MUIN LIGHT

 

The newsletter of

Muin Mound Grove, ADF

7188 Minoa Bridgeport Road

East Syracuse, NY 13057-9601

 

SUMMER SOLSTICE 2000

 

 

Summer Solstice

From "The Wheel of the Year at Muin Mound Grove, ADF" by Skip Ellison

 

In addition to the four great festivals of the modern Neo-Pagan year, there are four lesser holidays as well: the two solstices, and the two equinoxes. These are referred to as the four "cross-quarter‑days" or "Lesser Sabbats" of the year. A solstice is an astronomical point and, due to the precession to the equinox, the date may vary by a few days depending on the year. The summer solstice is the midpoint of summer, when the sun is above the horizon for the longest period, has its northernmost rising and setting, and its highest elevation at noon. It is the apex of the sun's splendor, the longest day and the shortest night, and marks the turning of the year from waxing to waning. Astrologers know this as the date on which the sun enters the sign of Cancer. Modern calendars are quite misguided in suggesting that 'summer begins' on the solstice. According to the old folk calendar, summer BEGINS on May Day and ends on Lammas (August 1st), with the Summer Solstice, midway between the two, marking MID‑summer. This makes more logical sense than suggesting that summer begins on the day when the sun's power begins to wane and the days grow shorter.[1]

We have no specific evidence to show that this holiday was observed by the ancient Celts. We do though, find a word in Old Celtic, Medro-saminos, that means '(of) Mid Summer'.[2] And we know from the records of the Greeks and Romans that the Druids, 'knew the ways of the stars and moon.' It is also highly likely that even though the Druids didn't build the great stone monuments, they should have noticed the alignments at these special times of the year. With all this circumstantial evidence, I feel that it's just a question of not having found the hard evidence yet, rather than that the Celts didn't celebrate it.

Midsummer is also known as Litha and Alban Hefin (from Wales - point of summer). "Litha" means "stone" and is associated with calendars. To the Norse, Midsummer is sacred to the Norse God Balder the Beautiful, and Thor and his consort Sif are also remembered at this time. It modern Christian areas, it has been taken over by St. John's day in celebration of St. John the Baptist and is celebrated on June 24.[3]

This is a celebration of the Sun at its height. Symbols of the Sun are found throughout the folk customs that have come down to us. One interesting custom from the 1820's in Glamorgan was to roll wheels stuffed with straw and set ablaze down the sides of the hills. It is said that if the wheel stayed lit until it reached the bottom of the hill, then the harvest would be abundant. This custom was still alive in the hills around Dartmoor in Devon to the mid 1900's.

Also strongly associated with this holiday are bonfires. There are records going back to the 16th century talking about the number of bonfire seen on the hills throughout the British Isles. These fires would be lit around sunset and as they died down, people would jump through the fires for luck. The embers would be taken home to be scattered through the fields the next day, to ensure a bountiful harvest.[4]

Another fire custom comes to us from Ireland and Scotland. It was the custom there to take burning brands from the main fires and take them around the cattle to protect the cattle from the spirits abroad at this night. Embers from the fires would then be mixed with the seeds for the next year to give them the blessings for a good harvest. [5]

According to the Welsh, this was one of the three 'spirit nights' of the year. As such, it was a good time for divinations. This was also a time to protect and purify all your animals, usually with embers from the fires.

This was also an important herb gathering time. The folk custom of making and blessing the brat Aitmeithe, Airmid's mantle, is one that is still celebrated today. Usually this starts with a recitation of the story of Dian Cécht and how he killed his son, Miach. After Miach's death, 365 healing herbs, one for each human ailment, grew from his grave. His sister, Airmid, gathered the herbs and laid them out to show how they were to be used. Dian Cécht scattered the herbs so that the knowledge of how to cure all ailments was lost to us. The brat Aitmeithe is usually a large piece of cloth with the outline of a human body stitched on it. On this body are the pictures of the herbs that are beneficial for each part of the body. This custom has preserved much herb lore in the Celtic countries.[6]

On the Isle of Mann, we are told that this holiday was marked by the people gathering green meadow grass and carrying it to the top of the cliffs above the sea. They would then throw it into the sea for Manannan as payment for rent for the year. After this, the people would continue with 'revels too shocking to be told.'[7]

In Wales, this was the time for dancing and raising the y fedwen haf, the summer pole. This was similar to the Maypole and appears to have been done for the same reason, just moved to a different time.

In most Pagan cultures, the sun god is seen as split between two rival personalities: the god of Light and his twin, the god of Darkness. They are Gawain and the Green Knight, Gwyn and Gwythyr, Llew and Goronwy, Lugh and Balor, Balan and Balin, the Holly King and the Oak King, etc. Often they are depicted as fighting seasonal battles for the favor of their goddess/lovers, such as Creiddylad or Blodeuwedd, who represents Nature. The God of Light is always born at the Winter Solstice, and his strength waxes with the lengthening days, until the moment of his greatest powers, the Summer Solstice, the longest day. And, like a look in a mirror, his 'shadow self', the Lord of Darkness, is born at the Summer Solstice, and his strength waxes with the lengthening nights until the moment of his greatest power, the Winter Solstice, the longest night.[8]

This is the time of the year when we are outdoors the most and so become more in tune with the natural world around us. It is a time when we work in gardens, camp at festivals and swim in the lakes and rivers. What we have lost through the centuries by being more and more indoors can be brought back to give us at least a taste of what we've missed!

 

 

Senior Druid's Report

 

The festival season is upon us even though it's been a cold wet start. Several of us traveled to the Wellspring festival held at Brushwood Folklore Center from 5/17 to 5/21. It was one of the rainiest Wellsprings ever! We were very glad to have lots of large tarps set up to shelter under!

The fields have been too wet to get much work done, but they are starting to dry out and should be ready for camping at the Solstice Ritual. We did manage to get the wheat planted for this year, but had to put it in by the house instead of in the backfield. The area that was plowed and ready for it still had standing water on it at the first of June!

We've started a mailing list for the Grove. It's at MuinMoundGroveADF@egroups.com. Anyone is welcome to join it. We'll be using it to discuss upcoming rituals, business and fun times.

Sales of the Liturgy book have been going well, and it's now in its second printing. Copies can be ordered from the Grove.

 

 

Muin Mound Grove

Calendar of Events

 

Event

Date

Time

Comments

Business Meeting

6/24/00

5:00 PM

Normal business.

Summer Solstice

6/24/00

8:00 PM

Fields open for camping. Please bring a dish to share and a can of food for our food drive.

Sirius Rising

7/10/00 to 7/16/00

 

Brushwood's festival. Smaller than Starwood but very nice.

For more information, contact Brushwood Folklore Center at: 8881 Bailey Hill Road, Sherman, NY 14781

or at the web site at www.brushwood.com

STARWOOD!

7/18/00 to 7/23/00

 

Biggest and best festival in the East! Come and camp with the Druids in Druid Heights. For more information, contact ACE, 1643 Led Rd., #9, Cleveland Hts., OH 44118 or visit the web site at http://www.rosencomet.com/sw20/index.html

Business Meeting

7/29/00

5:00 PM

Normal business.

Lúghnasadh

7/29/00

8:00 PM

Fields open for camping. Please bring a dish to share and a can of food for our food drive.

 

LONG RANGE PLANNING

Shinning Lakes Lugh Fest

8/4/00

to

8/6/00

 

Put on by Shinning Lakes Grove in Ann Arbor, MI. This is always a nice festival. For more information, contact SLG at: POB 15585, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-5585 or visit their web site at: http://www.msen.com/~robh/slg/

Summerlands Festival

8/18/00

to

8/20/00

 

This is put on by Triskele River Grove and will be held in Yellow Springs, OH. It looks like they have a wonderful site and they should have a large turn out! For more information, email Summerland@coolmail.net.

Muin Mound Madness X

8/25/00 to 8/27/00

 

Our own festival. This year it will be a slack fest/party festival. No scheduled programming! More information will be available when we get closer to it.

 

As always, we welcome your contributions: stories, articles, artwork, poems...whatever your creativity brings to mind. You can get them to us by mailing to MUIN MOUND GROVE, ADF, 7188 Minoa Bridgeport Road, East Syracuse, NY 13057-9601 or via e-mail at sellison@twcny.rr.com (preferred method).

Up to the minute information about the Grove can always be found on our web site at: http://home.twcny.rr.com/muinmoundgrove

Need to contact the Grove directly? For more information, call 656-8681.


 



[1] Wolfe, KiaMarie. The Wheel Of The Year. Forthcoming.

[2] Kondratiev, Alexei. The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual. Cork: The Collins Press. 1998. Page 168.

[3] Hutton, Ronald. The Stations of the Sun. New York: Oxford University press. 1996. Page 311.

[4] Kondratiev, Alexei. The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual. Cork: The Collins Press. 1998. Pages 173 and 174.

[5] Rutherford, Ward. Celtic Lore. London: Aquarian Press. 1993. Page 98.

[6] Kondratiev, Alexei. The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual. Cork: The Collins Press. 1998. Page 171.

[7] Rutherford, Ward. Celtic Lore. London: Aquarian Press. 1993. Page 98.

[8] Wolfe, KiaMarie. The Wheel Of The Year. Forthcoming.