Tag Archives: midsummer

Solstice time

I will admit to not seeing in the dawn. I woke at seven with the alarm clock, with a body that hurts and no energy at all. This did not come as a great surprise to me, such that I had not made any solstice arrangements. This used to be one of the festivals I went to considerable effort to celebrate, with trips to Stonehenge, overnight vigils, dawn celebrations and so forth.

I can’t do it this year. My body simply isn’t going to take more abuse and I can feel the creeping warning signs of depression and exhaustion. Other people have greeted the sun today, I am not needed, I feel, and Druidry is not about martyrdom.

I’ve got a hard fight on my hands right now, one that I’ve been caught up in for years, but have finally got some movement on. You may have seen yesterday’s post about how charity should be charitable. If not, please do swing over and read that one, it’s important.

The trouble with fighting, as I’ve said before, is the fear of being hit harder and suffering more as a consequence. It may be that some of what has happened to me recently is as a direct consequence of putting in a complaint about the atrocious driving of the patrol boat. As ours seems to be the only boat round here hit by the latest insanity – a demand that we sit on our mooring, for which I can see no legal basis, I have to wonder if this is an attempt at harassment. I’ve heard stories about Canal & River Trust staff, back in the days when they were British Waterways, coming out to threaten protesting boaters in person. That may, of course, be hearsay and I have no direct evidence. But at the same time, the local enforcement officer has made sure everyone knows he’s ex-military, and (again, I only have this second hand) “here to sort us out” so I am nervous that he might turn up in person and that some serious stress awaits me. I find him intimidating.

On twitter, @canalrivertrust told me yesterday that they do not want to make anyone homeless, which I pointed out rather begs the question of why they go round threatening boaters with just that thing. Apparently someone is going to contact me. I’ve not checked my email yet, I do not think I can handle it today without getting ill. Anxiety is a ravaging sort of ailment and this pushes all the buttons. I won’t meet up in person to ‘chat’ though, I need written evidence so that I can put it in the public domain. I’m not looking for a deal that gets them off my back, I want justice for all boaters, and freedom from harassment for all boaters.

Others online have asked why I don’t take this to the Charity Commission, whose job, supposedly, is to monitor and police charities. I have done this, and so have others. Complaints are dismissed either because they do not consider it their place to involve themselves in disputes between boaters and CRT, or because (second hand here) they don’t see any conflict between making people homeless, and charity law. They certainly don’t have any problem with the idea that a charity has attempted to pressure me to act illegally. Nice one. That gives me so much faith in the Charity Commission, that frankly, I could weep.

And so for midsummer I offer tears, sweat and panic to the gods of justice, trying to fight a whole system that has been set up in inherently crooked and unreasonable ways.


Honouring Midsummer

There is no one right way of honouring midsummer, or the summer solstice. Some groups like to meet for the sunrise, some will sit up all night to greet it. Others favour midday gatherings when the sun is at the height of its power, or will keep watch through the day.

These long days at the light end of the year can be intense, wakeful times. There’s a process of moving through the longest days, so I think of this period – from the 21st to the 24th as being the summer’s solar festival time, rather than focusing too much on a specific date. Beyond this short span of days lies the inevitable slow slide back towards winter. It’s the turning point of the year, the time that many sources will tell us we should be feeling high energy and making our plans into reality. Of course in practice life does not always follow the seasons that neatly. The seasons, for that matter, don’t always follow the seasons.

In previous years I have sat up on hillsides to greet the dawn. It’s a soulful thing to do, with long hours in which to contemplate. I considered doing so this year, but the amount of rain round here would have made the process physically hard, and I don’t feel equal to it. Some years I’ve been able to handle the lost night, but I’m sleep hungry, so I went with that. The birds work me with a chorus at dawn – they don’t always, but this morning I surfaced and listened. On a high hill with no tree cover, you don’t get much of a dawn chorus, but at Stonehenge on Salisbury plain, the larks rise up and sing with the sun – which is an experience all by itself.

What am I celebrating? Without ritual, without a working group. I’m very attuned to the light and each passing day resonates with me – I’ve always lived closer to nature so I don’t personally need the festivals as reminders to tune in. The height of the sun’s powers might be a thing to honour, except mostly it’s raining and my solar panel is not gathering much juice today. April felt more summery than this. The St John’s Wort is blooming though, along the sides of the roads, and the chicks who survived from early clutches start to look like adults.

Every day is an event in the life of the sun, part of the cycle, and a moment worth marking. I find it increasingly hard to work up enthusiasm for ‘focal points’. It’s different when you have a group to work with – shared celebration being as much about community, bardcraft and joy as it is about nature. In terms of private practice, I’m not honouring the sun any more today than I did yesterday or will tomorrow. I shall be very glad when it shows up to be honoured in person! It’s been a June monsoon for me.

Whatever you celebrate, and however you choose to do it, I think the most important thing is to know why. Don’t go through the motions because some book on paganism or Druidry told you to. That’s hollow. Celebrate what you find meaningful. And if it doesn’t speak, don’t be afraid to admit it. The eight festivals do not make a Druid. They are a thing to start from, to be aware of, but not to be ruled by. You could turn up to every one of them and never feel anything akin to Druidry stir within your soul. Or you could wander the fields at the times when you feel called to, and find your own truth. Do what works.

Finally, there’s a bit of blue sky out there, and perhaps the gods of sun and solar panels will smile on me, and let me do a little work today.