Winter Solstice

2017 - Phoenix from the Cauldron - invoking the Energy of Rebirth - Tara

2016 - You Light up my Life - Fourknocks

2015 - Without Darkness there can be no Light - Newgrange

2014 - Walking the White Winter Path of Wonder - Seomra Tara

2013 - Rebirth of the Sun God from the Goddess - Hill of Tara Healing Centre

2012 - Welcoming Light - An Tobar, Ardbraccan

2011 - Silently Observant - Newgrange

2010 - Snowflakes - Own homes / Newgrange

2009 - Rebirth of Light and Hope - Own homes / Newgrange

2008 - Yule Celebrations - Tara

2007 - Ceremony of Light - Tara

21 December 2017 - Phoenix from the cauldron - invoking the energy of rebirth - Hill of Tara

Greetings to all those who turned out on a wet, dark and dank, toe numbing night on Tara. Some years the moon and stars shine bright, and it is a merry celebration, but this year the weather was gloomy and melancholy. A dark night before the return of the light. A different aspect and experience of Mother earth at winter time.



Winter Solstice

Thursday 21st December 2017 

8pm, Hill of Tara

Meet at the gate journeying to Rath of the Synods, behind church yard.


(You learn something new every day.....When I was creating this ceremony I began with an image in my mind, a fiery phoenix rising out of a cauldron of molten lava, something akin to the above image.  Then when I started writing, I  used the term “dross energies”.   Dross,  I knew meant something regarded as rubbish or  unwanted but subsequently I discovered it specifically refers to the solid impurities that sit on molten metal. And also in the blessing of fire I had used the term “Molten Lava”.  Sometimes spirit gives you a confirmation your on the right path which is a genuine concern as I was thinking of handling fire in my bare hands during the ceremony.)

This ceremony is  designed to embody the energy of the phoenix rising from the cauldron. To burn away misqualified, dysfunctional and  dross energies. To rise from the ashes of that dross and individually soar free as well as doing it on behalf of the collective.

Winter Solstice is the time in the year when we experience the long, dark cold weather intensifying. Morning after morning the weakening suns’ rising  position moves south east and it appears to get lower and slower until it looks as though it can not continue any more. It reaches its southern limit and seems to stagnate and die.  Then when we hit the 21st December the, sun is reborn from its ashes in the fiery cauldron of solstice. It manages to rise on the following mornings a little further north and it travels a little bit higher in the sky.  The energy of this rebirth can be thought of as a phoenix rising from the ashes.  This winter solstice let us engage with the energy of the phoenix who rises from the ashes of its previous incarnation. We all have aspects of our existence that are dysfunctional, stuck or  dross  that needs transformation. Let us allow the heart flame to burn away our stuckness and have that energy transform into a healthy pattern within us. And as we do it for ourselves let us do it for the world and its collective.  Now although at first glance the phoenix may seem like a non native symbol to focus on, if we replaced it with the word Swan then we could tap into an ancient understanding of the Irish. Anthony Murphy of www.MythicalIreland.com has convincingly pointed out that there are swan references in our mythology. Particularly of interest is the story of Aeongus and Caer who return to Newgrange as swans to live. If we were to look through the astronomical lense at the same story and imagine we are at Newgrange 5000 years ago , pre dawn, we would see Cygnus the swan constelation dive into and rise out of the tomb. Out of the ashes of the ancestors, soaring toward the zenith. A stone age, Irish phoenix. And as this is playing out in the sky above the brugh the rebirth from the ashes markes where the sun returns to strength, brighter, stronger every day.

Things to bring:  Tea light in a jam jar with white paper taped around the outside to create a glow rather than a glare.  Hat, coat, gloves, boots, torch, snack to share

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Master of Ceremonies (MC):  Attune to: sounds, stillness, darkness, night, earth, energy of Tara, our spirit guides

All:    Open Directions:  East, South, West, North, Centre

All: Smudge and Light
MC:   Lights the central fire
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and was void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. The Light became the magical living fire and its secrets were kept from humanity by Zeus.  But Prometheus being bold defied the great Zeus and stole the fire and gave it to humanity.

Blessing of the fire
All: Read out and burn the blessing to release it as light -  I am the light of your eye, I am the spark in your forge,  I am the glimmer of dusk, I am the light of transformation,  I am the power of rebirth, I am the flame of the phoenix,  I am the warmth of your friendship,  I am the glow of your love, I am the heat of your passion,  I am the glow of your aura, I am the glory of the sunset,  I am the colours of the rainbow,  I am the blaze of the bonfire,  I am the reflection in the well, I am the chaos of the forest fire, I am the energy of the sun,  I am the shimmer of the moon and stars, I crystallise the delicate air into mighty trees,  I am the light of hope in the darkness, I am the radiance of health, I am the source of warmth, I am the Charisma of molten lava. (based on Kathleen Glennon, Heartbeat of the Seasons, Columbia Press, 2005)

MC: invites everyone to again focus silently on blessing the fire and lighting their candles from its flames.

Then follows a fire dance to celebrate being a custodian of the light (Game of Thrones Theme Tune)

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MC:   Meditation on 7 levels of the Heart Flame (Based on David C Smith, Urban Subversive Healing, An Introduction to Community Based Spiritual Healing, 2006 (Self Published Booklet))

(Fire keeper to remove ashes to let cool and put into dish)

Get comfortable and relax.  Put hands over the heart and breath. Sense the activity of the physical heart, tune into heart beat, feel it in your heart, feel it in your hands, feel it in your face.

1.    Feel, imagine, sense or see a flame in your own heart.

The flame flows and ripples like water, dances and leaps up like air, but is strong and steady like earth. It also has a magical etheric dimension to it that burns away all negativity but leaves the physical  unharmed. As you focus see it intensify and get brighter and brighter. Harmonising and balancing as it burns. Expanding steadily until you become the wick of a giant flame, igniting all around you with love , transformation, compassion and kindness.

Now remember the strongest most positive feeling of love you have ever felt, real or imaginary or both. As you focus on this make it stronger and more real, feel it in every part of your body. Relax into this feeling and let it over flow. Feel the pleasure  and joy. Intensify the feeling and allow it to fill your aura. Look inwardly at your heart which is the seat of the flame. Smile into your heart and let the good feelings burn the flames brighter. You are now filled and burning with love. Enjoy this, bask in this, let it grow, become brighter and brighter stronger and stronger, harmonizing  and balancing as it burns.

2. Then push this out to encompass the ring fort.   3. Expanding steadily until Tara becomes the wick of a giant flame.  4. Expanding steadily until the country becomes the wick of a giant flame. 5. Expanding steadily until the World becomes a wick in a giant flame  6. Expanding steadily until the Solar System becomes the wick of a giant flame..  7. Expanding steadily until the Milky way becomes the centre of a giant flame.

Enjoy this expanded awareness of love within you and love omnipresent in the galaxy.  Feel, imagine, sense or see contentment in all beings and in all places and in all times. Be the fiery phoenix with open wings burning all that is fearful, unloving, inharmonious and unbalanced.  Zoom back to the solar system, back to the earth, back to Ireland, back to the Hill of Tara, back to the ring fort and back to self standing in meditation.  Now let go of all baggage, all dross, all misqualified energies. Let it all go into the fire and burn away as ashes. You are the phoenix, you are different, you are reborn. You accept the love, you accept the change, you heal, transform and arise anew out of the fiery cauldron of life. You are inflamed with love, healing, balance and harmony. Throw any and all resistances into the heart of flame. Release all that is useless into the flame, release the dross, embrace all that strengthens your spirit with love and relax, release and heal in the flame of love.  <<pause>>  And now coming back to your body. Becoming aware of the temperature, the flickering fire light, the sounds around you, the weight of your feet on the ground, wiggle your fingers and toes, open your eyes.

All: Releasing the dross
Taking a pinch of the ashes each person focuses on their dross and  breaths all misquallified energy into the ash. They then throw it into the fire saying “I let this go !”.   The group replies “We support you”.  The round ends with applause.

MC: Drawing in the Fire.
Invites the group to approach the central fire and extend their hands out to bring the flame into their aura and draw that fire into their limbs and spine and become like a living flame, a phoenix reborn from the ashes.

All: Phoenix healing circle -  Candle Dance Phoenix Soaring Free (Adiemus,Cantus, Song of the Spirit) with candles. Dancing to integrate the energy of phoenix.
All: Open Heart    MC Grounding: Visualise roots and Tapping the body.   MC: Final BlessingAll:    Close Directions: C, N, W, S, E, Thank Tara

We thank and Bless the energies for being with us this evening - Sin Sin -   All:    Silent Night.   Food

Credits:  Music: Enya, Silent Night- Enya, The Celts- Karl Jenkins Adaemus, Cantus, Song of Spirit.    Art: http://conceptartworld.com/studios/nuare-studio/?replytocom=518458
Books: Anthony Murphy, Mythical Ireland, The Liffery Press, 2017, www.MythicalIreland.com.  Kathleen Glennon, Heartbeat of the Seasons, Columbia Press, 2005.  David C Smith, Urban Subversive Healing, An Introduction to Community Based Spiritual Healing, 2006 (Self Published Booklet)

The next day they gathered in the garden where they all lived.... true to form, Santa had found the sherry bottle in the night and had to have a lie down for the rest of the day.
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Cerys and Harvey from Meath enjoy a visit to Santa Paws at Assisi Charity Shop, Ballynahinch

'It is getting to feel a lot like Christmas' as the song goes...  and here are two lovely doggies starting the season off on 25 November 2017

Assisi Animal Sanctuary is Northern Ireland's largest independent animal welfare charity providing shelter for up to 200 companion animals - cats, dogs and rabbits

Cerys and Harvey at Assissi

And it is Ferdy's first Christmas in Nova Scotia... 

he's found a friendly mouse or, is it a hedgehog?   .... better investigate further Ferdy.

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Bernadette shared her Christmas Day walk on the Hill of Tara

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Yes, that is a crow on Patrick's head


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18 December 2016 - Fourknocks - You Light up my Life

Thanks to Susan, John, Susan, Pat, Marta, Martin and Nora for their pictures and words,

Winter Greetings!  Nollaig shona do gach duine!

Before we head in through the passage way to the cocoon that is Fourknocks, we will leave behind our cares, we'll be cleansed with air, fire water and earth, we will go inside, to our own space but sharing with everyone present, seen and unseen.

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We will open the circle, in the middle will be greenery - symbolising the life in all things no matter what stage they are at. The centre will also contain light, and coloured balls (and chocolate ones too) to symbolise the return of that light. It is a time for nesting but also nurturing our seeds that we planted back at Samhain, (and the goddess Bridget will help birth those into this world at Imbolg).

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We will talk about the solstice, what it symbolises, then sit on our cushions ( please bring a cushion and a plastic bag to put it in) and have a short meditation, then we'll all help write a poem for the solstice by contributing words. We will share the poems and the golden balls of light from the circle, reminding ourselves that the light is there, we are all connected and while we have had our quiet time, it is also time for sharing and enjoying life, no matter what time of year or how hectic things seem at the moment.

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Host comments:


We mentioned that we had our celebration on Sunday 18th, and in Ancient Rome Saturnalia started on 17th up to 23rd December, with fun and frolics and exchanging presents, and they also celebrated the renewal of light at the Solstice, birth of the unconquerable sun (Dies Natalis Solis Invicti).


We also remembered the traditional gods and goddesses:


Santa Claus who shares characteristics with -

the Holly King, Celtic God of the dying year,

Father Ice, a Russian winter God,

Odin, Scandinavian all father who rides on an 8 legged horse,

Great Mother, who gave birth to the sun child,

Ops who is the Roman goddess of plenty, wife of Saturn,

Holda, the earth goddess of good fortune.


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Every time we look at the mini representation of the sun, we are reminded that the light is always there.

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It's dark but there is always light somewhere.

s . o . l . s . t . i . c . e

poems inspired by the word

Summers heat has disappeared - like the vapour
Of my frozen breath -
Lingering for far too short a time.

So, cold and darkness become the norm, until the earth
Turns back toward the sun
In late December,
Causing us to celebrate the triumph of light as the rule of darkness

Soul - destroying darkness,
Omnipresent cold,
Linger depressingly -
Spring is on hold.
Then, Natures magic,
In one special day,
Changes our earth-course -
Enlightening our way.



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Sharing...Over...Light rays...
Everywhere I look


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Next evening at Monday Meditation & Healing Circle darkness turned to light.

They exchanged gifts and had a lovely chat with good food and delicious tea.

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Below: Dagda Mór , a face on a carving by Michael Quirke, Sligo. He depicts the good god of abundance giving his all around Solstice. The Holly leaf over the mouth is a warning against excess consumption at this time. The Solstice fire behind him reflects his warmth at this time of year. He lights us up. There are 3 other faces on this carving , each one representing a face of  the seasons. .....Happy Solstice and every blessing of the re-turning light......Martin in Galway



The Path of the sun on 18 December 2016 as seen at 12 noon, centred on Fourknocks

click here  to link to the plan below

solar path 18 December - 12noon

Beautiful traditional Advent Candles

Nativity of Our Lady Roman Catholic Church, The Naul, Fingal

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22 December BBC Radio 4 - Open Country - Winter Solstice at Newgrange

Now available on BBC iplayer  – this is a wonderful programme with some thought provoking ideas.

As Bernadette says all you need is a flask and warm clothes and to go out to enjoy the event...

...It is about meeting up with people who you can get on with, and who you can share with, and you feel comfortable with,

and they don't have to bring anything or be a certain person.



and in Switzerland... 



Dana cooked vánočky -

sweet yeast-dough plaits (with almonds and raisins), an old family recipe from Eastern Europe.


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Marta says:
At night on the apartment balcony, freezing cold, mum had decorated the table and we spent a while there, contemplating, talking, reading Solstice related texts.
Later the candles on the altars indoors were re-lit. Several candles... and left to burn down.
In the end, while all candles had been the same size, one rosey candle dedicated to love was still burning strong - a nice one to do that.
Love over all!   A good reminder.


20 December 2015 - Without Darkness there can be no Light

newgrange tri spiral 2The theme of the day is;        "Without the darkness there can be no light"

and we will celebrate the darkness of the shortest day of the year while looking forward to the increased daylight ahead.

As we are in Newgrange, the famous tri-circle symbol will feature - representing the intertwined cycle of Life, Death and Rebirth as a  tridem of life.

We will meet in the car park of the Newgrange Visitor Centre at 7.30 am and get a shuttle bus to the site. (Sunrise is at 8.37am).

We will first walk around the mound in an anti clockwise direction (Widdershins = banishing\reducing) calling in the directions \ elements as we go.

Spirals - some of them are drawn clockwise... while the others are anti clockwise... a synchronicity with the walk around the mound.

This will open the circle with the chamber at its centre.

The fact that the chamber at Newgrange will be the central focus of our circle is very powerful and very exciting.

The intention is that the renewed positive energy we create can be distributed to the world through Mother Earth for the highest good of each individual and for all.

While calling in the 4 directions\elements we will also call in the 4 parts of each individual:


East - Air - Mind,   North - Earth - Physical body,   West - Water - Emotions,   South - Fire - Spirit



When the circle is complete - coinciding with Sunrise - we will pass through a "doorway" symbolising going from the darkness into the light.


A horned God - possibly Cerunnos - has come up in connection with this and his association with the sun and birth\death\rebirth.


Water is also coming in. In winter it appears in its 3 states: gas (clouds), liquid (rain), solid (ice) and this will be reflected on.


As well as paying attention the implications of the darkness on nature and the outer world, there will be a period of inner reflection - a time to "sow the seeds" of ideas and plans for the future.


An "open heart " session where anyone present is welcome to contribute to the celebration. This could be in the form of a poem, reading, meditation, song or whatever feels right for the occasion.


After open heart \ meditation \ reflection, we will walk clockwise around Newgrange (Deosil = attracting\gaining).


We will thank the directions\elements and attract positive energy both to Newgrange and each individual present\tuning in.  We will then close the circle.


As usual there will be food and drink afterwards so bring along something to share. (This is dependent on the weather - if it's too bad we can always adjourn to the cafe in the visitor centre).

Thanks to Pat and Susan for the photos of the day

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There was a cold wind blowing but it was dry when we met under the starlit sky at Newgrange for our Winter Solstice Celebration. Although only five in number, we were aware that folk were tuning in spiritually from far and wide.


Starting before sunrise we walked around the monument, calling in the directions and opening our circle before walking through a symbolic "doorway" - made of 2 branches from the site - into the light at sunrise.


We then had an "open heart" session comprised of the thoughts, poems and insights of those present. This was followed by a period of reflection around "where I am now, and where I want to be in the future".


The circle was then closed and a very powerful energy was felt when the final sentences were spoken in Irish, the native language of Ireland, as a tribute to our ancestors who celebrated the Winter Solstice thousands of years before us. They left us a message back then, a message which was received loud and clear all these millennia later as the Light of the Rising Sun illuminated the chamber at Newgrange:


"Do not despair in the dark, for without the dark, there can be no light. For as sure as night follows day, as sure as the river flows to the sea, as sure as the cycle of birth, death and rebirth continues, the darkness will be banished by the Light."


May the renewed energy of Newgrange go where it is needed and may the Light brighten all your lives in the future.


Pat Farrell

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Thanks to Nathascha for allowing us to share in the magic with these photos from within the stone circle at Avebury, Wiltshire, on 20 December morning
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and Stonehenge sunset that day
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shubacanadie reindeer 2014

Twice a day until Christmas Eve (9 a.m. and 3:00 pm AST) Santa himself is seen feeding his reindeer and checking his mail!

And, no, he is not feeding them Christmas cookies!

Watch Santa feed the reindeer everyday at the Shubacanadie webcam in Nova Scotia



21 December 2014 - Walking the White Winter Path of Wonder

 The December solstice occurs when the sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. In other words, when the North Pole is tilted furthest – 23.5 degrees – away from the sun.

in Dublin this is Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 23:03 UTC - and so the first return of the light after Solstice is dawn on Monday December 22nd.

Solstice flowers

 Walking life’s path – The six of swords:


Winter SOlstice 2014 tarot card

Venue: Seomra Tara, 'Angels Haven', Killeen Road, Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath

Start times:   4pm   -   if you want to help build the outdoor flour labyrinth : 6pm   -   to eat something you have brought  : 7pm   -   Ceremony Starts


Dia diobh a chairde.

 Plants animals and humans have all chosen to adapt to the changing energies and walk the winter path in a way that resonates and celebrates their adaptation to the season. It means turning away from that aspect which no longer serves and journeying to the next best version of your life, this is illustrated by the six of swords in the Tarot deck, illustrated here by the “Holy Card Tarot (Patty Gallagher)” where a mother and child are journeying toward the promised land.


So this year Tara Celebrations has decided to consciously walk the white, winter path of wonder!


As we have to walk the winter path we thought it would be better to do so remembering that we are doing it as a means to a new beginning. We are metaphorically moving through the dark womb of growth, heavy with the potential to arrive at a place we want to be rather than simply arrive at a place we didn’t expect or wish for.


To this end we will create a conscious and pleasant pathway to arrive at our personal goal and let our light shine so we can see where we are going and when we get there we want to know we have arrived.


The incorporation and reflection on the five elements will help us consider the different dynamics that each of us must engage with in order to move forward to our goal; air for inspiration and instigation, fire for activation, expansion and passion, water for adaptability and reflection, earth for practicality and support, and ether for overview, fusion and realisation. The room will be laid out as pictured, so anyone who cant attend in person is welcome to set up likewise and participate.


Winter Solstice Sun:

When we think of winter solstice we are thinking mid winter and shortest day. The rising position of the sun slows down to a halt as it reaches its most southerly rising position. The day it halts is southerly advance is the solstice or stand still. It is effectively the day where we turn the corner and head for summer. It’s like being in a car and having to slow down to turn a corner.



The energy at this time is about slowing down, reflecting, hibernation, withdrawing and using what resources we have to keep an even keel.



In nature many plants loose their leaves and can no longer make food. They live instead by decreasing their metabolic rate and entering a sleep state and live from reserves of food stored in the roots. However, some plants will be stirring into wakefulness, secretly gathering resources to burst into flower.

Animals can hibernate, produce thick winter coats, adapt their diets or migrate to a more favourable clime.


Our beliefs:

Over 2000 years ago the Celts observed the dance of the Holly and the Oak waltzing from one season to another. The Christians chose the date of Christmas to be the Birth of the Son of God while the Pagans may have seen it as the rebirth of the sun god.


Our Culture:

Over 3000 before the Celts the Neolithic peoples, already aware of this cycle marked the occasion by building places like Newgrange which allows a beam of sunlight into the inner sanctum on the shortest day of the year. So although still in the season of Samhain the solstice marks the mid point of that season reminding us that the days are again lengthening even though the cold has yet to bite. It is thus a time for taking stock of the harvest stores and planning for challenging times. 

Thanks to Pat, Susan and Martin for these photos

seomra labyrinth

For those that are coming in person we will spend some fun time in the garden making a giant sized labyrinth out of flour that we can walk and meditate in.  It’s not part of the ceremony but we may be able to use it as part of our sky lantern launching pad. (As it was wet on the night the intentions were later burnt and scattered on the labyrinth.)

winter solstice labyrinth orbs

Solstice labyrinth
seomra centre


We are using a small A3 labyrinth for the centre as it represents a circular mystical path with a goal and hints at the circular nature of the seasons, our path in life etc etc.

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The room will be laid out as pictured, so anyone who cant attend in person is welcome to set up likewise and participate.

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Winter SOlstice 2014 centre plan1


A blend of the four archetypal energies will be found in everything,

everyone and every purpose.

Solstice water


When we walk the circular pathway with the elements we can then step forward to our goal supported by their energy. Our goal is symbolised by arriving at a sky lantern to which we will attach some tissue paper with our intentions to be raised skyward.


Winter SOlstice 2014 element


To communicate with Air we will chant Ohm as air is the medium in which propagates and carries sound - acknowledge the initial idea, hearts desire.

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To radiate the energy of Fire and to light our way we will make paper lanterns to shine out symbols of radiance onto the paper foot path for ourselves and others - expand the outcome image bigger, brighter, bolder, happier, more colourful

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To nourish Water with love and in turn to be nourished by it, water will be placed into a singing bowl that will be struck by participants to charge the water with an intent like peace or healing. We can take this water home with us or gift it to the earth -  imagine having it in one way, then another, use different colours, shapes and situations.




To interact with Earth we will create colourful paper footsteps with words of inspiration we step on, thus we symbolically and energetically step forward using positives like joy and abundance - imagine helpful people, salt of the earth.

nora meddy


To commune with Ether we will use meditation and incense. Ether, like light contains all vibrations and so is seen as omnipresent and perfect. It's energy is everywhere and is similar to the aroma of perfume or incense that invisibly fills the room. Through meditation we can some times become more in tune with its presence - now that you have it how do you feel, how do you act, behave. Give thanks

Circle Dance method -  meditation to slow down and stop and start  -  Circle dance Pachelbel Cannon in D to model solstice and rebirth heading towards our goal -Pachelbel Canon in D, to tie in with slowing down like the sun and setting and being reborn to move on to our goal   -   Step clockwise 4 beats  -  Turn towards your goal 4   -   Bow and cross arms over chest 8   -  

Arms out to hold hands with neighbours 4   -   Arms up 4   -   Hands to sides 4   -    Turn 4


24 December 2014 the Labyrinth is still in place following all the Solstice rain

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 Lanterns lit tuning in with the ceremony in Seomra Tara

Nora, Bernadette & Susan

Bakewell, England


Navan, Meath, Ireland

lantern navan

United States

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 from Glenys in Abergavenny via Ros in Northumberland


As the land sleeps at the deepest dark of the year though all seems still and quiet,

there are creatures stirring in the night.   Not every animal will sleep away the winter, but most will only stray abroad when need is great, for it is a cold and hungry time for those who are awake.

On this night, the longest of all, another force is stirring.
The life of the land is at its lowest ebb but even now there is a promise of new life to come.   The berries and seeds which will grow in the spring shine brightly in the hedgerow and the Green Man laughs as he wishes us

A Merry Solstice.


---oooOooo---    ---oooOooo---     ---oooOooo---



 from Lori Folkins, Ontario, Canada

May we all become aware of the day and the night,

the Seasons and the phases of the sun,

moon and stars and with this awareness may we be

blessed by the loving wisdom and guidance of the universe.

Happy Solstice everyone!

lori drum



 Click here for Winter Solstice info on Issuu

issuu screen catch wint solstice

21 December 2013 - Rebirth of the Sun God from the Goddess

Many gathered on Tara and welcomed the sun as it rose in the southeast - thanks to John Anthony for these photos

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Thanks to Anne who captured the Golden Sun and Moon sharing in the morning rebirth

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P1170126 3Highlights of the ceremony (things may change on the day depending on circumstances)

Blessing and cleanse with Holly, Ivy, Pine and Mistletoe.
Explanation of Yule Traditions
Tree decorating and sharing presents. (We shall put all the presents into a sack and then draw one each)
Yule Logs decorated and wassailed then placed in the fire.
Meditation in darkness with the wonderful aroma of incense.
The Rebirth of the Sun God from the Goddess - Lighting of main candle and then individual candles.
Yule Blessings Open Heart - an opportunity to share what inspires you.
Carol Singing
"Feasting" - a drink and snack.

Please bring a decoration for the tree, a small present wrapped, aYule Hat and snack food for sharing at the Feasting.

Hill of Tara Healing Centre is a stone barn and although we are inside it can be chilly so wear something warm.  There are no seats so please bring a folding chair.

It has been known to be snowy and icey at this time of year (and Tara can be snowed in when other parts are not) and so if we have to cancel due to weather we will make a decision by 3pm on 20th.  Please check website if there is any likelihood of  adverse weather.



Thanks to Susan  and Anne for these photos of our afternoon on Tara

In the stove the Yule Log burns

Red strings tied around it carry our intentions of what we want to release.

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Faces appear in the smoke as the Solstice symbolic sun burns

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A centre spiral tree is decorated.

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The decorated Yule Log in the centre.

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The Light is reborn at winter solstice.

Macnas Zurich Solstice 060

Hidden gifts in a basket

P1170135 3a


A warming solstice fire in the Pacific North West States - thanks to Molly

solstice fire



Decorated Yule Log by Ba in Cornwall - thanks to Nathascha for the photo

cornwall yule log 2013


20 December 2012 - Welcoming Light

winter solstice symbol

11am – 2pm -  An Tobar, nr. Navan

On these grey cloudy overcast days of winter, in the depths of the darkness, summer seems a lifetime away. The days when the earth warmed and seeds sprung forth with new growth are a distant memory. We have the proof of their survival to flowering and fruiting in our cupboards and store places. And yet, there is apprehension that the cycle may break down. Especially in this year of 2012, when prophesies of change are over-abundant. Maybe this year the sun will rise and never set. Maybe this year the sun will not rise at all. Maybe this time we have to ask our companion, this cosmic traveller, to return. Perhaps we can encourage it. Perhaps by our having an intention of welcoming the universal light it will again grow in brightness each day. We must find our own inner light, our strength and resilience, and then, within the group, we can express that by creating a lighthouse. The lighthouse guides the traveller to a safe harbour. We take community responsibility with our symbolic lighthouse, and then expressing individual recognition of our own spirit and light, each can shine forth. We send out a welcome.





'Anchoring' – We will create two circles to form an infinity sign filled with symbols used for TC meetings in 2012, mapping out our calendar year – we remember the Big Picture of 2012. This is our anchor.


'Creating the Lighthouse' – Each tunes into their own inner light. A large upright spiral shall be set up at the junction of the two circles on which people hang shiny bright baubles and glitter paper spirals to symbolise their own spirit and light, all brought together to form a group lighthouse.


'Welcome' - Each creates a symbolic yellow sun of their own light. Each person energises their own 'sun' with a short meditation. We each become a lighthouse and hold our own light. The 'suns' are then held aloft to send out a seasonal welcome.


Soup and rolls to finish.


If you are unable to join us in person, perhaps you would like to create your own symbolic sun.  We would love to see pictures of your creations and, if you are willing, post them on the website page.


2012 Winter Solstice planning team of Bernie, Bernadette, Eileen, John and Nora. 


A message from the Southern Hemisphere :

On the 21st, the breath of the earth in the Northern Hemisphere has reached the end point of the deepest inhalation - the sun forces have penetrated the depth of the earth. 
Here in the southern hemisphere we experience a great exhalation of the breath of life, the sun forces are at the furtherest point in the cosmos.  Holding the duality of breathing in and out at the same time by the planet community it reconnects the crystalline light of the cosmos and the earth, as above, as below, now flowing through the love filled heart of humanity.  I wish you all blessings that our etheric hearts grow bigger, stronger and purer for continuing our service in the world. Lots of love, Wendy from Australia
Epiphany 6 January 2013 - welcome to the new year, opportunities and energies

lough foyle dredger mouth of river boyne 612013a

Dredger clearing river mouth and approaches to the Boyne at the Bull Beacon and Lyons Light.

mid-day sun epiphany 612013

Noonday sun over the southern beach at the mouth of the Boyne.



20/21 December 2011 - Silently Observant

Grian stadan Geimhreadh sásta díobh! Happy winter solstice.

Winter solstice is the time of year when the sun reaches its most southern rising position and halts in its progress on 5 consecutive days so it appears to stall/die on the horizon. But it then seems to be reborn and starts to head north with each successive sunrise. It is of course our shortest day and longest night. The weather is appreciably colder and most of the plants have died back. This is the Dark Night of the Soul when on the surface all appears dead. However, deep within, life energy is gone deep and the tide of darkness is turning.. It is a productive time for being the silent observer, watching what is going on and where things are headed.

At Newgrange the morning sunrise shines through the spirit window/roof box and enters the inner chamber, originally illuminating the tri spiral in the back alcove. This narrow golden honey coloured beam of light is focused and appears in the chamber in a magical way that a privileged few witness every year. We feel that the light would have shone onto the ashes of the departed and acted like a sort of cosmic portal for the souls of the ancestors.

With this in mind we came up with a ceremony in 3 parts that honours; the dark, the light, observance and spirit. We are tying in the Dark Night of the Soul with the turning point of the year, with spirit release/healing  and observance of all of this with minimal input, simply observing.


 Part 1 [Prelude] - 3pm Dec 20th Solstice eve. 

Our ancestors started the day at sunset, in the darkness of gestation – the night, personified by the babe in the womb and the seed rooting underground.   With that in mind we will gather the materials and energies for the following day.   We will collect water from  the ““Curley Hole” at Townley Hall. This is swirling deep pool of water within the River Boyne. The nearby road is an accident black spot which we think is a black ley sink for the Brú complex. Many people have died here and many have had accidents. The Battle of the Boyne took place near here in 1690 and the suffering and death energy still pervades the area. The water will be brought to the great mound of Dowth where it will be held up to the setting sun and placed in a black bag excluding all light.

curly hole locationcurley hole boynecollecting water boyne

 Above is the locaion of the Curley Hole on the Boyne, a deep dark,swirling pool of water with counter currents 

curly hole boundboyne water at dowth

 Above: The water from the curley hole bound in the bottle and then being sealed in a dark cloth over night at the great mound of Dowth allowing the solstice eve energies to permeate the water.

ghost of curley hole

I went back to grab 1 more picture of the curley hole and the picture above appeared 2 from the end of the session.... of the 70 pictures I took no other pictures taken 4 seconds before or after have anything like it! Could these be the ghosts of curley hole?
Part 2 [Silently Observant] - 8am Dec 21st.

  spiral at solstice   The Ship of Souls Boat glimpse of the sun in 2011
IMG 4562 ship of souls2  solstice sunrise


We will gather at trebirthhe Newgrange interpretative centre and board a shuttle bus to Newgrange to await the sunrise at the standing stone near the road. This stone has a carving of a spiral on it and is  aligned with the rising sun and the passage of Newgrange and Fourknocks some 13Km distant. Standing on this point will allow us to be part of what is happening simultaneously  along the alignment line and in the chamber.

The highlight of the ceremony will be quietly observing the sunrise shine onto the water collected from the ““Curley Hole”” the evening before. We shall look on as the sun energises the “Curly Hole” water and ashes from a previous ceremony in this place of renewal.

The  ashes will be  placed in a spirit boat and set floating on the energised water.  The spirit boat symbolism revolves around the idea that the ancestors used a boat to cross the river to enter the heavenly realm. The boat represents the means that our own ancestors may use to enter the heavenly realm. We will all make paper spirit boats for sailing on the river Boyne in part 3, one of them will even have a 24 carat gold sail!

If time permits we may have a chance to quickly enter into Newgrange with the sunlight still in the passage once the guests leave. As it is expected to be cold we will adjourn for Breakfast  back in the interpretive centre.


Left: Image from Tarot of the Druids

tiger eye sun beams


 Right:Tiger Eye Crystal to represent the Sunbeams on the Cloudy Solstice Morning






ritual stone newgrange tri spiral 2 newgrange recess

Above: The standing stone at which we did our ceremony at Newgrange, The Tri Spiral in Newgrange chamber and the decorated side recess in Newgrange

Part 3 [Ship of Souls] - Dec 21st

the symbol boats launched at Curley Hole a red berry sail
spirit boat 1 float boat curley hole1 
 boats launched at Curley Hole  Roses, berries & Ivy float downstream Fire and water

float boat curley hole

wreath2 fire and water curley hole 1 small
Wreath to represent the circle of life offered into the river Picture 1043 Sky lantern to represent the release of spirit and symbol of hope

To finalise this tridum of events we will return to the ““Curley Hole”” before mid day, placing all the spirit boats on the water along with an evergreen wreath as well as return the transformed dawn energised water into the river for the highest good of all. This symbolises the release  into eternal time and place of all our spirits, allowing them and us to find the way back to God. Returning the water is a symbolic act of returning to source and includes our spirits returning to source as well as offering a healing medicine to the earth at this point, that is, water that was taken from a low energy environment returning energised and healed. 

sky lantern 1 skylantern2 skylantern3 skylantern4skylantern5 skylantern6


!  Beaut Bah Hum Dog wishes everyone a very happy Christmas  !

bah hum bug

Knitted nativity from a Festival of Angels in All Saints Parish Church, Bakewell, Derbyshire, England in 2011 - many thanks to Linda for the photos.

 Christmas 2011 003Christmas 2011 002

  2010 - Snowflakes

newgrange crowd

Dia diobh. Its the time of harsh mid winter and the time when the Winter Solstice rising sun enters the 5000 year old inner sanctuary of Newgrange and for those in the southern hemisphere it is summer solstice.


I think you will agree that the arctic conditions here in Ireland are having a profound impact on our daily lives with lots of activities being killed off.  It is the way it is, cold stark reality and no getting away from it. Winter has us in its icy grip.  Even the Irish economy has gone into its winter period with plummeting employment and dysfunctional frigidity at the core of national sovereignty. On the surface of it all there doesn’t seem to be a reason to celebrate at all, in fact it would be incongruent to affirm we love the cold and chaos. Get real ! But what is the learning in all of this? [At this point you might like to read the story of the Crocodile, the boy and the rabbit as told by Fr. Anthony de Mello by clicking here.]


Well winter is here and it’s brutally cold. Fact. The economy is in tatters and things look like they are getting worse. Fact. For inspiration we look to see how nature adapts to harsh conditions. For instance shy birds that don’t normally come close to the house will have to face their fears to eat from the window sill. Plants drop their leaves and live off reserves they have stored and some animals go into hibernation to conserve energy. Some plants even require a deathly cold snap to stir the seed into life.


So it seems that nature has survival strategies to cope with harsh conditions by choosing a suitable course of action, so who do you choose to be in the face of winter, in the face of economic chaos? I choose to react to winter by acknowledging what is, dressing warm, driving carefully, walking slowly and planning ahead. We can rant and rave about economic chaos or we can recognise ”what is” and could choose to be innovative, creative or resourceful . We can adopt strategies that will allow us to weather the storm.  Like certain plants and animals we can draw on our reserves and on the wisdom of our past.  We may then realise that the problems in the world are not problems, they are challenges that we may choose to deal with.


Below: Some of the crowd gathered on a cold and Snowy morning outside Newgrange for the winter solstice 2010

newgrange entrance stone

Taking all this on board we have decided to be innovative and creative with this years Solstice Ceremony.  As its too cold and dangerous to ask people to drive on icy roads what we are doing is putting the outline of our suggested ritual on the web and asking you do it in your own way. Grian-stad an  geamhraidh  sásta agus Nollaig shona daoibh.  The Tara Celebrations Team

6 dec snow thicker 

Pause and become aware of the world around you with you at the centre

  1. Light a candle in the dark, as a reminder of spirit in your life remembering that the Solstice is a time of the rebirth of the longer days and a promise of more benign conditions.

  2. Light some incense (Frankincense) allowing it to carry your prayer for life into the heavens.

  3. Recite a poem or verse that inspires you about hope, love and light, there are great examples on the Visions and Dreams section of the web site.

  4. Pause, like the sun pauses at the solstice and acknowledge what is.

  5. Meditate on this!

The obstacles and problems in our lives are like the great megaliths. Solid hulking, stone, massive   & unmovable. However, in the moment of sunrise when the sun is aligned with the megaliths the fresh light transforms the stones in an astonishingly beautiful way. We will one day see that it is these stones that add the extraordinary beauty to our lives. Consider Newgrange and how the light goes within transforming nothing physically. Visit the inner sanctum of your inner Newgrange. Be with yourself. Bask in the light. Know that this is a turning point.

  1. Create a paper snowflake (ask an adult to help you) take a picture and e-mail it to us (ask a child to help you).

  2. Write a one word secret wish on your beautiful snowflake, something you would like to see transformed for the new year) and burn it carefully releasing the wish into the world with the symbol of fire that transforms all it touches. Maybe you can play some inspirational music at this point or hum . How about "When you wish upon a star" or "sugar plum fairy"

  3. Offer up a prayer for life, a poem, an inspiration extinguish the candle and clap your hands. 

10.  Sin sin

The Snowflakes feed the soil
The soil feeds the seed
The seed feeds the flower
Who brings the Spring

Krish made a fine snow flake! Well done!


Below: Various pictures of mad martin I guess I sub consciously made a snowflake resembling my center piece, a crystal skull.

burning snowflake2 burning snowflake1
crystal skull solstice solstice ritual
snowflake2  DSC 0169


Thanks to David who sent in this inticate creation and you will find more of his work here www.simply-stained.co.uk


Nora sent in the following thoughts: 

winter solstice candle snowflake

yellow came in a lot

made 12 stars

Meditation of a frozen lake beside newgrange with the sun melting the ice and going into the water, then dispersing into thousands of sparkling lights, mirroring the stars above.

22jan candle green


 Anne and Tom were busy with the following. 

1solstice 1anne 2solstice 2 anne
3solstice3anne 4solstice4anne
5solstice5anne 6solstice6anne
7solstice8anne 8solstice9anne
9solstice10anne 10solstice11anne


Bernadette lit this red candle in a snow covered part of her garden where she communes with Nature on a regular basis

spud candle

Solstice Celebration in Brunssum, the Netherlands  As part of a larger ritual we all wrote the 'negative' subconscious
patterning onto a huge snowflake (which I cut out from an enormous piece  of paper) releasing it from our subconscious mind and in doing so also
releasing it from humanity's subconscious patterning. The snowflake symbolised the 'frozenness' and 'non-movement' of the grip which
fear-based patterning has on us. By burning the snowflake on a bonfire, the transforming fire cleansed these obstacles so we may rise like
phoenixes and melting the frozenness into moving forward with the light
of insight.A Blessed Yule to all. Love, Nathascha

solstice snowflakesolstice snowflake burning

and from Louise in Sandbach, Cheshire, is her snowflake and The Gop, in Flintshire, Wales

AUTUMNWINTER2010 122   autumnwinter09 128

Marta and Dana sent a photo of Newgrange during the winter solstice 2008 and those of you with a keen eye might spot an orb or two or three.



On Christmas eve a few of us braved the elements and met on the Hill of Tara. Annette took some fantastic pictures:

Snow coral as captured by Annettes kean eye

Amazing Christmas Coral

Some of the hardy individuals that braved the elements

The Gang Christmas Eve at the Well 2010

The freezing conditions at the well

The Well Christmas Day 2010

a snow angel  at the well !

The Christmas Angel at the Well 2010

Winter Solstice!

Feel me now as mother of air.

Mine are the limitless skies and endless stars.

I am bird woman.

I lift your imagination and carry it on soft,

feathered currents to otherworlds.

I am bone woman.

I am the stillness between

death and rebirth.

I am the stillness between

breathing in and breathing in.

Rest in that pause,

feel my presence,

I am peace.


Winter Solstice 2009 - Rebirth of Light and Hope

Twice in 2009 we planned to hold the Winter Solstice Ceremony - we postponed the 21 December, thwarted by the snowy, icy and downright treacherous travel conditions, to 28 December.  But it was not to be. The weather stayed and we could not risk suggesting people came out.  We had the outline in our hearts and minds, had trialled the fire with different coloured flames, and were eventually frustrated by Mother Nature. 

burning yule

yule fire2

yule fire 3

yule fire 4

This was the gathering that was held in the etheric planes but not in the physical :

This year for our celebration of the solstice we will be combining tradition, myth and a bit of magic to symbolically represent the rebirth of light in the real world just as much as on the inner planes. We are witnessing a turning point of the sun in its great cycle, in our own countries and in our own lives.

Entrance to Sacred Space

A sacred space is a space which has been prepared to allow participants step out of the mundane world into the extraordinary. It is a space in which meaningful acts can be carried out to express things in a way in which each act is packed full of the power of intent.

We will be entering into a sacred space through an archway of Holly and Oak. These archetypal trees are both in their most extreme states of being. The Oak (summer king of the forest) seems dead while the Holly (Winter king of the forest) is resplendent with life and fruit. However this is the turning point for both where the Holly will relinquish its authority to the Oak and the Oak will start to accrue its powers for summer. An endless swirling dance repeated at summer solstice where the roles are reversed.

We will also be entering into our ritual space via candle light and Frankincense/Myrrh incense. Frankincense a sweet smelling fragrance representing the infant divinity within and the Myrrh, a bitter smelling resin reminds of the fact that life is often painful. And the candle light is a symbol of light, spirit and hope. People can take on this meaning to the level of understanding that suits them at the time.

frost patterns frost patterns3 frost patterns2


Once in sacred space we call in the directions. Our ancestors understood that by creating a microcosm of the macrocosm that they would be more in tune with creation. We do this today by calling in the directions whereby we become centered and mindful of the different energies in the world. For example, the South was associated with warmth as the hot sun is most obvious in the south, it is associated with abundance and peak performance, with passion, brightness and activity. And so calling in the directions is to be mindful of this type of energy in the participant. It is a recognition that the universe is within as much as without and we are part of it as much as it is part of us. It is an expression of the unity of all creation.

Yule log

It is a tradition that the new fire be seeded by a spark from the old so that there is a continuity of tradition. We will be burning last years Yule log and lighting a new one to mark the season. The Yule log is of course a symbol of life and emphasising life’s existence at this time of the year when Nature seems most barren. It is a symbol of hope.

Tara at Night with the Plough constellation over Navan

 Plough over Navan


This year we will be collecting a small hand sized inexpensive gift from each participant. The gift you bring to the group should have a large clear label on it with a single word such as Love, Peace, Joy, Hope, etc etc. {This is not a demonstration of richness, generosity, power or prestige, so please put thought into your offering so that it carries that energy}. Your token gift should be the embodiment of the sentiment on the label.

The idea is that you will bring the gift of “Joy” to the group and say

“I give the gift of “Joy” (or whatever) to the group” and put it in a Santa bag. Then a little later you will reach into the Santa bag and root out a gift saying

“ I accept the gift of “Joy” (or whatever), on behalf of the group”. Whatever you root out is yours to keep on behalf of the group.

christmas tree lights1


We will be performing a blessing on each other in accordance with the season and we will be passing around a bowl of warm water, heated by stones from the fire. You will be asked to give a short, meaningful heart felt blessing to the person next to you -with the water -something along the lines of wishing them a warm winter, peace, comfort joy etc.


This will be followed by a traditional wassail to warm the insides and complement the warm water on the outsides. Participants will be offered a non alcoholic warm wassail drink which will be tipped in libation towards the earth and also drunk to warm the insides.

Open heart contributions

There is always a space for participants to make an open hearted contribution to the circle if desired. It has usually been a song, poem, music, shared insights, thoughts, and from our distance celebrators via e-mail we have read out their thoughts.  


angel and child

21 December 2009 Winter Solstice Sunrise - A chairde, beannachtaí geal sa bhlian nua. 

Bright blessings for the new (pre)Celtic year. At Samhain we entered the dark winter season and now we are mid way through that part of our journey together. At Winter or Samhain Solstice the sun rises roughly in the same position for a week on the horizon looking like it is standing still -Sol-stice.  However, after this pause, this death, the sun starts to move again in a northerly direction along the horizon and every day it reaches a little higher into the sky giving us more light and warmth. It is a cause for celebrating the re-emergence of the light both as a practical reality but also on an inner level where we can realise that all tides turn, all situations change and nothing oppressive lasts for ever, it has its season and moves on.

IMG 4602

Just as at Newgrange where the sun enters the tiny aperture above the doorway at mid winter, we too can experience flashes of inspiration and sense the energies of this season.   Huge blocks of stone which seem randomly placed may be likened to huge issues we have in our own lives, issues that always seem to be rooted and stand in the way.......however, given a certain time of year the huge stones subtly craft the beam of sunlight and refine it, mould it, sculpt it until it becomes a miracle to behold deep within the chamber of the cairn. It is only in the perspective of the morning sun that the genius of the ancestors becomes profoundly meaningful. Our own blocks are like this sculpting us to become more than we ever dreamed possible.  It may be painful but there is always a greater purpose at work, always an opportunity to be exploited and a situation to be resolved.

 Hundreds gather for the winter solstice sunrise at Newgrange in the hope of seeing the sun entering the roofbox

newgrange crowd 09

The alignment of the roof box with the vertical line on K1 and the stone in the field near the ditch and the four knocks passage grave 13 miles away is continued through the back of the mound of Newgrange through K52

k52 newgrange

The sun rose, of course it did, but not to the eyes of the watching humans - its visibility cloaked in a swathe of mist.

Mound of the Hostages viewed from the Rath of the Synods

moh 21122009 1


 from Beaut - the web mutt

Just my dog

When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive.beauty
When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile.
When I am happy, he is joy unbounded.
When I am a fool, he ignores it.
When I succeed, he brags.

Without him, I am only another man. With him,
I am all-powerful.
He is loyalty itself.
He has taught me the meaning of devotion.
With him, I know a secret comfort and a
private peace.


(extract from Gene Hill)

21 December 2008 - Yule celebration

On the shortest, darkest day of the year, many people stood on the hill at sunrise and welcomed the light back into their lives,aware of the return of lengthening days and the promise of spring.  After the sun had set that day, we put out the lantern candles and stood in the darkness of night.  Then the flames were encouraged back into life (a big achievement on a windy hill) and reminded us again of the return of the light. Red holly berries and white mistletoe decorate the Yule Log - Yuletide is a time to give thanks for the year past, release what no longer serves and welcome in new beginnings. Using paper to carry our intentions, we breathed into the symbolic holly concentrating on what we needed to release,  then sent our message out to the Universe by burning the paper in the fire. Cinnamon stars and wassail are welcome after a windy ceremony...

(Note: photographs were not taken on Tara; Anne and Tom replicated the centre of the ceremony for these pictures the following day.

The Hill is an archaeologically sensitive place and fires are never placed directly on the ground.)

yule 5b 08 yule 2a 08

yule 5a 08

yule 1 08


2007 - Ceremony of Light

2007 saw the gathering of about 20 people who took part in our non denominational ceremony of light.


Pilgrims were welcomed into the candle infused holy well with a short poem. Each one entered through smudge and light beyond a magical doorway into the sacred space.


Meditations were alternated with movement to keep the temprature up and even the hokey cokey found its way in there too, to lighten the mood with fun and laughter.


Reflections on "Ether", a group poem for the new year, a narrative of the sun's winter journey through Irish Mythology and a short meditation on birthing our own light found the time ag rith ar nós na gaoithe 'running like the wind' on us.


And as is now tradition there was food! Hot home made soup (from the Stacks) for anyone that wanted and seasonal mince pies from Michael Maguire. A big thank you to all that showed up and took part. We hope you all enjoyed yourselves at this mid Samhain feast.


Candles lit the path at the holy well... there was magic in the air...


well winter solstice 3

and in the holy well


Places linked to Winter Solstice

  Sunrise at Hill of Tara 21 December 2014 - thanks to Bernadette     Drombeg Stone Circle, nr. Glandore, Co. Cork - sunset 15 December 2014 thanks...

Trees around the world

  Halifax, Nova Scotia, blogger remembers past Christmas Trees - click here for 2014 blog   Connecting with decorated trees in 2013 Thanks to...

Page last updated: 7th Jan 2018