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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Solstice, St Johnswort

June 21st is the summer solstice and it is time to celebrate the peak of the season with all its life and energy. click here for a neat post about summer solstice rituals and ways to use symbolism as a means to connect with the sun, the source of our light.

A solstice is when the rays of the sun directly strike one of the two tropical latitudes. There's 24 hours of daylight at the North Pole and areas north of 66°30' N, and there's 24 hours of darkness at the South Pole and areas south of 66°30' S. The equator receives twelve hours of daylight.
This marks the start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and also their longest day of sunlight. The Southern Hemisphere begins their winter along with their shortest day of sunlight.

Traditionally the summer solstice was known as "midsummer", but our modern society now uses it as the first official day of summer.
The word solstice derives from the Latin sol sistere - "sun stand still". The sun is associated with life and the first harvest of crops has always been a reason to celebrate.

Prior to Christianity, pagan celebrations were very symbolic throughout many traditions and cultures.
Fire was seen as an honor to the sun and symbolically encouraged and strengthened it.
Stonehenge on Wiltshire has an entranceway aligned with the solstice sunrise and is a popular gathering point for modern druids and others on midsummer's day.

Shakespeare's play "A Midsummer Night's Dream" has Oberon and Titania as the fairy king and queen. Such spirits were thought to make an appearance on the solstice.

Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings" celebrates the marriage of Aragorn and Arwen in Minas Tirith on midsummer's day.

In the Christian faith, the summer solstice is close to the feast day of St. John the Baptist.
Combining the pagan and Christian celebrations was the result of the early church's attempts to put a stop to the pagan festivals. The people continued to celebrate them regardless of the church's efforts, therefore the solution was to substitute Christian meanings and Saints to the holidays and continue to celebrate them.
Therefore, the celebration of the summer solstice became the Festival of St. John the Baptist and the celebration of the winter solstice became the Festival of St. John the Evangelist.

St. Johnswort is a summer solstice-blooming yellow wildflower that blooms around June 21st here in the Northeast. The buds and flowers contain hypericin, a treasure responsible for the plants healing powers. You know you have the correct plant if the buds bleed red when squeezed.
St. Johnswort oil is used for nerve related conditions, sore muscles, abrasions and as a sunburn remedy.

St. Johnswort herbal infusions result in a wonderful red healing oil used extensively in natural remedies.

Below are three such remedies utilizing this wonderful plant.
The listings below will take you into the site or you can find them at

Sunburn and Minor Burn Care Salve can significantly aid in healing damaged skin and help prevent the likelihood of peeling, but if you suspect your burn is deeper than first degree consult your physician before treating it yourself.

This St. Johnswort based salve is also wonderful for your pets. Not all breeds have the skin protection of thick body fur and are susceptible to sun burn. Very healing for those tender noses and ears if over exposed to the sun. Check with your veterinarian before using on cats. Essential oils can be toxic to a cat's liver if ingested.

First step is to cool the damaged skin with wet, cold compresses. Once the burn is cool, it is ok to apply applications of this soothing salve. You don't want to apply it before the skin is completely cooled or you'll be trapping in the heat. The advantage of a salve is that it stays put and provides protective coverage without needing a bandage, therefore the burn has needed exposure to the open air.

Radiation cancer treatment usually results in reddened, painful skin at the site of the exposure. The healing, anti-inflammatory properties of this herbal salve can help relieve and heal such irritation.

An herbal anti-inflammatory liniment can be very effective at relieving the swelling, discoloration and pain resulting from strains, sprains or chronic inflammatory conditions.

St. Johnswort helps you recover when your nerves are inflamed or damaged, as this herb is a nervous system relaxant.
For sore, stiff muscles, St. Johnswort acts as a cellular oxygenator that helps remove lactic acid build-up in muscles and can release nerve tension.

Herbs and essential oils work as a team to help relieve pain during the healing process of bruised and strained muscles or to help manage chronic conditions with or without the use of prescription medication.

That time of the month can easily be describes as mensus misery.  St. Johnswort infused in sweet almond oil combines with an essential oil blend for a very relaxing abdominal, back or legs massage oil to help relax the tight muscle cramping associated with PMS.