Feast Days for the Radically Reverent
Next Feast Day: Mid-Summer, Summer Solstice, Litha, and St. John’s Eve
Mid-Summer, also known as Summer Solstice, Litha, and the Feast of St. John’s Eve is, like it’s opposing season of Christmas, a period of feasting, revelry, and celebration that spans several days and creates a time out of mind experience for those who celebrate it.
Celebrations of Mid-Summer first begin around Summer Solstice, the longest day and the shortest night of the year. Solstice dates change annually but Summer Solstice is typically celebrated on June 21st. Mid-Summer celebrations are highly popular still in Europe with certain countries, notably Sweden, considering the possibility of turning Mid-Summer into a national holiday.
St. John’s Eve is the Christian celebration that has been deeply tied to Summer Solstice traditions for ages and s celebrated on June 24th. This allows Mid-Summer to be celebrated basically from the 21st of June through the 25th.
Both Solstice and St. John’s Eve are celebrated in many European countries as well as parts of Mexico, Central, South America and the American Southwest (where the good saint is known as San Juan). Unlike most Saint Feast Days, St. John’s Eve celebrates the birth (as oppose to the more usual honoring of the death) of St. John the Baptist. Affirming that this celebration is all about life. In Louisiana and other areas of the Deep South where Vodou is practiced St. John’s Eve has special significance and ceremony is performed to honor the Saint and his works.
And of course there is much to celebrate. For the sun is at its zenith and the strongest part of its annual cycle. All that we have been building, growing, and cultivating is now ready for fruition and also ready for celebration. Many countries have great festivals and gatherings in villages and towns. Merchants sell their wares, musicians play, and there is feasting, dancing, and drinking deep into the night.
Like the other major Holy Days, Mid-Summer is also a time when the veils between the worlds are traditionally thin. Shakespeare gives a nod to this in his famous A Midsummer Night’s Dream which features the traditional understanding that during this time faeries and other magical creatures roamed freely.
Bonfires are built to celebrate the sun and confer protection on people, lands, and animals. Ancestors are venerated at this time and believed to show up in dreams and visions, and divination, especially divination by dowsing rod, is practiced. Mid-Summer marks a period when dowsing rods are traditionally cut and prepared as well.
Traditionally women harvest herbs during the day of the Solstice and then hang them up to dry outside of the doors and from the kitchen, these herbs are considered especially blessed. Two herbs that are especially sought out during this time are St. John’s Wort, which is believed to protect one from evil spirits and Yarrow which is often burned in bonfires (or more typically in modern day celebrations) in incense. Once the harvested herbs are set to dry outside of the front door of the home and collect dew overnight the women of house will wash their faces in the dew and in so doing gain visions of their future.
For our Mid-Summer celebrations I am making a communal honey jar to sweeten and strengthen whatever in your life needs sweetening and strengthening right now. You may join for free by registering!
Questions to consider as you craft your petition:
What am I in the process of strengthening and nourishing right now?
What do I need to honor and celebrate?
Where do I feel the need for greater protection and privacy?
What is coming into full bloom?
What is my vision for the next six months?
What magics are currently really working for me? What are not?
What is ready to shine?
( Image credit: John Edward Hughes)
What are Feast Days for the Radically Reverent?
Born into a family full of many devoted Catholic practitioners, Feast Days are one of the aspects of folk tradition that I love best. There are hundreds of Feast Days – in fact, according to official Catholic calendars every single day is a feast day – and that alone is a though worth pondering – what would happen if you treated every day as a feast day?
Several years ago in my own practice I began creating altars and honoring ceremonies on Feast Days that have deep personal significance to me and inviting my community of soulful seekers to join in the process of honoring by sending in their own prayer requests, blessing ways, petitions, and thanks givings.
The results are always stunning. They remind me again and again that the act of blessing is transformative and also deeply universal — every year individuals from all over the world and many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds identifying as Christian, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and followers of various alternative spiritual paths come together in blessing. It is a profound time always and one felt deeply by all participants.
These Feast Days can be found on various calendars but we celebrate them together with one thing in common – radical reverence; this is reverence that goes right down to the root of things in plain speech and in direct, heart-felt actions.
Feast Days for the Radically Reverent are open to all people who would like to come together to celebrate, request, and bless. They are 100% free of charge and always will be.
Participation: Use the form to send in your petition for our communal honey jar.
Registration closes: 6/21 at noon central time.
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