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, She diminishes, the days grow shorter, and the harvest season beckons.
The word solstice is Latin, meaning ‘sun stands still.’ This is because twice a year, the sun appears to rise and set in exactly the same place. Throughout the world, 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.
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, Christians attempted to replace Litha with the feast of John the Baptist, and it is also the festival of Li, the Chinese Goddess of light. Solstice rites are associated with diverse cultures and sites ranging from Stonehenge in England, to the Big Horn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, to the Caracol Tower in Mexico and the Pyramid of Khufu at Giza in Egypt.
The Summer Solstice is called Midsummer or Litha in some medieval and Craft traditions; and Alban Hefin or Alban Heruin in other 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.
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. So we honor Her. The God is celebrated as the Sun is at its peak in the sky and 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 Midsummer’s Day, you might chant this, thrice before and thrice after:
Root and bark, leaf and flower,
Work for me when charms are spoken,
Potions brewed and curses broken!
May the children of Earth awaken, rise up, and be about healing and blessing we need to give one another, and for our holy Mother Earth, our home. In the way of our ancestors, we honor the Turning.
Blessings to you and all Beings!