In our hearts, the peoples of Europe are pagans. Our native culture was formed after the end of the Ice Ages during what is known as the Neolithic (New Stone) Age and the Bronze Age, a period of several thousand years years. Our most ancient sacred sites are elaborate tombs and stone circles, some older than the pyramids of Egypt, and found especially in Ireland and the British Isles, showing that the spirituality of our ancestors honoured the dead and nature’s seasonal cycles.
The Iron Age brought a time of scarcity and conflict in Britain as the population grew and resources dwindled, which made it perhaps easy for the Roman Empire to invade and take over….though only as far as Hadrian’s Wall, the Picts of the north were unconquerable. Romans were known for absorbing local deities and religious festivals into their own pagan worldview, but the Druids of Britain were an exceptionally stubborn bunch. Resistance to Roman rule included the burning down of both Colchester and London by Iceni queen Boudicca, while the Roman army was engaged fighting the druids in their last outpost, Anglesea.
The retreat of the Roman Empire and the arrival of Christianity saw, at least at times, a continuing tradition of the ancient Celtic faith blending to some extent with Christianity, as evidenced by Celtic crosses which combined both the crucifix and the circle. The conversion of European leaders to Christianity was a gradual process that took several centuries, and of the populace took even longer. The Church and State worked hand in hand to build churches and cathedrals in the Middle Ages, and to destroy the last vestiges of pagan practice through the Inquisition and the witch trials. Yet even so, in the 17th century a Maypole of over 100 feet height still stood in a prominent location near the Thames, and was restored as a sign of British sovereign spirit at the Restoration of the Monarch in 1688. The natural pagan magic of Summer Solstice has never been forgotten throughout the centuries of Christian domination, as Shakespeare assured us in A Midsummers Night’s Dream.
The Witchcraft Act brought in by Henry VIII and his successors forced pagan practices underground. They survived in secret family traditions and occultist societies, before coming out of the closet when the Act was repealed in the mid 20th century. This has led to the spread of Wicca around the world, a formulation of pagan witchcraft created in the UK, and the dawning realisation that the white man, the european, also once had an indigenous shamanic culture that was about reverence of nature, of the dead and the cosmic cycles, that honoured the body and sexuality and ecstatic states of reverence and reverie – just like every other race on the planet once had, until the monotheistic religions spread their ‘love’ by killing those who would not convert to it. And who did they focus their hatred on in order to destroy the power of the pagan faiths?
Among their victims were the genderqueer Gallae priesthood of Cybele, Great Mother of the Roman Empire with roots going back to at least 6000 BCE, the lesbian priestesses and eunuchs of the temples of Artemis/Diana and Isis/Ishtar, the sex-positive gnostic, heretical and free spirit groups of the Middle Ages (that also gave equal power to women as men), the wise women and fairy men of the countryside, the two-spirit shamans of the American continent (whom the Europeans called berdache, a French word for a bottom or ‘kept boy’), and their kin on all other continents. The Christian Europeans were so successful at eradicating the ancient profound associations between gender-fluidity, same-sex love and the sacred realms, that the modern gay movement has very little idea about this rich and illustrious past that exists in our ancestry. Until this is known and understood, the sometimes frightening position of trans and all queer people in this world will is unlikely to improve. But Summer Solstice opens the season of GAY PRIDE, through which, across the globe, queer visibility and presence has soared over the past few decades. And in certain places, unseen by most, our ancient connections to the spirit worlds are gradually being reclaimed also. The merging of queer and pagan spirit brings an acceleration of human consciousness, opens the portals to awakening – for all: because, from the Qedesha of ancient Canaan to the Quimbanda and Bori-Bori of Africa and the Mahu of Polynesia, TRANS AND GAY/QUEER PEOPLE – ie those who embody masculine and feminine spirit strongly in their one being – this is what we have always done.
This SUMMER SOLSTICE 2020 coincides with the NEW MOON IN CANCER and a SOLAR ECLIPSE, which happens on a 19 year cycle, last time in 2001. Due to PANDEMIC CONDITIONS people are not welcome at STONEHENGE this year – instead there is a LIVESTREAM broadcast available online – for the first time in the history of the planet the ancient stone spirits of the Henge are speaking to the whole world!
2020 is bringing so much change. So many assumptions about our culture, history and destiny are beginning to fall, to transform. This includes our collective understanding of spirituality, of who we are, living as humans on planet earth.
As we do this, we in Europe and across most of the world might reflect on the fact that Christianity is an invader, an interloper from another land – but one that came with a divine purpose. What that purpose was is HISTORY. It, like Judaism and Islam, came to bring something that is ultimately intended to form a harmony with the natural ancient shamanic wisdom of the planet.
As more and more of us get in touch with our core pagan hearts and spirits, we re-enter the magic of connection, of being part of the dance with all other beings in Creation, instead of vaguely terrified souls, bouncing between the promises/threats of religion and the nihilism of scientific materialism. As we do this we influence the vibrations in the spaces we inhabit, our homes become sanctuaries of love, peace and healing comfort, our communities become sources of immense love and support. Pagan practice heals our wounds of disconnection, isolation and fear. We have to practice both alone and with others to get the full healing effect. Summer Solstice 2020 is a huge turning point on dear beloved planet Earth. Sun and moon aligned at zero degrees Cancer, the sign of the Mother, of the home and of love – the great Goddess is re-entering the playing field of life, change is here. LOVE IS COMING.