I was awake just after 5 am, unable to get back to sleep. Or should I say unwilling to fall back to sleep. I was too excited, like a kid on Christmas morning, up and dressed and ready for anything.
I waited anxiously for the notification from English Heritage that solstice from Stonehenge was now live. At 7.24am the grey stones of Stonehenge stood dark against the grey of the night. I settled down to watch the sky lighten as the sun rose. I didn’t expect to see the sun in all its glory. It is after all England in winter.
I also didn’t expect the outpouring of love from the thousands of people across the world watching with me. Hundreds of tiny red hearts drifted upwards on my screen. Comments spoke of love and peace and unity. And so many messages of thanks for being able to connect, to share in this experience.
I was delighted and somewhat overwhelmed. It was not just me in my bedroom, but people everywhere doing the same thing at the same time – the wider community of pagans. I confess I became very emotional. I cried. Not because I was sad, but because I was relieved to know I was not alone.
Normally, in the days before Covid, sunrise would find me with my coven family outdoors celebrating the returning light. This year found me on my doorstep, wrapped up in a thick grey hoodie borrowed from my son, my face framed by its oversized hood. The front of my house faces east so I pulled up a chair and sat in the darkness.
I listened to the first birds making their greetings, their calls interspersed, and drowned out, by the stuttering chorus of car engines as early people went about their business. The noisy crows perching on TV aerials gave the cars a run for their money, their raucous calls loud and clear.
The rain misted in the beams of street lights. The heavy rain of earlier that had left puddles across my drive had softened. Gentle drops caressed my face, disguised my tears. I watched as the gunmetal clouds lightened to silver grey. The street lights winked out. I took this as a sign that the sun was well risen.
Even though clouds can mask the sun, we know it’s still there for us. Even though we walk in strange times of fear and uncertainty, we know that there are people beside us, be that in person or through the modern magic of technology.
Take heart from this winter solstice, find comfort in its message of hope. Stay safe.
Brightest of blessings.
Written by Portland Jones, PF Disabilities Liaison for West Midlands