The juice of it, on sleeping eyelids laid
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees
Fetch me this herb, and be thou here again
Ere the Leviathan can swim a league
(The Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare)
As the sun completes its southward journey, it rests briefly over the Tropic of Capricorn before moving northward again. When it enters the astrological sign of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere, we know that the sun is at its highest and brightest and that the time of the Summer Solstice has arrived.
For the Ngarrindjeri people, the warmth associated with Luwadang continues. As the sun increases in strength, it dries the land, allowing it to be haunted by the call of ravens, the bird that is often associated with death in many cultures around the world.
At the other end of the country, the Top End, low-lying clouds that are filled with monsoonal rain dominate the skies. These rains fill the creeks and rivers, and flood into the billabongs, forcing many animals, such as the yellow-bellied pythons, rats and goannas, to take refuge in the trees. The crocodiles are also on the move. The combination of humidity, heat and rain generates an almost alchemical reaction amongst the flora as plant growth explodes, with spear grass growing over two metres in height. The Bininj/Mungguy people refer to this time of the year, from January through to February, as Gudjewg, an important hunting time. On the Tiwi Islands, off the Top End coast, this is Barra, the “rain making” season, the time of renewal and relief after the fierce heat.
Within the Craft, the God, in his guise as the Sun or Solar God, is now at the height of his power. Ever increasingly, he has been letting us know of his strength. This show comes at a cost and while it will be some time before we actually notice, from the Summer Solstice onwards, the power of the Sun God slowly begins to wane. This darkness, however, is not perceived in a negative sense, because it is needed to ensure the fertility of the land. Still, in doing so, the Sun God sows the seeds of his own death.
The Goddess in her aspect as the Mother, Gaia, is on the verge of sharing her bounty with us. However, there is also a death in life aspect at this time of the year that is often overlooked. We humans, regardless of our spiritual beliefs in the afterlife, still tend to fear the process of death, the transition from one plane to another.
(The above information has been taken from Dancing the Sacred Wheel: A Journey through the Southern Sabbats by Frances Billinghurst - available through all Amazon.com affiliated stores as well as direct from the author)