Mabon/Autumn Equinox 2009 - Avebury and Stonehenge

This page includes reports and photographs from the various events I attended during the season of Mabon/Autumn Equinox in 2009. This report is dedicated to the memory of Iain Cuthbertson, who died on 4 September. Without 1977's Children of Stones it's unlikely I would ever have started out on this path. See later for more Children of the Stones news! This celebration at 22 September see the sun rising due east but only rising to its half way point. The season is the second of three harvest festivals, sitting between Lammas and Samhain. For the next six months there will be more dark than light, with the light ever declining until Winter Solstice. Mornings and evenings are increasingly dark. The season started on 19 September at Avebury with the Cauldron of Cerridwen and the Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri. It was back to Avebury the following day for the Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri and then a wait until Wednesday 23rd for Managed Open Access at Stonehenge.

Update 1 Oct 2009: Seven images from Jim Pearson added to the Stonehenge section.
Update 9 Oct 2009: Added a link to Kev Warner's five videos in the Stonehenge section.
Update 7 Nov 2009: Alternative photo montage in the Avebury Gorsedd of Bards section.

The Cauldron of Cerridwen at Avebury (19 Sep 2009)

The Mabon Cauldron of Cerridwen ritual was held at Avebury on Saturday 19 September. Individuals made their way to the Sun Circle and the event got underway following some late arrivals. Taran welcomed everyone to the ceremony and Lucara read the introductory text. Sian then blessed the altar and asked Woodoak to cast the circle with his sword. The quarters were called, before Sian and Taran read out short statements about the season. Woodoak invoked Cerridwen in Sian and Raveness invokes Cernunnos into Taran. The Lord and Lady were then welcomed into the circle with the Charge of the Goddess and God. Sian then advised the group about the new seasonal celebration. She asked for the person who was impersonating the Sun God to step forward. In his final performance, Saulire revealed it was him and he was crowned in this role. Sian then asked who was impersonating the Dark Lord. Owlswing stepped forward. Saulire then agreed to yield his power to Owlswing in this role. Owlswing thanked him but asked him to light the fire for just one more night. Sian then said farewell to the Sun God as he was cast away under a black cloak. 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. Tyto read the Harvest poem by Ena and Arthur stepped forward to appeal for support at the Stonehenge protest - signatures, letters, visits and finance. I then performed my Autumn Equinox poem, the first time in circle I had done a seasonal poem from memory. All will now be done this way following the success of the memorised whimsical works. Robyn y Glas then performed his Windmill Hill song on guitar and Taran gave thanks for the children who had been born to members of the group in recent times. The Goddess and God were then thanked and the four quarters released, with Woodoak calling 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, with Arthur having the final word.

Montage of the complete event

Forming up the circle

Taran welcomes everyone to the event

Lucara reads the introductory text

Sian blesses the altar

Woodoak casts the circle

Opening the East Quarter

Opening the South Quarter

Opening the North Quarter

Taran reads out a statement about the season

Woodoak invokes Cerridwen in Sian

Raveness invokes Cernunnos into Taran

Charge of the Goddess

Charge of the God

Saulire is crowned as the Sun God

Owlswing steps forward as the Dark Lord

Saulire agrees to yield his power

Owlswing accepts his new role but asks for the fire to burn for one more night

Sian says farewell to the Sun God

Taran blesses the ale

Sian blesses the bread

Tyto reads a Harvest poem by Ena

The cakes and ale make their way around the circle

Arthur appeals for support at Stonehenge

Matthew performs his Autumn Equinox poem (Photos: Lori Aberle and John C)

Robyn y Glas performs his Windmill Hill song

Taran gives thanks for recent arrivals in the group

Thanking Goddess and God

Closing the East Quarter

Closing the South Quarter

Woodoak calls back the circle

A merry meet, merry part and merry meet again

Arthur had the final word

The Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri (19 Sep 2009)

People met up again at the Red Lion and the group processed to the Sun Circle at around 14:00. Willth welcomed everyone and performed the Call for Peace. Quarter callers had already been appointed and so these were opened at this point. The group linked hands to recite the Druid Vow three times, followed by a performance of three tones of the Druid Mantra. Robyn y Glas was then called in to lead the group in his new Mabon chant. Willth blessed the mead and bread before arranging for them to be distributed around the circle. It was then time for my performance, where I re-capped on the year’s poetry so far before moving into the new 80-line Misnomers 2 poem. Robyn y Glas returned to perform another song and Ray followed with an Equinox poem. There was then an opportunity for people to ask for distance healing and the group linked hands to perform three more tones of the Druid Mantra. Announcements followed, including one from Arthur’s Astrologer Royal, who talked about past and future events. Willth also reminded the group about the Gorsedd of Bards the following afternoon and Managed Open Access at Stonehenge on Wednesday 23rd. He also advised everyone that the Free and Open Gorsedd is the longest-running Avebury seasonal event and that he hopes it will continual forever. He noted how many children were present and suggested one of them could be running the event one day. Following three more tones of the Druid Mantra and a final request for peace, the quarters were closed and people made their way back to the Red Lion. I had a huge surprise immediately following this event - see the next section!

Montage of the complete event

Meeting up at the Red Lion

Processing to the Sun Circle

Forming up the circle

Forming up the circle

The full circle (Photo supplied by: Peter Demin)

Willth welcomes everyone to the event

Performing the Call for Peace

Opening the South Quarter

Opening the North Quarter

Robyn y Glas leads the group in his Mabon chant

What's better than blessing a bottle of mead? Blessing two bottles!

Willth blesses the bread

Matthew debuts the Misnomers 2 poem (Photos: Lori Aberle, John C and Chris Wormald)

Robyn y Glas performs another of his songs

Robyn y Glas performs another of his songs

Willth invites Ray into the centre

Ray performs an Equinox poem

Arthur's Astrologer Royal talks about past and future events

Closing the North Quarter

Closing the South Quarter

Closing the South Quarter (Photo supplied by: Peter Demin)

Closing the North Quarter

As Above, So Below

The event is over

Children of the Stones Special!

I had a real surprise immediately following the Free and Open Gorsedd. No TV programme has affected me more than 1977's Children of the Stones. In recent months I've exchanged a small amount of correspondence with the child lead from the programme - Peter Demin. Imagine my surprise when he approached me directly following this Gorsedd! His last visit to Avebury had been in 1986 - 10 years after filming on the programme. 23 years later he was here again. It was lovely to share my love for the programme in-person and we joked about some of the most memorial lines. Peter asked his wife Tania to take a couple of pictures of him with me and another druid - Evelyne Baillie. What a lovely way to remember an encounter I never thought could possibly happen! How about Gareth Thomas next time lol? I’d always wanted to let Peter know how much of a hero his character Matthew had been to me when I was growing up. As an eight year-old Children of the Stones completely freaked me, both on original transmission and when watching on my own for the later repeat on Wednesdays. There are very few programmes for children that could both excite and scare adults as well. This was certainly one of them. A ground-breaking programme with a very high reputation. Others with a similar reputation also generally came from the HTV stable, which had a run of quality hits at that time. Something that will never be seen again as the TV industry has changed so much. After watching the programme I decided I was pagan and made a huge fuss about going to church until I eventually got out of it. I was then a solitary pagan until many years later the internet revealed what was going on. I started going public just a few years ago. I researched events by looking at photos and videos. If it felt right then I would go along. Now I’m quite well known at the different events and obviously I am a druid and bard. Avebury is actually my centre of operations. Indeed I always think of Children of the Stones when coming to Avebury. Not only was the programme made in the village but it had lots of imagery of adults holding hands and chanting in ritual. My eight-year-old mind could never have anticipated that one day I would be there doing the same thing myself! Following the programme I became more and more technical, just like Peter’s character. First with the early LEGO Technic and then early home computers. I wanted to be just as brainy as my namesake in the programme. I went on to both work in computers and write about them, as well as visiting Avebury on dozens of occasions. No TV programme could ever affect me as much as Children of the Stones has.

Matthew and Evelyne Baillie with Peter on 19 Sep 2009 (Photo supplied by: Peter Demin)

Peter in 2009 with some of the Avebury landscape behind him (Photo supplied by: Peter Demin)

Peter in 2009 - not thrown across the field, unlike his father in the programme! (Photo supplied by: Peter Demin)

Peter in 2009 with host Andrew at The Lodge (Photo supplied by: Andrew Blackall)

Peter in 2009 with wife Tania outside The Lodge (Photo supplied by: Andrew Blackall)

The Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri (2 Aug 2009)

The Mabon ritual of the Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri was held at Avebury on Sunday 20 September. The group formed up at the National Trust Cafe. Morgan welcomed everyone and roles were nominated. The silent procession to the Entrance Stones then began. Alison took on the role of Avebury Guardian and led the procession, ending by sitting in the Goddess Seat. Morgan led a few minutes of drumming to allow everyone to tune into the site. Willth then stepped forward to be first to ask for permission for the group to enter the site. Morgan made some offerings and I followed, along with Ray, Jennie and many others. The Guardian granted permission and myself and Willth made an archway with staffs and everyone processed through to the Ring Stone. Morgan welcomed everyone to the main circle and asked everyone to say “I Am” and the archetype they represent. Willth joined her for the Call for Peace in English and Welsh from North clockwise, with the rest of the group confirming. Finishing with a call to all the worlds seen and unseen. The four quarters were then opened, with me taking South.

Morgan talked about the season and its theme of balance. The group linked hands to perform the Druid Vow as well as to tone the Awen three times. The Sun God then appeared, dancing around the circle. Quickly followed by the Dark Lady. The Dark Lady soon dominated and other people entered the circle to dance with her. Everyone was then asked to take some incense and add it to the smouldering cauldron with a thought about something that needs to leave them. This was followed by Morgan distributing seeds and everyone burying theirs in the ground. Morgan, Alison and Ray blessed the apples, bread and mead and then began their distribution around the circle. While this was going on, Jennie showed how she had mastered the unusual flute that John C had challenged her to learn at a previous event. Morgan then asked for bardic performances. I stepped forward and did my Autumn Equinox poem, advising the group that a special performance of it would be appearing on Shamanic Freedom Radio later that week. Jennie then performed a song on a mixture of flute and guitar. Steve had an unusual experience earlier in the event and stepped forward to tell the group about it. Patricia played a song on her flute, Ray performed an Equinox text and a final contribution came in as a thought about how many situations are actually life or death. With that the quarters were closed anti-clockwise from North. Morgan asked everyone to add their voice to the Avebury landscape. And it just remained for the area to be cleaned up before people started to make their way home.

Montage of the complete event

Meeting up at the National Trust Cafe (Photo: John C)

Processing to the Entrance Stones

Processing to the Entrance Stones

Processing to the Entrance Stones

Processing to the Entrance Stones

Alison settles into her role as Guardian

The group tunes into the site

Morgan ends the drumming

Willth makes the first offering and asks for permission for the group to enter

Morgan makes the second offering

Ray offers a loaf of bread to the Guardian

Jennie makes her offering

Additional offerings are made

The Guardian gives permission for everyone to enter the stones

Processing to the Ring Stone

Setting up around the Ring Stone

Morgan welcomes everyone to the event

Willth and Morgan perform the Call for Peace

Opening the North Quarter

Morgan talks about the season and its theme of balance

The Sun God shows his strength

The Dark Lady makes an appearance

The two battle

The Dark Lady wins and others join to dance with her

The Dark Lady wins and others join to dance with her

The Dark Lady wins and others join to dance with her (Photo: John C)

Adding incense to the cauldron

Morgan distributes seeds to everyone

Everyone now has a seed

Planting the seeds in the ground

Blessing the apples, bread and mead

Morgan starts to cut open the apples (Photo: John C)

Distribution of the apples, bread and mead

Jennie shows she's mastered John C's unusual flute

Matthew performs his Autumn Equinox poem (Photos: John C)

Jennie maxes out with a seasonal song (Additional photos by John C)

Steve talks about something he felt earlier in the ritual

Pauline plays her flute

Ray recites some seasonal text

A thought about how important most things really are

The event begins to wind down

Closing the North Quarter

Closing the East Quarter

Morgan asks everyone to leave their voice in the landscape

Everyone leaves their voice in the landscape

One of many group photos taken at the end of the event (Photo: John C)

Managed Open Access at Stonehenge - 23 Sep 2009

Stonehenge Managed Open Access for the Autumn Equinox was for the sunrise on 23 September, following the sun taking around 12 hours to travel from the previous night’s sunset. Quite a large crowd gathered on the Drove and access to the car park was granted earlier than expected. The procession soon began - through the ticket barriers and tunnel and into the monument field. With the main circle formed up, Taloch drummed in the quarters with the ‘Not I Nor Thee’. Rollo then welcomed everyone to Stonehenge and performed the Call for Peace in the four directions. It was then into the first three tones of the Druid Mantra, with Rollo wondering if another explanation for its meaning was required. It was, as plenty of new people were present. Rollo then read a seasonal work before asking Cas to enter the circle to help him perform an invocation. They then lifted up the cauldron of flowers for the group to bless with the Druid Mantra. Rollo read out a tribute to John Michell, who had died a few months previously. He recommended people to look out for his final book - How The World Is Made.

Rollo then called me in to perform my Autumn Equinox poem, but not before noting that a Volvo with its lights on was about to be towed away! I was really pleased with my final performance of the work for this season - a lot of positive energy seemed to be supporting me. Arthur and Cas then entered to perform a rhyming work related to their ongoing protest about the return of excavated bones to the site. The group then linked hands for the Druids’ Vow and another performance of the Druid Mantra. Rollo reminded the group of the Free West Papua campaign and the events of Summer Solstice at Stonehenge. In particular, how our Druid Mantra is used in a different way. Pictures from that event may be found here and here. Ray then came in to recite his Equinox text. With that the quarters were closed again and Rollo reminded everyone to come back for the Winter Solstice. There was plenty of time then to mingle amongst the stones and to have smaller, private circles. Several handfastings were also performed. Access was available until just after 08:00. Just before the last group left the site, Rollo led three tones of the Druid Mantra in a final circle. After arriving back at the car I was reminded that Wildfox had given me one of his incredible loaves of bread as I had arrived on the Drove earlier. Yum! Kev Warner filmed some video footage of the event. Five excellent short videos can be viewed on this link.

Montage of the complete event

Processing through the tunnel

Entering the stones

Getting organised (Photo: Jim Pearson)

Matthew and Taloch wait for things to begin (Photo: Jules Pearson)

Taloch drums in the quarters with the 'Not I Nor Thee'

Taloch introduces Rollo (Photo: Jim Pearson)

Rollo welcomes everyone to Stonehenge

Rollo calls for Peace in the East (Photo: Jim Pearson)

Rollo calls for Peace in the East

Rollo wonders if he needs to do another explanation of the Druid Mantra

Rollo reads a seasonal text

Rollo reads a seasonal text (Photo: Jules Pearson)

In circle

In circle

Cas performs an invocation

Rollo and Cas bless the flowers

Rollo reads a tribute to John Michell

Rollo invites Matthew in for a bardic performance (Photo: Jules Pearson)

Matthew performs the Autumn Equinox poem (All photos: Jules Pearson)

Arthur and Cas perform a rhyming work related to their bones removal protest

Arthur and Cas perform a rhyming work related to their bones protest (Photo: Jules Pearson)

Rollo agrees with the idea of doing the Druids' Vow

Linking hands for the Druids' Vow (Photo: Jules Pearson)

Linking hands for the Druids' Vow (Photo: Jules Pearson)

Toning the Druid Mantra (Photo: Jim Pearson)

Rollo reminds everyone of the Free West Papua campaign

Ray does another reading of his Equinox text

The main ceremony is almost over

Closing the West Quarter (Photo: Jules Pearson)

Closing the North Quarter

Merlin and June - Archdruid and Archdruidess of Order Of The Stone

Emerald is filmed by Brian Viziondanz

Arthur talks with Susanna Lafond

Double trouble with June and Emerald!

Matthew and Jules (Photo: Jim Pearson)

Jim and Jules take in the atmosphere of an excellent event

Mingling amongst the stones

Mingling amongst the stones (Photo: Jim Pearson)

Plenty of smaller circles were evident

Mingling amongst the stones

A final circle and performance of the Druid Mantra

Em and Gary with Bev

The day a perfect point of balance (Camera: Jim Pearson, Operator: Jules Pearson)

Leaving the monument site...

...and back to some fabulous Wildfox Awen Bread!


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