An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies,
Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
CUSTOMS & LORE
20 June 2012 - 22 September 2012
[Note, 6/15/11: might require a sign-in to see photo -- ::sigh:: I can't figure it out]
We are the stars who sing, we sing with our
We are the birds of fire, we fly over the sky.
Our light is a voice....
[From: Passamaquoddy Song-- updated 6/15/11]
We think of summer solstice as a time of intense light, not of dark matter and black holes. Yet by holding these two realms in a dynamic tension -- Carl Jung's neti...neti (Sanskrit for neither this...nor that) -- a wondrous "third" will eventually emerge. We are living in an age in which we are discovering ways to estimate the far-flung locations of mysterious "dark matter" and to calculate its mass and possible relationship to black holes (see Science Daily). We are grappling with the amazing implications of quantum worlds. As Dr. Stuart Hammeroff writes (and as artists have long known), we can even define "consciousness" as the interface, or edge, between our classical, familiar, time-bound world and the quantum world in which particles exist simultaneously, connected over distance, in multiple, timeless dimensions.
Against this backdrop, it is difficult to grasp how religious fundamentalists, whether Christian, Moslem, or Jew, have squashed the vastness of reality into tiny strongboxes filled with laws for which they are willing to die. They forget that all life-forms, whether two-footed, four-footed, feathered, or finned, are gardens of stars, "holy nights," their atoms singing, circling, weaving through time/space, starbirthing, black hole-ing, nova-ing, star-breathing, all-loving, always, always. They forget. They become obsessed with controlling what they can of these sacred processes and ignoring all the rest. So they create a deity in their own small-minded image and then try to destroy the wonder and vast diversity all around them.
Far beyond the small concerns of this story-loving planet, the gods, devas, angels, jinns, or spirits perhaps observe but rarely intervene. For even they are caught up in larger cycles of stars, dark matter, black holes, and other phenomena far beyond our awareness. I wish it were otherwise. I wish they would all band together and create a worldwide, stunningly convincing "sacred theatre," revealing to each person an intensely personal vision of what is most holy. If, for example, Jesus is one person's most holy and trusted expression of the divine, it would be Jesus who would bring that person's vision. If for another that Being is Kuan Yin, it would be Kuan Yin who would bring that person's vision. In other words, whichever Holy One most resonates with an individual human heart, that Holy One would be the one who would bring the vision.
I wish these Holy Ones would then instill in each of us a spirit of gladness and a compassionate willingness to work together. I wish they would make clearer where paths of healing are already unfolding. I wish they would simply end all war. In a sense, of course, they have already created such a "sacred theatre." The messages lie shimmering in our hearts, synapses, cells, dreams, mythologies, and moments of pure joy. But we always want more. Even if the It/She/He could be convinced to provide a worldwide event in which each person would be lovingly addressed by what is most holy, all happening simultaeously, everywhere on earth, in a vast outpouring of lovingkindness, the impact would diminish over time. Even if the "cosmic miracle" became a daily event (which, in fact, it already is), within two or three years, probably much less in more sophisticated regions, many people would have regressed to their old ways and new wars would be boiling over.
It's just "human nature," people will say. Well, no, it's not. "Human nature" is about balance, wholeness, love, caring, harmony, delight -- it has to be or we wouldn't have survived as such a creative species. War isn't part of "human nature" -- it's an insidious addiction that completely distorts our nature. So, with enormous patience and many brilliant therapists and conflict negotiators, we should treat it as an addiction instead of letting our industrial-military complex fund it with trillions of dollars made by plundering our planet and embittering our souls.
There is such beauty out there, such wonder, such awe. And yet, on this miniscule pinpoint in space called Earth, there is also such maddening idiocy. We need to start dreaming a new dream. The nightmare has lasted long enough. May this summer's solstice bring a "sacred theatre" / "cosmic miracle" to each of us. It's time.
With whispers of hope,
*** RELATED MYTH*ING LINKS PAGES
Wars, Weapons, and Lies: The Dehumanizing Impulse
Artists & Muses: The Creative Impulse
The Crone Papers: Notes on the Mideast
Lorenz & Watkins: Silenced Knowings, Forgotten Springs: Paths to Healing in the Wake of Colonialism
Lorenz & Watkins: Individuation, Seeing-through, and Liberation: Depth Psychology and Colonialism
Deena Metzger's Call for Deliberation
(Courtesy of Tradestone International)
Summer Solstice: World Peace & Prayer Day
Here you'll find information on an annual Native American-sponsored summer solstice day for World Peace and Prayer:http://www.angelfire.com/theforce/soulretrieval/frontpage.html"...I, Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nation, humblely ask that the spirit of great Nations help us to heal our sacred Mother Earth (Unci Maka). I call upon other Spiritual Leaders and Ancient Storytellers to work together on this urgent effort!"The site is updated annually and looks at global celebrations [also see below], children's activities, and many other excellent related issues. (Note: some pages are linked specifically to summer solstice, but many are not -- they're valid year round.)
[Added 17 June 2004]: This is a site that links summer solstice to a new celebration, "World Soul Retrieval Day, a "vision of bringing the global shamanic community together." From the introduction:
http://www.angelfire.com/theforce/soulretrieval/wsr.htmlThis vision quickened within the shamanic earth ceremonies of Frank MacEowen....I like the concept and encourage you to explore the site to see if you resonate with the ideas presented there. [Note, 14 June 2006: this site hasn't been updated since 2004 but the message is timeless. Also see below...]
...MacEowen saw the altars of various shamans, medicine people, and shamanic practitioners all over the world, being activated and "linked up" on a common day to create a "world altar." This "world altar," made up of many altars anchored simultaneously in the deep energies and "light" of primal earth, serve to focus us on not only transforming grief, but also calling toward us a powerful spiritual reality, a shared dream of the future, what he calls "the future Earth-Spirit culture."
[Added 14 June 2006]: This is a page from the above website that offers suggestions for celebrating "World Soul Retrieval Day." I especially enjoyed the grand sweep of the passage on fire:http://www.globalmeditations.com/calendar.htmFire is sacred to all earth people. It is at the core of the transformative process in many shamanic traditions. At the apex of the noonday sun on June 20 2004, people working with the energies of the World Soul Retrieval vision are invited to light a ceremonial fire, or a candle, to acknolwedge our luminous connections and our common aim to promote healing, purification, and soul-retrieval. It is also an ancient way to pay homage to the life-giving Sun, on this the eve of the Summer Solstice.
As we do this we remember the Old Ones; those who came before us; those who lit the ceremonial fires before us; those many generations who also knew soul loss and who also gathered in ceremony to call the soul parts home.
We are also calling to the spirit of the sacred fires of the future; the fires of our descendents, even the fires we will one day stand around again thousands of years from now. We, who are the ancestors of those to come, are kindling this flame for those who will, in time, remember us in ceremony; who will, in time, be seeking our guidance for the challenges of their time. On this day we commit, or re-commit, to a path of becoming good ancestors for them.
[Added 26 May 2000]: This page, usually updated annually prior to May Day, offers an impressive array of annual global peace conferences and celebrations running from May to December. Many include links to their own websites or e-mail contacts. [June 18, 2010 -- site now has this note: “Hello, everyone, this calendar of events is not up-to-date because I have been traveling nearly constantly since 2009. Sorry. Barbara Wolf.” /// June 15, 2011: still no update.]http://web.archive.org/web/20080202142904/http://liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov/news/2001/news-summer.asp
[Added 22 June 2001]: For the pure science of this summer solstice event, see this engaging little children's page from 2001 with charts and text explaining how summer actually gives us less, but longer, sunlight, which is why it's so much warmer than in winter when we get more, but shorter, sunlight.http://www.clarkfoundation.org/astro-utah/vondel/solsticesum.html
Note---6/14/06: message on the homepage of this nasa.gov site: “This site is no longer supported, and is maintained for archival purposes only.” The site's info is still excellent, however -- the page also has a nice link to sundials, although the two links to the seasons are now broken. Nasa.gov also offers other children’s pages on summer solstice. These are from a cultural and/or archaeological viewpoint: http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forkids/home/F_Sun_Watchers_From_Long_Ago_Text.html;
[Added 26 May 2000]: Written for the Clark Foundation, this is "Solstices Are Milestones of Civilization" by Von Del Chamberlain. It's a powerfully written, wise and passionate plea for integrating modern science & ethics into ancient lore instead of trying to regress:...From earliest times until now people have struggled to understand natural realities, such as the causes of the solstices. They found interpretations that satisfied their needs, and they used their understanding for improvement of their lives. Differing cultures came into contact and shared their interpretations. Such toil and dialogue eventually led to science, an intellectual endeavor committed to free sharing of knowledge for all who might be interested. Such knowledge is power, which, when coupled with wisdom, can expand horizons beyond what is possible in any other way....
...The people at Stonehenge, those who built and used the Big Horn Medicine Wheel, and the Anasazi at Chaco Canyon, all experienced religious, political and ecological problems. So do we, in context with desires to find and explore new frontiers. The problems and solutions are never easy. Responsible and compassionate uses of knowledge, coupled with retention of solid ethical values, is vital to growth toward our human potentials.
What does all this have to do with the coming of the solstice each year? Annual repetitions are milestones of desired changes. Each time we arrive at this point to enjoy the increased illumination from the Sun, human history on planet Earth has yielded one more year of experience and discovery. We can still look out from the center of Stonehenge to see the Sun rise over the heelstone as it did thousands of years ago, but looking around in all other directions yields knowledge that revises and refines what we treasured before. The traditions of earlier solstices belonged to the people of those generations, and solstice by solstice they transformed to become the ethos we claim as ours, here and now. We should honor and respect mores of past solstices, while we apply products of knowledge for the benefit of all mankind and the other creatures we share Mother Earth with....
[6/18/10: original version is now on Web Archive. But Nichol's most recent revision is at Sacred Texts:
[Added 12 June 2001]: This is Mike Nichols' page on Midsummer. I love his work (which appears on most of my seasonal pages) -- both his common sense and his wide-ranging knowledge and wit are very appealing:...since most European peasants were not accomplished at reading an ephemeris or did not live close enough to Salisbury Plain to trot over to Stonehenge and sight down its main avenue, they celebrated the event on a fixed calendar date, June 24th. The slight forward displacement of the traditional date is the result of multitudinous calendrical changes down through the ages. It is analogous to the winter solstice celebration, which is astronomically on or about December 21st, but is celebrated on the traditional date of December 25th, Yule, later adopted by the Christians.Since "old" Midsummer's Eve of June 23rd is also the eve of the Feast of John the Baptist, here is Nichols on St. John's Eve:
Again, it must be remembered that the Celts reckoned their days from sundown to sundown, so the June 24th festivities actually begin on the previous sundown (our June 23rd). This was Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Eve. Which brings up another point: our modern calendars are quite misguided in suggesting that 'summer begins' on the solstice. According to the old folk calendar, summer begins on May Day and ends on Lammas (August 1st), with the summer solstice, midway between the two, marking mid-summer. This makes more logical sense than suggesting that summer begins on the day when the sun's power begins to wane and the days grow shorter.......St. John himself was often seen as a rather Pagan figure. He was, after all, called 'the Oak King'. His connection to the wilderness (from whence 'the voice cried out') was often emphasized by the rustic nature of his shrines. Many statues show him as a horned figure.... Obviously, this kind of John the Baptist is more properly a Jack in the Green! Also obvious is that behind the medieval conception of St. John lies a distant, shadowy Pagan deity, perhaps the archetypal Wild Man of the Wood, whose face stares down at us through the foliate masks that adorn so much church architecture....(Note: Nichols takes issue with the usual assertion that the Holly King defeats his dark rival, the Oak King, at midwinter, and that the Oak King in turn kills the Holly King at midsummer. Nichols does this is a further essay, linked near the bottom of his Midsummer page: he argues that the conquests and deaths belong to the equinoxes, not to the solstices. I found it well argued and convincing.)
(Courtesy of Russian Sunbirds)
[Added 12 & 16 June 2001]: This is a fine page on worldwide summer solstice traditions from the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Celebrations covered include: Alban Heflin, Alben Heruin, All-couples day, Feast of Epona, Feast of St. John the Baptist, Feill-Sheathain, Gathering Day, Johannistag, Litha, Midsummer, Sonnwend, Thing-Tide, and Vestalia. Cultures and traditions belonging to the above celebrations include ancient Celts, Chinese, Gauls, Germans, Slavs, Romans, Swedes, Christians, Native Americans (including solstice wheels), neo-pagans, and the pre-historic peoples who built astronomical stone structures. In addition to interesting text (footnoted), there is a useful list of websources at the end.http://merganser.math.gvsu.edu/myth/footprints.html#festivals
http://www.celtic-connection.com/myth/s-solstice.html: Broken link 13 June 2003 -- I'll try to get an update; no update available as of 17 June 2004, but I'm keeping the annotation. Aha -- Spring 2006 -- Cynthia Austin has herself sent me updates - see above and scroll down to Summer Solstice!]
[Added 26 May 2000]: This is "Light and Dark Meet Again at Midsummer" by C. Austin for the Celtic Connection. It is a brief, but lyrical essay on the season. Here is a small passage from the conclusion:http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/arts/sumwords.htm...The wheel is turning, oh so quickly it seems. Live this moment while we have it. Pause and listen for the song of the birds of summer, breath the fragrance of a beautiful flower or take a moonlit walk. Soon the shadows of the coming season will turn us inward once more.
[12 June 2001 and 2 June 2006 updates:] The above essay is no longer at this link -- Austin updates her essays annually -- all are fine and the new 2006 link provides a partial archive of her earlier ones.
[Annotation expanded 17 May 2002]: Gathered by "Weather Doctor," Dr. Keith C. Heidorn, this is a wonderful collection of quotes, "The Elders Speak: About Summer," ranging from Jane Austen to Thoreau to Ray Bradbury. Here are two lovely examples:http://www.dailyom.com/cgi-bin/display/printerfriendly.cgi?articleid=400Summer gathered in the weather, the wind had the proper touch, the breathing of the world was long and warm and slow.
Today the summer has come at my window with its signs and murmurs...Now it is time to sit quiet face to face with Thee, and to sing dedication of life in this silent and overflowing leisure.
[Added 5/15/05; annotated a year later, 6/15/06]: From Daily Om comes an interesting little page, "Earth Acupuncture: Balancing Geopathic Zones." Here is how it opens:Just as acupuncture can restore balance to our human bodies, earth acupuncture can beThe page then offers various ways to re-balance earth in times of stress.
used to neutralize negative energy in the earth known as "geopathic zones." Landfill
sites, construction, burial grounds, even a felled tree can all cause "geopathic stress"
and, as our own energy constantly interact with the energy of earth's (and all of the
universe's), we can be affected by imbalances in our environment....
Summer Feast in Sunny Fields
(Courtesy of Russian Sunbirds)
[Added 26 May 2000]: This is an interesting paper, "Old Russian Summer Solstice Mythology," by Dr. Eileen M. Starr. As part of EarthWatch, Dr. Starr visited a rural area in southwest Russia in 1997 for her folkloric research. Despite her hopes for rich data for a planetarium exhibit in the US, she found no starlore, and nothing about the sun nor moon. What she found instead were scattered remnants of summer solstice lore, which she details in this paper. She also briefly discusses why a larger body of cosmological lore has vanished in this region of Russia. Here is a passage from that section:http://web.archive.org/web/20061117113622/http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/2810/rasa.html...Most images in the folklore are based on ancient Slavic pagan beliefs. The Russian Orthodox church, founded in A. D. 988, tried but failed to supplant the pagan world view. The Communist regime tried to eradicate the folk customs, stating that in Russia's past, there were no cultural or historical values to be preserved. In addition, the establishment of the seven day work week on the collective farm and the limited personal contact between children and their parents meant that folk lore traditions were not passed onto the younger generations. Only the elderly remember the folklore.
We visited many elderly, mainly women in their 70's and 80's, in the small villages near Bryansk. Amazing to me, no one knew of any stories about the moon, the stars, or constellations. At a latitude of 53 degrees, the nights were short in July, but the stars were spectacular without the competition of lights or smog. There was Ursa Major and Polaris. Mars lighted the sky in the south. However, each time I inquired about sky lore, I was told that they knew of none. In this very agricultural society, apparently no one used the sky as a calendar. I surmise that when the mud dried out in the Spring, they planted. When the crop was ripe, they harvested. With the Church or collective farm organizing their time, the villagers didn't need a calendar....
[Added 26 May 2000]: From "Sacred Serpent" comes this beautiful essay on summer solstice in Baltic lands, "RASA: The Summer Solstice," from Ramuva/Lithuania (translated by Audrius Dundzila, Ph.D. and first published in "romuva/usa", Issue #4, 1991). Here's an excerpt:http://slavija.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=culture&action=print&thread=5367At the end of June, at the time of the solstice, when nights are longest and nature blossoms and grows, the Balts celebrate the festival of Rasa (dew). Many written sources document the celebration of the Summer Solstice....T. Narbutas wrote: "The name Rasa probably reflects the belief that water, like dew, is born from the depths: the seas, the earth, etc." In ancient traditions dew principally revealed life. The amount of dew on the morning of the feast foretold the size of that year's harvest. Before the sunrise on Solstice morning, dew possesses exceptional healing powers....The essay offers rich Baltic lore. Some of it could be adapted if you wish to create a ritual to greet this joyous season of the "dancing sun" in your own personal way.
...S. Daukantas wrote: "Before the feast everybody went to the holy rivers and lakes, where they washed and bathed, hoping to stay young. Whoever did everything they could suddenly discovered themselves to be immensely wise and possessing the power to see evil people, charlatans and witches. No other holiday was as joyous, because--as according to the pasakos (folk tales) and rumors--the sun dances across the sky!"....
[Added 26 May 2000]: From "Slavic Pagan Holidays" comes a page that looks at Slavic summer solstice customs -- here, as with the Balts, there is a strong focus on water:http://web.archive.org/web/20071212151741/http://www.geocities.com/Athens/5606/litha.html...Kupalo [summer solstice] comes from the verb kupati which means "to bathe" and mass baths were taken on the morning of this holiday. On this holiday, the sun supposedly bathed by dipping into the waters at the horizon. This imbued all water with his power and therefore, those who bathed on this day would absorb some of that power....[Annotation for new link added 18 June 2010]: From Alexandrus' richly illustrated (but poorly loading) 2007 Slavic Nationalist Forum page comes a passage on "Summer" -- scroll down to about an inch from the bottom of his long page to find it. The first passage, as you'll see, repeats word for word what I excerpted in 2000. Since this Slavic data has a habit of moving, then vanishing, then moving again, I'm quoting the "Summer" passage in full:Kupalo - (Coo-PAH-loh) - the Celebration of the summer solstice. Kupalo comes from the verb kupati which means "to bathe" and mass baths were taken on the morning of this holiday. On this holiday, the sun supposedly bathed by dipping into the waters at the horizon. This imbued all water with his power and therefore, those who bathed on this day would absorb some of that power.Michaela also found another Slavic link "with," she writes, "even more information, I think, but it’s very balky on my computer." Unfortunately, the link is to "scribd," which consistently crashes my computer so I'm not even going to try it! Here's the link for those interested:
Fire was sacred to the ancient Slavs and fires were never allowed to go out. In the sanctuaries, fires were tended by the priests and in the home, guarded by the mother. On the eve of Kupalo, however, all fires were extinquished and rekindled with "new fire". New fire was created by friction. A peg was rotated within a hole in a block of wood made especially for this purpose. In some areas, animals were sacrificed on Kupalo's eve and a feast prepared of them entirely by men was shared as a communal meal. Bonfires were lit and couples jumped over them. It was considered a good omen and prediction of marriage if a young couple could jump the flame without letting go of each other's hand. Cattle was chased through the fires in order to ensure their fertility.
At the beginning of the celebration, a straw image of "Kupalo" was made of straw, dressed like a woman and placed under a sacred tree. At the end of the festival, the effigy was ritually destroyed by burning, "drowning" or being ripped apart. Afterward, elaborate mock funerals were held. Two people pretending to be a priest and deacon would cense the figure, with a mixture of dung and old shoes burning over coals in a clay pot. The funeral was carried out among much wailing and laughter.
Kupalo was considered the most powerful time to gather both magical and medicinal plants. It was considered the only time to gather the magical fire-fern. On Kupalo's eve, the flower of the fern was said to climb up the plant and burst into bloom. Anyone who obtained it would gain magical powers including the ability to find treasures. To gather the herb, one must draw a magic circle around the plant and ignore the taunts of the demons who would try to frighten them off. Kupalo marked the end of the "Spring festival" period which started in the beginning of March.
(Detail -- check earlier years of Summer Solstice pages for full version)
Courtesy of Tradestone International
[Added 28 May 2000]: Still in keeping with the water theme is this lively and informative page from Lady Bridget. She discusses several wonderful ways of using the element of water in your summer solstice rituals. For example:Mything Links: Sacrality & Lore of Water...Since the Sun at Litha is entering Cancer, a water sign, this holiday is one of the best ones for gathering your magickal water which will be used on your altar and in your spells for the coming year. We usually go to the [Florida] beach at Litha, and gather salt-water. We bring offerings of flowers and nuts, and 3 pennies or 3 dimes for prosperity and throw these into the waves before we take our water. We honor Aphrodite and Yameya as the Goddesses of the Sea by taking some jewelry as an offering....Lady Bridget looks at the role of John the Baptist, whose feastday was supposed to replace summer solstice, just as his cousin's was meant to supplant winter solstice. She also discusses herbs, mead, and honeymoons.
If you don't live near the sea, another excellent source of magickal water, is rain water from a thunderstorm, and there are plenty that occur at this time of year. The more electrical energy the storm puts out, the more energized the water is, so the fiercer the better! Collect in a glass jar, or porcelain, avoid metal containers. Store on a shelf, and don't leave the jar on the ground, or the energy will ground. We only use our water for 6 months, after that we return the water to the source, and collect fresh....
[Added 12 June 2001]: This is my own page on water. In three years of gathering and grokking links from all over the world, I've found many that have become personal favorites. For simple, stunning significance, however, none can match the work of Japanese researcher, Masaru Emoto, and his book, The Message from Water. I now own the book and am awed every time I explore it. The first four links on my water page look at Emoto's work. Trust me -- you'll be amazed and moved. Don't miss this one.http://web.archive.org/web/20040810010736/http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/2810/Saule.html
[Added 26 May 2000]: Again from "Sacred Serpent" comes "The Baltic Sun Goddess - Saule" (first published in Sacred Serpent: Journal of Baltic Tradition, Issue #2, 1994). The rich essay begins with:http://www.schooloftheseasons.com/midsummer.html: [Link updated 13 June 2003]The Great Goddess, Saule, (pronounced SOW-lay) whose name means the sun itself, is queen of heaven and Earth and matriarch of the cosmos. She is a beloved and popular deity of the Lithuanians and Latvians, as many old hymns and prayers attest. Her main feasts occur at the summer solstice (Rasa or Kupolines), winter solstice (Kaledos) and the equinoxes....
...On summer solstice morning, Balts anxiously awaited the sunrise, in order not to miss even Her first blessed rays. Everyone wanted to see how the sun danced, how it ascended and then descended for a moment, and how it finally shone in various colours. In Latvian songs about such feasts we find the refrain: "The sun, dancing on the silver hill, has silver shoes on Her feet"....
[Added 26 May 2000]: "Celebrating Midsummer" is from Waverly Fitzgerald's School of the Seasons. If you follow my seasonal pages, you'll already be familiar with Waverly's work. She writes beautifully and has a keen eye and ear for great lore. I love her folkloric weavings. This page is no exception. Here's a passage from the very beginning of her page:http://www.schooloftheseasons.com/makingwreaths.html...As the name midsummer indicates, this is considered the height of the summer. Yet there is an undertone of darkness in the light. While we celebrate the power of the sun, we also note its decline. From now on the hours of sunlight will decrease....
...Flowers and May Day wreaths are tossed into the fire. They burn and die just as the heat of the summer consumes the spring and brings us closer to the decline of autumn and the death of vegetation in winter. As we begin the decline, it's important to remember that the wheel of the year is a circle. The spring will come again. The sun will triumph over the darkness again. Thus, the circle is an important symbol. Wreaths are hung on doors. People gaze at the fire through wreaths and wear necklaces of golden flowers.
Before the calendar was changed in the 18th century, Midsummer fell on 4th of July. When you celebrate Fourth of July, think of all those brilliant fireworks and blazing Catherine wheels as devotions in honor of the sun....
(Courtesy of Tradestone International)
[Added 26 May 2000]: Here Waverly continues with a page on summer solstice wreath-making, an activity she does poorly, which is why her details are so great.http://www.schooloftheseasons.com/signssummer.html...Until I saw a copy of Elizabeth Jane Lloyd's The Enchanted Circle, I did not think I had the ability to create a wreath. All my attempts were pitiful things, limp and disheveled with bits and pieces sticking out here and there. Looking at the photographs of the gorgeous wreaths Lloyd created I was inspired. Reading her directions on how to create a wreath, I recognized that it was a craft, like baking, which is best done when following directions. Although I know people who can bake a cake from scratch without a recipe, I am not one of them....I, alas, also have a dreadful time with sensate instructions, and so I'm not likely to make a wreath just yet. But one day.......yes, I'll try one. I appreciate, by the way, Waverly's insight into how ritual symbols tend to bridge seasonal dyads:...Candles are prominent on Christmas and Candlemas. Eggs show up on Easter and on May Day. Maypoles are danced around on May Day and Summer Solstice....Like Maypoles, wreaths too, as she points out, figure in May Day as well as Summer Solstice celebrations.
[Added 26 May 2000]: This fun page collects worldwide insights from people who write to Waverly and comment on how summer begins for them. (Note: updated annually; preceding year's entries deleted.)http://www.wicca.com/celtic/akasha/litha.htm
[Added 26 May 2000]:From the Celtic Connection comes Herne's page on Litha, or Celtic Summer Solstice. Herne give a good overview and also lists the feast's special foods, herbs and flowers, incense, gem, wood, and activities.http://www.wicca.com/celtic/akasha/litharit.htm
[Added 26 May 2000]: Again from the Celtic Connection comes a Litha ritual by Akasha -- it is a moving, powerful tribute to both Goddess and God at this time of the sun's height. The ritual works for solitaries as well as groups.http://web.archive.org/web/20041020140915/www.twpt.com/ritualyasmine.htm:[Link updated 6/15/06 to Web Archive]
[Added 26 May 2000]: This is a much more elaborate, dramatic ritual from Yasmine Galenorn. If you have at least 15 people and a strong sense of ritual theatre, this is a great celebration.http://www.robinwood.com/LivingtreeGrove/Magic/MagicPages/GroundCenter.html
[Added 26 May 2000]: Regardless of your path, whether in daily life or ritual-space, this little page on "Grounding & Centering" from Robin Wood (of tarot fame) is highly recommended. In addition to a simple but crucial exercise, there is a remarkable image of a human body shimmering with 7 glowing chakras (I often use it as a personal screensaver to remind me to stay grounded among all the pixels <smile>).
http://web.archive.org/web/20090422222829/http://www.kstrom.net/isk/stars/starmenu.html: [updated 6/15/11]
http://indy4.fdl.cc.mn.us/~isk/stars/starmenu.html: [Broken link 13 June 2003 -- I'll try to get an update. Still broken 17 June 2004, but I'm keeping the annotation and hoping this site surfaces again one day. Aha! -- June 15, 2006 -- it's re-surfaced and my ally Michaela found it! -- see: http://www.kstrom.net/isk/stars/starmenu.html]
This site from the late Paula Giese (d. summer 1997), a passionate, brilliant activist for her people, is on "Aboriginal Star Knowledge: Native American Astronomy." It's an engrossing site, filled with great links to stars, time, solstices, equinoxes, Medicine Wheels, and a wide range of rich indigenous lore related to the heavens.http://web.archive.org/web/20081230095236/http://www.kstrom.net/isk/stars/starkno3.html: [updated 6/15/11]
[Added 18 June 2010]: Among the many links at the above site is this one: "Time, Sun and the Stars." Geise begins with this stunning song from the Abenaki-Passamaquoddy people [collected in Maine by Charles G. Leland around 1882 --see Geise's page for full credits; I've now added it to my opening essay]:Then Geise continues with various drawings depicting sky-paths, including the one above. She writes:We are the stars who sing, we sing with our light;
We are the birds of fire, we fly over the sky.
Our light is a voice.
We make a road for the spirits, for the spirits to pass over.
Among us are three hunters who chase a bear.
There never was a time when they were not hunting.
We look down on the mountains.
This is the song of the stars.--Passamaquoddy Song...all peoples who observe the skies know this relationship shown for the sun's path across the sky at 4 key days during the year -- days sacred to most indigenous peoples.Geise provides links to more of her hand-drawn sky maps and much more Native American sky-lore. Along the way, you'll also find more remarkable Native American poetry and songs.
Landmarks can be used if a people are always in the same place to mark the sunrise and sunset points of these four days. On a compass rose -- which looks very much like the traditional star quilt pattern -- the line between the northeast and northwest tips marks the summer solstice, when the sun is farthest north, and the line between southeast and southwest tips the winter solstice sunpath. The line across the middle -- from east to west -- is the line of both equinoxes.
The Lakota were nomadic and didn't always camp at the same spots. The angle of direction and length of the sun's noon shadow can be determined, and provides a simple way to identify these 4 key days that mark the earth's seasons. There are painted hides usually identified in museums as "war bonnet" or "feather circles". These resemble elaborate compass roses used by mariners, and would be handy and portable for making solar shadow time measurements, if a stick with a plumb-bob (an arrowhead, say) were placed upright in the center of the pattern....
...This brings us to where we can explain timing of the start of the Lakota sacred spring ceremonial round. It begins, the elders say, when the sun enters the Lakota constellation Dried Willow.....
... and was the signal for the Pipe Ceremony at winter camps that heralded a ceremonial round in the Black Hills, ending with a Solstice Sun Dance ... when the sun entered the Bear's Tipi constellation....
Old map of Ohio's Serpent Mound
[Added 18 June 2010]: I just came across this delightful and intriguingly honest blog, "Summer Solstice On Serpent Mound," about a homesteading couple unexpectedly invited into a New Age solstice ritual in 2009 at the Serpent Mound in Ohio. Here are some excerpts:http://www.ancientx.com/nm/anmviewer.asp?a=51&z=1Nearly a thousand years ago, Native Americans mounded up rock and earth into a quarter mile long serpent, winding over the top of an Ohio knoll.... Randomly, I looked it up on Friday and discovered that the sun sets over the head of the serpent on the Summer Solstice. With the solstice so near, we figured it was a sign we should take a road trip!
I'm a very skeptical person when it comes to religion and spirituality, but I let my normally skeptical mind quiet down for the day and instead enjoyed the power of an enormous snake winding across the ground.... "I wish we could go in there," I said to Mark, pointing into the hollow center of the head where all of power of the snake must be concentrated (if you believe that kind of thing, which I don't.)....
...I noticed a gathering of folks off to one side. Some were in Native American regalia, others in flowing dresses, and one man was even wearing druidic robes. I just knew that they were going to be holding a Solstice ceremony, exactly the type of thing I'd come to Serepent Mound for....
Now, as a side note, I once read a book about how to take part in religious ceremonies which you don't believe in.... The upshot of the book was pretty basic --- listen more than you talk, be polite, and follow along. So, when the Serpent Mound folks started talking about downloads from the fifth dimension, I smiled and nodded. Honestly, I didn't care what trappings they put on their ceremony --- I wanted to experience the power of Serpent Mound for myself and see if I could feel it.
We were dusted with sage smoke then told to walk around the mound three times to concentrate its energy. This was something I could sink my teeth into --- walking meditation. I took off my shoes partway through the third time around and didn't put them back on until the next morning. And, honestly, I felt something as my pace started to match the sound of a drummer's beat....
...Our circle split into a snake which wound down beside the serpent's coil. Then, before I knew it, there we were in the hollow center of the snake's head, running circles around the inside of the serpent's noggin.
One young woman began to dance in the center of the circle, undulating and winding in the type of dancing I've never been un-self-conscious enough to do. An older lady joined her, then they looked right at me. "Get in here." I pretended they were looking at someone else. "You. Pigtail girl. Get in here." And so I was sucked into the center, and the younger lady grabbed my hands and we jumped and jumped and jumped for joy, then twirled --- my favorite form of dancing --- grabbing each other's hands and counterbalancing against each other so we could spin and spin and spin until we were both dizzy....
...It only came to me days later what else I had gotten out of the "fifth dimension download". I've always been the person who plans her days, her weeks, her hours, who makes three page lists before going on a trip. But at Serpent Mound, I insinuated myself into a group of strangers. I skipped supper. I jumped for joy on the head of a serpent. In short, I went with the flow. Thanks, Serpent Mound Clan!
[Added 15 June 2006, thanks to Michaela]: This page offers a handful of brief examples of Native American astronomy. The introduction makes an imporant point:The astronomy practiced by Native Americans is impossible to summarize in one explanation, since the tribes had such diverse traditions and legends. The impressive aspect of their astronomy lies in the fact that many of the tribes were hunters and gatherers. This contrasts sharply with the other ancient cultures studied here, which developed the practice of astronomy after becoming equipped with the technology of agriculture....The site unfortunately offers more agriculturally-focused Native American astronomy than hunter-gatherer, but hopefully it will expand with time.
July 7th Tanabata ("Star") Festival
[see directly below]
[Added 26 May 2000]: Going to the other side of the world, this is an enthusiastic page (with many clickable photos) of Japanese summer feasts and celebrations in June, July and August. Here is one of the most famous:...On July 7 th Japan observes another of the seasonal events that originally came from China, way back in the 8th century. It is based on the legend of two stars ---Weaver Star (Vega) and Cowherd (Altair) --- who are supposed to have been lovers and could only meet on the seventh night of the seventh month, though on opposite banks of the River of Heaven (Milky Way). On this day people decorate bamboo branches with ornaments and long strips of colored papers on which they write their wishes and romantic aspiration....
Archived Summer 2011 Greeting Page
Archived Summer 2010 Greeting Page
Archived Summer 2009 Greeting Page
Archived Summer 2008 Greeting Page
Archived Summer 2007 Greeting Page
Archived Summer 2006 Greeting Page
Archived Summer 2005 Greeting Page
Archived Summer 2004 Greeting Page
Archived Summer 2003 Greeting Page
Archived Summer 2002 Greeting Page
Archived Summer 2001 Greeting page
Archived Summer 2000 Greeting page
Archived Summer 1999 Greeting page
August harvest celebration: Lammas or Lughnasa
Autumn Equinox Wheel of the Year European Earth-Based Ways
Common Themes East & West: The Sacrality & Lore of Water
Summer 2006: 14 June 2006: wrote opening essay & launched c. 5:30pm. Will update links from Michaela's work later.
15 June 2006, 2:45am: finished updating broken links, even some that have been dead for years -- thanks to Michaela's fine sleuthing.
11 December 2006: updated WD link.
Summer 2007: 4-5 June 2007, c. 10pm-4am: re-designed page & began new essay blended with last year's.
15 June 2007: revised and re-worked essay; updated solstice times for this year.
20 June 2007: more revisions; then deleted my planned repeat of last year's crows & owls subsection at the end of the opening essay. I'll let the new essay stand by itself. No need for updating links because Michaela, my Links-Elf, for the first time in years, found them all intact! Added science link below solstice times. Finally, 12:30pm-ish, launched the page.
Summer 2008: 17 June 2008, c. 1-2am: re-edited last year's essay & updated solstice times for 2008. Unable to launch until 19 June 2008, 4:45pm, because of ftp-problems in switching from one webhost to another.
Summer 2009: 9 June 2009, 2:30pm EDT: archived last year's page; updated times and dates for this year; and added tiny new intro to essay that I'm keeping from last year. As for link-updates, Michaela only found 2 or 3 broken links this year, but I'll do them later. Right now I'm trying to finish my new Bees page (a companion to the new General Insects and Fireflies pages).
Summer 2010: 18 June 2010, 12:15am EDT: archived last year's page and updated new times & dates for 2010. Removed dates from essay since I'm keeping it as the on-going one for this page (with a few minor changes in paragraph breaks); for those interested, earlier versions for 2009, 2008, and 2007 are available in archives. Added links to new Mother's Day and Memorial Day pages. Still need to update a few broken links.
Still 18 June 2010, 1:30-5pm EDT: completed updating broken links (from the ever-vigilant Michaela); added new Geise link & art; updated Wild Divine demo link.
Still 18 June 2010, 6pm EDT: just added a blog entry on solstice at Ohio's Serpent Mound.
Summer 2011: 15-16 June 2011, c. 11pm-12 midnight EDT: archived 2010 page & updated broken links for this year, thanks, as ever, to Michaela. Launched 12:40am, 6/16/11.
Summer 2012: 2-3am, 19 June 2012: archived last year's page and launched this one. Amazingly, Michaela, my Links-Elf, found no broken links! This is a first!!
The Hunger Site -- just click to send free food