A Smattering of Solistice Spells

by Melanie Fire Salamander

As a pagan, you may well light a  bonfire Midsummer night and jump it,  for Litha is a fire festival. Likewise, you  may stay up to greet the Midsummer  dawn.

If you do, keep a pair of garden  shears handy. Midsummer’s Eve at midnight, Midsummer’s Day at dawn and Midsummer noon are prime times to collect plants sacred to the sun or special  to the fey. In fact, any magickal herb  plucked at Midsummer is said to prove  doubly effective and keep better. Divining rods cut on Midsummer’s Eve are  said to be more infallible, too. You can  charge your charms, depending on their  purpose, at midnight, noon or in dawn’s  first light.

Charms traditional at Litha include those for courage, dream divination, fertility, invisibility, love, luck, protection, wealth, the restoration of sight and the ability to see the fey. Midsummer is a fey time, both by tradition and observation. The scent of the air is thick, green and juicy; it’s lost its spring astringency and is simply lush. The whole world is stretching its limbs and frolicking. The fey are big on that.

Especially for charms of love, gardening and magickal abilities, the fey are  a great help in herb collecting. In exchange, they like gifts of milk and honey,  cookies, sweet liqueurs, or any sweet  food, drink or liquor. They also like  baubles, particularly pretty or shiny. Or  cold hard cash — but in coin, not paper,  and it’s best if shiny.

To stay in good with the fey and the  herbs you collect from, leave enough of  the plant or other plants of the type that  the herb survives in the spot collected  from. Remember too to always ask the  plant before taking a cutting, and to wait  for an answer. A quid pro quo usually  works: a shiny dime, some fertilizer, or  a bit of your hair or clothing — whatever  you think the plant most wants.

Courage: Tuscans use erba della  paura (stachys)collected on  Midsummer’s Day as a wash against fear.  Steep the herb in hot but not boiling  water, then rinse the limbs with long  strokes moving outward from the torso.  You might substitute wood betony, a  relative more common in North America.

Dream divination: Litha is a good time for foretelling things in dreams. Specifically, to induce dreams of love and ensure them coming true, lay a bunch of flowers under your pillow on Midsummer Eve. That’s what the girls of old Scandinavia did.

For effective dream divination, remember to keep a notebook beside  your bed. At bedtime, relax, ground and  center, then clearly define your question.  Meditate on that question until it’s firm  in your mind, and assure yourself you  will remember your dream on waking.  Then go to sleep.

As soon as you wake, record your dream. One trick is to set an alarm clock so you’re wakened artificially, which can help dream recollection. Dreams dreamed on Midsummer’s Eve are said to be more likely to come true.

Fertility for your garden: For a lush garden, mix ashes from the Midsummer bonfire with any seeds yet to  plant. (You still have time to plant cosmos and a handful of fall-blooming flowers.) Likewise, for fertility sprinkle bonfire ashes on any flowers or vegetables  you have growing.

Fey charms: To see the fey, pick  flowers from a patch of wild thyme where  the little folk live and place the flowers  on your eyes. A four-leafed clover not  only grants you a wish but also, carried  in your pocket or a charm, gives you the  power to see fairies dancing in rings. A  good place to look is by oaks, said in  Germany to be a favorite place for fey  dances. To penetrate fey glamour, make  and wear an ointment including fourleaved clovers.

St. John’s wort, also known as ragwort, has a strong connection to the fey  and transportation. You might add it to  charms to travel quickly. The Irish call  the plant the fairy’s horse, and the fey  are said to ride it through the air. But  beware: The Manx say if you step on a  ragwort plant on Midsummer’s Eve after sunset, a fairy horse springs out of  the earth and carries you off till sunrise,  leaving you wherever you happen to be  when the sun comes up.

Invisibility: Collect fern seed on  Midsummer Eve for use in charms of  invisibility. To become invisible, wear or  swallow the seed (that is, the spores)  you have collected. Such spores also  put you under the protection of spirits.

The fern is said to bloom at midnight on Midsummer Eve, either a sapphire blue or golden yellow depending  on your source.

Love: Plant two orpine starts (Sedum telephium) together on Midsummer  Eve, one to represent yourself, one to  represent your lover. If one withers, the  person represented will die. But if both  flourish and grow leaning together, you  and your lover will marry.

Luck and human fertility: As at  Beltaine, leap the Midsummer bonfire for  fertility and luck.

Protection: Herbs traditional to  Litha (also know as St. John’s Day) in  England include St. John’s wort, hawkweed, orpine, vervain, mullein, wormwood and mistletoe. Plucked either at  Midsummer’s Eve on midnight or noon  Midsummer Day and hung in the house,  they protect it from fire and lightning.  Worn in a charm on your body, they protect you from disease, disaster and the  workings of your enemies.

Sight: Dew gathered Midsummer  Eve is said to restore sight.

Wealth: The fern also has a connection with wealth. Sprinkle fern seed  in your savings to keep them from decreasing. The alleged golden-yellow fern  flower, plucked on Midsummer Eve at  midnight, can be used as a dowsing tool  to lead to golden treasure. Alternatively  (the Russian version), you throw the  flower in the air, and it lands on buried  treasure. Or, if you’re Bohemian, you pluck  the flower and on the same Midsummer  Night climb a mountain with blossom in  hand. On the mountain, you’ll find gold  or have it revealed in a vision.

If you wait patiently till midnight on  Midsummer Eve and see no such golden  fern flower, perhaps invisibility will have  to do.

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