In my own celebrations of this holy time I have honored Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, and my rituals have often revolved around the theme of the Goddess' sacred sexual passions. And women's too. I think this is one of the deepest of women's mysteries; the time when we fall in love. I think the Goddess falls in love too... especially at this time of year. And if you look at the year Wheel, you can see that nine months later it's Spring Equinox, when Kore or the Maiden Goddess is born. This alligns so nicely with Summer Solstice as a time of conception, fertility, and pregnancy. And since Milk is the next Women's Mystery at Lammas (August 1,2, a harvest holiday), we can even see Solstice as a time of Birth as well.
We are in the Mother season, as the Goddess has grown through Her Birth andHer Bloods, evolved through Her Maiden stage on the Year Wheel, and now comes full on into Her sexuality. In earlier times the aspectsof Mother and Lover were not so separated as they are in patriarchy.They both coincide with the full moon of the year... Summer Solstice... as well as the full moon. Bringing these archetypes back together, both within ourselves as well as in society, can be a great Healing.
I'm concerned that the Women's Mystery aspect of our eight solar holy days is still not emphasized much among contemporary pagans and witches. Thank Goddess that folks do honor the earth and her seasons, and this tradition is still going strong. That's all part of the Mystery, in my belief. But it's not the Whole if it omits the partthat honors women and our magic passages.
In more recent years as my experience and understanding have grown, Ihave brought more faery awareness into my Solstice celebrations. I love seeing this part of the magic emerging around the internet and among pagansof various stripe as well. I've come to see that Aphrodite and the Faery Queen are related... upper and lower world aspects of the same archetypal principle... Her bright and dark sides.
Several times, when I was holding Solstice circle in my home, wehad two parts to our ritual... first a circle in the temple where we would work on healing the lover part of ourselves. I sometimes made winged-heart-crowns for all the sisters to wear, with red hearts and golden wings to represent both Love and Freedom. Sometimes I brought in this song:
Life came to me while I lay sleeping
And in each hand She brought a gift for me
One heldLove, the other Freedom
"Which do you choose?" said she...
I'm the one who chose the gift of Freedom
When Love was offered in Life's other hand
What need have I to cry I'm lonely?
When I can walk unbound through man's wasteland?
"You've chosen well," she said, and bent to kiss me
"For now I can come to you again,
"And when I come, two gifts I'll bring you,
"But then the two shall be in one hand."
Song: "The Choice"
copyright Shekhinah Mountainwater
All rights reserved
Or one time I brought in the Song of the Silkie Woman and we talked about her story and the way she walked back into the sea when her human husband was abusive to her...
The second part of the ritual took place out in the garden. All bedecked in our ritual gowns and winged-heart crowns, we processed to the tiny grove I cleared between our three apple trees, Isadora, Olwen, and Melpomene. We brought offerings for the Faery Queen and shared them beneath the trees. Isadora has a wonderful yoni-shaped opening in her trunk, and we poured pomegranate juice into her... :0)
Some sisters brought a poem or a prayer... some hung jewels and other gifts in Isadora's branches. We spiraled and twined around Isadora and hugged her as well as each other...
I've written a lot about Aphrodite and Summer Solsticeover the years. You can see some of my musings at my website here:
This is thecave I'm building for Summer Solstice... not completed yet, but there is already a lot posted... it's in the Thealagie section of my website, along with write-ups for almost all the other eight. I just have two more to go; Habondia (8/1,2) and Persephone (Autumn Equinox)...
In this cave you can see my altar to Aphrodite. Scroll down to see my litany of love, a poem called In Remembrance...and further down you'll find links to the Shrine Library. In the Library is an article about my work with love spells... some of my failures as well as suggested love magic sisters can use if they wish...
Does anyone else feel that the solar holy days last more than a day? It seems to me one day doesn't cover all the powerful energy around these times. I've already come to see that Winter Solstice has 13 days... and Hallowe'en seems to last at least a week. Not sure how long Aphrodite's holiday lasts; maybe three days, maybe a week?
A psychic once told me that faeries came down from the mountain with me over 20 years ago, when I moved from the woods to town with my children. She said they have taken up residence in my garden and my hair. :0) (I had a lot of hair back then! LOL!) I'm sure they are still here, throughout the house and garden, and even though I've lost my hair. :0) I love connecting with them at this time of year... I sense their presence. Those who have chosen to dwell in this environment where I live are beautiful and loving. They are joyous and benevolent and delighted to be recognized.
I've come to see that all the sacred Eight contain elements of death and birth... as each one approaches the previous season wanes and the next one is born. At Spring Equinox, mystery of Birth, we die to the Spirit Realm as we are born into our Mother's womb. At Beltane, mystery of Blood we die to our Childhood and are born into our Womanhood. At Summer Solstice and Lammas, mysteries of Passion and Nurturance, we die to our separateness and are born into our Lover/Mother merging. At Autumn Equinox, mystery of Moonpaws (menopause) we die to our Mother/Lover mergings and are born again into separateness as we journey into the underworld and let go of our bleeding... travel inward to discover our Magic and connect with the Crone...
And yet all the stages stay with us through all the stages. :0) We take that inner Child with us even when we are doing Mother, Lover, or Crone... We take that wise Crone with us when we become Child again... it's like a series of echoes all dancing in and out of one another...
Happy and Magic Aphrodite to you all!
Group hug anyone? :0)
PS: I'm posting this to all three of our witchy groups because I think we all are connecting with this sacred time and so with each other...