Warning: This article contains some things not suitable for children.
Today was a holiday for Pagans, Witches, Illumanists and Freemasons around the world. A very important day. It is my opinion that we need to educate ourselves about these things. WHY? Because they are returning in full force. As more and more people get caught up in Neo Paganism, we will see more and more of what life was like before CHRIST. It AIN’T GONNA BE PRETTY. We cannot battle an enemy about whom we know NOTHING. I am not talking about fighting with human beings. I am talking about SPIRITUAL WAR. Whether you know it or not YOU ARE IN IT and YOU ARE THE ENEMY! If you know GOD. Better have your armor on and be prayed up!
We will be celebrating the Feast of the Summer Solstice in the Stone Circle here at the White Mountain Druid Sanctuary at Trout Lake Abbey on Saturday, June 22, 2019 beginning with our potluck at 6:30 pm with the ritual beginning at 8pm. Sunset isn’t until 9pm so this will let us burn the Wicker Man in twilight. Source
“The wicker man ritual was described by Julius Caesar in Book Six of The Gallic War, in which he describes the customs of the Celts of Gaul. He writes: “The whole Gallic race is addicted to religious ritual; consequently those suffering from serious maladies or subject to the perils of battle sacrifice human victims. … Some weave huge figures of wicker and fill their limbs with humans, who are then burned to death when the figures are set afire. They suppose that the gods prefer this execution to be applied to thieves, robbers, and other malefactors taken in the act, but in default of such they resort to the execution of the innocent.”
Located at Trout Lake Abbey in Trout Lake, WA, the Sanctuary hosts Druid festivals and celebrates the Neopagan High Holidays. ADF Druidry is a re-imagining of the ancient practices of the pre-Christian Indo-Europeans. The Sanctuary honors all the cultures of the ancient Indo-Europeans, but specializes in those of ancient Celtia (Ireland, Wales, and ancient Gaul). In Celtic practice, the ancient Druids were priests, scholars, astronomers, diviners, magic-workers, lawyers, and advisors to kings and rulers.
By Br. Gregory Stewart
Los Angeles, California, USA
” A Traveler in Freemasonry”
Their proximity and use in our rituals have been questioned for many years as to their use and placement. Looked at together, Saint John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist serve to represent the balance in Masonry between zeal for the fraternity and learned equilibrium. The Saints John, stand in perfect parallel harmony representing that balance. (Pagan teaching of Dualism/YinYang)
From a historical approach, The Saint John’s festival is said to be a widely celebrated Masonic holiday.
Traditionally June 24th (or the summer Solstice) is taken to be John the Baptist’s day, which is celebrated in many cultures around the world. According to McCoy’s Masonic Dictionary, the Festival of St. John in summer is a duty of every Mason to participate in, and should serve to be a renewal and strengthening of fraternal ties and a celebration of Masonry from “olden-times”. It functions as a connection between the past and the future.
The festival, to non-Masons, has been called the “Setting of the Watch”, where ceremonial bonfires were lit after sunset. Tradition says that men, women, and children would jump through the fires for luck. (passing through the fire)And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.
Across Europe, this holiday is celebrated in many ways. With oak wreath crowns, wild flowers and birch branches. Families would feast and celebrate in union. The meanings of these ancient traditions are lost today on our society, but the link was made at some point to John the Baptist. The On-line Catholic Encyclopedia points to the birth of John the Baptist as 6 months before Christ, placing him on the summer solstice. It is thought that these festivals have been linked in character and content with the birth of John the Baptist.
From the Masonic perspective we are given the balanced dualism of John the Baptist on one side and John the Evangelist on the other. Represented together this way represent the balance of passionate zeal with and learned knowledge of faith forming a space to reflect on to and channel our passion as well as our education/knowledge. Individually strong, together they stand as a harnessed focus of zeal and knowledge. This counterpoint is not just necessary to Freemasonry but can be applied to all areas of life. Taken as an abstract compilation of symbols, together they represent a well-balanced path towards enlightenment. (The illumined Ones, The light of Lucifer, who is their god.)
The two dualistic figures as one, the Holy Saints John, balance each other in the Masonic year, but also in other areas too. One unique aspect that I found is in the application of the Alchemical symbols of fire and water. Alchemy (Magick) has long been thought of as an early component of Freemasonry and using the alchemical symbols here may help the representations of the Saint John’s look more familiar. Saint John the Baptist, represented as the inverted pyramid, the Alchemical sign for water, representing the spiritual and emotional love. St. John the Evangelist, represented as the pyramid pointing up symbolizing fire that is the drive and will of action. When placed together, they symbolize the perfect balance of darkness and light, life and death, passion and constraint, will and emotion, winter and summer. Together both represent the interlocked star of Solomon, or the Square and Compass. This is an entirely open analysis, and made for the purposes of comparison, but it does offer a unique analysis of the juxtaposition of the Holy Saints John.
In looking toward the future, St. John the Baptist Day is an appropriate celebratory day for Freemasons, as it is a good day to come together and reflect in our past and in our future. It stands to remind us, not just of our past, but also of a re-commitment of our circumscribed passions. In all of our time they’re as a fraternity, union celebrations such as this one help us to reaffirm our ties that bind. Whether those ties be the bindings of fraternity or the familiarity of institution, we should remember the Holy Saints John’s, not just in our sacred Jerusalem’s but together in brotherhood.
Sunday, June 24, 2018
In our American Masonic ritual variations, one of the least understood symbols is this point within a circle, bounded by two parallel lines, with the volume of sacred law at the top. Like everything else within our symbolism, if you poke around into history and the origins of why we do what we do as Masons, much can be discovered in the tiniest of things.
Today, June 24th, Freemasons celebrate the Feast of St. John the Baptist. A curious thing for a purportedly non-sectarian group to do. Freemasonry historically acknowledges St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist as its patron saints, reveres their memory, points to their exemplary lives in its ritualistic work, and dedicates its lodges to them.
In 1740, Chevalier Andrew Michael Ramsey, a Scottish expatriate living in France and Orator of the Grand Lodge of France, first suggested what morphed into the Templar theory of the formation of Freemasons.
“During the time of the holy wars in Palestine (the TEMPLARS), several principal lords and citizens associated themselves together, and entered into a vow to re-establish the temples of the Christians in the Holy Land; and engaged themselves by an oath to employ their talents and their fortune in restoring architecture to its primitive institution. (The Freemasons/The BUILDERS. It’s primitive institution…the Tower of Babel.)
Note that the Tower of Babel was constructed of bricks. Bricks have four characteristics. First, they are unnatural and artificial. You won’t find a brick occurring in nature. Second, they are identical and uniform. It’s not easy to distinguish one brick from another. Third, they are functionally undifferentiated and interchangeable. A brick can serve equally well anywhere in a wall. Fourth, they are all but worthless. So what if you lose a brick. There are hundreds more just like it.
What could be more unnatural and artificial than a society that rejects God? In such a state, citizens will be made to conform to uniform standards and will lose their individuality. Their work will be reduced to interchangeable roles. And, because they have lost all uniqueness, they will become utterly worthless.
Now, listen to what Saint Paul has to say in his Second Letter to the Corinthians:
If then any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the former things have passed away; behold, they are made new! [2 Corinthians 5:17]
In opposition to the Tower of Babel, we have a new creation. This is how Saint Peter describes this new creation:
Draw near to him [viz. Christ], a living stone, rejected indeed by men but chosen and honored by God. Be you yourselves as living stones, built thereon into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. [1 Peter 2:4-5]
There you have it. Bravely standing against secular society, the Tower of Babel, built of bricks, we have a new creation, the Church, a temple built of living stones.
Living stones have four characteristics. First, living stones are not just natural, but supernatural. Second, they are utterly unique. No two are exactly alike. Third, they are irreplaceable. A stone that occupies a particular place in a wall can fit nowhere else. Fourth, they are extremely precious.
What could be more supernatural than a society in which Christ dwells? In the eyes of Jesus, every human being is utterly unique and unrepeatable. What two human beings are exactly alike? In the Church, every person is irreplaceable, because each one of us has a mission no one else can fulfill. Finally, in the heart of Christ, every human being is precious, because every one of us is made in the image and likeness of God. Each one of us, therefore, has infinite value.
The question is this: Which would I rather be—a brick in secular society or a living stone in the temple of the Church? In the former edifice, we lose our identity. In the latter, we become who we are meant to be. C.S. Lewis puts it this way. In his book The Screwtape Letters, he writes of God’s plan for His human creatures:
[He] sets an absurd value on the distinctness of every one of them. When He talks of their losing their selves, He means only abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts…that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever. [Letter XIII]
Only in a secular society—where men and women, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, are interchangeable—only in such a society can “same-sex marriage” and Facebook’s fifty-eight genders be even remotely considered as possibilities. In the Church, however, where men and women, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, are irreplaceable, marriage as anything other than one man and one woman for life is, to use a word from the movie The Princess Bride, “inconceivable.”
Unnatural bricks versus supernatural stones. Secular society versus the Kingdom of God. Interchangeable cogs versus irreplaceable persons. Now there’s something to ponder! Bricks vs. stones. I’m not talking about building a house. I’m talking about building a future. Source
They adopted several ancient signs and symbolic words drawn from religion by which they might distinguish themselves from the infidels (and who is it that employes that term? Infidels…a uniquely muslim term of slander for all who do not accept their beliefs.) and recognize each other in the midst of the Saracens. They communicated these signs and words only to those who had solemnly sworn (made an oath), often at the foot of the altar, never to reveal them. This was not an oath of execration but a bond uniting men of all nations into the same confraternity. Some time after our order was united with the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. Hence our lodges are, in all Christian countries, called Lodges of St. John.“
“I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” Matthew 5:34-37
Ramsey largely invented his tale out of whole cloth, and there is nothing to suggest that his account was anything more than a fairy tale.
What is called the Old York Lecture from about 1770 in England contains the following as part of its EA catechism:
“Q. To whom were the lodges dedicated during the Mosaic dispensation?“__”
A. To Moses, the chosen of God, and Solomon, the son of David.”__
“Q. And under what name were the Masons known during that period?”__
“A. Under the name of Dionysiacs, Geometricians, or Masters in Israel.“__
“Q. But as Solomon was a Jew, and died long before the promulgation of Christianity, to whom were they dedicated under the Christian dispensation?”__
“A. From Solomon the patronage of Masonry passed to St. John the Baptist.”__
“Q. And under what name were they known after the promulgation of Christianity?“__
“A. Under the name of Essenes, Architects, or Freemasons.”__
“Q. Why were the lodges dedicated to St. John the Baptist?”__
“A. Because he was the forerunner of our Saviour, and by preaching repentance and humiliation, drew the first parallel of the Gospel.“__
“Q. Had St. John the Baptist any equal?“__
“A. He had; St. John the Evangelist.“__
“Q. Why was he said to be the equal of the Baptist?”__
“A. Because he finished by his learning what the other began by his zeal, and thus drew a second line parallel to the former; ever since which time Freemason’s lodges in all Christian countries, have been dedicated to the one, or the other, or both of these worthy and worshipful men.”
William Preston’s Lectures, which is what our own degree ritual lectures are based upon (by way of Thomas Smith Webb in the U.S.), were the standard in the premiere Grand Lodge of England until the reconciliation between the “Ancient” and “Modern” factions in 1813, when a compromise was developed. References to the Saints were removed, the parallel lines were said to represent Moses and Solomon, and the lodges dedicated “to God and his service.”(God, being Lucifer to Masons.)Our English brethren removed the saints to eliminate any hint of religious sectarianism, but in so doing lost a vital aspect of Masonic symbolism and teaching in the process.
The symbol itself is actually based on an ancient astrological and later alchemical symbol known by many today as a circumpunct(a term popularized in Dan Brown’s Masonic-influenced novel The Lost Symbol). The point in the center (image at above) originally represented the Earth in some societies, which was thought to be the center of the Universe. The Heavens were believed to spin around the Earth, represented by the circle. Over time, the heliocentric theory of the Universe prevailed, and the circumpunct symbol settled into actually being representative of the Sun (Sol).
As alchemy became established in the Renaissance, that science developed its own associative symbolism to depict elements. Seven particular metals were denoted to be essential planetary elements, principal among them being gold, which was thought to be the most perfect metal. Gold was associated with the Sun for its luminescence and color, and for its perfection. So its alchemical symbol also became that same point within a circle.
As alchemy developed and became more intertwined with Qabalistic philosophies, some of its proponents like the revolutionary 16th century scientist Paracelsus suggested that celestial bodies affected different parts of the body, and associated the heart with the Sun. So, this is probably the evolution of how Freemasonry first adopted this symbol of the Sun and gold to represent the human soul or conscience that strives for perfection, and its relation to both Mankind and to the universe that revolves around us in our own little personal orbits.
(Also related to Masonic symbolism from our opening ritual is the metal silver, which was associated with the Moon, or Luna, and represented by a crescent.The silver Moon’s Qabalistic association was to the brain, which was associated with older theories of the effects of the Moon’s phases on the mind,and our eventual use of the related word “lunacy.” So, when we open lodge, note the balance between the Sun or heart, the Moon or brain, and the pivotal role of the Master of the Lodge in the center, governing them both “with equal regularity.” This is why in Continental Masonic lodges, the Master’s chair is frequently seen flanked by images of the Sun and Moon on the wall.)
The two parallel lines were eventually added to the astrological version of the Sun symbol, and represented the summer and winter solstices, the longest and shortest days of the year. For thousands of years, these two days six months apart were celebrated as pagan feast days all over the world, and they were especially important to farming societies, because they were the astronomical methods of calculating planting seasons.
In about 300 A.D., the early Catholic Church began to dedicate popular pagan feast days to the saints. June 24th, the longest day of the year, was declared St. John the Baptist day, while December 27th, the shortest day, was dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. Collectively, Masons refer to them as the Holy Saints John.
Operative Freemasonry was first developed when Roman Catholicism was the prevailing religion throughout the Western world, and these feast days continued under the Church of England. It was common for guilds and other trade groups to adopt one or more patron saints. Some operative masons picked both Saints John, and over the centuries speculative Freemasons commonly celebrate these feast days with banquets. And curiously, even though Freemasonry today is non-denominational and non-sectarian, American Masons have retained these customs of old. Most rituals in America say that Masons come “from a lodge of the Holy Saints John of Jerusalem,”while in other parts of the world, lodges are dedicated to King Solomon (the King who turned Pagan, though God gave him great wisdom, his wisdom led him down the wrong path).
“Solomon failed to heed God’s warning and through lust, greed for trade, and fascination with things foreign and pagan he turned away from the Lord and began to allow pagan worship and pagan altars to be built in Israel and even built them himself. (1 Kings 11). Of all his sins this was clearly the most egregious and the author of 1 Kings indicates it is the main reason God turned his favor from Israel:” Source
Consider that John the Baptist was zealous, while John the Evangelist was learned, and by picking both of them as patron saints, Masons symbolically united — and juxtaposed — both passion and reason, keeping them both in balance at all times, again “with equal regularity.” (Dualism, both evil and good in one person but balanced by man’s wisdom and self-control.)
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2Corinthians 6:14-18
The symbol also depicts the Holy Bible or Volume of Sacred Law(Masons do not serve the God of the BIBLE, they serve Lucifer, they don’t care what book you put on the altar.) at the top of the circle. In Masonry, the point represents the individual, and the circle is the boundary of his actions. Taken as a whole, this combined symbol embodies the lesson that a Mason should consult the sacred texts or teachings of his own faithto achieve the proper balance between passion and intensity on one side, and knowledge and education on the other. In other words, he should balance education, excitement and faith to effectively subdue his passions.
Taken as a whole, it is a graphic representation of the conscience, the soul, and the struggle to achieve perfect emotional balance and mental perfection. In other words, to “Know Thyself.”
More information about the Feast of St. John the Baptist from the indispensable Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs by Fr. Francis X. Weiser, SJ:
This saint was highly honored throughout the whole Church from the beginning. Proof of this is, among other things, the fact that fifteen churches were dedicated to him in the ancient imperial city of Constantinople. Being the precursor of our Lord, he was accorded the same honor as the first great saints of the Christian era, although he belonged to the Old Covenant. The fact that Christ praised him so highly (Matthew 11, 11) encouraged, of course, a special veneration (this is a ROMAN custom of making heros/gods and woshiping them). Accordingly, we find a regular cycle of feasts in his honor among the early ROMAN Christian churches.
The question arises of why June 24, and not 25. It has often been claimed that the Church authorities wanted to “Christianize” the pagan solstice celebrations and for this reason advanced Saint John’s feast as a substitute for the former pagan festival.(that is EXACTLY what they did with EVERY PAGAN FEAST and/or divinity in EVERY Pagan land the Romans conquered. No matter how much the masons protest to the contrary. This is a fact.)However, the real reason why Saint John’s Day falls on June 24 lies in the Roman way of counting, which proceeded backward from the calends (first day) of the succeeding month. Christmas was “the eighth day before the Kalends of January” (Octavo Kalendas Januarii). Consequently, Saint John’s nativity was put on the “eighth day before the Kalends of July.” However, since June has only thirty days, in our way of counting the feast falls on June 24.
(John)The Baptist is patron of tailors(because he made his own garments in the desert), of shepherds (because he spoke of the “Lamb of God”), and of masons. This patronage over masons is traced to his words:
‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make straight all his paths. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, And the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways smooth.’ (Luke 3, 4-6.)
All over Europe, from Scandinavia to Spain, and from Ireland to Russia, Saint John’s Day festivities are closely associated with the ancient nature lore of the great summer festival of pre-Christian times. Fires are lighted on mountains and hilltops on the eve of his feast. These “Saint John’s fires” burn brightly and quietly along the fiords of Norway, on the peaks of the Alps, on the slopes of the Pyrenees, and on the mountains of Spain (where they are called Hogueras). They were an ancient symbol of the warmth and light of the sun which the forefathers greeted at the beginning of summer. In many places, great celebrations are held with dances, games, and outdoor meals.
Fishermen from Brittany keep this custom even while far out at sea in the Arctic Ocean. They hoist a barrel filled with castoff clothing to the tip of the mainsail yard and set the contents on fire. All ships of the fishing fleet light up at the same time, about eight o’clock in the evening. The men gather around the mast, pray and sing. Afterward they celebrate in their quarters, and the captain gives each crew member double pay.
Another custom is that of lighting many small fires in the valleys and plains. People gather around, jump through the flames, and sing traditional songs in praise of the saint or of summer. This custom is based on the pre-Christian “need fires” (niedfyr, nodfyr) which were believed to cleanse, cure, and immunize people from all kinds of disease, curses, and dangers. In Spain these smaller fires (fogatas) are lighted in the streets of towns and cities, everybody contributing some old furniture or other wood, while children jump over the flames.
“thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire” Leviticus 18:21
In Brest, France, the bonfires are replaced by lighted torches which people throw in the air. In other districts of France they cover wagon wheels with straw, then set them on fire with a blessed candle and roll them down the hill slopes.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Saint John’s Day
Also called Feast of Saint John the Baptist, Summer Solstice, St. John’s Feast Day, Jāņi, Enyovden, Liða / Litha, Midsommar, Ivan Kupala Day, Juhannus, Mittumaari, Alban Hefin, Gŵyl Ganol yr Haf, Sankthans, Joninės, Jaanipäev, Keskikesä Observed by Type Cultural and Roman Catholic/Freemason/Pagan/Wiccan Significance Marks the ancient middle of summer, beginning of Astronomical summer, and the nativity of St. John the Baptist. Celebrations Festivals, bonfires, feasting, fire jumping, singing, Maypole dancing Observances Church service, reenactments of the life of Saint John the Baptist, processions, baptisms, and church weddings Date June 21, 24, 25 or a date close to the Summer Solstice on June 20–25 Related to Nativity of St. John the Baptist, Saint John’s Eve, Summer Solstice, Quarter days, Adonia, Sun Worship
Midsummer is the period of time centered upon the summer solstice, and more specifically the northern European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice or take place on a day between June 19 and June 25 and the preceding evening. The exact dates vary among different cultures. The celebration predates Christianity, and existed under different names and traditions around the world. 
The undivided Roman Christian Church designated June 24 as the feast day of the early Christian martyr St John the Baptist, and the observance of St John’s Day begins the evening before, known as St John’s Eve. These are commemorated by many Christian denominations, such as the Roman Catholic Church, Lutheran Churches, and Anglican Communion, as well as by freemasonry. In Sweden, the Midsummer is such an important festivity that there have been proposals to make the Midsummer’s Eve into the National Day of Sweden, instead of June 6. In Latvia, Midsummer’s Jāņi festival is a public holiday. In Denmark and Norway, it may also be referred to as St. Hans Day.
Photo: Anna Hållams/imagebank.sweden.se
Those flower garlands aren’t just for show
According to pagan folklore, evil spirits would appear on the summer solstice. To ward them off, people would wear protective garlands of herbs and flowers. One of the most powerful of these plants was known as “chase devil,” today referred to as St. John’s Wort. Source: Reader’s Digest
The start of summer holidays
Swedes are fairly well attuned to the rhythms of nature. At Midsummer, many begin their five-week annual holidays and everyone is in a hurry to get things done during the relatively short summer season. Midsummer Eve is usually celebrated in the countryside, which means that on the day before, everyone leaves town, everything closes and the city streets are suddenly spookily deserted.
The country’s main thoroughfares, on the other hand, are normally packed. Queues of cars stretch away into the distance, and at the end of the road, family and friends wait among silver birches in full, shimmering bloom.
The 2020 celebrations will most likely look quite different, as large social gatherings should currently be avoided, according to the recommendations of the authorities.
Maypoles and dancing
Midsummer is normally an occasion of large gatherings − and to be honest, many Swedes take advantage of it to fulfil their social obligations so that they can enjoy the rest of their holiday in peace. In many cases, whole families gather to celebrate this traditional high-point of the summer.
The maypole is raised in an open spot and traditional ring-dances ensue, to the delight of the children and some of the adults. Teenagers tend to stay out of it and wait for the evening’s more riotous entertainment.
When is it?
Swedes like the world to be well-ordered, so Midsummer Eve is always a Friday between 19 and 25 June. People often begin the day by picking flowers and making wreaths to place on the maypole, which is a key component in the celebrations.
An Ancient Solar Celebration
Nearly every agricultural society has marked the high point of summer in some way, shape or form. On this date–usually around June 21 or 22 (or December 21/22 in the southern hemisphere)–the sun reaches its zenith in the sky. It is the longest day of the year, and the point at which the sun seems to just hang there without moving – in fact, the word “solstice” is from the Latin word solstitium, which literally translates to “sun stands still.” The travels of the sun were marked and recorded. Stone circles such as Stonehenge were oriented to highlight the rising of the sun on the day of the summer solstice.
Traveling the Heavens
Although few primary sources are available detailing the practices of the ancient Celts, some information can be found in the chronicles kept by early Christian monks. Some of these writings, combined with surviving folklore, indicate that Midsummer was celebrated with hilltop bonfires and that it was a time to honor the space between earth and the heavens.
Angela at A Silver Voice says that midsummer, or St. John’s Eve, was often celebrated in Ireland with the lighting of huge bonfire. She points out that this is an ancient custom rooted in a Celtic tradition of lighting fires in honor of Áine, the Queen of Munster,
Festivals in her honour took place in the village of Knockainey, County Limerick (Cnoc Aine = Hill of Aine ). Áine was the Celtic equivalent of Aphrodite and Venus and as is often the case, the festival was ‘christianised’ and continued to be celebrated down the ages. It was the custom for the cinders from the fires to be thrown on fields as an ‘offering’ to protect the crops.
Fire and Water
In addition to the polarity between land and sky, Litha is a time to find a balance between fire and water. According to Ceisiwr Serith, in his book The Pagan Family, European traditions celebrated this time of year by setting large wheels on fire and then rolling them down a hill into a body of water. He suggests that this may be because this is when the sun is at its strongest yet also the day at which it begins to weaken. Another possibility is that the water mitigates the heat of the sun, and subordinating the sun wheel to water may prevent drought.
Christians have chronicled the rolling of flaming (solar) wheels since the Fourth Century of the Common Era. By the 1400’s the custom was specifically associated with the Summer Solstice, and there it has resided ever since (and most likely long before)… The custom was apparently common throughout Northern Europe and was practiced in many places until the beginning of the Twentieth Century.
The Romans, who had a festival for anything and everything, celebrated this time as sacred to Juno, the wife of Jupiter and goddess of women and childbirth. She is also called Juno Luna and blesses women with the privilege of menstruation. The month of June was named for her, and because Juno was the patroness of marriage, her month remains an ever-popular time for weddings. This time of year was also sacred to Vesta, goddess of the hearth. The matrons of Rome entered her temple on Midsummer and made offerings of salted meal for eight days, in hopes that she would confer her blessings upon their homes.
Midsummer for Modern Pagans
LLOYD-HORGAN/ISTOCK VIA GETTY
The summer solstice is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, so soak up some of those direct sunbeams (safely, of course) and celebrate the start of summer with these 15 facts.
1. IN 2020, THE SUMMER SOLSTICE FALLS ON JUNE 20.
The summer solstice always occurs between June 20 and June 22, but because the calendar doesn’t exactly reflect the Earth’s rotation, the precise time shifts slightly each year. For 2020, the Sun will reach its greatest height in the sky for the Northern Hemisphere on June 20 at 5:44 p.m. EST.
2. ON THE SUMMER SOLSTICE, THE SUN WILL BE DIRECTLY OVERHEAD AT THE TROPIC OF CANCER.
While the entire Northern Hemisphere will see its longest day of the year on the summer solstice, the Sun is only directly overhead at the Tropic of Cancer (23 degrees 27 minutes north latitude).
3. THE NAME COMES FROM THE FACT THAT THE SUN APPEARS TO STAND STILL.
The term solstice is derived from the Latin words sol (Sun) and sistere (to stand still), because the Sun’s relative position in the sky at noon does not appear to change much during the solstice and its surrounding days. The rest of the year, the Earth’s tilt on its axis—roughly 23.5 degrees—causes the Sun’s path in the sky to rise and fall from one day to the next.
4. ONE OF THE WORLD’S BIGGEST BONFIRES WAS PART OF A SUMMER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION.
VILLESEP/ISTOCK VIA GETTY
Cultures around the world have held celebrations in conjunction with the solstice for hundreds of years. Among these is Midsummer, which is celebrated on June 24 in Scandinavia and other northern European countries. In 2016, the people of Ålesund, Norway, set a world record for the tallest bonfire with their 155.5-foot celebratory blaze (their record was broken in 2019 by Austrian Carnival festivities).
5. THE HOT WEATHER FOLLOWS THE SUN BY A FEW WEEKS.
You may wonder why, if the solstice is the longest day of the year—and thus gets the most sunlight—the temperature usually doesn’t reach its annual peak until a month or two later. It’s because water, which makes up most of the Earth’s surface, has a high specific heat, meaning it takes a while to both heat up and cool down. Because of this, the Earth’s temperature takes about six weeks to catch up to the Sun.
6. THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE GATHER AT STONEHENGE TO CELEBRATE THE SUMMER SOLSTICE.
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People have long believed Stonehenge was the site of ancient druid solstice celebrations because of the way the Sun lines up with the stones on the winter and summer solstices. While there’s no proven connection between Celtic solstice celebrations and the megalithic monument, these days, thousands of modern pagans gather at the landmark to watch the sunrise on the solstice.
7. PAGANS CELEBRATE THE SUMMER SOLSTICE WITH SYMBOLS OF FIRE AND WATER.
In Paganism and Wicca, Midsummer is celebrated with a festival known as Litha. In ancient Europe, the festival involved rolling giant wheels lit on fire into bodies of water to symbolize the balance between fire and water. (again, the duality.)
8. IN ANCIENT EGYPT, THE SUMMER SOLSTICE HERALDED THE NEW YEAR.
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In Ancient Egypt, the summer solstice preceded the appearance of the Sirius star, which the Egyptians believed was responsible for the annual flooding of the Nile that they relied upon for agriculture. Because of this, the Egyptian calendar was set so that the start of the year coincided with the appearance of Sirius, just after the solstice.
9. THE ANCIENT CHINESE HONORED THE YIN ON THE SUMMER SOLSTICE.
In ancient China, the summer solstice was the yin to the winter solstice’s yang—literally. (Just like I said, that is DUALISM – yin/yang, evil/god balanced through human effort and wisdom. Just like the Freemasons with their two St. Johns.) Throughout the year, the Chinese believed, the powers of yin and yang waxed and waned in reverse proportion to each other. At the summer solstice, the influence of yang was at its height, but the celebration centered on the impending switch to yin. At the winter solstice, the opposite switch was honored.
10. IN ALASKA, THE SUMMER SOLSTICE IS CELEBRATED WITH A MIDNIGHT BASEBALL GAME.
Each year on the summer solstice, the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks celebrate their status as the most northerly baseball team on the planet with a game that starts at 10 p.m. and stretches well into the following morning—without the need for artificial light—known as the Midnight Sun Game. The tradition originated in 1906 and was taken over by the Goldpanners in 1960, the first year of their existence.
11. THE EARTH IS ACTUALLY AT ITS FARTHEST FROM THE SUN DURING THE SOLSTICE.
You might think that because the solstice occurs in summer that it means the Earth is closest to the Sun in its elliptical revolution. However, the Earth is actually closest to the Sun around the time the Northern Hemisphere experiences winter and is farthest away near the summer solstice. The warmth of summer comes exclusively from the tilt of the Earth’s axis, and not from how close it is to the Sun at any given time.
12. THE SUMMER SOLSTICE MARKS A DARK TIME IN SCIENCE HISTORY.
Legend has it that it was on the summer solstice in 1633 that Galileo Galilei was forced to recant his declaration that the Earth revolves around the Sun; even with doing so, he still spent the rest of his life under house arrest.
13. AN ALTERNATIVE CALENDAR HAD AN EXTRA MONTH NAMED AFTER THE SOLSTICE.
In 1902, a British railway system employee named Moses B. Cotsworth attempted to institute a new calendar system that would standardize the months into even four-week segments. To do so, he needed to add an extra month to the year. The additional month was inserted between June and July and named Sol because the summer solstice would always fall during this time. Despite Cotsworth’s traveling campaign to promote his new calendar, it failed to catch on.
14. IN ANCIENT GREECE, THE SOLSTICE FESTIVAL MARKED A TIME OF SOCIAL EQUALITY.
The Greek festival of Kronia, which honored Cronus, the god of agriculture, often coincided with the solstice. The festival was distinguished from other annual feasts and celebrations in that slaves and freemen participated in the festivities as equals.
15. ANCIENT ROME HONORED THE GODDESS VESTA ON THE SOLSTICE.
In Rome, midsummer coincided with the festival of Vestalia, which honored Vesta, the Roman goddess who guarded virginity and was considered the patron of the domestic sphere. On the first day of this festival, married women were allowed to enter the temple of the Vestal virgins, from which they were barred the rest of the year.