St John’s Tide
St. John’s Tide marks the Midsummer Festival or Summer Solstice. It is the turning point of the year – the longest day and shortest night in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the mirror opposite of Christmas, or Winter Solstice.
At the Summer Solstice, or St. John’s Tide, the Earth is breathing out to her fullest. We may be drawn to spend as much time outdoors as possible, working with the earth and animals, enjoying campfires and BBQs, swimming, boating and fishing, and savoring the summer breezes of the forest, mountains and the sea.
The gnomes rise, the seed babies awaken and bloom, and the new crops are abundant. The promise of new life, that was born in the Spring, is coming to maturity both in the outer world and within. We may spend time gazing at the bright summer stars and wondering how and why we are connected with them. We may be drawn to spontaneous singing and dancing!
In ancient times, the Midsummer Festival centered around building a great bonfire, and as it died down, young men and women would jump over it to purify themselves.
According to the book, “All Year Round”, Midsummer Day is an excellent day to eat outside, to cook food over an open fire, and use edible flowers as part of the meal. Nature tables at this time of the year often include bees, gold spirals, and hanging suns. Some people celebrate by hanging a bouquet of coneflowers on their front door, leaving a light on all night long, or by bringing in sunflowers for a corner of the room.
St John’s Tide is marked at the Vancouver Waldorf School by a day of fun and merriment. Games, activities, and music are planned for the students as they wrap up their final week of school, before leaving for their summer vacation. It is a high point in the year, when studies are put aside and joyous celebration is taken up.
Upon this night, we settle about—our hopes rising like the patient moon.
We are one, a flame reaching towards heaven, touching the wind.
Our work is still before us as the journey calls, our lives are not embers, but sparks spiraling northward like tiny nymphs.
We dance among the trees in silence finding the light as it spreads across the fields, out against a screen of sky, flumes of smoke flicker and throw back the grey veil of our dreams, for it is in the heat of our hearts, we are passing the torch to another world and leaping across the fire into the future.
~Timothy James Warman