Thursday 6.21 is the first day of Summer, the solstice, the longest day of light in the Northern Hemisphere. The alignment is exact at 3:07am PST. You can do the math.
I have been writing posts and columns related to the solstice since EdibleSpirit started formally in 2015. I try to offer content that helps to translate cosmic phenomena into accessible experience. RITUAL is done for exactly this reason - to symbolically embody principles, forces and phenomena that are typically beyond our everyday point-of-view. That’s the point! To step down stuff that is beyond us so that it is clearly and formally recognized within us and around us. Every time we do ritual we assert that we are one with all, different only in the frequency of our expression. We do ritual to re-trace the steps that seem to make us different until we remember that we are the same, and that everything is connected.
One of the most important aspects of doing ritual is the creation of sacred space. The key distinguishing feature of sacred space is that when you are within it, EVERYTHING has meaning. Every time I do a reading or a healing or teach a class, I open sacred space. That way, when a bird flies by at a certain moment or a wisp of smoke from the censer twists in just such a way, I know it is fair game to interpret it as part of the moment and the message that is coming through.
Sacred space becomes ritual space when you perform repetetive actions within that space- either those which have been done throughout the ages, or ones that feel right and meaningful to you here and now. The act of doing something every year when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky (aka the solstice) makes it a ritual automatically.
Why does this matter?
Because it is YOUR BODY that does ritual. As a human, you are the intermediary between the invisible forces of the heavens and the tangible matters on the Earth. When we do ritual we USE OUR BODIES to formalize our roles as witnesses of that which is beyond coming alive within us, and that which is within us MAGICALLY EXPANDING AND ROLLING OUT FROM US UNIMPEDED IN MIRACULOUS WAYS... The BODY is the anchor as the performer of the ritual, the witness of the ritual, and the meat which receives and distributes the benefits of the ritual: the energies being invoked, the gratitude being offered, and the alignment that is established and hopefully sustained.
As we move into this moment of the solstice, when the sun enters the sign of Cancer - the house of the mama, the boobs, the sensitive, the nourishing, the emo, the tides, the waves, the moon, the milk, the Mother, we offer a single word that can carry you through the whole season: CARE.
Remember what I always say: pain and sadness are directing your attention towards what needs to be healed… but in cancer season we can say they are pulling your focus towards what needs your CARE.
The moment of the summer solstice is a clarion call to CARE for yourself and your body and for all beings and their bodies. All of us, and all of our bodies matter and are deserving of care.
Cancers are typically thought of as being super sensitive. They have to be, otherwise they wouldn’t care enough. They are the mamas of the zodiac and so their hearts have to break all the time so they can remember everyone is a child, everyone is a mother, everyone deserves to be cared for. When the babies are neglected the mama bear roars and busts heads, not because she’s violent, but to save the babies. The tides ebb and flow with the phases of the moon, our mama, who rocks us into comfort by rocking the earth in the arms of her gravity.
But my favorite deet re: motherhood/Cancer is a question: WHAT DO YOU NEED IN ORDER TO OFFER YOURSELF ENDLESSLY TO ALL THE BABIES. I’ll make it easy, it has something to do with self care. We care for ourselves so we can care for others. What can you feed yourself so you can feed others? If you care for others but not yourself, you are useless to others because you will crap out. If you do too much self care without caring for others you are living a lifestyle, talking a talk, but not walking any kind of discernible walk.
This is why I talk about the EdibleSpirit Spectrum: From Self Care to Self Love to Self Expression. You care for yourself till you are full of self love, healing and balance, until you have enough to give some of that love away in the form of caring for others. When you crap out, care for yourself again, but then get back in the saddle and keep on caring.
During the Solstice, we have an opportunity to broadcast this relationship between self-care and care for each other by pausing to formally recognize this relationship.
This is why we are going to make this year’s solstice ritual centered around baby effigies.
You will need:
A candle, a bowl of water, a dish of salt, and some sage or incense.
A piece of cloth or scarf (for swaddling)
Paper and a writing implement
A doll or stuffed animal
- Before starting the ritual, do the writing work. On a few separate pieces of paper (they can be small) write:
“I care for my spirit
I care for my mind
I care for my heart
I care for my body”
“I promise to care for all of these aspects of my being, and ask that clear signs be provided immediately when the balance within them and between them is disturbed.”
“I promise to care for myself until I am strong enough, stable enough, and balanced enough to care for others.”
“I promise to care for others in the following ways
In my immediate circle:
In my community:
In my nation:
In my world:”
Seriously, fill in those blanks. Become accountable for what you’re going to do so that you can at the very least check off the boxes and make sure that you are doing what you can so that you don’t waste energy worrying and thinking about it all the time. Make the promise. THEN:
- Either cut open the doll or stuffed animal and fill it with your papers and sew it back up again, or just bundle them up with the doll and swaddle the baby in the fabric you’ve chosen. Now you’re ready to begin formally.
- Say aloud, “This is a ritual to honor the Summer Solstice and the Sun entering the sign of cancer. We gather today to give thanks for the light at its highest and brightest point in the sky and to rejoice in this light as it is at its strongest. We affirm the power of this light and this moment to carry our intention forward and outward to all beings everywhere in miraculous ways.”
- Now, create sacred space. Light your sage or incense and say “Welcome Air, thank you Air. Light your candle and say, “Welcome Fire, thank you fire.” Dip a finger in the water and say, “Welcome Water, thank you water.” Take a pinch of salt and sprinkle it around yourself in the shape of a circle and say, “Welcome Earth, thank you Earth.” Raise your hands above you and say, “Welcome Sky, Thank you Sky.” Touch the ground beneath you and say, “Welcome Mother, thank you Mother.” And now bring your hands to your hearts center and affirm, “I give thanks to the one heart, the heart that is my heart, the heart that is your heart, the center that is the center of all centers. Thank you.” Feel the sacred space you have just created. Do whatever you need to do to make it even more meaningful to you, music, dance, lipstick, cookies, whatever it is.
- Now say aloud. “SPIRIT, MAGIC, FORCES OF LIGHT, accept this offering of my body in this space and time as being dedicated to the care of myself and the care of all beings.”
- Now, pick up your baby effigy and hold it close to you. Rock the baby and begin to hum. Can be a song or a tune you know, or just big humming cooing noises (that’s what Ima do). Let the sounds of the humming be the medium through which your baby-effigy receives your love. Focus on the baby-effigy. Remember that everyone is a baby, everyone is a mama, everyone cares about something, and that by focusing on this baby effigy in sacred space you are sending this magical energy to all babies everywhere, aka everyone including yourself. And just love the crap out of that baby for as long as you can, rocking them, adoring them, giving them all the comfort and care you can muster. When you are done, thank your baby-effigy and lay it before you.
- Say Aloud, “May this simple act of affection and attention be the prevailing paradigm for the exquisite care of self and others. I am dedicated to care, of self and others. I affirm that there is no difference between self and others.” Then declare aloud, “AND SO IT IS.”
- Pause to receive any impressions, from the light, from your guides, from your ancestors, as the veil is said to be thin around these cosmic moments. Thank them all.
- Say aloud, “I offer thanks to the Mother, to the Sky, to the earth, water, fire and air. I declare this ritual complete. And so it is!”
- Now do a little dance and have some honey mead or something appropriately Solstice-y.
Don’t bother trying to be effective and accomplished in Cancer season. Go for safe, secure, and full of comfort. If you are uncomfortable because of babies being ripped away from their parents, give money, go to the border, call your reps. Don’t presume that the pain or sadness will go away if you ignore it. If you are uncomfortable because others are not being cared for, address that discomfort in yourself and take care of someone. Even if that someone is yourself… ESPECIALLY if that someone is your self. Luxuriate in your determination to nourish all beings everywhere, to hold the babies, to make them feel safe and loved and deeply contented. And remember we are all babies, we are all mothers.
With love and CARE-FULL light,