Summer Solstice Window Display at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic

Summer Solstice Window Display at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic
Museum of Witchcraft and Magic

By: Judith Hewitt
Added: 06 June 2016

The Wheel of the Year

The Ancient Festivals

The year can be divided into eight major festivals which mark the passage of the Sun through the year and relate directly to the agricultural cycle.  This is significant to many people (including witches) The current festival is: Summer Solstice, June  21st.

he Summer Solstice is one of the most important and widespread festivals in Europe and throughout the world.

Midsummer's eve is a time for great magic - herbs picked at midnight have special protective qualities.  It is also a good time for love magic and charms.

The Summer Solstice is a fire festival and traditionally fires are lit on hilltops to mark the sun’s change in course.

All witches will be celebrating this time of year- many will stay up all night to watch the Sunrise on Solstice morn.

The Christian Church adopted this ancient pagan festival as St John’s Day.

The longest day, plants and animals flourish, light and life are abundant.


For the Summer Solstice, the stag’s antlers in our window display have been adorned with horse brasses showing the symbols of the Zodiac.  Horse brasses reflect the sun and are often used in protection magic to ward off evil.

The Sun and Protection Magic

Symbols of the Sun appear many times in the Museum’s collection and they appear most frequently in our display of Protection Magic in the upstairs gallery.  For millennia, people have viewed the sun as a friend - the provider of light, warmth and food (the stuff of life).  At the time of the Summer Solstice, thousands of people gather at Stonehenge to pay respect to the Sun and to see the spectacular emergence of the Sun through the stones.

Here we have a selection of items associated with the sun and protection.  Protection magic is often used in doorways to protect the house from evil influences.  This doorknocker is a reduced size replica and has a feline, possibly lion face with the sun’s rays emanating from it.  The original 12th century door knocker is on Durham Cathedral.

The idea of the sun providing protection seems to have continued into more modern times as this Sun Alliance disk shows.  Early insurance companies issued plaques such as these to identify the houses that were protected by their insurance company.  When there was a fire, the insurance company’s fire brigade would only put out fires on houses with the right disks on them!   

Images of the Sun regularly appear on horse brasses such as these.  Horse brasses were not purely decorative but were originally a type of protection magic.  They were designed to be shiny and to ward off evil spirits by distracting them.  Their effectiveness was further enhanced by creating brasses which also incorporated ancient symbols of protection such as the Sun.