Midsummer Summer Solstice

The summer solstice is celebrated around June 21 and is the longest day and shortest night of the year. The festival of the summer solstice is concerned with both fire and water, as from this point onward, the sun will decline in its power. The symbol of fire represents keeping the sun alive. The water element is used for the ritual blessing of individuals, sacred wells, and springs.

One of the customs of our ancestors was the leaping over or passing through fires. It was believed that the higher they jumped, the higher the crops would grow. As in Beltane, during the summer solstice cattle were driven through fires for purification and fumigation. It was also believed that the fire repelled the powers of evil and would protect the cattle and all who passed through it.

Another symbol used at this time was the wheel. The turning of the wheel suggests the turning, or progression, of the seasons. Our ancestors decorated wheels with flowers and then placed lighted candles on them. These were then taken to a body of water and set afloat. Symbolically, midsummer is the time to nurture your goals or efforts. That which you have been working for should now be within range. Use a floating candle to give you ambition (fire), and emotional control (water) for your goal.

Ritual Tools/ Symbols/ and Decorations

Altar decorations: Bright yellow altar cloth, sunshine yellow altar candles, bouquet of marigolds tied with yellow and green ribbon, wand tied with yellow ribbon, floating candle in a bowl of water, chalice covered with a yellow cloth, red and white wine, sun shaped ritual cakes.

Plants and herbs: Chamomile, chickweed, cinquefoil, dogwood, fennel, lavender, mugwort, St. John's wort, vervain, orange, lemon, verbena, sunflower, marigold, dandelion.

Oil: Mix lemon verbena, orange, and lavender oil together for anointing; place marigold petals in the master bottle.

Food: Oranges, lemons, sunflower seeds, avocado, grilled pork and chicken, baked beans, three bean salad, fruit salad, berry pie, potato salad, cucumber and tomato relish, lemon squares.

Symbols: Wheel tied with colored ribbon, floating candles in bowls of colored water, wands made of oak or hawthorn, birds, horned animals, the chariot; sun talismans made of gold, bonfires, wishing wells, and fountains.

A Ceremony for Midsummer

Light the right altar candle and then the left one, as you say the following:

Right

Lord of the Sun, God of truth and might In your honor, do I this candle light.

Left

Lady of the Moon, Goddess of celestial power I beseech thee to bless me from this hour.

Cast the circle and call in the Guardians. Face the altar and light the floating candle, pick up the bowl with the candle in it, and proceed to the Eastern Quadrant. Address the Eastern Quadrant as you hold the bowl in offering, and then proceed to the next quadrant. Each time hold the bowl in offering as you say the appropriate line:

East

Let now the winds of consciousness bring forth insight and wisdom.

South

Let now the fires of azvareness bring forth motivation and inspiration.

West

Let nozv the waves of completeness bring forth love and understanding.

North

Let now the blossoming, fertile earth bring forth the manifestation of desire.

Place the bowl back on the altar. Turn, face the Southern Quadrant, and say:

To the great Lord of the Sun My gratitude I do show.

As in life and spirit

I work to progress and grow.

I thank you, father of light

By each and every work and deed.

That all I have and shall receive

Is all that I shall ever want or need.

Now, turn and face the altar and do the Invocation of the God and the Invocation of the Goddess. Take a moment to meditate on the meaning of the ritual and season. At this point you will want to energize the floating candle with your own wishes. Place your hands over the candle, express your desire, and then chant the following.

Sun and flame

Bring joy and gain.

Pause, then bless the wine and bread through the Rite of Union and the Blessing of the Bread ceremony. Begin the closing segment of the rite by offering this blessing:

Within my heart is devoted feeling Vainly should my lips express.

I come before your altar kneeling

And pray this time and place you bless.

Dismiss the Guardians, and extinguish the altar candles, beginning with the left:

Left

Lady of the Moon, goddess of celestial power I bid thee bless and protect me from this hour.

Right

Lord of the Sun, god of truth and might Guide and guard me as I go into the night.

Take up the circle and allow the floating candle to burn out.

Lughnasadh: Lammas

The festival of Lughnasadh (Celtic), or Lammas (Christian), is held on August 1. The word Lughnasadh is associated with the god Lugh, and the festival was held to commemorate his marriage. Lammas is derived from the Old English Mafmoesse, meaning "loaf-mass," and was held in celebration of the first loaves baked from the first grain harvested. The loaves were taken to the local church, where they were blessed by priests. The loaves were then distributed among the congregation. Observing this festival ensured an abundance of fruit and grain for the months to come. The first fruit picked or sheaf cut was considered to be sacred to the Old Gods, and was therefore treated in a special manner.

Corn and grain are the predominant features of rituals at this time because they symbolize the fertility of the earth, the awakening of life, and life coming from death. The golden ears of corn are seen as the offspring of the marriage of the sun and virgin earth. Corn and wine, like bread and wine, represent humankind's labor and ability to sustain life.

Wine- and candle- making were also important features of this time of year, along with preserving food and making other preparations for winter. Other customs include decorating water wells with vines and the blessing of food.

Lughnasadh is the first harvest, when the first sign of the rewards of your labors should be evident. Now is the time to continue working toward your goal, knowing it will be realized. Bring fresh corn to your circle for blessing. This will help reinforce your desire to achieve your goal.

Ritual Tools, Symbols, and Decorations

Altar decorations: Gold or yellow altar cloth, gold altar candles, four ears of corn, each tied with a yellow and orange ribbon, small basket of fruit, gold colored pillar candle, chalice covered with a yellow cloth, red and white wine, corn bread, or ritual cakes.

Plants and herbs: Corn, barley, wheat, rye, fenugreek, frankincense, oats, sunflower, oak, hollyhock, heather, lilac.

Oil: Mix lilac oil with a small amount of corn oil for anointing.

Food: Corn bread, corn on the cob, freshly baked wheat or rye bread, grilled chicken and beef, roast pork, fruit salad, mixed green salad with sprouts and sunflower seeds, baked beans, bread pudding, fresh green beans, peas, and wild rice.

Symbols: Corn; the pentacle; bread and all baked goods; the hearth, broom, and things connected with the home; baskets filled with corn and fresh vegetables; baskets of baked goods tied with gold ribbons; dried corn husks for making corn dolls.

A Ceremony for Lughnasadh

Light the right altar candle and then the left one, as you say the following:

Right

My Lord is the passion He brings forth the light The harvest is of his seed.

Left

My Lady is the power She brings forth the life The harvest is her reward.

Cast the circle and call in the Guardians. Face the altar and speak the following blessing:

My lady, I know that naught receives naught, That I shall reap that which I have sowed. On this night, shall I receive accordingly, Fort nothing is withheld from those deserving. Blessed shall be the Goddess, And blessed shall be the fruits of my labor.

Pick up the four ears of corn. Hold them in offering and ask the following blessing on them:

Corn and grain are of this earth,

With love and work I gave them birth. Though they were once just small seeds,

Through them I achieved my wishes and needs.

Hold the corn in offering and then place one ear of corn at each of the four quadrants, chanting:

As the corn, I am reborn.

Offer the corn to the East, and place it next to the eastern quadrant candle. Then proceed to the South, continuing to chant the above ("As the corn, I am reborn"). Do the same for the West and the North. Then return to the altar.

Say the following blessing and light the gold pillar candle:

My Lord and Lady you shall provide Long after all has withered and died.

Though you have given me life through the land

What I now hold is the work of my hand. I shall always remember, just as the corn,

Th.at I am ever living, dying, and reborn.

As the corn, I am reborn!

Place the candle in the center of the altar on the pen-tacle, and do the Invocation of the God and the Invocation of the Goddess. Take a moment to meditate on the meaning of the ritual and season. At this point you will want to energize the candle with your own wishes. Place your hands over the candle, express your desire, and then chant the following.

Corn and grain

Bring joy and gain!

Pause, then bless the wine and bread through the Rite of Union and the Blessing of the Bread ceremony. Begin the closing segment of the rite by offering this blessing:

Within my heart is devoted feeling Vainly should my lips express.

I come before your altar kneeling

And pray this time and place you bless.

Dismiss the Guardians and extinguish the altar candles, beginning with the left:

Left

Blessed be the maiden, mother, and crone Bring me blessings from your harvest home.

Right

Blessed be the king of corn and grain

As now the season of abundance begins to wane.

Take up the circle and allow the gold candle to burn out. Hang the ears of corn to dry. When the ears of corn have completely dried, save them to make your Corn-baba, a doll made from dried corn husks used during the autumnal equinox celebration.

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