So as you all know by now if you've seen my new photos, I went to a summer solstice party last night at a local park. I'm going to talk a bit about it because it was such a powerfully spiritual experience for me.
But before I get into it, I want to start by saying I'm very open minded when it comes to spirituality and religion. I don't subscribe to any particular belief and I respect everyone's right to chose their faith and expect the same in turn. I love talking about religion because of how greatly it effects society but not when someone get's belligerent about it. I've had people shove the Bible in my face and tell me I'm going to hell if I don't totally believe in God and Jesus and Heaven. But if that's the case, I know it says somewhere in that Bible that it's for God to decide who goes where...not you. so don't give me that, please.
Now then, the reason why I'm including that little disclaimer is because the summer solstice is a rather pagan festival. It celebrates the renewal of the earth and when Gaia (mother earth) is at her most giving. I'm no expert in this so I'm not going to get into all the details of it, if you care to learn about it, feel free to look it up (I recommend using books to research this because the internet is full of pages that tell you that wicca is devil worship...and its NOT! ((I seriously need to do a rant about this at somepoint cause it pisses me off...))). So a lot of what I'm going to talk about is very ritual and might get people up in arms. If you do and want to talk about it more, go for it, leave a comment, tell me your opinion...just don't be all like, "you stupid witch! you're going to hell!" cause I'll really just laugh at you and picture you like the monty python people demanding they burn the innocent women as a witch...*giggle*
okay, enough delaying, I've probably lost half my readers to the boredom of the disclaimer...
So last night at the summer solstice spin jam I met a lot of amazing people from all walks of life. I wish I had worked harder to meet more. We talked about our poi toys, fire toys, jobs, backgrounds, hobbies, just random stuff. some people pulled out their drums and beat a rhythm for us to spin to. I danced and spun poi, tried to teach a little girl how to spin, I face painted for one of the leaders (he was having people paint symbols for the elements on his face, a flower on his forhead for earth, waves for water on his right cheek, I did the dove for air on his left cheek and a huge fire blazed through his beard, fire was the main focus element of the evening). In the meantime more and more peopel were gathering and the sun was setting beneath the distant horizen.
well after dark, the people in charge started handing out small pieces of paper and pencils for people to write their intentions for the new year and things they wanted to release from the past year. we were also handed candles. Then we gathered in a huge circle, there were upwards of 50-60 people gathered at this celebration of life. Someone walked around the circle with a smudgestick, burning sage, to clear away bad spirits and bless each of us.
The man whose face I painted a dove on began to invoke the elements starting with the wind. Now, it was a very calm night, not much of a breeze but when he was done invoking the wind, a huge gust burst through the trees. Coinsidence? Maybe...but we all cheered anyways, the wind had heard us and joined our circle. next was the water. now, afterwards it didn't rain or anything to signify that water had "heard" us. but someone's dog who had recently jumped in a lake shook himself off right after the invokation, spraying 7 or 8 people nearby. good enough in my book, we all laughed. The earth was invoked and I didn't notice anything strange afterwards, followed by fire. The ceremonial fire was lit in the center alter that faced the south. Next someone lit a candle and we then lit our candles from there. At this point I noticed the crowd that we had gathered and saw some guys standing shyly outside our circle. I waved and yelled for them to join us. We got them some candles and paper to write their intentions and we held hands. Even some older women joined our circle, I could tell they felt a little out of place but it made me really happy to see them participate. I love seeing open-mindedness in people! We all started to chant, "Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath and fire my spirit" over and over. Gradually it turned into a song as people began to improvise and some started to drum.
so after our candles were lit, we sat and just focused on our intentions and when we were done with them we went to the center fire and tossed the paper in. burning it and giving it up for Gaia. With what I wrote on that little sheet, it felt really good to see it burn away and let it go.
after the ritual, we were all still in a circle, some people talking, some drumming, some people fighting to keep their candle alight. Then I saw a couple of girls pull out fire palms (things that attatch to your hands and stick out about 4-6 inches away with a wick on one end for fire) and they began to dance in the circle. Not to be outdone, I pull out my fire fans, jump in the circle and light them. I let myself go to the rhythm if the drums and just danced away. It was mesmerizing. after blowing those out I lit my monkey fist poi set and spun those for a good while. someone was kind enough to take some photos for me while I spun too. I had never spun in a group like this before and it was one of the most amazing experiences to share with so many people. On average there were 3 people spinning some kind of fire toy in the center of the circle. Definately fun trying to dodge one another but we generally had enough space and no one was hurt. one of the poi balls caught on my elbow so I've got a spot on my arm that has no hair left...but it didn't hurt at all. when I was too tired to spin anymore, someone started fire breathing outside the circle. I got some pretty good shots of that too.
I left out a lot of the evening, but most of it was off topic and probably boring to anyone but me...hell, this whole thing could be boring to anyone but me...but that's okay, it's nice to have this down somewhere for me to remember anyway. I wanted to share this experience with people because it is like nothing I have ever done before. I felt welcomed, warm and like I belonged there with these total strangers. And yet no one was trying to sell me their ideas, there was no talk of religion. we were just there to celebrate the earth together. I probably sound horribly cheesy now, but it's really something you have to experience yourself to understand. If anyone has had a powerful spiritual experience, you'll know what I mean.
I can't wait until my next spin jam! next time I'll meet even more people and maybe learn some new tricks. I hope you enjoyed what I shared of my experience.
Happy Summer everyone, and Blessed Be