Welcome to the Summer Quarter

Summer's bounty is bursting forth, and the  land is rich with abundant life. Now the Lord and Lady revel in the fields of flowers and grain, and the earth is warm and rich . The alignments of the season are south and southwest, and the correspondences are fire of fire ( the sun's heat and brightness), fire of air (the rich scent of growing things), fire of earth ( the ripe gold of wheat, red and orange of tomatoes and peppers and flowers), and water of fire ( warm rains and thunderstorms). Colours of the season are all rich primary colours, especially reds and golds and bright greens. Our bodies are energized and vigorous, yet we crave fruits and salads and other foods full of moisture to replace that which we lose to the heat. Citrus fruits are ripe and juicy, as are melons and berries and peaches, all fruits which used only to be available in the summer and are still special in that season. And for honor of the Corn God, corn on the cob is a big favourite in the United States, as are the barbecued meats which used, before the time of cultivated food animals, to be roasted oxen and sheep, or deer, slaughtered to feed multitudes gathered together in memory of the sacrifice of the God.

The God is a man now, flush with power, reveling in the beauty of the Lady and working with strength and vigor to tend the Land. At the peak of Summer, He voluntarily gives his Sovereignty to Her, so that He may reign as Sacred King and ensure the fertility of the Land and the bounty of the Harvest.

The Clans were gathering now, in the bright, long days which made travel easy and left little to do but wait upon Nature to produce the harvest. So the clanmoot was a feature of the Summer, often scheduled to include Midsummer, the longest day. At this time justice was done, marriages performed, property realotted, warriors exhibited feats of skill and strength, and families caught up with one another's births and milestones, as the whole Clan shared the winter's news.

The urban Witch shares in the revelry begun so many centuries ago, when vacations are planned and family reunions are held. Tending the garden becomes a pleasure as things are growing lustily, needing little care but weed and bug control. Camping and hiking are popular pastimes, affording oppportunities to gather herbs, stones, sacred woods and other natural objects for the year's magical workings. This is the season of Fire, and workings aligned to the South are likely to be successful at this time. Seek a relationship, embark on creative activities such as sculpture, writing, music making, leatherworking. Do spellwork requiring strength of Will and courage.This is the season to seek out a magical knife ( athame) and bless it under the Full Moon of Oak or the Midsummer Sun. It is a good time to settle tasks and situations left undone, where the application of the Will can bring a successful outcome.


Traditionally, the hawthorne is called the Mayblossom, and the Hawthorne Moon usually falls in the month of May, always before the Summer Solstice. The tree's blossoms carry a scent of female sexuality, which, combined with the long and vicious thorns, gives the tree the mythic significance of the "maiden in the bower", and represents the contrasting energies of restraint and allure. Traditionally, marriages were not celebrated in May, and it was considered unlucky to have sexual intercourse...like so many other folk beliefs, this one is based on practical concerns, namely the need for energy reserved for the work of planting time, and the reimposition of societal order after the license permitted at Bealteine. Children conceived in this season would be born in midwinter and have little chance to live, so the restraint had another practical function.

Magically, the hawthorne represents the energies of self-restraint, voluntary cleansing, purification. The Tarot Card of the Hanged Man has a similar energy...a time of preparation, waiting for things to develop. Magical actions during this moon include lucid dreaming, self-blessing, "cutting" rituals from bad habits or useless situations, perhaps unsavory associations. Also a good time for making charms of protection, such as witch-bottles. Moonwater made at this time will be very powerful for scrying, especially in concerns involving relationships. 

The letter "h" which begins the word "huath" in Irish is an indicator, not a phoneme...its purpose is to indicate a change in the pronunciation of the letters which surround it. Likewise the hawthorne's magickal energy is that of an indicator of change..a warning or caution to look closely and not rush into things, keeping oneself apart to process, or perhaps to separate oneself from a situation and focus on it from afar.

Tree of the Summer Solstice
The heather is another 'station', a tree which represents a day, not a month. It is the tree of the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. The sweet purple or pink blossoms of a field of heather can scent the air for several miles, giving off a heady aroma which actually has the ability to soothe the nerves and cure migraine headaches and nervous complaints. Bees are said to find their routes from the hive to the heather plant by using the angle of the sun, and are associated both with the heather and the Summer Solstice because of the magical change they make in the nectar of the plant, producing honey.

The Sun King at solstice is in the height of his power, but changes magickally, giving his strength to nurture the land. Indeed, the White Heather is a symbol of the God's protection against acts of passion, which references back to the maiden restraint and purity of the preceding Hawthorne Moon. Therefore the Heather plant is sacred to the Goddess of Love, whose symbol for the Celts was a honeybee. The letter is "Ura". which is the word for heather and also the representation of 'U', the central vowel in the Irish alphabet...just as Solstice is the center of the year. The colour of the tree is "Usghda" or "resin-coloured"...the colour of honey. So the energy of the day is "inner sweetness"..as the nectar is hidden at the center of theblossom, and the honey at the center of the comb, and the blooming of sunmmer at the center of the year, so does the energy of the Heather invoke the inner sweetness of the self and the inner magickal life.

The Summer Solstice
Here is the festival of Midsummer, when the King of the Land gives his power willingly over to the Lady, relinquishing His sovereignty that the Sun may begin to wane and the harvest ripen. Traditional lore speaks of the Oak King and the Holly King, rulers respectively of the Light and Dark halves of the year, and of their struggle for supremacy in a never-ending round where one repeatedly gives way to the other.The Sun moves from Gemini, whose duality represents the Two-faced God of the waxing and waning year, to Cancer, the Lady's sign, sign of Water, representative of the cooling and wetter weather which must occur for the harvest to be rich.The length of the day had been increasing since Spring Equinox, until now, in the northernmost provinces, the light was only gone from the Earth for five or six hours.

In the Celtic World, the cattle and sheep were fat with good grain, and the fields were rich with barley and oats to grind into flour.The people rested and feasted around the Midsummer bonfires, knowing the remainder of the growing season was in the hands of the Lady and the Lord.
Even today, the Summer Solstice is the traditional time for gathering the folk together. Covens and groves which have hived return to the Mother Coven at Midsummer, to see old friends and teachers and to celebrate the ongoing family ties which bind them. The practice of family reunions is another ancient folk custom which has transmuted itself into modern practice.
The alignment of the season is South and Southwest, and the directional correspondences are fire, fire of water ( warm rains and heavy, moist air ), fire of earth (ripe berries. vegetables and fruits), and earth of fire ( ripe grain).

The urban Witch does many of the same activities the ancestors did at this season...outdoor living, tending ripening crops in the garden, visiting relatives, remodeling and home repair to take advantage of the good weather. Magickally, we work in alignment with the Oak King, who voluntarily relinquishes His throne,  becoming thereby more able to understand the inner realities which structure His life. Magick at this season is about the other half of the witche's blade, the soul searching which is a necessary part of developing use of the Will which is in line with the Rede. Dreamwork, inner trance meditations, relinquishment of ideas, habits or associates which hinder growth, are all magical acts which are in tune with the season, one of change of focus, of realignment, of growth.

Green Man by firesilk

The word "Duir" which is the Irish Gaelic for the month of the Oak, is the same word which is the root of the English word "door." And this month is a gateway, a doorway to the second half of the year as well as an avatar of changes in mundane reality. Mythically, the Oak King, the Lord of the Waxing Year, relinquishes his domain to the Tanist, the Holly King, Lord of the Waning Year. The sun's path begins to decline in the Northern Hemisphere, making the days shorter and cooling temperatures so that the growing crops will ripen gently, not scorch and burn. The energy of the month is not only "change", but often "reversal", reminding us that a door opens both ways. The "door" of Duir, for a Witch, is the "doorway to the mysteries", the place where the oldest wisdom is to be obtained.
The physical characteristics of the Oak lend themselves to symbolic interpretation; the acorn from which the oak grows is a tiny seed which slowly and over many years produces one of the largest trees in the forest, which is a metaphor for the growth of wisdom; the wood of the Oak is among the strongest and most enduring of all woods, resisting corruption for centuries, as does truth; and the leaves, bark, acorns and ground sawdust of the oak may be used medicinally to cure various ailments, reinforcing the magickal idea of protection and wisdom.
The deity most closely associated with the Oak for the Celts was the Daghda, the "good God" who was the Father of the other Gods and whose legends bespeak great strength, sexual prowess, and the provision of never-ending bounty. It is interesting that the Old Irish spelling of his name, as above, is pronounced "Dada" like the child's word for "Father"...and in America and some other Western countries, Father's Day falls in the Oak month.
The Witch's journey in the Oak month is about "Strength and Protection", like the feeling we have when we are safely behind a solid oaken door. Magic to strengthen psychic defenses, erect wards around people or places, and search the inner mysteries under the protection of the Oak King, the Father God, are all successful during this month. Making of amulets and shields, or blessing one's own physical space against intruders, theft or other ill doings are also magics for this time.



The  Holly Moon is the mirror-image of the Oak Moon, following it and representing the second face of the Two-Faced God. Where the Oak Lord is protecting, wise, sheltering, like a "door", the Holly King is a "battle-waging spear," the fiery male force which brings direct action, conflict at its fiercest. The tree which was originally the symbol of this month was the Holly-Oak, or Holme-Oak, "the evergreen twin of the ordinary oak". ( Robert Graves) It was the symbolic tree of the Tanist, the heir-apparent to the King of the Land, whose symbol was the Oak, and the blood-red dye produced by the flowers of the holly-oak represents the custom that the heir was also the executioner of the Sacral King.

The energy of this moon is "Direct Action", like the straight shafts of the holly bush, which were strong enough for the Celts to use them as spears. The letter "t" in old Irish script is the shape of a spear, and the Tanist carried the spear with which he took the life of the Year King as a willing sacrifice. And during the Holly month, we celebrate the Sabbat of Lughnasadh, which is the wake of Lugh, the Sun King, who dies for the land at harvest time. 

In alignment with the energy of the moon, the urban witch realigns things during this moon, performing the sacrifice and regeneration of the God within hir own mundane and spiritual life. As the door opened upon the mysteries during the preceding month. so the Holly Moon brings actual suggestion of direct action needed to attain spiritual goals. Workings of cleansing, making of magickal defenses or weapons, dealing with confrontation and loss, tend to hapen during this month. As well, there is work of harvesting, cutting away old growth in the garden, mulching, and other mundane activities which reinforce the symbol of loss that will ultimately produce gain.



Photo by Elizabeth Stevens, KS

The God, Lugh the Sun King, has willingly given his life to the Goddess to preserve the land. Lughnasadh, also called Lammas ( loaf mass) is the first Harvest Festival, the celebration of the reaping of the grain, which is the body of the God. The ancient Celts made huge bonfires ( "bone fires") on the hills in honor of the death of the God and the waning of the year. During the festival of reaping, men and boys tried feats of strength with one another, including daring contests with swinging scythes, whose losing competitor might also find himself short an ear or finger.

In modern society, Lammas season is also the time of the county or State Fair, the time when the fruits, vegetables, grains and animals raised throughout the year are exhibited, and the cooking and baking which is created from these ingredients vies for prizes. The Teltown Games in Ireland were the first such fair, named after the mythic mother of Lugh, the Goddess Taltiu. During the games races, contests of strength and skill, and the baking and cooking contests we know in American fairs, all take place to commemorate Lugh, who was called the Many-Skilled ( Samildanach) and was good at everything. "Teltown marriages" which last a year and a day, to be dissolved by mutual consent at the same place they were solemnized, are another reminder of the constant flux of the cycle of the year. 

Astrologically, the sign of Leo, lion of summer's heat, gives way to Virgo, the woman who harvests the grain, as the God gives his life to the Goddess. The directional alignment of the season turns from South to southwest, and the correspondences are water of fire, for the thunderstorms which often follow the harvest, earth, for the harvested crops, and earth of fire, for the stubble and dry land which is left in the wake of the harvest. The Witch begins to "harvest" the results of earlier magicks, assessing the year and finding the last things to finish before the year draws to a close at Samhain. The festival of Lughnasadh is both a celebration and a valediction, and we find ourselves remembering things which commenced in the spring, sometimes with joy at their success, and sometimes with sorrow as we let them go.

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