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Fire Dance by Julia C R Gray

The Wheel of the Year is turning. It feels like Beltaine was just yesterday, and yet this week in the Northern Hemisphere we welcome the Summer Solstice, also known as MidSummer or Litha.

The Solstice — from the Latin for “standing sun” — arrives on Wednesday, June 21st at 4:24 UTC (Universal Time), which is Tuesday, June 20th at 9:24 PM here in Vancouver, Canada.

On this glorious day, we celebrate and honour Daghda (dag-dah), also known as Father Sun, and Áine (aw-nyuh), the Celtic Goddess of Summer, as they reach their waxing peak. In our modern world, this day also marks the first official day of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

But not so very long ago, our ancestors recognised this special day as MidSummer and not the start of Summer. Why? The Winter and Summer Solstices mark turning points in the year. At the Winter Solstice, we experience the shortest day and the longest night. From that point, the days begin to lengthen, heralding the coming Spring and Summer. Spring arrives at Imbolc and Summer arrives at Beltaine. Then, at Litha / Summer Solstice, we have the longest day and the shortest night. And from that point, the Sun starts to wane, the days get slightly shorter and we know that the first harvests of Autumn are coming. So Solstice is the half-way point between the start of Summer at Beltaine and the arrival of Autumn at Lughnasadh, i.e. MidSummer.

Solstice is a magickal time. Once again the veil is thinnest between the Otherworlds and our world, and the Sídhe (shee) — aka the Fae or Faeries— come out to play and frolic in our world. Torches were lit to greet them, and bonfires were built to celebrate the Sun and to mourn Áine’s passing . . . and to ask it to stay just a little longer before we turned once again to Winter. You may recall Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which the humans and the Fae had some remarkable adventures.

Last year, our Solstice coincided with the Full Moon — Father Sun and Grandmother Moon working powerfully together — but this year we find ourselves in the deeply Feminine waning moon, with a New Moon arriving on June 24th at 2:31 UTC (June 23rd, 7:31 PM here in Vancouver),  giving us powerful Solstice energy to fuel the beginning of our lunar journey.

The Summer Solstice honours and celebrates the Fire element, growth and self-empowerment and the Divine Masculine within us. That definitely feels like a Third Chakra connection to me!

solar-plexus-chakra-2On the Solstice, pay attention to your Third Chakra (aka the Solar Plexus chakra or Manipura) and align with your Inner Sun source. This chakra is the seat of your personal power, your will, your perception of Self.

Strengthen that connection (and balance the chakra) by:

  1. Embracing yellow, the colour of the Sun — wear it, create with it, decorate with it, eat it. There are lots of nutritious yellow foods to choose from such as bananas, peppers, lemons, pineapple, squash, Yukon gold potatoes, beans, tomatoes and more
  2. Adding candles in the colours of Fire and Sun to your altar such as red, gold, yellow and orange
  3. Walking in the sunshine
  4. Decorating your home and altar with flowers. Sunflowers would be perfect, or any yellow or orange blossom in season
  5. Exercising and strengthening your core with yoga or Pilates
  6. Meditating with yellow or golden-hued crystals such as amber, topaz and citrine, and yellow varieties of jasper, tourmaline or quartz
  7. Charging up your sacred tools with the power of Father Sun, by placing them in the full sunlight all day (and only if it is safe for them to be in full light)
  8. Empowering yourself through affirmations such as:

“I respect myself”
“I stand up for myself and what I believe in.”
“I honour and celebrate the Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine within me.”

One of the ancestral Midsummer traditions was the foraging and culling of medicinal and magickal plants. At the height of their waxing energy, they are at their most potent. And the New Moon coming later this week is a perfect time to start new tinctures and infusions, or to dry herbs for use throughout the next year.

IMG_0872There are several herbs associated with Solstice and these five are perhaps the most well-known (Source: Kindling the Celtic Spirit by Mara Freeman):

  1. St John’s Wort (in Middle English, “wort” meant “plant”). This herb is named for St John the Baptist, whose birth was six months before that of Jesus, who we honour at the Winter Solstice. This plant is associated with peace and prosperity but is also is recognised by herbalists for its anti-depressive qualities. Many ancient Solstice celebrations have morphed into those of St John the Baptist over time.
  2. Yarrow (“the herb of seven cures”) known to many for treating wounds and staunching the flow of blood. I also use it as a bug repellent, infused in witch hazel or vodka.
  3. Fern, a bridge between the human and faerie worlds
  4. Mugwort, considered by many to be a universal herb for protection and prophecy
  5. Vervain aka Verbena, also known as the “holy herb” or “enchanter’s plant” 

Mara Freeman lists other Herbs of Solstice including rose, foxglove (be very careful, as it can be toxic, and is the source of powerful heart medicine digitalis!), clover, meadowsweet, sage, wild hops, elderflowers, rue, wild mustard, elecampane, saffron, Rowan leaves, wild hops, and fennel.

If you choose to create some Earth Medicine with these herbs, be sure to do your research first to ensure they are safe for you. These can be very powerful medicines and some have several contra-indications based on existing conditions, other medications you are taking, age, etc.


Preparing herbs and botanicals for loose incense and amulets

But one of the simplest ways to invoke a little Earth Medicine, and honour both the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine, with these herbs and flowers is to use them for decoration, for incense and/or in their essential oil form for diffusing.

From the Herbs of Solstice list— and whatever is local to where you live — choose three (a magical number in Celtic traditions) or nine (three times three, even more magickal!) of these herbs to make:

  1. a herbal bouquet of fresh or dried plants for placing in a doorway or on your altar
  2. a herbal amulet: fill a pouch with the dried herbs and tie with a red thread or ribbon
  3. a loose incense for burning on your altar or throwing into a Solstice Bonfire

I love making loose incense and essential oil blends, and both can be incorporated into your celebrations. I often turn to Scott Cunningham for inspiration, especially his book “The Complete Book of Incenses, Oils & Brews”.

This incense favourite can be burned on a charcoal disc on your altar or tossed onto a Litha fire. You can also make your own incense blend using any of the Herbs of Solstice listed above.

Midsummer Incense
2 parts Sandalwood
1 part Mugwort
1 part Chamomile
1 part Gardenia Petals (you can substitute Rose or Hawthorn petals)
a few drops Rose Essential Oil (Rosa Damascena) 
a few drops Lavender EO (Lavandula angustifolia)
a few drops Yarrow EO Achillea millefolium)

There are many essential oil blends you can find on-line such as these two Litha oil blends. They can be used in your diffuser or as an anointing oil by adding to one ounce of your preferred carrier oil (grapeseed, jojoba, sweet almond, etc.)

4 drops Lavender Essential Oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
3 drops Rosemary EO (Rosmarinus officinalis)
1 drop Pine EO (Pinus sylvestris)

5 drops Orange EO (Citrus sinensis)
4 drops Lavender EO (Lavandula angustifolia)
3 drops Ylang-Ylang EO (Cananga odorata)



Illustration by Warwick Goble

Solstice is strongly associated with the world of Faerie and with their healing powers, and knowledge of herbs, magick and spells. In ancient Celtic legend, it was believed that human faerie doctors could diagnose ailments caused by the Fae (often known as tricksters!) and would provide a suitable healing. These doctors often overlapped with the herbalist traditions of Wise Women and Wise Men who were knowledgeable in herbal remedies.


There are many ways to honour and celebrate the Fae, and these are some of my favourites:

  1. Create a Faerie Garden in a favourite pot, container or window box
  2. Place a hand-crafted Faerie Door on a tree
  3. Take a journey/meditation to the land of the Fae
  4. Craft a Faerie Spirit Doll
  5. Walk in Nature, listening for the Faerie voices
  6. Call on Áine (also known as a Faerie Queen) for support and wisdom on Solstice

How will YOU celebrate Summer Solstice?

Be sure to celebrate with the Fire Element – a bonfire or candle 🌞



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