Tir na Sorcha, The Land of Light

“In the bleak mid-winter,
Frosty winds made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone 
Snow had fallen, 
snow on snow,
snow on snow, 
In the bleak mid-winter,
Long ago.”
-Christina Rossetti


When the earth’s tilt of its axis points away from the sun, at its maximum distance the sun will appear to rise and set at the same position for several days, it’s the closest distance to the horizon as it will ever be. This is the ‘solstice’ meaning ‘sun stand still’. In the northern hemisphere, it is the longest night and shortest day of the year signaling the beginning of an increase of daylight as the days start getting longer. Known as the Winter Solstice, it has the most rituals associated with it in the world dating back some 30,000 years, mostly rooted in ancient religions.

Stone structures like Stonehenge in England and Newgrange in Ireland were built and set to capture the first rays of the newborn sun on this sacred day, usually falling on December 21st. This is the age-old ritual of light over darkness, good over evil.

“The winter solstice is a celebration of our spirit being reborn and transformed from inner darkness into light. Spiritually, it is symbolic of allowing the darker shadow side of our personality to come out, to be acknowledged and to be transformed as it heals.” – Patty Kikos

Believed to be an entrance to the Otherworld, Tir na Sorcha, the land of light, Newgrange was a fairy-mound where the Tuatha De Danann lived. It’s also known as the “cave of the sun”, uaimh na greine in Gaelic. It is also the largest earthen chamber in Europe and oldest at over 5000 years.

On the morning of the 21st, the first rays of the sun penetrate an underground 60 ft long narrow shaft for 17 minutes, illuminating the triple-spiral triskele, which is a carving at the furthest wall of the chamber said to contain the Philosophers’ Stone.

Light of the Worldphoto-1444703686981-a3abbc4d4fe3
The light in the chamber at the time the sun’s rays hit the shaft can be a ritual of fertility or for a bountiful harvest now that the days are getting longer, the light overcoming the darkness.

Looking deeper in the Book of Genesis we see the ”word” known as the ”logos” known as the “light.” And God created the sun and moon and stars on Day Four but on Day One He said “let there be light” and this light is the mystical light of pure consciousness prevalent everywhere. This is our Buddha nature, Christ consciousness, the light of the radiance of the Virgin Mary, the light called a Star of Bethlehem.

Since light doesn’t show itself, only what it illuminates… consciousness is the same way, it only shows what it affects, it experiences, it creates… not itself.  It is light and consciousness that have created all we see and don’t see and to which we give thanks in our ceremonies and rituals of light.

“In winter we lead a more inward life. Our hearts are warm and cheery, like cottages under drifts, whose windows and doors are half concealed, but from whose chimneys the smoke cheerfully ascends.”

“And still a light is shining from that land on down the hall. Maybe the Star of Bethlehem wasn’t a star at all.”
-Neil Young


21 thoughts on “Tir na Sorcha, The Land of Light

  1. Thank you for this post full of stillness and illumination. I love the way you combined the historical knowledge with our emotional experience of this period.
    It must have been very frightening for our long ago ancestors when the light gradually disappeared, nothing grew……a feeling of being abandoned by the sun.
    “Day One He said “let there be light” and this light is the mystical light of pure consciousness prevalent everywhere”. I had never thought of this before. It will live with me now as we celebrate the season of lights in so many ways.
    the music is wonderful as is the video to go with it.
    Have a wonderful Christmas

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks, Mirja, yes, I like to read history but if I can make it exciting and not just full of dates.

      That’s what I love about mythology, all those stories taught people lessons about life. Can you imagine sitting around the sacred fire and listening to your elders tell you myths about the place you lived?

      And the idea of pure consciousness really spoke to me when I first heard it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely fascinating post, JC – my mind boggles when reading about Newgrange. Just so taken with its mystical nature. I love all the quotes but particularly with Thoreau’s words. Interesting how your post develops into the inner world of ourselves, our light.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Annika… yes there is a lot more about Newgrange and Stonehedge. The towns would build bonfires hoping the sun would return and there were sacrifices. Legend has it that King Authur himself will return when England really needs him and it might be from Newgrange. With all those Druids and Merlin hanging around, you never know.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, I appreciate your compliment and for visiting my site. It’s always nice to hear kind words about my writing. I hope you have a good New Year.


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