Saturday, June 21, 2008

Turning The Tide through Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice is a big day in Ireland, or should I say June 21st as most of the celebrations tend to fix to that date no matter what the real solstice date is. This year June 21st lands on a Saturday, a time of several major and intense sports matches so dates of celebration during this time have scattered.


The real Summer Solstice, or Midsummer, or Litha (a Saxon name now adopted by modern neo-pagans) date was June 20th this year. It was a beautiful evening and I was kicking myself as I have a backlog of admin to do for upcoming tours, and missed it. Augha Killy Maude mummers of Upper Lough Erne, Fermanagh held their celebrations last night too along with their colourful folk drama guests from Bulgaria.


I was kicking myself even harder the night before on June 19th, because at the point of sunset the full moon rose. What a sight that may have been at Carrowkeel !!!  It was a clear night too.  I think that only happens once ever 19 years by Midsummer, and that happening on a clear night must be once in ………  ??????? 


I thought of compensating myself by catching the full moon setting as that is supposed to light up a cairn on Carrowkeel too, again a phenomena that happens once every 19 years, if the sky is clear. Unfortunately the sky was not clear. It clouded over by moon set.


Summer Solstice does stir a lot of interest, awe and excitement with many but somehow it brings to me a little solemnness. This is a habit I must learn to overcome.


For me the best time of the year is from Beltaine, about May 5th, until Midsummer of about June 21st. For me that is truly the fertility time of Summer. In Ireland this seems to be very true. During most years this is when we have our best weather, for one. It is when nature truly accelerates, when flowers become abundant, trees fully bloom and the landscape is whitewashed with the blossoms of hawthorn, elder, apple and rowan trees. I find myself becoming more and more excited by the lengthening of days.


What I also find wonderful is that this is the time that is booked out first by tour groups so I am out and about through most of this season.


Then June 21st comes, and I do not know why, but for the last 5 or so years it has turned into a cold, windy and wet day. It is today. Add to this the realization that the days are now going to get shorter again, hence my touch of solemnness.


However, this is a time to celebrate, though, even though its not really a celebration day. Midsummer is, by ancient tradition, an observance day. It is a day for keeping a record of being the time of longest daylight. Its a time when farmers of old, and even today, can assess what the yield of the upcoming harvest is going to be, and how well this will take us through the winter.


Today, I find myself doing something similar, though I am currently not working any land. Therefore I am taking stock of how the seeds of ideas planted in spring took “root” from the fertile celebration of Beltaine up to this point. By doing this any solemnness in my spirit soon turns to some joy. It was a darn good time passed !!!


From the emails I am receiving now I am hearing of people who travelled with us during this time are now making great strides with their work, passions and interests. Some are arranging and planning wonderful get-togethers around the time of the next true celebration time, Lunasa, around August 5th, our first harvest time.


A couple of days ago, my partner, Claire Roche, approached King House in Boyle to use their piano for a recording for her upcoming CD. The conversation became quite lively there and she left not only with the opportunity of a live recording on their wonderful Steinway piano set in a beautiful Georgian room but with an actual concert and live recording on August 5th, Lunasa time.


It has been a dream of Claire’s for some years to do a concert at King House, Boyle but this goes further than this.  This will be the first time that Claire has performed a concert that features her on piano.  This is a must attend concert!  I’ll speak more of this on a later blog, but it is worth getting a sample of what she will be doing. 


Got to Claire’s MySpace page  at http://www.myspace.com/claireroche


…. and click on the track “Hold On”, which is also downloadable.


This is a demo recording, plus highly compressed for MySpace streaming but it provides an idea of the concert to come, Claire as most of you have not heard her, bluesey, spectacular and awesome unbelievable vocals.  There will be songs and harp too. How could there not be.


Also, our Cottage and Two Worlds Theatre coming along fast now, Thatched roof complete, flagstone floors all down, wooden ceilings all up, lime and hemp walls of the kitchen diner all built, wiring all done, plumbing almost there, rockwool outer wall of the theater coming along nicely, lime and hemp interior plastering well under way and the most beautiful stone step entry into the theater, almost like a small Aztec pyramid hugged by a circular wall. That is a mason’s masterpiece. Next year that will be covered in creeping rock plants.


It looks like the move in time will also be around Lunasa, so there will be so, so much for us to celebrate in our own lives and we look forward to sharing this with others.


When we lived by the shore in Scotland we used to become excited by the upcoming spring tides, those low tides that revealed more rockpools and more abundance of food captured in those pools such as oysters, prawns, and sometimes good whiting, crabs and monkfish. It sort of reminds me of now


The tide has turned as the length of nights become longer. I know I have to turn from focusing on the great times since Beltaine to now to embracing how those times have set the abundance of what is to be harvest by August, by Lunasa.  With a lot of folks that travelled with us this is the cataloguing and sharing of pictures and videos they created on their journeys here and then using the inspiration from these to create friendships, share ideas and do some incredible things that they may not have had the confidence to do before. 


For some, its now a time to catch the wave, get on the board and ride in while we can.


Looking forward to seeing some of you again at first harvest time, Lunasa, early August.

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