By Phoenix of Elder Mountain – This weekend we did ceremony of our ancestral Polish Midsummer (Kupala) Flower “Crowns” and “Water Rites.” We started off by gathering the local wildflowers on our hike and bringing them to life with a sacred ritual. I have a great love for water & fire rituals and doing them in the ancient dreaming ways. The day of the “solstice and equinox” each year, are the strongest energy releases of the seasonal year, because they are nature’s season of change… and ours!
Summer Solstice Ceremony of Flower Crowns and Water Rites…
I like my circles small and intimate, generally under eight women, this year me Brandi, Lulu and myself started our ceremony by heading to Lake Emigrant to make our crowns, as the month of the Summer Solstice soon approaches. The where we live, is surrounded by the Siskiyou Mountains, the coastal mountain range of the Klamath basin in northwestern California and the southwestern parts of Oregon. Most people around the world are familiar with this area because of the famous Pacific Crest Trail.
We started our journey late in the morning taking our hike around the lake to collect wild roses for Brandi, who was to make her Rose-Hydrosol. I began the Kupala flower “Crown” ceremony (in Polish we call it the Wianki Feast of Wreaths). I explained what each part of the gathering of the flowers meant, what each round of tying the flowers in a circle meant, adding our sacred intention.
We enjoyed the beautiful day and after we were finished partially with the crowns, we hiked further and gathered different flowers to add to the crown. Once we finished, and had enough wild rose petals gathered, we headed back to Elder Mountain.
I really wanted for all three of us to jump into the lake to submerge ourselves into the healing waters but we didn’t have our towels but next year we will! We finished and headed back and once back, Brandi started making her rose-hydrosol, as we ate lunch and had a good long healing conversation around everyday issue. I brought counsel with wisdom and some practices and solutions, and were finished by dusk.
When twilight arrived, it was time to go to the magical pond, where our sacred Marzanna sits for three months and we burn her effigy on the spring equinox. Now there months later in the cyclical or progressional seasonal rites, we offered our sacred wreaths (crown of flowers) to the pond to receive (not love or marriage proposals as in traditional Kupala festivals which is the Dionysus cult tradition of the post 12th century) but a more ancient tradition.
A ceremony of something positive from our intentions weaving ten thousand years of flower circles connected to not just maidens like Kupala, but the shamanic rites of maidens, mothers, adult women, grandmother, spiritual elder women and our millions of years of ancestors. This ceremony on its healing side is to face and work with a personal fear (struggle).
The tossing of the flower crown into the life giving waters is the action to then receive when we begin to do the healing work, a summer blessing for the entire three moons of summer. A small manifestation for emotional health, interpersonal peace and expressing our true nature with the importance of sharing our truth in real and personal ways. We honored our journey as maidens, adult and elder women of our life in the ceremony – which honors our ancestors who came before us.
Since my work as a shaman (mol’farka, folk healer and whisperer) involves ancient dreaming rites with sacred ceremony only on the solstices and equinoxes, it was time to end our day and go to the sacred dream, as sometimes I lead a shamanic magical journey for the night parts of Kupala (Noc Kupala, non plant/drug shamanism of course). I asked Brandi and Lulu to set a sacred intention for their dream that night, of something they needed to know to be brought forth from their inner dreamer (once they got to the yurt). Each one did have a significant dream, and we discussed it in the morning and went over the symbolism for its fortune telling or oracular wisdom. We chatted over breakfast and I gave counsel on the symbolism and this completed our ceremony as the twilight of dawn had returned.
Healing Waters & Fire, Solstices & Equinoxes…
When I speak of healing in any equinox or solstice ceremony that I lead, which are four times a year in ceremony, I mean the dedication to the self to overcome one’s struggles connected to our unconscious shadows. These are our obstacles (through the practices of self respect, self love, emotional compassion, boundaries, etc) and the rituals that are focused with intent for that accomplishment with the seasons of mother earth.
When I speak of spiritual healing, I mean the dedicated actions of spiritual practices, disciplines and holistic healing (energy work, rebirthing, energy movement releases, inner child work for the forty and older, spiritual martial arts, meditation, vision quests, etc) that support our real healing journey.
Combing these two of healing and spiritual healing, helps us grown in a very slow and steady each moon cycle to build a solid foundation. These are what the origins of Kupala were, now they are more social gathering (celebration or festival) and their seeds of pagan origins are of marriage. As a baba, I help others work with the increased self awareness which brings much consciousness into the healing (of our fears and shadows, our self sabotage, our guilt. anxiety, drama etc.)
The Slavic celebration of Kupala is both a fire and water ceremony, but it wasn’t always that way in the pre-pagan indigenous traditions of summer, it was only the sacred water ceremony. Since fire and water elements are the eternal, the mystical and the cyclical, “water rites” are moon mysteries of moisture, mother and memories from our pre-pagan grandmothers rituals and their shamanic indigenous rites.
Mother energy rules the summer solstice, but pagan rites of the Dionysus cult gave summer to the Maidens along with the Church father to marry her off, for a single woman has already been established by the church, that they are nothing but trouble without a husband. Grandmother, is the last part of the sacred trinity of the seasonal rites, and rules Autumn and Winter rites.
Water is the emotional element needed in the Season of Fire (Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice) and Fire is the warmth and purification element needed in the Season of Night (Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice). These were the balanced “elements” of an older origin rituals of grandmother. Water as a symbol, is the life force of emotional complexity, not the life blood, but the blood of the menses, and the awareness to be in awareness with our hidden souls. Water is also the soothing and nurturing element, which has been used in healing rites, folk healing, and dreaming rites of summer solstice times since before time.
Water rites are born from moon medicines and the lunar rites which are nature’s principles and enter the realms of the giant rivers and oceans, rain and thunderstorms. In regular ceremony, its the intention, actions and symbolism that is most important that connects us emotionally and setting that tone. The emotional connections, release of sharing emotional pain and tears and the support of her moisture for releases, her watery life force and even her powerful storms all apart of the water rites.
Fire elements when working in shaman’s rituals of purification are much more dangerous as a purification rite, then celebratory paganism or pagans festivals. In the Slavic tradition they use the pagan festival cults of maidens and add the Fire element, called Sobótki in Polish meaning the feast of bonfires. “Fire Rites” in this sense is for ambiance and enacting old rites without their purification.
Originally or pre-pagan rites of grandmothers and shaman grandmothers, fire was only used in the winter solstice ceremonies because of the nature of the winter and the underworld (not the dead) but dead aspects of the self for purification in the act. Very rare Slavs and Balkans use fire in this way, and they can only be done in small circles, not large party events or gathering festivals. The physical fires are included in winter solstice rites, but also the non-physical aspects of fire, call our relationship to spirit (and I am not speaking of human) but the relationship to the mystery of nature. Fire acts as a bridge.
Most Slavic and even Polish celebrations like Kupala (summer) or Marzanna (winter) are devoid of such kinds of healing rites and are “social” or more “gathering celebrations” as summer or winter carnivals. When I work with the power of the energy of the earth in my rituals, its the strongest during the solstice and equinox, the healing is the strongest and without a healing rite or ceremony the years and decades even are lost to tap into that magical energy of “healing or soul rituals.”
When I speak in terms of the solstice and equinox rites of the archaic, I am speaking of global changes that influenced cultures and much of the old pre-pagan cultural rites were destroyed by the Dionysus Cult, as these were the Soul rites. The Spirit rites rites are the elemental aspects of the bonds of the mystical connection (fire) with the soul (water) and the ethereal dreaming (non physical reality) into memory, remembrance and memories which surrounds us.
The healing rites when in a sacred circle creates the movement or action of energy of the wind spirits, which starts at the time of the ritual, will carry into an entire three moon cycle (one season) after a ceremony such as Kupala done this way. During those cycles (three months) our life force of fire (spirit) will appear in some small way, but one must pay attention very closely for the medicine.
Why we do the folk healing work this way at Elder Mountain…
The guardian spirits of mother earth have showed me many things in the sacred imagery and lineages of our souls and animism souls (called dreaming awake), and its nature I speak of (not human guardians or human spirits). We set intention, we accept personal responsibility for our health and we practice purity and if all three are present together in the ceremony, real magic and healing happens.
The legendary Magical Fern is a pagan legend of Poland, of the flower of immortality but the older aspects of this magical rite, is called the Vesta which is an initiation process for the ancient or current shamans (folk healers to varying degrees) of the Slavic peoples. It is a quest and initiation but it cannot be found in a real sense as a flower until one has penetrated the veils into the expanded consciousness in order to access it. The journey is fated, and the finding of it comes with great tests for women, a great struggle and pain.
I work with the Season of Night and the Season of Fire (earth’s natural releases and creation of energy). When we align with oppositions of elements and add sacred ceremony of purity (fire), the fullness of the ceremony can bloom forth, both the celebratory with the healing rites in emotional work (water) is the summer seasons, for all women, maiden and some soul-filled men, not just maidens. Kupala is a fun and a celebratory community gather and that is beautiful for fun and connection for what is left of the original medicines.
If you would like to join us on our ritual weekends (which is like a living workshop) rather than teaching workshop, which is a circle of maidens, mothers and wise women, please do contact us. To be on our once a month Lunar work-study email, send us an email: ElderMountainDreaming@gmail.com
To read more about the “Traditional Kupala” of of the Slavic people (this article is Poland go to Lamus Dworski article on her wordpress at https://lamusdworski.wordpress.com/2016/06/26/midsummer
Illustration: “Fern Eyes” by Elsa Mora; photos by Brandi!