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Today (Sat 21) is Winter Soltice at Newgrange

Newgrange in Co. Meath, Ireland is best known for the illumination of its passage and chamber by the Winter Solstice sun. Above the entrance to the passage of the mound there is a opening called a roof-box. On mornings around the winter solstice a beam of light penetrates the roof-box and travels up the 19 metre passage and into the chamber. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens so that the whole chamber is dramatically illuminated.

Access to the chamber on the Solstice mornings is decided by a lottery that takes place at the end of September each year. All are welcome to gather outside the entrance to the Newgrange mound on each of the mornings from December 18th to December 23rd. 30,000 applications for entry to the inner sanctum were submitted for the 2013 Winter Solstice Draw. 50 names are drawn by local school children, 10 names for each morning the chamber is illuminated, 2 places in the chamber are awarded to each of the lottery winners.

Winter Solstice at Newgrange
winter-solsticeDark retreats before
the calculated caress
of sun's brightness.

Winter’s hand pulls back
from a small ancient chamber;
light intensifies.

For a few minutes,
brilliance scatters kisses
before light recedes.

The night must return,
and we can draw light into
dark times if we try.

Mary Mills.


We have noticed, yes, even here in Texas, how short the days are.

Let us all celebrate, and move forward.
it's winter solstice everywhere else in the northern hemisphere too -- happy solstice! :)
Wow! That is really cool! I love local news like that. Thanks for sharing.
In our modern world of central heating, electric light, and constant internet access, we forget how dependent we are upon the Sun. (We still are, indirectly, because all of our electricity except that from nuclear reactors comes from things that were originally the result of sunlight. But we don't usually think about that.) Yule, the Northern Winter Solstice, was vitally important, because it proved that the Sun would strengthen, as it had weakened during the Autumn, instead of just continuing to decline until we all froze and starved to death in the dark. Hence the amazing feats of construction that gave us places like Newgrange and Stonehenge, carefully calculated to direct our attention to the Sun's returning light. Yule was the most important celebration of the cycles of the Earth. And when Christianity came to the Northern lands, the missionaries quickly realized that the birth of the Son and the re-birth of the Sun had much in common, and adapted the Solstice rituals of rejoicing in light and warmth and community to the similar rejoicing at the birth of Jesus.

May the returning Light bring you blessings...

The Talmud (Avoda Zara 8a) has a nice story to explain why so many religions have winter solstice celebrations:
When Adam (the first man) saw the days getting gradually shorter, he said: "Woe is me, because I have sinned and the world around me is darkenening and returning to its state of chaos and confusion. This then is the death to which I have been sentenced from Heaven!" So he began keeping an eight day fast. But as he noticed the winter solstice and the days getting longer, he said: "this is the natural world's course" and he set forth eight days' festivity. He fixed them for the sake of heaven, but the heathens appointed them for the sake of idolatry.
Nice interpretation
"Idolatry" is a rather subjective concept...
One can hardly expect a pluralistic worldview from the authors of a monotheistic text living well over a thousand years ago.
It's summer solstice here, and cloudy and overcast and grey, which is beautiful.

I love that poem very much :-)