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.
Caitlin Matthews, Celtic Devotional: Daily Prayers and Blessings
I send you all the blessings of this happy day!
May the children of Earth awaken, rise up, and, in the ways of our ancestors, let us honor the Turning.
Happy Litha (Summer Solstice) to those of us in the northern hemisphere, and Happy Yule to our friends below the equator! At 0:28am this morning (Eastern Daylight time), the Sun moved into the sign of Cancer. At that moment, above the equator, the Sun, giver of life, reached its zenith in the sky.
Today, the Shadow is smallest, the bright Sun illuminates all! After a slight pause, 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 for several days at its highest level above the southern horizon on this date.
You can understand 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 Druid traditions.
Lore tells us that on this Midsummer’s Night, like Midsummer Night’s Eve last night, in field and forest, the Good Folk may abound in great numbers.
This a fortuitous time to commune with them if we are respectful and wary, for these are the very real, powerful, noble Shining Ones, not fantasy game characters. For more suggestions about that, refer to my post from yesterday.
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.
Rites of the Light
In the Northern Hemisphere, we mark this day as 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. With the Sun now in the Mothering sign of Cancer, especially effective are magic and spells for love, nurturing, healing, and prosperity. This is also a very good time to perform blessings and protection spells for your pets and home.
Your rites might include placing a flower-ringed cauldron upon your altar and plunging an athame into it – an enactment of the Great Rite, which conjures intense fertility and creative power to your will.
Altar decorations might include Summertime flowers, love amulets, seashells, aromatic potpourri, and Summer fruits. Hanging boughs of fennel and honeysuckle especially 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.
Also very popular are bonfire leaping (outdoors) and the gathering and drying of herbs. Herbs can be (carefully!) dried over your ritual fire if you’re celebrating outdoors. Leap the bonfire for purification and renewed energy.
Ritually, you can use mirrors to capture the light of the Sun or the flames of your fire, directing the light where it is needed.
Say, for instance, pointed towards Washington, DC and other halls of power.
Shine the Solstice Light on Systemic Stealth and Secrecy
In this painful time when political shadow and secrecy jeopardize the futures of untold millions, this festival of Light and cleansing Fire is an opportunity to find our own personal courage to thwart these catastrophic decisions and anti-democracy tactics that are being hidden behind closed doors.
My brilliant friend, Lynn Hayes, offers her astrological wisdom about this timing, as well as a meditative, magical suggestion:
The Summer Solstice is a time to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness in the individual. The Sun is newly in Cancer – associated with the Moon, the soul (scarab in ancient Egypt) The Moon, ruler of Cancer, is associated with the harvest and the cultivation of the land.
The Sun aids in this cultivation in our external lives, and the power of the Moon cultivates the emotional body and the Soul. In esoteric studies the “central sun” acts as the point of integration between Spirit and Matter. At the Solstice the Solar and Lunar powers unite to fuel a transformational shift.
To put these esoteric energies to work for you, spend some time in meditation, visualizing the beautiful gold light of the Central Sun in your own heart. Allow the light of this Sun to expand throughout your entire being, filling you with positivity, harmony and grace.
Allow your intentions for peace and blessings to shower your own self, and then to spread throughout your family, your community, and the entire world.
Join me today in stoking and spreading the Solstice fires of peace and purification. Let us open now our souls to bliss, and then follow-through with the actions needed, to our best ability.
For, as Rhea Wolf, another wise astrologer friend of mine notes, joy and horror cannot exist simultaneously. So let our natural joy clear the cobwebs of malingering fears, prejudice, and anger. Aim well the brilliant Solstice power, and let us vanquish the shadows, and burn the weeds of malice, neglect, and apathy. Otherwise, they will surely choke our garden.
Then turn round, and open your fresh eyes and overflowing heart to the radiance of this Midsummer Day.
For if you only will, She shall surely kiss you back.