I know this particular Sabbat always sneaks up on me, but after losing two months of my life in hospital the longest day has appeared even faster than it usually does. I haven’t done much to celebrate this year, despite the fact that being signed off from work means I’ve had time to plan, organise, and arrange something. Partly due to the sneakiness, but mostly to do with the heat and trying to get other stuff done. Oh, and partly procrastination – lying on the sofa reading a new book is very time-absorbing. Although it does deal with the conflict between Summer and Winter and is set around Midsummer’s Day, so I can at least claim that Summer Knight is relevant reading.
I’ve just finished my ritual celebrations, somewhat late in the day I know, but although it’s dark now there was still daylight in the sky when I began. I say ritual, but there was very little to it. As ever, what I did was based on the Pagan Dreams Litha celebration kit but a much abridged version because a) tired b) hot. My bedroom’s quite large, but when you’ve got nine candles on the go in weather like this you want to spend as little time sitting next to them as possible. I didn’t rush through things or cut corners, I just did less in circle than I would have done otherwise. I lit my altar and Deity candles, cast circle as usual, lit the quarter candles and the greyish votive I poured for my Imbolc ritual, read the poem on the ritual sheet, captured the last of the daylight in the citrine, listened to the guided meditation, and then shut everything down. No incense, salt, water, herbs, or anything. Not great, but it’s the longest I’ve concentrated on anything spiritual since getting ill in April so I’m quite proud of that. Ok, yes, I’ve been to church since then as well, but it’s a lot easier to concentrate in the morning and when the heat isn’t draped over you like a slightly damp blanket. I was getting quite good at visualisation before I hit A&E, but I am sorely out of practice now making the meditation twice as hard to do, as I couldn’t close my eyes during it either. I say couldn’t, I could have, but I wasn’t going to with that many candles lit. The votives and tealights in their holders probably would have been fine, but there was no way I was going to be able to shut my eyes for twenty-five minutes with two lit taper candles.
I don’t feel too bad about it though, as it was lovely to be able to sit at my altar again and I’d kinda done most of my celebrating earlier in the day. The past week or so we’ve had really hot weather (for the UK) with temperatures in the high twenties/low thirties. Now I am not good with the heat – I blame the fact I was born on the Winter Solstice – and whenever it gets really hot it also gets humid. If it was a dry heat I might feel better, but when it’s muggy like this you just feel sweaty all the time, even when you haven’t been doing anything strenuous. It’s just unpleasant. However, the weather isn’t allowed to get in the way of my convalescence so this afternoon my parents and I went for a walk with my godfather. He lives near the Thames at Windsor, and the heat was still very noticeable, but easier to bear by the river where we were walking. There were also a lot of trees shading the path, so in between the shade and dappled shade which cooled me off I was able to bask in the sunny patches as I walked through them, feeling the heat of the Solstice sun soaking into my skin and enjoying being out in it before the nights start closing in. Granted, we’re (hopefully) going to get a lot more hot and sunny (but preferably slightly less hot) weather over the next couple of months, but there is something in the knowledge that this is where the dark half of the year begins that makes me appreciate the sun that little bit more.
There were also loads of dragonflies darting all over the place and landing on the grass and plants either side of the path. The ones I saw most commonly were about an inch and a half long, and a gorgeous deep electric blue. They were even flitting about the graveyard we walked through on our loop back to my godfather’s house, which was quite a way from the river. Dragonflies are one of the animals associated with Freyja, and seeing so many of them (roughly one every ten to twenty paces) made me feel closer to Her. Walking through the cemetery also gave me the chance to say my prayers for the dead which brought back memories of the last site I was on – the area I was on before I got ill was full of skeles so I was saying dead prayers every day, and the weather was warm and sunny then as well. That period of time was an enjoyable one, and I still miss being around the guys in my work team and my housemates. I made some good friends on that site. All in all, a very enjoyable Solstice day.