Thousands gathered at Stonehenge to celebrate the winter solstice

22 12 2016

Thousands of people gathered at Stonehenge to celebrate the winter solstice.

solstice2016

Stonehenge was built over 5,000 thousands years ago and remains a place of spiritual significance for many. Credit: PA

Druids and pagans were among the crowd that watched the sun come up at 8.13am on the shortest day of the year.

People, some dressed in traditional pagan clothing, danced, played musical instruments and kissed the ancient stones.

One South African woman said she had made the trip to the UK “especially for the solstice”.

She said: “I am a Pagan, a witch and this is about the best place to be.”

Kate Davies from English Heritage, who manage the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, said: “We were delighted to welcome approximately 5,000 people to Stonehenge to celebrate winter solstice this morning.

It was a very enjoyable and peaceful celebration and the ancient stone circle was filled with the sound of drumming and chanting.”

There will be just seven hours, 49 minutes and 41 seconds of daylight on 21 December, almost nine hours less than the year’s longest day in June.

Stonehenge was built over 5,000 thousands years ago and remains a place of spiritual significance for many people.

Crowds gather at the UNESCO World Heritage Site on the shortest and longest days of the year as the stones are aligned to the sunset of the winter solstice and the opposing sunrise of the summer solstice.

Some experts believe the winter solstice was more important to our ancient ancestors than the summer solstice as the longest night marked a turning of the year as the days begin to grow longer.

Article source: ITV NEWS

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News and Stories





A Happy Winter Solstice to you all. Time to celebrate! It’s the shortest day of the year!

20 12 2016

Stonehenge News and Information

happy-winter-solsticeThe Pagan celebration of Winter Solstice (also known as Yule) is one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world.

The Winter Solstice falls on the shortest day of the year (21st December) and was celebrated in Britain long before the arrival of Christianity. The Druids (Celtic priests) would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and give it as a blessing. Oaks were seen as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe was a symbol of life in the dark winter months.

It was also the Druids who began the tradition of the yule log. The Celts thought that the sun stood still for twelve days in the middle of winter and during this time a log was lit to conquer the darkness, banish evil spirits and bring luck for the coming year.

Many of these customs are still followed today. They have been incorporated into…

View original post 120 more words





A Happy Winter Solstice to you all. Time to celebrate! It’s the shortest day of the year!

20 12 2016

happy-winter-solstice

The Pagan celebration of Winter Solstice (also known as Yule) is one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world.

The Winter Solstice falls on the shortest day of the year (21st December) and was celebrated in Britain long before the arrival of Christianity. The Druids (Celtic priests) would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and give it as a blessing. Oaks were seen as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe was a symbol of life in the dark winter months.

It was also the Druids who began the tradition of the yule log. The Celts thought that the sun stood still for twelve days in the middle of winter and during this time a log was lit to conquer the darkness, banish evil spirits and bring luck for the coming year.

Many of these customs are still followed today. They have been incorporated into the Christian and secular celebrations of Christmas.

Stonehenge is an ancient pre-historic site. It has been a place of worship and celebration at the time of the Winter Solstice since time immemorial. Respect the Stones and each other!

Time to celebrate! It’s the shortest day of the year!

happy-solstoce-3

Image courtesy of Astrocal Calendars 

SOLSTICE LINKS:
Stonehenge Winter Solstice Cards: Astrocal and Solstice Calendars
Stonehenge Winter Solstice Open Access Arrangements
Please visit the official English Heritage website for full details and respect the terms of entry.

Please respect the Stones and each other! 

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge news and Winter Solstice updates.  Watch the live Winter Solstice broadcast on Periscope

 

 

 





Why Thousands Of Pagans Gather At Stonehenge For The Winter Solstice

17 12 2016

The prehistoric site holds spiritual significance for many Pagans and Druids.

While some are buying presents and trimming their tree for Christmas, a very different kind of spiritual celebration gets underway every year at Stonehenge. It’s the winter solstice, also known as Yule in some Pagan circles, and the occasion draws thousands of Pagans, Druids, spiritual seekers and tourists to the prehistoric site for a reverent and ecstatic ceremony.

solstice-inner

The sun peeks through clouds during a winter solstice ceremony at the ancient neolithic monument of Stonehenge near on December, 2015. MATT CARDY VIA GETTY IMAGES

The December solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and this year it falls on Wednesday, December 21 at 5:44 EST.

In ancient Pagan traditions, the winter solstice was a time to honor the cycles of life and death and celebrate the sun’s rebirth as the days would slowly begin to lengthen in the months leading into spring. Many modern practitioners of Pagan and earth-centered spiritual traditions observe the holiday, and at Stonehenge, the celebration is particularly special.

Stonehenge, which celebrates its 30th year as a World Heritage site this year, is believed to be roughly 4,500 years old. Its significance as a link to British prehistory has drawn countless visitors over the years who come to gaze upon what’s considered to be the most architecturally advanced, prehistoric stone circle on the globe.

Apart from its architectural significance, Stonehenge holds a place of sacred importance to many. Much of its history is still shrouded in mystery, though one thing that’s sure is that it was built upon a landscape that had long been used for religious purposes. The stones that make up the massive circle are thought to have been collected from distant places, some as far as 150 miles away, and brought to this particular location. They were then erected using sophisticated, interlocking joints ― but how exactly the builders accomplished these feats is unclear.

It’s also unclear what exact purpose the site served to those who built it. English Heritage, a UK-based charity, notes that speculations on Stonehenge’s original function include “a coronation place for Danish kings, a Druid temple, an astronomical computer for predicting eclipses and solar events, a place where ancestors were worshipped or a cult centre for healing.”

rolo-solstice

Rollo Maughfling, Archdruid of Stonehenge & Britain, conducts a winter solstice ceremony at Stonehenge on December 22, 2015 in Wiltshire, England. MATT CARDY VIA GETTY IMAGES

Whatever its intended purpose, Stonehenge remains a place of wonder for thousands who visit the awe-inspiring structure every year. And its significance is especially potent at the winter solstice.

“One of the most important and well-known features of Stonehenge is its alignment on the midwinter sunset-midsummer sunrise solstitial axis,” a spokesman for England Heritage told BBC. “The midwinter sun sets between the two upright stones of the great trilithon.”

In other words, on the two annual solstices ― summer and winter ― the sun respectively rises and sets in perfect alignment with the site’s massive stones.

To witness the astronomical event, visitors typically arrive early in the morning on the day of the solstice to watch the sunrise and stay through to the sunset. Local Druids host a ceremony during the day, as revelers and tourists alike bask in Stonehenge’s ancient atmosphere.

“What we’re really here for is to celebrate the fact that the cycle of the world turns, and from now on the days get longer and it’s the return of the sun,” Druid leader and activist King Arthur Pendragon told BBC at the Stonehenge winter solstice celebration in 2014. “It’s a time of change and hope is renewed ― the same message really from a pagan perspective as from a Christian perspective. That’s what this season is all about ― a message of hope.”

Article source: Antonia Blumberg  Associate Religion Editor, The Huffington Post

Stonehenge Winter Solstice Open Access Arrangements

Please visit the official English Heritage website for full details.

Solstice Events are offering their usual  Stonehenge Winter Solstice guided tour from London and Bath.

 

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge news and Winter Solstice updates.  Watch the live Winter Solstice broadcast on Periscope

 

 





Freemasons and Stonehenge. The Masonic Connection.

14 12 2016

As you might expect for such an imposing stone monument, people have sometimes associated Stonehenge with Freemasonry.

Oddly there is actually not much in the way of direct evidence that the Brotherhood ever took much interest in it apart from the odd article in ACQ (“Ars Quatuor Coronatorum”) discussing various aspects of its construction and history.

Various attempts have been made down the years to find a link between Druidism and Freemasonry with some authors claiming that the Druids were the original basis for it – notably G.S. Faber (“Origins of Pagan Idolatry”, 1816), Winwood Reade (“The Veil of Isis”, 1861) and Dudley Cory-Wright (“Druidism – The Ancient Faith of Britain”, 1924).

masons-camberwellThere’s even some graffiti that refers to masons – on the southwest side of the tallest stone still standing these lines appear:

           (J.DAY           )

1802    (                       ) MASONS CAMBERWELL

            (W.LAW         )

… although it’s not clear whether these are stone masons or Freemasons. Clearly they were equipped with excellent quality chisels.

Several of the Druid Orders that sprang up from the 18th Century onwards had Freemasonic roots – whether due to their founders being Freemasons or through the orders’ individual philosophies being quasi-masonic – and one was quite definitely and deliberately masonic in outlook.

That was the Ancient and Archaeological Order of Druids, founded by Wentworth Little (a Freemason) in 1874, whose members all had to have achieved the degree of Master Mason and it was set up specifically to study the alleged links between Druidism and Freemasonry. Winston Churchill was initiated into this order in 1908 at Blenheim Palace.

There are two notable Freemasons who’ve been part of the story ofchurchill Stonehenge.

The first is William Stukeley, the 18th Century Antiquarian who identified the Greater Cursus as a monument (and thought it was probably a Roman racecourse – hence the name he gave it). Stukeley is largely responsible for popularising the idea that Stonehenge is an ancient Druid temple.

The second is Sir Cecil Chubb, who became a Mason in Salisbury at Lodge Elias de Derham, No. 586, on 26 October 1905. 10 years later he purchased Stonehenge at auction from the estate of the Antrobus family for the sum of £6,600, apparently on a whim (it’s said he went to the auction to buy some chairs). In 1918 he gifted Stonehenge and the surrounding 31 acres of downland to “the Nation” and was rewarded with a knighthood.

Finally there’s a very obscure Stonehenge masonic link that involves Sir Laurence Washington, the great great great grandfather of the first President of the USA – renowned Mason, George Washington.

Sir Laurence owned Stonehenge in the early 17th Century and it passed down to his son, the Rev. Lawrence Washington. It is reported that on his deathbed the Rev. Washington said:

“Embedded in the Ancient’s Concrete mixture of 1 part Bluestone and 3 parts Limestone cement, four feet (4 ft, 1.2 m) below my Helestone in Wilts, is my brass Altar of Burnt Offering (5c-5c-3c) containing my Seven (7) golden Tabernacle relics:

My gold Mercy Seat (2.5c-1.5c), my gold Ark of the Testimony (2.5c-1.5c-1.5c), my gold Table for the Shewbread (2c-1c-1.5c), my gold Candlestick, my gold Ephod-Girdle, my gold Breastplate, and my gold Altar of Incense (1c-1c-2c), are there.”

There appears to be only a single source for this story – one Garry Denke – and if you eris-symbolGoogle his name you’ll find that his Stonehenge Armageddon Prospect campaign to dig up these relics from beneath the Heelstone has appeared on forums and mailing lists all over the Internet.
Is Garry in possession of information known only to him and a shadowy conspiracy of hidden societies? Or is Stonehenge simply so ineffable that extra mysteries are constantly attracted to it?

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.
Article by guest blogger and local Stonehenge historian Simon Banton

What is freemasonry?

Freemasonry means different things to each of those who join. For some, it’s about making new friends and acquaintances. For others it’s about being able to help deserving causes – making a contribution to family and society. But for most, it is an enjoyable hobby.

one-dollar

The All Seeing Eye is pictured on the $1 note

Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations. It teaches self-knowledge through participation in a progression of ceremonies. Members are expected to be of high moral standing and are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry. The following information is intended to explain Freemasonry as it is practised under the United Grand Lodge of England, which administers Lodges of Freemasons in England and Wales and in many places overseas.

Freemasonry is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Its members are taught its principles (moral lessons and self-knowledge) by a series of ritual dramas – a progression of allegorical two-part plays which are learnt by heart and performed within each Lodge – which follow ancient forms, and use stonemasons’ customs and tools as allegorical guides.

Freemasonry instils in its members a moral and ethical approach to life: its values are based on integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness. Members are urged to regard the interests of the family as paramount but, importantly, Freemasonry also teaches concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.  More information

Are you a Freemason and can you share any information about Stonehenge and the Masonic connection?  We would love to hear from you.

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News and Stories

 

 

 

 





Stonehenge and the Moon #LunarPhase

13 12 2016

Ancient peoples had the benefit of dark skies and experienced the full spectacle of the starry heavens. The Moon gave light at night and would have been particularly useful in the two weeks centred on full Moon. The regular monthly cycle of lunar phases provided a convenient measure of time, upon which many ancient calendars were based.

Was it a Neolithic calendar? A solar temple? A lunar observatory? A calculating device for predicting eclipses? Or perhaps a combination of more than one of these? In recent years
Stonehenge has become the very icon of ancient astronomy, featuring in nearly every discussion on the subject.
A more informed picture has been obtained in recent years by combining evidence from archaeology and astronomy within the new interdiscipline of archaeoastronomy – the
study of beliefs and practices concerning the sky in the past and the uses to which people’s knowledge of the skies were put.

2017 Lunar / Moon phases.

First quarter 5 January 2017 19:47:41
Full moon 12 January 2017 11:35:12
Last quarter 19 January 2017 22:14:21
New moon 28 January 2017 00:08:19
First quarter 4 February 2017 04:19:47
Full moon 11 February 2017 00:33:58
Last quarter 18 February 2017 19:35:13
New moon 26 February 2017 15:00:15
First quarter 5 March 2017 11:33:38
Full moon 12 March 2017 14:54:49
Last quarter 20 March 2017 16:01:29
New moon 28 March 2017 03:59:26
First quarter 3 April 2017 19:40:54
Full moon 11 April 2017 07:09:17
Last quarter 19 April 2017 11:00:05
New moon 26 April 2017 13:18:11
First quarter 3 May 2017 03:48:10
Full moon 10 May 2017 22:43:56
Last quarter 19 May 2017 01:35:36
New moon 25 May 2017 20:46:22
First quarter 1 June 2017 13:43:00
Full moon 9 June 2017 14:11:15
Last quarter 17 June 2017 12:35:01
New moon 24 June 2017 03:32:43
First quarter 1 July 2017 01:51:47
Full moon 9 July 2017 05:08:31
Last quarter 16 July 2017 20:27:38
New moon 23 July 2017 10:47:26
First quarter 30 July 2017 16:23:57
Full moon 7 August 2017 19:12:47
Last quarter 15 August 2017 02:16:51
New moon 21 August 2017 19:31:34
First quarter 29 August 2017 09:14:19
Full moon 6 September 2017 08:04:55
Last quarter 13 September 2017 07:26:44
New moon 20 September 2017 06:30:46
First quarter 28 September 2017 03:55:09
Full moon 5 October 2017 19:41:56
Last quarter 12 October 2017 13:27:15
New moon 19 October 2017 20:12:38
First quarter 27 October 2017 23:23:17
Full moon 4 November 2017 05:24:29
Last quarter 10 November 2017 20:38:22
New moon 18 November 2017 11:42:52
First quarter 26 November 2017 17:03:28
Full moon 3 December 2017 15:48:30
Last quarter 10 December 2017 07:53:02
New moon 18 December 2017 06:31:29
First quarter 26 December 2017 09:20:24

Stonehenge Links:
Astro Moon Calendar shows phases of the Moon each day, astronomical events and astrological forecast for the year.
Stonehenge and Ancient Astronomy. Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site
Stonehenge Full Moon Guided Walking Tours.  Explore the landscape with a local historian and astronomer.

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for daily Stonehenge sunset / sunrise / moonrise / moonset times.

 

 

 

 





Druid Leader King Arthur Uther Pendragon, Head of the Loyal Arthurian Warband.

10 12 2016

King Arthur Uther Pendragon is the Chosen Chief and titular Head of the Loyal Arthurian Warband, a highly political modern Druid order that campaigns on a variety of issues primarily to do with Stonehenge.

8012908913_1b46a670da_z

These issues include protesting against the inclusion of human remains in English Heritage’s visitor centre exhibition, championing the right of celebrants to freely attend Solstices and Equinoxes at Stonehenge without having to “pay to pray” and calling for the return of the cremated remains that have been excavated from the Aubrey Holes and removed from the site by archaeologists.

He’s also got a long history as an eco-warrior and civil rights activist, protesting against road developments (notably the Newbury Bypass and Twyford Down) and of standing as an independent Parliamentary candidate for the Salisbury constituency.

When the media are looking for a soundbite from the rapidly growing pagan community in the UK, they invariably call Arthur and as a result the perception of many of the public is that he is the King of all the Druids. This tends to annoy some other people in the pagan and Druid community who resent the implication that Arthur speaks for all of them. Arthur, however, doesn’t claim this for himself.

What Arthur does believe is that he’s the modern reincarnation of the archetypal King Arthur of legend – returned to do battle for Truth, Honour and Justice in Britain’s hour of need.

arthur-closeupIn 1986 he changed his name from John Rothwell (ex biker and ex Army serviceman) by deed poll and he is unique in that his passport – in the name of Arthur Uther Pendragon – shows him wearing his crown.

The sword that he carries – Excalibur, naturally – is one of the originals made for the film of the same name. Its previous owner initially refused to part with it, on the basis that he’d only sell if the real King Arthur showed up to claim it. Arthur promptly presented his passport, much to the surprise of the owner!

His life story is too involved and full of startling magical coincidence to go into here but his biography “The Trials of Arthur” (C. J. Stone and A. U. Pendragon, Element Books, 2003) is worth reading if you want to better understand the man and his motivation.

After the government shut down the Stonehenge Free Festival with the infamous and appalling police violence of the Battle of the Beanfield in 1985, an exclusion zone was established around Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice complete with roadblocks, razor wire, helicopters, horses and dogs. Years of conflict between the festival community and the authorities followed.

Arthur was a key figure in the campaign to re-open Stonehenge to celebrants and eventually took the government to the European Court in 1998, claiming that the exclusion zone breached his freedom of thought, conscience, religion and freedom of expression, in contravention of Articles 9, 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The exclusion zone was lifted in 1999 and in 2000 the first of the Summer Solstice Managed Open Access events took place, with around 5000 people attending a celebration through the night in pouring rain.

arthur-ceremony

These open accesses have continued ever since at Solstices and Equinoxes and it is doubtful that they would have ever begun if not for the campaigning of Arthur and others.

In the great British tradition of eccentrics, Arthur stands out proudly – he is the grit in the oyster, a thorn in the side of bureaucracy and passionate about the causes he champions.

You may or may not agree with him, you may like or dislike him, but you can’t deny that he gets out there and tries to change things in the face of almost overwhelming odds.

Without him the world would be a much less colourful place – as a nation, we could do with more of his kind.

Article by guest blogger and local Stonehenge historian Simon Banton

Loyal Arthurian Warband website: http://www.warband.org.uk
“The Trials of Arthur” Book review
Follow King Arthur on Twitter
King Arthur live periscope broadcast at the Autumn Equinox
King Arthur and Stonehenge images on Flickr

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge news and stories

 

 

 








%d bloggers like this: