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Celebrations

Note: Refer to arrangements announced for each Celebration.

The Irish divided their year into quarters. The four quarters were called Earrach - arragh - Spring, Samhradh - sowra - Summer, Foghmhar - fowar - Autumn, Geimhridh - gevrě - Winter and they began on the first days of February, May, August and November respectively.

We have historical testimony that festivals with games were celebrated at the beginning of Summer Autumn and Winter but we have no account of any such celebrations at the beginning of Spring. These divisions of the year and the festivities by which they were ushered in originated with the Pagan Irish and were continued into Christian times. Social History of Ancient Ireland - P.W.Joyce

Tara Celebrations get-togethers are founded and anchored on 8 solar festivals. These mark an annual cycle through the year in the western European traditions - often, nowadays, talked of as the Celtic Year.

The Lunar calendar is useful for planning one off events, but not for planning repetitive events. A calendar tied into the moon's phases does not coincide with the seasonal cycle of the natural world. You need something that synchronises with the vegetative cycle, and that is the solar cycle, because it is the sun's cycles that govern seasonal vegetative growth, death and change. The moon will give guidance when to plant, when to harvest etc. but the times are movable, not fixed to the same annual date.

We are not repeating the gatherings of the past, but our ancestors sought to bring access to and awareness of contemporary seasonal energies and that is modus operandi now. Use of these historic processes is valuable but not necessarily to be followed to the letter.

This is a holistic world view observing and honouring our lives on earth and all beings place in the wider universe. It realises that we are a vast network of inter-connected, interdependent, beings with conscious shared experiences.

Thomas Berry: “the Universe is a communion of subjects not a collection of objects”

Breathe a Day

The rhythm of rise and fall in the height of the overhead sun each day can be likened to the rise and fall of the breath. You will have a feel for working with the sun now, so you might like to try this one.

Be aware of your position on the earth and face northwards. Looking to your right, the east, breathe in, gently turning your head look up to the sky, straight above you at the deepest part of the breath, equating to noon. Then release the breath as your turn your head to the left, the west. Pause in your breath as you look down to the floor and rotate your head back to facing the right again, ready to repeat the cycle, or in solar terms, start a new day.

Sometimes, in Irish, the word for the festival day also refers to the whole month.
Eanáir - JanuaryFeabhra - FebruaryMárta - MarchAibreán - April

Bealtaine - May

Meitheamh - June

Iúil - July

Lúnasa - August

Meán Fómhair - September

Deireadh Fómhair - October

Samhain - November

Nollaig - December

The Seasons 24-11-'38 - From the School's Collection - Duchas.ie

Spring is the season of growth, all growing things awake. The hedges are covered over with tiny buds; the sap goes up to the top of the trees. Flocks of birds come flying across the seas. The frost melts away on account of the sunny days of spring. The plough tears through the brown earth, and the farmer sows his seeds.

In Summer we have long sunny days and short warm nights. The wheat and corn grow up tall. The potatoes are covered with blossoms. The cornfields are dotted with wild poppies, and all flowers are in bloom. There are wild raspberries in every ditch and yellow gooseberries.

In Autumn the golden corn is reaped. The leaves fall off the trees and cover the roads and fields with a yellow and golden colour. The farmer is heard reaping in the field, and the geese go rambling through the stubbles. The apples have a yellow and rosey colour.

In the season of Winter we have hard frost, snow and ice. The big turf fires would roast you. All people sit within beside the fire telling stores and playing games. The moon winks on the frost and ice. The nights are very long and days are very short.

Click here to read about Tara Celebrations and why we do what we do.

You want to join in a Celebration? Tourists and Visitors Information

You cannot attend in person? Read information on how you can join in Spiritual Wheel

Seasons --- All times are for Dublin, Ireland.

Geamhradh - Winter, Earrach - Spring, Samhradh - Summer, Foghar - Autumn.

2023

Imbolc - 1 February
Spring Equinox - 20 March - 21.24
Bealtaine - 1 May
Summer Solstice - 21 June - 15.57 - IST
Lughnasadh - 1 August
Autumn Equinox - 23 September - 07.49 IST
Samhain - 1 November
Winter Solstice - 22 December - 03.27

2024

Imbolc - 1 February
Spring Equinox - 20 March - 03.06
Bealtaine - 1 May
Summer Solstice - 20 June - 21.50 - IST
Lughnasadh - 1 August
Autumn Equinox - 22 September - 13.43 IST
Samhain - 1 November
Winter Solstice - 21 December - 09.20

Many take the cross-quarter days as the 1st of the month, set every year, or a similar set date depending on the tradition.

However, others also take the day as the mid-point between the adjacent solstice / equinox, eg. Winter Solstice to Spring Equinox with Imbolc inbetween.

Around the world others, either in community or individually, also celebrate the eight-fold year.

We draw on and gain inspiration from them and all cultures celebrating our lives on earth.

Your spirit is welcome to join with us. If you cannot attend in person you are invited to light a candle and link in spiritually.
A lamp burns bright

Seasonal names - Etymology of Irish words is complicated. Words may be Old or Modern Irish, the latter being standardised as the Caighdeán Oifigiúil in the 1950s and 60s. Often there is no simple translation between the Irish and English words as Irish is a much more descriptive language than English.

Lughnasadh – there seems to be no direct translation to English but the season and particularly 1 August is associated with the god Lugh.

Samhain – usually translated from the Irish as Summer's End. The Leabhar Breac - Speckled Book - and Leabhar Buidhe Lecain - Yellow Book of Lecan, both written in medieval times, comprise two of the manuscripts of the Sanas Cormaic, known as Cormac's Glossary. In this Samhain is also called Féile Moingfhinne, that is Festival of Mongfhionn, a goddess of Samhain.

Imbolc – comes from the Old Irish for 'in the belly'.

Bealtaine – often taken as meaning 'bright fire'.

Looking at the eastern horizon we notice that each day the sun rises in a different place,

slowly moving up and down from the extremes of the solstices...

.... and at mid-day the sun is low in the sky at winter solstice moving to be high and above us in the summer.

Southern Hemisphere

We are fortunate in this part of the world to experience a seasonal cycle of extended daylight and extended darkness. There are no seasons at the Equator as the sunlight arrives onto the earth at about the same angle every day. At the North and South Pole extremes rule the day - in the Northern summer there is all day sunlight and all is darkness in the winter. These differences are caused by the tilt of the earth.

And, of course, we are based in the Northern Hemisphere of earth. When the sun is low in the sky and rising in the south east, our winter time, those in the southern lands are basking in the hot days of the summer.

South-Western Australia is the home of the Noongar people who have lived there for over 45,000 years. They experience six seasons, aligned to changes in the weather and knowledge and understanding of the environment.

Through this ancient wisdom, the Noongar people (sometimes spelled Nyoongar or Nyungar) live across the south-west of Western Australia, moving with the availability of various food sources, weather patterns and cultural habits.

The six Noongar Aboriginal Seasons are:

For example: Djeran – April/May brings cooler days, a time for building or repairing mia-mias (tents) in preparation for colder weather. Kangaroos were hunted for food and skins. The skins were turned into valuable coats and rugs. With the Emu In The Sky constellation clearly seen within the band of the Milky Way, this signifies the time to search for emu eggs as a prime source of food. Many red flowering gums are in bloom and seeds picked from the Zamia Palm last season and treated, are eaten, along with root bulbs from Bullrushes, frogs, turtles and fish. Thanks to astrotourismwa.com.au for this information


Thus the 8 celebrations focus on the effect of the sun's movement as changes in the landscape. We notice how the bare trees of winter sprout their vibrant spring foliage, become lush and green in summer, hiding bird's nests and providing shelter for hot sheep. Then, as the sun moves south, the land cools, shadows lengthen and fruits form from summer's abundant flowers. We gather a harvest, ready for the return to the bareness and bleak cold of winter.

Living in tune with our local natural world often leads to a better understanding of what is occuring in our own physical, emotional, mental and spiritual life. As we move through the seasons, experiencing their rhythms and qualities, we come to understand the challenges and joys of our own lives.

The energies of the dawn, east, spring and our infant projects.

The energies of noon, south, summer and our growing projects.

The energies of the sunset, west, autumn and our mature projects.

The energies of the night, north, winter and our completed projects, our births and rebirths on the spiralling cycle of our lives.

A note on actual timings of celebrations:

Together we set out on our journey through the seasons of the year, starting at the first of four transformational Fire Festivals, Samhain.

And immediately we are faced with a conundrum. When pre-planning for a celebration one of the choices is whether to hold it on the 'old' or 'new' date. The background to this is Pope Gregory XIII 's decision,in 1582, to introduce a new calendar.

The outcome being that since1752 most of Europe and subsequently the world, has measured the days by this Gregorian system. Hence, two calendar days might be attached to festivals, the 'old' Julian date and the 'new' Gregorian. For instance:

Samhain Eve is generally accepted as 31 October, yet many recognise 11 November, St. Martin's Day, as the correct date.

Gregory really liked to stir things up and another major change was that the start of the year moved to 1January from 'old' Julian25 March. Another was that, in 1752, 10 days were taken out of that year.

Time and again, we celebrate these changes in our environment.

We notice that our lives often reflect change happening in a cycle.

As I mature I think, I have been in this situation before.

I look back and see the pattern of my life. Humans love finding patterns.

Many thanks to Anne for sharing these cards she drew on 27th October 2019 - the day of the New Moon in Scorpio. They are from the Earth Magic deck by Stephen D. Farmer.

Perfect cards as we change from Summer time to Winter time and a reminder of the ebb and flow between two solstices. Perfect depiction of the concept of the waxing and waning of the apparent changing strength of the sun in it's annual cycle.

Next Celebration

The high-light of the year, the longest days. If there is a get-together face to face information will be posted early June.

Samhain

Samhain is the dark start of the new yearly cycle. Celebrations at this time in the annual cycle initiate the season of Samhain (Winter time) which is ruled by the Cailleach form of the Feminine energy.

Winter Solstice

The year seems at its most oppressive. But into this darkness the light is re-born.

Imbolc

At Imbolc we loose the shackles of dark Samhain. It's the time when the seed splits it's shell and starts on it's new journey.

Spring Equinox

Brighter days are on their way. We are coming out of the days of darkness and into increasing day light. Maybe a few fireworks to celebrate?

Bealtaine

Flowers, leaves and buds erupt and proclaim the vibrancy of life. The underlying energies sponsor expasion, growth, fun, play, joy, bounty and invigoration.

Summer Solstice

The light of the sun on the wheel of the year stands in the mid-point, before moving into the Darkening.

Lughnasadh

Festival of the first harvest - grain. Gardens are in full blossom and heavy with nature's bounty. Preparations begin for the long cold months to come and there is already a nip in the air.

Autumn Equinox

The harvest continues with the sharing of the abundance of our year's efforts in seeding, nurturing and feeding our crops.

Celestial Celebrations

Samhain - Pleiades, Winter Solstice - the Nativity, Imbolc - Sirius, Spring Equinox - Ursa Major, Lughnasadh - Milky Way, Autumn Equinox - Sun and Moon : work in progress for 2024

Moon Celebrations

Join Bernadette Mac and her celebration, as she shares the changing energies of the Moon.