Yule 2007 (Winter Solstice) - Stoney Littleton, Glastonbury and Avebury

This page includes reports and photographs from the various events I attended during the season of Yule/Winter Solstice in 2007.

Stoney Littleton Long Barrow, Fri 21 and Sun 23 Dec

One of the Cotswold-Seven cairn, Stoney Littleton is a long barrow sited south of Bath. Lying North West to South East, the site is aligned to the mid-winter sunrise. Weather permitting, for several days around Winter Solstice the rising sun illuminates the chamber, which is a really magical sight. With the southern surrounding landscape being on high ground, the rising sun does not show until around 35 minutes after the published sunrise time for the area. The pictures and captions below take you from the darkness, through the first hope that the sun might just be strong enough, through its proper appearance, through its alignment with the barrow before it moves away again on its first rise of the new solar year..

A frosty scene at the Stoney Littleton car park

On the other side of the bridge - note the monument has an 'e' in Stoney but the village name doesn't!

At the monument - again the monument has an 'e' in Stoney but the village name doesn't!

No sign of the sun yet on this cold and foggy morning

Looking out of the barrow entrance - still no sign of the sun

The sky starts to turn orange - an excellent sign (12x optical zoom on camera)

Standing on top of the barrow - the sun starts to win its battle against the fog

Standing on top of the barrow - the sun starts to win its battle against the fog

Standing on top of the barrow - the sun's shape becomes apparent (12x optical zoom on camera)

Standing on top of the barrow - the sun's shape becomes apparent

Standing on top of the barrow - the sun's shape becomes apparent (12x optical zoom on camera)

Looking out of the barrow entrance - the sun rapidly swings into place

Now at the back of the back of the barrow with the sun in full alignment

Now at the back of the back of the barrow with the sun in full alignment

Now at the back of the back of the barrow with the sun in full alignment

Now at the back of the back of the barrow with the sun in full alignment

Now at the back of the back of the barrow with the sun in full alignment

Now at the back of the back of the barrow with the sun in full alignment

Now at the back of the back of the barrow with the sun in full alignment

The sun soon begins to move away on its first rise of the solar year (12x optical zoom on camera)

Only a small part of the sun now remains in the entrance (12x optical zoom on camera)

Back outside most of the fog has gone and the new solar year is underway

The Western Order of Druids, Sat 22 Dec, Glastonbury Tor

The Western Order of Druids celebrated Yule on Glastonbury Tor for sunrise on Saturday 22 December. The Order split into two groups - the majority heading for the top, with the remaining members making for the Fairfield. Enough members of the public were present at the top to form a circle of reasonable size. This was facilitated by Steve and included the Druid Prayer and Druid Oath. Some recent deaths were mentioned and there was a Tara update. I then debuted my 13 verses of Yule poetry. The thick cloud meant that no sunrise was visible on this occasion and so the ritual was concluded, with an invite for any members of the public to join the main Druid circle below in the Fairfield. A young man was chosen to represent the Mistletoe King prior to the group leaving the Tor summit. A candle was lit and placed in a bottle for transport down below.

The oncoming group was greeted as bringers of the light. A new circle formed in the Fairfield as Lydia drummed. Lydia then did the directional peace blessings, followed by four people in the circle calling in the quarters. I led the practice of the Druid Mantra and then use of it in the blessing of the mead and cake. The cake included five Fairy Crystals! The Mistletoe King was inaugurated, with his mother acting as Queen. The Druid Prayer and Druid Oath were recited again and my Yule poetry got its second outing. The mead and cake came around at this point, with everyone being very careful when eating the cake! Once the circle had been closed everyone was thanked for their attendance. An invite was offered to the Head of Order’s house, where breakfast and a roaring fire lit from the Mistletoe King’s candle were on offer. Overall this was a very enjoyable morning, marred only by poor visibility hiding the sunrise.

A short video of the event by Samuel Poore and Adam Millbank

Gathering on the Tor for sunrise

Cloud fills the south eastern sky

St. Michael's Tower was a meeting point for some

Following the ritual the group made its way down to the Fairfield

Other members of the Western Order of Druids waiting for the main party to arrive

Forming the circle in the Fairfield

Mead and cake doing the rounds

Coming down from the Fairfield...

...and heading to the Head of Order's house

The Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri, Sat 22 Dec, Avebury, Wiltshire

The Yule ritual of the Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri was held at Avebury on 22 December. The group gathered at the Red Lion and at 14:00 made its way to what remains of the Southern Inner Circle. A large circle of people was soon present and everyone was given a detailed 10-page script! This included traditional Druid and Wiccan activities such as casting the circle, calling the quarters and reciting the Druid Oath. It also included poems for regular bardic performances along the way - Jacky Frost, The Two Kings and High Summers King. Invocations were given for Cerridwen and Cernunno and there was a re-enactment of the battle between the Oak King and the Holly King, with Oak winning the day. Paul then played guitar to the group singing Gods Rest Ye Merry Gentlefolk. This was followed with juice and bread for the group, while Gods Rest Ye Merry Gentlefolk was sung for a second time. And just before the circle was closed I recited my Yule poetry for the third time that day, tapping one of my bowls after each verse and three times at the end. Behind us the Winter Solstice sun began to sink rapidly and the waxing 98 percent full moon began to rise.

Montage of the complete event

The day of the longest shadows at Avebury

The group arrives at 14:00

The group arrives at 14:00

Getting things underway

A large circle had gathered at Avebury

A large circle had gathered at Avebury

The Oak King and Holly King fight it out for supremacy

The Holly King has been slain by the Oak King

The first poem is performed by Jodie

Paul walks the circle playing guitar for the main song

Closing the quarters at the end of the ritual

The Winter Solstice sun begins its descent

Minutes later the sun was disappearing from view...

...as the near full waxing moon began its ascent

Chalice Well, Fri 21 Dec

The Chalice Well Yule ritual took place on Friday 21 December. A large group formed under the yew trees. Ark the gardener drummed away until things were ready to go. The door to Arthur’s Courtyard was closed and at the appropriate point it was opened to reveal Chalice Well staff bearing the light. This was brought forward to light the bonfire on the front lawn, but also to be kept burning in Chalice Lodge. Thanks were given for pairs of items such as dark and light, sunshine and rain etc. and everyone was invited to join in. There was then an invitation for people to tie offerings on the Holy Thorn, before the group moved to form a large circle down on the lawn. The quarters were called in and then four large candles were used to light the bonfire. A roaring bonfire was soon underway and at this point Tim Hall and singers from the Avalonion Free State Choir sang Yule carols.

Welcome warmth from the Chalice Well fire

Tim Hall and friends give it the max on the Yule carols

Tim Hall and friends give it the max on the Yule carols

Another popular Chalice Well seasonal event

Another popular Chalice Well seasonal event

Tea and fire - an essential combination on this cold day

Tea and fire - an essential combination on this cold day

The fire dies down as people begin to make their way home


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Page last updated: 24 Jan 2009