summer patterns



If we study closely the traditions of those who came before us
we can begin to see a pattern
in the fold of the practices

this pattern reveals the warp and weft of the season:
the forces that are felt at this time of the year.


This is a pause, a moment of complete immersion,
an all out celebration of the richness and ripening all around us.

{ Below I list some of the observable themes of the season: }




This month is named after JUNO -
queen and mother of the Roman Gods and Goddesses, 
associated with: motherhood, protection, marriage, vivacity and vital life force.

June and Juno both stem from these Latin root words:

- iuvenis : youth ... as in "jeune"  (French for young)
- iuvenis : one who is filled with vital life force
- iuvo : to aid, or benefit; to delight, or please
- iuvenescendo : to rejuvenate
- aevum :  A state of vital force, a fertile time
- aeviternity : the mode of existence experienced by angels, and those in heaven
- between eternity and temporal existence.


Even with just these words, we can ascertain that this is a time of life, vivacity, fertility, pleasure and deliciousness!

{ And already we can see reference to a stillness - a suspended time }



The green of the Earth is at its flux - after this comes the gradual descent into yellowing wheat and leaves, and then winter once more.
But right now life is full and fresh, at its most vibrant!



If the spring equinox was a time of the day, it would be the dawn - the beginning, the rebirth of the Sun.
Comparatively, the summer solstice is like midday - when the Sun is highest in the sky, full and bright and hot!

The wheel of the sun can be seen in so many traditions: in the wreaths worn by maidens all over Europe, in the burning wheels flung down hills in Wales, and in the spinning and slow circling dances of the people of Yakutia. 

This wheel of the sun, this spiralling and circling and cycling can represent the minute and grand cycles of life. Each day, as the sun moves across the sky it makes a giant arc. Over the course of the year, the arc will become higher or lower, and all life on Earth will rise and fall, die and be reborn. Such are the cycles of the sun.

The sun is crucial to life on Earth. It brings warmth, helps grow our foods, and gives us light. The return of summer was a return to life, not only because the flowers are growing, but because this was the main time when food could be grown, and when light made it possible to go out and do things during the day. The sun makes life possible, and our ancestors remembered this, giving thanks in every stage of its cycle.



In many of the traditions stated above, this was a time to put work aside and come together to celebrate. Long summer days are often filled with activities - they are our productive times, when we can get more done. And so it was with our ancestors, who relied on the longer days for the planting and tending of crops, which required a sturdy and sustained effort. At midsummer, it was often a time when everyone could take a break, let loose, and enjoy the fruits of the season! For some people in the very far north, this was the only time they could hold such a gathering: when the day was light enough and warm enough.

The parties at this time of year were legendary - the food was plentiful and drinks flowed like water. The act of eating and drinking could be likened to a kind of sympathetic magic, and an ancient art of manifestation (as we call it nowadays) - as each person's gratitude and enjoyment NOW would help encourage a bountiful harvest in the Autumn.


This would have been a night to remember - one that seemed steeped in magic. The ritual bathing, the shimmer of the waters, the time spent ruminating on love while weaving wreaths in the morning. The air, filled with the heady scents of jasmine, smoke and herbs. The dance, sometimes hypnotic, under the stars, in the dark. Dresses clinging to the sweat of bodies. An overflow of food and drink, wine or beer. Who would not feel in love on this night?

The element of love was almost central to all midsummer celebrations. Some scholars have even suggested that these festivals are the original Valentine's day, when love is in the air. For some young couples, this was the only time when they could let loose - choosing their own partners for the evening, and showing their affections without being chastised by the rest of the community.

Even Shakespeare made the link between love and midsummer - in his play: a Midsummer Night's Dream, where many of the characters are struck by a love potion, and fall head over heels for people they would normally avoid.

It was a night of courtship, love, initiation and unhampered freedom.  A night of sorcery, divination, power and magic! Passion and delight!



These were the staple elements to almost every summer solstice celebration!

Look back, and you shall see.



While we now talk about a 'veil thinning,' our ancestors spoke of the heavens opening up - at a time dedicated to the gods and goddesses of the sky, when rain would be most appreciated. The days surrounding the solstice were said to be potent, magical and mysterious, when spirits roamed the Earth and fairies danced in fields and on hilltops. It is not surprising, then, that it was a popular time for all sorts of divination rituals (especially those to do with love) - as it the barrier between present, past and the future was only a whisp, that could almost be reached through to ascertain some form of personal fate. At this time, too, it would have perhaps been easier to communicate with the gods or their messengers.



The fairy folk show up all over the place on the summer solstice, making appearances in tales from Iceland to the reaches of Bulgaria. They are especially active on the eve before the solstice, it seems, and their actions could be both helpful and detrimental. Many tales tell us that on this night, the fairies are partying too! They dance and sing, they make circles in the grass and fields, and they go about, blessing the crops for the harvest.



Studying the cosmological cycles can give us a wider perspective on this time of year...


when the sun stands still

solstice :

derived from the Latin words :
sol - sun
sistere - to stand still,
OR  the Greek stasis - standing or stopping


This is the longest day of the year. It occurs when Earth's rotational axis brings either the Northern or Southern hemisphere closer to the Sun, the star that we orbit. On the summer solstice, Earth's maximum axial tilt toward the Sun is 23.44 degrees. From our perspective on Earth, the sun will reach its highest altitude in the sky on this day. Thus, the days are warmer, and much longer - as the time between sunset and sunrise lengthens. Think back to your childhood, and those long summer days that seemed to go on into the late hours of night.

Ancient astrologers, who believed that the Sun revolved around the Earth, observed that the sun "stood still" for a few days around the solstice time. The Sun would reach its highest point in the sky for these few days, before it began descending again, lowering its arc till it would reach its lowest point - at the winter solstice.

The closer one is to the North or South Pole, the more daylight one will experience on the summer solstice! So, someone in Alaska might experience 15 hours of sunlight, while somebody closer to the Equator might experience 9 hours. This kind of solstice happens twice each year, once in the Northern hemisphere and once in the Southern hemisphere.


( June 28th )

Also called: rose moon, berry moon, honey moon, sun moon, horse moon, mother moon, hot moon.

This Full Moon got its name from the Algonquin tribes who knew it as a signal to gather the ripening fruit of wild strawberries.
Strawberries are often the first fruits of the season. They beckon the beginning of the fertile months when fruit will be abundant, bees are making their honey, roses are blooming and all the world glows in her motherhood. Everything is ripe, delicious and dripping with decadence.



Around the time of the solstice a zodiacal transition occurs - the season of Gemini ends and the season of Cancer begins. As Gemini is an air sign, and Cancer is a water sign, this can be seen as a move from the air to the water; a descent of sorts, following the path the sun will take after the solstice.

Gemini, the twins, can represent this meeting point of the two halves of the year. On the one side is light, the other is darkness. The twins are like two opposites, a symbol of polarity, and yet also a symbol of union - each is linked to the other by brotherly love. In the myth of Gemini, one twin chooses to give part of his strength and life force to the other. In choosing to give over a bit of his life force, he cements their fate: to live in a cycle of death and rebirth, spending time in both the upper world, the home of the Gods, and then in the underworld, in Hades.
This story is not unlike that of the Oak King and the Holly King, a neopagan concept in which each king defeats the other in a never-ending cycle of summer and winter, death and rebirth.


While the summer solstice is celebrated by the chucking of flaming wheels down hillsides, representing the Sun's coming descent, the opposite shows up in the symbology of midwinter. The season of Capricorn, associated with midwinter, is symbolised by a mountain goat - the hill-climbing goat representing the Sun's ascent back upwards.


With the end of the Gemini season, that meeting of the two halves, we move into the Cancer season.
During ancient times, Cancer was the location of the Sun's most northerly position in the sky, though this position now occurs in Taurus due to the precession of the equinoxes.
Cancer is a very nuturing water sign. While fire initiates things, sparking life, water houses things. It envelopes. Water is our original mother - it is the sonic sound of the womb from which we all came. It is the sea from which life began.