This Full Moon musing is inspired by the Summer Solstice, our shift into the Sign of Cancer and it’s polarity of Capricorn, the sign in which the moon sits this cycle.

I will also share with you some of my plant allies associated with this seasonal celebration, that I had the great privilege of harvesting this morning from the food forest and wild fields of our home here in Italy, Ca’Inti, in the mountain region of Le Marche.

We shift into the Cardinal Sign of Cancer, this astrological mode, Cardinal signifies the change of Season, each mode corresponds to a solar holy day, this day being Litha, the Summer Solstice for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, for our friends in the Southern latitudes, today is the Winter Solstice, please read my musings HERE on that holy day.

Cancer is the sign of home, and it is significant for me to return to Italy at this time of year, as I leave one home behind in Costa Rica at the Casa Colibri to return to my other home at Ca’Inti. It reminds me the various ways we define home. For some people, it is the place where everyone knows your name, for others it is where you all speak the same language or share the same traditions. Being a child of many ethnicities, coming from a place where my ancestor’s ancient bones do not rest, home has always had a different meaning. I have found home to be the places I feel safe and connected, a space where I know love and love knows me. Both Italy and Costa Rica have always had a place in my heart that knew I was home, both in many ways feel imprinted upon my soul. From my deep awakening in Costa Rica to my truest heart’s path to my previous life dreams running through Roman history, my bones, blood, heart and mind know home.

This Full  Moon rolling its way into Capricorn just one day after the Solstice is the polar force of Cancer. The latter occupies the Fourth House of Family/Home, while the other occupies the Tenth House of Career. This lunar energy of Capricorn in the Solar Energy of Cancer is here to brightly illuminate the force of alignment between who we are and what we do. While we have many identities in life, two significant ones are where we come from and call home and what we dedicate our life’s energy towards. For some we would call that a job, career, but taking it the regenerative route, we would call this our livelihood, the work we do that not only pays the bills and sustains home, but the work we do that lights up our hearts, inspires our minds and nurtures a feeling of meaning and purpose. This has been quite a theme these last many musings, as I see so many people unhappy or unsatisfied with the capitalistic programming of what you do defines your value in society. If we can do one thing this Solstice and Full Moon it is focus our energy on what truly LIGHTS US UP!

In the Tarot, Cancer is associated with The Chariot VII. This is a card of pure will power, motivation and self preservation. This sun filled season blooms into being so many gorgeous yellow flowers that shines like the life giving star above us! Yellow is the color of joy, happiness, awareness, clarity, energy, vitality, positivity, hope, faith, divine light and spiritual growth. It is also associated with the Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura) which is linked to personal power, confidence, and self-esteem.

Let’s get that solar energy activated in your life! Dress in yellows and golden tones, dash a little golden glitter on your face and over your heart, wear some gold hoop earrings and bangles…. or maybe you don’t feel that sassy and you just want to wear some yellow undies or socks! Plant yellow flowers and adorn your home with vases of Daisies, St. John’s Wort, Dandelions and all the other yellow flowers you can find. Decorate your altar with yellow flowers, Golden Berries, Apricots, Peaches and sun ripened Tomatoes. Wash yourself with a yellow Calendula soap, drink Golden Mylk, squeeze Lemons into your water and tint your rice and potatoes with Turmeric, Saffron and Annatto.

Let’s dive into some plant allies for this season, ones that I have just a short walk from my front door.

Elder (Sambucus nigra) is in full bloom right now and she is such a tease! For some reason in my bioregion the majority of the Elders are surrounded by thorny blackberry bushes, which while deliciously abundant in a few months makes it quite a challenge to harvest! So I reach what I can, maybe it is telling me to leave it for the animals. When the plants are just out of reach, do not force the collection. Pay attention, observe, ask yourself “for what reason do I desire this plant?” Is it the medicine I need right now? Will it serve another in need? Is this medicine more needed by the landscape? Who can I access more easily?

Elderflower is most sacred on Litha, the old English name for the Summer Solstice that has been adopted by modern pagans and witches. The hallow stem can be dried and cut into a flute for calling the faeries though cutting the whole shrub down is seen as bad luck unless specific permission has been given by the Elder Mother, the spirit of the plant. Associated with the Norse deity Freya the goddess of love, fertility, and magic. Elder trees were planted near homes to protect against evil spirits and promote fertility and prosperity. Bathing in elderflower-infused water was thought to enhance beauty and youthfulness. Elderflowers are symbolic of renewal and regeneration. In various rituals, Elderflower was used to mark the changing of seasons and the renewal of life. Elder should never be burned as this will send away all the loving and protective spirits from the home, make sure to plant it near the corners of the garden where it can protect and watch over you and your loved ones.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is the most abundant right now! I fell in love with this plant when I moved to Italy and saw its golden abundance all throughout garden edges and fields. The pollinators adore this plant as it provides habitat for ground loving reptiles, rodents and insects.

The plant’s named for the ancient biblical figure due to the red coloration  particularly noticeable in the oil glands and the extract, due to the presence of Hypericin. This compound also contributes to the plant’s medicinal properties as an antidepressant and even more commonly as a healing salve, liniment and oil for wound and skin care. The red that comes from crushing the flowers symbolizes the blood spilled for the famous Dipper when he was martyred by the Roman appointed Jewish ruler Herod Antipas when his daughter Salome asked for his head on a platter for her birthday. In Christian folklore, it was believed that the plant possessed the power to ward off evil spirits and was often hung over doors and windows for protection and in celebrations and rituals dedicated to St. John. For Witches St. John’s Wort is worked with in various forms of divination and magic to enhance psychic abilities and dreams. Placing the plant under a pillow was thought to bring prophetic dreams, insights and spiritual inspiration while also warding off nightmares.

“Water of San Giovanni,” or “Acqua di San Giovanni,” is a traditional Italian folk remedy and spiritual practice associated with the Feast of St. John the Baptist, celebrated on June 24th. The Water of San Giovanni ritual is a blend of Christian and pre-Christian traditions. St. John the Baptist is a significant figure in Christianity, associated with baptism and purification. The timing of the ritual near the Summer Solstice connects it to older pagan, earth based spiritual practices that celebrate the height of Summer and the power of nature. The practice involves the preparation of a special infusion made from various herbs and flowers collected on the eve of St. John’s feast day. This magical water is made for purification, protection, health, healing, fertility, renewal, and nurturing a deep connection to nature and tradition.

Preparation of Acqua di San Giovanni:

1. Collecting Herbs and Flowers: On the evening of June 23rd, the eve of St. John’s feast day, gather a variety of fresh herbs and flowers such as St. John’s Wort, Rosemary, Lavender, Sage, Mint, Rue, Roses, Calendula, Linden, Red Clover, Yarrow, and any other beauties abundant in your bioregion.

2. Infusing in Water: Place herbs and flowers in a glass, earthen or ceramic bowl filled with pure living water (rain, well, spiring or river). Leave the bowl out to infuse with the night air and the energy of the moon.

3. Morning Ritual: On the morning of June 24th, the water is used for washing the face, hands, or body. This act is thought to bring protection, good luck, and blessings for the coming year. If you would like to preserve this formula, strain well through a cloth to remove any plant material and add 1/4 part of 50-75% alcohol to the mix. Place in a pray bottle or dropper to work with throughout the year.

The Linden tree (Tilia spp.) is perhaps the most abundant tree I have ever encountered!! As I write it is absolutely full of flowers and attracting countless pollinating species of beans, butterflies, moths, beetles and other insects whose name I do not know. The tree is literally buzzing with life! I wish I could send to you through the digital reality the scent… maybe one day AI will accomplish that but until then, I ask you to close your eyes and imagine the smell of joy, of a warm and sweet summer breeze, flavored with gentle floral honey and ecstatic peace. This tree always reminds me of the abundant nature of sharing. Not a single species is fighting for this nectar and pollen resource, there is enough to go around. And the more they share, the more they can spread the abundance. This is the Natural Law of reciprocity and the Sacred Balance in action. This tree reminds me of the Six of Pentacles, giving and receiving in a mutually beneficial way. Sitting under a Linden tree brings clarity and calmness, helping individuals to connect with their inner selves and the divine. It is interesting that particularly in Germanic and Slavic cultures, the Linden tree is regarded as sacred, often planted in the center of villages and used as a meeting place for gatherings, celebrations, and legal matters. The tree symbolizes community, justice, and social cohesion. I remember walking the streets of Berlin in June and the trees lining the avenues were just as radiant as they are here in the countryside.

Like Elder it is also associated with Freya and is a symbol of safety, comfort, love and harmony in relationships. Therapeutically, Linden is an incredible nervous system tonic, taken as a tea or tincture it is supportive for insomnia, anxiousness and for respiratory allergies.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is named for the Greek hero Achilles. According to mythology, Achilles used yarrow to treat the wounds of his soldiers during the Trojan War and is believed to ward off evil spirits and negative energies. My dear friend, allie, colleague and teacher Julia Bentley from the Casa Curativa in Guatemala makes incredible spygeric essences with Yarrow as well as leads dietas with this plant. She taught me that Yarrow is a plant of healthy boundaries. It reminds me on the Permaculture proverb “setting limits yields abundance.” This speaks to the necessity of balance within the self, community and ecosystem in relationship to resoucres. The more we take or hoard, the less we will all have. The more we over promise, the more we under deliver. Yarrow reminds us to not spread ourselves too thin, but to focus our energies and do something really well. It is a plant that teaches the healthy “No.” Allowing us to give the greatest attention to our “Yes.”

Yarrow has a long history of use in divination and magic, specifically in Chinese culture, Yarrow stalks were traditionally used in the practice of I Ching. Yarrow enhances psychic abilities and to provide protection during supernatural encounters. It used in rituals to strengthen intuition and connect with the spiritual realm. Therapeutically, I love Yarrow for times of “cold” as it brings the “warmth” right back into the system. So for example, you are about to fly and be in the cold dry AC of a plane surrounded by other microbiomes in a closed container for many hours, Yarrow. Maybe it is a rainy and chilly outside and you don’t want to get sick, Yarrow. Maybe you already have a cold and you just feel miserable and want to stay in bed all day, Yarrow. I also work with Yarrow for menstrual stagnation, like that heavy feeling in your pelvis where you just want to bleed! And in the Summer months when folks are more active in the garden and outdoors playing, a poultice or wash of Yarrow leaves and flowers are great for bumps, bruises and scratches.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis), also known as Pot Marigold is associated with the sun due to its bright, golden-yellow flowers that resemble the sun’s rays. The Greeks, Romans, Hindus, Mayans and Aztecs adorn deities and altars during various festivals and rituals to honor the sun and seek its blessings while also honoring the dead and ancestors. Calendula is an important medicinal for its ability to heal wounds, reduce inflammation, and soothe skin conditions. Internally it helps to promote the flow of the body’s fluids, specifically the lymphatic system, which is crucial for immune function, fluid balance, and the removal of toxins from the body. Calendula contains flavonoids and triterpenoids, seen in the bright orange/yellow coloration, which have anti-inflammatory properties, helping to reduce inflammation in lymph nodes and tissues.

It also supporting lymphatic drainage, aiding in detoxifying the body to remove metabolic waste and toxins. Calendula’s antimicrobial and antiviral properties support the immune system, aiding in the prevention and management of infections while also promoting wound healing and tissue regeneration.

Other Plants associated with the Summer Solstice:

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris): Known for its protective and visionary properties, Mugwort is often used in solstice rituals to enhance dreams and divination. It is also burned as a smudge to purify and cleanse spaces.

Rose (Rosa spp.): Roses, blooming abundantly during the Summer, are associated with love, beauty, and the heart. They are often used in Solstice rituals to celebrate the height of Summer and the abundance of nature.

Lavender (Lavandula spp.): Known for its calming and protective properties, Lavender is used in Solstice rituals for purification and to bring peace and tranquility.

Fern: In various folklore, Ferns are believed to have magical properties, especially on Midsummer’s Eve. They are thought to offer protection and bring good luck.

Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.): Symbolizing love and happiness, Honeysuckle is often used in solstice decorations and rituals to attract positive energy and harmony.

Birch (Betula spp.): Birch trees, with their bright bark and fresh leaves, are associated with renewal and purification. They are often used in Solstice celebrations to mark new beginnings.

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria): Associated with love and protection, meadowsweet is used in Solstice rituals to honor the goddess and bring blessings to the home.

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla): Known for its soothing properties, Chamomile is used in Solstice rituals for relaxation and to promote peaceful sleep and dreams.