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Midsummer Healing Traditions

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Terri R.
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Joined: 21 Apr 2004
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Location: So. Calif.

PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2004 11:07 pm    Post subject: Midsummer Healing Traditions Reply with quote

Midsummer was (and still is, for many) traditionally the time when home remedies and amulets of protection were made out of various herbs, for both family and livestock. 

As an example, boughs of rowan were hung up over the entrances to stables, cow barns, and chicken coops, as protection against any harm which might cause disease to the livestock. 

Rue was also a popular herb used to protect against poison and disease; although rue itself, if ingested in excess, can be a poison. It is native to the Mediterranean countries of Europe, and was such an important medical herb in Italy that replicas of it were made in silver to be worn as amulets against the "Evil Eye." Rue, traditionally gathered in Midsummer, is an herb that grows nicely in the States, but dies in winter. Its medicinal properties, which stimulates the action of the smooth involuntary muscles, are lost when the herb is dried.

An herb that is practically synonymous with Midsummer is St. John's Wort. In fact, its name came from St. John's Day (St. John the Baptist - St. Jean Baptiste Day, in Canada), the name given to the Summer Solstice by the Church in an attempt to abolish Pagan celebrations. St. John's wort is ruled by the Sun.

Other herbs traditionally gathered at Midsummer are vervain, lavender (one of my personal favorites), fern seed, and herbs which are believed to have the most powerful medicinal purposes by some herbalists such as mugwort, plantain, cock-spur grass, mayweed, stinging nettle, apple, thyme, feverfew, and fennel. 

Of all the charms once used (and/or still used) for the purpose of protecting livestock and the barns in which they lived, no one has done this more colorfully than the group of people who have come to be known as the Pennsylvania Dutch; the Amish, Mennonites, Quakers, Lutherans, Reformed, and French Huguenots. If you've traveled around the Pennsylvania area you no doubt have seen the colorful and beautiful works of folk art known as Hex signs.

Along with the painted Hex signs, the Pennsylvania Germans (they were not from Holland) brought with them a system of healing called "Pow Wow." In spite of its name, this has nothing to do with Native American practices. It is entirely Germanic.

In the early years of the 19th century, John George Hohman wrote a book entitled Pow Wows: The Long Lost Friend, and subtitled, A Collection of Mysterious Arts and Remedies for Men as Well as Animals. In it, he states clearly that what cures man also cures animals.  Prior to the writing of Pow Wow, all information was passed down by word of mouth and never committed to paper. It was believed that only a practitioner (or "user," as they were so called) could make another a practitioner.

Hohman's book is a collection of Gypsy lore as well as Pennsylvania German Pow Wow and folk remedies. It was believed that the charms and spells used would give the disease, or the spirit of the disease, an alternative place to reside.

From the concepts taught in Traditional Chinese Medicine - that our bodies are in sync with the seasonal movement of the sun - to the ancient healing practices of the Pow Wow, Midsummer is traditionally a time to manifest health and protection; for body, mind and soul
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