It is a word that has become deeply ingrained in the national psyche and yet appears at odds with modern accepted practice in terms of the changing of the seasons. These days, Midsummer actually signifies the beginning of the summer months, whereas back in the so-called dark ages, it is posited that only two seasons were acknowledged, namely Summer and Winter. As has been mentioned on other blogs, the Anglo-Saxon calendar was Luni-solar in as much as each Mōnað (Month) was governed by the phases of the moon, yet arguably the two most significant holy tides, Liða and Gēol (Midsummer and Yule respectively) fell on the two solstice days of the year, thus keeping everything “on track” as exact points of reference. Thus Midsummer fell in the middle of Summer and Yule in the middle of winter. Autumn and Spring were not specifically observed on their Equinoxes and today, many heathens, particularly Fyrnsidere, observe the changing of those seasons as part of the Winterfylleð (Winter full moon) and Wintersdēað (Easter) celebrations, being the first full moons after the equinoxes.
Midsumor is a time to celebrate the massive power of Sunne as she continues to pull her flaming chariot across the sky for the longest period of time in the year. She drives out the darkness for longer than any other day in the year, giving rise to the “longest day” which is celebrated as being the very height of her power. Consequently, we celebrate this in ritual format on the Summer Solstice.
As my praxis is entirely hearth-centric, and solitary, my rituals are both personal and perhaps somewhat solemn. The celebration of Midsumor evokes visions of people gathering in large numbers, singing, holding hands, basking in the warm glow of Sunne and then lighting a large fire in solidarity with that mighty Goddess, casting their offerings into the flames and proclaiming their deep gratitude for the light and warmth that She brings to our hearts and souls. As a solitary practitioner, such a celebration is far more muted in comparison, however I present it below from memory so as to assist any others who are in a similar position but seeking some sort of steer about what to do.
I began my ritual by cleansing myself and then my wīgbed (altar). For me this involves a simple process of washing my hands and face with warm water only. As discussed previously, water is a liminal substance that is of major importance to the Fyrnsidere. It helps us to connect with the numinous.
For the cleansing of the wīgbed I light a candle and passed the flame three times Sunwise around my wīgbed, calling to Þunor to hallow the space and make it sacred. Whilst my wīgbed is already dedicated to the Gods and Goddesses, this ritual cleansing helps me to not only ground myself but to set the tone for the use of the wīgbed and reinforce the use of it as a sacred space.
My wīgbed is situated in our garage on a shelf midway up the wall. To remain in contact with the wīgbed for ritual purposes, I therefore remain standing as opposed to kneeling which is perhaps more standard practice.
I then called to Nerþuz as a liminal deity to allow me communion with the divine. To me, Nerþuz acts as a gatekeeper between Middangeard and the other worlds and represents a threshold between worlds. Wada is often used as a deity for this function also, particularly when water is used at the wīgbed. I am comfortable using water or soil from my homestead for this function. If using water, my preference is to use rainwater or standing water from within the garden or grounds of my homestead so that the element used is within my personal control and thus more relevant to the ritual coming from within my Innangeard. Whilst petitioning to Nerþuz to allow me communion, I place the soil upon a small dish on the wīgbed, ensuring I am touching the soil whilst doing so.
Some light incense at this stage whilst making further prayers or supplications, however I use herbs growing in my garden, rubbing these between my palms to evoke a strong scent as incense sticks are not practical in my garage. I prayed to Nerþuz at this point, calling to Her as Eorþan Modor to thank Her for the fertility of my gardens and the produce She has given not only to my heorþ but to the animals and insects that frequent it. She is a deity of life, as well as death and thus I also give thanks to Her for receiving the dead leaves, animals, plants and insects within the boundary of my heorþ, thus ensuring the continuing life-death-rebirth cycle.
My intention for the Midsomer ritual was to make offering to Sunne but also to Ingui, who I had previously petitioned and made offering to when my wife and I were seeking pregnancy at the end of last year. We had just been blessed with the birth of my second daughter and thus it was important to me to show my gratitude to Ingui by making Him a further offering, and to Sunne for blessing us with warmth and light during the period following my daughter’s birth. To enable these offerings to pass to Ingui and Sunne, I petitioned Frīg as Heorþmodor to ferry the offerings to Ingui and to Sunne. Frīg is a protector of children as another aspect of Her many functions and therefore this seemed particularly appropriate to me for the ritual. I also prayed to Her in gratitude for the health and wellbeing of my children whilst again crushing herbs in my palms, the scent an offering of supplication to Her.
I then recited a prayer to Ingui and then to Sunne. These I do not prepare ahead of time, though many do. I speak from the heart, clearly and with feeling. I say who I am and who they are to me, what they mean to me and express my gratitude to them and why I am making them an offering. I petitioned Sunne to continue to light the darkness in my life and to help me see clearly the threats to my heorþ and to my folc. To Ingui I petitioned Him to help me connect with my ancestors and to draw upon their strength in supporting my heorþ.
To Ingui I then made an offering of mead and to Sunne I made an offering of a dedicated candle to burn through the darkness in solidarity with Her as the days will now begin to draw in. I was careful to ensure the candle was not unattended for safety reasons.
I then thanked both Sunne and Ingui for hearing my petitions, Frīg for conveying my gits and I then called once more to Nerþuz to close the gates to the numinous, thus ending the ritual.
I would recommend to anyone looking to create their own rituals to take a good look at the Lārhūs Fyrnsida website which has an excellent article on Ritual Format which I will link here.