Litha (Summer Solstice) 2011 - Avebury, Glastonbury and Stonehenge

This page includes reports and photographs from the various events I attended during the season of Litha in 2011. 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 18 June - the Cauldron of Cerridwen and the Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri. On 21 June I took an hour's walk at sunrise and managed to catch a glimpse of the sun in an otherwise very cloudy sky. Later that day I visited Glastonbury for the Chalice Well Summer Solstice event. I returned to Stonehenge on 23 June for an event with the Genesis Order of Druids. The following morning it was back to Stonehenge for the Gorsedd of Bards of Cor Gawr at sunrise. The season finished with a return to Stonehenge on 26 June for the Dolmen Grove event.

The Cauldron of Cerridwen Ritual at Avebury (18 Jun 2011)

The Cauldron of Cerridwen Summer Solstice event took place at Avebury on Saturday 18 June. The group met at the Red Lion and then moved into the Sun Circle to set up. Prior to the event starting Oakroot took the group through a chant that would be used later in the session. Owlswing welcomed everyone to the event and Sian followed by blessing the altar. Saulire stepped forward with the sword, before walking around the circle to cast it. The four quarters were then opened by individuals from the circle, with me taking West. Carricks invoked Cerridwen and Tyto invoked Cernunnos. The Charge of the Goddess saw Sian welcoming the Lady, leading to the Charge of the God with Taran welcoming the Lord.

Oakroot talked about the season and how the chant would be used. Sian then came into the centre to talk about the next phase - with pairs of people selecting from four herbs and then grinding them and placing the result in a larger vessel. The herbs would link to things people wished to manifest, following on from requests made at Ostara. The group linked hands and performed the chant, while Raveness and Carricks took pairs of people from and back to the circle. Whilst away these people added their ground herb selections to the total. When everyone was back in the circle Sian and Taran took all the herbs and poured them into the burning cauldron to manifest all the wishes. The chanting completed and everyone threw their hands up in the air.

Lucara and Raveness represented Oak and Holly. They then swapped places to signify moving from the Oak half of the year to the Holly half of the year. Taran then blessed the juice and Sian blessed the bread and their distribution commenced. Owlswing stepped forward with a joke and then Taran asked me to perform my Summer Solstice poem. Steve the Stag followed with a talk about recent astronomical events at Avebury. The Druid Vow was performed following distribution of the excellent bread and juice. The God and Goddess were then thanked, the four quarters were released and Saulire returned with the sword to release the circle once again. The event concluded with a short singing session from Tyto.

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

Owlswing starts things off

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

Saulire casts the circle

Opening the South Quarter

Invoking Cerridwen and Cernunnos

Oakroot talks about the season

Sian explains about the next phase

Chanting whilst people go two at a time to select their herbs

Selection and grinding of the herbs

All the herbs are poured into the fire

The chanting ends as the herbs burn

Lucara and Raveness act out the changing from the oak half of the year to the holly

Taran blesses the juice

Sian blesses the bread

Owlswing tells a joke

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

Steve the Stag talks about recent astronomical events at Avebury

Closing the circle

Closing the East Quarter

Saulire calls back the circle

The Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri (18 Jun 2011)

The Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri took place on Saturday 18 June. The group met at the Red Lion and then processed to the Sun Circle. Willth welcomed everyone to the event and immediately performed the Call For Peace. He then asked for each of the four quarters to be opened. Anne Marie took East, with Sunbird on South, Merlin on West and Kate on North. Willth then connected to the ancestors and the three worlds, before asking everyone to link hands to perform three recitals of the Druid Vow and three tones of the Druid Mantra. Merlin followed with a short talk about the season of Summer Solstice.

Robyn y Glas performed a new song and I followed with another performance of my Summer Solstice poem. Jennie performed a new song and would return to perform it again once father Ray was in the circle. A healing circle was next. Healing was requested for Terry in the aftermath of his stroke and everyone had the opportunity to request healing for people in their lives. Some paper was also circulated so everyone could send Terry a 'get well soon' message. The group linked hands again and performed three tones of the Druid Mantra. Willth then blessed the mead and began its circulation around the circle. Linda came on to do one of her poems, Janet read from one of her works and Mark performed two of his poems. With the sun out at this point, Willth asked everyone to Hail the Sun three times. Robyn y Glas came on again to perform his best known song. Willth started to wind the event down at this point. He thanked the spirits that had graced the circle and asked for the quarters to be closed. And it was then three cheers for Summer Solstice.

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

Willth welcomes everyone to the event

Willth performs the Call For Peace

Sunbird opens the South Quarter

Merlin talks about the season

Robyn y Glas performs a new song

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

Jennie performs a new song

Willth blesses the mead

Linda performs one of poems

Janet reads from one of her works

Mark performs two of his poems

All hail the sun

Robyn y Glas performs his best known song

Willth begins to wind things down

Kate closes the North Quarter

Three cheers for Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice Dawn Walk (21 Jun 2011)

Glimpses of the sun in the very cloudy sky

Summer Solstice at Chalice Well (21 Jun 2011)

A good-sized crowd assembled around the wellhead at Chalice Well at midday. Following the silent minute Jacqueline Redmond welcomed everyone and talked about the season and read a short text. A group silent meditation then began in light rain. Once this was over I performed an alternative version of my Summer Solstice poem. The sun came out as the event was concluding and afterwards there was chat and refreshments in front of a small fire down on the main lawn.

Montage of the complete event (Photo of Matthew by Celtic Inspiration)

Gathering at the wellhead

Jacqueline talks about Summer Solstice

Matthew performs his Summer Solstice poem (Photo: Celtic Inspiration)

Walking down to the lower gardens

Conversation Cafe

The Vesica Pool

Collecting water

The Genesis Order of Druids at Stonehenge (23 Jun 2011)

The Genesis Order of Druids held its Summer Solstice event at Stonehenge on 23 June. The group met in the overflow car park and processed into the temple site, once the signal had been given by English Heritage staff. The group walked around the structure clockwise before entering the stones from a gateway in the East. A circle formed up inside and Archdruid Steve and Archdruidess Mel welcomed everyone to the event. The quarters were then opened and Swordbearer James performed the Call For Peace. Four people were completing their year and a day training on this day - Kim, Alana, Sally and Womble. James brought them forward and they were admitted to the Order, once their measure from a year earlier had been returned to them. DrumNation were asked to perform to raise the energy within the circle, which caused some people to get up and dance. This was followed with everyone linking hands and toning the Awen around the new members of the Order.

Two new trainees were then brought into the circle. Steve and Mel took their measure, which would be buried in the Earth for a year and day before being returned. The group linked hands again and performed the Druid Vow around the new trainees. The Victory Morris Men took centre stage next and performed several dances, with excellent musical accompaniment. I was called to perform next and did a revised version of my Summer Solstice poem. Next it was time for the twice-yearly battle between the Holly and Oak Kings (Ean and Ben). The Holly King eventually won the fight and will now reign for the next six months. Storyteller Jonathon came on next with his Summer Story, assisted with some drumming. Next the bread and libation were blessed. Steve brought the wonderful bread around the circle and Priestess Evelyne brought around the honey wine. Other people kindly distributed their own offerings of cake. Priest Nick performed an impromptu dedication to his beloved, before reading the Sol’s Journey poem from the Druid Network. The multi-talented Victory Morris Men then returned for a solar song. There was an opportunity to read out requests for healing and to make any announcements. James revealed that he was taking someone under his wing for sword bearer training. With that it was time to wind things down. The quarters were closed and Steve and Mel thanked everyone for coming. There was a short time to mingle in the stones before processing back to the car park. Overall a wonderful two hour event.

Montage of the complete event (Photo of Matthew by Womble Xb)

Getting ready in the car park

Getting ready in the car park

The procession begins

Heading towards the turnstiles

The stones are within sight

Circling around the stones

Circling around the stones

Entering the temple

Entering the temple

Setting up inside the temple

Setting up inside the temple

Opening the East Quarter

James performs the Call For Peace

Four people complete their year and a day training

DrumNation raise the energy

Dancing to DrumNation

Two new trainees are measured up

Dancing with the Victory Morris Men

Dancing with the Victory Morris Men

Dancing with the Victory Morris Men

Dancing with the Victory Morris Men

Matthew performs his poem (Photo: Womble Xb)

The Oak and Holly Kings have their twice-yearly fight

The Oak and Holly Kings have their twice-yearly fight

The Holly King reigns supreme!

Jonathon tells a Summer Story

Steve distributes the wonderful bread

Nick performs a dedication to his beloved

Nick reads a poem from the Druid Network

The Victory Morris Men return for a song

Closing the South Quarter

Steve and Mel thank everyone for attending

DrumNation pose for a photo

The Genesis crew pose for a photo (Photo: Joshua Clause)

DrumNation drum a bit more

Preparing to process back to the car park

On the way out of the temple site

On the way out of the temple site

The Gorsedd of Bards of Cor Gawr at Stonehenge (24 Jun 2011)

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 90 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 temple, people entered the stones one-by-one after pausing to reflect on the day and to be anointed with water by Firevixen. Once the circle had formed up, Rainbow welcomed everyone to the event. There was then a pause for us to watch the sun rise up behind the Heelstone. Lisa honoured the sun as the group came back together again. She then asked for any offerings to be placed on the stones in the centre of the site.

Rainbow asked for the Call For Peace to be performed and this was done in Welsh and English. The quarters were opened and the three worlds welcomed in. Wilf called on the ancestors and gave everyone a chance to remember people who had passed over or anyone who was in need of healing or help. The Cor Gawr team then put on a type of play. Four of them represented the elements and the two others posed as travellers. Each element challenged the travellers to see how they would make use of that particular substance. It was decided that the travellers had passed the task and so Firevixen allowed them a drink from the chalice. The group joined hands and recited the Druid Vow. And the energy was raised with a session of drumming and use of other instruments. Volunteers were then asked to step forward to be initiated into The Gorsedd of Bards of Cor Gawr. The volunteers 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 did three tones of the Awen around them. They then rejoined the rest of the circle as the newest Bards of Cor Gawr. This was followed by the handfasting of Nathascha and Mario.

Rainbow then asked for the mead and bread to be blessed. Whilst the mead horn and bread were being taken around the circle, the floor was opened for bardic performances. I took the first spot, performing my Summer Solstice poem. My poem was followed by a song with call and response, a song in spoken form, drumming and chanting from Nathascha and Mario and a 2003 poem read by Trish. Author Kit Berry also stepped forward to make an announcement. She advised that due to the inspiration she had received that morning at Stonehenge, book five in her Stonewylde series would be started later that morning! Firevixen signalled the event was drawing to a close and advised everyone to have a safe journey back. With that the quarters were closed, the ancestors thanked and access to the three worlds closed. Rainbow declared the gorsedd over. Around 10 minutes of the two-hour access were left for us to be within the stones and we used this to catch up with new friends and old. Another excellent event and well worth the 03:00 ring of the alarm clock!

Montage of the complete event

Meeting in the car park at dawn

Processing through the tunnel

Waiting to enter the temple

Forming up the circle

Forming up the circle

Waiting for the Midsummer sun to rise

Waiting for the Midsummer sun to rise

The sun appears above the Heelstone

The sun appears above the Heelstone

The sun appears above the Heelstone

Lisa honours the sun

Offerings are placed in the centre of the site

Performing the Call for Peace

Opening the West Quarter

Accessing the three worlds

Calling to the Ancestors

Two travellers are asked how they would use each of the four elements

The travellers pass the test and are allowed to drink from the chalice

Drumming and other music

Those to be initiated into the Gorsedd enter the centre

Nathascha and Mario get handfasted

Nathascha and Mario get handfasted

Blessing of the bread and mead

Matthew performs his Summer Solstice poem (Photo: Celtic Inspiration)

A song with call and response

A song in spoken form

Drumming and chanting from Nathascha and Mario

Trish reads one of her poems from 2003

Firevixen signals the event is nearing its end

Wilf says farewell to the ancestors

Closing access to the three worlds

Closing the East Quarter

The Dolmen Grove at Stonehenge (26 Jun 2011)

The final scheduled event of the season was the Dolmen Grove Mid-Summer 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 11:45. 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 the circle. Taloch welcomed everyone and drummed the ‘Not I, Nor Thee’ with people from the circle calling in Air, Fire, Water and Earth. The four quarters were then opened. At this point Taloch suggested that everyone should sit down because of the hot weather. Taloch called in a visiting group called the Odhroerir Kindred to chant the runes of the Elder Futhark - as a healing and harmonising contribution to Stonehenge and all of humanity. A mead libation was poured as an offering to that from which we originate, so that our bond was continued and strengthened. This was followed by a period of contemplation to allow the ancestors to join us. Following this Taloch called me forward to do the first poetry performance - the final outing for the Summer Solstice poem in 2011. This had been edited especially for the event and I preceded the performance with a talk about the daily decline in the sun and how 26 June was providing a minute less light whereas 26 December had provided a minute of additional light. As last year I was followed by chanting from the excellent quartet of Tania, Anarcho, Kate and Sharon. It was then decided to have a break before continuing with the next phase of the event.

The group came back together and Taloch led a drumming session to raise the energy in the circle. Everyone was encouraged to tone the OM sound while this was going on. Merlin entered the centre to perform the Call For Peace. There was then a short story of creation and evolution, through patriarchy and matriarchy to modern duality, with Taloch and Diane. This ended in a prayer. Linda performed her Solstice poem and Taloch led the group in drumming and toning of a mantra. This was followed by a talk from Mandy, Chair of the Dolmen Grove. She spoke about some of the things that had been going on recently and changes that would be affecting everyone over the coming weeks. The group then did three tones of the Druid Mantra, with Taloch drumming three times for each. Next up was the Talking Stick. Taloch passed a drum stick around the circle and everyone was encouraged to say something. I spoke about my two roles of being a bard and maintaining a pagan archive. There was also a tail about Welsh druidry that led to a direct call to the spirits. The two hours had flown by and so it was now time to close the quarters and process out of the stones. The grouped 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 could not have been better.

Montage of the complete event (Photo of Matthew by Dawn Baker)

Meeting up in the car park

Meeting up in the car park

The procession begins to move

Approaching the ticket barriers

Emerging from the tunnel

Entering the temple field

Entering the stones

Spiralling within the stones

Forming up the circle

Forming up the circle

Taloch welcomes everyone

Taloch drums the "Not I, Nor Thee"

Opening the West Quarter

The Odhroerir Kindred chant the runes of the Elder Futhark

The Odhroerir Kindred chant the runes of the Elder Futhark

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

Chants from the quartet of Tania, Anarcho, Kate and Sharon

Most people sit down because of the heat

Taloch leads a drumming session

Merlin performs the Call For Peace

A story of creation leading to a contemporary prayer, with Taloch and Diane

A story of creation leading to a contemporary prayer, with Taloch and Diane

Linda performs her Solstice work

Taloch leads the group in drumming and toning a mantra

Taloch leads the group in drumming and toning a mantra

A talk from Mandy - Chair of the Dolmen Grove

The talking stick led to a tail of Welsh druids and this call to spirits

The Talking Stick makes it way around

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

Back in the overflow car park


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Page last updated: 24 Jun 2012