On the Calendar
Shimmering waves of heat rise skyward during the day, and night does not always bring cooling relief. July brings us into high summer, a time to have fun outdoors and enjoy the splendor of the green world. Although there are no sabbats this month, there is magic aplenty with so many plants growing and blooming. Originally called quintilis, meaning “the fifth month,” the name of this month was changed by Julius Caesar to honor himself.65
On the Calendar
July 3: The Dog Days of Summer
This day traditionally marks the beginning of the dog days of summer, which extend to mid August. These hot days are so named for Sirius, the Dog Star. The name Sirius comes from Greek and means “scorching” or “searing.” 66 In ancient times, this star rose just before the sun during the hottest period of the year.
*Also known as beach rose, dagger rose, dog briar, wild briar, and witches’ briar
This thicket-forming shrub can reach six to eight feet tall. Its arching stems are studded with hooked thorns that help it climb up anything that is nearby. The pointed, oval leaflets have toothed edges, and are greener than garden roses. The five-petaled flowers are white to pale pink and lightly scented. The plant produces scarlet rosehips in the autumn. Dog rose can be found along sunny roadsides, edges of woodlands and meadows, hedges, and along beaches.
A signal of summer, this simple rose is not the highly fragranced flower extolled by Middle Eastern poets or swooned over by the Victorians. However, what it may lack in fragrance and beauty, it makes up medicinally. Roman physician and botanist Pliny the Elder (23—79 CE) praised its use for many ailments, and it is still widely used in herbal remedies. In the Middle Ages rosehips were carried as a charm against certain diseases. According to folklore, the devil was said to be mortally afraid of roses.
This lovely old-fashioned rose is also a little powerhouse for magic. Enamored with roses in general, fairies are said to enjoy dog rose thickets. Plant one in your garden to invite their blessings. No matter where you find a dog rose, leave an offering underneath it for the fairies.
Hold a leaf or flower between your hands while you ground and center your energy before divination. Also do this before bed to encourage prophetic dreams.
Dog rose is associated with the element water and with fairies.
July 8: The Celtic Month of Holly Begins
Although we associate holly with winter, it comes into flower at this time of year. Flowers produce the bright berries that we love to use for our Yule altars. Now that summer solstice has passed, this tree takes over kingship from oak as the year begins to wane. In the past, it was believed unlucky to take holly indoors except at Yule. In addition, it was considered very unlucky to cut down a living holly tree.