The Sun Stands Still

Solstice literally means “sun stands still” for about three days.  About ten days ago we had snow and sleet on the mountains.

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We had hope that we might get a “White Christmas” and a shining, sparkling Solstice but our hopes were dashed as temperatures rose again and we became engulfed in mist. The mist wrapped itself around and imposed a magical enchantment, reducing sound and only slightly revealing ghostly shapes.  Soft and velvety it protected us from the madness of current crazy consumerism. Then, on 20th December it seemed to be clearing.

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The mountains were becoming visible.  Perhaps we would be fortunate to see the sun the next day.

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On Thursday we were up to celebrate the solstice,  to greet the returning sun. Just before dawn, standing in our bare feet to connect with Mother Earth,  we sang and chanted and I drummed a welcome but unfortunately the mist was too heavy – it was a fog!!  We could not see the sun but we celebrated anyway.

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Celebrating the Solstice is celebrating the return of the Light, celebrating the strengthening sun.  We lit a candle and made our dedication for the coming year.  Thinking of the light with-out and the light within, we lit candles around the house.

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The house is dressed with the gifts of greenery from the forest, Holly, Ivy, Pine and Spruce, representing our hospitality to the Green Plant Spirits and our recognition of the sun’s vital role in generating life on this planet.

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As we lit the candles we thought of all the aspirations we had for ourselves for the coming year.  We thought of how we all carry Divine Light within and how can we best use it for the benefit of ourselves and for others. What do we want to illuminate and allow to shine?

 

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Eventually the day lightened – we still couldn’t see the sun for the mist but our house was well lit and we felt full of optimism for the coming year.  All will be well in 2018, all is well.  May the blessing of the light be with you.  As my yoga friends say, may the sun shine upon you.  Happy Yule.

Happy New Year from An Bhean Feasa

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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.

 

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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. landfill-2

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.