Reading – Celebrations

CELEBRATING WINTER SOLSTICE 2016

Eleven stalwart GreenSpirits gathered in our home on Sunday 18th December to anticipate and celebrate the Winter Solstice. It seemed an appropriate time to pause and do some deep reflecting.  So this is what we did.

Debbie introduced the session with our customary opening ritual. Catherine then spoke of a recent visit to Tate Britain, where she viewed an exhibit of paintings by Paul Nash.  Many of these were scenes of nearby Oxfordshire, country we had often rambled in and were familiar with.  In his artwork, Nash wanted to convey his experience of Nature as alive and able to communicate with him in profound ways.

We had asked members to bring along something natural – a flower or stone, for example. The following passage, adapted from “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle, was then read aloud:

THE FLOWERING OF HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS

Earth, 114 million years ago, one morning just after sunrise:

The first flower ever to appear on the planet opens up to receive the rays of the sun.  Prior to this momentous event, the planet had already been covered in vegetation.  The first flower probably did not survive for long and flowers must have remained rare and isolated phenomena. One day, however, a critical threshold was reached, and suddenly there would have been an explosion of colour and scent all over the planet.

Much later, those delicate fragrant beings, we call flowers, would come to play an essential part in the evolution of consciousness of another species.  Humans would increasingly be drawn to and fascinated by them.  As the consciousness of human beings developed, flowers were most likely the first thing they came to value that had no utilitarian purpose for them, that is to say, was not linked in some way to survival.  They provided inspiration for countless artists, poets and mystics.  Jesus tells us to contemplate the flowers and learn from them how to live.  The Buddha is said to have given a ‘silent sermon’ once, during which he held up a flower and gazed at it.  After a while, one of those present, began to smile.  According to legend, that smile later became the origin of Zen.

Seeing beauty in a flower could awaken humans to the beauty that is an essential part of their own innermost being, their true nature. Without our fully realizing it, flowers would become for us an expression in form of that which is most lofty, sacred and ultimately formless within ourselves.  Flowers would be like messengers from another realm, like a bridge between the world of physical forms and the formless.

What could be heavier and more impenetrable than a rock, the densest of all forms?  Yet some rocks undergo a change in their molecular structure and turn into crystals.  Some carbons, under inconceivable heat and pressure, turn into diamonds, and some heavy minerals into other precious stones.

Crawling reptilians, the most earthbound of all creatures, have remained unchanged for millions of years.  But some grew feathers and wings and turned into birds, defying the force of gravity that had held them for so long.

Since time immemorial, flowers, crystals, precious stones, and birds have held special significance for the human spirit.  Like all life forms, they are temporary manifestations of the underlying one Life, one Consciousness.

So, when you are alert and contemplate a flower, crystal or bird, it becomes a window for you into the formless.  There is an inner opening or portal into the realm of spirit.  That is why these three life-forms have played such an important part in the evolution of human consciousness – why, for example, the jewel in the lotus flower is a central symbol of Buddhism and the white dove signifies the Holy Spirit in Christianity.  These have been preparing the ground for a more profound shift in planetary consciousness that is destined to take place in the human species.  This is the spiritual awakening that we are moving towards.

 A period of silence followed, during which we were invited to engage in a tete-a-tete with our natural objects/subjects.  We broke the silence to share our experience of the process.

We had also asked those attending to bring a little gift for a Christmas Lucky Dip.  When all had chosen their mystery presents, Debbie led us in our closing ritual. Our challenge now is to live the consciousness we glimpsed in our brief encounter with the natural world, of which we are a part.

Brendan

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This year  our traditional New Year Walk  walk was entitled “Tread gently on the Earth ” It was a lovely walk along the Ridgeway .  This is one of the readings we had to welcome the coming year.

May the earth continue to live

May the heaven above continue to live

May the rain continue to dampen the land

May the wet forest continue to grow

Then the flower shall bloom

And we people shall live again

Hawaihan  prayer

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IMBOLC ~ Awakening

Earth stirs as the power of the sun returns to the northern hemisphere. Candles are lit to celebrate inspiration and truth. It’s a time of new beginnings as tiny buds and shoots of life emerge.

 

Behold the God and Goddess

Lord of the forest and his bride

Once again the Earth is blessed

With life anew inside.

Seeds shall soon begin to sprout

And creatures shall young bear

For this is the promise, the cycle of life

That is born of the love they share.

 

IMBOLC 5 – Elements Ritual

All face east:  AIR IN THE EAST                                          

We celebrate air the breath of life. Air is the medium connecting our common prayers and pledges. We greet the sunrise in the east welcoming in the light of inspiration and fresh new beginnings.

In unison: WE WELCOME YOU AIR IN THE EAST

All face south: FIRE IN THE SOUTH

We give thanks for fire emerging as sunlight glints upon frost. Activity quickens. We light the fires of hearth and home as our ancestors lit bonfires and candles to celebrate the rebirth of the land.

In unison: WE WELCOME YOU FIRE IN THE SOUTH

All face west: WATER IN THE WEST

We give thanks for the water of life. Winter ends with the hush of snowfall and sting of sleet. As a changing climate brings rising floods we strive for a mutually enhancing relationship with water.

In unison: WE WELCOME YOU WATER IN THE WEST

All face north: EARTH IN THE NORTH

We welcome nature awakening and celebrate the regenerative power of winter. Ewes give birth and the milk of life flows again. New growth stirs as spring bulbs pierce frozen ground.

In unison: WE WELCOME YOU EARTH IN THE NORTH

All face the centre: SPIRIT AT THE CENTRE

We give thanks for spirit as the flame of hope is rekindled by the augur of spring. We celebrate interconnectedness and the ever-present sacred web through which all existence is one.

In unison: WE WELCOME YOU SPIRIT AT THE CENTRE

Robin

Robin sang sweetly

When the days were bright

“Thanks for summer”

He sang with all his might

Robin sang sweetly

In the autumn days

“There are fruits for everyone

Let’s all give praise”

In the cold and wintry weather

Still hear this song:

“Somebody must sing” said robin

“Or winter will seem long”

When the spring came back again

He sang “I told you so!”

“Keep on singing through the winter

It will always go”

Shreya Ashar   Poetryinnature.com

IMBOLC

It may seem a paradox that on the darkest of evenings, Reading GreenSpirit Group should meet to celebrate Imbolc – the festival of Light! Conversely, it may well have turned out to be just the right atmosphere for honouring the receding winter dark and ushering in the emerging light of Spring.

Our shared meal was especially appealing – reassuring evidence that the Via Creativa is alive and well here.

We listened to enchanting an Irish gaelic song: “Ode to Brigid” from an album by Blanche Rowen & Mike Gulston. Their website is worth a browse: www.rowengulston.co.uk.

We heard reflections by William Shakespeare and Edward Thomas on the theme of owls – their dark and light sides.

And we pondered the wisdom of a Celtic mystic, who ends his poem, “For Light”, with these words:

And when we come to search for God

Let us first be robed in night,

Put on the mind of morning

To feel the rush of light

Spread slowly inside

The colour and stillness

Of a found world.

(For Light from Benedictus by John O’Donohue)

Brendan

 

Spring Awakening ~ Kamini

Wake up!

Fan that spark!

For under winter’s blanket

Spring is blushing in the dark.

 

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OSTARA ~ Spring Equinox

 

Day and night are equal length all over the planet perfectly balancing light with darkness. Springtime brings gales, high tides and rainbows. Blossom and catkins appear in the trees and eggs are hatching out.

 

OSTARA 5-Elements Ritual

All face East: AIR IN THE EAST

We celebrate air awakening to a dawn chorus and narcissi nodding on the breeze. We breathe the wild bluster of gales. Sunrise in the true east marks equinox as day and night poise in perfect planetary balance.

In unison: WE WELCOME YOU AIR IN THE EAST

All face South: FIRE IN THE SOUTH

We give thanks for fire and greet the sun as primroses unfold to warmer days. We give thanks for lengthening sunshine mingling with rain to stimulate new growth. Elements balance in the wild dance of life.

In unison: WE WELCOME YOU FIRE IN THE SOUTH

All face West: WATER IN THE WEST

We give thanks for water our original mother. Seasonal tides swell, spring showers refresh the land and rainbows surprise and delight.  Emotional tides ebb and flow as this element finds equilibrium within.

In unison: WE WELCOME YOU WATER IN THE WEST

All face North: EARTH IN THE NORTH

We give thanks for the fertile Earth and for life’s renewal. Buds burst open, seeds germinate, eggs hatch and rare hares seek mates. At our feet we find  herbal healing – dandelion, cleavers, nettle and hyssop.

In unison: WE WELCOME YOU EARTH IN THE NORTH

All face the centre: SPIRIT AT THE CENTRE

Our planet is in balance as we celebrate unity and honour the gift of life. We give thanks for spirit both without us and within and embrace our interconnectedness with the sacred web of all-that-is.

In unison: WE WELCOME YOU SPIRIT AT THE CENTRE

 

From:  A Poem of Gifts ~ Peter Abbs

I want  to give thanks for the garden already in bloom this March

For the brouhaha of the blackbird as it picks at a red berry

Or last winter’s lingering hips and haws;

For the synod of starlings gathered in the oak;

For the peony’s growth we can almost hear surging through the soil;

For my dibber pushing through the clod to sow the seed that promises

Blue borage at the bottom of the plot;

For the bubble of the acorn exploding underground;

For the dewlaps on cattle chewing cud in the fields beyond,

Their calves impatient at their udders;

For the kazoo of insects busy at the nectaries of cowslips and daffodils;

For the fresco of morning;

For the whole gamut and hex of Spring.

Spring Equinox 2017

Our  gathering for the Spring Equinox was tempered  by the knowledge that , only days before, Michael`mother passed away. Eleanor Bright died peacefully in the  comfort of her home, after a long illness, during which she was lovingly cared for by her family. It enabled us as a group to share in Michael’s grief but also celebrate her life. In her honor, we lit a candle Michael had brought and placed it in front of a portrait of Eleanor. Michael then read from “The Tree in Blossom”, a poem he felt appropriate for the occasion.

The season changes imperceptibly. The early morning light is pale.

Clouds drift on the horizon.

In the distance nothing moves. The dawn is still.

The tree is unmoving but is changed.

The morning air is warm, the grass is moist.

Tiny creatures of the soil are moving in the ground.

The tree’s roots stretch their new growth in the earth

Alive to the countless changes in their dark and humid world.

Their slender filaments draw in the silent dew that glistens in the soil.

The earth is rising through the tree.

Inside its mighty trunk, life trembles and awakens.

Immense, alone, the tree is giving birth.

New shoots are opening in the air.

Curled leaves emerge in miniature

The work of winter’s still and solitary months.

The tree is utterly consumed in growth.

Its bark is stretched. Innumerable cells are giving birth.

The morning winds sweep through the spreading tree.

On every branch the buds and blossoms tremble in the breeze.

The growing leaves reach out to every sunbeam.

The leaves’ open pores are breathing and their veins are full.

The tree is weathered in silence like a waterfall.

It stands transfixed, poised, motionless

Between the mighty pull of all its tiny root hairs

And the fragrant, evanescent petals on its boughs.

                                 From “The Way of Energy” by Master Lee Kam Chuen

This is exactly what is happening all around us, as we observe Winter giving way to Spring.

Debbie’s concluding words prepared us for the “great work” lying ahead of us with the renewed energy Spring bring

                        Do not be discouraged by the brokeness of the world.

                           All things can be mended

                         Not with time , as they say, but with intention.

                         So go , love

                           Intentionally ,extravagantly, unconditionally.

                           The broken world awaits  in the darkness

                                                            For the light that is YOU                  JR Knost

Brendan Caulfield-James

 

 

BELTANE  ~ Greening

 

There is a smell of growing in the air, a song in the hedgerow and blossom on the bough. The tide of life surges ahead into the most fertile season. Beltane is for magic, mystery and all growing things. Surrender to its wisdom, enjoy the physicality and beauty of life. May we blossom and grow fruitful!

 

BELTANE 5-Elements Ritual

All face south: FIRE IN THE SOUTH

We give  thanks for fire – the spark of life. Our generous sun bestows his gift of abundant energy as perfumed petals open to warming rays. We luxuriate in the sensuous and celebrate the eros of Beltane fire.

In unison: We welcome you fire in the south

All face west: WATER IN THE WEST

We give thanks for the water of life. We celebrate the fertile rain as the tide of life surges into luscious, rampant greening. We surrender to the wisdom and mystery of May and fall in love with life once more.

In unison: We welcome you water in the west

All face north: EARTH IN THE NORTH

We give thanks for the fecund Earth. Trees come into leaf and land grows verdant again. We stroll through woodland carpeted by bluebells, heartsease and sweet violet. Fertility abounds and all is possible

In unison: We welcome you earth in the north

All face east:                                                                                                             

AIR IN THE EAST

We give thanks for air – the breath of life. The smell of growing lingers, song fills hedgerows and heady scent wafts on the breeze. Barefoot to the earth we pause: the beauty and magic of Beltane returns.

In unison: We welcome you air in the east

All face the centre: SPIRIT AT THE CENTRE

We give thanks for spirit as beautiful Beltane blossoms.  We rekindle our passion and zest for life and celebrate our interconnectedness with the sacred web of all life and all existence.

In unison: We welcome you spirit at the centre

 

A Prayer ~ David Abram

May  a good vision catch me.

May a benevolent vision take hold of me and move me.

May a deep and full vision come over me

And burst open around me.

May I awaken into the story that surrounds.

May I awaken into the beautiful story.

May the wondrous story find me.

May the wildness that makes beauty arise between two lovers

Arise beautifully between my body and the body of this place;

Between my flesh and the flesh of this land.

Here and now on this night May we taste something sacred.

 

 

BELTAIN 2016

We gather this Beltain,
A group of friends,
To usher in Summer –  SUMMER  indeed –
Light the bonfires
And propitiate the gods to prosper our fields.
Just as we gather
on other festive occasions,
Lammas, Samhain, Imbolc,
Tuning in
To the changing  rhythms of each season.

We talk, we reflect, we feast.
We dance, we sing, we do ritual.
We laugh and we play.
To what end?

Unless to connect with our deeper selves,
That mysterious realm of awe and wonder
Where we discover we are
bonded to one another,
Rooted in Earth and all its creatures,
Even, dare I say primarily,
Our Source, the Divine.

We are a communion,
Yes, of odds and sorts,
the weird and the wondrous,
Yet one, in intimate embrace,
The realisation of which
Awakens love in us.
It is the most rewarding journey we’ll ever make,
The  journey  within.

This glimpse of reality
is still the best kept secret
Of all  time.
To believe otherwise is illusion.
To act otherwise is insane.

© Brendan Caulfield-James

 

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LITHA ~ Summer Solstice

 

Ancient stone circles aligned to the solstice sunrise celebrate the turning of the cosmic wheel. It’s the season of flowers when nature flourishes with abundant beauty. At the year’s zenith we pause to mark our own strengths and celebrate the exuberance of the sun. May we shine brilliantly!

From:  The Turning of the Year ~ Jenny Joyce and Alan Whear

Now at the turning of the year,

Earth lies bright in summer beauty,

In this moment unaware

Of the distant stirring of the dark…

 

Solstice ~ Chris Newsam

Day of pulsating energy

Magic saturates my core

Receive this invitation to dance

Levity has its day over gravity

Day of open possibility

I can – I can – we can

Come let us make merry in

The zenith of being

 

LITHA 5-Elements Ritual

All face south: FIRE IN THE SOUTH

We give thanks for the fire of our exuberant solstice sun. At the zenith of the solar year we celebrate the longest day as energy ripens into potential. Like the sun may we rise and fall to shine again with authenticity.

In unison: We welcome you fire in the south

All face west: WATER IN THE WEST

We celebrate rainfall which swells the crops and give thanks for the replenishing of sparkling springs, waterfalls and seas. We depend upon waters flowing within us and on those in which we are washed clean.

In unison: We welcome you water in the west

All face north: EARTH IN THE NORTH

We give thanks for the beautiful Earth as nature celebrates itself. The potency of herbs peaks in the perfection of wild flowers – betony, borage, clover, elderflower, marigold, mallow, st john’s wort and vervain.

In unison: We welcome you earth in the north

All face east: AIR IN THE EAST

We give thanks for the freedom of the air and the oxygen of possibility. We breathe deeply with the trees as breezes whisper through sky-bound foliage. All is fulfilled in the utter completeness of everything else.

In unison: We welcome you air in the east

All face the centre: SPIRIT AT THE CENTRE

We give thanks for spirit as nature flourishes. We find ourselves, even as we surrender to the cycle of death and rebirth of the sun. At Litha we celebrate the sacred web through which we are at one with all-that-is.

In unison: We welcome you spirit at the centre

 

From:   Mandala  ~  Kathleen Raine

The centre of the mandala is everywhere,

Wherever the eye falls

The mystery begins to unfold; it is there,

The growing-point of love, an ever-opening rose

Perceived as light on leaf or shadow under,

And in the brooding heart the wings stir

Of the bird whose flight is through a thousand skies.

 

The centre of the mandala is possibility

Of incarnation, seed of the tree

About whose beams the myriad stars turn,

I the infinity where all selves converge

Into the perennial circle of the sun.

 

Thou perceives the Flowers ~ William Blake

Thou perceivest the flowers put forth their precious odours

And none can tell how from so small a centre comes such sweet,

Forgetting that within that centre eternity expands its ever-during doors…

 

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LAMMAS  ~ Harvest

 

It’s a time of plenty as we celebrate the season of harvest and the coming of autumn. Cereal crops have changed from green to gold. First fruits are ripening and first nuts are falling. Its time to reap what we have sown, to reflect and thank the Earth for her gifts.

 

From:  Invocation for the Festival of Lunasadh ~ Caitlin Matthews

Let there be welcome to the bountiful compassion

Let there be welcome to the autumn of the year.

In fruit and grain you are travelling

In ferment and bread you will arrive.

 

To be of the Earth  ~ John Soos

To be of the Earth is to know

The restlessness of being a seed

The darkness of being planted

The struggle towards the light

The pain of growth into the light

The joy of bearing fruit

The love of being food for someone

The scattering of your seeds

The decay of the seasons

The mystery of death

And the miracle of birth.

 

LAMMAS 5-Elements Ritual

All face West: WATER IN THE WEST

We give thanks for hazy mornings as the tide of the seasons turns. The splash of rivers, lakes and seas tempts skinny-dippers who bare all with abandon. A full Lammas moon gazes down as we reflect on the yield of a year’s toils.

In unison: We welcome you water in the west

All face north: EARTH IN THE NORTH

We give thanks for ripening grain and the diurnal bread of life. We praise picnics, first hazel nuts and abundant summer berries. We honour the seed which promises next year’s harvest and give thanks to the earth.

In unison: We welcome you Earth in the North

All face East: AIR IN THE EAST

We give thanks for the busy buzzing and fluttering of summer’s insects. We celebrate open-air gatherings, collective intelligence and the life-cycle of the butterfly. Burning fragrant sage incense brings purity and clarity.

In unison: We welcome you air in the east

All face south: FIRE IN THE SOUTH

We give praise for the sun which kisses all with light and life and brings the harvest to fruition. As cereal crops turn from green to gold and our skin is browned and warmed we celebrate earth-kinship and unwind.

In unison: We welcome you fire in the south

All face the centre: SPIRIT AT THE CENTRE

As the heady scent of meadowsweet expands the consciousness we connect to spirit and give praise. At Lammas we stand barefoot to the Earth in celebration of our oneness with the sacred web of all life and all existence.

In unison: We welcome you spirit at the centre

 

Anonymous

Be gentle when you touch bread.

Let it not lie uncared for, unwanted.

So often bread is taken for granted.

There is such beauty in bread –

Beauty of sun and soil,

Beauty of patient toil.

Wind and rain have caressed it,

God often blessed it.

Be gentle when you touch bread.

 

Spell of Creation  ~  Kathleen Raine

Within the flower there lies a seed

Within the seed there springs a tree

Within the tree there spreads a wood.

In the wood there burns a fire

And in the fire there melts a stone

Within the stone a ring of iron.

Within the ring there lies an O

Within the O there looks an eye

In the eye there swims a sea

And in the sea reflected sky

And in the sky there shines the sun

Within the sun a bird of gold.

 

Within the bird there beats a heart

And from the heart there flows a song

And in the song there sings a word.

In the word there speaks a world

A word of joy, a world of grief

From joy and grief there springs my love.

 

Oh love, my love, there springs a world

And on the world there shines a sun

And in the sun there burns a fire

Within the fire consumes my heart

And in my heart there beats a bird

And in the bird there wakes an eye

Within the eye, earth, sea and sky

Earth, sky and sea within an O

Lie like the seed within the flower.

 

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MABON  ~  Autumn Equinox

 

With the harvest gathered Autumn Equinox brings opportunity for rest and renewal. Leaves change colour and begin to fall from the trees. Day and night are once more in perfect balance all over the planet as the sun enters Libra. As we celebrate the year’s abundance and give thanks, may the blessings of Mabon come to fruition  for us all.

 

Greeting to the Autumn Equinox  –  Caitlin Matthews

Gifts of gladness richly bringing

Autumn sheaves and red leaves’ fall.

Generous be the heart within us,

Open be our hands to all,

Justice be in equal measure,

Harvest thankfulness our call.

 

From The Dance Goes On  ~  Brian Pearson

Blackberry, hazel, and elderberry

Hang heavy and ripe in the shortening days

Bright as a banner the autumn leaves

Burn red in the old sun’s dying rays

The dance goes on and its never ending

The circle turns and returns again

The year turns on and the wood in autumn

Gathers itself for the winter’s pain.

 

MABON 5-Elements Ritual

Water in the West (all face west)

We give thanks for rain  with a sense of loss as the dust of summer is washed away. A reflective phase begins. We look within and let go of all that is spent or decaying while keeping what will sustain us through winter.

IN UNISON: We welcome you Water in the West

EARTH IN THE NORTH (all face north)

We celebrate the fruitfulness of the earth with praise for apples, pears, damsons and plums, rosehips and sloes, blackberries, elderberries, nuts and fungi! Nature roots down into a cycle of rest and renewal.

IN UNISON: We welcome you Earth in the North

AIR IN THE EAST (all face East)

We give thanks for air as a chill breeze blows and soft mists descend. Darkening skies croon with the wing-beats of migratory birds wheeling overhead. Wind-tossed leaves blaze in autumnal splendour.

IN UNISON: We welcome you Air in the East

FIRE IN THE SOUTH (all face south)

We give thanks for the power of fire to forge and to raze, to ripen and rot down. Smoky bonfires burn off the dross and debris of summer. We gather to share in autumn’s banquet and celebrate harvest’s end.

IN UNISON: We welcome you Fire in the South

SPIRIT AT THE CENTRE: (all face the centre)

We give thanks for spirit as darkness and light balance. Summer’s passing is honoured even as we celebrate the bounties of harvest. Through interconnectedness we are at one with all existence.

IN UNISON: We welcome you Spirit at the Centre

 

Sowing the Seed  –  Wendell Berry

Sowing the seed, my hand is one with the earth.

Wanting the crop to grow, my mind is one with the light.

Hoeing the crop, my hands are one with the rain.

Having cared for the plants, my mind is one with the air.

Hungry and trusting, my mind is one with the earth.

Eating the fruit, my body is one with the earth.

 

Aphrodite’s Seed  –  Helen Moore

Cool to her initial touch, a golden

sphere concealed within her palm

emanates the clear scent

of Autumn morning’s, when

old Spider Woman weaves

her orb between the jagged arms

of a rosebush. The kitchen knife

descends through skin

& watery flesh – now laid apart,

both hemispheres reveal

the pentacle of Venus. Fruit

of her rose-line encirclement of Gaia,

five course pouches and in each

the shiny, brown tips

of Aphrodite’s seed.

 

Celtic Blessing

For summer’s passing and harvest home,

For autumn’s splendour and winter’s chill,

For seed that has fallen and the promise of spring,

We give thanks.

 

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SAMHAIN  ~  Gestation

Leaves are falling from trees, birds are migrating, animals are going into hibernation, frosts are coming. It is the end and the beginning of the Celtic year, affirming regeneration amidst death, decay and darkness.

 

Autumn  ~  Mary Chapman

When leaves leave branches bare

and birds depart to a warmer world,

sky’s colour fades from glorious to grey,

turning turquoise to black pearl.

Trees silhouetted, seen at dusk,

as I walk the woodland way

through the dewy, damp, gangling grass

on this dimly dying day.

 

Song of Samhain  ~  Caitlin Matthews

I am the hallow-tide of all souls passing,

I am the bright releaser of all pain,

I am the quickener of the fallen seed-case,

I am the glance of snow, the strike of rain.

I am the hollow of the winter twilight,

I am the hearth-fire and the welcome bread,

I am the curtained awning of the pillow,

I am unending wisdom’s golden thread.

 

Samhain 5 – Elements Ritual

All face north: EARTH IN THE NORTH

We give thanks for earth – our ground within. Dormancy sets in as root energy stirs and seeds in the dark earth wait. We thank the Earth for our food, medicines and shelter at the onset of winter.

In unison: WE WECOME YOU EARTH IN THE NORTH

All face east: AIR IN THE EAST

We give thanks for air – our sky within. Storm clouds gather, winter arrives on a cold east wind and autumn leaves return earthwards. We give thanks for song, celebrate storytelling and speak out our truth.

In unison: WE WELCOME YOU AIR IN THE EAST

All face south: FIRE IN THE SOUTH

We give thanks for fire – our sun within. Fire strengthens and transforms us at Samhain bringing release from old ways. We give thanks for the warmth of homecoming and for lighting our way in the dark.

 In unison: WE WELCOME YOU FIRE IN THE SOUTH

All face west: WATER IN THE WEST

We give thanks for water – our ocean within. Rain strikes, frost glistens and we honour the unseen flowing beneath all. We thank water for our dreams and  intuitive wisdom, for remembrances of deep time.

In unison: WE WELCOME YOU WATER IN THE WEST

All face centre: SPIRIT AT THE CENTRE

We give thanks for spirit which cannot be seen and cannot be named yet is part of us all. At this time of gathering darkness we celebrate spirit within all things. We remember and honour our ancestors.

In unison: WE WELCOME YOU SPIRIT AT THE CENTRE

 

Breaths  ~  Birago Diop and Ysaye Barnwell

Those who are dead are never gone:

They are in the thickening shadow,

they are in the rustling trees,

they are in the groaning woods,

they are in the sleeping water,

they are in the hut, they are in the crowd,

the dead are not under of the earth.

 

Those who are dead are never, never gone,

they are in the woman’s breast,

they are in the wailing child,

The dead have a pact with the living:

they are in the dying fire,

they are in the weeping grass,

they are in the moaning rocks,

they are in the forest, they are in the home,

the dead are not under the earth.

 

Do not stand at my grave and weep  ~  Anon

I am a thousand winds that blow

I am the diamond glint on snow

I am the sunlight on ripened grain

I am the gentle autumn rain

When you wake in the morning hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

of quiet birds in circling flight.

I am the soft starlight at night.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there. I do not sleep.

 

John Muir Samhain Blessing:

May nature’s peace flow into you as sunshine into flowers.

May the winds blow their freshness into you and the storms their energy.

May cares drop off like autumn leaves.

 

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YULE  ~ Winter Solstice

 

The Earth has withdrawn deep within herself where roots silently seek nourishment. It is the shortest day and longest night.  The alignment of megalithic monuments captures the rebirth of the midwinter sun. Yule ends and begins the wheel of the solar year.

 

Greeting to the Winter Solstice  ~  Caitlin Matthews

Brightener of darkness, hail!

Keeper of clearness, opener of the depths.

Gifts of plenty are arising,

Winter wonders, white snows’ fall.

Joyful be the heart within us,

Open wide the guesting door,

Wisdom waken in abundance,

Warm our beings to the core.

 

YULE 5 – Elements Ritual

All face North: EARTH IN THE NORTH

We give thanks to the Earth for this time of quiet rest and darkness. Contemplation brings us spiritual renewal. Growing roots below ground support vigour and stability for the coming year.

In unison: We welcome you Earth in the North

All face East: AIR IN THE EAST

We give thanks to air for its midwinter creatures. Blackbirds, thrushes, fieldfares and redwings come foraging. Scattered seeds and crumbs tempt dunnocks, blue tits, wrens,  finches and robins.

In unison: We welcome you Air in the East

All face South: FIRE IN THE SOUTH

We give thanks for the vital energy of fire reborn as the returning sun. The season dreams on in stillness and days begin to lengthen. A promise of new light sparks renewed activity and merrymaking.

In unison: We welcome you Fire In the South

All face West: WATER IN THE WEST

We give thanks for the gift of water. Winter’s beauty lies hushed as lakes glaze over and frost transforms the landscape. Hearts are gladdened at Yule by the common fellowship of Earth’s community.

In unison: We welcome you Water in the West

All face the Centre: SPIRIT AT THE CENTRE

We give thanks for spirit at midwinter and celebrate in calm communion as the wheel of the year turns. While the earth sleeps we remember the sacred web through which we are at one with all-that-is.

In unison: We welcome you Spirit at the Centre

 

Winter Solstice  ~  Christine Duffield

Time of solstice; the trees are bare

the day of the halcyon is upon us

with the sun a bright patch in snow-filled cloud

magpies foraging through the short hours of daylight

between plants dormant and still.

At night a vixen in heat calls for suitors

a bright half moon greets us in early morning

reflected in thinly covered white fields

among scattered black shrubs.

 

Morning’s light mist brings fresh activity.

Inside the smell of cinnamon,

Marjoram, thyme and celery

As cakes are baked and squashes stuffed

safely ensconced in warm kitchens.

We feast on mushrooms and onions, gifts of the earth

celebrate the birth of the sun

take time to reflect on what we’ve learned

and begin to plan for the year ahead.

 

Outside the fieldfares arrive from the north

a cold wind sweeps the last leaves aside

the earth prepares for a long deep freeze

before the spring rains fall.

 

Winter’s Entrance  ~  Kaaren Whitney

As days shrink to the size of a small doorway,

darkness dominates

like a protective dome in the arched sky.

Beyond the entrance we call winter

lies a quiet space, empty but for a single candle

whose light increases

as dreams and hopes fuel its incandescence.

Step softly within where the calm communion

of sitting with silence, shining with light

brings long sought oneness.