Everything was ready for our trip to Muin Mound Grove and our Summer Solstice celebration. We were going to make clay suns in honor of the sky fire. I already had some ideas for my design. We plucked herbs from our garden to place on the Arimid mantle during the rite. Weretoad and I were excitedly looking forward to seeing two dear friends who moved back to the area, as well as a new friend from the North Country who recently joined ADF.
But… Summer Solstice with Muin Mound did not happen for us this year. Sometimes it seems like the Kindreds have other plans…
There were things going on in the family that needed attending to. There is much stress in my tribe right now due to someone’s health and others’ financial situations. My mum basically begged us to stay for emotional support and help. Furthermore, she wanted us to celebrate the Summer Solstice with them because she didn’t want us to miss out. She wanted the family to be together and wanted to be a part of my spiritual life at last. Although I was sad to miss time with my grovies, my tribe is very important to me. I felt my ancestors guiding me to stay with them. I’m glad I did!
|Some of my mum’s lovely roses. She actually gave one as an offering during the rite.|
Preparing a very last minute ritual for family was an interesting learning experience. To begin with, I had none of my ritual tools and no liturgical outline. The only Pagan ritual my family ever experienced was my handfasting – and that was very much eclipsed by the wedding itself in that everyone kind of knew what was going on. This would be different.
I briefly explained what would happen, the reason for the high day, and who the Kindreds are. I made suggestions of offerings if they felt so inclined. I then set about gathering offerings for the kindreds, vessels to hold them, and figuring out how to set up the fire, well, and tree. I visited a favorite store from home, Peter’s Cornucopia, a health food shop and cafe. I picked up some nice incense there. For other offerings, I used what my parents had in the kitchen – oats, olive oil, and salt. I brought some wine from my new home and my brother-in-law brought some beer. My mum gave me an old silver bowl she had received as a wedding gift but never used. This became the well. My sister and father contributed some firewood. We used my parents’ fire pit for that hallow, and situated everything by the oak tree Weretoad and I planted a few years ago. It’s growing strong and seems very happy.
|I didn’t take a photo when everything was set up, but this is where we did the ritual. A lovely green and brown spot near my beloved childhood forest and gardens!|
I usually use a bell wand to open the gates and have a fancy, ceramic drinking horn for the return flow. These were at home so I used my hands to direct energy and a wine glass for communal drinking. The experience reminded me of how tools are, for the most part, only as useful as the user. I need not rely on them and can be creative without them when necessary. The greatest challenge was divination. My ogham and animal oracle cards were also home. I can’t count how many times I’ve brought them with me just in case, but this time I did not. I fretted over how to take an omen. I didn’t like the idea of flipping a coin. It’s too binary for my liking. My husband suggested looking into ogham apps on the iphone. I’m not much of a technopagan during rituals; I much prefer feeling the cards or wood on my fingers. I was seriously considering experimenting with augury. Something about that seems very pure in that you are truly opening yourself and your trust to the natural world around you…but because storms threatened, and I highly doubted my family would ritualize out of doors in that weather, I opted to figure something else out in case there wouldn’t be any birds to spot. I ended up making paper ogham disks. Very cheap, easy, and almost laughable, but it worked for the situation. The omens were very favorable and spoke of enjoying the here and now, taking action to bring about the fruition of goals, and a bountiful harvest.
I was worried to lead a ritual in front of family, but once things started, the role of priestess overshadowed that of wife, daughter, and sister. I was still those things, but I was focused on serving the kindreds and not on how I looked or sounded. Afterwards, my mum said she was very proud of me and that she was surprised at my poise and voice. Once everything started, any feelings of awkwardness at acting preachy vanished. Brighid certainly blessed me with a honeyed tongue that night.
My husband was a huge help to me. He felt strongly about staying with the family as well and encouraged me to take up my mother’s offer. I told him that if I did that, I would need his help. Since he recently joined ADF, I thought it would be a nice way for him to learn more. He assisted me in choosing an appropriate incense offering, made offerings to the sea and Nature Spirits, helped me purify the ritual participants, and tended to the fire. My sister also helped by praising the Earth Mother. I felt it was an appropriate role for a newcomer and she was happy to oblige.
Everyone complimented me on the ritual. My mother and sister said they felt so calm afterwards; that they needed something like that. The healing work was very much appreciated and they seemed to like taking an active role in attempting to help someone else when everything seems so out of their control. Amazingly, they would like to have more family rituals! Weretoad and I suggested the Winter Solstice as a good possibility.
|My potluck contribution.|
Having already made a greens, strawberry, almond, and feta salad for the grove celebration, my family agreed to have a potluck following ritual. It contributed to the feelings of togetherness and support as everyone helped. Mum and dad supplied pizza and cookies. My sister made a delicious pasta salad while her husband brought the beer. Weretoad and I had our salad, wine, and veggie patties. We talked and laughed throughout the night.
I definitely plan to be with my grove for Lughnasadh (barring any emergencies; Gods forbid), and missed them this past weekend. I’m so glad I stayed to support my family, though. They clearly needed it and the ancestors were watching out for us all. It helped strengthen our bonds as well as my own beliefs in myself and my path. Although we’re still concerned for that very sick family member, and other loved ones are dealing with some tricky situations, this was my favorite Summer Solstice so far.