Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Summer Solstice: Celebrating Litha

          It's officially the Summer Solstice and that means it's time to celebrate Litha! In my last article, I went over some of the prominent holidays that Pagan's recognize and when they are celebrated. As each date draws near I will do specials like this where I focus on each aspect of worship, celebration and what this specific holiday means to pagans in general.


What is Summer Solstice?

Photo by Kris Schulze from Pexels

        Litha is a holiday that celebrates the longest day of the year. It means that all that has been building and growing up to this point has met its apex. This is a time of year where we re-focus on (or set new) goals for the next six months and, if you worship a deity, renew your vows with them.
Historically speaking it was a day that our ancestors would bring cattle and livestock and walk them through an archway of torches for blessings of fertility, for both the livestock and the fields.

How should Litha be celebrated?

        By sacrificing an innocent as the moon rises... Just kidding! Sacrifices haven't been a practice (in any religion) for a very long time, so don't worry! Actually, Litha is a life celebration, a celebration of the sun and the warmth that the sun brings to the earth. It is also a celebration of Fire. Candles, bonfire parties, even a good old-fashioned barbecue are all great ways to celebrate.
        Foods fresh from the garden and fruits that are in season are great ingredients to add to a Litha meal, as well as ale and mead, honey cakes, wines, sun tea and even your favorite herbal tea. It's a display of reverence to what's been provided by the sun and the earth.
        Other than that there are those who dance, wake up with the sun, stay up all night to celebrate or just enjoy a long hike outside (If the weather permits). Point being, there's no set way to do it as long as you celebrate!

Decorating your altar for Summer Solstice?
My travel altar with
dried roses as a tribute,

        For those who keep one, decorating your altar can certainly set the mood for festivities. Like decorating eggs or a Christmas tree, the altar is a centerpiece for these holidays and can be decorated in different ways depending on the time of the year. A thing to note, however, is unlike a Christmas tree or decorating eggs, altars are used for energies/spirits/Divine. They are there to serve a spiritual purpose and should be respected. Now that we got that bit out of the way, there are an assortment of things that you can decorate your altar in,
       For starters, you can associate the season with many different aspects. Colors tend to be popular and there are several for Litha:
  • Gold
  • Red
  • Orange
  • Blue
  • Yellow
  • Green
     These can be implemented in bows, ribbons, shawls, figures. Just don't clutter your altar to the point that you can't use it. Some Pagans like to use animal figurines to symbolize the time of the year. Litha's animals are as follows:
  • Butterfly
  • Bee
  • Wren
  • Robin
  • Snake
     Litha also has Herbs and Plants associated with it. These herbs can be used dried or freshly picked from the garden.
  • Mugwort
  • Vervain
  • Chamomile
  • Rose
  • Honeysuckle
  • Lily
  • Oak
  • Lavender
  • Ivy
  • Yarrow
  • Fern
  • Wild Thyme
  • Daisy
  • Carnation
  • St. Johns Wort
     Now I'm certainly not saying you can't enjoy each Holiday unless you have everything listed here, that's certainly not what I'm implying. Even finding one or two things that could be added would be just fine to celebrate with, no one will judge you for it. 

Midsummer Night

    One last thing to add before I wrap up this post is Midsummer Night. It may sound fairly familiar, especially if you have read Shakespeare even once in your life. In his play, the scene is set at Midsummer night when all the mischievous Faeries (Fairies) came out to celebrate. His play was indeed based off of the tales of Midsummer's Night when the Fae-Folk were more likely to appear. The veil between worlds is also thin on this night so if you have a hand at Divination, it would be a good time to get some readings done!
   A fun event if there are parents out there with little ones is to set out a small bowl with a little bit of honey and some berries before they go to bed for the Faeries. If they like their treat they will bless your home for the coming year. I hope you enjoyed this segment and I hope the rest of your week ( And your Solstice) goes well. Bright Blessings!

To learn about other Pagan holidays, click here!