Happy Solstice!

Hail, O Sun and Gods of the Sun!
We welcome your presence
as we celebrate the Solstice,
the longest day,
the pinnacle of your power;
when you stand still in the Northern sky
before you begin your journey Southward
and the days grow shorter.

The Solstice moment was this morning at 12:04 AM Central time. Today is the longest day of the year, and although the heat of Summer has yet to arrive (we haven’t had a 100 degree day in Dallas yet), the Sun will start rising a little later and a little closer to the South each day. Following the Sun – and the Moon – is one of the simplest and most effective ways to develop a closeness to Nature and the Gods and Spirits of Nature. This is a day that calls for special observations.

Thousands of people who feel that call – and some who just wanted a good party – gathered at Stonehenge overnight. Some of them think they’re following an ancient Druid tradition, while others know this tradition was started by the Revival Druids in the 1890s. I’ve been to Stonehenge and it’s an amazing place, but not even an appearance by Lugh himself could get me to deal with these crowds.

Besides, I think they’re all there six months out of phase. Yes, Stonehenge is aligned with Sunrise at the Summer Solstice, but it’s also aligned with Sunset at the Winter Solstice. The picture at the right is the view approaching the stone circle from the Avenue. Here’s the problem: if you were processing up the Avenue for a dawn ritual, the rising Sun would be at your back. But if you were making that same trek late in the afternoon at the Winter Solstice, the Sun would be visible for the entire procession.

Ultimately we don’t know, so we’re free to choose the meaning that seems right to us. This is what seems most likely and is most meaningful to me.

In any case, tomorrow I’ll set aside my Druid robes, put on an Egyptian tunic and serve as a priest of the Neteru. This year I’ll be a priest of Thoth, more properly known as Tehuty (we know most of the Neteru by the names given to them by the Greeks). This will be the 10th consecutive year that Denton CUUPS has held an Egyptian Summer Solstice ritual. Our liturgy has evolved over the years, but it is based on what is known of daily temple rituals from the Coffin Texts, the Pyramid Texts and the Book of Going Forth by Day (usually known as The Book of the Dead). We do our best to honor the gods and goddesses of Egypt and present them to the people of this new time and place.

Over the years this has been one of our best attended circles. In 2009 we presented it for the opening ritual of the Earth Rhythms Summer Solstice festival at White Rock Lake in Dallas. We counted 140 people at that event, by far the largest attendance we’ve ever had.

If you’re in the North Texas area, come out on Saturday night and join us. If you’re not, I imagine I’ll have something to say about it early next week.

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About John Beckett

I’m a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I’m an ordained priest in the Universal Gnostic Fellowship. I’m the Coordinating Officer of the Denton, Texas Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. This year I’m also serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of CUUPS National. I’m a member of the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

I write as a spiritual practice. It helps me organize my thoughts and work through ideas and concepts. It helps me evaluate my beliefs and practices against my core values and against what I know (or at least, what I think I know) to be true. It helps me interpret my experiences (religious and otherwise) in ways that are both meaningful and honest.

  • http://endlesserring.wordpress.com/ Treeshrew

    Happy Solstice to you too, John! That Egyptian ritual sounds fun!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/ John Beckett

      Thanks, Treeshrew. It was fun, although it’s one of the more serious rituals we do on a regular basis. I’ll have more to say about it later in the week. Something totally different has taken over the post I’m working on for tonight.


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