Saturday 21st December 2002: Mid-winter/Yule ritual at the Custard Factory (Gibb Square) corner Heath Mill Lane and Digbeth, Central Birmingham. The ritual was led by Sarah and Syrbal. I made it a general Pagan ritual, with elements from several pagan traditions but obviously with some strong Druid bits. The Sunday Mercury was there, and the Birmingham Post interviewed me before and a photographer turned up later. Here is what they said and the photos they took:
WINTER CELEBRATIONS AS PAGANS JOINFORCES
As the sun set on the shortest day of the year last night, a group of Midland druids joined together, to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Pagans from across the region - led by the High Priest Derek Carr and High Priestess Sarah Gale - met at the Custard Factory in Digbeth, Birmingham, for the ancient ceremony. It began yesterday afternoon at 3pm and culminated at 3.53pm when the sun finally dipped behind the clouds for the last time. The druids formed a circle in front of a 40ft Green Man where they offered prayers. Worshippers, many of whom donned long flowing cloaks and held symbolic staffs, then processed back into the building and re-assembled for a period of reflection and meditation. PICTURE Marc Kirsten.
(front page) Hedge witch Sarah Gale at the Yule festival held at the Custard Factory in digbeth Birmingham. Pagans, hedge witches and druids gathered there to celebrate the rebirth of the sun on the shortest day of the year. Report, Page 5.
(page 5) Druids flocked to the hub of Birmingham's creative community to perform ancient rituals as part of the winter solstice.
Pagans, hedge witches and druids gathered at the Custard Factory, in Digbeth, on Saturday to celebrate the rebirth of the sun on the shortest day of the year.
The winter solstice, believed to be the oldest known religious ceremony, was marked in a service around the 40ft Green Man pagan sculpture.
Druid Derek Carr, known as Syrbal, of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, said: "To a druid, everywhere is sacred because it is born of the same earth, but urban spaces like the Custard Factory are important. By staging our winter solstice ritual here, we are able to make the festival more accessible to the public."
Mr Carr, a technical editor for 40 years, became a druid five years ago.
"There are a lot of misconceptions about druids, pagans and so on, so the other reason we are here is to try and educate people about this," he said.
"Paganism has nothing to do with Satan. It is a very spiritual and loving religion.
"Solstice means the still point of the sun and as it is celebrated on the shortest day, druids mark the death of the old sun before it is reborn."
Fires are the focus of the ceremony, which culminated at 3.53 pm as the sun set over Birmingham.
Mr Carr added: "The order hopes to establish a long and fruitful relationship with the Custard Factory. "As soon as people realise we are not about making bloody sacrifices or anything sinister, then we'll be able to encourage more to take part."
This page last updated: 06 June 2018