A Summer Solstice at the Rollright Stones
A True Story This is a true story which happened to my friend Virginia and to me.
We said - it must have been in 1980 or 1981, more than a decade and a half ago - that we would spend the eve of the Summer Solstice at the Rollright Stones, and we would stay there overnight and watch the sun rise over the Stones.
Colin Murray, the Druid who had introduced us to the Stones the previous Samhain, had said that they were primarily associated with that winter season. But we were both drawn to the idea of spending the summer night there, and seeing for ourselves if and how the rising sun mingled with the Circle - or might it touch the King Stone, which we preferred to call the Grandmother Stone - and experiencing the atmosphere and giving our prayers and meditations to the sacred site.
Particularly we, as women, felt we might link with the female presence of our foremothers and even, perhaps, of the indwelling Goddess there.
We bundled up with sleeping bags and scarves, and a thermos and sandwiches, and arrived in the evening and watched the sun go down. We each were quiet and made our way through the Stones and linked with them and thought our own thoughts. We did not need to talk, but found our own place to sit and eventually to lie; I remember a feeling of great peace and security.
I particularly liked the feeling of the green grove of trees and bushes surrounding us, and hearing the occasional night bird’s cries. It felt a totally quiet and safe and sacred place.
Gradually the sky darkened and the air grew cold; it was fresh against my face, and the sleeping bag was warm. I was lying on the ground by the Stones at the part of the Circle facing the entrance - a place I have always found welcoming when I have visited them many times since.
I think Virginia was in the centre, but I don’t quite remember. I know I was awake a lot, but I dozed now and then - she told me later this was true for her as well. It seems dreadful to say it now, but I can’t remember if there was a moon; I think there was.
So the night passed in great quiet and a growing feeling of peace upon peace. Eventually, as the sky started to grow light, we shook out our sleeping bags, and got ready to welcome the new day. We sipped the last of our drinks, except that we poured a libation, and we scattered the last of our sandwich bread to the earth. We gave thanks for the wonderful night and the growing light. We started to feel excited about the coming dawn.
About five minutes before dawn, as we stood and watched the east in perfect quiet and great unspoken amity with each other and with the sacred place, we heard a crashing sound of a van pulling up. Several men rushed into the site carrying black bags and trailing black electrical cables, and started shouting at each other and at us.
“Over here, no, over there” to each other, and to us “Get out of here”.
I said in a very small voice, because I was so shocked and hadn’t spoken for hours, that we two women had spent the night here in communion with the Goddess and had come to see the sunrise.
“Get out of here” a man yelled, piling up cable behind him. “We have a psychic here. We have to get him linked up, now, now..!”, shouting even louder.
The lovely Circle was deformed with all these shouts and wires and bits of apparatus, and I was shocked beyond words at the arrogance and the insult both to the site and to us women. Virginia was white and shivering. We tried just one more time.
“Our energy is here” we said, “We have been here in communion for more than eight hours”. “Get out of here fast” he shouted, and said something about how he had to get the psychic feel of the place.
Virginia and I went and saw the sunrise from further down the road. I have often wondered in the years that followed, reading about the results of a project that was to become well known, exactly what was measured by the cables and boxes and shouting men.
Had our communion and sacred quiet been quite lost? Had the jangling and yelling not touched the psychic feeling of the place? Is the project quite as authentic as its designers proclaim?
For myself, the unity that happened to me that night has never left me. I sometimes work with a tour that brings parties of women from overseas to our sacred sites, and mine is always the Rollright section of the tour. The moment I go in there I feel happy and at peace, and now in my old age and infirmity it gives me energy and healing. The Stones remain in their magic and peace, unharmed by intruders.
But I think this is the right moment to tell you my story.
© Asphodel and “Wood and Water” 1997ce This article first appeared in the Autumn Equinox 1997ce edition of “Wood and Water” magazine, and is reprinted with the kind permission of the author and the publishers. Wood and Water 77 Parliament Hill London NW3 2TH