Summer Solstice Activities

With the Summer Solstice quickly approaching I felt it prudent to get a post out about some fun activities that you can do by yourself; with your girls; or with your family.

Whatever your pantheon, the Summer Solstice focusses on honouring the sun. There are many things that you can do to celebrate and enjoy the sun. The summer solstice marks the longest day of the year, the day with the most sunlight and what better way to honour that gift then to spend as much time as you can out soaking it up. Grab your sunscreen and try one of the following activities.

You can make some Sun Tea. Grab yourself a nice jar and pop in some water and edible herbs and let the tea steep by the heat of the sun. Some herbs to consider our mint, rosemary, basil, lemongrass, cilantro, lavender, chamomile and if you can get your hands on it some hibiscus to brighten it up and sweeten the deal.

You can go for a walk; a run; or a swim! Enjoy the outside as much as you possibly can with your friends and family. Have fun using the gift the gods have granted us.

You can make flower wreaths either for your door or your head. Go outside and find as many wildflowers as you can and make them into a beautiful crown or decoration for your door. This is a fantastic activity to share with children and will be greatly enjoyed by those with friends and family.

If you are looking for more contemplative activity you can try doing Sun Salutations outside. Grab your yoga mat and salute the sun. This is a fantastic way to the get outside, enjoy the sun and get a little exercise while still maintaining quiet reflection.

Gardening is always a fantastic idea for the longest day of the year. You can do this alone or with friends. If you have already started your garden you can spend some time reading it or rearranging. Time spent in the garden is never wasted.

Finally, if the weather is poor or you are on able to go outside but would still like to celebrate you can create a gratitude journal. Grab a pen and paper and reflect on everything that you are grateful for. The sun and more Vitamin D tend to revitalize many of us and we should be grateful for it. Along with the renewed energy of summer often come renewed projects or new endeavours. Take a moment to write those down. Something else that can be great exercise is to share this with your family. Have everyone share something they are grateful for every day or even set up a chalkboard to write things on to be shared with your family.

Again, there are many ways to celebrate this holiday and I encourage you to explore them all.

Brightest blessings

Making your own Sage Bundles

Smudging is a widely used practice to cleanse the body, mind or space of any negative energy. There are several herbs that can be used and several ways to smudge but the most commonly used in our grove is a Sage Stick.

Light the stick and once you have achieved a decent burn you can extinguish the flames and let the sage smoulder. Using your hands, you guide the smoke around and over your body or space to be purified and through ritual or meditation you fill that clearing with your intent and fresh energy.

With this being our most common practice, I started to grow Sage in the garden and dry it to be used as offerings and for smudging. This year I am making my own Sage sticks and I wanted to share that experience with you.

                        

I had sage from a couple years past that needed pruning so you will see both youngling plants and some that have clearly been around for a couple of years in this post. Once the sage is fully grown and ready to be picked you can trim the stem back about half way or, pluck leaves if you are looking to have loose herb. The best time to do this is late summer or early fall but my older plants were wild and crazy so I jumped the gun a little.

Making your sage bundle:

Once your have sized up your stems (I like to keep my sticks about 3-4 inches) you can then begin the binding process. (Note : I like to allow freshly cut branches to wilt for a day or overnight before beginning the next step.)

Bundle the branches together to your desired thickness (I go about an inch)

With the tips of the branches pointing down, begin wrapping the cord tightly around the base of your bundle. I use a natural twine or hemp cord for my bundles but many people prefer to use brightly coloured string. You will need about 4 times the length of your sage bundle.

Then, wrap the cord around the bundle (while firmly pressing the plant material together) working your way to the top of the bundle

When you reach the top, begin working your way back down toward the base.

Tie the two ends of the cord together at the base.

Trim the edges if you’d like to make it look all nice and neat.

Set the smudge stick to dry in a basket or on a drying screen for about 7-10 days. Alternatively, you can use a food dehydrator to speed up the process and have your bundles ready in a couple of hours.

In my garden, Sage seems to grow like a weed so this is a simple process for me. This is a fun activity and can be done in quiet contemplation or as a group/ family activity. It is enjoyable, productive and you can use it all year long for ritual. I would encourage you to give it a try but also to share your sticks with grovies, family and friends so that everyone can enjoy the fresh scent of sage and its purification properties.

Best of luck and enjoy!

Beltane with the Family


Image Source: Carlotta Marie Bonnecaze (1887)

Fertility and sexuality are natural parts of life. There are few times in the druid calendar that would traditionally better suited to celebrate one’s sexuality than Beltane. Once upon a time, this might be celebrated with couples enjoying a good dance around the May Pole and even a bit of  coupling in the Forests. But as natural as this is, it is not for everyone, particularly those with young children who are not yet ready for the complex topic of human sexuality in its many facets.

Don’t worry momma, you can still  go a-May-ing during naps…;)

Beltane offers us many types of fertility to celebrate. Notably is the return of all things green and beautiful after the long cold winter. Let’s look at a few “ family friendly” ways to celebrate this turn of the wheel.

1.      Making flower baskets or crowns to wear and share. This is a fantastic opportunity to teach your children about respecting and appreciating nature. It is also a fantastic crafting session where they will learn to work with their hands and build something beautiful. They can either keep their creation or share it to brighten someone’s day.
2.       As always, and for all Druid celebrations I would encourage you to get outside. Have a nice walk and maybe bring a journal to jot down or draw all of the new life you see emerging around you. Take turns identifying the flowers and trees. This is another great learning opportunity for all.
3.      Beltane tea party is a great opportunity for children to celebrate. Your children may not be ready to view prolific drinking or blatant adult content but there is no reason they can’t  join in to celebration.. Why not host a beautiful Beltane Tea?  Use bright colours and fresh flowers to decorate your table and enjoy a little bit of nature inside or out with some sweets and tea. Don’t forget to share with the faerie folk, they love treats.
4.      If your children are a bit older and you are comfortable having them around fire why not stoke a Bale Fire. You can discuss the turning of the wheel while making s’mores and enjoying the fresh night air. (Just be sure to check burning restrictions in your area)
5.      Beltane is a wonderful time to set out goals. Have your family write down and place their goals in a box and kept secret until the next year when you can revisit those goals and celebrate or reestablish your plan. Encourage anyone who wants to discuss to share and be supportive of their desires to grow like the new spring flowers. Your family is your  greatest asset and can be an amazing source of support if you all practice.

These are just a few idea, but there are many more things you can do with your family.

Don’t be afraid to discuss sexuality once you feel the time is right. There are many resources online and in books to help with this difficult topic ones you and your child are ready.

Best of luck to you all and Blessed Beltane

 

 

The 20th Annual Witches’ Ball and GNSD Raffle Basket!

 

Come out to support your local Pagan CKDU Radio Show, The Witching Hour, and to just have a ball. There will be music, drinks, and a costume contest!

The event will take at Menz & Mollyz Bar (2182 Gottingen St.), November 4th, starting at 9PM.

The Grove of Nova Scotia Druids will be hosting a raffle to raise funds for our “Land Acquisition Project”.  The basket will include lovely gifts from Rustic Revolutionary Pottery, Nude Bath Products, Mighty Oak Workshop, and much, much more. Tickets will go on sale at the event, so be sure to pick yours up for a chance to win a lovely basket of goodies.

Practising Mindfulness

There’s a certain amount of mental and physical preparation that goes into any task. Sometimes, it leads you to a very peaceful place and, other times, it brings on bouts of anxiety. Really, you make the choice.
As I rolled out of my yoga mat tonight, I noticed it was caked with some type of food (probably goldfish crackers lovingly left by my toddler)… initially, this was a little bothersome. I considered stopping what I was doing and cleaning rather than actually taking the time to care for myself.
In the end, I left the crackers and continued with my practice. It was well worth it. I was quickly able to center myself and be present.
While working my way through my flow, it occurred to me that the same could be said for all ritual practice. Some of us get anxious and bothered at the thought of performing ritual. Others embrace the chaos. The remainder just try to be in the moment and find it cleansing. I will forever strive to be the type of person who finds ritual practice purely cathartic. And I am almost there.
I wear a small pendant around my neck that is supposed to remind me to always be present, and I find I never need that more than just before going into ritual. So many things can go wrong: people get stressed, items go missing, children misbehave, and somehow you have to center and enjoy. But getting there is the ultimate gift to yourself. In the end, we don’t have a regular mass like some religions, and when we get to perform ritual, either solo or with our groves, we need to allow ourselves to embrace, enjoy, and be present.

Mabon Activities

With the Fall Harvest just around the corner, I thought it might be time for another lifestyle post, with some fun Mabon family/group-friendly activities.

Mabon is the second harvest and is celebrated at the Autumn Equinox. Mabon is the Welsh God of all things wild and free. He is also associated with the Sun God, whose power dies on this day. During Mabon, we give thanks to the spirit of vegetation for the sacrifices made so that we can live through the winter. The Goddess at this Sabbat is the grandmotherly crone, warm and wise.

  • Have a Pot Luck or Harvest Feast and share your harvested fruits and veggies. Give thanks and respect to the harvest and share stories of your plans for the coming winter months. It is good for everyone to share and be part of a group.

  • Take some time to prepare your yard for the coming winter months. Clean up garbage and branches. Maybe even extend your clean-up to a nearby park or around your neighbourhood. Kids can help tidy or play outside (fresh air is always great), and everyone benefits from helping our Mother Earth and having a clean space.

  • Create a decorative wreath or hanging for your front door using seasonal dressings like acorns, pine cones, and corn bundles. You can incorporate the colours of the season by using red, orange, and yellow ribbons to finish it off.

  • Honour the wildlife in your yard by making a homemade bird feeder and watching the wonderful friends it brings to your yard. (Below are basic instructions for making your own, with an easy-to-follow guide for children too.)

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Visit from the Regional Druid

This past weekend, we were graced by a visit from our Regional Druid, Jaime Cadorette-Thifault. She was an absolute delight.

In addition to showing her the local sights (Peggy’s Cove, Fisherman’s Cove, and several watering holes), we were lucky enough to have Jaime for a Welcoming Ritual where the Gods from multiple pantheons were hailed and gifts were exchanged.

It was an honour to play host to such a wonderful (and funny) woman, and we appreciate being included in her tour of the canadian groves.

A Declaration of Intolerance

In an effort to create a sense of solidarity for the right and good, while also taking a stand against such intolerance as racism and Nazism, the Grove of Nova Scotia Druids have added their name to a Declaration of Intolerance.

Please take a moment to read and consider.

www.pagandeclaration.com

Beltane Ritual

Beltane was a great time. We danced the may pole, shared delicious snacks, and had a wonderful ritual with Grove and friends.

During the ritual, we pulled two Oghams as usual and were met with the following: Blackthorn, which represents challenges, difficulty, and poison, followed by Yew, which represents access to ancestors, death, rebirth, and faith. Suffice to say, from great challenges come lessons, new life, and rebirth. We will embrace the challenges that are coming to us, knowing that the outcomes will be worth the efforts and struggle.

Good luck to you all with your Spring and Summer ventures and Blessed Beltane!