SUMMER SOLSTICE (Midsummer, Litha) is the longest day of the year. It is a time to celebrate vitality, creativity, vigor, health and abundance. All over the world, people gather to honor and acknowledge this time of Light and Energy and to connect with this Solar tide of abundance, health and the beginnings of the fruits of their labors.
One of the customs associated with the Summer Solstice is the blessing of animals: pets, familiars, work animals and animals which will be slaughtered in the Fall for Winter food. The blessing focuses on the animals’ health, growth, vitality and fertility. You may want to bless and charge with energy your pets or familiar to strengthen your bond with them at the Summer Solstice.
Now is also the time when the herbs, both wild and cultivated, are reaching their greatest potency. You will want to gather them before they begin to seed, so that you may dry them to use in your rituals and in the medicines that you begin to make in late summer and early Fall. Collect herbs for which you will use flowers and leaves as the Moon waxes (gets larger); roots are gathered during the Waning Moon. As you gather them, thank each one and cut it cleanly a few inches above the ground for the herbs with which you will use the flowers and leaves. For the roots that you gather, pull gently from the earth, collecting only about a third of the plants so that they will grow abundantly again next spring. Wash the herb or root thoroughly, gently shake it dry, then hang the entire plant upside down so that the important oils and minerals will gather in the leaves and flowers as they dry. Hang the roots root side down for the same reason and let them swing freely so that they dry uniformly and do not molder. After they are completely dried (about 7 days for leaves and flowers; 3 weeks for roots) you can store them in paper bags on which you have written the name of the herb or root, when it was collected and what your intended use is.
Roses are particularly associated with the Summer Solstice and Midsummer’s Eve is especially potent for love magicks. You may want to make a rose petal infusion to add to wine (see infusion recipes below), or strew your bed with rose petals before retiring to help you dream of your soul-mate.
Standing stones and stone circles are also symbolic of the Summer Solstice. The dolmen, or standing stone, reminds us of the virility of male energy and of the Sun which in magick and psychology is representative of the male. Stone circles symbolize the ever rolling Wheel of the Year and cycles of the Sun, the natural laws of the universe and the womb of the Earth. If you can find one naturally occurring, perform your Solstice celebrations within it, or leave food and herb offerings within it for our wild-land sisters and brothers. You can also create your own stone circle by placing 8 larger stones at each of the spokes of the Wheel of the Year, equidistance apart, and filling in the spaces between with smaller stones for a circle you can use year round.
Another custom at the Summer Solstice is the practice of tossing wishes and offerings into wells and springs. For a wish or offering of thanks, hold a special stone, feather or sprig of herb in your hands as you focus and meditate on your desire. Pour the desire or gratitude into the stone, feather or sprig and when you have filled it, toss it with power and intention into the well or spring.
The Summer Solstice is the time of the marriage of the Sun and the Moon, which is one of the reasons that the month of June has become the traditional month of marriage and union. One of the symbols for the power of the Sun is fire; for the Moon is water. To enact their union you may choose to create a SunWheel out of weavings of thin, dried branches or braided, dried herbs. You may then (CAREFULLY) ignite your SunWheel and roll it a short distance into running water or drop it carefully into a pool of water to unite the energies.
INFUSIONS, PHILTRES and POTIONS
BE SURE TO USE INGESTIBLE HERBS in anything you are going to take into your digestive system! Consult an herbal such as The Chopra Center Herbal Handbook by Simon and Chopra to make sure that your selection of herb(s) is one that will be safe.
An infusion is the distillation of the essence (energy, oils, minerals, vitamins) of a plant into a liquid, usually water, but sometimes also fruit juice. Tea is an infusion, for example. While many times one heats the liquid to make an infusion, during the time of the Summer Solstice, it is appropriate and desired to use the heat and energy of the Sun to draw out the properties of the herb(s) you are using into the liquid. Using a clear jar or clear deep cup, fill the container 3/4 full of liquid then pack it to the top with the dried or fresh herb(s). As you are placing the herb(s) into the liquid, keep your mind focused on your intention and place your intention into the jar with the herb(s). Begin at noon or when the sun is the strongest and let the infusion sit out 24 hours. Strain the liquid into another contain and stopper tightly. You can then use a dropper full of your infusion to charge wine, a talisman, your self, a ritual bath or whatever your imagination determines.
A Philtre is made in the same way, only using alcohol as your liquid. You may want to use vodka or brandy for the best taste later when you add some to your drink. A Potion begins the same way, usually using water, but to this you can also add a special stone. Just be sure not to swallow the stone if you drink your potion.
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