Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Litha - Summer Solstice

Litha, the summer solstice, or midsummer is a pagan holiday celebrated between June 19-22nd. It is the day when the sun is at its greatest height which consequently leads to it being the longest day of the year. From this point on, the sun will start its descent and the nights will slowly start to draw in.

It is also know as a cross quarter day, making it a minor holiday for pagans, Wiccans and witches and is situated between its neighbouring fetes of Beltane (May Day) and Lughnassadh (Celtic harvest festival on August 1st takes its name from the Irish god Lugh). But with such potential for glorious weather and a balmy, warm evening who can resist the charms of a Litha celebration!

Traditionally, Litha was the time of year to harvest your crops as they were believed to be particularly blessed with magical qualities and powers on the actual evening, or on Litha/Midsummer night's eve. However, to preserve the power of your yield and as an offering to the Gods and Goddesses it was considered necessary to leave the roots or stems of the plant intact.

At Litha, also being a fire festival, it was believed you could attract prosperity by jumping over a bonfire (much like Beltane celebrations) which were lit to ward off the evil spirits that were thought to roam freely on this evening. In fact the veil between the natural and supernatural worlds were considered to be at their thinnest and so for extra protection, torches were carried after dark and at the end of the celebrations.

Such wicked associations were unfortunately passed on to witches at this time also, as it became the time of year when they were to be seen on their way to meetings with other evil beings!

But due to the heady and beguiling draw of the hot nights, Litha is of course a time for fertility rites. This is influenced by the festival's role in the cycle of the God and Goddess. At this time the Goddess is newly with child, having united and become married to the Sun God at Beltane. So Litha, along with Beltane, became a very popular occasion for weddings (known as hand fasting) and for celebrating new life.

So what shape did celebrations take and how can you represent this yourself? It is traditional for girls and women to wear garlands of flowers with St John's Wort being the most popular. Customary colours include yellows and gold and bronze to reflect the sun.

The herbs of Litha are mugwort, chamomile, lavender, fennel, St. John's Wort, vervain and wormwood which can be cast and sprinkled onto your bonfire if you are doing dancing or rituals around the flames, or for if you simply wish to have a quiet moment of contemplation and to make a wish.

It is also a time of year to present gifts to the God and Goddess to both honour and thank them for the bounty you have received in the summer months. It would have been for a successful harvest in ancient days of old but there is still much to be thankful for in our modern times - even if it is just for the simple joy of being able to sit outside and feel the sun on your face! You may leave gifts of food such as honey, tokens of a more precious nature in ribbons or coins, or many leave gemstones such as lapis lazuli, tiger's eye or jade which all have associations with the spirit of Litha. Leave your offerings in a place that is special to you and particularly in a place of natural beauty such as a pond or wild area of your garden, burning some cinnamon or sandalwood incense as you leave it.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/2432767

Will you celebrate Litha? I will.

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