ca. June 21st
Summer Solstice- This is when we experience the longest day of the year. People in the Northern or Southern Hemispheres experience the same phenomenon. For several days before and after each solstice, the sun appears to stand still in the sky. More specifically the noontime elevation does not seem to change. Solstice comes from the Latin meaning sun stands still. It signifies the beginning of Summer north of the equator. Those south of the equator will begin their Winter seasons. The Sun’s position reaches the greatest distance above the equator about 23 ½ degrees of arc. During the Summer Solstice, the sun is directly overhead at noon and over the Tropic of Cancer.
This is the day of the Sun and the oldest holiday known to man. It is what Stonehenge was built for centuries ago. The sun is at the height of its strength right now, shining boldly out into the world for all to see and revere. This is the longest day of the year. After this, we begin our long descent toward Yule once again. It’s the descent of our journey into ourselves in an effort to see our inner being clearly and to make the improvements we need to in order to become who we want to be. It is the battle between the Oak King (waxing force of nature) and Holly King (waning force of nature). On this day, the Holly King defeats his brother, the Oak King and the descent begins. The days grow shorter and the nights grow longer and eventually colder.
Bonfires are lit to praise the Sun flying high in the sky. The ancients celebrated Midsummer because the fruits of their hard work were now obvious in the gardens, fields and trees. These are the first crops of the year. This is also thought to be the most potent time of year to work magic of any kind and the best month to be married. All night vigils and celebrations are common.
Also Called- Oak Festival, Midsummer, Litha, Alban Heffyn, St. John’s Day, Feill Sheathain.
Traditions- bonfires, leaping between twin bonfires of oak fires, fairy hunting upon the eve, rites of inspiration, circle readings, picking St. John’s wort- sacred sun flora (also wild rose and oak blossom), looking for feathers on the ground to weave into magical charms and talismans. An Ideal time to reaffirm your vows to the Lord and Lady or your dedication to following the old traditions.
Symbols- oak- leaves, crowns, acorns, wood. Puck the woodland sprite, the sun face, Pan, leaping flames.
Foods- Garden fresh fruits and vegetables, light breads, new cheese.
Herbs- mugwort, vervain, chamomile, wild red rose, honeysuckle, lily, oak, lavender, ivy, yarrow, fern, elder, thyme, daisy, carnation, lemon, myrrh, pine, wisteria, oak wine, St. John’s wort, oak/mistletoe mix.
Colors- yellow, orange, red, green, blue, gold.
Deities– Arianrhod, Math, Ogmios, Huon, Pan.
Time of Day- Dusk