Thursday, 20 June 2013

Solstice - A Time For Celebration!

Merry Meet,

Summer Solstice is with us, heralding the beginning of summer and, traditionally, a time to take stock of our lives.

In ancient sites all over the UK, people gather to watch the sunrise on June 21st. From the stone circles of Cornwall and Stonehenge in the south, to the Ring of Brodgar in Orkney, music, dance, singing and celebration will greet the dawn. Fire is a powerful symbol of the solstice and, in many locations, bonfires will be lit. In others, maypoles will be erected and age old rituals performed.It is a time of joy, hope, promise and fulfilment. A time for feasting and merriment. A magical time that has captured the imagination for millennia.
You can imagine our ancestors five thousand years ago. They have endured a long, harsh winter, when food grew scarce, nights were long and dark and days short. There was little time or energy left for pleasure. Life was a matter of survival and endurance. Now, the days are long and warm. Food is plentiful once again. The sap is rising in the new life springing up all around them. Life is good - a thing to be celebrated. Why wouldn't you pick the longest day of the year on which to do this?
In the UK, there are many traditions associated with the summer solstice. The largest public gathering takes place at Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, where the alignment of the stones is a magnet for thousands to gather, watch and celebrate the rising sun. A Druidic celebration takes place there and it has become a place of pligrimage for the serious minded as well as those drawn by curiosity.
Throughout Cornwall, the tradition of lighting bonfires has been revived in recent years. Stone circles and other prehistoric monuments abound throughout the county and provide focal points for pagan celebrations. But Cornwall is a county where the summer solstice is an opportunity for all kinds of festivals and fun, lasting for days. One of the most popular is the annual Maker Festival on the Rame Peninsula on the coast of south east Cornwall.

Of all the many venues for celebration of this magical time, my choice would have to be up in Orkney amid that special stone circle known as the Ring of Brodgar. There, people collect to celebrate the sunrise with music, poetry, readings and the telling of folk tales, which abound in the islands. In Orkney, the Goddess of the season is the 'Mither of the Sea'. She stays in Orkney throughout the summer, keeping the seas calm and warm, ensuring plentiful stocks of fish for all. You have to get up early though, the long summer days mean that dawn is around 3.20a.m. (but first light is around 1a.m.!).

Now, if you want to have your own solstice celebration, you might like to try your hand at Maypole Dancing. Here's a link to get you started

 And here you will find some traditional Summer Solstice rituals you can employ whether you are celebrating on your own, or with others.

And, finally, here is a really interesting site with information on all sorts of traditional events held throughout the year, as well as a fascinating insight into the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids

Blessed Be to all!


  1. Another great post Cat. Loved all the pics too A nice mix of atmospheric and picture book.