A gentle breeze. A radiant, sun-kissed feeling of warmth. The fragrance of jasmine. Cue "Summer Breeze" by Seals & Croft. No matter where you live on this Earth, the grace and growth of Midsummer — also known as Litha — heralds a time of reflective ritual. Solstice is not the beginning of summer. Rather, it is a midpoint, the longest day of experienced light before the gradual decline into darkness. This year, the northernmost path of our star occurs in the Northern Hemisphere on June 20, 2021, at 1:44 p.m. MST.
We have reached a moment in time where all five of our senses are illuminated. Flavors are bursting forth from crops, aromas tantalize the wind, forest dwellers lull us to sleep with their nocturnal voices, epic sunsets and wildflowers stir our souls, and our sense of aliveness is bountiful!
Yellow and orange flowers that thrive in full sun are often associated with this time of year. We connect qualities of strength, courage, fertility, and abundance to our solar plexus as homage to our external source of life: the sun.
"Keep your face to the sunshine…" – Walt Whitman
How Are Herbs Used in Summer Solstice?
Herbs have long been used as a representation of Litha, enlivening the bonfires with sacrament and aroma. The art of gifting herbal bundles and baskets to loved ones and neighbors has been practiced for thousands of years. Aromatic herbs are also strewn in torches around homes and used as decorations for festivals and as wearable wreaths and adornments during celebrations. They are not only pleasing to the beholder, but also a tangible form of medicine matured in nurturing potency that provides healing during the darker times ahead.
Herbs commonly associated with Litha include rose, St. John's wort, mugwort, plantain, lambs cress, nettle, betony, chamomile, thyme, fennel, sage, mints, calendula, elderflower, meadowsweet, and verbena. No matter which herbs flourish during solstice near you, when gathered in humbled respect and given to ceremony with honor, you will be performing the magic and glory of sunshine.
"The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world's joy." – Henry Ward Beecher
Solstice Spotlight: Rose
Rosa rugosa, R. damascena, R. centifolia, R. gallica, Rosacea family
Roses delight our eyes, gladden our hearts, and lift our spirits. They flourish in full sun and peak under the fullness of Litha. They reflect the bright, vivid, radiant abundance of our solar star. Collecting roses as offerings and ornamentations for ritual and festival is immemorial. This sunshine-delivered plant ally helps us restore balance in the heat of the day, offering nourishment for our nervous system and enhancing our mood. Deb Soule of Avena Botanicals recommends rose to soothe, calm, and comfort an unsettled and grieving heart, sharing that they gently open the heart and mind and inspire a feeling of love and compassion for oneself and others. With such a gift, it's no wonder roses are offered today to show our love and sympathy and to pay homage and adoration to the seasons and each other.
Solstice Spotlight: Sage
Salvia officinalis, Labiatae (Lamiaceae) family
Sage is present in many solstice celebrations, as this genus includes about 900 species distributed throughout the world. Peak bloom is from May to June, culminating with the full height of our sun's power. Like the sun itself, sage is known for its warm, dry qualities. As the sun can remove excess liquids from the surface of the earth, so can common garden sage (Salivia officinalis) support the body in remedies for tissue states of excess. When tradition calls for offering tribute to our sun, sacred sage is often the representative of the fire element and outward expression of life's bounty and blessing.
In recent times, our zeal to partner with one species of this family — white sage (Salvia apiana) — has caused harm. A call to action and stewardship has been sounded. To learn more about cultural appropriation and the ethics of partnering with this ancient ally, visit United Plant Savers.
Solstice Herbal Honey Recipe
As we celebrate pollinator month, try infusing honey with garden sage and rose. Honey's ability to preserve the potency of an herb is hard to surpass! Much gratitude and honor are due to Natures' true herbalists: Apis mellifica, the honeybees. This remedy will support relief of hoarseness and respiratory congestion while providing a potent dose of vitamin C and the sweetness of Midsummer by the spoonful!
- Raw local honey
- Dried rose petals
- Dried garden sage (Saliva officinalis)
- Mason jar
- Fill a sterile mason jar halfway to the top with the herbs.
- Pour raw honey on top, pushing the herbs down with a chopstick.
- Seal and set in a sunny window.
- Turn over once daily.
- Fill with more honey as needed (herbs tend to absorb the honey and you will want to keep them covered).
- Strain after 1-4 weeks, according to taste.
*Tip: infuse daily with love and gratitude for the sun!
Solstice Rituals to Try:
This year, feel a Midsummer's dream of gratitude and bounty as you reacquaint yourself to the life-giving relationship between our sun and the Earth.
- Sip an iced herbal tea and relax, realizing all that is meant to thrive does so with the everlasting nurturance of our beloved star, the sun.
- Gather in ritual song and dance.
- Light a bonfire and toss aromatic herbs as an offering: thyme, verbena, mint, sage, and/or mugwort.
- Practice storytelling.
- Watch the solstice sunrise.
- Watch the solstice sunset.
- Meditate: let the roots of our plant allies ground you in grace and abundance.
- Gather the ash from your solstice bonfire and spread it in your garden to enhance fertilization and increase yield.
- Build a fairy house.
- Participate in a ceremony at a stone circle, monolith, or sacred well.
- Write or sing an ode to the sun.
- Earth Day: Ripples That Create Waves
- Herbalism and Outdoor Nature Activities for Kids
- Sustaining Plants for a Sustainable Future
- Something to Bee Hopeful About
- A Day With Bear Root (Osha)
Dawn Amber Miller has apprenticed and studied across the United States of America and has received certificates in traditional and medical herbalism from the Appalachia School of Holistic Herbalism, the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism, and the Hawthorn Institute. She is a passionate steward of the sacred realm of Nature and moves with the wildflowers, tending the rituals of wildcrafting heart and hand. Currently she is a customer journey representative at WishGarden Herbs.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.