Traditionally the summer solstice is a time of celebration, marking the end of the planting season and the beginning of the harvesting season. The solstice is the longest day of the year, with the sun at its highest point. According to pagan beliefs, the sun is most powerful on this day.

Worshippers celebrate the sun through fire ceremonies complete with dancing, singing, drumming and chanting by participants to evoke the power of the sun into their lives.

The Church of the Sacred Circle will host such a night of worship and festivities at the Crazy Horse Ranch in Heber tonight at a campout from 8 p.m. to sunrise. The actual Sunstaze ritual will be held from 9 to 11 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public. Participants are encouraged to come in costume and play an active role in the ceremony.

The event will include an alchemical fire circle, which represents the sun and everything else revolving around it.

Tara Harris, the director of tonight's event, explained the importance of the fire in an individual's life. She describes all the inner struggles and problems in a person's life as lead. Those struggles are to be brought to the fire to transform their lives.

"We encourage everyone to bring something to the fire and leave it there. When the sun comes up, all the lead turns to gold," Harris explained.

Harris also explained that during the summer solstice, fertility and marriage are celebrated. In some pagan religions, the practice of handfasting, a religious trial-marriage for one year and one day, is still practiced. Harris said tonight's festivities will also include a handfasting ceremony, where a couple from the Church of the Sacred Circle will bind themselves to each other for this trial period.

All those wishing to attend the Sunstaze Celebration are invited to bring tents, camp-chairs, pot-luck items, water and any other items they wish to bring to the fire. Those wishing to observe are reminded that the actual ceremony is considered sacred, and they are asked not to take photographs.


E-mail: cmadsen@desnews.com