I’ve remembered it’s coming up to that day again. I went to Stonehenge for the solstice once. I’m glad I went, but I doubt I’ll go again. There were a couple of big disappointments.
One was the lack of a visible English Heritage presence. There were an estimated 20,000 people there who wanted some connection to the past. I would have thought that was a good target audience for EH. At the very least there’s money to be made with the Solstice 2012 t-shirts to be sold. The official solstice blankets for those who forgot to bring one, solstice kagouls and umbrellas for when it rains and so on. It’s also an excellent time to attempt guilt-tripping people into joining EH to support access to ancient sites. They might have trouble with this last one as they’re not known for supporting access to Stonehenge on the solstice, but it’d be worth a try. The impression I got (rightly or wrongly) was that EH had abandoned the site for the night.
The other was the sheer mess around the site. Everyone got a bag as they went in for their rubbish. It doesn’t have to look like this. After all the fighting over access in the 1980s and 90s, is this a place people come are they here to celebrate or to conquer?
On the plus side I got a lesson in the difference between modern Pagans and New Agers. The Pagans tended to look dignified and patient. Quite a few had their ceremonial robes on, but not all. The easiest ones to spot were those who’d let their beards down for the night.
In contrast the New Agers were laden with mystical kit, and were often very purple. They’d looked agitated and annoyed. Every time someone elbowed in the ribs, she’d be wearing a pointy hat as if to compensate for the clothes she was wearing would ideally be on someone taller. There’d also be a purple scarf and purple jumper hidden beneath at least half a dozen medallions. I should have heard them coming with the various esoteric bangles and bracelets they were wearing.