Standing Still at Solstice
"Can we go first?", he asked
"Yes of course", I replied.
It was their first time visiting Newgrange, Bru Na Boinne in Irish meaning the bend in the river Boyne. Which is where the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Ireland's Ancient East sits.
The place where the rising winter sun shines it's light along the passage and into the inside chamber of this great monument.
On only a few days in Winter. If the sun shines! Older than Stonehenge. Older than the Pyramids of Giza. Some claim it might be the oldest monument in the world, although a quick google doesn't support that!
Still very mysterious.
We follow our guide. I want to be first too. First into the 5,000 year old chamber. First ahead of the other tourists. All of us eager to experience the inner worlds of these ancient people.
Ancient and wise.
Ingenious and strong.
We skip ahead. I'm with my children visiting this site for my youngest son's birthday present.
My present too though.
I've wanted to visit for a while.
I have been here before as a child.
I want to be reminded.
I want to share this.
With my children.
With my family.
Following the guide we weave our way around the giant stone on it's side. The entrance. Adorned with the iconic Celtic spirals. The tri-spirals. Chiselled meticulously into the rock. Timeless. Telling a tale. A story.
Of an ancient civilisation. Like an open book of contents; a summary for what we are about to experience. But written in an ancient tongue. An ancient transcript.
A mystery to it's meaning. People and experts can only guess. Does it represent nature. It's cycles. The cycles of life. Or perhaps the path of the earth around the sun, rising and setting.
How did they place it there all that time ago? On it's side. Resting. A grand entrance indeed. A mysterious entrance. I pat the stone. Well done. Great job! Thank you for guarding this doorway. This entrance.
We step inside. Small steps. It's very narrow. My children standing. I bend slightly. Rocks all around. Big. Smooth. Cool. Earthy floor. Earthy smell.
Although it's mild outside, it's cold in the passage. Surprisingly cold. A cool stillness that feels like it's been here for a long time. It has!
It's dry. Very dry. A damp dry. An earthy damp dryness.
As I lower my head away from the big overhead stones, the passage ceiling, my son ahead, my daughters behind me, we are all silent. Captured. Enraptured by this place. I catch their smiles. Their wonder. I am in wonder. I am smiling too.
A few small steps more and we slowly emerge into more spaciousness. A room. An opening. Round. High. Grand.
I raise my head.
Surrounded by my children.
Of this grand monument.
I take a breath.
An in breath.
This ancient air.
Feeling the absolute awe of this place.
Feeling the presence of the people.
Who built this.
For whom this was built.
I touch the stone to my left. It's cold. Very cold.
Holding the secrets of time. Holding the many pieces of the puzzle close. For us, with all our intelligence, to muse at. To figure out. Slowly. Patiently. All in our own time. When we are ready for the next piece to be revealed.
While it has stood for over 5,000 years, the roof box where the winter solstice sun shines through was uncovered only 50 years ago. Revealing so much more. What else is there I wonder?
Like a huge giant massive pause.
For a moment time stands still.
Still to the passage of time.
The passage that we have just walked.
The passage that many have walked over the 5,000 years.
Built to last.
To weather all storms.
To reveal it's clues.
Little alcoves off the central chamber. Where those who had died were brought, it is thought. Their cremated ashes laid out on the smooth stone.
Laid out for the light to penetrate the darkness.
To beam through.
Slicing through the chamber. Illuminating the room. For only a short time over a few days in Winter.
Beaming in like a funnel.
A funnel of hope.
Powerfully aligned with the darkness.
In contrast. Working together.
The Yin and the Yang.
The light and the darkness.
Beginnings and endings.
Turning towards the lightening days.
The turning point in the year.
Reaching to the top alcove of the chamber and spreading out.
Bathing all in its path.
A light, yellowy bath.
Because it has done this before.
This time every year.
Only for a few days.
A few special days.
When the sun shines.
To carry the spirit of the deceased.
Into the question
Into the secret.
Into the mystery.
Today is the Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year when the sun stands still. Pausing. It's a message, in amongst all the holiday wind up, to chillax a bit. Because I need the reminder. And I figure you do too if you're reading this.
To slow down and pause.
Between in breath and out breath.
It's a sacred breath.
Within the labyrinth of our lives.
"There's a space in between Where they'll meet." - Threads by MaMuse