Gatekeeper Midwinter Solstice 2021 in East Anglia

At the Winter Solstice each year, a small band of pilgrims in East Anglia go the coast at sunrise to watch the sun come up over the sea. Or - as in the words to Kate Hesketh Moore’s chant - the earth turn towards the sun.

This year we went to Shingle Street on the Suffolk coast. Shingle Steet is a fascinating place, at the mouth of the River Ore and opposite the tip of Orford Ness. The shifting sand banks and gravel mean that the shoreline is continually changing, with large pools appearing and disappearing so it never appears the same beach twice. On 21st December this year, the shingle went out into a point and some of us stood at the apex, eyes fixed on the horizon. To our great joy, the clouds thinned in a strip along the horizon and suddenly a huge red disc appeared, and slowly disappeared into the clouds again, but the sky turned rosy and it was beautiful.

Daily the earth turns towards you Grandfather And each in their own place sees the sun rise Daily the earth turns towards you Grandfather And each of us greats the day in our own way.
Gratitude and Blessing Thanksgiving and prayer.

Kate taught us the chant and we sang it to her drum.

We communed and danced, until cold and a bit hungry, we drove to Juniper Barn in Rendham for breakfast. Fortified and warmed, we went the short distance to Eight Acre Wood, where a bonfire had been built in a circular clearing at the top of the hill. We walked in silence through the wood, and tuned to the Gatekeeper before entering the circle. John Rogers, creator of the wood, had planted red oaks at the cardinal points of the compass. Having processed round the circle a few of us stopped at each cardinal point, before walking to the centre, singing ’Darkness into Light’, also written by Kate. Pam put a match to the fire and miraculously, considering how much rain had fallen in the last week, it came to life!

Luckily it didn’t rain and we enjoyed the fire, and sang and danced.

Donna, who has links in Afghanistan, is raising money through friends and sending it out to refugees who are stuck there. She had brought her bullroarer, and we decided to do a small ritual, in which we sent our healing thoughts to Afghanistan, while Donna swung her Bullroarer in a circle above her head. The whirring sound it made, seemed to be sending our prayers winging through the air.

Our Gatekeeper bard Kate, even had a song come to her while we stood around the fire:” Lady of fire, lady of fire, bring light to the midwinter lady of fire!” Eventually the fire burnt down and we gave thanks and wended our ways home.

Caroline Weatherby
Local Contact for East Anglia

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