Friday, June 20, 2008

Diva of the ....Light?

What a lucky Diva I am - my first two postings get to be about special days. The first was Friday the 13th (shiver) and today is the summer solstice - the longest day of the year. Guess that makes me a Diva of the Light today...

I started researching the solstice, because everything is fodder for an author's toolbox. I found some cool celebrations from the past...some that linger on into the present.

Druids celebrated Alban Heruin ("Light of the Shore"). It was midway between the spring Equinox (Alban Eiler; "Light of the Earth") and the fall Equinox (Alban Elfed; "Light of the Water"). This midsummer festival celebrated the apex of Light. During this time, the crowning of the Oak King took place. At his crowning, the Oak King falls to his darker aspect, the Holly King, God of the waning year.

In ancient China, the summer solstice ceremony celebrated the earth, the feminine, and the yin forces. It complemented the winter solstice which celebrated the heavens, masculinity and yang forces.

In ancient Gaul, the Midsummer celebration was called Feast of Epona, named after a mare goddess who personified fertility, sovereignty, and agriculture. She was portrayed as a woman riding a mare.

Ancient Pagans celebrated Midsummer with bonfires! It was the night of fire festivals and of love magic, of love oracles and divination. Pairs of lovers would jump through the luck-bringing flames of the fire and it was believed that the crops would grow as high as the couples were able to jump. The fire's power would reveal information about future husbands and banish spirits and demons. Bonfires also generated sympathetic magic by giving the sun's energey a boost so that it would remain potent throughout the rest of the growing season and guarantee a plentiful harvest.

In ancient Rome, the festival of Vestalia lasted from 7-15 June. It was held in honor of the Roman Goddess of the hearth, Vesta. Married women could enter the shrine of Vesta during the festival. At other times of the year, only the vestal virgins were permitted inside.

In ancient Sweden, a Midsummer tree was set up and decorated. The villagers would then dance around it. Women and girls would customarily bathe in the local river, this magical ritual was intended to bring rain for the crops.

So, how are you going to celebrate the summer solstice?


Blogger Cynthia Eden said...

What great info!

I have no idea how I'm going to celebrate...

June 20, 2008 at 2:50 PM  
Blogger Yolanda Sfetsos said...

Thanks for sharing all that info. But you know, for me it sounds really strange to hear that it's the summer solstice, because we're in winter at the moment. :/

Though, it was a very nice day. Not cold at all. And I got to buy some great books at great prices, so it turned out to be a good day. Oh, and we went for a huge walk around the city at night. That's always cool. :)

June 21, 2008 at 5:34 PM  

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