Litha (Summer Solstice) - Avebury, Glastonbury and Stonehenge

This page includes reports and photographs from the various events I attended during the season of Litha in 2012. Litha is the Summer Solstice (21 June) or Mid-Summer (24 June). The sun is now at its high point and so daylight and warmth decline hereafter until Yule six months later. Litha is the time of high energy, handfastings, outdoor activities, the honey moon and the availability of useful plants. I can't remember a Summer Solstice with such unpredictable weather. It was very much a case of keeping an eye on the forecast and making decisions day by day. The season started with a trip to an extremely windy Avebury for the Cauldron of Cerridwen on 16 June. Next it was over to Stony Littleton long barrow on 19 June to observe the setting sun going down behind its entrance. The following day saw a sunrise observance and a trip to Glastonbury for the Summer Solstice event at Chalice Well. On 23 June it was a return visit to a wet Avebury for the Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri. At the same time the Genesis Order of Druids were having their event at Stonehenge. The Gorsedd of Bards of Cor Gawr took place the following morning at Stonehenge. The final event of the season was also at Stonehenge, with the Dolmen Grove. This was followed by a sunset observance. The report starts with a small collection of the sun photos from the whole season.

Sun Photos (From 30 May 2012)

The following photos were taken in my village in the days before and following Summer Solstice. The sun timings are for the nearby city of Bristol.

Sunset on 30 May 2012, the day with 2min 2sec more light than the previous day, 8hr 24min 8sec light gained & 0hrs 22min 5sec to gain

Sunset on 4 Jun 2012, the day with 1min 37sec more light than the previous day, 8hr 33min 3sec light gained & 0hrs 13min 10sec to gain

Sunset on 9 Jun 2012, the day with 1min 10sec more light than the previous day, 8hr 39min 48sec light gained & 0hrs 6min 25sec to gain

Sunrise on 20 Jun 2012, the day with 0min 5sec more light than the previous day, 8hr 46min 12sec light gained & 0hrs 0min 1sec to gain

Sunset on 24 Jun 2012, the day with 0min 18sec less light than the previous day, 0hr 0min 36sec light lost & 8hrs 45min 40sec to lose

The Cauldron of Cerridwen Ritual at Avebury (16 Jun 2012)

The Cauldron of Cerridwen Summer Solstice event took place at Avebury on Saturday 16 June. The group met at the Red Lion and then moved into the Sun Circle to set up. Paul introduced the season, pointing out that Lugh should be fired for his poor performance! Taran then gave some background information and Tyto followed by blessing the altar. Owlswing stepped forward with the sword, before walking around the circle to cast it. The four quarters were then opened by individuals from within the circle, with me taking South. Owlswing invoked Cerridwen and Kumani invoked Cernunnos. The Charge of the Goddess saw Tyto welcoming the Lady, leading to the Charge of the God with Taran welcoming the Lord. This was followed by Taran reading a poem.

Paul then got a drumbeat going. Oakroot entered the circle from the South as Lugh and spoke about his reign. His attendant Sian went around the circle passing out incense sticks. Unfortunately it was incredibly windy during this event and so people were asked to take the sticks home and light them there. Dennis and Gitta did a great job of ensuring that nothing blew away. Tyto read some words out and led the group in the Sun and Light chant. Herne entered the circle from the East to take over from Lugh, who took his seat. Herne’s attendant Red Marsco went around the circle handing out strawberries. Entertainment was requested as Herne sat on his thrown. I stepped forward to perform my Summer Solstice poem. Owlswing followed with some jokes and people from the circle offered their own. Willth entered the centre to talk about what would be happening at Avebury the following weekend. Herne then led the group on a dance around the local landscape. Taran blessed the juice and Tyto blessed the cake and their distribution commenced. The Druid Vow was performed before the God and Goddess were thanked, the four quarters closed and the circle released once again. The event concluded with a short singing session from Tyto.

Montage of the complete event (Photo of Matthew by Dennis Wright)

Setting up in the Sun Circle

Paul starts things off

Taran gives some background to the event

Tyto blesses the altar and asks for the circle to be cast

Owlswing casts the circle

Opening the North Quarter

Invoking Cerridwen and Cernunnos

Taran reads a poem

Paul gets a drumbeat going

Lugh enters the circle

Lugh's attendant Sian hands out incense sticks

Tyto reads a poem

Herne now enters the circle

Herne speaks and his attendant Red Marsco hands out strawberries

Matthew performs his Summer Solstice poem (Photo: Dennis Wright)

Owlswing tells some jokes and is lucky not to be lynched

Steve the Stag leads the group around Avebury

Taran blesses the juice

Tyto blesses the cake

Kate samples the juice from Owlswing

Two cakes to choose from

Willth advises the group about the following weekend's activities

Beginning to close things down

Closing the North Quarter

Owlswing calls back the circle

The event concludes with a short singing session from Tyto

Sunset at Stony Littleton Long Barrow (19 Jun 2012)

With a south easterly alignment, the setting mid-summer sun sets behind the entrance to Stony Littleton long barrow. At mid-winter the rising sun shines in the doorway (a 2010 sunrise photo is shown at the end of this section). This particular day had 0min 11sec more light than the previous day, 8hr 46min 7sec light gained & 0hrs 0min 6sec to gain. It was the only day around the Solstice period that was expected to have a clear sunset.

The sun sets on 19 June 2012

The sun sets on 19 June 2012

The sun sets on 19 June 2012

The sun sets on 19 June 2012

The sun sets on 19 June 2012

The sun sets on 19 June 2012

Flashback: The sun shines in the long barrow entrance on 25 Dec 2010

Summer Solstice at Chalice Well (20 Jun 2012)

The Chalice Well meditation was held at midday on 20 June. A very large group gathered around the wellhead, starting to form almost an hour beforehand. Following the silent minute Karin stood up and welcomed everyone. She showed a heart-shaped pebble and passed this around for the love to be shared. And she got everyone to connect by linking hands. She then handed over to husband Sig to talk more about the season. At the end he asked everyone to glance at the sky. As they did so he removed his anorak to reveal a coat of many colours - signifying the transformational qualities of the season.

A 15 minute meditation then took place, the start and end of which was indicated by the striking of two tuning forks. Following this, Karin asked if there were any contributions. Sig spoke about how quiet the sheep had been during the meditation - they had been very noisy prior to midday. I did another performance of my Summer Solstice poem and Lisa followed with her Friends song. There were a few other contributions of words and a session with a crystal bowl before the event was over. Everyone then moved down to the main lawn for the fire and Conversation Cafe.

Montage of the complete event (Photo of Matthew by Juliette Pearson)

Gathering around the wellhead, including Sig with his green anorak

Karin shows the heart-shaped pebble

Sig transforms under the Solstice sun

Sounding forks to signify the end of the meditation

Matthew performing his Summer Solstice poem (Photo: Juliette Pearson)

Lisa sings her Friends song

Playing a crystal bowl

Back down on the main lawn

The fire burns in the Conversation Cafe

The Genesis Order of Druids at Stonehenge (23 Jun 2012)

The Genesis Order of Druids held its event at Stonehenge on 23 June, while I was busy at Avebury. They were joined by members of the Dorset Grove, Kingley Vale, the Berengaria Order and COSEE. As with last year, the event was graced with the amazing DrumNation and Victory Morris . It also included beautiful maiden Grace, B and Chris as the Oak and Holly Kings plus the raising of Linden Ivy.

Photo: Carole Ballard

Photo: Carole Ballard

Photo: Gaynor/Uni Versal

Photo: Carole Ballard

Photo: Gaynor/Uni Versal

Photo: Carole Ballard

Photo: Carole Ballard

The Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri (23 Jun 2012)

The Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri took place on Saturday 23 June. The group met at the Red Lion and processed to the Sun Circle. Willth welcomed everyone to the event and asked Mungo to perform the Call For Peace. He then asked for each of the four quarters to be opened. Terry took East, with Dennis on South, me on West and Ghyll on North. Willth then connected to the ancestors and the three worlds. The group linked hands and performed the Druid Vow and three tones of the Druid Mantra. Terry followed with a version of the Druid Prayer. He then came into the centre to talk about the season and the Avebury Solstice phenomena. Robyn y Glas played the first of his songs and I went next with a performance of my Summer Solstice poem. Gary spoke about a recent study that concluded countries where religion is not very important are doing better economically than those where religion dominates. Joe played a quick tune on his flute and Mark read a new poem. Willth blessed the mead and started its circulation around the circle from the East and West. It was then over to Robyn y Glas for another song and Nick leading the group in the Goddess Chant. With the weather deteriorating, Willth started to close things down, the quarters were released and everyone was thanked for coming out on this wet day.

Montage of the complete event (Photo of Matthew by Dennis Wright)

Meeting up at the Red Lion

Willth welcomes everyone to the event

Mungo asks for peace in the North

Ghyll opens the North Quarter

Linking hands for the Druid Vow

Terry performs a version of the Druid Prayer

Terry talks about the Avebury Solstice phenomena

Robyn y Glas plays the first of his songs

Matthew performs his Summer Solstice poem in the pouring rain (Photo: Dennis Wright)

Gary talks about a study into countries doing better economically if they are not dominated by religion

Joe plays a quick tune

Mark reads a new poem

Willth blesses the mead

Nick leads the group in the Goddess Chant

Terry closes the East Quarter as the weather deteriorates

The Gorsedd of Bards of Cor Gawr at Stonehenge (24 Jun 2012)

This Gorsedd occurs at Stonehenge twice a year - at mid-summer sunrise (Alban Hefin) and mid-winter sunset (Alban Arthan). This year the summer event was held at dawn on 24 June - the traditional date for mid-summer. Despite torrential overnight rain, the Gorsedd gathered as usual just before sunrise in the temple of Stonehenge, muddy and slippery underfoot and with grey skies above. The Call For Peace was made in Welsh and English, the Four Directions and the Three Worlds were honoured and the Ancestors welcomed into the circle. The moment of sunrise was hidden by the clouds yet it was felt in the hearts of those present and so was still honoured. Offerings were made at this time. Gifts of fire above, as whisky from a chalice, was offered by the Goddess Don. And fire below, as wild meadow seeds to be taken and planted, from the God Beli. These were distributed to all. Challenges were made and accepted before drumming, dancing and chanting celebrated the coming of Mid-Summer. Prayers were said for those in need and for the departed before those who wished to step forward to take their Bardic Initiation. Bread and mead were shared as folk offered their creativity and inspiration during the eisteddfod, before the circle was opened and the rite ended as it began, in peace.

Montage 1 by Matthew. All photos by Celtic Inspiration

Montage 2 by Matthew. All photos by Celtic Inspiration

The Dolmen Grove at Stonehenge (24 Jun 2012)

The final scheduled event of the season was the Dolmen Grove gathering at Stonehenge. The group assembled in a private area of the overflow car park and started to form up for the procession at around 16:45. To the sound of plenty of drumming the group began to make its way through the crowds, down to the turnstiles, through the tunnel and into the temple field. Heading straight into the stones, the group made its way around the inside of the stones before forming up a circle. Taloch welcomed everyone and drummed the ‘Not I, Nor Thee’ with people from the circle calling in the four directions. Taloch spoke about the problems of mass celebrations on the temple site. The group chanted and put positive energy into the situation.

Diane came on to talk to the group and she was later joined by Nemmius Teach. He recited an affirmation that had been empowered with words from the four directions. A loved one was passed over next, by means of words and then bubbles on the breeze. Julie and Gera came on to empower a libation and to each read some poetry. And last year’s quartet were reduced to a trio. Tania, Anarcho and Sharon came forward for one of their chants. It was my turn next. I was very grateful for the wonderful introduction from Taloch. It was the final performance of my Summer Solstice poem in 2012, with a few Dolmen-inspired extras thrown in. Diane then returned to read a poem that had been submitted by Sem.

It was then time to empower the new Dolmen Grove. Taloch asked for the drummers to gather around him. Then for the women to gather around them. And for the remaining men to gather on the outside. Taloch spoke about how the Dolmen Grove is going to evolve in the coming years. The group then drummed and chanted this intention and the women went out to put that energy into the stones. The May Queen at the Beltane Spirit of Rebirth event came on next to read a poem. The talking stick was passed around and everyone had a chance to say something, with the group drumming after each contribution. The event had flown by and now it was time to close the quarters and process out of the stones. The group proceeded clockwise outside of the temple and back to the path and through the crowds to the car park. A superb event and the weather was a welcome change from what most days in June had been like.

Montage of the complete event

Meeting up in the car park

The procession begins to move

Approaching the ticket barriers

Approaching the tunnel

Emerging from the tunnel

Entering the temple field

Entering the stones

Spiralling within the stones

Forming up the circle

Forming up the circle

Taloch drums the "Not I, Nor Thee"

Opening the West Quarter

The drumming completes

Diane talks to the group

Nemmius Teach recites words that have been empowered from each direction

Remembering a loved one

Poetry from Julie and empowering a libation

Gera performs her words

Now they are three - a chant from Tania, Anarcho and Sharon

Matthew performs a Dolmen-ised version of his Summer Solstice poem (Photo: Veronica Holbrook)

Diane reads out a poem from Sem Vine

Empowering the new Dolmen Grove

Matthew's mother and all the other women are asked to touch one of the stones

The May Queen reads a poem

Merlin passes on the talking stick to Linda

Closing the West Quarter

Processing out of the stones

The group processes back to the car park

The group processes back to the car park

The group processes back to the car park

Back in the overflow car park

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Page last updated: 01 Jul 2012