T’was grace that drew down the Moon
And grace that raised the sea,
The magic of our people’s will
Will set our Mother free.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Blessings of Litha! May the children of Earth awaken, rise up, and be about the sacred healing of our home. In the way of our ancestors, we honor the Turning.
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 light diminishes, the days grow shorter, and the harvest season beckons.
The word “solstice” literally means “standing-still of the sun.” It comes from the fact that the sun’s apparent path across the sky moves upward, from December to June, and seems to stop at its highest level above the southern horizon on this date. You can see why monuments like Stonehenge were tuned to this event: it is an unmistakable point from which the rest of the yearly calendar may be accurately reckoned.
The Summer Solstice is called Midsummer or Litha in some medieval and Craft traditions; and Alban Hefin or Alban Heruin in the Celtic and Druidic 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. The Oak King and the Holly King are, respectively, Gods of the Waxing Year and the Waning Year.
The Oak King rules from Midwinter to Midsummer – the period of Fertility, Expansion and Growth; while the Holly King reigns from Midsummer to Midwinter – the period of Harvest, Withdrawal and Wisdom. They are the light and dark twins, each being the other’s alternate self, thus being one. Each represents a necessary and good phase in the natural rhythm. At the two changeover points, they symbolically meet in combat. The incoming twin “slays” the outgoing one. At Yule, the Oak King overcomes the Holly King, and today, at Litha, the Holly King triumphs. But neither defeated twin is actually considered dead. He has merely withdrawn during the six months of his brother’s rule.
Lore tells us that on Midsummer’s Night, the field and forest elves, sprites, and faeries abound in great numbers. This a fortuitous time to commune with them if we are respectful and wary, for the Good People are an ancient race: the powerful, fey Shining Ones.
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. Witches consider the Goddess to be heavy now with pregnancy from Her mating at Beltane and great honor is given to Her. The God is celebrated as the Sun is at its peak in the sky and we celebrate His approaching fatherhood – honor is also given to Him.
Litha is considered a time of great magical power. Especially effective are magic and spells for love, healing and prosperity. This is also a very good time to perform blessings and protection spells for your pets and home. Hanging boughs of fennel and honeysuckle bring sweetness and protection.
A fire lit and kept alight until midnight brings good luck to the house and its occupants. Dreams will also be more lucid on this night, and it is an ideal time for divination.