My Fear of the Sound of an Axe

Celtic monks left the forest standing at the sites of their monasteries rather than cut them. Adaman, Columba’s biographer, tells the story of how the Irish King Aedh gave a plot of land in Doire to Columba:

And he [Columba] had so great a love for Doire, and the cutting of the oak trees went so greatly against him, that he could not find a place for his church the time he was building it that would let the front of it be to the east…. And he left it upon those that came after him not to cut a tree that fell of itself or was blown down by the wind in that place to the end of nine days, and then to share it between the people of the townland, bad and good, a third of it to the great house, and tenth to be given to the poor. And he put a verse in a hymn after he was gone away to Scotland that shows there was nothing worse to him than the cutting of that oakwood: “Though there is fear in me of death and of hell, I will not hide it that I have more fear of the sound of an axe over in Doire.”

– Commentary by Adamnan, as quoted in Lady Isabella Gregory, A Book of Saints and Wonders put down here by Lady Gregory according to the Old Writings and Memory of the People of Ireland, Irish University Press, Shannon, 1971, p. 17-18

The Delights of the World

Delightful would it be to me
to be in Uchd Ailiun (an Irish headland over the sea)
On the pinnacle of a rock,
That I might often see the face of the ocean;
That I might see its heaving waves over the wide ocean,
When they chant music to their Father upon the world’s course;
That I might see its level of sparkling strand,
it would be no cause of sorrow;
That I might see the sea-monsters, the greatest of all wonders….
That contrition might come upon my heart upon looking at her;
That I might bewail my evils all,
though it were difficult to compute them;
That I might bless the Lord Who conserves all,
Heaven with its countless bright orders,
land, strand and flood;
That I might search the books all, that would be good for my soul;
At times kneeling to beloved Heaven;
At times psalm singing;
At times contemplating the King of Heaven, Holy the Chief;
At times at work without compulsion,
That would be delightful.

– Song of Columba (Columcille Fecit). Quoted in Saint Columba of Iona: A Study of His Life, by Lucy Menzies, J.M. Dent & Sons, 1920, p. 131.

Ancient Irish poem on the Trinity

Three folds of the cloth, yet only one napkin is there,
Three joints of the finger, but still only one finger fair,
Three leaves of the shamrock, yet no more than one shamrock to wear,
Frost, snow-flakes and ice, all water their origin share,
Three Persons in God; to one God alone we make our prayer.

Reflections on Druidic Christology

In his Reflections on Druidic Christology, Rev. Alistair Bate comments that, “As an example of orthodox Christology finding its way into Druidic ceremonial I would like to consider the benediction at the end of the traditional (O.B.O.D.) ritual for Imbolc; ‘May the blessing of the Uncreated One, of the Created Word and of the Spirit that is the Inspirer be always with us. May the world be filled with harmony and Light. ….’ In this case, the writer (probably Chief Nuinn / Ross Nichols, Chief of the Order of Bard, Ovates and Druids and Celtic Orthodox Deacon) was obviously inspired by the opening verses of St John’s gospel.” He then goes on to point out, “A more orthodox rendering of Chief Nuinn’s triadic formula might be ‘May the blessing of the Uncreated One, of the Creative Word and of the Spirit that is the Inspirer be always with us.'” I find I am very much in agreement with this conclusion.

God Guide Me: Celtic Prayer

DHE STIUIR MI

God Guide Me

From the Carmina Gadelica

GOD guide me with Thy wisdom,
God chastise me with Thy justice,
God help me with Thy mercy,
God protect me with Thy strength.

God fill me with Thy fullness,
God shield me with Thy shade,
God fill me with Thy grace,
For the sake of Thine Anointed Son.

Jesu Christ of the seed of David,
Visiting One of the Temple,
Sacrificial Lamb of the Garden,
Who died for me.