Danna D. Schmidt

Master Life-Cycle Celebrant®

Ordained Wedding Officiant

Funerals/Memorials Specialist

Monthly Archives: June 2016

Summer SOULstice

summer solstice
Ah….blessed changing of the season’s guard! The year has turned ’round yet again while many of us were busy making other plans. Summer Solstice holds such mystique and never more so than when we can inch ourselves northerly to experience the full long light of this day.

My fondest Summer Solstice memory was getting to participate in the Yellowknife, Northwest Territories Midnight Sun golf tournament some 26 years ago. Our tee-off time was midnight. Sometime just after, we watched the sun bow slightly to the horizon and cloak us in a surreal, dusky glow, only to bob back up a few hours later. It was a glorious sight to behold and it helped illuminate for me how honestly the Land of the Midnight Sun earns its name. This year, we are lucky to have a full moon grace our skies, which is the first time in almost 50 years the lunar and solar calendars have been co-conspirators in this way.

Every cell in my body always jumps for joy at the arrival of summer. Perhaps it’s because summer always seems to carry the provocative question that poet Mary Oliver poses at the end of her poem “The Summer Day.”  You know…the one that begs us to consider what we might do with our wild and precious life? Summer is the season of wild and precious. It is alive with flower blooms so bold and yet so precarious when the wind and rains come. Bushes and branches are overfilled with berries and fruit; and gardens are ripe with a bounty of beans and other greenery. I love that summer brings all these things and also that it hints for us to act with more abandon and delight.

I blogged last year about the salience of summer rituals: 1) because ritual is near and dear to my celebrant heart; and 2) because summer begs such ceremony and pageantry. This year, I don’t intend to enact much beyond the most simple of the ceremonious. But I will create a small altar tonight to honor Gaia’s summer re-dress. It will feature an array of goodness gathered from my own yard and forest….acorns and other tree offerings, soil and water, together with a small earthen bowl of goodies that capture summer’s essence for me — cherries, flower petals, birdseed, leaves, twigs and citrus peelings — all bright and verdant compost for the season ahead.

The bowl of cherries and other beauteous bits is also a not-so-subtle reminder to me that life IS a choice. Whenever I think of bowl of cherries, I am reminded of that Erma Bombeck adage, in which she rhetorically asks: “if life is a bowl of cherries, what am I doing in the pits?”

Summer Solstice, for me, is that first great seasonal leap from the pits of spring to the holy heat of summer living – which is to say, with my soul on fire with a fierce love for this world. Every new season carries with it promise and newness, just as each departing season lingers with its bittersweet adieu.

A proper summer’s herald includes looking back to spring, honoring what took root and grew during this time, and releasing any of its residue energies and late-season harvestings spring wants to torchbear to summer. I will make room for this in ritual by creating a tiny summer bundle or pouch of plenty. It will include a seed and bean, a flower petal, a blade of wheatgrass or dead leaf, and a piece of bark as miniature symbols of the four seasons. I will also package a few sweet and elemental treats for the earth, a couple of written messages of what I am both letting go of and wishing for, and lastly, I will wrap it in corn husk and fern leaf, tie it with hemp cord and tag it with a message of gratitude for the earth medicine spring lent me. I will keep it on my altar even as I could easily also burn it and allow the ashes of my wishes and blessings to be carried upon the air to the ether beyond. This year, I like the idea of carrying this seasonal bundle with me throughout my summer questing this year. And to each, our own.

Now if this sounds too earth-based and shamanic for your urban sensibilities, I invite you to consider how you might reconceive this same ritual within the confines of your kitchen. Raid your fridge and pantry and spice rack. Slice fruit, dice veggies and add nuts and other savory bits. Sprinkle bits of sugar and spice to make yours. Add clippings from your patio or container gardens. And then borrow from your butcher’s paper, or wrapping paper and ribbon stash, and fancify your tiny bundle into one that suits your own spiritual and modern aesthetic.

The point is that Summer Solstice is a mid-waypoint stop along this year’s journey. This occasion beckons us to look up to the night sky with wonder, lean closer into the sacred pause, taste what is being offered, listen with all our senses, dance with more abandon, and imagine a wilder and more precious dream for ourselves. It calls us to remember the times before this one and the ones to come, and to re-member ourselves anew in the present. And it asks us to do as the poem ask….to measure time, mark a new beginning and allow the past to come undone.

So whether you celebrate the season over the breaking of fresh bread and the tasting of wine, or with a bonfire under the full moon, my wish for you is the same ~ happy, bliss-filled Solstice…and may your summer 2016 be solar-powered!


Summer Solstice

This was when the whole world measured time
This is when the light would turn around
This is where the past would come undone
and the spinning earth will mark a new beginning
Let’s go back in time, to when it all began
To the breaking of new dawns
Where moments bright with fire, would light the chanting song
Where pagans worshipped sun, and danced among the trees
Wore strange masks of covered straw, and blessed cold ash with awe
Wreaths hung upon the door against all spirit’s, dire
and when the winter’s grasp let go, the sun reversed the pyre
This was when the whole world measured time
This is when the light would turn around
So that spring arrives, and seeds will sprout and grow
Oh, radiant sun, stretch the day, shorten night
Return earth’s darkness into light
This is where the light will turn around
And this was where the past has come undone”

~ Carrie Richards ~

Say it RITE…the Ceremonious Way!