Today is the summer solstice (for those in the northern hemisphere), the longest day of the year and a day of celebration for pagans, wiccans, druids and anyone else who, like me, loves taking part in the rituals and celebrations of the pagan calendar.
Over recent years I’ve taken part in celebrations for the spring equinox and winter solstice, both at Stonehenge and Avebury respectively. The spring equinox at Stonehenge was especially spectacular for me as I was part of a private group on the actual stone circle which has restricted access. We had to perform the ceremony before the official opening time of the site for tourists, so it was early in the morning and the start of a very beautiful day. To be able to take part and be on the stones was very special to me. Security then, as now, was very strict. There were rules in place such as not to leave offerings or touch the stones and we were accompanied by security guards.
At Avebury I participated in the winter solstice celebrations on 21/12/12, which was also spectacular in different ways. Avebury is by far my favourite stone circle in comparison to Stonehenge since you can walk around the stones, touch them, sit on some even, which is something you’re unable do at Stonehenge. The stones there are more rugged and not as sophisticated as Stonehenge but the actual circle is much larger encompassing the village there.
Access to Stonehenge is restricted except on the solstices when anyone can go and celebrate on the stone circle. The site has changed considerably since I was last there with the opening of the new heritage centre although I believe you can still pay for private access to the stone circle.
The solstice has been associated with pagans for as long as it has been celebrated. The pagan name for the day is Litha. Litha is perceived to be a battle between light and dark. This takes place between the Oak King, who rules from the winter to the summer solstice and the Holly King, who rules from summer to winter. It is a time at which pagans look at the battle between light and dark within themselves.
So today, unable to get down to Wiltshire where both stone circles are situated, I took my myself off to the local moorland in the very early hours of this morning to catch the sunrise, accompanied by my husband. Watching the sunrise is an enjoyable experience for me as I don’t get to see it often, whereas my husband sees it regularly as he works nights.
The image above is of the sunrise I took this morning.
Hopefully next year I will finally get to celebrate the summer solstice on one of the magnificent stone circles we are so blessed to have in the UK.
Hoping you have a blessed solstice, where ever you are.