Posted by: justblade | December 28, 2010

Midsummer Madness!

This blog has been a bit quiet for some time, thanks to a lot of Life Happening. Perhaps this solstice feast is a good time to revive some good habits, including writing! A whole mess of public holidays and a break from work certainly helps as well.

Being Heathen in the Southern Hemisphere means that this is our Summer Solstice. I’ve never lived in a place where Midwinter has coincided with the wider cultural celebrations associated with December. It certainly puts a curious spin on the decorations, carols, food and activities most associated with Christmas in the countries that I’ve lived (Australia and New Zealand). It’s also a curiosity for many work colleagues and friends who ask what I’m doing for Christmas, to which my reply is “not much, as it’s not something I celebrate.” A response that is a huge conversation stopper, as most people anticipate a lengthy reply about catching up with friends, family and so on.

I read with great interest the post from T Thorn Coyle on why Christians should take back Christmas. She makes some solid points about the beast that Christmas celebrations have become, and from the perspective of a culture where they are at odds with the actual climatic season, it shows up just how removed they are from either the seasonal reason for the season or the nonseasonal religious festivals that have laid claim to this time of year.

For the places I have lived, the Summer Solstice has not actually been the height of summer – that tends to happen more in January and February. Celebrating the longest day of the year for me includes hailing Sunna at her height and seeking shelter against the excesses of her bounty – bushfires, sunburn and associated skin cancers, and the ravages of heat on people and crops. The public holidays help with a lot of Getting Things Done around home and garden, which the housewights definitely appreciate too.

Living in a different seasonal setting can be an advantage. I’ve found in years past it is a useful point to remind Heathens in other places that things are different in other places. Commenting that ‘it’s Midsummer here’ has been the start of many fascinating discussions on remembering diversity in Heathen experience and practice, that historical Heathenry was comprised of regional variation and was distinctively not homogenous.

If Shakespeare’s fantasy on the Midsummer theme is to be given any weight, there is a suggestion that this solstice is a similar time of thinning between the worlds as is commonly associated with Midwinter/Yule. Yule and the Wild Hunt have a firm grasp on many Heathen imaginations, and it is certainly one of my favourite festivals. I wonder about the corresponding procession for this time of year …

 

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding, but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend;
If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearnéd luck,
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long:
Else the Puck a liar call.
So good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

  • Puck, scene ii
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