The Summer Solstice
Also called Litha, or St. John's Day, Midsummer is the celebration of the Summer solstice, the day when the sun is at its zenith and we have the longest day. Solstice comes from the Latin word meaning "stand still," which is exactly what the sun appears to do on both the Winter and the Summer solstices. At either extreme, it seems as if the sun is caught in stasis. The Saxons called the month of June "Aerra Litha" and the month of July "Aeftera Litha," and although some have speculated that "Litha" is a general word for summer, it is more likely to mean "light."
Midsummer is a fire festival that celebrates the high point of the light half of the year. It also celebrates the union between the benevolent Sun and the fruitful Earth. This is when most people begin to harvest their herbs. Vervain, yarrow, and St. John's Wort are three herbs said to have magical powers if gathered on Midsummer Day.
The bonfire is a central concept of Midsummer rituals. The fire represents the sun in all its glory, conquering darkness. People leap the flames or the coals for luck and blessing; the smoke is wafted over livestock to protect them from disease. Alternatively, the livestock are driven between two fires to accomplish the same purpose. The ashes of a Midsummer bonfire are said to have astonishing curative powers.
This is a Sabbat greatly concerned with faeries, and there are several stories and myths involving them which are told around this time of year. Some say that if you brew a potion of thyme and drink it, or put drops of calendula juice on your eyelids, you will be able to see faeries on this night. Whether you seek them or not, leave a bowl of milk and honey and a slice of bread out for the faery folk on Midsummer Night to show your respect.
Correspondences:Colors: Gold, Green, Red, Yellow.
Gemstones: Green stones such as Emerald, Jade, Malachite, & Peridot; Moonstones and Pearls.
Decorations: Fairies, Fire, Oak, Solar Disks, the Sun, Swords, Young Birch & Flower Garlands, Witches' Ladders.
Deities: Earth Mothers & Mature Gods: Brigid, Esmeralda, Freya, Flora, Frigga, Gaia, Hera, Hestia, Inanna, Ishtar, Apollo, Balder, Cernunnos, Herne, Pan, Ra, Taliesin.
Foods & Offerings: Citrus, Dairy Products, Early Herbs, Honey, Sweets, Wine & Cheese.
Herbs: Apple, Daisy, Dandelion, Lilac, Mint, Sweetgrass.
Scents: Benzoin, Frankincense, Lemon, Peppermint, Verbena (Verveine).
Spells: Abundance, Animal Blessings, Nurturing, Parenting, Purification, Safe Pregnancy, Strength, Unions.