Litha (the Summer Solstice) marks the longest day of the year. During the summer solstice, it is the time of the first harvest and the celebration of this bounty.
In times gone by this Sabbat was celebrated with large bonfires, they were burned to promote purification, fertility, and love. To leap over the bonfire was to assure a good crop and to encourage these qualities in themselves. This Sabbat glorifies the Sun God and the Sun, fire plays a very prominent role in this festival. The element of Fire is the most easily seen and felt element of transformation.
Litha comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase Aerra Litha, which means “before Midsummer.” At this time the Goddess is fully pregnant, and the Sun God is at the height of his power. Litha is the traditional time for gathering magical and medicinal plants to dry and store for winter use. In Wales, Midsummer is called Gathering Day. Midsummer Night’s Eve has traditionally been a day to perform love and healing magic. This is also a perfect time to communicate with fairies, forest sprites, and pixies.
June was said to be the luckiest month to be married in and is the time of the mead moon or honeymoon. One tradition was for newlyweds to drink mead daily for a month after their wedding, which is why the post-wedding holiday was named the honeymoon. Even though the days begin to grow shorter after the Summer Solstice, the time of greatest abundance is still to come. The promises of the Goddess and God are still to be fulfilled.
Most cultures of the Northern Hemisphere mark Midsummer in some ritualized manner and people past and present acknowledge the rising of the sun on this day. At Stonehenge, the heel stone marks the midsummer sunrise as seen from the centre of the stone circle.
This is a good time for protection magic, empowerment magic, male rituals, and becoming in tune with nature spirits. It is a time of bravery, strength, and overcoming.
Put a ring of flowers around your cauldron.
Hang a bundle of fresh herbs out to dry.
Litha is a time for healing of all kinds, and protection rituals.
Make a Wicker Man and burn him in your bonfire.
Decorate your altar with Rose flowers.
Leave out milk and honey as an offering to the Fae folk.
Make a charm to hang around your neck with a seashell.
Have an outdoor breakfast picnic to welcome the Solstice.
Stay up and watch the sun come up on the longest day of the year, or watch the sun come down.
Take a picture of the sun at sunrise and sunset.
Try a fire divination, stare into the coals of your bonfire as it settles, or look for forms in the leaping flames.
Create a ritual to bring healing and love to Mother Earth.
Make protection amulets for friends and family, dispose of last year’s Litha bonfire.
Light a white candle and place it in front of a mirror. Say your own Litha prayer over it, and then let it burn out.
Burn the remnants of your Yule Tree in the bonfire to burn away bad luck.
Jump the balefire or cauldron.
Hang a bundle of fresh herbs out to dry and use them to spice up a Litha feast of cooked summer vegetables
* Offer a gift of lavender to the Gods in a bonfire.
Make staffs, dream pillows, or a witches’ ladder.
Go bird watching. Take a guidebook, so you will know what you are looking at. The birds may bless you with a feather.
Division: Minor Sabbat
Other Names: Summer Solstice, Midsummer, Alban Hefin, Sun Blessing, Gathering Day, Whit Sunday, Feill-Sheathain, Whitsuntide, Vestalia, Thing-tide, St. John’s Day.
Southern Hemisphere Date: Dec 20-23
Northern Hemisphere Date: June 21
Associated Holiday: Feast of John the Baptist
Associated Deities: Mother Earth, Father Sun, and the fairy people
Associated Herbs: Rose, lavender, St John’s Wort, chamomile