Every major planetary event gives us an opportunity for growth and expanded awareness, and contains symbolism that can be universally shared and understood. When we understand the universal themes of these events, we can tune in to the archetypal energy that they represent, which in turn gives us a deeper understanding of our own personal myths. Then we are able to integrate these teachings experientially through personalized individual and group rituals.
According to ancient folklore, summer begins on May 1 (Beltane) and ends on Aug. 1 (Lughnassadh). The summer solstice (Litha or Midsummer) is a celebration of the longest day of the year and marks the height of the waxing season: a time of fertility of nature. This year it is celebrated on June 21 at 5:04 Universal Time.
Traditionally, cultures around the world have seen summer as a celebration of the strength and fertility of Mother Earth and of other goddesses who represent the Divine Feminine. The Romans dedicated the summer solstice to Vesta, goddess of the heath, and the Greeks to Hestia, who served the same purpose in their culture. Because the sun begins to wane gradually after this time (it waxes again only after the winter solstice), ancient cultures in Denmark, Norway, Austria, Germany, Britain, and Spain, as well as native peoples in North Africa and South America, lit bonfires to guarantee the sun's return the following year.
Often, as part of these rituals, celebrants picked chamomile, geranium, St. John's wort, thyme, and pennyroyal to throw on their festival bonfires. They believed that these fires would banish sickness from their livestock and their families. For good luck, they jumped across the fire and even walked on hot coals, a precursor to the fire-walking ceremonies practiced today. --Excerpt from The Joy of Family Rituals
We are now in the "Full Moon" phase of the year, when the waxing energies and their magical potency are at peak intensity. Cultures around the world give thanks to nature for all her abundance and pray for a bountiful harvest. Weddings, marriage proposals and baby blessings are auspicious now, as are rituals of unity among families and communities.
Folklore claims that this is a magical time to conceive a child or engage in rituals for relationships. It is no accident that June is the busiest time of year for weddings. There is a wonderful Italian tradition that I love of exchanging a pot of basil and cucumbers with your sweetheart. It is said that if your plant grows thick, your love will grow in joy and happiness.
Midsummer Magical Herbs
Many herbs are used in summer rituals: They can be made into incense or used to anoint candles. On the summer solstice, some are thrown into the bonfires for good luck and health. They can also be sewn into a charm bag and worn or carried when needed.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Fennel -- confidence, longevity and courage
St. John's wort -- courage, confidence, magic, success
Lily -- peace, heal the pain of a broken heart
Frankincense -- all-purpose solar incense for consecration, spirituality and success
Chickweed -- love herb worn to attract love
Heather -- brings one in touch with inner beauty and divinity
Lavender -- love, harmony, domestic tranquility, and mental clarity
Mugwort -- magic, longevity, clairvoyance, psychic empowerment
Rose -- love, compassion, beauty; an aphrodisiac attributed to Venus
Vervain -- love, magic, aphrodisiac, consecration
(For more information see Magical Aromatherapy by Scott Cunningham)
The waning year begins on the Summer Solstice, and so we must honor once again the descent into the dark mysteries of regeneration and rebirth.
As Donna Henes so beautifully puts in in Celestial Auspicious Occasions, "Ritual observation of such a celestial auspicious occasion allows one to enter into a personal, physical partnership with the powers of nature."
How are YOU going to celebrate this year?
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