In many countries, MidSummer — which I, and others, celebrate on the Summer Solstice — is celebrated not on Solstice but on the feast day of Saint John the Baptist / St Jean-Baptiste, June 24th.
Why? Solstice celebrations have infused their way into various faiths around the world, and many have feasts or celebrations of Saints or holy people around Solstice timing. (And that shifting of the Sun from Waxing to Waning can spread over several days!)
For instance, most of us would recognize that Christmas time in the Northern Hemisphere, when Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, is aligned with Winter Solstice, aka Yule. Many spiritual holy days / gods are celebrated at this time.
Summer Solstice also has a strong Christian element for many, as this is the time when the birth of Christ’s cousin and baptist, Saint John, is celebrated (he was allegedly born six months prior to Christ).
Were these the actual times of their birth? Highly unlikely, but their births are honoured at the time of other sun gods celebrated for thousands of years. Through the widespread adoption of Christianity, Midsummer’s Eve merged with Saint John’s Eve, but the roots of this holy day are firmly planted in Pagan origins. Those bonfire celebrations are spiritually linked to how our ancestors honoured the Sun at Solstice.
If you didn’t have the opportunity to celebrate Solstice on Thursday, you can start tonight (MidSummer’s Eve to many) through to tomorrow’s sunset.
And do consider working with one of my favourite MidSummer/Solstice herbs, St John’s Wort… in a bouquet, amulet, loose on your altar or in a vase, or wildcrafted into an oil or tincture.
ST JOHN’S WORT (Hypericum perforatum)
This lovely medicinal plant with its bright yellow blossoms typically blooms around MidSummer / St John’s Day, hence its name. When you squeeze the yellow flowers or buds of St Johns Wort, it exudes a red liquid … the “blood of St John”. The leaves have what appear to be tiny perforations, actually oil glands, hence the Latin term “perforatum”.
This “wort” (in Middle English, “wort” meant “plant”) is associated with peace and prosperity (in magical terms), and medicinally is recognised for its anti-depressive qualities, and is used by herbalists to “address viral infections like Herpes simplex or to abate nerve pain like sciatica… (and) for protecting the skin against sun damage.” (per Learning Herbs, see link below).
In the last few days, I have found several patches of this plant so will be foraging for wildcrafting infused oils and tinctures.
These pics were taken a couple of years ago:
From left to right:
☀️ Packing the jars with freshly collected and wilted St John’s Wort
☀️ Capped and labelled, after adding vodka to one jar for a tincture and EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) to the second jar for an infused oil
☀️ Both jars five days later, the olive oil already taking on that classic red hue of a St John’s Wort Infused Oil
The Learning Herbs website has an excellent article on this herb and how to make infusions, serums, etc:
🛑 CAUTIONS 🛑
St John’s Wort is also available in capsule and dried herb format but investigate thoroughly before using, as there are several important contra-indications depending on your underlying health conditions.
For instance, it can reduce the efficacy of blood-thinners such as warfarin, and should not be taken in combination with antidepressants, certain HIV drugs, certain diabetes medicines to lower blood sugar, such as gliclazide (Diamicron). Do not take if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
More info at HealthLinks BC (and many other online sources).