As people across the globe gather to celebrate the summer solstice, one Twitter user shared a picture of a cult-like celebration taking place at Stonehenge.
June 21 marks the official start of summer, and people around the globe are taking part in various celebrations to mark the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. As an estimated 9,500 people flocked to Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England to watch the sun rise over the historic formation, planetary scientist and astrophysics professor Antonio Paris captured a bizarre cult-like moment.
"Today is #SummerSolstice. Earth's maximum axial tilt toward the Sun is 23.44°. That means you can dress up like Gandalf and head towards Stonehenge," Paris captioned the image, which he shared on Twitter.
The picture shows a group of people clad in white robes and veils circled around the center of the Neolithic monument. Two of the people are holding banners while two others appear to be holding bouquets of some sort.
The image quickly became a thing of speculation and amusement for Twitter users.
"Gandalf? I thought they were nuns," one person wrote.
Gandalf? I thought they were nuns. 🤪— Hermit (@hermitme1) June 21, 2018
One person could reply in nothing other than GIF-form.
"Wait a minute, now lol. My passion is cultural anthropology, primarily with prehistoric culture/society. Stonehenge & ancient cults/religion is a never ending fascination for me. But that look on your face..." one person commented.
Wait a minute, now lol. My passion is cultural anthropology, primarily with prehistoric culture/society. Stonehenge & ancient cults/religion is a never ending fascination for me. 😉 But that look on your face... 😆😆😆— Melanie Anne-#VetsResistSquadron (@MelAnneRose) June 21, 2018
"What is this new religion?" another person candidly asked.
what is this new religion— promo4forex (@promo4forex) June 21, 2018
Although Antonio offered no further explanation as to what exactly was taking place in the photo, it is possible that white robed people were taking part in a pagan tradition, as those who are part of the religion believe that the changing of seasons represent changes in new beginnings, fertility and the harvest.
"The summer solstice is honored in several ancient cultures as the union between heaven and earth. As we emerge out of the spring—where we were in a period of renewal, birthing new ideas, and shedding the icy layers of the shadow months—we slowly grow into summer, a time of manifestation and the ripening of the fruit," Brooklyn-based energy healer Emily Mikaelah told Vogue.
As CNN Travel notes, traditions around the world dictate various celebrations for the summer solstice, including feasts, parties, and one of the oldest rituals known as the Klidonas.