Try some navel gazing this May

The May bank holiday in Ireland shares celebration with one of our most ancient traditions. The time of Bealtaine translates as ‘Bright Fire’ from Gaelic and is the traditional change from winter to spring in the ancient calendar. Really it was a celebration of the passing of time from winter to the new growing season. The tradition is indeed ancient and stretches back even to pagan times. The hill of Uisneach in county Westmeath is the centre of a wonderful festival. A rock stands at its centre and is said to be a doorway or portal into an ancient world filled with fairies and spirits. In olden times people would hang may flowers in their doorways, or on the horns of cattle to ward off mischievous spirits.

Each year a bonfire is lit on the hill, and on the surrounding hills other groups would take their cue to light fires of their own, radiating out from the spiritual centre of Ireland. The stone at its centre is said to be a type of ‘omphalus’ (navel in ancient Greek) and is at the meeting point of counties Meath, Ulster, Munster and Connacht. The ceremony lives on today and over the current bank holiday happens at the site on Saturday 5th of May. If you fancy a trip back to your spiritual roots then this could be the place for you this May bank holiday.

 

Photo courtesy of Abi Skipp, Flickr.

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