It’s hard to believe, but official summer is almost here. The days are long. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, spring flowers are spent and we are seeing summer blooms opening around us; roses and lilies have taken the place of tulips and daffodils. The bright spring green of leaves’ first unfurling is past. Jungle green is all around us now and keeping up with the weeds in the garden is a daily challenge. The land sings a song of growth – of riotous expansion. There’s a churn of creation energy in the air. The birds, beasts and insects we share our world with rush past on urgent errands, making the most of the growing season. It’s almost Litha, Midsommar, the Summer Solstice.
Writing a Ritual
When I set out to write a ritual for Frederick CUUPS, the UU Pagan group I have the pleasure of helping facilitate, I start with digging down to find the ‘kernel’ – the emotional truth at the center of a holiday or rite. Humans love to categorize and subdivide things. We think of the emotional, physical and spiritual realms as separate ‘limbs’ of existence. The thing is, our different ‘bodies’ all feed into one another. They overlap and overlay each other, and what impacts one impacts the other. This tendency to separate our experiences in the world means that we can experience beautifully worded rituals that feel hollow and simple but poignant rituals that are heavy with meaning. As a ritualist, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to balance those areas of ritual focus: framework and resonance, aesthetics and impact.
To find the ‘kernel’ at the center of Litha, I sat with the emotions that rise when I think about the summer solstice. The first one I feel is relief. I’m a big baby about winter. When the temperatures warm, I delight in my ease of movement. The aches and pains cold weather brings out in my body are gone. I also feel joy. I’m a gardener, so the green world returning to vibrant beauty brings me true happiness. Sitting with relief, joy and pleasure, I realized the emotion beneath all of those is gratitude. I am grateful for the sunlight, warmth and birdsong, for the fruits and veggies growing in my garden, for the long walks outdoors that are finally an option again.
Gratitude. My gratitude is to the sun, yes, but I feel it most in relation to the Green Ones – the Land Spirits and their earthly bodies. I talk to the Land Spirits at my house every morning when I’m out watering the beds. I tell them how beautiful they are, how grateful I am for their growth and their blessing in the space we share. I thank them for the bounty of lettuce, snow peas, radishes and other veggies that are taking the place of grocery store purchases. More and more, I find myself deepening into a space of connection to the land itself. And right now? Right now the land is glorious.
This Year’s Litha Ritual
So this year, the Frederick CUUPS Litha Ritual will celebrate and offer gratitude to the Land Spirits around the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick. We plan to make a gift of combined waters from our many homes, infused with our deep appreciation for the Green Ones. I looked for a chant to raise energy with but didn’t find anything I liked. So, I created a new one. If you find it resonant or useful, please feel free to use it.
The land is bright with life and light
Greening power fills our sight
Hail the Spirits, Hail the Earth
Hail the Spirits, Life and Birth
Midsummer offers us the longest day of the year – a golden gift of sunlight and warmth. How will you say thank you this year? How will you deepen into this season of abundance and growth?
I wish you a beautiful, meaningful Summer Solstice. Hail the Spirits. Hail the Earth.