Also was known as Litha, Feill-Sheathain, Jani, Alban Hefin, Juhannus, Midsommarafton, Saint John’s Eve.
“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.” — Maori proverb
The Longest Day
The day of the Summer Solstice marks the longest hours of daylight for that year. It is the polarized opposite of the Winter Solstice which occurs on the opposing date and marks the longest hours of darkness within the year. Each is a place of giving way; one to the other in dominance and strength so that the state of balance that is achieved at the interims of Equinox may hold the energies of both in synthesized form.
Physically, we revel in the activities that the longer days have provided light for. We connect to nature and our surroundings fully enlivened by the heat of the sun and the caressing warmth that keeps our physical bodies pliable and pain-free. We know that not long from this midsummer’s point, the days will herald the coming of the Fall and harvest and the chill of winter will interweave through still warm breezes. So, we make full use of this light as we gather and socialize, celebrate and bathe in the healing rays of Father Sun.
The Gift of the Father
The energy of the God has reached the brilliance and radiance of the physical Sun at Noon. This is the time of power and strength, that if gathered in its fullness will carry us forward into the waning year. This is the light that remains ever burning, even in the darkest recesses. Remember, that although we cannot see the Sun’s light when night falls and portions of the Earth rotate away from its light, on the opposite side of the Earth, Dawn has come and the Sun is still shining brightly. And, it is because of this strength and knowledge of the light that is always at the ready that the God willingly sacrifices himself and the life-sustaining energy when the Harvest approaches and the Crone’s call of death are answered. This source of great strength has become the provider of those who serves the lands and his waning light brings to term what is readied for Winter’s long dark nights.
The celebration of the Oak and Holly Kings is one of relinquishing the power held within the Mighty Oak willingly and selflessly so that the cycle of life and death, outward expression, and inner reflection may continue. The Holly King now reigns supreme and the truth of his power lay in the mystery of their being one in the same. Their visage changing in accord with the needs of the land and the cycles of time and season as they attune to the energies of the Solar year.
The Flowering of the Mother
By definition the word ”flowering” means: (1) to reach full growth or maturity; (2) capable of producing conspicuous flowers; and (3) producing flowers at a specified time or of a specified type.
The Goddess takes the form of the pregnant Mother, ripe and just ready to give birth. She is unlike any other Mother, for she is at her most creative and is both filled with new life and continually birthing new life as her power of creation permeates all it touches. The potential held within these birthings is the fullness of all of the experiences that have been gathered from the process of creating, bringing to full term and finally giving birth to what is desired. The Goddess is the vessel of life and light and it is her body (as Gaia) that signals the time of greatest light as the earth reaches its peak of verdant life. She is bathed in her lover’s light and strength and Father Sun turns the spotlight on his progeny so that all may revel in the fecundity and fertility that produced such forms.
If the Light of our own power of creation has received the intention of our Mothering and the strength and support of our Fathering it shines brightly, radiating a magnetic quality of attraction. What we have desired to see in full bloom stands at the ready calling to us to enjoy the beauty, revel in the fragrant victory and claim the glory of fields of flowering intentions. The light we have stoked and fed within now shines through us gifting us as creators and illuminating that which is ready to stand the test of harvesting as we move into the months ahead.
Continuing the Wheel of Light
If you have been following this series of writings, you will no doubt, have recognized the echoes of the previous writings on the Sabbats that are now part of a half of the Wiccan year. The pathworking below is a synthesis of our progression through the Illuminated Wheel with the start of our journey at the time of the Winter Solstice. And, so I invite you on this journey of remembering and the opportunity to reach back into the space of your creative action that seeded what has come to flower in the brilliance of the Sun’s full light.
Reaching Back Into Creation- A Pathworking
Find a comfortable space where you will not be disturbed and settle into a supportive chair or with your back braced as you sit on the floor. Breathe deeply and fully a few times and with each subsequent breath allow yourself to settle more deeply into whatever you are sitting in or on. Close your eyes and gently pull your conscious mind up to the space between your brows and envision an inner screen of your making. You are both observer and participant in the experience and as you breathe more deeply and establish a steady flow of rhythm you see a point of blue light just ahead of you. As you continue to inhale and exhale this point begins to expand and forms a dense yet very refined mist of pale blue flickering light. You breathe into the stretching of this light as though to form a veiling or threshold and see yourself stepping through the mist.
You emerge at the edge of a brilliantly lit field, dense with flowers in full bloom. The blending of fragrant air and wildlife floods your nostrils and is sweet and heady in the ripeness of its offering. The noonday sun beats down enfolding you in its enlivening embrace and all around you are the signs of life that have been quickened by the act of creation and sustained by the life-giving light. You inhale deeply and sigh into the release of an exhalation that signals your readiness to begin the journey of remembering that has brought you to this place of fertility. You breathe deeply and close your eyes allowing all of your senses to awaken and engage.
You breathe deeply and gently open your eyes and find yourself standing in the same field but now its vision is one of the several weeks prior and the beginning of May. Flowers that are not quite in full bloom stretch across a field of freshly painted greenery, the faint scent of their perfume moving on a gentle warm breeze. You feel the heat and energy of the will to creation fill the space of your pelvic bowl (Sacral Chakra) as awareness focuses its intent within this creative vessel that holds the seed of potential for life. You breathe into the spaciousness of this part of your body and feel the warmth and sensation of awakening as you allow the energy of breath to flow through this creative gateway. Intuitively, you move this area of your body rocking gently side to side as you envision the flow of creative potency and vitality. Breathe into this sensation of desire and will as the bowl of your creative intent fills with life force and the memory of what brought you to this space of creation.
These thoughts quicken your breath and your heart beats rapidly in anticipation as you look out over the field of sunlit space seeking your beloved. A stream of electrified energy moves up your spine awakening all of your senses as you feel the heat of your lover’s breath at the back of your neck. You turn to face your beloved and two small suns flash with desire from the depths of eyes that have lovingly gazed upon your face in seasons past. Breath hangs in the air suspended in timelessness as you reach out to your consort. Earth and Sun sigh into the release of consummate union and passion’s light burns with heat and intensity, as each lover’s flame becomes the singular flame that fuels the passion of Beltane’s gift.
The warming afterglow of creative action slowly dissipates and you begin walking towards the edge of the field coming to stand in front of a small iron gate bordered by a low stone wall enclosing a beautifully landscaped garden. Full bushes just budding with green and a tapestry of assorted flowers that are just beginning to sprout from the dark rich soil, spread in front of you like a welcoming carpet. You see that there is a stone path just to your right and curious as to what lay along its course you turn and begin to step forward. Your feet make a gentle tapping sound as each moves from circular stone to circular stone and each footfall seems to release the fragrant scent of thyme that grows between and around each stone. You walk along taking note of the sunlight pouring down warmly and the blending of sounds of birds, insects singing away the last vestiges of winter’s hold. The air is electric in the newly awakening life that flows in his space and you feel this energy as a palpable stream of outpouring that is prickly and persistent against your skin. Just ahead is a small space of opening and an ornately carved iron bench beckons you to sit and rest. You sit and breathe deeply taking in the vibrancy of creative flow and the electrified seeding of creation.
You breathe deeply and gently close your eyes, drifting back into the memory of candles glowing brightly and the quickening promise of Imbolc. On your inner screen, the image of an altar dressed with a bright white square piece of cloth and holding centrally a black pillar placed directly behind a white pillar appears with striking clarity. Both candles are lit and the contrast of black and white remind you of the polarity and balance of the Wheel’s energy and the waxing and waning of Light within the Wheel.
Now shift your awareness and focus towards the white pillar. See it now expanding and becoming clearer and stronger in its light. See this larger flame emanating from your central core. This is the space of your Inner Sun’s energy. This is the internal furnace that creates, destroys and fuels your will and desires. This candle of flame burns brightly and strongly and holds the power of transformation and quickening within its sensuous flames. This is the flame that has been growing to fullness as the months have brought you to the space of the Summer Solstice. Breathe deeply into this imagery and engage as much sensorial experience as possible.
Envision the image of yourself standing in front of the white pillar of flames. Draw in a deep breath of intent and step through the white flames, bringing with you what you have cultivated and brought to the fullest expression of your own Light. You pass through these flames and find yourself now standing within those of the black pillar. Acknowledge this dark light as those aspects of yourself that await the brilliance of light you carry forward and hold the potential of serving as the kindling of your inner fires as you move into the waning of the year. Breathe deeply into this imagery and engage as much sensorial experience as possible. These are the flames that you will nurture and tend as the Sun wanes and the call to inner reflection cries out to you. You breathe deeply into these images and the memory they hold of what has brought you to the fullness of the Wheel of Light.
You breathe deeply feeling the experience of these candles of light and dark and as you exhale you open your eyes, now surrounded by the fading of light and night’s veiling. You rise from the bench and the warmth is now replaced by the biting chill of a winter’s eve. You shiver in the memory of this night and the return to the space of beginning. You remember the anticipation you felt as the Waxing of the Great Wheel took hold and the gift of the Winter Solstice ignited the Light within. You stood fearlessly and with hope as you faced the impending darkness of the Longest Night; thick and almost opaque in its veiling. As the memories of this time of the first spark of newly created light fill you the realization of what you imagined on that night and what has come to bring tears of joy and gratitude. You acknowledge the gift of having turned the focus of that seed of light outwards as the Sun gained in strength in the sky above and you made a commitment to attune to that same solar cycle within. You think on all that was birthed from this singular and profound point on the Great Wheel; the promises offered and the manifestation of each in turn as you moved forward. Standing in a place of strength, light, and clarity and you step willingly into the turning of the Waning Wheel of the Year knowing that these flames will always light the way.
You breathe into these thoughts, feeling the flame of your inner sun expanding. You breathe deeply as you leave the memories of your journey behind and return to the present time of the Summer Solstice. You breathe deeply as you move back into the space of your physical being and the surroundings in which you began this journey. You breathe deeply offering up thanks for the lessons of the Wheel and when you are ready gently flutter your eyes open and return to the here and now.