Pale Rays of Sun at the Winter Solstice

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Entrance to Bru na Boinne. Photo by Sue, 2009.

Today I awoke to a gray morning, but within an hour the pale December sun, low in the sky, asserted itself and softened the day.  This morning in Co. Meath, Ireland, people gathered in the dark passage at Newgrange to welcome the beam of sun down the shaft of the tomb.  The sun came out in time to illuminate the interior of the passage–for the first time since 2007.

The inside of the tomb is elegantly carved and constructed.  Recently I happened upon a high quality virtual tour of the interior. at Voices from the Dawn.  While I’ve visited the actual site twice, I’d recommend the virtual tour for a closer, leisurely gaze at the features of the interior.  Here it is.  Notice that there is a clickable link to either a regular or tablet version.  You might also enjoy a post from this blog entitled Winter Solstice in the House of the Dagda.

And now for a glorious concert by Ann and Charlie Heymann, performed at the Moore Institute at NIU Galway earlier this year, where Ann enjoyed a fellowship.  The title is:  Guth Binn agus Téada Oir: Bardic Voices, Horns & Medieval Harps.  Ann and Charlie perform a number of bardic pieces, some quite experimental.  The Donegal singer, Lillis O Laoire, performs with them.  This is a highly unique and rare opportunity to see Ann perform in concert, and it is well worth watching.

With warmest solstice good wishes,

–Sue

Beltane 2012

Sue and her new Trinity.

The hawthorn tree behind the house is in full bloom, and the young Winter King hawthorn, planted in our garden three springs ago with buried offerings, is close to blooming.  This evening I stepped out and tied ribbons on its branches in honor of Beltane.

After a long, difficult break, I am harping again.  It has been a dark winter of illness:  one I am grateful to put behind me.

Not long ago I ordered Simon Chadwick’s new CD, Old Gaelic Laments.  He has assembled a selection of deeply moving and beautiful songs.  Just now I am listening to The Clarge’s Lamentation.  Watch for a review of the CD as soon as I have had a chance to listen carefully a few more times to each of the tracks.  To pique your interest, here is a video clip of Simon performing King James’s March to Ireland/Lochaber/The Wild Geese about a year ago.

Beltane Blessings of good health, fine music, and the gifts of the otherworld to each of you.

In gratitude for returning health,

–Sue

Samhain in Portland

The new Trinity on the porch, Samhain 2011.

Samhain is, for me, the most significant season of the year. It is a time when I build an ancestor altar with photographs of my beloved dead, from a well-loved grandfather who died before I was born, to a dear old cat whose long life came to a close this past winter. The faces are all there, familiar and honored.

Tonight Amy and I are attending the Dark Harvest Ballads, an event sponsored by a local group of musicians, Mistral, who specialize in Breton music. Tonight’s performance will be, according to the organizers, “an evening of spooky, cathartic songs drawn from the English tradition, exploring themes of death, struggle, and untimely departures…” We attended a previous incarnation of the event, and had a dark, splendid time. I enjoy John Fleagle and Robin Williamson’s old ballads laced with foreboding, so this is my cup of tea. It is also, to Mistral’s credit, a benefit concert for the Oregon Food Bank. Samhain blessings to Mistral for their generosity.

The elegant new Trinity (shown above on my porch) is nearly complete, lacking only a string for the loop (the bottom drone string), and an end cap. A wonderful master metalsmith is making a custom cap for it, and I’ll be sure to show photos when it arrives.

With Samhain good wishes,

-Sue

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