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Celtic spirituality change choice Godspace harvest St Michael

FEAST OF ST MICHAEL

Today, September 29th, is the feast of St Michael. Here are my thoughts on him.

This post was also published on https://godspacelight.com/2020/09/29/feast-of-st-michael/

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Photo by Guido Reni – http://www.andrewgrahamdixon.com/archive/readArticle/257, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9571452

How do you see St Michael? One of God’s mighty angels? Or, in the UK, a clothing brand by a large department store? [Marks and Spencer’s St Michael’s range] Or as he is depicted in many paintings and church stain-glass windows, the white superhero spearing the brown devil?

Michael, the archangel, Saint Michael, appears all over the place. He’s not just in the Hebrew and Christian Bible, but also in the Quran and in neo-pagan literature, as well as  in countless poems, paintings, statues, music and jewellery. But wherever he appears, he is always strong and invincible.

In the Book of Daniel Michael, the archangel, appears to Daniel and says he is “the protector of Israel” (Daniel 10:13-21) and in Daniel 12:1 saying he will “arise again during the end of time”. In both the Book of Jude (1:9) and in the Book of Revelation (12:7-9), the Archangel Michael is stronger than Satan and defeats and banishes him. In the Quran Sura 2:98 says “Whoever is an enemy to God, and His angels and His messengers, and Jibrail and Mikhail! Then, God (Himself) is an enemy to the disbelievers.” Some Muslims believe that Michael is one of the three angels who visit Abraham (Sura 11:69).

Neo-pagan tradition has leylines, lines of spiritual energy that pass through various points on the land. The most famous one is the St Michael’s leyline; which goes from St Michael’s Mont in Cornwall, through Glastonbury Tor to Bury St Edmunds, Norfolk. There is another St Michael’s leyline from Skelling Michael, Ireland, through St Michael’s Mont, Cornwall to Mount Carmel in Israel.

In Alexander Carmichael’s The Carmina Gadelica, compiled during his travels as in the Scottish Highlands and Islands during the late nineteenth century, 29th September, the Feast of St Michael, was a time for great celebration; with feasting, dancing, visiting the ancestral graves, horse racing, and young people to find a partner. Ray Simpson says in Exploring Celtic Spirituality, every husbandman would give food to the alms-deserving as an offering to “the great God of the elements who gave him cattle and sheep, bread and corn, power and peace, growth and prosperity, that it may be for his abject, contrite soul when it goes thither”. Saint Michael’s feast day was seen as a day of promise to the young and a day of fulfillment for those older, and a day of retrospection to the aged. Carmichael says, “it is a day when pagan cult and Christian doctrine meet and mingle like the lights and shadows on their Highland hills.”

Around the same time Carmichael was gathering his The Carmina Gadelica, the Catholic church in Rome was under persecution from the King of Italy, and the pope wrote this prayer to St Michael.

St Michael’s prayer “Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.”

So again I ask, how do you see St Michael? End time deliverer, patron saint of the harvest, the defeater of the devil, a great redeemer, a connector of power lines through the earth? Which one of these Saint Michaels do you want him to be? Or maybe, in these turbulent times, we need him to be all of these – to help us take joy in what we have reaped and what will fulfill us during these times (harvest), defeater of the devil/our enemies, one who can redeem the earth to its purpose, and able to connect the power of the earth to help redeem us from global warming, pandemics, etc.

These are times of great trial, times when we need to look above and beyond, times when we need all the help God has, but also time to rejoice in the good of what is being harvested. Perhaps we do need to stop and reflect and see this day as a day of promise to the young. A day of fulfillment for those older, and a day of retrospect to the aged. Let us pray the prayer but also rejoice and remember that St Michael, and God, are all these things.

REFERENCES:

“Celtic Christian Spirituality: An Anthology of Medieval and Modern Sources” by Oliver Davies and Fiona Bowie  for the quotes from Alexander Carmichael’s The Carmina Gadelica

“Exploring Celtic Spirituality” by Ray Simpson

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Llyn Anafon

Llyn Anafon taken by me Sunday 27th Sept 2020

Yesterday was the last day of our holiday. It was our first holiday this year due to lockdown. The first 6 days of it were spent in Northumberland in a self-catering cabin, but we had to come home early because we could not stay with friends in the area for the weekend due to the NE of England being in local lockdown. So on Sunday we walked into Snowdonia, away from the tourist crowds and had a picnic Sunday lunch by this beautiful lake where I wrote this poem.

Black mirror broken only by occasional jumping fish trying to catch the last midges of summer.

Blobs of white undefined sheep gather together then drift apart enjoying the last grass of summer. 

Man watches, thinking, pondering, closes eyes & dreams drifting on the last warm rays of summer

Interestingly this could be the last time we see this llyn like this because Welsh Water is draining it and returning it to how it was before it became a reservoir in the 1930s. This will mean they will not have to keep looking after the concrete dam there. But it is interesting how the local people have reacted The extraordinary saga of Snowdonia’s ‘vanishing lake’ that has left people ‘seething’ 

I wish I could find an article that said how the local people reacted when the stream was dammed up in the first place 90 years ago. I wonder if it was with similar outrage? And it got me thinking as to how vehement we can be about change and how it upsets us and yet how quickly we get used to the “new normal”, coin a recent phrase. I wonder if in ten or twenty years we will have got used to local lockdowns and will bemoan them if/when they cease?

You can just see the blobs of sheep across the lake. Taken by me 27th Sept 2020

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Pensarn Beach – a prose poem

Pensarn beach Feb 2020 taken by me

The following prose poem can also be found on https://walklistencreate.org/wr_instance/shorelines/ where they are still accepting work.  Shorelines is a collaborative project on writing and reciting, focused on the dividing line between land and water. Check out the line and go from there.

Today the sea speaks to me in tones of deep and grey asking me to follow it on its relentless quest around the globe.
Yesterday its voice was more of a lethargic slap of apologetic wave on languid shingle.
Yet competing with the sea are the constant bass undertones of the A55, always calling the dreamy walker back to the world of activity; of work, industry and commerce.
The traffic’s rumble is frequently enhanced by the scream of siren or buzz of speeding motorbike.
It never listens to the sea or hears its rhythmic call because that thoroughfare believes in the busyness of doing to be the purpose of the human race. .
Though my feet lead me to the shoreline to dance in its shallows or keep a respectful distance from its crashing waves, too often my mind is on the A55 needing to be part of man’s chorus of employment and cloistered individualism.

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Are you praying for the now or the future?

St Winifred’s churchyard, Gwytherin, Conwy. The old stones in this photo are from early, possibly pre-Christian times linking the old and the new [photo taken by myself]

When you pray what are you praying for? This struck me the other day when I was reading an article about the Spanish flu epidemic that happened 100 years ago. In the article it said that after two years of people dying the virus became less virulent and people just got used to the fact that everyone winter there would be deaths from flu. But what stuck me was the article said “then there were the 1920s”.

Now the 1920s were a time of hedonism and loss of faith in God, that then ran into the Great Depression of the 1930s which gave rise, in Europe to Hitler, who in the early 1930s was seen as a hero who was rescuing German.

I was also reminded of the first time I heard John Mulinde speak. He said how in Uganda the prayer warriors prayed out the awful dictator, Idi Amin, only for the vacuum that his demise caused leading to an even greater dictator to take his place. His message was that we should be careful when we pray and not pray out something or someone but pray in something or someone so there is no vacuum.

But to pray something “in” we need to see God’s vision. As my husband reminded me “without a vision the people perish”. What is the vision of God for the future? Not just for our churches individual or corporate, not just for the UK but for the whole world. What is God saying that it should look like?

As I said in “Revivals!” blog, in the past when revivals have come pubs, cinemas etc have closed down, but our economy now depends very much on the hospitality industry. Those who work in hospitality are the ones who spend the money there, and who rent rooms and flats, buy clothes, etc, etc. I do not believe we can just say “God’s got a plan.” I believe there is power in prayer and that we need to be praying in that God given vision. But first of all we need to be asking God what that vision is.

I’m afraid at the moment I don’t know what it is, but (and here’s a book plug) I am hoping that when I receive Tom Sine’s book ‘2020s Foresight:Three Vital Practices for Thriving in a Decade of Accelerating Change‘ there will be things in there that will help we to see what God is planning, and how to pray into that.

Yes I do believe God can drop in the world vision as we seek it but I do also believe that we need to study, see the signs and get confirmation. Am I willing to put in the time? Are you willing to put in the time? Or is it just easier to pray out what we can see now like the virus/economic crash/dysfunctional governments/etc? If we do what will fill the vacuum?

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It is Unconditional

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

Yesterday I finished “Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas” by Maya Angelou. I’d also just done another QEC session which involved forgiving myself for misinterpreting church teachings and working too hard to earn God’s love and acceptance, whilst at the same time teaching and sharing about that self-same unconditional love and acceptance!!! Goes to show how often we can teach and share on things that we know to be truth but haven’t accepted into our hearts!

In the last few pages of the book, Maya goes to see her vocal coach to unload about how awful she feels she has been to her son, and lots of other issues, and he says “God forgives you, that’s a given. But you now need to forgive yourself”. Wow! How often do we browbeat ourselves about not being forgiven when in fact God who’s totally forgiven us but we are not forgiving ourselves? If God really loves us unconditionally, which I do truly believe God does, then like Maya’s vocal coach we need to believe that it is a given that God has forgiven us. As my OEC coach told me, and she isn’t a Christian in the ‘purest sense’, “From what I gather God loves everyone unconditionally, even the murder and rapists, and wants to heal them too, and so will forgive them so they can be healed.” We need to forgive ourselves so we can be healed.

Maya ends with this book with a story about her and her son in Hawaii. He was only about 9 years old and had gone off on his own, leaving her asleep, for a swim. She was really worried about where he was because he hadn’t eaten breakfast in the hotel. When the police finally find him he says he ate breakfast in place down the street. He had told the proprietor of the place where he ate “See that name?” pointing to the sign above the hotel with Maya Angelou’s name in lights, “She’s my mother and she’s a great singer.” It made me think that I don’t often enough say “There’s my God and it will be cover by our relationship”.

I should be able to know that I can go wherever I want and do things knowing that the “payment” is covered by God because I am God’s child and am totally loved and looked after and will always be fed. Surely this is the message of the Cross – Jesus made the payment for us and we don’t need to have too any more! Now that is exciting! But to believe that I needed to forgive myself for all the times I’d not quite got it.