June 21st marks the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. If you live where I live, you might be thinking “What do you mean the longest day of the year is almost here?! It barely feel like spring has arrived!” Yes, it’s cloudy today, but the picnic must go on…. and the celestial show also goes on. June 21st is fast approaching. What does it all mean?
Patti Wigington supplies us with some answers at Litha Legends and Lore: Myths and Mysteries of the Midsummer Solstice.
I am personally planning on trying this one out if I get my nerve up:
It is believed in parts of England that if you stay up all night on Midsummer’s Eve, sitting in the middle of a stone circle, you will see the Fae. But be careful – carry a bit of rue in your pocket to keep them from harassing you, or turn your jacket inside out to confuse them. If you have to escape the Fae, follow a ley line, and it will lead you to safety.
Her article also links to other interesting articles about Midsummer, including one about Litha History.
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 – 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.
The deep-diving scholars among you might want to search farther for more meaty writings on the subject, but the rest of you can find some quick-n-easy snippets to read in her stuff.