Here in the northern hemisphere, we're coming up to Summer Solstice, the height of the Sun's power over the yearly solar cycle, a time to celebrate the Minoan Sun goddess Therasia and the solar year-king Dionysus. In the Mediterranean, where the ancient Minoans lived on the island of Crete, this was (and still is) an incredibly hot, dry time of year - the Sun's power is overwhelming.

As modern Pagans, we have multiple options for what to focus on and how to celebrate this special point in the year. Most of us probably don't have the resources to put on a huge Midsummer mystery play the way the ancient Minoans probably did at their big temples. But we can celebrate with modern-style ritual that focuses on the Minoan deities who are associated with this time of year.

Like Egyptian civilization, Minoan society lasted for centuries. And like the Egyptians, the Minoans added layer upon layer to their religious practices. They didn't so much substitute new deities and rituals for old ones, as simply add them to an ever-more-complicated sacred calendar that was eventually probably really full. So we have options from within all those layers, in terms of what to focus on for Summer Solstice (or any other time of year, really). Choose what speaks to you and has meaning in your life.

The Minoan god Dionysus holds a special place in the pantheon. He's the solar year-king, the son of the Earth mother goddess Rhea and the embodiment of the turning cycle of the year, as well as the Vine God, a shamanic/ecstatic vegetation deity associated with the grape harvest. He's the highest-ranking male deity from ancient Crete, which is why the Greeks ended up calling him "Cretan Zeus" - they equated him with their highest god. At Midsummer, he takes part in the sacred marriage with Ariadne, his partner and equal. June is for weddings, right?

If you want to peer back a little further into the past, you can focus instead (or also) on the Minoan Sun goddess Therasia. She rides through the sky at the height of her power, heating up the world and showing off her glory. She is Fire of Heaven, and all fires on Earth are also hers. So if you want to make a hot day even hotter, light a bonfire in her honor, and wear her sacred color: red.

Merry Midsummer to you all!

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.