There is a Way

There is a way we can be with one another.

It is a way of kindness and mutual respect, of vulnerability and accountability. It is a way of playfulness and joy in the uniqueness and creativity of the other, a shared celebration.

It is a way so powerful and yet so simple, a way so pleasurable and so deeply comforting, that it brings me to tears to think of it.

And for the past three days, I have been immersed in a warm bath of it.

I have been—again—to the fire circle.

IGNITE 2017 was a gathering of some of the most incredible, complex, beautiful, creative humans I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I imagine that could be said about most any cohort of people, if they were able to live in the truth of their being. But this group is able to do so, and that is the difference between the ordinary and the extra-.

It’s hard work, too. Hard to be that brave and open. Hard work simply in the logistics of erecting the circle itself, providing food for fifty people, camping in hot and dusty conditions.

But the nights. Oh, the nights, until dawn comes. The drumming and dancing, the singing and poetry and stories. The heartfelt conversations outside the circle, the flickering torchlight, the fire blazing in the circle’s heart. The reunions with old friends, the finding of new ones with love shining in their eyes.

No “woo-woo”. No supernaturalism. Just wisdom and love.

Hard to believe it’s a substance-free event, isn’t it?

There is a way we can be with one another in a ritual space that brings out the very kindest and best in us. And then, learning, to carry that out into the world. To be better people, on a planet that badly needs them.

There is a way.

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!

Hail, the Magnificent Sun!

These are the kindest and best of days. The evenings grow long, the air is mild. Here where I live, anyway, life is good.

For our ancestors, too, these were good days. Planting and early tending of crops were over. Early lambs and hunting of spring animals were abundant. After the long, anxious wait of winter, this was a time to enjoy life.

The energy of Midsummer night is a long-understood atmosphere in Western culture. It means air warm enough for all-night goings-on outdoors. It means woods and meadows and moon-dappled hilltops. Nights for mystical and amorous adventures!

Wherever you live, I suspect you know what I mean. The long, lovely evenings.

At noon on the longest day is the time to salute the Sun, whose energy drives Life on planet Earth.  Among my observances, I harvest long stalks of dry wild rye to bind into my Sun-broom, a ritual tool with which I spread (metaphorical) Light throughout the year…pretty handy to have in December, when the dark of the year brings gloom into the house before the candles and lights of Yule. And I lay a couple of bright crystals* in the sun to warm and catch the light, to carry the light of the Sun on my Focus (altar) throughout the year.

Ritually, I find this is a great time of year for a feast with friends, enjoying the rich bounty of early fruits and vegetables. If circumstances permit and fog doesn’t come in from the coast…naked feasting! Perhaps some drumming and/or dancing first. A time to feel that delicious air on our skins.

I’m only starting to plan a Midsummer celebration with a couple of friends, but all of this is on the table.

All hail the glorious Sun!

 

 

*Given the destructiveness of mineral mining, I will no longer buy mineral specimens. But I have a few quartz crystals I’ve accumulated over the years, and I use these. If you don’t have any, I encourage you instead to use glass bottles of water to capture “sun water” for ritual use, rather as I do with the moon.