By the time some of you are reading this, it will be the Summer solstice.
I’m writing this on the day before, in snippets of time between meeting the needs of constantly ravenous and repeatedly inquisitive children. The Sun is shining despite the heavy clouds that are rolling through imposing their way to storms later. The electricity of those promised storms is already in the air.
Or maybe it’s just the magick of Midsummer.
A quick history lesson.
Midsummer has long been held as a special time around the Summer Solstice where people around the world celebrate a whole host of different things. Usually, it involves the Sun, and bonfires, flowers, and fertility. But because sooner or later as it always happens to the pagan religions, the Christian Church incorporated the local beliefs into their own holiday, St. John’s Day.
Case in point: Before Finland was Christianized, the day was for celebrating the god Ukko with bonfires and all sorts of good times. Bonfires were also customary in Germany, so much so that a Nuremberg town council in 1653 passed an order saying that since the Midsummer activities of collecting monies and wood, drinking wine, dancing, and jumping over the flame of a bonfire had been going on for so long they had no power or reason to prohibit it. In Slovenia, the day used to be for celebrating the god Kresnik but was replaced with St. John at some point.
For those of us who are Pagan, there are still multiple ways to celebrate Midsummer/ The Solstice that don’t incorporate St. John the Baptist (Mind you, I am not speaking for the Pagan community as a whole. There are far too many perspectives and personal routes to say that no one anywhere takes part in anything. Everyone one has their own personal jam, I am not about to step on their toes.)
Bonfires are a hallmark of Midsummer. And it’s no surprise really.
When you think that the day is a celebration of the Sun, Sol, the ball of fire in the sky that cast out the darkness that has been all winter long, having a bonfire to continue that flame during the short night makes sense.
But even without the tie in to the Sun, there is something powerful about bringing in the turning of the season with the power of fire. While a full fledge bonfire might not be feasible for us now, there are fire rituals that can be performed even in the smallest of spaces. Safety is obviously the number one concern, but once you are sure you are in the clear there, there is no limit to what you can do. I found this great Fire Ritual that might give you some ideas.
Almost every region has some history of Midsummer being a time of enjoying a bit of drink and each others company. Included in that is usually dancing. Dancing and jumping over fire included. You don’t have to go that far, you don’t even have to include others. There is absolutely nothing wrong with popping some earbuds in, picking a song that speaks to you, and letting it carry your body and your feet away. There is also nothing wrong with waiting until after the Sun goes down and doing this outside under the Moon. Granted the Full Moon was a few days passed, but still, there is nothing wrong with having a moment underneath the sky. Take your shoes off, let your feet connect themselves with the ground and with your soul. Not every step has to be one of purpose. It’s ok to have steps that are taken out of nothing but celebration and joy.
Midsummer is also a great time to spend the evening gathering herbs, flowers, medicinal plants, and because we all know it’s going to happen, pretty rocks that are just calling your name. With the day and night now being an equal length, there’s plenty of time to stay out wandering around, being a part of nature. This is also my favorite time because there are fireflies!! So many of my summers as a child were spent at my great-grandmother’s house catching fireflies in the late evening and early night. Even if you aren’t a green witch and herbs aren’t your thing, being out in the grass near the trees feeling the heat from the summers day bleed off into the night is a pretty great way to honor what is going on around you.
So much of our practices are personal. That’s one of the coolest things about Witchcraft. Even if we are associated with a certain flavor (for lack of a better word) we each have our own take. So this Midsummer, you do you. And if that includes actually getting it on, then it will be right in line with many of other Midsummer customs. Find what feels right and honor it. I’ve always been a huge proponent of following that gut feeling inside. Sometimes the simplest action with a lot of feeling behind it is worth more than a complicate half-assed ritual you are doing only because you think you should. Don’t try to measure up to some imagined status, honor your Craft, yourself, and your Ancestors by doing what’s real and true for you.
I also want to add, if all you manage to do this Midsummer is not melt away in the heat or not get blown away by a sudden gust of wind, that’s okay. Of if you are like me and the one thing you accomplish is tending to a growing (pumpkin) plant that you’ve fallen in love with, then that’s enough. You are enough. However you give to your practice is good enough. The year is marching forward. And so are we all.
Happy Summer Solstice!