Today is June 24th, the day after the magical night of midsummer nights eve. This post written to celebrate the occasion last year is being shown again to welcome the beginning of the end of the warm season. Enjoy.
The long awaited day has arrived. It is June twenty third, the eve of midsummer. For it is now that the sun embarks on the long descent into the darkness and cold of winter. While we consider solstice the “official” beginning of summer, it was not so in times of old. The calender then marked out summer from May 1st through August 1st — making solstice the midpoint, or Midsummer. Solstice marks our official beginning of summer, but it technically is the beginning of the end of summer. Let us think not about that now. This is the night of dancing, bonfires, and rituals of all sorts but we are focusing on the fairy celebrations believed to happen this very night. Hypericum, St. John’s Wort, shown above, is associated with this day for many reasons. In fairy lore, this plant was said to offer protection from the fae’s darker side, which could include the forced dancing of any human caught spying on magical parties until they passed out from exhaustion. Hmmm. One has memories, however distant, that this fate might have actually happened to us a couple of times. It was not blamed on the fairies though. And we had no hypericum in our going out bag.
Elf leaf is another name for lavender, used in elfin magic. It does suggest a wand with its shape. There is lots of this special plant grown in various beds here.
Elfin thyme, to carry on that theme is spreading well, making a comfortable cushion for dreaming of nice fairies tonight.
Manners are very important at all times, offerings of gifts is always seen as a friendly gesture for humans as well as wee ones. These fruits from the garden should please even the most finicky of palates.
Regular readers may know that we follow an early to bed, early to rise rhythm. Just in case we fall alseep too soon to witness any magical moments during the midnight hour, we have asked Mr. and Mrs. Bongo Congo to also set up shop in the fairy garden area. They willingly agreed and have decorated themselves in proper head gear, ox eye daisy chains, for the occasion. They don’t get to attend many festivals, being sentinels of the plants and flowers here, and rejoice at the thought of revelry and refreshments. The happy couple is resting in a bed of thyme and claim to be experienced fairy watchers. Whew, that is a relief to know there is quality back up in this important endeavor.
The rock with the hole all the way through that we found at
the beach recently is ready, along with an intact
horseshoe mule shoe, (thanks to an alert equine expert! )that was dug up while planting the vegetable garden. Luck all around.
Mrs. Bongo Congo, she is the brains, Mr. B-C is the brawn, has set up the lucky holey rock so she can see clearly through the aperture. She claims to know her way around the Canon PowerShot A720 too. Good deal, maybe she can give me some pointers.
Bonfires have an important place in the traditions on this night. Fires were lit across the land, to mimic the brightness of the sun. People jumped over the blazing fires in hopes of long life, long love and any other powers such an act might bestow. Previously we had set up a blue bowl with water for swimming, but now realize that the fire pit needs to be ready. We added a lavender wand for fragrance to the wood pile. When the Faire Garden clan meets here for the yearly day after Thanksgiving fiesta, our after dinner fire bowl has herb bundles tossed in from the offspring’s offspring while making a wish. The fairy babies might enjoy doing that as well.
Darkness creeps across the land. The hour is drawing near for magical and mystical goings on.
The clouds are gathering, not for rain, but for mirth.
What is in this shot? It was taken just after the first one, but this time there are two little white dots in the sky. Honestly, as shown by the poor attempts at arrow drawing, these bits of light were not manually added with fancy computer technology. The talent for that is sadly, but honestly lacking here. Could this be the first of the out of staters flying in? It has been rumored that some Austin delegates might show up to teach the local Tennessee fae some new tricks. All are welcome, from every locale. Come one, come all, we have been waiting for you!
“When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies. And now when every new baby is born its first laugh becomes a fairy. So there ought to be one fairy for every boy or girl.”
Peter, act 1, Peter Pan by James Matthew Barrie
It is really getting dark now. We had best all take our places, hidden but able to peek out from our leafy shelters.
fairy gazebo is looking sort of eerie. That thyme smells so yummy, it is making me sleepy. It is well after my bedtime………….
Oh my, it is morning already. Where did the night go? We had better investigate the scene for evidence.
But we mustn’t forget to gather the morning dew before any of it evaporates.
Midsummer day’s morning dew has been collected over the ages from leaves and flowers for its magical healing properties. Before the sunrise people dragged sheets across the fields, collecting dew, which was then used for healing.
It is difficult to collect morning dew during a drought. There has to be some moisture present in the soil and foliage, and we have very little. There will be no sheet dragging, more like cotton ball dabbing, to collect the precious liquid.
What’s this? Mr. and Mrs. Bongo Congo look like they had an exciting night.
There appears to be some sort of glittery substance around and about.
The remains of a fire with little
Verna Birdfoot moved from inside the gazebo to the ring of stones lining the firepit is noticed. There is more of the glittery stuff here also.
Goodness, who is sleeping in the moss at the feet of the maidenhair fern in this trough planter?
And who is resting on the bench in the fairy gazebo in the shot taken by Mrs. Bongo Congo? (Click to enlarge and see for yourself).
“Yet mark’d I where the bolt of Cupid fell:It fell upon a little western flower,Before, milk-white, now purple with love’s wound, —And maidens call it love-in-idleness.”
Oberon, scene i A Midsummernight’s Dream by William Shakespeare
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
Puck, final act A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Many thanks to you faithful readers for following this little saga. Much has been learned about this magical date and the celebrations that have been practiced for centuries in all parts of the world involving the sun, the night, and creatures real and mythical. The days will become shorter, the light’s angle will soften, and we will remember well the events described here, real and imagined.
post script: The Shakespeare letter opener shown above belonged to my dear departed Aunt Elizabeth, my mother’s sister. Although childless, she was beloved by many for her inspired teaching of English Literature at Norman (Oklahoma) High School for most of her adult life. She was given many gifts pertaining to Shakespeare by her students, including this statue of his form as the handle of a letter opener that is one of my personal treasures.