21 June 2009

Happy Solstice Celebrations

This year we have really been lucky with our Summer Solstice celebrations. As the Solstice is falling on a weekend, the number of people taking part in ceremonies and celebrations is much larger than it would be when the date is set in mid-week.
And fortunately the weather is currently quite good here in Ireland as well. (While last year most of our 'summer' was drowned out by constant rainfall and rather cold weather, this year both climate and temperature are so far back to 'normal' expectations.)

Many Celts gathered already on Saturday evening at stone circles and other suitable spots in the countryside and celebrated in a traditional way through the night. (All Celtic festivals start on the evening before the actual date, and the moment the new day begins - midnight - is always of special significance.)
Then, with the local time passing the 4 a.m. mark, Druids and Bards got ready and the groups of people assembled in closer proximity to them. Very slowly the sky turned lighter and lighter, announcing the arrival of the Sun on this Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year.

At precisely 4.58 a.m. BST the first ray of golden light came over the horizon, breaking through a slight set of whitish summer clouds and starting the main Solstice celebrations. This is always a special day, and in particular for those who respect and cherish the powers of Nature.

There are groups of Druids and Bards, Wiccans, Pagans and other traditional Celts all around Ireland, Britain and many continental countries out to celebrate and to welcome the Sun on this day of the greatest light.
Some do it on their own (as anyone can have a solitary Celtic celebration), while others join their neighbours, friends and fellow followers of the Olde Path in public gatherings and more organised and elaborate ceremonies.

The largest crowd always assembles at the world-famous circle of Stonehenge, in the county of Wiltshire in England, which has become a great international symbol for the revival of ancient traditions and Celtic culture (even though Stonehenge - like all the stone circles - is not of Celtic origin and was built more than 2000 years before the Celts arrived on these shores).
But in the same way as the ancient Celts accepted and adopted the Olde Path of the Druids, who were the guardians of lore and wisdom for thousands of years, so modern Celts are taking their symbols and gather at their sacred places to celebrate the powers of Nature and the passing stages of the year.

I like to take this opportunity to wish everyone - in Ireland or abroad - a very happy Summer Solstice. May the bright light of this day fill your life and shine for you at all times.

The Emerald Islander

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