Strega Nona Entertaining: Conjuring Creative Fun

From recipes to rituals, I will kindly divine the perfect celebration for you!

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Oh What A Beautiful Solstice

"Oh What a Beautiful Solstice, Oh What a Beautiful Day…"

These are the strains I remember waking to coming from an enthusiastic fellow Pagan Spirit Gathering camper some years back, on the day of the summer solstice. It stuck with me, and I have very fond memories of the experience. The gathering has gotten quite large and sadly, I have not been able to return– but the spirit of PSG stays with me. Drawing on some of that energy and a few of my own Litha gatherings since, here is my idea of the perfect Midsummer camping trip, on a much smaller scale.

I find that state parks have a lot to offer in the way of ample space, good upkeep and natural beauty. I cannot sing the praises enough of my own Wisconsin State Park System! Of course, if you know someone with access to private grounds, by all means, take advantage of that first. But when reserving at a public place, always be sure to request a woodsy, secluded spot, preferably on an end of the campground. You don't want to be sandwiched between others and most park administrative staff that you talk to can tell you of just such a site at their facility. If you find a park with a lake, there are usually the added benefits of a boat or canoe rental opportunity, swimming, and the soothing sounds of the water at night when you are drifting off to sleep.

Since the solstice falls on a Friday this year, make a weekend of it. This is something most folks can commit to with their schedules. A  good group size for this style outing would be eight to 10. The following is  a camping checklist, based on from my formative Girl Scout years. It is thorough.

Colleen's Camping Checklist


extra toilet paper


paring/swiss army knife

cooking and eating utensils (pans, forks, knives, spoons)



trash bags

aluminum foil

little plastic tub for washing dishes

dish soap


dish towel


pot holders

small tupperware containers for opened left-overs

can opener

if you are bringing wine, don't forget the corkscrew




wooden matches





extra batteries

3 gallon jug for water

water bottles

anti-bacterial soap

little folding chairs

sleeping bags


extra blankets

in lieu of a fancy air mattress, use a pool mattress


citronella candles

mosquito repellent

mini-first aid kit: band-aids, ointment, gauze, tape, aspirin, antacids, antihistamines, lavender oil (or other) to soothe bug bites

rain ponchos



hiking boots or shoes

bikes and helmets if there are trails available




warm clothing

rope for clothes line



floral tape

drums, rattles, other percussive or wind instruments

fresh cedar 

dried sage and sweetgrass

Items that represent something you wish to free yourself from

Suggestions for the big day: For the early birdies, partake in some yoga sun salutations at sunrise. (For a good intro to the eight traditional poses, go to the references section at the end of this article.) At mid-day, take a hike together and gather materials for making head chaplets– guys too! You can make em' manly, just think maple and oak leaves. Sit down and create them for later following your hike. This is where the afore-mentioned floral tape comes in handy to weave found items into your chaplet. For the base, use a thin and bendy branch, such as hazel or bring grape vines for all ahead of time. (Hardie, p. 111.) Have a partner help you fit it to your head, if needed. When walking in the woods, I will squint at sparkles in the sunlight playing off of Mother Nature's beauty, trying to spot a sprite or nymph up to mischief. Natural magic meditations and ritual opportunities abound here using any of the elements available to you in their ready-made state. Look to a fallen branch from a willow or an oak, a crystallized stone, dew drops on blades of grass, the sun, or a rainstorm. 

You can also collect some extra kindling twigs on your hike. To build a big old fire that will last well into the night, be sure to stock up on the approved park bundles of wood before the stands close. Between two and three of  fast and slow burning logs usually does the trick. 

Ritual for Sunset

Don your head wreaths and build your fire; add the fresh cedar to make it crackle, pop and smell lovely. Take turns tossing your items in the fire that represent that which you wish to free yourself of. You can take a moment and silently affirm that which you are giving away, or say a few words aloud. But be responsible; keep it non-toxic peeps. Then light and pass the sage around to each participant, clockwise to smudge and clear each other of negative energy. Invoke Ra, or another sun god relevant to your group. Ground and give thanks. Have a potluck feast including seasonal grilled veggies and fresh fruits, especially strawberries. 

When everyone's ready, make your music and dance around the fire, reveling in the longest day of the year. Be mindful of your volume level, based on any nearby neighbors and the rules of the park. If you tucker out, grab a chair and trade stories until the wee hours. Look up at the stars and breathe deep. Listen for the voices of the night creatures. Revere in what surrounds you and what you infinitely, are a part of. Blessed be.


Rosen, Richard. (2013). Here Comes the Sun. Retrieved from 

Hardie, Titania. Hocus Pocus, Titania's Book of Spells. London, England: Quadrille Publishing Limited, 1996. 

Tent Stock Photo by duron123 from

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Colleen DuVall has written articles, plays, short films, and a novel. Most recently, her work has been featured in her new blog, Off The Beaten Path for the Shepherd Express online (, and the Wisconsin Life radio show for WPR. She recently adopted a little grey and white cat named Tessa, after beloved 22-year-old Bootise passed on.


  • Editor B
    Editor B Friday, 14 June 2013

    We have our reservations at a state park, and I had some rough idea of how we should celebrate, but you've helped to crystallize them. Thanks.

    I think it might also be a good idea to offer the chaplets to the flames at day's end.

  • Colleen DuVall
    Colleen DuVall Monday, 17 June 2013

    Glad to hear it!

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