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INTRODUCTION                  More druid pages, links on the right.

The Sun in Druidry

If Witchcraft is the religion of the Moon, Druidry is, it is often said, the religion of the Sun. Its public rituals are performed in the eye of the Sun, mainly during daylight, though some begin or end in the dark, for example on the Solstices. Of course, that is not the whole story, for Druidry is above all other things the spirituality of balance. The Moon is important in Druidry, both for marking the passing of time in the Celtic world and for working with the energies of the night as well as the day.

Nor do wise witches turn from the power of sunlight. Historically, they needed to hold their ceremonies under cover of darkness because of the severe persecution they suffered from the fifteenth Century for more than two hundred years. During this shameful period up to a quarter of a million people were killed in Europe and Scandinavia. Indeed witchcraft was still illegal in Britain until 1951.

So how did the revivalist Druids of the eighteenth and nineteenth Century avoid problems of persecution? Because witches were, until the 1950s, mainly working-class women while the revivalist Druids were male middle class - and so regarded as eccentric, not a threat to public order. Even today in some parts of the world a coven of white witches meeting in a park at broad daylight, especially with their children, would attract evangelists, police and social workers!

The Sun and Druidesses

That leads us to Druidesses. Though traditionally the Moon has been regarded as female and associated with motherhood and fertility, there were also many Sun Mothers, a number of whom have survived in indigenous cultures that have followed the same way of life for thousands of years.

In a number of cultures too the Sun Mother has a Sun Daughter. The Celts believed that when the end of the world came the Sun Mother would give birth to a daughter who would herald the new order.

Sulis, Brighid, Grainne and Aine are solar goddesses within the Celtic tradition and ceremonies dedicated to the Celtic Aine and Grainne survived until well into the last century and are still recalled in folk ritual.

Today some still have difficulty accepting sun goddesses because we look at the concept through a window distorted by two millennia of prejudice. The sun gives us warmth and light and encourages the crops to grow, nurturing, creative, life giving, female functions. Not so in the Classical patriarchal view of the Sun as dominance and warlike, the Ancient Greek Apollo in his chariot was always above humankind, unless stopping to seduce a nymph or usurp the power of the Earth Mother at the oracle at Delphi. Sun goddesses tended to regularly visit the fields and hilltops as lovely golden-haired women overseeing the progress of people, animals and the land.

The conquering Sun God was adopted along with lots of other female unfriendly symbols by collectors of world myths from the eighteenth Century onwards. Thus the Moon image became a weak reflection of male, solar energy - and therefore always female. This was in spite of the existence of male lunar gods, for example the Slavic Triple Moon god. Myesyats who represented the three stages of the life cycle. As for the Sun Goddesses, they were conveniently ignored as not fitting with the brief of the researchers.

Of course, some Sun Goddesses were also deities of the Moon like Aine. Aine’s sister Grainne was the Celtic solar crone goddess, who woke the fertility of the earth every Spring after the long winter and may have been the original hag of winter. The top of her sacred hill at Leinster, in Ireland, like that of the hill of Aine, was the scene for torchlight processions and bonfires at the Summer Solstice and the first grain harvest at the beginning of August. These ceremonies persisted into the twentieth century.

So the sun of the Druidesses can be both empowering and life-bringing and the same is true for Druids.

In Northern traditions where sunlight is scarce in winter months, Sun Mothers are still quite prevalent.

Exploring the power of the Sun

  • I would suggest for Druids, as well as Druidesses, that it may be helpful to explore the female aspects of the Sun, especially of gentle sunlight of early morning and evening. Walk out in sunlight, especially sunshine that appears unexpectedly on a winter day, allowing light to warm every pore; splash in puddles of sunlight after rain or paddle or swim in the light in the sea or a swimming pool.

  • Observe sunlight rippling on water, colouring the leaves, casting a momentary brilliant disc of radiance in the midst of shadows. Go out at sunrise, noon and dusk and experience the different energies that flow through nature, urban streets and you.

  • In your journal record the images, words, emotions and impressions that the sun evokes in you at different times of the day, the year and in different places, noting how you feel intense heat, clear sunlight or a gentle evening glow. We are lucky in the modern world that it is now so much easier for us to visit different places so that in twenty four hours we can move from summer to winter and back again. As we fly round the globe, we can watch the sun set and within an hour or so rise again. Technology too can offer us via computer or satellite link images of the Midnight Sun in the North, of the blazing orb rising huge over the horizon in a desert, of sunlight shimmering on snow, of eclipses and the sun rays shafting a stone circle, a cathedral labyrinth or suddenly illuminating the entrance of an ancient tomb, on the Midsummer or Midwinter Solstice.

Making Sun water

Healing with Sun Water

The Seasons of the Sun

In the chapter on the Druidic Wheel of the Year (Modern Day Druidess) I have described the seasonal celebrations at the solar change points, the Equinoxes and Solstices whose differing energies allow us to work with their particular qualities and absorb these strengths into our own life, as we carry out rites like our ancestors for the necessary turning of the seasonal wheel.

But within each day too the Sun Wheel turns and so we can work at these solar highs and lows to restore our connection with nature and absorb the strengths we need. This does not have to be with formal ritual. If you light a candle, for example, to welcome the dusk and sit enfolded by the fading light you can focus on a point on the horizon and ride the gentle daily downturn of the Wheel. Of course, you may be a shift worker or still have a mountain of paperwork to complete before home time. Or you may have to brace yourself for the arrival home of the family and all their different demands. But that brief oasis of stillness at dusk can switch off the more frantic centres in your brain and bring a harmony to your spirit that will enable you to finish serenely in half the time when all around you are fretting and twitching in overdrive.

Sun Times

Dawn varies each day and can be found in a diary or the weather section of a newspaper. Unless you live on the line marking GMT, the sun will not be exactly overhead at Noon, so work either with your own local Noon time when the sun is directly above you. Dusk also varies each evening. When you have a free weekend or a few days, live by the four markers: dawn, noon, dusk and midnight. Experience the different energies out of doors and following the rhythms of the sky as our ancestors did, before the advent of electricity. If you are afraid of the dark, work just before dawn initially so that you can witness the inevitable return of light-to our ancient forebears this was a matter of trust, so if you can learn to trust again, you will relax.

Dawn

This is a very special point in Druidry as the sunrise at the Midsummer or Midwinter Solstice especially symbolise the birth or rebirth of light. Many stone circles and passage graves are aligned to sunrise on special days; in the Christian tradition too, the importance of these special sunrises is recognised. For example, in the centre of the large octagonal labyrinth in Amiens Cathedral in Picardy in France, a shaft of sunlight filters on the Mid Winter and the Summer Solstice (around June 21).

The centre of the Labyrinth in the nave of Amiens Cathedral corresponds with the Spring Equinox and is represented in ritual by facing East. However, since the Sun only rises in the true East (and sets in the West) on the equinoxes, you may wish to work with its actual position of the sun in the sky when dawn breaks.

It is worth rising early to sit or stand and witness the beautiful patterns as darkness retreats, sometimes not without struggle.

Dawns are different, in winter, in summer, in bad weather or during a clear period, over plains, in deserts, over the sea, above mountains in forests. Walk in the quiet of the city before it wakes or the countryside or watch the darkness receding over the sea, leaving the scarlet tinged waves.

Every dawn is a Spring Equinox written small, a resurrection, the birth of new hope. Today is the day you anticipated or feared in many sleepless nights or anxious moments. So walk into the Dawn with courage, yelling your defiance or your belief you will win through or that this day will be absolutely the best one ever, because you will make it so.

Noon

Be not sad, be as the sun at midday says a passage in the I Ching and so whether the sun is beating down or hiding behind sullen clouds, the noon energies are powerful and so are you. Like the Summer Solstice whose microcosm or mini-version it is, the Sun King rose in triumph. The view from the top of the solar ferris wheel is quite spectacular. Therefore at every Noon as at every Summer Solstice count your blessings. If they are thin on the ground, seize some of that Sun power, reflecting it through a crystal quartz sphere (even the tiniest one will be bursting with sun power). Allow the reflected light to fill you with energy and assurance that all will be well.

Remember, too, the channel the light and power of noon into your healing work, hold your crystal quartz or crystal sphere (size does not matter) to reflect the light. Speak into the crystal words of healing and direct the rays or light beams to whoever or whatever needs healing, person, animal or place. You may be rewarded by a sudden tiny rainbow in the centre of the crystal, confirming that positive thoughts returns to the sender three fold.

Dusk

‘Never let the sun go down on anger,’ my late mother used to say. This is the daily message of Dusk, writ large in the Autumn Equinox. What is gained and what is lost all merge into the darkness and with them we can drain resentment, regrets and also crowing triumphantly a moment or two too long.

So Dusk is a good time if near water to cast a stone or a flower expressing regrets. Or bury the stone of a fruit or a few seeds that will in the future bear fruit and blossom from what has been perhaps too dearly learned. As you light your Dusk candle if you are at home (easier after long summer nights when dusk is late), you can speak words of blessings on your enemies and consign the day to be reworked in the darkness.

Then as shadows soften harsh emotions you can if you need send reconciliatory letters or e-mails, make soothing phone calls, or speak in person your love or forgiveness, if only to yourself if another person is implacable.

If all is well in your world, you can share your own peace and happiness perhaps with someone who always goes home alone and wishes it were otherwise, to a friend or family member far from home in a hotel room or at college who draws the curtains on the darkness or a neighbour who would welcome a brief visit before you settle down either contentedly in your own castle or with loved ones for the evening.

As I said earlier, you can make a dusk oasis even if you are at work and then perhaps light a candle and have a simple dusk ritual later when you do arrive home,  reading a list of the names of people and places you know are in need.

Midnight

An unlikely sun time, but an important one as it corresponds with the Midwinter Solstice the rebirth of Light Just as sunset began a new day for the Celts, so in the modern world midnight is the transition.

You may be awake because you have been out socially or entertaining friends, you may be a shift worker or have returned home late from work or travelling. Or you may be lying awake worried about people or tomorrow or next year and this is a time when dragons can loom large.

The darkest hour is before the Dawn is another popular saying that rings of truth. But in another time zone the sun is shining brightly and we know, unlike our distant forebears, that the sun does not disappear into the sea or back into the womb of the earth mother to sleep until morning.

Midnight too is the time of the wise ancestors, not of frightening phantoms who will haunt you., but the gentle essences stretching back through time, those who spiritually and genetically have made you what you are; so to with you at the midnight hour are the guardians of the night who protect you in these waking hours before dawn and who will carry you into peaceful sleep if you lie down and let their faces form.

But first let float on the dark tide that even now is turning, all those things from the past, the old voices of doubt or unfair criticism that wound us when we are children and vulnerable and may return to haunt us in the night; let float also what cannot now be, name your worries and whatever keeps you awake or surfaces when you are trying to relax. Burn them in a dark blue candle as black threads or wool and when you are done, send the light as you extinguish it to the Sun, knowing that it will return to light the dawn.

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