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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Witch Watch: Lay aside summer's work for Midsummer festival

Redford Observer, June 19, 1975 (enlarge)
I, just as most people who have heard of Shakepeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, know nothing of the actual day which commemorates the midsummer. Gundella tells us that it was traditionally on June 24th, as she and her coven celebrated it, but most recognize June 21st as the official date due to it being the longest day of the year.

Pagans celebrated it as the half way point of the growing season. Great fires were burned and the townspeople, hands clasped, would leap over the reaching flames in hopes that the crops would follow suit. The higher the flame the greater the yield of food.

Early Christian attempts to convert the pagans included usurping their holidays and marking births of saints and even Jesus himself, I think! For Midsummer's Day the Christians chose to honor St. John the Baptist, thus allowing the traditions to pass into righteousness along with the souls of the newly anointed. Thus were born the Johnmas fires.

According to Gundella, though celebrated by the ancients, it is a minor sabbat in the world of modern witchcraft.

As a child Gundella celebrated with her family. Each person would break a hen's egg and the splatter would be read like tea leaves to see one's future. Young girls slept with yarrow under their pillows to secure dreams of their future mates. Gathered fernseed would aid men in becoming invisible if used properly.

Finally, the children were allowed to stay up late so that they could see fairies dance at midnight. Having been induced by many tales of magic fairies and elves the flickering of lightning bugs almost made them seem real.

What a brilliant article!

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