Midsummer 2018 Sabbat Box Theme Release • Herbal Witchery #2
• MIDSUMMER SABBAT BOX THEME • HERBAL WITCHERY #2 •
MIDSUMMER SABBAT BOXES ARE SCHEDULED TO SHIP: JUNE 8
The world grows warmer, the days longer and the trees greener. The sun rises high overhead towards the noon-hour as the Wheel of the Year turns once again. Here, we find ourselves nearing the Summer Solstice. But what’s in a word? “Solstice” comes from Latin root words “sol” and “sistere.”
Quite literally, “solstice” translates to “the day the sun stood still.” Looking back at what our ancestors must have thought, it’s no surprise as to why! On the solstice, the sun seems to simply stop at the height of the day, hanging in the summer sky.
Ancient Egyptians may have observed the solstice as it corresponded with the Nile’s rise, offering prediction for flooding. Some Greek calendars used the Summer Solstice to mark the start of their new year. Romans celebrated Vestalia, a holiday where married women could enter temples designated for virgins only in order to make offerings to the goddess of the home, Vesta. Ancient Europeans celebrated the solstice with bonfires to add to the sun’s growing energy, encouraging a bountiful harvest. And, of course, we have a number of ancient structures that align with the Summer Solstice, including the ever-popular Stonehenge.
Modern pagans celebrate the solstice as part of the Wheel of the Year, an adaptation of eight ancient pagan holidays of significance. Also known as Litha and Midsummer, the Summer Solstice is the beginning of summer and the longest day of the year as the sun reaches its apex in the astrological sign of cancer. Historically, it was the longest work day available, so we often associate this holiday with achievements, hard work and determination. We light bonfires, make music and celebrate success within our work, with all of the festivities being committed in the name of the sun.
The sun. The center of our solar system. Our life force. Without the sun, we wouldn’t be here. We rely on our star to light the way in the darkness of the universe, to provide warmth and comfort and to grow our food and, of course, our herbs. Historical pagans placed a great emphasis on the use of herbs for medicine and magic. From the use of bay leaves by the Greek oracles of Delphi to reach a trance state to the cunning woman living on the outskirts of a European town and providing herbal medicine to the sick townspeople, herbs are infused as part of our history. When focusing on such a historically significant holiday here at Sabbat Box, we wanted to use a theme that not only celebrated the sun’s hard work but also tied in historical beliefs. With its popularity last year, we couldn’t think of a theme more representative of this sabbat, or more beloved by our subscribers, than Herbal Witchery – Part Two!
At the time of the Summer Solstice, a number of herbs reach their peak. We see these herbs lining the pathways of the forest in the hot summer sun, dancing in the warm breeze of the fields and climbing their way down the rolling hills to reach the roads we tread. We grow them in our gardens, harvest them from our farms and keep them in small pots near our kitchen. They are available to us at every turn, reaching for our hands, encouraging us to seek their wisdom.
As pagans and witches, we use herbs in a variety of ways, from the simple seasoning of our food to the many magical applications they provide. We anoint our candles with them, grind them into incense, leave them as offerings on our altars and cleanse our homes with them. We store them in our herb cabinets and apothecaries carefully, honoring them and their wisdoms. Many of these herbs have correspondences with solar energy, ensuring success, happiness and fruitful rewards. Every herb is infused with the sun’s light, the warmth of the summer days required to for them to grow. They are, in a word, perfect for the Summer Solstice.
As an integral part of our practices from ancient times to modernity, herbs are often one of the first easily-accessible tools for the budding pagan or witch, and a reliable source of magic for the advanced practitioner. When we compiled this solstice box, we took particular care in curating items that would be of use for any level of practice. Continuing with our theme from last year, we wanted to place a particular focus on the herbs themselves, including items that would be both practically useful and magically inspirational. We can’t wait to send these your way!
• SEE PREVIOUS MIDSUMMER BOXES HERE •
About the author: Marietta Williams
- Marietta Williams