Today we honor the Summer Solstice also known as Midsummer or Litha. This is the longest day of the year and from now until the Winter Solstice the days will grow shorter and the nights longer. In the ancient world the Summer Solstice was celebrated with bonfires and outdoor festivities. In ancient Rome the Goddess Juno was honored as the month of June was named for her. She is a Goddess for women and marriage and still today many people wed in the month of June.
The Summer Solstice was also viewed as a time for balance of water and fire. While the sun is necessary for crops to grow, and the summer months are the best time grow crops, water is a very necessary element to keep the plants hydrated and alive. Without water the crops would wilt, dry up and die. Fire represents the warmth and life giving properties of the sun and water sustains that life. Just like in our own lives, warmth and water are necessities for survival. Water activities were implemented on the solstice as well as a way to honor this element.
Also around this time St. Johns eve is honored by Voodoo practitioners. This celebration takes place on the night of June 23rd and is especially celebrated in New Orleans. Famous Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau was known for holding large ceremonies on this night on the banks of the Bayou where tons of people would gather. St. John's eve is one of the most important festivals on the Voodoo calendar. It's a night for magic and honoring your ancestors.
The Summer Solstice has been said to be a great day for gathering magical herbs. St. John's wort is a popular herb for Midsummer as it corresponds to the sun. It is used for depression and protection. Other traditional herbs are mugwort, chamomile, thyme and sage. Bees and honey were honored on the summer solstice as this is the time when the bees hives are filled with honey. Meade, which is a honey wine, was made as well as honey cakes and other honey filled foods. The full moon of June was called "the honey Moon" in honor of the sweet treat and the bees. Goddesses who were prayed to at this time are Vesta, Goddess of the hearth, Isis, Egyptian Mother Goddess of the universe and Freyja, Norse Goddess of love and war. On your altar have flowers, honey, fire, water and representation of the Summer Goddesses.
Have a lovely Summer Solstice!
Picture courtesy of The Eco-Goddess Temple