Pagans seem overly fond of Autumn and Spring. Ask the average Witch what their favorite sabbat is and you’ll most often hear “Samhain.”* Your local eclectic Pagan group is likely to have higher attendance at Beltane, Yule, and Samhain than at Midsummer and Lammas combined. I don’t think Pagans hate the Summer, but it often seems like we aren’t excited about it.
I’ll admit that the Summer sabbats are often afterthoughts in my covens (did we even celebrate Midsummer this year?), mostly due to travel and vacationing coveners, but also because I just don’t get as excited about them as I do the other six. But that doesn’t mean I take a break from being Pagan in the Summer, just the opposite, in many ways the Summer is the most Pagan time of year in my house.
Just Being Outside
I’m still not sure if I practice a nature religion, but my experience as a Pagan is certainly nature centered. I love the wild spaces and have a great deal of love, respect, and awe, for the natural world. And there’s no better time to be outside than the Summertime.
Yeah, it’s hot, yeah you might get a sunburn, and what’s up with all these mosquitos? But despite these challenges the Summer is made for being outdoors. Whether it’s enjoying a bonfire with friends or going for a walk on the beach (or by a lake or river), there’s plenty to see and do outside in the Summertime. I realize that in the era of air conditioning going outside into nature takes many people away from their comfort zone, but it’s generally worth it.
Trips outdoors don’t have to be all that involved either. Simply walking around the neighborhood is often more than enough. As long as there’s grass, bushes, trees, and weeds there’s a natural world out there waiting to be explored.
Meet Other Pagans
Summer is Pagan festival season! You don’t have to visit a bunch of Pagan festivals to make this count, simply visiting something near by is more than enough. Why go to a Pagan festival? To meet other Pagans of course!
When we meet face to face we build our communities (both in the waking world and online), share our practice, and often become better Pagans. Back in the days before blogs and Twitter Pagan festivals were the Pagan internet, it’s where we shared ideas, rituals, and chants! Many of those things are best done in person than on a blog or in a book!
Jason, Jason, How Does Your Garden Grow?
I say nice things about gardens big and small on this blog with some frequency, and that’s because I think they are important. There’s something especially Pagan about growing one’s own food, even if that tomato ended up costing ten bucks. But more than the satisfaction that comes from eating a habanero pepper grown in one’s backyard, a garden is the yearly cycle of life/death/life in microcosm.
We pay a lot of lip-service to agricultural cycles in rituals, why not actually participate in one? For some people gardening sounds impossible, but all it takes is a pot of dirt and a seed. You don’t need a big plot of land, all you need is a window with some sun, a porch, or a deck. It’s easier than many people think it is.
Reading has been a part of my Summer experience since the first grade when I participated in a reading challenge at my local library. Since then I’ve continued to read a copious amount of books in the Summer sun. Today I’m just as likely to read some books on my phone as I am to flip pages, but the joy of reading remains.
Some of my fondest Summer memories involve sitting under a tree or curled up in a chair in my backyard reading a book. (I haven’t had a good front porch in several years, sniff sniff.) And reading is glorious no matter the subject. Pagans like to learn shit, and Pagans enjoy escaping to other worlds, no matter what you read you’ll most likely do one of these things.
All Acts of Love & Pleasure Are My Rituals
Perhaps my favorite line in The Charge of the Goddess is “all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.” Summer can be an extremely pleasurable time, and those pleasures are worthy of Pagan celebration. Whether it’s food, drink, sex, sleep, music, or something else entirely, those little things you are going to do anyways are perfect for indulging your inner Pagan.
Your backyard barbecue may not feel like a Pagan event, but it can be one! Sharing your supper with your favorite deities or the spirits that inhabit your backyard is basically a ritual. If our relationships with higher powers are reciprocal, then the giving of offerings is vital. Even if you aren’t an offering kind of person, eating is simply a pleasurable experience and the perfect opportunity to say “thank you” to the earth and whatever else you choose.
For my wife’s birthday this year we visited a few wineries and while there strengthened our ties to Dionysus. It wasn’t just the wine, it was the views of mountains, grape fields, and getting caught up in the yearly cycle of birth and death. We also shared our wine adventure with a few friends, and you know what they say about wine shared . . “wine shared is life shared.” Sharing food and drink is a great way to forge bonds between people.
Concerts today are often overpriced and a pain in the ass to go to, but I still try and hit and at least one outdoor show a year. Music indulges the senses and is most certainly transformative. Sounds magickal to me! It doesn’t have to be a Pagan band either, as long as the music speaks to you, it’s magickal.
Many of us end up with a little extra leisure time in the Summer, and I often use it to sleep in. There is truth in our dreams, so why not spend some time getting a little extra dreaming in? It’s also a place to commune with the gods on occasion. After waking up from that extended shuteye, a little love making is another way to indulge your inner Pagan. Our deities (generally) enjoy sex and want us to be happy, so why not scream “Oh Pan” and “Oh Aphrodite” a couple of times this Summer?
*”But my favorite sabbat is Midsummer/Lammas.” That’s great, you aren’t in the majority. I’m not saying everyone likes Samhain or Beltane best.