Day 22. The ascent begins: winter solstice sunrise at Stonehenge

A Yule illustration by artist Sam Goodlet, Samdrawsthings
The sun rose on the 22nd of December after the longest night of the year.

This solstice tipping point marks the beginning of our slow journey of gaining a teeny bit more daylight each day, and is Yule for witchy types.

By Imbolc at the beginning of February in the Wheel of the Year, even though it might be cold and grey still, there is a noticeable difference in the light.  And today, our journey there begins...

This winter solstice sunrise always feels special to me.

As a definite member of the HiberNation and someone who can struggle in the darker months, the sun rising on this day brings me hope.

And this year it was SO special.  I visited Stonehenge for the first time! 

AND we were treated to the most spectacular, clear sunrise.  This is not something you can guarantee in December in Britain (or even in June for the summer solstice to be honest).

I was speechless and overwhelmed.   

The stone circle at Stonehenge is on a private site, and when you visit for most of the year, a rope separates you from the stones themselves.  On the solstices, you can visit for free, and get in amongst the stones themselves.  

Local Druids lead a ritual, with many people joining in, while others hold their own celebrations, or simply come to witness the sunrise.

Getting access to this sacred site has been a literal and legal battle, that has only peacefully been resolved over the last 20-ish years.

While we were there, we were surrounded by a constant hubbub of drumming and horns, calling and cheering. 

It was an electric experience. Getting close to these huge stones was like approaching huge, thrumming stone giants.  

I've made a little video to give you a glimpse of the magic!