Every year I celebrate the great Celtic Festivals and every year something new comes to my attention.
This year, I finally integrated the strange idea that there are in fact two Samhain. The one everybody celebrates on October 31st and then another one. On a date a week roughly after the 31st, the sun aligns in Cairn L of the great Irish monuments of Lochcrew. That is the alignment of Samhain. My friend john Willmott took that photo a few years back and has kindly agreed to let me use it. The date changes every year by a few days. In our world, we like things to be reliable and settled so we ignore that part of the Festival.
I have known this for ages but it has never really hit me the way it has this year so I thought I would share my notions with you.
Once upon a time, around 5000 BC, our ancestors got together and decided to create a cairn, a monument to this alignment. They sweated and bled doing this. They erected a standing stone at the back of the chamber. Calculated how to orientate it so that the sunrise would hit it at this time of year. Erected this. I am sure they had to move it many times so that the alignment worked. All this work. All this precision for...
We do not know. We do not remember. It must have meant a lot to them to go to all that effort and yet it is now all forgotten. Or is it? Is the fact that I am mulling it over bringing something back to life?
I know that the sunrise at the Winter Solstice was hugely important to the ancestors and that alignment was celebrated because it proved to everyone that the Sun was returning and there would be another summer.
So why mark the dark time of the year in this way? What were they celebrating? The return of the darkness?
Let's say for the sake of argument that they were. To be able to celebrate the darkness they needed to see the light. How weird is this...
For our civilization the dark is fearful and dangerous. Friends who come to stay at our house in rural Ireland are usually really unsettled by the dark nights. We do not have street lights up here, and nor do we light the house. We have the light from our windows but that is all and if you need to get up in the middle of the night, you have to use a torch to see your way around.
There we have it, I have my answer. If you choose to welcome the dark, you need a light to see about yourself and orientate yourself. Without that light, we do not experience darkness.
As I have said previously, this is the time of the Cailleach, the aspect of the great Celtic Goddess who comes and visits us in winter. We can choose to be frightened of her and call her a harbinger of death, vengeful and miserable or
we can welcome her as the Grandmother of us all!
The Wise One is here to guide our steps through the dark, and feed us nourishing broth, she knows the right herbal teas to heal our throats and the right energies to soothe our hurts.
What if The Cailleach was our light in this darkness?
I like this idea a lot! What if that light on the standing stone of Cairn L at Lochcrew was the gentle light of The Cailleach, guiding us home?
What do you think?
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