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Origins of Midsummer

The Midsummer solstice is an astronomical point, that is due to the procession to the equinox. It occurs when the sun reaches the tropic of cancer, which is the longest day of the year, usually around June 20th to the 22nd, but may vary from year to year. Since most of the Euopean people did not have access to the stonehenge at Salisbury Plain they would use a fixed date for their celebration which was June 24th. However the Celts days were from sundown to sundown so the sabbat would be celebrate on the sundown of the 23rd. Pagan ancestors probable celebrated this sabbat on the June 24th, and to this day most european folk still use this date for there festivals. However the sensibility of the modern witches prefer to have the festivals on the actual solstice, and would begin their festivities on the eve of the solstice, usually at sunset. Just as Yule was adopted by the Christians as Christmas, the midsummer sabbat was adopted by them too for the feast of John the Baptist. Modern witches use a generic name of midsummer for this holliday but its very probable that a few hundred years ago it was called St. Johns eve by their ancestors. This comes from a wealth of folklore that surrounds the summer solstice. This is a night that is sacred to the fairie folk but is ascribed to St. Johns Eve, with no mention of the suns position. St John was often seen as a pagan figure, and was called The Oak King. His connection to the wilderness was often emphasized in the rustic nature of his shrines. There are many statues which show him as a horned figure.

Customs of Midsummer

England has an ancient custom of lighting large bonfires after sundown on St Johns Eve, that also served a duel purpose of providing light, and warding off evil spirits. This was known as setting the watch. They would often jump through the fires for good luck. They would also line the streets up with lanterns, and the people would carry cressents, which were pivoted lanterns on top of poles. They would carry these cressets while they wondered from fire to fire. These people were called the marching watch. Often the were attended by morris dancers, along with traditional players that were dressed up as unicorns, dragons, and six hobby horse riders. The Midsummers Eve was a time to ward the boundary of the city. There are many differant customs for the St Johns Eve. Some young people might plan to stay up the whole night, Some very courageous people might try to spend the night keeping a watch over the center of a circle of standing stones, but to do so could bring about death, madness, or what their tring for which is the power of inspiration to become a great poet or bard. This was also the night when the serpants of the island would roll up into a hissing writhing ball so they could engender the glain. This was also called the serpants egg, snake stone, or druids egg. A person that was in possesion of this hard glass bubble would be able to wield incredible magical powers. According to an ancient Welse story Merlyn with his black dog went in search of this. British Faery lore holds this night second only to Halloween for its importance to the wee folk. These wee folk enjoy ridling especially on this summers night. For one to be able to see them they would have to gather fern seed at the stroke of midnight, and rub it onto their eye lids. They would have to make sure to carry along with them a bit of rue in their pockets, so that they would not get pixie led, or failing the rue. You could also turn your jacket inside out and this would keep you from harms way, and if this were to fail you would have to seek out one of the ley lines or the old straight tracks, and stay on it until you've reached your destination. This should keep one safe from malevolent powers, as will crossing a stream of living. Decking ones house with birch, fennel, St Johns wort, orpin, and white lilies, especially over the threshold is yet anouther of the variety of customs for this sabbit. Midsummers eve in Spain is called the Night of the Verbena, and St Johns wort was honored by the young maidens who would pick it in the hopes of being able to divining a future lover.

Symbols of Midsummer

Midsummers main symbol is the fire, in particular the great fire up in the sky which is the sun. Bonfires can be found at the Midsummer festivals as a tribute to the Sun, and as a contribution by people for the energies from their own fires to keep the Sun's fire burning longer. There were wheels that represented the Sun that were traditionally sent flaming downhil during the solstice, showing the decline of the Suns rays in the months that follow. It was though that if the wheel kept burning all the way to the bottom, then there would be a abundant harvest, but if the flames went out, then the crops would fail. There were five plants thought of to have magical properties on this night, and they are rue, roses, St Johns wort, vervain, and trefold. The herbs and flowers for Midsummer are carnations, chamomile, cinquefoil, daisy, elder, fennel, ivy, larkspur, lavender, lily, male fern, mugwort, oak, pine, rose, St Johns wort, wild thyme, wisteria, verbena, and yarrow. The colors that are associated with the Midsummer sabbat are gold, yellow, green, blue, and tan.

Some of the food use for celebration of the Midsummer sabbat are mead, ice cream, summer fruits, flaming foods, yellow squash, zucchini, ale, and orange , and yellow foods.

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