This past Sunday, Three Cranes celebrated the feast of Lughnasa. As we have for eight years now, we did so at the Dublin Irish Festival. That in itself is a big deal: we get a very large crowd, mostly non-regulars, who attend a pagan ritual that receives equal billing with multiple Christian services (everything from an interdenominational service to a Gaelic mass to a ‘U2Charist’) at one of the largest Irish festivals in the country. Such very public reverence for the old gods is in itself a powerful instantiation of the vision of Ár nDraíocht Féin. But beyond the questions of organizational stature and presence, this year’s DIF — our ritual and the broader festival both — had me thinking a good deal about music and the ways its presence supports and shapes my spiritual growth and wellbeing.
There’s a certain lift that can happen sometimes, when singing. Or, I suppose I should say, there’s a certain lift that happens to me sometimes when I’m singing, a moment when the composer has written a particularly stirring chord progression. Perhaps it’s a suspension where one line rises, aching, tipping on the edge of dissonance before resolving into the cadence. Or perhaps an unspooling of harmony, the voices calling out in unison and then peeling off until the music shifts from one monochromatic tone to a welter of harmonies intertwining. Or the inverse, a tangling near-cacophony of complex lines combining as if by magic to ring out one spare, simple motif.
Earlier in the evening we had had a Grove study meeting. We concluded by going through a series of guided meditations, recording them for the convenience of future meditators. After a pair of grounding-and-centering meditations, I took the last reading, a brief trance journey passing through the Mists to arrive nearer the Otherworld. As the guide, I wasn’t able to make the journey myself — I was too involved in pacing my delivery and keeping an even, guiding tone for the others — but it seemed to be a successful experience, judging by the faces of the others when the meditation concluded. Continue reading The mists, the sea, and the passage of souls