Witchcraft + Weeds : Healing + Magickal Practices for Summer
The longest day of the year approaches in the northern hemisphere. Known by many names including the Summer Solstice, Midsummer, Litha, and Alban Hefin, it's a time of heat and long picnics, bonfires and dancing.
The fields and forests are full of green and plant life. Trees are abundant with leaves and offer shade to revelers and Good Folk. The air is heady with the whispered charms of love spells. My days are spent in the garden and wild places harvesting and wildcrafting plants. The long summer nights find me at my altar with a cup of sun tea.
The Summer Solstice marks the turning of the wheel from the mutable air sign of Gemini to the cardinal water sign of Cancer. The tightly wound energy of late spring give way to the languid calm of summer. Spend time be-ing instead of do-ing. Pursue activities that will leave you full of good memories. Drink fresh water, water-rich foods, and herbal infusions with seasonal fruits and plants.
Body System Focus : Stomach, Intestines + Heart
or Nourish Yourself + Love Freely
Within the four elements system of traditional western herbalism (I write more about TWH energetics over here), the season of summer is the transformation of air into fire, or moisture into heat and dryness. Our bodies are moving from the frenetic expanse of spring and its sudden growth to the settling maturation of summer heat. It's time to move from the what might be of spring into the what is right now of summer. Make yourself cooling concoctions from herbs that protect against the hardening and scorching heat of choleric energies. Find plants that encourage healthy digestion of the vast array of seasonal food that summer provides. Our weedy plant allies of Midsummer tend to be cooling and tonifying to the heart. But they are also about directing our fire in ways that are of benefit to us, such as strengthening our digestive fire or directing our passionate energy and desirous dreams into fruitful relationships.
Summer weeds are sturdy and often cooling and sedating in nature - just what our bodies need during this time of heightened heat and dryness. While many spring herbs have come and gone (their dried out stalks turning golden in fields and abandoned lots), a whole new bunch of summer herbs are entering into their prime. Enjoying foraged weeds as food and medicine is an amazing way to connect with the season and practice self-care. If you want to learn more about the healing properties of weeds, I highly recommend checking out The Wise Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival by Katrina Blair.
If you're struggling to settle into summer, check out the healing gifts of Cancer the Crab to help you find your summer flow.
Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris) : This tall-growing herb with pretty purple flowers can be found throughout California and the Malva species is naturalized around the world. Mallow is a mucilaginous herb meaning that it is moistening making it a great choice for addressing conditions of dryness and inflammation. Use the nutritious leaves in place of spinach when cooking for a vitamin rich meal.
Wild Chamomile (Matricaria discoidea) : Also known as Pineappleweed, Wild Chamomile is a fragrant relative of the Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) commonly used in traditional western herbalism. Wild Chamomile can be used in similar ways to Matricaria chamomilla as a digestive aid and is gently sedating, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic in nature. It makes a delicious tea whether enjoyed hot or cold. It's sun-bright flowers have a doctrine of signatures associated with the Sun which is the guardian planet of Leo. Leo guards the heart and I find all Chamomiles to be cheering and uplifting to the heart and spirit.
St. Joan's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) : An herb long associated with Midsummer, St. Joan's Wort (more commonly known as St. John's Wort) is an herb of the heart and love in all forms. one of the most common uses of St. Joan’s Wort is for alleviating depression. While it's not entirely clear how St. Joan’s Wort works, recent studies have shown that it does have antidepressant qualities without the side-effects of pharmaceutical alternatives. In general, the herb is a fantastic restorative of the nervous system, helping to calm and steady us. St. Joan's Wort oil is an excellent after-sun treatment for burns and general heatstroke. For any magickal or medicinal use Midsummer is considered the most powerful time to gather the herb.
Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris) : Self-heal is a beautiful plant that cools and repairs. It's a bit of a panacea and I've found it to be useful for many conditions in which stagnant heat is a problem. Self-Heal helps to relieve irritability and traditional use for all complaints of the throat. It is gently immunostimulating, too. I love using the flower essence to help connect with my own healing abilities and to remember to be brave enough to choose wellness.
Vervain (Verbena hastata) : Overheated, stressed with a knotted stomach, and feeling anxious are all signs that Vervain may be of use. The herb can be a great ally to those for whom the heat of summer is just too much (especially if you tend to be more tightly wound - which is considered a condition of dryness - to begin with). I like using Vervain for those who tension shows up in their neck, shoulders, and stomach. The cooling blue plant can help us to appreciate the fact that the shade is a perfectly fine place to enjoy the summer weather from and that we don't have to be something that we're not.
Sacred Basil (Ocimum sanctum) Flower Essence : Basil is an herb of dragon magick and the fire dragons abound during the summer season. With dragon magick we learn how to direct our will, manifest our dreams with life-giving heat, and protect the fire of our hearts. Sacred Basil is a manifestation of the Goddess Lakshmi within Hindu tradition and I find the essence to be healing to all levels of our being. The essence helps us to integrate what we've learned so far on our journey through life - a perfect ally for the illuminating light of summer!
Summer is the time of maturing energies and the vigor that comes with growth and development. It's a time to revel in your personal power and fall in love again with your magick. The long days allow for greater freedom of movement on all levels from whether it be physical, emotional, mental or spiritual. Summer is a time to test your skills and ideas developed during the spring. Dive in and go on an adventure! Below I've shared with you three paths of summer magick that I practice so that I can live my magick with bravery and integrity during the brightest season of the year.
3 Paths of Summer Magick
Opening Up : We open up to the blossoming heat of summer into the peak of our power. Rituals include all forms of fire and candle magick to bless yourself and your home with abundance and protection; magick at dawn with the rising sun; leaping over bonfires and passing sacred items through flame; communing with local land spirits and leaving them offerings; inviting in abundance; awakening to new forms of ancient wisdom; celebrating what you have learned so far in life; dancing, laughing, and sharing good food with others; making a vow of service to your community; divination to help you open up to new possibilities about who you are and your life path.
Opening Up Meditation : Lay on the ground (or in an alternatively open position that is comfortable for you) and visualize that you are breathing through every pore of your skin. After a few minutes of this expansive form of breathing, feel your heart begin to blossom open with a thousand petals until your whole being is one big bloom.
Taking Risks : We take risks and face our fears so that we can grow as magickal beings. Rituals include shadow work (for long days cast long shadows); fear-breaking charms; doing that thing which you've been putting off doing; choosing to be seen and heard by others; finally trying out a type of magick that you've hesitated to do before; cord-cutting from relationships and ways of thinking that you've been afraid to cut out of your life; self-blessings in private and self-blessings in community because it is a radical act to love all of your being.
Taking Risks Meditation : Begin in a position of tension, curled into your self, and with your eyes tightly shut. Listen for your heartbeat. Though you may be afraid to risk it, your heart is still brave enough to beat in a way that no other heart can. Begin to loosen the tightness of your body. Stretch out slowly, keeping your eyes closed. Move gently, loosely, freely. Give your heart space to beat. Give yourself space to try something new. With this in mind bring your hands to your heart and open your eyes.
Being Love(d) : We choose love in all of it's forms because we deserve to love and be loved in return. Rituals include enchantments of love, self-love, aromantic friendship, asexual romance, deeply erotic love, sensual love, family love, community love, and more; tell the ones you love nine times in one day; use the power of fire to transform any energy that comes your way into love; speak poetry and sing songs; have sex and make love (preferably outdoors); learn new pleasurable ways to touch your body and the body of your lovers; work exclusively with God/dess/es of love for a full cycle of the Moon; handfast yourself or get handfasted to your lover(s); invite in new possibilities for love and self-love; perform a ritual skyclad as a sign that you are free and loved fiercely.
Being Love(d) Meditation : Stand before a mirror. Close your eyes and breath deep. When ready, open your eyes and while looking at yourself say your name nine times. Holding your gaze, say "I love you" and your name nine times. Finish by saying "I love you" a final nine times.
Energizing Crystal Grid
Something about the summer always inspires me to create crystal grids (and swamp tea). I think it's the intuitive desire to store up the energy of the season for the darker parts of the year. My Energizing Crystal Grid does just that - captures summertime energy to be tapped into for magick and healing many months after the season has passed.
You'll need eight clear quartz crystal points (citrine is a good alternative, but trust your intuition). I like to use a tarot card or image from a book as my foundation as the sacred symbols will add magickal intent to your grid. My crystal grid pictured above, for example, was made with an image of The Fool card so that I could tap into the fiery willpower of summer at any time of the year when I wanted to start a new project (you can get a copy of the book here). A card or image is not necessary and a plain surface for your grid is more than magickal enough.
Place your crystals in a circle with the points facing outwards. Take a deep breath and hold your hands above the grid. Visualize the energy of summer flowing down through your crown, through your heart and arms, and out your hands into the grid. Repeat the following charm again and again as the energy flows:
For every season a stone -
Energy of summer
Make your home!
When it feels right and the energy is flowing powerfully, clap your hands above the grid three times. Let your grid rest undisturbed for at least six days (the magickal number of the Sun) at which point you can move the stones and keep them in a sacred space until they are needed again. You can either set up the grid again as needed for spellwork or use individual stones as little energizing batteries for your magick.