Litha (Summer Solstice) 2009 - Avebury, Glastonbury, Stonehenge and Stony Littleton

This page includes reports and photographs from the various events I attended during the season of Litha in 2009. 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. The season started with two events at Avebury on 20 June - the Cauldron of Cerridwen and the Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri. After little sleep it was down to Glastonbury on 21 June to watch the sunrise from the Tor. And on 24 June it was on to Stonehenge for the Gorsedd of Bards of Cor Gawr. Later the same day it was over to Stony Littleton long barrow, to watch the sun set exactly behind the site, after witnessing it rising directly in front of it six months earlier at Mid-Winter - minimum to maximum. The season finished with a return to Stonehenge on 27 June for the Dolmen Grove late Summer Solstice event.

The Cauldron of Cerridwen at Avebury (20 Jun 2009)

The Summer Solstice Cauldron of Cerridwen ritual was held at Avebury on Saturday 20 June. The group gathered at the Red Lion and individuals made their way to the Sun Circle at midday. Taran welcomed everyone to the event and Saulire read the introductory text. Sian then blessed the altar and asked Woodoak to cast the circle with his sword. The quarters were then called before Willow read a short text, with Fae following with 'Over Hill, Over Dale'. Woodoak invoked Cerridwen in Sian and Raveness invoked Cernunnos into Taran. Owlswing performed Taran's “'Right Now' said Smudger” and then Taran himself advised the circle about the forthcoming pantomime - the battle between the Oak King and the Holly King. The circle was divided in half for support for the two Kings and both entered the circle, in an attempt to gain more support. The fighting began and the Oak King appeared to be the early victor. But this was not to be and the Holly King fought back, only to make the same mistake. A fight to the death then ensued and the Holly King won a glorious victory and an impressive crown from Sian. The King is dead, long live the King! Willow followed by reading a poem called On Midsummer Night. With Gyfu unable to attend due to car problems, Robyn y Glas filled in with his Avebury song. Sian and Taran performed a handfasting next, with Robyn y Glas giving the happy couple a blessing afterwards. Owlswing then stepped forward to bless his athame. With that it was time for ‘cakes and ale’. Taran blessed the juice and Sian blessed the bread and these were brought around the circle. I stepped forward at this point to perform my Summer Solstice poem, sounding my bowl after each verse. Robyn y Glas followed by leading the group in his Summer Solstice chant. The four quarters were then released and Woodoak called back the circle. Everyone finished by joining hands to recite the Druid Vow three times. With that the ritual was over and it was a merry meet, merry part and merry meet again.

Montage of the complete event (Photos: Matthew photo by JohnC)

Setting up in the Sun Circle

Taran welcomes everyone to the event

Saulire reads the introductory text

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

Woodoak casts the circle

Opening the South Quarter

Willow reads a short text

Fae reads 'Over Hill, Over Dale'

Woodoak invokes Cerridwen

Raveness invokes Cernunnos

Owlswing performs Taran's "'Right Now' said Smudger"

Taran prepares the group for some pantomime

The Holly King drums up support

The Oak King drums up support

The fighting begins

The Oak King has the early advantage

The Holly King appears dead, but that's not in the script!

The Holly King springs back to life for the counter-attack

The Holly King thinks he's won

But he has to continue the fighting

This time he has to make a proper job of it

The King is dead, long live the King!

The Holly King receives his crown

The Holly King reads his acceptance speech

The Holly King comes around to thank his supporters

Willow reads On Midsummer Night

Robyn y Glas performs his Avebury song

Taran and Sian perform a handfasting

Robyn y Glas gives the happy couple a blessing

Owlswing blesses his athame

Taran blesses the juice

Sian blesses the bread

Owlswing brings around the bread

Matthew performs his Summer Solstice poem (Photo: JohnC)

Robyn y Glas leads the group in his Summer Solstice chant

Closing the circle

Closing the West Quarter

Woodoak calls back the circle

The Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri (20 Jun 2009)

People met up at the Red Lion and the group processed to the Sun Circle at 14:00. Willth welcomed everyone and started with the call for peace. He then asked for the four directions to be opened by people at the appropriate points within the circle. Terry recited the Druids’ Prayer and the group performed three tones of the Druid Mantra. Neil was called forward for the first bardic performance and he did a song. I was then called in and I debuted my new 80-line pun-filled poem for this the time of high fun. Robyn y Glas then came on to lead the group in his new Summer Solstice chant. Later he came back to do the Avebury song. Willth then introduced us to a special visitor from the East, who performed a mantra-based Solstice blessing, ending with the group performing three Ohms with him. Terry talked about the Avebury Summer Solstice phenomena and what would be happening at the site over the Solstice period and beyond. Willth then got the group to link hands to perform three more tones of the Druid Mantra for world peace, followed by three recitations of the Druid Vow. He asked if there were any other contributions before the quarters were closed again. And the event finished with three cheers for the Summer Solstice. This was a perfect gorsedd and very much better than I had conjured up in my mind at this the time of high chaos!

Montage of the complete event (Photos: Matthew photo by Lori Aberle)

Willth gets ready to announce the event

Getting ready to process to the Sun Circle

Willth welcomes everyone to the event

Willth performs the call for peace

Opening the West Quarter

Opening the North Quarter

Neil does the first bardic performance

Matthew debuts the 80-line pun poem. (Photos: Lori Aberle, Em Churchill, Kes Riyan, JohnC and Andrea Graham)

Robyn y Glas leads the group in his Summer Solstice chant

A visitor from the East performs a Solstice blessing

Terry talks about the Avebury Summer Solstice phenomena

Willth asks the group to link hands to perform three tones of the Druid Mantra

Closing the West Quarter

Closing the South Quarter

Three cheers for the Summer Solstice

Sunrise on Glastonbury Tor (21 Jun 2009)

A large group gathered on Glastonbury Tor to view the sunrise. The sun was around 15 minutes later than expected due to low cloud.


(Video: mikesey)

Waiting for the sun

12-times Optical Zoom

A sign of things to come

12-times Optical Zoom

First sign of the sun

12-times Optical Zoom

The sun is breaking through

12-times Optical Zoom

The sun is breaking through

Gaining in strength

12-times Optical Zoom

Gaining in strength

12-times Optical Zoom

Gaining in strength

Gaining in strength

Descending the Tor

I'm not sure who Tina is but the morning sun illuminated her name on Chalice Hill!

The Gorsedd of Bards of Cor Gawr for Alban Hefin (24 Jun 2009)

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. The group of 60 or so members and friends of the Druid Network met in the Stonehenge car park and processed into the site at 04:30. Stopping just before the monument, people entered the stones one-by-one after pausing to reflect on the day. Those waiting to enter had the chance to see the red dawn sky building in power behind the Heel Stone. Once the circle had formed up, everyone was welcomed and the call for peace was made in Welsh and English. The quarters were then opened and the three worlds and ancestors welcomed in. Any offerings were requested to be added to the centre of the circle. Everyone then turned to honour the sun, as it started to move above the horizon and up behind the Heel Stone. The circle re-formed and people were invited to say what they would be doing with the energy the season was giving them. Rainbow drew some of the dawn into a chalice of water and then anointed everyone in the circle. It was then time to honour the season with noise. People came forward with their drums and other instruments and danced around the centre of the circle. I had one of my Tibetan bowls with me and so I played that. Firevixxen then read a poem.

The group had a chance to remember anyone who has passed over this year. I entered the centre and gave a blessing in front of the rising mid-summer sun for Elaine Cottell, who had lost her long fight against cancer. Volunteers were then asked to step forward to be initiated into The Gorsedd of Bards of Cor Gawr. More than a dozen accepted and they formed an outward facing circle, with everyone else closing in around them. They had to recite an initiation text before the rest of the group toned the Awen three times around them. They then rejoined the rest of the circle as the newest bards of Cor Gawr. There was no handfasting today but Richard and Grace stepped forward to have their relationship blessed. The mead and bread were then blessed. Whilst the mead horns and bread were being taken around the circle, the floor was opened for bardic performances. I took the first spot, performing my 2009 pun poem, at this the time of high fun. Jenny followed with one of her beautiful songs. Another lovely song came from a lady within the circle and Jenny’s dad Ray came forward to read some Wordsworth. With that the links to the ancestors and three worlds were closed, followed by the four quarters. Only three minutes of the two-hour period was left and so there was only a short time to mingle amongst the stones and admire the increasingly strong sun. Overall, it was well worth getting up at 03:00 for this event!

Montage of the complete event

Meeting up in the car park

Walking through the famous psychedelic tunnel

The red dawn sky behind the Heel Stone

Entering the temple one by one

Inside the stones and waiting for everyone else to enter

Forming up the circle

The call for peace

The sky glows ever more

Opening the North Quarter

Daylight increasing inside the stones

The call to the three worlds

The call to the ancestors

Offerings placed in the centre

Offerings placed in the centre

Offerings placed in the centre

Stopping to honour the sunrise

Stopping to honour the sunrise

Drawing the dawn into the chalice of water

In front of the rising sun

The sun grows in power

Everyone is anointed with the water

Everyone is anointed with the water

Celebrating the season with drumming

Celebrating the season with drumming

Firevixxen reads a poem

Bardic Initiation

A blessing for Richard and Grace

Blessing of the bread and mead

Jenny maxes out with one of her beautiful songs

Another beautiful song

Closing the links to the three worlds

Closing the South Quarter

Removing any non-biodegradable offerings

The sun now shines brightly

Mid-Summer Sunset at Stony Littleton

Starting the day with a Stonehenge sunrise, it seemed fitting to finish with a more local Stony Littleton sunset. This long barrow is famously aligned to the rising Mid-Winter sun. The first picture below shows this phenomenon occurring in 2007, even though the sun was very milky because of thick fog. The second photo is from the same day in 2008, when low cloud obscured the sun but a few rays of light were still able to enter the monument. A Mid-Winter sunrise is directly opposite the Mid-Summer sunset. So for the first time I have been able to photograph the sun setting behind Stony Littleton long barrow. The rest of the photographs in this section were taken over the course of around 15 minutes. It was a good feeling to have been there to witness the minimum sun at the beginning of the solar cycle to the maximum sun half way through this annual cycle.

The milky Mid-Winter 2007 rising sun illuminates the chamber

A few rays of light from the Mid-Winter 2008 sun illuminate the chamber

The sun makes the Awen symbol as it sets behind the long barrow

The sun makes the Awen symbol as it sets behind the long barrow

12-Times Optical Zoom

The sun has now almost set

The set sun on the horizon appears as a glow above the long barrow entrance

The set sun on the horizon appears as a glow above the long barrow entrance

The set sun on the horizon appears as a glow above the long barrow entrance

The set sun on the horizon appears as a glow above the long barrow entrance

An orange sky remains behind

The Dolmen Grove at Stonehenge (27 Jun 2009)

The final meeting of the season was the Dolmen Grove Summer Solstice event at Stonehenge. The group assembled in a private area of the car park and started to form up for the procession just before midday. 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 monument field. As is traditional, the procession encircled the stones before entering the monument. The group then circled the stones from the inside and formed a circle as everybody entered. Taloch Introduced the ‘Not I, Nor Thee’ and drummed the group through the chant. He then selected people from the circle to call in Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Taloch then called me forward to do one of my poems. I had agonised over which one to perform for some weeks, but eventually decided on the Life Observations 1 poem. With so much light available at this time we can look around and smile at the situations we find ourselves in. Taloch then introduced Geshe Lama Ahbay Rinpoche, a visitor from Tibet who is on a fund raising tour of the UK. He entered the centre to perform a blessing.

It was then time for the Talking Stick. Mike took his staff around the circle and anyone with something to say or perform was able to do so. The children of the group were then asked to step into the centre. Taloch performed a blessing for them, while the rest of the group held hands and toned a sound. All the drummers were then asked to step forward and sit in a circle. Taloch performed a blessing for his recently departed mother Doreen Nutman (Granbo), again with the group holding hands and toning. A song was sung for Doreen and the group recited a Dolmen Grove prayer for her. Mike and partner were then asked to step forward so their new seeds of life could be blessed! With that there were just a few minutes to mingle in the stones before re-forming the procession and heading back through the crowds to the car park. Overall this was an incredible event - in the best location with wonderful people and excellent weather. With little time to spare I headed on to Bath for the open day at the Combe Down Tunnel.

Montage of the complete event (Matthew and Midnighter Photos: Lori Aberle)

Meeting up in the Stonehenge carpark

Meeting up in the Stonehenge carpark

Starting the procession

Struggling through the crowds

Into the tunnel

Into the monument field

Into the monument field

The procession goes around the monument sun-wise

The procession goes around the monument sun-wise

Entering the monument

Forming up inside the monument

Forming up inside the monument

Taloch introduces the "Not I, Nor Thee"

Taloch takes the group through the "Not I, Nor Thee"

The energy of Air opens the East

The energy of Fire opens the South

The energy of Water opens the West

The energy of Earth opens the North

Matthew performs the 80-line Life Observations 1 poem (Photos: Lori Aberle)

Taloch introduces Geshe Lama Ahbay Rinpoche

A blessing from the East

The Talking Stick goes around the circle

The Talking Stick goes around the circle

The Talking Stick goes around the circle

The Talking Stick goes around the circle

The Talking Stick goes around the circle

The Talking Stick goes around the circle

The Talking Stick goes around the circle

The Talking Stick goes around the circle

The Talking Stick goes around the circle

The Talking Stick goes around the circle

The Talking Stick goes around the circle

The Talking Stick goes around the circle

Midnighter grabs the Talking Stick (Photo: Lori Aberle)

The children are brought to the centre of the circle for a blessing

A circle of drummers is then formed for several blessings

A song for Taloch's departed mother Doreen Nutman (Granbo)

Taloch blesses Mike and partner's new seed of life!

Visiting crystal skulls

Processing out of the stones

Processing out of the stones

We created a lot of interest for the tourists

Processing back to the car park

Processing back to the car park

Processing back to the car park

Processing back to the car park

Another superb Dolmen event is over


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Page last updated: 20 Jun 2010