Under the Reed Moon

Tonight as we enter the midway of the month, I’m remembering that in November the ancient Celts found themselves under the Reed Moon.

Each month has a moon, usually named after a tree, corresponding to the attribute that the month brought to the wheel of the year. Now, while reeds are not technically “trees,” November was illumined by the reed moon because reeds, when wound together, created tough blankets that would be used for both floor and roof, for both basket and rope.

They are tough as trees when braided.

Reeds were emblematic of how November was a weaving of worlds, ushered in by Samhain and All Saints, the ancestors and the babies creating a tapestry of existence that was most clearly felt as the shadows lengthened and the hearth blazed. For the ancient Celts life existed far into the past and far into the future, and the cycle of life was always rolling. Reeds reminded them of this: woven together to be one whole, and when wind blew over the open reed they believed they could hear the howling voices of the ancestors calling to them from the other side of the veil.

These, of course, became wind chimes and porch pipes.

The Reed Moon inspires us, with its long night-shine life, to remember those who have gone before, the ache in our bones a reminder of their unseen, but ever-felt, presence.

Keepers of the People

In these mid-November days, I’m reading about the importance of storytelling in Ireland and Scotland, and how it historically has shaped (and continues to shape) a Celtic worldview.

Stories were seen as so powerful that a storyteller invited into a home was said to bring good luck to the dwelling, and they were often paid well for their stories.

Entertainment. Knowledge. Skill and art. Stories and the tellers of them were seen to impart all of these.

But more than that, storytellers were the “keepers of the people.” They remembered the history and, when they told the story, re-membered those listening into that long thread of history.

It’s a shame that storytelling isn’t practiced much as a profession any longer. It’s one of the things that I love about preaching: it’s a chance to tell a (hopefully) good story.

And also a chance to re-member ourselves to one another around a common tale, if just for a moment.