The Day the Rains Came: Winter Solstice 2013 at Avebury

March 5, 2014

I am a worker, a tombstone mason, anxious to pleace averyburies and jully glad when Christmas comes his once ayear

James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (113. 34-35)


December 21st. Pictures from a wet Winter Solstice visit to Avebury.

and her birthright pang that would split an atam like the forty pins in her hood (FW 333.24-25)


The rain swept in, as forecast.

So persistent was the rain, we abandoned the idea of an extended walk around the stones. It has rained and rained and rained… most days since.

Floodlift, her ancient of rights regaining (FW 318.6-7).


This particular stone I associate with the quotation from Finnegans Wake which opens this post, with its allusions to Avebury and Yuletide (‘jully glad’). Its shape evokes the lozenge at the centre of the ALP diagram on page 293 of the Wake.

293The upper and lower halves of the diamond depict the Wake’s correspondence between macrocosm and microcosm, realised in the relationship between ALP and her daughter Izod/Issy: ‘the message she braught belaw from the missus she bragged abouve’ (FW 333.19-20). In this ‘litter of letters’, the Hebrew letter Mem, meaning ‘water’ and having the value of 40 in Hebrew number mysticism, is an indicator of the ‘mum’, Anna Livia Plurabelle (ALP):

Meet the Mem, Avenlith, all viviparous out of couple of lizards. She just as fenny as he is fulgar (FW 242.27-29).

While Avenelith is an old name for the River Liffey, the element ‘aven’ also evokes the river name, Avon (as well as Avebury), while ‘lith’ is suggestive of Greek lithos, ‘stone’. Viviparous, meaning ‘giving birth to’ and ‘couple of lizards’, suggesting Chapelizod, brings forth ALP’s daughter, Issy. The ‘avonlithic’ conjunction of stone and water recurs where ALP/Issy appears as ‘his trippertrice loretta lady… with twy twy twinky her stone hairpins’ (FW 312.20-21).  When these textual referents are allowed to overflow from the book (twice twenty = forty = Mem = water), the megaliths of Avebury are revealed as ALP’s stone hairpins.

This is rainstones ringing. Strangely cult for this ceasing of the yore (FW 279.1-3).

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