Summer Solstice ceremony is a celebration and invocation of the Sacred Fullness/Wholeness of Being – when our Sun is at its peak of radiance in our part of the world … when Summer fruits are ripening and pouring forth in abundance, when greenery is thriving (as it is in my region). The fullness of being celebrated at this Seasonal Moment is not for self-aggrandisement, not for holding on to: it is for pouring forth, for gifting the world – returning it, whence it came … just as all of nature does: the fullness of being is drawn from and made possible by relationship with the Mother of all Life, and it is poured forth, given away. (Starhawk calls Summer Solstice the “Give-Away time of the Sun” – 1999: 236). This radiance of self then is at the same time a dissipation of self, a dissolving. And it is a fullness of being that is poured forth: this cosmology is not about self-abnegation. This Sacred Interchange of giving and receiving at the same time, where no distinction is possible, IS the Mystery, and what is so special about this Moment of Solstice.
In the tradition, it is the rose that is metaphor for this marriage of the fullness of being and the dissipation, the marriage of the fullness of being and the giving away, the letting go. The tradition says that this is the Season “of the rose, blossom and thorn, fragrance and blood” (Starhawk 1999:205). It is also said that at this Moment “Beloved and Lover embrace in a love so complete that all dissolves into the single song of ecstasy that moves the worlds.” (my adaptation of Starhawk’s words – PaGaian Cosmology p.145). And it is said that “The seed of darkness is born” (PaGaian Cosmology p.145) … this growing darkness may be identified with the dissolving of self, the beginning of the return to Source whence we come. The darkness in this cosmology is not a sordid dreadful place – it is Home, and it may be a place of rest and bliss. It is the source of Creativity.
In the ceremony, this wholeness/unity of being is expressed in the “Dyad Poem” or “Conversation of Union” – which is my adaptation of a poem in Starhawk’s “The Spiral Dance” (1999:131). I understand it as expressing the unity of “form” and “formlessness” – “manifestation” and “manifesting” – both qualities present at once, as they are: like radiance and dissipation. The participants in the ceremony form two circles facing each other, and chant their lines to each other in turn, kind of like a conversation. I have written it in this way:
Inner circle: Outer circle:
Nameless One of many names …
Eternal and ever changing One…
Who is found nowhere but appears everywhere..
Beyond and within all …
Timeless circle of the seasons …
Unknowable Mystery Known by all …
Mother of all Life Young One of the Dance
Engulf us with your love Be radiant within us …
Inner circle step back into outer circle:
All (with actions): See with our eyes. Hear with our ears. Breathe with our nostrils. Kiss with our lips. Touch with our hands. Open our hearts.That we may live free, joyful in the Song of all that is.
The whole group then enters into a toning – a harmonising of voices, that may be felt as a practice of relationship with self, other and All-that-is … the three layers of Cosmogenesis that form the basis of this cosmology. (For an introduction to that, perhaps see “Cosmogenesis – an Introduction” in PaGaian Cosmology Chapter 2, though it is woven throughout the book.)
For a PaGaian Summer Solstice/Litha
(Track 1 and 2, CD 3 of PaGaian Cosmology Meditations)
Livingstone, Glenys. PaGaian Cosmology. Lincoln, NE: 2005.
Starhawk, The Spiral Dance. NY: Harper and Row, 1999 (3rd edition).