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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Midsummer

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Night on Witches' Hill

The cop car careens up into the park, right over the grass. It slams to a stop; two doors fly open simultaneously and a cop leaps out of each one, hands on holsters, poised and ready to go.

Welcome to our Midsummer's Eve.

There we were, up on the highest hill in the metropagan area: us and folks from our sister coven. We'd decked ourselves and the picnic tables with oak leaves. We'd sung the songs, danced the dances, and shared the feast of new foods.

Now it's sunset, and everyone's gone up to the top of the hill to bid farewell to the Sun at its latest setting of the year.

Except for me. Here's old Uncle Steve, right in character, down in the park running around with the kids. There's even one sitting on my shoulders.

I don't know what the cops were expecting. Something nefarious, I suppose. Something occult. Black hooded robes and a virgin in a white gown.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Fire in Water

Midsummer's Eve 1940, German-occupied Denmark.

For the first time in perhaps 3000 years, no Midsummer bonfires burn in Denmark.

The Nazis have forbidden them.

Throughout Scandinavia and the Baltics, Midsummer's Eve is the greatest summer feasting of the year. Bonfires burn on every hilltop. In the countryside, one can see them literally from horizon to horizon.

In Denmark, a nation of islands and coastline, it is long-standing custom to build these solstice fires on the beach, where, in their reflections, one may behold the mythic fire that burns in water.

But a surprise awaits the occupiers.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Rhymes with Blithe

Midwinter is to Midsummer as Yule is to —?

If you answered Litha, well...you're mostly right.

Midwinter and Midsummer are ancient. Cognate names survive in every living Germanic language, so they must have been known back in Common Germanic times, more than 2500 years ago.

Both holidays have by-names as well. The Hwicce—the Anglo-Saxon tribe ancestral (some say) to today's witches—also knew Midwinter as Géol and Midsummer as Líða.

Down the centuries Géol morphed into Yule. Líða didn't survive the passage of time, but during the 80s pagans rediscovered the word and gave it a new lease on life.

It's unclear what either word originally meant. Some have suggested that “Yule” may be kin either to gel—because it marks the coming of winter—or to yell, because “crying Yule” is a fine old midwinter's custom. In northern England, after Christmas services, people used to join hands and dance through the church shouting “Yule! Yule! Yule!”

I'll bet the vicar just loved that.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Milk of the Mother

Taste the milk, the milk of the Mother:

drink from the fountain, the fountain of life.

(Paganistani chant)

Roughly 9000 years ago, some of my ancestors underwent a genetic mutation that enabled them to continue drinking milk into adulthood.

Boy, am I ever glad that they did.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Magic Flower

 Hurray, hurray, the First of May:

outdoor f**king begins today.

 

To “May” or “go Maying” means to go out into the woods to gather the flowers and greenery that will adorn the May celebrations.

Yeah, right.

And Midsummer's Eve is the only night of the year when the magical fern flower blooms, conferring upon the finder health, riches, and the ability to understand the speech of birds and animals. In the North it's longstanding custom for the young to go out together to seek this wonder.

Or so they say.

Through much of human history, winter was the time when you were shut into the house cheek-by-jowl with much of your extended family and (depending on when and where), maybe the cow and the horse, too. Private it wasn't.

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Them Summer Days, Those Summer Days

Summertime is a strange, liminal time. 

I've never really had a “regular” summer schedule (whatever “regular” means.)  As a child and adolescent my life, like the life of most others, was determined by the start and stop of the school year.  I took summer classes in college, and after graduation and marriage I moved to a college town.  Those of you who live in similar cities know that the university schedule often determines whether or not the Locals dare to venture downtown, go to parks, drink at bars, or eat at the popular cafes.  (Because of crowds of annoying freshman or big-headed seniors, certain parts of my town are pretty much off-limits during certain times of the year.)  For a long time I worked on a college campus, and I'd spend the time from May to August sitting back, reading dozens of novels, and drinking delicious, blended beverages.  Then I went to graduate school, and after I graduated my first summer of unemployment extended into an autumn of unemployment, a winter, a spring, and now another summer of the same.

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