Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | December 19, 2012

2012 Solstice Alignments & Long Time Sun

In preparing for our Winter Solstice celebrations this year I thought I’d do two things: the first was to check out the facts about the special ‘planetary alignment and ‘alignment with the centre of the galaxy’ that some people say is going to happen in a few days’ time. Well, unless you believe that astronomers and NASA are involved in some kind of conspiracy, it seems that neither of these statements is true. This video from the Morehead Planetarium explains things. (More on the NASA site here). No alignments in a few days’ time apparently:
The next thing I wanted to do was to find a chant or song that would work well with the theme of the solstice. Some surfing brought me to a chant sung by the Sikh singer Snatam Kaur:

Described as ‘an old Irish blessing’ it sounded strangely familiar. Wasn’t it Donovan who sang this? No – it was The Incredible String Band on a long track called ‘A Very Cellular Song’.
A bit of research revealed this to be a perfect example of the way something new can morph into something ‘traditional’ very rapidly. The song is sung after every Kundalini Yoga session of Yogi Bhajan’s 3HO movement, and for this reason is described in some places as ‘a traditional Sikh song’.
An email to my friend, music buff and fellow Druid Philip Shallcrass, yielded a swift response: “A Very Cellular Song emerged out of a 12-hour acid trip undertaken by Mike Heron in his parents’ house in Edinburgh in 1967. As the effects faded in the early morning, he picked out ‘May the long time sunshine…’ on an organ…narrowing down google searches led me here where it appears that ‘Yogi Ji’ heard the song sung by US hippies in the late 60s.”
As the correspondent in that forum says: “Yogi Ji (ie Yogi Bhajan) heard us singing the song and picked it up and started asking us to sing it after every class.”
This story highlights the issue of authenticity that John Michael Greer and I were discussing at the OBOD East Coast Gathering this summer (and recorded for the last month’s Druidcast podcast).
Mike Heron’s lyrics are beautiful and connect us to the world of Soul and the Divine. Should Druids or Sikhs not use them because they were composed in 1967 and are not ‘authentic’ elements of a Druid/Sikh/Yoga tradition? In my book, Divine inspiration flows through many people in many places and to deem them ‘inauthentic’ or of little value because they are of recent origin, seems nonsensical. Here’s the 1967 song – an extraordinary piece of work, not to everyone’s tastes! The Longtime Sun verse comes at 7.22 mins if you want to skip!


  1. Thank you Philip….. Blessings on the Solstice to you and your family, and also Mary Christ Mass to you too. love Alice

  2. Excellent! 😀

  3. “In my book, Divine inspiration flows through many people in many places and to deem them ‘inauthentic’ or of little value because they are of recent origin, seems nonsensical”
    Well said! 🙂

  4. Truth transcends the speaker.
    Blessings to all this Alban Arthan.

  5. In a nice bit of synchronicity, I read this post immediately after this post asking what constitutes tradition in modern Israeli culture… 🙂

  6. Thanks for posting the Incredible String Band link with the piece, Philip. The greatest rock’n’roll band in the world, without a doubt 😉
    On the subject of things becoming ‘traditional,’ it still amuses me that, having founded the Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri in 1993, by 1995 people wouldn’t let us make any changes to the way we conducted the ceremonies because they were ‘traditional.’ Two years to become ‘traditional’ may be some sort of record 😀
    A very merry, Incredible and String Bandy Yule to you and all my OBOD friends,
    Greywolf (aka the Other Philip) /|\

    • I remember a Dutch member of OBOD telling me they had thought of a new blessing for their Winter Solstice ritual a few years ago. They gently ‘squelched’ a mistleberry on the forehead of every participant. The ritual was witnessed by a journalist who wrote enthusiastically of this ancient and traditional part of the rite! 🙂

  7. “In my book, Divine inspiration flows through many people in many places and to deem them ‘inauthentic’ or of little value because they are of recent origin, seems nonsensical”

    Is this a metaphorical book, or are you writing a new one?

    • Hi Fox,
      I meant it metaphorically – ie ‘From my point of view’.
      However I am also working on a book (but that’s coincidental!)

  8. I remember buying the record when I was at school. I often chant “May the long time sun…….” as an aspiration and way of centering before my sitting meditation. I must admit that I do sometimes feel awkward, as it’s not part of the “tradition”, I shouldn’t, it’s a fine mantra.

    Roselle Angwin quotes it in her book: Riding the Dragon.

  9. Hi Keith,
    I think it’s a great mantra and interestingly it has a feeling of being both a ‘traditional Irish blessing’ (Like ‘May the Road rise up to meet you’) and at the same time a Dharmic prayer (“May the Pure light within you”) and so it combines East and west really nicely.

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