Midsummer's Eve, also known as Summer Solstice, or Litha, is a celebration of the longest day of the year and the shortest night and a time when the sun turns southwards and the days begin to draw inward towards winter; This year, in the Northern Hemisphere, Midsummer landed on June 21st. It is one of my favourite times of the year, when the sun is at it's brightest, and the veil between the worlds are at their thinnest; a time when it is said that one can slip so easily into faerie and magic is thick in the air! Midsummer is a celebration of abundance, of sweet-smelling flowers and rich berries; the trees are lush and the days feel carefree; we are in the depths of summetime.
My own spiritual practices are really pretty private, and I keep much of it to myself, however, I've had a lot of interest in my witchery, and so I thought that I'd give you a little glimpse into my personal solstice celebrations without giving too much away.
This Midsummer was rather damp and unpredictable here in West Yorkshire; one moment the rain was thundering down against the Belfry windows in a cacophonous clatter, and the next, the skies broke; bright sunshine blazed through the clouds before beginning once again with its miserable downpour. Despite the weather, I was determined to go for a Midsummer walk, and awaited a small break in the rain before throwing up my hood and scuttling out of the door and up the hill behind our home and into the woods.
It was such a peaceful walk; I didn't see a single other soul the whole time, which made it all the more perfect. The sunlight dappled through the bright leaves scattering shadows, the smell of the damp earth in the air and not a sound save for birdsong and rustling of leaves in the breeze. Glorious! I spend a lot of time in the woods around our home; the trees are thick with leaves and blossoms and all of the wildflowers are now in full bloom; it's so wonderful to see the seasonal shifts.
I passed by a couple of the chickens that live close by, on the pathway through the woods, and I went to chat with some beautiful horses that were grazing near their gate further up the hill.
I settled in a little dell that we discovered earlier this year; it's just a clamber up a wall and short scramble over some twisted roots before you reach a tiny stream, and small clearing, which was covered in bluebells. I nestled myself in a nook of some mossy roots at the base of one of the trees and lit my candles and handmade Midsummer Incense in a little hollow out of the breeze.
I brought with me my Faerie Oracle by Brian Froud and Jessica Macbeth; it is so wonderfully insightful and never fails to tell me exactly what I need to hear. It also seemed especially perfect to use something so intrinsically connected to faerie on a Midsummer's Eve.
One my walk back home, I noticed that a section of weeds and wildflowers alongside one of the houses had been mown down and felt rather sad as they were particularly beautiful, however, I noticed some of the foxgloves were lying undamaged on the ground. I get a little superstitious about picking foxgloves and bluebells, and am generally convinced that angry faeries will appear and do me in (or perhaps realise that I am their one true queen...there's always that too) so I usually leave well alone whilst being all longing and wistful; however, I took the opportunity and gathered up all of the foxgloves that I could find from off of the ground and brought them home to make a little tincture for use with my artwork (I intend to mix the tincture in with my paints to add another magical element to my workings) It's currently sitting next to my drawing board beneath the Belfry window, soaking up the sun and moonlight ready for use. It felt like the perfect faery gift!
The evening drawing in marked the time for our Faery Feast! We gather together with some of our closest friends on the seasonal celebrations and generally make a course each to share; Bryony made the most amazing meal of Baked Sweet Potato Stuffed with Roasted Grapes and Honey with goats cheese for the non-vegans and I brought round my (somewhat experimental) sun-dried tomato vegan cashew cheese; we also scoffed grilled courgettes, artichokes, baby beetroot and mindblowingly amazing strawberries in balsamaic vinegar and Sweet Freedom. It was incredible! I made a Vegan Raw No-Bake Blueberry and Lemon Cheesecake, modified from a recipe from Call Me Cupcake and decorated with fresh blueberries and dandelions. Add elderflower cordial and some fruity ciders to drink, and you have the perfect Midsummer meal!
Midsummer bonfires are traditional for the celebration to represent the sun and the the triumph of light over darkness, lit to keep away evil spirits. Leaping the bonfire is believed to bring good luck for the coming year. Unfortunately, the British weather, rather typically, was damp and wet, so we had to forgo an outdoor fire this year; instead, we gathered around the woodburning stove with cups of warm tea, and I toasted vegan marshmallows for everyone as the sun went down.
I hope that your Midsummer was just as wonderful. Please share what you got up to if you feel so inclined; I'd love to know!