Solstice Night is a magical night, the shortest night of the year. In the Northern arc of Eastern Europe, it is celebrated in various ways.
Across the region sacred or magical rituals are enacted, almost all linked with symbols of fertility (the maypole, the wreath) and elements of water and fire. In Belarus girls and boys bathe in lakes, in Sweden they dance around the Maypole, in Poland young maidens dressed in white float flower wreaths with candles – symbols of maidenhood – on the rivers. If the wreath gets caught by a man, the girl will get married soon, while if it floats, she can hope to get married one day but not in the near future. However, if it burns, sinks or gets caught in something, she will never marry. Herbs gathered during this time and considered to be especially effective in combating illness, but none more so than the mythical fern flower.
The fern flower, which only flowers on this one night, and only the the deep forest, can only be found by the most dedicated or most pure or perhaps just the luckiest individuals . . . For the fern flower is potently magical, it brings one or more of the following:
- Ability to understand animal speech.
- Earthly riches.
Of course, some say the flower is secretly guarded by evil spirits. Others that any blessing gained from the fern flower will be balanced by a curse. Though one that is pure of heart and only using the flower for noble ends will not be punished . . . right?