(Summer Solstice – June 21st )
The Festival of Growth
Litha is the season of expansion, when the crops burgeon forth. We forget winter’s cares and spend our days basking under the brilliant light of the Sun. According to the old folklore calendar, Summer begins on Beltane (May 1st) and ends on Lughnassadh (August 1st), with the Summer Solstice midway between the two, marking MID-Summer. As the Summer Solstice brings us the longest day of the year, the esbat of Mid-Summer, or Litha, celebrate the maximum power of the Sun. It directs our awareness to the culmination of the waxing year as the waning year begins. Various Pagan traditions mark this as a transition in reign from Oak King (who represents the waxing year) to Holly King (who represents the waning year), or from “bright Lord to dark Lord”. From now until Yule, the light will fade into darkness. It is often seen as a maturity phase for the lord, although some see it as a defeat in battle. The transition is the God recognizing his responsibilities as a husband in his sacred marriage to the Goddess and as a father and protector of her lands and her people, as the Goddess prepares Herself for harvest, Motherhood, and then Cronehood.
Summer Solstice is the entrance of Sun into the sign of Cancer. Ruled by the Moon–sign of our earthly home– Cancer is the womb of the Mother from which life emerges.
Litha is the height of the Divine Marriage making this a time of lovers and gardeners. The rutting fervor of Beltane has deepened into the passionate eroticism that grows when partners become familiar with one another’s rhythms and moods. It is the love between those committed by heart as well as body. It is also the love of parents for their children (be they two- or four-legged!). Everywhere we look, ripeness spills out from field and forest.
Also known as the Druidic “Alban Heruin”. On this longest day of the year, light and life are abundant. At mid-summer, the Sun God has reached the moment of his greatest strength. Seated on his greenwood throne, he is also lord of the forests, and his face is seen in church architecture peering from countless foliate masks.
The Christian religion converted this day of Jack-in-the-Green to the Feast of St. John the Baptist, often portraying him in rustic attire, sometimes with horns and cloven feet (like the Greek Demi-God Pan)
Midsummer Night’s Eve is also special for adherents of the Faerie faith.
The Goddess at Litha
At the Summer Solstice, the Goddess is the Generous Mother, Freya, Flora, Habondia, she who gives life and fruitfulness to all her children. Everything in nature is generous – otherwise we could not live. The apple tree makes hundreds of apples every year, when only one seed in one apple would be enough to reproduce the tree. Bees make honey so that the hive can survive the winter, but they keep on working all summer long, storing enough to share. Life could exist without roses, striped butterflies, songbirds, raspberries, or wildflowers, but the Goddess keeps making new forms of beauty everyday for us to enjoy.
The Goddess at Summer Solstice gives us not just what we need, but extra. We can feel close to her by being generous, giving more than we’re asked to give, and doing more than just our fair share. That way, we make abundance for all.
The rose is the Goddess’s symbol at this time of year. Roses bloom abundantly in June, and we can take joy in their sweet scent and the lovely colors of their petals.
The God at Litha
All through the first half of the year, since his birth at the Winter Solstice, the God has been growing into this life in the visible, tangible world. Now, at the Summer Solstice, he transforms. The God is the partner of the Goddess, bringing abundance to all of nature. He is Lugh (or Light), the Sun God, and he is the ancient power of life who was known simply as the Good God, Keeper of the Crops, provider for his people. The daylight is longest and strongest at this time, but now the power of night must begin to grow again. Everything and everyone who fulfills their purpose must change, must evolve.
Once He evolves, He goes to sleep in this world in order to be awake in the “Otherworld”. Before, he was awake in this world and asleep in the Dreamworld. Now he becomes the Dreamer, asleep in this world but awake in the world of dreams and visions, the seed of what will come to be in this world. He becomes the Messenger, carrying our hopes and prayers to the spirit realms.
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The Altar: Dress your altar in a white or golden yellow cloth. Decorate it with seasonal flowers.
At the Summer Solstice, decorate with seasonal flowers, cover the altar, especially with Roses for the Goddess and Sunflowers for the God. Any fresh fruits of the season and, of course, images of the sun, crops and sunflowers and appropriate symbols of the holiday.
You might have a special section on the altar for things to give away.
Let the things stay during the holiday season to soak up blessings, then give them away before Lughnasadh rolls around
On or around the altar, you might also want to place things you have completed and let go of, or are trying to let go of.
The Colors of Litha: White. Greens and browns for the Earth Goddess. Reds, yellows and gold for the Sun God.
Gold and green are the two most prevalent colors this time of year, not only because they represent the God and Goddess, but they are also the colors of Faerie Fire Magic.
Traditional Foods: Garden fresh fruits and vegetables are made into a variety of dishes.
Herbs and Flowers: St. John’s wort is one of the most popular associated with Litha, but also connected to the holiday are: Mugwort, Basil, Vervain, Parsley, Chamomile, Mint, Rose, Honeysuckle, Lily, Lotus, Lavender, Ivy, Yarrow, Fern, Elder, Wild Thyme, Daisy, Carnation and Dragon’s Blood.
Incense: it should be full and robust. Rose, Tangerine, Violet, Lemon, Myrrh, Frankincense, Pine, Cedar, Wisteria and Frangipani
Woods Burned: Oak. Fir, Mistletoe and Holly
Sacred Gemstone: Emerald
Special Activities: An Ideal time to reaffirm your vows to the Lord and Lady or your dedication to the old traditions.
MidSummer’s Fires are also a traditional activity of the holiday. Instead of 9 sacred woods being used, these are kindled of Oak and Fir. Gather with friends around a fire and discuss topics of love and life and give thanks. In ancient times the midsummer fires were used to hex the cattle for health and safety, to drive away baneful influences and they also represented the power of the sun at its zenith.
**** visit Divine Muse’s Pure Awakenings for How to Make a Sun Amulet.
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In addition to your usual magickal tools, you will need:
* Small Cloth Pouch of Summertime Herbs
* 1cup Fresh Spring Water
* White Goddess/God Candle
* Red Sun God Candle
* Green Earth Goddess Candle
* Summer Blend Incense (Jasmine, Rose, Lotus, Wysteria, or combination).
Sweep area moving in deosil manor. Set up Quarter Candles and any accessories symbolizing the Elements of the Quarters. Prepare your Pouch of Summertime Herbs, and as you make it, pour your troubles, pains, sorrows, illness, and regrets into it. Place the Cauldron in the center of your alter, the Red Sun candle to the right of it , the Green Goddess Candle to the left of it. Place the cup of Fresh Spring Water in front of the Goddess Candle. Take a shower or bath for purification. Sit quietly and meditate for a while, then ground and center. When ready, play some peaceful music for the ritual.
Cast the circle.
Pick up your Wand, and with arms upraised, face South and say:
“I celebrate the Mid-of-Summer, held in honor of the Blazing Sun God.
All of Nature vibrates with the fertileness of the Goddess and of the God.
The Earth basks in the light and life of the Sun.
The ever turning Wheel of the Year has made the light ever stronger
And the light has kept growing longer, until today…
The middle of the time of light, Litha, MidSummer’s Day, Summer Solstice.
From here, the light begins to fade, again, until once more the Wheel turns to the time of darkness, Yule, Winter Solstice.
Yet, for today, the Sun is high, the light is bright, the Earth is warm.
As the Sun God blazes above, may the fires of my rite flame below.”
Face the altar, put down your wand, and light the Green Goddess Candle to the left of your cauldron, saying:
“Oh, Mother of Nature, She that brings the meadow to bloom, Green Forest Mother, from lakes and streams your children spring forth.
Blessed Lady of the stars and the Moon, Fruitful Womb of which I honor, and ask of Thee, Thy Blessings.”
Light the Red Sun God Candle to the right of your cauldron, saying:
“Oh, Father of all things, He that plants the seed and nurtures Life.
God of Fertility and Fruitfulness, from hill and forest your children emerge.
Blessed Lord of the blazing Sun, potent Consort of which I honor, and of Thee, Thy Blessings.”
Take the Herb Pouch and hold above your head, saying:
“By thy power, oh sacred herbs, may the Lord of the Sun Burn away the hurtful, the troublesome, and the painful, Leaving me purified through His warmth and Light.”
Hold the pouch over your main Altar Candle to take flame. While it is burning, drop it in the cauldron, saying:
“Great Goddess and Great God, from Thee all powers flow forth.
The Two that are One, Great Spirit of All-That-Is,
By Thy powers, and the powers of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth,
By Thy powers, and the powers of the Sun, Moon, and Stars,
I banish these negatives from my life.”
Visualize the negatives burning away to nothingness. When all that is left is ashes, douse the ashes with the cup of Fresh Spring Water, feel as if the water were being poured over you and your negatives washed away. Air dry by dancing and running your hands up and down your arms, body, and legs. Don’t forget your head… lay it back and shake running your fingers through your hair. When done, face altar, wave hand over the cauldron and say:
“As the Phoenix rises from the ashes, so let this water be pure and new.
Mother Goddess, bless this water so that it may bless and renew me.
Father God, may your rays of the MidSummer Sun bless and nourish me.
Two that are One, may your blessings sustain me as I journey, anew.”
Pass your cupped hands over the cauldron, pausing briefly each time to ‘ pour ‘ in wishes for health, prosperity, and good fortune to be part of your life. Dip the forefinger of your right hand into the cauldron water, and trace a pentagram on your forehead, saying:
“Let my mind be open to the truth.”
Anoint your lips saying:
“Let my lips always speak the truth.”
Anoint your heart area, saying:
“Let my heart seek the ways of the Goddess, now and always.”
Anoint the centers of your palms, saying:
“Let my hands be gifted to work in magical ways.”
Anoint the soles of your feet, saying:
“Let my feet ever walk upon the sacred paths!”
Now is the time for meditation and any spellworkings. MidSummer spellworkings include: prosperity, fertility, and plentiful harvests.
Finish by having the Cakes and Ale Ceremony and releasing the circle.
Clean up. The Ritual is done.