Related holidays: Litha, Midsummer, Gathering Day, Feast of St. John
“Everything and everyone who has fulfilled its purpose must change.”
Symbols and symbolism of Summer: Roses, wheels/circles/disks, sunflowers, first fruits and vegetables, fire, the phoenix, salamanders and serpents, cats, bathing in ocean/water, change, beauty, love, intensity, sacrifice, wishes and dreams, art, offerings, renewal, spirals, stone circles
Some deities associated with summer and the sun: Sunna (Germanic), Sul/Sulis (Celtic), Lugh (Celtic), Brigid (Celtic), Corn Goddess (Mesoamerican), Quetzalcoatl (Mesoamerican), Holly King–Oak King (Celtic), Bast (Egyptian), St. John the Baptist (Christian), Apollo (Greek), Amaterasu (Japan)
Plants sacred to the summer solstice: Gathering these herbs on the Summer Solstice/Midsummer increases their magical potency.
- Mistletoe – Highly revered by the Druids; used for protection and luck.
- Oak – Associated with growth, expansion, fertility and prosperity. (The Oak King)
- St. John’s Wort – Sunshine in plant-form; used for protection against negativity and melancholy.
- Mugwort – Used to induce dreams, visions, and psychic abilities
- Vervain – Common in protection and love spells.
- Yarrow – When worn or carried, yarrow banishes fear and promotes courage.
Meanings of the Summer Solstice
The Summer Solstice marks the height of the Sun’s power but also the turning point in the year when that power begins to wane. It is the longest day of the year and has been celebrated with bonfires, singing and festivals by peoples across the globe. The earth is green and holds the promise of a bountiful harvest. The Mother Goddess is heavily pregnant, and the God is at the pinnacle of his power.
At the Summer Solstice, we recognize that everything must change. Take time on this day to look back on what has been achieved in the previous year. We may relish our happy memories and great accomplishments even as we let them go in order to make room for new energy, new love and new experiences.
In earth-based traditions, this is a time to let go and practice generosity. People may gather for give-aways, letting objects, art, and crafts move into new relationships. Similarly, we can clear our minds and hearts of those ideas, feelings and events which are holding us back from our true creativity, love and power.
This summer is often associated with the God, the Divine Masculine, and with fathers in general. The Summer Solstice is a time to get in touch with your own creativity, your own potency and vitality, what makes you beautiful and powerful in your own right.
Stories of the Summer Solstice
On the Summer Solstice, the Sun enters into the sign of Cancer, a water sign which rules the mysterious, the imagination and our feeling nature. This may be why the Lady of the Lake and the Arthurian legends are associated with this time of year.
Victoria Crouch writes: “Water deities were very popular in Celtic society because they controlled the essence of life itself. The spontaneous movements of natural water showed, to the Celts, the sheer power of the goddesses, nymphs and faeries that lived within. Offerings to water for good luck were commonplace and even today, we throw coins into wishing wells, and refer to the Lady of the Lake as "Lady Luck". The Lady of the Lake is best known for her presentation to King Arthur of his magical sword, Excalibur, as she raised the sword up to the sky from her Lake.”
Her symbols include the golden apple for immortality and the red apple for transformation. Even though we associate this time of year with the fiery heat of the sun, it is also connected to water. If we let ourselves wander into the mysterious, watery realms of life, we may discover our true destiny, power and unlimited creative potential.
Magic and action for the Summer Solstice
Expressing your creativity and giving forth your gifts to the world are important ways to celebrate this holy day. Collage is such a great way of getting in touch with our subconscious and intuitive knowing, as we pick images and construct them seemingly at random. But the messages are often complex, clear and insightful.
To make a collage that explores some of the themes of the Summer Solstice, gather magazines, scissors, glue and a piece of cardstock. Decide on a theme, and then let yourself rip or cut out any images or words that speak to you. Use your intuition and trust the rightness of whatever comes through. After you glue the images down, you can put the collage on you Summer altar and do a little magic with it.
Take time each day to gaze at your collage. See what it has to say to you. You may even want to journal about it. Next, send the collage energy. Depending on the theme, you can imagine a color or quality that you are calling in, and with your imagination, picture that color, energy, or quality showering down on the collage, charging it with your magical intention. Do this every day for a few minutes, and feel the power of your intention growing and working in your life!
Interesting themes for a Summer Solstice collage include:
The sources of your creativity * What community means to you * The Divine Mother * The Divine Masculine * Completion * The gifts and skills you bring to the world *
Further Journaling questions for the Summer Solstice
- Explore the associations you have with the words “light” and “darkness.” Make lists of associations and then write about the dis/agreements you discover in those lists.
- What would it mean for you to do what you love? What are your coping mechanisms when you feel afraid or uncertain?
- Write about a time when you felt proud of something you did.
- Write about the father you had or the one you wished that you’d had.
- How do you give yourself nurturing? How do you receive it from others?