By Jackie Johnson ND, Northeast Wisconsin Unit
Today, June 21, is Midsummer, the longest day of the year. Throughout history and across cultures our ancestors celebrated the day with bonfires, storytelling and working with the fruits of the summer.
The ancients believed that plants harvested and prepared today had extra potency. With that in mind, we can celebrate using herbs.
1 – Prepare chive vinegar. Use the chives blossoms and vinegar of your choice. I prefer a white wine or apple cider vinegar. For an interesting twist, add a few lovage leaves to the mix.
2 – Pick nine flowers that are blooming. Use cotton twine to tie them into a bundle. Let them dry so you can burn during winter to release their magic.
3 – Harvest herbs and make a dream pillow with extra potency. Partially fill small muslin bags with fiberfill and add your favorite sleeping herbs. Chamomile is always a first (if you don’t have allergies to the Aster family). The sweet smelling elder and linden flowers are also nice. Consider adding just a pinch of mint and mugwort. Put one small piece of rosemary for good dreams!
4 – Encourage dreams of an absent lover by putting the roots of daisies under your pillow
5 – Gather plantain and comfrey leaves to dehydrate for making salves later this year. Or make poultices from the fresh leaves – Chop in your food processor. Add a bit of flour to make them stick together. Wrap the mixture in clean muslin and freeze for future use.
6– Enjoy a Midsummer tea using equal amounts of chamomile, lemon balm, and hibiscus with just a pinch of mint. Dry the same ingredients for tea making year-round.
Our ancestors were a suspicious bunch. Today is a great day for fairy and elf frivolity so keep an eye out for them! Thyme is one of their favorite plants, and if you watch intently — and the fairies see you as harmless — you may see them dancing with the thyme. (Don’t bring wild thyme indoors, it was considered unlucky in the day.)