Today is Midsummer (Summer Solstice) in the Northern Hemisphere, known as Grianstad an tSamhraidh in Irish.
This occurs when the Sun moves into 0 degrees Cancer. It’s the longest day of the year, when the sun appears to stand still in the sky for three days (Grianstad meaning sun-stop in Irish) creating a beautiful three-day portal which began yesterday and will close tomorrow.
Midsummer is a time of vitality, strength, fertility, harmony and abundance…a time when the Goddess of the Land is in her full glory, adorned with herbs and flowers.
In Ireland, the pagan Midsummer celebrations have been woven into the celebration of St. John’s Eve on June 24th, so that the two celebrations have striking resemblances. This weaving together of paganism and Christianity in Ireland is very common, and a beautiful representation of a living tradition that evolves and changes with the turning of the ages.
On St. John’s Eve/Midsummer’s Eve fires are traditionally lit in communities. Torches are lit and brought to the field where there is a “Blessing of the Crops”. One return to the bonfires, there’s dancing and singing that goes on through the night until the rising of the dawn. In the morning, women would go out into the fields and rub morning dew on their faces.
Honoring the Irish Goddesses
This sacred festival is very much associated with goddess Áine, a Sovereignty Goddess and Goddess of the Land. Her name is thought to mean ‘brightness’ and she’s considered to be a Faery Woman and also a Banshee. She’s associated with the sun, the moon, and the crops. There’s also a story about her bathing in a lake in the form of a mermaid, and she’s said to have a magical golden comb.
“Some say that Áine’s true dwelling-place is in her hill; upon which on every St. John’s Night the peasantry used to gather from all the immediate neighbourhood to view the moon, and then with torches (cliars) made of bunches of straw and hay tied on poles used to march in procession from the hill and afterwards run through cultivated fields and amongst the cattle.” – The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries by W.Y. Evans-Wentz in 1911
Although Summer Solstice is associated with Áine, as someone devoted to goddess Brigid I often like to honor my patron Goddess around the Wheel of the Year beyond her sacred festival of Imbolg. Here’s a vlog that I made last year in honor of Brigid, which includes my Dandelion Pesto recipe:
Dandelion Pesto Recipe
- 1 cup dandelion leaves (wash them really well and roughly chop)
- Handful of basil (roughly cop)
- 2 cloves of garlic (cut into halves or quarters)
- Juice half a lemon
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 3/4 cup of olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- Mix all together in a food processor
- Stir in 2 tsp of sunflowers seeds or pine nuts
Whether you’re celebrating Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere or Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, I’m wishing you bright Solstice blessings from the mountains of Colorado, ancestral lands of the Ute and Arapaho people.
How are you planning on celebrating this sacred day?
I’d love to hear from you.
Sacred & wild blessings,
P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about how to honor the Irish Goddesses around the Wheel of the Year, you are lovingly invited to attend my free 90-minute online workshop Earth my Body, Goddess my Blood.