Temple of Witchcraft Litha 2015: The Summer Solstice

Litha2015by Christopher Penczak

Since starting the Temple of Witchcraft I’ve had the opportunity to help host, yet step back from, a lot of the public rituals and allow Alix Wright in the Pisces Ministry to organize the yearly sabbats for the Temple in Southern New Hampshire. Previous to that I was the celebrant at Unicorn Books sabbat rituals for many years, and Alix and I then shared duties for sabbat preparation for the Lap of the Goddess community. But every so often I’m still asked to plan and lead a sabbat ritual. This year, I’ve been asked again to host our Summer Solstice celebration. I’ve gathered a large and wonderful team of volunteers ranging from some brand new folks to experienced students and seasoned ministers, including Matooka Moonbear, Wrentek MacGowan, and Danielle Dionne acting as the primary priestesses and priest with me. Since we are going for a primal, evocative presence, I thought some reminders and a little background information on some aspects of this ritual would be helpful for those attending, and interesting for those looking for inspiration for their own Midsummer’s ritual.

While we logically tend to focus upon the Sun God imagery for the Summer Solstice, as it is the peak time in the Sun’s yearly cycle before it begins to wane, many forget the solstice is also the time when the Sun enters the tropical zodiac sign of Cancer. Cancer the Crab is ruled by the Moon, and the imagery often associated with Cancer is that of the Great Mother. The Great Mother comes in many forms. She is the Goddess of the Earth. We are cells within her body. She is the Lady of the Seas, the Ocean Mother from which all life rises. She is the Goddess of the Moon, the lady of the pale light that guides us in the dark. On our most cosmic level, she is the Star Goddess, the lady of the entire cosmos. So for our solstice ritual, we will be looking at the blessings of the Great Goddess, who gives life to the light of the Sun. We’ll be working with the God as not only the Sun, but the Sun as the light between the horns of the Great Father God of All.

For this work, we ask those attending to bring if possible a medium size (hand- or fist-sized) stone and a unscented candle in a non-spill glass container, such as a tea light in a votive glass, or a glass jar candle. While everyone who brings a candle and a stone will get one back, you might not necessarily get back the one you brought, as the magick has a way of bringing us what we need, not what we already have. We are also collecting donations of yarn for our Temple’s Shawl Ministry.

We will be building upon the work of those who have gone before us in the Western Magickal Traditions, and through the ritual, honoring them. Much common prose and chant can seem overused to the experienced practitioner, but we must keep in mind that those new to the tradition have yet to experience this magick, and it helps us approach the classic poetry of our tradition with fresh eyes to see the deep beauty and mystery.

Specifically, we’ll be starting off with the use Dion Fortune’s poetry for the invocations of Pan and Isis, found in The Sea Priestess and Moon Magic. It’s powerful and trance-inducing. For those unfamiliar with it, here is a small sample.

“Oh Great god Pan, return to Earth again
Come at my call, and show thyself to men
Shepherd of goats, upon the wild hills way
Lead thy lost flock from darkness unto day
Forgotten are the ways of sleep and night
Men seek for them whose eyes have lost the light
Open the door, the door that hath no key
The door of dreams whereby men come to thee
Shepherd of goats, Oh answer unto me!”

And

“I am She who ere the Earth was formed
was Ea, Binah, Ge
I am that soundless, boundless, bitter sea
Out of whose deeps life wells eternally
Astarte, Aphrodite, Ashtoreth
Giver of life and bringer in of death
Hera in Heaven and on Earth, Persephone
Diana of the Ways and Hecate
All these am I and the are seen in me

“I am that soundless, boundless, bitter sea
All tides are mine, and answer unto me
Tides of the airs, tides of the inner Earth
The secret, silent tides of death and rebirth
Tides of men’s souls, and dreams and destiny
Isis Veiled, and Ea, Binah, Ge”

We will be evoking the Night of Pan written about in the work of Aleister Crowley. Many consider Dion Fortune and Aleister Crowley harbingers of the New Aeon, and setting up the conditions for the revival of Witchcraft as we know it today. When we evoke the Starry Sky which is the Body of the Goddess, participants will be asked to bring their candles to the center of the ritual space, by the Great Cauldron. Seven Witches will be called to evoke the Seven Wandering Planets into the circle in the Night of Pan.

Temple Founder Adam Sartwell offer the Holy Mother Prayer from in the Feri Tradition of Victor and Cora Anderson, to remind us that we dwell within the body of the Mother.

“Holy Mother,
In You we live, move, and have our being.
From You all things emerge.
And unto You all things return.”

The Goddess Icon shall be unveiled, anointed and processed around the circle while we chant the Isis, Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna. It’s a chant credited to Deena Metzger and Caitlin Mullin, and found on the Reclaiming Chants CD. The stones, as the most primal statues of the Goddess, will be brought up by the community to be blessed.

The Priestesses of the Earth Goddess and the Star Goddess will evoke thee Lady through the Charge of the Goddess. A classic form of Wiccan poetry reworked by Doreen Valiente, arguably the mother of modern Witchcraft and a highly respected mighty one in the Temple of Witchcraft, the seeds of the prose come from Charles Leland’s Aradia, or Gospel of the Witches. Together with the priestesses, the ritualists will create the Waters of Life in the cauldron, blessed by the four elements and seven planets. Through the primal chant In the Name of the Divine Goddess by Shakmah Windrum, the community will dance, sing, rise up and receive the blessings of light from the cauldron. We shall close with a spiral dance and the chant We All Come from the Goddess by controversial elder Z. Budapest to turn the Wheel of the Year and bless the land, spirits and people of the gathering. Our aim is to return the Goddess to a place of primal importance in our own lives and consciousness.

So if you are attending, be prepared to engage with the Goddess of the Earth and Starry Heavens, and the Horned God of All.

Items to Bring: Medium Sized Stone, Unscented Candle in a Non Spill Container, Yarn for Shawl Ministry

“For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.” — From the Charge of the Goddess

Blessed be and blessed Litha!

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