5 Ways Heathens Can Celebrate the Summer Solstice
Ah, it’s already June again, which means we’re almost at Summer Solstice. Saturday, June 20th is the solstice, which marks the longest day of the year. This is the time when we celebrate the spring and summer gods and goddesses such as Freyr, Freyja, Baldr, Thor, and Sif, as well as Sunna. Here are five ways you can enjoy the solstice, even though you may still have to be careful with COVID-19.
Get Up and Greet the Sunrise
Okay, this is for those early birds who can get up and greet the new day. Or, for those of us who are night owls, who stay up long enough to see dawn break. The rest of you mere mortals will probably be a bit bleary-eyed for this. Even so, prepare a blot and offer it to Sunna, the wights, the ancestors, and to the gods and goddesses of summer.
Leave Summer Solstice Offerings to the Gods and Wights at Your Outdoor Altar
Thank the gods and goddesses for another year, and leave them offerings for good harvests and health. Don’t forget the wights and the ancestors either, especially when it comes to good harvests on the summer solstice. The local wights are said to make the difference between a good harvest and a bad one. So, even if you’re agnostic about wights, like I am, err on the part of superstition and offer them something. Don’t have an outdoor altar? Use this day to make one now! Follow this link for how to create an easy-to-make outdoor altar.
Do Something Outdoorsy
The best way to celebrate the summer solstice is to get outdoors and do something that helps you enjoy the long daylight. This includes simple things like taking a walk, going hiking, going fishing, or doing some type of activity that involves getting outdoors. With COVID-19, remember to keep your distance from people who are not in your household, and to wear masks if you’re heading somewhere people are present.
Sorry to be a killjoy about it, but we’re still in the midst of a pandemic. So, go outside, but do so responsibly.
Hold a Pork Feast for Your Family
Plan on preparing pork for your dinner on the summer solstice, whether it is pork chops, a pork roast, or even a ham. Pigs are special to Freyr, so having pork is a good way to celebrate the god. So, crack open that bottle of mead and offer a toast to the gods, along with those who live with you to Sunna, Baldr, Freyja, and Freyr.
Tend to Your Garden
You do have a garden, don’t you? Even if it’s only a few herb pots or flowers, give them extra care today. Summer solstice is the longest day of the year when photosynthesis is at its peak due to all that sun. Even if it’s cloudy, the daylight provides extra time for growth.
I hope I’ve given you some cool ideas for this solstice. Let me know what you’re planning on doing for the summer solstice in the comments.
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Do I Have to Join Sex Rites as a Heathen?
Oh boy! The Rational Heathen gets to weigh in when it comes to sex rites. Look, before we get started, if you’re all for sex rites, orgies, and kink in your life, this post isn’t for you. You can merrily go about your business and have fun. No, this is for those folks who are a bit on the uncomfortable side when it comes to joining in a sex rite that is purportedly Heathen.
A little bit of background: I’ve been doing research on Aleister Crowley, the occultist and sexual deviant who started his own religion, Thelema. His…ahem…antics, are somewhat legendary. So, I thought this is one area I haven’t really touched on (pardon the pun) and I figure it’s something you probably would enjoy reading about.
Let’s Talk Sex
My topic for today’s discussion is no doubt going to get some panties in a wad. I expect that. Everyone has their own comfort level with sex–heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual. Some folks are closer to celibate and some are swingers. Some are into BDSM. What you do in your bedroom and is between consenting adults is pretty much your business. A large number of heathens are gay and lesbian, according to interesting polls. That being said, let me reiterate: what you do in your bedroom and is between consenting adults is pretty much your business. I’m not talking about you. No, I’m talking about coerced sex rights. I’m talking about people who claim you can only know a god or goddess if you perform sex with them or their members.
Anyone Can Communicate with Our Gods
Before we get any further on the sex thing, let me explain. Our gods are not the institutionalized gods of the Judaeo-Christian beliefs. We don’t need priests, pastors, priestesses, gothi, gythia, or whatever to communicate with our gods. Our gods are listening. They are present, but not omnipresent. We do have to make an effort to communicate with them. But they don’t exclusively talk to the local priest or priestess. They may have more conversations with the gods due to their work, but a lay person can establish a relationship with gods, goddesses, and wights. No sex required.
My Own Experience
I’m not a prude, nor am I celibate. That being said, I had an interesting experience once when I was first getting into Heathenry. Tyr had contacted me some time before and I was going on the Internet in search of information. Eventually I landed on a site of a rather well-known Heathen. This Heathen had a website which looked pretty decent. Suddenly, I felt Tyr’s presence and he said flatly, “That person is full of shit. Stay away from them.”
I honestly couldn’t see the problem. The information looked decent enough, but I trust Tyr. It was a couple of years later when Tyr’s words proved spot on. I ran across several conversations how this person used their students for sex rites. Now, I don’t know the entire situation, but when a mentor starts using students for sex, it is a violation of trust. Sure, they might be willing, in the hopes of gaining more knowledge or favors from the fertility and sex gods, but seriously? It is taking advantage of another person. And that, my friend, is where I have a huge issue with it.
And I will call them a charlatan, because if they can’t teach without fucking, they’re not looking to teach you anything other than how they get their rocks off or how wet you make them. Remember: they don’t have the exclusive direct line to the gods and goddesses. In fact, I would state they don’t have a line to the Heathen gods because if they expect something from you that is freely given from the gods, they aren’t in this for teaching people. They’re in it to use and abuse people.
But What About Freyr and Freyja?
Ah, so what about Freyr and Freyja? Aren’t they sex gods? Well, yeah. And yeah, they do show up when you have sex. But they don’t need you to fuck a gothi or gythia — your significant other or boyfriend or girlfriend whom I would imagine you feel something towards works just as nicely. And celibates can communicate with both of them just as easily as well. (I’ll leave that to your imagination.) And both of the Vanir are pretty receptive outside of sex, too.
The tl:dr Upshot
I suspect if you got this far, you did read this piece. That being said, if you feel uncomfortable running around naked (aka sky-clad), having sex with a gothi or gythia, having sex with someone you don’t know or barely know, having sex as a ritual, or having forms of sex you don’t want (BDSM, homosexual, heterosexual, or any sex that might be considered deviant), you should not ever have to do that. The gods and goddesses will hear you just fine and they don’t require sex rites. Anything else is coercion by someone who wants to use you. Don’t fall for it.
Four Ways to Make Easter Not Suck
Easter has never been my favorite time, largely because it’s a Christian holiday that is pretty much a celebration of their death-cult god. Even when I was growing up, other than getting Easter baskets with lots of yummy chocolate, all I remember is having to get dressed up and go to church and afterwards a brunch that was maybe okay. (Never mind the fact that ham was the main dish, ahem…in honor of Freyr.)
Sure, we can quibble whether Eostre was really an Anglo-Saxon goddess or not, but it really doesn’t matter much if you’re a solitary Heathen among Christians. Sure, you can go through the motions and celebrate the season with family, but I’ve come up with some interesting ways to make Easter not suck.
Make Easter a Celebration to Freyr, Freyja, and Eostre
Okay, maybe Eostre existed in Anglo-Saxon lore, and maybe she didn’t. That’s okay. We know Freyr and Freyja exist and we can use Easter as a time to celebrate the gods and goddesses of spring. That means creating yummy meals, doing blots, and celebrating like it’s a time to celebrate — that is, the beginning of new life.
Have a roast pig dish, crack open a bottle of mead, and celebrate the spring. Got Christians in your family? Well, how would they know this is for our gods and not theirs?
This past Yule, I didn’t get my Christmas cookies made, so I figure now is as good of time as any to make roll out cookies. Luckily I have more than just Christmas shapes. In fact, one of my sisters gave me a Star Wars cookie cutter set, because nothing says Christmas like Star Wars. So, I figure Easter is as good as any for cookies that I can enjoy. (ETA: Munching on them right now.)
Go Have Fun While the Christians are in Church
Look, not everything in the United States shuts down on Easter (I can’t say that with certainty in other countries), so why not catch that movie you’ve wanted to see, go to the attractions that are normally mobbed other times of the year, or plan doing something that is just plain fun while the Christians are getting the megadose of guilt in church? Look, just because they’re insistent on getting all formal to impress other people in church doesn’t mean we have to sit around and mope. Celebrate Easter with a favorite movie, meal, or go outdoors and enjoy nature.
Or do what we do, and go rabbit hunting. “Hey, it’s the Easter bunny!” Blam!
It’s Sunday, and unless you have to work on Easter, just sleep in and relax. Nobody is telling you to get up for the crack of dawn sunrise service. Look, you’ll probably be doing that on Winter Solstice and Summer Solstice, so why bother for a day that has no meaning to you?
Do Some Eostre Egg Dyeing and Hiding
If you feel the need to enjoy the holiday, why not hard boil some eggs and use natural dyes to color them? Here are recipes which teach you how to make natural colored dyes easily. If you do put on an Eostre egg hunt, be sure to count the number of eggs you hid. otherwise a few days later you’ll find the egg with your nose.
I am certain there are other things you can do to make Easter more enjoyable. Let me know what you do.
Hail the Goddesses and Gods of Spring
As we approach the vernal equinox, winter starts to lose her icy grasp and spring slowly slips in. Spring for me means mud season, which isn’t something I or my livestock particularly enjoy. One of my goats gave birth on the Ides of March to a lovely buckling. I had to come up with makeshift quarters for them and bring the kids inside at night due to the cold and predators. I’m now on kid watch for the last pregnant doe of the season, which means checking on her every couple of hours. Yay me. Hence the lateness of the blogs.
Here up north, we’re still in Skadi’s grasp, although the winter goddess is slowly relenting to the gentle hands of the spring goddesses and gods. These goddesses and gods are powerful in their own right, and while we may not know everything about them, I think we can make some good assumptions about them. Let’s look at them.
|Courtesy of Magickal Graphics|
Eostre or Ostara
If you want to start up an argument between Heathens or between Heathens and Christians, mention Eostre, the Anglo Saxon goddess of spring and rebirth. (In German, it’s believed to be Ostara.) A goodly portion of recons think that Eostre was simply the name of April and St. Bede suggested it was the name of a goddess when it wasn’t. Christians will accuse you of trying to undermine Easter if you mention it. Nevertheless, if you wish to enjoy a feast day to Eostre, do it. I have a whole post dedicated to Eostre and why I think she was probably a real goddess.
In Urglaawe, practitioners believe in the goddess Oschdra (Ostara?) who gives the Oschter Haws (Easter Rabbit) the ability to spread color throughout the world in the spring. The Oschter Haws was brought into Pennsylvania by German settlers where the Easter rabbit laid colorful eggs.
That being said, if you’re an Eostre believer, celebrate with candy, colored eggs, bunny rabbits, and chicks. (The candy, incidentally, is a later addition of more modern times.) Have fun and enjoy yourself. Make an offering to Eostre for the spring.
Idunn, of the golden apples fame, is the goddess of spring, renewal, and immortality, is certainly a terrific goddess to honor in the springtime. She’s interesting not only because she’s a powerful goddess, who keeps the gods young, but she wasn’t born into the Aesir or Vanir (though you can make a case for her being Vanir, being a goddess of fertility.) She hails from alfar blood, making her one of the Elves.
She’s particularly important because without her, the gods would grow old and die. Her apples bring youth to those gods who do age.
When talking about spring, I feel that you simply must include Freyja. Freyja is a Vanir and a fertility goddess. Without Freyja we would have no beginnings when it comes to new life. She is literally the conception of life, and my own UPG suggests spring is indeed her time. As such a powerful goddess, she has many roles: goddess of war, love, beauty, seidr, and death.
If Freyja one of the quintessential goddesses of spring, Freyr is one of the gods of spring. One could make the argument (successfully, I might add), that he is a summer god. But Freyr also has the duty of gestation and growth. He is the male god of fertility, but he is often associated with germination. It just makes sense he is a fitting god for spring.
If you think about Easter celebrations, you’ll note that a traditional Easter meal is a ham. No surprise there. I’ve read that Christianity was happy enough to incorporate the pagan traditions of eating ham at Easter when ham was originally eaten in honor of Freyr. As Heathens, having a traditional ham dinner is certainly a great way to celebrate spring and Freyr.
On first blush, Thor seems out of place in the list of deities having to do with spring. But the thunderer is certainly considered a god who brings the rains which helps the fields to grow. Little wonder that he is married to Sif, who is a spring/summer goddess in her own right. Thor presides over the wind, rain, and even the crops. It makes sense that he is considered a major god and one who presides over spring and summer.
If Thor brings about rain to the crops, it is Sif, his wife, who receives the rain. She’s definitely a fertility goddess and an earth goddess. The story about how Loki cuts her golden hair and must find a substitute for her is a suggestion that her hair is the wheat crops. (Incidentally, cutting a woman’s hair was a sign that she was unfaithful — something to think about when reading that Loki found his way into her bedroom and cut her hair while she was sleeping.) But, I digress here. Sif is certainly an earth goddess and spring and summer is her time.
Honoring the Gods and Goddesses of Spring
Sigrblot usually comes in April and is celebrated with offerings to Freyr and Freyja. Most pagans consider May 1st as a celebration time of spring which includes Walpugisnach. While it may be a more modern interpretation of the Heathen calendar, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy it. Unless you’re a member of the recon rabble, there’s no reason why you can’t adopt Heathen and pagan traditions your own holidays as you see fit.
I mentioned coloring eggs and rabbits as part of the Eostre celebrations. Even if there wasn’t an Eostre, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take our older Heathen traditions that survived and changed, and make them in honor of the spring goddesses and gods you do wish to venerate. I think they will be pleased.
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