The Ninth Wave
The Ninth Wave
the call of the sea
World Oceans Day, Monday 8th June
Monday 8th June is World Oceans Day. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, can we spare some time to think of the sea and how we might help, stepping beyond our own troubles and seeing that bigger picture. The sea calls us to that wider sense of being while the hatchling turtle struggling across the beach or the dolphin tangled in abandoned nets bring us the personal stories.
On World Oceans Day, people around our blue planet celebrate and honor the ocean, which connects us all.
For 2020 World Oceans Day is growing the global movement to call on world leaders to protect 30% of our blue planet by 2030. This critical need is called 30x30. By safeguarding at least 30% of our ocean through a network of highly protected areas we can help ensure a healthy home for all!
World Ocean Day website 2020
Now, let us follow the river down to the sea. With our ongoing sense of reflection, if you can walk by the sea (you lucky things!) or even stand by a river or a pool, just pause:
Between eddy and drop,
Between ripple and pool,
Between splashing and crashing,
Between rolling rocks, and trailing weeds.
And the deep cold pool below the falls,
You just might detect
The long endless sigh, as
The ocean calls to the stream.
It might be a sound,
Or a smell, or a tug
On fingers trailed in a mountain pool.
Perhaps the call is the faintest taste of distant salt
Or an inbuilt memory of a place you’ve never been.
But with tail flicker, eel pour and fin flare,
With water spray and rapid and flow,
They answer and
The deep sings the children
Of the mountain shallows
To the open sea.
Monday is World Oceans Day and while in the UK, at other times, we would have planned events, this year that is obviously difficult. You can still be involved.
Visit the WOD website for ideas and routes to action – even distanced as we are, we still have voices and fingertips for keyboards or for pens. We can still speak and ask and lobby. We can still create and display and encourage people to think…..
And as the salmon, and the eels, and the sea trout follow the river down to the sea,
you might turn to the saints of the sea
St Brendan who sailed out from Ireland on Imrama (magical journey) past fabulous islands searching for Paradise
St Andrew who became a fisher of men
St Clements who was honoured by Vikings.
Or you may turn to the Caribbean’s Agwe and La Sirene, or to Mami Wata who is revered on both sides of the Atlantic
Or you might share the stories of Odysseus and Mael Duin. Or Arthur: “three times the fulness of Prydwen they went into it, and, except seven, none returned from Caer Rigor”* . There may be islands of strange and wonderful and horrifying and fabulous moments. There may be Norse Aegir and Ran waking storms and netting hopes or the memory of the enchanted Children of Lyr like a fading mist over the Irish Sea.
The sea offers transformation. No journey across the waves leaves the traveller unchanged, and no matter how well intentioned or how well resourced, in the past, to journey onto the waves was to cast yourself into the unknown, to put yourself in the hands of whatever deity you hoped (or dreaded) might be watching.
For most of us, our journeys may be less perilous these days but the sea still fascinates us, still calls us. If you can, you may simply stop by the sea and think. Think of all the saints or spirits and let them go, wash your own thoughts clear with the waves or with the ripples of an inland stream and simply let the peace of the water sing to you
You, who dwell on the heights,
Grant us thy gracious blessing,
Carry us over the surface of the sea,
Carry us safely to a haven of peace,
Bless our boatmen and our boat,
Bless our anchors and our oars,
East stay and halyard and traveller,
Our mainsails to our tall masts
Keep, O King of the Elements, in their place
That we may return home in peace.
The Ocean Blessing, Carmina Gadelica, vol 1
Part of a much longer prayer
In Celtic mythology, the ninth wave is the boundary between the safe inshore waters of the land and the open ocean. By the Ninth Wave you are on the open ocean. By the Ninth Wave you are in the realm of Mannanan mac Llyr and his white horses may race you across the seal-grey, whale-blue sea while all the depth of the water is a silence beneath you
Even sitting here, reading these words on a screen you could think yourself out, over, past, through 8 waves, 8 thoughts, 8 saints, 8 spirits, 8 breaths,
and at the ninth you could stop and appreciate the sea.
* From the medieval poem, The Spoils of Annwn
TheOcean Blessing: easiest source of the full prayer (and many others) is Carmina Gadelica, Alexander Carmichael, Floris Books paperback, 1992 (entry 118, page 120)
The paintings are all c. Sue Eversfield whose work can be seen at The Green Man Gallery, Buxton
All photos: c. Gordon MacLellan