December 21 is the Midwinter Solstice - the longest night of the year. It is one of the oldest known festivals and our ancient pagan ancestors constructed huge monuments, such as Stonehenge, to mark the dawning of the sun after the longest night of the year.
Here are some open rituals and pagan events that are going on this year to honour the Winter Solstice:
18 -20 December; Midwinter Bear Feast.
This midwinter festival inspired by Sub-Arctic animistic and shamanic traditions is taking place in Cranborne, East Dorset. Although it is a residential festival, with full tickets costing £45, there are also some day tickets available. For more information and to book tickets, visit http://www.beartribe.co.uk/
19 - 20 December; Yuletide Fayre
Westgate Hall, Canterbury, Kent is the venue for a Yuletide Fayre. This winter solstice celebration will feature traditional music, seasonal plays and festive food. Entry free. For details visit http://www.magicalfestivals.co.uk/.
Saturday 19 December; Sabbat Ceremony in Avebury
A Pagan Sabbat Ceremony for the forthcoming Winter Solstice is taking place at Avebury Stone Circle, in Wiltshire. The event starts at 1pm. For more details, visit the website http://sn15.net/aveinfo/Aveinfo.html
Sunday 20 December; Druid Open Rituals
If you are in London, you can celebrate Alban Arthuan (the Light of Winter) on Primrose Hill with the Druid of Wormwood Scrubs. The event starts at 12.45pm and ends at 1.45pm. Meet on Primrose Hill, London NW1 8YH at the entrance opposite Rothwell St.
In Sussex, Anderida Gorsedd is holding a Winter Solstice Ritual at The Long Man of Wilmington. The Anderida Gorsedd is a Druid group facilitated by Damh the Bard and Cerri Lee. It holds regular open rituals at the Long Man of Wilmington to honour the seasons. For the Anderida Gorsedd open Winter Solstice ritual, meet at 1.30pm near the Long Man of Wilmington car park, for a walk up the hill at 2pm. Then after retire to the Giants Rest pub for a social drink. For more details, visit http://www.anderidagorsedd.org/Anderida_Gorsedd/Home.html
Monday 21 December; Ritual in Avebury
On the day of the Winter Solstice Sunrise is at 8.04am and Sunset is at 3:54pm, measured at Avebury Stone Circle, in Wiltshire. You can celebrate the Alban Arthuan, Yule or the Winter Solstice at Avebury Stone Circle in an open event at 5.47pm. For more details, visit the website http://sn15.net/aveinfo/Aveinfo.html
Thu 24 - Tue 29 December; Gaia Partnership Winter Retreat
This retreat on Welsh Borders near Hay-on-Wye is being run by the Gaia Partnership with Elaine Brook. It offers an opportunity to rediscover the real spirit of the season with good company, healthy food, beautiful country walks, meditation and relaxation.
Mornings will be in silence and the evenings will be spent around the fire telling tales and poetry.
The cost is £350, and a £50 deposit is required. To book, send cheque for £50 deposit, plus £15 per night if you wish single room, with details of your name, address, phone number, email and accommodation and diet requirements to: Nurses Cottage, Long Lane, Peterchurch, Hereford, HR2 0TE. Make cheques payable to Gaia Partnership Ltd.
Telephone: 0845 458 4718 for more details or visit the website http://www.gaiapartnership.org/
For other ideas for pagan ways of celebrating the Midwinter Solstice and Yule, visit http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2008/12/what-to-do-at-yule-if-youre-pagan.html
For details of future events visit my events page at http://paganevents.blogspot.com/,