The Pagan Festival of Litha – The Summer Solstice
Around the 21st and 22nd June, falls the Summer Solstice, or Litha, as we Pagans call it. Summer is at its peak, and this Sabbat honours the longest day of the year. The Western hemisphere of the Earth is closest to the Sun.
The word solstice comes from the Latin words “sol,” meaning Sun, and “stitium” or “sistere,” meaning still or stopped. In ancient times, our ancestors most likely used this day as a marker to decide when to plant or harvest crops, noticing that the Sun switched from a southward direction to a northward in the sky.
What Is The Summer Solstice?
As with all Pagan festivals and rituals, there is no one way to celebrate. This special celebration can be traced back as far as Stonehenge, which is 5,000 years or more, meaning that different cultures around the world now celebrate the Summer Solstice. It celebrates the Sun and is a period of pause when we can bask in its warmth, knowing that the crops are ripening in the fields, the frantic fertile period of Spring has passed, life is filled with abundance. The Solstice was a time of celebration and a break from the norm. Many cultures believed that magic took place on the night of the Summer Solstice, with fairies showing themselves to humans, while evil spirits were dispelled from their lives.
The Summer Solstice in 2020
This year, 2020, the Solstice falls on 21st June. It is an especially powerful one as we have a new moon in Cancer, as well as it being a Solar eclipse – this one being known as “the ring of fire”! This shines the spotlight on matters of the home, family and relationships, possibly emotional karma from the past being brought to the surface.
All solstices are a time of transition – you can feel the change in the air. Although the sun is at it’s peak, there is an air of melancholy as we know that it will begin it’s descent into winter from now on.
Known as Litha, it is considered one of the most sacred sabbats of the year. This is when people gathered (and still gather) at StoneHenge for day and night long celebrations watching the sun align and shine through a certain point in the structure. In its most basic essence, this day is a celebration of the sun and that it is still shining on us. It will go out one day and we should revel in the fact that we were born at this point in the Earth’s evolution. And the solstice also holds deeper nature metaphors for life, fertility, and the cycle of time and seasons. No matter what your view of spirituality or nature, the sun and summertime is always a thing worth celebrating.
Summer Solstice Rituals
Get outside! Take advantage of the longest day and go for walks (preferably without your phone in tow), go to the beach, to any park or forest or even the smallest park can suffice if you’re city locked.
This longest night is a time to celebrate the seasons and set intentions for the months to come. Sit up all night, watch the sun set and then rise again.
Spend time with the flowers. Garden, buy flowers and arrange them all over your home, or explore a botanical garden. Flowers are symbols of the solstice and have magical energies, and are linked to the Fae on this night, as with all the nights of transition!.
The sun is the symbol of the fire element of the solstice. Set your intentions with a fire ritual. Some cultures would light bonfires and dance all night until the flames reduced to embers. Then they would jump over the burning coals to make their wishes for the months ahead. A more toned-down ritual can include lighting a candle, setting your wish or intention, and blowing it out (sound familiar? Even our birthday rituals hold pagan roots). If you are celebrating outside with a fire, burn plants like chamomile, mugwort, st. john’s wort or lavender for good health, protection and healing.
Ground yourself with yoga or meditation. There’s strong sun energy brewing on the solstice, which can feel intense for some. Help ground yourself with meditative or yoga rituals. Go to a class, watch a calming yoga tutorial on youtube, listen to meditation music, and try to do these rituals outside if you can. See my Litha meditation on YouTube.
Love at Litha
Embrace and harness the energy of the sun and all the crazy vibrations brewing today. Great rite sex acts were–and are–a central part of pagan rituals, especially in welcoming of the summer months. This solstice is a symbol of fertility and life, just make sure to practice the safe, consensual, female-empowering kind. Solstice rituals hark back to goddess worship after all.
If there’s a time to cleanse your crystals in sunlight, it’s today. Let the energy of the sun purify your crystals from built-up negative energy in the longest sunlight of the year and then sleep with the crystals near your bed (or held in your palms) when you go to bed at night. For extra grounding, hold onto your black grounding stones like obsidian, black tourmaline, and shungite.
Solstice night is a perfect time for a ritual bath. Light candles, fill your bath with salts and essential oils, even flower petals (or add essential oils to your shower and hang flowers from the shower head), pamper yourself with a beautiful homemade rose petal infused oil.
This is a great time to infuse potions and tinctures for summer. Bake cakes infused with honey (the symbol of the June moon), flower treats, and homemade beauty products made from plants and flowers. Make flower garlands for your hair. Decorate your altar.
What You Can Do This Year;
This year, 2020, has been one of the most strange times of a generation due to the Coronavirus pandemic. We have not been able to work, or see or socialise with our friends, families and clients, and so I have not been able to promote the lovely healing therapies that I give and teach. This time has forced us to reassess our lives, to take stock. I have been busy learning new skills, creating a YouTube channel where I show you how to connect on a deeper level with Mother Earth, and nature, showing you how to make healing remedies. I have been running online healing sessions, and meditation and mindfulness classes, with my next one scheduled for 30th June, for which I still have 3 places available! Now is the perfect time to bring a meditation and mindfulness practice into your life!
Sadly this pandemic has brought many of us face to face with death. I am also a Soul Midwife – a holistic end of life practitioner, and I have now taken my End of Life Skills Course online. This one day workshop is a beautiful day of connection and sharing of stories, taking away some of the taboo and fear of talking about death and dying, as well as learning gentle skills that can help you support someone who is at the end of their lives, I can sign post you to make empowering choices for our own end of life!! By coming face to face with and to terms with our mortality we can truly know how to live!!
I have two more End of Life Skills Workshops booked so far, one on 8th August, and one specifically for pagans booked around the time of Samhain, (24th October) so we can connect with our Ancestors at this time, and talk about some of the issues faced specifically by Pagans in the mainstream community when faced with choices for ourselves and our loved ones at end of life.
I have been busy creating a framework for womens circles, learning how to create and hold space for us where we can come together to be connected and share our stories. This is in readiness for the Pagan Celebrants course that I am doing in September with the Glastonbury Goddess Temple! Watch this space!! And so I thought I would share a ritual and meditation here that you can easily do at home either on your own or with a small group of friends to celebrate and harness the energies of the Summer Solstice.
Summer Solstice Ritual
The summer solstice is the time to bring all you’ve been focusing on manifesting since the winter solstice full circle.
This year June 21 2020 is a solar eclipse new moon in cancer – the solar eclipse occurring at the time of the solstice lends even more power to your magical intentions and manifestations. The new moon is a time to banish all that no longer serves you, and sow the seeds of what you wish to manifest into your life.
Goddesses associated with Litha (summer solstice) are all mother and pregnant goddesses, goddesses associated with childbirth and fertility.
At the solstice the goddess is full, ripe and pregnant. The crops are ripening. The solstice carries similar energies to Beltane, but softer, fuller.
- Share food – make food – have barbecues, brew recipes! This is a great time to infuse potions and tinctures for summer. Bake cakes infused with honey, flower treats, and homemade beauty products made from plants and flowers. Make flower garlands for your hair.
- Build a fire – toast marshmallows – practice fire gazing, meditations where you see things in the flames.
- Sing and dance – Learn Goddess songs
- Make smudge sticks from mugwort, lavender, lemon balm, sage, rosemary, yarrow, motherwort – for healing, cleansing space, protection.
- Crystals; Citrine, amber, gold, anything yellow and golden.
- Make mugwort dream pillows.
Magic happens without and within when women come together to craft, to weave strands of healing and loving vibration energy on the universal web.
All you will need is the following:
- Candle, gold, white, or yellow and a lighter/li>
- Incense of your choice (optional)
- Crystals (optional) e.g. citrine, amber, anything yellow or golden
- Any other ornament or symbol of the summer or nature or anything you wish to include on your altar
- Pen and paper
- Fire proof dish
- A drink (water, elderflower cordial, wine, mead)
This should preferably done outside.
Take a lovely cleansing salt bath or shower beforehand, using whatever oils and salts you feel is right – anything light and bright, orange, lemon, neroli, rose, etc, visualising washing away all negative vibrations from your body and aura, anoint yourself with beautiful essential oils or your favourite body lotion, this is part of the ritual and beginning to build your connection with your inner goddess – put on something comfortable, and if you have it or feel comfortable with the idea, something that you will wear just for magical work (having separate clothes for these things sets the intention and begins to build magical energy, showing you are leaving the mundane and entering the world of magic) but, its not a necessity, its about doing what feels right and comfortable for you.
- Cleanse the space you’re going to be working in, either with aura spray, smudge stick, incense, using sound by singing bowl or clapping.
- Enter our space, light the candle and the incense
- Meditation; Relax, ground, center, protect, you are safe, use whatever guided meditation you wish – the one I’ve done for the Solstice is perfect, but whatever resonates for you.
- Take the paper, and write on one side all the things you wanted to manifest this year, and on the other side, things you want to release, whether that is old outworn ideas, or habits, negative thought patterns or anything else that no longer serves you. and at the same time visualise shedding the things you no longer need, and creating space for all the things you want to bring into your lives, burning the paper over the candle flame, offering it up to the solar energies and the lunar energies, invoking any goddess, god, deity or the universe or whatever energy feels right for you, and dropping the burning paper in your fireproof dish.
- Release the energies up to the universe, take your drink, have some for yourself and pour a little in the dish on top of the paper (return this to mother earth when you can)
- Spend a few moments in silence
- Return awareness to the present moment.
Litha / Summer Solstice Goddess Chant
“Hail to you, Mother Goddess.
You who source the life pulse in all things, you who embody the essence of fullness – the full reflective Moon, the fully blazing Sun, the gloriously fully bloomed flower of Summer.
I call to You, She who births existence out of Her expansive fecundity and power. I offer praise for the sustenance You give us, for the beauty You impart, for the lessons of creation, abundance and amplitude.
It is out of You, that the magic of manifestation and healing and pulsating creation comes through the world and through me in all aspects of my creative life.
Bless you. Bless you. Bless you.
I stand firm and open to be a vessel of embodiment for all that You are.
I hold the container for creation. I stand in power and beauty, channelling your wisdom and your fecundity.
I create Life in all forms, whether through deed, work, children, art, healing or magic.
May I be the purity of the beating drum of life, touching all around me with reverence, authority and love.
I am creator. I am whole. I am Goddess, Mother, Empress, Emperor.
I am the container of this ritual as you are the container for us all.
I am witch
I am maiden
I am mother
I am crone
May the wisdom of this time of year as well as the potency of the full Moon and full Sun fill me, that I might go forth in my world healing, creating and holding space for the sacred in all things.
So it is.”
Summer Solstice / Litha Meditation
Summer solstice is sacred to the mother goddess – the pregnant goddess. The land is ripe, our ideas are coming to fruition.
There is a pregnant pause – the air seems still and heavy – waiting. A time for joy and celebration, but also tinged with melancholy, as we know soon we will be taking the descent into the darkness once more. But for now, we can focus on the feelings and energies that are present right now, we can bask in the warm sunlight, under clear blue skies – we feel supported and nurtured by Mother Nature, the energies are bright and joyful, social and fun – this is a time time for friends and family, social gatherings.
Focus on the solar plexus chakra – this is our centre of power, confidence, self worth, will and our creatice centre, where we can manifest our desires
Place your hands here and take some full cleansing breaths, feel the energy of this space, expanding and growing stronger, brighter, warmer, visualise the area filling with liquid golden light, spreading throughout your whole body; in your mind focus your intention on the following affirmations;
“I respect and honour myself
I believe in myself
I achieve my goals”
Now, connect this energy to your heart space, the place of compassion, love and self-love – feel this space fill with the warm liquid gold light from your solar plexus, know you have the power to be and achieve anything you wish.
Working with and for the highest vibration – extend the sun, the light, and heart energy outwards towards the world, visualise all things, all creatures, everyone you care about, being bathed in this warm energising liquid gold love light.
Spend a few moments basking in this beautiful feeling.
Global Celebrations Of The Summer Solstice – Interesting facts!!
Based on an article by Gaia, here are some ways that ancient cultures around the world and across time have celebrated the Solstice:
Those living in Ancient Greece would use the Summer Solstice to mark the beginning of a new year. It would kickstart the month-long countdown to the Olympics. Not only did the Greeks celebrate Litha, but also the festival of Kronia. During Kronia, they would worship Cronus, the god of agriculture, meaning that all slaves were given the same rights as their owners. This unsurprisingly became a welcomed holiday as slaves were finally allowed to participate in games, festivities and some cases, reverse roles with their owners.
Similarly to Greece, in Ancient Egypt, the Summer Solstice also represented the start of a new year. However, in this case, it would be used to express the coming of the brightest star, Sirius. They believed that Sirius was responsible for floods as not long after the beginning of the Summer Solstice, the Nile would flood its banks and create the season of wealth from the land.
The Ancient Romans commonly celebrated the festival of Vestalia, which honoured the goddess of the hearth (home). During celebrations, married women would visit the temple of Vesta and bring offerings in the hope that the goddess would provide blessings for their families. Due to this, the Vesta also adopted the name of the goddess for women and would protect married women and virginity. When visiting Vesta’s temple, women would also bake a sacred cake which was created using a strict recipe. As part of the recipe, sacred Springwater would be used which would be carried in blessed jugs that prevented it from coming into contact with the Earth.
In Northern Europe, the Summer Solstice was celebrated through bonfires. Pagans believed that the bonfires would help to banish any evil spirits or demon and in return, cultivate magic. When delving deeper into the different Summer Solstice celebrations, you will notice that bonfires become a reoccurring theme across cultures, almost always accompanied by feasting and dancing.
Again, the Celts would gather around bonfires to celebrate the Summer Solstice in the belief that it would enable them to open a path towards the light. One by one, they would launch themselves over the fire to purify their soul and burn away any impurities.
Bonfires were again a popular form of celebrations for Slavic Nations Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus during the Summer Solstice. Couples were encouraged to jump over the fire while holding hands. If they were able to maintain a grip while jumping, their relationship would be considered as strong and striving for success and happiness. If, on the other hand, they lost their grip, they believed that it was a sign that their relationship was doomed. While bonfires were used for couples, rivers would be used for single women. The women would create rings of flowers that would be released into the water. A bachelor would wait on the other side of the river to catch the flowers, in the hope that they would find a partner.
The Summer Solstice was widely celebrated in Native America. During the day, Sioux’s famous Sundance would take place. Tribes would gather for Sun gazing dances around the sacred cottonwood tree, a symbol of the connection between Heaven and Earth. They would use the Bighorn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, which aligned with the sunrise and sunset during the Solstice.
In Ancient China, the Solstice’s are represented by male and female energy. The Summer Solstice was the feminine energy, “yin” and the Winter Solstice was the masculine energy, “yang”. Many different festivities were celebrated on this day.
While other cultures were celebrating during Summer Solstice, the Vikings were tackling more serious matters. Thanks to the longer days during the Summer, the Vikings used the Solstice productively. They would discuss legal issues and resolve disputes. It remained the prime time to conduct trade, shipping, fishing, and of course, raids.
After familiarising yourself with the Summer Solstice celebrations of ancient cultures, it becomes clear that this festival has widely become a time of celebration. It is thought the feeling of joy is down to the increasing sunlight and longer days. The Solstice marks the longest day in the calendar year and the beginning of the Summer.
Sunlight is not only effective in bringing happiness, but also promoting mental and physical health. The sunlight and vitamin D enhances a form of human photosynthesis, instantly improving our mood, immune system capabilities and strength of the bones and heart. The Sun is essential for our physical and mental wellbeing.
Stonehenge and The Summer Solstice
A guide to the Summer Solstice cannot be complete without mentioning Stonehenge. Although the famous monolithic site remains somewhat a mystery, it is clear that the solstices were an impetus in its construction. On the evening of the Summer Solstice, the sunset cleverly aligns with the base stone of the monument and continues to shine brightly through the others.
Many historians have concluded that the construction of Stonehenge was a societal ceremony. While the construction dates back as far as 3,000 and 2,000 BCE, they believe that it was created to bring individuals together and show collective strength to outsiders. Nowadays, during the Summer Solstice, people from across the globe still come on pilgrimages to celebrate at Stonehenge.
Whatever you choose to do this Solstice, make it one to remember – we are living in interesting times – life is not going to be the same for any of us for a long time, make time to honour that, to honour yourself, your loved ones, your friends and the season.
Much love and green blessings