“Solstice” is derived from two Latin words: “sol” meaning sun, and “sistere,” to cause to stand still. This is because, as the summer solstice approaches, the noonday sun rises higher and higher in the sky on each successive day. On the day of the solstice, it rises an imperceptible amount, compared to the day before. In this sense, it “stands still.”
(In the southern hemisphere, the summer solstice is celebrated in December, also when the night time is at a minimum and the daytime is at a maximum.)
Why does the summer solstice happen?
On this day, typically June 21, the daytime hours are at a maximum in the Northern hemisphere, and night time is at a minimum. It is officially the first day of summer. It is also referred to as Midsummer because it is roughly the middle of the growing season throughout much of Europe.
The seasons of the year are caused by the 23.5° tilt of the earth’s axis. Because the earth is rotating like a top or gyroscope, the North Pole points in a fixed direction continuously — towards a point in space near the North Star. But the earth is also revolving around the sun. During half of the year, the southern hemisphere is more exposed to the sun than is the northern hemisphere. During the rest of the year, the reverse is true.
At noontime in the Northern Hemisphere the sun appears high in the sky during summertime, and low during winter. The time of the year when the sun reaches its maximum elevation occurs on the summer solstice — the day with the greatest number of daylight hours. It typically occurs on, or within a day or two of, June 21, the first day of summer. The lowest elevation occurs about Dec 21 and is the winter solstice — the first day of winter, when the night time hours reach their maximum.
Activities for the Summer Solstice:
- Rise early on the summer solstice and greet the sun as it begins to brighten the sky.
- Create protective amulets out of rue, rowan and basil. Place these herbs in a clean white or gold cloth, and tie the cloth securely.
- Make a protective charm for your home or business. Tie a few cinnamon sticks together and position them over the door of your home or office.
- Consume foods that honor the power of the sun. Include foods that are yellow and orange. Lemons are particularly good for this purpose and can be consumed in desserts as well as in tea or lemonade.
- Leave some food out for the fairy folk that are active at midsummer. Good choices include milk, wine, honey, water and fresh bread.
Information collected from various sources
What follows is a list (in alphabetical order) of the names given to the June moon. Also listed is the tradition and/or origin of that moon name:
- Aerra Litha Moon ~other
- Blackberry Moon ~Greek
- Buffalo Moon ~Omaha
- Corn Tassel Moon ~Taos
- Dark Green Leaves Moon ~Pueblo
- Dyad Moon ~Medieval English
- Fish Spoils Moon ~Wishram
- Flower Moon ~Cherokee
- Green Corn Moon ~Cherokee
- Green Grass Moon ~Sioux
- Hay Moon ~other
- Hoer Moon ~Abernaki
- Horses’ Moon ~Celtic
- Honey Moon ~Algonquin
- Hot Moon ~Algonquin
- Hot Weather Moon ~Ponca, Arapaho
- Leaf Moon ~Assiniboine
- Leaf Dark Moon ~San Juan
- Leaves Moon ~Cree
- Lotus Moon ~Chinese
- Lovers’ Moon ~other
- Major Planting Moon ~Hopi
- Making Fat Moon ~Lakota
- Mead Moon ~Janic (full)
- Planting Moon ~Neo Pagan
- Ripe Berries ~Dakota
- Ripening Moon ~Mohawk
- Rose Moon ~Algonquin
- Strawberry Moon ~Anishnaabe, Dark Janic, Algonquin
- Strong Sun Moon ~other
- Summer Moon ~Kiowa, Passamaquoddy
- Turtle Moon ~Potawatomi
- Water Melon Moon ~Natchez
- Windy Moon ~Choctaw
Good weather in “Flaming June” is necessary if there is to be a good harvest. Country weather lore states:
- If June with bright sun is blessed, for harvest, we will thank the Goddess.
- If June be sunny, harvest comes early.
- A cold and wet June ruins the rest of the year.
- It is said that if it rains on 27 June, then it will rain for the next seven weeks.
- A wet June makes a dry September.
- A dripping June brings all things in tune.
- If swallows fly near the ground in June, it is a sign of coming rain.
- Bats flying on a June evening are a sign of hot, dry weather the next day.
- A calm June puts the farmer in tune.
- June damp and warm, does the farmer no harm.
- Rain on St Vitus’ Day (June 15), brings rain for 30 days in a row.
According to country lore, it was also claimed that summer doesn’t actually begin until the elder is in flower.
Information collected from: various sources
The first (or only) full moon in June is called the Honey Moon. Tradition holds that this is the best time to harvest honey from the hives.
- Colors: Sun colors — gold, yellow, orange
- Gemstones: Topaz, agate
- Trees: Oak, maple
- Gods: Isis, Cerridwen, Persephone
- Herbs: Parsley, mosses, skullcap, mugwort
- Element: Earth
This is the month where magical workings are well suited to maintaining and enhancing things you already have. Weed your garden, prune the bushes, give your lawn all the tender loving care it needs. Take time to let your personal life blossom as well – focus on things that improve your job or education, as well as your relationships with family and friends.
This time of year, between the planting and harvesting of the crops, was the traditional month for weddings. This is because many ancient peoples believed that the “grand [sexual] union” of the Goddess and God occurred in early May at Beltaine. Since it was unlucky to compete with the deities, many couples delayed their weddings until June.
June remains a favorite month for marriage today. In some traditions, newly wed couples were fed dishes and beverages that featured honey for the first month of their married life to encourage love and fertility. The surviving vestige of this tradition lives on in the name given to the holiday immediately after the ceremony: “The Honeymoon.”
In June, we’re beginning to see some early summer fruits and vegetables (a great time for strawberry crops!), and the days are getting longer and longer. It’s a far cry from the darkness of winter, and we typically try to spend as much time outside as possible. Also known as Lover’s Moon, Long Sun Moon, it’s a time for bonding with friends and family, and forging what connections we can. Nurture your relationships, your garden, your career, and your soul this month.
In pre-historic times, summer was a joyous time of the year for those Aboriginal people who lived in the northern latitudes. The snow had disappeared; the ground had thawed out; warm temperatures had returned; flowers were blooming; leaves had returned to the deciduous trees. Some herbs could be harvested, for medicinal and other uses. Food was easier to find. The crops had already been planted and would be harvested in the months to come.