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Summer Solstice 2023 Embrace Your Inner Druid at Stonehenge

solstice

June 21 marks the summer solstice. Here in the northern hemisphere it signifies the longest day of the year. Pagans love to come out and play. What better spot is there to celebrate the beginning of summer than Stonehenge?

Solstice at Stonehenge

When the summer solstice rolls around, most modern Pagans, Druids, Gaians and other fans of Mother Earth don’t live anywhere near the Salisbury plain in southern England.

They manage to make do anyway with celebrations of all sorts. Even so, Thousands of people gather around Stonehenge at sunrise each year “for a festival marking the occasion.

The summer solstice is a “mystical day” for many cultures. The specific festival at Stonehenge dates back “thousands of years.” It’s been the site of rituals and festivities for more than 5,000 years in a row.

The astronomical observatory was hand carved and constructed “at a time when there were no metal tools.

If you were to stand in the center of the stone circle on any summer day, “you would see the sun rise just to the left of the Heel Stone, an outlying stone north-east of the circle.” This year, roughly 8,000 people attended. “There was a wonderful atmosphere from sunset to sunrise, and everybody enjoyed a very atmospheric morning.

Revelers in colorful costumes all joined together in celebration of the morning sun as it rose. “As they waited, some sang, raised their arms and touched the ancient stones.” In Portland they get naked and ride bicycles.

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Pagans call it Litha

To pagan and wiccan followers, the solstice marks “Litha” or “Midsummer.” The traditions in celebration were borrowed from many cultures. It’ was mostly just a great way to have fun and take a break with the weather warming up and the crops planted. What else do you do when you don’t have video games?

The Celts celebrated Litha with hilltop bonfires and dancing. Many people attempted to jump over or through the bonfires for good luck. Don’t, as they say, try that at home.

Most ancient cultures celebrated the summer solstice in some way. European traditions included setting large wheels on fire, and rolling them down a hill into a body of water.

Philosophically, the day signifies “when a battle between light and dark takes place. In this battle, the Oak King and the Holly King battle for control. During each solstice, they battle for power, and the balance shifts. The Oak King, who represents daylight, rules from the winter solstice (Yule) to Litha. During this time, the days steadily get longer. However, during Litha, the Holly King wins this battle, and the days get steadily darker until Yule.

Modern pagans say the solstice denotes “a day of inner power and brightness.” They like to “find a quiet spot and meditate about the light and dark forces in their world.

Traditionalists light a big old bonfire and have an orgy. “Litha is also considered a good time to practice love magic or get married. The pagan version of this ceremony is called handfasting, and it includes many of the same practices one might find at a wedding.

What do you think?

Written by Mark Megahan

Mark Megahan is a resident of Morristown, Arizona and aficionado of the finer things in life.

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