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Il Blog di Lella Canepa


“The dew of San Giovanni cures all ailments”

Nostalgic post of ancient traditions, of things seen done, of gestures that we like to repeat.

To those who usually ask me: - But you don't believe in these things? - I always reply that it is not a question of believing or not believing, given that what I believe or not is a very personal question, but simply of finding within those gestures the people with whom I shared them.

I like traditions, customs, not only mine but also those of other peoples and countries and I often find those of my home in unknown places.

Thinking that a gesture has been done for years and years, that always, at least in my case, is done to bring good, joy, health, makes me do it without then wondering if it worked or not.

I'm already comfortable doing it.

It doesn't matter much that it is linked to religion, religion has often appropriated rites already in use before, frequently linked to the turning of the seasons, the rhythms of the sun and moon and so on.

In this case the feast of Saint John the Baptist, the only saint whose date of birth is celebrated as well as that of his death (six months before Jesus with whom he appears to be a cousin) by tradition more or less coinciding with the solstice in summer, it replaced those of the God Janus, the god of beginnings, two-faced, guardian of every change, of every entrance and exit, also guard of the "solstitial doors".

The similarity between Janus and Joannes is all too easy to notice, and even for the winter solstice a Saint John was used, in this case the Evangelist.

“When the lavender hears San Giovanni coming it wants to bloom”,

Returning to the Acqua di San Giovanni, for those who don't know it, it is simply a water where on the evening of June 23rd corollas of flowers and herbs are placed.

Left outdoors all night, it will enjoy the benefits of the dew of this magical night and the next morning it will be ready to be used to wash its face, eyes and body, having also acquired extraordinary powers, it will protect against illnesses, misfortunes and envy. .

The recipe is very simple to say the least, a basin, water, herbs and flowers.

Traditionally, herbs and flowers should be collected by a woman's hands, preferably on an empty stomach, at sunset on the 23rd, in odd numbers.

Spring water is best, a non-plastic basin, a transparent bowl is fine.

I often use copper, it has the power to expand energies.

Which herbs, which flowers? As much as possible, all those with proven particular healing properties or considered magical.

They cannot be missed, clicking on the name opens the page dedicated to that herb:

etc. etc., all those that come to mind, with recognized therapeutic and magical properties.

If you can't find them all, in some areas of Italy you end up using 100 herbs, a rose, a sprig of rosemary, a sprig of sage will still be enough, in short it's the magic of a particular night, a ritual...

It is advisable not to put toxic herbs of no or poor properties into the water that could cause discomfort even just by ablution, such as vitalba, mordigallina, erigeron, cicuta, senecio, datura jimsonweed, and others

Once everything is prepared and covered with water, it is taken outside and left exposed to the special dew all night.

The next morning, June 24, when you wake up, the water will be used to wash your face, eyes and body, enjoying its benefits.

It is still, apart from the dew, a cold macerate where herbs and flowers release their essences.

This water is an auspicious rite and should be taken as such, a glimmer of hope in this adrift world, where in case everything goes badly it will be enough to believe that it could have even been worse.

It cannot be kept, it must be given to friends if there is any leftover.

A possible interpretation is that since the figure of Saint John is linked to Baptism and necessarily to water, the promises are renewed with this rite.

June 24th is also more or less linked to the summer solstice, the night in which the witches dance, and the herbs are collected to be dried and used for herbal teas or oils, thanks to the particular dew that falls on this night they strengthen their properties .

- And tomorrow is Saint John,

dear brother: it is Saint John

I want to go around the Plaia

to see the severed head

inside the Sun at its appearance,

to see into the golden plate

all the blood boiling

- Iorio's daughter - G. D'Annunzio

The water of San Giovanni and also the herbs collected this night are just one of the many propitiatory rites to be performed on this magical night.

Even the harvesting of walnuts, the immature ones to make NOCINO ( here>>> ) always in odd numbers, usually 33 per liter of alcohol, traditionally takes place on the night between the 23rd and 24th ... « Sic mihi Nox, Nux Fuit ante diem » so for me there was, before the day, the Night and the Walnut...

Many rituals are linked to the possibility of finding a husband, or knowing who he will be or how rich or poor he will be...

As D'Annunzio narrates, reporting an ancient tradition of Abruzzo girls, Ornella will go at dawn on San Giovanni to try to see in the rising sun the profile of the severed head and the blood of the saint in the fiery outline and this will be a sign that she will get married within the year.

Or the custom of the three broad beans, which when wrapped and placed under the pillow will give the next morning the measure of how rich the husband will be...

Just as large bonfires are lit, so that the tongues of the flames strengthen the sun which, as the days shorten, begins to lose energy.

And then skip the ashes, throw some in your hair to protect yourself from all evils...

In short, let's get ready for what needs to be done...

2022 update

Every year I receive dozens of photos of your waters and I thank you, the ones below are just a few from a few years ago, it's impossible to list them all.

I thank those who approach this ancient rite with simplicity and a serene soul, because I know they do it with sincerity.

Sharing makes it a precious asset, feeling part of a community that did something for everyone tonight is a result already achieved, each of us asked for the other, for everyone.

Those who hide behind the sterile request for good and luck only for themselves which implies evil for others, do not win and are left alone to face what follows.

Strength is being together, the result is in the serenity of the next morning, happiness is sharing, common thought, and this is what any Catholic or pagan rite implies.

On the morning of June 24, 2020, for the well-known reasons related to the pandemic, I was physically alone doing my ablution, but in reality I had all of you close by. Thank you.

Share the post! and then come back, you will find interesting experiences .

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Lella Canepa, creator of " Women from Yesterday to Today " a fantastic exhibition later translated into a book and of " Erbando " a sophisticated event which always produces a " sold out " immediately, also translated into a Manual where you learn to learn about and collect edible wild herbs as our ancestors did.

Lella Canepa has always loved everything that is spontaneous, simple and natural and has cultivated a passion for everything that surrounds the manual world of women for years. passed down for generations from his mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

If you want, you can contact Lella here>>


All food or pharmaceutical uses indicated are for informational purposes only, the result of personal experience. I decline any responsibility for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.


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