Next Tuesday is the Summer Solstice and I am planning a ritual, or as Heathens call it, a blót (pronounced bloat). This will not be my first ritual (not by a long shot), but it will be the first blót have planned on my own. Jax usually takes care of the planning and the direction and I usually…well, I usually show up. I have been learning about Heathenry in the last year and am, thus far, finding it provides a fitting structure for my beliefs and philosophy — “fitting” as in it is a good fit for me.*
The Oracle tells me a Midsummer blót sometimes includes building a longship (or a smaller replica) and setting it ablaze. Note that Midsummer on the Ásatrú calendar is not actually the middle of summer, it is the Summer Solstice. Alas, there will be no setting anything ablaze at my blót because of a drought in my area and resulting local burn bans. This excludes other traditional Midsummer practices like bonfires, kindling fires and burning corn dollies.
So, I will be focusing on the traditional practices I can include, like songs, dancing, a symbolic offering to Baldur, recognizing my ancestors, and adorning my house in greenery. Although, I live on a green space, so I don’t really need to adorn my house or yard. I am surrounded by natural Texas beauty!
A while ago, I wrote about planning a pagan observance and have tried to follow my own advice when planning this observance. The two main factors I considered were intention and resources. I am planning this blót as a personal observance because I didn’t have my act together in time to invite my kin (family or friends). What the heck, if you live in Austin and you want to join my blót, drop me a line (or a comment). Hey! If people come over, I can have a maypole!** [w00t! Just invited Jax and she is coming over!]
Even if my observance is not individual, it will be personal. I’ll be using this ritual to help turn me toward the future. I don’t want to turn away from the past, but I do want to let go of things that were and can no longer be. To be honest, I’m not sure I’m ready for this, yet. But the folks at Odin’s Volk Kindred have inspired me to try.
Midsummer is the high point of the year, the time when deeds are brightest and the heart is most daring… It is a time for action and risk, for reaching fearlessly outward.
As for my resources, they are fairly limited. Even if I could burn a longship, I don’t have the wood to build it. What I do have is a pile of landscaping stones. I think it will be fun (if not educational) to use these stones and build a model of Stonehenge. I have always wanted to visit Stonehenge on a solstice (summer or winter) and watch the sun move the shadows of the stones. There seems to be a lot of reference material online to help me figure out how the stones should stand. I won’t try to replicate the astrological significance by finding the right place in my backyard where the sun will hit my model the same way it does in Salisbury. Nah, I won’t do that. My back yard isn’t evenly flat, so the stones will go in the flattest space that will accommodate my mini-henge.
Back to my intention. When the sun goes down, I will disassemble my mini-henge back into a pile of landscaping stones. My thought being this act of construction-deconstruction will help me remember the value of building something beautiful, even if it doesn’t stand forever. And that sometimes, the temporary state of something becomes part of its beauty.
That’s all I’ve worked out so far. Any suggestions? What say you readers? What are you doing for Summer Solstice?
* Like Jax, I came to paganism through Wicca. Looking back, I believe Wicca was my entry because it is so popular and as a consequence of that popularity, it was easy for me to find reference material — material that gave form to my (at the time) ambiguous beliefs.
** I would love to have a “real” maypole, one carved from a tree, anchored in the ground and decorated with flowers. But, I don’t have the resources to make that happen. I do have a small grove of trees in my backyard, though. And I am sure one of these trees will suffice. Rather than use ribbon though (which is usually polyester), I would buy inexpensive cotton cloth and cut it into strips.
+ The featured image is “Stonehenge (sun).jpg” by Simon Wakefield. This links to his Flickr page, but I dowloaded the image from Creative Commons. I wanted to share links because it is such a beautiful photograph, I thought you might want to download it, too!