The solstice of summer is the height of the strength of the sun; it is the longest day and shortest night of the year. Throughout place and time humanity has honoured and celebrated the power and symbolism of this day.
For some it was the beginning of the New Year and considered a time between time. The ancient Greeks celebrated it as Kronia, sacred to Kronos in his form of the god of agriculture and the fertility of the crops and fields. For the Romans, it was a time to pay tribute to Vesta, goddess of the hearth - the hearth of the family, the hearth of the state and the hearth of the home of the very gods themselves.
Through out the northern and western European nations great bonfires would be lit this night to reflect the great strength of the sun and bring it down to earth. Celebrants would jump the flames, the higher they jumped, the higher the crops would grow. The flames would burn away all evil and bad luck. The fire’s ashes would be collected and used to bless field and garden and to guard boundaries and home.
Great wheels of flame – balls made of straw and lit with the bonfire would be rolled down hills into a river. This would not only drive away evil and evil spirits but also represented the unity of Fire and Water – Midsummer marks the entrance of the sun into the water sign of Cancer, and this union of great opposites was important this day as well – union of water and fire, union of female and male.
Midsummer was also important to the denizens of the otherworld, the fey and Sidhe and fairy courts. In late Elizabethan and Victorian lore, the Folk came out to make mischief and dance through the night awaiting the dawn. But in many earlier traditions, the Fair Ones were not just there to play and prance about, but to witness a great and profound event – the Crowning of the King.
It is on this day that the sacred king, be it Virbius or Sigfried, Arthur, Fionn or Yeshua, Osiris, or Lugh, accepts his crown and with it accepts his fate.
His fate is to die.
The king was born with the sun at the winter solstice, the day opposite to today. There he was at his weakest, new born and squalling, but gaining power with every dawn as the heat and the light of the sun grew stronger. He was the heir presumptive, the foolish wanderer, the hero who fought demons and battled dragons. He was tested – initiated and reborn - heir presumptive became heir apparent. He met and mated with the goddess – the very land itself - and through her he became himself.
But it is on Midsummer that his fate is revealed to him.
The sun stands still in the heavens on this day, after this it begins to fall and wane, but for today, for one shinning moment all life sings in celebration and joy. There is a reason that paradise is often called the
At Midsummer the King is the greatest he ever shall be – the greatest he ever can be. At midsummer the king is the
God. It is with his crowning that
the king is realized his divinity. The
Young Stag becomes the King Stag, the King Stag becomes the God….. Summer Kingdom
And the God becomes the Land.
It is, and ever shall be, the role of the sacred king to join with the land, to marry the goddess of sovereignty – Gwenhyver – the white phantom of the Otherworld, Eriu – The Great Queen, Isis – the very throne itself… he joins with the land and thus becomes the land. But unlike the goddess, the king will age and die. The land will fall with him and become the wasteland - unyielding and infertile. The king knows this, and knows that it must not be and so, by accepting his crown, by accepting his glory, he accepts that his life must be forfeit, that he must give his life for life to live. He will be challenged by his successor, he will die to feed the land and he will be replaced so that life will continue to thrive.
He is the offerer and he is the offering.
But those events are still yet to come.
For now, all is joy and happiness. For now it is a time to celebrate – to celebrate the glory and the victory of life. With the Crowning of the King, Light and Goodness triumph…. if only for a moment.
For now…. if only for a moment … god and goddess are joined as one
For now… if only for a moment … all things are possible.