Jun
12
2022

Solstice Strawberry Practice

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For Seekers – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Seasonal Observances

At its heart, this is a very simple practice.

Eat Strawberries on the Summer Solstice

On or close to the actual Solstice moment, stand in a field and eat a strawberry. Let yourself be in communion with the berry and the landscape and the sun.

Freeze Strawberries on the Summer Solstice

Rinse the berries and remove the stems. Place on a baking tray and slide it into the freezer. Once the strawberries are frozen, transfer to a container or freezer bag. Be sure to note that these are the strawberries harvested on the Summer Solstice.

Eat Summer Solstice Berries on the Winter Solstice

Enjoy them simply as a dessert or make them a centerpiece of a bonfire ritual.

 

Doing this simple practice last year connected me to light and dark, life and death, heat and cold, and made me aware of the spirit in the material. It was – to use an overused word with its original depth – awesome. To taste the awesome regularly need not be complicated but it is totally necessary to keep moving through these turbulent times in which we live.

Adding Layers to Deepen the Practice

Add oracular elements 

Bring your favorite divination tool to the field and divine aligned with the berries.

Last Solstice I took cards from Rachel Pollack’s Shining Tribe Tarot with me to the strawberry field and the 6 of Trees emerged to help me hear a message from the berries.

Rachel says that a key meaning of this card is to keep moving forward. The card meaning and the strawberry reality offered me this message: To keep moving forward create sweet moments in your life. This was an affirmation of my choice to take time from my busy life to engage in my strawberry ritual—and a reminder to build these ritual pauses into my life. Though they are moments when I am not focused on meeting a deadline or reaching a destination, they are moment of regeneration necessary for moving forward.

In the Shining Tribe companion book, Rachel introduces this card with a poem that ends: She walks like a singer,/through the forest of souls. The single human figure is surrounded many souls—of the trees, the earth, a snake  symbols, and the creature that follows her. This has me recognizing the soul of the strawberry and pondering how this bright berry grows from the soul of the landscape. Flowing with these strawberry revelations, I am released for a while from the mechanistic worldview that shaped me. I float instead in the sacred and its web of connections. The mechanistic worldview is deep within me so will pull me back, but now I’ve met the soul of the strawberry I can’t forget it.  I’ve been changed by this recognition and will seek again and again to experience, share, and expand this way of looking at the Strawberry.

Learn about the medicinal and/or magical uses of the strawberry

In many areas of my life, I’m quick to try out new things and experiment even without much knowledge of a subject. But not with plants. Here I have been unadventurous. But as I’ve worked with and been taught by Yesbelt Fernandez of Yes Spiral through our collaboration on Walking the Ways of the Summer Light my ability to work with plants has grown. Yesbelt models a comfort with plants gained from developing an relationship with them that is inspiring. She doesn’t claim to be an expert in all things herbal, but a lover of plants who shares what she knows. She invites everyone to do the same. So since I know I am not allergic to strawberries, I’m looking into using strawberries for teeth and gum care at least while they are in season. Perhaps I can cut down at least a little bit on products that come in plastic tubs!

Explore indigenous stories about strawberries

Wild strawberries are native to—or have been around for millennia in—the Americas, Europe, and Asia so there are many stories to explore. Given its heart shape, it is not surprising to have associations with European Goddesses pop up related to the strawberry in a Google search, though this traditions don’t seem to be that detailed or significant.

Strawberry creation stories from the Native American Indian tradition are widespread. The Nipmuck of the Central Massachusetts and the Connecticut River Valley where I live have a story of the finding and sharing of berries leading to the ending of their quarrels between a brother and sister. The story told on this site ends with:

Each year when the strawberry festival is held it is customary for anyone holding a grudge against someone to invite that person to the festival as a token of forgiveness. Anyone who is not ready to make peace with an estranged friend or relative should not take part in the strawberry festival.

It is a lovely story and—like this strawberry Solstice practice I’ve been sharing—rather simple. But the implications of its connection to forgiveness are deep and challenging. This story offers me the teaching that if we do not take active steps to seek and offer forgiveness then we can not partake of the sweetness of the season.

This invites us to practice forgiveness in the Solstice season.

On an individual level, each of us might want to offer an apology and bring strawberries to the one we have wronged. A forgiveness practice includes both words and actions.

On a societal level and to honor how this practice has come to us through the Native tradition, the US and US state governments can seek forgiveness from tribal nations for the theft of land, genocidal policies, cultural desecration, and abuses of the residential school system with both words and action. It is not impossible to do; there are models, work has begun. In Canada, an apology has been issued and some reparations made.  In the state of Maine, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission documented the abuse of Wabanaki children in the social welfare system and promoted decolonization and healing. But the work is far from done. The longer the abuse has been perpetrated, the longer the healing will take. Deep national wounds do not heal in one season. The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition was created in 2011 to promote a national strategy and cultivate healing; you can see their advocacy goals here.

The benefit of devoting ourselves to a forgiveness practice in the Solstice season is that can call on healing power and soul strength of Strawberry to aid us.

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