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The Cottage Midsummer 2003
Midsummer

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LITHA/SUMMER SOLSTICE

Summer Solstice - Midsummer - Litha (Celtic/Wiccan) - Alban Hefin (Druidic) - Inti Raymi (Incan) - Feast of the Sun (Aztec) - Celtic New Year, according to some - St. John's Day/Festival of Saint John the Baptist (Christian)

As the wheel turns again we find ourselves at Summer Solstice. Litha/Midsummer is one of the Lesser Wiccan Sabbats and is usually celebrated on June 21st, but varies somewhat from the 20th to the 23rd, dependant upon the Earth's rotation around the Sun. The sun is at the height of it power before begining its slide into darkness and we experience the longest day and shortest night of the year. It is important to note that the separation of the light and dark halves of the year have nothing to do with good and evil. Light signifies growth and expansion; dark means withdrawal and rest. Both are necessary. While steamy Midsummer marks the beginning of the Sun's dying strength the season itself is very lush, erotic and sexy. The Sun, flowers and Earth are in full bloom. Hot Midsummer creates a fiery, mature, breathless passion. The God is at the very height of his power as we hit midsummer, at this point of the year the crops are coming along nicely (literally and figuritivly). We have done all of the planting associated with spring and life gets a little easier as we sit back and tend what weve created. Its a time of great celebration before we meet the work ahead as  the harvest comes in. We honor the God and Goddess whose union has blessed us with the fertility to create the projects we began way back at Imbolc.  On Midsummer the veil between the worlds is said to be very thin making this a great time for divination, historically many maidens would divine a husband at this time. Midsummers Eve is said to be a time when fairies abound in great numbers this is a great time to commune with them and leave gifts of sweets outdoors. Litha celebrates abundance, fertility, virility, the beauty and bounty of Nature. Harnessing the Suns great power makes all types of magick appropriate now. We can also harvest the first of our magickal herbs at this time  since they are drenched with the great power of the sun on this longest day of the year. It is a good time for  empowerment, for strong magick and male rituals, for handfastings and communing with Nature Spirits, for workings of culmination.The journey into the harvest season has begun.

Symbolism : Nurturing and love are key actions related to Midsummer. If you haven't yet done so, Litha is a good time to perform your Self-Dedication Ceremony... or - if you have been practicing Wicca for a while - you may choose to perform a simple Re-dedication/Affirmation as a part of your Sabbat celebration.The powers of nature are at their highest point. Great time for herb gathering. Longest day of the year, marks the time when days begin to get shorter again.

Symbols: fire to celebrate the power of the sun, sun wheels, god eyes, mother godess, ripening fruits, sun dials, feathers, and swords/blades.

Deities :  Father Gods and Mother Goddesses, Pregnant Goddesses and Sun Deities. Particular emphasis might be placed on the Goddesses Aphrodite, Astarte, Freya, Hathor, Ishtar, Venus and other Goddesses who preside over love, passion and beauty. Other Litha deities include Athena, Artemis, Dana, Kali, Isis, Juno, Apollo, Dagda, Gwydion, Helios, Llew, Oak/Holly King, Lugh, Ra, Sol, Zeus, Prometheus, Ares, and Thor.

Magick: Healings, growth spells, empowerment spells, and love magick are all incredibly potent at this time

Tools:  drums, rattles, bonfire, mirrors for reflecting the sun or bonfire, Earth circles of stone energy         

Colors : white, red, maize yellow or golden yellow, green, blue and tan.

Stones: all green gemstones, especially emerald and jade. Other appropriate gemstones are tiger's eye, lapus lazuli, ruby,and diamonds.

Animals: include robins, wrens, all Summer birds, horses and cattle. Mythical creatures include satyrs, faeries, firebirds, dragons, thunderbirds and manticores.

Herbs:  chamomile, cinquefoil, elder, fennel, hemp, larkspur, lavender, male fern, mugwort, pine, roses, Saint John's wort, honesty, wild thyme, wisteria, oak, mistletoe, frankincense, lemon, sandalwood, heliotrope, copal, saffron, galangal, laurel ylang-ylang, and verbena. Traditionally, herbs gathered on this day are extremely powerful.

Incense : a combination of any of the following or simply one of them by itself... frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, lemon, pine, jasmine, rose, lotus, or wysteria.

Foods: for Litha include fresh vegetables of all kinds and fresh fruits such as lemons and oranges,  pumpernickel bread as well as Summer squash and any yellow or orange colored foods. Flaming foods are also appropriate,barbecued anything, (barbecues represent the bonfires....) but especially chicken or pork. Midsummer is also the time for making mead, since honey is now plentiful. Traditional drinks are ale, mead, sweet wines, fresh fruit juice of any kind
and herb teas.

Element: fire

Activities:

  • This is a good time for clearing away non-useful energies, and establishing a stable base. Cleansing may include leaping a fire (a low one, please), or putting herbs symbolizing (or charged with) the non-useful energies into a fire. You may leap a fire not only for purification, but to re-energize yourself.
  • Litha is a time for healing of all kinds, and protection rituals. Some work can and should be done alone, but there is room for more social gatherings.
  • Get all your friends together with some drums and rattles, and dance the whole night through. A Spiral Dance would be nice, too. "Sing, Dance, make Music and Love, all in my Presence..."
  • Have children make their own "Green Man" mask. Cut eye-holes in a paper plate. Let them glue on real or construction paper leaves. 
  • Go berry picking. Have the children chose their best berry and throw it back into the berry bushes as they thank the Goddess and the bushes for the fruit. 
  • Make a Wicker Man and burn him in your Litha bon fire
  • Burn a Wreath in the bon fire or try using Wreaths of Vervain and Mugwort which were burned in ancient times at the end of the festivals to burn away bad luck.
  • Many families placed roses on the altar, as this is the Goddess flower for this time of the year. Try this yourself for a beautiful and fragrant decoration.
  • Leave out milk and honey as an offering to the Fae folk
  • Have a mock battle between the Oak and Holly King. Remember that this is part of the cycle and as the wheel turns the Holly King will rise again at Winter Solstice
  • Put a ring of flowers around your cauldron or around a bowl full of mugwort
  • Hang a bundle of fresh herbs out to dry and use them to spice up a Litha feast of cooked summer vegetables
  • Light a white candle and place it in front of a mirror. Say your own Litha prayer over it, and then let it burn out
  • Make a charm to hang around your neck with a seashell
  • Have an outdoor breakfast picnic to welcome the Solstice
  • Stay up and watch the sun come up on the longest day of the year!
  • Draw a picture of the sun at sunrise and sunset
  • Try a fire divination, stare into the coals of your bonfire as it settles or look for forms in the leaping flames.
  • Create a ritual to bring healing and love to Mother Earth
  • Make a Catherine Wheel, or frame of sticks and withies (slender, flexible branches) with flammable material among the spokes. At the climax of your ritual, ignite the wheel and send it rolling down a hillside into a pond or lake. (obviously the hillside should be stone, bare earth, or covered with moist vegetation--no dry grass or underbrush!)
  • Make protection amulets for friends and family dispose of last years in the Litha bonfire
  • Couples who handfasted the year before at Beltane, tend to marry in a more formal handfasting at Midsummer or Lughnasadh