The shiny new coven, Phoenix Song, celebrated our first Summer Solstice today.
It’s become the practice, in our tradition, to use the solstice as a time to revision the group for the coming year. (Yes, the timing’s a little odd, but it’s something that grew organically from stuff we were actually doing, and it turns out to work nicely.) What do we want to do together? What do we want things to be like? How do we want to honor where we’ve come from, while continuing to move forward?
In the group I hived from, the tradition has been to create something that is present in the temple all year as a reminder. In our case, that’s a little impractical (we’re doing ritual in two different spaces, and neither of us has space to spare.
We decided, instead, to do a deliberately impermanent piece of art. (Before I go any further, I want to be clear: L and I discussed whether we were okay with my posting photos, and she’s fine with it. While our interpretations and thoughts about some of this are private, the basic photos aren’t.)
L has a very lovely garden, in which she spends tremendous amounts of time. Her garden also has a flat paved part: this is what we used as our canvas. We used entirely natural ingredients: no artificial colorings like food coloring. We also paid attention to what will not cause havoc to L’s garden as things blow away, get rained on, etc.
Our materials included:
- bentonite clay (white)
- green french clay (the pale green)
- red french clay (the dusty red/brown)
- tumeric (the far more orange red/brown)
- dried safflower (the red/orange dried petals)
- dried lavender (the gray/purple ones)
- dried hibiscus (the dark red)
- rose petals (undried, from our friend’s garden last night: these are from a rose called Dart’s Dash)
- powdered eggshell – we tried something to get it to mesh to blue/purple, which did not work, but they produce a lovely dusty white that shades differently from the white clay.)
- marigold, dianthus, and a few other flowers from L’s garden.
- spoons and paper funnels to direct materials (and fingers!)
For next year, we’d really like something in the blue/purple range: this may prove to be tricky. We used far less of our materials than we’d anticipated: maybe 2 ounces each (and probably less) of the clays, and about an ounce or two of everything else. The finished space is about 8×6 feet, give or take.
Timing: I arrived at 1, we finished at 4. We didn’t do other formal ritual set-up, etc. but there was some setting up and getting things ready, and so on. It took less time than I was anticipating, but it was intense work.
If you’d like larger versions of the images (plus a couple I didn’t include here, you can go to my LiveJournal gallery.
Our workspace: note cat perfectly positioned for maximum difficulty. (This is L’s cat, a Bengal by breed. She was actually *very* good once we got started.)
Our first spiral: Everything starts at the center. Bentonite clay, red and green French clays, marigold.
Our first pause
(There was a second pause, too: check out the gallery for that one.)
My favorite detail shot (another in the gallery)