June contains a great turning pointing in the year as the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, pauses there for a moment on June 21st and then begins the descent back towards Autumn and Winter. The date was marked by our farming ancestors as a date to remember that all would turn again to darkness and perhaps also spur on the preparations for harvest.
I like to feel the traditions running through our calendar year. It reminds me of the inexorable march of time and that unfailingly, this too will pass.
I like too the idea of tradition bringing us back to the land and our ancestors: to place my own feet into and onto the shallow template holes trod down on the mud encrusted earth, reminding me of all those who have walked the path before us.
In her book Almanac, Lia Leendertz writes:
“Throughout Britain and Europe bonfires have long been lit as the sun set on Midsummers Eve in the streets, on the hills and on farmland. These wide spread celebrations generally had three common features: bonfires, torchlit processions and the rolling of a burning wheel. Bones and rubbish were burned to create smoke to drive away bad spirits and midsummer fires had a magical quality. Cattle would be driven through them and young men would leap over them for luck. Long-burning kitchen hearth fires would be put out and re kindled using burning branches from the midsummer fire as if to hold on to the height of summer and to stave away the coming dark for as long as possible. And the burning wheels would be driven down hills by whooping boys directly representing the sun making its descent and to fatalistic applause from gathered onlookers: if it is going to happen, let’s send it on it way in style”
Way to go folks!
Tonight why not set a fire and make a party to mark the turning of the year?