Sunrise at Stonehenge...

A silver glow is growing behind the silhouetted horizon; it promises to be a fine day. It is an hour before sunrise, that special time when the Earth seems to hold her breath in anticipation of the appearance of her lover, the Sun. He has been united with her throughout the dark hours; now he prepares for his rebirth and subsequent climb into the heavens where he will take up his duties as Lord of the Day. But that is still an hour off. Venus, the morning star, illuminates the heavens to the east and bids us enter her domain. She is another aspect of the Goddess; we feel the power of her love directed towards us as we approach her temple. As we speed through the awakening countryside the birds are singing their praises to the dawn and there is movement to be seen in the hedgerows.

We crest a rise on the deserted road and there are the Stones, shadowy yet dominating the landscape with a brooding majesty. Stonehenge! It is a word that evokes feelings of magic, mystery and a little shiver from the depths of our beings. It describes an ancient stone temple that has presented an enigma to humanity for thousands of years. What is it? What was it built for, used for? Why had so much effort, over so many years, been expended on its creation? Why does it have such a profound, magical effect on people?

I watch the questions arise, linger awhile, and dissolve. I smile. One of the most important qualities about Stonehenge is its aura of mystery. If these questions are ever answered, the awesome power of the place will dwindle and fade away. Hooray for the mystery! Many aboriginal cultures of the world go so far as to state that life itself is an unexplainable mystery.
Those who dare are encouraged to attempt to solve the mystery, even though it is not possible to. Eventually, after years of spiritual quest, they realise that not only is life a mystery, they are also a part of that mystery. Once they take their rightful place as part of the mystery, they merge with existence, at One with God, with Goddess. They have found their way home.

The full moon, shimmering silver over the western horizon, will set in an hour or so. She is a moving, wonderful sight, and creates a sense of otherworldliness in all of us. Although we recognise the physical world, tonight an alternate reality holds sway. We drive towards the carpark, and pull to a halt at the entrance. I can see we are the first of our group to arrive, and a security guard approaches. I get out of the car and show him our letter of authorization; he removes the metal barrier and politely waves us in. We park, get out of the car and stretch our limbs. The air is crisp and fresh - my goodness, it's good to be alive! At this time of day, it is as if only a handful of humanity exists upon the planet. For a short while I feel as if the whole world is mine to explore and enjoy without barrier or restriction.

Soon all of the group has arrived, and it is wonderful to greet each other after varying periods of separation. Out come the flasks of tea and breakfast packages, muted conversations hum in huddles around me and an occasional burst of laughter splits the stillness. Most of us love to dress dramatically. People are changing into robes of different colours, some with hoods. There are some impressive looking staffs being carried, and I can see other items of magical regalia being displayed. I keep an eye on the progress of the sun behind the horizon. All the time the glow is increasing, changing from silver to pink to gold, and a vertical beam of golden light splits the heavens. It is time to enter the stones.

We make our way down the ramp to the entrance gates where we are greeted by a guard. He asks if we know the rules; this is a formality as we recognise each other from visits past. I answer in the affirmative. He waves us through and wishes us a good time in the stones. The group snakes its way through the tunnel that passes under the road, and up a ramp into the field of stones. As I get my first unobstructed view of the henge, the breath catches in my throat. It always happens like this. It is as if this huge brooding temple, like a giant squat creature thrust up into this reality from the underworld, becomes aware of us for the first time. I feel its attention focus on us, a line of puny humans about to enter its gigantuan coils, completely at its mercy.

Then my perception changes and I see the sacred space I love so much, an immense temple of mystery, in front of a backdrop of pink and magenta clouds. Golden rays pierce the deep blue sky like spears of promise, heralding a new age, and I can feel the spirit of the temple reaching out and welcoming me home. We have had a long and varied history over many years, and have got to know each other like lovers. My heart overflows like nectar from a flower and envelops the whole space with feeling. I recognise you, dear stones, and I feel so honoured to be invited here again! ....we step over the rope at the edge of the path and slowly walk towards the trilithon, two immense stones capped by a third, making an awesome magical gateway into the heart of the temple. Some more hardy souls remove their socks and shoes - I am one of them - and feel the dew as it anoints our feet with ambrosia.

One by one, we enter the megalithic gateway and walk in silence through the gigantic stones which tower above our heads. From the road the megaliths seem quite small and are a disappointment to some. Yet, when one approaches on foot, they seem to rear up out of the grassy plain like ancient dragons and completely overwhelm our tiny human egos.

Sunrise at Stonehenge;
a personal perception...

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'What magnificence! What immensity! What power!
I enter the central area and I greet the Spirit that lives here. Then I unpack the bag I am carrying, and make an altar on the grass. It is not permitted to place objects on any of the stones. In the centre I place a large crystal, and surround it with objects that symbolise the four elements. There is a candle lantern that represents fire, a lovely coloured stone for earth, a chalice for water, and a feather fan for air. I say a few words, inviting the sacred to inhabit the altar during our stay, and then stand up.

An expectancy grips everyone and we make our way to the eastern side of the temple. The sun is about to rise, and we have been honoured this morning with clear skies. This is a rare occurrence indeed, here on Salisbury Plain, and we all know how blessed we are. Suddenly a laser beam flashes from the horizon and hits each of us on our brow; as one we breathe in the God who rises from his lover, the Earth. Why does this event initiate such an open-mouthed wonder, filling us all with awe? Thirsty skins drink in the radiance from our special star; we are reborn into the light.

To witness a sunrise or sunset, the times of the day when the veils between worlds are thin, is wonderful enough. To experience these phenomena from this sacred temple, also described as a major power spot on the Earth's surface, is to directly encounter the divine. Places like Stonehenge subtly affect our perception, transforming our experience of Earth into Heaven. This is why these places are so important, and need protecting. They teach us to live in a world of magic and mystery, where the numinous still inhabits the land. Here, everything has meaning, and needs to be treated with love and respect. Here people are precious, and harbour the god and goddess withinThe God leaves the embrace of the Earth, and starts his parabolic path through the heavens. All at once, the spell breaks, and it is time for us humans to celebrate. I invite everyone to come together and make a circle (it's actually an ellipse, due to the shape of the space available). We hold hands around the altar, eyes closed, surrendered to the moment. The God and Goddess are honoured, the Spirit of the Land, and the Spirit of Stonehenge. We ask for blessings and healing for our circle, and for the Earth. Peace is invited into the Centre, for without Peace can no work be.

The seven directions (North, South, East, West, Above, Below, and Centre) are honoured, and the circle cast. The space is now ready for our ceremony.

A woman dressed in an embroidered light-blue robe steps forward and lifts the chalice from the altar. In it is water from Chalice Well in Glastonbury, and three drops of All-Heal, a Druidic healing essence made from mistletoe harvested from an oak tree. The lady in blue slowly circumnavigates the ring of people, offering each one of us a sip of the chalice as she passes. When everyone has had a sip, she lets some fall onto the ground, an offering to the Goddess.

Sometime during our invocation to the sacred, a hawk appears in the east and flies overhead, circling and then hovering to the west. An electric charge crackles through the group, ever alert for omens, signs of a visitation from Spirit. The Hawk, messenger of the Gods, has arrived to bless our ceremony this morning. The surge of feelings generated by the group radiate outward from Stonehenge along the threads of light that emanate from such temples, whether natural or man-made, and touch the hearts of awakening humanity, everywhere.

Once the chalice has been replaced on the altar, it is time to make our personal offerings to the Goddess. After enjoying the sunrise, our main intent for visiting Stonehenge is to make pilgrimage to one of the most powerful sacred spaces in the British Isles. We have all brought gifts: a prayer, a dance, a poem, a pledge, a flower. One by one, as the Spirit moves us, we step out from our position on the edge of the circle into the centre and offer our gifts. What a wonderful outpouring from the hearts of so many people! I feel very honoured to be part of such a loving, humble, powerful group of people who have no inhibitions in sharing their innermost feelings with one another.

As we are finishing, I notice a guard approaching from the tunnel entrance. He has a determined air about him and I know he is going to inform us that our time is up. OK. Everyone has delivered their gift, so we hold hands again to complete our ceremony. We thank the God, the Goddess, the Spirit of the Land and of Stonehenge for allowing us into their heart this morning, and for showing us wonders. We wish the energy we have helped generate this morning to be shared with All Beings, and those less fortunate than ourselves. A last chant, and we are done. We let go of each other's hands, and start to pack our belongings. The altar's components are wrapped and are placed in their bag.

Individually, we say our goodbyes to this place of magic and wonder. On the surface, not much has seemed to happen. Inside, our hearts and souls rejoice at the time we have spent in the presence of the Divine, recharging our batteries, rededicating our lives, merging with the Source, at home with Spirit. We make our way back to the cars, cleansed, renewed, smiling, talking in small groups.

One last part of the ritual still needs to be performed. Some of the group might even consider it to be the most important, and there is a keen sense of anticipation as we disrobe. Finally, in convoy, we drive off to our sacred appointment with the Friar Tuck greasy spoon cafe in the local town, Amesbury. The sacred chant that accompanies this part of the ceremony is: Yum, Yuuuuuuummmmmmmm!