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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Summer Solstice

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
How to Make an Oak Leaf Crown

Across the North, the two preeminent sacred trees of Midsummer's are the ("male") oak and the ("female") linden.

On the linden, whose spicy flowering perfumes the longest nights of the year, more in a future post. But for today, the oak.

The Oak is the tree of Thunder, most virile of gods,* whose thunderstorms rumble spectacularly across the prairies at this time of year—the Ojibway call July "Thunder Moon"—and, they say, "holds fire in its heart." (In his youth, the Horned hid the fire of the gods there after he had stolen it from Thunder's hearth, but that's another story.) Fire drills used to be made from oak, and their "cradles" from linden wood. Extinguishing all the fires in the village and kindling the New Fire from wood on wood is an old, old Midsummer's tradition.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Summer Yule

Yule : Midwinter :: Lithe : Midsummer.

8th century Anglo-Saxon historian Bede of Jarrow calls it Líða: Midsummer. Along with its winter equivalent, Yule, it was one of the two hinges of the Old English year.

Like Yule, we don't know what Líða meant originally. According to Bede, the word denotes “gentle” or “navigable” because at this time of year “the calm breezes are gentle, and they were wont to sail upon the smooth sea” (Shaw 49). Likely this is just a guess; it's certainly not a particularly compelling explanation.

In the English-speaking pagan world, many today refer to the summer sunstead (solstice) by its Anglo-Saxon name. If the word had continued in current use, as Yule did, we would today speak of Lithe. (Rhymes with scythe.)

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks Janette and Greybeard both: the OED confirms that well into early Modern English "lithe" retained its old association with
  • janette nash
    janette nash says #
    As a Brit, I have no trouble believing it means smooth, and refers to the water - a lot of old sayings relate to the weather, and
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Our best guess is that Litha was a Saxon word that essentially meant June. And "after-Letha" meant July.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Sing Oak and Ash and Thorn

A Victorian nationalist wrote the lyrics. The king of British folksingers wrote the tune. The father of modern witchcraft made it part of the Book of Shadows. And across the English-speaking world, pagans sing and dance to it every Midsummer's Day.

How good is that?

Poet Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) first published the poem A Tree Song in his childrens' novel Puck of Pook's Hill in 1906. Folk-singer Peter Bellamy (1944-1991) wrote a musical setting for the poem (you can hear it here), retitled Oak and Ash and Thorn; it was released on the album of the same name in 1970.

Meanwhile, some time in the 1950s, Gerald Gardner (1886-1964) had written the last verse of the song into the liturgy for Beltane. How did a Midsummer's song (“Sing Oak and Ash and Thorn, me love/all of a Midsummer's morn”) end up at Beltane? Well, the cross-quarters were the original sabbats of Gardner's revived “witch-cult,” as in Murray, and the quarter-days (solstices and equinoxes) didn't come in until later. That explains the truncation of the lyrics in the BoS version as well.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The World's Oldest Solstice Ritual

Remember when New Age discovered the Winter Solstice? Christmas Lite, without the baggage.

As a pagan, I grew to resent this. Not that the sunsteads—solstices—belong to us; they're a common inheritance. But don't be telling me about solstices, now. Some of us have been keeping them since, oh, the end of the last Ice Age or so, thank you very much. If not longer.

Somewhere around the third self-satisfied little sermon, I'd had enough, and started turning people into toads.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Maybe it would have been more appropriate to invoke Maeve or Mebh for Midsummer. But this is a Celtic roundhouse built in a magical woodland garden by a Smyth.  Brighid, as we know, looks out for all smiths, even those with a y in their name. The man had the vision as well as the craft. Between them, Tina and Johnny have made some magic on their land that lies a country mile from the Shannon Pot, where the River Shannon rises in Ireland.

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Summer Solstice 2014

scorched by the solstice
scales tipped rotating
swim deep in the ink

by Peter Beckley

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Summer Solstice Record Spin

Quick– how many 45s can you rattle off that contain references to the sun? If you are a music lover, chances are good that you are hopping on the vinyl train and building up your collection. If not, get in touch with your best record geek pal who also owns a player. The plan: a Super Summer Solstice Backyard Record Spin. You will need a functional player (it is always good to have an additional one back-up) and some vintage discs. Invite your guests to tote their 45s and 33s, even 78s if they have them hiding in a closet. 33s especially come in handy so that you don't have to keep hopping up to flip the record. Also, don't just have one designated DJ. Encourage everyone to get in the mix and take turns spinning the tunes. That way, a natural flow will emerge and you will enjoy an eclectic variety of music. If one person is being a little piggy though, be sure to gently nudge them off the turntable so that everyone does in fact have a chance to play.

Break out the folding chairs and a long table for snacks and beverages, buffet-style. The signature cocktail should of course be a "Sunny Sangria:"

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