The Summer Solstice is the most important day of the year at Stonehenge and a truly magical time to be there. It's a time of celebration that brings together England's New Age Tribes (neo-druids, neo-pagans, Wiccans) with ordinary families, tourists, travelers and party people - 10,000's of them!
At the heart of Druidism lies a love of Nature and of her changing faces as the seasons turn. Eight times a year, once every six weeks or so, Druids participate in a celebration that expresses this love and last year I was kindly invited to join the druids for their celebrations at the British pre-historic monuments where they have exclusive access to perform their energetic rites at the stones.
This is a time of fertility and celebration: bonfires, maypoles, dancing, and outdoor festivals have been traditional during this time for most of human history. In some modern Pagan faiths it is believed that this holiday represents the highest ascendancy of masculine divinity.
In my experience - in true British style - it was so bloody wet! We slept in cars and did various meditations throughout the 12 hour long overnight ceremony which required commitment especially in England's summer downpours from sunset to dawn. First we did a meditation in a remote field where in a circle, affirmations to connect with the divine were made as we meditated together. At one point during the speech of one of the elders a huge gust of wind blew at the most divine point of his speech, that put all my hairs on end as the sensations overcame my being and I felt a wave of dizziness while I meditated in the muddy field that my wellies were sinking in to.
Around 4.30am we arose for the final sunrise meditation at the stones. The rain poured down on us as words in the old English were proclaimed in the ceremonious celebration of mother nature and love for humanity.
Throughout my life I've been a part of many different spiritual practices which in my heart I feel is an cathartic way of connecting and healing one's being; whether through ritual, ceremony, contemplation or creation, while demonstrating a humility for mother nature that which envelops, nurtures and unites us. This time round, perhaps given it lacked the mystical mantras of a foreign language but was grounded in the stories that preceded Christianity, I found the experience really intriguing and a little bit funny.
I mean there I was, in my white gown over waterproofs and wellingtons, walking around in divine cosmic time to meditate on ancient stones while hearing words such as "Walk forth torch bearer!" in the country I was born. In one aspect it was amazingly powerful within me. I mean the energy created by this devotional act was to a vibration of cosmic levels that if you haven't experienced - you might think I was nuts. Yet, in another aspect, lets call it an egoic identification with personality, I felt like I was in a funny play where the characters all spoke English with funny accents using old linguistic terms and funky props to connect with their truth and the divine. My inner cynic would've written it off as some ridiculous ritual, but as one beautiful soul brother I met in Nepal reminded me "isn't life one ridiculous ritual?" and who am I to say what is the best path to take or rite to make in order to create a sacred space for divinity? And the truth is, after the ceremony, something did change within me. I became friends with a pain that had haunted me for far too long. Perhaps it took for me to meditate under the stars, in the shitty British weather, aligned to the divine shifts of the cosmos and Earth's seasons at some old stones to finally say "its ok to let go now".
See here for more info on the Druid order and special thanks to Cristel who I met at a yoga retreat in India for the kind auspicious invitation. There are more images on my photoblog.