Summer Solstice at the Rollright Stones 2006
Imagine you have just arrived at the Rollright Stones. You walk through the gate towards the hut, turn right and carry on between the trees.
And you stop. Before you is a raggle-taggle circle of standing stones. Formed from oolite many thousands of years ago, eroded by the elements and covered with many species of lichens. In the centre, the grass is grown long. At the west of the circle, the trees stand majestic in height, in full summer greenery, the drooping branches falling in such a fashion that you imagine you can see a face in them. The day is cool, and the sky is overcast, but with a hint of sunshine, and the birds are singing.
Just another circle of stones.
Then, something happens. A feeling deep, deep down, something so primeval you don't have words to describe it. You had heard the call, been drawn to the stones on that day. For why? And now it all makes sense!
The Summer Solstice is upon us. Time to recharge the batteries, to rejuvenate the soul.
You find there is a ritual about to begin. You are welcomed into the circle, and you hesitate. You don't know any of these people wearing their long robes and carrying staffs, and you wonder what is going to happen.
It starts as a robed druid makes an address to the ancestors and then you are in a line of people following, slowly walking round inside the circle once, before stopping and forming a tidy circle in the middle. There is a call for peace in the quarters and you join in the response' There is peace'. Next the quarter callers ask the ancestors to join the ritual.
'Who are these ancestors?' you think to yourself. You suddenly realise they are your parents, grandparents, favourite aunties and uncles who have passed on, and this gives you a feeling of comfort. You join hands to participate in a meditation, and follow the instructions while a singing bowl is sounded. You are asked to imagine your whole body filled with energy from the earth and from the skies. You are asked to absorb the vibrations of the singing bowl, and pass this energy to the person on your right. You feel a new tingling sensation wash over you and you feel you are in another dimension.
Then there is a short piece to explain the meaning of this festival: that the sun is at the height of its reign and without it we could not live, for we need all four elements of earth, air, fire and water to exist on the planet. A golden disc is introduced to the circle. This represents the sun and it is passed to everyone in the circle, who in turn holds it up high and says' All hail to the sun god'
The battle between the Holly King and the Oak King is performed and a lady dances around the fallen form of the Oak King.
A wicker dish filled with oatcake and apricots is brought out, along with a bottle of fine mead. It is blessed and brought round and you take a sip of mead and a piece of oatcake. A staff is passed round as a talking stick. When it is passed to you, you wonder what to say, so you state your name and say something relevant about the day. Each person says their name and then adds a bit more, the general theme is that everyone is happy to be there and is enjoying the proceedings.
The druid's prayer is recited line by line and you join in with the words.
Then comes an interesting item, you are asked to hold hands again and on the count of three you flung your arms in the air and shout 'Ho' as loud as you can. This brings about a cold shiver down your spine. Three times it is shouted and you suddenly feel all the tension leaving your body, and a feeling of calmness and lightness taking its place.
The quarters are closed and the ceremony ends.
You follow as everyone walks round in a spiral and out the Eastern entrance. You realise that this is what you had been looking for and ask eagerly 'when is the next one?'
And finally you go on your way home, suddenly seeing the world with different eyes.
The call has been answered!
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