The Sun Broom—A Ritual Tool

The Sun broom is both a Midsummer ritual and a tool you can use ritually around the year.

You will need:

  • A piece of tree branch for a handle. Don’t hurt a tree; go for a hike and find something that has already fallen to the ground.
  • Thin ribbon or strong twine for binding grasses to the handle.
  • A bunch of long strands of dry grass.

I harvest the grass at the height of the day on Midsummer—the peak of the power of the Sun in the Northern Hemisphere. In my particular area, wild oats grow very tall, so I use those, mostly. I bind them to the handle with the ribbon, singing we all come from the infinite Sun, forever and ever and ever. 

Be certain to bind the grasses tightly to the handle—they may look dry but will dry out further and shrink. Otherwise the grass bundle could fly off the handle in mid-use, which undermines the solemnity of the enterprise.

Once constructed, I leave the broom to sit in the Sun until sunset on Midsummer, “charging” in the high summer Sun.

The next day, use your Sun broom to virtually “sweep” your home, moving from room to room and sweeping the air to bring light and warmth to every corner. You might sing (or hum) “Here Comes the Sun” or “I Can See Clearly Now” while doing so.

This is a ritual I like to repeat in the dead of winter. When things start feeling really gray and cold, it feels good to trot out the Sun broom and give the house a once-over, remembering summer and warmth. And you can always use it if things around the house are feeling icky and need some of that cleansing, illuminating sunshine.

The Sun broom is a great tool for drawing a circle to create sacred space at the beginning of the Midsummer ritual, too…or any time it feels like the Sun’s power would be welcome. The Sun broom is a prominent part of my Midsummer ritual Focus, as well.

The next year, do it again! Unwrap the bindings and let last year’s grasses go back into the Earth, and cut a new bundle to rebind your broom.

Enjoy your Sun broom, and may it bring you a sense of strength and power and warming light throughout the year!

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Summer

Though weather varies widely across the planet, of course, the traditional meaning of May Day in Europe was “the beginning of Summer”. Thus, the summer solstice was termed “Midsummer”, et cetera. Here in the U.S. the unofficial beginning of summer is a little later, with the passage of Memorial Day at the end of May.

Here in the Mediterranean climate of coastal northern California, our hills are now turning from green to gold as the grasses go to seed and turn tawny. It is the signal that summer has truly arrived, and we have days to match: 70s and low 80s, not quite hot enough yet to provoke the fog cycle which will soon draw moist air in from over the ocean and blanket us with fog during the morning, burning off to sunshine in the afternoon.

Summer is a time with many meanings, most of them pedestrian: it is vacationing time and barbecuing time and the summer break in children’s schooling. In many places, it is the season of stifling heat and or swarming insects as cold-blooded invertebrates take advantage of the heat to complete their life cycles. We’re lucky here; we have some days in the 100s, but they cool off at night, and mostly it’s a pleasant, shirtsleeve-weather kind of time.

For those who grow our food, however, it is a time of hard work. Sowing is done, but stewarding the crops until they are ready for harvest is an ongoing effort, and those raising animals must keep them adequately cooled and watered. It is no surprise that people all over the world greet the season of harvest with feasts and parties: for all the hard work of bringing in the harvests, the wealth of delicious food that results is grounds for celebration.

It bears saying, of course, that south of the equator we are approaching the darkest and coldest time of the year, as well. There, the holy Sun is missed, longed for, and its return avidly awaited. There, it is nearly Yule.

While we in our Atheopagan practices celebrate the summer season with Midsummer, for many of us summer is already here. The Season of the Sacred Sun is upon us.

Whose warm love flows across the land each day

Stirring Life, the world’s magic, arms yearning up,

Turning each green leaf to follow. Whose generous balm

Upon the skin is love’s touch, ahhhhhh heated fingers soothing,

Whose roar boils water from ocean to sky

Drawing sweet from salt, becoming rain, snow, river, lake;

Whose fervid beat upon us may be deadly, and yet

Contemplating cold stars how we miss it, the Golden One, quotidian center

Of our days, steady companion, sower of treasures great and small:

Light-bringer, Life-quickener, dazzling, unbearably bright,

Hail, oh hail the magnificent Sun!

A Ritual of Ease for Midsummer

My circle met at my home yesterday.

I’ve been circling with the same group for 27 years as of this upcoming Hallows (Samhain). We started as a group of six, and over time have expanded to ten, but all the original members are still here. It’s pretty remarkable.

Dark Sun circle is my family. I don’t have blood family any more, so they are it when it comes to celebration of holidays, sharing of confidences, shared grief and celebration. We’ve been through marriages and divorces, all sorts of life changes. Thankfully, no deaths, yet.

So it was wonderful to see them. We’re kind of far-flung, so we only get together every 8 weeks or so, and each time is a celebration, with great food and drink. Usually, we do a ritual for the season or for some other needed purpose. But this time, we didn’t.

That wasn’t really an accident. I had racked my brain about what kind of sun-honoring ritual we might do when the circle came up, but all I can see of the summer solstice is the Season of Ease, with abundant fruits and vegetables, the hard work of the fall harvests not yet upon us, the days long with languid evenings of temperate breezes.

To sit in the back yard in a circle of chairs, to eat stonefruits and new garden vegetables and roasted meat and drink wine and feel the soft breeze and catch up with the dearest people in my world: that was the Midsummer ritual that felt best and most appropriate to me.

My point, I suppose, is that ritual doesn’t always have to be Ritual with a capital “R”. There is certainly a time for more formal ceremonial celebration (what some in my circle sometimes call “waving a stick around”), but social gatherings are their own kinds of rituals, with welcoming, creation of a container, working, resolution and departure.

Enjoy the long days, my friends (if you’re on the northern half of the planet). They pass soon enough, and must be seized while they’re here.

Happy Midsummer!