Tomorrow is the summer solstice, so it’s time for a new High Day essay.
First of all, let’s get this out of the way; the summer solstice has long been a traditional time for weddings and handfastings and my wife and I, being good little Pagans, have followed this tradition. In fact, this year will be our 10th anniversary! So you’ll have to forgive me if I’m a bit giddy in this post.
I am also half Finnish, and all children of the north greet the longest day of the year with much rejoicing. I hope one day to be able to visit Finland on the solstice and witness their festivities which I hear are epic in scope.
Midsummer, or Litha as some Neo-Pagans refer to it, has of course been a sacred day since the neolithic period and probably earlier. It is traditionally marked with bonfires and a greeting and praise of the sun in the morning.
Midsummer’s Eve is also a strong associated with the Fae, and it is easy to see why; around this time of year the fire flies light up the woods around my house. It is always a good idea to make an offering to the Faeries on this night. One can even go looking for them, but this is generally considered a potentially dangerous activity and should not be undertaken lightly!
The solstice marks the part of the wheel of the year where the Earth seems full to bursting with life. Here in Ontario the trees are covered with leaves and blossoms, the sky is full of birds during the day and bats at night, all manner of insects crawl and fly through the land and the air, and the grass is full of snakes. The nights come alive with the chirping of crickets, the calls of tree frogs, and the songs of the Cicada.
In the garden, the planting is done and our challenge becomes ensuring that the crops are adequately watered and weeded. We’ve started harvesting swiss chard and lettuce. Ususally we have spinach by now as well, but the long wet and cold spring this year played havoc with most of our early crops. This misfortune, though, I find links me closer psychically to the Ancestors; for them, such a set back would have made for a very hungry and worrying summer.
Finally, Midsummer in Ontario does correspond to one of our most precious harvests; strawberries! Although the California strawberry industry has become so huge that we can now buy them at the supermarket any time of the year, nothing beats the taste of local berries picked fresh. Indeed, visiting a farm and picking your own strawberries is a tradition for many Ontario families. For myself, starting a new batch of Strawberry Wine is always a seasonal activity!