I drove down to Chicago to spend Midsummer with the folks of Wild Onion Grove. This was my first time celebrating with the group and, with one exception, my first time meeting everyone from WOG.
The hearth culture of the day was Hellenic, with a focus on Athena and the festival of Panathenaea. We met in a city park in what is probably the most public ritual space I’ve ever been in–there were several other celebration going on within a few steps of us, including a family reunion and a birthday party.
The group that gathered seemed to be eclectic and not entirely ADF, but the ritual did not reflect this. It was ADF style through-and-through. We began by consecrating our time and space, first with a musical signal and then by processing into our space and marking the sigil on each other. We then offered honor to Hestia and the Earth Mother, and the goddess Iris as the gatekeeper. (I usually honor Hecate as gatekeeper in my personal rituals, so this was new to me.) Apollo was petitioned as our bardic inspiration, and I made the offering to the outdwellers.
For the central part of the ritual, libations, praise, and storytelling were offered to Athena. For my part, I brought some homemade crackers that I baked for the occasion (didn’t have spelt flour, alas!), some olive oil from my kitchen, and told the legend of how women lost the right to vote in Athens.
According to Walter Burkert in Greek Religion, the people of Athens decided to hold a vote to see which deity–Poseidon or Athena–would be the principal patron of the city. The women supported Athena, while the men wanted to honor Poseidon. When the votes were cast, the women outnumbered the men by a single vote. So the city went to Athena. However, in retaliation, the men took away the women’s right to vote from that day forward. Not the most encouraging story from a humanist or feminist perspective, but it is part of the lore and a story which few know.
After our offerings were made, the omen was taken. The consensus among the group seemed to be that the omen was positive and the offerings were accepted, but some believed it also called attention to Apollo. Since Apollo is one of my principle deities, I was not sure what to make of this. After all, I think it’s always a good idea to call attention to Apollo!
And so we shared a blessing cup and some fabulous herbal cookies, closed our ritual by thanking all of the deities, spirits of the land, and ancestors, and having a simple meditation and grounding. Because of our location and people’s schedules, we did not have much time for fellowship afterwards.
So I am grateful to be able to join fellow Druids in celebrating the solstice. I hope we meet again soon.