Ah, that wonderful time of year again when Sunna, great goddess of the sun,
rides her great chariot to the highest she can manage. When the sun shines upon
the earth like at no other time.
Midsummer is officially on the summer solstice, which falls
upon June 21 in the northern hemisphere. Midsummer has
many meanings to many different people around the world,
both in ancient times, and in the modern era.
During this time, many people from all over the world would celebrate
the summer solstice, being the longest day of the year. This was a time
of merriment, celebration, trade, prosperity, and for Vikings, a time for raiding.
Midsummer also has darker side, being the longest day of the year, the following days and weeks could only get shorting leading up to fall and winter. “Winter is Coming”, a popularsaying from Game of Thrones, is a very true statement. It always is coming. Our ancestors were always conscious of the approaching darkness of winter. While this is a time of celebration and merriment, it is also a time of silent contemplation, of planning for the dark to come. But for now, at least it is a time for happiness, a time for the gods and family! The great god of light Baldur was said to have been slain around this time, a grievous blow to the Aesir, but they recovered, and continued living their lives. A lesson to us, that regardless of the occurrence, we can learn from it, and move on.
This is a time to send our blessings and praise to Sunna, the sun and receive her life giving gifts in return. We cannot survive without her love and care. This is also a time to honor Dagr, the god of the day. In this time as heathens we must thank the sun goddesses and god of the day for the blessings they bestow uponus. Without them and their glory we would not be alive today. This is a time for a blot or feigning, one of the most important of the year. This is a great time to recharge our “spiritual batteries” as I like to say.
We pray, and we are close to the gods, and we are out in nature and we are close to the gods. But after a time of not truly sacrificing, or really meditating, or nurturing our connection to the divine in some way, our relationship with the gods begins to whither. Not to say that it will die or disappear for those true to the old ways are always with them, but when we hold blots or ceremonies and rituals of any kind, we strengthen those bonds once again, recharge our spiritual batteries. A gift for a gift.
It is Midsummer! Hail! A time of happiness and prosperity before the coming dark. We must hold a blot and honor all of the gifts The Holy Powers bestow upon us, ask them to continue to give us such gifts, and give them our own. Gifts must always be given one to the other, as it has always been and as it must always be!
Certain celebrations take place on the evening of the summer solstice. Great roaring Bonfires, speeches, songs and dancing are most traditional. Folk traditions include the making of wreaths, the kindling of fires, the burning of corn dollies (human figure made of straw), and the adornment of fields, barns, and houses with greenery.
Midsummer as particularly a time to make blessings to Baldur. Model Viking ships are also sometimes made from thin wood, filled with small flammable offerings, and burned. Midsummer is the high point of the year, the time when deeds are brightest and the heart is most daring. This is the time when our Viking forebears, having their crops safely planted, sailed off to do battle in other lands. It is a time for action and risk, for reaching fearlessly outward.
Other traditional events include raising and dancing around a huge maypole. Before the maypole is raised, greens and flowers are collected and used to "may", the entire pole. Raising and dancing around a maypole to traditional music is primarily a fertility ritual.
The holiday is considered the time of the death of the Fair God of sunshine, Baldur and thus the turning point at which summer reaches its height and the Sun shines longest, but at the same time it is when the days will soon begin to shorten and the Earth is beginning its slow descent into winter again. For that reason, some groups prefer to honor the Goddess Sunna for she is the Sun that shines on crops during the summer months. It is important to note that midsummer is actually the first day of summer and not the middle.
One idea for midsummer is to remain awake all night and mark the shortest night of the year, then at sunrise to perform a "Greeting of Sunna" blot to her.
Another midsummer custom is the rolling of a flaming wagon wheel down a hill to mark the turning of the wheel of the year. If fire would otherwise be a hazard, one could parade a wheel covered with candles for similar effect.
Hail the gods and goddesses of the Aesir and Vanir! Hail Sunna. Hail Baldur, Hail Dagr, Hail the Ancestors, Hail the Vaettir, and all of the Holy Powers! Hail my readers! HAIL ASATRU!