At Summer Solstice
“As the sun spirals its longest dance,
As nature shows bounty and fertility
Let all things live with loving intent
And to fulfill their truest destiny”
Summer Solstice or Litha is a sacred time, and has been for millennia… but these days its most commonly referred to as the longest day of the year, celebrated by most on 21st June…
A solstice is an astronomical event that happens twice each year, when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is most inclined toward or away from the Sun, causing the Sun’s apparent position in the sky to reach its northernmost or southernmost extreme. The name is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still i.e. the apparent movement of the Sun’s path north or south comes to a stop before reversing direction.
Solstices, together with the equinoxes, are connected with the seasons. In some cultures they are considered to start or separate the seasons, while in others they fall nearer the middle.
Litha in the pagan calendar is a major event. The Goddess took over the earth from the horned God at the beginning of spring and she is now at the height of her power and fertility. For some Pagans the Summer Solstice marks the marriage of the God and Goddess and see their union as the force that creates the harvest’s fruits.
This is a time to celebrate growth and life and time to acknowledge that the sun will now begin to decline once more towards winter. When celebrating midsummer Pagans draw on many diverse traditions. In England thousands of people like to go to places of ancient religious sites such as Stonehenge and Avebury, stone circles and cairns to see the sun rising and celebrate through to sunrise next day.
Some of the traditional ways for Solstice:
Staying up all night on Midsummer’s Eve or waking before dawn to welcome and watch the sunrise is an ancient tradition we can still echo today. Bonfires were lit on hilltops and at holy wells and places held sacred, to honour the fullness of the Sun’s strength. Oak and herbs are scattered into the fire.
Honouring trees, especially the mighty Oak has always played a large role in Midsummer festivities and trees near wells and fountains are still decorated today. The Oak King who has ruled the waxing half of the year represents strength, courage and endurance. The Celtic name for Oak is ‘Duir’ which means ‘doorway’ – we are crossing the threshold, entering the doorway into the waning light for the remainder of the year.
Mistletoe was and is, highly revered by the Druids. It is regarded as particularly potent when it grows on Oak, the noblest of trees, growing between the worlds of Heaven and Earth. Although it is more commonly associated with Yule and the Winter Solstice, it is often gathered for ceremony at Midsummer when it is regarded as being at the height of its power.
All herbs are reaching their peak of healing and nurturing potency. Giving a bunch of herbs as a gift on Midsummer Day is a lovely way to honour our old traditions.
I tend to mark it in my own way, as we all can. I light a fire and give thanks in meditation for all the bounty Mother Nature gives. I think about everything I am grateful to have in my life. Depending on whether the moon is waxing (growing toward fullness) or waning (growing smaller) I write a list of all I wish to manifest in the coming months or a list of what I wish to release or banish from my life and give it to the fire.
Traditional flowers and herbs to bring into the home are : Lavender, Camomile, Roses, Daisy, Lily, but all flowers in bloom from the environment around your home are perfect to honour mother nature.
Incense to burn:
Frankincense, Lemon, Rose, Wisteria, Lavender, Golden Nag Champa
Traditional colours for Litha:
Blue, Green, Yellow
If you have an altar (or a mantelpiece or small table or shelf will do!) you can bring in dried herbs, Potpourri, Seashells, Summer Flowers, Fruits to decorate.
Foods and drink is seasonal, you may like to feast on summer fruits, ale, mead, and seasonal fresh veggies.
However you choose to spend Litha…
– Bright Blessings and enjoy the sunshine!