The Summer Solstice, that great hinge and turning point of the year, is traditionally a time of celebration, perhaps the single most significant celebration in the Wheel of the Year for Druids and Pagans.
But looking at the news at the time of this Solstice, there seems little cause for celebration; in fact celebration feels, to me at least, hollow and even callous in the face of the appalling evils in the world right now. As I write this, the President of the USA, acting under guidance from a far-right activist with links to the neo-Nazi “alt right”, is tearing children from their families and locking them in wire frame cages in abandoned warehouses. Video and audio of these prison camps has been released which I won’t link to here, but which you can find easily enough. It shows children screaming. There have been suicide attempts. By children.
(Update: since writing this, the President has signed an order “reversing” his earlier order to separate children from parents. However, this order has no effect on the children already held in prison camps, who will remain separated. Any new families being imprisoned will be held together, but still in internment camps, and still detained indefinitely. Whole families are being locked up for no crime, and children who were already taken from parents are not being reunited. I’ll believe the President has truly changed his mind when all the camps are closed and families reunited in freedom).
Closer to home, the UK government is steamrollering a destructive hard-right “Brexit” rooted in fear, racism and xenophobia. Climate change is rising, and governments are doing nothing to stop it. Wars, poverty, discrimination, hatred, are rife. At the Summer Solstice, the time of greatest light, the sun shines on an unfair and unjust world.
But the Summer Solstice is a turning point. For as the light reaches its zenith, the year turns towards darkness. As a Pagan, I don’t hold with the Christianised equation of light with good and dark with evil. This idea, which has itself been used to justify colonialism and racism, has no place in a spirituality that holds the night, the moon and the dark to be as sacred as the sun and the day.
As we turn to the darkness, may we find peace and healing. And may we find something else – power.
There is power in darkness. Witches ancient and modern know this, holding rites beneath the velvet blackness of the midnight sky. In darkness we are unseen, we are changed, we become mystery, magic. And magic can hex as well as heal.
For what it’s worth, I’m not a “love and light” Pagan. Druidry has a dark side.
So this Summer Solstice, this shortest night, this turn towards the dark, once the sun in its glory has set beyond our sight, I offer this hex, a prayer to the darkness.
To all who do evil, and those who manipulate others to do evil;
To all who aid and abet evil, through action or through word;
To all whose works bring division, fear and pain;
To all whose thoughts are malice and hate:
May darkness rise and cover you.
May darkness rise and overwhelm you.
May darkness rise and silence you.
May darkness rise and banish you.
May darkness rise and weaken you.
May darkness rise and take you.
May shadows hold and bind you,
Now and evermore.
Now and evermore.