Four times a year the public can access the stone circle to celebrate the seasons: the Winter and Summer Solstices and the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes. Staff at English Heritage manage these events.
It is generally accepted that Stonehenge was an ancient spiritual centre. Today, many people come to Stonehenge to welcome the sun and the seasons. There are four events each year when the stone circle is open to the public free of charge for a limited amount of time. These events are the summer and winter solstices and the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.
English Heritage has opened the stone circle to celebrate the solstices and equinoxes for the last ten years. These events are open to anyone and everyone for a limited time period. Pagans and Druids attend and run the ceremonies. These events attract large audiences who come to Stonehenge for many reasons:
- # to watch the ceremony
- # for a celebratory experience
- # to welcome the seasons.
People come from all over the country as well as from the local area. Local Pagan and Druid groups are heavily involved in the planning of these events. The spring equinox access is a small peaceful gathering without facilities, parking is not available in the Stonehenge Car Park
The exact time for the 2013 Spring (or Vernal) equinox at Stonehenge is 11.02am ; Sunrise on the March 20th at 6.09am.
Open Access for Stonehenge on the Spring Equinox 2013 is expected to be on the 20th of March 2013.
Expect a short period of access, from approximately 5.45am to 8.00am.
This is the second of the four ‘sky points’ in our Wheel of the Year and it is when the sun does a perfect balancing act in the heavens.
At the Spring (or Vernal) Equinox the sun rises exactly in the east, travels through the sky for 12 hours and then sets exactly in the west. So all over the world, at this special moment, day and night are of equal length hence the word equinox which means ‘equal night’.
Of course, for those of us here in the northern hemisphere it is this equinox that brings us out of our winter.
For those in the southern hemisphere, this time is the autumnal equinox that is taking you in to your winter. And this is very much how I think of the equinoxes – as the ‘edges’ of winter. This is why they can be quite hard on our bodies as it is a major climatic shift, so it is a good time to give a boost to your immune system with natural remedies and cleansing foods.
Here in Wiltshire (as with the rest of rural Britain), it was traditional to drink dandelion and burdock cordials at this time as these herbs help to cleanse the blood and are a good tonic for the body after its winter hardships.
As the Vernal Equinox heralds the arrival of spring, it is a time of renewal in both nature and the home, so time for some spring-cleaning!
This is more than just a physical activity, it also helps to remove any old or negative energies accumulated over the dark, heavy winter months preparing the way for the positive growing energy of spring and summer.
As with all the other key festivals of the year, there are both Pagan and Christian associations with the Spring Equinox.To Pagans, this is the time of the ancient Saxon goddess, Eostre, who stands for new beginnings and fertility.
This is why she is symbolized by eggs (new life) and rabbits/hares (fertility).
Her name is also the root of the term we give to the female hormone, oestrogen.By now, you may be beginning to see the Christian celebration derived from this festival – Easter.
And this is the reason why the ‘Easter Bunny’ brings us coloured eggs (and if you’re lucky chocolate ones!) at this time of year.
So, as nature starts to sprout the seeds that have been gestating in her belly throughout the winter, maybe you can start to think about what you want to ‘sprout’ in your life now and start to take action.
Solstice Events UK have been offering ‘non obtrusive’ small group guided tours of the solstice and equinox events for many years and we welcome their approach and ‘thought provoking’ trips. It works out much cheaper and certainly more convenient at that time of the morning. London departures can be booked here
Merlin says “See you there and remember – RESPECT THE STONES!”
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