By Caitlin McGinn

Photos courtesy Taco IJzerman and Carolyn Burlingame-Goff

NUUF, the Netherlands UU Fellowship, partnering with Taco IJzerman, leader of the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids, and TWIG, a women’s group, hosted a lovely summer solstice celebration. A few EUU members attended. Amsterdam blessed us with typical rainy, cloudy weather but we still managed a nice gathering in a local park.

The Midsummer ritual began with us all forming a circle. A series of readings and meditations opened our heart to Mother Earth, as we acknowledged our inter-connectivity. The highlight of the ceremony was when summer and winter solstices battled it out with wooden swords to see if darkness or light would win. Reconciliation happened when everyone realized that we need the dark, quiet time of the year to give us the energy to enjoy the light, active times. You can’t have one without the other, and balance is everything. A joyous running dance with drums wrapped up the ceremonial aspect of the afternoon.

Immediately following the activity, we ran for tree cover to set up our picnic. A gentle, but steady rain accompanied us, as we spread blankets, brought out our healthy snacks and desserts, and created the “Bardic Space.” We read poetry and sung songs, and the rain was replaced with chilly air. Unfortunately, the picnic ended earlier than expected, but I think everyone left feeling connection and fellowship.

On Sunday morning, Derek Suchard took us on a whirlwind exploration of Amsterdam’s history of liberal religion and liberal thinking. We walked extensively around the city, visiting places like Spinoza’s house while learning about his philosophy and that of other 17th century free thinkers who used Amsterdam as their base. Already a Protestant city, it allowed for more and more liberal development as a reaction to the strict Calvinism that made up Dutch society. It was an interesting tour, as it helped explain more foundations of the liberal religious and secular societies we experience today.