Next Winter Solstice get together - December 2018

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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Tara 25 Dec 2017


Yes, that is a crow on Patrick's head


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A man who loved Yule - Tom Newman passed on 19 December 2017

May He Rest In Peace. 

21 dec 2017

There will be a service at Dardistown Crematorium Chapel Friday 22 December 2017 arriving for 2 o'clock.

No flowers please. Donations, if desired, to St. Francis Hospice, Raheny.

By request please wear bright clothes....

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For more information click here

18 December 2016 - Fourknocks - You Light up my Life

Thanks to Susan, John, 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.

dark to light meddy

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.






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.


- Winter Solstice archive

Winter Solstice 2017 - Phoenix from the Cauldron - invoking the Energy of Rebirth - Tara 2016 - You Light up my Life - Fourknocks 2015 - Without...

Page last updated: 10th Apr 2018