Celebrating the Solstice - Wreath Wildcrafting
For many years now it has been a ritual of mine to create a wreath of flowers and plants on the Summer Solstice.
The Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere usually falls towards the end of June and marks the longest day of the year and the beginning of Summer. The Sun is at its pinnacle on this day and after this the daylight hours will begin to shorten again as we swing slowly back to the cold time of the year. Here in the Pacific Northwest we have almost 16 hours of daylight and a profusion of flowers blooming. So, I usually like to spend the Solstice outside in our mild weather gathering plants and flowers to craft a wreath to hang in our home. It hangs near our hearth until the Winter Solstice, towards the end of December, which is the shortest day of the year and marks the first day of Winter. On the Winter Solstice the Sun is at its weakest, I’ll burn my wreath in a fire ritual to welcome its return and the lengthening of days once again.
This year on the Solstice I attended the 18th annual Fairy and Human Relations Congress in Eastern Washington, high in the mountains near Twisp, WA. It's been held every year in this beautiful valley called Skalitude.
The biomes east of the Cascade Mountains are very different than my Pacific Northwest home. They tend toward sage-brush scrub lands and Ponderosa Pine forests. The land is more hot and arid. It made for wonderful camping hidden deep under the pines. I saw quite a few beautiful snakes, even the very shy Rubber Boa!
The Congress was a wonderful retreat from my normal routine. I met quite a few interesting people and have a lot of new ideas incubating from the whole wild experience.
I arrived to the Congress on June 21st (The Summer Solstice). After setting up my tent and wares booth, I decided to walk the forest and field a bit to introduce myself to the land and plants there. I noticed how different the birdsong was and the tenor of the wind. With permission from the plants I gathered them for my wreath as the Sun set.
Arrowleaf Balsamroot grew all over the forest floor here and I could not resist its beautiful beckoning silver leaves.
Yarrow, Lupine, Cusick’s sunflower, and lime green lichen lined the paths and fields everywhere.
As I gathered with gratitude, I asked them to lend me their bounty and good fortune for the coming turning of the seasons. I then took my treasures to an erected teaching tent towards the edge of the gathering that lay empty for the evening. I sat down with my knife and yarn to shape my wreath in the last light of the day.
I never use wire when making my wreaths since I almost always burn them in ritual. For this reason, I also like to use a plant based twine when binding the plants together. Here I’m using a green cotton yarn.
Shaping is a meditative process for me. I work in a circle adding plants and tying them together until I achieve the shape I want.
Once finished, I again thanked the plants for their generosity and watched the moon for a while before walking back to my tent to hang my wreath nearby on a fence to dry. Each day at the Congress when I saw it I thought of how it would come home with me, carrying its light and hope of the sun deep into the darkness of winter.
I enjoy marking the natural cycles of the Earth in my life and celebrating the beauty of these rhythms. I encourage you to explore creating your own rituals in time with the seasons that shape our lives!