Celebrating The Old Ways in New Times for June/July 2022
By the time you read this, you may be saying, “It’s too HOT!!!!!” and are wishing for Fall time again! Think about just weeks ago, wishing Wintertime away because it was SO cold! Well…the weather will get hotter in Summer, and by the time you read this article, you may have your Summer Solstice plans underway!
For some, this will be the first Summer in a couple of years they have felt safe to gather for Sabbat. What a wonderful feeling it is again to see soul kin. What better time than on a Solstice in Summer when the green things are growing beautifully, and the Sun is shining again to celebrate time with the people we love? What is Summer Solstice anyways, and what can we do today to celebrate it?
The word Solstice means Sun Stands Still, and Summer Solstice is celebrated as the longest day and shortest night of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere, it takes place around June 21, and in the Southern Hemisphere, it happens around December 21. It is pretty much celebrated around the whole world, but observances and traditions vary. Modern Neo pagans tend to draw traditions from Germanic or Celtic, and you can read some information about some of those practices here: Celebrating The Old Ways in New Times – PaganPages.org
However, in some other Nations, the celebrations are different. Here are a few examples:
In Bulgaria, Summer Solstice is considered the beginning of Summer, and while Catholics there have their St. John’s Day observances, something called Enyovden is celebrated. The name Enyovden is a derived from the name John, and Enyovden ties in with the St. John’s Day celebrations, but some observances are old, and seem pretty Pagan if you think of it. Dances barefoot on hot coals are done- yow!!!!! However, this is not all that is done. It is believed the Sun winks at people and plays when it arises on the day of Midsummer, or the Solstice. If you see the Sun rise on this day, you will have good luck all year, so everybody wants to be up on time to see it and get the good fortune from the Sun! Perhaps more importantly, it is believed herbs are extra potent if picked that morning, so healers and magic workers are up before dawn picking herbs for the year. It is said they pick seventy-seven and a hal herbsf, plus some for “illness without a name”. Here is a video of some adorable children singing for “Herb Day” or Enyovden.
THIS sounds fun. The celebrations go from the night of June 23 through the 24 and entail a lot of Pagan things! It is called Jani and in one of the towns at 3 A.M., people run naked through the streets and are rewarded with beer at the end of the run! Police make sure nobody bothers the naked runners by the way. This sounds like a fun place to live for sure! Both people and livestock get decorated with leaf and flower wreaths, and there are a lot of different beliefs and ways to assure good harvest and growth, as well as fertility. Bonfires burn high, and young women leap over them, believing doing so will rid them of burdens, and couples leap the flames while holding hands, believing it binds them together. Copious amounts of eating cheeses and drinking beer is done, and people go to gather herbs and wildflowers that are believed to have even stronger curative abilities during this time. Walking through the dew at dawn is believed to bring wealth and washing your face in morning dew in the morning is believed to make you beautiful.
Spain observes St. John’s Eve in June 23 with fireworks, bonfires, beach parties, and feasting. It is said that in Northern parts of Spain like Galicia, the Pagan influence is strong, and observances are for fertility, assuring youth and beauty, and workings to assure good health. A puppet or doll is placed atop the fire to represent a witch or the devil which is exorcised to help bless and purify. People leap over bonfires to assure good luck and exorcise any malevolent forces. Water is used as well. Women who want to have children will bathe in the sea until they have been washed by nine waves, and medicinal herbs are washed in water that has been collected from seven different sacred springs. Special herbs are collected believed to be healing, and some are hung over doorways and the dew collected from them in the morning is used to wash their face.
What we see in all these celebrations is use of fire to emulate the power of the Sun. Healing and things asking for growth of crops are done, and both people and animals are blessed and purified. Many Neo Pagans just attend Circle or Sabbat, and these celebrations have a plethora of different practices. However, one thing is certain in all the celebrations worldwide- the people come together, working together to get the blessings of the power of the Sun when it is at it’s strongest, and they do this together. The key word is “together.” Together we are strongest. Together we heal one another, and together, we celebrate good times. Together, we pray for healing. We ask for growth and success together, and we enjoy feasting, or “eating drinking and making merry” TOGETHER. This will be my focus for the Solstice working I suggest this year- being together.
Saoirse’s 2022 Summer Solstice Working
Around the Solstice, which is on June 21, gather with your soul kin. Plan a meal however you prefer, but as Pagans, we often potluck it, don’t we? Plan your gathering indoors or outdoors but do this somewhere that you can fit all the participants into one room or group. No Circle should be cast for this because the people will form the sacred working space. If you would like to use an altar, build one your own way. You can have candles, incenses, sacred cloths, and things that represent the Solstice that is meaningful to you. You can even ask each participant to bring one thing to sit on the communal altar that represents the Solstice to them. Have a tealight, or other kind of small candle for each person. Make sure this candle is done in such a way they can hold it and not get burned, or else have everybody around a table where they can sit their candle down. Have a candle snuffer also. One large candle should be there to establish the first light, representing the Sun. Once this is set up, gather everybody together and do the following.
Have people stand in a circle next to the people they know the least. The leader will light the main candle and say a prayer over it like this “May the power of the sun, which is at its most powerful, bless and purify us this day. As The Wheel of the Year turns, let us grow with the earth, improving, and thriving every day. So be it.” Then, starting with the leader who lights their candle from the main candle that has been blessed, each person will light the candle of the person to their right, and give them a blessing. Once they have been blessed, they will then in turn light the person’s candle who is to their right and bless them. Do this so on and so forth, until a complete circle is formed, moving clockwise until the final person has been blessed. The final person will then thank the Sun for its blessings, take up the candle snuffer, and snuff out the leader’s candle. The leader will then snuff out the candle of the person to their right, and pass the snuffer to them, who will snuff out the candle of the person to their right. Do this until everybody’s candle is snuffed out. Thank the Sun for it’s blessings in ending however you see fit.
Snuffing the candles out ensures the energy of the blessings are kept within the candles. The participants will pack up their own candles and take them home to their altars and relight the candle there. The blessings will follow them home where they can absorb the rest of their blessings at home on their own altars.
Then of course- FEAST and enjoy one another’s company. To me there is little else that is a greater blessing than the community of soul kin. I am not sure my kin will be able to gather for Summer Solstice this year, but when we do? Oh, my what a happy day that will be.
May you have a Blessed Summer Solstice.
About the Author:
Saoirse is a practicing witch, and initiated Wiccan of an Eclectic Tradition.
A recovered Catholic, she was raised to believe in heaven and hell, that there is only one god, and only one way to believe. As she approached her late 20’s, little things started to show her this was all wrong. She was most inspired by the saying “God is too big to fit into one religion” and after a heated exchange with the then associate pastor of the last Xtian church she attended, she finally realized she was in no way Xtian, and decided to move on to see where she could find her spiritual home.
Her homecoming to her Path was after many years of being called to The Old Ways and the Goddess, and happened in Phoenix, Arizona. She really did rise from her own ashes!
Upon returning to Ohio, she thought Chaos Magic was the answer, and soon discovered it was actually Wicca. She was blessed with a marvelous mentor, Lord Shadow, and started a Magical Discussion Group at local Metaphysical Shop Fly By Night. The group was later dubbed A Gathering of Paths. For a few years, this group met, discussed, did rituals, fellowship, and volunteering together, and even marched as a Pagan group with members of other groups at the local gay Pride Parade for eight years.
All the while, she continued studying with her mentor, and is still studying for Third Degree, making it to Second Degree thus far.
She is a gifted tarot reader, spellworker, teacher, and was even a resident Witch at a Westerville place dubbed The Parlor for a time.
Aside from her magical practice, she is a crocheter, beader, painter, and a good cook. She has been a clown and children’s entertainer, a Nursing Home Activities Professional, a Cavern Tour Guide, a Retail Cashier, and a reader in local shops. Her college degree is a BA in English Writing. She tried her hand at both singing and playing bagpipes, and…well…let’s just say her gifts lie elsewhere! She loves gardening, reading, antiques, time with friends and soul kin, and lots and lots of glorious color bedecking her small home!
On the encouragement of a loved one several years back, she searched for a publication to write for, and is right at home at PaganPagesOrg.
She is currently residing in Central Ohio with her husband, and furbabies.
Saoirse can be contacted at [email protected].