This past Saturday, I invited a couple of local Heathens and our guests to celebrate the Midsummer holiday and enjoy a picnic. We picked Font Hill Wetlands Park as our location, a small park with a gazebo in the middle of one of the ponds. I had never been there before but trusted the recommendation. The park itself was small but gorgeous, but it was a hot day and I was carrying several containers full of supplies, so I was unable to stop and admire the nature around me until I had gotten to the gazebo. At the pond, we observed all manner of wildlife: red-winged blackbirds, Canadian geese, a heron, turtles, minnows, butterflies, dragonflies, barn swallows, and even a few deer.
We set up our Midsummer altar at the gazebo. I thought there would be tables, but there was only a bench, so we used it because the pavilion floor itself was dirty. As a seasoned ritualist, I designed and led the ritual, inviting everyone present to make offerings to the gods. Many gods were petitioned: Thunor, Sunne, Frīg, Gerðr, Freyr, Freyja, Njörd, Nerthus. Afterward, we also made offerings to the local wights, acknowledging that we were on stolen Piscataway land and thanking the wights for their hospitality and benevolence.
Once the ritual ended, we cleaned up the pavilion and moved to a shaded patch of grass to have our picnic. I had cooked Italian pasta salad the previous night and picked up a couple jars of Charm City Meadworks mead, and the others brought a shrimp bulgur pilaf, freshly baked bread, and cold green tea with lime. There was a lot more food than we could eat, but we enjoyed it leisurely, sitting under the trees and chatting while the frogs croaked nearby.
Our Midsummer celebration and picnic was a huge success, despite some small hiccups. For some time now, I have wanted to celebrate holidays with other Heathens — in particular, other Heathens who approach the religion in a similar way as I do. The ritual was brief, but I feel like we were all satisfied with it and uplifted by it. And for me, it’s rewarding to bring people new to the religion together so they can get a taste of community and an understanding of how ritual works.
We all agreed it would be fun to meet up again for ritual, whether it’s a holiday or not, whether we have a picnic or not. We are actually thinking of eating at local restaurants afterward, too. Doing so would reduce the amount of things we each have to bring, and it would be fun to explore all of the different cuisines and menus. So now I am brainstorming a possible “group ritual” kit (because transporting my current incense burner is a pain in the butt) and when we might want to meet up again!
Featured photo credit: Jared Reaves