Last weekend we booked ourselves into the annual winter solstice celebrations at Stonehenge Aoteoroa, near Carterton. It was, or claimed to be, an ancient Celtic/Druidic ceremony called Alban Arthan – which can be translated as “Light of Arthur.” The ceremony was followed, at the Carterton RSA, by a dinner during which there were presentations about the meaning of it all.
The ceremony, held in freezing southerly conditions with the rain…just…holding off, was interesting, if a little repetitive. Mostly inoffensive stuff: peace in the valley, changing of the seasons, darkness and light, rebirth and so on. I kept feeling, as indeed I do in Christian church services, that most of this was mom and apple pie stuff. OK, remind us once, but don’t go on and on about it – I heard you fine the first time.
The robed and hooded celebrants held north, east, south and west positions and took turns to add their two penn’oth worth from their geographical perspectives. It added up to an indivisible whole and harmony on Earth. Or so they said. They even managed to mix a little Maori into the ceremony, as in this example:
West: “Tane Mahuta, the element of the Earth. May the harmony of our circle be complete.”
South: “I proclaim the Festival of Alban Arthan, Light of Arthur, on this winter solstice.”
East: “The turning point of the whole world.”
North: “The time of Nardia and rebirth.”
West: “I proclaim the time of greatest night.”
South: “And this – the dark of winter between the death and the end of all things past and the birth and beginning of all things past and the birth and beginning of all things new and reborn. Look forward to the things that are beginning…the spark of new life that is the promise of the death and rebirth of the Gods and the morning joy of the Goddess, heralding the new year coming.”
East: “The winter solstice is marked throughout the whole world. It belongs to no one area or no one people, but stands for universal truth. At one we stand in this circle and attend the triumph of the dark. Now is the time to mourn that which is finished and dying.”
…and so on, and on. We even got a Druidical (or was it Celtic?) version of the Indian Ooommmmmmmm…..
The after-match function was excellent. It was nice to be in the toasty warm Carterton RSA after freezing in the ferro-concrete circle. A roast meal hit the spot. There were excellent presentations from both the Stonehenge Aoteoroa director and the Druids. The latter revealed themselves to be funny and pretty normal. I guess they take themselves seriously, but there was a welcome absence of the humbug that often comes from Christian and Muslim prattlers. No, I’m not about to join the cult, but I’m happy for them to carry on in their own fashion, doing less damage to the world than conventional god-botherers.
We thought the whole event, from the ceremony to the dinner, was excellent value for $35.