It should go without saying, but when handling fire–particularly the burning of a large piece–great care should be taken to make sure the fire stays controlled and that adequate amounts of extinguishing materials are on hand. The best policy is to perform all burnings outdoors.
What you’ll need:
- The finished sun wheel
- Old newspaper, twigs or other suitable kindling
- Extinguishing materials such as sand, water, or a fire extinguisher
- Long matches or a lighter
- A fire pit, barbecue, or a large, safe burning vessel
Set the wreath into a fire pit and place old newspaper or other kindling in and around the wreath to assure it will properly catch fire. Light the kindling on fire using a long wooden matchstick or a long-nosed lighter and quickly step away from the fire. Allow the wreath to burn completely. While the wreath burns, hold the palms of your hands toward the flames and recite this traditional Old English Summer verse (Contemporary English Translation):
Summer is a-coming in
Loudly sing cuckoo
Groweth seed and bloweth mead
and springs the wood anew
Ewe bleateth after lamb,
Calf loweth after cow,
The bullock jumps, the buck mounts,
Merry sing cuckoo!
Well singest thou cuckoo,
Nor cease thou never now!
Sing cuckoo now, Sing cuckoo!
First things first: I must complain about how stupid I felt singing about summer coming in and cuckoos wailing about when it was a very cold March morning and my chickens were squawking bloody murder behind me.
That being said, I always forget how magical and cathartic it is to watch a blazing fire until I actually do it. I layered newspaper, my Beltane incense (well, I wasn’t going to burn it inside ever again), and the wreath inside my cauldron and lit the newspaper once in each of the four quarters. I barely finished before the pot was ablaze. I was thoroughly surprised at how long and strong the fire burned given that it was mostly paper. I have a feeling the resins from the sandalwood and frankincense contributed to the burn and to the prolonged crackle afterward. There was a good bit of resin fuel in there, I suppose. But my wonder at the burn didn’t compare to how I felt when I watched it all turn to smoke. There was something really powerful about symbolically placing my gifts back into the realm of the sacred. I felt more centered than I have in a long while.