Mostly. In that I wish you all a Joyous Solstice and hope that it’s going better than mine. It’s not that anything terrible has happened today, but not only am I suffering under the tail-end of a stinking cold that started the day after my birthday party (held this weekend just gone as it’s the closest weekend to my actual birthday) but also my period started yesterday, so I’ve got added lethargy, hypersensitivity, and cramps. So the ritual I had planned to do when I got home from Avebury this afternoon hasn’t happened yet, and at this rate isn’t likely to either, as it’s gone 9pm already.
On the plus side I saw the sunrise at Avebury again this year, although none of my friends could make it. Granted, I had to take two days off work rather than one this time, as I needed the extra day to get from Lincoln to London to my godmother’s, then drove for an hour this morning to get to the circle in time. I need to remember to get up quarter- to half an hour earlier though, as I arrived about ten minutes before the sun was due to rise, and the sky was already fairly light by that point. Oddly, the car park was shut so I had to park somewhat precariously on the edge of the entrance. There also seemed to be a lot more people this year than there were last year, although I’m not sure why – the weather was about the same, being coldish, cloudy, and dryish, although last year we had a lot more wind, and it was still a midweek thing. And I can’t believe that people got the date wrong, as while it’s usually the 21st the Solstice is sometimes the 22nd, and if you’re going to go watch the sun rise on the Solstice you check the date… *Shrugs* It could just be my memory of course, as last year I remember being amazed that there were a lot fewer people than I had expected, so maybe this year there just felt like more. Eh.
Despite being on my own I had a wonderful time, health issues aside, standing watching the visible patch of sky get lighter, hearing the sound of drums and claves like a heartbeat – a sound that I’d heard gradually get louder as I walked through the circle to the south inner ring, spotting the obvious Pagans among the crowd and wondering how many others were there dressed incognito like myself, the occasional sounds of horns from one of the Druidic groups that were there, and just knowing that I was in a crowd of people who’d all come together to watch a sacred event in a sacred place. This year I also took part in the short open ritual that was held after the sun had cleared the horizon, although I’m not sure which particular Druid group was leading it. A circle started to coalesce which more people joined, and one of the older Druids stepped forward and started to speak about the Solstice and what it meant. I heard maybe about one word in ten though, as the circle was by this point fairly large and his voice wasn’t particularly loud and/or projected. But I caught the general gist, I think. Then a couple of bards came forward and recited poems they’d written recently to honour the Solstice and the returned Sun, and another Druid, possibly from another group than the first who spoke, asked everyone to join hands in the circle and spoke a blessing, to the effect that we’d all come from various places but had come together on this day and in this place, and that not only were we blessed by the newly-risen sun and the lengthening days, but also by fellowship with those around us. Then a bottle of mead was passed around the circle and everyone either took a sip, poured a splash on the ground, or lifeted the bottle in a ‘cheers’ motion before passing it on, before the quarters were remembered/thanked/dismissed and everyone gradually began to disperse.
When the area had emptied a little I crouched down next to one of the stones (the ground being too damp to sit on) and did what Kayleigh did last year, and exposed what I guess you would call my ‘main’ tools to the daylight, having brought them carefully cushioned in bubble wrap in a shoebox. Chalice, wand, broom, boline, tiny athame/candle-inscriber, pentacle, athame, my current Freyja devotional necklace, spirit-shaker (which I also used for a couple of minutes afterwards), one of my Tree of Life necklaces which I keep failing to remember to wear for rituals, and the Yule cord Beth made (which I only then remembered I’d packed, and probably should have been wearing from the start). Everything else that I thought could do with seeing the Solstice sun was spread out on my bed at home, and I’d left the curtains open so the morning light could get in. Tarot cards, fanned out so at least part of the face of every card was visible, runes, crystals, my prayer bead collection, mortar and pestle, the mini-chalice I bought for travelling, scrying bowl, and finger-labyrinth. The only piece I took with me to Avebury that I would otherwise have left on my bed is my small quartz crystal ball, as leaving that out on my bed all day with my flatmate at work, even in indirect wintery sunlight, was just not going to happen.
Having returned everything to the box and the box to the car, taking the opportunity to shift it to the now-opened car park to avoid getting sideswiped by incoming cars, I walked round the entire circle of stones, brushing the fingers of my right hand over all the stones as I passed. I went up to the four trees whose roots intertwine where Kayleigh and I stopped last year, where this year there were two (I’m guessing) National Trust employees cutting down the ribbons and so on that had been tied to the branches and around the roots. I have no problem with this, and I can understand why, as such things can damage the tree as well as pose a danger to any animals or birds moving around it, and I can understand why they’d want it done before the new growth in the spring, but I’d have preferred it if they’d done it not on the Solstice. Day after, no problem, but maybe not on the day when people are likely to want to come and tie something on, or at least just spend time with the trees. Aside from that, the walk was lovely, although I need to remember to wear boots with actual tread next year, as there were several occasions where I slid and nearly fell over.
Pilgrimage completed, I headed for the Circles Cafe run by the National Trust for hot chocolate and jam on toast before having a good long wander and browse around the Henge Shop. I picked up another packet of Faerie incense by Celtic Magic, the first lot of which I bought there last year, and which now just smells like Winter Solstice to me. I also bought myself a labradorite egg, as it’s a crystal I don’t have yet that it’s probably going to be useful to have, and with the peacock flashes I wanted to have a piece that I could turn easily in my hand. Plus it was pretty and only £8. I’d take a photo but it’s currently sitting in a bowl of water soaking the label off. There’s also a lot of books that I want to get, but they will have to wait for better finances or book tokens. I then headed home, arriving about 1 in the afternoon, and promptly fell asleep. Because my body hates me. So, after waking up at about half six feeling groggy I decided that ritual and concentrating on ritual just wasn’t going to happen, but as I’ve got tomorrow off work as well I can do things then, including unpacking my altar items from the shoebox. Although I might light a stick of Faerie incense between now and when I go to bed, or at least partially burn one.