Spring Equinox

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Welcome to the fourth of eight celebrations in the cycle of the solar festivals in Ireland. Sow in Spring and reap in Autumn; in life as in the seasons

The cycle we use marks the four seasons of Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine and Lughnasadh with the four cardinal days of winter and summer solstice, spring and autumn equinox. The seasons are an expression of what is happening on the land and also in our own lives. Spring Equinox is the time of year when the sun rises due east and sets due west giving us equal amounts of daylight and darkness. It is a time that the earth’s axis is straight as a door post and suggests to us a time of balance has arrived. The Northern Hemisphere celebrates Spring whilst the Southern experiences Autumn. There are many different cycles and calendars and these have been handed down since pre-history, changing as the needs of the individual and community changed. In our rituals and ceremonies we do not seek to do what they did, we seek what they sought. With each ceremony held, with each candle lit, with each positive image about Earth raising the awareness level of people, each poem, thought, prayer offered in sincerity has been heartfelt by the spirit of Earth. It is certain that whatever else happened at ancient sites in Ireland they were and are still used for traditional customs and rituals at particular times of the year.

We are all composed of the same materials - earth and us - we are all the same stuff. At this time of balance at Spring Equinox we meditate on the flows of life. Sow in Spring and reap in Autumn; in life as in the seasons. Days are so changeable – one day it is balmy sunny summer weather and the next cold windy and wet. When the sun appears there is good heat in it's light and baby leaves thicken and burst forth cheerily. But those bare branches, later to green, allow driving rain to pass easily. We are grateful for time spent in winter hibernation and the benefit it has on body and mind. Whilst not in complete suspended animation life has slowed down, and we have an opportunity to focus more attention inwardly and inside our homes. Yet, after Winter Solstice, the days lengthen and we rouse from our slumber. When outside we appreciate the cushion softness of the deep moss underfoot, the crunch of the dry beech leaves, the alarmed flight of woodcock, the thrush calling from a high branch, the abundance of small and large beetles in the leaf mould, the solitary bee, the spiders... the peace, the joy... the silence... In the sleet, rain and sun, wood anemone and small delicate yellow primroses appear on exposed clay banks, violets peep from amongst tangled brambles and ferns. We see the first buds of Spring in beautiful forest settings, such as Mullaghmeen (mullach mín, smooth summit) in Westmeath. On a sunny Equinox day we were led to a site deep within this wood, where there was a small hillock set like a navel in the forest.... quiet, the aroma of pine in the air, a profound sense of tranquillity, moss covered logs, stones, and trees resting. At home, on a calm day, the frogs return to garden ponds. But the timing is variable, sometimes a full month later than the same time last year. And we are not guaranteed daffodils for St. David’s day (1st March), as some years they are still only peeping above the ground. On warmer days we can spend most of the day in the garden and get an amazing amount tidied. Time to plant onions and elephant garlic and start clearing away some of the many plants that winter's extreme cold has killed. Very often we expect things to be a certain way and when we find they are not we have to somehow reconcile the reality with the expectation. So again this reflects the balance of birth and decay expressed at this time of the year.

Keeping with Balance: Yin and Yang, the darkness and light, forward and reverse, silence and sound, highs and lows, potentials and realised powers, revulsion and redemption. Re-formation: The Vernal or Spring Equinox is a time when the Sun rises and sets directly over the Equator. On the earth we experience it as a time of equal day and night and from now on the days will be slightly longer than the nights. The sun will rise and set further north each day and every mid-day the sun will be higher and higher. We will hopefully feel the days begin to warm as we head towards the summer. It is a time of re-birth and reawakening. A time of re-retrieval of things gone into abeyance, a time of re-turning to warmth and growth. A time for re-inventing ourselves. Newborn: Is anything new or is it just a recycling of what has gone before? We are midway between the sun’s lowest path across the sky in winter and highest path across the sky in summer. In the celestial realms we arrive at this time every year and yet each year circumstances of life are different, each year everybody is doing a brand new dance, a dance in which we can flourish and blossom.

The symbol (using white flour) was created by putting a stylised Brigid's Cross within a circle. Traditionally the circle calls in the feminine energies but this depiction also calls awareness of Patrick, for the central square carries male qualities. The circle also represents the sacred whilst the square stands for the physical world. Contemplating the symbol provides an opportunity to review if we are integrating these, in a balanced way, in our lives. There are five sections within the circle and, as at Autumn Equinox, this energetic vibration will be present in our activities, especially as we stand in the fifth province, Mide, and continue connecting to the fifth element – aether. Flowers: remind us of this season of renewed hope. Eggs and rabbits: remind us that energetically the earth is waking up the creative generative potential within each of us, calling us to be more than we are. Black and white crystals: the seed must crack its shell, expose itself to the dark but yielding soil, to ever hope of seeing the light. Scales: remind us this is a mystic time of balance and integration leading to a time of imbalance and growth.

Intuitive mandala: Gathering what Nature has to offer whilst focusing our intent on balance and Equinox blessings.

Loughcrew: Loughcrew is high land with prominent hill summits orientated approximately east - west, near Oldcastle, Meath. At Imbolc Cairn L is illuminated, at each Equinox sunbeams enter the inner chamber illuminating symbolic rock art at Cairn T. 'Ollamh Fodhla's Seat' aka 'Hag's chair' faces north.

Islands of the Cow and Calf: West coast of Ireland: Inishbofin, Galway: 53.6 N, -10.2 W

East coast of Ireland: Rockabill off Skerries: 53.6 N, -6 W

River Boyne at Ardmulchan: The picture shows a stretch of the river lying in an almost perfect East / West alignment, most appropriate for Equinox. The fire of the western setting sun lights up the easterly flowing water. Ardmulchan. Early Christian site with medieval tower dedicated to the virgin. St. Melchu was the founder saint, a nephew of St. Patrick. He preformed miracles before St. Patrick to prove himself innocent of scandal. He is the Saint who ordained St. Brigid a bishop when the Holy Spirit distracted him during her ordination as a Nun. He and his 3 brothers have a line of monastic enclosures that lye in an east west line over the country. His feast day is (6th Feb) Imbolc, His mothers Feast day is March 22nd( Equinox) and His brothers feast day is 6th August (Lughnasadh).

St Patrick's feast-day - 17 March: As with Christmas and Winter Solstice, Christian and pre-Christian celebrations converge, this time we have Saint Patrick's day within a few days of the Spring Equinox. Parades are held in many towns and cities around Ireland, and by the diaspora around the world. This photo is Cork, March 2012. Dragons and Leprechauns all representative of earth energies which are waking up this time of year. St Patrick's Well, Hill of Tara: aka Tuath Linde - Well of the Numbering of the Clans, Tipra Bรณ Finne - Bright Cow, The Physician

Liaig Dail Duibh Durbh - Well of the Dark Eye,

The Hill of Tara as we see her today hides a great many mysteries, some mystical and some of a more concrete nature. The subject of her wells is a mixture of both. Undeniably there are a series of underground water channels, the proof of which is in the out pouring of her wells, however, both the exact number and location of these wells is only now being rediscovered. One of the earliest type of documents, ‘the dindschenchas’ ( a collection of 10th century prose/poetry which mentions topographical features and was translated by Petrie in 1839) names some of the wells, but the descriptions given do not fully tally with later medieval commentators. Petrie produced an idealised map of the hill which has been tinkered with over the intervening years and has caused some confusion. What we do know for certain is that at present out of a possible six* wells, three are flowing above ground, the others whilst still there have been piped into near by drains. Patrick and Slane: Traditions vary but it is generally taken that St Patrick, Christian missionary, visited Slane in 433AD. Patrick, lighting a Paschal (Easter) Fire on the summit of the Hill, embodied Christianity, challenging pagan King Leoghaire, who deemed that he was the only one allowed to relight the Spring festival fires at the Hill of Tara. The two hills are inter-visible. This story, maybe apocryphal, is related in the 7th century Life of Patrick. It is said that when Patrick was travelling from Slane to Tara to meet pagan king Leoghaire he and his band took on the form of deer, a disguise often used by Druids. He used the following as a prayer of protection. Several translations over the years, of varying length, have a general layout as the one below. The prayer is known as St. Patrick's Breastplate, or the Lorica of St. Patrick or the Deer's Cry: I bind unto myself today, the strong name of the Trinity, By invocation of the same, the Three in One and One in Three. Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger. However, long before Patrick, Slane's sacred landscape was in use. Close to the River Boyne and the complex of monuments at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, the site is mentioned in the Dindshenchas mythology, and the legendary Fir Bolg king Sláine mac Dela is said to be buried here. On the western side of the Hill a Norman motte (built around 1175 by Richard le Fleming, 1st Baron of Slane) appears to overlie an earlier burial mound, suggesting that the place has, since ancient times, been a centre for heightened spiritual experiences. A monastery was founded on the site by St. Erc (Slane's first Bishop) who died in 514. This was, of course, altered down the centuries, the present remains being the Franciscan Friary and College for priests, lay-brothers and choristers founded by Christopher Flemyng, Baron of Slane, in 1512. Left: The familiar monkey puzzle (Chilean pine) tree in Slane Churchyard, visible from many miles away.

Maelchon and Darerca: Patrick had several less well known relatives – all surrounded with conflicting legends and confusing 'facts'. Ardmulchan, nr. Navan, is connected to Maelchon or Maelchou, a bit of a mystery man, but may have been nephew of St Patrick. An early Christian site perched on the banks of the Boyne, host to a ring fort, standing stone, ancient holy well and the remains of a medieval church complete with a bell-tower dedicated to the Virgin. He (or his brother St Mel of Ardagh) is the Saint who ordained St. Brigid a bishop when the Holy Spirit distracted him during her ordination as a nun. His (and St Mel) feast day is 6 Feb (Imbolc), his mother's (Darerca) feast day is 22 March (Equinox). A sister of St Patrick was St. Darerca of Ireland, patron of Valentia Island, Co Kerry. The true facts lost in obscurity, she is said to have had two husbands, two daughters and several (19?) sons, many of whom became priests and bishops. Several of these are local to Slane including Sechnall of Dunshaughlin, Nectan of Fennor and Diarmaid of Druimcorcortri near Navan. Some places connected to St Patrick: Sanctuary of St Patrick, Lough Derg, Co. Donegal Saint Patrick’s Well, Clonmel, Co Tipperary Down Cathedral – St Patrick's Grave Stone

The Rock of Cashel, Co Tipperary Máméan Pilgrimage, Maum Turk Mountains Connemara Croagh Patrick, Co Mayo

The Black and Golden Patrick: It occurred to us at the meditation group that there was at equinox relatively few positive male role models to draw upon for Irish archetypes. For instance burish Patrick energy came in destroying an already intact Celtic Christianity. The church stands and regulates as an intermediary between us and the divine. Modern leaders are often seen as charlatans slick with deceit, dishonesty, corruption, unreliability, cheating, cowardice and abuse, are dishonourable, deceitful, egocentric, unjust, unlawful, short-sighted and unaccountable. So at this time of balance at the Equinox we invoked a positive archetypal male energy, one that complemented and supported perfectly the Brigidine energy. An energy that portrayed loyalty, fidelity, protection, activism, stewardship, courage, honour, integrity, justice, even handedness, wisdom and responsibility. Hence we turned over the Black Patrick to recognise the Golden Patrick.

Black and Gold Manifesting: What do we want to manifest? At Bective we put these intentions either as a symbol or writing onto golden yellow paper, then into the manifesting box. Anything we want to get rid of will be written down on black paper and burnt.

Nothing is as it Seems: The apple appears as a solid red ball. Yet bite into the apple and you reveal a hidden interior, soft, fleshy and juicy. As you continue to eat, at the heart of the apple, you discover small hard objects, the seeds. Visually the seed is solid and pebble like. If we hit a pebble it shatters into many fragments, revealing that it is totally composed of stone. Sometimes we get a surprise and discover a geode filled with beautiful crystals. But this is a rare experience. However on opening the seed we discover a soft and very different interior. The real truth has been in shadow, hidden inside a toughened shell. Now look behind the facade and bring everything into the light. We do this by celebrating the basics, the intention being to recognise, acknowledge and thank the primal elements of earth and water and reclaim the hidden energies, potentials and wisdom of the earth and of ourselves. We have 3 bowls – one with cut apples covered with a cloth, one contains pebbles, one water. We pass around and thank the elements of earth (pebbles) and water and then reveal the covered plate. Gifting apples and water to the earth we then meditate on our own hidden selves. When we bite into the apple we discover a sweet interior. We consider our own hidden core. When we walk the Path of the Unknown, our Life Path, we do not need to know the outcome, for it is the journey that is important, the act of living. As we journey we seek the hidden wisdoms, potentials and energies in ourselves and in the land around us. This Spring we have a chance to nurture these with the primal elements of earth, fire and water. Eggshell seeds: To honour spring and the planting of intentions we sow seeds in egg shells knowing that, if they are attended to, they will flourish and blossom just like ourselves, if we take the time to nourish body and mind. Egg Sigils: A sigil is a painted or written symbol. Write your our own phrase of something we want to manifest in our life, or a positive phrase, condensing the sentence down to a few letters and then making a symbol and drawing that on the egg, which we could eat at our leisure. Eggs in ceremony: Raw eggs can be used to draw negativity from a room, and then buried. Also ground shells can be used instead of salt to draw or mark out a circle, specially good if you are outside and don't want to harm the earth.

All our eggs in one basket: With our (hard boiled) eggs we will hold them and reflect on what we want to bring in and welcome into our lives, and whatever symbols come to mind, draw them on the egg/eggs. If it’s raining or too cold or we just feel like staying inside, we will put the eggs into the basket (the only time it’s good to put all your eggs into one basket!) and pick one (or two) out – you may not get the egg you put in, but whatever you get will be the appropriate one for you – trust it is so. Hold on to the egg/s and when you get home, plant them in the garden to release the energy over the next while. One day ...or day one... you decide. Hope. Renewal. Light. You can. When nothing goes right, go left. Look in the mirror. That’s your competition. Life is short, buy the shoes. Dust settles. You don’t. A certain darkness is needed to see the stars. Spring, a lovely reminder how beautiful change can be. New beginnings. Happy days.

A temporary shrine in woodland: Our intentions are for balance with Nature. Use a very unobtrusive approach; no smudge, no bowls, no cauldrons, no incense, no crystals... few if any of the trappings of ritual as the woodland is in itself a living breathing entity. To go in smudging and “crystalling” would disrespect the energies who reside there and may not be used to human contact. Bring something to acknowledge the environment. We are suggesting a poem or an inspirational quotation or a prayer or perhaps flowers.... having to spend time considering what you will bring will allow you to invest your time and energy in tuning in to honouring the environment. At the base of a moss covered tree we gathered fallen branches, placing each on another in a balanced framework. Rose petals, primrose and daffodil flowers scattered on the ground, mead and honey mixed with Tara well water poured by each in blessing. We shared a meditation and a picture of an Indonesian elemental, the retelling of the Tuatha de Danaan and Milesian coming to Ireland, the Song of Amergin, and we connected in unity and harmony with all beings. It is also nice to make a personal pledge to honour the environment by recycling more, plant a tree, tend a garden, learn about herbs, use renewable resources sustainably etc.

Balance Walk Meditation: Walk sideways around the outer circle, facing inwards and leading with left foot. When ready balance the walk (life) and take one of the 4 lines to the square. When you reach the square continue facing inwards but lead with the right foot. When ready leave the square along the same linking path to the circle. Now walk around the circle facing the line, walking normally, left foot then right foot. Walk the circle until you feel balance in both feet and sides of body. The line chosen between circle and square subconsciously may provide suggestions to helping achieve balance in life, as each line represents certain qualities. At Tara a symbol of earth, air, fire or water was placed on each line. These are, of course, linked to the qualities of the direction in which the line lies. EAST Air Birth Potential Ideas - mental realms

SOUTH Fire Youth Growth Health - physical realms

Lover Warrior Flying bird - rise high and Basking cat - enjoy the view from above heat Seed Sapling Dependence, impulse Breaking free, development Simplicity Ambiguity, complexity Identify need Give attention to need Initiate, start, Insight, resourcefulness, spring

Experiment, expand, development, summer

WEST Water Middle age Nurturing Dreams - emotional realms Magician Swimming fish - go in the flow Young tree Independence , mature reasoning Uncertainty Hold commitment to need Maturity wisdom experience, autumn

NORTH Earth Mature age Fulfilment Mystical - spiritual realms Elder Walking animal - stay close to ground Mature tree Stability Clarity Receive reward for work well done Deep inner reflection, thinking, ending, withdraw, retreat, regroup winter

Two balance meditations: Choose whether you want to connect to earth or cosmos in your meditation. Imagine going through a portal / gateway into a field. Ahead of you are 3 paths, choose which path you wish to travel down. Sit quietly and see what comes up for you. 3 paths – connected to earth – 1 upwards to a mountain – 1 downwards to a valley – 1 on level ground across to another gate

3 paths – connected to cosmos • turn right - westwards with the sun on your back • turn left – sun in front of you • turn straight ahead – sun overhead

Raft of Dreams: We welcome Spring and its possibilities. Collect three leaves. Holding these one by one, we breath into each three intentions for ourselves which we would like to fulfil in the coming months. We place these in a small raft of wood or any bio-degradable material. We place the three leaves in the raft with intentions and release them to float in the stream, which will then be carried into the lakes and seas and our future growth. Meditation making space for what is to come: Gather dead leaves, old newspaper, seeds and earth. Spend a few minutes cultivating loving-kindness. Contact your heart, see how you are feeling, and cultivate a sense of acceptance for whatever emotions are present. “May I be well. May I be happy. May I be at peace,” In a bowl burn the old dead plant life and history (newspaper). When the flames have died down allow them to cool. If in a group discuss what plants are showing their leaves, buds opening, any early blossoms noticed. Earth energies are waking up now. Be aware of what is happening in nature. Now add to the bowl earth and seeds to welcome new beginnings. In our ceremony we shared earth from Giants Causeway, Sligo, Murrisk Mayo, Westport, Clonmacnoise, Inagh Valley, Glenveigh, Derry and used Oriental Poppy seeds. Take the bowl and scatter the earth and seeds at your predetermined place, while well-wishing into the world and radiating the intentions outwards. “May all beings be well. May all beings be happy. May all beings be at peace,” The Gates of Revelation: Hill of Tara - a ritual based on rebirth. We used the Banqueting Hall as our ceremonial place, it is in effect the ritual birthing canal onto the Hill. We welcome all those present and joining in ‘in spirit’. Opening with the introduction and directions we then gather as a group of souls, in silence, with nothing, just waiting, cut off from the outer world by high embankments, contained, as if within the walls of the womb. A Gate Keeper holds the energy of each Gate and reflects on its qualities. We start our journey and negotiating the pit falls we arrive at the first of 5 Gateways, the Gate of Earth. The Earth Gate is where we manifest form as spirit using earth as our building blocks. We attune to the energies of this gateway (solidity, physical, groundedness, darkness, foundations, first principals) and pass through allowing assimilation of the energy. (which we do for each subsequent gate). Water is the next gate. Here we reflect on the fluidity of form and the smoothness of life and how we move through it. We may consider movement, emotion, flexibility, circulation etc. Air is the third gate. We consider lightness, breath, life, levity, inspiration, paired with the solidity of earth this makes a harmonious balanced pairing.

The Gate Keeper of Fire reminds us of the volatility and passion of life, its heat, pleasure, expansiveness and creative transformation. Fire is paired with water as a contrasting balance. The Gate Keeper of Ether reminds us of the mystery of life, the spirit that brought us here from the void, breathed the passion of life into our clay bodies and experiences life in the physical. Having passed through this final Gateway we birth into the world in procession, to joyous drumming. We are now standing in the secret Neolithic monument on the Hill, a place where east meets west, up meets down, above meets below, north meets south, straight line meets curves, where the baby is birthed. This is our birth day and birthdays are reasons for celebrating. So we assemble in a circle whose balance point is the centre marked with a fire brazier. Each person has the opportunity to dedicate the fire for a celebratory role: “I dedicate this fire to ‌.. example: joy, fun, passion, abundance, growth, love, life, clarity, happiness, healing, health, hopefulness, understanding, wisdom, peace, unity, diversity, grace, self belief, confidence, strength, wonderment, etc. etc. We then light the fire dedicated to our intentions. Open Contributions are invited, each bringing their own creativity in the form of short verse, song, story. We now gather up this energy by sharing our heart infused intentions in the circle of spirit and then start the soft chant Shanti (Sanskrit for peace) turning out to offer peace and wholesome balance to the world.

Eggs: Easter eggs in the Coptic Church, Egypt. Shared boiled eggs are painted all colours whilst making wishes, then eaten, with music and dance after. At an evening meditation everyone brought hard-boiled eggs. In the centre was an empty basket, 3 chocolate eggs, a fluffy rabbit, a candle, angel cards and daffodils. We held our eggs and put our intentions for the coming year into them. Then we decorated them with colouring pens.

Crusty bread: - broken from a long loaf, shared with woodland creatures and spirits. An expression of our appreciation and thanks to the woodland and all its inhabitants.

Hazel and willow food for birds and bees: Hazel and willow catkins, 'lambs tails', provide early pollen ('protein') food for insects and is collected by bees for their larvae. Springtime flowers are full of nectar and a basis for early honey production. Blue tits and other birds also feed on the nectar.

Theme – Underfoot Throughout the winter our attention is taken to those that brave the cold; red berries on the holly, slender branched yellow flowering jasmine, and the splash of a rainbow pansies in patio tubs. As Spring advances, our attention is taken more downwards, pleased to see the white tender snowdrop re-appear, followed by delicate yellow primrose, bright crocus and waxy sunshine daffodil. Flowers begin to fill the muddy frosted ground with new life. The earth warms with a bright colourful melody. The birds join in, singing the Song of Spring on their daily rounds of feeding, perching, nesting, chattering and flitting from twig to branch. In the early morning, long before sunrise, at the first hint of light banishing the dark night, the robins and blackbirds tune up, other performers taking up the dawn chorus as the light grows stronger. The air is usually still and clear, and their music carries far across the countryside, winter's chill hanging on determinedly, their meals of worms, insects and seeds not ready to be served. Thus they sing, wakening the land, bright and early in the day, a glory resonating and echoing. We, a sleepy audience. After acknowledging Samhain 'Phoenix' rebirth, Winter Solstice 'Turning', and stepping over a 'Threshold' at Imbolc, we now look upwards and outwards, enticed to external worlds. Through the introspection of winter we contemplated the inner self, the inner space. Now the temptations of distant and ambitious aspiration call

us, the Song beckoning us to far horizons. The Spring energies invite an exploration outside ourselves. Yet, the more we travel we realise that we take ourselves with us wherever we journey. The great opportunities are always where we are. We come to cherish our own place and time and treasure that, realising that we are always at the centre. We are present, wherever our feet touch the ground. Place – Base of the Tree It is good for us to seek out a tree and sit at its base, considering the tree's habit and our own place of stability and where we draw our strength. Firmly anchored and supported by its roots, this sturdy being lives a grand adventure. It has not been shy to adapt to the challenges of winter, withdrawing its life blood sap, not afraid to appear dead and asleep. Spring advances and the tree readjusts. As the season's balance changes the tree retains an equilibrium of attunement to the conditions. Tree resolves Core and Soul, in balance, in harmony. Growing certain, full with wisdom, tree withstands the winds of change. Tree - Roots Plunge Downwards. Deep within the earth, in the creative core, harmony and balance, as crystal rivers roar. Tree - Trunk Soars Upwards. Deep within the universe, in the creative soul, harmony and balance, as timeless rivers roll.


The Language of flowers is wide and varied – insights for this picture might include: Catkins - from the willow family carry spiritual protection and longevity. Celandine – there are joys to come. Crocus – cheerfulness, joy, love, gather in all the goodness that surrounds you. Daffodil - beginning anew, leave the past behind, respect, uncertainty, with you I am happy. Hyacinth - forgiveness and compassion. Primrose – eternal love, evening. Cardinal Directions Bells used to clear space for the ceremony.

Our axis mundi connects to ourselves, to our world and to the universe. To the right hand we perceive the south - I am strongly connected to everything on my right To the left hand we perceive the north - I am strongly connected to everything on my left Ahead we perceive east - I am strongly connected to everything ahead of me Behind we perceive west - I am strongly connected to everything behind me Above the head we perceive the Universe - I am strongly connected to everything above Beneath the feet we perceive the Underworld - I am strongly connected to everything beneath I am connected and balanced.

Elements Bake and boil, scorch and spark, burn and blaze, heat and haze, sun and starlight, We thank all forms of fire.

Beach and bay, fjord and foothills, mountain and marsh, ridge and ravine, volcano and valley, We thank all forms of earth.

Balmy and breezy, smoke and steam, tornado and typhoon, whirlwind and wind chill, We thank all forms of air.

Waves and waterfalls, springs and streams, drizzle and dew, pool and puddle, surf and snow. We thank all forms of water.

Activity - Forward Motion We stood at the threshold, in the doorway, at Imbolc. Active Spring energies now impel our feet forward. The surge and force of the returning warmth and strength of the sun and burgeoning earth can push us off balance. Hence the aim of this meditation is to achieve energy awareness of self on earth The Universe is infinite and we are in unity with it. The earth we live on is apparently still, yet moves through the Universe at 66,000 miles an hour. The mystery of how each one of us survives this journey through the Universe is something marvellous. One opportunity in being alive is for you to appreciate and enjoy it and facilitate the enjoyment of those around you. This brings peace of mind and you get optimum value from each and every moment. Breath - Aim is to breathe with the natural movement of the diaphragm. Tension in the diaphragm pushes energy into upper part of body, mainly chest and head. Our breathing should just be a flow of air that keeps us alive, but it helps to experience different methods. Breathe smoothly and do not hold between breaths – slow breathing down – breathe silently - flatten belly on outbreath (focus on this) – belly will swell on inbreath automatically. Relaxation of body - Aim is to relax muscles, soft tissue and ligaments that hold your structural bones together. Scan body and become aware of where you are holding tension and stress. Place your attention to different areas of the body, these are the major nerve distribution places. Back of neck – say ‘back of neck re-lax’, wait for a moment and you will feel it ‘soften’... Shoulders – drop – ‘shoulders re-lax’... Centre of chest – say ‘chest re-lax’... Buttocks – unclench – let them spread – ‘buttocks re-lax’... Hips and pelvis – say ‘hips and pelvis relax’... Face – relax into no expression... Centre of forehead – say ‘centre of forehead re-lax’... Once you have used this list a few times you will find that by taking one of these key points the relaxation will gently spread to the rest of body naturally. Expanding physical space - Aim is to adjust posture thus adjusting mood, provide more energy and give organs more room... Elongate spinal column - remember, we are two legged beings who stand upright - sink to the ground – stop fighting gravity - imagine crown of head being pulled up towards the sky by a silver thread – extension felt particularly in back of neck... Broaden shoulders – imagine them dropped and broadened... Broaden hips – imagine them widened.

Everything is of the source and everything contains the generative force, the underlying energy of existence. Creation is the expression of the eternal flowing movement of this force, between the situations of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’. When your energy is flowing freely and balanced, your four basic selves, emotions, mind, body and spirit, are in unity. When the mind decides to move in a direction, the body sets into motion in that direction and spirit supports the action. This benefits all of your life experience. Walking Meditation One of the aims of meditation is to focus the mind. Breathing is often used to achieve this. Walking is another technique. We usually walk around with our minds absorbed on everything except the actual walking movements. Focussing on these brings clarity, balance, relaxation and being in the present. Remind yourself that your feet support your body and the surface under you supports your feet. Just be aware of the support available to you. One hand position for walking practice is - with the dominant hand, gently hold the thumb of the non-dominant hand. Allow the fingers of the non-dominant hand to fall across the clasped fingers of the dominant hand. Look down and anticipate where you are going to put your foot… As you place one foot in front of the other, allow yourself to become aware of the whole mechanism of your walking - the way the weight transfers around your body as you take the step, the pressure on different parts of your feet on the ground, the movement of the muscles and bones. Be aware of the space where you connect between your foot and the ground… Inhale left foot forward, exhale right foot forward – change this and experience the difference. Put the ball of foot down, then the heel. Connecting to the elements of fire, air, water and earth whilst walking : Lifting – fire (makes things lighter so they rise) moving forward – air (motion and movement characterise air) putting down – water (gravity pulls water to the lowest point – and your whole body downwards) touching the ground – earth (hardness or softness of the foot as it touches the ground). Arm movement whilst walking - Raise arms over head – palms facing down – turn palms to face upwards – lower arms ‘I am balanced between earth and heaven’. Awareness stages whilst walking –Enjoy in joy – five senses fully open - fully aware of body - fully aware of immediate surroundings - fully aware of space all around you to the horizon - fully aware of the your space in the Universe. Open Heart Into my hands he placed a hazel, the nut of wisdom and inspiration, crunchy morsel of unique taste. Grateful, receiving this gift of life, I gathered the fruits from the laden branches of the nine trees, gathered those fallen onto the ground. None escaped my harvesting, there was no waste. Thanking nature's abundance, I ensured the future by returning nine nuts into the earth. Thanking, blessing and closing the connections We close the circle to the apparent world, thank and bless our connections to all guides, guardians, beings, times and realms made during this ceremonial. ‘Sin é’, that's it.

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