The Celtic Wheel of the Year

“The Celtic Wheel of the Year” was published by O-Books in 2007. It is a book of original prayers and reflects the sources of my own spiritual path – the mystical Christian tradition and earth-based spiritualities. It introduces the Celtic festivals and Christian calendar month by month and has a week of prayers morning and evening for each month, so it can be used every day of the year.

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Endorsements

Tess Ward writes like a mystic. Deeply immersed in nature, embedded in folklore, poetic in word and vivid in the images evoked, both the introductory material for each month and the accompanying prayers awaken deep sentiment and the soulful realisation that we are always within the divine embrace in which we live and move and have our being. A gem for all seasons!

Diarmuid O’Murchu MSC. Author of Reclaiming Spirituality amongst many others.

“The Celtic Wheel of the Year” is a must read for everyone interested in praying with an ecological awareness. Tess Ward offers refreshing reflections and creative prayers that weave mysticism, feminism, and embodiment with Celtic and Christian spirituality. The earth connection grows stronger with each prayer.

Diann L. Neu, codirector of WATER, The Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual, and author of Return Blessings.

Tess Ward has written a spiritual handbook full of wisdom, grace and creativity. It dips into the deep wells of Celtic tradition and beyond to gather the clear water of life. This is a book of prayer to be treasured.

Mike Riddell, author of The Sacred Journey and Godzone.

In an age of global warming and increasing ecological vulnerability, the only viable spiritualities are those which re-connect us to the earth and deepen our sense of connection with the divine spirit that enlivens it. Tess Ward’s book is a valuable resource for anyone seeking such a spirituality. Her prayers and reflections offer a creative synthesis of Christian symbols and other nature-based traditions, and the structure of the book reminds us of the sacred qualities of the passing seasons. For anyone looking for a livelier, embodied and grounded faith, Tess Ward offers an important, hopeful and refreshing way forward.

Dr. Gordon Lynch, Professor of Sociology of Religion, Birkbeck University, London author of The New Spirituality.

Reviews

I really loved this exceptional 285 page book of prayer, it reached deep into my soul. The format is great, the author follows the calendar year as she takes us through the days of the week, giving us a veritable menu of day and night spiritual prose.

There are two things that really endeared this new buddy to me, first is the blending and honoring of the Celtic and Christian practices, and second, are the precious stories and rich histories that accompany each day. As I would read the prayers I could hear myself saying them in my memory as if it were yesterday, it was a strange feeling, but very comforting as well. I would recommend this profound Godsend to anyone at any level of their spiritual journey. This sweet primer has definitely made it’s way to my heart and to my spiritual tool box. Thanks Tess, for opening these tired eyes just a little bit wider.

Riki Frahmann – Mystic Living Magazine Nov 2007

Although the sub-title is ‘Celtic and Christian Seasonal Prayers’ this book is much more than this. Tess Ward, an Anglican priest, hospital chaplain and spiritual director/counsellor has created an inspiring and very practical book that will be of interest and use to preachers, teachers and all those who enjoy the challenge of new prayer material combining Celtic Christian and Celtic Pagan traditions. 

‘God’ is treated as gender free and encompassing a multitude of understandings. The seasons and the Christian year flow naturally through the entire book. Tess Ward writes with warmth and her personal experience and pilgrimage of faith shine from all the pages. I have used many of the prayers in both personal and public worship and referenced a number of relevant stories in my talks and sermons. 

This book is highly recommended. It will make a perfect gift at any time of the year. There is no better way to conclude than by quoting the cover endorsement by Diarmuid O’Murchu MSC, “Tess Ward writes like a mystic. A gem for all seasons!’ It is a gem indeed.

Revd. John Churcher – Progressive Christian Network Dec 07

Tess Ward is an Anglican priest whose work very much feels to be in service to the community and the sacred, and this book exudes a real sense of that giving. For the many within the Druid community who are married to Christians, whose children or parents are practising Christians, whose childhood Christianity is still strong within their soul though now they may be revering other gods, or who indeed do weave together the Pagan and Christian in the creation of a rich fabric of British heritage, this book would be a beautiful addition to their library, for reference, use and inspiration.

Emma Restall-Orr (Bobcat) – Druid Network

This book offers a pattern for daily prayer drawing on the two strands of Christian and Celtic tradition, taking us through the rhythm of the seasons in a refreshing and deeply spiritual way. 

Divided into monthly sections, it combines the Christian seasons with the seasons of the Solstices and Equinoxes. A week of daily prayer is offered for each month with well researched introductions to each section covering the historic and current way we celebrate the festivals of each season with relevant biblical and spiritual references. These themes are taken up in the prayers for the week which are meditational in style. 

There is a daily invitation to silent prayer with the words “Be still in the silence and aware of the Love with and within…” This book offers an original and inspiring pattern for daily prayer which reconnects with the awareness of God in all things. Although intended for personal devotions, this book offers some refreshing lead-ins to silent prayer and provides a valuable resource for those leading Quiet days or retreats on a Celtic theme.

Yvonne Walker – Julian Magazine

Tess’s book is a gift, and one which I have long searched for… a liturgical treasure chest that sums up where I now find myself in this beautifully muddled and messy world of faith. It carries the reader on a rich and inspirational journey of prayer and reflection through the whole year – following the Celtic Wheel. There are, of course, many hundreds of Celtic Christian books today but what sets this volume apart is the author’s obvious love for the Pre-Christian Celtic heritage of this land, a love which means she does not merely resort to the Christianisation of Pagan traditions and customs but lets them speak for themselves. Tess unashamedly and passionately uses both Christian and Pagan elements to create a prayer book that is valuable to those of any faith but especially those find themselves somewhere between the two worlds of the Christian and the Pagan. I am one of those and this book is just what I’ve been looking for! 
Tess is also a fine historian and injects to each month a thought provoking and exciting introduction… informing us of some parts of our history that other books choose to leave out. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to treat themsleves to a special gift, a gift that for many will certainly become a dearly loved companion.

Mark Townsend – author of The Gospel of Falling Down and The Wizard’s Gift

The text is beautifully illustrated by Clare Arnison-Newgass. The descriptions are earthy and very British, so much so that readers might not understand the sense of the descriptions if their climate is very different from that of the British Isles. The language connects strongly with women’s spirituality and feminist themes, which might put some readers off.
… I think Celtic Wheel of the Year is particularly wonderful. It is one of the most original liturgical books I have ever seen, and since the art of crafting creative liturgy is rare we need to cultivate more liturgists of this exquisite a caliber…. For many of us who are married or partnered with Christians, or are Christian and partnered with Pagans, this book is a beautiful addition to our library, for reference, use and inspiration.

Lisa Mc Sherry – http://www.facingnorth.net

FROM JONNYBAKER.BLOGS.COM

UK voice in the global conversation about alternative worship, mission, postmodernity, emerging church and all that – September 07, 2007

celtic wheel of the year – tess ward

over the summer i have read several books and been sent several books by publishers or friends.

i was delighted to be sent a copy of tess ward’s book the celtic wheel of the year: celtic and christian seasonal prayers.

the book is divided into monthly sections with a daily pattern of prayer. it combines the christian seasons with the seasons of the solstices and equinoxes. it draws on celtic themes of the presence of god in all of life and pilgrimage and uses wonderfully poetic language. it’s published by o-books which i think is brilliant as it locates this resource in the mind body spirit world rather than the christian subculture. each chapter has a meaty intro on the themes and festivals of that month. it’s earthy and british – by which i mean the seasons described may not make much sense if you are in another part of the world. it’s also fantastically womanly – it connects strongly with womens spirituality and feminist themes. and i totally mean that as a positive – it’s one of the things i love about it.

tess says this about the appeal of celtic christianity today –

the appeal of celtic christianity today is not hard to fathom. even christians more orthodox and patient than myself are wanting to join up the lines much more between their daily lives, creation, their sexuality, their emotional lives, their faith. this inter connectedness between every living thing is of god.

i love it – i think it’s one of the most original liturgical books i have seen for a long time. (i think the art of crafting liturgy that is creative and connects with the tradition is quite a rare gift at the moment. we need to cultivate more liturgists and artists in the christian community.) tess manages to find a way with language that connects strongly with the christian tradition but without alienating spiritual seekers by her language. just as an example flicking through the book prayers addressed to god begin with some of the following names…

great artist of the beginning
creator of life
father of all prodigals
spirit of god
brother jesus
inspirer of the universe
source of all
breath of life
complete one
constant one
lover of my soul
my beloved
giver of sun and rain
lure of all our longing
oedinary god
innermost god
peace giver
boundary crosser
trickster god
holy fool
hope bringer
substance of our faith
sparkling mystery
still place
shielder of intimacies
god of surprises

this is actually a great example of contextual mission. i remember reading lamin sanneh on the gospel taking root in countries in africa and he made the point that one of the things about those places was that when the scriptures were translated they used the local/pagan name for god rather than introducing an outside name. i’m not suggesting this is a targeting strategy for tess – it’s simply intuitive as she inhabits a world of spiritual seekers, particularly women who are at home in the creation and in their bodies. david tacey in his amazing book the spiritual revolution says that finding a new language is the challenge and tess rises to the challenge.

i am going to use this book for a while to help me pray and see how i get on with it. it’s clearly been a huge project. the book is 280 pages long. and i am sure tess has laboured hard to bring it to birth. some of you may have caught tess leading a couple of sessions at greenbelt. sadly i missed them. i really recommend this book – a wonderful gift. thanks tess!

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