This weekend sees the arrival of the Midsummer Solstice and given the absence of anything one could describe as “summer” so far this year I was wondering what it meant. Fortunately, and thoughtfully, Transition Town Redbridge has provided some information below:
Summer Solstice falls at the precise moment when the Sun's power is at its zenith. It is the time of year when the noon sun appears to be farthest north from the celestial equator. "Solstice" is Latin for "sun stands still" (sol "sun" and sistere "to stand").
Midsummer has been one of the important solar events throughout the evolution of humankind. It was an indicator that the year was about to begin waning, thus winter would be again returning and has formed the basis of many ancient monuments such as Stonehenge and the Teotihuacan Temple of the Sun.
Historically, the journey of the sun impacted life at every level and only relatively recently with the advances of electricity, greenhouses, transportation networks, has human reliance on the passage of the sun been lessened. Even with this dependence lessening, in this technological age, necessity of the sun and its path is crucial to our existence.
Midsummer celebrations begin with Midsummer eve, as the Celts and many ancient groups, reckoned the beginning of day to occur at dream-time or nightfall. Through the progression of Christianity Midsummer's Eve became Saint John's Eve, but the roots are planted in their Pagan origins.
Midsummer Eve is the evening of herbs. The herbs and flowers gathered this night are considered exceptionally potent. St John's wort, burdock, thorn, and nettle, harvested on Midsummer Eve are hung on doors and windows and placed around the home for protection. Royal Fern seeds which are gathered on midsummer are said to make the possessor invisible. Fire is an important aspect to Midsummer celebrations. The fire of Midsummer is traditionally kindled from the friction of two sacred woods, fir and oak. Folks would feast, dance and jump the fire for luck and fertility.
Midsummer is the time of sweet strawberries, blueberries, cherries, blackberries and more. New potatoes, lettuce, peas, carrots, radishes and onions are ready for picking. The moon of Midsummer has a few names one being the Honey Moon, as this is a time when the hives are rich in honey, which was gathered and fermented into a drink known as mead, customarily, drunk at wedding parties. Mead is rumored to be an aphrodisiac; thus we can observe the roots of modern day marriage practices and "honeymoons", in their Pagan soil.
(Edited from Witchvox) by Matt Maple