Hill of Tara (Temair)
The Hill of Tara (or Temair in Gaelic) is located near the River Boyne, and is an archaeological complex in County Meath, Ireland. It sits at the center of a number of ancient monuments, and according to tradition was the seat of the High King of Ireland- it has been an important site since the late Stone Age. Temair was renowned as the ‘sacred place of dwelling for the gods’, and it is said you can see half of the counties of Ireland from atop the grassy mounds of Tara.
Ceremony of Air
Our Grove had good luck with weather during many years of large public rituals in California, and the weather also cleared for this ritual around the Lia Fail (Stone of Destiny). We had wonderful participation, including strong and ethereal vocal chanting from a woman traveling on her own from Santa Cruz, California!
With the cold weather returning, the next event I went to was the Dowsing workshop with Adge the Druid (Stephen Hobbs). Adge – also known as the ‘Fluid Druid’- was great interacting with people in small groups, and many who who had been hanging back stepped up to talk with him.
Adge immigrated to Ireland from the UK, and discovered his calling as a Druid. He was a gifted carver of bog oak staves and active in the fight against a motorway that has since been built near the Tara complex.
Adge went missing about 2005 or so, and is presumed dead. I remember him fondly this solstice, and pray he has found joy in the Summerlands.
Janet Farrar (a renowned Wiccan based in Ireland) told a tale of a selkie (creatures who live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land) , recited in traditional style. She held the attention of a large number of people as the weather changed again, but we didn’t care. Janet had a bad cold, but you couldn’t tell with her excellent story telling.
Ceremony of Fire
For the final ceremony participating groups carried banners and flags representing their countries. We had the California State flag rather than our US one- a good idea as President G.W. Bush was actually in Ireland in the time, and his war in Afghanistan was not popular. When we were all lining up, people in our group had to state loudly that ‘California didn’t vote for Bush’ to try and defuse things. Gavin Bone was good at stepping in to help (with a cheery ‘where’s that bear flag’), but the ill will being directed towards our small group was an unfortunate start to this working.
Everyone did pull together, and the ceremony started with us all following fire torches and those in the ritual singing as we walked in a procession to where Tara’s two main mounds meet. We formed a large circle, a torch was lit in the center, with each group announcing where they were from, and giving prayers.
(Our group was in colored robes; we had earlier tried to explain the negative connotation of white hooded robes with the Ku Klux Klan hate group in the US. I don’t think the locals grokked this; it’s also why I made my current robe off-white.)
Surprisingly there were many more members of the public than participating groves, covens, and the like- and they were very eager to participate. (Though, if memory serves, participants were in the circle with the public well behind them.) We were all exhausted as the event ended, but it seemed a huge success.
This was a memorable festival at a special sacred spot. The people- including the general public- were generally courteous and involved. Members of the public seemed very responsive, and I hope they connected with the overall spirit of the ceremony and this special place.
There was an undercurrent of unease about the then planned M3 toll road which was likely to be built close to all of the archeological sites at Tara (similar to building a road through the Valley of Kings in Egypt). I told the Irish government I wouldn’t go back to Ireland if the road was built, and my worst fears were realized on that front.
I heard that only one other Summer Solstice festival was held the next year (in 2005) – I am happy that our group was able to contribute a ritual to the 2004 Festival. The 2004 festival predates other events on a list of Tara celebrations, and other festivals happen all year long at Tara now. I am retired now, and don’t do much airplane travel – I felt really fortunate to be at this Summer Solstice festival all of those years ago. Blessings on all those who continue to work so hard for Paganism and the sacred sites in Ireland!