SUN WATER - MAKING AND HEALING
One way that you and others can imbibe the healing and energising powers of the Sun is through making Sun water. This is at its most potent when made on the morning of the Longest Day, the Summer Solstice, around June 21 (December 21 in the Southern hemisphere), during a partial eclipse or, if you are lucky enough to have one in your region, a total eclipse of the Sun. However, you can also make Sun water any day the sun is shining from dawn till noon.
If you are in a gloomy weather period or live where the sun only shines briefly during the winter you can add extra clear quartz crystals plus a citrine to your water to boost the solar energies.
Sun water will help to heal people, animals, places and species if you infuse the purpose and the name of the patient or threatened place when the water is almost ready.
If you attend or watch a public Druidic ceremony, you will hear those assembled and maybe be asked to join in calling nine Awens. Rather like the Buddhist mantra AUM, this is the Druidic name for the life and inspirational force of generation behind the universe that is linked with the Sun. Some Druid/esses identify this as the sound that called forth creation. Books will tell you that this is pronounced AAH-oo-en, or AAH-oo Wen, as three equally weighted syllables as a monotone. But, in practice, when you have a lot of people calling Awen in the dusk or early dawn light, the sounds merge so that it becomes more like the sound of the sea, of wind rippling through plains of corn or the call of the birds going home at night, especially if it is called on a rising note.
So practise calling Awens, three, six or nine in monotones. Then as though you were ascending or descending scales, sing in a cave, a tunnel, in dense woodland in a valley of rocks or an old quarry and let the echoes swell your voice. Sing it as you walk, dance it in your grove, swim it through water and so the sound will become a part of you, like Aum, a creative sound that fills you with power and certainty and you no longer worry you are saying it correctly.
Awen is also a symbol drawn by Druidesses and Druids as a way of invoking and sending blessings (it is popular at the end of Druidic e-mails and can easily and legally be downloaded by right-clicking on the image and select "save as" for non commercial purposes).
The other view is that they represent the points at which the Sun rises on the equinoxes and solstices, that is due east at the time of the equinoxes, as represented by the central bar of the Awen.
A the time of the Summer and Winter Solstices the sun rises in the east-north-east and the east-south-east respectively, these would form the bars on either side.
An Awen turned to face the East shows the direction of the winter and summer solstice sunrises.
Though the Awen sign is itself not ancient, the formation of the three sunrises was marked by three stones outside a number of stone circles.
While the concept of Awen and its solar connections are popularly regarded as Revivalist, rather than an ancient Celtic symbol, some Druidessess and Druids do believe that Awen, translated as flowing spirit, may be an ancient concept that was Christianised. They point to such examples as tales of the sixth century bard Taliesin (although these tales were recorded centuries later) who claimed to have received three drops of Awen that splashed from the Cauldron of Cerridwen and these three drops are depicted in some symbols of Awen, falling from the sky.
Of course, if Awen does come from the Cauldron of Cerridwen then this solar power is female-inspired and directed and the solar connection is that it is brewed from herbs and flowers that grow in the sun. It represents a rebirth into light, such as the boy Gwion experienced when he was swallowed in the form of a grain by Cerridwen in the shape of a hen and was reborn from her womb as the bard/magician Taliesin nine months later. Gwion, foster son of Cerridwen, was stirring the cauldron at the time and claimed that three drops of inspiration splashed on his fingers accidentally, an explanation not accepted by the irate Cerridwen who pursued him in animal different forms in what has become a classic example of shapeshifting.
This Awen or inspiration was, as I mentioned earlier, endowed by women priestesss/Druidesses at early Druid initiations, for example at Pentre Ifan in Pembrokeshire. Initiates would remain in total darkness for several days awaiting rebirth.
Here, nine virgin piriestesses/Druidesses would stir and breathe the pure life force on a cauldron in which a sun brew of barley, flowers, herbs and sea foam was created. The would-be Bards each drank three drops to represent Gwion’s three drops of inspiration that he stole from the cauldron and the rest was poured away to symbolise cast the former life of the initiate
This may originally have been a solar goddess ceremony and may predate the Druid tradition and the three bars may have represented the triple or three aspected Goddess Brighid, Goddess of the Sun and of Fire.
The rays are sometimes positioned within the centre of a Triple Circle to represent the Three Celtic realms, Earth, Sea and Sky or the circles of existence and the passage of the soul or simply enclosed in a circle.
All this is pretty exciting – gateways of light into other realms and absorbing drops of inspiration or liquid light, distilled from the Sun at its times of power and brewed in the cauldron of Cerridwen.
So before we continue further into the philosophical and inspirational aspects of Awen let us make and use this sun symbol to access that doorway and absorb the power of the sun into our lives, winter or summer
There are numerous ways of obtaining the inspiration of Awen. As you learn more about Druidry, you may find that your spiritual and psychic awareness spontaneously evolve. As your words become more measured and less impetuous and situation driven, so they are wiser and in times of quietness, may even assume a prophetic ring. This may seem frightening, but it is a natural development.
So, too, may you find creativity in all its forms permeating even seemingly mundane aspects of your life, filling them with beauty and meaning for yourself and those with whom you come into contact.
To the modern Druidess, especially one whose definition of inspiration may be less tinged with aspirations towards mediaeval bardship (and mercifully less inclined to keep people sitting on a freezing hillside listening to her poetic renditions) the flowing life force may assume more practical applications. The trend is spreading throughout Druidry despite pockets of resistance, that it is a living faith, as much at home in the workplace and the shopping mall as in a grove or stone circle. It is seen as more important to practise than to preach. So the Celtic solar goddesses Sulis, Aine and Grainne actually walked the fields and hilltops in their summer finery, not only indicating the time of harvest but helping, no doubt to cheer a tired worker or soothe a crying baby. Then in the celebrations of harvest home leading the processions, they bound their spirit into the corn maiden created from the last sheaf.
Your Awen inspiration can prompt a period of channelled activity. This may involve problem solving and creative decision-making, or channelling and developing healing powers to bring peace and reconciliation to colleagues, neighbours and even stressed strangers. You may paint rooms and houses as well as pictures to brighten the lives of others and yourself. Digging, planting and weeding gardens or window boxes and nurturing new plant life can be an act of Druidic faith as can singing fretful children to sleep. Sculpting or putting up shelves, really caring about providing after school centres for children, preserving areas of wildlife from developers by peaceful but determined effort, all help to spread praise and positivity in a negative, cynical world.
However, there are times for personal ceremonial when inspiration is needed on the very deepest of levels, perhaps because an unexpected setback has shaken the roots of your confidence. We know the doorway is there in the Awen and so there may be times when we wish to look through it, though we may not choose to pass.
Over the months you may look for longer into the doorway and you may wish to stand in the entrance. You need not be afraid that you will be carried off psychically into the Otherworld and from the doorway you will see only light and beauty, in time you may have glimpses of your own unique vision of the Otherworld, what constitutes for each individual eternal happiness and peace.
The Celtc Druid/esses and their priestess forebears lived much closer to nature and could move from dimension to dimension as easily as we pass into the next room. Druidesses and Druids today have usually had to choose the earthly path. We have no communities to support us or free access throughout our physical world without danger from other tribes. So until we begin our own special final journey into eternity, we may have to be content with precious glimpses that fill us with confidence that our souls are immortal and that this is only the first part or a forgetful staging post of our voyage through many lifetimes into the lands of radiance.
In the chapter on the Druidic Wheel of the Year (Modern Day Druidess) I have described the seasonal celebrations at the solar change points, the Equinoxes and Solstices whose differing energies allow us to work with their particular qualities and absorb these strengths into our own life, as we carry out rites like our ancestors for the necessary turning of the seasonal wheel.
But within each day too the Sun Wheel turns and so we can work at these solar highs and lows to restore our connection with nature and absorb the strengths we need. This does not have to be with formal ritual. If you light a candle, for example, to welcome the dusk and sit enfolded by the fading light you can focus on a point on the horizon and ride the gentle daily downturn of the Wheel. Of course, you may be a shift worker or still have a mountain of paperwork to complete before home time. Or you may have to brace yourself for the arrival home of the family and all their different demands. But that brief oasis of stillness at dusk can switch off the more frantic centres in your brain and bring a harmony to your spirit that will enable you to finish serenely in half the time when all around you are fretting and twitching in overdrive.
Dawn varies each day and can be found in a diary or the weather section of a newspaper. Unless you live on the line marking GMT, the sun will not be exactly overhead at Noon, so work either with your own local Noon time when the sun is directly above you. Dusk also varies each evening. When you have a free weekend or a few days, live by the four markers: dawn, noon, dusk and midnight. Experience the different energies out of doors and following the rhythms of the sky as our ancestors did, before the advent of electricity. If you are afraid of the dark, work just before dawn initially so that you can witness the inevitable return of light-to our ancient forebears this was a matter of trust, so if you can learn to trust again, you will relax.
This is a very special point in Druidry as the sunrise at the Midsummer or Midwinter Solstice especially symbolise the birth or rebirth of light. Many stone circles and passage graves are aligned to sunrise on special days; in the Christian tradition too, the importance of these special sunrises is recognised. For example, in the centre of the large octagonal labyrinth in Amiens Cathedral in Picardy in France, a shaft of sunlight filters on the Mid Winter and the Summer Solstice (around June 21).
The centre of the Labyrinth in the nave of Amiens Cathedral corresponds with the Spring Equinox and is represented in ritual by facing East. However, since the Sun only rises in the true East (and sets in the West) on the equinoxes, you may wish to work with its actual position of the sun in the sky when dawn breaks.
It is worth rising early to sit or stand and witness the beautiful patterns as darkness retreats, sometimes not without struggle.
Dawns are different, in winter, in summer, in bad weather or during a clear period, over plains, in deserts, over the sea, above mountains in forests. Walk in the quiet of the city before it wakes or the countryside or watch the darkness receding over the sea, leaving the scarlet tinged waves.
Every dawn is a Spring Equinox written small, a resurrection, the birth of new hope. Today is the day you anticipated or feared in many sleepless nights or anxious moments. So walk into the Dawn with courage, yelling your defiance or your belief you will win through or that this day will be absolutely the best one ever, because you will make it so.
Be not sad, be as the sun at midday says a passage in the I Ching and so whether the sun is beating down or hiding behind sullen clouds, the noon energies are powerful and so are you. Like the Summer Solstice whose microcosm or mini-version it is, the Sun King rose in triumph. The view from the top of the solar ferris wheel is quite spectacular. Therefore at every Noon as at every Summer Solstice count your blessings. If they are thin on the ground, seize some of that Sun power, reflecting it through a crystal quartz sphere (even the tiniest one will be bursting with sun power). Allow the reflected light to fill you with energy and assurance that all will be well.
Remember, too, the channel the light and power of noon into your healing work, hold your crystal quartz or crystal sphere (size does not matter) to reflect the light. Speak into the crystal words of healing and direct the rays or light beams to whoever or whatever needs healing, person, animal or place. You may be rewarded by a sudden tiny rainbow in the centre of the crystal, confirming that positive thoughts returns to the sender three fold.
‘Never let the sun go down on anger,’ my late mother used to say. This is the daily message of Dusk, writ large in the Autumn Equinox. What is gained and what is lost all merge into the darkness and with them we can drain resentment, regrets and also crowing triumphantly a moment or two too long.
So Dusk is a good time if near water to cast a stone or a flower expressing regrets. Or bury the stone of a fruit or a few seeds that will in the future bear fruit and blossom from what has been perhaps too dearly learned. As you light your Dusk candle if you are at home (easier after long summer nights when dusk is late), you can speak words of blessings on your enemies and consign the day to be reworked in the darkness.
Then as shadows soften harsh emotions you can if you need send reconciliatory letters or e-mails, make soothing phone calls, or speak in person your love or forgiveness, if only to yourself if another person is implacable.
If all is well in your world, you can share your own peace and happiness perhaps with someone who always goes home alone and wishes it were otherwise, to a friend or family member far from home in a hotel room or at college who draws the curtains on the darkness or a neighbour who would welcome a brief visit before you settle down either contentedly in your own castle or with loved ones for the evening.
As I said earlier, you can make a dusk oasis even if you are at work and then perhaps light a candle and have a simple dusk ritual later when you do arrive home, reading a list of the names of people and places you know are in need.
An unlikely sun time, but an important one as it corresponds with the Midwinter Solstice the rebirth of Light Just as sunset began a new day for the Celts, so in the modern world midnight is the transition.
You may be awake because you have been out socially or entertaining friends, you may be a shift worker or have returned home late from work or travelling. Or you may be lying awake worried about people or tomorrow or next year and this is a time when dragons can loom large.
The darkest hour is before the Dawn is another popular saying that rings of truth. But in another time zone the sun is shining brightly and we know, unlike our distant forebears, that the sun does not disappear into the sea or back into the womb of the earth mother to sleep until morning.
Midnight too is the time of the wise ancestors, not of frightening phantoms who will haunt you., but the gentle essences stretching back through time, those who spiritually and genetically have made you what you are; so to with you at the midnight hour are the guardians of the night who protect you in these waking hours before dawn and who will carry you into peaceful sleep if you lie down and let their faces form.
But first let float on the dark tide that even now is turning, all those things from the past, the old voices of doubt or unfair criticism that wound us when we are children and vulnerable and may return to haunt us in the night; let float also what cannot now be, name your worries and whatever keeps you awake or surfaces when you are trying to relax. Burn them in a dark blue candle as black threads or wool and when you are done, send the light as you extinguish it to the Sun, knowing that it will return to light the dawn.
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