Psalm 19

What wakes, in such haste
At the solstice point of my life

What rod, now bitter, now sweet
Do I grasp in these budding hands

In whose triumph, with what chains
To which obligation am I led

In the standing circle of my days
The almond branch ignites

Kevin Moran 27/6/10

Whakapapa: I wrote this psalm after my companion Annette sent me a picture of an almond tree in blossom. The psalm is a meditation on an experience of awakening. A person can experience a series of awakenings, both large & small. Awakening never ends. There is always more. Annette sent me her photo of the almond branch on the shortest day, the winter solstice. The Hebrew name for almond is shakad, which means ‘hasty awakening,’ which speaks of the unique nature of the almond, whose exotic flowers appear in Palestine in January (mid-winter) and are supposed have initiated the process of Creation. Almond blossom supplies a model for the menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum, used in the Temple. In Hebrew symbolism the flowering almond is a symbol of hope, a symbol of new life. It is also a symbol of watchfulness and promise. According to tradition, the rod of Aaron bore sweet almonds on one side and bitter on the other; if the Israelites followed the Lord, the sweet almonds would be ripe and edible, but if they were to forsake the path of the Lord, the bitter almonds would predominate. Christian symbolism often uses almond branches as a symbol of the virgin birth of Jesus. Paintings include almonds encircling the baby Jesus. Almonds are also a symbol of Mary. The poem includes symbolism of a Roman triumph in which defeated kings & chiefs were led in chains through the streets of Rome and presented to the Roman Caesar. It also contains symbolism of the standing circle. The great megalithic stone circles stood at places like Stonehenge and New Grange. At New Grange the stones surround a giant burial chamber. Once a year, at the winter solstice, the rising sun shines directly along the long passage into the burial chamber for about 17 minutes and illuminates the chamber floor. This alignment is far too precise to be formed by chance.

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