Get out your cha-cha pumps and your fireworks because today, June 23, is St. John’s Eve, the eve of the world wide celebration before the Feast Day of St. John the Baptist. What marks this day so special is that the Feast of St. John’s is one of the few Saint’s days to mark the anniversary of the birth, rather than the death, of its namesake. Because it coincides with the June solstice, beach party’s will abound all over the world. Especially in Europe and South America where celebrants will be reveling in an explosion of fireworks and bonfires that will burn all night long.
Though it is pretty much a time of celebration designed to invoke summer fun, groups like the Knights Hospitallers originally observed the Feast of St. John’s for gathering St. John’s Wort (Hypericum which means “Above a picture”) and hanging it over their doors, windows, and icons to ward off evil spirits. They believed it protected them against evil spirits that roamed freely when the sun turns southwards again. They also believed, correctly, that St. John’s wort had miraculous healing powers and for centuries harvested it on exactly this night.. Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same, St. John’s wort is still harvested around this week, albeit in vast agricultural farms throughout Europe and China. And, just like in the good old days, bonfires are lit to celebrate. It’s a worldwide affair with a fingerprint in all manner of spiritual exercise. Even Marie Laveau, the famous Voodoo priestess, was said to have held voodoo ceremonies on the Bayou St. John in New Orleans commemorating St. John’s Eve. Voodoo practitioners there still keep her tradition alive. To be sure, hundreds of double blind, placebo controlled studies have taught us much about the pharmacology of St. John’s Wort and millions of people all over the world can now use it as a treatment for depression, sleep disorders, chronic tension headaches, menopausal disorders, mild neuralgic and rheumatic pain.
Who would of thought such a pretty little flower can bring so much healing and party power to the world!