On the Calendar
This is a month filled with sunlight and long days. Before the high heat arrives, there is a brief period of time to enjoy the soft side of summer. Tending a garden or taking a long walk in nature helps us tune into the rhythms of the green world when life is at its fullest. The month of June was named for the Roman goddess Juno. Because she was considered a goddess of marriage, June became a popular month in which to tie the knot or jump the broomstick.
On the Calendar
June 10: The Celtic Month of Oak Begins
Oaks live for many centuries and are bound up with human history. They were considered especially sacred to the Greeks and Romans, who associated them with their most powerful gods. In the British Isles, the Celtic god Bilé and the Druids are very closely linked with this tree. According to legend, King Arthur’s roundtable was made from oak, and Sherwood Forest with its massive Major Oak is linked with Robin Hood.
Black Oak (Quercus velutina)
White Oak (Q. alba)
These two types of oak trees are some of the most common in North America. The black oak’s leaves have pointed lobes tipped with tiny bristles. The white oak’s are rounded and smooth. The acorns of the black oak take two years to mature; the white oak’s acorns mature in one year.
The genus name Quercus comes from the Celtic quer, meaning “fine,” and cuez, “tree.” 55 This is quite fitting, as oaks are very large, stately trees that exude powerful energy. While fresh acorns won’t be available until late summer or early autumn, leaves and bark are just as effective for magic work and ritual.
Oak leaves in the home help clear away negative energy, and when used on the altar in ritual they represent the potency of the God. For healing and seeking wisdom, hold a piece of bark between your hands and visualize your desired outcome. Also use a piece of bark to help ground energy after ritual. Dry a small twig with leaves and hang it in your kitchen to invite abundance into your home. Leaves placed under the bed aids fertility and virility. To add power to spells, make a cross by tying two bare twigs together with black thread, which will draw elemental balance along with the strength of the oak. In addition, the associated ogham or runes can be carved into a brown candle to represent the oak.
Oak is associated with the elements air, earth, and fire. Its astrological influence comes from Jupiter and the sun. This tree is associated with the Green Man and the following deities: Artemis, Apollo, Ares, Balder, Bilé, Brigid, Ceres, Cernunnos, Cerridwen, Cybele, the Dagda, Demeter, Diana, Dôn, Hades, Helios, Hera, Jupiter, Mars, the Morrigan, Odin, Pan, Perun, Pluto, Rhea, Thor, and Zeus.
Figure 17. Oak is associated with the ogham Duir and the runes
Ehwaz, Jera, Raido, Thurisaz, and Teiwaz (shown left to right).
June 21/22: Summer Solstice/Litha
Summer Solstice falls midway between the two equinoxes. This sabbat is also referred to as Litha from the Anglo-Saxon phrase Aerra Litha, which means “before midsummer.” 56 This solstice marks the longest day of the year when the sun reaches its farthest point north. Litha is a celebration of the Goddess in full motherhood and the God who is at his pinnacle of power. Herbs and flowers gathered at this time were considered particularly potent.
Place flowers and sun symbols on your solstice altar. To symbolize the vitality of the Green Man, include oak leaves. The oak tree shares the dual kingship of the green world with holly. Representing the light and dark halves of the year, the oak king and holly king trade places at the solstices. Although the Celtic tree month of oak has just begun, this is the solstice when the holly king begins his reign. Even though there are many long, bright summer days ahead, the sun begins its journey away from the Northern Hemisphere.
June 23: Midsummer’s Eve
Up until the eighteenth century in rural England, it was customary to light bonfires on hilltops on this night to celebrate the long summer days. When the fires died down, people would leap over them for the symbolic purification of smoke. Because witches and fairies were believed to be particularly active on this night, bundles of Saint John’s wort and rowan were tied with ribbon and tossed onto the bonfire to raise protective energy. Garlands of Saint John’s wort, plantain, and yarrow were also burned for protection against evil spirits. In place of bonfires, lamps were placed in windows surrounded by flowers and kept lit all night.
June 24: Midsummer’s Day
Midsummer’s Day was a major festival day to celebrate the abundance and mystery of nature. One form of divination on this day was for a woman to pick a handful of grass with her eyes closed. The number of daisies pulled up with the grass indicated the number of years before marriage, or if she was married, the number of children she would have.
In another form of love divination, a flower of Saint John’s wort was plucked on Midsummer’s Eve and if it was still fresh and not wilted in the morning, marriage prospects were good. In addition, this was considered a good time to dowse for water. Midsummer also marked the time of year when Druids performed the fabled rite of cutting mistletoe when it was at its height of vigorous growth.
Under the category of “if you can’t beat them, join them,” the feast of Saint John was a Christian substitute for the celebrations that were centered on this time of year. The counterparts to Saint John’s Day and summer solstice are Christmas and the winter solstice. In essence, Jesus and Saint John took the place of the oak and holly kings.