Midsummer 2020

In the Northern Hemisphere, the long days are upon us*! These are the days of Midsummer. Click here for all the previous posts about this Sabbath.

To me, Midsummer is the celebration of the prime of life–of robust, confident adulthood (rather than the urgent young adulthood of May Day), and, in the agricultural cycle, of relaxation and ease between the earlier plowing, sowing and planting and the later harvest Sabbaths.

Many Midsummers I have celebrated have been times to deliberately, conscientiously goof off: to relax, eat and socialize with friends. Perhaps to go to the beach, which is a fine Midsummer tradition.

But this is the (first?) year of COVID-19. I will not be gathering with loved ones this Midsummer, nor flocking to the coast with many others. It’s time to do something new.

Accordingly, on June 20, I will:

  • Arise with the dawn to greet the Sun with my Dawn Prayer.
  • Refresh my Sun Broom.
  • Drink golden wine and eat delicious, perfectly ripe peaches.
  • Kindle a fire in my back yard fire pit and enjoy the temperate evening (carefully, as wildfire season is nearly upon us).

I invite you to join me in these! And lastly and for this year only…

This last is so exciting! We’ve been ready with the documents for about a week now, but wanted to hold off on filing so the “birthday” of the organization will be the solstice.

When I light the candles on my Focus that evening, I will light an extra one for The Society, marking its birth into the world and my wishes for its successful future.

Please feel free to join me if you like! I wish you a joyous Midsummer and the deep pleasure of the long evenings.


*In the South, of course, we are approaching Yule. the shortest day of the year. If you’re there, merry Yule! Here are prior posts about celebrating the birth of the new Sun.

A Walpurgisnacht/May Day Vigil Ritual Menu

As we collectively shelter in place to slow the advance of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the world and the Wheel continue to turn. Spring is rolling around into summer (at least, in many places in the Northern Hemisphere), and we have come to that major pillar of the annual celebrations of many Pagans, May Day or Beltane, and the night before, which is known by many as Walpurgisnacht.

While we may not be able to conduct the usual festivities, we can still observe this Sabbath in all its richness while sheltering in place.

This ritual is a vigil: staying up all night either alone or with a partner or family. If you wish, you can sleep a few hours between the Walpurgisnacht elements and the May Day elements, but it’s good to be a bit sleep-deprived for May Day; it helps with being more emotionally open and vulnerable.

Walpurgisnacht activities:

  • Build a “bale fire” (Bel-fire), preferably in a safe outdoor location like a fire pit or cauldron, but if not, in a fireplace. Burn the dross from the previous year: list on slips of paper or index cards every single thing the past 12 months have brought that you are finished with and want to clear out of your awareness and life*, and burn them in the fire. Hooray! You are free of them!

    beltane-fire-festival

    Beltane Fire

  • Enjoy your vigil fire, and keep it fed throughout the night (or until you plan to go to sleep). You can cast aromatic herbs or incense on the fire on occasion, or for an exciting burst of fire, a handful of non-dairy coffee creamer. Know that people have sat vigil over a Walpurgisnacht fire for many centuries.
  • Make May wine for the next day: recipe here.
  • Deep in the night (at least midnight), contemplate your face in a mirror by candlelight. See how you have changed over time, how you are still a growing and evolving person. Silently vow to grow, support, and care for yourself as the year unfolds. If anything more comes up that you want to be done with, throw that in the fire, too.

May Day activities:

  • While we may not be able to dance around a Maypole this year, we can still make a plant or flower crown if the materials are available; even a simple ivy crown is festive for the day.
  • Have May wine…with breakfast! Float a berry or slice of ripe fruit in the wine and enjoy a special celebratory meal. Sit outside if you can, feel the Sun and the fresh air.
  • Hang blessing ribbons in the trees where you live, with wishes for the coming cycle and the year’s harvest.
  • If you have young children, play some kind of game and designate the winner the May Princess or May Prince (decide in advance what special privilege they have just for today!)

    May Queen

    May Princess

  • Celebrate an online ritual. The Humanistic Paganism website has compiled a number of them for you to enjoy and participate in.
  • Celebrate the season of sowing (and which many associate with sexuality) with some sacred sex: either with a partner(s) or by yourself. Or, if that’s not your thing, try some of these ideas.
  • End the day with a feast dinner and a celebration of love and family.

We are sequestered and held apart from one another at a time when our traditions urge us to be together and loving. It’s hard for many of us. We are social creatures and being separate is not our natural state.

For myself, I hope these traditions and offerings have given you some ways you can enjoy May Day in these so-challenging times.

Love and the joys of the season to you!

 

 


*I do not recommend trying to include the coronavirus among this dross. We are far from finished with it—and vice versa—and if you “make yourself a liar” in this way it will undermine the effectiveness of the rest of the ritual.

The February Sabbath

The February Sabbath always seems a bit elusive to me. I don’t believe in the goddess Brighid, who is often celebrated at this time, and I don’t live somewhere where first, small indications of spring are appearing.

No, I’m in coastal Northern California, and here in this Mediterranean climate it is wet and the mountains are a beautiful emerald green at the height of its intensity. That green will transform to gold in May as the grasses go to seed, so this is a lovely and fragile moment.

So while snowdrops are indeed blooming here, soon too will be crocus and daffodils and milk maids. And they aren’t coming up through snow.

And so I title this station in the Wheel of the Year Riverain, the Festival of Water. A time for celebration of that substance so essential for life, in its many aspects as sustainer, cleanser, bringer forth of the original Life on Earth.

Still, most notable and important at this time of year is the brightening: the days are noticeably longer, and though there is a lot of cold and weather yet ahead of us, the true depth of winter has passed. Light is returning.

Historically, this has been a time for belt-tightening and preparation for the new agricultural cycle: repairing and sharpening tools, “spring cleaning”, and fasts as the food supply dwindles. It is still a good time for planning for the coming year, cleaning house, and experiencing some want.

Tomorrow, my circle, Dark Sun, will convene to celebrate the season. I am so grateful for this practice, for feeling more connected with the seasons and the Earth through these ritual observances.

However you celebrate the February Sabbath, I wish you a joyous one, with happy prospects for the coming year!