There is a road from the eye to the heart
that does not go throught the intellect
-K.Chesterton

6/23/2010

The Mystical Midsummer Solstice ...night of witches

Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year , the day of the year when the night and day are of equal length and in ancient times this was considered the most important event of the solar year .It's a night full of magical traditions historic superstitions and cleanising reituals that is celebrated all over Spain and particulary along the Mediterranean Coast (Balearic Islands ,Valencian Comunity ,Catalonia... ) and in Galicia  



Here in Spain we call it " Noche de San Juan " Night of Saint John (the Baptist) and I could say this night sets Spain on fire .It's one of those elusive Spanish holidays that lies somewhere between a religious traidition of Saint John's day ( june24th)  and a pagan celebration of the June 21st Summer solstice  . 


The celebration typically begins at midnight on June 23th with the lighting of large nonfires ( Preferably on the beach ) 



It's typical to dine outside with family and friends .On the Mediterranean Coast especially in Catalonia ,Valencia and Balearic Islands the most typical food is the Coca the Sant Joan ,which despite a range of varieties is usually a sweet coca ( like a round flatbread or brioche ) made with flowr ,sugar ,egges ,yeast ,lemon peel which is rolled out flat covered with candied fruit baked  .
source Foods from Spain  



Fire and water are the protagonists of the night...fire uses to be the symbol of abundance, purity and fertility; that is why fire is the central element of this Festival in the form of fireworks and bonfires on the beaches.



It's the the "Night of Witches "and it is said that on the Night of Saint Joan, witches and druids (Akelarre) gather all over the region to strengthen and develop their magical and extraordinary powers At these gatherings, the witches distribute their elixirs and love potions. According to popular legend, the angel of love comes out this night only, striking people into love with his bow and arrow
  






According to tradition at 12:00 at night they burn the popular bonefires and young people leap the coals and bathing in the sea, asking for three wishes.They say if people jump three times over a bonfire on San Juan's night, they will be cleansed and purified, and their problems burned away.





When is relatively safe to jump over the bonfire ,it's done three times (although it could also be nine or any number) for good luck at the cry of "Meigas fora"  (witches off) .It's also common to drink Queimada (flaming Galician punch )  ,a beverage resulting from setting alight Spanish "Aguardiente/Orujo "  mixed with sugar ,coffee beans and pieces of fruit which is prepared while chanting an incantation against evil spirits .Everyone should try it at least once ...it's delicious!! 




At midnight, everybody can participate in the ritual of fire purification. The tradition is, that you should write on a paper the things you want to change in your life, throw it into the flames and then jump three times.




I love this mystical and magic night ...it's like traveling through time and plunging into a celtic dream .The celebrations of the shortest night of the year in the northern hemisphere signifies the triumph of light over darkness.


The beaches filled with hundred of fires burning is a stunning spectacle ,the fires will be lit at midnight but will continue to burn all night until the dawn breaks over the Mediterranean sea ...this is the one night of the year when you will be allowed to camp overnight on the beach 



         "Great spirits of fire, grow and consume this habit of evil so goodness may bloom." :)





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