The end of May officially begins the Summer Season in the United States, and the promise of long days and copious amounts of sunshine has me thinking about all the things I enjoy this time of year. If you are looking for some Pagan things to do this Summer and a few ways to connect (or reconnect) with your spirituality here are a few ideas. Happy Summertime!
One of the simplest ways to celebrate the Earth is by growing things in your own backyard (or in a container outside of your apartment). “Gardening” can seem a bit daunting, but even the most ungreen thumb can probably keep a tomato plant alive for a couple of months. There’s no need to grow straight from seed either, almost every hardware store (or better yet a real nursery!) sells plants ready to be put into the ground or in a container.
Nothing makes me feel more Pagan in the Summertime than working in my garden. It’s meditative, relaxing, and provides a real sense of accomplishment. This year I’m growing a variety of tomatoes and peppers along with the usual sunflowers and pumpkins and to watch my plants grown and thrive is always exciting. I just had two sunflower seedlings pop up through the ground (from seeds harvested by last year’s flowers!) and my tomato plants are looking more and more robust each day.
There’s also the sheer joy of eating something that you’ve grown yourself, and knowing exactly where your food came from. After four years my little cherry tree has finally produced some fruit and the cherries are amazing! There’s nothing like plucking fruit directly from a tree and eating it right then and there. (I’m so excited about this particular tree producing fruit!)
Gardening can be a good investment too. A two dollar tomato plant will pay for its self on the first harvest. And I’m already salivating over just how many habanero peppers I’m going to have this year and how I’m going to use them in the kitchen. One doesn’t need a yard to garden either, just a plant or two in a pot results in all sorts of rewards.
Go For a Hike
Paganism is not Facebook or the blogosphere, it’s something experienced in ritual spaces and in the wilds of nature. No matter where one lives there are always public parks near by, and urban hiking can offer its own rewards too. “Going for a hike” doesn’t have to mean driving two hours to get outside of town, if there are trees, a path, or a sidewalk, it’s a hike!
I live in one of the most populated areas in the United States, and yet there are several quality hiking spots within just a few miles of my house. There’s something extra special about being surrounded by a grove of trees and being hundreds of miles away from civilization, but I can experience nature anywhere life is bubbling up through the cracks in the concrete. (There’s something powerful about observing the tenacity of living things in the urban jungle.) If there’s sun light on my face I’m experiencing the divine.
Concerts are often crazy expensive these days, but there are plenty of musical options out there if one knows where to look. Local bands often perform in public parks throughout the Summer and many cities offer free or inexpensive musical festivals. Don’t think the free Jazzfest in your town sounds appealing? Give it a go anyways, you’ll probably end up surprised.
Music has the power to take us to other worlds and shift our consciousness. Those are “Pagan things” in my mind, and when I can get away, lay on a blanket, and let music overwhelm me I feel closer to my gods. I’ve had some extremely powerful magickal experiences on “the lawn” of several outdoor amphitheaters, and I’m eager to get back to experience more.
My coven has been leaving libations near the lemon tree in my backyard for years now. There’s something that just feels “sacred” about that spot, and much of that is due to the presence of the fey. If the fey live in my backyard, and I think they do, it’s near that lemon tree!
We’ve never built them a proper house (and I’m not sure they need one), but we do pay them homage at their gathering spot. We leave them gifts and treats, and are sure to thank them for keeping the yard we share in good shape. Gifts to the fey can be elaborate or simple, as long as they are heartfelt I believe they are appreciated.
Go to a Festival, Gathering, or Open Ritual
How many Pagan festivals exist in the United States and Canada? Probably hundreds, and while I try, there’s no way I can possibly list them all. Outdoor gatherings range from week along affairs to just a weekend. And if you can’t go to a proper festival, there are all sorts of one day events in most places. You can visit your local open circle, or just go to a local workshop or coffee night. The point is just to get out of the house and meet other Pagan-types.
And why meet other Pagan types? I generally find it enjoyable, but it’s more than that. Our differences are always so much less when we step away from our keyboards and meet others face to face. When I meet other Pagans it’s a growth opportunity for me. I’m exposed to new ideas or new ways of doing ritual and that’s how our Craft(s) progresses. You also just might meet that best friend you didn’t know you had.
Many of us live our Paganism through the causes and issues we hold dear, and volunteering is a great way to help to connect with those things. Volunteer opportunities can range from the overly political to simply sharing a few hours of one’s time every week at the local library. There are also numerous “one off” chances to make a difference, such as local clean ups for parks or streams.
And “Volunteering” does not have to be an organized activity either. Simply walking around your neighborhood and picking up litter is a good example, or helping a neighbor next door. I think service can certainly be a part of Paganism, and I know I feel better about my beliefs and practices when I’m making a difference in my local community.
For me this goes back to my garden a little bit (I can’t help but get excited thinking about all the salsa I’ll be making with the tomatoes and peppers growing in my garden) but cooking as a spiritual pursuit is about more than preparing what you’ve grown. For many people baking and cooking are ways they show their appreciation of their community and to the deities they honor. Baking a loaf of bread and seeing some of it go into the libation bowl as a gift to the gods is a magickal thing.
Summertime is an especially strong time for sacred cooking. Sabbats such as Lammas are nearly built around the idea of the first harvest and the baking of bread. Summer is also associated with cookouts and other social opportunities that revolve around food. Also, don’t forget that food is transformative! A particular smell or taste can transport us backwards in time and help us reconnect with a memory or even a departed loved one, and seasonal foods connect us to the hear and now in a way few other things can.
Art & Craft Fairs
The amount of “Pagan things” I’ve discovered over the years at local art and craft fairs is staggering. My wife and I’s favorite chalices all came from under a pop-up pavilion at a local art fair. As did our favorite Witching-only-broom, several statues, some candles, and a whole lot of ritual jewelry. We make a point of visiting local events just to take in how Pagan so much of it is!
But there’s more to it than that. Items from a craft fair are generally hand made, and we believe it’s important to support local artisans. Yes, buying that chalice made in China off of Amazon is easy to do, but the ceramic chalice made by a local artist is far more satisfying in the long run. When we shop local we help our communities, and often our friends. Give me something made with care and concern over something from an assembly line every day of the week!