Popular Pagan Holidays
Autumn: The Croning Time
Daily Goddess Awareness
Well, You Don’t Celebrate Christmas...
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chri... Yuletide!
Samhain: A Time for Introspection---and Activism
The Dark Half of the Year
The Halloween Witch: Sense of Humor or Sense of Ire
Ah...To Be A Witch...
Anti-Witch Bigotry: Still As Popular and Deadly As Ever
Winter Solstice By Any Other Name
Spiritual Aspects of Yule
The Beltaine Storm
Winter Holiday Intentions and Food Magik
Autumn Equinox: A Point of Balance on the Wheel of the Year
Imbolc: Traditional Celebrations for a Modern Time
Alicia Meets Grandmother Autumn: A Children’s Story
The Tale of the Holly King and the Oak King
A Meditation on Samhain: How Lucky You Are.
The Solstice Flame: A Yule Story
Traditional Yule: Make your Own Homebrewed Mead
A Celtic View of Samhain
Ostara: Enter the Light!
Supermoms’ and Superdads’ Defense Against “Holiday Kryptonite”
A Story For Autumn
A Summer Solstice Primer
Witches Lost in Halloween
The Best Thing About Death
Winter: A Joyous Holiday Season
The Babylonian Ghost Festival
Lughnasa: Festival of the Harvest (A Druid's Perspective)
Dealing with the Darkness, Post-Samhain
The Samhain Experience
First Thanksgiving... in China
Solstice of the Soul
A White Christmas in Fuyang
Love Lives On: A Samhain Reflection on Death, Rebirth, and the Afterlife
A Samhain Dance
Yule and the New Year
Imbolg - A Lesson of Positive Change
The Story of Ostara
The First Yule
A Yule Story for Children ~ The Tiniest Fairy ~
Unity During Samhain
Bealtine: Blessing the Summer In
Thanksgiving Memories of a Native American Witch
Yuletide Thoughts, Life and Death
Ghosts, Omens, and Fact-Finding: Wandering In Today's Eco-Interface
The Blood is in the Land
The Summer Solstice: A Time for Awakening
Sandy Was The Name Of the Dark Goddess This Samhain
Brighid's Healing Sword: Imbolc
When The Crone Pays A Visit, You'd Better Pay Attention
The Promise of the Harvest
Samhain is Ablaze with Reflections of My Father
At Samhain, Meet Bilé, God of the Dead of Ireland and the Danu, the All -Mother
Mabon - The Flash of the Setting Sun
"The Horn of Plenty": A Pathworking for Lammas
The Call of the Crone
Parting the Veils and Opening to Ancestral Wisdom
Lammas: The Sacrificial Harvest
Opening to the Anima Mundi – The Gift of the Equinox
The Light Within the Shadow of the Winter Solstice
Symbology of Altar Decorations
Lascivious Lupercalia: Why Valentine's is a Vital Pagan Holy Day for the Modern World
The Serpent's Kiss: Beltane's Fire
A Heathen's Approach to the Holidays
Ode to Ostara
Anthesteria, the Hellenic "Samhain"
From Samhain to Yule: Light in the Darkness
Sonoran Desert Wheel of the Year (Square Peg, Round Hole)
Gaia's Mantle:The Greening of the Earth
Samhain: the Sunbeam in the Twilight
Like Bread for Lughnasa: A Letter
Beltane and Samhain: Reflections of Life and Death
Flashbrewing: Traditional Yule Ginger Beer/Ale
The Gift of Yule: An Illuminated Wheel
The Maiden's Breath: The Vernal Equinox
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
A Summer Solstice Primer
Article ID: 13951
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,558
Times Read: 5,740
RSS Views: 14,494
Posted: June 13th. 2010
Times Viewed: 5,740
Summer Solstice is celebrated with festivals and rites reaching from Scandinavia to North Africa, marks the sun’s maximum height in the sky, making it the longest day and shortest night of the year. Before the calendar was changed in the 18th century, the Solstice was celebrated on the 4th of July. Now the date of the summer solstice varies slightly from year to year. This year it happens to fall on June 21st but generally the actual can vary from June 20th through June 24th, with some solstice customs associated with a fixed date, such as the Wiccan Midsummer festival on June 23rd (Midsummer Eve) through June 24th (Midsummer Day) .
Also celebrated as Gathering Day (Welsh) , Ivana-Kupala (Russian) , Lithia (Saxon) Alban Heffyn (Druidic) , Feill-Sheathain (Scottish) , even St. John’s Day (Christian) , Summer Solstice festivals and gatherings may differ in practice from culture to culture but they all have celebrating and honoring the progress of growing season and the journey of the sun in common.
“Solstice” is derived from the Latin “sol” meaning sun, and “sistere”, which means “to cause to stand still”. Since the Winter Solstice (Yule) the days grow longer and at the Summer Solstice, the sun “stands still” for approximately three days. Although the hottest days of summer still lie ahead, we enter the waning year and the sun will recede from the sky a little earlier each day, until the Winter Solstice (Yule) , when the days will begin to lengthen again. In the southern hemisphere, it happens the other way around. While we are celebrating Summer Solstice on the Western Hemisphere, the Southern hemisphere is celebrating Winter Solstice, the south is celebrating and vice versa.
In ancient times, the Summer Solstice was a fire festival of significant importance. Great bonfires made of bales of hay were lit, usually referred to as balefires, and were kept going from sunset on Solstice eve until sunset the following day. The use of fires, as well as ritually strengthening the sun, drove out evil and brought prosperity and fertility to people, crops and livestock. Torches made from thorny evergreen were carried around cattle for protection against disease and misfortune.
Agriculturally, the crops are in full growth, reaching the pinnacles of maturity and moving closer to the harvest time. To strengthen this growing season, people would dance clockwise around the bonfire or leap through its flames as a strengthening or purifying rite. Crones often told that the summer’s crop would grow as high as the leapers were able to jump so accordingly they would exert themselves accordingly to benefit growth and prosperity. As most wild herbs and plants are fully mature by Summer Solstice, it was (and is) also the ideal time to gather magical and medicinal plants and herbs, to dry and store for winter use, which is where the Welsh, Gathering Day comes from.
The rites and rituals of the Summer Solstice survived despite calendar changes and efforts to Christianize it just as the Church had done to other sacred days. The official version converted the Summer Solstice to the Christian Feast of St John the Baptist which celebrated St. John’s birthday, born six months before Jesus (who got the Winter Solstice) . It probably has more to do with the story about St. John losing his head to Salome. In ancient times, sacrifices were also often made to a goddess of summer solstice. Mostly, though St. John’s Day became associated with wild dancing, horseplay, bawdiness and general rowdiness.
Still other more serious summer solstice symbols and talismans accumulate around St. John. As the patron of shepherds and beekeepers, this is a time to recognize those wild things that we can harness but cannot tame. The full moon that accompanies June is sometimes referred as the Mead Moon. Beehives are filled with honey and the honey was often harvested, fermented and made into Mead. People also hang St. John’s Wort over their doors as an amulet of protection while another legend says that should you step on a St. John’s Wort flower on Summer Solstice night, you will magically transported to the Land of the Fae.
Water is also often honored at summer solstice festivals because also plays such a significant role in sustaining life while the sun blazes overhead. Saint John baptized by water while Jesus baptized by fire and the Holy Spirit, therefore it is St. John who presides over the waters in Mexico. Rural people bathe at midnight in the nearest body of water and festoon wells and fountains with flowers, candles and colorful paper ornaments, while city folk celebrate with pools, holding swimming and diving contests.
Faeries are also associated with the Solstice through rites and ritual, most famously celebrated in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which the Fae take advantage of the Sun’s three-day rest. Just as with Winter Solstice, the veil between the worlds is thinnest, allowing us to see the elves, faeries, pixies and brownies more easily. We are cautioned to walk more carefully in forest mist so that we don’t stumble into the Land of the Fae where time is suspended and we can be lost to our world for longer than it seems.
Any goddess who deals with strength, courage, abundance, prosperity, protection, passion, fertility, the sun, water or any of the elements would be appropriate to invoke. Solar Goddesses to invoke into your summer solstice circles or prayers are many- so many in fact, I’ve listed only few of the more ancient and unknown goddesses that intrigued me while I was researching and writing this article.
The ancient Persian water goddess, fertility goddess, and patroness of women, as well as a goddess of war. Her name means "the immaculate one". She is portrayed as a virgin, dressed in a golden cloak, and wearing a diamond tiara (sometimes also carrying a water pitcher) . The dove and the peacock are her sacred animals.
Anahita was very popular and is one of the forms of the 'Great Goddess' who appears in many ancient eastern religions (such as the Syrian/Phoenician goddess Anath) . She is associated with rivers and lakes, as the waters of birth. Anahita is sometimes regarded as the consort of Mithra and is also shows some similarities to the goddess Ishtar.
The Roman goddess of the dawn. Later she was known as Mater Matuta, the patroness of newborn babes, but also of the sea and harbors. Her temple was situated on the Forum Boarium (the cattle market) . Every June 11, the Matralia was celebrated here. This festival was only open to women who were still in their first marriage. She was associated with Aurora and identified with the Greek Eos.
Saule ("the sun") is the most powerful of Latvian heavenly goddesses. She is the goddess of the sun and of fertility, the patroness of all unfortunate people, especially orphans (as the only one to substitute the mother, to warm the child; mother is compared to Saule speaking of kindness, and bride as speaking of beauty) . She is the mother of Saules meitas or meita (plural or singular) . She is said to live on the top of the heavenly mountain (some model of world) , where she rides during the day in her chariot. At night she sails with her boat on the world sea. The motif of permanent motion is apparent in this image, as well as the idea of the sun shining somewhere else during the night. Of course, the diachronic aspect is to be taken into account. In several cases she appears as the ruler in heaven, especially in relations with Meness.
Brunissen (Broo-nis-en) – Celtic
Celtic goddess of the black sun of the other world, sunrise and sunset are moments of stillness when the light of Brunissen is most easily found. She is not the sun of the outer world but rather the Black Sun of the inner world. She helps us find the acceptance of darkness and light in ourselves.
Igaehindvo (E- gay -hin-vo) – Cherokee
I am Sun and Day. I am Sun Sister to the Earth Mother, Elihino, and the Corn Mother, Sehu Woman. It was when you forgot to give me proper attention that I, Igaehindvo, began to burn the Earth. It is not too late to once more bring offerings. Carry me in your heart and we, my sisters, will once more walk in honor.
Walu (Wa - loo) – Australia
The Australian aboriginals called the sun goddess by this name and said that she lived with her daughter Bara and her sister-in-law, the world mother Madalait, far to the east. Each day Walo journeyed across the sky accompanied by Bara, until one day the sun goddess realized that the reason the earth was so parched was their combined heat. She sent her daughter back to the east so that the earth could become fertile and bloom.
In Norse mythology, Sol is the sun goddess, daughter of Mundilfari. She is married to Glen. Sol rides through the sky in a chariot pulled by the horses Alsvid ("all swift") and Arvak ("early riser") . Below their shoulder blades the gods inserted iron-cold bellows to keep them cool.
She is chased during the daytime by the wolf Skoll who tries to devour her, just like her brother Mani is chased by the wolf Hati at night. It was believed that during solar eclipses the sun was in danger of being eaten by Skoll. Both wolves are the offspring of the giantess Hrodvitnir who lives in the Iron Wood. Eventually, the wolf will catch her. The goddess Svalin stands in front of the sun and shields the earth from the full intensity of its heat.
Since this Sabbat revolves around the Sun, light a candle for the entire day. Fire represents the sun and is a constant reminder of the power of the sun. Because the sun signifies will, vitality, accomplishment, courage, strength, victory or fame, acknowledge your accomplishments, courageous acts and leaps of faith in some way. Write about them in a journal or create art or craft work that symbolizes these attributes.
This is definitely a time to shine!
Copyright: Copyright © Krishanna J. Spencer. All rights reserved worldwide.
Location: Richmond, Virginia
Author's Profile: To learn more about Krishanna - Click HERE
Other Articles: Krishanna has posted 3 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Krishanna... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2014 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).