The Winter Solstice 21 December 2012, The Mayan calendar end and Knocknarea Co Sligo

Sunset over Sligo`s holy mountain Knocknarea, where Queen Maeve is said to be laid to rest.
Sunset over Sligo`s holy mountain Knocknarea, where Queen Maeve is said to be laid to rest.

So here we are on the the eve of 21 Dec 2012, the day that many people for one reason or another have been saying the world will end. And living here in Sligo the home of western Europes largest megalithic sites, I feel obliged to mark the occasion.

Maeves Tomb at Sunset atop Knocknarea Sligo. According to some records not Meves tomb at all but that of an older Celtic King.
Maeves Tomb at Sunset atop Knocknarea Sligo. According to some records not Maeves tomb at all but that of an older Celtic King.

The  5125-year-long cycle in the Mayan long-count calendar ending tommorrow, Friday  has prompted a wave of doomsday speculation across the globe. The mayan people still around today, say that yes the long count calendar does end tommorrow but as with most calendars that end, a new one will begin and a new age apparently is upon us. And tommorow will be as unremarkable as any winter solstice.

The Mayan Long Count Calendar

Some facts about tommorrow are

  • it is the winter solstice The word solstice comes from the Latin phrase for “sun stands still”.
  •  The winter solstice marks the official onset of winter where the sun is at its lowest in sky. The years darkest day.
  •  The Sun will be aligned with the middle of the Milky Way band, however if this means anything is unclear.
Carrowkeel Sligo, older than the pyramids facing the setting sun.
Carrowkeel Sligo, older than the pyramids facing the setting sun.

A word on the symbolism of the winter solstice.

Ancient thinkers believed that the cycle of the sun during the day  corresponded to the cycle of the sun during the entire year, so, if one imagined  the year as a single day, summer would be the morning and winter, would be the  night. The middle of the winter, then, was the night of the year, a time when  humanity should sleep and dream noble dreams for the next season, when they  should wake up and work to make dreams happen.

The winter solstice is and was celebrated in many different cultures and represented in  mythology as the battle of the virtuous god against the darkness, or  metaphorically, the moment in which an initiate overcomes death and resurrects  from the underworld to bringing light again to his people, just like the sun,  which rises again after the dark night.

Carrowmore Western Europes largest megalithic site.
Carrowmore Western Europes largest megalithic site.

Sligo and its Megalithic monuments.

I am not going to dwell in this article on the many fine megalithic sites that Sligo has to offer,  for that is indeed the subject of another post or even book that I am currently working on. Suffice to say, Sligo is full of some of the most intact and oldest sites in Ireland and the best thing is nobody comes to Sligo! Most tourists are busy getting horse and cart rides in Killarney! Fine by me for the moment, as it will allow me space to do my research and photography, but most visitors ( in my opinion) are missing something truly original by leaving Sligo out of their itinerary in Ireland.

Suffice to say our ancestors here in Sligo have arranged many sites in and around the area of Knocknarea mountain with regard to the sun, and at Carrowkeel the the tombs face the setting sun.

As legend has it they face the that way in order to face their enemies to the north. There are stories aplenty that describe how the warriors of Connaght were buried standing up so that they would for eternity face their enemies to the north. Last thing though as this is mainly a food producer blog, there is a fine cheese made in the shadows of Knocknarea nad I will update you all with that soon.

Belbulbin view from atop Carrowkeel passage tombs.
Belbulbin view from atop Carrowkeel passage tombs.

Finally something musical to accompany this article. Worth reading article to the music.

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