#SuperstitionSat Highlights: Summer & Solstice

Welcome to another pick of our #SuperstitionSat Session Highlights. Yesterday (25/06/22), our theme was Summer and Solstice, looking at sayings about the season as well as beliefs of the Summer Solstice that happened on the 21st; and Midsummer and St John’s Day, which took place on the 24th.

Being a seasonal theme, I couldn’t help but to look out for superstitions of weather lore, such as this one shared by Lore_of, who told us about a belief that the colour of the first butterfly seen in the early Summer days may determine how warm the season will be. Butterflies are symbolic of transformation due to their life cycle metamorphosis bringing sudden change in physical appearance: from egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis, to a beautiful creature with colourful wings. And yellow is considered a bright and happy colour, so no wonder that superstition says yellow butterflies are good omens for the Summer. If you live in the UK, it is likely that this auspicious yellow butterfly will be a Colias Croceus – also known as Clouded Yellow – as it is known to travel from North Africa to Britain and Ireland in late May. More about this species at The Wildlife Trusts here.

Tweet by Lore_of with the following saying: 

"If the first butterfly of the season you see is yellow, then it is said to mean that the summer will be warm and sunny."

Includes a scientifc illustration of a Swallowtail butterfly (?), a Clouded Yellow butterfly, and a Brimstone butterfly.
Tweet by Lore_of.

Our second Highlight was from P J Richards, who warned us against sitting under a Hawthorn tree on Midsummer’s day, on the risk of finding yourself stolen away by the fae. Hawthorn is considered to be a tree beloved by Otherworld creatures like fairies and piskies, so it is no surprise that they will be upset at finding a stranger resting underneath it. Although this tree-trespassing is considered dangerous all year round, the worst days that you can pick to anger the Good Folk with a quick rest under a Hawthorn’s shade are: May Day, Midsummer and Halloween. Another tree that you should stay well away from is the Elder, as it is said that to sit under this tree on Midsummer’s Eve will give you the ability to see the fairies’ feast. And who knows what they will do to you if they catch you spying on them! For more on the lore of both Hawthorn and Elder, check out folklorist Icy Sedgwick’s blog articles here and here.

Tweet by P J Richards, with the following:

"Folklore warns against sitting beneath a Hawthorn at Midsummer, then the veil between the mortal realm and the Otherworld is thin - the trees are beloved of the Fae, therefore you risk falling under an enchantment or being stolen away."

Includes an illustration by Arthur Rackham.
Tweet by P J Richards. Illustration by Arthur Rackham.

Our last Highlight is one of my favourite superstitions from Galicia, as told by Beira Atlántica, concerning the healing waters of Midsummer’s Eve. Various countries believe that the dew of Midsummer’s early morning has healing properties, as is the case in Sweden, where it is said that walking barefoot on the dew-covered grass (or even lying naked on it) may keep you healthy. But in Galicia, where this festivity became associated with St John due to the Catholic influence on the country, healing waters aren’t just restricted to dew – they can be found everywhere, including springs and fountains.

Before sunset on June 23rd, Gallician folk wisdom says that you should collect water from seven different fountains into a container large enough to fit a bunch of herbs for the “Posy of St John” (or Cacho de San Xoán). According to Orgullo Galego, the plants that can comprise this posy are: mugwort, foxglove, fern, fennel, St John’s wort, mint, chamomile, mallow, yarrow, rosemary, and woodland sage. These will then be left outside in said container until the following morning, when you are encouraged to wash your face with that water, which has magically obtained health and beauty properties overnight. The belief that fountain water becomes blessed on St John’s Eve stretches all the way down to Portugal, where it is said that water fairies living in fountains will give you tips on how to make this holy water – if you can break their enchantment before sunrise on the 24th of June. In this thread, Beira Atlántica added that leaving the Posy of St John outside during the night is, understandably, prone to attracting the likes of the Devil. Thus, to prevent the Dark One from “messing” with your herbs, you should add a plant that he doesn’t like to the collection, such as roses – whose thorns will prickle and keep him away!

Tweet by Beira Atlantica, with the following:

"In Galicia, at sunset on June 23, we collect certain herbs, put them in a container with water from seven different fountains and leave them outside overnight. Next day, we wash our faces with that water, that has gained magical properties!"

Includes a photograph credited to Gustav Henningsen.
Tweet by Beira Atlántica. Image credit Gustav Henningsen.

That is all for today, I hope you enjoyed this selection. Summer is far from over, so for the next few weeks we will have a series of cheerful themes for you, starting with next Saturday (02/07/22):


Once again, whether you’re old, new or just passing through, your presence is very much appreciated and I am glad to see you stop by. See you next Saturday!

– Superstition Sam 🐾