A Midsummer Ritual 2014

I’ve always found Midsummer to work better as an idea than as a ritual. The longest day and shortest night almost lends its self more towards a simple celebration than an involved ritual. Indeed, many of my Summer Solstices have been spent at Pagan Gatherings that have lacked a specific Midsummer rite. This year I wanted to be sure and put together a traditional ritual and use it to express the parts of Midsummer that most tantalize my imagination: the Sun and the Fey.

Inspired by my Ancient Nature of Midsummer article last week I wanted to work a Solar Wheel into my solstice rite. It doesn’t show up in the form expressed in the article, but at least it’s there. The part about the Fey was a bit more problematic. I’m not what one would call a traditional believer in fairies, though I do think there are beings and entities that exist at the borders of our perception. In that sense I’m a believer in The Fey, but they aren’t an essential part of my practice. (I don’t think one must believe in the Fey to be a Pagan or Witch.)

I’m also hesitant to call genuinely sentient beings to watch parts of my circle. I call the gods because I have a relationship with them and honestly feel as if they want to be there. I’m not sure that the salamanders of the south are going to show up just because I ask one night a year. I included “Fey Quarter Calls” in this ritual just for those looking for (or with an interest in) such a thing, but that doesn’t mean I’m necessarily going to be using them myself. Instead, and this ended up being an idea first suggested by my wife, we are going to invite them to bless certain things for our ritual and then use those items in our rite. Hopefully we’ll get their magic that way, and then if they do want to show up they will be welcome to, but I’d never “demand” the presence of another sentient being. (I wrote this introduction before figuring out exactly how I was going to call the Fey, so satisfied with my writing I might now very well call them, he said smugly.)

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of the Fey, and the pictures being used here to illustrate this ritual reflect how I want Midsummer to be in many ways. I’ll be outside the night of the solstice trying to catch a glimpse of whatever’s there. If the Fairy Folk are going to show themselves to me I have a feeling it will be on the longest day and shortest night of the year. Instead of calling the Fey to the ritual by type of being, I call them by element and association. In my mind I associate the classic fairy with East, salamanders with the South, undines the West, and earthy fey like brownies with North, but that’s just me. Instead of hoisting my rather classic associations on everyone else I went very general. I also made all of my calls haikus just for fun (and since they are short, they are pretty easy to write!).

The circle casting in this ritual is a little different than normal for me, but I like to experiment from time to time. Midsummer always put me in a good mood. It’s the height of Summer, it’s the blessings of the Lord and Lady . . . I love the Summer and cherish the memories it’s given me over the years. Happy Solstice!

Materials Needed:
Grape Vine
Sweet Spring Water (I’ll be adding a little bit of sugar to this)
A dedicated candle
Smudge Stick
Glass Beads
Sweets (gifts for the Fey)
Fire (either in a cauldron indoors or a fire pit)

Before the Ritual Starts
This ritual calls for the blessings of the Fairy Folk and calls for various items (water, candle, smudge, glass beads) to be blessed by them. To receive the blessings of the Fey we will be setting all of these items in our Fairy Garden, a little space in our backyard dedicated to the others who walk this world with us. You don’t have to dedicate a permanent spot in your house to the Fey, just a few gifts in a private spot in/on your yard/patio/deck/porch should do the trick. After leaving the water, candle, smudge, and beads outside for a night bring them back inside to use in the ritual. Be sure to leave some of the glass beads out for the Fey, they like shiny things.

Purification
Everyone prepares for ritual differently. In my circle we perform a ceremonial hand-washing. Some groups prefer to use incense, smudge, salted water, etc etc. I could share exactly what I do here but then I’d have to swear you to secrecy, and that sounds like too much work.

Opening Meditation/Chant
It’s important to get yourself in the right head space for ritual. Some groups like to use a guided meditation “your feet are the like the roots of a tree . . .” others chant and sing. It probably depends on how good the singing is in your particular group.

Statement of Intent
High Priestess: “We gather tonight to celebrate the longest day and shortest night. The Sun shines down upon us in its full crowning glory. It’s light, life giving and purifying. At the Summer Solstice we celebrate not just the Sun, but the fey and other unseen who share this world with us. This evening we seek the blessings of both as we observe the Summer Solstice. Now let your heart and be light and your spirit filled with joy as we revel in the joys of Midsummer!”

Casting the Circle
“Our circle of power is a meeting place of love and joy and truth and a shield against all that is wicked and evil. With flower petals of red I create this circle in the world of mortals. With flower petals of blue I open the entry way to the realm of spirit. With flower petals of yellow I open the doorway to the realms of the Mighty Ones. With flower petals of green I welcome those unseen who come in good faith. I now bless and consecrate thee in the names of the Lord and Lady. The circle is cast, so mote it be!”

(In a complete reversal of how I normally do things this ritual uses flower petals to cast the circle. The petals should be sprinkled around the circle while the circle caster also projects energy out of themselves.)

Calling the Fey*
High Priestess: “We now call to those seen and unseen, the Fey who would willingly join us in our rite.”

East
“Fair folk of the East
Keepers of breeze, wind, and air
You are welcome here!”

South
“Fair folk of the South
Keepers of flame and passion
You are welcome here!”

West
“Fair folk of the West
Keepers of rain and ocean
You are welcome here!”

North
“Fair folk of the North
Keepers of mountain and plane
You are welcome here!”

High Priest: “Honor to you good folk for being a part of our Midsummer Rite! Merry Meet!”

Calling the God
“We call to the Great God this night of longest day. Join us as the Sun, fiery Lord of the Heavens who blesses our land with the sunshine that makes our world grow! Join us as the Creator who joins with the Great Mother to bring forth new life! May your purifying light and fire bless us this night and drive away all that is negative in our lives. Be a part of our rites as you are a part of our lives! Hail and Welcome!”

The Charge of the God
There are many Charges of the God out there on the internet. Not surprisingly, my group uses the one I wrote.

Calling the Goddess
“We call to the Great Goddess this day of shortest night. Join us as the Moon, cool orb of the night-time sky who lights our way and adds to our magics! Join us as the Great Mother who brings forth new life from the eternal womb! It’s your touch that that makes the blossoms bloom and the crops ripen with grain! May that same touch reach us this night to drive away any sorrow and sadness that doesn’t contribute to our lives. Be a part of our rites this night as we celebrate the your gifts of love and summertime! Hail and Welcome!”

The Charge of the Goddess
There are many versions of the Charge of the Goddess, but only one that’s familiar to most everyone of the Wiccan persuasion. My circle uses Valiente’s version, with some minor changes.

The Solar Wheel & The Bonfire
High Priest: “The Sun has always been seen as a source of truth and justice. The first people to hear the call of the gods used to make all oaths towards the Sun and ask for his (or her) or blessing in keeping the promise true. From its perch in the sky the sun sees all things. For millennia upon end the Sun has been visualized as The Solar Wheel. Long after the New Religion seeped into every nook and cranny of the old Pagan World people continued to honor the Sun upon Midsummer in the form of the Solar Wheel.”

High Priestess: “Wheels were made and then lit on fire and hurled down mountains and hills. If the wheel made it to the end of its journey without falling down the harvest was guaranteed to be a good and strong one. The wheel falling was a bad omen, but as luck would have it, that happened only rarely. Tonight we won’t release a wheel down a hill, but we will make our own Sun Wheels and then light them on fire. We will put all that’s negative and destructive in our lives into our wheels and then light them on fire, releasing that negativity from our lives. Nothing positive and bright can live in the cleansing fires of Midsummer!”

(We are going to be using grape vine to make our wheels, and we will be making them small. You can make a Solar Wheel out of dried vine pretty easily. Bend the vines to form a tight circle would around two or three times and then tuck the ends into the back. Two short pieces of vine can then be used to make the cross in the middle, tucking the two pieces of vine into the circle. I write religion stuff if you need art instructions I’m probably not the one to help you. When everyone is finished making their wheel proceed with the ritual.)

High Priest: “Now that your Solar Wheel has been constructed, let us pour what is negative and holds us back inside of it. Push all of that ‘bad’ into it. Fill it up, and then fill it up some more. As you do so, know that the Sun will take all of it back and rid the world of that energy on Midsummer! When you feel as if you are ready come forward and throw your Wheel into our Cauldron of Sunshine and Midsummer Fire!”

(When I first began envisioning this ritual I imagined us burning these tiny wheels in a cast-iron cauldron on our altar. I’m guessing my wife won’t let me do that so we’ll be burning them in our mobile fire-pit outside. To do that I’ll add some flowery words like “Now follow me as if we venture out towards our Midsummer fire and cast our wheels out upon it!” and then open up our circle and march everyone outside. Once outside I might have everyone at the ritual say what they are casting out of themselves, our words create things and are magical in their own ways, before leading them back inside. If my neighborhood was a little more private I’d just do the whole ritual outside, but alas, we will be in our Temple Room like good EpiscoPagans. In order to speed up the ritual you could also make all the little solar crosses before the rite starts and then hand them out.)

The Blessings of the Fey
High Priestess: “We do not walk this world alone. The Earth is full of others, beings who think and live much as we do but exist just outside of our ordinary understanding. In olden days it was said that if one wished to visit the realms of the Fairy Folk, the Fey, all they had to do was walk around a Fairy Hill three times, stopping to knock the third time. That would open a door into their world, a space full of magic where time moves much differently than in our own reality.”

High Priest: “Tonight we don’t seek to visit the realm of the Fey, but we do seek their blessings. Midsummer provides an opportunity for us to acknowledge those who live besides us and thank them for sharing this world with us. It’s also a chance to ask for their blessings and perhaps a touch of their magic in our own lives.”

High Priestess: “We put these items into our Fairy Garden last night and asked the Fey to bless them. We also gave them gifts of sweets and honey as a gesture of thanks and gratitude. We hope that with the magic of the Fairy Folk that the items we use in this cleansing will keep you safe and trouble free as the sun begins to wane once more.”

High Priest: “For centuries people have blessed their crops and livestock with smoke. Lit torches were run through the field, the purifying heat and smoke ensuring the crops against blight, and the people against hunger. Tonight we cleanse ourselves with the sacred smoke, blessed by the Fey, to keep us safe from harm this Summer and Autumn. As the sage-smoke surrounds you feel it cleansing you, but also protecting you, forming a shield around you. As you breathe the smoke inside your lungs let its scent fill you up inside. Feel the magic of the others, feel the protective power of the smoke, and in your mind’s eye use this opportunity to connect with those Pagans and Witches who came before us.”

(Everyone in the circle is blessed and cleansed. The sage should be lit from a candle blessed in the Fairy Garden. In our circle I’ll be the High Priest doing the cleansing as my wife is sensitive to smoke.)

High Priestess: “Even while free from harm the fields and the folk cannot exist without water and earth. These glass beads were left to the Fey along with this sweet spring water. One by one I add the blessings of the Fairy Folk to our water. May their magics mix with those of Earth and Rain. (Glass beads are added to the water, perhaps mixed with the athame.) May the magic of the Fairy Folk upon this night of Midsummer bless our lives with enchantment and wonder and allow us to glimpse their world when the veils are thin and the time is right. So mote it be!”

(The enchanted water is then sprinkled upon everyone in the circle. At our ritual my wife will be doing the sprinkling.)

The Great Rite
High Priest: “Life is more than a gift, it is a promise. All that dies shall be reborn.”

High Priestess: “We now celebrate the most ancient of magics, the magic of joining.”

High Priest: “The athame is to the Lord.”

High Priestess: “As the cup is the Lady.”

Both: “United in life and abundance. Blessed Be!”

(Athame is plunged into the chalice.)

Blessing the Cakes & Ale
High Priest: “In the names of the Lord and Lady we bless this bread.”

(Touches athame to either the bread or the plate it is being served upon.)

High Priestess: “In the names of the Lord and Lady we bless this drink.”

(Touches athame to the top of the cup. The drink is then passed around first with the bread following. As the wine is passed the words “May you never thirst” are said upon receiving the chalice. When being passed the bread or cakes the wish of “May you never hunger” should be shared with those receiving the cakes.)

Goodbyes to the Lord & Lady
High Priest: “We thank the Great God for being with us this night. As you sink now beneath the trees and hills we thank you for your presence in our lives. As you set upon this enchanted night take away those things we burned in the sacred Midsummer fire. Our Solstice Celebration is near its end, but you walk with us both within and without the circle. Hail the God! Hail the Sun! Hail the Summer! Blessed Be.”

High Priestess: “We thank the Great Goddess for being with us for our Midsummer Rite. You are the Mother of us all, human and fey, and as your children we honor you on this the shortest of nights. May the blessings we have received tonight be a continual reminder of your love, care, and concern for all of us. Our Solstice Celebration is near its end, but you walk with us both within and without the circle. Hail the Lady! Hail the Moon! Hail the Summer! Blessed Be.”

Goodbye to the Fey
High Priestess: “We now wish farewell to those seen and unseen who have blessed our rites.”

North:
“From the North you came
Fey of Earth, soil and mountain
Thanks for your blessings.”

West
“From the West you came
Fey of Water, sea and spring
Thanks for your blessings.”

South
“From the South you came
Fey of Fire, stirrers of souls
Thanks for your blessings.”

East:
“From the East you came
Fey of Air, breeze and whisper
Thanks for your blessings.”

High Priest: “Honor and thanks to you Good Folk for being a part of our Midsummer Rite! Merry Part!”

Taking Down the Circle
“This circle has served as a meeting place for those with love and joy in their hearts and against all that is wicked and evil. I now pick up a green flower petal and say goodbye to those unseen who have visited us in good faith. I now pick up this flower petal of yellow and thereby close the doorway to the realms of the Mighty Ones. By picking up this petal of blue I seal the entryway from spirit. Finally I pick up this petal of red to bring me back from between the realms. All will now be as it once was, and what was once here has been dismissed in the names of the Lord and the Lady. So mote it be!”

Closing Statement
High Priestess: “The time of waning is now at hand, the days grow shorter, but the Summer is just beginning. With the blessings of the Lord and Lady and those seen and unseen we leave this place with joy and full hearts. Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again! And may the gods preserve The Craft!”

~FINS~

*When I do this ritual will I be calling the Fey as described here? Heck no, I’m not nearly brave enough to call sentient beings like the Fey to watch my circle. Sure, I’ll invite them, but I’ll be calling the Watchtowers like I normally do in ritual. One of the great things about the rituals I write is that it’s very easy to “cut and paste” the various elements that make up a rite.

About Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey has been involved with Paganism for the last twenty years, and has spent the last ten of those years as a speaker, writer, and High Priest. Jason can often be found lecturing on the Pagan Festival circuit, so you might just bump into him. When not reading and researching Pagan history he likes to crank up the Led Zeppelin, do rituals in honor of Jim Morrison (of The Doors), and sing numerous praises to Pan, Dionysus, and Aphrodite. He lives in Sunnyvale CA with his wife Ari and two hyper-kinetic cats.


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