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.
by Caitlín Matthews, from Celtic Devotional: Daily Prayers and Blessings
Happy Solstice to all!
Happy Litha (Summer Solstice) to those of us in the northern hemisphere, and Happy Yule (Winter Solstice) to our friends below the equator!
On this day (above the equator) at 12:38pm Eastern time, 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, She diminishes, the days grow shorter, and the harvest season beckons.
The word solstice is Latin, meaning ‘sun standing still.’
This is because twice a year, the Sun appears to rise and set in exactly the same place. Throughout the world, the ancients were tuned to this event: it is an unmistakable point from which the rest of the yearly calendar may be accurately reckoned.
This date has had spiritual significance for thousands of years as humans have celebrated the life-giving powers of the Sun.
The Celts celebrated with bonfires, and then the Christians attempted to replace Litha with the feast of John the Baptist. It is also the festival of Li, the Chinese Goddess of light. It is still a huge holiday in Scandinavia, Latvia, and Estonia (where it is second only to Christmas).
Solstice rites are associated with diverse cultures and sites the world over, including Stonehenge in England, 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.
The Summer Solstice is a quarter sabbat and is called Midsummer or Litha in some medieval and Craft traditions; and Alban Hefin or Alban Heruin in other Celtic and Druid traditions.
Birthing the Darkness
Today is the ending of the waxing year and the beginning of the waning year, in preparation for the harvest to come. In the mythical cycle, this is the end of the reign of the Oak King, and the beginning of the Holly King’s rule.
From this day forward, the days grow shorter, and the Sun’s light declines, until Winter Solstice, when its growth, and the dominance of the Oak King, are rekindled once more.
But for now, we celebrate the peak of the daylight. Midsummer is when all that lives radiates with the Sun’s warming rays. This is a fiery celebration of fertility, not only for humans, but also for crops, animals and all beings.
Some Witches consider the Goddess to be heavy now with pregnancy from Her mating at Beltane; others see that She is now in Her great nurturing and Mothering splendor. In all cases, we honor Her.
The God is also celebrated, as the Sun is at its peak in the sky and we celebrate Him as the good Father, a giver of light and life – Honor to Him, as well!
Litha: A Time of Great Magical Power
As I mentioned yesterday, besides Beltane, this is one of the most active times for our Faery cousins. Those who are wise in the ways may wish to leave them special offerings of cream, honey, or hand-made treats. Not in exchange for favors, mind you, but as gifts to honor and thank them — pure, simple, and no strings attached.
It is also an old tradition that couples who became enchanted with one another at Beltane are now given the opportunity to make a more permanent commitment at Litha. They may do so by jumping the bonfire (or a burning cauldron fire) into which the nine blessed herbs (as I described yesterday) have been cast.
And all forms of Sun magic are going to be amplified. Herbs and other natural items used in magic are especially charged with powerful life-enhancing properties at this time.
This is a particularly effective time for for love, healing, and prosperity spells. It is also ideal for working your most profound and global spells, with the full force of Sol carrying you.
Harness this magical energy to perform blessings and protection spells for your pets and home. Hanging boughs of fennel and honeysuckle bring sweetness and protection.
Midsummer’s Day is a traditional time to gather herbs from the magical garden or from the wild (in a mindful, responsible manner only – never wild harvest a plant that is threatened or stressed) to use in potions, dream pillows, poppets, and other forms of spellcraft.
As you gather your Green Allies on Midsummer’s Day, you might leave an offering, and 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!
May The Sacred Source of Life Bless Us, Every One
May our Great Awakenings now gather irresistible momentum! May the old shadow spells of fear and powerlessness now melt away like mist that dissolves under the bright beams of the Solstice Sun.
May all the children of Earth now rise up, and re-dedicate to the urgent healing and empowerment we need, for one another, and especially for our holy Mother Earth.
In the ways of our ancestors, we honor the Turning.
Blessings this day, to you and to all Beings!