Winter Solstice at Stonehenge


I’ve always hated my birthday. December 21 falls too close to Christmas for it ever to have been celebrated like a normal birthday. As a child I can remember (and remember vividly) the one and only birthday party where I had neighbor kids over. The rest of the time, birthdays were small family events squeezed in among the hubbub of Christmas. Not fun and not special. That coupled with the yearly reminder from my mother that I was born on the darkest day of the year did much to cement my feelings of apathy about my solar return. For a few years, I moved the event to January hoping for a better outcome. But there was no escaping it.


2017 turned out to be quite an eye-opening experience living abroad, and in an attempt to take advantage of some once in a life-time opportunities, I thought maybe this year marking my birthday with the rising sun of solstice at Stonehenge would make a memorable birthday. It was!


The tour bus left London in complete darkness at 4:20 AM and we made our way to the plains of Salisbury where we picked up some light rain. We were given the option of walking 50 minutes to the site or waiting for a shuttle bus. Luckily, the English Heritage organization that controls access to Stonehenge has done this for years and there were plenty of shuttle buses, so we boarded the bus and rode. We were dropped off, in the misty blackness at the edge of a parking lot with hundreds of others. All along the way, my husband and I were looking for the famous stones to orient ourselves but even standing with the crowd, we had no idea in which direction we’d eventually be led.


Finally, someone from English Heritage ventured by with a flashlight to tell us that they were waiting for some light before they’d open the field for us to go up to the site. When someone asked her where, she gestured to the left behind a wire fence where again we saw nothing. The crowd was animated. In the distance and to the left, drums beat, and a lone bagpipe played. More shuttle buses came and left, and we waited.


Not long after, the stones were lit on the hill above us and the pasture fence dropped. Stonehenge emerged from the black night on the first morning of winter. Druid drums beat a rhythm as the crowd and I were led through the marshy pasture and up to the historic site. I felt very emotional going up the hill and had to focus on my breathing to circulate the energy. Whether this was a reaction to ley lines, the crowd’s festive spirit, or my own internal work I don’t know, but it was powerful and deep (and Scorpionic?). There was a sense of rightness in this crowd moving up to take back this site.


By the time I reached the stones, several hundred people were already massed in and around the site. Stonehenge is a relatively small area. The center was held by Druids and pagans who had begun their ceremonies. Eager to join in, my husband and I moved in as close as we could. Our initial position was just outside the center ring. Gradually things began to lighten. We honored the four directions and offered prayers of peace being led by, I believe, a Druid priest. We chanted, sang songs, and summoned the ancestors. It was a festive, lively, and inclusive ceremony. The official sunrise came without notice as the clouds never permitted the sun to shine. Once the ritual part of the gathering had concluded, a group of pagan singers dressed in red streamed into the center of the stones and led the crowd in more songs. After a while, it felt like time to leave and my husband and I walked around the circle. I had a chance to touch some of the stones and walk the grounds of the site.


One of the most important reasons to visit Stonehenge at one of the solstices is that people are allowed in among the stones and on the grounds. During the rest of the year, tourists are allowed only to walk a paved path behind a barrier around the site. Those restrictions have been in place for some years now to protect the site. Only on limited rare occasions can visitors access and touch the stones (although technically you’re not supposed to, but everyone does).


Stonehenge is positioned on the top of a gentle hill with a panoramic view of surrounding fields. It’s isolated and unexpected, retaining its mystery. I settled on a fallen stone with some others. Revelers in the distance kept up the party atmosphere as I dropped into a healing mediation with the aid of the beat of a steady drum. It was easy to ground and go deep. I emerged sometime later, cold and stiff. It was time to leave.


The visit had been characterized by three different phases. First, there had been the emotional climb to the site. The stones themselves and the experience of greeting the solstice was joyous and a shared one. The final phase was solitary, deep, and healing. No bolts of lightening but more a gladness that I’d been there. That this birthday was memorable and special.


I was surprised that I had not felt more in the way of energy at the site, but then I had done some shielding ahead of our arrival. An unexpected thing happened the next day in London though. While we were waiting to get the underground, I suddenly started running energy that intensified in my palms. This lasted for some time and I think was connected to the previous day’s work. So, I’m keeping an open mind and we’ll see where this goes. Maybe a blog in the future.




Filed under Spiritual/Mysticism, Uncategorized

41 responses to “Winter Solstice at Stonehenge

  1. My partner and I used to run an adventure group where we could gain access to places where the general public weren’t allowed and Stonehenge was one of those places. So magnificent.

  2. What a wonderful way to celebrate your birthday!
    Our family has three birthdays that occur in December, so I understand how you feel about that, as well!

  3. I so enjoyed reading your blog. It brought back many wonderful memories for me. I was born and raised in England. We could run and play among the stones back then. The magic of Stonehenge has stayed with me. I would even say it has helped shape my own inner journey. Blessings & Light for the new year.

  4. Loved this: “No bolts of lightening but more a gladness that I’d been there. That this birthday was memorable and special.” Of course later the next day you felt such an energy! I’m so jealous and yet grateful to read your experience and see your pics. Happy Birthday. I do get that people don’t make a big deal about their personal holidays, but I have decided as I’ve gotten older that it is a day to celebrate myself! My personal holiday — to be grateful, to have a “…gladness that…” I’ve been here. Thank you for your post. It made me smile and feel so good! Sending you a hug.

    • Thank you, Carmen. I’m glad the piece touched you and relates to your own experience. Maybe birthdays are powerful when they are recognized on a deeper plane and not about cake at all! Happy solar return whenever that is for you!!

  5. reanolanmartin

    Just now getting to this beautiful piece, Ellis! So glad you had that experience, and thanks for sharing it with us. You captured the mood for sure!

  6. Sounds like a wonderful birthday!

  7. I’m so jealous! What a lucky birthdate and what a wonderful way to celebrate!

  8. what a neat birthday gift! my hubby and i were not able to get to Stonehenge–we were directed instead to avebury–still quite impressive. they do have a palpable aura.

    • Yes, maybe we’ll get there sometime. Lots of history throughout. We did stop at Salisbury Cathedral which has a copy of the Magna Carta. William Golding (Lord of the Flies) taught at a nearby school.

  9. What a wonderful birthday gift to yourself. The energy will linger with you as long as you welcome it. Expect new spiritual gifts as the days and weeks pass.

  10. Thank you so much for this post. My ancestors are from the UK and I want to go see the sacred places, it’s on my bucket list so I really appreciated your experience. And Happy Birthday!

  11. Susan Bernhardt

    It sounds like a memorable and deeply emotional experience. I loved the photos.
    Happy Birthday, Ellis!

  12. drstephenw

    Thanks for the wonderful report. I remember chasing my brother in and out of the stones when I was five, and being sad when I brought my own child there and the stones were inaccessible. So I’m so happy to hear about a time when Druids and anyone else can be among them. Scorpionic indeed. I’m sure you will feel residual reverberations if only in memory. Have a great new year!

  13. Sounds like an awesome way to spend your birthday!

  14. What a cool experience! We just booked a trip to Scotland…we were going to drive initially and check out Stonehenge on the way there but alas, it was just too much driving. Glad you had a lovely birthday and hope you are starting to enjoy life in Belgium!

    • Thanks! We did a family tour of Scotland some years back. I got a bagpiper son from the experience. Traveling does change lives! I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Dress warm (even in summer!).

      • Susan Bernhardt

        Ellis, after we returned from Scotland the first time, my oldest son also started playing the bagpipes. He also bought a really nice kilt with accessories on Princes Street that he still wears. They both wanted to stay in Scotland forever.

      • My son was about eight at the time so we got him involved in one of the few children’s bagpipes bands in the country. He piped competitively for some years and went to college on a partial bagpipe scholarship which he promptly gave up. Kids! Anyway, he’s recently showing interest in getting re-involved with the Celtic community. Funny that we have this experience in common. Do you have Scottish ancestry?

  15. Theresa Crater

    What a special way to honor your birthday and the Winter Solstice. Glad you got to get up close and personal with the stones.

  16. the power of sacred spaces is that you’ll be surprised when and where the energy hits you. nice piece and great to spend some more time with the stones…

  17. This is so interesting. I went to Stonehenge way back in 1975 and there was virtually no one there.My sister took a pic of me standing between the headstones all alone. I cannot imagine “enjoying” this site with this many people all hoarded together. What a bring down! It seems to trample on the sacredness of the site. I wish I could find this pic somewhere-it’s in one of my many many photo albums I have put away. At any event, I am glad you were able to turn the birthday perception around. It’s too bad your mother was such a downer–your birthdate is a very special one and I hope from now on you will celebrate it with joy!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s