Every year I go into solstice with idea about how I might mark the occasion and every year it works out differently. Think I’d learn wouldn’t you.

I began this year thinking I might see if anyone was around to drum, then quickly realised everyone was working, then I thought I’d watch the live link from Newgrange and during the day make a Despacho, a form of prayer bundle which I could then offer to the spirits in a solstice fire in my stone circle. This way I could drum while the spirits consumed the bundle along. Did any of this happen? No!

Instead an incredibly dark solstice morning found me driving to the dentist as I had a niggly tooth and needed to get it checked out before Christmas. During the drive, feeling disappointed not to be watching the sun fail to rise and illuminate the passage at Newgrange (it was a dull misty, damp morning everywhere in Ireland) when I realised that just as I often do a sign and omen walk I could do the same whilst driving as long as I was careful to also pay attention to the road of course. So shifting my awareness I asked for signs and omens for the day that was in it. Sure enough I soon became aware of my focus being drawn first to the bare trunks of clusters of birch trees as I drove past, then my gaze lifting above the trees and hedgerow to the lightness beginning to grow in the sky in the distance and finally to the crow flying directly towards me. As crow is someone I work with and whom is around often I asked for confirmation and was rewarded with a second crow immediately flying from a tree across the road in front of me. As with all signs and omens the real comes later in interpreting these and so I held onto them until I could sit, journey, gain insight, reflect and make sense of what I had been given.

Returning home, tooth sorted I was again disappointed that the weather was even worse. I had driven home through thickening fog and miserable drizzly rain neither of which are conducive to drumming outside and fire ceremony. So a quick rethink found me in my log cabin where I was guided to select two cards from Ted Andrews, Nature Speak Cards. I thought I was drawing these for myself until I was guided to draw a third which was solely for me and realised the first two were also to share here.

The first card was drawn for the darkness and was: Tulip – Trust in your efforts

Sometimes we feel that we aren’t really getting anywhere, making any progress but our efforts are working and rewards are coming if we continue to stay focused on them and to discriminate as to how and where to use them.

The second card was drawn for the light and was: Garden – Time for nurturing

This is a reminder to nurture yourself and to do things that give you joy, to sow new seeds in your life and then watch them grow. Doing this will stimulate new energies around you.

I have a suspicion that the signs and omens I received on my drive were also meant to be shared hence this blog post but as with all shamanic work the interpretation of them for anyone other than me is not mine to make. Basically, without going into details, for me the three signs together show me what I need to release and what I need to grasp hold of and carry with me as the shift from darkness to light takes place.

Maybe the signs I was given resonate with you in which case do reflect on them and what they might mean to you, or maybe this might inspire you to do your own signs and omens drive or walk.

I did drum, but out of respect for my drum, in my log cabin and not in the rain in my stone circle.

Just an aside here as yesterday where I live it was a seriously dark day, no sky visible, absolutely no light to be seen. I was out last night and I have never experienced such a deep and dark night, total blackness everywhere. I really do think this was the darkest solstice I have ever seen. May the light come quickly and shine brightly on us all in the coming months.



Winter Solstice at Newgrange

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Although I live in Ireland I am sadly the other end of the country from the Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange where hundreds gather for the sunrise of Winter Solstice. Those few lucky people enough to be able to enter the tomb gather in the darkness to await the rays of the sun which light up the passage.

In the past I have been able to watch this online via a video link but the last couple of years this stopped. This year though it is not only back but is being broadcast worldwide for the first time ever.

So if it is a clear boring on either 20th or 21st December this year we will all be able to join the lucky few and watch the sun light up the passage tomb by tuning into Ireland’s Ancient East YouTube channel





The Holiday Tree


This might look like a Christmas tree and most people who call to us would say that’s what it is but if they look closely they will see that it really isn’t.

Ok, we have lights, a few baubles and the odd Santa but almost all of the decorations on our tree have been brought home by us from holidays. We have for instance a koala from Australia, elephants from India, a Tibetan bell from Nepal, an orangutan from Borneo, palm fish from Cambodia, figures in national costume from Bhutan, a hummingbird from Costa Rica and most recently a maple leaf from Canada.

I love that this is how the tree is for every year when we unpack the box to decorate the tree we revive memories of the places we have visited through remembering where each decoration came from.

Our tree is always up before Winter Solstice which has far more meaning for me than Christmas does so the fact that it is more a holiday tree than anything else is absolutely perfect 🙂

Three Days of Stillness


Although many people seem to believe that once Winter Solstice is passed the days immediately get longer again this is far from true. Instead the sun  maintains its Solstice position, resting on the horizon, for a total of three days providing us with three days of stillness before we turn towards the light once more.

In what can be ‘crazy season’ even if we don’t buy into the enforced celebration of commercialism that Christmas can bring, three days of stillness sounds like magic. Three days in which we can rest, go within, gain insight, release, give thanks to Mother Earth, the sun, the moon, tune into and recognise the turn of the wheel and make plans for the new year ahead. How many of us though allow ourselves this ‘time out of time’?

I do always manage to stop and mark Winter Solstice itself in some way but three days? Not if I am being completely honest.

This year though is different as I really have no choice. Many times, being less than patient with myself, working through anything rather than giving in, this would be a problem, but at the moment I am strangely Ok with it all, perhaps because my own need to be still coincides with the Earth’s need to stop so we are in some way energetically empathic with each other at the moment. I know from past experience that being still and going into the void often brings me the greatest insights and so instead of being concerned that the house isn’t tidy and that I don’t know what the next meal will be I am just allowing myself to consciously take three days of stillness, admittedly on top of the several days I have already had.

I had begun this part of the year with the idea that I would do some serious reflecting aware that there was a lot that I was pushing myself to do that was maybe not completely right. I had intended to be journalling every step of this process so that I had a record of my decisions, I had decided I would weigh up the pros and cons of everything and then that I would release what I needed to into the fire at the ceremony I had arranged for today. Spirit though seems to have other ideas for I have not picked up pen and paper once but have slumbered in that ‘in between’, state, journeying to non ordinary reality and have thus done all of this there supported by my guides and allies, throwing away things that my guides have then been showing me that I need to reconsider and realising that I was not seeing things clearly. Then being shown how much I still have that does needs to be gone through and sifted out, things that in ordinary reality I might not have even identified. Not one word of this has gone onto paper but it is burnt deeply within me now, so much so that this morning I found myself thinking about whether my shamanic practice  could possibly fit what someone was looking for, before quickly realising that I wasn’t going to do that any more, that the only thing that mattered was what I actually did and not what anyone else was doing, that I didn’t care anymore. Total freedom.

I still have two more days of stillness to come and I am going to make the most of them, excited in many ways to see what other insights and understanding come to me when I completely surrender.

So what else could we use these three days of stillness for should we choose to take the time out to use them?

There are many ways to spend this time including giving thanks for and making offerings to our Earth Mother but these are a few simple ideas of ways to take some time to be still.

  • Sit by a window and spend time gently observing nature
  • Curl up and listen to music, allowing ourselves to receive healing from the sounds
  • Watch the sunrise and sunset
  • Hold a simple fire ceremony, writing down what we wish to release and then surrendering it to the element of fire
  • Sit in the darkness and spend time in reflection
  • Light a candle and welcome the light back in, perhaps thinking of our plans for the coming year, sowing the seeds that the light can germinate over the next months
  • Journey or undertake a guided meditation to meet our guides and ask for support or guidance
  • Journey or undertake a guided meditation to ask to be shown our soul’s purpose for the coming year
  • Make a vision board of your intentions or hopes for the new year

This is a symbolic time, a time of new beginnings, of setting intentions, of the light returning to shine in and push back the dark and lead us forward, so taking time out gives us chance to go into this consciously not blindly in the rush of it all. I for one am determined this year to make the most of it all, working in harness with the energy of the earth instead of running against it.


Making Space for Something New



One of the things I often talk to my students about is clearing space on an energetic level so that they create space for something new to come in. If you imagine (or maybe you don’t need much imagination here 🙂 ) your wardrobe so full that you can no longer fit anything in, this is what our lives can get like. The problem is that unlike in our bedrooms where there may be somewhere else to stash that newly acquired bargain, in our inner lives there is no way of doing this. If our inner lives are full there simply is room for anything new to come in.

So how do we go about clearing our inner lives?

Our outer life reflects our inner life so that is a great place to begin. The wardrobe, cupboards, drawers, bookshelves etc are all good places to start. Have a look through them, what is there that is no longer worn, looked at, valued, liked? Throw it out, find it a new home, donate it to a charity, pay it forward, move it on.

All of this stirs up, shifts energy and creates space for something new.

One other way is to go through our phones, look at our contacts and delete any that are no longer needed, no longer relevant. People take up space too.

I have just done this with my very old address book which was full of crossing out and new addresses added as people moved, business cards, sticky notes etc of numbers some of which I no longer recognised. My brand new address book is now only has addresses and phone numbers of people I actually know and want to stay in touch with. I am doing the same with the contact list on my computer of course.

And….thanks to Facebook deleting the Interest List option, and thanks to a helping hand as to how to access my liked pages, I have spent some time going through all these pages and unliking many of them. I was astounded to find how many pages there were there that I had never knowingly heard of, no longer used and can’t remember ever liking. So a big spring clean and I am clearer and lighter than I have been for a long time. Who’d have thought that having been so annoyed with Facebook the other day I’d have ended up feeling gratitude towards them.

We do expend a lot of energy holding on energetically to both things and people that we no longer need or which are no longer serving us. All they do is clog us up and take up space. On a Macro or global scale this year has been one of holding fear, uncertainty, anger, disbelief and more besides, on a micro scale much of this is also being held by us individually and therefore is taking up energy and space. It takes way more energy to hold on than it does to let go, which is why this Winter Solstice will find me, along with some close friends, making a community prayer bundle in the form of a despacho, (the image at the top of this blog is of a despacho all ready to be wrapped up as an offering) and along with gifts for the spirits, adding in all that we are asking to release on behalf of the world and ourselves.  In a fire ceremony we will then make the offering of the despacho and ask that the element of fire, along with the spirits, accept our offering. In this way we can help to release, clear and make space, hopefully for something that serves us all better.

Winter Solstice

I know a few people are surprised when they hear Solstice is 4.49am on 22nd December this year and having seen this online today thought it helped explain what is going on 🙂

When is the shortest day of the year?

Solstice Blessings for whenever you are celebrating

Darkness to Light

We are just about to enter the darkest part of the year, the few days that lead up to the Winter Solstice on 21st/22nd December.

Usually I love this time of year, the chance to sink into the darkness, to drop into the void, release, let go and be reborn into the light as the wheel of the year turns once again. I always enjoy Winter Solstice more than Summer Solstice because as much both Solstices offer the chance to reflect, release and move on, the Winter Solstice also offers the promise of brighter times ahead, the ‘stretch in the day’ as we say here.

This year though the run up to Solstice has been difficult even before we get into the next few days. I have lost count of how many times I have heard someone say to me that they will be glad when Solstice is over. I don’t think I have ever heard this before.

The reason for this is that in Ireland we have had very bad weather; storms, floods, weeks where it hasn’t stopped raining and days where there has not really been any daylight. This has come on top of a very poor, cool, summer with little in the way of sunshine.

I don’t suffer from SAD, depression or anything similar plus I am lucky enough to have had winter sunshine, yet I am very aware of the effect that the lack of light is having on me. I don’t think I have ever been as aware of the dark days ahead as I am at the moment.

Solstice will come and go, the days will grow longer, the darkness will lose its grip. I am just hoping that in the days ahead there will be enough light for us to notice this.