Emma-Jayne Saanen

Summer Solstice 2011

Sky over the Clyde

On Sunday I had the privilege of leading Tuatha de Bridget’s Summer Solstice ceremony, which unintentionally became a personal initiation for me.

When I first volunteered to write a ceremony, I had my heart set on Samhain. My life walks hand in hand with death, and death is a core part of my personal spiritual work. I was disappointed to be told no, and I was annoyed about being given the Summer Solstice. I am not a Summer person. It is far to warm and (relatively) dry. The days drag on. Obnoxious teenagers are freed from school and allowed to roam the streets and terrorise communities. I just did not like the Summer.

But now, I am glad to have been allowed to work with Summer in such an intimate way. I learned that my love of the grasslands teeming with invisible life goes hand in hand with Summer, of the joyful songs carried in the breeze and dawn chorus, of the threads of sunlight that are woven to form the intricate web of existence that links us all. Summer is not my enemy, Summer is a friend I have neglected for far too long (though I still have to deal with the roaming herds of teenagers!).

I have a tendency to work with local spirits and deities, and anyone who cares to stop by my home and say “hi!” But for this ritual, I felt it was time to formally introduce myself to Tenger, Eternal Blue Heaven, the closest I can come to believing in a creator deity.

To me, Tenger cannot be personified. Sie was there from the start, when the universe exploded into existence, when the stars came together and began churning out the building blocks of our experiences, the elements. Tenger is within everything, and sees everything. There is no judgement, no morals, and no external consequence. We should live our lives with honour, and take responsibility for our own actions, our own lives.

It was challenging to write for hir, while honouring Summer and Sun and while trying to map my personal cosmology onto a familiar ritual pattern so that everyone would feel comfortable.

Scotland is not well known for its good weather, and Sunday was no exception. The sky was thick with clouds, and rain was not far away – a perfect day for honouring a Sky deity!

As we walked to the site of the ritual, the rain began to fall. Gently at first, drumming a gentle beat on the leaves above us. As the circle was cast, the rain came down a little harder. Then with each mention of Sun and Summer, more and more rain fell. Listening to the words of my ritual being spoken in such a downpour was just so absurdly funny. It was impossible not to laugh!

I am so glad our deities and the members of Tuatha have a sense of humour!

After the ritual, a few people came to me to reassure me that the rain did not ruin the day. But the thing is, not once did I see the rainfall as negative or as a “bad omen”. The thought never occurred to me!

What I saw, and what I felt, was an unintentional initiation. In the weeks leading up to the ritual, I have been trying to formalise my practice, trying to listen to the voice in my heart that tells me that I am a shamanist. I am a shamanist, a newbie, a student, and someone who still has plenty of mistakes to make, but a shamanist none the less.

Tenger gave me a trial by water and I hope I passed, and can walk through life with honour.

I am still carrying the energy of the laughter from the ritual. I thought to myself “when was the last time I felt such perfect joy?”. I did not have to think for long … Beltane, in the woods, laughing with Kulta while the pair of us rolled around in the leaves. Kulta was laughing again as the pair of us got a severe soaking.

I could not have asked for a better ceremony, or better people to share my ceremony with.

Another perfect moment.

Tenger, I thank you and love you.

Link: The wording of the ritual

Footnote: I am not a Tengerist, nor do I have any connection to any Mongolian race or tribe. I am inspired by the work of Sarangerel, in particular her book Riding Windhorses. I speak only for myself and share my own UPG.


  1. It was a wonderful ceremony and full of joy and wonder. You did a fantastic job :)

  2. I couldn’t be there to witness this so I thank you for sharing here.
    It brought tears to my eyes and lifted my heart <3

  3. It was effing marvellous – cant put it more elegantly than that :)
    I think the finer details and how the ritual was structured (to be more in line with the groups practices) didnt matter at all (I seem to recall your having slight concerns about that). It was something new and differerent and pretty amazing. As far as us mere mortals are concerned, what we did and how we did it was mostly irrelevant. You brought a cool friend to the party and he arrived in style :)

    Thankyou for (another) wonderful experience :)

    P.S. Don’t ever stop being a student ;)


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