December 22, 2014

Winter Solstice Festival

Foundation Centre
Winter Solstice Festival
20th December 2014
We were blessed with a crisp dry day as we met for our last ceremony of the year. As ever in addition to our regular membership we welcomed one or two members and their guests who had travelled to be with us for the first time, and there was an air of spiritual warmth amongst us as we set off singing to the Druid’s Grove. Here members of the priesthood invoked Deity in both Irish and English as we stood within its sacred circle, drawn to look up in amazement at the sheer height and majesty of these mighty trees - towering above us and reminding us again that Nature is our Mother, who meets our every need.

On this occasion it wasn’t possible to visit the ancient Abbey in the grounds, so we paused at Persephone’s Shrine, to invoke her permission to enter the Temple with pure hearts, before filing quietly into the beautiful atmosphere which awaited us within. As we gathered for invocations and individual blessings beside Brigid’s Well of Truth, the powerful energy of the sacred water rose up to inspire and welcome everyone to the hearth of the Goddess where all hearts are known.

During the blessings a beautiful Solstice version of Silent Night was sung and all was wrapped in magical peace as we proceeded to our seats around the High Altar, where a silver-veiled figure awaited our arrival to give us an Oracle from the Cailleach, the ancient Irish Goddess of Winter. Quiet yet clear as a distant bell on a frosty morning, she spoke from the perennial wisdom of the ages.

2014 has been a hard time for many of our members, a time of death and yet renewal, of coping with personal loss, yet continuing to seek to draw upon deep wells of connection to the divine for comfort and understanding. So we were invited to enter a space of rest and reflection for a while to the beautiful strains of the harp played live beside the Altar.

This was followed by a sharing of the deep inner release which may be evoked by connecting with the Dark Goddess such as the Welsh Goddess Ceridwen and Nepthys the sister of Isis. To provide balance we were reminded of working with the Divine Masculine in the form of Aengus Og, the Celtic God of Love. All revelation comes through devotion and entails inner work on ourselves, and each of us comes to it and expresses the fruits of it in different and uniquely valuable ways – so many thanks to the members of the priesthood who took part in this, and to everyone who joined in with the spirited chant which was offered to lift up our hearts in preparation for the truly inspiring Seasonal Story-telling treat which came next!

Spell-bound we listened to the telling of the wonders surrounding the conception and birth of a son - ‘achieved within the span of one full day only while the Sun stood still’ - of Aengus Og himself, the magical love child of the Ancient Irish God the Dagda Mor and the Goddess Boann. Told in tones of wonder, using her ‘bohran’ (the traditional Irish hand drum) to perfection, our powerful story-teller held us in the palm of her hand.

The main proceedings were completed with a quiet inner journey, offered by yet another member of the priesthood, and the golden and silvered energies of her gentle steadying voice brought inner peace and returned us safely back to ourselves in the Temple.

Minette Quick
(photo of belvedere on Castle grounds, copyright reserved)