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Solstice Musings: Thoughts on Celebration

The Wheel Turns

Summer Solstice is upon us! (For those in the in the north anyway, wave to those reaching midwinter) It’s a fleeting moment embodying both balance and transition, as the Wheel of the Year continues in it’s onward cycle.
At the risk of sounding trite, I feel like I’m just registering it’s summer, only to realise we’re halfway through. I’ve been feeling very out of sync with the festivals in general so far this year and, while I can make a fairly educated guess as to the reasons for that, I’ve still been finding it… unsettling. It’s much harder to give due acknowledgement when you’re not tuned in, not feeling it. And as someone who’s never particularly been one for religion by rote, it begs the question: to what extent should we feel obliged to celebrate when we don’t really feel like celebrating?

FOMO, Pressure & Perception

Thousands will be flocking to Stonehenge and similar sacred sites, and for many it will be much like a pilgrimage, for others a big party, for most somewhere between the two (and I do love a good party). As is usually the case around now, in response we’ll see a lot of, er, ‘commentators’ declaim this choice as too crass, too commercial, too crowded to be suitably spiritual. There will be  those who post about their beautifully bedecked altars, sanctified and dedicated ceremonial spaces (replete with handcrafted tools) and rituals that have been created and passed through a distinguished line of adepts. And there will be, er, ‘commentators’ who will denounce this as missing the point of a nature based religion, who will be taking themselves off to woods and streams and dells and groves, no crowds, no tools, no preparation, simply prepared to go wherever the spirit of the season takes them.
I won’t be doing any of those things, at least not uniquely. Does that mean I’m not doing enough? Missing out? Does it mean I’m not a ‘proper’ pagan? Less than? Or, worse, a bad pagan?
To clarify, there are a great many who are genuinely sharing their practices, their beliefs, their views with others to provide them with ideas and information, but at the same time with each festival that passes I’ve been noticing a worrying rise in the volume of “more-magickal-than-thou” themed offerings, in tone inasmuch as content, and it concerns me that this is creating the (incorrect) impression that there is a single,  ‘right’ way of doing things that could be very misleading to those who are new and trying to find their own way.

They Be More Like Guidelines

I love composing spells, ceremonies and rituals. Absolutely love it. Weaving words, colours, concepts, smells and sounds to craft an experience that is at once richly symbolic and deeply personal. It’s where not only my passion but my skillset best comes through (though whether I’m good at it because I love it, or love it because I’m good at it, I couldn’t say!) But like any labour of love, it requires more than simply the demands of the calendar to do it full justice. It takes energy, focus, inspiration and while, even when demanding and difficult, it may be possible to “make time” the rest is not so readily produced or procured. That’s true of everyone, particularly if it’s something that doesn’t come as easily to you. There are fallbacks of course – there’s certainly no shortage of resources available through forums, discussion groups and, of course, books that you can borrow, modify (or use wholesale!) to make the process easier (although the sheer density of material out there  can make picking through it as much of a chore as starting from scratch). And I can always rely on forms I’ve used before.

If I want to.

What I won’t do is something half-hearted, because I feel I have to. Because I feel I should. Because I feel I’ll be judged, or be missing out, or be letting the side down.
There will always, every single festival and full moon and special occasion, be a part of me that wants to be dancing around a bonfire in ecstatic communion with the sublime. But if I’m exhausted, or uninspired, or even resentful, it won’t have the desired effect anyway.
So if come tomorrow night it ends up just being me, a candle and a cuppa in quiet contemplation, that’s OK too.