Thursday, May 21, 2015


We’ll watch the Sun
As his chariot rolls
Far down the horizon’s rim.

                                                                                                Mary L. Wyatt

At the summer solstice we cross the threshold of the year.  The sun has reached the peak of his strength, and after this day will begin to diminish.  Almost imperceptibly, time and the season adjust all around us; days grow shorter and recede before the lengthening hours of the night.  Like the sun, the season will gradually lose its warmth and brightness.  At the summer solstice we stand between the seasons in a breathless moment, and watch as the wheel of the year rolls on. 

Some Summer Symbols

The summer solstice usually falls near the cusp between Gemini, the Twins, and Cancer, the Crab.  Gemini is ruled by Mercury, the messenger of the gods, in the 3rd House of communication, journeys, and siblings – all echoed in the open, outreaching sociability of the season.  By Midsummer’s Day (June 24th) the Sun has entered Cancer, ruled by the Moon in the 4th House of the home and family, domesticity and stability.  The Moon dictates our emotional responses to things, and we carry these wherever we go – just like the crab carries its shell.

In Tarot the summer connects with two cards, the Lovers and the Chariot.  The Lovers typically features two figures, a man and a woman, and is associated with many manifestations of this duality – not just the twins of Gemini, but also brother and sister, Adam and Eve, and the embodiment of the intangibilities of choice.  The Chariot suggests forward movement – both mental and physical – accomplished by looking beyond immediate circumstances, following intuition, and allowing the universe to carry us out of stasis to change, or, it might be said, out of our comfortable shells.

John the Baptist - Midsummer’s Saint

In the Christian calendar, the nativity of St. John the Baptist is celebrated at Midsummer on June 24th.  Some traditions suggest that the early Church incorporated many of the incantations used by the cult of Bel, a pagan sun-deity, into re-dedicated litanies to St. John.  One ritual that that crosses the boundaries of many belief systems is the gathering of the plant St. John’s Wort on the feast of St. John.  When gathered at the appropriate time, St. John’s Wort is considered a cure-all; if it is gathered in on any other day, it might make you allergic to sunshine.

Midsummer Superstitions

v  On Midsummer’s Day, decorate the house with birch twigs and roses.

v  It is very unlucky to hear a cuckoo calling on Midsummer’s Day; she is not supposed to sing on this day of the year.

v  When gnats cluster and dance up and down, good weather is on the way.  But if they rush around and sting, a prolonged period of rain is coming.

v  If the first butterfly you see on Midsummer’s Day is white, you will eat white bread for the rest of the year; if brown or dull, you will have to survive on inferior brown bread.

Spells of Midsummer

Against Weeds in the Garden:  Under a waning moon, break one leaf from the garden’s tallest weed.  Crush it with your teeth and spit the fragments upon the earth, saying:

Malum Depuo, Hostem Veneno, Caedo Caedo

Cut the plant’s stalk off short with a silver knife and spread a handful of salt over the hidden root.  The entire garden bears witness to this act, and its enemies (the other weeds) must soon withdraw.  (It is not suggested to attempt this spell with garden pests, however.)

A Small Blessing on Vegetables:

Beans and peas and lettuces,
Radishes and beets,
Rise up soon for me to make
A garnish for my meat!

Source:  This Article Includes Spells and Poems from Slade, Paddy.  
Encyclopedia of White Magic: A Seasonal Guide © 1990, The Hamlyn Publishing Group/Mallard Press.