A very happy and blessed Thanksgiving, to those who are celebrating!

O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good

Wishing all my American friends and family a Happy Thanksgiving, and traveling mercies if you are visiting relatives or friends to celebrate! And as we celebrate the blessings and bounties we enjoy, let us not fail to remember and pray for those less fortunate.

Propers for Thanksgiving Day, With Additional Prayers.

The Book of Common Prayer 1928.

¶ Instead of the Venite, the following shall be said or sung.

O PRAISE the Lord, for it is a good thing to sing praises unto our God; * yea, a joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful.
The Lord doth build up Jerusalem, * and gather together the outcasts of Israel.
He healeth those that are broken in heart, * and giveth medicine to heal their sickness.
O sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; * sing praises upon the harp unto our God:
Who covereth the heaven with clouds, and prepareth rain for the earth; * and maketh the grass to grow upon the mountains, and herb for the use of men;
Who giveth fodder unto the cattle, * and feedeth the young ravens that call upon him.
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem; * praise thy God, O Sion.
For he hath made fast the bars of thy gates, * and hath blessed thy children within thee.
He maketh peace in thy borders, * and filleth thee with the flour of wheat.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, * world without end. Amen.

The Collect.

O MOST merciful Father, who hast blessed the labours of the husbandman in the return of the fruits of the earth; We give thee humble and hearty thanks for this thy bounty; beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness to us, that our land may still yield her increase, to thy glory and our comfort; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Continue reading “A very happy and blessed Thanksgiving, to those who are celebrating!”

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Guy Fawkes Day / Bonfire Night

bonfire-night-november-5-guy-fawkes

Remember, remember the 5th of November: Gunpowder, treason, and plot!

[Today] is November 5th, a very special day where the great people of Britain mark the execution of a chap who, along with 12 other conspirators, tried to blow up the houses of Parliament to reinstate Catholic rule in England. His name was Guy Fawkes – also known as Guido Fawkes. Even though he wasn’t the leader, he’s still considered the most famous of all those involved in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

Bonfire/Guy Fawkes night is celebrated today by burning an effigy of the “Guy”, or more controversially, the Pope, on top of towering piles of wood, whilst scoffing sticky toffee apples and baked potatoes. And of course setting fireworks off in the streets with wild abandon. Basically, it’s quite mad.

Source: 8 Things you need to know about Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night

Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night and Firework Night, is an annual commemoration observed on 5 November, primarily in Great Britain. Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure.

Source: Guy Fawkes Night 2017 (Bonfire Night)

The Fifth of November

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England’s overthrow.
But, by God’s providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake!
If you won’t give me one,
I’ll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

Source: Poem of the Week: English Folk Verse (c.1870)

Please note that my inclusion of the above poem in celebration of this traditional British holiday in no way is intended to imply disrespect of the Bishop of Rome, Patriarch of the West! While I am not of the Roman observance, and I may not always agree with the current holder of the See of Peter, I have great respect for the office itself.

 

On a lighter note: Time change – we think we’ve got it rough…!

Time change and henge stones
Another busy night at all the British henge sites as staff work all night to move the stones forward by an hour.

For many people, the time changed back from Daylight Saving to Standard Time overnight last night. And we think we’ve got it rough, trying to remember to set our clocks back…! 

Nota Bene: It has been pointed out that this meme must originally have been created in the Spring, as last night was time to “Fall back” an hour…

Halloween: An Orthodox Christian Perspective

Source: Halloween: An Orthodox Christian Perspective | DAIMONOLOGIA

Good morning, all, and wishing everyone who celebrates a joyful Eve of All Saints (All Hallows Eve), Hallowe’en, or Samhain! Yes, I said Samhain. Let us be clear, shall we, that while there are indeed some Pagan – or at least folkloric – roots to Halloween, it is not Satanic in origin. Although the Evil One and his minions can infect, warp, and twist this as they can many other things, let’s not hand him a victory by conceding the field uncontested, shall we? And Pagan does NOT equal Satanic, unless you want to claim that all of our pre-Christian ancestors were so: a notion I vigorously deny, decry, and protest!

Leaving nutcases like Anton LeVey and his followers out of it, there are two basic roots of Halloween, as we have it today: the pre-Christian Celtic, and the Christian. The latter is clear and historical; the former is more suggestive, based on linguistics, mythology, and folklore.

With respect to the Celtic root, Samhain is the Irish Gaelic name for this holiday, apparently derived from “samh” = summer and “fuin” = end. In Gaul (ancient Celtic France, before the invasion of the Germanic Franks, and the conversion to Christianity), it was Samonios, or Trinuxtion Samonii, “the Three Nights of Summer’s End.” This comes from the Coligny Calendar, IIRC, and because the Celts tended to start things on their eves (days were reckoned as beginning at sunset of the day before), it is generally believed that Samhain (Samonios) was the “Celtic New Year.”

The word “Samhain” is used today in modern Irish to refer to the month of November: it is NOT the name of the “Celtic God of the Dead,” that is Annwn (and he was not evil either). As a holiday (holy day), it marked the boundary between the season of warmth and light, and that of cold and dark, and corresponded to Beltane (May Day), its opposite on what some have called “the Wheel of the Year.” It was a liminal time, being neither (quite) Summer, nor (yet) Winter.

The ancient Celts were fond of these “boundary” times and places, which are neither one thing nor the other – dawn and dusk, for instance, which are neither day nor night, or the sea-shore, which is neither land nor ocean – and appear to have considered them to be “thin spots,” where the “veil between the worlds” (our ordinary physical-sensory world, and the “Otherworld” of spirit and the sacred) was permeable. Thus, at both Samhain and Beltane, spirits – both the spirits of the dead, and spiritual beings such as fairies – were thought to be able to cross between the Otherworld and this one.

Some were benevolent, some baneful, and some neutral: that Samhain had a darker cast to it than Beltane is understandable given that, Beltane is the beginning of the season of warmth, light, and growth (“Summertime, when the livin’ is easy,” to borrow a line from the American musical “Porgy and Bess”), whereas Samhain is the beginning of the season of cold, dark, and decay, a time of danger and potential death in an agricultural society. But again, while such considerations are unpleasant and frightening to humans, they are not evil, unless one considers the natural cycle of birth, life, death, decay, and rebirth (new life springing forth from, and nourished by, the detritus of the preceding year) to be evil.

Still, no one likes to die, or have one’s loved ones die, and in pre-modern cultures, Winter was a time when death – by disease, starvation, exposure to the elements, etc. – was an all-too-likely outcome. So many of the customs and traditions which developed around Samhain were, in origin, human efforts to come to terms with this aspect of existence. Many of our Halloween traditions today remain, from a psychological perspective, ways to deal with – even to defy and laugh in the face of – those things which most frighten us.

And then of course there is the second stream, the second major taproot, of Halloween, and the one which gives it its name: the Christian Feast of All Saints, or in England, All Hallows. This is described in more detail in the attached essay (which tends to deny or minimalize the Celtic root), so I will not go into as much detail, but basically: this is the feast (actually a triduum of feasts) celebrating all the saints (the “holy ones” of God), known and unknown, and including both those notable figures of extraordinary sanctity which we typically think of as “saints,” and also those whose holiness is known but to God – ordinary Christians, living out our lives to the best of our ability, as God gives us grace.

This began in Rome in the 8th century of the Christian era, and whether by chance or design, mirrored the three days of Samonios: the Eve of All Saints (All Hallows Eve) on October 31st, the Feast of All Saints (All Hallows) on November 1st, and the Feast of All Souls, on November 2nd, for the rest of us. 🙂 What is lacking is a clear-cut connection that would indicate a specific intention to “Christianize” Samhain; but in the all-encompassing design of Divine Providence, I do not think the parallelism is coincidental!

So these are the two “roots” of Halloween: the pre-Christian Celtic, and the Christian. What is notably lacking in this history is any reference to evil. That was, as the linked essay makes clear, largely a modern invention. True, the holiday has always had a close connection with death; but with the death which leads to rebirth: either in the naturally-inspired, “wheel-of-the-year” sense of the ancient Celtic feast, or in the rebirth to life eternal of the Christian faith (the dates of the deaths of saints are often referred to as their “heavenly birthdays”).

Of course, one may do as one wishes with this day – celebrate or avoid. But let us at least be fair and accurate to the history, and to the spiritual significance of this date. After all, for those of us who are Christians, our God is among other things the God of Truth. We do Him no honour by making up fables, or by lending the Evil One more influence than he actually possesses!

Michaelmas; a sonnet for St. Michael the Archangel | Malcolm Guite

Continuing my sequence from Sounding the Seasons, the collection of my sonnets for the church year, published by Canterbury Press, the 29th September brings us the feast of St. Michael and All Angels which is known as Michaelmas in England, and this first autumn term in many schools and universities is still called the Michaelmas term.

Source: Michaelmas; a sonnet for St. Michael the Archangel | Malcolm Guite

Today, September 29th, being Michaelmas – the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels – in the Western Christian calendar, here is a Michaelmas sonnet by the inestimable Malcolm Guite. Includes both the written sonnet, and a recitation of it by Malcolm, a priest in the Church of England, and a gifted poet. With commentary, including this excellent short sketch of Michael (whose name means “Who is like God?”) himself:

“The Archangel Michael is traditionally thought of as the Captain of the Heavenly Host, and, following an image from the book of Revelation, is often shown standing on a dragon, an image of Satan subdued and bound by the strength of Heaven. He is also shown with a drawn sword, or a spear and a pair of scales or balances, for he represents, truth, discernment, the light and energy of intellect, to cut through tangles and confusion, to set us free to discern and choose.”

More on the Autumn Equinox

Cornucopia – horn of plenty

Yesterday (September 21st) may have been the traditional date for the Autumn Equinox – that I was born on the Equinox is an excuse I often cite for any eccentricities in my character! – but today is this year’s astronomical Equinox: that point in the Autumn of the year when the day and night are of equal length (“equinox” literally means “equal night”). So I offer this discussion of the day by a friend:

22nd September

The Celtic festival of Mabon – The autumnal equinox

The autumnal equinox is the time when the day and night are of equal length. This was a solar festival of great importance to the Celts who used the sky as both clock and calendar, as it was seen as a turning point in the year and as such, a time to get prepared for the colder months to follow.

Traditionally, this would have been the second harvest festival, celebrated with a feast and offerings to give thanks for the fruits of the earth and also acknowledge the harsh times ahead. The “Harvest Moon” is associated with the autumnal equinox, as being the closest full moon to it. It occurs when the moon rises approximately 30 minutes later from one night to the next. Thus, there is no long period of darkness between sunset and moonrise for several days following the actual date of the full moon.

The Celts did not seem to have a specific name for this time of year, but it has become widely known recently as Mabon, named after the character from the mabinogian, Mabon ap Modron.

Mabon Ap Modron (son of Modron) is stolen from his mother Modron when he is only 3 days old. While Modron grieves for her loss, Mabon, the bright child of promise, is hidden or locked away (depending on the version ) in a castle for many years. His rescue becomes a quest for one of Arthur’s knights. Cei, Arthur’s adopted brother, and Gwrhyr, the translator of animal languages. In their journey they must seek out many ancient animals, each older and wiser than the one before.

They visit a Blackbird, a Stag, an Owl and an Eagle, until they are finally led to the salmon of Llyn Llyw, the oldest animal of them all. The enormous salmon carries them downstream to Mabon’s prison in Gloucester, where they hear him through the walls, singing a lamentation for his fate. The rest of Arthur’s men launch an assault on the front of the prison, while Cei and Bedwyr sneak in the back and rescue Mabon.

In the restored Druidic tradition of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, and other British Druidic Orders, this day is known as “Alban Elfed“:

The name for the festival of the Autumn Equinox in Druidry is Alban Elfed, which means ‘The Light of the Water’. The Wheel turns and the time of balance returns. Alban Elfed marks the balance of day and night before the darkness overtakes the light. It is also the time of the second harvest, usually of the fruit which has stayed on the trees and plants that have ripened under the summer sun. It is this final harvest which can take the central theme of the Alban Elfed ceremony – thanking the Earth, in her full abundance as Mother and Giver, for the great harvest, as Autumn begins.

Whether you call it Alban Elfed, Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, or the first day of Fall, I hope you have an enjoyable celebration of this day when light and dark are in balance!

Autumn Equinox Rituals September 2017 Mabon Celebration

Find the way to honor this ancient holiday that works best for you.

Source: Autumn Equinox Rituals September 2017 Mabon Celebration

Although yesterday, September 21st – which also happens to be my birthday! – was the traditional date of the Autumn Equinox, today, the 22nd, is the “official,” astronomical date for this year (it varies between the 20th and, occasionally, as late as the 23rd).

With the coming of the Fall Equinox, Summer is at an end; and for those with eyes to see it, the signs of the changing seasons are everywhere apparent in the natural world. Trees are changing colours, leaves spin or drift lazily down, autumn wildflowers – chickory, asters, goldenrod – replace those of summer, and birds gather in foraging flocks or roost along telephone wires, gathering energy for the migration… or, if year-’round residents, for the long season of cold and reduced food sources.

This is always a bittersweet time of year for me: having been born into this season, I love it, and wait for it with anticipation and even longing for most of the rest of the year. The sights, the sounds, the smells, even the tastes of Autumn speak to my soul. But I would be less than honest if I did not admit to a tinge of regret as the sun slips earthward earlier each evening, and rises later and more reluctantly each morning.

Besides, it is a transition, and transitions are always poignant, for me. So it is not without mixed feelings that I greet the Autumn Equinox! With that in mind, I share this essay: a lovely selection of suggestions for both celebrating this season, and dealing with the sometimes conflicting emotions it can evoke within us.

“Nowadays, the fall equinox reminds us that, not only is the weather going to change, but so will our personal lives and plans. Home and family usually take center stage during the colder months, which can mean moving our priorities around. Consider this day a brief respite before you find yourself dragging out the heavy coats and planning holiday meals.”

Indeed! Read and, hopefully, enjoy – perhaps, even find some comfort.