Seeing as today is kind of Midsummer (the ‘kind of’ stems from the fact that although today is the official Solstice tomorrow is actually just under a second longer, so I’m following the lead of the Stonehenge people and celebrating tonight instead of yesterday night.) I thought I’d tell you a little bit about how I celebrate.
The main way I mark both the summer and winter Solstices is to stay up during the shortest or longest night respectively with a lit candle, I light it when the sun goes down and blow it out when it comes back up. For me this symbolises caring for the sun and keeping it burning. I watch the sunset and then while away the hours listening to Druidcast, reading Celtic myths or just watching crap telly until the sunrise.
I have a few of rules for my nighttime vigils, the first is no long naps- during the winter Solstice I usually can’t stop myself from nodding off for an hour or so but I don’t allow myself to watch the sunset, go to sleep and wake up five minutes before the sunrise. It’s the being awake during the night that makes the Solstices special for me, I’ve always thought that at night our world is given into the hands of the Fay to do with what they will, and being awake and about at this time is being allowed a glimpse of their world.
The second and perhaps biggest rule is ‘no electric light’ this means no lamps, lights or torches (yes, I know torches are battery-powered) I do however make an exception for my laptop and the telly, which are needed to keep me awake! If you’re going to stay up all night during the Solstice then I urge you to try this, it makes the whole thing incredibly special and makes you feel closer to the ancestors than any amount of meditation. Just remember to stock up on candles.
Rule three is very important… don’t let the flame go out. I usually light a couple of candles for back up, but for me this is hugely important as it symbolises that I’ve been trusted with the flame of the Gods.
The optional fourth rule is to try and make sure the window remains open all night, for me this is just about connecting with the outside world.
If you want to try staying up all night for a Solstice then I highly recommend starting with the summer one! The Winter Solstice is a whole different ball game, trust me on that 🙂
My top tips would be:
Keep eating, have a lot of small meals throughout the night. I find that having food in my belly makes me feel more awake.
Make sure you have enough entertainment to really keep you focussed- now is not the time to try and read that really boring book you’ve been putting off since Yule!
Keep stretching… okay, maybe that’s just one for the Pagan contortionists out there… I always have a good stretch when I’m feeling lethargic and trying to stay awake.
Wear comfortable clothing but NOT nightclothes. This basically means don’t dress exactly as you would if you were about to go to sleep. For Solstices I wear my nightie, socks and massive hoodie (it doesn’t matter what time of year it is, it’ll always be cold in the small hours of the morning.)
Don’t get into bed. Trust me when I say that it’s the start of a long slippery slope… once you get into bed you start leaning back, then you start lying down, then you start closing your eyes and before you know it one of your candles has fallen over and your house is on fire.
*IMPORTANT* If you have lit candles then be very, very careful not to fall asleep! I’ve actually done this and a few other stupid things a couple of times but thankfully gotten away with it, I don’t plan on chancing my luck again and I advise you not to either.
Blessed be, have a lovely Midsummer whatever it is you’re doing!