Thursday, 5 October 2017

Novena for the Fallen Through ~ our first prayer for the people of Grenfell

Dear people of good heart,

Here is the first of our full moon Novenas for the Fallen Through, which will be devoted to Brigid and to seeking justice and healing for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire as the Public Inquiry begins. I find that I am struggling to find the right words, if there are any right words, but perhaps that is why people do 'fall through'; because we can't find the right words to stop them falling, to make their suffering solid and real where we can offer help and solidarity, and so we have to try.

These prayers are to Brigid, goddess and saint, who watches over the triple fires of creativity, healing, and transformation, and who dwells at the intersection of many faiths, particularly in our land Pagan and Christian, and so offers a hopeful bridge between spiritual traditions. She is also a holy woman who has been carried in the hearts of many travellers on their long migrations, having threads of her being woven into Scotland and Ireland, and as far as the lands of the North and India. She finds her sisters in Sarasvati of India, in the ‘serpent-skirted’ goddess of South America, in St Lucia of Sweden. She has accompanied the poor and the sick. She has midwifed the dead. And she has keened for the lost, which the aspect we will begin with today. The Holy Woman, the Mother, the Goddess, the Saint, is not the companion of the rich and the powerful, who have so often cast their attention far from the sacred. She walks always with the ‘fallen through’.
Here is a poem which I wrote for her very long ago..

Serpent Skirt (Dedicated to Monica Sjöö)

From Mawu’s labyrinthine belly birthed
the serpents of your feathered dreaming.
From Coatlicue’s dark Underworld
the threads of your soul shuttle weaving.

And travelling deep in snake-blessed fire
You sing the land worn old with waiting.
You shed your skin, transform the earth;
your beauty ever self-creating.

In Tanit’s darkened wells of power
your kundalini flames are rising.
And deep in moist maternal earth
your serpent song of life is sung.

Oracular waters hold the key
to memories of ancient knowing.
And Sarasvati’s lute reveals the
sweetness of your tongue.

Swan feather winged, you fan the flame
of creativity and learning.
Your spinning wheel the tool on which
the web of life is spun.

And serpent coiled beneath the hearth
your primal fire is stirring.
Your snowdrops whisper courage to the sun.

(Jacqueline Durban, 2006)

For this novena, we will lift prayers together for the victims of Grenfell, whether dead or homeless and beginning again, whether scarred in body or in mind, for the Emergency Services who came to their aid, for our press to report truthfully, for justice to be done, for healing, for hearth and home, for lost creativity and possibility, and for Brigid’s fire to be made holy again. And we will speak the names of the dead and the missing.
Each day for nine days I will write a prayer dedicated to St Brigid and to one of the aspects of the Grenfell fire and its victims, and share them here and everywhere. If you would like to join with me then you need only set aside a few minutes each day and perhaps light a candle for hope, for healing, for renewal, and for justice to be done, together with making your prayer using the words that I share or your own. I will also be creating a simple altar to remind me of our intention and our work. There is no right or wrong way of making these prayers. We will be heard. If you prefer not to pray, but would like to support us, please do light a candle and/or keep this work in mind.

Novena for the Fallen Through ~ our first prayer

Justice, healing, and wholeness for the people of Grenfell, and for us all.

This prayer begins with fire;

Blessed Brigid,
Holy Woman,
Saint and Goddess,
Mother of Fire.

Brigid of the mantles,
Brigid of the peat heap,
Brigid of the twining hair,
Mary of the Gaels.

As the full moon begins her shining,
we come to you in prayer.
As the full moon begins her shining,
lighting the shadows where injustice dwells,
we come to you in prayer.
As the full moon begins her shining,
reflecting her light into bottomless
pools of horror and grief,
we come to you in prayer.

We pray for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire,
we ask for a blessing on the dead,
and on the living who were burned in mind, in body, in spirit,
who must begin again with a heavy burden to carry.

Keening woman, weeping woman, grieving woman,
Swan woman, singing your haunting song for the dying,
hear our lament for the lost,
for the terror they felt, for the screams they heard.

Hear our lament for the lost,
for the loss of life, of innocence, of trust.

Hear our lament for the fallen through
as they begin to walk the long road to justice,
hear our lament for the hearts of those who
put greed before life.

Brigid, Mid-woman, Mid-Wife,
walker of the space between life and death,
walker of the space between injustice and justice,
join with us in our grieving song,
help our tears to become healing waters,
our burning anger to become a good fire
that we can carry on the long road to
righting all that is wrong,
in our land, in our society, in ourselves.

Brigid of the many names,
we pray for the missing and the dead of Grenfell.
We offer you their many names as a prayer.

We offer you the names of Mohammed Neda, Ali Yawar Jafari,
Karen Bernard, Lucas James, Rania Ibrahim and her daughters,
Fathia and Hania, Stefan Anthony Mills, Ligaya Moore.

We offer you the names of Zainab Dean and her son, Jeremiah,
Khadija Saye and her mother, Mary Mendy, Gary Maunders,
Mohammad Alhajali, Hesham Rahman, Tony Disson, Sheila Smith.

We offer you the names of Mariem Elgwahry and her mother, Suhar,
Jessica Urbano Ramirez, Deborah Lamprell, Steve Power,
Dennis Murphy, Amal Ahmedin and Amaya Tuccu, of Isaac Paulos.

We offer you the names of Marco Gottardi, and Gloria Trevisan,
Mohammed Nurdu, Fouzia el-Wahabi, her husband, Abdul Aziz,
Nur Huda and Mehdi, Yasin.

We offer you the names of Nadia Loureda, Maria Del Pilar Burton,
Berkti Haftom and her son, Biruk, Nura Jamal, her husband, Hashim,
their children, Yahya, Firdaws, Yaqub, and of Kamru Miah.

We offer you the names of Fatima Afrasehabi, her sister, Sakina,
Nadia Choucair, her husband, Baseem Choukair,
their children, Mierna, Fatima, Zainab,
their grandmother, Sirria, of Raymond Bernard.

We offer you the names of Majorie Vital and her son, Ernie,
Joseph Daniels, Logan Gomes, Khadija Khalloufi, Abdeslam Sebbar,
Fathia Ahmed and her son, Abufars Ibrahim. Of Omar Belkadi,
Farah Hamdan, Malak, Leena, and Tamzin who lived.
Of Mohamednur Tuccu, Husna and Rebaya Begum,
Mohammed Hanif, Mohammed Hamid, Vincent Chiejina, Hamid Kani,
a ‘woman’ unnamed, all the unnamed, the disappeared.

Blessed Brigid,
Holy Woman,
Saint and Goddess,
Mother of Fire.

Brigid of the mantles,
Brigid of the peat heap,
Brigid of the twining hair,
Mary of the Gaels.

As the full moon begins her shining,
we offer you the names of the dead and missing of Grenfell,
we ask that they be kept safe in the arms of their holy ones.
We ask that the living who saw, and heard, and screamed,
and the families who lost loved ones and heart,
and those who came to offer help, to offer comfort, to save,
be held in their journeys of healing.

Let the radiance of this full moon
and your keening healing song,
light their way into the blessed Otherworld,
or back to life where we can offer them good company.
In solidarity. In humanity.

This prayer ends with fire. Let it be the fire of hope.

For this we pray.
Aho mitake oyasin, amen, blessed be. Inshallah.

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