Equinox Reflection by Sally McKenna

Loughcrew Cairn T by Sally McKennaThe present day psyche is drawn to the inscriptions on ancient stones. As the Earth moves into a crisis phase we more and more understand the ancestral links to the inner chambers of the mounds. We see green bellies rising from the land with entrances guarded by stones that have to be crawled over before going inside. Step over this stone and go into a space of deep slumber or deep awakening. These builders are not the people who wanted to subjugate the Earth, to tame it. We would grow into those people, who would come later. Now in 2008 there is a desire to return to that time of innate personal rhythm with the seasons.


The Autumn Equinox is the next major solar event in the yearly calendar of the path of the Earth as it spins in its wobbly arc around the sun. The main chamber at Loughcrew in Ireland welcomes the sun in at the Equinox.

The rising beam of light sears its way into the entrance, slicing across the ancient calendar stone composed of interlocking cells with a beckoning circle in the middle Is this the home place from the stars? The entry upright stone is rough and fingers catch in the curved grooves and push into pock marks. It is cold and wet and ahead it is dark because the sun has not yet risen. Your hand tells you that this is a special place and your eyes are penetrating the gloom, searching for the stone that you know is ahead.

If it is not the Equinox a torch will help you across barrier stones and then you will continue on and you will see the strange mixture of shapes, flower forms, zig zagging lightening and sun rays. If you were an ancient inhabitant entering in the Spring you might think I have all of my crop planted now and breathe a sigh of relief and if you don’t you would know to get on with it fast.

If you were here in the month of September this shining flower would trigger either a time of well deserved mental rest if your harvest was fully gathered and if it wasn’t a sense of anxiety that it had better be gotten on with. If the weather was bad till now an invocation to the Earth might be sung to send along the fine days needed. August first was the harvest festival of Lughnasa or Teltaine when the goddess Tailtu ruled over Ireland’s version of the Olympics on the plains of Meath. The cattle were purified between fires and the people celebrated.

Remembering the Celtic sun calendar is easier if you know that the Celtic festivals of Samhain, Imbolc, Beltaine and Lughnasa occur on the first of the month of November, February, May and August. They are the peak of the Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn seasons. The Equinox and Solstices are either on the 21st or 22nd of December. March, June and September.

Wheel of the sunThe wheel of the sun, the sacred hoop of life, with both native American Indian signs and Celtic signs interwoven together. Not all of us have a harvest of grain or herds of cattle to gather in for the winter but the harvest festival can push us towards thinking about our own harvest. Visualize the depth of the Celtic cauldron and begin filling it. Knowth held a beautiful cauldron full of sun imagery. We don’t know what it was used for but the symbolism is not lost on today’s needs and is very inspirational.

August is holiday month which often gives time for introspection and family gatherings. This is a good time for writing, even if it is only a post card, or for photography with that digital, failure proof, camera. Find something that puts the year together for you in an appreciative spiritual way. September finds the school bus running by our Glore Mill and children know more than the rest of us that life changes with the coming of each new school year. Remember your harvest carries you into winter. What you bring to you now can shore up your spirit in the lengthening dark ahead.

Glyph sculptureHere at the Glore Mill Art Centre we have been working in the sculpture and labyrinth gardens making signs for all the paths so that visitors can find their way around better. Ray Cooper has built four labyrinths with entrances facing each other to form a central platform of stone. Visitors begin by standing there first and breathe deeply before moving into the circular path of the labyrinth.

At each main seasonal point around the large enclosing stone circle, made by my husband, is a sculpture that I have welded. At the Equinox point is a sculpture called Glyph that I made in 1976. Little did I know then that it would travel to Ireland and stand at the half way point of balance between light and dark.

The sculpture is painted in red and gold and is intersected like the day of the Equinox into equal parts. It is a time of balance and in Ireland the day often has an eerie quality of calm. Mark the sun rise and it will be exactly 12 hours to the sunset. For the rest of the year the coming months will be a time to welcome souls at Samhain, then to move on to the Winter solstice, an ancient time for burying the dead at the Newgrange tumulus in Meath.

Then in the decreasing darkness wait for the return of the winter Cailleach to the Spring well where she pours out her water with withered hands and turns into the virgin Brigit at Imbolc on February 1st. For most February is a miserable month. However, keep in mind that Brigit is young and fine and waiting for Beltaine, May first, when she will bring the flowers of May to the fields and streams.

After our ancestors drew and carved the shapes in the stones the messages were frozen in time. But for us we can make them come alive again as symbols to make our lives richer. Begin each new season by matching a symbol from one of the ancient stones of Newgrange in the Winter, Knowth in the Summer and Lough Crew in the Spring and Autumn with a personal association with your own life. In this way the study of our Celtic heritage can be made central to modern life and enrich it.

Sally McKenna is an artist living in Ireland. After graduating with an Art degree specializing in sculpture and painting in Arizona she continued on to complete many commissions for public buildings and homes internationally. Her mixed media wall hangings have a distinct identity that is all her own and bear the unique blending of elements identified with her personality and journey.

When she first came to Ireland’s shores she scavenged cast off nets from the beach and wove them into her sculptures. In Ireland she has enjoyed creating outdoor bronze full size figures and abstract exterior sheet metal and copper forms. She continues her drawing and painting as they are the heart of her sculpture. In 2000 she and her husband came to Kiltimagh in County Mayo Ireland to renovate the Glore Mill as a studio and an Art Center. It is the pearl of great price for her.


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