Celebrating Summer Solstice with the Kings and Queen of the Woods

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Summer solstice is an extraordinary time of celebration in Europe, people have been celebrating it for thousands of years. It marks the official start of summer, reminds us to reconnect with nature, and reflect on the cycle of death and rebirth.

In the UK, summer solstice is synonymous with Stonehenge; most of us are familiar with the images of young and old, spiritual and otherwise, all flocking to the ancient monument to watch the sunrise.

But what if you live too far away from Stonehenge? What if you don’t enjoy the large crowds? What can a solitary and green witch like you do to celebrate the coming of summer?

Give Thanks to the Kings of the Wood

In Celtic mythology the British woodland is ruled by two kings; the Oak King and the Holly King. At midsummer, the Oak King’s leaves are full and green; they dominate the woodland and so the Holly King is overshadowed.

Summer solstice marks the change in power; as the Oak King’s leaves begin to fail, the evergreen Holly King grows stronger each day.

Oak trees support more life forms than any other UK tree. They are home to hundreds of insect species, supplying birds with an important food source. In autumn, animals such as squirrels, badgers, and deer feed on the acorns.

A simple way to celebrate summer solstice is to take a walk in the British countryside and woodlands; find yourself an oak tree and take time to stand beneath its broad, spreading crown. Lay your hand upon its bark and give thanks for all it has done and continues to do for our ecosystem.

Meet the Queen of the Woods

To balance the masculine energies of the Oak King and Holly King, the woodland also has a queen; the beech tree. Known as both the Queen of the Woods and Mother of the Woods, the beech tree is synonymous with nurturing, abundance, and wisdom. She is considered sacred to the sun as her leaves turn on their stalks to face the sun as it moves across the sky

The Beech Queen nurtures life around her; her wide-spread canopy creates a deep shade during the summer months, and a dense carpet of fallen leaves about her feet mean only specialist and shade-loving plants can grow beneath her awning. Her large root-system benefit the plants that grow around her by helping to circulate air through the soil.

On the longest day of the year, when the sun is hot and high, visiting the shade of the Beech Queen will provide you with a much-needed respite. Take time to sit or stand beneath the tree with your back against the bark. Try to connect with the spirit or dryard of the Queen Beech.

Collect and Cook Beech Nuts

Another attribute of the Beech Queen is abundance, mostly notably her plentiful supply of nuts. Beech nuts provide food for wild deer and are still fed to pigs.

If you’re a green witch or kitchen witch looking to celebrate summer solstice in an unusual way, consider collecting beech nuts to cook.

In the past, beech nuts have been a valuable food source for people during times of hardship. The nuts are high in fat and protein. They can be ground and mixed into flour to make breads, or roasted and used in soups.

Be aware; beech nuts should be cooked before eating! Eating them raw can result in stomach problems because of a toxin contained in the nut. Do your research before adding them to your solstice meal.

Let the Beech Heal You

The beech tree has been used in healing rituals since ancient times. The leaves were used in poultices to reduce swelling, sooth burns, and heal scabs. The tar was used to treat eczema and psoriasis. The bark can be used to make tea that allegedly reduces fever.

If you have a physical or emotional pain from which you are struggling to heal, collect leaves from the beech tree and put them under your mattress to help speed up the healing process.

Magical Properties of the Beech and Oak

If you would like to work more with the beech and oak during this magickal time of year, here is some information:

BEECH

Element:Fire
Sacred to:Mercury, Minerva, Lugh, Ogma, Belenos, sun, solar plexus chakra
Lends itself to magical related to:Solar, positive magic, enchantment of creativity, learning, search for information.

OAK

Element:Fire
Sacred to:Leo, sun, Center, Ogma, Hu, Arthur, Belenos, Apollo
Lends itself to magical related to:Leadership, wise rule, personal sovereignty, authority,
power, protection, creation, ambition, passion, rebirth, harvest, healing.


Article written by Victoria Snaith

Victoria is a magick wand maker. Her work has been inspired by the magickal properties and folk lore surround the trees with which she works. All her wands sourced from the ancient woodland where she lives. Victoria cuts the wood herself, dries it, and creates the wands. Victoria says, “Each piece of wood is different, as is each tree, resulting in a wand just as unique as you. I’ve devoted years to learning about the magickal properties of the wood I use.” You can find Victoria’s exclusive Mamma Gaia wand collection from July 2021.

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