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The heART of Ritual


The Time of the Cailleach

It is again a time of seasonal change and the Cailleach has stepped through the veil and into our world. The fields are bare and the wind carries a colder edge, speaking of what is to come and what must always return. And as the pace of contemporary life seems to grow faster, commercialism becomes the byway for how we navigate time. But it is all to easy to surrender to this quickening rhythm and miss the natural shift of cycles and nature.

We are often catapulted through trajectories that push us like currents and tides, making it almost impossible to actually appreciate each day and the passing of the year. And yet, if we can take a moment to step back we can separate ourselves from this way of thinking.

The way in which we measure time, and our lives, is based today upon the Gregorian calendar, which was introduced in 1582 to replace the earlier Julian calendar. It is deceptively easy to see time as civil and regimental; days and tasks measured out in order to regulate life and obligations. But time is not really like this.

The earth and the sun do not know the names of days or months. The star constellations change shape from a different angle in space. From outside of the earth's orbit the concept of a ‘year’, as we measure it, does not even exist. Seasonal time measured in cycles can help us plan and map out how we live, but every single moment that is yet to arrive has never existed before. For example, ten seconds from now you will live through a moment in time which has never been experienced by another human being. The midday hour today, which we automatically see as the same as the one yesterday is, in fact, a brand new moment, full of potential and infinite possibility.

The orbital cycles of stars and planets create the fixed canvas onto which we can paint our stories and lives. But those stories themselves are ours to imagine and live out. This might be seen as another expression of the circle and square, or the spirit and the body. Remember; although the modern world may seem to be the controlling factor in terms of how we perceive change, we can very easily look deeper and into the actuality of ‘real’ time, as opposed to the layer or mask imposed upon us.

So as the Cailleach begins her work, the equinox, this astronomical moment of yearly change, draws closer. The ‘thinning of the veil’, as some see it, is an opportunity to realign ourselves with 'real' time. It is a moment when we can adjust to the turning of the year and perhaps still ourselves enough to feel the shift of worlds and the opening of ancient doorways. And it is the call to cross over, for those who know the way. (C.) David Halpin. Art by Carolyn Hillyer


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