After Beltane comes Midsummer, which some also call Litha, mid to late June. I call it “probably already too hot to go outside.” I’m not exactly a summertime person to begin with and I live in Virginia, in the middle of a swamp. So the rest of you can enjoy Midsummer. I’m going to be spending it indoors where the air conditioning is.
Midsummer is the summer solstice, the middle of the growing season, the highest point of high summer. It’s a time to celebrate the hard work we’ve done, take a bit of ease while the weather is pleasant, and have a good romp before we have to start bringing in the harvests in August. If you work with solar magic or the Fair Folk, this is your holiday. Both of these themes run deep and strong through Midsummer, along with the urge to get outside and revel in the beauty of nature at peak flourish.
So enjoy Midsummer first and foremost by getting outside…if you can. If it’s too damn hot, yanno, be realistic. But at least make an effort if you enjoy the hotter weather and it’s not dangerous to be out. Go to your favorite park, maybe go to the beach, go hiking, go to a pick-your-own fruit farm, have a picnic, attend a fair or a carnival, do some stargazing. All this assumes a lot about public safety since we’re still living in the COVID era, so use your good judgement. If it’s not safe to be around crowds, try to focus on solo activities or things you can do in the safety of your home or your backyard.
This is another good time for herb-picking. If you have a garden, your plants should be producing by this point, and you can start pruning your plants and drying those trimmings for use in your craft. This is actually my favorite part of the summer. I love putting up those bundles of plants and flowers to dry, I love the look of them in my home, and I love the satisfaction of putting the dried material into jars for storage. And hey, if you’re not growing anything, you can still enjoy this by picking up fresh herbs from the supermarket or the local garden store and drying them.
You can also go herb gathering like I mentioned for Beltane, since different plants will be in season. Again, always observe permission and best practices if you’re going to do this. And always make sure you label your bundles and your jars for easy identification.
On a practical note, if you’re going to be doing things outside for Midsummer, always make sure you wear sunscreen and adequate clothing to avoid too much UV exposure, including a face covering. Remember to hydrate properly throughout the day, be careful with your alcohol intake, and if you start to feel tired or woozy, or if you stop sweating, get out of the sun IMMEDIATELY. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are no joke, witches. Take care of yourselves out there.
And speaking of herbs and ways of keeping cool, one of the things I really enjoy doing in the summertime is making magical iced teas. I know some of my overseas listeners might be blinking in confusion right about now, so if you’ve never heard of this, let me enlighten you. In the US, particularly in the South, we’re very fond of iced tea. Now, that doesn’t mean cold tea, it’s tea that’s been sweetened and chilled, and it’s usually served over ice with lemon or mint leaves, depending on the recipe. This is a fun and easy herbal potion that anyone can make. You just need a pitcher of hot water, some herbal tea bags, some sugar or honey, and whatever flavorings you want to add.
Using several teabags or a big pouch of looseleaf tea, mix up a batch of tea that’s a little stronger than you’d usually make for a hot cuppa. Stir in sugar or honey until it’s as sweet as you like it – we usually go a step or two sweeter than you’d think. Then add whatever flavorings you like. And you can use just about anything for this. I’m partial to a nice blend of chamomile and peppermint with a good dollop of honey, or white tea with jasmine, or spearmint and elderflower, or hibiscus and raspberry. Lavender and lemon is another popular recipe, if you can get your hands on culinary lavender. (And yes, there IS a difference between lavender grown for the kitchen and lavender grown for aromatherapy purposes, so shop carefully.) Feel free to make drinks that correspond to magical purposes, too. Health, wealth, happiness, whatever you like. Sweet iced potions? Yes please!
This can be stretched to alcoholic drinks too, if you’re partial. I mean, what are we even doing with our craft if we’re not stirring spells into sangria or joining the midnight margarita club, right? My husband makes a delightful little cocktail he calls a Gardener’s Tonic – basically a gin and tonic with muddled sweet basil and lime juice and a slice of cucumber. Just make sure that when you’re enjoying your alcoholic alchemy, you’re doing so responsibly.
So once you’ve got your drink of choice and you’ve had a chance to relax, look to your homestead. Tend that garden, like I mentioned before. Attend to any pest problems you might be having, or any home repairs that might need doing. Try not to put things off. Once autumn arrives, you may find that you’re too busy. Reorganize your witchy supplies. If you’ve got new material or new tools coming in, try to declutter and get rid of anything that’s gone stale or sour, or anything that’s used up. Check your jars for signs of mold and give your accoutrements a good cleaning.
If you feel that kitchen witch itch, there’s a cream for that….it’s in the fridge next to the milk. (I apologize for NOTHING.) You can check on the beverages you started back around Beltane, or start a batch if you didn’t do one in the spring. You can start a sourdough, since that seems to be all the rage right now, or make preserves and jams with those early fruits and berries. Make food or homemade sweet with local produce and local honey. Oh and bless the bees and the pollinators while you’re at it! Bless their little hearts, they bring so much sweetness to the world, they deserve thanks for their hard work.
Midsummer is a big holiday for picnics, so if you can have one, definitely do it, even if it’s just on your back porch. If you happen to have a fenced yard and a tent to work with, maybe try an overnight campout just for fun. My dad used to do this all the time when my brother and I were kids. We’d set up a tent in the backyard, he’d drag out a TV and VCR on extension cords, and we’d stay up half the night watching movies and eating junk food. Hey, we were suburban kids, my dad’s idea of “roughing it” was having no remote for the TV. It was super fun, and if you can manage something like this, I definitely recommend it to witches with little ones. Lot of good memories there, if they’re inclined to such things.
Of course, summer isn’t all clear skies and sunshine. Sometimes it rains. But heck, that can be just as much fun. Apart from the obvious option of gathering the rainwater for magical purposes, have you ever gone out in the rain on purpose? When it’s warm out and the rain is coming down in nice fat drops and you’re wearing stuff that can stand a little soaking, few things are more fun than running around and getting absolutely drenched. I’ve got a few fond memories of walking in the woods during rainstorms with my bestie from middle school. There’s a saying that goes, “Life isn’t about avoiding the storms, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” If there’s not a danger of lightning, I definitely recommend giving it a try. It’s really kind of exhilarating.
Midsummer is the longest day of the year. It’s the day when we see the most light, the earliest sunrise, the latest sunset. Meditate on how you can bring more light and positivity into your life, and how you can have a positive impact on the lives of others, on your community, and the world in general. Think about your productivity, your projects, your path to personal growth. How are things going? Is there anything that feels stuck that needs to be addressed? Where can you modify your outlook to something more optimistic, and where do you maybe need to take off the rose-colored glasses and be more of a realist? All things to contemplate while you’re sipping that magical iced tea potion.
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