Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Friday, June 29, 2012

For the Files: Summer Solstice, Community Style

Sharing changes everything. 


Smoke Fills the Circles. ACoA Summer Solstice Festival 2012.
Smoke Fills the Circles. ACoA Summer Solstice Festival 2012.



The weekend was spent with our Arctic Circle of Anchorage Community. It is our great fortune to have a place among them. 

Blessings at the Gate.
Blessings at the Gate.
This was the second annual Summer Solstice Festival, a weekend-long celebration filled with ritual, music, sharing of skills, talents, knowledge & of course, togetherness. The Land owners & many community members worked their tails off (& left their coinpurses with little else but lint) improving the site this Spring. Where there was naught, there is now a working well, two really lovely outhouses (as outhouses go), a graveled, off-street parking area & a pair of large, concentric stone circles around a contained fire pit on a sand & gravel bed for ritual space. This area was very difficult to capture in a photograph (especially without a wide-angle lens) & I wish I could find a way to get an aerial photo, but I did my best to represent it from the ground. Use your expansive imagination.

Being the parents of wee folk, we recognize the folly of trying to camp the weekend through, but also being half rural-folk, we have no fear of driving incredible distances at odd hours to get what we need. Thus, we made the three-hour round trip drive out of Anchorage & back to participate in the Friday & Saturday events, arriving home at 3am, both times. The wee folk are still not yet re-calibrated & sleep until ten, but there are no regrets.

This year, somehow, I found myself taking many photographs (something I am not used to at Pagan affairs), so there is an amply-sized collection of images documenting the evening events  at the ACoA Summer Solstice Album. Other members have also contributed to the collection -- thus making it voluminous -- so please do visit & enjoy. 


Inside the Women's Outhouse: A Room with a View.
Inside the Women's Outhouse: A Room with a View.





  • Friday


    Handfasted before the altar.
    Handfasted before the altar.
    Friday evening we had the pleasure of witnessing the handfasting of two of our community members. There is something potent about the illustrative elements, the visual symbols of a handfasting ritual. It is not the same as listening to some officiant speaking words, words, words & then deeming the couple bonded. The physicality of binding hands together reaches deeper into the subconscious, particularly when many hands play a part. It calls forth the rootedness of the primal, the tribal too. Not that this was a heavy, onerous occasion -- indeed, it was filled with the happiest of tears the the brightest of smiles. We now look forward to their union after a year & a day. 

    Directly following the handfasting, we held the opening ritual, a particularly nice, simple ceremony. I only wish I had been in closer proximity to the group that I might have held a hand or two, but alas, chasing The Changeling allows for none of that stationary sort of activity. At least I could feel the excitement, love & magick reaching out from that circle, it's tendrils curling about the torch posts, my waist & the trees beyond. Sharing changes everything. 

    And then the party.

    "Sooj" (SJ Tucker)  sings at our AK Solstice event.
    "Sooj" (SJ Tucker)
    sings at our AK Solstice event.
    The Changeling found his niche quickly during an improv drum session. Looking back on this evening, I do believe he has found his shining star -- his muse -- in the delightful creature we call "Sooj," more formally known as Sj Tucker. He remained enrapt in the rhythms throughout the weekend, tried his tiny hand at various percussion instruments & found a gentle, patient mentor in our local ATC Priest. Drum on, little brother.

    Our evening was filled with song, beginning with the voices of our own, local "Itty Bitty Kitty Kommittee" (IBKK) & followed by Sj Tucker herself. To try to articulate a musical experience in words requires the skill of the music critic. I am not a music critic. I am not even particularly well versed in music in general. So I leave it at one word: delight.




    • Saturday



      2012 ACoA Summer Solstice graphic. Artwork © the talented Alicia Wolter-Hausser.
      2012 ACoA Summer Solstice graphic.
      Artwork © the talented Alica Wolter-Hausser.
      Image courtesy Ice Moon Grove.
      Our tiny clan managed to survive the 4am bedtime by sleeping until nearly noon. A little ragged, but still bright-eyed & bushy-tailed, we returned to The Land the following evening for dinner & the main Solstice event: a Druidic (ADF-style) rite to honor the passing of the Sun. This ritual was written & sponsored by Alaska's own Ice Moon Grove, an eclectic group of Druids working with both ADF & OBOD traditions, as well as exploring other paths. The ritual included the standard offerings to the Outdwellers, hallowing the Well, the Fire & the Tree, acknowledgements to the Ancestors, Shining Ones & the Spirits of the Land, with an invocation to the Sun. 

      The truly superlative portion of this rite, in my opinion, was the opening which (I believe) was devised to simultaneously mark the passage of the Sun & exemplify the unity of our diverse community. The outer circle had stations bearing flags & torches for each house of the zodiac & each house was represented by a member of the group. (Folks without parts stood at the house of their birthsign.) As each house was acknowledged, they lit their torch, passing the flame, sunwise, on to the next house. The same arrangement & process was followed by the inner circle which held stations for the planets. At the completion of these cycles, the two circles stood ready, torches ablaze -- individuals unified by the Whole of the Universe.

      Circles, Offerings & Our Tribe, ACoA Summer Solstice Festival 2012.
      Circles, Offerings & Our Tribe, ACoA Summer Solstice Festival 2012.

      Offerings for the Fire were plentiful & the flames burned on after the ritual's completion, giving dancers, drummers & merrymakers a focus (we certainly did not need the light or heat!). The children (Little Lad included) disappeared into the trees brandishing electric mosquito zappers & undoubtedly regressing to some earlier stage in social evolution. The youth notwithstanding, this night's revelry gently simmered with a more subdued energy than the previous evening -- folks were tired from lack of sleep & the heat of the inland Alaskan day. (A singular heat that should not be underestimated.) But this too seemed, well, just right. 

      Fire, Sacred Waters & Mead. Summer Solstice 2012.
      Fire, Sacred Waters & Mead. Summer Solstice 2012.

      The evening was also just right for magick. So, when the Fire settled in, exposing its wide, smoldering bed of coals, I took some time with to do the work I hadn't been able to accomplish earlier in the week. As always, each working will receive proper documentation here in future days, life permitting, but in short; two fungi, two states, two mycelial messages rising out of the flames, riding the air to far away land. I even received some unexpected assistance. What a difference (!). Sharing changes everything. 

      I had a friend comment recently that the reason churches survive over time (as opposed to multi-faith establishments) is that they are founded on shared belief. While this may be true to some degree, I am inclined to believe that what really compels the human animal is community. Why do I know so many churchgoers who are non-believers, or casual at best? Yet they attend, every Sunday, never missing a beat. It is the community, the greater family, the kinship & (let's be honest here) its resources that attracts & sustains them. Most people seek, crave, need fellowship & while some may gain validation of their personal gnosis along the way, most are in it for the potlucks & spaghetti dinners.

      We have an eclectic community comprised of people involved in a variety of traditions & belief-systems. They may call themselves Druid, Hellenic, Hindu, Norse Heathen, Shinto, Wiccan or they may call them selves simply, "Pagan," "pagan," something else, or nothing at all. It pleases me to see that even those who are not of the hosting tradition are always on board, fully, completely. Last weekend, everyone was present with their whole selves. As Hubby would say, they were "in it to win it." We are not a community of complete like-mindedness. Not even close. With such diverse & often disparate traditions at this table, there is much room for variances & variances we have, most certainly. Yet there remains a compelling, universal desire to create, foster, build, maintain & support community. This is what holds us together. This is what makes all of this possible. This is is the makings of magick. 

      Sharing changes everything.

      And the flames burn on...
      And the flames burn on...


2 comments:

thehealeratancestormeadow said...

Community. Yes. It does indeed change everything. We are social animals. It sounds like a wonderful time.

Our Whole Grove said...

wow, thank you so much.

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