Monday, June 23, 2008

Happy Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice has many names. Some call it Midsummer (meteorologically, it is the middle of Summer), some call it Litha. Whatever the word, a lot is happening during this fire festival.

The fields are full and ripe with growing plants for the upcoming harvest, just as the Goddess nurtures the God in her pregnant belly. The Oak King and the Holly King battle it out once again, and the Holly King reigns supreme until Yule. Days will start to get shorter even when it feels like the warmth is just beginning. In my area, almost every day ends in a spectacular thunder storm; the power of nature is in full force.

The group that put on the festival I went to at Beltane had planned a ritual weekend for Litha. This wasn't a public festival, but a private gathering at the proprietors' home, which is the group's established sacred space. The back deck offered a great place to congregate and partake of Sabbat crafts, and a long wood and earthen staircase led to the Grove, bonfire, and ritual circle back in the woods of their property near a small creek. This place had a magickal feel to it, and a coworker of mine has been trying for quite some time to get me there.

We had a great amount of crafts planned for the day. There was decorative besom making (the shaft being a large cinnamon stick and the bristles were a long grass grown right on the property). We made dream pillows, sewn and stuffed with herbs, and purification pouches to be thrown into the ritual fire. There was also a station for faerie houses and carving/decorating wands, staffs, or walking sticks. We also had a sun wheel that we were to decorate and would also be burned in the ritual fire. There were places for camping on the property and many people pitched tents for the weekend.

Most of Saturday was spent in crafts. I made a little besom, two dream pillows, and a purification pouch filled with nine herbs representing things I needed to be rid of and things I wanted to call to me. There was quite a lot of drama as some of the children inadvertently stirred up a nest of yellow jackets. My roommate used to be an EMT and she was a great help, though she later told me she was really nervous and unsure of herself because she had never previously dealt with possible allergic reactions. While I'm very sorry that a couple kids were sporting multiple sting wounds (and some of the adults that responded to the cry for help by the creek were too), and am very thankful that not a single person stung was seriously allergic to it. Despite my roommate's nerves, I know she was a great help and a comfort that she was there.

The excitement of the yellow jacket attack delayed our feast only a little. Once everyone was treated and calmed down or sleeping, we ate a sumptuous meal of mostly homemade dishes; grilled meats, salads and pasta, a delectable dip, and bar-b-qued venison. There was also muffins, cakes, cookies, and bread, and the whole meal was complimented by organic lemonade and sangria.

The second snag (the first being the yellow jacket attack) happened right after we cleaned up from our feast. Clouds and thunder starting rolling in, the skies opened up, and rain poured in great drops. Some of us stayed on the deck, not really protected under the upper deck, and some went inside to wait it out. The rain came down so hard that we all had to retreat indoors. After that cell, another one came through. The ritual and bonfire was a rain-out, as well as the bardic circle planned for afterwards (storytelling, singing, dancing, drumming, just fun things!). We stayed to the wee hours of the morning playing silly board games. Even though the ritual didn't happen, I can't think of a better way to have spent the day.

And it's not over! Those who camped out eventually retired to their tents, those who's tents got soaked ended up in the house or went to their own homes. My roommate's tent was a lake, and I didn't have one, so we went home for the night and returned (quite a bit late) the following day. Sunday became another day of crafts. Those who didn't make a besom were able to do so, some made more dream pillows. A few of us walked through the woods looking for staffs, one found a fallen branch of purpleheart (I almost picked that up, but my roommate gave me a length of poplar that she had found on the property some time ago, that was more meaningful to me, though I love purpleheart). Then we spent much of the afternoon sanding, drawing, carving, or otherwise tending to our wonderful wooden finds. In the afternoon, we had a great linner (somewhere between lunch and dinner) of left-over feast dishes. We eventually had all the fun we could stand, and another storm was moving in, so we cleaned up and headed to a restaurant for a very late dinner. I admit I was not the least bit hungry and just should have gone home, but I was in wonderful company and went with them anyway. This put me home extremely late so it will be quite hard to get through today.

Despite my fatigue (and the bad choice of staying when I should have gone that caused it), the yellow jacket attack, and the fact that our ritual couldn't happen as intended because of the storms, I can't think of a better way to have spent the Sabbat. I hope all of you had an equally wonderful, and without the stinging trauma, holiday!

No comments :