I woke up this morning aware that we're only a few weeks out from Litha, the longest day of the year. Here in my corner of the myth-crammed MidAtlantic, the period from Yule to Imbolc seems very long, and then, from Imbolc until Beltane, although things speed up, it seems as if I still spend much of the time looking, hoping, dreaming, wishing: focused on every tiny sign of Spring, turning the appearance of a single snowdrop or a haze of green on the bleached-bone frames of the beech trees into a cause for celebration. And then, ABRACADABRA, it's here and time seems to speed by.
It's likely my Swedish ancestors dancing the spiral dance in my DNA, but I have to admit that I love, best of all, these long, long, long sunlit days. In Sweden, I read once, no one sleeps when the sun near the Arctic Circle stay up in the sky all day. People have late picnics in the woods and gather berries and get in boats to row across to Denmark to get beer. I don't really care whether or not it's "factual"; in my cosmology, it's "true" and I've picked those berries and rowed those boats often and often sitting at my altar or knitting sweaters in the dark of deep Winter. Something about Litha connects me deeply to that place where "I've" never been.
This time of year is, as well, an amazing time to just sit out in the evening and enjoy the garden. The voodoo lilies are just finishing up. The magnolias that worried me so and over which I did so much magic are in bloom, an embarrassment of lemon, vanilla, and gloss. The herbs are almost out of control. The Dutch iris have replaced the bearded iris. The astilbe is a white, lacy froth of abundance; the gardenias are still going strong, and the day lilies have giant buds that will open any day now. I should have lilies -- Casa Blanca and Adios Nonino -- in a few more days.
Soon, too soon, the days will start to get a bit shorter, but the daisies and black-eyed susans will show up, the sunflowers will exult, and the purple obedient flowers will make the bees and hummingbirds happy.
And then, and then, but, no, I'm not going to go there -- yet.
For now, I'm going to sit in my twilit garden, smell the magnolias and gardenias, listen to the birds, watch the wisteria bushes creep towards each other on the top of the garden shed, and store all of this up. It's an old magic that I do, creating the ability to get myself through those hard-as-iron February days when I've seen nothing blooming for months and I know that I still have a ways to go. I'll release them the way you release any spell from the magic bottle into which you crammed and stoppered it, set aside for when it's needed.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."