Magic and Bonfires

Dear Friends:

Our guest contributor this month is Daryl Rogers. You will enjoy Daryl’s reflections on this time of year, with its fascinating array of magical celebrations. Daryl has been a part of our community at the Magic & Mystery School for a very long time, and was recently named to be one of the instructors at the school. He is a deep thinker about our art, and also a wonderful performer.

The Magical Month of June
By Daryl Rogers

June in the Midwest is that special time of year when winter’s icy grip has long been released, and the hot and humid days of summer are still a few weeks away. It is an all too brief season of equilibrium between the two extremes, that is savored every moment.
June is also the month of the summer solstice, which occurs on the twenty-first, and is the moment in time when the sun reaches its northernmost position in the sky, as seen from Earth’s northern hemisphere. It gives us our longest day of the year, and the shortest night. After this point we begin the long, slow descent into darkness and cold once again. But for now, we can glory in the warmth and comfort of the season.
The summer solstice was known to the ancients, and recognized for its profound significance with feasts and rituals. For the Greeks, the summer solstice was the beginning of the new year, and every four years, it marked the one-month countdown to the Olympic games. A festival to Kronai, the god of agriculture, was held at this time. The Romans held the celebration Vestalia, during which married women could leave offerings to Vesta, the goddess of the hearth, in exchange for blessings for their families.

The pagans of Northern and Central Europe welcomed Midsummer with bonfires, hoping to boost the sun’s energy for the growing season ahead. The ashes from the bonfires would be spread across gardens to ensure a bountiful harvest. Bonfires were also strongly associated with magic, which was thought to be strongest during the summer solstice. The bonfires were believed to help banish any evil spirits or demons, and even to lead maidens to their future husbands.

Many cultures still celebrate the summer solstice to this day. Midsummer festivities are especially popular in Northern Europe where bonfires are lit, girls wear flowers in their hair, and homes are decorated with garlands and other greenery.

In some parts of Scandinavia, maypoles are erected, and people dance around them at Midsummer. neopagans, wiccans and newagers around the world hold summer solstice celebrations, with thousands gathering at Stonehenge to commemorate this special time of the year.

This is a good time, at this half-way point in the year, to examine the resolutions and goals we set for ourselves six months ago. Do you have a copy of your list in plain sight where you can see it every day? Are you working on all, or at least some of these goals every day? Or has your attention been pulled away by other things? Perhaps the goals you set at the beginning of the year are no longer valid, or circumstances have changed, or new situations have taken precedence.

That’s okay! You can alter your resolutions and goals to fit your current situation. But don’t abandon them. As Jeff McBride is fond of saying, “A dream is a goal with a deadline!” You can’t fulfill your dreams if you have no goals.

The summer solstice is a perfect time to take stock of your situation. If you want to reap a bountiful harvest with your magic endeavors, now is the time to examine how much time you are spending to tend your garden of goals. Remember, magic is particularly strong at this time of year, so use that to your advantage. Take a deep breath, reorient yourself, and get to work on your resolutions and goals, so that six months from now you will know you have done your best.

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