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.
Left to Right - River Boyne- River Shannon - St Ann's Well
The Sacred Well
'By gazing into the well and entering a place where everything co-exists, where land and water (Boan and Dagdha) mingle, where the sun and the moon are one; we hear the still primal voice of our ancestry echoing in the chambers of the womb which is in the deep of the earth.'
In this meditation we seek to awaken the essence of the sacred wells and connect to the waters of the world. Before the meditation we lit a candle , honoured the sacred land and made offerings to the ancestors of the land known in Irish lore as the Sidhe.
We then arrived at the sacred well:
'Where the water whispers mid
the shadowy rowan trees
I have heard the Hidden People like
the hum of swarming bees:
And when the moon has risen and the brown
burn glisters grey
I have seen the Green Host marching
in laughing disarray.
Among the nuts in the hazel tree, I sing to the salmon in the faerie pool,
What is the dream the salmon dreams in the well of Connla beneath the hazel?
Green fire of joy, Green fire of life, be with you through stress and strive,
be with you through shadow and shine, rejoice in the Green fire of life.'
'Graceful be the apple tree I behold her adornments of fruit raiment of gold,
as she shines forth, luminous in moonlight,
I catch a glimpse of rebirth of magic, a place in my heart that can never be banished,
A cauldron stirred, a flagon of mead,
I celebrate her warm embrace.'
The three sacred trees of rowan, hazel and apple surround the the well and we then call to the four directions, four deities (please see the Meditation of Elder article) and the four hallows, the sword, spear, cauldron and stone.
This is followed by calling to the spirit of the well in its centre, the female power that resides in its depths to connect to the waters of the world. Her name may be Boan or Sinend the source of the rivers and senses of the world.
We chant: Boann awake x2 Connect the waters of the world and recite the following words which have been adapted from the works of Fiona MacLeod and Eleanor Merry:-
'There is no law set upon beauty, it has no geography, it is the domain of the spirit. All are welcome for what they bring, nor do we demand that they be dark or fair, Latin or Teuton or Celt or say of them that their tidings are lovelier or less lovely because they were born in the shadow of Gaelic hills or nurtured by Celtic shores.
Each should learn the Mother song of their land at the cradle place of their birth. But it is not well that because of the whistling in the wind of the heather that nowhere else does the wind suddenly stir the reeds and grasses in its incalculable hour.
Every nation of the world has its soul and every nation can find it, if it will, and the soul of every people who lineaments may be found not in the mythical Gods themselves but in what they represent, destined each to find it’s alter of its brother and sister soul in the temple of the grail- which is the world. '
We imagine the power of the well as a feminine force connecting all the waters of the world through the rivers, lakes and streams bringing healing to the world soul and love to all lands and nations.
We discussed the importance of connecting with your own local well or waterway which brings healing to your own sense of place while the well of Connla and the well of Segais can be the archetypal or otherworldly sources to your own special place, this in turn honours the spirit of the well more profoundly, as we are not travelling to one sacred spot but honouring all water courses, therefore lessening our impact on the dear earth.
In our next Woodland Bard evening we will explore the deep meanings of Yule through Celtic mythology tracing the creation of the world through the river Goddess and her union with the land itself which instigates a divine child.
The pool of Connla lies in the heart of the Celtic soul surrounded by nine hazel trees laden with bushels of nuts. A rowan tree stretches up before it, with a canopy full of white flowers and bright red berries bound together by the darkness of the moon-lit sky. Oak roots stretch around the well securing and binding its foundations with the power of the Green world and apples shimmer in the distance beckoning us to brighter realms and far-off Isles that reach beyond to shoreless seas and vast expanses.
Mysteries of Elder
In our last Woodland Bard session we entered the Green wood with a poem that was said to be uttered by Sweeney Gelt who ran off into the depths of the woods after a terrible battle, a common theme throughout history where trauma directs us to seek healing in Nature. You may not be able to go out at the moment but you can close your eyes, smell the scents, touch the barks and experience the wooded landscape within you as your own memories enliven.
Thou oak, bushy, leafy,
thou art high beyond trees;
O hazlet, little branching one,
O fragrance of hazel-nuts.
O alder, thou art not hostile,
delightful is thy hue,
thou art not rending and prickling
in the gap wherein thou art.
O little blackthorn, little thorny one;
O little black sloe-tree;
O watercress, little green-topped one,
from the brink of the spring.
O apple-tree, little apple-tree,
much art thou shaken;
O quicken, little berried one,
delightful is thy bloom.
O briar, little arched one,
thou grantest no fair terms,
thou ceasest not to tear me,
till thou hast thy fill of blood.
O yew-tree, little yew-tree,
in churchyards thou art conspicuous;
O ivy, little ivy,
thou art familiar in the dusky wood.
O holly, little sheltering one,
thou door against the wind;
O ash-tree, thou baleful one,
hand-weapon of a warrior.
O birch, smooth and blessed,
thou melodious, proud one,
delightful each entwining branch
in the top of thy crown.
The aspen a-trembling;
by turns I hear
its leaves a-racing--
meseems 'tis the foray!
My aversion in woods--
I conceal it not from anyone--
is the leafy stirk of an oak
In the heart of the Celtic tradition when we remove a more classical interpretation there is no hierarchy, gender or concepts of positive and negative, we are not looking to praise a God or a Goddess but to share our lives with the spirit of all creation.
The Celtic stories start with the land, this is viewed as a constant that has and always will exist. It is the relationship that we and all the ancient races of time have with the land which is of paramount importance.
The land is often depicted in a female form but may sometimes also be depicted in a male form coming up from the depths as an underworld strength that pulses through the mountains, rocks and trees and as the two concepts of male and female blend together as one as they reside in us all.
This time we shall call to the directions through four main Celtic male deities experienced in the elements and directions.
As we listen to the wind caressing the trees and waters, the voice of Oengus Og can be heard in the East speaking of birth and of song and in the South the sun rises from the heat of Lugh Lamhfada speaking of passion and of war and in the West we experience the vision of Manannán mac Lir in the waves of the sea, speaking of sorrow and of dream and in the North the form of the Dagdha speaking of life and of death in the eternal landscape.
Connecting with these deities and seeing them in the elements we can then enter a state of meditation on the Elder.
Mysteries of Elder Meditation.
Before you is a pool of water known as the well of Connla (described above). The river Boyne flows in and out of the well and nine hazel trees and a rowan tree grow beside it. In its centre are the salmon of wisdom and memory. As you gaze into the waters and watch the rippling surface, a doorway opens into your soul landscape.
You enter the door and follow a path with the intention of meeting the Elder Mother. As you approach the tree you show respect and honour her.
The elder tree can look untidy, it may be crawling with insects and buzzing with flies, can you still approach the tree in kindness? Her blossoms and fruit are beautiful and her corky bark and soft pith show her vulnerability.
When one approaches the elder we do so by putting all judgements aside and connecting with all aspects of nature. We accept whatever form she appears to us as, whether it be dark or terrible or kind and forgiving.
Meditate with elder accepting all the forms and temperaments of Mother Nature.
Sitting under her boughs you may wish to reflect on:
Have I any unfinished business I need to attend to?
Do I need to contact a friend or family member to make amends?
Can I reflect on those actions where I have been unfair or even cruel to others?
Am I honestly doing all I can to reduce my impact on the natural world?
Once you have finished reflecting make an offering to her that you truly cherish, it may be a quality rather than a thing or a commitment to help the Earth. Pause for a while and then accept her advice or gift to you which may be in the form of a feeling, thought, picture or words.
Come out of meditation and contemplate your experience.
In the next session we will continue exploring the mysteries of elder through the healing of the world soul enabling us to connect with the waters of life through the goddess Boan and sending healing to all the world.
Hope to see you next time.
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.