Around 21 June, the wheel of the year turns yet again to bring us now to the shortest night and longest day of the year – that of Midsummer. As the name suggests, this is the time when we think of sunshine and beaches, fun and frolic, barbecues and salads, late nights and early mornings, and of course, that holiday we have spent all year saving for. The long days mean we return from work with hopefully warmth and sunshine still left for hours with which we can have fun in.
Midsummer is the season of love and commitment…romance is not dead! This is when the nights are short and the days long and warm. This is when people should enjoy each other’s company long into the night with a glass of wine in candlelight, or stroll along the beach barefoot, holding hands. It is a lovely time of year and every good day or evening should be enjoyed, preferable outside, with the ones you love, listening to the birds singing and the bees buzzing about. Notice the simple beauty of the flowers in the garden, the leaves on the trees and the crops in the field. It is also a fragrant time of year so pay attention to the aromas in the air too. Take time to appreciate what’s around you. It is certainly a time to celebrate life and living it, physically, magickally and emotionally with family and friends around you, as this is the time to celebrate beauty and abundance, whilst enjoying the bounty of nature and of life.
At this time, we celebrate the Sun and light itself. Everything is green. Everything is growing. Fill the home with sunny yellow candles on the altar/mantelpiece if you have to stay indoors due to weather or health, and simply celebrate light. If outside, fill the garden with those yellow citronella torches to light the way for the night of the fairies. Wear something gold and green for magickal Sabbat colours. Collect shells to decorate your altar when next at the beach. Get the kids or grandkids to make daisy-chains, or string the shells together to hang in the home. The biggest thing of importance on this Sabbat to to celebrate sunshine, nature and the outdoors and the abundance of life with those you love…that’s it!
But what about our ancestors? What would this time have meant for them? Well, the crops would have been sown, the flowers and herbs full of bloom and Mother Nature’s bounty in full production. Now they would have protected their family, crops and animals against anything going wrong by making amulets to hang in their homes, fields and barns. Until the crops were harvested and the calves born, anything could happen and they would do their utmost to protect against damage, sickness and danger.
As this sabbat is obviously a sun celebration, the fire would be lit to honour the Sun God’s strength. The Celtic community would have lit their fire at sunset on Midsummer’s Eve and maintained it all the way until the next sunset on Midsummer’s day, thus honouring the shortest night followed by the longest day, and there would have been a whole night and day of festivities and rituals.
If you like to light a fire to the sun, twin fires are a great way of symbolising the sun’s dual nature – the waxing which has just climaxed and the waning which is soon to begin. Using this twin philosophy, if there is something you need a yes/no answer for, set up two identical candles in two matching holders, one inscribed yes and the other no. Place in an area free from drafts. Ask your question and light the candles. Whichever one burns down first is the one to hedge your bets with…simple but effective don’t you think (unless it comes up with the answer you didn’t want!!!)
Lots of outdoor festivities, barbeques, fun and frolic -so much daylight, so much fun to be had, so little time to sleep. Well that’s the plan guys, so just go with the flow. BBQ’s – where men get to cook over masculine fire with stick in hand doing macho stuff, talking macho talk and drinking macho beer. Can’t you just tell it is a male sun festival when the Oak king fights the Holly king for ruler ship? Bit like how they decide who is in charge of the BBQ – they are just acting out the male role of which male is more dominant.
This is the time most of us grab a holiday if we can afford to, whilst the weather is good. This is due to days where, once the planting was done, there would be a break for those who worked on the land, awaiting the crops to ripen. Hence a holiday – they weren’t needed so much at this time and got a chance of a few days off and made the most of it were they could, spending time with family and friends, a wee dram here and there, and so the summer holiday was born. Nowadays, we tend to take a fortnight, but a day away to the seaside in the past would have been truly wonderful and exiting and the most the average family could afford. How much we take for granted these days. So, to celebrate Midsummer, if you aren’t already away on holiday, hold a party, have a BBQ with friends, but be outside if you can. The sun is at its strongest and the day is the longest so enjoy, and hopefully, the weather will play the game.
This is the time of the peak of nature when all the crops, flowers and gardens are all well established and when our Lady gives us the gift of happiness. The sun makes us all glad to be alive and our daily lives should show this by living each day to its fullest and celebrate – and those who have seen me go straight from work to the pub will now understand the reason. So, at Midsummer, light a bonfire on the beach or have a barbeque and a beer with the family but enjoy the Solstice – I’ll certainly be having a tipple or two!!
What to do around Midsummer
Midsummer was the time to gather their magickal herbs for protection and none more so that the sunshine herb itself –St John’s Wort. This bright, sunny herb flowers around midsummer, and should be gathered, blessed by passing it over the midsummer fire, and then hung in the home for a year of protection and happiness – taking down last years and burying it.
Its medicinal properties are very well known these days. Like bright sunshine, St John’s Wort lifts the mood, dispelling anxiety and tension, helps lifts depression and combats mood swings – very useful for sufferers of PMT, SAD and the menopause. A little known fact of this herb is that it can also be very supportive for bedwetting in children.
The infused oil of St john’s Wort is great for nerve pain such as sciatica and shingles, and will help heal any skin problem such as burns, ulcers and wounds, and can also be applied to sprains and varicose veins. To infuse your own oil, add the flowers to olive oil in a sealed jar, packing them in as tightly as possible. Leave in a sunny window and shake daily. After 2 weeks, the colour should have changed to bright red. If not, strain, add fresh flowers and repeat. Keep in a dark cool place in a clean bottle.
Another herb to be harvested at midsummer is our faithful cure-all – Lavender. It was used in the Middle Ages as a strewing herb to keep a house smelling fresh and its antiseptic properties helped to avert the plague and suchlike. It was hung in wardrobes to keep moths away as it is an excellent insect repellent and, even today, it is a favourite to keep in our underwear drawer and the likes to keep clothes smelling fresh and clean.
Lavender is also a peace bringer to the home – harvest and hang with your Sj Johns Wort above the front door for a year of calm.
If you are writing a love letter to someone, then scent the paper with lavender, either by dropping a few drops on the paper, or keeping lavender flowers with your notepaper so it takes up the aroma over time. It particularly attracts men (so that is why granny always smelt of lavender), and was used by prostitutes a few centuries ago to attract custom – I bet not a lot of people knew that. Another detail was it prevents men being cruel to their wives if worn by the woman – another point in its favour as there is certainly too much of the domestic violence going around these days.
Because lavender is the herb of sleep and inner peace, place under your pillow if there is a special wish you would like to come true. Go to sleep thinking about your dream, and if there is any answer to your wish in your dreams, it is said that your wish will come true. That’s a nice bit of trivia for this wonderful time of year.
Aromas of Midsummer
Summertime and no sunshine! How do you create that wonderful sense of sun without it. Then have your home full of fresh flowers and fill the air with the aromas of summer. Burn oils such as lemon, bergamot, orange and grapefruit – the sunshine aromas to lift moods, brighten your day, and help keep the flies and wasps at bay with their natural repellent at the same time. Try mixing floral and citrus together for that summery mix. Try lemon and geranium or perhaps grapefruit and ylang-ylang. Experiment. Go wild. Be daring – it is the time of fun and frolic.
What about trying some old-fashioned fun things like making daisy chains with the kids. Parents probably moan about the daisies ruining their beautiful lawn, but as kids (and with no daytime TV), daisies were a source of fun in the sun. We would spend hours making tiaras and necklaces, joining these beautiful little flowers together…part of Midsummer fun.
Daisy comes from the Anglo-Saxon ‘daeges eage’ which means ‘day’s eye’ because they open during the day, revealing the beautiful yellow sun in the centre, then close at dusk to hide it again. If you pick daisies between Noon and 1 o’clock on Midsummer’s day, dry and place in a yellow pouch and carry to ensure success in any venture…just write in gold pen on a piece paper what you want to achieve and include in the pouch with the daisies.
At the same time, pick your St John’s wort herb, pass through incense or the flame of a yellow candle, then hang above the door for a year of happiness. If you still have last year’s bunch hung up, take it down and replace with the new and recycle the old one into the garden waste bin.
Watch out for the Little People
As any reader of Shakespeare knows, Midsummer (as in the Night’s Dream) is also the night for elves and fairies and it is a custom of followers of the old ways to offer respect to the little people by leaving them food and drink on this night. When you raise your glass, state that you are giving some to them, then pour on the ground from your glass, or pour into a small dish. The same with food – don’t just throw it out, as you would to the birds as this is considered by them to be a sign as disrespect, but actively give them a share of your own food and drink and set it where they can find it. This ensures that if your garden does contain any resident little people, then they remain on your side, and not work against you.
Ritual for Midsummer to lift your life…
As this is a time for joy, if your life isn’t full of happiness then this is the night to try and change all that. Take a piece of natural cloth and fill it with herbs such as lavender, chamomile and St John’s Wort (the sunshine herb). Now, hold the cloth and pour all your troubles and woes into this “herbal teabag”. When you have placed all your issues and negativity into the herbs, tie it closed with a red tie, whether ribbon, cotton or wool. If you are casting a circle, then take your pouch into the circle, but at sometime you need to build a fire, even if it is a small one. You can even have a candle and your cauldron in the garden to carry out this simple measure.
Sit in front of the fire and “call upon our Lady and Lord and the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water to join you and help you be rid of your cares and woes to purify you on this Midsummer evening”.
Now, light a red or a white candle and set fire to the herbal pouch and drop it in the cauldron. If you have a wee fire, then just throw the pouch in. With feeling simply say:
“By the power of my Lady and Lord, I banish you. By the power of the Sun, Moon and Stars, I banish you. By the power of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, I banish you”. Now watch your woes burn to ash. When it is so, simply say something like “Gracious Lady and Lord, on this night of summer magick, enhance my life with joy and wonder. This is my will, so mote it be. Blessed Be”. Feel the powers of the night and of nature charge your body and your life and know it will be so. Give thanks to all whose help you have asked for and celebrate with a toast of wine and some fruit.
Spell for Manifestation…life is simple
When you have some time at Midsummer, light an orange candle and fire/sun incense to set the mood; now breathe, count to 10 and, with the above in mind, spend a while looking at life as you know it, evaluating your life and what needs to be changed. Write down what you want to happen in your life. Is it a new partner, a new career or job, to have a baby or simply to be happy in your skin? Have you always wanted to learn a skill or climb a mountain but haven’t? What wish would you like to manifest that could make a difference and help change your life? These are the many questions you have to answer to manifest your dreams. Now to help them along…
Write the changes to be made down on a piece of paper which you will keep on your altar or sacred space or put in your wish box. Now take a Bay leaf (I should have some hopefully next week for collection at the shop if you don’t have any, or you can obtain dried ones from a supermarket) and simply write each wish on a leaf. When done, burn the bay leaves in your cauldron (or a simple bowl if you don’t have one) to get the wish in motion. Keep the paper safely so you can remember what you have wished for and what is on its way and keep your carnelian close to help you climb any walls or blockages that materialise! Remember the warning – be careful what you wish for as you might just get it and it might not be what you want at all. Also remember that this is not about material things, no lottery wins but about changes that will bring about transformation in your life to bring that sought after happiness…do it now and get the strength of the sun and the power of carnelian to help get it moving.
Some water fun…
Sometime during a day out, you will find yourself sat by a pond or loch – still, slow flowing water. Ever sat and thrown pebbles in and watched the ripples? Yes. Perfect for a bit of divination. This is the reason you do this, you just didn’t know why. With the help of a round, smooth pebble, centre yourself and ask a straightforward yes/no question whilst holding the pebble. Then throw the stone into the water and count the rings. Odd number, Yes, even, No. Simple, productive and fun on a sunny afternoon in the summertime.
Use the feminine aspect of the Element of Water and the elixir of life itself to answer your questions.