We are still celebrating Yule here in Connemara. Yule is also the season of the Winter Solstice and it celebrates the dark half of the year relinquishing its hold to the light half. Each morning after the solstice on 21/22 December the sun rises a little earlier and stays visible a little longer, giving us something to celebrate – the “rebirth” of the sun. One can easily understand how this festival of light was Christianised – to celebrate the birth of the son (of God) by just a little adjustment of a couple of words.
Although Yule is a Germanic word there is little doubt that the ancients of Ireland also celebrated the Winter Solstice at least 5,000 years ago. Newgrange is a megalithic construction oriented to the Winter Solstice and as the dawn light illuminates the passage, hitting the back wall at sun rise, one could say it brings the spark of life to the Mother’s womb.
Our later ancestors celebrated the New Year after Samhain, Hallowe’en, but again due to Christianisation, many of the traditions associated with the Celtic New Year were transferred to the beginning of January. So along with all the feasting, celebrating, dancing, drinking, gift giving and singing; this is also the time for some introspection. We can assess what we have achieved or harvested in the last year and plan what it is we want for the coming year. Plans and hopes are nurtured during these dark days like seeds lying in the dark earth. As the sun becomes stronger and the earth warms, the seeds sprout as do our hopes and dreams and best of intentions.
Most people make resolutions to change for the better in the coming year and I have, as always, also made some resolutions. They are always for personal improvement such as more exercise, developing patience, getting to bed at a reasonable time and so on. This year though, I am also making two pledges. One – to stop buying stuff. I have enough clothes to last a life time. I have enough books, cds and dvds to keep me entertained for ever and I am a member of the local library. I want for nothing. Buying things is something I am aware I am manipulated into doing and I have decided to take back my power, for me and for the planet. This web-site www.storyofstuff.org reveals what happens to all the stuff that I buy, where it comes from and where it ends up. Most of the “stuff” is not doing any good at all and I do not want to be burdened with more stuff or see it go to landfill.
My second pledge, Two – to stop buying water in plastic bottles is something I have been thinking about for some time. There is far too much plastic in our world and while some of it offers benefits almost everything plastic does can be catered for by other materials. Plastic disrupts hormones, damaging people’s health and affecting the health of the environment and no one really knows to what extent. Our oceans are awash with plastic and it makes me feel ashamed to think of the negative impact our excessive use of plastics has had. In America alone, millions of plastic bottles go to landfill every hour!!!! My second reason for making this particular pledge is because of Nestle’s appropriation of water in various places around the world and its statement that water is not a human right. It obviously is a human right and because I am lucky enough to have water plumbed directly into my home, buying it pre bottled is telling Nestle I agree with them AND it is adding to plastic waste in the environment.
It is one thing to make a New Year Resolution, making a pledge in public, is, I think, a sacred promise. I know it is not going to be easy but I will let you know about how I deal with temptations during the year.
Blessings of Peace to everyone for 2017 and may the abundance be shared among us all, may the Dagda’s cauldron overflow with kindness, compassion, good health, friendship and acceptance. Blessed be.