How to Decorate a Midsummer Altar

How to Decorate a Midsummer Altar
The Midsummer altar celebrates the zenith of summer, fertility, and the growing season. Midsummer (summer solstice) is one of the lesser sabbats, the cross-quarter festivals that also include Mabon (fall equinox), Yule (winter solstice), and Ostara (spring equinox). Midsummer is also the great pivot point on which the year turns from summer toward winter and from day toward night. From this point on, the nights will grow longer and the days shorter. On the eve of summer solstice, one is supposed to be able to see and communicate with the Fae (also known as the faeries, the Fair Folk, and the Good Neighbours). On the day itself, the Oak King is said to battle with his kinsman the Holly King, and the Holly King wins. They will re-enact and reverse this battle on the day of winter solstice.

Midsummer colors include yellow, gold, orange, and sky blue. Accent your altar with touches of brass, bronze, and gold.

Nature-themed decorations include yellow cornmeal offered in a dish or sprinkled in a design, sunflowers, yellow roses, white roses, dandelions, daisies, black-eyed Susans, yellow geraniums, yellow begonias, and goldenrod. Also, to represent the God as Oak King, you could include oak leaves, green acorns, and antlers.

For a basic seasonal altar that is not overtly Wiccan, start by draping your altar with a large cloth of sky blue to represent the heavens on a clear midsummer day at noon. Drape a smaller cloth in rich yellow diagonally over it, and perhaps a smaller gold cloth diagonally on top so that all the points of the altar cloths can be seen. For a centerpiece, use a woven basket inside of which you put a vase of cut yellow flowers or a pot of growing yellow flowers. You have more variety with a cut flower arrangement, but more vitality with a living plant. Add sun figurines in bronze and brass as well as porcelain, wood, or even plastic figures of robins, which are birds sacred to the Oak King. Because Midsummer is the height of the growing season before the first wheat harvest, you could also add sun-shaped fruits such as peaches, oranges, and berries.

Overtly Wiccan items for your altar include figures of the Oak King and Holly King. The Oak King is a wild young man dressed in pale green. The Holly King is an older bearded man dressed in dark green and is in fact the forerunner of Father Christmas who eventually became Santa Claus. You could also include figures of the pregnant Goddess and the God as Lord of the Forest, and figurines or images of the fairies.

Though Midsummer is not a fire festival, it does celebrate the glory of the sun. Therefore, candles are always appropriate. Decorate your altar with pillar candles in gold or white. Or you could use silver taper candles set to the left to signify the Goddess in her full-moon pregnancy, and gold taper candles set to the right to symbolize the God. Never leave lit candles unattended. The safest to use are in glass jars, which can also reflect the candlelight through their thick glass for a beautiful magnifying effect.

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