2017 - Chain Reaction - Zurich, Switzerland & Holy Well, Tara

2016 - Good Spirits - Yew Cloister, Gormanston

2015 - Clearing a Path for the Wisdom of the Ancestors - Loughcrew

2014 - Samhain - Rath Lugh & Tara

2013 - Beannachtaí na Samhaina diobh - Dowth

2012 - Head Stones - Old Mellifont Abbey

2011 - Embracing the Torquoise Self – Fourknocks

2010 - Journey to the Sovereign Self - Tara

2009 – Samhain - Dowth

2008 - Spontaneous New Beginning - Tara

2007 – Samhain is the Death of the Old - Tara

Samhain 2017 - Zurich & Hill of Tara - Chain Reaction

Samhain energies are slow to arrive this year, but we feel they will be intense 'on the day'.  The intention and vision for our celebration this year is hosted by Marta, Daniela and Dana in Switzerland.  Marta has provided information and an outline running order which you can find here - /samhain-2017-text-and-info/ Joining in the Chain Reaction - if unable to join an event 'in person', over these three days you may feel like lighting a candle wherever you are and taking a moment to share in the energies.

Saturday 28  & Sunday 29 October - Switzerland - ceremony and celebration co-created by Marta and Dana with Daniela.

Photos from Switzerland - thanks to Marta

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samhain3  Samhaincauldron

Sunday 29 October - Holy Well, Hill of Tara

Confirming that the Hill of Tara is a beacon, the hub and fulcrum for Tara Celebrations, we shall join in this Chain Reaction of Samhain energies, with the intention of carrying that foundation into the next cycle by coming back to base, starting the year by lighting a central lantern, taking our own lights and spreading out into the community through time and space.

A beautiful ceremony...   thank you so much to Marta, Dana and Daniela for inspiring that.  For those in Ireland it worked really well, using words and outline provided and just adding our own personal stories and breaking into song a couple of times...

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On arrival we found the well flooded in the lower section so we could not use that area.


Sixteen gathered on the path by the bench, familiar faces and welcome newbies and visitors.


Thanks to Susan for the photos.


Although not beside the well entrance we did not forget it, and placed lights on the top step.

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When looking at the photos afterwards we saw a red mist on some of them - in hindsight we did of course call in the local Gods and Goddesses and Medb Lethderg (`red-side`) is land goddess of sovereignty at Tara...

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and a line of lights which we cannot account for

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We all shared the calling of the elements and directions, Gods and Goddesses, and in love and light the ancesters.  We felt to read the ancestral honouring 3 times by 3 different people.

Our centre was simple, four coloured electric tea lights placed in the north, east, south and west, with a central cauldron.


tara well 301017 release

We wrote what we wanted to leave behind in the old year onto a piece of paper, and then while summoning up all emotions of  'I really want to get rid of this' tossed it into the cauldron. 


Before lighting the papers we silently recalled what we had written, said aloud 'I really want to get rid of this', with the group witnessing this and responding 'We support you'. 


Then we lit all the papers and they quickly burnt, the smoke rising up and over the surrounding circle of people.


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The half moon hung high above us bright and white / silver, we could see the 7 lights of the Plough. 

People were letting off fireworks on the hill so every so often there would be a crash and a whoosh and bright stars falling through the sky. 

We talked of the Pleiades and navigating by the stars. 

 One of the people brought a dog, little white terrier, who every so often barked at something we could not see!

samhain group 2017


We honoured our ancestors, remembering stories of their lives, some spoke openly whilst others held their ancestral memories and space in silence.

Finally it was time to bring closure to the last cycle. 

We extinguished the flame in the lantern, which has been lit for so many celebrations in recent years, and stood in the dark.  It was pure magic when we turned off all the lights and candles and stood, lit only by the moon.  How quickly our eyes adjusted to that.

The dark structure of the lantern shone silver under the moon, and especially brightly as the camera flashed for a photo.  Those flashes added to the ambience, dare we say eeriness, of the moment.

lantern imbolc  tara well 301017 lantern

We confirmed our intention to meet at Winter Solstice, in person or 'in spirit', thanked and blessed the overlighting energies and said 'sin sin'.

Time for cake, biscuits and sweet juicy plums.

In Galway Martin carved out his pumpkin...  wondering was that before or after the wine?

m pumpkin 2017


30 October 2016 - Good Spirits

Many thanks to Pat and Susan for the photos.

Honouring the ancestors and remembering those who have passed.

Entrance doorway through which many pass, then gasp in wonder A matriarchal tree oversees the hidden inner space
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After the doorway the option of two paths

A natural cathedral
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 There was a great sense of calm

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Central light, apples, conkers and the symbolic Goddess of Tara made by Marta.

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Hawthorn berries hung like jewels on the bushes

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Gormanston Castle Exchanging greeting waves
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 A cuppa afterwards - essential.   Between the chatting we looked upwards - wonderful cloud formations.

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Comments from the Host:

The main feeling I got was one of peace and protection inside the cloister.  Perhaps those intertwined branches felt like the ancestors protective embrace and how we all are connected and linked together. The entrance reminded me of an old beehive. Again, connecting with that feeling of community that was inside.

The sunshine outside and the sounds of children playing, but once I stepped inside I definitely felt that I was in a special place. It was one of those feelings that you have to be there to experience.

I could sense the peace and calm that was in the group and found it very soothing. All in all a lovely way to connect with the ancestors, and loved ones who have passed.

And from one of the participants:

When we walked through the entrance to the Yew Cloister, it was like entering a different world - a world of quiet, peacefulness and reverence. We found ourselves in a natural cathedral whose Cloisters were made entirely by the intertwining branches of the magnificent Yew trees. We found ourselves a spot within this wonderful space and opened the circle for our Samhain celebration. We shared poems, music and then dispersed for a few quiet minutes of reflection as we rambled through the trees.


Interestingly, given the day that was in it and the tradition of the Yew being associated with Ancestors, I followed a path which led to a small graveyard at the back of the Cathedral.

When we returned to the circle some shared the experiences of their reflections and then the ancestors were remembered and honoured. It was during this that I realised that as people of all ages passed near our circle, they went quiet as a sign of respect to the strange folk in a circle in a clearing. No judgement, no jeering, just reverence - as if they sensed we were involved in continuing a tradition that our ancestors have been involved in for thousands of years.

When we finished we adjourned to the steps of the college for our customary tea and cake in the sun... plus a wonderful chat of course. Our Samhain celebration was at an end - another wonderful experience with friends... and the ancestors of course!



And in Switzerland, Marta and Dana celebrated with friends

Table decorations. Much chatter and laughter and the extensive use of a tiny little spooky sound machine (cackles and screams and ghostly sounds).


Our ritual included the Morrigan and Horned God, also acknowledging Cailleach, Hecate and Cerridwen. For once nobody had wanted to be left out.


Loo roll bats


Ancestor's altar





31 October 2015 - Clearing a path for the Wisdom of our Ancestors

ancestors family tree Any one attending is asked to bring clear quartz crystal for part of the ceremony, which they will be able to take home.

Weather permitting a walk up to the cairns.
The celebration will centre on aligning ourselves with our ancestors.
We will meditate to focus and clear any energies that need removing.
The group will write any words or messages received onto paper.
The crystals will be cleared and energized.   Clear pure intentions will be put into the crystals to assist the ancestors to bring their wisdom to us.
A path will be created using fallen leaves which we will walk through.
A   channel will be cleared to allow for the crystals and intentions to be placed on the path to create the wisdom energy.
Open heart - Tea and treats!

 The narrow winding route up to the Centre and Hill is beautiful in autumn colours.


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Signs to the Megalithic Centre at the car park at the entrance onto Loughcrew Hill -

the white buildings at the Centre have their own car park, but are only a short walk down from this roadside car park as well.

Loughcrew centre


Loughcrew seat



This memorial reminds us that us that what is conceived between Autumn Equinox and Samhain is born next Summer Solstice.



 In Memory of Mick Tobin (1918 - 2011) - Child of the Solstice

George R Knight - June 2008

We left you dancing at your party,

surrounded by your friends and neighbours.

Speeches tugged at heartstrings

a life well lived described with eloquence.

You danced a jig before us all,

years slipped away.

A young man looking out on a long future

That old devil Father Time tied,

trrussed and helpless in the corner,

His presence not recognised.

The Old women became like the young girls

they once had been in your presence.

They tilted back their heads

grey locks became the golden hair of Youth.

All life spread out,

a feast to be enjoyed and we are dining still.

We jested, laughed and sang

and still enjoyed the power of The Hill.

When you were conceived ninety years ago

the Cairn on Loughcrew

With sunlight filled -  the Autumn Equinox.

A child of Summer Solstice born and

that sunlight around you shining still.


Loughcrew steps


These steps take you up onto the Hill.

If you want to meet the ethereal Cailleach there, and the weather is good, some will meet and walk up 4pm on 31st before the gathering at 5pm

Walking up the hillside as the light fades

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Cairn T in the Samhain sunset

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Cairn T

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Loughcrew landscape

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Loughcrew Samhain sunset

loughcrew setting sun

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Inside the Centre, the path is set up for the wisdom of the Ancestors

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Turnip Lanterns


thanks to Anne N ©

for these photographs of her carving

31 October 2015

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From Marta - They were in a woodland near Zurich

We called on Hekate and the Horned God, on the time of this season, blessed the past year and welcomed and blessed the upcoming year, let go of things that shall not follow us into the new year and made wishes for the new year.

Then we remembered the past ones and shared stories and memories. It's interesting - the circle tends to become somewhat cooler, or a person or more feel a bit colder during this sharing. It was a very mild and warm evening and when mentioning one person I felt cooler air surrounding me for a while.

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2014 - Samhain

The theme - honouring the past (year, and also ancestors) and stepping over the threshold into the new year.


Wsamhain carde honoured the Goddess of the ancestors - Maeve, and the now dead Sun God - Lugh - who has gone, but will rise again at the Winter Solstice, like a Phoenix from the ashes.  The Phoenix has been a strong theme for some this year.


We had the horned God to guard our doings.


Thanks to Susan, Marta and Martin for the photos.


This is Dana's beautiful card and Marta's inspirational Phoenix painting.

Samhain2 - Kopie

30th and  31st October we travelled via Dowth, Newgrange, Knowth and Slane, and visited some of the local places linked to our ceremony and to Samhain.

Maeve and the horned god symbolically appeared at Rath Maeve near Tara

rath maeve

Swans and Stag appeared in many disguises as the meeting was planned and again on the estuary of the Broadmeadow River nr Swords and in nearby Newbridge Desmesne, Donabate

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shining sun on water

 stag's horn close upstag

 The sun shines into the Mound of the Hostages, Tara, at Samhain & Imbolc

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Tara crow flies over the hawthorn hedge, red with berries, and mushrooms are plump and abundant

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At St John's Well, Warrenstown, the outlet stream disappears into a dark tunnel,  symbolic of us going into the winter's long night.

stream outlet


Inclement weather at Tara, pouring rain and wind, caused us to seek another venue.  We had earlier visited Rath Lugh and found it welcoming.  Hence,  we travelled to the wood and monument, seeking some shelter under the trees.  We stood at the crossroads, formed naturally by the tree planting. This photo taken in our recce the day before.


Earth element symbols of gnome and crystal

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Air element colour yellow and water bird whistle

Samhain2014 air  bird water whistle

Watery rain element provided by the natural world - umbrellas were raised.

Samhain2014 umbrella

Fire element from torches lighting our pathway amongst the colourful beech leaves

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Central log where we blessed the earth with mead

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Mead for the goddess Maeve

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Samhain2014 teltown stick rath arthur


Walking stick symbolic of Lugh -

from Rath Airthir (the eastern fort), Teltown,

the place where Lugh-nasadh is celebrated


Samhain2014 004 path in the woods

Everyone chose up to three things that they wanted to let go off, leave behind in the *old* year - feelings, worries, bad habits, something entirely positive that is over now and finished, It could be a person you really (but really!) don't want to have contact with any more... it's about leaving this behind, but it's a definite choice. So only things you're sure about letting go of. We placed these intentions into dried leaves.

  This natural path to the past is where we released our leaves

Samhain2014 crossroads

Above the tree canopy protected us from the worst of the rain as we told stories of our human, animal and tree ancestors and friends. 

Samhain2014 canopy protection

Samhain2014 into the woods


Then we departed back to tea, food, warmth and dry towels


Cats joined some of our distance connections

Samhain2014 pixie watches from a favourite perch

Witch's Ladder

For those that came back to Tara to dry off,  Marta had a short 'Something Good to Do' to then take home and have it work for you. Collect 9 feathers. The feathers need to be collected by you only (so no sending out other people to find them) and they need to be from different birds (but they can be from 9 crows... just not from one and the same crow. as in: no getting one's one and only hen and steal 9 feathers from her). They can be from any bird but not peacocks or black roosters. Size of feathers doesn't matter, she would advise not microscopic tiny, but they can be small, too.

Samhain2014 plaiting the ladder

3 pieces of wool plaited and then 9 feathers inserted with intention proved a challenge for some.

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Photographic celebration of Rath Lugh before and after our ceremony.

It was visited on 3 days this Samhain by different people present at the main gathering

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rath lugh the centre of the crossroads


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Thanks to John A for this picture of magical Halloween western sunset over Sligo Bay

and to Marta for this one of eastern sunrise the following day at Tara


sunrise at Tara


The preferred method of travel this time of year



And this is Dublin seen from a modern, mechanised broomstick

dublin lights


and from Molly Earth Deva - click here to visit her website - 11/1/2014 November 1st......

Celtic New Year....winter begins
the veils be so very thin....
misty shadows of ancestors &
those loved ones already crossed over....
standing oh so near
no fear....
love offered as well as....
fresh starts, new beginnings...
like the leaves & the rain falling all about....
there for the taking, there for the giving....
we borrow for a bit, & will give it all back .


life & death....
the wheel turns round again
deep breath....

the season of going with~in
deep breath....

the season of tucking in....
deep breath....

nature begins her slumber....
slow.... still...



9 November 2013 - Beannachtaí na Samhaina diobh

A Chairde

Beannachtaí na Samhaina diobh.   Friends, the blessings of Samhain be with you.

Samhain is a cross quarter day, a fire festival and astronomically occurs when the rising position of the sun is mid way between the rising position of the sun at Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice. It is the starting point on the wheel of the year where the next cycle begins. It is the beginning of the cold dark winter period and It is marked by Neolithic sunrise or sunset alignments with ancient monuments such as cairn L at Loughcrew, Mound of the Hostages on Tara and most likely Dowth South passage, here at Dowth. These places would be natural places to connect with this energy as our ancestors did.

May we welcome the darkness of winter and sit easily in her silent presence.

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Sometimes seen as a cold uncaring stark presence, full of emptiness and death and to a certain extent this is true. Halloween revelries portray the presence as frightening and ghoulish but this is an ego fear. Samhain is the energy that we must yield to on a daily basis. We allow her to take from us that which no longer serves or that which is complete. This creates space so that we have room for new experiences but with the wisdom of those that have gone before.

We can hang on to nothing, not feelings, not comforts, not tragedy or pain, nor our thought constructs, nor our possessions, not even our loved ones. The persona of Samhain is there to take from us on every level, the great things and the thousand small things. We are all visitors, coming in with nothing and leaving with nothing. Letting go of everything familiar, no matter how comforting or painful it may be, is a daunting prospect.

This year our Samhain celebration will take place at the Neolithic temple of Dowth in Co. Meath on Saturday 9th November at 3.30pm. This date is the true astronomical date, rather than Hallowtombeen on the 31st Oct. However, the energy of Samhain is perhaps better understood as being a season that lasts until early February (at Imbolc or St Brigit’s day), rather than a specific day.

We will gather to bid Slán to the old year and bless her for all the gifts brought to us chanting “gurbh maith agat”, the positive and negative.

We then welcome in the new year energies and all the potential they hold, but we will notice that the new year comes in as the Cailleach and is actually taking from us, this at first may seem more threatening and frightening than she really is. Maybe this may be challenging to welcome but if we yield she may surprise us.

For every one thing the Cailleach takes from us she will gift us with 1 seed of equivalent or greater value.

The Cailleach will then bind and bless all she has gathered, all that is complete, unserving or dead and bring them to her fire of transformation where all is transmuted into light.

After offering our dead things into the fire and creating space we will pause in silence as does the earth in winter.

Silence is broken with singing (I am stretched on your grave).

At this point we plant seed that has been filled with the silent meditation. Each seed planted will mark an intention, and for each seed planted we will send a group blessing and affirmation that it would grow to fruition. It is at this point we see the logic of letting go earlier on.

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It is also appropriate to remember our ancestors at this time of liminality. Each participant will mark on a black board a strand in a web to commemorate an ancestor. The web will then be placed in the centre and a spirit plate left on it with a light. We take a silent moment to remember our dead and offer them a blessing and prayer.

To complete our thanks, welcome, surrender, transformation, silence and remembrance we actively jump into the new year energies through the fire.

Gathering once more we may contribute to an open heart sharing through heart felt words, poems, songs, dance or sharing.

We then conclude, eat and leave, allowing the encroaching evening to take over and Dowth (meaning darkness in English) to settle into her bend in the valley as she presides over the night.

Please bring, warm weather proof clothes, outdoor boots, a torch for getting back to the gate, a sense of adventure and a curious friend.

And finally, greetings to all our connections who in the southern hemisphere are celebrating Bealtaine and the turning of Spring to Summer.


Many thanks to Anne for the following photographs - a record of our afternoon going into darkness

Note: no fires were placed directly on the ground thus future archaeological research was not compromised by traces of modern activity 

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Robin guardian checks us out as we arrive

samhain doggie

why are we waiting?

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Sun tries to shine through the clouds over Dowth Mound

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Saying hello to the mound and ancestors before the ceremony

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On the top of the Hill

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The centre

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Dusk falls and the centre fire dies

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Lighting the flame

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Ready, steady, go!

samhain jump flame into winter

Jumping the flame into the New Year

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Fond farewells in the darkening evening

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Bridge over the River Boyne at Drogheda, the home journey for some of us.


3 November 2012 - Head Stones

Old Mellifont Abbey, near Tullyallen, Louth - 2.30pm meet at the Lavabo

During the planning meditation several places suggested themselves as the possible venue.  As so often happens prior to a meeting we agreed to do a recce to settle the matter.  We do not usually report these journeys but this one became a quest and felt as if we were gathering the energies for the meeting, starting at Tara car park on Saturday 27 October 2012.  We stopped at the Conyngham Arms Hotel in Slane for lunch and whilst there agreed provisional dates for 2013.  At each we asked whether this was the place for the gathering and trusted our intuition to inform us.  None felt totally 'right' until we arrived at Mellifont.

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 Hill of Tara seen from Skryne  St Columbcilles church near Skryne  Skryne church  Tara Churchyard
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 Dalgan Park  Donaghmore  Slane Old Mellifont Abbey


Samhain is Tara Celebration's New Year gathering. We start the year in the dark of winter, just as the babe grows in the enclosed womb and the seed puts down roots in the soil before seeing the light of day in the spring. This year we continue the theme of Colin's Journey from Autumn Equinox by connecting to our inner light whilst in our winter cacoon. We remember and have gratitude for our ancestors, calling to mind the gifts we have received from them, and also the treasures that the land of Ireland shares with all generations.


Outline of the Ceremony


head stone stones


Setting group and individual sacred space and acknowledging the cardinal directions.


stone and ancestorsGift of Light - Tunnel, Cailleach and Circle – Two lines of people create a tunnel of hands linked as an arch. The Cailleach blesses her lamp and candles at the central fire. Each walks through the tunnel and is met by the Cailleach, holding a lit lamp, who hands each person a candle symbolising the ancient gift of light passed down from our ancestors. The circle is complete when the last has walked down the tunnel and the Cailleach has joined the circle. She then tells everyone to light their torch, the 21st century gift of light.


fire and stone


Ancestral acknowledgements and gifts (wisdom) taken into the future - everyone puts a mark, such as cross, on a provided stone to represent an ancestor (such as you would on a grave stone).


The stone is then placed into the mandala web of life, so that it touches the ground.  The stone connects to the gifts of our ancestors (DNA etc) and the gifts that the land of Ireland shares with us. A worksheet will be provided for privately connecting to the Seven Generations and the stone at home.







The ground will then be cleared by symbolically sweeping away the old year and sweeping in the new.


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picnic tables

Warming tea, brack & tasty titbits were enjoyed in the shadows of the setting sun


After the gathering two of us felt the draw of Newgrange and stopped outside the monument - peeking over the hedge was the stone beside which we shared last year's Winter Solstice.  On a dead tree trunk there was a selection of wonderful fungi.  We spread the ashes of our samhain fire on the ground, returning the natural fuels to the earth.


 wint solstice stone


fungi newgrange1 fungi newgrange ash spread Newgrange


St Malachy & Old Mellifont Abbey


3 November is St Malachy's feast day.  St Malachy - Máel Máedóc Ua Morgair - had a vision and prophesied the last 112 Popes and was the first saint to be canonised by a Pope.  He was Archbishop of Armagh and died on 2 November 1148 at Clairvaux in France.  Malachy founded Mellifont Abbey, the first Cistercian Abbey in Ireland, in 1142.  Cistercians often built their abbeys on the streams into major rivers, and so here.  The Abbey is sited on the River Mattock which runs into the River Boyne.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prophecy_of_the_Popes


6  November 2011 - Embracing the Turquoise Self

Waiting for the door to open at Fourknocks

samhain 2011 waiting for the door to open

Inside looking out

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dreamcatching with turquoise

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A Chairde, Óiche Shamhna sásta diobh! – Friends, Happy Samhain!

Our Samhain 2011 gathering will be at Fourknocks, near The Naul, on 6th November starting 2pm. Some of us are planning to meet beforehand in the Cottage Cafe at the Seamus Ennis centre at 12.30 for lunch, so join us there if you fancy a bite to eat.

At the start of the 2010-11 annual cycle, Samhain on Tara, we journeyed to our Sovereign Self. The celebration at the start of this new cycle has the theme 'Embracing the Turquoise Self'. Turquoise is an attribute of the 'heart within the heart', is about walking your talk, living your dream, honoured by the native Americans and Egyptians, it brings (ancestral)wisdom and connects with all that is. Long ago humanity decided to experience duality and now we are on the return path to unity. Turquoise helps to integrate male and female, dark and light, body and spirit. Every situation you experience is designed to bring you back to wholeness and turquoise facilitates that. Returning to wholeness is the mission of the turquoise self. During our ceremony in the symbolic cave-womb of Fourknocks, we will honour ancestral energies, recognise our own deep well of resources and draw on earth's gentle support to protect and enliven us as we clear the way into our next spiral of experience engaging this turquoise energy.

_Overview of the Ceremony _
At the doorway we stood two sticks one red (base chakra) & the other white (higher chakra).  As our eyes slowly adjusted to the dim light Bernie related, with sound effects, her story entitled The Werewolf.  Were we scared?  a little bit..... Then, in the centre we set the turquoise cloth with the web-like dreamcatcher, and sticks representing yin and yang, male and female ancestral lines with which we created our own private mandalas, symbolically bringing together the wisdom of ourselves and ancestors. We then recognised we are all united. Imagining that we are each an instrument in the great orchestra of life, with the aid of a conductor, everyone expressed a movement, symbolic of one aspect of their higher self, which carried the wisdom of their ancestors. Bringing up the resources of our own family lineage, recognising and embodying that in order to prepare for the new beginnings, we concentrated and gathered all sustaining and nurturing flows in the universe using tai chi movements to raise energy from mother earth and our ancestral lineage.  We integrated and magnified it in our hearts and shared with the world. Then using fallen leaves, to represent non–serving ancestral patterns and issues we carry within ourselves, we cleared those so that we may walk our wishes unburdened into the future. People took leaves from a basket and spread a small pile in front of them.  Then symbolically sweeping from left to right we finished by linking hands and walking forwards, our path clear, walking into our turquoise selves and our wishes. Happy New Year!

the flight of light into winter at the end the turquoise cloth and brush remain

samhain 2011 centre 1

samhain 2011 centre

the moon rises and sun sets as we depart into darkness

samhain moonrise

samhain sunset

_Open Heart _ Before closing the ceremony open heart contributions provide an opportunity to share any poem, prose, song or piece that inspires you. If you cannot attend but would like one of us to share on your behalf please reply to this email. Food and drink will bring strength to our physical bodies and give thanks to all beings and ancestors before we disperse into the new cycle.

If you are unable to join us in person you can intentionally join in by lighting a candle or just 'holding space' for a moment. We are all linked together in loving unity wherever we are in time and space, connected by the rhythm and flow of the creative life force.

All Turquoise blessings to you as your amazing life unfolds in the coming year,  le grá,   The Tara Celebrations Samhain 2011 Team.

Greetings to Dana and Marta!  Thank you for this lovely Samhain drawing.

samhain by Dana

Thanks to Ela for photos of the 2011 Virginia Pumpkin Festival

pumpkin festival virginia 2011 pumpkin festival virginia3 2011

November 2010 - Journey to the Sovereign Self - Hill of Tara


A chairde,Fáilte go dtí tús an bliain nua

and we are looking forward to journeying with you through the coming cycle. Samhain may seem like an odd place to start a calendar but, the Celtic and pre-Celtic people believed that the night preceded the day, the day was birthed out of darkness just as we were all birthed out of the dark womb.


To honour this time of new beginnings we will be holding a celebration rich in myth, symbolism and ritual to help us connect with and be part of the rhythm of Nature.


The theme of the celebration is new beginnings on the path, the journey towards the sovereign self. That means taking the next (first) step to becoming your divine ideal, the next grandest version of who you are, your divine sovereign self.


This year we will be celebrating in the Banqueting Hall which in effect is the birth canal on Tara. Four people will come from the four quarters to light the sacred fire (archaeologists, this will be up off the ground!) and we will be making affirmative statements to encourage people on their Journey. The journey then begins with passing through a magical doorway that only one person will ever pass through. When you have done this the doorway is ritually destroyed, a powerful statement that you have embarked on your chosen journey, no one else can walk this path as it is your path, your life.

As the weather at Samhain was a tad inclement we simply broke the sticks inside and burnt them later in a stone circle at home.

 sticks2  bon fire2


Part of the ritual of Kingship at Tara was the king taking a cloak that would magically fit him. We will honour your sovereignty, your divine essence by placing a cloak of sovereignty on your shoulders and recognising the bigger version of self. Pictured below is the Cloak of sovereignty with added bling for the new year.



Becoming a sovereign self affords us an opportunity to try a new way of life, to emulate traits you find desirable in someone inspirational, become someone new, become the next grander version of your self and it need not be a gravitas task, so make sure to bring your sense of humour!


There will as usual be an open heart contribution section where we invite you to share with us a prayer, a song, an inspirational quotation, a poem or verse or a blessing. We will finish with some food and warm drink.


If you intend coming bring strong shoes, warm coat, gloves, torch candle in a jar, drums or other musical instrument and although a sense of humour is optional it is highly recommended you bring one and if you haven’t got one beg, borrow or steal one!


Also included will be a simple medieval stick dance and an energetic “higher self” dance.


Brightest blessings, love, light, laughter, joy, peace, fortunate blessings, friendship, strength, auspicious days, music, passion, inspiration, luck, fortune, abundance, wealth, happiness, stability, sovereignty, healing, excitement, music, majestic splendour, peace, gentleness, strength, guidance, wisdom, brilliance.


Le meas agus le grá the Tara Celebrations Team


pumpkin green pumpkinred
 pumpkinreda pumpkinblue


2009 - Samhain - Dowth

lone druid 

above: A lone figure watches a Samhain sunrise on the Mound of the Neolithic  Hostages on Tara

A Chairde, Óiche Shamhna sásta diobh.

In 2009 for Samhain we held our ritual in the field at Dowth. 

Dowth (Dubthach/dark house) is the place of death where the weakening winter sun shines into the megalithic chamber of Dowth South at solstice every year. 

It is a Neolithic master piece that complements the dawn sunrise in Newgrange 8 hours previously on the winter solstice.

dowth mound

Above and Below,The Great mound of Dowth, entrance to the dark underworld

dowth entrance

As it happens Sunday 8th November 2009 is the actual Stone Age date of Samhain, the date when the rising sun illuminates the Mound of the Hostages on Tara.

tara samhain alignment

Above: Samhain sunrise illuminates the interior of the Mound of the Hostages, Tara

 The theme emerging for the celebration was one of revealing the skeleton and stripping away all that no longer serves the light, whilst at winter solstice we will be incorporating the rebirth aspect of Samhain. But, for now, we will be considering death and sitting quietly facing our inner demons.  Just as in nature, the trees lose their leaves and become skeletal, to give them the ability to resist the biting winter winds.

chestnut 2Samhain was considered the time of year when the veil between this world and the next were very thin and that the spirits of the dead were allowed wander on Samhain eve. It was tradition to placate the spirits by leaving out some food or drink (for the púca). We too shall be remembering our ancestors and offering them token food and drink.


Today, when we look at the shops we see masks of zombies, ugly witches, mummies and monsters etc.  However, this is but a faint echo of the powerful underlying symbols that we will be re-membering this Samhain. Part of that will be making a mask of our own demons and dealing with them as appropriate. 

 cailleach crone witch

The diety associated with this time of the year is the old Cailleach which is the old wisdom face of the goddess Brigid. To represent the change over period from maiden to crone we will be dressing Brigid in a dark cloak.


The bon fire is another tradition. The sacred Samhain fire was started on the Hill of Ward (Tlachtga) and its flames brought across the country. Bon(e) fires were used for bringing heat and light into the cold and dark, for burning up the dead matter that we carry around.


Annes web

red berry4

apple tart


 Above: the cobweb theme was used throughout the ceremony to convey the unity of all in the web of life. Traditional Haloween fayre of seasonal nuts, apples and murdered apples sliced and baked between hot sheets of pastery, other wise known as an apple tart. yum! And bright leaves herald their demise and fall.

What to expect

We will be placing ourselves in the web of life in relation to; our ancestors,

our place of ceremony and our inner demons thus giving us a sense of time and place.

Brigid will don her black winter mantle and become the Cailleach of winter. We will be keening her death.

We will be creating masks to represent our metaphorical mask to the world which people can bring home or burn to represent the death and transformation of the inner dead. (we will be burning on a brasier off the ground to protect this sacred and sensitive spot.)


spiders web haloween

Then we will be drawing the web of life with each strand representing our departed relatives and friends as well as the unknown dead and blessing them all with love and light. To emphasise the web we will be tying a rope together into a circle to represent the unbrokeness of the circle of life and using it in a simple dance to send healing energies into the ethers.

Following that we will have open heart contributions whereby if you have a song, poem or profound thought you’d like to share, then please do. We will also be offering food to the ancestors as well as feeding ourselves.

ancestral websamhain center

Our Samhain center. The lantern representing life the cailleach representing death, a selection of food and drink for the ancestors, memoriam cards of departed relatives, the hoop representing the cycle of the year and eternity and the dark center representing the void which we all orbit.

clean slate


The chalk board was used to draw the 8 divisions of the year, then participants drew strands for departed ancestors creating a web of life. We silently prayed for their highest good and wiped the board clean to start the new year with a clean slate.

The colouring pens were used to create a mask representing the damaged ego holding us back which we then ripped apart and burned in the cauldron, transforming that which no longer serves..........boy did that feel good.

 connecting the strands, Weaving the web of life 

(Thanks to BJ for the pictures)




human web human web 2

Below the sun set at Samhain clips the back of Newgrange when viewed from Dowth

samhain sunset behind newgrange


Some of the group bathed in Samhain sunset light at the end of the ceremony

dancing ancestors

Dancing Ancestors in the hedgerow

green glowing skull

A Glow in the dark Crystal Skull called Merdrin was with us for the ceremony at Dowth

 red berry 2

moon transit

Samhain moon transits the Banqueting Hall at its Zenith

 small group

above: Some of the group up to mischief

Scarecrow Festival at Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada, 2009

Many thanks to Kate for these photographs....

mahone bay1

mahone bay3  mahone bay4

2008 - Spontaneous new beginnings - Tara


The wheel has turned again this year
And now we face the winter fear
Of darkened days and lengthened nights
And sudden shadows that give us frights
 From highest hill to lowest vale
We look to winter and can not fail

To turn and face what we most dread-
Those darkened monsters of the head 
And when we face our inner dead
We cleanse those monsters from our head
The wheel has turned, we face the dark
Behold the center, the winters spark.

Martin Dier 


 samhain 08a

The black crows circled as we circled... and summer turned to winter in the season of samhain...

We ate from the harvest of nuts...

and shared our apples with the land... cherishing the lone apple of red and green from a displaced tree...

The sheep grazed as we announced ourselves to each other... as we danced around the handbags to the beating of the drums...  

We danced inwardly to a close circle then outwardly to face the far horizons...

We smoothed our auras with Grail essence... and we received our messages from the angels...

and while the black crows circled as we circled...

the white death skull sat silently upon the ground. 


Time dissolves, souls gather, in unity mysterious ancestors draw near.

Blessed or beloved, reviled or forgotten, generations amass, no harm, no fear.

Ancient memories stir in our hearts, distant dreams we've sought, held dear,

Slither silently within darkening shadows, whispering quietly to those who hear.

Plucked by wise invisible hands, echoing, vibrating chords appear.

Weaving through the Land of the Living to the Land of the Dead

Seeking creation's love, eternal, we reach out to the strangeness of a deathly bier.

Time dissolves, souls gather, celebrating sacred samhain of the wheel of the year

2007 - Samhain is the death of the old - Tara

Nature begins her hibernation and withdraws life force from the trees so that they can survive through the tough conditions of winter.  We brace for winter with the security of Lughnasadh harvests and release our baggage to the Cailleach and the bone fires.  We remember at this time our ancestral dead and honour their presence in our lives. Ccelebrating in ritual and meditation our ancestral lineage and the death of the old year and old energies, we invoke the protection of the landscape, and honoured our dead and their presence in our lives by bringing photos and momentos of our departed.

See the Sacred Art of Tara revealed at Samhain 2007 here

 lismullin neolithic art 2

A lovely seasonal verse from Liz Kirkham in Derbsyhire England:

Orchards at this time of year

are to birds a great attraction
picking at fruit in the trees
brings them real satisfaction


and try her rose hip syrup recipe for winter comfort -

'A recipe i used, was 3lb's  of  hips, put into a saucepan, cover with water and let them boil until they are almost soft.Then to each pint of juice, allow a  pound of sugar, and boil together for about 15mins, the liquid turns to syrup,it's best left to mature after bottling, for a short while.' Remove the hairy fruits before boiling and use stainless steel pans. 


And Liz also sent this lovely picture of bright autumn flowers:


renishaw hall 014

Notice the 5 (the number of change) formed by the shadows on the right hand tree - taken in the churchyard on Tara just after our Samhain ceremony last year... this is not an enhanced photo!

samhain 05


 Samhain berry

The tree dies to the red berry

The red berry dies to the black seed

The black seed dies to the dark earth

and what at first seems like a schism, a spliting asunder, a wrenching apart

is the start of a new life.

md. samhain 2008







We had a fantastic Samhain trip to Edinburgh 2007 and meditated with the Mitchell Hedges crystal Skull.

We also took in Rosslyn and lots of other power points in the landscape.

 mitchell hedges1

Page last updated: 5th Nov 2017