Summer Solstice – the longest day and shortest night, a turning point in the solar year. Midsummer’s eve is an opportunity to stay up all night to watch the sunrise and celebrate the longest day in our year. It is often celebrated on top of a hill or amongst ancient stones like Stonehenge to honour the rites and ceremonies that our ancestors took part in.
The celebration is one of abundance and fertility, all that has manifested over the past six months but also recognition of the return of the darkness, an acknowledgement of its value as part of the whole.
To celebrate the summer solstice bonfires would be lit using oak and herbs for cattle and the sick to receive healing benefits from the smoke. Cartwheels wrapped in straw would be lit and rolled down hillsides. The fires would symbolise warding off evil spirits and strengthening the sun. Apparently farmers would circle their crops three times with lighted torches to ensure the harvest in the following months. Ships were wheeled through towns (a forerunner of carnival floats) as a symbol of the womb of the Earth.
The Summer Solstice was also known as the festival of Attainment, celebrating fulfilment of what you have and what has been achieved. “as the power of the outer realms wane, the power of the inner realms will expand, and we are made whole” Glennie Kindred.
The Oak is the tree associated with Summer Solstice with attributes of potential, strength and community. Sitting by an Oak tree can bring calmness and determination, strength to face difficulties.
Lavender is the herb associated with Summer Solstice and linked to the solar plexus – a chakra for emotions. You may drink lavender tea, use it as an essential oil or dry the seed heads for lavender bags. Lavender helps relieve stress, calms the nervous system, aids sleep and eases tension headaches.
Lemon Balm or Melissa officinalis is a beautiful fragrant herb, again can be used as a tonic for digestion, lowering blood pressure, easing period pains and low mood. Using the leaves directly on insect bites reduces the histamine effect.
As with using any foraged herbs or plants please check first that it is safe to do so with any existing conditions and medication.
Remember whenever you forage always leave enough for the birds and insects and next year’s berries.
Summer Solstice Celebrations
Find a hill, or mountain, to walk up and sit and watch the sunrise.
Gather with others and celebrate with a fire, using some fallen oak branches, and drink some herbal tea as mentioned above.
Make herbal bags to place in the bath or under your pillow.
Take time to sit and reflect on what you have achieved over the past six months, what you are most proud of and how you can take things forward over the forthcoming months.
Whatever you choose to do – enjoy!