[Author’s note: this was originally published in the Hearthstone Community Church newsletter, 03/2016]
The earth, the sun and the moon are constantly in galactic motion, in beautiful, powerful and life-giving relation to one another. For us it is a spiral dance like no other, the spirial dance on which our lives depend.
Our turning draws the light of the sun across the earth’s surface, constantly casting circle. The moon’s orbit around us as we spin on our axis and orbit the sun, all counter-clockwise, is another layer of magic in the gravity of our dance. Even the seas rise to meet her.
At the beginning of the OBOD (Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids) circle cast is this phrase: Let all disturbing thoughts be laid aside. We stop our inner chatter and pay attention to the magic. We are present for the magic. As I have often said, now is the only moment in which magic can be made. It requires our attention.
And that call to attention, that releasing of all other distractions, is so parallel to the Tibetan Buddhist practice of outbreath meditation. Lay thoughts to the side and attend to this moment. It is a practice of stilling, for a moment, the greedy, brilliant, darting of our minds. My mind is like a child, so eager to play, to show off, to have my attention. When I can relax its grasping of thoughts, and simply be, I have found great benefit.
I found great benefit, for a time, a while back.
And until recently, I couldn’t find and stick to a practice that retrieved that benefit for me.
I dove deep into my Druidic practice. I deepened my studies and understanding. I spent four years publishing a calendar that suited my own needs, changing it slightly every year as I learned more about living the Wheel of the Year. This year, every single day has the time of sunrise, sunset and solar noon. The purpose, I believed, was to help anyone, on any day, pick up the thread of full consiousness of this life on the Wheel.
And then, in Brigit’s month, I realized that I was the person that needed that thread.
Random meditation wouldn’t work for me any more. I needed to let all disturbing thoughts be laid aside and pay attention to the circle cast of light.
I started simple, very simple. I am awake before sunrise to look out a window at the eastern horizon for that minute when, beyond the houses and trees, I know the sun is breaking into day and I say, “In the beginning is the light.”
Then at evening, I am sure to be standing, looking out a window at that moment when, beyond buildings and houses, I know the sun is setting into night and I say, “In the end is the light.” And so, in a very real way I am aware of our circle, the circle of our horizon, the circle that the light casts across our day.
This little change in consciousness, in a tangible awareness of the day of light, was a tremendous help and I was easily able to add a ten minute meditation to it.
I have found that it is challenging to be aware of the change in the bright light during daylight hours without clamping down my focus on a shadow.
But in the ten minutes that follow sunset, there is a dramatic change in ambient light, in any room with a window, regardless of the direction that window faces. It does not take a hardened focus to be mindful in midst of that change.
Similarly, the ten minutes before sunrise have that same, subtle drama that is effortless to witness.
And so I sit, in gentle awareness of the present moment, in the ten minutes before sunrise. “In the beginning is the light.” and then after sunset, after greeting it, “In the end is the light.”
Every moment is precious and it is so easy for me to live, distracted. Yet, I could no longer find any meaning in meditation until I connected it to the changes of the Wheel of the Year, the lengthening minutes of the day, the continual shifting northward of the sunrise and sunset toward the summer solstice.
Equinox is nearly here, the day and night of equal length.
In Ireland, at the monument at Knowth, Brú na Bóinne, on the equinox, the sun at sunrise will shine down the passage on the eastern side, and at sunset it will shine down the passage on the western side. Five thousand years ago my ancestors built this, and so many other monuments, to capture and observe these moments, to stop and be aware of this passage.
In the beginning is the light. In the end is the light.
I have found great benefit in being present for it.
Let all disturbing thoughts be laid aside.
This is our circle, the circle of our horizon, and of our lives, and our land, and of time, the year, the seasons, the months and the days. Thus is the circle cast.