Litha (LEE-tha)/SUMMER SOLSTICE/ Midsummer
Also known as: Midsummer’s Eve, Gathering Day, St. John’s Day, St. John’s Eve, Summer Solstice, Feill-Sheathain, Alban Heruin, Alban Hefin, Gathering Day, Vestalia, La Festa dell’Estate, the Day of the Green Man. (Summer is considered to begin around May 1st, with Beltane/May Day in the Northern Hemisphere.)
What we’re celebrating on a mystical level on Litha is the light, Litha means light. This festival is dedicated to the life-giving, regenerative powers of the Sun. This is the longest day and shortest night of the year. It marks the pinnacle of the Sun’s power to fuel growth and to support life to its fullest potential.
The Summer Solstice is the peak of our Solar year, the height of its virility. This is a time of gathering, a festival of community sharing and planetary service. On Midsummer’s Eve, build a bonfire! Stay up all night, dance, drum, share stories and songs. Burn your Yule wreath in the Summer Solstice bonfire. Keep a sacred fire going to honor the light, even just one candle lit throughout will do. Welcome the rising Sun. Some people hold their Litha rituals at noon, when the Sun is at its highest. Have a picnic. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Herbs gathered on this day are said to be extremely powerful. And Litha is considered an excellent time to create medicine and to give blessings for the protection of all life forms. What medicine does Litha hold for you? Celebrate the abundance and beauty of the Earth. Make a pledge to Her of something you will do to improve your environment.
Within this solar climax is the whisper and promise of a return to the Dark. As the light reaches its peak, so this is also the moment when the power of the Sun begins to wane. From this day on, the days will shorten, growing shorter and shorter until Yule. We feel the great turning of the wheel drawing us into the shadow side of the year, the dark.
Myth has it that there are two Kings who rule the year. The Oak King, reigns from Midwinter to Midsummer, the period of fertility, expansion and growth. This is the yang or waxing ½ of the year. The Holly King reigns from midsummer to midwinter, the period of harvest, retreat, and wisdom, the yin or waning ½ of the year. Each represents a necessary phase in the natural rhythm of things, both are essential. Twins of the light and dark, each is the others alternate self, and so they are one. At the two changeover points, they symbolically meet in combat. The incoming twin, the Holly King at midsummer “slays” the outgoing Oak King. The defeated twin is not dead he has merely ceded his place for the six months of his brother’s rule. Thus the solstices represent a time of equality and balance between yang and yin, between the light of day and the dark of night.
Litha celebrates the ending of the waxing year and the beginning of the waning year, with creative expression reaching its height at the harvest. Some believe that on this day at twilight, the portals between worlds open. “Show me the magic”.*
…created for the Women of Nissa’s Fire Circle for LITHA by Elsa Katana 2019 *quote from the movie The Tempest after William Shakespeare