Saturday, June 28, 2014

Happy Solstice! - About Samradh June 21

A Bit About Samradh

Samradh (Summer Solstice) is the longest DAY of the year
and is opposite Cuidle (Yule) on the Wheel of the Year.
Oakmist Grove carries on traditions of our ancestors on this day.
We meet early afternoon, and celebrate with ritual and food.

Today, the Father and Son fight!
The Old God receives a mortal wound.
But he is not yet dead.
It is one of the beautiful Mysteries of our Craft.

This is a pivoting point on the Wheel.
 Light is given over to Darkness.
 From this point on, the daylight wanes,
as the Goddess follows the God,
and they begin their journey to the underworld.

Here is a bit about what we do on Samradh in Oakmist Grove.

We build the bonfire as sympathetic magic,
 to help the descending sun retain its strength so as to return the following year.  
We build it in honor of both the Old and the New God.  
We build it to remind us of their great battle, 
which will take place on the longest day of the year.  
We also build it as a reminder of the passionate mating 
of the God and Goddess on this longest day.  
We build it to remind us of the power and fertility;
of the joining of the God and Goddess.

We jump the fire to burn all dross or negativity from ourselves, 
just as we pass items being consecrated through fire or smoke.  
We do it for protection from fire - 
becoming a friend or acquaintance to the element by becoming one with it, 
even for a split second.  
We also may jump the fire for fertility.

There are several dances we should be doing on this Sabbat and on others.  
The Meeting Dance is an important rite reminding us of, 
among other things, the spiral Dance of our own lives,
 and how one thing becomes another, only to return to it’s origins. 
It reminds us of our Solar System
 and the millions of other systems in our own Universe and beyond.

Reels are important dances.  
These also represent Wheel of the Year.  
In many reels, the lines circle (the wheel), 
partners greet and communicate (God and Goddess), 
flirt and dance up and back together (the Mating Dance, the Marriage), 
cast of and go to the end of the line (Parting of Goddess from the God) 
and the entire dance repeats itself, 
over and over, with a new couple each time, 
just as the Wheel of the Year continues turning, over and over, 
with new characters enacting the rite.  

We light the niedfyre with no artificial tools.  
Either bow-drill, flint and steele, or glass is used.  
On this day, glass is preferred, 
as it is easier and gives way to the feeling of “capturing” the Sun.  
All fires in the village are then lit from this fire, 
all having previously been extinguished.  
We do this to remember the death of the Old Sun and the coming to power of the New Sun. 
Usher out the old, bring in the new.

Each tradition has its own version of the Ritual.  
Oakmist’s version contains elements of the myth,
 including the battle between the Oak King and Holly King,
 the coronation of the new King, 
the love chase, 
consummating the ritual with the urging by the crowd 
for the King the “Seize the staff and claim the Queen!”  

Your own rite should contain some element of “why” you are celebrating. 
If you have no particular rite, 
consider researching your ancestral line and following their rites as closely as possible.  
This may be the key to unlock your own subconscious, 
the connection you need to feel 
in order to celebrate this ancient rite effectively.

Ukranians burning Straw Wheel
Hoops and Wheels. 
Oakmist Covens often burn a “wheel,” 
a wreath of flowers on our Midsummer fire.  
Burning besomes. Smoke. Fire. Dancing. 
Visiting with friends and family. Renewal. Youth. Fertility. 
Preparing your mind for the wake (funeral) to come at Lughnasadh.  
Preparing for the descent of the sun and of the season.  
Mugwort aids clairvoyance and scrying.  Wear it, burn it, smoke it, drink it.  

Colors are yellow, oranges, reds, colors of the Sun.  
Door lintels are decorated with birch boughs, fennel, 
St. John’s wort, and other flowers.  
Many communities hold elections or rotation of officers
 (Although Oakmist passes the Rod at Samhain and Beltaine).  
Red and yellow streamers, ribbons, banners.  
Horns and antlers. Oaken leaves.  
The lion (the God). 
The bee (the Goddess).  

PS.  If you have ever attended a funeral, have you noticed wreaths of flowers placed on the grave?  This is another piece of pagan past.  The flowers, of course, are in hope that this person, now “seed,” will return after a new season.  The flowers are often red or white.  Red is the color of the lifeblood of the Goddess.  White, the color of the God’s sacred sperm.  The wreath shaped in a wheel represents the Wheel of the Year, the eternal Cycle that exists in everything living (or dead). 

Our altar and decorations at Samradh are gold, like the sun!
We use only beeswax candles.
Sunflowers decorate the altar.
The Samradh Rite is always held outdoors.

Our Altar

My group waited this year to do our Samradh (Summer Solstice) Rite until I returned from Europe, and so we celebrated a week later than usual.

They did a wonderful job of completely running the ritual, and I absolutely enjoyed sitting back and doing nothing!

The weather cooperated - Portland weather can be so fickle! We only had one shower, and then the sun came out. It was great! And we got to break in our new fire pit!

It's good to be home.
I'll try to work more on the blog in a few days.
For now, I'm adjusting to the time change.

Happy Solstice, World!

May the sun warm your hearts and bring you strength, love, and good health!

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