Ireland’s Ancient East holds some of the most dramatic heritage sites in the world. One of the most intriguing is Newgrange. Built at least 5,000 years ago, the interior remains dry.
In 2009 I experienced what it must have been like for the builders to rest inside the total darkness, imagining themselves as seeds being planted in the Earth, awaiting Spring’s soft rains and warming sun so they might come to life once more.
What did the builders of Newgrange
call their masterful creation?
Womb of the Mother?
Sacred vessel of Earth’s treasures?
Blessed house of life and harvest?
Step inside and feel the presence
of deep conviction
and faith in seasons turning
brought about each winter
when Solstice sun
runs straight down the passageway
that never was a tomb or house of the dead,
despite symbolic ashes in side basins.
Only vitality shines here to bring again
fertility and springtime blooms
planted in the darkest dark
as seeds must be
else they will not see the light of day
come Imbolc and Bealtaine.
Triple spirals mark the portal,
as sentinel stones keep watch
telling all who cross this threshold
that mystery abides within.
What transpired is long since lost,
buried in green Éire’s lore and soil
whose memory would speak to those
whose ears are willing to be quickened.
Listen when the lights go out.
Do chants of Old Ones whisper,
beckoning you to pray once more
for new blessings from the land?
Five thousand years is not too long
for their voices to still echo
down monumental corridors
I marvel as I walk away—
how could mere farmers moving rocks
build on such a massive scale
to mind the Earth
as she kept them and their families
nourished body, mind and soul
high atop the River Boyne?