As the sun spirals its longest dance,
As nature shows bounty and fertility
Let all things live with loving intent
And to fulfill their truest destiny.
~ from a Wiccan Summer Blessing (as reported by the BBC)
Happy Litha (Summer Solstice) to those of us in the northern hemisphere, and Happy Yule to our friends below the equator! On this day (above the equator) the Sun, giver of life, reaches its zenith in the sky. Today, the Shadow is smallest, the bright Sun illuminates all!
From this day forward, Her daily arc moves further south, the days grow shorter, and the harvest season beckons.
The word solstice comes from the Latin, meaning “sun (sol) stands still (sistere).” This is because twice a year, for a few days, the sun appears to rise and set in exactly the same place.
Glory of the Day-Star, hail!
Lifter of the Light, Burnisher of the Sky.
Gifts of love to earth are bringing,
Summer’s shimmer, dew’s delight.
Dancing be the heart within us,
Open be our souls to bliss,
Courage vanquish every shadow,
Greet Midsummer with a kiss.
Caitlín Matthews – Celtic Devotional: Daily Prayers and Blessings
Throughout the world, monuments like Stonehenge are tuned to this event: it is an unmistakable point from which the rest of the yearly calendar may be accurately reckoned.
Solstice rites are associated with, not only Stonehenge in England, but Casa Rinconada at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico; Carrowkeel cairn in Ireland; the Big Horn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming; the Caracol Tower in Mexico; and the Pyramid of Khufu at Giza in Egypt.
This date has had spiritual significance for thousands of years as humans have celebrated the life-giving powers of the Sun.
The Celts celebrated this Quarter Holiday with bonfires, feasting, and merry-making until the Christians attempted to replace it with the feast of John the Baptist. As you can see from these images, taken this morning at Stonehenge, the pre-Christian celebrations are making a powerful comeback. And the celebration of Summer Solstice is still a huge holiday in Scandinavia, Latvia, and Estonia (where it is second only to Christmas).
The Summer Solstice is called Midsummer or Litha in some medieval and Craft traditions; and Alban Hefin or Alban Heruin in other Celtic and Druid traditions. In the mythical cycle, this is the end of the reign of the Oak King, and the beginning of the Holly King’s rule.
Today we celebrate the ending of the waxing year and the beginning of the waning year, in preparation for the harvest to come. Midsummer is when all may absorb the Sun’s warming rays and it is a celebration of fertility, not only for humans, but also for crops, animals and all beings.
Some Craft traditions consider the Goddess to be heavy now with pregnancy, from Her mating at Beltane. So we honor The Lady.
And The Lord is celebrated with the Sun at its peak in the sky; we celebrate His approaching fatherhood – honor also to Him!
Litha is a time of great magical power. All forms of Sun magic are going to be amplified, and especially effective are spells for love, healing, and prosperity. This is also a very good time to perform blessings and protection spells for your pets and home.
As you gather your Green Allies on this Midsummer’s Day, you might chant this, thrice before and thrice after:
Herbs of magick, herbs of power,
Root and bark, leaf and flower,
Work for me when charms are spoken,
Potions brewed and curses broken!
We may wish now to reassess and renew the vows we made in our Yule Sun-Wheel Prayer Circle. The need is more urgent than ever, so let us rise up, and be about the healing and blessing of one another, and our holy Mother Earth.
Awaken, children of Earth and all of creation. Come forth and shine on this brightest day of days, all you peacemakers, teachers, visionaries, leaders, and beloveds of the Beloved!
In the way of our ancestors, we rejoice and celebrate this Turning of the Wheel.
Blessings to you and all Beings!