Celebrating Litha – Summer Solstice – My Long Standing Traditions
I wrote last year on the meaning and symbolism of Litha, and the joys of celebrating Litha, so I’m keen not to repeat myself but also to bring you a fun and lively blog article.
We all love Litha! I don’t deny that is a sweeping statement and that some people may find this their least favourite sabbat, but personally, for me, I don’t see what’s not to love. And I mean that very genuinely.
For more years than I can count, I dreaded the coming of Spring, never mind the coming of summer and the warmest of the weather. I disliked almost everything about it. Hot weather makes me uncomfortable when I am living my every day normal life – working, house work, shopping, other regular chores – all are an utter misery when it is hot and dry outside and stuffy inside. The flowers and trees make me sneeze, there are no pumpkins, cosy dark nights to watch scary films don’t happen as it’s always a little light, and you can’t have a good outdoor fire until it’s so late you’ve fallen asleep anyway. Never my idea of fun.
But then, a good few years ago, I attended a course of Mindfulness sessions. I re-discovered the necessity of meditation. I began slowing down my mind – which took an awful lot of practice, failure and perseverance on my part. The wonders and the joys of Litha and the Summer started to re-awaken in my mind, slowly and gradually, a little more every year.
I began to notice the beauty in the abundance of colours and shapes of the blooms gifted to us by Mother Earth, I reconnected with the soft grass and cool brown dirt beneath my bare feet, and stood frequently to appreciate the warm caress of the Sun God brushing his golden tones over my skin.
This re-connecting with the warmer months forced me to realise how out of sync my mind and practices had become from the Wheel of the Year, how unbalanced my appreciation of Mother Earth had become. It was a joy to feel this balance seeping back into both my conscious and instinctive mind. The journey was a difficult one, and ironically, a walk through darkness to a very specific point when the last notch on the Wheel fell perfectly into place.
Now that I have found this realignment and the freedom to work with it as and how I can and will, the myriad of ideas in my mind and the prevailing of natural instinct is like nothing I have known before. So now that the joys of the summer months is something I have again learned to embrace, here are two of my favourite ways to honour and celebrate Litha – Summer Solstice and two new ideas I will be trying this year.
At this time of year flowers of every colour are in such abundance, growing in all of the likely and unlikely places, everywhere the May Queen showered with the grace of her silent steps as she walked lightly through the Earth, her belly swelling as the buds prepared to bloom and flowers began to open petal by petal in the growing warmth in the world.
Chose your favourite flowers, or chose flowers that make you feel close to the May Queen, who is now our pregnant Goddess, or chose the flowers that speak to you at the time you choose them. What’s important is making the choice that FEELS right to you at the time. Work with the flowers to make yourself a beautiful crown in honour of the Goddess and her consort, the Oak King, the Green man. Personally the act of weaving my flowers into a beautiful crown is as vital a part of my Litha rituals as anything else. I feel the blessings of the Goddess as I place flower after flower into my crown. I work mindfully, taking special care of each and every bloom and giving thanks for the gift of these flowers for me to work with. Once the crown is finished I meditate (safely) under the masculine energy of the sun, the beauty and delicacy of the flowers a wonderful contrast to the strength and warmth of the masculine energy of the sun. During this time of meditation I focus my own energy on manifestation and positivity and then allow my mind journey as it will.
In Scandinavia it is believed that herbs and flowers picked on the Summer Solstice will have magical properties so what better time to walk through the woods or the country side, or to prune the herbs in your garden, to bring some extra magic into your life.
The most fiery colours are ones to wear on this Midsummer’s day – red, gold, orange, yellow and deep browns are the colours that I choose to wear during this celebration
Bonfires & Candle Magic
If you have the means, a roaring bonfire with flames high into the air and burning late into the night and early morning is a great way to celebrate the Goddess and the Oak King – the Green Man. We light ritual and symbolic fires, acknowledging that this is the longest day in the turn of the Wheel, and to feel the warmth of the flames that will warm us in the coming months.
It is customary to take embers and remains of the fire over the coming days (only once everything has cooled and it is safe to do so) to use as kindling and ash in the bottom of your fires over the colder months, keeping with you the life and soul of the May Queen and The Oak King.
If you don’t have the means / space / inclination to build a big bonfire that’s in no way makes your celebration of Litha any less meaningful. A candle burning with the intent of the sabbat has as much symbolism and honour for the Goddess and God as a bonfire.
I see a witch riding a broomstick in the flames just above; what do you see? Let me know in the comments below.
Some Pagan gatherings, and gatherings of anyone else celebrating Litha – summer solstice, light high and blazing bonfires into which herbs and magically blessed spell bags and charms are scatted and offered to ensure a full and bountiful harvest in the coming months. Often celebrations go on through the night until dawn, when the now waning sun peeks above the horizon as the Oak King begins to diminish and the Holly King’s strength returns to him. Much merriment is had, dancers skip around the fire, drink deeply and feast on the plenty offered by the Spring time.
Many of these fires are as close as is safe to a home of the majestic Oak to both pay respects to the Oak King who is defeated on this night by the Holly King, who many believe, and I personally believe, to be the opposite side of the Gods personality, the balance to guide us through the dark half of the year.
Again, only if it is safe to do so, another custom is to make a wish whilst jumping over the fire. PLEASE PLEASE take a lot of care and be sensible if you want to try this. CHILDREN DO NOT TRY THIS. You can achieve this with even the smallest of fires – pop some tea lights in jars of step over the hot coals of a BBQ pit once the fire is out and the embers are glowing.
Celebrating Litha – Summer Solstice – New Celebration Ideas
Make a Fairy Garden
Whilst a fairy garden is not a new idea to me, I have never sat and spent the time making a place for our most magical and mischievous friends. So this is one of the new ideas I am going to work on over the Litha period this year.
The Fae are out in all of their glittering glory during the warm months, and most especially at the Summer Solstice which is second only to Beltane for the revelry of the Fae. Leave an offering slightly outside of the light of the fire; cookies, milk or something else sweet to appease and please the Fae as the dance and sparkle with you on Midsummers Night. When you pick your magical herbs and flowers, be sure to pause a moment yo ask permission of the Fae of the garden and take only what you need; do not kill or strip bare any herb or flower, leave at least 70% along with a coin or pretty pebble as thanks to the guardians of that natural space.
And with so many of the Fae out and enjoying the Summer Solstice frivolities just as much as the rest of us, why not make then a beautiful space to be in. fairy houses, bridges, lights and decorations are all magically enchanting ways to spend some time in your garden or other outdoor space.
Make a Bee Bath
This is the second new idea I will be bringing into my Litha work this year. Like with the fairy gardens above, I have always been aware of the importance of bees, and who can miss the initiatives over the last 5-10 years to educate everyone on how and why our furry winged friends are vital to us.
Recently I have felt a strengthening pull towards going more for these friends of our Mother Earth, and I adored this idea I have seen in a few places. The idea is to provide a place for bees to find a source of fresh water to help them in their endless quest to pollinate our Earth, which leads us to two main questions – why and how.
- How: fill a shallow dish with fresh still water, add pebbles and stones that come above the surface of the water, and leave for the bees to find and use as they need to. Make sure are high enough so the bees don’t drown, and low enough so they can reach the water.
- Why: bees collect water for lots of reasons; to keep their hive cool, the feed their babies and to hep dilute the honey they make. And of course, bees need to drink just like the rest of us.
So there we have it, another rambling on Celebrating Litha – Summer Solstice from me. Thank you for reading Celebrating Litha – Summer Solstice and I hope you enjoyed.
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