It has been a dark week. The state of affairs in two of the world’s oldest democracies has been really getting to me.
It started with the appalling shooting of 49 LGBT people in Orlando, Florida. It is never simple to untangle the threads of motivation in such a case, but there can be little doubt that the killer hated LGBT people. And that the surrounding discourse against gay and trans people in the US recently contributed to what happened. A populist politician used the atrocity to congratulate himself for being right about Islamic extremism.
Later in the same week, a young and brilliant Member of the UK Parliament was stabbed and shot in the street. Here, also, the threads of motivation are twisted and knotted, but the name the suspect gave himself when he appeared in court, and the images of his history leave little doubt that the killer hated what Jo Cox stood for. And that the surrounding ‘debate’ about the EU referendum, with its blatant xenophobia and scaremongering against immigrants, contributed to what happened. On the same day, a populist politician posed in front of a poster that is virtually indistinguishable from of Nazi propaganda.
Dark times indeed.
The contrast with the light and joy of the Summer Solstice couldn’t be greater. This festival celebrates the point of greatest light. The days are long and green growth is at its peak. The world is full of life and creativity. Little apples are swelling on the trees in my garden. Swallows dance and dart in the sky. Life is celebrating itself.
The Summer Solstice ceremony of the Druid Order I belong to is a ritual of integration. The qualities of the four elements are brought together in the centre of the Sacred Circle to symbolise all our powers coming together and peaking at this time of year. It is a joyful time at the crest of the wave of the seasons.
With all the turmoil that is happening in our human world, I feel fragmented, my power shattered. I feel powerless against the ugliness all around me. But as I Druid I have faith that I can tap into the power of this moment and use its light to counterbalance the dark.
So at this Summer Solstice, I will go out into my garden and call myself back to myself. I will stand in the Four Directions, calling back the sparks of my Soul’s fire that have become scattered to the wind. I will build the fire of my Soul so it can shine brightly into the world once more. And then I will pledge to use my power for the good of all.
This time of constant challenge can be wearing and draining for all of us. It is good to remember that we are part of the natural world, and that we can turn to Nature for support. We can use the high tide of the Solstice to boost our own power. We can tap into the strength of the Sun so we can shine brightly and work effectively for the flourishing of all beings.