Winter Solstice and Ireland's Sacred Sites - December 2019

sacred sites ireland ToursWhether you celebrate the Winter Solstice on December 21st; Hanukkah December 22nd-30th; Christmas on December 25th or Kwanzaa December 26th to January 1st or New Year's on January 1st, 2020 there are lots of days ahead to shine light into the world, to share love and joy with family and friends.

In Canada, I have the wonderful joy of hosting the Okanagan’s largest Summer Solstice each year in Penticton and during the year I offer tours to sacred sites in Ireland.

Winter Solstice 2019 in Northern Hemisphere and will be at 8:19 p.m. on Saturday, December 21.
Note: The
Southern Hemisphere  have Summer Solstice on Saturday.

The Winter Solstice falls on the shortest day of the year (21st or 20th  December) and was celebrated in Ireland long before the arrival of Christianity. Oaks were seen as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe was a symbol of life in the dark winter months.

It was also the Druids who began the tradition of the yule log. The Celts thought that the sun stood still for twelve days in the middle of winter and during this time a log was lit to conquer the darkness, banish evil spirits and bring luck for the coming year.
Many of these customs are still followed today. They have been incorporated into the Christian and secular celebrations of Christmas.


Photo by Anthony Murphy, Ireland

Ancient people were hunters and spent most of their time outdoors. The seasons and weather played a very important part in their lives. Because of this many ancient people had a great reverence for, and even worshipped the sun. They saw the sun as a wheel that changed the seasons.

In Ireland when we think of  Winter Solstice we mostly think of Newgrange (as the sun shines in its chamber every winter solstice morning through a light box window).  Winter Solstice at Newgrange Facebook page


We don’t, however, give much thought to Dowth, a monument equivalent in it's size to the original Newgrange. (At Dowth, the setting sun is in alignment with its chamber the evening before the Winter Solstice morning).

The word Dowth comes from the old Irish “Dubhadh” meaning “darkness”. 
From the period of Samhain to Winter Solstice we energetically go deeper into the darkness with nature (both: solar and personally).

It is clear from the sacred sites of Dowth and Newgrange Portal Mounds that the honouring of the darkness and the light held a significant place in our ancestors’ consciousness.

Ancient Ireland also had our own Celtic Medicine Wheel with eight sacred festivals celebrated during the year such as at Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine and Lughnasa as well as the better known Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, Winter and Summer Solstices.



Each festival was celebrated at different times of the year (on the wheel) at different sacred sites and monuments around Ireland that were aligned to the stars, sun and major solar events.

Such as Lughnasa festival and summer solstice was held at Grange Lois Stone Circle, Winter Solstice at Newgrange and Dowth, Tlachtga (Hill of Ward) and the Mound of the Hostages (Dumha na nGiall) at the Hill of Tara at Samhain sunrise and Bealtaine Fires at the Hill of Uisneach and so on.



Bealtaine Fire Festival

Throughout history, celebrating and ceremonies during these sacred festivals has been a way to renew our connection with ‘One’ another, our ancestors, the spirit guides of the land, to ‘one’ self and with the numinous through acts of goodwill, love, special rituals, and heightened awareness.


 


Make your own rituals

Solstice can be a beautiful remembrance that our lives are part of a larger order, always changing, always renewing. Attuning our senses to the subtle changes and cycles of the seasons might help us attune more lovingly to the subtle changes and cycles in ourselves.

By performing simple rituals with personal meaning to celebrate the solstice, these rituals will serve as touchstones to help us cultivate an attitude of receptiveness and appreciation that will carry us through the holiday season with more ease.

A good starting point might be to make a promise this winter to spend more time listening, watching, and honouring the slower, quieter rhythm of the season.

On the solstice, visit a place outdoors that’s special to you—a trail you can walk or a field you can wander, a hillside that provides the perfect view, a stroll along the lake or sea shore or even the roof of your apartment building or a quiet place on the edge of your garden.

Consider watching the sun rise or set from your little patch of the world. Write a poem. Make a list of loving wishes for friends, family, coworkers—even people you don’t know that well. Build a shrine of nature’s found objects. Light a candle. Reflect on your aspirations for the coming months. Do a card reading. Sing a song.



Awakening to Group Consciousness

In 2012, I was asked and guided by Archangel Michael and Goddess Áine to create the 'Ireland Sacred Tours' with the intent that I was to bring together like-minded groups to visit these sacred sites in Ireland and connect with the land, our ancestors, the land spirit guides, the elementals, the thin places and Gaia’s energy.

In 2020, I am very excited to be hosting my 20th Sacred Tour.


So to celebrate, we have three Sacred Sites of Ireland Tours coming up this year. Each tour is different and for those who have been on Tour with me before, you will visit many new sites too. Each Tour is hosted by myself, Celtic Wisdom Keeper, Maria O'Farrell Carr and one spiritual co-host.





Maria’s Ireland Itinerary Planning Services

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