I resisted the temptation to volunteer to lead a Baltic Summer Solstice, not knowing how new grove members would feel about me stepping in and instead suggested what seemed like a simple solution: going with an A-cultural/Pan-Indo-European rite honoring the Sun/Indo-European Solar deities, giving everyone’s culture equal time and the chance to come together in a sort of grove unity rite. They liked the idea and Koronis, the GO told Sunny and I to run with it. Sunny was a bit stressed after having led Beltane and let me take the reigns on liturgy but offered to lead the planning meeting locally and let us have the rite on her land. I was thrilled to be planning a ritual again and she was happy to have the new/old energy as the Grove was pretty bummed about the recent departure. And we were both very excited to meet each other. Our time in the grove did not overlap, but we have been FB friends for a year or two and our boys are around the same age and both love Tinker Bell. We also talked about making the rite child inclusive, though that didn't pan out so well this time.
So I typed up an outline, some historic background, some suggested songs and posed a few questions giving the local grove members I chance to make some of the liturgical decisions. Well due to life (family illness, technology issues) planning and communication weren’t the most solid, and of course my “simple” solution became more complex, but we all pulled through. The weather hit us with another curve, it was absolutely pouring down rain for several hours leading right up to ritual time. Visibility was so bad I missed the turn for route 45 twice. We were planning on having the rite down near the pond and found a spot that might not be so bad under the trees but when Koronis arrived she suggested we hold it under the car port (which is not as bad as it sounds, it had wooden posts and they were able to build up a nice raised fire). When we went off for our individual grounding and centering I regretted this decision as it was beautiful out in the open air, but it would have set us back at least a half an hour moving everything so I went with the flow. There were a number of other pre-ritual stresses and decisions to make, but I’m rambling too much as it is.
Anywho we gathered together and after Jerry treated firmly with the Outdwellers, Koronis led us in a beautiful Solstice themed Two Powers meditation and attuned us very well to the day, the space and each other. We then processed to the space singing Come We Now as a People, where Sunny asperged us with water blessed by the Midsummer dew, the light of the Solstice Sun, the Moon and the rain. We all knelt to honor the Earth Mother. I feel badly about the lack of communication here, one member was given this role, as he couldn’t be at the planning meeting, he wasn’t informed of it till a couple days before the rite. When I found out I offered to say the part I had written with all the names of the Indo-European Earth Mothers as an introduction and let him lead us in honoring the Earth. What I should have done is given him what I wrote and gone over the pronunciations before the rite, because after I said my part, he was at a loss for words, I had thrown him off and all he could say was “Hail the Earth Mother”. To his credit he led a very eloquent call to the Deities and said everything he probably would said at the beginning when it was time to thank the Earth Mother at the end of the rite. Sorry Steve! Here is what I wrote and said:
“We give honor first and foremost to the Earth our Mother,
She who our ancestors have called:
Gaia, Tellus, Nerthus, Prithivi, Žemyna,
Zemes-mãte, Mati Syra Zemlya, Terra Mater
Ops Mater, Hannahanna, Anu, Danu, Don,
Jörð, Fjörgyn, Perkunatele, Zamin and by many other names”
We then all sang Blossom Lifter:
Earth mother, blossom lifter
Bloom with the wheat,
Bloom with the rye,
Bloom with barley,
And bloom with all grains.
Earth mother, blossom lifter
Bless what we eat,
Bless what we drink,
Bless what we harrow,
and bless what we sow.
Earth mother, blossom lifter
With all these things,
Let us rejoice…
You give to us,
And we give to you.
Koronis again impressed with an awesome invocation of the Proto-Indo-European god of wisdom and inspiration*Xákʷōm Népōt (sometimes called just “Neptonos”), who guards a well of fiery liquid. I had left Bardic Inspiration open to whoever volunteered for it and was nervous when Sunny mentioned Koronis would choose a deity (as I was thinking more of Spirit of Inspiration or the Awen), but Koronis made the perfect choice, I was very glad to a bit of Proto-Indo-European culture present. Cheers to her! I wrote and read the Statement of Purpose:
“We are here to keep the Feast of Midsummer.
To honor the Earth and Sun
To make offerings to the Kindred;
Receiving their blessings in return.
To keep alive the traditions of our Ancestors,
Celebrating the turning of the wheel.
To stand still in the warmth of the sun,
And sway in it’s light.
To dance round the bonfire,
And leap over it for luck.
To bathe our faces in the morning dew,
And bless the herbs we have gathered.
To divine our fate by dreams,
To celebrate light, warmth and fertility,
And to join in fellowship with all who do likewise around the world.”
We all sang The Portal Song to help Establish the Sacred Center/(Re)Create the Cosmos. Sunny led us in a wonderful honoring of The Black Bear as Grove ally and Gatekeeper for this rite. I had suggested she, Koronis and Jerry work together to open the Gates a la three druids with staves which the grove has done in the past. I sent an example but encouraged them to work together on it. It didn’t quite come together words wise, but the motion and energy was there and it was followed by three great unique calls to the Kindred.
We were originally going to have our two boys honor the Nature Spirits, who they had set up a special shrine to with stuffed animals and fairy dolls, but they proved a bit too clingy and talkative at the beginning of the ritual and Sunny’s husband offered to take them on a walk, bless him! They actually were paddle boating on the pond when it came time for their part so Sunny improvised and worked with her little girl Violet to invite the Nature Spirits with kisses to the animals and fairies, it was too cute! Steve and Jerry invited the Shining Ones and Ancestors wonderfully well and the energy was flowing before the main invocation which I led:
“Let us honor the Summer Sun
Without whose light and warmth
Life on this earth would not be possible
We do so this day, remembering the names and relations
Our ancestors ascribed to the Sun
To the Norse she was Sól, sister of Máni,
She who was chosen to drive the Chariot of the Sun
On whose horses (Árvakr and Alsviðr) runes are carved,
Pursued ever across the sky by the ravenous wolf Sköll
To the Anglo-Saxons she was Sunna, sister of Sinthgunt,
Healer of horses, bride of the heavens and delight of elves
She who steers the golden wheeled wagon of the Sun
To the Balts she was Saule, Daughter of Deivas
And Saules-mãte, Mother Sun,
Mother of the Earth, the Stars and all the Planets
She who sails the seas at night in her sun ship
And pauses to dance on the hill on Midsummer morning
Warming her shepherds and orphans
To the Slavs he was Dažbog (DASH-ka-bog), son of Svarog
And father of the Zorya the Morning, Evening
And Midnight Stars who attend him
At beginning and end of his journey
Across the sky, in his brazen chariot
To the Vedic people he was Surya,
Chief of the planets and father of the divine twins
He who drives the chariot of seven horses
Who are the seven colors of the rainbow
And whose temples, festivals and mantras are many
To the Indo-Iranians he was Hvare.khshaeta
(Hvarə.xšaēta) “Radiant Sun”
And later Mithra,
Whose mysteries spread far and wide
And whose birth was celebrated
On the Winter Solstice
To the Hitties she was dUTU URU Arinna,
The Sun Goddess of Arinna, soverign of both sun and earth
Along with the gods UTU Nepisas “The Sun of the Sky”
And UTU Taknas “The Sun of the Earth”
To the Greeks he was Helios,
Golden helmed brother of Eos and Selene
Who drives the chariot of the Sun
And later Apollo, brother of Artemis
God of light, healing, music, poetry and prophecy
Known as Phoebus (fee-bes, “radiant”), Lyceus (ly-see-es, “light”)
Aegletes (a-glee-teez, “light of the sun”) and Helius (he-lee-es, “sun”)
To the Romans he was Sol
Sol Indiges, “the native sun”
Or “the invoked sun”
And later Sol Inviticus,
The Unconquerable Sun
To the Celts the Sun had many faces
To the Gauls he was Belanos,
Bright One, Shining Fire of the Sky
God of healing and purification
Whose feast was Beltane,
The Hinge of Summer
To the Brittans she was Sulis,
Sulis Minerva, whose hot springs
At Bath, Aquae Sulis,
Were the union of fire and water
And drew many pilgrims
Bringing votives and tablets
For healing and curses
To the Gaels she was Aine
And Gráinne- queenly sisters
Of the House of the Sun
Whose feasts were on Midsummers Eve
He was Ogma, son of the Dagda
Sun-Faced God of poetry,
Wisdom and creator of the ogham
Brigh, daughter of the Dagda
Bright fire of the hearth, the forge and of inspiration,
Born at sunrise on the threshold
She of the fiery dwelling and red cattle
Whose warmth brings spring to the land
And Lugh, whose name means light
Lugh of the Long-arm, Lord of All- Skill
He of the shining brow and spear
Whose feast is at the height of summer
Hear us Son and Daughter of the Sky
Hear us Sister, Brother and Lover of the Moon
Hear us Mother of Earth and Father of Planets
Hear us Wife of Storms and Bride of the Heavens
Hear us Mother, Father, Brother of Dawn
We call to you!
Fire of sky and air
Delight of Elves
Shield of the Sky!
Hail the Summer Sun!
Let us now all give praise and offerings to the Sun as we each see fit!”
By the end I certainly felt the air buzzing! Each of the grove members brought praise for the Sun. Jerry honored Lugh and told the story of the Formorians confusion on the morning of battle when his shining face was mistaken for the rising sun. Sunny honored Brigid and told of her hanging her mantle on a beam of sun light. Kornonis honored Helios, Sol Inviticus and Mithra with a Persian invocation, very cool. I sang a song for Saule. We then opened up the offering to the rest of the Kindred. The Green Man, Cernunnos and the bees got praise from everyone with a bottle of mead passed around. Sunny was very sweet to raise a toast to me and finished by toasting the grove. We then lit the Sun Ship (a candle inside a large coconut) a set it to sail the pond while the Sun began her nightly journey. I sang two Lithuanian hymns to the Sun as we processed down to the pond. The Omen was taken by Koronis from Animal Wise Tarot: “From Nature Spirits comes unexpected magic & energy; from Ancestors comes creativity & skill; from Deities comes blessings & magic afoot. A great omen!”
I taught the Black Bears the bright version of Pour the Waters with the additional two verses, that I’m so glad I learned from Stone Creed (all we needed was Ian drumming), but it was much more spritely than the dirge everyone dreads. There were personal workings and as the fire was raised a bit high and mostly was too wide with cinder blocks and an iron circle, we decided not to risk scraped faces and knees and skipped jumping the fire and instead did an impomptu dance around the fire where slowly everyone stretched an arm inward and we became a sort of wheel while I led us in another Lithuanian song about the Sun. Before the Gates were closed the boys came back to thank the Nature Spirits and sing a song for the Sun. All the spirits were thanked and the rite came to a joyful end.
Cheese, more mead and beer were had, vegan hot dogs and marshmallows were roasted for s’mores and there was good fellowship. Rowan kept wanting to run into the house and was asking for attention so I didn’t get to share the other traditional songs I wanted to. Oh well it can wait for another campfire. Do I wish there had been more co-ordination and that my part was less script heavy? Yes, but for less than two weeks planning, I think we kept the Solstice very well. That night a went to bed with a genuine natural smile on my face. I am very grateful to Sunny and her family’s hospitality. We had a great breakfast of pancakes and eggs from her chickens the next morning. So glad to meet a new sister and reconnect with my fellow Black Bears, new and old. Ann and Adam were very much missed but we thank them for starting it all. Hail Black Bear Grove!