(Phytolacca decandra, P. americana) Poisonous.
Folk Names: Coakum, Cocan, Crowberry, Garget, Inkberry, Pigeon Berry, Pocan, Pokeberry Root, Poke Root, Polk Root, Scoke, Virginian Poke.
Powers: Courage, Hex-Breaking.
Magical Uses: Poke is used at the new Moon to break hexes and curses. Make an infusion and sprinkle around the home. Add a bit to the bath water as well. (Note: Do not drink!)
When carried, poke gives courage. To find a lost object, mix poke with hydrangea, violet, and galangal. Sprinkle this around the area where the article was last seen.
The berries are crushed and the resulting juice is used as a magical ink.
(from Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham)
Litha (Midsummer, Gathering Day, Summer Solstice, Alban Heffyn, Feill-Sheathain)
Incense: Sage, mint, basil, Saint John's Wort, sunflower, lavender
Decorations: Dried herbs, potpourri, seashells, summer flowers, and fruits.
Colors: Blue, green and yellow
THE FIRE FESTIVAL OF LITHA
Midsummer or the Summer Solstice is the most powerful day of the year for the Sun God. Because this Sabbat glorifies the Sun God and the Sun, Fire plays a very prominent role in this festival. The element of Fire is the most easily seen and immediately felt element of transformation. It can burn, consume, cook, shed light or purify and balefires still figure prominently at modern Midsummer rites.
Most cultures of the Northern Hemisphere mark Midsummer in some ritualised manner and from time immemorial people have acknowledged the rising of the sun on this day. At Stonehenge, the heelstone marks the midsummer sunrise as seen from the centre of the stone circle.
The use of fires, as well as providing magical aid to the sun, were also used to drive out evil and to bring fertility and prosperity to men, crops and herds. Blazing gorse or furze was carried around cattle to prevent disease and misfortune; while people would dance around the balefires or leap through the flames as a purifying or strengthening rite. The Celts would light balefires all over their lands from sunset the night before Midsummer until sunset the next day. Around these flames the festivities would take place.
Since this sabbat revolves around the sun, a candle should be lit for the entire day, especially if it is cloudy or raining. The fire represents the sun and is a constant daily reminder of the power of the God. Rituals should be performed at noon, when the sun is highest in the sky. The best rituals to perform on Midsummer are those dealing with masculine issues, masculine energies, or issues dealing with solar influence.
Many pagans choose to make protective amulets, in the week before the Sabbat, which are later empowered over the Midsummer balefire. Some witches choose to bury their protective amulets each Midsummer’s eve and construct new ones. Rue, rowan and basil, tied together in a white or gold cloth, is a good protective trio that can be carried in your pocket year round.
Midsummer is the time to formalize any relationship and couples that have been together a year and a day since the previous Beltane can make their marriage final. This Sabbat is also an excellent time to re-new wedding vows.
☼ Suggested Activities For Litha ☼
*Rededication to the Lord and Lady
*Divination related to romance and love
*Light a white candle in front of a mirror and say your own Lithia prayer over it, then allow the candle to burn out.
*Float paper boats with blessings on a river/stream to bring luck and love to whatever may find it, or to the land.
*Singing and dancing around a bonfire
*Outdoor picnic feasts
*Create crowns out of flowers