On this day in Celtic mythology, the eternal battle between the Oak King and the Holly King changes tide and the Holly King begins to grow in power as the Oak King loses the battle (until Winter Solstice comes around again). Alternatively, this is also a day that the we mourn the Sun King as he is dying, to be reborn again at Yule.
In many religions and cultures, bonfires are lit on this day to ward away evil spirits and bring luck and blessings for a good harvest. Themes for the Summer Solstice include the sun, fire, transformation, honoring the faerie folk in your gardens and land, bountiful crops, and protection. Many pagans also use this holiday as a day of rededication to their beliefs and their deities.
Living in the desert, our family knows the sun very well. In the mornings, it is very pleasant, providing a gentle warmth and encouraging us to get outside and commune with nature. However, by noon, the heat from the sun can be overwhelming, and if you're not careful, can transform your garden into a dried up patch of dust.
On the Summer Solstice, we celebrated this powerful King of Summer. We pieced together a ritual, borrowing ideas from ourselves, Garden Witchery by Ellen Dugan, A Year of Ritual by Sandra Kynes, and the Litha ritual from 13moons.com. Outside we created a circle of stones in the desert (which is our backyard).
|Our tiny desert bundle.|
As we sweated in the heat, we tried to light a very small Solstice fire. Lighting a small fire in the desert is no small feat. If you have never experienced it, another thing that is very strong in the desert is the wind. We laughed as our tiny flames burned out very quickly. We did get enough of a flame though to bless our family dog (his collar actually, we did not put the actual dog through the flames) and to burn pieces of paper with words of things that we'd like to see transformed within ourselves for the coming year. We also presented the garden faeries with a crystal offering to help our struggling garden.
I thought about it later and should have made our Solstice fire in our BBQ. BBQs are summer themed, right?
After the boys had finished their part, I had wanted to take some time to rededicate myself. Oh boy though, a mom asking her kids for 5 minutes to herself just gets quickly carried away by the desert wind. It became 50 questions time; in and out of the house (Can I play Minecraft? Where's Dad? So and so is doing this). I decided to scrap that part of the ritual. Laughingly, I ended the ritual with my hands in the air saying, "Well, I'm sorry. I tried." That night, as I watched the sun go down, I was able to take a few minutes to myself and meditate. It was a lovely experience.
Sometimes the smaller gestures are the most powerful ones.If you decide to celebrate the Solstice with your family, make sure that it's full of fun and celebration. Little Pagan Acorns has a neat collection of Litha coloring pages Have a BBQ party, go swimming, garden, play in the sprinkler, eat Popsicles. Most of all though, enjoy the sun.