This post is by Nancy Jardine.
I can hardly believe it’s come around again but we’re back to the Summer Solstice which means a very long day and a very short night for me in Aberdeenshire, in north east Scotland. I always find it quite amazing that although astronomically it’s the longest day of the year, the hottest days of summer have yet to come (if they actually do) as the summer season wanes.
Sunrise was at 04.12 hrs today and the sunset will be at 22.08 hrs. That means a night time of around 6 hours and sometimes it never really gets properly dark. A strong moon in a cloudless sky often means that it’s still possible to move around the countryside during those few hours because the night-deep darkness is banished to another time.
The Neolithic ancients who lived in this part of the world must have loved a cloudless sky since it would have made their fire ceremonies even more impressive. Celebrating the sun god was a way of life for many ancient cultures who lived at a time when the wonders of nature needed some explanation that the people could understand. Fire was central to their festivals and a torch lit procession to their place of ritual is thought to have been common. Stacked fires lighting up the dusk would have added to the strength of the sun god and were additionally thought to drive out evil and bring fertility to the crops, livestock and people in a similar way to during the Beltane Ceremonies of May 1st.
Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of fires having been lit at bases of the stones of the ancient standing stone circles around Aberdeenshire ( like at the Loanhead of Daviot around 9 miles from where I live) though we can only guess at what really happened there since the site was also used as a cremation ‘graveyard’.
Traditionally the earliest inhabitants of my area would probably have celebrated around the solstice of the 21st. It’s thought that the fires were lit the night before the solstice and were kept alight through the long day and into the night of the 21st. People would probably have taken time out from their subsistence farms to travel to one of the stone circles, on foot, so making a two- night long celebration of it seems to be reasonable to me!
Tonight rain is predicted so I’ll not be out in my garden lighting bonfires or dancing around my tiny standing stone circle – naked or otherwise as some people like to think happened. If the ancients did dance naked then I can only imagine it must have been on one of the warm June night that don’t happen all that often here and they were celebrating a happy warm temperature as well!I’m not so sure why this little guy is monitoring at my mini standing stone circle but I’ll give him a rest from his spying job tonight. He’s one of my handful of little garden tub meerkats who seem to spirit themselves around to interesting places- or maybe that’s just my mischievous grandson when I’m not looking. As to what happens in our Fairy Garden tonight, for the end of the Summer Solstice, I’ll leave you to ponder because we do have some mysterious things happening there, I’ll have you know. Look closely at the photograph below and see if you can work out what my granddaughter has planted… and I don’t mean the naked Barbie who lounges out there in all of her splendour below the big owl on the right!
My granddaughter’s teacher gave her a tiny packet of ‘magic seeds’ at the beginning of April to plant during her ‘Spring Break’ two week holiday from school. She duly planted them and one is sprouting very well apart from some chewed into leaves (I just hope that wasn’t her little brother because I might be the one who’ll get a surprise come potty time). I don’t imagine the gnome on the swing knows who is chewing the leaves because he’s awfully shy and seems to find the hedge a lot more interesting than what’s going on in the garden below, for some odd reason.
I’m not sure if we’re heading for a magic beanstalk with those interesting black and white flowers –What do you think?The fairies have set ‘Doc’ to look after the magic beanstalk but the surprise for me will be coming soon when the flowers set into something else…and that gnome on the swing above will get a rude awakening if that stalk gets too high!
Happy Summer Solstice wishes to you all.
Nancy Jardine’s contemporary mysteries are set in fabulous world-wide cities, Topaz Eyes being a Finalist in The People’s Book Prize 2014 (UK). In Topaz Eyes there’s less romance; in Take Me Now and Monogamy Twist there’s more humour! There’s easy reading and deeper mystery to please different readers.
Her Celtic Fervour Series of historical romantic adventures is set in first century northern Roman Britain. When the Ancient Romans advance northwards into barbarian territory, the Celts need to get their act together!
The Taexali Game is a historical time-travel adventure set in third century Roman Scotland. This acquired second place in the Barbara Hammond Competition for Best Self Published Book March 2017 (Scottish Association for Writers).
She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the Scottish Association of Writers and the Federation of Writers Scotland. She’s published by Crooked Cat Books and has delved into self publishing.
You can find her at these places:
Amazon Author page http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere