So the summer solstice was on Wednesday and this year I found myself feeling very challenged on how to celebrate. I have only just decided to refocus my spiritual practice, well more accurately my religious structure, and I was actually at a bit of a loss as to what to do. I'm still feeling my way slowly into what works best for me but its also very important that my children have a sense of the holiday and get to enjoy it. I also had a very bad experience with a Midsummer ritual last year that I am still working to overcome, so this holiday is especially challenging for me on a personal level - which is probably why it ended up being the first one to come along after my major shift of focus. Life is anything but subtle sometimes when we need to face our issues....
We have had a family tradition of baking cakes on the solstices for many years. At the summer solstice we bake the cake for the daoine sidhe and Aine, who may be a fairy queen or may be a goddess; and at the winter solstice we bake a cake for the Sun's birthday. In previous years with a more recon based approach we would bake the summer cake and leave pieces as offerings but otherwise we didn't do too much to mark the day. From an eclectic Wiccan perspective I would have done a full circle to the Lord and Lady of summer, the God and Goddess of the Greenwood. Last year I did a public ritual in a more neo-pagan/Wiccan style that honored the fairies, spirits of the land, and Lord and Lady - this ritual will go down in infamy for the disapproval that resulted from some people* so I may be a little gun shy about jumping right in to do something similar again, despite its overall success.
In the end I settled on a hybrid compromise, which is, perhaps, the best approach anyway. Combining holiday fun with necessity I gave the gift of new summer shoes to the girls (and my husband) something I might keep as a tradition in the future. We baked a vanilla cake with butter cream frosting and the girls decorated it with candy sprinkles from the store. The cake came out very nicely, and after dinner when everything was ready we sang a Jana Runnall's song called "Graine" that I learned from Kellianna; then I cut a piece of cake for the fairies and another for Aine. The cake was left outside by our little Hawthorn tree and then we went back in and enjoyed some cake ourselves. I read the girls a book about the Summer Solstice by Ellen Jackson that includes folklore and traditions from around the world.
Later that night I had my own ritual, more along the lines of a Wiccan circle. Perhaps next year I can find an even better way to celebrate everything together; maybe I will finally get over my feelings of Midsummer inadequacy. But this year went well anyway, it was fun, the girls enjoyed it, and the fairies got their cake.
1 cup white sugar 1/2 cup butter 2 eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Grease and flour a 9x9 inch pan....
In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven