By Phoenix of Elder Mountain – This weekend we did ceremony of our ancestral Polish Midsummer (Ivana Kupala) and made our flower “Crowns” and did our “Water Rites.” We started off by gathering 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 way without fire.
The day of the “solstices and equinoxes” each year, are the strongest energy of the seasonal year, because they are nature’s season of change… and ours. For the past twenty five years on the summer solstice, I have led group shamanic soul journeys ~ but lately I prefer to do now only the healing shamanic journeys on the autumn equinox and winter solstice and do more ritual in circles on the spring and summer solstice in ceremony.
I like my circles to be small, even within community events and they always have, generally up to ten or twenty people works well. This year Brandi, Lulu and myself started our ceremony by heading to Lake Emigrant to make our flower crowns on a long hike gathering flowers, as the month of the Summer Solstice the flowers are abundant. The area where we live, is surrounded by the Siskiyou Mountains, the coastal mountain range of the Klamath basin in northwestern California and the southern most parts of Oregon. Most people around the world are familiar with this area because of the famous Pacific Crest Trail.
We started our journey in the late 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 with intention, and adding our sacred intentions connecting to our grandmother ancestors.
After we were partially finished with the crowns, we hiked further and gathered the wild roses for our crowns and we also gathered enough for the rose tincture. Once we finished, and had enough wild rose petals gathered, and headed back to Elder Mountain.
Summer Solstice is a nice balance to our more serious traditional Winter Solstice fire ritual of Marzanna, and doing both each year, keeps the balance of the season and the sacred flowing. When we arrived back, Brandi started making her rose-hydrosol, which was a very interesting process. We ate some lunch and had a long healing conversation around everyday issues which the two of them were working on. I brought counsel with wisdom and some laughs and practical practices and solutions, we were finished by dusk.
At twilight it was time to go to the magical pond on the land, where our sacred Marzanna sits for three moons of winter. We offered our prayers along with releasing our sacred wreaths (crown of flowers) to the pond to receive health, right relationship and the other healthy reasons that brought us here today, that we seek. We also asked for a dream to show us what we needed to see.
Each of us tossed the flower crown into the life giving waters to receive our summer blessing and what we would give up or sacrifice in order to receive the prayer that we asked for, and have the solution or manifestation appear within the three moons of summer. A small manifestation for emotional health, personal peace and expressing our true nature with the importance of sharing our life in personal ways.
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 ask for a sacred dream. So Brandi and Lulu set a sacred intention for their dream that night when they slept in the yurt, 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 over breakfast and I shared wisdom on the symbolism. This completed our ceremony as the twilight of dawn had returned.
When I speak of healing in any equinox or solstice ceremony that I lead, which are four times a year in ceremony, its the dedication to the self to overcome one’s struggles. 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 (folk healing, prayer, energy work, rebirthing, movement releases, inner child work for the forty and older, spiritual martial arts, meditation, vision quests, sweats, fasting and more) that support our real healing journey quarterly with natures cycles.
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. The Slavic celebration of Kupala is both a fire and water ceremony, but I do an older tradition of fire in the winter and water in the summer in ceremony.
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). 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.
Most Slavic and even Polish celebrations like Kupala (summer) or Marzanna (winter) are more “social” and “gathering of celebrations” of youth and as a summer or winter carnivals or to find a boyfriend or husband. When I work with the seasons of earth in my rituals as a wind whisperer (shaman), earth is the strongest during the solstices especially, and the equinoxes, that magical energy of “healing or soul rituals” which is why we did ceremony of healing on these two powerful days.
Solstices are powerfully healing, and an opportunity for personal healing when sobriety and ritual is combined and focused on the power of the adult woman and the grandmother, rather than maidens. Maidens support and give service to the adult woman and grandmother, but since pagan men, like religious men used the power of the maiden and their energy (from the Dionysus Cult) integrated into Slavic culture, its focused around partying.
The healing rites of water is used in all my ceremonies, rituals and folk healing and when summer solstice comes, its one of a commitment to such purity and a relationship with water, moisture, clouds, storms, lightning, thunder and the sacred cloud serpent of mother earth. Each year beginning in Autumn I do ceremony and the summer solstice was always the time when one committed to the weather as shamans.
So even though the sacred circle creates movement or action of energy for community, as our very ancient grandmothers did, I invited the water and wind spirits to align with me at time of the ritual. During these three months, our life force of fire (spirit) will appear in some small way but not physical, one must pay attention very closely for its appearance.
Below is the current modern tradition that is more based on the Dionysus Cult of Greece that entered the Slavic lands when religions (pagan and christianity took over).
However you celebrate your Summer Solstice, may it be fun, connected to the earth and full of mystery! Blessings to you on the Summer Solstice! Phoenix @ Elder Mountain
Article by Llamus Dworski – ‘Lamus Dworski’ is dedicated to Poland – Polish history, archaeology, arts, culture, folklore, curiosities, and more. Visit her site @ https://lamusdworski.files.wordpress.com
Wianek (plural form: wianki) means a wreath in the Polish language. According to the old-Slavic tradition, wreaths were an important symbol connected to numerous rites and festivals – it was a representation of blooming youth, vitality and virginity. Only young girls and the unmarried women (particularly those who haven’t bore a child yet) were allowed to wear them. They were woven out of local flowers, herbs and plants, often those of magical (e.g. protective) meaning.
Wreaths are extremely important during the Slavic celebrations of the summer solstice, a feast of pre-Christian origins that in Poland holds many names, for example Noc Kupały, Kupalnocka, Sobótki (after a word for Slavic ritual bonfires), Wianki (annual festival held for example in Kraków, called literally ‘Wreaths’) or the Christianized version: Noc Świętojańska (St. John’s Night), Świętojanki, etc.
During that special day, girls were woving the wreaths and dancing around bonfires in rites meaning to evoke fertility, beauty, health and strenght. Some herbs could be also attached to a belt around the waist. Later that night, whole processions were approaching a nearby river [or lake, if no river was available] in order to launch the wreaths down the stream. That part of the custom is still alove today.
The wreaths, often attached to a board or two crossed planks with a small candle at the center, were used in divination, predicting love and even marriage. Some girls would launch two wreaths at once to observe how they float – if they were staying close together on the water, mutual love was indicated.
In many cases, the boys would jump into the water to pick up a wreath. The most desired sign for a girl was when the wreath was brought back to her by the very boy she cherished in her heart. Some boys would jump even into the strongest streams and deepest waters just to capture a certain wreath, only to give it back to the girl that created it. They were able to confess their love and show the courage that way.
It was once believed that the night is a time of people to fall in love with each other, and to openly express their feelings. It was also the one special night in the old-Slavic calendar when the people were able to choose their sexual partners freely and spend that one night together without being judged. Some couples would even get married later in the same year.
If you would like to join our email list for a future sacred ceremony like this one, our be on our Lunar Work-study please do contact us: ElderMountainDreaming@gmail.com
Source Illustration: “Fern Eyes” by Elsa Mora; photos by Brandi.