Ostara 2008 (Spring/Vernal Equinox) - Stonehenge, Avebury and Stanton Drew

This page includes reports and photographs from the various events I attended during the season of Ostara (Spring/Vernal Equinox) in 2008. Unforeseen circumstances meant I could only attend half the events I had planned to do. Known by Christians as Easter, Ostara is a much older ceremony celebrating balance, light winning over dark, rebirth and the goddess Eostra. Easter Sunday is calculated as the first Sunday after the first full moon that falls on or after the Spring Equinox. The early Easter in 2008 has been talked about at great length but it has been earlier. The earliest date Easter Sunday can fall is 22 March and this happened in 1761 and 1818. It will also fall on that date in 2285. Easter Sunday was the same date as this year back in 1913 and will be again in 2160, for those of you who like to plan ahead!

Setting Out On Ostara Morning (20 March 2008)

This year the full moon was the day after the Spring Equinox and so a bright morning moon was visible from my garden as I set off for Stonehenge at 04:00.

A near-full Ostara morning moon viewed from my garden

A near-full Ostara morning moon viewed from my garden

Managed Open Access At Stonehenge (20 March 2008)

A group of several hundred people gathered outside the Stonehenge car park for Managed Open Access. The gates couldn’t have opened quickly enough on this cold morning and the signal for opening eventually came around 05:45. After a short talk from English Heritage the group processed towards the stones to a powerful drumbeat from Taloch and Dolmen friends. Following the calling of the quarters, Rollo took over and got the group to do the Druid Oath and several tones of the ancient Druid Mantra of the West, particularly for Tibet. He then opened the floor, starting with a group musical performance. This incorporated the Druid Mantra and everyone was invited to join in. Rollo then invited me to give my 12-verse Ostara poetry its maiden outing. I was followed by another performer who sang and played guitar. The performers on this day were offered a crystal by a traveller from America. Ray asked to recite the Druid Prayer, before the quarters were closed again. Attention then turned to Merlin of England, who was performing the handfasting of Jill and Mark at the Altar stone. With that, some of the group made their way to the Heel stone to greet Arthur and his Warband. Arthur will no longer enter Stonehenge until the fences are taken down and so he remained outside. The two groups joined hands over the fence and had a brief ceremony involving the Druid Mantra and the Druid Oath. Further entertainment was taking place upon returning to the circle and many people seemed happy to stay around, despite the cold weather. Others retreated back to the English Heritage Visitor Centre for a warming cup of tea. At this point a milky rising sun had appeared over Stonehenge. With that, people began to leave the site, knowing that it was only three months until the Summer Solstice. This Ostara event was featured in The Guardian on Friday 21 March. It was surprising to see Druid dominance on Good Friday! The text and nine pictures can be accessed on this link. The event was also filmed by Sky's History Channel for a documentary and videos are starting to appear on YouTube (such as this one).

Montage of the complete event

The waiting crowd starts to make its way into the stones at around 05:45.

The event begins. The History Channel is in attendance

The event begins

The event begins

The first musical performance entertains the crowd

Matthew reads his new Ostara poetry and taps his bowl after each verse. Photo courtesy of www.stonehenge.mercurymoon.co.uk

Matthew reads his new Ostara poetry and taps his bowl after each verse. Photo courtesy of www.stonehenge.mercurymoon.co.uk

Just after my poetry has been read out

The second musical performer takes centre stage

The second musical performer takes centre stage

The second musical performer takes centre stage

Ray recites the Druid Prayer

Ray recites the Druid Prayer

Closing the quarters

Merlin of England conducts the handfasting of Jill and Mark (Stone Knight of the Order of the Stone)

Merlin of England conducts the handfasting of Jill and Mark (Stone Knight of the Order of the Stone)

Merlin of England conducts the handfasting of Jill and Mark (Photo courtesy of Chance of Chippenham)

Merlin of England with Jill following the handfasting (Photo courtesy of Chance of Chippenham)

Celebrations following the handfasting (Photo courtesy of Chance of Chippenham)

Celebrations following the handfasting (Matthew in the background) (Photo courtesy of Chance of Chippenham)

Mark, Terry and Buffy following the handfasting (Photo courtesy of Chance of Chippenham)

Heading for the Heel stone...

...to meet the protesting Arthur and Warband crew

Exchanging greetings across the fence (Photo courtesy of Chance of Chippenham)

 

Ritual outside the circle with Emerald leading the way

Entertainment inside the circle

Entertainment inside the circle

Entertainment inside the circle

Terry Dobney (Archdruid of Avebury) in the centre

Merlin and June - Archdruid and Archdruidess of Order Of The Stone (Photo courtesy of Chance of Chippenham)

Merlin and Terry (Photo courtesy of Chance of Chippenham)

Buffy has a miniature Matthew on her shoulder! (Photo courtesy of Chance of Chippenham)

The celebrations continue...

...while others retreat for a warming cup of tea

A milky sun appears over Stonehenge as the celebrations end (12x optical zoom on camera)

The Ostara Full Moon (21 March 2008)

The Ostara full moon determines when Easter and 17 other Christian festivals will be held. In spite of the bad weather this evening, a bright full moon was clearly visible from my garden at about 20:15.

The Ostara Full Moon (12x optical zoom on camera)

The Ostara Full Moon (10x optical zoom on camera)

The Ostara Full Moon (12x optical zoom on camera)

The Ostara Full Moon (12x optical zoom on camera)

The Ostara Full Moon (6x optical zoom on camera)

The Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri Ostara Ritual at Avebury - 22 March 2008

The Ostara ritual of the Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri was held at Avebury on 22 March. The weather varied between sunny and wild with snow and hail. The group gathered at the Red Lion and at 13:30 made its way to what remains of the Southern Inner Circle. Conducted by Arthur, the ritual began with the opening of the four quarters. He then talked briefly about the significance of the season before asking each of the people who had called the quarters to step into the centre of the circle and explain their thoughts on the season. We were each then asked to name someone who needed healing. Arthur then led us in three readings of the Druid Oath as well as three tones of the Druid Mantra of the West, for those who needed healing as well as for the situation in Tibet. A request was made to contest the local bardic chair and Keeper of the Stones Terry Dobney followed with the Druid Prayer. With that the quarters were closed quickly as the snow and hail were becoming unbearable by this time. Things resumed in the Red Lion.

Montage of the complete event

Processing to the remains of the Southern Inner Circle

Calling in the quarters

Calling in the quarters

Listening to Arthur introducing the Spring Equinox

Terry representing East/Air talks about his view of the Spring Equinox

Allen representing South/Fire talks about his view of the Spring Equinox

Robyn representing West/Water talks about his view of the Spring Equinox

Arthur representing North/Earth talks about his view of the Spring Equinox

Snow and hail descend on the ritual

Snow and hail descend on the ritual

Closing the quarters

Closing the quarters

Closing the quarters

The Cauldron of Cerridwen Ostara Ritual at Avebury - 22 March 2008

The Cauldron of Cerridwen Ostara ritual took place about half an hour later. This was the usual well-planned Wiccan affair, complete with scripts for everyone to follow (even if mine had nearly turned to mulch by the end). The event included casting of the circle, opening and closing of the quarters, invocations, use of the Druid Oath and contributions of poetry. I read my Spring Equinox poem near the end of the ritual, during the sharing of the mead and bread. Everyone was also able to grab a handful of seeds and then throw them in the air after a short chant. The weather for much of this ritual was atrocious but things did clear up near the end.

Montage of the complete event

Opening the circle

Snow and hail beat down on the ritual

Snow and hail beat down on the ritual

Snow and hail beat down on the ritual

The ritual proceeds during the bad weather and things eventually get better

The ritual proceeds during the bad weather and things eventually get better

Closing the quarters

Closing the quarters

Closing the quarters

Waning Ostara Moon - 22 March 2008

Upon returning from Avebury I could see this was going to be another night that we would have the rising evening moon coming up from behind a local hedge. It starts as a bright light behind the hedge before gradually revealing itself. Now in its waning phase, the moon appeared brighter than the full moon photographed the previous night.

The rising waning Ostara Moon (12x optical zoom on camera)

The rising waning Ostara Moon (12x optical zoom on camera)

The rising waning Ostara Moon (12x optical zoom on camera)

The rising waning Ostara Moon (12x optical zoom on camera)

The rising waning Ostara Moon (12x optical zoom on camera)

The rising waning Ostara Moon (12x optical zoom on camera)

The rising waning Ostara Moon (12x optical zoom on camera)

The rising waning Ostara Moon (12x optical zoom on camera)

Easter Sunday Afternoon At Stanton Drew - 23 March 2008

The afternoon of Easter Sunday was spent at Stanton Drew. The sheep were on fine form, again showing interest in me and also apparently enjoying the energy in the stones provided by the lunar and twin solar alignments. The cloudy sky hid the sun for much of the time but the setting sun was able to break through for a short time. This allowed me to capture some additional pictures of the sun setting against the stones.


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Page last updated: 10 Jun 2008