Because I find That-Which-Is-Sacred in nature and the seasons, I like it when my spiritual work is in tune with the rhythm of the seasons. The Wheel of the Year is useful for this. The Sabbats -- the Solstices, when either day or night is longest; the Equinoxes, when dark and light are equal; and the cross-quarter days in between -- are convenient times for me to stop and check in with myself with respect to the seasons, and are also a convenient time to check in with the Goddess / the Gods in a more mindful, take-stock kind of way than I do most First Days.
Some of the Sabbats speak to me deeply, and were part of my life before I ever identified as a Pagan. Some of them just make a lot of sense to me emotionally and spiritually. And some make sense mentally, but not on that instinctive level. Summer Solstice, or Litha, is one of these.
Oh, Summer Solstice makes mental sense to me. It's opposite Winter Solstice, which does speak to me on a gut level. As I've lived in different parts of the country, Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice are times when I've really had an especial sense of place about where I've been living: sunrise and sunset on the longest and shortest days of the year are very different in different parts of the US. The longest day is much longer in Seattle than Philadelphia; sunset on Summer Solstice is later in Ann Arbor or at Camp Grayling than in the Mid-Atlantic; the shortest day is shorter in Seattle than in Ann Arbor than in Philadelphia.
Last year in Seattle, we threw a Summer Solstice cookout where it wasn't dark til nearly 10 pm, but it was chilly enough we were all wearing fleece and long pants in the backyard, gathered around the grill.
You get the picture.
But while Summer Solstice makes mental sense and place-sense, it has never spoken to me in my gut the way some of the other Sabbats do.
On the train, I was trying to plan this year's Summer Solstice Celebration, and not getting far. So I started writing instead.
- What do I actually want to do for Summer Solstice?
- What would be faithful to my leading?
- What is my leading?
- What about my MFW notion that came to me in MFW?
- What is my leading with respect to Roses, Too! Tradition?
I have a strong leading and commitment to Feminist Witchcraft.
I have a leading to teach it to other people, especially women.
So what do I have to teach, and what do I have to learn, about Summer Solstice?
The Sabbats that follow this are all about harvest -- at Lammas, we ask, "What have you harvested so far this year? What do you hope to harvest yet?"
At Litha, we've often talked about fruits, pride, and first fruits.
Gay pride, queer pride, Pagan pride; Pagan pride is more associated with Mabon.
The flip side of pride for both of those is perhaps shame.
So how can Litha, with its bright, purifying (burning?) sun, chase away (burn?) shame, transform shame, into pride?
What things have we been ashamed of that are actually sources of strength, power-from-within, and pride?
- femaleness; female gender; being women
- our bodies
- femininity -- characteristics stereotypical of female gender
- being femme or being perceived as femme in a queer culture where that may be suspect or not as honored as being androgynous or soft-butch or gender-bending
- being Pagan; being too, or too obviously, Pagan; being not Pagan enough
- being spiritual/religious
- doing "ritual"
- doing ritual that is too plain, too down-to-earth
- health, body, physical issues
- cognitive and energy deficits
- education -- high school and seminary especially
(One key is feminist analysis of shame based on oppression and powerlessness...)
Transforming shame and powerlessness into pride, strength, and power-from-within.
Burning things? Eating rainbow fruit salad? [ <--- Rainbow fruit salad has appeared at past Roses, Too! Litha potlucks where the theme was "Take pride in your fruits (all puns intended)"]
Writing them down, putting them into a cauldron [the Cauldron of Cerridwen], stirring them around, pulling them back out, reading them - ? ie, "I have been ashamed of/when ---," then, "X is a source of pride / strength / power-from-within" - ?
(What do we do with them afterwards?)
What about things like violent or destructive behavior, illness / injury / disease, addiction, etc?
Transform the statement.
"Recovery is a source of pride, strength, and power-from-within."
"The ability and willingness to take responsibility for my actions is a source of strength and power-from-within."
"My body is a source of pride, strength, and power-from-within."
"My body's ability to heal is a source of pride, strength, and power-from-within."
"Not taking crap from inferior doctors is a source of pride, strength, and power-from-within."
Etc, and more.
I was done writing then, but all this has been bubbling away in the stewpot in the back of my brain. And I'm curious to see how things will cook up for Litha.
And although I might not have consciously realized it until now, that little bit of work has borne some fruit already: I bought jeans (on sale for cheap!) yesterday that show off my belly fat.
Not something I ever would have done before.