As a glorious bubble of high pressure settles over the magical British Isles, the sun continues its climb into the blue sky and reaches the furthest point from the equator in its annual cycle. On this day of light, the 21st of June, we celebrate the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice, Midsummer’s Day.
For many centuries, the people of our ancient lands have acknowledged and celebrated the power of the sun. After all, life depends on its yearly cycle.
There are many traditions, beliefs, rituals and folklore attached to midsummer. Many religions, both old and new, have some sort of ceremony associated with this time of year. It was a day to give thanks to the sun, and to bring luck with the weather for the remainder of the growing season.
Vikings used this time of year to hunt extensively, meet with others and resolve disputes. In pre-Christian times bonfires would be lit on Mid Summer’s Eve so people could leap over the flames to keep the Devil away and bring luck to lovers.
Stonehenge Solstice photos
Today, if you head to Stonehenge for either the summer or winter solstice you will find a big celebration with Druids, Pagans, Witches and alternative folk, gathering to party and honour the earth, our ancients and the spirits on this important day of the year. It’s one of the only times you can go within the stones themselves and I can tell you, it’s a spiritual, magical and crazy experience.
If you’re lucky you might see fairies!
In Fae folklore, midsummer is the time when the veil between our world and that of the fairies is at its thinnest. If you are ever lucky enough to catch a glimpse of fairies or to get a little peep into their world, it may well be on the solstice.
[Midsummer was seen as] a time when the normal laws of nature or divinity could be suspended, when spirits and fairies could contact humans, when humans could exceed the usual limitations of their world.
A quote by Ronald Hutton, University of Bristol, Professor of History
Summer Solstice and Stonehenge
When it comes to stone circles, the summer and winter solstice and spring and autumn equinox seem to hold particular importance to the way they were laid out. This applies to one of the most impressive and awesome of stone circles, Stonehenge, here in Weird Wiltshire. On the morning of the solstice the sun will rise and shine through the stones from the Northeast from behind The Heel Stone illuminating the centre of the stones with light.
Even though we don’t know what Stonehenge was built for there’s definitely a connection to the sun and the seasons of the year. So, in honour of this day, I’ve pulled together all the history, folklore, Fae folk, ghosts, UFOs and cryptids of Stonehenge in this extra special blog.
Summer Solstice Specials with How Haunted Podcast
One of the best parts of writing Weird Wiltshire is the friendships it has created and the chance to do some joint creations with fellow lovers of the paranormal. And so, I found myself collaborating again with Rob, the creator of How Haunted podcast. It’s a brilliant podcast about hauntings and ghostly locations, mainly in the North but also anywhere Rob fancies researching.
It was an honour to be invited back for another chat (following my first invite to talk about The Ancient Ram Inn) on this popular podcast for a two-part summer solstice special about all things Stonehenge. We had a good old yarn, the type you might imagine huddled in the back of a dark old pub, fire blazing one stormy autumn night while nursing a pint. But, of course, it’s nearly midsummer so it was warm and light and summerly when we recorded these episodes and we were on Zoom. A very modern way to share ghost stories. You’ll find the links below!
Astral Projection at Stonehenge
If you’ve been following me for a while you may have read this story of astral projection, in which I was involved, this exact day last year, on the approach to the summer solstice. To this day, I cannot explain what happened that day. If you.ve got an explanation I’d love to hear it! You can read it here:
West Kennet Long Barrow photo
Midsummer ghost at West Kennet Long Barrow
Since it is midsummer and we are in Wiltshire, I also want to reshare a bonus story with you about a ghost that only appears on midsummer’s day over on Ko-fi. It’s at West Kennet Long Barrow at Avebury, another magical and ancient wonder in this mysterious county. Consider it a little bonus to celebrate the Summer Solstice. It’s free to read, as all my work is, but if you fancy buying me a cuppa you can do so on Ko-fi. It all helps me to keep Weird Wiltshire going and I sure would appreciate it!
Watch a lovely short video of the 1997 summer solstice sunset filmed from the barrow looking over to Silbury Hill here.
So, this brings us to the end of this special summer solstice blog. It’s been lovely to celebrate such an important point of the calendar and I know I have shared enough here to keep you busy for a couple of hours, if you chose to delve. Happy solstice to you. Sending love, light and blessings!
Subscribe to Weird Wiltshire for more spooky tales and if you have one of your own, get in touch. I’d love to hear it!
Set image courtesy of Glyn Coy at Hidden Wiltshire.
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