The Glorious Mother of the Stars

by Elizabeth Cunningham

Solstice News: My album MaevenSong is scheduled for delivery today! The first sung notes are: “This story begins in the night. There will be a dawn, I promise.” The last: “You will rise with the sun!” You can preview MaevenSong at by clicking on the book covers and then the song links near the top of the page. You can download songs or the entire album at ,

The Glorious Mother of the Stars

The sun rises late at my house, because of a wooded hill to our east. At this time of year when it clears the crest of the hill it looks like a star fallen among the bare trees, a match about to set world ablaze. And I am reminded that the sun is a star; it is a fire, and all that we burn to warm ourselves and to give light comes from this star, our star, that the Celts saw as a mother:

Hail to thee, thou sun of the seasons,
As thou traversest the skies aloft;
Thy steps are strong on the wing of the heavens,
Thou art the glorious mother of the stars.*

And, not being so literal-minded that they had to stick to one gender, a god:

Glory to thee,
Thou glorious sun.

Glory to thee, thou sun,
Face of the God of life.*

The newborn sun is, of course, also associated with the Divine Child, perhaps especially in English poetic tradition with its ready-made connection between sun and son. Let us not forget the divine daughters, like Persphone, Inanna, among others, who journey to the underworld and then return bringing new life.

In my counseling practice, I often work with people who have deep wounds because they were in some way unmothered or unfathered. (Really, that describes most of us, no matter how well-meaning our parents might have been.) So I invite people to go to the Mother, to imagine her, whether they see her as Mary, Isis, Brigid, or someone who needs no name and may not take a human form. And if it is a good father you need, then look up at the sun see “the face of the God of Life” shining back.

The new solar year is also a good time to tend the divine child not just in ourselves but in the world–as the world. The divine child Jesus said that any service rendered to any one in need was rendered to him. So he tells us the divine is everywhere, hidden in the most threadbare humanity. What if we saw the earth itself as our divine child, to be nourished and cherished. As devoted parents, we might be willing to put the earth’s needs first sometimes, to make some sacrifices that the earth might thrive.

Enough with the metaphors. the truth is we are the earth and the sun, the moon and the stars. We are the same substance, and so we resonate with the yearly round. We rise with the sun. We begin again. Happy Solstice!

** Both the above verses come from Carmina Gadelica, Hymns & Incantations collected in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland in the 19th Century by Alexander Carmichael. They are part of an oral tradition whose antiquity is hard to calculate. This work is now in public domain.

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Elizabeth Cunningham December 21, 2009 - 6:52 pm

To keep the blog short enough, Eliz cut out a reference to my mother Grainne (whose name means sun or light!) I left home when I was fourteen and have as yet not returned. (Long story; see The Maeve Chronicles). Wherever I went (and I went pretty damn far) I always felt my mother's touch in the touch of light. Good Yule, y'all! L'Chaim! -Maeve

faerian December 21, 2009 - 7:04 pm

bowing deep and low yet again… to feel the balance of you in the time of long darkness and me in the time of long light fills me up.

i have just realised that my reflection on my elderly freinds and yours on the inner child and the earth child reflect that balance again…

i honour light as all that is and dark as all that is and our part in and of it all…

and i am doing a little happy dance at the thought of being able to have your voice with me as i holiday at the beach over the next 2 weeks or so! YAY MAEVENSONG!!!

Elizabeth Cunningham December 21, 2009 - 7:12 pm

Faerian, yes beautiful balance. Hail to the longest and the shortest day, to the oldest old and the newest born!


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