Ostara 2009 (Spring/Vernal Equinox) - Stonehenge, Glastonbury and Avebury

This page includes reports and photographs from the various events I attended during the season of Ostara (Spring/Vernal Equinox) in 2009. 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. Because of the later full moon, Easter 2009 is considerably later than it was in 2008. On Friday 20 March it was Managed Open Access at Stonehenge for sunrise. The next day started with a spectacular spring sunrise on Glastonbury Tor and then a busy afternoon at Avebury with the Cauldron of Cerridwen Ostara Ritual, followed by the Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri, the handfasting of Sarah and Martin and then a healing circle for a young child. On Sunday 22 March it was back to Avebury for the Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri.

Managed Open Access at Stonehenge - 20 March 2009

A crowd gathered on the Drove at dawn and processed into the Stonehenge car park when the gate was opened. After a short talk from English Heritage the main site was opened and the group processed into the monument field. Led by Taloch and other drummers from the Dolmen Grove, the group circled the stones prior to entry and then formed up a circle inside. Taloch started proceedings by taking the group through the ‘Not I nor Thee’ lines. Rollo then welcomed everyone to Stonehenge and opened the four quarters. He then talked about the Spring Equinox and how the Druid Mantra relates to the sunrise, before getting the group to perform three tones of the mantra. Rollo then talked about a recent BBC Newsnight programme about the situation in West Papua. He read out a statement about the situation there and asked for healing to be sent to the situation. The Druid Mantra was then used in a very different way to normal, with dancing and rapid chants to the left and right! Further information about the situation in West Papua may be found on this website. A reinvigorated Arthur entered the circle and renewed his commitment to have burial remains returned to Stonehenge. Frank asked for several Celtic god/ess names to be called and I gave my Ostara poetry its first reading of the season, tapping the bowl after each verse. With that it was time to close the quarters. Plenty of personal time was available in this two hour session. Mark and Jill renewed their handfasting from a year and a day previously. Arthur did a number of raisings in the Warband and several musical performances occurred. All of this was looked over by a glorious sunrise. A photographer from the Daily Telegraph was present and 12 images from the event appeared on the newspaper’s website later that day. .

Montage of the complete event

Entering the site at around 05:45

Approaching the stones

Setting up inside the stones

Taloch taking the group through the ‘Not I nor Thee’ lines, apparently with spirit helpers above

Rollo welcomes everyone to Stonehenge

Rollo talks about how the Druid Mantra relates to the sunrise

Around 300 people were in attendance

Rollo talks about the situation in West Papua

Rollo talks about the situation in West Papua

Rollo breaks with tradition and introduces a dance linked to the Druid Mantra

A reinvigorated Arthur renews his commitment to have burial remains returned to Stonehenge

Matthew reads his Ostara poetry, tapping his bowl after each verse [Photo: Steve Jeal]

Closing the quarters

A spectacular sunrise was beginning as the ceremony ended

A spectacular sunrise was beginning as the ceremony ended

A spectacular sunrise was beginning as the ceremony ended

Viewing the sunrise over Rollo's hat

Viewing the sunrise from within the stones

Mark and Jill with Emerald

Emerald and friends

Jenny sings in the sun

Ray talks to Susanna

Rollo with Emerald

The sun continues on its journey

Spring Sunrise on Glastonbury Tor - 21 March 2009

Early on 21 March I set off for Glastonbury. Making good time I stopped off at the red and white springs to collect 160 litres of water. With no one else around and a faster-flowing White Spring, this too was a quick process. I then climbed the Tor for what was another spectacular sunrise. This was photographed from the top, as well as during the descent.

The Cauldron of Cerridwen at Avebury - 21 March 2009

The Cauldron of Cerridwen Ostara ritual took place at Avebury on Saturday 21 March. People met at the Red Lion and then gradually made their way into the Sun Circle to set up. Taran welcomed everyone to the event. Gyfu read a statement about the season and Raveness read "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud". Sian followed by blessing the altar. She then set up the casting of the circle and Woodoak stepped forward to accept the sword, before walking around the circle. Taran welcomed in the Guardian Deities and the four quarters were opened by individuals from the circle. Woodoak invoked Cerridwen in Sian and Willow invoked Cernunnos into Taran. Paul read Taran's "Will You Dance With Me?" and Gyfu followed by performing the Ostara song. Seren distributed grass seeds around the circle. Everyone took a handful and used them to represent a project that they wanted to grow. Woodoak performed a drumbeat and got the group to perform a chant. As the drumbeat changed everyone threw their seeds up in the air to see their projects commence. Seren then read the “New Life” poem and Lucara followed with Taran's "Fruhling" poem. It was then time for the cakes and ale to be blessed before being taken around the circle by Seren and Lucara. I read my Ostara poem at this point, sounding my bowl after each verse. Robyn y Glas then performed his first song, Ian entered the circle to perform a Pagan/Christian joke and Robyn y Glas returned with another song. The four quarters were then released and Woodoak collected the sword again so he could release the circle. The event concluded with three readings of the Druid Vow and a Merry Meet, Merry Part and Merry Meet again.

Montage of the complete event

Setting up in the Sun Circle

Gyfu reads the introductory statement

Raveness reads "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud"

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

Woodoak casts the circle

Taran welcomes in the Guardian Deities

Opening the East Quarter

Opening the South Quarter

Opening the North Quarter

Woodoak invokes Cerridwen

Willow invokes Cernunnos

Paul reads Taran's "Will You Dance With Me?"

Gyfu performs the Ostara song

Seren distributes the grass seeds

Woodoak drums during the chanting

Seren reads the "New Life" poem

Lucara reads Taran's "Fruhling" poem

Seren and Lucara distribute the ale and cakes

Seren and Lucara distribute the ale and cakes

Matthew reads his Ostara poetry, tapping his bowl after each verse [Photo: John C]

Robyn y Glas performs his Ostara song

Ian performs a Pagan/Christian joke

Closing the circle

Closing the East Quarter

Closing the North Quarter

Closing the South Quarter

Woodoak prepares to call back the circle

Woodoak calls back the circle

The Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri - 21 March 2009

The Vernal Equinox gathering of the Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri was held following the Cauldron of Cerridwen. Willth signified the start of the Gorsedd and the group set off from the Red Lion. Arthur stopped the traffic and the procession continued to the Sun Circle. Avebury was very busy on this afternoon and the ring of people was continually expanded to cope. Willth welcomed everyone to the event and then handed over to Arthur who started by talking about the Vernal Equinox. The four quarters were then opened. Arthur nominated Kas and Willth to welcome in the spring and they went on to bless the flowers. Terry talked about the timings associated with the Vernal Equinox. The Druid’s Vow was performed and Willth got the group to perform three tones of the Druid Mantra. Arthur was not happy with the result and got everyone to do short bursts of each letter in rapid succession. Terry read a version of the Druids’ Prayer and the bread and mead were then blessed and distributed by Willth and Kes. Robyn y Glas was first to try out the bread and mead prior to talking about his year as Bard of Avebury and performing several songs. No one decided to compete against him and so he was given a challenge for the new year. I followed by debuting my new 80-line Misnomer poem. Despite doing it at the top of my voice, the size of the circle and other noise from the area meant that not everyone would have been able to hear it clearly. Arthur then went around the circle to see if there were any other contributions, pointing his staff at each person. The quarters were then closed and the event declared over.

Montage of the complete event

Meeting up at the Red Lion

Justine and friends

Willth signals the start of the Gorsedd

Arthur stops the traffic [Photo: Em Churchill]

Processing to the Sun Circle

Forming up a very large circle

Forming up a very large circle

Forming up a very large circle

It was a large circle this afternoon [Photo: Ellie Welch]

Arthur talks about the Vernal Equinox

Opening the East Quarter

Opening the South Quarter

Opening the North Quarter

Kas and Willth are selected to welcome in the spring

Kas and Willth bless the flowers

Terry talks about the timings associated with the Vernal Equinox

Robyn y Glas talks about his year as Bard of Avebury

Robyn y Glas is first to test out the mead

Robyn y Glas is first to test out the bread

Robyn y Glas performs the first of several songs

Matthew debuts his 80-line Misnomer poem [Photo: Lori Aberle]

Matthew debuts his 80-line Misnomer poem [Photo: Em Churchill]

Arthur goes around the circle to see if anyone else has anything to say

Kes and Willth conclude the passing of the bread and mead

Closing the East Quarter

Closing the South Quarter

Closing the North Quarter

The Handfasting of Sarah and Martin at Avebury - 21 March 2009

Following the Free and Open Gorsedd a new circle formed around the Ring Stone for the handfasting of Sarah and Martin. Willth welcomed everyone to the gathering. Robyn y Glas was running late and so Willth asked me to step in to do a performance to fill the time. I offered the Superstition poem I had debuted at Imbolc. This was accepted and I performed the 80-line work from memory with no recent practice. The four quarters were then opened. Someone was asked to escort Martin into the centre of the circle and he was asked if he was there of his own free will. Sarah’s father John then escorted her into the centre and she had to answer the same question. Willth showed the group the rings and the rope that would bind them. Sarah and Martin made their vows and Willth then tied their hands together. Willth asked for the ancestors to join the circle and young Emily and Chloe were then asked to step forward to be Mead Maidens for the event. A Cake/Bread Maiden was also required and Xowie stepped forward for this role. Robyn Y Glas moved into the centre at this point to read a poem he had written for the occasion. Willth and John produced a long staff ready for the leap of faith. Sarah and Martin then ran at the staff held high and it was lowered at the last moment for them to take the leap. The happy couple kissed and everyone clapped. The four quarters were then closed and the event was complete. Further photos were taken at this point, including of Sarah and Martin with a full gathering of the members of the Sacred Warrior Order of Raven Druids. Overall this was a lovely event in good weather and with great company.

Montage of the complete event

Setting up the circle

Setting up the circle

Matthew does an impromptu performance of the Superstition poem [Photo: John C]

Opening the South Quarter

Martin is escorted to the centre of the circle

Sarah is escorted to the centre of the circle

Sarah and Martin await their handfasting

Willth shows the rings on the rope that will bind them

Sarah and Martin make their vows

Willth gets the rope ready

Sarah and Martin's hands are tied

Emily and Chloe step forward as Mead Maidens

Robyn Y Glas reads a poem he has written for the occasion

Xowie takes on the role of Bread/Cake Maiden

Sarah and Martin get ready for the leap of faith

Sarah and Martin take the leap of faith

The happy couple are now handfasted

Closing the East Quarter

Sarah and Martin pictured with members of the Sacred Warrior Order of Raven Druids

Healing Circle in the Moon Cove at Avebury - 21 March 2009

Lucy P was born in 1999. Shortly after her birth she was diagnosed with having a number of Congenital Heart defects. Lucy underwent a number of operations to correct the defects, but in the winter of 2005 the hospital said there was nothing more that could be done for her. Lucy was lucky though and was referred for transplant assessment and was accepted on to the list. In the summer of 2006 she got her 'new engine' as she calls it. The new engine transformed Lucy’s life in an amazing way. Pre-transplant she could not even walk upstairs unaided, post transplant she could run in the garden, bounce on her trampoline and bouncy castle with her brothers and sisters. In short, Lucy got given the chance to be a normal, healthy little girl. Lucy took this chance and grabbed it with both hands and has lived life to the full ever since!! She is loving life in no small way. However, now in 2009 Lucy has got poorly. Current symptoms indicate that she could have PTLD or Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder.

Following the handfasting a small healing circle was held in the Moon Cove. John C began the opening of the circle and everyone followed until it was complete. He then talked the group through visualising energy in the centre for Lucy. Other symbols and chants were added to this as the group processed around. Once complete the energy was despatched, with each person then disconnecting themselves from the circle. A Facebook group is available for Lucy.

The Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri - 22 March 2009

The Spring Equinox ritual of the Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri was held at Avebury on Sunday 22 March. The group formed up at the National Trust Cafe and roles were nominated. Morgan welcomed everyone and asked for a silent procession to the stones of the South Entrance. She advised that the format would be different on this day, with the Goddess Seat being roped off for re-turfing. With the group in the monument field, Morgan led a few minutes of drumming to allow everyone to tune into the site. An archway was then formed with staffs and the group proceeded on to the Ring Stone, forming up a circle there. Morgan welcomed the group and asked everyone to say “I Am” and the archetype they represent. With Willth feeling a bit out of it I was asked to perform the Call for Peace with Morgan. Starting North and moving clockwise, Morgan called in Welsh and I called in English, with the rest of the group answering. Finishing with a call for peace to the three worlds of Land, Sea and Air. The four quarters were then opened, with Morgan appearing behind each caller. She then talked about why we call to the three worlds of Land, Sea and Air.

The Goddess of Spring revealed herself, peeling off layers to reveal green. She moved around the circle and told everyone what she would be doing this season. Morgan threw mini eggs to everyone. Some people obtained one, others two or more. She then revealed that the number of eggs would determine how many invocations to spring each person would have to perform. This was done with music, dance, song and rhyme. After this hands were linked and the Druid Vow performed three times. It was then time for the first bardic initiation of the year. New initiates stepped forward to form their own outward facing circle around the Ring Stone. The outer circle then moved in to surround them. Morgan read out the words to welcome the new bards and the rest of the grouped toned the Awen around them. It was then time to bless the mead and two loaves of bread, before distributing them around the circle. I did the first bardic performance, another reading of my Ostara poem and sounding the bowl after each verse as I walked around the circle. Ray followed with a reading of "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud", Pauline read one of her poems and Jenny gave an amazing performance of her Peace song. It was then time to close the quarters. Before finishing off Morgan visited everyone and gave them a blessing, before asking all to add their voice to the Avebury landscape.

Montage of the complete event

Meeting up at the National Trust Cafe

Processing to the Guardian Stones

Processing to the Guardian Stones

Processing to the Guardian Stones

Processing to the Guardian Stones

Tuning into the site

Leaving for the Ring Stone

Setting up at the Ring Stone

Forming up the circle

Forming up the circle

Opening the North Quarter

The Goddess of Spring reveals herself

Morgan throws eggs to everyone

Jenny invokes spring

Pauline invokes spring

More invoking of spring

More invoking of spring

More invoking of spring

More invoking of spring

Ray invokes spring

Bardic initiates move to the centre

Blessing the mead and bread

The bread makes its way around the circle

Ray recites "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud"

Pauline reads one of her poems

The mead and bread went down well

Jenny performs her brilliant Peace song

Closing the North Quarter

Closing the East Quarter

Morgan gives everyone a blessing

Everyone adds their voice to the Avebury landscape


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Page last updated: 27 Mar 2009