soul-making part 2- Daily Ritual
It is likely, at one time the first action we carried out when we woke was to enliven the fire, connect to the deity of the land and make offerings. This ensured our day started with gratitude, love and kindness. This to me seems a beautiful way to start the day? Why should it remain a relic of our distant past?
In a Celtic fire ceremony we are using the tinders, wood, herbs and foods available to us in the immediate environment. This means we experience a world where food is not from the supermarket, medicine is not in pills, wildlife is not on farms and zoos and entertainment is not on a screen. Connecting with ancient tradition is not recreating a bygone past but feeling that excitement again for the trees, plants and animals of wild Britain and understanding our origins, a spirituality that makes us at the forefront of being caretakers of our world outside our own doorsteps. An exciting journey opens into the heart of the landscape and ultimately into the heart of our true nature.
This ceremony can be recreated in your home by lighting a candle instead of a fire. When using a candle never leave it untended and make sure it is in a secure safe place where it will not be knocked over or cause any damage.
Invocation of fire.
‘Through stone and metal I invoke the memory of earth. Through spark and cloth I invoke the fire of life . Through tinder and wood I set my heart ablaze . Through ember and ash I sustain the essence of life.’
The ceremony starts with an invocation of fire which represents the awakening of our soul, a spiritual connection to ourselves. We can then light the candle or a fire.
When I conduct a fire ceremony the fire is lit with local tinders such as clematis and birch bark using a flint and steel. Traditional methods of lighting a fire connect us directly with the elements and the land. Once the fire is lit offerings can be made from the surrounding area, I use hazelnuts and nine sacred herbs.
To make offerings is to feel that sense of giving back what we have received, and as our heart opens it instantly takes us into a more giving, generous place. In Christian tradition we pray, sing hymns and partake in the giving of bread and wine which are the key components of a blessing or thanksgiving ritual.
In paganism we also have the opportunity to carry out this practice enabling us to start each day honouring ourselves, the earth and all life-forms. I feel this is just as important and relevant today as it has ever been. Imagine everyone going to work filled with gratitude and love for each other and all we receive from the world e.g. our food, drink, petrol, car, bicycle etc..... When you have this awareness you realise just how much you do have no matter how simple your life.
Here is a suggested ritual from the Woodland Bard Course:
“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 eaten or offered to the fire representing the nine hazel trees of Connla’sWell which bestow 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.”
adapted from a Traditional Gaelic blessing sourced by Caitlin Matthews in her book Celtic Blessings.
“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.”
adapted from the book of the invasions of Ireland translation provided by Irish texts society.
The ritual ends with a meditation, many blessings of peace for all people and all life-forms upon the earth. This one ceremony brings together so many aspects of connecting and working with nature and soul. It is an earthy practical spirituality which teaches us to live in harmony with the earth.
For a more detailed exploration of Ritual you may wish to explore our Woodland Bard Course or
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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.