Anamchara the soul friend who shares your joys and sorrows, your challenges and struggles as you walk the path of your spirit

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

THE PRAYERS OF STREAMS AND STONES...AND MONKS


Two similar visions of the relationship of the natural and spiritual worlds form opposite points of view. Rae Beth is British; a self described wild wood mystic within the Wiccan tradition. John Howard Griffin, author of Black Like Me, was a friend of Thomas Merton and was chose to write his biography. Unfortunately he was only able to work complete the material about Merton’s hermitage years before his death.

“….One who speaks for the tree roots and stone. Who speaks with the tree root’ and stone’ voices One who speaks as the grass and rivers. Who speaks as field and woods and hills and valleys and salt marshes and waves and tides. Yet who speaks as what is close to home. With the mouse’s voice or the seagull’s or the fox’s or the badger’s. One who speaks in cadences that go beyond the darkness and beyond stars, encompassing what is immeasurable. One whose entire being vibrates to the spirits’ words in nature, like a reed at dawn in a pool where trout swim.”

Rae Beth in The Hedge Witch’s Way

“The very nature of your solitude involves you in union with the prayers of the wind in the trees, the movement of the stars, the feeding of the birds in the fields, the building of the anthills. You witness the creator and attend to him in all his creation.”

John Howard Griffin biographer of Thomas Merton’s hermitage years. He spent time in the hermitage used by Thomas Merton at the abbey of Gethsemane and kept a journal during that time.

Rae Beth writes of one of her familiars, an old cunning man who lived in Britain over a thousand years ago. He spoke to her of prayers. He said that we must know all the prayers of the world around us; of the birds, beasts or fish. I can understand the idea that a sparrow or a fox might pray; but the prayers of streams or stones?

What does water dream of and pray for? Does the drop of water in a tiny brook remember when is was part of a mighty ocean? Does it remember being a snowflake, a glacier, or a tiny drop of rain? Does it remember being another tiny rivulet? Flowing from rivulet, to stream, to mighty river and finally to the sea. Does it remember being caught up by the warmth of the sun only to become a new drop of rain. Does it remember the long fall from cloud to earth, the sinking into the soil, the slow drift into tree roots, the release from leaves into the air and back to clouds to fall again.

What does a stone remember? Does it remember when its atoms were part of the primal lava flows? Does it remember further back when the atoms were formed in the death throes of a super nova? Do the atoms remember their lives in a cliff face being ground down by relentless breakers? Does it remember the endless pressure as the sandstone was thrust again into daylight or carried down into the heart of the earth to return again as a lava flow?

Imagining the dreams of a bird, badger or fish is difficult enough for a human. Normally we see water, grass or stone as inanimate, unaware. To imagine their prayers; that is a mystery.

EVERYTHING THAT IS, IS ALIVE


I'm not sure who originally wrote this, Caitlin Matthews or Tom Cowan but, I believe it was Meister Ekhart,  it is a beautiful vision. 

Everything that is, is alive.

Life forms did not come into this world. The life forms of the earth are a natural product of the earth, as the living planet is a natural product of the living universe.

Life in any form is part of life in every form. One, indivisible. The terrestrial spark is connected to the most distant star, just as the collective consciousness of the earth is one cell in the infinitely greater intelligence of the universe.

It is said that no one can know the mind of God.
Yet we are the mind of God.
And so we dance for joy.

We dance to the music of life, which ripples and shimmers across the universe. Even in the coldest depths of space, something is dancing the dance. Something is part of the music.

Every molecule of air on the earth has its part to play in the whole. Millions of life forms dance in what appears, to human eyes, to be empty air.

Air is not empty.  Air is alive.

The angels of the air sing the songs of the spheres. 

A VISION OR A NIGHTMARE


Daughter I tried to follow the old ways. The paths of the Great Mother and the Bards. There were no temples of stone in the green lands. Groves of beech and ash and oak were good enough for the walls. When the sun shone clear the roof was a thousand shades of green, gold and blue. And when the mists came no one was sure where this world ended and the Otherworld began.

Perhaps we had less freedom than your world offers, but we had a place in our families. If there was food and drink for some there was some for all even if it was only bread from the good earth and clean water from the streams. Our bards told the old stories so that we knew who our families were and the stories of the God’s and heroes.

Now, I watch through your eyes and I grieve. The sacred groves where we sang our songs and celebrated the wheel of the seasons are gone, fallen to the saws and bulldozers. The green is gone, the skies are glowing brass and the clouds bring no rain. The grasses that welcomed our steps are burned and brown. What the Mother created to feed her children men breed to withstand their poisons. The water we could dip from our streams with no danger, you must filter, boil and treat with chemicals. Your land is dying and what it grows kills. You sing no songs. Your bards are as silent as your skies and seas.

Daughter, listen to your heart, try to learn the old tales, rediscover the paths I walked and the songs we sang. Live for the children of the earth, as we tried to live for you. 

SHAPING CREATION


A non-traditional Celtic take on the traditional Trinity.

Cruthaitheoir (noun): creator Cruth (noun):shape. Cruthigh (verb): to create, to shape.

Honestly, I have no idea how to pronounce the Irish and the net wasn’t much help. In any case when most of us use the word create we mean to bring something into existence. However, the less common definition of create is ‘to bring into a new form.” And, the root word cruth in those Irish words means to shape. Shaping implies that you are working with something that already exists.

In the Celtic mythology stories that have survived, there appears to be no creation myths as we understand them. One of those in the beginning there was  a Void, a cosmic Egg, something that wasn’t there and then it was there, somehow. Something created from nothing.

Since those eternally curious scribes in the ancient Irish monasteries  translated, copied, and recopied every written scrap they could find it seems unlikely to many scholars that any creation myths they found wouldn’t have been recorded even if they were cleaned up to give them a less pagan cast.

Or, perhaps, the Celts never had an “in the beginning” story to start with. The universe didn’t have to come “into” existence because it has always existed. This does answer one problem. If the universe is created, who created the Creator? If somehow the universe has always existed then the Creator has always existed, does exist and will always exist. Creation then becomes a reshaping of what already exists, not the creation of something out of nothing. In this universe even the big bang becomes a reshaping of a “something” that already existed. What that “something” was or is we don’t know. Perhaps as humans with human limitations this is something we can’t know or comprehend.

And where does the raw material for reshaping come from? For some, like the writer Tom Cowan, the raw material the Creator works with is the Creator itself. (arrrrgh! Pronouns describing the indescribable are such fun to try to use.) This ever changing, ever shifting, and always becoming universe is made not only by the Creator but from the very essence of that Creator.

One of the best examples I can think of is this. A giant star is mostly hydrogen with some helium and an almost undetectable scattering of heavier elements. It lives its life, burns through its hydrogen fuel in a few million years, explodes as a supernova and seeds the universe with star stuff. The carbon that builds our cells, the oxygen we breathe, the iron in the steel that holds up our skyscrapers: these elements were forged in the heart of an exploding star. This star stuff reshaped, renewed, becomes new stars, new planets and wonder of wonders; us.

Cowan, who works with Celtic and shamanic traditions took the more traditional trinity and reworked it using the image of shaping. So the trinity becomes The Shaper of life, the Shape of life, and the Shaping of life. These three are truly indivisible, no one of the three can exist without the other two. It sounds really odd to say it but this trinity does work. And in a strange way we become not only the Created but the Creator. We are the Shaper, the Shape and the Shaping itself. (I know, my brain is feeling a little “sprained” right now.)

And he rewrote an old Irish prayer using the trinity of shaping.

Shaper of life, above me and below.
Shaper of life before me as I go.
Shaper of life, at my sides and
I know that You circle me around
And around and around.

Shape of life, above and below.
Shape of life before me as I go.
Shape of life, at my sides and
I know that You circle me around
And around and around.

Shaping of life, above and below.
Shaping of life before me as I go.
Shaping of life, at my sides and
I know the You circle me around
And around and around.

Sacred Three, above and below.
Sacred Three before me as I go.
Sacred Three at my sides and
I know that You circle me around
And around and around.

From Yearning for the Wind  by Tom Cowan

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