The air is still. The storm has passed. Stillness and silence pervades the cottage. Jack is in his bed, and the boys continue to doss away the morning in the Lodge. A midwinter scene repeated all across the northern hemisphere. Someone remarked on the increasing silence they noticed in the world around them. Midwinter is a silent time, suffused with echoes and occasional sounds from strange places. Places that are more difficult to pinpoint on the landscape…it’s a trick played on us by Mother Nature as she paces the dormitories of sleep and hibernation. Candles illuminate the darkness, dispelling matt grey for moving shadows. Jingles of Christmas on the radio, some lovely, most rapaciously dreadful, urging the listener to get out now and spend, spend, spend! And so the radio is switched off and music switched on, low and evocative. Midwinter enchants us all with memories of stillness and light, fires and food…times past, selected for our personal album of memories. I found this photograph recently. It was taken around Midwinter, in a photo-booth in London, when I first ventured away from home and Ireland. Scents were what I most missed. The scents of home, like turf and coal smoke, wisping out of chimney pots on rows of terraced houses. London was filled with new, more exotic scents, especially places like Portobello Road Market on a Saturday morning, where Patchouli oil perfume lingered in the air. Working patchwork, brings me back to early days, in London and the sheer wealth of fabric shops and stalls, Laura Ashley and the love of William Morris retro!Colours, fabrics and textures continue to fascinate.Natural fabrics hold most memory…perhaps because they are from the natural world, where energy is hosted.Sackcloth and old lace cover a jam jar, filled with Honesty.Cotton gingham of various colours in the kitchen.Willow, wood and clay pottery, mugs and bowls.The morning, washed by soft midwinter light…not to be bought and packaged for Christmas, but absorbed by the celebratory soul.Blessings from this midwinter cottage…
Mornings arrive later as the sun struggles to climb above the eastern horizon…we slowly descend into winter.
Blackbirds swoop low across bushes in the garden, as they protect their territory from other hungry birds.
The hours between dawn and dusk grow thin and precious light appreciated.
Our ancestors appreciated the light of the day and made great effort to welcome it.
Newgrange was erected as a passage-grave and aligned to receive the first rays of the midwinter sun.
Our ancestors knew the importance of the midwinter solstice and the importance of light to all life on Earth.
Newgrange is the place to be on this auspicious morning of the winter, the solstice…
Midwinter can be a magical time here in Ireland, as this photograph shot from my kitchen window last year shows.
The light is different from all other and must have held a sacredness for our ancestors as the darkness engulfed them through November and December…
Newgrange was built around 3,200 BC and belongs to a time before metal was used.
Despite this, the construction was specifically aligned using knowledge that included details of the tilt within the axis of the earth and the exact information to design and build a window above the door lintel to receive the light from the rising sun on the solstice day.
So, as the light becomes increasingly important to us during this slow descent into Midwinter, can I make these small suggestions?
Find time to be quiet.
Explore in your environment a peaceful, comfortable place.
In this sacred space keep comfort with you.
Place a little bell here.
When you take time out to be quiet, light a candle, ring a soft sounding bell and meditate on the season of welcome light.