Earth Art

ebbing and flowing~

elemental interplay

of impermanence


Summer Solstice Ritual


As we are coming up to the Summer Solstice (a time for expanding, ripening), I want to suggest a ritual—a space clearing, altar building, honor and refresh your life ritual. It involves a ceremony of alignment, gratitude, healing, creativity, beauty, and dedication to participation and service. Taken all together it is a celebration of indigenous cultures worldwide.

The heart of the ceremony is your altar, and your altar may be whatever feels right for you, but a suggestion is this:

Place a special square cloth on the floor or on a table.

South—the “bone of the mother”—a stone or crystal. Bring it to your center, offer your breath to it, and place it on the south side of your cloth connecting to the medicine of mother earth.

West—“mother moon”—a shell. Bring it to your heart, offer your breath to it, and place it on the west side of your cloth connecting to the medicine of the moon.

North—“mystery, spirit”—a feather. Hold the feather above your head, offer your breath to it, and place it on the north side of your cloth connecting to the medicine of the one source.

East—“wisdom”—a candle. Place the unlit candle to your brow, offer your breath to it, and place it on the east side of your cloth connecting to the medicine of your knowing. Light it.

Center—the “awakened rainbow”—your most treasured sacred item. Hold it outward between your heart and head (the longest journey, and it is a round trip), offer your breath to it, and place it in the center connecting your medicine to the healing of the world. Add a few drops of aromatic water to the center blowing reverence into it 3 times. Add 3 cocoa or bay leaves to the center, blowing reverence into them 3 times—place them to connect to the medicine of unity. Snap your fingers to seal in the energy. The origins for this ritual come from the Americas.

After a bow of reverence to the medicine wheel, you may begin the ritual of sending the heavy, seemingly stagnant energy in your living space back to the earth—like compost. It isn’t “bad” energy, but it doesn’t serve you. It is time for it to be replaced by fresh, vibrant, light energy.

The origins for the next ritual come from Asia with a process I developed utilizing the 5 Chinese elements. [I am including examples of tools I use; these can be modified to suit tools you have or that resonate with you.]

Prior to a clearing, I write down what my intention for the clearing will be. This may be something I want to change, something I want to say good-bye to, or something I hope for the future. As summer is the season of expansion/ripening, my intention will have to do with that dynamic.

I bring out 5 small plates, tea lights (candles), and flowers and create 5 flower mandalas (with the flower heads and/or pedals) on the small plates with a tea light and flowers. I light the tea lights and place the plates around the medicine wheel.

Different energies are associated with each of the elements.

First, the Purification (Water) round—ahead of time, I prepare my water by pouring purified water into a spray bottle. I add an essential oil and then leave the bottle out in the sun or under a full moon. When it is time to start the clearing, I walk around the edges of my space starting at the front door and walking along the right wall all the way through the house until I end up back at the front door. For this first round, I spritz with my water blend as I walk through the house. The water element is associated with the kidney in Chinese medicine, and the room most associated with this energy is the bathroom. After I have made my cycle, I take one of my small plates with the tea light and flowers into the main bathroom, and set it down.

Next, the Vitalization (Wood) round—the purpose of this round is to dislodge and shake up heavy/stagnant energy. For this I use a drum, a gong, or just clap my hands. Again, start at the front door and walk the edges of your space—be sure to hit the corners of your rooms as energy can get trapped in them. The wood element is associated with the liver, and the room association is the kitchen. After completing the cycle, I take a plate to the kitchen and set it down.

The Activation (Fire) round is next—I clear out the now loosened negative energy by lighting pre-positioned candles around the space, or by burning sage or special incense and directing the smoke into all the nooks and crannies. [Warning—be careful with the sparks and do not hover near your smoke detector!] The fire element is associated with the heart, and the room most associated with fire is the living room. After this cycle, I locate a plate in the living room.

For the Transformation (Earth) section of the ritual, I bring out what I have written. For safety, I generally go outside with an “ashtray” of some sort. With reverence for my written intention of transformation, I set the paper on fire, reducing it to ash. The earth element is associated with the spleen, and the room is the dining room.

Finally, the Regeneration (Metal) round—the purpose of this round is to bring in and seal fresh/clean positive energy. I use a special bell for this, again setting my intention. The metal element is associated with the lungs and the room association is the bedroom. After completing this cycle, I take the final plate to the master bedroom and set it on the dresser or bed table.

It takes approximately 4 hours for a tea light to burn out completely. I generally do this when I will be home for 4 hours after this ritual so that they will burn out, but if I must leave earlier, I blow them out for safety.

The 5 elements relate to each other in “nourishing” and “controlling” cycles. The above ritual follows the elements through an entire nourishing cycle. Water nurtures wood, wood feeds fire, fires makes earth, earth creates metal.

And then gratitude! Celebrate the freshness and beauty that surround you, and the revitalized spirit within you!