Maine Fiddle Camp Solstice Celebration
The longest day of the year normally happens when we are at Fiddle Camp. This year it was Wednesday of the June week. For the past few years we have had a unique MFC Summer Solstice ritual and this year was no exception. Around 9PM, during the “Campfire Sing” period, we proceeded to the shores of True’s Pond. There was still light on the western horizon and the Moon and Venus were in conjunction slightly above that. What a sight! Those who were at Camp remember Ellen Gawler putting together “parts” for the celebration on a table behind the main tent earlier in the week. Here campers took “found” sticks and bound them together into rafts, all uniquely different, with paper luminaries and beeswax candles. (all bio- degradable and worthy of sending off and letting go!). Here are Ellen’s own words about how the ritual evolved:
“The event has had a few pieces that have been brought together to become our newly found summer solstice tradition. I originally got the idea for the luminaries from a Thai solstice tradition of making rafts with intricate flowers and candles that they float out on the water. I saw it when I had been visiting my daughter Molly in Thailand who was there three months, studying Thai Massage.
The kulning (this is a ancient Scandinavian music form, often used to call livestock (cows, goats, etc.) down from high mountain pastures where they have been grazing during the day. – bill) idea came from when we went to Sweden with Childsplay and played in the Falun folk festival. One evening, the entire festival removed to a lakeside spot where everyone knew to assemble in silence. People sat with their picnics till dusk when, little by little, spread across the far shore, there appeared 7 lanterns with long distances between them. Then the kulning began. It was so magical to hear these women singing the traditional cattle calling in its natural setting.
Molly, Edith and Elsie Gawler, and Mia Bertelli, all learned kulning when they traveled to Sweden with the touring youth choir, Village Harmony. Upon their return, one evening at fiddle camp, they sent their voices across the lake at dusk. It was so beautiful but also strange enough sounding, that it had the effect of frightening small children. I had the idea to put the floating luminaries and the singing together, in a solstice celebration, and thankfully, no small children have been frightened ever since. It seems to have become a beautiful summer solstice tradition that has taken flight at our June week at Maine Fiddle Camp.”
Here’s a little video I took of the celebration. It starts with the kulning led by (I assume) Elsie and Mia. The song at the end is Farthest Field composed by Maine singer-songwriter, David Dodson, who has been a special surprise guest at MFC several times!! I couldn’t help but sing along!
TRUE’S POND AT DUSK SUMMER SOLSTICE 2023
Back in 2019 we had a young Swedish woman, Sunniva Brynnel, on staff at Camp. She learned the kulning technique from her mother back in “the old country”. Sunni helped develop the MFC Solstice ritual that year.
Cultures all over the world celebrate the summer solstice, the day of the year of “maximum light”. FIRE is often a part of this celebration, either with bonfires or smaller fires as is the case with our own MFC Summer Solstice ritual. And of course, song! This is just another example of Maine Fiddle Camp magic!!
Maine Fiddle Camp August sessions start up in a week. Both August Camps are full with a waiting list, but if you want to read about the camp here’s the link. See you all next month – bill
Summer Solstice Celebration at Maine Fiddle Camp
The CONTINUING TRADITION Number 18