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Welcome to Mrs Darley's Blog

This blogspot has been created especially for those who wish to share their ideas and thoughts about the natural world as the year turns and the ancient Pagan festivals that were once celebrated by our ancestors.

Poetry, prose craft work, ancient cure craft and general thoughts and feelings on how the change in the weather and seasons makes you feel are all encouraged and welcomed.

Mrs Darley was my once next door neighbour when I lived amongst the wilds of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall back in the early 1990's. Her charismatic ways and unending wisdom lead me on a journey of self discovery as I spiralled ever further into her magical world.

She has since become the central character in the 'Mrs Darley' series of books.

Mrs Darley's Pagan Whispers

Mrs Darley's Moon Mysteries

Mrs Darley's Pagan Elements

Mrs Darley's Pagan Healing Wisdom

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Midsummer Fires and St John the Baptist

Midsummer (24th June) was a time of ritualistic fires and their purpose was many fold. They celebrated the power of the sun, they invited good luck and fertility into the community and were also a means of protection from unseen forces, pestilence and disease, benefitting both animals and humans alike.

When Christianity came to these islands, the celebration of midsummer was, like the majority of Pagan festivals Christianised and became the feast of St John the Baptist albeit the link is somewhat tenuous! The powers that held sway in the church said that the midsummer fires would now be lit in honour of St John to help people remember that his bones were burned by the Emperor Julian.

In the 14th century a Shropshire monk wrote of 3 different types of fire that were lit on St John's Eve (23rd June)

  1. A Bone Fire: Made of clean bones and no wood and was thought to keep dragons at bay due to the smell. This is where we get our word 'bonfire from although hopefully there are no bones present!

  2. A Wake Fire: Made of clean wood and no bones used to socialise or 'wake' by.

  3. A St John's Fire: Made of clean wood and bones. St John is often pronounced 'sin-jon' which perhaps provides us with the origins of the word 'singe'

Today few midsummer fires remain although the Old Cornwall Society resurrected the custom of lighting fires across the tors of Cornwall back in the 1920's and thankfully it still continues today. I will be there next week and, next Wednesday just as dusk descends, I will raise a glass to the old ones. (Read more in 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Whispers)

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