Summer solstice took place this year in Vancouver on June 21st at 3:51am. It marks the first day of summer, and is the longest day of the year. This year it coincided with Aboriginal Day, which my friend Jerilynn Webster (aka JB the First Lady) calls “Original Day”.
I was asked this year to co-ordinate a Solstice Ritual/Celebration to wrap up a day long event organized by the Gathering Place Community Centre in the Downtown South-side of Vancouver. The festival was appropriately called the “Gathering Festival” and offered some wonderful cultural showcasing and entertainment of and for the people in and around this community. There was also a salmon dinner, amongst other free treats and workshops leading up to the event.
Our Solstice Ritual took shape as a procession lead by the Orkestar Slivovica and brought alive by some Curlypaws creatures and some members of the Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret. Earlier in the evening Beverly Dobrinksy lead festival goers in the making of traditional Ukranian Kupala flower headbands. The table was piled high with beautifully fragrant “weeds” and flowers in the peak of their bloom, and people of all ages gathered around to make for themselves these gorgeous head pieces. Part of the Ukrainian Summer Solstice traditon was for the girls to float their flower garlands on the water of rivers and tell their fortunes from their movement.
We had quite a cultural experience this night, with a blending of the Orkestar Slivovica’s delightful balkan music, Beverly’s sharing of the Kupala making workshop, A wonderful performance by the Gathering Place choir lead by Earl Peach, a chance for people to write down prayers, wishes and intentions to be released into the universe by fire, and an acknowledgment of the land and sharing from Jerilynn Webster. She taught us a song and reminded us of “All our Relations”, and that if we were to look we would find many similar traditions and ritual when it comes to honouring our land and the shifting of seasons. A heart-felt gratitude to everyone who came out and shared their presence!