bonfire

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

June, 2018

June 2018 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings.

I had a delightful conversation today with a neighbor.

This neighbor is one of my buddies. You can find us out front, giggling, gabbing, venting, chatting with other neighbors, and going gaga for the neighborhood dogs together.

We became unexpected teammates in gardening four years ago. I had ran out of gardening space on my back patio, and had planted everything I could in my front space, so I begged neighbors at my building to allow me to plant things in their spaces. He was the last one I asked, and he turned out to be the most enthusiastic.

My husband and I had planned to have our condo sold, and be gone from here by now, so last year, I told everybody I would not be doing more gardening. Well…we are still here…and although I decided to only garden on the patio, guess what? I ran out of space out back again! In the front, an unexpected, and unwanted invader showed up.

A TON of poison ivy!

I have been fighting a losing battle with it for years now, and I enlisted the help of the condo manager to help tame it.

One year, they sent somebody who “could not find it” until I made an appointment to have him come when I was home, so I could show him where it was.

Sigh.

Last year, there were small patches of it I controlled by pouring boiling water on it…or so I thought…

This year, it came back for revenge, and has spread into my mint and lavender. I planted both of these in 2006, and it appears I may have to give them up to kill the poison ivy.

I’m not entirely certain I’m ready to sacrifice my sixteen-year-old herbs, but I am less certain if I have a choice or not.

So, after my neighbor buddy lamented to me something that is bugging him, I lamented about the poison ivy.

He just so happens to have some poison ivy killer, and Sunday, we are going to murder it together.

The growing season is my favorite for a lot of reasons, but things like poison ivy make me cringe, and when I am bitching about the cold of winter, and missing my plants, I can at least be thankful I won’t have to worry about being covered in the awful itch and bumps of my least favorite plant.

Up until a few years ago, I LIVED for Summertime, and could not understand people who needed cold.

Now, poison ivy, asthma, and age induced heat intolerance has me understanding how so many have issues with my favorite season.

I am learning there is more to life than the good and the bad of Summer, although there was a time that is all I lived for.

While some of us see the seasons as being broken up into two, one being Winter beginning at Samhain, the other Summer beginning at Beltaine, these days, most people feel there are four seasons, and Mid-June brings us to the Summer Solstice.

What is the Solstice Anyways?

Most simply stated, the Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, meaning it is the day when there is the most amount of sunlight. It is marked by revelry (of course!) bonfires to represent the sun, and ritual in many faith traditions. I had not realized this, but Summer Solstice is observed in over 30 countries, some of which are actually in the Middle East, and members of both Xtian and non Xtian faiths celebrate it in various ways. Of course, as with most Xtian celebrations, it originated in Pagan times.

One thing many of us have known for a very long time is a site where we find evidence of Pagan Midsummer celebrations is Stonehenge.

 

Stonehenge

Stonehenge has intrigued us since forever. Sitting on Salisbury Plain, it cuts a dramatic figure with it’s huge stones, and the fact many are missing lends an air of mystery, as well as stirs the imagination.

From tales of human sacrifice, to devil worship, today’s folk like to say all sorts of far fetched things about this stone circle.

The fact there are no written records left by the people who both built and used it add to the mystery, and there are too many “experts” throwing theories around they can never prove. Instead of sharing mounds of these theories, I will share what is known through evidence.

It was developed through four stages of construction. I find it interesting that when I was a kid, they were saying it was THREE stages, and now, they are saying it’s four. So CURRENTLY, it is accepted there were four stages of development.

The first stage took place around 3100 BC, and it included the famous Aubrey Holes, which some claim can be used to calculate lunar events, cremations, a ditch, and an earthwork and bank. It was then abandoned for about 1,000 years. Nobody knows why.

The second stage was around 2100 BC, and the very heavy bluestones were hauled from mountains 240 miles away, some of which weighed four tons. This was all supposedly done via waterways, and then dragging the stones by log rollers on land. An incomplete double circle was formed, and an avenue was constructed, which lines up with the Midsummer Sunrise. This is evidence that over 4,000 years ago, Midsummer was observed at Stonehenge.

The third stage around 2,000 BC, less than 200 years later, they hauled what are called the Sarasen stones from about 25 miles away. The heaviest of these is estimated to weigh about 50 tons. They made another ring of stones, laid the stones atop, which we call lintels, and formed a horseshoe ring of stones we can still see today.

The final stage took place around 1500 BC, and included rearranging he bluestones.

There has been generations of researchers, and no matter what the discover by this or that fond onsite, we can only piece together so much because no written record was left by the people who built it. We know when what was put where, and where it came from. We know it was all very sacred. We have no idea exactly what was done.

It is pointed out that both solar and lunar events can be marked by where moon and sun rises when, and the Aubrey Holes, as was previously mentioned supposedly work by moving a stone from hole to hole every day to keep track of lunar events. The sun and moon, marking seasons was significant to the builders, and due to the fact cremains and animals teeth have been found buried on site, it is believed the teeth were used as sacrifice to gods, and the site was a sacred burial grounds.

We are never going to have the whole story.

Fortunately, Pagans have our spiritual selves to let us know sites like Stonehenge are sacred. Today’s Pagans have been hosting Midsummer Sunrise celebrations for many years. Last years was well documented by video, which I will share here. This is a 40 plus minute video, and in it, you can see the Druids doing their ritual and talk.

 

 

 

The Solstice

The Solstice worldwide is about celebrating life, gathering with people, enjoying a festival, and doing ritual purification.

In Denmark, they have bonfires to drive away bad spirits, and there was a time when people visited healing wells, which has fallen out of practice.

In Finland, of great importance is the midnight sun, or the 24 hour daylight they have at that time of year. They also have their bonfires, and erect summer Maypoles, and fertility is the focus, as opposed to at Beltaine time.

In Iran, ancient celebrations are observed. They light bonfires, of course, and thank their god for crops, and pray for peace for the souls of the dead.

Neo-Pagans, of course are just as varied as other peoples, and space allowing, there are bonfires, and rituals thanking and honoring the sun, and celebrating its strength, and power over darkness.

A modern story some Wiccans embrace tells of the Oak and Holly Kings. The Holly King rules over winter, and the Oak King rules over summer. At the Solstices, they battle. Summer Solstice, the Oak King, the youthful, physically powerful king overthrows the Holly King, who has become old and weak.

Many of the Pagans in town near me like to attend sunrise gatherings, some of which are by a local lake, and done non-religiously, and others like to walk a local labyrinth.

Some of us (me included) don’t want to wake up that early, and we don’t feel ashamed for that…

A bonfire come night time is something a lot of people, even if they are not Pagan love to have for cookouts and barbecues this time of year. It’s just a great time for everybody to gather, and celebrate being alive outdoors when the garden is growing well.

I’m not sure what your space allows, but this Summer Solstice working I will suggest is both simple, and versatile enough, anybody can do it.

 

Saoirse’s 2018 Summer Solstice Fire Working

Fire represents both destruction and purification. We all have things in our life we want to both get rid of, and to also have blessed. On the mundane level in my own life, my garden needs purged of the poison ivy, and my garden soil and all her plants aside from the green terror needs blessed to help it succeed. Some are in need of healing, emotional support, a new home or job, or even just inspiration. Rather than have a structured circle with many words said, I have a simple idea you might love.

Do this alone or with loved ones. Do it day or night, whichever is best for you. Have a big fire, or a small one. Do it indoors or outdoors. It’s all up to you.

Think of all the things you want blessings for, and all the things you would like to purge.

Either write it all down, on a one piece of paper per item, being as specific as possible, or select an easily burned item that represents all of these things.

Also select a sacrificial offering to the gods, whichever ones you venerate, or the powerful sun itself. This also should be burnable.

Instead of making a fire and then tossing it all in to burn everything, build your pile of burnable things, praying over these things, and either speaking them aloud or in your heart as you build the fire pile. If you have other people doing this with you, have each person take turns, and build your fire pile together. Last of all, give the sacrificial offering, and light the fire.

One concept of spellwork many embrace is letting the intention go once the working is complete, having faith the blessings of the gods will make it happen.

Spend time around the fire, and keep adding wood and other burnables for as long as you like. Feast, revel, and enjoy fellowship, or the peace of solitude.

Blessed Solstice. Blessed Be.

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About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel