Reflections: Midsummer

The Midsummer season has come and gone. The high point of solar potency has passed and the strength of the Sun God begins to diminish. Although it doesn’t quite feel that way, with the long hot days of Summer still largely before us, each day is growing shorter than the one before it. We are heading irrevocably into the Dark half is the year.

Although we were sadly unable to hold our planned Midsummer picnic due to a lovely week of (much needed) rainy weather, we were absolutely delighted to perform the opening ritual at the Northey St City Farm’s Midsummer Festival this year.

We were invited to participate by the amazing Desi representing Evergreen Productions. Since we have been holding our Temple Gatherings in this location for over two years now, it felt like a wonderful opportunity to give something back to this fantastic venue and to share our energy with the land that we have honoured for so long.

This was the first time we’ve led a public ritual as the Temple of All Gods and we were very conscious of how we wanted to approach this. Although we have both worked with a number of different styles and traditions, the Temple energy is about making Paganism accessible to everyone (regardless of path or background) and we wanted to lean into that aspect of it without ending up with something so generic that there was no magic or joy left in it! We also knew that this crowd would include mainstream folk who weren’t Pagan and may not know very much about Midsummer or the Wheel of the Year mythos.

To accommodate this, we decided to approach this from a more relaxed place, that would allow people to participate or not as they chose without it impacting the overall ritual experience.

Our circle casting was similar to what we’ve been doing lately at Temple Gatherings, creating the energetic link to the directions but not the elements. People often form their own association between directions and elements when working in a circle, and it can be disorienting to attend a ritual that presents them differently. We chose instead to cast a directional circle and take time after that to honour the Elements.

We honoured the Elements with our bodies and voices rather than summoning, invoking or calling them in. This felt more appropriate to the occasion, and we were really pleased to see so many people stomping with Earth, breathing with Air, clapping with Fire and swaying with Water.

Image: Honouring Spirit

As many of you who follow our page may already know, Dan has developed quite a strong connection with the Greek god Apollo over the past year, and it seemed appropriate that we honour Him for this ritual. In addition to His role as solar deity, Apollo covers many areas that we felt offered sufficient range to appeal to most participants: justice, healing, creativity and so on.

This was a brief ritual to open the ceremonial part of the night so instead of invoking or aspecting in Lord Apollo, we approached this part of the ritual as a public ceremony and offered a modern prayer in His name. This is included below with the English translations of Apollo’s many names.

One of the questions we ask when ritual planning is what we intend to do with the energy that is raised. Given Apollo’s roles in healing and justice, we wanted to direct the energy back into the community to address these aspects. As we grounded ourselves back into the here-and-now, we directed our Apollonian energy, all the vibrant light of the sun, back into our local land and community that it could aid in bringing both healing and justice to the wounded and suffering portions of our world.

By far our favourite part of the night was building the altar to Apollo, setting that energy in place to anchor the ritual and opening it up to everyone who was there. We find such beautiful grace in public altars, watching people come into the space and give offerings to the Gods. We know many Pagans live solitary lives and there is great joy in providing a very visible, tangible public place for them to offer prayer and connect to divinity. We are also constantly amazed and blessed by the truly gracious and joyous response of non-Pagans to our altars. There is gentle respect and reverence even from those who don’t walk our paths.

Image: Apollo Altar

We offer our gratitude to the organisers who provided us with this opportunity, our blessings to the land and it’s spirit for welcoming us for this ritual, and our deepest thanks to all who attended and made offerings at our Apollo altar!

***

Hail Apollo, Son of Zeus, Son of Leto!

Today let me sing of Your glories,

You whose brightness fills the world,

you who slew the monstrous Python and

made his cave of hidden knowledge

Your holy place of wisdom and foresight.

You whose golden arrows soar from far-off Delos,

striking down the impious, the blasphemous,

the wicked and the greedy, the inhospitable,

and those consumed with arrogance.

Leader of those gifted and beauteous Muses,

You who all arts praises and celebrate,

we greet You with gladness and reverence,

with awe stealing the breath from our throats,

and with gratitude for all You have given us.

You, whose merest touch heals our injuries,

You whose kindness binds our wounds,

and chases the pestilent sickness from our frames,

stems the flow of blood when we are hurt,

and in whose name temples of healing were raised.

Let us bring wine and barley and burn frankincense,

crown Your statues with laurel boughs,

let us sing to You so long as there

is breath in our lungs, blood in our veins,

and let every gladsome and joyous thought we know

come back around to You at last.

O Apollo:

Phoebus (sun’s ray)

Musagetes (leader of muses)

Aegletes (radiant light of the sun)

Lycceus (born of the wolf)

Helius (sun)

Cynthius (from Mt. Cynthian)

Acesius (healing)

Iatrus (physician)

Apotropaeus (to avert)

Genetor (ancestor)

Manticus (prophetic)

Hecaergus (far shooter)

For each name, a story, a song, and praise,

and all of them I offer to You.

-Jennifer Lawrence

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