What are you doing for Summer Solstice?

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I often have great ideas about how I will spend Summer Solstice but they rarely come to fruition. Some years it’s because everyone is busy, other years it rains, and last year I had been unwell and hadn’t the energy to do anything much. I rarely hold a ritual as even though I am studying as an Ovate with the OBOD I have never been fond of set ritual and so tend to avoid them. I probably should just do as I do at other times of the year, wait until the day, spend time connecting with my guides, the energy around the time of year and the spirits of the space I am spending it in and take it from there. Summer Solstice for me though always feels different for some reason.

This year at Bealtain I spent time in my stone circle, tidying, removing anything that had found its way there over the winter, knowing as I did that I was thinking that I would like to spend Summer Solstice amongst the stones. Then a few weeks ago I took delivery of a load of wood chip and so this was moved to refill the wood chip that had mulched down over the last twelve months. As I was refilling the circle I knew that I was preparing it for Summer Solstice and that the day would find me there.

Lunch with a friend I often work with, found that she too was free on 21st June. We had both been talking about the need to be still, to reconnect, to drum and to hold a fire ceremony and so plans were set.

Tomorrow we will meet, we will sit amongst the stones, tune in and connect with our guides and the spirits of the place, we will drum, we will probably make a Despacho to offer to the spirits, and we will have a fire ceremony. The weather this year is on our side with the forecast of a dry sunny day so we will be able to fully connect with the sun at midday. Fingers crossed that all of this will actually come to pass.

This all got me wondering what other people were doing for Summer Solstice so how are you spending it?

If you are looking for some ideas of what to do then this link will take you to some Ancient Celtic Traditions which might provide some inspiration.

Whatever you do, even if it is nothing, I wish you all Solstice Blessings.

 

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Deer and Elk Solstice Rattles

 

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The empty and dried shells

The rattles that I began at solstice are finished at last 🙂 I should probably explain here that the delay isn’t that I have been very slow in finishing them, rather that they have taken a long time to dry out thoroughly. This wasn’t helped of course by stuffing the wet heads with damp sand which became damper and heavier as it soaked up the water from the hides.

After 27 hrs, a large proportion of which was with the rattles hung on the washing line to dry with the elements of air and fire doing their best to assist, I decided to take a chance that they were hard enough and empty the sand out to create empty shells so they would stand a better chance of drying. This helped enormously and once the hide was hard I could play with adding and subtracting the stones that I had been drawn to use to make the ‘rattle’, until I found a sound for each of them that shifted energy in a way that spoke to me.

I then of course had to empty the stones out and place them safely to one side so that the necks of the heads could be re soaked as I needed them soft enough to fit the handles tightly when they were re tied.

Having earlier decided that I would experiment with deer and elk lacing to fit the heads to the handles this had been soaking in the same water I used to soak the heads and so by now was ready to go. Once the necks were soft I refilled the heads with the stones and then laced them to the handles which I had by then polished with beeswax.

Then as with everything else with these rattles, they needed to be hung again so the neck, lacing and heads could completely dry out. I have now lost track of the time these have taken but like everything when crafting, especially when creating tools, there is no way of rushing, everything has to be done with awareness and given the time and space to develop its spirit as the work progresses.

I still have to spend time meeting and working with the spirit of these rattles, getting to know and understand them,  how they will work with me and if they wish to be decorated in any way. But for now at least my solstice rattles are complete 🙂

Deer Rattle

Deer Rattle

Elk Rattle

Elk Rattle

 

Solstice Rattles 


Today I made rattles 🙂 Well they are partly made anyway for these things take time. At the moment I have both an Elk rattle and a Deer rattle hanging up to dry. 

What was interesting was that I realised as I was making the rattles, that this is the first real crafting I have done for a long time, since I stopped making shamanic drums really. It was good to get back into it again and I now have hope that the collection of materials that has accumulated while I wasn’t looking, may one day be turned into something useful, maybe even tools to work with. 

Anyway, the rattles are in their second stage of development and now need to be left in peace to dry out ready for the remainder of their birthing which will of course include finding their voices. 

Elk Rattle

Deer Rattle

Rattles for Solstice 

I knew something would come to me if I gave the energy the space it needed 🙂

Yesterday out of nowhere I found myself thinking about making rattles and wondering whether I could find the time to prepare the materials in ceremony ready to make them on 21st. Now I know there is some discussion this year as to whether solstice is the 20th or 21st but I’m going for the 21st for there is method in my madness.

Today after I finished work, after I caught up properly with a friend I hadn’t spent quality time with for a long time, I decided to just go for it. 

Hide was unearthed from storage, wood for handles made itself known to me, sacred space was opened and the spirits of all were thanked. I was ready to go! 

Although in the past I made shamanic drums this is the first time I have made rattles and in many ways it is a trial run. Friends who I work with often have been asking to make rattles for some time now but it is difficult to get us all in the same place at the same time, plus I have no idea how long it might take. This way I will know.

At the moment Deer and Elk hide has been prepared for the heads. It is now in soak with sage and rosemary for cleansing and purification. Tonight it will bask in the light of the full moon and tomorrow soak up the solstice sunrise thus being fed and filled by the energy of both. This is why I am going for the 21st 🙂 

Tomorrow I will stitch each hide, fill them with sand, bind them to their handles and hang them to dry. They will not be completely finished on the solstice but their birthing will have well and truely begun. 

Summer Solstice

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Summer Solstice is usually one of my favourite times of the year. I love the balance of day and night and coming as it does in the midst of summer, celebrating outside is often not only possible but enjoyable. Summer Solstice is the one time of year I really look forward to marking by some kind of ritual, sometimes with friends and sometimes as a solitary.

This year though, for some reason it is different. Time has somehow got away from me and was only a day or two ago that I actually realised Solstice was creeping up on me, for one moment I even thought I had missed it completely. This came as quite a shock for even though I don’t religiously follow the ritual of a wheel of the year, I do, in my own way, acknowledge the passing of time and the turning of the wheel.

This year as part of my Ovate training with the OBOD I have been trying to live the wheel by  observing changes in the world around me so that I am always aware of where and when I am. Because it has been warm, dry and sunny I have been outside a lot, in the garden, working with plants, tidying, planting and just generally enjoying the natural world around me. Perhaps it is because it’s been such amazing weather (not always the case where I live),  that I somehow hadn’t noticed the passing of time, or perhaps I have just so been caught up in the enjoyment of a dry, warm spell that I haven’t been aware of where in the year I am. Whatever has happened Summer Solstice is tapping on my shoulder and at the moment I have no plans.

In many ways I am pleased about this for it gives me complete freedom to work with my intuition, my guides, allies and the spirits of place, on the day of Summer Solstice itself,  to mark the time in whatever way I am guided. I actually prefer this way of creating ceremony or ritual to using anything anyone else has constructed or which can be found in a book and of course if I am alone I don’t have to take into account anyone else’s energy or wishes.

I am almost expecting that solstice this year will be different anyway, the energy higher perhaps as with the full moon just a few hours before the Summer Solstice sunrise it can hardly fail to have some effect. I am though being patient and with a few days to spare I still have time to sow the seeds of Summer Solstice, to wait to see how they germinate, what grows from them and what form the ritual takes this year.

Pagan Blog Project – Making Ritual Work For You

imageAt the moment I am enjoying spending some of my time working at Bard level with the Order of the Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) which has made me think much more deeply about ritual both the form and the purpose.

As a shamanic healer I’ve never been one for formalised ritual as in shamanism we work with the spirit of the place, our own guides and allies plus more than a little of our own intuition when we perform ritual. As with much of shamanism there is no right or wrong only what we need to do in that space at that particular time. Consequently my rituals are never the same two years running even though they may take place at the same time of the year and sometimes in the same place. The spirits of the place may ask me to do something and their wishes or needs are always paramount. My own guides and allies may guide me in a particular way and the energy of those present, or my energy if I am on my own, may also affect the way I perform the ritual.

At Bardic level with the OBOD however there are set rituals for set times of the year, one for each of the eight turns of the wheel. To be fair the OBOD does encourage us to make the rituals work for us, to use what resonates and leave what doesn’t. The form is a suggestion so it is still possible and encouraged, to make each and every one work for you.

My guides though had other ideas. At the start of the course they told me that it was important for me to work through the rituals and ceremonies exactly as they were written so that I could understand the symbolism of them. In doing so I could then make an informed choice based on understanding. So that is what I have been doing. I would like to say it’s been easy….but….

I have obviously learnt so much by working in the way my guides told me to. A lot of things that I would have done instinctively or because I had been asked to now make perfect sense. I have a much stronger connection with the eight turns of the wheel of the year whereas before I would have celebrated Summer and Winter Solstice, Samhain and being as I live in Ireland and it’s hard to miss here, Beltane. And this is where the ‘but’ comes in…I find myself doing the ritual set out in the OBOD materials and then doing the ritual again in my own way. It is doing it my own way that gives me the strongest connection always.

So coming up to Summer Solstice on Saturday what will I be doing?

First of all I will carry our the ritual as in my OBOD materials for this is my first Summer Solstice training as a Bard. It will be a solitary ritual as I will be on my own. Had I been with other OBOD members then I would have fitted in with the group ritual and here I can see that having a scripted ritual makes perfect sense so everyone knows where they are, what their role is and what is happening. Once I have done this though I will, as usual, perform my own ritual.

I will be in my garden and in one particular area the energy has always been special. It is here that I used to have my labyrinth and where I am as sure as I can be that there once stood a stone circle. First of all I will sit quietly and connect with the spirits of the place to see what they need from me, if I need to undergo a shamanic journey then I will. I will listen carefully and then if I need to collect something to work with for them will do so. I will then journey to meet my guides and allies to see if they need anything of me and again if I need anything I will collect it.

Most often I will work with sage, drum and rattle at some point in the ritual and there is always earth, fire, water and air present. I will follow my guidance and also my own intuition, doing what feels right for the space and spirits present. The ritual may be long or it may be short I will only know when I work on Summer Solstice itself, at the moment I have no idea, which is exactly how it should be.

I was going to journey for a Summer Solstice ritual/ceremony to add here but have been told not to. Instead I have been asked to suggest that you take yourself outside to whatever space feels right for you, with whatever feels right for you be it drum, rattle, bells, candles, water, feathers, crystals or anything else that you find calls to you.

Once you are outside be guided by your own intuition and instincts. Change what you are doing if it doesn’t feel right, if it does then carry on.

If you have a ritual you have found elsewhere great. Don’t follow it religiously but make it work for you and what feels right in the space that you are in. Use it and adapt it so that it fits and feels right. And above all have fun.

Summer Solstice is a celebration, a time for thanking the period of light and acknowledging the move towards the darkness once again. This is something to be celebrated as we all need to reach the point again, as the wheel turns, where we go within. To do otherwise isn’t healthy, so make the most of the long summer nights but know that as they drawn shorter all is exactly as it should be.