There are some books which you just want to sit with, underline, read leisurely, and let sink deeply into your soul. This is one of those books.
Iona Jenkins has led a fascinating life as a Labyrinth Keeper, artist, spiritual seeker (among many other things). In To Sing with Bards and Angels, she delves into her Celtic ancestry as a poet to captivating result. I can deeply connect with her journey as I imagine many others will as well.
This book is filled with Jenkin’s stories of the experiences she has had while walking the spirit pathway. Most notable and the major theme of her book describes her encounters with an ethereal light being she identifies as an angel. Her guide appears in moonlight and its form and words fit within her cultural beliefs as to what an angel is. I love that she notes that she views her guide in this manner because of her own expectations. Her openness in allowing for other interpretations provides a permission structure for anyone reading and/or on their own spirit journey to understand such experiences in their own way whether it be angelic, otherworldly, imaginative, dreamlike, mythic or manifest in this reality.
No one knows why Celtic Crosses have a circle. Guesses include pragmatic utilitarianism (to hold the arms up),1 the sun, Greek laurel wreath, Egyptian ankh, circle of creation,2 the Chi-Ro Greek monogram for Christ,3 the divine light that imbues all creation,4 the “Celestial Sphere” found in earlier Eastern Christianity,5 and a range of fanciful inventions based on modern imagination and pseudo-scholarship about Celtic “paganism.” [Leading scholars of pagan history agree that almost nothing is known about pre-Christian beliefs in Britain and Ireland. The few, conflicting descriptions we have, all come from highly tendentious, frequently incorrect foreigners (such as Julius Caesar, who also claimed that German forests were full of unicorns) or from Christian writers of later periods with strong agendas of their own (such as creating a native pagan history and mythology to rival their snobby Greek and Roman “Classical” neighbors).6] The circles on Celtic crosses remain a mystery.
With that in mind, I do not suggest an historical hypothesis here; rather, I offer a theological insight from a modern Feminist Christian perspective. I ask the invitational question: “What happens when modern Christians allow Celtic Crosses to symbolize the Compassing of the Divine Womb?”
It’s suddenly mid-July. I’m in the throes of managing my library’s Children’s Summer Reading Program. My own children are galavanting about through the swirling, time-bending vortex that is summer break. My grad school program starts in 22 days. Each sun-soaked hour seems to both last forever and zip past at the same time. The calendar is packed, the laundry & dishes are overflowing. We’re constantly running out of something. There are endless balls in the air at work, at home, within and around me. I worry I am going to fail to catch and release one (or more) at just the right time. There is so much in motion, I often feel poised on the brink of.… Well, I’m not even sure what of, but it certainly feels precarious more often than not.
My life is bountiful and blessed right now. It is also chaotic and anxiety-producing. And I’m trying to get a handle on myself somewhere within all that. I have learned, after just shy of a decade’s worth of practicing the Avalonian Tradition as a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon, that what I need right now is a little dash of Integration.Continue reading “The Forgotten Art of Integration by Kate Brunner”
Yesterday morning, I sat in a sunrise fire circle on a ridge above my new Rocky Mountain home. Two years ago on the same day, I stood before a loom in a reconstructed Iron Age roundhouse in Wales. And in both of those places I realize what made those experiences powerful was the space I left for Mystery to stand with and within me.
The late summer sun sleepily climbed over the horizon yesterday, making its appearance only slightly later than the day before. I could feel the barest hint of autumn around the edges of the dawning day. Staring into the heart of the fire at my feet, I awakened to the sheer volume of tension I am carrying around in my body lately– illustrating just how tightly I am holding on to the fabric of my life and of the world around me. These are tense times. In so very many ways.
I inhabited what felt like a perpetually liminal space for the past decade or so, moving from one place to the next. For a long while, I thrived on the go. But callings and desires shifted and now I feel myself slowing down. I crave roots, the kind it takes time to grow. And I am guilty of trying to rush the process, trying to control so many details all at once. But control? Control is a tricky thing.
Meanwhile, the world around me careens towards chaos. The American political situation is untenable. Unemployment seems to be down, but the Labor Force Participation rate and stagnant wages are alarming. Both the terrorism abroad and the gun violence epidemic at home continue to claim lives endlessly. Countless social justice issues are coming to a head. The “culture wars” rage on.
Sitting at the fire, I felt into my body for just a moment and I witnessed the incredible tension, the desperate desire for control.
How much of the tensions of this time was I carrying within my own flesh and bones? How tightly was I holding on? How many calories was that death grip on my life consuming without my conscious permission?
Mor is an ancient Celtic Goddess of the Sea and the Sun, bringing to mind the shining days of summer and the abundance of the harvest. Yet in a typical Celtic paradox in which opposites exist as one whole she is also a Dark Goddess of Death and Rebirth.
She is depicted sitting on a throne, revealing her association as a sovereignty goddess. But no ancient stories of courtship and marriage are associated with Mor, no making of a king through marriage to Her. So She must have been a sovereignty goddess in the most ancient sense – as a protector and guardian of the land, as the spirit of Earth itself. Continue reading “Mor, Celtic Goddess of Sun and Sea by Judith Shaw”