summer solstice

Notes from the Apothecary

July, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Sunflower

 

Despite being used by many Pagans as a symbol of the Summer Solstice, the bright and bold sunflower actually flowers a little later, in the deep heart of summer, during July and August. When the lazy, hot days take over, before the light starts to wane, these great, golden faces nod towards their namesake, spreading sunshine wherever they grow.

Sunflowers range from small, cheeky bright yellow flowers to towering golden giants, yellow and black, resembling great, mutant bumblebees on stalks. There are darks ones, pale ones and even some that seem almost black or purple.

 

The Kitchen Garden

Sunflowers are pretty easy to grow, and the seeds are often given to kids to encourage them to enjoy gardening. Competitions to see who can grow the tallest sunflower are common, and watching the plants soar skywards in the warmer months is a prize in itself.

Although they are named for their resemblance to the sun, sunflowers do actually need a sunny spot to achieve their full potential, along with some well drained soil and good compost. Many sunflowers can be grown for their seeds, which are nutritious and tasty when toasted. The seeds are cultivated commercially for their oil, which is used for so many culinary purposes it would take the whole article to list them here! Sunflower oil is a healthier alternative to many fats, even some types of olive oil. It’s fairly neutral in flavour, which makes it widely popular as it can be used in a diverse range of cuisines. Across Eastern Europe, a crumbly version of the sweet halva is made from a sort of sunflower butter.

 

The Apothecary

Mrs Grieve tells us that the seeds of the sunflower have diuretic properties, meaning they help us pass water more frequently, which can be useful to flush out our kidneys if combined with drinking lots of water. It’s important to remember that when using any diuretic, some important minerals and vitamins can be lost, particularly potassium. Dandelion is a great way to remedy this.

The seeds have also been used as an expectorant, and this application helps with bronchial, larynx and pulmonary issues including whooping cough. Grieve recommends making a medicine with 6oz sugar and 6oz gin! After that much gin, I’m fairly certain that whatever the ailment, you will begin to feel somewhat better… or simply not care that you feel ill!

In other cultures, sunflowers were used to help with snakebites.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

Klytie, the Okeanid nymph of Greek mythology, fell in love with either Helios or Apollo (Sol, the Sun), but was forsaken for her sister, Leukothoe. After watching the sun and pining for a time, she was transformed into a flower that followed the sun. Originally, this was the heliotrope, but in modern retellings, due to folklore that states that the sunflower follows the sun throughout the sky, Klytie has become the nymph who transformed into the sunflower. This makes the sunflower a little tragic, a symbol of unrequited love, and a reminder to let go of that which does not serve us.

Sunflower oil is one of the few foods that was historically permitted throughout lent, symbolising fasting, spiritual cleansing and self-discipline.

In a very literal sense, the sunflower represents the sun, and therefore fire, south, passion, love and creativity. Use the petals or whole flowers to decorate the southern aspect of your altar or sacred space. They make a useful offering or decoration at Lughnasadh or Lammas (1st August or thereabouts, depending on your tradition), as not only do they represent the sun at its height, but the harvest, food, wealth and well-being.

Cunningham tells us that sunflower seeds have been used by women who wish to conceive, and also as a protection charm against smallpox. Considering smallpox was eradicated many years ago, this use could be expanded to a general health charm, or a general protection charm, perhaps when combined with other magical elements. Cunningham also states that cutting a sunflower at sunset while making a wish, will cause the wish to come true before the next sunset, if the wish is not ‘too grand’. This is a touch vague, but reminds us to be down to earth, realistic, and that sometimes we need to make our own wishes come true!

 

Home and Hearth

If you wish to know the truth of a situation, meditate upon the image of a sunflower, or on an actual plant, either outside or in a pot in your house or sacred space. The sunflower represents an open face, total honesty; revealing all aspects of a situation. If you are able to, cut one of the flowers (with permission, never steal flowers and never cut wild-flowers) and when you go to bed that night, place the flower under your bed, all the while focusing on the situation you wish to know the truth of. Make sure that before you go to bed that night, you put a note pad and pen on your bedside table. You should dream of the situation, and the dream should tell you the truth of the situation. As soon as you awake, write down as many details of the dream as you can remember. If you do it immediately, you will remember more detail, so don’t delay!

Use the details in the dream to establish the truth of your situation. If it makes no sense even after this, it means the truth has been hidden for a reason, and you need to let it go.

 

I Never Knew…

Sunflowers have been used for thousands of years to make dyes for fabrics, in colours ranging from the expected orange and yellow, to brilliant blue!

 

Image credits: Sunflower (Helianthus L.) by Pudelek via Wikimedia Commons; Blütenstand (tellerförmiger Korb) einer Sonnenblume (Helianthus annuus) in Balve-Eisborn by Asio otus via Wikimedia Commons; Photograph showing a field of sun flowers and a sun spot by Thomas Quaritsch via Wikimedia Commons.

 

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About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing Up the Next Generation of Witches

July, 2018

As a child, I led such a weird childhood. I was known for seeing things that weren’t there and knowing things before they happened. I felt like a sin in my parent’s household as I was being raised in a Christian church. As I aged, I found solace in Wicca. Life and the things going on finally made sense.

When I was pregnant with my son (Little Bear), I made the decision to raise him in a Pagan household and support him, no matter what religion he decided on. Little Bear is now 4 years old and this has proven to be the best decision. He has shown signs of experiencing the same things that I went through as a child. Little Bear is a natural born healer, empath, and animal lover. He has to sleep with a light on because the dark brings weird things with it. While I cannot confirm it yet, it sounds like he is seeing people that have crossed over.

One of the major things that Little Bear and I have started doing is celebrating the Sabbats. Any reason to celebrate, right?

June 21st was Litha or the Summer Solstice. This is the longest day of the year and Little Bear and I took full advantage.

Every Sabbat, we discuss the Wheel of the Year. This helps remind us where we are on the Wheel and where we are headed. Because this follows the seasons, it is easy for Little Bear to understand. We discussed how Litha falls in the summer and some of our favorite summer activities. Little Bear loves grilling out, riding his bike and playing in the water.

The day started before sunrise. I poured out orange juice and we headed to the porch to watch the sun. It was a warm, quiet morning. I explained to Little Bear that we should be grateful for everything we have. I asked him what he was happy to have. “My bike, my mom, my bed, my dog” and the list went on and on. I smiled at his innocence and gave my own thanks internally. As the sun rose above the horizon, the world started coming alive. The birds started singing, the neighborhood stray cat came to visit, and we watched a herd of deer in the field across the street. We ended the morning with a barefoot walk around the property. We stopped at the outside altar and poured orange juice into the fairy dish as an offering. This is one of Little Bear’s favorite parts. We actually had to make a fairy altar closer to the house so he could easily access it without supervision.

After work, I had Little Bear help with dinner. We were preparing Grilled Chicken Salads. As we pulled the vegetables out, we talked about each one. Where they came from, how they grow, what the health benefits are, and what kind of super powers the vegetables might give us (This was Little Bears idea). I feel that knowing the health benefits of each vegetable will help Little Bear develop his Kitchen Witch side as he grows.

While making the salad, I noticed Little Bear had made a pile that contained a piece of each vegetable that went into the salad. It was his offering for the fairies.

We ended the night with a bonfire and watching the sunset. The longest day of the year had officially ended.

It may seem like I do a LOT of talking with Little Bear and I do. Little Bear is at the age where he is like a little sponge. He is asking tons of questions and curious about everything.

The next Sabbat is Lammas and I’m excited about it. This has always been a personal favorite because I love to bake bread. Lammas is the start of the harvest season. So breads, wheats, grains, grapes, apples, corn and wild berries are great foods. While I don’t have recipes pulled together yet, corn dollies and bonfires are part of the ritual for sure!

Some ideas to do with children are:

-Corn Dollies

-Magical Picnics (Make sure to leave an offering!)

-Collect berries for jams or jellies

-Time to harvest the garden

-Create a Witches Bottle (smaller children will need help with this since you will be working with sharp objects!)

-Time to redecorate the altar

-Visit an apple orchard (bring some home if the apples are ready!)

-Collect rain or storm water

-Bake bread, cakes, or muffins (cookies could be substituted so the little ones can decorate)

The biggest thing to remember, “It’s not about the action you are doing but the intent you are putting into it”.

What are some fun ways you are celebrating the Sabbats with your child/ren?

Blessed Be!

Summer Solstice/Litha Correspondences

June, 2018

(Midsummer/Litha Sabbat Holiday Card made by Leanne Peters of artandalittlemagic on Etsy & Allison Joanne of Pandora’s Box in Norwich, CT)

 

 

Also known as Alban Hefin, Sun Blessing, Gathering Day, Feill-Sheathain, Whit Sunday, Whitsuntide, Vestalia, Thing-tide, St. John’s Day

In addition to the four great festivals of the Pagan Celtic year, there are four lesser holidays as well: the two solstices, and the two equinoxes. In folklore, these are referred to as the four ‘quarter-days’ of the year, and modern Witches call them the four ‘Lesser Sabbats’, or the four ‘Low Holidays’. The Summer Solstice is one of them.

Date

June 21/22

Purpose

Rededication to the Lord and Lady, beginning of the harvest, honoring the Sun God, honoring the pregnant Goddess

Dynamics/Meaning
Crowning of the Sun God, death of the Oak King, assumption of the Holly King, end the ordeal of the Green Man

Tools, Symbols & Decorations
The sun, oak, birch & fir branches, sun flowers, lilies, red/maize/yellow or gold flower, love amulets, seashells, summer fruits & flowers, feather/flower door wreath, sun wheel, fire, circles of stone, sun dials and swords/blades, bird feathers, Witches’ ladder.

Colors
Blue, green, gold, yellow and red.

Customs
Bonfires, processions, all night vigil, singing, feasting, celebrating with others, cutting
divining rods, dowsing rods & wands, herb gathering, handfastings, weddings, Druidic
gathering of mistletoe in oak groves, needfires, leaping between two fires, mistletoe
(without berries, use as a protection amulet), women walking naked through gardens
to ensure continued fertility, enjoying the seasonal fruits & vegetables, honor the
Mother’s fullness, richness and abundance, put garlands of St. John’s Wort placed
over doors/ windows & a sprig in the car for protection.

Goddesses
Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Venus, Aphrodite, Yemaya, Astarte, Freya, Hathor,
Ishtar, all Goddesses of love, passion, beauty and the Sea, and Pregnant,
lusty Goddesses, Green Forest Mother; Great One of the Stars, Goddess of the Wells

Gods
Father Sun/Sky, Oak King, Holly King, hur, Gods at peak power and strength.

Animals/Mythical Beings
Wren, robin, horses, cattle, satyrs, faeries, firebird, dragon, thunderbird

Gemstones
Lapis lazuli, diamond, tiger’s eye, all green gemstones, especially emerald and jade

Herbs
Anise, mugwort, chamomile, rose, wild rose, oak blossoms, lily, cinquefoil, lavender,
fennel, elder, mistletoe, hemp, thyme, larkspur, nettle, wisteria, vervain ( verbena),
St. John’s wort, heartsease, rue, fern, wormwood, pine,heather, yarrow,
oak & holly trees

Incense/Oil
Heliotrope, saffron, orange, frankincense & myrrh, wisteria, cinnamon, mint, rose, lemon, lavender, sandalwood, pine

Rituals/Magicks
Nature spirit/fey communion, planet healing, divination, love & protection magicks.
The battle between Oak King, God of the waxing year & Holly King, God of the waning
year (can be a ritual play), or act out scenes from the Bard’s (an incarnation of Merlin)
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, rededication of faith, rites of inspiration.

Foods
Honey, fresh vegetables, lemons, oranges, summer fruits, summer squash,
pumpernickel bread, ale, carrot drinks, mead.

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

June, 2016

Summer Solstice

Bright Blessings.

As I reviewed my past Summer Solstice materials, I was deep in thought about community, the upcoming Pride march, which I wrote a bit about last time, and I wanted to learn something new I could share. I had thought to do an article about some aspect of healing used at Solstice time, but all I could find was that some people did pilgrimages to find medicinal herbs- because they were in season and it is time to go get them. Somehow, that just did not spark my interest enough to dig much deeper.

I am a flighty, finicky person, and I write best when inspired by something or another. So, I kept researching, and I found something by accident that not only inspired me and sparked my interest, but it completely blew me away. It is new to me, and has to do with a Pagan celebration of Summer Solstice.

What I learned about was a whole Pagan tradition I’d never heard of before and about their HUGE Summer Solstice celebrations. I also took time and thought about the healing I had read about. It’s simply gathering of herbs.

Healing yesterday as opposed to today

While we may think of ancient Pagan healing rituals as just a bunch of chanting and raising of energies, it was so much more than that. There was use of plant knowledge, lore and dogma to call a god or spirit to help, and then the presence of the trusted healer who had studied with the elder healer, who had studied with a different elder healer and so on and so forth. Plant knowledge is scientific knowledge of which plants chemically counteract infection, injury, or disease to make the body whole again. It’s the same knowledge any modern herbalist, apothecary, doctor, or pharmacist gets in university classes instead of years of study under a trained Pagan healer. It was proven in studies that something called the placebo effect can influence healing. If you believe you will be healed, it helps you feel better. In days past, the village or townspeople had faith in their healers, or healing techniques, whereas these days, if your doctor has a good bedside manner, and assures you all will be well, you will feel relieved, and your stress levels drop, which helps the body to fight disease better.

Ancient healers- especially in small settlements, knew their people quite well. They knew your parents, their parents, your siblings, your friends and neighbors, and everybody else. You might have grown up with them, or maybe your kids grew up with their kids. Not only did everybody know everybody else’s business quite often, but your local healer usually knew what you were allergic to, what you were comfortable with, what old injuries you had, and they likely knew your personality well enough to understand what made each individual tick. Whatever scared you or made you most relaxed were things they kept in mind when treating each individual. Modern doctors, be they medical doctors, or psychiatric doctors do all these things as well. The difference is they no longer call the gods for help in healing.

Infections and diseases that would have wiped out a whole population of people in a matter of weeks have been completely eradicated thanks to modern medicines, and no amount of praying away said infections used to keep people alive. Smallpox is a very good example.

The first evidence of smallpox goes back as early as 10,000 BC, and during the 20th century, as many as 300-500 million people died from just smallpox. Due to vaccination, it was declared eradicated in 1979. While it is common knowledge that Native Americans were contracting and dying from smallpox as early as the 1500’s, some of which was deliberately given to them, it is not common knowledge some people actually had smallpox gods.

A Hindu goddess named Shitala was worshipped, and devotees believed praying to her could cure or prevent smallpox. While some believed she healed or prevented smallpox, others believed she CAUSED it, and put bowls of water on their roofs because they believe it warded her off. To this day, a whole festival day is devoted to her worship in Springtime. Here is an interesting article from Om Ashram about that.

http://www.omashram.com/news/78-the-day-of-shitala-devi

A Time Magazine snippet discusses smallpox pre- vaccinations, and this shows that despite the devotions and prayers, people still got smallpox in India- and vaccinations are what helped.

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2027479_2027486_2027524,00.html

As a religious individual, I certainly do not advocate to give up faith in healing from the divine and just forego prayers and devotions. But I do know prayers alone can’t assure healing. Nowadays, we have our modern doctors, hospitals, labs, and you name it, but Pre-Christian Pagans did not. And coincidentally, at times of certain religious celebrations, certain herbs that could be used medicinally would be ready to harvest.

Gathering the herbs

As to these healing herbs gathered at solstice time, in Spain for example, this was done by women, who gathered fennel, fern, rue, rosemary, dog rose, lemon verbena, St. John’s wort, laburnum, foxgloves, and elder flowers. (Wikipedia) Each plant has certain healing qualities, but typically, instead of using them herbally, they were either tied in bundles and hung above the door, or dipped in water and left outside all night so they would also have morning dew on them, and people would wash their faces with this in the morning.

Slavic Neo-Paganism

The Pagan tradition I mentioned earlier is Slavic NeoPaganism often called Rodnovery. They seek to recreate Slavic pre-Christian Pagan traditions and have been around since the early 1900’s. Belaris, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Serbia, the Donbass region, and Estonia are all listed as places that have some form of population of adherents to these traditions. Because some adherents worship Norse gods, some white supremacist and anti-Semitics claim this as their faith- but like modern Norse Heathenry, not everybody adhering to these religions is

anti- Semitic or racist.

An excellent article listing a little history after Christianization as well as the names of some of the specifically Polish Pagan gods is given here.

http://www.polishtoledo.com/pagan/

Interestingly enough, some of these groups seek to restore worship to the way it was in pre Christian times with historical accuracy . I will share two short films from YouTube.

The first is called Pagan Novosibirsk, The Movie- and it is about 20 minutes long. It’s interviews that have subtitles because the speakers do not speak English. It is about these Pagan movements and what some of the adherants have to say about it.

Kupala Night

The next is a short clip of Slavic Pagans celebrating Summer Solstice, which is called Kupala Night. This video is under five minutes and shows festivities at the festival. It reminds me of historical reinactments in a lot of ways, and it’s so beautiful to see how devoted these people are.

According to Jacob Grimm, Kupala was what the festival was called, referring to the bonfires lit. Other sources say that is refers to Kupulo, a harvest god, and a feast day of St John the Baptist was substituted because purification by water occurred at the holy day.

Bonfires to drive away evil spirits are burned, and couples leap over fires together, hands joined, and it is believed to prove they will not break up if their hands do not come unclasped during the jump. Single women also don beautiful wreaths of plants in their hair and go into the woods to hunt for the flowers of the fern – a plant that does not flower, by the way. If one were to find this bloom, it would mean they would be blessed with prosperity! The men go in after them…and while a fern might not flower, a relationship just might!

Flower wreaths , as well as floating candles are released by women in hopes of learning about future relationships and men sometimes try to catch the wreaths, in belief they might catch the interest of the girl who released it.

Some of these things are still observed by Christian devotees at St John’s Day, but a lot is done by Pagan adherents.

What the Shrink has to say…

One last thing I will share is a tidbit I came across while researching. It is a scientific article that discusses resurgence of Pagan belief and it’s relationship with mental illness in Russia. While this article had precious few patients involved in the study, and reveals little- it has a lot of information and history listed in it. Plenty about Summer Solstice is in there as well. It will be interesting to see how many mopre studies about mental health and pagan beliefs are conducted over the years as Paganism becomes more widespread.

http://www.wcprr.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/jan061220.pdf

While these things in Slavic areas may be different than what modern American Neo-Pagans do, I was very excited to share what I learned from our Slavic cousins for this article!

Wrapping it all up…flowers and all!

While an enormous bonfire or fertility workings are not what I am going to put into my ritual, a blessed floral or herbal bundle like some folks from Spain create will. As opposed to the power of water and moonlight and morning dew, I suggest blessing this bundle with the power of the sun.

At Solstice Time, the Sun is at its most powerful. The days are longest, and the nights are shortest. What this means is a lot of sunlight for the development of growing plants, and the plants we eat, but also extended daylight hours give lots of vitamin D and heat to human beings which translates into energy.

Suggested Working

On the day you celebrate Summer Solstice, go and gather flowers or greenery someplace. If you don’t have access to hand-picked plants, you can absolutely go buy flowers at the store! Just make sure that whatever plants you get mean something to you- even if you just LIKE the plants. You can use your favorite color, or even just get all greenery to symbolize life and growth. Snippetts from ordinary shrubbery can absolutely suffice. Next, tie your plants or flowers into a bundle together, and once that has finished, hold them up towards the sum, and say something like

Hail the invincible sun, bringer of heat, life, and growth.

Bless these blooms with your lifegiving energy on this day

when you are at your most powerful.

May the strength, power, healing, and lifeforce

from you go into this bundle,

where it will be hung in my home/car/office to bless me

and all who enter with prosperity, healing,

new life, growth and progress,

and all things good and blessed.

So mote it be!”

You may leave some form of offering to the sun if you like- something like planting a flower or something you will nurture, burning incense, or a small fire in your firepit, or even just a little flour or perfume released to the wind. Leave the bundle in the sun until nightfall, and then hang it where you want its blessings.

Blessed Solstice.

Blessed Be.

Rites and Rituals

June, 2010

The Summer Solstice

The morning feels still, the air holds a gentle warmth from yesterday, as dawn kisses the new day with first light. I stand facing the East. My wand is in my left hand, my blade held in the right and I await the new day’s breath. For me, there is a special magick within that initial cool breeze that descends the moment the Earth’s star crosses dawn’s horizon. I open myself with eyes closed, my arms outstretched. I allow the first breeze to pass through me. I can feel it touch my spirit, filling me with a contented peace that emerges, as a smile appears upon my face. I slowly open my eyes to the Sun, now shining brightly yellow, slowly rising over Mt Hood and reflecting its fire off the snow capped summit. I sit down beside the river. I notice its rush down to join the mighty Columbia is seemingly less urgent and I watch a kingfisher decide which branch makes the better fishing spot. The morning grows stronger, filling in the last few places the remnants of night hid within, chasing all but the eldest tree’s shadows away.  I turn my thoughts to this day. The movement of energy is much more subtle now. The struggles of Spring have faded into memory and the great Wheel finally turns with measured consistency. Nature has for a while known its purpose and all within Her realm are clearly focused on fulfilling their destinies. The days are at hand for reflecting on all that has been endured and discovered through Winter’s hold. The warm magickal nights have arrived for celebrating all that has been envisioned and embraced through Spring’s dance. These are the precious few months, enchanted with the ability to dismiss the passage of time and summon forth the youthful innocence of every spirit. As a pagan man, I can not help but smile again and feel a sense of pride, for this is the day I believe encompasses all that I strive to be. I can feel the Sun shining down upon me, not hot, but wonderfully warming my skin and lulling me into a dream. I let myself fall and welcome the visions that begin to take me on a journey. The Goddess is sitting next to a small brook running through a meadow. I don’t see the God, the Horned Lord of the Forest anywhere, so I peer deeper into the surrounding woods. He is standing alone on a rock ledge, overlooking the woods below, looking up at the Sun. He appears deep in thought, very still and quiet as he just breathes beneath the Sun. I find myself mimicking His actions as I stand, yet remain within my dream. I breathe and further embrace the moment, letting the river’s song completely wash over me. It is then that I begin to hear Him softly speak of this exact moment upon the Wheel and what lies within His spirit. I see Him look back over all that has been accomplished in his youth and all that his energy has helped set into motion. I can feel him smile as He remembers the wonder and passion of his Goddesses’ charms. Then I hear Him whisper softly of that which he holds sacred within his spirit. From the unconditional connection he keeps alive between himself and the Earth, to the promised love he shares with the Goddess, he proudly recognizes his true purpose. And now as he stands in the moment, completing the turn from youth to father he wonders how can it be possible to cherish so fleeting a thing as youth. A smile grows anew over his face as he realizes the secret. Then with all the magick, passion and love he can summon, he casts out upon Summer, the illusion of endless days and nights. A brief respite within the turning of the Wheel, before the Fall’s harvest demands our attention and the darkness grows into Winter, where we can seemingly laugh and celebrate our lives, endlessly.  It is in that exact instant though, that I see Him ever so slightly change and recognize that He indeed can not out run the Wheel. There is a balance with all things, a cost to all actions, and in this instance the price of suspending time’s passage is his own demise after the harvest. I watch him make his way off the ledge and down to where the Goddess still sits. When they begin to speak to each other I pull myself out of the dream but not before I hear Her say how long this morning feels and that this day will last forever.

I return to the present, the Sun is nearly overhead and I feel that now is the perfect moment to mark my wand. I take the magnifying glass from my pack and use it to light an offering of sage. Then with a steady hand I focus the Sun’s fire upon my wand and burn another ring around it to mark the year traveled. As I begin to make my way back to my house my thoughts turn to celebrating.  With my wife and our friends we will feast and drink all day and late into the night, cherishing our lives, our world and the magick of Summer.

Goddess Cards

June, 2009

The Goddess of Summer Solstice

the-goddess-pp

People from every culture and era have held spiritual and religious celebrations in June! Most are holy days, linked to the Summer Solstice. Officially, it’s the first day of summer. On this day, literally, the sun appears to stand still as it reaches the zenith of its climb through Heaven. From this day forward, it will slowly descend, the days growing shorter as we move toward winter.

The Pagan Community celebrates Litha, the Summer Solstice, on June 21st. It‘s the longest day of the Pagan year, halfway between Beltane on May 1st, and Lughnasadh on August 1st. At this sacred and fruitful time, the Oak King, or Green Man, who presides over the first part of summer, is succeeded by the Holly King, or Horned God, who carries us forward toward Fall and Harvest. Both are seasonal gods, lovers and royal consorts of the Goddess. They provide for her and for her children: the Green Man, with the fruits of agriculture, and the Horned God, by his skills as a hunter.  The images I’ve painted of both gods depict them at the peak of their powers, instead of as an aging or youthful deity who is just beginning, or ending, his reign.

herne-green-man-copy

For me, however, the Solstice is all about the Goddess! Here, she’s shown as pregnant with the Sun God, to whom she’ll give birth at Yule.  Surrounded by the tropical lushness of summer, she’s the essence of fertility and abundance. A summer sun rides high above, warming her and the god she carries with its healing rays. Fruitful, feminine and maternal, she proudly cradles her belly, nourished by her understanding of the vital role she plays in Creation.

With all Nature in a riot of fertility at this time of year, it’s not surprising that June has long been the traditional month for weddings.  The ancients believed that the “great union” of the God and Goddess happened at Beltane in early May. Unwilling to trespass on the rites of deities, many couples delayed their weddings until the following month.

The word “honeymoon,” describing the joyous period when they went off together to savor their marriage, came from the first full moon in June ~ called the Honey Moon. Our ancestors believed this was the best time to harvest honey from the hives, hence the name. Newlywed couples were also fed food and drinks flavored with honey for the first month of their marriage, to increase love and fertility.

June is a magical month. Rejoice in the fertility of the goddess and her consorts, as seen at Summer Solstice.  Enjoy Earth’s abundance that she brings into being. Celebrate it in your own life!  Now is the time of milk and honey, long, sleepy days, and scented nights.


Anne Baird, Designer/Owner of GODDESS CARDS, is a self-taught artist who has been painting and writing since childhood. Her chosen media for her unique line of greeting cards is watercolor, with touches of gouache, ink and colored pencil.

Her GODDESS CARD line grew from a birthday card she created for her daughter, Amanda, in 2001. Amanda was disheartened at being a curvaceous beauty in the Land of Thin. (Los Angeles.) That seminal card declaring, “You’re a GODDESS, not a nymph!” evolved into a long line of love notes and affirmations for ALL women. At over 125 cards, the line is steadily growing.

Anne is inspired by the archetypal Legendary Goddesses, who have so much to teach today’s women. Her greatest inspiration however, comes from the Goddesses of Today, who write her with wonderful suggestions and thoughts that expand her consciousness and card line.

She is launching an E-Goddess Card website soon, where the Goddess on the Go can send Goddess “e-cards”, enriched with music and stories, at the click of a mouse. (A virtual mouse.)