Traditional herbs associated with the day differ in different systems and traditions, but some tend to be recurrent in different lore more than other, such as Marigold, and St.John’s wort. Often mentioned are Chamomile, Vervain and Daisy, some of which are typical Solar plants. Oak wood is burned, and a Emeralds are worn and used to decorate altars.
In Wiccan and Pagan world this is the time when the power of Green man, an archetype symbol, and a chthonic spirit, or according to Wiccans, an aspect of Solar deity , is at it’s highest point. The figure of green man is seen even in popular literature and popular culture, cunningly hidden behind faces of Robyn Hood or Peter Pan.
For Christians, such symbolism is simply unacceptable, and furthermore blasphemous. Not because “pagans worship the de*il” , but because this is a day dedicate d to the birth of St.John the Baptist, one of the central characters of Christian religion and a powerful and respected Saint. Therfore, it would be a blasphemy to celebrate anything other than the birth of a Holy man that baptized our Lord, on Jordan.
In general occultism this is a time of the year that carries three beneficial energies, energy of the fertility, energy of the money, and energy that intertwines finely between our and the other-world, connecting them, and making interaction between man and spirits so much easier. This is one of the three days when the veil is thin , others being Beltaine and Smahain.
I am however certain than You knew plenty of this, or at least could find this information elsewhere. So that is why I am gonna add some more “exotic” info, and share with You some, almost, completely secret beliefs and rites associated with these days ( 21st-24th of June ) practiced on mysterious Balkan peninsula
Summer solstice on Balkan peninsula magick and folklore
While “old” witchery, showing traces of early Celtic folklore and beliefs and European folk lore is still very much alive in Balkan, this is the time of the year when it’s syncretism get’s in the centre of the focus.The words folk of Balkan will commonly associate with the 21st of June are St.John the Baptist and luck. Mothers give their daughters two coins, a golden one, which the maiden will place in the right shoe, and the silver one to be placed in the left shoe. Equipped in this manner, maiden goes to attend the Mass, or goes to her own wedding ( it is considered to be a very lucky day for marriage ) , or to see notation or priest, and she will never be without money, according to folk beliefs.
Curious girls go out to pluck seven or nine different flowers from seven or nine different fields, and then they place them beneath pillow to get a glimpse of their predestinated life partner in dreams. It even happens ( and not too rarely , even nowadays in remote village areas of Balkan ) that If a girl would meet a boy of approximately her age, after she would be done with flower picking, she gets married with him. I can see how this omen can be abused by a foxy and cheeky young people , not to use stronger words :D
Magick practitioners and the cunning folk light fires since the night of 21st of june till morn of the 24th, and utter the charm : Light comes and brings me the luck ! nine times in nine cycles each of those 3 nights. Some instead of small bonfires on some hillside clearance, burn 9 candles in safety of their home pronouncing the very same charm. Each night after the repletion of the charm some sheep milk is warmed over the candle or bonfire and there small sips and taken. On a last day, after all of the previously mentioned ritualistic procedures are done ( fire, charms, sheep milk ) the practitioner takes dried St.John wart sprigs, makes Crosses out of them, four Crosses, and places each on each quarter, which clears away the bad spirits and calls for spiritual and occult powers to settle in practitioner and raises practitioner spiritual potential.
St John wart is gathered each of the 3 days of celebration , preferably in the noon, as it is believed it holds greatest potential just then. Crosses or bracelets and necklaces fashioned from St. John’s wart, especially that gathered on this day are believed to protect even from that magick, considered to be most dangerous type of magick on Balkans, and that is fairy magick. Incense made out of St.John’s wart plucked on these days , and Frankincense is used as a sort of “high magick incense”, to conjure extra power in rituals and spells, to cleanse oneself and area prior to work with spirits and compel demons to do one's biddings
The 24th of the June is reserved for the spirits of ancestors which are greeted as they prepare to depart back to other-world on this day . It is customary to light 44 candles in house, and in the morning You can see curious things in Balkan villages. Superstitious people place their heads among the grass to get “washed” with the morning dew, associated with old Slavic spirit Volos. It is believed that this very morning dew will ensure health throughout the next year, particularly in terms of eyes, ears and head. Herbs are plucked and used to fashion small rings or loops, size of a bracelet , which are hung to shield from wicked spells and bring prosperity.
Balkan people associates ancestral spirits, plant spirits and animal spirits as well as Volos and St.John with days 21st-24th of June , and they are believed to be particularly eager to help, working together on 24th of June, so that is why this day Is believed to ensure success in all things done respectfully, more so if magick related.
So now, equipped with some interesting information I was able to persuade old folk to give away, or have found in some old local anthropological accounts , as well as general ideas presented in the begging of the article, go enjoy in these holidays and light and luck they bring. Whichever be Your faith or beliefs , and don’t forget to gather some herbs these day, Marigolds and St.John’s wart in particular ;)
Blessings from Shadow , and lots of luck
NOTES: This article was written and composed by me, Should You desire to use any part of it elsewhere, fine, but GIVE CREDITS, in form of either my e mail Shadowfirstname.lastname@example.org or a direct link to this post. The fitrst image depicts St.John the babttist and is from http://www.wikipedia.com/ , the second shows St.John's wort and is edited by myself, and the third is a lovely pic from http://www.cauldronliving.com/ used for illustrative purposes purely with no ill will, ALL RIGHTS to owner
Have a nice Midsummer ;)