Sunday, 22 December 2013

Stonehenge - Winter Solstice 2013

To celebrate my 21st birthday, and of course the winter solstice, myself and some friends travelled down to Stonehenge! I had never been before and it was an experience I absolutely had to have.
I have heard from numerous friends disappointed reviews about the summer solstice celebrations and the overcrowding, sometimes disrespectful and ignorant behaviours that can occur there; however I have also heard very positive reviews, for example from The Four Queens (on Youtube) and my friend Mel. I am rather introverted and dislike large crowds so the summer celebrations may not be suited to me, and I chose the winter one with fewer people.
We waited with the crowd (possibly only 1000 people?) for access to be opened up and then walked down the path to the stones. I had worried that people would charge towards them (anxiety over crowds kicking in) but people respectfully walked slowly towards them in an orderly fashion. I felt anticipation building as I approached the stones. I was in awe of them as I grew closer and it seemed to be silent all around, people quietly approaching, and taking photos. It was dark still but the stones could be seen.
They were both larger and smaller than I had expected. The circle wasn't as big as I thought it would be (though the full crowd may have caused that view), but the stones were huge! The circle and its stones are absolutely beautiful!! I cannot express this enough, they are stunning!
I couldn't hear or see the Druid ritual taking place so I walked around the circle and took some photos. I really was just in awe. I didn't take part in any ritual, meditate or touch the stones, but I still could sense the energy of the place.

At one point there was some drumming going on and the sound bounced off of the stones and into the earth. When I closed my eyes I could feel it rising from my feet into my soul and it was like the pulse of the past.

Now, my experience of them will NOT be the same as other peoples; I got a distinctive feeling of absence from the stones - not absence of power(!), but absence of something... Stones like at Avebury, I felt were still very alive and in the present, but I felt that Stonehenge was almost asleep - certainly still pulsing with power, but something was hidden from us. The sense of 'hiding' seems to be the best word for such a feeling... The memory of what happened there in Prehistory is still hazy and for the most part uncertain and maybe it was the deep mystery I was feeling, combined with an awareness of the presence of all those people (1000 is still a lot!). I guess I felt that they were almost invaded and exposed, like skeletons in a museum, beaming power but seeking privacy? This is just my feeling of it. I don't mean to suggest the celebrants and ritualists were unwanted by the stones! I don't really know what to make of this feeling, yet.
There is something about Stonehenge that still draws people in their thousands every year; people who seek a spiritual connection, people who enjoy culture and history, and people who don't know why they want to visit but know that they want to! There were some party-seekers of the non-sacred sort, with little understanding (or maybe appreciation?) of the sites sacredness, and there were many people standing on the fallen stones with their cameras, just seeking to absorb the famous solstice experience. But most people were there with respect and awe and friendly greetings. The rain probably helped keep numbers down too, to individuals who really wanted to be there.
Unfortunately though, the rainy sky prevented the sunrise from being seen, which I had very much wished to see. Nevertheless the spirit of the place still resonated in the earth, air and stones. I really feel like I needed more time there, and that a part of myself didn't quite return with me. I'd be delighted (as I'm sure many would be!) to go back there one day with privately booked access to the stones (I'd rather not pay £15 to enter though...). Maybe that opportunity will come to me one day, and then I will speak to the stones personally.
What a stunningly beautiful place it is! It have definitely left an impression on me and has left its imprint in my heart.
A video record of the experience:

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