Summer Solstice 2016

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st johnThe Summer Solstice celebrates the longest day of the year on the 20/21st June – and in Scotland that can be almost the full 24 hours, which is wonderful. Often people stay awake around fires of sacred wood such as Oak and wait to see the sunrise.

Divining forks of Hazel were cut on this auspicious eve, and also Mistletoe, which is associated with the Sun. Oak trees that had Mistletoe living on them were considered to be the most sacred, and often places where special meetings such as weddings took place.

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St John’s Wort (or St Joan’s Wort as Susun Weed calls it) is associated with the Summer Solstice as St John’s day follows soon after and it flowers around this time. This herb is commonly known for treating depression, but it has many other uses as well. The red oil that its flowers make can be used for muscle pain and tension, and the tincture is used as an anti-viral. I have also had positive effects from using the oil as a sunscreen. St John’s Wort is also said to have been used for divination at midsummer and to prevent the faeries from spiriting people away while they slept!

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Elder leaves gathered at midsummer are said to be at their best, and are collected with the morning dew on them. They can then be used fresh to heal wounds as a poultice, and the juice used for treatment of eye inflammation and nose bleeds. The Elder spirit was sought at this time by dancing with Elder flower garlands in your hair. Even breathing deeply of the perfume of the blossom at this time is said to open portals to the faerie realm and allow one to see the faery kings and queens.

On Shetland Ribwort Plantain, or Johnsmas Flooer, was used for divination. At midsummer two lovers each pick a flower, remove the florets and place under a flat stone. If the plant grows more flowers before the one that were picked have withered the couple would marry.

Oak also has associations with the Summer Solstice. It represents the Sun, it’s strength at this time of year and it’s ability to ripen crops and feed the community. The sacred fires were made of Oak, or had a large Oak log placed in them, and pieces of the charred wood were worn as amulets to prevent being struck by lightening. Oak has many herbal uses as it is very astringent and is used as a mouth wash, for varicose veins, and to staunch bleeding. It also is associated with the treatment of alcoholism and withdrawal symptoms, both as a tea and homeopathic remedy.

At this time of year I like to camp or go somewhere to see the sunrise. The early morning has a special quality and is a wonderful time to see nocturnal animals like Owls that otherwise I don’t often see. Having a fire is also a great way to mark the occasion, and this year I will try and find some Oak to put in it!

Let me know if you see any of the faerie folk while inhaling the perfume of an Elder blossom! Happy Summer Solstice.

simone melanie, June 2016

 

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One Response to “Summer Solstice 2016

  • There is certainly a great deal to learn about this issue.
    I like all the points you’ve made.

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