Cat Treadwell — professional Druid and nature-mystic - gives us a perspective from the English countryside.
The Real Solstice - UK 2012
In your dreams, dawn on the Summer Solstice is a beautiful thing. And it can be, certainly. Watching the colours change in the sky, clouds parting to reveal the sun as the Earth moves beneath your feet... marvellous.
However. This being one of the wettest Junes on record in the UK, I woke up on Solstice morning to discover that I had somehow been transported to Silent Hill. My partner and I ventured out - and 200 metres down the road, we could no longer see the house.
Yes, I live on a hill on the edge of the Peak District in the Midlands. So we're too high to get flooded, at least - but it does mean that we tend to become our own little corner of the Otherworld at random points throughout the year. Like Avalon, our hilltop vanishes in a thick fog. To get to the local shops, we feel our way carefully down country lanes (car headlights rebound from fog this thick, so no use there), through tunnels of dripping tree branches, finally emerging at the bottom of the hill staring around in surprise that it's still there at all.
The call had gone out at Stonehenge - wear a raincoat! The media kept quiet, as there wasn't really anything to see through the greyness. A washout? Perhaps.
As I stared more deeply into the mists that morning, I couldn't help laughing. Yes, it's a very British thing to whinge about the weather. OK, it's supposed to be Summer, so bright and sunny. But when did the elements ever cooperate, working to order?
The planet turns, the Sun rises. It may be shades of grey light, but it's there. I stand and bear witness, as my ancestors did, hoping hard that things will improve for the sake of the crops and the harvest. But after an equally dry Spring, we were all crying out for rain. Here it is. The elements did play ball, after all. The grass is thick and green, the trees blossoming happily, the apples starting to form... the world is still working.
The energy of the Solstice was strong in me that day. I bounced about happily, getting so much done, revelling in the turning of the year, the constant gratitude that we've made it this far (again), and the beauty of the mists is just another kind of magic.
In the mythology of this land, fog is the gateway to the Otherworld, a liminal 'barrier', both physical and spiritual. It descends when least expected; those who brave its invisible paths may not end up quite where they'd intended. My little cottage can seem pretty magical to those entering for the first time, if that's where they end up - but this Druid grove is just home to me (complete with laundry pile, wet dog and subsequent bathroom in need of cleaning).
We can set our plans in the spirit of our own Tradition - but they may not necessarily be workable in the cold/wet/muddy light of day. You know what? Tough.
Druidry is an Earth path. That means muddy boots, damp socks, frizzy hair and having to laugh at the sheer undignified-ness of such true natural magic. Sometimes we need to be shaken out of our complacency. It's not that the Sun has failed to rise - it's that we've missed seeing the world in which it rises.
What would our Grandmothers and Grandfathers do at such a time? Those ancient priests, farmers and housewives? Moaning gets us nowhere (although it can be both therapeutic and a bit of a laugh). We have to keep going, through the mists to whatever lies on the other side.
As the world keeps turning, we turn with it - or we get left behind. No amount of ritual preparation will help if Nature decides to remind you forcibly that it's still there, the ultimate point of Why We Do This. If your head vanishes into the mists, keep your feet on the ground and walk forward with faith.
Such challenges will come. Be ready.
It's a time of balance. We've now tipped forward into the next half of the year. Are you walking forward with me into that unknown?
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