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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Midsummer

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Dance of Oak and Linden

If you're looking for a magical dance with which to crown your Midsummer's Eve, here's a new one made of ancient parts: the Dance of Oak and Linden.

In Baltic lore (in the Baltics, Midsummer is still the biggest holiday of the year, bigger even than you-know-when), Oak is considered a male tree, Linden a female: two trees, two genders of beauty and strength.

The Midsummer connection is strengthened by the fact that Oak is also held to be the tree of Thunder, most virile of gods, and that the Linden—known as Basswood in the US—perfumes the White Nights of Midsummer with her spicy flowering. You could think of them as the Midsummer equivalents of Midwinter's Holly and Ivy.* 

The Dance of Oak and Linden is a simple round dance, and better it be if danced around a bonfire, or one of its eponymous trees. At its most basic, men bear oak sprays, women linden. (I'm sure that you don't need me to tease out the various possible permutations for you.)

Bearing your oak and linden, then—or whatever the equivalent trees in your landscape are—you join hands and dance.

Here's a song to go with it, dating from circa 1300, the oldest song in English to which we have both words and tune.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Birch: The Tree of Midsummer

 

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
In Praise of Catalpas

The catalpas are in bloom: thank Goddess.

Catalpa speciosa, the northern Catalpa. They're huge trees, catalpas: often the tallest on any given block. Heart-shaped leaves, bigger than your out-stretched hand, and those flowers: creamy with spotted tongues, like little orchids, really, if you can imagine tens of thousands of orchids all in one place. (Thus does superabundance render even the greatest beauty banal.) The city's catalpas are towering pyramids of white right now, that you can smell a block away: that sweet, spicy, nutmeg-y smell of Midsummer.

They're weedy kinds of trees, actually. Soft wood, not good for much of anything. They're also "dirty" trees: first the fallen flowers, which coat the sidewalks with slime, then the long, carob-like seedpods that litter the lawn by the thousands and (I swear) tens of thousands.

Oh, but they're in their glory now, and that means Midsummer can't be far away.

I grew up calling them (PI alert) "Indian tobies." Oddly enough (it took me a while to figure it out), "tobie" is short for "tobacco." Here's why. 

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The Sun Broom--A Midsummer Ritual and Tool

The Sun broom is both a Midsummer ritual and a tool you can use ritually around the year.

You will need:

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The Summer Solstice: Lore and Tradition
This is the second time in the year when the sun appears to "stand still" on its journey across the horizon upon rising and setting. Here, the sun rises at its furthest north-easterly point, and sets in its most north-westerly. It reaches its highest nadir in the sky, and here in the UK that means that the days are exceptionally long, and we may not even see full darkness before the light of dawn begins to permeate the skies. This phenomenon of the sun rising and setting in the same place lasts for three days, just as at the winter solstice. The Summer Solstice is known as Alban Hefin (Welsh) meaning "the light of summer", Medios-saminos (Old Celtic) and Meitheamh (Irish), both meaning "midsummer". Welsh tradition places the summer solstice as one of "three spirit-nights" or tair ysbrydnos, times when the veils between the world were thin, the others being Calan Mai and Calan Gaeaf(Beltane and Samhain). This is the longest day, before we begin our descent back into the darkness of the coming winter. It is considered the peak of the power of light, yet a reminder that everything changes.

Our Neolithic ancestors built monuments to track the sunrise and sunset of the winter solstice, and equally each monument would also work in reverse six months later for the summer solstice. Many monuments, such as the Callanish stone circle, also include the equinoxes, and so act as a giant calendar, marking out the time and the season. Four rows or avenues of ancient processional stones meet in the circle at a central stone, much like a Celtic cross. Stonehenge's processional way from the River Avon was marked by the sun's path during the solstices, and the Ring of Brodgar on Orkey is also aligned to the solstices and equinoxes.

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Follow the Wheel of the Year with Plant Magic

My name is Sandra Kynes and I’m a writer who loves to develop creative ways to explore the magic of the world and then integrate them into my spiritual practices and everyday life. I find the green world endlessly fascinating in so many aspects: from magic and lore to science and culture.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Night on Witches' Hill

I'm not sure what the police were expecting, but it clearly wasn't us.

Midsummer's Eve. There we were, with our sister coven, up on Witches' Hill.

We'd had our picnic, we'd danced and sung the songs. Everyone else had gone up to the top of the hill to sing the Sun down. Typically, Uncle Steve was still down in the park, running around with the kids. In fact, the youngest was sitting on my shoulders.

The police car came hurtling up over the curb, tearing up turf as it went. It slammed to a stop midway up the hill. Simultaneously, in a choreographed move, both doors fly open. A cop leaps out of each and immediately crouches behind it, taut, as if expecting a barrage of bullets from the hilltop.

“Hey officer,” I say. “Midsummer's Eve, what?”

They give me the eye. Hands on guns, they move cautiously up the hill.

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  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    lol!

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