|The Solstice Rites get off to a blazing start
Or if they'd kicked off with guided group folk dances, given away hand-tied clusters of wild flowers and herbs with medicinal qualities, and free wine.
Well, I suppose they did have the wine, but not in any quantity, and it certainly wasn't serve yourself.
The opening night of the six-day La Festa di San Giovanni in Bragora last night featured all of the above--and there was not a priest in sight.
In other words, the whole thing seemed at least as pagan as it was Catholic. Or perhaps it just foregrounded the pagan roots of Catholicism (if I can write such a thing without getting in trouble).
For as much fun as the dancing was, the Rito del Solstizio held after darkness fell was the main event, with an opening shamanic invocation accompanied by didgeridoo, and then the reading of history and fables.
An Italian woman I met last night--a Venetian resident, but raised south of Naples--told me that San Giovanni and the Summer solstice were considered one of the calender year's two "doors" (the Winter Solstice and Christ are the other). I'm not exactly sure how to take this, but others may know.
She also told me to sleep with the little cluster of flowers and herbs I was given under my pillow and, basically, make a wish (of, say, good health for me or my family, or success in some endeavor). Along with lavender and sage, the little bunch included iperico, or St. John's wart, which she told me had potent powers.
I'm sorry to say my dreams last night were no more interesting than usual, but I consider this no fault of, nor reflection upon, the flowers and herbs. They smell wonderful.
|Putting together the flowers and herbs
|The man in the white hat reads by flashlight into a microphone, kids enjoy some flowers