Newgrange, Stones and Me

12/21/2015

CBF Bere IslandBlessings on the Winter Solstice.

If one is interested in the ancient divine feminine, then one is interested in stone.

Stone was the material of our earliest ancestors–when they felt the sacred pulse of creation and wanted to express praise or awe, they utilized the beauty and heft of stone. It was their medium and their muse. Stone, granite, bedrock, quartz. The outer stuff of the earth’s layers. The places we walk, the stuff of our souls (soles), our very ground. We live upon a rich layer of soil; but if you dig down, and not that far down, there is stone.

Stone. Granite. Bedrock. It is all around us. It outlasts us, by millennia. My friend the Irish eco-spiritual guide Gerard Clark says that stones are the bones of the earth. Like our own bones, stone is what is left long after a civilization has gone into dust. Our human ancestors knew how to live their lives by the wisdom of bedrock and stone. They knew how to spark a flame, stone to stone. To fleck out a tool in rock, and then to make sharper and sharper stones for better and better tools. With these elegant implements they hunted, they cooked, they made clothing, they domesticated animals and farmed the land. Then they made utterly majestic buildings and art.

Five thousand years ago along the River Boyne in Ireland, our human ancestors had enough time, enough vision and crazy grit, to create what can only be called spectacular monuments to the great ongoing motions of the celestial bodies and our human lives within the cycles of time. They managed to move massive stones—that is, slabs of granite ten feet tall and four feet wide and weighing up to four tons—using ingenious methods of water, rope and rolling timber logs. They moved these stones ten or fifty or seventy miles, and placed them together into a creation that would seem to outlast time.

And they carved the stones.  They took their tools and placed the stones in a geometric form that showed the patterns of our universe, thereby acting as a calendar. They dug ten foot tall megalithic standing stones three feet into the earth, allowing up to seven feet of granite to tower above them. With nothing but their hands and their marvelous stone tools, along with a wild and outlandish vision, they placed the stones upright in circles that were aligned to the solstices and the equinoxes. Such standing stones created great, long shadows at dawn and sunset, and on long Winter days. Like a sundial, these circles could tell time.

And before the standing stone circles, a thousand years before, our human ancestors built fantastic passage mounds– enclosed structures which made it possible to experience a great sinking into the original Source. The interior was constructed of massive stones, stacked and beveled into walls and ceiling, creating a human-built sacred cave.  The beveled stone roof was covered with many layers of gravel and earth to make a mound upon the earth. The interior had three chambers, the fourth direction being a passageway. One could go inside these passage mounds to a great, fertile dark womb.  The stones were drenched with art: spirals (single, double and triple spirals), chevrons, circles, waves, dots–an inexpressible dance with time, carved forever into stone, outlasting the ages.

Newgrane interiorIt was humans just like us, with brains the size of ours, who built these stunning buildings with their beautiful art carved inside.  And–the greatest example of a passage mound anywhere in the world is Newgrange in Ireland’s Boyne Valley, about an hour north of Dublin. This fantastic monument, built 5,000 years ago (a thousand years older than the pyramids) not only still stands entirely intact, but its beveled stone roof has never leaked over all that time, despite several millennia of Ireland’s endless rains.  And, more spectacularly, Newgrange was engineered and designed with a passageway precisely oriented to sunrise on the Winter Solstice.

This year will be much the same as when our human ancestors first built the mound.  Tonight the Winter Solstice will be exact here in California at 8:49 pm, Monday December 21.  In Ireland, it will be 4:49 am on Tuesday, December 22. For three days before and after the Winter Solstice, the earth will revolve on its axis as morning sunrise crests the ridge above the River Boyne, and the light of the  rising sun will enter a small portal opening at Newgrange.  If the morning is clear, the rising sun will slowly move along the interior passageway of Newgrange, first as a pinhole of light and then a blade of the sun through the cool dark shaf

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