Happy Solstice…

Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy 12 Days of Christmas, Happy New Year’s Eve and Happy 2017!

Over the years I have shared what the Solstice means to me; from what I have gleaned from other people’s understandings and writings, and now, here we are, coming up to Solstice again! The words I have written in years past are ringing hollow in my mind;  the yule log, keeping the fires burning for the 12 days, drumming, celebrating … but what was Solstice really all about to our ancestors? The Winter Solstice marks the rebirth of the sun after the shortest day, yes, and it falls between two major fire festivals Samhain (sow-een) or Halloween and Imbolc (St. Brigid’s Day – February 1st the day our ancestors celebrated the first day of Spring :). What about Newgrange, in County Meath, where an ancient tomb covered with beautiful artwork remains in darkness for much of the year? The spiral symbols can be seen at this Newgrange site and, once a year, on the Winter Solstice, the tomb fills with light to reveal the beautiful artwork on the walls.

The history steeped in mystery. At this darkest time of the year, are we meant to go within to see our own light and look for the shadow that dares encroach upon it? Keeping the home fires burning is a reminder to keep our inner flame stoked and to bring out our own Excalibur sword. Remember Brigid’s silver mantle of light? Check out the Celtic Wonder Tales by Irish poet and scholar Ella Young for the original Celtic Creation Story (I have decided to post my quickie version of Ella’s creation story as a PS at the bottom of this note; as a scholar, Ella’s translation of the ancient Irish texts are cumbersome, yet the story within is fantastic!). Yes, Arthur’s sword of Truth comes much later, but remains very important to inner Solstice celebrations. Can it be that our soul purpose is to shine bright light into the shadow areas and into the blackness? Not only in our external world, but inside.

It struck me this year that some people who have come into this world of duality and seen, felt and lived darkness have got stuck in it and think that they are of the darkness.  Excalibur is here to teach us that it is the Sword of Truth and that Truth is something that you know in your heart. Truth is that you are that spark of light at the very centre of your being, even if it is surrounded by darkness, and at any moment, Excalibur will slash away that darkness when you look inside.

We are about to enter into the Winter Solstice – truly a time to celebrate this New Year begins with the Solstice; this is the time, at this darkest time of year, to remember that Excalibur is always with you; we all carry our own Sword of Truth. By looking back to see what our ancestors’ traditions symbolized, you can share with other people what you know and be brave and learn about what you don’t yet know. We are all in this together 🙂 And remember the key to life is Gratitude … whenever Fear starts to strike a chord in you, go into gratitude for all of your blessings and press the reset button (As the great Jim Carrey says below; please read his words below,  from a speech he gave at a convocation in the US)

JIM CARREY: “I have a reset button and I ride that button constantly. Once that button is functioning in your life, there is no story that the mind can create that will be as compelling. The imagination is always manufacturing scenarios good and bad and Ego tries to keep you trapped in the multiplex of the mind. Our eyes are not only viewers, they are also projectors that are running a second story over the picture that we see in front of us all the time. Fear is writing that script. And the working title is “I’ll Never Be Enough”.

And you might look at a person like me and say, “How can we ever reach those heights, Jim? How do you fly so high without a special breathing apparatus?” This is the voice of the Ego; and if you listen to it, there will always be someone who is doing better than you. No matter what you gain, Ego will not let you rest. It will tell you that you cannot stop until you leave your mark on the world, until you achieve immortality! How tricky is this Ego that it would tempt us with something that we already possess?

So, I just want you to relax. Relax and dream up a good life. As far as I can tell, you just let the universe know what you want and then you work toward it, while letting go of how it comes to pass. Your job is not to figure out how it is going to happen for you, but to open the door in your head and when the door opens in real life, just walk through it. And don’t worry if you miss your cue, because there are always doors opening for you. They keep opening.

When I say life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you; I really don’t know if that’s true, but I am making a conscious choice to perceive challenges as something beneficial, so I can deal with them in the most productive way. You’ll come up with your own style, that’s part of the fun.

Oh, and why not take a chance on faith as well. Take a chance on faith, not religion, but faith. Not hope, but faith. I don’t believe in hope. Hope is the beggar. Hope walks through the fire and faith leaps over it.

You are ready and able to do beautiful things in this world and know that you will only ever have two choices, love or fear. Choose love and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart.”

PS. Going into 2016, I am bringing with me two thoughts:  ‘Count your blessings and more will come’ (gratitude of ancestors)
and ‘This great big light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…’ All the best to all of you; thanks for supporting my oasis of love in Lakefield and look forward to seeing you all soon!

PPS:  from Ella Young’s Celtic Wonder-Tales, published in 1910. This is my summary of Ella’s translation of the creation story and where I first learned of Manannan from the Isle of Man and Midyir and all the magical awesomeness in ancient Celtic legends of gods and goddesses …

Brigid and the Shining Ones live in the Land of the Living Heart, Tir-na-Moe, a world of gods. Earth is in the pit of chaos, wrapped in the black hissing of waters and monsters. Brigid heard the Earth dream of beauty.

Brigid begins singing and the Earth begins to sing. Angus the Ever Young, the Subtle-hearted and the others hear her sing and they gather around Brigid. Midyir, the Red Maned, the Haughty; Ogma the Wise, Splendor of the Sun, the Dagda, whom Brigid calls the Shepherd of the Star Flocks, Mananun, Nuada the Wielder of White Light and Gobniu the Wonder Smith.

Midyir volunteers to look into the darkness to hear the thunder and to throw fire amongst the monsters. Brigid says, “I’ll put my mantle round the Earth because it has dreamed of beauty.”

Angus offers good luck and says he would go if the had a sword of light. Brigid says yes! “We will take the four jewels: the sword of light, the cauldron of plenty, the spear of victory and the stone of destiny to build power, wisdom and beauty and lavish heartedness into the Earth.”

Midyir ‘grasped the fiery spear and descended like a flame’, treading out the monstrous life in his wake. A tide of foam and blood arose around Midyir and the spear was a wheel of fire changing the darkness from murk-red to blood-red to rose-red.

“I have made a place for Brigid’s mantle.” Brigid threw down her mantle and it touched the Earth and it spread like a silver flame until Angus jumped on it and it wrapped him in a silver mist and he laughed and called the others to follow and they did. They saw each other like images in a dream. Dagda drew green fire out of the cauldron and scattered greenness everywhere. Angus played with Dadga’s greenness, sculpting valleys and hills.

Mananun saw exiled monsters with iron eyes looking over the edge of Brigid’s mantle. He drew the sword of light on the advancing chaos and the sea monsters fled. Then he raised the sword to the waves, green and sweet sounding, with amethyst purple and blue-white foam. Mananun swung the sword a third time and the sea rose to greet it in a “wave as white as crystal, unbroken, continuous, silent as dawn.”

Brigid lifted her mantle like a silver mist and the Da Danaans’s saw clearly.

“Let’s stay here and make beautiful things so the Earth will be glad,” said Mananun.

Brigid took the Stone of Destiny in her hands and it shone like a white crystal and she laid the stone on the green grass where it sank into the Earth. A music played as it sank and suddenly all the hollows were filled with water, rivers and deep pools … “It is the laughter of the Earth,” said Ogma the Wise.

“Now we must learn the secrets of the Earth and slowly fashion dark, strange trees and fishes, not like the fishes in Connla’s Well.”

Nuada says, “We shall fashion other trees and hounds and deer and we shall be smiths and artificers or the world and beat the strange life out there into other shapes and we will make islands to the north and west and surround them with the three waves of Mananun and refashion all things until there is nothing unbeautiful in the whole earth.”

The Lords of the people of Dana, the  De Danaan lords, told Brigid she must go to Moy Mel, Tir-na-Moe, Tir-na-Oge, Tir-fo-Tonn and all the other worlds because she was the Flame of Delight in all of them.

Ogma says, “Brigid, tie a knot of remembrance on the fringe of your mantle so that you will always remember this place. And, before you go, what name shall we call it?”

“Ye shall call it White Island and it’s other name shall be the Island of Destiny and it’s other name shall be Ireland.”

Ogma tied the knot.

After Dagda returned to Tir-na-Moe, waves of invaders came in what are known as the Invasions of Ireland.

“Let’s stay here and make beautiful things so the Earth will be glad.”