‘SACRED RITUALS’ – BARBARA O’MEARA ARTIST NEW VOICES OF IRELAND SERIES 8 – CENTRE FOR CREATIVE PRACTICES www.cfcp.ie

‘Sacred Rituals’ Video & Art Installation – Barbara O’Meara Artist www.barbaraomearaartist.com               

I am a visual artist and a published writer. For ‘New Voices of Ireland I collaborated with Brazilian Artist Diviane Helena with whom I had a deep connection discussing and sharing ideas of culture and sacred ceremony. After research we concluded with the idea of making 3 videos pieces in synchronicity pertaining to the rituals of our Ancestors, incorporating the Divine Feminine and Nature. We agreed to film at the same time in our different places of residence to communicate a sense of interconnectedness despite Covid-19 Restrictions. It was imperative for me that my videos, all made on my mobile phone, were created at a particular time and place which left me at the mercy of the weather with an acceptance of letting go of any control over the filming. Channeling the immediacy of the elements brought rawness to the pieces and for me raised questions of how insignificant our existence is on this planet. Filming over the power of the wind felt like a metaphor for the challenges we are facing as a species living with this uncontrollable global pandemic. There was a sense of just being, of survival, perhaps a metaphysical connection to common ancestors. I used language as part of the rituals speaking in English, Irish (my Native Tongue) and Brazilian Portuguese and also incorporated pure unrefined rhythmic sounds using handmade musical instruments to release energy and create movement. Many of the simple natural artifacts were handcrafted by me or handmade ensuring authenticity. Rich symbolism was also present as with 3 spoons representing Maiden, Mother, Crone and the ceremonies performed in circles which are symbols of no beginning or ending.

 ‘Winter Solstice’ – Irish Celtic Ceremony – 21st December 2020 – Under a Full Moon I perform a pre dawn ceremony to mark the great cross quarter of the Celtic Calendar, the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, which marks the beginning of the Celtic New Year and the return to light. In the depths of darkness this time was honoured by our ancestors in sacred ritual over 5000 years ago at the prehistoric site Newgrange, the great womb, to welcome the return to light. This time of year is related to the Goddess and the feminine. Serendipitously, an astronomical event, the great conjunction of the Christmas Star, the closest alignment of planets Jupiter and Saturn in 400 years was also occurring. Chanting “Return to Light, Let Light Return” using a shamanic drum representing a human heartbeat, moving in sacred circle around the flames of a fire on 4 quarters of gold to represent the 4 Seasons of the Celtic Wheel. Acknowledging the great seeding of life beneath the earth growing in darkness, there is acceptance and surrender to ritual and the elements. In this piece I love the tension and contrast between the silent photo stills as opposed to the howling wind and rain. I embrace and honour both the light and darkness. All is one. Materials: kindling sticks, antique cauldron, gold leaf handmade paper, handmade organic shamanic drum, headdress, Amber jewelry, gold handmade shawl & dress.

 ‘Yemanja’ Afro Brazilian Sea Goddess – New Year’s Eve – 31st December 2020. An Afro Brazilian Festival brought to Brazil by African Slaves hundreds of years ago, ‘Yemanja’ Goddess of the Sea, is an African Water Protecting entity also considered in other religions as the female ‘Mother of the World’ from which everything is created. Worshippers call on her to bring prosperity and good health in this New Years Eve traditional ritual. People wear white for harmony and adorn in white flowers as they dance, sing and pray with floral offerings, gifts and letters to the Sea Goddess, hoping they will be blessed. Green foliage  signifies health and a single white rose is often given as a gift. Again on the day of a full moon I use wooden Silver Birch music sticks in a sacred circle calling out in Brazilian Portuguese “Bem-Vinda Yemanja Rainha do Mar” Welcome Yemanja Queen of the Sea. I place a Raku Fired Mother Goddess figure on a woven willow boat with white flowers, foliage, cones, white shells and stones as offerings to her. The ceremony takes on a life of its own in the uncontrollable wind beside crashing waves. I have to accept the power of nature is beyond my control with an offering of oats to the Goddess. The flowers are then offered to the sea to honour of Yemanja.  Materials: Hand woven harvested willow boat, seasoned wooden music sticks of Silver Birch, handmade Raku Fired Mother Goddess, Handmade Star, wild flowers/foliage, white shells/stones, sage incense, and white garments.

‘Nollaig na mBan’ – Women’s Christmas – 6th January 2021. This is a time balance, of the half moon, of equality,  I bring together Irish/Brazilian traditions to honour our female ancestors with a tea/coffee ceremony. Nollaig na mBan in Ireland is a time when women traditionally had a day off from their domestic chores and the men took over the housework.  In the past women gathered together to share food and drink with storytelling and song, it was bad luck to take down Christmas decorations before the 6th January.  In Brazil in everyday life women served coffee, in Ireland women served tea, both beverages introduced by way of colonialism in the 18th century.  Many of our female ancestors had lives of hardship and servitude with little time for festivity but they had rituals such as divination of tea leaves/coffee grains. Most were not born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Filming this was very poignant as I place teapots, coffeepots, cups on my Great Grandmother’s enamel kitchen table I think of her strength and dignity and of all the women who have gone before, serving them ‘Cupan Tae’ (Irish Gaelic) and ‘Café Puro’ (Portuguese). Hand stitched aprons and a knitted tea cozy are an acknowledgement of women’s craft & skills often undervalued in the past.  Most of the vessels were gifted to me by women folk and I use a branch from the Christmas tree to cleanse the energy.    ‘Slainte’ (Good Health/ Irish Gaelic)  ‘Beber Boa Saude’ (Drink Good Health/Portuguese).

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