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Posts Tagged ‘Summer Solstice’

A mandala painted on a stone from Lake Ontario and gifted to my husband. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017.

For me, the Summer Solstice is a time of endings and beginnings. Vacation begins for me and many others in my field. Students go home. Several of my students moved on and I may never see or hear from them again. That was a hard pill to swallow as I had grown especially fond of some of them. We got to know each other over several years, and they were such good kids. The kind of youth that give me hope for the future. I’m so proud of them, and they taught me just as much as I taught them, I’m sure.  Such is the nature of working with kids in any capacity – they grow up and we must stand back to watch them fly.

“Rent” for Manannan mac Lir.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017.


My routine changes over the summer. I suddenly have more time and energy. While teaching is in my blood and very much a part of my Druid identity, a long vacation definitely gives me time for other things that I am equally passionate about. My family feels up to taking more walks, and we have more daylight in which to do so. We spend more time playing outside, working on the garden, and visiting beloved mountains, rivers, and lakes.  I start meditating more – deeper, longer meditations that bleed over into trance states.  Just thinking about it makes my heart beat with anticipation.

Our Summer Solstice bonfire.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017.

Of course, there was, and will be, plenty of ritual involved. We had a bonfire Summer Solstice evening. It was just very casual, although I did sing as I kindled the flame. Later today, I’ll gather with my grove for a larger, more formal celebration. We’re once more honoring Manannan mac Lir and thanking him for the blessings of water.  The summer brings more opportunities for gathering with like-minded people to laugh, sing, and dance around fires.

Last night marked the New Moon. The omens for the day focused on change and, later, working with my own wildness to make me and my community a better person. I was struggling with some confidence issues earlier in the day. In transitioning from work-me to free-time me, and in the stress of all I had to accomplish to pass that threshold, I got a little goofy acting and put my foot in my mouth. I regretted it later, feeling foolish. I often worry how others see me. I spent a lot of time reflecting on what that means, how I want to be seen, and how to be true to myself. I did some midnight magical work in the garden to help me grow as a person.

I call my blog “The Ditzy Druid” for a reason. I can be a little quirky sometimes. It’s part of who I am. I don’t take myself too seriously.  After seeing “Moana,” I told my husband that I want to grow up to be like her grandmother, the self-professed “village crazy lady.” Despite her eccentricities, she is respected and loved. I think I usually maintain that balance, but we all know that our energies ebb and flow. I was a bit hyped up on all the new beginnings and got a bit silly. That said, I feel much better after my working last night, and sleep, the blessed medicine. The old saying is true: “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Be you.  (But I also keep thinking about the words of Aaron Burr from Hamilton, “Talk less, smile more.”)

(For a little more on celebrating you and growing in confidence, I highly suggest you check out my friend Jen Rose’s blog entry on wearing what makes you feel amazing.)

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My Summer Solstice celebration started on Saturday. We woke early and headed to Alexandria Bay for Family Day at Boldt Castle. We had to stand in a long line to purchase boat tickets first as the castle is on an island. It was a bright, sunny day… Standing and waiting was exhausting and uncomfortable, but once we boarded the boat, things started to cool down.

We enjoyed our visit but we couldn’t stay very long. I usually take my time to admire the views and architecture of the castle, but we had to run to the Yoga Center for Northern Rivers’ celebration. Still, we had a lovely time in the shade. Bee loved hugging various PBS characters, crafts, and garden activities.

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I did take a moment to admire the new garden with statues depicting the four seasons as maidens.  How very Pagan.  😉  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Riding on the boats and spending time along the St. Lawrence was a perfect beginning to our summer festivities. The cool air in my hair, the motion of the water, flying terns, and several swimming ducks… Although our section of the St. Lawrence is fresh water, it reaches into the Atlantic up in Canada. I felt the spirit of Manannan, and carried that joy with me to the ritual later.

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Mama
 and baby ducks on the St. Lawrence River.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Ritual with the protogrove went well. We had our ritual closer to the Yoga Center’s main building in the shade of several maple trees. Many of us missed the stone circle, but it was such a hot day, especially for our youngest guests. We honored Manannan mac Lir with offerings of song, whiskey, and a wreath (wheel) of yellow flowers to pay our “rent.” For our magical working, we made small paper doors with our goals for the season. We verbalized those goals, putting our intentions out there, and prayed that Manannan will help clear the mist and doors that may block our way. It was a new working for us, but many people expressed approval. Some were quite moved by the experience.

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Our 
altar to Manannan mac Lir.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Last night’s full moon called my little family outside. We followed fireflies and giggled as some crawled on our hands and feet. We pranced in the cool evening air…

Today, the day of the Solstice, I went outside in the morning to greet the sun and harvest some herbs – lemon balm, sage, and mugwort. After work, I took a small side trip to the local river near my home. I walked to the edge and took a deep breath. Calling to the local river spirit and Manannan, I spoke of my gratitude for their many blessings. I dropped three yellow leaves into the river. I found them along the bank and assigned love, gratitude, and reverence to each. I left with a bit of litter in my hands. When dealing with local spirits, I’ve found the best offerings are care and respect. For dinner tonight – a cooling salad so I don’t have to cook in the heat!

May you have a blessed Summer Solstice (or Winter Solstice if you’re south of the equator)! I hope you get outside and truly experience the season.

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A perfect berry makes for a perfect offering. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

Ok, everyone, it’s officially summer in my point of view! Solstice be damned; the actual start of summer is when I taste my first, local strawberry. That happened a few days ago. First, I collected a few wild strawberries at my childhood home. Of course, the plants are few and far between, making ripe and intact berries rare and edible jewels. I felt like a child again connecting with the first plant I ever learned how to forage.

Yesterday, we picked strawberries at a local farm. The sky was gray, and there were scattered showers, but it was perfect berry picking weather! We were comfortable, didn’t get sun burns, and we were the only people picking most of the time we were there! We felt comfortable letting Bee run back and forth between us, stuffing her face with delicious harvest. I spent much of the afternoon and early evening preserving what we picked. Today I made offerings of berries and incense. I thanked the Nature Spirits for their wonderful blessings, and I thanked the Ancestors for the wisdom they passed down that allowed me to preserve the harvest.

People who are new to Druidism may wonder how to engage with it.  Seriously, it can be as simple as saying “thank you” and giving back some of what you have.  It could be the most beautiful berry you picked, or a simple prayer of gratitude and acknowledgement for what those before you allowed to occur in the present because of what they shared.

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Last night, I joined some of my grovies from Northern Rivers as guests for Kripalu Yoga Center’s Summer Solstice celebration. It was a very different and eclectic ritual style, but it was good-natured and fun. It’s important to the group to show support for the Yoga Center as they have been very welcoming to us. Heck, they even included us in their event by asking us to help start the bonfire. My friend Cas and I were happy to oblige. While the others continued around the trail to visit each of the landmarks on their walking trail, we built the fire, prayed to Brighid, and chanted a little. It was incredibly fulfilling to do that, even with the intense heat of the day.

I spent the actual Solstice with my family. Being Father’s Day, it seemed right. Despite the threat of rain, it’s been gorgeous, albeit humid.  We spent a lot of time outside.  Since daylight will start to decline after today, we might as well make the most of it, right?

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I harvested some of the first crops from my container garden this week. Earlier, it was some herbs – traditional to harvest at this time. Today, I plucked the first snap peas from the vines. What a blessing! And it meant I had some “first fruits” to offer the local spirits. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

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I performed a small ritual on my own at my altar. I gave offerings of seeds, herbs, grain, whiskey, flowers, first fruits, and incense. I made a special offering to my Ancestral Fathers at their shrine, and another special offering to the male deities in my life – namely An Dagda, Lugh, and Manannan. The omens spoke much on my need to pay attention to my inner motivations and instincts, to accept that things are ending, but that I will be able to rise above that turbulence to embrace a higher level of nobility. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

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I brought some incense outside to offer to Airmed, Goddess of herbs and tending gardens. I often honor her at Summer Solstice time. With all the rain we’ve been getting, I wasn’t very worried about putting some incense out, and I wasn’t too far away while it burned. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

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Later, we went to Clayton to spend some time along the St. Lawrence River. It was there that I made an offering of yellow flowers to Manannan, a traditional way to “pay the rent” to him. I always feel close to him when near the St. Lawrence. As a major river that directly connects to the Atlantic, I feel that it’s easier to commune with him there than many of the other lakes and ponds in the area. Just my own personal UPG. I’m also mindful that the area has many connections to Native communities and their lore. I don’t feel that it’s Manannan’s river, but I do feel that he likes to visit often. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

Whatever you did to celebrate the Summer Solstice, I hope you were able to enjoy some time outside. Don’t take the warmth and sun for granted. Get out there to literally smell the flowers! Maybe even eat some snap peas right of the vine!

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Path to Black Creek. Photo by Greycatsidhe, 2014.

I watched the sun rise from my bedroom window Solstice morning, babe at breast. No drumming or whooping, just contentment and silent prayers of thanks for the sun. And what a gorgeous, sunny day it was! We had a busy time planned with family so I decided to observe the holiday simply.  Next weekend comes the big celebration with my protogrove.

My daughter, husband, and I took a short hike to Black Creek. I brought an offering of reeds, wildflowers, and woad blossoms to pay rent to Manannan Mac Lir. Standing on a wooden overlook, I first focused on the land, water, and sky. More contentment. I felt a deep peace that I worked to carry with me all weekend. More prayers of thanks and offerings while birds sang and wind rattled the leaves… It was the music of a summer afternoon.

When I prayed to Manannan for an omen, a deep-throated bullfrog belted out a cheerful call at just the right moment to feel significant. There was joy there, and a message of healing and transformation. The cards spoke of family and instincts.

I returned to my family and held the peace of that moment in my heart. Having family can be tiring, stressful, and demanding, but my tribe is important. When the going gets tough, though, Manannan calls me to the crossroads of land, sea, and sky for a brief moment with nature. Both complete me and heal me.

Blessed Summer Solstice!

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A bouquet of offerings for Manannan and Black Creek. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

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Some personal reflections on Northern Rivers’ recent Summer Solstice ritual. Weretoad and I were so excited to surprise our grovies and show up with Baby Bee!

Summer Solstice 2013 – A Time of New Beginnings in Northern Rivers Protogrove!.

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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.

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