For me, summer comes with the childhood nostalgia of weeks filled with fun, freedom, fireflies, and stargazing. I clearly remember searching the night sky for shooting stars, making wishes, and daring them to come true. It was a magical time for me, and the magic continues. As an adult, I use this time of year to celebrate growth, healing, love, and nature. I integrate my celebration with friends and a nighttime firepit ritual in the untamed wild of my backyard. Under the stars in a fun, loving, and supportive environment, we celebrate summer while holding space for each other’s healing and growth. I’d like to share my ritual with you, so you can create your own version or borrow mine!
Before I move on to the ritual, I’d like to share something with you: Several years ago, during one of my summer celebrations, we caught a glimpse of the fire goddess pictured here. Since then, each year, I have paid respects to her and petitioned for her continued support.
Although fire is often viewed as a masculine energy, she also has a feminine aspect. Around the world, people call the fire goddess many names: Oya in West Africa, Agneya in India, Ankhiale and Hestia in Greece, Chantico in Mexican and Aztec traditions, Darago in the Philippines, Pele in Hawaii, Brigid in pagan traditions, Feronia in Rome, and Sekhmet in Egypt. Since the fire goddess’s appearance, my women-only ritual specifically honors the divine feminine aspect of the fire element, which encompasses warmth, passion, and fierce warrior retribution.
My annual ritual is the first weekend in August. It coincides with Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas, typically celebrated in early August, between the summer solstice and autumn equinox.
Numbers are the language of the universe, so when doing any ritual, I incorporate the topic of the ritual with the number corresponding to it. For example, if I want to bring about change, I may invite five friends or use five ingredients because the number five invites change. The perfect number for growth, healing, and love is six, so my ritual includes six ingredients.
Effective rituals require reciprocity. In life, we are accustomed to saying “thank you” after something was done for us, but in magic, you offer gratitude while making your request and before your desire comes to fruition. Making offerings is a standard practice for those of us who work with ancestors, elements, and different energies or entities. For example, I provide my ancestors’ daily offerings of incense and coffee just because, but special requests may come with money, meals, flower bouquets, sweets, or libations.
Healthy relationships require an equitable energy exchange, so when performing any ritual where you are petitioning the support of an entity or energy, I suggest you provide offerings. We initiate our ritual with an offering to each element before making our offering to the fire goddess. A simple prayer of gratitude is said into a bowl of water, then poured into the earth as an offering to both elements. A stick of nag champa incense is burned, and gratitude is expressed to the air element for assisting us. We then move on to creating the fire. The best part is that the offering (dead branches and dried leaves from my yard) also assists the fire in being born. The fire will have more to consume, as you will soon see.
In my store Curio, Craft & Conjure, we are fond of telling our clients, “Always clear before you call.” Our logic is simple: If you want something you don’t already have, there must be an energy, belief, or other obstacle standing in the way. “Only an empty bowl can be filled” is a wise old expression that coincides with a quote from Aristotle: “Nature abhors a vacuum.” We start our ritual with a releasing ceremony.
Releasing with fire is a powerful and beautiful way to let go of what is holding you back. Here is how we do it:
• Write down what you are ready to release. It may be thoughts, ideas, or beliefs. Or you may have a picture of you and the ex you are now ready to disconnect from.
• If you’re part of a group, allow each person to take turns stating aloud what they are ready to release while walking counterclockwise around the fire.
• After saying what you’re ready to release, fold your list or picture away from you five times.
• After folding your list, toss it into the fire, take a moment to watch it burn, then move on to the next participant.
• When everyone has had a turn, toss a few sticks of palo santo into your fire to clear any residual unwanted energy—while keeping the desired energy.
We keep the flame going to call in our desires. Each person now lists what they would like to invite into their lives. It may be an improvement on an existing situation or something completely new to them. And it can be a whole list of things or just one. Note: If you do have a list, your release list should have identified what you perceive as the obstacle for each item on your desired list.
Next, I offer each participant a pinecone that I save specifically for events like this so they can write each wish on a slip of paper and tuck it into the crevices of their pinecone. I believe in the power of writing your goals, dreams, and wishes—even more than a vision board. Something happens between the body and the brain as you imagine your desires coming to fruition.
Each person blows lightly on their wish-filled pinecone. “Spirit” and “breath” are the same word in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. When we put our breath into something, it takes on part of our spirit.
Finally, we all throw our pinecones into the fire and toast to the fire goddess! We’ll sit and gaze at the night sky, looking for shooting stars—our sign that our wishes are being well received.
Before the flames go out, I’ll toss dried rose petals into the firepit to carry the energy of love, then borrow the final flame from the firepit to light a yellow or orange seven-day candle for my altar to keep the energy going.
However you choose to celebrate the season, invite the magic of warmth, passion, joy, laughter, and light into your celebration. And maybe if you’re lucky, you will get a glimpse of the fire goddess too.