“What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfilment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.”
We all know there is something special about the month of June. It is the halfway point of the year when winter’s reign is long over and ahead of us lie many long days and balmy nights. Flowers and festivals fill the future with promise. Holidays and happy outings can be planned and harvest time seems a long way off. Summer will surely last forever.
June is steeped in magic and folklore and the most magical time of all is the Solstice, the still point of the Sun, when the year rests for a moment before beginning a new journey into joy and abundance.
During the solstices, the Earth's axis tilts so that we are at our closest or furthest point from the sun. At the summer solstice the hemisphere tilted most towards the sun will enjoy its longest day of the year and its shortest night. The sun is at its highest point in the sky, at its most powerful, and this is the true start of summer. We step through a gateway into a new beginning.
In the spring we began to rouse from our winter introspection and with the summer solstice we become fully awake as the hemisphere we live on is bathed in the full power of the sun’s fiery energy. It is a time to move, explore and turn our attention outwards, a time to be creative and let our imaginations have free rein. Now, with the crops maturing and the woods and forests at their most fertile, it is a time to drink the sun’s warmth deep into our bones, to appreciate the beauty of the natural world and to give thanks for the fact that we are a part of it. Put simply, it is a time to celebrate being alive on a beautiful planet.
Though it’s usually celebrated on June 21st, the exact moment of the Summer Solstice varies from year to year. This is due to the fact that the Gregorian calendar is not quite in synch with the actual rate of the Earth’s rotation around the Sun. Known as Midsummer’s Eve, St. John’s Day, St. John’s Eve, Gathering Day, Alban Hefin, the Summer Solstice, and Feill-Sheathain, in the Wiccan calendar it is the sabbat known as Litha.
Midsummer is the period of time in the middle of the summer that roughly coincides with the solstice. As the Wheel of the Year turns at the coming of the solstice, so new portals may open onto other realities. When Shakespeare wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream he drew from the long tradition of magic, romance and fantasy that was associated with this point in the annual cycle. It has always been a time for lovers and dancing and fun. Many other authors have recognised the special nature of June and no-one was more attuned to the possibility that magical creatures existed and thrived at this time of year than JRR Tolkein who wrote, “Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars, not if you care for such things.”
June’s long days and warm nights make us physically more active but our minds are more creative too. Writers, especially, need to take advantage of the energetic vibrations of this magical month and let their imaginations soar because, in the words of England’s most famous Bard, “… summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”