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Midsummer is coming up at the end of this week (or Litha, or the Summer Solstice, however you’d prefer).  Here are a few things you can do on the Summer Solstice/Midsummer to keep that Druidic spirit alive – without necessarily doing a formal ritual:

  • Get up before sunrise and go somewhere to watch the sun come up. Then, stay up until sunset and watch the sun go down. It’s the longest day of the year – so honor the WHOLE day. (Yes, that means getting up at the ass crack of dawn. It won’t hurt for one day.) If you can do this at your home, lighting incense to mark the passage of the sun is a nice touch.
  • Grill something! Especially since a lot of places frown on outdoor bonfires, a grill is a good substitute, and you can make incense offerings to the coals.
  • Eat fresh, local, seasonal produce. Depending on where you are, this will vary widely. Here in the Swamp, that means sweet corn, tomatoes, beans, and squash, but berries are on their way out of season here already, as it’s getting quite hot. We’re just starting to get good peaches here too, but they really need another month. Watermelons, however, are in their prime.
  • Charge water with the power of the sun – place water in a bowl (covered lightly to keep out flies – I use a white flour sack towel) and let it sit in the sunlight all day (you’ll have to move it). Then use this water in rituals where you need a little extra oomph – I like to use Sun Water in my well, since I’m not close to natural fresh water that’s acceptable to use in my Well without endangering my cats! (It’s all mucky brackish stuff around here)
  • Make a Sun Wreath (or bouquet) – gather as many sunny flowers as you can, fresh, dried or silk all work, and arrange them as decoration in your home. I like to keep a very brightly colored yellow and orange wreath on my front door during this season. This is also appropriate altar decor, especially if you’re doing a ritual to honor Sunna or Sol.
  • Cook with fresh, summery herbs – basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and sage are all thriving at this time of year. In some places parsley and cilantro are in season as well. Cooking with fresh, summery herbs always helps me connect to the season. I especially like making a salad with fresh basil and fresh ripe tomatoes, with a little olive oil and salt. Yum!
  • Make Sun Cookies! These are regular sugar cookies (of whatever recipe you like) cut out with a sun-shaped cookie cutter. Or just in big rounds with yellow frosting. These can be shared with the office for a special treat, and everyone will love you for bringing them sugar.
  • Wear sunny colors – on purpose and with purpose. Your wardrobe doesn’t have to be part of your special celebrations, but if (like me) you’ll be in a cubicle for most of the Solstice day, wearing something sunny – and getting outside at lunch for a few minutes – can help keep me in a good frame of mind.

Any and all of these things can be done without anyone looking twice at what you’re doing, but they all honor the strength of the sun at this time of year, and help keep you in the spirit of the Solstice. I’ll be doing a number of these, along with my actual celebrated Solstice ritual, and will probably spread them out over a few days to remember that this is as much a season as it is a specific date.

Blessed Midsummer!

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Since this weekend is Memorial Day, many of us in the USA will be inaugurating the summer cook out and grilling season.*

As such, especially with Memorial Day being a time to remember the men and women who died in the Armed Forces, it’s a good time to do a little covert Druidry at your cookout. Once the main meal is cooked, stop by the grill with a handful of loose herbs or incense (crumbled incense sticks work too), and offer them to the fire as an offering to the Ancestors of the land and the warrior Ancestors (or any Ancestors, if you are not celebrating Memorial Day). Say a prayer thanking them for their service to their community and to their upholding their virtues. (You don’t have to be all RAH RAH PATRIOTISM to appreciate these Ancestors, but if you’re more comfortable, you can make an offering this way to ancient warrior ancestors instead, or any familial ancestors, as Memorial Day was developed out of earlier Decoration Day customs where people picnicked and decorated familial graves. )

This works best if you’re cooking over charcoal, since there will be hot coals to use. I’m not sure how you’d do it over a propane grill, but maybe just place the incense/herbs on a piece of foil on the grill over the heat?

You can make an offering to the “fire” any time you’re grilling or cooking out, especially over charcoal. I make land spirit offerings this way, just to help me remember that I can build my religious practice into my everyday life.

*Note: grilling hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, and chicken is not a barbecue. It’s a cookout. Barbecue involves slow cooking and smoking meats, and is a specific food. This is an important distinction, regardless of whether you put a bottle if barbecue sauce on the table as a condiment.

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(note: this has nothing to do with the Lou Reed song, it just happens to be stuck in my head this morning, and seemed appropriate for the subject at hand.)

Get outside today and touch something.

It doesn’t have to be dramatic, and you don’t have to tell anyone you’re doing it. Just take 5 minutes, get outside, and engage your sense of touch in the natural world. Feel its wildness, or tameness, or both. Touch the bark of a tree – is it rough or smooth, warm from the sun or cool or cold? Touch the ground – is it warming in the early spring, or snow-covered, or frozen hard?

See if you can find the wild side, there in your neighborhood or backyard or courtyard. We often put nature into idyllic boxes, only seeing the tamed versions that surround us in cities and neighborhoods and parks, idealizing what is truly an often chaotic force, but the wild side is still there.

See if you can feel it, underneath the quiet exterior.

What is that like?

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I’m a Druid of the Office more than any other specific place, even though I try very hard to do daily devotions with my landbase. As such, I’ve tried a number of ways to make my little corner of this cubicle (which I share with other people) as Druid-friendly as possible. Plants have really helped warm up my space.

If you’re also an office-bound pagan, try getting a plant or terrarium for your desk (something that will tolerate low light, unless you have a window). Use it as a focus for 3 breath meditations when things get stressful and enjoy the extra oxygen!

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Find a jar candle that smells super yummy and keep it on your stove. After you’ve cooked and cleaned up dinner, light the candle to the Gods of your Home and Hearth and let it burn for awhile, filling your kitchen with delicious smells and reminding you of the Kindreds. If you have a hearth goddess (like Brigid) this is a good devotion to dedicate to her, but it also works just to keep a home hearth as well.

Right now I have an evergreen scented candle that I’m burning, but I also really like cinnamon and the various yummy-baked-goods-smelling ones.

This is a good time to say a quick prayer of blessing and protection for your home as well!

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After yesterday’s post, I realized there was an opportunity for a good Secret Druid Tip buried in the tarot reading.

Divination tools on your smartphone!

They’re convenient, inconspicuous, and provide you with a ready tool for communicating with the Kindreds.

I have my smartphone with me all the time. If I’m ever in a situation where I have a pressing question, I can get a tarot reading from my Mystic Dreamer Tarot app, which has read surprisingly well for me, even though I can’t actually shuffle the cards myself! There are a number of different tarot deck apps, but I highly recommend this one.

For runes, I have less experience, but a quick search turned up an app called Runes by Netistry as well as The Runes: A Human Journey by PiSoft Consulting. (These are both for the iPhone; I don’t have an android device (yet) but I imagine similar apps are available there as well). I’m sure there are others, and most for a good deal less than a purchased set of runes – even travel sized ones. I couldn’t find an ogham app on the apple store, but hopefully one will come along soon (or perhaps a Druid will develop one?)

Do I still prefer real cards and sticks and runes? Yes, of course. But given that I can’t always have them with me, it’s really nice to have them on my phone as well.

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If you’re like me, one of your favorite parts of New Years is picking out (and writing in the important dates on) a new calendar. This is an easy place to bring Druidry into your home or office decor in a way that’s really unobtrusive to others, but blatantly obvious to you. Pick a calendar that reminds you of nature or the Kindreds, and use it as a focus to remain mindful and aware of those forces around you.

If you like the monthly, wall calendar kind (or the page-a-week organizer/desktop kind), take a moment and write in the Holy Days while you write in all your cousins’ birthdays. Full and new moons are other good things to add. If you like the page-a-day kind, the imagery will be daily, and you can use the moment where you tear off each page as a cue for a 9 breath meditation and reflection.

And remember, if possible, to get a calendar that’s made of recycled paper, and make sure you put the torn pages in the recycling bin!

Edit: I was asked how and where I got my dates for these calendars, and why sometimes they have different times or dates listed. Usually a difference in date is caused by timezones. I use the US Military Observatory’s data, which you can get here, for moon phases. Keep in mind that these times are UTC (Universal time), so you’ll have to subtract hours for your timezone – I’m in US Central, so that’s UTC-6.

For High Days, I use the typical calendar dates for planning my calendar each year (Samhain on Oct 31, Yule on Dec 21, Imbolc on Feb 1). I know there are more specific astronomical dates (the Solstice doesn’t always happen on the 21st), but since I can rarely celebrate ON the actual day, I figure as long as I get close it doesn’t matter.

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