us Live online to explore the Willow and a gentle connection with the Earth Mother please click on link below:
In this meditation we shall explore the power of creation through the four women of power
Banba, Domnu, Dalny, Macha.
We shall begin with an invocation to the trees:
The Dagdha caresses the seasons into being by the music that he plays on his harp made of oak. He has a huge pronged club which can both take and give life. He has many titles including the Father of Many and the Good God. The word 'good' relating to his skills rather than his character. He has a huge presence with a large red beard and an ability to build raths (circular earthen walls forming an enclosure for the tribal chief) in a single day. This means he not only maintains the farming lands but builds the dwellings for the Sidhe chieftains. As the father of Brigit and lover of the Morrigawn he is connected to the most potent and powerful forms of the Earth Mother.
Here is an invocation to the Dagdha with a focus on the trees:
Good God Dagdha, Father of Many, Parentage of the Sidhe, All-knowing Noble,
Spirit of the Green Wood shelter us; Power of the soft brown earth comfort us.
May the strength rising from the roots of the trees transport us to the bright realms acting as pillars of hope.
May the roots of trees ground us in one reality,
taking us into the depths of our being, the womb of the earth.
Inspiring us to be caretakers of all Nature.
Alder, ash, aspen, black popular, bird, wild cherry and beech
Common and sessile oak, box, crab apple, silver, downy birch and maple
Small, large leaved lime, midland and common thorn, whitebeam, wild service and rowan,
Pine, strawberry tree, holly, hornbeam, hazel, juniper and elm.
Crack, white, bay, goat willow, plymouth, wild pear and yew.
Good God Daghdha, May we be as steady as a tree,
serving all beings and taken only that which we need to sustain our lives.
Good God Daghdha, Envelop us in the knowledge of the Green Wood.
Teach us to have a compassionate heart and truly love all souls equally as one.
Beithe, Luis, Fearn, Sail, Nion, Huath, Duir, Tinne, Coll, Quert, Muin,Gort, Ngetal, Straiph, Ruis, Ailm, Onn, Ur- Heather, Eadhadh, Idhadh. (Tree Ogham names)
(Birch, Rowan, Alder, Willow, Ash, Hawthorn, Oak, Holly, Hazel, Apple, Vine, Broom, Blackthorn, Elder, Pine, Gorse, Heather, Aspen, Yew)
We enter the wild ancient woodlands....
Now imagine going deeper into the memories of the land, to a time when the land was only just forming.
The first woman Banbha steps upon the land and it greets her with delight, the land folds, mountains form, rivers burst forth and a green carpet covers the landscape.
The water’s rise and Banbha is taken down into the depths of salty water to rise again as Domnu giving birth to the giants who represent the early people and the elemental powers of the Earth.
Dalny comes from the south west and her gentle strength creates more lochs and rivers to burst forth but then plague takes her back into the depths to resurface as Macha, the mother of races who comes forth from the North challenging the giants on a golden chariot with a raven upon her shoulder and the confidence of a warrior. She gives birth to the races of the Fir bolg, Tuatha de Dannaan and the Britons before going back into the depths of the Earth as the Earth Mother of all.
Meditate on this early stirring of creation and the early races subdued by nature’s forces. Meditate on our origins as a shared ancestry and how the land feels as she responds to our actions.
May we respect, love and honour all the places we visit and walk upon.
We will continue to honour the land and waterways in our next Woodland Bard Session as we explore the willow and the Morrigina, the dark goddess who is known as Neamhain, Badbha and Macha and calls us all to be caretakers of the countryside. Click below if you wish to join us.
Visualise a well or body of water and place it in the centre of a landscape you are familiar with. In the Woodland Bard meditations this is your personal representative of Connla's well (please see sacred well ritual blog here).
The landscape can be a park or even a verge as well as an expanse of wilderness. The key to this meditation is it is somewhere you can visit easily in order to have an ongoing physical connection. If for any reason you are housebound then your immediate surroundings or a memory of your nearest area will also work.
As with all visualisation it is best to not force imagery that is not there so if you have a patch of land without a well or body of water you can always go to the well as your entry point separately but please do not over think it, allow it to simply happen.
Once you have settled in visualising your sacred spot or just know it is there you may wish to chant:
Ancient Mother, connect us to the plants,
Connect to the Soil, Sea and Sky,
Banba, Domnu, Dealgnaid, Macha
Nettle and dock give true nutrition,
Avens, alehoof soothe our constitution,
Plantain, self-heal, yarrow . Herb robert,
Heal our wounds make us whole.
Agrimony, speedwell, willowherb, clover,
Clear our lungs, cough no longer,
Dandelion, Burdock, purify our blood,
Wood sage for our appetite, foxglove for the heart,
Archangel for stress, it gives a good rest.
Herbs are our healers, plants are our friends,
You may call them weeds but they help us mend.
Now bring to mind your spot of land. What plants grow under foot? What trees grow above you? Do you know its geology and how it was formed? Focus upon the land giving it your clear attention and sending it healing love.
All the land is alive and has an indwelling spirit.
When you are ready bring your attention to your entry point whether it be a well or another body of water. You may decide to just simply enter the landscape that is before you through a doorway.
Arrive in your inner landscape and focus on it's inner beauty contemplating all that the plants give to us :
The elements formed the land then dressed her with plants.
The plants made oxygen accessible creating the perfect conditions for all life.
They then harvested the energy of the sun and made it also available to us thus meaning every movement that we make is only possible due to plants.
The plants absorb water so there are no floods and release water to avoid deserts.
They store carbon deep in the earth to make the atmosphere safe for us then reach down to obtain iron and transport it to the seas to feed the underwater forests.
Finally when they die they create soil and give everything back.
A billion years it took for them to create these perfect conditions, a billion years to balance soil, sky and earth.
Where would be without plants?
As you contemplate an especial plant may come to mind, hold this plant in your heart and see it as an ally for your meditation bringing it into to focus whenever you need to relax or meditate.
March is a time when the Green world awakens let us celebrate and honour the joy of plants.
This is a spring board to continue our studies into the Alder tree which we shall meditate more deeply on at our next Woodland Bard evening on the 21st March 2021@6pm
Visualise a light airy wood, a spring wood filled with beautiful flowers that is open and inviting. It may have streams, springs or even waterfalls. Imagine a birch tree in the centre of the wood. As you approach the tree notice its silvery bark and light green triangular leaves. Take in any scents and tune in to how the ground and the air feel around you.
Sit for a while with the Birch absorbing a gentle stillness. Nature can be tentative yet tenacious, gentle yet strong, unfolding with many delights, slowly breaking the cold spell of winter as well as bringing it on. Meditate on the vital qualities of gentleness and kindness, nurture and sweetness. Feel the embrace of the soft aspects of Mother Nature.
Only when you are ready, observe, tune in or just know they are there, the delicate yet hardy flowers of the forest. Smell their scents, touch their leaves or just absorb their qualities.
Is there an especial plant you are drawn to? Can you let go to their gentle healing?
Allow yourself to relax in this beautiful safe place and know you can return anytime and build on its nurturing imagery.
Women of the Cauldron
In the birch grove you enter the roundhouse of Bodhmall who is accompanied by Muirne and the Grey one of Liachair. These are powerful women from the ancient stories of Ireland. Bodhmall is an aged Druidess, Liachair is a mature warrior and Muirne is a young women. Together they represent the three stages of life- youth, maturity and old age.
There are herbs hanging from the rafters and a large cauldron simmering in its centre. The three women add many herbs to the cauldron and as they do so you feel more complete and healed:
Wild women of the woods knit my soul together,
Wild women of the woods make me whole.
Gather all the forest herbs and wisdom of the trees,
May nature bind me as one and make me complete.
Bodhmall, Luchair, Muirne,
Weave my soul together.
Bodhmall, Luchair, Muirne,
Make me whole.
The following herbs are added to the cauldron:
Medicine of Selfheal, generosity of Clover, triumph of Nettle, tenderness of Avens, nurturing of Strawberry, connection of Dandelion, replenishment of Plantain, tenacity of Yarrow, stability of Celandine, wisdom of Vervain, fearlessness of Burdock, energy of Agrimony, nobility of meadowsweet, vitality of Ramsons, perseverance of Willowherb, soothing of Ground ivy, movement of Cleavers, gentleness of Chickweed, protection of Teasel and beauty of scabious.
You lay or sit in the roundhouse and feel the healing herbs going deep within you, healing any parts of you that are in need.
Remember it is the qualities of the herbs you are absorbing rather than their physical use. Allow yourself to be at peace and connect with the wild wood plants of the Forest Grove.
If you would like to experience or learn more about meditating in this way you may wish to join us online with our live Woodland Bard Evenings, the next one is on Sunday 7th March@6pm.
Left to Right- Birch Grove- Downy Birch leaves- Silver Birch leaves
A Meditation on Birch and Brigit.
Visualise a light airy wood, a spring wood filled with beautiful flowers that is open and inviting. It may have streams, springs or even waterfalls. Remember you can still connect with the feeling of spring in the depths of winter. Get a sense of the centre of the wood where you will find a birch tree. As you approach the tree notice its silvery bark and light green triangular leaves. Take in any scents and tune in to how the ground and the air feel around you.
Sit for a while with the Birch absorbing a gentle stillness. Nature can be tentative yet tenacious, gentle yet strong, unfolding many delights slowly breaking the cold spell of winter as well as bringing it on. Meditate on the vital qualities of gentleness and kindness, nurture and sweetness. Feel the embrace of the soft aspects of Mother Nature.
As you meditate you sense a presence of a young woman: Brigit.
Let us begin with chanting to Brigit before meeting her:
CH: The Sacred Three My fortress be Encircling me,
Come and be round My hearth, My home.
Brighid, Bride, Breeju, lady of the land, the exalted one;I pray to you.
Three daughters of the Dagdha, Healers of the sick, Muse of the poets, Masters of craft;
I pray to you.
Protector of the Green World, Shield Maiden of Animals, Mother of All;I pray to you.
Power of the Elements, Essence of the Earth, Goddess of all Nature;
I pray to you.
Bringer of oxen- Fea and Feimhean, Bringer of pigs- Triath and Torc.
Guardian of pasture; I pray to you.
Mother of Goibniun the smith, Luchta the wright, Credne Cerd the metalworker.
Alchemy of craft; I pray to you.
Power of the Divine female rising from the womb of the earth, protect us from all calamity, misendeavour and bad intention.
As we settle in the green birch wood and chant to Brigid we tune into nature, we sense any animals that are with us and when we are ready we make a heartfelt offering to the birch trees.
Brigit approaches us and wraps her mantle around our shoulders which will keep us safe from harm for the coming year. We remember the power of gentleness and all it can bestow upon us.
Our next Woodland Bard evening will continue to explore the Birch Grove and the healing power of herbs on Sunday 21st February @ 6pm.
All are welcome.
Invocation of the Bard
I’m Luis MacDara and I hear the ancient song,
I hear the ancient song of the Earth.
I am an exile I belong to no tribe,
I hear the ancient song the earth.
This land runs through every fibre of my being,
I hear the ancient song of the Earth.
I feel her pain, the savage lament,
I hear the ancient song of the Earth.
I witness the stories erupt from the land,
I hear the ancient song of the Earth.
I am a chronicler, a storyteller,
I hear the ancient song of the Earth.
I only sip from the sacred cup,
to heal the wastelands of the earth
I hear the ancient song of the Earth.
For I am Luis MacDara, Bard of the North, South, East and West.
Lover of woodlands, inspired by Nature,
Words are my coracle, riding on a sea of inspiration, metaphor and wisdom,
Conveyed through their constant use.
I am the son of poetry, poetry, son of reflection, reflection son of meditation, meditation son of lore, lore son of research, research son of great knowledge, great knowledge son of intelligence, intelligence son of comprehension, comprehension son of wisdom, wisdom son of the three gods of Danu.
All of the tales I tell are true for they have come down from the ancient bards of old, from Fintan mac Bochra to Tuan mac Cairill to Urard mac Coise down to the saints of old, Patrick, Columcille and Brigit to my own ears.
Genealogy of memory from 'The Colloquy of the Two Sages' (Book of Leinster 1100CE sourced by Caitlin Matthews)
Fintan mac Bochra and Tuan mac Cairill were the first bards of Ireland. They lived for many hundreds of years and took the forms of different animals to witness the stories of the land. The first invocation above relates an idea of hearing the stories erupt from the land and that there are no stories if no-one is alive to witness them
The second invocation lists the ways to wisdom which indicates effort as well as inspiration is needed and finally in my own words I list the lineage of transmission of the stories which comes down from the ancient bards who are the ancestry of the land into the new Christian tradition via the saints before reaching my own ears as Luis MacDara.
Meditation - The Wildwood of Knowledge
We enter into the deep dark woods of knowledge and as we enter we get a sense of meeting an aged yew tree as old as the earth itself.
The Yew of Mugna, it was a hallowed treasure,
Nine hundred bushels was its bountiful yield,
It fell in Dairbre southward,
Across Magh Ailbe of the cruel combats.
The Bole of Ross, a comely yew,
With abundance of broad timber,
The tree without hollow or flaw,
The stately bole, how did it fall?
Sit by the aged tree which is as old as the ancient stones and it contains the memories of all of creation. Here your guides become even more real, do you sense an animal that is with you? You may already have a strong connection with an animal guide in which case spend a little time with them. If you are not aware of an animal start to focus your intent on one, an animal that feels right, an animal that probably reflects your own innate characteristics, what we call a familiar.
Spend time in meditation with your animal and the presence of trees.
I feel the forest within me (x3), plants growing inside.
Tree spirits I see you (x3), I know you are alive.
Plant spirits encompass me (x3), weave your wisdom of life.
Under soil, under sea, old old woods, take thee.
Nymphs, fauns, centaurs, giants, teach me to serve.
In our next Woodland Bard Evening on Sunday 7th February@6pm we shall explore Brigit and the Spring through the gentle presence of the Birch tree.
YULe Blessing and Meditation
Yule is a time to reflect and go within, a time to recharge ready for the coming year. In our woodland bard session we started with a Gaelic prayer and a blessing adapted and translated into English:
‘I arise today through the strength of heaven: Light of sun, Radiance of moon, Splendour of fire, Speed of lighting, Swiftness of wind, Depth of sea, Stability of earth, Firmness of rock.’
The Deer's Cry or St Patricks Breastplate – translation Kuno Meyers 1925
Based on a Traditional Gaelic blessing
“We bathe your palms In the showers of wine - the wine ( or a herbal drink if preferred) can be sipped.
In the crook of the kindling, - the kindling can be briefly held.
In the seven elements:
The blessing of air- wave a feather gently around your head to receive the blessing of air.
The blessing of fire- move your hands from the candle/fire to your head as if taking a shower of fire. ( do not touch the flame)
The blessing of water- dip your fingers into a chalice/cauldron and sprinkle the water gently over your head.
The blessing of earth- sprinkle ash or soil lightly on your palms and rub it in as a blessing of the earth.
The blessing of wood- hold a wand in your hands briefly to take the essence of the element.
The blessing of metal- hold a steel/knife in your hands briefly to take the essence of the element.
The blessing of spirit- spend a moment in silence.
In the sap of the tree, -hold fresh bark/ sap or offer to the fire/alter
In the milk of honey, - eat or offer honey to the fire or alter.
We place nine pure, choice gifts upon your clear beloved face: as each gift is spoken a gift of a hazelnut can be offered to the fire representing the nine hazel trees of Nectan's Well which bestows wisdom.
The gift of form, The gift of voice, The gift of fortune,
The gift of goodness, The gift of eminence,
The gift of charity, The gift of integrity,
The gift of true nobility, The gift of apt speech.
Dark is yonder town, Dark are those within.
You are the brown swan, Going within fearlessly. - visualise yourself as the brown swan going within fearlessly.
Their hearts beneath your hand, Their tongues beneath your foot.
No word will they utter to do you ill.
You are a shade in the heat, You are a shelter in the cold, - really imagine embodying these qualities as you speak them individually with awareness.
You are the eyes to the blind, You are a staff to the pilgrim,
You are an island in the sea, You are a stronghold upon land,
You are a well in the wasteland, You are healing to the sick.
You are the luck of every joy, You are the light of the sun's beams,
You are the door of lordly welcome, You are the pole star of guidance,
You are the step of the roe of the height , You are the step of the white-faced mare,
You are the grace of the swimming swan,
You are the jewel in each mystery.”
“You are wind of sea, You are ocean wave, - really visualise and become these aspects.
You are roar of sea, You are bull of seven fights,
You are vulture on cliff, You are dew-drop,
You are fairest of flowers, You are bull for boldest,
You are salmon in pool, You are lake in plain,
You are a mountain in a man, You are a word of skill.”
last paragraph adapted from the book of the invasions of Ireland translation provided by Irish texts society.
After the blessing I told the following tale:
In the garden of a small cottage a young women sat near to her father's well. She knew she mustn't approach it for only her father Nectan and his three cup-bearers were allowed to take the waters. Boann was angered by this for she wondered how these men could know of the waters of life as she did; for she could feel them in her body, in her womb, in her essence.
In defiance she went over the nearby valley to visit a farmer called Dagdha. He was unkept, his clothes never quite fitted and his hair never brushed. He eat vasts amount of porridge and loved the land from which he grew grains, vegetables and roots.
Boann and Dagdha were in love and despite the union not being approved they met in secrecy. On this night they caressed, sung together, recited poetry and made love. Boann knew she had conceived a child and that her father would not approve and so she continued to defy him by approaching the well.
She walked around it widdershins challenging the passage of the sun itself and all creation. She removed the capstone and as she did so the water released so forcibly it removed her eye from its socket. She ran from the waters but it caught up with her removing her thigh and hand with its terrible power.
Then she broke through into our world where she was the river itself which flowed from the source of the well, she flowed over the valley where she saw the Dagdha who was the land itself and materialised into a gigantic oak tree-
Eo Mugna, great was the fair tree,
High its top above the rest,
Thirty cubits it was no trifle,
That was the measure of its girth.
Three hundred cubits was the height of the blameless tree.
Its shadow sheltered a thousand.
In secrecy it remained in the north and east
Until the time of Conn Ceadchathach.
A hundred score of warriors, no empty tale,
Along with ten hundred and forty
Would that tree shelter, it was a fierce struggle,
Until it was overthrown by the poets.
This oak was glorious and Boann as the river Boyne felt such desire for it. The oak stretched out its roots and caressed the river banks and as they met as land and water a great love bonded them in harmony.
Boann lifted the water rolled rocks up onto the banks and the Dagdha formed a tremendous palace with them that they could live in. The sun on this longest night stayed stubbornly below the horizon until finally they were ready.
The first tentative rays of the sun rose from the horizon, lighting up the palace as it penetrated the gaps in rock and stone, caressing the green world and bringing new life in the form of a most beautiful man- Aengus og.
He was the union of land and water, fire and wind and sang more sweetly than the birds, recited poetry that inspired all who heard it and shone like the sun itself.
A divine child was born....
This was the tale of the winter solstice that I told recognising that the divine child comes in many forms at this time of year and in this story he was Aengus Og.
Taking this imagery we called to the energy of the river and the its source, the well of Nectan ( please see sacred well article) and entered into meditation.
As we entered the well we were drawn down into our inner landscape connecting with the waters but then also with the strength of the Dagdha in the form of an oak. The great oak of Celtica is known as Eo Mugna as described above and connecting with that strong male energy is essential to balance the feminine energies of the water whatever gender that you are.
The male energy of the Dagdha through the oak at this time of year calls us to settle under its boughs, to rest and recharge. To resist the urge to respond and react and top up our energies for the coming year .
Meditate deeply with the oak and receive the deep blessings of peace as nature and soul hibernate into the safe caves of the web of life.
If you wish to experience deep meditation and attend our Woodland Bard Evenings, please find more details by clicking on the button below for our 10th January meet@ 6pm.
MYSTERIES OF THE MOON & the soul shrine
In the deep recesses of the earth the Dagdha works the land and in the depths of the wells Boann maintains the waters. They unite as land and water, their off spring being the green world reflected in the night sky as Bealach na Bo Finne, the way of the white cow that most of us know as the milky way. This means that not only did she create the river Boyne but the stars above, the galaxy itself.
In Celtic tradition the more we excavate the depths of the earth, the more we understand the cosmos as the stars themselves as well as the moon shine in the underworld.
Meditation- Discovering our Soul Shrine
As we enter the well we call to Boann, the river Goddess to unite the world's waters then we drop down into the well, climb down the ancient yew and arrive in the old stone circle where the moon rises upon cold stone engraved with cups and rings, spirals and circles, the deep ancestors speak to us through memory of moon on stone,.
We chant to the moon:
Power of the Moon, come to thee,
Spirit of the Moon, guide thee,
Song the moon, comfort thee,
In how to heal the earth.
Deep in the moonlit chamber, I await death.
Deep in the moonlit chamber I await rebirth.
Deep in the moonlit chamber my soul stirs.
Hope and memory give birth to life.
My own passions and wants.
My own pure intentions and hopes.
Bind them as one in the light of the moon.
Opposites mingle in darkness; the common thread unites them.
Judge not my intentions, only my considered actions in the light of the day.
My confessions in the shadow are my willingness to perceive truth:
Deep in the moonlit chamber.
Ancient stone, old old ways, glimmering moon, come to thee,
Enter well, Follow tree, Stone Circle, awaken me,
Passage graves, sunlit chamber, Faerie dweller, embody me.
Deep in the moonlit chamber, deep in the womb of the earth,
Where all creation begins, where all give birth.
We bathe in her shimmering light and old old memories come to us in the knowledge of the Moon.
Left to right- Newgrange - Passage chamber within Newgrange - Spirals carved on stone
Only when we are ready whilst in the stone circle, we notice three spirals joined together to form the triskele engraved in a central stone.
We look at it and allow it to take us even further down into the landscape, the path is lit and as the landscape opens up we see Brugh na Boinne (Newgrange) before us, an ancient stone tomb covered in turf. We approach the door, knock thrice and enter.
As we enter our guide or guides may well be there. In the centre is a warm hearth and the atmosphere is friendly and kind.
We sit in the ancient tomb, our spiritual home, our soul shrine and meditate, relaxing deeply taking in the beauty of this sunlit chamber. It is here that we refresh for the coming day, week or even year. Once your meditation concludes go back to the well, climb the tree and find yourself once more back in your room or wherever you began your meditation.
Do not underestimate the support this meditation gives you. When you feel overwhelmed or are having difficulties bring the stone circle to your memory and focus on the triskele giving you renewed strength and courage.
Below is the triskele symbol.
If you would like to explore these themes further join us at the Woodland Bard Evening and explore the depths of your inner world.
Poetry of flowers
Join me to explore the flora of the British Isles on this blog. My intention is to attempt to capture the unique quality and beauty of each species of flower, tree or shrub. For every species featured I will be growing many more wildflowers to celebrate the joy of their existence, their intrinsic conservation value and bewildering array of uses. For nearly 30 years I have noted, studied and explored wildflowers in the field much to the patience of the walker beside me. To share this passion is a heartfelt plea to respect, preserve and care for all British Wildflowers no matter how common they seem.