June 2017 WATERritual

Summer Solstice

By Diann L. Neu, Hannah Dorfman, Karis Slattery, and Susanna Stutler

Listen to the audio of our June 2017 WATERritual here.

Preparation: Gather candles, one for each person, red and yellow flowers, lemonade, melon, and s’mores fixings: marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers

Naming the Circle
        Welcome to tonight’s celebration of the Summer Solstice, June 21, the time of greatest light. The heat of the day is a reminder that summer is around the corner. Give yourself a moment to transition into summer. (Pause)
        “To many Druids it is the turning seasons and the cycle of life, death and rebirth – reflected in the Wheel of the Year in its completeness – which are significant.”
        To create our circle, speak your name, say where you are geographically, and say, “I honor the sun and you on this day.” (Sharing)

Song: “Lachen,” Traditional German round, found in A Circle Is Cast by Libana, © 1986.

Lachen, lachen, lachen, lachen
kommt der Sommer uber das Feld
uber das Feld kommt der Sommer,
ha ha ha, lachen uber das Feld.

Laughing, laughing, laughing, laughing
Comes the summer over the field,
Over the field comes the summer
Ha Ha Ha, Laughing over the field.

Call to Gather

The Summer solstice, also known as Midsummer’s Night, is the longest day and the shortest night of the year. On this night, Earth reaches midpoint on her journey around the sun. In the Northern Hemisphere, we anticipate the coming of summer, as our sisters in the Southern Hemisphere prepare for the winter season.

Red, yellow, and orange are the colors for summer solstice: the red of passion, the yellow of the sun, and the orange of the summer bonfire. Red and orange flowers and candles enhance our celebration. This evening may our wishes be fulfilled!

In ancient agricultural rites, fires were lit at summer solstice to renew the sun’s energy. Indigenous Europeans built sun shrines: Stonehenge, Casa Grande, Woodhenge, and New Grange. The Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas of the Americas, the Chinese, and the Egyptians all built sun shrines. In many of the Native American traditions, this time of year is celebrated as part of a vision cycle, and dances are performed to renew the energy of the sun, the vegetation, and the people. On this day, the Hopi Indians of the Southwest celebrate Niman Kachina when the kachinas, the tribal spirit guides, return to their underground homes until the winter solstice.

In Brazil, people set flower wreaths on fire and float them on the waves to honor the Yoruba sea goddess, Iemanjá. In the Christian tradition, summer solstice, or St. John’s Eve, marks the birth of John the Baptist, who told of the coming of Christ, the Light. Even today, St. John’s fires are lit in the mountains in Europe. The flames of sun and fire remind us of the early Christian community’s Pentecost experience of empowerment by the Spirit. In the goddess tradition, summer solstice was known as Litha, the name of a northern European and North African goddess of fertility, power, and abundance.

In feminist circles around the world, the Summer Solstice is being welcomed as a time to renew passions, continue resistance, give thanks for the abundant gifts of Earth, and promise to protect all things under the sun.

Song: “Lachen,” Traditional German round, found in A Circle Is Cast by Libana, c 1986.

Lighting Summer Solstice Fires

Generation to generation people honor the light and call forth injustices in the world. This evening we spark five fires to welcome compassion, resistance, and justice into spaces that are both dry and barren, bountiful and fertile.

We greet the fire of the North to honor those who bring the enduring spark of the Summer Solstice in a time of historic darkness: immigrants, Muslims, Jews, communities of color, sexual and gender minorities, all of us gathered tonight.

We greet the fire of the South to remember those in South America, Africa, and Australia as they celebrate the Winter Solstice.

We greet the fire of the East in solidarity with those in Asia and the Middle East, especially mothers and children in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Iraq who are in fear and trembling, dying in the streets.

We greet the fire of the West for the indigenous women who fight for their sacred spaces and the right for their voices to be heard. We light this candle to thank our sisters and brothers on the front lines of climate change who have shown grace, courage, and resiliency in the face of destructive environmental policies of the current administration.

We greet the fire of the Center with gratitude for those this season who bring us laughter, uplift our spirits, and warm our souls. We invite you to name them. (Name)

Reading: “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, Volume One. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1992. Page 94.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16CL6bKVbJQ (link to Mary Oliver 


Song: May I Suggest” by Susan Werner, From: New Non-Fiction (2001), Written & Copyright © Susan Werner, https://youtu.be/eW1DDSQnEYo

May I suggest
May I suggest to you
May I suggest this is the best part of your life
May I suggest
This time is blessed for you
This time is blessed and shining almost blinding bright
Just turn your head
And you’ll begin to see
The thousand reasons that were just beyond your sight
The reasons why
Why I suggest to you
Why I suggest this is the best part of your life

There is a world
That’s been addressed to you
Addressed to you, intended only for your eyes
A secret world
Like a treasure chest to you
Of private scenes and brilliant dreams that mesmerize
A lover’s trusting smile
A tiny baby’s hands
The million stars that fill the turning sky at night
Oh I suggest
Oh I suggest to you
Oh I suggest this is the best part of your life

There is a hope
That’s been expressed in you
The hope of seven generations, maybe more
And this is the faith
That they invest in you
It’s that you’ll do one better than was done before
Inside you know
Inside you understand
Inside you know what’s yours to finally set right
And I suggest
And I suggest to you
And I suggest this is the best part of your life

This is a song
Comes from the west to you
Comes from the west, comes from the slowly setting sun
With a request
With a request of you
To see how very short the endless days will run
And when they’re gone
And when the dark descends
Oh we’d give anything for one more hour of light

And I suggest this is the best part of your life


“This is the best part of your life,” sings Susan Werner. And Mary Oliver asks,“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Where does your spark come from? What fulfillment, passion, and creativity do you wish for yourself and for Earth this solstice? (Pause) Share a glimpse and, if you choose, speak your wish and light a candle to carry your wish home to the universe. Or, if you prefer, just light a candle. (Sharing)

Remembering Those Who Need Healing

On this Solstice night, we call forth the summer Solstice fires once again to honor and remember those who need healing.

Let us remember those suffering from violence around the world:

  • The victims of war and terror, especially those harmed in recent attacks in London, Tehran, Manchester, and Paris.
  • The victims of hate, Islamophobia, and racism, especially 17-year old Nabra Hassanen, who was killed outside a mosque in Virginia this week.

Let us lift up those affected by the destructive capabilities of sun and fire:

  • The victims of the recent fire in an apartment building in London.
  • Those plagued by drought and famine, and those who lack access to food and clean water.Let us honor those who are most affected by climate change:
  • Indigenous communities worldwide.
  • Low-income, coastal communities facing the threat of rising sea levels.

And for anyone else who is in need of healing… (Add your own.)

Together, we respond:

Spark of the summer solstice fires,

Give us the courage to act for justice.

Give us the wisdom to work together–East to West, North to South–in our common struggle for liberation.

Give us the compassion to care for all of Earth’s goodness on this Solstice night.

Blessing of Summer Solstice Foods

Together, we say: Blessed are you, Holy Ones of the Summer Solstice, for giving us this food and drink to deepen our passions, fulfill our wishes, and sustain our fires.

Eating and Drinking

Summer reminds us of lemonade, melons, bonfires, toasting marshmallows, and eating s’mores. Come, let us drink lemonade, eat melon and toast a marshmallow, put it on a graham cracker with a piece of chocolate, and make a delicious sandwich like girl scouts do. (Eating)

Sending Forth and Greeting 

We came together today to honor the Sun, the Earth, and each other. Let’s greet each other again by saying and gesturing with raised open arms “I honor the Sun and you on this day.”

To bring closure to our Solstice celebration let’s take the solstice leap. It is traditional on the Summer Solstice to leap over fire. Those who wish can leap over the candles.

For protection in the coming year… for the courage to take risks and follow your aspirations… for purification from sorrow… and for the fun of feeling foolish again…  jump over the fire… add your own wish(Leap over the fire)

Take another leap for the protection of all things under the Sun and on the Earth. (Leap over the fire)

Let us go forth mindful of the life-giving power of the Sun,
Conscious of the power of our collective spirit,
And aware of the work still to be done on this Earth.

Song: “Lachen,” Traditional German round, found in A Circle Is Cast by Libana, c 1986.

Take Action

© 2017 Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER). Planned by Diann L. Neu dneu@hers.com, Hannah Dorfman hannah@waterwomensalliance.org, Karis Slattery karis@waterwomensalliance.org, and Susanna Stutler susanna@waterwomensalliance.org.