Solstice at Stonehenge

Well, that was a remarkable night. I drove from Presteigne down to Stonehenge, arriving on the stroke of midnight; and quickly realised that I had blundered horribly by not taking a torch. You would imagine, wouldn’t you, that somebody writing a book about the night would remember to carry a torch about with them? Not your correspondent. I was parked up on the track which skirts the perimeter of the Stonehenge site with dozens of hippy vehicles; a track that was pitted with immense pot holes full of water. Needless to say, I’d forgotten my wellies too. So although there were several camp fire parties going off, I was stuck, unless I wanted to go arse over tit in the mud and puddles. But my plan had anyway been to kip down in the car until seven-ish, and then get talking to people. So I wrapped myself in my duvet, and made myself so comfortable and warm, despite the ear busting trance doofing out from the van opposite, that I slept until…

…7.30! I woke up to see light tinting the sky, and only three quarters of an hour until the actual moment of sunrise.  Horror! I should have been awake at least half an hour before. I tumbled from the car, pulled on my coat, and started hurrying down the track towards the dreaded tunnel into the actual site. The two soltices are the only moments when people are actually allowed to go up and touch the stones; the rest of the time they can only walk around the thing, kept at least ten metres away by a little fencette. The site opens at about seven thirty, for about an hour and a half, and I’d only just woken up. By not taking a torch, I’d already narrowed the numbers of people I could talk to; and here I was, only just come to, and already missing the action.

But Goddess must have been on my side, because I hadn’t gone ten yards down the track when I met my old friend Panit Dave. Huge amusement and delight on both sides! You”ll have to wait for the book for a proper description of Panit; suffice to say that he is one of the most remarkable men I’ve ever met, a legendary traveller, and veteran of the Battle of the Beanfield. Last night, though, Panit was the key to lots of doors; I’m blessed, to use a pagan term, that we know and love one another.

Up at the stones, there were about 2000 people, laughing, drumming and talking. There were several groups of druids; I talked to one of the straightest looking men I’ve ever met, who looked like an accountant or a solicitor; straight, that is, except for his druid’s robes. He had just been initiated, and was clearly very happy. He talked to me about the cyclical nature of life; I was there to listen, so I didn’t want to bore him with my theory that life is helical, rather than cyclical; but there you go. Quite a few people were there who I recognised from The Green Fields at Pilton; a few of whom were kind enough to come up and say ‘Hello’. They all call me ‘My Dad’, of course. I point out that I’m NOT their Dad; I’m just one half of Your Dad, which is a very different thing.

Just after nine we were all ordered from the site by the security guards, and Dave and I wandered back to his friend Richard’s converted fire engine for a much needed cup of something. I had a hip flask full of Laphroaig, which was somewhat sacriligiously dropped into our instant coffee. Happy days; I should say, though, that I was well under the limit for the drive home…

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~ by Ian Marchant on December 21, 2008.

One Response to “Solstice at Stonehenge”

  1. that took me long enough to find and read this! nice one mate!

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