Friday, May 22, 2020

Summer Solstice / Litha: June 20th, 2020


The Summer Solstice is a scientifically observable event marking the moment when one of earth's poles is at its maximum tilt towards the sun, creating the longest day and shortest night for the coinciding hemisphere.  Multiple different ancient and modern cultures observe the Summer Solstice as an important time for celebration, Europe, where Stonehenge lines up perfectly with the rising sun on the solstice, to ancient Greece, were the Summer Solstice marked the start of the new year.  In Egypt, the solstice sun sets between the Great Pyramids of Khufu and Khafre if you're looking from the view of the Sphinx.  Nearly every culture has attributed some sort of significance to the Summer Solstice, making it a particularly impactful time of year.

Because the Wheel of the Year is Eurocentric in nature, European traditions contributed most to what modern pagans and witches celebrate as Litha.  During this solstice, it was believed that spirits roamed the land - perhaps fae, perhaps something else.  Bonfires were lit to protect the land and its people from these spirits, and garland and wreaths were made of protective flowers and herbs such as "chase devil" (now known as St. John's Wart as the holiday was Christianized into St. John's Eve).

Modern celebrations of Midsummer involve celebrating the start of summer and the longest day of the year which, historically, would also be the longest working day.  This makes Litha the perfect time to celebrate career milestones and do work and money spells.  The summer solstice is a time of the sun, of heat, of fire, empowerment, and strength.  Now is a fantastic time to stand tall, be proud of your accomplishments, and revel in your own inner power.

This year's summer solstice occurs on Saturday, June 20th, 2020 at 4:44 PM CST.  Every year it shifts slightly, so I would suggest checking Archaeoastronomy.com if you're coming to this article after 2020.

Activities and Spells
Rituals

Friday, May 15, 2020

13 Essential Herbs Series: Bay


In this series, I will be exploring 13 common herbs you may have in your kitchen or garden, dissecting their meaning from science, history, and culture.  

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Bay


Appearance: Leafy green plant with thick, stiff, fragrant leaves.
Edible? Yes, but typically steeped for flavoring.  Bay leaves do not digest.
Origins: Indigenous to Asia Minor and the Mediterranean area.
Other Notable Qualities: Wild variants of bay do exist but proper bay is from the laurel tree. Some variants of bay are poisonous, so proceed with caution.



Scientific Correspondence:
Trance - Clairvoyance

Bay leaves are narcotic when eaten in large quantities, though this is not recommended due to the lack of digestion.  In fact, the Temple of Delphi, dedicated to Apollo, used bay leaves a great deal.  The roof was made of bay leaves and priestesses would eat bay before giving their oracles, which may have induced a trancelike state that made the priestesses particularly clairvoyant.


Historical Correspondence:
Protection

Bay laurel has particular meaning to Greek mythology.  Ovid's legend speaks of the Greek god Apollo who fell in love with the nymph Daphne. He pursued her relentlessly but she wanted nothing to do with Apollo's affections.  Desperate to avoid rape, she ran to her father who, in an attempt to protect his daughter from the god, turned her into a bay laurel tree, which Apollo then deemed sacred.  In fact, the Greek word for laurel is dhafni, which is a call back to this particular story.


Cultural Correspondence (USA/Midwest):
Knowledge - Achievement

The word laureate, derived from the laurels of the bay tree, is used to refer to a higher status, victory, and honor.  Historically, winners, kinds, and doctors would wear laurels of bay as a symbol of their status; the laurel was indicative of their achievements.  Today, laureate has been included in the fields of academia and knowledge.  For example, baccalaureates (literally berry laurels) are those who have received a bachelor's degree and thus are recognized for a certain amount of knowledge in their field.


Sigil to Invoke Bay


Utilize this sigil as a way of invoking the properties of bay if you have none available to you.  You are welcome to print this sigil, place it in a grimoire, use it on a spell or put it in your blog with proper credit.  Do not claim this sigil as your own.

References
The Epicentre: Bay Leaf
Spice Trade: Bay Leaf
Hunker: Narcotic Effects of Bay Leaves
Hellenic Gods: Bay Laurel
Portland Nursery: Laurus Nobilis: Bay Laurel

**Images were found via a search labeled for reuse.
If you would like an image removed or credited, please let me know.**

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Previously
Salt
Basil

Coming Soon
Black Pepper
Cinnamon
Cloves
Mint
Nutmeg
Patchouli
Rose
Rosemary
Sage
Thyme