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Celtic Weekend Experience

posted 27 Sep 2018, 03:44 by Peter Harney

Celtic Weekend Experience

Sept 21st – 23rd 2018

 

A group of 10 retreatants gathered at the Archer Mountain Earth Community for a Celtic Spirituality experience beginning Friday evening 21st September with a traditional Celtic hospitality meal to welcome ‘the stranger’.  Salmon was served which was a sacred fish of the Celts who recognized its special quality of providing nourishment to the mind and soul.  To taste intentionally this fish’s flesh was to be given the gift of insight and wisdom.  Then bannock cakes were eaten at the end of the meal as a celebration of Beltane the time off Spring and new life.  This bread was also kept for those who came unexpectedly to the door for food.  The place mats mapped the flow of the immrama which was to be the experience of the participants during the coming days.  The ‘wildness spirit’ of peregrini (pilgrim) who undertook the immrama, inspired many Celts to set sail without a rudder to be blown wherever the elements took them which was called ‘seeking the place of one’s resurrection’.  The gospel leads one into the unknown and thus to self-knowledge.  The Celts knew rocky outcrops and remote places were the equivalent of desert places of silence and meditation.  They meditated on beaches and mountain sides allowing ‘the voicing of the waves’, ‘the praise of the ceaseless sea’ and ‘the silence of the horizon’ to lead them into a deep sense of mystery.

The evening concluded with each person receiving two beautifully crafted empty bowls with the invitation to fill one with the plenty of their life and then to contemplate the empty bowl to glean its wisdom.  Each person filled one bowl with a beautiful collection of rose petals, fragrant oils, seeds and sacred incense.  This reflection was prayed for each participant as they retired to set their bowls by their bedside: 

I give you an emptiness
I give you a plenitude
Unwrap them carefully
One is as fragile as the other
And when you thank me
I’ll pretend not to notice the doubt in
Your voice…
When you say they’re just what you 
Wanted
Put them on the table by your bed…
When you wake in the morning
They’ll have gone through the door of
Your sleep
Into the heart.  Wherever you go
They’ll go with you and
Wherever you are, you’ll wonder,
Smiling about the fullness
You can’t add to and the emptiness that
You can fill.    (Norman MacCraig)

The group gathered for the dawn and sunrise of Saturday resting on the cosmic spiral in the earth of the Archer, surrounded by the Celtic elements of Air (the windmill facing East), Fire (the fire-chimney facing South), Water (the fountain facing West) and Earth (a cairn of 200m old rocks facing North). 

It was the time of the Spring Equinox and a participant shared this:

Equinox

The garden releases its last
radiance, not as something failed,
but as its full reason for being: to give
continually, to its last bit of energetic being.
Its giving is its beauty. It is a smile,
it is the heart of love.

So the birdsong that surrounds me
is given, not away, but into the world.
It is given as rain, as sunlight, as snowfall
and autumn leaves. It falls on our ears
as what it is, with no deception,
the complete truth of being.

Even the smell of decay, drifting from
the deer, dead by the side of the road, says:
“This is what I am and no other. I do not
pretend to be. Even in death I speak
without deceit, even unto my flesh,
my very bones.”

Be tolerant of these songs,
my musings on the way these things are
For I cannot give up this Summer except by
giving myself as well, fully and completely,
into the praise of our mutual beauty,
our total loving of the World
.   (Richard Wehrman)

The group gathered again as the light was fading on ‘the belly’ of Mount Archer.  The Celts loved the mountains and appreciated their deep echoing voice.  The mountains were called ‘the hollow hills’ as they were gateways to the invisible world.  The spiral shell of the snail was an emblem of extraordinary slowness, of time moving imperceptibly, like the shape of the distant landscapes and hills.  Yet, if one is attentive to the energy of these spirals one can enter the world of spirit in the twinkling of an eye.  The mountains are filled with spirals for life.

Another participant entering the deep time of the natural world and attuned to the ‘hollow mountains’ penned:

Celtic Connections

Fire meets air

Flames rear forth uncontrolled and free

I gasp in surprise.

 

Air penetrates water 

Stagnant pools shudder into life

I am refreshed.

 

Earth  encounters fire

Danger is smothered; seed pods burst

I welcome the blossoming forth.

 

Water flows across the earth

Settling dust, gorging gaps

I wonder at its force.

 

Air dances across bare earth

Unsettling and stealing its form

I squint through the haze.

 

Fire caresses water

Bubbles slowly escape confines

I sip my coffee!           (Di Hearn)

 

The group entered into the time of ‘gloaming’ (late evening) gathered around the cauldron and the labyrinth.  To taste the contents of the cauldron was to be granted insight into the future but because one had touched into the divine mysteries the gift of speech was taken.  On the way to the centre of the labyrinth each person chose a talisman which was to strengthen them on their on-going immrama.

Sunday morning saw the group gathered at the cosmic spiral under the draghi trees.  Hanging under seven trees were the ‘days of creation’ as conceived by John Scotus Eriugena (9th Century Celtic Irish teacher).  Participants spent time reading and contemplating the interconnectedness of the dynamic, creative energy of the universe as imagined by John Scotus.  The seventh day was the time of ‘stillness’ when the creative energy spiralled to its centre.

The final ritual was a collective of gracious rituals in 5 scared groves of the Archer concluding in the dry vine rainforest.  Each participant was blessed with a mantle of delicate green cloth laced with gold thread, a reminder that the Celts used gold and silver ornaments not as an ostentatious display of wealth but as symbols of the beauty and generosity of the greening earth and shining sun.

PH (Sept 26 2018)

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