If you're a regular festival goer or a habitual reader of the Wild Hunt, you've probably heard about the earth-shattering closure of the 35th Pagan Spirit Gathering in Illinois. This festival, with over 1,000 attendees and volunteers, has endured torrential rain, crippling windstorms, attempted raids by the media, and even a tornado over the years. It has never stopped the community from carrying on. This year, however, a flash flood did it. With the area rivers rising and the overflow from a dam about to be vented across the site to prevent damage to the structure, PSG board members, with tears in their eyes, announced the first ever shut-down of the festival. Facebook lit up and I watched from my living room as people shared their stories. And I cried for them.
It's like watching your church burn.
Luckily, there was no loss of life and a lot of talk of returning in 2016. The Mama Stacey Clan hopes to be there as well. I haven't attended since about 2008. The site has changed. Also, many members of the tribe I knew no longer attend or have even passed away. It will be a brand new experience and one I want to share with my family.
Back at home, I packed for a local camping trip. Each day, the weather forecast grew more ominous. Tropical Depression "Bill" (who came up with that?), the same storm that had triggered the flooding in Illinois, was causing thunderstorms in my area.
What was once predicted as a clear and hot weekend was now to be a weekend of rain, rain, rain. I don't mind if it rains a bit while camping, but I didn't like the idea of setting up our tent IN the rain, on water logged soil. I didn't like the idea of my children not being able to swim or bike or visit the deer park, as we'd planned.
Essentially, our Midsummer plans were crushed by rain, the same as those at the Pagan Spirit Gathering had been. #wearetribe
Friday morning, I canceled our state park reservation. I was bumming and bitter. We'd already had to cancel plans for the creation of a large Pagan event in our area and now I'd had to call it quits on our private camping trip. On top of reading about the trauma happening at the Pagan Spirit Gathering, I was feeling lost. I thrive on sharing the seasons and sabbats with my children and I felt utterly done-in.
Around noon that day, I was sipping a fancy iced coffee and having a walk through the garden when I decided that I could not give up. There were only about 9 hours left in the day, but I wanted to make them count. I made a quick plan in my head and grabbed my car keys.
I ran to the store and picked up some frozen pizzas. I have off-and-on considered the idea of making "Pagan Pizza". Simply, you lay your toppings on in a design like a spiral or a rune and bake. We made a Solstice Sun and a Pentacle to honor the day.
I also picked up a ready-made cake and some piping icing. I scrawled the words "Happy Litha" on top and decorated the edges with suns and spirals.
We also stopped at the craft store to grab some sun colored yarn to make something similar to God's Eyes. Below, you can see that when we got down to it, we added an extra spoke and made Solstice Suns to hang up outside.
On the way home, we passed a community park where I could see that the weeds were tall at the edge of the field. I remembered the Grass Doll craft I'd had planned for the camping trip. They are painfully simple to make, so I turned into the parking lot. The kids and I cut tall grasses and wild flowers, hand picking the colors we wanted to use when making our Grassmen. What you see in the photo below was enough to make about seven dolls.
Once home, we jumped into our swimming suits and laughed and splashed and played in the bright near-solstice sunlight. It did indeed drizzle once, but the kids refused to leave the pool. The rain was short and warm, so we continued right on with our Litha.
When everyone had swam to their heart's content, we climbed out of the pool and began to create our mock Wickermen. They are identical to making corn dollies. We got the idea from the Healthy Mama resource page.
We pulled the pizza out to cool and started our small balefire. When everyone was satisfied with their grass men, we laid them in the sun and blessed them before putting them in the fire. Doodle Bug took charge with Baby E, telling her about fire safety and helping her to toss her man into the flames.
Afterwards, we swam some more and ate Pagan Pizza and Litha cake until the air grew chilly. We finished off the night with a few mini fire crackers and then gathering in the family room to weave our Solstice Suns together.
The kid's eye lids were drooping by bedtime and I actually felt good about how we'd spent the afternoon. It was nothing that you'd find in any Pagan Parenting book, but it was our day and we loved it. We made the most of our time in the sun and I'd do it again.
So, even if the rain is pouring or the bread doesn't rise, or you realize that something else has come along to dismantle your carefully planned Sabbat... remember that as long as you spend the day with your children and do something to make it special, you can consider the holiday honored and honored well.