Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Full Mead Moon

Goody Prymm was up early, entreating Remember to help her prepare for this important day.  She was feeling especially good---much better than of late---and wanted to go to the woods.  Remember was holding the now-healed crow, feeding him some fruit gathered from the small orchard  trees out back and asked Imagination what was so special about this day.  Why, this was St. John's Eve---Midsummer's Eve!  A time for gathering herbs, which would be at their most potent, and wildflowers, too!  It was a day and night of celebration, one she would not soon forget.  Hearing these things, Remember quickly placed Nightfeather back in his enclosure, Goody Prymm giving her a look of remonstrance, as he was fully healed now and should be set free.  Remember shifted her eyes away and ignored the old woman's silent reproach.  She had grown attached to the bird, as Goody Prymm had cautioned, and did not want to let him go...not just yet, at least.

So they gathered their baskets and filled them with the herbed bread prepared the night before, some cheese, and elderberry wine that Goody Prymm had traded for dyeing Goody Coffin's linen, Goody Prymm also tucking colorful strips of ribboned cloth in her pocket. Out the door they went, stopping first in their own gardens, Goody Prymm instructing Remember to pick specific herbs for this day:  St. John's wort, hyssop, sage, mint, basil, parsley, rosemary, lavender, and feverfew.  She did not speak of their healing properties this time; rather they simply enjoyed the plants' sensual aspects.  With each bunch they picked, the herbs released their aromas, full and strong.  Then the two headed to the meadows and finally to the woods, where they would pick meadowsweet and various wildflowers, and cut small branches of rowan, oak, fir, and pine.  The day was exquisite for walking and foraging in the wild!  This was Goody Prymm's day, her gait more spritely than usual and a healthy flush in her cheeks.  It was as though she were the herbs they harvested, full and strong, and at her very best.

Their baskets overflowing, they walked the now-familiar path to the black pool, a favorite spot for them, as it was always cool and restful.  Sitting down on the old log, they took out their fare and began to eat, the elderberry wine sweet and potent, a perfect accompaniment to the herbed bread and cheese.  And then they dined leisurely, taking in the day, Goody Prymm sharing things she never had before.  Tomorrow the sun would be at its height and then, just like that! magickally begin to weaken; it was a turning of sorts, the first trace of a seasonal change.  In her grandmother's day, they would decorate using oak leaves and holly, while her mother would visit shrines and holy wells and springs, dressing them with flowers.  All sorts of folly occurred on this eve and day!  Ramblings in the local woods, even wheels of fire rolled down great hills!  Remember listened, her eyes wide with wonder as she tried to picture these things in her mind.  Goody Prymm continued with stories of rites and spells, so to speak, performed to help women get married and have children, adding that it was said that such a night "set many cradles a-rocking," her stopping and smiling wistfully at the thought.  Coming out of her revery, Goody Prymm said now it was time to weave flower wreaths for their heads!  Here her ancient hands seemed deft at forming her wreath, fingers no longer stiff and slow, and Remember emulating her methods of twining and winding, adding her own sprays and colorful combinations according to what pleased her.  And this was why Goody Prymm brought the colorful ribbons!  As they worked, Goody Prymm recited a poem, soft and low...

"Yes, you are here in the soft buzzing grass.
Yes, you are listening among the flowering gardens.
Yes, you are shining from the most royal blue sky.
Yes, you are granting me what I wish tonight.
Grant me a healthy life with high purpose,
A true true partner to share my joys and my tears,
Wisdom to hear your voice giving me guidance,
Wealth to give to others as you have given to me."

And she wondered who Goody Prymm was thinking about as she spoke the words, a soft smile on her lips.  When they had finished their Midsummer wreaths, they gently placed each other's wreath on the other's head, all smiles and grins at their creations, Remember exclaiming that Goody Prymm never looked more beautiful than on this day!

They spent the remainder of the afternoon, talking and sharing while weaving a great wreath of oak, pine, holly, and fern that they would hang on their door when they returned home.  The woods were alive with magick that day, verdant and lush, colorful mushrooms growing on the ferny floors, the dank scent of greenness all around them, the dark pool gurgling with its clean, cold water.  Before they knew it, it was time to head back as Goody Prymm announced that the gloaming was at hand...that time of "betwixt and between," the time right before nightfall.  Gathering their now-empty baskets, Remember placing their door wreath around her neck, they walked the path leisurely to their home, looking, for all the world, like woodland fairies with their flowered head wreaths.

When they arrived, Goody Prymm instructed Remember to gather kindling and wood for an outdoor fire, while she placed the Great Midsummer Wreath on the batten door.  Stepping back, admiring their work, Goody Prymm smiled at the distant memories it evoked.

Soon night had indeed fallen, just as it promised, and a Full Moon rose in the sky.  The fire blazing now, Remember brought out their chairs to enjoy Midsummer's Eve, while Goody Prymm went inside to retrieve a special treat.  Upon her return she was carrying a vessel that she said contained mead, a rich honey ale that she had been brewing for a year. The Full Moon in this month had many names...Herb Moon, Strawberry Moon, and Honey Moon being but a few.  But for a Full Moon to occur on this night was a rarity, and special indeed, Goody Prymm choosing to call it a Full Mead Moon.  Remember had never tasted mead, but that first sip was like sipping the nectar of the sweetest meadow flowers in the world!  Goody Prymm laughed at the young girl's expression and then cautioned her to sip very slowly and enjoy the night.  As they sipped their mead and watched the fire, Goody Prymm told her that this was a time to acknowledge the wild things of this world...things that can be enjoyed, yes, but cannot and should not be tamed or controlled, Remember not replying but knowing full well what she meant.  Then Imagination changed the subject and talked about their head and door wreaths being symbols of seasonal cycles...and reminding the young girl that everything in this life changes...and to appreciate even the dark times when they come---and they would come---because such times make a person stronger and yet more appreciative of life's transitory and beautiful moments.  Then she playfully recited a poem from her childhood:

"St. John's wort doth charm all witches away
If gathered at midnight on the saint's holy day.
Any devils and witches have no poem to harm
Those that gather the plant for a charm."

At the owl's cry, Goody Prymm said it was time to toss their head wreaths into the fire, signaling the end of Midsummer's Eve.  Each removed the wreath from her own head, Remember somewhat reluctantly, and then threw them, one at a time, into the fire, the smell of burning herbs and flowers perfuming the night air around them with their earthy scents.

Afterwards, they lifted their cups and toasted one another, honoring each other's strengths and beauty, and drank in the moment.

***With a nod to "Summer Solstice Mythology:  Midsummer Night," from Arthur George's blog Mythology Matters, June 19, 2015; and "Celebrating Midsummer," from Waverly Fitzgerald's blog School of the Seasons, 1998.

***The first poem is from Zsuzsanna E. Budapest's book, The Grandmother of Time.  

© 2017 Nancy Duncan


  1. Very beautiful! Today you took me on a walk through the woods. I'll come back here when I need some peace and quiet away from this office. Thank you for the beautiful post.

  2. So glad you enjoyed the journey, Vick Jo!

  3. envisioning it all....I am now more-full of Summer's wealth and beauty ~