The temperature in my car shows 24 degrees as I arrive at the Merry Maidens stone circle yesterday with my husband and three young sons. I am certain that in this blazing heat we will probably be the only ones who have interrupted Fathers Day to mark the Summer Solstice.
As I enter the stones I am moved as I recognise dear friends that have travelled down from Devon to be with us and are already waiting there. Steadily a stream of 17 women come together in the centre of this sacred and very special site and at 3.30pm I begin to hold our circle. Our men act as our guardians and hold the other circle speaking to visitors and dog walkers about the ceremony that we are holding and our children play in the long meadow grass and seek out shade.
I offer four Red Tent Cornwall community gatherings a year at sacred sites in West Penwith to mark the change of each season. They are an opportunity (whatever the weather!!) to honour the land and ourselves as awakening women by coming together in ceremony here in Cornwall. My intention is to reconnect us with our pre-Celtic ancestry, to celebrate the cycles of the Earth that move through our women’s bodies and to celebrate our growing community. It is the closest Sunday to Summer Solstice and I have chosen to hold ceremony here at the Merry Maidens where legend tells us that the 19 stones represent the 19 maidens turned to stone for dancing on the sabbath. Here I believe as tribal Britons we would have come to be welcomed into the sacred act of Mothering. Here what we gave birth to had significance to our community and we were held and supported. Whether it be children or other creative endeavours we would have received blessing for our birthing potential as cyclical women.
I begin by inviting in a new retelling of that story and allowing the petrification and fear that we have held in our women’s bodies for so many thousands of years to now be released. We start to dissolve the frozen parts of ourselves in the heat of the sun down into the Earth beneath us. Our bodies releasing tension and fear and slowly moving in a sideways figure eight to encourage permission to feel into our connection with the ancient grandmother of this sacred place. We are standing in circle mirroring the part of our menstrual cycle that we embody, or life arc or moon cycle if no longer bleeding. We feel the warm warm hands of the ancient grandmother of our ancestral land holding our feet and welcoming her daughters home to their cyclical knowing.
She is receiving all we have silenced in our lives through fear, all the times that we have felt too scared to honour her, all the times that we have chosen to stay small, all the times that we have made choices so that we didn’t need to feel at all. Afraid to stand in the truth of our inner knowing, in order to remain safe, remain small, stay unnoticed and at all costs avoid attention that could lead to persecution. We release this old story now as she tenderly holds our feet. The terror and anxiety that has been inevitable as we perpetuate self-abandonment is released.
Having let go, together I invite us each feel the tin and copper energies running up our legs. Forging together in our wombs to create the bronze of our ancestors who made this circle. We start to receive the Earth energy and one by one step in to hold hands and to create our ceremony.
We recognise that we are the creators of a new cycle and each woman proudly brings herself fully present by name and by her Land. We become conscious of what it is that we are now birthing in our lives and in the coming year. We recognise that at the peek of our creative masculine energy at Summer Solstice that we have an opportunity to fertilise what we are each longing for and drawing into matter. In our bodies we feel this as ovulation each month or during the full moon as our energy rises. We pause to consider what it is that we are individually creating in our lives, then each speak our clear intention. We notice where we feel this in our bodies as we speak and if there is a sign or a symbol that could capture the essence. One by one we step into the centre in pairs and are painted with woad as we speak and fully receive our intention.
We look around the circle at one another now woaded in the manner of our ancestors carrying the medicine of our inner Warrior / Mother energy.
There is a tangible feeling of power, strength, solidarity and above all love.
We close with words that individuals feel to share and then join together in song and movement.
I am blessed and honoured to have found the courage to stand in my home county.
It is my great privilege to know that I am not alone.
I smile as the open topped double decker passengers glance over to us and witness a new dawning of women waking up and being seen and heard.