With the summer solstice falling over a weekend this year, and the weather predicted to be fine, it does seem like a great idea to get out, enjoy the sunshine and do what you want.
However, I may be having a quiet solstice at home this year - although I have been invited to a few celebrations, including a heathen blot - a feast with many toasts to the sun, the gods and ancestors, intended to go on until the sun has risen or everyone falls unconscious. That sounded fantastic, but sadly I can't leave my elderly mum, who is recovering from a broken wrist, alone for long.
Instead, I will very likely be having a quiet, personal time of reflection, possibly getting up before dawn to watch the sunrise.
Normally, getting up at around 4am would seem impossible for me, but at the moment my mum is waking me up several times in the night - by ringing a wire-free doorbell - so I can help her to the loo. I've seen the dawn several times over the past couple of weeks because of this, so I should be able to manage it on the solstice.
After tucking my mum back in bed, I have watched out of the window at that early hour, with the sun just rising, and seen the garden behind my house transformed into a magical place. I have seen a mother vixen and her cub playing on the lawn in the pre-dawn half-light, watched rays of sunlight stretch across the dew-sparkled grass, heard the dawn chorus of birds and felt quite at peace with the moment, before returning back to my own comfy bed for a few more precious hours of sleep.
One easy thing to do at the summer solstice is to use the power of the sun to charge a bottle of water with solar energy. Leave the item in a sunny spot from the eve of the solstice, right through the longest day, until the sun has set once more. You can then drink the water, irrigate plants or use it as an offering at another ritual. Crystals, wands or amulets can also be charged with solar energy in the same way.
A great thing to do on your own is a guided visualisation, such as the Visualisation on the element of fire I posted on A Bad Witch's Blog last summer. Find a lovely sunny spot where you will be undisturbed and let the visualisation take you on a personal journey, even if you cannot actually get out yourself.
In folklore, midsummer is considered a good time to harvest herbs if you grow them and want to use them for magical, healing or culinary purposes. In particular, this is a good time to harvest St John's Wort, as 24 June is St John the Baptist's Day as well as being traditional midsummer.
If you want to do a short solitary ritual, then there is a lovely and unusual one on the pagan website Pagan Magic, which is called Everything From The Sun. For this, you fill a bowl with sunflower seeds, yellow and orange sweets or other little things that remind you of the sun. Put them in a sunny spot, or on your altar with a lit a gold or yellow candle, and say:
"Helios and Lugh,
Amaterasu and Sekhmet,
I thank you for your many gifts.
Let me learn to be as generous as you."
Then you can take a few charged items in the bowl yourself and keep the rest to offer to friends, relatives or anyone who visits your home.
The Sun & Moon Brass Sundial pictured is available from Amazon for £21.99.
Sun & Moon Brass Sundial