Friday, June 16, 2023

Friday Ramble Before the Summer Solstice (Litha)

Here we are, just a few days away from Midsummer or the Summer Solstice. Next Tuesday is the eve of Litha, and the following day (Wednesday, June 21st) is the longest day of the calendar year with the Sun poised at its zenith or highest point and seeming to stand still for a fleeting interval before starting down the long slippery slope toward autumn, and beyond that to winter. Actually it is we who are in motion and not the magnificent star at the center of our universe. Our sun stays right where it is.

This morning's image was taken by the front gate of the Two Hundred Acre Wood in the Lanark highlands some time ago, and it is one of my favorites, capturing the essence of midsummer beautifully with the old rail fence, strands of wild clematis, field grasses and cool green tree shadows in the background. 

It seems as though the golden season has just arrived, but things are all downhill from here. After Wednesday, daylight hours will wane until Yule (December 21) when they begin to stretch out again. The ebbing of daylight hours is bittersweet, but longer nights go along on the cosmic ride during the last half of the calendar year, and that is something to celebrate for those of us who are moonhearts and ardent backyard astronomers. There are some fine stargazing nights ahead. The Old Wild Mother strews celestial wonders by generous handfuls as the year wanes, spinning luminous tapestries in the velvety darkness that grows deeper and longer with every twenty-four hour interval.

The eight festive spokes on the old Wheel of the Year are all associated with fire, but the summer solstice more than any other observance. Centuries ago, all Europe was alight on Midsummer eve, and ritual bonfires climbed high into the night from every village green. Long ago midsummer festivities included morris dancing, games of chance and storytelling, feasting and pageantry and candlelight processions after dark. Prosperity and abundance could be ensured by jumping over Midsummer fires, and its embers were charms against injury and bad weather at harvest time. Embers were placed at the edges of orchards and fields to ensure good harvests, and they were carried home to family hearths for protection. Doorways were decorated with swags and wreaths of birch, fennel, white lilies and St. John's Wort which is in bloom now.

Alas, my days of jumping midsummer bonfires are over. I try to be outside or near a window with a mug of Jerusalem Artichoke (or Earth Apple) tea and watch the sun rise. There's a candle on the old oak table and a lighted wand of Shiseido incense in a pottery bowl nearby. The afternoon holds a few hours of pottering in the village, a quiet meal as the sun goes down, a little stargazing and moon watching later. We (Beau and I) cherish the simplicity of our small festive doings and the quiet pleasure of being surrounded by kindred spirits at such times, and as always, we will think of my departed soulmate. This is our fourth Litha without Irv, and his passing still cuts like a knife.

Happy Litha (or Midsummer), however you choose to celebrate, or not to celebrate it next week. May the sun light up your day from sunrise to sunset, and your night be filled with stars from here to there. May all good things come to you.


Pienosole said...

My absolutely favorite time of year. ☀️ Thank you again for your beautiful posts. 💚

Gill said...