Litha is a celebration of the Summer Solstice, also known as Midsummer, occurring in the Northern Hemisphere on the 21st of June. It marks the longest day and shortest night of the year and this happens when the Earth’s pole reaches its maximum tilt toward the sun, making it the longest period of daylight.
Litha celebrated by pagans is the name given to the Wiccan Sabbat, marking the pinnacle of the Sun’s power to fuel the growing season. Litha is a celebration of the Sun King who is now in his Full Power and the Goddess of the Earth who is pregnant and bringing forth the greatest abundance of the year. The summer is at its peak of it’s life giving power, and their marriage is in full bloom, their love for each other grows stronger and life on earth is flourishing with fertility, beautiful new growth and vitality. This is a season of expansiveness and is a celebration of joy and achievements.
This is a time to honour what blessings you have received this year, and enjoy the peak of summer before the days start to get shorter and the nights grow longer. Summer Solstice marks the turning point of the wheel once more, and with it the promise of abundant joy.
The energy surrounding summer solstice draws in abundance, growth, masculine energy, love and magic. Yet within this climatic point of solar energy, a reminder of the return of the dark half of the year. As light reaches its peak, this is also the moment where the sun begins to wane, as Earth embarks on its journey away from the sun. This is a transitional period between the light half of the year and the dark half of the year, until eventually we are greeted by Yule.
TRADITIONS AND SYMBOLS OF LITHA
In old Europe, the Summer Solstice, or Midsummer, was an important fire festival. Traditionally people stayed up all night on Midsummer's Eve to welcome and watch the sunrise. Bonfires were lit on tops of hills, by holy wells, at places held sacred, to honour the fullness of the Sun. At Litha the bonfire really represents a reflection of the Sun at the peak of its strength. It was also considered that lighting a bonfire would protect and watch over your home or village, by banishing evil spirits. People often lit torches and lit their home fires with it, to bring in good luck and good fortune. The chosen wood for the fire would often be Oak to honour the Oak King, and aromatic herbs were scattered into the fire. People danced around the fires and leaped over them. Blazing herbs from the sacred bonfire were used to bless the animals and their crops, and in some ancient traditions, villages would set wheels of straw or cartwheels smeared with pitch ablaze and then roll them down the hill to signify the suns decent. Farmers would bring their sheep and cattle down next to the sacred fire, walking around them three times, to harness blessings that would keep them healthy and productive for the coming year. Once a bonfire cooled, people ceremoniously gathered the ashes, these were then mixed with seeds before planting them in the fields to ensure a good harvest.
Tree worship has always played a large role in Midsummer festivities and trees near wells and fountains were decorated with coloured cloths. The Oak King who has ruled the waxing of the year represents strength, courage and endurance, and the Oak has always been particularly significant at Litha. The Celtic name for Oak is 'Duir' which means 'doorway' - we are crossing the threshold, entering the doorway into the second, waning part of the year.
HOW TO BRING THE MAGIC OF LITHA INTO YOUR LIFE…
Light a bonfire outside outside or burn a candle indoors, write on a piece of paper all the things you wish to let go of watch as the words disappear, imagine everything being released into the Universe, feel yourself become lighter.
Set intentions or prayers with the themes of change and transformation.
Gather wildflowers and adorn yourself and your home with them.
Swim in rivers, sea or lakes, or even cleanse yourself under waterfalls.
Attend a local ceremony at dawn.
TREES, COLOURS AND HERBS ASSOCIATED WITH LITHA