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And then legged it up the garden path

21st June 2010 – the Midsummer Solstice

Here we are again, and apologies for the long interval between blogs.  I am actually writing this just before Psychic Sally’s Big Fat Operation.  Inevitably the programme will start as I’m typing and then I’ll have to come back to it in the commercial breaks.  So, if there are bits and bobs that don’t make sense along the way, blame Big Fat Sally and not me. 

Summer Solstice night.  I look forward to it all year!  The longest day and the shortest night and as we live in Orkney it is probably a lot shorter than most people who are reading this have ever experienced.  On a typical midnight on the Solstice you can go outside in your garden and read a book or do your gardening without having the need of a torch.  There is a special kind of twilight known by the Orcadians as the ‘simmer dim’.  As we all know, twilight and dawn are the two times of day that faerie activity are most common.  Solstice sunset time is officially at 9.30pm here.  However, the sun doesn’t really disappear and the dark cloak of the real night isn’t upon us until after midnight.  This means that we have quite a few hours of the simmer dim.  The sun rises at 2.58am, so we only have a couple of hour’s real darkness in the middle of summer.  This is great for reading in the garden, weeding, barbecues or going for walks late at night.  Although, not so ideal for outdoor rituals of the faerie kind in a neighbourhood populated almost exclusively by devout Christians.  Incidentally, I don’t really have a problem with Christians, I even like to visit Kirkwall Cathedral when I am shopping in the city and sit quietly in the special atmosphere there, but Christians do sometimes have a problem with what I believe in.  Therefore, our little rite had to be discreet, short and sweet.

We don’t live in a densely populated area at all and our cottage is a quarter of a mile away from the nearest house.  However, as visibility late on the Solstice night is almost as good as in the day time, we would be in full few of several farms, who all own binoculars and I believe get a lot of use out of them.

With this in mind Alcina and I (Daisy was sadly not with us on this night and we missed her terribly) remained in our everyday clothes so not to attract attention.  We didn’t set up an altar, but just brought out a tray with the simplest of magical tools; our wands, two candles that we needed for a spell, matches, mead in a wooden goblet and a biscuit in a tiny offering bowl as a gift for the faeries.  We had decided to have the ritual in the vegetable garden of The Mouse Hole as we had recently been spending a lot of time there planting vegetables.  We had also set up a faerie ring out of huge wooden toadstools in which we had planted our onion sets only a couple of days previously within the circle in a spiral pattern.  Because we had been making a lot of effort to make the garden special, it felt a good place to have our first outdoor ritual of the Daisy Faerie Ring.

Alcina and I got outside at around 10pm.  The weather was warm and there was barely a breeze.  It was an enchanting night to say the least and the sea, (about a quarter of a mile from our house) had a sea mist settling mysteriously on the surface.  It couldn’t have felt more magical.  We set up our magical tools, facing north, which is towards the neighbouring island of Papa Westray, at the edge of the wooden mushroom faerie ring.  We had decided to simplify the rite and set up a quick faerie circle, to be discreet as possible.  (See my book Faeriecraft pg 210 in the Consecrating Your Wand chapter if you would like to try this). 

Once our circle had been cast we lit two yellow candles for the spells that we were performing.  Just as Alcina was lighting the second candle Mr. Sheep Farmer came trundling up our driveway  (it is a quarter of a mile dirt track and driving along it feels like you have been to transported to Afghanistan – in other words, not glamorous)  which is adjacent to our vegetable garden.

‘Oh ****!’ I exclaimed as Alcina and I hastily blew out the candles, grabbed our guilty faerie stuff, and then had to scarper up the garden path as quick as you could say ‘Robin Goodfellow’s pants’.  We were giggling as we ran.  Then as quick as we could we grabbed trowels and a gardening fork from the shed and came back into the garden and pretended to do the gardening very loudly with exclamations such as; ‘back breaking work is digging!’ and ‘I hate weeding.  ‘Mr. Sheep Farmer didn’t look alarmed whatsoever, so hopefully we pulled the wool over his eyes (sorry!).

Anyhow, Mr. Sheep Farmer left about ten minutes later after tending to his lambs. Alcina and I then gratefully retrieved our faerie stuff to carry on where we had left off.  Of course, my big mistake had been that I had forgotten to perform The Cloak of Invisibility.  I have never forgotten that before so I was quite cross with myself.  I think that I have not worked outside for so long, being used to inclement weather in Orkney and having to work rites indoors we never need it, so I had got out of the habit of doing them. 

We performed our spells and then honoured the Solstice night with a few words from each of us to the Faerie King and Queen.  Then we blessed the mead and biscuit.  An interesting little diversion here; Alcina hates alcohol and doesn’t exactly forbid me to drink it, but when I do (which is seldom – of course) she gives me such a hard time of it that I rarely bother anymore.  Therefore, I thought I was taking a bit of a risk putting mead into the chalice, but did it anyway, thinking that Alcina would drink it grudgingly then screw up her face and spit it out and then make me do the same.  I was SO wrong.  Firstly, she didn’t complain, but actually giggled that there was mead in the chalice and secondly she took a massive gulp, giggled some more and then said; ‘actually I could get quite used to mead!’ and then giggled some more.


I did suggest to her for a moment that we could be in an alternate reality, where everything was exactly the same except that Alcina had suddenly willingly, drunk some alcohol.  I was assured by her that no, in fact, we were in exactly the correct reality.

Even more worrying.

Now this really is Psychic Sally’s fault as I have clean forgotten to mention that as soon as we held hands and began our ritual we couldn’t stop giggling the whole way through.  No difference there then.  That is always a reassuring sign that the faeries really were with us that night.  Now that Psychic Sally is a whole lot thinner (don’t you just love those before and after shows?)  I’ve just about reached the end of my sparkly blog.  Don’t worry; Daisy hasn’t disappeared off the scene completely as she has come over to The Mouse Hole especially to watch Psychic Sally’s Big Fat Operation.  She’s eating her second helping of homemade popcorn and drinking hot chocolate as I write.  So as you can see, Sally’s now thin, the Solstice was eventful and giggly and once again the sheep made sure they made an appearance in our rite as usual.

Until, next time; sheep willing – may the good faeries always be with you.

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