WLP is in a bit of a summertime slump. We are based in Tucson and when it is over 110° F the Editor/Publisher goes into siesta mode! But never fear, we are here. Just really behind.
Let us start with the basics, what the florists and jewelers are hawking this month!
Birthstones of June
If you are born in June with your sun in Gemini, then your birth stone is pearl, and we all know what the lustrous gemstone pearl looks like, no image necessary. But if you are born in June with your sun in Cancer, then it is a moonstone. There is a small image to the left showing a piece of moonstone jewelry. I did not know what Alexandrite, the third birthstone which supersedes both pearl and moonstone if you want use the modern take on birthstones, looked like. So I looked and looked for a public domain image of Alexandrite I could post here, one worthy of the stone at any rate, but did not find one, so do yourself a favor if you are mineralogically-inclined and check out the American Gem Society’s images of this chameleon-esque stone. Alexandrite is a rare chrysoberyl that takes on one of two distinct colors, green or pink, dependent upon the type of light within which it is viewed.
Flowers of June
June is Midsummer, Midsummer is the Summer Solstice
The fields of Europe, the place from which the dominant North American culture came, are planted at this time of year. Fields of grain, fruit of the trees, and garden vegetables are growing and ripening.
The land is effectively pregnant and bringing forth life.
The Romans associated the month, obviously, with Juno, Goddess of Women and childbirth, but also associated with the month and women and childbirth was Lucina (derived from the word Lux, light). As the day of the year with the greatest amount of light, it makes sense via what we know of the worldview of the time to also associate the bringing of children from the dark of the womb into the light of the world as related.
Some contemporary writers probably unconsciously, but possibly with religious motivations, say that the traditional use of Litha as a term for Summer is of totally modern use and origin. But from what I have been able to find out looking at translations of early English history, litha was used to describe the summer months.
English monk, theologian, and historian; known as the Venerable Bede,(Circa 673–735) wrote The Ecclesiastical History of the English People (completed in 731), a primary source for early English history. An earlier work of Bede, The Reckoning of Time, referred to in this 12th Century compilation of this writings, describes what we would call June and July as ærra-litha and æftera-litha.
“Litha means ‘gentle’ or ‘navigable’, because in these summer months the calm breezes are gentle and they were wont to sail upon the smooth sea.”
8th-century monk Bede, also writes about the inclusion of an inclusion of a third summer month on occasion because of the the disparity between moon cycles and year length.
Julie Coleman in her January 2001 writing for the University of Glascow” noted that Bede simply states that the reason for the unequal length of days is due to the globular shape of the earth, thus explaining the three-dimensional nature of the earth and refuting the notion that early medieval people believed that the earth was flat. Emphasis mine.
Litha is neither pagan nor heathen, but is used by English speakers and those who parse the year by seasons and note the longest day of the year with festivity, bon fires, and celebrations. Pan-european celebrations continue to this day and give testimony to the importance attributed the Summer Solstice by pre-Roman European cultures.
In Christian Northern Europe appointed clergy might only make the rounds to all parishes intermittently, perhaps 2 or 3 times a year. So betrothals and temporary marriages often preceded church sanctioned nuptials. Handfasting, the ribbon wrapping of the hands of the bride and groom, was sometimes done at weddings, but also at public, non-church, announcements of young lovers pledges to each other at which a fire might be jumped to seal the deal. Such fire occurred at both May Day and Summer Solstice. June weddings are age old.
Unpromised young women were advised to stare into the fires so that they might have visions of their future husbands.
Women of June
I’m including only a few of the amazing women with June birthdays who are well-deserving of a few moments of reflection on their lives. These and many more can be found at 30 Badass Women born in June.
June 1 1926 Marilyn Monroe ( Norma Jean Mortenson/ Norma Jean Baker), iconic film star.
June 7, 1917 (2000) – Gwendolyn Brooks, first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1950)
June 8, 1900 (1981) – Estelle Griswold, birth control advocate and pioneer, defendant in the Supreme Court case “Griswold v. Connecticut” which legalized contraception for married couples in 1965
June 12, 1929 (d. 1945) Anne Frank, German diarist, murdered in the Holocaust.
June 15, 1920 (1994) – Amy Clampitt, poet and author did not see her first poem published until she was 58
June 15, 1916 (1989) – Olga Erteszek, Polish immigrant, established the Olga Company in 1960, maker of women’s undergarments, one of the first companies to offer employee profit sharing
June 28, 1946 (1989) – Gilda Radner, comedian, and original cast member of “Saturday Night Life”
June Events of Women
June 4, 1919 – The U.S. Senate passes the Women’s Suffrage bill.
June 10, 1692 – Bridget Bishop is hanged in Salem, Mass., for witchcraft.
June 14 1907 –Women in Norway win the right to vote.
June 18, 1873 –Susan B. Anthony is fined $100 for attempting to vote for president.
June 18, 1983 – Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space.
June 19, 1963 – Soviet cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova, becomes the first woman in space.
June 24, 1647 – Margaret Brent demands two votes from the Maryland Colonial Assembly: one as a landowner and one as the legal representative of the colony’s proprietor, Lord Baltimore. She is refused.
June 25, 1903 Marie Curie announces her discovery of radium.
June 27, 1833 Prudence Crandall, a white woman, is arrested for conducting an academy for black women in Canterbury, Conn.
A Few Top 40 Hits from 25 Years Ago (June 1991)
- Madonna – Holiday
- Divinyls – I Touch Myself
- REM – Shiny Happy People
- Kirsty MacColl – Walking Down Madison
Some Top 40 Hits from 50 Years Ago (June 1966)
- Frank Sinatra – Strangers in the Night
- Beatles – Paperback Writer
- Mamas & The Papas – Monday, Monday
- Percy Sledge – When a Man Loves a Woman
- Rolling Stones – Paint It Black
- Troggs – Wild Thing
- Simon & Garfunkel – I am a Rock
- Dusty Springfield – You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me
- Chiffons – Sweet Talkin’ Guy
Another amazing woman, born 6/22/1944 – me! Ha ha! I love alexandrite and had a lab grown one in my high school ring. I had the stone reset into a pendant. Love It!
Sue, I want to see the alexandrite pendant! Happy Birthday!
Jilly Jesson Smyth
You are AMAZING Sue, Happy Birthday!
What a wonderful June trip down memory lane, Nancy. I hadn’t realized that June was so rich in women’s history. As a Gemini, I love pearls, but I will have to look up Alexandrite to learn more about it.
It is incredibly rich isn’t it, Joyce? The influence of northern European ritual and tradition on today’s brides is vastly under-appreciated. I so enjoyed doing the research for this article.
Andrea’s Wellness Notes
Thanks Andrea. Glad you liked it!
Tam Warner Minton
I love that June is the month that our Mother is pregnant and bringing forth life. So very true…at least in the northern hemisphere!
Yes, Tam, I do have the old Northern Hemisphere bias. Wish I knew more about traditions and cultures of the Southern Hemisphere.
I’m another Gemini, I’m a June bride, and I so appreciate the longer light of this month. Gotta love June!
June is the hottest of the hot months for me, but I loved finding out about our cultural and societal perceptions. I am a June bride too!
Here is San Diego we call it June Gloom! Who knew June was such a fantastic month? Thanks for enlightening me.
June gloom. Yep. But the monsoons are rolling in soon and those wash the gloom away, no?
Lois Alter Mark
Loved learning all of this. It’s especially interesting because June is such a male month in my family – Father’s Day, my dad’s birthday, my nephew’s birthday!
Interesting. It is sort of a male month with Dad’s Day. I’d put everything in a women’s context if I could. 🙂
June is winter where I live although I am fortunate to live in Queensland, Australia where it is the perfect time of year. Fresh in the mornings and evenings and sunny days. You certainly brought back some memories with the music – I know them all!
I wish I knew more about the geographic perception of seasons!
I love moonstone! i have several pieces with it. nancy, you are a fountain of interesting stories and history, which is only one of the reasons I adore you.
That is me… a veritable feast of unrelated tidbits!
Jilly Jesson Smyth
I think of you as a Professor of Women’s Studies XO!
Helene Cohen Bludman
June is a delightful month. I wish there were more than 30 days!
Other than the fact that in Arizona it is sort of like the inverse of a sub-zero blizzard.
I LOVE moonstones – they are so mystical and beautiful – now I want to be born in June so I can claim them for my birthstone!
I want a June bday too! And birthstones are cool!
I saw the ribbon wrapping done at a wedding a couple of years ago. The first time I had seen it. Thought it was a cool addition to the ceremony.
I’ve only seen it in movies and TV. I find the old historic practices fascinating.
Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski
The time of the summer solstice is magical. June is just on the brink of being hot here in LA. Next week it may reach 106 but right now it’s about 75. I appreciate the June gloom but I fear it may be over and our El Nino flaked out.
Needless to say we don’t have fog here in Tucson, and it has been 111 already. But it is a magical time of year no matter what.
Fun post. And now I’ve got all of those hits from the 60s in my head. It always amazes me that I know EVERY SINGLE LYRIC. I wonder what amazing things my brain could have accomplished if it weren’t so busy holding onto Wild Thing You Make My Heart Sing.
I wonder similar things. Like where does the information go when it leaks out when your brain is full.
Jilly Jesson Smyth
Once again you enrich my life with memories Nancy! Women are creators and collaborators and the way you create a recipe of prompts is wonderful. What resonates with me is the memory of Gilda Radner and Sparkle her dog. I read her autobiography detailing her ovarian cancer at the same time my own Mother was dying of the misdiagnosed killer. Her smile and joy was something I came home to after work on Saturday Nights. She was one of the first comedians who made her mark in a male dominated cast and always makes me laugh. Her book is called: “It’s Always Something”.
Gilda was so absolutely amazing. She certainly inspired a generation of us to laugh intelligently. Thanks Jilly.