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Sunday, September 13

Plans for a Quiet Mabon

As usual, our clan will be heading off to a cabin in the woods for Mabon weekend.  It is our ultimate last hurrah before serious thoughts of winter fill our minds.  Here in northwest Pennsylvania, nightly temperatures are already dipping into the low 40s and we expect our first flurries by Samhain.

Normally, Mama Stacey is an over-packer and over-thinker about sabbats.  I try to theme a meal or bring an abundance of Pagan-y crafts with for the children and I to work on.  My rituals are large and ornate with lots of movement, song, and bling to make the kids really get into it.

Not so, this particular Mabon.  I am currently waddling about at 32 weeks pregnant (or 8 months for those of you who, like me, am not up for math problems this early in the day).  I can barely load a washing machine, let alone organize an elaborate holiday weekend.  Haha!

This year, I am passing the ritual torch to a newcomer within our local community.  She is creating a gorgeous and simple ritual for us to partake in on Saturday.  As for every moment outside of that ritual, we have nothing structured other than blissful lounging about, listening to Pagan music on the stereo, and maybe a little knitting.  While that sounds like heaven to me, Doodle Bug and Adventure Girl are not so jazzed.

So, for their sake, I am compiling a small idea stash of things we can fill their time with that do not require a whole lot of mommy running about.

1.  Hot Cocoa & Leaf Rubbings

This idea came to me from an autumn post by Our Day Our Journey.  I will have no trouble warming up a kettle while the children scatter to collect as many cool leaves as they can.  We have a bucket of naked crayons packed and ready to go.

2.  Mabon Pooka Pages

This thing is magic.  Almost every sabbat, Lora and the Pooka Pages team put out an e-zine full of coloring pages, a unique Pooka & Elsie story related to the sabbat, recipes, craft ideas, and more.  It's free and printable.  I have a print out of all of the Mabon issue packed and ready to go.  Stories and coloring pages are right up my alley, this year.  

3.  Jar Lanterns

Another bare-minimum supply activity that requires sitting.  I like those.  As much as I love the sturdiness of a mason jar, mine are all used up for canning, so I delved into the recycling bin and found a few winners.  It's harder than you'd think as so much comes in plastic!  I'm not sure yet whether we will decorate our jars with leaves, like No Wooden Spoons did...  or if I will just let the kids attack them with autumn colored paint, like Buggy and Buddy did.  Either way, I want to make nice thick handles for them like this other terrific Buggy and Buddy lantern post.

4.  Bike Riding

Adventure Girl and her brother can pull this one off while I put my feet up near the fire, this year.  Helmets and hoodies are the only gear required.

5.  Hiking (a.k.a. Nature Walk)

Well, I call it "hiking" because that sounds adventurous, but it's more like "taking a walk while carrying around a big stick".  The campground is small and relatively flat, so the kids peek-a-boo through shrubs, hop over giant boulders, and walk a gravel trail along the creek.  Like bike riding, this is an activity that  my children can do while I sit in a central location.  The only gear is a big stick and maybe a paper bag to collect special finds in. 

6.  Digital Camera

Doodle Bug loves a camera.  We used to give him a disposable one for every event we went to, but getting film developed is pricey these days.  It cost us $10 for a simple 27 print camera last time.  So, we put an extra sturdy strap on my old digital Canon, cross our fingers, and let our 12yo wander the campground with it.  Several of his images have made there way into our family grimoire over the years.

*  *  *

The rest of their time will be spent making meals, roasting marshmallows, playing on walkie-talkies, and simply existing at the cabin.  While they may balk at shower-time or getting a tuck-in at home, when you get to use the fancy camp showerhouse or climb into a rustic wooden bunk with your sleeping bag, ordinary activities become magical.

I think the cabin is partially why Mabon is one of my favorite holidays.  We always have a wonderful time there and I expect this weekend will be no different. 

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Thursday, August 6

Lammas in Pictures 2015

Last year we went full hog for Lammas (Our Rainy Lammas).  We had set up Tailteann Games and a mini family festival atmosphere with banners and a tent.  We invited extended family, blessed the garden, and feasted on farmer's market finds.  We had so much fun that I was certain we would continue these traditions this year.

However, with Papa J still in California until October and my belly growing bigger every day (and my energy quickly dwindling), I just couldn't pull off the Lammas family festival this year.

I knew I couldn't stay home, though.  If I did, my laziness would overcome all good intentions and we would have spent Lammas watching Netflix and doing laundry.  So, I packed the kids up and drove to the State forest.

There, we finally made it to the Double Diamond Deer Ranch.  I had intended us to visit at Litha, but rain had canceled our plans.  This time, it was a gorgeous day and the kids fully embraced the idea.

It was a great "big-brother" day for Doodle Bug.  He made sure Adventure Girl saw every deer there and helped her to feed apples to the fawns.

Touching these magnificent beasts brought the spirit of Cernunnos to our holiday.  The kids got to feel their coarse fur, their wet noses, and the soft velvet on their antlers.  I was explaining about the energy of the God and his role as protector of the creatures of the Earth when we stumbled upon a smattering of green acorns on the path.  Yet another symbol of the God, it was a purely magical moment.  The kids loaded their pockets.  I want to make necklaces from them to remember the day.

After spending a long time wandering the deer park, we parked along the river and unpacked a picnic lunch.  We kept it simple: fresh veggies with dill dip, bread with natural nutbutter & fruit spread, and fresh lemonade.

Before we ate though, we lit a candle to honor the spirit of the harvest and split a small John Barleycorn loaf that we'd made the day before.

Doodle Bug lit one of our homemade smudges and blessed our table and our family.

We finished the day exploring the park and making plans to return.

I hope your Lammas was as peaceful and heartwarming as ours was. 

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Making Smudges for Lammas

Just after Beltane every year, Mama Stacey drags her clan to a wonderful little herb festival tucked into the hills of Cooks Forest State Park.  It is a small gathering and one of those best-kept-secret type of events for the area.  Local greenhouses, mini-farms, fiber artists, jewelry makers, and pottery workers converge in the forest.  It's the best!  We always find unique items there, like cotton candy spun from pure maple syrup and plant varieties you can't find at big box stores.

We pack snacks and stake out a picnic table.  We see many area Pagans strolling through each year.   

On the right, some local Pagans. 
On the left, Mama Stacey, Doodle Bug, and Adventure Girl.

This past spring, I bought a Pineapple Sage plant and an Apple Mint plant amongst the other treasures we filled our car with.  They have both grown monstrously.  I chopped some of the Pineapple Sage and added it to the peach salsa I canned in July, but that barely made a dent in the bushiness of this plant.

I have always wanted to make smudges, but as a container gardener (we living in an apartment complex), I don't usually have enough leaves to work with.  Although my sage and mint are traditionally culinary herbs, I decided to give them a try in some sacred herb bundles to burn this autumn.  I was warned by the great internet that they may not work out because not all great tasting herbs smell good when burnt, but I thought it couldn't hurt to try.

**UPDATE: These smell wonderful when burning!  Very much like white/desert sage bundles I've bought online.   I have decided to make more to give away at Yule.**

To start, we selected some precious stones to gift our plants.  We watered them well and then carefully pinched a few dozen leaves from each plant.  I'm no expert, but we made sure to only take one leaf from pairs and distributed our clippings all over so as to not strain any particular stem/branch.

We collected from our Pineapple Sage and Apple Mint, along with our rather robust Citronella and a few sticky Morning Glory blooms from a plant Doodle Bug gifted me with at Mother's Day.  We used 100% cotton thread to bind our smudges.

I made them two different ways: folded and stem-down.

To make the folded one, I kept the stems all pointed towards the center as I layered the leaves.  After everything was added, I rolled it like a tight tiny burrito.  This was admittedly the hardest part.

I then folded the rolled herbs in the middle and tucked in some of the Morning Glory blooms (which had wilted, but not lost their sweet stickiness).  I then tied the thread around one end and began to tightly wrap the thread up to the top and then down to the bottom again.  I tied it off and let it dry for 10 days.

The second type I made was not folded.  It involved layering the leaves so that all the stems pointed in one direction.  This was to provide a natural handle at the base and allow for some tapering.

After layering, I rolled them like a burrito again and bound with the cotton thread.

This image shows the pattern I wrapped them with a little better.  The thread is straight and closer together on the first wrap (from stem to top).  On the second wrap (from top to stem), the thread is spaced out more and obviously diagonal.  I tied the thread off at the bottom.

These will darken and the loose bits will curl a bit as they dry.  We ended up drying these for around 10 days and they did burn, but I would recommend longer on future smudge-making projects.  Probably closer to a month.

In the end, these dried to a thickness of my index finger.  I imagine they could be made much thicker, but for one or two uses, these are perfect.

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Saturday, July 25

See You In Valhalla: A Movie Review

I stumbled across this little independent film in my journeys this past week and gave it a watch.  Here are some thoughts and details.

There were no big-screen names in this one, but plenty of small-screen actors from popular television shows.  That's usually the way with indie movies.  The up and coming Bridget Davis & the Viking Kings had a few featured songs of note. 

In a nutshell, the film features a dysfunctional family who had scattered after the death of their mother.  They all return home after their brother's bizarre death is all over the news.  And along the way, Vikings.

The film is rated R and I agree with that designation.  There are some mature themes, like meth addiction, suicide, teen pregnancy, abortion, and condemning of gays.  It is a short film, running a smidgen less than 80 total minutes.  

The following synopsis and review contains SPOILERS.  So, if you'd like to watch this film before continuing, I understand.  You can stream this on Amazon right now for about $5.  The below video is a theatrical trailer for "See You in Valhalla".  Anything beyond will reveal character information and storyline details.

The Family: 

This film features a "quirky" family the way many function in the real world.  The Burwoods are intolerant of each other and non-supportive.  Almost twenty years ago, their mother died and their father crumpled.  The children were left to raise themselves and it didn't go well for most of them.    They've since gone their separate ways and have plenty of emotional baggage. 

Don, the eldest, had enjoyed jock/varsity popularity before getting his girlfriend pregnant at 17.  He left home to get married and raise his child, claiming to have taken the high-road.  In the present, he has become a financial analyst with a conservative political stance, a distant wife, and a "perfect" daughter who's ready for college at 15, but spouts a bunch of anti-gay rhetoric and judges her aunt and uncles sternly. 

Barry, the second child, is homosexual and a doctor of psychiatry.  He seems the most comfortable and successful, but gets zero respect from his siblings.  He brings Makewi, his earthy, ex-addict body-builder boyfriend who wears sarongs, spouts Hawaiian mythos, and eats mushrooms. 

Johana, their sister and the central figure of the story, dropped out of school when she found herself pregnant at 16.  She left home to pursue a life of art and allowed rumors of her abortion and cowardice to spread.  Currently, she is in a new relationship with a cheerful man who doesn't comprehend how a family can hurt each other so much.   

Max, the youngest, had lost himself to meth addiction.  He got clean and moved to a Viking commune, embracing a life of Norse reconstructionism, and changing his name to Magnus.  There, he met the love of his life, another recovering meth addict, and brought her home with him.  When she falls back into addiction and dies from an overdose, Magnus tries to seek vengeance against the kingpin who sold her the drugs.  Unfortunately, Magnus is killed and declared a lunatic by the media.

Woody, the patriarch of the family, fell apart when his wife died.  He became distant with his children and hardly noticed their comings and goings.  He "woke up" when Magnus asked to move home after spending time at the Viking commune.  Life returned to Woody as he tried to be there for his son and his girlfriend, appreciating their new Norse lifestyle.  After the tragic loss of Magnus, the other children come home to find their father in ill health.  He has recently hired a new-age nursemaid who fills the home with meditation and sage smoke.

The Story:

All of the Burwood's issues and emotional pain converge into an all-out family war that almost causes them to combust in the days before Magnus's funeral can even be planned.  As each member of the family breaks, we learn things.  

Don is miserable.  His wife is cheating on him and they are getting divorced.  He reveals that he mocks his brother Barry's sexual identity because he thinks his brother turned out to be the best of them and he can't find anything else to throw at him.  Don's judgmental daughter awakens to the fact that she's had no childhood due to her father's regrets.  She drinks mojitos with Woody's nurse and likes it.

Barry tries to deal with Makewi as he goes off the rails, breaking into a construction site to steal lumber after having a vision of needing to "build an ark".

Johana reconnects with her highschool lover only to find that he is a loser who actively cheats on women.  She has a heart-to-heart with her current boyfriend just as he's about to walk away.  She finally opens up to him about her mother's death, her art, and the real reason she left home (not to abort her baby, but to have it and give it up in a closed adoption).

Woody reveals that he hid Magnus's private journal from the police and several of them read through it.  It is full of longing for the "family pack" to become strong again.  They learn about his love and his recovery from addiction and read about his vows to reunite the family.  He leaves a farewell message to his siblings, vowing to one day see them all around Odin's table in Valhalla.

During yet another fight, Woody has a heart attack, bringing clarity to the lost family.  During this time, Makewi "reads the signs" and decides to steal Magnus's body from the morgue.  He convinces the family to give their brother a proper Viking funeral.  Although some are hesitant, it becomes a beautiful purifying ceremony for the siblings.

The film ends with a visibly more loving and vibrant family, once torn apart by their mother's death, now reunited by their brother's passing.

The Review:

This film is a little slow, but if you're into indie films you'll understand why.  The comedy almost exclusively comes from the two new-age characters.  The drama is plentiful and feels real.  There are no fabricated, fill-in-the-blank sob stories.  The tales told by this family feel like it could be the family next door.

Unfortunately, by the time this film finds its groove, it becomes rushed.  After an hour and 10 slow-paced minutes (out of a total film time of 1hr 21mins), the story starts to gallop.  From the moment the children come to an understanding with their father the film becomes rushed, cramming golden moments like the stealing of Magnus's body and the Norse-style funeral into about 6 minutes.

Personally, I think I watched this movie for the scenes with Makewi as his one-liners and zen moments lightened this heavy drama for me.  It felt to me that his character carried the film not only with comedy, but also having a major role in every plot turn.   

The Viking-ness many were hoping for comes only in a few highlights and references.  Most of those moments are in short flashbacks to Magnus's recovery.  The film certainly isn't about a Norse family or even a new age family, however modern Pagan families will recognize a few things like an altar here or there, a glimpse of a sage bundle, etc.  I mention this purely because ITHOMS is a Pagan blog.  The film never pretends to be focused in such a manner.  

I adored the music in this movie.  Currently, it is not available on iTunes nor Amazon.  Notable songs include "Trouble Comes in Threes" and "Little Sister", both come from Bridget Davis & The Viking Kings (currently their album is a KickStarter project).  The entire soundtrack is enticing.

In the end, I doubt this will ever be a favorite in our home, but it was worth a watch.  I hope you'll give it a try some evening when you crave a moment of Paganism or reenactment in your movies.

"See You in Valhalla" is available for $14 on Amazon (even less if you pick up a used copy). 

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Tuesday, July 14

Adventure Girl

Our youngest has been known on this blog as 'Baby E' for over two years.  It was a nice place holder, but it is time for something new.

She was a ridiculously chubby and cuddly infant.  Those blue eyes and happy hugs have warmed hearts and endeared strangers.  The infant stage is a favorite of mine.  That rolly-polly, drooly giggle stage.  That cling-to-mommy stage.  That Elmo-makes-her-go-wild stage.  Adorable.

In her second year, Baby E's personality began to emerge.  She is a walking, shrieking beauty queen  with a solid stubborn streak.  She is fearless and determined.  She tackles things I am NOT ready for her to be doing, like climbing ladders, running free at the playground, or mixing cake batter with abandon.

Doodle Bug, her 12yo brother, was a skirt-clinger.  He didn't stray.  He didn't chase dogs and conquer the playground.  He didn't walk up the biggest slide just because it was the biggest.  He didn't grab the hands of other children and lead them on adventures.

Our little girl does all of these things and more.

She is an explorer and dabbler.  She is wild in the best of ways.  She is that girl wearing a ballet tutu and skull shoes.  She is that girl collecting worms with glitter pink polish on her fingers nails.   She wrestles her brother and dances with her mother.  She is the perfect blend of herself.

No longer a "baby" in the pediatric sense, I feel it is time to remove that from her title.  Especially with our son, 'Baby O', due in November, our daughter needs her own mark.

We debated quite a few names, like "Godzilla" (a family joke), or "Khaleesi" (our ode to Game of Thrones).  However, I wanted something she could grow with.

So, she will from this moment forward be known to you, our internet family, as...


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Wednesday, July 8

The Sea Goddess at Lammas

I can't tell you how it started, but our family has a growing tradition of honoring the sea and ocean spirits at Lammas, right alongside the usual sun and grain spirits.  Our First Harvest altar has always been bedecked in sun imagery, sheaves of wheat, ears of corn, and the like, however as the years go by, it is becoming crowded with sea glass, shells, turtles, mermaids, and sea creature crafts made by the kids, as well.

We seem to honor male deities through the harvest but our Goddess energy comes from the seas, rivers, and oceans at Lammas time.  Almost any book you'd read recommends honoring Goddesses of the Harvest and Earth Mother archetypes, such as Corn Mother and Demeter.  Personally, I find that I associate these ladies more with Mabon, when the harvest time is deeper and stronger.

This has been an informal incorporation in the past.  Our ceramic corn plaques and wooden sun shapes still dominate the altar, with our sea-green Goddess elements keeping to the fringe.  However, this year I'd like to fully accept water spirits as part of our celebration.  I'd like our water dish to be filled with water from our favorite beach.  I'd like our bowl of soil to be replaced with beach sand.  I foresee a bundle of shimmery blue-green cloth splaying across our altar like a river running through a field.

Lammas can be a blazing hot time, and perhaps this is a magical way of bringing balance to the day.  Last year we also adopted the growing tradition of Tailteann Games on Lammas but spent a lot of time in the pool as well (before we had to duck and cover from the rain!)

Anyone wishing to honor an aquatic goddesses has many to choose from.  Aphrodite was born of the sea by her Greek ocean mother Thalassa, after an unfortunate incident with those gruff boys Cronos and Uranus.  Asherah, often referred to as the 'Queen of Heaven', is an ancient Middle Eastern/Semetic goddess of motherhood and the sea.  Mazu is a Chinese sea goddess dressed in red who tames storms for sailors.   Mami Wata is a powerful Vodou and Santerian water goddess who takes the form of a mermaid, at times.  Tiamat is a creator goddess and ocean mother in Sumerian culture who birthed all of the gods and created dragons.  Namaka is the Hawaiian goddess of the sea and all powerful sister of Pele.  Salacia, Roman goddess of the Ocean, is the wife of Neptune and patroness of salt water.  In Hinduism, Ganga is the sacred yet stubborn patroness of the Ganges river.

Along with goddesses, water spirits and mythological creatures abound across the globe.  Oceanids, water nymphs, mer-people, sea dragons, and sirens fill mythology.  SJ Tucker (one of our household favorites when it comes to modern Pagan music) offers up the song 'La Sirene' to these creatures.

I am most touched by the Greek goddess, Tethys.  She is featured only in archaic Greek mythology, never having more than a passing mention as Oceanus' wife in classic Greek myths.  She was a Titaness who become mother to all of the Oceanids (water spirits) and gave birth to the rivers of the world.  While this cements her as a mother figure, she is also revered as a grandmother spirit.  There are very few depictions of her in Grecian art, but her face is always full and her hair thick, as if woven with sea grasses.

Tethys and her husband Oceanus. 
The power of sea goddesses is strong for me at Lammas time.  Again, I cannot explain where this influence came from.  Perhaps it comes from a July spent in the water.  An entire month spent swimming and gathering nature's trinkets from beaches and creeks.  We spend days in my mother's pool, cooling ourselves from the blazing sun.  Doodle Bug's skin takes on a warm tan that cuts off just at his tailbone, where his swimming trunks are usually placed.  Baby E's hair has gone summer-blonde, bleached by sun and chlorine.  Inevitably, we visit the aquarium in Pittsburgh and spend hours watching jellyfish, eels, piranhas, and sharks living it up in the water.  It is my witchlings' favorite part of the zoo. 

We spend rainy days painting watercolor turtles and wire-wrapping river rocks.    All of this tapers and blends in nicely with the August activities of corn-dolly making and berry picking.  It flows for us and so has become our unintentional tradition.

If the idea of embracing water spirits at Lammas time, or any other sabbat as I imagine this would also fit Litha/Midsummer very well for some folks, appeals to you... here are some groovy ideas I have come across.

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We have made mermaid-style strings of dime-sized mirrors (glue them back to back with twine or fishing line in the center), shells, and glass beads to drape around our altar this year.  I image one could even dangle green and blue crepe streamers if the weather cooperated.  A quick trip to Goodwill produced the blue cloth I will use to create our river.  This children have also used shimmery acrylic paint to spruce up a few clam shells.

I have eyeballed these Water Bottle Spirals from Happy Hooligans this year and feel that they will blend perfectly.

Crystalized sea shells bring that glitz we all love to see on the altar.  It's also a quick science lesson for your witchlets. These take a few hours to set.  Little Bins For Little Hands has the scoop.

Think Crafts has these rockin' jellyfish, although we may do something in more oceanic colors than neon.

And how adorable is the Puffer Fish???  He's made from paper plates and straws, along with a bunch of glue.  Visit Danielle's Place for instructions. 

And that bucket of stones, driftwood, and shells can be made into a mobile with very little effort.  Thrifty Fun instructs you hand bore holes in your items with a screwdriver... however we've had much less cussing simply using a power drill LOL.

Making mock coral and sand dollars will allow you to be more ocean-critter friendly by leaving these valuable habitat finds behind for the animals living there to use.  My Pinterventures has the recipe and some great tips.

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Friday, June 26

Flashfloods and Midsummer

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 our large Midsummer Huddle 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 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.

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