Good spell ahead -- druid
The omens are good that 2012 will be an excellent year, a druid said yesterday, after the sun shone on Stonehenge during a dawn ceremony to mark the winter solstice.
The word from Rollo Maughfling, the arch druid amidst the standing stones in Wiltshire, was that things will get better, much better.
He said that the sun rising over the horizon at the end of the religious service, bathing more than 1,000 people who attended in pale light, meant good things for the next 12 months.
The mild temperatures and sunshine at the pre-historic site were a marked contrast to last year's solstice, when the giant stones were surrounded by a thick blanket of snow and the winter morning mist obscured the actual sunrise.
"Just as the ceremony came to an end the sun came over the horizon, it was excellent,'' Mr Maughfling said.
"It has been a very jolly occasion. It's a good omen for the year ahead.''
During the winter solstice, the sun is closer to the horizon than at any other time in the year, meaning shorter days and longer nights. The day after the winter solstice marks the beginning of lengthening days, leading up to the summer solstice in June.
The shortest day of the year often falls on December 21, but this year the druid and pagan community marked the first day of winter yesterday because the modern calendar of 365 days a year -- with an extra day every four years -- does not correspond exactly to the solar year.
People who want to experience the winter solstice but could not get to the stone circle are now being offered the chance to experience it "virtually". A trio of computer scientists at the University of Huddersfield have teamed up with software company Ribui to produce an iPhone and iPad app for "armchair druids".