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The Other Great Hinge


 I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2. 1



Blessed be!  Here comes the sweetness that is Midsummer, the Summer Solstice!

We tend to think of this time in flowery Shakespearean terms. Of bowers and blown roses, of the juice of fresh fruits dripping down our chins, enstickening our fingers and elbows.  The Land Spirits are dangerous tricksters to appease and still adore.

Those of us who garden or farm are taking a deep breath—hoping that these days of plenty augur more and better harvests in the months to come—food that will keep us through the winter and spring, until we can harvest again.

People who take summer vacations are busier than ever with arrangements, trying to catch up before leaving and dreading what will be waiting upon their return.

We are marching—under this new Moon—toward the Longest Day.  Folks who perform bonding ceremonies are especially busy as couples tie their futures to the symbolism of the day. 

The Longest Day.

 Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2. 1

After the bonfire has cooled to ash and the watermelon rinds have been set aside for pickles…after the wax has been scraped from the altar stones…the shortest night gives way to a day in which the sunny bits are a little shorter than they were the day before. The day eventually gives pride of place to night, slowly, steadily, until we reach the Longest Night and the spiral stretches out. Again.

But I’m not ready! we cry, clutching the bowl of perfect blackberries. It can’t be changing because it’s the hottest time of the year here, we grumble.

And yet, the year moves along, inevitably, gloriously, perfectly.  It gives all of us the opportunity to think how we will enter into the Season of the Long Dying, while standing in the bounty of full Summer.  It is Nature’s way of giving us time to prepare, to thrive, to revel in the delights that only Summer can bring.

The cowslips tall her pensioners be:
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dewdrops here
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2. 1

And I encourage you to make friends in the Southern hemisphere. It is delightful to message with people who are preparing for the Winter Solstice as you are picking raspberries in the back garden and vice versa.

Let the woad be painted! Let the games of summer commence! And keep a weather eye on this liminal time, preparing as you require for the perfect turning of the Great Wheel.







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H. Byron Ballard is a ritualist, teacher, speaker and writer. She has taught at Sacred Space Conference, Pagan Unity Festival, Southeast Her essays are featured in several anthologies, including “Birthed from Scorched Hearts“ (Fulcrum Press), “Christmas Presence“ (Catawba Press), “Women’s Voices in Magic” (Megalithica Books), “Into the Great Below” and “Skalded Apples” (both from Asphodel Press.) Her book Staubs and Ditchwater: an Introduction to Hillfolks Hoodoo (Silver Rings Press) debuted in June 2012. Byron is currently at work on Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet. Contact her at,


  • Diotima
    Diotima Wednesday, 17 June 2015

    Thank you for this. Love the photos, too. And now, if you'll excuse me,
    I must go seek some dewdrops here
    And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.

  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard Wednesday, 17 June 2015

    Of course you must.

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